Down to the Knitty-gritty.

It’s getting colder! Maybe you’re thinking of digging out those needles or that crochet hook and starting a new woolley winter project?

May I suggest heading over here and NOT choosing one of these. (Unless of course you fancy knitting or crochetting inedible food items, completely useless objects or freaky voodoo-like effigies of famous people. In which case: ‘Have I got the blog for you!?”)

teacosy

But look if none of that tickles your fancy, maybe just a spot of Yarn Bombing. Always puts a smile on my face 🙂

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alannaokun/yarn-bombing-rocks

Otherwise, checkout the handcrafts section at our library! Myself; I think I’ll stick to scarves and baby blankets 😉

The Casual Librarian  xx

3rd Wednesday Book Club- May 2013- Artreads

For this month’s theme, Artreads, we looked at book covers and book art. What goes into making a good book cover? What attracts us to certain book covers? And the all-important question- do you judge books by their covers?

We were fortunate in that at the same time we were pondering on the answers to these questions, award winning Australian author Kate Forsyth happened to wander into Nowra Library (don’t you love it when authors wander in at precisely the right moment?) Kate was happy to talk about the cover art on her novel Bitter Greens with us in an imromptu interview session in the tea room, moments before she appeared for an author talk in the library upstairs.

Bitter Greens is a re-telling of the traditional fairy tale ‘Rapunzel’, interwoven with the story of the woman who first published the fairy tale, French courtier Charlotte Rose de la Force. Much of the novel is set in the Palace of Versailles, at the Court of the Sun King Louis XIV, and also in Venice, where Petrosinella, the ‘Rapunzel’ character, resides. Also living in Venice is Selena Leonelli, the sorceress who buys Petrosinella for  ‘a handful of bitter greens,’ whose beautiful red hair inspires the artist Tiziano Vecelli (Titian.) For these reasons, Kate explained, the image of a beautiful young woman with tumbling red hair graces the cover of Bitter Greens.

b_bitter-greens

Kate also told us that the novel spans two distinct historical periods — Renaissance Venice and 17th Century France, which both feature in the over design. Venice lies in the distance behind our mystreious red haired lady, while the beautiful scroll work at the edges of the cover  is based on a traditional French wall-paper from the 17th century. The antiquity of the fairy-tale and the artistic essence of the novel is further echoed in the parchment- like quality of the sky above Venice.

“Looks as ancient as the fairy-tale,” according to Kate!

Thanks, Kate!

We also chatted to our book club members this month about how they feel about book covers. Opinions varied. Some people feel that the cover design has little to do with their reading choices, while others are very sensitive about the physical appearance of books they choose to read. One of our members chose books this month based entirely on their covers, and was pleasantly surprised with the new authors she discovered this way. (Personally, I love book covers, especially beautiful fantasy and historical ones, and I love adding new books to my shelves. So much so that I often purchase books I love in both print and e-book formats, so I can have the best of both worlds- my Kindle in my handbag, and shelves of beautiful books at home. Perfect!- Kelly)

Now, for our May reads….

The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy by Barbara Vine
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
Follow the Money by Peter Corris
A Kingdom Beseiged by Raymond E. Feist
A Feast for Crows by George R.R Martin
The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth
Vlad the Impaler: In Search of the Real Dracula by M. J. Trow
The Man Who Lives With Wolves by Shaun Ellis
The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
Harvest (Hyddenworld 3) by William Horwood
Here and Now: Letters (2008- 2011) by Paul Auster and J.M Coetzee
Foe by J.M. Coetzee
Youth by J.M. Coetzee
Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles by David Thomson
Lost Voices by Christopher J. Koch
Affinity by Sarah Waters
London by Edward Rutherford
Mr Vertigo by Paul Auster
Journey to the Stone Country by Alex Miller
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye by Rachel Joyce
Spies by Michael Frayn
An Experiment in Love by Hilary Mantel

What makes a good book? We decided it should be easy to read, use appropriate language to the setting and character, voice and point of view, have intriguing characters, a story that grips you and keeps you turning pages, and, as well as all that, have clarity, credibility and beauty. That’s not too much to ask for, is it?

Happy reading!

Library & Information Week 2013

This week is Library & Information Week, when libraries and information services take the opportunity to showcase their resources, facilities, events, contacts and services. To celebrate, we’ve created a ‘Behind the Scenes at the Library’ display, so you can see exactly how the library operates, as well as the mysterious and magical process library books and items go through before they become available for you to borrow. Come in and have a look!

behindthescenespic   lifecycle

 

Notes from a Well-Read Alice – May 2013

Notes from a well-read Alice logo

Alice is one of our home library borrowers who generously shares her thoughts and reviews with us!  Thankyou, Alice, and happy reading! : )

The Summer Garden by Pauline Simons

‘What joy. A long, riveting saga. From Russia to America -covering several wars- Vietnam included. From childhood to old age- both comedy and tragedy. Torture, explicit sex and the horrors of war are dealt with, but the story is so strong it overrides scenes that would normally cause offense.  Family values are revered and I found it brilliant.’

The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy

‘A good read. I don’t normally choose short stories, even though I know from experience how much re-writing and editing is required (had a writing spate in the 70’s- even sold a few!) but still prefer the flow of a full length novel. Maeve Binchy’s stories are beautifully bound together by her warm portrayal of human nature.’

Cross by James Patterson

‘Psychopathic horror is not on my agenda.’

The Dark Mountain by Catherine Jinks

‘Dark indeed. Only about twenty pages of its 470 give light relief. I found the portrayal of convict flogging too horrific, but I devoured the book and learnt so much. I couldn’t help comparing what I knew of Victorian London from my grandparents to early life in the Southern Highlands. Two extremes. I know now why I never choose an ‘A’ rated book over an orange- dotted one, I prefer to chuckle off to sleep rather than shudder. There were, nevertheless, unforgettable beautiful phrases and passages in this book. Enthralling to the end.’

Campo Santo by W G Sebald

‘This man is praised as a noted writer so I felt inadequate in that I did not appreciate him. I did not even finish the book! To me, he was stolid, a sort of diarist without the light touch of Samuel Pepys. Somewhat like a literary travel writer who goes off at a tangent. Even so, I am pleased I had the opportunity to read what all the fuss was about.’

Alice

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3rd Wednesday Book Club – April 2013 – CrimeReads

This month’s book club theme was Crimereads, and our book clubbers were faced with a veritable banquet of murder and gore- there’s just so much crime fiction out there to choose from. Of course we had our usual mix of genres and tastes as well, along with with our man of the moment, Paul Auster : )

April Reads

Stravinsky’s Lunch by Drusilla Modjeska
The Invisible by Paul Auster
The Music of Chance by Paul Auster
Unplugged by  Eosin Colfer
7 Ways to Kill a Cat by Matias Nespolo
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
The Woods by Harlen Coben
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Portrait of a Killer by Patricia Cornwell
Miracle Cure by Harlen Coben
Listening to Country by Ros Moriarty
Nefertiti Street by Pamela Bradley
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Mr Vertigo by Paul Auster
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James
Murder in the Ashhram: Welcome to the Dark Side of Delhi by Kathleen McCaul
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
The End by Bianca Nogrady
Fetish by Tara Moss
Here and Now- Letters 2008-2011 by Paul Auster and J.M Coetzee
Beyond the Red Notebook Essays on Paul Auster (Penn Studies in Contemporary American Fiction)
The World that is the Book – Paul Auster’s Fiction by Aliki Varvogli
HG Wells- Another Kind of Life by Michael Sherborne
Point Omega by Don DeLillo
Kraken by China Mieville

Most Talked About Reads

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Portrait of a Killer by Patricia Cornwell

‘This non-fiction book is about one of the most horrific and unsolved murder mysteries in history.  Examining old case files and remaining evidence of the 114 year old unsolved murders with 21st century technology, the author has written an exhaustive, alternate and highly probable analysis of the true identity of Jack the Ripper:  a famous actor and artist named Walter Sickert.  Ripper mythology has always been a consuming passion for me.  Many people who have also read and reviewed this exposĂ© clearly feel that parallel times, places and events in Walter Sickert’s life are just coincidence.  That begs the question that after 2 or 3 unexplained and coincidental events happen (and more and more follow), at what point should the evidence be taken seriously and the Jack the Ripper identity and case be considered closed?  The author has convinced me and this book is an eye opener and well worth reading.’ – Elaine

Kraken by China Mieville

‘There is a preserved giant squid in the Natural History Museum in London and curator Billy Harrow is in charge of the visiting tour groups.  One day the squid disappears and so begins the search for it which leads Billy to things he could never have imagined.  Among these are “…warring cults, surreal magic, assassins, mythical gods and the end of the world.”
Only read 136 pages of the 481.  To call this science fiction would be an insult to the genre.  Full of annoying and weird characters as well as foul language, the reader cannot help but think that the end of the world cannot happen soon enough.  Mankind deserves extinction.’ – Elaine

The End: The Human Experience of Death by Bianca Nogrady

‘The author, a freelance science journalist takes us on a journey to understand death from every conceivable angle – spiritual, physical, metaphysical.  From chapters on why we die; palliative care; dying at home  to death and belief, this book may be just what we all need to help dispel our fear of death.   Nogrady covers organ donations, palliative care, diagnosing death, where to die and so on.  Fascinating and informative.’ -Lyn

Listening to Country by Ros Moriarty

‘Ros Moriarty is a white woman married to an Aboriginal man.  This warm and wonderful book tells of an emotional journey Ros takes with women of her husband’s Aboriginal family to perform ceremony  for women only.  Much of this even Ros herself is forbidden to talk about.  The book also tells the story of Ros’s husband, John, and his abrupt removal from his mother at the age of 4.  It also details John and Ros’s  life, their children and the path of their design company Balarinji.  The Balarinji company were the designers of the Aboriginal paintings on the Qantas jets and so much more.  The warmth of the Aboriginal women shines through as does their love for each other, the children and the newcomer, Ros.  They are such forgiving people despite the hardships inflicted by whites and white settlement.  Humour abounds such as the story (pp.58-59) of their elderly neighbor, Glad.  So many of them  are still suffering from the various diseases that lack of good nutrition and housing can cause.  I felt despair when I read of the way the tribe can be isolated in the wet season and often runs out of food, despite requests to the government to improve the road to enable them to get to town to purchase food at ridiculously inflated prices.  Great read.’ -Lyn

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

”R’ is a zombie. He has no name, no memories and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.
Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.
This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…’ (From goodreads.com)

Author Love- In: Henning Mankell

2f5f03596b9a0a7d9362d4_L__V188025836_SX200_“Although my father passed away before my first novel was published I knew he believed in me and was confident that I would have success as a writer.”

Henning Mankell was born in Stockholm 1948. When he was two years old the family moved to Sveg where the father worked as a court judge. The family lived in the court house in Sveg and young Henning much enjoyed listening to the grown-ups discussions on crime and punishment. At age 16 Henning Mankell dropped out of school in order to work as a merchant seaman for two years before settling in Paris. After a year and a half in the French capital, Henning returned to Sweden and got a job as a stagehand in a Stockholm theatre.

In 1973, Mankell released his debut novel, BergsprÀngaren (The Rock Blast). In the same year, he went to Africa for the first time. Ever since he has divided his time between Africa and Sweden and since 1986 he is the artistic leader of Teatro Avenida in Maputo, Mozambique.

In 1991, the first novel in the Wallander series, Faceless Killers, was published. Since, Henning Mankell has written nine more novels in the series, including the novel Before the Frost, about Kurt Wallander’s daughter Linda. Next to the Wallander novels, Mankell has also written more than twenty novels and a dozen children’s and youth books. In addition, he is also one of Sweden’s most frequently performed dramatists.

And, lastly- what genre is Jane Eyre, anyway?

We had some discussion about what genre of fiction Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre falls under. I have always considered it to be a mix of Gothic and Romance, although it’s interesting to see what others think…

Sparknotes.com says Jane Eyre is a “hybrid of three genres: the Gothic novel (utilizes the mysterious, the supernatural, the horrific, the romantic); the romance novel (emphasizes love and passion, represents the notion of lovers destined for each other); and the Bildungsroman (narrates the story of a character’s internal development as he or she undergoes a succession of encounters with the external world).”

Shmoop.com puts dear old Jane into no less than 5 genres: Coming of age, Romance, Gothic, Mystery and Autobiography.

‘We know, that’s five genres – but Jane Eyre is a complex book, OK? Think about it – there’s the whole following-Jane-from-her-sad-childhood-as-an-orphan-to-her-happy-marriage thing, which definitely sounds like a “Coming-of-Age” story to us, especially because at every stage we’re focused on her developing morals and ethics.

jane-eyreJane’s passionate attachment to Rochester definitely makes this qualify as a “Romance” – think of all the times Rochester grasps her and clasps her to his chest. Whew! We get hot and steamy just thinking about it.

Then there are all the supernatural and “Gothic Fiction” elements. Even though most of them get explained away – Bertha may look like a vampire, but she’s just a woman from Jamaica struck with madness – the novel depends on making us feel that creepy, suspenseful atmosphere.

There’s definitely a strong “Mystery” quality here; like a younger version of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple (whose first name, we’d like to point out, is also Jane), Jane gradually unravels Rochester’s seedy past to figure out what’s going on in the attic at Thornfield.

Then there’s the issue of “Autobiography,” which is the subtitle: after all, the novel is called Jane Eyre: An Autobiography. Because this is a first-person novel, our protagonist describes herself as though she’s telling us her autobiography
but since she’s not real, it isn’t exactly one.’ Hmm. Interesting.

Other sources we perused also put Jane Eyre in the Bildungsroman genre – and if you’re thinking ‘huh’ when you see Bildungsroman (so are we) here’s a little definition:  ‘Bildungsroman [is] a class of novel that deals with the maturation process, with how and why the protagonist develops as he does, both morally and psychologically. The German word Bildungsroman means “novel of education” or “novel of formation.” (www.britannica.com)

You don’t say?

: )

Read Watch Play 2013 – April is Crime Reads

This month’s Read Watch Play theme is Crime Reads. Crime fiction is a hugely popular genre here at Shoalhaven Libraries, as well as in other libraries, book stores and lounge rooms all over the world. There are just so many good crime reads to choose from!

This month, you might choose to read something from the Detective fiction sub-genre, which focuses on a detective (professional or amateur) who investigates a crime, often murder. The 1920’s and 1930’s were the Golden Age of detective fiction, when authors like Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham were writing. In Golden Age detective stories, an outsider — sometimes a salaried investigator or a police officer, but often a gifted amateur — investigates a murder committed in a closed environment by one of a limited number of suspects. These days, authors such as Lee Child, Raymond Chandler, P.D James, James Patterson, Ian Rankin and Michael Connolly have taken centre stage.

You might enjoy Police Procedural novels, which portray the activities of the police force – including forensics- as they investigate crime. Police fiction is different to the ‘whodunnit,’ as the identity of the perpetrator is often known early in the story, and the story is often focused more on the techniques and circumstances that lead to their arrest. Popular police procedural authors at Shoalhaven Libraries include Tess Gerritsen, JD Robb, Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwall, Mo Hayder and R.D Wingfield.

Agatha Christie (1890- 1976) crime writer and best-selling novelist of all time.

Agatha Christie (1890- 1976) crime writer and best-selling novelist of all time.

Or Cozy Mysteries-  also referred to simply as “cozies,” might be your cup of tea. This subgenre of crime fiction features crime and detection occurring in small communities with a limited amount of sex, swearing  and violence. The name ‘Cozy Mystery’ was first used in the late 20th century when an attempt was made by various writers to resurrect the Golden Age of detective fiction. The detectives in these stories are almost always amateurs with a close knowledge of the murder-rocked community and its citizens. There is minimal violence and the murderer is seldom a psychopath or a serial killer, but rather a member of the community with motives such as jealousy or revenge. Our library borrowers like to cozy up with Alexander McCall Smith, Donald Bain, Rita Mae Brown and Laura Levine. Interestingly, Agatha Christie is still popular with our borrowers, too!

Psychological Suspense is another popular Crime sub-genre here at Shoalhaven Libraries. Also related to the thriller genre and detective fiction sub-genre, psychological thrillers are mental rather than physical in conflict- that is, the focus is on the process of the minds of the characters, rather than on the plot. Popular authors in this genre include Orson Scott Card, Nicci French, Steig Larsson, Val McDermid and Michael Robotham.

This April, read a work of crime fiction. There’s so much to choose from, and many different sub-genres to explore. There is, quite simply, a dead body for every reader.

And, after you’ve finished reading, why not join the live Twitter discussion on Tuesday April 30 at 8pm AEST.

Use the tags #crimeread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of crimeread, so others can join in the conversation too.

 
http://www.readwatchplay.wordpress.com

3rd Wednesday Book Club March 2013 – Ecoreads/Dystopian Fiction (and zombies!)

We had loads of fun at our March Book Club meeting (well, I did, anyway!) Lots of great book discussion and plenty of enthusiasm and new reading discoveries made for a great meeting. The group’s love affair with American author Paul Auster continues, with more of our members joining this author love-in every month. Check out the list of March reads and you’ll see what I mean…..

March Reads @ 3rd Wednesday Book Club

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Solar by Ian McEwan
The People Smuggler by Robin de Crespigny
The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster
Tiger’s Eye by Ingo Clendinnen
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
55 Scotland Street Series by Alexander McCall Smith
Storm Warning by Billy Graham
The Circle Trilogy (Morrigan’s Cross, Dance of the Gods & Valley of Silence) by Nora Roberts
Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Invisible by Paul Auster
Shoes of the Fishermen by Morris West
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
Timbuktoo by Paul Auster
The Red Notebook by Paul Auster
Leviathan by Paul Auster
Moon Palace by Paul Auster
Music of Chance by Paul Auster
The Hunger Games Trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins
The Tom Hanks Enigma (bio) by David Gardner
Moon Palace by Paul Auster
The Dark Side of Genius: the Life of Alfred Hitchcock by Donald Spoto
Travels in the Scriptorium by Paul Auster
Listening to Country by Ross Moriarty
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire Part 3) by George R.R Martin
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster

See? : )

Most Talked About Reads

marchbookclubtitles

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

“It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”

Luminous, haunting, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles is a stunning fiction debut by a superb new writer, a story about coming of age during extraordinary times, about people going on with their lives in an era of profound uncertainty.

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life–the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

With spare, graceful prose and the emotional wisdom of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker has created a singular narrator in Julia, a resilient and insightful young girl, and a moving portrait of family life set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.’ (from Goodreads.com)

Invisible by Paul Auster

‘“One of America’s greatest novelists” dazzlingly reinvents the coming-of-age story in his most passionate and surprising book to date.

Sinuously constructed in four interlocking parts, Paul Auster’s fifteenth novel opens in New York City in the spring of 1967, when twenty-year-old Adam Walker, an aspiring poet and student at Columbia University, meets the enigmatic Frenchman Rudolf Born and his silent and seductive girfriend, Margot. Before long, Walker finds himself caught in a perverse triangle that leads to a sudden, shocking act of violence that will alter the course of his life.

Three different narrators tell the story of Invisible, a novel that travels in time from 1967 to 2007 and moves from Morningside Heights, to the Left Bank of Paris, to a remote island in the Caribbean. It is a book of youthful rage, unbridled sexual hunger, and a relentless quest for justice. With uncompromising insight, Auster takes us into the shadowy borderland between truth and memory, between authorship and identity, to produce a work of unforgettable power that confirms his reputation as “one of America’s most spectacularly inventive writers.”’ (from Goodreads.com)

Listening to Country by Ros Moriarty

“From a trip made by the author to the Australian desert to spend time learning the secrets and hearing the stories of her husband’s family’s matriarchs, comes a warm, intimate account providing rare insight into the spiritual and emotional world of Aboriginal women.

Ros Moriarty is a white woman married to an Aboriginal man. Over the course of many visits to her husband’s family, she was fascinated to discover that the older tribal women of his family had a deep sense of happiness and purpose that transcended the abject material poverty, illness, and increasing violence of their community—a happiness that she feels is related to an essential “warmth of heart” that these women say has gone missing in today’s world. In May 2006, she had the chance to spend time in the Tanami Desert in north central Australia with 200 Aboriginal women, performing women’s Law ceremonies. Here is the story of that trip and her friendship with these women, as she tells their stories and passes on their wisdom and understanding. Offering a privileged window into the spiritual and emotional world of Aboriginal women, this book is a moving story of common human experience, the getting and passing on of wisdom, and the deep friendship and bonds between women. It carries a moving and profound sense of optimism in the fundamental humanity we all share.” (from Goodreads.com)

Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood

“I tried to read this for our March Dystopian read i.e. “The end of our world as we know it.” At first I quite enjoyed the story, but gradually the horror of what I was reading began to get to me.  I realized it was because the hideous things happening in the novel, even though exaggerated, could very well happen, actually aspects of it were happening now – uncontrolled environmental damage; further class division based solely on income;  science gone mad (that is, experimental science, for example, Pigoons now roamed the landscape freely and were huge and dangerous.  And where did they come from?  Originally pigs were used to grow parts for humans!)  The total insensitivity of people to other people and animals’ suffering; the growth of any type of pornography and “snuff” on the web; the development of a race of people of all colours who had no education, hope etc., all this as a result of a mischievous experiment by a young student.  I just couldn’t finish it and had a few nightmares too!!” – Lyn

Shoes of the Fishermen (The Vatican Trilogy #1) by Morris West

“The pope has died, and the corridors of the Vatican hum with intrigue as cardinals from all over the world gather to choose his successor. Suddenly, the election is concluded – with a surprise result. The new pope is the youngest cardinal of all – and a Russian. Shoes of the Fisherman slowly unravels the heartwarming and profound story of Kiril Lakota, a cardinal who reluctantly steps out from behind the Iron Curtain to lead the Catholic Church and to grapple with the many issues facing the contemporary world.(from Goodreads.com)

The Dark Side of Genius – The Life of Alfred Hitchcock by Donald Spoto

As the title suggests this is an in-depth bio of Hitchcock.  Nothing is left untold.  Within the 555 pages are also comments, reviews and a history of the film industry.

Hitchcock may have been a genius of film, but beneath that he was a sadistic, self-centred, emotionally crippled man.  This begs the question:  “are geniuses deranged and flawed people?”  This is a tough and long-winded read, but it was most enjoyable from the history of film perspective.  FYI the most engrossing and MUST READ part of the book is Chapter 13.  To give you an idea of Hitch’s mindset, 2 of his favourite things were Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” and Hieronymous Bosch’s painting “The Garden of Earthly Delights”.  Another bit of interesting trivia is the fact that Hitch also had one of Walter Sickert’s artworks in his collection.” – Elaine

And lastly…

I think some of our book club members thought I was joking when I talked about the newest hype in the speculative fiction world, Post Apocalyptic Zombie Romance (or, zom rom com). Well, I wasn’t. Click here to read a Goodreads.com list of books called ‘Zombie Romance’  (including such titles as ‘Hungry For You,’ ‘Alice in Zombieland’ and ‘Confessions of a Zombie Lover.’) Also keep an eye out for Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (you can reserve your copy here), which, as well as being number one on the list, has been made into a film due for release here in Australia this week. Looks like fun! – Kelly

The 2012 Aurealis Awards Finalists Have Been Announced! AND one of them is visiting us next month!

large_BRTD_MAY_wild_girl_coverYay!!!! The 2012 Aurealis Awards finalists have been announced! These awards, which were established in 1995 by the publishers of Aurealis magazine and are the premier awards for Australian speculative fiction, aim to highlight the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers.

2012 saw almost 750 entries across 13 categories, which include Science Fiction, Fantasy, Youth, Horror, Children’s Fiction. Each category is divided further into novels and short fiction. Awards are also given to the best anthology and collection, and best illustrated work or graphic novel.  (www.aurealisawards.com). 

There are some amazing titles in the shortlist, and I am so excited to see that it includes two of my favourite reads for 2013 – Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan and Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth. I braved an early morning train trip to Sydney to attend the 2013 NSW Writers’ Centre’s Speculative Fiction Festival last month and hear several authors of the who feature on this list- Kate Forsyth (who coordinated the festival), Juliet Marillier, Garth Nix, Kirstyn McDermott, John Flanagan and Jason Nahrung- talk about how they do their thing. Was that train trip worth it? In a word, YES!

forsyth-kateAnd while we’re on the topic… we’re lucky enough to have Kate Forsyth herself visiting Nowra Library next month. Our Morning Tea with Kate Forsyth will take place on May 1st here at Nowra Library and is sure to be a fascinating session with one of Australia’s top fantasy authors. Copies of Kate’s books, including her newest work, The Wild Girl, will be available for purchase. You can contact the library on 4429 3710 or  Sharpe@shoalhaven.nsw.gov.au to book your place. – Kelly.

The 2012  Aurealis Awards Finalists

FANTASY NOVEL

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan

Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier

FANTASY SHORT STORY

“Sanaa’s Army” by Joanne Anderton in Bloodstones

“The Stone Witch” by Isobelle Carmody in Under My Hat

“First They Came” by Deborah Kalin in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 55

“Bajazzle” by Margo Lanagan in Cracklescape

“The Isles of the Sun” by Margo Lanagan in Cracklescape

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

Suited by Jo Anderton

The Last City by Nina D’Aleo

And All The Stars by Andrea K Host

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY

“Visitors” by James Bradley in Review of Australian Fiction

“Significant Dust” by Margo Lanagan in Cracklescape

“Beyond Winter’s Shadow” by Greg Mellor in Wild Chrome

“The Trouble with Memes” by Greg Mellor in WildChrome

“The Lighthouse Keepers’ Club” by Kaaron Warren in Exotic Gothic 4

HORROR NOVEL

Bloody Waters by Jason Franks

Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott

Blood and Dust by Jason Nahrung

Salvage by Jason Nahrung

HORROR SHORT STORY

“Sanaa’s Army” by Joanne Anderton in Bloodstones

“Elyora” by Jodi Cleghorn in RabbitHole Special Issue Review of Australian Fiction

“To Wish Upon a Clockwork Heart” by Felicity Dowker in Bread and Circuses

“Escena de un Asesinato” by Robert Hood in Exotic Gothic 4

“Sky” by Kaaron Warren in Through Splintered Walls

YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney

And All The Stars by Andrea K. Host

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan

Into That Forest by Louis Nowra

YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY

“Stilled Lifes x 11” by Justin D’Ath in Trust Me Too

“The Wisdom of the Ants” by Thoraiya Dyer in Clarkesworld

“Rats” by Jack Heath in Trust Me Too

“The Statues of Melbourne” by Jack Nicholls in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56

“The Worry Man” by Adrienne Tam

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)

Brotherband: The Hunters by John Flanagan

Princess Betony and the Unicorn by Pamela Freeman

The Silver Door by Emily Rodda

Irina the Wolf Queen by Leah Swann

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)

Little Elephants by Graeme Base

The Boy Who Grew Into a Tree by Gary Crew and Ross Watkins (illustrator)

In the Beech Forest by Gary Crew and Den Scheer (illustrator)

Inside the World of Tom Roberts by Mark Wilson

ILLUSTRATED BOOK / GRAPHIC NOVEL

Blue by Pat Grant

It Shines and Shakes and Laughs by Tim Molloy

Changing Ways #2 by Justin Randall

ANTHOLOGY

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011 edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene

Bloodstones edited by Amanda Pillar

The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume 6 edited by Jonathan Strahan

Under My Hat edited by Jonathan Strahan

Edge of Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan

COLLECTION

That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote by K. J. Bishop

Metro Winds by Isobelle Carmody

Midnight and Moonshine by Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter

Living With the Dead by Martin Livings

Through Splintered Walls by Kaaron Warren

The winners of the 2012 Aurealis Awards and the Peter McNamara Convenors Award will be revealed at a gala ceremony on the evening of Saturday 18 May 2013 at The Independent Theatre in North Sydney.

Senior’s Week & A Well-Read Alice

SW13_NSW_Gov_Banner_320x240_JamesThis week is NSW Senior’s Week, the largest celebration for people over 60 in the southern hemisphere.  Seniors Week is an annual NSW Government campaign presented by Ageing Disability and Home Care (ADHC) which provides seniors with opportunities to be active and healthy, independent and recognised for their community involvement. The theme for NSW Seniors Week is Live Life! and reflects the celebration of life, achievements and community engagement. With over 900 free or specially discounted events held for seniors across the state, there is something for everyone to enjoy. (from www.seniorsweek.com).

Here at Shoalhaven Libraries Nowra we have joined the Senior’s Week celebrations by hosting free computer classes for seniors. The classes, which focus on basic internet use and searching,  have been a great success, with each class fully booked. The seniors who attended have also shown an interest in learning more about using social media tools – such as Twitter and Facebook- and tablets and other devices. It’s always exciting to see older generations jumping on board the technology train and learning new skills; I’m sure anyone who works in a library will agree with me when I say that watching people of any age master new ways of finding information – and the happiness and pride that comes with it-  is one of the best parts of the job.

Notes from a Well-Read Alice

We are also celebrating Senior’s Week by introducing a new blogger to the Readers’s Haven team, Alice. Alice is a Shoalhaven Libraries Home Library Service user who, as well as being a voracious reader, writes lovely reviews and reflections on the books she’s been reading. We like her reviews so much we thought we’d share them here on the Readers’ Haven. Thankyou Alice for allowing us to do so, and welcome to the Readers’ Haven!

Notes from a well-read Alice logo

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith

Alice says: “The precise, almost antiquated dialogue of gentle Botswana people is charming. The description of the background is so good one alsmost feels the location is familiar. Mma Ramotswe is proud of the propoertions of her traditional figure, which would send many Australinas rushing to Jenny Craig. The tricky cases are solved by the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency with unpredictable and amusing results. As usual, A.M. Smith excels, but I do prefer his Scotland Street series.”

Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell

Alice says: “When I saw ‘Patricia Cornwell’ I immediately thought of the British author who writes delightful historical fiction, usually set on the south-east coast of England. Was I wrong! This American forensic scientist writes competently about her profession in detail. A body had eyes gouged out, sockets filled with sand and lids superglued back together again. Flesh has been hacked off with a serrated knife. Afterwards, detectives sit calmly together over a coffee discussin the finer points. As I’, an insomniac who reads into the ‘wee small hours’ I was too squeamish to carry on!”

At Home with the Templetons by Monica McInerney

Alice says: “An enjoyable read, set in both Australia and England. Relationships between two families covering tragedy and love with believable emotion. Events were unpredictable with good background descriptions. Nearly 600 pages- a heavy volume, light in content.”

Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin by Nancy Atherton

Alice says: ‘When I saw the title I thought this book would be a tea-cosy, slippers, granny-type narractive (even though I am a great-grandmother, I tend to forget it). However, it was full of charming people- no violence, witty and funny. It had lots of charming tea-cosy components: small twin boys, horses, matchmaking, a mystery set in England. I loved it.”

Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark

Alice says: “Marred by too many characters, who were bland. As a ‘successful writer of 27 suspense novels,’ there must be something here I missed. A pity, for the mystery was well-plotted. Throughtout the whole volume there wasn’t one smidgen of humour. Miserable.”

La’s Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith

Alice says: “Saved the best till last. AMS is now a top favourite author along with Henning Mankel. The third book of his I’ve enjoyed, and each were completely different. Anthony Burgess has a similar ability to diversify with skill. AMS writtes of the London Blitz with exactitude; I was there. La and her orchestra are the pivotal point. So moving, I mentally cheered them on. Alexander McCall Smith also writes believably from the point of view of a woman. I found myself laughing out loud at times, which is a big bonus.”

Watch out for more of Alice’s notes next month. And don’t forget, we love to hear about what you’ve been reading, so if you’d like to share your reviews with us, please do!

Happy reading!