Staff's Favourite Reads - August 2021

Our lovely team are back with some more reviews and recommendations! Here’s what kept them all engrossed throughout the month of August.

Click here to see July’s list

One Hundred Days by Alice Pung

Chosen by Sue Walters, Team Leader

This is the latest book by award winning Melbourne writer, Alice Pung. It is a tense and claustrophobic journey from the perspective of Karuna, a naïve sixteen-year-old Chinese Filipino Australian girl. Despite her overprotective mother’s best efforts, Karuna falls pregnant and finds herself trapped in their home on the 14th floor of a housing commission building. As she is unable to support herself, she has no alternative but to continue living with the suffocating love and superstitions of her single mother.

We share in her joy and see the strength she develops with new motherhood and cheer her on as she battles to keep her baby and challenge her mother’s outdated cultural beliefs. I found the mothers behaviour appalling and I worried about Karuna’s ability to cope with all the pressures she faced.

A powerful story of love and control.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Chosen by Kate Davis, Customer Experience Officer

Red or Silver – this is how the Kingdom of Norta is divided. If you bleed Silver, you are elite, in possession of elite powers. If you bleed Red, you are nothing. Mare Barrow, a Red, doesn’t remember a time before this division. But in an instant, everything is different. She is different. Mare is Red but she has powers. Now, she threatens everything. Hidden in plain sight, Mare works with the Red resistance, knowing that even one wrong move could be her end. Mare’s world is full of betrayal and lies, and she must navigate it all. This novel is rich with world-building, is well-moving and easy to read, and has so many twists that I promise you won’t see coming! Even better, it is the first in a completed 4 book series, which means no waiting for the next release!

The Castaways by Lucy Clarke

Chosen by Beth Luppino, Customer Experience Manager

This is the lastest novel from thriller and suspense writer Lucy Clarke. I was totally absorbed in this plot – Clarke has a way of presenting likeable, believable but flawed characters that mean you just can’t look away. This story is written from two perspectives, and two different time periods. There is a mystery that is gradually explained as the story of the past is revealed. I love the way Clarke creates characters that are so real and relatable and leave you asking yourself ‘what would I do in this situation?’ I highly recommend this as a page-turner you can easily escape into for hours…

The Forgotten Sister by Caroline Bond

Chosen by Jenny Bremner, Customer Experience Officer

This one is a real page turner and I was hooked right from the moment I read the quote on the front cover:

“To lose your family is heartbreaking. To be forgotten by them is unforgivable”

Cassie is a bright and beautiful girl who has lived in a safe, supportive and loving household with her adoptive parents and little sister for a long as she can remember. At 17 however her cookie cutter world begins to crumble. She falls for a boy her parents would not approve of and secretly embarks on a relationship with him. This inevitably leads to a trip to the doctors to get birth control where so many questions about her medical history remain unanswered as Cassie knows nothing about her birth parents. She sets out to find her birth mother and discovers that her adoption was not as simple as her parents have led he to believe and that they have infact been hiding a very disturbing secret from her. Cassie’s search for her true identity ultimately threatens to tear her entire family apart and destroy everything she has held dear.

This is a carefully crafted and compelling story of a young persons need to find their true identity and the importance of telling the truth or more correctly the devastating consequences of not telling the truth.
I think fans of Jodi Picoult and Jo Jo Moyes would enjoy this book.

I give it 4 stars!

The Party by Robyn Harding

Chosen by Jess Henderson, Customer Experience Officer

This story follows the complicated lives of a group of teenagers navigating their way through high school social hierarchy and the tense lives of their parents, each doing what they must to protect their child.

Jeff and Kim, the ideal successful and wealthy family, decide to throw their seemingly innocent daughter Hannah a sweet 16th birthday party at their home. After a terrible accident occurs at the party, chaos ensues flipping Jeff and Kim’s perfect world upside down and drives a wedge between Hannah and her friends. Secrets exposed, lies uncovered and friendship, jealousy and rivalry soon drag down the teens and their parents into a downward spiral changing their lives and relationships forever.

I liked this book because it demonstrates the lapse of morals and judgments we go through during stressful times in our lives and just how far we might go to protect not only the ones we love but also our own reputation. It also does well in exposing the secrets of what really goes on behind closed doors with even the most “perfect” family. The book has a general air of mystery and gossip to it and left me eager to know what secrets might be exposed next, who in this plot is the bad guy and how the story was going to end!

Husna’s Story: My Wife, The Christchurch Massacre and My Journey To Forgiveness by Farid Ahmed

Chosen by Susan Cilia, Customer Experience Librarian

Farid Ahmed and his wife Husna had been members of Christchurch’s Muslim community for more than 20 years. They were very well respected and did a great deal of good work. Husna was a selfless person and always put others ahead of herself, even at the expense of her own health.

On the Friday of 15th March 2019, Farid and Husna went to attend their usual Friday worship. Farid was bound to a wheelchair and went to sit in a side room of the mosque. Husna was in another room with the women and children. Not long into the service the sounds of gunshots were heard.

What happened in the next few hours was truly horrifying. Farid retells the details of that day and the weeks that followed. He explains how Husna’s example of selflessness and forgiveness and the power of love, peace and faith can help to cope with even the worst of tragedies.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Chosen by Courtney, Branch Manager

For those who may be in lockdown and need a pick me up (or even if you’re just looking for a good book) I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It’s just brightened my week! Very uplifting and funny especially for a murder mystery novel. Unpredictable, funny, clever and what fabulous characters. Give it a read.

The second book in this series, The Man Who Died Twice, is set for release on September 14, so keep an eye out for that one as well!

The Last Of The Apple Blossom by Mary-Lou Stephens

Chosen by Janine Kimberley, Customer Experience Officer

Such an engaging and interesting family story.  Catherine Turner is a young schoolteacher in Hobart and comes from an apple growing family in the Huon Valley. Her dream is to take over the orchard that her family runs when her father retires. He does not agree and wants her younger brother to take over. Her younger brother has no desire to take over the property and wants to study to be a Vet.

Tragedy strikes when bushfires rip through the area leaving devastation in their wake, taking the life of her brother. She immediately resigns her position and returns home to help her family. It’s also the story of Catherine’s best friend Annie and her husband and family who live on the next property. Annie is originally from a well to do Tasmanian family but has been shunned by her parents as she was pregnant and married out of her class. She is now the mother of 6 children (5 boys and 1 girl) finally getting the much-wanted daughter after 5 boys. She is extremely protective of the little girl and will not let her out of her sight. Dave’s best friend Mark also is living on the property with his young son to help them out after the devastating bushfires. They are all harbouring secrets which threaten to change their lives forever.

This book is based on real life events that occurred in the 1960’s in Tasmania when the orchards were burnt, and the author did a great job of describing what farmers went through at that time and the lack of support from the government which forced many to have to cut their losses and sell up. It also highlighted the 1970’s when hippies came to Tasmania wanting a new life and happy to live off the land.

I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel, and it is always great when you learn something while reading a book, I had no idea that Tasmania went through these terrible times and even now their export market has been cut and people have had to diversify their crops to make ends meet.

Trust by Chris Hammer

Chosen by Alex, Library Assistant

Chris Hammer shifts location to Sydney for the third in his series featuring journalist and true crime writer, Martin Scarsden, now in a long term relationship that has worked out well for him with single mother, Mandalay Blonde and her toddler, Liam, in Port Silver. However an abduction will once again throw Martins world into chaos. Martin and Mandalay must learn to accept their past and face their demons once and for all, learning the true value of trust in the process.

The best in the series by far. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the different perspectives and locations that it explored. The change in setting from rural Australia to suburban Sydney really suited the text as it allowed for a whole different unique set of circumstances and situations to occur.

The building-up of such a complex chain of events in a coherent way simply astonished me and by the end the plot was thoroughly gripping. I also really enjoyed the connections that were still had with the previous novels in the series, while also putting in some new characters for good measure.

The way that Hammer was able to also give Mandy such a key role in the plot was awesome, as it really helped build up her character and really demonstrates how Mandy is a complex being, is not just a sidekick to Martin and someone that is just there to give meaning to the events occuring.

Overall, an absolutely fantastic addition to the series. Highly recommended.

The Sound Of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

Chosen by Maddison, Library Assistant

The book follows Antonio Yammara – an unintended victim of the violence of the Columbian drug wars. His newfound friend, Ricardo Laverde, is abruptly shot dead in the street. In seek of answers, Antonio delves deep into the past, and unravels the twisted truths of the cocaine trade – and the livelihood of his friend. But is living in the past really living?

The book bounces from one catastrophic event to another, and ultimately erupts as Antonio bears the consequences of his stagnancy; living in the past is unsustainable, but he cannot move forward without first moving backwards.

I liked this book; it offered a unique viewpoint from the damaged eyes of Antonio. However, he has to have been one of the most flawed protagonists I’ve ever read about. No spoilers, but I suffered severe second-hand embarrassment very frequently throughout this read. I did enjoy majority of the other characters though, so since the book is dominated by flashbacks of the lives of others, Antonio’s absence suited me.

I liked that the book is separated into six segments that are distinctively titled, because finding the source of the titles within each section was a bit like a scavenger hunt. It tested the extent to which I was comprehending the novel, and reinforced key ideas, and thereby enriched the reading experience.