Monday, June 18, 2018

Golden Man Booker Prize Shortlist

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded every year. The novel must be originally written in English and published in the United Kingdom. The announcement of the contenders each year for the prize is highly anticipated and it is a mark of distinction to have a novel make the short list or even be nominated for the long list. Winning the Man Booker Prize customarily assures the author with international success.

This year, the Man Booker prize celebrates it's 50th year as  Britain's leading prize for Fiction.
To mark the anniversary, The Golden Man Booker Prize has been created. A team of 5 who hold the titles of author, novelist, writer, editor, poet and broadcaster have each chosen a single title spanning the five decades. These specially appointed judges were asked to consider the 51 previous Man Booker Prize winners.
In May, the 'Golden Five' shortlist was announced which includes the following titles:

1971.....In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul represents the first decade of the prize.
The author also received the Nobel Prize for literature and is the oldest living winner of the prize.
This title is available as an Ebook in our collection.

1987.....Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively was chosen to represent the 1980's.
The author was twice shortlisted for the prize before her win with Moon Tiger.
We currently hold many titles in our collection from Penelope Lively both online, in print and audio books.

1992.....The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje was selected to represent the 1990's.
The novel was adapted to an Oscar winning film.
We have the novel in our collection in print or Ebook. We also have the film available to borrow.

Wolf Hall2009.....Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel was chosen as the prize winner from the 2000's.
 Hilary Mantel is the only female author to win the prize to date. The novel was adapted into an award winning mini series.

You can enjoy this prize winner through print or online. We also have the mini series available to borrow.

Image result for lincoln in the bardo high res book cover
2017.....Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is the most recent winner of the prize.
George Saunders is well known as a short story writer, Lincoln in the Bardo being his first full length novel.

The Golden Man Booker Prize shortlist winner will be announced on 8th July 2018. 
Watch this space for details of the big winner!

Have you read any or all of these prize winners? Who do you think should be the winner? 
Let us know with your comments below

Friday, June 8, 2018

June Staff Picks

Our latest selection of what staff are reading and recommend at the Hills Shire Libraries is available  now. There are some great suggestions for good reads,  just follow the links below for the full list of books and begin your reading feast now, whether you prefer to read electronic or paper you're sure to find something great here.

Ebook June Staff Picks

Sypdus Catalogue June Staff Picks

"It was a really good book, I like her writing style and enjoyed the story being told in alternating chapters from the sisters voices.  Interesting that this is the first novel in print, but that she’s had many others as ebooks."

"Can’t get enough of his biographical writing!"

Don't forget you can leave a comment below and let us know what you thought of our latest staff  picks.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Recommended Reads

A staff member at the Hills Shire Library Service has recently finished two books that definitely sound like a great next read. 

Below is what she had to say:

Holly Ringland is an Australian author who spends her time living between Australia and the UK. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a beautiful story, about the triumph of the human spirit over tragedy and adversity. Alice starts off as a little
girl, a victim of family domestic violence. When she loses her parents she is sent off to her grandmothers to live on a flower farm where she discovers the
family language of flowers. We follow Alice through her childhood until she grows and starts to heal from the trauma of her childhood. After the discovery that her
grandmother had lied to her she flees the family home and goes on a journey of self discovery.
A book that just grabs you. It is truly one of the best books I have read this year.

  • If you are inspired to read either or both of these great books in our library collection we'd love to hear what you thought by leaving a comment below.

The Sisters Song is Louise Allan's debut novel. Louise is an Australian author, who lives in Perth with her husband and four children.
She was practising as a GP when she decided to follow her passion for writing and produced this wonderful novel.

The Sisters Song is set in Tasmania starting in the 1920's, and follows the lives of two very different sisters and their respective families. Each sister seems to yearn for what the other has. The story focuses on motherhood, dreams and family something so many of us can relate to. With all the twists and turns I just could not put this book down. A thoroughly enjoyable book, and if this is the sign of Louise's work then bring on the next novel.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Friends of The Hills Library

The Friends of the Hills Library is a community group formed in 1994, whose role is to promote and support The Hills Shire Library service.
Each month, the Friends meet for book club at 10:30am, at Castle Hill Library. This month they have kindly provided us with a multitude of Historical Fiction reviews and we have included a selection below.
For more information about the Friends and how you could become a member, see Friends of The Hills Library

The White Queen By Philippa Gregory
This is the first book in the series of The Cousins' War, set amid the disorder and intrigue of the Wars of the Roses. It is seen through the eyes of Elizabeth, who becomes the White Queen when she marries Edward IV. Well researched and very readable.

The Red Queen By Philippa Gregory
The Red Queen is the story of Margaret Beaufort, mother to the eventual first Tudor King Henry VII of England. Margaret was married at 12 and had her son at 13 years old.  Well written from Margaret’s point of view.  A scary believer in ‘God’s will’ as long as that coincided with her ambition for her son’s destiny.This is
a story of survival in a harsh world.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

The Lilac Girls By Martha Hall Kelly
Based on real people and events this compelling story spans more than twenty years from September 1939 with the beginning of World War II through to 1959. Told from the perspective of three women - a New York socialite, a Polish teenager and a young German Doctor, we learn the story of the Rabbits, a group of women who underwent experimental surgery at Ravensbruck, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Rich with historical detail the novel examines sisterhood through the dark lens of the Holocaust.
Orphan Train By Christine Baker Kline
This book tells the story of two unlikely people becoming friends. One, a 91-Year-old survivor of the Orphan Trains which ran in America from 1854-1929. The other, a 17-year-old girl in 2011, a casualty of foster homes and their isolation and hardships, bring them together. Fascinating and a good read.

The Secret River By Kate Grenville
Fictional story closely based on Kate Grenville’s ancestor Solomon Wiseman (of Wiseman’s Ferry).  William Thornhill a bargeman on the River Thames is sentenced to death after stealing from his deliveries.   Sentence is reduced to being sent to the prison island of Australia and the colony in New South Wales.   Married to a smart, feisty woman called Sally he eventually wins his freedom and buys a boat and sets up a business on the Hawkesbury River.   He settles on land upstream on the Hawkesbury, the only problem is, the area is occupied by the Darug people and they are prepared to defend their land.  Atrocities occur on both sides.  It is, at times a harrowing and cruel story of the early history of Sydney and the Hawkesbury region.

Before We Were Yours By Lisa Wingate
From the 1930's to 1950's, a woman named Georgia Tann, who ran the Memphis Tennessee Children's Home Society, stole poor children from their families and newborn babies from single mothers and sold them to celebrities, politicians and others who could afford them.  It was all done under the guise of helping orphaned and abandoned children, but it was actually human trafficking. This book is a fictionalised account of a true story and set of events. Avery Stafford, the central character in the book finds a puzzling photograph that leads her into an ever more confusing story of secrets and lies inside her upright, respected family. What follows is a heart-warming story of love, betrayal, memories and staying true to your heart. 

The Ides of April By Lindsey Davis
The Ides of April is the first in the Flavia Albia mystery series. She is the adopted daughter of the famous classical Roman informer Marcus Didius Falco, who has retired, and Flavia has taken over the family business of “investigation”. The inspiration of the book comes from the historian Dio Cassius, who reported how, in the reign of Domitian, some people made it a business of smearing needles with poison and then pricking people at random. Flavia’s investigation with all its twists and turns makes this a very enjoyable and easy read. 

The Bear and the Nightingale By Katherine Arden
The bear and the nightingale are demon twin brothers. This is a very different portrayal of good versus evil. A family tale set in medieval Russia, the reader quickly becomes emotionally involved. Are the creatures evil demons or protective friends? Do they really exist or are they only in the minds of the insane? There is no down time in this easy to read story which engages immediately and keeps the reader involved to the very end. This is a stand-alone book but also the first of a trilogy. Highly recommended.
A huge thank you to our Friends of the Hills Library for providing these wonderful reviews!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Tim Winton - March Best Seller

Tim Winton's first novel in five years has topped the list for bestsellers in March.  However you don't have to buy when you can borrow it from our libraries.

Winton's latest book is a story about survival, solitude and unlikely friendship.  Jaxie Clackton's beloved mum is dead and Jaxie dreads going home to a father who bashes him without mercy.  When his life is suddenly stripped down to keeping alive and left with only the things he can carry, Jaxie sets out across the vast saltlands to find the only person left in the world who understands him and what he still dares to hope for, a journey that only a dreamer or fugitive would attempt. The saltlands is a place that harbours criminals and threatens to kill those who haven't reckoned with its hot, waterless vastness.  This is a story about what it takes to keep hope alive in a parched and brutal world.

We'd love to hear what you thought about this title or which other of Tim Winton's novels you'd recommend by leaving a comment below.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Page to Screen

Our Page to Screen this month is
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.
This novel has been adapted to the screen,
directed by Steven Spielberg.


Ready Player One is the first novel from Ernest Cline. The novel takes place in the year 2045, where the world has turned into a very bleak place. Wade Watts is a teenager living in this grim life. The only time Wade feels any excitement or joy is when he is plugged into OASIS, a virtual reality world. In OASIS, Wade spends his time studying the puzzles hidden within its virtual confines. He dreams of finding three keys that were hidden by the deceased creator of OASIS, James Halliday, who was the world's richest man. Whoever finds the three keys will inherit his fortune.

Wade is desperate to find the keys, but his quest pits him against other players willing to kill to gain the ultimate prize. Will Wade survive?
Or will he have to confront the real world he is so desperate to escape?
If you grew up in the 80's or enjoy video games and popular culture, then this is the book for you!

The library has Ready Player One available as an EBook and in print.We also have Armada available by this author.

Read the book? Seen the film? Let us know your review with a comment below!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Staff Review

 Wondering what library staff are reading in 2018?
One of our avid historical fiction readers at Vinegar Hill Memorial Library has provided us with our first staff review for the year.
 The novel reviewed is Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.

Alias Grace is based around a true crime committed in mid 19th century Canada.
Young maid Grace Marks and fellow servant James McDermott were convicted of murdering their employer and his mistress. While McDermott was hanged for the murders, Grace was imprisoned and there was much speculation and sensationalism surrounding her involvement in the crime. Was she mad? Was she a murderess? Or was she an innocent victim?

Margaret Atwood has created a fictionalised story around the events. Set several years after the crime, psychiatrist Dr Simon Jordan begins talking with Grace in an attempt to determine her innocence. As she recounts the events of her life Dr Jordan becomes more fascinated by Grace, and more uncertain as to the truth.

I really enjoyed this book, especially as it was based on a real life event. Although we will most likely never know the real truth about Grace’s involvement in the murders, it was a compelling story and I recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction and mysteries.
Have you read Alias Grace? Or another novel by the prolific author, Margaret Atwood?
Add your review with a comment below!


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Australia Day - Winner Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Fiction

Australia Day is a collection of stories by debut author Melanie Cheng.

Melanie writes about the young, old, rich , poor, married, widowed, Chinese, Lebanese, Christian, Muslim. The one thing regardless of where we come from, that we all share, is the need to feel we belong.  These stories look at themes of love, loss, family and identity while also looking at human connection in a globalised world.

  • Winner, Victorian premier's Literary Award for Fiction, 2018
  • Longlisted, Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction, 2018
  • Shortlisted, Readings Prize for new Australian Fiction, 2017
  • Winner, Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished manuscript, 2016

What else is new in biographies?

A refugee twice, prodigious talent, steely nerve, huge challenges, poverty, racism, surviving her father, Damir Dokic, the tennis dad from hell, by 18 included in the world's top 10, by 19 she was number 4 and then her heart breaking fall from the top.  Her gusty honest will leave you in awe, her fight back from darkness will uplift you. Most of all her will to survive will inspire you.

Recently retired after 25 years of service with the FBI and expert in criminal profiling and behavioural science, John Douglas can now tell his story as the leader of the Investigative Support Unit, a small and elite group that confronts one of our deepest fears, the fear of evil lurking among us. He has hunted some of the most notorious and sadistic criminals of our time. He has confronted, interviewed and studied dozens of serial killers and assassins for a landmark study to understand their motives, to get inside their minds. Douglas ushered in a new age in criminal profiling and behavioural science.

These are just a couple of the great new titles you can find in our collection.

Let us know what you are currently reading and what you think about it by leaving  a comment below.

Victorian Premier's Literary Award Winner 2018

Sarah Krasnostein has won the prize for Literature for her first book, 

The Trauma Cleaner: One woman's extraordinary life in death decay & disaster.

This is the biography of Sandra Pankhurst, husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife...

Sandra was raised in violence and excluded from the family home but just wanted to belong. Sandra believes her clients deserve no less.  Sarah Krasnostein has watched as Sandra Pankhurst brings order and care to lives of desperation, to the living and the dead. A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years, a man who bled quietly to death in his lounge room, a woman who lives with rats, random debris and terrified delusion.

This is the story of the affirmation that as isolated as we may feel, we are all in this together.

  • Winner, Victorian prize for Literature 2018
  • Winner, Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Non Fiction 2018
  • Longlisted, Indie Book Award for Non Fiction 2018

You can find this title on our library catalogue.

We'd love to hear about your favourite biography - leave a comment below

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Vinegar Hill Memorial Library Book Club

Is one of your New Year's resolutions to read more widely and to join a book club? You can fulfill that wish by joining the Vinegar Hill Memorial Library Thursday evening Book Club!

The group meets monthly on the second Thursday of the month from 7:30pm. The library is open until 9pm on Thursday evenings, so you can browse the shelves before or after the meeting.
The Book Club is a wonderful way to meet informally and discuss novels.
A different novel is chosen and discussed each month, with a list of upcoming titles provided well in advance.

The first book read this year was The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.

The group have given this novel 4 out of 5 stars ☆★★★★

We asked the Book Club to tell us what The Alice Network was all about, and they provided the following outline-

"The Alice Network is about girl power in early 1900. Women are successful spies and the story tells how the atrocities of war affect them throughout their life"

They also provided us with the following reviews of the novel-

"I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was a good commentary on the female spy networks of the World Wars, while still being fictional. It gave you enough teasers of actual events to want to know more. A good read about strong women!"

"I liked the books unexpected outcome. I would recommend it"

A big thank you to our book Club, it does sound like an intriguing read! The novel discussed next month is Ada by Kaz Cooke
We look forward to meeting new members at our next meeting Thursday 8th March 2018.

 Have you read The Alice Network? Leave your review below.