Autumn by Ali Smith

Amy AutumnAutumn is a little hard to explain. It’s the first of four, seasonal, ‘state of the nation’ novels. It’s about Britain, after Brexit, and how the western world is closing itself off from kindness and sharing. It’s about strong friendship, the transformative power of love, and about art. It’s clever, thought provoking, moving and sent me to Google to learn about Pauline Boty (British pop artist).

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Truly madly guilty by Liane Moriarty

Amy Truly Madly GuiltyLiane Moriarty is really great at writing about suburban Sydney-siders. There’s a strong sense of place, and the characters are real; frustrating, amusing, familiar. Truly, Madly Guilty is about three families who gather for a BBQ one afternoon and something terrible happens that has a negative impact on them all. The events of that afternoon are (very) slowly revealed over the book and the surprises are many. Though very good at pointing out people’s foibles, Moriarty is a hopeful writer, and this book is thought provoking, compelling and with a satisfying ending.

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The husband’s secret by Liane Moriarty

Amy The Husband's secretLiane Moriarty writes great characters; real, raw, ridiculous, petty, and messy. Suburban Sydney folk, going through life exploring the impact of past mistakes, the nature of marriage, depths of character in the face of trials and how people differ from how they are perceived, by others and themselves. If you like experiencing the deep trouble people can make for themselves and others, in a safe environment when you know it will, largely, come right in the end, then this is for you!

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Fava beans for breakfast by Suzanne Salem

Fava beans for breakfastAn immigrant story that covers dreams and hopes, secrets, friendships and community attitudes. Life in a small coastal town is described well – with all the secrets, both shared and hidden that can exist there. Suzanne Salem’s use of language gave Nayeema’s story authenticity. I loved her journey to find a place where she felt she belonged. I also loved that the story was set in the seventies with coastal development, strikes, communes and fashion all playing a part in the story. This was an enjoyable story.

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My Italian bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

Cynthia My Italian bulldozerThis was a little slice of Italy. When food writer Paul arrives in Italy to finish his book and finds his car rental booking nonexistent, he finds himself hiring a bulldozer instead. It is the characters that Paul meets that make this story, more than the fact that he is driving around Italy on a bulldozer. They are quirky and interesting and make for a story that is a little off centre but enjoyable.

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Olmec obituary by L.J.M. Owen

caitlin-olmec-obituaryApple tea, a phrenic library and flash backs to Aztec life 3,000 years ago, this debut novel by Australian author LJM Owen is written for those who love crime, history or contemporary literature.

Olmec Obituary is the first in a series about Dr Elizabeth Pimms – Intermillenial Sleuth (the second was released in November 2016). The first few chapters start off slow, but the plot, for me, was promising enough to persevere. Described by the author as a cross between Bones and Midsomer Murders, Elizabeth is an archaeologist and librarian who solves really cold cases.

When Elizabeth moves back to Canberra from her dig in Egypt after her father dies suddenly, she takes up work in the Mahoney Griffin library (a fictional setting). Continue reading

Because you’ll never meet me by Leah Thomas

Because you'll never meet me by Leah ThomasA debut novel for Leah Thomas this story is a very unusual exploration of a friendship between two teens who will never meet. Contact with electricity sends Ollie into debilitating seizures, while Moritz has no eyes, a heart defect and is kept alive by an electronic pacemaker. Written as series of letters, the story plays with the emotional connection between the two boys as they try to deal with adolescence and the revelation of their shared past, a past filled with experimentation at THE LAB. This book, although contemporary in nature, has elements of evolving supernatural powers, so you do need to sacrifice logic. If you like this you might like quirky literary quality of Mosquitoland by David Arnold and  Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. Students might also like to consider this book for their HSC AOS –Discovery.

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One true thing by Nicole Hayes

One true thing by Nicole HayesA story of contrasts from the viewpoint of a politician’s teen whose life seems to be public property. I felt Frankie’s distress as the power of the media tried to pull a happy family apart. Events escalate, depriving Frankie of her music, her friends and her boyfriend. I was torn for Frankie once she discovered her mother’s secret. She equally admired the love and commitment of her parents and fumed at their inaction.  I won’t tell you the secret because it is the basis for the story. Just know that the secret is not what the media has made it out to be and when it is revealed you will find yourself taking sides. Continue reading

The other side of the world by Stephanie Bishop

other side of the worldWhat a beautiful, sad, and thoughtful book. Henry and Charlotte live in Cambridge in the early sixties, just pregnant with their second child. They are both feeling lost, longing for things to be as they were, and Henry takes them to Perth for a new life. Beautifully written, The Other Side of the World is almost dreamlike, exploring the meaning of home, marriage, motherhood and belonging. Melancholic, but beautiful.

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