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Book Chat is a mixed group led by Hilary K and meets at 9:45 for a 10:00 start on the first Monday each month at a Local Cafe. The exact location will be provided once you RSVP.

At Book Chat we do not have any prescribed reading.  We just talk about whatever we have read in the past month, giving our recommendations as to whether the books are enjoyable and interesting or not. We swap books with each other and introduce each other to new
authors. It doesn't matter whether you have read one book or 10. During the colder months we meet at the home of one of our members and enjoy our chat over morning tea. Once it is warmer we will meet at a local park and enjoy the fresh air as well. Please be sure to RSVP.

REFER TO CALENDAR PAGE FOR UPCOMING EVENTS

 

3rd October 2022 

As Monday 3rd October is a public holiday Book Chat for this month is
cancelled. I look forward to getting together again in November.
Regards,
Hilary


*  Report for August 2022

It was especially exciting to welcome several new members to the group as the change to the first Monday of the month obviously suits more people. We had a lovely get together, hosted by Maria, and shared a delicious morning tea before we got down to talking about what we had been reading recently.

John spoke about China by Edward Rutherford. He found this an interesting book giving a lot of detail about the Chinese hierarchy at the time of the Opium Trade and Wars. He has also read Captain Cook’s Epic Voyage by Geoffrey Blainey. The title is a little misleading as it actually details the exploration of the Pacific Ocean using information not only from Cook’s logbooks, but also from those of various French and Dutch explorers. It is a mostly factual and very interesting read.

Barbara has read The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen by Krissy Kneen. She found it hard to get into, but perseverance paid off. Krissy traces her grandmother’s life in Slovenia and Egypt and uncovers the extraordinary story of the colony of Slovene women who became the nannies of choice for the wealthy Italians of pre-war Alexandria. Barbara has also received the education resource from the exhibition called Artistic Endeavour  which  marks the 250th anniversary of the HMB Endeavour‘s voyage along the east coast of Australia, and the botanical work of scientists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander, together with illustrator Sydney Parkinson. She enjoyed Cutter’s End by Margaret Hickey. This is about a cold case on the Stuart Highway in 1989 which was reopened in 2021 and deals with the remoteness of the location as well as the duality of the characters. Then there was Well Hello by Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales, which, like their podcasts, was a bit of fun and nonsense with some recipes as well. People of the River by Grace Karskens is a non-fiction account  of the everyday lives of ordinary people in the early colony, both Aboriginal and British, who lived along the Hawkesbury River.

Howard introduced us to Dead Letters by Michael Brissenden, the ABC journalist. It is a murder mystery set in Sydney and was very well written, interesting and enjoyable. He has read the four books of the Kingsbridge Series by Ken Follett, which span the 1400’s to the 1800’s. He found that they gave a good insight into how things were achieved in those times as the books were based on good research. Other authors Howard has been reading include Chris Hammer, Jane Harper, Michael Robotham, Robert Goddard, Stuart McBride, Gabriel Allon and Daniel Silva.   

Maria has been reading The Millionaire Castaway by David Glasheen. It is about a millionaire who has lost everything in a stock market crash and is now living off the land on a deserted island off N.E. Australia. She is finding it a bit repetitious. Homer and Langley by E. L. Doctorow is the beautifully written story of two brothers living as recluses in New York, yet still affected by outside world events such as wars, political movements and technological advances. She has also enjoyed Kate Granville’s book about Elizabeth Macarthur on Audible. Maria kindly brought several books by Michael Robotham, Fiona McIntosh and Liane Moriarty to loan to members of the group.

Marie is currently reading Girt by David Hunt – a very sarcastic recounting of “the unauthorised history of Australia”. She is not sure if Hunt’s version is believable but it is an easy read. Listen to the Moon by Michael Morpungo is highly recommended as a good read for teenagers aged about 14 – 15. In 1915 a girl who has lost her memory is found on an uninhabited island in the Scillies. This is the story of what has happened to her and is very sad but beautifully written, dealing with concepts of war and forgiveness as well as PTSD.

Jacqui is currently reading the Twilight Series. She has found it quite different from the TV presentation and well worth reading.

Robynne has read The Paris Library by Janet Sheslien Charles – a lovely book set in Paris in 1939 and Montana in 1983. The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker by Joanna Nell is about the wife of a retired ship’s doctor, now living on board an ocean liner and the misadventures she has when her husband goes missing. The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home by Joanna Nell tells of a 90-year old nature writer and her would-be comedian friend and their plans to escape the home – hilarious.

Hilary enjoyed An Unequal Defense by Chad Zunker, another in the series about a lawyer who works with the homeless in Austin, Texas. A man has been accused of the murder of a Deputy DA but swears he is innocent, although he cannot remember how he woke at the location of the shooting dressed in the clothes the shooter had been seen wearing on CCTV. There are several twists in the tale until eventually the murder is solved. Another compelling read. Goodnight Vienna by Marius Gabriel is set in 1937 when Katya, a Russian refugee in England, is forced to abandon her medical studies and take a position as governess in Vienna to a young girl, Gretchen, who we would now say was on the spectrum. She becomes very attached to the girl and her widowed father. In the days before the Anschluss they are all arrested by the SS. Katya and Gretchen are released but realise that they must flee Austria. This is the story of their attempts to evade the German regime. An exceptional story.

Report for July 2022

We had another enjoyable get together, hosted by Hilary. We had a great “catch up” before we got down to sharing what we had been reading recently.

Chris has read Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French. It tells of travelling from an Australian country town to England to attend a finishing school, meeting UK and European nobility, espionage during WWI, and work in hospices in England and France. There are 6 books in the series but this read well alone. She described The Ultimate Outback Anthology – 4 books by various authors – as a “bodice ripper” that Barbara would enjoy! Meant to Be by Fiona McCallum was an enjoyable romance. The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson is an enjoyable book set in the London tunnels during the Blitz, where a librarian brings books to the children sheltering there.

Maria has enjoyed The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lister, which she described as intriguing, light and entertaining, to be recommended. She has a couple of other books on the go but will talk about them next month.

Barbara has been reading Arcadia by Di Morrissey. Set in an old forest in Tasmania, she found it preaching about issues of global warming / climate change though there was some interesting background about the interconnectedness of underground mycology. Deception Creek by Fleur McDonald was a very light easy read. She also enjoyed The Understudy by Julie Bennett – a mystery set in 1973 around the opening of the Sydney Opera House. The Dover’s Wife by Leah Purcell explored the aboriginal love of country and of family as well as the European point of view while describing the brutality of life endured by many. Susan Mallery’s The Summer Getaway, set in Florida, talks of women’s affairs, divorce, kids and family. Free Falling by Nicola Moriarty is about the death of a young man and the effects this had on his mother, twin brother and fiancée (who is pregnant with twins) It was interesting as it is set in The Hills so there were many local names and places mentioned.

Hilary has read The Rose Girls by Victoria Connelly. Set in East Anglia, UK, it is a pleasant story of three sisters working through the issues associated with the business and their dilapidated manor home following the death of their mother. These Tangled Vines by Julianne Maclean is an enjoyable read set in Tuscany, where a long kept secret is unveiled when Fiona’s biological father dies, unleashing a web of lies, and tense sibling rivalries. Initially set in 1939 Germany, progressing through wartime Germany and finishing in America in 1989, The German Wife by Debbie Rix was a compelling read. To Love and Be Loved  by Amanda Prowse, is a light, enjoyable read about a girl jilted at the altar by the love of her life, how she is able to reconcile the past and make choices about her future. The Village  by Caroline Mitchell is a great read about the unsolved mystery surrounding the disappearance of a family in rural Devon. Crime journalist, Naomi, finds the villagers unwelcoming and obviously hiding something so is determined to unearth the truth.

 

* Report for June 2022

We had another enjoyable get together, hosted by Barbara. As usual our chat covered a wide range of topics before we got down to sharing what we had been reading over the past two months.

Maria has read Past Caring by Robert Goddard which she found to be very good and well written, although there was poor closure at the end. She also found Scrublands by Chris Hammer, set in a fictional Riverina town at the height of a devastating drought, it is a powerful, compelling and original crime novel which she found to be quite enjoyable. The Cellist by Daniel Silva is highly recommended. It is set in Russia in very recent times.

Chris has enjoyed The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lister, which she described as intriguing and to be recommended. Fool’s Gold by Fleur McDonald was a good easy read. It is a mystery set in a fictional country town based on Kalgoorlie

Barbara has been reading Taft by Ann Patchett. Set in Memphis, she found it rather weird and was disappointed that the ending did not bring closure for so many characters – not recommended. Birds of a Feather by Trisha Stringer was an enjoyable tale about Australian country women and their interrelations. Devotion by Hannah Kent is a historical novel about German-speaking Lutheran migrants seeking religious freedom in a new land – Hahndorf, South Australia. Barbara found it weird but interesting and different and it was beautifully written.

Hilary has enjoyed The Spy’s Wife by Fiona McIntosh, set in Yorkshire and Germany at the start of WWII. It kept her guessing until the very end! Nancy Wake by Peter Fitzsimons was an excellent compilation of details from other biographies together with memories shared in interviews with Nancy. You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham jumps between WWII Brittany and present day Cornwall to uncover a web of secrets and is another good read. A Train to Moscow by Elena Gorokhova is set in provincial Russia, Moscow and St Petersburg in the time of Stalin and Communist Russia. It was initially a bit of a slow read but was an interesting illustration of life behind the Iron Curtain. Reminiscent of Outlander, Tapestry by Fiona McIntosh leaps between the 1700’s in Scotland and the 1970’s in London and Australia, as it’s protagonist battles in both time frames to save the lives of two loved ones.

 

Report – 17th May 2022

We had a most enjoyable get together at Rouse Hill Regional Park on a lovely sunny morning. Our talk covered a wide range of topics before we got down to sharing what we had been reading over the past two months.

Chris has enjoyed The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson. Set during the WWII Blitz in London, in a bomb shelter where books are brought in from the local library and children are encouraged to read. She has also read The Last House Before the Sea by Liz Eeles (Book 1 in a series) and Crush by Tracey Wolff – for those who enjoy vampires.

Peter has read The First Shots by Brendan Borrell, about the race to develop a COVID vaccine. He has been fascinated by the description of the changes in American politics and culture examined in Wildland – The Making of America’s Fury by Evan Osnos. In light of the current situation in Ukraine he is also reading Ukraine by Sehry Yekelchyk who has revised and updated his original edition in 2020.

Yolanda sent in her report that she has read Camino Island, a thriller by John Grisham. She found it a bit different from his usual but most enjoyable.

Barbara has been busy reading Wildfire by Anne Cleeves; Precious Things by Kelly Doust – quirky but not top quality; Elizabeth and Elizabeth by Sue Williams – a bit light but interesting and enjoyable; Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies, an enjoyable read by Jackie French; The Second Worst Restaurant in France by Alexander McCall Smith, a comedy which she found to be quite good; and A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe which she found hard to put down.

Hilary has enjoyed Reluctantly Home  by Imogen Clarke – interesting characters and their interactions; The Pilot’s Daughter by Audrey J. Cole – a story about the hijacking of a commercial jet; Midnight Lies by Chris Collett – a murder mystery, a cold case and an abduction; The Orphan in the Peacock Shawl by AnneMarie Brear – set in Yorkshire in 1870 it is the tale of an abandoned baby; An Unequal Justice by Chad Zunker – a lawyer in a prestigious firm is drawn by events involving Austin’s homeless people; The Homecoming by Anna Enquist – based largely on fact this is a fascinating insight into the life of Elizabeth, the wife of Captain James Cook; The Understudy by Julie Bennett – a mystery set in 1973 around the opening of the Sydney Opera House; and The Runaway Children by Lindsey Hutchinson – a great story with a great mix of characters which was hard to put down.

 

* Report for March

First, a big thank you to Hilary K for allowing us to twist her arm to take over as book chat interest group leader. After 7 years, I felt it was time to hand this over to someone else and Hilary has kindly volunteered. Her details for RSVP will be at the end of our April club newsletter.

We had a lively get together at Rouse Hill Regional Park and the weather actually cooperated for us. Yolanda kindly provided a delicious home made cake to share and we also shared a few of the books and articles we have read recently. Here are our recommendations!

Hilary has focused on WWII historical fiction novels and has read The Ocean Liner by Marius Gabriel and The Keeper of Happy Endings by Barbara Davis plus many more interesting books.

Pete loves John le Carre books and just read A Delicate Truth.

Barry enjoys the New Scientist Magazine and shared info about The Slug Hunter from Oregon State Uni. We now know snails make the perfect conditions for rainforests to happen!

Chris had many books which didn't pass muster, but these ones did: Elsa Goody by Darren Fraser, Australian historical fiction in the Victorian goldfields and The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester. Another WWII story set in Paris, the USA, and Paris again.

Yolanda has enjoyed reading Elizabeth & Elizabeth by Sue Williams, historical fiction about the colonial ladies Macarthur and Macquarie. She also got a lovely set of little books from her recent hospital buddy called The Education You Wish you Had.

Luba enjoyed a Nicola Alexander historical fiction book set in 1919 SA and the Northern Territory called Stone Country. She also read Honeybee by Craig Silvey which is about a transgender person.

Barbara had some fun reading The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick and a book of Miss Phryne Fisher short stories, The Lady with the Gun Asks the Questions by Kerry Greenwood.

As always, happy reading,


* Report for February 

Hilary Kuwahata wrote the following report about her latest reading and has kindly agreed to share it with us all. Thank you Hilary for giving us lots of good book suggestions.

Happy reading,

Barbara

The Land Girls – Victoria Purman

War has engulfed Europe and now the Pacific, and Australia is fighting for its future. For spinster Flora Thomas, however, nothing much has changed. Tending her dull office job and beloved brother and father, as well as knitting socks for the troops, leaves her relatively content. Then one day a stranger gives her brother, who cannot serve because he is deaf in one ear, a white feather and Flora's anger propels her out of her safe life and into the vineyards of the idyllic Mildura countryside, a member of the Australian Women's Land Army.

There she meets Betty, a 17-year-old former shop girl keen to do her bit for the war effort and support her beloved, and the unlikely Lilian, a well-to-do Adelaide girl fleeing her overbearing family and the world's expectations for her. As the Land Girls embrace their new world of close-knit community and backbreaking work, they begin to find pride in their roles. More than that, they start to find a kind of liberation. For Flora, new friendships and the singular joy derived from working the land offer new meaning to her life, and even the possibility of love.

But as the clouds of war darken the horizon, and their fears for loved ones - brothers, husbands, lovers - fighting at the front grow, the Land Girls' hold on their world and their new-found freedoms is fragile. Even if they make it through unscathed, they will not come through unchanged... 

The One Impossible Labyrinth – Matthew Reilly

Jack West Jr has made it to the Supreme Labyrinth. Now he faces one last race-against multiple rivals, against time, against the collapse of the universe itself-a headlong race that will end at a throne inside the fabled labyrinth.

But the road will be hard. For this is a maze like no other: a maze of mazes. Uncompromising and complex. Demanding and deadly. It all comes down to this. For it ends here-now-in the most lethal and dangerous place Jack has encountered in all of his many adventures...

I didn’t enjoy it as much as some of the others as it seems to be written to a template and I found that there was too much predictability. Not to be read as a stand-alone novel as you would not understand the history of the characters.

Lavender Morning - Jude Deveraux

Jocelyn Minton is a woman torn between two worlds. Her mother grew up attending private schools and afternoon teas, but she married the local handyman. After her mother died when Joce was only five years old, her father remarried into his own class, and Joce became an outsider -- until she met Edilean Harcourt. Although she was sixty years Joce's senior, Miss Edi was a kindred soul who understood her like no one else ever had. When Miss Edi passes away, she leaves Joce all her worldly possessions, including an eighteenth-century house and a letter with clues to a mystery that began in 1941. In the letter, Miss Edi also mentions that she has found the perfect man for Joce -- a handsome young lawyer. Joce is shocked to learn that the mystery, the house, and the future love of her life are all in Edilean, a small town in Virginia that Miss Edi never told her about. Hurt that the woman who meant so much to her kept so many secrets, Jocelyn moves to this tight-knit village in an attempt to understand the legacy that has been left to her. As she begins to dig into Miss Edi's mystery, she soon discovers some shocking surprises about her family's history and her own future -- and she meets a man with his own mysterious past.

The Happiest Man on Earth – Eddie Jaku

Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku made a vow to smile every day and now believes he is the ‘happiest man on earth’. In his inspirational memoir, he pays tribute to those who were lost by telling his story and sharing his wisdom – the life lessons he learnt while trying to survive at the hands of the Nazis. Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you. Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed in November 1938, when he was beaten, arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Over the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors every day, first in Buchenwald, then in Auschwitz, then on a Nazi death march. He lost family, friends, his country.

The Secrets We Left Behind - Soraya M. Lane

Occupied France, 1940. When the staff at a field hospital draw straws to find out who will join the evacuation from Dunkirk, Nurse Cate is left behind. But when the Nazis arrive to claim prisoners of war, she takes her chance and flees into the night, taking one patient with her.

Fifty miles away, the surrendering soldiers of the Royal Norfolk Regiment are shot dead by the advancing Germans. Beneath the pile of bodies two men survive, crawling to the safety of a nearby farmhouse, where sisters Elise and Adelaide risk their lives to take them in. When Cate, too, arrives at their door with her injured soldier, the pressure mounts.

The sisters are risking everything to keep their visitors safe. But with the Nazis coming ever closer and relationships in the farmhouse intensifying, they must all question the sacrifices they are willing to make for the lives of others. How far will they go for family, friendship, and love?

The characters are fictional but the background is based on fact.

Postcards From a Stranger – Imogen Clark

A secret lies buried at the heart of her family--but it can't stay hidden forever.

When Cara stumbles across a stash of old postcards in the attic, their contents make her question everything she thought she knew.

The story she pieces together is confusing and unsettling, and appears to have been patched over with lies. But who can tell her the truth? With her father sinking into Alzheimer's, her mother having died when she was 2 and her brother reluctant to help, it seems Cara will never find the answers to her questions. One thing is clear, though: someone knows more than they're letting on.

Torn between loyalty to her family and dread of what she might find, Cara digs into the early years of her parents' troubled marriage, hunting down long-lost relatives who might help unravel the mystery? But the picture that begins to emerge is not at all the one she'd expected--because as she soon discovers, lies have a habit of multiplying . . .

The Girls of Pearl Harbour – Soraya M. Lane

Nurses initially stationed in Hawaii who live through the attack on Pearl harbour then are stationed in North Africa. A romance with WWII as the background. 

The Hat Girl From Silver Street – Lindsay Hutchinson

Life is tough for Ella Bancroft. After her father, Thomas, is wheelchair-bound by an accident at the tube works, the responsibility for keeping a roof over their head falls to Ella. Ella’s mother died when she was ten, and her sister Sally lives with her no-good, work-shy husband Eddy, so is no help at all.  If she and her father are to keep the bailiffs from the door, then Ella must earn a living.

But Ella is resourceful as well as creative, and soon discovers she has a gift for millinery. Setting up shop in the front room of their two-up, two-down home in Silver Street, Walsall, Ella and Thomas work hard to establish a thriving business. Before long, the fashionable ladies of the Black Country are lining up to wear one of Ella’s beautiful creations, and finally Ella dares to hope for a life with love, friendship and family.

Meeting the man she longs to marry should be a turning point for Ella, but life’s twists and turns can be cruel. As the winter grows colder, events seem to conspire to test Ella’s spirit. And by the time spring is approaching, will the hat girl of Silver Street triumph, or will Ella have to admit defeat as all her dreams are tested.

 

* Report for November 2021

What a strange year it has been for our group. From face to face meetings to Zoom meetings and finally back to face to face meetings but our dear library doesn't let us gather there anymore thanks to Covid. Oh well, we just soldier on and we met in the park last October as shown in our photo. Lots of catching up, books to return, books to discuss and it was just fabulous to see each othe

This month we had such crazy weather that we decided the Food Court might be a better meeting place. The alarms were going as we turned up,  which was exciting and Wendy and myself were unsure what all that was about. The cleaner told us it was to alert people that the cover doors to each food outlet were opening and that it would soon end. Whew!

With coffees at the ready, we were ready to start our happy book chatting. The group had suggestions for books they would like to see under their Christmas tree this year and this may give you some ideas!

First some Non-Fiction:

The Chancellor, The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel by Kati Marton

This recent release is a biography of the very private German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It Wasn't Meant to Be Like This by Lisa Wilkinson

Another recent release, this time an autobiography of our Aussie media personality.

Now for some Fiction:

The Spy's Wife by Fiona McIntosh

A WWII historical adventure set in England and Germany.

The Fossil Hunter by Tea Cooper

More historical fiction about 19th Century Australia's scientific discoveries and dark secrets.

Devotion by Hannah Kent

In her third book, we are taken from1836 Prussia to 1838 South Australia.

Treasures & Dirt by Chris Hammer

Yes, we do love the crime thrillers, especially Aussie ones. This is set in opal mining territory.

Silverview by John Le Carre

That is one famous name and this is his last complete novel. What a ride!

If you want to find out some more book ideas, tune in to the upcoming ABC program Books that Made Me hosted by Claudia Karvan.

Happy holiday reading!

 

* Report for October 2021

We have continued reading whatever we can get our hands on via online booksellers, E or audio books, books from friends and lovely deliveries from our libraries. They are now reopening under strict rules and that is great news! Yolanda sent a photo of some of her latest reading and that's all I have as at the time of writing my report we haven't met.  We all look forward to in person book chats.
Happy reading.
Barbara



Our Zoom September book chat has not yet happened so here is a little report. Librarian Tony made my day today, and he and the other librarians really made my upcoming month ahead, when he collected my old books and delivered ten new books to my door. This included the second book of a murder mystery trilogy that was sent with the last delivery so I can continue the story. How special is the Hills Library Service and other council library services doing the same during lockdown? Sometimes being a senior brings some benefits!  I hope you are also able to access some reading material to enjoy between exercise and picnics. Forget house and garden work for a while as I think all our cupboards and gardens are clean and tidy.

Happy Spring reading,

Barbara