The eye of the sheep by Sophie Laguna

eyeI first became aware of The eye of the sheep shortly after it was published in 2014. I noticed the cover, two faces, a large shaggy dog and a cherubic little boy with soulful eyes, beseeching me to read. I resisted it because of the sentimentality of the cover. Then it was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin, and then it won the Miles Franklin. I finally acquired a copy to read in late 2015. Have you ever heard the warning not to judge a book by its cover?

As soon as I started to read I was captivated. I had stepped through Jimmy’s front door and became an invited witness to all of the heartbreak and distress that a dysfunctional family can embody. At the same time I experienced the heartfelt love and light of being a member of the Flick family through the eyes of this unique little boy. I was captivated by Sofie Laguna’s language, which has been described as poetic, glittering, luminous and kaleidoscopic. I found myself inside Jimmy’s head and sharing his unique perspective.

Jimmy is a boy who goes too fast and too slow, his cells spin and he relies on his mum to help slow them down. He needs to keep out of his dad’s way, especially when Merle Haggard is playing on the record player. His brother Robbie is a refuge and his protector. Jimmy draws the relationships between family members with ropes and cords and cobwebs; relaxing them to make room when it is needed and then drawing them back together. He sees past the surface to the truth of peoples’ goodness and badness without judgement. Through his naivety, Jimmy recognises that our surfaces are an illusion and that under our surfaces, where our blood rushes through our veins and our organs pump away, we are all the same.

Jimmy’s story is set in suburban Melbourne, in the shadow of the oil refinery that employs his father Gavin. His employment provides a tenuous stability and when the inevitable retrenchment hits, it sets the family members spinning off into different directions. When Jimmy’s adults can no longer look after him, he has to learn to save himself. The truth of this story is bleak but Jimmy’s perspective injects shards of brilliant light and happiness. You may not feel that there is a truly happy ending, but I think you will feel the hope for a better life for Jimmy.

You can borrow The eye of the sheep from the Picton or Mobile libraries.

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The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas

OysterFiona Clutterbuck thinks she’s got it all now that she’s finally becoming Mrs. Brian Goodchild. The wedding is set for just weeks before Fiona’s 30th birthday, however, when Brian abandons her at the altar; Fiona does what she does best, and runs away.  Crashing the stolen camper van intended for her honeymoon, Fiona finds herself in the village of Dooleybridge, County Galway in the middle of nowhere on the West Coast of Ireland, with only the clothes she arrived in.

Join Fiona on her romantic, unpredictable adventure as she starts a new life and job on an oyster farm, despite being terrified of the water and her new boss, the wild and unpredictable Sean Thornton.  Fiona learns the rules of the ocean and battling her fears, she comes out of her shell to find love amongst the oyster beds of Galway Bay and along the way picks up a few pearls of Irish wisdom.

Written predominantly in the first person the reader really gets to know the character of Fiona, this chick-lit fiction novel is a completely absorbing story and is escapism at its best.

Available to borrow or reserve from Wollondilly and Mobile Libraries, please do not hesitate to pick up The Oyster Catcher, you won’t regret it.

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All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr

all the lightThis 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winning, historical, literary fiction novel is a wonderful read and is well deserving of the hype and critical acclaim it received.

Set in France and Germany during World War II, All the light we cannot see tells the parallel stories of Marie-Laure and Werner, two innocent children who are both caught up in, whilst being at opposite sides of, the horrors of World War II.

Marie-Laure, blind from the age of 6, lives with her father in Paris where he is the master locksmith at the Museum of Natural History. Marie-Laure’s’ father builds her a miniature wooden replica of her neighbourhood, which she memorizes and is then able to navigate her way around. When Marie-Laure is twelve, Paris is occupied by the Nazis.  Marie-Laure and her father flee to Saint-Malo to live with their reclusive Great Uncle and his powerful radio transmitter.

Meanwhile Werner, a brilliant and talented orphaned German boy, grows up dreaming of a world he can only imagine. One he can only connect with by hearing of it through the magic of a stolen radio. As a twelve-year-old, Werner, who possesses extraordinary electronic abilities, is chosen to attend an elite academy for the Hitler Youth.  Graduating far too young, Werner is sent, with a team of Nazi soldiers, to track down the resistance who are broadcasting through illegal radio transmissions.  Marie Laure and Werner’s paths cross in a way that is both sad and beautiful.

As the two stories of Marie-Laure and Werner are played out, there is sub-plot of the mystery of the “Sea of Flames”, a priceless jewel that prior to the outbreak of war was held in the Museum of National History.  Do Marie-Laure and her father have the diamond or just a decoy fake as they hide in Saint-Malo? Will the jewel be discovered? Stolen? Returned? Does it hold the power to redeem?

This is a beautiful and poignant novel, lyrical and descriptive in its writing style. The story is told in both time and setting shifts, which can be a little difficult to connect with at first. However, the novel is so rich and uplifting, it is well worth the effort.

All the light we cannot see is available to borrow or reserve in both hard copy and audio book formats from Wollondilly or Mobile Libraries.


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Australian Home Beautiful – staff pick

I have always loved flicking through the pages of glossy magazines for ideas for my home and Australian Home Beautiful is one of my favourites.
Australian Home Beautiful is filled with images of beautiful homes from hillside havens to chic seaside cottages. There are inspiring renovation ideas you can create yourself for every room from French flair to modern minimalistic makeovers. It even has your outdoor spaces covered from cosy corner settings to heavenly hedges. Australian Home Beautiful is filled with information and advice for helping you transform your home into the home you dream of.
It has been published for over 90 years and provides for the fun of decorating and empowers you to become your own decorator…well, here’s hoping for me! And with my passion for cooking, I love the easy entertaining ideas and recipes. It’s my friend’s birthday soon and I’m already excited to be making the blueberry crumble cake from the July 2016 issue.


For me, reading a magazine presents an escape; it’s makes up part of my “me-time.”  And don’t we all deserve some “me-time”?

So why not borrow or reserve an issue of Australian Home Beautiful now at Wollondilly Library or from one of our mobile libraries?  Wollondilly Library also subscribes to other great home magazines including Better Homes and Gardens and Real Living.

hbbhgreal living







Hope to see you at the newly refurbished Wollondilly Library soon,



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Stillwater Creek by Alison Booth

Stillwater CreekAustralian historical fiction novel Stillwater Creek is set in 1957 in a small fictional town of Jingera on the South Coast of New South Wales. Stillwater Creek is Australian author Alison Booth’s debut novel.

Ilona and her daughter Zidra arrive in town for a fresh start after Ilona, who was born in Latvia, and has survived the horrors of a concentration camp and the death of her husband during World War II. Ilona is a pianist and wants to establish herself as a piano teacher and find a place for herself in her new community.  Stillwater Creek is told from the perspective of six local residents, including Ilona and Zidra. The others are the publican’s wife, the butcher and his son and a local farmer. Their stories weave in and out of the narrative and become intertwined as the book reaches a tumultuous climax.

This is a book filled with many underlying themes. All the characters have secrets and the issues of unhappy childhoods and of displacement are particularly explored.  Stillwater Creek is a relaxing read because of being set around a creek, lagoon and surf beach. It is a heart-warming story whose characters and setting create a strong sense of place. The engaging writing style makes it difficult to put down, assisted by a suspenseful plotline, making the reader eager know what will happen next.  Many readers will identify with the immigrant experience explored within this novel. The small coastal town culture that Booth generates in Stillwater Creek will be familiar to, and resonate with, many readers also.

Stillwater Creek was published in 2010 and received critical acclaim. Alison Booth has since written Indigo Sky and A Distant Land which completes the Jingera trilogy. Stillwater Creek is available to borrow or reserve from Picton or Mobile Libraries.

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Penguin Bloom

I can remember my grandfather sitting on the back steps, bare-footed, in shorts and white bonds singlet – feeding scraps of meat to ‘Jacky’ a tame and bold magpie. I still have a soft-spot for magpies – the larrikin of the bird family. Each summer I turn on the sprinkler, sit back and wait for a magpie family to arrive like excitable toddlers – warbling away, fluffed up and dashing in and out of the water with pure abandoned joy.
It was this fondness that drew me to ‘Penguin Bloom’, the beautiful story of an odd little bird and the love and strength she gives to a family torn apart by a split second occurrence that changed their lives forever.
Penguin was just a small wobbly-headed magpie chick, one wing hanging limply by her side when she was rescued by the Bloom family after falling from her nest, high up in a Norfolk Pine onto cold asphalt. Her story mirrored the families own recent tragedy – when Sam, the mother of three young boys fell from a building when on holiday, suffering horrendous injuries – severe head trauma, the loss of her sense of smell and taste – almost every organ of her body battered and a prognosis that she would not walk again.
It was seven months before Sam was released from the spinal ward – glad to be home with her family and desperately trying to maintain some positivity at a very bleak time in her life.
And then Penguin arrived…
“Penguin and Sam became inseparable. One was always looking after the other. When Penguin was weak and sickly, Sam would lovingly nurse her back to health. And when Sam found it hard to get moving, Penguin would sing her energy back up.”
Penguin Bloom is a beautiful and inspiring story – a poignant reminder to take each day as a blessing. But equally as uplifting are the stunning photographs that accompany this triumphant story. From the bedraggled little bird who “often resembled a manic fluff-ball with a beak” to the “airborne goddess she was destined to become”, Penguin’s journey is captured with humour, love and an immense feeling of thankfulness that she came into the Bloom family.
I hope you enjoy this touching story of courage and resilience and that you too will come to love magpies as the funny and lovable characters that they are.

Penguin Bloom

“Hope is the thing with feathers” Emily Dickinson


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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

perksThe Perks of Being a Wallflower is an epistolary novel about a freshman named Charlie, who very much struggles in social settings. And by no means does it help him that he struggles with anxiety and depression.

A rather shy and introspective boy who is trying to fit in and find himself in this burdensome world (or how he may think of the world anyway) tells his story to a ‘friend’; one that can be trusted, but also one that we do not know. We can interpret this ‘friend’ to be anyone we feel fitting, and that is one of the many reasons in why this book is gripping, and appealing to a young adult audience. I think most high school students can confidently say that they would enjoy having a friend through their schooling years in whom they can talk to about the stuff that goes on in their mind. Charlie has this, even though this ‘friend’ may or may not be real, Charlie writes to them for a year, whether this is days or months at a time, signing off with ‘Love always, Charlie’.

It’s a mildly dark novel with reflections from Charlie’s past family life in which we can see why Charlie’s character is the way it is. The drama of a teenage life is one that correlates to the ugly truth of life’s mishaps. The Perks of Being a Wallflower provides a safe and warm place for anyone who doesn’t understand, or isn’t understood, and that’s what makes this epistolary novel so captivating and special.

I decided to read this book because it was one that more than a few fellow peers have raved about. A coming of age story with a boy, who is trying to find himself, quickly attracted my attention considering I am one who is also riding the emotions of growing up. This book allows you to have a joke and make you laugh, and realise that it’s okay to cry when things get overwhelming.

If you have read and enjoyed the book Its kind of a funny story, you will be sure to enjoy The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower book and movie are available to borrow or reserve from Picton or Mobile Libraries.

Sarah K.

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