May Read: Normal People

Pageturners are discussing Normal People by Sally Rooney on Wednesday 8th May at 5.30pm at Orange City Library.

2018 Costa Novel Award winner and longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize: Normal People is the feverishly anticipated second novel from the young author of 2017’s most acclaimed debut Conversations with Friends.

From the publisher: Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.

This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney’s second novel breathes fiction with new life.

Don’t forget to RSVP online via Eventbrite or call the Library on 6393 8132. Your RSVP helps with seating and catering arrangements and is much appreciated.

Reviews and interviews:

The Guardian

The Irish Times

The Sydney Morning Herald


UK Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist

29 April 2019 @booksandpublishing

In the UK, the shortlist for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction has been announced.

The six shortlisted titles are:

  • The Silence of the Girls (Pat Barker, Hamish Hamilton)
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer (Oyinkan Braithwaite, Atlantic)
  • Milkman (Anna Burns, Faber)
  • Ordinary People (Diana Evans, Vintage)
  • An American Marriage (Tayari Jones, Vintage)
  • Circe (Madeline Miller, Bloomsbury).

Selected from a longlist of 16 titles, the shortlist features one debut author, Oyinkan Braithwaite, as well as 2012 Orange Prize winner Madeline Miller, 2018 Man Booker Prize winner Anna Burns, and 2019 Folio Prize shortlisted author Diana Evans.

The winner of the £30,000 (A$55,030) prize, which is presented annually to the best novel written in English by a woman, will be announced on 5 June.

Scrublands Discussion

The majority of Pageturners enjoyed Scrublands by Chris Hammer but a few questioned some of the characters, the storyline and overall believability. But for most of them it was a rolling fast-paced story that kept you reading, wanting to know what was going to happen next and how it was going to be resolved. The funny thing was once we got going everyone talked about it as if all the events and characters were real!

There was general discussion about the media, life in small towns, landscape, the range of criminal events – shooting, car crash, fire, kidnap, assault; the character names, the diverse range of people in the small town, and character motivations.

And there was also great discussion about the number of issues covered in the book – here are a few – murder, mass shooting, drugs, sex, pedophilia, domestic violence, single mothers, nakedness, affairs, ASIO, fake newsroom, false identity, soldiers, orphanages and more.

And discussion about the range of characters – backpackers, bikies, spies, priests, police, journalists, bookshop owner, publican, motel owner, con-man etc that could be found in a small town.

Comments included: “it would make a great TV mini-series, the characters were believable, the story was at full-speed, it was a blender/smoothie book with everything mixed up together, red-herrings everywhere, setting was oppressive, we got our money’s worth, he was obsessed by his hands, journalist bits realistic, loved how it all unfolded, cliffhangers abounded, it was Cedar Valley on steroids, I wanted to know what happened, insightful, the towns were believable, there were no indigenous people and only one ethnic person who spoke ‘Australian’, many characters, too many characters with huge backstories, it was a big bucket of clichés, it was a deadly hostile environment, I enjoyed the rolling story, there was some dry humour, the ending was tied up in a nice bow, very visual, I hope he writes another one.”

Star ratings out of five ranged from 2 through to the majority of 3s, 3.5s and 4.

Podcast Interview with Chris Hammer by Better Reading.

It is interesting to note in the Better Reading interview Chris says he was lectured by the late Miles Franklin Literary Award winning crime writer Peter Temple. Some inspiration there perhaps?

The next read will be a change of pace with Normal People by award-winning Irish author Sally Rooney. The meeting will be held on Wednesday 8th May at Orange City Library at 5.30pm. Don’t forget to RSVP online via eventbrite or call the Library on 6393 8132. This helps with catering and seating. Thank you. See you then.

Upcoming Monthly Reads

Pageturners reads coming up:

8th May – Normal People by Sally Rooney

12th – Classic Read: June Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

10th July – Books by Meg Keneally

14th August – Miles Franklin Literary Award Longlist (announced in May)

11th September – Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Scrublands April Read

Our April read is Scrublands by Chris Hammer to be discussed at Orange City Library on Wednesday 10th April from 5.30pm – 7pm. Please RSVP online via or call the Library on 6393 8132 – thank you.

Set in an isolated country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners being shot dead himself.

A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don’t fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin can’t ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest’s deadly rampage.

About the author:

Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. For many years, he was a roving correspondent for SBS TV’s flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more than thirty countries on six continents. In Canberra, roles included chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, currrent affairs correspondent for SBS TV and a senior political journalist for The Age.

His first book, The River, published in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award and the Manning Clark House National Cultural Award. Chris has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master’s degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr Tomoko Akami. The couple have two children.

The Shell Discussion

Praise for The Shell:

‘A luminous look at a city at a time of change, a time when the building of the Sydney Opera House was a reach for greatness.’ The New York Times

‘Olsson transcribes Sydney into an exquisite visual palette, forcing the reader to pay attention to her stunning language. A complex and provocative novel of ideas.’ Sydney Morning Herald

‘Olsson’s subtle and nuanced tale displays how deeply the past – or at least one’s perception of it – informs life in the present.’ Kirkus Reviews

A beautifully crafted novel about a fascinating time in our history. There is a luminous precision in every sentence.’ Heather Rose, award-winning author of The Museum of Modern Love

Pageturners described it as “gentle, atmospheric, a little bit slow, beautiful language, light, time of change, a lot happening, Vietnam draft, controversy, the building of the Opera House, Utzon drama, focus on the artist, a little frustrating, didn’t get to know the characters, loved the landlady, liked the bits about Scandinavia,  liked the narrative about interviewing the author, and lots of criticisms of Australians.”

Discussion revolved around conscription, Pearl the journalist and protestor, her relationships, her brothers,  her father, Axel and his artwork and his father, nuclear weapons, Vietnam war, Anzac Day and Swedish neutrality.

Ratings out of five went as follows:  4, 4, 3.5, 2.5, 3.5, 2, 3, 2,3, 3.5, 4. So a broad range of views on the book..

Read more on the national service ballots including the birthdates drawn out:

Sydney Morning Herald interview with the author Kristina Olsson:

The next read is the bestselling novel Scrublands by Chris Hammer. The discussion will be held on Wednesday 10th April at 5.30pm. Please RSVP online through or call the Library on 6393 8132. See you then.

Man Booker International

The Man Booker International Prize has revealed the Man Booker Dozen – 13 novels in contention for the 2019 prize, which celebrates the finest works of translated fiction from around the world.

  • Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth
  • Love in the New Millennium buy Can Xue, translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen
  • The Years by Annie Emau, translated by Alison L.Strayer
  • At Dusk by Hwant Sok-Yong, translated by Sora Kim-Russell
  • Jokes for the Gunmen by Mazen Maarouf, translated by Jonathan Wright
  • Four Soldiers by Hubert Mingarelli, translated by Sam Taylor
  • The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann, translated by Jen Calleja
  • Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin translated by Megan McDowell
  • The Faculty of Dreams by Sara Stridsberg, translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner
  • Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
  • The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vasquez, translated by Anne Mclean
  • The Death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa, translated by Sam Garrett
  • The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zeran, translated by Sophie Hughes

The winner of the 2019 prize will be announced on 21 May.

March Read Shell By Kristina Olsson

The Shell

Pageturners next read is Shell by Kristina Olsson on Wednesday 13th March at 5.30pm at Orange City Library.

A big, bold and hauntingly beautiful story that captures a defining moment in Australia’s history.

Everywhere he looked he saw what Utzon saw. The drama of harbour and horizon, and at night, the star-clotted sky. It held the shape of the possible, of a promise made and waiting to be kept …

In 1965 as Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s striking vision for the Sydney Opera House transforms the skyline and unleashes a storm of controversy, the shadow of the Vietnam War and a deadly lottery threaten to tear the country apart.

Journalist Pearl Keogh, exiled to the women’s pages after being photographed at an anti-war protest, is desperate to find her two missing brothers and save them from the draft. Axel Lindquist, a visionary young glass artist from Sweden, is obsessed with creating a unique work that will do justice to Utzon’s towering masterpiece.

In this big, bold and hauntingly beautiful portrait of art and life, Shell captures a world on the brink of seismic change though the eyes of two unforgettable characters caught in the eye of the storm. And reminds us why taking a side matters.
About the author:

 Kristina Olsson is a journalist and the award-winning author of the novels ShellIn One Skin, and The China Garden, and two works of nonfiction, Boy, Lost: A Family Memoir and Kilroy was Here. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.

ABC Radio Interview:




Holiday Reads Wrap

Book Club

Welcome back Pageturners and what a great discussion about so many books! Here is a list of the books we talked about with a little description:

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – a funny, moving, uplifting tale of love and community that will leave you with a spring in your step.

Michelangelo’s Mountain The Quest for Perfection in the Marble Quarries of Carrara by Eric Scigliano – discover the fascinating, crucial, and often dangerous relationship between Michelangelo and the stone quarries of Carrara in this clear-eyed and well-researched exploration

The Birdsman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley – artist Elizabeth Gould spent her life capturing the sublime beauty of birds the world had never seen before. But her legacy was eclipsed by the fame of her husband, John Gould. The Birdman’s Wife at last gives voice to a passionate and adventurous spirit who was so much more than the woman behind the man.

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland – after her family suffers a tragedy, nine-year-old Alice Hart is forced to leave her idyllic seaside home. She is taken in by her grandmother, June, a flower farmer who raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers, a way to say the things that are too hard to speak.

 The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover – a funny and frank look at the way Australia used to be – and just how far we have come.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – this story, full of beauty and hope, is based on years of interviews author Heather Morris conducted with real-life Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron – The Shadow of the Wind is a coming-of-age tale of a young boy who, through the magic of a single book, finds a purpose greater than himself and a hero in a man he’s never met.

Kick: The True Story of Kick Kennedy, JFK’s Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth by Paula Byrne – the remarkable life of the vivacious, clever – and forgotten – Kennedy sister, who charmed the English aristocracy and was almost erased from her family history.

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak – Zusak makes his long-awaited return with a profoundly heartfelt and inventive novel about a family held together by stories, and a young life caught in the current: a boy in search of greatness, as a cure for a painful past.

Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly – any family knows that a special birthday party is the perfect chance to come together, but for the Brannigan clan it’s about more than just raising a glass.

Salvation of a Saint by Keiga Higashino – the stunning thriller from the author of the Japanese 2 million copy bestseller The Devotion of Suspect X. When a man is discovered dead by poisoning in his empty home his beautiful wife, Ayane, immediately falls under suspicion.

The Other Side of Silence by Philip Kerr – when Bernie Gunther takes on a blackmail case and gets involved in the affairs of British spies, the former detective risks exposing his own dark past

Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child – in the past the elite team always watched each other’s backs. Now one of them has shown up dead in the California desert and six more are missing. Reacher’s old buddies are in big trouble, and he can’t let that go.

Hawk Quest by Robert Lyndon – a huge, exciting historical adventure epic It’s 1072 AD. The Normans have captured England. The Turks have captured a Norman knight. And in order to free him, a warrior named Vallon must capture four rare hawks.

House Rules by Jodi Picoult – when your son can’t look you in the eye… does that mean he’s guilty?

Infinite Plan by Isabel Allende – a saga of one man’s search for love and his struggle to come to terms with a childhood of poverty and neglect.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce – when Harold Fry sets out one morning to post a letter to his dying friend Queenie he finds himself at the start of a journey that will have many beginnings, and for which he’s entirely unprepared.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin – 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children – four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness – sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson – A devious tale of psychological suspense involving sex, deception, and an accidental encounter that leads to murder.

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay – welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Light and Shadow: Memoirs of a Spy’s Son by Mark Colvin – Mark Colvin was one of Australia’s longest-serving broadcasters. He reveals what it was like to discover his diplomat father was really an MI6 spy. And the reality of covering some of the most dangerous flashpoints of recent history:-

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier – Remarkable Creatures is the story of Mary Anning, who has a talent for finding fossils, and whose discovery of ancient marine reptiles such as that ichthyosaur shakes the scientific community and leads to new ways of thinking about the creation of the world.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer – a struggling novelist travels the world to avoid an awkward wedding in this hilarious Pulitzer Prize-winning novel full of “arresting lyricism and beauty”.

When Will There will be Good News by Kate Atkinson – in rural Devon, six-year-old Joanna Mason witnesses an appalling crime. Thirty years later the man convicted of the crime is released from prison.

Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears – set in hardscrabble farming country and around the country show high-jumping circuit that prevailed in rural New South Wales prior to the Second World War, Foal’s Bread tells the story of two generations of the Nancarrow family and their fortunes as dictated by the vicissitudes of the land.

Paula by Isabel Allende – Allende has written a tour de force, a powerful autobiography whose straightforward acceptance of the magical and spiritual worlds will remind readers of her first book, The House of Spirits.

The Hospital by the River A Story of Hope by Catherine Hamlin – the story of the remarkable Australian gynaecologist Dr Catherine Hamlin and her medical work that has transformed the lives of 45,000 Ethiopian women.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt recounts the terrible price we pay for mistakes made on the dark journey to adulthood.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility – a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

Guilded Hour by Sara Donati – from the internationally bestselling author of Into the Wilderness comes a magnificent epic about two pioneering women doctors in 19th-century New York.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – a moving and original father-son story featuring none other than Abraham Lincoln, as well as an unforgettable cast of supporting characters, living and dead, historical and invented.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper – a powerful story of suspense, set against a dazzling landscape.

The Year of the Farmer by Rosalie Ham – in a quiet farming town somewhere in country New South Wales, war is brewing. The last few years have been punishingly dry, especially for the farmers, but otherwise, it’s all Neralie Mackintosh’s fault.

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton – an utterly wonderful novel of love, crime, magic, fate and coming of age, set in Brisbane’s violent working class suburban fringe – from one of Australia’s most exciting new writers.

Next Meetings: 

  • 13th March 2019 Meeting – Shell by Kristina Olsson. Please RSVP via
  • 10th April 2019 Meeting – Scrublands by Chris Hammer


  • Wild West Women Writers Book Tour – Three popular writers from the Central West take to the road to chat about their new novels and share secrets of their writing success: Kelly Rimmer The Things We Cannot Say, Alissa Callen The Round Way and Kim Kelly with Sunshine. Meet all three authors  on Wednesday 27th March at 5.30pm at Orange City Library. Please book your place online through or call the Library on 6393 8132.

Top Ten Fiction Bestseller List

Perfect strangers

Here is the Top Ten Fiction Bestseller List provided by Better Reading:

  1. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty (Pan Macmillan)
  2. Past Tense by Lee Child (Bantam)
  3. The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Macmillan)
  4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins)
  5. Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak (Picador)
  6. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (Echo Publishing)
  7. The Binding by Bridget Collins (The Borough Press)
  8. Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly (Allen & Unwin)
  9. You by Caroline Kepnes (Simon and Schuster)
  10. Long Road to Mercy by David Baldacci (Macmillan)

© Nielsen BookScan 2019 Week Ending 05/01/19.


Still want more to read? You can also check out the weekly top 10 bestselling non-fiction list and the top 10 bestselling children’s books list on Better Reading.