Series Detectives...

The popular Murder in the Library events have the audience becoming detectives, solving the mystery of the Glass Room.  Here are a selection of literary detectives to inspire you,  using their  various talents to solve mysteries and murders- all by the end of the book.  

Tell us about your favourite detective in the comments.

Best Known
The master of detection and deduction, Sherlock Holmes is probably the best known of  the literary detectives. He is recorded in the Guinness Book of World records as appearing in 200 movies- more than any other character. Start with  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (e-book) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Roaring Twenties
Phryne Fisher created by Kerry Greenwood
 Described by the Canberra Times as "a sexy, sassy and singularly modish character", The delightful sleuth Phryne Fisher is independently wealthy, elegant, classy and sharp as a tack. Renown for her fabulous 1920's fashion and  bobbed hairstyle, Miss Fisher has featured in 20 books so far. Start with
Cocaine Blues/Kerry Greenwood
You can also watch on  DVD:  Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries.

Daisy Dalrymple created by Carol Dunn
The Honorable Daisy Dalrymple is a fictional character, living in England in the 1920s. According to her Facebook page, her personal interests include stumbling upon bodies in unexpected places and meddling in her husband's crime investigations. A believable, likable heroine with a flair for solving mysteries the heroine of 19 books so far! If you are a fan of traditional English whodunits, start with  Death at Dentwater Court: A Daisy Dalrymple mystery/ Carol Dunn.

Police Detectives
Rebus- created by Ian Rankin
In the first draft of Knots and crosses, the old fashioned, curmudgeonly, yet humane detective was to be killed off...luckily Ian Rankin gave the character a reprieve, becoming the cynical protagonist of a series of over twenty books and a television star. Read or listen to the audio book version of Knots and crosses.

Sean Duffy created by Adrian McKinty
Described on Adrian McKinty's website as "an intelligent , resourceful potentially rogue police officer, with influential friends and powerful enemies. A very dangerous asset." The first book in this series, The cold, cold ground was picked as one of the best crime novels of the year by The Times.

Cozy amateurs...
Agatha Raisin created by M.C Beaton
The Cotswolds-based PR guru turned amateur sleuth is an endearing character, who by good luck and chance solves murder mysteries. A perennial 53 year's old, the acerbic, eccentric and hilarious Agatha continues to solve mysteries throughout this delightful series, now up to book 27- Pushing up daisies. It's best to start with book one, The Quiche of Death (you can also watch the DVD), and read the books in order.

Maisie Dobbs created by
Maisie Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, began her working life at the age of thirteen as a servant in a Belgravia mansion.  A the beginning of the The Great War  Maisie enlists for nursing service overseas. Years later, in 1929, having apprenticed to the renowned Maurice Blanche, a man revered for his work with Scotland Yard, Maisie sets up her own PI business. The series starts with Maisie Dobbs (available via Interlibrary Loan), followed by book two,  Birds of a feather.

Nordic Noir
Kurt Wallander created by Henning Mankell
A gloomy Swedish detective created by the late Henning Mankell. A dysfunctional, divorced and middle-aged man who drinks heavily and eats too much junk food, and exercises too little. He is brilliant at detecting, but hides behind a brusque manner that leaves him with few close friends. The series has been adapted to into  various television and film productions. The series starts with Faceless Killers and ended with the eleventh book,  An Event in Autumn in 2014.

Martin Beck created by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö,   This married writing team plotted and planned the books together, then wrote alternative chapters for each of the ten novels in this series of these Swedish Police procedurals.  The first book Roseanna, introduces the enigmatic, taciturn Martin Beck, a chronic smoker, with a perpetual cold.

Queen of Crime characters...
Two enduring characters created by the Queen of crime, Agatha Christie...
Miss Marple
Deceptively innocent, behind this sweet old lady facade hides a mind like a steel trap, catching out many a murderer... There are 12 Miss Marple novels, starting with Murder at the Vicarage.

Hercule Poirot
The fastidious Hercule Poirot is widely considered to be one of the most famous literary detectives of all time, appearing in 33 novels. His obituary was published in the New York Times 6 August 1975, two months before the release of the last Poirot novel, Curtain. Start with The Mysterious Affair at Styles and discover why the mustached Belgian detective continues to have fans worldwide.

Forensic Specialists...
Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist who first appeared in Déjà Dead (audio book format) by Kathy Reichs.
She is one of only fifty board-certified forensic anthropologists in North America. As the series progresses, you learn more about her personal life, including her family life and struggle with alcoholism.  There are currently 18 books in the series.

Dr Ruth Galloway is a forensic archaeologist living in a cottage near Norfolk with her two cats – when she is not digging up graves and bones linked to archaeology, that is. The Crossing Places is the first of eight books in the series so far...

The Harry's...
Detective Hieronymus Bosch aka Harry Bosch was created by Michael Connelly, first appearing in The Black Echo. The abandoned son of a murdered prostitute, this popular character has become a hard, damaged detective who is the anti- hero of 19 novels.

Harry Hole created by Jo Nesbo
Harry Hole smokes too much, drinks too much, uses unconventional methods to catch criminals and has few close friends.  An officer in the Oslo Police force,  Harry is grudgingly respected by his colleagues, due to his brilliance in solving crimes. Book One: The Bat is set in Australia. (Although this is the first book in the series, it was released in Australia only after seven books in the series had already been published in English).

Harry Devlin created by Martin Edwards
The Guardian newspaper describes this character as ‘a charming but down-at-heel Liverpool solicitor with bruised emotions, a nice line in self-deprecation, and a penchant for Mersey low life.’ He can't help but get into trouble, although his heart is in the right place. Meet Harry in All the lonely people, the first of eight books in the Harry Devlin Liverpool series.

Hard boiled Golden Age...
Philip Marlowe created by  Raymond Chandler
 Under the wisecracking, hard-drinking, tough private eye exterior, Marlowe is quietly contemplative and philosophical and enjoys chess and poetry. The leading icon of hard boiled  mystery fiction... he debuted in the The Big Sleep. Learn more at the upcoming literary talk, The Simple Art of Murder presented by Joanna Penglase.

Sam Spade/ Dashiell Hamlett
This hard nosed and cynical, tough guy character only appears in one full length novel, the 1930's The Maltese Falcon. In the opening paragraph describes him as the blond satan...

Both of these characters were played by Humphrey Bogart in film adaptations.

2016 Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers

Congratulations to the winners of the Kibble Literary Awards 2016. These awards aim to encourage Australian women writers to improve and advance literature for the benefit of our community through works identified as life writing. These include novels, autobiographies, biographies, literature and any writing with a strong personal element.

The Kibble Literary Award recognises the work of an established author while the Dobbie Literary Award recognises a first published work.

         2016 Kibble Literary Award Winner:                                    2016 Dobbie Award Winner:
         Fiona Wright                                                                                     LucyTreloar
Small acts of disappearance/ Fiona Wright
Salt Creek/ LucyTreloar
Kibble Award                                                                                       Dobbie Award

A few days in the country / Elizabeth Harrow                            Rush oh / Shirley Barrett
Second half first / Drusilla Modjeska                                            Reckoning / Magda Szubanski
Small acts of disappearance/ Fiona Wright                               Salt Creek / LucyTreloar

Criminally good reads... July

Agatha Raisin and the curious curate / M.C. Beaton
Amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin is going through a man-hating phase and so is unmoved by news of a captivating new curate. But when she meets the golden-haired, blue-eyed Tristan Delon, she is swept off her feet ... along with every other female in the village. She is positively ecstatic when he invites her to dine with him, but the next day Agatha is left with a hangover from hell - and his cold corpse.

Pleasantville / Attica Locke
Fifteen years after his career-defining case against Cole Oil, Jay Porter is broke and tired. That victory might have won the environmental lawyer fame, but thanks to a string of appeals, he hasn't seen a dime. His latest case—representing Pleasantville in the wake of a chemical fire—is dragging on, shaking his confidence and raising doubts about him within this upwardly mobile black community on Houston's north side. Though Jay still believes in doing what's right, he is done fighting other people's battles. Once he has his piece of the settlement, the single father is going to devote himself to what matters most—his children.
His plans are abruptly derailed when a female campaign volunteer vanishes on the night of Houston's mayoral election, throwing an already contentious campaign into chaos. The accused is none other than the nephew and campaign manager of one of the leading candidates—a scion of a prominent Houston family headed by the formidable Sam Hathorne. Despite all the signs suggesting that his client is guilty—and his own misgivings—Jay can't refuse when a man as wealthy and connected as Sam asks him to head up the defense.

The good liar
This is a life told back to front.
This is a man who has lied all his life.
Roy is a conman living in a leafy English suburb, about to pull off the final coup of his career. He is going to meet and woo a beautiful woman.  He will swiftly move in with her and together they will live the seemingly calm life of a retired couple – evenings in front of the television, a little holiday in Berlin.  Then he will slip away with her life savings.
But who is the man behind the con and what has he had to do to survive this life of lies?
And why is this beautiful woman so willing to be his next victim?

The Crow Girl/  Erik Axl Sund ; translated by Neil Smith
 In a Stockholm city park, the hideously abused body of a young boy is stumbled upon. Detective Superintendent Jeanette Kihlberg heads the investigation, which quickly dead-ends: no trace of the boy's identity can be found. But with the discovery of two more children's bodies in similar condition, it becomes clear that a psychopathic serial killer is at large. Jeanette turns to therapist Sofia Zetterlund for help in identifying suspects, and as their lives become increasingly intertwined, professionally and personally, as we begin to know their particular histories, needs, and desires, as they draw closer to the truth about the killings--working together but, ultimately, each on her own--we come to understand that these murders are only the most obvious evidence of a hellishly insidious societal evil. As viscerally dramatic as it is psychologically intense, The Crow Girl is a tale of almost unfathomably heinous deceit and deeds, and of the profound damage--and the equally profound need for revenge--they leave in their wake.

A Time of Torment  / Connolly, John
Jerome Burnel was once a hero. He intervened to prevent multiple killings, and in doing so destroyed himself. His life was torn apart. He was imprisoned, brutalized.
But in his final days, with the hunters circling, he tells his story to private detective Charlie Parker. He speaks of the girl who was marked for death, but was saved; of the ones who tormented him, and an entity that hides in a ruined stockade.
Parker is not like other men. He died, and was reborn. He is ready to wage war.
Now he will descend upon a strange, isolated community called the Cut, and face down a force of men who rule by terror, intimidation, and murder.
All in the name of the being they serve. All in the name of the Dead King.

The ex: a novel / Alafair Burke
Olivia Randall is one of New York City's best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiance, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide--and that one of the victims was connected to his wife's murder three years earlier--there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is, who would go to such great lengths to frame him--and why? For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets and absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him?

Ten days/ Gillian Slovo
It's 4 a.m. and Cathy Mason is watching dawn break over the Lovelace estate. By the end of the day, her community will be a crime scene. By the end of the week, her city will be on fire. In this gripping thriller, a death at police hands has repercussions far beyond one family plunged into grief ...As violence erupts in the middle of a stifling heatwave, the dead man becomes a useful tactic (or an urgent threat) in political games at the highest level. So while lives are at risk in Cathy Mason's estate, across London in Westminster, careers are being made, or ruined.

The graveyard of the Hesperides / Lindsey Davis
In first century Rome, Flavia Albia, the daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, has taken up her father's former profession as an informer. On a typical day, it's small cases cheating spouses, employees dipping into the till but this isn't a typical day. Her beloved, the plebeian Manlius Faustus, has recently moved in and decided that they should get married in a big, showy ceremony as part of beginning a proper domestic life together. Also, his contracting firm has been renovating a rundown dive bar called The Garden of the Hesperides, only to uncover human remains buried in the backyard. There have been rumors for years that the previous owner of the bar, now deceased, killed a bar maid and these are presumably her remains. In the choice between planning a wedding and looking into a crime from long ago, Albia would much rather investigate a possible murder. Or murders, as more and more remains are uncovered, revealing that something truly horrible has been going on at the Hesperides. As she gets closer to the truth behind the bodies in the backyard, Albia's investigation has put her in the cross-hairs which might be the only way she'll get out of the wedding and away from all her relatives who are desperate to 'help'.

Fellside/ M.R Carey
Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life.
It's a place where even the walls whisper.
And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess.
Will she listen?

You don't have to believe in ghosts for the dead to haunt you. You don't have to be a murderer to be guilty. "This is about three deaths. Actually more, if you go back far enough. I say deaths but perhaps all of them were murders. It's a grey area. Murder, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So let's just call them deaths and say I was involved. This story could be told a hundred different ways." For Penelope Sheppard, university offers an escape from her troubled past. Running from a life weighed down with scandal and tragedy, Pen sees this as the ideal place to reinvent herself among perfect strangers. Life in her new hall of residence feels like a wonderland of sex, drugs, and maybe even love. But all too soon Pen realises you never can run far or fast enough. And when Pen's secrets are revealed, the consequences are deadly.

Some of the best books so far of 2016...

Some of the best books so far of 2016 ... Do you agree?

Lab Girl : a story of trees, science and love / Hope Jahren
Jahren has built three laboratories in which she's studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. She tells about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and the disappointments, triumphs and exhilarating discoveries of scientific work. Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.

The gene : an intimate history / Siddhartha Mukherjee
Spanning the globe and several centuries, The Gene is the story of the quest to decipher the master-code that makes and defines humans, that governs our form and function.
This is an epic, moving history of a scientific idea coming to life, by the author of The Emperor of All Maladies.
 But woven through The Gene, like a red line, is also an intimate history – the story of Mukherjee's own family and its recurring pattern of mental illness, reminding us that genetics is vitally relevant to everyday lives.

The wicked boy : the mystery of a Victorian child murderer / Kate Summerscale
Early in the morning of Monday 8 July 1895, thirteen-year-old Robert Coombes and his twelve-year-old brother Nattie set out from their small, yellow-brick terraced house in East London to watch a cricket match at Lord's. Their father had gone to sea the previous Friday, the boys told their neighbours, and their mother was visiting her family in Liverpool. Over the next ten days Robert and Nattie spent extravagantly, pawning their parents' valuables to fund trips to the theatre and the seaside. But as the sun beat down on the Coombes house, a strange smell began to emanate from the building.

When the police were finally called to investigate, the discovery they made sent the press into a frenzy of horror and alarm, and Robert and Nattie were swept up in a criminal trial that echoed the outrageous plots of the 'penny dreadful' novels that Robert loved to read.

When breath becomes air/ Paul Kalanithi
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity - the brain - and finally into a patient and a new father. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away? Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

The girls/ Emma Cline
California. The summer of 1969. In the dying days of a floundering counter-culture a young girl is unwittingly caught up in unthinkable violence, and a decision made at this moment, on the cusp of adulthood, will shape her life..."This book will break your heart and blow your mind." (Lena Dunham). Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat. Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls. And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways. Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?

The vegetarian : a novel / Han Kang ; translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith
Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker with moderate ambitions and mild manners; she is an uninspired but dutiful wife. The acceptable flatline of their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-hye, seeking a more 'plant-like' existence, decides to become a vegetarian, prompted by grotesque recurring nightmares. In South Korea, where vegetarianism is almost unheard-of and societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye's decision is a shocking act of subversion. Her passive rebellion manifests in ever more bizarre and frightening forms, leading her bland husband to self-justified acts of sexual sadism. His cruelties drive her towards attempted suicide and hospitalisation. She unknowingly captivates her sister's husband, a video artist. She becomes the focus of his increasingly erotic and unhinged artworks, while spiralling further and further into her fantasies of abandoning her fleshly prison and becoming - impossibly, ecstatically - a tree. Fraught, disturbing and beautiful, The Vegetarian is a novel about modern day South Korea, but also a novel about shame, desire and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

What is not yours is not yours/ Helen Oyeyemi
An enchanting collection of intertwined stories cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don’t You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).

The fireman / Joe Hill
The fireman is coming. Stay cool.
No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

LaRose / Louise Erdrich
Late summer in North Dakota, 1999: Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence but only when he staggers closer does he realise he has killed his neighbour's son. Dusty Ravich, the deceased boy, was best friends with Landreaux's five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have been close for years and their children played together despite going to different schools. Landreaux is horrified at what he's done; fighting off his longstanding alcoholism, he ensconces himself in a sweat lodge and prays for guidance. And there he discovers an old way of delivering justice for the wrong he's done. The next day he and his wife Emmaline deliver LaRose to the bereaved Ravich parents. Standing on the threshold of the Ravich home, they say, 'Our son will be your son now'. LaRose is quickly absorbed into his new family. Gradually he's allowed visits with his birth family, whose grief for the son and brother they gave away mirrors that of the Raviches. The years pass and LaRose becomes the linchpin that links both families. As the Irons and the Raviches grow ever more entwined, their pain begins to subside. But when a man who nurses a grudge against Landreaux fixates on the idea that there was a cover-up the day Landreaux killed Dusty - and decides to expose this secret - he threatens the fragile peace between the two families...

Comic Con-versation with Nathan Seabolt

Nathan Seabolt  a multimedia Illustrator and Designer, with experience in print and screen-based advertising, multimedia interactive presentations, traditional and digital illustration, animation and almost any application of images and/or type displayed for the purpose of communication. He aspire's  to tell stories in sequential art form, and to help him learn how to make comics he decided to…um, make comics.
Can you tell us about your journey as a comic artist/ creator? 
I've been a fan of comics since I was big enough to hold one, and not just for the pretty colors.  Spider-Man taught me about responsibility, Captain America taught me about honor, and funnily enough the Hulk taught me how to read! The first thing I ever read on my own was a speech balloon in an Incredible Hulk coloring book. Although my fandom waxed and waned throughout the years (most of the 90's I was definitely out), once I got into art school and learned about printmaking and some of the techniques behind my old favorite comics' art, I knew I needed to use my training to produce my own comics. Then it was just a few short years fumbling with technique before I finally got my first mini comic done. As these things do, this led to more and larger projects, including taking part in two different comics anthologies this year. I'm finally feeling more comfortable with my visual storytelling, now I just need to figure out a way around the inordinate amount of effort that graphic storytelling takes...

Tell us about your mini comics  and daily drawing blog?
So far, I haven't finished any long-form projects, but rather focused on sorter stories in a smaller format. While a standard comic book might be something close to A4 and around 24 pages, minis are usually A5 or smaller and average around 8 pages. I've made a mini that ballooned up to 12 pages, but generally I stick to 8 or so-that seems to be enough room to tell a simple story. I do tend to use a lot more panels per page than the average mini, so perhaps I just enjoy squeezing more story into each page :) I try to make a couple of books per year for the convention season, and I post them on my blog and on , usually for free download.
The daily drawing blog is one of my favorite things, I love sharing my process with people. Occasionally I can get some attention for the newest thing, or more importantly sometimes I can help aspiring artists and comic makers to give it a shot. I also record video occasionally for my YouTube channel for the same purpose.

What are your tools of the trade? Do you work in traditional media as well as digital?
A lot of the comic book work is done digitally, just for the sake of time. Comics require a ton of revision and adjustment, and digital makes that much easier. If the project is in color, digital is very important, since my final output is to print. Being able to give a printer a color correction quickly can save a project. For my comics I rely heavily on software called Clip Studio Paint (formerly known as Manga Studio). It's an all-in-one solution built from the ground up for comics (well, manga specifically but that's splitting hairs). I can go all the way from idea to color print ready book with that program.
I also do a lot of Illustration and personal art, and I do like going back to traditional media for that. It's a nice change.

Do you have any advice for aspiring comic artists that you wish someone had told you?
The most important piece of advice I could offer to anyone interested in making comics because they love the art form or have something to say is: don't give up. This is hard, and it can seem very daunting, but if you start small (like mini comics), you'll find that the rush of finishing something completely can carry you right into the next thing. Like a lot of things, it's an iterative process, and practice makes you better, so keep making stuff.

What's next for Nathan Seabolt?
It's a busy time at the moment, but exciting. In addition to Comics ConVersation 2016 and Comic Art: Beyond 2D, I'm taking part in a group art show with the Sydney Comics Guild at the Artshine gallery in Chippendale, tabling at several shows including Sydney Supanova and I have the honor of being part of two comics anthologies this year: MONSTERS! (with Author Karen Beilharz ) and "Silence" (with the Sydney Comics Guild). It's been hectic in a great way. As for the future, I hope to explore some new art series ideas I have brewing and possibly arrange a one-man show for next year. And some point I really should sleep.

Find out more at Nathan Seabolt's Website and Facebook page.

This event is part of Comic Con-versation 2016. Comic Con-versation is an annual week long festival celebrating the best of local comic culture with events, talks, workshops, panel sessions, readings and exhibitions across Sydney libraries.

You can check out all the amazing upcoming ‪#‎ccv16 events and activities here

Rainy days...the best excuse to read all day!

Short stories are great on a rainy day, especially with this title! 
Thunderstruck / Elizabeth McCracken
A story collection that navigates the fragile space between love and loneliness. It includes 'Property', wherein, a young scholar, grieving the sudden death of his wife, decides to refurbish the Maine rental house they were to share together by removing his landlord's possessions.

Rainy Day in the title...a good excuse to read as any!
Rainy day sisters / Kate Hewitt
When Lucy Bagshaw’s life in Boston falls apart, thanks to a scathing editorial written by her famous artist mother, she accepts her half sister Juliet’s invitation to stay with her in a charming seaside village in northern England. Lucy is expecting quaint cottages and cream teas, but instead finds that her sister is an aloof host, the weather is wet, windy, and cold, and her new boss, Alex Kincaid, is a disapproving widower who only hired her as a favor to Juliet.

Despite the invitation she offered, Juliet is startled by the way Lucy catapults into her orderly life. As Juliet faces her own struggles with both her distant mother and her desire for a child, her sister’s irrepressible optimism begins to take hold. With the help of quirky villagers, these hesitant rainy day sisters begin to forge a new understanding…and find in each other the love of family that makes all the difference.

A rainy day setting...
Between a wolf and a dog / Georgia Blair
Outside, the rain continues unceasing; silver sheets sluicing down, the trees and shrubs soaking and bedraggled, the earth sodden, puddles overflowing, torrents coursing onwards, as the darkness slowly softens with the dawn." Ester is a family therapist with an appointment book that catalogue's the anxieties of the middle class: loneliness, relationships, death. She spends her days helping others find happiness, but her own family relationships are tense and frayed. Estranged from both her sister, April, and her ex-husband, Lawrence, Ester wants to fall in love again. Meanwhile, April is struggling through her own directionless life; Lawrence's reckless past decisions are catching up with him; and Ester and April's mother, Hilary, is about to make a choice that will profoundly affect them all. Taking place largely over one rainy day in Sydney, and rendered with the evocative and powerful prose Blain is known for, Between a Wolf and a Dog is a celebration of the best in all of us - our capacity to live in the face of ordinary sorrows, and to draw strength from the transformative power of art. Ultimately, it is a joyous tribute to the beauty of being alive.

A long read that's too good to put down...
The fireman/Joe Hill
At 752 pages you have the perfect excuse to  just keep reading this as long as the rain lasts (or longer)...
A chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.
The fireman is coming. Stay cool.
No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Mysterious rainfall in a suspense story...
The well / Catherine Chanter
What if you might have committed a shocking act of violence? What if that act of violence was the murder of your own grandchild? It hasn't rained in Britain for three years. Except at The Well, Ruth and Mark's rural property, their haven from the pressures of the city. But their lush garden paradise has made the outside world envious and suspicious, and the idyll soon turns sour. Then Lucien arrives, the child to brighten their lives, and the sisters of the rose set up camp, drawn by the miracle of the rain. And Ruth is swept inexorably towards her darkest nightmare.

A classic with a setting that matches the weather; melancholic and sentimental...
 Jane Eyre/ Charlotte Bronte
Charlotte Bronte's impassioned novel begins on a cold November day at Gateshead with somber wind and penetrating rain. It is the love story of Jane Eyre, a plain yet spirited governess, and her employer, the arrogant, brooding Mr Rochester.  Published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell, the book heralded a new kind of heroine-one whose virtuous integrity, keen intellect, and tireless perseverance broke through class barriers to win equal stature with the man she loved.

Putting the pieces together

The Local Studies Collection at Sutherland Library has an amazing array of materials which contain puzzle pieces to uncover of the stories of our community. It is accessible during all opening hours.

Outside opening hours there is still plenty to see and investigate online via the Local Studies page, of the Sutherland Shire Libraries website.

Interviews with people like Georgette Wall provide an oral history of places and happenings in the district. These oral histories are a great way to gain insight into the societal fabric of earlier times. Interview logs are provided for those who prefer to read than listen. These transcripts are also great for searching for that elusive mention of someone or something.

Cliffhaven was one of Yowie Bay's first stately homes and Georgette was fortunate enough to live on the estate for a period in the 1930's with her father, Harry Cobbold, who helped create, and cared for this spectacular garden framing the view from the front steps of the house.

The Historical Photographs collection has more photographs of this delightful getaway, owned by the Catts, Americans, who used Cliffhaven as their Christmas holiday retreat for 6 weeks each year.
The Catts had Cliffhaven built, by the local stonemasonry firm Ellis & Sons, based at Sutherland. Roy Ellis and brother -in -law Reg Moon did most of the work. Advertisements for these men can be located in the newspapers of the time, via a keyword search of the Sutherland Shire Historical Newspaper index. The newspapers can then be viewed, on film, in the library.

Cliffhaven was a large estate with a caretaker cottage, where Georgette and her father resided. It also had extensive grounds, which at the time extended down to the waters of Yowie Bay at it's juncture with Gymea Bay. This aerial view of the estate taken in 1960, shows its size in comparison with the modern housing blocks of today.
Aerial photography of the Sutherland Shire has been  conducted irregularly over the past 75 years and can be viewed on Shire Maps. Look up what your own part of the Shire looked like in 1930.

A search of the library catalogue reveals there is a book written by Merle Kavanagh, Echoes from the Bay: the Yowie Bay story. This title includes the stories of many of the old sandstone homes around the bay as well as a wealth of other information on Yowie Bay's past glories.

Georgette Wall also has written a biography, which is part of the Local Studies collection.

Visit the collection on the second floor of Sutherland Library and look around for a full view of the material available, during opening hours.

Comic Con-versation with Matthew Lin

Matt Lin is an artist, illustrator and designer.
Matt has always drawn, always. When he was 15 he decided he wanted to be a graphic designer (like his Aunt Aleena), and so his path was set. He is still drawing, not men going to the moon and animals eating people so much these days….

Could you describe your journey as an artist/creator ?

My journey- I started in graphic design, as I felt this would be a way to be artistic and make a decent wage - I wasn't confident enough to be what I thought at the time a true artist was.

I started my first job as a junior designer at an photography / advertising agency in 1993. After another 4 full time jobs working for other companies I decided in 2004 to go Freelance.

I feel that my true artistic creative journey really only started to kick in around 2012.

I think it was because I was finally confident in myself and that I was stepping onto my true path and that I was also open to what might just happen to come along! I'm being open to various possibilities!

Art for you is about play, about the experience, about discussion. Can you elaborate on this?

Before I started to follow this statement I use to think to much about my art, or put myself under too much pressure. I was too focused on the end result, I was very serious - I used to be extremely driven, I still am, but in a more playful way, which I believe is more true to myself.

Since I've been more playful in my work - I've actually been producing better pieces, I believe that they have more life. Sometimes the best things I have done or learnt from is during the creative experience - the final piece might seem terrible, but the process of doing it has been extremely rewarding.

What are your tools of the trade? Do you work in traditional media as well as digital?

My main digital tools are : mac computer, photoshop, indesign, illustrator, tablet. I'm planning on playing around with a few other programs like ZBrush and Studio Paint Pro

My main traditional tools are : markers (Copic, Mepxy), my trusty pencil, my black ball point pen (Kilometrico), I like to play around with ink and ink washes, I like gauche and when I have the time I like to paint in acrylics. I'm not very good with oils - because I need more practice and I don't have the patience for the drying time or the smell!

Do you have any advice for aspiring comic artists that you wish you had been told?

Copying is good, especially for training and learning. See how the professionals / artists that inspire you, do things, how they compose their picture, the way they colour, their style. Use that to inspire you, and eventually over time you'll tweak it and create your own style.

Make lots of mistakes, don't put too much pressure on yourself, play if you can! Obviously practice! Natural talent can only get you so far!

Study human anatomy, this will give you great foundation for drawing people and animals!

And if you do want to get into comics, be prepared to draw the same character(s) every day! If you become bored with drawing the same character all the time, then maybe comics aren't for you.

What's next?

My main project at the moment is to finish writing my script for my picture book and a few sample pieces of art - which I can then submit to the publishers.

Then once that is done, I want to get into my manga - The Fish Boy and Squid Chronicles. I also want to put out a colouring book this year and a few other things!

Find out more on Matt Lin's website  and Facebook pages.

This event is part of Comic Con-versation 2016. Comic Con-versation is an annual week long festival celebrating the best of local comic culture with events, talks, workshops, panel sessions, readings and exhibitions across Sydney libraries.

You can check out all the amazing upcoming ‪#‎ccv16 events and activities here

Local History...Local Stories

In the early 1900s the sandy beaches of Cronulla and tranquil waters of Gunnamatta Bay attracted growing numbers of tourists and weekend sightseers. It became apparent that the horse-drawn omnibuses which ran to the beachside township could no longer meet increasing visitor demands and so an 11.9km tramline was built from the southern end of Sutherland Station, on to the Princes Highway, along the Kingsway and then to Cronulla where it finished its journey in a balloon loop along Ewos Parade at Shelly Park. The first steam tram left Sutherland on 12 June 1911 at 5:56am, arriving at the terminus 35 minutes later.

The tramline was a single track, but crossing loops at Acacia Road, Miranda, Caringbah, Woolooware Road and Curranulla Street in Cronulla allowed trams to travel and pass in opposite directions. Penshurst Metropolitan Water supplied the steam trams with the necessary water requirements via a 15cm pipeline which connected to a large overhead tank at the Miranda Loop.

The steam trams are remembered as ‘fiery, noisy, whistling, smoke-belching little monsters’ yet they endeared themselves to many commuters – even though it was not uncommon on Sunday evenings, when picnickers returned en masse from the seaside, for the overburdened trams to stall on the steep bank at Miranda (now located between Sutherland Hospital and Westfield Miranda). The male travellers were often required to alight and help push the cars and motor over the steep ascent while other passengers walked alongside the track.

Sadly, the Miranda bank was the scene of a tragic accident on 10 November 1924 when the 6:37am steam tram from Cronulla hurtled down the hill at a tremendous speed, reportedly attempting to make up lost running time. Steam motor No. 88A derailed at the bottom, overturned and the driver, Sam Wyatt, was killed instantly. Several passengers were also injured in the disaster. A further accident was narrowly avoided when the steam crane which had been sent by the Railway Department itself almost toppled as it was far too light to lift the weight of the derailed motor back on to the track.

The last passenger steam tram ran on 3 August 1931. On 7 August 1931, the Propeller newspaper reported:

The Sutherland-Cronulla steam tram passenger service was replaced last Monday by a fleet of double-deck motor buses. The last tram left Cronulla for Sutherland shortly after midnight. Despite the hour there were about 300 people present. On the last three trips passengers were carried free of charge. When the last trip commenced loud cheers were given by the crowd, and the “cock-a-doodle doos” were sounded on the steam whistle. On the headlight of the engine was hung a wreath of lilies.

The goods service ended on 12 February 1932.