We love reading! Staff Picks... September

The bad-ass librarians of Timbuktu and their race to save the world's most precious manuscripts
by Joshua Hammer

Reading a bit like Indiana Jones takes on Islamic State this book recounts how a mild mannered manuscript conservator and his friends and family saved thousands of rare, precarious and historical documents from the hands of fanatics who wished to virtually destroy culture in Mali. Islamic writings came under threat as being borderline idolatrous while treatises on mathematics, philosophy, science and early travel memoirs were also targeted. Using various methods to hide and transport the manuscripts to safety, our hero mostly evades the curfews and religious police of Mali after a fanatical and violent  group took over. But he also has some scary and very threatening encounter. Forget the librarian stereotypes, this is a real bibliothriller.
~ Reviewed by Danny

Blame/Nicole Trope
The lives of two women will never be the same after a shocking accident, but who is to blame?
Two best friends, Caro and Anna find themselves in a relentless cycle of interrogation in their local police station. As the two women tell their versions of stories, the not so perfect lives of both families are revealed. I could not help but sympathise with the issues of mental health, marriage, motherhood, and alcoholism.
After a decade of being best friends, how do they find their way back. Or do they?
The story is fast paced, thought provoking and gripping. I did shed a little tear in the end…
~ Reviewed by Tynelle

Locust Girl by Merlinda Bobis
If you like a clear storyline to follow with all the questions answered at the end of the tale, this story is not for you. We follow Aramantha ‘s journey after she loses her memories, her father and her town to the light and the fires. As she wanders a devastated landscape looking for nourishment and water, she interacts with the inhabitants, as best she can learning about herself as she goes. I found it a very abstract way of questioning our use of resources, especially water and a frightening view of how scarcity can be shared. The language is comforting in it’s richness and evokes a sense of the beauty inherent in the landscape regardless of bleakness.
~Reviewed by Jacinta

The Neapolitan Series by Elena Ferrante

This four-book series is mainly set in a poor neighborhood in Naples and begins with “My brilliant friend” where Ferrante sets the scene for the following 3 books – “The story of a new name”, “Those who leave and those who stay” and finally, “The story of the lost child”.
The story is primarily about the bond two friends share in their long relationship from childhood to adulthood.  There are no rules with these two and jealousy runs rampart throughout.  There are good feelings and bad feelings between them, but overall the endurance and dependence of the relationship is quite mind blowing.
In my opinion each novel only gets better and better.  They are each packed with emotion; they are explosive, rough and raw.  Yes, the first 3 end in a cliffhanger – like that or not – they left me gasping and thinking WOW!!  I didn’t see that coming!
So popular these books have become I believe you can do a guided tour around Italy discovering where they were set and see the backdrop to these books!
Happy reading and perhaps travelling too!
~ Reviewed by Donna

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Fiona Staples (artist)

If you’ve ever doubted that graphic novels (formally known as comic books) are literature, I urge you to read Saga. Saga is the epic ongoing series written by Brian K. Vaughan – a prolific comic book writer (and a writer of the tv series Lost), with stunning art by multi-award winning artist Fiona Staples. Spanning an entire galaxy embroiled in a devastating war, Saga is the story of Hazel, a child born to lovers with far more than Romeo and Juliet ever had against them. These are the ultimate star-crossed lovers. Hazel the narrator, however, is still an infant. Volume one chronicles her birth (literally – the first panel is the jarring, confronting moment when Hazel’s mother Alana gives birth to her) and early days on the run from every imaginable species of alien and mercenary. Saga is an ambitious work full of complex characters whose goals are often at odds with one another, and they are so much more human for it. Hazel’s very existence is a challenge to the political doctrine governing the dominant planets, and triggers complex power plays on par with those of A Games of Thrones (with all the sex and violence – this is not a comic book for children). What are you waiting for? Add it to your read list now!
~Reviewed by Dasha