Monthly Archives: July 2015

Man Booker Prize 2015 Longlist (Part 1)

The Man Booker prize is focused on promoting the best writing in fiction. In 2013 the rules for submission to the Man Booker Prize changed to allow any novel written in English to compete (previously only UK publishers could submit manuscripts). This year there are 13 novels in contention from countries as diverse as Jamaica, Nigeria, Ireland and India. 5 of the 13 novels on the longlist are from US authors and only 3 from the UK.

Here are 6 of the longlist finalists: Clegg (US) – Did You Ever Have a Family

This book of dark secrets opens with a blaze. On the morning of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s house goes up in flames, destroying her entire family – her present, her past and her future. Fleeing from the carnage, stricken and alone, June finds herself in a motel room by the ocean, hundreds of miles from her Connecticut home, held captive by memories and the mistakes she has made with her only child, Lolly, and her partner, Luke. Enright (Ireland) – The Green Road

A darkly glinting novel set on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, The Green Road is a story of fracture and family, selfishness and compassion – a book about the gaps in the human heart and how we learn to fill them. The children of Rosaleen Madigan leave the west of Ireland for lives they never could have imagined in Dublin, New York and various third-world towns. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother announces that she’s decided to sell the house and divide the proceeds. Her adult children come back for a last Christmas, with the feeling that their childhoods are being erased, their personal history bought and sold.
 James (Jamaica) – A Brief History of Seven Killings

Marlon James combines masterful storytelling with his unrivaled skill at characterization and his meticulous eye for detail to forge a novel of dazzling ambition and scope.


Laila Lalami (US) – The Moor’s Account

Inspired by a true story, tells how Moroccan slave Estebanico barely survives his expedition to become the New World’s first explorer of African descent, dealing with storms, disease, and hostile natives.

 McCarthy (UK) – Satin Island

Meet U. — a talented and uneasy figure currently pimping his skills to an elite consultancy in contemporary London. His employers advise everyone from big businesses to governments, and, to this end, expect their ‘corporate anthropologist’ to help decode and manipulate the world around them — all the more so now that a giant, epoch-defining project is in the offing. Instead, U. spends his days procrastinating, meandering through endless buffer-zones of information and becoming obsessed by the images with which the world bombards him on a daily basis: oil spills, African traffic jams, roller-blade processions, zombie parades. Is there, U. wonders, a secret logic holding all these images together — a codex that, once cracked, will unlock the master-meaning of our age? Might it have something to do with South Pacific Cargo Cults, or the dead parachutists in the news? Perhaps; perhaps not. As U. oscillates between the visionary and the vague, brilliance and bullshit, Satin Island emerges, an impassioned and exquisite novel for our disjointed times.

Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) – The Fishermen

In a small town in western Nigeria, four young brothers – the youngest is nine, the oldest fifteen – use their strict father’s absence from home to go fishing at a forbidden local river. They encounter a dangerous local madman who predicts that the oldest brother will be killed by another. This prophecy breaks their strong bond, and unleashes a tragic chain of events of almost mythic proportions. Passionate and bold, The Fishermen is a breathtakingly beautiful novel, firmly rooted in the best of African storytelling. With this powerful debut, Chigozie Obioma emerges as one of the most original new voices in world literature.


Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

This is Sophie Kinsella’s first step into the realm of the Young Adult genre.

Finding Audrey is an inspiring story of a teenage girl suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder. Audrey has experienced bullying, and as a result has become a prisoner in her own home. Finding Audrey is the story of her journey to recovery, with the help of a boy named Linus. It’s a little sad in places, sometimes funny and a little romantic too.

The story of Audrey and her chaotic family is a funny and uplifting one.

Audrey is brave, charming and resourceful. You’ll find yourself cheering her on in a bid to overcome her troubles.

Review by Marie Delaney

Christmas in July Anyone?

The recent cold snap has brought plunging temperatures and surprise snowfalls to much of the Southern Hemisphere. Here at Team Booko this means a craving for cosiness, open fireplaces and comfort food – the perfect mood for celebrating “Christmas in July”!

Christmas in July is the perfect excuse for enjoying traditional Christmas fare in their rightful wintery setting. It is a great opportunity to spend some indoor time with friends and loved ones and bring some fun to cold dreary days. Here are some books to inspire you in creating your own Christmas in July festivities.

Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson
Nigella’s philosophy of maximum indulgence for minimum fuss just resonates with Christmas in July. Nigella Christmas has a range of traditional and modern recipes including for canapés, drinks, edible gifts, breakfasts and hangover cures. There are also meal plans and schedules to help you get everything ready at the right time. Now in a stylish new edition.




Scandinavian Christmas by Trine Hahnemann
If anyone knows how to make the most of cold weather it would be the Scandinavians. Nordic Christmases have retained many traditional festivities that brighten up the whole of December. This book combines charming folkloric customs with fresh seasonal recipes and Nordic design cool. Christmas with an exotic and elegant twist.


Gluten Free Christmas by Hannah Miles
Those on a gluten-free diet no longer need to feel left out! Hannah Miles is helping more people enjoy Christmas with her recipes for gluten-free treats such as baked goods, desserts and gravies and sauces.




Craft it Up: Christmas Around the World by Libby Abadee and Cath Armstrong
Besides delicious food, a Christmas celebration is incomplete without decorations. Libby Abadee and Cath Armstrong have collected a range of fun and unusual Christmas craft ideas from around the world, including an Uruguayan crib scene and beautiful Snow Queen dolls. Each project is described step-by-step with illustrations. Perfect for young and old to join in the fun.



How to Drink at Christmas by Victoria Moore
For the more culinarily-challenged, how about a Christmas in July drinks party? This book contains a collection of drinks perfect for chilly days, including mulled wine, spiced coffee, cocktails and even restorative herb infusions. It also provides advice on matching drinks to festive foods. Sure to build atmosphere for a fabulous winter celebration.





The Guardian Children’s fiction award for 2015 – Longlist

The 8 finalists for the Guardian Children’s fiction award for 2015 are diverse and complex according to Piers Torday (author of ‘The Dark Wild’ and winner of the Guardian Children’s fiction prize in 2014). ‘These books are quite simply some of the best writing for children today, from graphic novels to Victorian sequels, Greek myths to the US civil war. Diverse, complex, accessible experimental, page turning and heart breaking, they bring young readers the world on a single shelf.’ Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders

This book is an incredible, heart-wrenching sequel to E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It, set on the eve of the First World War. The five children have grown up – war will change their lives forever. Cyril is off to fight, Anthea is at Art College, Robert is a Cambridge scholar and Jane is at high school. The Lamb is the grown up age of 11, and he has a little sister, Edith, in tow. The sand fairy has become a creature of stories…until he suddenly reappears.



My Name’s not Friday by Jon

A tale of the American Civil War from the perspective of an educated orphan boy sold into slavery.


 Island of our Own by Sally Nicholls

From one of the brightest talents in children’s fiction and the winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book prize comes a new novel about family and friendship. Siblings Jonathan, Holly and Davy have been struggling to survive since the death of their mother, and are determined to avoid being taken into care.




The Lie Tree by Frances

Faith’s father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered. The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father’s murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as the tree bears more and more fruit, she discovers something terrifying – that her lies were closer to the truth than she could ever have imagined. Deafo by Cece Bell

The author recounts in graphic novel format her experiences with hearing loss at a young age, including using a bulky hearing aid, learning how to lip read, and determining her “superpower.”





A Song for Ella Grey by David

I’m the one who’s left behind. I’m the one to tell the tale. I knew them both… knew how they lived and how they died. Claire is Ella Grey’s best friend. She’s there when the whirlwind arrives on the scene: catapulted into a North East landscape of gutted shipyards; of high arched bridges and ancient collapsed mines. She witnesses a love so dramatic it is as if her best friend has been captured and taken from her. the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

The story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die.







Apple and Rain by Sarah

When Apple’s mother returns after eleven years of absence, Apple feels whole again. She will have an answer to her burning question – why did you go? And she will have someone who understands what it means to be a teenager – unlike Nana. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother’s homecoming is bitter sweet, and Apple wonders who is really looking after whom. It’s only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is, that she begins to see things as they really are.




City Guide: Rome

There is an Italian expression, Roma, non basta una vita, which means that for Rome, a lifetime is not enough to really know her. I visited Rome once, for a period of a few days but during that time I fell in love with this beautiful city. Aside from the obligatory touristy things like lining up for the Colosseum and throwing a coin into the Trevi fountain, it was simply walking the streets, gelato in hand that I loved. We are lucky we can bring Rome to life simply by reading a book. Here are our recommendations:


I, ClaudiusI, Claudius by Robert Graves

The emperor Claudius tells of his life during the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula and the events that led to his rise to power in a classic novel reconstructing ancient Rome.





The Public Image by Muriel

“All homage to Muriel Spark, the coolest writer ever to scald your liver and your lights” (The Washington Post). The Public Image, which the author has called “an ethical shocker,” provides a scalding the reader is unlikely to forget, particularly as it is so enjoyable.
 Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Murder and romance, innocence and experience dominate this sinister novel set in mid-19th-century Rome. Three young American artists and their friend, an Italian count, find their lives irrevocably linked when one of them commits a violent crime of passion. Hawthorne’s final novel is “must reading” for its symbolic narrative of the Fall of Man.



Rome Tales by Hugh Shankland, Helen

In ways no guide book can achieve, these twenty absorbing tales by Italian authors ranging from Boccaccio in the Middle Ages to contemporary new writers offer the delight of discovering and exploring one of the world’s most unique cities thorough a wide variety of individual lives and epochs.

 by Gabrielle D’Annunzio

This new translation of D’Annunzio’s masterpiece, the first in more than one hundred years, restores what was considered too offensive to be included in the 1898 translation—some of the very scenes that are key to the novel’s status as a landmark of literary decadence.



So you want to be an…..Interior Designer

Feel you have a knack of creating beautiful spaces or just looking for some inspiration?  Here is a collection of 5 beautiful books to scratch that itch:


An Eye for Design by Allegra Hicks

This work examines textile, interior, and fashion designer Hicks’ approach to design and luxury. The book retraces the genesis of her patterns over the past decades of her work.


The Language of Interior Design by Alexa Hampton

The daughter of a celebrated White House decorator draws on early memories of watching her father and studying art to counsel readers on how to understand design by observing four basic principles, sharing lavish photographs of 18 homes that represent a variety of styles.


A La Carte: The Elements of an elegant home by Sherrill Canet

Choose your style then let Canet guide you through the steps of decorating every room in the house – from the front hall to the master bedroom.


Island Style by India Hicks

India Hicks: Island Style invites readers into the charming world of Hibiscus Hill. Timeless and under-decorated, her designs combine carefree island culture with British colonial form and formality.


Things I love by Megan Morton

A fun, inspiring and practical guide to loveable interiors. In Things I Love, interiors stylist extraordinaire and author of Home Love Megan Morton inspires by example, sharing her infectious enthusiasm for the houses, people and design she loves.





The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

by Maria Kondo


Book Review by Marie Delaney


This #1 New York Times best-selling guide to tidying your home is not only a game changer, it’s life changing!


Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo offers readers a step-by-step guide through the KonMari Method enabling an easy way to simplify, organise, and store.


In a nutshell, if an item doesn’t spark joy in your home, it shouldn’t be there – that goes for clothes, trinkets, photos, make up and old copies of bills (but who would want them anyway).


I was hooked from page one, and when I gave it a go at home, I felt lighter, happier and the house was brighter…and we didn’t even have much clutter to begin with! Nevertheless I ended up with 3 car loads of goodies for the charity store, copious bags filled for recycling and a few for the bin man.


Be warned – it’s not for the faint hearted, and once you start you will not want to stop.


I bought the e book – you’ll know why when you have finished it.





Segment Choice: Crime Fiction

Whenever you look at any best-seller list, there is going to be at least a few crime novels. More often the crime is murder and the novel is based around the investigation and eventual resolution. Murder is something that fascinates us, you just need to turn on the TV after 8pm to realise that. I think it’s in part due to the mystery: who committed the crime? It’s also the psychological analysis: what drives someone to commit such a crime?


Here are 5 of the best:


The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected that she was being blackmailed. Then came the news that she had taken her own life. But, before he found all the clues, he was murdered.


Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .’ Working as a lady’s companion, our heroine’s outlook is bleak until, on a trip to the south of France, she meets a handsome widower whose proposal takes her by surprise. She accepts but, whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the forbidding housekeeper Mrs Danvers forever keeps the memory of his dead wife Rebecca alive.


Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg

One snowy day in Copenhagen, six-year-old Isaiah falls to his death from a city rooftop. The police pronounce it an accident. But Isaiah’s neighbour, Smilla, an expert in the ways of snow and ice, suspects murder. She embarks on a dangerous quest to find the truth, following a path of clues as clear to her as footsteps in the snow.


In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is both a masterpiece of journalism and a powerful crime thriller. Inspired by a 300-word article in The New York Times, Capote spent six years exploring and writing the story of Kansas farmer Herb Clutter, his family and the two young killers who brutally murdered them.


Misery by Stephen King

Paul Sheldon, author of a series of historical romances, wakes up in a secluded farmhouse in Colorado with broken legs and Annie Wilkes, a disappointed and deranged fan, hovering over him with drugs, an axe, a blowtorch and demanding he bring his fictional heroine back to life.