Category Archives: Australian Stories

Celebrating Children’s Books with Booko: Chatterpuss

This is Chatterpuss. And this is Glenn. One’s a noisy cat. One’s a quiet hen. Although they’re different, they’re best friends…but even friends can drive you round the bend! Chatterpuss is a joyful new picture book about friendship (and non-stop blabbering) by award-winning singer/songwriter, Josh Pyke.

Six of the newest lifestyle books on the market

Working from home had previously conjured up the idea of waking when you wanted, showering and then easing yourself into the day by making a coffee and wandering towards your laptop with slippered feet. 

In reality it’s a little different. Laptops are balanced on makeshift desks, there’s rushed makeup to be done for zoom calls, cans of dry shampoo are now our best friends, wifi can be a little temperamental, alarms still rudely wake us in the morning, the working day seems to start earlier and finish later, it’s all a bit frantic really and we haven’t even mentioned home schooling. 

One way to slow this new way of living down is to make sure you have taken the time to give yourself a dedicated space to work (even if it is the end of the dining table) a space to rest and relax, and a space to play. We have scoured the internet and flicked through a number of glorious books to bring you what we think are six inspiring new reads that will help you embrace our new Covid friendly lifestyles with colourful flair.

The Pattered Interior by Greg Natale

Ohhh there’s something so fun at peaking inside other people’s houses to see how they live. The Patterned Interior tours a rural Oklahoma property that redefines contemporary rustic cool; a unique surf-inspired penthouse overlooking one of Australia s most sought-after beaches; a Midtown New York pied-a-terre that exudes sophistication; a vast country estate in southern Australia with a distinct rock vibe; and a light-filled city apartment in one of Sydney s most iconic buildings. From the big picture to the smallest vignette, Natale shows how pattern can transform and enhance any space.

Greg Natale presents his signature approach to the juxtaposition of graphics and patterns within each space. At once sophisticated and characterful, Natale’s interiors are renowned for marrying contemporary accents with vintage pieces to create environments that traverse serenity and flamboyance. In this exquisite photographic monograph, Natale guides the reader through a diverse selection of residences, exploring the power and importance of pattern increasing unforgettable interiors. Natale’s unique insights are accompanied by stunning images by acclaimed photographer Anson Smart.

Vivid: Style in Colour by Julia Green and Armelle Habib

This bright and cheerful book is currently sitting on my desk beside me, nudging me to take on a little more colour and branch away from my usual grey and white home. Vivid: Style in Colour is an interiors book celebrating the influence of colour in the world of design and our everyday lives. Built around the insights of renowned stylist Julia Green gathered over several decades, Vivid looks at the spaces we inhabit both at home and at work, and how the application of colour can create different outcomes and impacts. The book includes eight chapters divided by colour: orange, red, blue, green, pink, yellow, neutrals, and black. Photographer Armelle Habib contributes stunning interior shots alongside travel vignettes that tell the story of how different palettes are interwoven into our lives. Vivid features interviews from leading proponents of the art of colour around the world, including Martyn Thomson (Sydney), Jessica Bettenay (Melbourne), Marielle Ienna (Palermo), LRNCE (Marrakech) and Los Enamorados (Ibiza). Short essays on colour in styling and design complement the photography, addressing the science of colour and colour psychology, confidence in bold or clashing colour, using colour to connect or divide spaces, artworks, layering colour for depth and texture, and styling for small spaces and for the seasons. Vivid tackles questions around the application of colour and, crucially, where to begin if your life feels like it could benefit from some new (coloured) energy.

Curate: Inspiration for an Individual Home by Lynda Gardener

Designer, Photographer, Creative Director and Doyenne of the unique and decorative, Australian interior stylist and boutique hotelier, Lynda Gardener, is always on the hunt for finds to enhance her homes and decorating projects. Her ability to curate and display these personal treasures has created a trademark style that is loved internationally. Curate, the highly anticipated book by creative duo, Lynda Gardener and journalist and stylist Ali Heath, reveals how to create a home that is truly individual. With their shared love of a monochrome aesthetic and natural imperfections, they explore the eight elements that bring a space to life: palette, nature, textiles, lighting, a combination of old and new, storage, collections and art. Ten aspirational homes show the style in practice, including a converted warehouse, one-bedroom studio, bijoux apartment, historic cottage, country estate, new-build barn, remote shack, period townhouse and rural retreat. With gloriously evocative photography and plenty of down-to-earth ideas, Curate will encourage readers to embrace their individual style, dream big and create a timeless interior of their own.

Escape into Cottagecore by Ramona Jones

Find happiness in the natural world, be fully present where you are and free yourself from the expectations of others. Embrace a more peaceful life with cottagecore – a soft, fairytale world that combines traditional comforts with a modern existence to create a sense of magic and retreat.

While we may not be able to uproot ourselves and settle entirely off-grid in the middle of a forest, Escape into Cottagecore will help you rekindle your love of nature and rediscover simple joys, wherever you may live.

Full of practical advice and inspiration, and covering topics from home decor and herbology to eating with the seasons and mindfulness, this beautiful book will invite you on a cottagecore odyssey, bringing the nostalgia, relaxation and beauty of countryside living to every part of your life.

The Secret Life of the Modern House by Dominic Bradbury

Over the last century the way that we live at home has changed dramatically. Nothing short of a design revolution has transformed our houses and the spaces within them – moving from traditional patterns of living all the way through to an era of more fluid, open-plan and modern styles. Whether we live in a new home or a period house, our spaces will have been shaped one way or another by the pioneering Modernists and Mid-century architects and designers who argued for a fresh way of life. Architectural and design writer Dominic Bradbury charts the course of this voyage all the way from the late 19th century through to the houses of today in this ground-breaking book. Over nineteen thematic chapters, he explains the way our houses have been reinvented, while taking in – along the way – the giants of Art Deco, influential Modernists including Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as post-war innovators such as Eero Saarinen and Philip Johnson. Taking us from the 20th to the 21st century, Bradbury explores the progress of ‘modernity’ itself and reveals the secret history of our very own homes.

You. Your Space. Your Life. Arrange your environment to soothe your Soul by Ellen Schneider

This book is a little different from the others as it addresses your attitude to home, rather than what is inside it. Occupying a home is occupying a life. It is more than bricks and lumber. It is living among the nuances of your attitudes, the perpetuation of your feelings and your personal taste. As you read this book, you will be given the opportunity to realise how your personal choices surround you and how this surrounding creates a mood, a pulse that pours into every cell of your body and life. And the question is, is it reflecting the life that you want? Go deeply, travel gently and come out the other side evolved and renewed. And then begin, step by step, to arrange your support around you in an authentic way that propels you into your future with confidence and delight.

Enjoy!

Six of the newest contemporary fiction titles on the market now

Contemporary fiction has been growing in popularity and the number of titles hitting the market is skyrocketing. It is a genre that typically has reality-based stories with strong characters and a believable storyline. We have loved researching this genre and while staying safe at home we have had the chance to read a little more than usual. Here are our top six picks of the newest contemporary fiction books that are on the market now.

The Truth About Her by Jacqueline Maley

How can you write other people’s stories, when you won’t admit the truth of your own? An absorbing, moving, ruefully tender, witty and wise novel of marriage, motherhood and the paths we navigate through both, for fans of Ann Patchett and Anne Tyler. Journalist and single mother Suzy Hamilton gets a phone call one summer morning, and finds out that the subject of one of her investigative exposes, 25-year-old wellness blogger Tracey Doran, has killed herself overnight. Suzy is horrified by this news but copes in the only way she knows how: through work, mothering, and carrying on with her ill-advised, tandem affairs. The consequences of her actions catch up with Suzy over the course of a sticky Sydney summer. She starts receiving anonymous vindictive letters and is pursued by Tracey’s mother wanting her, as a kind of rough justice, to tell Tracey’s story, but this time, the right way. A tender, absorbing, intelligent and moving exploration of guilt, shame, female anger, and, in particular, mothering, with all its trouble and treasure, The Truth About Her is mostly though a story about the nature of stories, who owns them, who gets to tell them, and why we need them. This is an entirely striking, stylish and contemporary novel.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

A Lonely Girl Is A Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu

Jena Chung plays the violin. She was once a child prodigy and is now addicted to sex. She’s struggling a little. Her professional life comprises rehearsals, concerts, auditions and relentless practice; her personal life is spent managing family demands, those of her creative friends, and lots of sex. Jena is selfish, impulsive and often behaves badly, though mostly only to her own detriment. And then she meets Mark, much older and worldly-wise, who bewitches her. Could this be love? When Jena wins an internship with the New York Philharmonic, she thinks the life she has dreamed of is about to begin. But when Trump is elected, New York changes irrevocably and Jena along with it. Is the dream over? With echoes of Frances Ha, Jena’s favourite film, truths are gradually revealed to her. Jena comes to learn that there are many different ways to live and love and that no one has the how-to guide for any of it, not even her indomitable mother. A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing unflinchingly explores the confusion of having expectations upturned, and the awkwardness and pain of being human in our increasingly dislocated world, and how, in spite of all this, we still try to become the person we want to be. It is a dazzling, original and astounding debut from a young writer with a fierce, intelligent and fearless new voice.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

32-year-old Nina Dean is a successful food writer with a loyal online following, but a life that is falling apart. When she uses dating apps for the first time, she becomes a victim of ghosting, and by the most beguiling of men. Her beloved dad is vanishing in slow motion into dementia, and she’s starting to think about ageing and the gendered double-standard of the biological clock. On top of this she has to deal with her mother’s desire for a mid-life makeover and the fact that all her friends seem to be slipping away from her . . . Dolly Alderton’s debut novel is funny, tender and painfully relatable, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships and the way we live today.

One Hundred Days by Alice Pung

One hundred days. It’s no time at all, she tells me. But she’s not the one waiting. In a heady whirlwind of independence, lust and defiance, sixteen-year-old Karuna falls pregnant. Not on purpose, but not entirely by accident, either. Incensed, Karuna’s mother, already over-protective, confines her to their fourteenth-storey housing-commission flat, to keep her safe from the outside world, and make sure she can’t get into any more trouble. Stuck inside for endless hours, Karuna battles her mother and herself for a sense of power in her own life, as a new life forms and grows within her. As the due date draws ever closer, the question of who will get to raise the baby, who it will call Mum, festers between them. One Hundred Days is a fractured fairytale exploring the fault lines between love and control. At times tense and claustrophobic, it is nevertheless brimming with humour, warmth and character. It is a magnificent new work from one of Australia’s most celebrated writers.

The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison by Meredith Jaffe

Can a wedding dress save a bunch of hardened criminals? The Full Monty meets Orange is the New Black in a poignantly comic story about a men’s prison sewing circle. Derek’s daughter Debbie is getting married. He’s desperate to be there, but he’s banged up in Yarrandarrah Correctional Centre for embezzling funds from the golf club, and, thanks to his ex-wife, Lorraine, he hasn’t spoken to Debbie in years. He wants to make a grand gesture, to show her how much he loves her. But what? Inspiration strikes while he’s embroidering a cushion at his weekly prison sewing circle, he’ll make her a wedding dress. His fellow stitchers rally around and soon this motley gang of criminals is immersed in a joyous whirl of silks, satins and covered buttons. But as time runs out and tensions rise both inside and outside the prison, the wedding dress project takes on greater significance. With lives at stake, Derek feels his chance to reconcile with Debbie is slipping through his fingers. This is a funny, dark and moving novel about finding humanity, friendship and redemption in unexpected places.

Enjoy!

Refresh your bookshelf with Booko: Setting Boundaries

In the face of ever-increasing demands in life we often find ourselves giving in to demands. Setting Boundaries guides our recalibration to help reset our health and wellbeing.


Refresh your bookshelf with Booko: Vivid

This one is for the interior lovers and colour enthusiasts. Vivid: Style in Colour is an interiors book celebrating the influence of colour in the world of design and our everyday lives. Click through to pre-order a copy now.


Six of the newest crime novels of 2021

There’s something about Winter that makes curling up to read a gripping crime novel seem so right. Maybe it’s because crime stories rarely take place in the summer or on a beach. Maybe it’s the rain and the dark afternoons and looming storms that create a sense of being in the thick of it. Well hold onto your hats and brace yourself for some sleepless nights – have we got some great novels to settle into! Below are six new crime novels hitting the market now. 

The lady With The Gun Asks The Questions by Kerry Greenwood

The Honourable Phryne Fisher – she of the Lulu bob, Cupid’s bow lips, diamante garters and pearl-handled pistol – is the 1920s’ most elegant and irrepressible sleuth. Miss Phryne Fisher is up to her stunning green eyes in intriguing crime in each of these entertaining, fun and compulsively readable stories. With the ever-loyal Dot, the ingenious Mr Butler and all of Phryne’s friends and household, the action is as fast as Phryne’s wit and logic. 

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

The unputdownable new novel from the bestselling author of The Ruin and The Scholar. Police corruption, an investigation that ends in tragedy and the mystery of a little girl’s silence – three unconnected events that will prove to be linked by one small town. While Detective Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, Garda Peter Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone. For some, like Anna and her young daughter Tilly, Roundstone is a refuge from trauma. But even this village on the edge of the sea isn’t far enough to escape from the shadows of evil men.

Vanishing Falls by Poppy Gee

Celia Lily is rich, beautiful, and admired. She’s also missing. And the search for the glamorous socialite is about to expose all the dark, dirty secrets of Vanishing Falls…

Deep within the lush Tasmanian rainforest is the remote town of Vanishing Falls, a place with a storied past. The town’s showpiece, built in the 1800s, is its Calendar House, currently occupied by Jack Lily, a prominent art collector and landowner; his wife, Celia; and their four daughters. The elaborate, eccentrically designed mansion houses one masterpiece and 52 rooms and Celia Lily isn’t in any of them. She has vanished without a trace….

Joelle Smithton knows that a few folks in Vanishing Falls believe that she’s simple-minded. It’s true that Joelle’s brain works a little differently, a legacy of shocking childhood trauma. But Joelle sees far more than most people realise, and remembers details that others cast away. For instance, she knows that Celia’s husband, Jack, has connections to unsavory local characters whom he’s desperate to keep hidden. He’s not the only one in town with something to conceal. Even Joelle’s own husband, Brian, a butcher, is acting suspiciously. While the police flounder, unable to find Celia, Joelle is gradually parsing the truth from the gossip she hears and from the simple gestures and statements that can unwittingly reveal so much.

Just as the water from the falls disappears into the ground, gushing away through subterranean creeks, the secrets in Vanishing Falls are pulsing through the town, about to converge. And when they do, Joelle must summon the courage to reveal what really happened to Celia, even if it means exposing her own past…

The Chase by Candice Fox

Candice Fox has been described one of Australia’s finest new generation crime writers and her latest novel is another thrilling ride, as a mass prison breakout lets loose 650 of the country’s most dangerous prisoners. 

‘Are you listening, Warden?’ ‘What do you want?’ ‘I want you to let them out.’ ‘Which inmates are we talking about?’ ‘All of them.’ When 650 of the world’s most violent human beings pour out from Pronghorn Correctional Facility into the Nevada Desert, the biggest manhunt in US history begins. But for John Kradle, this is his one chance to prove his innocence, twenty-six years after the murder of his wife and child. He just needs to stay one step ahead of the teams of law enforcement officers he knows will be chasing the escapees down. Death Row Supervisor turned fugitive-hunter Celine Osbourne is single-minded in her mission to catch Kradle. She has very personal reasons for hating him, and she knows exactly where he’s heading

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs

This is the lastest title in the Temperance Brennan series. A storm has hit South Carolina, dredging up crimes of the past. On the way to Isle of Palms, a barrier island off the South Carolina coast, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan receives a call from the Charleston coroner. During the storm, a medical waste container has washed up on the beach. Inside are two decomposed bodies wrapped in plastic sheeting and bound with electrical wire. Chillingly, Tempe recognises many details as identical to those of an unsolved case she handled in Quebec fifteen years earlier. With a growing sense of foreboding, she flies to Montreal to gather evidence and convince her boss Pierre LaManch to reopen the cold case. She also seeks the advice, and comfort, of her longtime beau Andrew Ryan. Meanwhile, a storm of a different type gathers force in South Carolina. The citizens of Charleston are struck by a bacterium that, at its worst, can eat human flesh. Thousands panic and test themselves for a rare genetic mutation that may have rendered them vulnerable. Shockingly, Tempe eventually discovers that not only are the victims in both grisly murder cases related, but that the murders and the disease outbreak also have a common cause.

The Girl Remains by Katherine Firkin

Okay, so perhaps crime can occur on a beach

On the evening of September 22, 1998, three teenage girls venture out for a night of mischief in the coastal town of Blairgowrie. But only two return . . . For over twenty years the disappearance of fifteen-year-old Cecilia May remains a baffling cold case until human bones are discovered on an isolated beach. Now it’s up to Detective Emmett Corban and his team to dig up decades of trauma, and find the missing piece of an investigation that’s as complex as it is tragic. Does the answer lie with the only suspect, a registered sex offender who confessed, then immediately provided a rock-solid alibi? Or with the two teen survivors, neither of whom can keep their story straight? But the police aren’t the only ones hunting for the truth- someone else has arrived in the seaside town. And she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to find her own version of justice…

Enjoy!