Category Archives: Blog

How to Make a Difference in 2019

New year, new start. A new year encourages us to try new things in the hope of personal improvement.  Why not challenge yourself with goals that benefit both yourself and your environment or wider community? Even small changes can make a positive impact. Here are some ideas on how to make a difference in 2019.

Waste Not: Make a Big Difference by Throwing Away Less by Erin Rhoads

Modern society is full of stuff designed to be short-lived and then thrown away – from plastic packaging to coffee cups to clothes and even phones.  Many of us are trying to create less waste, but find the idea of being Zero-Waste too daunting (even though we are impressed at the same time).  Waste Not is a collection of tips and tricks that Erin Rhoads learnt during her own Zero-Waste journey, covering different aspects of life, including food, cleaning, beauty, entertaining and kids.  Many of the ideas are small and very approachable (such as BYO fabric shopping bag) and there are also creative DIY ideas for making your own cleaning products, gift wrapping and much more!

Scraps, Peels and Stems: Recipes and Tips for Rethinking Food Waste at Home by Jill Lightner and Shannon Douglas

Scraps, Peels and Stems is a recipe book with a difference – it minimises food waste by making the most of every part of an ingredient.  It shows you how to turn items such as beef bones, broccoli stalks, wilting greens and parmesan rinds into easy but impressive snacks and meals; there are also tips on planning your shopping to avoid overbuying; how to store food to keep it fresh for longer; and guides to composting and recycling.  Jill Lightner and Shannon Douglas show how you can make your kitchen sustainable with minimal effort – it’s kind to the environment and kind to your wallet too.

Lagom: the Swedish Art of Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne

Lagom is the Swedish concept of moderation – not too little, not too much, but just enough. Linnea Dunne suggests that lagom can deliver sustainable happiness, because it’s a philosophy that promotes balance and shared experiences while minimising waste and extravagance. Lagom: the Swedish Art of Balanced Living is a compact guide on how to introduce lagom into different aspects of our lives.  Many lagom activities, such as pot-luck dinners, choosing functionality over fashion, or upcycling, are low-cost or sustainable practices that also encourage mindfulness and living in the present.

The Reducetarian Solution: how the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in your Diet can Transform your Health and the Planet by Brian Kateman

Plant-based foods and veganism are hot topics right now, with ideas such as Meatless Mondays and reducetarian / flexitarian eating (people who are committed to eating less meat, without becoming fully vegetarian or vegan) gaining traction.  The Reducetarian Solution is a good introduction to this topic, with 70 short essays describing the wide-ranging consequences of eating meat – on health, environment, ethics, even finance.  There are also recipes for meat-free meals and tips on how to sub-out meat from your current diet.  The Reducetarian Solution offers positive yet non-judgmental inspiration for everyone interested in this lifestyle.

And finally – two super-topical bestsellers that are very much about mindful consumption:

The Barefoot Investor: the Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need by Scott Pape

Team Booko have recommended The Barefoot Investor several times now – but its powerful message is worth repeating.  Scott Pape does not promise to help his readers become millionaires, but he does show us simple and achievable ways to develop good money habits and work towards financial independence. Whether you are 8 or 80, trying to shake off debts or saving for a goal, you can learn something from The Barefoot Investor. No wonder this has been Booko’s most popular book for two years running.

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

The recent Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo has brought a whole new audience to Marie Kondo’s bestselling books.   Shopping may be fun, but you can end up with too many possessions that weigh you down both physically and mentally. Simplify your life with the KonMari method of decluttering – systematically reviewing items and only keeping those that “spark joy”. You’ll feel great about yourself, gain new appreciation for the things you choose to keep, and kick that impulse buying habit as well.

Booko’s Most Popular Books of 2018

2018 saw the release of some fabulous books and when we look at the most popular books that our Booko community has clicked on it certainly was an eclectic year. 

If you fancy a new book to read over the holidays have a look below at the most popular books clicked on by our community of readers in 2018. 

Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape

It’s not a new book (in fact it was published in 2016) but we just may need to give Scott a trophy. The Barefoot Investor has been our most clicked on book this year…and last year! 

Pape claims this is the only money guide you’ll ever need, which is a bold claim, given there are already thousands of finance books on the shelves. So what makes this one different? Well, you won’t be overwhelmed with a bunch of ‘tips’ or a strict budget (that you won’t follow). You’ll get a step-by-step formula: open this account, then do this; call this person, and say this; invest money here, and not there. All with a glass of wine in your hand. This book will show you how to create an entire financial plan that is so simple you can sketch it on the back of a serviette and you’ll be able to manage your money in 10 minutes a week. This book is full of stories from everyday Aussies; single people, young families, empty nesters and retirees who have all applied the simple steps in this book and achieved amazing, life-changing results.

Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi


Coming in at second place was this fabulous cookbook with recipes that we are sure featured on Christmas tables around the world this holiday season. Yotam Ottolenghi’s award-winning recipes are always a celebration: an unforgettable combination of abundance, taste and surprise. Simple is no different, with 140 brand-new dishes that contain all the inventive elements and flavour combinations that Ottolenghi is loved for, but with minimal hassle for maximum joy. Bursting with colourful photography, the book showcases Yotam’s standout dishes that will suit whatever type of cooking you find easy – whether that’s getting wonderful food on the table in under 30 minutes, using just one pot to make a delicious meal, or a flavoursome dish that can be prepared ahead and then served when you’re ready.

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B Peterson

What does everyone in the modern world need to know? Renowned psychologist Jordan B. Peterson’s answer to this most difficult of questions uniquely combines the hard-won truths of ancient tradition with the stunning revelations of cutting-edge scientific research.

Humorous, surprising and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticise too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street. What does the nervous system of the lowly lobster have to tell us about standing up straight (with our shoulders back) and about success in life? Why did ancient Egyptians worship the capacity to pay careful attention as the highest of gods? What dreadful paths do people tread when they become resentful, arrogant and vengeful? Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure and responsibility, distilling the world’s wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life shattering the modern commonplaces of science, faith and human nature, while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its readers.

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers

This is a true story of a young Yemeni-American man, raised in San Francisco, who dreams of resurrecting the ancient art of Yemeni coffee but finds himself trapped in Sana’a by civil war. Mokhtar Alkhanshali grew up in San Francisco, one of seven siblings brought up by Yemeni immigrants in a tiny apartment. At age twenty-four, unable to pay for college, he works as a doorman, until a statue of an Arab raising a cup of coffee awakens something in him. He sets out to learn the rich history of coffee in Yemen and the complex art of tasting and identifying varietals. He travels to Yemen and visits countless farms, collecting samples, eager to bring improved cultivation methods to the countryside. And he is on the verge of success when civil war engulfs Yemen in 2015. The US Embassy closes, Saudi bombs began to rain down on the country, and Mokhtar is trapped in Yemen. Desperate to escape, he embarks on a passage that has him negotiating with political factions and twice kidnapped at gunpoint. With no other options, he hires a skiff to take him, and his coffee samples, across the Red Sea. A heart-pounding true story that weaves together the history of coffee, the ongoing Yemeni civil war, and the courageous journey of a young man, both a Muslim and a US citizen, following the most American of dreams.

The Barefoot Investor for Families by Scott Pape

We just knew this book would be on the most popular list. Scott Pape’s first book has become one of the best selling Australian books ever. Why is it so successful? It’s simple, funny and practical. And it has changed people’s lives. This eagerly anticipated follow-up, The Barefoot Investor for Families, sticks to the same script. It’s aimed fairly and squarely at parents, grandparents, and basically anyone who read that book and said: ‘Why the hell wasn’t I taught this years ago?’ Scott lays out ten money milestones kids need to have nailed before they leave home, and it’s all structured around one family ‘money meal’ each week (so roughly 20 minutes). If you follow the roadmap, with tailor-made lessons for each age group, your kids will know how to do things like: learn the life-changing value of hard work, set up a fee-free bank account (or jam jars!), go on a Treasure Hunt around the house, and sell some of their ‘stuff’ second-hand and save your parents $100 on household bills. 

Scott’s mission is to make sure children are financially strong so they never, ever get sucked into the traps that middle-aged bankers have devised to rob them of their money and their confidence.

The Unreal and the Real by Ursula K. Le Guin 

Ursula Le Guin worked mainly in the genres of fantasy and science fiction, and authored children’s books, short stories, poetry, and essays. Her writing was first published in the 1960s and often depicted futuristic or imaginary alternative worlds in politics, the natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality, and ethnography. In 2016, The New York Times described her as “America’s greatest living science fiction writer” although she said that she would prefer to be known as an “American novelist”. The Unreal and the Real is a collection of some of Ursula K. Le Guin’s best short stories and garnered a lot of attention when she died in January. She won multiple prizes and accolades from the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to the Newbery Honour, the Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy, and PEN/Malamud Awards. She also had her work collected over the years, but this is the first short story volume combining a full range of her work. 

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

With extraordinary access to the Trump White House, Michael Wolff tells the inside story of the most controversial presidency of our time. The first nine months of Donald Trump’s term were stormy, outrageous and absolutely mesmerising. Now, thanks to his deep access to the West Wing, bestselling author Michael Wolff tells the riveting story of how Trump launched a tenure as volatile and fiery as the man himself. In this explosive book, Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s phenomenal international bestseller The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable shows us how to stop trying to predict everything and take advantage of uncertainty. What have the invention of the wheel, Pompeii, the Wall Street Crash, Harry Potter and the internet got in common? Why are all forecasters con-artists? What can Catherine the Great’s lovers tell us about probability? Why should you never run for a train or read a newspaper? This book is all about Black Swans: the random events that underlie our lives, from bestsellers to world disasters. Their impact is huge; they’re impossible to predict; yet after they happen we always try to rationalise them. 

Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt by Rhiannon Williams

In the most thrilling fantasy of the year, a young girl must pretend to be a boy to rescue her brother from a secret order of monster hunters. Ottilie Colter and her brother, Gully, have always fended for themselves. So when Gully goes missing one night, Ottilie sets out to find him and soon makes a horrible discovery. Gully has been forcibly recruited by the Narroway Hunt, a secretive male-only organisation that hunts savage, blight-spreading monsters called `dredretches’. Disguising herself as a boy, Ottilie infiltrates the Hunt but quickly realises that taking her brother home won’t be easy. Trapped in the heart of the dredretch-infested Narroway, it’s impossibly dangerous for them to leave. But as she trains to become a Huntsman alongside her brother, hoping for a chance to escape, how long can she keep her true identity a secret? From Rhiannon Williams comes book one in this bewitching trilogy about friendship, bravery and having the courage to do what’s right.

Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different by Ben Brooks 

This book can save lives. This book can change lives. This book can help to bring forth another generation of boys who dare to be different. Benjamin Zephaniah, Daniel Radcliffe, Galileo Galilei, Nelson Mandela, Louis Armstrong, Grayson Perry, Louis Braille, Lionel Messi, King George VI, Jamie Oliver… all dared to be different. Prince charming, dragon slayer, mischievous prankster… More often than not, these are the role-models boys encounter in the books they read at home and at school. As a boy, there is an assumption that you will conform to a stereotypical idea of masculinity. But what if you’re the introvert kind? What if you prefer to pick up a book rather than a sword? What if you want to cry when you’re feeling sad or angry? What if you like the idea of wearing a dress? There is an ongoing crisis with regards to young men and mental health, with unhelpful gender stereotypes contributing to this malaise. Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different offers a welcome alternative narrative. It is an extraordinary compilation of 100 stories of famous and not-so-famous men from the past to the present day, every single one of them a rule-breaker and innovator in his own way, and all going on to achieve amazing things.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 by Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli

This is the sequel to the sensational international bestseller Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. Inspiring girls around the world to dream bigger, aim higher and fight harder, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 is an entirely new collection of one hundred bedtime stories that celebrate extraordinary women from Nefertiti to Beyoncé, Rosalind Franklin to J.K. Rowling. Queens and activists, ballerinas and lawyers, pirates and computer scientists, astronauts and inventors – a stunning juxtaposition leaving a thrilling sense of possibility. Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli are New York Times bestselling authors whose work has been translated into more than thirty languages. 

Enjoy!

Movies to get you through the holiday period

Watching TV or movies is an important December holiday ritual for many people; and practical too, when you are too lethargic  during a food coma, or if harsh weather discourages you from venturing outdoors. We have great suggestions for your viewing pleasure, whether you prefer classic Christmas movies, or DVD box sets for binge watching, or inspiration for new year’s resolutions!

Movies to celebrate Christmas

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Region 1, US & Canada)

The Harry Potter films may not be everyone’s idea of a Christmas movie, but they are terrific at evoking the beauty of wintry Christmases.  The most Christmassy of them all is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – which contains the Yule Ball scene, with its spectacular snowing-indoors setting, gorgeous costumes, and the romance and tragi-comedy of teenage hormones – what’s not to love?  With a classic quest, friendship, comedy, mystery, pathos and impressive visual effects, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is great fun for kids and adults alike. Region 2 DVD (Europe) is here and Blu-Ray here.

Life of Brian (Region 2, Europe)

Life of Brian is the perfect Christmas film for those with a more wicked / cynical sense of humour, or those who scoff at more sentimental, shiny visions of Christmas.  This deeply-irreverent story about Brian of Nazareth, born next door to Jesus on the same day – is a terrific satire that lampoons religion, politics, gender relations and just about everything (and everyone) else. Enjoy Life of Brian as an impressive display of Monty Python’s comedic skills, or even for its notoriety (it was considered blasphemous, and was banned in many countries).  One of my favourite Christmas movies. Blu-ray available here.

Box sets for Binge Watching

Outlander Complete Seasons 1, 2 & 3 (Region 4, Australia & NZ)

Based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander is a bit of a hidden gem – highly regarded but somewhat under-publicised. Despite this, the show (and the novels) have amassed a big and active fanbase, whose passion matches that shown onscreen.  In Outlander we see Claire, a nurse in World War 2, accidentally travelling back to 1743 Scotland, where she meets Jamie, a Highlander embroiled in the Jacobite risings.  Claire and Jamie’s tender love story, against a background of history, political intrigue, adventure and stunning Scottish scenery makes for gripping drama. This DVD set collects all of Seasons 1-3, while Season 4 is under production and there are four other books in the series to be dramatised. A Region 2 version (Europe) and a Blu-ray are also available.

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 1&2 Box Set (Region 4, Australia & NZ)

The award-winning The Handmaid’s Tale offers a combination of powerful performance, beautiful cinematography and topical subject matter.  It is one of today’s most talked-about dramas – the dystopic world it envisions resonates eerily with the current political climate, and its striking visual style has entered popular culture and become part of the vocabulary of protest.  Season One is an admired adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s original novel, while Season 2 extends beyond the original story to explore the origins of Gilead, and the complex relationships between key characters.  This new-release box set covers all episodes to date.  A Region 2 version (Europe) is also available.

DVDs for calm

The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey (Region 4, Australia & NZ)

The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey is a 3-hour documentary, where front-mounted cameras show this iconic train’s journey from Adelaide to Darwin, as well as archival footage that explains the railway’s construction.  (A 17-hour unedited version was also broadcast on national television)  The Ghan is Australia’s first contribution to Slow TV, a concept most prominent in Norway, where extended broadcasts of real-time train journeys, knitting and wood-stacking are popular.
With no dialogue or plot, but stunning scenery, The Ghan’s journey is immersive, hypnotic and relaxing.

Walk with Me (Region 1, US & Canada)

A documentary about quietness, mindfulness and contemplation sounds like a welcome antidote to the hectic excesses of the holiday season.   Walk with Me shares glimpses in the life and teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, and Plum Village, the monastic community he founded in south-west France. Thich Nhat Hanh is instrumental in introducing mindfulness to the West; this film shows how he, and his disciples, live mindfully in the present.  The meditative quality of Walk with Me is further enhanced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who intersperses his narration with sonorous passages from Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings.  A Region 2 DVD (Europe) is also available.

The Best Last-Minute Gifts (including Great Vouchers!)

Two weeks till Christmas and still shopping for gifts?  Thanks to online shopping, you can access retailers from around the world, who can get your gift to your loved one in-time, even if they’re overseas.  Booko can help you compare stock availability and delivery times across a range of retailers – and don’t forget that express shipping may also be available. Just head to the Booko website, make sure the country flag at the top right hand corner is displaying your required destination (click on the flag to display and change options), then search for the item you want.  Booko will display prices and availability in the results table.

More details about buying for overseas deliveries are in our handy guide here.

 

Booko can help you find the best prices and fastest shipping for books, DVDs, games and even jigsaw puzzles ! Here are some more last-minute gift ideas:



Slow Down and Grow Something : the Urban Grower’s Recipe for the Good Life by Byron Smith and Tess Robinson

Gift this to your loved one, and you may be helping them check off several life goals at the same time.  Both gardening and cooking are great for our wellbeing – encouraging us to slow down, get outdoors and live in the moment.  Slow Down and Grow Something combines the horticultural skills of Byron Smith and cooking skills of Tess Robinson to offer us lots of tips on how to create your own food oases – whether you have a big backyard or just a few pots in an apartment.  Then make the most of your harvest with delicious recipes that you can enjoy on your own, or share with your friends (another boost for our mental health!).

Guinness World Records 2019

The Guinness World Records makes a classic gift – this is a perennial favourite for school-aged children!  Kids just love quirky and amazing facts (and reading them will quietly broadening their knowledge of the world).  It is also a thoughtful choice for reluctant readers – kids who find it difficult to enjoy “chapter books” or novels may enjoy the short, easy-to-dip-into format, the non-fiction focus and the colourful, lavishly illustrated pages.

Azul board game

The eye-catching Azul board game is the well-deserved winner of this year’s Game of the Year (Spiel des Jahres) award, and has been described by game reviewers as an “Instant Classic”.  Azul’s beautiful visual design is inspired by the intricate patterns on azulejos, Moorish decorative ceramic tiles from Spain and Portugal.  Azul is an abstract strategy-based game that is governed by simple rules, yet delivers surprisingly complex game play.  This family-friendly game is suitable for 2-4 players, aged 8+.

Sushi Go!

Sushi Go is a popular card game that is easy to learn and fast-playing, great for kids on their own, or multi-age groups such as family gatherings.  Make the most points by collecting different types of sushi and desserts!  The cards are colourful, with cute sushi characters, and come in a sturdy metal tin that is perfect for taking along on holidays.  For 2-5 players, aged 8+.

The Elements by Theodore Gray 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle

Theodore Gray’s The Elements is a coffee-table book that combines the best of science and art – it is a tour through the chemical elements of the periodic table, in a stylish format, lavishly illustrated with photographs of objects associated with each element.  This million-copy bestseller has inspired two sequels (Molecules and Reactions), apps, jigsaw puzzles and even quilts!  This 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle shows the full periodic table as displayed in the book.  The finished item measures approximately 92cm x 41cm.

Gift Vouchers / Cards / Certificates

Gift vouchers/cards/certificates can be a real life-saver when you have no time to shop – vouchers are emailed immediately upon purchase, either to you for printing, or directly to the recipient. So all you need is a few minutes to click through and complete the purchase!  Delight children with the ability to “go shopping” for exactly what they want; or introduce a loved one to the huge range on offer in an online bookstore.  Booko has a list of bookstore gift voucher options here.

The Best Travel Books for 2018

We’re rushing headlong towards the end of the year, and here in Australia the weather is warming up beautifully – two things that make me think of holidays and travelling! For me, the prospect of resuming travelling (after an extended break) is filling me with anticipation – there are still so many places I want to visit!  Whether you are a seasoned traveller, or one new to the game, there’s some excellent travel writing to inspire, entertain and inform you. Here are some of our favourites from this year:

Journeys of a Lifetime, Second Edition: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips by National Geographic

Here’s all your travel inspo in one hit – the second edition of Journeys of a Lifetime, completely revised to mark its 10th anniversary.  From iconic places to hidden gems, these destinations and routes represent the 500 favourite journeys of the travel writers at National Geographic.  Covering every continent and mode of transport, Journeys of a Lifetime is particularly strong on adventurous trips – whether it’s cruising in Antarctica, trekking up Kilimanjaro or mountain biking in Transylvania.  There are also thematic sections, with ideas for urban walks, food pilgrimages, hot new museums and more.  Packed with maps, planning advice and amazing photography, this gorgeous book will provide inspiration and information for years to come.

Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eatlist : the 500 Best Dishes to Eat on the Planet, Ranked by Lonely Planet

Ultimate Eatlist is another “500 Best” book that will be a great reference as well as inspiration.  For many people (myself included), trying different cuisines is a favourite part of travelling, so the team at Lonely Planet has scoured the world for the most delicious, iconic and memorable eating experiences.  From Laksa in Kuala Lumpur, BBQ in Texas to oysters in Tasmania, Ultimate Eatlist will show you what to eat, where to eat it, the history and culture behind each food, and why the experience will be special.  Don’t read this book when you’re hungry!

Rooms with a View: the Secret Life of Grand Hotels by Adrian Mourby

The names of famous hotels – such as the Dorchester (London), Raffles (Singapore), and The Plaza (New York) – instantly evoke images of history, glamour, money, celebrities. These are also potent ingredients for gossip!  Hotel historian and travel addict Adrian Mourby has collected wonderfully entertaining tales about 50 of these grand hotels around the world.  Read about how the details of India’s independence were drafted in the ballroom of the Imperial Hotel in Delhi; or about the time Salvador Dali asked room service at Hotel Le Meurice in Paris to send him a flock of sheep. The Great, the Good and the Eccentric, including Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Elizabeth Taylor – all made appearances, and some times, history – in these grand establishments.

Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding

Pasta, Pane, Vino is the latest book by Roads & Kingdoms, a crew that applies foreign correspondence-style journalism to food, music and travel (thereby elevating it to a new and impressive level).  Matt Goulding travels across Italy and shows how food staples – pasta, bread, cheese, wine – remain anchored in tradition, whilst allowing new generations of artisans the scope to innovate for the future.  Matt’s exploration of food is also the starting point for deep-dives into Italian history, politics and culture.  Each chapter is like a short documentary that is both intense and intimate. Pasta, Pane, Vino will hit the spot If you like your writing insightful and intellectual.

The Kings of the Yukon: an Alaskan River Journey by Adam Weymouth

Adam Weymouth spent four months canoeing along the Yukon River, tracing the life cycle of the legendary king salmon.  From the spawning grounds of McNeil Lake in the Canadian interior, he travels over 3,000 km to the Bering Sea – and each year, thousands of salmon make this same journey in reverse, against the current and uphill, back to their birthplace to spawn and then die.  Along the way, he meets various locals, whose lives are entwined with the fate of the salmon.  The Kings of the Yukon is a quiet, poetic book befitting a journey through such a remote, rugged area.  The slow pace of canoeing allows Adam Weymouth plenty of time for reflection on ecology, sustainability, and the tension between conservation and cultural traditions.

A Year Off: a Story about Travelling the World and How to Make it Happen for You by Alexandra and David Brown

“Don’t Dream it, Do it!” is the message by Alexandra and David Brown – if you have ever dreamt of taking a year off to travel the world, then this is the book for you.  A few months into their relationship, Alexandra and David decided to take a year off from work and travel together. Visiting 20 countries in 12 months is a big challenge for a new couple, and this book details the highs and the lows, the glorious moments and the sheer exhaustion.  Alexandra and David also show how to plan and budget for such a trip, the conversations you need to have with your boss, how to manage the mundane stuff whilst on the road.  Combining guidebook, travel essays and memoir, A Year Off will inspire you to finally take the plunge with that dream trip.

The Kindness of Strangers: Travel Stories that Make your Heart Grow edited by Fearghal O’Nuallain

Travelling is exciting because it takes us to new and distant places; however, in such unfamiliar places, without our usual support network, we become vulnerable.   The Kindness of Strangers explores what it means to be vulnerable and to be helped by someone we’ve never met, someone who could have walked past, but chose not to.  Contributors share personal stories of the kindnesses they have received from adventures around the world, from a warm and cheering bowl of soup, to a rescue from a dire situation.  The Kindness of Strangers is not just a travel book, but one that reminds its readers that much good can arise from even the smallest of kind gestures. In doing so, it encourages readers to empathise and be kind too.  All royalties go towards supporting Oxfam in their work with refugees – the most vulnerable travellers of them all.

The Atlas Obscura Explorers Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid by Dylan Thuras

The team behind the bestselling Atlas Obscura has returned with a book, designed to inspire wanderlust in a younger generation!  The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid is packed with fascinating and unusual information about 47 different countries spread across every continent.  Besides distant and exotic places – such as the Crystal Caves in Mexico and Blood Falls in Antarctica – it also encourages young readers to explore and reveal the hidden wonders of their own environments.  Designed to appeal to 8-12 year olds (the age when curious facts and amazing records really capture their imaginations), this is a beautifully-produced book that will be perfect for gifting.

Bestselling Nonfiction of 2018 (so far)

September marks the start of a big season of book launches, and we at Team Booko can’t be more excited.  In recent years I have found myself drawn more and more to nonfiction, excited by the range on offer – not only are there instructional books ready to help you pick up new skills, there are also gorgeous pictorial works to inspire dreams; and many real-life stories that are fascinating, dramatic and uplifting.  Here are some of our favourite nonfiction titles for this year (so far), including a few new releases that are destined to be bestsellers.
Together: Our Community Cookbook by The Hubb Community Kitchen (with foreword by HRH The Duchess of Sussex)
Combine the star power of the newlywed Duchess of Sussex (aka Meghan Markle), a worthy cause (supporting a community kitchen founded by survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire), and a life-affirming message (celebrating the nurturing qualities of cooking and eating together), and you get an instant bestseller.  Together: Our Community Cookbook shares over 50 delicious recipes from around the world, of homestyle dishes that helped this group of women, and their families, retain a sense of normality and home, after the devastating Grenfell Tower fire.  Profits from this book will help The Hubb Community Kitchen reach out to more vulnerable people through the cooking and sharing of food.
Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon by Iris Apfel
Even if you don’t recognise Iris Apfel by name, you will probably recognise her round glasses, bold jewellery and colourful outfits.  Her distinctive, joyous style has made her a fashion icon late in life – she describes herself as a “geriatric starlet” – as well as an inspiration to anyone who wants to live a bold, quirky and uncompromising life.  At age 97, Iris is a designer / model / writer / actor and busier than ever.  Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon is a collection of musings about her life, her work (as an interior designer for the White House who has worked for nine different Presidents), and her attitudes to style and ageing.  Totally fun and uplifting.
Lonely Planet Epic Hikes of the World
Dont dream it, do it! Lonely Planet gives you inspiration for your next trip, in this collection of Epic Hikes of the World.  With details of 50 incredible routes in 30 countries, plus a further 150 suggestions, Lonely Planet will have you covered, wherever your preferred destination.  There are first-hand travelogues as well as trip-planning details and advice.  And don’t worry if you are new to hiking, or just more of a city explorer – The profiled walks range from day-trips and urban trails to month-long hikes and expeditions.  Epic Hikes of the World is a companion to the bestselling Epic Bike Rides of the World and Epic Drives of the World.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
The Guardian newspaper credits Yuval Noah Harari with making serious non-fiction cool again.  In his earlier books, the surprise bestsellers Sapiens and Homo Deus, he explained the history of humanity and the rise of civilisation in terms of evolutionary psychology.  Now Yuval Noah Harari looks at the present.  21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a collection of essays about the big issues – AI and automation, Fake News and populism, religion, climate change – and how we can manage their impact on our lives.  His talent at combining unexpected ideas into dazzling observations makes this a thought-provoking yet accessible read that helps us make sense of these uncertain times.
Mirka and Georges: a Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan
Published just after her recent death, Mirka and Georges is a lavishly illustrated book that celebrates the lives of Mirka and Georges Mora – their art, their food, and the huge impact they have had on the cultural life of Australia.  Arriving in Melbourne in the early 1950s, Mirka and Georges quickly became the centre of the bohemian scene, injecting a sense of vibrancy and European sophistication into a formerly staid, conservative city. Mirka and Georges: a Culinary Affair tells their fabulous story through a lovingly-reproduced collection of recipes, anecdotes, photographs and artworks.
Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi
I love Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes – the bold flavour combinations, the respect for vegetables, the Mediterranean and Asian influences – but have to admit that they can be quite daunting, with their long lists of ingredients and “cheffy” techniques.  Ottolenghi Simple aims to dispel that reputation by offering 130 new recipes that are more home-style and achievable. Each of the recipes are either “short on time (under 30 minutes)”, “10 ingredients or less”, “make ahead”, “pantry”, “lazy” or “easier than you think” (or a combination of these). A great introduction to Ottolenghi’s amazing food.
Boys will be Boys: an Exploration of Power, Patriarchy and the Toxic Bonds of Mateship by Clementine Ford
Clementine Ford’s first book Fight Like a Girl was both influential and controversial, exploding like a hand grenade lobbed into our collective consciousness.  In Boys Will Be Boys, she turns her focus onto boys and men and toxic masculinity.  As the mother of an infant son, Clementine asks, “how do we raise boys so that they support and respect women and give them equal space in the world?”.  She argues that the patriarchy and its toxic beliefs are as harmful to boys and men as it is to girls and women, and proposes actions to effect real change.
Erebus: the Story of a Ship by Michael Palin
For almost 170 years, HMS Erebus was at the centre of a famous mystery – it was abandoned in 1846 during the failed Franklin expedition to find the Northwest Passage, and both the expedition party and their ships then disappeared. Despite dozens of search parties, the wreckage was not found until 2014. The disappearance was but the final chapter in the history of this ship – Erebus was an important part of the exploration of both polar regions.  The wry wit of Michael Palin, globetrotter extraordinaire, perfectly captures the mystery, drama, and historical significance of this remarkable story.  Erebus is already high on my gifting list for upcoming birthdays and for Christmas!

Top Ten New Releases for 2018… so far

It’s a new season and with that comes a time for new books to fill our bookshelves. There seems to be a mountain of exciting new books released at the moment authored by a mix of new and best-selling authors.

We’ve had a look at the top new releases that have hit the bookstores this year and have shortlisted  our favourites. So sit back and prepare to add to your Spring reading list.

 

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

The number one New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies is back. The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation. Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages. Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired bodies and minds. These nine perfect strangers have no idea what is about to hit them. With her wit, compassion and uncanny understanding of human behaviour, Liane Moriarty explores the depth of connection that can be formed when people are thrown together in… unconventional circumstances.

 

 

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. Brisbane, 1983: A lost father, a mute brother, a mum in jail, a heroin dealer for a stepfather and a notorious crim for a babysitter. It’s not as if Eli’s life isn’t complicated enough already. He’s just trying to follow his heart, learning what it takes to be a good man, but life just keeps throwing obstacles in the way – not least of which is Tytus Broz, legendary Brisbane drug dealer. But if Eli’s life is about to get a whole lot more serious. He’s about to fall in love. And, oh yeah, he has to break into Boggo Road Gaol on Christmas Day, to save his mum. A story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships, Boy Swallows Universe will be one of the most heartbreaking, joyous and exhilarating novels you will read all year.

 

 

The Nowhere Child by Christian White

Her name is Sammy Went. This photo was taken on her second birthday. Three days later she was gone. On a break between teaching photography classes, Kim Leamy is approached by a stranger investigating the disappearance of a little girl from her Kentucky home twenty-eight years earlier. He believes Kim is that girl. At first she brushes it off, but when Kim scratches the surface of her family background in Australia, questions arise that aren’t easily answered. To find the truth, she must travel to Sammy’s home of Manson, Kentucky, and into a dark past. As the mystery unravels and the town’s secrets are revealed, this superb novel builds towards a tense, terrifying and entirely unexpected climax.

 

 

Scrublands by Chris Hammer

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 before 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. Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking new development rocks the town, which becomes the biggest story in Australia. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is now the one in the spotlight. His reasons for investigating the shooting have suddenly become very personal. Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to discover a truth that becomes darker and more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.

 

 

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

The electrifying new thriller from international bestseller Karin Slaughter explores the deadly secrets kept between a mother and daughter. What if the person you thought you knew best turned out to be someone you never knew at all? Andrea Oliver’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She’s a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner and everybody’s friend. And she’s never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks. When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter. It’s like Laura is a completely different person and that’s because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle. Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall but 24 hours later she is in hospital, shot by an intruder, who’s spent decades trying to track her down. What is Andrea’s mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura’s former identity and discover the truth – for better or worse – about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer?

 

 

The Ones You Trust by Caroline Overington

The new gripping psychological thriller from bestselling author Caroline Overington, author of The One Who Got Away. Emma Cardwell, host of top-rating morning TV show Cuppa, is beloved by audiences and only occasionally stalked by crazy fans. She seems to have it all: fame, money, a gorgeous family, but when her tiny daughter disappears from daycare, Emma is faced with every mother’s worst nightmare. Is this a kidnapping, a product of her high profile, or is somebody out for revenge? As the hours tick by and the pressure mounts, everything comes under scrutiny, including her own marriage, and Emma is forced to confront a terrifying question: can we trust the ones we love?

 

 

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Five went out. Four came back. Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side. The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises. Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with. Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.

 

 

Back After the Break by Osher Gunsberg

Osher Gunsberg, one of Australia’s most loved celebrities, opens up in a powerful, dark, funny and heartwrenching memoir about life, love and living with mental illness. It’s hard to remember a time when Osher Gunsberg (or Andrew G as he was then) wasn’t on TV – he’s just always been there, looking at ease in the spotlight, beaming a big smile, with a questionable haircut. He was there hanging out with The Offspring backstage at the Warped Tour on Channel V; announcing to a national audience of three million people that Guy Sebastian was our first Australian Idol; and later capturing the heart of the nation by hosting every season of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and now Bachelor in Paradise. But while everything looks great from the outside, the real picture has not always been quite so rosy.

 

 

Marriage Vacation by Pauline Brooks

By all appearances, Kate Carmichael has the perfect life: two adorable daughters, a prewar townhouse on the Upper East Side, and a husband who runs one of the most successful publishing companies in New York. But when Kate attends a wedding and reconnects with successful friends from graduate school, she suddenly sees her life in a different light: the career she didn’t pursue, the dreams she’s locked away, the empty veneer of her privilege. When the wedding weekend ends, instead of heading home to her husband and family, Kate gets on a plane and flies halfway around the world. She claims it’s just going to be for a week—two max—just so she can clear her head and reconnect with her lost dreams. But the adventure doesn’t go quite as planned. This provocative and gripping novel asks: Is a wife and mother allowed to have a midlife crisis? And, if she does, can she ever be forgiven?

 

 

Feel Free by Zadie Smith

The one and only Zadie Smith, prize-winning, bestselling author of Swing Time and White Teeth, is back with a second unmissable collection of essays. No subject is too fringe or too mainstream for the unstoppable Zadie Smith. From social media to the environment, from Jay-Z to Karl Ove Knausgaard, she has boundless curiosity and the boundless wit to match. In Feel Free, pop culture, high culture, social change and political debate all get the Zadie Smith treatment, dissected with razor-sharp intellect, set brilliantly against the context of the utterly contemporary, and considered with a deep humanity and compassion. This electrifying new collection showcases its author as a true literary powerhouse, demonstrating once again her credentials as an essential voice of her generation.

 

Enjoy!

Top 10 Books to Pre Order Now

We love the anticipation of a book finally being launched…but sometimes the wait can be excruciating and the fear of missing out is too much. But fear not, we are here to help you stock your shelves as our team has scoured the internet and compiled a list of the Top Ten books to pre order now. 

Barefoot Investor for Families by Scott Pape

It’s simple, funny and practical. And it has changed people’s lives. The eagerly anticipated follow-up, The Barefoot Investor for Families, sticks to the same script as Pape’s first book. It’s aimed fairly and squarely at parents, grandparents, and basically anyone who read that book and said: ‘Why the hell wasn’t I taught this years ago?’ Scott lays out ten money milestones kids need to have nailed before they leave home, and it’s all structured around one family ‘money meal’ each week (so roughly 20 minutes). If you follow the roadmap, with tailor-made lessons for each age group, your kids will know how to do things like learn the life-changing value of hard work, set up a fee-free bank account (or jam jars!), go on a Treasure Hunt around the house, and sell some of their ‘stuff’ second-hand. Pape’s mission is to make sure your kids are financially strong so they never, ever get sucked into the traps that middle-aged bankers have devised to rob them of their money and their confidence. There are only ten things every kid needs to know about money, and you can teach them over dinner, once a week. It’s that simple.

 

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins. Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river. Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets? Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.

 

War of the Wolf by Bernard Cornwell

The master storyteller is back. 

At the fortress of the eagles, three kings will fight. Uhtred of Bebbanburg has won back his ancestral home but, threatened from all sides by enemies both old and new, he doesn’t have long to enjoy the victory. In Mercia, rebellion is in the air as King Edward tries to seize control. In Wessex, rival parties scramble to settle on the identity of the next king. And across the country invading Norsemen continue their relentless incursion, ever hungry for land. Uhtred, a legendary warrior, admired and sought as an ally, and feared as an enemy is once again torn between his two heritages. But when he finds himself fighting on what he considers the wrong side, facing one of his most fearsome enemies and cursed by misfortune and tragedy, only the most astute cunning, the greatest loyalty and the most spectacular courage can save him.

 

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult 

When Vonita opened the doors of the Center that morning, she had no idea that it would be for the last time. Wren has missed school to come to the Center, the sole surviving women’s reproductive health clinic in the state, chaperoned by her aunt, Bex. Olive told Peg she was just coming for a check-up. Janine is undercover, a pro-life protester disguised as a patient. Joy needs to terminate her pregnancy. Louie is there to perform a service for these women, not in spite of his faith, but because of it. When a desperate and distraught gunman bursts into the Center, opening fire and taking everyone hostage, Hugh McElroy is the police negotiator called to the scene. He has no idea that his fifteen-year-old daughter is inside. Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day. Jodi Picoult tackles a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel. How do we balance the rights of pregnant women with the rights of the unborn they carry? What does it mean to be a good parent? A Spark of Light will inspire debate, conversation and, hopefully, understanding.

 

Cordially Invited by Zoe Sugg

For as long as Zoe Sugg can remember she has loved welcoming friends & family into her home, whether it’s to celebrate someone else’s big day or just being with friends, there is nothing she enjoys more than putting her energy into making any occasion special. In Zoe’s eyes the best thing about getting people together is there really is no right or wrong way, maybe you want to plan a throw-everything-at-it shindig, or simply make a special effort for one guest. Mostly it’s about how people feel when they’re in your company. How the smallest of gatherings can feel momentous, and the biggest of parties can feel intimate. Over the years Zoe has shared glimpses of this side to her in her videos, with millions of viewers taking daily inspiration from her life. In Cordially Invited she shares her best and never seen before ideas in print. Divided into seasons, and woven through with Zoe’s own stories and memories, this book reveals her favourite events – big or small – throughout the year and how to celebrate them in style. From practical ideas for how to feed your guests and hacks for unexpected get-togethers to simple but impressive DIYs and those personal touches people will remember, Cordially Invited is Zoe’s blueprint for making an event and a memory out of each day.

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America, the first African-American to serve in that role, she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerising storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it, in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations and whose story inspires us to do the same.

 

Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin 

From the masterly imagination behind A Game of Thrones comes a definitive history of Westeros’s past as told by Archmaester Gyldayn. Unravelling events that led to A Song of Ice and Fire, Fire and Blood is the first volume of the definitive two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros. Revealing long-buried secrets and untold lasting enmity, it sets the scene for the heart-stopping series conclusion, The Winds of Winter. 300 years before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, long before the schism that set the houses of Westeros at each other’s throats, one house ruled supreme and indomitable. House Targaryen, the house of the last remaining dragonlords. After surviving the Doom of Valyria the Targaryen’s established themselves on Dragonstone. This volume traces their legendary lineage from Aegon the Conqueror to the bloody Dance of Dragons; a civil war that pitted Aegon II and his half-sister Rhaenyra in a bitter conflict for the throne of their father, nearly wiping out the Targaryen dynasty forever. What really happened during the Dance of the Dragons? Why did it become so deadly to visit Valyria after the Doom? What is the origin of Daenerys’s three dragon eggs? These are but a few of the questions answered in this essential chronicle, as related by a learned maester of the Citadel. 

 

The Reckoning by John Grisham 

John Grisham returns to Clanton, Mississippi, to tell the story of an unthinkable murder, the bizarre trial that followed it, and its profound and lasting effect on the people of Ford County. Pete Banning was Clanton’s favourite son, a returning war hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbour, and a faithful member of the Methodist Church. Then one cool October morning in 1946. he rose early, drove into town, walked into the church, and calmly shot and killed the Reverend Dexter Bell. As if the murder wasn’t shocking enough, it was even more baffling that Pete’s only statement about it – to the sheriff, to his defense attorney, to the judge, to his family and friends, and to the people of Clanton – was ‘I have nothing to say’. And so the murder of the esteemed Reverend Bell became the most mysterious and unforgettable crime Ford County had ever known.

 

The Girl on the Page by John Purcell

Two women, two great betrayals, one path to redemption. A punchy, powerful and page-turning novel about the redemptive power of great literature, from industry insider, John Purcell. Amy Winston is a hard-drinking, bed-hopping, hot-shot young book editor on a downward spiral. Having made her name and fortune by turning an average thriller writer into a Lee Child, Amy is given the unenviable task of steering literary great Helen Owen back to publication. When Amy knocks on the door of their beautiful townhouse in north west London, Helen and her husband, the novelist Malcolm Taylor, are conducting a silent war of attrition. The townhouse was paid for with the enormous seven figure advance Helen was given for the novel she wrote to end fifty years of making ends meets on critical acclaim alone. The novel Malcolm thinks unworthy of her. The novel Helen has yet to deliver. The novel Amy has come to collect. Amy has never faced a challenge like this one. Helen and Malcolm are brilliant, complicated writers who unsettle Amy into asking questions of herself – questions about what she values, her principles, whether she has integrity, whether she is authentic. Before she knows it, answering these questions becomes a matter of life or death. From ultimate book industry insider, John Purcell, comes a literary page-turner, a ferocious and fast-paced novel that cuts to the core of what it means to balance ambition and integrity, and the redemptive power of great literature.’

 

Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon

Academy Award-winning actress, producer, and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon invites you into her world, where she infuses the southern style, parties, and traditions she loves with contemporary flair and charm. Reese Witherspoon’s grandmother Dorothea always said that a combination of beauty and strength made southern women “whiskey in a teacup.” We may be delicate and ornamental on the outside, she said, but inside we’re strong and fiery. Reese’s southern heritage informs her whole life, and she loves sharing the joys of southern living with practically everyone she meets. She takes the South wherever she goes with bluegrass, big holiday parties, and plenty of Dorothea’s fried chicken. It’s reflected in how she entertains, decorates her home, and makes holidays special for her kids, not to mention how she talks, dances, and does her hair (in these pages, you will learn Reese’s fail-proof, only slightly insane hot-roller technique). Reese loves sharing Dorothea’s most delicious recipes as well as her favourite southern traditions, from midnight barn parties to backyard bridal showers, magical Christmas mornings to rollicking honky-tonks. It’s easy to bring a little bit of Reese’s world into your home, no matter where you live. After all, there’s a southern side to every place in the world, right?

 

Enjoy!

Top 10 Fiction Books of 2018 so far

Whether it’s in the spring, under a blossom tree, or in the autumn, curled up on the couch, getting lost in a great novel is one of our favourite pastimes.  Luckily there’s a steady flow of new novels to satisfy our cravings.

To help you choose what to read, we have rounded up the top 10 selling fiction books released so far this year.

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

An unprecedented collaboration between former US President Bill Clinton and bestselling thriller writer James Patterson. The President is Missing brings together first class fictional credentials, with unique inside information on the workings of the White House and the president’s inner circle. Amid an international crisis, the impossible has happened. A sitting U.S. President has disappeared. What follows is the most dramatic three days any president has ever faced and maybe the most dramatic three days in American history. And it could all really happen. Full of details only a president could know, Bill Clinton and James Patterson have written the most authentic presidential thriller ever.

 

 

The Outsider by Stephen King

When an eleven-year-old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man. Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day. As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King’s propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he?

 

The Woman in the Window by A J Finn

Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbours. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one and nothing is what it seems.

 

 

 

The Great Alone by Kirsten Hannah

Alaska, 1974. Untamed. Unpredictable. And for a family in crisis, the ultimate test of the human spirit. Alaska is a vast, magical landscape threaded by aquamarine rivers and bordered by immense white wastelands. The state attracts individualists and dreamers, people who are willing to go to the ends of the earth in pursuit of gold or solitude or freedom, whatever it is they desire most. But Alaska is called the Great Alone for a reason. Cut off from the rest of the United States, it is its own world. Up here, it’s easy to go too far, to become too separate, and once that happens only a miracle or a tragedy can bring them back together. Amid a world in political turmoil, Ernt Allbright, a Vietnam veteran and former POW, suffers from symptoms we now call PTSD but that then had no name. His volatile nature and violent temper make it hard to hold down a job. When a friend he served with leaves him a cabin in a remote part of Alaska, Ernt uproots his apprehensive wife Cora and daughter Leni, and heads north, with the promise that living off the land in the spectacular wilderness will solve their problems. At first, the move seems to heal the family; the sense of community they find in off-the-grid living is exactly the new start they needed. The eighteen hour sunlit Alaskan summer days and the generosity of the locals make up for their pronounced lack of preparation and resources. But winter approaches. Each day that passes brings more darkness and isolation to the small homestead. As the vast Alaskan landscape grows smaller and smaller in the dark, Ernt’s symptoms become more pronounced. Cora and Leni learn what all Alaskan homesteaders learn: they are on their own. There is no one to save them this far from civilization.

 

Little fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down. In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist and single mother, who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family and Mia’s. Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

 

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

Every couple has their secrets.

It’s wedding season on Nantucket. The beautiful island is overrun with summer people – an annual source of aggravation for year-round residents. And that’s not the only tension brewing offshore. When one lavish wedding ends in disaster before it can even begin – with the bride-to-be discovered dead in Nantucket Harbor just hours before the ceremony – everyone in the wedding party is suddenly a suspect. As Chief of Police Ed Kapenash digs into the best man, the maid of honor, the groom’s famous mystery novelist mother, and even a member of his own family, the chief discovers that every wedding is a minefield – and that no couple is perfect.

 

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her centre. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

 

 

The Other Woman by Daniel Silva

From Daniel Silva, the No.1 New York Times bestselling author, comes a modern masterpiece of espionage, love, and betrayal. She was his best-kept secret. In an isolated village in the mountains of Andalusia, a mysterious Frenchwoman begins work on a dangerous memoir. It is the story of a man she once loved in the Beirut of old, and a child taken from her in treason’s name. The woman is the keeper of the Kremlin’s most closely guarded secret. Long ago, the KGB inserted a mole into the heart of the West a mole who stands on the doorstep of ultimate power. Only one man can unravel the conspiracy: Gabriel Allon, the legendary art restorer and assassin who serves as the chief of Israel’s vaunted secret intelligence service. Gabriel has battled the dark forces of the new Russia before, at great personal cost. Now he and the Russians will engage in a final epic showdown, with the fate of the postwar global order hanging in the balance.

 

When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

Don’t get mad. Get Emily. Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. A successful stylist and image consultant to Hollywood stars, she cut her teeth as assistant to legendary fashion editor Miranda Priestly in New York. But with social media-obsessed millennials stealing her clients, Emily needs to get back in the game and fast. She holes up at the home of her oldest friend Miriam in the upscale suburb of Greenwich. And when Miriam’s friend, model Karolina Hartwell, is publicly dumped by her husband Graham, a senator with presidential ambitions, Emily scents the client of a lifetime. It’s not just Karolina’s reputation that’s ruined. It’s her family. And Miriam and Emily are determined he won’t get away with it. First they’ll get Karolina’s son back. Then they’ll help her get her own back. Because when life gives you lemons, buy tequila.

 

There There by Tommy Orange

Jacquie Red Feather and her sister Opal grew up together, relying on each other during their unsettled childhood. As adults they were driven apart, but Jacquie is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. That’s why she is there. Dene is there because he has been collecting stories to honour his uncle’s death. Edwin is looking for his true father. Opal came to watch her boy Orvil dance. All of them are connected by bonds they may not yet understand. All of them are there for the cultural celebration that is the Big Oakland Powwow. But Tony Loneman is also there. And Tony has come to the Powwow with darker intentions.

 

 

 

Enjoy!

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Dad

Father’s Day is just a few sleeps away and along with spending the day hanging out with a top guy, we also like to give him a treasure or two just to thank him for being awesome.

Here are our top picks for last minute Father’s Day gifts…oh and don’t forget to have a look at the shipping times for the books…if you want to be able to wrap it and hand it to Dad in person you may need to click on Amazon Australia (they ship within 24 hours) or Booktopia or Readings…otherwise there is the option of buying a kindle version or a gift voucher.

 

Far From The Tree by Andrew Solomon

This one is for Dads who like to remind you that you are just like them. Sometimes your child – the most familiar person of all – is radically different from you. The saying goes that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But what happens when it does? Drawing on interviews with over three hundred families, covering subjects including deafness, dwarfs, Down’s Syndrome, Autism, Schizophrenia, disability, prodigies, children born of rape, children convicted of crime and transgender people, Andrew Solomon documents ordinary people making courageous choices. Difference is potentially isolating, but Far from the Tree celebrates repeated triumphs of human love and compassion to show that the shared experience of difference is what unites us.

 

Calypso by David Sedaris

This is great for the Dad who loves a good chuckle. If you’ve ever laughed your way through David Sedaris’ cheerfully misanthropic stories you might think you know what you’re getting with Calypso. But you’d be wrong. When he buys a beach house on the Carolina coast, Sedaris envisions long, relaxing vacations spent playing board games and lounging in the sun with those he loves most. And life at the Sea Section, as he names the vacation home, is exactly as idyllic as he imagined, except for one tiny, vexing realisation: it’s impossible to take a vacation from yourself. With Calypso, Sedaris sets his formidable powers of observation toward middle age and mortality. Make no mistake: these stories are very, very funny as it’s a book that can make you laugh ’til you snort, the way only family can. This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumour joke.

 

The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli

For the Dad who loves physics and space, this book will be a winner. The bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and Reality is Not What it Seems takes us on an enchanting, consoling journey to discover the meaning of time. Time is a mystery that does not cease to puzzle us. Philosophers, artists and poets have long explored its meaning while scientists have found that its structure is different from the simple intuition we have of it. From Boltzmann to quantum theory, from Einstein to loop quantum gravity, our understanding of time has been undergoing radical transformations. Time flows at a different speed in different places, the past and the future differ far less than we might think, and the very notion of the present evaporates in the vast universe. With his extraordinary charm and sense of wonder, bringing together science, philosophy and art, Carlo Rovelli unravels this mystery. The Order of Time shows that to understand ourselves we need to reflect on time – and to understand time we need to reflect on ourselves.

 

The Seven Good Years by Etgar Keret

A brilliant, life-affirming, and hilarious memoir from a master storyteller. The seven years between the birth of Etgar Keret’s son and the death of his father were good years, though still full of reasons to worry. Lev is born in the midst of a terrorist attack. Etgar’s father gets cancer. The threat of constant war looms over their home and permeates daily life. What emerges from this dark reality is a series of sublimely absurd ruminations on everything from Etgar’s three-year-old son’s impending military service to the terrorist mind-set behind Angry Birds. There’s Lev’s insistence that he is a cat, releasing him from any human responsibilities or rules. Etgar’s siblings, all very different people who have chosen radically divergent paths in life, come together after his father’s shivah to experience the grief and love that tie a family together forever. This wise, witty memoir is full of wonder and life and love, poignant insights, and irrepressible humour.

 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This novel is for Dads who like to get lost in a book. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead won the National Book Award 2016 and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2017. Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North. In Whitehead’s razor-sharp imagining of the antebellum South, the Underground Railroad has assumed a physical form: a dilapidated box car pulled along subterranean tracks by a steam locomotive, picking up fugitives wherever it can. The Underground Railroad is at once the story of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shatteringly powerful meditation on history.

 

Enjoy your Father’s Day!