Category Archives: Characters

The best books for reading beside the pool this Summer

Summer has been particularly tough here in Australia with devastating bush fires burning throughout most of our wonderful country, our skies are filled with smoke and our hearts are heavy. 

It’s now mid January, a time when so many are heading back to work to begin the new year, for a few of us we are still dragging out the last of the holidays and are trying not to think of our inboxes or growing to do lists…so this blog is for those those that are either still away from the office, or have a chance in the evening to pick a book up and pretend you are poolside once more. 

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita have worked at Truviv, Inc. for years. The sudden death of Truviv’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Each of the women has a different relationship with Ames, who has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. Those whispers have been ignored, swept under the rug, hidden away by those in charge. But the world has changed, and the women are watching this promotion differently. This time, when they find out Ames is making an inappropriate move on a colleague, they aren’t willing to let it go. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough. Sloane and her colleagues’ decision to take a stand sets in motion a catastrophic shift in the office. Lies will be uncovered. Secrets will be exposed. And not everyone will survive. Explosive, timely, resonant and relatable (I’ve just finished it): if you love Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies or Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, you will love Whisper Network.

A Half Baked Idea by Olivia Potts

When my mother died, I was cooking. I was not a cook. I did not cook. I ate high-street-chain sandwiches, supermarket filled pasta, and more takeaway kebabs than I was comfortable admitting. My rare, haphazard forays into the kitchen led to fallen cakes, burnt biscuits, and stringy stews. But I had also recently started dating a man, a man who was very keen on cooking, and whom I was keen to impress. One weekend, he suggested we cook together for friends. And I thought, Oh god, that sounds like a terrible idea. But I said, “Sounds great.” And so I found myself standing in a kitchen that was not my own, baking a cake alongside a man I didn’t know. Meanwhile, 275 miles away, my mother was dying.

At the moment her mother died, Olivia Potts was baking a cake. She was trying to impress a man, a cooking enthusiast who would later become her husband. Grief-stricken by the news, Olivia took to the kitchen. She came home from her job as a criminal barrister miserable and tired, and baked soda bread, pizza, and chocolate banana cake (mostly unsuccessfully). It brought her comfort, and so she concocted a plan- she would begin a newer, happier life, filled with fewer magistrates and more macaroons. She left the bar for Le Cordon Bleu, plunging headfirst into the eccentric world of patisserie. Interspersed with recipes ranging from passionfruit pavlova to her mother’s shepherd’s pie, this is a heart-breaking, hilarious, life-affirming memoir about dealing with grief, falling in love, and learning how to bake a really, really good cake.

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

I just finished this book after two friends recommended it to me. It’s really good. Raw, honest and slightly scary to see what may lie ahead, but good. People went on about death bringing friends together, but it wasn’t true. The graveyard, the stony dirt, that’s what it was like now. They knew each other better than their own siblings, but Sylvie’s death had opened up strange caverns of distance between them. Four older women with a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three. Can they survive together without her? They are Jude, a once-famous restaurateur, Wendy, an acclaimed public intellectual, and Adele, a renowned actress now mostly out of work. Struggling to recall exactly why they’ve remained close all these years, the grieving women gather for Christmas at Sylvie’s old beach house, not for festivities, but to clean the place out before it is sold. Without Sylvie to maintain the group’s delicate equilibrium, frustrations build and painful memories press in. Fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface and threatens to sweep away their friendship for good. The Weekend explores growing old and growing up, and what happens when we’re forced to uncover the lies we tell ourselves. Sharply observed and excruciatingly funny, this is a jewel of a book, a celebration of tenderness and friendship that is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Grand Union Stories by Zadie Smith 

The Grand Union is a dazzling collection of short fiction by Zadie Smith who has established herself as one of the most iconic, critically respected, and popular writers of her generation. In her first short story collection, she combines her power of observation and her inimitable voice to mine the fraught and complex experience of life in the modern world. Interleaving eleven completely new and unpublished stories with some of her best-loved pieces from The New Yorker and elsewhere, Smith presents a dizzyingly rich and varied collection of fiction. Moving exhilaratingly across genres and perspectives, from the historic to the vividly current to the slyly dystopian, Grand Union is a sharply alert and prescient collection about time and place, identity and rebirth, the persistent legacies that haunt our present selves and the uncanny futures that rush up to meet us. Nothing is off limits, and everything, when captured by Smith’s brilliant gaze, feels fresh and relevant. Perfectly paced and utterly original, Grand Union highlights the wonders Zadie Smith can do.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

This is a suspenseful and heartbreaking story of an immigrant family driven to pit love against loyalty, with devastating consequences. Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she’s accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When he resurfaces half a globe away, Isma’s worst fears are confirmed.

Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to, or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined, in this searing novel that asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?

Going Under by Sonia Henry

Dr Katarina ‘Kitty’ Holliday thought that once she finished medical school and found gainful employment at one of Sydney’s best teaching hospitals that her dream was just beginning. The hard years, she thought, were finally over. But Kitty is in for a rude shock. Between trying to survive on the ward, in the operating theatre and in the emergency department without killing any of her patients or going under herself, Kitty finds herself facing situations that rock her very understanding of the vocation to which she intends to devote her life. Going Under is a rare insight into the world of a trainee female medic that takes an unflinching look at the reality of being a doctor. It explores the big themes; life, death, power and love through the eyes of Dr Holliday as she loses her identity and nearly her mind in the pressure-cooker world of the hospital. But it is also there that Kitty might find her own redemption and finally know herself for the first time. Darkly funny, sexy, moving and shocking, Going Under will grip you from the opening page and never let you go.

Enjoy!

The Best of the Black Friday Sales

The countdown to Christmas is definitely on with only a little over 4 weeks to go. Thankfully, Black Friday is tomorrow and stores have jumped on board early and have already started discounting their products. We have had a little poke around the internet and have found a bunch of great books and DVDs that we think offer a great saving. 

One store that is going over and above is Amazon Australia, they are now offering free shipping on over 300 books from their range, you can check out the titles included here

So get your Christmas lists at the ready and prepare to bag a bargain. 

Some People Think I am a Shoe by Stan Smith

An internationally celebrated and highly coveted icon in the world of sneaker design, the Stan Smith tennis sneaker has achieved cult status since its debut in the early 1970s. This is the first book to celebrate the global cultural impact of the ubiquitous sneaker named after former world No. 1 tennis player Stan Smith. Over the last five decades, the Stan Smith has remained the perennial icon of minimalist cool sneaker design and Smith has collaborated with ground-breaking artists, designers, and fashion brands including Colette, Yohji Yamamoto, Raf Simons, and Pharrell. This all-access volume demonstrates that the personality of the shoe has everything to do with Stan the Man. Chapters are enhanced by recollections from Stan Smith along with anecdotes from style influencers, designers, sports legends, and fervent sneaker fans. Showcasing street-style photography of Stan Smith sworn globally, to pop-culture references of the sneaker in rap lyrics to Bollywood movies this book is an absolute collector’s item for readers interested in sneaker culture, sports, street style, design, and pop culture.

Harry Potter The Illustrated Collection (Books 1-3 Boxed Set) by J. K. Rowling

This beautifully produced boxed set is the perfect introduction to the Harry Potter series, and an impressive gift for new readers and lifelong fans alike. It contains the first three books in the series (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) in large-scale editions, gorgeously illustrated in full color by award-winning artist Jim Kay. These editions are a pleasure to read, with generously sized pages, color on every page, and a ribbon bookmark in each volume. A full-color slipcase featuring red foiled lettering and Kay’s brilliant depiction of Diagon Alley completes the package, making this collection a luxurious gift for readers and Harry Potter fans of all ages.

Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne

Saving up to a whopping 72% this is a bargain and a great gift for the interiors lover. 

Lagom (pronounced ‘lar-gom’) has no equivalent in the English language but is loosely translated as ‘not too little, not too much, just right’. It is widely believed that the word comes from the Viking term ‘laget om’, for when a mug of mead was passed around a circle and there was just enough for everyone to get a sip. But while the anecdote may hit the nail on the head, the true etymology of the word points to an old form of the word ‘lag’, which means ‘law’. Far from restrictive, lagom is a liberating concept, praising the idea that anything more that ‘just enough’ is a waste of time. Crucially it also comes with a selflessness and core belief of responsibility and common good. By living lagom you can live a happier and more balanced life, reduce your environmental impact, improve your work-life balance, free your home from clutter, enjoy good food the Swedish way, grow your own and learn to forage, and cherish the relationships with those you love.

Bluey: Volume 1 – Magic Xylophone and Other Stories

WIth a saving of nearly 30% this is one of the most in-demand Christmas gifts this year. Bluey has taken over our screens with children acting out the little blue dog’s wild imaginative games and parents taking a leaf out of her parents’ laid-back book. In a funny and honest look at modern family life, Bluey, her sister Bingo and her friends use gameplay to integrate the adult world into their own. It helps them to learn important lessons and deal with the emotional ups and downs of growing up.

In this collection Bluey and family play their favourite games including operating on Dad in Hospital, a high-stakes game of Keepy Uppy with Bluey’s last balloon, a magic xylophone that can freeze Dad in space and time and avoiding the crocodile infested grass in Shadowlands.

The Maths Book by DK

This little gem has a saving of over 88%! Take a journey through the fascinating story of fractions, numbers, patterns, and shapes in order to better understand the complex world we live in. Continuing the “Big Ideas” series’ trademark combination of authoritative, clear text and bold graphics to chart the development of maths through history, the book explores and explains some of the most complex and fascinating mathematical subjects. Delve into everything from the mathematical ideas and inventions of the ancient world such as the first number systems, magic squares, and the Chinese abacus, through to the developments in mathematics during medieval and Renaissance Europe, to the rise of group theory and cryptography more recently. This diverse and inclusive account of mathematics will have something for everybody- for those interested in the maths behind world economies, secret spies, modern technology and plenty more, taking readers around the world from Babylon to Bletchley Park. Tracing maths through the Scientific Revolution to its 21st-century use in computers, the internet, and AI, The Maths Book uses an innovative visual approach to make the subject accessible to everyone, casual readers and students alike.

Lifespan: The Revolutionary Science of Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To by David Sinclair

In this paradigm-shifting book from acclaimed Harvard Medical School doctor and one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people on earth, Dr. David Sinclair reveals that everything we think we know about ageing is wrong, and shares the surprising, scientifically-proven methods that can help readers live younger, longer. For decades, the medical community has looked to a variety of reasons for why we age, and the consensus is that no one dies of old age; they die of age-related diseases. That’s because ageing is not a disease – it is inevitable. But what if everything you think you know about ageing is wrong? What if ageing is a disease? And that disease is curable. Dr. David Sinclair, one of the world’s foremost authorities on genetics and ageing, argues just that. He has dedicated his life’s work to chasing more than a longer lifespan – he wants to enable people to live longer, healthier, and disease-free well into our hundreds. In this book, he reveals a bold new theory of ageing, one that pinpoints a root cause of ageing that lies in an ancient genetic survival circuit. This genetic trick – a circuit designed to halt reproduction in order to repair damage to the genome – has enabled earth’s early microcosms to survive and evolve into more advanced organisms. But this same survival circuit is the reason we age: as genetic damage accumulates over our lifespans from UV rays, environmental toxins, and unhealthy diets, our genome is overwhelmed, causing gray hair, wrinkles, achy joints, heart issues, dementia, and, ultimately, death. But genes aren’t our destiny; we have more control over them than we’ve been taught to believe. We can’t change our DNA, but we can harness the power of the epigenome to realise the true potential of our genes. This is destined to be the biggest book on genes, biology, and longevity of this decade.

Enjoy!

The Best Books to Read on a Staycation

Sometimes it’s nice to have a break from routine. But instead of packing a suitcase and rushing for flights and eating plane food, it’s refreshing to have a staycation, holiday in your local city and at night read a book in the comfort of your own home. 

We have pulled together a list of the top selling books that the Northern Hemisphere have been enjoying over their summer to share with anyone who fancies a holiday at home…before the frantic festive season begins. 

So slap on some sunscreen (here’s looking at you Melbourne) and pull up a sun lounger as we have six fabulous books to transport you out of your routine.

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century. Every year the Levin children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother’s historic island home, but this year it’s not to be. Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby is caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests with her friend Mary Jo Kopechne. And Tiger, the only son, has just been deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie, the youngest of them all, suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother who is hiding secrets of her own. As the summer heats up, Teddy Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, man walks on the moon, and Jessie experiences some sinking and flying herself, as she grows into her own body and mind. 

Honestly, We Meant Well by Grant Grinder

Family vacations always come with baggage.

The Wright family is in ruins. Sue Ellen Wright has what she thinks is a close-to-perfect life. A terrific career as a Classics professor, a loving husband, and a son who is just about to safely leave the nest. But then disaster strikes. She learns that her husband is cheating, and that her son has made a complete mess of his life. So, when the opportunity to take her family to a Greek island for a month presents itself, she jumps at the chance. This sunlit Aegean paradise, with its mountains and beaches is, after all, where she first fell in love with both a man and with an ancient culture. Perhaps Sue Ellen’s past will provide the key to her and her family’s salvation.

With his signature style of biting wit, hilarious characters, and deep emotion, Grant Ginder’s Honestly, We Meant Well is a funny, brilliant novel proving that with family, drama always comes with comedy.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book is everywhere. Wherever we turn, be it online or instore, or on a tram we spot someone reading this book. If the fame of Eat, Pray, Love is anything to go by, we think this book is definitely worth another look at.

 It is the summer of 1940. Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris arrives in New York with her suitcase and sewing machine, exiled by her despairing parents. Although her quicksilver talents with a needle and commitment to mastering the perfect hair roll have been deemed insufficient for her to pass into her sophomore year of Vassar, she soon finds gainful employment as the self-appointed seamstress at the Lily Playhouse, her unconventional Aunt Peg’s charmingly disreputable Manhattan revue theatre. There, Vivian quickly becomes the toast of the showgirls, transforming the trash and tinsel only fit for the cheap seats into creations for goddesses. Exile in New York is no exile at all- here in this strange wartime city of girls, Vivian and her girlfriends mean to drink the heady highball of life itself to the last drop. And when the legendary English actress Edna Watson comes to the Lily to star in the company’s most ambitious show ever, Vivian is entranced by the magic that follows in her wake. But there are hard lessons to be learned, and bitterly regrettable mistakes to be made. Vivian learns that to live the life she wants, she must live many lives, ceaselessly and ingeniously making them new. ‘At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is,’ she confides. And so Vivian sets forth her story, and that of the women around her women who have lived as they truly are, out of step with a century that could never quite keep up with them.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Full of warmth and laugh-out-loud funny, the new novel from the author of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. British-born Punjabi sisters Rajni, Jezmeen and Shirina have never been close – so when their dying mother instructs them to go on a pilgrimage across India to carry out her final rites, the sisters are forced together as they haven’t been for years. Rajni is an archetypal eldest child – bossy, knows best, always right – but her perfect son dropped a devastating bombshell before she left and now she’s floundering. Middle sister Jezmeen was always a loudmouth, translating her need for attention into life as a struggling actress. But her career is on the skids after an incident went viral and now she’s desperate to find her voice again. Shirina has always been the perfect sister, who confounded expectations by having the most traditional arranged marriage of them all and moving to the other side of the world. But her perfect marriage isn’t what it seems and time is running out to make the right choice. Each sister has her own reasons for agreeing to this ludicrous trip, and as the miles rack up, the secrets of the past and present are sure to spill out. 

We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop

Katie Cleary has always known exactly what she wants: to be the best skier in the world. As a teenager, she leaves her home to live and train full time with her two best friends, all-American brothers Luke and Blair, whose wealthy father has hired the best coaches money can buy. Together, they are the USA’s best shot at bringing home Olympic gold.

But as the upward trajectory of Katie’s elite skiing career nears its zenith, a terrifying truth about her sister becomes impossible to ignore—one that will lay ruin not only to Katie’s career but to her family and her relationship with Luke and Blair.

With her life shattered and nothing left to lose, Katie flees the snowy mountainsides of home for Buenos Aires. There, she reinvents herself as Liz Sullivan, and meets a colourful group of ex-pats and the alluring, charismatic Gianluca Fortunado, a tango teacher with secrets of his own. This beautiful city, with its dark history and wild promise, seems like the perfect refuge, but can she really outrun her demons?

In alternating chapters, Katie grows up, falls in love, and races down the highest peaks on the planet—while Liz is reborn, falls into lust, and sinks into the underground tango scene at the bottom of the world. From the moneyed ski chalets of the American West to the dimly lit milongas of Argentina, We Came Here to Forget explores what it means to dream, to desire, to achieve, and what’s left behind after it all disappears.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in . . . well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (ugh) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of online contests (double ugh). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man. Olive just has to get through twenty-four hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party – except for Olive and Ethan – gets food poisoning, there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs. Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him becomes a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of . . . lucky. The Unhoneymooners is a heartwarming and hilarious romance perfect for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.

Enjoy!

#tuesdaychat

There are so many books coming out later this year that we know will make a fab Christmas present. On the blog this Thursday we’ll share our favs with you…which book are you hoping to see under the tree this year?

International day of the Girl 2019

Today, girls are moving from dreaming to achieving. More are attending and completing school, fewer are getting married or becoming mothers while still children, and more are gaining the skills they need to excel in the future world of work. Girls are breaking boundaries and barriers posed by stereotypes and exclusion, including those directed at children with disabilities and those living in marginalized communities. As entrepreneurs, innovators and initiators of global movements, girls are leading and fostering a world that is relevant for them and future generations.


Monday Inspo

They say that play is the highest form of research…so what are you waiting for? Time to get your coloured pencils out and scribble your way through this mornings meetings! Or Lego…maybe pop a bowl of it in the middle of your boardroom table and see what you can create. Did you know you could buy Lego through Booko? Oh yes you read that right! Stick around and we’ll show you how on Thursday’s blog.

Top Books for Back To School

It’s the start of a new school year for our readers in the UK and US. This can be an exciting but often uncertain time for children (not to the mention parents who are sending children off to school for the first time). We thought we’d share our top picks for back to school reading. These stories are perfect to read cuddled up with your child as they aim to warm your heart, put aside any anxieties and make you laugh as you prepare to start a year of packing school lunchboxes. 

The Pigeon Has To Go To School by Mo Willems

Mo Willems’ Pigeon is back in a hilarious story perfect for those about to start school or nursery. The Pigeon is about to get schooled. Do you think he should go? Why does the Pigeon have to go to school? He already knows everything! Well … almost everything. And what if he doesn’t like it? What if the teacher doesn’t like him? I mean, what if he learns too much!?!

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson

A New York Times bestselling author (The True Meaning of Smekday) and illustrator (Last Stop on Market Street) team bring you a fresh look at the first day of school, this time from the school’s perspective. It’s the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary and everyone’s just a little bit nervous, especially the school itself. What will the children do once they come? Will they like the school? Will they be nice to him? The school has a rough start, but as the day goes on, he soon recovers when he sees that he’s not the only one going through first-day jitters.

Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten by Lisa Robinson

Yo, ho, ho! It’s a mutiny against kindergarten!

Pirate Emma is about to start kindergarten! But Emma’s not so sure she’s ready for a new captain and crew. Especially since Cap’n Chu, the roughest, toughest, awesomest preschool cap’n ever, is right down the hall. So Emma decides to head back to the preschool ship to see if she can stir up a mutiny against kindergarten! Is that what she really wants? Or does she just miss her beloved Cap’n Chu? Batten down the hatches, mateys, because the first day of school is going to be stormy!

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

It’s the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can’t wait to meet her classmates. But it’s hard to make human friends when they’re so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. Readers will gobble up this hilarious new story from award-winning author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins.

1 2 3 With The Notorious B.I.G by Jessica Chiha

Biggie, Biggie, Biggie One, Two, Three – Sometimes These Numbers Just Hypnotize Me!

1 2 3 with the Notorious B.I.G. is packed full of our most loved Hip Hop, Rap and RnB artists from then and now, with plenty of tongue in cheek references that even the bigs are sure to get a giggle from. This hip-hop inspired book is designed to pump up your child’s number game. Let Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z, Kanye, Nicki Minaj, Kelis and more, teach your little homie their 123s. Relive some of the greatest Rap, Hip Hop, and R&B musicians of our time, while teaching your children where it’s at. 1 2 3 with the Notorious B.I.G. is here to make learning dope, because education isn’t meant to be boring!

Inside My Heart by Jo Witek

This is a charming book where a young girl explores what different emotions feel like, such as happiness which makes her want to twirl, or sadness which feels as heavy as an elephant.

In My Heart explores emotions; happiness, sadness, bravery, anger, shyness and more. Unlike other feelings books that tend to oversimplify, In My Heart lyrically explains what an emotion feels like, physically, inside. For example: “When I get really angry, my heart feels like it’s going to explode! Don’t come near me! My heart is yelling, hot and loud. This is when my heart is mad.” Children will be empowered by this new vocabulary and able to practice articulating and identifying their own emotions.

Enjoy!

#tuesdaychat

The Giving Tree, The Paper Dolls, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Pippi Longstocking…there are so many great books that we enjoyed in childhood, which were your favourite?