Category Archives: Fiction

Posts about novels and other fiction titles

Best Books For Mother’s Day

The market for Mother’s Day books has always been very broad and a little ‘obvious’…titles promoted often range from the latest romancy-fiction through to cookbooks that you know she’ll never actually cook from…that’s why we’ve decided to change it up a little this year and share books with you that really do deserve a spot on your mum’s bookshelf…and ones you may actually want to borrow back.


The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart
by Holly Ringland

If your mum is into the latest fiction then this enchanting debut novel of 2018 is a must-read. It is a deeply moving and romantic story of a young girl who has to learn the hard way that she can break the patterns of the past, live on her own terms and find her own strength.

After her family suffers a tragedy, nine-year-old Alice Hart is forced to leave her idyllic seaside home. She is taken in by her grandmother, June, a flower farmer who raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers, a way to say the things that are too hard to speak. Under the watchful eye of June and the women who run the farm, Alice settles, but grows up increasingly frustrated by how little she knows of her family’s story. In her early twenties, Alice’s life is thrown into upheaval again when she suffers devastating betrayal and loss. Desperate to outrun grief, Alice flees to the dramatically beautiful central Australian desert. In this otherworldly landscape Alice thinks she has found solace, until she meets a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man. Spanning two decades, set between sugar cane fields by the sea, a native Australian flower farm, and a celestial crater in the central desert, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart follows Alice’s unforgettable journey, as she learns that the most powerful story she will ever possess is her own.

 

The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey

This book is filled with meaningful conversations from Oprah’s show, Super Soul Sunday. Organised into ten chapters, each one representing a powerful step in Oprah’s own spiritual journey and introduced with an intimate, personal essay by Oprah herself. The Wisdom of Sundays features selections from the most meaningful conversations between Oprah and some of today’s most admired thought leaders. Visionaries like Tony Robbins, Arianna Huffington, and Shonda Rhimes share their lessons in finding purpose through mindfulness and intention.

 

 

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

If your mum is someone who enjoys the thriller genre, give her The Woman in the Window.

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside. Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers. But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

 

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Here’s another one for the Mum that loves a thrill. When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a grainy image, a website address and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that. Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make…

 

 

 

 

 

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

This is a charming and moving story exploring the objects that hold meaning to our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us. This book is great for the mums who have kept everything.

Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before. Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners. But the final wishes of the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’ have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters.

 

 

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

We went to school that Tuesday like normal. Not all of us came home…

Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, six-year-old Zach can hear shots ringing through the corridors of his school. A gunman has entered the building and, in a matter of minutes, will have taken nineteen lives. In the aftermath of the shooting, the close knit community and its families are devastated. Everyone deals with the tragedy differently. Zach’s father absents himself; his mother pursues a quest for justice – while Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and drawing. Ultimately though, it is Zach who will show the adults in his life the way forward – as, sometimes, only a child can. If you’re looking for a book to stop and make mum think, then this is it.

 

Enjoy!

Books for girls that don’t include unicorns, glitter and fairies.

It’s a wonderful feeling when you see a child read a book from cover to cover by themselves and we know the best way to encourage this is to fill their bookshelves with fun and exciting books to read, but sometimes finding those books, especially titles that empower young girls, can be difficult…especially is she isn’t into unicorns, glitter and fairies!

It’s with this in mind that we have found a selection of our favourite titles for girls that are ready to dive into the world of books on their own…and there’s not a pink pony in sight!

 

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls broke records as the most-funded original book in crowdfunding history, and has since become a bestseller in 30 languages. Challenging gender stereotypes, Good Night Stories profiles 100 women – scientists, athletes, politicians – who have contributed to public life. It further celebrates women by highlighting the work of the two authors and 60 illustrators, who produced this striking and colourful volume. Written in the style of fairytales, Good Night Stories is not just for bedtime or for girls – it is inspirational for all children. Adult readers can also enjoy it as a sampler offering ideas for further reading. Volume 2 is available here.

 

Heidi Hecklebeck 10 Book Collection by Wanda Coven

Heidi Heckelbeck has a special secret: she’s a witch! But that doesn’t mean she gets to skip school, so during her time at Brewster Elementary, she enjoys perfectly normal, day-to-day activities, just like any kid. Of course, when the occasion calls for it, she sometimes pulls out her Book of Spells to see if she can give things a little nudge. With fun stories, easy-to-read language, and engaging pictures, this early chapter book series is sure to be a hit.

 

Violet Makerel’s Outside the Box Set by Anna Branford

Violet Mackerel is a little girl with big ideas and a lot of theories! Whether she’s knitting an unusual project, digging for fossils, feeding ladybugs, or even getting her tonsils out, she has a theory for everything and a can-do, empathetic spirit that helps her turn theory into practice. This box set includes four of Violet’s outside-the-box stories, which are sure to be a hit with children who are ready for early, picture-heavy chapter books.

 

 

 

Amelia Bedelia 10 Book Box Set by Herman Parish

For years children have giggled at literal-minded Amelia Bedelia’s misunderstandings. Now, in this 10-book series, Amelia gets imagined as a young girl whose adventures with family and friends get thrown off by her little slips, whether she’s saving money for a bike, going on a road trip, or adding a four-legged furry family member. Fortunately, good-natured Amelia is always able to straighten things out in the end! The end of each book includes a “two ways to say it” section that provides a guide to the idioms in the story, so it’s a great option for building kids’ repertoire of sayings.

 

 

Lotta on Troublemaker Street  by Astrid Lindgren

Poor Lotta is having a very bad day. First, she wakes up mad because in her dream her older brother and sister were mean to her. Then, Mother expects her to wear a sweater that “scratches and tickles.” Madder than ever, Lotta decides to run away and find a new place to live. After all, everyone at her house is mean, so she won’t miss her family at all, or will she? Children will giggle as they recognise their own bad days in Lotta’s story. Written by Astrid Lindgren, the fabulous author of Pippi Longstocking, this book shows that there’s an exciting story lurking in even the most ordinary days.

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy Drew and The Clue Crew Collection by Carolyn Keene

For girls who aren’t quite ready for the original Nancy Drew books, Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew is the perfect solution. These early chapter books reimagine Nancy as an third grade student solving mysteries around her community. Children will love following along with the mysteries and trying to put together the clues with Nancy, George, and Bess.

 

Enjoy!

Re-engaging with the classics

Literary classics have a bit of a PR problem – while they have stood the test of time because of their brilliant plotting, excellent writing and timeless messages, their longevity can also mean archaic language and a fusty image.  If you love the classics, but don’t know how to introduce them to your young readers, Booko can show you how.  Here are classic literature ideas for young readers – from babies all the way to young adults.

1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up edited by Julia Eccleshare

Everyone loves a list, and this one is great fun to browse as well as a fantastic reference.   These 1001 titles have been chosen by Julia Eccleshare, a writer, reviewer and editor who has worked with children’s literature for almost 40 years.  It’s a good overview of the best children’s books from across the ages and around the world, including translated titles.  The books are grouped by reading age, and there are reviews of favourite books written by beloved authors including Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume and Philip Pullman.  Leave this book lying around and everyone will want a turn flicking through.  For those with teen readers, pair it with it’s grown-up cousin, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die edited by Peter Boxall.

Little Miss Shelley: Frankenstein – an Anatomy Primer by Jennifer Adams

The super-cute BabyLit series enables discerning parents to introduce babies to their favourite literary characters! The sturdy board book format is perfect for little hands (and mouths); the artwork is stylish, colourful and fun; and each title matches a classic story to a related concept.  The latest titles include Frankenstein (about anatomy) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (about fairies). There’s also Jane Eyre  (counting), Jungle Book  (animals) and many more.

 

The Oxford Treasury of Fairy Tales retold by Geraldine McCaughrean

The Oxford Treasury of Fairy Tales is a classic example of a book gift that can be enjoyed for years to come.  It is a bumper edition of twenty stories, ranging from Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, to The Dancing Princesses and Tamlin.   Pastel illustrations in jewel tones add a vibrant yet dreamy quality. These beloved stories have been retold in hypnotic, poetic language by the award-winning Geraldine McCaughrean – her style makes these stories seem ancient and fresh all at once.  If myths and legends are more your style, Geraldine McCaughrean has also done excellent retellings of Greek Myths and Roman Myths, with illustrations by Emma Chichester-Clark.

Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier

Add a superstar comic artist to a beloved series and you get a modern classic ready to engage with new (and old) readers. Raina Telgemeier has amply demonstrated her ability to depict tween/teen relationships in bestselling graphic novels such as Smile and Sisters; The Baby-Sitters Club was a hugely-successful series, now celebrated for its girl-power message and its efforts in highlighting issues such as divorce, chronic illness and racism.  This full-colour graphic novel edition of Kristy’s Great Idea is gorgeous to look at, and introduces readers to how the series begins.  Books 1-4 are also available as a box set, while the original novels have also been republished.

 

Burning Maze (The Trials fo Apollo Book 3) by Rick Riordan

Burning Maze is the latest instalment in the Trials of Apollo series, where Apollo finds himself stranded in the body of a teenage New Yorker, as punishment for angering his father Zeus.   To return to Olympus, Apollo has to complete five impossible tasks – without access to his godly powers.  In Burning Maze, it’s two down, three to go.  Rick Riordan has won many fans with his action-packed adventures firmly rooted in Greek / Roman / Egyptian / Norse mythologies. Not only does he achieve the seamless blending of modern fantasy with ancient mythology, he has also updated the deities in witty ways.  For other modern updates for middle-grade readers, try Four Children and It by Jacqueline Wilson.

 

 

Hamlet by John Marsden

The challenge in making Classics appeal to teens is how to minimise the daunting reputation of the historical language while letting their gripping plots – full of love, grief, angst – shine.  The solution (particularly for Shakespeare’s works) lies in re-imagining these stories in vivid, modern prose.  While John Marsden’s terrific version of Hamlet stays close to the original, he views Hamlet as a teenager – young, vulnerable and relatable.  Other retellings give fresh perspectives through the eyes of a different / minor character – such as I am Juliet by Jackie French, Ophelia by Lisa Klein, or The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet by Natasha Farrant.

The best children’s books you might never have heard of

I love hearing about new or ‘new to me’ children’s books as it’s great to mix-up children’s reading options with some different choices. Sometimes I feel like I know some children’s books off by heart, I have read them so often (like the Mr McGee and some of the Julia Donaldson titles), but I love gifting books that are a bit more unusual. Special books span generations within families, long after the Kmart ‘trend of the moment’ has passed.

Chances are, you may well have heard of some of these titles as they have won a string of awards, but they’re definitely not some of the more well-known children’s books.

I discovered The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris van Allsburg as an adult, studying teaching and absolutely loved it. It’s a picture book containing a series of images by Harris Burdick, a man who mysteriously disappeared. This book is a great resource to start the story-writing process with small children. Many famous authors have written short stories prompted by the stunning black and white images. There is a sinister nature to some of the pictures so best to use with mid-Primary students and above.

When I remember some of the lessons we were taught as kids in schools, I loved collective nouns – in particular, ‘a murder of crows’. I heard about Jennifer Crossin’s beautiful book 101 Collective Nouns just the other day. It’s beautifully illustrated and each page features an image of a different collective noun. This book is lovely to give as a gift and perfect to read aloud with younger readers.

 

 

Love a book that starts a discussion? Try Ask me by Antje Damm. I love this book, the questions and images are thought provoking and it’s quite a precious book to share with children.  Each page features a question such as ‘Can you see animals in the sky?’ or ‘How do you know that you are growing?’. It’s thought provoking and I see it as a great resource to use with the thinkers and dreamers of the world. In a sea of wonderful fiction written for children, this is a great alternative.

If you are searching for engaging titles for Mid-Primary age boys I feel like your options are either a focus on toilet humour (bum jokes) or the Harry Potter series. Of course there are plenty of girls who enjoy these genres, too. I was delighted to discover the Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton recently and fell in love. Don’t get me wrong, these books do contain their fair share of toilet humour, too. But it’s more their rambling, conversational style and nonsensical plot lines that kids love. They’re silly and crazy in a Roald Dahl and Spike Milligan style, making them hugely popular and very readable.

The Sammy Keyes series by Wendelin Van Draanen were a recent discovery and feature a strong female protagonist who is an unofficial teenage detective, as well as dealing with the ups and downs of personal relationships.  A character with spunk and heart, the Sammy Keyes books are terrific for readers aged 10-16 as they show the main character struggling to fit in and manage complex feelings, as well as solve mysteries in her new home town.

 

 

If you know of some less well-known titles, we would love to hear from you at Booko!

Emerging authors of 2018 and their page turning novels.

It’s exciting to find a new author…and especially one who has you completely absorbed into their debut novel that you wish never finished…or that they would release another straight away!

We’re excited to share a few emerging authors who are bound to have you hooked from page one.

 

Lullaby by Leila Slimani

Okay, so this isn’t a debut novel but we’ve only just become aware of Slimani’s body of work and it’s amazing. Lullaby is a dark psychological thriller that opens with the murder of two young children by their nanny…hooked already right? When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties. The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul’s idyllic tableau is shattered.

 

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

This is a spell-binding story of curiosity and obsession where Imogen Hermes Gowar has created an unforgettable jewel of a novel, filled to the brim with intelligence, heart and wit where Gowar explores issues of class, family and women’s role in society.

One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid. As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society. At an opulent party, he makes the acquaintance of Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course, on which they will learn that priceless things come at the greatest cost.

 

Brother by David Chariandy

This is the second novel by Chariandy and if it is anything like his first (which won a whopping 11 awards) it’s expected to be an enthralling book exploring universal themes of love between brothers as well as race, masculinity and the challenges faced by immigrant families.

Brother is the story of two sons of Trinidadian immigrants coming of age amidst the hip-hop scene on the deprived outskirts of Toronto, Canada in the Eighties and Nineties. Weaving past and present, the story explores the relationship between the boys and their mother struggling to make ends meet in their adopted home, the prejudices and low expectations they face each day, and a tragic event that changes their lives irrevocably.

 

White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht

White Chrysanthemum is the debut novel by Mary Lynn Bracht who was originally studying to be a fighter pilot when she visited her mother’s childhood village and the seeds of this novel were laid. This is a story of two sisters separated by the Second World War in South Korea when Hana, a proud haenyeo (a female diver of the sea), saw her younger sister captured and forced to become a “comfort woman” in a Japanese military brothel.

One day Hana sees a Japanese soldier heading for where Emi is guarding the day’s catch on the beach. Her mother has told her again and again never to be caught alone with one. Terrified for her sister, Hana swims as hard as she can for the shore.

So begins the story. Switch-backing between Hana in 1943 and Emi as an old woman today, White Chrysanthemum takes us into a dark and devastating corner of history. But pulling us back into the light are two women whose love for one another is strong enough to triumph over the evils of war.

 

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo

Nick Clark Windo has written a startling and timely debut which presents a world and explores what it is to be human in the digital age. How it makes us…and how it destroys us.

The Feed is everywhere. It can be accessed by anyone, at any time. Every interaction, every emotion, every image can be shared through it. Tom and Kate use The Feed, but they have resisted addiction to it which will serve them well when The Feed collapses. Until their six-year-old daughter, Bea, goes missing. How do you find someone in a world devoid of technology? And what happens when you can no longer trust that your loved ones are really who they claim to be?

 

 

Enjoy!

Australia’s Top Books from the Past 5 Years

We love award seasons…especially when it’s celebrating Australian literature…and the 2018 season is about to start.

Each year the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) are held recognising excellence across the book industry, uniting authors, publishers and retailers in celebration of a collective passion for sharing stories and ideas. The awards showcase the extraordinary power of Australian stories to capture a worldwide audience and we thought we’d share the winners from the past five years.

Settle in and get ready to explore the amazing worlds of some great Australian authors…

 

2017 Winner

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Gold ABIA for Book of the Year and ABIA Fiction Book of the Year went to Jane Harper for her internationally acclaimed novel, The Dry and the film option rights have been snapped up by Reese Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty. Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime.

2016 Winners

Gold ABIA for Book of the Year

Reckoning: A Memoir by Magda Szubanski

Magda Szubanski’s childhood in a suburban migrant family was haunted by the demons of her father’s life in wartime Poland. At nineteen, fighting in the Warsaw resistance, he had been recruited to a secret counter-intelligence execution squad. His mission was to assassinate Polish traitors who were betraying Jewish citizens to the Nazis. The legacy of her father’s bravery left the young Magda with profound questions about her family story. As she grew up, the assassin’s daughter had to navigate her own frailties and fears, including a lifelong struggle with weight gain and an increasing awareness of her own sexuality. With courage and compassion Szubanski’s memoir asks the big questions about life, about the shadows we inherit and the gifts we pass on.

 

ABIA Fiction Book of the Year

The Patterson Girls by Rachael Johns

How can four sisters build the futures they so desperately want, when the past is reaching out to claim them? When the Patterson daughters return home to Meadow Brook to be with their father after their mothers death, they bring with them a world of complication and trouble.The eldest sister, obstetrician Madeleine, would rather be anywhere but her hometown, violinist Abigail has fled from her stellar career, while teacher Lucinda is struggling to have the children she and her husband so desperately want. The black sheep of the family, Charlie, feels her life as a barista and exercise instructor doesn’t measure up to that of her gifted and successful sisters.Dealing with their bereft father who is determined to sell the family motel, their loves old and new and a series of troublesome decisions don’t make life any easier, but when they go through their mother’s possessions and uncover the shocking secret of an old family curse, they begin to question everything they thought they knew. A warm and wise novel about secrets revealed, finding your soulmate and the unique bond between sisters.

 

2015 Winners

Gold ABIA for Book of the Year

52 Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Andy and Terry’s incredible, ever-expanding treehouse has 13 new storeys, including a watermelon-smashing level, a wave machine, a life-size snakes and ladders game (with real ladders and real snakes), a rocket-powered carrot-launcher, a Ninja Snail Training Academy and a high-tech detective agency with all the latest high-tech detective technology, which is lucky because they have a BIG mystery to solve – where is Mr Big Nose??? Well, what are you waiting for? Come on up.

 

 

 

 

 

ABIA Fiction Book of the Year

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

At seven years old, Millie Bird realises that everything is dying around her. She wasn’t to know that after she had recorded twenty-seven assorted creatures in her Book of Dead Things her dad would be a Dead Thing, too. Agatha Pantha is eighty-two and has not left her house since her husband died. She sits behind her front window, hidden by the curtains and ivy, and shouts at passers-by, roaring her anger at complete strangers. Until the day Agatha spies a young girl across the street. Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven when his son kisses him on the cheek before leaving him at the nursing home. As he watches his son leave, Karl has a moment of clarity. He escapes the home and takes off in search of something different. Three lost people needing to be found. But they don’t know it yet. Millie, Agatha and Karl are about to break the rules and discover what living is all about.

 

2014 Winner

 

Gold ABIA for Book of the Year and ABIA Fiction Book of the Year

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman is getting married. He just doesn’t know who to yet. But he has designed the Wife Project, using a sixteen-page questionnaire to help him find the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver. Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also fiery and intelligent and beautiful. And on a quest of her own to find her biological father—a search that Don, a professor of genetics, might just be able to help her with. The Wife Project teaches Don some unexpected things. Why earlobe length is an inadequate predictor of sexual attraction. Why quick-dry clothes aren’t appropriate attire in New York. Why he’s never been on a second date. And why, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love: love finds you.

 

2013 Winner

ABIA Fiction Book of the Year and ABIA Fiction Book of the Year

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man – and a crying baby. The only two islanders, Tom and his wife Izzy, are about to make a devastating decision. They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can follow the 2018 award season here with all of the titles that are on the ABIA’s Longlist. 

Interested in seeing which books get the most popular vote on Booko each year?  Here are the most clicked books for 2017, 2016 and 2015. 

Enjoy!