Boom! Just like that, January is over! Time to sit back and chill all weekend – we hope you get a chance to spend it with friends and family.
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.
Summer has well and truly arrived here in Melbourne and with the festive season done and dusted it’s time to load your e-reader full of books to enjoy while spending your days on the beach, in a hammock or beside the pool.
We rounded up the top selling books of the year in December (you can have a read of that blog post here ) and you can find the eBook versions of them on Booko, too, by clicking eBook in the drop down menu of your search.
We are a household that uses both Kindles and Kobos to read books on the go. We have Kobos for our children as they allow them to read their library books in an electronic version (via the amazing libby app). We love this functionality as it allows them to bring their library books on holiday without the fear of ever losing one!
Here are our top downloads for you to enjoy. Let us know what you’re spending your summer reading in the comments below.
Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham
Six years ago, Evie Cormac was discovered, filthy and half-starved, hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a shocking crime. Now approaching adulthood, Evie is damaged, self-destructive and has never revealed her true identity.
Forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven, a man haunted by his own past, is investigating the death of champion figure-skater Jodie Sheehan. When Cyrus is called upon to assess Evie, she threatens to disrupt the case and destroy his ordered life. Because Evie has a unique and dangerous gift – she knows when someone is lying. And nobody is telling the truth.
Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris
Based on the heart-breaking true story of Cilka Klein, Cilka’s Journey is the sequel to the internationally No.1 bestselling phenomenon, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. In 1942 Cilka Klein is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. The Commandant at Birkenau, Schwarzhuber, notices her long beautiful hair, and forces her separation from the other women prisoners. Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly given, equals survival.
After liberation, Cilka is charged as a collaborator by the Russians and sent to a desolate, brutal prison camp in Siberia known as Vorkuta, inside the Arctic Circle. Innocent, imprisoned once again, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, each day a battle for survival. Cilka befriends a woman doctor, and learns to nurse the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under unimaginable conditions. And when she tends to a man called Alexandr, Cilka finds that despite everything, there is room in her heart for love.
Cilka’s Journey is a powerful testament to the triumph of the human will. It will move you to tears, but it will also leave you astonished and uplifted by one woman’s fierce determination to survive, against all odds.
Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe
Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating, and storing; behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag. Gerritsen and Gammage in their latest books support this premise but Pascoe takes this further and challenges the hunter-gatherer tag as a convenient lie. Almost all the evidence in Dark Emu comes from the records and diaries of the Australian explorers, impeccable sources. Dark Emu is a must read for anyone who wants to understand what Australia once was, or what it might yet be if we heed the lessons of long and sophisticated human occupation.
The Strangers We Know by Pip Drysdale
This is the eagerly awaited new thriller from the bestselling author of The Sunday Girl. Imagine seeing your loving husband on a dating app. Now imagine that’s the best thing to happen to you all week. When Charlie sees a man who is the spitting image of her husband Oliver on a dating app, her heart stops. Her first desperate instinct is to tell herself she must be mistaken, after all, she only caught a glimpse from a distance as her friends were laughingly swiping through the men on offer. But no matter how much she tries to push her fears aside, she can’t because she took that photo. On their honeymoon. She just can’t let it go. Suddenly other signs of betrayal begin to add up and so Charlie does the only thing she can think of to defend her position, she signs up to the app to catch Oliver in the act. But Charlie soon discovers that infidelity is the least of her problems. Nothing is as it seems and nobody is who she thinks they are.
The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz
This is the next episode in David Lagercrantz’s acclaimed continuation of Stieg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo series is a thrilling ride that scales the heights of Everest and plunges the depths of Russia’s criminal underworld. In a climax of shattering violence, Lisbeth Salander will face her nemesis.
Lisbeth Salander’s mentor and protector Holger Palmgren is dead, and she has been gone from Stockholm since his funeral. All summer, Mikael Blomkvist has been plagued by the fear that Salander’s enemies will come after her.
He should, perhaps, be more concerned for himself.
In the pocket of an unidentified homeless man, who died with the name of a Swedish government minister on his lips, the police find a list of telephone numbers. Among them, the contact for Millennium magazine and the investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Following the scorched trail of her twin sister Camilla to Moscow, Salander nevertheless continues to watch over her old friend. Soon Blomkvist will need her help. But first, she has an old score to settle; and fresh outrage to avenge.
Agent Running in the Field by John le Carre
Nat, a 47 year-old veteran of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, believes his years as an agent runner are over. He is back in London with his wife, the long-suffering Prue. But with the growing threat from Moscow Centre, the office has one more job for him. Nat is to take over The Haven, a defunct substation of London General with a rag-tag band of spies. The only bright light on the team is young Florence, who has her eye on Russia Department and a Ukrainian oligarch with a finger in the Russia pie.
Nat is not only a spy, he is a passionate badminton player. His regular Monday evening opponent is half his age: the introspective and solitary Ed. Ed hates Brexit, hates Trump and hates his job at some soulless media agency. And it is Ed, of all unlikely people, who will take Prue, Florence and Nat himself down the path of political anger that will ensnare them all. Agent Running in the Field is a chilling portrait of our time, now heartbreaking, now darkly humorous, told to us with unflagging tension by the greatest chronicler of our age.
Well hello Friday! I think I have just found my office for the summer…that little red umbrella in the middle. Happy weekend everyone!
We hope you all survived the fun and excitement that is Christmas Day and now that that is behind us we are continuing the party season with New Year celebrations. Can you believe it is 2020 next week? How is it that when we think of 20 years ago we naturally think of the 80s but, no… it was 2000. Yikes! (makes us feel old…).
To ring in the new year, many people have a bit of a bash and we thought we’d share some of the best books on the market that will help elevate your soirée into something a little more memorable.
Just a note, some of these books contain ideas for fancy smanzy drinks involving alcohol so please remember to drink responsibly and look after each other as you welcome in the new year.
Mix Tape Pot Luck by Questlove
What if Questlove threw a potluck dinner, and everybody came? He picked the guests. The guests picked the recipes. The result is the ultimate potluck cookbook. Questlove is best known for his achievements in the music world, but his interest in food runs a close second. He has hosted a series of renowned Food Salons and conversations with some of America’s most prominent chefs. Now he is turning his hand to creating a cookbook. In Mixtape Potluck Cookbook, Questlove imagines the ultimate potluck dinner party, inviting more than fifty chefs, entertainers, and musicians such as Eric Ripert, Natalie Portman, and Q-Tip and asking them to bring along their favourite recipes. He also pairs each cook with a song that he feels best captures their unique creative energy. The result is not only an accessible, entertaining cookbook, but also a collection of Questlove’s diverting musical commentaries as well as an illustration of the fascinating creative relationship between music and food. With Questlove’s unique style of hosting dinner parties and his love of music, food, and entertaining, this book will give readers unexpected insights into the relationship between culture and food.
The Champagne Guide by Tyson Stelzer
This one is for those who like to ring in the new year with some bubbles. This is the world’s most comprehensive and up-to-date guide to Champagne, featuring all the latest vintages. The Champagne Guide 2020-2021 contains fully independent assessments, with profiles and ratings, of over 120 champagne producers and 800 cuvées. Inside you’ll find: Independent assessments and ratings of more than 800 cuvées, all tasted recently; all of the latest insights on the top 120 champagne houses, growers and cooperatives; a Hall of Honour to acknowledge the best producers in Champagne this year; highlights of all the best champagnes of the year at every price and style; updated assessments of the past 24 vintages in Champagne; a chapter on decoding champagne labels and bottling codes along with maps of the champagne villages and vineyards.
Popsicle Party by Louise Pickford
Okay, so this may not be the book of choice for a New Year’s party in the UK but we know those down under will love it. A chilled popsicle, grabbed and shared round languorously from the freezer on a boiling hot day is a simple, nostalgic pleasure. These juvenile treats have clearly not lost their appeal amongst fun-loving adults, and recent trends have seen these childish ices transformed into something far more sophisticated, with fresh natural ingredients and gourmet flavours. Adults and children alike will adore Coconut, Mango and Passion Fruit ice pops: a rainbow of colours and three of your five-a-day in the most enjoyable way. A stash of dairy-free Almond Milk, Honeycomb and Salted Chocolate Pops will always be welcome, while making Buttermilk, Rosewater, Raspberry and Pistachio Pops with whole raspberries set inside would be the most attractive end to any dinner party. It is remarkably easy to make these frozen treats at home, so stock up your freezer and have a posh popsicle ready for any occasion.
The Modern Gentleman by John McCarthy
This compact volume introduces modern gentlemen to some of the greatest pleasures in life, from the very best spirits to the most complex hot sauces to the suavest of accessories. The book is targeted to aspiring bon vivants, modern metrosexuals, millennials, and hipsters eager to become the new gentleman. Content not only includes quick guides to great drinks, foods, and cigars, but also makes the case for why every real gentleman needs a great flask, a classic pen, and a watch that may not be ‘smart’ but will make you look and feel like 007. Features short essays on each subject, with classic illustrations accompanying each, all in a handsome package that will evoke thoughts of a trusted old leather-bound book.
Paper Pom Poms and other Party Decorations by Juliet Carr
We love to add a little decoration or two to jazz up a party and why not try your hand at making your own this year. Discover how to create a spectacular setting for your next party with these 35 fabulous projects. From eye-catching pom-poms to pretty garlands and stunning giant flowers, you’ll want to make every one of these wonderful paper decorations. Begin with the classic pom-poms–popular in the 60s and 70s, but enjoying a stylish revival today. Make them in different sizes and colours for a real impact. Learn, too, how to make honeycomb balls, a star piata, and rosette snowflakes–all beautiful hanging decorations that will look great hung from the ceiling, or in a window. In chapter 2, you’ll find garlands and bunting. Why not try the cupcake garland, using cupcake cases to sit around fairy lights and look like twinkling flowers? Or have a go at the vintage book bunting that would add character at a themed party, or even in your workspace. Finally, create impressive centerpieces – giant roses and daffodils, a coffee filter flower wreath, and waxed floating lilies are among the striking designs. The projects use a variety of paper materials, including tissue, cardstock, and crepe paper, as well as recycled magazine pages and gift-wrap–and no specialist craft experience is needed. Step-by-step photography will show you exactly what to do. You’ll also find out about all the different types of paper available–such as water-resistant tissue paper, and two-tone paper that has a different colour on each side of it–as well as where to buy them. Plus, every template you’ll need is included at the back of the book.
Batch Cocktails by Maggie Hoffman
As anyone who has hosted a dinner party knows, cocktail hour is the most fun part of the evening for guests–but the most stressful for whomever is in charge of keeping the drinks flowing. The solution, though, is simple: batch it! In this fun collection, Maggie Hoffman offers 65 delicious and creative cocktails that you don’t have to stir or shake to order; rather, they are designed to stay fresh when made ahead and served out of a pitcher. Recipes such as Tongue in Cheek (gin, Meyer lemon, thyme, Cocchi Rosa), Friendly Fires (mezcal, chili vodka, watermelon, lime), BirdsnBees Punch (rum, cucumber, green tea, lemon), and even alcohol-free options are organized by flavor profile –herbal, boozy, bitter, fruity and tart, and so on– to make choosing and whipping up a perfect pitcher of cocktails a total breeze.
Happy Holidays Everyone. We hope you all have a wonderful day with friends and family.
Good luck out there tonight everybody. We wish you a smooth Christmas Eve evening. May you all find your scissors, have the sticky tape co-operate and not run out of wrapping paper.
Where are you spending your Summer holiday? We’re hoping for somewhere sunny with a bit of shade and the occasional breeze…oh and a beach within walking distance.
Don’t worry, there is still time to send a gift card. Click through here to find out how.
Buying for the family ginch this year? We have some hilarious books that will make even the grumpiest person crack a smile. Click through our recommended section for ideas.