Category Archives: Summer

Six of the newest contemporary fiction titles on the market now

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

The Truth About Her by Jacqueline Maley

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

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

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

A Lonely Girl Is A Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu

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

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

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

One Hundred Days by Alice Pung

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

The Dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison by Meredith Jaffe

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

Enjoy!

Celebrating the Australian Book Industry with Booko: Places We Swim Sydney

From lap pools to ocean pools, harbour pools to waterfalls Places We Swim Sydney covers the very best of the city’s famous and hidden swimming spots.


Soak up the Bestsellers List this Summer

What does “holiday reading” mean to you? Does the slower pace of summer make you reach for light, breezy reads; or is this the time when you can finally commit to that big, substantial book? I do a bit of both – my Holiday Brain craves cheerful reads, but I always pack a variety just in case. I hope you can find YOUR perfect holiday read from this selection of recent bestsellers:

The Grand Tour by Olivia Wearne

When longtime friendly-neighbours Ruby and Angela set off for Adelaide in their campervan, little did they know what’s in store. These Grey Nomads became unwitting kidnappers when they discovered a little stowaway, and they also crossed paths with Angela’s estranged brother Bernard, a C-list celeb with his own troubles. Not only is The Grand Tour a quirky and very Aussie adventure, it is also a story about families – the ones you have and the ones you make. The laughter and heart just draws you in. The Grand Tour is Olivia Wearne’s debut novel, but she has a background in screenwriting and it shows – her descriptions are cinematic, the characters are well-developed, and the dialogue zings.

Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

If you like holiday reads that sweep you off to a different time and place, then Dark Tides is for you. This atmospheric tale, set in London in the 1670s, is the sequel to Tidelands. We meet again with Alinor, a poor, hardworking woman who now owns a warehouse on the Thames riverbank. On Midsummer Eve, she receives two unexpected visitors, who set off a chain of events amidst the poverty of early Restoration London, the splendour of Venice as well as the wild frontiers of colonial America. Philippa Gregory is best known for her novels about Tudor royalty; her assured writing has translated equally well to this immersive series about a commoner family in a later era. 

All Adults Here by Emma Straub

All Adults Here is the ironic title of this gentle black comedy about an extended family from upstate New York – think Something’s Gotta Give crossed with The Royal Tenanbaums. The most grownup member of the Strick clan is probably 13-year-old granddaughter Cecelia – her parents, aunts and uncles, and even her grandmother still struggle with insecurity and adulting from time to time. Emma Straub writes affectionately about her cast of flawed characters, creates much humour from their interactions, and grounds their personal challenges in current issues including abortion, bullying, IVF, gender identity and sexual predators.

Because of You by Dawn French

On New Year’s Eve, as a new millenium arrives, two women are in the same hospital, giving birth. Only one of them will bring a baby home. Seventeen years later, the consequences of what happened that night slowly unravel, with surprising and poignant results. Five long years after her last novel, Dawn French has given birth to her latest hit, Because of You. This is a story about mothers and daughters, nature and nurture, mistakes and regret. Dawn French’s wit adds richness and lightness to an emotional and thought-provoking story; the rich characterisation and multiple points-of-view will draw you in and keep you hooked till the last page.

Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos

Another strong literary debut rewarded by bestselling status. Lucky’s is a big, multigenerational family saga about the rise and fall of Lucky Mallios, a Greek-American who settled in postwar Australia, and his eponymous chain of cafes. Sharp, vivid vignettes tell a story that spans almost a century, across several continents; yet this vastness telescopes into a finely interwoven web, where each character’s actions affect others in unforeseen and pernicious ways. Informed by Andrew Pippos’ personal history, the post-war migrant experience, and the iconic Greek-Australian cafe scene, both play important roles in this immersive story.


The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Richard Osman joins a long list of successful comedians-turned-authors – but he stands out by debuting with a murder mystery. The Thursday Murder Club is a quartet of residents in an upmarket retirement village, who meet weekly to pore over unsolved crimes. This seems a fun but academic pastime – until the day a murder happens close to home. Richard Osman’s clever, deadpan personality, as seen in TV shows such as Taskmaster and QI, also shines through in his writing. He skilfully balances distinctive and recognisable characterisation with a pinch of Miss Marple, a smidge of the Ealing comedies, and balances everything with poignant asides on ageing and the end of life. No wonder that The Thursday Murder Club has become the fastest-selling adult crime debut ever in the UK.

Monday Inspo

It’s the start of another week and the weather is meant to be glorious. To help you keep the holiday vibes going we are sharing the best summer reads on the blog later this week. Be sure to check it out.

Getting motivated in 2021; The best self-help books on the market

2021 is a year that comes with big expectations and even bigger dreams. After the whirlwind year that was 2020 everyone is banking on this year being so much brighter. While the start was a bit rocky here in Australia with new outbreaks of Covid we are still gearing up for a year where we get to take charge and dream big. The motivational and self-help genres are hugely popular and we have chosen a few of our favourites to help you get motivated to hit your 2021 goals. 

The Right-brain Workout 2 by Russel Howcroft and Alex Wadelton

Are you out of ideas? Feel your creativity drying up? Is brain fog taking over your life? Give your right brain a workout with the experts. In just ten weeks, you can reignite your imagination and tap into the creative potential inside you. Following on from the highly successful Right-brain Workout Vol 1, here are seventy more questions posed by some of Australia’s most innovative individuals – creatives from the world of comedy, film, literature, art, photography and advertising – designed to help you to think outside the box to unleash your inner genius. You wanted more, and Russel Howcroft and Alex Wadelton have delivered.

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight 

From the author of the bestselling book everyone is talking about, The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F%*k. The no-fks-given, no-holds-barred guide to living your best life. Ever find yourself snowed under at the office, or even just glued to the sofa, when you really want to get out (for once), get to the gym (at last), and get started on that daunting dream project you’re always putting off? Then it’s time to get your sh*t together. In The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F%*k, ‘anti-guru’ Sarah Knight introduced the joys of mental decluttering. Get Your Sh*t Together takes you one stop further – organising the f*cks you want and need to give to help you quit your day job and move abroad, balance work and fun, and save money while you’re at it, or simply get out of the door for happy hour, every day.

The Now of Work by Lisa Messenger

For more than 19 years Lisa Messenger has had the absolute pleasure of inspiring game-changers, thought-leaders, stylemakers, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs across the world. After the crisis of COVID-19 the world was suddenly faced with a new way of working, people felt, and are still feeling overwhelmed and lost. The Now of Work takes you through all the steps needed to be able to thrive in a work from home environment. It covers practical, actionable ways for creating location freedom, as a solopreneur, entrepreneur or intrapreneur. You can see Lisa’s other books here.

Speak Your Truth by Fearne Cotton

Fearne Cotton’s voice is familiar to millions, whether that’s through television, radio or on her hugely successful Happy Place podcast. Her voice is her career, her livelihood and the way she communicates with her audience and her loved ones. So, when Fearne’s doctor told her she was at risk of needing a throat operation followed by two weeks of being unable to speak, she found herself facing a period of unexpected contemplation. As she considered what silence would mean, Fearne began to think about other times her voice had gone unheard as a young woman, as ‘just the talent’, as the foil to louder, more dominant figures. She found herself wondering, at what point do we internalise this message, and start silencing ourselves? When do we swallow down our authentic words to become pleasers and compromisers at the cost of our own happiness or wellbeing? Speak Your Truth dives into all the ways we learn to stay quiet for the wrong reasons, and explores how to find your voice, assert yourself and speak out with confidence. Brave, vulnerable and deeply personal, Speak Your Truth shares Fearne’s compelling story and helps you to shape your own.

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

The routine traffic stop that ends in tragedy. The spy who spends years undetected at the highest levels of the Pentagon. The false conviction of Amanda Knox. Why do we so often get other people wrong? Why is it so hard to detect a lie, read a face or judge a stranger’s motives? Through a series of encounters and misunderstandings, from history, psychology and infamous legal cases, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual adventure into the darker side of human nature, where strangers are never simple and misreading them can have disastrous consequences. No one challenges our shared assumptions like Malcolm Gladwell. Here he uses stories of deceit and fatal errors to cast doubt on our strategies for dealing with the unknown, inviting us to rethink our thinking in these troubled times. You can see Malcolm’s other books here.

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to be Calm in a Busy World by Haemin Sunim

The world moves fast, but that doesn’t mean we have to. In this timely guide to mindfulness, Haemin Sunim, a Buddhist monk born in Korea and educated in the United States, offers advice on everything from handling setbacks to dealing with rest and relationships, in a beautiful book combining his teachings with calming full-colour illustrations. Haemin Sunim’s simple messages, which he first wrote when he responded to requests for advice on social media, speak directly to the anxieties that have become part of modern life and remind us of the strength and joy that come from slowing down. Hugely popular in Korea, Haemin Sunim is a Zen meditation teacher whose teachings transcend religion, borders and ages. With insight and compassion drawn from a life full of change, the bestselling monk succeeds at encouraging all of us to notice that when you slow down, the world slows down with you.

Enjoy.