Tag Archives: #Fiction

Author Spotlight: John Grisham

With over thirty novels published and becoming bestsellers, the American novelist, John Grisham is one of our favourite legal thriller storytellers. 

Grisham began his career working in criminal defence and litigation and only wrote as a hobby each morning before heading to the office. It took him three years to write his first novel; A Time To Kill, and he has since written a book a year. 

Many of John Grisham’s novels have been adapted into blockbuster movies and his fan base (us included) are eagerly awaiting the release of his latest book Sparring Partners (which you can pre-order here). 

Here are six of our favourite Grisham stories.

The Firm  

He thought it was his dream job. It turned into his worst nightmare. When Mitch McDeere qualified third in his class at Harvard, offers poured in from every law firm in America. Bendini, Lambert and Locke were a small, well-respected firm, but their offer exceeded Mitch’s wildest expectations: a fantastic salary, a new home, and the keys to a brand new BMW. Except for the mysterious deaths of previous lawyers with the firm. And the FBI investigations. And the secret files. Mitch soon realises that he’s working for the Mafia’s law firm, and there’s no way out – because you don’t want this company’s severance package. To survive, he’ll have to play both sides against each other – and navigate a vast criminal conspiracy that goes higher than he ever imagined…

The Pelican Brief  

Two Supreme Court Justices are dead, their murders unsolved. But one woman might have found the answer. Darby Shaw is a brilliant New Orleans legal student with a sharp political mind. For her own amusement, she draws up a legal brief showing how the judges might have been murdered for political reasons, and shows it to her professor. He shows it to his friend, an FBI lawyer. Then the professor dies in a car bomb. And Darby realises that her brief, which pointed to a vast presidential conspiracy, might be right. Someone is intent on silencing Darby for good – somebody who will stop at nothing to preserve the secrets of the Pelican Brief…

The Client  

A US State Senator is dead. Only Mark Sway knows where the body is hidden. And he’s eleven years old. The FBI want him to tell them where it is, regardless of the risk to the boy and his family. The killer wants to silence him permanently. Reggie Love has only been practising law for five years, but she agrees to represent Mark pro bono, knowing she’s his best hope for survival. Against the twin threats of the cold-hearted American state and the schemes of a cold-blooded killer, Reggie must fight the case of her life. Or it might be the last case of her life.

The Chamber  

There are some cases you have to take. Adam Hill is a rookie lawyer at a top Chicago firm. The world is at his feet. So why does he volunteer to represent a KKK terrorist under threat of execution? And why is the defendant happy to put his life in a novice’s hands? The answer lies twenty years in the past, but there are darker, more shocking secrets to be uncovered

The Rainmaker  

The Rainmaker is a gripping courtroom thriller. Rudy Baylor is a newly qualified lawyer: he has one case, and one case alone, to save himself from his mounting debts. His case is against a giant insurance company which could have saved a young man’s life, but instead refused to pay the claim until it was too late. The settlement could be worth millions of dollars, but there is one problem: Rudy has never argued a case in court before, and he’s up against the most expensive lawyers that money can buy.

The Runaway Jury  

When justice is for sale, every jury has a price. In Biloxi, Mississippi, a landmark trial begins. There are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake and soon it swerves mysteriously off course. The jury is behaving strangely, and at least one juror is convinced he’s being watched. Soon they have to be sequestered. Then a tip from an anonymous young woman suggests she is able to predict the jurors’ increasingly odd behaviour. Is the jury somehow being manipulated, or even controlled? If so, by whom? And, more importantly, why?

Enjoy!

Great children’s book series

Series fiction is great for, and popular with children – not only do young readers get to meet their favourite characters again and again, it also makes lighter work for adults who are keen to nurture good reading habits! School, animals, fantasy, adventure, humour…. there are excellent book series that suit all interests and tastes. Here are six of the hottest series available now:

The Princess in Black and the Mermaid Princess by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

On most days, Princess Magnolia is a prim and proper princess… but when monsters stray onto her kingdom, she secretly transforms into The Princess in Black to fight them! Let Princess Magnolia show you how to be a pink princess, a fearless superhero – as well as someone with strong values. Princess in Black is a beginners’ chapter book series with cute, colourful illustrations. The stories are exciting and enormously fun. Shannon Hale, Dean Hale and LeUyen Pham are talented and award-winning creators who are also behind the popular Real Friends graphic novel series.

Find the full Princess in Black series here.

The Bad Guys Episode 14: They’re Bee-Hind You! by Aaron Blabey

The Bad Guys is like Reservoir Dogs – except funnier, kinder, and for kids! Mr Wolf, Mr Piranha, Mr Snake and Mr Shark feel dragged down by the bad reputations of their species, and are determined to show that they are good at Doing Good! Each episode (book) features a different mission that doesn’t always go to plan. The Bad Guys has a graphics-rich format, and plenty of silliness, ridiculous action, and toilet humour – all the things that engage even the most reluctant of readers! Get ready to hear a lot more about The Bad Guys in the lead up to its highly-anticipated movie adaptation. For ages 6 and up.

Find the whole series here.

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer

Enola Holmes is back! After an 11-year hiatus, the success of the Enola Holmes movie adaptation has inspired author Nancy Springer to release further adventures about the witty, smart girl detective. In Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche, Enola teams up with her older and more famous brother (The Sherlock Holmes) to investigate the supposed death of an Earl’s wife. The Earl claims that she died suddenly of a fever, and was quickly cremated without a funeral – and Enola and Sherlock are determined to find out the truth. This engaging mystery has rich period detail about Victorian London, as well as some thought-provoking reflections about the constraints of class and gender in that era. Popular with ages 10+.

Read the full series here.

Dog Man 10: Mothering Heights by Dav Pilkey

Dog Man graphic novels are a spin-off of the (also super-popular) Captain Underpants novels that has found its own large and loyal fanbase. Beneath the riotiously funny adventures of Dog Man and his crime-fighting cop buddies, lie messages about friendship and celebrating differences. While enjoyed by a wide range of readers – including reluctant readers – Dav Pilkey’s books do have a special resonance with neurodiverse children – Dav himself was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia as a child, and his work normalises and respects different behaviours. For ages 7+

The whole Dog Man series can be found here.

Wolf Girl 6: Animal Train by Anh Do

The multi-talented Anh Do has written a slew of bestselling series (including WeirDo, Ninja Kid , E-Boy and Mythix) to suit children of different ages and tastes! Wolf Girl is an adventure-packed series with a feisty, resourceful young hero. Whilst fleeing from the family home away from imminent danger, Gwen becomes separated from her family. Alone in the dark unfamiliar woods, Gwen needs to trust her instincts to survive. Soon she meets and forms a pack / family with a wolf cub, some stray dogs and a hawk. They learn from and look out for each other as Gwen tries to reunite with her family. Wolf Girl has fast-paced, thrilling action and is loved by both boys and girls aged 9+.

Find the whole adventure here.

Middle School: Field Trip Fiasco by James Patterson and Martin Chatterton

James Patterson is better known as a master of crime/political thrillers, but do you know he also writes hilarious school stories aimed at children? His Middle School series follows Rafe, a new student at Hills Village Middle School. Rafe feels alone, different, and a bit lost at his new school, and decides to use rule-breaking as his way of dealing with troubles at home and at school. The trouble-making is funny but he also (subtly) learns that misbehaviour doesn’t pay, as he gradually discovers his interests and strengths. The wacky, over-the-top adventures and heavily-illustrated style is perfect for fans of Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates. For ages 9+.

Read the whole Middle School series here.

Winding down with Booko : great books to read on the beach this Summer

Summer holidays are a time many of us look forward to. It’s that post-festive season quiet time where we find a quiet spot to sit on the beach, picnic rug or hammock and loose ourselves in a fabulous new book. We have scoured the internet and rustled up six great books that are sure to be popular this summer. Make sure you leave a comment below to let us know what you have been reading over the break. 

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be … dangerous. When Rose discovers that she cannot fall pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple. Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of unexpected love.

Fancy Meeting You Here by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

Evie Berry is a thirty-year-old wannabe screenwriter who spends her days managing a London cinema bar and making the podcast Pasta La Vista with her best friend Ben. She’s also obsessed with Hugo Hearst. Have you heard of him? Of course you have. He’s only one of the most influential and not to mention swoon-worthy bestselling writers of his generation. When Evie’s not hooking up with her on-again, off-again booty call ‘Ever-Ready Freddy’ (and sometimes even when she is), she fantasises about what might have been if she’d met Hugo years ago, when he was just a struggling writer. After Evie interviews a psychic to the stars on her podcast, her life is catapulted ten years into the past. But the grass isn’t quite as green as she remembers. Fancy Meeting You Here is a hilarious and heartwarming love story about reliving your early twenties and testing out that old saying: be careful what you wish for.

Two for Joy by Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch

Two for Joy is the chilling sequel to the #1 YA bestseller The Magpie Society  – One For Sorrow. Audrey and Ivy, determined to bring their fellow student Lola Radcliffe’s killer to justice, find themselves in the middle of another mystery when a friend disappears in suspicious circumstances. Their only clue is a mysterious card left by the enigmatic Magpie Society. With time running out and the police baffled, Audrey and Ivy must delve deeper than ever into the dark secrets that their school is hiding. But someone is playing a deadly game. And to beat them, Audrey and Ivy have to start rewriting the rules.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

When Jane, a broke dog-walker newly arrived in town, meets Eddie Rochester, she can’t believe her luck. Eddie is handsome, rich and lives alone in a beautiful mansion since the tragic death of his beloved wife a year ago.

A man who seems perfect, Eddie can give Jane everything she’s always wanted: stability, acceptance, and a picture-perfect life. But what Jane doesn’t know is that Eddie is keeping a secret, a big secret. And when the truth comes out, the consequences are far more deadly than anyone could ever have imagined.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardised when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

This is not just another novel about a dead girl. When she arrived in New York on her 18th birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice Lee was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city’s latest Jane Doe, an unidentified murder victim. Ruby Jones is also trying to start over; she travelled halfway around the world only to find herself lonelier than ever. Until she finds Alice’s body by the Hudson River. From this first, devastating encounter, the two women form an unbreakable bond. Alice is sure that Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her life and death. And Ruby, struggling to forget what she saw that morning, finds herself unable to let Alice go. Not until she is given the ending she deserves. Before You Knew My Name doesn’t ask whodunnit. Instead, this powerful, hopeful novel asks: Who was she? And what did she leave behind? 

Enjoy!

The Best Books of 2019 picked by Team Booko

We are still pinching ourselves that it is somehow October already! Wow the year has whizzed by. With the end of the year looming and Christmas (ahem) just around the corner we thought we would round up the best books that the Booko Team has read this year. 

The team has a wide and mixed bunch of titles so find yourself somewhere comfy to sit and get ready to be inspired to sink yourself into some fabulous stories. 

From the Founders:

Riina’s Pick: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I have been meaning to read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid ever since it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2017, and finally managed to read it this year. Though the story takes place in an unnamed city, it bears much resemblance to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. I was firstly drawn to the book because of the refugee theme, but ended up finding much more than a refugee story: a thought-provoking story about belonging, prejudice, loyalty and love.

The story is of young lovers who are forced to leave the city of their birth due to escalating violence and civil war. They hear rumours of mysterious doorways that open up in random places and that take those who can pay the price to some far-flung place that is safer than the place they leave behind. The couple end up going through two more doorways in search of a place they can feel safe in. By inventing these “magic doorways” Hamid is removing the journey from the refugee story, instead focusing on the experiences of leaving and arriving, and how such events shape and change a person. This way the story is in some ways relatable to anyone who’s ever migrated for one reason or another.

As events unfold, Hamid pays homage to various humanitarian crises across history, showing the reader how easy it is for history to repeat itself; how close we are to losing our humanity. Fear, prejudice and “otherness” are never far below the surface.

Though the book was not a pleasant or easy read, it made it to one of my most favourite this year due to the thoughts it left me with for days after I had finished reading the story.

Dan’s Pick: Practical Object-Oriented Design by Sandi Metz

I first heard the name Sandi Metz at a programming conference I was attending in Sydney.  My friend had bought a ticket and flown from Melbourne to see her speak.  Sandi was the keynote and the subject was on persuasion.  My friend, the Sandi fan, convinced me to watch a few of her programming videos and on the strength of those, I bought her latest book, ‘Practical Object-Oriented Design

It’s a dry sounding subject, but I was hooked immediately. Like me, Sandi is a Ruby programmer and like me, she builds systems in Ruby. The strength of the book is the way it introduces and discusses problems in designs of systems.  Sandi identifies problems in design with straightforward examples.   There were many moments during the book, when a problem was introduced that I immediately recognised and had struggled with.  The main difference is that rather than move on to the next issue, Sandi reduces the problem to its kernel, then deftly brings a few tools or patterns to bear on the problem.  It’s like watching a tangled cord be unknotted.  

I’m not sure I’d have been so engrossed in this book had I not, quite literally, struggled with the exact problems presented.  This book has improved me as a programmer and I would highly recommend it to any developer with a few years under their belt. 

From our youngest reviewers:

Niko’s Pick: Brotherband by John Flanagan

A series I recommend is Brotherband. It is by John Flanagan, and exists in the same world as his international bestselling series “Ranger’s Apprentice,” which is about the Rangers of Araluen, and Will, the ranger Halt’s apprentice. Brotherband’s events happened shortly after Ranger’s Apprentice, where Gilan is actually a character in both of the series.

Brotherband is set in Skandia, a land of sea wolves and democracy (as in they vote for their leader, the Oberjarl, instead of having a royal bloodline, like Araluen). The main characters are a Brotherband called the Herons (named after the bird) and they are led by Hal. They fight bad guys and do missions for the Oberjarl, Erak.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes Vikings and battles and action and many other things I forgot to name. This book is good for anyone older than 8, but really, it’s good for all ages as long as you can read. It’s that good.

Elora’s Pick: Smile by Raina Telgemeier

I made a book report for a Book called Smile. I recommend this book for 6+! This book was written by Raina Telgemeier. She also wrote some books called Sisters, Ghosts, Drama and Guts. Those are all the books by her that I know of. I thought it was a good Graphic Novel. The good things about it are: it actually happened, it’s funny and all other emotions including the sad emotion 😭 Sad😢. Her so called annoying sister named Amara says “You’re gonna be a METAL-MOUTH” when she gets braces from tripping over and losing 2 fully grown teeth! The dentist was nice so he gave her fake teeth to make her look normal and she ends up with a good life.

From the Marketing Team:

Cheekily, Marie has two favourites and because they are so different from each other we thought we’d let that slide and let her review two. 

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

If you like to sink your teeth into fascinating stories and learn practical tips at the same time, then this book is for you. A great friend recommended this to me and I loved it (and have since recommended it to a number of other people).

After a stint policing the rough streets of Kansas City, Missouri, Chris Voss joined the FBI, where his career as a hostage negotiator brought him face-to-face with a range of criminals, including bank robbers and terrorists. Reaching the pinnacle of his profession, he became the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. in his chatty style, Voss takes you inside the world of high-stakes negotiations and into his head, revealing the skills that helped him and his colleagues succeed where it mattered most: saving lives. In addition to the unbelievable stories, this is a practical guide of tactics and strategies that you can use to become more persuasive in both your professional and personal life.

Educated by Tara Westover

I still think about this book regularly after finishing it a few months ago, I think it is haunting me. With three little girls of my own and being brought up in a home where education was highly valued, I was intrigued when hearing about this story. I couldn’t imagine a world more different from my own and was so moved by the account of Tara’s life as she gets to the heart of what an education is and what it has to offer. I’m putting the blurb for the book below as I couldn’t describe it any better. However, prepare yourself because it is an exceptionally sad tale. 

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist. As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home. Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties.

Enjoy!

Top 10 Fiction Books of 2018 so far

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

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

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

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

 

 

The Outsider by Stephen King

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

 

The Woman in the Window by A J Finn

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

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

 

 

 

The Great Alone by Kirsten Hannah

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

 

Little fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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

 

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

Every couple has their secrets.

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

 

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

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

 

 

The Other Woman by Daniel Silva

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

 

When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

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

 

There There by Tommy Orange

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

 

 

 

Enjoy!

Solving the mysteries of the world with Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie has a tome of work including over 100 plays, short story collections, and novels. Many of these have been translated into over a hundred languages and though many have tried to out do her, she remains the best selling modern writer in the world.

Her genre of choice is crime and mystery and within it she has developed fabulous characters… a little old lady who was the world’s biggest sticky beak who could latch onto a seemingly random comment and use it to solve a crime and a Belgian with a finely trimmed moustache who enjoyed his creature comforts.

Let’s have a look at a few of her titles.

Murder on The Orient Express

Agatha Christie’s most famous murder mystery, reissued with a new cover to tie in with the 2017 film adaptation. Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.

 

 

 

 

Death on the Nile

Hercule Poirot is perhaps Agatha Christie’s most interesting and endearing character; short, round, and slightly comical, Poirot has a razor-sharp mind and puts unlimited trust in his “little grey cells.” Those little cells come through for him every time, enabling Poirot to solve some of the most baffling mysteries ever conceived. In Death on the Nile, Poirot, on vacation in Africa, meets the rich, beautiful Linnet Doyle and her new husband, Simon. As usual, all is not as it seems between the newlyweds, and when Linnet is found murdered, Poirot must sort through a boatload of suspects to find the killer before he (or she) strikes again.

 

 

 

And Then There Were None

Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston is found murdered by a deadly dose of cyanide. The tension escalates as the survivors realise the killer is not only among them but is preparing to strike again…and again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ABC Murders

Agatha Christie’s beloved classic The A.B.C. Murders sets Hercule Poirot on the trail of a killer. There’s a serial killer on the loose, working his way through the alphabet and the whole country is in a state of panic. A is for Mrs. Ascher in Andover, B is for Betty Barnard in Bexhill, C is for Sir Carmichael Clarke in Churston. With each murder, the killer is getting more confident but leaving a trail of deliberate clues to taunt the proud Hercule Poirot might just prove to be the first, and fatal, mistake.

 

 

 

 

 

and if you fancy getting to know a little more behind the scenes…

 

The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie: A Biographical Companion to the Works of Agatha Christie by Charles Osbourne

Charles Osborne, a lifelong student of Agatha Christie, has created a comprehensive guide to her world as examined through her books. Illustrated with rarely seen photos and updated to include details of the publications, films and TV adaptations of her writings, this book provides fascinating reading for any Christie aficionado.

 

 

 

 

 

Click through here to see more of Agatha Christie’s works.

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.

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!

Hollywood calling: Australian fiction on the world stage

Australian fiction has always had a strong voice internationally. There was a heyday period in the 1970’s where powerful stories such as ‘The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith’, ‘My Brilliant Career’ and ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ were translated easily into films that gave International audiences a taste of complex character-driven plotlines, set amongst the raw Australian landscape.

 

More recently, ‘Oscar and Lucinda’, written by the wonderful Peter Carey and focusing on a storyline involving a wealthy Australian heiress, an English Minister’s son, and a love of risk, won the 1998 Booker Prize and the 1989 Miles Franklin award. As a film, it was a great vehicle for showcasing the talents of Cate Blanchett to the International stage.

Following on, ‘Cloudstreet‘ by the multi-award winning writer Tim Winton, written in 1991 and made into a TV mini series in 2011 tells the tale of two working class Australian families who come to live together over a period of 20 years.

 

The Slap‘, written in 2008 by Chrisos Tsiolkas, delves into the complexity of the working middle class in Australia. Its subject matter, interestingly, became a topic that people were discussing around water coolers in Australia and around the world. A child is acting out and is slapped at a birthday party by a man who isn’t his father. The book (and mini-series) focus on the repercussion of this event on the group of people that witnessed it. The Slap was developed into 2 x TV Miniseries, one for Australian and one for US audiences.

 

The success of Liane Moriarty’s book ‘Big Little Lies’ and subsequent TV miniseries starring Nicole Kidman, Reece Witherspoon and Laura Dern has resulted in a huge amount of interest in the writer. Film rights have also been sold on three of her other books, including ‘The Husband’s Secret’, ‘Truly Madly Guilty’ and ‘What Alice Forgot’.

 

Saroo Brierly’s book ‘A Long Way Home’ has been hugely successful and the film ‘Lion’ was met with a bounty of awards in the 2017 awards season (including Luke Davies for Best Adapted Screenplay).

 

So what’s next?

Graeme Simsion’s debut novel ‘The Rosie Project’ about a love-lorn professor who seeks to find his perfect match using a 16 page questionnaire has been optioned by Sony Pictures. The search is underway for the perfect cast.  We’re looking forward to seeing this film on the big screen.

 

Reece Witherspoon optioned ‘The Dry’, a rural-gothic novel, written by former Herald Sun journalist Jane Harper, before the book was published in June 2015.

Focusing on a murder-suicide in a country town, it has been sold to more than 20 countries.

Have you heard of any Australian novels being made into movies or TV Miniseries? Drop us a line at booko@booko.com.au.