Tag Archives: #Holidayreading

Load your eReader this summer with these great titles

Much as I still prefer paper books, I have discovered that eBooks offer some great benefits.  For example, eBooks are great for holidaying – they add hardly any bulk or weight to your luggage; they allow easy adjustment to font size and colour contrast; and you can buy and download them instantaneously wherever you are. So whether you prefer an eReader or eBook apps on a tablet or phone, you will never be without a book again!  Here are some great summer e-reads, whether you are travelling or relaxing at home:

Rogue One: a Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed

Loved the latest Star Wars film and want to revisit the story?  Perhaps you haven’t yet seen the film, but don’t feel like battling with crowds during your summer break?  Download the novelisation of the film instead. Rogue One: a Star Wars Story is more than a standard movie novelisation – many scenes have been extended and expanded to give a richer story while being totally faithful to the film.  Alexander Freed has used his extensive knowledge of the Star Wars Universe – as creator of earlier video games, comics and novels – to deliver a well-written novel that contributes strongly to the overall canon.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

The Austen Project – six modern retellings of Jane Austen’s beloved novels – has attracted stellar authorship including Joanna Trollope (for Sense and Sensibility ) and Alexander McCall Smith (for Emma). Now Curtis Sittenfeld has tackled Pride and Prejudice – probably the most daunting one to adapt – with impressive results.  The story is set in suburban Cincinnati, where Liz and Jane Bennet return to the family home after Mr Bennet suffers a heart attack. Jane is a yoga teacher and Liz a magazine writer based in New York – both nudging 40 and still single. Along comes Chip Bingley (a doctor and former contestant in a reality-TV dating show) and his snooty neurosurgeon friend Darcy…  Eligible is spot-on in retaining the wryness of the original while lampooning modern-day obsessions.  It is riotous and totally addictive – even when you already know what happens!

Neighbourhood by Hetty McKinnon

Hetty McKinnon is the powerhouse behind Sydney’s Arthur Street Kitchen, a salad delivery service renowned for its innovative and flavourful modern salads – think layers of textures and flavours provided by herbs, grains and roasted vegetables as well as leafy greens.  Following the success of her first cookbook, Community, comes Neighbourhood, with salads inspired by the multicultural neighbourhoods of New York, her new hometown.  Neighbourhood is not just a recipe collection, it celebrates the sharing of food in building friendships and communities.  I love Neighbourhood for its warmth, stunning photography as well as its message – the idea of connecting with others through sharing food is perfect for this time of year.  The delicious recipes provide rich inspiration for summer eating, whether entertaining a crowd, or preparing something simple for those too-hot-to-cook days.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate by Peter Wohlleben

Popular science is a great genre if you prefer books with both readability and substance.  The Hidden Life of Trees is a recent release with an intriguing premise – that trees are social beings that count and remember; that look out for, and support neighbours and relatives; that communicate with each other by sending signals through a vast underground network of fungus.  The Hidden Life of Trees uses an anthropomorphic style that is captivating but may sound fantastical; however, these revelations are based on Peter Wohlleben’s extensive experience as a forest ranger, and backed by recent research in biology and ecology.  A bestseller in its native Germany, The Hidden Life of Trees challenges us to value forests as much more than a habitat or a source of timber.

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Swallows and Amazons epitomises an idyllic summer full of freedom and adventure.  During the school holidays, the Walker children (John, Susan, Titty and Roger) are staying at a lakeside farm with their mother and infant sister.  The children are given permission to sail their dinghy, the Swallow, to an island in the lake to set up camp.  Camp life involves plenty of swimming, sailing and fishing for their food – and no adults.  One day, the Swallows spy two fierce pirates – sisters Nancy and Peggy in their dinghy Amazon.  What follows is a summer of friendship, fun and even some mystery… Swallows and Amazons is a classic story that still excites young readers with its spirit of independence and derring-do; it also unleashes adult nostalgia about our own free-roaming childhoods during endless summers.  A perfect waterside read!

The Best Holiday Books for Christmas

It’s time to crank up the Buble, pop the Christmas mince pies in the oven and settle down with a great book to get you into the Christmas mood.

We have scoured the bookstores to bring you the ultimate Christmas Holiday Reading List to get those festive feelings flowing…sit back and enjoy!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

It’s a classic and it’s amazing! In this beautiful story Charles Dickens invents the modern concept of Christmas Spirit and offers one of the world’s most adapted and imitated stories. We know Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, not only as fictional characters, but also as icons of the true meaning of Christmas in a world still plagued with avarice and cynicism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Life Adventures of Santa Claus by L Frank Baum

Written by the author of The Wizard of Oz, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus tells the captivating story of Neclaus, a child found and raised in the magical Forest of Burzee by a wood-nymph. Among the imortals, Neclaus grows an innocent youth, until the day when he discovers the misery that rules the human world and hovers, like a shadow, above the heads of the children. Now, in the attempt of easing human suffering, he, with the help of his imortal friends, will have to face the forces of evil and of resignation, in order to bring joy to the children and teach them, for the sake of humanity, the importance of sharing and caring for each other.

 

Christmas Days:  12 stories and 12 Recipes for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson

The tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas is a tradition of celebration, sharing and giving. And what better way to do that than with a story? Read these stories by the fire, in the snow, travelling home for the holidays. Give them to friends, wrap them up for someone you love, read them aloud, read them alone, read them together. Enjoy the season of peace and goodwill, mystery, and a little bit of magic. There are ghosts here and jovial spirits. Chances at love and tricks with time. There is frost and icicles, mistletoe and sledges. There is a Christmas Tree with mysterious powers. There’s a donkey with a golden nose and a tinsel baby that talks.There’s a cat and a dog and a solid silver frog. There’s a Christmas cracker with a surprising gift inside.There’s a haunted house and a disappearing train. There are Yule-tides and holly wreaths. Three Kings. And a merry little Christmas time.

 

Letters from Father Christmas by JRR Tolkin

Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J. R. R. Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in strange spidery handwriting and a beautiful coloured drawing or some sketches. The letters were from Father Christmas.They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: How all the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place, How the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining-room, How he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden, How there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house! Sometimes the Polar Bear would scrawl a note, and sometimes Ilbereth the Elf would write in his elegant flowing script, adding yet more life and humour to the stories. From the first note to Tolkien’s eldest son in 1920 to the final poignant letter to his daughter in 1943, this book collects all the remarkable letters and pictures in one enchanting edition.

 

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

David Sedaris’s beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites as the diaries of a Macy’s elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris’s tales of tardy trick-or-treaters (“Us and Them”); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French (“Jesus Shaves”); what to do when you’ve been locked out in a snowstorm (“Let It Snow”); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations (“Six to Eight Black Men”); what Halloween at the medical examiner’s looks like (“The Monster Mash”); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry (“Cow and Turkey”).

 

 

The Gift by Cecelia Ahem

The Gift is a magical, fable-like Christmas story from Cecelia Ahern, the celebrated New York Times bestselling author of P.S. I Love You and Thanks for the Memories. The story of Lou Suffern, a successful executive frustrated by the fact that he spends more time in the office than with his doting wife and two young children, The Gift is a tantalizing tale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

Simeon Lee has demanded that all four of his sons visit the family home for Christmas. But the cantankerous patriarch has anything but a heartwarming family holiday in mind. He bedevils each of his sons with barbed insults, while at the same time lavishing attention on his very attractive, long-lost granddaughter. Finally he announces that he is cutting off his sons’ allowances and changing his will to boot. So when the old man is found lying in a pool of blood on Christmas Eve, there is no lack of suspects. Intrepid Belgian detective Hercule Poirot suspends his holiday sorting through the myriad suspects and motives to find the truth behind the old man’s death.

 

 

 

The Christmas Card by Dilly Court

The perfect heartwarming romance for Christmas, rich in historical detail. She turned the picture of the Christmas card over with her frozen hands, a pretty picture of a family gathering at Yuletide. How different from her own life; stiff with cold on the icy cobbles, aching for shelter . . .

When her father dies leaving Alice and her ailing mother with only his debts, the two grieving women are forced to rely on the begrudging charity of cruel Aunt Jane. Determined to rid herself of an expensive responsibility, Jane tries forcing Alice into a monstrous marriage. And when Alice refuses, she is sent to work in a grand house to earn her keep. Finding herself in sole charge of the untameable and spoilt young miss of the house, Alice’s only ally is handsome Uncle Rory, who discovers that Alice has talents beyond those of a mere servant. But when someone sets out to destroy her reputation, Alice can only pray for a little of that Christmas spirit to save her from ruin . . .

Phew…that should rid you of any grinchy feelings! Happy Reading!

Celebrating Readers: Top Travel Books

What’s not to like about travel?  New sights, sounds, tastes, beautiful scenery, different cultures, tranquility or excitement (or both)… even if drop-everything-and-go travelling is not an option right now, it is still fun to indulge in some armchair travel and plan a dream trip.  Whether you like your travel glamorous or rugged, by car or in a plane, there’s a great read waiting here for you!

Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places by National Geographic

Destinations of a Lifetime is a stunning coffee table book that inspires wonder and daydreams.  As befits a National Geographic publication, the photography is amazing – whether it is of a rugged landscape, or a rustic market stall.  These 225 Amazing Places have been chosen from around the world for their natural beauty, architecture and cultural history.  From wildlife reserves to mountain ranges to palaces and even train stations, they remind us that the world is a big and amazing place. Each profile also includes travel tips and how to visit places “like a local”.

Slim Aarons: La Dolce Vita by Slim Aarons

Slim Aarons built his career on photographing “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places”.  La Dolce Vita is a collection of his society portraits – chronicling the lives of aristocrats and celebrities for over 50 years.  We see his subjects at home and at play all over Italy – in villas, vineyards, palazzos and on yachts.  The stunning scenery provides perfect backdrops for elegant displays of sumptuous wealth – Slim Aaron’s vision of La Dolce Vita is never crass, but nostalgic and effortlessly glamorous.

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

Twenty years after the journey immortalised in Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson travels around Britain again, to see what has changed – and, as he cheekily reveals, because his agent wants him to write a sequel.  Time has not diminished his love for his “Small Island”, but has enriched it with authority – he makes a passionate plea here, as a seasoned campaigner for preserving the landscape and heritage of rural England. Bill Bryson also enjoys showing his grumpier side as he derides the bad manners and crassness so evident nowadays.  The Road to Little Dribbling is another perfect blend of affable humour, naughty wit and eye for the ridiculous that Bill Bryson fans know and love.

Walking the Camino: a Modern Pilgrimage to Santiago by Tony Kevin

Travel is usually about external stimulation such as new sights and sounds, but can also promote inward contemplation – particularly when walking alone on a long trek. Tony Kevin, an overweight, disaffected retired diplomat, does just that when he treks across Spain along the Camino – the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. During his eight-week journey he experiences physical and mental exhaustion, picturesque  scenery, ancient tradition and spiritual nourishment.  Walking the Camino offers fascinating insights about why the Camino is still relevant and appealing – and in fact is experiencing a revival, travelled each year by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from many different nations and creeds.

The Route 66 Encyclopaedia by Jim Hinckley

Route 66 is one of the world’s iconic travel routes, and Jim Hinckley has the wealth of knowledge to help guide us along it.  True to its name, The Route 66 Encyclopaedia is jam-packed with information, photographs and memorabilia about the history, landmarks, and personalities associated with this road. It is a guidebook, a cultural history as well as a tribute.  With alphabetically-arranged entries, Jim Hinckley has created the definitive reference for “the Main Street of America”.

Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo by Matthew Amster-Burton

You may already know Matthew Amster-Burton and his daughter Iris from the book Hungry Monkey, a chronicle of Matthew’s attempt at turning little Iris into an adventurous eater.  A few years on, Iris is six – still an idiosyncratic eater – and Matthew takes his whole family to Tokyo for a month.  Based out of a tiny apartment, Matthew and his family immerse themselves in the daily life (and food) of this often impenetrable city.  Part guidebook and part diary, I find Pretty Good Number One both endearing and inspirational, because it shows that travelling with children can be delicious and fun.  Cool fact: one fan took Pretty Good Number One as his only guidebook on his Tokyo trip – and ate magnificently.


Holidays in Hell
and Holidays in Heck by P. J. O’Rourke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the hard-living foreign correspondent for Rolling Stone magazine (who knew that they would have one!?), P. J. O’Rourke filed despatches from troublespots around the world, including Mexico, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.  These thought-provoking and hilarious pieces, published as Holidays in Hell, mash politics and pop culture with black comedy.  Holidays in Hell became an instant classic and a game-changer for travel writing.Fast-forward to the present, and P.J. O’Rourke, retired “sh*thole specialist”, now travels for leisure like everyone else.  In Holidays in Heck, let P.J.’s caustic wit and gonzo ways show you the unexpected horrors and hidden dangers of travelling to nice places.

Check out our recommended travel reads on our Pinterest board.

Celebrated Australian books that inspire and enthral

Today is Australia Day, so I am showcasing a number of popular and highly-regarded Australian authors.  I have continued the “inspirational” theme that Team Booko has adopted during January – not only are these books interesting and entertaining, some of them are inspirational too, with authors such has Stephanie Alexander, Dr Anita Heiss and Dr Karl Kruszelnicki literally changing lives through their advocacy work.

Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids (Second Edition) by Stephanie Alexander

Stephanie Alexander is a renowned chef; however, her greatest contribution to Australia may be her Kitchen Garden Program.  From its beginnings in one inner-suburban school, Stephanie’s dedication has inspired hundreds of kitchen gardens to be set up in schools across Australia, teaching children about gardening, cooking and healthy eating.  Jamie Oliver, another crusader for healthy eating, is a big fan of this work.  Kitchen Garden Cooking with Kids is both a guide to planning and setting up your own school kitchen garden, as well as a collection of 120 favourite recipes from the program.  These recipes introduce a variety of cooking styles, flavours and ingredients, and are designed specifically for use by children.

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

An internationally-recognised Australian author channels an iconic Australian character.  The result is surprising and compulsively readable.  True History of the Kelly Gang purports to be Ned Kelly’s autobiography – from his childhood to his last siege at Glenrowan.  Inspired by Ned Kelly’s own writing – the remarkable Jerilderie Letter – Peter Carey has given Ned a vivid voice that is candid, defiant, sensitive and intelligent.  This version of the Ned Kelly story invites us to see his actions as the consequence of the poverty and bigotry faced by the (Irish Catholic) poor in colonial Australia.   Winner of the Booker Prize and Commonwealth Writers Prize, this new edition features a distinctive cover by Michael Leunig, making it a triple-treat of Australianness.

My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

My Brilliant Career – both the original novel and its 1979 film adaptation – are important to Australian cultural history.  Published in 1901, this story of a sassy, headstrong girl who relinquished romance and marriage for a writing career, was ground-breaking for its strong feminist message and its distinctive Australianess; its success became all the more sensational when “Miles Franklin” was revealed to be young and female.  The film version (1979) introduced the novel to a new generation – when its feminist message resonated strongly with the concerns of the day; it also alerted us to the emerging talents of director Gillian Armstrong, and actors Judy Davis and Sam Neill – all of whom have gone on to have truly Brilliant Careers.  Last but not least, Miles Franklin became a lifelong supporter and promoter of Australian literature – culminating in her endowment of the Miles Franklin award, now the most prestigious literary prize in Australia.

Am I Black Enough for You? by Anita Heiss

Anita Heiss is an author, academic, activist and social commentator who explores and explains contemporary Aboriginal life in Australia.  Am I Black Enough for You? is her very personal memoir; it is also the starting point for questioning what it means to be Aboriginal in modern Australia.  As a self-described “urban-based high achieving Aboriginal woman” with an Austrian father, Anita Heiss realises that she is not the sort of Aboriginal person that many would expect or want her to be.  So what constitutes “black enough”, and why should it matter?  Told in a feisty, wry voice, Am I Black Enough for You? is a Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

Dr Karl’s Short Back and Science by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Adam Spencer’s World of Numbers by Adam Spencer

Australia’s favourite science communicators are back with new books!  Dr Karl and Adam Spencer have been entertaining and educating us with amazing and provoking facts, across just about any media you can think of – live shows, TV, radio, books and Internet.  Not only are they very witty, but they know their stuff! (Dr Karl is a qualified doctor/ physicist/ biomedical engineer, while Adam is a trained mathematician.)  In Dr Karl’s Short Back and Science, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki shares his sense of wonder about cutting-edge science, ponders over conundrums such as “what do clouds weigh?” and investigates the hype around coconut oil and paleo diets – all wrapped up in his inimitable storytelling.

While Adam Spencer’s World of Numbers is jam-packed with cool number facts from every area of knowledge imaginable – not just maths and the sciences, but also from geography, history, games, poetry, even sport (and chocolate as well). Even the page numbers are used to illustrate fun facts!

Growing Up Asian in Australia, edited by Alice Pung
Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia, edited by Demet Divaroren and Amra Pajalic

Growing Up Asian in Australia and Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia deliver exactly as promised – personal stories about growing up as Asian-Australians and Muslim-Australians.  Growing Up Asian in Australia is edited by Alice Pung (herself an increasingly-prominent writer on Asian-Australian experiences), with contributions from people across generations and occupations.  Big names include John So (former Lord Mayor of Melbourne), Benjamin Law (author of The Family Law) and Kylie Kwong (chef).  As a fellow Asian-Australian, I found these stories tragicomic and joyously (but sometimes painfully) familiar.  Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia offers twelve stories that reflect on gender, body image, romance, faith and families; again the contributors span a range of ages and occupations, and include Randa Abdel-Fattah (YA author) and Tanveer Ahmed (psychiatrist).  Both these titles show that, regardless of your skin colour (or the contents of your lunchbox), we share many similar feelings growing up – including the desire to fit in, to be considered more than a stereotype, and to be loved and accepted for who we are.

Island Home by Tim Winton

Tim Winton is best known for his novels – titles such as Cloudstreet and Dirt Music appear regularly in “Best of” lists.  However, his latest book shows that his non-fiction is just as evocative and beguiling.  Island Home is a meditation on how the Australian landscape has shaped his ideas, his writing and his life. Tim Winton paints various landscapes – coast, sea, scrub – with loving words; his epiphany about the depth of his connection to the Australian environment came when he failed to connect similarly to landscapes abroad.  He further suggests that the Australian landscape shapes the psyche of her people, more so than they realise.  Island Home also offers fascinating insights into his writer’s craft.

Ten Books that sum up 2015

It’s been another big and eventful year in publishing, as the wide array of year-end “Best of” lists reminds us (Publishers Weekly magazine alone offers 15 different Top 10 lists!)  Here at Booko, we have enjoyed so many wonderful, varied, worthy, thought-provoking books that we can’t decide on ten “best” books.  Instead, we present to you 10 books that we feel represent the year that was 2015…

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman is probably the most highly anticipated book of 2015.  Billed as a recently-discovered companion to To Kill a Mockingbird – one of the best-loved and most respected novels in English – its mere existence seems astonishing and adds to its mystique.  As more details emerge ahead of publication, controversy grows – about the quality of the writing, the surprisingly racist attitudes within, and about whether it should have been published at all. Go Set a Watchman is now considered an earlier version of To Kill a Mockingbird rather than a sequel, offering fascinating glimpses of the development process for To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as Harper Lee’s emerging talent.

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Perhaps it’s the ongoing popularity of minimalist home decor; or perhaps it’s the promise of orderliness and calm in an increasingly messed-up world – whatever the reason, Marie Kondo’s guide to tidying-up and decluttering really hit a nerve with readers worldwide.  What makes her philosophy so alluring is the idea that we should only keep items that “spark joy” – and that sparking joy is a criterion applicable to other aspects of our lives.

 

 

 

The Official A Game of Thrones Colouring Book by George R. R. Martin

Adult colouring books are arguably THE publishing phenomenon of 2015.  Since Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden brought adult colouring into the mainstream, the genre has evolved and diversified. There are now, coming full-circle, mindful colouring for children, and even a colouring parody.  This Game of Thrones Colouring Book exemplifies new wave colouring-in that entices customers with pop cultural themes, including Harry Potter and Star Wars.

 

The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

2015 was a bittersweet year for Sir Terry Pratchett’s fans – he died, too soon, in March this year; but he also left one last treat – a manuscript, now published as The Shepherd’s Crown.  This 41st and final book in the Discworld series follows young Tiffany Aching (first appearing in The Wee Free Men) when she has to step-up and take on the big responsibility of defending her homeland.  The Shepherd’s Crown is a gentle novel, with underlying themes of kindness and tolerance, and has been highly praised as a “magnificent sign-off”.

 

 

 

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

Marlon James became the first Jamaican writer to win the Man Booker Prize, when A Brief History of Seven Killings was the unexpected but apparently unanimous choice amongst the Booker’s judges.  A visceral and ambitious work, A Brief History of Seven Killings is a fictional history about the attempted murder of Bob Marley in 1976, seen through the eyes of a large cast – gangsters, journalists, politicians, the CIA.  Marlon James’ win is a perfect example of the value of perseverance and self-belief, as he almost gave up writing after his first novel was rejected 78 times before eventual publication.

 

 

 

Gratitude by Oliver Sacks

Another beloved author that we lost this year was Oliver Sacks, the neurologist best known for his collections of case studies including Awakenings  and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.  Gratitude is a posthumous book that brings together four essays first published in the New York Times.  In these bittersweet but ultimately uplifting essays, Oliver Sacks reflects upon old age, gratitude, his enduring sense of wonder about the natural world, and his impending death.  A fitting commemoration of a life well lived.

 

 

The Short and Excruciatingly Embarrassing Reign of Captain Abbott by Andrew P Street

In September, Australia gained worldwide notoriety as the “Coup capital of the democratic world”.  With five prime ministers in as many years (three ousted by their own parties), it’s a case of “with colleagues like these, who needs enemies”.  Andrew P Street has documented the litany of gaffes, goofs and questionable captain’s calls that characterised the leadership of Australia’s most recent ex-prime minister, Tony Abbott.  It is funny, irreverent, and even a tad insightful about this turbulent time in Australian politics.

 

 

Deliciously Ella by Ella Woodward

Deliciously Ella is zeitgeist-y on many fronts – it originates from a highly popular blog, it focusses on clean eating (plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free, no refined sugars), and it has recipes featuring “superfoods” such as kale, coconut oil and quinoa.  What makes Ella Woodward’s book approachable is her enthusiastic, chatty tone, the simplicity of her recipes (she could barely cook when she started her blog three years ago), and how her philosophy arises from her experience in using dietary changes to manage a rare illness.  See for yourself why this book made history as the fastest-selling debut cookbook of all time in the UK.

 

 

After Tomorrow by Gillian Cross

After Tomorrow is from 2013, but I have included it to illustrate the difficulties faced by Syrian refugees.  In After Tomorrow, award-winning author Gillian Cross weaves alternate history with dystopic themes into a frighteningly-real scenario.  Five major banks crash on “Armageddon Monday”, destroying the British economy.  Society quickly disintegrates, with food shortages and breakdown of law and order.  As teenage Matt’s family falls apart, his mother smuggles him, his brother and stepfather into France, where they are interned as refugees.  The fiction form of After Tomorrow encourages us to empathise with the plight of refugees by seeing their challenges through our eyes.

 

 

Trans by Juliet Jacques

Transgender awareness has been a hot topic of mainstream media this year, particularly surrounding Caitlyn Jenner’s coming-out as a trans woman.  Trans is one of several recent memoirs documenting the transgender experience.  It traces Juliet Jacques’ journey from her teenage and university years, to her social, medical and surgical transitions to become female in later adulthood.  Trans also offers cultural critique as Juliet Jacques considers her experience within the context of how the media portrays transgender narratives.  An honest, thoughtful and insightful book.

Guest Book Reviewer: Palace of Tears

Palace of Tears is the debut novel from Julian Leatherdale. It is an historical, generational story, centred on a luxury hotel in the fictional town of Meadow Springs in the Blue Mountains and has all the elements of family passion, secrets and tragedy.

 Department store entrepreneur Adam Fox built the lavish palace based on luxury spa resorts in Europe. The story of the hotel intertwines with the story of the family who live in a cottage next door – much less well off than the wealthy Foxes but, over generations, sharing tragedies as well as love, hate and jealousy.

Initially I was daunted by the size of this book at over 500 pages, however Leatherdale achieves a good balance between educating and entertaining readers about events in Australia during the 1900’s and early 20th Century.

I love that Leatherdale mixes fictitious elements with real events and actual people. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, opera star Nellie Melba and Australian film makers and directors Raymond Longford and Lottie Lyall all visit Adam Fox’s luxurious resort.

The author’s historical research into some of the less familiar events of early 20th Century history made for very interesting reading and for me in particular, the internment of the Germans during the war years was fascinating due to my own family history. His references to events of that time and fictional activities surrounding it were amazing and his passion evident.

I think this book is well worth the read, and with summer coming and holidays, it would be one to put on the list.

I hope Julian Leatherdale writes more novels as I will be lining up to read them.

 

 

City Guide: Bali

Bali is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, friendly people and sense of adventure. Whether you’ve travelled to Bali, have it on your bucket list or are happy to explore it through books, here are our recommended Bali reads:

https-::covers.booko.info:300:GeckoGo to Sleep, Gecko!: A Balinese Folktale by Margaret Read MacDonald

The author of The Girl Who Wore Too Much retells the folktale of the gecko who complains to the village chief that the fireflies keep him awake at night but then learns that in nature all things are connected.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:BaliBalilicious – The Bali Diaries by Becky Wicks

She lifted the burqa on Dubai in Burqalicious. Now Becky Wicks turns her attention to Australia’s number one tourist destination: Bali. It seems to be the new in thing to find yourself these days even if you are not particularly lost.

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:roughguideThe Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok by Lesley Reader

With full – colour throughout, clear maps and stunning photography, The Rough Guide to Bali & Lombok will ensure you make the most of these alluring islands, with insider tips on everything from indulgent spa retreats and fantastic shops, to the best hotels, restaurants and bars to suit every budget.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:balihouseA House in Bali by Colin McPhee

In the 1930s a young American composer heard some gramophone records of music of the land that forever changed his life. As a result, Colin McPhee lived for the day when he could travel and study the beautiful island of Bali, its people, culture, and music. His classic text written in the 1940s still remains the only literary narrative of the island by a classically trained musician, and this unique perspective allowed him to immerse himself in the people, and music of his beloved Bali. And in the end, he only left the island in 1938 as the threat of the second World War loomed over the Pacific. McPhee’s work is a landmark look at Bali’s distinctive gamelan tradition, and is now available again more than 50 years after it was written.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:100yearmanThe Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

After a long and eventful life Allan Karlsson is moved to a nursing home to await the inevitable. But his health refuses to fail and as his 100th birthday looms, a huge party is planned. Allan wants no part of it and decides to climb out the window… Charming and funny; a European publishing phenomenon.

 

Tilda Swinton’s Holiday Reading List

Tilda Swinton’s holiday reading list is as eclectic as the film roles she chooses. Here are her recommended reads:

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Auntie Mame By Patrick Dennis

“Mame: Who did you ever dream of being adopted by?”

 

 

 

 

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A Time Of Gifts By Patrick Leigh Fermor

“For anybody who has ever fantasised about walking across Europe with a backpack. Written by a great writer and a proper hero amongst men.”

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:ClimateLove In A Cold Climate By Nancy Mitford

“Lady Montdore is one of the greatest creations in English literature; Uncle Matthew, another; Cedric, yet another. It’s the dottiness and passions of the English aristocracy pretty much nailed in one.”

 

 

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Light Years By James Salter

“An urbane American marriage seen from above — a kind of exquisite horror story of the deathly chic of people having all their bases covered and somehow missing the point all the same. Very, very beautiful. Very, very sad.”

 

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Great Expectations By Charles Dickens

“Faces you will never forget, and a lesson to treasure all your life: Be prepared to be surprised, [and] cherish life as it finds you. And love Joe Gargery with all your heart.”

 

 

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Owning Your Own Shadow By Robert A. Johnson
“A tiny, precious book on the balancing wisdom of the psyche. Hooray for that dark stuff!”

 

 

 

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The Child, The Family, And The Outside World By D.W. Winnicott

“The book to have by you when becoming a parent. And ever after.”

 

 

 

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The Best of Wodehouse By P.G. Wodehouse
“Sentences to eat with a spoon, and funny like nothing else on Earth.”

 

 

 

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:OHaraThe Collected Poems Of Frank O’Hara By Frank O’Hara

“Joy and life, and more life and more joy, and street corners, and Coca-Cola, and love.”

 

 

 

 

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Modern Nature By Derek Jarman

“Joy and life, and more life and more joy, and making a garden out of stones, and making films, and love.”

 

 

 

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The Many Days: Selected Poems Of Norman MacCaig By Norman MacCaig

“Scotland’s preeminent poet of both the mountain and the capital’s pavement. Doubleness is a Scottish art: Passion and Calvinism; the west and the east; the highlands and the lowlands. MacCaig embraces this split with true affection and verve.”

As found on Refinery29.com

5 Recommended reads: Chick Lit

Whether you’re planning a beach holiday or just want to find a relaxing escape at home, dive into these reads for some alone time. Here are some great Chick Lit options that have been released over the last year:

https-::covers.booko.info:300:grownHow to be a grown up by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

From bestselling authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus comes a timely novel about a forty-something wife and mother thrust back into the workforce, where she finds herself at the mercy of a boss half her age. Rory McGovern is entering the ostensible prime of her life when her husband, Blake, loses his dream job and announces he feels like “taking a break” from being a husband and father. Rory is then, without warning, single-parenting two kids and re-entering the workforce for the first time in years.

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwanhttps-::covers.booko.info:300:china

Kevin Kwan, bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians, is back with a wickedly funny new novel of social climbing, secret e-mails, art-world scandal, lovesick billionaires, and the outrageous story of what happens when Rachel Chu, engaged to marry Asia’s most eligible bachelor, discovers her birth father.

 

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My Very Best Friend by Cathy Lamb

From a childhood friendship sustained over years and distance, to a journey of discovery, Cathy Lamb’s poignant novel tells of two women whose paths converge with unforeseen results – and reveals the gift of connection, and the challenges that can change everything for the better…

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:ruinsBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

The story begins in 1962. On a rocky patch of the sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper, chest-deep in daydreams, looks out over the incandescent waters of the Ligurian Sea and spies an apparition: a tall, thin woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. She is an actress, he soon learns, an American starlet, and she is dying. And the story begins again today, half a world away, when an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio’s back lot—searching for the mysterious woman he once met…

https-::covers.booko.info:300:BernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

Holiday Reading Guide: Our road-tested reads

When you’re busy packing for holidays, don’t forget to pop a few good reads into your suitcase — ones that you won’t want to put down. The Booko team have road-tested these reads poolside and think they will be the perfect companion to your relaxing break:

The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein
Frances had read of a man who painted with only the colour yellow. He lived in the north of Norway. In the beautiful, barren landscape of the Far North, under the ever- present midnight sun, Frances and Yasha are surprised to find refuge in each other.

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The Novel Habits of Happiness (An Isabel Dalhousie novel) by Alexander McCall Smith

Isabel Dalhousie is one of Edinburgh’s most generous (but discreet) philanthropists – but should she be more charitable? She wonders, sometimes, if she is too judgmental about her niece’s amorous exploits, too sharp about her housekeeper’s spiritual beliefs, too ready to bristle in battle against her enemies.

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The Insider Threat by Brad Taylor
In the eighth action-packed thriller in the New York Times bestselling Pike Logan series, ISIS, the most maniacal terrorist organization the modern world has ever seen, is poised to make their most audacious strike yet. The United States has anticipated and averted countless attacks from terrorist groups–thanks in large part to the extralegal counterterrorist unit known as the Taskforce. But in The Insider Threat, a much more insidious evil is about to unfold…

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Go Set a Watchman by Nellie Harper Lee
Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.

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The Long Utopia (#4, The Long Earth) by Terry Pratchett
2045-2059. After the cataclysmic upheavals of Step Day and the Yellowstone eruption, humanity is spreading further into the Long Earth, and society, on a battered Datum Earth and beyond, continues to evolve. Now an elderly and cantankerous AI, Lobsang lives in disguise with Agnes in an exotic, far-distant world. He’s convinced they’re leading a normal life in New Springfield – they even adopt a child – but it seems they have been guided there for a reason.

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