Tag Archives: #recommended

The Best Crime Books of 2020…so far.

It turns out there are a lot of people who like to be scared out of their wits! And many who like to figure out intricate stories. Crime and mystery books are two of the best selling genres in the world. The. Whole. World. So we’ve have decided to wade through the amazing number of new titles on the market and share our favourites with you. 

Brace yourself, some of these psychological thrillers are really going to make their mark on your imagination. Consider yourself warned.

Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke

When the young son of an Aryan Brotherhood of Texas gang captain goes missing, Ranger Darren Matthews has no choice but to investigate the crime. Following the election of Donald Trump, a new wave of racial violence has swept the state. Dark, swampy and filled with skeletal trees, Caddo Lake is so large it crosses into Lousiana. This is deep country and the rule of law doesn’t mean much to the Brotherhood, beyond what it can do for them. A further complication is that Brotherhood is squatting on the land of a former Freedmen’s community, and one of the last descendants of these former slaves is actually a suspect in the possible murder of the missing boy. Instructed by his lieutenant to use the investigation to gather more evidence that might help to take down the Texas chapter of the Brotherhood, Darren is playing very dangerous game indeed.

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke

Keep your enemies close and your sister closer… 

For a while, it seemed like both Taylor sisters had found happiness. Chloe landed a publishing job in New York City; Nicky married Adam, and became a mother to their son, Ethan. But now, fourteen years later, it is Chloe who is married to Adam and raising Ethan. When Adam is murdered at the couple’s beach house, Chloe has no choice but to welcome her estranged sister back into her life and confront the truth behind family secrets they both tried to leave behind.

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

In 1991 Shawn, a young African-American teen, his sister Ava, and cousin Ray, set out across LA to a screening of New Jack City. But in the volatile atmosphere of that time, they never make it inside the cinema. Nearly three decades later, police brutality still afflicts the city, but Grace, a Korean-American twenty-something pharmacist living and working with her parents, has her own problems, as she tries to figure out why her older sister, Miriam, still refuses to speak with their mother. Across the county, Shawn is trying to ease Ray, fresh out of prison, back into everyday life, but both men are struggling, still haunted by the events of 1991 and their shared loss. When a shocking new crime strikes the city, the lives of Grace and Shawn – two people from different cultures and generations – collide in a way which could change them forever.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

When she stumbles across the advert, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss- a live-in nanny position, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious ‘smart’ home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family. What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder. She knows she’s made mistakes. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is. Full of spellbinding menace, The Turn of the Key is a gripping modern-day haunted house thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge

On a scorching July night in 1983, a group of teenagers goes camping in the forest. When they wake in the morning the youngest of their group, Aurora Jackson, has disappeared. An exhaustive investigation is launched, but no trace of the teenager is ever found. Thirty years later, Aurora’s body is unearthed in a hideaway that only the six friends knew about, and Jonah Sheens is put in charge of solving the long-cold case. Back in 1983, as a young cop in their small town, he had known the teenagers, including Aurora, personally, even before taking part in the search. Now he’s determined to finally get to the truth of what happened that night. Sheens’s investigation brings the members of the camping party back to the forest, where they will be confronted once again with the events that left one of them dead and all of them profoundly changed forever. This searing, psychologically captivating novel marks the arrival of a dazzling new talent, and the start of a new series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens.

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

The highly anticipated new novel from the international bestselling author of Sometimes I Lie, Alice Feeney’s new novel is her most twisted and nerve-wracking thriller yet. Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from. But I know exactly who you are. I know what you’ve done. And I am watching you. When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is – but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.I Know Who You Are will leave your heart pounding and your pulse racing. This is on of the most twisted thrillers you’ll read all year.

Enjoy!

Books to Help you Live Sustainably at Home

What does sustainability mean to you?  Most people are aware that sustainability is important, but may struggle to decide how to incorporate sustainable practices into their lives.  This week Team Booko has brought together lots of ideas on how to get started.  Many of these ideas only require small changes – such as ditching plastic straws, or walking instead of driving short distances.  Others are fun and creative, encouraging us to try making / cooking / upcycling.  These books also show that sustainability are interlinked with mindfulness and decluttering – meaning that it is not only good for our environment, but good for our health and our wallets too!

A Life Less Throwaway: the Lost Art of Buying for Life by Tara Button

Tara Button was a work-hard, spend-hard advertising executive when she realised that her shopping habits – meant to make her happy – was having the opposite effect.  So she started to fight back against the current culture of planned obsolescence – the idea that products should have a limited (ie short) lifespan – and instead, started a movement that celebrates products that are made to last.  A Life Less Throwaway explains the concept of “mindful curation”, with plenty of tips and strategies to help us only buy things that fit the purpose, that we love and that can last a lifetime.

Simple Acts to Save our Planet: 500 Ways to Make a Difference by Michelle Neff

If you want to live in a more sustainable and environmentally responsible way, but don’t know where to start, then this book is for you.  Michelle Neff has created a bumper book of “Simple Acts of Kindess” for our planet. Many of the ideas look at how to reduce waste, bolster animal and insect populations and lower energy consumption.  These Simple Acts show us that even the tiniest change to our lifestyle – such as BYO coffee cups and shopping bags, and buying items with minimal packaging – can have a lasting positive impact on the environment. What’s more, many of these ideas – such as eating less processed food, and using meat and veg scraps to make stock – can also benefit our own health.

Upcycle: Turn Everyday Objects into Home Decor by Sonia Lucano

Upcycle is a fun, contemporary project book that shows you how to turn some everyday items into home furnishings.   Sonia Lucarno has chosen starting materials that are available cheaply or for free, such as old dishes, glass jars, bedsheets and wooden pallets.  Learn how to turn cotton sheets into a tote bag, wooden pallet into a coffee table, or glass jars into terrariums.  There are detailed instructions including lists of materials.  Start salvaging these bits and pieces from the waste stream and turn them into chic, functional pieces for your home.

Perfect Imperfect: the Beauty of Accident, Age & Patina by Karen McCartney, Sharyn Cairns and Glen Proebstel

Perfect Imperfect is a sumptuous coffee table book with a subtle environmental message – by celebrating the beauty of age and imperfection (some may call it “character”), it encourages us to purchase thoughtfully rather than frequently, to value curation rather than consumption.  Perfect Imperfect puts a modern spin on the age-old Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, bringing together contemporary design with well-worn objects.  The stunning interiors feature a mix of comfort, design and thoughtful beauty, and are selected from homes, hotels, shops and studios around the world.

Low Tox Life: a Handbook for a Healthy You and a Happy Planet by Alexx Stuart

Alexx Stuart has distilled the learnings from her own quest for a Low Tox Life into a guide to help you live with better health and less stress.  Alexx Stuart was fighting chronic inflammation when she realised that our hyper-industrialised society was contributing to her ill-health.  She started to pay closer attention to product labels, and reducing the use of synthetic fragrances, disposable plastics and processed foods, and has seen a dramatic improvement in her physical and mental health.  Organised into four intuitive sections of Body, Home Food and Mind, Low Tox Life is a guide that encourages us to make more informed choices about the food we eat, and the things we surround ourselves with – and highlights that better choices can benefit both ourselves and our environment.

100 Things to Recycle and Make by Fiona Hayes

It’s never too young to help children understand the importance of sustainability, and what better way to do it than through a fun activity such as crafting.  Fiona Hayes, author of the popular Crafty Makes series, has chosen 100 of her favourite projects for crafting with recycled materials.  Ideas range from the decorative to the practical, including toys, stationery, decorations and storage.  The projects are helpfully arranged by the main starting material, eg cardboard tubes, egg cartons, paper plates and materials from nature, and include step-by-step instructions.  100 Things to Recycle and Make is a great sourcebook for anyone who spends time with children!

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!

The best books from famous book clubs around the world

Book clubs have come a long way with the digital age; no longer do you have to head to a cafe on a Winter’s night to chat through a book that you may have only *just* finished (or let’s be honest, sometimes only read the first, middle and last chapter of…we won’t judge, some books are just too hard to get through in 4 weeks!). The increasingly popularity of book clubs on the internet allow us to stay at home in our slippers curled up on a comfy chair and given the huge number of participants we may no longer be the only person who hasn’t finished the book. 

All joking aside, we do love a good book recommendation and we know you do, too, so the Booko team has scoured the internet and found the best picks from some of the world’s most famous book clubs (with books that we know you’ll actually want to read). 

Let’s start with the biggest book club of them all…Oprah’s. Anything recommended by this lady is sure to be a bestseller!

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.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream. This is the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty, and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future. However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ facades. When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice. 

Emma Watson started a book club in 2015 with a firm focus on feminism. The books the club, known as The Shared Shelf, reviews and discusses books every two months. Here are their latest titles. 

Solito, Solita by Steven Mayers

They are a mass migration of thousands, yet each one travels alone. Solito, Solita (Alone, Alone) is an urgent collection of oral histories that tells the story of young refugees fleeing countries in Central America and traveling for hundreds of miles to seek safety and protection in the United States.

Fifteen narrators describe why they fled their homes, what happened on their dangerous journeys through Mexico, how they crossed the borders, and for some, their ongoing struggles to survive in the United States. In an era of fear, xenophobia, and outright lies, these stories amplify the compelling voices of migrant youth. What can they teach us about abuse and abandonment, bravery and resilience, hypocrisy and hope? They bring us into their hearts and onto streets filled with the lure of freedom and fraught with violence. From fending off kidnappers with knives and being locked in freezing holding cells to tearful reunions with parents, Solito, Solita’s narrators bring to light the experiences of young people struggling for a better life across the border.

This collection includes the story of Adrián, from Guatemala City, whose mother was shot to death before his eyes. He refused to join a gang, rode across Mexico atop cargo trains, crossed the US border as a minor, and was handcuffed and thrown into ICE detention on his eighteenth birthday. We hear the story of Rosa, a Salvadoran mother fighting to save her life as well as her daughter’s after death squads threatened her family. Together they trekked through the jungles on the border between Guatemala and Mexico, where masked men assaulted them. We also meet Gabriel, who after surviving sexual abuse starting at the age of eight fled to the United States, and through study, legal support and work, is now attending UC Berkeley.

Butterfly by Yusra Mardini

Yusra Mardini fled her native Syria to the Turkish coast in 2015 and boarded a small dinghy full of refugees bound for Greece. When the small and overcrowded boat’s engine cut out, it began to sink. Yusra, her sister and two others took to the water, pushing the boat for three and a half hours in open water until they eventually landed on Lesbos, saving the lives of the passengers aboard. Butterfly is the story of that remarkable woman, whose journey started in a war-torn suburb of Damascus and took her through Europe to Berlin and from there to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Yusra Mardini is an athlete, one of People magazine’s twenty-five women changing the world, a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and one of Time Magazine’s thirty most influential teens of 2016.

Our favourite Southern gal Reece Witherspoon also has a hugely popular book club called Hello Sunshine. We love following along with what Reece is reading and just know you’ll enjoy her latest picks.

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita have worked at Truviv, Inc. for years. The sudden death of Truviv’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Each of the women has a different relationship with Ames, who has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. Those whispers have been ignored, swept under the rug, hidden away by those in charge. But the world has changed, and the women are watching this promotion differently. This time, when they find out Ames is making an inappropriate move on a colleague, they aren’t willing to let it go. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough. Sloane and her colleagues’ decision to take a stand sets in motion a catastrophic shift in the office. Lies will be uncovered. Secrets will be exposed. And not everyone will survive. Explosive, timely, resonant and relatable. If you love Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies or Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, you will love Whisper Network.

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

Legal battles, lapses of logic and the joys and fears of motherhood are explored in this astute, funny and moving novel of a woman learning how to let go. People aren’t sure what to make of Susan Green. Family and colleagues find her prickly and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that’s all she needs. At 45, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward, a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits. Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control. When she discovers that her mother’s will inexplicably favours her brother, Susan sets out to prove that Edward and his equally feckless friend Rob somehow coerced this dubious outcome. But when problems closer to home become increasingly hard to ignore, she finds help in the most unlikely of places. This sparkling debut is a breath of fresh air with real heart and a powerful emotional punch. In Susan we find a character as exasperating and delightful as The Rosie Project’s Don Tillman.

Enjoy!