Tag Archives: #Topbooks

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!

Opening our eyes and hearts to refugees

Do you know that Refugee Week has been observed in Australia for over 30 years?

Refugee Week is celebrated annually in mid June, incorporating World Refugee Day on June 20.  This is a time when Australians can acknowledge the contributions that refugees and asylum seekers have made to our country, and also for us to learn about the challenges many refugees face as they re-establish themselves and their communities in a new land.

The theme for this year’s Refugee Week is “A World of Stories” – reminding us that each refugee seeking safety has their own story of why they left home, and what they had to do to find safety. Readers who want to learn, and understand, the current conflicts and refugee situations will find these stories powerful and enlightening:

First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrant and Refugees Who Make America Great by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace

In the tradition of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes this collection of mini biographies celebrating the achievements of some very special first-generation immigrants and former refugees.  From musician Yo-yo Ma to scientist Albert Einstein, from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to tennis champion Martina Navratilova, this collection of high achievers span different ethnicities, religions, and professions.  And despite the America-centric title, many of their contributions have impacted / benefitted the entire world.  First Generation also offers a powerful reminder on how a safe environment, personal freedoms and educational opportunities help people realise their potential.

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

In Viet Thanh Nguyen’s mind, the experience of becoming a refugee – unwanted where they come from, unwanted where they go to – brands you forever.  He explores this idea in the eight short stories that comprise The Refugees.  These are not stories about escaping war, nor even about adapting to new cultures; they are simply stories of love, loss, memory and family – melancholy stories seen through the prism of the refugee experience.  Viet Thanh Nguyen is a respected academic who has become a literary star since winning the Pulitzer Prize (and several other awards) with his first novel, The Sympathizer.  The Refugees is his first collection of short stories. 

Stepping Stones: a Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs and Nizar Ali Badr

Canadian writer Margriet Ruurs was inspired by the art of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr to create this book – they didn’t know each other and had never met, but managed to collaborate despite the distance between their two countries, and the political turmoil in Syria.  Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who live a happy, peaceful life in Syria until war comes.  As bombs fall ever closer to their village, Rama’s family flees with only a few belongings, travelling overland and across the seas until they find a safe, new home. Nizar Ali Badr’s distinctive illustrations are made by arranging multicoloured stones – into characters and scenes with surprising levels of emotion and humour.  Stepping Stones is an excellent way to introduce the topic of war and refugees to young readers.

Homes by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung

Abu Bakr al Rabeeah was a young teen when he confided his dream to his English teacher: he wanted to tell his story of growing up in Iraq and Syria, and of his family’s journey to safety in Canada.  He noticed that his fellow Canadians knew little about the situation in the Middle East, and wanted to challenge those who wanted to define his family only by their experience as refugees.  Eight months later, Abu achieved his dream with the help of his teacher, Winnie Yeung.  Homes is a gripping first-person account of growing up in a war zone.  The horrors of war are interwoven with ordinary childhood pursuits in a way that shocks the reader – flying kites with cousins among bombed-out buildings; playing with shell casings in the street – yet Abu’s childhood is not without love, or fun.  

I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See by Giles Duley

Giles Duley is a photojournalist who is best known for documenting the long-term impact of war.  Despite losing both legs and an arm during an explosion whilst on assignment, he has continued his work as a photographer, reporting the stories of refugees not to evoke pity, but to encourage empathy and to inspire change.  I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See is a record of the refugee crisis in Europe during 2015/6.  Giles Duley travelled through Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, through the Balkans and to Greece and Germany, to retrace the journeys of people forced to flee their homes in the Middle East to seek safety in Europe.  Profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).

We are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai

In We Are Displaced, Malala Yousafzai uses her considerable public profile to highlight the issue of displacement – people forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution or natural disaster.  This is a much more widespread problem than most people realise – happening all around the world, affecting more than 68 million people, mostly women and girls. Starting with Malala’s own experience of internal displacement within Pakistan while escaping from Taliban rule, we are introduced to eight other girls, from countries as diverse as Yemen, Syria, Guatemala and the Congo, and their stories of displacement and disruption (and often discrimination as well).  These accounts are powerfully personal, confronting, and ultimately hopeful, as these resilient girls rebuild their lives in new communities.

The best self help books that can help you decide what’s important

Self help books are one of the most popular genres in the world. There are thousands and thousands of titles to choose from and it can get a little over whelming. Some titles focus on discovering who you are, uncovering your strengths, and passions. Others take a different approach and teach us to take on qualities we aspire to. Sometimes a book comes along and really speaks to us, challenging our mindset and making us think about what’s really important. These are our favourite ones.

We’ve had a hunt around the internet and have found some of the best that we think will help you decide what’s really important to you. 

What do you really, really want? by Kevin Stebbings

What matters most to you? What keeps you from living a life of joy and purpose? In this unique narrative of life changing conversations, Kevin Stebbings offers an authentic framework for overcoming the distractions of life to rediscover what you really, really want.

He draws on the proven ideas and practices from the world of coaching to create a highly original and insightful book that will teach you how to discover your purpose, pursue your dreams, and achieve your goals.

You are invited into the story of two individuals who seek the help of a coach to find answers to life’s challenges. Their stories illuminate a path that you can follow to answer these questions: How do I overcome my tendency to procrastinate? What does it take to learn to say ‘no’ graciously and with confidence? How can I move beyond my fear of failure and start pursuing my dreams? What can I do to be more focused and less distracted? Stebbings uses coaching conversations to show us how to put our insights into practice so that we can live with passion and hope. What Do You Really, Really Want? is a compelling story with a powerful, yet simple message to empower you to live a life that is aligned with what matters most.

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Technically this book was written to help businesses and brands but in reality the messages in this book are applicable to more than that. After watching Sinek’s Ted Talk (you can view it here) we believe that asking and finding your ‘why’ can really help you hone in on what is important. 

There’s a naturally occurring pattern shared by the people and organisations that achieve the greatest long-term success. From Martin Luther King Jr. to Steve Jobs, from the pioneers of aviation to the founders of Southwest Airlines, the most inspiring leaders think, act, and communicate the exact same way-and it’s the complete opposite of everyone else. The common thread, according to Simon Sinek, is that they all start with why. This simple question has the power to inspire others to achieve extraordinary things. Any organisation can explain what it does; some can explain how; but very few can clearly articulate why. Why do we offer these particular products or services? Why do our customers choose us? Why do our employees stay (or leave)? Once you have those answers, teams get stronger, the mission clicks into place, and the path ahead becomes much clearer. Starting with why is the key to everything from putting a man on the moon to launching the iPod. Drawing on a wide range of fascinating examples, Sinek shows readers how to apply why to their culture, hiring decisions, product development, sales, marketing, and many other challenges. Some naturally think this way, but Sinek proves that anyone can learn how. 

Simon’s also written another book, Find Your Why, which you can find here

You are a badass by Jen Sinecero

You Are A Badass is the self-help book for people who desperately want to improve their lives but don’t want to get busted doing it. In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviours that stop you from getting what you want, creating a life you totally love, and make some damn money already (the kind you’ve never made before). By the end of the book, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass. It’s a great read.

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Every time we are introduced to someone new, try to be creative, or start a difficult conversation, we take a risk. We feel uncertain and exposed. We feel vulnerable. Most of us try to fight those feelings – we strive to appear perfect. In a powerful new vision Dr. Brené Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability, and dispels the widely accepted myth that it’s a weakness. She argues that, in truth, vulnerability is strength and when we shut ourselves off from vulnerability – from revealing our true selves – we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Daring Greatly is the culmination of 12 years of groundbreaking social research, across every area of our lives including home, relationships, work, and parenting. It is an invitation to be courageous; to show up and let ourselves be seen, even when there are no guarantees. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.

Brené Brown has one of the most watched Ted Talks (you can view it here) and her Netflix special was launched earlier this year (you can view the trailer here)

I thought It Was Just Me by Brené Brown

While we are diving into the inspiring world that Brené Brown opens us up to, we have another one of her books for you to read. 

The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting. We spend too much precious time and energy managing perception and creating carefully edited versions of ourselves to show to the world. As hard as we try, we can’t seem to turn off the tapes that fill our heads with messages like, ‘Never good enough!’ and ‘What will people think?’ Why? What fuels this unattainable need to look like we always have it all together? At first glance we might think it’s because we admire perfection, but that’s not the case. We are actually the most attracted to people we consider to be authentic and down-to-earth. We love people who are ‘real’ – we’re drawn to those who both embrace their imperfections and radiate self-acceptance. There is a constant barrage of social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. Everywhere we turn, there are messages that tell us who, what and how we’re supposed to be. So, we learn to hide our struggles and protect ourselves from shame, judgment, criticism and blame by seeking safety in pretending and perfection. Based on seven years of ground-breaking research and hundreds of interviews, I Thought It Was Just Me shines a long-overdue light on an important truth: Our imperfections are what connect us to each other and to our humanity. Our vulnerabilities are not weaknesses; they are powerful reminders to keep our hearts and minds open to the reality that we’re all in this together.

Girl, Stop Apologising by Rachel Hollis

I believe we can change the world. But first, we’ve got to stop living in fear of being judged for who we are.”

Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of not being enough. In Girl, Stop Apologising, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people-whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee-instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviours to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself. Rachel’s written another inspiring book that we love, it’s called Girl, Wash Your Face and you can find it here.

Enjoy!

The most gift worthy coffee table books this Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is just around the corner so it’s time to find a little something special for the mums in our lives. One thing that is always a delight to receive, but something they never seem to buy themselves, is a fabulous coffee table book. We have rounded up some of the most glorious ones recently released on interiors, fashion, space and history so that you are bound to find one to treat your mum.

Imaginarium by Sibella Court

This is a sumptuous picture book of style and design inspiration from award-winning Australian stylist Sibella Court. Imaginarium is a glorious coffee table book of images that reflect the things that inspire and motivate this interior stylist, historian and globetrotter. Immersing you in a world of travel, nature, interiors, art, oddities and curiosities, Imaginarium will open your eyes to the world around you and fuel your imagination for your own creativity, design and adventures. Themed by colour and featuring more than 300 beautifully shot and curated photographs, Imaginarium is the ultimate picture book for lovers of design and interior styling, and anyone looking for fresh ideas or inspiring daydreams.

A Tree In The House by Annabelle Hickson

A Tree in the House is part guide for the aspiring home florist, and part celebration of rural life in sync with nature. Annabelle Hickson provides stunning ideas and instructions for flower installations and arrangements, covering beautiful, seasonal bouquets, flowers for friends, table and overhead arrangements and flower arrangements for special occasions. A Tree in The House celebrates the joy and simple, natural beauty flowers bring to the home, every day, with a focus on foraged and locally and seasonally grown plants. Interspersed throughout are gorgeous snapshots of Annabelle’s picturesque rural life. A Tree in the House is a stunning ode, in words and pictures, to flower arranging, and is as much an aspirational window into rural life as an inspirational guide to creating beautiful, simple arrangements.

Anti Glossy by Patrick Remy

Capturing contemporary trends and forecasting the look of the future, this dazzling anthology collects the work of the most cutting-edge photographers working today. This volume is an essential compilation of the most important photographic trends of the age of social media and digital publication.

The interaction between photography and fashion has always been compelling – how can artists balance commercial viability against their own creative vision? Anti-Glossy collects some of the most innovative photographers working in the field of fashion, exploring the way new media is influencing the direction of photography for print.

As the notion of the “fashion photographer” becomes less distinct, the industry is benefitting from the talents of artists whose influence leads the genre into a multitude of surprising, often shocking, directions. In this collection of new fashion photography, full-page colour and black-and-white photographs represent an incredible range of styles and techniques.

From the evolving vision of masters of the form such as Juergen Teller and Glen Luchford, to the ironic work of Sebastian Kim, to the challenges posed by young female voices like Annemarieke Van Drimmelen, Charlotte Wales, Sarah Piantadosi, Joanna Piotrowska, and Karen Knorr. The photographers featured in this exciting collection represent a cutting-edge trend in all its diversity. Paris-based author and editor Patrick Remy has selected over twenty photographers from emerging talents that hold the prospect of creating enduring fashion images and influencing the cultural and style trends of tomorrow to established figures exploring new directions.

Off The Grid by Dominic Bradbury

Recent advances in technologies and home-generated renewable energy have made building away from urban and rural infrastructures more practical and affordable than ever. This survey of the world’s most innovative off-grid homes reveals the cutting edge architecture and technology that is enabling us to escape to some of the most extraordinary natural environments on the planet. All of the houses featured in this book are fully, or almost fully, self-sufficient in terms of energy, water and, in some cases, food. Architecture and interior design expert Dominic Bradbury reveals how each architect has made everyday living in these wild and natural settings a rewarding and tempting reality. From snowbound cabins in the far Northern Hemisphere to coastal retreats that can only be accessed by boat, the diverse projects collected here show the innovative ways in which architects and their clients are tackling extreme climates, remoteness and construction challenges to enable a new way of life that is both liberating and sustainable. The imperative to reduce our carbon footprints and refocus on renewable sources of energy is having a profound impact on our domestic lives. This fascinating survey demonstrates that creative architecture, design and technology are redefining the possibilities for leading a truly rewarding and responsible lifestyle.

Space Utopia by Vincent Fournier

This unique collection of photographs features over ten years of collaborations with the most important space and research centres in the world, resulting in a one-of-a-kind story of the human race to the stars.

Vincent Fournier’s visionary photographs provide an imaginative look at space exploration by merging fantasy with reality in images of rockets, other worldly landscapes, research facilities, and cosmonauts. To produce these extraordinary images, Fournier has collaborated with the world’s major space centres and astronomical observatories, including NASA, the European Space Agency, the Russian space agency, and the European Southern Observatory. Readers are given access to confidential locations and projects such as the NASA SLS rocket. Fournier’s artistic vision creates a unique look at the history of space exploration, from the early Sputnik and Apollo programs to the future Mission on Mars.

The images invite us to focus on our perceptions of space and time. Fournier questions our past and future utopias–what are our expectations for the future and has the future already happened? The evocative images document and archive while also exploring humankind’s myths and fantasies about the future. 

As It Was by Heather Cremonesi

The iconic black-and-white photographs of Hamburg-born photographer Frank Habicht (born 1938) reflects the spirit of the Swinging Sixties in London. In the 1960s, the conservative postwar years in England gave way to a period of upheaval, with a younger generation dreaming of an unconstrained life, one full of free love, peace and harmony. On the streets of the British capital, Habicht began photographing the profound social and political changes that were underway. 

Habicht, who has lived in New Zealand since 1981, has produced photographs for many international magazines and newspapers, such as the Guardian, Die Welt, Camera Magazine and Twen. His photographs were recently exhibited at the Barbican in London, and he has made portraits of music and film greats such as Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, Jane Birkin, Christopher Lee and Vanessa Redgrave.

Enjoy!

The Best Books on Love and Friendship

It’s Valentine’s Day! Ahhhh the day of love. 

We love celebrating this day (honestly that was an unintended pun) because we like to acknowledge our appreciation of our wonderful circle friends along with our family. It’s with this in mind that we have rounded up some of the best books published last year that show you that you can have feel love from friends, pets, family…and a character from inside a book. 

We did spot a gap in the market. As hard as we tried, we couldn’t find many books about male friendship. Let us know if you in the comments below if you know of any great ones.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton 

I both laughed out loud, cried and cringed with my own memories when reading this book. When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown up, journalist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you’ve ever been able to rely on, and finding that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. Glittering, with wit and insight, heart and humour, this is a book about the struggles of early adulthood in all its grubby, hopeful uncertainty. It’s recently been re-released with an additional chapter capturing Dolly’s thoughts on turning 30. Winner of Autobiography of the Year at the National Book Awards 2018, Everything I know About Love has also been shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year 2018. 

The F Word by Lily Pebbles

We featured blogger Lily Pebbles’ book last year when her beautiful pink hard cover edition came out. One year on, she’s released the paperback version – fantastically so as it’s much easier to throw into your handbag when travelling to work. If there’s one piece of invaluable advice for women and girls of all ages, it is that there is nothing more important than creating and maintaining strong, positive and happy friendships with other women. In a culture that largely pits women against each other, Lily wanted to celebrate female friendships… all strings attached! If her 1998 diary is anything to go by, female friendships are incredibly complex and emotional but they’re the mini love stories that make us who we are. For many women, friends are our partners in crime through life; they are the ones who move us into new homes, out of bad relationships, through births and illnesses. In THE F WORD Lily Pebbles sets out to explore and celebrate the essence of female friendship at different life stages and in its many wild and wonderful forms.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018, this New York Bestseller is a fearless and heartbreaking novel about love, friendship and incarceration. Romy Hall is starting two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility. Her crime? The killing of her stalker. Inside awaits a world where women must hustle and fight for the bare essentials. Outside- the San Francisco of her youth. The Mars Room strip club where she was once a dancer. Her seven-year-old son, Jackson. As Romy forms friendships over liquor brewed in socks and stories shared through sewage pipes her future seems to unfurl in one long, unwavering line – until news from beyond the prison bars forces Romy to try and outrun her destiny.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

This is a moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog. When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatised by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building. While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unravelling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them. Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.

The Friendship Cure by Kate Leaver

Friendship is like water. We need it to survive, we crave it when it’s scarce, it runs through our veins and yet we forget its value simply because it’s always available. The basic compulsion to make friends is in our DNA; we’ve evolved, chimp-like, to seek out connection with other human beings. We move through life in packs and friendship circles and yet we are stuck in the greatest loneliness epidemic of our time. It’s killing us, making us miserable and causing a public health crisis. But what if friendship is the solution, not the distraction? Journalist Kate Leaver believes that friendship is the essential cure for the modern malaise of solitude, ignorance, ill health and angst. If we only treated camaraderie as a social priority, it could affect everything from our physical health and emotional well-being to our capacity to find a home, keep a job, get married, stay married, succeed, feed and understand ourselves. In this witty, smart book – an appealing blend of science, pop culture and memoir – she meets scientists, speaks to old friends, finds extraordinary stories and uncovers research to look at what friendship is, how it feels, where it can survive, why we need it and what we can do to get the most from it – and how we might change the world if we value it properly. 


Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer

After joyful nights out together, female friends say this to one another as a way of cementing their love. It’s about safety but, more than that, it’s about solidarity. From Broad City to Big Little Lies to what women say about their own best friends, the stories we’re telling about female friendship have changed. What used to be written off as infighting between mean girls, or disposable relationships that would be tossed as soon as a guy came along, are no longer that. Now, we’re lifting up our female friendships to the same level as our other important relationships, saying they matter just as much as the bonds we have with our romantic partners, children, parents, or siblings. Journalist Kayleen Schaefer tells her own story of realising what other women could mean to her as she moved through a journey of modern female friendship – from being a competitive teenager to trying to be one of the guys in the workplace to ultimately awakening to the power of female friendship and the soulmates, girl squads, and chosen families that come with it. Schaefer has put together a completely new sociological perspective on the way we see our friends now, one that’s drawn not only from her own story but from interviews with dozens of other women across the country – historians, creators of the most iconic films and television shows about female friendship, celebrities, authors, and other experts. A validation of female friendship unlike any that’s ever existed before, Text Me When You Get Home is a mix of historical research, the author’s own personal experience, and conversations about friendships with women across the country. Everything Schaefer uncovers reveals that these ties are making us, both as individuals and as society as a whole, stronger than ever before.

Enjoy!

The Best Picks for Secret Santa Gifts 2018

Secret Santa gifts can be tricky…not only do you need to show that you are being thoughtful, but it also needs to remain affordable.

We’ve had a look around the internet and come up with a list of fab books that are sure to delight any name you happen to draw out of the hat. 

For your work bestie

Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

As a journalist, Leigh Sales often encounters people experiencing the worst moments of their lives in the full glare of the media. But one particular string of bad news stories – and a terrifying brush with her own mortality – sent her looking for answers about how vulnerable each of us is to a life-changing event. What are our chances of actually experiencing one? What do we fear most and why? And when the worst does happen, what comes next? In this wise and layered book, Leigh talks intimately with people who’ve faced the unimaginable, from terrorism to natural disaster to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Expecting broken lives, she instead finds strength, hope, even humour. Leigh brilliantly condenses the cutting-edge research on the way the human brain processes fear and grief, and poses the questions we too often ignore out of awkwardness. Along the way, she offers an unguarded account of her own challenges and what she’s learned about coping with life’s unexpected blows. Warm, candid and empathetic, this book is about what happens when ordinary people, on ordinary days, are forced to suddenly find the resilience most of us don’t know we have.

Prosecco Drinking Games by Abbie Cammidge

First up, we really recommend you drink responsibly…but you can still do that while reading this! Get the party started with this awesome collection of Prosecco-themed games to play with friends. What could be better than getting the gang together, grabbing a glass and cracking open a bottle of bubbles? Why, throwing a few Prosecco-based drinking games into the mix, of course! There are over 25 games that use everyone’s favourite sparkly tipple – ranging from hilarious Beyonce Bingo to the organised chaos that is the Prosecco Olympics. So what are you waiting for? Choose your game, pop a cork and prepare to laugh. A lot!

 

 

 

For the newbie

Your Dream Life Starts Here by Kristina Karlsson

This book is filled with powerful ideas and simple proven tools that will help you transform your wishes into dreams, and then into an achievable one-page roadmap for creating your dream life; a life designed by you for you, and for your loved ones. Kristina Karlsson, the woman behind the inspiring global success story, kikki.K, shares personal insights from her amazing journey, from humble beginnings on a small farm in Sweden to the 3am light bulb moment that led her to chase and achieve dreams that are now inspiring a worldwide community of dreamers. Filled with simple and practical magic and inspiring stories and wisdom from people who’ve dared to dream big, this book will show you how to harness the power of dreaming to transform your life in small, simple steps. Featuring stories of: Dr Tererai Trent (Oprah Winfrey’s all-time favourite guest), Arianna Huffington, Stella McCartney, Sir Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Li Cunxin (author of Mao’s Last Dancer), Alisa Camplin-Warner (winner of a remarkable Olympic gold medal), Michelle Obama, and others. Whether you want to get the most out of your personal life, career or business, the insights on dreaming and doing in this book may be your most important learnings this year.

 

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A F**k by Sarah Knight

A brilliant, hilarious homage to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, showing how to shed your mental clutter for good. Aimed at overachieving but dissatisfied people everywhere. Sarah’s inspirational two-step “NotSorry” program shows how unleashing the power of not giving a fuck will help you shed unwanted guilt and obligations to redirect time, energy, and enthusiasm to your true priorities. Sarah reveals why giving a fuck about what other people think is your worst enemy-and how to stop doing it; how to sort your fucks into four essential categories; simple criteria for whether or not you should give a fuck (i.e. “Does this affect anyone other than me?”); and the two keys to successfully not giving a fuck without also being an asshole.So, get rid of the mental clutter, ditch the perfectionism and create the life you want – for good.

 

For the boss

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

In 1962, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed $50 from his father and created a company with a simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost athletic shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the boot of his Plymouth, Knight grossed $8000 in his first year. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In an age of start-ups, Nike is the ne plus ultra of all start-ups, and the swoosh has become a revolutionary, globe-spanning icon, one of the most ubiquitous and recognisable symbols in the world today. But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always remained a mystery. Now, for the first time, he tells his story. Candid, humble, wry and gutsy, he begins with his crossroads moment when at 24 he decided to start his own business. He details the many risks and daunting setbacks that stood between him and his dream – along with his early triumphs. Above all, he recalls how his first band of partners and employees soon became a tight-knit band of brothers. Together, harnessing the transcendent power of a shared mission, and a deep belief in the spirit of sport, they built a brand that changed everything. A memoir rich with insight, humour and hard-won wisdom, this book is also studded with lessons – about building something from scratch, overcoming adversity, and ultimately leaving your mark on the world.

 

Taskmaster by Alex Horne

Taskmaster- 200 Extraordinary Tasks for Ordinary People is the first book based on Dave’s flagship game show with a difference. In the show Greg Davies, as the Taskmaster, sets a series of ridiculous tasks to a group of comedians with Alex Horne assisting as his right-hand man, coaxing the hopeful champions to think creatively while completing various challenges – from trying to paint the best picture of a horse (while riding an actual horse), to destroying a cake in the most beautiful way. Taskmaster- 200 Extraordinary Tasks for Ordinary People is the closest thing to being a contestant on the show (without being a contestant on the show). It is a painstakingly plotted, carefully crafted collection of preposterous tasks, a personal introduction to the Taskmaster world and a fully-interactive guide to indulging your competitive streak with friends and family from the comfort of your own living room. From making the most artistic tea-stain on the page to creating a self-portrait while blindfolded, this book requires you to think – and draw – outside of the box. Rivalry is encouraged, dodgy tactics rewarded and bribes accepted. In short, the reader gets the total Taskmaster experience in the form of a book. Part board-game, part choose-your-own-adventure, part self-help guide, it is to books what Taskmaster is to TV; uniquely original and deviously addictive. Expect cheating. Expect arguments. Expect both cheating AND arguments.

 

 

For the person you’ve only ever seen in the lift

 

The Honey Badger Guide to Life by Nick Cummins

Are you jaded by modern life? Do you dream of ‘going rogue, running hard, standing tall, fearing nothing, getting off the grid and attacking life?’ Then meet The Badger . . . The Honey Badger Guide to Life is a maverick guide to a better life for anyone who wants to live at maximum revs and get smarter, stronger and happier in the process. With his hilarious stories, Aussie eccentricity, dedication to family and incredible lust for life, Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins has inspired Australians of all ages. The Honey Badger Guide to Life teaches novice Badgers how to survive and thrive in the urban jungle with tips on health and hygiene, sex and romance, culture and cooking, money and career, life and death, manners and morals, friends and family. Buckle up and listen in as The Badger schools you in how to; Give a speech, Win an argument, Administer a ‘man hug’, Tell a joke, Break-up with a bird, Survive in the wild, Stare down a bull and much more! Jam-packed with crazy yarns, dinkum Badger-isms and practical wisdom acquired on his adventures around Australia and the world, this hilarious, warm (and weird) book will enlighten, entertain, baffle and inspire you to embrace life . . . just like The Honey Badger.

 

Suburbia: The Familiar and Forgotten by Warren Kirk

“The sentiment that flows through these images is a balm to the knowledge that time is passing and things will change,” – William McInnes.    Warren Kirk’s photos will strike a chord with anyone who’s grown up in the Australian suburbs in the past 50 years. Somehow both achingly familiar and unimaginably strange, these luminous images continue his 30-year project of documenting a way of life that is slowly disappearing, along with the people who lived it. Taken with loving attention and considerable skill, and with the utmost respect for the people and places that appear in them, Kirk’s photos of shops and houses, of gardens and lounge-rooms, of people surrounded by the things they love, are beautifully evocative and powerfully nostalgic.

 

Enjoy!

The Best Travel Books for 2018

We’re rushing headlong towards the end of the year, and here in Australia the weather is warming up beautifully – two things that make me think of holidays and travelling! For me, the prospect of resuming travelling (after an extended break) is filling me with anticipation – there are still so many places I want to visit!  Whether you are a seasoned traveller, or one new to the game, there’s some excellent travel writing to inspire, entertain and inform you. Here are some of our favourites from this year:

Journeys of a Lifetime, Second Edition: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips by National Geographic

Here’s all your travel inspo in one hit – the second edition of Journeys of a Lifetime, completely revised to mark its 10th anniversary.  From iconic places to hidden gems, these destinations and routes represent the 500 favourite journeys of the travel writers at National Geographic.  Covering every continent and mode of transport, Journeys of a Lifetime is particularly strong on adventurous trips – whether it’s cruising in Antarctica, trekking up Kilimanjaro or mountain biking in Transylvania.  There are also thematic sections, with ideas for urban walks, food pilgrimages, hot new museums and more.  Packed with maps, planning advice and amazing photography, this gorgeous book will provide inspiration and information for years to come.

Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eatlist : the 500 Best Dishes to Eat on the Planet, Ranked by Lonely Planet

Ultimate Eatlist is another “500 Best” book that will be a great reference as well as inspiration.  For many people (myself included), trying different cuisines is a favourite part of travelling, so the team at Lonely Planet has scoured the world for the most delicious, iconic and memorable eating experiences.  From Laksa in Kuala Lumpur, BBQ in Texas to oysters in Tasmania, Ultimate Eatlist will show you what to eat, where to eat it, the history and culture behind each food, and why the experience will be special.  Don’t read this book when you’re hungry!

Rooms with a View: the Secret Life of Grand Hotels by Adrian Mourby

The names of famous hotels – such as the Dorchester (London), Raffles (Singapore), and The Plaza (New York) – instantly evoke images of history, glamour, money, celebrities. These are also potent ingredients for gossip!  Hotel historian and travel addict Adrian Mourby has collected wonderfully entertaining tales about 50 of these grand hotels around the world.  Read about how the details of India’s independence were drafted in the ballroom of the Imperial Hotel in Delhi; or about the time Salvador Dali asked room service at Hotel Le Meurice in Paris to send him a flock of sheep. The Great, the Good and the Eccentric, including Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Elizabeth Taylor – all made appearances, and some times, history – in these grand establishments.

Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding

Pasta, Pane, Vino is the latest book by Roads & Kingdoms, a crew that applies foreign correspondence-style journalism to food, music and travel (thereby elevating it to a new and impressive level).  Matt Goulding travels across Italy and shows how food staples – pasta, bread, cheese, wine – remain anchored in tradition, whilst allowing new generations of artisans the scope to innovate for the future.  Matt’s exploration of food is also the starting point for deep-dives into Italian history, politics and culture.  Each chapter is like a short documentary that is both intense and intimate. Pasta, Pane, Vino will hit the spot If you like your writing insightful and intellectual.

The Kings of the Yukon: an Alaskan River Journey by Adam Weymouth

Adam Weymouth spent four months canoeing along the Yukon River, tracing the life cycle of the legendary king salmon.  From the spawning grounds of McNeil Lake in the Canadian interior, he travels over 3,000 km to the Bering Sea – and each year, thousands of salmon make this same journey in reverse, against the current and uphill, back to their birthplace to spawn and then die.  Along the way, he meets various locals, whose lives are entwined with the fate of the salmon.  The Kings of the Yukon is a quiet, poetic book befitting a journey through such a remote, rugged area.  The slow pace of canoeing allows Adam Weymouth plenty of time for reflection on ecology, sustainability, and the tension between conservation and cultural traditions.

A Year Off: a Story about Travelling the World and How to Make it Happen for You by Alexandra and David Brown

“Don’t Dream it, Do it!” is the message by Alexandra and David Brown – if you have ever dreamt of taking a year off to travel the world, then this is the book for you.  A few months into their relationship, Alexandra and David decided to take a year off from work and travel together. Visiting 20 countries in 12 months is a big challenge for a new couple, and this book details the highs and the lows, the glorious moments and the sheer exhaustion.  Alexandra and David also show how to plan and budget for such a trip, the conversations you need to have with your boss, how to manage the mundane stuff whilst on the road.  Combining guidebook, travel essays and memoir, A Year Off will inspire you to finally take the plunge with that dream trip.

The Kindness of Strangers: Travel Stories that Make your Heart Grow edited by Fearghal O’Nuallain

Travelling is exciting because it takes us to new and distant places; however, in such unfamiliar places, without our usual support network, we become vulnerable.   The Kindness of Strangers explores what it means to be vulnerable and to be helped by someone we’ve never met, someone who could have walked past, but chose not to.  Contributors share personal stories of the kindnesses they have received from adventures around the world, from a warm and cheering bowl of soup, to a rescue from a dire situation.  The Kindness of Strangers is not just a travel book, but one that reminds its readers that much good can arise from even the smallest of kind gestures. In doing so, it encourages readers to empathise and be kind too.  All royalties go towards supporting Oxfam in their work with refugees – the most vulnerable travellers of them all.

The Atlas Obscura Explorers Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid by Dylan Thuras

The team behind the bestselling Atlas Obscura has returned with a book, designed to inspire wanderlust in a younger generation!  The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid is packed with fascinating and unusual information about 47 different countries spread across every continent.  Besides distant and exotic places – such as the Crystal Caves in Mexico and Blood Falls in Antarctica – it also encourages young readers to explore and reveal the hidden wonders of their own environments.  Designed to appeal to 8-12 year olds (the age when curious facts and amazing records really capture their imaginations), this is a beautifully-produced book that will be perfect for gifting.

The Hottest Cookbooks of 2018

Over the past few years there has been a change in our approach to what we eat and drink. This shift  reflects our changing attitudes towards our health and the environment – and also how we socialise. We are now in a culinary world of adventurous vegetarian and vegan cuisine with avocado smash being a standard brunch item, not to mention deconstructed and bowl meals. 

But fear not, we have compiled a list of the hottest cookbooks of the year so that you can adopt a few new dishes to pop into your foodie repertoire and wow your dinner guests. 

So make yourself comfortable and get your fingers ready as you’ll want to bookmark these titles as possible Festive Season meal inspiration, or even just to give Santa a nudge as to what you want to unwrap in on Christmas Day…which is only 11 weeks away (yep…true fact)!

 

Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi

It’s no secret that we love Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes (you can read about Karen’s love of Ottolenghi here) But boy-oh-boy some recipes can be a little intimidating. Ottolenghi Simple showcases Yotam’s standout dishes that will suit whatever type of cooking you find easy – whether that’s getting wonderful food on the table in under 30 minutes, using just one pot to make a delicious meal, or a flavoursome dish that can be prepared ahead and then served when you’re ready.

 

 

 

Lagom By Steffi Knowles-Dellner

Technically this book came out last year, but it’s been a hot seller this year so we have included it on the list. This beautiful, fresh cookbook offers genuine insight into how Swedes eat and cook – with recipes that fit around the seasons, occasions, times of day, and appetite. Eating and cooking in tune with ‘lagom’ means embracing food that is good for body and soul, unfussy, delicious and sustaining, and all in harmony. The Swedes understand that balance is everything – that you crave comforting food when a bitter wind is howling outside, that refreshing, lighter meals suit hot, hazy days, that a mid-morning bun is good for morale, and that a long, sociable lunch with friends and family on a Sunday is the most rewarding way to end the weekend. There is a time and place for every kind of food, and when everything is in equilibrium, you will be content and satisfied. Steffi Knowles-Dellner is a Swedish food stylist and blogger (check out the blog here) who will introduce you to the unique Swedish concepts that encapsulate lagom, in this her debut book. From the well-known smörgåsbord table of open sandwiches, and Fredags mys (“cosy Fridays”) when hunkering down on a cosy sofa and tucking into tacos is a must, all the way to the irresistible idea of lördagsgodis – a single day for eating sweets to satisfy even the sweetest tooth.

 

 

Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering by Joanna Gaines

Magnolia Table is infused with Joanna Gaines’ warmth and passion for all things family, prepared and served straight from the heart of her home, with recipes inspired by dozens of Gaines family favourites and classic comfort selections from the couple’s new Waco restaurant, Magnolia Table, which opened early 2018.

Jo believes there’s no better way to celebrate family and friendship than through the art of togetherness, celebrating tradition, and sharing a great meal. Magnolia Table includes 125 classic recipes from breakfast, lunch, and dinner to small plates, snacks, and desserts. Complemented by her love for her garden, these dishes also incorporate homegrown, seasonal produce at the peak of its flavour. Inside Magnolia Table, you’ll find recipes the whole family will enjoy. You can check out Joanna’s blog here.

 

 

Cravings: Hungry for More by Chrissy Teigen 

Chrissy Teigen serves up a second glorious cookbook packed full of more delicious, irresistible, ‘eat-me’ food that you’ll want to devour right here, right now. Just as in Cravings, Chrissy’s recipes are high on flavour, low on guilt and she knows how to make every bite count. In this book, her focus is on faster and easier, but never less than 100% delicious. You’ll find the best comfort food, the sneakiest midnight feasts, instant dinner party grub to impress your friends, and a few more John Legend favourites. All accompanied with Chrissy’s laugh-out-loud irreverence and page-lickingly gorgeous food photography.

 

 

Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion by Shelly Westerhausen

Okay, so this is my favourite style of cooking….platters count as cooking I’m sure! This visual cornucopia of a cookbook is the guide to entertaining with effortless style. Celebrated author and food blogger Shelly Westerhausen shares the secrets to creating casually chic spreads anyone can make and everyone will enjoy (and envy). Organised by time of day, 40 contemporary arrangements are presented with gorgeous photography, easy-to-prepare recipes, suggested meat and drink pairings, and notes on preparation and presentation. Helpful advice includes tips on portioning, picking surfaces and vessels, pairing complementary textures and flavours, plus a handy chart featuring board suggestions for a variety of occasions (from holiday parties to baby showers). Platters and Boards is an inspiring housewarming or Christmas gift and resource for throwing unforgettable get-togethers.

 

 

On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen by Jeremy Fox

Okay…so this one was also published last year but it’s so good we had to include it. On Vegetables is the highly anticipated cookbook from Jeremy Fox, the California chef who is redefining vegetable-based cuisine with global appeal. Known for his game-changing approach to cooking with vegetables, Jeremy Fox first made his name at the Michelin-starred restaurant Ubuntu in Napa Valley. Today he is one of America’s most talked-about chefs, celebrated for the ingredient-focused cuisine he serves at the Los Angeles restaurant, Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen. In his first book, Fox presents his food philosophy in the form of 160 approachable recipes for the home cook. On Vegetables elevates vegetarian cooking, using creative methods and ingredient combinations to highlight the textures, flavours, and varieties of seasonal produce and including basic recipes for the larder.

 

Enjoy!

Top 10 Books to Pre Order Now

We love the anticipation of a book finally being launched…but sometimes the wait can be excruciating and the fear of missing out is too much. But fear not, we are here to help you stock your shelves as our team has scoured the internet and compiled a list of the Top Ten books to pre order now. 

Barefoot Investor for Families by Scott Pape

It’s simple, funny and practical. And it has changed people’s lives. The eagerly anticipated follow-up, The Barefoot Investor for Families, sticks to the same script as Pape’s first book. It’s aimed fairly and squarely at parents, grandparents, and basically anyone who read that book and said: ‘Why the hell wasn’t I taught this years ago?’ Scott lays out ten money milestones kids need to have nailed before they leave home, and it’s all structured around one family ‘money meal’ each week (so roughly 20 minutes). If you follow the roadmap, with tailor-made lessons for each age group, your kids will know how to do things like learn the life-changing value of hard work, set up a fee-free bank account (or jam jars!), go on a Treasure Hunt around the house, and sell some of their ‘stuff’ second-hand. Pape’s mission is to make sure your kids are financially strong so they never, ever get sucked into the traps that middle-aged bankers have devised to rob them of their money and their confidence. There are only ten things every kid needs to know about money, and you can teach them over dinner, once a week. It’s that simple.

 

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins. Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist’s sketchbook containing the drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river. Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets? Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter.

 

War of the Wolf by Bernard Cornwell

The master storyteller is back. 

At the fortress of the eagles, three kings will fight. Uhtred of Bebbanburg has won back his ancestral home but, threatened from all sides by enemies both old and new, he doesn’t have long to enjoy the victory. In Mercia, rebellion is in the air as King Edward tries to seize control. In Wessex, rival parties scramble to settle on the identity of the next king. And across the country invading Norsemen continue their relentless incursion, ever hungry for land. Uhtred, a legendary warrior, admired and sought as an ally, and feared as an enemy is once again torn between his two heritages. But when he finds himself fighting on what he considers the wrong side, facing one of his most fearsome enemies and cursed by misfortune and tragedy, only the most astute cunning, the greatest loyalty and the most spectacular courage can save him.

 

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult 

When Vonita opened the doors of the Center that morning, she had no idea that it would be for the last time. Wren has missed school to come to the Center, the sole surviving women’s reproductive health clinic in the state, chaperoned by her aunt, Bex. Olive told Peg she was just coming for a check-up. Janine is undercover, a pro-life protester disguised as a patient. Joy needs to terminate her pregnancy. Louie is there to perform a service for these women, not in spite of his faith, but because of it. When a desperate and distraught gunman bursts into the Center, opening fire and taking everyone hostage, Hugh McElroy is the police negotiator called to the scene. He has no idea that his fifteen-year-old daughter is inside. Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day. Jodi Picoult tackles a complicated issue in this gripping and nuanced novel. How do we balance the rights of pregnant women with the rights of the unborn they carry? What does it mean to be a good parent? A Spark of Light will inspire debate, conversation and, hopefully, understanding.

 

Cordially Invited by Zoe Sugg

For as long as Zoe Sugg can remember she has loved welcoming friends & family into her home, whether it’s to celebrate someone else’s big day or just being with friends, there is nothing she enjoys more than putting her energy into making any occasion special. In Zoe’s eyes the best thing about getting people together is there really is no right or wrong way, maybe you want to plan a throw-everything-at-it shindig, or simply make a special effort for one guest. Mostly it’s about how people feel when they’re in your company. How the smallest of gatherings can feel momentous, and the biggest of parties can feel intimate. Over the years Zoe has shared glimpses of this side to her in her videos, with millions of viewers taking daily inspiration from her life. In Cordially Invited she shares her best and never seen before ideas in print. Divided into seasons, and woven through with Zoe’s own stories and memories, this book reveals her favourite events – big or small – throughout the year and how to celebrate them in style. From practical ideas for how to feed your guests and hacks for unexpected get-togethers to simple but impressive DIYs and those personal touches people will remember, Cordially Invited is Zoe’s blueprint for making an event and a memory out of each day.

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America, the first African-American to serve in that role, she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerising storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it, in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations and whose story inspires us to do the same.

 

Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin 

From the masterly imagination behind A Game of Thrones comes a definitive history of Westeros’s past as told by Archmaester Gyldayn. Unravelling events that led to A Song of Ice and Fire, Fire and Blood is the first volume of the definitive two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros. Revealing long-buried secrets and untold lasting enmity, it sets the scene for the heart-stopping series conclusion, The Winds of Winter. 300 years before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, long before the schism that set the houses of Westeros at each other’s throats, one house ruled supreme and indomitable. House Targaryen, the house of the last remaining dragonlords. After surviving the Doom of Valyria the Targaryen’s established themselves on Dragonstone. This volume traces their legendary lineage from Aegon the Conqueror to the bloody Dance of Dragons; a civil war that pitted Aegon II and his half-sister Rhaenyra in a bitter conflict for the throne of their father, nearly wiping out the Targaryen dynasty forever. What really happened during the Dance of the Dragons? Why did it become so deadly to visit Valyria after the Doom? What is the origin of Daenerys’s three dragon eggs? These are but a few of the questions answered in this essential chronicle, as related by a learned maester of the Citadel. 

 

The Reckoning by John Grisham 

John Grisham returns to Clanton, Mississippi, to tell the story of an unthinkable murder, the bizarre trial that followed it, and its profound and lasting effect on the people of Ford County. Pete Banning was Clanton’s favourite son, a returning war hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbour, and a faithful member of the Methodist Church. Then one cool October morning in 1946. he rose early, drove into town, walked into the church, and calmly shot and killed the Reverend Dexter Bell. As if the murder wasn’t shocking enough, it was even more baffling that Pete’s only statement about it – to the sheriff, to his defense attorney, to the judge, to his family and friends, and to the people of Clanton – was ‘I have nothing to say’. And so the murder of the esteemed Reverend Bell became the most mysterious and unforgettable crime Ford County had ever known.

 

The Girl on the Page by John Purcell

Two women, two great betrayals, one path to redemption. A punchy, powerful and page-turning novel about the redemptive power of great literature, from industry insider, John Purcell. Amy Winston is a hard-drinking, bed-hopping, hot-shot young book editor on a downward spiral. Having made her name and fortune by turning an average thriller writer into a Lee Child, Amy is given the unenviable task of steering literary great Helen Owen back to publication. When Amy knocks on the door of their beautiful townhouse in north west London, Helen and her husband, the novelist Malcolm Taylor, are conducting a silent war of attrition. The townhouse was paid for with the enormous seven figure advance Helen was given for the novel she wrote to end fifty years of making ends meets on critical acclaim alone. The novel Malcolm thinks unworthy of her. The novel Helen has yet to deliver. The novel Amy has come to collect. Amy has never faced a challenge like this one. Helen and Malcolm are brilliant, complicated writers who unsettle Amy into asking questions of herself – questions about what she values, her principles, whether she has integrity, whether she is authentic. Before she knows it, answering these questions becomes a matter of life or death. From ultimate book industry insider, John Purcell, comes a literary page-turner, a ferocious and fast-paced novel that cuts to the core of what it means to balance ambition and integrity, and the redemptive power of great literature.’

 

Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon

Academy Award-winning actress, producer, and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon invites you into her world, where she infuses the southern style, parties, and traditions she loves with contemporary flair and charm. Reese Witherspoon’s grandmother Dorothea always said that a combination of beauty and strength made southern women “whiskey in a teacup.” We may be delicate and ornamental on the outside, she said, but inside we’re strong and fiery. Reese’s southern heritage informs her whole life, and she loves sharing the joys of southern living with practically everyone she meets. She takes the South wherever she goes with bluegrass, big holiday parties, and plenty of Dorothea’s fried chicken. It’s reflected in how she entertains, decorates her home, and makes holidays special for her kids, not to mention how she talks, dances, and does her hair (in these pages, you will learn Reese’s fail-proof, only slightly insane hot-roller technique). Reese loves sharing Dorothea’s most delicious recipes as well as her favourite southern traditions, from midnight barn parties to backyard bridal showers, magical Christmas mornings to rollicking honky-tonks. It’s easy to bring a little bit of Reese’s world into your home, no matter where you live. After all, there’s a southern side to every place in the world, right?

 

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!