27 Feb 2015

BiP eNews - New Picture Books and more...!

Recommended for 3+


The Girl with the Parrot on her Head
Daisy Hirst
Feb 2015 | Walker Books | $24.95hb

Isabel’s friend Simon moves away one day, leaving her alone with only her pet parrot for company. At first it’s hard to find things to occupy her day, but gradually, Isabel learns to enjoy things as they are, “Isabel felt quiet inside, and decided to like being on her own.” She lets her wonderful imagination run riot until one day she finds a huge, perfect box – the biggest she’s ever seen – on the street. What’s inside the box is not quite what Isabel expects...a lovely picture book about finding new friends and never letting go of your imagination. For ages 3 and up.





Recommended for 4+

I am Henry Finch
Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwartz
Jan 2015 | Walker Books | $24.95hb

"A finch woke up in the dark and the quiet. He had a thought and he heard it. I AM HENRY FINCH, he thought...I THINK...I COULD BE GREAT, thought Henry."

For budding philosophers of all ages, this is the uplifting story of Henry Finch the loveable little bird who strives for greatness, gets it all a bit wrong, then makes it right again in a very surprising way. Wonderful, deceptively simple illustrations using fingerprints, watercolour and ink give Henry Finch a unique look. It's an inspirational idea, one with a very good sense of humour. Told with simplicity and style, I am Henry Finch never takes itself too seriously. We love this profound little picture book  and recommend it for ages 4 and up.



Recommended for 7 - adult


Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest and Colouring Book
Johanna Basford
Feb 2015 | Laurence King | $19.99pb

Following the phenomenal success of The Secret Garden, The Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford takes the act of colouring in to another level. As well as drawings to colour and embellish, there are hidden animals and magical objects to be found along the way, including nine special symbols. Find all the symbols to unlock the castle door and reveal what lies within. Basford has a lot fans - many of them adults - and this new book has been much anticipated. Happily, it does not disappoint. Recommended for 7 and up.






Puffin Chalk Editions: Black Beauty, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz
Feb 2015 | Puffin | $12.99pb ea.

Gorgeous new editions of these classic children's books, paperbacks with gatefold covers and deckled edges, illustrated throughout with their original drawings. Puffin Chalk is a new presentation style for Penguin Books, with colourful chalk cover designs that echo the whimsy of childhood - they will add beauty to the bookshelves of children and lovers of classic fiction alike.

14 Feb 2015

Announcing the 2015 Stella Prize longlist


2015 Longlist

The 2015 Stella Prize shortlist will be announced at 12 noon AEDT on Thursday 12 March

The 2015 Stella Prize will be awarded in Melbourne on the evening of Tuesday 21 April



13 Feb 2015

BiP eNews - Books for Young Readers

BiP staff review by Karen



Dory Fantasmagory
Abby Hanlon
Jan 2015 | Dial | $19.99hb

Dory is the youngest of three children. She loves to play with her older siblings but they think she is a little rascal! Never mind, Dory has plenty of imaginary friends to play with. This is a fantastic romp with hilarious illustrations throughout and laugh- out- loud moments. It is perfect to read aloud to children aged  5 plus for young independent readers. 



Recommended for 8+
The Terrible Two
Jory John, Mac Barnett & Kevin Cornell
Feb 2015 | Abrams | $12.99pb

Miles is unhappy to be moving to Yawnee Valley, a sleepy town that’s famous for one thing and one thing only: cows. In his old school, he was a legendary prankster, but Miles quickly discovers that the new school already has a prankster, a boy called Niles, and he's a pretty damned good one at that! If Miles is going to take the title he is going to have to raise his game. There's an epic war of hilarious trickery until the boys decide that two brains are definitely better than one. Joining forces, they aim to pull off the biggest prank ever seen...Mac Barnett and Jory John have created the first book in what will be a series that has its roots in classic younger reader books like Diary of A Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates, yet The Terrible Two manages to feel fresh and new. Fun illustrations make this perfect for readers of 8 and up. 


BiP staff review by Lucinda
For the Forest of a Bird
Sue Saliba
Feb 2015 | Penguin | $17.99pb

Nella is fourteen. She lives in North Fitzroy with her older brother Matthew and her mother who, for various reasons, is largely absent from her life. It is Nella's beloved father who used to hold things together, but he left them two years ago to start a new life on Philip Island. Gentle and thoughtful, Nella feels her loneliness keenly but wears it lightly, and thinks if she can just bring her father home everything will be alright. She is hopeful that he will, like the swallows she watches, find his way back to them. But life is rarely that simple. Running away from the city Nella lands at her father's island home where things are not exactly as she remembers them. Nella finds solace - as she often does in the urban environment - in the nature surrounding her and it is in these moments that Nella begins to realise that love and change are interlinked. Quietly unfolding through sparse, beautifully written sentences, is a friendship between two like-minded girls who dive deep into the natural world. Birds and forests, loss and love. It's one of those novels where 'not much happens' and yet so much does. The title - For The Forest of A Bird - is taken from Judith Wright's poem "The Birds" and it was the carefully chosen name that drew me to this book. Looking at the jacket once finished, I couldn't help but feel this is a novel that is as precious and rare as the birds and native forests Nella and her new friend Isobel explore. Highly recommended for keen, sensitive readers of 12 and up.

BiP eNews - New Fiction

BiP staff review by Leonie

The Buried Giant
Kazuo Ishiguro
Mar 2015 | Faber | $29.99pb    BiP price $24.99

Ten years after his last novel, Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro has produced a book in which he manages to surprise and to push the boundaries between reality and fantasy. The Buried Giant is the story of Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple living in poverty in a small hillside village in Iron Age Britain. The country has been shrouded in a mist of forgetfulness for many years, but when snippets of memory start to come back to Axl and Beatrice they decide to leave their community to travel many miles to reunite with their son. In this land of myths and legends they will not have an easy journey. On their first stopover at a Saxon fortress they meet a fascinating young warrior, Wistan, and a strange young man, Edwin, who accompany them some of the way on their travels. During the journey they meet the last of the Arthurian knights, ogres, monks, strange boatmen and she-dragons. They also start to remember more of their past lives. The Buried Giant is not just a fantasy novel: it is a beautifully written work of humour, adventure, memories and the frailty of humanity. Increasingly throughout the book you will notice that the story becomes more about the uneasy peace between very different communities and the avenging of grievances from years past. I enjoyed every page of this book. Kazuo Ishiguro is one of my writing heroes and I was definitely not disappointed.      Available 3rd March 2015


BiP staff review by Leonie

Useful
Debra Oswald
Feb 2015 | Viking | $32.99pb

Sullivan Moss, a failed actor and musician, has alienated everyone in his life, including his ex-wife Astrid and all his friends. He has become a drunken loser, not even able to commit suicide successfully. When he wakes up in hospital after his failed attempt, suffering from concussion, Sullivan realizes that he has already disposed of all of his possessions. With nothing to do he has a long think about the waste of his life so far. This leads to a decision that helps to turn his life around. Sullivan wants to donate a kidney. Of course this is not going to be as easy as he thinks; a complete change of lifestyle is called for, including no more alcohol. Natalie, a radio producer and single mother, comes to Sullivan’s aid with a place to live. Her father died recently, leaving his apartment empty and his dog Mack alone. Sullivan gets a job removing asbestos; with a place to live and Mack to look after, his life has a structure which it has not had for years. Making friends with Natalie and her son Louis, and contacting Astrid and his oldest friend Tim, helps Sullivan to keep on an even keel at last. All he needs to do is work hard until he is approved and called up for the transplant. But nothing to do with Sullivan Moss ever quite goes to plan. Debra Oswald has been admired for her brilliant screenwriting and she can now be congratulated for her first novel.



The Whispering City
Sara Moliner
Feb 2015 | Little, Brown | $29.99pb

Barcelona in 1952 was a very dark place. The fascist regime of General Franco was at the height of its reign of terror. When a wealthy woman is found murdered in her mansion various factions in the police department scramble to gain control of the subsequent investigation. Ana Marti Noguer, an eager young journalist, is assigned to cover the case. She discovers a bundle of strange letters and realizes that the official position on the murder is a long way from what actually happened. Under scrutiny from her own colleagues and the opposing forces of the police, Ana needs to be very careful. She uncovers clues to a dark conspiracy which involves some of the regime’s most important figures. Aided by a couple of trusted friends she manages to avoid arrest and completes her investigation. Translated from Spanish, The Whispering City is a very atmospheric tale which brings to life a city living in fear.

11 Feb 2015

New Fiction Chapter Sample

A Spool of Blue Thread
Anne Tyler
Feb 2015 | Chatto & Windus | $32.99pb   **BiP price $27.95

‘It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon…' 

This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she and Red fell in love that day in July 1959. The whole family on the porch, relaxed, half-listening as their mother tells the same tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different. Abby and Red are getting older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them and their beloved family home. They've all come, even Denny, who can usually be relied on only to please himself. From that porch we spool back through three generations of the Whitshanks, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define who and what they are. And while all families like to believe they are special, round that kitchen table over all those years we also see played out our own hopes and fears, rivalries and tensions – the essential nature of family life.


20 Jan 2015

BiP eNews - New Fiction

BiP staff review by Leonie

Volcano Street
David Rain
Jan 2015 | Allen & Unwin | $27.99pb

Volcano Street is set in a small country town in South Australia called Crater Lakes, during the 1960’s. Two sisters, Marlo and Skip Wells, are sent to live with their aunt and uncle when their single mother is committed after she takes an overdose. Leaving behind their life in Adelaide was always going to be difficult, but they could not have foreseen just how different their lives would be. Auntie Noreen is loud, overbearing and a voracious eater, while Uncle Doug is thin and quiet. The first shock for Marlo is that she is sent to work in the family hardware store instead of finishing her last four months of school. Skip is off to the local high school to finish Year 7. Her first day is a disaster from the start. She is caught fighting with a boy at the bus stop and arrives at school covered in dirt. To her horror she discovers that the boy is in her class and that he is her next-door neighbour. Honza’s friends in the class are a small group of bullies who find Skip at lunchtime and rough her up. She finds herself in all sorts of trouble as each day passes. Skip is a wonderful character, feisty and smart. She fights first and asks questions later. Eventually she and Honza become friends and her life becomes easier. Crater Lakes is a normal country town on the surface, with an undercurrent of secrets, bigotry and racism. Marlo and Skip soon become involved in town life and discover some things they would rather not have known. Volcano Street reaches a very dramatic climax. I really enjoyed it. The book has everything that makes for a good read: drama, sadness, laughter and memorable characters.


BiP staff review by Christine

Oddfellows
Nicholas Shakespeare
Jan 2015 | Random House | $14.99pb

Who amongst us has heard of the Battle of Broken Hill? Shamefully, I had not and I read Nicholas Shakespeare’s evocation of this extraordinary event in amazement. An enemy attack and a race riot on Australian soil during World War I? It was in 1915, on the 1st January, the annual picnic day in Broken Hill, with a thousand citizens dressed for fun, when the enemy attack took place. Four citizens were killed and seven were wounded. It sounds horribly familiar........ Excellent.

BiP eNews - Children's and Young Adult



Twisted Tales: 6 Far Out Stories
Beastly Tales: 6 Crazy Stories
Richard Tulloch and Terry Denton
Dec 2014 | Random House | $14.99pb (ea)

Two old favourite collections were reissued this week, each with an interesting, funny twist and hilarious illustrations by the wonderful Terry Denton. In Twisted Tales, Tulloch takes six well-known, well-loved fairytales and gives them something fresh: "Why are wolves in fairytales always bad, and witches always ugly?...If wolves and witches wrote books, they'd make themselves good, beautiful heroes, and the villains would be horrible little children and wicked princes and ugly princesses."  Hilarity, naturally, ensues.

Beastly Tales introduces us to six extraordinary (silly!) stories which will turn your view of animals upside down. Should you make friends with a boa constrictor? Can Naomi the skunk hold down a job without losing her, ahem, nerve? Both books are great fun and highly recommended for fans of the Andy Griffiths-Terry Denton combo.   


The Pied Piper of Hamelin    Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales

Russell Brand and Chris Riddell
Oct 2014 | Canongate | $19.99hb

With this first book in Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales series, the famed comedian, actor, and bestselling author delivers a hilarious retelling of an old fairytale favourite that will appeal to adults and children alike.

Once upon a time, long ago, in a time that seemed, to those present, exactly like now except their teeth weren't so clean and more things were wooden, there was a town called Hamelin. The people of Hamelin were a pompous bunch who loved themselves and their town so much that if it were possible they would have spent all day zipped up in a space suit smelling their own farts. But space suits hadn't been invented yet so they couldn't.

Then one day without warning a gang of rats bowled into the town and began causing a right rumpus… So begins Brand’s wildly funny and surprisingly wise retelling of the classic tale The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Whether you’re a child or a grown-up, you’ll be chuckling the whole way through this zany story that bypasses Brand’s more adult humour for the outrageous, the madcap, and the just plain silly.


Young Adult readers 15+

Girl Online 
Zoe Sugg
Nov 2014 | Penguin | $19.99pb

The internet offers rich pickings for the publishing world. Many books and ideas that may have, previously, been ignored by traditional publishing houses are being snapped up because a proven online audience is a solid bet. YouTube sensation Zoe Sugg, AKA Zoella, is the latest and has written a young adult novel we can hardly keep from flying out the door. Writing anonymously, 15-year-old Penny starts a blog in which she explores how friends, family and boys really make her feel. When her family moves to New York she meets the musically-gifted Noah and falls deeply - madly - in love. But Noah, like Penny, has a secret... The Guardian described Girl Online as a young adult version of the film Notting Hill, a perfect description!

Zoe's Website    The Guardian Review



Young Adult readers 15+

All the Bright Places
Jennifer Niven
Jan 2015 | Penguin | $17.99pb

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it is unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It is only with Violet that Finch can be himself — a weird, funny, clever and endearing guy who’s not such a freak after all, and it is only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. This is an intense, gripping novel with likeable characters and is perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, John Green, and Gayle Forman from a talented new voice in YA.

9 Jan 2015

BiP eNews

BiP staff review by Leonie
The Torch
Peter Twohig
Feb 2015 | Fourth Estate | *BiP Price $24.95pb

The hero of Peter Twohig’s The Cartographer makes a triumphant return in The Torch. It is 1960 and young Blayney is soon to start secondary school, but meanwhile he is making the most of the holidays. He has moved with his mother into his grandad’s house after their home burnt down. The chief suspect, Keith Kavanaugh, has disappeared. Our young hero is constantly in trouble with his mother, who is finding it hard to cope with everything that has been thrown at her. East Richmond is a hotbed of crime and a fascinating playground for young boys; Blayney and his friends are members of several ‘secret gangs’. Well-taught by his decidedly shady grandpa he finds himself involved in theft, snooping on Russian spies and trying to track down ‘Flame Boy’. In an action-packed summer the Blayney kid gets his first kiss, his first girlfriend and ends up in hospital. Those who loved The Cartographer will enjoy The Torch just as much. It is a wonderful picture of the early 1960’s, and is especially nostalgic for anyone who grew up in this period.



BiP staff review by Christine

Vanessa and Her Sister
Priya Parmar
Feb 2015 | Bloomsbury | $29.99pb

Will fascination with the Bloomsbury Group ever fade? Not so far, it seems, and I for one am happy about that. Vanessa and Her Sister is an imaginative glimpse into the lives of the Stephen children in their Bloomsbury house at the turn of the last century. Freed from parental constraint and careless of current convention Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby and Adrian gather around them a glittering host of artistic cohorts; John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster, Lytton Strachey and Leonard Woolf among them. Within such an eccentric, outrageous, milieu friendships, love affairs and artistic brilliance bubble together, creating an intense tale of fascination and intrigue. I like novelists who write historical fiction: I like them for having a go, prodding our imaginations into wondering what it might have been like.... Vanessa and Her Sister is great fun.




BiP staff review by Christine


Secrets of Midwives
Sally Hepworth
Feb 2015 | Macmillan | $29.99pb

Floss, her daughter Grace and her granddaughter Neva are bound by family lies and their occupations as midwives. When Neva announces her pregnancy and plans to keep secret the identity of the baby’s father, her mother is thrown into confusion and Floss into turmoil as her past resurfaces and looks horribly like Neva’s future. This engaging tale does not have the grit of Call the Midwife but I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the birthing bits!

Review by Christine, who did her midwifery training at the Mercy Hospital in 1977.





BiP staff review by Christine

Ridley Road
Jo Bloom
Feb 2015 | Orion | $29.99pb

Jo Bloom takes the reader back to London in the Swinging Sixties. Manchester hairdresser Vivien Epstein has come to London after the death of her father, seeking excitement and hoping to find Jack Fox, a young man she had a short love affair with at home. Caught up in the whirlwind of London’s hedonism, Vivien finds Jack but is shocked to discover his involvement with the anti-fascist movement the 62 Group. I knew nothing of the unrest and violence in London’s past and I had to find out more. Jo Bloom was inspired to write Ridley Road when she met a Jewish anti-fascist who'd lived in the East End all his life and participated in numerous street battles with the fascists alongside both the 43 Group and the 62 Group. Imaginative re-tellings of historical events are informative as well as entertaining. I liked Ridley Road a lot.




BiP staff review by Leonie

Lila
Marilynne Robinson
Oct 2014 | Little, Brown | $29.99pb

Marilynne Robinson has come back to Gilead. Lila arrives in the small town homeless and penniless. To get out of the rain she steps into the church. That one action will change her life and that of Minister John Ames. Deserted by her family when she was a toddler, Lila was taken in by Doll, a tough young itinerant worker. They spent her childhood on the road with a ragtag group of seasonal workers. Though hard, her life also brought laughter and friendship. She had a year at school where she quickly learned to read, write and do simple maths, skills she will need to use in later years. In her usual slow-paced narrative Marilynne Robinson gives the reader a glimpse into the lives of her memorable characters. If you haven’t read Gilead or Home they are well worth reading.

14 Nov 2014

Review | I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

I'll Give You the Sun
by Jandy Nelson
Sept 2014 (US) | Dial | $29.95 hb

We completely and utterly adore this book! I’ll Give You the Sun is the story of twins, Noah and Jude. At thirteen they share everything - hopes, dreams, fears and even artistic ambitions, but by the time they are sixteen they are barely speaking to each other. I’ll Give You the Sun is the tale of how their connection is broken and, ultimately, beautifully, healed.

Noah tells of the twins' early years, Jude of those that come later, but each has only half the story right. It’s a well-documented fact that twins can often share magical bonds – in this case, that magic extends beyond, in the form of exceptional artistic talents. Woven throughout are the threads of several deeply moving love stories, each one complex, heartfelt and very real. It is in the unfolding and merging of the twins' stories that the magic really happens; it's a meditation on art, life, family, grief and how even the most broken of people can fix one another.

Reading this incredible young adult novel is like discovering a wonderful secret or being given the best present you can imagine. Each and every sentence feels profound, finds its way - soaringly - into your chest. It’s like riding an amazing emotional rollercoaster, one you'll never want to end!

Gushing though our review is, it's almost impossible to explain how gorgeous I'll Give You the Sun is until you immerse yourself in Nelson's carefully crafted characters - beautifully written, at times even electric. With a unique, evocative language all of its own and full of passion, joy, sorrow and intrigue, this book is so good that we are going out on a limb and declaring it our favourite young adult book of the year. A book to literally take your breath away.

Highly (very!) recommended for readers 15+

31 Oct 2014

Chapter Sample | Diary of a Wimpy Kid 09: Long Haul

Long-awaited ninth Wimpy Kid book | Available from Wednesday 5th November | $14.99pb / $17.99hb




BiP eNews

Timmy Failure 3: We Meet Again
Stephan Pastis
Oct 2014 |Walker Books | $17.95hb

From the New York Times best-selling creator of Timmy Failure comes a third adventure about the comically overconfident sleuth.

His name is Failure. Timmy Failure. And his detective agency is on the verge of global domination. Global riches. Global fame. And yet the gods keep throwing him curveballs: for starters, academic probation. The coveted Miracle Report is the key to everything, including a good grade. It’s dirty business. It’s best you know nothing. But one thing is for sure: Timmy Failure will be triumphant again! 


Recommended for 3+

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings
Jo Witek
Oct 2014 | Abrams | $19.99hb

We are often asked about books to help parents (and grandparents) explain emotions to their children. Some tend to be very simple, others much more complex, but what we like about this beautifully illustrated picture book is the way in which it lyrically explains what an emotion feels like, physically, inside. For example: "When I get really angry, my heart feels like it's going to explode! Don't come near me! My heart is yelling, hot and loud. This is when my heart is mad." Toddlers will be empowered by this new vocabulary and able to practice articulating and identifying their own emotions. On the cover and the right side of each spread, a die-cut heart decreases in size, creating a multi-coloured heart the depth of the entire book.



3 Oct 2014

Signed Copies available at $49.95 while stock lasts





The Menzies Era
by John Howard

Oct 2014 | HarperCollins | $59.99hb      *$49.95

We have a limited quantity of signed copies of Hohn Howard’s new book available at the BiP price of $49.95

BiP eNews - Young Readers

Recommended for 8+

Awful Auntie
by David Walliams
Oct 2014 | HarperCollins | $19.99pb

Awful Auntie is a page-turning, rollicking romp of a read, sparkling with Walliams' most eccentric characters yet and full of humour and heart. From larger-than-life, tiddlywinks-obsessed Awful Aunt Alberta to her pet owl, Wagner – this is an adventure with a difference. Aunt Alberta is on a mission to cheat the young Lady Stella Saxby out of her inheritance – Saxby Hall. But with mischievous and irrepressible Soot, the cockney ghost of a chimney sweep, alongside her, Stella is determined to fight back… And sometimes a special friend, however different, is all you need to win through. 


BiP staff review by Cathy

Boy 21
Matthew Quick
Aug 2014 | Hachette | $16.99pb

Finley’s had a tough life. He lives in a bad neighbourhood where gangs rule the streets. He doesn’t say much at all  because he knows that talking can be dangerous. His mother was tragically killed when he was a young boy and his Dad and Pop have never really recovered from their loss. Two things keep Finley going - basketball and his girlfriend Erin. They both have huge talent and an all-consuming passion for the game and hope that basketball could be their ticket to a better life. When Finley’s coach asks him to look after a boy, Russ, whose parents were murdered, he reluctantly agrees. Russ is one of the most promising high school basketballers in the country but after his parents were killed, he changed his name to Boy 21, claimed he  was from outer space and refused to play basketball at all. Finley soon realises that his role of encouraging Russ to play again will most likely be at the expense of his own position in the team. Against all odds, a friendship develops between the two boys but while Russ seems to be getting his life together, Finley’s world is shattered when he is faced with losing the two things he loves most. There is so much to love about Boy 21. It is a clever, well written and, at times, heart wrenching story and is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying young adult novels that I’ve read this year. Very highly recommended for readers 14+.




The Princess in Black
by Shannon and Dean Hale & LeUyen Pham
Oct 2014 | Walker Books | $19.95hb

Princess Magnolia is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when . . . Brring! Brring! The monster alarm! A big blue monster is threatening the goats! Stopping monsters is no job for dainty Princess Magnolia. But luckily Princess Magnolia has a secret – she’s also the Princess in Black, and stopping monsters is the perfect job for her! Can the princess sneak away, transform into her alter ego, and defeat the monster before the nosy duchess discovers her secret? From the award-winning writing team of Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrator LeUyen Pham, here is the first in a humorous and action-packed chapter book series for young readers who like their princesses not only prim and perfect, but also dressed in black.

BiP eNews - New Fiction

BiP staff review by Leonie

The Alexandria Connection
by Adrian d’Hage
Oct 2014 | Michael Joseph | $29.99pb    * Available 22nd OCT

The eminently-qualified author Adrian d’HagĂ© has written a thrilling tale of politics, history and modern terrorism. Archaeologist Aleta Weizman and CIA agent Curtis O’Connor are on the trail of a long-lost papyrus which holds the promise of clues to the source of a new form of energy. Meanwhile, a clandestine group known as Pharos is meeting in Alexandria to bring chaos to international financial markets with a series of spectacular terrorist attacks on the world's fossil-fuel supplies. In Cairo, amid the anarchy of Tahrir Square, thieves break into the famed Museum of Antiquities and steal a priceless artefact: the mask of Tutankhamun. Is the audacious theft linked to the Pharos group? Fast-paced and well-researched, The Alexandria Connection will keep you enthralled from beginning to end. It would make a great Christmas present.



BiP staff review by Leonie

The Long Way Home
by Louise Penny
Sept 2014 | Sphere | $29.99pb

In the previous novel How the Light Gets In, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache was badly injured, both physically and mentally. Both Gamache and his junior officer, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, were attacked by corrupt officers in the Quebec police force. The new novel finds Armand and his wife settled into semi-retirement in the little village of Three Pines, where the tranquillity of life in the peaceful village is helping the healing process. Although Armand is on sick leave when a friend asks him to help to find her missing husband, he and Jean-Guy cannot refuse. They are drawn into the sometimes murky world of the Quebec art scene as they try to track down the missing man. One special treat in Louise Penny’s ‘Gamache’ novels is the way she portrays the Quebec countryside. Even if you have not read Louise Penny’s books before I am sure that you will enjoy this one.




BiP staff review by Christine

Hello from the Gillespies
by Monica McInerney
Oct 2014 | Michael Joseph | $29.99pb

The Gillespie family is like a lot of families – outwardly happy and loving, with well-adjusted children all doing well within their chosen fields. Or are they? For all of her married life Angela has sent a Christmas letter far and wide titled Hello from the Gillespies. Normally cheery and full of good news, this year the words will not flow. There are disquieting issues everywhere she looks: her husband Nick seems distracted and their relationship is strained; her thirty-two-year old twin daughters have both self-destructed in their careers; her daughter Lindy cannot find her niche and is drowning in debt, and her change-of-life young son has just run away from boarding school. Try as she might, Angela just cannot pretend any more... Hello from the Gillespies is an enjoyable light read which Monica McInerney does so well. It is perfect for those times when you just want to relax.

5 Sep 2014

BiP eNews: New Non-Fiction and Fiction

BiP staff review by Christine

Anzac Girls
by Peter Rees
July 2014 | Allen & Unwin | $29.99pb

I like Peter Rees. He eschews the big historical narrative and focuses on the people who actually carry out War's bidding. His previous book, Lancaster Boys, told the story of Australians in Bomber Command from the perspectives of the terribly young, frightened boys who did the heavy lifting in the RAAF of WW2. In Anzac Girls it is the turn of the very young girls, trained nurses all, who picked up the pieces during WW1 at Gallipoli and on the Western Front in France. Liberally supplied with photos and diary entries Anzac Girls is a necessary adjunct to the ABC TV series of the same name.


BiP staff review by Christine

Disinherited
by Robert Sackville-West
May 2014 | Bloomsbury | $39.99hb

This is one for those who are fascinated by the English aristocracy, the English Country House and the odd bit of salacious history. I am one of these and always read anything I can find on the Sackville-West dynasty. If you are like me, then, you will be both depressed and enlightened by this tale of illegitimacy, scandal and the unfair nature of inheritance, which is the title of Sackville-West's previous book on this intriguing family.

Inheritance: The Story of Knole and the Sackvilles is available to order in pb at $23.99

BiP staff review by Christine

Us
by David Nicholls
Oct 2014 | Hachette | $29.99pb

I haven't read Nicholl's hugely successful One Day but now it's definitely on my to-read list. Us is a very intricate work as it traces Douglas Petersen's journey on a European holiday with his increasingly estranged wife and disaffected teenage son: a ‘Grand Tour’ if you will. I really warmed to Douglas as he narrates his way through the minefield that families sometimes become. In the words of the author: 'If One Day was about friendship and first love, Us is about what comes next.' I can thoroughly recommend it: clever, engaging fiction.


BiP staff review by Christine

Half the World in Winter
by Maggie Joel
Oct 2014 | Allen & Unwin | $29.99pb

London 1880: in the smart terrace house at 19 Cardigan Mews the family is in mourning for nine-year-old Sofia, who died in an horrific drawing-room fire six months earlier. Sofia's father is Lucas Jarmyn, wealthy part-owner of one of the largest railways in Britain. A train accident in a provincial town on the railway Lucas owns claims the life of nine-year-old Alice Brinklow and, amid the public outcry, Alice's father, Thomas, journeys to London demanding justice. As he arrives in the Capital on a frozen January morning his fate, and that of the entire Jarmyn family, will hinge on such strange things as an ill-fated visit to a spiritualist, an errant chicken bone and a single vote cast at a board room meeting. Maggie Joel weaves an engrossing tale of grief and the changing times of Victorian Britain. I enjoyed it very much.

24 Jul 2014

BiP eNews: New release adult fiction

BiP staff review by Sue

England and Other Stories
By Graham Swift
July 2014 | Simon & Schuster | $35.00hb

OK all you Graham Swift fans! You may have missed this unassuming hardback at the bottom of the fiction section but, seriously, this is classic Swift. He has returned to his first love, short stories. What makes this such a standout collection for me is that it doesn’t read like one person telling different stories, it reads like different people each telling their own story. I didn’t read the book from cover to cover but chose randomly and this probably enhanced the effect. It also means that I will return to them again and again, since it is not about what happens in each story but how it happens. This collection will stand the test of time.






BiP staff review by Leonie

Deeper Water
by Jessie Cole
Aug 2014 | HarperCollins | $29.99pb    *BiP price $24.95

Innocent and unworldly, Mema is still living at home with her mother on a remote, lush hinterland property. It is a small, confined, simple sort of life, and Mema is content with it. One day, during a heavy downpour, Mema saves a stranger from a raging creek. She takes him into her family home, where, marooned by rising floods, he has to stay until the waters recede. His sudden presence is unsettling - for Mema, her mother and her wild friend Anja - but slowly he opens the door to a new world of beckoning possibilities that threaten to sweep Mema into the deep.  'She takes us to a place of the strangest innocence and lovingness ...And she takes us to a physical place that's quite her own, and when you go to her country - the lush but uneasy country inland from Byron Bay - you recognise at once that she's the voice of it, the country speaks in her voice, though the captivating wise gentleness of that voice belongs only to Jessie.' (Peter Bishop). A novel of grace and beauty from a young Australian writer.


BiP staff review by Christine

Nest
by Inga Simpson
Aug 2014 | Hachette | $27.95pb

Nest, the second novel by Inga Simpson, is a gem. Centred on Jen, a retired school teacher and artist who has returned to her childhood home, Simpson’s story meanders gently through Jen’s past and present. Threaded throughout are the lives of those around her and the whole narrative is overlaid by the stunning birdlife which has become Jen’s passion. This keen observation and enthusiasm for birds and their innate freedom shines through so beautifully that I can’t help wondering whether there is an autobiographical note in there somewhere. Nest is a gentle lyrical ode to the life-forces that shape us, the nature of freedom and the sheer brilliance of birds. I liked it very much. More please Ms. Simpson.





Recommended by Chris

Half  World
by Scott O’Connor
June 2014 | Scribe | $32.99pb

In the 1950s, the CIA began a clandestine operation known as ‘Project Mkultra’, in which unwitting American and Canadian citizens were subjected to insidious drug and mind-control experiments. In the two decades of the program, countless lives and families were destroyed. Haunted by these events, novelist Scott O'Connor has crafted a literary thriller that vividly imagines the devastating emotional legacy of such a program. Henry March, an unassuming CIA analyst forced to spearhead Mkultra's San Francisco branch, finds himself bridging an untenable divide between his devotion to his family and the brutality of his daily task.

Torn between duty and conscience, Henry's own identity begins to fray, until he reaches the ultimate breaking point. Amid the wreckage, he disappears without a trace. Twenty years later, as the country struggles under the weight of the Vietnam War, another troubled young agent, Dickie Ashby, will risk everything to find Henry. Dickie must piece together the staggering aftermath of these crimes before it is too late. These themes have great moral resonance and relevance today, as notions of privacy and political paranoia play out across all media and national boundaries. Scott O'Connor’s literary thriller examines questions of duty, conscience, patriotism and secrecy.


BiP staff review by Karen

Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?
by Dave Eggers
June 2014 | Hamish Hamilton | $29.99pb

Thomas is a confused man, out of step with others and with his standing in the world. Lately his headaches are becoming worse and the questions are starting to pile up. This is a man who needs answers. Kev is an astronaut. He is tied to a steel post in a decommissioned military building. His captor, Thomas, apologizes and explains that he has no intention of hurting Kev, that he only wants to have a conversation and then he will release him.

This book opens straight to a dialogue between these two characters. Do they know each other? The answers that Thomas receives are not always the expected ones, but they are thought-provoking and challenging to Thomas and to the reader. It also becomes apparent that Kev is not the only captive and that there are threads which tie all of them together. The discussions contained within this story address legitimate real world problems of government, society and the absurdities of living a meaningful life. Thomas is outraged at the injustices he perceives and hankers for direction: ‘Don’t we deserve grand human projects that give us meaning?’. A fascinating and enlightening read, highly recommended for book clubs.

Children's Books: New releases for older readers

Recommended for 12+
Counting by 7s
by Holly Goldberg Sloan
July 2014 | Scholastic | $14.99pb

Willow Chance is twelve-years-old and quite the genius. She has an amazing knowledge of and ability to diagnose medical conditions and an incredible talent for planting and growing things. Her parents adopted her as a baby and they love and accept her many idiosyncrasies like counting by 7s when she is stressed or refusing to go to school because no one understands her. When her parents are killed in a car accident, Willow is alone with no-one to look after her. She is taken in by a Vietnamese girl and her family (so she quickly teaches herself Vietnamese!) but it is only temporary until a 'suitable' place becomes available for her. Willow deals with her grief and the uncertainty of her new life with help from her new friends and a very quirky school counsellor who seemingly needs her help as much as she needs his. The lives of everyone are changed for the better through their connection with Willow. This is a beautiful story about different kinds of families, about the need for connection and dealing with loss and change. It will make you laugh at times and maybe shed a tear or two as well.

Highly recommended for fans of Wonder by R.J. Palacio.



Recommended for 9+
Plenty
by Amanda Braxton-Smith
Aug 2014 | Black Dog Books | $14.95pb

Maddy Frank has always lived in the same house in Fitzroy. She belongs to a close community where everyone knows everyone and she has known her best friends as long as she can remember, so she is not happy when her parents tell her that they are moving to Plenty. Maddy feels that everything she loves has been taken away from her by her parents and she punishes them accordingly with anger and silence. At her new school she is befriended by Grace, a Sudanese refugee, whose family suffered much hardship to get to Australia and who loves and is grateful to be living in Plenty. Maddy is also reunited with her grandmother, who she has never really known, and discovers that she and her grandfather were also refugees who fled from the war in Greece to come to Australia. Plenty is a heart-warming story that explores themes of acceptance, friendship, coming of age and refugees.