13 May 2015

BiP eNews: New and forthcoming titles

BiP staff review by Deborah

The Reader on the 6.27
Jean- Paul Didierlaurent
May 2015 | Mantle | $24.99hb

The Reader on the 6.27 explores the power of books through the lives of the people they save. Guylain Vignolles lives on the edge of existence. He works at a book pulping factory in a job he hates, but at the end of every day he salvages loose pages from the huge pulping machine which dominates the factory. Then, sitting on the 6.27am train each day on the way to work, Guylain recites aloud from the pages he has saved. His fellow passengers are enthralled. It is this release of words into the world that starts our hero on a journey that will finally bring meaning into his life. For one morning, Guylain discovers the diary of a lonely young woman: Julie. A woman who feels as lost in the world as he does. As he reads from these pages to a rapt audience, Guylain finds himself falling hopelessly in love with their enchanting author . . . The Reader on the 6.27 is a tale bursting with larger-than-life characters, each of whom touches Guylain's life for the better. This captivating novel is a warm, funny fable about literature's power to uplift even the most downtrodden of lives. I found this love story with a difference quirky, entertaining and uplifting – I ended up with a smile on my face.

BiP staff review by Leonie

A Year of Marvellous Ways
Sarah Winman
June 2015 | Headline | $29.99pb

Four years ago a charming book called When God was a Rabbit appeared in bookstores. It was the first novel by young English author Sarah Winman and it quickly became a favourite with many of our readers, including me. In her second work the eponymous Marvellous Ways is an intriguing eighty-nine-year-old woman who lives a hermitic life in Cornwall. She has spent much of her younger life as a midwife to her seaside community. Is she the daughter of a mermaid, as she sometimes claims? Marvellous first appears standing by the side of a road, after a dream left her feeling that something important is coming.
It is now the late 1940s; the war is over but life in England and Cornwall is still a long way from returning to normal. On a ferry from France a very seasick young man, Francis Drake, is finally returning home after a very tough time during the war. He has a mission to pass on a letter to the father of a dead soldier who begged Drake to take the letter to Cornwall in person. But first he stops in London to rediscover his childhood haunts and hopefully to find his friend Missy. He lost contact with her after he was sent to France. This is a magical book. Sara Winman has a wonderful lightness of touch. It has whimsical humour, grief, magic, friendship and love. All too often second books from authors are disappointing but definitely not A Year of Marvellous Ways. It is a great read and a wonderful book for book groups.

BiP staff review by Leonie

Myfanwy Jones
June 2015 | Allen & Unwin | $26.99pb

Joe and Jen were high school sweethearts, with big plans for the future, once their final exams were over. While at a party, during the summer, Joe and Jen had an argument with Joe choosing to leave on his own. The next day Jen is dead. Three years later, still weighed down by grief and guilt, Joe has abandoned his plans for university and a career. He shares a rental house with two other young men, and works at low-paid cafe and bar jobs. He fills his spare time training at Parkour under inner-city bridges. (Leap takes place in inner suburban Melbourne which makes for an interesting read, trying to envisage where each scene is taking place.) Then there is Elise, a middle-aged woman who spends many hours sitting in front of the tiger enclosure, studying the tigers and learning their ways. She takes up painting again to help with the pain of the breakup of her marriage. Joe is no longer able to shut out the world, despite his grief. An intriguing girl turns up on the doorstep one day, looking for a room. There is also Lena, the skateboarding chef from the bar where he works at night. Out of the blue he is contacted on Facebook by someone calling themself ‘Emily Dickinson’ and wanting to talk about Jen. How do all of these characters fit together? Despite the thread of grief which runs through Leap there is also a glimmer of something like hope. Leap is a brilliant title for Myfanwy Jones’ wonderful book. As you read you will understand how appropriate. It is a special treat to read a great novel set in your own city, beautifully written and with such memorable characters.

BiP guest review by Graeme Walton

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematorium
Caitlin Doughty
May 2015 | Canongate | $27.99pb

Caitlin Doughty entered the fascinating world of funeral service in the San Francisco Bay area at the age of twenty-three. Her first job was to shave a deceased man. This book follows her journey in an arcane and totally fulfilling profession that is a mystery to most of us. Caitlin shares stories of people at their most vulnerable when a loved one dies..... and the frequent occasions when tears and laughter are both present. The one thing that stands out is the total care and respect for the deceased that is Caitlin’s experience. This, too, is my experience as a funeral director in Melbourne. This is a beautifully written work in which she traces the history of funeral service in many cultures over the centuries. Like many professionals in the industry she laments the fact that we are probably the first generation to ignore the reality of death and not to treat it as the profound reality that it is. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is moving, funny and informative. Caitlin is now a renowned speaker on the world stage on how we treat death and funerals; her book contains an extensive list of references for those who wish to learn more on the subjects she covers. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is highly recommended to those who wish to go behind the funeral home doors and to fellow professionals who want an insight into the industry in the United States.

BiP eNews cont...

Recommended for 4+

Wendy and The Wallpaper Cat
Jason Hook & Ilaria Demonti
May 2015 | V&A Publications | $24.99hb

Wendy can't sleep, no matter what she tries. She counts sheep, reads books and even turns somersaults, but nothing works. Eventually Wendy's parents take her on holiday to stay at her grandpa Walter’s house, and he invites Wendy to stay in whichever room is her favourite. Wendy is amazed to discover interiors covered in wallpapers that come to life, and their sights, sounds and smells fill her head with images and ideas. As she wanders happily from room to room, she finally finds a way to drift off. Featuring the work of artist and designer Walter Crane, this book – published by The Victoria and Albert Museum – is a romp through his extraordinary imagination. Beautiful and funny, too, it’s one of our favourite picture books.    BiP staff review by Lucinda

Recommended for 13+

I’ll Be There
Holly Goldberg Sloan
April 2015 | Scholastic | $16.99pb

It isn’t often that a character in book stays with you long after the final page turn, keeps you wondering about what will happen to him next, but Holly Goldberg Sloan – author of the wonderful Counting By Sevens – has done so again in I’ll Be There. This is the story of Sam, raised by an abusive father on the run from the law, dragged from town to town with his younger asthmatic brother Riddle in tow. Life for Sam and Riddle is lonely and grim, their father exerting total and utter control over their lives. The boys don’t attend school and friends are definitely out of the question. One day Sam wanders into a church to listen to the choir and hears Emily singing. Emily is so terrified of singing to the crowd that she decides to focus on one face, and that face happens – luckily – to be Sam’s. Theirs is an instant connection, and this chance encounter profoundly changes both of their lives. Ultimately, Sam triumphs over the immense adversity life has thrown his way as his, Riddle’s and Emily’s lives entwine. The characters in this novel are so well developed and endearing and their stories are powerful enough to make them truly unforgettable.    BiP staff review by Cathy

Recommended for 13+

A Single Stone
Meg McKinlay
May 2015 | Walker Books | $16.95pb

Cut off from the outside world by a catastrophic earth tremor years earlier, the people trapped in the village at the heart of this novel develop their own system of survival. With little to grow and eat, the village must do whatever it can in isolation to continue; they tunnel deep into the mountains that tower over and encircle their village to harvest the mica that provides them with the fuel to go on. Every girl dreams of being part of the line - the chosen seven who harvest it - and no work is more important. Jena is the leader of The Line and, as all girls must be, she is small. Years of tough, physical training have seen to that. But what happens when one tiny discovery makes Jena question everything she has ever known? What happens when moving a single stone changes everything? This genuinely original, thought-provoking and beautifully-written story will, as with Holly Goldberg Sloan’s I’ll Be There, stay with readers long after the book has been finished. Wonderful.    BiP staff review by Cathy

29 Apr 2015

BiP eNews - New non-fiction

BiP staff review by Christine

Dead Wake: The Last Voyage of the Lusitania
Erik Larson
Apr 2015 | Scribe | $35pb

Erik Larson, author of In The Garden of Beasts and The Devil in the White City, has reminded us of another centenary in his excellent re-telling of the Lusitania sinking one hundred years ago on 7th May 1915. Larson has diligently researched his subject and presents it from various viewpoints: the American and British governments and their espionage activities; Winston Churchill and the Admiralty; Cunard, the ship’s owners; the ship’s captain William Turner and also vignettes on chosen passengers of interest. But by far the most interesting portraits Larson paints are of the German U-boat’s captain and crew who actually sank the hapless ship. I found Larson’s descriptions quite riveting. Naturally any decent disaster deserves, and usually gets, some good conspiracy theories attached to it and Larson provides plenty of ‘grist to the mill’. Dead Wake fleshed out my patchy knowledge of the Lusitania’s final voyage and I found it truly gripping and enthralling.

BiP staff review by Chris

Inventing Her Own Weather: A Biography of Thea Astley
Karen Lamb
May 2015 | UQP | $32.95pb

Born in Brisbane in 1925, Thea Astley grew up in a family where her parents were not close. Karen Lamb describes how her strict Catholic upbringing and later work in remote locations as a teacher led Astley to see herself as ‘set apart’. She developed an engaging public personality as a prominent Australian author, yet kept her private life out of the public eye. Her books, however, were full of her experiences: ‘I work from life, as I know it, as I have known it’. Lamb puts in context Astley’s beginnings as a writer in an era when women writers were not regarded as equal to their male counterparts. Even though she won the Miles Franklin Literary Award four times, Thea Astley felt that she was a writer who was ‘out of favour’. Karen Lamb has had considerable experience researching Australian literature. Inventing Her Own Weather is the first full literary biography of one of Australia’s best writers of the second half of the twentieth century. It is an important resource for students of Australian literature and an insight into the life of an author whose own existence was such a profound influence and source of inspiration for her writing.

BiP eNews - New cookery

Yotam Ottolenghi has, through his columns for The Guardian and subsequent successful books, elevated vegetarian cooking from its brown rice and tofu roots to heights unthinkable even a decade ago. Lusciously photographed and fascinating for both cook and eater alike, Plenty and Plenty More have shown that vegetarian food is no longer the preserve of those who shun meat – vegetarian food has (at last, some would say) gone mainstream.

Two new and exceptionally beautiful cookbooks have recently caught our attention. Vegetarian they may be, and healthy to boot, but, as with Ottolenghi, you’d never know.

BiP staff review by Lucinda

The Unbakery: Over 150 Recipes for Beautiful Raw Food
Megan May
Mar 2015 | Murdoch | $45hb

Megan May is the chef/owner of award-winning Auckland cafes Little Bird Organics and The Unbakery, restaurants serving fascinating food that proves eating raw isn't limited to salad and is, in fact, anything but dull. May is well-known in her homeland, but perhaps not so well known over here. This, her first book, will no doubt change that. Featuring purely plant-based recipes that cover everything from breakfast, lunch and dinner through to a large and surprising dessert section, this book is for the serious and adventurous cook. If you are that cook (or should that be un-cook?), you’ll find The Unbakery’s back to nature approach inspiring. Stunning photographs - for we eat with our eyes as well - by fellow Kiwi Lottie Hedley complete the picture. Everything I’ve made thus far has been stellar: the chocolate swirl cheesecake (not a scrap of dairy in sight) really convinced the unbelievers at my table.

BiP staff review by Lucinda

My New Roots: Irresistible, Natural Food that Happens to be Good For You
Sarah Britton
Apr 2015 | Macmillan | $44.99hb

Nutritionist Sarah Britton's blog My New Roots draws over two million views a month, and her vibrant vegetarian dishes really do deliver. The My New Roots cookbook offers (mostly) all new recipes that will appeal to Britton’s devoted fans, as well as those discovering her work for the first time. Free from processed ingredients such as refined flours and sugars, My New Roots embraces all-natural ingredients and is designed to satisfy and make you feel energised. I’m particularly pleased to see the recipe for her Life-changing Loaf of Bread here – it’s something I’ve made often and it never fails to please. Lovely Scandinavian light floods Britton's photographs, making the book a lovely object, yes, but one you’ll want to to cook with nonetheless.

15 Apr 2015

BiP eNews - New fiction

BiP staff review by Leonie

At the Water’s Edge
Sara Gruen
May 2015 | Allen & Unwin | $32.99pb

In the first week of its release in the United States Sara Gruen’s new novel reached The New York Times’ Top Ten bestsellers’ list, which is not surprising. At the Water’s Edge is an engrossing, atmospheric story set in the Scottish Highlands during the last years of World War Two. Madeline Hyde and her husband Ellis, both from wealthy Philadelphia families, have been cut off by Ellis’s father for disgracing his family at a high society party. Unwanted by her own father, Maddie reluctantly accompanies Ellis and his best friend Hank on a hare-brained quest to find the Loch Ness monster. After a harrowing and dangerous sea voyage, the travellers arrive at their destination – a tiny village – in the dark and in the bitter cold. The landlord, Angus, is not welcoming and the inn is shabby, with no lighting apart from a few candles. Used to being pampered all their lives, Maddie, Ellis and Hank find wartime conditions in rural Scotland rather trying. The villagers struggle every day to find food and fuel; three strangers have put an extra burden on them. Ellis and Hank start drinking heavily while out on their search each day with Maddie. When they lose patience with her attempts at sighting the monster, Maddie is left behind. Lonely and afraid, Maddie finally approaches Anna, the dour, long-serving maid, to ask if she can help with the cleaning. She is eventually befriended by Anna and Meg, the barmaid. As she learns about the villagers and their hard lives Maddie realizes how sheltered she has been and how appalling the behaviour of her husband and Hank seems. She realizes she must make some serious changes to her life. If At the Water’s Edge is beginning to sound like a romantic novel it is, but it is much, much more. For all the fans of Like Water for Elephants.

BiP staff review by Leonie

After the Crash
Michel Bussi
Apr 2015 | Hachette | $29.99pb

On 22nd December 1980 an aeroplane crashes in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland, close to the border with France. It is filled with holidaymakers who were returning to Paris from Spain in time for Christmas. There are no survivors except for a baby girl. Two families come forward to claim the baby as their grandchild. The de Carvilles, a wealthy family who live just outside Paris, are certain that the baby is Lyse-Rose, their son’s second daughter. Malvina, Lyse-Rose’s six-year-old sister, had stayed in Paris with her grandparents while her parents and baby sister went to Spain on business. The Vitrals live in Dieppe, a fishing port, and they are sure that the rescued baby is Emilie, whose parents had won a holiday in Spain, leaving two-year-old Marc at home with his grandparents. The decision on the baby girl’s identity is made by a judge from the children’s court in Paris. Eighteen years later, Credule Grand-Duc, a private detective hired by Mathilde de Carville to investigate for her family, has admitted defeat to himself after years of searching. He has written a journal with all of his findings to pass on to both families. As he prepares to end his life he pulls out an old newspaper, dated 23rd December 1980. His eyes fall on an article which changes everything. Before he can tell anyone about this discovery he is murdered. Michel Bussi is a very popular author in France, where he has won fifteen literary awards for his crime fiction. After the Crash is an exciting and intriguing tale which does not let you know what is about to happen until the last few chapters.

BiP staff review by Christine

The Trivia Man
Deborah O’Brien
June 2015 | Bantam | $32.99pb

Available 1st June 2015

Kevin is a nerdy forty-something forensic accountant; his passions are facts, figures and his information notebooks. He is a loner and a one-man quiz champion who is happy with his lot, although he is often bemused by life. When he wins the first round of the Clifton Heights Sports Club trivia competition solo he is headhunted by the other contestants to join their teams. He would prefer to be on his own until he meets Maggie Taylor, a Latin teacher and movie buff, who is good at her job but unlucky in love. Nagged by her friend Carole about getting out and meeting people, Maggie reluctantly joins the trivia team founded by Carole’s husband Edward. Over a season of trivia nights, Kevin, Maggie and her team experience arguments and crises, friendships and romances, heartbreaks and new beginnings. Kevin’s life is upended in an amiable, charming fashion. The Trivia Man is an agreeable way to spend a few hours – entertaining and affable.

2 Apr 2015

BiP eNews - New fiction!

BiP staff review by Leonie

A God in Ruins
Kate Atkinson
May 2015 | Doubleday | $32.99pb   *BiP price $27.99

 Available 1st May 2015

Kate Atkinson has continued her story of life in the Second World War through the lives of the Todd and Shawcross families, who were introduced in her previous novel Life After Life. That was the story of Ursula Todd, and what a jigsaw puzzle of a tale that was. A God in Ruins is a companion piece according to Kate Atkinson, not a sequel. This book tells the story of Teddy, Ursula’s brother. After a childhood in the country and surviving boarding school, Teddy grew into a quiet, thoughtful man, with little ambition. He started off in banking, like his father. He really disliked his career and gladly joined the Royal Air Force, where he qualified as a pilot and joined a Halifax bomber squadron. The Second World War was long, hard and dangerous for Teddy and his crewmen. While on leave he finally plucked up courage to ask his childhood friend, Nancy Shawcross, to marry him. They waited until the war was over and then both took up teaching. Eventually they had a daughter, Viola. Teaching was a misery for Teddy until one day he just walked out of his classroom and never returned. He found happiness writing a nature column in the local newspaper which led to his career as a journalist. Teddy’s relationship with his grandchildren, Bertie and Sonny, was a warm and loving one, as Viola was a terrible mother, which she admitted years later. This is a very simple outline of a book that initially seems straightforward, but it definitely is not. Teddy’s story folds backwards and forwards, giving different perspectives of the same events.

Click here to read Tom Perrotta's review

BiP staff review by Leonie

Goodbye Sweetheart
Marion Halligan
Apr 2015 | Allen & Unwin | $29.99pb

Marion Halligan is back with her first novel since Valley of Grace in 2009, with her elegant style and gift for description. It is well worth the wait. Goodbye Sweetheart opens with the line “This story begins by water” – what an intriguing start. William Cecil is exercising alone, in his local pool in Canberra. A sudden heart attack and his life is over. He leaves behind a loving wife, two ex-wives and three children, one from each marriage. Once the shock of the news has sunk in, the families gather together. Lynette, William’s third wife and a successful business woman, and her daughter Erin are both distraught. Fergus, the son of the second wife, Helen, is summoned home from university in England, where he is studying literature and falling in love with red-haired Beatrice. Jack, William’s brother, arrives from Eden on the coast where he has lived since retirement. He is still grieving for his wife and William’s death is another blow. Next to arrive is Aurora, daughter of the first wife, Nerys. Mother and daughter are polar opposites, but wonderful characters. The biggest surprise for the family is the unexpected visit of Barbara, William’s mistress. Everyone begins to wonder just who was this man – husband, father, lover, brother and successful lawyer. Each member of the family has a different view of William, especially Helen, the second wife. Marion Halligan describes the conflicting emotions of the family so honestly. She portrays the countryside and cityscapes so vividly you are able to see in detail what she is describing.

1 Apr 2015

BiP eNews - Young adult fiction

BiP staff review by Cathy and Lucinda

Recommended for 15+

The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and his Ex
Gabrielle Williams
Apr 2015 | Allen & Unwin | $17.99pb

This excellent new novel by the author of Beatle meets Destiny and The Reluctant Hallelujah should, we hope, see Gabrielle Williams recognised as one of Australia’s best writers for young adults. Set in the streets of inner Melbourne during the late eighties, this extraordinary story revolves around the infamous theft of Picasso’s painting ‘The Weeping Woman’ from the National Gallery of Victoria, a real event that shook the conservative art world to its core at the time and a crime that has not – to this day – been solved.

‘The Artist’ of the title, Luke, is an immensely talented but frustrated painter. He, like many emerging artists, wants more money for young and upcoming creatives and feels the lack of public arts funding keenly. Along with fellow artist and part-time security guard at the NGV, Dipper, they hatch a plan with the enigmatic but shady art dealer, Real, to steal ‘The Weeping Woman’ and replace it with a forgery, an act of cultural terrorism.

‘The Ex’ is Penny, Luke’s long-suffering ex-girlfriend. Penny is doing it tough, bringing up their son, Joshie with absolutely no help or support from the uncaring and selfish Luke. Penny lives in the same building as seventeen year old Rafi, ‘The Girl’. Rafi lives with her mother, a woman haunted by the death, many years earlier, of Rafi’s three year old brother – she believes her son was taken by La Llorona, the tortured spirit of a woman who drowned her children to be with the man she loved. La Llorona, when translated from Spanish becomes, ironically, The Weeping Woman.

When Rafi meets ‘The Guy’ at a party, events are set in motion and the four worlds collide with far reaching consequences for everyone involved.

The characters in this remarkable novel are so well realised and their voices so truthful that as a reader you are completely immersed in their story and care deeply about what happens to them. Every life in this tale is changed irrevocably as they wind into one incredible yet completely believable thread. We really, really loved this book. It’s our hope that stories like this will encourage teenage readers to put down their phone/device for a while and experience the immense pleasure to be had in reading a good book instead.    Highly recommended for readers 15+

BiP staff review by Karen
Recommended for 10+

Prince of Afghanistan
Louis Nowra
Apr 2015 | Allen & Unwin | $16.99pb

Mark is a soldier in the Australian Army and has parachuted into Taliban territory on a mission to rescue three doctors who have been taken hostage. Mark’s childhood friend Casey and his Doberman dog Prince are part of the platoon. When the rescue mission takes a turn for the worse, Casey is shot. Shaking with panic, Mark has to make a split second decision – he grabs  Prince’s collar and heads off into the unforgiving Afghani terrain, hoping Prince will be able to guide him to safety. Extreme temperatures, not knowing who is friend or who is foe, Mark and Prince must face many challenges as they fight for survival. A taught, gripping thriller set in a very contemporary war zone about the bond between man and beast.

BiP staff review by Karen
Recommended for 12+

Crystal Force
Joe Ducie
Apr 2015 | Hot Key Books | $16.95pb

On the run after escaping from what was supposed to be the world's most secure juvenile facility – the action-packed storyline of the first book in this series, The Rig – Will Drake knows it's only a matter of time before the sinister Alliance catches up with him. But Drake is in need of an alliance of his own. Knowing who to trust is becoming increasingly difficult. To top it off, his arm has started to mutate into an impenetrable black crystal after encountering the mysterious substance Crystal X, and although it gives him a superhuman-like ability to fight, it might also be causing him to lose his mind. Can Drake really keep running forever? And who should he trust - his so-called friends or the voices in his head? This eagerly awaited sequel to The Rig is, at last, in store.    For readers of 12 plus.

BiP staff review by Karen
Recommended for 9+

New Boy
By Nick Earls
Apr 2015 | Puffin | $14.99

Adjusting to a new country and a new school was never going to be easy for Herschelle. The food is strange, it's so different to South Africa and, worst of all, no-one understands the Aussie slang he's learnt on the web. But it's the similarities that make things really hard. Herschelle will have to confront racism, bullying and his own past before Australia can feel like home. Fans of Morris Gleitzman will love this newbie by the wonderful Nick Earls – a funny, warm and touching read.    Suitable for readers of 9 and up.

28 Mar 2015


Buy any Glen Maxwell book and go in the draw to win a SIGNED mini CRICKET BAT!

The winner will be drawn on SATURDAY 11th APRIL

18 Mar 2015

Signed copies available while stocks last

At Books in Print we love to meet authors and illustrators. We feel so lucky to meet these interesting and creative people - and when the author is an international superstar we feel even luckier. We were thrilled beyond words to recently meet American novelist/cartoonist Stephan Pastis, author of one of our favourite children's series, Timmy Failure.

“For me as a kid, I liked to laugh. And I’m hoping this book does that for both kids and their parents. I just really want to give them a story that has something humorous in every chapter.”

Stephan told us that if a storyline he's working on makes him laugh heartily, it's in, if not... it's out! This is an author seriously in touch with his inner child, and kids seriously love his work. Books in Print, along with Walker Books, took Stephan along to a packed, captive audience at Mount Waverley Primary School recently - he was an huge success.

Stephan also very kindly dropped in to Books in Print and signed some copies of Timmy Failure (Books 1 & 2) for the shop. Stephan's signature incorporates a unique cartoon of a Timmy Failure character in each book he's signed. Stocks are limited, so get in quick!

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

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

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

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+