Books in Print

independent Australian bookselling since 1988

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

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+
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.  

18 Jul 2014

New Fiction Chapter Sample

The Miniaturist
by Jessie Burton
July 2014 | Picador | $29.99    *BiP price $24.95

10 Jul 2014

BiP eNews: Crime fiction reviews

BiP staff review by Leonie
Murder in the Telephone Exchange
by June Wright
Dec 2013 | Dark Passage | $24.95pb

This is a great discovery by Dark Passage Publishing. First published in 1948, Murder in the Telephone Exchange was a big hit, even out-selling a new Agatha Christie novel. Maggie Byrnes is a telephonist at the Melbourne telephone exchange and is depicted as bright and a bit of a rebel. When an unpopular member of staff is found murdered, Maggie decides to conduct her own investigation, much against the advice of the police. She finds herself in deep trouble. This book is witty and well paced. It shows a different Melbourne in post war Australia. What a pity that June's novels were lost to readers for so many years. I'll certainly be trying to track down some of her books.

BiP staff review by Leonie

Cop Town
by Karin Slaughter
July 2014 | Century | $32.99pb

Atlanta in the mid 1970's was a tough place. Even tougher, was the police force, rife with corruption and misogyny. Kate Murphy, a young Vietnam War widow, has the first day of the job from hell. Even Maggie Lawson, whose uncle and brother are well respected members of the force, is treated with contempt. When the girls become partners, they begin to conduct their own investigation into the killing of several cops, despite being warned not to do so. When Maggie's brother disappears, she and Kate find themselves searching in the dark side of town and in great danger. If you like a fast paced, gritty crime novel, this is for you.

BiP staff review by Leonie

The Silkworm
by Robert Galbraith
June 2014 | Hachette | $32.99pb    *BiP Price $27.95

The much anticipated sequel to The Cuckoo's Calling has arrived. Cormoran Strike is back with his assistant Robin. Strike is hired by the wife of a notorious novelist to find her husband. Owen Quine has delivered a vicious poison pen manuscript to his publisher. When he is found by Strike, brutally murdered, the search is on to find whom, of many suspects, is the killer.

The Silkworm is just as intriguing as The Cuckoo's Calling - I'm enjoying it very much.

>>>Read the first two chapers

Children's Books: New adventures for favourite characters

Recommended for 3+
Mr Chicken Lands on London
by Leigh Hobbs
July 2014 | Allen & Unwin | $24.99hb

Mr Chicken - one of Melbourne-based illustrator Leigh Hobbs' most eccentric and beloved creations - can't wait another minute, so he finishes his breakfast, collects his camera and flies to London. He wants to see everything, hang out with The Queen, catch a show...join Mr Chicken and let him show you his favourite city in all the world through the pages of this brand new picture book.

Recommended for 6+
Flat Stanley's Epic Canadian Adventure
by Jeff Brown & Sara Pennypacker
July 2014 | Egmont | $9.95pb

Stanley Lambchop, AKA Flat Stanley, is named thus because a large notice board fell on him leaving him only 1cm thick! Despite being very flat, Stanley is a hero and in this new book in the series, he and his family are in Canada for some skiing and winter fun. But when Stanley and his new friend Nick go snowboarding - with Stanley as the snowboard, of course - they take a midair tumble just as the wind picks up...and find themselves floating in an amazing Canadian cross-country journey that may just be Stanley's wildest adventure yet. 

There are other books in this now-classic series and, while stocks last, we have some fun wrist-snap bookmarks with any purchase in the Flat Stanley series.

Recommended for 10+

World of Skulduggery Pleasant: Armageddon Outta Here
by Derek Landy
July 2014 | HarperCollins | $19.95pb

Hot off the press, this collection of stories, including an exclusive, sneak peek chapter from the final instalment (yet to come) will not disappoint fans of the ghoulish Skulduggery books. One amazing new novella and three gripping new stories feature in this collection.