Books in Print

independent Australian bookselling since 1988

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.