Books in Print

independent Australian bookselling since 1988

15 Jul 2016

BiP eNews: Some topical, thought-provoking books for young people

Recommended for 4+

by Angela May George and 
Owen Swan     $24.99hb

A little girl and her mother have fled their homeland, making the long and treacherous journey by boat to seek asylum. Out celebrates the triumph of the human spirit in the darkest times, and the many paths people take to build a new life. Owen Swan’s soft, evocative illustrations work so well with this touching story about starting a new life. This gorgeous picture book is a timely and sensitive discussion of what drives people to become refugees and the challenges they face without ever being confrontational.

A stunning book that challenges and rewards, and that is a lovely story to share with children of 4 and beyond.

The Bone Sparrow
by Zana Fraillon     $19.99pb

Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention centre after his mother fled the violence of a distant homeland, life behind the barbed wire fences is all he has ever known. As he grows, Subhi’s imagination gets bigger too, until it is bursting at the limits of his world. The Night Sea brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie, a scruffy, impatient girl who appears from the other side of the wires, bringing a notebook written by the mother she lost that she cannot read. Subhi, however, can read and together they unravel Jimmie’s family story.

It is difficult to convey just how important, timely, brave (very) and deeply moving we have found The Bone Sparrow. Subhi is as beautiful a character as any you wiill read in children’s fiction, Jimmie too in her own sparkling, bubbly way, but it is the events that unfold at the detention centre and the impact they will have on everyone in their wake that makes this story so compelling.

Highly – and really, we cannot recommend this one highly enough – recommended for readers of 12 and up.

Welcome to Orphancorp
by Marlee Jane Ward
Aug 2015 | $14.99pb

A sharp-edged semi-futuristic riff about a rebellious teenager’s last week at an industrial orphanage, Welcome to Orphancorp is inventive and evocative. Mirii has spent just about her entire life in the Orphancorp system and despite all odds, she has figured out how to turn the place into something resembling a home. Life is not easy in the Orphancorp system, life is short and hard but there are familial bonds to be made and the book focuses on the tenderness that the kids within the system work at, to retain their humanity in the face systemic degradation.

A confident and powerful debut for readers of 14 and up.

When Michael Met Mina
by Randa Abdel-Fattah

July 2016 | $18.99pb

A boy. A girl. Two families. One great divide. When Michael meets Mina, they are at a rally for refugees - standing on opposite sides. Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre. Michael's parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values. They want to stop the boats. Mina wants to stop the hate. When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael's private school, their lives crash together blindingly. A novel for anyone who wants to fight for love, and against injustice.

14 Jul 2016

eNews cont...

This Must Be the Place

Maggie O’Farrell

June 2016 | $32.99pb    ** BiP Price $27.99

Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel is a story about complicated, sometimes messy lives, with well-rounded characters that you either love or loathe, sometimes both at the same time. Daniel Sullivan, a linguistics expert from New York, was in Ireland to collect his grandfather’s ashes when he met Claudette and her son on a country road in Donegal. Claudette was a famous French film star until one day she disappeared from her screen life, leaving no trace of her whereabouts. She became somewhat of a recluse, living in the Irish countryside with her son. Ten years later Daniel and Claudette are happily married with two small children of their own. Daniel is about to return to New York, rather reluctantly, for his father’s ninetieth birthday. He has always had a difficult relationship with his father, preferring his mother’s company as a child and teenager. Claudette has encouraged Daniel, while he is in America, to make contact with Phoebe and Niall, the two children from his disastrous first marriage. The meeting goes surprisingly well, despite Phoebe’s initial fury at his abandonment of them so many years before. On his way back to Donegal Daniel takes a detour to London which causes great damage to his marriage to Claudette and his relationships with all his children. Reading Maggie O’Farrell is a bit like playing chess: you never quite know where the next chapter will take you. Highly recommended.          BiP staff review by Leonie

War and Turpentine
Stefan Hertmans

July 2016 | $29.99pb

Shortly before his death in 1981, Stefan Hertmans' grandfather gave him a couple of filled exercise books. Stories he had heard as a child had led Hertmans to suspect that their contents might be disturbing, and for years he did not dare to open them. When he finally did, he discovered unexpected secrets. His grandfather’s life was marked by years of childhood poverty in late-nineteenth-century Belgium, by horrific experiences on the frontlines during the First World War and by the loss of the young love of his life. He sublimated his grief in the silence of painting. Drawing on these diary entries, his childhood memories and the stories told within Urbain’s paintings, Hertmans has produced a poetic novelisation of his grandfather’s story, brought to life with great imaginative power and vivid detail. War and Turpentine is an enthralling search for a life that coincided with the tragedy of a century—and a posthumous, almost mythical attempt to give that life a voice at last.

Music and Freedom

Zoe Morrison

June 2016 | $32.99pb    ** BiP Price $27.95

Alice Murray learns to play the piano aged three on an orange orchard in rural Australia. Recognising her daughter's gift, her mother sends Alice to boarding school in the bleak north of England, and there Alice stays for the rest of her childhood. Then she is offered a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, and on a summer school in Oxford she meets Edward, an economics professor who sweeps her off her feet. Alice soon finds that Edwards is damaged, and she is trapped. She clings to her playing and to her dream of becoming a concert pianist, until disaster strikes. Increasingly isolated as the years unravel, eventually Alice cannot find it in herself to carry on. Then she hears the most beautiful music from the walls of her house… This novel's love story is that of a woman who must embrace life again if she is to survive. Inspiring and compelling, it explores the dark terrain of violence and the transformative powers of music and love.

The Toymaker

Liam Pieper

June 2016 | $29.99pb    
** BiP Price $26.95

Adam Kulakov likes his life. He is on the right side of middle age; the toy company he owns brightens the lives of children around the world; he has more money than he can ever spend, a wife and child he adores, and as many mistresses as he can reasonably hide from them. And he is not the only one with secrets. In 1944, Adam's grandfather, Arkady, was imprisoned in Auschwitz and given an impossible choice. Now, as he is coming to the end of his life, he has to keep the truth from his family, and hold back the crushing memories of his time with one of history's greatest monsters. As a mistake threatens to bring Adam's world tumbling down around him, the past reaches for Arkady. Everything he has spent a lifetime building will be threatened, as will everything Adam and his family think they know of the world. Bold, dark and compelling, The Toymaker is a novel about privilege, fear and the great harm we can do when we are afraid of losing what we hold dear.

The Hanging Club
Tony Parsons

May 2016 | $32.99pb

Max Wolfe and his daughter Scout return in the third book of the series by Tony Parsons. London is in the grip of a heatwave when the body of a taxi driver is found in the middle of Hyde Park, in a significant historical location. The police know exactly who he is after a video of his murder by hanging goes viral on the internet. Everyone is horrified and the media is in a frenzy. It is going to be an eventful summer for Max and Scout, who has just finished her first year of school. While walking home they see a homeless man outside Smithfield Market. Max recognizes the man’s voice: it is his best friend from school. What could have happened to Jackson Rose during the intervening years? They invite Jackson home to stay for a while. Was this the right thing to do? In quick succession a drunk driver who killed a child and a hate preacher are kidnapped. The police are faced with what appears to be a paramilitary group who have appointed themselves judge, jury and hangman. What is the connection between all of the victims? Who will be next? The Hanging Club is intriguing and fast-paced with great characters.          BiP staff review by Leonie

1 Jul 2016

BiP eNews - New Fiction

The winter publishing season has begun, with many good new books coming out every month. The Dry has been published to great acclaim and has become very popular with readers. Film rights have already been sold to Reece Witherspoon’s production company.

BiP staff review by Leonie
The Dry
Jane Harper     $32.99pb    ** BiP Price $27.95

Kiewarra is a small Victorian town, dying through years of drought and heatwaves. Like many small towns it lives on secrets, lies and suspicion of newcomers. Everyone is shocked when young farmer Luke Hadler is found shot dead, together with his wife Karen and son Billy. His baby daughter Charlotte has been left alive in her cot. The homicide team sent from nearby Clyde quickly sign off on the incident as a murder-suicide. Luke’s parents cannot believe that their son would kill his own family and beg Luke’s childhood best mate, Aaron Falk, to come back for the funerals. Aaron, who is now a Federal police officer specializing in financial crimes, reluctantly makes the long drive up from Melbourne. He left Kiewarra with his father many years earlier after they were both suspected of complicity in the suicide of Aaron’s teenaged friend Ellie Deacon. It does not take long for some of the locals to make it clear to Aaron that he is still not welcome, which makes his stay at the local pub even more unpleasant. After talking to Luke’s parents Falk goes out to the Hadlers’ farm, where he meets the new police sergeant, Raco, who also feels that there is something wrong. 
Jane has a distinctive writing style which draws you along page by page. Her descriptions of the town and the drought-stricken countryside are stunning. She has also managed to skilfully maintain an undercurrent of menace throughout the book. I was hooked by the end of the second paragraph. I love reading good books by new Melbourne authors.

Vinegar Girl - The Taming of the Shrew retold

Anne Tyler     $29.99pb    ** BiP price $24.95

Kate Battista is feeling stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she's always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but the adults do not always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner. Dr Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There's only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr…
When Dr Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he is relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he is really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men's touchingly ludicrous campaign to win her round? Anne Tyler's retelling of The Taming of the Shrew asks whether a thoroughly modern, independent woman like Kate would ever sacrifice herself for a man. The answer is as individual, off-beat and funny as Kate herself.

The Light of Paris
Eleanor Brown     $29.99pb

Chicago 1999. Madeleine is trapped – by her family’s expectations, by her controlling husband – in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. But when she finds a diary detailing her grandmother Margie’s trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets a woman she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict family and spent a summer living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist. When Madeleine’s marriage is threatened, she escapes to her hometown to stay with her disapproving mother. Shaken by the revelation of a family secret and inspired by her grandmother’s bravery, Madeleine creates her own summer of joy. In reconnecting with her love of painting and cultivating a new circle of friends, the chance of a new life emerges – but will she be bold enough take it?

The Lost Time Accidents
John Wray     $29.99pb

The Lost Time Accidents is a bold and epic saga that races through one family's experience of the twentieth century, embracing philosophy, science, history and politics along the way. Haunted by a failed love affair and the darkest of family secrets, Waldemar 'Waldy' Tolliver wakes one morning to discover that he has been exiled from the flow of time. The world continues to turn, and Waldy is desperate to find his way back. In his fiercely inventive new novel John Wray takes us from turn-of-the-century Viennese salons buzzing with rumours about Einstein's radical new theory to the death camps of the Second World War, from the golden age of post-war pulp science fiction to a startling discovery in a modern-day Manhattan apartment packed to the ceiling with artefacts of contemporary life.

The Unfortunate Englishman
John Lawton     $29.99pb

After he shot someone in what he believed was self-defence in the chaos of 1963 Berlin, Joe Wilderness finds himself locked up with little chance of escape. But an official pardon through his father-in-law Burne-Jones, a senior agent at MI6, means he is free to go - although forever in Burne-Jones's service. His latest operation will take him back to Berlin, which is now the dividing line between the West and the Soviets. A story of innocence and intrigue unravels, one in which Wilderness is in and out of Berlin and Vienna like a jack-in-the-box. When the Russians started building the Berlin wall in 1961, two 'Unfortunate Englishmen' were trapped on opposite sides: Geoffrey Masefield in the Lubyanka, and Bernard Alleyn (alias KGB Captain Leonid Liubimov) in Wormwood Scrubs. In 1965 there is a new plan to exchange the prisoners, a swap upon Berlin's bridge of spies. But, as ever, Joe has something on the side, just to make it interesting, just to make it profitable. The Unfortunate Englishman is a thrilling tale of Khrushchev, Kennedy, a spy exchange... and 10,000 bottles of fine Bordeaux. What can possibly go wrong?

Breaking Cover
Stella Rimington     $27.99pb

A new Cold War is coming, and Liz Carlyle is about to find herself on very thin ice. Back in London after a gruelling operation in Paris, she has been posted to MI5's counter-espionage desk. Her bosses hope the new position will give her some breathing space, but they haven't counted on the fallout from Putin's incursions into the Ukraine. Discovering that an elusive Russian spy has entered the UK, Liz needs to track him down before he completes his fatal mission - and plunges Britain back into the fraught days of the Cold War. Meanwhile, following the revelations of whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the intelligence services are in the spotlight. In response to the debate raging around privacy and security, they hire Jasminder Kapoor, a young and controversial civil rights lawyer, to explain the issues to the public. But in this new world of shadowy motives and secret identities, Jasminder must be extra-careful about whom she can trust. Gripping, tense and drawn from her own experience as Head of MI5, Stella Rimington's latest thriller brings the new Cold War vividly to life.

BiP eNews (cont.) - New Picture Books for Children

Recommended for 3+
The Snow Wombat
Susannah Chambers and Mark Jackson

It is refreshing to come across an Australian picture book set in the snow, and The Snow Wombat, set in Australia’s High Country, is just stunning. Meeting animals, birds and people along his path, a little wombat makes his way through the cold landscape to his cosy burrow. The story itself is rhythmic, with just the right amount of repetition to keep young readers guessing what the wombat will do next. Lovely endpapers (a map of the wombat’s journey, recalling E. H. Shepard’s delicious endpapers that grace The Wind in the Willows) and the expressive face of the wombat make this picture book a stand out. Perfect for reading aloud.

Recommended for 4+

The Detective Dog
Julia Donaldson and Sara Ogilvie

When a crime needs solving... There is only one dog for the job!
And that fabulous dog just happens to be the multi-talented Detective Dog Nell, the latest lively creation of Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo and many, many more books that children and parents both adore). Nell’s human Peter takes her to school one Monday morning where tragedy has struck – all of the books in the library have been stolen! Luckily, Nell has a nose for solving crimes…this book is classic Julia Donaldson, replete with singsong language, clever rhymes and tonnes of jokes for the reader layered in the text. Sara Ogilvie is a great new match for Donaldson – her whimsical illustrations suit this story so well. This book is destined to become a much-loved classic.

Recommended for 5+

Jeanne Baker


A new book by Jeanne Baker always heralds much celebration and Circle is… Well, it’s simply breathtaking. From the creator of the critically acclaimed Where the Forest Meets the Sea and Mirror, comes a poetic, eco-conscious picture book which explores the complex interdependency of nature. This is the story of the little-known Bar-tailed Godwit who, following invisible pathways that have been used for thousands of years, undertakes the longest unbroken migration of any bird, a total of 11,000 kilometres, flying from their breeding grounds in Alaska across the Pacific Ocean to Australia or New Zealand. Facing hunger and treacherous conditions to reach their destination, their flight is one of bravery, tenacity and strength, and Jeannie's stunning mixed media collages, inspired first-hand by the spectacular landscapes of Alaska and China, will amaze readers, and take them on an extraordinary visual journey to the corners of our Earth. Baker’s pictures are, as ever, incredible, the sort of imagery that children and adults alike pore over for hours and the message is, typically, bang on.