One of my delights in life is curling up with the cat and getting lost in a good book. But picking from the latest batch of enticing titles can be baffling so to help here's the latest good books review for you.
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Novels to Inspire
Attica Locke RRP$24.95
The American South in the twenty-first century. A plantation owned for generations by a rich family. So much history. And a dead body.
Just after dawn, Caren walks the grounds of Belle Vie, the historic plantation house in Louisiana that she has managed for four years. Today she sees nothing unusual, apart from some ground that has been dug up by the fence bordering the sugar cane fields. Assuming an animal has been out after dark, she asks the gardener to tidy it up. Not long afterwards, he calls her to say it's something else. Something terrible. A dead body.
At a distance, she missed her. The girl, the dirt and the blood. Now she has police on site, an investigation in progress, and a member of staff no one can track down. And Caren keeps uncovering things she will wish she didn't know. As she's drawn into the dead girl's story, she makes shattering discoveries about the future of Belle Vie, the secrets of its past, and sees, more clearly than ever, that Belle Vie, its beauty, is not to be trusted.
A magnificent, sweeping story of the south, The Cutting Season brings history face-to-face with modern America, where Obama is president, but some things will never change. Attica Locke once again provides an unblinking commentary on politics, race, the law, family and love, all within a thriller every bit as gripping and tragic as her first novel, Black Water Rising.
About the Author
Attica Locke's first novel, Black Water Rising, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Attica is also a screenwriter who has written for Paramount, Warner Bros, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, HBO, Dreamworks and Silver Pictures. She was a fellow at the Sundance Institute's Feature Filmmakers Lab and is a graduate of Northwestern University. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, with her husband and daughter.
Barbara Hannay RRP$29.99
Coming home can break your heart . . . or change your life.
For Bella Fairburn, a girl from the bush, her new life in Europe is a dream come true. But news of the beloved father's heart attack brings Bella rushing back to Australia along with her aunt Liz, an acclaimed musician who's been living in London for the past thirty years.
Coming home is fraught with emotional danger for both Bella and Liz. While Bella is confident she can deal with drought, bushfires and bogged cattle, she dreads facing her neighbour. Gabe Mitchell is the man she once hoped to marry, but he's also the man who broke her heart.
And for Liz, Mullinjim holds a painful secret that must never be revealed . . .
In the rugged beauty of the outback, new futures beckon, but Bella and Liz must first confront the heartaches of the past.
About the Author
Multi-award-winning author Barbara Hannay is a city-bred girl with a yen for country life. Most of her forty-plus books are set in rural and outback Australia and have been enjoyed by readers around the world. In her own version of life imitating art, Barbara and her husband currently live on a misty hillside in beautiful Far North Queensland where they keep heritage pigs, hens, ducks, turkeys and an untidy but productive garden.
Zoe's Muster has been shortlisted for the Romance Writers of America 2013 RITA award.
Fiona McFarlane RRP$29.99
One morning Ruth wakes thinking a tiger has been in her seaside house. Later that day a formidable woman called Frida arrives, looking as if she's blown in from the sea. In fact she's come to care for Ruth. Frida and the tiger: both are here to stay, and neither is what they seem. Which of them can Ruth trust? And as memories of her childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency, can she even trust herself?
The Night Guest is mesmerising novel about love, dependence, and the fear that the things you know best can become the things you're least certain about. It introduces a writer who comes to us fully formed, working wonders with language, renewing our faith in the power of fiction to tap the mysterious workings of our minds, and keeping us spellbound.
About the Author
Fiona McFarlane was born in Sydney, and has degrees in English from Sydney University and Cambridge University, and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Michener Fellow. Her work has been published in Zoetrope: All-Story, Southerly, the Best Australian Stories and the New Yorker, and she has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Phillips Exeter Academy and the Australia Council for the Arts. The Night Guest, her debut novel, has sold into fifteen territories around the world. She lives in Sydney.
Colin McAdam RRP$27.99
A thrilling work of fiction about our species, the meaning of family and the possibilities of love.
Walt and Judy's happiness has been blighted by their childlessness; although their marriage seems blissful, Judy feels increasingly empty and Walt longs to make her happy again. So one day he brings home Looee -a baby chimpanzee. Looee, exuberant and demanding, immediately fills the gap in Walt and Judy's life, and they come to love him as their own son. Like any child, Looee is affectionate and quick to learn, generous and engaging. But he is also a deeply unpredictable animal, and one night their unique family life is changed forever.
At the Girdish Institute, chimpanzees have been studied for decades to prove that they are political, altruistic, often angry but also capable of forgiveness. The chimps at the Institute travel a parallel path to Looee's; they experience friendship, loss and rivalry, just as he does. When these two paths meet, startling truths are revealed about all great apes, captive and free, beloved or abandoned.
Told alternately from the perspective of humans and chimpanzees, A Beautiful Truth is a profound and gripping story about the things we hold sacred and the truths of nature we so often ignore.
About the Author
Colin McAdam has written for Harper's and The Walrus. His novel Some Great Thing won the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award and was nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best first book, and for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. His second novel, Fall, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and awarded the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize. He lives in Toronto.
Sara Gran RRP$29.99
"The eagerly awaited second book in the Claire DeWitt mystery series, featuring "one of the genre's most original characters in years . . . as if David Lynch directed a Raymond Chandler novel." (CNN)" When Paul Casablancas, Claire DeWitt's musician ex-boyfriend, is found dead in his Mission District home, the police are convinced it's a simple robbery. But Claire knows nothing is ever simple. With the help of her new assistant, Claude, Claire follows the clues, finding hints to Paul's fate in her other cases--especially that of a missing girl in the gritty 1980s East Village and a modern-day miniature horse theft in Marin.
As visions of the past reveal the secrets of the present, Claire begins to understand the words of the enigmatic French detective Jacques Silette: "The detective won't know what he is capable of until he encounters a mystery that pierces his own heart." And love, in all its forms, is the greatest mystery of all--at least to the world's greatest PI. An addictive new adventure featuring an irresistible heroine.
Jonathan Grimwood RRP $27.99
A story of revolution and one man's insatiable hunger.
Jean-Marie Charles d'Aumout is many things. Orphan, soldier, diplomat, spy, lover. And chef.
This is his story.
We meet Jean-Marie d'Aumout as a penniless orphan eating beetles by the side of the road. His fate is changed after an unlikely encounter finds him patronage and he is sent to military academy. Despite his frugal roots, and thanks to wit and courage in great measure, he grows up to become a diplomat and spy.
Rising through the ranks of eighteenth-century French society, he feasts with lords, ladies and eventually kings, at the Palace of Versailles itself.
Passion, political intrigue and international adventure abound in Jean Marie's life, yet his drive stems from a single obsession: the pursuit of the perfect taste. Three-Snake Bouillabaisse, Pickled Wolf's Heart and Flamingo Tongue are just some of the delicacies he devours on his journey towards the ultimate feast.
But beyond the palace walls, revolution is in the air and the country is clamouring with hunger of a different kind.
About the Author
Jonathan Grimwood has written for the Guardian, The Times, the Telegraph and the Independent. He is married to the journalist and novelist Sam Baker. They divide their time between Winchester and Paris.
Hiromi Kawakami RRP$24.95
Tsukiko is in her late 30s and living alone when one night she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, 'Sensei', in a bar.
He is at least thirty years her senior, retired and, she presumes, a widower. After this initial encounter, the pair continue to meet occasionally to share food and drink sake, and as the seasons pass - from spring cherry blossom to autumnal mushrooms - Tsukiko and Sensei come to develop a hesitant intimacy which tilts awkwardly and poignantly into love.
Perfectly constructed, funny, and moving, Strange Weather in Tokyo is a tale of modern Japan and old-fashioned romance.
About the Author
Born in 1959 in Tokyo, HIROMI KAWAKAMI is one of Japan's most popular contemporary novelists, famous for her literary, off-beat fiction. She made her debut with the short story 'God Bless You' in 1994, which received the Bunkamura Prix des Deux Magots and the Murasakishikibu Literature Award.
Hebi wo fumu [Tread on a Snake] won the Akutagawa Prize in 1996 and Oboreru [Drowning] won both the Ito Sei Literature Award and Joryu Bungaku Sho (Woman Writers' Prize) in 2000. Her novel Manazuru won the 2011 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize.
Belinda Castles $19.99
An inspiring novel of great courage and enduring love set against a backdrop of the turmoil and devastation of World War II.
'A clear-eyed, absorbing and intelligent account of lives adrift, or anchored perilously.' - Sydney Morning Herald
Emil and Hannah live their lives amid the turmoil of twentieth-century history. Emil, a German veteran of the Great War, has returned home to a disturbed nation. As inflation and unemployment edge the country near collapse, Emil's involvement with the resistance ultimately forces him from his family and his home.
Hannah, soaked in the many languages of her upbringing as a Russian Jew in the West End of London and intent on experiencing the world, leaves home for Europe, travelling into a continent headed again towards total war.
In Brussels, she meets the devastated Emil, who has just crossed the border on foot from Nazi Germany, leaving tragedy in his wake. All too briefly, they make a life in England before war strikes, and Emil, an enemy alien, is interned and then sent away.
Hannah, determined to find him, prepares herself for a lonely and dangerous journey across the seas .
Hannah & Emil is a moving love story of courage and conviction - riven by the powerful currents of history.
About the Author
When not writing, Belinda Castles works as an editor, and lives with her husband and daughters in Sydney. She has a Masters in Novel Writing from the University of Manchester. Her first novel was Falling Woman, and her second novel, The River Baptists, was the winner of the 2006 The Australian/Vogel Literary Award.
Andrew Sean Greer RRP $29.99
It is 1985, and Greta Wells wishes she lived in any time but this one: she has lost her brother to AIDS, her lover Nathan to another woman, and can not seem to go on alone.
To ease her sadness, her doctor suggest an unusual procedure, one that opens doors of insight into the relationships in her life, her conflicting affections, and the limitations put on a woman's life.
Throughout, Greta glimpses versions of war, history, herself, and the people she loves, and as the procedures come to an end, she realizes she must make a choice: one which will close every door but one, forever.
About the Author
Andrew Sean Greer is the author of the novels: The Story of a Marriage, The Confessions of Max Tivoli, and The Path of Minor Planets, as well as the story collection How It Was for Me. He lives in San Francisco, California.
Something for the Kids
Erica Harrison RRP $24.99
A Cautionary Tail, illustrated with images from the animated short film featuring Cate Blanchett, Barry Otto and David Wenham, is a beautiful, expressive text in rhyming verse about difference and acceptance.
Born with a wee nub at the base of the spine, as the little girl grows up, so does the nub; into a beautiful, expressive tail. The girl is accepting, her parents encouraging of her difference and her school friends think it's way cool what her tail can do, and express. But it's hard holding on to your individuality as you get older, when you think all you need to do to belong is to conform. Wouldn't she be better off without this freaky feature?
About the Author
Erica Harrison is a published writer, editor and photographer currently living in Sydney, who was inspired to create this story about the challenges inherent in the differences that give us our individuality, after she herself suffered a terrible accident which left its mark in many ways. She used the text initially as a means to retrieve herself from the despondancy she experienced when recuperating, and in so doing has created an endearing story that appeals to both young and old alike.
The animated short film was crowdfunded on Kickstarter and has been recently launched at Flickerfest. It is set to resonate with all who watch it.
Tania Cox, Lorette Broekstra (Illustrator) RRP$12.99
A celebration of all the things dads and children enjoy. From cooking to dancing to building a cubby - and of course sharing a big HUG! - happiness comes from sharing time together.
'A cute story to share over breakfast in bed.' - My Child Magazine
Philip Howard RRP$49.99
The second volume of the extraordinary work from two-Michelin-star chef, Philip Howard that began in September 2012 with The Square: The Cookbook Volume 1: Savoury. Regarded amongst his peers as one of the world's great culinary artists, his lifetime of dedication and creativity have gone into writing this monumental work of gastronomic creativity and technical expertise.
The Square: The Cookbook Volume 2: Sweet gives precise instructions on how to create food of top Michelin standard. Meticulous, detailed and fiercely intelligent, this is a book that will set the benchmark for books of the highest culinary ambition. Featuring brilliant dishes such as his signature Brillat Savarin Cheesecake with Passion Fruit and Lime, and Lemon Posset with a Blueberry Compote and Warm Vanilla Beignets.
Philip Howard's incredible second volume features a full repertoire of sweet recipes, each accompanied by the beautiful photography of Jean Cazals. A must-have book for all chefs, but a great book for keen amateurs and serious foodies alike.
Something for Dad
Will Davies RRP $34.95
Known as The Boy Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Marks, was the youngest battalion commander in the AIF and highly regarded not only as a future military commander, but as a business and community leader.
It was a blustery day on the 25th January 1920 at Palm Beach to the north of Sydney and the surf was wild. Two attempts had already been made to save a young woman caught in an undertow and dragged out when a young man; skinny, gangly and frail and known to be a poor swimmer, threw off his coat and shoes and raced into the surf. As his fiancée and young nephew watched, the sea closed over him and he disappeared. His body was never recovered.
This was the sad and tragic fate of a gallant, highly decorated and promising young man named Douglas Gray Marks. And it was a great loss to a nation whose manhood had been decimated and where the pain of the war remained evident and raw.
Douglas Marks was born in 1895 and educated at Fort Street High School. He had, like so many enthusiastic and patriotic young men, basic military training when he turned up at the drill hall in Rozelle two days after the declaration of war. Before embarking in November 1914, he had received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the AIF.
After a period of training in Egypt, he embarked for the Gallipoli peninsula and landed on the second day. Spending a great deal of time in the dangerous frontline trenches at Quinn's Post where he was wounded, he remained on Gallipoli until the evacuation in December of that year. Just twenty years old, he was seen as an inspirational young officer, promoted to captain and given acting command of his battalion.
Marks then travelled back to Egypt, saw the re-organisation of his beloved 13th battalion and the raising of its sister battalion, the 45th. Sailing from Alexandria, he crossed the Mediterranean to Marseilles and took the train to the north of France and the nursery areas around Armentieres and Bois Grenier.
From here, Douglas Marks found himself in the worst battles that the AIF were to fight in: Pozieres and Moquet Farm, Flers, Gueudecourt, Stormy Trench and Bullecourt on the Somme. He then travelled north and was part of the horrendous battles around Ypres in Flanders in 1917: Messines, Polygon Wood, Hollebeke and Passchendaele. Back on the Somme in early 1918, he fought at Villers Bretonneux, Le Hamel, the Battle of Amiens from the 8th August and in the fighting through to the withdrawal of his battalion in September 1918.
By this time he had been wounded a number of times, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, was the commander of his battalion and had been decorated with a Military Cross, a Distinguished Service Order, the Serbian Order of the White Eagle and had been mentioned in despatches.
He returned to Australia and to civilian life in late 1918. In 1919 he became engaged to 'Queenie' and in January 1920, took that fateful journey to Palm Beach. Though we do not know what happened to 'Queenie', his distraught mother never came out of her house again.
About the Author
Will Davies is a historian, writer and filmmaker. Somme Mud: The war experiences of an Australian infantryman in France 1916-1919, which he edited, has become a bestseller in Australia and the UK and The Netherlands. In The Footsteps Of Private Lynch has also been published to acclaim in Australia and the UK.
Beneath Hill 60 tells the true story of the Australian miners and soldiers who tunnelled under Hill 60 near Ypres and eventually broke through to create a new frontline and enable the march to Berlin. Will Davies also edited Somme Mud: Younger Reader's Edition for high school aged readers.
Rowland White RRP $39.95
An entertaining and utterly engaging celebration of everything worth knowing about the world of flight – and more – from the bestselling author of Vulcan 607.
Everybody dreams of flying. For as long as we've been able to look up and see the birds we've wanted to join them. But our efforts to do so have not always been as elegant or accomplished. Instead, there's been danger, excitement, courage and brilliance.
The Big Book of Flight is a celebration of it all, and a lot more besides, packed with derring-do stories of aviation's pioneers as well as fascinating profiles of remarkable planes, from Spitfires to Space Shuttles (and a number of other wondrous projects that never quite got off the drawing board). Along with a unique collection of fantastic flight trivia, crucial questions are also addressed:
What's so scary about the Bermuda Triangle?
Why does airline food taste so bad?
And how do you make the perfect paper dart?
With stunning photographs and illustrations throughout, The Big Book of Flight promises to surprise, entertain and fire the imaginations of anyone with their head in the clouds.
About the Author
Rowland White lives in London with his wife and three children, and works in publishing.