This fantastically cute picture book is all about Yumi, a Japanese kokeshi. She is a little wooden doll with pretty clothes and as she shows us the world of kokeshis, she asks us to help her find everything she needs along the way – her best friend’s lost pet called Bamboo, a rabbit costume for a party and even sushi to eat.
With beautiful illustrations and lift the flap sections, Annelore Parot’s Yumi (HB $24.95) is truly charming – she even manages to teach us some Japanese, with translations for some key words alongside the story.
Recommended for girls 4+.
My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares.
Ann Brashares is a name associated mostly with a series of books for teenage girls about a pair of very special pants. But that idea should be left behind immediately as her new novel My Name is Memory is quite a departure from that genre, though it is still a story about love. This is an epic, transcendent romance about Daniel, a boy with an extremely unusual memory and the girl he’s met and fallen in love with over and over and over . With a strong influence of reincarnation this book is a bit mind-bending… but in a good way. Daniel is a soul whose been living and dying for thousands of years. But what’s unusual, is he remembers it all. He himself introduces the concept by describing his memory as undoubtedly extraordinary, but not perfect.
Also blessed, or perhaps cursed, with the ability to recognise souls from life to life, Daniel is on a journey that has spanned almost as many countries as it has years. His mother in one life will be his sister in the next, and then his teacher, or maybe she’s an old girlfriend from a past life (bit weird, he knows). It’s enough to make your brain curdle.
But Daniel’s not the only one with the memory. And his brother from his first life takes holding a grudge to a whole new level. Thousands of years is a long time for love, but an even longer time for hate.
I’d highly recommend it for someone looking for an enjoyable, page-turning story of enduring love with an unusual bent. I’m not someone whose that into romance itself as a genre, but this book drew even me in. I’m also tipping that we’ll be hearing about a film in the near future.
Out now in trade paperback format ($33).
I’ve talked about this book before, but on Tuesday evening, I was lucky enough to have dinner with the author, Natasha Solomons and her husband David, along with some other Melbourne booksellers. Natasha is delightful, and it was interesting to hear her talk about the inspiration for the book. Her grandparents arrived in England as Jewish refugees just before World War II. They were given a booklet, which told them how they could best assimilate into English society. In the book, the main character, Jack Rosenblum, makes it his life’s work to fulfull those requirements, with varying success. It is funny and poignant, and a lovely book to read. This is a small hardback for $30. Highly recommended. Heather
Bill Bryson is a writer who asks questions, and then looks for the answers, to the benefit of his readers. This new book AT Home, is about the ‘stuff’ most of us have in our houses. Things you never think about most of the time, but then one day you think, hang on, where/why/how did that end up here. He goes through the house, room by room, and picks out things such as food preservatives, the mousetrap, and any amount of ephemeral stuff. It’s also about the rooms we have, and how we came to create our uses for them. With his keen eye, and engaging style, this will absorb you, and you will learn things about things you didn’t know mattered. One you can dip into. Hardback, $55
The fifth book is Richelle Mead’s highly entertaining Vampire Academy series has finally arrived!
In Spirit Bound (PB $19.95), Rose has returned to St. Vladimir’s after a long and heartbreaking journey to Siberia, the birthplace of the man she loves, Dimitri. She and Lissa are about to graduate and can’t wait to start their new lives, but Rose can’t shake Dimitri from her mind. The promise she made him before he was a Strigoi haunts her and while she knows Dimitri is still out there, Rose can’t rest. And this time, Dimitri knows she will be coming…
To complicate things even further, Rose has just discovered a tempting but dangerous possibility. She has heard whispers of a kind of rare magic that could bring Dimitri back from the brink of evil. A kind of magic that Lissa has the potential to perform, but only with disastrous consequences. Will Rose risk her best friend for true love?
Recommended for vampire lovers 13+.
The first four books in the series, Vampire Academy (PB $16.95), Frostbite (PB $16.95), Shadow Kiss (PB $16.95) and Blood Promise (PB $19.95) are also available instore now.
Esty is clever and fiesty. She needs to be – living in Ireland in the 1840′s isn’t easy. But Esty has it better than most, being a middleman’s daughter protects Etsy and her family from most of the hardship. But when her father is killed, fighting for his people’s right to a place to live and something to eat, Esty has to learn to fend for herself. She is sent to work in the household of a wealthy woman and it is there she learns what hard work really is. As Esty works her fingers to the bone for next to nothing, sending everything she earns back to her Mama and Grandpa, she starts to dream of something better. She reads about Australia, a place people go to find gold and strike lucky. Esty and her family risk everything to travel to this unknown land and when they arrive, they find a place full of sun, heat and dangerous bushrangers. But as they struggle towards Ballarat, they never give up hope they’ll find gold too.
This is a great tale of life in another time and a girl who learns to cope with everything life throws at her.
Recommended for girls 12+. PB $16.95
Nat Dixon is thirteen years old. Above all else, Nat loves soccer and is completely devoted to the failing Hatton Rangers. Ever since his mother died, Nat and his father have traveled the world, calling everywhere from England to Brazil home at some point. But no matter where they land, Nat finds a game and it is his dream to one day play centre-forward for the Rangers. Nat’s dad finally decides, after seven years away, it’s time to return home. Upon arriving in England, even though the cottage Nat’s dad found on e-bay does NOT look like it does in the pictures, it seems like Nat’s dreams could come true. He is spotted by Stan Evans, the Rangers’ assistant manager, when playing in the park. Evans invites Nat to a trial at the club and he starts to believe that maybe, just maybe, his childhood dream might become a reality.
With World Cup mania looming, this is the perfect read for soccer fans everywhere. Recommended for 10+. PB $16.95
The Worst Thing She Ever Did by Alice Kuipers
A story about accepting the past and moving on, no matter how horrible the past must be. Adolescence isn’t a cake walk at the best of times, and this sixteen year old has been through more than her fair share of heartache. With the help of a mother whose just as lost as she is, Sophie is trying to find her way back to the person she used to be. After being in the London Underground bombings with her beloved older sister Emily, Sophie’s got a lot of baggage for a sixteen year old. She begins keeping a diary, which the entries in make up this book, on the advice of her therapist (who her mother makes her see). Despite being reluctant at the start of the book Sophie conceeds;
“There’s something enjoyable about filling a blank page, although I’d never admit that to Lynda. She gave me this empty notebook when I went to her on Thursday and said, “Writing in here will help you remember.” “
Sophie needs help, but as a teenager that concept is, of course, inherently unappealing. Also in the mix are an interesting poetry-loving new girl at school, a boy with charming blue eyes and a spoken-word bar that doesn’t seem to mind sixteen year olds hanging round. This book is no doubt sad, but its also really funny and moving. A look inside the head of a teenager dealing with a tragic loss, along with all the usual teenage friendship and boy dramas. You really feel for Sophie, even when she acts exactly like the teenager she is! An enjoyable, engaging read for young adults.
These cute origami box kits make the perfect gift. Enclosed are instructions for 20 quick and simple origami designs and 80 sheets of origami paper. Handy for idle moments, make anyone happy with this pretty way to while the time away.
TableTop Origami, available now in red, blue, yellow and grey. $12.95
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