Mia Freedman is a well-known media personality these days, but is still best known (and loved) for her weekly column in the Age Sunday Life magazine. Her columns are quirky and down-to-earth musings on the curiosities of everyday life. This collection of essays is in much the same vein. Subtitled “confessions from the watercooler of life”, her subjects range from the sublime to the ridiculous (often within the same essay!). She is curious and courageous, and will happily discuss subjects that less brave souls may have often thought but never put into words!
Witty, honest and engaging, reading Mia Culpa is like having a cup of tea and a chat with a good friend. Highly enjoyable! Paperback, $29.95
It would do you well not to judge this book by its cover and consider that it should be marketed at, and read by, boys. It is my experience that pink (ANY pink) alienates boys at least until their mid twenties and sometimes forever, but maybe I’m wrong*.
Dante has been waiting on tenterhooks for his A-level results (end of school in England) when his ex-girlfriend rocks up at his front door with an 11-month old baby. Pretty obvious to see where its going, though not to Dante. Little does Dante know he’s about to be left with said baby, his child, derailing university/career/life plans in one fell swoop. What I liked about this book is that Dante doesn’t deal with it very well, though he comes around in the end he’s not perfect and I think its realistic for a 17 year old to not be immediately comfortable with a baby. But Dante copes, and in the end quite well.
Alternating perspective with Dante is his brother Adam whose got his own challenges to overcome. Very comfortably and openly gay, Adam has trouble making his brother and their recently-ish widowed father accept that gay isn’t a ‘passing phase’. When Adam runs into some pretty serious objections to his sexuality (from no less than Dante’s best mate) it’s really all go for the Brigeman men.
All three Brigeman’s go through a steep learning curve in Boys Don’t Cry in different ways and its a solid Young Adult novel that has you wanting to know What Happens Next. Thoroughly enjoyable and covering a lot of ground about growing up, and particularly father-son relationships, great for boys or girls 15 up.
*See also Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood. Great book, good cover, but Why Pink?
I have been asked numerous times about book groups in the area, and a couple of years ago I got one started through the bookshop. After a few months of meeting in the bookshop, the group was happy to go their own way, meeting in each others houses, and at cafes.
I think the time has come to revisit starting a new group, again with the idea of it becoming independent of the shop after a settling in period.
An initial meeting would be brief, and establish meeting dates and times, and select a couple of titles to get started.
If you are interested in being part of a book group, fill in the expression of interest form in the shop. You can put down a couple of choices with regard to which evenings you are available. When we have enough people we will get the group going. Heather
Filed under Events, Jottings
The Glass Collector by Anna Perera, PB $20.00
From the author of the critically acclaimed Guantanamo Boy comes an amazing and moving novel set in Cairo about a minority community called the Zabbaleen. They are a religious group who make their living collecting, sorting and recycling 80% of Cairo’s rubbish.
Based on how these people really live, The Glass Collector follows the story of 15 year old Aaron who spends his life in the garbage slums, sorting through endless piles of dangerous hospital waste and restaurant refuse. It is a story of hardship and a world that’s so different from anything we can imagine. The characters are incredible and the careful research into their everyday lives is evident.
Cairo is obviously an incredible place and the settings and scenery are vividly described. Aaron has fallen in love with Rachel who takes care of the transport Ponies and dreams of another, safer life far away from the cruelty and squalor of their existence
Ultimately The Glass Collector is a story about human interaction, people who long for change and those that find hope in the oddest places.
2009 was the Year of Jasper Jones. It won plenty of awards and everyone was talking about it. Unfortunately, I’m a bit behind the times and have only just managed to read it. But I can vouch for the fact that it lives up to the accolades, so anyone else running a bit late has a rare treat ahead of them!
The novel is set in the 1960s in the sleepy country town of Corrigan. It is narrated by Charlie Bucktin, a bright but awkward teenager, and is about the summer which will change his life forever. One hot and sleepless night Charlie’s reading is interrupted by a knock on the window. Surprisingly it is Jasper Jones, the cool and rebellious town misfit who wants to share a secret discovery with Charlie. Despite his misgivings, Charlie follows Jasper, and thus becomes inextricably bound up in a mystery that will affect the whole town.
Charlie is a great character, keeping his sense of humour as he navigates his way through those tricky teenage years – falling in love for the first time, having run-ins with his parents, and all the while keeping Jasper’s dreadful secret. Craig Silvey has captured the claustrophobia of a fearful and suspicious community sweltering through an Australian summer, and the tension is palpable. It’s a great story beautifully written, and Craig Silvey is certainly a talent to watch. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s time! Paperback, $24.
Melbourne based Sally Rippin has recently hit the jackpot with the highly entertaining adventures of Billie B Brown written for young kids. Her new fantasy-ish title Angel Creek is for a slightly older audience but is entertaining with a message, in a slightly different way.
Angel Creek tells the story of Jelly (short for something long and old-fashioned that doesn’t suit her) and her cousins Pik and Gino (who’s taller than Jelly, even though he’s a year younger). Jelly has just moved house and doesn’t like her new house, except for the apricot tree in the yard and creek down behind it (Merri Creek, for those playing at home). There’s nothing ordinary about this creek though, as Jelly and Gino find an angel with a broken wing and nurse it back to health. But keeping an angel isn’t as easy as they thought and this one seems to have a particular bond to Jelly. Then the creek starts behaving weirdly, Jelly’s tree gets struck by lightning and Nonna goes to hospital. And that’s just the start. This book packs a lot into whats actually quite a short novel, and its very easy and fun to read. From bullying and death to first crushes (Jelly’s about to start high school) and the supernatural this book is packed with subtle messages along with a magical reality-based-fantasy narrative.
If you are a member of a book group, and you are constantly trying to think of titles which work well for discussion, we can help. We have a flyer which lists a lot of the titles which have been popular with book groups over the last few years. There are some classics and a few non-fiction titles, but they are mostly relatively modern fiction titles. The flyer also tells you how you can get a bulk discount on book group purchases. The flyer is available in the shop now, and is free of charge. Happy reading.
Gabrielle Lord is an Australian author who is well-known for her crime novels for adults, two of which have been made into films. She has now turned her hand to writing an exciting series for young adults called Conspiracy 365. It comprises twelve books, one for each month of the year, starting with January.
The series’ central character is 15 year old Callum Ormond. On New Years Eve, Callum’s world is turned upside-down when a wild looking stranger approaches him in the street. The stranger tells him that Callum’s father didn’t die from a virus, as Callum believed, but had been killed. He warned Callum that unless he gets away Callum will be the next to die – “You must go into hiding until December 31st next year…You’re not safe until then. Somehow you must survive…365 days”. So Callum becomes a fugitive, desperately trying to uncover his father’s secret while outrunning his merciless pursuers.
This is an unputdownable action-packed series, full of thrills and twists and mysteries. Each book is broken down into days and hours, which keeps the pace moving rapidly, making it immensely readable even for the most reluctant of readers. The books in the series are $15 each, but for a limited time we have Conspiracy 365 January available for only $10. So it’s the perfect time to check out this fantastic series!
Five Bells is a book to be read slowly, and savoured. It is a beautifully written story about four different characters, all of whom travel through Circular Quay in Sydney on one summer Saturday.
James and Ellie knew each other when they were young, but haven’t seen each other for years. Their sexual experiences in their youth have coloured Ellie’s life.
Catherine is from Ireland and is suffering from the death of her beloved brother.
Pei Xing had been a political prisoner in China and now has a curious relationship with one of her captors.
Each of the characters has a very different story and experiences in life, and carry with them various degrees of guilt and anxiety. This may make the book seem rather doom laden, but it doesn’t come over like that at all.
Be prepared to sit down with a cup of tea and immerse yourself in this book for a few hours.
This wonderful boxed set contains twelve amazing books by some of the best children’s authors ever, and would be perfect for girls and boys who are gaining confidence reading chapter books. The titles included are:
*The Little Girl and the Tiny Doll by Edward and Aingelda Ardizzone
*Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley
*Mr Majeika by Humphrey Carpenter
*Fantastic Mr Fox and George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
*The Diary of a Killer Cat by Anne Fine
*The Hodgeheg by Dick King-Smith
*The Worst Witch and The Worst Witch Strikes Again by Jill Murphy
*The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog by Jeremy Strong
*Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat by Ursula Moray Williams
* The Werepuppy by Jacqueline Wilson
Presented in a great-looking slipcase, this collection would make a wonderful gift, and at only $60 (that’s only $5 per book, when normally these titles are $14.95!), it’s fantastic value. $60 in store now