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Book Reviews


52 Suburbs Around the World by Louise Hawson

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

In 2012, photographer and blogger, Louise Hawson, set off with her 8 year old daughter Coco, on a year long trip around the world planning to visit and blog from 52 suburbs, in well known global cities, showing the underbelly, the counterculture and the glorious ordinariness of life wherever s... (continued)

The Italians at Cleat's Corner Store by Jo Riccioni

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Working in a bookshop is probably a terrible education for a budding novelist. You get to see first hand how many books publish every month and how few actually achieve significant success. That made the publication of Jo Riccioni's new novel quite an event for us. Jo used to be a booksell... (continued)

Divergent, by Veronica Roth

Reviewed by Reuben Roache-Dubois

The first book in a trilogy, Divergent is a heart breaking tale of extraordinary adversity and breaking the rules.  Set in a dystopian future, we follow a young girl about to face one of the most important decisions of her life.  Headstrong and independent, Tris defies the expec... (continued)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Reviewed by Tara -Berkelouw Hornsby

Rainbow Rowell’s first novel, ‘Attachments’ was published in 2011, and was listed as one of the year’s outstanding debuts by Kirkus. Rowell’s young adult debut, ‘Eleanor & Park’ was named one of the best young adult fictions of 2013 by The New York... (continued)

On the Jellicoe Road

Reviewed by Mel

This is my favourite book - ever. Never have a read a book so heartbreakingly beautiful. I first read this book at 15 and I come back to every year because I find it always helps me in new and unexpected ways. Taylor feels like a sister to me now. I feel like she has seen me through my good an... (continued)

Why we took the car

Reviewed by Em and Mel

For readers who enjoyed Perks of being a Wallflower or Matthew Quick. Herman does the voice of a disgruntled judgemental teen so well. A story of a social nobody who does something completely off he radar for the attentions of the class beauty. A great coming of age story for 14 and up (not re... (continued)

The Enchanted

Reviewed by Em

Rene Denfeld has written a book like none I’ve read before, combining the harsh and volatile reality of the American penal system with the magical, almost poetical narration by one of its death row inmates, a mute schizophrenic who creates a fantastical world in this bleak and unforgivin... (continued)

& Sons

Reviewed by Em

This book is about the lives and fractious relationships of two upper east side Manhattan families. The fathers and sons, with all their disappointments and unsaid admirations, create a rich and ambitious storyline. The patriarch at the centre of this wors is a writer of Salinger-like proporti... (continued)

The Convent

Reviewed by Mel

The convent is a story that will have you wishing you were one of the characters. It takes you back in time to meet three extraordinary women who barely know each other but are irreversably tied to the convent. This story highlights the devastating or wonderful consequences of the choices we m... (continued)

The Rule of Knowledge

Reviewed by Mel

Stop everything! You NEED this book! Scott Baker has delivered the freshest concept and storyline I've read in years. A fast paced, action packed, keeps-you-hanging-onto-every-word  mystery, The Rule of Knowledge will change how you think about time, space, science, hisory and faith i... (continued)

The Invention of Wings

Reviewed by Em and Val

Based on the lives of the Grimke sisters, suffrogettes abnd civil rights activists who betrayed their sourthern upbringing and joined the abolisionist cause, and the life of their maid and family slave Hetti 'handful'. A power story of standing up for what is right , of conscious and c... (continued)


Reviewed by Fin and Mel

We all absolutely LOVE this book. This is one of The Great Reads” a book that only occurs once a decade and redefines the genre.  I literally read non-stop until four in the morning in order to finish: about eight hours for those curious.  A Techno-Thriller that straps you ... (continued)

Coast: A History of the New South Wales Edge by Ian Hoskins

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

I can't surf.  I'm not the greatest swimmer and I certainly can't sit all day on the beach. Like Woody Allen, "I don't tan, I stroke." Yet I feel keenly connected to the coast and enjoy living near the beach.  I can look at a map and see the nearest beach an... (continued)

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Soon after Eleanor Catton won the 2013 Man Booker Prize her 800 page tome thudded onto the receiving desk. Much that I had read about the book suggested a dabbling with astrology so I started reading with some trepidation. How wrong  I was. Dive in. Catton's story centres arou... (continued)

Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith

Reviewed by Geraldine Ash, Berkelouw Books Customer

  The investigative journalist, Tatiana Petrovna, falls to her death from a sixth floor apartment. Is this suicide or murder? After the death of the fabulously wealthy criminal, Grisha Grigorenko, cynical investigator Arkady Renko and his vodka-swilling partner, detective-sargeant... (continued)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Just closed the last page on this book. I am a slow reader so have been immersed in Tartt's massive new novel for a long time, so long that I have begun to think about the story as passing through seasons. We start with the moving portrait of a boy, Theo Decker, experiencing the tragic... (continued)

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas

Reviewed by Matt, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

In his latest novel, Christos Tsiolkas forgoes the stylish multi-perspective structure of his previous award-winning work The Slap to return to a more intimate, and indeed claustrophobic, focus on a single protagonist, much like his other novels Loaded and Dead Europe. Daniel Kelly, nickna... (continued)

Eyrie by Tim Winton

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

To read Tim Winton's new novel Eyrie is to be reminded of the author's sublime ability with language and insight into human hearts. It also reminded me that Winton is a storyteller who does not tie things up neatly but requires your engagement to distil the story. Tom Kee... (continued)

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books Mona Vale

Perhaps nothing epitomises the paranoia prevalent in this book better than the family of the interrogator - he is not sure whether his parents are actually both blind (as they insist they are) or simply pretending to be blind because it is safer, in some way it allows them to see more clearly ... (continued)

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Colum McCann's new novel is intricate and ambitious. Mining the 19th and 20th century connections between Ireland and America, he animates the historical  context that embraces four generations of women whose stories are at the heart of the novel. The novel comprises three books. ... (continued)