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Book Reviews


9781742612133

The Good Life by Hugh Mackay

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Hugh Mackay's latest book, The Good Life, is unusual in that it is not a report back on the state of mind of the Australian community distilled from his social research. It is much more an appeal to that community to fundamentally reconsider the way they live, the aspirations they nurse an... (continued)
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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Reviewed by Karen, Berkelouw Books, Paddington

At its heart, this wonderful book is about finding your place in the world. Ifemelu and Obinze were young lovers who drifted apart when Ifemelu went to America to study. There she found herself having to think about race which was not something that needed consideration at home in Nigeria.... (continued)
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The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

Reviewed by Sarah, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Patrick Ness, known for his Chaos Walking series as well as his beautiful graphic novel, A Monster Calls, has reworked the famous Japanese folklore tale, The Crane Wife to beautiful effect in this his latest novel.  One evening a crane falls into George Duncan’s garden with an arrow... (continued)
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The Women in Black by Madeleine St John

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

I am just catching up with the delightfully acerbic writing of Madeleine St John. The Women in Black although first published in 1993 is a portrait of an earlier Sydney where women remain at work until they marry and have children, where husbands  drink after work with their mates (but on... (continued)
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High Sobriety by Jill Stark

Reviewed by Kate, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

When February came around this year and I decided to give my body a break from the alcohol,  I was looking for some inspiration or encouragement and saw this book. Jill Stark is a senior journalist for The Age (Melbourne). Her specialty is health issues. She has won a journalistic awa... (continued)
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Silent House by Orhan Pamuk

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

In Silent House, Orhan Pamuk, gives us a portrait of family whose complicated affairs mesh tragically with Turkey's history. Gathered in the house of Fatma (Grandmother), they come to enjoy a summer holiday by the sea.  Pamuk tells his story through five rotating first person narrativ... (continued)
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Speechless by James Button

Reviewed by Jake, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Journalist and son of a former Federal Labor Minister, James Button reflects upon his time spent as Kevin Rudd’s speechwriter in the period leading up to his downfall from the height of Australian politics. More than an insight into the world of Australian politics, Button delves in... (continued)
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Confront and Conceal by David E. Sanger

Reviewed by Jake, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

New York Time’s journalist and author of The Inheritance, David E. Sanger delves into the covert world of cyber warfare, US Special Forces and espionage. Having written extensively for The Times on US National Security and Nuclear Proliferation, Sanger uses a career’s worth of cont... (continued)
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Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver

Reviewed by Sarah, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

This book made me look at the future of our world and the consequences of climate change, how it combines with us and what choices we can decide to make to change our ways.   Dellarobia is a young girl who married her childhood sweetheart and had two children. She is bored and ... (continued)
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Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel

Reviewed by Graziela, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

This book uses the very creative concept of taking pictures of dogs underwater as they chase their toys. Photographer Seth Casteel has put together a wonderful collection of photos, some hilarious, some adorable and some not so elegant, which are sure to entertain every doglover. There are aro... (continued)
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The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Reviewed by Graziela, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

This is a debut novel from Swedish author Jonas Jonasson and has been a great success in Europe before being translated into English. This book capitvated me from the start, and didn't disappoint as it unfolded. The main character, Allan Karlsson, runs away from his nursing home on the... (continued)
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The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Reviewed by Kate, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Best read  for me in 2012 was The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Rothfuss has the art of telling a good story in which you lose yourself. It has been a long time since I have read a novel with such simple good storytelling. This poetically written story is told through the eyes of ... (continued)
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All That I Am by Anna Funder

Reviewed by Kate, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

All That I Am  by Anna Funder is a great story told through the eyes of activists against Hitler. The main characters find themselves engaged in  cloak and dagger activities against the Nazi regime from London where they are in exile. It took a bit of time to get into the story ... (continued)
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1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Reviewed by Kate, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

   I started 2012 reading the last installment of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. With an incredible build up in the first two books I expected good things. Murakami is a master  of detail with an intelligence in his writing that challenges the reader to look beyond the first ... (continued)
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Defending Jacob by William Landy

Reviewed by Kate, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Imagine John Grisham writing a We need to talk about Kevin  sort of story. Interesting look at the criminal justice system in Massachusetts. Landy worked as an assistant district attorney and his observations about the legal system are sharp, cynical and realistic. And it’s a... (continued)
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Game of Thrones by George R R Martin

Reviewed by Kate, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Blood and guts, knights and kings with peasant uprisings in the middle, all as winter is coming and arrives. Fun reading for winter nights. But be warned don’t get attached to any character as Martin will surely kill them off! (continued)
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The Dinner by Herman Koch

Reviewed by Kate, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

If you liked Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl then read this. I liked this more. A cleverly written crime that is retold throughout all the courses of a dinner. I found the characters interesting and disturbed. Tightly written in a clever format. Gave me an appreciation of Koch’s writing. (continued)
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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Reviewed by Kate, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Two disturbed people marry. They deserve each other. Hard to like any of the characters. Written well although it takes a bit of time to get into Flynn’s language structure. Clever plot but annoying characters. (continued)
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John Saturnall's Feast by Lawrence Norfolk

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

In John Saturnall's Feast by Lawrence Norfolk, set in in the England of 1625, we find folk doing what they often do (even now) with a woman who has extraordinary professional skills and competence - calling her a witch and driving her out of town. Before the woman, Susan Sandall, meets her death,... (continued)
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Pure by Andrew Miller

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vae

Pure by Andrew Miller is set in Paris in 1785. It is the story of Jean-Baptiste Barrette, an engineer from Normandy, who is given the job of emptying Les Innocents, a cemetery. This novel revels in the detail of this interesting period in French history, when the order of things is beginning to c... (continued)