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Book Reviews


Wolf Hall- Hilary Mantel

Reviewed by Elias, Balgowlah

Hilary Mantel's dark masterpiece, charting the traslation of Thomas Cromwell from Putney blacksmith's son to brilliant and drangerous courtier in the court of Henry VIII. A literary page-turner and insightful, unsettling reflection on history and power, Wolf Hall is set at a time when ... (continued)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky

Reviewed by Brendan, Balgowlah

Written as a series of letters to an anonymous stranger, this coming of age account invites the reader into a world populated by unforgettable characters sure to remain in your mind long after the last page is turned. We accompany Charlie, the eponymous wallflower, as he navigates the world of... (continued)

Death of the Artist

Reviewed by Reuben Roache-Dubois

On the 13th of August, graphic novelist Karrie Fansman invited four old friends from university to an isolated cottage on the misty moors of the Peak District to join her for a week of hedonism and creativitiy.  Like Shelley and Byron before them, they would use the retreat to tell storie... (continued)

All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven

Reviewed by Reuben Roache-Dubois

Sweepingly beautiful and unflinchingly honest, All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is the most eloquent YA book of this generation. When two characters come together in a narrative it can seem forced and shallow, yet both Finch and Violet are so much more than words on a page. These charac... (continued)

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Helen Macdonald's first encounter with her female goshawk is an unforgettable moment rendered with electric brilliance. Bred in an aviary and transported in a box the bird (Mabel)  sees in the open for the first time ever on delivery into Macdonald's care. The encounter launches o... (continued)

The Torch by Peter Twohig

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

I enjoyed Peter Twohig's first novel, The Cartographer, so was keen to read his new book The Torch. This book continues the story of the Blayney kid, the boy whose twin brother died in a playground accident. It's a year later (1960) and the kid has developed an interest in pashing... (continued)

Yes Please

Reviewed by Abby @ Paddington

Amy Poehler is a force to be reckoned with. From SNL  and Parks and Recreation fame and movies such as Baby Mama, Amy has established herself as a frontrunner in comedy - as well as balancing her life as a mother and screenwriter. Yes Please is a raw account of her life from a struggling ... (continued)

Sydney Beaches - A History

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

In 2009, historian Caroline Ford was awarded the NSW Archival Research Fellowship that allowed her to write her new book Sydney Beaches - A History. This means we get a thoroughly researched book tracing the history of European engagement with the beaches. Caroline is most thorough in expl... (continued)

This House of Grief by Helen Garner

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

Any new book by Helen Garner comes with a great sense of anticipation and high expectations. Over her long writing career she has transformed from a writer of edgy fiction exploring Melbourne's urban life of the seventies to an independent, intelligent interrogator of events that capture h... (continued)

Golden Boys by Sonya Harnett

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

The two families at the heart of Sonya Hartnett's new novel, Golden Boys, each have their problems. Joe and Elizabeth Kiley live in a three bedroom house. They already have six children and the oldest, Freya, is worried that another is on the way. They live frugally and when we meet them s... (continued)

Pandora Jones Admission by Barry Jonsberg

Reviewed by Tara -Berkelouw Hornsby

Barry Jonsberg has been shortlisted for, and won, numerous Children’s Literature awards. His previous novel, ‘My Life As An Alphabet’ won the 2013 Gold Inky and the Children’s Peace Literature Award. ‘Pandora Jones’ is his first young adult series. Pando... (continued)

Smoke And Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor

Reviewed by Tara -Berkelouw Hornsby

Laini Taylor is an American novelist whose career began with 2004’s ‘The Drowned’ in which she refined her signature style – a perfect mixture of fantastical folklore, old-world sensibilities and gothic themes. She was a National Book Award finalist in 2009 for ‘L... (continued)

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)

Why we took the car

Reviewed by Em & Mel, Balgowlah

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, Balgowlah

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, Balgowlah

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, Balgowlah

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)