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Book Reviews


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)

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)

An Officer and a Spy

Reviewed by Richard McCarthy

 An Officer and a Spy   A Novel by Robert Harris Publisher: Hutchinson.     'The Dreyfus Affair' was one of the most infamous miscarriages of justice ever made, and set the mark for the extraordinary damage that can and does occur when those ... (continued)