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Book Reviews


Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan

Reviewed by Gillian, Berkelouw Books, Mona Vale

The life story of renowned beauty (and prostitute) Dewi Ayu, takes us through the tumultuous history of modern Indonesia from  independence, through Japanese occupation and the rise of Indonesian strong men. Dewi Ayu's village, Halimunda, is subject to the upheaval affecting the w... (continued)

The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutkoski

Reviewed by Jamie, Balgowlah

Think Roman Empire meets Victorian England, with a main character who is Elizabeth Bennet cross Katniss Everdeen.    When Kestrel, the privileged daughter of a General, impulsively purchases Arin, a slave, at the market she sets the whole city talking. After being surrounded ... (continued)

The Shepherd's Life- James Rebanks

Reviewed by Elias, Balgowlah

The English Lakes are famous for their beauty, but less famous for their farmers. James Rebanks, proud inheritor of a tradition that spans millennia, is a tenth-generation shepherd – that rarest of beasts, a working small hold farmer. This book is an account of his life on a land enshrin... (continued)

Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner? - Katrine Marcal

Reviewed by Elias, Balgowlah

When Adam Smith theorised modern economics in the 18th Century, he based it on the individual. The workings of the market were driven by this individual pursuing their rational self-interest, as natural to humans as eating or breathing. In this hilarious, breezy, and sharp book, Katrine Mar&cc... (continued)

Landfalls- Naomi J.Williams

Reviewed by Lee, Balgowlah

One voyage, many voices.  Leaving France in 1785 with the grand purpose of scientific and geographic discovery, Laperouse commands La Boussole and Astrolabe, and the fate of 114 men. This novel captures that ill-fated expedition with meticulous research and terrific characterisation. ... (continued)

Forests Of Silence. Deltora Quest Book 1

Reviewed by Tobias Age 8

Please enjoy this wonderful review by our youngest reviewer, Tobias Age 8   "Deltora Quest was written by the great author Emily Rodda, The first book in the series is The Forest of Silence. In the quest for the first jem, the Topaz which has the power to calm, show spiri... (continued)

The Other Side of the World- Stephanie Bishop

Reviewed by Jamie, Balgowlah

  Charlotte belongs in her little cottage, which always leaks and is far too small and far too cold, in England. Her husband however has had enough, and begs her to move to Australia. Run down by two children, Charlotte throws her hands in the air and says “Fine, I’ll go&r... (continued)

One True Thing- Nicole Hayes

Reviewed by Jaimee, Balgowlah

A nice alternative to dystopian fantasy. Following in the tradition of Looking For Alibrandi, this is a “real life” fiction about Frankie. Frankie, whose mother is the current Victorian Premier, who is in the middle of election season, and is being trotted out as part of the &lsquo... (continued)

So You've Been Publicly Shamed- Jon Ronson

Reviewed by Elias, Balgowlah

When Jon Ronson discovers a fake account on Twitter bearing his name and picture, posting fatuous updates about imaginary food, he is, naturally, annoyed. Being an investigative journalist, he soon tracks down those responsible – a group of young academics running a dubious experiment &n... (continued)

Spark- Rachael Craw

Reviewed by Imogen, Balgowlah

This is a great book for teens. A girl named Evie is a normal teenager one day, and the next she is a Shield, a protector for her friend Kitty. Evie doesn't know who she is protecting Kitty from- all they know is that someone is out to get her. I really enjoyed this book- it's a gr... (continued)

The Paying Guests- Sarah Waters

Reviewed by Lee, Balgowlah

A beautifully written, entirely engaging novel set in 1920s London. This is a London recovering from WWI, its inhabitatnts negotiating subtle (and not so subtle) soicial and economic change. A widow and her daughter, whose circumstances are slowly shrinking, live in a large fraying house. Taki... (continued)

Lost and Found- Brooke Davis

Reviewed by Jaimee, Balgowlah

This is undeniably the best debut novel I have ever read. Lost and Found is a beautifully human tale about how a little girl, an old lady, and an old man, learn to grieve and to laugh, to cry and to smile, to fear and be thrilled. While a story about death and loss wouldn't always be c... (continued)

The Lies of Locke Lamora- Scott Lynch

Reviewed by Jeremy, Balgowlah

Stranded and starving orphans are not meant to survive for long in Camorr, a city of dark alleys, rancid canals and sprawling slums. Locke Lamora, blessed with a quick wit and a certain moral flexibility, is one of the lucky few. When he is taken under the wing of a priest of the Crooked Warde... (continued)

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)