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Book Reviews


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)

The Invention of Wings

Reviewed by Em & Val, Balgowlah

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 & Mel, Balgowlah

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)

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)

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)

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)