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Book Reviews


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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)