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Berkelouw Balgowlah - Book Reviews

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Where the Dark Stands Still by A.B. Poranek

Reviewed by Kiah

Howl's Moving Castle meets Polish folklore in this stunning book from first-time author A. B. Poranek. Add in a cursed forest, a twisted bargain, and a dash of Beauty and the Beast, and 'Where the Dark Stands Still' will be your new favourite romantasy to look forward to in 2024. ... (continued)

Prophet by Helen Macdonald & Sin Blanché

Reviewed by Kiah

In a remote field in England, random objects start appearing. A bouquet of flowers, board games, a toy dinosaur, a motorbike jacket, even a whole American diner. These items are bright and nostalgic - treasured mementos from people’s pasts. But looking closer, there’s something not... (continued)

"Fire Rush" by Jacqueline Crooks

Reviewed by Bianca

Set in London in the 1980s, Crooks' striking debut novel offers a captivating portrait of Black womanhood within the dub reggae scene. A story of resilience, loss, and finding your inner voice, Fire Rush is a brilliant work of literary fiction that will break your heart and heal it all at ... (continued)

"Wandering Souls" by Cecile Pin

Reviewed by Bianca

"There are the goodbyes and then the fishing out of the bodies - everything in between is speculation" Longlisted for the 2023 Women's Prize for fiction, Wandering Souls tells the story of three tenacious young people fleeing political unrest in Vietnam after the withdrawal o... (continued)

"All's Well" by Mona Awad

Reviewed by Audrey

Awad's exploration of chronic pain captivates you from the get go. Her enticing examination of marginalization and isolation through the prism of women's pain is incisive and filled with biting humour. Set amongst our protagonist Miranda's dogged attempt to stage Shakespeare's ... (continued)

"Trust" by Hernan Diaz

Reviewed by Audrey

In Trust, 4 stories frame and then reframe the life of elusive businessman Andrew Bevel and his wife Mildred. The reader is drawn deeper into these lives with new text, examines the couples financial prowess in the tumult of the era of the Great Depression and then the murky circumstances rega... (continued)

How To Be Remembered by Michael Thompson

Reviewed by Kiah

Tommy Llewellyn can't be remembered. Every year, on his birthday, all evidence of his existence vanishes. Photographs, hospital records, his birth certificate, and every memory people have of him are wiped away, leaving Tommy as the only one who remembers. With no answers to be found as to... (continued)

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi

Reviewed by Kiah

  Once, a man who studied fairy tales met a mysterious woman called Indigo Maxwell-Casteñada. They fell in love and decided to marry, but Indigo had one condition: do not ask about her past. Do not look, do not pry. The man agreed, and they were wed.     But whe... (continued)

The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty

Reviewed by Kiah

"God as my witness, none of this ever would have happened if it were not for those two fools back in Salalah. Them and their map." Amina al-Sirafi was once an infamous pirate captain, with stories of her escapades, numerous husbands, and rumoured dealings with djinn and demons s... (continued)

A Kind of Magic

Reviewed by Kat

A love letter to those of us who spend life trying to win a wrestling match against our minds – Spargo-Ryan writes mental illness as I have never read it before, walking us through the unreliability of memory and the unexplainable agony of anxiety to tell her story. A Kind of Magic is a ... (continued)

All My Rage

Reviewed by Bianca

All My Rage is both a heart-warming and heart-breaking story about two Pakistani-American Muslim young people trying to survive the hardships of life in Juniper, California. Winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, this novel is another example of Tahir’s be... (continued)

The House with the Golden Door

Reviewed by Bianca

The sequel to Elodie Harper’s outstanding historical fiction, The Wolf Den, The House with the Golden Door continues Amara’s story of struggle and love in the beautiful, dangerous, and tantalising world of Ancient Pompeii. Seamlessly blending fact and fiction, this narrative effort... (continued)


Reviewed by Bianca

Katharine J. Chen brings Joan of Arc to life in this brilliant historical fiction. From her difficult childhood as an outcast in the small village of Domrémy to her position as the renowned leader of the French army, Chen recreates Joan as strong-willed, powerful warrior with a skill an... (continued)

The Branded

Reviewed by Bianca

An excellent fantasy debut, Jo Riccioni’s The Branded offers a complex but gripping look into social hierarchies and class divides. Drawing off the YA fantasy tropes we all love, Riccioni weaves together an exciting, mysterious, and dangerous narrative of two sisters navigating shocking ... (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)

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)

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