By writing in letter form, Paulo Coelho allowed me to touch, to feel, to question, he made me look at Mata Hari as a woman rather than an exotic creature. This book seemed to come out of nowhere. It was the first Afghan novel to be written in English and it became a word-of-mouth bestseller in no time at all.
Telling a tragic story of childhood jealousy and fear, it covers a bitter part of Afghan history in a painful tale that truly pulls at the heartstrings. A brilliant book. Absolutely fascinating, a beautiful yet quirky read, this is a tale to make you wonder, to make you feel… A grandfather, on his deathbed, tells his grandson about his life, from rocket ships to prison, from love to aching for revenge, all is revealed.
The story isn't released in sequence, instead it flits around in time, I was initially thrown but soon got used to, even welcomed the sudden disturbance to the storyline. Michael Chabon writes with an understated, elegant, yet wickedly spiky hand. There were times when I lost myself in the words that danced across the pages, others when I was brought up short, shocked and surprised. Three women are at the heart of this beguiling, elemental novel, in which the dialogue dances, and the force of Irish fairy lore weaves its eerie, all-consuming ways through a superstitious rural community in the early nineteenth century.
As further misfortunes are blamed on the child, the three women work to restore him amidst an atmosphere charged with increasing hostility. Inspired by a real-life event, this is an absolutely stunning account of a poor community clinging to superstition and ritual in order to make sense of their isolated world. Chilling, and charged with earthiness, I loved it.
With a cracking good narrative, Hannah Kent has conjured up an entire world that most of us would never see or know about, and has created three entirely different female characters who resonate long beyond the novel. The hold of the church and of superstition over the people is both totally believable and plausible. Set in the deep American south between the wars, this is the classic tale of Celie, a young poor black girl. Raped repeatedly by her father, she loses two children and then is married off to a man who treats her no better than a slave.
She is separated from her sister Nettie and dreams of becoming like the glamorous Shug Avery, a singer and rebellious black woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the support of women that enables her to leave the past behind and begin a new life.
The classic, Pulitzer-Prize winning novel that made Alice Walker a household name. Now re issued for by her new publisher Orion. Her life is dull.
Labaree, Mary Schauffler
She does tele-ad sales for a trade mag and then suddenly she gets postcards from Greece addressed to a S. Ibbotson at her address. She loves them and sticks them to her flat wall. After a few months she is inspired to go there herself. As she leaves for the airport she picks up a small package from her post pigeon hole.
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He was in Greece researching a book and has the advance which will last a year if he is careful. Dejected and in despair he goes travelling to forget, escape, lose himself … all those things Greece can offer, plus fantastic scenery and sunshine. As he is alone the locals embrace him and many tell him tales. There follows a series of short stories as he moves from village square to village square and listens. They are gentle, poignant, very Greek and quite charming. Some have religious undertones, some touch on mythology, quite a few are just human drama tales of love, deception, loss and sadness, although many do have happy endings.
Daughter of a whaling captain, with her mother dead, she spent many of her teenage years sailing with him and living with the Inuit of Greenland. When grown, it naturally suits her to join an Arctic expedition with a British scientific team. Though they meet only briefly, he and Flora live similar lives with many parallels and some extraordinary stories. Hardship and determination colour both to the point where it is the Arctic that feels like home and the civilised Victorian world that seems hostile, and it is those sections that I found the most thrilling.
Her elegant prose is a joy to read. Stretching from to , it is not a novel of one thing only; not a portrait of a time, not a love story, not a cultural exploration, not an adventure story but all these things together, making it, above all, an excellent read. Within these pages are driving blizzards, weeping glaciers and a sea frozen into concrete — all conjured so realistically that you may find your breath misting in front of you as you read. Although this book has a cold setting, it has a warm heart. I fell completely in love with clever, wry Flora Mackie and her determination to be an Arctic explorer.
As she overcomes all obstacles to be seen as a real scientist and a true leader, I hope you will be as swept up in her adventures and her life-changing love affair as I was. Under a Pole Star is a truly epic story that will stay with you long after you read it. Enjoy the journey. Ooh, this truly is a fabulously captivating and unpredictable tale, and it kept me clinging to the very edge of my seat. Immediately from the start this feels different, my mind flashed onto high alert setting and remained there for the entire story.
Annie's name is changed to Milly and she tells her own tale, speaking in short, sharp, powerful sentences. I felt her confusion, loneliness, and wanted to hug her as her thoughts tumbled in limbo. Her feelings wormed their way into my mind, making me think, making me question. August Debut of the Month Provocative and stimulating, this debut crime thriller set in Canada, slams with impact. Two detectives begin an investigation into the death of a man who may have been involved in the Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian war in Ausma Zehanat Khan holds a PhD in International Human Rights Law with a research specialisation in military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans, her experience and knowledge sets the tone of the novel as she takes fact and blends in fiction.
It did take me a little time to settle into the story, and I appreciated the setting of the background of the Canadian police unit and politics. Each chapter is headed by a compelling, sometimes heartbreaking quotation which is explained in the notes. The story slowly grows and gathers pace, creating an intricate, intriguing moving jigsaw of pieces.
The most striking part of the story for me, was when the past began to speak, I found myself flinching and yet I couldn't turn away. An enjoyable yet penetrating read, one that can lull you into a false sense of security before it jabs and stings at your awareness. A mystery sits centre stage, yet there is much more on offer here than may first appear. This story feels like a tapestry of different threads that are slowly twisting together to create one intense and vibrant picture. There is a subtlety at play here, the story can float in different directions before it blasts your thoughts aside in a hit of raw, flinch-inducing reality.
A heartrending love story. An ode to vinyl. A poignant evocation of a community of shopkeepers in the late eighties. Like the music beloved by its protagonist, this pitch-perfect novel has an ineffable power to uplift the soul. But, while his music recommendations transform and heal the loves of countless customers, Frank has neglected to partake in his own life. That is, until a well-dressed woman wearing a distinctive pea-green coat faints outside his shop. Ilse Brauchmann radiates movie-star magnetism, and Frank immediately falls for her, as does pretty much everyone on Unity Street.
The groove of this gloriously life-affirming novel gets under the skin and lingers long after the final sentence has been savoured. I loved it. The party is where it all unravels and where the dark secret between rich, aristocratic Ben and poor, middle-class Martin is exposed. We are kept very much in the dark about the secret until nearly the end of the book. The story is set in different time zones and locations. We start with Martin being questioned by the police just after the party.
We flick to school and university days. We move to the party itself and so on as the mystery builds and the two young lives are mapped out. This is dark stuff. All the way through doom hangs over the pages. Will Martin get his revenge? Poignant, moving and funny, I chuckled my way through this delightful but no longer secret diary from the rather lovable Hendrik Groen.
Hendrik has reached the age where his address book is depressingly empty and his life has become an endless string of funerals and conversations concerning bowel movements, the latest list of ailments and euthanasia. The care home he lives in is like a waiting room for death and so in an effort to keep his own sanity he decides to write his memoir. Hendrik is an endearing character who I very much enjoyed spending time with in this gentle read that left me feeling a little sad but hopeful.
Snippets of the life he lived and what remains of it filter in throughout the book and have a greater sense of poignancy as they merge in with the everyday happenings of the here and now. When we are old we are still very much the person we have always been, hopefully reading this will remind us all that behind each and every elderly person lies a story. An old people's home in the Netherlands is the setting for this satire but it could be anywhere except for the small amount of political references.
But Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela's deaths are commented upon too. With a vast cast of residents and all kinds of worries and problems we concentrate mainly on a group of friends who form the 'old-but-not-dead club' where each member organises an outing. They do more than most old people ever think of: take a cookery lesson, wine-tasting, painting, synchronized swimming, tai chi, bowls, golf and such.
Hanging over the home is the threat of renovation, therefore change. Our narrator is determined to get sight of the regulations and decides to challenge the board. Solicitors become involved. His three closest friends have a dramatic and sad year which is sensitively portrayed. The action takes place over that year and is written in diary form.
Personally I feel that if you are involved with the elderly you might find this all a bit disturbing despite it's amusing style. June Book of the Month. Brimming with stunning writing and historical illuminations, this captivates the heart and enlightens the mind. While actress Comfort is taken in by wealthy abolitionist Flora Howard, and hired to give speeches for her cause, there's no role for May. What follows is the captivating account of a young woman's serpentine navigation of ghosts from her past, secrets, betrayal, and love, at great personal risk, in a land split by slavery. Dazzling, involving, and immensely memorable, I was swept away by the flow of this remarkable novel.
A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher And in May Bedloe she creates a heroine whose quiet strength and inquisitive nature makes for a page-turning read. I hope you love this as much as I do. With that in mind Borne could be described as a post-apocalyptic thriller with squishy bits, or possible human drama with tentacles. Scavenger Rachel finds a squid-like plant and takes it home where, in true Little Shop of Horrors style, it grows. It is not a plant; it is not a child; it is Borne. All she has to do is convince her secretive and paranoid lover, avoid the enigmatic magician, find enough food and salvaged scraps to survive and hide from the giant bear which is destroying the city.
Told in a bold, clear voice, with humour, love and no small amount of graphic violence, Borne is a stunning book. Secrets, twists and unreliable memories keep Rachel and the reader on their toes, and the dilemma of raising a child who might be a monster, is compelling. In that sense this is truly a human drama of how far the bonds of love will stretch in adversity.
Rachel is an excellent narrator and I really enjoyed her no-nonsense tone, upbeat despite the atrocities around her. June Debut of the Month. After a lifetime in London, Thomas returns to their homeland alone and soon begins to reacquaint himself with the traditions and life he left behind. When a friend in need asks him to help run his Optical Store, Thomas soon suspects that there is certainly more at work than meets the eye in the store. For the efficient and trusted assistant Rani is also providing lonely men and women the opportunity for a second chance in life and love.
Sheena Kalayil paints a wonderfully atmospheric picture of life in India and captures her characters perfectly so that I became invested in their stories and longed for them to find the happy ending they so deserved. A thought-provoking and wittily pointed debut, about the life and loves of the Plumb family. There are four siblings at the centre of this novel, Leo causes uproar when a chunk of their common nest egg is syphoned off for him. A tale of love, hate and everything inbetween, complicated layers are peeled away, revealing a family in turmoil.
There were times I almost felt as though I was eavesdropping, hearing a particularly juicy piece of gossip, could it possibly be true! The tale occasionally slips and slides away from the siblings, to other characters, the links combine to create moments of stillness and thought, or expose and cause mayhem. This is a cracking psychological thriller.
Told in first person from two different viewpoints it causes you to question the reliability of both women. Smart, sensitive, talented Bo, always mothering, always looking to save someone and Alice, young, damaged and a drifter. The two meet at a writers retreat and a spark sets off an unexpected chain of events that will change the lives of both women. The two embark on an intense, complex relationship which soon becomes obsessive and destructive. The beautifully atmospheric setting of the Lake District and bustling, bohemian Brighton echo the different characters at the heart of this story.
It was a chilling read, expertly crafted and difficult to put down. Truly a gem that will satiate an abundance of literary tastes, this is surely set to become a must-read sensation. Ginny Moon is almost fourteen, and has autism. But something is playing on Ginny's mind. Really playing on it. Ginny will do anything to reach her goal - lie, scheme, steal, set up her own kidnapping.
Ginny's journey will break your heart, but it will also heal it, for there are many moments of love and kindness along the way, and humour too. Her unforgettable voice is conjured with tender authenticity, and the shifting, increasingly on-the-edge family dynamics are incisively evoked. Oh what a thrilling and gloriously dramatic tale this is! A violent attack on a parent takes place within the grounds of a private school in Brighton, just days later, Cece moves into the area, her two youngest start at the school, and she becomes friends with the very women the police suspect of the crime.
Each chapter is headed by one of the women, each story told in the first person, ebbing and flowing between time periods. Within a short time I didn't have to look to see who was heading each chapter, each voice is absolutely individual and distinctive. I became so caught up in the story, I didn't want to miss a single sentence or word, this really is very clever, compelling writing indeed.
It is this London born girl, Angelika, who goes in search of her past and unearths the tragic tale which she shares with us. She is due to get married and would like her estranged family at her wedding. Her mother left Crete before Angie was born and has severed herself from her previous life. Angie finds her grandmother, aunts and uncles and is very slowly told of the atrocities of the Nazi occupation, civil war and then the junta. Graphic, bloody and horrific much is described in gory detail. Families are torn apart. Angie has problems of her own. As her wedding day draws close so the revenge and secrets of the two families come poring out.
We race to the end with our hearts thumping. Full of local colour and tradition this is a little slow to start but certainly builds to unexpected conclusions. Terrific stuff. Author: Ben H. A most unexpected, if gripping thriller from the author of the much-admired Last Policeman trilogy.
The book takes place in an America where the Civil War came to a different conclusion and agreements were fudged to divide the country into two zones, in one of which slavery is still tolerated, while in the North a compromised state of affairs reigns in which a black slave catcher becomes the involuntary hero of the proceedings where he has to smuggle himself behind southern lines to investigate a fiendish plot which could well involve his employers and the so-called liberal North. Intricate, at times breath-stopping, this is a hell of a thriller and one which although set in a dystopian imagined world remains so believable.
Will Victor prevail or is he being manipulated and what secrets are kept behind the borderline and the omnous plantations and factories? Answers are provided and they are anything but reassuring. A thriller that dares to ask questions. The premise is that four southern states in America did not abolish slavery and formed a republic within the USA. Tightly controlled borders exist and escaped slaves are ruthlessly hunted down. He is very good at what he does and goes under many different names.
This exciting story centres on a hunt to find Jackdaw, only our hero realises something is slightly off kilter. A relationship develops between him and a white girl with a mixed-race son and so some nice ambiguities are introduced. There is some heavy secret hanging over our hero and as the tale progresses we are never sure if he is good or not. Then there is an extra twist. A good story on all levels. Andrew Wilson effectively took me back in time to , creating an engaging, readable, and oh so colourful story. I absolutely adore the premise for this little book and the cover just invites you in.
Alexander McCall Smith has imagined a background tale to the five black and white photos that appear at the beginning of each short story. The photos are eloquent and moving, the stories delve deeply into possibilities, love and friendship, joy and melancholy.
From Sister Flora to a circus performer, each story is a small snapshot of what might have been, and as I read, I found myself drawn back to the photo, to look again and ponder. Alexander McCall Smith has transformed five forgotten photos into a discovery of delight. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher Maybe that they are just anonymous people from another age, as if from another planet. Or do you, like McCall Smith, hear their voices, know their names, sense their hopes and dreams and imagine how their lives might have turned out. Blessed with a wonderful, humane imagination, McCall Smith brilliantly constructs paths for these forgotten people - some joyous, others bumpy and winding, all with unexpected twists and turns.
An astonishing achievement: original and moving. May Book of the Month. Gosh, what a stunning read this is, I simply couldn't put it down and devoured it in one glorious sitting! Cassy travels half way around the world to New Zealand with her boyfriend, when they separate, Cassy is left stranded, and a split second decision changes the outcome of her life. I admit to grabbing this book as soon as it arrived in the office; Charity Norman has the ability to strike a chord, to answer a feeling, yet open your eyes and mind to new thoughts, and I simply love her writing.
The prologue, set in , sent chills racing down my arms, I almost had to sit on my hands to prevent me from sneaking a peak at the ending. As soon as I started to read chapter one, set in , I was swept away, and stayed immersed in the story as the tension escalated to almost unbearable levels. I chided, fumed, beseeched, pondered and considered. Lisa McInerney can really, really write, she can connect horror and beauty, violence and sweetness, she allows your mind to enter a world that feels scarily real, within touching distance.
Long may Lisa McInerney reign. For the readership, this is a huge historical novel to immerse yourself in. A dramatic, violent, absorbing, long read for which you need to put aside serious time to devour. You will find it difficult to put down. Charting the lives of two families, the Sels and the Duquets from to , it tells of the rape of the Canadian natural resources, namely timber and fur but predominantly timber. The first of the immigrant Sels married an Indian; their offspring are then trapped between two cultures. As you would expect, there is a huge number of characters for characters is what Proulx is all about.
This is a truly impressive work detailing the destruction of the forests to the point of ecological disaster. Two parallel stories, set in two time frames, where second chances and the links between two women flicker and burn with energy. As Madeleine discovers her grandmother, can she also re-discover herself? Eleanor Brown has a wonderful eye for detail, the descriptive detailing encouraged smells, sights and sounds to travel from the page into my consciousness. The two stories, full of life and emotion, twist and merge together into a beautiful relationship tale, yet for me, it was the subtle bitter sweet notes of reality that really added substance to this novel.
This is such a gorgeously expressive novel, it just sings with intensity, and is impossible to put down. Nine year old Leon loves his little brother Jake and his mum, he looks after them both as best he can, when Leon and Jake have to go and live with Maureen, Leon hatches a plan. Kit de Waal writes with a beautiful, sincere energy, the simplicity of the tale told from Leon's point of view allows a complicated backdrop of emotions to shine through. At times my heart absolutely ached, yet there are also proper laughter blurting moments, and I just wanted to gather everybody up into a huge, squashy hug.
A gloriously motley collection of characters come to life, each and every one of them is indispensable, and each affected me in some way. Told by many voices, some wise, some wicked, this is the story of a close community under unbearable strain. What is the breaking point where neighbours and even sisters will turn against each other?
The older people remember the Great Plague of , an unimaginable horror that decimated Europe, England and the village of Porlock. A mother of lost sons, a religious fanatic, a dwarf ex-jester, a lonely noble woman and others each tell their side of this harrowing story. Charm and sensitivity run throughout the narrative making this a frighteningly believable story. Medieval Porlock is skilfully evoked and some of the landmarks of the story are still visible today. A moving and disturbing tale of humanity pushed to the edge of society and beyond collapses.
Exciting, enthralling, enticing, disturbing and enjoyable, this is a wonderful read. A captivating and subtly beautiful novel, where heart-catching surprises lie in wait. Alex recalls life on the road at the age of 13, a trip undertaken with Mom, where lessons are learned, and the truth within explored.
The writing here is exquisite, the story evolves so simply, gradually revealing the complications that life has to offer. The wonderfully sensitive writing creates blasts of feeling, and woke my awareness as prickles of revelation travelled up my arms from the page. These characters feel so touchingly real, Alex opened my eyes, I smiled, I ached, I wept. A large collection of multi-national, mostly retired couples, invest in a new development of luxury apartments, La Joya, in Andalucia on the Costa del Sol in Spain.
We follow a securely married Irish couple with a demanding family, an American mother of twin girls with a serial-womanising husband and a Spanish control freak with a wife who is attempting to find inner peace. Frequently visiting the complex is a German interior designer and letting agent married to a Spanish property developer and a highly efficient female Spanish community manager who looks after the place.
In clean strokes the author paints their portraits in swift, interlocking sections, you get to know them all very quickly. All appears blissful until the Spanish economy plummets and the Irish euro hits rock bottom. Problems ensue both financially and emotionally with many a twist and surprise thrown at you. This is lively, sensitive and insightful, a big novel with plenty to get your teeth into.
March Book of the Month. A tale of lost memories and hidden secrets but will the truth destroy or heal? Lisa Jewell returns with yet another page-turner as she delves into the darker corners of the mind where the memories of our true self exist. The memories that we'll do anything to keep hidden. Alice Lake is drawn to a man she spots sitting on the beach. He simply stares out to sea oblivious of the rain, a man who remembers nothing of who he is or where he came from. Alice offers him shelter and the opportunity to attempt to rediscover what or who he is running away from.
But something sinister is lurking in his memory and as the past begins to come back to him he wonders if he is running away from a monster or if indeed the monster is actually him. This gripping read is not only a thrilling mystery but is also about accepting the past and learning to find a way to move on. Jewell keeps you guessing what the connections between threads and subtexts are until they all come gloriously together.
A wonderful novel to escape in to. Click here to read an exclusive interview with Lisa Jewell by Mary Hogarth. Three women and two investigators dance through a weaving, magical, almost dreamlike story. The prologue sent a thrilling chill coursing through me, I was immediately captivated and remained that way for the entire tale. This is most definitely a crime novel, yet it is also a mystery, and a story about love, I almost feel as though it shouldn't be categorised, but enjoyed instead for what it is, a stunning piece of literature.
Michel Bussi is an award-winning French novelist, this is the second of his novels to be translated into English. Descriptions are so immediate and evocative I felt as though I was about to step into a Monet painting. The plot kept me on the edge of the frame, just on the edge of understanding as I viewed the scenes in front of me.
As soon as I had finished, I just wanted to start reading again from the beginning. Why I love it is that it is such a clever and compelling read — mystery after mystery is revealed as the story unfolds, and at every turn you meet a new and fascinating character. I immediately wanted to go back and read the whole thing again! Despite the title — The Summer Before the War — which this terrific novel does indeed trace, it also spills into the horrors of the war years and eventually releases us back into some sort of very different peace.
Set mostly in pretty coastal Rye, full of the strictures of Edwardian Society, it is evocative and very moving, highlight the prejudices and injustices of the early 20th Century. Agatha, whose husband is in the Foreign Office, is campaigning for a woman to replace the Latin Master in the local Grammar School. War arrives and the author powerfully highlights the ignorance, stupidity and insensitivity of those in command against the resilience and courage of the ordinary soldiers.
It is heartbreaking, beautifully written and well researched. An excellent read. One of our Books of the Year The first page made me flinch, yet I couldn't, didn't want to stop reading. Shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction A surprising, emotional, and courageous novel, one where the words and feelings gradually unwind from the page and take up residence in your mind.
Set in Nigeria during the s, this is a story that at first feels like a window into another world, yet one that is somehow recognisable, as feelings are translatable, wherever they may be felt. Yejide desperately wants a child, her entire world collapses when her in-laws insist on her husband Akin marrying a new wife, in order to bear him children. We see the couple, feel their thoughts, the hurt and sorrow on both sides. I couldn't stop reading, yet the rawness, the pain was in every turn of the page.
Unexpected revelations smacked into my awareness, turned my thoughts, captivated me further. Ayobami Adebayo, in her debut novel, writes with a clear and simple intensity. Click here to read Ayobami Adebayo discuss her debut novel Stay with Me. Maxim Jakubowski's March Book of the Month. Shortly after the Russian revolution, a White Russian count is spared execution because of a subversive poem he wrote defying authority before the fall of the Czar and is, instead, exiled to an attic room in a luxury hotel in the heart of Moscow, where he once enjoyed a luxurious suite and all the amenities that wealth could provide.
Author: Janice Y. A remarkably touching and quite, quite beautiful read. Set in Hong Kong, the prologue is teeming with people making their way to this remarkable city. Margaret, Mercy and Hilary are three expatriate women learning to survive heartache in a different and sometimes difficult world.
Three distinct lives, at first separate, step closer to each other, then the links between the three women tighten, almost to choking point. Janice Y. Lee writes with an exquisite, startling intensity, she provokes thoughts and feelings into exploring identity, grief and a fluttering of possibilities. Hong Kong is breathtaking, with the mix of East and West acting as a vibrant backdrop to the intimate story of these women.
There is a real depth and energy to the writing, yet the thread of compassion that weaves through the pages ensures a delicate balance. Deceptively clever and utterly compelling, this beautifully written little book will continue to haunt your thoughts long after you've finished it. Set in Montreal, the world of Bilodo the postman is a simple one, but he regularly sneaks a peek into other peoples worlds by reading their handwritten letters; events take a darker turn as he deviates from voyeur into an obsessive usurper. The author uses Japanese haiku and tanka poetry to allow Bilodo to converse with the woman of his dreams; exquisite clusters of words will snag your attention and demand that you re-read them.
This is essentially a book of love, of what might have been and of what could still come… One of our Books of the Year February eBook of the Month. A rather special read indeed… there are times when you wonder how you've missed sight of, or hearing about a book, and for me this is one of them. This is a treat, a heartbreaking, funny, eye-opening, jam-packed full of love treat. Ben shares his story as he literally battles to place his autistic son Jonah, into what he considers is the right school.
Jem Lester writes with experience, yet he adds bittersweet, aching emotion, biting wit, and a lightness of touch that manages to skim joyfully across the pages. Letters from social services, the school, medical information, and receipts all find their way into the book, often bringing me up short and creating a link to the authenticity of the situation. Occasional photos, letters and little extras crop up through the book, making the journey from beginning to end feel even more intense and physically real.
At times I felt as though I was floating directly above Veblen, connected yet apart, and able to pick up on the smallest but most significant details. Elizabeth McKenzie writes with a beautifully considered yet free hand, with my feelings ranging from amused to curious, frustrated to sympathetic, and I also fell in love with a squirrel. This is a book to keep near at hand, a book to love and to cherish, to savour and to treasure. Absolutely enchanting, and not in a sugary syrupy sweet way, oh no, instead this is earthy and vibrant and real. Miss Ona Vitkus is years old, she lives on her own, relatively undisturbed, and then the 11 year old boy turns up on her doorstep.
The two become unlikely friends, with world records, birds and life histories becoming main topics of conversation. Monica Wood writes with beautiful empathy, she doesn't judge, or even provoke, she sets this gorgeous story in motion and allows you, as the reader along on the journey. Can there ever have been a heroine like Flora Banks? Inspired, she sets off alone to follow him, a heart-stopping journey that takes her deep into the Arctic landscapes of Norway, scribbled messages she writes to herself on her arms her only reassurance or guide.
Flora does find out the truth about the boy and about herself, but she needs all her courage. A unique mix, part coming-of-age, part psychological thriller, with an almost fairy-tale setting, this is a story that readers will want to read more than once, and one they will want to share with friends too.
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A family drama full of suspense, tension and heartache. Amanda Brooke lights the fuse and then fans the flames, encouraging questions as Nina turns her family inside out in an attempt to find answers and understand what has happened. This is a story deliberately set to challenge, prod and provoke, yet there is an undeniable sense of compassion and empathy touching the pages.
January Debut of the Month. The prologue is short, quirky and full of feeling, it sets the stage perfectly for what is to come. Julia Forster writes with a light, yet spiky and witty touch, however deeper darker tones lie in wait. The descriptive detail is stunning, images danced across my consciousness as I read. The humour slides across the page, there were parts that made me belly laugh out loud and others that caused me to wince, to pause and think.
The Post-Apocalyptic setting is so popular today that it is becoming annoying, so it is great to get a book like this one; not only well written but offering a new angle on the old story. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Amazon Advertising Find, attract, and engage customers.
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Series Quizzical series 2 of 3. Series Five ancestors series 2 of 7. Series Samurai kids series 4 of 6. Series Extreme adventures series 11 of Series Out of this world series 1 of Series Jack Mason adventure series 4 of 3. Series Trouble twisters series 2 of 3. Series Mosquito Advertising series 3 books. Series Mosquito Advertising series 2 of 3.
Series Mosquito Advertising series 3 of 3. Series Mosquito Advertising series 1 of 3. When he loses everything he loves in a tragic fire and the modern world finally catches up with him, Alfie embarks on a mission to change everything by finally trusting Aidan and Roxy enough to share his story, and enlisting their help to find a way to, eventually, make sure he will eventually die.
But Mistress Jane, in her warped 13th reality, has other ideas. And when Chu decides he needs either Tick or Jane to fulfill his plans, the unlikely duo find themselves having to work together for the greater good. But what is it about Tick that has everyone, even Master George, determined to stop him? Now, 13 year old Tick has received a letter that invites him to solve twelve clues in order to stop reality from 'splitting at the seams'. Along the way, Tick has to face up to some of his biggest fears and suspend his disbelief.
The obvious reward might be saving many lives, but the unexpected rewards include seeing how awesome his dad really is and making some real friends for the first time in his life. Milla is covered with radioactive waste and her hazard suit is running out of air. Otto is in the darkest depths of the ocean, where something hungry is circling.
Ten dangerous situations, ten brave kids and thirty minutes to escape. During each full forty minute count down, the dangerous situations play out right down to the last crucial moment. Find out who will live and who will die. When temperatures soar to 47 degrees one hot summer day, year-old Zeelie hopes the nearby bushfires everyones talking about aren't heading towards her family's new home. What will they do if the wind changes direction? What about their belongings and their beloved pets?
And why hasn't her mum and brother returned from Melbourne? Nothing can prepare Zeelie for what's to come. Can Jazz and Phoenix save their friend's father and themselves from some very dangerous people? Her best friend Anika has been kidnapped over a 20 year old mystery. Can the annoying school rebel help her link the clues, within the first 48 hours?
Ten dangerous situations. Ten brave kids. Fifty minutes to escape. A Tale of Fontania series Any two titles read from this series can be included as official Challenge books; up to five more titles can be included as your personal choice books. Or, you can search for a series name or the individual titles by using the Search function on the top left hand corner of the screen.
But if no one can fix their starship, they won't be playing anytime soon. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The A classic story of slavery and a runaway boy's exploits. Huckleberry Finn had a tough life with his drunken father until an adventure with Tom Sawyer changed everything. When Huck's dad returns and kidnaps him, he must escape down the Mississippi River with a runaway slave, Jim.
They face trouble at every turn, from floods and gunfights to armed bandits and the long arm of the law. Through it all, the friends stick together. Adventures of Nanny Piggins, The Nanny Piggins, the world's most glamorous flying pig, runs away from the circus and goes to live with the Greens as their nanny. The Green children, Derrick, Samantha and Michael, fall in love with her instantly. Who could not fall in love with a Nanny whose only job qualifications are her astonishing ability to be fired out of a cannon and her amazing ability to make chocolate cake, sometimes both at the same time?
Adventures of Scarygirl, The Abandoned on a remote peninsula, Scarygirl is rescued by Blister, a large friendly octopus. Blister and Scarygirl become best friends. But no one knows where Scarygirl came from, or who she really is, and her dreams are full of strange and disturbing visions. One fateful night, they witness a murder and the boys swear never to reveal their secret. They run away to be pirates and search for hidden treasure.
But, Tom gets trapped in a cave with the murderer. After-room, The Benjamin and Janie are trying to live a safe, normal life in America. But, they have the power to prevent nuclear disaster and sinister forces are circling. The advice of a mysterious, unscrupulous magician propels them into danger and towards the land of the dead. When their friend, Jin Lo, washes up on a remote island and finds herself on the trail of a deadly threat in China, they must somehow reach her to help. Agatha Oddly: The secret key Agatha Oddly is a girl who has embraced her namesake and aches to be a detective just like Agatha Christie.
And she's well-equipped to do just that, having read hundreds of mystery novels and collected disguises and all the tools of the trade. When a few events all line up to suggest that she has the key to solve a mystery that has the whole of London's attention, she springs into action. Living in the groundskeeper's cottage in Hyde Park, Agatha's adventures are set in the beautiful and the dark parts of London. But things have changed. Nomad's secret is out. Her peers know she is a Witness; a sorcerer with the rare ability to read others' magic. This causes ripples at HQ, especially when it means that Steel, the most popular cadet in her class, is no longer the centre of attention.
But there are greater threats than new rivals. When the cadets are sent to New Zealand to investigate a top-secret case, they find themselves in more danger than they bargained for. With no one to trust and time running out, it's a race to stop the Inductors before they have enough power to destroy HELIX for good. Agent Nomad: Eleventh hour, The Spies. Natalie Palladino was a normal fifteen-year-old, at a normal school, about to face a normal maths test.
No one can know that sorcery exists. And no one can know that Nomad is a Witness, with a dangerous magical gift. The Inductors are hunting her. If they find her, they will kill her. The problem is, Nomad hasn't mastered her powers. She can't levitate, fight or wield magic like her fellow recruits. If she's the only hope to stop a sorcerous bomb being detonated, the world is in trouble. The eleventh hour is coming. Airman Conor Broekhart was born to fly. In an age when many dreamed of flying, it became his destiny. When a cruel and cunning betrayal destroys his family, Conor must win the race for flight to save his family and right a terrible wrong.
Alchemyst, The Sophie and Josh Newman find their lives intertwined with Nicholas Flamel and the powerful book he protects, the Book of Abraham the Mage, that enables the holder to save or destroy the world. Alex Rider graphic novels series Any two titles read from this series can be included as official Challenge books; up to five more titles can be included as your personal choice books. Alex Rider series Any two titles read from this series can be included as official Challenge books; up to five more titles can be included as your personal choice books.
Alice's adventures in Wonderland On an ordinary summer's afternoon, Alice tumbles down a hole and an extraordinary adventure begins. In a strange, fantasy world, with even stranger characters, Alice finds herself growing more and more curious by the minute. Alien rescue Scott, Rudy and AJ think helping a bunch of trapped aliens is cool - until the aliens start fighting.
Aliens, ghosts and vanishings: strange and possibly true Australian stories Have you heard these most bizarre tales from around Australia? Did a UFO drag a family's car off the road in the middle of the outback? How did rocks rain from the sky in WA? And what became of the prime minister who went into the surf and was never seen again? Explore the strangest tales, most incredible encounters and creepiest urban legends in Australia's history.
Read about the investigations and weigh up the facts, do you believe the official explanations for these weird and wonderful events? All fall down Christobel, fourteen and heiress to a fortune, is bored and lonely until she decides to dress as a boy and rescue her servant's son who has been kidnapped. It becomes a dangerous game set in the crime and disease-ridden slums of The Rocks. All-day nightmare A "Give Yourself Goosebumps" story. You had terrible dreams last night. And when you wake up, you're not in your bed -- or your room. You're stuck in some creepy old house, and you can't remember your own name!
Your nightmares have only just begun Allegiant The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered - fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she's known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.
Want to be an eagle? Or a bear? Or a fish? Then check out the souvenir shop in Snakebite Canyon. They've got a pair of dried-up snake eyes with the power to turn you into a real animal. Maybe you'd like to buy a map of the lost gold mine. You could strike it rich. Or you could get attacked by a giant kid-eating spider! The choice is yours in this scary adventure that's packed with over 20 super-spooky endings. Amal unbound Twelve-year-old Amal loves learning and dreams of becoming a teacher.
Then something unimaginable happens. After an accidental run-in with the son of her village's corrupt landlord, she is forced to work as his family's servant to pay off her own family's debt. At the opulent and corrupt Khan estate, Amal realises she will have to find a way to work with others in order to bring about change, and to achieve her dreams. His mates are going to be so jealous.
Going up is awesome, but when disaster strikes, Spencer will need to be nothing short of amazing. Amber amulet, The Twelve-year-old Liam McKenzie patrols his suburban neighbourhood as the Masked Avenger - a superhero with powers so potent not even he can fully comprehend their extent. Along with his sidekick, Richie the Powerbeagle, he protects the people of Franklin Street from chaos, mayhem, evil and low tyre pressure - but can he save them from sadness?
Anaconda ambush Sam Fox is on a field trip with his uncle in the Amazon when he's swept over a waterfall into an underground lake and discovers a fortune in gold. But, there's an enormous anaconda lurking in the cave and the snake is just the first obstacle Sam will have to overcome if he's to get out of the Amazon alive. Ancient starship, The When an ancient starship has been discovered in the Egyptian desert, Amelia's dad is whisked away to help. Meanwhile, the first human guests have arrived at the hotel and they're turning out to be the strangest visitors yet.
Are the spaceship and the odd guests connected? Amelia and Charlie may be the only ones who can solve this puzzle And the ocean was our sky "Call me Bathsheba. Led by the formidable Captain Alexandra, they fight a never-ending war against men. Then the whales attack a man ship, and instead of easy prey they find the trail of a myth, a monster, perhaps the devil himself With their relentless Captain leading the chase, they embark on the final hunt, one that will forever change the worlds of whales and men.
Angel creek There are only two things that Jelly likes about the new house on Rosemary Street, the old apricot tree and the creek over the back fence. One night, Jelly and her cousins spot something in the creek's dark waters. At first, they think it's a bird but it's a baby angel with a broken wing. Jelly decides to keep it. But, she soon discovers that you can't just take something from where it belongs and expect that it won't be missed.
Angel: through my eyes The gripping tale of a teenage girl who has been separated from her family in the typhoon ravaged city of Tacloban in the Philippines. Battling looters, rubble, water damage, and the underlying fear that her family has been lost to the typhoon, Angel is desperate to find them again. Anila's journey Menace and mystery lie in wait for Anila Tandy who secures a job drawing birds for an English naturalist, travelling on a river boat up the Ganges River. Anila will use this journey to search for her father, missing for years and presumed dead.
Anila must test herself in the man's world of India, in the late s. Animal planet Colt Lawless is on the run, suddenly famous, and more than a little superhuman.
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But can he save the last animals on earth? The deadly rat flu virus has changed - humans are catching it and nobody is sure why. But he and Birdy are trapped in the sewers, and the man who holds the key to it all is being held prisoner at DoRFE Headquarters. Is this the end of the road - not just for the circus, but for all of humankind?
Apothecary, The In , after her parents are identified as communists, Janie must move from Los Angeles to the safety of London. The war has ended but it's a tense time, and Janie is uncomfortable at her new school. She notices Benjamin, a curiously defiant boy, who dreams of becoming a spy. When his father, an apothecary, is kidnapped, Benjamin and Janie are embroiled in a plot involving real espionage and nuclear threats.
Apprentices, The It's two years since Janie Scott last saw Benjamin Burrows, the mysterious apothecary's defiant son who stole her heart. Benjamin has been experimenting with a new formula, allowing him to communicate with Janie across the globe. When a mystery threatens them all, Janie, Benjamin and their friend, Pip, are thrown into a desperate chase around the world to find one another, while trying to unravel the mystery.
Ariki and the giant shark Ariki is not like the other children on Turtle Island. She belongs heart and soul to the sea, where she plays all day with the dolphins and turtles. One day, a giant shark appears and the fishermen are too afraid to go out. Without fish the people will starve - and only Ariki can save the day! Art fraud detective The security guard at the Town Hall Gallery has a big problem. Some of the priceless masterpieces have been stolen and replaced with cunning forgeries. The guard needs your sharp eyes and patience to identify the fake paintings. Ash princess Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes.
On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess - a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner. For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.
Then, one night the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield. Asterix series Any two titles read from this series can be included as official Challenge books; up to five more titles can be included as your personal choice books. Asterix versus Caesar When the chief's niece, Panacea, is captured by the Romans with her fiance, Tragicomix, the Gaulish warriors Asterix and Obelix join the Roman legion in order to find them.
Astrid Spark fixologist: the girl with the incredible, magnetic fingers The silly, inventive and fun adventures of a girl with a magnetic finger. Aurora rising The year is , and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch.
And Ty's squad isn't even his biggest problem. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler's squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy. Austere academy, The The Baudelaire orphans are sent to a terrible boarding school where they meet the Quagmire triplets and watch their backs for Count Olaf.
Bad beginning, The After the sudden death of their parents, the three Baudelaire children must depend on each other and their wits to outsmart a distant relative who is determined to use any means necessary to get their fortune. A story of misery. Barney and the secret of the french spies In orphaned Barney Bean now has a flourishing farm in the New South Wales colony and everything he ever dreamed of But when Elsie falls ill and Barney rushes to be by her side, he finally learns the deadly secret she has been hiding. Who is this strange and beautiful girl who will not speak?
And could France ever attack the isolated colony? Barney and the secret of the whales Barney Bean is keen to make his fortune and he hears a secret. A sailor's secret about the treasure of the colony. But, Barney wonders how chasing whales can make you rich, and whether an adventure at sea is worth leaving everything he loves. Batman: Nightwalker Returning home from his lavish eighteenth birthday party, Bruce Wayne stops a criminal's getaway - disobeying the police and crashing his car during the chase. Sentenced to community service in Gotham City's Arkham Asylum, he encounters some of the the city's most dangerous and mentally disturbed criminals.
Among these, Bruce meets the intriguing Madeleine who has ties to the Nightwalker gang that is terrorizing Gotham City. She's a mystery Bruce has to unravel but can he trust her? The Nightwalkers target the rich, and Bruce's name is next on their list. Battle boy series Easy to read adventures that time travel to some of the most intereting historical events to meet real people.
Any two titles read from this series can be included as official Challenge books; up to five more titles can be included as your personal choice books. Battle of the heroes Quinn, Sebastian, Elanor and Tom have defeated the black witch, Githa, and found the last crucial piece of the prophecy, the sea serpent's scale. Back now at Wolfhaven, they search desperately through the castle crypts for the sleeping heroes, whom they hope will save them all, before the dark moon rises and they lose everything.
Battlefront One hero lost in a raging tsunami. One sign pointing to a deadly battle. One day left until the end of After escaping from security officers, they must race to their final destination- Felix Scott's mega-ship Infinite Horizon- and decode one last deadly sign. If they don't get this right, then it's game over- not just for them, but for the whole world.
But after a mind-blowing secret is revealed in Antarctica, they're in for a heart-stopping final face-to-face battle with a unimaginable enemy. Who will live and who will die? Bear Grylls: Spirit of the jungle Mak and his family are in India. Things are going well until their raft is capsized on a wild river and Mak is separated and lost deep in the Indian Jungle. Can Mac survive long enough to find his way out of this strange, unfamiliar and dangerous landscape of bugs, bats, monkeys, snakes, bears, wolves, panthers and worst of all poachers?
And if he can survive, will he really want to leave? Sebastian and Elanor seek help from Crowthorne Castle but both allies and enemies will reveal themselves. Tom and Quinn venture into the mysterious moors where a hideous beast lies in waiting. Beast of Hushing Wood, The Ziggy Truegood feels a threatening presence in her tiny town of Hushing Wood, which is deepened by a recurring nightmare she has.
When Raffi, an exotic young boy, and his grandfather come to town Ziggy's fears intensify. Unfortunately, her own wise and knowledgeable grandfather is ill, unable to help her. She wonders are the pair there to save her or to hunt her? Beetle boy When his dad mysteriously goes missing from his job as Director of Science at the Natural History Museum, Darkus Cuttle moves in with his eccentric uncle.
Next door live two lunatic cousins with an enormous beetle infestation. But, the beetles are anything but ordinary. They're an amazing, intelligent super species, and they're in danger of being exterminated. Darkus and his friends must save the beetles. But, they're up against the mad scientist of fashion and haute couture, Lucretia Cutter, who has dastardly plans for the bugs.
Behemoth The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. The Darwinists will need it now they are at war with the Austrian Clanker powers. Alek, heir to the Austrian throne, is posing as a commoner while Deryn Sharp, a girl, is posing as a boy in the British Air Service. Despite their different philosophies, the pair unite aboard the airship Leviathan, hoping to end the war. Usually read by students in Years 9, 10 or above. Any two books from this series may be read as Challenge books; up to five more can be read as personal choice books. See Series lists for individual titles.
Their business of scavenging fishing tackle leads to a very dangerous encounter. Beowulf Beowulf, the fearless warrior battles three evils that terrorise the entire kingdom of Denmark. He slays Grendel the merciless ogre and his vengeful sea hag mother. In his old age, Beowulf faces a bloody struggle with the deadly dragon of the deep in which he may not be as successful as in his youth. Your aunt and uncle told you to stay out of their basement. So, of course, you check it out.
That's where you find the dusty old refrigerator. In the fridge there are two containers. One is filled with purple goop. It smells just like a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. The other holds a piece of chocolate cake. Your stomach is growling. If you eat the purple goop, you start shrinking. Pretty soon you're battling it out with a gigantic monster - a mouse! If you choose the cake, you grow into a tall giant. Now you're trying to escape the police, who are convinced you're a mutant alien! Beyond the bright sea Crow was just a baby when she was tied into a boat and pushed out to sea.
When she washes up onto a tiny island, there are just 3 clues to her origin; a birthmark in the shape of a feather, a ruby ring and a sea-soaked letter with just a few cryptic words remaining. Crow will set out on a remarkable treasure hunt, and discover what it truly means to be a family. Beyond the knock-knock door After ruining a classmate's costume party, the Bowman triplets are chased into the city sewers.
Locked inside, they discover a gateway to another world where sharks fly, swashbucklers scheme and party costumes become real. The triplets are mistaken for famous heroes and must fight the biggest trouble of all. Big book of Antartica, The Antarctica is the driest, coldest and windiest continent on Earth. Even though it is a harsh and difficult place to live, Antarctica is home to more than a thousand plant and several hundred animal species.
Antarctica has 90 per cent of Earth's ice and plays a major role in our weather. Scientists from around the world live and work in Antarctica to better understand the future of our planet. Welcome to The Big Book of Antarctica. Big dry, The With each year of drought the heat became worse. The lawns and crops withered and died. Buildings began to crumble and collapse, and more people left the city. George and his little brother, Beeper, become worried when their father fails to return from a trip to town for food and fuel.
Fear for the safety of their dad quickly becomes a fight for their own survival in the hot and brutal conditions. Lee Hargrove only wants one thing-to win a scholarship to Summer Sports Camp. His school is holding a competition and the winner gets to attend the camp for free. Lee is one of the favorites to win along with his friend, Cory "Lucky Duck" Duckworth and another athletic classmate, Laura Grodin.
Laura is good Lee has an idea and he's about to give Cory an unforgettable birthday present that will really get the party started. Blackthorn's betrayal: honouring a warrior's pledge Blackthorn's greatest desire, to become a Trahern warrior, is dangling within her reach. But, she must embark on a treacherous mission, deep into enemy territory, to infiltrate the Doane camp. She must locate the stolen daughter of Esil but the stakes are higher than she could ever imagine.
As the mission takes a sinister twist, Blackthorn's instincts are put to the ultimate test. Blackthorn: becoming a forest warrior Alyana is determined, despite being female, despite being so young, to become a great Trahern warrior. When her father dies, leaving her orphaned, she flees the constraints of her religious uncle's household and lives rough and wild, hunting and fighting in the great forest.
Then her worst fears are realised. It is far worse to be captured by her enemies, the Doane, than endure her previous loneliness and isolation. Blind trek Hilton and Tim can't stand each other. They are forced together via their parents' friendship and their bike has crashed in the middle of nowhere.