Category Archives: Book Reviews

life and death of sophie stark

March Book Reviews

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The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is admittedly not the sort of book I would usually choose. It is difficult to categorise its genre but it’s basically a series of character vignettes whose voices tell the story of a woman they all know – Sophie Stark. What kept me reading as much as any of the narratives or plotlines was morbidly wanting to find out how Sophie died – the title tantalises the reader to want to know. The author keeps us guessing until late in the story and in the interim a fragile, raw and often unlikeable protagonist is revealed.

The story explores love, bullying, grief, relationships, and challenges us to ponder which character actually knew the real Sophie, or if we are all multi-faceted revealing different parts of ourselves to different people.

I didn’t love it but the dichotomy is that it held my attention and I’m still thinking about it!

Review by Alice.



March Book Reviews

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Sing Fox To Me by Sarah Kanake is an engrossing read, which I read in one sitting. It’s a tumultuous story of lost and broken characters searching for others and themselves. Twin teenage boys are abandoned by their father to live on a remote Tasmanian mountain with their almost-hermit grandfather. Jonah wants to break free from his twin Samson who has down syndrome, and Samson just wants things to make sense. Both go beyond the limits of the house on the mountain – one to discover love and delight and the other to turn desperate and brutal. All the while their grandfather grieves for his lost daughter, and hopes for a fleeting glance of a Tasmanian tiger. This is a story in which memory is overlaid with the present, and characters do the best and worst. The setting of the mountain makes for both an immense and confined space and the ever-present feeling of something sinister.

A compelling and well-crafted story sure to hold your attention.

Review by Alice.



Once upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

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The letters of our alphabet work tirelessly to make words that in turn make stories, but what if there was a story FOR each of the letters instead? Turn the pages of this exquisite book to find out…

Here you will discover twenty-six short stories introducing a host of new characters (plus the occasional familiar face). From Edmund the astronaut with his awkward fear of heights, via the dynamic new investigative duo of the Owl and the Octopus, through to the Zeppelin that just might get Edmund a little bit closer to where he needs to be, this book is packed with funny, thrilling, perilous and above all entertaining tales inspired by every letter in the alphabet.

An adventure to follow from A to Z, or a treasure trove to dip in and out of, Once Upon an Alphabet is a work of exhilarating originality from artist Oliver Jeffers, the creator of much-loved modern classics such as Lost and Found and The Incredible Book Eating Boy.

RRP $28.00


THE ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO by Carlo Collodi, Illustrations by Robert Ingpen

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The astonishing tale of how the old wood carver Geppetto made a disobedient puppet boy from an unusual piece of wood, who could talk, dance and turn somersaults, has been a much-loved story since it was first written more than 130 years ago.

In this handsome new edition, award-winning illustrator Robert Ingpen has captured the rascally Pinocchio and his extraordinary escapades as never before, breathing new excitement into this enchanting classic. RRP $40.00


The Children Act by Ian McEwan

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A brilliant, emotionally wrenching new novel from the author of Atonement and Amsterdam.
Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, presiding over cases in the family court. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now, her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.
At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, Adam, is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents share his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely held faith? In the course of reaching a decision Fiona visits Adam in hospital – an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara

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A Little Life

by Hanya Yanagihara

Man Booker Shortlist 2015

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.


SWEET CARESS by William Boyd

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William Boyd tracks Amory Clay, his compeeling fictional character, journey from conventional English gentility to celebrated war photographer with an absolute mastery of tone. He has an ability to convey the immediacy of a situation with fluid, precise prose. Here he is describing the sights as Amory is in a helicopter over Vietnam: “Only the scars, the bulldozed brick-coloured scabs on hilltops and ridge-ends of abandoned firebases and observation posts mar the abundant, lush greenery. Looking closer, I see areas of felled or flattened trees, and occasional clusters of rimey, water-filled bomb or shell craters, like pustulant ulcers. The green landscape seems primordial, untouched – but of course it isn’t.”

Amory’s fictional voice never wavers. She can be tricky, contradictory and impulsive, but this only serves to emphasise her realness. She emerges from this novel as a rounded, complex, infernally beguiling human being.(guardian)