Looking for some stocking fillers or your own summer reading? Here are a few of our favourites from 2019… wish we could list them all, but that would fill its own book.
Judy Nunn once again delivers a fantastic story – she really is one of Australia’s great novelists. It’s March 1942 and Townsville is transformed into the transport hub for 70,000 American and Australian soldiers destined for combat in the South Pacific. Khaki Town is inspired by a true wartime story that has remained a well-kept secret for over seventy years. Polished, well-paced, and exceptionally well researched, this isn’t just great storytelling, but important storytelling. Unputdownable.
Inspired by a remarkable true story, this is the unforgettable journey of five extraordinary women living in depression era USA. It’s a love letter to the power of books and literature and their ability to bring us together and deliver the truth, as well as a tribute to female friendship. The Giver of Stars is the book that Jojo Moyes was born to write.
From the harsh desert of Africa’s Kimberley diamond mine to the misty, green plains of northern England, The Diamond Hunter is a breathtaking adventure story about trust and betrayal, class structure and social justice. A fresh, fabulous tale, meticulously researched, and perfectly executed. She really is a master storyteller. An excellent read that will keep you up at night, unable to put it down.
If you’re a Reacher fan you’ll love this latest instalment. If you’re new to the series, you’ll be putting the backlist onto your TBR pile. Blue Moon is set in a nameless city where two ruthless rival criminal gangs, one Albanian, the other Ukrainian, are competing for control. But they hadn’t counted on Jack Reacher arriving on their patch.
Crime or thriller
Lizzie Burdett was eighteen when she vanished, and Noah Carruso has never forgotten her. She was his first crush, his unrequited love. She was also his brother’s girlfriend. As her inquest looms, Noah meets Alice… a woman with her own secrets… You Don’t Know Me is a stunning thriller about the burden of shame. Clever plotting and expert pacing has you glued to the edge of your seat, never really certain of who the killer is, which always makes for a great read.
The Rip is a slow-burning, utterly riveting story about a young woman caught in a deadly situation. An urban crime novel that slowly and masterfully hooks you in… then shocks with the horrific crime and the dread that the characters you care about aren’t going to make it out alive.
Six years ago, Evie Cormac was discovered, filthy and half-starved, hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a shocking crime. Now approaching adulthood, Evie is damaged, self-destructive and has never revealed her true identity. Forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven, a man haunted by his own past, is investigating the death of champion figure-skater Jodie Sheehan. When Cyrus is called upon to assess Evie, she threatens to disrupt the case and destroy his ordered life. An unnerving psychological thriller from one of the greatest crime writers of today,
In June 2018, for seventeen days, the world watched and held its breath as the Wild Boar soccer team were trapped deep in a cave in Thailand. Marooned beyond flooded cave passages after unexpected rains, they were finally rescued, one-by-one, against almost impossible odds… This hooks you in from the word go. You’ll be flipping pages until the very end, praying those boys will be rescued again. Compulsive, fascinating… highly recommended.
Debbie Harry is a musician, actor, activist and the iconic face of New York City cool. As the front-woman of Blondie, she and the band forged a new sound that brought together the worlds of rock, punk, disco, reggae and hip-hop to create some of the most beloved pop songs of all time. This is a great read for anyone interested in music, fashion and the arts. The reader is immersed in the journey of Harry’s well-crafted character, an exercise in successful branding well before that term was invented. Face It is so cool you should wear gloves while you hold it!
Literary we love
There Was Still Love is a reflection or a meditation on families, filled with history, rituals, longing, escape and the meaning of home. This is the story of a family torn apart by a war and how they survived afterwards. It transports the reader to another time, there is warmth, bitterness, desperation, the sting of aching separation of families but there is also love, song, laughter, food and hope.
Fraser Island, 1882. The population of the Badtjala people is in sharp decline following a run of brutal massacres. German scientist Louis Müller offers to sail three Badtjala people to Europe to perform to huge crowds. Intelligence, empathy and brutal honesty permeates this exquisitely written book. This is a story of love, bravery, culture, and the fight against injustice. I will be telling everyone to read this phenomenal novel. Paris Savages is a stunning achievement.
For history lovers
Convict William Buckley escaped into the Australian bush. Discovered and adopted by an aboriginal tribe, he was initiated into their culture. Given up for dead by his white captors, he was not seen again for more than 30 years… when one day he appeared…carrying a spear, dressed in animal skins and having forgotten the English language. Buckley’s Chance is a fabulous yarn, a profound journey into a turning point in history where cultures clash, bitter rivals go to war and the body count mounts. It’s also the story of a man prepared to defy all odds and take a chance.
This extraordinary book captures the incredible and previously untold stories of forty Anzac boys who fought in the First World War, from Gallipoli to the Armistice. It presents an important part of military history, but it is history made deeply personal. It is a touching and powerful homage to youthful bravery and a poignant reminder of the sacrifice of war. These tales are both heartbreaking and rousing, full of daring, ingenuity, recklessness, random horror and capricious luck.
Great books for kids
Filled with over 100 stories, jokes, cartoons and bits of silliness and written by a very long list of well-known children’s authors, cartoonists and illustrators Funny Bones is a must for the long summer holiday break! It’s also the perfect way for kids to sample new authors. All proceeds go to charity War Child that provides aid to children affected by war.
Contributing authors include: Sally Rippin, Andy Griffiths, Garth Nix and Matt Cosgrove
Grandma Lucky tells the story of her childhood performing in far flung places with a troupe of clever animal friends to her granddaughter Matilda. One summer she spots six wild ponies and Lucky wants to catch them but can wild creatures be happy if they’re not free?
As with all Alison Lester books the illustrations are stunning and contribute greatly to the richness of the story. From the bold images of Grandma Lucky as a young girl with a lasso standing on the back of her horse to the sprightly, rounded dogs and Noni the Pony style horses, each page is a visual treat.
Australian author, Lucy Bell has done all the hard work for us with a guide that provides practical information on how to make a positive difference to the world one step at a time. This is the go-to book for anyone who wants guidance on how to tackle everyday life in the most environmentally responsible, kind and aware way. It’s Beautifully illustrated and the perfect gift for young people that you can genuinely feel good about handing over.
Other kids’ bestsellers:
Tempt a teen
18-year-old Dina is an elite swimmer, but her dreams of Olympic Gold have recently been derailed so her parents ask her to accompany her sister on an around-the-world trip. Resentful and broken, but with nothing better to do with her life, Dina boards the plane – first stop Tokyo. Two weeks in the world’s most amazing mega-city completely turns Dina’s life upside-down and for the first time ever, she begins to figure out what she wants, both in and out of the water. This is book #1 is The Lost Girls series, written by Better Reading’s very own Lifestyle Editor. It’s about a group of friends who go travelling together after completing the HSC. Book #2 Off the Map has the group travelling to Europe. Perfect for the 14 + reader.