A couple of months ago I read a young adults book called These Broken Stars by two young authors, Amie Kaufmann and Meagan Spooner.  No, I’m not a young adult, but at times you need fiction like this.  And I loved the book.  It’s sort of Cinderella in reverse, set in the future when space travel and exploration is the norm.  Now there is the second book of the series coming, This Shattered World, due for publication December 1. These two books I can’t recommend highly enough – for either the teen in your family, or the adult who needs something a little less challenging.


We’re really delighted that Yotam Ottolenghi has done a follow on from his best selling vegetarian cookbook, Plenty. The new one is called Plenty More, and is another brilliant collection of vegetarian dishes.  With Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Everyday Veg, my vegetarian cookbooks are complete.


These are two of my favourite authors.  Niall Williams is Irish, and wrote those stunning books Four Letters of Love and As It Is in Heaven. He’s taken five years to write his new book, History of the Rain, and it’s been worth the wait.  His writing is lyrical, intelligent, with a great sense of place.  In short, beautiful.  Completely different is Malla Nunn’s Present Darkness, a book that continues the story of Detective Emmanuel Cooper, a detective in 1952’s South Africa with its apartheid society.  Nunn is able to bring that time to life and we understand the pitfalls in Cooper’s life, a man who fought in WWII and is still suffering from his battles.  If you like crime, you’ll love Malla Nunn.


We’re really excited to have Paul back again to share his experiences with intuition and how we can get it to work for ourselves.  Last year his talk was on how we can bring intuition into areas of business.  His talk this week will be on a more personal basis, on how we can use intuition to benefit our personal relationships.  It’s a really interesting subject to delve into.  I find with each of Paul’s talks, I learn something.  Call us on 9973 1244 if you’d like to join us.  More info on our events page.


We read this book in our bookclubs for March and I wanted to tell you just how amazing most of us thought this book was.  Two of the three goups thought unanimously  it was one of the best books they had read for a long time, and a couple of ladies said it was among their best books ever.  The third group had a couple of dissenters which wasn’t to do with the writing, but to do with the subject matter.  I go along with most of you – it is truly a brilliant book, wonderfully written, with a lot in it to talk about.  Which lie out of a number we all mentioned was the book named for.  This book has also made a surprising number want to read more of Dunmore’s work.  And that’s always a good sign.


I don’t know if you’ve ever read Valerie Martin’s books.  She won the Orange Prize a couple of years ago for Property, and writes  brilliantly.  Her latest book, The Ghost of Mary Celeste, is fabulous.   It’s based on the story of the ghost ship, the Mary Celeste, which was found floating mid Atlantic, abandoned, the crew having taken to a lifeboat.  Martin expertly weaves in Arthur Conan Doyle, the Victorian era of spiritualism and a wonderful heroine.  It’s a great story, beautifully written.


I know a couple of years ago I talked about Helen Dunmore’s amazing book The Siege, the story of the St Petersburg siege by the Germans in WWII told from the Russian’s perspective.  I still have some of those images in my head – that’s how good she is at painting pictures with words.  Her new book, The Lie, has done exactly the same thing with Cornwall and WWI, but as well she has painted such grief and torment surrounding Dan.  He’s very young, has just returned from WWI and the horror of the trenches.  Everything at home has changed, and as a result of a small, inoffensive lie, told with good intentions, his entire life will change.  Read it.  It’s an amazing book.


OK, so you got some books for Christmas, some great,  some really not what you wanted to read.  So what did I love?  Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, Wally Lamb’s We Are Water, Maria McCann’s Ace, King, Knave, and Garry Disher’s Bitter Wash Road. What didn’t I like?  Tim Winton’s Eyrie. I did finish it, but it’s not a book I’ll cherish or recommend.  What did I give up on?  The Booker Prize winner The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton at about page 150 (seems to be the standard giveup place) and a new book by Brian Conaghan When Mr Dog Bites. The best book about Tourette’s is still Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn. Nothing else comes close, just poor attempts to copy.  You can tell I need a holiday!


I’ve been a bit remiss lately – it’s that time of the year when we are flooded with stock and it’s really hard trying to keep up with what’s coming in.  I thought I’d list my picks for Christmas.  With fiction, it’s got to be Donna Tart’s The Goldfinch, Wally Lamb’s We Are Water, Joe Lansdale’s The Thicket (when we can get stock), Richard Flanagan’s Narrow Road to the Deep North,  and Gary Disher’s Bitter Wash Road. With non fiction (bio and history) Rob Mundle’s Cook, Mark Donaldson’s Crossroad, Mike Carlton’s First Victory  1914, and Arthur Phillip: Sailor, Mercenary, Governor and  Spy by Michael Pembroke.  There are some knockout cookbooks, including Neil Perry’s Simply Good Food and Karen Martini’s Everyday. There are so many fabulous kids books – popups, lift the flaps, illustrated, just plain readers for all ages, that you really need to see to choose.

And I guess that’s it from us here at Bookoccino.  Our best wishes for a very happy, joyful Christmas, and if we dont see you over the holidays, we’ll see you next year.


I think each of his books gets better.  The books of his I’ve read are set in eastern Texas usually around the turn of last century and yes, they are crime books. The Thicket is the story of 16 year old Jack and his 14 year old sister Lula who has been kidnapped by a gang of outlaws.  Jack is determined to find her so enlists a team of bounty hunters – a Negro/Commanche who is a part time grave digger and tracker with a liking for the bottle, a dwarf who is the smartest of them all, and a 600 lb hog who thinks he’s either a dog or a human.  This quartet head out in search of the outlaws and by the time they catch up, the quartet has grown considerably, everyone interested in sharing the reward money.  It’s very difficult to pull off crime writing and humour, but Lansdale does it brilliantly.  Do grab a copy.  And you’ll see what I mean.


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