The Book Brief: The Very Best New Release Books in October


Each month we bring you the best new release books in our Book Brief.

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Fiction Books

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

This is a story about war, murder, sex, romance, betrayal and incest. King David is a man we think we know something about but we know very little. History, legend and myth converge around the David and Goliath story. Although little is known about him Geraldine Brook’s fiction brings the man and his times to life, so much so we begin to think it is all true. A very human account of a complex man. Chris

Golden Age by Jane Smiley

The third novel in the dazzling Last Hundred Years Trilogy from the winner of the Pulitzer Prize. 1987. A visit from a long-lost relative brings the Langdons together again on the family farm; a place almost unrecognisable from the remote Iowan farmland Walter and Rosanna once owned. Whilst a few have stayed, most have spread wide across the US, but all are facing social, economic and political challenges unlike anything their ancestors encountered. After a hundred years of personal change and US history, filled with words unsaid and moments lost, Golden Age brings to a magnificent conclusion the century-long portrait of one unforgettable family.

Dictator by Robert Harris

There was a time when Cicero held Caesar’s life in the palm of his hand. But now Caesar is the dominant figure and Cicero’s life is in ruins. Riveting and tumultuous, Dictator encompasses some of the most epic events in human history yet is also an intimate portrait of a brilliant, flawed, frequently fearful yet ultimately brave man – a hero for his time and for ours. This is an unforgettable tour de force from a master storyteller.

The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray

This is a comic masterpiece about love, art, greed and the banking crisis, from the author of Skippy Dies.  What links the Investment Bank of Torabundo, (yes, hots with an s, don’t ask), an art heist, a novel called For the Love of a Clown, a four-year-old boy named after TV detective Remington Steele, a lonely French banker, a tiny Pacific island, and a pest control business run by an ex-KGB man? You guessed it…

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of economic and social collapse. When they see an advertisement for the Positron Project in the town of Consilience – a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own – they sign up immediately. A sinister, wickedly funny novel about a near-future in which the lawful are locked up and the lawless roam free, The Heart Goes Last is Margaret Atwood at her heart-stopping best.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin

Brings together for the first time the first three official prequel novellas to A Song of Ice and Fire, set in an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living memory. Featuring more than 160 illustrations by Gary Gianni, one of the finest fantasy artists of our time, this beautiful volume will transport readers to the world of the Seven Kingdoms in an age of bygone chivalry.

Non Fiction Books

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

Over twenty years ago, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his home. The hilarious book he wrote about that journey, Notes from a Small Island, became one of the most loved books of recent decades, and was voted in a BBC poll as the book that best represents Britain. Now, for his first travel book in fifteen years, Bryson sets out again, on a long-awaited, brand-new journey around the UK.

Fascinating Footnotes From History by Giles Milton

Did you know that Hitler took cocaine? That Stalin robbed a bank? That Charlie Chaplin’s corpse was filched and held to ransom? Giles Milton is a master of historical narrative: in his characteristically engaging prose, Fascinating Footnotes From History details one hundred of the quirkiest historical nuggets; eye-stretching stories that read like fiction but are one hundred per cent fact.

Paris In Style by Janelle McCulloch

Having written three bestselling books about Paris, journalist, author and photographer Janelle McCulloch thought she knew most of the best places in which to stay, wander and explore. But the more time she spent in Paris, the more she realised how much there was still to discover. Paris in Style reveals this city’s most surprising and fascinating fashion, design and style destinations. It is the ultimate insider’s guide for travellers seeking style, creative inspiration and unforgettable experiences.

The White Road by Edmund De Waal

Acclaimed writer and potter Edmund de Waal sets out on a quest – a journey that begins in the dusty city of Jingdezhen in China and travels on to Venice, Versailles, Dublin, Dresden, the Appalachian Mountains of South Carolina and the hills of Cornwall to tell the history of porcelain.

The Lost Tudor Princess by Alison Weir

This is the biography of an extraordinary life that spanned five Tudor reigns, a life packed with intrigue, drama and tragedy. A brave survivor, she was instrumental in securing the Stuart succession to the throne of England for her grandson. Her story deserves to be better known.

Australia’s Second Chance by George Megalogenis

Our second chance is now; will we use it or lose it? Crunching numbers and weaving history into a riveting, rollicking tale, George Megalogenis brilliantly chronicles the waves of immigration from the First Fleet onwards and uses his unique abilities in decoding economics and demography to advance this new insight into our history, and our future.

Food For Family by Guillaume Brahimi

Celebrated French – Australian chef Guillaume Brahimi visits some of Australia’s most charming and stylish homes, creating delicious menus inspired by the people and place, and discovering what makes a house a home. This is big-hearted, full-flavoured food, perfect for sharing with those you love.

Wendy Whiteley and the Secret Garden by Janet Hawley

For more than twenty years Wendy Whiteley has worked to create a public garden at the foot of her harbourside home in Sydney’s Lavender Bay. This is the extraordinary story of how a determined, passionate and deeply creative woman has slowly transformed an overgrown wasteland into a beautiful sanctuary for everyone to enjoy – and in the process, transformed herself.

When It’s Right To Be Wrong by Russel Howcroft

Whether he’s selling beer, health insurance or the army, former adman Russel believes in the power of the idea, and that creativity is needed to make good things happen. Whether it’s about business or everyday life, Russel knows sometimes you simply have go against the tide.

More Letters of Note by Shaun Usher

More Letters of Note is another rich and inspiring collection, which reminds us that much of what matters in our lives finds its way into our letters. These letters deliver the same mix of the heartfelt, the historically significant, the tragic, the comic and the unexpected.

Pacific by Simon Winchester

Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world’s largest body of water, and – in matters economic, political and military – the ocean of the future. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world’s most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester’s thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.

Childrens’ Picture Books

Counting Lions by Virginia McKenna

This is a simply stunning picture book that you will want for yourself as much as for the kids. Illustrated with exquisitely detailed charcoal drawings of endangered animals, this book works as both a basic counting book, an introduction to ecology and as a view into the lives and habits of the 10 animals listed. For art lovers, animal lovers and the whole family. Ian

Deep In The Woods by Christopher Corr

A retelling of the Russian folk tale Teremok. A little mouse finds the perfect little house in the woods, then comes along rabbit and mouse asks him to live in the little house. Then owl and many more animals until bear climbs on the roof and the little house crashes to the ground. Can he put everything right? The most amazing colour and illustrations. Jan

Paris: Up, Up and Away by Helen Druvert

The Eiffel Tower is bored – wouldn’t it be nice to fly away. So it decides to take off for the day and watch the city work and play. A magical crafted book to delight young and older readers. A great gift for children and adults. Jan

Books for First Readers

Mango & Bambang: The Not-a-Pig by Clara Dulliamy

A beautifully illustrated collection of four stories about the friendship between Mango, a little girl, and Bambang, an Asian Tapir. Mango Allsorts is good at all sorts of things. Bambang is definitely not a pig but lost in a big city. When they meet a friendship begins filled with adventure and lots of banana pancakes. The perfect read for those just becoming confident at reading alone. Jan

Books for Young Readers

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

From the author of the Percy Jackson novels comes a new series and we are all very excited. This time Riordan breathes new life into the Norse myths. Magnus Chase, a 16 year old homeless boy discovers on his 16th birthday that he is the son of a Norse god, there for a demigod and of course he has to save the world! Full of exciting action scenes and plenty of laughs this new series is sure to be a big hit! Ian  

Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams

Hoorah !! A new novel form David Walliams, get ready to laugh till your jaw hurts. Jake’s grandfather eats funny food, wears his slippers to the supermarket and can’t always remember Jake’s name but he always ready to take to the skies in his spitfire and save the day. A story full of heart, adventure and the bond between a boy and his beloved grandfather. And did I mention it is really, really funny? Ian

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

In this magnificent reimagining of the form he originated, two stand-alone stories-the first in nearly 400 pages of continuous pictures, the second in prose-create a beguiling narrative puzzle. A gripping adventure and an intriguing invitation to decipher how the two narratives connect, “The Marvels” is a loving tribute to the power of story from an artist at the vanguard of creative innovation.

Books for Young Adults

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On follows the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from Fangirl. Simon just wants to enjoy his last year at Watford School of Magicks but lifes dramas get in the way. Ghosts, vampires and evil things are trying to shut Simon down. With love, mystery and melodrama this is another fabulous read from Rainbow Rowell. Jan



The Book Brief: The Very Best New Release Books in October


Each month we bring you the best new release books in our Book Brief

Fiction Books

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

I am not going to ruin this outrageously funny book for you by telling you what happens this time round to Don. However Rosie and Don have been married for 10 months so expect the expected! Lots more lists, lots more misunderstandings, lots more laughs and even tears. Absolutely charming! Chris

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel delivers a brilliant collection of contemporary short stories that demonstrate what modern England has become. Mantel brutally and acutely writes about gender, marriage, class, family, and sex, cutting to the core of human experience. Unpredictable, diverse, and even shockingly unexpected, each story grabs you by the throat within a couple of sentences. A magnificent writer at the peak of her powers.

Amnesia by Peter Carey

When Gaby Baillieux releases the Angel Worm into the computers of Australia’s prison system, freeing hundreds of asylum seekers, she sets off a chain reaction. These prisons are run by US companies, and so the doors of some 5000 American institutions have also opened. And to some watching eyes, the secrets of both countries threaten to pour out.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Lila is wise in the ways of the world and she is about to embark on a new type of existence. From homelessness to a home, from wandering around in the world of hard knocks to a sheltered life in Gilead, from loneliness and mistrust to companionship and marriage to the Reverend Ames. All familiar names and themes from Marilynne Robinson’s previous prize winning novels. Lila questions everything as she tries to make sense of her new world just as the reader does. Chris

A History of Loneliness by John Boyne

Set in Ireland and a different sort of troubles. The Catholic Church is being brought to its knees over numerous allegations over child abuse. The cover up is distressing. John Boyne walks us through this utterly unbelievable time with the character Odran. His tragic life and his vocation to the priesthood. He is an innocent in many ways and sees the good around him. This is an amazing novel that Boyne has given us. Please do not be put off by the subject. Chris

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

The companion novel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry about Queenie the person he was walking towards. They had been friends, in fact she had loved Harold but something pulled them apart. Harold a quiet and ordinary man. Queenie feisty and not ordinary. But what does ordinary mean? A profound experience. Read in what ever order you want but please read. Chris

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

It is the late 1960s in Ireland. Nora Webster is living in a small town, looking after her four children, trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. The portrait that is painted in the years that follow is harrowing, piercingly insightful, always tender and deeply true. Colm Toibin’s Nora is a character as resonant as Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary, and Nora Webster is a novel that illuminates our own lives in a way that is rare in literature. Its humanity and compassion forge an unforgettable reading experience.

Non-Fiction Books

Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty changed the way people cook and eat. Its focus on vegetable dishes, with the emphasis on flavour, original spicing and freshness of ingredients, caused a revolution not just in this country, but the world over. Plenty More picks up where Plenty left off, with 120 more dazzling vegetable-based dishes.

My Story by Julia Gillard

Here, in her own words, Julia Gillard reveals what life was really like as Australia’s first female prime minister. Refreshingly honest, peppered with a wry humour and personal insights, Julia Gillard does not shy away from her mistakes, admitting freely to errors, misjudgements, and policy failures as well as detailing her political successes.

The Menzies Era by John Howard

An assessment of Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister by Australia’s second-longest serving Prime Minister – a significant, unique and fascinating history of the Menzies era. John Howard, only ten when Menzies rose to power, and in young adulthood when the Menzies era came to an end, saw Menzies as an inspiration and a role model. His unique insights and thoughtful analysis into Menzies the man, the politician, and his legacy make this a fascinating, highly significant book.

More Fool Me by Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry invites readers to take a glimpse at his life story in the unputdownable More Fool Me. It is a heady tale of the late Eighties and early Nineties, in which Stephen – ever more driven to create, perform and entertain – burned bright and partied hard with a host of famous and infamous friends, regardless of the consequences. This electric and extraordinary book reveals a new side to Mr Fry. 

Also, Anyway… by John Cleese

Candid and brilliantly funny, this is the story of how a tall, shy youth from Weston-super-Mare went on to become a comedy giant. Punctuated with John Cleese’s thoughts on topics as diverse as the nature of comedy, the relative merits of cricket and water-skiing, and the importance of knowing the dates of all the kings and queens of England, this is a masterly performance by a master performer. 

The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb

For decades, feminism has argued the case for getting women into the workplace. Affirmative action, support schemes, paid maternity leave yet why aren’t women  better represented in the boardrooms and ministries of this country.  The answer may be they need a wife.   The Wife Drought is not a shout of rage, but it is asking us to sit up and listen. To think about flexibilty iin the work place for men and women.  A very informative read, lots of facts and figures and anecdotes about how Annabel herself has coped. Chris

Childrens’ Picture Books

Once Upon An Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

Letters of the alphabet – make words – make stories. In this funny, thrilling and entertaining book Oliver Jeffers brings to life the alphabet in 26 short stories introducing some new characters as well as some familiar faces. Jan & Danica

A Bean, A Stalk And A Boy Named Jack by William Joyce

You might think you know the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, but you might want to think again. In this fairy tale with a twist, it hasn’t rained in days and the king has dictated that something must be done – his royal pinky is getting stinky! A fractured fairy tale from William Joyce who brought you The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Books for First Readers

Clementine Rose and the Famous Friend by Jacqueline Harvey

It’s a New Year and Clementine Rose is going to back to school. A new teacher who sets the class a new project and a mysterious guest at Penberthy House who never leaves her room gives Clemmie plenty to think about. Does the guest like children, who is she, why is she so secretive? We will have to read the book to find out! Jan & Danica

Books for Young Readers

Awful Auntie by David Walliams

The next heartfelt and hilarious new novel from David Walliams, the number one bestselling author! A page-turning, rollicking romp of a read, sparkling with Walliams’ most eccentric characters yet and full of humour and heart.

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Our favourirte Demigod is back in an all new adventure! Giants are roaming the earth and forming an army. What is a band of young demigods to do but stand and fight? Will they be able to reach Athens before the great Goddess Gaea wakes? Read the book and find out! Ian

Books for Young Adults

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Darcy, a young writer, get the publishing deal of a lifetime. Only to find that she has trouble writing, and the boundaries between fact and fiction blur as she defers her first year of university and moves to Manhattan. Darcy’s life and her manuscript are revealed in alternating chapters. This book is the perfect blend of contemporary love story and fantastical thriller.

Skink No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

How to avoid boarding school – Malley decides to take off with someone she’s met online. Richard, her cousin knows that she may be in trouble. He enlists the help of the one-eyed Skink. Undaunted by storms, crazy pigs and flying bullets they search the state for her. Searching for Malley is at time tense and other times laugh out loud funny. Jan & Danica

Childrens’ Non Fiction

Amazing World Atlas by Lonely Planet

With 300 fabulous photographs and lots of humour this is the atlas that will show the kids what the world is really like. With information on popular culture, sport and school life this is the atlas for children 8 and up. Jan

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