Home » Blog
News & Reviews
If there is one memoir you need to read this year, it’s this one. Patrisse Khan-Cullors, one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, reveals the prejudice and persecution endured by African American people in When They Call You a Terrorist.
Patrisse’s compelling account of the struggles faced by Black people in the US raises awareness about police brutality, mass incarceration, and a host of other vital issues crippling communities. The memoir begins with Patrisse's childhood and with the activism borne within her through family struggles, experiences with love, and the everyday interactions with injustice and systematic racism. It moves as she matures in her relationships, world views, and in womanhood.
When They Call You a Terrorist is a critical contribution to the discussions about social justice in this current world landscape. This is a book that will make people stop and think before they utter the words “All Lives Matter”. This is a book that will force people to rethink the way the US criminal justice system really works. This is a book that will make you think about mental illnesses, how they are discussed and treated throughout the US. This is a book that will make you think about the roles of women and what it means to be Queer or Trans in this continual fight for change.
Necessary, well thought out, emotional and direct. We highly recommend this read.
1993: An old Cuban woman is out walking in Key West when she comes across a Ku Klux Klan rally in the park. Quickly, she returns home, picks up her gun, and returns to shoot and kill a Klan member. When she is arrested she admits to the charges against her: “It was me. I did it.” Is Alicia Cortez a cold-blooded killer?
1919: Escaping Cuba and her family, Alicia Cortez arrives in Key West where she soon meets and falls in love with war hero John Morales. As racial tensions rise in Key West, Alicia and John’s interracial relationship begins to draw the attention of the local Ku Klux Klan, who have recently established themselves within the community.
Inspired by true events, Vanessa Lafaye has beautifully crafted a social history with insights into the mindset of the Ku Klux Klan and their prejudices, the stresses of forbidden love, and life in 1919 Key West, through to the modern-day handling of a crime of passion and revenge. At First Light exposes the evil that permeated the United States, with the Ku Klux Klan taking a central role and, whilst this is a glimpse into the history books, it is frightening to realise the similarities to contemporary events taking place in our current world landscape.
The author uses beautiful and evocative imagery, with an undercurrent of fear, and all of the characters are vividly drawn. The structure of the book is seamless, switching effortlessly from past to present day. Lafaye has an exceptional gift for storytelling.
Every so often a book comes along that you immediately know you're going to read more than once, you want to keep like a treasure on your bookshelf, and you'll be recommending to everyone. At First Light is just that book.
Perfect for readers who enjoyed The Help and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Imagine a service like Airbnb, allowing users from around the globe to find the perfect place to stay. However, instead of simply renting out someone’s home, you lease their lifestyle. That’s the idea behind ShelfLife, a start-up company that aspires to “help people change their lives, one week at a time”.
ShelfLife centres around three key characters – Trent (“the Hustler”), Gavin (“the Hipster”) and Shanti (“the Hacker”). The story opens with Trent pretending to be a doctor in an Emergency Room, and quickly moves towards the three friends becoming fast business partners. They are taken on a fast-paced rollercoaster ride, exiting their mundane employment to build a new and exciting worldwide company based in Singapore.
Barrie Seppings has created a highly enjoyable, witty and addictive storyline that clearly shows his immense understanding of the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in the crazy world of tech start-ups.
While incredibly easy to read, ShelfLife is also very provocative and stimulates careful consideration.
If you could swap lives for a week with anyone on the planet, who would you choose to be?
In the next instalment of our "We Love to Imagine" series, we meet Grace from VIC!
Here’s what Grace told us about herself:
"I work from home as a bookish jewellery designer. I like all things Beauty and the Beast, the Addams Family (Morticia and Gomez are #goals) and books. I like 80s horror films and Disney films which I usually watch with my fluffy ragdoll cat (and on the special occasion, I can con my partner into watching them with me too)."
If you’re a current Bookabuy subscriber and would like to be featured next, let us know by emailing us at email@example.com!
“Are you ever afraid?”
“Yes, just like everybody else. But only after the danger is done—before that, fear is an indulgence. Welcome to the Alice Network.”
Based on real characters and events, The Alice Network is a historical fiction novel weaving back and forth between 1915 and 1947, with Evelyn “Eve” Gardiner, a former World War I spy, and Charlotte “Charlie” St Clair, a pregnant American in search of her cousin, Rose. Everyone assumes Rose died during WWII, but Charlie wants proof which leads her to Eve.
The Alice Network is an admirable, fast-paced, and fascinating story about two women facing challenges and discrimination because of their gender. In the last several years, women from many different walks of life and ethnicities, and their integral contributions to the arts and science, are being uncovered, recognised and brought to mainstream attention in literature and film. The Alice Network is another such contribution; the retelling of a spy network consisting of women who put themselves in grave danger to collect information that the allies could use to defeat Germany. The Alice Network was lead by the remarkable Louise de Bettignies, alias Alice Dubois.
Perhaps the most powerful element of the novel is Eve’s emotional, heartbreaking, broken, grief- and guilt-stricken narrative, as we learn her backstory and her part in The Alice Network. Eve’s character and her perspectives are very strong, and I loved how Kate Quinn gave her a stutter; it was interesting to see how she was able to use this weakness to her advantage.
The Alice Network makes for an interesting group read and discussion for those in a book club.
What a year for literature! Here’s our Top 10 Books of 2017:
- Modern Fiction: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
- Fantasy: La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman
- Science Fiction: Artemis by Andy Weir
- Chick Lit: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
- Horror: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King
- Non Fiction: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
- Autobiography: Every Lie I've Ever Told by Rosie Waterland
- Crime: The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
- Historical Fiction: The Boat Runner by Devin Murphy
- Young Adult: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
We’d love to know what you think of our Top 10!
Lionel Shriver’s brand new novella The Standing Chandelier tells the story of Jillian Frisk and Weston Babansky, two former lovers who have held an intense friendship lasting a quarter of a century. Jillian is a loud and opinionated woman with an artistic sensibility, while Weston is a natural introvert.
The story centres around an artwork created by Jillian, known as the “Standing Chandelier”, a symbol that is representative of her life and everything in it.
When Weston becomes involved with a new woman, Paige, his friendship with Jillian is truly tested and becomes increasingly threatened. Paige gives Weston an ultimatum when he proposes marriage – stop seeing Jillian. She says, “I couldn’t stand her when I met her, and I can’t stand her now that I’ve gotten to know her better”. When Weston and Paige are given the Standing Chandelier as a pre-wedding gift, the question arises as to whether it is a simple gift of friendship, or something more devious. And Weston starts to question whether it is possible for a man and woman to ever be “just friends”.
The prose throughout the novella is incredibly intelligent, pulling me in from page one. Shriver involves a lot of depth when crafting her characters, and both Weston and Jillian come across as fully-formed and believable individuals in the novella’s 122 pages. The way that the characters’ frailties and insecurities play off each other, to a miserable end, is beautifully achieved.
This story asks many tensely awkward questions about our social natures, the emotional risks of intimacy and the limits of friendship.
With Christmas just around the corner, we are giving one lucky person the chance to win back the cost of their subscription each week... for the next four weeks!
To be in the running, simply place a prepaid book subscription order for yourself or your loved one via our website. You’ll then automatically be in the draw to win back the full cost of your order!
We will announce our winners via our Facebook page every Friday for the next four weeks, starting from Friday 8 December.
There will be one winner for orders placed within the following periods:
- 1 December to 7 December (winner announced on 8 December)
- 8 December to 14 December (winner announced on 15 December)
- 15 December to 21 December (winner announced on 22 December)
- 22 December to 28 December (winner announced on 29 December)
This offer applies to prepaid subscriptions only. Monthly (recurring) subscriptions will not be qualified.
Winners will received refunds within 3-5 working days of the relevant winner announcement.
Home Fire is a powerful reimagining of Sophocles' Antigone, a Greek tragedy about the daughter of Oedipus following her father's death. The novel moves the themes of Antigone into contemporary times, and features two Muslim families with very different perspectives on how to display their beliefs.
The novel introduces a young Muslim woman named Isma who has spent many years raising her two twin siblings, Parvais and Anneka, following the death of their mother and grandmother. The family of three has long been under the surveillance of the British security service as their father was a known jihadist. Now that her siblings are old enough to look after themselves, Isma decides to move to Massachusetts to complete her interrupted education.
The novel is narrated in alternating chapters by five main characters, and each succeeding chapter increases its intensity. By the time we hear from Aneeka, the story radically changes, becoming super charged when we learn that Anneka’s twin brother Parvaiz has disappeared to follow in his father’s footsteps.
The novel displays a confidence not only in prose but in how the story is related. Complex issues are explored, including familial love, youthful mistakes, and the power of forgiveness. It also delves into the extreme methods used to recruit young people to the Islamic terrorist cause.
There were some missed opportunities, including conversations and interactions between characters. However, I did appreciate the deep thinking it inspired, and I ended up in a place far removed from my expectations at the beginning. Home Fire has well-deservedly been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017.