Staff Picks – August 2015




This Aussie debut is quite amazing especially when you consider the author is only 25 years old! Reminiscent of the much loved Lovely Bones, our narrator Cate has recently died, yet still watches over her family on their farm property. It terrifically depicts feelings of grief, secrets, coming of age and a passion for the healing nature of horses. It cleverly shows Cate aching for her family’s pain and then over the passage of time despairing somewhat as they seemingly process their loss and seem to move on with their lives. The writing resonates with us quietly, moving you in unexpected ways and making you appreciate what and who you have in your life. A bona fide new talent to watch for on our local literary scene.





Natasha and I were invited to the original Meatballs venue in Flinders Lane to learn more about this yummy food from owner and creator Matteo Bruno himself. A likable, hardworking talented bloke who has compiled a great range of 60 meatball recipes and 20 sauces and garnishes for those who know of his stores and those who don’t but soon will be hankering to visit! What I like is the how to technique section at the front, lots of matte photos that entice you to try so many things. Who knew there could be so many combinations and his simple easy to follow layout makes it perfect for quick after work dinners, parties with friends, or something the whole family can enjoy. There are recipes for lamb, chicken, fish, prawns, venison and duck, and even vegetarian balls such as corn and quinoa balls! Natasha’s favourite so far has been the lamb with rosemary and potato and mine is the pork and polenta meatballs with white sauce. The extra bonus is the box clues with each meatball that gives you sauce and garnish matching options – making it simple to put altogether. And honestly, with so many options and so quick to make I’m sure it won’t be any time at all to get a new favourite!



I have come up with elaborate justifications to continue my bad behaviour, so when I came across Richard Stephens’ new book, Black Sheep, I felt I had stumbled upon a gold mine – finally the scientific research required to support my arguments! And suggested further reading to boot!

Richard Stephens has compiled a weird and wonderful collection of arguments in support of bad habits such as drinking, driving really fast, sex, smoking and my personal favourite – wasting time. Where has this book been for the past 20 years? Black Sheep proves to be great insightful book, chock full of interesting facts, actual research and ‘Aha’ moments. A real treat, and I promise you don’t have to tackle all the suggested further reading, but if you still need to win someone over – set them some homework.



UGLY (YOUNG READERS EDITION by ROBERT HOGE $16.99RRP (adult edition also available $19.99)

R.J. Palacio’s Wonder has been making the rounds among readers and bestseller lists due to strong recommending and word of mouth, an older children’s novel with the depth of YA that can be read by adults. But Australia has its own real life Auggie: Robert Hoge.
In 2013 Robert Hoge released his memoir Ugly to high praise – a self-experienced commentary about physical-diversity and the importance of embracing the ugliness in things within this beauty-obsessed world we live in. For Hoge, who was born with bad limbs and a head tumour resulting in his ‘ugliness’, recounts his experiences of being different growing up.
A younger readers edition of Ugly will be published by Hachette, with a similar to cover to Palacio’s Wonder, and I can guarantee you young readers will learn about outward/inward beauty, embrace their ugliness, and be more accepting of ugliness, of which Wonder has discussed in a fictional story. This edition of Ugly is written distinctly to target younger readers, but Hoge’s story and points to go away with are ultimately the same as the adult version of his memoir. A brilliant and touching read.



Britta dreams of becoming a trader like her long-lost father: a life spent upon the sea and visiting distant lands to haggle for treasures. In particular she dreams of owning the trading ship the Star of Deltora – the ship that once belonged to her ill-fated father. Britta believes this dream will never come true, however, as her missing father is the most hated man in Del, having betrayed and led his whole crew to their deaths in his quest for the mythical Staff of Tier. But then Britta is entered into a contest to become the Trader Rosalyn Apprentice, a position that, if earned, would one day make her the leader of the largest trading fleet in Del. Britta can’t turn down this opportunity to chase her dreams, but she soon learns that proving her worth for the Apprentice position – while keeping the shameful secret of who her father is – is no easy task. She’ll need to keep her wits about her as she contends with not only the fierce competition and her human enemies but also interference from the supernatural.
The “Star of Deltora” series is Emily Rodda’s newest series set in the familiar lands of Deltora. Emily Rodda writes exciting plots and characters that are vivid and real, with complex motivations. Shadows of the Master is packed with action and intrigue, and will be an instant hit with “Deltora Quest” readers and new readers alike



Fans of John Green and Meg Cabot will sink their teeth into this funny and romantic YA novel all about big ideas and saving the environment, one seedling at a time.
Astrid Katy Smythe wants to save the world. She dreams of a society that is environmentally-friendly, and has big plans for Valentine, the town that she lives in. The first step in her plans? Dressing up in a lobster costume and trying to raise awareness for the critically endangered Margaret River Hairy Marron (which is not, in fact, a lobster). Hiro Silvestri despises the Astrids of the world – the ones who have it all: pretty faces, perfect grades, and popularity. He could never like someone like Astrid. Despite his intelligence and love for gardening, Hiro doesn’t see the point in helping the planet since there will always be someone or something to ruin it.
Will Astrid be able to convince Hiro that the world is in fact worth saving? And will Hiro be able to push aside his prejudices and see the true Astrid instead of merely the perfect façade? This is yet another cool and smart romantic comedy – with bonus horticultural superheroes – from terrific Australian author Lili Wilkinson, all about the ups and downs of life, the heartbreak of teenage love and a mission to make the planet a better place.