Readers Circle Reviews

The only thing better than turning the pages of inspiring, enlightening, and entertaining books is getting together with friends to share your thoughts on each story. Join our Readers Circle and share how you feel about this collection of literary delights.

 

BELOW DECK by Sophie Hardcastle

The highly anticipated new novel by Australian author Sophie Hardcastle, Below Deck is the story of Olivia – a woman who accepts the help of two strangers and in doing so, changes the course of her life. Exploring issues of consent, memories, and the heart-breaking poetry of simple moments that alter who we are, Sophie’s haunting prose will leave you pondering your past long after you’ve turned the final page.

Allen & Unwin, $29.99

 

Book Club question:How do you feel Olivia’s journey of discovery is reflected in her thoughts on beginnings and endings?

 

 

JANE IN LOVE by Rachel Givney

Jane Austen time-travels to modern-day England and falls in love; will she choose her heart or the lure of her pen and her own time period? If you’re an Austen fan, this concept will surely intrigue you. Rachel Givney deftly explores how a woman ahead of her time would react to the social and cultural changes of the past hundred or so Years, exploring Jane’s adventure with humour and grace.

Penguin Random House, $32.99

 

Book Club question: Do you feel like Rachel Givney’s characterisation of Jane Austen affects your reading of Austen’s works and why?

 

 

TRUGANINI by Cassandra Pybus

Historian Cassandra Pybus’ family told stories of an Aboriginal woman who would roam across their farm on Bruny Island. Little did they know that this woman was Truganini, the last of the Nuenonne, and she was walking the land of her people. Now Cassandra explores eye-witness accounts of the inspiring and heart-breaking life of this extraordinary woman, who became the international icon of one of Australia’s great tragedies.

Allen & Unwin, $29.99

 

Book Club question: Before reading this book, what did you know about Truganini, and how has reading it changed your understanding of who she was?

 

 

HOME IS WHERE YOU MAKE IT by Geneva Vanderzeil

Creating a home you love doesn’t mean emptying your savings account in expensive boutiques and hiring stylists to perfectly colour code each room. Geneva Vanderzeil, founder of one of the world’s most popular lifestyle websites, shares her creative advice, DIY projects, and styling hacks for putting together the home of your dreams. Enjoy tips on finding sustainable materials, second-hand treasures, and the perfect indoor plants for you.

Murdoch Books, $35.00

 

Book Club question: What does your perfect home look like – how does it represent your personality and life?

 

 

HIDDEN PLACES by Sarah Baxter

When travelling, it’s all too easy to feel like you’re seeing the same sights as every other tourist; Sarah Baxter has taken that disappointment and provided a guide to some of the world’s most secret destinations. With beautiful hand-drawn illustrations and extensively researched and captivating writing, Hidden Places is the travel book that will inspire you to seek out the lesser-known and walk a remote, untrodden path.

Murdoch Books, $29.99

 

Book Club question: Which of the destinations featured in Hidden Places do you feel most inspired to visit?

 

 

THE SCHOOL OF RESTORATION by Alice Achan

Alice Achan was twelve years old when the Lord’s Resistance Army began terrorising northern Uganda where she lived. After being on the run for many years, she established CCF Pader and the Pader Girl’s Academy – places where girls and women who were victims of the LRA could recover, learn new skills, and become the amazing people they were meant to be. Powerful and understated, The School of Restoration offers insight into the chaos and devastation of war but also the redemption and survival of hope during even the darkest times.

Allen & Unwin, $32.99

Book Club question: How does Alice best express the potential for forgiveness and grace from our darkest experiences?

 

 

THE BAUDELAIRE FRACTAL by Lisa Robertson

One morning, Hazel Brown wakes up in a strange hotel room and discovers she has written the complete works of 19th century French poet Charles Baudelaire. The debut novel by Lisa Robertson, The Baudelaire Fractal takes this concept and upends it in a story that’s part magical realism, part memoir, and part just plain funny. Travel the world, travel through time, and travel with Hazel Brown as she ponders questions about modernity, class, and the perfect jacket.

New South Books, $29.99

 

Book Club question: How does Hazel’s understanding of Baudelaire reflect aspects of her own personality and eventual growth?

 

 

 

THE LOST LOVE SONG by Minnie Darke

From the best-selling author of Star-crossed comes this beautiful novel about love, second chances, and the power of song. While on a world tour, classical pianist Diana Clare composes a piece for her faraway love Arie Johnson, hopeful poet Evie Greenlees spends her time serving coffee and beer, and a love song pulls the pieces of a broken heart together. Minnie Darke’s The Lost Love Song is the tale of people searching for meaning, waiting and hoping for connection, and mourning for what they’ve lost. A sweet read, it’s perfect for enjoying with a glass of wine on a warm afternoon.

Penguin Random House, $32.99

Book Club question: What song most reminds you of an important love or relationship in your life?

 

 

COMPLETE WRITINGS by Phillis Wheatley

Brought to Boston on a slave ship and sold to the Wheatley family in 1761, the young girl given the name Francis Wheatley was an astonishing person by all accounts. The Wheatleys provided her with an education unusual for any woman of the time, let alone a slave. After studying classic literature, Latin, and the Bible, Francis Wheatley published her first poem to much acclaim. Influenced by poets like Homer, Milton, Virgil, and Horace, Wheatley rarely wrote about her own life and wrote seemingly conflicting poems on the topic of slavery. In one poem she wrote a stunning passage about the cruelty of the practice and her love of freedom, and in another some critics suggest she praises it for bringing her to Christianity. This collection includes not only her collected poems but also works by her contemporary African-American poets like Lucy Terry and Francis Williams, and also Wheatley’s letters, offering insight into this extraordinary woman.

Penguin Classics, $27.99

 

Book Club question: Many critics argue that Wheatley’s poetry is, counter to common readings, subtly subversive – how do you think she used the structure and language of her poems to reflect her social resistance?