Category Archives: Books

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Books I Read in February

February unintentionally became Memoir month!I read five auto-biographies and they were all great! Here’s a round-up of who I read this month!

A Story Lately Told and Watch Me by Anjeclica Huston

I have always liked Anjelica Huston’s movies and her first memoir is a lovely, well written account of growing up in Ireland and New York. Her father is a famous director with famous friends, her family life is a rollercoaster and her romantic life is both thrilling and heartbreaking.

Part 2 of Anjeclica Huston’s memoir is where she decides to stop drifting about and actually become an actress. With grit determination she does, wins an Oscar, has a whirlwind romance with Jack Nicholson and talks about the highlights of her favourite films. In an interview for the book tour she was asked if she was aware at the time that she and Jack were a major power couple (the Brangelina of the 80s) – her reply, “not really, were were more concerned about what we’d have for lunch that day” #spiritanimal!

I really enjoyed the 2 memoirs but I just wish that some topics/memories could have been talked about with a bit more depth. Needless to say Huston has had a fascinating life.

 

Born With Teeth by Kate Mulgrew

Kate Mulgrew is most famous for portraying Capitan Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager, the first lady Capatain in the franchise. Her memoir is of growing up in Ireland, trying to make it as an actress and trying to find the daughter she gave up for adoption when she was very young. It’s a moving and incredible life of strength and hope and determination to shine.

 

 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is a poet, activist and all around incredible woman! Anjelica Huston might have needed 2 books but Maya needs 6 because her life is just so incredible! The first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is so poetic and hauntingly – growing up in the south of America with her strong grandmother, her glamorous parents in California and her love of education shine in this memoir. Maya overcomes intense trauma from a young age when she is molested by her step-father, but her strength and community help her to survive. I want everyone in the world to meet Maya Angelou’s wit, compassion and strength through this book!

 

 

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

This was the pick for Book Club this month and it was unanimously disliked by everyone. Part memoir part business part self help and entirely too condescending. Amoruso has done incredibly well to build a fashion empire but it just was a bit let down in the book. Still, she does have some great business advice in there and it’s always interesting to see how successful companies are built from the ground up.

 

 

look back at what I read in January

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5 Books I Read in January

It feels like January went by in a snap! Here’s the short round up of the 5 books I read during January!

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

I love Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay’s collection of essays, so I started reading An Untamed State, her fictional novel about a woman who is kidnapped and held to a ransom that her father refuses to pay. I didn’t like it as much as I liked Bad Feminist, but Roxane is an incredible and evocative writer and the plot stays with you long after you close the book.

 

 

 

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

Emma Watson launched an online, international book club in January (Our Shared Shelf) and the first book was My Life on the Road. Gloria Steinem has a beautiful writing style and recounts personal and public events with joy and inspiration. I will be recommending this book to everyone this year!

 

 

Carol by Patricia Highsmith

I have had this book on my TBR list for ages but now with the movie out I decided to actually read it… dreamy, drifting, writing, a love affair between a direction-less young lady and a glamorous older woman. It was a good read, and made for a beautiful film.

 

 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I didn’t love Eleanor and Park as much as I thought I would… It’s gotten so many incredible reviews and popularity but I just didn’t connect to it that much. I have Fangirl on my TBR list so hopefully I will enjoy that one a bit more…

 

 

26842622Thirteen Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

I got an Advanced reading copy of Thirteen Minutes and COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! A wonderful, gripping YA Thriller that can best be described as “Gone Girl set in a low class British high school”. I loved this book and will not say anything more as it’s best to just read it and let the storyline carry you away.

 

 

 

Check out what I read in December

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Read an Exclusive Preview of Yassmin’s Story

2015 Queensland Young Australian of the Year, Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a mechanical engineer, social advocate, writer and petrol head.

She advocates for the empowerment of youth, women and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Yassmin is also passionate about diversifying public voices, connecting people and catalysing change. Now, Yassmin shares her incredible story in “Who Do You Think I Am” which is available for pre-order here. Until then, you can read the exclusive excerpt below… 

 

Prologue 

I’m sitting on a helideck in the middle of the ocean, hundreds of kilometres away from any land. It’s the dead of night, the only time I find peace and the chance to be alone on an oil rig full of – well, mostly – men. When you live with over a hundred not-quite-strangers for weeks at a time, sharing accommodation, bathrooms, meals and work, you do become family, but those precious moments of being alone with your thoughts are few and far between. This helideck is my refuge.

The surface of the dark green landing pad is rough; I sit cross-legged in the middle of the brightly lit ‘H’ that marks the touchdown spot in the centre of the octagon. This raised platform was never meant for human lounging but I am always one for repurposing.

Why am I here? This is my day job. I work as a drilling engineer on oil and gas rigs and my career so far has taken me to remote rigs on land and in the ocean, around Australia and the world. I am sometimes on call, sometimes on a roster of one month on, one month off. A day job, however, doth not a woman make. I have the privilege and blessing of taking on multiple identities. Yes, I am a mechanical engineer; I am also a practising Muslim woman (Alhamdulillah), a founder of a youth-led organisation, a former race car Team Principal, a Sudanese born member of the Arab-African diaspora, a Queenslander, a boxer, a doer and, hopefully, also a thinker who is able to add value, to be useful. I care about leaving this world a better place, so I spend my time advocating and agitating for that positive change.

Why am I here, typing up my story under the moonlight, with the never-ending din of machinery in the background? The rig derrick shines brightly in front of me, a forty-metre high beacon of industrialisation in an unforgiving and terribly beautiful landscape. Why tell this tale at all?

When I was growing up, I didn’t see stories about people with lives I could relate to. There were no stories centring on young women, people of colour or Muslims. There were definitely no stories of young migrant Muslim women who grew up eating mahshi and listening to Avril Lavigne. The stories being told about people like me are often told by people who are not like me, and often without permission. It is exhausting to forever be talked about without being involved in the conversation in a meaningful manner. Yes, some people do try, but it is not enough to be invited to speak only when spoken to. Also, I have never been one to wait my turn. This book is about reclaiming the narrative, redefining it to my lived experience and the varied experiences of the strong women and mentors in my life. In doing so, I hope to provide some insight into a different world: one that has always existed but has not often been acknowledged by the society I live in, the West.

I am writing this to share my story, but I am not arrogant enough to believe it is particularly remarkable, or unique. This is not about teaching, as I still have so much to learn. It is about sharing experiences and the lessons learnt along the way, as well as asking the questions those experiences continue to raise. It is clear that we are facing immense challenges as a global society and will continue to in the decades to come. Creating effective responses to these challenges will only happen through a combination of critical thought and fully considered action, a balance I have been searching for throughout my life. I am grateful to have been involved in a lot of ‘doing’ for someone my age – a healthy 24 years. This book is about some of the doing, but also some of the thinking that lay behind those actions. Hopefully, these stories will add texture and context to a different perspective – the perspective of a young Muslim post 9/11, of a girl who grew up seeing the strong women around her all wearing hijabs and being confused as to why the world was telling her those same women were oppressed. Hopefully, they will encourage thought and discussion around why we, as Australians and global citizens, are at the crossroads we are, and what needs to change to move us to where we could be: a place where we learn from and respect each other’s choices and experiences.

This isn’t just my story. This is the story of so many other young people, so many other women, and so many other people of faith and colour. My story may seem unique because it does not fit in with what you expect from a young Australian Muslim woman, but there are many stories of young Muslims, women and people of colour that challenge, question and inspire, without tokenism or self-doubt. The difference is that a lot of these stories never see the light of day, don’t make it into our newsfeeds or the morning television shows because not everyone has a ready platform from which to share their story. Alhamdulillah, I have been blessed with access to a microphone and as such it’s my responsibility and my duty to make the most of it – for myself, and for the many others who don’t yet have that space.

I write this story – my story and the story of the people around me who have created who I am – so that I can open a window into another world, the world of an Arab-African Muslim migrant woman who calls Australia home, of a chick on a rig, of a motorsport maniac, of a lady who lifts, of a smart mouth in a hijab. This world isn’t so far away, though, and any partition can so easily be dismantled, bit by bit. After all, we’re just drops in the same ocean. What are we waiting for?

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Welcome To Nightvale… The Book!

I love podcasts. They are a fast growing revival of the golden age of radio and there are so many creative dramas that play out on air each week. One of my fave podcasts is Welcome to Nightvale, the bizzare Horror-Comedy show that features a mercurial voiced radio presenter narrating the disturbing weekly news of a desert set town, Nightvale. There are government consiparacies, breaks in time and space, a Dog Park no one is allowed to enter and strange glowing lights in the sky. It’s funny, charming and very distrubing.

And now there is a book! A full on novel set in Nightvale, featuring all our favourites – Cecil, Old Woman Josie, the Dog Park and many more – and wrapped into a strange journey featuring a few new characters.

Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked ‘KING CITY’ by a mysterious man in a tan jacket. She can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City before she herself unravels.

Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.

I was very eager to get my hands on it being that I loved the podcast so much. I am in two minds, for starters it has all the weirdness of the podcast, with touches of “should I be laughing at something this disturbing?”. The writing is very short which gives it the same off-beat atmosphere as the radio drama. There was clearly no idea too weird or disturbing to be excluded and it does give a rambling, “what on earth is this?”, kind of feel. The podcast delivers the strangeness so well, the narration and sound effects making it work. In a novel format it doesn’t deliver the same way. But if you love Nightvale, you’ll probably still need to get the book!

Die hard fans of Nightvale will love it – it’s all the oddball, horror/hilarity of the podcast, and the narrative does take breaks to share transcripts of Cecil’s radio show. If you haven’t listened to Nightvale, we highly recommend you do before reading, it will help fill in the back story!

 

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The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

It’s been a while since I’ve read a YA book that grabs you by the shoulders, sits you down, puts a big mug of tea in your hand and very clearly says “You are staying here for HOURS to read this book”.sacred-lives-of-minnow-bly-high-resThe Sacred

Lies of Minnow Bly is that book. It’s a debut YA novel from Stephanie Oakes and it is really quite a tour de force. The writing is so beautiful, descriptive and evocative. Oakes muses on the concept of justice (both poetic and legal), free will, religion (evidence for, corruption of, finding and losing) while presenting a heroine who learns to claim back her identity and freedom.

Minnow Bly is 17, the only survivor of a religious cult that has burned to the ground in the woods of Montana. Minnow has grown up, confined to the “Kevinian’ cult led by a cruel and insane ‘Prophet’ who takes her identity and, when she refuses to marry him, her hands. Isolated, uneducated, but with a thirst for freedom, Minnow has always questioned her world and longed to return to the real world outside of the cult. When she tries to escape, she is punished cruelly. But there is nothing that will stop Minnow from surviving.

This book is dark. Like any fairy-tale, the darkness at it’s core, and the way it breaks to the surface will give you chills. The writing is amazing, but the story is brutal. From the first page we learn the Minnow has had her hands chopped off as punishment, that she escaped a cult, that she hurt a stranger so badly she is thrown into juvenile detention. The story shifts between Minnow’s current life in prison, where she is adjusting to the odd ‘freedom’,  her friendship with her cellmate Angel, her exploration of religion and education; and the past, which she relates to the FBI agent investigating the murder of the prophet and destruction of the community and the loss of her friend Jude. The agent investigating the fire slowly draws the truth of her life out of Minnow and we slowly piece together the events that led to the explosive end of the cult and Minnow’s break for freedom.

I was so amazed by this book and by the author’s talent! The strength of the writing, the mastery of language is something that keeps that the suspense high and the pages turning. This book was so hard to put down! There was some pretty horrific, gory bits in the first half of the book though, definitely launching it into the thriller genre. But when the horror is countered against the almost dead-pan, wry commentary of prison life, and Minnow’s inimitable voice, it just adds to all the reasons you won’t be able to put this book down.

This story is brutal and heart breaking but you will be recommending it to everyone. Minnow is an amazing new heroine for the YA genre and Stephanie Oakes is certainly a new author to watch. Her next novel, The Arsonist is due for 2016.

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What to Read When You’re Not a Big Reader

While we love books, we still TOTALLY understand what it’s like to not be that big of a reader. Too busy, not found a good book, just ‘not’ a reader. We’ve heard them all.
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So the question is, what do you read when you don’t really like reading?

Graphic Novels

Comics, Graphic Novels and Mangas are amazing. The art is something to be marvelled over (see what I did there?) and possibly framed. The story can be just as rich as a novel and a compelling series can be created over books that are practically collectibles.

Essays

You might not feel like the emotional rollercoaster of a pulitzer novel, but Essays are incredible things. Non-fiction, fantastically edited and they’re on a topic you actually want to read about.

Get started with Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (the ENTIRE world should read her essays!!), or look for the collections of philosophical essays on TV and movies – perfect venn diagram of stuff you like and stuff people have written about. There’s Breaking Bad and Philosophy, Hunger Games, Harry Potter and more.

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High school has probably filled this quota already, but there are a tonne of actually decent books out there that improve immensely when you don’t have to analyse them! Cover the basics and classics – Austen, Harper Lee, F Scott Fitzgerald.

Harry Potter

HARRY POTTER!!!!!! Seriously, if there is a book that will make you fall in love with reading, it is this one.

Magazines

Never underestimate the power of glossy paper. Fashion, cars, ok sure grab one from the check out at Coles. OR you could get these beautiful, independent magazines like Womankind, Canary Press, Future Perfect, New Philosopher which are incredible. Full of amazing stories and pictures and perfect for flicking through.

Satire books

there’s a wonderful world of parody books out there and they’re often comics, jokes, short stories. Good for when you want to be laughing, not bored!

so now…

Go forth and live and read freely!!tumblr_muj1ucavKE1sxw0pno1_500

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#LoveYourBookshop

“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore it knows it’s not fooling a soul.”

– Neil Gaiman, ‘American Gods’

August 8th is National Bookshop Day, to celebrate local bookshops around the country. Bookshops are an integral part of every town and a blessing to avid readers! Co-op will be taking part this year and offering some discounts on great books.

Participating stores include

The Co-op – Australian National University

The Co-op – Connection Arcade Parramatta

The Co-op – Port Macquarie

The Co-op – UTS Broadway

The Co-op University of Sydney

The Co-op University of Melbourne

The Co-op – University of Queensland (St Lucia Campus)

The Co-op University of Western Australia (Crawley Campus)

Hope to see you there for 15% off Fiction and Cookbooks for members, and 50% off selected titles: Insurgent, Get Commando Fit, Humanise, Courting Trouble and Taking You Home!

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July New Release Books

Uni holidays means times to enjoy a great new release book! Here’s our round-up of top reads…

Thrillers

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

Minnow Bly, survivor of a cult. Woman without hands. The only survivor of a devastating fire and now, wanted for murder.A thrilling read of secrets and bravery.

The Girl in The Spiders Web by David Lagercrantz

Lisbeth Salander is back. Now accused of hacking a top-security system, she is on the run. Blomkvist knows that this is out of character, even for her. There must be something deeper at the heart of this – maybe even the scoop that Millennium magazine so desperately needs for its survival. A tangled web of truth that someone is prepared to kill to protect…

 

Fiction

Mislaid by Neil Zink

A sharp, funny and original novel from Nell Zink about a screwed-up American family in the 1960s.

The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop

Relativity by Antonia Hayes

Relativity is an irresistible novel about science, love, unbreakable bonds and irreversible acts.

Kitchens of the Great Mid-West by J. Ryan Stradek

Punchy, fun and irresistible, this is the story of a girl who becomes a world-famous chef, told by those who love her, envy her and never forget her.

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

A wickedly funny new novel of social climbing, secret e-mails, art-world scandal, lovesick billionaires, and the outrageous story of what happens when Rachel Chu, engaged to marry Asia’s most eligible bachelor, discovers her birthfather.

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New Books From Great Authors

The Long Utopia (the Long Earth 4) by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

2045-2059. After the cataclysmic upheavals of Step Day and the Yellowstone eruption humanity is spreading further into The Long Earth, and society, on a battered Datum Earth and beyond, continues to evolve.

The Dust That Falls From Dreams by Louis De Bernieres

Louis de Bernières’ magnificent and moving novel follows the lives of an unforgettable cast of characters as they strike out to seek what happiness can be built from the ruins of the old world.

The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera

Casting light on the most serious of problems and at the same time saying not one serious sentence; being fascinated by the reality of the contemporary world and at the same time completely avoiding realism – that’s The Festival of Insignificance.

   

 

Real Life

Aussie Grit the Autobiography by Mark Webber

Eighteen months after retiring from a twelve year Formula One career, Mark Webber finally tells the story of his journey from Queanbeyan kid to Grand Prix winner – and in typical ‘Aussie Grit’ style, it’s a no holds barred, searingly honest account of life inside and out of the cockpit.

The Healthy Life by Jess Sepel

Jess’ philosophy is simple: good health starts in the kitchen. Her focus is on fresh produce, prepared simply and with love. The Healthy Life is fully photographed, and has 100 recipes, meal plans, and a kind approach to creating better health and stress-free living

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June New Releases!

This June curl up with a good book! Members get up to 30% off New Releases at the Co-op.

These are our top 8 picks for June, from preparing for EOFY with ‘101 Ways to Save…’, an irreverent look at life and death in ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes‘ and an epic road trip in ‘Paper Towns‘, there’s a great book for everyone…

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 101 Ways to Save Money
on Your Tax – Legally!
Shining – The Story of
a Lucky Man
Forever Young Smoke Gets in Your Eyes…
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 The Underwriting The Short Long Book Leap Paper Towns
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The Church of Marvels

From page one I loved this book. It’s beautifully written, captivating and wry and swept me away in an incredible journey through the world’s greatest city. Set in Manhattan and Brooklyn of the 1800s, Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry is a sweeping and marvellous debut novel.

The lives of four characters become irrevocably entwined and altered in this novel. In sparkling and beautiful prose, the plot races from the side shows of Coney Island to the gritty, lower East side of Manhattan, to the forboding asylum on Roosevelt Island.

Odile is a circus performer who lost her mother in the blaze that brought their circus to the ground, and now her talented sister Belle has disappeared in the thick crowd of New York City. While working to clean away filth in his job as a night-soiler, Sylvan finds an abandoned new born, and rather than leave her in an orphanage, adopts her. Alphie, a fallen woman, has now fallen in love. But her overbearing mother-in-law has had her committed to an asylum, where she plots her escape with the help of a mute in-mate.

With the drama and glitter of a circus, this novel is beautifully written with great description and harrowing plot. The dizzying spectacle of the circus meets an element of mystery and mild horror. The streets of 1800s New York are dark and dangerous but Leslie Parry weaves an incredible and breathtaking novel.

Spectacular, lucid, full of imagery – I loved this book. It was a beautiful glimpse into a meticulously researched world of history, circus folk, desperate workers, rising stars and orphans. It has elements of Charles Dickens in its examination of the society and cities in the end of the 19th Century. Church of Marvels is a book to read and love as soon as it is released in May.

Church of Marvels will be available in-store and online, May 5th 2015. Order now.