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Genre : Fiction
Year : 2020
Pages : 422
Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the 'Scriptorium', a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.

Esme's place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day a slip of paper containing the word 'bondmaid' flutters to the floor. Esme rescues the slip and stashes it in an old wooden case that belongs to her friend, Lizzie, a young servant in the big house. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. They help her make sense of the world.

Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women's experiences often go unrecorded. While she dedicates her life to the Oxford English Dictionary, secretly, she begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words. [Taken from book blurb, Affirm Press]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A fascinating story with a splendid mix of the literary and the realities of life, with fine writing, good pace and gentle sympathy."

"An innovative and compelling story."

"I found this particularly interesting as the author included actual characters of the Scriptorium, who were involved in collating words for the Oxford dictionary."

"It's a pretty easy read but a bit once over lightly for me. It did have a nice twist telling the story within the Baden Powell principles."

"Historically, a fascinating read."

"The development of language and the concept of feminine words has been a revelation."

"I think most would enjoy this book, although perhaps it's more for women. The history of the time particularly affected woman."

"The photos in the book support the story and make it very credible."

"This book would suit those who like a lighter read about a really interesting topic."

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Categories: Fiction, Family Saga, Feminism, Gender Issues, Grief/loss, Historical, Literature oriented, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, England, 2023 Titles - Coming Soon

Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2020
Pages : 235
The European eel, Anguilla anguilla, is one of the strangest creatures nature ever created. Remarkably little is known about the eel, even today. What we do know is that it's born as a tiny willow-leaf shaped larva in the Sargasso Sea, travels on the ocean currents toward the coasts of Europe - a journey of about four thousand miles that takes at least two years. Upon arrival, it transforms itself into a glass eel and then into a yellow eel before it wanders up into fresh water.

It lives a solitary life, hiding from light and science both, for ten, twenty, fifty years, before migrating back to the sea in the autumn, morphing into a silver eel and swimming all the way back to the Sargasso Sea, where it breeds and dies.

And yet ... There is still so much we don't know about eels. No human has ever seen eels reproduce; no one can give a complete account of the eel's metamorphoses or say why they are born and die in the Sargasso Sea; no human has even seen a mature eel in the Sargasso Sea. Ever. And now the eel is disappearing, and we don't know exactly why.

What we do know is that eels and their mysterious lives captivate us. This is the basis for Patrik Svensson's quite unique natural science memoir; his ongoing fascination with this secretive fish, but also the equally perplexing and often murky relationship he shared with his father, whose only passion in life was fishing for this obscure creature. [Taken from book blurb, Picador Books]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"The book is beautifully written and easy to read." "It's a lovely story of eels, as well as a father and son story - and a happy father and son story, not an exposure."

"Anyone with a love of, or an awareness of natural history would be moved by this book."

"Intriguing story. I was interested to hear about these mysterious creatures."

"The title, linking eels to the Christian Gospels by way of miracles of death and resurrection, is more apt than at first appears."

"I think this book works, with the blend of science, writing and a family memoir."

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Categories: Non fiction, Biography, Contemporary, Environmental, Personal Interests, Relationships, 2023 Titles - Coming Soon

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2021
Pages : 318
To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably-priced furniture, making a life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver's Row don't approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it's still home.

Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his facade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger and bigger all the time.

Cash is tight, especially with all those instalment plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace at the furniture store, Ray doesn't see the need to ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweller downtown who also doesn't ask questions.

Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa - the 'Waldorf of Harlem' - and volunteers Ray's services as the fence. The heist doesn't go as planned; they rarely do, after all. Now Ray has to cater to a new clientele, one made up of shady cops on the take, vicious minions of the local crime lord, and numerous other Harlem lowlifes.

Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he starts to see the truth about who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs? [Taken from book blurb, Little, Brown Books]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"This is an evocative, multi-layered piece of fiction, it's not just a family saga."

"A splendid portrayal of the racial and political divide that divided the US and has many parallels today."

"I enjoyed the fine, vibrant language. Highly recommended."

"Despite the grim story outline, the narration is gripping, leading in the last section to page-turning urgency."

"Life is harsh in Harlem, make no mistake. But the skill in the writing maintained my attention."

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Categories: Fiction, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Human Rights, Morals/Ethics, Political, Social commentary/perspectives, Suspense/Thriller, America, 2023 Titles - Coming Soon

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2020
Pages : 276
Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who is able to love but unable to stay. Leaving behind everything but her research gear, she arrives in Greenland with a singular purpose: to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat, and she and the crew set sail, traveling ever further from shore and safety.

But as Franny's history begins to unspool - a passionate love affair, an absent family, a devastating crime - it becomes clear that she is chasing more than just the birds. When Franny's dark secrets catch up with her, how much is she willing to risk for one more chance at redemption? [Taken from the book blurb, First Flat Iron books]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A gripping read!"

"A riveting read, the hints of a dark event keep us reading."

"The well-crafted prose creates atmosphere and place very well."

"The small array of characters are vividly described."

"The scenario of wildlife loss, while futuristic, is not too fantastic."

"The locations and time periods were cleverly weaved into the story. We get the full story without being confused."

"An intense love-story with a young man she marries is a thread throughout the book, as is her courage - and wanderlust."

"While Franny is unlike anyone I know, she is three dimensional and convincing."

"The novel is a warning about global warming without preaching."

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Categories: Fiction, Dystopia/Futuristic, Environmental, Grief/loss, Mystery, Relationships, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, 2023 Titles - Coming Soon

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2021
Pages : 320
After the sudden death of her husband, Alice Holtzman finds herself a social pariah. Unfashionable, middle-aged, childless, and with only 120,000 honeybees for company. On the other side of town, Jake Stevenson and his enormous blue mohawk had a bright future in front of them studying music, all until an accident at a high school party leaves him with a broken spine. But when Alice crashes her pick-up truck, packed with thousands of restless honeybees, into Jake, knocking him from his wheelchair, it is the start of an unlikely of friendship that will pull both of them through the darkest stages of their grief.

As these new friends begin to heal one another, Alice realises that Jake has a gift - not only is he a natural with her bees, but he can hear their buzzing as a form of music ... All seems right with their world - until the buzzing stops. With a pesticide company threatening the local honeybee population, and everything Alice and Jake have worked for, these friends must unite to defend their bees. [Taken from book blurb, Hachette Books]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Wonderful story. Uplifting in every way."

"Both my partner and I loved this book - he was desperate to read it. The book was really uplifting."

"In some ways it is more fairy story than fiction, but somehow it's so enjoyable it doesn't matter."

"In the current stressful times, this is a great book for people to read."

"A beautiful story about empathy, friendship and personal restoration."

"Well written. Enjoyed the descriptions of bees and people."

"It's a gentle book, suitable for all."

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Categories: Fiction, Community, Environmental, Grief/loss, Human Rights, Learning, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, 2023 Titles - Coming Soon

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2020
Pages : 359
When a car carrying five friends home from a party crashes into a wall, the consequences are devastating - not just for the young people directly involved, but also for their families and the wider community.

No one escapes unscathed, but some are more deeply scarred than others. Those affected are left to question who was to blame for the accident, and what price they will pay.

This moving story of an accident and its aftermath explores our understanding of love and loyalty, grief and forgiveness. [Taken from book cover, Corvus Books]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A fascinating novel that keeps the reader glued to the pages."

"Utterly compelling reading!"

"Very well written and it has a well-structured plot."

"Despite the harrowing, raw emotions, it never becomes too graphic to read."

"The characters are incredibly 'real', they all felt absolutely believable."

"The ending is great. I was worried that it might not live up to the rest of the book."

"This book might be a hard read for parents of teenagers."

"The book is realistic, educational and so gripping!"

"I really enjoyed the book and hope to see it in the catalogue."

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Categories: Fiction, Community, Grief/loss, Medical/Health, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, England, Psychological, 2023 Titles - Coming Soon

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2021
Pages : 356
In the dying days of the American Civil War, newly freed brothers, Landry and Prentiss, find themselves cast into the world with barely enough to survive. Forced to hide out in the woods near their former Georgian plantation, they're soon discovered by the land's owner, George Walker, a man still reeling from the loss of his son in the war. After a shaky start, the men reach an agreement to live and work on the land, bringing a brief period of peace to the farm. But this sanctuary survives on a knife's edge, and the inhabitants of the nearest town are furious to hear of the alliance that has formed only a few miles away.

Balancing beauty and horror throughout, Nathan Harris conjures a time of violence and danger with an artist's precision, while asking how we retain our humanity in the face of blind hatred. [Taken from book blurb, Hachette Books]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"How is it possible for a debut novel to be so beautifully written and so engaging and memorable?"

"A splendid story with many themes that are still relevant."

"The writing is quality with many almost poetic touches."

"An easy engrossing read."

"A close-up look at a town after the Civil War. Very interesting."

"A very heartfelt story with wonderful, original characters."

"I have given this book 10/10 in my reading diary."

"The character portrayal is outstanding."

"Just about everyone I know has been ordered by me to read this book!"

"I loved this book so much I read it twice."

"There is hatred in the book and some will find some parts difficult to read."

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Categories: Fiction, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Grief/loss, Historical, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, America, 2023 Titles - Coming Soon

Genre : Non Fiction: New Zealand
Year : 2020
Pages : 228
This book is about my making sense here, of my becoming and being Pakeha. Every Pakeha becomes a Pakeha in their own way, finding her or his own meaning for that Maori word. This is the story of what it means to me.

I have written this book for Pakeha - and other New Zealanders - curious about their sense of identity and about the ambivalences we Pakeha often experience in our relationships with Maori.

A timely and perceptive memoir from award-winning author and academic Alison Jones. As questions of identity come to the fore once more in New Zealand, this frank and humane account of a life spent traversing Pakeha and Maori worlds offers important insights into our shared life on these islands. [Taken from book blurb, Bridget Williams Books]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I rated this book highly. The book is interesting, has a flowing style and is easy to read. I was very pleased I read it."

"There is a clarity of who she is and why the subject is important to her."

"There is not much of a picture of the author's own family context but I imagine this is deliberate."

"I found the glossary end end-notes to be very useful."

'Everyone's experiences of the relationship will differ but I think most would be engaged with this book."

"There are many 'recognisable' thoughts and experiences."

"I found the book to be frank, relatable and honest."

"I really liked the background to Maori language, the structure, meanings and relationships."

"Very interesting, very timely, and would lead to robust discussions I think."

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Categories: Non Fiction - New Zealand, Biography, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Maori, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, 2023 Titles - Coming Soon

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2021
Pages : 393
When expedition after expedition fails to locate explorer Sir John Franklin and his crew who are searching for a Northwest passage, Lady Jane Franklin makes a bold move: she commissions experienced wilderness guide Virginia Reeves to lead an all-women expedition to confirm the fate of her missing husband. A year later this team of diverse women has unravelled and Virginia is on trial for murder.

Inspired by real events, this mesmerising 1850s story moves between the frozen north and a Boston courtroom, using multiple narrative strands to reveal the truth of their journey to the Arctic and the impossible choices faced by these intrepid women.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Captivating. It was incredibly well researched and written.

"It's a real adventure!"

"Another really good book inspired by historical fact. A great concept for a novel."

"A fascinating story. Brilliant descriptions of snow wastes and churning seas."

"Well written. A great read."

"The reader is kept in suspense trying to understand the intrigues."

"Thank you for the opportunity to read a book such as this."

"It's got it all: intrigue, history, dramatic court case and strong women!"

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Categories: Fiction, Adventure/Exploration, Faction, Feminism, Historical, Human Rights, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Tragedy/disaster, America, 2023 Titles - Coming Soon, Arctic

Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2021
Pages : 236
The story of an Aboriginal woman who worked as a police officer and fought for justice both within and beyond the Australian police force.

A proud Gunai/Kurnai woman, Veronica Gorrie grew up dauntless, full of cheek and a fierce sense of justice. After watching her friends and family suffer under a deeply compromised law-enforcement system, Gorrie signed up for training to become one of a rare few Aboriginal police officers in Australia. In her ten years in the force, she witnessed appalling institutional racism and sexism, and fought past those things to provide courageous and compassionate service to civilians in need, many Aboriginal themselves.

With a great gift for storytelling and a wicked sense of humour, Gorrie frankly and movingly explores the impact of racism on her family and her life, the impact of intergenerational trauma resulting from cultural dispossession, and the inevitable difficulties of making her way in the white- and male-dominated workplace of the police force. [Taken from book cover, Scribe Publications]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I think this book should be standard text for social workers, health care professionals and police, both in Australia and New Zealand."

"An insightful account of an aboriginal woman who strives to overcome the issues she, and all aborigines, face."

"It's an important read, but not always easy to read. It hasn't been an easy life for her."

"Overall I enjoyed this book and was very glad I'd read it."

"Mrs Gorrie is as honest about her own short-comings as I believe her to be about those of others."

"Although inevitably traumatic at times, one is left with a better understanding of the issues of indigenous people, and it gives hope that they (and we), can find ways through."

"Without dramatisation, self-pity or undue justification, this is a book everyone should read and consider."

"A rare aboriginal voice from a strong women who 'survives' in the midst of terrible abuse."

"An eloquent expression of what it is like to be a minority in Australia."

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Categories: Biography, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Human Rights, Social commentary/perspectives, Australia, 2023 Titles - Coming Soon

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