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Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2018
Pages : 339
'If at first you don't succeed, try, try again' ... in the case of Elizabeth Holmes' biotech startup, it was more a case of 'lie, lie again'. When the teenage Stanford dropout first launched her company Theranos, with its revolutionary blood testing system in 2003, the world was her oyster, propelling her to become Silicon Valley's first female billionaire entrepreneur. Even while the technology failed to deliver over the next decade, the hype continued and the coverups began.

A compelling exposure of potentially life-threatening corporate fraud, this is a notable example of investigative journalism and a mesmerising story of the power and seduction of greed and ambition.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A stunning expose, well-researched and written."

"An incredible story of how a woman used charm and charisma to fool others."

"This book should appeal to all non-fiction readers. I still think about it."

"Great discussion: medical, ethical, greed, vanity …"

"Extremely interesting – mind-boggling really."

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Categories: Non fiction, 2020 Titles

Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2018
Pages : 416
'What do you want to be when you grow up?' Michelle Obama has some strong opinions about such questions, but certainly her response would not have been to say 'to be the First Lady'. But of course, this is exactly where she ends up as the wife of President Barack Obama, from 2009-2017. Her journey to one of the most famous addresses in the world started in a working class neighbourhood in the South Side of Chicago and progressed via Princeton and Harvard, corporate law, marriage and motherhood.

Written with warmth and candour, this is an inspiring memoir from a former First Lady offering readers the unique perspective of someone achieving many 'firsts' in her life thus far.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Very well written. It has been professionally written but it still has a style where you feel Michelle is talking to you."

"There is delightful humour as well as many quotable quotes throughout the book."

"The machinations of political life are eye-popping."

"This is not a clinical account of Michelle's life - warmth and candour show throughout."

"Such a big read could have become repetitious but it not, it is very well edited."

"While it's a big book, it's very well written, very interesting and a pleasure to read."

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Categories: Non fiction, 2020 Titles

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2018
Pages : 579
At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking the five Dunbar brothers of Archer Street Sydney were merely larrikins. Abandoned by their father Michael after the death of their mother Penny, they are surviving in feral but loving chaos. But when their father reappears, wanting their help to build a bridge, it is Clay, brother number four, who rises to the challenge of reconnecting the struggling family.

Rich with its allusions to Homer's epics, and strengthened by Michael and Penny's backstories, this is an absorbing and complex family saga layered with love, loss and atonement. And, as with the construction of any successful bridge, persistence is rewarded while the foundations of the story are laid.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"What an amazing author - the imagery is astonishing."

"I loved this book from go to whoa, I savoured every line and wished it did not have to end."

"The story is compelling and the method of narration is absorbing and compelling."

"I liked the way we heard about the Dunbar boys' parents' lives and how everything is entwined together. The ending was satisfying."

"I found the book hard to get into, but I became completely caught up in it and loved the story."

"Just as well it's a compelling book as the version I read has 579 pages."

"The language is beautiful and the style makes the characters real and human and interesting."

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Categories: Fiction, 2020 Titles

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2018
Pages : 266
Most people aspire to be 'normal' and Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron are no exception. Hailing from County Sligo, they come from the same west Ireland town, albeit from different sides of the track: Marianne's family are wealthy and employ Connell's mum as their cleaner. Spanning from their last year at high school through to the completion of their studies at Trinity College Dublin, this is the poignant account of their 'on-again, off-again' relationship as they wrestle with their metamorphosis into adulthood.

With its astute social observations and psychological insights, this is a sensitively written love story illuminating the universal need for connection and the desire to be truly known.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A real page-turner and both the lead characters are very likeable."

"The author writes sensitively and in depth about the problems of fitting in."

"I really enjoyed this book - it's very readable."

"It's both moving and sad - I could have knocked their heads together."

"There is some sexual content in the book but it ties in with the context of the story."

"I became so involved in this story!"

"A refreshingly different look at a fraught relationship between an insecure young couple."

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Categories: Fiction, 2020 Titles

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2018
Pages : 267
Jaxie Clackton is on the move from his West Australian outback town. Time is up for him in Monkton and even though he is only fifteen, hanging around is sure to get him blamed for his father's accidental death. The only place he wants to be now, is with his cousin Lee, but to reach her he will have to cross the saltlands. It is here in the desert that Jaxie meets disgraced priest Fintan MacGillis offering the hand of friendship, along with some other less favourably disposed characters protecting their patch.

Gritty and powerful, this fast-paced story has a lot going on - not just Jaxie's brutal journey of self-discovery, nor survival in an unforgiving landscape, but a masterful examination of masculinity and its place in the world.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Raw, moving and powerful."

"Winton's books are always entertaining, but they have depth as well."

"The book is entertaining, fast-paced, vivid, out-back and very Australian."

"The book is liberally splattered with colourful language - at times uncouth and at times very funny."

"This book would have wide appeal with Winton's fans, and with many men and women and young people as well."

"A tough tale, but the friendship between Jaxie and Fintan is beautiful."

"It becomes compulsively readable."

"Shocking language but you become immume in a funny way."

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Categories: Fiction, 2020 Titles

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2018
Pages : 461
Willa Knox's family is in crisis: she has lost her job, her father-in-law who lives with them is dying, her son Zeke is suddenly thrust into the role of a single parent and their home is falling down around them. Clutching for straws, Willa investigates the history of their home, hoping that the local historical preservation society will come to their aid. Her research reveals a town from more than a century earlier, populated with kindred spirits, especially botanist Mary Treat and Thatcher Greenwood, a school teacher who controversially embraced Charles Darwin's theories.

Moving between the Vineland, New Jersey of 1871 and 2016, this is a thought-provoking and expertly observed story of two families weathering the storms of social upheaval in a world where all the rules have changed.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"This book totally resonated with me."

"The book has two beautifully interwoven stories and characters I could relate to."

"It does have a strong political message and is a big read. Easier if the reader has the same political views, otherwise it could seem a little like a long essay!"

"I loved this book so much - best I've read in quite a while."

"While I found Kingsolver's political message a bit too strong, I nevertheless enjoyed the characters."

"Totally brilliant stories of what every generation does to cope with the changing world."

"If the reader isn't interested in Darwin and botany, then the book is not for them."

"A big read that could have been shorter had there not been so much detail."

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Categories: Fiction, 2020 Titles

Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 282
Comedian Trevor Noah has not just survived being born a crime (according to the Immorality Act of 1927), but has thrived. With a black mother and a white European father, he was forced to negotiate the racially restrictive apartheid laws of 1980s South Africa, fortunately armed with a secret weapon: his fearless and indomitable mother Patricia.

Both funny and insightful, this is a memoir of witty truth telling, exposing a South African upbringing to the sensitive insights of an acute observer.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I enjoyed the humour in the book. Even in the worst times Noah and his mother could find a funny twist."

"It was interesting to read of their life in Soweto and the difficulty of moving up and out of poverty."

"The story is told with wit and humour but there is a serious and sometimes very sad story of racism and domestic violence."

"I think the book would appeal to everyone. It is an easy read with a huge message, told in a witty and funny style."

"The book tells of life in Johannesburg through the eyes of someone who grew up during both the time of apartheid and after Mandela came to power."

"The book is essential reading as it exposes the stupidity, pettiness and legacy of apartheid."

"The author comes across very well - he is an extremely successful comic, but he does not praise himself and tells us little about his career."

"This book is easily read and humorous."

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Categories: Non fiction, Biography, Community, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Human Rights, Humour, Political, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, South Africa, 2020 Titles

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2018
Pages : 309
In the unlikeliest of encounters - caused by an errant fox on a London bridge - Attila Asare, a Ghanaian psychiatrist in the city to attend a conference, briefly collides with Jean Turane, an American scientist studying urban foxes. However, it is their next meeting that has more significance and using her network of volunteer fox-spotters, Jean is able to help Attila in his search for a young boy caught up in an immigration crackdown.

Carefully observing the interconnectedness of our lives, this is a multifaceted story of the many and varied inhabitants of a vibrant and complex city, including the wildlife that calls it home.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Very well written and evocative - it ticked all the boxes for me."

"The people in the story are treasures we love to meet and understand."

"I loved this book. I found it uplifting but I'm not sure everyone will."

"A wonderful depiction of a wide variety of people in many places."

"The writing style and plot reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver."

"Immigration in the UK is a topical subject and we get a glimpse of daily life that we could never imagine."

"Best of all, we get to meet the main characters' friends, street artists, security guards, street sweepers, all from different countries."

"Loved it. Great read. And one that you think about afterwards."

"There are so many themes: racism, immigration, urban wildlife, wolves, foxes, parakeets, friendship and loyalty, psychiatric issues, and gardening. There's something for everyone."

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Categories: Fiction, Community, Environmental, Grief/loss, Inspirational, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, England, 2020 Titles

Genre : Fiction: New Zealand
Year : 2017
Pages : 382
They feature in lists of the world's most famous lovers ... Heloise D'Argenteuil and Peter Abelard. Springing from 12th century France, theirs was also a meeting of the minds, Abelard being a philosopher and theologian and Heloise, his student. Their relationship with its many challenges plays out against the backdrop of the religious reforms and political intrigues of the early Middle Ages.

Anchored by extensive research and enriched with input from classic and medieval philosophers, this novel incorporates the characters' own writing to produce a fascinating and passionate retelling of the love story of this real-life legendary couple.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"It became a very interesting tale. I learned a lot about church politics of that time."

"A well written and captivating account of two of the finest minds of the Middle Ages, Heloise and Abelard."

"I felt it was unnecessary to go into so much detail about the sexual activities of Heloise and Abelard. I didn't want to read descriptions of this."

"It's a true story and a difficult time in the church when greed and power got in the way of religion much too often."

"Although is this a careful, reflective read it is also a fascinating look at the early Middle Ages."

"I was uncomfortable with the sometimes explicit sexual descriptions. Without that, I would have enjoyed the book a lot more."

"Not a fast read."

"The regular intrusion of classical literature and theology could be a bit heavy for some but I believe it only adds to the authenticity of Hager's study."

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Categories: Fiction - New Zealand, Biography, Feminism, Historical, Love story, Philosophy, Relationships, Religion, France, 2020 Titles

Genre : Non Fiction: New Zealand
Year : 2015
Pages : 264
From a dolphin and a whale, to a bird and a snail, and a location or two, James Hector's name is remembered throughout New Zealand, but his legacy is even more significant. Born in Scotland in 1834, he arrived in New Zealand in 1862 via Canada and the Australian goldfields, commissioned for starters to undertake a geological survey of Otago. Many achievements followed that we still benefit from today, including: establishing the Colonial Museum and the first national earthquake recording system, undertaking large public works and standardising New Zealand time.

Reflecting comprehensive research and with its lively writing style, this is a fascinating account of an energetic colonial 'explorer, scientist and leader' responsible for laying the groundwork for organised science in New Zealand.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A fascinating tale of the trials of exploration in the wilds of New Zealand and Canada."

"Factual and good account of the early history of New Zealand."

"This is a good book that covers some important years in NZ history and the development of essential services."

"A must for all interested in NZ history. It's written in a lively and straightforward style."

"The text is broken by plenty of headings and that makes it easy to read."

"It's a very attractive book, well-illustrated, indexed and annotated.

"The history of science in NZ in the late 20th Century should be of interest to anyone interested in NZ history."

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Categories: Non Fiction - New Zealand, Biography, Adventure/Exploration, Environmental, Historical, Science & Technology, 2020 Titles

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