What's New

August 2018
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2017
Pages : 386
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, or so she tells everyone, but it's dependent on her strict adherence to her routines, and a careful shuffle past the elephant in the room. But as it is with life, change is inevitable, and when her colleague Raymond befriends her, the walls around Eleanor are under threat, and the elephant wants out.

This quirky and poignant story celebrates surviving what life throws at us and delivers it via the endearing Eleanor, a courageous and unconsciously witty narrator grappling with early tragedy, the absurdities of human behaviour and the rewards of social connection.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"It's a great read - very gripping."

"Superbly well written - the characters are very real."

"The characters are the main feature of this book - beautifully and sympathetically written. It's a book about love and not the usual romantic type."

"I struggled for the first 30 pages because Eleanor was drawn as such an unlovable character, but I was so glad I persevered."

"This book is well and lovingly written and well-constructed."

"I could not put this book down - it was a very quick read."

"I wondered at first what I'd struck, but I came to enjoy the book very much. A great study on loneliness."

Categories: Fiction, Community, Contemporary, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, England, 2019 Titles

February 2018
Caesar's Last Breath
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2017
Pages : 373
Breathe in ... hold ... breathe out. Repeat. Free, plentiful and essential for survival, the air around us is the ultimate in recycling.

In a perfect combination of the educational and entertaining, this lively story explores the science and history of the air we breathe, revealing that with every breath we take, we are connected with the breath of everyone who has ever lived. Inhaling will never be the same again!

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Both entertaining and educational. Sam Keen has an affinity for unusual stories and information which he joyously shares."

"The author is a gifted storyteller who has the ability to make the science comprehensive to the layperson."

"The chapters are wide-ranging (from hot-air balloons to farts to the atomic bomb) but the narrative always flows."

"My husband also read this book - he's ordered 5 copies, Christmas solved!"

"Witty, informative, easy to read. Chemistry 101 in novel form."

"A must-read for anyone remotely interested in the future of life and the planet."

"Those who hated school science and scientists themselves may not necessarily find the book appealing or satisfactory, but everyone else in the middle will!"

Categories: Non fiction, Environmental, Historical, Humour, Science & Technology, Social commentary/perspectives, 2019 Titles

Sixteen Trees of the Somme, The
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2017
Pages : 403
When Edvard Hirifjell is orphaned as a young boy in 1971, his grandfather steps into the breach and raises Edvard. Now, two decades later with Sverre's death, Edvard is primed and ready to embrace the mystery of his family history, particularly the circumstances of his parents' deaths. His quest, complete with puzzles and clues, will take him from his home in Norway to the Shetlands and the battlefields of WW1, ultimately delivering an unusual inheritance.

Spanning a century and intricately woven through with a love of wood, this is a complex story of family, divided loyalties, and a search for truth.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"It''s simply the best book I've read all year."

"A well-paced story with lots of plot developments. The references to the battle of the Somme are thought-provoking."

"Beaut book. Very well written and contains lots of history about the Somme as well as life in Norway and the Shetlands."

"Beautiful, thoughtful and not overly verbose language means the reader can easily imagine the interesting landscapes the book is set in."

"I found the historical aspects of the novel very interesting, eg recollecting the second world war's impact on the Somme and those who lived it."

"The focus was more on the storyline and the landscape rather than the development of the characters - they could have been stronger."

Categories: Fiction, Family Saga, Historical, Mystery, Relationships, Tragedy/disaster, Scotland, France, 2019 Titles, Norway

January 2018
Golden Hill
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 340
When Richard Smith sets foot on Manhattan Island in 1746, it's not long before New York tongues are wagging. The enigmatic Mr. Smith has a promissory note for 1000 pounds, but is not to be drawn on who he is, and what he plans to do with his fortune. If he is to prosper, this likeable but playing-his-cards-close-to-his-chest Englishman must successfully navigate a naturally mistrustful Manhattan society.

With its period appropriate style and historically accurate details, this is an intriguing and fast-paced adventure of colonial New York.

2016 Costa Book First Novel Award winner.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A fast-paced book that gives a great description of what New York was like in 1746."

"Our man Smith is a likeable character and the intrigue around why he is there draws us in admirably."

"The suspense builds up at a fast pace. A very satisfying ending too."

"The language of the time took a bit of getting used to, but in the end it gives us the feeling of life in that era."

"A fascinating account of what life would have been like in a very young New York."

"The writing style is rich and paints vivid pictures of characters and events."

"Brilliantly written. Funny and compelling."

"The characters are exceptionally well-drawn."

"The story engages from the first line and is a clever, witty, perfectly realised historical novel."

"This book has it all - romance, villainy, mystery and duels, humour, and historical accuracy down to the last detail."

Categories: Fiction, Award Winner, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Historical, Morals/Ethics, Mystery, Social commentary/perspectives, America, 2019 Titles

Green Island
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 381
1947 heralds in turbulent times for the Tsai family. As Taiwan's Japanese colonial rule is replaced by martial law, the family welcome the arrival of their newest member, a daughter, only to have her father imprisoned for his political views. In the decades that follow, as the country progresses towards democracy, they must all endure as best as they can, weighing up on a daily basis the betrayals and loyalties necessary for survival.

Encompassing the actual events of the time, this is a compelling story of a Taiwanese family negotiating the complex political forces of history.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"An excellent opening chapter - I was captivated from page one."

"The book gives an interesting insight into Taiwan's troubles - I now want to delve into some of the author's reference books."

"While reading the book, it constantly made me thankful that I live in NZ."

"This book would appeal to those who have an interest in modern history and the impact of the challenges to Taiwan in the world."

"I really enjoyed this book and think it presents many moral dilemmas that are worth thinking about."

"I enjoyed this book and think BDS readers will too. I knew nothing about Taiwan and its recent history so I also enjoyed the history lesson."

Categories: Fiction, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Family Saga, Morals/Ethics, Political, 2019 Titles, Taiwan

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2012
Pages : 342
When Pembe and Adem Toprak migrate to London from Turkey in the 1970s, it is not just their children who accompany them but also the Turkish and Kurdish traditions of many generations. As they adjust to their new life as immigrants, a family crisis unfolds and the challenge of upholding these beliefs in a Western setting reaches breaking point.

Multiple narrators present this powerful story of faith and love, examining the resulting family tragedy with compassion and cultural insight.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"This is the best book I've read in a long time. I loved everything about it, the writing style, the characters and the setting."

"This book raises important issues regarding multi-culturalism."

"This would be a good book for those interested in learning more about Turk/Kurd cultures and the impact of migration on different types of society."

"A very topical book even though it's set in the 1970s; it could be the 2010s."

"Fantastic read that will encourage a lot of discussion."

"The book is a quick read with the story unfolding gradually. You do need to pay attention as it is sometimes out of sequence and narrated by several of the main characters."

"The characters are interesting and likeable. The Turkish/Kurdish background, with very patriarchal beliefs and values, is unusual and adds further interest."

"An excellent book to discuss."

Categories: Fiction, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Family Saga, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Religion, Social commentary/perspectives, Tragedy/disaster, England, Turkey, 2019 Titles

In a Land of Paper Gods
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 339
Distinguished from her classmates by her spirited imagination, Henrietta S. Robertson must tolerate as best she can, life in a boarding school for the children of missionaries on Lushan mountain, Jiangxi Province. Allowing the parents to pursue their call to bring the Gospel to China, Etta and her classmates live a constrained life, isolated from their parents and caught between religions and cultures. It is 1941 and with the invasion of the Japanese they must now face life in an internment camp.

Hauntingly written, this is a poignant coming-of-age story told from the unique perspective of its captivating young narrator.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A very readable book and once started, almost impossible to put down."

"Hauntingly beautiful writing makes this a book to linger in the mind. A great read."

"The story is told with poignancy and honesty from the perspective of a pre-teen, misguided and struggling with acceptance."

"This book depicts the imaginary world created by a 10 year old which changes to a harsh reality as she grows older."

"The beauty of the country and the depiction of the times is very well written."

"The hopelessness of the children made for sad reading but it was an insight into the obsessiveness of the missionaries of the time."

Categories: Fiction, War theme, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Grief/loss, Historical, Political, Relationships, Religion, Tragedy/disaster, Young narrator, China, 2019 Titles

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 274
Once upon a time there was a house on the outskirts of Jerusalem and in it lived an old man, his beautiful widowed daughter-in-law and a hapless young man. Having abandoned his studies, the young man in question, Shmuel Ash, accepts employment, in the winter of 1959, as Zionist Gershom Wald's live-in companion expressly required to spend each evening debating with his employer.

Moving between the provocative mix of Judaism, Christianity and the Jewish/Arab conflict, their nightly wrangling gives voice to arguments of intellectual challenge and the history of their fledgling nation.

A complex and multi-layered story with betrayal at its heart.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A very satisfying read with characters who are all flawed and believable."

"This book challenges the reader and may not immediately engage, but it is well worth the effort."

"An extraordinary book by a gifted writer. I found it intensely interesting and thought-provoking."

"Superbly written."

"Interesting reading about the creation of Israel and their war with the Arabs."

"I enjoyed finding out more about Judaism and how it differs from Christianity."

"A complex and multi-layered book full of allegory, which meant I found it a slow but thought-provoking read."

"The writing is as assured, accomplished and polished as one would expect from an author of the stature of Oz."

"This is an intelligent book which will delight serious readers, but a basic knowledge of the origins of Christianity is essential and there is little levity in the book."

Categories: Fiction, War theme, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Historical, Morals/Ethics, Political, Religion, Social commentary/perspectives, Translation, Israel, Jewish Culture, 2019 Titles

Kindness of Enemies, The
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2015
Pages : 320
While researching the life of Imam Shamil, a 19th century Muslim chieftain, history professor at the University of Aberdeen, Natasha Wilson with her Russian/Sudanese heritage, is drawn into the life of one of her students; Oz is a descendant of Shamil, and like Natasha is grappling with his cultural identity. When he comes to the attention of the authorities for his supposed extremism, Natasha's carefully constructed life is also called into question. Intertwined with their story is that of Shamil and his involvement with the court of the Tzar.

With parallel storylines and settings in Scotland, Georgia and Sudan, this engaging story vividly depicts the experience of living in exile and yearning for home.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"The novel is beautifully written and I'm sure will be enjoyed by many readers."

"This is a compelling novel which deals with the very current issue of the difficulty of belonging in a world where the place we come from is no longer where we live, or fit in."

"An absorbing read."

"The narratives are addictive and through-provoking."

"For the reader unfamiliar with the Muslim world, the parallels are sometimes hard to see, but fascinating to think about; and very relevant at this time."

"I think anyone who likes a serious book will enjoy this book. I am interested in reading more of the author's books."

"There are parallels between the contemporary narrative and the author's life, which probably accounts for the realism of it."

Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Historical, Political, Religion, Social commentary/perspectives, Scotland, Russia, 2019 Titles, Sudan

Memory Stones, The
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 448
Little do the Ferraro family realise that the gathering at their beach house will be their last. It is 1976, and in the blink of an eye - with the arrival of the military junta - they are dispersed: Osvaldo the father exiled to Europe, Julieta the eldest daughter to the safety of Miami while Yolanda remains in Buenos Aires, to begin the long search for their teenage daughter, Graciela. In the years that follow, the empty trail they share with many other relatives of 'the Disappeared' is agonising, even more so with the possibility of a grandchild to trace as well.

From its lyrical writing and memorable characters to its basis in Argentinian history, this is an inspiring story of a family never giving up hope in the face of a nation behaving deplorably.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Beautiful, lyrical writing. The author has an easy writing style and portrays people and surroundings very well."

"A good plot. It tells the story of the Junta, the horror of it, but without gory descriptions of the atrocities."

"A beautiful, descriptive writing style."

"A book that lingers after reading. I have been recommending it to my friends."

"Great characters. A very thought-provoking story."

Categories: Fiction, War theme, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Grief/loss, Historical, Human Rights, Political, Relationships, Tragedy/disaster, Argentina, 2019 Titles

Days Without End
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 301
Forced from his native Ireland by the deprivations of the potato famine, young Thomas McNulty throws his lot in with the American Army. With brother-in-arms John Cole in tow, these young men witness and participate in the painful birth of a nation. First it is the Indian Wars - rescuing and adopting an Indian girl as they go - and then the Civil War.

Distinguished by the beauty of its language and Thomas' narration, this novel, where brutality and compassion exist side-by-side, delivers a unique perspective of nineteenth century America.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Great story, easy writing style and a good length."

"A tale of extremes and contrasts: casually brutal in places while touchingly endearing in others."

"The same character can be the hero in one scene then the devil himself in another."

"A book I enjoyed and took quite a bit from, but the big plus is its discussion value."

"It's full of adventure with interesting characters. Well written for its genre."

"Lovely lyrical writing propels the pretty violent story along."

"The violence is quite graphic – but it is in the context of battle or fighting."

"I found this to be an exceptionally thought-provoking read."

Categories: Fiction, War theme, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Gender Issues, Historical, Relationships, America, 2019 Titles

Different Class
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 413
With 30 years' experience under his belt, Roy Straitley, Latin Master at St Oswald's Grammar, can spot trouble a mile off. What he is not expecting, however, is the return, 20 years later, of a student he'd deemed to be troublesome; Johnny Harrington, the new headmaster. This 'new broom', this Superhead with his crisis deputies, has arrived to save St Oswald's from itself, a disturbing prospect given his involvement in a scandal that saw a teacher imprisoned.

Narrated by the irascible Roy and an anonymous diarist, the author's return to this North Yorkshire school delivers a gripping psychological thriller, clever with misdirection and black humour, and its acute observations of school life.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Great story with great characters and an original way of telling the story."

"The last few words in the book are breath-taking!"

"Dark, powerful, addictive psychological thriller. It keeps you guessing from beginning to end."

"I found it gripping and disturbing, but very enjoyable. I will read more of the author's books."

"Interesting insight into the world of English boys' schools and the traditions they follow."

"This is a thriller that thrills!"

Categories: Fiction, Community, Gender Issues, Human Rights, Relationships, Suspense/Thriller, England, 2019 Titles

Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 232
What are the chances of little green men from Mars visiting your neighbourhood? Under the editorship of theoretical physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili, scientists and experts in their fields explore the probability and improbability of such an event. From the possible nature of alien consciousness and the likelihood of machines being our first visitors, to current and future SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) projects, the subject matter is wide-ranging but appropriately presented for the lay person.

A thought-provoking and inspiring book that boldly goes where no-one has gone before. [Small font]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"This is a must-read for the non-scientists!"

"To me, the highlight essays were those that contained some very interesting and challenging ideas."

"This book is an intelligent compendium of ideas designed to educate the vast majority of non-scientists among us."

"This book is not about pushing barrows, but about informing in a populist way."

"This is a book for those interested in the topic of life, and particularly to those who enjoy the sciences and to non-fiction readers."

"An engaging read that you won't want to put down. It's well written."

"If you've ever looked towards the stars and wondered about the possibility of life elsewhere in the galaxy, this book will go a long way to answering your questions."

Categories: Non fiction, Adventure/Exploration, Essays/Columns, Learning, Science Fiction, 2019 Titles, Small font

Art of Waiting, The
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 242
'Write about something you know' is common advice for writers and American Belle Boggs follows this to the letter. Bringing her own experience to this wide-ranging exploration of infertility and motherhood ensures a thoughtful as well as factual account of this challenging issue.

Drawing on sociology, psychology and literature as well as medical research, this is a memoir with a difference: an accessible, empathetic examination of child-bearing in the 21st century, from the personal to the public, and everything between.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A wide range of ethical, medical and emotional issues considered in a very readable style."

"I think this book will be an excellent catalyst for discussions, although there could be very strong differences regarding religion and/or non-traditional family structures."

"It's very American – I didn't get hooked right at the started but it seemed to get better and better."

"The writing style is accessible, despite some fairly complex medical or business-related sections."

"This book should have wide appeal, given the highly topical nature of the subject and the well-publicised issues around fertility."

"We receive an honest account of Boggs' journey and as she's a writer by profession, it flows very well."

"It has a gentle and empathetic feel, yet it's also technical and proficient."

Categories: Non fiction, Feminism, Medical/Health, Morals/Ethics, Science & Technology, Social commentary/perspectives, 2019 Titles

Before the Fall
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 390
Accepting a flight home on a private jet instead of taking the ferry like everyone else, becomes a life-changing decision for artist Scott Burroughs. When the plane crashes into the ocean between Martha's Vineyard and New York, he and JJ, a four-year-old boy, are the only survivors of the 11 people on board. In the ensuing media maelstrom, the euphoria of their miraculous survival is eroded and the official investigation into the crash takes a backseat to increasing media misinformation and hyperbole.

With its intriguing revelation of the passenger and crews' backstories, and its flirtation with the world of art, this is a page-turning mystery and a novel of our time, rife with 'fake news' and the high cost of 24-hour news cycles.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I was engrossed and finished it in 24 hours, so it's not a long read."

"Easy to read - light but entertaining."

"Great read - each character's history is revealed by chapters. We don't find out why the plane crashes until the end of the novel which does keep the reader in suspense."

"If you enjoy action or mystery books, then you'll enjoy this one."

"Although we get only a small picture of their lives, we do feel empathy for some of the characters and dislike for others."

"Well written and enjoyable to read, it's more a mystery rather than a thriller."

"A clever and well-written tale which captures the media maelstrom that is the curse of western society. It also reminds us that no-one is comfortable having their life laid bare."

Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, Grief/loss, Mystery, Relationships, Suspense/Thriller, Tragedy/disaster, America, 2019 Titles

Behold the Dreamers
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 382
When Jende Jonga is appointed as a chauffeur, it seems as if all his Christmases have come at once. Driving his Wall Street employer Clarke Edwards around New York, is a far cry from life in his native Cameroon and Jende and his ambitious wife Neni will do whatever it takes to be able to stay and pursue the American dream. But it is 2007 and Clarke works for Lehman Brothers ...

From power and privilege through to the challenges and struggles of migrants, this thoughtful story lays bare the lives of the Edwards and Jonga families, exposing the American Dream to the light of day.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"This is a heartwarming story of a man trying to do the best for his family."

"Great story. The author captures the essence of what it would be like to emigrate to a new country with its struggles and achievements."

"Very well written and easy to read and engage with. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book."
"I enjoyed the book and believe it will be a great discussion topic."

"The author brought all characters to life, not just the main characters."

"The author makes good use of recent history and its impact on contrasting couples."

"The inherent goodness in all four characters showed through."

"The really good aspects of the main characters painted a 'bigger person' than they had first presented - except, sadly, for one person."

Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, America, 2019 Titles

Black Water
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 344
Risk analyst John Harper is twiddling his thumbs in some compulsory 'time-out' in the hills of Bali; his Amsterdam-based intelligence organisation is not happy with his recent 'errors of judgement' around the current unrest. It's 1998 and as he reflects on his past, especially his earlier role in Indonesia's coup and counter coup of 1965, he glimpses the tantalising possibility of a different future with the arrival of Rita, a teacher with her own troubled past.

Moving between time periods, this is a story of personal and national turmoil, steeped in bribery and corruption and the legacies of colonialism and the Cold War, but compassionate in its portrayal of a man wrestling with the moral anguish of personal responsibility.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Well written and well researched."

"Well written and open-ended. It highlights relatively unknown, but important, history."

"It does jump around a bit in various time-periods, but it's still easy to follow."

"Perhaps the book would be of more interest to those who have a knowledge of or interest in Indonesia and its history."

"The author is very good at creating a sense of menace and fear."

"The historic facts of the 1960s in Indonesia are very informative."

"I do believe this would be a very good book for men's groups."

"A taut psychological thriller with a slow build-up which keeps the reader's interest right up to the last page."

"The writer does a very good job in describing the conflict and guilt felt by the protagonist."

Categories: Fiction, Adventure/Exploration, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Faction, Grief/loss, Morals/Ethics, Suspense/Thriller, Indonesia, 2019 Titles

Breaking Connections
Genre : Fiction: New Zealand
Year : 2015
Pages : 337
They come together as five-year-olds at Freeman's Bay School in Auckland: Mere and Laura, Keith and Paul, Aaron and Daniel. They are the 'tribe', Maori, Samoan and Palagi, and through thick and thin, fortune and misfortune, they will remain connected by fierce loyalty and friendship. Down the track when Aaron is killed and Daniel called to execute his will, the tribe come together again, forced to face up to and examine the course of their lives and the choices they have and haven't made.

With its familiar multicultural setting and cogent characters, this is a complex story distinguished by its skilful dissection of the waft and weft of connections.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A very interesting and topical book. The novel is complex, well-written and a good yarn."

"The author brings a rare insight to multi-cultural interaction."

"Wendt makes NZ's Polynesian culture come alive."

"The Auckland he writes of is familiar, recognisable, home, but also challenging and at times heart-breaking."

"It is always refreshing to read a story set in your own country, and with a master like Wendt, it makes it a double pleasure."

"After a slow beginning, I found myself carried along with the characters."

"The book was written in such a way that you could not help but be captivated by the characters and I could not put this book down once I got going - and it did take a while to get going."

Categories: Fiction - New Zealand, Community, Contemporary, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Grief/loss, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, 2019 Titles

Breaking Ranks
Genre : Non Fiction: New Zealand
Year : 2017
Pages : 289
A doctor, a soldier and a judge, all men of strong conviction, all men who died prematurely. In his final book, New Zealand literary luminary, James McNeish, brings together three men who defied the Establishment and broke ranks: Dr John Saxby, a pioneering psychiatrist; Brigadier Reginald Miles, a soldier who disobeyed orders and went into battle with his men; and Judge Peter Mahon of Erebus fame.

Presented in a compelling narrative, this highly readable book not only celebrates the lives of these notable men and their contributions to New Zealand, but also considers what it means to be a good New Zealander.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Fascinating stories where narrative fact and analysis are presented in a highly readable form."

"Well written and well researched - the three characters are very well drawn and are brought very much to life."

"Highly recommended book - for the writing, for the histories and for the stories of New Zealanders that shine a light on who we are."

"Where facts are not fully known, McNeish presented interesting and plausible speculations."

"McNeish writes as a raconteur, drawing the reader into his story-telling."

"The writing style will appeal to some but I found that it meandered from biographical detail, personal anecdote, jocular comments and personal observations."

Categories: Non Fiction - New Zealand, Biography, Human Rights, Medical/Health, Morals/Ethics, Political, Social commentary/perspectives, Tragedy/disaster, 2019 Titles

Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, A
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 419
Who would have thought that humans have fewer genes than a banana or a grain of rice? In 2003 the Human Genome Project revealed this information, but their most unexpected discovery was just how little we do know about our genes. Sorting the facts from the hype, author Adam Rutherford gets us up to speed with what we do know: how we came to be, and who we are now.

This is a fascinating and lively account of our collective story spelt out through our genes.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I am a sucker for this 'science explained to the scientifically illiterate' type writing and Rutherford's book was an eye-opener to me."

"I can always tell how much I enjoy a book by how much of it I feel compelled to tell family and friends about it. I have received complaints about becoming repetitive about this one!" It's recommended.

"Accessible and captivating presentation of very complex material."

"This book is packed with information, historic and scientific, fascinating facts with very clear explanations."

"Overall I loved the book. It's not simple but is understandable and enjoyable and well worth the effort."

"Best for people unafraid of non-fiction/science. My social group would run a mile!"

Categories: Non fiction, Learning, Medical/Health, Science & Technology, 2019 Titles

Cast Away
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 336
Experienced journalist Charlotte McDonald-Gibson puts her foreign correspondent's hat on to bring us face-to-face with Europe's refugee crisis. Focusing on five individuals from countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, she presents their stories in all their individual and collective misery: what has happened to them and their families, and their options and hope for the future. As well as giving a human face to this complex issue, the author also provides the historical and political context for these desperate journeys and Europe's response to them.

A well-documented and compassionate accounting of an ongoing humanitarian disaster.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"This book would rate highly on my year's non-fiction recommendations to friends and readers."

"This is a very good and worthwhile read."

"This is the human face of the refugee situation and the aftermath of wars and religious persecution."

"The stories are written clearly - there is no sentiment and no personal blame."

"This is an important book. The desperation of refugees needs to be thought about and discussed."

"There were two parts to this book that appealed to me - the highly emotional stories of the individuals undertaking these desperate journeys; and the background that gives you a much better understanding of the set of circumstances over the 2011-2014 period that has resulted in individuals undertaking these journeys."

Categories: Non fiction, War theme, Contemporary, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Grief/loss, Human Rights, Political, Social commentary/perspectives, Tragedy/disaster, Middle East, 2019 Titles

Cause of Death, The
Genre : Non Fiction: New Zealand
Year : 2017
Pages : 310
In his 30-year career as a provincial pathologist in New Zealand, Dr Cynric Temple-Camp has accrued many cases most unsuitable for discussion at the dinner table. They range from the infamous Lundy case, to instances of spontaneous combustion, exhumations and drug mules, with each case receiving the same respectful care and attention required to determine the cause of death.

Compelling, surprising but never macabre, this is an easy-to-read, informative book chronicling just what goes on when the worst happens.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Anyone interested in murder, forensics, crime, death and pathology will find this book fascinating."

"It's very interesting to read what happens before a coronial investigation into death."

"A good chatty style – very easy to read."

"The book has an interesting range of cases – no two are alike."

"Some of the cases will be particularly familiar to readers, especially the Lundy case."

"I read crime novels for relaxation so it was really interesting to get the 'low down' from a pathologist."

Categories: Non Fiction - New Zealand, Medical/Health, Science & Technology, True Crime, 2019 Titles

Dark Circle, The
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 320
The war is over and the times they are a-changing ... and nothing could demonstrate this more than Lenny and Miriam Lynskey's arrival at the newly commissioned NHS sanatorium in Kent, in 1949. The 19-year-old twins join a melting pot of fellow tuberculosis sufferers: aristocrats, car dealers, war heroes, merchant sea men and more. Sentenced to the harsh and primitive procedures and treatments of the time, the only glimmer of hope on the horizon is a new wonder drug, but who will be lucky enough to receive it?

With its unique setting, to its engagement with the institutionalisation and medical ethics of the time, this is both a warm and engaging novel and a fascinating slice of medical and social history.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I think this book would have wide appeal because it has so much: history, a little romance, friendships, easy to read, and it's entertaining."

"Well framed, beautifully written, great pace, good characterisation with strong, almost pungent central characters!"

"A unique, interesting and well-written story which evokes the atmosphere of post-war England."

"I'm a Linda Grant fan and this is a good modern novel."

"A look back at a disease which ravaged people but now with a miracle antibiotic, it's been relegated to an illness that many young people know nothing about."

"Interesting information about the treatment of and attitudes to TB in the 1940s and 50s."

"It covers an extremely interesting time – the NHS is introduced and class and racial distinctions are starting to break down. An informative read."

Categories: Fiction, Community, Historical, Human Rights, Medical/Health, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, England, 2019 Titles

Dictionary of Mutual Understanding, A
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2015
Pages : 294
A knock on the door of her Philadelphia home takes widow Amaterasu Takahasi back to Japan 40 years earlier, to Nagasaki and the fateful day pikadon (the great flash) destroyed her family. Believing her daughter and grandson were killed by the atomic blast, she is now faced with a scarred stranger claiming to be her grandson Hideo. But before Ama can accept and embrace the possible existence of family, she is forced to confront the shame and regret of her earlier life, and the horror of August 9th, 1945.

Enhanced by dictionary entries of Japanese culture that head each chapter, this mesmerising and moving story delves into the forces, both personal and societal that shaped the destiny of this family, opening the door to healing.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I loved reading this book and have recommended it to my own reading group."

"The writing in this book is extremely vivid. The relationships are unwrapped in a gentle, unhurried way, rather like a jigsaw."

"The dark era of Nagasaki in 1945 is a tough subject to read about, but it is told so well it is totally absorbing."


"A beautiful story well told."

"Each chapter begins with a Japanese word and definition - it is a clever way to explain aspects of the culture to us so we understand what follows."

"This is a good story, but the added benefit is that we are reminded that the use of atomic weapons must be prevented."

Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, Grief/loss, Historical, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Japan, 2019 Titles

Expatriates, The
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 330
However exotic the setting, no one is immune from life's curveballs. Such is the experience of three American women living in Hong Kong. At different life stages and circumstances, Mercy, Hilary and Margaret must each wrestle with loss and change, their lives intertwined in the insular expat community.

Invigorated by the cultural divide and the trials of expatriate living and anchored by the universal experience of family and motherhood, this is a keenly observed story of contemporary Hong Kong.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A very entertaining and fast-moving story with sharp observations of Hong Kong and its inhabitants."

"I really liked the way the story and characters moved through their shared experiences."

"A close look at the privileged world of ex-pat Americans living in Hong Kong."

"I read it in one sitting - riveting."

"The reader receives snap shots of Korean and Hong Kong life with the excesses of an expat life."

"Very easy to read and gives the reader an awareness of the constraint of the life of expatriates."

Categories: Fiction, Community, Contemporary, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Gender Issues, Grief/loss, Morals/Ethics, Social commentary/perspectives, Hong Kong, 2019 Titles

Find Me Unafraid
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2015
Pages : 324
Growing up homeless in Kibera, a slum in Kenya, Kennedy Odede received a book of Martin Luther King's speeches that changed his life and inspired him to start Shining Hope for Communities, a local youth group. Several years later, irrepressible Wesleyan student Jessica Posner travelled to Kenya to work with SHOFCO. Soon, she and Kennedy fell in love. After returning to Wesleyan, Jessica discovered that Kennedy was threatened by political violence. She helped him escape by convincing Wesleyan's admissions committee to offer him a full scholarship.

Once they'd finished college, Kennedy and Jessica returned to Kibera to found a school for hundreds of its most vulnerable residents: girls. They later opened a sister school in another slum, Mathare. With help from the community and donors around the world, they also provide water, health care, and entrepreneurial programs to tens of thousands in both places, and are determined to improve the lives of countless more.

Tender and inspiring, Find Me Unafraid vividly illustrates the power we all have to impact the world, and stands as a testament to the transformations made possible by true love. [Taken from book cover - Ecco Books]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A page-turner, vividly written, with gripping background vignettes."

"An honest and charming love story."

"This is one of the most positive and inspiring books I've read."

"It's easy to read and I learned a lot about slum life in Kenya and just how violent and shocking it is, especially for women."

"This book should appeal to all, even those who initially may be reluctant to read a book set in a slum, as it's just so much more than that."

"It's inspiring, they're still so young. Great to read of their youth and enthusiasm."

Categories: Non fiction, Community, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Gender Issues, Human Rights, Love story, Social commentary/perspectives, Uplifting, Kenya, 2019 Titles

Gate of Angels
Genre : Fiction
Year : 1990
Pages : 218
Fred Fairly, scientist and junior fellow at St Angelicus College and Daisy Saunders, a working-class nurse from London, first meet in the most unlikely of circumstances: a cycling accident has them rescued by a good Samaritan and placed in the same bed to recover. A shock for the signed-up celibate Fred, but less so for the pragmatic Daisy. And so begins a romance that simmers away in the microcosm of pre-WWI Cambridge.

On the cusp of a changing world, this gentle Edwardian period piece, brimming with ideas, delivers an entertaining and satisfying read with its witty and clever writing.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Really lovely writing - the author gets things across with a minimum of words."

"A little bit of old-fashioned fun and frivolity."

"Beautifully written; fabulous evocation of the period through clever descriptive writing."

"It's darkly humorous with good characterisation."

"The humour is rampant, almost slapstick, and the reader is carried along in a seemingly simple tale that is technicolour and far from simple."

"There is much to absorb in what isn't said."

"A lovely period story of old Cambridge."

Categories: Fiction, Historical, Humour, Short read, England, 2019 Titles

Gentleman in Moscow, A
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 462
If indefinite house arrest was to be your fate then Moscow's luxurious Hotel Metropol was an ideal venue. However, instead of his usual suite, Count Alexander Rostov is reduced to living in an attic room, courtesy of the Bolsheviks as punishment for being an aristocrat. In the decades that follow his 1922 sentence, he strives to rise above his circumstances and master them. Along for the journey are a collection of colourful characters, fellow wayfarers cast on the safe shores of the Hotel Metropol, a welcome refuge from the upheaval of the Russian Revolution unfolding outside its doors.

Entertaining and stylish, this is a story shaped by the indomitable spirit of an unrepentant aristocrat, rich with philosophical insights and carefully woven with modern Russian history. [small font]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Beautifully written with lovable characters you become very interested in."

"This is an erudite but easily read and absorbing tale. Also a good introduction to Russian history."

"Beautiful, descriptive writing."

"There is humour, romance, joy and sadness in a well-constructed book which includes many factual references bringing the story alive."

"The book has great humour and prose and the characters are very interesting."

"Lovely prose, well written and engaging."

"It leaves the reader wanting to take notes to follow-up the literary and musical references."

Categories: Fiction, Historical, Political, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, Russia, 2019 Titles

Heat and Light
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 427
Bakerton has seen better days ... now that the coal mines are closed, only what remains on the surface of the land is of value. That is until Dark Elephant Energy comes swooping into town armed with contracts and promises of easy money. Rich Devlin will now be able to pursue his dream of a dairy farm, while Rena and Mack's ability to supply markets and restaurants with organic produce will likely be compromised: the fracking debate has been ignited. There are money men, drillers, activists and all, everyone looking for a cut of the action in small town Pennsylvania.

Thought-provoking and relevant, this story is well served by its multiple narrators and confident examination of the economic and environmental dilemmas of energy production and the unforeseen costs of greed and other human frailties.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"This is the sort of book our group loves to get its teeth into! I thought it was a brilliant book and thoroughly recommend it."

"I enjoy books that have a socio-political theme and this one certainly delivers in that respect."

"An interesting and thought-provoking book, well written and informative."

"It jumps back and forth and it can be confusing at times."

"I felt I got an education at the same time I was entertained by the interesting plot, characters and the setting."

"There are a lot of characters and I did get confused at the beginning until I had sorted them out. It is worth getting through that initial confusion."

Categories: Fiction, Environmental, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, 2019 Titles

Hidden Life of Trees, The
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2015
Pages : 271
Trees that warn their neighbours of impending insect attack using scents and sound vibrations? Trees' parents caring for their offspring? Who would have thought? Presenting the science behind the latest discoveries about trees, forester Peter Wohlleben employs humour and anthropomorphic comparisons to great effect to convey just how trees feel and communicate. Whether it is woodland etiquette, the particular challenges trees in urban streets face, or the impact of climate change, the wide-ranging information is cogently presented.

This is a well-researched and intriguing commentary of trees in all their complexity.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"The book is a captivating read, and while we don't have forests of oak and beech, it is well worth reading."

"It's a very readable book but I think you'd have to have a love of nature to get maximum enjoyment."

"I'm so thankful I chopped down an old tree at home before I read this book. I wouldn't have been able to do it if I had read the book first!"

"I think this book would appeal most to those with a concern for the environment generally."

"I'm a biologist and I found this book easy to read and very informative."

"The book is not an obvious bestseller, but it has great appeal."

"It's not possible to read this book without looking at trees – and our gardens – in a completely different light."

Categories: Non fiction, Contemporary, Environmental, Science & Technology, 2019 Titles

Hillbilly Elegy
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 257
In this internationally bestselling memoir and passionate analysis of a culture in crisis, 'Hillbilly'-born Yale Law graduate J.D. Vance takes a probing look at America's white working class through his own experiences growing up.

The book tells a true story of what social, regional and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck. As his family's saga plays out, the book shows how J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, sister and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty and trauma.

Writing with piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history. Hillbilly Elegy is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American Dream for a large segment of the population. [Taken from book blurb, Harper Collins]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Easy to read and very thought provoking. Great book to discuss."

"This is a well written, funny and deeply moving book."

"It's great that Vance made it to Yale and was able to choose a different path for himself. Sad however that there's such a large community that's been overlooked."

"An insightful look at the community and culture of a Kentucky region."

"Well written story of a very sad child growing up in a violent household."

"The writing has an authentic ring to it – it's fluent but unpolished. It sounds like a real person trying to explain what they have come to realise."

"As you get into the book you realise that J D Vance shouldn't have 'made it' in today's world – it's remarkable he has."

"Vance talks about how the hillbilly community has lost hope in becoming upwardly mobile, how state aid isn't helping and they feel victims of present day society thereby missing out on opportunities – they'll make the same poor choices their parents made."

Categories: Non fiction, Community, Contemporary, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Family Saga, Social commentary/perspectives, 2019 Titles

His Bloody Project
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2015
Pages : 280
Roddy Macrae has already confessed: he killed Constable Lachlan Broad and Broad's children. Now all that needs to be determined is why he brutally murdered his neighbours. The year is 1869 and the Scottish Highlands crofting settlement of Culduie is reeling from the triple murder. From the documents provided, Roddy's memoir written while he is awaiting trial and the reports from the trial itself, surely it will be possible to ascertain if he was insane? More importantly, will the truth prevail or only be revealed as merely a matter of perspective?

A gripping, literary thriller richly weighted with historical detail and the prejudices of the time.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"An excellent, well-written book. The trial scenes were really gripping."

"While it is a bleak story and the lives of the crofters was a bleak one, I didn't find it a negative story because it gripped your attention all the time."

"I would definitely recommend this book. It would provoke a lot of discussion on the life that the crofters lead and the indifference of their 'superiors'."

"The first half is 'written' by Roddy Macrae and what a gripping, tense account it is! I could hardly put the book down as the sense of impending doom grew with each page."

"I think this would be an eye opener for many of us. We have forgotten how hard life was for people."

Categories: Fiction, Grief/loss, Historical, Human Rights, Relationships, 2019 Titles

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 372
When five-year-old Dusty Ravich is shot in a hunting accident, the Ravich and Iron families must find a way to deal with the tragedy on their close-knit North Dakota reservation. Following ancient Obijwe tribal traditions, five-year-old LaRose Iron is in turn 'gifted' to the Ravich family in retribution, and thus begins a journey of fragile recovery.

With its focus on contemporary Native American culture, this is a powerful, well-crafted story examining the quest for justice and restoration in a fractured community.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"An extremely well-crafted book, with characters that haunt you for days after reading the book."

"A story full of human emotion. Great tension."

"An interesting plot with an unusual way of trying to provide justice. The many varied characters are well portrayed."

"A book of wide appeal considering the effects of accidents."

" I enjoyed the suspenseful writing – the style respected the reader and the subject."

"Another excellent Erdrich book about the Native American culture."

Categories: Fiction, Community, Contemporary, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, Tragedy/disaster, America, 2019 Titles

Last Painting of Sara de Vos
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 374
Two talented women more than three centuries apart, rising to the challenges of putting brush to canvas: Sara de Vos, a Dutch painter of the Golden Age and Ellie Shipley, an Australian art history student starving in a garret in 1950s New York. Persuaded to emulate Sara's only known work, 'At the Edge of the Woods', Ellie sets in play a series of events, drawing in Marty De Groot, owner of the painting, and culminating in a Sydney exhibition Ellie will curate decades later.

As multi-layered as the painting at its heart, this meticulously researched story celebrates the creation of art and its magnetic pull on those within its orbit, underpinned by realistic characters and an attention to detail, down to the last brushstroke.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I enjoyed this book thoroughly. Intriguing, superbly researched and very informative about art history."

"It was very hard to put this book down. It is very realistic and the characters are well-developed."

"I just loved this book! The stories of the three main characters are fascinating and I felt totally drawn into their different worlds."

"Some important parts are held back to sustain the tension - really well done."

"The historical aspects were especially well done and the descriptions of life for the woman painter in Amsterdam in the 1600s felt authentic."

"My husband also read and enjoyed this book so I think it would appeal to a wide range of people."

"The book contains varied interesting information about Holland at the time, eg this was the time of the tulip craze."

"This is a very satisfying read and I didn't want the book to end."

Categories: Fiction, Arts, The, Historical, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, 2019 Titles

Let There Be Water
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 337
It's official - global water shortages are looming. Necessity being the mother of invention has meant that Israel, with 60% of its land in desert, is in the perfect position to lead the way in how to transform water scarcity into water abundance with its use of cutting-edge technology, conservation and promotion of a water-sensitive culture. Not only does this well-researched report document the people and solutions involved in this success, but also reveals the potential of water systems collaboration to promote diplomacy.

An informative, enthusiastic and inspiring account of Israel's rise to a water superpower, and what their blueprint offers a thirsty world.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"What a pleasure to read of successful projects in an increasingly hostile and fractious world."

"This book should inform a wide audience – more especially those concerned with water security, pollution, sewerage treatment and hydro chemistry."

"An easy to read book that is very topical with the global water crisis looming."

"Some may claim the book is a pro-Israeli stance on geopolitical issues. I did find the last section to be slightly propagandised."

"It is easy to read and is full of amazing information."

"A remarkable story of how Israel provided safe, secure and abundant water supply not only for personal use but to make the desert bloom with their agriculture."

"The book gives hope for a future in which resources are very likely to be in short supply."

Categories: Non fiction, Community, Contemporary, Environmental, Historical, Learning, Science & Technology, Israel, 2019 Titles

Mend the Living
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2014
Pages : 230
It may be the middle of the winter but Simon Limbeau and his friends relish their crazy early morning surfing session at Le Havre. But it is to be Simon's last - on their way home, there is an accident and Simon ceases to be the vibrant young man he was and will become a source of life to many others. In the 24 hours that follow, a complex operation swings into gear: from organ harvesting to donation, each careful detail, each heart-felt emotion, family and friends to nurses and doctors, and finally to Claire Mejan who will receive Simon's heart.

This is an unforgettable story of transformation that honours the players of life and death in this French drama, deftly capturing in its eloquent language the miracle they are involved in.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"The writing is poetic, sentences are long and poem-like."

"The author captures the anguish of the people affected by an event such as this but we also learn much about organ donation and all it involves."

"A thought-provoking story exploring our reactions to the heart and its transplantation."

"Readers need to adjust to the very long sentences. Disconcerting at first, but then it comes to seem natural."

"The reader gets to know something of the life and attitudes of each person involved in a heart transplant."

"The rich and detailed original prose is a highlight."

"I thought the very long sentences would lose the sense, but they don't."

"The human involvement is done very well – the reactions and emotions involved in everyday activities as well as in the tragedy."

"The author builds up an amazing detail of all the people involved, the family, medical staff, the heart recipient, as well as the medical and social processes."

"I enjoyed it very much and wanted to keep re-reading it – and not give it back!"

"The topic and the writing style would be more appreciated by older readers and squeamish people may not cope with the medical detail."

Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, Grief/loss, Medical/Health, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Tragedy/disaster, Translation, France, 2019 Titles

Miss Jane
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 279
Miss Jane Chisholm of rural Mercury, Mississippi, has been blessed with an inquisitive and agile brain, but less so when it comes to the usual anatomy that ensures the prospect of a husband and family. In short, Jane is 'different' and she will need to find her place in a world with rigid expectations for its young women. In her corner from the moment of her birth in 1915, is the local doctor, Ed Thompson, an ally paving the way for Jane to explore and reshape the boundaries of her existence.

Inspired by the life of the author's great-aunt, this is an uplifting story, sensitively rendered and joyous in its celebration of the countryside that provides solace to a unique and courageous heroine.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Absolutely no negatives. The whole thing is handled with great sensitivity and empathy."

"The writing is beautiful, the book is superbly crafted, and it deals with a central topic rarely (if ever) found in fiction."

"The outline of the plot sounds very gloomy but the sensitivity the writer has shown to his subject has turned it into something quite beautiful and unique."

"The author has captured the time and place brilliantly and done extensive research into Jane's condition."

"The author used nature (physical surroundings) as a character in itself - beautiful descriptions."

"A bittersweet story. I think some could find it quite sad."

Categories: Fiction, Gender Issues, Grief/loss, Historical, Medical/Health, Relationships, 2019 Titles

Moth Snowstorm, The
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 262
The limited joy in Michael McCarthy's troubled Merseyside childhood came from his exposure to nature, so much so that it ultimately nudged him down the path of writing about it for a living.

Now a veteran environmental journalist, he draws from his experience and awe of the natural world to conclude that to be fully human requires us to embrace the joy of nature. Weaving the personal and the political, and the destruction of the environment with the solace it offers, this engrossing book asks us to re-evaluate our relationship with nature.

Sincere and moving, this is an ode to the planet, teeming with details of the natural world and with an unforgettable message.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"This book alerts us to so many things we must be aware of and do something about before it's too late."

"This book would appeal to all ages if the reader is interested in the world about them."

"I enjoyed reading about the author's love of nature that was awakened in him through dire personal circumstances."

"A thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing read with an unforgettable message."

"Very well written and readable and with a purpose - to present us with a theory with which to combat further destruction of the natural world."

Categories: Non fiction, Contemporary, Environmental, Inspirational, Science & Technology, Social commentary/perspectives, 2019 Titles

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2015
Pages : 215
It's hard to imagine a more arresting title, but in this instance, it is trumped by its sub-title 'a black woman discovers her family's Nazi past'. Daughter of a white German mother and a Nigerian father, Jennifer Teege was adopted out as a young child. However, at age 38, her random selection of a library book revealed photos of her biological mother and grandmother and even more shockingly, that her grandfather was Amon Goeth, a Nazi commandant known as the Butcher of Krakow.

This is the empowering story of the author's quest to confront the truth and understand her troubled legacy, supported by a intertwined narrative providing balanced analysis and historical context for this heart-felt testimony.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A very powerful human story. An honest depiction of her struggle to come to terms with her life."

"This book is excellent."

"This story is quickly told and is easy to read despite the awfulness of the subject matter."

"Is there a better story of inherited guilt? Her grandfather was the butcher of Krakow!"

"The book packs a lot into its 215 pages. You get a feel for how hard it was – being adopted and searching for something you felt you missed as a child."

"This book is probably not for the squeamish. What happened in the Holocaust is worse than the average nightmare and the book doesn't pretend otherwise. Having said that, I think in the end it's a book of hope."

"This book will appeal to the thinking groups as it presents many issues for discussion."

"While it's not brilliantly written, it's certainly good enough for inclusion in the scheme."

Categories: Non fiction, Biography, Grief/loss, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, Translation, 2019 Titles

My Name is Leon
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 262
Nine-year-old Leon has already mastered some important life lessons and knows how to look after his new baby brother Jake; someone has to, as their mother Carol is not able to adequately care for her sons. When the inevitable happens and Leon and Jake come to the attention of Social Services, Jake is promptly adopted while Leon remains in foster care.

Set against the race riots of 1980s Britain, this is a moving, understated story, narrated by the endearing Leon, and that compassionately examines a fractured family at the mercy of others.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"A tenderly told story of a difficult time in a little boy's life."

"Wide ranging appeal. The language is occasionally profane, but appropriate."

"Wonderfully realistic characters."

"It is a powerful story. I will now look for the author's earlier works."

"An endearing story, but I was so worried for Leon that I was really tempted to read the last few pages to see what happened."

"A time of racial tension and unrest in Britain underpins the action and is well integrated into the story."

"A very moving tale."

"Very thought-provoking, essentially about the welfare of children with absent or inadequate parents."

Categories: Fiction, Community, Contemporary, Grief/loss, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, England, 2019 Titles

News of the World
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 209
It's not quite time for Captain Jefferson Kidd to hang up his saddle ... he may be getting on in years, but there are still plenty who will pay to hear him read the news of the world. However, it's not itinerant news-reading that is going to keep him on the road, but the request to escort Johanna Leonberger, a ten-year-old liberated captive of the Kiowa. Their 400-mile journey south will be through hostile territory and will culminate with a family faced with a child, a now stranger caught between two worlds.

This convincingly rendered story of 1870s Texas, complete with appealing characters and an evocative landscape, brings to the fore the price of honour and the rewards of nurturing trust.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Every now and again, a book comes along that has you entranced by the major characters, and this is one of those! A gem."

"Loved it. It's beautifully written – I wasn't surprised to find that the author is also a poet."

"Captain Kidd is a gentleman I'd love to know, and his 10 year old 'charge', Johanna, will make you laugh out loud, but also shed a tear."

"With a couple of chapters to go, I didn't know how it would finish. I think the ending alone would make a great discussion."

"I was surprised to find that children abducted by Native American Indians always wanted to return to their Indian families. A fascinating book. I did like Captain Kidd!"

"Beautifully written historical fiction with a strong sense of time and place."

"It gives the reader a good idea of what it must have been like when anarchy ruled in 1870 Texas and every man did what was right in his own eyes."

Categories: Fiction, Adventure/Exploration, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Historical, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, America, 2019 Titles

Night Guest
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2013
Pages : 276
Ruth Field is not so addled that she can't appreciate that the likelihood of a tiger prowling through her house is virtually nil. But the visit of a tiger is not the only disconcerting event, and the arrival of Frida Young at Ruth's isolated property on the New South Wales coast - supposedly sent from the government 'to help' - just adds to the confusion. Ruth might be able to recall her childhood in Fiji with more accuracy than she does the day of the week, but she is certain there is more going on than meets the eye.

Suspenseful and engrossing, this is a cleverly nuanced portrayal of isolation and dependence, and the challenge of knowing who to trust.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"The story is beautifully written and very atmospheric. I enjoyed it very much."

"Beautifully, masterfully written both in the use of language and the delicate crafting of the story."

"We come to know and love Ruth, we feel her grief, confusion and loneliness."

"It is a beautiful story of dependence, love, ageing and greed."

"I have been dwelling on this book ever since I finished reading it. A magnificent ending!!"

"This is the only book I have read and wanted to jump in and save the situation! Totally engrossing but very unsettling."

"While I found the book to be unsettling, I rate it first-class and it's amazing for a first-time author."

Categories: Fiction, Fantasy, Love story, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, 2019 Titles

Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 199
The Bard may very well be turning over in his grave ... or not. In this original re-imagining of Hamlet, instead of Denmark we are in a run-down London mansion and Trudy has betrayed her husband and is scheming with his brother Claude. And Hamlet? Offering a unique perspective on the world and events closer to home is Trudy's precocious unborn child, a narrator like no other.

Swathed in Shakespearean undertones and teeming with cultural references, this is an intriguing and clever literary romp that remains loyal to the murder and deceit at its heart.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Excellent writing with very clever twists of plot."

"Funny. Great re-imagining of Hamlet."

"Very cleverly crafted beautiful prose told from an original perspective."

"Very interesting point of view told in a very literary manner."

"It has a literary style so may not be to everyone's taste."

"A literary tour de force, both daring in conception and masterful in execution. An admirably concise piece of writing."

Categories: Fiction, Literary, Contemporary, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Young narrator, England, 2019 Titles

Pigeon Tunnel, The
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 307
The blurred lines of fiction and faction are given full reign in this collection of 38 vignettes from espionage storyteller John le Carre. Building on his own experiences as a young man in the British secret services, his extensive research for his novels involved exposure to exotic locales and characters and meeting with illustrious movers and shakers over the last several decades. From meeting with Margaret Thatcher, Yasser Arafat and heads of the KGB or visiting Beirut, Rwanda or a desert prison in the Negev, these people and places are vividly portrayed.

This book is a fascinating and enjoyable glimpse into a writer's creative journey, acutely observed and recounted with the wry humour of its genial host.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Great book for the Le Carre fans. I loved it even though I found it uneven and episodic."

"This is a beautifully crafted, fascinating and multi-faceted read, rich in colour and character."

"Perhaps his best writing comes in the pieces on his father Ronnie, a 'conman, fantasist, occasional jailbird', Kim Philby and the British aristocracy."

"This is a fascinating book written with wry humour, much humility, intelligence and acute observations."

"The chapters are bite-sized and easy to read and most enjoyable."

"While there are snippets of humour throughout the book, the wittiest section features the exploits and escapades of his father Ronnie."

Categories: Non fiction, Biography, Adventure/Exploration, 2019 Titles

Radio Girls
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 447
Just in the nick of time, almost down-and-out Maisie Musgrave is appointed as a secretary at the newly established British Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC. These are exciting times, the 1920s, and the advent of the new technology of radio coincides with new opportunities for women. Under the mentorship of her boss Hilda Matheson, Maisie is able to aspire to a career, even as political forces continue to conspire against such lofty ambition.

Explicitly based on many real events and people, this is a fascinating story of the early days of radio and the changing world tuning into its airwaves.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I really enjoyed this book. It was very interesting to learn about early radio and how women were treated."

"An interesting insight into 1920s Britain, as well as it being a well-told tale."

"This is quite the best book I've reviewed this year."

"It has an easy style, engaging characters, skilful blend of fact and fiction and an original subject area – it all works very well."

"The pace was good, characters well written, with moments of humour and heartache."

"The author is very open about what is fact and what is not, which is an important feature in a book like this."

"There are heaps of famous figures in the book who give talks or interviews. Examples are Vita Sackville West and Virginia Wolfe."

Categories: Fiction, Faction, Feminism, Historical, England, 2019 Titles

Radium Girls, The
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 466
When Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium in 1898, it was promoted as a miraculous cure-all. For the young American women who worked with it as 'dial-painters' during WWI, it afforded them a glamorous and much-envied job, until it became apparent it was poisoning them. The battle they had on their hands was both for their own health and against the United States Radium Corporation, deniers of radium's risks and their responsibility to their employees.

Harrowing yet inspiring, this extensively-researched expose of courage and sacrifice versus corporate greed and dishonesty, delivers an engrossing story of a ground-breaking victory for workers' rights.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"While the story is heart-breakingly sad, I also found it a privilege to read the women's stories. Highly recommended."

"At times the book is harrowing, yet it is also uplifting."

"A sad story, but the book is very well-written and very, very interesting."

"A very uplifting story. It is a great reminder of how far we have come with regards to medical research and the way we treat employees."

"I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys non-fiction and can cope with sadness. It's a real eye-opener."

"I generally don't like biographies where the author says what people said and thought, but the appendices show that the author did the research necessary to gain knowledge of what was said and thought."

Categories: Non fiction, Biography, Environmental, Historical, Human Rights, Inspirational, Morals/Ethics, America, 2019 Titles

Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2015
Pages : 371
With a Scottish granny, an Irish Catholic mother and a Polish father, you'd expect to have a few jokes up your sleeve ... and Magda Szubanski certainly does. Best known for her roles in Kath and Kim and Babe, this Australian entertainer reveals that the path to stardom has had many a pitfall. Along the way she has needed to reconcile with the usual accommodations of entering adulthood, but also her beloved father's role as an assassin during the Warsaw Uprising in WWII, and more latterly, with the decision to publicly acknowledge her sexual orientation.

This is no frivolous celebrity memoir, but a story of substance, a voyage of discovery to understand self and family; a brave and tender, beautifully written reckoning.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Beautiful writing with very evocative descriptions - a joy to read."

"Szubanski paints wonderful word pictures."

"I think this is a must read. A great book."

"Brilliant writing with a wonderfully rich vocabulary."

"The book is at times very, very funny."

"This book should appeal to all – her sexuality is written of in a very non-confrontational style."

"The book provides a wonderful insight into the life of Magda as a real person and not just the very clever actress and comedian we see on the TV."

"Highly recommended memoir."

Categories: Non fiction, Biography, Contemporary, Feminism, Gender Issues, Humour, Relationships, 2019 Titles

Road No Good
Genre : Non Fiction: New Zealand
Year : 2017
Pages : 242
When Bridget Isichei up sticks and relocates to Luganville on the Vanuatu island of Espiritu Santo, one of the obvious contrasts to her white middle-class life, is her new street address - not the familiar Smith Street or Jones Lane, but 'Road No Good', the first of many interesting differences she was to face during her two-year stay. Having accepted a New Zealand Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) assignment to teach pre-school teachers, Bridget finds herself immersed in a society that simultaneously practises black magic and a Christian faith and ranks pigs higher than women - something she and the women she is to teach, are determined will not be a barrier to their education.

Written with sensitivity and respect, this is an inspiring story of friendship, of the power of education, and the realisation that none of us have all the answers.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I loved the book. From my personal experience I found it credible."

"I think this book would appeal to most women, especially teachers. It would be inspirational to young people interested in VSA or similar work."

"I think this book will have wide appeal. It's easy to read and easy to get involved with the author's experiences."

"This is a very readable story of positive, honest interaction between individuals from very different cultures."

"I enjoyed reading of what Bridget learnt from the women – how to be grateful, have faith and be content."

Categories: Non Fiction - New Zealand, Biography, Community, Contemporary, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Feminism, Gender Issues, Grief/loss, Human Rights, Morals/Ethics, Travel, 2019 Titles

Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 361
What could Hendrik Groen, ensconced in his Amsterdam rest home, have to write about? Quite a lot it turns out ... and even more so when he and his friends form the 'Old-but-not-yet-dead club'. High jinks ensue. And that's the point - just because your 'best before' date has passed and your 'use by' date is looming, it doesn't mean you have to take it sitting down (unless of course, you are in a suitable chair).

Entertaining and moving, this is a story where the politics of ageing are sensitively explored through the acerbic insights and subversive humour of its true-to-life characters and the circumstances that befall them.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I enjoyed the humour of the book and the character development."

"This story has led me to think more constructively on the need to develop a range of housing and support for elders apart from boarding schools for the elderly."

"I enjoyed the sardonic humour touched with pathos of a group of elders living out their final years of life."

"I enjoyed the wonderful characters - the indominatable Hendrik, his irreverent friend and the calm and resourceful Elfie."

"Those under 60 will be charmed and inspired. For those over 65, it does not paint a cheerful picture of what may be in store for us."

"It is entertaining, charming and fast moving."

"Personally at age 68, I found it sad - even the funny bits."

Categories: Fiction, Grief/loss, Humour, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, Holland, 2019 Titles

See You in September
Genre : Fiction: New Zealand
Year : 2017
Pages : 424
It starts off so innocently ... a group of friendly and helpful people, an idyllic valley near Rotorua, a chance to take stock. Before she knows it, young Englishwoman Cassy Howell's plans for a short holiday in New Zealand have been ditched and she opts to stay permanently, especially now that she has her unborn child to consider. The Gethsemane community is everything she could have ever wanted, but over time their leader Justin's claims that they are in the 'Last Days' raise all sorts of questions - just where will his faith take them all?

Fast-paced and gripping, this is an exciting story of a community in thrall to its charismatic leader.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I found the book as 'unputdownable' as the cover promised."

"The story draws you in quickly and while it's difficult to believe how an educated woman could be drawn in, the story is so well written that it is frightening how easily it occurs."

"A great read. I couldn't put it down."

"This is an easy read which is very hard to put down as it builds to its exciting climax."

"An absorbing read, cleverly written."

"The author has researched the cult mentality very convincingly."

"A most enjoyable read. I will now read the author's other books."

"An absorbing read cleverly using the familiar and known elements of the present-day world."

Categories: Fiction - New Zealand, Community, Contemporary, Morals/Ethics, Social commentary/perspectives, 2019 Titles

Small Great Things
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 467
Ruth Jefferson, an African American labour and delivery nurse, faces a dreadful dilemma - follow the hospital's ruling that she is not to care for the child of white supremacists or throw caution to the wind and intervene when the baby stops breathing. This no-win situation leads to Ruth's appearance in court relying on a white lawyer who is convinced arguing racism will not keep her out of prison.

Powerful and compelling, and narrated from three different viewpoints, this is a courageous story confronting racism and white privilege in 21st century America.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"The reader is challenged to consider their own racial prejudice, privilege and compassion."

"An easy to read style, it is written with sensitivity, but does make the reader uncomfortable."

"Another brilliant novel by Jodi Picoult. It's an emotive book that puts both racism and white privilege on trial in a nail-biting courtroom drama."

"As uncomfortable as it may be, these issues need to be raised and reflected on."

"Everyone should read this book. It's a powerful novel."

"Very well written and a fast and easy read - a great book for discussion of some big issues."

"Lots of issues raised such as race, privilege, family, employment, professionalism and boundaries."

Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, Grief/loss, Human Rights, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, America, 2019 Titles

Stay With Me
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2017
Pages : 296
The world should be their oyster: Yejide and Akin are a modern young couple, university educated, prosperous and happily married. But alas, when the expected children fail to materialise, drastic steps will need to be taken. Against the political chaos of 1980s Nigeria, Yejide and Akin must manage the turmoil of their own lives - the pressure of traditional societal expectations and the price they are prepared to pay for children.

This is an emotionally powerful story of hope and despair and the sacrifices we make for family.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"This is an electrifying novel with lots of plot twists and horrifying surprises."

"I think most readers would find this book to be an absorbing and illuminating read."

"Very easy read – gripping, unexpected and interesting."

"This would be a harrowing read for anyone who has lost a young child. However, it's a remarkable read."

"Well paced, characters well drawn, modern and yet full of Nigerian cultural mores."

"The reader gets a good impression of Nigeria, its every day life, the effects of the political background and the mix of traditional beliefs and modern 'western' life."

"The way in which the bubbling political unrest provides a backdrop for the action is skilfully depicted."

"I found the first chapter a little confusing initially but it definitely got better. A stunning story."

"Each major event is portrayed from both the wife's and husband's perspective which is intriguing."

"This book could be upsetting for anyone dealing with infertility, unfaithfulness or the death of a child."

Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Grief/loss, Love story, Morals/Ethics, Nigeria, 2019 Titles

Strays, The
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2014
Pages : 290
As the only child of conventional parents, Lily is drawn to the flamboyant lifestyle of her best friend Eva's family. The Trenthams were avant-garde artists, hosts of a bohemian community who actively rejected the conservatism of 1930s Melbourne. Now 40 years later as they come together for a retrospective exhibition, Lily examines the events of the past when Evan and Helene Trentham's spectacular neglect of their children set in motion dramatic events whose repercussions are still being felt.

Loosely based on Melbourne's Heide Circle artists' colony, this is a beautifully crafted award-winning novel of substance that chronicles the rise and fall of a family and the price to be paid for the creative life.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Easy to read, engaging characters, and poetic language. I enjoyed it very much."

"A fascinating and beautifully crafted story loosely based on the real life Melbourne artists' colony in the 1930s."

"I really liked the author's writing style and the voice of the narrator."

"There are some wonderful metaphors."

"A well-crafted book that is immediately engaging."

"I liked the story itself and the characters are complex and well-drawn."

Categories: Fiction, Arts, The, Family Saga, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Australia, 2019 Titles

Things That Matter
Genre : Non Fiction: New Zealand
Year : 2016
Pages : 224
Intensive Care Specialist Dr David Galler is a man who on a daily basis has the opportunity to consider just what are the things that really matter. In the hands of this veteran Auckland physician, we journey through the hallowed doors of the Intensive Care Unit and into the lives of the patients and staff and beyond. From the nuts and bolts of bodies to the wider picture of New Zealand's health care system, it is not only the professional arena laid bare, but the personal too, particularly the story of his Polish Jewish refugee parents.

Subtitled 'stories of life and death', this is an enlightening and engaging book, refreshing in its blend of humanity and science.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Although there are rather technical aspects to the book, the use of personal anecdotes and humour make it a very enjoyable read."

"The book is almost a social documentary around the NZ health system."

"The book is informative to the lay person and easy and engaging to read."

"I have a medical background and found the book a very interesting read."

"I certainly wouldn't recommend this book to anyone recently bereaved."

"Anyone interested in health and health services in NZ, and public health concerns, would find this book very interesting."

"It's very interesting to read the author's thoughts on the NZ health care system. I wasn't so interested in reading how body organs function. It's not for the squeamish."

Categories: Non Fiction - New Zealand, Biography, Medical/Health, Morals/Ethics, Social commentary/perspectives, Blind Foundation book, 2019 Titles

This is Not My Beautiful Life
Genre : Non Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 321
The arrival of Federal Agents on the doorstep of her mother and stepfather's southern Florida mansion, was the first hint to nine-months pregnant Victoria Fedden, that the 'let's play happy families' scenario she was happily embracing, was not going to last. Heading off to trial on multiple charges of fraud, Cecily and Joel are going to be out of the picture, taking with them the Hollywood lifestyle they have all been enjoying. In the meantime, Victoria must traverse the challenges of childbirth, the reassessment of her dysfunctional family and the spectre of post-natal depression.

Messy and vicariously hilarious, this engaging memoir is elevated by its powerful combination of honesty and humour, and its hard-won insights.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"Very well written and extremely funny in parts – fast paced with excellent descriptions of people, places and FOOD."

"There is a lot of swearing and blaspheming but this is how the family thinks and acts – a mile a minute!"

"I did not think at first that I would relate to Victoria, however by the time she described the birth, I was completely won over."

"Some of Victoria's observations about family and relationships are very insightful and thought-provoking."

"It is very, very funny and Feden's humour is largely directed at herself. Enjoyable. I read it in three days."

"Victoria is so honest and forthright and trying so hard to understand her own life that it is totally absorbing."

"I guess this is a modern-day memoir with the problems of life today, bad language and humour through-out it all."

Categories: Non fiction, Biography, Contemporary, Family Saga, Humour, Relationships, Social commentary/perspectives, America, 2019 Titles

Underground Railroad, The
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 306
Cora and fellow slave Caesar flee their cotton plantation in Georgia, hanging on to the hope and knowledge that there are brave souls who will risk their own lives to get them to freedom. It is not just an underground railway of routes and safe houses but a literal subterranean bricks and mortar network moving people away from the abhorrent realities of slavery in the antebellum South. Cora's journey north is harrowing as she experiences, state by state, inventive solutions to the 'negro problem'.

Referencing today's political and social attitudes, and with its vignettes of alternate history, this is a powerful, genre-bending story of America and its past. [Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and National Book Award Winner.]

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"There are numerous issues raised which would keep any serious book club talking for several sessions. A real tour de force."

"Everyone should read this book. I'm not sure they will however 'enjoy' it. It's very grim in places."

"A book with an historical basis - it's a gripping read and is thought provoking - a very clever interpretation. It leaves a lasting impression."

"The book is a bit gruesome at times - but so were those times."

"A devastating picture of the degradation that African slaves were subjected to, particularly in the south of the US."

"I tend to avoid books on slavery because I know I would be appalled by the treatment meted out. I was appalled but I'm glad I had the opportunity to learn about it."

Categories: Fiction, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Historical, Human Rights, Social commentary/perspectives, America, 2019 Titles

Waking Lions
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 409
'O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!' Dr Eitan Green's behaviour showcases the veracity of these famous words; one minute he is driving home from work on a moonlit desert road, the next minute there is a hit-and-run incident that will impact on every facet of his life. From his relationship with his police officer wife Liat to his involvement with Sikrit, an Eritrean widow, and her underground clinic for illegal migrants, Eitan is brought face-to-face with his own fallibility.

This is a powerful, fast-paced story of contemporary Israel, with exhilarating twists and turns generating moral dilemmas for its complex characters and reinforcing the unpredictable nature of human behaviour.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"The book is very difficult to put down and the whole, including the end, is very satisfying."

"The only warning I'd give is that the story is quite addictive!"

"A fascinating exercise in the consequences that flow from our actions, not only the main incident but many others throughout."

"It's a novel that draws you in very quickly and makes you consider how easily lives can be changed."

"I found it impossible to put the book down – it was so believable."

"The translation is superb – I wonder if the original language is as good."

"A gripping and powerful read."

"An absorbing study of humanity."

Categories: Fiction, Contemporary, Culture/Ethnic/Racial, Human Rights, Medical/Health, Morals/Ethics, Suspense/Thriller, Israel, Jewish Culture, 2019 Titles

Widow, The
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 313
No-one is mourning the death of Glen Taylor, least of all his widow Jean; she considers herself well rid of 'all of his nonsense'. She did her time standing by her man when he was accused of the abduction of a toddler, but now he is out of the picture, she is free to step out from behind his shadow and reveal ... nobody knows just what she will reveal, how much she knows and just what she should have known.

Giving voice to the experience of a spouse in the orbit of an evil-doer, this intriguing psychological thriller with its clever use of multiple narrators is gripping from beginning to end as the real Jean is slowly unveiled.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I enjoyed this book. It's a well-written thriller that keeps your attention from the beginning. An easy read that's hard to put down."

"I changed my mind about who was involved several times and I liked the way the author played with my emotions."

"A well-written book that kept my interest throughout."

"A very easy read. The reader is held in suspense right to the end."

"An easily read, engrossing account of a child's abduction."

"A thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and wife."

Categories: Fiction, Community, Contemporary, Psychology, Relationships, Suspense/Thriller, 2019 Titles

Wish Child, The
Genre : Fiction: New Zealand
Year : 2016
Pages : 382
The Heilmanns in Berlin and the Kronings tending their land near Leipzig, two loyal families working hard and accepting the Fuhrer's assurances of eventual victory. It is through their respective children, Sieglinde and Erich that the domestic detail of life under the Third Reich is revealed, innocent eyes capturing the ascent of a dream and the failure of a monstrous regime.

Poignant and insightful, this is a remarkable story, aided by its mysterious narrator, revealing ordinary citizens believing until they could no longer. and asking the question - why did no-one ask questions?

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"I loved this book and will remember it. It was very well written and is both moving and well-researched."

"A superb book. The writing is lyrical, competent and the story is imaginative."

"A book to savour and think about. I've been recommending it to friends."

"A wonderful account of how German people adapted to their situation."

"I think most BDS members will be moved by the storytelling."

"A beautifully written story that gives you an understanding of how a dictator can control the people in a country."

"Wonderful writing and a new take on Germany in the 1930s."

"An unknown narrator tells the story and I found this disconcerting. It all made sense towards the end when the identity of the narrator is revealed."

Categories: Fiction - New Zealand, War theme, Historical, Morals/Ethics, Political, Relationships, Tragedy/disaster, 2019 Titles

Wonder, The
Genre : Fiction
Year : 2016
Pages : 291
A wonder or a hoax? Eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell has supposedly not eaten for months. Lib Wright, a 'Nightingale' nurse fresh from the Crimea, has been employed by the parish, along with a nun, to monitor the veracity of the claim. Athlone is an impoverished Irish village, a place where faith and superstition are practised hand-in hand, and Anna's welfare is a hotbed of conflicted interest. What possible effect could a lone Englishwoman working with 'scientific nursing principles' have on a family and a community who believe in miracles?

This is an intriguing story, an atmospheric mystery, true to the period and rich with the trappings of faith.

Comments from BDS Reviewers:

"An insightful and fascinating read, raising questions of the place of religion, family, community and science on a child's well-being."

"Well drawn out intrigue, with many interesting elements drawn into the story – mysticism, the role of parish priest and doctor, Crimean war and the discipline of being a Nightingale nurse."

"The second half of the book was my favourite – the speed and excitement picked up."

"If readers can get past the initial slowness of the book I think everyone would enjoy it and have an opinion."

"A well-worked, original plot with minor details and the essential horror of the tale combining to make a fine piece of work."

Categories: Fiction, Community, Historical, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, Religion, Ireland, 2019 Titles

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