4th February 2021

2020: 20 books you may have missed

So, 2020 eh... there’s no doubt it was a challenging year. Hopefully you still found time to relax & enjoy some good books. But with the physical library closed, you may have missed out on a few exciting reads! Here are 20 of the most hyped books you may have missed last year, that you can now find on our shelves in 2021.

2020: 20 books you may have missed

All Our Shimmering Skies – Trent Dalton

“And she thinks about the life she could have had if she’d known how to move through this complex earth the way water always knows how to move through it.”

 

An Australian fiction novel set during World War Two in Darwin, written by the best-selling author of Boy Swallows Universe.
Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain down, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger’s daughter, turns once again to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag next to the map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep-country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: Greta, a razor-tongued actress and Yukio, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot.
Run, Molly, run, says the daytime sky. Run to the vine forests. Run to northern Australia’s wild and magical monsoon lands. Run to friendship. Run to love. Run. Because the graverobber’s coming, Molly, and the night-time sky is coming with him. So run, Molly, run.

 

Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky
“The candle flickered in the wind of the hurricane… Then, the light of one hundred billion stars burned out.”
A combination of mystery, thriller and horror, focused on a seven-year old boy who vanishes in the woods for six days, before returning changed. From the best-Selling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Imagine… Leaving your house in the middle of the night. Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she’s just as scared as you.
Imagine… Starting a new school, making friends. Seeing how happy it makes your mother. Hearing a voice, calling out to you.
Imagine… Following the signs, into the woods. Going missing for six days. Remembering nothing about what happened.
Imagine… Something that will change everything… And having to save everyone you love.

 

The Eighth Life – Nino Haratischwili
“We decide what we want to remember and what we do not. Time has nothing to do with it. Time doesn’t care.”

 

A historical epic spanning over 100 years and six generations that captures the rise and fall of the Soviet Union through the lens of one family.

At the start of the twentieth century, on the edge of the Russian Empire, a family prospers. It owes its success to a delicious chocolate recipe, passed down the generations with great solemnity and caution. A caution which is justified: this is a recipe for ecstasy that carries a very bitter aftertaste …
Stasia learns it from her Georgian father and takes it north, following her new husband, Simon, to his posting at the centre of the Russian Revolution in St Petersburg. Stasia’s is only the first in a symphony of grand but all too often doomed romances that swirl from sweet to sour in this epic tale of the red century.

 

Hurricane Season – Fernanda Melchor
“… and Norma closed her eyes in sheer shame, so as not to see the dark stain that suddenly appeared on her robe and soaked the bed sheet; so as not to see the noses wrinkled by the disgust of the women in the neighbouring beds, nor the accusing looks of the nurses, when they finally deigned to change her, without untying her for a single moment from the bed because those had been the instructions of the social worker: keeping her prisoner until the police arrived, or until Norma confessed and said what she had done…”
A violent and modern-day mystery set in a modern-day Mexican village.
The Witch is dead. And the discovery of her corpse—by a group of children playing near the irrigation canals—propels the whole village into an investigation of how and why this murder occurred. Rumours and suspicions spread. As the novel unfolds in a dazzling linguistic torrent, with each unreliable narrator lingering on new details, new acts of depravity or brutality, Melchor extracts some tiny shred of humanity from these characters that most would write off as utterly irredeemable, forming a lasting portrait of a damned Mexican village.

 

 

2020: 20 books you may have missed

The Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri
“Where there are bees there are flowers, and wherever there are flowers there is new life and hope.”

 

The unforgettable love story of a mother blinded by loss and her husband who insists on their survival as they undertake the Syrian refugee trail to Europe.
Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo–until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.
As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all, they must journey to find each other again.

 

A Long Petal of the Sea – Isabel Allende
“Going around in a sulk will get you nowhere. Pain is unavoidable, but suffering is optional. “
From the author of The House of the Spirits, this epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home.
From the author of The House of the Spirits, this epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home.
In the late 1930s, civil war grips Spain. When General Franco and his Fascists succeed in overthrowing the government, hundreds of thousands are forced to flee in a treacherous journey over the mountains to the French border. Among them is Roser, a pregnant young widow, who finds her life intertwined with that of Victor Dalmau, an army doctor and the brother of her deceased love. In order to survive, the two must unite in a marriage neither of them desires.

 

The Mercies – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
“But now she knows she was foolish to believe that evil existed only out there. It was here, among them, walking on two legs, passing judgement with a human tongue.”
After a storm has killed off all the island’s men, two women in a 1600s Norwegian coastal village struggle to survive against both natural forces and the men who have been sent to rid the community of alleged witchcraft.
Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Bergensdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Northern town of Vardø must fend for themselves.
Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty evil.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins (Prequel to The Hunger Games)
“Well, as they said, it’s not over until the mockingjay sings.”
Set over sixty years before the events of The Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes explores the origins of the series’ eventual villain, President Snow.
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmanoeuvre his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.
The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favour or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute… and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

 

 

2020: 20 books you may have missed

Stillicide – Cynan Jones
“People get on with it. People have always got on with it. Dystopia is as ridiculous a concept as utopia. Ultimately, we’re animals… and animals find ways.”
New Yorker fiction writer Cynan Jones returns with a powerful climate crisis story about love and loss that offers a glimpse of a tangible, dystopic future in which water is commodified and vulnerable to sabotage.
Water is commodified. The Water Train that serves the city increasingly at risk of sabotage.
As news breaks that construction of a gigantic Ice Dock will displace more people than first thought, protestors take to the streets and the lives of several individuals begin to interlock. A nurse on the brink of an affair. A boy who follows a stray dog out of the city. A woman who lies dying. And her husband, a marksman: a man forged by his past and fearful of the future, who weighs in his hands the possibility of death against the possibility of life.

 

Doing Time – Jodi Taylor
“He sighed. ‘I am a lone voice in the Deserts of Incomprehension.”

 

Introducing The Time Police, the brand-new series by international bestselling author, Jodi Taylor – an irresistible spinoff from the much-loved Chronicles of St Mary’s series. Perfect reading for fans of Doctor Who, Ben Aaronovitch and Jasper Fforde.

At some time in the future, the secret of time-travel became available to all. Chaos ensued as people sought to take advantage. Because there will always be nutters who want to change history…
And so the Time Police were formed. Internationally sanctioned thugs whose task it was to keep the timeline straight by any and all means possible. And they succeeded. The Time Wars are over. The Time Police won. But who will win the peace?

 

3zekiel – Peter Cawdron
“Don’t go looking for miracles. You are the miracle. Every day, your body creates roughly three hundred billion new blood cells. That’s more than all the stars in the galaxy. Imagine that.”

 

A science-fiction novel which explores the establishment of first contact with an alien species.
Deep within the Congo, a team of scientists prepares for the greatest event in the history of humanity, making First Contact with an intelligent extraterrestrial species, only the jungle is no place for doubts.
Could First Contact be our last?

 

All the Stars and Teeth – Adalyn Grace

“The stars in his eyes aren’t only crafted by adventure. They’ve been formed by years of loneliness. Of looking up into a sky full of dreams and never being quite able to reach it.”

 

The first novel in the All the Stars and Teeth series, a young adult fantasy world filled with magic and pirates.
As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.
When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.
But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

 

 

2020: 20 books you may have missed

A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and a Vision for the Future – David Attenborough
“We moved from being a part of nature to being apart from nature.”

 

The accompanying book to the Netflix documentary David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. In this scientifically informed account of the changes occurring in the world over the last century, award-winning broadcaster and natural historian, David Attenborough, explores the loss of the Earth’s biodiversity while sharing a hopeful vision for the future.
‘I am 93. I’ve had an extraordinary life. It’s only now that I appreciate how extraordinary.
As a young man, I felt I was out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world – but it was an illusion. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day — the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity.
I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake — and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right.
We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited.
All we need is the will to do so.’

 

Hazelwood – Tom Doig
“The Australian coal industry doesn’t just cause disasters – it is a disaster.”
An in-depth exploration of the 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire, one of the worst environmental and public health disaster’s in Victoria’s history.
Early in the afternoon of 9 February 2014, during the worst drought and heatwave south-eastern Australia had experienced in over a century, two separate bushfires raged towards the massive Hazelwood open-pit brown-coal mine, near Morwell in the Latrobe Valley. The fires overwhelmed local fire-fighting efforts and sent a skyful of embers sailing onto millions of square metres of exposed, highly flammable brown coal. Twelve hours later, the mine was burning.
The Hazelwood mine fire burned out of control for 45 days. As the air filled with toxic smoke and ash, residents of the Latrobe Valley became ill, afraid – and angry. Up against an unresponsive corporation and an indifferent government, the community banded together, turning tragedy into a political fight.

 

City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong – Antony Dapiran
“And what is the soul of a place, but its identity?”
A long-term resident and expert observer of dissent in Hong Kong takes readers to the front lines of Hong Kong’s revolution.
Through the long, hot summer of 2019, Hong Kong burned. Anti-government protests, sparked by a government proposal to introduce a controversial extradition law, grew into a pro-democracy movement that engulfed the city for months. Protesters fought street battles with police, and the unrest brought the People’s Liberation Army to the very doorstep of Hong Kong. Driven primarily by students and youth protesters with their ‘Be Water!’ philosophy, borrowed from hometown hero Bruce Lee, this leaderless, technology-driven protest movement defied a global superpower and changed Hong Kong, perhaps forever. But it also changed China, and challenged China’s global standing.

 

We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know – Sophie McNeill
“If this was the world we had created, where war crimes were allowed to be carried out live, day after day with no consequence, then we were – at the very least – required to watch and recognise the full cost of our inaction.”
Stories from some of the most war-ravaged regions on Earth by the ABC award-winning investigative reporter and former foreign correspondent Sophie McNeill. Shortlisted for the 2020 Walkley Book Award.
For more than 15 years, award-winning journalist Sophie McNeill has reported on some of the most war-ravaged and oppressive places on earth, including Syria, Gaza, Yemen, West Bank and Iraq.
In We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know, Sophie tells the human stories of devastation and hope behind the headlines – of children, families and refugees, of valiant doctors, steadfast dissidents and Saudi women seeking asylum. These innocent civilians bear the brunt of the lawlessness of the current age of impunity, where war crimes go unpunished and human rights are abused. Many risk everything they know to stand up for what they believe in and to be on the right side of history, and their courage is extraordinary and inspiring,
McNeill also examines what happens when evidence and facts become subjective and debatable, and how and why disinformation, impunity and hypocrisy now reign supreme. We can’t say we didn’t know – the question now is, what are you going to do about it?

 

 

2020: 20 books you may have missed

The Road: Uprising in West Papua – John Martinkus
“In 2003, even in the most remote places I could get to, speaking to those who had never had a day of school, who could neither read nor write, I found they could still quote you the entire history of the Indonesian takeover… Dates, events, attacks and the scale of the casualties at the hands of the Indonesian forces were seared into their minds by their own experience or the recollections of their elders.”
One of Australia’s closest neighbours, the region of West Papua has been occupied by Indonesia since 1963. In the face of an information blackout by Indonesia, The Road provides up-to-date accounts of the conflict unfolding in the region.
Chemical weapons deployed. Choppers taken out. Communications repressed. Tens of thousands of people displaced. The West Papuan independence movement has reignited, and Indonesian troops are cracking down.
In The Road, John Martinkus gives a gripping, up-to-date account of the province’s descent into armed conflict and suppression. Replete with vivid detail and new information, this revelatory work of journalism shows how and why a highlands road led to an uprising, and where this might all lead.

 

Untamed – Glennon Doyle
“This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.”
An autobiography focused on Glennon Doyle’s awakening and exploration of her sense of sexuality and self.
There is a voice of longing inside every woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good mothers, daughters, partners, employees, citizens, and friends. We believe all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives, relationships, and world, and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this?

 

Tell Me Why: The Story of My Life and My Music – Archie Roach
“This is the story of anyone who has been stolen from family, who has been searching all their life for their identity, their people, culture and country.”

 

A powerful memoir of singer-songwriter Archie Roach, a member of The Stolen Generation who has become one of Australia’s greatest musicians and a prominent Indigenous leader and advocate.
Not many have lived as many lives as Archie Roach – stolen child, seeker, teenage alcoholic, lover, father, musical and lyrical genius, and leader – but it took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was.
Roach was only two years old when he was forcibly removed from his family. Brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, his world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of.
In this intimate, moving and often shocking memoir, Archie’s story is an extraordinary odyssey through love and heartbreak, family and community, survival and renewal – and the healing power of music. Overcoming enormous odds to find his story and his people, Archie voices the joy, pain and hope he found on his path through song to become the legendary singer-songwriter and storyteller that he is today – beloved by fans worldwide.

 

Our House Is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis – Greta Thunberg, Svante Thunberg, Malena Ernman and Beata Ernman
“Because if we knew – if we really understood the consequences of what we’re doing and kept on doing it…what would that say about us?”
A memoir of Greta Thunberg’s family and their journey to becoming the face of action against climate change.
When climate activist Greta Thunberg was eleven, her parents Malena and Svante, and her little sister Beata, were facing a crisis in their own home. Greta had stopped eating and speaking, and her mother and father had reconfigured their lives to care for her. Desperate and searching for answers, her parents discovered what was at the heart of Greta’s distress: her imperilled future on a rapidly heating planet.
Steered by Greta’s determination to understand the truth and generate change, they began to see the deep connections between their own suffering and the planet’s. Written by a remarkable family and told through the voice of an iconoclastic mother, Our House Is on Fire is the story of how they fought their problems at home by taking global action. And it is the story of how Greta decided to go on strike from school, igniting a worldwide rebellion.

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