December reads...

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All my puny sorrows by Miriam Toews
 You won't forget Elf and Yoli, two smart and loving sisters. Elfrieda, a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yolandi, divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men as she tries to find true love: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. Yoli is a beguiling mess, wickedly funny even as she stumbles through life struggling to keep her teenage kids and mother happy, her exes from hating her, her sister from killing herself and her own heart from breaking.
     But Elf's latest suicide attempt is a shock: she is three weeks away from the opening of her highly anticipated international tour. Can she be nursed back to "health" in time? Does it matter? As the situation becomes ever more complicated, Yoli faces the most terrifying decision of her life.

Hidden by Emma Kavanagh
HE'S WATCHING
A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He's unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently.

Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman - before it's too late.

SHE'S WAITING
To psychologist Imogen, hospital should be a place of healing and safety - both for her, and her young niece who's been recently admitted. She's heard about the gunman, but he has little to do with her. Or has he?

As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman's next target will be. But he's there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks...
Beneath a rising sun by Peter Watt

Sergeant Jessica Duffy relishes her work as a code breaker in MacArthur's headquarters but is also secretly reporting on the Americans to the Prime Minister. When she uncovers treason at the highest levels, neither duty nor dishonour will stop her getting justice.

Captain James Duffy, a decorated fighter pilot with the United States Marine Corps, is expected to wait out the war assisting the bond effort, helping to make movies that gloss over the tragic realities of combat. Despite his scars, he is desperate to return to the cockpit...until a chance meeting gives him something new to fight for.
Major David Macintosh has survived prison camps, torture and countless battles, but can he endure the machinations of his obsessive cousin, Sarah? Sarah is prepared to do anything to take over the family companies, and will destroy anyone who gets in her way.

From the frontlines of the Pacific to the back lots of Hollywood, a new generation faces deadly missions, impossible choices and an inescapable family legacy.

Olmec obituary by L.J.M Owen
Yearning for her former life as an archaeologist, Australian librarian Dr. Elizabeth Pimms is struggling with a job she doesn’t want, a family she both loves and resents, and enforced separation from her boyfriend.

A royal Olmec cemetery is discovered deep in the Mexican jungle, containing the earliest writing in all the Americas. Dr. Pimms is elated to join the team investigating these Aztec ancestors. Triumph is short-lived, however, as Elizabeth's position on the team is threatened by a volatile excavation director, contradictory evidence, and hostile colleagues. Amidst seventeen concealed skeletons, an evolving mental library, and Welsh soup, can Dr. Pimms determine cause of death for a 3,000-year-old athlete before being fired?

With the archaeological intrigue of Elizabeth Peters, forensic insight of Kathy Reichs, and comfort of a cosy mystery, Olmec Obituary is the first novel in a fascinating new series: Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth. Really cold cases.

Napoleon's last island by Tom Keneally
When Tom Keneally discovered by chance at the National Gallery of Victoria that Betsy Balcombe, a young girl living on St Helena while the Emperor Napoleon was exiled there, had become the Emperor's ‘intimate friend and annoyer', and had then emigrated with her family to Australia, he was impelled to begin another extraordinary novel, exploring the intersection between the ordinary people of the world and those we deem exceptional.

Betsy Balcombe moved as a child with her family to St Helena, ‘that high mid-Atlantic rock of exile'. Ten years later her family befriended, served and were ruined by their relationship with Napoleon. To redeem their fortunes William Balcombe, Betsy's father, betrayed the Emperor and accepted a job as the colonial treasurer of New South Wales, taking his family with him. After enduring a profound tragedy on the voyage out, and never quite recovering from the results of his association with Napoleon, William's life deteriorated; however, his family struggled and survived in Australia.

The magic strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
In his most stunning novel yet, the voice of Music narrates the tale of its most beloved disciple, young Frankie Presto, a war orphan raised by a blind music teacher in a small Spanish town. At nine years old, Frankie is sent to America in the bottom of a boat. His only possession is an old guitar and six precious strings.
But Frankie’s talent is touched by the gods, and his amazing journey weaves him through the musical landscape of the 20th century, from classical to jazz to rock and roll, with his stunning talent affecting numerous stars along the way, including Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Carole King, Wynton Marsalis and even KISS.
Frankie becomes a pop star himself. He makes records. He is adored. But his gift is also his burden, as he realizes, through his music, he can actually affect people’s futures—with one string turning blue whenever a life is altered.
At the height of his popularity, Frankie Presto vanishes. His legend grows. Only decades later, does he reappear—just before his spectacular death—to change one last life.

That empty feeling by Peter Corris
Legendary PI Cliff Hardy has reached an age when the obituaries have become part of his reading, and one triggers his memory of a case in the late 1980s. Back then Sydney was awash with colourful characters, and Cliff is reminded of a case involving 'Ten-Pound Pom' Barry Bartlett and racing identity and investor Sir Keith Mountjoy.

Bartlett, a former rugby league player and boxing manager, then a prosperous property developer, had hired Hardy to check on the bona fides of young Ronny Saunders, newly arrived from England, and claiming to be Bartlett's son from an early failed marriage. The job brought Hardy into contact with Richard Keppler, head of the no-rules Botany Security Systems, Bronwen Marr, an undercover AFP operative, and sworn adversary Des O'Malley.

At a time when corporate capitalism was running riot, an embattled Hardy searched for leads - was Ronny Saunders a pawn in a game involving big oil and fraud on an international scale? Two murders raise the stakes and with the sinister figure of Lady Betty Lee Mountjoy pulling the strings, it was odds against a happy outcome.
Cherry Season by Trish Morey
Dan Faraday is too busy for love. With the long hours running the family orchard, he doesn't have time to go on dates, and if he did, he would be looking for someone who fits into his ten-year plan. Someone traditional, reliable and dependable - someone just like him.
Someone the total opposite of beautiful drifter Lucy Marino. A free spirit who chases the moment, she's in town for the fruit-picking season. The only certain thing in her life is constant change and while she's tempted to see how cute Dan might be if only he smiled, she's not the type of girl to wait around.
But as the cherry trees blossom, Lucy and Dan are increasingly drawn to one another. In spite of their differences, each begins to wonder if maybe they have a future after all.
With the weight of Dan's family legacy on his shoulders and Lucy afraid of losing the only life she's ever known, can Dan give Lucy a reason to put down roots before the seasons change?

Runaway by Peter May
FIVE DREAMS OF FAME

Glasgow, 1965. Jack Mackay dares not imagine a life of predictability and routine. The headstrong seventeen-year-old has one thing on his mind - London - and successfully convinces his four friends, and fellow band mates, to join him in abandoning their homes to pursue a goal of musical stardom.

FIVE DECADES OF FEAR

Glasgow, 2015. Jack Mackay dares not look back on a life of failure and mediocrity. The heavy-hearted sixty-seven-year old is still haunted by the cruel fate that befell him and his friends some fifty years before, and how he did and did not act when it mattered most - a memory he has run from all his adult life.

London, 2015. A man lies dead in a bedsit. His killer looks on, remorseless. What started with five teenagers five decades before will now be finished.

My grandmother sends her regards and apologies by Fredrik Backman
Everyone remembers the smell of their grandmother's house.
Everyone remembers the stories their grandmother told them.
But does everyone remember their grandmother flirting with policemen? Driving illegally?
Breaking into a zoo in the middle of the night? Firing a paintball gun from a balcony in her dressing gown?
Seven-year-old Elsa does.
Some might call Elsa's granny 'eccentric', or even 'crazy'. Elsa calls her a superhero. And granny's stories, of knights and princesses and dragons and castles, are her superpower. Because, as Elsa is starting to learn, heroes and villains don't always exist in imaginary kingdoms; they could live just down the hallway.
As Christmas draws near, even the best superhero grandmothers may have one or two things they'd like to apologise for. And, in the process, Elsa can have some breath-taking adventures of her own . .

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