Books in the news 21-22 February

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Fiction
The life of elves/ Muriel Barberry
Do two young girls have the power to change the world? Maria, raised by powerful older women, lives in a remote village in Burgundy, where she discovers her gift of clairvoyance, of healing and of communicating with nature. Hundreds of miles away in Italy, Clara discovers her musical genius and is sent from the countryside to Rome to nurture her extraordinary abilities.

Who are the mysterious elves? Will they succeed in training the girls for their higher purpose in the face of an impending war? Barbery's The Life of Elves is the story of two children whose amazing talents will bring them into contact with magical worlds and malevolent forces. If, against all odds, they can be brought together, their meeting may shape the course of history.

A murder without motive : the killing of Rebecca Ryle / Martin McKenzie-Murray
In 2004, the body of a young Perth woman was found on the grounds of a primary school. Her name was Rebecca Ryle. The killing would mystify investigators, lawyers, and psychologists - and profoundly rearrange the life of the victim's family.

It would also involve the author's family, because his brother knew the man charged with the murder. For years, the two had circled each other suspiciously, in a world of violence, drugs, and rotten aspirations.

A Murder Without Motive is a police procedural, a meditation on suffering, and an exploration of how the different parts of the justice system make sense of the senseless. It is also a unique memoir: a mapping of the suburbs that the author grew up in, and a revelation of the dangerous underbelly of adolescent ennui.

Motel : a novella of love, desire and marriage / Craig McGregor
In these stories award-winning author Craig McGregor writes brilliantly about the nature of contemporary relationships and their contradictions: between desire and constancy, love and sexuality, family and solitude. In some, set on the North Coast, we become dramatically aware of the distance between our lives as modern sexual and intellectual travellers and the aboriginal landscape … and of the politics which infuses both. In the shifting, sometimes breathless, intensity of his writing Craig McGregor evokes a vivid sense of what it is like to experience life as a contemporary Australian—as well as a marvellous and exhilarating sense of celebration.


Non fiction
Merchants in the temple : inside Pope Francis's secret battle against corruption in the Vatican / Gianluigi Nuzzi ; translated from the Italian by Michael F. Moore
A veritable war is waging in the Church: on one side, there is Pope Francis’s strong message for one church of the poor and all; on the other, there is the old Curia with its endless enemies, and the old and new lobbies struggling to preserve their not-so-Christian privileges.
The old guard do not back down, they are ready to use all means necessary to stay in control and continue the immoral way they conduct their business. They resist reforms sought by Pope Francis and seek to delegitimize their opponents, to isolate those who want to eliminate corruption. It’s a war that will determine the future of the church. And if he loses the battle against secular interests and blackmail, Pope Francis could resign, much like his predecessor.
Based on confidential information—including top secret documents from inside the Vatican, and actual transcripts of Pope Francis’s admonishments to the papal court about the lack of financial oversight and responsibility—Merchants in the Temple illustrates all the undercover work conducted by the Pope since his election and shows the reader who his real enemies are. It reveals the instruments Francis is using to reform the Vatican and rid it, once and for all, of the overwhelming corruption traditionally encrusted in the Roman Catholic Church.

Taking Flight: Lores Bonney's Extraordinary Flying Career / Alexander, Kristen
From her first taste of the air when she joined Bert Hinkler in the cockpit for a joy ride in 1928, Lores Bonney was hooked. With her aviation licence and the support of her husband, she took to Australian and international skies and braved the challenge of long-distance flying. Taking Flight draws from the National Library of Australia’s rich archives and manuscript collection to present the tale of Lores Bonney, the first woman to circumnavigate the Australian continent by air, the first woman acknowledged to fly from Australia to England, and the first solo pilot to fly from Australia to Cape Town, South Africa. Aviation writer Kristen Alexander intimately illuminates the woman behind the audacious pilot, exploring her highs and lows and struggle to gain and maintain her place as one of Australia’s great aviation pioneers.

Settling the office : the Australian prime ministership from federation to reconstruction / Paul
Strangio, Paul 't Hart & James Walter
The prime ministership is indisputably the most closely observed and keenly contested office in Australia. How did it grow to become the pivot of national political power? Settling the Office chronicles the development of the prime ministership from its rudimentary early days following Federation through to the powerful, institutionalised prime-ministerial leadership of the postwar era.

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