Birnam Wood is on the move… Discover our February featured books!

Paperback Fiction Pick:

Birnam Wood

Eleanor Catton

Birnam Wood is on the move…

Five years ago, Mira Bunting founded a guerrilla gardening group: Birnam Wood. An undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic gathering of friends, this activist collective plants crops wherever no one will notice, on the sides of roads, in forgotten parks, and neglected backyards.

For years, the group has struggled to break even. Then Mira stumbles on an answer, a way to finally set the group up for the long term: a landslide has closed the Korowai Pass, cutting off the town of Thorndike. Natural disaster has created an opportunity, a sizable farm seemingly abandoned.

But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. Robert Lemoine, the enigmatic American billionaire, has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker – or so he tells Mira when he catches her on the property. Intrigued by Mira, Birnam Wood, and their entrepreneurial spirit, he suggests they work this land.

But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?

February’s review is courtesy of one of our booksellers, a big Eleanor Catton fan who was greatly anticipating this book!

Birnam Wood follows a group of guerilla gardeners who seek out wasted space on public or private land, under bridges or verges on a roadside, and grow vegetables for the community. An unexpected meeting with a billionaire business tycoon, whilst scouting more land, creates an interesting tension between the characters.

Written with pace, this novel has been described as an eco-thriller pitching hippies versus billionaires. It is very much of our time and comments on climate change, environmentalists and big business. There is a great cast of characters in this novel that kept me gripped from start to finish, right to the rather shocking end!

Hardback Fiction Pick:

Hard By A Great Forest

Leo Vardiashvilli

Tbilisi’s littered with memories that await me like landmines. The dearly departed voices I silenced long ago have come back without my permission. The situation calls for someone with a plan. I didn’t even bring toothpaste.

Saba’s father is missing, and the trail leads back to Tbilisi, Georgia. It’s been two decades since Irakli fled his war-torn homeland with two young sons, now grown men. Two decades since he saw their mother, who stayed so they could escape. At long last, Tbilisi has lured him home. But when Irakli’s phone calls stop, a mystery begins…

Arriving in the city as escaped zoo animals prowl the streets, Saba picks up the trail of clues: strange graffiti, bewildering messages transmitted through the radio, pages from his father’s unpublished manuscript scattered like breadcrumbs. As the voices of those left behind pull at the edges of his world, Saba will discover that all roads lead back to the past, and to secrets swallowed up by the great forests of Georgia.

In a winding pursuit through the magic and mystery of returning to a lost homeland, Hard by a Great Forest is a rare, searching tale of home, memory and sacrifice – of one family’s mission to rescue one another, and put the past to rest.

Hard by a Great Forest tells the story of a young man named Saba, from Georgia but now living in London. It follows his return to his homeland in search of his father and brother, both apparently missing.

The title of the novel comes from the first line of Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel and the breadcrumbs certainly run through this story – conversations with dead friends and relatives, pages from an unfinished story, wild animals roam the streets of Tbilisi, oppressive landscapes and dark forests, strange clues written as graffiti. This is a trail Saba follows to try and navigate his way to the truth. It is a mystery creatively imagined and in its essence about lives and families destroyed by war.

Paperback Non-fiction Pick:

We Are Electric

Sally Adee

Discover the next frontier of scientific understanding: your body’s electrome.

Every cell in your body – bones, skin, nerves, muscle – has a voltage, like a tiny battery. This bioelectricity is why your brain can send signals to your body, why it develops and how it heals itself.

In We Are Electric, award-winning science writer Sally Adee explores the colourful history of bioelectricity and journeys into the remarkable future of the discipline, through today’s laboratories where real-world medical applications are being developed.

A blend of history and science, this is one of those scientific books that is accessible enough for a beginner, but with plenty for a pro to get their teeth into.

Presenting scientific fact alongside historical context is a clever way of suffusing the more complex information into something easier to digest.

Highly praised and intriguing, this one sounds like a great rabbit hole to dive into.

Hardback Non-fiction Pick:

Our Moon: A Human History

Rebecca Boyle

Every living being throughout history, across time and geography, has gazed up at the same moon. From the first prehistoric life that crawled onto land guided by the power of the tides, to the division of time into months and seasons for the first humans, the moon has driven the expansion and development of our world. It has inspired scientific discovery and culture from the ancient astronomers to the scientific revolution of Copernicus and Galileo, from the 1969 Apollo landings to writers and artists, and stirred an inexhaustible desire to know where we come from and how we got here.

And as astronauts around the world prepare to return to the Moon – opening up new frontiers of discovery, profit and politics – Our Moon tells the dazzling story of how the Moon has shaped life as we know it, fuelled dramatic change across the globe and could be the key to humanity’s future.

Our Moon explains the significance and importance of the moon to the development of our planet, our environment, our ecology and our society.

Diving deep into both the scientific history and lunar exploration as well as some of the religious significance and folklore surrounding the moon, this is a wonderful illustration of how important it is to us as a species.

Rebecca Boyle’s writing is crisp and enjoyable to read, and Our Moon provides a refreshing perspective and interesting history of something that otherwise feels like a constant and familiar presence.

Young Adult Fiction Pick:

Then There Was One

Wendy Cross

Let the games begin.

Every inhabitant in the Quadrant knows about The Pinnacle, a reality TV contest set on a remote planet with a five million cash prize. For three desperate entrants, winning would mean the world: Rich-girl BEX can finally leave her broken family behind. For politician’s son ZANE, it’s his only opportunity to save his mother.

And it’s outcast RAYA’S last chance at a better life. But as the competition starts, the contestants are quick to discover that this year’s game has unscripted and DEADLY consequences. And the only thing they’re truly competing for, is SURVIVAL.

An extremely compelling and exciting YA dystopian thriller, Then There Was One brings us to a worrying dystopian world where ten teens are sent to an island for a survival game show.

The stand out feature of this book is how clever the plot is – it keeps you constantly guessing and glued to the page with all of its twists and turns.

An incredible multi-perspective book that feels really well thought out and absorbing, this is the first in a new series and I’m already excited for the next one.

Children’s Fiction Pick:

Tales From Beyond the Rainbow : Ten LGBTQ+ fairy tales proudly reclaimed

Pete Jordi Wood

Ten captivating stories of adventure and resilience celebrating LGBTQ+ characters, published as an illustrated collection of queer classics for the first time. These are the fairy tales that history forgot – or concealed. Tales in which gender is fluid and where queer stories can have a happy ending.

From the humble sailor who finds his handsome prince to the transgender market girl who becomes queen, from Europe to Asia via the African savannah, LGBTQ+ folklore researcher Pete Jordi Wood has combed through generations of history and adapted ten unforgettable stories, each illustrated by an artist who shares heritage with the culture from which the stories were born.

We featured this last year when it came out, and can’t resist featuring it again. Tales From Beyond The Rainbow is a joyous, triumphant celebration of once-forgotten or rewritten folklore.

A collection of stories that have been part of the fairytale canon all along rather than remoulding familiar stories, this is an absolutely brilliant book (for all ages!) and a reminder that the LGBTQ+ community has always been present, their stories simply pushed beneath the surface.