Malaysian cuisine, property and mystery: Ten new books to check out in February

From the insanity of the mundane to tales of the property market.

From the insanity of the mundane to tales of the property market. Photo: TND

This month’s new releases paint portraits of quirky and tragic everyday Australians, introduce alternate universes and explore fairytale lands.

Here are 10 books to check out February.

Ho Jiak: A Taste of Malaysia

Junda Khoo

(Hardie Grant Books/$55.00)

Junda Khoo, owner of successful Sydney restaurant Ho Jiak Town Hall, presents more than 100 staple dishes that showcase everything from from street food classics to true homestyle cooking.

Starting with budget-friendly meals to cook in 15 minutes, you’ll then be shown how to make all the must-know hawker-style dishes like Nasi lemak before moving on to nourishing homecooked meals like crimson bowls of curry laksa.

Whether you’re a well-travelled food connoisseur or simply wanting to expand your recipe repertoire with authentic cooking, Ho Jiak will help you celebrate what makes Malaysian food so special.

Release date: January 30

Property: The Myth That Built The World

Rowan Moore


Property carries a great promise: that it will make you rich and set you free.

But it is also a weapon, an agent of displacement and exploitation, the currency of kleptocrats and oligarchs. In Britain, it has led to a new class division between those who own and those who don’t.

From award-winning, UK-based architecture critic Rowan Moore, Property is an analysis of our concept of property ownership, from 16th-century enclosures to the present day.

It tells powerful stories – of life in the developer-led boomtown of Gurgaon in India, of the struggles to form Black communities in Missouri and Georgia, of a giant experiment in co-operative living in the Bronx, of the impacts of Margaret Thatcher’s “property-owning democracy.”

Above all, Property asks how we have come to view our homes as investments, and offers hope for how things could be better.

Release date: February 6

Why Am I Like This?

Jen Martin, illustrated by Holly Jolley

(Hardie Grant Books/$27.99)

Why can’t I stop taking photos? Why do I always feel like I’m missing out? Why can’t I remember why I walked into this room?

Jen Martin, founder of the University of Melbourne’s science communication teaching program, delves into the science behind our strangest thoughts and habits, from why smells make us homesick to why we stick our tongues out when we’re concentrating.

Explaining the quirks and oddities of our daily lives in a comprehensive yet accessible way, this book is the perfect gift for anyone who has ever stopped to wonder ‘Why?’.

Release date: January 31

Servo: Tales from the Graveyard Shift

David Goodwin

(Hachette Australia/$34.99)

Most of us have done our time in the retail trenches, but service stations are undoubtedly the frontline, as Melburnian David Goodwin found out when he started working the weekend graveyard shift at his local servo.

From his very first night shift, David absorbed a consistent level of mind-bending lunacy, encountering everything from giant shoplifting bees and balaclava-clad goons hurling cordial-filled water bombs from the sunroof of their BMW, to anarcho-goths high on MDMA releasing large rats into the store from their matching Harry Potter backpacks.

Over the years, David grew to love his mad servo, handing out free pies and chocolate bars on the sly as he grew a backbone and became street-smart. Amidst the unrelenting chaos, he eventually made it out of the servo circus – and lived to tell the tale.

Servo is an odyssey of drive-offs, spiked slurpees, stale sausage rolls and sleep-deprived madness.

Release date: February 28

Outback Court Reporter

Jamelle Wells

(ABC Books/$34.99)

From the case of the stolen cat flap, to missing lollipops and exploding chocolate milk in a country supermarket, to a custody dispute over a camel – Jamelle Wells has seen the lighter and quirky side of outback courts.

But she’s also witnessed the harsh, dark, and petty side of outback life – including the high rates of Indigenous incarceration, along with alcohol-related and domestic violence.

After spending almost twenty years in city courtrooms reporting for the ABC, Wells takes readers into our country courtrooms and introduces the the solicitors, prosecutors, magistrates, witnesses and the accused in cases that shock, captivate and divide communities.

Outback Court Reporter is a reminder of the need for reform as country magistrates struggle with massive caseloads and limited resources, the fall-out of failing regional health system and limited bail and sentencing options and disadvantaged communities.

Release date: January 31

A Sign of Her Own

Sarah Marsh

(Tinder Press/$34.99)

Ellen Lark is on the verge of marriage when she and her fiancé receive an unexpected visit from Alexander Graham Bell.

Ellen knows immediately what Bell really wants from her.

Ellen is deaf, and for a time was Bell’s student in a technique called Visible Speech. As he instructed her in speaking, Bell also confided in her about his dream of producing a device which would transmit the human voice along a wire: the telephone.

Now, on the cusp of wealth and renown, Bell wants Ellen to speak up in support of his claim to the patent to the telephone, which is being challenged by rivals.

But Ellen has a different story to tell: That of how Bell betrayed her and other deaf pupils in pursuit of personal gain, and how he cut Ellen off from a community in which she had truly felt at home.

Release date: February 13

Interesting Facts About Space

Emily Austin


Enid is many things: Lesbian, serial dater, deaf in one ear, space obsessive, true crime fanatic.

When she’s not listening to grizzly murder podcasts, she’s managing her crippling phobia of bald people and trying hard not to think about her mortifying teenage years – which is hard, when she’s lost the password to her old YouTube account and the (many) vlogs that her teen self once uploaded.

As Enid fumbles her way through her first serious relationship and navigates a new family life with her estranged half-sisters, she starts to worry that someone is following her. As her paranoia spirals out of control, Enid must contend with her mounting suspicion that something is seriously wrong with her.

Interesting Facts About Space explores the strange ways we try to connect with others, and the power if sharing our secret selves with the people we love.

Release date: January 30

Red Side Story

Jasper Fforde

(Hodder & Stoughton/$32.99)

Thirteen years after releasing Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde invites readers back into a civilisation that was rebuilt after an unspoken ‘Something that Happened’ five hundred years before.

Society is now colour-based, the strict levels of hierarchy dictated by the colours you can see, and the economy, health service and citizen’s aspirations all dominated by visual colour, run by the shadowy National Colour in far-off Emerald City.

Out on the fringes of Red Sector West, Eddie Russett and Jane Grey have discovered that all is neither fair nor truthful within their cosy environment, and currently face trumped up charges that will see them die of the fatally soporific tones within the Green Room.

Jane and Edward must find out the truth of their world, but as they unpeel the lies that cloak their existence they come to the worrying conclusion that they may not be alone: That there might be a Somewhere Else beyond the sea, with Someone Else living there and observing them all, purposefully unseen.

Release date: February 13

The Good Dog

Simon Rowell

(Text Publishing/ $34.99)

After gunshots echo through the summer night on Mount Macedon, Detective Sergeant Zoe Mayer and her loyal service dog Harry race to the summit at first light.

What they find looks like a grisly murder-suicide: An alleged fraudster named Piers Johnson and his lawyer Antony Peterson, both dead from bullet wounds, a gun lying nearby.

Something about the scene doesn’t stack up. There are plenty of suspects, but no one seems to be telling the truth. Zoe’s instincts are ignited, as the pressure to find and charge the culprit becomes intense. And that’s when Peterson’s teenage daughter Sarah is snatched off the street.

This Australian police procedural examines a murderous conspiracy of greed, deceit and violence.

Release date: January 30

The Forest Grimm

Kathryn Purdie

(Magpie Books/$29.99)

Once upon a time, villagers would whisper their desires to The Book of Fortunes, and its pages would reveal how to obtain them. All was well until someone used the book for evil.

After that, the branches of the Forest Grimm snatched the book away and the village withered. The villagers tried to make amends with the forest, but every time someone crossed its border, they never returned.

Despite the warning from her fortune-teller grandmother, Clara embarks on the journey into the deadly forest to procure the Book of Fortunes in order to reverse the curse and save her mother and village.

Clara’s friend Axel puts aside his longing for her to join the journey but the forest – alive with dark, deadly twists on some of our most well-known fairy tales – has a mind of its own.

Release date: January 31

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.