Booktopia Buzz
MARCH 2011 | Edition 30
I've got the works for you this month.

How does one of 50 double-passes to the new Lincoln Lawyer film sound to you? What about winning an iPad in our Dummies promotion? Would that be good? But wait, it's not all giveaways this month. I have the engrossing Left Neglected as my book of the month, a big-read history of J erusalem by the wonderful Simon Sebag Montefiore (perfect to disappear into), a showcase of the best in new Australian fiction and some fabulous debuts from overseas. Closer to home, Peter FitzSimons is coming out with all guns blazing with Batavia and we get behind the Tegan Lane mystery, with Nice Girl.

I've got Mia, Ita and Shannon and you can get on board for next month with Adam (Two Asian Kitchens), Wilbur (Those in Peril) and Jean (Land of Painted Caves).

Happy reading, right across Australia,

Toni Whitmont
+ double movie pass while stocks last THE LINCOLN LAWYER (FILM-TIE IN) by Michael Connelly

How many times do you wish you could read the book before you see the movie. Well we are going to make it really easy for you and I can't think of a better opportunity than the Mickey Haller courtroom drama crime thriller, The Lincoln Lawyer.

From the mind of Michael Connelly, the creator of the complex Harry Bosch, comes a fast paced twist-and-turn high-octane drama  starring Matthew McConaughey and Marisa Tomei which starts screening in Australia on March 31.

We have 50 double passes of the movie to give away for the first 50 pre-orders of the book. Yes, that's right. The book and a double movie pass for the teeny tiny price of $15.95.


Go here to see a trailer and to read about the book.

Click here to The Lincoln Lawyer film tie-in
Retail Price: $19.99
Booktopia Price: $15.95 

Left NeglectedRemember how you couldn't put down Still Alice ? Well, clear your schedule--because you're going to feel the same way about Left Neglected!*

(*Thus spake none other than Jodie Picoult).

How could I not chose Left Neglected as my book of the month after the response I have over the last couple of weeks to it as my Buzz Club choice?

Many of you will already know the author, Lisa Genova. Lisa shot to fame with Still Alice which has subsequently gone to many re-prints and was chosen last year as one of the 50 books for the national Get Reading campaign. It has been garnering fantastic reviews all over the world.

In Left Neglected , Lisa again explores a medical condition and its impact on an individual and all those who love her. Lisa is particularly skillful at building authentic characters and placing them in almost impossible, though entirely plausible situations. Her books are full of sentiment but are not sentimental.

At the heart of this novel is Sarah, a woman with a high powered job, an enormously busy schedule, a  young demanding family and a good marriage which still always seems to come last. One morning, her life changes in an instant - texting at the same time as driving leads to a devastating accident. Sarah is left with a rare debilitating condition that renders the left half of her body completely unresponsive. Author, Lisa Genova

To watch a clip of Lisa explaining this rare condition, known as 'left neglect' go here. She also describes how she researches her novels.

Lisa writes with insight and nuance. She captures the pressures and dilemmas of the mad urban existence that many of us lead, as well as  the very real physical and emotional effects of consistent high stress. When it comes to fictionalising real-life afflictions, there is no one better, probably because she herself has a Ph.D in neuroscience from Harvard and this has informed her writing from the beginning.

My grandmother had Alzheimer's.  As the neuroscientist in the family, I felt it was my responsibility to understand as much as possible about this disease. The research papers and nonfiction books were helpful, but they were also dry and clinical.  And they didn't answer the one question I really wanted to understand-What does it feel like to have Alzheimer's?  I'm not sure why I assumed that writing a novel would be the way to explore and answer this question, but I'm so glad I did!

To read the rest of our exclusive interview with Lisa, go here.

I have no hesitation in recommending Left Neglected as my book of the month pick for March. I have made the book available at a rock-bottom price - $21.95 - rather than $32.99.

Secure your copy now...Book 6THE LAND OF PAINTED CAVES by  Jean Auel

Earth's Children is in the top five series in the world. It has been gathering fans since the publication in the early 1980s of The Clan of the Cave Bear. It has been a long, long wait since the last episode, The Shelters of Stone, which was absolutely lapped up by readers in 2002 and which continues to sell steadily.

Finally, Jean Auel has concluded her masterwork. The final book in this compelling series about life thousands of years ago is almost here.

The Land of Painted Caves will be released world-wide on March 29.

Make no mistake - this is going to be an absolute publishing sensation. I can't tell you how many people have already put their names down for this one.

This is going to be a gorgeous hardback edition, and the first print run will be produced with a jacket embedded with an augmented reality chip. What that means is that you can hold the book in front of any screen with a camera and the feisty Ayla will appear out of no where as a 3D image - magic!

Booktopia has five complete backlist libraries (volumes 1 to 5) to give away to celebrate the launch of The Land of the Painted Caves. Here's what to do.

1. Pre-order your copy now

2. Send your order number here, answering the question "if you were the first person in the world to speak, what would be your first sentence?"

The names of the lucky people will be announced in the blog in the first week of April.

Want more details?

Go here for my take on the series.

Go here for Booktopia's exclusive interview with Jean Auel.

Go here for the booktrailer and a clip of the author talking about the series.

New to Earth's Children or just want to re-live treasured memories?
Get up to speed with Ayla with books 1 to 5. (right column)

Click here to pre-order The Land of Painted Caves
Retail Price: $49.99
Booktopia Price: $32.95 SAVE 34%

Great news! The oh-so-cool, stylish and beautiful Vintage Classics have all been re-priced down to $12.95 (and that is before our fantastic Booktopia discount).

Gorgeous new jackets, lots of interesting introductory material with newly commissioned essays, this has just become the "must have" collection.

You are going to be hearing a lot more about Vintage Classics this year. Meanwhile, March is all about Vintage Modern. How about this for a line up - The Bonfire of the Vanities, Remembering Babylon, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, The Handmaid's Tale, Sophie's Choice, The Old Devils and, and, and.

To re-live great memories, or to catch-up on some absolute essentials that you somehow missed, go here to see our selection of Vintage Classics. To see the whole range, click here
More details.... JERUSALEM: THE BIOGRAPHY by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Jerusalem: The Biography was my constant companion for a fortnight during a recent visit to that most inspiring,  maddening and perplexing of cities and I couldn't have asked for a better book to read.

First things first - this is a brick of a book. Don't be put off. It is meticulously researched and enormously detailed. More importantly, Montefiore could give Bryce Courtney or Ken Follett a run for their money when it comes to historical drama, tales of derring-do, rape and pillage, sweeping saga and brilliant characterisation.

This is the perfect platform for Montefiore, who has already won critical acclaim for his Stalin and Catherine the Great among others. However, his pedigree for this assignment is ideal. Having gone backwards and forwards between the UK and Jerusalem all of his life, he is himself descendant from the famous Rothschild and Montefiore families who played key roles in both European finance and the re-population of Jewry to what was then an outpost of the Ottoman empire in the nineteenth century.

Montefiore's take on Jerusalem is both a physical and spiritual chronology. And what a subject! Could there be any place on earth that has been so fought over, so prized by so many different people's across three millennia? I don't think so.

In many ways, Jerusalem: The Biography is a history of the western world. All the names are there - from the Hebrew Bible, from the Christian Bible, from Islam, from just about every empire that has ever risen and fallen from before the Egyptians to the Crusades, to Napoleon, the Czars, the Ottomans, the competing colonial powers to the present day not to mention the famous and the infamous - Cleopatra to Herod, Sulemein the Magnificent to Rasputin.  But the author's peculiar skill is to  bring it all so alive with the detail of characters and their particular traits - and let me tell you, if you like to trawl through the depths of human behaviour, you only need read this to get your fill of just about everything. That city has witnessed more varieties of violence and depravity that most of us could ever imagine.

To read more about this book, visit my blog here.

Click here to buy Jerusalem: The Biography

Retail Price: $50.00
Booktopia Price: $39.95 SAVE 20%


March is Dummies month! Buy a For Dummies title in March and go into the draw for a share in $20,000 worth of prizes and your choice of twenty For Dummies titles.

Every single day in March you'll have a chance to win $500.

Once a week in March you'll have the chance to win an Apple iPad!

Its all thanks to For Dummies which is celebrating its 20th birthday! It has the birthday - you get the presents!

All you need to enter is to follow the instructions on the Dummies bookmark you receive with your book and to make sure you are able to supply proof of purchase if your name comes up in the draws  (note: these Dummies draws are managed by John Wiley, distributor of For Dummies books and you will be notified by John Wiley directly).
Here at Booktopia, we also have another exclusive additional reason to make March your Dummies month. Buy a For Dummies title from Booktopia us in March and you might be the lucky one to receive 20 For Dummies of your choice . You don't need to do a thing except to hope for our call. The lucky customer will hear from us by email and his/her name will be announced in the by April 15.

More details... A BEAUTIFUL LIE by Irfan Master

A Beautiful Lie is a story of a boy and the love he has for his father, at a time in India when everything was changing. It's a story about the lengths a courageous boy is willing to go to in order to make sure his father dies happy regardless of the consequences for himself.

These are the words of author Irfan Master in his interview with Booktopia which can be found HERE. India was changing, the British had gone, independence had come and the subcontinent was torn in two with the birth of Pakistan and India.

I wanted to write this story because it was a terrible time and those that lived through the worst of it understandably are reluctant to revisit it. But, it did happen, and it affected millions of ordinary people, the effects of which are still felt today.

With a parent from both countries, Master draws on his own experiences to bring this wonderful book together.

I was very curious about what this cultural difference really meant when I was a teenager and found it especially odd because they [Pakistan and India] used to be one country. I researched the Indian partition and discovered it was a brutal and painful time in their shared history. It was the sundering of an ancient culture with a line drawn through a map which divided it into two.

As I got older, I began to think about writing something about partition specifically aimed at educating younger people. I started asking younger people what they knew about partition and discovered that some hadn't even heard of it. Those that did had a very vague knowledge base. I also discovered that partition wasn't talked about among the adult community. So when writing A Beautiful Lie I wanted to address the Indian partition period in a story that would really connect with people and that's what I set out to do, and in a slightly ambitious way I tried to tie it all together.
(From an interview with the National Literacy Trust)

For decades, THE book on partition has been Salman Rushdie's superb Midnight's Children. As good as it is however, it is definitely not a book most teens would get into. A Beautiful Lie is. Great stuff indeed - all with the added bonus of no vampires, werewolves, angels, changelings, zombies, undead, werecats, faeries etc.

Click here to buy A Beautiful Lie
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Booktopia Price: $12.95  SAVE 19%
More details here...DON WINSLOW

Satori quite simply has it all. Our hero Nicholai Hel is a tortured prisoner, international spy, deadly assassin, gun runner and also quite the lover. His martial art is a form of Karate called Kata which gives him the ability to kill anyone within striking range with his bare hands. Nicholai's real skill lies in his problem solving abilities which he has sharpened over a Go board since early life.  Winslow's weaving of Chess and Go strategies into the storyline completely fascinating. 
Like Coen Brothers with True Grit, Winslow's modernising of Trevanian's  Shibumi of the 1970s still manages to maintain the essence but with a new contemporary feel.  Satori will be the book that breaks Winslow out of his devoted cult following and allows the mainstream to get a taste of his writing talent.
And if that isn't enough for you, look at the trailer here.

More information on our blog here.

Click here to buy Satori
Australian author
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  More details here...DEBORAH HARKNESS

One of the hottest titles at the Frankfurt bookfair in 2009, O Magazine has this as one of 15 books to watch out for this year. If you look at the Facebook page, you can certainly see why.

Love, romance, friendship, daemons, epic, science, mystery, fate, allegiances, envy...... unravel the secret yourself. 

Read the extract here.

Read all about the Bodleian Library, the manuscript and this ripper of a book on our blog here.

Click here to buy
A Discovery of Witches
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  More details here...JEFFREY ARCHER

After a spate of stand alones and short story collections, Archer is back to his winning best with a twentieth century inter-generational saga that will delight his fans and garner many more.

Click here to buy
Only Time Will Tell

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More details here...DANIELLE STEEL

With sales of 600 million under her belt, you would have to say that Danielle Steel knows how to write what people want to read. One year, one New York brownstone, 44 Charles Street is just what we have been waiting for.

Click here to buy
44 Charles Street
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  More details here...JAMES PATTERSON

He was the perfect agent. Now he has become their target.
Patterson's stand alone thrillers are huge. Toys is perfect entertainment for fans of blockbusters, Teminator and James Bond.

Click here to buy Toys
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  More details...RAYMOND E FEIST

Feist has been writing stories about Triagia for over 26 years and it remains one of the best-loved worlds in the history of the fantasy genre.
This marks the first book of the last ever Midkemian trilogy by worldwide bestselling fantasy author, Raymond E. Feist. It is an historic moment for fans and the book has been released here a month in advance of the overseas edition.

Click here to buy
A Kingdom Besieged
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More details here...SIRI HUSTVEDT

A theatrically manic poet turns heartbreak into an intellectual endeavour in Hustvedt's intellectually spry latest (her last novel was The Sorrows of an American). Fresh out of the hospital at age 55 following a breakdown brought on by her husband's departure for a young colleague referred to as "The Pause," award-winning poet and Columbia professor Mia Fredricksen flees Brooklyn to spend the summer in her Minnesota hometown. There she is in the company of her mother and four other feisty old ladies, the young mother next door, and the seven hormone-addled pubescent girls enrolled in her poetry class at the local arts guild. Mia sorts out her agony as only a scorned woman with a Ph.D. in comparative literature can--by pouring it through a sieve of poets, philosophers, and critical theorists. At times these references eclipse the presence of the narrator herself, but even this absence becomes the basis for philosophical rumination, as Mia corresponds online with the anonymous--and at times abusive--Mr. Nobody. Though initially trapped in a claustrophobic cerebral solitude, Mia opens up, and, in so doing, lets in some much needed air to a constricted narrative, so that instead of being another novel of a woman on the brink, this becomes an adroit take on love, men and women, and girls and women.
(Review from Publishers Weekly)

Click here to buy
The Summer Without Men
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  More details here....JASPER FFORDE

Of course, if your taste is for sci fi + fantasy + literature + romance + horror + mystery  + comedy (and whose isn't?), Jasper Fforde is your man. He has a growing cult following and the latest instalment of the Thursday Next series is the reason why. Think Douglas Adams and then some.
In his own words, this is what it is all about...
It is a time of unrest in the Bookworld. Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the Peace Talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the Realworld or is this something more sinister?
But all is not yet lost. Living at the quiet end of Speculative fiction is the written Thursday Next, who is attempting to keep her own small four-book series both respectful to her illustrious namesake and far from the grim spectre of being remaindered.
Despite her desire to stay away from the spotlight, written Thursday is asked by Jurisfiction to investigate a novel that has suffered an in-read breakup and deposited a narrative debris-field halfway across the Bookworld. It's not quite so straightforward: Someone has ground the ISBN numbers from the wreckage, and all of a sudden the mysterious Men in Plaid want her dead.
As the hunt for answers takes her from the Council of Genres to Fan-Fiction and from Comedy to Vanity publishing, written Thursday realises that Real Thursday had been investigating a plot fiendish enough to be killed for.

Click here to buy
One of Our Thursdays is Missing
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  More details here...JOANNA TROLLOPE

A captivating new novel from the master of domestic drama.
As the youngest of their three sons marries and Anthony and Rachel Brinkley welcome their third daughter-in-law to the family, no one quite realizes the profound shift about to take place. For their different reasons, the two previous daughters-in-law hadn't been able to resist Rachel's maternal clout and Anthony's gentle charms, and had settled into Brinkley family life without rocking the boat. But Charlotte - very young, very beautiful and semi-spoiled - has no intention of sharing power with her mother-in-law, and sets out to vanquish the matriarch. Soon Rachel's sons begin to treasonously think of their own houses as home, and of their mother's house as simply the place where their parents live - a necessary shift of loyalties that sets off fireworks in their mother's brain, breaks their father's heart and causes unexpected waves in their own marriages.
A lovely, candid and hugely perceptive exploration of what happens inside every family when one generation, with its ways and habits, has to make way for the next - and everyone needs to learn what family love means all over again.

Click here to buy Daughters in Law
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More details here...T.C. BOYLE

I love TC Boyle and having just read this Washington Post review (excerpts below) I can't wait to read When the Killing's Done. And that was before I saw the cracker of a trailer.

Given the dismal state of our water, air and soil, how could anyone write a challenging novel about the environment? What's left to say?
Enter T. Coraghessan Boyle's terrifically exciting and unapologetically relevant When the Killing's Done. Boyle  demonstrates that it's possible to write an environmental novel that provokes discussion instead of merely thumping away on conventional wisdom.
His story's white-water prose propels us through 60 years of tumultuous history involving the Northern Channel Islands off the coast of Ventura, California. Long a master at scenes of quick-moving crisis, Boyle punctuates this plot with the best catastrophes of his career. After reading his series of disasters at sea, no one will ever sail with him again. Gripping as all that stormy drama is, though, it also emphasizes the larger theme - the chaotic randomness of the natural world, a world that human beings control but must ultimately submit to.
Boyle darts briskly through  history, filling in curious political and biological details about an archipelago that's home to a menagerie of unique fauna and flora - a spotted skunk, a dwarf fox, a deer mouse - all endangered by a few voracious, invasive species (mostly rats and pigs). But he keeps the story rooted in the exciting lives of his characters. He never lectures or hectors, and he never reduces the drama to a vaudevillian conflict between white-hatted environmentalists and mustache-twirling industrialists - the kind of bumper-sticker poses that can make environmental fiction sound so schoolmarmish.
Boyle doesn't quite recapture the emotional pathos of his most famous polemic novel, The Tortilla Curtain, but When the Killing's Done presents a smart sharp vision of our environmental challenges. By corralling all these pigs, rats, dwarf foxes, golden eagles and human beings into one stormy tale, he's created a raucous exploration of the clumsy role that even the best-intentioned people play in these fragile environs.

Click here to buy
When the Killing's Done
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  More details here...ALEXANDER MCCALL SMITH

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series has been read and loved by nearly 150,000 Australians so if you haven't discovered Botswana's Mma Precious Ramotswe and her singular way of tackling crime, now is the perfect time to start.
Sandy McCall Smith is the master of gentle humour and wonderful storytelling and best of all, with this twelfth stand alone episode, there is a chance for a lucky reader to win a trip to Africa.
In this story, the day of Mma Makutsi's long-awaited wedding to her beloved Phuti Radiphuti, proprietor of the Double Comfort Furniture Shop, is finally approaching. But that scheming minx Violet Sephotho has developed political ambitions which could jeopardise not only the wedding preparations but the fate of the entire nation of Botswana, and Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi must take action to quash them.

Click here to buy
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
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  More details here...MICHAEL DAVID LUKAS

I have had an on again off again literary love affair with Turkey for many years now. It started with the wonderful Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières, was reborn with the elegaic The Bastard of Istanbul and has just been rekindled with the magical adventure  of The Oracle of Stamboul which is published this month after a major bidding war.
Set in the heart of the exotic Ottoman Empire during the first years of its chaotic decline, Michael David Lukas'  enchanting debut novel follows a gifted young girl who dares to charm a sultan-and change the course of history, for Byzantium and the world. This is a  literary adventure, perfect for readers entranced by the mixture of historical fiction and magical realism although I do think that some of the comparisons to   Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude are just a tad hyperbolic. Having said that, it certainly is a  gloriously escapist story of a beautiful, crumbling empire and an extraordinary girl.

For more on this book, visit the Booktopia blog.

Click here to buy
The Oracle of Stamboul
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Part of the fun of the Buzz is to track down some of the most interesting books, the gems that are new, different, for which there simply isn't a back-up publicity effort. And have I got some corkers for you this month - mainly debuts (at least in English), definitely word of mouth, insider's picks. If you want to go beyond the big names, if you want to expand your reading horizons, these are for you.

More details here...LOVE VIRTUALLY by Daniel Glattauer

A brief encounter for the digital generation, or Annie Hall for the Blackberry age, Love Virtually has been a massive success in Germany and is now, thankfully, translated into English. This epistolary novel is told in two brilliantly authentic and distinct voices, and tracks the relationship between a man (Leo) and a woman (Emmi) who meet by chance on the internet when her email to cancel a magazine subscription is mistakenly delivered into his inbox. The relationship proceeds entirely by emails.

I have to say that this book is the reason I have been late for every appointment in the last few days. It is hard to come up with anything new on the literary love front but Glattauer, with his husband and wife team of translators, does it in spades. It is witty (yes, laugh-out-loud moments), snappy, insightful and clever. It is as much for men as it is for women, although I bet interpretations and discussions would cleave along gender lines. The perfect book for these times of short little attention spans.

Click here to buy Love Virtually
Retail Price: $29.99
Booktopia Price: $23.95  SAVE 20%

More details here...TERROR OF LIVING by Urban Waite

This is an elegant, sparse, existential thriller absolutely everyone, from Stephen King to Kirkus, is heaping praises on.

This from The Telegraph.
Hold on: illicit comings and goings across the United States border, a drug deal gone wrong, a husband and wife in trouble way above their heads and an implacable assassin on their trail? At first glance it looks like debut novelist Urban Waite has taken the Route One approach to literary fame by simply wrapping Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men in a new dust jacket. But in spite of the similarities - which Waite acknowledges - the young writer (he completed this when he was 28) has come up with a thriller that is tremendously assured: tightly plotted, vividly written and revealing a sinewy way with words that allows strong character development without the book turning into a doorstop.

For the past 20 years Phil Hunt has kept his ranch and livery business afloat by delivering the odd batch of drugs cross country though the Cascades to Canada. Hunt is the quintessential good man gone wrong - a loving husband, caring and loyal - who in his youth killed a man in a botched robbery. The shame he still feels has shackled him to a sense of worthlessness that keeps him from going straight.

Shame, too, is the lot of Bobby Drake, the deputy marshal of a nearby town, whose lawman father was arrested 10 years previously for smuggling drugs. Chafing at the need for emotional intimacy in his new marriage, Drake takes to the hills where he disturbs Hunt's latest run. The horseman escapes, but the consequences are horrifying.

From that momentary meeting Waite expertly keeps three streams of the story on track: first, the mayhem that follows the bust and how a gradually exposed hierarchy of villainy moves both to seek redress and to punish; Hunt learns that what he saw as dependability is nothing more than expendability. Second, Waite is acute in depicting the relationship between Hunt and Drake and their respective wives, Nora and Sheri. Finally, there is the relationship between Drake and Hunt which, in the savagery of the chase, sees empathy emerge along with a sackful of could-have-beens.

Always taut, always intelligent, always bloody, this is an outstanding debut thriller.

Click here to buy Terror of Urban Living
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More details here...THE GENDARME by Mark Mustian

Though we try to deny it, the past comes to get us in the end.

It certainly comes for 92-year-old Emmett Conn after he is rushed to the hospital, felled by a tiny brain tumor. Emmett starts having dark and unsettling dreams of refugees marched through a barren landscape and dying off in droves owing to hunger, thirst, dysentery, and the whims of the gendarmes herding them. These aren't dreams but suppressed memories; Emmett is actually Ahmet Khan, a soldier in the Ottoman Army during World War I who was evacuated to London-he was mistaken for a British soldier-and then wed by an American nurse, who brought him stateside. What Ahmet is now recalling is his participation in the Armenian genocide. Yet on that march he scraped together enough humanity to rescue the charismatic Araxie, with whom he fell in love.

First novelist Mustian writes relentlessly, telling his haunting story in brief bursts of luminous yet entirely unsentimental prose and reminding us that, when life gets bloody, we had better watch out for our own humanity.
Library Journal (Starred Review)

Click here to buy The Gendarme
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More details hereTHE FALAFEL KING IS DEAD by Sara Shilo

Having won just about every prize possible in Israel, and with the author being mentored by none other than David Grossman of To the End of the Land  fame, The Felafel King is Dead is a beautifully drawn account of a family collapsing under an unbearable loss. Pivoted on a death, this novel becomes a life-affirming story of love - a cluttered, clumsy family love that colours the characters and wills them into keeping on and moving forward. And it is this driving emotion that ultimately makes Shilo's first novel so readable and so engaging.

Shilo tells the story of a poor Moroccan-Jewish family living in northern Israel close to the Lebanon border. Her subject is original. Masud, the eponymous "falafel king" and head of the Dadon family, dies after being stung by a bee. In the aftermath of this accident, the narrative is related by multiple voices: those of Simona, Masud's wife, of her daughter and three sons.

Shilo's achievement is to evoke an Israel which the outside world knows little about, with a level of poverty and ignorance which typifies the lives of many North African immigrants from the 1960s. The English title is ironic because, in Israel, falafel is street food and the Dadon family at the bottom of society. Politics come into the story in a tangential manner. Shilo's setting is the first Lebanon war when Katyusha rockets are fired from across the border and the racist US Rabbi Kahane comes to give recruiting speeches. Although the outside conflict is ever-present, it is the personal dynamic which dominates. There is a fruitful tension in the observation of these Arabic-speaking Jews, whose culture is tinged with Muslim histories and whose new Israeli identities are a complex construct

Click here to buy The Falafel King is Dead
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More details hereA LIFE APART by Neel Muhkerjee

Abused, impoverished, orphaned as a teenager, Calcutta-born Ritwik has had a wretched childhood, from which England and Englishness offer a kind of escape. At his mother's deathbed, he is clutching a copy of The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear. Quotes from the Pope and Shakespeare swirl around in his head. But the England he first visits, as an impoverished student, is a more treacherous place than he has budgeted for. Nobody is quite what they seem.

There are a lot of subtle cultural ironies in Neel Mukherjee's debut novel, which is what makes the book such a delight. Ritwik lands on his feet, finding lodgings in south London with a batty octogenarian landlady. Her life has been even more blighted by family tragedy than his, and the gauche friendship that develops between them is beautifully caught and is the best thing in the book. But away from his lodgings, he finds himself on shakier ground. He thinks he is on to a good thing when one of his gay clients, Zafar, turns out to be fabulously wealthy but where does his money come from? Suddenly, tragically, the orphan from Calcutta is out of his depth.

A Life Apart is an accomplished debut, a novel of many shades. It blends the poignancy of a coming-of-age story with the rawer excitement of an urban thriller laced with sex and violence. It is only a shame that Mukherjee has gilded the lily, interspersing the bittersweet story of young Ritwik with extracts from a novel that Ritwik is writing - and which are far less engaging than the real thing. Contemporary Indian fiction is makes for rich pickings and this book has cleaned up the literary prizes in India.

Click here to buy A Life Apart
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Novels can have universal themes, but it can be immensely satisfying to hear the authentic Australian voice in a tale. I have assembled below a fine collection of new local books, for people who like to start a journey from home.

More details...FLOCK by Lyn Hughes

From the author:
My latest novel is called Flock and takes as its background the world of wallpaper. It tells the story of four young conservators, curators and historians who come together to restore an historic house in the Blue Mountains and gradually find themselves restored. It's also a love story-well, two love stories, actually, separated by a generation. The novel ranges freely between the French Revolution, Victorian England and the Blue Mountains in the 1960s and 80s, as it explores the joys and difficulties of living a creative life. It's my first novel set in Australia and, in essence, a story of wallpaper and family and the sticky, far from ephemeral nature of both.

To read the rest of Hughes' interview with Booktopia, go here.

Click here to buy Flock
Australian author
Retail Price: $32.99
Booktopia Price: $26.95 SAVE 18%

More details...THIS TOO SHALL PASS by SJ Finn

Motherhood, identity, career, the fallout of the nuclear families splitting - this all makes fertile ground in a quiet powerful novel that explores the shifting nature of life, the way we come undone and the way we do ourselves back up again. Reminiscent of early Helen Garner, in particular the luminescent Monkey Grip, This Too Shall Pass centres around two women, Jen and Monty, who are re-evaluating, well, everything.

Click here to buy This Too Will Pass
Australian author
Retail Price: $27.95
Booktopia Price: $22.99 SAVE 18%

More details here...A CHANGING LAND by Nicole Alexander

Outback sagas, otherwise known as farm lit, are huge right now and fourth generation grazier Alexander is the heir apparent.  In this sequel to the best selling The Bark Cutters, past and present interweave as the tension from the last Gordon family land grab of the 1890s echoes down through the generations to Sarah Gordon, battling her half-brother, her beloved  Anthony, and the law in a rural family drama with all the right elements.

Watch the interview with Alexander here.

Read the Booktopia interview with Alexander here.

Click here to buy A Changing Land
Australian author
Retail Price: $32.99
Booktopia Price: $26.95 SAVE 18%

More details ...GONE by Jennifer Mills

Gone was written when Mills was living in a car near Alice Springs and sprung from both her experience as a social worker and her contact with ex-prisoners and her time hitch-hiking about Australia.

It centres around sad and somewhat menacing Frank, who is hitching home after a long stretch on the inside.

Mills' talent was evident in her first book, The Diamond Anchor, but here it is clear she is a brilliant writer, with poetic prose that takes the reader right into the place Frank inhabits. The language is beautiful and cruel and vivid. Frank's journey is into the starkness of the outback, but it is also into his own psychological darkness. The mystery and harsh beauty of this story will appeal to a wide range of readers who enjoy a challenging novel.
( from Bookseller and Publisher).

Click here to buy Gone
Australian author
Retail Price: $29.95
Booktopia Price: $23.95 SAVE 20%

More detailsBLACK GLASS by Meg Mundell

A dark urban dystopian future with mass surveillance and government control, corruption and morality gone wrong. Black Glass will appeal to Gen-Y readers who like a bit of spec-fiction now and then.

Sisters Tally and Grace have been separated for years. Without ID, they live in the shadows and scrounge what they can. Circling them are Damon, a journalist for a current affairs show, who looks for the juiciest stories while maintaining the government's status quo, and Milk, who has the ability to control emotions of a crowd with engineered scents and special lighting. Black Glass contains a mix of writing styles which add to the big brother style of the book and is based in a specific city that becomes obvious over the course of the book, making the story all the more plausible.
( Thanks to Bookseller and Publisher).

We have reviews and an extract here.

Click here to buy Black Glass
Australian author
Retail Price: $32.95
Booktopia Price: $26.95 SAVE 18%

More details hereBEYOND FEAR by Jaye Ford

A chilling storyline which created real excitement at the publisher's, Ford's debut novel is a taut, tense thriller with one hell of a psychopath.

With the experience of a terrifying teen assault locked firmly away in her memory, Jodie Cramer sets out for a remote hideaway for a girls' weekend but is a location with a dark secret that comes bursting out.

Ford will have you checking your doors and windows - and don't  even think about reading this if you have a country weekend idyll planned.

Click here to buy Beyond Fear

Australian author
Retail Price: $32.95
Booktopia Price: $25.95 SAVE 21%

More details...BRIGHT AND DISTANT SHORES by Dominic Smith

This literary adventure by Australian, Dominic Smith, is set in turn of 20th century Chicago and counterpoints wonderfully the madness of skyscraper fever with the technologically opposite life on the islands of the south seas. Two orphans cross paths - one a sea captain sent to gather natives  (yes, you read that correctly) for an exhibit on the roof of the tallest building in the world, and the other a Melanesian house boy. The tribal and the civilised, culture and progress, romance and loss - this is a most unusual,  utterly captivating yarn.

Click here to buy Bright and Distant Shores
Australian author
Retail Price: $29.99
Booktopia Price: $23.95 SAVE 20%
More detailsCUCKOO  
Julia Crouch

This is an utterly gripping psychological thriller in the vein of Sophie Hannah. I almost hesitate to recommend it because I have heard that it really messes with your head. It left one reader completely distraught. Two women, childhood friends, reunite after tragedy. One starts moving into the other's life, and from there it is a spiral towards madness or manipulation. Read it if you dare (and I certainly don't). 

Click here to buy Cuckoo
Retail Price: $29.99
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  More details here..LOVE YOU MORE
Lisa Gardner

According to Karin Slaughter, the thrilling new novel from bestseller Lisa Gardner is as taut as a piano wire and just as well-played. Gardner's novels are tough, chilling and fiendishly plotted - she's one of crime-writing's fastest rising stars - and on the back of this tale of a wife stretched beyond endurance, and a missing child, it is easy to see why.

Click here to buy
Love You More
Retail Price: $32.99
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  More details...THE GUARDIANS
Andrew Pyper

There's no such thing as an empty house
A derelict house, a return to a small town after twenty years, a murder, a suicide, a deep, dark, menacing sense of regret.....
Dennis Lehane gives The Guardians a huge wrap:
This is everything you could ask for in a thriller. It's psychologically unnerving, moves like a bullet, and is fraught with so much tension you might crack a tooth reading it. Outstanding in every way.

Click here to buy
The Guardians
Retail Price: $32.99
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SILENT MERCY by Linda Fairstein

More details... Fairstein served in the office of the New York County District Attorney, where she was Chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit. In this latest Alexandra Cooper story sex crimes and fanatic
collide in ways that test her to the limit. But what is the role of the religious institutions at whose doorsteps the bodies are found?

Watch Fairstein explain the setting for her book here.

Click here to buy Silent Mercy
Retail Price: $32.95
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More details Rachael Jane Chin

Australia was mesmerised last year as ace waterpolo player Keli Lane  stood trial for the murder of her missing baby Tegan, a baby whose body has never been found. Found guilty, she is to be sentenced on March 11.

Everyone wants know what the real story is behind the Keli Lane case, and this stunning piece of journalism by Rachael Jane Chin is the closest we might ever get to knowing what happened and who Keli really is.

Chin was present for every day of the court proceedings and has followed and researched the Keli Lane case ever since she was first questioned in 2001. There is no one better qualified to write the story of a Nice Girl gone wrong.

Click here to buy Nice Girl
Australian author
Retail Price: $29.99
Booktopia Price: $23.95  SAVE 20%

More details...Larry Writer

A riveting story filled with pathos and action, featuring a truly Australian character, Frank 'Bumper' Farrell.

This is a classic story of a classic cop in a classic era. There were no shades of grey with Bumper. Criminals knew just where they stood: he would catch you, he would hurt you and he would lock you up. Bumper was famous for his days of playing Rugby League for Newtown - and also for representing Australia. He was a hard drinker, a gambler, a devoted husband and father, a devout Catholic, a staunch friend and a deadly enemy and Larry Writer has brought him to the page with all the verve and vigour that we have come to expect from the author of Pleasure and Pain and Razor.

Go here for our interview with Larry Writer.

Click here to buy Bumper
Australian author
Retail Price: $35.00
Booktopia Price: $27.95 SAVE 20%

More details... NICK VUJICIC

Vujicic is a preacher and motivational speaker who was born without arms or legs due to a rare disorder known as Tetra-amelia. He struggled throughout his childhood to come to terms with his disability, and at seventeen started his own non-profit organization Life Without Limbs. After graduating from university, Vujicic began his travels as a motivational speaker. At present, he regularly gives speeches on subjects such as disability, hope, and finding meaning in life. Life Without Limits is his story, and what a story it is.

Click here to buy Life Without Limits
Australian author
Retail Price: $24.99
Booktopia Price: $19.95  SAVE 20%


This is an unprecedented journey into the modern hacking underworld. Max Butler, a troubled young hacker turned real-life super-villain, seized sole control of a multi-billion-dollar criminal network. Max Butler stole hundreds of millions from modest credit unions, financial behemoths, even fellow hackers. But his most daring feat came when, in a single night of inspired hacking, he succeeded in crowning himself sole ruler of a worldwide computer fraud network.

Poulsen is a former hacker who has reinvented himself as one of the world's leading writers and authorities on computer security. Before becoming a journalist, Poulsen's exploits led to a five-year prison sentence. So here we have real-life crime from an author with
unprecedented access to many of the industry players.

Click here to buy Kingpin
Retail Price: $32.99
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More details... THE DRESSMAKER OF KHAIR KHANA: Five Sisters,  One Remarkable Family and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

There is an enormous appetite for books about ordinary people struggling simply to live ordinary lives in Afghanistan and for this reason alone, The Dressmaker of Khair Khana should strike a chord. An added bonus is that it really is a remarkable story of an unlikely entrepreneur who, against all odds, saved her family and inspired her community in Afghanistan. This has all the makings of  a reading group classic along the lines of Reading Lolita in Tehran and Three Cups of Tea and it has been getting huge endorsements overseas.

Click here to buy The Dressmaker of Khair Khana
Retail Price: $32.99
Booktopia Price: $27.95  SAVE 15%

More details... STARMAN: DAVID BOWIE by Paul Trynka

And talking of enormous appetites for certain genres, rock bio/memoirs just keep growing. Paul Trynka has a distinguished track record as a rock journalist and who could be a more fascinating subject than the man who has been re-inventing himself since the early 70s, David Bowie. He is a great icon. This is the definitive biography.

And while we are on the subject, you might also like the look of
Wild About You: The Sixties Beat Explosion in Australia and New Zealand.

Click here to buy Starman: David Bowie
Retail Price: $35.00
Booktopia Price: $27.95 SAVE 20%

More details TIGER, TIGER: A MEMOIR by Margux Fragoso

From the author:
I still think about Peter, the man I loved most in the world, all the time.

At two in the afternoon, when he would come and pick me up and take me for rides; at five, when I would read to him, head on his chest; in the despair at seven p.m., when he would hold me and rub my belly for an hour; in the despair again at nine p.m. when we would go for a night ride, down to the Royal Cliffs Diner in Englewood Cliffs where I would buy a cup of coffee with precisely seven sugars and a lot of cream. We were friends, soul mates and lovers.

I was seven. He was fifty-one. They were the happiest days of my life.

Click here to buy Tiger, Tiger
Retail Price: $24.95
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More details A WIDOW'S STORY by Joyce Carol Oates

On a February morning in 2008, Joyce Carol Oates drove her ailing husband, Raymond Smith, to the emergency room of the Princeton Medical Center where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Both Joyce and Ray expected him to be released in a day or two. But in less than a week, even as Joyce was preparing for his discharge, Ray was dead from a hospital-acquired virulent infection, and Joyce was suddenly faced - totally unprepared - with the reality of widowhood.

Author Joyce Carol Oates struggles to comprehend a life a without the partnership that had sustained and defined her for nearly half a century. Here is a frank acknowledgement of the widow′s desperation.

Click here to buy A Widow's Story
Available March 8
Retail Price: $35.00
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More details here PETER FITZSIMONS

The Shipwreck of the Batavia combines in just the one tale the birth of the world's first corporation, the brutality of colonisation, the battle of good vs evil, the derring-do of sea-faring adventure, mutiny, ship-wreck, love, lust, blood-lust, petty fascist dictatorship, criminality, a reign of terror, murders most foul, sexual slavery, natural nobility, survival, retribution, rescue, first contact with native peoples and so much more.

Described by author Peter FitzSimons as "a true Adults Only version of Lord of the Flies, meeting Nightmare on Elm Street," the story is set in 1629, when the pride of the Dutch East India Company, the Batavia, is on its maiden voyage en route from Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies, laden down with the greatest treasure to leave Holland. The magnificent ship is already boiling over with a mutinous plot that is just about to break into the open when, just off the coast of Western Australia, it strikes an unseen reef in the middle of the night.

Peter FitzSimons is a journalist, author and radio presenter with a fantastic track record for recreating Australian history and making it come alive. And his enthusiasm is unsurpassable and his popularity with readers is unmatched.

Go here for a clip of the author talking about the book.

Click here to buy Batavia
Australian author
Retail Price: $49.99
Booktopia Price: $39.95 SAVE 20%

More details Age doesn't matter when it comes to cooking. This is an essential, one-stop cookbook with a long shelf-life for budding chefs. Delivered in a non-patronising style that recognses that kids' cooking is not all about chockie crackles, it extends the basic knowledge of junior chefs and expands their repertoires while encouraging and enhancing their confidence. And of course, it is all based on the phenomenally successful TV series.

Have a look inside here.

Click here to buy Junior MasterChef
Retail Price: $29.99
Booktopia Price: $23.95  SAVE 20%


And for families where eating is out of control, here is a very practical aid that should just get you all back in shape again. Diet, exercise, fitness, food, nutrition, training - from kids to adults - all based on the hit TV program.

Have a look inside here.

Click here to buy
Biggest Loser Families
Australian author
Retail Price: $34.95
Booktopia Price: $28.95 SAVE 18%


From the author of the mega bestseller, The Celestine Prophecy, comes the much-awaited fourth book in the hugely popular series. This contemplative and suspenseful adventure builds from  the previous works, and takes as its starting point the Mayan prediction of the end of the world in 2012.
This is Redfield's first book since 1999 and has been awaited with much anticipation and enthusiasm.

There is a clip of the author here.

Other Redfield books, including The Celestine Prophecy, are here.

Click here to buy The Twelfth Insight
Retail Price: $34.95
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More details DERRYN HINCH

From Raquel Welsh to Malcolm Fraser, Princess Diana to Christopher Skase, Hinch has met and interviewed them all. This is his tell-all retrospective, from the broadcaster himself known as the Human Headline.

Click here to buy Human Headlines
Australian author
Retail Price: $39.95
Booktopia Price: $31.95 SAVE 20%

More details MIA FREEDMAN

Our readers love Mia Freedman - and they love her take on motherhood, womanhood, neighbourhood so much that they would almost nominate her for sainthood. We had people lining up in droves waiting for this latest book of observations and witticisms. Meanwhile, the Booktopia BookGuru has fallen under her spell.

Click here to buy Mia Culpa
Australian author
Retail Price: $29.99
Booktopia Price: $23.95  SAVE 20%

More detailsDAVID MALOUF

Perhaps our greatest writer explores the notion of what it is to be happy in the modern world, and finds the classics philosophers are a source of profound and lasting inspiration.

Click here to buy The Happy Life
Australian author
Retail Price: $19.95
Booktopia Price: $15.95 SAVE 20%

More details ITA BUTTROSE

Ita Buttrose is instantly recognisable (at least to people over thirty) and if there is anyone who could set you straight on manners and the like, it is she.
If you want to know how to to behave in a mosque, prevent trolley rage, get in and out of a crowded lift, make a speech, carve the roast, this is a must.

And if you want to see an interview, read an extract or view her hilarious promotional rap (yes, Ita!), go to our blog here.

Click here to buy
A Guide to Australian Etiquette
Australian author
Retail Price: $29.95
Booktopia Price: $24.95  SAVE 20%

More details...SHANNON BENNETT

I haven't seen this but I know it is going to be good. I gave Shannon Bennett's Paris a good road test in situ a year ago. The only thing that it didn't work for was my waistline. His guide books are a foodies dream, with wonderful tips, and hints that make it easy to navigate town and eat like a native.

Click here to buy
Shannon Bennett's New York
Australian author
Retail Price: $44.99
Booktopia Price: $35.95 SAVE 20%
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More details here... THE NINTH WAVE by Sean Doherty

With two major international events this month, everyone in the surfing world is talking about The Ninth Wave.

According to Coastal Watch, The Ninth Wave tells the stories behind 100 of the great surf photos of the modern age.

Amongst them are moments that have decided world titles. A wave that Shane Dorian waited 15 years to catch. A glimpse of a virgin Pacific reef from a mail plane 5000 feet up. A lone surfer in a 60-knot Southern Ocean squall. The horizon going black at Waimea Bay during the biggest swell in a decade. Splitting a wave with your kid at Bells Beach. The story of the wave that keeps Kelly Slater awake at night.

Stories from the world's best-known surfers (and several of its least) add another dimension to the images. Mick Fanning and Kremmo, Kelly Slater and Jughead, Occy and a bloke named Rambo all share their insights into the images that have defined surfing in the past five years.

The Ninth Wave showcases the work of surf photography's great contemporary talents including Jon Frank, Andrew "Shorty" Buckley, Ted Grambeau, Trent Mitchell, Brian Bielmann and Dustin Humphrey amongst them. Guys who have devoted their lives to capturing the surfing experience.

The photos and stories cover the broad spectrum of the surfing experience. With the flick of a page you can travel from the beach at Pipeline where the world title has just been decided, to the remote southwest of Tasmania where a lone surfer is paddling out into a 12 foot swell. Every wave, a story to tell.

There are images and clips here.

Click here to buy The Ninth Wave
Australian author
Retail Price: $39.95
Booktopia Price: $31.95  SAVE 20%
In This Issue
Double movie pass give-away

Toni's Book of the Month

Land of Painted Caves pre-order

Vintage Classics

Toni's non-fiction pick for the month


Toni's Young Adult book for the month

Fiction - the big names

Quality fiction

Debut novels from around the world

Australian fiction showcase
Audrey of the Outback
Fitzy's Batavia

Popular Culture

Australian icons

The Oscars - and books


Thrillers and crime

Bios and memoir


Not reading the Booktopia Blog? You are missing out on some daily breaking news, exclusive author interviews, funny observations, fascinating insights, titbits, gossip and a whole lot more.

Featured authors from this newsletter include Jean Auel, Lisa Genova, Irfan Master, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Don Winslow, Deborah Harkness, David Michael Lukas, Lyn Hughes, Larry Writer, Mia Freedman, Ita Buttrose and Nicole Alexander.

Click here for our author interviews.

Click here for the Booktopia Blog.

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The cover is still under wraps but this is book 9 of the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. Scorpia Rising is available from the end of March.

Add your name to the list - 18% discount


Australia's response to Pippi Longstocking is now available in a beautiful cloth bound edition.

More details here...

Christine Harris' three Audrey of the Outback stories have become instant Australian classics. This hardback bind-up edition comes with black and white illustrations and is perfect for newly independent readers from six years old. It also makes a lovely read-aloud bed time book.

Click here for more details.

April release - perfect for Mother's Day
Pre-order your copy now