Booktopia Buzz
JULY 2011 | Edition 34
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BUZZ IN BRIEF
You would think it would be a quiet time of the year in the book world. While readers are warm and cosy next to the heater, publishers are bedding down their schedules for the big months of October and November.

Not so. In the brave new world of almost simultaneous international publishing, we are no longer considered antipodean when it comes to big releases. In other words, it is summer in the northern hemisphere, there is a voracious demand for big holiday reads and we no longer have to wait impatiently on the side lines. Not only that, but there are too many books that would simply get lost in the juggernaut that is the lead up to Christmas. The happy consequence of both of these forces means that, yet again, I have a cracker of a selection for you.

Yes the big names are here - Robert Hughes, George RR Martin, Alan Hollinghurst, Patrick Ness. But here are also some absolutely brilliant books that you may not otherwise have considered. No matter how many times I write the Booktopia Buzz , I always find myself genuinely getting enthusiastic.

My picks? The Coffee Story, A Monster Calls and The Devotion of Suspect X and State of Wonder . And have a look at the cool new flipbacks. I'll be fascinated to hear what you think of them.

Regular readers of Booktopia Buzz will notice a few changes this month. As you probably know, I go through thousands of new titles every month to put together a selection that I think represents the best of the best. This month, I decided to give you the inside running on how I have come to this hand-picked selection. I have left the actual explanation of each book to the publishers (because that is what they do best), and you will find that when you follow the links to our site. The aim of it all from my point of view, is to take the hassle out of choosing.

And some exciting news. Booktopia is a finalist in the NSW Telstra Business Awards for medium business, as well as in the top five for the People's Choice awards. Thank you all for helping to put us well and truly on the map!

Happy reading!

Toni Whitmont
Editor-in-Chief
Booktopia
FANTASTIC FICTION: THE COFFEE STORY by PETER SALMON
Click for more detail or to buy The Coffee StoryWhere to start with                           FacebookTwitter
The Coffee Story?

Let's get the story out of the way first. Theodore Everett is dying. An old man now riddled with cancer, he looks back at his life at the helm of Everett and Sons Coffee, which for a time, dominated world trade in this most addictive of commodities. Teddy has been married a couple of times but his heart was always Lucy's, the girl who emerged from the Ethiopian forest at the age of fourteen carrying a Zippo lighter in one hand and a coffee bean in the other. It was the early 30s and Teddy, not yet a teen, was living on one of the many family plantations in what was then Abyssinia pre-the attempted Italian invasion, in a house which started to fall apart from the day it was built, ignored by his completely peculiar parents, in the thrall of the perpetually plotting Marxist foreman, a blind seer and his sexually adventurous wife, and his shadowy silent alter ego Kewibe Abi.

Teddy's coffee story unfolds in the ramblings of a dying man, getting more and more elliptical as the drugs take hold. Peter Salmon's characters are magnificent - Simon the Big Nose (Teddy's grandfather), Ibrahim Salez the infinitely sleazy go-between in Alexandria who deals in everything fake and authentic from Pharaoic treasures to hashish, Susu the silent bean grinding servant who is perhaps as prized for his brewing skill as his silent acquiescence to the unwanted advances of his patron, Teddy's unnamed first wife and her preposterous Cuban revolutionary lover Carlo (himself an offsider of Castro), his grandmother Adelaide of the Suitcase, his father's body guard (the villain of the piece), Siobhan his palliative care nurse with whom he falls in love.

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Just as crucial to his story are real figures from history, emerging as palpable characters even though they we never "meet" them. Salmon has a great grasp of the past but who would have thought of including King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba who, according to Ethiopian legend, were the first in the line of royalty extending all the way down to Haile Selassie, (known as His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings of Ethiopia and Elect of God and whom Teddy meets on not one but two occasions), Gramsci, Lenin, Fidel Castro, President Batista of Cuba? And then there is the possible theft of the Ark of the Covenant some 3000 years earlier. And is it just me, or did Salmon name Lucy after the three million year old Australopithicean skeleton discovered at Hadar in Ethiopia in the 1970s?

But it is his prose that is the real star of this completely engaging novel. It swoops and loops.  Salmon's use of language and construction are both clever and well thought through. There is plenty to laugh out loud about in this book, but there is also plenty to be bedazzled by. Although I read it over two rainy days, I stopped often, re-reading particular passages aloud for the sheer pleasure of the tumble of words and ideas. As an aside, Salmon is also a tour de force of invective.

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This is a novel of ideas. Big ideas. History and histrionics, sex and suicide, communism, capitalism, fascism, pan-Africanism, colonialism and no doubt a few more "isms" I have neglected to mention here. Oh, and Scientology. It is also a novel about the personal, about a young boy whose life was irrevocably scarred one day when four bullets found their mark. More than anything else it is most definitely a story about coffee.

Coffee novels have always held a fascination for me, and this one is head and shoulders above David Liss' admirable The Coffee Trader. Nonetheless, it is tempting to describe  Salmon's first novel as The Coffee Trader meets  DBC Pierre's Lights out in Wonderland but if I said that I would probably be giving it the kiss of death. Perhaps it is because I grew up on stories from Africa, including a six degree of separation episode with the aforementioned Lion of the Tribe of Judah himself, it was inevitable that I would take to this book. Put together with sizzling prose,  a wild ride through the peaks and troughs of twentieth century history, a very original concept and very nifty execution, I can't recommend The Coffee Story highly enough.

Read our interview with Peter Salmon here.

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FANTASTIC FICTION: LAST SUMMER by KYLIE LADD
Click here for more details or to buy Last Summer By the simple act                        Facebook Twitter
of telling a story a good book can carry a light into the dark and unexamined corners of a reader's life. The darkest of these unexamined corners is occupied by the single irrefutable truth of our existence, death. Left in the shadows this stark fact can take on all of the attributes of a nightmarish spectre. Left unexamined we may be left entirely unprepared when death intrudes upon our own lives. Something it will do, eventually.

Last Summer by Kylie Ladd, begins with the sudden death of Rory Buchanan, captain of the local cricket team, a man in the prime of his life. We immediately enter the lives of those Rory left behind - his wife, Colleen, his sister, Kelly, her husband, Joe, and Rory's friends and team-mates, Nick, James and Pete, and their wives, Laine, Anita and Trinity as they, in their various ways, cope with Rory's death and face up to the fact that life does, and will, go on without him.

Last Summer is told from the points of view of these nine characters with full chapters from one point of view only. This method of storytelling requires strong characterisation so that each individual point of view provides a unique perspective on the events. By choosing suburban Melbourne as her setting, and the cricket club as her focal point, Ladd has made things difficult for herself. There is much that is necessarily shared by all of these nine characters. They are all white, they are all moderately well off, they are all around the same age and they all have some connection to the game of cricket. This seeming difficulty turns out to be one of the novel's strengths.

A writer's tools are sharpened upon their knowledge of human nature and as we read we discover that Ladd's tools are very sharp indeed. A lazy writer will accentuate minor differences between characters or lean upon ready to hand stereotypes but Ladd shies away from these. You will not find the ditsy blonde, the funny guy, the earnest one, the clueless one, Dopey, Sneezy or Doc... Ladd's characters are differentiated by their individual wants, needs, regrets and hopes, which are finely drawn. They are all at times funny, witty, stupid and earnest. This technique establishes each character's point of view with a force which is at once memorable and engaging.

My allegiance to one character's point of view was invariably challenged on reading the following chapter written from another character's point of view. The effect was a broadening of my perspective. I was forced to examine events from different angles.

Ladd overcame my complacency, too - I thought I knew these people and in knowing them, secretly despised them. But as I read, her characters revealed themselves in unexpected ways, now they met my expectations, now they exceeded them. I was given an opportunity to warm to characters I would ordinarily shun in life. This is no small thing.

Last Summer is an entirely adult story. Here we find married people dealing with the consequences of a tragedy but having only the tools of ordinary suburban existence to aid them. The people described in Last Summer aren't philosophers, they can't crawl off to live in a barrel and ponder the meaning of life. After the funeral they have jobs to go to. That week the kids will have to be picked up from school, dinner will have to be made, as will the beds, and the laundry won't get done all by itself. The rest of the cricket season awaits, too. A new captain has to be appointed, the fund raisers still have to be organised and someone has to replace Rory as coach of the Kookaburras, the kids cricket team.

The great internal strength we appreciate when reading Last Summer comes from Ladd's weaving together of what could be nine novellas. We feel compelled to read on not only for the realisation of one grand scheme but the conclusion of many secondary plots as well. The wonder of it all is how seamlessly Ladd combines these sometimes disparate threads....

Kylie Ladd is a strong, intelligent, subtle and wise new voice in Australian literature who is already being compared with Christos Tsiolkas, Malcolm Knox and Helen Garner. Last Summer is a warm, entertaining and somewhat life-changing novel which will be enjoyed, and re-read, by readers of Jodi Picoult, Ian McEwan and Colm Toibin.

To read the rest of Booktopia Book Guru's review, click here.

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THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X
STATE OF WONDER
click here for more details or to buy The Devotion Of Subject X KEIGO HIGASHINO

For the occasional crime fiction reader the appeal of The Devotion of Suspect X was irresistible. The first of Keigo Higashino's books to be translated into English, it has sold over a million copies in its native Japan, it has inspired a cult film and it has a genuinely creepy cover with neither a blood print or a bleak snowy landscape to be seen.
And there was definitely something about going into the Japanese space. It seems we have mined the world for fresh voices in thrills. Not content with home grown or gritty Scottish, or Los Angeles underbelly locations, we moved first to English speaking writers in foreign settings (Barbara Nadel in Turkey, Donna Leon in Venice, Alexander McCall Smith in Botswana and Colin Cotterill in Laos)  and now increasingly to more exotic locations deftly handled by writers who live and breath their lingua franca. Scandanavia of course is over represented with Mankell,  Sigurdottir, Lackberg, Kepler and most famously, Larsson, to name just a handful. Spain has given us Arturo Perez-Reverte and Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Italy has given us Georgio Faletti and Niccolo Ammaneti and Russia, Boris Akunin and A. V Shevshenko. When it comes to Asia however, the list of names accessible to the English speaking reader starts to thin out considerably.
Higashino has been a full time writer for more than 25 years, and has sales in the many millions. He has won just about every award there in Japan, a country that does tend to treat its crime and thriller writers more seriously than is generally the case here in Australia. And of all of his novels, it is the Devotion of Suspect X that has made the greatest impact.
It is easy to see why. Higashino presents us with a taut mystery of maths and murder in which a part-time detective and physics professor Yukawa, (otherwise known as Dr Galileo and apparently the hero of a couple of other books) plays a game of strategic game of cat and mouse with a former classmate, genius mathematician and logician Ishigami (whose nickname of The Buddha was earned at university for his cool intelligence combined with detachment).
The story revolves around Yasuko Hanoaka, an attractive box-lunch salesgirl who lives with her teenage daughter, Misato. Togashi, the abusive husband Hanoaka divorced, visits her apartment out of the blue, gets into a fight with Misato, and winds up dead. Panicked, the women need help. Enter brilliant mathematician Ishigami, Hanoaka's neighbour, who has been dogging Hanoaka at the restaurant where she works. Yukawa is drawn into the investigation, given his friendship with detective Kusanagi assigned to the case, and his past association with Ishigami.
Ultimately, the book is about the life of the mind: Ishigami is above all a teacher, not a very nice one but a very good one. His hobby is picking at solutions to apparently intractable math problems. While the relationship between Ishigami and Hanoaka is the heart of the story, the one between the mathematician and the physicist Yukawa is the plot driver.
The Devotion of Suspect X is also satisfying for its brisk pace and stunning twist and counter twist at the end. And then there is the added bonus of the location (gritty old-Tokyo districts, under bridges, along the river front etc) and the glimpse into a very different culture.
What is also interesting is that the book is not about a discovery of who carried out the crime (that is clearly explained at the beginning) but instead it is about how they get away with it. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, the author Higashino explained that this format is common in Japanese crime fiction, where feelings of loyalty and the oppressive weight of human relations are classic catalysts for murder and dark pacts between neighbors or co-workers to dispose of bodies seem to be a recurring theme.

Read the rest of my review here.

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Click here for more details or to buy State Of WonderANN PATCHETT    FacebookTwitter

Many of have a place in our heart for Patchett after Bel Canto - her marvellous rendition of Stockholm syndrome writ large when an opera singer and various politicians are taken hostage in South America.
State of Wonder is just as intriguing, and somewhat more substantial and happily, it is still peppered with her characteristic crisp and illuminating prose.
Patchett's latest novel really is something special and worth considering for all the literary prizes, festivals and reading groups going this year.
Patchett imagines a primitive tribe, living deep in the Amazon, where the women remain fertile unto death. In all other respects their bodies deteriorate normally with age. But their reproductive systems remain eternally youthful, allowing them to continue bearing children into their seventies and eighties.
If scientists working for the fictional pharmaceutical company, Vogel, can discover the Lakashi tribe's secret and bottle it, then they could revolutionise the lives of women around the world and rake in the big bucks.
But there's a problem. No matter how much money they pay her, the maverick researcher running the project refuses to report on her progress. Worse still, they don't even know exactly where she is.
Dr Swenson has convinced the company bosses that to protect both the unspoilt nature of her subjects and the value of the drug she's developing, the location of the Lakashi must remain a secret. So when Vogel's CEO finds the board pressing him for updates, he decides to send the Minnesotan researcher Anders Eckman in quest of news.
Patchett's novel opens in Minnesota as Eckman's colleague, Marina Singh, receives the news of Eckman's death from fever. Unsurprisingly, neither Vogel's CEO or Eckman's widow are willing to accept this is all there is to know. Both turn to Marina for answers.
Patchett's account of Marina's journey to the humid heart of the jungle grips slowly and steadily, like a python, as she develops her Atwoodian themes. Muscular layers of drama, ideas and psychology coil themselves slickly around the reader's brain.
Although the pace often feels as slow, muddy and dreamy as the Amazon in its lazier stretches, it pulls you on with a powerful undertow of profound questions, compelling characters and startling revelations. There are many strange and difficult twists and truths tangled like roots beneath the surface of this story.
Marina is a wonderful heroine: she's constantly seeking the kind and correct path, making mistakes and occasionally rebelling against her lot.
The charismatic septuagenarian Swenson proves a fascinating, sharp-tongued eccentric who may have humanity's greater good at heart but appears to care little for the individual humans around her.
Most moving, and surprising, are Marina's post-mortem feelings for Eckman. He was one of her tribe. She aches for his fatherless boys and her own empty office.
Sleeping in his old bed in the jungle, she reads the fevered letters he wrote home and weighs the duty she owes to the people of Minnesota, the Amazon and the world. And the exhilarating ending really did leave this reader in a state of wonder. 

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AUSTRALIAN VOICES: LEAD LOCAL FICTION
Click for more detail or to buy There Should Be More Dancing What a rich offering                                                  Facebook Twitter
of local fiction this month! My favourite has to be There Should Be More Dancing by Rosalie Ham. Ham has always had a "yearning for the triumph, tragedy and terror of story" and her legions of fans from The Dressmaker won't be disappointed with this, her third novel.

It really is a wonderful read. The marvellous thing about Ham is the way she captures the Australian voice, but it is perhaps not surprising, given what this Jerilderie born author said to us in a recent interview.

Rural community activities - agricultural shows, football grand finals and ANZAC day marches - mean that even today, brass marching bands induce in me a swelling heart and tears of joy. But it was the extremes in my early childhood years, the proximity of the (sometimes cruel) life cycle, the desperation of back-lane cricket and the nefariousness of local adulterers that fed my yen for narrative. I passed a lot of time in the limitless, empty outdoors and I had to amuse myself, and all of these things fuelled my play-acting and the dramas I had going on in my imagination at any given time.

Read the rest of the interview here.

The other Australian experience, the migrant experience, gets a work over by John Charalambous in Two Greeks. This is "an intimate story of the destruction of a family, played out against the suburban and migrant cultures of the 1970s, with an overwhelming sense of missed opportunities that leaves the reader wondering what might have been" (4 star review from Bookseller+Publisher). I would be fascinated to hear Christos Tsoilkas' reaction to this one.

According to Claire Corbett, the author of When We Have Wings , "the novel is the ultra-marathon of the arts. You do it because it's hard, because you're easily bored and because you want to find out what happens when you push yourself. Like climbing Everest or raising a child, it's painful and it can't be done perfectly and most of the time you'll feel it can't be done at all but when you do it's exhilarating".

Read the rest of her interview with us here.

When We Have Wings , an apparent murder mystery in a world where some people fly and others don't, comes with no less than the stamp of approval from Jane Campion. If you felt comfortable with the speculative fiction elements in Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, you will soar with When We Have Wings.

Berlin Syndrome by Melanie Joosten is garnering a lot of praise as an intelligent,  suspenseful and acutely observed psychological thriller that shifts between the perspectives of the two protagonists, revealing the power of obsession, the fluidity of truth and the kaleidoscopic nature of human relationships.

If crime is your thing, you will love these three very different books. A Man You Can Bank On is all bookies, crims, a fabulously parched country town looking for revival - oh, and a dog. Derek Hansen of course has a long pedigree with his Lunch with... series. Garry Disher's Whispering Death is a new novel in the much-loved Challis and Destry series, from the winner of the 2010 Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction. It has all the elements that make up a great crime novel -  an underfunded police unit, strong male and female characters, a distinct setting and the contrasting views of characters within the law and those that operate outside it. And finally, I just love the idea of Hysteria at the Wisteria, a Midsommer Murders style book with an Aussie twist - all centering around The Wisteria Women's Bowling Club and written by a self-confessed bowling tragic.

In Dismissal , Nicholas Hasluck gives us a thrilling tale of legal and political intrigue, betrayal, spies and treason, spanning the tumultuous decades in Australia leading up to 'The Dismissal' in 1975, as well as a compelling tour - by an insider - through the corridors of parliamentary power. Son of the former governor general, Canberra insider and graduate of both Oxford and Fleet Street, he is of course, the perfect person to write this novel.

And in yet more political intrigue, Commonwealth Writer's Prize shortlisted Sulari Gentill is back with the sequel to A Few Right Thinking MenA Decline in Prophets - a heady mix of religion, murder and scandal. We've got the inner workings of an international cult (the Theosophical Movement), luxury boats, seances and mystics and the Masons - in short, the grace, charm and contradiction of the 1930s (plus a rather alarming body count), all put together with Gentill's now trademark light-hearted irony.

Click on the jacket images below for all the details of each book

THERE SHOULD BE MORE DANCING by ROSALIE HAM
  WHISPERING DEATH by GARRY DISHER
  A DECLINE IN PROPHETS by SULARI GENTILL

Go here for our author interview.

Go here to read the first chapter - exclusive to Booktopia.

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There Should be More Dancing
Australian author
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Australian author
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Go here for our author interview.

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A Decline in Prophets
Australian author
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WHEN WE HAVE WINGS by CLAIRE CORBETT
  DISMISSAL by NICHOLAS
  BERLIN SYNDROME by MELANIE JOOSTEN


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Go here for our interview with the author.

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When We Have Wings
Australian author
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Click for more detail or to buy The Dismissal

Click here to buy Dismissal
Australian author
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Click for more detail or to buy Berlin Syndrome

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Berlin Syndrome
Australian author
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A MAN YOU CAN BANK ON by DEREK HANSEN
  TWO GREEKS by  JOHN CHARALAMBOUS   HYSTERIA AT THE WISTERIA  by ELLEN MARY WILTON

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A Man You Can Bank On
Australian author
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Click for more detail or to buy Two Greeks

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Two Greeks
Australian author
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Click for more detail or to buy Hysteria at the Wisteria

Click here to buy Hysteria at the Wisteria
Australian author
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GIANTS OF FICTION 
Click for more detail or to buy Blook Line BLOOD LINE by LYNDA LA PLANTE

From cadavers to criminals, the crime fiction queen isn't afraid to get her hands dirty. If Lynda La Plante is going to write about it she wants to see it - firsthand. And nothing, it seems, is too grim, too gruesome, to warrant the crime writer's personal attention.

She has spent time in a Russian morgue, witnessing bodies fished from the Moscow River then hung on lines like so much grotesque laundry, and then there is the well-documented occasion when she visited a Los Angeles brothel and, to put the working girls at their ease, got her own kit off. (Read more here)

La Plante is in peak form with her latest DCI Anna Travers dossier. Best still, the book comes stickered with competition details for a lunch with Lynda when she comes to Australia in September.

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La Plante at her best

Click for more detail or to buy One SummerONE SUMMER by David Baldacci

This is a complete departure for Baldacci. You will need a tissue box for this romantic story about a man given a second chance of life and love. In a huge departure from his usual legal thriller style, Baldacci delivers plenty of tears in this emotional family drama involving terminal illness, shocking loss and eventual recovery. It will be interesting to see whether he  still has the Midas touch in this new genre.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY by Danielle Steel
Another guaranteed bestseller from arguably the world's favourite author. 44 Charles Street has spent weeks at number 1 in Australia. This new novel is all about age,  choices and learning to live with consequences as three different people reach crucial turning points in their lives all on the same day.

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Click for more detail or to buy Sisterhood Everlasting SISTERHOOD EVERLASTING by Ann Brashares

Four friends, ten years later, the original pair of jeans they shared is long gone. This is a welcome addition to the young adult series Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants but this book is certainly not written for teenagers. The original readers of the bestselling series are now all a decade older, and so are the characters they came to know and love so well. Here then is the sisterhood all grown up!

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LITERARY HEAVYWEIGHTS
WISH YOU WERE HERE by GRAHAM SWIFT
  AT LAST by EDWARD ST AUBYN
  THE STRANGER'S CHILD by ALAN HOLLINGHURST
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The story of a dreadful day of catharsis in the life of a resolutely ordinary man, Graham Swift's ninth novel begins with remembered images of funeral pyres of burning cattle and the collapse of the twin towers.
"There is no end to madness," thinks Jack Luxton, sitting alone in his bedroom in a cottage on the Isle of Wight, looking out over the rain-lashed caravan site, now closed for winter, that he has run for the past 10 years with his wife, Ellie. Jack has just returned from the repatriation and funeral of his younger brother Tom, a soldier killed in Iraq, who had left the family many years ago and never kept in touch. Terrible, unrevealed words have passed between Jack and his wife, and she has taken off with the car. Now, with a loaded gun, he awaits her return.
A probing but leisurely character study masquerading as a mystery, Wish You Were Here is a dark, restrained family drama with its roots in Devon soil. It takes us back to a time when Jack and Ellie were diffident childhood sweethearts growing up on neighbouring farms.
But now the farm has gone, ruined by "the war with the cow disease". Jack is now "the soft-living proprietor of a caravan site". For three weeks or a month every year, he and Ellie jet off to the Caribbean, but he never really enjoys himself.
This is not a book for impatient readers but it's a book which improves with retrospect.
(Excerpts taken from The Guardian online)

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Wish You Were Here
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Click for more detail or to buy At Last

The fifth of St Aubyn's Melrose novels, At Last is as  ever, is a beguiling blend of wit, intellect and compassion Each of the novels enthrals, but in sequence, their power is synergistic.
They relate the tale of a horrifically dysfunctional family: doctor David, his wealthy wife Eleanor, and their child Patrick, who is raped by David and develops addiction problems. Patrick's craving for maternal love leads him to marry caring Mary, but after two sons arrive, Mary's attention shifts. Patrick's need for unshared affection then leads to his affair with Julia, and he is angst-ridden at Eleanor's decision to leave the family pile to a shaman - or conman - Seamus.
St Aubyn's characteristic blend of acid wit, intellect and compassion is plaited through At Last , which is focused on a single day - that of Eleanor's cremation, in 2005.
St Aubyn's acerbic humour is wonderful but this is also a psychologically astute book. When the parallels between Patrick and St Aubyn are considered (St Aubyn has revealed that he shares Patrick's history of abuse and addiction), the novel seems strikingly raw and honest, too.
In At Last , Patrick has recently left the Priory, so the language of psychotherapy is prominent, but there is no self-indulgence. And St Aubyn is still deliciously wicked in his satire. Nancy is a parody of venal greed: "She had no cash for taxis, and her swollen feet were already bulging out of the ruthlessly elegant inside edges of her $2,000 shoes. People said she was incorrigibly extravagant but the shoes would have cost $2,000 each, if she hadn't bought them parsimoniously in a sale."
There are few  small problems in a shimmering work of multiple strengths. Even minor characters surge with fascinating foibles. And St Aubyn's ability to pierce the façade of moneyed politesse that veils cruel, hypocritical behaviour is acute.
The final coming to terms is not an epiphany, as that would suggest a clarity of vision through which peace is reached, and with childhood trauma, the circular questions never end. But At Last is as close to a resolution as Patrick will ever come and ends, if not with unrealistic optimism, then at least with hope. Demons are forever, but we're privileged that St Aubyn chose to share his with us.
(Excerpts taken from The Independent online)

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At Last
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This Man Booker prize winner is not noted for his prolific output, so a new novel is always a great literary event. And his latest could be his greatest yet.
Hollinghurst is not a writer who rushes his words...He estimates that he completes on average between 300 and 400 words in a day of writing, although there are many days in which nothing is forthcoming other than gestating thought. He is said to have spent two years thinking about The Line of Beauty before embarking on the first chapter.
Yet while the final result of this deliberation is unfailingly polished, it's very seldom precious. Instead, his novels are engorged with a playful wit and a powerful eroticism...
The Stranger's Child begins in outer-suburban Harrow in 1913, the last summer before the First World War, and spans the following century. At its centre are two families and a poem that is destined to resound with personal and social significance.
With its rarefied atmosphere, multi-generational timespan, depiction of the intrusion of war and the unfolding drama of a literary conceit and a disputed event, the novel is bound to be compared with Ian McEwan's Atonement . The similarities, however, are superficial and what stands out is Hollinghurst's distinctively delicious style and acuity of social observation....Yet he is absorbed by questions of morality, which is one of the reasons that he is not overly concerned with wholesome depictions of stoical strength. "The problem with nice people is that they're frightfully boring to write about," he told one interviewer. "What I've always been interested in is moral weakness. And, most of all, bad behaviour." Hollinghurst is a particularly unusual contemporary literary novelist. He may be coolly knowing but never bleakly ironic. For while his characters are often promiscuous with their affections, they tend to be in thrall to the idea of a true love that is tantalisingly out of reach. Yet it's not love that's the illusion but the notion of its permanence. What survives is what the search for love can inspire: art.

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The Stranger's Child
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ADRENALINE OVERLOAD: CRIME, THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE
It may be chilly winter in Australia but in the northern hemisphere everyone is gearing up for big summer reads. Good news for us. Rather that having to chose between the book or the BBQ, we can be indoors guilt free and read, read, read.


Meanwhile, here are a few teasers.

Click for more detail or to buy The Silent GirlTess Gerritsen, author of the Rizzoli and Isles series including The Silent Girl, is a big fan of both The Lord of the Rings and Nancy Drew.

Read our interview with her here.

Italian thriller writer Giorgio Faletti turns the American psyche on its head with his tale of Vietnam vet gone very wrong in I Am God. Or as he says in our interview with him, Ho scelto quella del Vietnam perché aveva la collocazione temporale che mi serviva e perché è stata oggetto di discussione e di divisione dell'opinione pubblica mondiale quando ero un ragazzo.  Oh, you want that in English? Click here for the full interview in both languages.

Dan Brown goes concerto in Mozart's Last Aria, a whodunnit in Vienna and a disillusioned cop in 1960s Florence in Death in August.

And finally, I know Booktopia readers are big fans of Tom Rob Smith, so you will be thrilled about his new one. Child 44, based on true case of child murders in Stalinist Russia, exploded onto the scene three years ago picking up major crime awards and being longlisted for the Man Booker prize. The Secret Speech came next with former MGB agent Leo Demidov trying to forge a new path for himself under the weight of the Kruschev regime. Now in Agent 6, Demidov is back as a civilian, but as the Cold War continues he finds himself exiled both from his wife and daughters in America and his country of refuge.

Go here for all details

THE WAIT IS NEARLY OVER: A DANCE WITH DRAGONS by GEORGE RR MARTIN
Click for more detail or to buy A Dance With Dragons The long-awaited fifth volume                               Facebook Twitter
in the greatest epic work of the modern age is almost here.

New York Times #1 bestselling author George R. R. Martin has won widespread praise for his epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. In this new addition to the series, A Dance with Dragons, Martin continues the most mesmerising saga since The Lord of the Rings . The future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance...

Daenerys Stormborn, the last of the Targaryens, has brought the young dragons in her care to their terrifying maturity. Now that her general whereabouts is known, many are seeking Daenerys and her dragons, among them the dwarf, Tyrion Lannister, who has escaped the city of King's Landing with a price on his head.


To the north lies the great Wall of ice and stone - a structure only as strong as those guarding it. Eddard Stark's bastard son Jon Snow has been elected the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, but he has enemies both in the Watch and beyond the Wall, where the wildling armies are massing for an assault.

On all sides, bitter conflicts are reigniting, played out by a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves. The tides of destiny will inevitably lead to the greatest dance of all.

Click here to buy A Dance with Dragons
Available July 12
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THE CHRISTCHURCH TRAGEDY: EARTHQUAKE

Click for more details or to buy EartherquakeEARTHQUAKE! CHRISTCHURCH by The Press      FacebookTwitter

Despite the closeness of the ties between Australia and its trans Tasman neighbour, we simply can't imagine what New Zealanders are going through right now.

Earthquake has been put together by their local press. It is full of reportage, moving descriptions and shocking photos. It also includes a DVD.

Topics covered includes first hand accounts, the effect on different parts of the cities, the science, the debate, the response as well as stories of tragedy and heroism.


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HISTORY NOW AND THEN
Click for more detail or to buy RomeROME: A CULTURAL HISTORY                             FacebookTwitter
by Robert Hughes

Prize-winning writer and critic's dazzling biography of the Eternal City.

The overarching achievement of this vibrant, opinionated, detailed new look at the Eternal City is that it forces the reader to look at Rome with new eyes.

The approach is chronological, the method to take a  mass of historical detail and shape it into a cohesive, narrative, sweeping from on event, movement, influence or person to another, leaving us with so much information and rekindled curiosity that many will want to visit, or re-visit, Rome a the first opportunity.

Who should read it? Anyone with any feeling for this magnificent city!
(Australian Bookseller and Publisher. 5 Star review)

From the publisher:
One of the most celebrated art critics and cultural commentators turns his attention to the timelessly fascinating city of Rome. In this magisterial history, Robert Hughes identifies seven distinct cultural episodes: the city's Etruscan beginnings, Julius Caesar and the birth of the Imperium, primitive Christianity and the growth of the Church, the Renaissance, the Baroque and the Neo-Classic, the Rome of Fascism and Mussolini and, finally, the Rome of the 1960s - the era of Fellini, la dolce vita and the birth of the paparazzo.

The founding of Rome is shrouded in legend, but current archaeological evidence supports the theory that Rome grew from pastoral settlements and coalesced into a city in the 8th century BC. It developed into the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and finally the Roman Empire. For almost a thousand years, Rome was the most politically important, richest and largest city in the Western world.

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NAGASKI by CRAIG COLLIE

BORN IN AFRICA by MARTIN MEREDITH
  INFERNAL TRIANGLE by PAUL McGEOUGH

Go here for an extract, Google preview and the contents

Click here to buy Nagasaki
Australian author
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Click here to buy Born in Africa
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Click here to buy Infernal Triangle
Australian author
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HEALTHY EATING
Click here for more details or to buy Marion MARION by Marion Grasby

Australia's culinary sweetheart is finally in print and we have this book at a very enticing low price.


I have seen this book cover to cover and let me tell you, it is gorgeous. It is very personal, with a scattering of family photos from throughout her life, its layout, exotic settings and use of colour are all, in a word, stunning. As for the recipes themselves, they look both delicious and achievable.

Marion had her head start in public life through MasterChef, but she is certainly no flash-in-the-pan. Her cooking style draws from a great many different influences, her approach is fast, fresh and simple.

Go here to internal images from the book.

From the publisher:
If you ask Marion Grasby what her favourite food is, she'll list at least 10 things. Marion loves food. And she loves talking about it.

During last year's MasterChef series, Marion wowed Australia with her incredible cooking talent, her assured palate and her sunny personality and warmth.

Now in her first cookbook Marion shares more than 80 of her favourite recipes from throughout her life: the places she's been, and the people she's met and cooked with. Marion has lived in the Northern Territory, Papua New Guinea, Queensland and South Australia, and her food is an eclectic mix of Thai, Italian, French, Middle Eastern... and firmly Aussie.

These are recipes for the home cook, dishes to make every night of the week, for dinner parties and lazy afternoons. The recipes are peppered with entertaining stories and with incredible photography of the food and of Marion's travels through Australia and Thailand.

Click here to buy Marion
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Click for more detail or to buy 4 Ingredients Kids4 INGREDIENTS KIDS by Kim McCosker and Rachael Bermingham


For the past 4 years, people have begged Rachael and Kim to write a cook book to help them feed the kids. Now it's finally here! In the famous 4 Ingredients style this book has hundreds of recipes that little (and big) kids will LOVE! 4 Ingredients Kids is full of recipes and ideas that will not only keep your kids happy and healthy, but get them into the kitchen, having fun and creating their very own recipes that the whole family will enjoy.

For parents it provides that much needed inspiration at 6 o'clock in the evening when you're rushing to get something sensational on the dinner table that the kids will LOVE without breaking the bank! New delicious dinners such as Pizzadilla's, Cinderella's Pumpkin Soup, Chicken Teriyaki & Healthy fish 'n' chips as well as the 'energy-boosting breakfasts' like the yummy Breakfast Soup and Ham & Cheese Breaky Wraps will soon become fast favourites and liven up meal times!

Kids will delight in making their own fun recipes like the easy, quick, budget friendly Fun-du's, Dinosaur Eggs, Cupcake Pops & Zebra Sandwiches. 4 Ingredients Kids is full of fun, fast and flavoursome recipes the whole family will enjoy.

Click here to read our interview with McCosker.

See the other books in the 4 Ingredients series here.

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ANNABEL'S KITCHEN by ANNABEL KARMEL  
  WINTER ON THE FARM by MATTHEW EVANS
  GENEROUS HELPING
Click for more detail or to buy Annabel's Kitchen

Click here to buy Annabel's Kitchen
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See inside the book here

Go here to see inside the book.

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Winter on the Farm
Australian author
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Click here to buy
A Generous Helping
Australian author
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50+ RECIPES TO LOSE 50 + KILOS by SALLY SYMONDS
  DIABETES FOR DUMMIES
  THE CARB LOVERS DIET by ELLEN KUNES
Sally should know - she has lived the dream

Click here to buy
50+ Recipes to Lose 50+ kg and Keep it Off
Australian author
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  It is always the right time for a book like this - the 3rd edition of an Australian classic in the field

Click here to buy Diabetes for Dummies
Australian author
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Click for more detail or to buy The Carb Lover's Diet

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The Carb Lover's Diet
Available July 12
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NOT YOUR AVERAGE AUSSIES
Click here for more details or to buy Navy Divers NAVY DIVERS by Gregor Salmon

From the author:
It's kind of Hurt Locker meets Aquaman but it's true. Navy Divers follows the evolution of the Australian Navy clearance divers from the Second World War to present day. In that war, a few highly decorated Australians were among the naval volunteers trained to deal with Germany's super advanced sea mines. During the Blitz these powerful mines were dropped on cities, and it was up to naval personnel to defuse those that hadn't exploded. These same men then developed diving gear to tackle mines underwater. They were then tasked to clear European ports taken by the advancing Allied forces. After the war Australia formed a clearance diving branch and navy divers served in Vietnam, the Gulf War and Iraq.

Presently, divers are part of Australia's counterterrorism special forces, they're on the anti-piracy frontline in the Gulf of Aden and they're in Afghanistan tackling Taliban IEDs. Navy Divers tells the fascinating story behind one of the most highly regarded units in the military world.

To read the rest of our interview with Salmon, click here.

Click here to buy Navy Divers
Australian author
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Click for more detail or to buy Marooned On Mogmog MAROONED ON MOG MOG by Jennifer Barrie

This is the the story of the Australian Family Barrie - our very own modern-day Swiss Family Robinson - who lived to tell the tale of surviving a shipwreck and months stranded on one of the world's most remote islands.  

In early 2010, Jennifer and Andrew Barrie, along with their two young daughters, washed up, literally, on the tiny island of Mogmog in Micronesia.

Having been unable to insure Windrider , the Barries had no choice but to stay on Mogmog while Andrew did painstaking repairs. The family lived without running water or electricity, sleeping for a while on just a concrete slab, eating turtle for dinner and adjusting to the ways of the villagers. For Jen, this meant that she dressed only in a hand-woven skirt - adopting the topless style of the other women on the island - and accepted that Mogmog women are not supposed to do physical work. Life in a tropical paradise, they discovered, isn't always sunshine and coconuts.

Click here to buy Marooned on Mogmog
Australian author
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BLACK SWAN by EILEEN HARRISON
  BROTHERS by ANTIONIO BUTI
  TAMIL TIGRESS by NIROMI DE SOYZA

A powerful memoir from a Koorie artist.

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Black Swan
Australian author
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Click for more detail or to buy Brothers

True crime, Western Australian style

Click here to buy Brothers
Australian author
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A real life insight into the refugee debate - from child soldier to Sydney mother and university lecturer.

Go here for our author interiew.

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Tamil Tigress
Australian author
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THE GREY MAN by JOHN CURTIS
  THE PRICE OF LIFE by NIGEL BRENNAN
  THE LAST PEARL LUGGER by MARK DODD
Click for more detail or to buy The Grey Man

Former Australian military
man and his campaign against the Asian child sex trade.

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The Grey Man
Australian author
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There is huge interest in this one - the story of a Queensland man fighting for his life against Somalian pirates.

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The Price of Life
Australian author
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A very personal, idiosyncratic memoir/adventure of Broome from a notable Australian journalist.

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The Last Pearling Lugger
Australian author
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LIFE CYCLES
Click here for more details or to buy Sexpectations SEXPECTATIONS GIRL by LISSA PITTS & SEXPECTATIONS BOY  by CRAIG MURRAY

If you have teenagers, you want this book. The layout is fantastic, it has heaps of cred and it covers all the information that they want to know but they don't want to know from their parents. How can I tell? My sample copy has disappeared into the wilds of my kids' bedrooms.

From Craig Murray:
Sexpectations aims to fill a few gaps in sexual health education. For too long sex ed has started & finished in contraception and sexually transmitted infections, if you were lucky you'd get some info on puberty but so much is still left out. Having said that there are a heap of amazing programs that address all these and more but there's a lot of folks, young & old, that have missed out on some of the vital info. We hope to talk about sex in a healthy positive way, acknowledging the risks but also celebrating the pleasures of relationships, sex & sexuality.

Go here for our full interview with Murray (and to check out his killer dreds!)

There are a great range of life cycle books being published this month, from tales of first sex, to moving from couplehood to parenthood, to taking a mid-life gap year all the way through to keeping your brain active in old age.

Go here to see the selection.


Click here to buy Sexpectations
Australian author
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SPORT
Click here for more details or to buy A Game To Love A GAME TO LOVE: In Celebration of Tennis by Mike Powell

In a word - stunning. If you are a tennis fan, this is a must. Likewise if you are simply interested in the sporting excellence.

A Game to Love is first and foremost a collection of visually arresting images but it also has contributions from many of the greats - McEnroe, Federer, Agassi, Graf, Laver and more.

We have put internal images from the book here so you can really get a sense of what you are buying.

Click here to buy A Game to Love
Australian author
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MEMOIR
Click here for more details or to buy Stieg and Me STIEG AND ME by Eva Gabrielsson                               Facebook Twitter

Eva Gabrielsson, life partner of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo writer Steig Larsson, has released a tell all book about her life with the writer. There Are Things I Want You To Know About Stieg and Me reportedly tells the story of the life the two shared together before Larson's death at the age of 50 in 2004.

According to a recent radio interview with Gabrielsson, the book recounts Larsson's life saying that readers will be able to know his decision on why he wrote the Millennium series. The book also discusses sensitive topics such as love, loss and death. The 57-year-old revealed that the names of sources who contributed to the series will be released.

The New York Post reports that the couple wrote together in the past. She also announced plans to complete the fourth installment if she gets rights to his work. Although she kept the plot under-wraps, Gabrielsson did say that Lisbeth Salander will be freed from the ghosts of her past in the new book.

Given the popularity of the books, and the films, and the controversy of Larsson's life and death, this take is sure to be fascinating.

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SINGLE WHITE FEMALE AND LIVING IN HANOI by CAROLYN SHINE
  FARANGI GIRL by AHSLEY DARTNELL
  SHAME TRAVELS by JASVINDER

An Australian take on a most unusual predicament.

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Single White Female in Hanoi
Australian author
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A young European woman making her way in Tehran of the 1960s.

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Farangi Girl
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A follow-up memoir from rural Punjab

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Shame Travels
Australian author
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GIRL FROM BAGHDAD by MICHELLE NOURI
  FORBIDDE IN LESSONS IN KABUL by SYRAYA SADEED
  WRESTLING THE HULK by LINDA HOGAN

One woman, three cultures - Arabic, western and communist.

Click here to buy
The Girl from Baghdad
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An amazing story of courage and inspiration.

Click here to buy Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse
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I couldn't resist. Well, she put up with him and she is a force to be reckoned with in her own right.

Click here to buy Wrestling the Hulk
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MISCELLANY


365 WAYS TO MAKE MONEY FROM THE INTERNET by KYLIE OFIU
  MY EVEN MORE WONDERFUL WORLD OF FASHION by NINA CHAKRABARTI
  LANDFALLS by TIM MACKINTOSH-SMITH

This could change your life - in 365 easy, small steps.

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365 Ways to Make Money
Australian author
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Another book for drawing, creating and dreaming, and at this price, it will sell out as quickly as the first one!

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My Even More Wonderful World of Fashion
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Click for more detail or to buy Landfalls

In the footsteps of a 14th century traveller.

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AMAZING FACE by ZOE FORSTER
  SEA DREAMS IN THE ADRIATIC by ROSEMARY AND ROB PETERSWALD
  PAPER FLOW by MARY ANNE BENNIE

We have a couple of clips here for you to see. The official one is slick and interesting but the  Hamish Blake one is good for a laugh.

Click here to buy Amazing Face
Australian author
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Sailing, seafood and wines - the latest in these enviable adventures by our two intrepid Tasmanians.

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Sea Dreams in the Adriatic
Australian author
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Look at the clip here. This book is SO useful.

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Paper Flow
Australian author
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WORTH SPECIAL MENTION
The dividing line between books for children and teens, and books for adults is often very fluid and often not very useful. Two obvious cases in point are the books below.

Go here for full reviews and book details.

In the Sea of Crocodiles is brought to us by David Fickling, the publisher who put John Boyne on the map, with The Boy in Striped Pyjamas - again an enormously satisifying read for people of all ages.

A nonfiction novel, recounted in part from contemporary oral history, In the Sea of Crocodiles introduces us to real life ten-year-old Enaiatollah (Enaiat) Akbari who lives with his mother in Ghazni province, in Afghanistan, and neither one knows his life is about to change forever. One day the Taliban arrive at his school and tell the headmaster to shut it down, but he ignores-or perhaps defies-them. Two days later, the Taliban show up again, put the headmaster within a circle of students and shoot him. Thus begins Enaiat's odyssey from his village, and he's not to settle down again for five long and precarious years.

Soon after the incident at his school, his mother gives her son three pieces of advice-don't use drugs, don't use weapons, don't cheat or steal-and then she takes off, leaving Enaiat to fend for himself. He starts a pattern of relying on traffickers to get him across sundry borders, first to Pakistan, then to Iran, Turkey, Greece and, finally-at the age of 15-Italy, where he's able to get asylum and start school again.

Along the way he has various jobs, mostly selling wares on the streets or working illegally (and dangerously) on construction sites. He also relies on the kindness of strangers, a Greek woman, for example, who clothes him and gives him food and money. And while from an objective perspective Enaiat's life is both unsafe and high-risk, he never loses his innate optimism or his buoyant pluckiness and ingenuity.

There are so many stories of refugees and asylum seekers - for example this month's memoir, Tamil Tigress. Lloyd Jones' Hand Me Down World late last year was a brilliant depiction of the experience of getting from Africa to Germany, but it was very much fiction and it was definitely a book for people with many years of life experience. One marvels that Enaiat has told his life adventure to Italian author Geda, and while the novelist has evidently shaped Enaiat's story for publication, at its core is an authentic, open and marvelous voice of youthful exuberance.

An altogether different kind of book is Melissa Marr's debut adult fiction, Grave Minder. Well known for her teen Wicked Lovlies series, Marr's fascination for the dead has a new twist here in a paranormal romance with a difference. There seems to be an endless appetite for this kind of thing, as the extraordinary success of Lauren Kate's Passion can attest.

Marr is already a NY Times best selling author for younger people. Having just watched her clip here explaining the new book, I am sure her success will translate across to a new older audience.

IN THE SEA OF CROCODILES by FABIO GEDA
THE GRAVEMINDER by MELISSA
Click for more detail or to buy In the Sea Of Crocodiles
A beautiful, heartbreaking novel based on the true story of an Afghan boy's journey in search of a home.

One night before putting him to bed, Enaiatollah's mother tells him three things: don't use drugs, don't use weapons, don't steal. The next day he wakes up to find she isn't there. Ten-year-old Enaiatollah is left alone in Pakistan to fend for himself.
In a book that takes a true story and shapes it into a beautiful piece of fiction, Italian novelist Fabio Geda describes Enaiatollah's remarkable five-year journey from Afghanistan to Italy where he finally managed to claim political asylum aged fifteen. His ordeal took him through Iran, Turkey and Greece, working on building sites in order to pay people-traffickers, and enduring the physical misery of dangerous border crossings squeezed into the false bottoms of lorries or trekking across inhospitable mountains. A series of almost implausible strokes of fortune enabled him to get to Turin, find help from an Italian family and meet Fabio Geda, with whom he became friends.
The result of their friendship is this unique book in which Enaiatollah's engaging, moving voice is brilliantly captured by Geda's subtly simple storytelling. In Geda's hands, Enaiatollah's journey becomes a universal story of stoicism in the face of fear, and the search for a place where life is liveable.

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Click for more detail or to buy Graveminder When Rebekkah returns to her small-town home for her beloved Grandmother's funeral, little does she suspect that she is about to inherit a darkly dangerous family duty on behalf of Claysville's most demanding residents -- the dead. Everyone in Claysville knows that the Barrows are no ordinary family, but no one can really explain why. When respected matriarch Maylene Barrow dies suddenly her granddaughter Rebekkah returns to the small town she grew up in, where she must face the demons of her past -- the suicide of her half-sister Ella, the person she was closest to in the world, and the subsequent break-up of her parents' marriage.
And she also re-encounters Byron, Ella's old boyfriend, someone to whom she has always felt a deep and mysterious connection. But the demons of the past are nothing compared with what the future has in store for Rebekkah. Her grandmother has left her an inheritance both wonderful and terrible.
An onerous responsibility now rests on her shoulders -- one for which she is ill-prepared to say the least. For behind Claysville's community-spirited, small-town facade lies a dark secret. One that ties Rebekkah and Byron together in an inextricable bond, and that will require them both to sacrifice everything to keep their friends and neighbours from harm.

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THE NEXT LITTLE THING - INTRODUCING FLIPBACK EDITIONS
flipbacks - see the entire range hereIf you've ever whined                       FacebookTwitter
about how the e-reader, compact though it may be, doesn't have the look or feel of a nice printed novel - put this in your pipe and read it: the newly invented "flipback" book. Released in Britain this summer, it is being touted as the, er, new Kindle: the tome that's smaller and lighter than an e-reader, but made out of pages, not bytes.

It is all the rage in Holland, where it was introduced in 2009, and has since sold 1m copies. A version has just been launched in Spain, France is next, and the flipback reaches UK shores a couple of weeks ago, when Hodder & Stoughton presented us with a selection of 12 books including David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and Stephen King's Misery.

I am keen to see what the hype is about so I take a pre-released copy on my travels: Chris Cleave's The Other Hand . Nearly 370 pages long in its original format, the flipback version has more than 550 - but still fits easily in my pocket. The book's not called The Other Hand for nothing. It's so small that I can perch it in one fist, and keep my other hand free for shopping. How? The paper is wafer-thin.

"Great for making rollies," says my nicotine-addicted lunch date. More to the point, it's also great for reading. Unlike an ordinary paperback, the book lies open without intervention on my part, due to its special spine.
(From The Guardian).

So much for the overseas hype. Back in Australia, I have been carrying around one of these flipbacks for a couple of days and I have to say they are pretty special. Not much bigger than my iPhone, the flipback is built to last and it doesn't leave you with a dislocated shoulder from lugging it around all day in your handbag. Small and perfectly formed, they are a winner in terms of convenience and style, you get the book holus bolus and with our discounted price, they beat the electronic version hands down.

You can see the range of flipbacks here.
A MONSTER CALLS - BRILLIANT FOR BOTH CHILDREN AND ADULTS
NOVEL BY PATRICK NESS, FROM AN ORIGINAL IDEA BY SIOBHAN DOWD, ILLUSTRATED BY JIM KAY                                                                            FacebookTwitter

You are only young once, but doesn't it go on for a long time, more years than you can bear.


This is not the way my day was supposed to start, waking a couple of hours before dawn and then reading compulsively until I reached sobbing stage at the final few pages of Patrick Ness' stunning new book. As it was, I had been up late having started, and then devoured, this visceral, original tale of love and loss, or rather, the fear or loss.

A Monster Calls reminds us of what the very finest of young adult fiction can be. Its story is both imaginative and grounded, ranging from fantasy to reality. It proceeds with both inevitability and unpredictability. It is both dark and redemptive.

The experience of reading this book is augmented by its presentation. A finely produced hardback with beautiful end papers and dust jacket, the book is liberally peppered with stunning illustrations from pen and ink illustrations from Jim Kay. The illustrations are as integral to the story as the words. There is much to linger over, but I must confess that the tug of the words compelled me to keep turning those pages. Think Monster Blood Tattoo, The Invention of Hugo Cabret and the now sadly unavailable adaptation of Frankenstein by Margrete Lamond and Drähos Zak. To get an idea of what I mean, go here to see some internal page spreads.

That Patrick Ness should write another gripping tale should be no surprise. This much lauded author for young adults (Chaos Walking series) has a huge and growing following, principally because he never thinks of having to go down a register in order to write for younger people - which means of course that adults find his books equally as satisfying. The genesis of A Monster Calls is a story in itself. Ness was approached by Walker Books to flesh out a story from Siobhan Dowd's notes, after the author's sad and premature death from cancer.

"The thing about good ideas is that they grow other ideas", says Ness in explanation.
Click for more detail or to buy A Monster Calls
"Almost before I could help it, Siobhan's ideas were suggesting new ones to me, and I began to feel that itch that every writer longs for: the itch to start getting words down, the itch to tell a story.

"I felt - and feel - as if I've been handed a baton, like a particularly fine writer has given me her story and said Go. Run with it. Make trouble....Here's what Siobhan and I came up with. So go. Run with it. Make trouble."

Run with it we do. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

Click here to buy A Monster Calls
Retail Price: $27.95
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AGES 0 - 16: THE PICK OF THE MID-WINTER RELEASES
Two or three more sleeps to go and it is school holidays. I can't wait.           Facebook Twitter
The joy of not having to iron uniforms and make lunches! Keep an eye on your inbox for all our suggestions for boredom busters for pre-schoolers, children and young adults. You might want to go here to update your newsletter preferences to make sure you always get the emails you want.

Meanwhile, let me give you the cheat's guide to what you need to keep whinging at bay.

guaranteed winner at a great price! - details hereFor boys, you cannot go past the latest in Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series, The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers: Super Diaper Baby 2. You know what you are getting here - hours of ridiculous smutty silliness that will solve all sorts of car trip dramas (except possibly your own having to listen to it all). We have this book at a low, low price - under $10, discounted by 34%. In fact, all of our Captain Underpants are priced to sell.

For picture books for the littlies, I can't decide between the very gorgeous fat cat Fuddles, and Nog and the Land of Noses. Do click here to have a good look at the internal page spreads of Fuddles, and the cute-as-a-button book trailer. He is a delight. As for Nog, it is full of sight gags, word play and puns but beneath it all, it is a classic Bruce Whatley offering - a lovely story about a little nose trying to discover his special purpose in life.

And out of left field is a picture book from Alexander McCall Smith called Precious and the Monkeys. This is none other than Mme Precious Ramotswe of The Number One Ladies Detective Agency fame, here as an eight year old, having her first crack at sleuthing - a must for both kids and Sandy McCall fans alike.

Now, to the teens. I am really excited that Michael Gerard Bauer is finally completing his Ishmael books. He is a great laugh for high school kids (and, from experience, their parents) and Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel looks like it has come in true to form.

From Bookseller + Publisher:
Choices and consequences are two themes subtly explored in Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel , but what really grips the reader are the characters and the friendships that bond them through all kinds of surprising revelations....(Rarely) have I been so beguiled by a teenage narrator's honesty and humour - there's barely a page where I didn't laugh out loud at a unique comment or observation, delivered in a wonderful teen vernacular which the author nails without being condescending.

Finally, what can I say? The Lauren Kate juggernaut continues. She'll be in the country next month so be prepared. Meanwhile, it seems that Passion is the only thing that makes the heart of a teenage girl beat faster (and our thrilling low price of course!).

For further details on these books, click on the jacket images below.

For a much more complete selection click

FUDDLES by FRAN VISCHER
  NOG AND THE LAND OF NOSES by BRUCE WHATLEY
  PRECIOUS AND THE MONKEYS by ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH
Click for more detail or to buy Fuddles

Click here to buy Fuddles
Retail Price: $24.99
Booktopia Price: $17.50 SAVE 30%
 
Click here to buy
Nog and the Land of Noses
Australian author
Retail Price: $26.99
Booktopia Price: $21.95 SAVE 19%
 
  Click for more detail or to buy Precious and The Monkeys

Click here to buy Precious and the Monkeys
Retail Price: $19.95
Booktopia Price: $15.95 SAVE 20%
THE INVASION OF THE POTTY SNATCHERS: SUPER DIAPER BABY 2 by DAV PILKEY
  ISHMAEL AND THE HOOPS OF STEEL by MICHAEL GERARD BAUER
  PASSION by LAUREN KATE

Click here to buy
The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers
Retail Price: $14.99
Booktopia Price: $9.95 SAVE 34%
 
Click here to buy Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel
Australian author
Retail Price: $19.95
Booktopia Price: $15.95 SAVE 20%
 
Click for more detail or to buy Passions

Click here to buy Passion
Retail Price: $24.95
Booktopia Price: $17.95 SAVE 28%
   
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Featured authors from this month's releases include Kylie Ladd, Félix J Palma,Claire Corbett, Sulari Gentill, Alyson Noël, Charlie Carter aka John Heffernan, Craig Murray, Rosalie Ham, Tess Gerritsen, Giorgio Faletti, Niromi de Soyza, Kim McCosker, Stephen Wallenfels, Alan Whitiker, Gregor Salmon and Stuart Daly.


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CRIME, MYSTERY, THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE
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AND LIFE GOES ON

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BESTSELLERS - NOW AVAILABLE IN A CHEAPER FORMAT

  
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SECOND SKIN by INDIA FLINT

more details and internal images here

The marvellous thing about a destination like Booktopia is the breadth and range of books on offer. We have close to four million books on our site, all but a handful of them discounted, all of the time. There is something, literally, for everyone.

India Flint wrote a book sometime ago called Eco Colour: Environmentally Sustainable Dyes. I would have never thought to feature it in Booktopia Buzz. Nonetheless, we sold truck loads.

Now she brings us Second Skin, all about the provenance of clothing and textiles, the re-purposing of them, and the practicalities of having a smaller ecological footprint for all things material.

This is a beautiful book for lovers of both textiles and the environment and we have some gorgeous images here.