Review: The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

We are barely into 2017 and I am already going to call The Cruelty as one of my top ten kids/young adult books for this year! There is really only one word to describe this novel – Kick-ass! Not the most eloquent description I know but it really is like a kick to the stomach that will leave you breathless.

Ten years ago Gwendolyn’s mother was killed right in front of her eyes. Since then it has been just her and her Dad. But nothing is really as it seems. While he is on a ‘business trip’ to Paris Gwendolyn’s father disappears. She is about to find out her loving diplomat father is actually a spy. The kindly old neighbours who she loves like Grandparents are also spies. The problem is everyone seems more concerned that her father may have defected than in actually finding out what has happened to him.

Now the only person Gwendolyn can rely on is herself. And she isn’t going to let anything or anyone get in the way of getting her Dad back. Diving head-first into the seedy European underworld of drugs, violence and prostitution Gwendolyn must decide who to trust and who to hurt. With moves and counter-moves, double-crossing and the danger escalating there is no place for mistakes.

I couldn’t help comparing The Cruelty to my all-time favourite young adult series, The Hunger Games. Not the story lines because they couldn’t be any more different. The strong female leads of Gwendolyn and Katniss, however struck me because of how confronting I found The Cruelty. In the end it all came down to the fact that Gwendolyn goes where Katniss won’t. Katniss shows a reluctance to harm and when she has to it costs her emotionally. Gwendolyn has no such qualms.

This is a coming of age story like no other. Imagine if Jason Bourne was female and sixteen. That just about sums up The Cruelty. Rocketing along at breakneck speeds it will leave you shocked, thrilled and horrified all at the same time. And with the promise of more to come Gwendolyn may be about to do for self-defence classes what Katniss did for archery.

Smart, dangerous, kick-ass (yes, really) and an absolute page-turner, The Cruelty, is sure to be one of the hits of 2017. Look out Katniss – here comes Gwendolyn and she’s about to kick your butt!

Review: Police at the Station and they Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty

Book 6 in the Sean Duffy “trilogy” is an absolute cracker. Each book in this series has gotten better and better and when you consider at what level he kicked the series off with The Cold, Cold Ground that is saying something.

It is 1989 and Sean Duffy must tackle his most complex case yet. A drug dealer has been shot and killed in Belfast. On the surface there is nothing startling about the case in a city where drug patches are drawn along sectarian lines and those that crossover to the wrong patch are swiftly and violently dealt with. However what makes this case different is that the murder weapon is a crossbow. In a country flooded with illegal guns, someone has taken the trouble of using a crossbow to kill their victim. Duffy’s interest is piqued but he is quickly stonewalled by witnesses and the victim’s wife who all know to keep their mouths shut and a murder weapon that is seemingly untraceable. With his new family, the media, special branch and even an IRA hit squad after him something might finally snap for Sean Duffy, that is unless he does what he does best, which is use his wits to fight back.

I have to say I think the Sean Duffy series has to now be ranked as one of the best crime series of all time. How this isn’t a mega-bestseller around the world is beyond me. This is an outstanding series on so many levels; plot, characters, politics, history to name just a few. Once again McKinty keeps the humour deliciously black and has you guessing until the final pages. I was instantly lost in this book and began to dread the book’s ending once I had read beyond the halfway point. I love Sean Duffy as a character and did not want the book to end and I do not want this series to end. Fingers crossed Sean Duffy makes it into the 1990s.


If the previous Sean Duffy novels earned Adrian McKinty the right to belly up to the bar alongside Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, and the other contemporary crime writing greats, Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly guarantees his place at the table forevermore. This is a sophisticated, stylish and engrossing crime thriller, which rips along at a cracking pace, and packs more twists and turns than a street map of Belfast. Not to mention the heart-stopping climax…

Belfast 1988: a drug dealer is found murdered in front of his house, killed with a bolt from a crossbow. Sean Duffy, of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, is called to investigate. Now a family man – girlfriend and baby daughter living at home – Duffy is initially grateful to be working a homicide; something a tad spicier than his recent fare. But solving this case leads Duffy to a confrontation with the dangerous villains he’s ever faced; the kind who won’t just be satisfied ending his life, but those he cares for most deeply. Duffy remains a superbly drawn character, sardonic yet assured, and now struggling to cope with his new responsibilities as a father.

McKinty writes laconic, sophisticated, well-paced thrillers, and Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly is his most refined novel yet. Some authors make you laugh; others make you gasp. McKinty can do both, usually in the space of a couple of paragraphs. His latest is multifaceted, layered, and intense – the kind of novel you’ll blow through in one sitting.

In the past, when interrogated on my favourite crime writers by friends, family, and indeed customers at Pages & Pages, I’ve always said McKinty is up there with the best writers in the business. With Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly he has set down a potentially unsurpassable marker.

Buy the book here…

Review: Police at the Station and they Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty

Book 6 in the Sean Duffy “trilogy” is an absolute cracker. Each book in this series has gotten better and better and when you consider at what level he kicked the series off with The Cold, Cold Ground that is saying something.

It is 1989 and Sean Duffy must tackle his most complex case yet. A drug dealer has been shot and killed in Belfast. On the surface there is nothing startling about the case in a city where drug patches are drawn along sectarian lines and those that crossover to the wrong patch are swiftly and violently dealt with. However what makes this case different is that the murder weapon is a crossbow. In a country flooded with illegal guns, someone has taken the trouble of using a crossbow to kill their victim. Duffy’s interest is piqued but he is quickly stonewalled by witnesses and the victim’s wife who all know to keep their mouths shut and a murder weapon that is seemingly untraceable. With his new family, the media, special branch and even an IRA hit squad after him something might finally snap for Sean Duffy, that is unless he does what he does best, which is use his wits to fight back.

I have to say I think the Sean Duffy series has to now be ranked as one of the best crime series of all time. How this isn’t a mega-bestseller around the world is beyond me. This is an outstanding series on so many levels; plot, characters, politics, history to name just a few. Once again McKinty keeps the humour deliciously black and has you guessing until the final pages. I was instantly lost in this book and began to dread the book’s ending once I had read beyond the halfway point. I love Sean Duffy as a character and did not want the book to end and I do not want this series to end. Fingers crossed Sean Duffy makes it into the 1990s.


If the previous Sean Duffy novels earned Adrian McKinty the right to belly up to the bar alongside Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, and the other contemporary crime writing greats, Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly guarantees his place at the table forevermore. This is a sophisticated, stylish and engrossing crime thriller, which rips along at a cracking pace, and packs more twists and turns than a street map of Belfast. Not to mention the heart-stopping climax…

Belfast 1988: a drug dealer is found murdered in front of his house, killed with a bolt from a crossbow. Sean Duffy, of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, is called to investigate. Now a family man – girlfriend and baby daughter living at home – Duffy is initially grateful to be working a homicide; something a tad spicier than his recent fare. But solving this case leads Duffy to a confrontation with the dangerous villains he’s ever faced; the kind who won’t just be satisfied ending his life, but those he cares for most deeply. Duffy remains a superbly drawn character, sardonic yet assured, and now struggling to cope with his new responsibilities as a father.

McKinty writes laconic, sophisticated, well-paced thrillers, and Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly is his most refined novel yet. Some authors make you laugh; others make you gasp. McKinty can do both, usually in the space of a couple of paragraphs. His latest is multifaceted, layered, and intense – the kind of novel you’ll blow through in one sitting.

In the past, when interrogated on my favourite crime writers by friends, family, and indeed customers at Pages & Pages, I’ve always said McKinty is up there with the best writers in the business. With Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly he has set down a potentially unsurpassable marker.

Buy the book here…

The Best Books of 2016

best-books

The 18 books you need to read this year, as selected by the well-read staff at Boomerang Books (and our 11 year-old reviewer!)

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commonwealth

BEST FICTION

COMMONWEALTH BY ANN PATCHETT

Ann Patchett is fast becoming one of my all-time favourite authors, and Commonwealth takes her talent to a new level, totally engrossing you in the lives of two families who themselves get tangled up over the years due to a few choices of fate.

The novel opens in 1964 at a seemingly innocuous christening party. An uninvited guest arrives bearing a bottle of gin and a chain of events gets set in motion. Patchett jumps around with her timeline and doesn’t immediately follow the most sympathetic characters choosing instead to flesh out the least as you piece together how two completely separate families join together and how a tragic event begins to unwind them apart again.

Ann Patchett has written a novel of immense beauty, charm, sadness and tragedy. She will have you laughing out loud as you read one minute and wiping a tear away the next. This is a book I could have, and still want, to read forever. I did not want it to end so lost I became, not just in the story and the characters Ann Patchett so vividly brings to life, but also in the words and way she tells her story. This book is quite simply marvellous. This is an American Classic in the making.

— Jon Page

dryuBEST CRIME FICTION

THE DRY BY JANE HARPER

A small farming community in the grip of drought is rocked by the murder-suicide of a young local family. Farms are failing, tensions are high and almost no one is surprised that the stress has finally gotten to Luke Hadler. It is his final actions which have filled the town with horror.

Aaron Falk returns to farewell his childhood friend but he’s not welcome. His family were run out of town when Aaron and Luke were just kids and he’s never been back. Questions surrounding a 20 year old suicide and Falk’s part in it are reignited and an already tense situation becomes a tinderbox. The community is split and those who wish Faulk gone are not shy in making their opinions felt. All he wants is the truth and in finding that to maybe bring comfort to Luke’s grieving parents… and to himself. Yet finding the truth among so many secrets and lies is never an easy thing.

Jane Harper vividly portrays the harshness and beauty of the Australian landscape and the small-town prejudices and petty grievances which escalate under the unrelenting Australian sun. The twists and turns will leave you in turns gasping from surprise and then in anticipation as each time you think you have it all worked out and you realise you don’t. This is a page-turner in the truest sense of the word. You will not be able to put this book down.

A single spark is all it will take to ignite a whole town. A single page is all it will take to have you hooked!

— Kate Page

everyone-braveBEST HISTORICAL FICTION

EVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN BY CHRIS CLEAVE

This is a truly wonderful novel that captures the outbreak of the Second World War in London. We follow Mary North, who from the war’s outset, is determined to use this tumultuous time to change the status quo. Mary is from a well to do family and rather than rest on her family name she wants to get involved in the war effort. She signs up immediately with dreams of becoming a spy or being involved in the newly forming war machine. Instead she is assigned as a school teacher and sent off to prepare the school children of London for evacuation. Mary takes this all in her stride and is even more determined to throw herself wholeheartedly into her new vocation.

Through Mary we meet Tom whose job it is to organise the schooling of those not evacuated. We also meet Tom’s roommate Alistair, an art restorer at the Tate, who also signs up immediately and is sent to France. Through Tom and Alistair we explore another side of the war; the guilt of those who stay behind and the transformation of those from civilian to soldier. After surviving the disaster at Dunkirk Alistair is transferred to Malta, where like those in London, he must survive the endless siege from the air of the Germans.

Cleave expertly captures the early days of the war with everybody disbelieving it can possibly be as bad as the government is trying to prepare them for. When the blitz does begin, much to everyone’s shock and sincere disappointment, he skillfully portrays the change of mood and stiff upper lip attitude employed by Londoners to get by. He contrasts all this with Alistair’s experience of the war showing that despite the contrasts between the Homefront and the frontlines there are also many similarities. Survival and sanity the key ones in both. As the war progresses Cleave conveys the steadfastness of this demeanour, both in London and in Malta, despite everything that happens to the contrary.

This is a truly amazing novel that left me shattered at many different moments. I haven’t read such an original take on the Second World War like this since Life After Life and A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, and those were both streets ahead of any other novel of the last ten to fifteen years. Cleave captures the spirit of a people so subtly and honestly and how that spirit is harnessed in order to survive. The sense of humour in the book is pitch perfect; dark, sardonic, self-deprecating, infused with camaraderie. At the same time Cleave also shows the darker side of human behaviour.

— Jon Page

 secret-recBEST ROMANCE

THE SECRET RECIPE FOR SECOND CHANCES BY J.D. BARRETT

Lucy’s husband is a liar, a cheat and a recipe stealer so she is leaving him and their popular Sydney restaurant. The only problem is she has no money and no idea what comes next! When she stumbles across the dilapidated remains of the once famous Woolloomoloo restaurant, Fortune, it feels like fate. Except there is a catch – and he’s moody and handsome with a penchant for women. Which is exactly what she doesn’t need. With a lovable, quirky cast of characters JD Barrett’s debut is a little bit Mostly Martha and a little bit Ratatouille!

— Kate Page

dark-matterBEST SCIENCE FICTION

DARK MATTER BY BLAKE CROUCH

Dark Matter is an unabashed science fiction thriller. If the thought of multi-dimension travel – of our protagonist traversing alternate worlds – is too much of a leap from the grounded reality in which you prefer your fiction, okay, fair enough, perhaps this one’s not for you. But for everybody else, willing and able to suspend their disbelief, and accept the parameters of Crouch’s fiction, Dark Matter is a relentless and thrilling ride. What glues it together – what makes this novel work – is its heart. Dark Matter is a love story – punctuated with action and science fiction elements, certainly – but its romantic core, one man’s desire to reunite with his wife and son, is what makes the novel tick along.

Dark Matter is about the roads not taken. It’s about the choices we make – those large, momentous decisions we identify as important, and the smaller ones we barely recognise. Jason Dessen chose his family over his career as a physicist; so too his wife Daniela, who gave up her dream of being an artist. It’s not a decision they regret – they’re a content family unit, blessed with a teenage son – but inevitably there are moments when they wonder what might have been. And thanks to the Jason Dessen from an alternate reality – a world in which he focused on his career in science rather than his family, and created a multidimensional travel device – our Jason is about to discover what might’ve been.

Crouch sends Dessen to a range of close-but-not quite realities as he attempts to find his journey home, to his wife, to his son. In putting Dessen through such an emotional rollercoaster we bear witness to some truly gut-wrenching and poignant scenes. And just when you think the novel’s demonstrated all it’s got to offer – that Crouch is leading readers down a thrilling, but somewhat routine path as Dessen attempts to return to his world – he throws a curveball; an unforeseen plot twist that raises the states even higher, and propels the narrative through to its fitting climax.

Plenty of fiction has explored the idea of multidimensional travel, but rather than focus on the science, Dark Matterkeeps the reader riveted because of its heart. How far is one man willing to go to reunite with his family? How much can he witness before he loses himself? You’ll tear through Dark Matter in one sitting to find out. Truly, it’s one of the best thrillers I’ve read in years.

— Simon McDonald

fireman-joe-hillBEST HORROR

THE FIREMAN BY JOE HILL

Cormac McCarthy’s literary masterpiece The Road presents a hopeless, post-apocalyptic world navigated by an adult and a child. The specifics of the extinction event are not clarified. It doesn’t matter why society crumbled, just that it has, because all that matters for its populace now is survival. The Road is a novel about the repercussions of the unspecified catastrophe that decimated society; decidedly post-crisis. Joe Hill’s The Fireman takes a different route, set at the very beginning of society’s decline, as the Dragonscale pandemic seizes hold, drawing patterns on people’s skin and eventually literally igniting them, causing them to spontaneously combust. Whereas the characters in The Road are surrounded by nothing but absolute despair, in The Fireman trappings of pre-pandemic lives still exist; tangible reminders of what once was. Both worlds are perpetually dangerous and unpredictable. And both novels are hallmarks of the narrative malleability of the post-apocalyptic concept.

Though operatic in scope, The Fireman is centred firmly around Harper Grayson, a school nurse who becomes a volunteer at her local hospital when society starts to decay, and school becomes a thing of the past. When Harper discovers she, too, is infected by Dragonscale — and pregnant! — she vows to bring her baby safely into the world. Her husband Jakob has other ideas, disgusted by the mere thought of bringing another human into a world such as this, and attacks Harper, determined to abort her life and their child’s. During her escape she encounters John Rockwood — the near-mythical figure known as The Fireman — who welcomes her into a secluded camp of infected survivors, who have learned to control their infection. Jakob, meanwhile, joins the Cremation Crews; marauders who kill the infected on sight. Thus, the board is set, the terrain unknown. Husband and wife are destined to meet again; the question is, in what circumstances?

Survival in a Dragonscale-infected world is unglamorous, and Joe Hill doesn’t pull any punches as he exposes readers to the bleak reality of a world beginning its rapid spiral. He showcases a warped evangelical religion based on ‘the bright’ – an aftereffect of the Dragonscale infection – and demonstrates, as these types of stories so often do, that man’s greatest threat to its own survival is itself rather than the wider crisis. The characters that populate these pages are diverse and vibrant, with distinct follies and histories. Harper is an empathetic heroine, far stronger than we (and she) first realise; desperately clinging onto survival against all odds, as everything she’s ever known degenerates. The Fireman is a mammoth tome: to work, it needs a superior protagonist, and Hill has granted his readers a supremely memorable one.

The Fireman is Joe Hill’s most ambitious novel yet, and will inevitably be compared to his father’s seminal work. The thing is, these comparisons are warranted. Hill’s latest novel is indeed reminiscent of Stephen King’s greatest work – but never derivative. Like King, Hill is a master storyteller – it’s in his blood, clearly – and this novel elevates him into a new literary stratosphere. It has been a long, long time since I was last able to lose myself in an epic like this.

— Simon McDonald

mothersBEST DEBUT

THE MOTHERS BY BRIT BENNETT

The Mothers is an outstanding debut novel: an engaging, poignant, and thought-provoking read about the importance of motherhood, and the hardships faced by girls who don’t have a female figure in their lives to help guide them. Bennett’s novel explores friendship, the impact of secrets, and the consequences of disloyalty, as three teenagers grow into young adults. Most importantly, it bestows insight into the lives of middle-class people of colour; a viewpoint I’ve rarely seen explored in all my years reading fiction, which is possibly my own fault — I don’t go looking for such stories, when I really should — but equally, such stories don’t seem to be published, which says a lot about the state of the industry, sure, but also about readers’ willingness to read such tales. As author Angela Flournoy put it in a New York Times article: “Writing about ordinary black people is actually extraordinary. It’s absolutely its own form of advocacy.” That’s the point, I think: teenagers Nadia, Luke and Aubrey could easily be characters of any race. Their coming-of-age story — their interwoven destinies — has nothing to do with their race.

Few novels are as poetically searing as Brit Bennett’s The Mothers. Few books are able to say so much with so little. These three teens are united by the hardships they’ve already been exposed to: Nadia’s mother committed suicide, leaving no note, no explanation; Luke’s promising football career was ended by a freak injury; and Aubrey was forced away from home because of her abusive stepfather. When Nadia learns she’s carrying Luke’s baby, she decides not to keep it; Luke reluctantly scrounges the money for the abortion. It becomes their secret, which endures, leakily, for decades; it brings them together and tears them apart, time and time again, trailing them into adulthood. Even though I sensed where the story was headed, and the heartbreak that awaited, I couldn’t put the book down. I was crushed, repeatedly, by the ill-fated decisions made by the trio; but I continued reading, hoping for the best.

The eponymous “mothers” of the Upper Room church community serve as the novel’s narrator — their introspection frames Bennett’s novel — but if I’m honest, the conceit feels a little forced and unnecessary. There’s no need for the meta narrative, and it can be a tad intrusive at times; but in no way does it detract from the brilliance of Bennett’s debut.

Truly one of my favourite books of the year.

— Simon McDonald

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homo-deusBEST NON-FICTION

HOMO DEUS BY YUVAL NOAH HARARI

The author of Sapiens — also a must-read — returns with another enthralling work of potent brain fuel. Seriously, whatever Yuval Noah Harari writes, I will read. And I’m not a guy who reads a ton of non-fiction.

This time, Harari explains humanity’s rise and ponders our future. He poses that humanism is the dominant ideology of the modern age, but warns it carries the seeds of its own destruction.  Homo Deus is less of a prophecy and more of a conversation: what sort of future do we want? Human nature will be transformed in the 21st century — into what? 

Whether or not you agree with Harari’s assertions and proclamations, his latest work is highly captivating.  Will his outlandish visions come to pass? Well, who knows? But the very idea of it’s possibility — that it might happen — is chilling.

— Simon McDonald

paul-ham-paschBEST HISTORY

PASSCHENDAELE BY PAUL HAM

Paul Ham reaffirms his status as one of the best current Australian historians writing today, taking his astute eye to the devastating battle of Passchendaele. This is not a history book solely about Australia’s involvement in the Flanders campaign of 1917. This is an all-encompassing look at the events and the situation that led to the battle and the wholesale slaughter of over half a million men. Ham combs through the histories and memoirs of those involved on both sides and all ranks, wading through the lies and falsehoods, myths and legends, excuses and justifications that have festered over the decades to put together a picture of a battle that somehow exceeded the horrors of The Somme and Verdun only a year before.

Paul Ham primarily explores how a toxic relationship between Prime Minister Lloyd George and Field Marshall Douglas Haig allowed an offensive to go ahead whose only true goal was absolute attrition. He shows how the lessons learned during the butchery of The Somme about tactics (tactics that could preserve men’s lives and actually gain ground;  the creeping barrage, bite and hold) were not employed due to the weather and in some cases battles went ahead with no artillery support at all. Ham demonstrates that the immense casualties on both sides were not some catastrophe or blunder of leadership but planned for, expected and deemed necessary and shows how those in a position to stop the carnage did nothing, putting personal grievances ahead of the lives of over 500,000 men.

This is a book not only for all Australians to read but New Zealanders, Britons, French and Germans as well. Paul Ham puts this battle and consequently The First World War in its context of the time, not some revisionist context in light of subsequent events and conflicts. This a cutting, insightful and moving look at one of the bloodiest and most futile battles of the First World War.

— Jon Page

hate-raceBEST MEMOIR

THE HATE RACE BY MAXINE BENEBA CLARKE

I don’t read short story collections and I certainly never read biographies or memoirs. Maxine has now blown me away writing both. She has been described as “a powerful new voice in Australian literature”. I’d like to make a few adjustments to that quote. Maxine Beneba Clarke is the powerful voice of Australian literature. Reading Foreign Soil was like being introduced to a raw power. Like most short story collections there were stories that burst out of the book and others that slowly simmered but in every story Maxine’s power as a writer was apparent and you came away from the collection knowing that when she turned her attention to one subject, one narrative for a whole book, it was going to be something to behold. And that is exactly what she had done with The Hate Race turning her attention on herself and her childhood growing up in Western Sydney.

Maxine recounts the story of her parent’s emigration to Australia from England in the early days after The White Australia policy was dismantled by The Whitlam Government of the 1970s. She tells her story growing up in Western Sydney as one of the few families of colour and the systemic, casual, overt and unrelenting racism she had to deal with from kindergarten through to high school; from teachers, parents and classmates alike. She shows how that affected her, how that changed her, how that made her who she is and how it unmade who she is. At times it is painful to read and at other times infuriating. Anger that is tempered by your own shame when you remember similar incidents from your own childhood growing up where you looked the other way, did or said nothing or maybe even contributed in one way or another through your own ignorance of what was going on around you and the pain it was causing. Maxine recounts all this with humour, humility and honesty.

For anyone who thinks Australia isn’t a racist country, read this book. For anyone who thinks casual racism isn’t hurtful, read this book. For anyone who thinks Australia has changed a lot in the last 30 years, read this book. For anyone that has ignored a racist comment because they haven’t wanted to get involved, read this book. For anyone who wants to know what Australia is really like, read this book.

There are books that are often described as important. It is a phrase that can get thrown about a bit too much and it’s true meaning gets lost or is diminished. But every now and then a book comes along that makes you sit up. A book that quite literally takes your breath away. Sucks it out of you and it is not until you stop reading that you truly notice what the book has done. A book that opens your eyes to something you knew was there but have failed to really acknowledge. A book that confronts you with its honesty and raw emotion. A book you wish everybody around you would read so that they too can have the same realization. A book like that is important. Maxine Beneba Clarke has written a very important book. An extraordinary book. A truly remarkable and powerful book. A book I hope as many people as possible will read.

— Jon Page

cooks-tableBEST COOKBOOK

THE COOK’S TABLE BY STEPHANIE ALEXANDER

In this milestone book, The Cook’s Table, Stephanie Alexander shares some of her favourite menus, most precious memories, and decades of experience in the kitchen, to make any dinner party you are planning a special occasion.

Featuring 25 menus ranging from far and wide to close at hand, Stephanie begins each menu with an introduction, sharing the particular moments from her life that inspired each one. From trips to Peru, Italy and Istanbul to memories such as creating a ground breaking Valentine’s Day menu at Stephanie’s Restaurant and remembering Elizabeth David.

Each menu provides a meticulous timetable for the cook, starting days leading up to your dinner party, to the morning of, right up to minutes before your guests arrive. The essence of Stephanie’s planning is to be away from the table as little as possible, so as not to miss out on those valuable moments and stories shared with friends and family.

Every dish in this book can be successfully made by a careful home cook. They are seasonally minded and cater to modern palates while respecting traditional methods and flavours. The vibrant photography from acclaimed photographer Mark Chew bring Stephanie’s wonderful menus to life.

The Cook’s Table will sit alongside all your other Stephanie Alexander favourites to be read, shared, cooked from and enjoyed for years to come.

patienceBEST GRAPHIC NOVEL

PATIENCE BY DANIEL CLOWES

In Daniel Clowes’s Patience, things go terribly awry when Jack Barlow attempts to travel through time to circumvent his wife’s murder.

In 2012, mere days after discovering he is going to be a father, Jack returns home from his dead-end job and finds Patience sprawled out on their living room floor. Immediately the police’s number one suspect, when Jack is eventually cleared of the crime, he makes it his life’s mission to avenge his wife’s death. Patience was the one good thing in life. Without her, he has nothing.

But things don’t quite go as Jack planned. When the book smash-cuts to 2029 we find a much harder, far more jaded – and older, obviously – Jack Barlow sitting in a futuristic bar, relaying his crapped out life to a barman. He never avenged Patience – though he tried, the crime remains unsolved – and the passing of time has only further sullied his soul. A chance encounter with a hooker leads to his discovery of a time machine, and the concoction of a new plan: why take vengeance when he can eradicate the entire event from the timeline?

Like everything else Jack touches though, he ends up making more of a mess of things. As he bears witness to key events in Patience’s teenage years – learning about the multiple hardships and abusers she encountered – his incessant interventions start affecting the timeline. And veteran science fiction readers, and those schooled on time travel will know: it’s not a good idea to mess with what’s come before, because there’s no telling where the new chips might fall.

Part science fiction epic, part love story, Patience brims with heart and soul. Clowes’s focus on the emotions of his characters rather than the physics of time travel elevates the book above stories of a similar ilk. While Jack’s quest to change the timeline is the book’s driving force, it’s the insights into Patience’s youth that proves the most captivating aspect. Truly a stunning graphic novel, and a worthy addition to Daniel Clowes’s collection of stunning masterworks. This sits proudly alongside Adrian Tomine’s Killing and Dying as one of the best graphic novels of the year.

— Simon McDonald

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deep-blueBEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK

WORDS IN DEEP BLUE BY CATH CROWLEY

This is a beautiful book about love, loss, literature and growing up.

After moving away and losing touch with her friends, Rachel Sweetie returns to town. She is working at Howling Books, grieving for her brother Cal, and trying not to be in love with Henry Jones.

— Talie Gottlieb



fennBEST BOOK FOR YOUNG READERS

FENN HALFIN AND THE FEARZERO BY FRANCESCA ARMOUR-CHELU

One of my passions as a bookseller is reading fantastic kids books. I have always felt that some children’s books are have better storylines than adult books. Fenn Halflin and the Fearzero is one of those titles.

Fenn Halflin has spent his life hidden away in the swamplands with his Grandfather. He longs for the freedom to live in the world outside – to have a bit of excitement in his life. The world however is not safe and he is in danger if anyone finds out about him.

Water levels are rising and land is becoming scarce. The land dwellers have built a wall and without a permit no Seafarer is allowed to live on land. Life is tough. Resources are dwindling and the dreaded Terra Firma, under the control of their leader Chilstone, patrol the waterways destroying boats always searching for something (or someone). The Resistance was crushed years ago but there is a rumour of a baby that escaped Chilstone’s clutches. They say this baby might save them all.

Francesca Armour-Chelu has created a world at once recognisable, yet not. Fenns world could be a very real future for us all if we continue to ignore the environmental damage we are creating. I am not normally a fan of kids books that deal with “Issues” however, Francesca explores the themes of migration, refugees, the uneven distribution of the world’s resources and global warming with subtlety. Kids will read Fenn Halflin and the Fearzero purely as a great adventure story but hopefully subconsciously they might take away some ideas about how we need to look after our planet and the people on it in equal measures.

Fenn Halflin and the Fearzero is a rollicking adventure story which had me completely hooked from the very first chapter! Resistance fighters, bad guys, kids using their wits to outsmart evil adults, friendship, sacrifice, and fulfilling ones destiny – Fenn Halflin and the Fearzero is at times part Mad Max, part Oliver Twist and part Waterworld. I absolutely cannot wait for part two to find out the conclusion of this thrill-ride of a book.

— Kate Page


OUR ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD BOOK REVIEWER RECOMMENDS….

turners-1THE TURNERS BY MICK ELLIOTT

On his thirteenth birthday, Leo grows a tail and turns into a Komodo Dragon in the middle of the library! He finds out that he is a Turner, and can turn into any animal he thinks of, but must keep it a secret! He must fight Vipermen, hairless hamsters and flesh eating pigs! I enjoyed this so much and it was very funny, too! I couldn’t put it down!

turners-2THE TURNERS: CAMP FREAKOUT BY MICK ELLIOTT

Leo has finally persuaded Vernon and Abbie to go to school camp, but he soon finds out that it’s a big mistake! Disgusting camp foods (which might be poisonous), turnimals (animals that can turn!), a strange shy boy and nasty bullies. Will Leo survive the horrors of school camp?

The Turners are in danger! An evil mastermind has made a monster race and Leo is the secret ingredient to finish these horrible monsters! Will he stop the fiendish plot? Find out in the 2nd book in this awesome series!

I loved this book even more than the first one! The Turners Camp Freakout is such a funny adventure and I couldn’t put it down! It has a surprise twist at the end AND a cliffhanger til book 3! This series is truly amazing! The turnimals are a very creative idea and it came at the perfect time – just before most schools go for camp! I can’t wait for book 3 to find out what happens next to Leo, Abbie and the rest of the turners whose secret lives are at stake!

— Molly (age 11)


rabbit-and-bearBEST BOOK FOR EARLY READERS

RABBIT AND BEAR BY JULIAN GOUGH AND JIM FIELD

They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but it’s hard not to when you see this fabulously illustrated book!

It’s my favourite children’s book of the year because of the laugh-out-loud, fun, tale of friendship, not to forget a little bit of poo. Young children will delight in this new series (the second book is out in January 2017) brimming with humour and adventure, with a wild fox chase, snow men and avalanches.

— Jan Ekins

ada-twistBEST PICTURE BOOK

ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST BY ANDREA BEATTY

It only takes a few seconds to fall in love with this curious little girl. Inspired by scientists, Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, Ada Marie Twist starts exploring the world around her as soon as she turns three. Ada’s constant questions and curiosity teaches children that the most effective way to know the world is through exploration and asking questions. Similar to Iggy Peck, Architect and Rosie Revere, Engineer, Ada inspires children to follow their intuition and be creative. Ada Twist, Scientist is among the few examples of picture books that wisely depicts a powerful passionate girl who wants to learn more about science.

— Mahsa Salamati


WHAT WERE YOUR FAVOURITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR?

Review: So Say the Fallen by Stuart Neville

Stuart Neville is a crime writer at the absolute top of his game at the moment and is doing things in the crime genre few others would attempt. After bursting onto the scene with The Twelve, an IRA hitman thriller with a supernatural edge, Neville has challenged himself and the crime genre with each subsequent book. I thought he hit the heights with his historical crime novel Ratlinesbut his new series featuring DCI Serena Flanagan has gone to new levels of brilliance.

In the first DCI Serena Flanagan novel, Those We Left Behind, Neville created a crime thriller that skillfully demonstrated that a crime story doesn’t ever end. The effects are always long-lasting and neither truth nor justice can ever provide the closure required by those left behind. Neville again shows this when we catch up with DCI Flanagan in the new novel with the events of that novel continuing to have ramifications on both her professional and personal lives.

9781910701522The second DCI Flanagan novel deals with a classic tale of the crime genre; a wife and her lover knocking off her husband, killing him to make it look like suicide, with the wife set to inherit a fortune. But Neville plays this story out with a couple of differences. Firstly as a reader we know straight up it is a murder not suicide. There is no mystery to unravel. We know who is guilty and it is up to DCI Flanagan to work out if there has been foul play or not. Secondly, the lover is a priest. Neville plays all this out while DCI Flanagan struggles to keep her family together while giving her job the dedication she knows it requires.

I never thought a crime novel without a central mystery could be so tense and page-turning. I surprised myself a number of times with how much I got sucked into this novel. The way Neville explores the burden placed on a detective is superb and an angle that has fallen into cliché in too many other crime novels. The tension of the story also builds unawares, on both sides of the story, as Neville tells the story from both the detective and the killers’ points of view with completely different tension on both sides that all comes to a dramatic head by the end of the novel.

Those Left Behind was an outstanding piece of crime fiction. Unfortunately as the story dealt with two teenage boys handselling the book proved a challenge. Hopefully with this new book passionate crime readers will discover a fantastic new series that is doing things in the crime genre few others are attempting and fewer still are able to pull off. If you haven’t read Stuart Neville yet now is the time to start.


Last year I called Stuart Neville’s Those We Left Behind “a true hallmark of the genre,” and have spent the months since its release desperate to read his next. You know what it’s like when the shadow of an absolutely brilliant crime novel casts over subsequent books in your reading stack: oh, there’s stuff there you’ll enjoy, but nothing quite matches up to the quality of that effervescent goliath.  So when an ARC of the second Serena Flanagan novel dropped in my lap, it was very much a case of drop everything and read! Expectations were high — hyperbolic, in fact — and I felt a slight twinge that I’d placed too much of a burden on Neville’s shoulders. I hadn’t, though. Like its predecessor, So Say the Fallen is a brilliant crime novel, and further underlines Stuart Neville’s credentials as one of the best contemporary crime writers.

When So Say the Fallen opens, DCI Serena Flanagan is still dealing with the fallout from her last major case, detailed in Those We Left Behind (which I won’t delve into here – this is a safe place, readers, free from spoilers). Suffice to say, her home life is suffering as a result, and the breakdown of her marriage seems imminent. The new case thrust into her hands doesn’t appear to have the same significance: a severely disabled local businessman has committed suicide, and Flanagan is called to the scene to sign off on the cause of death. The scene is clean, and all evidence points to suicide – but something about the businessman’s widow troubles Flanagan. So too the edginess of the reverend, with whom the widow is suspiciously close to. Despite the wishes of her superiors, Flanagan digs deeper, unravelling the tragedies that have plagued the widow’s life — and eventually the cold, dark truth.

9780099578383 (1)Faith plays an integral role in So Say the Fallen —both the reverend’s, and Flanagan’s — and it’s a theme that is explored with incredible deftness. I’m always wary of being preached to when religion pops up in books, but nothing like that is evident here; it’s beautifully unobtrusive, and adds a new layer to Neville’s protagonist. At multiple points during this story, Flanagan finds herself questioning her path, and trying to fill a void in her life: faith in a higher power would go some way to restoring her. It’s not as cut-and-dried as that, of course – but I truly admire Neville’s willingness to dive into the subject.

In terms of narrative structure, So Say the Fallen isn’t so much a whodunit — we know the truth, or at least shades of it, very early on in the piece —but an extrapolation of motive. Indeed, motive is the driving force behind the novel, as Neville seeks to answer what inspires Flanagan to put her life on the line – and the sanctity of her family – every single day; why does the reverend continue to preach, given the dissipation of his own faith; why would a disabled businessman, who had apparently accepted his fate, suddenly decide to end his own life? This is less a novel of who, but rather, why. And it offers a nice change of pace from the archetypal mysteries clogging bookstore shelves.

So Say the Fallen is a damn fine novel, blending high personal stakes and character depth alongside traditional genre elements. Without question it will rank as one of the best crime novels I read this year. Anything that tops it will have to absolutely blow my socks off. It’s really that good.

Buy So Say the Fallen Here…

Buy Those We Left Behind Here…

Stephenie Meyer’s first thriller, THE CHEMIST, to be published in November

ChemistBig news, book lovers! Bestselling author Stephenie Meyer’s first thriller, The Chemist, will be published worldwide on November 15, 2016.

According to Meyer, “The Chemist is the love child created from the union of my romantic sensibilities and my obsession with Jason Bourne/Aaron Cross. I very much enjoyed spending time with a different kind of action hero, one whose primary weapon isn’t a gun or a knife or bulging muscles, but rather her brain.”

As for the official blurb:

In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life. She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning. Now she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon. When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the in-formation she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous. Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds her-self falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

In this tautly plotted novel, Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she’s one of the world’s bestselling authors.

Sounds like blockbuster material! Will you be reading it?

Guest Post by L.A. Larkin, author of ‘Devour’

Devour front coverThank you to Boomerang Books for inviting me to write a blog post to celebrate the launch of my latest action and conspiracy thriller, Devour. I’d like to share with you a little about the inspiration for Devour, which is primarily set in Antarctica.

‘Three kilometres beneath the camp, subglacial Lake Ellsworth, and whatever secret it may hold, is sealed inside a frozen tomb.’
Devour

Devour was inspired by real events in Antarctica, in December 2012. A British expedition, led by Professor Martin Siegert, set up camp on a remote ice sheet. Their mission? To drill down through three kilometres of ice to reach a subterranean lake, known as Lake Ellsworth. They believed that in that lake, cut off from the rest of the world for centuries, in total darkness, they would find life never before seen, known as extremophiles, because they can survive such hazardous conditions. Sadly, the team did not manage to reach the buried lake and called off the expedition. But, the question remains: what if there is ancient life down there? And, for me as an author, the big question is: what if bringing this life-form to the surface has unexpected and devastating consequences? This is the premise of my novel.

The central character of Devour, and future books in the series, is Olivia Wolfe, an investigative journalist who travels the world exposing crimes, conspiracies and corruption. This makes her unpopular with some powerful and dangerous people. But Wolfe is resourceful and resilient, and she knows how to defend herself, thanks to training from a retired detective and martial artist, Jerry Butcher. When Wolfe is sent to Antarctica by her editor to look into claims of sabotage and murder by scientists at Camp Ellsworth, she little realises she will become the target of an assassin and the ally of a man the Russian military wants dead.

I was inspired to create Olivia Wolfe by a real investigative journalist, Marie Colvin, who reported from war zones for The Sunday Times in London. Colvin was tragically killed in the bombardment of Homs in Syria in 2012. Whilst Wolfe bears no resemblance to Colvin, I hope my fictional character demonstrates some of the amazing courage shown by Colvin during her reporting career.

They say that life is often stranger than fiction. A few days ago, I read an online blog post on The Daily Beast, in which it seems that evidence has surfaced confirming journalists like Marie Colvin were deliberately targeted by the Syrian Government, which may indeed have been responsible for her death. So the conspiracy continues.

Devour is published by Constable / Hachette Australia.

Buy the book here…

Boomerang Books Staff Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

DRYThe Dry is one of those books that got the whole team at Boomerang Books singing – and all to the same tune. This is a book we love, and can’t recommend highly enough. Here’s what we thought:

KATE SAYS:

As a bookseller you get sent literally hundreds of reading copies from publishers on a yearly basis so you get very good at choosing which books you will read and which ones you won’t. I’ve just come back into the industry after a ten year break. As a result my reading pile has gone from a very manageable 4-5 books that I planned to get around to at some point to a towering pile of “I have to read these now”!

When Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry, turned up in the mail I looked at its bright red cover with the bold claim that it was one of the best books of 2016 and thought- I’ve got at least three other books in my pile claiming exactly the same thing. Then I opened the cover because I wanted to know – was it true?

I shouldn’t have started it because Jon was already reading it and it wasn’t my turn. I only planned to read the first couple of paragraphs. Except that I didn’t. Because I couldn’t stop. So I read 4 chapters and when Jon found out I was in big trouble!! Then we had to negotiate…. it got messy. We took turns.

A small farming community in the grip of drought is rocked by the murder-suicide of a young local family. Farms are failing, tensions are high and almost no one is surprised that the stress has finally gotten to Luke Hadler. It is his final actions which have filled the town with horror.

Aaron Falk returns to farewell his childhood friend but he’s not welcome. His family were run out of town when Aaron and Luke were just kids and he’s never been back. Questions surrounding a 20 year old suicide and Falk’s part in it are reignited and an already tense situation becomes a tinderbox. The community is split and those who wish Faulk gone are not shy in making their opinions felt. All he wants is the truth and in finding that to maybe bring comfort to Luke’s grieving parents….and to himself. Yet finding the truth among so many secrets and lies is never an easy thing.

Jane Harper vividly portrays the harshness and beauty of the Australian landscape and the small-town prejudices and petty grievances which escalate under the unrelenting Australian sun. The twists and turns will leave you in turns gasping from surprise and then in anticipation as each time you think you have it all worked out and you realise you don’t. This is a page-turner in the truest sense of the word. You will not be able to put this book down. The Dry will be one of the best books of 2016.

A single spark is all it will take to ignite a whole town. A single page is all it will take to have you hooked!

JON SAYS:

This book needs to come with a warning. Make that two warnings. First, once you start this book you will not be able to stop. It is totally addictive. The last book I tore through like this was Gone Girl and The Dry is it’s equal in nearly every way. The second warning this book needs is that people are going to steal it off you. Twice while reading this book I had the book taken from me and twice I had to pry it out of those people’s hands to get it back (deals were done, promises made, all in an effort to get the book back!).

There is already a huge amount of hype around this book. It won the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript and was the subject of a bidding war between publishers. The film rights have already been optioned by Reese Witherspoon (who is proving to have exceptional taste in books). The advanced reading copies have been sent out six months in advance with the cover proclaiming it “the book of the year 2016”. I am a huge cynic when it comes to statement like that from publishers but let me tell you, everything you hear and will hear about this book will be true. This book is amazing, addictive and will have you gripped, not just until the final page but the very last word.

The Dry is set in the small rural township of Kierwarra. A town on the brink after two years of drought which is rocked to its core after the murder/suicide of a farmer and his family. Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to the town to attend the funeral. Aaron and his family left twenty years ago vowing never to return. His return stirs up discontent that is already swirling through the town. When he begins to take a closer look at the circumstances surround this horrific crime his presence and his digging hits a raw nerve with many who thought they’d seen the last of Aaron Falk and will do anything to keep it that way.

Jane Harper’s narrative sinks it’s teeth into you from the prologue and never lets go. She keeps you constantly guessing about what really happened and who is and isn’t involved. Each chapter leaves you dying to find out what happens next and more than one chapter will end with you gasping out loud. The closer you get to the book’s conclusion the whiter your knuckles holding the book become as the suspense builds and builds. The brutal heat that engulfs the town also permeates every page as does the petty-mindedness that comes from a small town and with a long history of grievances and its own sense of justice.

This is an incredible debut that would be the envy of many established writers. I can’t wait for this book to hit the shelves. It is going to be huge and deservedly so. The Dry is undoubtedly one of the books of 2016 and I can’t wait to see if anything else gets close.

THE_DRY_PaP_banner_620x240px_BUY (2)

SIMON SAYS:

You’re going to think I’ve lapsed into hyperbole, ladies and gentlemen, but the truth is, I’ve anything but. In fact, I’m cutting right to the chase, because if you take only one thing away from this review it should be this: until further notice, Jane Harper’s The Dry is the year’s best achievement on the Australian crime writing scene. As far as debuts go, it’s one of the best I’ve read — ever. And as a (newly reappointed) bookseller, it’s a book I can’t wait to put in people’s hands and hearing their reactions the next time they’re in store; probably the next day, because it’s the kind of novel that’ll induce an acute case of binge-reading.

The small rural town of Kierwarra is on the brink. Haunted by its past, and more recently impacted by two years of severe drought, the town is struck by an even greater tragedy following the murder / suicide of a farmer and his family. Federal police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood best friend, and his presence immediately stirs latent discontent and animosity amongst certain folk. He might now carry a badge, but there are plenty of people in Kierwarra who’ve never forgotten, and certainly never forgiven Falk, following the suspicious death of another childhood friend. Now he’s back, and digging deeper into the murder/suicide, and unearthing the town’s dark secrets from its past and present.

From its prologue, The Dry latches hold of the reader and doesn’t let up. Aaron Falk remains an enigmatic protagonist throughout; on the one hand, we support his mission for the truth; on the other, we’re forced us to question his involvement in the death of his friend years ago. The plot twists with an assuredness that belies Jane Harper’s ‘greenhorn’ status as a novelist. Her years as a journalist have clearly stripped away the common mistakes made by debut authors. There is a sparseness to her prose, which is complimented by characterisation and a plot of great depth. Frankly, if her writing was any sharper, it would cut.

The Dry is a stylish, compulsive whodunit that will keep even the sagest mystery reader asking questions until the very last page. And by then, you’ll be gasping.

Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

We’re huge fans of Joe Hill’s new book The Fireman. With echoes of Justin Cronin’s The Passage, M. R. Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, it’s an epic unlike any we’ve seen this year, and definitely a must-read. Here’s what the team’s had to say:

Jon’s Review

9780575130722 (1)I am a sucker for a good end of the world novel but in recent years as there have been more and more of these stories published there have been less and less of them that have grabbed me. Justin Cronin’s The Passage totally blew me away (although the sequel did not have the same kick to it) and M. R. Carey’s The Girl With All The Gifts was so original and thought-provoking in its mind-bendiness  and rule-bendiness I think I loved it even more that The Passage. But nothing has quite gripped the same way in this genre until now.

The Fireman takes everything that was epic about The Passage, combines it with all the thought-provoking elements of The Girl With All The Gifts and then goes to a whole new level. Joe Hill has written an end of the world novel that is grand, heroic and mind-blowing but at the same time deeply personal. It is a story of survival in all its immediacy and in all its elements. It is a 600+ page page-turner that you will not want to put down (or end) and will have you enthralled the entire time you are reading it.

As with most books in this genre it tells the story of a virus that threatens to wipe out humanity. But this is not a virus that turns people into zombies or vampires or some other form of mindless killing machines. It is a virus that make people catch fire. The story is told from the point of view of Harper Grayson, a school nurse. We witness the world slowly fall apart as the virus quickly spreads and the world reacts to its consequences. As a trained nurse Harper quickly volunteers to help those infected but as the world turns from bad to worse Harper’s focus is forced to change from trying to help others to fighting for her own survival and that of her unborn child. After becoming infected herself Harper must flee her old life including her husband. Aided but an almost mythical figure known as The Fireman, Harper discovers there may be hope for a new world, the only thing standing in the way is humanity itself.

I have never read Joe Hill before but fell instantly in love with his writing style. Hill captures the undying sense for survival amongst whatever ruins and tragedy is thrown at his heroes blending humour and horror, triumphs and tragedies in pitch perfect amounts depending on what he is trying to generate at different moments in the story. The virus and its nature is also explained as those who begin to survive work out different ways to appease it or even control it.

Joe Hill has written that rare novel that is clever, emotional and addictive. From the novel’s opening to its gripping finale Hill doesn’t miss a beat and I could easily turn around and pick this up from the beginning and start again right now. It will keep you guessing as the roller coaster ride careens up and down, fast and slow and around blind corners to an ending that is worthy of every page, every word that came before it. I haven’t ever read Stephen King before but you get a real sense the mantle is being passed on to the son with this novel. It is a truly special book that I hope is going to do big things. I can’t recommend this brilliant novel enough.

Simon’s Review

Cormac McCarthy’s literary masterpiece The Road presents a hopeless, post-apocalyptic world navigated by an adult and a child. The specifics of the extinction event are not clarified. It doesn’t matter why society crumbled, just that it has, because all that matters for its populace now is survival. The Road is a novel about the repercussions of the unspecified catastrophe that decimated society; decidedly post-crisis. Joe Hill’s The Fireman takes a different route, set at the very beginning of society’s decline, as the Dragonscale pandemic seizes hold, drawing patterns on people’s skin and eventually literally igniting them, causing them to spontaneously combust. Whereas the characters in The Road are surrounded by nothing but absolute despair, in The Fireman trappings of pre-pandemic lives still exist; tangible reminders of what once was. Both worlds are perpetually dangerous and unpredictable. And both novels are hallmarks of the narrative malleability of the post-apocalyptic concept.

Though operatic in scope, The Fireman is centred firmly around Harper Grayson, a school nurse who becomes a volunteer at her local hospital when society starts to decay, and school becomes a thing of the past. When Harper discovers she, too, is infected by Dragonscale — and pregnant! — she vows to bring her baby safely into the world. Her husband Jakob has other ideas, disgusted by the mere thought of bringing another human into a world such as this, and attacks Harper, determined to abort her life and their child’s. During her escape she encounters John Rockwood — the near-mythical figure known as The Fireman — who welcomes her into a secluded camp of infected survivors, who have learned to control their infection. Jakob, meanwhile, joins the Cremation Crews; marauders who kill the infected on sight. Thus, the board is set, the terrain unknown. Husband and wife are destined to meet again; the question is, in what circumstances?

Survival in a Dragonscale-infected world is unglamorous, and Joe Hill doesn’t pull any punches as he exposes readers to the bleak reality of a world beginning its rapid spiral. He showcases a warped evangelical religion based on ‘the bright’ – an aftereffect of the Dragonscale infection – and demonstrates, as these types of stories so often do, that man’s greatest threat to its own survival is itself rather than the wider crisis. The characters that populate these pages are diverse and vibrant, with distinct follies and histories. Harper is an empathetic heroine, far stronger than we (and she) first realise; desperately clinging onto survival against all odds, as everything she’s ever known degenerates. The Fireman is a mammoth tome: to work, it needs a superior protagonist, and Hill has granted his readers a supremely memorable one.

The Fireman is Joe Hill’s most ambitious novel yet, and will inevitably be compared to his father’s seminal work. The thing is, these comparisons are warranted. Hill’s latest novel is indeed reminiscent of Stephen King’s greatest work – but never derivative. Like King, Hill is a master storyteller – it’s in his blood, clearly – and this novel elevates him into a new literary stratosphere. It has been a long, long time since I was last able to lose myself in an epic like this.

BUY THE BOOK HERE.

[USE THE PROMO CODE FIREMAN FOR FREE SHIPPING]

The Girl on the Train – Official Teaser Trailer

Coming to cinemas in October is the much-anticipated film adaptation of The Girl on the Train: an elegantly written mystery that exposes the ugly truths of its characters, and through them, ourselves. On the one hand its a searing indictment of our propensity to make assumptions based on severely limited information – a mere glimpse, an overheard utterance, or in the case of Rachel, one of the novel’s three protagonists, a daily peek through her train window during her commute at a couple she doesn’t know, which results in her fantasizing about their lives. The novel provides a harsh look at the reality of alcoholism; the deliberating impact it can have on the various facets of our lives. And it also shines the spotlight on infidelity; how both the culprit and the victim live on through its resonances. Debut author Paula Hawkins entwines these components with the page-turning traits of a ‘whodunnit’, and in doing so, The Girl on the Train deserves its inevitable Gone Girl comparisons. Both deal with the simple question: how well do we truly know the ones we love? It’s a slow-burn mystery, but its inevitable explosion is well worth waiting for.

Are you looking forward to the release of the film?

Buy the book here…

9780857522320

 

Comic Books to Read if You’re Excited for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

We’re mere days away from the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and if you’re like me, you’re both excited and slightly trepidatious about the flick. Thankfully, regardless of the film’s success and quality (my fingers are crossed for both despite my reservations about Man of Steel) there’re a bunch of collected editions and graphic novel worth checking out.

9781401256982Batman vs Superman: The Greatest Battles

Essentially a ‘greatest hits’ collection of some of The Man of Steel and The Dark Knight’s encounters, it includes work from writers such as Frank Miller, Scott Snyder, Jeph Loeb and Geoff Johns, as well as art by Jim Lee, Greg Capullo and Ed Benes. If you’re looking for the battles without the context, this collection is for you!

Buy from Boomerang Books.

 

 

 

 

HushBatman: Hush

Written by Jeph Loeb with art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams, Hush is the epic crime thriller that rejuvenated The Caped Crusader. And sure, while its predominantly a Batman story, there’s a brilliant battle with Superman in one of its early chapters – – which sees The Dark Knight equipped with his trusty Kryptonite ring taking on a mind-controlled Man of Tomorrow.

Buy from Boomerang Books.

 

 

 

DKRBatman: The Dark Knight Returns

There’re few Batman stories more iconic than Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Set ten years after an aging Batman has retired and Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness, the city now needs him more than ever. But after facing off against two of his greatest foes, it’s his battle with old ally Superman that truly resonates… because only one survives!

Buy from Boomerang Books.

 

 

 

 

Batman v Superman LoebBatman/Superman, Volume 1

Y’know, when they’re not butting heads, Superman and Batman are actually mates. In this first volume of Jeph Loeb an Ed McGuinnes’ Superman/Batman series, the iconic super-heroes unite when Lex Luthor, now president of the United States, accuses Superman of a crime against humanity, and assembles a top-secret team of powerhouse heroes to bring Superman in – dead or alive!

Buy from Boomerang Books.

 

 

 

TrinityTrinity

When Batman’s greatest nemesis, Ra’s al Ghul, recruits Bizarro and an Amazon warrior to aid him in his plan to create global chaos, the Dark Knight Detective suddenly finds himself working with the Man of Steel and the Amazon Princess. Looking to thwart the madman’s plot to simultaneously destroy all satellite communications as well as all of the world’s oil reserves, Earth’s greatest heroes reluctantly band together. But if Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are to have any hope of stopping Ra’s’ nuclear missile assault, they will first need to overcome their own biases and reconcile their differing philosophies.

Buy from Boomerang Books.

Player Profile: Louisa Bennet, author of Monty and Me

 

Monty and Louisa Bennet author (1)Louisa Bennet, author of Monty and Me

Tell us about your latest creation:

Quirky, charming and whimsical, a laugh-out-loud mystery with four legs and a tail, Monty & Me is a ‘must have’ for all animal and humorous fiction lovers.

9780008124045You might think that dogs can’t understand us… but you’d be wrong. Apart from an obsession with cheese, Monty is a perfectly rational animal. So when his beloved master is murdered, Monty decides to use his formidable nose to track the killer down.

Luckily he manages to find a home with Rose Sidebottom, the young policewoman who’s investigating the case. But with her colleagues turning against her, and the wrong man collared, she’s going to need a little help…

Ever wondered what your dog is really thinking? You’re about to find out.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I’m from England but I have lived in Australia for sixteen years.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

I always loved jotting down stories as a child but because of my love of dogs, I liked the idea of becoming a vet.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

I also write thrillers as L.A. Larkin which couldn’t be more different from Monty & Me. With every book I write, I strive to improve on the last. I take great pains to ensure my readers get a well plotted, well written book with engaging characters. Monty & Me was enormous fun to write but it was a challenge because the primary narrator is Monty, the dog detective. So I had to imagine the world from a dog’s view point and create a credible canine voice, a dog terminology and history. I also worked closely with a retired detective chief superintendent who advised me on the crime-solving process and police procedures.

As Monty & Me is the first in a series, it was important for Monty, and the young detective, Rose Sidebottom, to be lovable characters that readers want to continue following into the next book. Given all these challenges I think that Monty & Me is my best work so far.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I have turned a spare room into a Victorian library with floor to ceiling bookshelves bulging with books, an antique desk and burgundy velvet curtains. My two Golden Retrievers sleep on their mats either side of my desk.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I read every day. Anything from cozy mysteries, animal sleuths, detective fiction, action, conspiracy and psychological thrillers, fantasy and humour. When I’m researching a story, I read non-fiction books on the topic. For instance, I’ve just finished a book on the U.S. Secret Service.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

Enid Blyton (Secret Seven and Famous Five), Treasure Island, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Elizabeth Bennet. She is why I write my Humorous mysteries as Louisa Bennet, because she is one of my favourite characters – feisty, clever but flawed.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I run courses in crime fiction and thriller writing at the Australian Writers’ Centre. I also do what I can to support charities trying to put an end to puppy farming in this country and in the UK and to encourage the adoption of dogs from rescue centres.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

A good curry and a good beer.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Nelson Mandela because he kept going, no matter the opposition and his personal suffering.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

To manage two new book series’ – The Monty & Sidebottom Mysteries and a new thriller series, featuring Olivia Wolfe, an investigative journalist.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MontyDogDetective

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MontyDogD

Web Page: montydogdetective.com/

Blog: http://montydogdetective.com/blog/

 

Would You Like To Win A $2000+ Book Pack This Christmas?

We’ve got a MASSIVE sack full of books worth over $2000 to give away to one lucky customer!

And we’re not talking about a pile of slow-moving titles; we’re talking 40+ new release, best-selling titles, including books by Ian Rankin, Geraldine Brooks, Donna Hay, Jo Nesbo, Tom Keneally, Shaun Tan, Bill Bryson, Peter FitzSimons, Adam Spencer, Robert Harris, Kate Atkinson and Don Winslow.

Imagine landing this fantastic sack of books in time for Christmas!

How do I enter?  It’s easy!

1. Order a book from Boomerang Books between now and 5pm AEST on Friday 18 December 2015.

2. At the checkout, enter and activate the promotional code santassack (or any of the other qualifying promotional codes that we publicise between now and Christmas).

3. Using the promotional code on your order will give you an entry in the Santa’s Sack draw PLUS you’ll get free shipping on your order (a saving of $6.95).  The more orders you place, the more entries you get in the draw!

PS. We’ll also throw in a soccer ball and a signed Tim Cahill shirt 🙂

VISIT BOOMERANG BOOKS RIGHT NOW TO ENTER THE DRAW…

Terms and conditions here… 

 

Get Free Shipping on the Boomerang Books Christmas Catalogue

Looking for great Christmas gifts to buy for your loved ones? Books make fantastic gifts at Christmas time! And to make your job easier, we’ve released our annual Christmas Catalogue.

If you order from our Christmas Catalogue before midnight on Sunday 15 November, you’ll get FREE shipping on your order when you use the promotional code xmascat at the checkout.

PLUS, by using the promo code, you’ll also go into the draw to win a huge book pack in our Santa’s Sack competition (which will be announced later this week!).

Follow the links below to order your books from Boomerang Books today:

 

  
   

  

   

  
   

  
   

  


 

2015 Kids’ Reading Guide Released – Great Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids

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The annual Kids’ Reading Guide has been released!

Handpicked and reviewed by Australia’s leading booksellers, the Kids’ Reading Guide showcases all the very best recent-release, in-stock books for kids.

It’s a fantastic guide for Christmas Gifts!

Follow the links below to order your books from Boomerang Books today:
Use the promo code krg15 to receive FREE shipping on your order!
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Baby & Toddler

 

Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Picture Book
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Older Picture Book
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Junior Fiction
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Junior Fiction Next in Series
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Middle Fiction
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Middle Fiction Next in Series
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Crosssover Fiction
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Young Adult
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Young Adult Next in Series
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Stuff To Do
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Information
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Gift
Kids Reading Guide 2015 – Australian Stories 

 

The Book Brief: The Very Best New Release Books in October

 

Each month we bring you the best new release books in our Book Brief.

Get FREE shipping when you use the promo code bookbrief at checkout


Fiction Books

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks

This is a story about war, murder, sex, romance, betrayal and incest. King David is a man we think we know something about but we know very little. History, legend and myth converge around the David and Goliath story. Although little is known about him Geraldine Brook’s fiction brings the man and his times to life, so much so we begin to think it is all true. A very human account of a complex man. Chris

Golden Age by Jane Smiley

The third novel in the dazzling Last Hundred Years Trilogy from the winner of the Pulitzer Prize. 1987. A visit from a long-lost relative brings the Langdons together again on the family farm; a place almost unrecognisable from the remote Iowan farmland Walter and Rosanna once owned. Whilst a few have stayed, most have spread wide across the US, but all are facing social, economic and political challenges unlike anything their ancestors encountered. After a hundred years of personal change and US history, filled with words unsaid and moments lost, Golden Age brings to a magnificent conclusion the century-long portrait of one unforgettable family.

Dictator by Robert Harris

There was a time when Cicero held Caesar’s life in the palm of his hand. But now Caesar is the dominant figure and Cicero’s life is in ruins. Riveting and tumultuous, Dictator encompasses some of the most epic events in human history yet is also an intimate portrait of a brilliant, flawed, frequently fearful yet ultimately brave man – a hero for his time and for ours. This is an unforgettable tour de force from a master storyteller.

The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray

This is a comic masterpiece about love, art, greed and the banking crisis, from the author of Skippy Dies.  What links the Investment Bank of Torabundo, (yes, hots with an s, don’t ask), an art heist, a novel called For the Love of a Clown, a four-year-old boy named after TV detective Remington Steele, a lonely French banker, a tiny Pacific island, and a pest control business run by an ex-KGB man? You guessed it…

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of economic and social collapse. When they see an advertisement for the Positron Project in the town of Consilience – a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own – they sign up immediately. A sinister, wickedly funny novel about a near-future in which the lawful are locked up and the lawless roam free, The Heart Goes Last is Margaret Atwood at her heart-stopping best.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin

Brings together for the first time the first three official prequel novellas to A Song of Ice and Fire, set in an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living memory. Featuring more than 160 illustrations by Gary Gianni, one of the finest fantasy artists of our time, this beautiful volume will transport readers to the world of the Seven Kingdoms in an age of bygone chivalry.

Non Fiction Books

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

Over twenty years ago, Bill Bryson went on a trip around Britain to celebrate the green and kindly island that had become his home. The hilarious book he wrote about that journey, Notes from a Small Island, became one of the most loved books of recent decades, and was voted in a BBC poll as the book that best represents Britain. Now, for his first travel book in fifteen years, Bryson sets out again, on a long-awaited, brand-new journey around the UK.

Fascinating Footnotes From History by Giles Milton

Did you know that Hitler took cocaine? That Stalin robbed a bank? That Charlie Chaplin’s corpse was filched and held to ransom? Giles Milton is a master of historical narrative: in his characteristically engaging prose, Fascinating Footnotes From History details one hundred of the quirkiest historical nuggets; eye-stretching stories that read like fiction but are one hundred per cent fact.

Paris In Style by Janelle McCulloch

Having written three bestselling books about Paris, journalist, author and photographer Janelle McCulloch thought she knew most of the best places in which to stay, wander and explore. But the more time she spent in Paris, the more she realised how much there was still to discover. Paris in Style reveals this city’s most surprising and fascinating fashion, design and style destinations. It is the ultimate insider’s guide for travellers seeking style, creative inspiration and unforgettable experiences.

The White Road by Edmund De Waal

Acclaimed writer and potter Edmund de Waal sets out on a quest – a journey that begins in the dusty city of Jingdezhen in China and travels on to Venice, Versailles, Dublin, Dresden, the Appalachian Mountains of South Carolina and the hills of Cornwall to tell the history of porcelain.

The Lost Tudor Princess by Alison Weir

This is the biography of an extraordinary life that spanned five Tudor reigns, a life packed with intrigue, drama and tragedy. A brave survivor, she was instrumental in securing the Stuart succession to the throne of England for her grandson. Her story deserves to be better known.

Australia’s Second Chance by George Megalogenis

Our second chance is now; will we use it or lose it? Crunching numbers and weaving history into a riveting, rollicking tale, George Megalogenis brilliantly chronicles the waves of immigration from the First Fleet onwards and uses his unique abilities in decoding economics and demography to advance this new insight into our history, and our future.

Food For Family by Guillaume Brahimi

Celebrated French – Australian chef Guillaume Brahimi visits some of Australia’s most charming and stylish homes, creating delicious menus inspired by the people and place, and discovering what makes a house a home. This is big-hearted, full-flavoured food, perfect for sharing with those you love.

Wendy Whiteley and the Secret Garden by Janet Hawley

For more than twenty years Wendy Whiteley has worked to create a public garden at the foot of her harbourside home in Sydney’s Lavender Bay. This is the extraordinary story of how a determined, passionate and deeply creative woman has slowly transformed an overgrown wasteland into a beautiful sanctuary for everyone to enjoy – and in the process, transformed herself.

When It’s Right To Be Wrong by Russel Howcroft

Whether he’s selling beer, health insurance or the army, former adman Russel believes in the power of the idea, and that creativity is needed to make good things happen. Whether it’s about business or everyday life, Russel knows sometimes you simply have go against the tide.

More Letters of Note by Shaun Usher

More Letters of Note is another rich and inspiring collection, which reminds us that much of what matters in our lives finds its way into our letters. These letters deliver the same mix of the heartfelt, the historically significant, the tragic, the comic and the unexpected.

Pacific by Simon Winchester

Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world’s largest body of water, and – in matters economic, political and military – the ocean of the future. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world’s most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester’s thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.

Childrens’ Picture Books

Counting Lions by Virginia McKenna

This is a simply stunning picture book that you will want for yourself as much as for the kids. Illustrated with exquisitely detailed charcoal drawings of endangered animals, this book works as both a basic counting book, an introduction to ecology and as a view into the lives and habits of the 10 animals listed. For art lovers, animal lovers and the whole family. Ian

Deep In The Woods by Christopher Corr

A retelling of the Russian folk tale Teremok. A little mouse finds the perfect little house in the woods, then comes along rabbit and mouse asks him to live in the little house. Then owl and many more animals until bear climbs on the roof and the little house crashes to the ground. Can he put everything right? The most amazing colour and illustrations. Jan

Paris: Up, Up and Away by Helen Druvert

The Eiffel Tower is bored – wouldn’t it be nice to fly away. So it decides to take off for the day and watch the city work and play. A magical crafted book to delight young and older readers. A great gift for children and adults. Jan

Books for First Readers

Mango & Bambang: The Not-a-Pig by Clara Dulliamy

A beautifully illustrated collection of four stories about the friendship between Mango, a little girl, and Bambang, an Asian Tapir. Mango Allsorts is good at all sorts of things. Bambang is definitely not a pig but lost in a big city. When they meet a friendship begins filled with adventure and lots of banana pancakes. The perfect read for those just becoming confident at reading alone. Jan

Books for Young Readers

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

From the author of the Percy Jackson novels comes a new series and we are all very excited. This time Riordan breathes new life into the Norse myths. Magnus Chase, a 16 year old homeless boy discovers on his 16th birthday that he is the son of a Norse god, there for a demigod and of course he has to save the world! Full of exciting action scenes and plenty of laughs this new series is sure to be a big hit! Ian  

Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams

Hoorah !! A new novel form David Walliams, get ready to laugh till your jaw hurts. Jake’s grandfather eats funny food, wears his slippers to the supermarket and can’t always remember Jake’s name but he always ready to take to the skies in his spitfire and save the day. A story full of heart, adventure and the bond between a boy and his beloved grandfather. And did I mention it is really, really funny? Ian

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

In this magnificent reimagining of the form he originated, two stand-alone stories-the first in nearly 400 pages of continuous pictures, the second in prose-create a beguiling narrative puzzle. A gripping adventure and an intriguing invitation to decipher how the two narratives connect, “The Marvels” is a loving tribute to the power of story from an artist at the vanguard of creative innovation.

Books for Young Adults

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On follows the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from Fangirl. Simon just wants to enjoy his last year at Watford School of Magicks but lifes dramas get in the way. Ghosts, vampires and evil things are trying to shut Simon down. With love, mystery and melodrama this is another fabulous read from Rainbow Rowell. Jan

 

 

The Book Brief: The Very Best New Release Books in September

Each month we bring you the best new release books in our Book Brief.

Get FREE shipping when you use the promo code bookbrief at checkout


Fiction Books

Sweet Caress by William Boyd

The new William Boyd is simply sublime. Sweet Caress tells the story of photographer Amory Clay and her tumultuous life over the course of a tumultuous century. William Boyd is a master storyteller and takes this gift to new and different heights with the character of Amory Clay. Sweet Caress is a wonderful novel you won’t want to say goodbye to. Jon

Where My Heart Used To Beat by Sebastian Faulks

Dr Robert Hendricks is a veteran of the Second World War who lost his father in the First. These two wars have not only shaped his life but also his thinking as a psychiatrist. He is contacted by an aging French doctor, who served with his Father, as a possible literary executor of his estate. Hendricks travels to an island of the south of France to meet with the man who also has information about his father whom he never met. A meeting which finds Robert delving into his own memories of war as he confronts his father’s experience of his. Jon

Purity by Jonathan Franzen

Two words sum up this amazing novel, power and idealism. Power and idealism in relationships, business, politics. Pip Tyler is trying to find out who she is and who she wants to be. She takes us from Oakland to Germany and Boliva in this quest. A novel like Corrections that will have you thinking about what is right and what is wrong. Pip is a character you will grow to love. Chris

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt

A darkly comic romp that blends a sense of humour, a sense the absurd and a sense of the surreal in a way that would make even Wes Anderson envious. Thoughtful, clever, playful and inventive Patrick deWitt captures you from the opening pages and sucks you into this surreal, absurdist world of small wars, Barons, Dukes & Counts and very large holes. If you loved The Sisters Brothers this is going to blow your mind. A wonderful, thrillingly original novel from an author whose work is like no other. Jon

Make Me by Lee Child

There is no doubting Lee Child’s ability to craft a page-turner thriller. He is a grandmaster at his craft, and his legion of fans will undoubtedly enjoy his latest. Make Me is packed with all the essential Reacher elements. He arrives in the small town of Mother’s Rest – and is immediately catapulted into the mystery behind a private detective’s disapearance, and faces up against some of his most brutal opposition yet!  Simon

Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

This is a tour-de-force excursion into good, evil, and the labyrinth of human motivations. Emma Viskic has created a brilliant protagonist in the profoundly-deaf, and irrepressibly obstinate Caleb Zelic, and has produced one of the year’s best crime novels. This debut is stripped-down and raw, and packs one helluva punch. Simon

Noonday by Pat Barker

London is burning and Londoners are burning too. Dust, dirt, gas, total disruption and destruction are the images Pat Barker depicts and the endless cups of tea. She brings all this into focus with language by fictionalising the lives of three war time artists. Just as she did with poets in her Regeneration trilogy. The artists see the results of the bombing first hand as stretcher bearers and ambulance drivers. But how to paint it? The truth or what the Ministry wants? Is the truth too much? Is it best to paint what is beautiful? Chris

The Crossing by Andrew Miller

A young woman falls from a boat that she is repairing. Unfortunately there is no guard rail and they are not at sea. Maybe she was affected by the fumes of the pitch. The other person on the boat, Tim, rescues her and eventually marries her. She is unusual woman self contained and maybe not made for marriage. When sadness enters their lives she sails away. A truly mesmerising novel about differences and how we cope weith them.  Chris

Early One Morning by Virginia Baily

A family with many others is being taken away from the city of Rome during the war for being Jewish. A mother with three children hands over her young son to a passing Italian woman, Chiara. What a moment and so the story grows.The boy is loved but he is another casualty of war and never really recovers. A heartbreaking, wonderful read. There must be many stories like these where people made agonising choices. Chris

We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

As a single parent, Letty does everything for her two children apart from raise them. Being a mother terrifies her so she always lets the grandparents take that role. However when they leave she just has to get on with it. In her previous book the Language of Flowers Diffenbaugh used flowers to define her characters this time it is feathers. Chris

Non Fiction Books

The Man With The Golden Type Writer by Fergus Fleming

Before the world-famous films came the world-famous novels. This books tells the story of the man who wrote them and how he created spy fiction’s most compelling hero. Ian Fleming  wrote constantly, to his wife, publisher, editors, fans, friends and critics, charting 007’s progress with correspondence that ranged from badgering Jonathan Cape about his quota of free copies — a coin was tossed; Fleming lost – to apologising for having mistaken a certain brand of perfume and for equipping Bond with the wrong kind of gun. His letters also reflect his friendships with contemporaries such as Raymond Chandler, Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham.

The Edible City by Indira Naidoo

Join Indira as she visits some of Australia’s most innovative and memorable kitchen gardens. Indira also offers gardening tips and practical advice on beekeeping, worm farming, composting and setting up your own community garden, as well as 40 of her delicious recipes.

Flesh Wounds by Richard Glover

Part poignant family memoir, part rollicking venture into a 1970s Australia, this is a book for anyone who’s wondered if their family is the oddest one on the planet. The answer: ‘No’. There is always something stranger out there.

A Banquet of Consequences by Satyajit Das

This is a lively exploration by financial expert Satyajit Das on why, following the global credit crunch, the world is entering a period of prolonged economic stagnation, and what that means for all of us. Satyajit Das is perhaps the only finance writer who can simultaneously make you outraged and chuckle as you read, and the experience is a delight.

Falafel For Breakfast by Michael Rantissi & Kristy Frawley

Israeli-born chef Michael Rantissi and his partner and ‘balaboosta’ Aussie girl Kristy Frawley drill down to what we all love about the ingredients and flavours of the Middle East – grains and greens, generosity, pungency, sweetness, sharing. This is food that brings everyone to the table, and won’t let them leave.

Nopi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi

This includes over 120 of the most popular dishes from Yotam’s innovative Soho-based restaurant Nopi. It’s written with long-time collaborator and Nopi head chef Ramael Scully, who brings his distinctive Asian twist to the Ottolenghi kitchen. This is a collection of recipes which will inspire, challenge and delight.

Atmosphere of Hope by Tim Flannery

Ten years after his internationally bestselling The Weather Makers, acclaimed scientist and author Tim Flannery argues that Earth’s climate system is approaching a crisis. Catastrophe is not inevitable, but time is fast running out. In the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Summit to be held in Paris in December, Atmosphere of Hope provides both a snapshot of the trouble we are in and an up-to-the-minute analysis of some of the new possibilities for mitigating climate change that are emerging now.

Deep South by Paul Theroux

For the past fifty years, Paul Theroux has travelled to the far corners of the earth – to China, India, Africa, the Pacific Islands, South America, Russia, and elsewhere – and brought them to life in his cool, exacting prose. In Deep South he turns his gaze to a region much closer to his home. Travelling through North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas he writes of the stunning landscapes he discovers – the deserts, the mountains, the Mississippi – and above all, the lives of the people he meets.

Childrens’ Picture Books

The Day The Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt

Following on from the phenomenally brilliant The Day The Crayons Quit comes the sequel. The crayons are back…and they are still not happy. This time around Duncan has to deal with the lost and forgotten crayons. The broken, chewed and melted crayons. And they are all, quite rightly, even more upset! Once again Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers have produced a picture book that is an absolute joy to read out loud and share again and again (we still haven’t worn out the first book!). Oliver Jeffers’ wonderful illustrations are typically vibrant, absurd and brilliantly funny. This is another truly timeless picture book for the whole family to enjoy over and over again! Jon, Ian & Jan

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey

Meet Brian, the world’s only Piranha. Brian has a particular fondness for banana. What do you think his chances are of persuading his family to follow suit? Yet another hysterical new book for the author of Pig the Pug. Ian

What The Ladybird Heard Next by Julia Donaldson

Just as sparkly and full of Donaldson trademark rhymes is this charming sequel to the much beloved tale.  Those crafty robbers Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len are out of jail and ready to cause havoc with a new BIGGER plan. Can our ladybird heroine save the day? Oh cause she can! Ian

Books for First Readers

The Cat With The Coloured Tail by Gillian Mears

Mr Hooper and The Cat with the Coloured Tail travel through the countryside in their icecream van making delicious moon-creams and playing their favourite game looking for heart shapes. However, something is wrong with Cat. When they travel into the forest they realise the heart of the world is in danger. A beautiful reminder of the kindness and hope within us. Jan

The Phantom Bully by Jeffrey Brown

Our ever struggling hero Roan is back in third instalment of this increasingly popular series. It is his last year of Jedi School and he NEEDS to do well but with substitute teachers, bracers and vegan food and his own personal bully to contend with can he do it? And stay clear of the dark side? Of course he can! The great cartoons just add to the fun. Ian    

Books for Young Readers

How To Fight A Dragon’s Fury by Cressida Cowell

This the twelfth, final and possibly most exciting volume in the How to Train Your Dragon Series.  Alvin the Terrible is about to be crowned king, and his reign of terror is about to unleashed seeing the destruction of all dragons. Can Hiccup defeat his enemy, prove that he is the rightful king and end the dragon rebellion? Is this doomsday for Hiccup and the dragons or the start of something new? Ian

Books for Young Adults

Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

Van Voc Phan is and Australian girl who faces high expectations from her Vietnamese parents. As a scholarship student she studies hard at school and deals with the self-centred students by keeping a low profile. When she gets the attention of Billy Gardiner, the boy in school she always day dreams about, her life is thrown into centre stage. Using Jane Eyre as her guide she navigates her way through. Jan

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Against the backdrop of an epic conflict between beings known as the Immortals and some ‘indie’ kids at school, Patrick Ness’ latest focuses on the issues afflicting Mikey and his gang of pals in the lead-up to prom and the beginning of their college lives. They lives in a world that has been touched by zombies, soul-eating ghosts, and basically every menace that has permeated the YA genre in recent years. Mikey, though, has never been involved in these encounters – he’s just lived his life on the fringes and dealt with obligatory teenage angst that accompanies the end of high school. With Ness’s trademark wit and efficacy, The Rest of Us Just Live Here shows we’re all heroes. But not all of us get the limelight – and not all of us want it! Simon & Chris

 

The Book Brief: The Very Best New Release Books in August

Each month we bring you the best new release books in our Book Brief.

Get FREE shipping when you use the promo code bookbrief at checkout


Fiction Books

Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham

A mother and her teenage daughter are found murdered and a clinical psychologist is called in to help the investigation. Nothing is as it seems about the mother or her daughter or indeed the investigator. This is another intricate crime novel from Robotham that will keep you guessing right to the end. Chris

Circling The Sun by Paula McLain

Beryl Markham was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic east to west. However that is really just the tip of the iceberg. She was a most remarkable woman in many ways. A dare devil, an adventurer, a woman who loved men but made some bad choices. She was friends with Karen Blixen until she fell in love with her long term partner.  She grew up pretty wild and free in Kenya without the restraints of an English education or a mother. She loved animals; she respected the local tribes’ people and hunted with them. She was expelled from various schools in Nariobi because she was a bad influence. She could not understand why she could not train horses and fly both of which she did very well. Do you remember The Paris Wife? This is even better! Chris

The Marriage Of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Set on the tropical island of St Thomas in 1807. A novel of slavery, racism and bigotry yet the population all live together in some sort of harmony. Rachel has an arranged marrage and a marriage of love. When she gives birth to her tenth child prejudice reaches a new level one that is not going to be tolerated.  He wants to be an artist. He is very talented and in fact is the future Camille Pissarro.  Chris

A Guide To Berlin by Gail Jones

A group of six international travellers, two Italians, two Japanese, an American and an Australian, meet in empty apartments in Berlin to share stories and memories. Each is enthralled in some way to the work of Vladimir Nabokov, and each is finding their way in deep winter in a haunted city. A moment of devastating violence shatters the group, and changes the direction of everyone’s story.

Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami

Wind/Pinball includes Haruki Murakami’s first two novels, published back-to-back, available for the first time in English outside Japan. With a new introduction by the author. Published as a reversible hardback. A must for Murakami fans.

The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

I totally loved this book. This sucked me in from the opening sentence and still has not let me go. The moment I finished I started missing all the characters straight away and want to get back to this universes as quickly as possible. This is science fiction at its best; expansive, alien, full of worlds, peoples and technology to explore but at the same time containing an essence and humanity that captures perfectly what we all strive for in our lives. Jon

Armada by Ernest Cline

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before-one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

Non Fiction Books

Women I’ve Undressed by Orry Kelly

Found in a pillowcase, the fabulous long-lost memoirs of a legendary Hollywood designer – and a genuine Australian original. Orry-Kelly created magic on screen, from Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon to Some Like It Hot. He won three Oscars for costume design. He dressed all the biggest stars, from Bette Davis to Marilyn Monroe. He was an Australian. Yet few know who Orry-Kelly really was – until now.

Blindsided by Michael Lynagh

A memoir that explores the fragility and meaning of life, even if you happen to be a Wallaby legend. It’s the unthinkable for anyone – to be blind-sided by a life-threatening illness in the prime of life, with no prior warning and no time to prepare loved-ones for a life after you.

James Halliday Wine Companion 2016

The 2016 edition has been completely revised to bring you up-to-the-minute information. In his inimitable style, Halliday shares his extensive knowledge of wine through detailed tasting notes, each with vintage-specific ratings, alcohol content and price, advice on optimal drinking as well as individual information on the wineries and winemakers.

Sonnyball by Paul Kent

Sonny Bill Williams is a superstar in three sports, an icon around the world. SBW proves a modern truth. That in this new sporting world success is everything and memory is short. And no matter the code, when it comes to Sonny Bill Williams, everyone – clubs, fans, sponsors, media – ends up playing Sonny Ball.

Thermo-Struck by Kim McCosker

With a busy lifestyle, you can rely on Thermo-Struck when preparing dinner for your family or entertaining your friends. A bounty of healthy meals, home-cooked from scratch and full of nutrients, in just a fraction of the time traditionally required.

When We Were Young & Foolish by Greg Sheridan

When We Were Young and Foolish traces Greg’s own journey from impoverished childhood in Sydney’s inner west, on to his formative years at university and then The Bulletin, and in doing so also illuminates the formative years and experiences of his friends would who go on to be prime ministers, premiers and senior cabinet ministers. It offers new and personal insights into the people they were as students and twenty-somethings, and the events, philosophies, demons and relationships that helped make them the people they are.

From Venice to Istanbul by Rick Stein

From the mythical heart of Greece to the fruits of the Black Sea coast; from Croatian and Albanian flavours to the spices and aromas of Turkey and beyond – the cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean is a vibrant melting pot brimming with character. Packed with stunning photography of the food and locations, and filled with Rick’s passion for fresh produce and authentic cooking, this is a stunning collection of inspiring recipes to evoke the magic of the Eastern Mediterranean at home.

Rugby World Cup 2015: The Official Tournament Guide

The must-have companion to world rugby’s biggest event. England is the tournament host, and this book contains everything fans will need, from venue guides to detailed information on every team in the finals, key players, playing strengths, coaches, past form and a prediction of teams’ hopes of success.

Childrens’ Picture Books

What’s Up Mumu by David Mackintosh

MuMu is just not feeling right today. AND THAT’S THAT. Does her best friend Lox have enough tricks to make things right. Perhaps with lots of fun and laugher MuMu will feel better. A fun and clever story about friendship and patience. Jan

The Marvellous Fluffy Squishy Itty Bitty by Beatrice Alemagna

Eddie knows her Mum would love a Fluffy Squishy Itty Bitty for her birthday but what is it and where will she find one. Join her as she tours the charming French town for the perfect present. Another enchanting picture book from the author of A Lion in Paris. Jan

Brave As Can Be by Jo Witek

This delightfullly illustrated picture book is great for toddlers who are afraid of the dark, thunderstorms and many other scary issues. In this lyrical story an older sister explains to her little sister what she did to overcome her fears. The fears that once felt so huge are now a speck of dust. Jan

Books for Young Readers

The 65-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Andy and Terry’s ever-expanding treehouse just got zanier! It now features a room where it’s always your birthday, a time machine, a lollipop shop … and that’s the boring stuff! Just how much more whacky can their treehouse get? You’ll have to read the book to find out…

Hooked On Netball by B. Hellard & L. Gibbs

Meet Maddy and her friends from the Gems!   Maddy can’t wait to play her first game of netball with her new team. She’s been training hard and can’t wait to try out her skills. But Maddy’s excitement soon turns to nerves when she realises that things might not go exactly as she imagined. What position will coach Janet put her in? What if she gets asked to sit on the bench? Suddenly, the netball courts are the last place Maddy wants to be!

The Cut Out by Jack Heath

Meet Fero: an ordinary teenager, uninitiated in the art of espionage, who just so happens to look exactly like Troy Maschenov, a ruthless enemy agent with plans to launch a devastating attack. With the clock ticking, Fero is recruited to impersonate Troy and infiltrate enemy territory. But does the rookie have what it takes? Fans of CHERUB and Alex Rider rejoice – there’s a new hero in town! Simon    

Childrens’ Non Fiction

Rugby World Cup 2015 Fact File

The 2015 Rugby World Cup is just weeks away, and there’s no better way to hone your knowledge than with this easy-to-follow guide. There are profiles of all 20 finalist teams and star players, puzzles and quizzes, and match-by-match progress charts you can fill in during the tournament. Mine’s already filled in with predictions: Wallabies to win the Cup, of course! Simon

Books for Young Adults

Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson

Astrid wants to change the world – she is an environmental activist, popular, clever, perfect. Hiro just wants to survive – he is grouchy, rude and thinks school is not important. Can their common belief that the world needs to be made a better place bring them together. Jan

 

Win a Father’s Day Hamper of Books

 

Looking for great  gifts to buy for your Dad? Books make fantastic gifts for Father‘s Day! And to make your job easier, we’ve released our 2015 Father‘s Day Catalogue.

If you order from our Father‘s Day Catalogue before midnight on Sunday 30 August, you’ll get FREE shipping on your order when you use the promotional code code 4dad at the checkout.

PLUS, by using the promo code, you’ll also go into the draw to win a Father‘s Day book hamper worth over $1000.

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Player Profile: Martin McKenna, author of The Boy Who Talked To Dogs

 

Me and 2 of my rescue dogs copyMartin McKenna, author of The Boy Who Talked To Dogs

Tell us about your latest creation:

Hi, I’m Martin McKenna, otherwise known as The Dreadlock Dog Man. I’m Australia’s best-known dog communicator and give out a lot of free advice to dog lovers all over Australia. I particularly like helping rescue dogs. The Boy Who Talked To Dogs is my new international memoir. It’s about how I first learned the language and customs of dogs as a boy – and in a very unusual way.

9781510702806I was an Irish street kid and lived rough with a pack of six dogs for three years. I lived in Garryowen, a small countryside suburb nailed to the outskirts of Limerick City. I was thirteen was when I ran away. It was a hard age for me. I was severely hyperactive. So illiterate I couldn’t even read and write my own name properly and teachers bullied me for being unable to learn. I felt like a freak because I was one of identical triplets. My beloved mother was German, so it didn’t take long before my brothers and I were jeeringly called ‘Hitler’s little experiments’. I’m from a large family of ten and my mother Sigrid was an amazing, lovely woman – but our charming Irish father could drink for Ireland and often became violent. One night I decided I’d had enough of complicated humans. I climbed out my bedroom window, shimmied down the drainpipe and started running down the road, heading to where the stray dogs of Garryowen hung out.

If you read The Boy Who Talked To Dogs you’ll find out about the six extraordinary dogs I hooked up with. They became my best friends, family and even my teachers – showing me during the three years I lived rough with them the incredible ways of the Dog World. It’s this knowledge and wisdom I share out in two funny cartoons every evening on my Facebook and Twitter pages. They’re developing quite a following!

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I grew up in Garryowen, which is a small suburb nailed to the edge of Limerick City in Ireland. When I was old enough, I joined the exodus of young Irish people looking for work and ended up traveling around the world. When I arrived in Australia, I met and fell head over heels in love with my future wife Lee. We have four amazing children together and live on a small farm in Nimbin in northern NSW with a pack of six rescue strays. I’ve now lived longer in Australia than I have in Ireland but am always proud to call myself Celtic Irish.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

As a kid I might have experienced a lot of fun adventure and freedom, but my main goal was to stay alive. Not many people thought I’d be still standing here today – but I am – alive and kicking!

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

This is my fourth book and definitely my best. My last three books are about dog language and what life lessons dogs can teach us – but this book is very special and I’m incredibly proud of it. It’s my personal story of how six ordinary stray dogs saved my life and soul. Writing it brought back a lot of powerful memories and reminded me how much I owe to dogs for bringing me true friendship when I needed it most. Thirteen is also the age of real adventure if you have a rebel spirit!

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

Writing for me is all done outside on my farmhouse verandah. I have a great old carved chair and matching carved round table, all chewed around the edges from the hundreds of rescue dogs I’ve had stay over the years. My wild garden is what I look out on to. Dogs laze around, birds take shortcuts past my ears, lizards run across my bare feet, the occasional python winds past the roof beams looking for a better sunning spot. I scribble – very messily – in exercise books and am always, always looking for a pen.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

When I’m not writing – and I write hours of poetry a day – I listen to ABC radio, the BBC and NPR to feed my mind. However, I keep flicking through my battered copy of the Tain, which is a translation of a very famous epic ancient poem from Ireland. It features the most famous Irish hero Cuchulainn. It’s still so fresh and contemporary sounding. Celtic women were feisty and could be warriors and power brokers. The ancient Celts were articulate, courageous and exciting. Look them up and enjoy a feast of a new world if you’re not familiar with them – especially the poems in true translated form. If you’re a poet they’re a must to read!

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

I couldn’t even read or write my own name properly in school, but I knew and loved the old Celtic mythical stories from hearing people talk about them.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Huckleberry Finn grabs my imagination. He inspires me to lie back and sometimes let life wash over me. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give up my freedom either!

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I strip off my shirt and plant my feet on the edge of the verandah and roar out my lyrics so they echo around the hillsides. I’ve made up a new style of punk music called RAW. No instruments – just my voice and a hell of a lot of energy! I live in the country so I can really let rip.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I love a big cooked Irish breakfast at any hour of the day or night – and drink tea by the bucketful. I put a chunk of fresh ginger in my mug – and it’s amazing – try it.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Cuchulainn of ancient Irish myth. He liked women, dogs, horses, poetry, battles and had good friends and bad enemies. He was courageous and superstitious. He was incredibly hyperactive like me – and no one had a problem with it. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century. I was born to be an ancient Celtic warrior.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

I think books are about to enter a new Renaissance because the authors are finally going to step forward and become glamorous celebrities. People will recognize their faces. Know their backgrounds. Legends will grow up around them. Humans are addicted to great stories – and always will be – so I think storytellers are about to step out of the shadows and take center stage again. If you’re an author, it’s going to be quite intrusive sharing so much of your private time being on social media – but that’s going to be the new game – adapt or go do a normal job. The good thing about social media is if you kind of fall into it willingly – it’s rather like being invited to the world’s biggest and most interesting cocktail party. You can wander around introducing yourself and chatting to the most unusual people around the world. People holding guns in Arkansas or a nun holding a baby in downtown Delhi or a rainforest head clan man on a laptop computer in Brazil. Fascinating!

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Martin-McKenna/262898467056287

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dreadlockdogman

 

BOOK NEWS: E L James Announces New Book

11330545_764415793657178_268538240_nJune 2 2015 – London – On social media late last night bestselling author E L James announced that she will shortly release a new version of her worldwide bestselling novel Fifty Shades of Grey — this time written from Christian Grey’s point of view. The new book, titled Grey, will be published on June 18th –a date that devotees may remember as Christian’s birthday.

Since the publication of Fifty Shades of Grey in 2011, thousands of readers have written to James requesting Christian’s point of view. On the opening page of Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told By Christian, James writes, “This book is dedicated to those readers who asked…and asked… and asked… and asked for this.” In the new work, she will offer her fans the opportunity to see the world of Fifty Shades anew through the eyes of its intriguing and enigmatic protagonist.

“Christian is a complex character,” said James, “and readers have always been fascinated by his desires and motivations, and his troubled past. Also, as anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows, there are two sides to every story. It’s been a great pleasure to return to my happy place – writing, being with Christian and Ana in their universe, and working with the fantastic publishing teams in the US andthe UK.”

Readers know Christian as someone who exercises control in all aspects of his life. His world is neat, disciplined and empty – until the moment that Anastasia Steele stumbles into his office. What is it about her that captivates him? Why can’t he forget her? He is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist.

‘Fifty Shades of Grey is a love story that has captivated a readership like no other book’ says Selina Walker, Arrow publisher and E L James’ UK editor. ‘I was absolutely thrilled when we heard that Erika wanted to write Christian’s side of the story. Grey is just as addictive as the trilogy, and I know that thisis what the fans have been waiting for.’

‘Planning for publication on June 18th in all our territories has been challenging – but what a fabulous challenge to have! Thanks to superb teamwork and meticulous planning, I know that fans around the world will be able to help mark Christian’s birthday by reading his side of the story.’ says Susan Sandon, Managing Director of Cornerstone.

The Fifty Shades trilogy – Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed – has reached worldwide sales of more than 125 million copies, and become one of the most successful publications in the history of book publishing. Like the earlier books in James’s trilogy, Grey will be published in paperback original format and as an ebook by Arrow Books, an imprint of Cornerstone Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House.

GREY will be published simultaneously by Penguin Random House US on June 18th.

Pre-order the book now and get FREE shipping!

The Book Brief: The Very Best New Release Books in June

Each month we bring you the best new release books in our Book Brief.

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Fiction Books

Girl at War by Sara Nović

Set in Zagreb, 1991. A city once part of Yugoslavia which is about to become the capital of Croatia as civil war erupts. Ana Jurić is ten years-old and the story is told through her eyes as the collapse of communism soon turns to a confusing and violent war. This is a coming-of-age story which happens far too early. It is about how history defines us and haunts us. It is about trying to make sense of an unexplainable conflict and how in war innocence is so easily lost. In the beautiful tradition of The Tiger’s Wife and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. Jon

The Blue Between SKy and Water by Susan Abulhawa

A novel set in Gaza, a novel which gives us another side of the story. Heartbreaking, passionate, magical, all these words and more create a truly inspiring novel. By the author of Mornings in Jenin which has been an international success.  Chris

The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle

T C Boyle is a favourite author of mine, he uses a large landscape to write about one family. He slowly drip feeds us about violence in America through the damaged son and his friendship with a woman equally unstable. The tension builds and builds until it erupts with no easy ending. Part thriller, part social commetary this is a book that you will love to hate. Chris

Tightrope by Simon Mawer

I love a good spy novel. Marion Sutro, a British spy was captured by the Gestapo in 1943. She was interrogated and ended up in Ravensbruck concentration camp for a while. When she escaped and returned to England she was revered as a heroine of the resistance. She is broken and begins to doubt her role in the war. During her return to health she starts to miss the adventure and intrigue of her previous life. Still the idealist she turns to peace and her answer she thinks is with communism. Simon Mawer reminds me of William Boyd so quite a treat. Chris

Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh

An historical novel set in China and India during the Opuim Wars. A novel which will want you to learn more about that time and the East India Company. Full of characters whose paths cross between Bengal and mainland China. Lots of detail about the times. If you like your historical novels epic and sweeping this will carry you away. Chris

The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

Scandals abound in this engaging new work from the author of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. When the inquisitive young Willa Romeyn, beautifully reminiscent of Harper Lee’s Scout, encounters the sophisticated Miss Layla Beck, her litany of questions are answered. Recently arrived in Macedonia, West Virginia, for the Federal Writers Project, Miss Beck is tasked with unearthing the town’s history, but not everyone in Macedonia wants the truth to be heard, including some of Willa’s nearest and dearest. A wonderfully immersive story about secrets and their significance. Sally

Forever Young by Steven Carroll

Set against the tumultuous period of change and uncertainty that was Australia in 1977. Whitlam is about to lose the federal election, and things will never be the same again. The times they are a’changing. Radicals have become conservatives, idealism is giving way to realism, relationships are falling apart. A powerfully moving work.

Non-Fiction Books

Ardennes 1944 by Antony Beevor

On 16 December, 1944, Hitler launched his ‘last gamble’ in the snow-covered forests and gorges of the Ardennes. He believed he could split the Allies by driving all the way to Antwerp, then force the Canadians and the British out of the war. The Ardennes offensive, with more than a million men involved, became the greatest battle of the war in Western Europe. 

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

South African born Elon Musk is the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity. Musk wants to save our planet; he wants to send citizens into space, to form a colony on Mars; he wants to make money while doing these things; and he wants us all to know about it.

The Simple Act of Reading by Debra Adelaide

A collection of essays and memoir pieces on the topic of reading, in particular what it means for writers to be readers and how that has shaped their life. The Simple Act of Reading will support Sydney Story Factory by emphasising the importance of reading in shaping an individual’s future.

Gittins by Ross Gittins

With four decades of printers’ ink in his veins, he dissects the newspaper game, remembers the great editors and journalists who have sharpened our minds and his, and lays down some hard facts about a hard future…Honest, robust and intelligent, Gittins is as insightful and entertaining as the man himself.

My Paris Dream by Kate Betts

Former editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar recalls her time in Paris – falling in love, finding herself, and beign initiated into the world of high fashion. Rife with insider information about restaurants, shopping, travel, and food, Betts’s memoir brings the enchantment of France to life — from the nightclubs of Paris where she learned to dance Le Rock, to the lavender fields of Provence and the forests of le Bretagne — in an unforgettable memoir of coming-of-age…

How The French Won Waterloo (Or Think They Did) by Stephen Clarke

Two centuries after the Battle of Waterloo, the French are still in denial. If Napoleon lost on 18 June 1815 (and that’s a big ‘if’), then whoever rules the universe got it wrong. As soon as the cannons stopped firing, French historians began re-writing history. Stephen Clarke has studied the French version of Waterloo, as told by battle veterans, novelists, historians – right up to today’s politicians, and he has uncovered a story of pain, patriotism and sheer perversion.

Musing from the Inner Duck by Michael Leunig

Michael Leunig’s poignantly hilarious new cartoon collection, ranges from Curly Flat to the global positioning sausage, accompanied by the direction-finding duck. This collection of 138 cartoons tilts towards the whimsical, the wise and the sublimely misaligned; it’s less heavily political than previous collections, although the political system cops a serve here and there.

Childrens’ Picture Books

There’s A Bear On My Chair by Ross Collins

Bear settles into poor Mouse’s chair! Mouse tries all the ideas he can think of to get him to move – the chair is not big enough to share. Mouse gives up and decides to leave but who does Bear find when he gets home. Is there a Mouse in Bear’s house? Such fantastic illustrations with a great story to share. Jan

Line Up, Please! by Tomoko Ohmura

Standing in line can be fun when you are with a giraffe, skunk, pig, monkey and many more animals. A cleverly illustrated picture book written with humour and clues as to where the line is going. Jan

Books for Young Readers

The Milkshake Detectives by Heather Butler

Charlie and Julia are certain that the sleepy village of Peddle-Worth must contain some mysteries for their brand new agency – The Milkshake Detectives – to solve. All they need to do is find them! All they need to do is find them! So when somebody called ‘The Bear’ starts leaving strange clues, they can’t wait to put their spy skills to use. The only problem? Everyone else wants to join in the bear hunt too!

Phyllis Wong and the Waking of the Wizard by Geoffrey McSkimming

We are all very excited about the third instalment of this very popular Australian series. Phyllis is part brilliant magician and part sleuth. This is her hardest mystery to solve yet! Can she uncover the truth about one of magic’s most mysterious figures and at the same time save the world form the ‘Great Whimpering” doom that threatens us all. Read it and find out!

Books for Young Adults

The Traitor by Allen Zadoff

The Boy Nobody trilogy comes to an adrenaline-fueled conclusion in Traitor, which sees the Program’s elite soldier now their number one target. Packed with the series’ trademark action and suspense, this series is perfect for readers who’ve outgrown Alex Rider and CHERUB. Simon

Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle

Lucy’s life has turned upside down after the death of her brother. She was state backstroke champion, had  friends, had a life but now all she feels is lost. A great debut novel dealing with isolation, communication, community and love. Jan

 

The uplifting, funny and feel good story of one boy’s incredible survival against the odds.

9780732299842Abdi was a happy-go-lucky, soccer-playing fifteen year old when Somalia’s vicious civil war hit Mogadishu and his world fell apart.  Effectively an orphan, he fled with some sixty others, heading to Kenya.  The journey was perilous, as they faced violence, death squads and starvation. After three months, they arrived at a refugee camp in Kenya. Of the group Abdi had set out with, only a handful had made it to safety.

But as soon as he arrived at the camp, Abdi knew that the only refuge it could provide was death. Abandoned by the UNHCR because the area was too Abdi Aden - high resdangerous, the camp ‘housed’ thousands of sick and starving people waiting to die.  All alone in the world and desperate to find his family, Abdi turned around and undertook the dangerous journey back to Mogadishu. But the search was fruitless, and eventually he made his way – alone, with no money in his pockets, completely dependent on his quick wits and the kindness of strangers – to Romania, then to Germany.  Abdi was just seventeen when he arrived in Melbourne with no English, no family or friends, no money, no home.

Against all odds, this boy not only survived but thrived. Abdi went on to attend high school and later university. He became a youth worker, was acknowledged with the 2007 Victorian Refugee Recognition Award and was featured in the SBS second series of Go Back to Where You Came From.

Abdi’s story is one of hardship and struggle, but also of courage, resilience and heart-warming optimism. Shining is a feel good memoir that will move you to tears, exhilarate you, and at times, against the odds, make you laugh out loud. Abdi, the boy who never lost hope, offers the gift of his tale to readers who want to believe that miracles still happen.

Buy the book here…

WIN a Kobo Aura H2O Ereader

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Kobo Aura H2O is the first premium eReader to have a waterproof* and dustproof design that allows you to take it worry-free from the beach, to the bath, to your bed. Plus, with up to 2 months of battery life, you have the freedom to keep reading, wherever you go. So if you drop it in the bath or accidentally spill a drink on it, your Kobo Aura H2O will still work like new. Just use the included drying cloth to dry the screen, so you can get back to reading**.

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To Win a Kobo Aura H2O, valued at $229.99, sign up to Kobo via Boomerang Books before May 30 to go into the draw.

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The Book Brief: The Very Best New Release Books in May

Each month we bring you the best new release books in our Book Brief.

Get FREE shipping when you use the promo code bookbrief at checkout

Fiction Books

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson has written an extraordinary companion novel to Life After Life returning us to the world of the Todd family and Fox Corner. This time to tell us Ursula’s brother Teddy’s story. This time Atkinson tells the story of just one life, one rich, long, detailed life. But that does not mean it is any less original, imaginative or inventive as its previous companion.  A writer truly at the height of her powers and what a pleasure it is to enjoy. Jon & Chris

God Help The Child by Toni Morrison

Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult.  At the centre: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty,  Bride’s mother takes a lifetime to come to understand that ‘what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.’  Toni Morrison at her best.  Chris

Hush Hush by Laura Lippman

This novel is everything Laura Lippman has been doing so well in her standalone novels but this time with Tess Monaghan. Lippman takes a confronting but tragically all too familiar crime and explores the fallout, years later, for all those involved. Combined with the ups and downs of parenthood this is not only a page-turning addictive mystery but an exploration of motherhood and the lengths, good and bad, mothers will go to for their children. Jon

Pleasantville by Attica Locke

Blends the heated tension of city and suburban politics with the high drama of the courtroom and in doing so shows how easily distorted truth and justice can become. Politics is a tangled web at the best times of times but when big business, a small tight-knit community and money get involved it gets dangerous for all involved, especially the unwitting. Attica Locke tells the story in a way that is both gripping and personal and in doing so keeps you hooked to the final page and beyond. Jon

World Gone By by Dennis Lehane

Lehane brings 1940s Florida to vivid and sweltering life. Boston maybe his literary stomping ground but he shows he can bring all those same skills to wherever he wants. He also returns to the themes he started in The Given Day; fathers and sons. As always with Lehane this is tightly plotted that builds to a blockbuster ending. Jon

The Whites by Harry Brandt

Writing under the transparent pseudonym Harry Brandt, Richard Price again demonstrates he truly is a master when it comes to crime and American life. Price delivers a multi-layered, slow-burning portrayal of friendship, justice and revenge and how easily the three of them can be incompatible. Jon

Ascendance by John Birmingham

The final instalment in the Dave Hooper trilogy brings events to an epic crescendo. The Dave, who has been struggling to come to terms with his recently acquired hero status, has learnt he may not be the special and unique snowflake he led himself to believe. Meanwhile the monsters, who have been unleashed upon the world, are starting to learn and adapt to human technology and tactics and the tide appears to be turning in their favour. Jon

The Green Road by Anne Enright

nne Enright was awarded the Inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction in 2015. Her latest novel is fine example of why. The writing is exquisite, you could read the book just for that experience. It is a meeting of compassion and creativity. This is the story of a family coming together for Christmas because their mother is going to sell the family home. They feel as though their young days are being forgotten and they are indeed growing older. Chris

Non-Fiction Books

On The Move by Oliver Sacks

When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report: ‘Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.’ It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. From its opening pages on his youthful obsession with motorcycles and speed, On the Move is infused with his restless energy. The story of a brilliantly unconventional physician and writer – and of the man who has illuminated the many ways that the brain makes us human.

Farewell Kabul by Christina Lamb

Reporting on the region since the age of 21, Lamb has fought with the mujahadeen dressed as an Afghan boy, experienced a near-fatal ambush and head-on encounter with Taliban forces and successfully established links with American, British, Afghan government, Taliban and tribal fighters. Her unparalleled access to troops and civilians on the ground, as well as to top military officials has ensured that this is the definitive book on the region, exposing the realities of Afghanistan unlike anyone before.

1864 by Tom Buk-Swienty

Told in rich detail through first-hand accounts, Tom Buk-Swienty’s magisterial account of the Schleswig conflict tells the story of this pivotal war. 1864 shows how a minor regional conflict foreshadowed the course of diplomacy that led to the First World War and brutally presaged the industrialised future of warfare. This is a gripping, epic human drama that shows the effect all wars have on the soldiers, on families and on the individual men and women who must live its realities.

Stephen Fry’s Incomplete & Utter History of Classical Music

Stephen Fry presents a potted and brilliantly rambling 700-year history of classical music and the world as we know it. Along this musical journey he casually throws in references to pretty much whatever takes his fancy. Entertaining and brilliantly written, this is a pretty reckless romp of a history through classical music and much much more.

Real by Victoria Alexander

This visually stunning, thought-provoking book is about looking around with awareness, noticing life’s quiet details and knowing that the honesty of time changes everything – from a human face, a family home, or a fragile sampler book of antique lace. Illustrated with photographs taken by the author in 27 countries, Real affirms that we are more alike than we sometimes admit – we all have a desire for warmth and love – and that there is dignity in simple things.

The Challenge of Things by A.C. Grayling

A. C. Grayling’s lucid and stimulating books, based on the idea that philosophy should engage with the world and make itself useful, are immensely popular. Whether he is writing about the First World War and its legacy, free speech, the advantages of an atheist prime minister or the role of science in the arts, his essays are always enlightening, enlivening and hopeful.

Sicily by John Julius Norwich

The stepping stone between Europe and Africa, the gateway between the East and the West, at once a stronghold, clearing-house and observation post, Sicily has been invaded and fought over by Phoenicians and Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans, Goths and Byzantines, Arabs and Normans, Germans, Spaniards and the French for thousands of years. It has belonged to them all – and yet has properly been part of none.

Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard

In Lunch in Paris, Elizabeth Bard fell in love with a handsome Frenchman and moved to the City of Lights. In this mouthwatering follow-up, the couple and their newborn son bid farewell to Paris for rural life in a tiny village in Provence – land of blue skies, lavender fields and peaches that taste like sunshine. 

From India With Love by Latika Bourke

A beautiful memoir of growing up, discovering your heritage and finding peace with who you are. This is a beautiful story of finding your place in the world and finding peace with the path that led you there. 

Childrens’ Picture Books

Pig the Fibber by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Pug is back in an all new bad tempered adventure.  If it wasn’t enough he is selfish ,rude greedy and unreasonable he adds to his lack of virtue fibbing. Pugs antics will have you and young readers in stickers. Ian

I’m A Hungry Dinosaur by Janine Brian

Another gem from the author of I’m a Dirty Dinosaur comes I’m a Hungry Dinosaur, a rhyming picture book. Our favourite dinosaur loves cakes –  flour, icing sugar, 100’s and thousands – shake, stir, mix, bake. Jan

What The Jackdaw Saw by Julia Donaldson

Jackdaw asks all the animals to his birthday party but he can’t understand why they don’t say yes, just tap their heads. Fortunately wise old owl is on hand to help out.  As always the text is full of Donaldson’s charming rhymes and Sharratt’s illustrations are bold and cheerful .This is a book that works on two levels, as a story that engages and entertains and as an introduction to sign language and deafness for the very young.

Books for First Readers

Lily the Elf: The Midnight Owl by Anna Branford

Lily the Elf lives in a miniature elfish world but still faces the dilemmas and adventures of 5 year old girls. A beautiful new series for young readers by the author of the Violet Mackeral series. Jan

Books for Young Readers

My Secret Guide to Paris by Lisa Schroeder

Nora’s grandmother works with a fashion designer in Paris. They have always looked forward to travelling to Paris together so Grandma can show Nora all her favourite places. As Nora is nearly 12  the plans they have are now about to take place. A beautiful adventure around Paris begins with letters and a treasure map. This treasure hunt will make you want to visit Paris yourself. Jan

Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield

This is a fun romp through ancient Rome. Julius is a young Zebra, minding his own business, eating grass, dealing with his annoying younger brother when he is captured by a legionnaire and taken back to Rome to fight in the arena. This is just the start of his adventure! Fast paced, funny and they won’t even know they are learning something. Ian

Books for Young Adults

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of the best high school romance novels I’ve read in years. It’s an honest, occasionally awkward, sometimes heart-wrenching, often hilarious, and completely captivating portrayal of the complicated lives of teenagers. Becky Albertalli’s story is so true to life, and so emotionally honest. It’s a hugely impressive novel, and such a delightful read. Simon

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13 B by Teresa Toten

How hard it must be to live with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). The different ways and triggers it can affect people. Adam is dealing with divorced parents, a young stepbrother and OCD. He joins a support group and knows there may be no cure but there will be ways he can learn to cope with this. A great book to help you understand OCD. Jan

 

Player Profile: Georgia Madden, author of Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum

0a74b18Georgia Madden, author of Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum

Tell us about your latest creation:

Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum follows Ally Bloom, first-time mum and fashionista extraordinaire, as she struggles to find her feet on the suburban SAHM circuit.

9781863957366Where are you from / where do you call home?:

I live with my husband and two children on Sydney’s North Shore.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

An author, always! As a child, I had a funny habit of going into bookshops and touching the spot on the shelf where my book would one day sit. Little did I know that it would take me 40+ years to build up the courage to actually give it a go.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

My children. They’re seven and ten, and I’m still in awe that my husband and I actually made them. They’re fabulous (of course) and nothing like either of us.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

After years of working at a tiny desk in the corner of the bedroom, I finally have an office – with a door! That door is the greatest gift of all. When it’s shut, my kids know that I’m in the thick of things and Daddy’s in charge.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

I recently read Hannah Kent’s Burial Rights (mind-blowing), and re-read Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, just to drink in her delicious prose again.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

The Magic Faraway Tree. Isn’t it everyone’s?

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

I still feel like Bridget Jones, fumbling and bumbling through life and hoping for the best.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I’m an interiors journalist, and write on everything from paint trends to updating your front fence for the likes of House & Garden, Inside Out and Home Beautiful.

I’m also, for the first time, class mum at my son’s school. It’s a tougher gig than I’d anticipated – the mums are pretty forthright with their opinions – but it’s all great material for my next book!

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

I drink far too much coffee and diet coke, and single-handedly keep the avocado industry in profit.

Who is your hero? Why?:

My grandmother Gang Gang on my father’s side. As a young woman, she’d race the train from Sydney to Melbourne in her open top car. Family folklore has it that she always won. She was the only female in her year to study architecture at university; read and argued profusely; and was a dab hand at DIY.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The demise of small, independent bookshops. Online sites are great for nabbing a bargain, but nothing compares to perusing the shelves of your local bookstore, and getting advice on great new reads from people who love books as much as you do. I’ve discovered so many wonderful books this way, and I’ll be forever grateful that I did.

Website: http://www.georgiamadden.com

Twitter: @georgiamadden

Win a Mother’s Day Hamper of Books

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Looking for great  gifts to buy for your Mum? Books make fantastic gifts for Mother‘s Day! And to make your job easier, we’ve released our 2015 Mother‘s Day Catalogue.

If you order from our Mother‘s Day Catalogue before midnight on Sunday 3 May, you’ll get FREE shipping on your order when you use the promotional code code 4mum at the checkout.

PLUS, by using the promo code, you’ll also go into the draw to win a Mother‘sDay book hamper worth over $850.

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The Book Brief: The Very Best New Release Books in April

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Each month we bring you the best new release books in our Book Brief.

Get FREE shipping when you use the promo code bookbrief at checkout

Fiction Books

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

I have already read this book twice! An English Gentleman who has never worked a day in his life is exiled to a remote area of Canada to clear land and grow wheat. Why was he exiled? He leaves behind a wife and a daughter. He works hard and eventually is successful. He marries and has a great friendship with a local brother and sister. Why does he leave? We meet him in an asylum. Why is he there?  So many questions so many answers. Perfect! Chris

Blood On Snow by Jo Nesbo

Olav is a hitman for one of Oslo’s major kingpins. But he dreams of getting out of the life, and finding someone to settle down with. He thinks he’s found her. The only problem? She’s his next target. And she’s also his boss’s wife. Blood on Snow is a short, sharp and brutal piece of noir fiction, and unlike anything else Nesbo has written. Simon

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell

This novel is the shared confessional of three sisters who have decided to kill themselves at the end of the 20th century, honouring the dark legacy that has haunted their extraordinary family for decades.  This is a magnificent tale of fate and partly a memoir of sisters unified by a singular burden, and above all a profound commentary on the events of the 20th century. Darkly funny and very good. Chris

The Lovers of Amherst by William Nicholson

A famous line of Emily Dickinson sums up this novel about her life. I’ve None to tell me to but thee. Who is the person she is telling everything to?  What was the truth about Emily Dickinson and her brother and his lover? A young woman is researching dairies and letters in the hope of writing a movie script. Her own life especially relationships mirror the Dickinson family. Love sex and secrets. William Nicholson brings all these together in a book that has to be made into a movie. Chris

The Defence by Steve Cavanagh

Steve Cavanagh’s debut novel, The Defence, mixes the tough guy dynamic of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher with the smarts of John Grisham’s legal dramas. Think Die Hard in a New York courthouse; a rocket-fast thriller layered with potential for a long-running series starring the con-man-turned-lawyer-turned-drunk Eddie Flynn. Simon

Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon

Berlin 1949, a city grappling with the future, a city grappling with the past. The past makes creates informers as people try to cover up what they did during the war. The future with the English, Russians and Germans create spies. A writer returns to Germany from living in America where he is not welcome during the McCarthy era. His ideals are shattered very quickly as soon as he arrives he wants to leave. Brecht too makes an appearance with his play Mother Courage. Spies and more spies. Wonderful. Chris

Falling In Love by Donna Leon

Many years after Brunetti cleared her name, opera superstar Flavia Petrelli has returned to the illustrious La Fenice to sing the lead in Tosca. When an anonymous admirer inundates her with bouquets of yellow roses – on stage, in her dressing room and even inside her locked apartment – it becomes clear that this fan has become a potentially dangerous stalker. Distraught, Flavia turns to an old friend for help.

Non-Fiction Books

Through The Wall by Anna Bligh

An uplifting memoir of resilience and strength from ex-Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh. Writing with her trademark honesty, warmth and humour about the challenges that public and private life have thrown her, Anna reflects candidly – as a wife, mother, daughter, friend and political leader – on the lessons of leadership, resilience, community and family.

Mothers & Others

In this collection of fiction and non-fiction stories, Australia’s best women writers reflect on motherhood. Their stories tackle everything from the decision not to have children to the so-called battle between working and stay-at-home mums. From infertility and IVF, to step-parenting and adoption, to miscarriage and breastfeeding, child meltdowns and marriage breakdowns, the stories explore and celebrate the full gamut of the motherhood experience, and give a much needed voice to those who won’t ever be called ‘Mum’.

One Life by Kate Grenville

I have never read a biography so tender and so honest. One Life is an act of great imaginative sympathy, a daughter’s intimate account of the patterns in her mother’s life.  What a difficult thing to do. Nance was born  in 1912 and died in 2002. She lived through tremendous change and unheaval. It is a deeply moving homage by one of Australia’s finest writers. Read and be moved about one life lived the best way she could. Chris

Impressive by Kirstie Clements

How do you get your dream job? How do you shine once you have landed it? How do you ask for a pay rise? And, equally importantly, what do you wear to achieve all three? You may only have one shot at getting your stylish foot in the door of the so-called glamour industries. Impressive’s secrets will arm you for success.

The River Cottage Australia Cookbook by Paul West

Featuring recipes from the first three series of River Cottage Australia, this is the cookbook that will reveal the delicious dishes which Paul West has been creating on the farm. The book is divided into seven chapters and includes more than 120 recipes such as pumpkin scones, roasted octopus salad, baked salmon, spiced aubergine salad, pig on a spit, borlotti bean broth, raw courgette salad and warm curb cake with honey rhubarb.

Design with Colour and Style by Shaynna Blaze

Interior design expert Shaynna Blaze is passionate about helping people uncover their own personal interior style. In this book, she explores the intriguing, enticing elements of colour and style and explains how you can use them to transform your home. Using beautiful photographs and practical examples, Shaynna shows how colour affects a space and the mood of those living in it.

Childrens’ Picture Books

How Many Legs? by Kes Gray

How many legs would there be if a squid rode on a buffalo to visit for tea? Then add more four legged, two legged, and eight legged animals to join in the fun. Have you lost count? A fun, hilarious counting book that all the famly will enjoy. Jan 

Teacup by Rebecca Young

This is a beautiful picture book that is both a feast forthe eyes and the soul. A boy must find a new home, and with him across a wild sea journey he takes a bottle , a book anad a blanket….anad a tea cup full of earth from his old playfround. Beautiful and inspiring. Ian

Books for First Readers

Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson

This is a charming gentle first reader from Sweden. Squirrel is all in a panic, her nuts have been stolen and she turns to Detective Gordon, the Chief of Police of the forrest. It’s best not to mention that he is the only policeman and  he spends  most of his day eating cakes . A wonderful book about friendship and learning that thieves will get their comeuppance. Ian

The Terrible Two by Jory John & Mac Barnett

Miles is starting a new school. At his old school he was THE pranskter master but he is about to meet his match at Yawnee Valley.  Made up of short chapters, wickedly funny cartoon and interesting vocabulary this is the perfect bridge from first chapter books to more serious reading. Ian

Books for Young Readers

The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

Oscar and Meg are best friends living next door to each other in Ireland.  When Meg’s family move to New Zealand, Paloma’s family move into their house. Paloma is controlling and sly and believes that “the only way to get ahead in life is to annihilate your rivals”. Oscar and Paloma seem to become friends but when Oscar goes missing it is only Meg and his brother Stevie who believe he is alive. Jan

Fizzlebert Stump and the Girl Who Lifted Quite Heavy Things by A.F. Harrold

Fizzlebert Stump,Fizz to his friends is a boy who loves being in the circus. He has just one (or So he thinks) major problem . He is the boy who puts his head in the lions mouth and his lion has done a bunk…. and the Circuses of Circuses is just around the corner and he need a new act fast !He has a brilliant idea but will it work ? Of course it doesn’t. Laugh out loud funny. Ian

Books for Young Adults

I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Emily believes in destiny especially when her and Sam’s eyes meet across the church and there is an immediate connection. Sam and his little brother Riddle have spent their lives moving around with their unstable father. When Emily and Sam finally meet both Sam and Riddle enjoy the protection and fun that comes from being a family. However, when tragedy strikes they are not sure where they belong. Another gripping story from the author of Counting by 7’s. Jan

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

What an unexpected delight! I was dubious about the possibility of another soulless apocalyptic story. We All Looked Up is certainly not that. It has plenty of depth, and is infused with a wonderful cast. Brilliant! Simon

Review – One Step at a Time by Jane Jolly and Sally Heinrich

9780987380951Inspired by a true story, One Step at a Time exposes the unfortunate reality of the global landmine crisis through the prism of a friendship between a young boy and an elephant. Writer Jane Jolly and artist Sally Heinrich handle this subject with such deftness and clarity to ensure young readers grasp the predicament facing an estimated 70 countries around the world.

According to a 2003 edition of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, over 110 million mines had been spread throughout the world in an estimated 70 countries in the preceding 65 years. These indiscriminate weapons cost around $1 to produce, but around $1,000 to find and destroy, and the vast majority of incidents occur in regions with limited resources and substandard medical infrastructures. These are man-made devices afflicting dastardly mortality rates. The landmine crisis is real, and needs to be talked about.

Of course, the information above is as an ethereal backdrop to the story rather than its focus. One Step at a Time is actually a very uplifting tale. It begins with Mali, a young elephant exploring the border of Thailand and Burma, merrily going about her day, until one misplaced footstep sets off a landmine. Sally Heinrich portrays the devastation of the blast with a powerful two-page spread of black smoke and an enormous BOOM! printed in fiery red. When the smoke clears, poor Mali is clearly injured; unable to stand, utterly helpless. All because she trod on a bad patch of grass.

Thankfully a young boy, Luk, finds Mali, and supports her during her long recovery. They’re kindred spirits: both are victims of landmines, and both are fitted with prosthetic legs. Luk explains to Mali the arduous physiotherapy involved when adjusting to walking with prosthesis, but ensures she’ll be able to do so, and very soon she’ll be able to carry on as before, gaily exploring the jungle. Only from now on, she’ll have a companion: young Luk.

Ultimately a story about friendship and about overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles, One Step at Time handles the subject of landmines with a soft touch. Working in wonderful harmony, Jolly and Heinrich have created an endearing tale for young readers that is both poignant and enlightening.  Children wanting to learn more will gain valuable insight from the page of facts at the book’s end, while there is plenty of information on the web about the inspiration for Mali, Mosha the elephant, who thrives with her prosthetic leg.

Simon McDonald

www.writtenbysime.com

Buy the book here…

Player Profile: Nigel Bartlett, author of King of the Road

Pic of me editedNigel Bartlett, author of King of the Road

Tell us about your latest creation:

My debut novel, King of the Road, was published by Vintage (Random House) in February 2015. It’s a fast-paced crime thriller that follows David Kingsgrove’s descent into hell after his 11-year-old nephew, Andrew, disappears from under his nose.

The novel is based in Sydney and New South Wales. It takes David to places he’d never believed he’d have to go and leads him to carry out acts he’d never imagined he’d have to do.

It wasn’t meant to be a crime thriller – the first draft was meant to be a somewhat literary examination of what happens to a family when your responsible for the loss of a child that’s not your own. The way it changed halfway through the first draft is one of the mysteries of the creative process.

King of the Road coverWhere are you from / where do you call home?:

I arrived in Sydney in 1995 and became an Australian citizen as soon as I was able to, in 2003. I live in the inner-city suburb of Redfern, which I’ve been proud to call home for the past 10 years.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

Growing up, I dreamt of several possible careers.

The earliest I can remember is wanting to be a car designer (at the age of 11 or 12). In my teens I wanted to be a social worker (age 14/15), then an architect/interior designer (16/17), but I was no good at maths or art, and eventually I settled on journalism, which has allowed me to explore many of my interests.

I first articulated my dream of having a novel published when I was 22. It took me a further 28 years to achieve that goal. King of the Road was published on my 50th birthday. A very happy coincidence (or possibly something else, if you believe in general spookiness).

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

King of the Road is my debut novel. I’m very proud of it, and delighted with the reaction it’s received so far. It’s had excellent reviews on 2GB radio and in Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph, for example, and reader feedback has been outstanding. It’s extremely gratifying to hear people say they’ve picked up the book in the morning and not put it down until the evening!

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

I write at a desk at one end of my large combined living room/kitchen/dining area in my flat in Redfern.

The desk becomes quite disordered when I’m not writing, but I have a pre-writing ritual in which I clear all the papers and other junk that gather during the week around the keyboard and stack them either on my kitchen table or on the filing drawers next to my desk. I don’t like to write surrounded by clutter, although I can probably write anywhere.

This leads to the situation in which all my bills, articles to read and other bits and pieces of junk end up in a neat stack, which I never go through until I’m forced to find something I need. It’s not ideal, but it means I can write unhindered by jobs to do. And usually after a while I forget most of the articles and so on that I think are so essential, proving to me that what I think is important really isn’t.

One or both of my cats (Marcus and Will – they’re brothers) will often join me on the desk while I’m writing. When that happens I have to wait for them to settle on either side of my keyboard so they don’t disturb me with their demands for attention. Snoozing cats are very conducive to writing.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

My all-time favourite author is Anne Tyler (Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Saint Maybe, Digging to America, etc etc) and I can read anything by her repeatedly.

I’m also a huge fan of Nick Hornby, especially About a Boy (my cats are named after the two main characters).

However, most of the books I read these days are crime novels or crime thrillers. It’s hard to name favourites, but here are a few I love: Kate Atkinson (the Jackson Brodie series), PM Newton, Ian Rankin, Peter Temple, Michael Robotham, Dennis Lehane. I’ll read any crime author to see how they do it.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

In my young childhood I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five and Secret Seven series, and it’s only now that I realise how much I loved the mystery element of those books as much as their carefree existence and enormous breakfasts and high teas.

In my teens I felt a huge need to struggle through DH Lawrence novels and Somerset Maugham, but I remember devouring Agatha Christie novels whenever I was on holiday. They felt like a guilty pleasure when I “should” have been reading something more worthy.

(I turned to DH Lawrence again in my 30s and was able to appreciate him much more fully. Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Sons & Lovers remain two of my favourite novels.)

A book that has always stayed with me from my school days is Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves. It gave me my first glimpse into the horrors of the First World War, in an eminently readable way.

Most importantly, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee left a profound impression on me. I’ve never forgotten Atticus Finch’s advice to his daughter, Scout, that you can never truly understand a person until you “climb into someone’s skin and walk around in it”. Every kid should be given that advice when they start school.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

Um, very hard to decide. I do like Will Freeman in About A Boy, largely because of the transformation he goes through in the novel. He’s not especially nice at the start, just like many of us (or is that just me??), but he becomes extremely likeable by the end. He shows there’s hope for us all.

I’d love to be Miss Marple, because she lives in a quaint English village and spends time in such beautiful parts of Britain. And she seems never to have had a day job. I’d prefer not to have a gender reassignment though.

I’d very much like to be Jack Reacher, because he’s completely fearless, has no qualms about not changing his underwear and is very tall, handsome and strong. He’s a bit screwed-up, but aren’t we all? (Or, again, is that just me??) And I’m not sure what his political views are. I’d need to check those out first before I swapped places with him.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

I’m an avid gym goer and love exercise in general – lifting weights, cycling and running. They’re all great mood-changers and endorphin and seratonin boosters. Plus, they help counteract the effects of long hours at the computer. Having recently turned 50, the challenge is to keep neck and shoulder injuries in check after spending most of my adult lifetime staring at a screen.

I love television, in particular British crime series (Happy Valley and Scott & Bailey are brilliant – Sally Wainwright is The Best TV Writer On The Planet).

I can watch The Great British Bake Off until the cows come home. At one stage I had three series on the go, thanks to a DVD of the most recent series sent over from the UK and two previous series being aired concurrently on Gem.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

My culinary tastes are not highly refined. I enjoy posh restaurant meals from time to time, but I can think of better things to spend my money on.

If it’s a Friday or Saturday night, I’m very happy when any menu has lamb shanks or chicken schnitzel and mash on it, with a thick gravy or mushroom sauce. Monday to Friday I generally avoid sugar. I have to, believe me.

Favourite drink is easy: tea, tea and more tea. Very strong English breakfast (often with two teabags). I drink around 10 mugs of it a day. I’m sure it’s the reason for the arthritis in my big toe.

Who is your hero? Why?:

Once upon a time I would have said my hero was Lance Armstrong, because of the way he fought back from cancer, overcame enormous physical challenges to become a winner once again and dedicated his life to helping others to Live Strong. Sadly, he’s blotted his copybook.

I have heroes who perform amazing physical feats, whether they be everyday “unknown” people who transform their weight or shape despite huge setbacks or bodily challenges and disabilities, or well-known people who’ve set records, inspired others or gone to extreme lengths to achieve their goals.

Other heroes are people who’ve been able to forgive those who’ve committed terrible acts against them or caused them profound heartache. Examples that spring to mind are the parents at the end of Dead Man Walking, or Philomena Lee, as played by Judi Dench in the movie Philomena.

I have no idea whether their real-life counterparts were as forgiving as they were portrayed in those films, but if so, they’ve set a high bar that I don’t think I’d ever be able to reach.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The greatest challenge lies in persuading people to put down their smartphones and pick up a book or e-reader instead. Unless, of course, they’re reading books on their phones. It’s hard for me to tell without wandering up and down the train carriage and peering over their shoulders. Occasionally I do that as I make my way to the exit.

This challenge, by the way, applies equally to me. Facebook and Instagram are like crack cocaine as far as my brain is concerned.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NigelBartlettKingOfTheRoad

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Nigel__Bartlett

Guest Blog Post: On the writing of ‘Celebrating Australia, a year in poetry’ by Lorraine Marwood

Celebrating_Australia_CVR-HRIntro: This is my sixth book with Walker books Australia and all the books are either poetry collections or verse novels. They are written for children (and always adults too)

What does it take to write a whole collection of poems about the word ‘Celebration’?

Well it takes lots of research, remembering, collecting ideas, words, customs, traditions and finding an immediate way into a topic that brings that child and adult reader right into the middle of a special time.

It also took a year of writing and reflecting and rewriting. Seventy two poems star in this collection, but many more were written but just didn’t make it to the final cut.

My editor Mary, encouraged and suggested and thoroughly went through each poem for balance, word choice and overall appeal. Thanks Mary.

Some celebrations made the backbone of the collection like: Australia day, Easter, Valentine’s day, Anzac day, Christmas. I wanted the seasons included as a demarcation of changes and progression in the book. Once the autumn poem was written (which incidentally was the first poem I wrote for the collection) then I used the same beat, word count and line break for the other seasonal poems.

My poetry shows that I love concrete details, sound words, sensory images and a unique patterning for each poem. I also love unexpected surprises and poetry is a great format for this.

Each poem is a little universe, with a beginning, a middle and end that spins you around to the beginning again.

I love embracing all the multi-cultural high points of the year like: Harmony day, Chinese New Year, Bastille day, Ramadan, Hanukkah, to name a few.

Throw in some quirky celebrations like talk like a pirate day and International dot day and there’s a poem to read for every Australian milestone in the year.

Lorraine Marwood lives in central Victoria and loves writing, reading, gardening crafting , writing and has a big family and even bigger collection of grandchildren. Her verse novel ‘Star Jumps’ won the children’s section of the Prime Minster’s literary prize. www.lorrainemarwood.com

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The Book Brief: The Very Best New Release Books in February

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Each month we bring you the best new release books in our Book Brief.
Get FREE shipping when you use the promo code bookbrief

Fiction Books

Useful by Debra Oswald

I was really reminded of The Rosie Project while I was reading this very entertaining novel. It has all the humour and poignancy of that book. A man feels that life just isn’t easy, he has made a few awful mistakes and feels he has failed at so many things. He decides to do something useful like donate a kidney. However he finds being altruistic is also not easy! Chris

Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty

Full of McKinty’s wickedly black humour and brilliantly plotted this just maybe the best book in an exceptional series so far. The Sean Duffy trilogy was already something special and Gun Street Girl not only reaffirms that but makes it even better. Jon, Chris, Phil & Simon

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

This a novel that will shock you, surprise you and make you rethink your view of the world and the people in it. It is exactly what all great fiction should do and does so with style, honesty and empathy. It will strike a nerve, it will make you angry and break your heart and is a novel you will never forget, and nor should you. Jon

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

While this is ultimately a very sad story it is also a moving and insightful story about the weight of identity. How that weight is put on us by people around us and how that weight is passed down generations and how the best intentions can have tragic and unforeseen consequences. An incredible exploration of grief and family and the pressures of expectations that come from both. Jon

The Little Old Lady Who Struck Lucky Again! by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg

The little old lady is back! This time, Martha Andersson and her friends – the League of Pensioners – have left behind their dreary care home in Stockholm and are enjoying the bright lights of Las Vegas. A truly laugh out loud novel, if only I might have this much fun at 80! They are robbing the rich to help the poor but will they go too far? Chris

Emergence by John Birmingham

John Birmingham delivers in spades in the first book of his explosive new trilogy. Birmingham mixes up a combination of Middle Earth orcs with a Marvel universe sensibility but with his own trademark humour and insight firmly stamped all over any comparisons. Jon

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. One day she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. What will she do? Great thriller. Chris

The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Sarah’s  twenty-two year old son, Cully, has been killed in an avalanche, and she is trying to pick up the pieces of her life. One day shortly after the funeral a girl turns up with a few surprises about Cully. Told in Kaui Hart Hemmings’ unsentimental and refreshingly wry style, this is a novel about what we will risk to keep our loved ones close – a novel full of hope, humour and love. Chris

Non-Fiction Books

The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge

As he did so lucidly in The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge presents exciting, cutting-edge science with practical real-world applications, and illustrates how anyone can apply the principles of neuroplasticity to improve their brain’s performance.

Marissa Mayer and the Fight To Save Yahoo! by Nicholas Carlson

From her controversial rise and fall from power at Google, to her dramatic reshaping of Yahoo’s work culture, people are obsessed with, and polarised by, Marissa Mayer’s every move. She is full of fascinating contradictions: a feminist who rejects feminism, a charmer in front of a crowd who can’t hold eye contact in one-on-ones, and a geek who is Oscar de la Renta’s best customer. Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! tells her story.

Mayday by Matt O’Sullivan

Big egos, public spats, betrayal and revenge – the decline of the national carrier has all the makings of a modern corporate tragedy. So how did it come to this? This is the inside story of how Qantas flew off course. This vivid, highly readable account of the fall of Qantas is the story of big egos in a high-stakes fight for supremacy of the skies, and of a company of tribes at war with itself.

Paul Keating by David Day

Paul Keating was one of the most significant political figures of the late twentieth century, firstly as Treasurer for eight years and then Prime Minister for five years. Although he has spent all of his adult life in the public eye, Keating has eschewed the idea of publishing his memoirs and has discouraged biographers from writing about his life. Undaunted, best-selling biographer David Day has taken on the task of giving Keating the biography that he deserves.

Growing Great Kids by Father Chris Riley

Compulsory reading for parents, teachers and anyone who has anything to do with young people. A must-have book for all parents, youth workers and teenagers on parenting and raising children. a priceless guide through the maze of childhood and adolescence for both parents and their children and, with so many real life stories to tug on the heart-strings, the kind of gripping read no one will be able to put down. 

Money, Marriage and Divorce by Paul Clitheroe

Money is always a tricky subject to broach, especially when you’ve just found the love of your life. But Paul Clitheroe, expert financial advisor, says it’s never too early to have the conversation. By agreeing on a financial plan, you will eliminate many money-related arguments and together you can build more wealth than you could separately.

Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook

Bestselling author Rachel Khoo is on the go once again with her latest cookbook, Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook. Her latest cookbook is packed to the brim with 100 standout recipes, full-colour photography and Rachel’s very own sketches of the food and places she encounters. Out and about, she finds the most delicious fare, recording it all in her kitchen notebook.

Childrens’ Picture Books

Thelma The Unicorn by Aaron Blabey

Full of Aaron’s orginally and quirky humour, this is the story of one pony’s search for  her true self. Thelma longs to be more than the ordinary pony she is, then one day through a series of fortunate accidents she is transformed into a  unicorn. But is fame all it’s cracked up to be? Jan

Recipe For A Story by Ella Burfoot

Every wondered how hard it is to write a story? Well the star of this charming story thinks it is as easy as baking a cake. Take cup of thoughts, add some characters and sprinklle liberally with full stops and capital lettes. A wonderful introduction to the joys of reading and writing. Ian

Books for Young Readers

Friday Barnes: Under Suspicion by R. A. Spratt

Friday Barnes is back in her second adventure. Having solved her first case, she didn’t expect  to find herself arrested and in trouble with the authorities! Boarding school continues to be a labyrinth of complications that leave her wondering if she has made the right choice. Of course there is a mystery to solve too! Jan

The Dark Wild by Piers Torday

Kerster is no ordinary boy. He has an extraordinary gift – the ability to talk to animals. In a future where humanity has retreated to a single island, it is believed that all animals are extinct. Only Kerster knows their secrect hiding place. So when the animals plan an uprising against their human enemies, Kester is the only one who can stop them! A book full of courage and the triumph of the underdog faced against impossible odds. Jan

Books for Young Adults

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14: A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school. Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder. Frankie Landau-Banks at age 16: Possibly a criminal mastermind. This is the story of how she got that way. This is a fresh take on the boarding school experience starring a strong female lead. Simon

Stella By Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

This is a new wonderfully mocving and inspiring novel form the auithor of Out of Mind. Brimming with courage, compassion and resilience, is set in North Carolina during the Depression; a less than hospitable time and place for African-Americans. When 11-year-old Stella and her brother witness nine robed figures burning a cross near their home late one night, she knows life in Bumblebeeis about to change. Jan

Children’s Non Fiction

A is for Australia by Frané Lessac

Do you know what the Fremantle Doctor is? Or where Qui Qui is? If not, then this is the book for you. Full of useful tidbits and humorous illustrations, it makes a perfect gift for visitors or just the plain curious. Ian

The Indie Book Awards 2015 Shortlist Announcement

Get FREE shipping when you use the promo code indies15 at checkout

Every December 170+ independent Australian booksellers take stock of the year in books and nominate their favourite Australian titles for the Indie Book Awards shortlist. The shortlist falls into four categories – fiction, non-fiction, debut fiction and children’s and YA books.

The Indie Book Awards shortlists for 2015 are as follows:

FICTION SHORTLIST:

When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett (Hachette Australia)

Amnesia by Peter Carey (Penguin Books Australia)

Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett (Penguin Books Australia)

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion (Text Publishing)

 

NON- FICTION SHORTLIST:

This House of Grief by Helen Garner (Text Publishing)

Bush by Don Watson (Penguin Books Australia)

Where Song Began by Tim Low (Penguin Books Australia)

Cadence by Emma Ayres (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

 

CHILDREN’S & YA SHORTLIST:

The 52-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (illus)(Pan Macmillan Australia)

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey (Scholastic Australia)

Withering By Sea by Judith Rossell (ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Laurinda by Alice Pung (Black Inc. Publishing)

 

DEBUT FICTION SHORTLIST:

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis (Hachette Australia)

Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clark (Hachette Australia)

The Strays by Emily Bitto (Affirm Press)

After Darkness by Christine Piper (Allen & Unwin)

LEB Indie Award shortlist Poster 2015_F SMALL. jpeg

Judges from the Leading Edge group of booksellers will select the Indie Book Award winner of each category and the Indie Book Awards overall winner is voted on by the Leading Edge group as a whole.

The Indie Book Awards category winners and the Indie Book Awards overall winner for 2015 will be announced at an event in the Sydney CBD on Wednesday 25 March.

The Indie’s, as they are affectionately known, are the first cab off the rank on the Australian literary awards calendar and have become an excellent early indicator of the books to watch in the coming awards season. As the Bafta’s are to the Golden Globes, and to the Oscars – so the Indie Book Awards are the Australian literary awards early herald. Presented annually since 2008, the previous overall winners of the Indie Book Awards are Breathe by Tim Winton (Penguin, 2008), Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (Allen and Unwin, 2009), The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do (Allen and Unwin, 2010/2011), All That I Am by Anna Funder (Penguin, 2012) The Light between Oceans by M L Stedman (Vintage, 2013) and The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Vintage, 2014). Flanagan’s instant classic went on to win several other prestigious literary awards in Australia and ultimately the 2014 Man Booker prize which was presented to him in London.

“Good Australian writing needs good Australian bookshops to prosper. Without them Australian writers are one more endangered species whose bush has been bulldozed”
– Richard Flanagan

The independent bookshops of Australia are feisty and adaptive small businesses powered by creative entrepreneurial owner-operator personalities. They are savvy marketeers and early adapters, passionate readers and popular culture buffs. They keep abreast of their customers’ interests and values and trade on a system based on authenticity, loyalty and trust. Independent booksellers personally select the books they stock and hand-sell – therefore it is those books and those choices that ultimately keep business fluid, staff employed, orders arriving in and most importantly customers returning for more great reads and spot on recommendations. An independent bookseller will only hand-sell a title when the quality of the book merits that sale, so we can see the Indie Book Awards shortlist represents the very best Australian books brought to market in 2014 as selected by those who really know their stuff – it’s worth listening to them.

The independent bookselling landscape is in very good shape:

· The independent booksellers have in the past 5 years increased their market share by 50%
· In 2014 the independent booksellers market share of the total Australian market was just under 30%
· The total Australian book market was valued at $937million in 2014
All figures provided by the Leading Edge Group and Nielsen Bookscan

In Australia our army of independent booksellers represent the grassroots frontline of our society’s intellectual good health and cultural exchange. There is no author who does not wish to be championed by independent booksellers; so invested are they in the success of the book – from writers support groups, first draft to final, early buzz, online blogs, bookstore front window displays to in-store signing sessions.

“As a reader and now as a debut novelist, independent booksellers have been fellow literature lovers, astute advisers and fonts of knowledge on the subject of quality writing. When publicising After Darkness, the indie booksellers I met went above and beyond to promote it, taking the time to understand the book’s themes, get to know me and craft a personal approach. The book reviews, blogs and awards they facilitated have had a huge impact on creating interest in my work and, more importantly, building a community of Australian readers and writers”
Christine Piper author of After Darkness

“I was delighted and honoured to hear that Withering-by-Sea had been shortlisted for this award. The independent booksellers have been very supportive of me, and of other Australian writers and illustrators, and so this award is a very special one. Thank you for choosing my book”
Judith Rossell author of Withering-by-Sea

“I am so excited about this YA announcement. I’m very grateful to independent booksellers all over the country who’ve so enthusiastically supported Laurinda.”
Alice Pung author of Laurinda

“The thing about booksellers is that when they read a book, they must not merely read it; they must read it from the point of view of everyone in the world, any person at all who might arrive in their bookshop. It’s an incredible skill, and one I’ve often thought might make things a little better for ourselves, were we all to learn it: the ability to understand another’s version of the world. Their customers might say, ‘I’d like a book that doesn’t have any sad bits,’ or ‘I’d like book that has dinosaurs but is set in the year 3000,’ or ‘I’d like a book that has a red cover and was in your window seventy-five years ago,’ and the bookseller will gallantly put their hands on hips, smile politely, and reply, ‘Never fear, dear customer. We have the book for you. Trust me.’ And we do trust them, these superheroes of the book world, and so we should, because they know all there is to know about all books everywhere. And if they don’t, they know how to find out. As an Australian author, I’m beyond grateful to our Indie booksellers for being so passionate and fearless and creative in their support of Australian writing. As an Australian indie bookseller, I’m beyond proud of my industry for being so passionate and fearless and creative in their support of Australian writing. Thank you for deeming Lost & Found worthy of shortlisting in the Debut Fiction category at the 2015 Indie Book Awards, for the respect you give my work and those of my colleagues, and for building bridges between Australian writers and readers. Indie booksellers rule, and we wouldn’t be a country that reads—and writes—without them”
Brooke Davis author of Lost and Found

“Independent bookshops are my home, a sanctuary from a busy world – a place where I find all of my favourite books. I have had so much support from Indies all around the country and I feel incredibly grateful. Thank you”
Favel Parrett author of When the Night Comes

“To be nominated for a debut fiction Indie Award is a quite singular honour. To see Foreign Soil, the product of gruelling years of writing, research and emotional energy, so well received by the Australian independent bookstores I spent so many years browsing, buying, loitering and being inspired in as an emerging writer myself, seems nothing short of miraculous – particularly in a year which has seen so many strong Australian fiction debuts”
Maxine Beneba Clarke author of Foreign Soil

“I’m over the moon to be shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards. It’s particularly meaningful to me because the Indies are voted by Leading Edge booksellers themselves, who are among the most passionate supporters of books, and who know the industry so intimately. This is a real honour!”
Emily Bitto author of The Strays

“Independent bookshops are the lifeblood of our industry. Without the knowledge and passion of independent bookshop staff it’s hard to imagine how I would have come across many of the non-mainstream books that have fired my imagination and fuelled my creativity over the years. It’s also difficult to imagine how my own books would have fared without their enthusiasm and support”
Andy Griffiths author of The 52-Storey Treehouse

“We are thrilled that Emma’s book has been so warmly embraced by readers across Australia. Although ostensibly a memoir, Cadence is hard to pigeon-hole: there are many layers to her book and Emma weaves them together with skill and grace. It is an absolute triumph for a first-time author, and we are delighted that Cadence has been shortlisted in the Indie Book Awards”
Brigitta Doyle, Head of ABC Books, HarperCollins Publishers

Buy the shortlist titles here and get FREE shipping…

A Riveting Novel Based on the True Brutal Murder of Three Teenage Girls

A novel this good is a rare and precious gift for lovers of fiction

A riveting novel about the aftermath of the real life brutal murder of three teenage girls, written in incantatory prose ‘that’s as fine as any being written by an American author today’ (Ben Fountain)

see how small
SCOTT BLACKWOOD

Demy no bleed.inddShortly before midnight on the 6th of December 1991, in Austin, Texas, a patrolling police officer noticed a fire coming from a yoghurt shop and reported it to his dispatcher. Fire fighters were horrified to discover three girls’ bodies stacked on top of one another. All were bound and gagged with their own clothes. Each victim had been shot in the head.

The girls had been seen alive at the shop as late as 10pm – they had planned a sleepover together for that night.

The initial investigation spanned nearly eight years. Two men initially confessed to the murders and were convicted but they were released by 2009 due to lack of evidence. As of 2011 Austin police department has five cold-case detectives working on the case.

Scott Blackwood was living in Austin at the time and he remembered how the media took away the girls identities and because of that Scott wanted to capture their essence that he felt had been lost – via this book.

See How Small is a beautiful book that blends multiple points of view to give the reader the full impact of the ripple effects from the day these young lives were cut short.

Buy the book here…

Our Hopping Mad Sale – Up To 30% Off – Ends New Year’s Eve

Our annual ‘Hopping Mad’ Sale has kicked off and you can enjoy up to 30% off a great range of books right now atBoomerang BooksWe hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying a restful Boxing Day.

Besides being a day of recovery, dish-washing, eating ‘leftovers’ and cricket-watching, Boxing Day also signals the commencement of the Boomerang Books End-of-Year ‘Hopping Mad’ Sale.

We’ve got a fantastic range of books that are discounted by up to 30% off the normal retail price.

So, why battle the Boxing Day crowds when you can stay at home and do your post-Christmas book shopping on the web, in the comfort of your own home?

The sale closes at midnight on New Year’s Eve – so get cracking and visit Boomerang Books right now..

Visit Boomerang Books right now…

Your Last Minute Gift Solution

Boomerang Books Gift Vouchers make awesome Christmas Gifts. Here are 9 reasons why you need to buy a Boomerang Books Gift Voucher right now…

1. Ok, admit it…you’ve left your Christmas shopping until the last minute, haven’t you? And now you need to buy something quick smart! Boomerang Books Gift Vouchers are the answer. Guaranteed to arrive before Christmas morning via email.

2.  Ever had to force a smile when presented with a gift that you don’t really want at Christmas?  No fear with our Gift Vouchers! Everyone loves books and your gift recipient can choose what they want from our extensive range of titles.  Let them have the fun of choosing, rather than making the wrong choice on their behalf.

3.  Could you really be bothered battling the crowds at your local shopping centre on Christmas Eve?  No thank you.

4.  Our Gift Vouchers are sent via email, so we guarantee that yourGift Voucher will be delivered to you or directly to your gift recipient by Christmas morning (as long as you order by midnight Christmas Eve).

5.  Take the ‘green’ approach and save on postage and packaging by sending your Gift Voucher directly to the recipient via email. They’ll receive it via their email address, and you’ll get a ‘drop copy’ as proof of delivery. How convenient!

6.  Alternatively, you can opt to have the Gift Voucher sent to your own email address, and then you can print off the voucher and present it to your gift recipient in person on Christmas Day. How personal!

7.  Boomerang Books Gift Vouchers don’t have to be used in one hit — Gift Vouchers work over multiple transactions from our online bookstore, so your gift recipient can space out their purchases as they see fit.

8.  Boomerang Books Gift Vouchers are valid for 12 months from purchase, so your gift recipient has plenty of time to redeem their voucher.

9.  When you buy Boomerang Books Gift Vouchers, you are supporting a small Australian business, not that big American online bookstore beginning with an ‘A’.

Buy a Boomerang Books Gift Voucher right now…

My Bookish Confession

roadside picnicIt is time for some book confessions and I have got a real strange one to confess. Some people break spines, some read the last page first, mine is completely different. I first really noticed this while reading the Russian sci-fi classic Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky. I was half way through the book and I thought ‘this book is amazing’, there are all these interesting ideas about science and technology; then I wanted the book to end.

I did some research in other books I’ve read recently and it seemed to happen with them as well. No matter how much I enjoy the plot and characters, I seem to be contently seeking out the themes within the books. This isn’t really a bad thing, I am trying to train my brain to read critically and analyse the text as I am going along. However I don’t want to lose interest in a book once I find a major theme.

middlemarchI had a think about the books and I realised Middlemarch took me so long because I would find a theme to really sink my teeth into and I would spend so much time thinking about what this novel said about it and forget to continue reading. The problem with this is that Middlemarch is pretty much a social commentary on provincial live and there are so many themes within the book to explore. I had to force myself to go back and continue reading and then I would fixate on another theme for a while and lose interest with the rest of the book again.

Another example would be The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery where there are so many philosophical ideas that I want to investigate it tends to distract me from the rest of the book. The only problem is that I don’t know that much about philosophy, so I have to spend more time researching ideas than actually enjoying the book. I did however manage to finish The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Roadside Picnic and Middlemarch; I love them all dearly and I think that is because I spent some much time thinking about them. It is just a really weird bookish quirk I have and I am not sure if it is entirely useful.

Hey! Nietzsche!I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I am so weird and why I am constantly searching for themes in books. I do enjoy critical reading and I have a keen interest in literary criticism so if I train myself to actually focus on the book in search of more themes, maybe I will be less likely to lose interest halfway through. I think this quirk started when I first discovered reading; the book was Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone! by Craig Schuftan. This non-fiction book explores the link between The Romantic Movement and modern rock music and it too me six months to read. Not because I am a slow reader, but because I had to read most of the books and poetry referenced here. It sparked a passion within me, not just of reading but also of learning.

Now it’s your turn to confess; are there any bookish confessions you want to make? Now is your chance to share them.

Michael’s Merry Christmas List

Christmas is almost here and like all book nerds, now is the time to think about the books to buy and give to our loved ones. I secretly try to find books that will turn my friends and family into bibliophiles, it is all about matching the right book with the right person. Here are some suggestions that I am thinking about getting for my loved ones that might help others with books that you might not have thought of before.

The Book with no PicturesThe Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

Nothing will bring more pleasure than giving a friend with small kids a book with ridiculous words. The kids will enjoy making their mother or father act a little childish. The premise of this book is great; it is mixed with humour as well as teaching children about the joys of reading. B.J. Novak is best known for his role as Ryan Howard on The Office but he is certainly a writer to watch.

yes pleaseYes Please by Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler is a comedian and improv actor currently playing Lesley Knope on the hit sitcom Parks and Recreation. This is fun and quirky collection of essays about Amy Poehler’s life and passions. Yes Please follows in the same footsteps as fellow SNL actor Tina Fey, whose memoir Bossypants, took the literary world by storm a few years ago. If you are a fan of Parks and Recreation I would also recommend Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living by Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson). Yes Please also makes a great audiobook.

Choose Your Own AutobiographyChoose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris played Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, he is a Tony award winner and now he has released a memoir with a unique perspective. Mixing the nostalgia of the old Choose You Own Adventure novels with a memoir about pop culture is sure to be a winner for anyone lucky enough to receive this as a gift. Neil Patrick Harris is an incredibly gifted performer who recently transitioned to the big screen with a role in Gone Girl.

station 11Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven has received plenty of hype lately; it is a dark and stylistic post-apocalyptic novel. The book tells the story of a group of thespians who travel around America performing Shakespeare. While the premise of the book sounds a little boring, this book has been doing really well with critics and book lovers around the world. I think it is one of the best post-apocalyptic novels I have read in a long time. For fans of books like The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Passage by Justin Cronin.

The Secret History of Wonder WomanThe Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

I am sure everyone knows someone that is a fan of comic books and let’s face it, Wonder Woman is always going to be one of the greatest superheroes. This book tells the history of not just this iconic superhero but also her creator, William Moulton Marston. This book follows not just the creation of Wonder Woman in 1941 but also the struggle for women’s rights throughout the 20th century. A fascinating book of pop-culture and feminism; this book has plenty to offer.

Merciless GodsMerciless Gods by Christos Tsiolkas

This is a risky pick and is definitely not for everyone but a collection of short stories from the Australian author of The Slap and Barracuda can make for a great present. This is a collection that deals with Love, sex, death, family, friendship, betrayal, tenderness, sacrifice and revelation so you will need to be very selective about who you give this book to. However Tsiolkas is a great author that is always ready to challenge his readers and that is something I respect.

Foxglove SummerFoxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

If you know people that love fantasy novels then Ben Aaronovitch might be the perfect choose for them. Be warned this is book five in the Peter Grant series but they work well as stand-alone novels too. Peter Grant is a London cop that is part of a small task force that deals with supernatural crimes. Urban fantasy is a great genre that normally mixes fantasy and crime into an urban setting. Think The Dresden Files (or the TV show Supernatural) with a sense of humour. These books are quirky, a little nerdy, but always a lot of fun.

What We See When We ReadWhat We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund

This book is a must for all book lovers; it explores the phenomenology of reading itself. From the visual to the images our mind paints while reading, What We See When We Read is just the perfect book to have on the bookshelf. It is a stunning piece of art and literary criticism and will leave all readers pondering the art of reading for a long time. Peter Mendelsund designs book covers and has spent a lot of time working out the philosophy and psychology behind reading. I highly recommend this book.

All That Is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon

As book lovers we always look for ways to put our favourite books into the hands of everyone. All That Is Solid Melts into Air is my favourite for 2014 and if you are a fan of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra, then go out and get this book. This novel follows a group of people as they try to live their lives in the Soviet Union, but then the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happens and everything changes. This is a beautiful and haunting novel that deals with the social and political issues of the cold war era.

As you can see, for the most part I have picked books that will easily bridge the gap between TV and movies to books. Most of my friends and family are pop-culture nerds and view TV as the ultimate source of entertainment. This is the main reason why I went for books that will help them transition (hopefully) into a love of reading. Happy Holidays everyone and let me know what books you plan to buy for your loved ones in the comments below.

Tell us your favourite book of 2014 and WIN!

97803565025642014 is drawing to a close and what another fantastic year of books and reading it has been. To celebrate we are giving away 8 copies of one of our favourite books of 2014; The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North (you can read our review here). All you have to do is tell your favourite book of 2014.

To Win:

1) Like this Post on Facebook, Favourite on Twitter or +1 on Google+

2) Share this Post on Facebook, Retweet or share on Google+

3) Be an active member of Boomerang Books (sign up here and get a $5 credit)

4) Tell us your favourite book of 2014

Entries close 5pm AEST Friday December 19.

This promotion is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or Google+

9780356504582And if you’ve already read The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August look out for her new novel, Touch, due out in March 2015.

A Celebration of an Icon

A Christmas gift packed with retro style and vintage charm!

my-dream-kombiThe Kombi, the iconic Volkswagen van that first rolled off the production line on 12 Nov 1949, ceased production at the end of 2013. A van for the people, nearly everyone has a Kombi story: Peter Falconio vanished from one in the outback, in Men At Work’s Down Under, they travel in a ‘fried-out Kombi’ and generations of young Australians and New Zealanders have relied on Kombis to take them on surfing safaris and to travel meccas.

My Dream Kombi is celebration of this retro icon, with cool photos and fabulous stories of Kombi adventures past and present, as well as tales of stylish makeovers and re-purposing. From the Kombi your hippy parents set off for Byron Bay in back in the 1960s to contemporary refurbs and down ‘n’ dirty Ratties, this book is packed with retro Kombi charm from Australia, New Zealand and other Kombi hotspots.

Buy the Book here…