Boomerang Book Bites: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

This is an outstanding novel that deserves all the accolades and then some. It is so witty and cutting in it’s dissection of America’s attitude to the Vietnam War (or as the Vietnamese call it the American War). It is not just an anti-war novel but it is THE anti-Vietnam War novel bringing a perspective to the war, the conflict and it’s aftermath, that has been purposely ignored all these years.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Sympathizer/Viet-Thanh-Nguyen/book_9781472151377.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: The Life And Death Of Sophie Stark by Anna North

This is an incredible read. Mesmerizing, hypnotic, addictive it captures you from its opening lines and doesn’t let go long after you have put the book down.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Life-and-Death-of-Sophie-Stark/Anna-North/book_9781474603072.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray

This is essentially a comedy set in a Dublin investment bank post-Global Financial Crisis. While there doesn’t seem to be much to laugh about the financial crisis in Europe Paul Murray has written a witty and insightful novel that will have you in stitches. At the same time he blurs the lines between the reader and the writer with a meta storyline that doesn’t just have everything come full circle upon itself but creates an almost helix that keeps going even after you finish the book!
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Mark-and-the-Void/Paul-Murray/book_9780241146668.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: The House By The Lake by Thomas Harding

This is history writing at it’s finest. Taking a small microcosm to tell the story of a country over the last 100 years. On a trip to Berlin in 2013 author Thomas Harding visited the summer lake house his great-grandfather built. Upon discovering the house in disrepair and scheduled for demolition Harding began researching the history of the house and it’s occupants. Harding traces back the story of the small village and the estate that the house is built in and then tells the story of each occupant.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/House-by-the-Lake/Thomas-Harding/book_9780434023233.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: Touch by Claire North

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August announced the arrival of a very special talent. Claire North maybe the pseudonym for Catherine Webb (and Kate Griffin), who has already published a number of books, but Harry August was something else entirely. It was bold, intelligent, gripping and mind-blowing. Before the real identity of the pseudonym was revealed I was prepared to believe that Claire North could have been any already majorly established author, the writing was that good. With her follow-up novel, Claire North not only confirms that she is worthy of comparison with established authors, she leaves them all for dust.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Touch/Claire-North/book_9780356504568.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: Slade House by David Mitchell

What a bonus it is to have a new David Mitchell book only a year after the incredible The Bone Clocks. David Mitchell started this story on twitter but became obsessed with the story he had started and needed to see it through. The result is a ghost story in the hands and imagination of David Mitchell with is scary, compelling and amazing.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Slade-House/David-Mitchell/book_9781473616684.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: Soil by Jamie Kornegay

There is something about stories set in the American south, particularly those in and around the Mississippi. Whether they are classic American Southern Gothic, contemporary fiction, crime mystery or a combination the confluence of history, atmosphere and long-held beliefs makes for rich, dark, fertile storytelling. Jamie Kornegay digs into this tapestry with a debut about the environment, end-of-the-world paranoia and a family in break down.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Soil/Jamie-Kornegay/book_9781444782950.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall

Rachel Caine is an expert on wolves. For the past ten years she has been working in Idaho studying wolf populations on the reservations. Keeping as far from home and her upbringing as she can manage. She is also distant from her colleagues, forging as little close relationships as possible. However she is drawn home by an ambitious plan to reintroduce the grey wolf to Britain. The plan is not without controversy, opposed by the local population.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Wolf-Border/Sarah-J-E-Hall/book_9780571299553.htm
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Boomerang Book BItes: Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

On the surface this appears to be a cyber-thriller about hacking. But in the hands of Chuck Wendig it goes somewhere quite different. The book opens and we are introduced to five different hackers; an activist, a professional troller, an old-school hacker, a money skimmer and an amateur hacker completely out of his depth. They have all come to the Government’s attention in their various ways, for various crimes, and each of them is rounded up and offered a deal: come and work for the Government for a year or spend the next ten years in jail. They each take the deal.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Zeroes/Chuck-Wendig/book_9780062351555.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks

Sebastian Faulks’ new novel is quite simply superb. Tackling themes he has explored before Faulks delivers an original novel that is haunting, beautiful and profound that will resonate all the way through you.

http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Where-My-Heart-Used-to-Beat/Sebastian-Faulks/book_9780091936846.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: Some Luck by Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley’s writing is fantastic. She eases you into the family she has created and before you know it you are completely sucked into the story. You will fall in love with each character in a different way and share in the highs and lows of their lives. The big historical events, that are so familiar to us, effect each character in a different way, some small and some big. In telling the story from different perspectives she subtly fleshes out the context of each event showing both its importance and significance as well as its unimportance and insignificance. A rare thing to be able to pull off and pull off well.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Some-Luck/Jane-Smiley/book_9781447275602.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: 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. Interspersed with photos from key periods in Amory Clay’s life Boyd will have you almost convinced that his novel’s protagonist and narrator is real and existed.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Sweet-Caress/William-Boyd/book_9781408867983.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt

Patrick deWitt’s follow up to the brilliant The Sisters Brothers is just as described by the publisher on my advanced reading copy, “incredible”. Continuing on with the subversiveness that made The Sisters Brothers such a magnificent and unique take on The Western, deWitt turns his hand to another genre to create a darkly comic romp that blends a sense of humour, a sense of the absurd and a sense of the surreal in a way that would make even Wes Anderson envious.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Undermajordomo-Minor/Patrick-deWitt/book_9781847088697.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt (illustrated by Oliver Jeffers)

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!
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Day-the-Crayons-Came-Home/Drew-Daywalt/book_9780008124434.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: The Dust That Falls from Dreams by Louis de Bernieres

Louis de Bernieres adds to the pantheon of First World War novels with his latest book. Inspired by his own family history de Bernieres explores the devastation and changes the war wrought upon British lives and society following four daughters of the McCosh family. At it’s it is a centre a love story; about love lost, love found and love that needs to be discovered.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Dust-That-Falls-from-Dreams/Louis-de-Bernieres/book_9781846558771.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: 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 universe 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 (not really the right word considering all the different types of life out there) that captures perfectly what we all strive for in our lives.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Long-Way-to-a-Small-Angry-Planet/Becky-Chambers/book_9781473619807.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: Paradise Sky by Joe R. Lansdale

I have been meaning to read Joe Lansdale for ages. Ever since The Bottoms came out in 2000, which my Dad begged me to read. Having finally gotten around to reading his latest book I am of course kicking myself for waiting so long. I am a sucker for a good Western and a massive fan of Deadwood so when I saw that Joe Lansdale’s new book was partly set in Deadwood I was in.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Paradise-Sky/Joe-R-Lansdale/book_9781444787184.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: Stealing People by Robert Wilson

Two years after the events of You Will Never Find Me Charlie Boxer’s life is nearing some normalcy. Normal for a kidnap consultant whose services offer a little bit extra revenge on the side. His relationships with his ex-wife Mercy and daughter Amy are back on track and his relationship with Isabel is blossoming. However things are about to get very complicated, very fast.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Stealing-People/Robert-Wilson/book_9781409148203.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

I fell instantly in love with this book though. Having done a re-read of To Kill A Mockingbird in preparation I instantly fell into step with the voice of Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch. At 26 years old the character we already know is all there, which makes sense because this is the same character, at the same point, who narrates To Kill a Mockingbird. Jean Louise is returning home from New York for her annual trip to Maycomb County. A lot has changed since we were last in Maycomb.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Go-Set-a-Watchman/Harper-Lee/book_9781785150289.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: The Cartel by Don Winslow

Ten years ago Don Winslow wrote the thriller of the decade. The Power of the Dog was an epic thriller that detailed America’s thirty year war on drugs on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. Ten years later he has done it again. Winslow blows The Power of the Dog away detailing the next ten years of the so-called “war” on drugs taking everything that was groundbreaking, epic and mind-blowing to a whole new level.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Cartel/Don-Winslow/book_9780434023554.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: 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.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Hush-Hush/book_9780571321407.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: Ardennes 1944 by Antony Beevor

Antony Beevor’s latest book completes his histories of the Eastern and Western Fronts of the Second World War. Beginning with the award winning Stalingrad then Berlin and concluding with D-Day and now Ardennes, Beevor takes his comprehensive eye for detail to Hitler’s last ditch gamble of the war in what became known as The Battle of the Bulge.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Ardennes-1944/Antony-Beevor/book_9780670918645.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: Preparation For The Next Life by Atticus Lish

This is one of those books that immediately after you start reading you know you are in the hands of a wonderful writer. Atticus Lish has delivered a delicately savage critique on post-9/11 America and the so-called American Dream in a beautiful love story of an illegal immigrant and an American soldier recently returned from Iraq.

http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Preparation-for-the-Next-Life/Atticus-Lish/book_9781780747774.htm

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Boomerang Book Bites: Girl At War by Sara Novic

Sara Novic’s writing is incredible and she completely shattered me a quarter of the way into the book. She also structures her story perfectly jumping backward and forward from the war in 1991 to ten years later and its lasting aftereffects. 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.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/Girl-At-War/Sara-Novic/book_9781408706558.htm
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Boomerang Book Bites: A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson has written an extraordinary companion novel to her previous masterpiece returning us to the world of the Todd family and Fox Corner. This time to tell us Ursula’s brother Teddy’s story.
http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/God-in-Ruins/Kate-Atkinson/book_9780385618717.htm
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Introducing Boomerang Book Bites

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Welcome to Boomerang Book Bites. A weekly review of books we think are awesome.

One of the major differences between a physical bookshop and an online bookshop is that online you don’t have a person to tell you about the fantastic books available. But with Boomerang Books we are backed by one of Australia’s leading independent bookshops so you can get the best of both worlds! Each week I’ll share a quick book review on a book I’m really passionate about. We know you’ll love it and we’ll even throw in free shipping if you use the promo code bookbites.

I hope you enjoy our reviews, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

Recent Book Trailers

My LifeThe other day I came across of couple of really innovative and entertaining book trailers… both from the same author. I wanted to share these trailers, and others, so I thought it was time for another post about book trailers — after all, it’s been over twelve months since I last posted on this topic (see: “The book trailer search experiment”).

The first of these trailers is for My Life & Other Stuff That Went Wrong by Tristan Bancks. A follow-up to My Life & Other Stuff I Made Up, this book is a collection of humorous, linked short stories. The trailer for the first book was a well-made but fairly standard book trailer —illustrations with a voice-over telling you a bit about the book. But the trailer for the new book takes a completely different approach. Rather than telling you about the book, it picks up on the idea of ‘stuff that went wrong’… showing a trailer that’s gone wrong. It doesn’t actually tell you about the book’s contents at all. But it’s engaging and it makes you like the author, who’s obviously very comfortable making fun of himself. So it is selling the book, by selling the author, by showing you what an interesting and fun guy he is. Cool! Clever! Funny!

The second trailer is for Two Wolves, another book by Tristan Bancks. This one is a kids’ adventure novel. It’s an innovative trailer that plays with the concept of a trailer. It’s presented in the form of a news report about two missing children. The little Random House Australia logo at the start is the only indication that you are watching a trailer for a book rather than a real news report. It’s only at the end that the book cover is revealed. It’s engaging and it’s tense. And it gives you the gist of the story without simply telling you about it.

Another recent trailer that is well worth a look is for Michael Pryor’s latest YA novel, Machine Wars. Creepy and atmospheric, it leaves you in no doubt about the content of the book.

There are so many book trailers out there. And so many of them are very ordinary. So it’s great to have the occasional trailer that plays around with expectations and does something a little differently.

Of course, all of this leads in to me showing you my latest book trailer. 🙂 This trailer is for the final book in my Gamers trilogy, Gamers’ Rebellion, which came out in July last year. It was put together by pixel-pusher extraordinaire, Henry Gibbens, with music by my brother-in-law, Marc Valko. It follows the standard trailer formula, images with text telling you a bit about the book… but the visuals are computer animated (and one visual in particular, featuring an injection and an eye, always gets a reaction) and the text is a little more than just story description. See what you think…

So, dear readers, what sort of book trailers do you like? What are your favourites? Feel free to post links in the comments section.

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter

 

moonbaseCheck out my DVD blog, Viewing Clutter.

Latest Post: DVD Review & Giveaway — Doctor Who: The Moonbase

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Review – The Harvest Race

Ever wondered how those sensational little nutty chunks in your macadamia crunch ice-cream got there? Well maybe not. But let me tell you it’s a long and exacting process from orchard to waffle cone, and one I’m most definitely grateful for.

The Harvest Race Nutmobile 2Our nutty friends from Macadamia House on the Sunshine Coast give us another tantalising taste of the harvesting process through the eyes of Nosh the Nutmobile with their second release in the series, The Harvest Race.

Likeable new picture-book team, Em Horsfield and Glen Singleton along with their colourful cast of characters describe a timely notion to us all; that winning and coming first is not everything. Hard to swallow I know with the Grand Final season upon us, and apparently, advice easily overlooked amidst the excitement and build-up to Nosh’s and Max’s first harvest race.

The Harvest Race MadgeFarmer B is anxious to collect as many nuts as possible from his bulging orchard. So are the racing teams who include; Arnold and Maureen, Gus and Borris and new comer to the scene, Pistol Pete, the fearless, green nut harvesting machine.

No nuts means no race, unfilled market orders and no winner to crown. What could possibly get in our competitors’ way this season? Hungry hogs? Marauding cockatoos? Bad weather? It’s a disaster of a more bovine nature that threatens the crop and race this time.

An entire herd of Holstein Friesians (that’s the black and white version of a Milka cow), believing the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence, escape their paddock and invade the orchard, breaking boughs, trampling nuts into the mud and most upsetting of all, leaving cow-sized land-mines all over the racetrack.

Our dauntless hero, Nosh the Nutmobile, once again hits upon the solution to a rather nutty dilemma and eventually calm is restored. However, cow-removal has prevented Nosh from collecting one single nut. Fearing they have completely flopped in their first-ever race, Nosh and Max are heartened to hear from Farmer B that they too have earned a ‘Hip Harvest Hooray!’ for saving the day.

Em Horsfield
Image by Chris McCormack Bayside Bulletin

Em Horsfield has chosen to use rhyming verse to call this harvest season’s race and manages to keep the pace blipping along as smartly as nuts popping into a harvest hopper.

 

 

 

Glen SingletonGlen Singleton’s characteristic illustrations sing silliness and convincingly cement the bolder than life personalities of Nosh and his farm friends in this very pleasing continuation of what is fast becoming a quintessentially idiosyncratic Aussie picture book series.

Charming, charismatic and cheeky for 4 year olds onwards.

Harvest your copy of The Harvest Race online here.

Want a look behind the scenes? Watch this video by Macadamia House of Glen Singleton as he takes us through the process of bringing Gus, one of the characters in The Harvest Race to life. It’s almost as involved as growing macadamias! Brilliant. This whole experience has made me hungry for more. And there will be…Stay tuned for the release of Santa’s Magic Beard due out next month.

Little Steps Publishing August 2013

 

New Video: Boyd Anderson interview about AMBER ROAD – Random Book Talk

AMBER ROAD

With intrigue, romance and suspense to rival Gone With the Wind, AMBER ROAD tells an epic story of one woman’s indomitable spirit against the backdrop of World War Two.

As an empire is swept away, a young woman’s world is ripped apart…

It’s 1941 and seventeen-year-old Victoria Khoo lives in luxury in colonial Singapore. Her carefree days are spent fantasising about marrying Sebastian Boustead, scion of a great British merchant family, and becoming mistress of his imposing mansion on Amber Road.

Not even Sebastian’s arrival from London with his new fiancée, Elizabeth Nightingale, can dampen her dreams…

Then the war reaches Asia and ‘Fortress Singapore’ abruptly surrenders to the Japanese. As the inhabitants are deserted by Britain, Victoria is forced to protect both her family and her rival, Elizabeth, from the cruelty of the occupation.

Victoria’s old life has vanished in a heartbeat – but nothing will stand in the way of her destiny. Not the war. Not Elizabeth. And certainly not Joe Spencer, the charismatic Australian who both charms and infuriates her at every turn…

Available now.

Also available as an ebook.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM TRANSCRIPT:
Brett: You make no allusions about the parallels between AMBER ROAD and Gone with the Wind. In fact it kind of percolates right through the book. Interestingly Gone with the Wind brought to the screen in 1939, just as the Second World War was starting. How did that classic inspire you and the characters in AMBER ROAD?
Boyd: Well that’s actually where the whole thing started. I was riding my bike one day and I had just seen the Gone with the Wind film—which I have to say I think is better than the book—probably for the twentieth or thirtieth time and it was just, as you say, percolating around in my brain. That story about the end of the civilisation of the South because of the Civil War is really not a big story when you think about what happened as a result of the Second World War. That was the end of the British Empire. An entire empire finished. Not only did that empire finish over those five or six years, it finished on one day: the fall of Singapore was the end of the British Empire. You can date it to one day. That’s the store I wanted to write. Then I, as you say, percolated around for a bit and I’ve also found that I like the characters of Gone with the Wind: that strangely strong woman and the resourceful heroic man and how their relationship brings out what it does in the two of those people against the backdrop of a completely changing world is what excited me. So I sat down and started writing it and just couldn’t stop.
Brett: I can’t imagine how much effort goes into researching a book like AMBER ROAD. Where do you begin?
Boyd: You begin by loving research. If you don’t like research, if you don’t like delving into why things happen, you can’t do it. Fortunately, I love doing that, so it’s not a task, it’s a pleasurable pastime. The sources I had were impeccable because apart from all the sources that are available in Google, the libraries, archives and so on, I had sources in my own family. My wife is from that part of the world and she has relatives who lived through the time and I was able to interview them and get specific information and was directed into specific sources that were rather exclusive and certainly sources I hadn’t seen delved into in fiction before.
Brett: The detail of the history is remarkable and it feels, at times, personal. I believe that Ang Sana lodge, Sebastian… one of the main characters’ family home has a link with your own family, or inspired by a home in your own family?
Boyd: Part of my wife’s family actually lived in Amber Road right until the sixties but not in a house like that. A house like that comes from another branch of the family not in Singapore, but in Malaysia. They had houses of that type in other parts of the Malay Peninsula. So essentially putting all those things together. There were houses like that in AMBER ROAD—Amber Road is a real street by the way—and there were houses like that in those days, I mean they still exist. It’s a quite different road now; it used to be right on the waterfront, now it’s about a mile front the waterfront. There’s so much landfill in Singapore so it’s got a completely different feel to it.

New Video: Graeme Simsion’s ‘The Rosie Project’ book trailer (high def)

Out 30 January 2013. www.therosieproject.com.au

The book trailer for the feel-good novel of the year, The Rosie Project, in high definition.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. Then a chance encounter gives him an idea. He will design a questionnaire—a sixteen-page, scientifically researched document—to find the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver.

Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is strangely beguiling, fiery and intelligent. And she is also on a quest of her own. She’s looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might just be able to help her with—even if he does wear quick-dry clothes and eat lobster every single Tuesday night.

New Video: The Rosie Project Trailer

Out 30 January 2013. www.therosieproject.com.au

The feel-good novel of the year, The Rosie Project is a classic screwball romance.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. Then a chance encounter gives him an idea. He will design a questionnaire—a sixteen-page, scientifically researched document—to find the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver.

Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is strangely beguiling, fiery and intelligent. And she is also on a quest of her own. She’s looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might just be able to help her with—even if he does wear quick-dry clothes and eat lobster every single Tuesday night.