Sam Downing Reviews: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I was chatting with a friend not long ago about Neil Gaiman’s writing style, and we agreed that his is an authorial voice you either like or you don’t: my friend doesn’t like it, but I do. A lot. Gaiman has a knack of adapting to whatever genre he’s writing in, but his work always has a sense of the very old, the very deep, and the very strange.

I started The Graveyard Book with high expectations, and wasn’t disappointed: Like all the best children’s literature, it’s wildly imaginative, seductively scary, and a sophisticated read for both kids and adults.

Loosely inspired by The Jungle BookThe Graveyard Book  is the story of a baby who escapes from the ruthless killer who’s murdered his parents, and escapes to a very old graveyard. Rechristened Nobody “Bod” Owens, he’s raised by the graveyard’s ghostly  inhabitants and encounters vampires, werewolves, witches and other beasties as he grows up. (The Guardian has a more detailed, though mildly spoilery, synopsis; I recommend going into it without knowing about the plot’s direction.)

It kind of reminded me of Harry Potter, if Harry Potter’s sprawling story was condensed into a single book: The Graveyard Book  has the same magical, captivating and adventurous tone. I felt really sad when I turned the last page, both because of the way the plot wrapped up, and because I’d finished a really great book.

Each chapter advances Bod’s age by around two years and stands alone as a story (more or less), making this a breezy read. If you never read anything of Gaiman’s before, this is a fine entry point.1

Gaiman has proposed writing more books exploring the backstory of the Graveyard universe, but with a darker, more adult tone – a sort of “The Lord Of The Rings, to which The Graveyard Book would have been The Hobbit, in his words. I want to read that book so bad. Right now.

This month’s guest reviewer, Sam Downing, is a twenty-something blogger, young-adult writer and hack journalist from Sydney. Follow him on Twitter and visit his blog here.

Join the Boomerang Books ‘Baldies’ – World’s Greatest Shave Team

Become a ‘baldy’ and join us for the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave from 11-13 March 2010.

The funds we raise will help the Leukaemia Foundation to provide practical care and support to patients and families living with leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma and related blood disorders.

Join the Boomerang Books ‘Baldies’ team now and start raising money…

Don’t wanna get your head shaved or dyed?  Then you can still donate money to the Boomerang Books ‘Baldies’ here…

New release: The Legacy by Kirsten Tranter

The Legacy by Kirsten Tranter

Ingrid inherits a fortune, leaves Australia and her friends and lover, to marry Gil Grey and set up home amid the New York art world. At 9 am on September 11 2001, she has an appointment downtown, and is never seen again. A year later, searching for clues about Ingrid’s life, her friend Julie uncovers layers of mystery and deception …

January User Reviews

The following are the three winning reviews for January, along with an honourable mention.

The Story Of Danny Dunn by Bryce Courtenay (reviewed by TessLL)
Bryce Courtenay is back! In my opinion this is his best book since The Power Of One. It covers the years between 1920 – 1970 when Australia was facing very critical times. The War and the Depression.

It has historical significence – covering war, political and sporting events which occured during the 50 years the story spans. It covers the truama wounded and disfigured Australian soldiers faced returning to their loved ones. The power of political parties to sway safety in rental properties and to take none or very little responsibility if these properties burnt down and killed people in doing so. The sacrifices athletes make to become champions in their chosen fields to enter Olympic Games and the toll this has on spouses and siblings. The book paints a vivid picture of the lives of those living in Sydney during these years. The rich and the poor. The inspiring achievements of a poor family to make a better place for themselves by hard work and study. The enduring love of Danny’s mother and wife, each striving to achieve this goal in their own way. There is something for every one in this book. I could not put it down. 5 stars.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (reviewed by G_O_WC)
Katniss Everdeen is a 16-year-old, self-sufficient teenager who volunteers to replace her sister in the annual Hunger Games, a reality television programme which all citizens are required to watch as declared by the government. Based in a futuristic dystopian world, in which the United States of America has been destroyed by natural disasters and war to be replaced with Panem, the Hunger Games is a brutally fierce and dangerous competition in which 24 participants – two from each territory or ‘district’ – must battle for the winner’s position by using their own strength and intelligence to their advantage in order to execute all other 23 competitors.

The Hunger Games is a thought provoking and suspenseful read that held my full attention from beginning to end. I had this book highly recommended to me by a friend and I must say that I agree with her view that it is one of those rare books that fulfilled – even went beyond – my expectations. The book is well written and the characters are realistic, making their situation even the more terrifying.

Overall, I was thoroughly pleased with this book and would recommend it to those aged 12 and up as it does contain some violence (especially in the battle arena) and to anyone who enjoys a strong and independent female lead and an engrossing plot that is sure to leave you hooked. 5 stars.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (reviewed by AikY)
Hush, Hush is a must read! I just love it! First of all, I have to say James Porto is a real artist! The cover design is gorgeous! It was the first thing that attracted me, though I know that a book can’t be judged by its cover. And, the concept of falling in love with the fallen really captivates me. Who cares about vampires and werewolves when there is a hot, mysterious fallen angel right in front of us?

The main characters of Hush, Hush are finely written, so you can get an exact idea of their personalities. Nora is a pretty, clever girl who is strong, in the sense that she is brave enough to fight her attacker. But at the same time, she is vulnerable, as she is anemic and, well, her self-defense skills don’t really work. As for Patch, he is the guy who will make any girl swoon with excitement – he’s handsome, tall, dark and alluring. He has a secret, a mysterious past which makes the whole story more interesting.

I would like to compliment Becca because she has done a great job to keep readers guessing what will happen next. I really didn’t see the bad guy coming. I kept guessing, but never got it right. And when the truth is revealed, I was like “What? He’s the one?”. It was so unexpected. The pages are haunting, dark, and mysterious, it succeeded to hold my attention from the beginning until the end. There were times when I feel like I was ‘inside’ the story, and I could see exactly what Nora saw. I kept feeling like something bad and dangerous is about to happen.

I’ve seen others comparing it to Twilight, and I do not deny that there are some similarities, such as the protagonists’ personalities (good girl versus bad boy), and having them sitting beside each other in Biology class. But that’s where it ends. Hush, Hush is NOT the same as Twilight. It is an entertaining story with a different theme, style, storyline and characters, packed with excitement and danger. It will draw you into the story completely, and leave you wanting for more at the end.

Hush, Hush is a fast-paced, exciting, well-written novel which has a thrilling plot that is definitely going to make you squeal with delight! So, please don’t wait any longer if you haven’t read this book, because it’s really good! (5 stars).

Honourable Mention

All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopmann (review by FibyB)
Filled with beautiful photos of cats, this book provides an easy to read, basic description of what Asperger’s syndrome is, with out too many words. I bought this book for my son who has Asperger’s. Although he couldn’t see himself in the book (we could see some of the similarities) he still enjoyed the book. But remember, some children with Asperger’s can be very literal, and may feel this book isn’t accurate if it mentions some signs of Asperger’s that they don’t display- remembering that every one with Asperger’s is different.

Personally, I love this book! (5 stars).

A big thanks to the nearly 100 members who submitted reviews – keep entering for your chance to win! TessLL, G_O_WC and AikY have each won $50 to spend in Boomerang Bucks. 🙂

FEBRUARY BOOK GIVEAWAYS!

This month’s giveaway for Boomerang Books Members is pretty special. It includes two signed books, and something for everybody – a thriller, a cookbook (and the away to a man’s heart via his stomach), a gripping wartime story and something for your inner young-adult. It includes:

§  Girls Like Funny Boys by Dave Franklin

§  The Good Samaritan by Julia Haisley SIGNED

§  The Devil’s Tears by Steven Horne

§  Mania by Craig Larsen

§  Meals Men Love by Lana Vidler SIGNED

All Boomerang Books Members are automatically entered into the draw to win our great monthly prize packs – so if you haven’t already, sign up today.

FEBRUARY FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY

In February, members of our Facebook Group are in the running to win a great prize pack that consists of:

§  Girls Like Funny Boys by Dave Franklin

§  Mania by Craig Larsen

§  Finding Darcy by Sue Lawson

§  Meals Men Love by Lana Vidler SIGNED

A big thanks to our friends at Baby Ice Dog Press, Black Dog Books, Ginninderra Press, Pan Macmillan and Pinnacle Fiction for supporting our giveaways this month.

Q&A: Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness is the author of the Chaos Walking trilogy, which includes the award-winning The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008), The Ask and the Answer (2009) and Monsters of Men (2010). Join him on Tuesday, March 9, 6-7.30pm for a unique FREE event at the University of Sydney. Seats are limited, bookings essential. Email your full name and contact number to [email protected]

1. How did you first get the idea for the Chaos Walking books?

I always say they started with a serious idea and a stupid idea. The serious idea was about information overload, that the world is already pretty noisy with mobile phones, the internet, networking sites, etc. The next logical thought was, what if you couldn’t away at all? That’s where Noise came from. And the stupid idea is that I don’t like books about talking dogs because they never talk like an actual dog would talk. So I thought it’d be funny to write one the way I always thought my own dog growing up would talk. It was good fun. And from those two ideas, a story started to form.

2. Did you always intend for the Chaos Walking books to be aimed at a young adult audience, and what is appealing about writing for this demographic?

The story itself kind of told me it was for young adults rather than the other way around, which I think is probably how it should really go. I was as surprised as anyone. What’s appealing is that teenagers aren’t snobs! If you respect them and tell a good story, they’ll follow you anywhere. But you do have to tell that good story, so you’ve got to be on the ball all the time. It’s a great challenge, very liberating, too.

3. Who are some of your favourite young adult books and authors?

There are some excellent young adult writers around, aren’t there? People like Meg Rosoff, Marcus Sedgwick, Terry Pratchett, Siobhan Dowd, Mal Peet, I could go on…

4. I’m intrigued by Noise and how it affects the men of New World. Do they feel disempowered by it? Would New Elizabeth be a safe and happy place if it wasn’t for the Noise?

Well, I tried to show that there could be different reactions to Noise, with Prentisstown being the worst. But as they journey along, Todd and Viola see places like Farbranch where it’s not so bad or Carbonell Downs where it’s less good but plausible. And then there’s Haven, where things are complicated. It’s what you’d ask of any place, I think; safety and happiness are tenuous things that need to be worked for against our natural fears.

5. Mayor Prentiss came to New World as a settler. Were his intentions on setting out to wage war and dominate, or did he start out as a good man?

I suspect the answer’s messier than just one or the other. People never get to power by a single action or intention; there are opportunities along the way that you can take or not take and those build on each other. In fact, it’s the theme of The Ask and the Answer about how you can even take what seem to be a series of small right decisions and still end up possibly doing something terrible. I suppose it’s about how many compromises you’re willing to make before you lose your humanity. As for the Mayor, maybe he had a predisposition, but you still need the circumstances to help you along. I suppose the crux of it is that I don’t think anyone is beyond redemption. You have to have hope for everyone. Now, whether they want to be redeemed is a whole other question…

6. Is Todd the rightful president of New World?

Ah, well, is anyone the “rightful” president of anywhere? It’s that old axiom that wanting to be in power should automatically disqualify you from ever having it. Todd would probably be an excellent president of New World, but he’d never want to be it (which is probably what would make him an excellent president and so on around the circle…)

7. How would you describe the intense relationship between Todd and Viola?

They learn that they really have to rely on one another, in a way far beyond just a simple teen romance.  They’re lost people who found one another, and they may not being able to understand all the depths of that just yet, but I think they’re more than smart enough to know how important the other is to them.  And that’s because they’ve each earned it, through hard circumstance.

8. Your upcoming book tour includes stops in Australia. Have you been to Australia before, and do you have any favourite Australian authors?

My very favourite author of all time is Australian, Peter Carey, and I end up reviewing a lot of Australian fiction for UK newspapers because I’ve read so much of it, like Tim Winton and Murray Bail. I can even reference Patrick White with confidence! Peter Carey is fantastic, especially at implying a larger imagined universe than is just in the particular book. I love that. And I have been to Australia, way back in 1993 when I was a fresh-faced college lad. Can’t wait to get back there.

9. Briefly – what we can expect from Monsters of Men?

Hmmmmm: War, surprises and a killer ending. It may not be what you expect!
 
10. If there was one thing that you wanted your readers to take away from Chaos Walking, what would that be?

I always worry that if I start out thinking in terms like that then I end up writing a lesson rather than a story.  Hopefully, if I pay proper attention to what the story wants to be and try to make it the best story possible, then there will be things in there for the reader to take away anyway.  I think that’s the best way; that way you never preach.  Having said that, looking back on the books now, they’re probably most about how hope lies in the people we love, that if you can find someone to count on and who counts on you, then that’s probably the best meaning life is going to get.  A hopeful message.

BREAKING: Anthony Horowitz Tour Cancelled

Children’s author Anthony Horowitz has cancelled his upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand.
 
“I am very sorry that I am unable to come to Australia/New Zealand this year as I had originally planned. I have just had two television related projects land on my desk which will monopolise my time. Unfortunately I simply cannot meet all my writing deadlines whilst undertaking an international tour,” Anthony said.
 
“Once again, I apologise for not being able to make it for now but I want to pass on my heartfelt thanks for your ongoing support and enthusiasm for my books which means so much to me.”
 
2010 marks the tenth anniversary of Anthony’s wildly successful Alex Rider series.

Adele’s Best Of 2009: Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

I was overjoyed to get this in the mail yesterday, OVAH-JOYED. Thank you so much to Jenn for organising it’s journey across the ocean to this uber-grateful Aussie. Now Jenn’s act of kindness has nothing to do with the review I am about to give because I consider Jenn to be the drug of choice in YA-verse. I was already biased.

And she didn’t disappoint. I wasn’t sure upon reading the first chapter, I was wary of Meg. I wasn’t sure that I could relate or see the world through her eyes but I was oh so very wrong. Meg is a complex, strong, contradictory protagonist with boatloads of humour, snark and moxie. She’s tortured, yet exuberant. All her characteristics, her dialogue, her motivations and her decisions are all clear to understand and as such you are just plain sucked into her interplay with John After.

Why do I love Jenn Echols’ narrative?

“My knee radiated heat. As I watched him pull himself from the car and walk casually across the brightly lit parking lot, I thought dumb things: I will never wash my knee again. I will never wash those jeans again. I will cut the knees out of those jeans and sew a pillow to sleep on every night, just to have a molecule of him in bed with me.”

Echols writes a delightful mix of randomness, absurdity and truth. She doesn’t sugarcoat teen world but instead adds the right amount of sweet and sour. Meg and John are in a constant battle for the upper hand and their discussions ranged from barbed, snarky, humorous to doe- eyed. Their relationship is a like a mood swing, you never know when things are going to change up and how it might affect you. I loved the package though. John’s seeming calm is at direct contrast to the fire that is Meg. What we soon realise is John’s burning up too, for a multitude of reasons. I did at times want to know more about John but the quick pace swept away any reservations I may have possessed.

Echols has attempted a different kind of narrative with this novel. The world is more fully realised and the characters are greatly detailed. I devoured each page with a fervour I wasn’t sure I possessed and was fully immersed in each event of Meg and John’s lives. I am more hungry than ever to get my hands on future Jenn Echols works and want to congratulate her on a truly wonderful read that made me travel a gamut of emotions and invest in her tremendously real characters.

Adele Walsh, book blogger of Persnickety Snark fame and trusted reviewer, recently selected her best young-adult reads of 2009.

Adele’s Best Of 2009: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

This book has been calling my name for many months now and having finally got it in my hot little hands, I have inhaled it. It’s a darn good read but do I think it’s a great book? To be completely honest – yes….ish. On the tail of the fantastic The Hunger Games, Catching Fire has reintroduced many of the ideas that made its predecessor are roaring success. But it’s the reintroduction of the love triangle and the Quell (which I will remain vague on) are rewarding but slightly problematic.

Catching Fire has a much different pace to that of its predecessor. While all the events that occurred after the previous book are covered, we are constantly bouncing from Katniss’ recollections of many characters before we get back on track. It’s inconsistent and the pull isn’t as strong as it could be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still engaging but there is a lost of an undefinable quality in the continuing storyline.

The first half of the novel starts off as a political examination of what happens to a dictatorship when rebellion arises; it’s much more exciting than it sounds. The tension and stakes are continually raised as those in District 12 suffer until tighter control and closer inspection. It’s a natural and thrilling continuation of what was glimpsed in The Hunger Games. The second half of the novel returns to what is familiar and in that way it’s a step back. Though some of the situations are tweaked, the characters mostly new and the pace sped up…I found myself a little disinterested, I wanted back to the political machinations. Having read Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking series of late, I’ve had a quality template of how stakes can be raised within rehashing the past.

Collins is known for her cliff-hangers and unfortunately this novel had considerably less of them. Instead it’s much more of a psychological examination of how you survive a brutal experience and the choices you make afterward – sacrifice or survival? Or perhaps a little of both.

Peeta’s intelligence is highlighted well in this novel; he’s clearly much more cunning than Katniss previously gave him credit for. They are an interesting match that could have been explored more deeply than Katniss’ continual (and repetitive) dithering feelings for the poor kid. It’s here where Katniss’ effectiveness lost some of her shine with me. I cannot believe that this girl who is decisive and responsible would string two guys along like she has. Yes, Peeta and Katniss need to keep the premise going that they are in love but her interactions leave both guys in a state of limbo. I refuse to believe that she’s innocent in this – she can make a decision. The audience has been fortunate to witness the total of Katniss and Peeta’s interactions through recollections but we haven’t had that same opportunity with Gale and Katniss, nor do I want there to be. They both know she has somewhat feelings for another and it’s cruel what she puts them through, even if she is a puppet at the hands of the President. (Relationship specific SPOILER – highlight to read) At one point it seems considerably callous – Katniss wondering how she would have felt had Gale volunteered in his brother’s place, making friendly with another girl and not longer being “hers”. Once she thinks she’s soon-to-be dead, she kisses Peeta with abandon, while still on camera. Conflicted feelings aside, it made weakened her moral core for me and the effectiveness of her character. It’s understandable but she needs to make a freaking choice! Too much time of this novel felt like it was the boys handing her to one another as a baton, each having time with her and yet not really having her because she was too busy dithering. Sigh.

More characters are incorporated but most of their development is rather limited and can appear shallow. The opportunity to learn more of Haymitch’s history was exciting and probably could have been expanded. In the Quell, Collins has made more of an effort to provide people behind the many tributes up for the slaughter which I respect greatly. Mags made quite an impact, as did Finnick, but in my heart of hearts I want to know more of Gale, Haymitch, Effie and Cinna. Finnick was not as he seemed but I need considerable more exploration of this than his attachment to something at home.

Catching Fire was a fantastic read. It’s easy to be sucked back into the world of Panem and invest in these characters again. However the bar was set high with the first title and the second title didn’t seem to have a way to match it. Instead Collins opted for a most effective, split personality approach to the sequel. Ultimately a huge wave and some freaking monkeys don’t have anything on President Snow and his diabolical, puffy lipped, bloody breath scented nastiness. I say bring on book three with its political uprising, rebellion , District 13 and (I hope) the discovery of the true extent of the muttation experimentation. Fingers crossed the games are not re-entered as they’ve been adequately covered and that Katniss makes a choice between the men in her life.

Catching Fire is a great read with some reinvention of the wheel (or the games) but a thrilling bridge to what will surely be a rewarding trilogy.

Adele Walsh, book blogger of Persnickety Snark fame and trusted reviewer, recently selected her best young-adult reads of 2009.

Adele’s Best Of 2009: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I have had a continuous stream of tears running down my cheeks for the last few hours. Between Jenny Downham (Before I Die) and Gayle Foreman, I have cried a lifetime of tears this past week. My house mate asked ‘why do you put yourself through it?‘ I had to think about it, for a fraction of a second, before I answered ‘because every word is worth it’.

Simply, this book wouldn’t be the emotional cruncher it is without some superb writing from Forman. Without giving too much away, she makes all characters in this story extremely real. It starts off as many YA stories do, some froth and a lot of great dialogue between Mia and her family. Once that chapter is finished, the tone completely changes. Mia and her family are involved in an accident and Mia’s trapped in limbo, witnessing the lives of those who care for her, and those she cares for in return, without the power to do anything but watch.

Forman walks the line between Mia’s recollections and the present with ease. Too often a book similar in intent would be manipulative, but I didn’t feel this at all. I felt Forman’s love for each one of these people, as if they were her own. That Mia’s loss, was her loss. The empathy that courses through this book is both inspiring and astounding.

Despite the somewhat dark subject matter this is a story of hope, life affirmation and all that it brings. The relationship between Mia and Adam is honest, they might be in love but they have real problems and they aren’t all solved with a snap of their fingers. Kim is an amazing best friend, sarcastic and strong, her appearances in the book are bold and bursting with love. I particularly love an incident in the playground that was the inception of the girl’s friendship. Mia’s parents made a huge impression on me, they sounded familiar, as if I had met them but avoiding anything resembling a cliche. The hospital staff, particularly Nurse Ramirez with her biting wisdom and infinite care, also made an impression on me. How much did she really know? Mia’s grandparents melted my heart, I have always heard how outliving one’s child is the worst thing imaginable but these two transcend the situation with some honesty and hope. I was shocked by how quickly this story and girl sucked me in – as the tears would attest.

Music has a large role in this book but it’s never clunky or awkward. Mia is somewhat of a cello prodigy and her boyfriend, Adam fronts a band called the Shooting Star. Her father is a former punk and her mother was one of those feminist rock chicks, both parents still retain their rockinsensibilities. When reading the acknowledgements I wasn’t surprised to see that Forman had been listening to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s Falling Slowly‘ (from the movie Once) while writing this novel, you could feel the song’s influence throughout each page. I think that could be the best comparison for this novel, it is to the written word as ‘Falling Slowly’ is to your ears – emotive, heartwarming, stirring, powerful and memorable.

This novel is about love. Love for your family and the family you make for yourself. The strength to follow your passion, to love your parents unconditionally and they for you, to have belief in people, to embrace music and life. It is also about choice, when no two options are easy, what would you do?

I ask: how long will it take for you to get your hands on this book?

Adele Walsh, book blogger of Persnickety Snark fame and trusted reviewer, recently selected her best young-adult reads of 2009.

Adele’s Best Of 2009: The Ask And The Answer by Patrick Ness

The Ask And The Answer by Patrick Ness

This novel takes off with the speed of NASA spacecraft; the events of the previous title are picked up and tossed over the very able shoulders of Todd and Viola. Having successfully taken over Haven (now New Prentisstown), the noxious President Prentiss has decided to use our two industrious kids to further his political gain with those on the planet and those soon to arrive.

The Ask and the Answer proves that the second title in a trilogy can be a strong one, surpassing the first title in my eyes. The pace is thrilling, the events are breathtaking and the character development is supreme. As the opponents and supporters of Prentiss’ evil plans swell in numbers, it’s less of a good versus evil conflict but more about what one might do to retain a hold on their own morals, identity and life. What happens in New Prentisstown can be read on many levels but the political edge of this novel made this a fascinating read. The Answer, New Prentisstown’s guerrilla movement, could be seen as the French Resistance of this world with Prentiss himself treading the line between genuine horror and charm as the self-determined leader of the planet.

Viola and Todd are immediately separated as the events of The Knife of Never Letting Go take effect. Viola is whisked away to recover while Todd is held captive as he’s the one preventing citizens of Prentisstown (the original) from being whole. Ness has changed this novel up, having the perspective jump between Viola and Todd and it works fantastically. Their allegiance to one another allows the President to work each of them like puppets. While Todd survives by turning in on himself and taking on more responsibility with the Spackles, Viola is left anchorless, watching another tussle for control of the planet through less-than-noble means.

This book has many moments that are genuinely discomforting and horrifying – whether the annihilation of captives, the banding of citizens or the physical and psychological torture inflicted under the dictator’s control. Ness has a great way of making the page and its characters come alive through clear language and the deeper character study that is undertaken makes the world all the more richer. That being said there is a certain repetitiveness, perhaps as I have read both titles uninterrupted. Todd and Viola continue to take turns rescuing one another, calling out each other’s names and stupidly failing to realise they are being lied to over and over again (you would think they would catch on after the third time.) But the alternative perspectives ably assist in showing how different factions are dealing with occupation, assimilation and rebellion.

The Terminator-esque preacher has been done away with and as a result there is larger focus placed upon President Prentiss, his son and the depths people will plunge to in their need to live. The villains are all fantastically portrayed, not as evil incarnate (though that could be argued), but as individuals utter convinced they are doing what is best. Conviction makes the best kind of baddies and this novel has many to choose from. Of particular note, the relationship between Todd and Davy was one that evolved continually throughout the novel. Davy’s arc was one from two-dimensional villain to a friend by the end which boggles the mind and impresses the heck out of me. The characters, old and introduced, are what make this novel.

Terrorism, oppression and dishonesty are a large part of the narrative. Todd struggles to retain a sense of self while making his thoughts private as many take the cure for The Noise. Both Viola and Todd are seen as their self-appointed mentors as leaders and are regarded both respectfully and brutally in their “education” of those fighting for the survival of themselves and their ideals. This is what great dystopia should aim to be. An absolutely thought provoking, entrancing and thrilling read.

Adele Walsh, book blogger of Persnickety Snark fame and trusted reviewer, recently selected her best young-adult reads of 2009.

Boomerang congratulates: AUREALIS AWARD WINNERS 2009! [Part Two]

Here are the adult winners of the 2009 Aurealis Awards – some of Australia’s finest sci-fi/fantasy releases of 2009 have made the list!

Best Science Fiction Novel
Wonders of a Godless World by Andrew McGahan

On an unnamed island, in a Gothic hospital sitting in the shadow of a volcano, a wordless orphan girl works on the wards housing the insane and the incapable. When a silent, unmoving and unnerving new patient – a foreigner – arrives at the hospital, strange phenomena occur, bizarre murders take place, and the lives of the patients and the island’s inhabitants are thrown into turmoil. What happens between them is an extraordinary exploration of consciousness, reality and madness. Wonders of a Godless World, the new novel from Miles Franklin-winner Andrew McGahan, is a huge and dramatic beast of a book. It is a thought-provoking investigation into character and consciousness, a powerful cautionary tale, and a head-stretching fable about the earth, nature and the power of the mind.

Best Fantasy Novel
The Magician’s Apprentice by Trudi Canavan

Set hundreds of years before the events of The Magicians’ Guild, The Magician’s Apprentice is the new novel set in the world of Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician Trilogy. In the remote village of Mandryn, Tessia serves as assistant to her father, the village Healer. Her mother would rather she found a husband. But her life is about to take a very unexpected turn. When the advances of a visiting Sachakan mage get violent, Tessia unconsciously taps unknown reserves of magic to defend herself. Lord Dakon, the local magician, takes Tessia under his wing as an apprentice. The long hours of study and self-discipline also offer more opportunities than she had ever hoped for, and an exciting new world opens up to her. There are fine clothes and servants – and, to Tessia’s delight – regular trips to the great city of Imardin. But along with the excitement and privilege, Tessia is about to discover that her magical gifts bring with them a great deal of responsibility. For great danger looms on the horizon for Tessia and her world.

Best Horror Novel
Red Queen by Honey Brown

Shannon and Rohan Scott have retreated to their family’s cabin in the Australian bush to escape a virus-ravaged world. After months of isolation, Shannon imagines there’s nothing he doesn’t know about his older brother, or himself – until a stranger slips under their late-night watch and past their loaded guns. Reluctantly, the brothers take the young woman into their fold, and the dynamic within the cabin shifts. Possessiveness takes hold, loyalties are split, and trust is shattered. Before long, all three find themselves locked into a very different battle for survival.

Best Collection
Oceanic by Greg Egan

Synopsis of ‘Oceanic’ short story: The people of Covenant believe they are the descendants of immaterial “Angels” who were brought to the planet by the daughter of God to “repent their theft of immortality” and live and die as flesh once more.
Martin is a Freelander, raised on the ocean, and a personal experience as a child convinces him of the truth of this account. But when he becomes a biologist and begins to study the native life of Covenant, his work leads to revelations about the true history of the planet, and the nature of his own beliefs.

Boomerang congratulates: AUREALIS AWARD WINNERS 2009!

A big congratulations to the Aurealis Award-winners i nthe children’s categories for 2009!

Children’s Illustrated Work / Picture Book
Victor’s Challenge by Pamela Freeman and Kim Gamble

Prince Victor and Valerian want to get married. But Victor, in his own unusual way, must pass three seemingly impossible tests of bravery, endurance and cleverness. He must go back into the Dark Forest of Nevermore to battle a fiery man-eating dragon, retrieve an armband from the peak of a wizard’s glass mountain, and uncover a tail feather from the rarest bird in the world.

Children’s Novel
A Ghost In My Suitcase by Gabrielle Wang

Thirteen-year-old Isabelle has travelled alone to China to visit Por Por her grandmother, and to release her mother’s ashes. Here she meets Ting Ting, an orphan who has been taken in by Por Por, and learns that her grandmother is a ghost-catcher – a gift that she too has inherited…

Young Adult Novel
Leviathan Trilogy: Book One by Scott Westerfeld

It is the beginning of the 20th century, 80 years after Darwin established the foundations of modern biology. But in the world of Leviathan these discoveries changed history more dramatically than in our own. England and France have perfected the the techniques of species fabrication, resulting in a glorious age of Edwardian biotechnology. In this world, Prince Aleksandar is on the run from those who would deny him his inheritance.

Illustrated Book / Graphic Novel
Scarygirl by Nathan Jurevicius

Abandoned on a remote beach, Scarygirl doesn’t know who she is or where she’s come from. Blister, a kind and intelligent giant octopus, wants to keep her safe, but Scarygirl needs answers. Who is the strange man haunting her dreams? Will Bunniguru help her unlock the mysteries of her past? Can she trust the wily forest dwellers? Her journey takes her to the edge, and beyond…Welcome to the world of Scarygirl.

Haiti Relief

The images coming in from Haiti are truely devastating. The Red Cross is appealling for over $100 million in relief funds, and Boomerang Books is looking to do its part. For every order you make in January, we will be donating $1 to the Australian Red Cross Haiti Appeal.

The funds raised through this appeal will be used to:

• support emergency relief, rehabilitation and recovery activities for communities affected by the disaster in Haiti
 
• send specialist aid workers to assist in the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement response

• support longer-term Red Cross programs of assistance in the affected areas.

Boys & Body Image: A Reflection On Shane’s Post

I think, as a twenty-year-old, I can still speak for this current teenage, male generation – even just a small, nerdy, poetry/novel-writing subsection of it.

Body image is everything.

I remember hearing once that boys feel the pressure more than girls, for two reasons: 1. for girls, it is accepted to have these issues, and 2. while girls have the ‘get slim’ clouding over them, boys are burdened with the ‘get slim, but also gain muscle’, which results in over-exercise and strain. Not to diminish the experience of girls battling body issues, I can only speak as a young male, but I remember that in the lead up to my novel’s release, I wasn’t busy writing a follow-up, I was consuming protein shakes, exercising five days a week, restricting calorie intake, feeling guilty for a beer or a soft drink – and it caught up with me, I slipped two discs in my lower back, and that’s an injury that will restrict me for the rest of my life. Because being a teenage author wasn’t enough. At least, in my mind it wasn’t.

And when men explore these body issues in articles or novels, the response is usually ‘oh, boo hoo, poor baby’, when that same exploration by a woman is lauded as brave. When more realistically-shaped women attack the Jennifer Hawkins ‘real woman’ nude, undoctored spread, they’re glorified. The pressures on women are front and centre, and condemned. Meanwhile, when I’m at the gym, and I see boys almost half my age lifting weights, nobody’s telling them to stop, to have a childhood, to let their bodies mature a little bit – nobody’s fighting for them because the image of the male as ripped, toned and sporty is socially accepted as ‘right’. It’s masculine. There’s no backlash. There’s nobody praising male curves, claiming they’re all natural.

And body issue problems for males are very, very secret. Because, outward feelings don’t mesh well with the image of masculinity – strong, stoic, emotionally stunted. And I mean, just look at this rant that has developed from what was supposed to be a two paragraph closer to Shane’s post – this is a big issue, at least, for me. Books like My Private Pectus are important. While they probably won’t change the world, I’m sure that for boys battling body expectations, it means a lot to know that 1. you’re not alone and 2. there’s someone fighting for you.

Ahem. Now I’m off to make up for this post with a 7km run.

EXCLUSIVE: Shane Thamm gets PRIVATE…

SHANE THAMM ON MY PRIVATE PECTUS AND BODY IMAGE

The other week on ABC radio I was discussing boys and body image when the compere asked me if I had ever shaved my chest.

“I did once,” I told him with great enthusiasm, which was actually an attempt to hide my embarrassment.

We were talking about boys and bodies in relation to my novel My Private Pectus, a story that deals with male teenage body image concerns.

The compere, it seemed, wasn’t convinced that body image was something that many boys were worried about.

So I put things into perspective: Australian youth rated body image alongside drugs and family conflict as their three issues of greatest concern in Mission Australia’s Survey of Young Australians in 2008. Twenty per cent of boys and one quarter of girls called body image a serious concern.

Given that backdrop, My Private Pectus and the story of its main character Sticks, is actually very common. Teenage boys, like girls, negotiate body image concerns, often fraught with doubt and despair.

But for Sticks, his life seems even more complicated than that. He lives with a father who wants to him to turn into what sounds like a robotic man. It’s about doing well at footy, and getting into the army. It’s about achievement at the expense of emotion or civility. Sure, Sticks would love to score the winning try (and of course the cute girl), as well as everything else a man’s meant to do, but whenever he tries, it just goes pear shaped.

He falls in love with a girl the boys all hate, he reverses his best mate’s car into a retaining wall, and he vomits on his Dad’s best friend’s Turkish rug. It couldn’t get worse. But of course, it does. He has a secret chest deformity. It’s called Pectus Excavatum, and it rears its ugly head during the teenage years. It causes the chest to concave at the sternum. Sticks keeps it hidden from everyone he can, including his Dad.

My Private Pectus is a rollicking ride about what a boy will do to turn into ‘man’. It evokes images of teenage boys as hormone-driven machines without the capacity to experience doubt, fear, or even love.

Yet these are the things Sticks seems to have too much of. He’s constantly trying to summon strengths that are emotional, not physical; and in moments of intimacy, he’s confronted with very real fears about what people might think about his chest.

My Private Pectus is stacked with those sticky moments that every teenager seems to find themselves in. Those moments we look back on in later life and laugh and cringe.

It is, I think, a great book for high schools, not only because it’s the only book that intimately deals with male body image concerns for teenagers, but because it raises a host of questions about alcohol, casual drug use and relationships.

A few weeks after that first ABC radio interview, I had another one with the ABC in Alice Springs, where I had spent much of my childhood.

The compere told me that My Private Pectus is like a Judy Blume novel but for teenage boys.

“What do you think of that?” she asked.

“Great,” I said, but with reservation. I was actually wondering, who the hell is Judy Blume? What am I agreeing to here?

Thinking the name sounded familiar, I went home and did my research. Considering I had studied literature at university I couldn’t believe I didn’t know this famous American novelist.

I sat back and thought, “Geez, I hope that she’s right.”

– Shane Thamm

USER REVIEW: Tithe by Holly Black

Kaye is merely sixteen years old and yet she hangs out in bars; watching her mother’s band whilst drinking, smoking and swearing.  She shoplifts and stays out as late as she wants and her mother doesn’t care. But they do love each other and they seem to be pretty good friends. Would you call this ‘good parenting’?  Personally I wouldn’t but that is Kaye’s life.  She doesn’t have it easy, and she definitely isn’t perfect and that is what sets this book apart from other Faerie stories at the moment, for example Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely.

Enter tall, hot, pewter haired faerie of the male variety.  This is when the chaos begins.  Between fights with friends, shocking surprises, death, new friendships, love and giving up smoking; Kaye gets busy!

This book really does contain quite a bit of swearing and this may put some people off.  To me though, it helps build the characters, it shows that they aren’t perfect little princesses.  Nor is it used out of context – these words are said by the characters, NOT used in descriptions by Black.

I can definitely see why people have been raving about this book.  Its dark grittiness sets it apart from other current faerie stories, and maybe even puts it ahead of them.  I think Holly Black is a great story-teller with such a well-written and compelling book.  The twists are mostly unexpected and are truly unique.

Overall, I loved this book and rate it at 4 stars out of 5.  I recommend it to teens and young adults aged 14 plus (because I’ve heard that the last book in the series, Valiant, contains explicit content) who are lovers of faerie stories, urban fantasy or just fantasy in general.

This review was written by Boomerang Books Member CMM, winner of last month’s $50 worth of Boomerang Bucks for Best Review. Submit a review for your chance to win!

EXCLUSIVE: Margo Lanagan talks TENDER

TENDER MORSELS AND JUICY BITS

Every story needs something to keep its author going.

For any story I’m writing, I need to have an object in mind, a point, a reference that, when I look at it or prod it, starts leaking story-juice, starts multiplying possibilities, starts re-igniting my interest.

For a short story, I only need the one interesting element. Often it’s the thing that sparked the story in the first place: the two odd objects that need to be brought together (the snipers and the clowns, maybe); the transformation that requires making (the girl into eagle, or the man into warlock).

For a novel, I need a number of these objects or events; it’s possible to write a juicy bit dry for a while, and I need other areas to focus on while it changes shape in response to what I’ve done, and plumps up again in my subconscious.

With Tender Morsels, the bears were such a thing. They were in the original stories I was ripping/riffing off, Caroline Stahl’s ‘The Ungrateful Dwarf’ and the Grimms’ makeover of the Stahl story, ‘Snow White and Rose Red’. In neither story did they make any sense in terms of story structure, so part of my project was to make them make sense. The split between man-nature and bear-nature suggested the split between the real- and the heaven-world, which became the crux of the story, my main area to explore.

The Ungrateful Dwarf from Stahl’s story was another element that never let me down. Collaby Dought leaped fully formed from the source material, snarking and snatching stuff for himself. The vision of him rising from the swamp water cloaked in his silver hair, his eyes blazing out but his mouth not yet free to rant, was a key that always worked, into the atmosphere and energy of the story.

The orphan witch Hotty/Muddy/Lady Annie, had a similar effect. She and Collaby compensated for the fact that my three heroines were passive and puzzled for a great deal of the story. Every time either dwarf or witch opened their mouth, something sly or smutty came out; they had senses of humour, which my heroines were sadly short of, and they lived large and lackadaisically, while Liga, Branza and Urdda were trapped in a tiny, if pleasant, world.

These three elements, the bears, the dwarf and the cheerfully incompetent witch, were what led me back into  Tender Morsels when I’d been away from it for a while. They brought it back alive for me, gave it breath and fur and body odour, and made it tower in the doorway of my writing room, growling and griping, demanding to be written.

– Margo Lanagan

Tender Morsels was recently selected as part of the 2010 Sakura Medal Reading List, was shortlisted for the 2008 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel, won Best Novel at the Ditmar Awards 2009, and was (joint) winner of Best Novel at the World Fantasy Convention 2009 – it’s safe to say that it comes highly recommended.

January Book Giveaway

Happy 2010! As always, the new month brings with it two book giveaway, one for website members, and the other, for Facebook members.

Major Book Giveaway 

The Hawke Legacy by Gerry Bloustien, Barbara Comber and Alison Mackinnon

Bob Hawke was a popular and effective Prime Minister whose economic and social reforms are acknowledged to have shaped modern Australia. The book offers a timely look at the legacy of the Hawke era (1983–1991) by considering both the achievements of his ministry, and what remains as unfinished business. The Hawke Legacy includes interviews with Bob Hawke, with his former speechwriter Graeme Freudenberg and with former Senator Rosemary Crowley, contributions from two former members of the Hawke Government, and scholarly accounts from historical, poitical, economic, educational and Indigenous perspectives.

Surf Ache by Gerry Bobsien

A state of being where all one can think of is getting back onto the waves. ella’s world is turned upside down when her family moves interstate, leaving behind her best friend, boyfriend and dance school. Age 14+.

Read a review of Surf Ache here.

 

 

Gamer’s Quest by George Ivanoff

Tark and Zyra are teenaged thieves on a quest. In a world of magic and science, where dragons and mages exist alongside drones and lasers, they endeavour to reach the haven of Designers Paradise. But their world is not what it appears to be and their haven is about to come under threat of destruction. Can Tark and Zyra save Designers Paradise…and their own world?

Read George Ivanoff’s guest blog here.

 

State of South Australia: From Crisis to Prosperity? by John Spoehr

State of South Australia meets a need for considered analysis of the major social, economic, cultural and political trends and policy challenges facing South Australia. It brings together respected researchers and commentators concerned about ensuring prosperity for all in South Australia, edited by Associate Professor John Spoehr, Executive Director, Australian Institute for Social Research.

 

 Alice in Love and War by Ann Turnbull

1644 – Alice Newcombe, trapped and unhappy on her uncle’s farm, finds her life transformed when royalist soldiers are billeted there during the Civil War. Suddenly her days are filled with excitement – and love for one young soldier, Robin. When the regiment moves on, Alice persuades Robin to take her with him, and she joins the other army women on the baggage train. The road ahead is long and hard – will there be happiness at its end?

 
For a chance to win, all you need to do is become a member – it’s free and it takes only minutes to sign up. All Boomerang Books Members go into the draw at the end of each month to win the book giveaway.

A bonus for our Facebook Members…

Our Facebook Group is growing fast, we welcomed the new year with 1000 members… let’s double that in 2010! Now, we’re not the sort of group that floods your Inbox with advertisements, that’s never been our way (and those with lots of Facebook subscriptions know that we’re in the minority). Our Facebook Group is there to link mutually-minded people: booklovers… and to reward our customers. Just being a member puts you into the draw to win prizes! This month, members have a chance to win:

Battle Boy: Bloodaxe by Charlie Carter

Battle Boy: Destroy Troy by Charlie Carter

Gamer’s Quest by George Ivanoff

They Told Me I Had to Write This by Kim Miller

The Avenue of Eternal Tranquillity by K. Overman-Edmiston

Marchetta and Lanagan vie for Sakura Medal

The nominees for the 2010 Sakura Medal have been announced in Japan, with Australian authors making the list.

In the High School category, Melina Marchetta (for her Finnikin of the Rock), Joanne Horniman (My Candlelight Novel) and Margo Lanagan (Tender Morsels) join Boomerang Books’ own William Kostakis (Loathing Lola) in the running for the Medal.

Japanese international students vote for their favourite nominee. The winners will be announced on April 28, 2010.

Margo Lanagan will be appearing on the Boomerang Books Blog early in the New Year.

William’s note: I’m deeply honoured to have been selected on the list, especially among such fine company… It’s surreal to see my name beside so many authors I grew up with, admired, and aspired to be… Now, here’s hoping an Aussie brings it home! 🙂

EXCLUSIVE: George Ivanoff Guest Blog

Let me start by saying that computer games are not the downfall of society, as we know it. Our world will continue to turn, society will continue to function, we will still play sports, kids will still go to school and learn, human beings will still interact with one another and people will still read books. Just like television did not result in the extinction of literature, computer games will continue to co-exist with the written story.

In fact, the two can go together quite nicely.

There are many book fans who like to play computer games. As a kid, I was obsessed with Space Invaders and Galaga (primitive by today’s standards) and these days I’m certainly not immune to the allure of the Wii (Snow Ride on Rayman Raving Rabbids is awesome). And I’m sure that there are many computer game enthusiasts who also like to read. At least I hope so … ’cause my new book, Gamers’ Quest, is set in a computer game world and I think it’s the sort of book that will appeal to teens who are into gaming.

When writing science fiction or fantasy, an author is often challenged with the task of creating an entire world. With Gamers’ Quest, I was not only writing science fiction (with a healthy dose of fantasy elements as well), I was also trying to tap into the world of computer gaming. The thing is… how do you capture the feel of a computer game within the pages of a novel?

Step One was to create a world with the pace and excitement of a game — a world in which danger lurked around every corner; a world with a variety of fantastical challenges and opponents, from powerful mages and fierce dragons to machinegun-toting guards and sophisticated security systems with trip lasers and automated drones; a world in which players embarked on a perilous quest.

This world then needed protagonists who readers could identify with … the sort of players they would want to be if they were playing the game.  Enter Tark and Zyra, two teenage thieves — good-looking, fast, clever, determined and skillful in a fight.

The book also needed to have a sense of fun — of not taking itself too seriously. So while Gamers’ Quest is not a humourous novel, it does have an element of tongue-in-cheek unseriousness (yes, I know there’s no such word … but I like it).

There are lots of little things I added to try and capture the computer game flavour. There are references to different classes and levels of player (knight second class; level 13 mage).

The first part of the novel is set within the computer-game world. It is non-stop action, and there is no sense of night and day. The characters simply progress from one challenge to the next, without sleeping or eating, with no real sense of time, until they reach their goal. Once the characters have crossed over into an ordinary suburban environment, I felt okay about slowing things down a little, allowing them to eat and sleep, and having a sense of days passing.

So, were my endeavors successful? Does Gamers’ Quest capture the feel of a computer game? Will gamers flock to bookstores, clamoring for a copy? Well, dear reader/gamer, that is up to you. The CG ball is now in your virtual court.

William’s note: As a gamer and reader myself, I have to say, that George really did capture the sensation of being inside a video game. There isn’t an air of “older person writing for young people” about the whole thing, which is great, because us young’uns, especially us cynical gamer young’uns, can smell a fake a mile off. Gamers’ Quest passed my test with flying colours, and it’d make a great companion for the new Mario game under the tree this Christmas. 🙂

Holiday reading for business people

Holidays are a great time to catch up on the novel-reading you missed out on during the year, but it’s always good to dip your toes back in the business waters, so that when you get back to work, you hit the ground running. Here are twelve of Boomerang Books’ hand-picked holiday reads for job seekers, managers and business people:

What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles

There is no book that is more vital to job-hunting in this economy than “What Color is Your Parachute?” It has been honored and celebrated for nearly 40 years, but in our current global recession, the reason why it is so popular becomes painfully apparent: It works! People buy the book because it really, really works! Every year it has more timely and more helpful information than the year before, because it is updated, and often dramatically rewritten, for the current job market.

Buy it here…

 

Who Moved My Cheese by Dr Spencer Johnson

Cheese is a metaphor for what you want in life – be it a good job, a loving relationship, money or possessions, health or spiritual peace of mind. And the maze is where you look for what you want – the organization you work in, or the family or community where you live. This book shows how to anticipate change, adapt quickly, enjoy the change and be ready for more, so that you suffer from less stress and enjoy more success in life.

Buy it here…

 

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Millions of people around the world have – and continue to – improve their lives based on the teachings of Dale Carnegie. In “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Carnegie offers practical advice and techniques, in his exuberant and conversational style, for how to get out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding. His advice has stood the test of time and will teach you how to: make friends quickly and easily; increase your popularity; win people to your way of thinking; enable you to win new clients and customers; become a better speaker and a more entertaining conversationalist; and, arouse enthusiasm among your colleagues. This book will turn around your relationships and improve your dealings with all the people in your life.

Buy it here…

 

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

A completely revised edition of the groundbreaking bestseller that provides the key ingredients to developing a prosperous small business venture.

Buy it here…

 

The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

Starting from the assumption that people are every company’s most important resource, this book sets out three simple steps to getting the best from them and making every company run more efficiently.

Buy it here…

 

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

You’re either a Purple Cow or you’re not. You’re either remarkable or invisible. Make your choice. What do Apple, Starbucks, Dyson and Pret a Manger have in common? How do they achieve spectacular growth, leaving behind former tried-and-true brands to gasp their last? The old checklist of P’s used by marketers – Pricing, Promotion, Publicity – aren’t working anymore. The golden age of advertising is over. It’s time to add a new P – the Purple Cow. Purple Cow describes something phenomenal, something counterintuitive and exciting and flat-out unbelievable. In his new bestseller, Seth Godin urges you to put a Purple Cow into everything you build, and everything you do, to create something truly noticeable. It’s a manifesto for anyone who wants to help create products and services that are worth marketing in the first place.

Buy it here…

 

Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson

Compelling. Brilliant. Revealing. Funny. Inspirational. Extraordinary. Sir Richard Branson’s amazing memoir is now updated to include the effect on the Virgin Group of 11 September, his views on the war in Iraq, the rise of Virgin Blue and the flotation of Virgin Mobile. Discover how Virgin is moving into the US domestic flight market and why he set up the charitable body Virgin Uniteo. As ever, his thirst for challenge is unquenched. Sir Richard reveals the thrills of the world record attempt with the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer and taking Virgin to the final frontier as Virgin Galactic are poised for a new era of commercial space travel. Revealing Sir Richard’s unique story, his personal philosophy on life, the Virgin brand and business, LOSING MY VIRGINITY is an autobiography without equal.

Buy it here…

 

The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

Tim Ferriss has trouble defining what he does for a living. Depending on when you ask this controversial Princeton University guest lecturer, he might answer: ‘I race motorcycles in Europe’, ‘I ski in the Andes’, ‘I scuba dive in Panama’, ‘I dance tango in Buenos Aires’. He has spent more than five years learning the secrets of the ‘New Rich’, a fast-growing subculture that has abandoned the ‘deferred-life plan’ and instead mastered the new currencies – time and mobility – to create a new way of living. Why wait a lifetime for your retirement when you can enjoy luxury now? Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing first class world travel, earning a monthly five-figure income with no management, or just living more and working less, this book is the blueprint.

Buy it here…

 

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Argues that a good education and a secure job are not guarantees for financial success, and describes six guidelines for making money work for you.

Buy it here…

 

Problogger by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett

Ready to toss it all in and run your own home business?  This book will teach you how to make over $100K per annum by blogging.  Written by a Melburnian who has become one of the world’s leading bloggers.

Buy it here…

 

Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats is the groundbreaking psychology manual that has inspired organisations and individuals all over the world. De Bono’s innovative guide divides the process of thinking into six parts, symbolized by the six hats, and shows how the hats can dramatically transform the effectiveness of meetings and discussions. This is a book to open your mind, unleash your creativity and change the way you think about thinking.

Buy it here…

 

How to Write and Talk to Selection Criteria by Dr Ann Villiers

The bible for people who regularly respond to government vacancies.  This book will show you how to write brilliant responses to selection criteria.

Buy it here…

EXCLUSIVE: Clinton Walker talks GOLDEN MILES

Today, Clinton Walker drops by the Boomerang Books Blog to discuss his latest release, the buzzed-about Golden Miles. Part-autobiography, part-mediation on beauty, loss and national identity, Golden Miles is a must-buy for Aussie rev-heads and pop culture lovers alike this holiday season.

I wrote Golden Miles for the same basic reason I’ve written all my books – I’d been gripped by the story and simply wasn’t going to be happy until I’d got it down and out there in some form. I guess you could say my speciality is sort of underclass or overlooked history and for Golden Miles, these cars that I’d grown up with and been entranced by could be, I could see, a great vehicle for my broader interest in the social and cultural history of life in the Australian suburbs and fringes.

It’s always seemed to me, perhaps because it’s all still so close, that people seem to look down on the suburbia they came from or even still live in. But in the course of seven books over the past twenty or so years, this history has proved not so close that the people who lived through it aren’t starting to drop off. This was certainly the case with my book about aboriginal hillbilly music, Buried Country: statistics said many of these elderly aborigines should have been dead a long time back, and in fact, a few have died since the book (and film and CD) was completed in 2000, but that only doubled my original determination to get their stories down before it was too late and it’s one my great prides that I did.

More than once, people have said to me, ‘You write books for people who don’t read, or don’t buy books.’ Apart from the fact that at different times with diffferent titles, I’ve sold a lot of books (my 1994 biography of late AC/DC legend Bon Scott has sold around one hundred thousand copies and is still selling at a rate of knots), what I think these people are saying is that my subject matter is declasse. Writers can write all sorts of books about all sorts of things and hope (or expect) that readers will come to a subject that they might not ordinarily broach. I write books about subjects that are not ‘legitimate’ – aboriginal hillbilly singers, small-time Australian football culture, suburban rev-heads… and I ask, just because those subjects are not populated by people who are readers, is that any reason not to cover that subject? Or for typical readers to come to it? In fact, to me, of course, it again doubles my determination.

I grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne in the 1960s, and I was probably a slightly precocious kid who was into comic books and bubblegum cards and hot rod magazines and, increasingly, rock’n’roll. I drew rheems of my own dream-machine custom cars because I just loved the lines and I loved the promise in them, a promise of break-out and sensuality and speed and glamour and all possible tomorrows.

I wanted to be a car designer, I told people. Life intervened of course, and by the time I finished high school in Queensland, I was running right off the rails, intoxicated by drugs and rock’n’roll, and so it was only very reluctantly that I started an architecture course at university because, I suppose, my parents thought it was the thing I should do with my talents for design. I soon dropped out and enrolled in art school… but soon dropped out of that too, to start writing for rock magazines. I fell into writing because I had a story to tell, not because I was ambitious to be a writer, and in a lot of ways, my motivation remains the same.

After writing a few books about Australian rock (including Inner City Sound, Stranded and the Bon Scott biography, Highway to Hell), I realised my interests were broadening out or returning to my general fascination with vernacular, popular culture, and thus almost stumbled over the stories I wrote in  Buried Country and Football Life.

Golden Miles is a love song to these particular cars of this particular era in Australian history, and if it’s true, as I admit, that I am in so many ways a dilattante, because I’ve never owned such a car and wouldn’t know how to do more than change a tyre on one if did, I think this unconsummated aspect of  our relationship only makes my dedication more ardent!

It was a fascination I’d had since childhood and I finally wanted to understand what it was all about. And I think, having written the book, I now do.

The book always had to be illustrated, and beautifully designed. What point is a book about beautiful design that isn’t beautifully designed itself? As a former art student, I remain dedicated to the visual even though I have a line that says, ‘your literary credibility declines in direct proportion to the number of illustrations your book includes’. But how could I not include some of this beautiful, evocative and provocative imagery?

I designed the book in conjunction with my design partner, Jim Paton, who learned his trade at Reader’s Digest. I love the way this book looks.

When I go back and glance through it now, I enjoy the way it reads too. 🙂

The Bedside Book of Beasts: A Wildlife Miscellany by Graeme Gibson

This is a gorgeous and a curious book. A magnificent sad-looking leopard stalks across its dust-jacket and many other beasts and prey lurk in the forest of its pages. It is richly and colourfully illustrated with drawings, photographs, paintings and objects from many artists, countries and cultures. There are beasts from prehistoric wall paintings and ancient manuscripts, there are tigers, panthers, foxes, wolves, deer, bison and bunyips, and there is an Inuit drawing of a shaman and a Phoenician carving, there is also a photograph of a ‘reclining demimonde’ who is clearly a beast of a very different sort. Some of the most beautiful paintings of beasts are by J.J.Audubon, who is better known for his birds. Altogether, this is a gorgeous bedtime book for dipping into and finding creatures which might readily stalk through your dreams.

Which brings me to the ‘curious’ part. This is a curious book in the Alice-in-Wonderland sense. It’s text is full of strange and unusual poems, parables, folk-tales, brief quotations, fabulous and imaginative stories, plus extracts from the diaries of hunters and explorers, and writing by scientists and ecologists. It is an eclectic mixture of curiosities in which Graeme Gibson’ s introduction to each section of the book are, perhaps, the most curious.

Gibson writes of his own experiences with wild animals – a childhood encounter with sharks, the thrill of listening to wolves, the strange experience of being unknowingly stalked by a bear. But he also  writes about animal behaviour, about the encounter between the hunter and the hunted, and about our own history as both predator and prey. His accounts do not always make comfortable reading, especially as they describe the increasing alienation of human beings from the natural world. In fact, reading this book, as I did, from cover to cover, rather than dipping into it at random, can be an increasingly depressing experience. Not only have we humans managed to by-pass natural selection and so undermine the natural process which improves the survival chances of any species, we are also increasingly cut off from any direct contact with the beasts on which we feed, and from the natural world in general. As a bedtime story, this is more likely to give you nightmares than pleasant dreams.

However, and this is a big HOWEVER, dipping into this book is a delight. And if Gibson’s underlying theme does penetrate our consciousness (and subconsciousness) and reinforce our love and understanding of beasts through the many curiosities he has collected in it, then it should be on everybody’s bedside table.

A selection of sample pages is available athttp://knopfdoubleday.com/bedsidebookofbeasts/

EXCLUSIVE: Kim Miller Guest Blog

The influence of my life and work on my writing…

Being a prison chaplain is an interesting business. I work in a world that is unknown and misunderstood. People say to me, ‘How do you manage to work with those men after all the stuff they’ve done?’ I say, ‘It’s okay. I get to meet the people my mother wouldn’t let me play with when I was a kid.’

Well, I used to say that. Then I gave honesty a try…

See, I remember returning to my home town, and visiting the mother of a primary school friend, Robert.

I knock on her door. She answered, a bit belligerent – just as I remembered. ‘Who are you?’

‘I’m Kim. I used to live next door.’

‘Kim,’ she exploded. ‘You’re the boy who set fire to my yard and nearly burnt the house down.’

Mind you, this instant response is thirty-five years after I’d left that town as a teenager.

She goes on to talk about me as a kid as if I’m not standing in front of her: ‘That Kim was such a bad influence that we had to send Robert away to boarding school.’ 

So, maybe my work as a prison chaplain means I get to work with the people like me, the ones other mothers wouldn’t let their children play with. 🙂

My recent book, They Told Me I Had To Write This is a young adult novel about a boy named Clem. Clem is at war with the world and with himself. He’s in trouble with the coppers and is now attending a school for toxic teenagers. And in this environment, he starts to deal with the sexual abuse of his childhood. 

The abused childhood autobiography is fairly common. But fiction novels about child sexual abuse are not common, especially for teenagers. Perhaps publishers shy away from the area. Perhaps people don’t feel qualified to write about it. Perhaps authors are waiting for the vampire thing to fade and it will be the next fad. Perhaps I will now be inundated from readers who want to fill in my ignorance. 

All I can say is that one sleepless night on holidays this book put itself together in my head. I got up the next morning and wrote an outline. Then I started to write. Five days later I had the first draft. Some holiday, don’t you reckon?

Competent people cast their eye over it. Author Hazel Edwards mentored me for some of the way. It got knocked into shape and was accepted for publication. Three years after that sleepless night it was on its way to the printer. I’m a bit blown away by it. 

I sometimes wonder where the story came from. The answer is, from my own mind. It was in there already. I know about boys in strife. I’ve worked with them, as teenagers and adults, for many years. I was one myself. My book has been getting some pretty good reviews. I love that.

People ask me if I am writing anything else. Yes, I am. I’m currently writing a follow-up to this book. It’s not a sequel, but it has resonances. There’s a supporting character in They Told Me I Had To Write This named Bundy. I’m telling his story. It’s a darker work and there’s a more menacing undercurrent. Bundy likes burning things down. It’s the story of a firesetter. I wonder where that could be coming from…

They Told Me I Had To Write This by Kim Miller

Clem is a boy in strife. Blamed for the death of his mother, carrying a terrible secret from Grade 5 and in trouble with the police, he’s now in a school for toxic teenagers. And that rev-head school counselor wants him to write letters.Through his writing Clem goes deep into the trauma that has defined his life. Then he comes face to face with his mother’s death. In a rush of bush bike racing, the death of one student and the consequent arrest of another, an unexpected first girlfriend, and some surprising friendships, Clem’s story is the celebration of a boy who finds an unexpected future.Tackles multiple issues affecting today’s kids: bullying; family dysfunction; grief; mental illness; friendship with a fast-paced plot. Adults who are looking for insight into how to approach instances of deep teenage trauma will also find something here, as well as a good story, well told.

A new era for BOOMERANG BOOKS

The new month has brought with it a new era for Boomerang Books, our brand new website is now live!

http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au

Pretty, huh?

But it isn’t just a fancy coat of paint. Here at Boomerang, we believe in providing our customers with an unparalleled user experience, something we feel this update does.

To celebrate the launch, we’d like to invite you and your friends to become members on the site for free. We’re giving every new member that signs up a $5 credit toward their first order as a member!

Sign up here: http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/join

It only takes a couple of minutes.

So what’s new on the Boomerang Books website?

  • It’s much faster – searches are completed in milliseconds
  • It has a more contemporary design and slicker interface
  • Search results are presented in multiple formats allowing the user to find what they are looking for quickly and easily
  • It has new social networking features, including an RSS feed of ‘what’s happening’ on the site at any one time (and there’s more to come – watch this space)
  • It has smart Web 2.0-style gadgets, pop-ups and drop-downs to make the user experience more enjoyable, including ‘Someone just bought…’ and ‘Customers who bought this book also bought..’ selections
  • It features a new loyalty program called Boomerang Bucks. Buy books at Boomerang Books and earn Boomerang Bucks towards your next purchase
  • It’s integrated with Google Books, allowing the user to ‘look inside’ the growing list of books that have been digitised by Google
  • It’s integrated with Abebooks, giving you the option to purchase second hand copies of selected books
    There’s a new wishlist where you can store books that you might wish to purchase later on
  • It has a much-improved book review system, allowing users to submit their own book reviews and to provide a star rating for books they have read
  • It offers more payment options, including PayPal, BPay and bank deposit
  • Perhaps most importantly, the new website platform is extensible and we’re planning on some exciting developments in the coming months

So be sure to drop on by and become a member today! http://www.boomerangbooks.com.au/join

EXCLUSIVE: Karen Tayleur Guest Blog

Karen Tayleur, author of Chasing Boys and the newly-released Hostage, talks about an author’s relationship with her characters.

Spend enough time with characters from a book and they become real to you. They don’t belong to the author anymore, but are entities in their own right. As a young reader I counted Katy (What Katy Did), Jo and all her sisters (Little Women) among my group of friends. As an author, I find the same thing. Originally, the characters are my creation, my pawns to do with what I choose. Soon enough, though, they flesh out and become real people, which can interfere with my plans. ‘Oh, no, Tully would definitely not ask the parking inspector for help, she has a lifelong aversion to authority figures.’ Sometimes we don’t see eye to eye.

Tully, the main protagonist from my latest book, Hostage, was a slippery character to pin down. However, in an echo of real life, if you take the time to get to know a person, the more empathy you can have for them — even if you never really like them. I grew to like Tully, though. I thought I knew her — well as the author, I had the best chance of knowing her — but as the months progressed, I finally really knew her, understood her motives, and the story became easier to write.

Not that Hostage was easy to write. It took two corkboards of coloured cards to plot out what was happening, when and where. And it was satisfying to finish. There are several high points in the writing process that I enjoy. One is finally understanding my main character in depth. Another is waking up after grappling with a knotty point in the plot and having the solution. The greatest high point is pushing that send button and watching the first draft whiz off to my editor, with the full knowledge that there will be redrafting but that this is actually a miracle that the first draft is finished. It’s not until later, a month or so after the book has gone to press, that I find myself thinking about my main protagonist again. Wondering what he or she would be doing beyond that final page.

I’ve had requests from some readers for a sequel to Chasing Boys. It was never my intention for it to be a series, but I understand their need to continue the relationship with the characters. In a compromise, I gave one of the characters a cameo role in Hostage.

I sometimes catch myself thinking about Tully. Wondering about her life. What she will make of it. As with the friends we make in real life, some come and go, while others remain forever. I may never meet up with Tully again, but we will always have a connection.

I wish her all the best.

Surf Ache by Gerry Bobsien

First, praise for what this story is not. It is not about vampires and werewolves, does not feature a dysfunctional family, there is no strong sexual theme and no time travel. All of this is refreshing in the teen-girl-fiction scene. There is a reference to marijuana use and dealing, but both are condemned. Gerry Bobsien has written a good story about interesting people centred on a very Australian character. Ella, who is in year 9, starts the book sadly, transplanted from Melbourne, where she had ballet, a bestie and a boyfriend, to Newcastle, where only surfing matters. Eventually she begins to shine as a dancer, then on a surfboard, on which she proves a natural.

Review by Jill Rowbotham, Weekend Australian, November 28, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: K. Overman-Edmiston Guest Blog

K. Overman-Edmiston, the author of The Avenue of Eternal Tranquillity writes about the genesis of her novel.

I love to travel, and I often use experiences from my travels in my writing.  For example, when flying from Vienna to Moscow a few years ago, I had a bout of food poisoning so, on reaching the hotel in Moscow, I was in bed for about 36 hours.  I awoke in the wee hours on Boxing Day and went to the window, it was still dark outside.  Down in the snow in the car park between the hotel and River Moskva a man had got out of his car, taken off his hat and coat and laid down in the snow.  He looked as though he had simply gone to sleep, curled on his side.  The police came, took notes, and left the body under a piece of matting.
 
Some time later I boarded the trans-Siberian train for Siberia and China, but I couldn’t get the image of the man in the snow out of my mind.  Why would a person do such a thing?  He would have known that taking off his warm clothes and choosing to lie down in the snow in such ferociously low temperatures would mean certain death.  Oddly enough, he looked quite peaceful and resigned to his action.
 
The Avenue of Eternal Tranquillity is a sort of fictional history leading up to that moment.  An attempt at an explanation as to why someone would choose to die and why, perhaps, they would seem so comfortable in making such a choice.
 
I know it sounds a bit depressing, but it’s actually a very uplifting story!  We are a culture, I think, that deals badly with death, particularly if the event is unexpected.  I wanted to write a story that would provide some comfort or reassurance to those who have lost someone they love.  I hope this book is reassuring, especially for those who have quieter voices.
 
The intertwining story involves a couple travelling the trans-Siberian from Beijing to Moscow in the present day – full of fascinating insights for those who love to travel!  The other couple, Pyotr and Yuliya, live in Moscow in the 1960s.  The couples’ stories plait throughout the novel but come together at the novel’s end.

The landscapes traversed really provide a backdrop to the more important internal landscapes of each of the characters.  The book is simply an ode to tenderness, to the kindness people can offer to one another. Kindnesses that seem small but really are the essence of being alive; living a full life.

The Avenue of Eternal Tranquillity by K Overman-Edmiston

In the arctic conditions of a Moscow winter, a man drives to the car park of a city hotel. He takes off his hat and coat, lies down in the snow, goes to sleep, and dies. Why? From a window high up in the Hotel Rossiya, a couple looks down upon the figure lying in the snow.

Hannah and Luke have just arrived in Moscow after travelling across Mongolia and Siberia. They had not seen the Russian leave his car, but they did see the police arrive, take notes, cover the body with a piece of matting, and then leave. This book tells the story of Pyotr and Yuliya, living in the Soviet Union of the 1960s. Their tale is interwoven with that of Luke and Hannah travelling the trans-Siberian railway from Beijing to Moscow in the early years of the new millennium. Their paths collide during the festive season in Moscow, 2002.

Set in Russia and China, this story traces two deeply founded relationships that provide insights into love’s gentle and tenuous beginnings to its richness, rewards, complexities, and potential for tragedy.

Keep a look out for The Avenue of Eternal Tranquillity in next month’s giveaway.

Boomerang Books Re-Launch

As frequent readers will no doubt know, we are extremely excited about the upcoming launch of Boomerang Books’ new website on 1 November 2009. But what exactly have our developers cooked up for you?

Well, we can say that it’s an industry-leading online bookstore platform, and we can tell you how great we think it is, but sometimes, the features need to speak for themselves.

  • It’s much faster – searches are completed in milliseconds
  • The design is contemporary, slick
  • Search results are presented in multiple formats, allowing you to find what you’re looking for faster
  • New social networking features, including an RSS feed of ‘what’s happening’ on the site at any one time
  • Smart Web 2.0-style gadgets, pop-ups and drop-downs to make your experience more enjoyable
  • A new loyalty program called Boomerang Bucks.  Buy books at Boomerang and earn Boomerang Bucks towards your next purchase
  • Integrated with Google Books, allowing you to ‘look inside’ books that have been digitised by Google
  • Integrated with Abebooks, giving you the option to purchase second-hand copies of selected books
  • A new wishlist, where you can store books that you might wish to purchase later on
  • A much-improved book review system, allowing users to submit their own book reviews and to rate books
  • More payment options, including PayPal, BPay and bank deposit

And there are more improvements on the way!

So, thank you for all your support, thank you to our beta testers, and thank you for your feedback. We look forward to an exciting step forward, alongside you, our faithful Boomerang customers. 🙂

ANDREW MCDONALD Guest Blog: Classic Books As Blogs

Books based on blogs seem to be the flavour of the moment. The blog-turned-book Stuff White People Like did incredibly well and we now have the first movie based on a book based on a blog in Julie and Julia. In light of this blogging/authoring/filmmaking trend I’ve looked back at five classic books to see what they would have looked like had they started life as blogs as well. 

1. THE TRIAL by Franz Kafka

Blog Title: Der Internetprozess
About The Blogger: Josef K. is a blogger and is currently on trial. He is uncertain how he came to be either.  
Blog excerpt: This morning I was not allowed out of my room for breakfast. Two goons outside told me I am under arrest but would not say why. So whilst I am understandably upset I have resolved to sit down at my computer and blog as I wait for word on what shall happen to me from here. Perhaps I will jump on answer.yahoo.com to try to find out exactly what is happening to me.

2. THE MAGIC FARAWAY TREE by Enid Blyton

Blog Title: The Wireless Woods
About The Blogger: Bessie is a girl who has recently come to live on the edge of some woods. Sometimes she calls herself Beth to sounds more modern.
Blog Excerpt: Today when we go back into the woods that seem to whisper, I am going to take my lappy with me and blog from the depths of the forest. Although Jo thinks there won’t be any wireless coverage in the woods. So we might have to climb to the top of the tallest tree we can find to get coverage.

3. DRACULA by Bram Stoker

Blog Title: Collective Ramblings About A Count Called Dracula
About the Bloggers: Jonathan, Mina, Lucy and Dr Seward.
Blog excerpt from Dr Seward: The case of Renfield grows more interesting the more I get to understand the man. As it turns out the man eats flies and spiders and bugs. Kind of like this guy:

4. ROBINSON CRUSOE by Daniel Defoe

Blog Title: Help!
About The Blogger: Robinson is a victim of shipwreck and circumstance. But mostly, shipwreck. He blogs from a deserted isle somewhere.
Blog Excerpt: Another long day on the island. But I think I am maintaining my sanity. One must remain clear-headed in case some possibility of rescue should make itself known. In the meantime I shall shove another S.O.S. message inside a bottle and throw it out to sea. And then after that I think I’ll check Facebook. And think of something else to blog about.

5. HATING ALISON ASHLEY by Robin Klein

Blog Title: I Hate Alison Ashley
About the Blogger: Erica Yurken wants to be a star. Also, she hates Alison Ashley.
Blog Excerpt: I hate Alison Ashley. I would like to say more but I am afraid of the consequences if I am caught ‘cyber bullying’.

Andrew McDonald is the author of The Greatest Blogger in the World

When the school mascot is stolen and a multinational corporation tries to take over the school formal, Charlie Ridge has his chance to Be the Hero, Get the Girl, and Save the Day. That’s got to give him a leg up on the quest to be The Greatest Blogger in the World, right? Age 10+.

October Giveaway

OCTOBER MAJOR GIVEAWAY

Variety is the spice of life, and this month’s prize pack’s spicy indeed! Spend a year in Girl Hell,  search for truth, live a hilarious life alongside a comedian, and learn to cook for a growing family on a shrinking budget, in a pack that includes:

The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett SIGNED

A Year In Girl Hell: Dumped by Meredith Costain

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

A Nest Of Occasionals by Tony Martin

Woman Speak by Louise Nicholas and Jude Aquilina

On A Shoestring by Samela Harris

 

To go into the draw to win these books, just complete the entry form here. Entries close October 31, 2009.

OCTOBER FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY

When you join our Facebook Group, not only do you become a part of one of Australia’s fastest growing online book groups, you also go into the draw to win prizes! This month, one lucky member will win a pack that includes:

Nemesis and the Fairy of Pure Heart by Ashley Du Toit SIGNED

After by Sue Lawson

Elephant Dance by Tammie Matson

Dragon Keeper by Carole Wilkinson

On The Case by Moya Simons

Elephant Dance Dragonkeeper

A big thanks to our friends at Allen and Unwin, Black Dog Books, Dragon Publishing, Hardie Grant Egmont, Pan Macmillan, Penguin, Wakefield Press and Walker Books for supporting our giveaways this month.

 

The Lost Symbol Fever

The Lost Symbol sold 1 million copies worldwide in one day. While no-where near the numbers Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows raked in – 8 million in the US alone on Day 1 – there’s no doubting that Dan Brown’s latest is a hit. When a book has been as anticipated as this has, readers often find themselves at a loss after devouring it.

They need more.

Are you suffering from The Lost Symbol Fever / Withdrawals? Need your next conspiratorial fix? Well, check out these supplementary reads fresh off the press:

The Rough Guide to the Lost Symbol by Michael Haag
Dan Brown’s new thriller The Lost Symbol is the biggest global publishing phenomenon since his runaway bestseller The Da Vinci Code. The new adventures of mystery-solving Professor of Symbology, Robert Langdon have attracted huge global interest and fresh controversies concerning Dan Brown’s ideas, characters and thoughts on mythology and history.The Rough Guide to The Lost Symbol traces all the debates concerning religion and secret societies and the views of historians on Dan Brown’s plots and ideas. It casts an eye on the locations of the book and how you can visit them and explains how The Lost Symbol connects to Brown’s previous work and other books. Whether you are a Dan Brown fanatic, sceptic or agnostic there is no doubting the excitement generated by his exciting stories all of which are explored in this guide. This new Rough Guide has the key to understanding The Lost Symbol.

The Secrets of the Lost Symbol by Ian Gittins
Explores all aspects of the most talked about secret society in the world, from its most famous members to its infamous history, revealing the facts behind the fiction of Dan Brown’s new blockbuster. For centuries the Freemasonry has been the subject of rumour and intrigue. From its obscure origins to the suspicion that it exercises huge influence on government and multinational corporations, there has always been more than a whiff of controversy about the organisation. Secrets of the Lost Symbol reveals the truth behind the myths, sifts the facts from the fiction, and unveils the mysterious rites and ceremonies. Ian Gittins delves deep into the true origins of the society, its philosophy and practices, describes the rituals, and profiles a number of key figures. Along the way, he also shows where fact and fiction have fought, and fiction has won the battle.

Uncovering the Lost Symbol by Tim Collins
Delves into the mysteries Dan Brown writes about in his latest novel. The symbology behind the racy thriller will be unravelled and explained to all.

Boomerang @ Bookfeast 2009

Whenever William the author is invited to an event, William the Boomerang Blogger gets indirectly invited too. On Wednesday, NSW authors and illustrators braved the orange dust storm, and headed into the CBD for this year’s Bookfeast, a great event organised by Haberfield school librarian Michael Fraser.

Some Boomerang Books Blog alums were there, including Deborah Abela, Belinda Murrell, Richard Harland and Kate Forsyth. Also there was Susanne Gervay, whose I Am Jack’s stage adaptation by MonkeyBaa is on until October 2 at the Seymour Theatre and is the talk of the town, Duncan Ball, Sue Whiting, Jenny Hale, and my current favourite (and the insanely funny) illustrator Sarah Davies, who was just awarded Best New Young Illustrator by the CBCA for the powerful Mending Lucille.

Now, pictures!