If you were a child in the 1980s, or indeed if you had a child in the 1980s, you would certainly remember Grug. If you still have any of the Grug books, they would be collectors’ items by now because the series by Ted Prior has been out of print since 1992.

Well the world has changed since the 1980s. Grug is on Facebook and he has more than 50,000 friends (and a couple of videos). And he has entered the world of flash mobbing.

And September will see the first new Grug book in 30 year’s as Ted Prior’s lovable character will be the official face of the children’s campaign for Books Alive.

Meanwhile, at Booktopia, we have another one of those great exclusive deals for you.

We have put together four Grug packs,  each one with 6 of these very appealing  books. That’s $30 worth of Grug for $22.95, not that you can buy the packs anywhere else.

Of course, the books retail individually for $4.99 (our price $4.46) but once you have one you will definitely want the lot. So for little ones, or the little one still inside you, click on the packs below the re-enter the joyous world of Grug.

Pack 1
Grug, Grug and his Garden, Gurg and the Big Red Apple, Grug and the Rainbow, Grug in the Playground, Grug and the Green Paint.

Pack 2
Grug Goes to School, Grug Meets Snoot, Grug Learns to Swim, Grug Goes Fishing, Grug Has a Birthday.

Grug Plays Soccer, Grug at the Zoo, Grug at the Snow, Grug and His Bicycle, Grug Plays Cricket, Grug and His Music.

Grug Builds a Car, Grug Learns to Cook, Grug Builds a Boat, Grug and His Kite, Grug Learns to Dance, Grug Goes Shopping.

Popular Penguins…the Next 50

There is something extremely reassuring about those orange jackets and that little bird. Put the two together and you know you are looking at great writing and great value.

Following on from the first release of these extremely well priced gems last September, the good people at Penguin have added another 50 to the Popular Penguin range of  great classic and contemporary writing. The books retail for $9.95. Our price is $8.96.

Have a browse through the list here. All 100 of the books are listed. The most recent ones are displayed with their publication date of June 29 clearly showing. There are blurbs and extracts so take your time. Then go to our site and start clicking. Its that simple!

A fitting finale for the Millennium Trilogy

A sigh of relief. The wait for Luftslottet som sprängdes is almost over.

9781906694173Known as The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest in the English speaking world, Stieg Larsson fans will be lining up on October 1 to get the final installment of phenomenally popular Millennium Trilogy.

Stieg Larsson’s three thrillers about a crusading journalist and a rather twisted punk heroine have so far sold 13 million copies in 35 countries.

The Swedish movie adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is being released in Australia towards in the end of the year. Meanwhile, across the Pacific, there is talk of Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt giving us the Hollywood version (inevitable really).

9781906694678August will see the release in this country of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  special edition (with its handsome embossed cover and the first chapter of book 2). If you can’t wait for that one, we have the original one in stock now.  The B format of the The Girl Who Played with Fire is coming out in August too if you want to pre-order but if you can’t wait, you’ll just have to read the trade paperback version. If you have read numbers one and two, you will want to pre-order The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

To get a glimpse of the Millennium Trilogy world, click here.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Where would movie makers be without the novels that inspire them?

9780099464464The latest celluloid make-over is Audrey Niffenegger’s marvellous imagining, The Time Traveler’s Wife. We have it in stock now.

In the meantime, to see Rachel McAdams as Clare and Eric Bana as Henry, look at the trailer. I can’t tell you anything about the movie because it isn’t being released until August, but I can tell you that the book is absolutely compelling.

Bush fire appeal book raises $300,000

9780732290108black saturdayAustralians have responded in droves to the Harper Collins bushfire fundraiser through their purchases of Black Saturday: Stories of Love, Loss and Courage from the Victorian Bushfires. In fact, more than $300,000 has been raised through this initiative.

The book was put together to raise money for the The Salvation Army’s bushfire appeal, with Harper Collins producing it for free, and booksellers selling it for cost. That meant that just about all of the $24.99 that people spent buying it, went directly to the appeal (minus GST of course).

We sold about 75 over a couple of weeks before the publishers ran out of stock. If you are interested in this remarkable book, you might still be able to find it -  dare I say it? -  elsewhere.

Tim Winton’s Breath wins Miles Franklin Award

timwintonCongratulations to Tim Winton who last night picked up the Miles Franklin Award for the fourth time for his novel Breath.

“I’m stoked, of course, but also mindful that there are terrific writers who will be feeling pretty stiff tonight, because their books are more than good enough to have won,” said Winton.

“To some extent I feel like the kid who’s simply left holding the parcel when the music stops.”

9780143009580breathAs far as the award judges were concerned, Breath is “a searing document about masculinity, about risk, and about young people’s desire to push the limits. Winton is at the height of his powers as a novelist, and this is his greatest love letter yet to the sea, to the coast of West Australia, and a compelling testimony to the role of surfing in Australian culture.

“Written in Winton’s own distinctive voice, we can sense that it is also a homage to some of his favourite writers:  Salinger, Faulkner, Melville and Hemingway.”

If you haven’t already read it, you are in for a real treat.  You can browse for Breath here. We’ve got both the hardback and the paperback in stock and marked down. There is also a full CD version.

In the meantime, the Breath microsite is packed full of goodies – readings, interviews, a very evocative booktrailer. Have a look.

Lone Wolf on Wall Street eyes off Australia

Well, well, well, prepare to say welcome to the Wolf.

9780733624148wolf of wallYes, Jordan Belfort aka the Wolf of Wall Street himself is coming to Australia. He will be arriving mid August and will be doing a series of high profile corporate and public events (details to follow). It will be a media mash up – everyone wants a piece of this guy. And he is currently the bestselling author in the business category in Australia with both books.

We have the latest one, Catching the Wolf on Wall Street in stock and marked down.  But to get the full flavour of this fascinating insight into corporate greed, you’ll need to start at the very beginning with The Wolf of Wall Street.

9780733623974catching the wolfWe profiled Jordan Belfort in Booktopia Buzz in March. Meanwhile, to launch news of the tour and to get a few pulses racing there will be a large feature in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday 20 June and the Today Show will do a live cross to Jordan in LA that following Monday.

To get a taste, watch this.

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: Memoir with a big heart

sanctuaryoutcastsNeil White’s memoir In the Sanctuary of Outcasts was introduced to me as a book that can change lives. Big call. A very risky thing to say to someone who looks at hundreds of new books every week with an eye to their saleability. Even more so because it came from someone whose job it is to move a lot of said stock.

Admittedly, the premise of this tale which takes place on a backward flowing bend in the Mississippi River in Louisiana, is intriguing. In May 1993, Neil White was jailed for a year in Carville for bank fraud. He owed more than $1 million in debts from his collapsed publishing business. What he didn’t realise until he got there was that Carville was also America’s national leprosarium. Its 130 patients were effectively forcibly quarantined there, incarcerated for life.

In the Federal Medical Center in Carville, White witnessed an unprecedented convergence of cultures – federal inmates and prison guards were thrown together with leprosy patients, public health works and an order of nuns. For White, it was a year of reflection, self discovery and eventual humility as he learnt from this community of men and women who survived unimaginble injustice and tragedy.

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts is neither mawkish nor saccharine. It is not sanctimonious or proselytizing. It doesn’t wallow, it is not voyeuristic. In fact, it is a pretty straight up and down read.

According to John Grisham this is a remarkable story of a young man’s loss of everything he deemed important, his imprisonment in a place that would terrify anyone and his ultimate discovery that redemption can be taught by society’s most dreaded outcasts.

Well put. I don’t know about changing lives. What I can say is that this is a book that you will want to read. It wraps itself around you and keeps you warm and cossetted long after that last page.

To get a flavour, listen to the author himself:

Toby Alone: pure adventure and pure charm

9780763641818tobyaloneEvery now and then I get to fall into a book so completely that I can’t help feel delighted that the gods have somehow conspired to allow me to read and write about books for a living.

From the opening paragraphs of Timothée de Fombelle’s Toby Alone, I was hooked.

Toby was just one and a half millimetres tall, not exactly big for a boy of his age. Only his toes were sticking out of the hole in the bark where he was hiding.

Looking up through the enormous russet-coloured leaves to the starry sky above, Toby felt there had never been a night as dark and shiny as this one. When there’s no moon, the stars dance more brightly. Even if there were a sky in Heaven, he told himself, it couldn’t possibly be as deep or as magical as this.

9781406310146toby and the secrets of the treeWell, there is only one place to go after an opening like that and that is head on into the story with the diminutive Toby whose whole universe is described by the giant oak tree in which he, and his crisis riven people, live.

Part allegory, part adventure, I am certainly not alone in falling for the charms of Toby. Translated from the French by Sarah Adams, and illustrated by the reknown François Place, Toby Alone has already been translated into 22 languages. The story is captivating, the characters engrossing and the whole book has been printed using vegetable inks and printed on recycled paper which is entirely appropriate given its theme.

Toby Lolness is on the run. His father has made a ground-breaking discovery, tapping into the very heart of the Tree’s energy, but he knows that to exploit it would be to put their civilization in serious danger. For refusing to reveal his secret, the family has been exiled, imprisoned and sentenced to death. It is up to Toby to save them.

The story of Toby Alone is a story for our times. A ruthless obsessed dictator manages to subvert an essentially good society, exploiting people’s fears, xenophobia and greed. This is climate change and globalisation shrunk to  the scale of a single, ancient tree. It put me in mind of  both the dystopian Stalinist vision of George Orwell’s Animal Farm as well as the moral and allegorical weight of  Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Le Petit Prince. In terms of the charm of its presentation, its pure Gallic flair banishes all before it.

Of course, for a child reading the book (it is aimed at nine to 12 year olds who are not afraid of a thick volume), you can forget the didactics. The focus is on the  adventure, the suspense, the pluck of Toby and Elisha and the dastardly deeds of Joe Mitch whose McMansions and housing estates are slowly poisoning The Tree.

The UK’s Guardian Newspaper gave a huge wrap to Toby Alone. The book is available now in hardback. Come August, it will be released in paperback at which time its sequel, Toby and the Secrets of the Tree will be out in hardback.

Don’t let the kids have all the fun. Toby is a delight from start to finish.

Steampunk shakes up Richard Harland’s world

9781741757095worldshakerWorldshaker is an enthralling new steampunk adventure for young adults from Wollongong author Richard Harland. It is set in an alternate history where Victorian Age steam technology was used to develop giant rolling fortresses known as Juggernauts that roll across the Earth, oblivious to the damage and destruction left in their wake.

Col Porpentine has had a privileged childhood in the Upper Decks of the English juggernaut Worldshaker and is destined to become its next Supreme Commander. But a chance encounter with a ‘filthy’, one of the derided working class from Below Decks, makes him question the entire system he has grown up in. As rumours of rebellion rise up from the engine rooms, Col is going to have to choose which side he is on.

Richard Harland has authored a number of other speculative fiction novels for children and adults and also teaches creative writing and English Literature. He has published a free online guide for writers of speculative fiction at Its all there – 145 pages of hints and how-to’s from good writing habits, the elements, characters, story, language and getting published. And Harland knows what he is talking about. Worldshaker has just been signed by Simon and Schuster in the US.

Worldshaker was published a couple of months ago but its official launch is very appropriately at Port Kembla steelworks in Wollongong on July 18. Richard Harland took the time to talk to Booktopia’s  SF & Fantasy editor, Richard Bilkey, about his new book  and share his thoughts on steampunk in general. Click here to listen.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,049 other followers

%d bloggers like this: