Maisy and Lucy Cousins

Lucy Cousins is one of today´s most acclaimed author-illustrators of children´s books. Her unique titles fascinate babies, toddlers, and preschoolers with their child-like simplicity, bold outlines, and vivid colors. The engaging adventures of characters such as Maisy reflect the familiar experiences that young children have every day.  Maisy does things that children all over the world do, Lucy Cousins says of her superstar mouse.  The way she dresses, the way she acts, are typical of children all over the world.

Where does the prolific Lucy Cousins, a mother of four children, find the energy? I’m quite disciplined, she says of her productivity. If I’m having an ‘ideas’ day, I just sit at my desk and draw and write until I feel something is happening-though I admit that this is usually helped by a cup of tea, some lively music, and an abundance of sunshine. As for outside inspiration, she says she’s sometimes influenced by the work of other artists, as long as those artists are children. Says the author-illustrator, I get more pleasure and inspiration from walking around a primary school than from any art gallery.

While the character Maisy was born before any of her four children, Lucy Cousins says there is no doubt she can  create better books and stories now that I have the insight into children’s minds that all parents have. It’s like having a market research team in my own home! During the creation of the My Cloth Books, for example, her daughter, Josie, who was seven months old, proved a helpful critic: Josie looked at them and chewed them and did all the right things, the proud mother says. Lucy Cousins works from home in Hampshire, England.

Thanks to Maisy’s Fun Club for this piece.

A new Jean Auel! – The Land of Painted Caves

At last, the wait is over.

Jean M. Auel’s sixth and final book in the prolific Earth’s Children series, is to be published worldwide on March 29, 2011.

Jean M. Auel, whose novels about prehistoric life have won acclaim for their inspired storytelling, meticulous attention to detail and historic accuracy, has written the highly anticipated sixth and final book in the mega-bestselling Earth’s Children series.

The Land of Painted Caves will be simultaneously published worldwide, including the UK, Australia, the USA, Italy, Sweden, Germany, France, Holland, Spain, Serbia, Croatia, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Japan.

Auel’s Earth’s Children is one of the most popular and celebrated series in publishing history, with worldwide sales of more than 45 million copies, including nearly 22 million copies in the US alone. The series has consistently made publishing history, beginning with the groundbreaking first novel, The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980), and continuing with The Valley of Horses (1982), The Mammoth Hunters (1985), which was the first hardcover to achieve a first printing of more than a million copies,  The Plains of Passage (1990)  and The Shelters of Stone (2002), which debuted at Number 1 on sixteen international bestsellers lists including Australia, where it stayed in the bestseller lists for 20 weeks.

The Land of Painted Caves continues the story of Ayla, her mate Jondalar, and their little daughter, Jonayla, taking readers on a journey of discovery and adventure as Ayla struggles to find a balance between her duties as a new mother and her training to become a Zelandoni – one of the Ninth Cave community’s spiritual leaders and healers.

Once again, Jean Auel combines her brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable re-creation of the way life was lived thousands of years ago, rendering the terrain, dwelling places, longings, beliefs, creativity and daily lives of Ice Age Europeans as real to the reader as today’s news.

Jean Auel’s UK editor, Sue Fletcher, said: ‘The worldwide publication of Shelters of Stone in 2002 was one of the highlights of my publishing career. It is just thrilling to start planning for what is bound to be an equally mould-breaking international publishing event with such a marvellous author, who has a unique ability to transport her readers to other worlds. ’

The Land of Painted Caves is available for pre-order now, for delivery after March 29, 2011.

And, just as a further enticement to pre-order through Booktopia, we will have five Earth’s Children collections (volumes 1 – 5)  to give away to people who place their order before the release day of March 29.  Send your order number to and answer the question “If you were the first person in the world to actually speak, what would be your first sentence?”

Jean Auel, author of The Clan of the Cave Bear and the upcoming The Land of Painted Caves, answers Ten Terrifying Questions


I Came to Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington

What is the collective term for a group of booksellers? A fatigue of booksellers? A cynic of booksellers? A babble of booksellers? Whatever it is, it does take a lot to shift us from our collective ennui and back into that passion for character, plot and ideas which is, if you dig deep enough, the reason that most of the us are in the game in the first place.

I was at a function recently where there was a babble of booksellers, and they were all babbling about one book. And it wasn’t the one we were there ostensibly to spruik (which shall remain nameless at this present moment). In fact, the book that was the talk of the evening was Caroline Overington’s upcoming I Came to Say Goodbye.

I had resisted the book up until that time. The proof copy has been sitting on my shelf for months. It was covered with too many epithets for my liking – too many “compellings”, “memorables”, “addictives” and “brilliants” . What I had heard was that this story is an Australian, credible addition to the Jodi Picoult school of story writing. In fact, I had heard that Overington had out Picoulted Jodi herself.

Caroline Overington is a columnist for The Australian. She has picked up a couple of Walkley Awards and has written two non-fiction books, Only in New York, and Kickback, which is about the UN oil-for-food scandal in Iraq. Last year she wrote her first novel, a book called Ghost Child. There was a bit of noise around about it – a confident start etc etc. Her second novel, I Came to Say Goodbye, will be released on October 1.

I Came to Say Goodbye is going to place Overington firmly in the sight lines of general fiction readers. It will probably appeal to woman more than men, although it certainly isn’t a classic women’s read. There is a lot to get your teeth into with this one, a lot to discuss, a lot you will want to workshop with others. I am not going to give out any spoilers on this one. Most of the book is narrated by Med Atley, a knock about bloke in his late 60s who lives in Foster on the NSW coast. Med’s wife Pat disappeared in the 70s once she had discovered feminism, and Med ended up bringing up their much younger third child, Donna Faye (known affectionately as Fat) on his own. Fat was an unusual child, and then matured into an unusual woman. As for themes, suffice to say Overington starts with shaken baby syndrome and then covers a huge amount of territory including the family court, rights of children and family members, mental illness, demographics, adoption, immigration, aspirational life style, inter-generational change, child rearing and parenting, drugs, the nanny state, race relations. You name a personal  issue that is on the worry list of contemporary Australians and Overington has somehow woven it into her story.

Despite a bit of a slow start, Overington draws these disparate elements together in a seemingly effortless way, all the while keeping plenty up her sleeve so that the reader is guessing all the way to the end. I get the impression that she must have spent a lot of time in a court room watching the ebb and flow of human endeavour and here she is now putting all those really tricky questions into one very readable story.

For the record, I left the booksellers’ event and dragged out my proof copy. It was an all night read. And while I am not so sure I would say “brilliant”, it certainly was “compelling”, “memorable” and “addictive”. And I can’t get some of those characters out of my mind.

Available from October 1.

Life by Keith Richards (with an excerpt)

Click Pic to Place Pre-Order

“People say ‘why don’t you give it up?’ I don’t think they quite understand. I’m not doing it just for the money, or for you. I’m doing it for me.” — Keith Richards

From the US publisher of LIFE:

Dear friends,

The opportunity to publish an autobiography as enthralling as that of Keith Richards comes once in a lifetime—if you’re lucky! And lucky is what I’m feeling as I finish reading LIFE, the most exciting memoir I’ve ever had a hand in. Not only does it recount the essential rock ’n’ roll life—that would be plenty. It captures much more: Blasting past the constraints of postwar England; a passionate appetite for music, especially America’s heartfelt blues, R&B, country, and soul; how it felt to arrive in America with The Rolling Stones as torrents of change were unleashed. All those encounters and adventures we’ve heard of for decades—Redlands, Morocco, exile in France, Altamont—and the people—Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Gram Parsons, Patti Hansen, Johnny Depp and more – are here in Keith’s own vivid memories.

The best news of all is how superbly written this book is. Working with James Fox (I hope you know his excellent White Mischief ), Keith Richards has created his story in a voice as intimate and unmistakable as if he were sitting across from you talking. And the man sitting there is experienced,opinionated, witty, learned, and utterly Continue reading

A Belated Happy Birthday to P.D. James!

P.D. James recently turned ninety!

Asked whether there would be another Dalgliesh novel, PD James answered, ‘I’m not sure yet. Life has been so busy I have only done 10,000 words in six months. I don’t want the standard to drop and I don’t want a reviewer to be saying: “It’s a remarkable book, for a 91 year-old.” And I don’t want them to say: “It’s not vintage PD James.” If I’m not doing it as well as I have done it in the past, then there is no point in my doing it at all.’

To celebrate P.D. James’ ninetieth birthday we’re selling four of her best loved titles for $7.95 each – that’s a saving of 60%!

Retail Price of Each: $19.95

Booktopia Price of Each: $7.95 SAVE 60%

To browse all titles by P.D. James – click here.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

It has taken Franzen nine years to complete Freedom, the follow-up to his 2001 bestselling novel The Corrections, and the wait seems worth it. The novelist just made the cover of Time magazine, the first living author to enjoy that distinction since Stephen King a decade ago. And the positive reviews are beginning to pour in all of which point to it being that rarest of things: an ambitious literary novel and a bestseller.

When I say positive, I mean positive. The Guardian is claiming it as “the novel of the century” with a wrap that starts a formidable and harrowing work, Jonathan Franzen’s new book is on a different plane from other contemporary fiction.

That is some claim. I am a little more tempered but it certainly is a great novel. While the structure at times seemed awkward,  Franzen’s ability to create fully-realized, three-dimensional characters and, more so, to inhabit their minds with such penetrating psychological acuity, is seemingly limitless. Sam Anderson says much the same in his article for New York magazine. We have excerpts from that review and others here.

Fourteen years ago, Franzen declared that sweeping socially engaged novels by serious writers had lost their appeal. He then went on to write one, and to sell more than 1.5 million copies of it. A decade later he is attempting to prove himself wrong a second time.

Freedom is a multi-generational epic that follows an idealistic young couple who settle in the rough neighbourhood of St Paul, Minnesota. A very powerful insight into the disillusion of marriage and a story about the challenges, burdens and opportunities of personal freedom, the novel is full of the more generous ironies that endeared The Corrections to readers and literary reviewers alike. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom’s intensely realised characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.

Click here for more details or to buy Freedom
Delivery after September 1

Catherine Harris, author of Like Being a Wife, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru Asks

Catherine Harris

author of

Like Being a Wife

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Sydney, formally educated in Melbourne, hair-raised but far from cultivated.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At 12 I wanted to be 18 (no more worrying about pesky fake IDs), at 18 I wanted to be left Continue reading


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