Pause: Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

To persons standing alone on a hill during a clear midnight such as this – the roll of the world eastward is almost a palpable movement. The sensation may be caused by the panoramic glide of the stars past earthly objects, which is perceptible in a few minutes of stillness; or by a fancy that the better outlook upon space afforded by a hill emphasizes terrestrial revolution; or by the wind; or by the solitude; but whatever be its origin the impression of riding along is vivid and abiding.

The poetry of motion is a phrase much in use, and to enjoy the epic form of that gratification it is necessary to stand on a hill at a small hour of the night, and, first enlarging the consciousness with a sense of difference from the mass of civilized mankind, who are horizontal and disregardful of all such proceedings at this time, long and quietly watch your stately progress through the stars.

After such a nocturnal reconnoitre among these astral clusters, aloft from the customary haunts of thought and vision, some men may feel raised to a capability for eternity at once.

Thomas Hardy – Far from the Madding Crowd.

The Case of the Pope by Geoffrey Robertson QC

THE CASE OF THE POPE delivers a devastating indictment of the way the Vatican has run a secret legal system that shields paedophile priests from criminal trial around the world.

Is the Pope morally or legally responsible for the negligence that has allowed so many terrible crimes to go unpunished? Should he and his seat of power, the Holy See, continue to enjoy an immunity that places them above the law?

Geoffrey Robertson QC, a distinguished human rights lawyer and judge, evinces a deep respect for the good works of Catholics and their church. But, he argues, unless Pope Benedict XVI can divest himself of the beguilements of statehood and devotion to obsolescent Canon Law, the Vatican will remain a serious enemy to the advance of human rights.

An Extract: Continue reading

A film of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

A story of love, friendship and memory.

In one of the most acclaimed and strange novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England.

Narrated by Kathy, now 31, Never Let Me Go hauntingly dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School, and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world.

A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.

Now a major movie starring Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.

An extract from Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro:

My name is Kathy H. I’m thirty-one years old, and I’ve been a carer now for over eleven years. That sounds long enough, I know, but actually they want me to go on for another eight months, until the end of this year. That’ll make it almost exactly twelve years. Now I know my being a carer so long isn’t necessarily because they think I’m fantastic at what I do. There are some really good carers who’ve been told to Continue reading

The Dead by Charlie Higson, follow up to the extremely popular zombie novel The Enemy

The Dead

A TERRIBLE DISEASE IS STRIKING EVERYONE OVER THE AGE OF FOURTEEN. DEATH WALKS THE STREETS. NOWHERE IS SAFE.

Maxie, Blue and the rest of the Holloway crew aren’t the only kids trying to escape the ferocious adults who prey on them.

Jack and Ed are best friends, but their battle to stay alive tests their friendship to the limit as they go on the run with a mismatched group of other kids – nerds, fighters, misfits. And one adult. Greg, a butcher, who claims he’s immune to the disease.

They must work together if they want to make it in this terrifying new world. But as a fresh disaster threatens to overwhelm London, they realize they won’t all survive. Read an extract here…

‘Higson has got the balance of blood and gore just Continue reading

Richard Hine, author of Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru Asks

Richard Hine

author of Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch

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 West London and grew up in North London, two stops from the end of the Piccadilly Line. I went to Catholic schools my whole life. My secondary school was all-boys. I left at the age of 16. Eventually I took and passed two A-levels through home study, then went to Watford College for a one-year course in Advertising Copywriting.

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

I always wanted to be a novelist. At 12 I wanted to be the next James Herbert because I had just read The Rats. At 18, I wanted to be the next Graham Greene because I was devouring his work at the time. At 30, I wanted to be the next Joseph Heller, because someone at Time Magazine in New York told me I was Continue reading

To The End Of The Land by David Grossman

I started reading To The End Of The Land by David Grossman on the weekend.

I feel a review coming on. This is the kinda book I’ve been looking for.

Solid. Got lots of words. Confident. Evocative.

I feel safe in his hands and will follow where he leads…

Of course, I may be wrong. I’ve only just begun. But what a beginning! Unusual, dark and profound.

It’s out in hardcover in the USA but we (I mean you…ha! I have my advance reading copy…) have to wait until 1st November 2010 for the Australian paperback. (Buy the US hardcover here.) Pre-order the paperback here. (As always, our cover is better)

I’ll let you know what I think of the book properly, when I’m done.

Here’s how the publisher sells it:

A masterpiece about an Israeli mother and son and the costs of war, and a profound contribution to the literature of modern life.

Ora is about to celebrate her son Ofer’s release from Israeli army service when he voluntarily rejoins his unit for a major offensive. In a fit of magical thinking, she takes off to hike in the Galilee, leaving no forwarding information for the ‘notifiers’ who might darken her door. This is comforting logic: if she cannot be told of Ofer’s death, he must remain alive.

Recently estranged from her husband Ilan, she drags along an unlikely companion: their once best friend Continue reading

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

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A huge novel that follows five families through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women.

It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family, is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and to two orphaned Russian brothers, whose plans to emigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution.

In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, Fall of Giants moves seamlessly from Washington to St Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty.

Author Information:

Ken Follett was twenty-seven when he wrote Eye of the Needle, an award-winning thriller that became an international bestseller. After writing several more successful thrillers he surprised everyone with The Pillars of the Earth, about the building of a cathedral in the Middle Ages, which continues to captivate millions of readers all over the world. His last book was the long-awaited sequel, World Without End.

Hugh Mackay, author of What Makes Us Tick?, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru Asks

Hugh Mackay

author of What Makes Us Tick?

Ten Terrifying Questions

—————————————-

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

Born in Sydney, classic nuclear family (two parents, two kids), grew up in the bushland of Castlecrag. Attended local public schools and Sydney Grammar School.

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

At 12, I had abandoned my childhood dream of becoming a bus driver, and had not a clue what I might do. At 18, I’d already been in the workforce for two years, and was heading uncertainly Continue reading

Daily Show and Jon Stewart Present: EARTH (The Book) – A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race

The eagerly awaited new book from the Emmy-winning, Oscar-hosting, Daily Show-anchoring Jon Stewart–the man behind the megaseller America (The Book).

Where do we come from? Who created us? Why are we here? These questions have puzzled us since the dawn of time, but when it became apparent to Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show that the world was about to end, they embarked on a massive mission to write a book that summed up the human race: What we looked like; what we accomplished; our achievements in society, government, religion, science and culture — all in a tome of approximately 256 pages with lots of color photos, graphs and charts.

They will take us on an intellectual journey through time – a quest back to the very moment of creation – that will maybe, just maybe help us figure out exactly how and why everything got so irretrievably f****ed up.

After two weeks of hard work, they had their book. EARTH (The Book) is the definitive guide to our species. With their trademark wit, irreverence, and intelligence, Stewart and his team will posthumously answer all of life’s most hard-hitting questions, completely unburdened by objectivity, journalistic integrity, or even accuracy.

From applications for genetic reconstitution by aliens to the meanings of anatomy, gender or nourishment, every aspect of life on this planet is reexplored, reexamined and made newly hilarious in this book.

The Romantic: Italian Nights and Days by Kate Holden, author of In My Skin

This is the spellbinding follow-up to Kate Holden’s memoir In My Skin, but it has a different story to tell. The Romantic describes Kate’s journey from Melbourne to Rome and Naples, from romance and sex to love, from loss to understanding—and back again.

This is a book about everything from sex with strangers to the heartbreaking realities of being in love. It’s about the pride of fierce independence and the crushing weight of loneliness. It’s about losing yourself in love and then finding yourself through your lover.

But most of all, The Romantic is the story of one woman’s pilgrimage to discover who she really is. And to learn to like what she finds.

From Kate’s website:

The Romantic: Italian Nights and Days is my second book and will be published in October this year. I’m thrilled and nervous about it coming out. It appears as a follow-up to In My Skin in the sense that it is another memoir, and delves further into the time I spent in Italy which was described briefly at the end of In My Skin. It turned out that there was another whole book to be written about that experience, and, though it’s quite different in many ways to the first, I am proud of this second book and hope it will be enjoyed by readers of my first, and new people as well.

It is the story of a young woman, recovering from some difficult and challenging times in Melbourne, who goes to Rome in search of four things: Rome, the Romantic poets, romance and herself. She finds all of these, but in ways she doesn’t expect, and a series of relationships that both give her a great deal, and take a lot. It’s a book which tries to get into the heart of a paradox: how do you become true to yourself when you are lost? How do you find yourself when you are trying to hide?

I hope it is a book that will move and intrigue readers, that female readers will be able to find themselves in, and men will take something from.

From an article by Jane Sullivan in The Sydney Morning Herald:

Acclaimed author and former heroin-addicted prostitute Kate Holden has written a different kind of sex memoir.

KATE Holden shifts uneasily on her bar stool. “It’s not a sex book,” she says of her new memoir, The Romantic.

“It just has lots of sexy bits.” No surprises there from the author of the acclaimed bestseller In My Skin, her true story of how a nice bookish University of Melbourne graduate descended into heroin addiction and prostitution in St Kilda.

In her new book she’s clean, off the game, heading to Rome on a pilgrimage in the company of her beloved Romantic poets and the works of Goethe and Casanova, keen to cross from selling sex to making love.

If you’re after raunch, you’ll find it. Look! Kate Does Threesomes! With two men, and again with a man and a woman! Kate dents a car bonnet with her bottom Doing It in the street! Kate Does Things with two dildos — one black, one pink!

She’s not abashed to write about sex: having already exposed her sexual life, she doesn’t have a problem with people discussing it. “But I don’t want to become ‘the sex girl’. I’m not better or worse at it than anyone else, but I’m fascinated by the way sex works as a phenomenon, I’m using it to interrogate relationships. More…

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