Prodigal Father, Pagan Son Growing up Inside the Dangerous World of the Pagans Motorcycle Club by Anthony Menginie and Kerrie Droban

A shocking true story of one man’s escape from a biker gang – by the son of a notorious gang leader.

To the reader: I am 31 years old. I was born the son of the Philadelphia Pagans’ most notorious leader. I’ve been around some of the most hardcore Pagans; Mongo, Conan, S &S, Malicious, Cheese, Terrible Tony and Dominic. The following events happened. This is not fiction. However, some of the names and locations have been changed in the interest of privacy. I was born into madness. This is my story.

A gritty memoir about the author’s journey through hell … and his ultimate escape from it. By the time he was thirteen, he already had attended thirteen funerals.

Abandoned by his mother, and with his father, ‘Mangy’ Menginie-president of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, Philadelphia chapter-in jail, Anthony ‘LT’ Menginie is raised inside the Pagans and inducted into a life of sex, violence, drugs, and organized crime.

In Mangy’s absence, LT finds a father figure in the Saint, a club member who helps teach him the difference between the club members you respect…and those you fear. The author recounts the power struggles that occur when Mangy is released from jail and tries to resume his role as father and president. Soon all hell breaks loose when Mangy betrays the club by going over to the rival Hells Angels, helping to touch off the ‘Biker Wars’ in Philadelphia. The chapter’s new president grooms LT to one day confront his father for his treachery. Faced with an impossible decision, LT has to decide where his loyalties lie.

Prodigal Father, Pagan Son is a voyeuristic glimpse into the shocking and hypnotic underworld of notorious ‘one-percenter’ biker clubs, hit men, drug dealers, and the other individuals who operate under no other rules than the ‘club code.’ But more than this, Menginie’s story is the gritty and powerful true tale of surviving amid personal trials and tragedies, and of one man’s determination to escape to a better life.

Order your copy from Booktopia Australia’s Largest online book shop : click here

Praise
‘This is a one-of-a-kind true tale of being born into madness . . . and of rising above it.’
- Robert K. Tanenbaum, New York Timesbestselling author of Betrayed and Capture.

‘Prodigal Father, Pagan Son delves into the secret underworld of ‘one-percenter’ clubs and delivers a candid and fascinating look at one man’s search for brotherhood amid a life of dysfunction and abuse.’ -Jack Ballentine, author of Murder for Hire: My Life as the Country’s Most Successful Undercover Agent.

About The Author

Anthony ‘LT’ Menginie is the son of Anthony ‘Mangy’ Menginie, former Philadelphia chapter president of the Pagans Motorcycle Club.

Kerrie Droban coauthored the capital brief, State v. Ring which was heard before the United States Supreme Court and resulted in the remand of over 180 death row cases nationwide. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars.

Find an extract of this book here

Kylie Ladd, author of Last Summer, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Kylie Ladd

author of Last Summer and After the Fall

Six Sharp Questions

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1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

Last Summer is about what happens to a close group of friends when the man at their centre, Rory Buchanan, dies unexpectedly… it’s about loss and grief and desire and, uh, cricket. As I was writing it, it also occurred to me that Last Summer is about mid-life, about coming to terms with who you are and the choices you’ve made, though I do fear that describing it as a book about middle-aged cricketers is going to have readers expecting Warwick Todd’s Ashes diary.

If so, I’m afraid they’ll be disappointed. Last Summer is dedicated to Geoff Williams, one of my husband’s closest mates, who died unexpectedly at the age of only 39. The novel is a work of fiction- as far as I know, none of the Continue reading

ROME by Robert Hughes (Still waiting on my review copy… taps foot)

Rome is irrepressible. It is a city of ruins and yet it is always new. It has been beaten, sacked, bombed and occupied but wakes noisy and smiling every morning. In Rome’s streets we find humanity at its most vital, beautiful, dangerous, sweet and thoughtful.

It is no great wonder so many visitors fall in love with Rome. It’s no wonder that so many have tried to understand the city. Now prize-winning writer and critic Robert Hughes unravels some of the mystery with dazzling biography of the Eternal City.

The overarching achievement of this vibrant, opinionated, detailed new look at the Eternal City is that it forces the reader to look at Rome with new eyes.

The approach is chronological, the method to take a  mass of historical detail and shape it into a cohesive, narrative, sweeping from on event, movement, influence or person to another, leaving us with so much information and rekindled curiosity that many will want to visit, or re-visit, Rome a the first opportunity.

Who should read it? Anyone with any feeling for this magnificent city!

(Australian Bookseller and Publisher. 5 Star review)

From the publisher:

Robert Hughes, one of the most celebrated art critics and cultural commentators turns his attention to the timelessly fascinating city of Rome.

In this magisterial history, Robert Hughes identifies seven distinct cultural episodes: the city’s Etruscan beginnings, Julius Caesar and the birth of the Imperium, primitive Christianity and the growth of the Church, the Renaissance, the Baroque and the Neo-Classic, the Rome of Fascism and Mussolini and, finally, the Rome of the 1960s – the era of Fellini, la dolce vita and the birth of the paparazzo.

The founding of Rome is shrouded in legend, but current archaeological evidence supports the theory that Rome grew from pastoral settlements and coalesced into a city in the 8th century BC. It developed into the capital of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and finally the Roman Empire. For almost a thousand years, Rome was the most politically important, richest and largest city in the Western world.

About The Author

Robert Hughes was born in Australia in 1938. Since 1970 he has lived and worked in the United States, where until 2001 he was chief art critic for Time, to which he still contributes. His books include The Shock of the New,and The Fatal Shore. He is the recipient of a number of awards and prizes for his work.

Sarah-Kate Lynch, author of Dolci di Love, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Sarah-Kate Lynch

author Dolci di Love and more

Ten Terrifying Questions

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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 the tiny Central Otago town of Alexandra in New Zealand and raised all over the place but wherever I went I was schooled by nuns. When my high school teacher Sister Eulalia died, I did somersaults down the aisle of the St Mary’s Chapel. If I could have down cartwheels and rung a couple of ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead bells, I would have done that too. Although I would do things differently now, of course, because I’m all grown up and know that the nuns weren’t evil they just had itchy scalps from wearing all that headgear. I had an itchy scalp myself recently and it all became very clear to me. I worked in Sydney and London and all around New Zealand, and am now based on the wild west coast north of Auckland. Luckily for me, my novel research and my day job as Travel Editor of a weekly magazine mean that I get to spend a lot of time travelling the world. I’m particularly in love with the US at the moment as I’ve just worked out that speaking the same language means you get all the jokes.

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

When I was 12 I wanted to be a vet because I was good at science and mad about horses plus heavily influenced by All Creatures Great and Small…the TV series based on the James Herriot books.

When I was 18 I wanted to be a journalist because we dissected a rabbit at school and I nearly passed out I was so disgusted. It had not occurred to me that vets dealt with the insides of animals until that point. My school subjects were maths, physics, chemistry, biology and english, which led me away from vet studies and towards journalism.

At 30 I was working for a magazine in London and loving it but my husband-to-be was struggling to find work so we had to head back Down Under and I was less than impressed with just about everything but soon found my feet as editor of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I thought my then-boyfriend, who was my first, would love me forever but actually he didn’t even love me till my 19th birthday. I also thought, at 18, that this was the end of the world, but happily that turned out not to be true either.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Well, I suppose you could say that All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot influenced my development as a writer because it steered me in the direction of being a vet and left me no other option when that failed to fire.

Regarding music, when the boyfriend above dumped me, by phone, and left me heartbroken, I used to play Chuck E’s in Love by Ricky Lee Jones over and over and over on the record player. Yes, record player. This didn’t develop my writing, in particular, but it did feed my heartbreak and I have come to realise over the years that being overly sensitive is a real gift to a writer because it allows you to plummet the depths of your despair, and everyone else’s, and imagine all the ways your life will end or never be the same and how you’ll take them with you, or at least wreak your revenge, or orchestrate a tearful reunion, or wait while they beg for forgiveness then shoot them. In other words, a sensitive soul feeds the imagination so bring it on, Ricky Lee.

Finally, I remember reading the book, Watermelon, by Marian Keyes before she was a number one bestseller and thinking it was something different to what else was already out there. I felt that I had made a friend rather than read a book, and that the friend I had made was someone very much like me. It occurred to me then that writing books that gave readers that feeling was a real skill, and I started to explore whether I had it or not. I subsequently met Marian Keyes and she was a complete and utter delight: exactly as I had imagined. And if I lived near her and it wasn’t considered stalking, I would be her friend.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I wrote a lot of dreamy short stories as a child, but working in journalism you are gravely discouraged from making things up so I got out of the habit of it. However, I was made redundant from two different magazine jobs then fired from another one in radio and I found myself ever so slightly without employment which was annoying in some ways, but extraordinarily freeing in others. I decided then I would take the time off (although strictly speaking it had already been given to me) to write my first novel, Finding Tom Connor, and I’ve not worried about facts ever since.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Dolci di Love is the story Lily Turner, a busy executive with no children of her own who discovers her perfect husband is keeping a secret family in Tuscany, although when she goes there to find him she instead gets caught up in a web of interfering old widows who are bungling their biscotti baking business as much as their behind-the-scenes matchmaking.

(BBGuru: Publisher synopsis – Nothing tastes sweeter than a second chance

The Tuscan town of Montevedova is famous for its rolling green hills, long lazy lunches and delectable cantucci biscuits. It even has its own patron saint. But Manhattan workaholic Lily Turner is not interested in any of that. She’s only there to find her cheating husband. What Lily doesn’t know, however, is that beneath the cobbled lanes of this charming hilltop village, an underground network of ancient widows is working tirelessly on finding her a happy ending – whether she wants it or not.

Suddenly everything she loved about her old life goes up in a puff of smoke – just like the cantucci the widows are getting too old to make. Then a mischievous six-year-old girl, full of the joys of baking, skips into Lily’s world – igniting the demons of her past … and the promise of the future.)

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

That there are two sides to every story, that forgiveness is always an option, and that families come in all shapes and size. Oh, and that Tuscany is the jaw-dropping gem in the crown of Italy and you should go there immediately, or at least bring out all the photos from that trip you took there all those years ago and do a spot of top shelf reminiscing…

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Honestly, I admire all writers. It’s not an easy job, although as your own boss it has its advantages, but for the most part a writer spends a year on his or her own sitting in front of a computer working diligently on a massive project that they don’t really know if anyone else will like. This takes courage, and sometimes a lot of gin, not necessarily in that order although that order is definitely more likely to be productive.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I just want to keep writing novels. Sometimes that seems outrageously ambitious. Sometimes hardly ambitious at all. It depends on the gin/courage levels.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write. It’s very easy to talk about writing a novel and it’s even pretty easy to start writing a novel, and actually quite manageable to get half way through writing a novel, but finishing it and having it make sense – and not just to you – is really where the skill lies and that involves sitting on your own in front of a computer working diligently etc. It’s not very romantic but I can never stress enough the importance of a bum on a seat.

Sarah-Kate, thank you for playing.

Follow Sarah-Kate on Twitter here

The Book Of Rachael by Leslie Cannold. A Review by Kylie Ladd.

Have you found Jesus? The publishing industry certainly has, and they’re not letting him go. Why would they, when he’s responsible for so many sales? There’s that perennial best-seller, the Holy Bible, for a start, for which Jesus can take at least half the credit. There’s the multitudinous scholarly texts and mediations on his legacy; there’s all those prayer books and hymnals that have been churned out since medieval times. And then, more recently, there is the fiction. I sometimes wonder if we have CS Lewis to blame for this, if he set the ball rolling with “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” an allegory of Christ’s crucifixion, with Aslan the majestic lion sacrificing himself for Edmund the sinner. In the past fifty years there have been a slew of novels reimagining the life of the carpenter’s son from Galilee who claimed he was the son of God… “The Last Temptation of Christ”, the banned Kazantzakis novel which became the banned Martin Scorsese film;  “The Passion” the movie about a man preaching poverty which made Mel Gibson a billionaire; “King Jesus”, by Robert Graves, bestselling author of “I, Claudius”; my personal favourite, Norman Mailer’s predictably earthy and libidinous Christ in “The Gospel According to the Son”; and then, in the last twenty-four months alone, an unholy trinity- “Christ The Lord” by vampire doyenne Anne Rice, “ The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ,” by the award-winning and much loved Phillip Pullman, and “The Final Testament of the Holy Bible” by James Frey, who likes to make up stuff.

All of which is why I found Leslie Cannold’s first novel, The Book of Rachael, so refreshing. Cannold approaches the time-worn tale of the life and death of Jesus Christ from a new and intriguing perspective- that of Jesus’s sister, Rachael, who falls in love with his best friend and eventual betrayer, Judas Iscariot. As she notes in a post-script to the book, Cannold was inspired to imagine Rachael’s life after watching a BBC documentary where the names, fates and even burial places of Jesus’s brothers were itemized, but- as the narrator casually announced- nothing had been recorded concerning his sisters. That those sisters existed is confirmed by the bible in the gospel of Mark, yet the status of women at that time was far too lowly for any further details of their life to have been set down. The challenge to ethicist and social activist Cannold must have been irresistible. In The Book of Rachael she sets out to correct the balance.

It’s an intriguing premise, and one on which Cannold delivers. Rachael is a fiery, rebellious but hugely likeable character. A natural mimic, she learns to write the alphabet (an activity forbidden to females) after only one lesson; she apprentices herself to the blind crone, Bindy, and becomes a skilled midwife and healer. Even more intriguing however, at least for this reader, is what Cannold does with the story of Jesus. Cannold’s Jesus (here called Joshua) is the seed of an illegitimate rather than immaculate conception; a good- but very human- man, one who serves his father and his Lord, but also falls in love and commits the sin of premarital sex. When his pregnant lover, Maryam of Magdalene, is taken away in shame by her father Joshua immediately leaves their town of Nazareth and searches for her throughout Galilee, along the way cursing the priests and the law-makers who would have her stoned for sinning. He quickly accumulates a following of outcasts and disciples, who travel with him to Jerusalem, where Maryam is eventually found.

The Joshua of the early sections of the book is clear-headed and compassionate, a reasoned and rational philosopher respected by both Judas (here named Judah) and Rachael. As the novel nears its climax, however, his thinking becomes more and more deluded, then dangerous, until Judah is left with what he sees as only one course of action to prevent them all from being killed. That the reader feels, in the end, more sympathy for Judah than for Joshua is not the only unorthodox twist in the tale. An avowed atheist, Cannold cleverly plays with many of the central events of the gospels- the raising of Lazarus, the over-turning of the moneylenders in the temple, the triumphant entry into Jerusalem- reimagining them from a secular point of view. (Spoiler alert) Tellingly, though the crucifixion scene is almost unbearably moving, there is no resurrection. Many of Cannold’s characters may recognise Joshua as the messiah, but she herself does not- a dichotomy which keeps the book absorbing and engaging to the end.

As, too, does the character of Rachael, who we first meet aged five and leave in her thirties. Though Joshua and Judah both weaken and waver at times as the story unfolds, Rachael does not. She remains constant- headstrong, compassionate, both cursed and saved by her fierce intelligence. Cannold has clearly researched the era thoroughly, and brings it vividly to life: the sights, the smells, the stranglehold of both the Romans and the law. In subject matter and setting, The Book of Rachael reminded me strongly of Anita Diamant’s bestseller The Red Tent; in tone I found it reminiscent of Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders. Despite this, it is truly original; a unique and appealing take on one of the oldest stories in the book.

Kylie Ladd’s excellent new novel, Last Summer, is available from Booktopia – click here. (Click here to read my review of Last Summer)

This review first appeared on mamamia.com.au

Amazing Face by Zoe Foster (or why we are selling squillions of these…)

Amazing Face

Clever beauty tricks, should-own products + spectacularly useful how-to-do-its

Author: Zoe Foster

(Buy it now) < stupid link didn’t work – it now works :)

Free Excerpt:

Introduction

I learned how to apply makeup from a girl in the toilets.

She was an exquisite, popular, sophisticated* (*It’s all relative) year nine girl (I was a year eight weed and the girls in the year above were deities for reasons I can only put down to ‘having pashed boys already’), and it was bewitching watching her do her face in the school toilets.

Sadly, my facsimile did not eventuate in the flawless masterpiece I’d hoped, although with several layers of Mum’s salmon Helena Rubenstein powder, blush loaded onto cheekbones that didn’t yet exist and more eyeliner than is Continue reading

Peter Salmon, author of The Coffee Story, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Peter Salmon

author of The Coffee Story

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, absurdly, in Southampton – I say absurdly because my parents emigrated to Australia when I was four, so I see myself as absolutely Australian. Which is undermined slightly by my moving to England in 2006 – so I’ve racked up thirty-one years in Australia and nine in England. Hope I still get to be called Australian. I was raised in the thriving metropolises of Boronia and Kilsyth in the (then) outer reaches of Melbourne’s suburban sprawl. As for Continue reading

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