Deck the halls: Booktopia Buzz for December is up!

Booktopia Buzz Sept 2010

What a cracker of an edition I have for you for December. How is this for a line-up?

Gifts, give-aways and goodies to win include: Continue reading

Booktopia’s great Facebook Christmas giveaway

You know how we love give-aways and promotions at Booktopia? Well, this time we are really playing Santa.

Five weeks, five prizes to be won, each prize being the winner’s choice of books with an RRP of $100.

Want to be in the running? All you have to do is click on the either of the images and follow the prompts.

Too easy!

My top books for 2011 by Toni Whitmont

For a person who spends at least 50% of her working hours meeting with publishers about up coming books, I spend a lot of time talking about the next big thing.

Want to know what the run away hit single is going to be for next March? I’m your person. Unless of course it’s not because, well,  readers are a fickle lot, and that’s before the media juggernaut rolls into town and changes everyone’s minds about what they want and what they don’t want.

Right now a heart beat away from Christmas, you may be making yours lists and checking them twice, but I am being sold in books for Valentine’s Day, and, heaven help me, key titles for Mother’s Day 2012.

This is not a job where you can live in the moment. But there are some advantages of being so focused on where the action might be. I can justify ignoring all the big, bossy, Christmas books that quite frankly are going to be taken up in droves whether I get behind them or not. Readers don’t need me to convince them to try Matthew Reilly’s Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves or Di Morrissey’s The Opal Desert. If that is your sort of book, you are going to find it anyway just by driving Continue reading

NOW AVAILABLE: MasterChef Australia: The Cookbook – Volume 3

Buy MasterChef Australia The Cookbook Series 3 from Booktopia and if you act quickly you could receive a special MasterChef timer.


This will be the years biggest selling book so get in quickly and secure this cool memento of MasterChef 2011.

MasterChef Australia: The Cookbook – Volume 3

MasterChef has ignited the tastebuds of the nation. The new book gets behind the scenes of the show with your favourite contestants, and back to basics with ingredients and cooking techniques.

Organised in a week-by-week format, the new look cookbook allows you to take a trip back through the highs and lows of series 3 and flex your own culinary muscle with hundreds of fabulous MasterChef recipes from your favourite celebrity chefs and contestants.

Join Hayden, Michael, Dani, Sun, Billy and the rest of our jolly band of culinary heroes on their action-packed adventure from a farmer’s field in country Victoria to the farther-flung pastures of Central Park, New York City.

It’s one treat after another as you turn the pages of this tantalising cookbook – let “Dessert Queen” Billy show you how to create the perfect Swiss Roll or follow the gospel according to Hayden in the production of the perfect moules and frites. Let Kumar guide you through the essentials of a Sri Lankan curry and hold Mum Kate’s hand as she shows you the way of her elimination-evading apple pie and custard. Yum! If that’s not enough let the experts show you how: indulge in Nigella’s Red Velvet Cupcakes and George’s Mum’s authentic koupes, hummus and tzatziki.

Click here to order your copy of MasterChef Australia: The Cookbook – Volume 3 from Booktopia, Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop


H. J. (Holly) Harper : Five Fiction Favourites for 2011

H. J. (Holly) Harper

author of the Star League series


The 5 best novels I read this year are…

The Fear

By Charlie Higson

Holly Harper: The third in Charlie Higson’s The Enemy series, this is the zombie apocalypse at its best. A huge cast of characters means you never know who’s safe and who isn’t.

The Blurb:


The sickness struck everyone over the age of fourteen.

Mothers and fathers, older brothers, sisters and best friends. No one escaped its touch. And now children across London are being hunted by ferocious grown-ups . . . Continue reading

The Freudian Slip by Marion von Alderstein

Reading The Freudian Slip has confirmed what I have long suspected. I was definitely born in the wrong time. There is a wonderful sense of authenticity about this engaging debut novel, most likely because Marion von Adlerstein is the real deal. She is not merely paying homage to a bygone era but drawing on personal experience to evoke a real sense of time and place. In this instance, the time is 1963, the place is Sydney and the result is a charming Chick Lit romp with a retro twist. This is the kind of addictive summer read that will no doubt provide many a nostalgic pang to those lucky enough to have experienced Sydney in the 1960s. For those who only wish they were that lucky, The Freudian Slip is even better than an episode of Mad Men.

Given the premise of Marion Von Adlerstein’s debut novel, comparisons to Mad Men are inevitable. Set in an advertising agency during the “swinging sixties” the plot is rife with backstabbing office politics and extra-marital bed hopping. That being said, if you happen to be one of those rare and incomprehensible people who does not enjoy Mad Men, do not be discouraged. The Freudian Slip is essentially a timeless tale about three women from very different backgrounds, each one trying to decide want she wants out of life and how best to go about getting it.


Our rollcall of leading ladies begins with Bea. Effortlessly chic and radiating raw talent, Bea is a successful copywriter in her early thirties struggling to move on after a failed marriage – not that anyone would ever guess. Bea is an expert at keeping the details of her private life secret.

Next up we have Desiree Whittleford AKA “Desi”. A statuesque blonde heiress hailing from the Eastern suburbs, Desi’s private life has an alarming tendency to end up splashed all over the front page of the newspaper. Engaged to one of Sydney’s most eligible bachelors, Desi keeps forgetting to wear her engagement ring and can’t quite figure out why the thought of getting married has her feeling so glum.

Stella is the classic “wannabe”. She’s bound and determined to transform herself from a dowdy secretary into a successful career woman. Described by an astute colleague as being, “all show and no content”, Stella knows what she wants and she’s not about to let pesky concepts such as “ethics” or “integrity” stand in her way. Unfortunately, she is missing the two most important qualities needed to achieve her goals, namely talent and common sense. Almost wholly lacking any kind of creative instinct, Stella had a habit of “reappropriating” the ideas of her co-workers and passing them of as her own. One such idea is a racy advertising campaign for the eponymous “Freudian Slip” – a line of ladies lingerie that is set to take Sydney by storm in a rather unexpected fashion.

Readers will find the plot of The Freudian Slip evenly paced, the dialogue clever and the characters engaging. However, the real star of the show here is Sydney circa 1963. Being a person with a tendency to squeal in delight over rotary dial telephones, shag pile carpet, vinyl records and other such trapping of the time period, I found myself very much enamoured of the 1960’s setting. With a deft hand and a flawless eye for detail, Marion Von Adlerstein takes us back to a version of Sydney in which Bennelong Point boasts an ugly construction site in place of an Opera House, where Paddington is described as a “seedy” area and King’s Cross is considered “bohemian”. This is an era in which the average woman accepted her place in the kitchen and men were permitted – nay expected! – to knock back hard liquor in the office and take three hour lunch breaks at fancy restaurants. In short, it is the perfect stage for a story about enterprising young women, full of old fashioned moxie, to prove once and for all that they are just as capable of selling breakfast cereal and hair dye as the menfolk.

At the end of the day, once you finish The Freudian Slip you’ll most likely be asking yourself the same question that has been niggling at me since I flipped the last page. Where is my time machine?

Guest reviewer, Booktopia’s Sarah McDuling.

Editor’s note:

I can’t give you a time machine, but I can point you to Marion reminiscing about hers.


Can’t get enough of Marion? Here she is again with our Ten Terrifying Questions.

Order the book through Booktopia here.

A Twitter Year: 365 Days in 140 Characters compiled by Kate Bussmann

The first of its kind, A Twitter Year distills a year of conversation, argument, revelation and revolution into a ‘review of the year’ as written by the Twitter community.

Where can you find first-hand accounts of the Arab Spring, Japan’s nuclear disaster or the Norwegian atrocities? Thousands flouting celebrity superinjunctions? X-rated snaps of politicians? A babysitter mistaken for a cricket match? The answer, of course: on Twitter.

The first of its kind, A Twitter Year distills a year of conversation, argument, revelation and revolution into a ‘review of the year’ as written by the Twitter community. With profiles of top users and fascinating stats, it captures the biggest events in current affairs, culture and sport – from the death of Osama bin Laden to the demise of the News of the World, the panic at the London Riots to the excitement of the Royal Wedding.

In the year the social network celebrates its 5th birthday, Twitter continues to grow at an incredible rate. There are now over 200 million accounts across the world, including Lady Gaga, the British monarchy, Lord Voldemort and a lot of pets. A Twitter Year gathers some of the funniest and sharpest tweets to bring you a unique celebration of the way we talk now.

‘As millions of devotees have discovered, Twitter turns out to have unsuspected depth…In short, the most fascinating thing about Twitter is not what it’s doing to us. It’s what we’re doing to it’  – Stephen Johnson, Time

‘I like to follow my [something] Martha Stewart, ‘cause Martha Stewart she keeps it scuttered and buttered, baked and flaked and she love to wake and bake with the big Snoop Dogg. You feel me?’ – Snoop Dogg

Kate Bussmann is a magazine and newspaper journalist and blogger. Her writing has been published in the Guardian, Observer, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, Red, Marie Claire, Grazia, Stylist, Shortlist and many more around the world. She is based in London, and has just returned from three years living and working in New York.

Indira Naidoo, author of The Edible Balcony : How to Grow Fresh Food in a Small Space Plus 60 Inspiring Recipes, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Indira Naidoo

author of The Edible Balcony : How to Grow Fresh Food in a Small Space Plus 60 Inspiring Recipes

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 Pietermartizburg in South Africa to Indian parents and raised and schooled in Zambia, England, Australia and Zimbabwe. Now you can see why I can get a little confused about things.

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

When I was twelve I wanted to be a professional swimmer specialising in butterfly. I was a state representative swimmer in Tasmania and wanted desperately to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games or at the Olympics. The only problem was I wasn’t Continue reading

Christina Stead is back: The Man Who Loved Children, Letty Fox: Her Luck and now, For Love Alone

Thank goodness Miegunyah – an imprint of Melbourne University Press – who have the very cool slogan, Books With Spine – have begun republishing the works of Christina Stead. We need to be reminded that Australia used to produce artists of genius. And it might just encourage our present crop of writers to either give up or to aim higher.

Your home library needs these three titles

For Love Alone

Christina Stead doesn’t tell you or show you what it is to love with all your being, no,  she causes you to feel that love as intensely as poor Teresa feels it herself….

Set in Sydney and London in the 1930s, For Love Alone is the story of Teresa Hawkins, an intelligent, ardent young woman, and her search for the ideal passion of love. She attempts to engage the feelings of the unworthy Jonathan Crow, an intellectual young man and advocate of free love, and follows him to London after four years of severe self-sacrifice.

In London the mediocrity, corruption and egoistic shallowness of Crow gradually becomes obvious. With the help of James Quick, however, a devoted older man who takes Teresa to live with him, she is able to abandon her idealised vision.

After a brief interlude with Quick’s friend, Harry Girton, Teresa advances to a new, more detached appreciation of passion, and renews her commitment to Quick in full awareness of the compromises that love imposes.


Letty Fox: Her Luck

Letty Fox – Her Luck is one of Christina Stead’s very best. It anticipates the modern woman – with all of her cares and worries, freedoms and their consequences – beating lesser novelists to her by fifty years. And is, in my opinion, still yet to be bettered. This book is not for the idle reader. This book requires the reader sit up and pay attention. But that said, it is not a difficult read – it’s truth makes it compelling reading…

From the Publisher:

Christina Stead’s brilliant satire of marriage, desire and the conventions that surround them.

One hot night last spring, after waiting fruitlessly for a call from my then lover, with whom I had quarrelled the same afternoon, and finding one of my black moods on me, I flung out of my lonely room on the ninth floor (unlucky number) in a hotel in lower Fifth Avenue and rushed into the streets of the Village, feeling bad.

Letty Fox – Her Luck, Christina Stead’s sixth novel, was first published in New York in 1946, and banned in Australia for its salaciousness. Set in wartime Manhattan and told in Letty’s own spiky and exuberant voice, the novel follows her successes and failures in the game of ‘being somebody’. Letty’s tireless pursuit of love and sex provides the setting for Stead’s brilliant satire of marriage, desire and the conventions that surround them..


The Man Who Loved Children

The Man Who Loved Children is a book which cannot be appreciated by the ordinary heart or mind. If you don’t dig the book, you’re only playing at life, which is fine, but keep your opinion about the book to yourself, you will just look stupid otherwise.

“I am convinced that tens of thousands of people would bless the day that this book was published, if only they could be exposed to it.” JONATHAN FRANZEN

The Man Who Loved Childrenis Christina Stead’s masterpiece about family life. Sam and Henny Pollit are a warring husband and wife, he a fully blown narcissist and she spoiled and prone to fits of despair.

Their hatred, aggravated by too little money and too many children, lies at the centre of this chilling and brilliantly observed novel about relations between parents and children, husbands and wives.

The Man Who Loved Children is acknowledged as a contemporary classic of Australian and international literature.


About the Author:

Christina Stead was born in Sydney in 1902. She left Australia in 1928 and lived in London, Paris and the United States, writing and travelling with her husband, the novelist and political economist William Blake. In 1953 she and Blake settled in England. Widowed, she returned to Sydney in 1974 and died in 1983. Her first work, a collection of stories, The Salzburg Tales, was published in 1934. It was followed by Seven Poor Men of Sydney (1934), The Beauties and Furies (1936), House of All Nations (1938), The Man Who Loved Children (1940), For Love Alone (1944), Letty Fox: Her Luck and many others.

Joy McKean, author of I’ve Been There (and Back Again), answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Joy McKean

author of I’ve Been There (and Back Again): Slim Dusty and Joy McKean’s Lifetime of Travel, Stories and Songs

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 Singleton in the Hunter Valley of NSW and lived the first three years of my life on my grandparents’ farm in Doyles Creek. My dad was a country schoolteacher so we moved after that about every two years. We lived at various country districts in the Hunter, the Southern Highlands, Sydney and also the Tweed Valley before returning to Sydney in the mid 1940’s. Dad taught me to read and write; I had correspondence lessons when hospitalised with polio, and then from about fourth class was taught again by my father. Thence to Murwillumbah High School, and then again to Parramatta High School, my father’s old school.

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

At twelve and eighteen I aimed my sights at becoming a school teacher. My father, uncle and aunt were teachers as were my grandfather and his brothers, and my great-grandfather before them. When my ambition was floored by the fact that I was polio affected in one leg, I turned to music. With my sister I performed onstage, recorded my own songs with her, and ran a half hour weekly radio programme on Radio 2KY, Sydney. By thirty, I was married and touring Australia; aiming to write and record country music and make a big success of my husband’s career and mine.

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

I believed that the world was my oyster and that I could overcome any obstacle because I knew all there was to know; these days I know that although I’ve learned a lot I still know little and I knew even less at eighteen.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

My writing was originally aimed at songs and I began doing that when I was eleven or twelve. This was probably because there was music in our home; my mother played piano and piano accordion. Both of my parents played Hawaiian steel guitars, and owned a gramophone. They bought early country and ballad records and I learned the songs from them. I could vamp on both piano and steel guitar to accompany my singing, and then my yodelling. So writing my own songs seemed a natural progression.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book – aren’t they obsolete?

English teachers at high school encouraged my essay writing, and by the end of high school my sister and I were singing and performing semi-professionally. So my writing was channelled into song writing and continued so for years. When my husband Slim Dusty was asked to write his autobiography and was offered a ‘ghost’ writer, we recalled the amount of work we did on a previous project and I decided that it would be less work to do it myself. So that is when I branched out from writing songs, to writing stories or telling stories of our life on the road and onstage. I had been asked many times to consider doing a book of song lyrics presented as poems with photos to illustrate the poems. From there the idea expanded to the stories and people behind the songs. And no, I don’t think books are, or will become, obsolete.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

I’ve Been There… And Back Again is a coffee table book of song lyrics presented as poems, together with beautiful photographs from friend and colleague John Elliott. I have told the stories behind each of these songs by telling how the song was written and why, what was happening in our lives at the time, and anecdotes about the people and places we were travelling in at the time. I included lots of historical photos from our own family collection… some taken by my father, others by Slim and myself. Most of these have never been seen before. The book tells about a way of life that no longer exists here. There is also a limited edition of the book; gold edged pages, leather cover, autographed photo and a CD of the soundtracks of the songs included in the book.

(BBGuru: publisher’s description -

A stunning, full-colour hardback filled with the songs and stories of Slim Dusty and his wife and fellow singer and songwriter, Joy McKean.

The perfect gift book for Slim Dusty s legions of fans, whose numbers are still strong even years after his death.

Joy McKean wrote many of her husband Slim Dusty s most well-loved songs, such as Lights on the Hill and When the Rain Tumbles Down in July . She is a natural writer and now she turns her talent to telling us the stories behind 25 of their most popular songs. Through the lyrics and stories she gives us an intimate insight into her life on the road with Slim. This couple were famous around Australia for their performances and for their love of the outback and its people. Slim and Joy were awarded a total of 37 Golden Guitars between them, and Joy is respected by other performers both in and out of the country music scene, such as Troy Cassar Daley and Paul Kelly.

This beautiful, fully illustrated hardback will comprise of a selection of 25 lyrics, Joy s stories and reminisces about each song, photographs from the family collection and outstanding shots by acclaimed photographer John Elliott, who has been photographing Slim and Joy, their band and family for decades.)

Click here to order a copy of I’ve Been There (and Back Again) from Booktopia, Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

If my book could change the tendency to believe that everywhere else in the world needs to be admired and copied more than the values based on our own natural character and lifestyle, then I would be happy.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

I can’t answer that question; there are too many great people out there and their greatness awes me.

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

I want to write another book some day, and maybe some more songs. But the first ambition to fulfil is to see the opening of the completed Slim Dusty Centre and Museum in Kempsey in the Macleay Valley of NSW.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Actually, I don’t give advice as I don’t believe I’m qualified to do that. I am not a disciplined writer of either words or songs. That is why I avoid participating in songwriting workshops and such. All I might say perhaps is to write with meaning… not just for the sake of stringing together some nice sounding words or lines. Try to say something!

Joy, thank you for playing.


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