Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

It is certainly only a rumour at this stage, but Daniel Kahneman is an outside chance for the Sydney Writer’s Festival next year. This man is one serious thinker, so if you have the chance to be in a room with him, you should take it. Meanwhile, while the emails are going backwards and forwards, his latest book is racing off our shelves.

Think Malcolm Gladwell and then some. The reviews are amazing.


Israeli American Daniel Kahneman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his seminal work in psychology challenging the rational model of judgement and decision-making, is one of the world’s most important thinkers.  His ideas have had a profound impact on many fields – including business, medicine and politics – but until now he has not brought together his many years of research in one book.

In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think and make choices.  One system is fast, intuitive, and emotional; the other is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.  Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities – and also the faults and biases – of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behaviour.  The importance of properly framing risks, the effects of cognitive biases on how we view others, the dangers of prediction, the right ways to develop skills, the pros and cons of fear and optimism, the difference between our experience and memory of events, the real components of happiness – each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.

Drawing on a lifetime’s experimental experience, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking.  He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our professional and our personal lives – and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble.  Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you take decisions and experience the world.


‘There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.’ Financial Times

Thinking, Fast and Slow is a masterpiece – a brilliant and engaging intellectual saga by one of the greatest psychologists and deepest thinkers of our time. Kahneman should be parking a Pulitzer next to his Nobel Prize.’ Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness

‘Daniel Kahneman is one of the most original and interesting thinkers of our time. There may be no other person on the planet who better understands how and why we make the choices we make. In this absolutely amazing book, he shares a lifetime’s worth of wisdom presented in a manner that is simple and engaging, but nonetheless stunningly profound. This book is a must read for anyone with a curious mind.’ Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics

‘Daniel Kahneman is among the most influential psychologists in history and certainly the most important psychologist alive today. He has a gift for uncovering remarkable features of the human mind, many of which have become textbook classics and part of the conventional wisdom. His work has reshaped social psychology, cognitive science, the study of reason and of happiness, and behavioral economics, a field that he and his collaborator Amos Tversky invented. The appearance of Thinking, Fast and Slow is a major event.’ Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of our Nature

‘This is a landmark book in social thought, in the same league as The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud.’ Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan

Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George

Guest Reviewer: Booktopia’s Sarah McDuling

Inspector Lynley is back in this long awaited, seventeenth instalment of Elizabeth George’s popular series. Called to the scene of what appears to be an accidental death, Lynley takes part in an unofficial investigation to determine whether or not a murder has taken place. Our victim is the nephew of powerful business magnate, Bernard Fairclough. In the time-honoured tradition of wealthy family dynasties in crime fiction, the Faircloughs are hiding more than their fair share of skeletons in the closet. It is Inspector Lynley’s job to sift through murky layers of deceit and scandal to uncover the truth.

And now, for the purposes of this review of Believing the Lie, I will divide the entire population of the world into three categories.

Elizabeth George

Category A – Die-Hard Inspector Lynley Fans.

If you are a member of Category A, you are most likely the proud owner of all the previous Inspector Lynley books. You have read each Inspector Lynley mystery (probably more than once) and seen every episode of the TV show (which you passionately declare to anyone who will listen is nowhere near as good as the books).
To members of Category A, this past year has been something of a struggle for you. Indeed, 2011 has been a cold and barren wasteland, without nary a Lynley book in sight. Fortunately, the dark Lynley-less days are drawing to a close. The release date of Believing the Lie is rapidly approaching and this is far more exciting to you than the prospect of Christmas or New Years Eve.
If you are a Die-Hard Fan, you have probably already pre-ordered your copy of Believing the Lie. If not, then what are you waiting for? Get to it!

NB: In the interest of full disclosure, I am a die-hard fan.

Category B – Inspector Lynley Fans Who Were Slightly Disappointed By the Last Few Books in the Series (or for brevity’s sake “Concerned Fans”)

Members of Cateogory B, you know who you are. You are the traditionalist fans, those who devoured the early Inspector Lynley books but were shocked by the author’s controversial decision to kill off a beloved central character. Since then, you have felt rather traumatized and bewildered. Perhaps you even made the decision to skip the last few books in the series.
Members of Category B, I feel your pain. Though I count myself a proud member of Category A, I am willing to concede that the last few books in the series (while definitely superior to the average book) have not been 100% as utterly perfect as earlier instalments. I am delighted to report, however, that in Believing the Lie,  Inspector Lynley is back in prime form. If ever there was a time to renew your membership card to the “Die-Hard Lynley Fanclub” – this is it. So go ahead and jump back on the bandwagon, Concerned Fans. You won’t be disappointed.

Category C – People Who Think They Don’t Like Crime Fiction.

To members of this category I will say only this – you are mistaken.

I will reluctantly admit, I can understand how a person might fall into the trap of believing they don’t like crime fiction. There have been times in my life when I have felt embarrassed to be seen in public reading a book with a morbid, blood spattered cover and a title including the word “death”, “kill” or “murder” (or sometimes a combination of all three). And yet, I have never been able to resist losing myself in a cracking good murder mystery.  And when you’re dealing with a mystery written by Elizabeth George, there’s always a complex puzzle to solve and you can bet there will be several whiplash-inducing plot twists to enjoy along the way.
So if you are one of those people who eschew the genre that gave birth to Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Lisbeth Salander (three of my favourite fictional people), then I can only conclude that you  simply have not had the pleasure of meeting Inspector Lynley. If this is the case, get your hands on the nearest Lynley Mystery and start reading. I dare you not to enjoy it.
You will notice I did not include a category for People Who like Crime Fiction But Do Not Enjoy Inspector Lynley Books. This is because I do not believe such people exist.

If you like reading crime, then you’re bound to enjoy reading Elizabeth George. Her plots are tightly woven, perfectly paced and come complete with a cast of dysfunctional yet psychologically compelling characters so well drawn that they seem to leap of the page.
Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley (8th Earl of Asherton) is a member of the British aristocracy. Struggling to move on after the tragic death of a loved one in With No One As Witness, Lynley is crippled by grief and prone to bouts of self-recrimination. This of course makes him the perfect “brooding hero.”

The beauty of this series, however, is that the books do not need to be read in order. Newcomers will not be left floundering in a haze of back-story. Indeed, if you have never read any of the previous books in the series, Believing the Lie is a good place to start.

When all is said in done, it really doesn’t matter which category you place yourself in. Whether you’re a Die-Hard Lynley Fan or someone who (mistakenly) believes they don’t like crime fiction, the latest Inspector Lynley mystery is just the kind of compulsive page-turner likely to keep you up way past your bedtime. And even if you’re clever enough to predict the ending, I’m willing to bet you’ll still be surprised by some of the twists and turns that occur along the way. The only real drawback to reading Believing the Lie is that once you’re finished, you’ll be facing a long wait for the next instalment.

Believing the Lie is available to order from Booktopia for delivery after December 28.

See our author page here.

Amanda Hocking: The Author Who Made Millions by Self-Publishing Her Novels Now Makes Millions Being Published

Publishing sensation Amanda Hocking’s story reads like a fairy tale. She self-published her novels and sold a million copies within a year or so. The very thought of such overnight success can cause normally quite reasonable unpublished authors to lose their heads. On the strength of a headline – ‘Self-published author makes money’  – thousands of authors have flown off to self-publish their manuscripts, too.

But as with all dazzling success stories, Amanda’s  was preceded by much hard work.  I doubt whether it felt like an overnight success to Amanda. She received rejection slips just like every other writer.  But she knew the value of her work and she kept on writing. She wrote dozens of novels, submitted them and got knocked back. She hungered for an audience. So in the end, self-publishing wasn’t an act of rebellion, it was an at of desperation. No one else would publish them.

What Amanda then did was sell her self-published eBooks for only 99c each. Cheap as chips. Readers could taste her work with very little investment.  And she supported her self-published eBooks via social media. To do this properly you need to devote hours and hours of you time and you need to develop relationships.

But in the end, if the books Amanda wrote were crap the story would have ended right there. She would be just another self-published author. One among millions. But they weren’t crap. Readers responded to them. They came back for the sequels. They came back for Amanda’s other novels. Word spread. So, in the end it was the readers who turned Amanda Hocking into one of publishing Continue reading

Lauren Kate: Five Fiction Favourites for 2011

Lauren Kate

author of Fallen, Torment
and Passion


The 5 best novels I read in 2011 are…

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

by Catherynne M. Valente

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Fiction title for Continue reading

Kirsten Tranter, author of The Legacy and now, A Common Loss, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Kirsten Tranter

author of A Common Loss and The Legacy

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 Singapore and raised in Sydney, in the inner west. I studied English and Fine Arts at Sydney Uni and went to the US in 1998 to do a PhD in English at Rutgers University in New Jersey. I ended up specialising in English Renaissance poetry and lived in New York for around eight years while I studied.

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

At 12 I had no idea. A visual Continue reading

Noel Mealey, author of Murder and Redemption, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Noel Mealey

author Murder and Redemption

Ten Terrifying Questions


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

My first novel is set in WA, though I’m a Queenslander at heart. My parents lived their early lives in western Queensland, and the stories they told, on the lawn, under the stars, about the west during the Great Depression have stayed in my memory forever. They instilled in me the conservative values; work hard, be honest, cherish your friends, stand up for what you believe.

I was taught by the Christian Brothers, and left school feeling only respect for those who taught me. I had a completely different, and much happier, school experience than did the characters in my novel.

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

At age twelve I thought that I had the necessary attributes to become the Prime Minister of Australia.

At age eighteen I had decided that I would become a barrister, until a guidance counsellor rejected that ambition because as he said, ‘To become a successful barrister, you would first have to marry a wealthy woman.’ Since he did not seem to have any interest in introducing me to appropriately wealthy women, I sought my future as an Engineer.

At or about the age of thirty, I made up my mind to become a millionaire, because the environment in which I worked was heavily weighted towards the wealthiest people in Australia and it seemed churlish of me not to take a crack at it.

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

Boys of eighteen have not had time to formulate strong beliefs, except that they should continue to run the world that their parents have gifted to them.

At age 24 they have many beliefs, most of which are based on misconceptions of what the real world is about. That is unless they are TV stars or sporting celebrities, in which case, they know for certain, that everything impinging upon their own world, is of vital importance to every person who inhabits the earth.

At age 45, a man is likely to have built up a dangerous confidence in his ability to run the world, (always providing that he has had a good woman beside him to keep his eyes to the front), and may well go on and try to do just that.

At age 60, he has come to a realisation that, despite his best efforts, the world runs itself, and he may as well sit back and enjoy the ride.

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?

Because I had an interest in historical novels, I found James Michener and first read his ‘Chesapeake’. That book led me through his historical themes, and eventually to The Fires of Spring and to The Drifters. The characterisation in Spring and in Drifters made a very real impact.

Another favourite author in my early years was Winston Churchill, who had both a grasp on history, and a very elegant style of writing. For humour and dialogue I enjoyed all of Elmore Leonard’s books. I loved the characters and imaginative romance in The Vivisector by Patrick White.

My favourite music is in the operas, and particularly the Italian operas, Rigoletto, LaBoheme, Tosca et al.

I can’t say how the visual arts have influenced my writing, but I am certain that my visits to The Picasso Museum and to the Rodin Gallery, both in Paris, had a profound impact upon me as a person, in particular, the intensity of the figures in Rodin’s The Burghers of Calai. The way the artist could breathe real life into cold hard iron, appealed to the Engineer in me.

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

During my life I have met some extraordinary people; clever people, funny people, weird people, some arrogant, some humble and some criminals.

I knew from an early age that I would write, so when the time came my first thought was to write a true story. A history of my parent’s life in outback Queensland during the depression; or the stories of people I have known, who, having survived the gas chambers, came to Australia and succeeded in business and as people.

Those are projects that I may well do, one day. Meanwhile I was driven by one particular character, who on the one hand was a comedic figure, but on the other a fully fledged tragic. He quickly took over my thinking, and he came alive in my mind, but as an extension of that real person.

My character was not the real thing, but better, and I knew that I had to write a novel, rather than a biography. He eventually dominated my story as the gangster, Uncle Romulus, a swashbuckling, piratical, loveable murderer, and certainly not everyone’s uncle.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Syd Fielding, a detective at Geraldton in WA, shared a brutalising childhood with his friend Ivan Siderov, at Bindoon Boys Town, an orphanage near Perth.

Now, having survived a tour in Vietnam and a spiral into alcoholism, he is a man, emotionally scarred and violent. As he pursues a murderer, through the mines and ports of WA, he discovers that Ivan is on the wrong side of the law, is equally violent, and is suffering no remorse for the terrible crimes he has committed.

Struggling to control his stormy emotions, and his own conscience, Syd concedes that some people, Ivan for one, are beyond legal process and rationalises that murder is the only way to bring justice to his world. After all, when right and wrong, good and bad co-exist in every person, who deserves to live, who to die?

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

I hope that, while they read my book, they laugh out loud and shed some tears, as I did when I was writing it. I hope that they are entertained.

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

I could not choose between Winston Churchill and Gore Vidal. Churchill was a great warrior and a great leader. As a writer, he ranged from interesting and entertaining true stories, of his life as a soldier and politician, to enormous projects such as a history of the Second World War, and a history of the English speaking people.

While doing those things, he found time to run the world, and to paint extraordinarily well.

I have to say that is admirable.

Gore Vidal has been described as an all-round man of letters. He wrote books on American history for example Burr, and Lincoln that are full of mystery, romance, humour and even crime. That’s something to admire in a history. He wrote film scripts, TV series, stage plays. Many of his books, Myra Breckinridge for one, rocked the world. I have read some of his books multiple times, and they remain enjoyable. So much writing in one lifetime.

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

My goal was to write one excellent crime story, and now it is to write another excellent crime story and then a comedy and then a real life story, and then even more.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Persistence wins.

Thank you for playing.

The woman behind Pippa Middleton’s behind : Margot Campbell’s Pilates on the Go

It was recently revealed that Pippa Middleton’s envious figure was down to weekly pilates sessions at her local studio. Now Pippa’s teacher is set to pass on the secrets of her exercise routine in a new book. Margot Campbell was approached by several publishing houses after the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister recommended her on the ‘Pilates on the Go‘ website. Campbell eventually signed a deal with Hodder to write a step-by-step guide to pilates combined with an easy-to-follow aerobic routine. The book, to be published next January, will also include diet tips. (From )

Pilates on the Go

by Margot Campbell

Sculpt your body in 14 days.

At her Pilates on the go… studio in London, Margot Campbell has designed a unique programme to help her clients to achieve their body shape and weight-loss goals.

Combining the transformative techniques of Pilates, with aerobic exercise and diet advice, Margot has now adapted the programme so that everyone can follow it.

No matter how busy you are, Pilates on the go will help you achieve the results you’ve always wanted. The book includes:

Pilates on the go personal questionnaire
14-day kick start plan to sculpt your body
10-minute programmes to target arms, tummies and bottoms
5-minute quickies for when you’re really short of time
Pilates on the go toning tips for when you’re out and about
Lifestyle, motivation and eating advice

Click here to order your new bum today

About The Author : Margot Campbell runs her own pilates studio in West London. Working with people of all ages and shapes, Margot has adapted her methods to help her clients achieve their goals. Margot has coached a number of high profile celebrities, including Pippa Middleton

Pippa Middleton left this testimonial on Margot Campbell’s website:

“As someone who is always ‘on the go’, Pilates has been a wonderful escape from my busy lifestyle in London. Whether it’s 7am in the morning or 7pm at night I always leave feeling calm, refreshed and invigorated. Over the past few months I have noticed a huge difference in my core strength and posture and couldn’t recommend Margot more highly as an instructor. From breathing techniques, muscle toning to overall flexibility and relaxation, my Pilates sessions have become something of a weekly necessity that keeps me fit, happy and energized.”

TRUE STORY: Gang of One by Gary Mulgrew

GANG OF ONE is an explosive prison memoir with the gritty realism of Midnight Express and the emotional force of The Shawshank Redemption.

Imagine you’re a 35 year old, white, British, middle-class business man sentenced to three years in Big Spring, one of America’s most notorious prisons. You’ve been told that if get into any trouble, your sentence will be doubled. You’ve just said goodbye to your lawyer. You’re on your own.

You are a GANG OF ONE.

In the relentless heat of the desert, seven hundred men were crammed into a space meant for four hundred. Fights, murders and month-long lock-downs were commonplace. The guards – armed, untrained, on low wages – left the running of the jail to the gangs.

Told with wit and humanity, GANG OF ONE shows a man constantly confronted by the moral and physical challenges of prison life, where everyone is encouraged to turn their back and ‘see nuthin”.

Gary’s choice – to walk away and let a man die, or intervene and lose the chance to get home – makes GANG OF ONE a book as unforgettable as it is enthralling.

Click here to pre-order your copy

About the Author: Gary Mulgrew was born in Glasgow in 1962 and lived there until he graduated from the University of Strathclyde. He joined NatWest Bank in 1983 and worked for them in Manchester, London, Tokyo and New York before joining the Royal Bank of Canada in 2000. His banking career ended in June 2002 when he was indicted by the U.S. authorities for allegedly defrauding NatWest.

After years of court battles and a high profile public campaign, he and two other members of the ‘NatWest Three’ were eventually extradited to America. Two years of detention in Houston, Texas were followed by two years in seven different prisons in the United States and England until his full release in early 2010. He now runs a number of successful businesses in the south of England, supported by his bankers, NatWest.

Lisa Heidke : Five Fiction Favourites for 2011

Lisa Heidke

author of Lucy Springer Gets Even,
What Kate Did Next
, Claudia’s Big Break

and, coming in January 2012, Stella Makes Good


The 5 best novels I read this year are…

Raw Blue

by Kirsty Eagar

Lisa Heidke: Set on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and marketed as a Young Adult, Raw Blue centres around Carly, a teenage surfer trying to find her place in the world. This emotionally gripping story easily crosses over into adult fiction. I find Eagar’s writing compelling and honest and her characters real and flawed. Loved this book.

Blurb: Readers of Tim Winton’s Breath will be drawn to Kirsty Eagar’s Raw Blue, an achingly beautiful young adult novel set in Sydney’s northern beaches. Winner of the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, it is a haunting story about finding your passion in life.

Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly cafe. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing … and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago. Then she meets Ryan and Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?


Indelible Ink

by Fiona McGregor

Lisa Heidke: Set in Sydney’s lower north Shore, this is at times an uncomfortable and confronting story about Marie, an older, divorced woman who breaks free from conservative ties… sad, funny, heartfelt, I so wanted life to improve for her. Indelible Ink stayed with me long after I finished reading it.

Blurb: Marie King is a fifty-nine, recently divorced, and has lived a rather conventional life on Sydney’s affluent north shore. Now her three children have moved out, the family home is to be sold, and with it will go her beloved garden.

On a drunken whim, Marie gets a tattoo – an act that gives way to an unexpected friendship with her tattoo artist, Rhys. Before long, Rhys has introduced Marie to side of the city that clashes with her staid north-shore milieu. Her children are mortified by their mother’s transformation, but have their own challenges to deal with: workplace politics; love affairs old and new; and, of course, the real-estate market.

Written with Fiona McGregor’s incisive wit and keen eye, Indelible Ink uses one family as a microcosm for the changes operating in society at large. In its piercing examination of the way we live now, it is truly a novel of our times.


The Life

by Malcolm Knox

Lisa Heidke: The story of once champion surfer Dennis Keith is an exhilarating, quirky ride. It took me a couple of chapters to get comfortable with Knox’s writing style (for this particular novel) but once I settled into the story, I got swept along by the surf, the ambition, the obsession… the whole absorbing saga.

Blurb: Daring, dazzling, funny and heartbreaking, this is a story about fame and ambition, surfing and pine-lime Splices … a superbly written and ambitious novel by one of Australia’s rising stars. The Life will simply blow you away.

He looked into the Pacific and the Pacific looked back into him.

The Life tells the story of former-world-champion Australian surfer, Dennis Keith, from inside the very heart of the fame and madness that is ‘The Life’.

Now bloated and paranoid, former Australian surfing legend Dennis Keith is holed up in his mother’s retirement village, shuffling to the shop for a Pine-Lime Splice every day, barely existing behind his aviator sunnies and crazy OCD rules, and trying not to think about the waves he’d made his own and the breaks he once ruled like a god. Years before he’d been robbed of the world title that had his name on it – and then drugs, his brother, and the disappearance and murder of his girlfriend and had done the rest. Out of the blue, a young would-be biographer comes knocking and stirs up memories Dennis thought he’d buried. It takes Dennis a while to realise that she’s not there to write his story at all.

Daring, ambitious, dazzling, The Life is also as real as it gets – a searing, beautiful novel about fame and ambition and the price that must sometimes be paid for reaching too high.


Brother of the More Famous Jack

by Barbara Trapido

Lisa Heidke: First published in 1982, I revisited this book when I was bored and looking for something light and fun to read. Witty, funny, sad…and very clever. Highly recommended!

Blurb:  Stylish, suburban Katherine is eighteen when she is propelled into the centre of Professor Jacob Goldman’s rambling home and his large eccentric family. As his enchanting yet sharp-tongued wife Jane gives birth to her sixth child, Katherine meets the volatile, stroppy Jonathan and his older, more beautiful brother Roger, who wins her heart. First love quickly leads to heartbreak and sends her fleeing to Rome but, ten years on, she returns to find the Goldmans again. A little wiser and a lot more grown-up, Katherine faces her future.

Brother of the More Famous Jack is Barbara Trapido’s highly acclaimed and much loved debut; a book that redefined the coming-of-age novel.


The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

Lisa Heidke: I wasn’t sure about this book but was surprised and delighted. A moving, heartfelt and fascinating insight into complex female relationships, bonds and prejudices. Uplifting and powerful, I read The Help one rainy long weekend and don’t regret a single indulgent moment.

Blurb: Enter a vanished world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren’t trusted not to steal the silver . . .

There’s Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son’s tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from College, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared.

Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they’d be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in a search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell . . .


Many thanks to Lisa Heidke for sharing her
Five Fiction Favourites for 2011 with us.

Lisa’s forthcoming novel, Stella Makes Good, is already causing a bit of a stir…

From The Daily Telegraph last week:

Author Lisa Heidke’s fourth book Stella Makes Good inspired by swingers sex party in Sydney’s Turramurra

By Felicity McLean

Picture: John Fotiadis Source: The Daily Telegraph

IT’S not every day you read about a sex party in Turramurra. So when local author Lisa Heidke read just that, it was too seductive to ignore.

“I was flipping through the North Shore Times and found a small article about a police raid on a swingers’ party just up the road from my home in Pymble,” Heidke explains.

Sydney group sex parties keep neighbours awake

“I thought it was hilarious. I mean, what would you do if someone invited you to a party up the road and you turned up to a sex party! And then imagine you saw your newsagent there. Or the butcher. Or you saw your friend’s husband there!”

Such a provocative prospect provided the launch pad for Heidke’s latest novel, Stella Makes Good. The fourth book in three years for the journalist-turned-author, it continues Heidke’s tradition of exploring contemporary life, even if it is a little more risque than her usual fare.

“When I was researching online I thought, ‘Oh, God! Am I accidentally going to access some illegal site and have the police turn up and confiscate my computer?’ ” she says. “I want to make it very clear that I didn’t go to any sex parties in researching my book!” Read the full story here…

Stella Makes Good

by Lisa Heidke

Can mother-of-three, Stella forge a new life for herself after the end of her marriage? A funny and insightful novel about love, friendship and the quest for happiness.

Stella Sparks is on good terms with her ex-husband, Terry, despite the fact he left her for another woman. Stella’s philosophical – the marriage had run its course, they remain friends and the wellbeing of their kids is central to both of them.

Stella’s two closest friends, Carly and Jesse, envy her togetherness and wish they could emulate it. Jesse’s husband, Steve, is a control freak who’s driving her crazy, but she has two small children and can’t see a way out. Carly, meanwhile, suspects her husband is having an affair and isn’t sure what to do about it.

Stella’s life takes a distinctly upward turn when she meets a handsome, apparently single – no ring, anyway – father at her son’s school speech night. For Carly and Jesse, however, the search for happiness and fulfilment proves more elusive…

With a healthy dose of humour and romance Stella Makes Good is about the games we play, the secrets we keep, the unpredictable nature of life and the importance of female friendship.



The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals by Wendy Jones

Last Saturday I had an official pyjama day – a whole day to doze, dream and devour books. I set myself up early with – pots of tea, the pile of books by the bed,the appropriate reading music (instrumental – no distracting lyrics allowed). Twelve books to be selected from, only one to be chosen. All to be published in the first few months of 2012.

And so I started  with a vaguely scientific method in mind. Skim the first few pages of each book. Select the one to read in full that seemed the most promising. Revel in the quiet, quirky offerings for the first quarter of the year, novels that would almost certainly be shouted down in the noise that is Christmas.

An undertaker called Wildred Price blew that idea out of the water completely.

From the minute I met him, I was hooked. Wilfred is perfect – he is Welsh, neat and trim, full of entrepreneurial ideas both for his business as a purveyor of superior funerals, and for his side line (from the front room) of hosting a wallpaper showroom. He is just as handy at knocking up a coffin out the back as he is instructing his underlings on the correct etiquette for addressing the bereaved. He reads a dictionary daily to improve his general knowledge. And he knows that for his business to prosper, he has to take a wife.

Now, finding a wife in the early 20s in a small sea side town in Wales shouldn’t prove too difficult. After all, nearly a whole generation of young men haven’t returned from the trenches. But Wilfred – earnest, deliberate, dutiful and positive Wilfred – is completely inexperienced and extraordinarily naive. And then he meets Grace…

For the early part, The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price, Purveyor of Superior Funerals is definitely in the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie genre of fiction. It certainly has the same kind of charm. It does a good line in the eccentric nature of the small, isolated village struggling to deal with a devastating world event. The Welsh Tourist Bureau could definitely adopt Wilfred as a quaint front man for a campaign to promote visitors in seaside settlements of bygone eras.

To dismiss it as simply charming however would be to do the novel a great disservice.

Wendy Jones has written a surprisingly restrained and moving book. There are secrets which aren’t pretty, there are shocks without sensationalism. This is a novel about duty, love, loss and responsibility and it deserves a very wide audience. An added bonus is that it comes as a lovely demi-hardback edition. As I said, Wilfred is just about perfect.

Order from Booktopia here for delivery after March 1, 2012.


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