Caroline Baum on Curses and Blessings for All Occasions by Bradley Trevor Greive

Caroline Baum: It might be a bit early to think about stocking fillers, but  make a note of this one, it will tickle the fancy of anyone irreverent and with a playful way with words. These elaborate, imaginative insults and good wishes (phrased to sound like the ancient sayings of a mystic or from a poorly translated fortune cookie) could be the start of a great new parlour game: try and make up you own to match the calibre of ‘may your singing cause pandas to ovulate’ and ‘may a bomber formation of incontinent geese fly over your sunroof’. 

Witty, warm, and engaging, in Curses and Blessings for All Occasions, Bradley Trevor Greive brings his trademark style to this humorously twisted book for all events, circumstances, and occasions.

BTG proudly presents his range of Curses and Blessings, a selection of potent and pithy utterances with which you can smite your enemies and heap praise upon the worthy.

May your yogurt be teeming with bacteria

International best-selling author Bradley Trevor Greive bestows this blessing on readers and many more in his newest gift book, Curses and Blessing For All Occasions. Mixed in are as many respectable curses for good measure. Witty, warm, and engaging, BTG brings his trademark style to this humorously twisted book for all events, circumstances, and occasions.

Blessings include:
* May your excuses for avoiding tedious social engagements always sound credible.
* May your blocked pores be licked clean by angels.
* May your corpse be museum worthy.

Curses include:
* May small dogs exploit all your insecurities.
* May a bomber formation of incontinent geese fly over your sunroof.
* May all dairy items in your fridge be of questionable vintage.

John Cleese: I have a great admiration for the way my good friend BTG has amassed vast piles of cash putting saccharine comments under photos of cute-looking animals. But now he has suddenly written something which is both witty and interesting. I suspect it will disappoint his usual readership. –

About the Author: Since the debut of his international best-seller The Blue Day Book, Bradley Trevor Greive’s books have sold more than 20 million copies in 115 countries. A former Australian paratrooper, BTG left the army to pursue more creative misadventures. Between qualifying as a cosmonaut for the Russian space program and writing he books, he currently lives in the US and is working as the Head of Imagineering at Disney.

11 Books That Inspired Olympic Gold by Andrew Cattanach

Gold, Gold, Gold!

If that famous phrase has you bleeding from the ears, you’re probably not alone. But before you run to your Olympic proof, Penguin Classics lined bunker, I would like to point out the incredible parallels to be drawn between the world of literature of the Olympic Games.

Just in time for the glory, the majesty and the spandex of the coming weeks here are 11 interesting facts and stories that may or may not be true (Disclaimer: they’re not true) about the athletes and the wonderful books that share their golden destinies.

1. The Prince

Prince Abdullah Al Saud, The Prince of Saudi Arabia will be competing in the show jumping in London 2012.

Al Saud counts Machiavelli as one of his biggest influences Evidence of this can be found in his famous my-dad-says-I-can-go performance at trials which earned him Olympic selection.


2. Wuthering Heights

The area of which pole vaulters know that they’re not going to make it.

Steve Hooker has felt this more often than not in the last 18 months and has turned to Emily Bronte for advice. She is yet to write back.


3. Twelve Angry Men

The nickname for The British soccer team, headed by the angriest man in the universe, coach Stuart Pearce.

If the British team loses the book will be re-released in the UK as Sixty-Two and a Half Million Angry Britons.


4. The Grapes of Wrath

The term for when, at the closing ceremony after party, a losing athlete congratulates their victorious peer by striking them on back of the head with a bottle of Shiraz.


5. The Time Machine

A device Ian Thorpe wished he had invented during the Olympic Trials.


6. Walking Home

The threat of most coaches in the Olympic village if their charger doesn’t give 110%.

Also the punishment if said athlete advises that 110% is mathematically impossible.


7. The Monk

The Matthew Lewis classic – a classic and controversial tale of the weakness of the human condition.

Not to be confused with the swimmer Kenrick Monk, who fell off a skateboard and told the police he had been hit by a car. And then posted a photo on facebook of himself holding two guns exemplifying the weakness of the human condition.


8. Moby Dick

A little known fact is that if a sailor finds the infamous White Whale while competing, the race is abandoned and they are declared the winners.

Captain Ahab never got his Gold Medal.


9. My Country

The hope of Kazakhstani athletes is that if they win Gold the Olympic officials will play their country’s national anthem and not Borat’s.


10. One Man Zeitgeist

Not the story of footballer and Olympic spokesperson, David Beckham, who could smash an egg on his head and have 7 billion people doing it the next morning.


11. The Odyssey

A young writer spends his Friday afternoon thinking of humorous allusions to the Olympics using the titles of famous books in the Booktopia catalogue.



By Andrew Cattanach


Follow Andrew on twitter at @andrew__cat

Derek Landy is Coming to Booktopia in August… Which means… Signed copies of Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked!

BIG NEWS: On 15th August Derek Landy will be coming to Booktopia to sign books and to chat with fans on the Booktopia Facebook page. He will be in Australia promoting his new book…

Kingdom of the Wicked

Magic is a disease.

Across the land, normal people are suddenly developing wild and unstable powers. Infected by a rare strain of magic, they are unwittingly endangering their own lives and the lives of the people around them. Terrified and confused, their only hope lies with the Sanctuary. Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain are needed now more than ever.

And then there’s the small matter of Kitana. A normal teenage girl who, along with her normal teenage friends, becomes infected. Becomes powerful. Becomes corrupted. Wielding the magic of gods, they’re set to tear the city apart unless someone stands up against them.

Looks like it’s going to be another one of those days…

Ages: 9-12

Joel, Age 12
“I would give this book 10/10 and would advise everybody young and old to read it. It is such a compulsive page turner it will be finished in about 2 days.”

Chloe, Age 11
“With vampires and monsters it’s not the type of book I would normally read but I enjoyed every word and was glued to the book. It has an interesting and original story line that sometimes had me rolling around laughing and at other times had my heart racing. I really hope that there are more Skulduggery books to come and if there are I’ll be first in line!”

Max, Age 12
” This book had me on the edge of my seat throughout the story. I think that is because of the fast paced action, the funny jokes that Skulduggery made & a curiosity of him and his world.”

About the Author : Derek Landy lives near Dublin. Before writing his children′s story about a sharply-dressed skeleton detective, he wrote the screenplays for a zombie movie and a murderous horror film. ′I think my career-guidance teacher is spinning in her grave,′ he says, ′or she would be if she were dead.′


Click here to order your signed copy of
Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked!

Mac ‘Serge’ Tucker, author of Fighter Pilot: Mis-Adventures Beyond the Sound Barrier with an Australian Top Gun, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Mac ‘Serge’ Tucker

author of Fighter Pilot: Mis-Adventures Beyond the Sound Barrier with an Australian Top Gun

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 Richmond Victoria – home of the mighty Tigers football club which I have zealously barracked for since my Great Uncle played for them…which is about the last time they won a Grand Final. I was raised largely in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne in the ambitiously named suburb of Mount Waverley which sits at the hypoxic height of 130m above sea level. I attended Caulfield Grammar School which is a private, knicker bocker wearing, all boys school that set me up well for the guys only world of Fighter Flying.

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

Luke Skywalker at 12 because I was sure the Force was strong in me and if I stared at my pen long enough I could make it lift off the desk.

At eighteen I was learning to fly a ‘bugsmasher’ and just wanted to trade in the propeller aircraft for a jet aircraft in order to be a Fighter Pilot.

At 30 I was a Squadron Leader in the Royal Australian Air Force and teaching guys how to fly the F-18 Hornet – all I wanted then was to start acting like I was 30.

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

I believed that our system of government, as well as its strong arm aka the military, were noble and that wars were an honourable thing that inspired men to achieve great things for the betterment of the planet. I now believe that our society has become so individualistic that the people have largely disengaged from the democratic/political process, allowing ‘the house of the people’ to be filled by hollowmen with giant fists up the arse controlling their mouths who are able to wage war for immoral purposes.

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?

I attended the East Sale airshow in the mid‘80s and met an F-18 pilot Ross Fox who inspired me to enter the military and fly jets. Thirteen years later, Australia’s involvement in East Timor would open my eyes and cause me to lose my naive blind faith in our system of government as well as the military that it supposedly commands. Meeting my wife Mezza gave me the strength I needed to leave the airlines and pursue a life of professional passion vice pain.

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?

I wanted to share the realities of fighter flying with people as well as recognise a bunch of special people who I worked with over the years – a book seemed the best way to do this. It was also far more collaborative than writing a blog and I got to work with some really great people at Allen & Unwin along the way who taught me how to use F bombs and C bombs properly as well as how to tell a joke.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Fighter Pilot: Mis-Adventures beyond the sound barrier with an Australian Top Gun is a tongue in cheek expose of fighter flying that provides readers with a behind the scenes view of life in the fighter force. It is also a story about a little boy who wanted to fly jet planes and did so – going on to achieve some great things along the way. It is a mix of serious tales of death and ridiculously stupid stories that probably should have resulted in death with enough in depth descriptions of fighter tactics to hopefully even interest my Grand Mother.

(BBGuru: publisher’s blurb – Sit down and strap yourself in for an exhilarating ride to the sound barrier and beyond with a real life Topgun!

Mac Tucker, or ‘Serge’ to use his callsign name, is one of an elite group of men trained to fly F-18 jets. Now, for the first time, Serge takes you behind the scenes of the fighter pilot world to reveal what it’s really like.

Find out how it feels to be shot at by SAS snipers, to be lost in a $50 million jet over Northern Australia with nothing but car lights to guide you home, to rupture your sinuses while flying, to inadvertently bomb a yacht and to face death on an almost daily basis. Relive the adventures of a real-life Top Gun and find out what it takes to become part of this elite force.

From the Pentagon to the South China Sea, the deserts of Australia to the wars of the Middle East, this book is as action-packed as it is entertaining.

Sit back and strap yourself in for an exhilarating ride to the sound barrier and beyond with Mac Tucker, an Australian fighter pilot and real life Top Gun.

Click here to buy Fighter Pilot from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

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

That military conflict is neither something to be proud of nor something to be entered into without serious cause. Killing people is not something to be politicised, spin doctored neither showcased nor socialised by the media – it is something to be abhorred by.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

I admire many men who live and have lived. Noah is one of my heroes because I despise group think – he and his family were the only people in the world to think the way they did.

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

I am hoping to at least sell one copy of my book (thanks Grandma). I am also working on a project at the moment to fly around Australia from pub to pub in an aircraft run on used fish and chip oil – my goal is to live through that one.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Just grow some and start – I spent years worrying about whether I could write…for what? I still can’t! And don’t ever send a manuscript to a crazy mate who is an author…he just might forward it on to the publisher :o

Serge, thank you for playing.

Oh, Sh*t, It’s the Olympics… Five Books to Help You Get Your Olympics On… by Andrew Cattanach

What’s going on you ask? You’re watching morning TV and the newsreader is reporting on the weather in Perth from a London bus. Uncle Toby’s ads are on every 16 seconds. The local paper is selling boxing kangaroo badges and Laurie Lawrence is doing a speaking tour. Yes Booktopians, the Olympics are nearly upon us.

A show of global unity for some, national disunity for others, the Olympics are an insight into the uncompromising dreams of over 10,000 people, each one yearning for their own chance at immortality.

Here are five of my favourite books to get you into the spirit and accompany you on your journey from qualification to Olympic Gold.

Olympic Gold

A sensational book for the enthusiast and the amateur alike, Olympic Gold is a beautifully set out book detailing Australia’s 74 individual Olympic gold medallists.

From Edwin Flack to Lydia Lassila, filled with quotes and events details along with wonderful writing giving each athlete their appropriate dues, Olympic Gold is a great place to start when examining the incredible success Australia has had in Olympic competition, much to the disbelief of so many larger, more populous nations.

Buy Olympic Gold

The Complete Book of the Olympics : 2012 Edition

Once you’ve got a feel for the majesty of the Australian Olympic tilt throughout the years, revel in this incredible collection of stories, statistics, rules and results for every event in the London Olympics.

It also contains the top eight finishers in every Summer Olympic events since 1896. This book is just amazing. And at over 1300 pages, Booktopia’s flat rate of $6.50 postage per order (not per book, as some people think) looks pretty appetizing for a mountain of a book, hey folks?

An absolute must for London 2012.

Buy The Complete Book of the Olympics : 2012 Edition

The Secret Olympian

Let’s face it. New Idea, OK Magazine and the like run off the shelves for a reason. We love gossip. And there’s no more unknown world than the Athlete’s village.

The Secret Olympian brings in the sordid tales from the village from many of the world’s greatest athletes, anonymously of course which only illustrates the gravity of the stories within these pages. Tales of sex, drugs, boozing and, well there’s a lot of sex people. It’s like Fifty Shades of Grey but with six packs instead of whipped backs.

A great read you won’t be able to put down.

Buy The Secret Olympian

The Dirtiest Race in History

Every Olympics even the most apathetic spectator will turn their head for one event. The 100m sprint. As if harking back to more primal, tribal days, the 100m sprint is a measure of physical excellence few disciplines can match.

Think about it, what would you risk to be named the fastest human being on the planet, perhaps even in the history of the human race? Ben Johnson asked himself that question in the summer of 1988, and the world of athletics changed forever.

The Dirtiest Race in History is a fantastic read and a must for anyone who ponders where the line of ethics and morality in sport, as in life, begins and ends. A study of history and sport like few others.

Buy The Dirtiest Race in History

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

There are two certainties during an Olympics.

One, Bruce McAvaney will call at least 128 different athletes ‘special’.

Two, watching those human gazelles roar across the track will have you thinking about dusting off your Dunlop Volleys and hitting the local pavement.

Whether you’re a Murakami fan or not (I am) or whether you’re a runner or not (I try my best not to be), What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a great book about the famous writer falling in love with running and the joy it brings. Part training diary, part essay collection, part memoir, Murakami’s passion radiates from every page and his writing is as perceptive and witty as ever.

Buy What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

And there it is, five books to put you on track for Olympic glory. Enjoy, and let’s bring on London.


Click here to read all of Andrew’s Posts. Click here to follow Andrew on twitter.

Editor: Ahem… Andrew, you forgot one.


by Chris Cleave

I am reading this at the moment and so far it is ace.

Blurb: The extraordinary new novel from the author of international bestseller THE OTHER HAND.

Usually, this is where we’d tell you what this book is about.

But with Chris Cleave, it’s a bit different.

Because if you’ve read THE OTHER HAND or INCENDIARY, you’ll know that what his books are about is only part of the story – what really matters is how they make you feel.

GOLD is about the limits of human endurance, both physical and emotional.

It will make you cry.

GOLD is about what drives us to succeed – and what we choose to sacrifice for success.

It will make you feel glad to be alive.

GOLD is about the struggles we all face every day; the conflict between winning on others’ terms, and triumphing on your own.

It will make you count your blessings.

GOLD is a story told as only Chris Cleave could tell it. And once you begin, it will be a heart-pounding race to the finish.

In the end, if all else fails, you can just Buy Gold

Thank you, Margaret Mahy

I don’t recall much happening in the small town in NZ where I grew up, but I do remember the day that Margaret Mahy visited my primary school. I have no idea how old I was but I do have a vivid memory of sitting very quietly in our small library, absolutely enthralled, while a woman with a rainbow coloured wig, a brightly coloured cardigan and some sort of toy bird (it was either in the wig or perched on her shoulder) read one of her books to us.

Thank you, Margaret Mahy

By Hayley Holland

R.I.P. Margaret Mahy 21 March 1936 – 23 July 2012

James Foley, author/illustrator of In the Lion, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

James Foley

author/illustrator of In the Lion

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, raised and schooled in Perth, Western Australia. For the first 25 or so years of my life, I lived with my family in an old house that was originally built by my great-grandparents. Four generations have lived in the house over the last 80 years. It’s also next door to the maternity hospital I was born in, so for a while I didn’t go very far in life.

I went to primary school at Our Lady of Fatima and high school at Christian Brothers College. I studied journalism, graphic design and primary teaching at Curtin University, and finally finished a degree in community psychology at the University of Notre Dame.

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 cartoonist, because I loved drawing and making up funny stories.

When I was 18 I wanted a cool car and for girls to like me. I also still wanted to be a cartoonist, but I was going to uni to study for a ‘real job’.

I turn 30 this year, and I have been a cartoonist and illustrator for a while now. I have a wonderful girlfriend. But I haven’t got a very cool car.

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

That I needed a cool car.

Also, that being a writer/illustrator wasn’t a real job. It’s now a very real job to me!

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 an illustrator?

Can I say three creators instead?

Sunshine & Moonlight by Jan Ormerod- my first picture books. These books are completely wordless and the narratives are still so strong- they showed me how important pictures are in telling stories.

The Eleventh Hour & Animalia by Graeme Base- two books that showed me how much art and detail could be packed into books. I read these over and over.

The Lost Thing, The Rabbits and The Red Tree by Shaun Tan. These books came out when I was in my teens. They showed me the power that picture books could have.

5. Considering the innumerable avenues open to visual artists, why did you choose to illustrate books?

It’s something I always did as a child, I was always writing and illustrating my own stories. I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time. The first story I remember writing, as a first grader, was about a lion in a jungle. He’d stepped on a thorn and it was stuck in his paw. Then down the path came a podiatrist. He stopped to take the thorn out of the lion’s paw, the lion was eternally grateful, and they were best friends forever. The End. My teachers thought it was hilarious; I just thought it was perfectly reasonable, as my Dad is a podiatrist.

6. Please tell us about your latest published work…

In The Lion is my second book, and the first that I’ve both written and illustrated.

It’s a black comedy for kids.

A young boy visits the zoo with his family, only to find an enormous lion is swallowing everything and everyone it can. Only the boy has the courage to stand his ground and stop the lion.

The text is cumulative, like the Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly- only in this case, it’s a lion instead of an old lady.

Click here to order In the Lion from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book shop

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

I hope kids will feel a little bit scared- but a fun kind of scared. And I hope they’ll get some good laughs out of trying to predict the next person or animal to be part of the lion’s dinner (as well as remembering the pattern of those already swallowed).

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

Shaun Tan. His work is incredibly powerful, and accessible to kids as well as adults. He has raised the standard of art and narrative in picture books. He’s also very inspiring as he grew up in the same city as me, and has achieved so many amazing things in his career so far.

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

I’d like to get another book published! Aside from that… I’d like to earn a Children’s Book Council of Australia award. I’d like to direct an animated film based on one of my stories. I’d like to run workshops at national and international festivals. I’d like to use my skills to help out communities in Australia and in developing countries. I’d like to be 80 years old and still loving what I do, and enjoying the thought that my books would have impacted on the lives of kids.

10. What advice do you give aspiring illustrators?

I wish I could give a magic piece of advice that would make everything happen for aspiring illustrators… unfortunately my advice is the most pithy and simple- practice. Practice Practice Practice. But do it for the fun of it. When you enjoy it, your best work will come.

Don’t worry about developing a style (that comes by itself with experimentation), don’t worry about being ‘good enough’ (who’s to say when you’ll reach that point? Just keep having fun), don’t worry about whether it ‘looks right’ (if it looks ‘right enough’ then that’s okay). Just practice and have fun and take risks, and with a bit of luck it will work out.

James, thank you for playing.

Click here to order In the Lion from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book shop

The first thirty customers to order In the Lion will receive an awesome In the Lion bag. See the pic below.

How cool is that? Roar!

REVIEW: Paving the New Road : A Rowland Sinclair Novel by Sulari Gentill (Review by Sarah McDuling)

The only thing better than discovering a new series of books is realising that the author is not going to make you wait too long for the next instalment.

Having been introduced to Sulari Gentill’s Rowland Sinclair novels earlier this year with Miles off Course, and then devouring books one and two with all the gusto of a confirmed historical fiction addict, I was pretty much ecstatic when I realised that book four, Paving the New Road, was due to be released in August this year. My reaction to this news was not quiet. It was not calm. It may have involved a spontaneous happy dance. Imagine a hyper active child being told that Christmas will be coming twice in one year and you might then begin to grasp my level of excitement.

Paving the New Road sees Rowland Sinclair and his band of bohemian eccentrics back in full force. For those unfamiliar with this series, Rowland “Rowly” Sinclair is Gentleman/Playboy Adventurer/Artist/Amateur Detective. Now, as of Paving the New Road he can also add “International Spy” to his already impressive list of accomplishments.

Wherever Rowly goes (in this instance, Nazi Germany) he is accompanied by his entourage – Clyde the landscape painter/staunch Communist, Milton the flamboyant poet and Edna the dazzlingly beautiful sculptress. Having been sent to Germany in the capacity of unofficial spies, Rowly and his friends soon find themselves knee deep in intrigue and subterfuge. The best part about all this is that none of them are even remotely qualified for the role of “secret agent”. They approach the mission almost as though it were a game and their unorthodox methods are both refreshingly original and highly entertaining. Together, Rowly and his friends take a ride on the Orient Express, masquerade as German soldiers, accidentally aid in the escape of a German Communist and become involved in an underground network of Anti Nazi activists. And at the heart of the mystery that slowly begins to unfold is a sad and fragile girl named Eva…

Much like the first three books in the series, Paving the New Road is a light and charming read full of adventure and humour. This book is pure fun. Better yet, it is consistently clever. One of the best aspects of this series is the imaginative way in which the author plays with the historical setting. Gentill is a master at seamlessly weaving real historical figures into her plot. This can be a dangerous conceit when not handled properly. The appearance of a well-known historical figure in a work of fiction can often be the kiss of death, breaking the spell of make-believe by pushing the reader’s credulity too far. Luckily, Gentill knows just how to blend fact and fiction together in a way that is not only completely believable but so delightfully inventive as to provide endless treats for history buffs.

Fans of television’s Underberlly: Razor will be tickled by cameo appearances from notorious Sydney madam Tilly Devine and gangster Phil “The Jew” Jeffs. Similarly, Rowly & Co. are flown to Germany by none other than famous Australian aviator Charles Kingsford Smith – a journey that takes an astonishing 14 days and sees them crossing paths with author William Somerset Maugham.

Other notable historical figures that play key roles in Paving the New Road include German Communist Party member Hans Beimler as well as notorious British aristocrat and Nazi sympathiser Unity “Lady Bobo” Mitford. Gentill is in top form when writing Mitford, who leaps off the page in all her horrifying glory. This is a woman who stalked Hitler like a crazed fan-girl before eventually becoming his mistress. Described by Rowly as “a lunatic, from what appeared to be a family of lunatics” Mitford only makes a few brief appearances in the novel, however, they are memorable for being almost as hilarious as they are disturbing.

By far my favourite guest star, however, is the indomitable Nancy Wake. Anyone who has not already read Wake’s memoir, The White Mouse,will be rushing for a copy after finishing Paving the New Road. The novel is set before the outbreak of WWII when Wake was working as a journalist, however, Gentill imbues her character with so much sparkling vim and vigour than one can easily see how she ends up becoming a kickass lady-spy, fighting Nazis with the French Resistance.

When all is said and done, I cannot recommend the Rowland Sinclair novels enough. Paving the New Road is the most entertaining instalment yet in what was already a great series. Anyone with a taste for classic crime writers like Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh is bound to fall in love with Rowland Sinclair. And with the success of the recent television adaptation of Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series, I’m hoping (i.e. seriously considering starting an Internet petition) that it won’t be too long before we see a Rowland Sinclair miniseries.

In the meantime, I rest easy in the knowledge that Sulari Gentill is currently averaging two books a year and that it won’t be long before I find out what Rowly and his friends get up to next.

Review by Sarah McDuling

Click here to buy Paving the New Road

Find The Rowland Sinclair Novels here

Click here to read an extract from Paving the New Road.

Read Sarah’s review of Miles Off Course here

Five Great Books A Literary Woman Can Give To Her Fella With Confidence by Andrew Cattanach

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. What hogwash. To say we both share the same galaxy is an appallingly optimistic assumption.

Since the dawn of time men have struggled to break free of the shackles of ordinary life. We want to be allowed to do things we enjoy, like getting drunk or chasing frogs. Just as women have yearned for space away from male madness so they can talk about Florence and the Machine and opening a furniture reupholstering store. (Don’t hit me!)

The difference is only widened within the world of literature. Whilst one of my favourite books of all time is the ground breaking Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, I must also confess I would pick up Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson with a similar amount of enthusiasm.

So ladies, from a bloke, here’s my top five books to give to your fella. I assure you this collection will open his mind to a more sensitive world of literature and in due course, with the right amount of nourishment, he’ll be quoting passages of Pride and Prejudice with the best of them.

Less Than Zero

by Bret Easton Ellis

Words can’t describe how incredible this book is. Within its folds is a portrait of youth, excess and alienation the like of which may never be seen again.

In 1985 a 21 year-old Bret Easton Ellis submitted it to be published while still in college and it stands as the most striking example of what his writing is all about. Navigating through countless parties and heavy lunches, Easton Ellis turns a summer in LA in the 1980’s into a near horror story with his signature minimalist isolation of scenes and events.

It stands as a warning for what happens if you hang out with that guy who’s always wired in your Art History lecture, or a memory of when MTV used to play music. A must for a man who must begin to gravitate towards a book that evokes the emotions, and lets be honest, this is an absolute belter of a novel.


The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

Consistently talked about as one of the finest novels of the last decade, Cormac McCarthy’s apocalyptic masterpiece was inspired by his 11 year-old son and the sacred relationship between father and child.

A consistent source of male blubbering everywhere, the harrowing tale of survival against all odds is extraordinary and can turn even the most stony faced man into a deep puddle of emotions.

A wonderful novel with an incredible insight into the human condition in the most alien of surroundings.


High Fidelity

by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby’s opus is still a great read, even if the hipster crowd described in the book as an underground movement has now begun to take over the world one chai latte at a time.

Relevant to all men and an insight into the strange male creature for women, Hornby’s humour and monologues on life, love and Peter Frampton are a joy, and an engrossing neurotic journey ensues with just the right amount of relationship ups and downs to shine a mirror onto the fickle mistress that is the male brain.


A Fortunate Life

by A.B. Facey

Make no mistake, to open a jar you sometimes need to give it a thump, and for a bloke no book hits the nail harder on hardship, loss, friendship and love than this incredible memoir from AB Facey.

Rest assured, many young boys were told to read this at school when they wore short pants and perhaps they’ll find, as I did, that under duress the amazing events of Facey’s life don’t seem as iridescent as now, in the light of adulthood.

Facey taught himself to read and write at 14 and thank goodness he did, for without those life skills we would have never heard of his encounters with childhood poverty, war, droving, working on the railway, and boxing in a travelling tent. Yep, you heard me, boxing in a travelling tent.

I challenge you to find a bloke who doesn’t want to read about nomadic pugilism. A timeless classic and one of the greatest Australian books of all time.


Portnoy’s Complaint

by Phillip Roth

Even the thought of this book makes me laugh. A guilty pleasure for young men the world over, Phillip Roth’s 1969 classic is painfully funny. I’ve never laughed out loud more than when reading this novel, and I suggest not giving it to your bloke while on public transport lest people think you’re sitting next to a crazy person.

In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Portnoy’s Complaint 52nd on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century and rightly so. Rude, crude, bereft of ambivalent attitudes, words just can’t describe how wonderfully perverse and brilliant this novel is. It stands alone as a portrait of an odd young man saying everything on his mind.

As an odd young man myself I can assure you, it’s a frightening proposition.


So there it is. Give your fella one of these, or preferably all five, and he’ll be putty in your literary hands, ready to explore emotions and shoes at your beck and call.

Click here to read all of Andrew’s Posts. Click here to follow Andrew on twitter.

L.A. Larkin, author of Thirst and The Genesis Flaw, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

L.A. Larkin

author Thirst and The Genesis Flaw

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 England and emigrated to Australia in 1998. I remember the headmistress of my secondary school – a scary old bat who wore a black academic gown and had a hook instead of a hand – telling me that I wasn’t very good at creative writing. Nothing like a nice bit of encouragement! She would be surprised to learn that I studied Literature, and graduated with honours, at the University of London’s Royal Holloway College. She would be shocked that I then went on to be awarded a merit scholarship for academic excellence from The University of Sydney, and would no doubt pass out on the floor if she knew I now have two published thrillers under my belt. The moral of the story? Do what you love, and don’t listen to those who put you down.

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

At twelve, happy. At eighteen, rich. At thirty, fulfilled. As an author I am happy and fulfilled, so two out of three isn’t bad!

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

At eighteen I believed I could steer my life any way I wanted. I was in control. I now realise that all sorts of wonderful opportunities arise that I had never imagined and by taking those surprising opportunities I have met incredible people and been to amazing places.

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?

I am going to cheat here and say two authors influenced me most: Enid Blyton and Charles Dickens. Blyton’s books inspired a love of action and adventure stories, and Dickens opened my eyes to the power of engaging characters, as well as literature as social and political commentary.

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

Because novels take you away from your everyday life and worries into a world of fantasy, excitement and adventure. It’s a very personal imaginary world in which you see a character as you choose to see them, not as Hollywood or anyone else decides they should look. Novels allow us to get inside a character’s head, to know what they are thinking and feeling, and they offer the space for a complex and lengthy tale. Thrillers offer the biggest adventure of all: high stakes, brave hero, evil villain, terrible twists and shocking revelations. A roller-coaster ride of emotions.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

 Thirst is an action-packed, fast-paced thriller set in Antarctica on a remote Australian station. It is the tale of an unlikely hero who must survive against all odds to prevent a global catastrophe, and a father and son, whose ruthless thirst for power and wealth threatens the lives of billions.

I went to Antarctica to research Thirst and interviewed scientists about the premise of the story. I learned about crevasse rescue, Polar survival and even how to sew up a wound, as I wanted Antarctica to come alive through my book. But most important of all, I hope I have created characters who are engaging, not only because of what they do but because they learn something about themselves through the course of the book.

Click here to buy Thirst from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

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

I write stories to entertain but I also hope they will prompt discussion. All creative endeavour seeks to tell us about the human condition – who we are and how we interact with this world. Thrillers and crime fiction tend to touch on big political, social and, increasingly, environmental issues. Thirst raises questions about man’s exploitation of the planet and its resources, climate change, and the fragility of the Antarctic Treaty.

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

Again, I am going to cheat, and answer with three authors: John Le Carre, because he is a master craftsman, Robert Ludlum, because his work remains, in my opinion, the epitome of the conspiracy thriller, and Lee Child, who is a great story-teller and supportive of other writers.

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

Keep writing, keep selling. Oh and if a producer would like to turn Thirst into a movie, I wouldn’t say ‘no’!

10.  What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Do what you love, and don’t listen to those who put you down.

L.A. Thank you for playing.


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