And the winner of the 1000 Ultimate Series set is……

The Winner of the 1000 Ultimate Series set from the May Travel Buzz:

K.Smith, Endeavour Hills, Vic

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lonely-planet-s-1000-ultimate-adventures1000 Ultimate Adventures

Hankering to tackle a long-distance trek, or an icy mountain peak? 1000 Ultimate Adventures brings together activities and challenges to captivate and inspire gung-ho adventurers and armchair travellers alike. From the epic to the local, on land, sea or even in mid air, the offerings here will encourage you to dream, plan and set off on your own adventure. Explore the world!

  •     Enjoy panoramic views of Cape Town after scrambling to the top of Table Mountain
  •     Pedal your way across Vietnam from the rice paddies of the Mekong Delta to the highlands
  •     Swim between continents in the Bosphorus swim, Istanbul
  •     Rumble across the dunes on a camel safari in Rajasthan
  •     Take in sublime vistas on a circuit of Mont Blanc

Grab a copy of 1000 Ultimate Adventures here

lonely-planet-1000-ultimate-sights

1000 Ultimate Sights

Where do you start? Iconic buildings, awesome canyons, weird monuments, vast animal migrations, spooky dungeons and romantic vistas are just some of the man-made marvels and natural wonders in 1000 Ultimate Sights. Make your own list, hit the road, and start exploring the world’s most breathtaking sights.

  •     Natural phenomena, including the bubbling Pitch Lake of Trinidad
  •     Architectural masterpieces, including the ground-breaking Sagrada Família in Spain
  •     Wildlife spectacles, including the Elephant Gathering of Sri Lanka
  •     Historic sights, such as the magnifi cent ruins at Volubilis, Morocco
  •     Cultural icons, including the Giant Buddha of Leshan, China

Grab a copy of 1000 Ultimate Sights here

 

lonely-planet-s-1000-ultimate-experiences-1st-edition1000 Ultimate Experiences

Want to know where the greatest markets are or the best value destinations? 1000 Ultimate Experiences brings together 1000 ideas, places and activities to inspire and entertain for travellers and lovers of life-lists alike. Get inspired and start ticking off those boxes of places you’ve always wanted to see and things you’ve always wanted to do. Who knows where you’ll end up!

  •     Sleep under the stars in a Bedouin tent in Jordan
  •     Find out the best beaches to swing a hammock
  •     Jump on board the Ghan for a trip through Australia’s remote Red Centre
  •     Spot Banksy’s art in Bristol
  •     Come on, get happy in Bhutan

Grab a copy of  1000 Ultimate Experiences here


Congratulations to the winners!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

What Cathryn Read – The May Round Up (by bestselling author Cathryn Hein)

Popular Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of Rocking Horse Hill, Heartland and more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

I had a slow reading month and didn’t get as many books read as I would have liked, but those I did read were excellent. Some made me cry. Always good! Unless it’s on public transport…

Here’s what I’ve read this month:


Marina

by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I’m a total Ruiz Zafón fan girl. I thought nothing would overtake The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game as my favourite Zafóns but Marina has. The moment I finished all I wanted was to read it again. Set it a wonderfully evoked Barcelona, Marina tells the story of young Oscar Drai and his relationship with the mysterious and beautiful Marina. Together they uncover one of the city’s darkest secrets. With Gothic horror, love, adventure and truly gorgeous writing, this held me captive from the opening page. Brilliant.

Grab a copy of Marina here


Outback Blaze

by Rachael Johns

Johns has done it again with another delightful tale from Bunyip Bay. Her knack for detailing the warmth and bonds (and sometimes failings) of small rural communities has been proven in previous tales like Jilted, Man Drought and Outback Dreams, but in Outback Blaze the Bay and its workings are drawn even more vividly. Nothing like a mysterious fire to bring a town together and the gossipmongers out! Drew, the local policeman with a secret, and Ruby, a woman carrying her own heavy past, are adorable characters that I loved from the get-go and it was huge fun to follow them on their journey to happiness. Heart-warming rural romance with a nice touch of mystery.

 Grab a copy of Outback Blaze here


Being Jade

by Kate Belle

I was fortunate enough to score an advance review copy of Being Jade and am so thrilled I did. What a book!

I thoroughly enjoyed Belle’s debut, The Yearning, but this is even more accomplished. The story is cleverly written from alternating point of views, swapping between poor, dead Banjo and his daughter Lissy as they try to unravel the truth behind Banjo and Jade’s marriage. A riveting, complex and beautifully written tale of love, betrayal, tragedy, and the difference between love and sex. This book made me think. A lot. And snivel embarrassingly on the train. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

  Grab a copy of Being Jade here


The Perfect Wife 

by Katherine Scholes

Another author whose books are an auto-buy for me and The Perfect Wife didn’t disappoint.

Set in the late 40s in Tanganyika in East Africa, it follows young Australian woman Kitty Hamilton as she tries to live up to her husband Theo’s expectations of a proper wife. Scandal has forced Theo to take a government post in its groundnut scheme, far from his aristocratic roots, with the hope this new life will rebuild their marriage.

There is so much going on in The Perfect Wife: the power of art, the affects of war, class snobbery, the loss of dreams, colonialism, a subtle love story. All combining to create another sweeping Scholes read. Great stuff.

Grab a copy of The Perfect Wife here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.

Now living in Melbourne, Cathryn writes full-time.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

Rocking Horse Hill

by Cathryn Heinrocking-horse-hill

Who do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

Rocking Horse Hill is a moving family drama and passionate love story from the author of Heartland.

Grab a copy of Rocking Horse Hill Here

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure, in conversation with Caroline Baum

Little Failure

A Memoir

by Gary Shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart‘s loving but mismatched parents dreamed that he would become a lawyer, or at least an accountant, something their distracted son was simply not cut out to do. Fusing English and Russian, his mother created the term Failurchka-‘Little Failure’-which she applied to her son. With love. Mostly.

A candid and deeply poignant story of a Soviet family’s trials and tribulations, and of their escape in 1979 to the consumerist promised land of the USA, Little Failure is also an exceptionally funny account of the author’s transformation from asthmatic toddler in Leningrad to 40-something Manhattanite with a receding hairline and a memoir to write.

‘Gary Shteyngard delivers big time with Little Failure. Told with fearlessness, wisdom and the wit that you’d expect from one of America’s funniest novelists.’ Carl Hiaasen

About the Author

Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad in 1972. In 2007 he was named one of Granta’s Best Young American novelists. His debut The Russian Debutante’s Handbook was widely acclaimed (and won the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction), as were his second, Absurdistan (one of the 10 Best Books of the Year in the New York Times) and Super Sad True Love Story (which won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize). He writes regularly for the New Yorker.

Grab a copy of Little Failure here

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Writer and activist Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree, in conversation with Caroline Baum

Far from the Tree

by Andrew Solomon

Sometimes your child – the most familiar person of all – is radically different from you. The saying goes that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But what happens when it does?

In this seminal new study of family, Andrew Solomon tells the stories of parents who learn to deal with their exceptional children and find profound meaning in doing so.

He introduces us to families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, disability, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, Solomon documents repeated triumphs of human love and compassion to show that the shared experience of difference is what unites us.

Drawing on interviews with over three hundred families, Solomon documents ordinary people making courageous choices, whether considering prenatal screening for genetic disorders, cochlear implants for the deaf, or gender reassignment surgery.
Parents and children are challenged to their limits, but often grow closer as a result; many discover supportive communities of others similarly affected; some are inspired to become activists, celebrating the conditions they once feared.

Elegantly reported by a spectacularly original thinker, Far From The Tree explores themes of generosity, acceptance and tolerance – and shows how love for one’s children can transcend every prejudice. This crucial and revelatory book expands our definition of what it is to be human.

About the Author

Andrew Solomon is a writer and activist working on politics, culture and psychology. He writes regularly for The New Yorker, Newsweek, and The Guardian. He is a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Cornell University and Special Adviser on LGBT Affairs to Yale University’s Department of Psychiatry. The Noonday Demon won the 2001 National Book Award and was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize. His highly-acclaimed study of family, Far from the Tree won the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Non-fiction, the Lukas Book Prize and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, among others. He lives with his husband and son in New York and London.

Grab a copy of Far from the Tree here

What Do Women Want? Daniel Bergner thinks he has the answer…

What Do Women Want?

Adventures in the Science of Female Desire

by Daniel Bergner

Women are the monogamous sex.

Women crave intimacy and emotional connection.

Women don’t want sex with strangers.

Right?

Wrong.

Could ‘the fairer sex’ in fact be more sexually aggressive and anarchic than men?

In What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire, critically acclaimed journalist Daniel Bergner looks at the evidence. Recent research, he finds, dismantles the myths to reveal an unprecedented portrait of female lust: the triggers, the fantasies, the mind-body connection (and disconnection), the reasons behind the loss of libido and, most revelatory, that this loss is not inevitable.

About the Author

Daniel Bergner is a staff writer for the New York Times and the author of three books of nonfiction, The Other Side of Desire: Four Journeys into the Realms of Lust and Longing, In the Land of Magic Soldiers: A Story of White and Black in West Africa, a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year, and God of the Rodeo: The Quest for Redemption in Louisiana’s Angola Prison, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Bergner’s writing has also appeared in Granta, Harper’s, Mother Jones, Talk, New York Times Book Review, and on the op-ed page of the New York Times.

Grab a copy of Daniel Bergner’s What Do Women Want here

Groundbreaking author and poet Maya Angelou passes away aged 86

American author and poet Maya Angelou, a trailblazing voice on race and gender best known for her groundbreaking autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, has died at age 86 in North Carolina.

She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. She received dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences.

The first in a seven-volume series, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with their grandmother and ends when Maya becomes a mother at the age of 16.

Angelou transformed from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice.

Angelou summed up her approach to life by saying: “Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told, ‘I’m with you, kid. Let’s go.”

Her latest work, Mom & Me & Mom, about her mother and grandmother and what they taught her, was released last year.

US president Barack Obama called her “a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman”.

“With a kind word and a strong embrace, she had the ability to remind us that we are all God’s children; that we all have something to offer.”

Her poem Still I Rise remains one of the most powerful works of the twentieth century. Here it is.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

REVIEW: From a Distance by Raffaella Barker (Review by Terry Purcell)

Raffaella Barker is an established English writer whose latest novel From a Distance tells an engaging, heart-warming story commencing with war weary and battle scarred young soldier Michael finally returning to England from the Far East in the spring of 1946.

Instead of heading north to see his parents and fiancée, he heads south to Cornwall with no set plan other than to find a way disconnect from his six long years of war.
In Cornwall he is made welcome by strangers and quickly fits into an artists’ colony and finds new friends and work which helps to heal the emotional and mental scars inflicted by the war.

Barker’s post war Cornwall is a warm welcoming place full of interesting artistic people where the rigours of rationing and shortages seemingly have little impact on this remote and fertile part of England, all of which contributes to Michael’s recovery and his ultimate acceptance of the need to return to his parents and fiancée.

The author also introduces us to Luisa, her family of teenage children and teacher husband, in a small seaside town in Norfolk in May 2012.  Into her life, and that of her extended family, comes Kit, a wealthy bachelor who has just inherited a local redundant lighthouse.  Raffaella Barker

I like this book and particularly admire the clever yet believable way Barker seamlessly brings the several strands of the story together with a surprising yet heart-warming conclusion.

When preparing this review I happily re-read the book, something rare for me, yet doing so reminded me of this author’s ability to create warm and believable characters – it is a book for those who like engaging stories.  I look forward to reading some of the author’s earlier books which have just been re-issued.

Terry Purcell is a solicitor and was the founding director of the Law Foundation of NSW. He is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog.

Grab a copy of Raffaella Barker’s From a Distance here

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