Last chance to win a Hilary Mantel book pack and a signed copy of Gone Girl!

As September draws to a close we don’t want you to miss out on two amazing prizes you could win. Today is your last chance to win a beautiful Hilary Mantel book pack or a signed copy of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl!

Hilary Mantel and Gillian Flynn couldn’t be more different as writers, but they do share a couple of traits, both selling millions and millions of copies worldwide, and garnering nearly unanimous critical acclaim.

All you need to do is buy Hilary Mantel’s brilliant new book The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, or the film tie-in of Gillian Flynn’s gripping Gone Girl by the end of the day to go in the draws!

the-assassination-of-margaret-thatcher-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

by Hilary Mantel

Review by Caroline Baum

There’s a crisp no-nonsense tone to this collection of contemporary short stories by the woman many regard as the Queen of Historical Fiction.

Here Mantel proves she can shift from the world of royal ermine and Tudor palace intrigue to that of a twentieth century London sniper co-opting a window to take aim, an expat wife surprised by a visitor in a Saudi apartment block and a child remembering her first sighting of a not-quite-normal-looking baby.

Her writing is full of memorable descriptive observations: a girl with her hair tied in a ribbon slipped sideways so that ‘her head looked like a badly tied parcel’ .

Mantel deploys her prose with steely precision and briskness, like a very efficient matron. You are never left in any doubt as to who is the boss here and it is a wonderful experience to surrender control to her formidable talents.

Grab a copy of The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher here

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gone-girl-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-Gone Girl

by Gillian Flynn

THE ADDICTIVE No.1 BESTSELLER THAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT

Who are you? What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.

So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

Grab a copy of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl here

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Take a trip away with Cathy Kelly’s It Started with Paris

A new Cathy Kelly novel isn’t far away, with It Started with Paris sure to be another bestseller, a beautiful tale about love, friendship and facing your demons.

it-started-with-parisIt Started with Paris

by Cathy Kelly

It all started with Paris.

At the top of the Eiffel Tower, a young man proposes to his girlfriend, cheered on by delighted tourists. In that second, everything changes, not just for the happy couple, but for the family and friends awaiting their return in Bridgeport, Ireland…

Leila’s been nursing a badly broken heart since her love-rat husband just upped and left her one morning, but she’s determined to put on a brave face for the bride. Vonnie, a widow and exceptional cake-maker, is just daring to let love back into her life, although someone seems determined to stop it. And Grace, a divorced head teacher, finds the impending wedding of her son means that she’s spending more time with her ex-husband.

After all those years apart, is it possible she’s made a mistake? With her warmth and insight, Cathy Kelly weaves a delightful tale spinning out from a once-in-a-lifetime moment, drawing together a terrific cast of characters who feel like old friends. It Started With Paris is the sparkling new novel from Number 1 bestseller Cathy Kelly.

Grab a copy of Cathy Kelly’s It Started with Paris here

Congrats to the following Facebook fans who have won an uncorrected proof copy of It Started with Paris. Please email your details to promos@booktopia.com.au and we’ll get your copies out to you ASAP!

Amanda Smoothy, Colleen Duerkop, Bernie Curtain, Steffi O’Brien, Lisa-Marie Ford, Stevie Lee, Taylor-Jane Bennett, Christina Bawden, Deborah Barry, Alison Armstrong

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: The Incompetent Cook with Matt Moran, author of Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook

Matt Moran is one of Australia’s favourite chefs. From his humble upbringing on a dairy farm, he now runs one of Australia’s finest restaurants, ARIA, and hosts one of the biggest shows on TV, From Paddock to Plate on The Lifestyle Channel. But can he teach The Incompetent Cook a thing or two from his new book Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook?

Grab a copy of Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook here

Grab a copy of Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook here

matt-s-kitchen-garden-cookbook-order-your-signed-copy-Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook

by Matt Moran

Acclaimed chef Matt Moran shares his passion for local produce with this stunning collection of recipes.

Inspired by the market garden at his Sydney restaurant Chiswick, as well as time spent visiting producers all around Australia for his TV series Paddock to Plate, Matt dishes up a mouth-watering selection of recipes with this trademark deft touch and winning flavour combinations. Try the fresh, palate-sharpening pickled vegetables and dukkah or seared kingfish with radish, avocado and wasabi to start with, then tuck into slow-cooked lamb with hummus, tomato salad and mint salsa.

For sweet treats, look no further than apricot and rosemary tarts or berries and meringue with passionfruit curd.

About the Author

Matt Moran is the executive chef and co-owner of the award-winning ARIA restaurant, which enjoys one of the most enviable reputations and locations in Sydney, overlooking the Sydney Opera House and the harbour. In 2009 he opened a second ARIA restaurant, in Brisbane, in another stunning waterfront location on Eagle Street Pier. In 2012 Matt opened the doors to CHISWICK, in Sydney’s leafy Woollahra. The heart of the restaurant is the kitchen garden, where much of the restaurant’s produce is grown.

While Matt’s main focus remains his restaurants, he displays his passion for cooking in TV shows MasterChef, Junior MasterChef, The Chopping Block, My Restaurant Rules and Heat in the Kitchen. He is the author of three bestselling cookbooks, Matt Moran, When I Get Home and Dinner At Matt’s.

Grab a copy of Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook here

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Fiona O’Loughlin to feature on #AustralianStory on #ABCTV

me-of-the-never-neverFiona O’Loughlin emerged out of Alice Springs some thirteen years ago as a ‘fully formed’ 36 year old stand up comedy sensation.

She wowed local and international audiences with unconventional stories of raising five children in the outback.

Then after collapsing on stage in Brisbane, she confessed she was an alcoholic. But behind the scenes, the drinking got worse.

On Australian Story tonight, Ms O’Loughlin and those closest to her candidly confront the darkest demons of an issue that has famously bedevilled many male comedians, but is less acknowledged by women in the public eye.

Grab a copy of Fiona O’Loughlin’s memoir Me of the Never Never here

Grab a copy of Fiona O’Loughlin’s memoir Me of the Never Never here

me-of-the-never-neverMe of the Never Never

by Fiona O’Loughlin

‘Nothing turns out as you plan, I guess; but I often think if I’d gone to a fortune teller when I was at school and been told I’d marry a guy who makes false teeth, move to Alice Springs, have five kids and become a standup comedian; well, I would have been surprised to say the least.’

Fiona O Loughlin is certainly the funniest (and possibly one of the busiest) working mothers in Australia today: a stand-up comedian based in Alice Springs and Adelaide, she is on the road for most of the year, doing live performances, plus regular television appearances. Fiona has also had successful shows at the Edinburgh and Adelaide fringe festivals, the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

This book contains her stories funny and sometimes sad about her upbringing as part of a large Irish-Catholic family on a wheat farm in South Australia, her chaotic and disorganised family life ever since, living in Alice Springs and making it as a stand-up comedian. She also talks of a darker side of the life of many performers alcohol.

This book is for anyone who likes to laugh (and cry), who wants to read about a woman living her life on her terms.

Grab a copy of Fiona O’Loughlin’s memoir Me of the Never Never here

BOOK REVIEW: Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant (Review by Caroline Baum)

It’s not just the fact that this novel is set at my university in the north of England that makes me love it. It’s Grant’s superb ability to capture the feeling of the times in this terrifically authentic story about student life, especially the first awkward foray into relationships, friendships, infatuations and other uneasy human manoeuvrings on the road to self-awareness.

Personalities are tried on like clothes, and discarded just as easily. The same goes for identities. Class, intellect, sex appeal and success become increasingly significant markers together with envy and popularity. Mental illness hovers on the periphery, its dark presence prompting tragedy, together with inevitable guilt and regret.

Many readers will recognise something of their student selves in these psychologically acute pages. Grant creates utterly believable, three-dimensional characters with the same clear-eyed wisdom as Margaret Drabble before her.

Grab a copy of Upstairs at the Party here

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Caroline Baum has worked as founding editor of Good Reading magazine, features editor for Vogue, presenter of ABC TV’s popular bookshow, Between the Lines, and Foxtel’s Talking Books, and as an executive producer with ABC Radio National. She is currently Booktopia’s Editorial Director.

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upstairs-at-the-partyUpstairs at the Party

by Linda Grant

The brilliant new novel from the Man Booker shortlisted author of The Clothes on Their Backs

‘If you go back and look at your life there are certain scenes, acts, or maybe just incidents on which everything that follows seems to depend. If only you could narrate them, then you might be understood. I mean the part of yourself that you don’t know how to explain.’

In the early Seventies a glamorous and androgynous couple known collectively as Evie/Stevie appear out of nowhere on the isolated concrete campus of a new university. To a group of teenagers experimenting with radical ideas they seem blown back from the future, unsettling everything and uncovering covert desires. But the varnished patina of youth and flamboyant self-expression hides deep anxieties and hidden histories. For Adele, with the most to conceal, Evie/Stevie become a lifelong obsession, as she examines what happened on the night of her own twentieth birthday and her friends’ complicity in their fate. A set of school exercise books might reveal everything, but they have been missing for nearly forty years. From summers in Cornwall to London in the twenty-first century, long after they have disappeared, Evie/Stevie go on challenging everyone’s ideas of what their lives should turn out to be.

Grab a copy of Upstairs at the Party here

BOOK REVIEW: Hitler’s Last Witness: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Bodyguard by Rochus Misch (Review by Kate Forsyth)

9781925106107Anyone who is fascinated and troubled by Adolf Hitler and his actions will find much to interest them in this memoir written by one of his bodyguards, Rochus Misch. The Führer’s bodyguards accompanied him everywhere, and so were witnesses to many secret meetings and communications. Those hoping for insights into the psychology of Hitler will be disappointed.Misch was chosen as his bodyguard because he knew how to keep his head down, and his ears and eyes shut. He repeats several times that he was chosen because he was someone ‘who would give no trouble.’

Misch is not a natural writer. His style is dry and clipped and to the point (at times I could almost hear his German accent!) Nonetheless, much of his narrative is riveting, particularly as the Germans begin to lose the war and the Führer and his inner circle take up residence in a concrete bunker deep beneath the city. Misch must accompany them, leaving his wife and baby daughter to the mercies of the attacking Russians. He witnesses Hitler’s marriage to his long-time mistress, Evan Braun, and then the murder of the six Goebbels children by their mother. At this action, his matter-of-tone manner breaks down and his real anguish breaks through. ‘The most dreadful thing I experienced in the bunker was not his death. The worst thing was the killing of these children’. Misch was in the bunker till the bitter end, witnessing Hitler and his bride’s suicide and the final admission of defeat by the Nazi generals. His reward for his loyalty was to end up in the Russian torture chambers.

One of the most interesting things about the book is Misch’s unswerving loyalty to Hitler, and the painting of one of the world’s most vicious mass murderers as a normal man and ‘a wonderful boss.’

Grab a copy of Rochus Misch’s Hitler’s Last Witness: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Bodyguard here


Kate FKate Forsyth is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than twenty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both children and adults.

She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite Novelists, coming in at No 16. She has been called one of ‘the finest writers of this generation”, and “quite possibly … one of the best story tellers of our modern age.’

Click here to see Kate’s author page

Kat Spears, author of Sway, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Kat Spears

author of Sway

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 Sweden, moved around a lot as a kid, and did not have an illustrious academic career. In fact, if you were to tell one of my old high school teachers I managed to make it through graduate school they would call you a liar outright. I enjoyed dropping out of school so much that I did it a few times–high school twice, college twice.

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

 I wanted to be a writer for just about as long as I can remember, and before I learned to write, I was a storyteller. After I saw Indiana Jones when I was seven or eight years old (which now seems horribly inappropriate that my parents would let me see that movie at that age) I wanted to be an archaeologist, and I do have a fall-back career in the museum field. When I was eighteen I wanted to be a museum curator/archaeologist and I pursued that path for a while. I love to write, I love museums, I love art and history, but strangely I discovered over a long career that the one job that never bored me, never frustrated me, and I never wanted to give up…was bartending. I love everything about it. Every day is different. You meet all kinds of interesting people and never can anticipate what craziness might ensue. I eavesdrop on people’s personal stories (people will say some astonishing things within earshot of a bartender) that later become fodder for my novels. I love the pace, the fact that the work can be very physically demanding, and the intense contact with other people. Finding a way to get along with every human you meet is an interesting challenge, one that never gets old to me.

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

That I’m smarter than anyone else.

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?

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson had an enormous impact on me as a young reader. And I still cry every time I read that book. I sometimes read the last two chapters just if I want to have a sob fest—seriously, nose running, tears streaming down my face, hiccoughing. Paterson is a brilliant writer and the world is a better place because she wrote books for kids instead of adults.

As far as music is concerned that is an insanely tough question to answer. I listen to music almost constantly—at work, as I write, in the car, whenever I have to walk anywhere. My books all have soundtracks because different music sets different moods for me to write each story. I keep the playlists on Spotify under Spotify/katbooks.com. Each book I have written or am writing has its own playlist. I even do playlists for some of the characters and will listen to their playlists when I am crafting dialogue for them. Carter Goldsmith, a secondary character in Sway, has amazing taste in music. Jesse ,the protagonist in Sway, tends to like music that features a strong or distinctive guitar sound like The Stooges or Django Reinhardt because he plays guitar. I know. Jesse and Carter don’t really exist. I get that. But it helps with the creative process.

 5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?95996243

I didn’t choose to write a novel. It chose me. I have written many things in my life—grants, exhibit text, newsletter articles, term papers (blech), business letters,—that all have some personal or professional purpose. My fiction is very different. Isaac Asimov once said, “I write for the same reason I breathe; if I didn’t, I would die.” (Or something similar to that sentiment but perhaps with better punctuation. I do have a copy editor for my books.) I remember reading that quote when I was in my late teens or early twenties and realizing for the first time that there were other people who felt exactly the way I did about writing. An important revelation.

My ideas for stories hatch fully formed from my brain like Venus from the clam shell. After that it takes me a while to get to know my characters as people, so I can understand their personalities and motivations. They live in my head for a while until I am ready to put them on paper, but they are as real to me as an old friend who lives on the other side of the country who I just don’t see very often.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel

Humans are complicated, always a mixture of good and bad—never all good or all bad. I like characters that are ambiguously heroic and that definitely describes the main character in Sway.

Jesse, the protagonist in Sway, is an antihero. He doesn’t just seem like a complete jerk, he is one (this has made several people very unhappy, I’ve noticed from reviews). At first glance, Jesse has very few redeeming qualities. But he’s a loyal friend, treats everyone exactly the same regardless of race or income level or gender, and is smart.

When we meet Jesse he has closed himself off emotionally from the rest of the world, but an unlikely friendship with a boy who has cerebral palsy, and the experience of Jesse’s first love with a girl, creates serious conflict for him as he tries to maintain his cool and the empire he has built as the go-to guy who deals drugs and fake IDs and term papers in his high school.

I love Jesse. Some of his best qualities are so hidden, many people don’t notice them. For example, his best friend is a girl named Joey who happens to be a lesbian. Throughout the book if Jesse is asked whether he and Joey have a romantic relationship he says no, claiming that Joey is too crazy for any guy to date. Jesse makes a point of never outing Joey because it is no one else’s business that she’s gay. He acts like a jerkwad by calling his best friend crazy and unstable and suggesting that girls like that are impossible to date, but at the same time he does it to protect Joey’s privacy. So? Is he good or bad? Ummmm…both.

Coming out next year from St. Martin’s and in the works now is Flat Back Four. I’m a big football fan, hence the title, and the four main characters all play for the same team. This story is about friendship and how fragile it is. After Jason, the protagonist, experiences the death of his younger sister, he’s left to question the ties that bind him to his three closest friends, who he has always relied on as his surrogate family. I’ve moved many times in my life and some friendships last forever while others fade away. I liked exploring what makes the difference between a lifetime friendship and a friendship that exists only in a specific time and place.

Grab a copy of Kat’s novel Sway here

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

When I was about 20 years old I read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. It had a profound impact on me because it was the first time in my life I loved a book, couldn’t put it down in fact, when I didn’t like or even sympathize with the main character. Ignatius Reilly was such a reprehensible human being—absolutely repugnant. Yet Toole’s writing was so grand and masterful, his ability to perfectly capture a character and paint him as clearly as an artist does on a canvas just amazed me. And here’s the thing, the fact that I hated Ignatius Reilly as much as I did, was because of Toole’s writing ability. A good writer can evoke strong emotional reactions from readers. It dawned on me then, that even if the main character was a complete jerk, the brilliance of John Kennedy Toole was that his writing was so compelling, so captivating, that I had to keep reading even when it made me sick to my stomach, or angry and frustrated.

I am in no way comparing my writing ability to Toole’s. He was masterful and spent a decade writing Confederacy, but it was one of those light bulb moments in my life I will never forget. I could die happy if someone ever walked away after reading a book of mine and had a huge emotional reaction like I did to A Confederacy of Dunces.

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

I have to say that I have a huge amount of respect for Meg Medina (author of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass). The first time I met Meg was at a writers’ group and she was telling everyone that she had finally worked up the courage to tell her mom what the title of her latest book was, though I’m pretty sure you can even say “ass” on television now. (Can I say “ass” in this interview?) Meg is incredibly supportive of the careers of other authors and makes the time to have genuine connections with the people who read her books. Meg spends a lot of time and energy advocating for diversity in children’s literature—diversity of authors and diversity of book characters. After all, everyone needs books, and young adults want to feel as if they can recognize themselves in the pages of the books they read, or find role models in the authors who write them. Diversity isn’t just about race—it can be religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or a hundred other factors. That’s one of the reasons I love Tom Angleberger’s book The Poop Fountain1) because he entitled it “Poop Fountain” which is awesome, and 2) because he wasn’t afraid to populate the book with unlikely heroes and heroines for middle grade literature. It also helps that he is hilarious. The great thing about this book is that the characters are diverse, but the book isn’t about diversity. It’s about a poop fountain, and that is as it should be.

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

 My goal is for each book I write to be better than the last I wrote. Writing is a craft, not a God-given talent. I hope I can learn from the process and develop as an artist. My editor, Sara Goodman, is amazing. She has a great feel for characters and plot development and after working with her on Sway I feel like I am better able to see the shortcomings in my writing while I’m in the process. I may not know how to fix it on my own, but after a conversation with Sara it will help to shake things loose from my brain, help me to see how the story could be better, the characters more three dimensional. And sometimes the changes are very subtle but can have an enormous impact on the story.

I look back on Sway now that it has been finished for some time and there are things I wish I could change, though overall I am happy with it. The changes I would make are mostly very minor, but I learned a great deal from the editorial process and it makes me eager to grow in this profession.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

I always say the best advice I can give, is never take any advice from me. But if I had to give advice I would say…write. Write all the time. Write for yourself. Don’t worry whether anyone is ever going to want to read it or if it’s marketable or matches a current trend. Write because you love to write, not because you want to be rich or famous, because you have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than you do of being a famous author (I did not actually conduct any research to verify the accuracy of that statement). But most of all, instead of taking a class in writing, take a job working in a bowling alley, take a long train ride and watch the people around you, listen to the way people talk (really listen), make friends outside your race and socio-economic comfort zone, volunteer in a shelter for the homeless, attend a comic book convention…just do something. A lot of published, well-trained authors have not lived very interesting lives, and it shows in the stories they tell. Anyone can develop writing as a craft through the practice of writing and reading, but not everyone has a good story to tell.

Kat, thank you for playing.


Swaysway

by Kat Spears

In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or “Sway,” as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want – term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion – until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.

Grab a copy of Sway here

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