Welcome to Booktoberfest! Make yourself at home…

October at Booktopia means Booktoberfest.

So….what is Booktoberfest? Andrew Cattanach answers all your questions…


Hello everyone. Thanks for being here.

Firstly, thank you for coming to this Q&A about Booktoberfest. You, in the back, wearing lederhosen and drinking a 5L mug of beer, I think you’re in the wrong room.

Booktoberfest is Booktopia’s month long celebration of books, authors, publishers and of course you, the readers. It happens every October, the perfect time to take stock of the best titles of the year so far and also brace ourselves for the big Christmas titles.

And there are prizes. Soooooooooooooo many prizes.

Okay, there you are. any questions?

Did you say prizes?

Hells yeah. Prizes aplenty. We’re giving away fiction, non fiction and children’s prize packs worth over $2000 RRP, as well as a giveaway every day on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Oh, and there’s also the major prize.

A year’s worth of books.

Did you say a year’s worth of books?



Look, there’s no need to shout, but yes. We’re giving away a year’s worth of books to one lucky Booktopia customer. All you need to do is buy from anything in our Booktoberfest range during October, and you could win the big prize.

What else can we expect from Booktoberfest?

Just a big, bookish festival really. Our experts will be profiling their favourite books from their favourite genres on our website and we’ll be posting reviews of our favourite books every day of Booktoberfest here, on The Booktopia Blog.

Some of our favourite authors will also be dropping by to publish some exclusive content for your reading pleasure.

Will there be Pony Rides?

Unlikely, in a digital space. But never say never.

I like Pony Rides.

I’m going to take that as a comment. Perhaps my good friend John Purcell can explain it a little further, John, are you there?



Toni Collette joins the cast of Jasper Jones: The Movie!

One of Australia’s most acclaimed actors, Toni Collette, has joined the cast of the upcoming film adaptation of Jasper Jones.

Collette joins Levi Miller, Angourie Rice and Aaron McGrath as headliners for the long awaited production of Craig Silvey’s seminal 2010 novel.

Jasper Jones will be directed by Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Day, Redfern Now, Mabo) and produced by David Jowsey (Toomelah, Mystery Road) and Vincent Sheehan (Animal Kingdom, The Hunter). The script has been penned by Shaun Grant (Snowtown). Both Screen Australia and ScreenWest are supporting the project.

Despite narrowly missing out on the 2010 Miles Franklin Literary Award, Jasper Jones is one of the most acclaimed Australian novels of the 21st century and a regular at book clubs and in schools since its release.

Grab your copy of Jasper Jones here

jasper-jonesJasper Jones

by Craig Silvey

‘If we see a more entertaining, heartfelt piece of Australian literature in the next 12 months, it will be a rare year indeed – an Australian To Kill a Mockingbird.’ – The Monthly

Late on a hot summer night in the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.

Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it’s here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper’s horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu.

And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.

Grab your copy of Jasper Jones here

Martyna Angell, author of The Wholesome Cook answers Ten Terrifying Questions

 The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Martyna Angell

author of The Wholesome Cook

Ten Terrifying Questions

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

Martyna Angell Cover

I was born and raised in Poland and real food was always part of my upbringing. I grew up in and around Warsaw, the capital, and the city’s food scene was an interesting mixture of the old and the new. So you would have daily fresh produce markets, neighbourhood grocers selling veggies (I loved buying fermented pickles as snacks after school) as well as the modern fast food chains opening outlets in the city for the first time and big supermarkets setting up shop. It was a very interesting time in terms of exposure to the new but culturally we were still respecting traditions and cooking from scratch. Indeed, it was in one of my fifth-grade home economics classes that I learnt to make sauerkraut (recipe page 69).

I completed my high school studies here in Sydney, then dabbled in law and business administration studies before realising I needed a more creative outlet, so I completed a communications degree. Food, however, has always remained my true passion  and styling and photography followed suit naturally and are a big part of what I do now.

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

I was around twelve years old when I first discovered my passion for cooking and the joy it could bring to others as well as me. On weekends, I’d rummage through the fridge, pantry and freezer then write up a dinner menu for my parents to order from. Then I’d get cooking.

Most of my fondest childhood memories revolve around food, family celebrations and meals enjoyed together. When I turned eighteen cooking was not really considered a career choice so I went off to do a whole range of things but none of them made me truly happy. It wasn’t until I got closer to thirty that I realised where my heart lay, and food became the main focus for me again. This time, having recovered from a junk food past that put me on the edge of obesity, I wanted to share my story and make sure that my cooking, the recipes I shared with my friends, family and readers were all about real food, (and an occasional indulgence).

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

That life begins at 18. Martyna Angell 1Now I think it really begins at 30, but if you ask me the same question in ten years’ time I have a feeling I know what the answer might be…40?

4.What were three big events in your life or the world around you that had a great effect on you and influenced your cooking?

Moving to Australia definitely opened my taste buds to a whole new world of food — fresh seafood and South East Asian flavour influences and ingredient availability — which I absolutely adored. However, it also introduced me to a whole new range of processed and fast foods. Despite a short-term infatuation with junk food in my early twenties, real food has been one of the most grounding forces in my cooking. I’ve realised it is the easiest single choice we can make for our health and well-being. Cooking from scratch and eating real food that’s best for our bodies with an occasional indulgence is a philosophy I’ve adopted after completing studies with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition — another game changer for me. It’s also a philosophy I now live with my family and share in The Wholesome Cook.

5.What are some dishes you wouldn’t eat as a child that you love now?

I was never a fussy eater: I thoroughly enjoyed tripe and liver and had fermented pickles as a snack almost every day. However, and I think many might agree with me here, Brussels sprouts were not really my thing. Our school diner used to serve soup filled with overcooked mushy Brussels sprouts that sent the pungent aroma permeating through the entire school. It was nauseating. No one was a big fan. I’ve since learnt to prepare them in a more palatable way. They are fantastic shredded into a raw slaw or gently charred, roasted or stir-fried (see page 111 for recipe). They are sweet, slightly nutty and delicious that way.

6.Please tell us about your latest book…

The Wholesome Cook is not a diet book or an eat-that-but-not-this book. It’s all about making a lifestyle change for the long term that suits you; it focuses on eating clean, real food that’s best for you, most of the time. It contains over 170 refined sugar-free recipes for how we eat now — theMartyna Angell 3 bioindividual way. What it means is that every recipe has a gluten-free option and many come with options for other dietary needs such as diary-free, paleo, vegetarian and vegan. Many are also egg- and nut-free. They are all delicious.

As mentioned earlier, I was brought up with wholesome food — packets and processed food weren’t allowed in our house — but when I hit my twenties, I fell in love with junk food. The result? Within a year I had piled on 20 kilograms and when I stopped fitting into my favourite work suits that ran out at size 14, I knew I had to make a change. It wasn’t the size or particular numbers on the scales that scared me, although they helped make it real, it was the threat of being technically and truly obese that made me decide enough was enough. I needed to take back control of my cravings, my weight and my life.  But I wanted this change to be permanent. And so, I went back to basics: the basics of eating real food.

7.If you had to create one dish to show off your repertoire, what would it be?

It would most likely be Pulled Lamb Nachos (page 240) because they are a simple slow cooker number that uses deboned shoulder — a secondary meat cut from pasture-raised animals. Both have become fashionable terms, but having grown up with a grandfather who was a butcher and uncle who had a cattle farm, this kind of sustainable nose-to-tail eating was commonplace in our family. It is something that had, perhaps, waned in popularity but is now starting to see a comeback.

The dish is a favourite with the kids and most of our guests who have tried it are really pleasantly surprised with the use of lamb and a few additional tricks I’ve learned over the years to make the junk food to wholefood makeover easier. It’s served with a good choice of fresh salads, good fats from the avocado and probiotic-rich yoghurt instead of sour cream. Even the corn chips are plain — Martyna Angell 5a little indulgence without the junk.

8.Whom do you most admire and why?

I always find stories of those who have made a sea change inspiring, especially those who have done so to grow real food. I admire the courage it takes to drop everything for a simpler (if not necessarily easier) and happier life.

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

My goal is to create a ripple effect by highlighting the merits of eating real, wholefood while at the same time acknowledging that we are all a little different and no single diet fits everyone the same, no matter how fashionable it may be. My goal is also to teach our kids that being able to cook real food from scratch and listening to their body is not hard, nor does it have to be super expensive or time consuming. I believe it’s a skill that will set them up for life of real nourishment. While I will continue to share recipes on the blog, I would love to write another cookbook/wellness guide focused on the benefits of eating well seasonally.

10.What advice do you give aspiring chefs?

Never stop exploring and learning. Practical experience is invaluable, whether it’s through travel, eating out, working in a restaurant kitchen or a farmer’s market or by helping out with animal-rearing. And always keep an open mind to fuel your creativity.

Thank you for playing, Martyna.

Grab your copy of The Wholesome Cook here

The Wholesome Cook

Martyna Angell

Martyna Angell profileThese days we all want to eat the kind of food that doesn’t compromise on flavour or health: clean wholefoods, fresh fruit and vegetables, pasture-raised meat. But it’s also true that what works in your diet for you, may not work for someone else. In The Wholesome Cook, talented cook and award-winning blogger Martyna Angell offers 170 nutritious and delicious recipes that are endlessly adaptable, cater to dietary restrictions and inspire lifestyle changes.

Every recipe is gluten – and processed sugar – free with an emphasis on wholefoods, and many also accommodate dairy-free, nut-free, paleo, vegan and vegetarian diets. These recipes are all about options …  Read more


Grab your copy of The Wholesome Cook here



Michael Robotham beats Stephen King and J.K. Rowling to win Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of the year

FB_IMG_1443558403338Australia crime writing superstar Michael Robotham has won the prestigious British Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for the best crime novel of the year.

A longtime Booktopia favourite, Michael beat the likes of Stephen King, Belinda Bauer and J.K. Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith).


“For all the fact that it’s lovely to have commercial success, to sell lots of books, to be able to be a full-time writer, something like the Dagger makes you feel you have the respect of your peers and you are part of a long tradition of very fine writers.”


Michael Robotham

In a 2014 review of Life or Death, we remarked ‘What sets Michael Robotham apart? A simple, but often neglected factor. He’s just a wonderful writer.’

It’s always nice to see the world agree.

Grab your copy of Life or Death here

Life or Death

Review by Andrew Cattanach

There seems to be two types of people in this world. Those who love Michael Robotham, and those who haven’t heard of him yet.

life-or-deathIt can be difficult for a crime writer to receive critical acclaim and popularity. Books by design are denser than any cop drama on TV, asking questions designed for reflection rather than ratings. Formulas are examined and broken down, cliches noted, thin characters ridiculed.

What sets Michael Robotham apart? A simple, but often neglected factor.

He’s just a wonderful writer.

Life or Death starts with an intriguing premise. Audie Palmer is on the run, having escaped from jail. 10 years of beatings and torture are behind him. But what’s the twist?

He has escaped just one day before he was due to be released.

In Audie Palmer, Robotham has created a character we can all root for. Lucky in his unluckiness, stoic, brave, principled. He is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by a crime he swears he didn’t commit. But can we trust him? Can we really trust anyone?

While Audie is the heart of the story,  there is plenty of meat around him, an ensemble cast of crooked politicians, kind-hearted criminals and shady FBI agents, not to mention a missing seven million dollars. The waters are murky, and Robotham revels in it.

Life or Death is for the crime fan who likes a story, not just an account. Brilliantly written, intelligent, funny, sad and meticulously mapped out, it’s easy to understand why there has already been so much interest in a big screen adaptation of the novel.

There is nothing more exciting than an author operating at the peak of their powers. With Life or Death, Robotham is doing just that, further strengthening his hold as one of Australia’s finest crime writers. Find out why Audie is on the run, before it’s too late.

Grab your copy of Life or Death here

Grab your copy of Life or Death here

GUEST BLOG: True lies by Gary Kemble, author of Skin Deep

Kemble, Gary Author Photo‘Fiction is the truth inside the lie.’ – Stephen King

I’m a journalist. Lies are not a valued commodity in my world. Unless, like Skin Deep’s Harry Hendrick, you’re uncovering other people’s, lies are a good way to get fired.

(In Harry’s case, uncovering other people’s lies is a good way to get killed).

So if I’m a journalist, what am I doing telling lies in my spare time? Well, as it happens, truth and fiction aren’t as far apart as you might think.

Jerry Jenkins, author of the best-selling Left Behind series, says the definitions of nonfiction and fiction have flip-flopped.

‘Nonfiction has to be unbelievable, and fiction has to be believable,’ he says.

Everything in Skin Deep has happened.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a lie.

But at each stage of fleshing out Skin Deep’s plot I asked, ‘Has this ever happened in real life?’ If I could find a real-world precedent, I would mould those true events into the lie I needed.

Have Australian Defence Force personnel ever been implicated in drug smuggling? Yes.

Have outlaw motorcycle gangs ever been used to traffic drugs? Absolutely.

Have property developers ever laundered money? Oh yeah.Left Behind

Did a Black Hawk carrying SAS troopers crash during an exercise off the coast of Fiji? Yes. (The true version of that incident is detailed in Rob Maylor’s excellent SAS Sniper).

Are there symbols created by Afghan Mullah Sensees designed to protect people from harm? Yes.

Of course, at some point as a writer you need to go off the beaten track and just make shit up.

As far as I know, no-one has ever had tattoos spontaneously manifest on their body.

Dreadnorts MC and Dead Ringers MC are fictional outlaw motorcycle gangs. I didn’t want any Hells Angels or Bandidos knocking on my door, accusing me of giving their club a bad write-up. (And it was actually quite difficult finding ominous-sounding names that aren’t real OMGs).

The protective sigil on Harry’s neck was originally going to be African in origin. The Australian SAS has deployed to various parts of Africa over the years, but it suited Skin Deep better to shift Rob’s story to Afghanistan.

So what’s the secret to telling convincing lies? Let’s hear from a guy who’s made a career out of it: Stephen King.

As King suggests, you should wrap your lie around a truth. Whether it’s characters, locations, or plot developments, thorough research can make the reader care.

‘Belief and readSAS sniperer absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything,’ King told Writer’s Digest.

‘Or a broken billboard. Or weeds growing in the cracks of a library’s steps.

‘Of course, none of this means a lot without characters the reader cares about (and sometimes characters—“bad guys”—the reader is rooting against), but the details are always the starting place in speculative or fantasy fiction. They must be clear and textured.

‘The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising.’

So what are you waiting for? Go to it!

Grab a copy of Skin Deep here

Skin Deep

Gary Kemble

When washed up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes with a hangover and a mysterious tattoo on his neck, he shrugs it off as aKemble, Gary - Skin Deep bad night out.

When more tattoos appear — accompanied by visions of war-torn Afghanistan, bikies, boat people, murder, bar fights and a mysterious woman — he begins to dig a little deeper.

Harry’s search leads him to Jess McGrath. She’s successful, married; they are drawn to each other though they have nothing in common but unwanted tattoos and high definition nightmares. Together, they edge closer to unearthing the truth behind the sinister disappearance of an SAS hero and his girlfriend Kyla.

There’s a federal election looming, with pundits tipping a landslide win for opposition leader Andrew Cardinal. Harry knows there’s a link between these disturbing visions and Cardinal’s shadowy past, and is compelled to right wrongs, one way or another.

Skin Deep is the thrilling, layered, genre-bending debut novel of Brisbane author and journalist Gary Kemble.

Grab a copy of Skin Deep here

About the Author

Gary Kemble has spent his life telling stories. He wrote, illustrated and self-published his first story (Back from the Grave) aged eight.

His award-winning short fiction has been published in magazines and anthologies in Australia and abroad, and his non-fiction has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online.

Born in England and raised in Brisbane, Gary lives on a farm in Scotland with his wife, kids, and a camera-shy weasel.

You can follow his adventures on Twitter (@garykemble).

Grab a copy of Skin Deep here

It’s MuppetMania at Booktopia as we celebrate the birthday of Muppet creator Jim Henson

Today marks the birthday of the late great Jim Henson, the kid from Greenville, Mississippi who would go on to entertain millions worldwide as the creative force behind The Muppets and Sesame Street.

the-muppetsWhile Sesame Street continues its remarkable run – 2015 marks its 46th year on the air – The Muppets have found their way back into the public’s consciousness thanks to the 2011 Disney reboot The Muppets, which won critical acclaim and a lazy $150 million at the box office.

The Muppets were a staple for generations of Australian children, with a sense of play and an eye for pop culture that has been nearly impossible to replicate since it began. That’s why the current ‘Second Coming’ makes perfect sense!

Speaking of Muppets fans, The Muppets Character Encyclopedia is a must-have for new fans eager for background on their new favourite Muppets as well as older fans wanting to relive the original TV series. And it’s essential reading ahead of the new Muppets TV show.

That’s right, there’s a NEW MUPPETS SHOW!

Check out the trailer below. Think The Muppet Show meets The Office. It’s going to be good.

And we have Jim Henson to thank!

The Muppets Character Encyclopedia

the-muppets-character-encyclopediaThe most sensational, inspirational, muppetational character encyclopedia ever!

Play the music, light the lights, and meet all your favourite characters from the Muppets in The Muppets Character Encyclopedia. From Animal to Zoot, meet over 200 of the most memorable and best-loved Muppet characters from the 1970s to the present day.

Packed with facts about Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, The Swedish Chef, and all their wild and wacky buddies. Featuring full-colour images of each Muppets character with annotations.

Fact files provide info on each character (and some little known facts), including their role in the Muppets pantheon and details of their first appearance.

Grab your copy of The Muppets Character Encyclopedia here

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic, Eat Pray Love and much more, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

big-magicThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Elizabeth Gilbert

author of Big Magic, Eat Pray Love and much more…

Ten Terrifying Questions

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

Born and raised in the Berkshires Hills, in Connecticut, on my family’s Christmas tree farm. I grew up around goats and chickens and gardens and woodstoves and an intense, nearly obsessive, ethic of frugality and self-sufficiency. Also: Books. Lots of books. I went to our local public school and then off to college in New York City just as quickly as I could get myself there. I am grateful for my hard-scrabble rural childhood because it taught me how to take care of myself, but I am not a person of the soil. I am a person of the Polis.

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

Writer, writer, and writer. And also all the years in between. And, one hopes, I will want to be a writer all the years to come. Because I have yet to find anything else I love more than this work. If I ever do, I will change callings. Till then, I’ll stick with this one.

Elizabeth Gilbert high res 20143. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That the rules of life do not apply to me. I tested every single one rule. Turns out, they all apply. It would have been a lot easier and less painful to have learned the rules of cause and effect without having to try them all out, but apparently I’m a real empiricist.

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?

a) Watching my father quit his day job in order to become a full-time farmer, and realising that — yes indeed — one can shape one’s own destiny.

b) Going off to live in New York City — otherwise known as The Field of Dreams — in order to cross-pollinate myself with the ideas of a bunch of other restless dreamers.

c) Getting divorced. Failing horribly at something terribly important. Having to process the shame and loss of it. Thus: Eat Pray Love

5. 1.             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?

Not obsolete yet, it appears.

big-magic6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Big Magic is a manifesto on creativity. It’s about liberating yourself from the tired-old artistic stereotypes of suffering, torment, perfectionism, anxiety and specialness in order to simply make things that ignite your soul to life. I’ve been wanting to write this book for over a dozen years, and only recently did I finally feel that I had the chops and the authority to sit down and say, “Listen, people. I’ve learned some stuff over the decades I’ve spent engaging with creativity in a positive and generative manner. Try doing your work THIS way.”

Grab a copy of Big Magic here

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

I would like my work to give people permission to live bigger lives.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Sister Mary Scullion — a radical activist nun who lives and works in nearby Philadelphia, and who has single-handedly taken it upon herself to solve the problem of homelessness and addiction on the streets of her city. She’s a giant-hearted, funny, tireless, generous, ferocious powerhouse of a woman, and I love her.

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

A very simple goal: I would like to acquire enough wisdom and grace to always know exactly the right way to behave in every different situation in life — no matter how difficult — such that I never cause any trouble or suffering for myself or for another human being as long as I live. Ever. I’m out of my mind, I know. But that is truly what I long for.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Don’t negotiate with the terrorists who live inside your head. Don’t believe a single negative thing that your mind ever tells you about yourself.

Your darkest voices have no idea what they’re talking about. Your inner critics are more deadly and more toxic than any external enemy will ever be.

Your inner critics will always ask of you, “What right do you have to be a creator? Who the hell do you think you are?” Stand up tall and tell your inner critics who the hell you think you are.

Tell them that you are a constituent of creation, and that therefore you have the right to participate in the ongoing story of creation. Tell them that you are a human being, and that human beings are a creative species by design, and that you are laying claim to your human inheritance by participating in the ancient practice of making stuff out of nothing, for no particular reason. Tell them that your work doesn’t have to be magnificent or world-changing; it just has to be DONE. Tell them that by creating anything — merely by remaining vital and productive— you have won as a human being.

Tell them that you have a spark of divinity within you that you will not allow to be extinguished and that you are a champion of inquisitiveness, and that your inventive spirit will not be daunted.

Then give your inner critics the finger, and keep writing.

Eye of the tiger, baby. Eye of the tiger.

Elizabeth, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Big Magic here

big-magicBig Magic

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert.

Now, this beloved author digs deep into her own life to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity.

With profound empathy and generosity, she ponders the mysterious nature of inspiration, asking us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear.

Whether we are looking to create art, address challenges in our work, give ourselves permission to embark on a dream long deferred, or simply to infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Grab a copy of Big Magic here


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,865 other followers

%d bloggers like this: