GUEST BLOG: What Katie Read – The May Round Up (by award-winning author Kate Forsyth)

One of Australia’s favourite novelists Kate Forsyth, author of The Impossible QuestBitter Greens and The Wild Girl, continues her monthly blog with us, giving her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

Having at last delivered my novel THE BEAST’S GARDEN, which is set in World War II and so predicated my reading for many months, I have caught up with some books I’ve been wanting to read for a while. A lovely mix of fantasy, crime, historical fiction and non-fiction, I’m hoping to read a lot more for pleasure in the coming month (before I get engrossed in research for the next book!)


For All the Tea in China

by Sarah Rose

A fascinating account of the man who stole the secret of tea-making from the Chinese in the mid 19th century.

Robert Fortune was a Scottish gardener and botanist who was employed by the East India Company in 1848 to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China, territory that was at that time forbidden to foreigners. His mission: to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea.

China had been the sole producer of tea for centuries, and the Emperor of China was determined to maintain its lucrative monopoly. To outwit the mandarins who controlled the tea trade, Robert Fortune disguised himself in silk robes and slippers and attached a long black pigtail. He hired Chinese interpreters to speak on his behalf, and travelled through remote landscapes where Westerners had never before trodden. His quest was complicated by the problem of smuggling the tea plants out and by the fact that Britain was waging a war with China over its opium imports. A truly remarkable unknown story, well worth a read.

Grab a copy of For All the Tea in China here


Return to Fourwinds

by Elizabeth Gifford

I really enjoyed Elizabeth Gifford’s first book, Secrets of the Sea House, and was interested to see what her next book would be like. It’s a parallel story, moving from the present time to the 1930s in Spain and Great Britain. The contemporary story is a mystery about a runaway bride, while the sections set in the past untangle the knotted stories of her parents and soon-to-be parents-in-law.

My favourite sections were those set in the war years, but the whole book is very readable, being both swift-moving and lyrical.

Grab a copy of Return to Fourwinds here


Madame Picasso

by Anne Girard

I have always been interested in the lives and loves of great artists, and have read many a biography of Picasso. So I wanted to read this novel as soon as I saw its very gorgeous cover. It tells the story of Eva Gouel, a young French woman who had a tumultuous affair with Picasso while he was still a young man living in Paris and just beginning to make his name.

Eva works as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and meets Pablo while he is still in a relationship with one of his first models, Fernande Oliver. Picasso fell madly in love with Eva (whose real name was Marcelle) and painted “I love Eva” on many of his paintings of the time. I knew before I began the book that it could not have a happy ending, since I knew Picasso had had two wives and numerous mistresses. However, I was surprised by just how sad this story is. Poignant and beautiful.

 Grab a copy of Madame Picasso here


The Solider’s Wife

by Pamela Hart

A beautifully told story of a young woman fighting to make her way after her husband is sent to fight in Gallipoli only weeks after their marriage. Living in fear of the telegraph boy, taking on a job in a man’s world, and trying to help those around her as the full horror of the war takes its toll, Ruby is an appealing and believable heroine. I also loved the Sydney setting, recognizing many local landmarks.

The Soldier’s Wife is a warm and intimate look at a marriage put under terrible strain by the costs of the First World War, told by a wonderful storyteller.

Grab a copy of The Soldier’s Wife here


Clariel

by Garth Nix

Clariel is a new book set in the Old Kingdom, the world of Gath Nix’s bestselling YA fantasy, Sabriel, which is one of my all-time favourite books. Before reading Clariel, I read all of the Old Kingdom books again, including Lirael and Abhorsen, and loved them just as much as I did on first reading them so many years ago (it is hard to believe that Sabriel was first published 20 years ago!)

Clariel is set long before the other three books and so it is not necessary to have read all of the series before tackling this one. It has all of Garth Nix’s characteristic imaginative flair and deceptively simple storytelling, making it a book that can be read in a single gulp.

The heroine of the tale, sixteen -year-old Clariel, is unhappy. Her parents have just moved to the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom, but Clariel wants to return to the wild, free life she had in the forests of Estwael. Clariel is a berserker, and finds it hard to control her temper when jostled about by people all day long. She is also aware that she is being used as a pawn in the political machinations of the capital. Murder and mayhem soon ensue, and Clariel finds herself on the run, trying to understand the Free Magic forces that surround her.

With a surprising plot that twists and turns most unexpectedly, Clariel is proof that fantasy for teenagers can be as compelling and moving as any other genre of fiction.

Grab a copy of Clariel here


Gone Girl: Film Tie-In Editiongone-girl

by Gillian Flynn

I was beginning to feel that I was the only person left on earth not to have read this blockbuster psychological thriller, so I picked it up in the airport one day and read it all the way home.

Fiendishly clever, compulsively readable, Gone Girl plays with most readers’ desire to connect and empathise with a novel’s characters. In the end, neither narrator is particularly sympathetic or likeable, but by that time the reader is hooked, wanting to know what happens in the end.

Grab a copy of Gone Girl here


The Strings of Murderthe-strings-of-murder

by Oscar de Muriel

An intriguing Gothic murder mystery set in Edinburgh in 1888, The Strings of Murder tells the story of Ian Frey, a disgraced Scotland Yard detective, who is trying to solve the murder of a renowned violinist. The brutality of the crime causes panic that Jack the Ripper has left London, while there is also a strange supernatural aspect to the case that leads Frey’s new boss, Detective McGray, to suspect witchcraft is in play.

As the corpses pile up, the two mismatched detective must try and hunt down the truth through the dark, fog-bound streets of Edinburgh. A very atmospheric historical thriller filled with strange lore about violins and music.

Grab a copy of The Strings of Murder 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. 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

The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth

the-beast-s-gardenA retelling of The Beauty and The Beast set in Nazi Germany

The Grimm Brothers published a beautiful version of the Beauty & the Beast tale called ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’ in 1819. It combines the well-known story of a daughter who marries a beast in order to save her father with another key fairy tale motif, the search for the lost bridegroom. In ‘The Singing, Springing Lark,’ the daughter grows to love her beast but unwittingly betrays him and he is turned into a dove. She follows the trail of blood and white feathers he leaves behind him for seven years, and, when she loses the trail, seeks help from the sun, the moon, and the four winds. Eventually she battles an evil enchantress and saves her husband, breaking the enchantment and turning him back into a man.

Kate Forsyth retells this German fairy tale as an historical novel set in Germany during the Nazi regime. A young woman marries a more…

Click here to grab a copy of The Beast’s Garden

Drum roll…. the winner of our Avengers pack is…

Because of the awesomeness that is The Avengers: Age of Ultron, we decided to give away an Avengers pack. All you had to do to enter was buy one of our select Avengers titles by May 31st.


avengersAvengers: Rage of Ultron

by Rick Remender, Jerome Opena (Illustrator)

It was another glorious victory for the Mighty Avengers. Good triumphed over evil and Ultron was shot into space, never to be seen again. Or so they thought. Now, years later, the homicidal artificial intelligence – so long devoted to ending life on Earth – has a new world to conquer…one with its own horrific legacy.

When Titan, birthplace of Thanos, falls, Planet Ultron rises in its place! Thanos’ brother Starfox must seek the aid of his former allies – but the Avengers he finds are image1radically different from the ones he once knew.

Among them is Ultron’s creator Giant-Man – and when Hank Pym confronts his now planet-sized “son,” the responsibilities of fatherhood have never loomed so large. Rick Remender (Uncanny Avengers) and Jerome Opena (Avengers) unleash the full robotic rage of Ultron on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

 

…and the winner is:

C.Bull, Lesmurdie, WA

Check out our Marvel Avengers: The Age of Ultron series here


Congratulations to the winner!

Missed out on the prize? Hey, turn that frown upside up, we’ve got so much more up for grabs, not to mention limited editions signed copies and 2 for 1 offers!

Head to our Promotions and Competitions page!

promotions

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie (Review by Hayley Shephard)

9781921901423I absolutely loved The Perfect Rake, so when I was given the chance to read and review Anne Gracie’s new book The Spring Bride, I just knew I had to put other books on my list aside. It didn’t disappoint!

The life of its female lead, Jane Chance, has not been smooth sailing. Following the old cliché it stands to reason she would meet her happily ever after right off the bat, but instead she accepts a proposal from a man she feels no attraction to but could provide her with security. I tripped over myself while reading this play out, but in the end came to regard her as a strong selfless female, trying to ensure her safety and survival in a society that can be horribly cruel. Anne Gracie is such a wonderful writer that I questioned whether I even wanted to know what happened in the end.

Enter Zachary Black. Admittedly, I tend to steer clear from male leads that are undercover. To my surprise it was actually refreshing to have the pair not on equal footing, with the male considered beneath the female. Consequently, the feelings that simmer between the two reads stronger for me, even when some truths are revealed. He begins to help Jane realise that perhaps love has a greater part to play in creating a happy future rather than just safety and security.

In return, she makes him see things differently and think about what he really wants. With a past full of espionage and now suddenly faced with criminal charges, who wouldn’t? On a side note you can’t help but laugh and snort when, through the words of Anne Gracie, you picture Zach trying to mingle with polite society.

After reading this book I am dying to find out how it all came to be for the other characters. This is book 3 of the series, which can be read as a standalone, but I can’t wait to read books 1 and 2 in the series.

Grab a copy of The Spring Bride here


The Spring Bride

The Chance Sisters Series : Book 3

by Anne Gracie

On the eve of the London Season, Jane Chance is about to make her entrance into high society. And after a childhood riddled with poverty and hardship, Jane intends to make a good, safe, sensible marriage. All goes according to plan until a dark, dangerous vagabond helps her rescue a dog.

Zachary Black is all kinds of unsuitable – a former spy, now in disguise, he’s wanted for murder. His instructions: to lie low until his name is cleared. But Zach has never followed the rules, and he wants Jane Chance for his own. If that means blazing his way into London society, in whatever guise suits him, that’s what he’ll do. Jane knows she shouldn’t fall in love with this unreliable, if devastatingly attractive, rogue. But Zach is determined – and he’s a man accustomed to getting what he wants.

About the Author

Anne Gracie spent her childhood and youth on the move, thanks to her father’s job, which took them around the world. The gypsy life taught her that humour and love are universal languages and that favourite books can take you home, wherever you are.

Anne started her first novel while backpacking solo around the world. Originally published by Harlequin Books, she now writes Regency-era historical romances for Berkley (Penguin USA) and Penguin Australia, but instead more…

Grab a copy of The Spring Bride here

Drum roll…. We’re announcing the winners of our April Competitions!

In April we had a myriad of prizes and promotions for you to sink your teeth into.

Let’s wrap a few up and announce the winners of these great prizes, shall we?


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All you had to do to enter was order The Anzacs 100 Years On : In Story and Song by April 30th!

the-anzacs-100-years-on-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-The Anzacs 100 Years On : In Story and Song

by Ted Egan

The Anzacs 100 Years On: In Story and Song is a unique contribution to the commemoration of the centenary of the Anzacs. Ted Egan weaves personal stories and songs into a highly readable history of the Anzacs and the two nations, with amusing anecdotes and tales of great courage and ingenuity serving to leaven somewhat the brutal truth exposed, of a tragic and senseless war.

The soldiers, nurses, politicians, wives, and the mothers who lost their sons, or welcomed them home severely damaged, all feature in this book and its songs.

Egan’s stories and poignant songs infuse the facts with the more…

…and the winner is:

P.Hawkins, Exeter, TAS

Grab a copy of The Anzacs 100 Years On : In Story and Song here


Bolinda-Anzac-Day-Collection-Rotating-Homepage-Banner

All you had to do to enter was buy anything in our Bolinda Anzac Day collection by April 30th!

1914 : The Year the World Ended – Re Issue

1914-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-Author: Paul Ham
Read by: Robert Meldrum

Few years can justly be said to have transformed the earth: 1914 did.

In July that year, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Britain and France were poised to plunge the world into a war that would kill or wound 37 million people, tear down the fabric of society, uproot ancient political systems and set the course for the bloodiest century in human history.

In the longer run, the events of 1914 set the world on the path toward the Russian Revolution, the Treaty of Versailles, the rise of more…

…and the winner is:

A.Poad, Northampton, WA

Check out our Bolinda Anzac Day collection here


9781921383595- Sujet-Saenkham- Rotating-Homepage-Banner

To celebrate the release of Spice I Am, a book of recipes from Sydney-based Thai chef Sujet Saenkham, we gave customers the chance to win a prize, worth $255!

The pack includes to dinner for two at any of Sydney’s Spice I Am restaurants, valued at $150 and the opportunity to attend a Spice I Am cooking class, valued at $105.

spice-i-am

Spice I Am

by Sujet Saenkham

In this much anticipated cookbook Sydney-based Thai chef Sujet Saenkham shares his family recipes for the fresh flavours of regional Thai cooking so you can enjoy authentic Thai food at home.

Leave the Thai takeaway menus in your kitchen drawer, as you learn how to make restaurant favourites such as Sujet’s signature stir-fried crispy pork belly with basil, roasted red duck curry with eggplant, tomato and pineapple and crispy prawn and lemongrass salad, as well as traditional classics like pad Thai, fishcakes and a massaman beef curry from scratch. Throughout, Sujet offers practical advice on finding the ingredients and mastering the cooking techniques you need to create your own Thai feasts at home.

…and the winner is:

P.Chen Matraville, NSW

Check out Spice I Am here


Congratulations to the winners!

Missed out on the prize? Hey, turn that frown upside up, we’ve got so much more up for grabs, not to mention limited editions signed copies and 2 for 1 offers!

Head to our Promotions and Competitions page, where you could be a winner every day!

promotions

 

Fan of Fleur McDonald or the new movie Home? You might have won…

March and April were amazing months for prizes! We gave three fans of Fleur McDonald the chance to win her backlist pack, worth $99, and fans of the new movie Home the chance to win a Home pack!


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All you had to do to enter was order Emerald Springs before April 30th!

emerald-springsEmerald Springs

by Fleur McDonald

When suspicions are wrongly aimed at Amelia following the theft of proceeds from the local rodeo after a crash and grab, she must work with a skeptical rural detective to clear her name – and that of the man she loves. Mystery and romance abound in the new novel from the bestselling author of Crimson Dawn.

After finishing university, Amelia Bennett returns to Jervois and promptly falls in love with the wonderful – if broke and slightly stubborn – Paul Barnes. Now she’s determined to lose her old reputation for being scatty and unreliable by proving herself as the treasurer of the local rodeo committee and making the more…

…and the winners are:

C. Carr, Longreach, QLD

B.Knight, Dunedoo, NSW

J.Malone, Tumut, NSW

Grab a copy of Emerald Springs here


HOME_Rotating_Homepage_Banner

All you had to do to enter was buy anything in our Home Film Tie-in series by April 30th!

Dreamworks Home Deluxe Colouring & Puzzle Bookdreamworks-home-deluxe-colouring-puzzle-book

Ideal for felt-tip pens!

Join in the adventure as Tip and Oh race to save Earth … and each other! The Home Deluxe Colouring & Puzzle Book ensures heaps of Boovian fun for every Home fan!

The Boov are searching for a new planet to call home. They find the perfect planet in the middle of nowhere – Earth! The Boov kindly relocate all the humans to Happy Humanstown, and then proceed to completely rearrange the planet! By accidentally telling the Boov’s worst enemy where they are, Oh becomes the number one Boov fugitive. Oh meets Tip, the only human left in Boston, and their hilarious journey to friendship begins.

…and the winner is:

A.Parker, South Penrith, NSW

Check out our Home Film Tie-in series here


Congratulations to the winners!

Don’t have a gift for Mother’s Day because your Mum is too hard to buy for?

Get her a gift certificate from Booktopia and she can pick the books she would love to read!

Who wouldn’t love a book from each of Australia’s 50 Favourite Authors?

Australian_Favourite_Authors_Competition_Rotating_Homepage_Banner

After the success of our Australia’s Favourite Author poll, with John Flanagan coming out on top, we wanted to keep the ball rolling on this Aussie-book-love-in.

We put iconic books, from all the authors voted by you as Australia’s 50 Favourite, into a series and offered the chance to win this amazing collection to anyone who ordered from the collection.

All you had to do to enter was order from our Australia’s Favourite Authors collection by April 30th!

…and the winner is:

M.Argus, Toolamba, VIC

Congratulations to the winner!

Missed our Australia’s Favourite Author Poll? Click here for a full recap.

Don’t have a gift for Mother’s Day because your Mum is too hard to buy for?

Get her a gift certificate from Booktopia and she can pick the books she would love to read!

Are you a winner of an amazing prize in time for Mother’s Day?

In the lead up to Mother’s Day we’ve had some amazing prizes to give away, perfect for any Mum!

We’ve had a Pan Macmillan Mother’s Day hamper worth $500, 1 of 5 Liane Moriarty backlist packs and a $250 gift voucher from Leona Edmiston!


Wardrobe101forMums-Comp-PromoBannerLarge-1000x200px-FINAL

wardrobe-101-for-mumsAll you had to do to enter was order Wardrobe 101 for Mums by April 28th!

Wardrobe 101 for Mums: Fashion Formulas for Modern Mothers

by Dijanna Mulhearn

Following on from Wardrobe 101: How to Create Your Perfect Core Wardrobe, fashion guru Dijanna Mulhearn is offering style advice to time-poor mothers.

Wardrobe 101 for Mums is a go-to guide for women who long to look good with little effort. Between juggling young children and navigating a post-pregnancy figure, dressing stylishly can be overwhelming; and the last thing on the minds of many new mothers.

Don’t be tempted by the tracksuit or resort to simple jeans and t-shirt when this book is chock full of tips that show you how to look fabulous in a flash. Dijanna Mulhearn has devised helpful tricks for looking chic regardless of more…

…and the winner is:

D.Isackson, Cottesloe, WA

Grab a copy of Wardrobe 101 for Mums here


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All you had to do to enter was order a book from the Pan Macmillan Mother’s Day collection by April 28th!

Broken Juliet : The Starcrossed Series : Book 2broken-juliet

by Leisa Rayven

Some loves never let you go…Cassie swore she’d never forgive Ethan for breaking her heart when they were in acting school years ago. He was her one great love, and when he refused to love her back, a part of her died forever…or so she thought. Now she and Ethan are sharing a Broadway stage, and he’s determined to win her back.

Finally he’s able to say all the things she needed to hear years ago…but can she believe him? Has he really changed, and what makes this time different from all his other broken promises?The answer lies somewhere in the past, and now the truth will come to light. Will Cassie rediscover what it’s like to be trusting and open again–the way she more…

…and the winner is:

M.Gattone,  Brighton East, VIC

Grab a copy of Broken Juliet here


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big-little-lies

All you had to do to enter was order Big Little Lies by April 28th!

Big Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty

‘I guess it started with the mothers.’

‘It was all just a terrible misunderstanding.’

‘I’ll tell you exactly why it happened.’

Pirriwee Public’s annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. A more…

…and the winners are:

D.Webb, Orelia, WA
L.Tindall, Raworth, NSW
E.Nicholson, Wamuran, QLD
F.Worland, Forbes, NSW
S.Glyde, Leeming, WA

Grab a copy of Big Little Lies here


Congratulations to the winners!
Not a winner? Don’t worry, we have more prizes to giveaway! You could win an awesome Mother’s Day gift.
Check them out here.

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