Check out these brilliant book reviews from Booktopians

At the recent Australian Book Expo, we set up a camera and asked Booktopians to review their favourite book. The response was amazing, with so many wonderful book lovers keen to chat about their favourite reads. Here are some of the best. Enjoy!

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour

by Morgan Matson

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Bitter Greens

by Kate Forsyth

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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

by Haruki Murakami

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone

by Laini Taylor

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The Hunt for Pierre Jnr

by David M. Henley

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The Hunt for Pierre Jnr

by David M. Henley

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Every Breath

by Ellie Marney

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by Lauren Kate

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Falling Into Place

by Amy Zhang

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If I Stay

by Gayle Forman

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If I Stay

by Gayle Forman

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by Kylie Fornasier

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On the Jellicoe Road

by Melina Marchetta

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Poison Study

by Maria V. Snyder

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by Emma Donoghue

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City of Bones

by Cassandra Clare

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by Bruce McCabe

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The Incredible Here and Now

by Felicity Castanga

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The Last Thirteen

by James Phelan

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The Regulators

by Stephen King

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These Broken Stars

by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

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Three Men in a Boat

by Jerome K Jerome

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WeirDo 2: Even Weirder!

by Anh Do

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What Makes Us Tick?

by Hugh Mackay

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by Charles Bukowski

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Exclusive video: Kate Forsyth chats to John Purcell about her new series The Impossible Quest

Kate Forsyth is one of Australia’s favourite authors and one of the most successful working today, thanks to a rather large royalty cheque from Russia. She chats with John Purcell about that cheque and book 1 of her new series for children The Impossible Quest: Escape from Wolfhaven Castle.

Grab a copy of Escape from Wolfhaven Castle here

escape-from-wolfhaven-castleEscape from Wolfhaven Castle

by Kate Fosyth

Tell your lord to beware, the wolves smell danger in the wind.

Wolfhaven Castle has been attacked, and only four escape capture … Tom, trained to scrub pots, not fight; Elanor, the Lords daughter; Sebastian, a knight in training and Quinn, the witchs apprentice.

Somehow, if they are to save their people, these unlikely heroes must find four magical beasts from legend. But first, they have to make it out of the castle alive…

Best-selling, award-winning storyteller, Kate Forsyth, weaves battles, beasts and bravery in this epic new five-book series.

Grab a copy of Escape from Wolfhaven Castle here

Tune into the ABC tonight for Brilliant Creatures

The cultural cringe will be closely examined on the ABC tonight in Brilliant Creatures, a documentary on Australia’s propensity to send its intellectuals packing.

Hosted and largely conceived by British novelist Howard Jacobson, Brilliant Creatures is a two-part look at the endowments to and departures from Australia by four of its very best minds: Germaine Greer, Robert Hughes, Barry Humphries, Clive James.


Germaine Greer

The Female Eunich
by Germaine Greerthe-female-eunuch

A worldwide bestseller, translated into over twelve languages, The Female Eunuch is a landmark in the history of the women’s movement.

Drawing liberally from history, literature and popular culture, past and present, Germaine Greer’s searing examination of women’s oppression is at once an important social commentary and a passionately argued masterpiece of polemic.

Probably the most famous, most widely read book on feminism ever.


Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes

The Fatal Shore
by Robert Hughesthe-fatal-shore

In 1787, the twenty-eighth year of the reign of King George III, the British Government sent a fleet to colonize Australia…

An epic description of the brutal transportation of men, women and children out of Georgian Britain into a horrific penal system which was to be the precursor to the Gulag and was the origin of Australia.

The Fatal Shore is the prize-winning, scholarly, brilliantly entertaining narrative that has given its true history to Australia.



Barry Humphries

Handling Edna
by Barry Humphries

An intimate and penetrating examination of the world’s most famous woman, Dame Edna Everage, by the man who knows her best.


In this unauthorised biography, acquired for an unprecedented advance and in spectacular secrecy, long-time manager and the man who was there from the very beginning, Barry Humphries takes a behind-the-scenes, no-holds-barred look at an icon of our times – Dame Edna Everage.

Superstar, swami, confidante and advisor to royalty, Hollywood stars and international political leaders, Dame Edna s life has catapulted her far from her humble Moonee Ponds beginnings as a suburban housewife to the most elite social and artistic circles in the world. Who would have thought that this modest Australian woman could achieve so much from London to Louisiana to New York to Tokyo? Who could have anticipated her global fame? Barry Humphries certainly didn’t.



Clive James

Unreliable Memoirs
by Clive James

The first volume of Clive James’s autobiography.

‘I was born in 1939. The other big event of that year was the outbreak of the Second World War, but for the moment, that did not affect me.’unreliable-memoirs

In the first instalment of Clive James’s memoirs, we meet the young Clive, dressed in short trousers, and wrestling with the demands of school, various relatives and the occasional snake, in the suburbs of post-war Sydney. His adventures are hilarious, his recounting of them even more so, in this – the book that started it all…





Howard Jacobson

by Howard Jacobson

A life-changing novel by one of Britain’s greatest novelists, winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2010.

Set in the future, a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited, J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying.

Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn’t know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a world starting with a J. It wasn’t jthen, and isn’t now, the time or place to be asking questions. Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. He doesn’t ask who hurt her. Brutality has grown commonplace. They aren’t sure if they have fallen in love of their own accord, or whether they’ve been pushed into each other’s arms. But who would have pushed them, and why?

Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe – a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened.

Graeme Simsion chats to us about The Rosie Effect and an update on The Rosie Project – The Movie!

Grab a copy of The Rosie Effect here

The Rosie Effect

by Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman are back. If you were swept away by Graeme Simsion’s international smash hit The Rosie Project, you will love The Rosie Effect.

The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge.

Rosie is pregnant.

Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.

As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia back together, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him most.

Get ready to fall in love all over again.

Grab a copy of The Rosie Effect here

Alexandra Cameron, author of Rachael’s Gift, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Alexandra Cameron

author of Rachael’s Gift

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 Sydney. We lived in Paddington until we moved to Mackay in North Queensland. When I was eight we moved to a small town in country NSW called Currabubula where I attended the local school. There were forty-eight children from kindergarten to sixth grade and all in one classroom. We then lived in Willoughby, Vaucluse and Randwick. I went to high school in Rose Bay.

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

When I was twelve I wanted to be an architect. My father is a builder and we were always living in a house that was being ‘done’ perhaps I wanted to design our house my way. When I was eighteen I wanted to be a film director and decided to study film at university. When I was thirty I was writing.

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

Author: Alexandra Cameron

When I was eighteen I firmly believed that if you were married and your partner cheated on you then you should leave them immediately. I did not understand the complexities of marriage. Things at eighteen were very black and white.

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?

There were so many books that I have loved over the years and that have stayed with me. So much so that it is only when I come across them again that I think, Oh yes, that book meant a lot to me at the time. Tim Winton’s, The Riders, has always stuck with me because it is fast paced and yet has so much depth and plus it is a tragic story – I could never understand how a mother could abandon her child. I also loved the writing – I hadn’t known colloquial language could be so poetic and beautiful; it was ground breaking to me as an Australian.

My parents’ collection of LPs was limited to say the least but they did have one Simon and Garfunkel record and this is where I first heard the song, America. It’s a catchy song about a guy who escapes on a bus with his girlfriend to look for ‘America’; it starts out light-hearted but then becomes sad when we realise the guy feels so disillusioned with his world he can’t even voice it to his girlfriend. Mostly, I love how one line can paint an entire story. “I’ve got some real estate here in my bag.”

Breakfast At Tiffany’s is probably a film on every girl’s rite of passage. It’s the pinnacle of Hollywood sixties glamour and the dresses, the parties, Holly Golightly’s French idioms, Audrey Hepburn at her most stylish and the sweet love story are captivating. The film barely resembles its novella roots and is much much darker, but I couldn’t help love the candy-coloured version…

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

I love the intimacy of a novel. It’s just you and the reader. Everyone takes something different away. As an author you have the space to create an entire world, whereas many other art forms require a team of people (like film etc…) I enjoy the solitary process.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The novel begins when gifted artist, fourteen-year-old Rachael, accuses her teacher of sexual misconduct, but the principal has suspicions that she is lying. Her father, Wolfe, is worried about his daughter’s odd behaviour but her mother, Camille, will not hear a bad word against her. A fraught investigation ensues, culminating in a showdown on the other side of the world in Paris. The story is about ambition, art, talent, truth, how we pass unresolved issues from one generation to the next and a mother’s uncompromising love for her daughter.

Grab a copy of Alexandra Cameron’s novel Rachael’s Gift here

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

I hope they enjoy the story and perhaps reflect on their own lives in some way. What would they do if they were in a similar situation as the characters?

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

There are so many! Margaret Atwood is a good one. She is a longstanding brilliant writer with stories ranging from the historical to the bizarre – what an original and clever mind.

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

Gosh. I hope to always learn more about writing and life and to consistently produce work of a high standard – I guess that is quite ambitious. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

If you have the desire to write then sit down and do it. Everyday.

Alexandra, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Rachael’s Gift here

Rachael’s Gift

by Alexandra Cameron

Rachael is a child prodigy, a talented artist whose maturity and eloquence is far beyond her fourteen years. She’s also energetic, charming and beautiful, beguiling everyone around her. To her mother, Camille, she is perfect. But perfection requires work, as Camille knows all too well.

For Rachael has another extraordinary gift: a murky one that rears its head from time to time, threatening to unbalance all the family has been working towards. When Rachael accuses her art teacher of sexual misconduct, Wolfe and Camille are drawn into a complex web of secrets and lies that pit husband against wife, and have the power to destroy all their lives.

Set in contrasting worlds of Australia and Paris, told from the perspective of husband and wife, Rachael’s Gift is a detective story of the heart, about a mother’s uncompromising love for her daughter and a father’s quest for the truth.

 Grab a copy of Rachael’s Gift here

Man Booker News: Australia’s Richard Flanagan named on six book Shortlist for 2014 prize

Could he do it?

That’s the question on everyone’s lips as Richard Flanagan continues his surge towards a Man Booker Prize for his beautiful novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

Flanagan’s masterpiece was controversially overlooked for this year’s Miles Franklin.

2010 winner Howard Jacobson is joined by fellow UK writers Ali Smith and Neel Mukherjee, with the new international floodgates appear only slightly ajar, with two US authors Karen Joy Fowler and Joshua Ferris making up the six shortlistees.

Take a closer look at the 2014 Shortlist, and be your own judge…

Continue reading

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

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

A rather mixed bag this month, with everything from an unputdownable epic fantasy romance series to a fabulous sports romance and a gruesome murder mystery. Great fun!

Days of Blood and Starlight / Dreams of Gods and Monsters

by Laini Taylor

This series… I’m not sure I have the words. It’s incredible. The first, Daughter of Smoke and Bone enthralled me deeply enough, but parts two and three? I honestly couldn’t stop reading. These are big fat bricks of books and I devoured them. Which is amazing because fantasy is not something I often read.

I’m not sure I can tell you anything about the plot of these two without giving away too much of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and I wouldn’t want to spoil this series for anyone. What I will say is that the scope of the overarching plot is breathtaking in its complexity, the writing is rich and mesmerising, and the themes are huge. As for the love story between the chimera-raised Karou and seraphim hero Akira… heartbreaking and beautiful. Sigh.

Start with Daughter of Smoke and Bone and keep going. This series is a triumph.

Grab a copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy here

We Were Liars

by E. Lockhart

I did not realise this was a young adult book when I bought it. It appeared in the publisher Allen & Unwin’s newsletter and I liked the sound of it so decided to give it a whirl. I can’t say I’m sorry I did because it was a very enjoyable read with a nice twist at the end. The writing style was interesting, using single words and brief paragraphing that some might find irritating but worked for me because I felt it reflected the narrator Cadence Sinclair’s fractured mind.

We Were Liars is coming of age story with a suspense element. Cadence is from an old money family who spend their summers on a private island. There, she hangs with her cousins – the self-labelled Liars – living a spoiled life. One summer something goes terribly wrong but Cadence can’t remember what it is. Her mind blocks it out. As she narrates her story and tries to resurrect her memory, she relives the lead up to that time; the family’s acute dysfunction, her friendships and loves. The moment when everything clicks into place in the end is nicely satisfying.

 Grab a copy of We Were Liars here

The Devil in Denim

by Melanie Scott

Dark fantasy readers will know Melanie Scott as M. J Scott, of Half Light City series fame, but the Melbourne based author has turned her hand to sports romance. And what’s not to enjoy in that!

Maggie Jameson’s dad has owned the New York Saints major league baseball team forever. She grew up breathing the Saints, the team acting as a surrogate family after the death of her mother, and the players stepping into the role of protective elder brothers. She, in turn, is like the team’s mascot, and is affectionately known as Saint Maggie. All she wants is to take over the running of the team that is her life, except her dad throws a curveball and suddenly sells the Saints to a trio of rather hunky, super-successful men. Conflict ensues!

I loved how this book started. Maggie slamming down tequila in a bar only to be rescued rather manfully by our hot hero Alex Winters. This had a nice rawness to it and told me I was in for a rollicking adult romance. The rest didn’t disappoint either. The dialogue between Maggie and Alex was fantastic – witty and sexy – and the racy bits suitably so. A perfect read to relax with.

This is the beginning of a related trilogy featuring the Saints’ three new owners , with Angel in Armani coming in January. Can’t wait!

  Grab a copy of The Devil in Denim here

The Devil’s Workshop

by Alex Grecian

I adore Victorian era set stories, in particular mysteries and crime and the more gas-light atmospheric the better. A legacy, I expect, from my deep love for Sherlock Holmes (hurry up Anthony Horowitz with Moriarty).

This is the third in Grecian’s Murder Squad series and probably his goriest. The Yard and The Black Country contained their fair share of icky murders but in resurrecting Jack the Ripper Grecian has made this book particularly blood-soaked. With some of the plot carrying over from the previous books I suggest reading books one and two first to get the most out of this.

The Devil’s Workshop sees Inspector Day and Sergeant Hammersmith investigating a suspiciously imaginative breakout from Bridewell Prison. Now some of the nation’s worst murderers are on the loose and one of the sickest knows where Day and his heavily pregnant wife Claire lives. During the ensuing man-hunt we’re sent twisting and tripping over and under London, following not only Day and Hammersmith but Grecian’s collection of evil-minded monsters. The conclusion had me fretting badly. Not one for late night reading!

Grab a copy of The Devil’s Workshop 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

The French Prize

by Cathryn Hein

An ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Grab a copy of The French Prize here


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