GUEST BLOG: What Katie Read – The January Roundup (by award-winning author Kate Forsyth)

One of Australia’s favourite novelists Kate Forsyth, author of The Impossible Quest, Bitter Greens, The Wild Girl and now The Beast’s Garden, continues her monthly blog with us, giving her verdict on the books she read in January.

Summer holidays! For me, a time to relax and read for pleasure. I took a stack of books away with me to the beach shack and read my way through them in complete and utter happiness – Kate Forsyth

The Observations

by Jane Harris

The ObservationsThe Observations is such a delightful read! It tells the story of a girl named Bessy who takes a job as a maid-of-all-work in a gloomy country house in Scotland in the mid 1860s. Bessy has a past she would rather forget, and so is grateful for the refuge her mistress Arabella offers her. However, she soon comes to realise that not is all as it seems in the house, and that an earlier maid has died in rather mysterious circumstances. With naïve optimism, Bessie sets out to find out what happened, and finds herself getting rather more than she bargained for.

The true pleasure of the book is Bessy’s voice – gutsy, wry, and vulnerable – and the clever way Jane Harris weaves her narrative threads together.

Learn more about The Observations here!

Wild Wood

by Posie Graeme-Evans

xwild-woodWild Wood is a dual timeline narrative that moves between the Scottish Borderlands in the 14th century and an unhappy young woman in the 1980s who finds herself compelled to draw the same Scottish castle over and over again. I love stories with parallel timelines, particularly with a good dash of romance, history and magic added in. And I also love books set in Scotland, so all the ingredients were in place for a really wonderful read.

I must admit I loved the scenes set in the past more – the story of the mute fairy wife, the battle-hardened warrior and the medieval castle were all so intriguing. The contemporary scenes did not work quite so well for me, perhaps because the 1980s is not a decade that really inspires me. However, the story of Jesse and her eerie connection with the past eventually drew me in, and the story really began to gallop along.

Learn more about Wild Wood here!

Writers’ Block

by Judith Flanders

xwriters-block.Judith Flanders is best known as the author of brilliantly researched historical non-fiction about the Victorian era. I have quite a few of her books, and return to them again and again for my own research.

Writers’ Block could not be more different. It’s a darkly funny contemporary murder mystery set in a London publishing house. It made me laugh out loud once or twice, and I roared through it in a single sitting.

Learn more about Writers’ Block here!

The Sunne In Splendour

by Sharon Penman

the-sunne-in-splendourThis book has been on my shelf for a very long time, but its sheer heft and weight meant I kept postponing picking it up. Its 880 pages long! However, so many people kept naming it as one of the best historical novels ever written, so eventually I took the plunge. I’m very glad I did. It’s quite brilliant.

Sharon Penman effortlessly weaves together an epic story of love, war, and revenge, bringing to life the enigmatic king, Richard III. Most people know Richard III from the Shakespeare play, and from the murder of the Princes in the Tower.

Sharon Penman believes him unjustly maligned and she does a very convincing job of making her readers think so too. Well worth the wrist strain!

Learn more about The Sunne In Splendour here!

The Lure of the Moonflower

by Lauren Willig

the-lure-of-the-moonflowerThe last in the utterly delightful series that began with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation.

These books are a really clever mix of chick lit & Regency romance-spy-adventure. They are clever, funny, romantic and full of suspense, packing an awful lot of frivolous fun into their pages. I’m very sad to see the series end.

Learn about The Lure of the Moonflower here!

Two Fearsome Fairy Tales from France

Retold by Adele Geras and illustrated by Fiona McDonald

two-fearsome-fairy-tales-from-franceChristmas Press has been quietly producing a range of exquisite fairy tale retellings with gorgeous illustrations for the last couple of years. This beautiful edition has the Jerusalem-born author Adele Geras retelling Beauty & the Beast and Bluebeard with illustrations by Fiona McDonald (who also illustrated my own contribution to the series Two Selkie Tales from Scotland).

The stories are simply and elegantly retold, and are carefully pitched to appeal to a younger reading age – no need to fear for a sensitive child’s sensibilities here! So far the series has included tales retold by Sophie Masson, Ursula Dubosarky, and me, with one coming soon from Duncan Ball. Other titles are in the pipeline. Together they will build to a library of some of the world’s most beloved fairy tales, with stories from Russia, Japan, Ancient Greece, Rome, and Ireland, as well as Scotland and France. A perfect gift for any fairy-tale-loving child!

Learn more about Two Fearsome Fairy Tales from France here!

Midnight is a Place

by Joan Aiken

xmidnight-is-a-placeJoan Aiken is one of my all-time favourite children’s writers. Her books were out-of-print for a while and I haunted second-hand bookshops in the hopes of building up my collection. My copy of this wonderful book was bought from the Glebe Library years ago, and still has its yellow cardboard filing card in an envelope glued inside the front cover. Happily, her books have all recently been re-issued with fabulous new covers and so are easy to get hold of now.

It’s difficult to exactly categorise Joan Aiken’s work. It’s historical fiction, with a Dickensian feel thanks to its brilliantly drawn characters (both comic and villainous), unusual names, and dark atmospheric settings. Her stories are fabulously inventive, and often have surprising elements in them (like pink whales). Some of the books have an alternative historical setting, with Good King James III on the throne of England, and the wicked Hanoverians trying to blow up Parliament House.

Midnight is a Place is the most realist of her novels, and quite possibly her darkest. It tells the story of a lonely boy named Lucas, who lives at Midnight Court, next to a smoggy industrial town called Blastburn. His guardian is a foul-tempered, brandy-drinking eccentric who won the great house in a card-game many years before. One day the orphaned daughter of the previous owner comes to live at Midnight Court. Soon Lucas and Anna-Marie are left destitute, and must fend for themselves in the tough streets of Blackburn.

There is one particular scene set in the carpet-making factory that I shall never forget – as a child, it burnt itself deep into my imagination. It is also striking for its refusal to restore the children’s lost wealth – instead they find happiness by making their own way in the world. Joan Aiken is one of the great children’s writers, and deserves to be much more widely celebrated.

Learn more about Midnight is a Place here!

Kate Forsyth

Forsyth, KateKate 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.’

Kate’s books have been published in 14 countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Poland and Slovenia.

Visit Kate Forsyth’s Booktopia author page

The Beast’s Garden

by Kate Forsyth

Forsyth, Kate - The Beast's GardenA retelling of 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 … Read more

Grab your copy of The Beast’s Garden here

Harlequin Valentine’s Day Competition


Love is all around at Booktopia and thanks to Harlequin Books Australia we’re celebrating by giving one lucky customer the chance to win a major romance pack!

Bringing together some of the best in romance to bring you goosebumps, shivers down your back, tears, but above all, the joy of falling in love with characters falling in love.

Remember, if you want to win, just order any of the titles in the Harlequin Valentine’s Day Collection.

stone-creek-arizona-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-Stone Creek, Arizona

by Linda Lael Miller

The Man From Stone Creek

There was trouble in Haven, Arizona, and Ranger Sam O’Ballivan was determined to sort it out. Badge and gun hidden, he arrived posing as the new school teacher, and discovered his first task was to bring the rough ranchers’ children under control. So he started with a call on Maddie Chancelor, the local postmistress, and older sister of a young boy in need of discipline.

It never occurred to Sam that Maddie would turn out to be more…


The Farmer’s Perfect Matchthe-farmer-s-perfect-match

by Marilyn Forsyth

One farmer + two stunning girls competing for his affection = 1 hit reality show

Gorgeous farmer Adam Armstrong loves his life — he owns and runs his own piece of heaven, a successful pearl farm, and spends his days outdoors in Australia’s stunning Kimberley. There’s just one thing missing: someone to share it with, but when you live in one of the most uninhabited places on Earth it’s not easy to meet the perfect woman.

Enter Evangeline Sinclair, PA for more…


by Amy Andrews, Ros Baxter

What would you do differently if your days were…


Live every day like it was your last.

Mathematician and many-time Loser in Love Poppy Devine believes in being prepared. So when she discovers she has breast cancer, all she has to do is more…


Under the Spanish Starsunder-the-spanish-stars-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-

by Alli Sinclair

Charlotte Kavanagh’s beloved grandma Katarina Sanchez is gravely ill, so when she begs Charlotte to travel to her homeland in Andalucia to uncover the truth behind a mysterious painting, Charlotte agrees. Taking leave from her soul-destroying job and stalled life in Australia, Charlotte embarks on a quest through Granada’s ancient cobble-stoned streets and vibrant neighbourhoods. There she meets Mateo Vives, a flamenco guitarist with a dark past, and through him she quickly becomes entangled in the world of flamenco and gypsies that more…

xthe-horse-thief.jpg.pagespeed.ic.U9QxuqKhXMThe Horse Thief

by Tea Cooper

Can she save her family’s horse stud and reputation?

When India Kilhampton is caught up in the heart-stopping excitement of the first Melbourne Cup her mind is made up. She will breed a horse to win the coveted trophy and reunite her fractured family. Determined to make her dream a reality she advertises for a horse breeder.

Jim Mawgan arrives at Helligen Stud in the Hunter Valley to take up more…

Discovering Stelladiscovering-stella

by K. M. Golland

Only those who are lost can be found.

Stella Walker is fleeing from a past which haunts her on a daily basis, and from a city full of painful reminders of a life that’s no longer hers. In an attempt to escape her memories, she plans to reinvent herself in the sanctuary of a tiny town in rural Victoria, by tracking down the one person she hopes can help, her stepbrother. What Stella doesn’t anticipate is meeting his best friend Lawson Drake, a hotter-than-hot mechanic, the local knight in shining armour – and the most gorgeously more…

buying-thymeBuying Thyme

by TJ Hamilton

What else comes at a price?

Miranda is a high-class escort at an infamous agency in Sydney, and always in demand from their top clients. Although it’s a life she never imagined for herself, Miranda has mastered the art of seducing men and makes a good living from it.

Joe Tench, rich, powerful and more…

Summers with Juliettexsummers-with-juliette.jpg.pagespeed.ic.1jxh4cLHXI

by Emily Madden

No matter where, no matter when, no matter what.

Almost twenty years ago, on a beautiful coastal cliff, Juliette Cole, Anna Kendall and Sera Di Maggio linked pinkies and made a vow to be there for each other no matter what might happen in their lives.

Now Juliette is calling in the promise — terminally ill, she wants more…

outback-emergency-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-Outback Emergency

by Marion Lennox, Fiona Lowe, Lucy Clark

The Doctor’s Rescue Mission – Marion Lennox

A tidal wave has swept across Petrel Island. Houses are destroyed, people injured, homeless…or worse. Dr. Grady Reece leads an Air-Sea Rescue team to help the isolated community…and finds dedicated doctor Morag Lacy in charge.

Morag and Grady once had a blazing affair and a brilliant future, before she left him to be the island doctor. Grady has never stopped loving her – but she’ll never more…

Feels Like Homexfeels-like-home.jpg.pagespeed.ic.ff6d2shuJi

by Lisa Ireland

Lisa Ireland, a brilliant new voice in rural romance, invites you to Linden Gully and the wedding of the year…

When celebrity novelist Johanna Morgan surprises everyone by arriving back in Linden Gully three weeks early for her best friend’s wedding, she’s shocked to find her ex-boyfriend Ryan Galloway is back too and well-integrated in the community as the local more…

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


Nine Naughty Questions with… Maisey Yates, author of Hometown Heartbreaker

hometown-heartbreakerThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Maisey Yates

author of Hometown Heartbreaker

Nine Naughty Questions


Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed décolletage, or the vaguely kinky object against a dark background – what’s your favourite type of romance cover and why?

I really like a clinch cover, personally. It’s classic romance to me. I like seeing the couple together, and I like how clinch covers often give you a sense of the story setting.

2. What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?

Basically a lot of coffee consumption, good friends available to answer my random texts when I’m having a story crisis and a lot of emailing, Facebooking and…yes, writing. That’s the most essential part!

3. At the heart of a romantic story is the way in which the main characters reveal their true natures to each other. How much of yourself do you put into your characters, and have their stories been affected by your personal experiences?NewPic-967x1024

I think my own personal experiences definitely inform how I look at the situations in a story. None of us are neutral. I don’t write characters that I always agree with, and I work hard to empathize with them and their decisions, which for me is where the main personal stuff comes in. I may never have been a small town rancher trying to keep the family spread from going under, but I’ve been afraid. I’ve wanted things. I’ve lost things. And I think as a writer you need to draw on those honest, universal emotions because that’s what makes your story resonate with readers.

4. I’m interested in how you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?

I think romance fiction as a broad term is simply a story where the romantic relationship is at the center, and there is a happy ending. (Basically following the Romance Writers of America definition there.) Within that, there can be explicit sex, no sex and everything in between. Regardless, the story is the focus. The romantic journey is the focus – whether or not it includes love scenes. They’re simply part of it.

Erotic romance is more sexually focused, but still has a HEA. The emotional arc is tied to the sex scenes. The emotional journey of the characters still matters, it’s just that they’re working those emotions out through sex.

Erotica is different still in that it doesn’t necessarily require a happy ending (at least not of the traditional fairy tale sort…).

I think romance has always had a range of heat levels. I’m not fond of the term ‘not your mother’s romance’ mostly because…I hate to break it to you, but your mom’s romance was pretty hot too. Do I think the sexuality in romance is more front and center now as women feel more liberated to discuss it? Yes. That is probably true.

I feel like porn is one of those things…you really don’t have to question when you’ve seen it. You know. It exists purely for sexual gratification and no other reason. The emotional journey isn’t part of it.

I find it fascinating that a film like Shame for example can be sexually explicit and win awards, and not be accused of being pornography by most people, and yet the presence of sex in romance novels is this big talking point. Which I feel pertains to the fact that it is marketed to women, and is an extension of women being told that the things they enjoy are silly or fluffy or wrong in some way.

hometown-heartbreaker5. Please tell us about your latest novel!

Hometown Heartbreaker is a novella in my ongoing Copper Ridge Series, set in a small Oregon town. It’s the story of Aiden, a farmer’s son desperate to keep his alcoholic father from destroying the family business, and Casey, a woman who has spent her whole life moving from place to place.

It was fun to write the dynamic between the vulnerable bad girl who has never depended on anyone, never put down roots, and the solid, good guy who has really never been anywhere but his small town.

And it’s always fun for me to revisit Copper Ridge and give my readers glimpses of other favourite characters, like Eli from Part Time Cowboy and Ace from the upcoming One Night Charmer.

Buy your copy of Hometown Heartbreaker here

6. What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve received after a friend or family member read one of your books?

One of my friends called it marriage therapy for under $5. I was okay with that.

7. Romance writers are sometimes denigrated and asked when they’ll write ‘real’ books – what do you tell the haters?

It’s hard not to just laugh at them. Because it’s such a ridiculous sentiment, and it stems from their lack of education, both about the genre and about the publishing industry as a whole.

But that aside, I’m very proud of what I do, and I believe strongly in my books. I have no trouble telling anyone that I love what I write. I feel good about writing books that focus on love, which is something our world desperately needs.

8. Romance readers love discovering new authors. Please tell us about five books you recently read and loved to bits.9781250051783 (1)

So many books!

I’m cheating by recommending a series but… The Hathaway Series by Lisa Kleypas (alpha males, regency England, forbidden love…so good!)

Rebel Cowboy by Nicole Helm – Ex-hockey player turned llama rancher hero and the heroine he hires to help teach him how to handle his new land in Montana.

Edge of Obsession by Megan Crane – Erotic dystopian Vikings. What more do you need?

You Are Mine by Jackie Ashenden – A dark contemporary romance with a hint of suspense. The hero is to die for.

Castelli’s Virgin Widow by Caitlin Crews – I was lucky to read this M&B Sexy early, and it’s just fantastic high fantasy goodness.

9. Please tell us your favourite scene from your latest book, and why it’s particularly delicious!

I think my favourite scene is when Casey realizes that Aiden’s family and home and security – all things she’s never had – aren’t really an asset to him because of the cost. That he has a deficit too because no one in his life really loves him. I love when the differences in characters become the catalyst that really affects change.

Maisey, thank you for playing.

hometown-heartbreakerHometown Heartbreaker

A Copper Ridge Novella

by Maisey Yates

He knows that Copper Ridge’s newest bartender is running from her past… but will he recognize that she’s his last chance at salvation before she leaves town?

Aiden Crawford knows all about responsibilities. He’s already shouldering more than his share when beautiful drifter Casey James cruises into town with a broken car, a chip on her shoulder, and enough secrets to have her ready to leave Copper Ridge the second she can afford the auto mechanic’s bill. Aiden has more…

Buy your copy of Hometown Heartbreaker here


BOOK REVIEW: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

my beautiful friendReview by John Purcell

Why do I put off reading books which come with a great many excellent recommendations? Is it some residue from my adolescent self, standing firm against the coercion of the group?

Probably something as stupid as that.

Well, I’m glad I overcame that foolishness when it came to picking up this much lauded, discussed and recommended novel, which is the first in a series of novels by that strangely secretive author.

My Brilliant Friend doesn’t grab you by the throat and demand to be read. It is far too self-possessed for that. This is a story told with quiet precision, a story which unfolds effortlessly, placing you firmly in the setting, the outskirts of Naples, introducing you to two very different little girls who become friends before your eyes. Surrounding them is cast of fully realised characters, with backstories and heartbeats, who continue to live richly even when not directly part of the narrative, their stories continuing offstage, as it were.

There is something uniquely compelling about this cool approach. This is a story which seems to declare – I don’t need you, dear reader, to exist.

(By the way, I call balderdash on those who claim that these books are better suited to a female audience).

Learn more about My Brilliant Friend here!

My Beautiful Friend
The Neapolitan Novels: Book 1

by Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translator)

my beautiful friendThe story of Elena and Lila begins in a poor but vibrant neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples. The two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else, sometimes to their own detriment, as each discovers more about who she is and suffers or delights in the throes of their intense friendship.

There is a piercing honesty about Ferrante’s prose that makes My Brilliant Friend a compulsively readable portrait of two young women, and also the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country.

My Brilliant Friend is a ravishing, wonderfully written novel about a friendship that lasts a lifetime.

Learn more about My Brilliant Friend here!

And the Finalists for the 2015 Australian Romance Readers Awards are…


The Australian Romance Readers Association have announced the finalists for the 2015 Australian Romance Readers Awards…..and the end result is delectable. ARRA members can now vote for their favourite in each category, but you have until 28 February to vote!

Winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner, which will be held on 19 March 2016. For more details about the night click here.

Favourite Paranormal Romance

Aquila by Sue-Ellen Pashley
Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh
Midnight’s Kiss by Thea Harrison
Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh
Spiritbound by Dani Kristoff
The MacGregor by Jenny Brigalow
Tribal Law by Shannon Curtis

Favourite Sci Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance

1916-ish by Ebony McKenna
Base by Cathleen Ross
Chaos Broken by Rebekah Turner
Dark Horse by Michelle Diener
Honour Bound by M.A. Grant
Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews
The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr

Favourite Short/Category Romance – proudly sponsored by Harlequin Australia

Bound to the Bachelor by Sarah Mayberry
Fire Me Up by Rachael Johns
Her Big Sky Cowboy by Alissa Callen
Hired by the Brooding Billionaire by Kandy Shepherd
Hold Me, Cowboy by Alissa Callen
Seducing His Enemy’s Daughter by Annie West
The Billionaire’s Passionate Revenge by Jennifer St George
The Millionaire and the Maid by Michelle Douglas
The Sultan’s Harem Bride by Annie West
What a Bachelor Needs by Kelly Hunter

Favourite Historical Romance

A Pirate for Christmas by Anna Campbell
A Scoundrel by Moonlight by Anna Campbell
Chieftain in the Making by Frances Housden
Moonstone Conspiracy by Elizabeth Ellen Carter
The Duke’s Daughter by Sasha Cottman
The Horse Thief by Tea Cooper
The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Anne Long
The Protector by Allison Butler
The Seduction of Lord Stone by Anna Campbell
The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie

Favourite Contemporary Romance

Honor’s Promise by Noelle Clark
Lawless in Leather by Melanie Scott
Only We Know by Victoria Purman
So Far Into You by Lily Malone
Sweet Wattle Creek by Kaye Dobbie
The Deal by Elle Kennedy
The Patterson Girls by Rachael Johns
The Road to Hope by Rachael Johns
The Saddler Boys by Fiona Palmer
The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

Favourite Erotic Romance

Anticipation by Sarah Mayberry
Exhibition by Nicolette Hugo
Revue by K.M. Golland
The Arrangement by Nicolette Hugo

Favourite Romantic Suspense

A Dangerous Arrangement by Lee Christine
Cold Deception by D.B. Tait
Desperate Deception by D.B. Tait
Northern Heat by Helene Young
Runaway Lies by Shannon Curtis
Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz
Storm Clouds by Bronwyn Parry
Treasured Secrets by Kendall Talbot

Favourite Continuing Romance Series

Chance Sisters series by Anne Gracie
Elder Races series by Thea Harrison
Hope Junction series by Rachael Johns
Jackson Brothers series by Kelly Hunter
Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
London Steampunk series by Bec McMaster
Off Campus series by Elle Kennedy
Robinhill Farm series by Noelle Clark
Sons of Sin series by Anna Campbell
The Hawke Brothers series by Rachel Bailey
Treasured series by Kendall Talbot

Favourite Australian Romance Author 2015 – proudly sponsored by Booktopia

Amy Andrews
Anna Campbell
Anne Gracie
Cathryn Hein
Kelly Hunter
Keri Arthur
Kylie Scott
Noelle Clark
Rachael Johns
Sarah Mayberry

And the finalists for the Members’ Choice categories are …

Favourite Cover from a romance published in 2015

Northern Heat by Helene Young
Runaway Lies by Shannon Curtis
Second Chance Love by Susanne Bellamy
Storm Clouds by Bronwyn Parry
Summer and the Groomsman by Cathryn Hein
The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr
The Horse Thief by Tea Cooper
The Seduction of Lord Stone by Anna Campbell
The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie
Wicked Embers by Keri Arthur

The Strongest Heroine from a romance published in 2015

Claire Swensen in Second Chance Love by Susanne Bellamy
Jane Chance in The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie
Julia Taylor in Cold Deception by DB Tait
Kristy Dark in Northern Heat by Helene Young
Natalie Wright from The Saddler Boys by Fiona Palmer
Rosalina in Treasured Lies by Kendall Talbot

Favourite New Romance Author for 2015

Abbie Jackson
Elyse Huntington
Joanne Dannon
Kerrie Paterson
Lizzy Chandler
Nicolette Hugo
Sue-Ellen Pashley

Love romance? Stay in touch with Romance at Booktopia!



10 Kickass Women in Books (by Maria Lewis)

10 Kickass Women In Books

by Maria Lewis

There’s a common misconception that to be a ‘Strong Female Character’ you have to have masculine traits, like physical strength. Now while I’m all for having the ability to punch a brother in the face when the moment calls for it, there are other values I’d argue are just as kickass – and powerful. Courage of conviction, kindness and compassion wrapped in a floral sundress are just as strong (if not stronger).

Like the list of literary heroines below, it’s their diversity in character traits that make then unforgettable. Whether it’s Rose Hathaway’s skill at delivering roundhouse kicks or Lisbeth Salander’s unrivalled intelligence, it’s their differences that mark them as extraordinary.

Maria Lewis

Maria Lewis’ debut novel Who’s Afraid? is available now. Grab your copy here!

Ellie Linton

From: The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden

EllieLintonProof that you don’t need superpowers to be a superhero, Ellie Linton is (arguably) the most memorable woman in Australian fiction. A freedom fighter, revolutionary and faithful friend, her greatest gift is her resourcefulness. Able to adapt to increasingly grave situations throughout John Marsden’s two series’, Ellie sacrifices her personal and emotional well-being again and again and again for the greater good. As someone who can make a bomb as easily as she can take down an ENTIRE AIRFIELD BASE, she’s definitely someone you want on your fictional zombie apocalypse team.


Learn more about The Tomorrow Series here!


From: Matilda by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl, you amazing, twisted genius. We see what you did there, introducing a proto-feminist character into the minds of wee girls in their formative years. Kudos. So sure, Matilda’s telekinetic abilities are about as incredible as her potential to go full Carrie at a moment’s notice, yet it’s her kindness and compassion that define her. It takes some adults their whole life to care and understand people the way Matilda does – and she hasn’t even hit high school yet.

Learn more about Matilda here!

BellatrixBellatrix_Lestrange Lestrange

From: The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

There’s always so much talk of bad boys, but how about a shout out for the bad girls eh?

J.K. Rowling’s universe was rich with great ladies – from Hermione and Mrs Weasley, to Tonks and Angelina Johnson – yet there’s something oh-so-captivating about Bellatrix Lestrange. Whether it’s her commitment to the cause or maniacal ambitions, she survives in a largely male dominated field purely by being better than everyone else. So here’s a toast to the bat-shit crazy broads of bookdom *raises glass*.

Learn more about The Harry Potter Series here!

Lisbeth Salanderlisbeth

From: The Millennium Series by Steig Larsson

Perhaps excluding Katniss Everdeen, no other heroine has risen to the fore of the pop culture lexicon like Lisbeth Salander has in recent years. And for good reason. Deeply complex, skilled and fascinating, the girl with the dragon tattoo is the very epitome of fierce. A survivor to the very end, few characters have been written as beautifully as Stieg Larsson’s reboot of the femme fatale archetype.

Learn about The Millennium Series here!

 Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk

From: Marvel Comics

She-HulkGetting her start as the Hulk/Bruce Banner’s cousin in Marvel Comics in the eighties, She-Hulk – or Shulkie, as she’s affectionately known – got to smash into long form with Marta Acosta’s most excellent novelisation The She-Hulk Diaries. As righteous lawyer Jennifer Walters defending truth, justice and the occasional superhero by day, she frequently turns green to fight crime as She-Hulk. Physically almost undefeatable in Shulkie form, it’s not the green woman that’s remarkable: battling sexism in the courtroom and the misogynistic politics of the superhero universe, Jennifer is not afraid to stand up for the little people and call out bullshit where she sees it. In her own words: “Male is not default gender for hero.”

Learn more about She-Hulk here!

Ardelia Mappsilence-of-the-lambs

From: Hannibal Lecter Series by Thomas Harris

Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter series is packed full of kickass female characters: from Clarice Starling to Margot Verger. Yet it’s Starling’s long-suffering best friend Ardelia Mapp who never gets the appreciation she deserves.

One of the most loyal literary ladies, she’s whip-smart and compassionate in a world full of villains.

Learn about the Hannibal Lecter Series here!

Rose Hathaway

From: The Vampire Diaries Series by Richelle Mead

ROSE HALLAWAYRichelle Mead has a gift when it comes to writing women that you want to spend time with. Heck, you want to read all several books in the franchise and then the spin-offs, just to get another taste.

While her series’ aimed at adults have produced some memorable femmes (Eugenie Markham, Mae Koskinen, Georgina Kincaid), it’s her uber successful YA hit Vampire Academy that gave us Rose Hathaway. A sassy, sexy, slayer, the brilliance in the character of Rose is her shortcomings: it’s her many flaws that make her interesting and it’s her quest into maturity as she masters them that makes her lovable. Bonus points for having fighting skills as deadly as her barbed tongue.

Learn about The Vampires Diaries here!


From: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

EowynShe. Is. No. Man. The only woman in the history of the Lord Of The Rings universe to slay a Nazgul, meeting the Witch King of Angmar in combat during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in The Return of the King. The shield maiden of Rohan is a kickass woman with emotional depth and a clear moral compass (although she can’t make soup for shit). The inspiration for the next one hundred years of bad-ass lady knights in literary fiction (everyone from Brienne Of Tarth to Alanna of Trebond), one of Eowyn’s most redeemable qualities is her heart.

Learn more about The Lord of the Rings Trilogy here!

Hannah Payne

From: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

when-she-wokeHerself a modern version of a famous literary femme – Hester Prynne – Hillary Jordan’s reworking of The Scarlet Letter gave us more than just a terrifying dystopian vision of the US where there is zero separation between church and state. It gave us Hannah Payne, a woman whose skin is dyed red to publically mark her for murder. Facing adversity and public shaming on a national scale would be enough to twist anyone’s soul into something dark and pointy, yet Hannah remains a rational and resilient woman set on making it to a land where the laws aren’t as barbaric.

Learn more about When She Woke here!

Hua Mulan

From: Ballad of Mulan

mulanWomen don’t get much more epic than Mulan: girlfriend would lead an army and defend a kingdom all before brunch. One of the first warrior women to appear in text, she has been immortalised in everything from Disney animated movies to live-action blockbusters. First introduced into the pop culture lexicon in the Ballad Of Mulan, she has appeared in countless novels since then which all expand her basic storyline of a young woman who takes her father’s place in the army and leads the Chinese to victory, before becoming one of the most renowned warriors in the nation’s history. All significant, but the most kickass thing about Mulan? She’s based on an actual historical figure.

Learn more about Mulan here!

Who’s Afraid?

by Maria Lewis

who-s-afraid-Tommi Grayson’s never exactly been a normal girl. Bright blue hair, a mysterious past and barely controlled rage issues have a way of making a woman stand out. Yet she’s never come close to guessing who she really is.

When her mother dies, a shattered Tommi decides to track down her estranged father. Leaving Scotland for a remote corner of New Zealand, she discovers the truth of her heritage – and it’s a whole lot more than merely human. Barely escaping with her life, now Tommi must return to her her friends, pretending everything is normal, while all too aware of the dangers lurking outside – and within. Worse still, something has followed her home…

About Maria Lewis

Maria Lewis got her start covering police rounds in a newsroom as a teenager and has been working as a professional journalist for the past 10 years. Making the switch from writing about murders to movie stars was not a difficult decision. A former reporter at The Daily Telegraph, she also wrote about all things film and entertainment related as the Showbusiness Reporter for The Daily Mail. Her work has appeared in the New York Post, Empire magazine, Huffington Post, The Sunday Mail, Junkee and BuzzFeed, to name but a few.

Grab your copy of Who’s Afraid? here!


Happy Shadowhunter Day! (by Sarah McDuling)

Happy Shadowhunter Day, everyone!

For those unfamiliar with the world of shadowhunting, I should explain that today is the day that the new TV Show Shadowhunters, based on The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, is airing globally on Netflix.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Now this is interesting for several reasons. Firstly, this is actually the second attempt to adapt The Mortal Instruments series. You might recall a few years ago there was a movie called, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones? Then again, you may not remember. Not a whole lot of people saw the movie which, while embraced by a loyal cult following, was not exactly what you would call a great cinematic triumph.

In the wake of the movie, rumours of a sequel spluttered and slowly died away. It seemed The Mortal Instruments movie franchise was well and truly dead. But then, much like a glorious phoenix rising from the ashes, the Internet exploded with the surprising news that there was going to be a Mortal Instruments TV Show!

The second point of interest in this tale is that the series, which premiered on ABC Family last night in the US, will be aired globally through Netflix. This is great news for fans who will not have to wait to watch the show. Each episode will be available all over the world less than 24 hours after it airs in the US.

Finally, this is a case of perfect timing as Cassandra Clare’s latest book, Lady Midnight, is coming out at the beginning of March. Set in the same world as The Mortal Instruments series, Lady Midnight will feature a whole new cast of Shadowhunters and is expected to be one of the biggest Young Adult Fiction releases of 2016.

Copy of LadyMidnight_NewsletterBanner-616x150px
Will the TV Show be better than the movie? Could it possibly be as good (or better) than the books? Will Lady Midnight live up to the hype? Most importantly – will I have time to read my way through all six books of The Mortal Instruments series, plus the three books in the The Infernal Devices series before the release of Lady Midnight in March? Only time will tell!

Pre-Order your copy of Lady Midnight here!

Lady Midnight

by Cassandra Clare

Lady midnight coverThe Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across … Read More.

Pre-Order your copy of Lady Midnight here!


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