And the winner of The Ploughmen prize pack is…

During July/August we gave you the chance to win a book pack for dad valued at $199.

All you needed to do to enter was buy The Ploughmen by Kim J. Zupan

And the lucky winner is…

J.Scott, Neerim Junction, VIC

 

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9781447247814The Ploughmen

by Kim J. Zupan

The story of two men – a killer awaiting trial, and a troubled young deputy – sitting across from each other in the dark, talking through the bars of a county jail cell.

John Gload, so brutally adept at his craft that only now, at the age of 71, has he faced the prospect of long-term incarceration; and Valentine Millimaki, low man in the Copper County sheriff’s department, who draws the overnight shift after Gload’s arrest, tasked with getting the killer to talk about a string of unsolved murders. With a disintegrating marriage now further collapsing under the strain of his night duty, and his safety threatened from within his own department, Millimaki finds himself seeking counsel from a remorseless criminal. The strange intimacy of their connection takes a startling turn with a brazen act of violence, a manhunt, and a stunning revelation that leave Gload’s past and Millimaki’s future forever entwined.

Grab a copy of The Ploughmen here


Congratulations to the winner!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

The Best First World War Novels (in my opinion)

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You’re going to hear, see and read a lot about the First World War in the next few years. A hundred year anniversary is a big deal. But most of what you’re going to be told is bullsh*t. If you want to know something closer to the truth, read the works of those who were there.

The First World War was an equal opportunity war, destroying the lives of rich and poor, simpleton and genius alike. Some of the geniuses made it out alive, and after a few years of trying to forget, gave in and turned horror into art, the best they could. What follows is my personal selection of those efforts. The best according to me.


parade-s-endParade’s End by Ford Madox Ford

Ford’s masterly story of destruction and regeneration follows the progress of Christopher Tietjens as his world is shattered by the Great War.

In four volumes – Some Do Not . . ., No More Parades, A Man Could Stand Up and The Last PostParade’s End traces the psychological damage inflicted by battle, the collapse of England’s secure Edwardian values and the new age, embodied by Tietjens’ beautiful, selfish wife Sylvia. It is an elegy for the war dead and the passing of a way of life, and a work of amazing subtlety and profundity.

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the-middle-parts-of-fortuneThe Middle Parts of Fortune by Frederick Manning

The drumming of the guns continued, with bursts of great intensity. It was as though a gale streamed overhead, piling up great waves of sound, and hurrying them onwards to crash in surf on the enemy entrenchments. The windless air about them, by its very stillness, made that unearthly music more terrible to hear.

First published anonymously in 1929 because its language was considered far too frank for public circulation, The Middle Parts of Fortune was hailed by more…

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under-fire

Under Fire by Henri Barbusse

‘Men are made to be husbands, fathers – men, in short! Not animals that hunt one another down’

Under Fire follows the fortune of a French battalion during the First World War. For this group of ordinary men, thrown together from all over France and longing for home, war is simply a matter of survival, and the arrival of their rations, a glimpse of a pretty girl or a brief reprieve in hospital is all they can hope for.

Based directly on Henri Barbusse’s experiences of the trenches, Under Fire is the most famous French novel of the more…

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all-quiet-on-the-western-front

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT is the most famous anti-war novel ever written.

One by one the boys begin to fall…

In 1914 a room full of German schoolboys, fresh-faced and idealistic, are goaded by their schoolmaster to troop off to the ‘glorious war’. With the fire and patriotism of youth they sign up. What follows is the moving story of a young ‘unknown soldier’ experiencing the horror and disillusionment of life in the trenches.

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a-farewell-to-armsA Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

In 1918 Ernest Hemingway went to war, to the ‘war to end all wars’. He volunteered for ambulance service in Italy, was wounded and twice decorated. Out of his experiences came A Fairwell to Arms. Hemingway’s description of war is unforgettable. He recreates the fear, the comradeship, the courage of his young American volunteer and the men and women he meets in Italy with total conviction. But A Fairwell to Arms is not only a novel of war. In it Hemingway has also created a love story of immense drama and uncompromising passion.

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death-of-a-hero Death of a Hero by Richard Aldington

One of the great antiwar novels of all time-honest, chilling, and brilliantly satirical.

Acclaimed poet Richard Aldington based his first novel on his own experiences on the Western Front during World War I. It tells the story of George Winterbourne, who enlists in the British Army and is sent to France. After a rash of casualties leads to his promotion through the ranks, he grows increasingly cynical about the war and disillusioned by the hypocrisies of British society. Aldington’s writing about the ignorance of Britain to the tribulations of its soldiers is utterly scathing, and his prose vividly evokes the morally degrading nature of combat. As Death of a Hero races to its astounding finish, the novel builds into a masterpiece of war literature.

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the-complete-memoirs-of-george-sherstonThe Complete Memoirs of George Sherston by Siegfried Sassoon

The Complete Memoirs of George Sherston includes:

Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man (1928)
George Sherston develops from a shy and awkward child, through shiftless adolescence, to an officer just beginning to understand the horrors of trench warfare. The world he grows up in, of village cricket and loyal grooms, had vanished forever by the time Sassoon wrote this book, but he captures it with a lyricism and gentleness that defy nostalgia.

A bestseller on publication in 1928, this superb evocation of the Edwardian age has remained in print ever since. It was the first volume of a classic trilogy, completed by more…

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

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


Night of a Thousand Stars

by Deanna Raybourn

This gorgeous romantic adventure begins when the heroine, Poppy Hammond, climbs out a window in her wedding gown, determined to escape her marriage to a stuck-up and sexually inept aristocrat. A handsome curate named Sebastian Cantrip helps her escape to her father’s quiet country village, pursued by her irate fiancé and family. Poppy doesn’t really know her father, but she can’t think where else to go. But then Sebastian disappears in mysterious circumstances and Poppy sets out to discover what has happened to him. The trail leads her to Damascus … and into danger, adventure and romance.

Like all of Deanna Raybourn’s books, Night of a Thousand Stars is utterly charming – I wish someone would make it into a movie!

Grab a copy of Night of a Thousand Stars here


Winter in Madrid

by C. J. Sansom

I’m a big fan of C. J. Sansom’s Tudor murder mysteries featuring the hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake, and so I eager to read his stand-alone novel Winter in Madrid, which is set in Spain during the 1930s and early 1940. The story is about a young man named Harry Brett, who is employed by the British embassy in Spain, primarily because of his connection with a former school friend, Sandy Forsyth, who is now a person-of-interest to the British Secret Service. Madrid lies in ruins after the Spanish Civil War.

Corruption and cruelty are rife, and Harry – who is still suffering from the aftermath of injuries he sustained at Dunkirk – is lonely and uncomfortable with his new role as secret agent. His path crosses with a young Spanish woman named Sofia, and Harry finds himself falling in love. Meanwhile, Harry needs to try and work his way into Sandy’s confidences … only to find himself caught up in intrigues beyond his understanding. Partly an old-fashioned spy thriller and partly a tragic love story, Winter in Madrid illuminates the Spanish Civil War in all its complexity and brings the place and the time to vibrant life.

Grab a copy of Winter in Madrid here


Hitler’s Valkyrie: The Uncensored Biography of Unity Mitford

by David R. L. Litchfield

I should have been warned by the words ‘uncensored’ – this rehash of the life of the least lovable Mitford sister was the worst kind of trash-mash possible. For those of you who do not know about Unity Mitford, she was one of six famous aristocratic sisters who enlivened life in Britain between the wars, but – for at least two of them – fell a cropper once World War II started. Unity Valkyrie Mitford was the fourth of the seven Mitford children (there was one boy, who died tragically at the end of the war); the sisters are popularly known as Nancy the Novelist, Pamela the Poultry Freak; Diana the Fascist; Unity the Hitler Freak; Jessica the Red; and Deborah the Duchess.

They are entirely fascinating, but this biography adds nothing but smut and slime to the tragic story of a young woman who fell in love with Hitler and shot herself as a result. There are much better places to learn her story.

 Grab a copy of Hitler’s Valkyrie: The Uncensored Biography of Unity Mitford here


Hitler’s English Girlfriend: The Story of Unity Mitford

by David Rehak

This biography of Unity Mitford – while rather lightweight and under-referenced – is a much better introduction to the sad but fascinating life of the fourth of the famous sisters. She was a rebel and a misfit as a child, never quite as clever as Nancy, or as beautiful as Diana, or as amusing as Jessica. She grew obsessed with Hitler while still a teenager, and convinced her parents to send her to a finishing school in Munich where she spent her days sitting in the Führer’s favourite restaurant, hoping for a glimpse of the man she idolised. One day he beckoned her over, and she wrote rapturous letters to her father and sisters about the experience. He was most interested to know that her full name was Unity Valkyrie Mitford and that she had been conceived in a town named Swastika (it seems too eerie to be true, doesn’t it?).

For the next few years, Unity was part of Hitler’s inner circle. She wrote awful, spine-chilling anti-Semitic rants to newspapers to prove herself to him, and denounced friends who spoke against him. It seems she hoped he’d marry her. When Great Britain declared war on Germany following Hitler’s invasion of Poland, Unity shot herself in the head. She was only twenty-five. Although she survived, her life was ruined and she died of complications from the gunshot wound nine years later.

Grab a copy of Hitler’s English Girlfriend: The Story of Unity Mitford here


The Crystal Heart

by Sophie Masson

I’m really enjoying this new series of YA fairy-tale-retellings-romances from Sophie Masson. The Crystal Heart draws its inspiration very loosely from ‘Rapunzel’, one of my own personal favourite wonder tales – yet the novel is much more interested in what happens once the girl escapes the tower. Izolda is rescued by a young army conscript called Kasper, who ends up a prisoner as a result. He must suffer his own ordeal before he can travel to the dark underground kingdom of Izolda’s father and try to win back her love.

These stories are fast-paced, suspenseful and surprising … and deserve as much attention as the many celebrated fairy tale retellings coming out of the USA at the moment.

Grab a copy of The Crystal Heart here


The Eagle Has Landed

by Jack Higgins

I’ve had this old, battered paperback on my bookshelf for years, first reading it as a teenager. Feeling in need of a good thriller, I dug it out and re-read it. He really is one of the masters of the genre. The pages just whizzed past, yet every character sprung to life on the page and the story itself is utterly compelling. A squad of crack German paratroopers sent on a desperate mission to kidnap Winston Churchill. A middle-aged but still attractive widow living in the quiet village with her dog who is really a German spy. A charming IRA assassin who falls for a pretty village girl, and finds himself torn between ideology and love.

The writer himself, stumbling upon the story one day quite by chance, and doggedly pursuing it across continents. I’ve read a few wartime thrillers lately, but this was by far the best. It just goes to show its harder than it looks.

Grab a copy of The Eagle Has Landed here


 The Husband’s Secret

by Liane Moriarty

The Husband’s Secret has had an incredible success in both the US and UK, despite being set in contemporary Australia – something which those in the know say is almost impossible to do. It’s the story of the entwining lives of several women – all mothers and all dealing with the impact of a revealed secret upon their lives. It’s an incredibly real, savvy, funny and heart-breaking book. The characters all feel as if they could just walk off the page, sit next to you, and have a chat. The story itself is incredibly gripping and suspenseful … and yet the story is set in a normal Sydney suburb, with normal Australian men and women.

It’s also a real emotional rollercoaster – one moment you’re laughing out loud, and the next you’re reaching for a tissue. Utterly brilliant!

Grab a copy of The Husband’s Secret here


The Man in the Brown Suit

by Agatha Christie

Every now and again I like to snuggle down with an old favourite, even though I know the ending…I’m a real Agatha Christie fan, and this is my favourite of her books. It is as much an adventure story as it is a murder mystery, and the indomitable heroine Anne is one of Christie’s most charming creations. She is an impoverished orphan who one day witnesses a man stepping backwards on to the tube rails. A doctor steps forward and examines the body, but something about his actions bothers Anne. She begins to investigate … and finds herself setting out for Africa on a dangerous quest that may very well cost her her life…

Blurb: A young woman investigates an accidental death at a London tube station, and finds herself of a ship bound for South Africa…Pretty, young Anne came to London looking for adventure. In fact, adventure comes looking for her — and finds her immediately at Hyde Park Corner tube station.

Anne is present on the platform when a thin man, reeking of mothballs, loses his more…

Grab a copy of The Man in the Brown Suit here


 Evergreen Falls

by Kimberley Freeman

I love Kimberley Freeman’s books. They are absolutely compulsively readable. The pages just race past as I read as fast as is humanely possible – I’m always desperate to find out what happens. I always love a novel that interweaves a contemporary narrative with a historical one, but often you find one narrative thread is much more interesting than the other (with me, I usually love the story set in the past the best). This isn’t true of Kimberley, though. Her contemporary story is as always as interesting and compelling as the other. I love her mix of romance and mystery and family drama, and can only wish that she could write just a little faster! I always get that little prickle of tears at the end of one of her books that show I’ve been really moved.

This one is set in the Blue Mountains, a place I know well. The setting of a glamorous hotel in the 1920s – and the same hotel, now decayed and half in ruins – is incredibly atmospheric and reminded me of an Agatha Christie book. In short: I loved it! A must read for anyone who loves a big, fat, heart-warming read.

Grab a copy of Evergreen Falls here


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

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

Click here to see Kate’s author page

And the World’s Best Diet is…. World’s Best Diet

world-s-best-dietWorld’s Best Diet is not a ‘diet’, it’s a lifestyle change designed for real people.

Having achieved your goal weight, this is how you eat for the rest of your life. The program is based on one of the world’s largest dietary studies and combines a higher protein intake with low-GI carbs, which has been proven to prevent weight regain ‘creep’.

With delicious, satisfying recipes and easy-to-follow guidelines, this book is the ultimate solution to your weight problems.

The World’s Best Diet may sound like an extravagant claim. However, unlike many grandiose claims made in the weight loss industry, this book is backed by solid scientific evidence.

Grab a copy of World’s Best Diet here

world's best diet_1 world's best diet_2 world's best diet_3 world's best diet_4 world's best diet_5 world's best diet_6 world's best diet_7Grab a copy of World’s Best Diet here

If I Stay – The next Fault in our Stars?

After the runaway success of the Fault in Our Stars movie, which grossed over a quarter of a billion dollars worldwide, everyone seems to be looking for the next book to film adaptation they can really get their feels on with.

Enter If I Stay.

Based on the bestselling novel by Gayle Forman, If I Stay boasts megastar Chloe Grace Moretz and an heartbreaking exploration of that fickle mistress, choice.

Now we’re not saying that the film will be disappointing, in fact we think it’ll be a hit. But you know, the book is always, kind of, possibly, in our opinion, better. So why not grab a copy today…

Grab a copy of If I Stay here

If I Stay

by Gayle Forman

‘Just listen,’ Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.’ I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen. ‘Stay,’ he says.

Everybody has to make choices. Some might break you.

For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend decisions might seem tough, but they’re all about a future full of music and love, a future that’s brimming with hope. But life can change in an instant. A cold February morning …a snowy road …and suddenly all of Mia’s choices are gone. Except one. As alone as she’ll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.

Haunting, heartrending and ultimately life-affirming, If I Stay will make you appreciate all that you have, all that you’ve lost – and all that might be. Includes interviews with the stars of the film, Chloe Moretz and Jamie Blackley.

Grab a copy of If I Stay here

Grab a copy of If I Stay here

If you’re one of the beautiful people who follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you probably entered our competitions to win a double pass to see If I Stay at the movies.

Thanks to everyone for entering. The winners are…

Facebook: Karina Lay, Deanne Fletcher, Belinda Finn, Laura Jones, Nicole Barrah

Instagram: @dmstacey, @cassidyparer, @i_yam_not_a_yam

Twitter: @_nassep, @madison_bauer, @profangirl9

Winners, please email your details to promos@booktopia.com.au and we’ll get your tickets out to you ASAP!

Pre-order the most anticipated book of the year now!

Click here for more details or to buy...Lena Dunham is many, many things. Creator, actor, producer and writer of the award-winning cult television show Girls, the first thing you have to know about Lena is that she’s unafraid to say exactly what she thinks.

She’s also provocative, very funny, original, dead-pan, disturbing, neurotic, simultaneously deep and shallow, and often way, way out there.

Not That Kind of Girl is a collection of her experiences, stories that have, as she describes them, “little baby morals”: about dieting, about dressing, about friendship and existential crises.

These are stories that most twenty something year old girls will be able to relate to: about getting her butt touched at an internship and having to prove herself in a meeting full of 50-year-old men. It’s all about trying to work out what to wear, what to say and how to be, every single day.

For readers of Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris, this hilarious, poignant, and extremely frank collection of personal essays confirms Lena Dunham—the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO’s Girls—as one of the brightest and most original writers working today.Author: Lena Dunham

If I could take what I’ve learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine was worthwhile. I’m already predicting my future shame at thinking I had anything to offer you, but also my future glory in having stopped you from trying an expensive juice cleanse or thinking that it was your fault when some guy suddenly got weird and defensive talking about your cool interests and job. No, I am not a sexpert, a psychologist or a dietician. I am not a happily married woman or the owner of a successful support hosiery franchise. But I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, sending hopeful dispatches from the frontlines of that struggle.

Grab a copy of Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl here

Grab a copy of Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl here

Masterchef’s Gary Mehigan introduces his new book Favourites

Favourites

by Gary Mehigan

Sometimes it strikes me that my obsession with food is bordering on the unhealthy. Everything I do is centred around it: my work, obviously, but also evenings at home spent cooking for the family, watching food programs on television and tweeting and facebooking about food. Going to the growers’ market bright and early on a Saturday morning, followed by breakfast at a cafe, then same again on Sunday. Dinners out, too many coffee stops, long drives in the country that strangely enough always end with a food reward (cheese, chocolate or wine from the Yarra Valley; berries, cherries and olives from the Mornington Peninsula; or beer, bread and honey from Beechworth). I mean, who drives seven kilometres for a tub of the best, freshly churned ice cream? These are the forgotten food miles.

Holidays are worse. My first thoughts are always ‘Where haven’t I eaten?’ and ‘Where would I like to eat again?’ Whether it’s France, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam or New Zealand, the pattern is the same and, frankly, inescapable for my family. We went to Tuscany for our last holiday so I could visit the Amedei chocolate factory. I mean, you’ve seen one duomo, you’ve seen ‘em all, right?

Grab a copy of Gary Mehigan’s Favourites here

My wife, Mandy, has succumbed to the inevitable (my daughter, bless her cotton socks, doesn’t know any different). ‘Any chance we can go out for a change?’ Mandy might ask. ‘What!’ I reply. ‘We go out four or five times a week, always trying the latest thing.’ ‘No,’ she says, ‘out, but not involving food. Maybe dancing, the pictures, a walk, the ballet or a museum?’ I’m still digesting that one!

Now and then I wonder if I should be doing something else with my time, like learning to play tennis or finally nailing my conversational French instead of making do with my culinary pidgin. But, on the whole, I’ve come to accept that my obsession with food is all – encompassing, and that’s the way I like it. I’m never happier than when I’m thinking about food, talking about food, shopping for food or eating. I love the generosity of spirit that comes with being a cook: feeding people and feeding them well, often to bursting point. Years ago I very deliberately stopped trying to draw a line in the sand to distinguish between work and play, and now I live by the motto ‘Always working, always playing’. This has helped me manage my condition considerably.

Not only do I love experiencing all that a good food life has to offer, but I also relish sharing my experiences and knowledge with others. For this, my fourth cookbook, I was inspired to sit down and write a list of my favourite dishes: absolutely everything I love to eat. I thought back to the meals of my childhood as well as those from my early career as a chef in London. I thought of the food I cook for my wife and daughter at home that have become family classics. And I thought of the wealth of amazing dishes from talented cooks and chefs, both here and abroad, that I have been lucky enough to try over the years as co – host of MasterChef Australia. As the list ballooned to over 200 dishes, I had to restrain myself! After much deliberation, I whittled it down to just over 100, and here they are – my all – time favourite dishes.

Grab a copy of Gary Mehigan’s Favourites here

This is a diverse collection. I was classically trained in French cuisine, and there is no getting away from the fact that I love French cooking – the flavours are bold, satisfying and familiar. By contrast, living in Australia we are inescapably immersed in the pleasures of food multiculturalism; we think nothing of eating Thai or Chinese on a Monday night, Malay or Vietnamese on a Tuesday, maybe Spanish or North African on a Wednesday and roast chook on a Thursday. We love fresh food, we love sweet, sour, salt and heat and, above all, crunch. How lucky we are.

Good food always starts with good shopping – it’s where the inspiration begins. We are all guilty of trudging around the supermarket and putting exactly the same things in the shopping trolley each week (you know what I mean: skinless chicken breasts, lamb chops, a block of cheddar and some tinned tuna). It’s easy, let’s face it – but it’s pretty uninspiring too. I’ve found the secret to creative cooking at home is to buy at least a few different fruits or vegetables, cuts of meat, fish, spices, pastes or vinegars, get them home and have a go at a new recipe or two each week. I also find that a trip to the local Asian grocer always turns up a few surprises; things that add instant authenticity to a dish, like thick dark soy sauce, coconut vinegar, lily buds, black beans or rice noodles. Pop them in your basket and they’ll change the dishes you put on the family table.

If you’re lucky enough to live near a growers’ market, make the most of it. The stallholders are a wonderful source of information because they live what they do, and most often they love it too! You’ll easily fall into a pattern of buying the best the season has to offer. When a particular ingredient looks fantastic, seems to be everywhere at once and is at its cheapest, buy it and eat lots of it!

I hope this book is a little window into my life of food. Have fun, and remember to bite off small chunks of recipes, give yourself time to chew and always leave room for more. In other words, never get frustrated in the kitchen, take a little time if you are tackling something out of the ordinary and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Cook, Eat and Live Your Life Well!

Grab a copy of Gary Mehigan’s Favourites here

Grab a copy of Gary Mehigan’s Favourites here

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