Become a Netball Gem during the Netball World Cup!

Netball World CupDid you know the most amazing netball players in the world are in the same place at the same time – right now – in Australia!

The Netball World Cup is currently being held in Sydney, wrapping up on the 16th August.

If you’re not in Sydney to watch the games, don’t worry, Fox Sports will cover all the Netball World Cup games and Network Ten will broadcast the Australian Diamonds’ matches on Ten or One. These games will be too good to miss!

Australia and New Zealand are still the top two teams in the world and the ones most likely to play in the World Cup Grand Final. But England and Jamaica are working hard to change that. Keep an eye on England, they are the team most likely to cause an upset and get into the Grand Final!

5 tips to make the most of netball fever and become a great player!

  1. Keep a netball in your hands as much as possible – toss it from one hand to the other, throw it in the air and snatch it back, roll it away and scoop it up. Soon that ball will become an extension of you and you won’t drop it in a game – you’ll be the one with ‘safe’ hands!
  1. Wherever you go you can practise your pivot! Run instead of walking. Jump and land on one foot first, keep it on the ground and step forward onto the other. Then you can swivel around to change direction, keeping the first foot planted and using the other to rebalance when you turn.
  1. Use some chalk to mark three separate crosses, each at chest height, on an outside wall. Step back five steps and face the wall. See if you can throw the netball so it hits the crosses you have marked. Now try it at ten steps away!
  1. Grab a chair and use the chalk again to mark three crosses high on the wall, one above the other. Remove the chair and see if you can jump up and touch the crosses.
  1. Do you have a goal ring in your backyard? If so, practise goaling every day. Try starting up close, then every time you score a goal take one step back and shoot again. If you miss a goal, take one step forward instead. Follow up every goal by grabbing the rebound. Imagine you are trying to beat someone else to it!

Warning: If you follow these tips you may find yourself playing in the Netball World Cup one day!

Read the Netball Gem series for more tips and great netball stories!

netball-gems-1Netball Gems

By Lisa Gibbs and Bernadette Hellard

A junior fiction series written in partnership with Netball Australia Join the girls from the Netball Gems for action, excitement and laughter – both on and off the court!

Maddy can’t wait to play her first game of netball with her new team. She’s been training hard and is eager to try out her skills. But Maddy’s excitement soon turns to nerves when she realises that things might not go exactly as she imagined.

What position will the coach make her play? Or what if she gets asked to sit on the bench? Suddenly, the netball courts are the last place Maddy wants to be! Perhaps some inspiration from her namesake in the Australian side, Madison Browne, will finally get Maddy hooked on netball!

Read the Netball Gem series for more tips and great netball stories!

Drum roll…. We’re announcing the winners of our June/July Competitions!

In June and July we had a pile of prizes and promotions for you to plunder.

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

Izzy_Folau_Competition_Category_Page_BannerAll you had to do to enter was order from The Izzy Folau series by July 31st!

chance-of-a-lifetimeDaniel and Sione have been given the chance of a lifetime to be coached by Australian rugby union star, Israel Folau. But can they make it count? While Daniel and Sione come from very different backgrounds, they both eat, sleep and breathe rugby union. When they are selected for a junior representative rugby team, Daniel and Sione’s worlds collide. At first, the boys are awestruck by Izzy, but soon they see him as a friend. Unfortunately, things on the field don’t go as smoothly. Will Daniel and Sione learn how to adapt to their new team? Or will their big break turn into a missed opportunity?

…and the winner is:

K.Henry, Darwin, NT

Check out The Izzy Folau series here


9781743533116_100_days_of_happiness_large_promo_banner All you had to do to enter was order One Hundred Days of Happiness by July 31st!

What would you do if you knew you only had 100 days left to live? For Lucio Battistini, it’s a chance to spend the rest of his life the way he always should have – by making every moment countone-hundred-days-of-happiness. Womanizing, imperfect, but loveable, Lucio Battistini has been thrown out of the house by his wife and is sleeping in the stock room of his father-in-law’s bombolini bakery when he learns he has inoperable cancer. So begins the last hundred days of Lucio’s life, as he attempts to care for his family, win back his wife (the love of his life and afterlife), and spend the next three months enjoying every moment with a zest he hasn’t felt in years. From helping his hopelessly romantic, widowed more…

…and the winner is:

W.Shea, Anglesea, VIC

Grab a copy of One Hundred Days of Happiness here


9780000446206_Lindsey_Kelk_Newsletter_bannerAll you had to do to enter was order our exclusive Lindsey Kelk pack by July 31st! 

always-the-bridesmaid-what-a-girl-wants-pack-Always the Bridesmaid Everyone loves a bridesmaid. Except Maddie, who’s perpetually asked to be one. Everyone loves a wedding. Except Maddie’s best friend, who’s getting divorced. And everyone loves the way Maddie’s so happy backstage. Except Maddie herself. One best friend is more…

…and the winner is:

K.Lewis, Kalgoorlie, WA

Check out our Lindsey Kelk pack here


9781401948504_LITNB_Newsletter_Banner_17072015All you had to do to enter was order Light Is the New Black by July 31st! 

Follow what lights you up, and you’ll light up the world.light-is-the-new-black Light Is The New Black is a guidebook for a new breed of women who are here to be bright lights in the world—modern-day lightworks who agreed to be here at this time in history. In order to thrive in this new age, everything we do must. Be an authentic expression of who we truly are. Light Is The New Black will guide you back home to the callings of your soul so that you can light up the world with your presence. Rebecca Campbell had her first awakening when she was a teenager. But more…

…and the winners are:

D.Petrie-Godbolt, Bowral, NSW A.Curran, Ferny Grove, QLD C.Ives, Alcomie, TAS O.Walters, Tannum Sands, QLD B.Dye, North Wollongong, NSW

Grab a copy of Light Is the New Black 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

Have you won tickets to the Bledisloe Cup?

Blindsided. by rugby great Michael Lynagh, is a life-affirming memoir about luck, family, mates and rugby; and a timely reminder of how you play the game of life, as much as rugby, matters…even if you happen to be a Wallaby legend…

To celebrate its release, we offered Booktopian’s something really exciting, the chance to attend the Bledisloe Cup! The winner to receive two Adult Gold tickets to the Bledisloe Cup in Sydney on August 8 and a prize pack, valued at $460!

All you had to do to enter was order Blindsided by August 3rd!

…and the winner is:

P.Morgan, Bangor, NSW

Not the winner? Don’t worry as, for a limited time, we have signed copies Blindsided, hurry before we run out!

9780732299248_Blindsided_Rotating_Homepage_banner

blindsidedBlindsided

By Michael Lynagh

A rugby great confronts his greatest challenge.

It’s the unthinkable – to be blindsided by a life-threatening illness in the prime of life, with no prior warning. We all hope it doesn’t happen, but for some of us, inevitably, life plays out that way.

On an April day like any other in 2012 Michael Lynagh – retired rugby great – set for a successful career in commercial property and rugby analysis was suddenly forced to re evaluate everything. While with friends in Brisbane having a relaxed beer or two, a seemingly fit and healthy Lynagh suffered a stroke and was admitted to the Royal Brisbane Hospital. He was just forty-eight years old and a father of three young boys. Everything more…

Grab your copy of Blindsided here


We’ve got so much more up for grabs, not to mention limited edition signed copies and 2 for 1 offers!
Head to our Promotions and Competitions page!

promotions

Queer Characters in Comics

Guest Blogger Jeremy Vine looks at the most famous Queer Characters in the Comic Book World.

Superhero comics push a lot of story-telling boundaries and often touch on some very topical issues, but let’s be honest, they aren’t always down with the rainbow.

Over the years there have been a lot of characters who would fall into the category of ‘queer’ but not as many who would qualify for the modern definition of LGBTQI. However, there are more (certainly more now than there have been) than you’d expect, and quite high profile ones too. Here’s some of the most recent series to feature major queer characters.

Constantine

john-constantine-hellblazerConstantine the character has been around since the early 1990s, originating in the envelope-pushing imprint of DC known as Vertigo Comics. However, since 2011 he has been exclusively used in the DC Comics universe, receiving his own title in 2012. John Constantine is a trickster magician, a demonologist, a wizard, and a con man. He’s often only marginally better than the evil he’s fighting and ends up getting a lot of people killed, which doesn’t do much for his love life.

In his original title, Hellblazer, John Constantine had relationships with both men and women of the course of the nearly twenty year run. When NBC decided to make a TV series about the character, they specifically stated that he would not be bisexual, which was disappointing to a lot of fans. However, the series only lasted one season so perhaps any future adaptations of the character will be keep this aspect of the character.

In the most recent comics featuring the character, he hasn’t had a romantic relationship with anyone save Zatanna, but his past and former lovers of both sexes have been referenced repeatedly. The current series, beginning with Constantine vol. 1, is definitely worth reading if you enjoy snarky anti-heroes.

Harley Quinn

harley-quinn-volume-1-hot-in-the-cityOh Harley. Harley Harley Harley. Real name: Harleen Quinzel (because comics!), criminal psychiatrist. Working at Arkham Asylum, she fell in love with the Joker, and decided to bust him out, dressed up as a harlequin and commit crimes with him. She’s the Joker’s “better” half, but he didn’t treat her right so she often goes on crime sprees with her best ‘gal pal’ Poison Ivy. (And yes I’m using ‘gal pal’ in the same way the media does about Kristen Stewart.)

Harley is a fascinating character when she isn’t being used as a foil to the Joker. Originally created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for Batman: the Animated Series, Quinn’s popularity led to her being introduced into the main comics as well. Over the years she’s had a couple of solo series but her most successful is the current run, written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. It’s light-hearted and could even at times be called goofy, but every moment is fun.

Away from the Joker (and the brooding of Batman), Harley becomes a loveable anti-hero; still prone to violence and the occasional psychotic act, but it’s made very clear that she sees herself as the good guy. The series revisits the Harley/Poison Ivy relationship and makes it very clear that their bond goes beyond ‘friendship’. The best place to start is Harley Quinn vol. 1, although you could also try the new spin-off series, Harley Quinn and Power Girl.

Batwoman

batwoman-volume-1-hydrologyBatwoman is by far the most high profile of all of DC’s queer characters. Originating in 2005 during the 52 epic, she took the place of Batman in Gotham City while he was off training to become a better Batman. She was a former lover of Renee Montoya, a member of the Gotham City Police Department, and it was hinted during the course of the series that this relationship would rekindle. Batwoman’s latest series began with her in a relationship with Maggie Sawyer, a police captain. While at one point they were engaged to be married, this didn’t quite pan out, but the less said about that the better.

Kate Kane is a different sort of vigilante to Batman – her first volume deals with a supernatural threat stealing and drowning children, whereas Batman is heavily grounded in crime families and mob bosses (and the Joker). In comparison, the other Bat-family titles are light and fluffy (and one of them involves the Joker removing his own face).

A later story arc has Kate in a relationship with a vampire, although that is the result of brainwashing. This series of Batwoman, written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, has been received with much praise by fans – it starts with Batwoman vol. 1: Hydrology.

Earth-2

earth-2The Earth-2 series reimagined the classic Justice Society of America in an alternate universe, one where the Justice League had already fallen to an alien invasion. One of the founding members was Alan Scott, who was given phenomenal power as the hero Green Lantern. Alan was introduced with his fiance who unfortunately died soon after. While Alan hasn’t really had another love interest since then, this was a major step forward, as the origin of the character dates back to the earliest days of comics.

The best place to start with this series is right at the beginning – Earth-2 vol. 1: The Gathering. Sure, it deals with a lot of backstory and Alan’s poor fiancee dies very early on, but it keeps the action coming and the characters are memorable. Volume 1 was illustrated by Australian artist Nicola Scott (who is amazing) and the following volumes were written by Australian writer Tom Taylor (who is also amazing).

As a team book, not every character gets the full focus of the story, so as long as you’re prepared for some of your favourites to occasionally sit a story out, it will be enjoyable. Unlike the other titles, this series takes place in an alternate universe, so you can read it without having to worry about any tie-ins with other books.

Catwoman

catwomanSelina Kyle, better known as Catwoman, has been one of Batman’s villains since the 1940s but has had her own title a number of times since then. Sometimes a villain, sometimes an anti-hero, Selina has been a central part of Gotham for over seventy years. Most recently, she’s played the role of mob boss to one of the crime families in Gotham City.

Selina has been a love interest for both Bruce Wayne and Batman since some of her earliest appearances, and it’s not uncommon for her and Bruce to have married in alternate universes. However, Catwoman came out as bisexual in a highly publicised story featuring an old flame who had returned as an antagonist. While this is a new development in the character’s long history, many other writers have hinted at Selina’s bisexuality. In many instances, flashbacks to her early days as a criminal/activist show her with an extremely close friendship with another woman (who for one reason or another, is no longer around).

The new series builds on these hints and has made them explicit. The storyline involving Catwoman’s new relationship began when Genevieve Valentine took over writing duties and can be found collected in Catwoman vol. 6: Keeper of the Castle.

Batgirl

batgirl-volume-1-the-darkest-reflectionBarbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner Gordon, doesn’t identify as queer (although fan fiction might beg to differ) but members of her supporting cast certainly are. The initial run in the New 52, written by Gail Simone, introduced Alysia Yeoh as Barbara’s roommate. Alysia is a transgender woman who shares her secret with Barbara, who in turn reveals her secret identity as Batgirl. A later story has Alysia filling in for Barbara as Bat-girl (although not in costume, just carrying a baseball bat) when Barbara has been injured by a villain.

After a change of creative teams, Alysia left the series but was replaced by a number of other characters, some of whom identify as queer. The new creative team of Brendan Fletcher and Babs Tarr had a small setback with some transphobic language regarding one villain, but after seeing fan reaction, they quickly issued an apology and removed the offensive content from the collected trade paperback. This has made the series one of the best in terms of inclusiveness to the queer community.

There are two great runs of Batgirl available – the one written by Gail Simone, starting with Batgirl vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection and the new Fletcher/Tarr series, which starts with Batgirl vol. 1: Batgirl of Burnside.

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Jeremy Vine has been hooked on comics since he taught himself to read with the help of Asterix and Tintin. When not dressing up in costumes and attending pop culture conventions, he is an account manager for Penguin Random House Australia.

More of his thoughts on comics and superheroes in general can be found on the Comics Watchtower Facebook page or at his Twitter account @salesreplyfe

Comic Books: Where to start?

Guest Blogger Jeremy Vine answers the ago old question posed by comic book newbies

It’s a question that gets asked a lot by newcomers to comics. Some characters, like Batman and Superman, have been getting published every month for the last seventy five years. These aren’t really stories where you can just start at the beginning and read through to the end – there’s too much. That kind of history can be incredibly daunting to a new fan. So where do you begin?

The best answer is; where do you want to begin?

harley-quinn-volume-1-hot-in-the-cityComics were originally something that could be bought at every newsstand and rarely had a story that lasted more than an issue. Even today, with epic story arcs and massive multi-title crossovers, there’s still a strong element of the original stand alone nature. For the most part, you can enter at any point in the story and a character will exposit what has already happened. But this can still be a little overwhelming and confusing, like catching only the last two-thirds of a film. Fortunately, there is a much simpler (and more enjoyable) way.

Ask yourself; who’s your favourite character? For this example we’re going to use Harley Quinn (because of reasons), but the ideas can apply to any character. The best thing to do is start with the most recent book featuring that character – you’ll get a good idea of what the character is like when they’re the main focus of a book rather than a supporting character in someone else’s. In this case, it’s Harley Quinn vol. 1: Hot in the City. Did you enjoy that? Awesome! You can try the next one, Harley Quinn vol. 2. But you could also go back and try out some of the classic run, like Preludes & Knock Knock Jokes. It’s a different sort of book, but you get more of the character you love! Or maybe, you really enjoyed the writing style and want to see what else that writer has done. A quick trip to Wikipedia tells you that the author also wrote All-Star Western (hyperlink) – why not give that a try too?

This is a great technique for finding new characters to read about and different styles you might like. It’s also a good way to enter the world of comics. You can read as much or as little as you like just by only sticking with the characters you enjoy. Generally if something is vital to a story, it will be explained, but you can also find out where it occurred and read about it yourself if you want.

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Jeremy Vine has been hooked on comics since he taught himself to read with the help of Asterix and Tintin. When not dressing up in costumes and attending pop culture conventions, he is an account manager for Penguin Random House Australia.

More of his thoughts on comics and superheroes in general can be found on the Comics Watchtower Facebook page or at his Twitter account @salesreplyfe

BOOK REVIEW: Hot Point by M.L. Buchman (Reviewed by Kat Mayo)

Firehawk helicopter pilot Vern Taylor can’t help but be distracted by gorgeous mechanic Denise Conroy. Fighting forest fires with Mount Hood Aviation is a far cry from some of the violence Vern has seen…until they find out that MHA isn’t all that it seems.

I love heroines who have non-traditional careers, and helicopter mechanic fits that bill. I particularly love Denise’s camaraderie with the other women of MHA, and I love that she’s a bit of a contradiction – mostly shy around other people, but with a sharp mind and a weakness for fast cars. Vern is an absolute sweetheart and pure romantic fantasy. But hey, a hero who is as comfortable with just snuggling as he is at awesome helicopter sex ticks the box for me!

Grab a copy of Hot Point here


hot-pointHot Point

The Firehawks Series : Book 10

by M.L. Buchman

The elite heli-aviation firefighters at Mount Hood Aviation depend on sexy Denise Conroy, master mechanic, to keep them flying smoothly through the air.

Airplane expert that she is, Denise has never found an aircraft that she can’t fix. Her floundering love life, however, is a puzzle that she hasn’t been able to put together. Mount Hood Firehawk pilot Vern Taylor can’t repair a plane to save his life, but he was born to fly. Vern’s take-charge attitude toward every situation combined with his irresistible artistic side make him an accident waiting to happen.

But when Denise and Vern crash together in the Central American jungle with wildfire on one side and a full-fledged military coup on the other, they’ll have to work together to get out alive. It will take all their skills combined to keep passion from igniting a dangerous new flame.

Grab a copy of Hot Point here

BOOK REVIEW: Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey by Lillian Marek (Reviewed by Kat Mayo)

I love a good Regency as much as any romance reader, but I’m so glad that we’re continuing to see authors exploring different setting and time periods in historical romance.

Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey is set in Constantinople. Forget ballrooms and tea – Lady Emily Tremaine explores the ruins of Nineveh and experiences the wonders of travelling on an ‘odiferous donkey’. And of course, there’s French adventurer Lucien Chambertin to make this the most thrilling adventure – if he can just learn to let go of his past and embrace the call of true love.

For me, I really love odiferous donkeys! True love is a bonus. :)

Grab a copy of Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey here


lady-emily-s-exotic-journeyLady Emily’s Exotic Journey

The Victorian Adventures Series : Book 2

by Lillian Marek

From sensible, sheltered girl
Safe in the embrace of her loving family, Lady EmilyTremaine longs to feel more intensely alive. Surely the magic and mystery of Assyria and the fabled ruins of Nineveh will bring about the transformation she seeks.

To the woman his heart desires
Scarred by his past and estranged from his noble grandfather, French adventurer Lucien Chambertin desires neither a home nor the chains of emotional attachment. He seeks only to explore the far reaches of the world. But he did not know the world contained the likes of Lady Emily—whose curiosity and sense of wonder match his own.

Grab a copy of Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey here

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