World Record holder Ryan Campbell, author of Born to Fly, chats to Christopher Cahill

In Born to Fly, Ryan recounts his remarkable journey from a boy with a dream to becoming, at age 19, the youngest person ever to circumnavigate the world solo in a single-engine aircraft, and shares with us the joy of flight.

Grab a copy of Ryan Campbell’s Born to Fly here

Born to Fly

by Ryan Campbell

The most extraordinary aviation adventure of the decade. A great story in the spirit of Charles Kingsford-Smith and Bert Hinkler. – Dick Smith

‘It’s funny what you remember, which moments stick in your mind when the everyday disappears. I will never forget my first flight, the feeling of being pushed back in the seat, the rumbling that suddenly turned into silence. It fascinated me then, it does now. I looked across Sydney, absolutely blown away by its size. I had no idea cities even got that big! Later, my brothers and I followed the stewardess to the front of the plane and stepped into the cockpit. I stood wide-eyed, mouth open. This was where magic happened. From that day on I knew: I would grow up to become a jumbo jet pilot.’

When Ryan Campbell was six he fell in love with aeroplanes. It was a passion that was to dominate his childhood and it was no surprise when at 15 Ryan became the youngest pilot in Australia. Inspired by his father and grandfather who were also aviators, Ryan sought a challenge and, like adventurers before him, he found one that spoke to him more than the rest. He wanted to fly around the world, solo, in a single-engine aircraft.

Showing maturity, determination and courage beyond his years, Ryan fundraised $250,000 from scratch  and drew on the advice of renowned aviators such as Jim Hazelton (‘a man who has more hours adjusting his seat in a plane than I do total flying time’) and Dick Smith before setting out on his thrilling 70-day odyssey. In Born to Fly, Ryan captures all the dry-mouthed excitement of flying alone above the earth with only one engine and recounts his adventures from staying calm with iced over wings, landing in a country where you are not welcome and  dealing with international media when still a teenager.

Ryan landed 31 times in 15 countries and covered more than 24,000 nautical miles, while trying to avoid that ‘alternative aerodrome’, the ocean.

Born to Fly is a fascinating view of the world from above, shown to us by a dryly funny and highly charismatic man who has already done more in his short life than most of us do in a lifetime.

Grab a copy of Ryan Campbell’s Born to Fly here

Louis Zamperini, the man behind the inspirational story Unbroken, dies age 97

Louis Zamperini, a former Olympian who spent weeks lost at sea and years as a prisoner of war, has died at age 97.

A U.S. track star at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Zamperini became a bombardier in WWII and survived 47 days adrift in a lifeboat after crashing his plane in the Pacific. He eventually washed up on a Japanese island and spent the next two years as a prisoner of war.

His incredible story was documented by Laura Hillenbrand in the book Unbroken, which has now sold over 1 million copies worldwide.

The book is soon to be made into a movie, recently shot in Australia, from a script by the Cohen brothers and directed by Angelina Jolie.

“It is a loss impossible to describe, we are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him. We will miss him terribly.” – Angelina Jolie

“Having overcome insurmountable odds at every turn in his life, Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini has never broken down from a challenge. He recently faced the greatest challenge of his life with a life-threatening case of pneumonia. After a 40-day long battle for his life, he peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, leaving behind a legacy that has touched so many lives. His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these last days.”
- The Zamperini Family

Grab a copy of Unbroken here

Unbroken

An Extraordinary True Story of Courage and Survival

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channelled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.

But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humour; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

Grab a copy of Unbroken here

And the winners of the Eyrie Signed Copies, Olivetti Valentine Typewriter and the Vintage Bike are……

The winners of the signed hardcover editions of Eyrie are:

C. Lawlewss, Eltham, VIC
B. Thomas, Muswellbrook, NSW
C. Ainsworth, Millswood, S.A.
L. Checker, Alice Springs, NT
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eyrieEYRIE
by Tim Winton

Tom Keely’s reputation is in ruins. And that’s the upside.

Divorced and unemployed, he’s lost faith in everything precious to him. From his seedy highrise flat Keely looks down at a society from which he’s retired hurt and angry, well past caring. But he cannot avoid entanglement with the neighbours: a woman from his past, a boy the likes of which he’s never met before. Two strangers leading a life beyond his experience and into whose orbit he falls despite himself.

What follows is a heart-stopping, funny, exhilarating and haunting. Eyrie asks how, in an impossibly compromised world, we can ever hope to do the right thing.

Grab a copy of Eyrie here


The winner of the Olivetti Valentine Typewriter is:

C. Robertson, Clifton Hill, VIC

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MY SALINGER YEARmy-salinger-year
by Joanna Rakoff

Poignant, keenly observed, and irresistibly funny: a memoir about literary New York in the late nineties, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself entangled with one of the last great figures of the century.

At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in a plush, wood-paneled office, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches. At night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Williamsburg apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities, and struggling to trust her own artistic instinct, Rakoff is tasked with answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to more…

Grab a copy of My Salinger Year here


The winner of the vintage bike is:

J. Whellum, Yass, NSW

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luigi-s-freedom-rideLUIGI’S FREEDOM RIDE
by Alan Murray

It is the small lives, tucked away, that reveal humanity in all its bigness. A charming treat of a novel – as sunny, light and enjoyable as a strawberry gelato eaten in an Italian piazza on a summer’s day. Luigi is a young Italian boy growing up in Tuscany in the 1920s, dreaming of cowboys and adventure, when a young Englishman, passing through on his way to Rome, gives him his first bicycle, thus sparking a lifelong passion. When World War II begins, Luigi enlists with the Bersaglieri, the Italian Army Cycling Corps (naturally), before unexpectedly finding himself fighting alongside the Partisans. Despite encountering great sorrow and tragedy, Luigi’s zest for life remains undiminished, and his next adventure sees him cycling through the Holy Land, Turkey and Sri Lanka before finding an unexpected home – and an extraordinary surprise – in Australia.

An irrepressibly optimistic, sweetly funny story, Luigi’s Freedom Ride is about life, bicycles and the joy of the journey – showing how even a small life, lived in the shadow of great events, can be rich in contentment and spirit.

Grab a copy of Luigi’s Freedom Ride here


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

A Day In The Life Of A Reader…

You wake up after a long night of reading…

…and try to sneak some pages in before you leave for work…

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…and on the bus.

You start work full of vigour…

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…until the 5 minute mark.

And then it’s lunchtime…

…but pretty soon it’s time to go back to work…

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…where you daydream about the next chapter…

…and then actually dream about the next chapter…

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…before a very productive afternoon.

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Then 5:30pm arrives…

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…and you head home…

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…home sweet home…

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…where, finally, the best part of your day begins…

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…but your favourite character is in trouble…

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…big trouble…

…and loved ones want to know what’s wrong…

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…and for a tiny, tiny split second, you wonder if all this is worth it. The ups and downs of being a reader…

Thinking

…but only for a split second.

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Congratulations to Evie Wyld : Winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2014 for All the Birds, Singing

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Booktopia would like to congratulate Evie Wyld for winning the 2014 Miles Franklin Literary Award with All the Birds, Singing … Congratulations!


All the Birds, Singing

by Evie Wyld

Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It’s just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep – every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags.

It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake’s unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back.

Set between Australia and a remote English island, All the Birds, Singing is the story of one how one woman’s present comes from a terrible past. It is the second novel from the award-winning author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice.

About the Author

Evie Wyld runs Review, a small independent bookshop in London. Her first novel, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award. In 2011 she was listed as one of the Culture Show’s Best New British Novelists. She was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Grab a copy of All the Birds, Singing here


THE RUNNERS UP:

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

by Richard Flanagan

A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever.

This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

About the Author

Richard Flanagan was born in Longford, Tasmania, in 1961. His novels, Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould’s Book of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, and Wanting have received numerous honours and are published in twenty-six countries. He directed a feature film version of The Sound of One Hand Clapping. A collection of his essays is published as And What Do You Do, Mr Gable?.

Grab a copy of The Narrow Road to the Deep North here


The Night Guest

by Fiona McFarlane

One morning Ruth wakes thinking a tiger has been in her seaside house. Later that day a formidable woman called Frida arrives, looking as if she’s blown in from the sea. In fact she’s come to care for Ruth. Frida and the tiger: both are here to stay, and neither is what they seem.

Which of them can Ruth trust? And as memories of her childhood in Fiji press upon her with increasing urgency, can she even trust herself?

The Night Guest is a mesmerising novel about love, dependence, and the fear that the things you know best can become the things you’re least certain about. It introduces a writer who comes to us fully formed, working wonders with language, renewing our faith in the power of fiction to tap the mysterious workings of our minds, and keeping us spellbound.

About the Author

Fiona McFarlane was born in Sydney, and has degrees in English from Sydney University and Cambridge University, and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a Michener Fellow. Her work has been published in Zoetrope: All-Story, Southerly, the Best Australian Stories and the New Yorker, and she has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Phillips Exeter Academy and the Australia Council for the Arts. The Night Guest, her debut novel, has sold into fifteen territories around the world. She lives in Sydney.

Grab a copy of The Night Guest here


My Beautiful Enemy

by Cory Taylor

Arthur Wheeler is haunted by his infatuation with a Japanese youth he encountered in the enemy alien camp where he worked as a guard during WW2. Abandoning his wife and baby son, Arthur sets out on a doomed mission to rescue his lover from forced deportation back to Japan, a country in ruins. Thus begins the secret history of a soldier at war with his own sexuality and dangerously at odds with the racism that underpins the crumbling British Empire.

Four decades later Arthur is still obsessed with the traumatic events of his youth. He proposes a last reunion with his lost lover, in the hope of laying his ghosts to rest, but this mission too seems doomed to failure. Like Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence and Snow Falling On Cedars, My Beautiful Enemy explores questions of desire and redemption against the background of a savage racial war. In this context, Arthur’s private battles against his own nature, and against the conventions of his time, can only end in heartache.

About the Author

Cory Taylor is an award-winning screenwriter who has also published short fiction and children’s books. Her first novel, Me and Mr Booker, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Pacific Region). She lives in Brisbane.

Grab a copy of My Beautiful Enemy here


Eyrie

by Tim Winton

Divorced and unemployed, he’s lost faith in everything precious to him. Holed up in a grim highrise, cultivating his newfound isolation, Keely looks down at a society from which he’s retired hurt and angry. He’s done fighting the good fight, and well past caring.

But even in his seedy flat, ducking the neighbours, he’s not safe from entanglement. All it takes is an awkward encounter in the lobby. A woman from his past, a boy the likes of which he’s never met before. Two strangers leading a life beyond his experience and into whose orbit he falls despite himself.

What follows is a heart-stopping, groundbreaking novel for our times – funny, confronting, exhilarating and haunting. Inhabited by unforgettable characters, Eyrie asks how, in an impossibly compromised world, we can ever hope to do the right thing.

About the Author

Tim Winton has published twenty-one books for adults and children, and his work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Since his first novel, An Open Swimmer, won the Australian/Vogel Award in 1981, he has won the Miles Franklin Award four times (for Shallows, Cloudstreet, Dirt Music and Breath) and twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize (for The Riders and Dirt Music). He lives in Western Australia.

Grab a copy of Eyrie here


The Swan Book

by Alexis Wright

The Swan Book is set in the future, with Aboriginals still living under the Intervention in the north, in an environment fundamentally altered by climate change. It follows the life of a mute teenager called Oblivia, the victim of gang-rape by petrol-sniffing youths, from the displaced community where she lives in a hulk, in a swamp filled with rusting boats, and thousands of black swans driven from other parts of the country, to her marriage to Warren Finch, the first Aboriginal president of Australia, and her elevation to the position of First Lady, confined to a tower in a flooded and lawless southern city.

The Swan Book has all the qualities which made Wright’s previous novel, Carpentaria, a prize-winning bestseller. It offers an intimate awareness of the realities facing Aboriginal people; the wild energy and humour in her writing finds hope in the bleakest situations; and the remarkable combination of storytelling elements, drawn from myth and legend and fairy tale.

 

About the Author

Alexis Wright is a member of the Waanyi nation of the southern highlands of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Her books include Grog War , a study of alcohol abuse in Tennant Creek , and the novels Plains of Promise , and Carpentaria , which won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the Victorian and Queensland Premiers’ Awards and the ALS Gold Medal, and was published in the US, UK, China, Italy, France, Spain and Poland. She is a Distinguished Fellow in the University of Western Sydney’s Writing and Society Research Centre.

Grab a copy of The Swan Book here


Runners-up from the Longlist:

The Railwayman’s Wife

by Ashley Hay

In a small town on the land’s edge, in the strange space at a war’s end, a widow, a poet and a doctor each try to find their own peace, and their own new story.

In Thirroul, in 1948, people chase their dreams through the books in the railway’s library. Anikka Lachlan searches for solace after her life is destroyed by a single random act. Roy McKinnon, who found poetry in the mess of war, has lost his words and his hope. Frank McKinnon is trapped by the guilt of those his treatment and care failed on their first day of freedom. All three struggle with the same question: how now to be alive.

Written in clear, shining prose and with an eloquent understanding of the human heart, The Railwayman’s Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can be sometimes to tell them apart. It’s a story of life, loss and what comes after; of connection and separation, longing and acceptance. Most of all, it celebrates love in all its forms, and the beauty of discovering that loving someone can be as extraordinary as being loved yourself.

A story that will break your heart with hope.

About the Author

Ashley Hay is the author of four books of non-fiction – The Secret: The strange marriage of Annabella Milbanke and Lord Byron, Gum: The story of eucalypts and their champions, and Herbarium and Museum with the visual artist Robyn Stacey. A former literary editor of The Bulletin, her essays and short stories have also appeared in anthologies and journals including Brothers and Sisters, The Monthly, Heat and The Griffith Review. Ashley’s first novel, The Body in the Clouds was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize ‘Best First Book’ (South-East Asia and Pacific region) and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Grab a copy of The Railwayman’s Wife here


mullumbimbyMullumbimby

by Melissa Lucashenko

When Jo Breen uses her divorce settlement to buy a neglected property in the Byron Bay hinterland, she is hoping for a tree change, and a blossoming connection to the land of her Aboriginal ancestors. What she discovers instead is sharp dissent from her teenage daughter Ellen, trouble brewing from unimpressed white neighbours, and a looming Native Title war among the local Bundjalung families. When Jo stumbles into love on one side of the Native Title divide she quickly learns that living on country is only part of the recipe for the Good Life.

Told with humour and a sharp satirical eye, Mullumbimby is a modern novel set against an ancient land.

0002041About the Author

Melissa Lucashenko is an Australian writer of mixed European and Murri (Aboriginal) heritage. She was born in Brisbane in 1967, and attended public primary and secondary schools there. Melissa received an honours degree in public policy from Griffith University, graduating in 1990. She lives between Brisbane and the Bundjalung nation.

Grab a copy of Mullumbimby here


Game

by Trevor Shearston

It is 1865. For three years Ben Hall and the men riding with him have been lords of every road in mid-western New South Wales from Bathurst to Goulburn, Lambing Flat to Forbes. But with the Harbourers’ Act made law, coach escorts armed now with the new Colt revolving rifle, and mailbags more often containing cheques than banknotes, being game is no longer enough.

The road of negotiated surrender is closed. Jack Gilbert has shot dead a police sergeant at Jugiong. Constable Nelson, father of eight, lies buried at Collector, killed by John Dunn. Neither time did Ben pull the fatal trigger, but he too will hang if ever the three are taken. Harry Hall is seven. Ben has not seen the boy since his wife Biddy left to live with another man, taking Harry with her.

The need to see his son, to be in some way a father again, has grown urgent. But how much time is left before the need to give the game away and disappear becomes the greater urgency?

About the Author

Trevor Shearston is the author of Something in the Blood, Sticks That Kill, White Lies, Concertinas, A Straight Young Back and Dead Birds. He lives in Katoomba, NSW with his family.

Grab a copy of Game here


Belomor

by Nicolas Rothwell

Elegiac and seductive, Belomor is the frontier where truth and invention meet—where fragments from distant lives intermingle, and cohere. A man seeks out the father figure who shaped his picture of the past. A painter seeks redemption after the disasters of his years in northern Australia. A student of history travels into the depths of religion, the better to escape the demons in his mind. A filmmaker seeks out freedom and open space, and looks into the murk and sediment of herself.

Four chapters: four journeys through life, separate, yet interwoven as the narrative unfolds.

In this entrancing new book from one of our most original writers, we meet European dissidents from the age of postwar communism, artists in remote Australia, snake hunters, opal miners and desert magic healers. Belomor is a meditation on time, and loss: on how the most bitter recollections bring happiness, and the meaning of a secret rests in the thoughts surrounding it.

About the Author

Nicolas Rothwell is the award-winning author of Heaven and Earth, Wings of the Kite-Hawk , Another Country , The Red Highway and Journeys to the Interior . He lives in Darwin, and is the Australian’s roving northern correspondent.

Grab a copy of Belomor here


The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt

by Tracy Farr

The debut novel from a wonderful new talent.

This is the story of Dame Lena Gaunt: musician, octogenarian, junkie.

Lena is Music’s Most Modern Musician; the first theremin player of the twentieth century.

From the obscurity of a Perth boarding school to a glittering career on the world stage, Lena Gaunt’s life will be made and torn apart by those she gives her heart to.

About the Author

Australian-born author Tracy Farr has lived in Wellington, New Zealand since 1996. Her debut novel, The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt, is published by Fremantle Press.

Grab a copy of The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt here


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

Popular Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of Rocking Horse Hill, Heartland and more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

What a great reading month! From a literary award winner to a labyrinthine thriller to a frolic with a rock god, plus some lovely romances to get gooey over. I’d love to say my to-be-read pile was lowered a little but, as usual, I ended up buying more than I read. Oh well, I’ll just have to read even more in July.


Mariana

by Susanna Kearsley

I’ve been hooked on Kearsley since reading The Shadowy Horses. It, The Winter Sea (aka Sophia’s Secret) and The Splendour Falls are my favourite Kearsleys. In Mariana, the heroine, Julie, buys Greywethers, a house she’s been drawn to since childhood, only to find it acts as portal between times. As Julie explores the past she uncovers the mystery of her historical predecessor Mariana. It’s a popular novel among fans but I didn’t warm to it the way I have her other books. Not in the beginning. Then came the last 100 pages and OH! Now I understand why it’s so adored. The ending was completely sigh-worthy. I cried. Love it when that happens. The Shadowy Horses remains my most cherished though. That book was stunning.

Grab a copy of Mariana here


Chocolate Cake For Breakfast

by Danielle Hawkins

Danielle Hawkins has only 2 books out. I wish she’d hurry up and write more because I’ve become a huge fan. Her debut, Dinner At Rose’s, was a wonderful read, heart-warming, romantic and funny. Chocolate Cake For Breakfast didn’t disappoint either. This book is a hoot. Helen McNeil is a rural vet who just happens to trip (literally) into a relationship with an extremely hunky rugby player. And not just any rugby player. A member of New Zealand’s beloved national side, the All Blacks. What follows is a funny and gorgeous romance that will leave you smiling. It even made me feel a little sentimental about the All Blacks. Very unpatriotic!

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 Grab a copy of Chocolate Cake for Breakfast here


Wolf

by Mo Hayder

Crime and thriller writer Hayder never disappoints. The Devil of Nanking (aka Tokyo) remains one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read. Her Walking Man series, featuring smouldery Detective Inspector Jack Caffery is a favourite. Wolf is the 7th book in the series and a cracker. A wealthy family is being held hostage in their home and tormented in bizarre ways. Meanwhile, Caffery is challenged by the Walking Man to find who attached a ‘help us’ note to the little stray dog he’s found. As the two mysteries unfold, Hayder takes us through a labyrinth of clues, red herrings and twists you won’t see coming. Brilliant.

  Grab a copy of Wolf here


Burial Rites

by Hannah Kent

The book everyone has been raving about and showering with prizes. With good reason. This was a fascinating read, with beautiful writing, an evocative landscape and masterfully drawn characters. Set in the early 1800s, it tells the story of Agnes, an Icelandic woman condemned to death for the murder of her master. The truth of what led her to this predicament is slowly revealed as she waits her execution. I was immediately drawn by Agnes’s voice, the beauty of her observations, her secrecy and the way she rationalised her terrible predicament. Here’s a small sample:
Sometimes, after talking to the Reverend, my mouth aches. My tongue feels so tired; it slumps like a dead bird, all damp feathers, between the stones of my teeth.

As for the ending, wow. That’s still resonating.

Grab a copy of Burial Rites here


Lick

by Kylie Scott

Oh, what fun! It’s like a girly fantasy come true. Good girl Evelyn wakes up in a hotel room in Las Vegas with the hangover from hell only to discover she’s married a tattooed rock god. Awesome. What follows is a romance that will leave you smiling and barracking these two great characters on. No wonder the book has been such a hit. The dialogue is smart, the hero and heroine hugely likeable, there are witty friends and cheeky rock band members, flash cars, private jets and helicopter rides, and plenty of sex to spice things up. Pure escapism. And there are more books to come as Scott works her way through the Stage Dive band members – Play, the ebook of which is out now, and soon Lead. Rock on!

  Grab a copy of Lick 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

Rocking Horse Hill

by Cathryn Heinrocking-horse-hill

Who do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

Rocking Horse Hill is a moving family drama and passionate love story from the author of Heartland.

Grab a copy of Rocking Horse Hill Here

What Katie Read – The May 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.

May is festival time in Sydney, and so I spent a lot of time talking about, and listening to other writers talk about, books and writing. It was wonderful to see the festival precinct at the wharves so alive and buzzing with book-lovers, and I bought a great pile of books that I shall be slowly working my way though in the upcoming weeks.

A lot of my reading time is still being taken up by research, but I managed to read a few other lovely books as well.

Here’s what I’ve read this month:


The Sequin Star

by Belinda Murrell

Many of you may know that Belinda Murrell is my elder sister, and so I have to admit to a strong partiality to any book I read of hers. The Sequin Star is the latest in her very popular timeslip series for teenage girls.

The action follows a modern-day Australian girl named Claire who finds herself thrown back in time to a Great Depression-era circus in 1932. She is rescued by a warm-hearted girl named Rosina who is riding on the back of an elephant. Claire has no way of getting back to her own time, and so begins to work in the circus. As well as Rosina and her pet monkey, Claire makes friends with two boys from very different backgrounds. Jem’s family is dirt-poor and living in a shanty town, while Kit has a chauffeur and lives in a mansion. Kit comes to the circus night after night to watch Rosina ride her beautiful dancing horses, not realising he is putting himself in danger. When Kit is kidnaped, Claire and her friends have to try and work out the mystery in order to save him.

The Sequin Star is exactly the sort of book I would have loved to have read in my early teens (in fact, any time!), and is gives a really vivid look at life in Sydney in the early 1930s. Loved it!

Grab a copy of The Sequin Star here


Gift from the Sea

by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

After reading and enjoying Melanie Benjamin’s wonderful novel about the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh in The Aviator’s Wife, I was inspired to go back and read Gift from the Sea, the most famous of Lindbergh’s numerous books. It’s a small, delicate and wise book, full of meditations on the life of women. I first read it when I was sixteen, and am now thinking I shall pass it on to my daughter at the same age.

Grab a copy of Gift from the Sea here


The Unlikely Spy

by Daniel Silva

I love a good spy thriller, particularly when its set during World War II, and Daniel Silva did not disappoint. The unlikely spy of the title is an amiable history professor and he is on the track of a ruthless Nazi spy working undercover in Great Britain in the lead-up to D-Day. This is more a novel of psychological suspense than an action-packed page-turner, but I enjoyed seeing the action from all sides, and found the historical details fascinating.

 Grab a copy of The Unlikely Spy here


Ingo 

by Helen Dunmore

I’ve been meaning to read this book for so long, but only picked it up this month because I was doing a talk on retellings of mermaid tales, and thought I should catch up on recent additions to the genre. I am so glad I did – I loved this book! It’s a very simple story – after a girl’s father disappears and is believed drowned, she finds her brother beginning to be drawn irresistibly to the sea as well. In time, the girl (whose name is Sapphire) learns of the mysterious realm of Ingo, the world of the mermaids that lies in the depths of the ocean. Its enchanting siren song is dangerous, however, and Sapphire will find it hard to escape its spell.

What lifts this novel out of the ordinary, however, is the beauty of the writing. Helen Dunmore is a poet as well as an Orange Prize-winning novelist for adults. Her writing is both lyrical and deft, and I’m looking forward to the rest in the series.

Grab a copy of Ingo here


The Winter Bride

by Anne Gracie

Anne Gracie is my favourite living romance novelist; she never disappoints. The Winter Bride is the second in a Regency-times series featuring four plucky young women trying to make their own way in the world, and finding all sorts of trouble along the path towards true love. Read The Autumn Bride first, but have this one close to hand as once you’ve read one, you’ll want more. I’m just hanging out for the next in the series now.

Grab a copy of The Winter Bride here


The Chalet School in Exile

by Elinor Brent-Dyer

Elinor Brent-Dyer was an extraordinarily prolific author who wrote more than 100 books in total, many of them in the famous Chalet School series about a 1930s girls’ school set in the Austrian Tyrol. I’ve been collecting them for years and had been searching for this one in particular – the rare The Chalet School in Exile, set during the Nazis’ Anschluss of Austria. The girls of the school fall foul of the Gestapo after trying to save an old Jewish man from being beaten to death, and have to escape Austria on foot through the Alps.

It’s an extraordinarily vivid snapshot of a time and a place, and one of the few children’s books of the era to deal directly with the terror of the Nazis. I read it when I was about 10, and it made a deep impression on me at the time. An original first edition hardback with the original dust-jacket showing a SS officer confronting the girls is worth over $1,000 (though this is cheap compared to the almost $4,000 you need to fork out for a first edition copy of the first book in the series, The School at the Chalet). I however bought my copy from Girls Gone By publishers which re-issue the rarer editions at a much more affordable price (and feature the famous dustjacket as well).

Meanwhile, I’ve continued with my own research into the Nazi era. I’ve read another half-a-dozen non-fiction books on the subject. Here are three of the best I’ve read this month:


 

Between Dignity & Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany

by Marion A Kaplan

This powerful and heart-rending book draws on many different memoirs, diaries, letters and post-war interviews to give us an extraordinary insight into what it was like to be a Jew in Germany during the Nazi years. It shows how the many small humiliations and unkindnesses of the early years gradually began to drag the Jewish community inexorably towards the horror of the Holocaust, and gives a sense of how that horror continues to shadow those that survived.

Grab a copy of Between Dignity & Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany here


Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields

by Wendy Lower

This book was so chilling that I could only read it in parts. It tells the stories of the active role played by Nazi women in the Third Reich: nurses and secretaries and wives, as much as the already well-known horrors of the female camp guards. Some of the events seem impossible to believe, except that they have been documented in the Nuremberg court of law.

Grab a copy of Hitler’s Furies here


Hitler’s Spy Chief: the Wilhelm Canaris Mystery

by Richard Bassett

Wilhelm Canaris was the enigmatic head of the Abwehr, the German secret service. He was executed for treason in a Bavarian concentration camp only days before the Allies’ reached the camp and liberated it. He had been involved in the failed assassination of Hitler immortalised in the movie Valkyrie, but many researchers believe that he had been working to undermine the Third Reich from before the beginning of the war.  This detailed and in-depth examination of his life and work is not for the casual reader (it assumes a wide knowledge of the Nazi era and the Valkyrie plot), but it is utterly fascinating and convincingly argues that Canaris had been feeding secrets to the British for many years and was in fact protected to some extent by them.

Grab a copy of Hitler’s Spy Chief 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

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Brooke Davis, author of Lost and Found, chats with Andrew Cattanach

Grab a copy of Lost & Found here

Lost & Found

by Brooke Davis

A heart-warming debut about finding out what love and life is all about.

Millie Bird (aka Captain Funeral), seven-years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her red, curly hair. Her struggling mother leaves Millie in a local department store and never returns.

Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house or spoken to another human being since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silences by yelling at passers by, watching loud static on the TV and maintaining a strict daily schedule.

Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife’s skin. Now he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl is moved into a nursing home but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes.

A series of events binds the three together on a road trip that takes them from the south coast of WA to Kalgoorlie and along the Nullarbor to the edge of the continent. Millie wants to find her mum. Karl wants to find out how to be a man. And Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was.

They will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself experience sadness just might be the key to life.

Grab a copy of Lost & Found here

REVIEW: Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman (Review by Andrew Cattanach)

The opportunity to critique a childhood idol is an uncomfortable proposition. When I was a child my mother would thrust a library book in my hands after we’d run down the bus I was always late for. One of these books was Misery Guts, by Morris Gleitzman, a book that fostered my love of reading. I remain forever indebted to him.

Gleitzman’s new novel, Loyal Creatures, continues his legacy of placing ordinary children in extraordinary, trying circumstances. Frank is a bullish bush kid, of a size that belies his tender years. His mother has passed away and he lives a hard-working life with his father.

War has broken out and Frank is desperate to enlist, despite being underage. He pleads with his father to allow him to bring his loyal horse Daisy to the showgrounds for a trial, but his father refuses. One day Frank’s father receives a white feather in the mail, a signal of cowardice from the community, and gives in to Frank’s requests on one condition. They go to war together, and thus begin a journey that will change their lives forever.

Growing up, stories of The Great War never fascinated me like other boys. They terrified me. I was born on ANZAC Day, in a small town that had the highest enlistment rate of any place in Australia during WWI. The legacy of war was everywhere, and all I could think of was what if it was me? What if I was one of those foolhardy young men desperate for an adventure, who jumped aboard those ships, never to return? Few books can answer those questions as poignantly as Loyal Creatures.

There is an incredible empathy to Gleitzman’s work, spilling over generously into his latest effort. I suspect war terrifies and frustrates him just as much as it does I, and every inch of bravado Frank shows in the opening pages of the novel is met with anger and sadness later as he discovers what war truly is. An horrific, unnecessary loss of life.

Loyal Creatures has something in it for all ages, another telling story of courage and sacrifice during WWI that we should never forget. As a Morris Gleitzman fan, I can truly say he is on top form with Loyal Creatures. Don’t miss it.

Grab a copy of Morris Gleitzman’s Loyal Creatures here

Grab a copy of Morris Gleitzman’s Loyal Creatures here

The Recipe Wheel by Rosie Ramsden – The Most Original Cookbook of the Year

Cookbooks have been around for centuries, so finding an original, accessible way to present new recipes is pretty darn tough. But Rosie Ramsden has invented a whole new way of planning meals: it’s called The Recipe Wheel.

She takes one simple, core recipe – like risotto – that sits at the centre of its own recipe wheel. From there lead spokes or threads to new, more developed recipes – select your perfect dish by occasion, budget or time.

Each wheel is like a mind map, bringing flavours together and encouraging the reader to mix and match, adding to their own creativity and cooking skills. A basic roast chicken inspires dishes like chicken, mango and cashew nut curry; white bread goes into beetroot panzanella or butterbean, garlic and thyme on toast. Get creative with risotto with Barley risotto with chestnut and savoy. A simple sponge cake becomes three-tier vanilla raspberry cake, and custard is transformed into rhubarb treacle creme brulee or peach and amaretto trifle.

This innovative cookbook, from an exciting new voice in cookery, turns the idea of the traditional recipe book on its head.

Grab a copy of The Recipe Wheel here

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