The Homestead Girls by Fiona McArthur (Reviewed by Hayley Shephard)

I decided to give Fiona McArthur’s new book, The Homestead Girls, a whirl to challenge myself as I’m currently addicted to non-stop, passionate romance and shirtless men. It’s a departure I’m glad I took. I’ve always loved strong female characters who don’t let their predicaments define them.

The Homestead Girls follows five women who come to live at Blue Hills Station on the outskirts of Mica Ridge, a small country town in the middle of a crippling drought with a trustworthy and life-saving Flying Doctor Service. Two of these women, Daphne and Billie, are part of the medical team, treating injured farmers and the town’s residents. When not working hard, Billie looks after her wayward teenage daughter Mia. We also have Soretta, whose grandfather owns Blue Hills Station, and Lorna, an 80 year-old housemate with the energy of a teenager.

These five women rely on each other to push away from issues in their lives. Some issues lie in the field of romance (the men who also serve with the Mica Ridge FDS have a certain presence), while others are more complicated. As a group, they grow stronger, and give each other support and strength.

Lorna’s companionship with Soretta’s grandfather is beautiful; a lovely side story. They make each other laugh and are observed by the others to be in better spirits. It was one of my favourite things about the book.

Even though it is not all romance, it does have a happy ending – one that feels well deserved for all the characters. But if you want to know exactly how it ends, you’ll have to read it yourself!

This certainly won’t be the last Fiona McArthur I read.

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls


The Homestead Girls

by Fiona McArthur

After her teenage daughter Mia falls in with the wrong crowd, Dr Billie Green decides it’s time to leave the city and return home to far western NSW. When an opportunity to pursue her childhood dream of joining the Flying Doctor Service comes along, she jumps at the chance. Flight nurse Daphne Prince – who is thrilled to have another woman join the otherwise male crew – and their handsome new boss, Morgan Blake, instantly make her feel welcome.

Just out of town, drought-stricken grazier Soretta Byrnes has been more…

About the Author

Fiona McArthur has worked as a rural midwife for many years. She is a clinical midwifery educator, mentors midwifery students, and is involved with obstetric emergency education for midwives and doctors from all over Australia. Fiona’s love of writing has seen her sell over two million books in twelve languages. She’s been a midwifery expert for Mother&Baby magazine and is the author of the nonfiction works The Don’t Panic Guide to Birth and Breech Baby: A Guide for Parents. She lives on an often swampy farm in northern New South Wales with her husband, some livestock, and a blue heeler named Reg. She’s constantly taking photographs of sunrise and sunset and loves that researching her books allows her to travel to remote places.

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls

BOOK REVIEW: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (Reviewed by Andrew Cattanach)

Andrew Cattanach dives into the deep end of Jon Ronson’s latest book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

so-you-ve-been-publicly-shamedI’ve always been a fan of Jon Ronson’s work, his penchant for exposing the strange, often unsettling, pockets of society. With So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Ronson plays to his strengths, reporting dutifully with thick shards of humour, injecting himself into the narrative where needed. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed begins as many of Ronson’s books do, with a eureka moment, the inspiration that would lead him down the yellow brick road.

Ronson, an avid tweeter, began to notice a parody twitter handle – @jon_ronson – popping up in his feed. The account posted some tweets about food and his love of a good time, particularly of a…homoerotic nature.

Ronson contacted the creators of the account asking for its removal. They refused, calling it a social experiment, although eventually agreeing to meet Ronson in person to discuss why they were so compelled to tweet about goat’s cheese and male genitalia under his name.

Ronson recorded the interaction and posted it on YouTube with their permission, the video went viral and was met which extreme condemnation from Ronson’s fans. The creators of the twitter account, in the wake of the public shame elicited by Ronson’s video, agreed to delete the twitter account.

Jon Ronson

Jon Ronson

This jolts Ronson into the world of Public Shaming, now an everyday occurrence in the world of social media. Reflecting on his own experiences, he tracks down others who have felt the wrath of the mob.

We have Jonah Lehrer, the infamous bestselling pop psychology author, who was caught out inventing a Bob Dylan quote. PR executive Justine Sacco, who wrote a tweet while boarding a plane to South Africa about not catching AIDS because she’s white and was denounced by millions before she hit the ground. Max Mosley, the Formula One supremo outed by the News of the World for a ‘Nazi orgy’, ultimately exposing his parent’s fascist past.

These are moments in time that you will remember, even if your memory, like mine, needs a quick jolt on Google. Ronson’s investigations into these tales, those who shamed and were shamed alike, are utterly absorbing. He examines just how viable the world of extreme honesty is, itself a constant barrage of public shaming if perhaps not on quite as grand a scale.

This is Ronson at his finest. Funny, intriguing and, in some places, downright shocking. A book not to be missed.

Grab your copy of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed here

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

You can follow his ramblings on twitter at @andrew__cat

Critics Praise Far from the Madding Crowd Film Adaptation

Whenever a new film adaptation of a classic novel is released, you can hear readers’ whispers on the wind.

Please, please please please, let it be good…

But according to critics, Far from the Madding Crowd isn’t good. It’s great.

Starring the incredible Carey Mulligan and directed by Thomas Vinterberg from a screenplay by David Nicholls (yes, that David Nicholls) the latest film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s seminal novel is perhaps the most impressive.

Great news for readers and filmlovers alike!

Grab your copy of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd here

far-from-the-madding-crowdFar from the Madding Crowd

by Thomas Hardy

A special edition of Hardy’s brilliant novel to tie in with the major new film starring Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge and Matthias Schoenaerts, based on David Nicholls’ screenplay.

Hardy’s powerful novel of swift sexual passion and slow-burning loyalty centres on Bathsheba Everdene, a proud working woman whose life is complicated by three different men – respectable farmer Boldwood, seductive Sergeant Troy and devoted Gabriel – making her the object of scandal and betrayal.

Vividly portraying the superstitions and traditions of a small rural community, Far from the Madding Crowd shows the precarious position of a woman in a man’s world.

Grab your copy of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd here

Grab your copy of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd heree

BOOK REVIEW: The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie (Review by Hayley Shephard)

9781921901423I absolutely loved The Perfect Rake, so when I was given the chance to read and review Anne Gracie’s new book The Spring Bride, I just knew I had to put other books on my list aside. It didn’t disappoint!

The life of its female lead, Jane Chance, has not been smooth sailing. Following the old cliché it stands to reason she would meet her happily ever after right off the bat, but instead she accepts a proposal from a man she feels no attraction to but could provide her with security. I tripped over myself while reading this play out, but in the end came to regard her as a strong selfless female, trying to ensure her safety and survival in a society that can be horribly cruel. Anne Gracie is such a wonderful writer that I questioned whether I even wanted to know what happened in the end.

Enter Zachary Black. Admittedly, I tend to steer clear from male leads that are undercover. To my surprise it was actually refreshing to have the pair not on equal footing, with the male considered beneath the female. Consequently, the feelings that simmer between the two reads stronger for me, even when some truths are revealed. He begins to help Jane realise that perhaps love has a greater part to play in creating a happy future rather than just safety and security.

In return, she makes him see things differently and think about what he really wants. With a past full of espionage and now suddenly faced with criminal charges, who wouldn’t? On a side note you can’t help but laugh and snort when, through the words of Anne Gracie, you picture Zach trying to mingle with polite society.

After reading this book I am dying to find out how it all came to be for the other characters. This is book 3 of the series, which can be read as a standalone, but I can’t wait to read books 1 and 2 in the series.

Grab a copy of The Spring Bride here


The Spring Bride

The Chance Sisters Series : Book 3

by Anne Gracie

On the eve of the London Season, Jane Chance is about to make her entrance into high society. And after a childhood riddled with poverty and hardship, Jane intends to make a good, safe, sensible marriage. All goes according to plan until a dark, dangerous vagabond helps her rescue a dog.

Zachary Black is all kinds of unsuitable – a former spy, now in disguise, he’s wanted for murder. His instructions: to lie low until his name is cleared. But Zach has never followed the rules, and he wants Jane Chance for his own. If that means blazing his way into London society, in whatever guise suits him, that’s what he’ll do. Jane knows she shouldn’t fall in love with this unreliable, if devastatingly attractive, rogue. But Zach is determined – and he’s a man accustomed to getting what he wants.

About the Author

Anne Gracie spent her childhood and youth on the move, thanks to her father’s job, which took them around the world. The gypsy life taught her that humour and love are universal languages and that favourite books can take you home, wherever you are.

Anne started her first novel while backpacking solo around the world. Originally published by Harlequin Books, she now writes Regency-era historical romances for Berkley (Penguin USA) and Penguin Australia, but instead more…

Grab a copy of The Spring Bride here

REVIEW: The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy by Julia Quinn (Review by Hayley Shephard)

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthythe-secrets-of-sir-richard-kenworthy was a fun, engaging read. While at times I was filled with anxiety for the characters I was also laughing really hard at other moments. And trust me, it takes something really special to make me laugh hard.

That’s what I love about regency books and authors today, especially Julia Quinn. The stories reflect humans that are just as strange, endearing and awkward as their modern counterparts. I am not saying that they are more romantic than stories written actually during the era or a contemporary romance, it’s just nice to read.

The heroine, Miss Iris Smythe-Smith, has been forced into marriage with a man called Sir Richard Kenworthy. And he’s a man with a secret. But what is it?

Julia Quinn kept me guessing. She lulled me into a false sense of security. She kept me entertained, and I forgot to search for clues. Not only was the writing so descriptive but the banter, the interplay between the characters, was perfect for two people who are trying to deal with what was before them. So awkward is it at times that I was both bordering on hysterics and wincing, covering my eyes.

What’s the secret? How did Iris find herself in this mess? I guess you’ll just have to read it and find out.

As for me, this book will definitely be re-read.

Grab a copy of The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy here


The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy

by Julia Quinn

From New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn comes the final, dazzling installment of a four-book series featuring the Smythe-Smiths.

Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can’t be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family’s infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She’s the type of girl you don’t notice until the second-or third-look, but there’s something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she’s the one.

Iris Smythe-Smith is used to being underestimated. With her pale hair and quiet, sly wit she tends to blend into the background, and she likes it that way. So when Richard Kenworthy demands an introduction, she is suspicious. He flirts, he charms, he gives every impression of a man falling in love, but she can’t quite believe it’s all true. When his proposal of marriage turns into a compromising position that forces the issue, she can’t help thinking that he’s hiding something . . . even as her heart tells her to say yes.

About the Author

During her senior year at Harvard College, Julia Quinn (often known in cyberspace as JQ) realized that she didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life. This depressed her. In fact, the only thing that saved her sanity during this dark, dreary time was the fact that none of her friends knew, either. So she sat down with a big tub of Ben & Jerry’s and a good book and decided to figure out what to do.

Getting a job seemed too difficult. She wouldn’t mind HAVING a job, but she certainly didn’t know how to get one.

Law school seemed too annoying. Everyone hated lawyers, and Julia liked to be more…

Grab a copy of The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy here


BOOK REVIEW: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Review by Shikha Shah)

Looking for the winners of our Facebook competition? Scroll to the bottom of the post…

All the Bright Places is a heartbreaking and touching novel exploring a wide range of issues such as depression, mental disorders, suicide, coping with the loss of a loved one and finding hope.

The book begins with Theodore Finch – an outsider with his own unique brand of coolness –standing on his high school’s bell tower asking himself “Is today a good day to die?”. He then gets distracted by the sight of Violet Markey – a popular girl who seems to have everything – standing on the other side of the bell tower. Finch proceeds to calmly convince Violet to step off the edge and so begins a complicated relationship that will change both their lives.

Violet and Finch come across each other under extreme circumstances and they are both broken in their own way. Finch helps Violet fight her inner demons and her guilt over her sister’s death. He encourages her to experience new things and see new places, helping Violet to find herself again. Unfortunately, Violet struggles to helps Finch in the same way.

This is not a typical boy-meets-girl love story about overcoming all obstacles to live happily-ever-after. Instead, this book delves into deeper real-life issues. All the Bright Places takes readers on a tragic journey as Violet and Finch each fight their own battle against depression. It also deals with the aftermath of what happens when someone cannot be helped…

If you enjoyed reading Solitaire by Alice Osmon as much as I did and The Last time we say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand, then this novel is a must-read. A little warning to readers – have a tissue box handy as this novel will probably going to make you cry like a baby.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here


all-the-bright-placesAll the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch wants to take his own life. I’m broken, and no one can fix it.

Violet Markey us devastated by her sister’s death. In that instant we went plowing through the guardrail, my words died too.

They meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, and so their story begins. It’s only together they can be themselves . . .

I send a message to Violet: ‘You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.’

You’re so weird, Finch. But that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.

But, as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

About the Author

Jennifer Niven is the author of two narrative non-fiction books, The Ice Master and Ada Blackjack; a high school memoir, The Aqua Net Diaries; and four historical novels for adults: Velva Jean Learns to Drive (based on her Emmy Award-winning film of the same name), Velva Jean Learns to Fly, Becoming Clementine, and the forthcoming American Blonde. All the Bright Places is her first book for young adults.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here


FACEBOOK COMPETITION WINNERS

Congratulations to Jessica Gilham, Marie Davis, Barbara Clapperton, Julie Clark and Adey McKinney!

Email us at promos@booktopia.com.au with your address details to claim your prize!

BOOK REVIEW: The Wonder Lover by Malcolm Knox (Review by Caroline Baum)

First of all the cover: this has to be one of the most stylish and eye-catching jackets of the year, signposting both the amorous subject matter but also a kind of sexily suave Mad Men Don Draper silhouette that suggests surface sleekness concealing enigmatic multiple identities.

The sophisticated packaging delivers on its promise – and then some. This is one of the big books of the year. You know that phrase that critics use about a writer at the peak of his powers? Well, this is the time to apply that to Knox, who has been one of our most significant writers mining aspects of contemporary masculinity for a while in novels like Summerland and The Life.

Here he applies his customary cool, detached and forensic tone to a story that is enigmatic, satirical and rich in layers and symbolism. It is disconcertingly strange at first, especially in its removed, rationally detached voice but don’t let that put you off. Get past the initial chill of the first fifty pages and you will find yourself increasingly seduced by the tale of John Wonder and his women.

The comparison with Don Draper goes beyond the packaging. Because the point is that both men are indeed enigmas who conceal their inner and private lives from themselves and from others, enabled by careers that allow them to move seamlessly between worlds.

Except what makes John Wonder so very different from Don Draper is that the outer casing of the man is not inherently attractive. He does not possess a handsome physique and nor is he charismatic when it comes to his personality. He is, according to one of his six collective narrator children, odourless and bland. Women feel safe around him because he is not predatory by nature. And indeed, unlike Draper’s glamorous world of advertising, Wonder’s is far more pedestrian and pedantic: he is a senior factoid who authenticates official statistics for publications of record. Hardly the sexiest of titles.

Happily married simultaneously, and able to juggle the demands of three sets of children (all called Adam and Evie, presumably to avoid confusion) he then decides to set himself a new challenge: to authenticate the world’s most beautiful woman. And that’s where he comes disastrously unstuck. When he finds her, his multiple lives unravel.

The scenario provides for plenty of comedy though it is not of the farcical ‘quick-now-hide in-the-cupboard’ kind (with the exception of a muddle involving a Hyundai car). It is more cerebral than that kind of romp. Knox hits his comic stride in his characterisation of Wife Number Two, a fiery type who can’t distinguish between the expressions ‘because’ and ‘that’s why’, (I can’t help but imagine Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara in this role).

Will Wonder’s serial infidelities see him damned, punished and abandoned? And what of the world’s most beautiful woman? What does she make of Wonder’s protracted infatuation and courtship? Can his children ever forgive his betrayal? The climax of the story has an inevitability about it, as all moral fables do, and a surprising warmth that Don Draper, whose adventures in parallel lives end later this year, might envy.

Grab a copy of The Wonder Lover here

——————————————————-

Caroline Baum has worked as founding editor of Good Reading magazine, features editor for Vogue, presenter of ABC TV’s popular bookshow, Between the Lines, and Foxtel’s Talking Books, and as an executive producer with ABC Radio National. She is currently Booktopia’s Editorial Director.


The Wonder Lover

by Malcolm Knox

The compartments in our father’s life were not the separations he needed to build to preserve his sanity. They were his sanity. When he fell in love… when he fell to the abjection he deserved, the walls began dissolving. And once the walls came down between all three, or now four, of his lives, so did every other retaining wall – between past and present, present and future, self- and non-self, dream and wakefulness. The walls were his sanity. Love had driven him mad….

This is the story of John Wonder, a man with three families, each one kept secret from the other, each one containing two children, a boy and a girl, each called Adam and Evie. As he travels from family to family in different cities, he works as an Authenticator, verifying world records, confirming facts, setting things straight, while his own life is a teetering tower of breathtaking lies and betrayals…

About the Author

Malcolm Knox is the author of Summerland, A Private Man and Jamaica, which was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Award last year and won the Colin Roderick Award. He is also a Walkley- Award-winning journalist and author of many non-fiction titles. He came late to surfing, but is now an obsessively enthusiastic surfer, and writes about surfing and the surf with authority and great passion.

Grab a copy of The Wonder Lover here

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