A ‘Mr Men and Little Miss’ film in the works

mr-tickleReally, it’s about time.

44 years, 85 characters and more 120 million copies after Roger Hargreaves wrote his first book, inspired by his son asking what a tickle looked like, film rights for the Mr Men and Little Miss characters have been secured by Fox Animation, the studio behind the Ice Age and Rio franchises.

Fox Animation president Vanessa Morrison added: “The Mr Men and Little Miss characters have delighted readers from around the world for decades.”

Shawn Levy, who produced and directed the Night at the Museum films starring Ben Stiller, will produce the movie.

Do you have a favourite Mr or Miss? Tell us in the comments below.


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Peter Twohig, author of The Torch, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Peter Twohig

author of The Torch

Six Sharp Questions
___________

1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

The Torch is about a boy who is inspired to help another boy, who is a firebug, to avoid capture, in an attempt to assuage the helplessness he felt, and the grief he feels following the death of his twin just over a year earlier. But as his story unfolds he discovers that he has become trapped in a morass of deceit and secrecy that he first attempts to pass off as coincidence, but later discovers is really the complex world of adults.

The Torch has for me been a wonderful opportunity to plunge the reader (and myself) back into the life of the main character of The Cartographer. It has also been strengthening experience as a writer: actually to be asked to write a book, especially one about an established character. Although The Cartographer was not my first novel, it was the first to be published. I therefore feel a sense that that initial accomplishment has now developed into an accomplishment of more mature proportions, and that is very satisfying.

2. Times pass. Things change. What are the best and worst moments that you have experienced in the past year or so?

The best moment has been completing the structural edit of The Torch. It’s very satisfying to work with editors who appreciate the characters and story so much that their suggestions enable you to rethink the whole work again, despite already having written a complete revision. Once they have granted their imprimatur, I’m a happy little Vegemite. Worst moments: none to speak of.

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.

The main character, a twelve-year old, occasionally gives us his understanding about something or other, making the best of (very) limited information: it’s in his nature to be helpful in that way. Here is one such example.

I knew all about pregnancy. When Johnno Johnson’s cat got pregnant, it became very lumpy; basically, it ended up being one big lump. And when Douggie Quirk’s big sister, Maureen, got pregnant (except she wasn’t so much pregnant as ‘having a baby’), she was put in a special home for girls who are having babies. Mum’s couldn’t get pregnant, of course, but they could be ‘expecting’, which was slightly different, as it meant that they were expecting to get lumpy, not expecting to go to Hell, which is what being pregnant meant (unless you were a cat or a dog). So I couldn’t understand why Mum said she was pregnant when she was actually expecting, as I knew that mothers could not be sent to Hell. I decided that she must have made a mistake. That is something that girls tend to do when they’re upset, which is the reason why it is that it always the magician who gets to saw the girl in half, and not the other way round. But call it what you will, it’s always bad news.

It’s not that the passage itself has meaning: it’s functions are to let us hear the narrator’s voice and to hear him telling his story. But it’s an endearing voice.

petertwohig

4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.

I would say that I’m an easy person to live with, requiring only writing equipment (my Mac and some top software) and coffee (which I sometimes forget to drink for long periods). I always start writing first thing in the morning, even before breakfast, or my first cuppa. After I’ve done some work, I’ll get brekky, which I take back to the computer. Ditto lunch. No dinner. Occasionally, I’ll go for a long walk or jump on my motorbike and take off. That’s it. I sleep for eight hours per night. Often I dream of a good idea, so I’ll wake up and go back to the computer for a minute. The other night, I dreamt of the opening line of my next novel. How easy is that!

5. Some writers claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it. Would you please describe how the marketplace affects your writing (come on, tell the truth!).

The marketplace doesn’t affect my writing at all. I know I’m going to sell books, and that’s that. I write books for sheer enjoyment, knowing that it will shine through the writing, though I didn’t realise that until I began to get feedback from readers. So what’s left? Technical excellence, and that’s what I aim for. But even  those aspects of writing – grammar, punctuation, diction, the rhythms and structures of fiction, poetic effects, the music of voice – I’m passionate about. The way I look at it, the characters appear out of nowhere, they tell me their story, and I write it down. All I have to do is get it down faithfully.

6. Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only a few books with you. What do you take and why?

Ill-educated and uncivilised? Then I’ll start with a story about an ill-educated, uncivilised character, Huckleberry Finn. Then I’ll graduate to another streetwise but uneducated character, whose mastery of his idiom, and his problem, is deeply touching and exciting: Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban. Next, A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess, a devastating critique of modern social values, starring Alex Du Large, a fifteen-year-old psychopath with a gifted ear for slang. Having shed a tear for Alex (or not, if they’re hard bitten types), I would introduce them to DBC Pierre’s Vernon God Little. If that doesn’t give them a rounded introduction to literature, they’re beyond help. By this time they’ll probably need something completely different, so, as a segue to world of adult main characters, I’d take along a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (though any Vonnegut would do). Hey, I’m nothing if not subversive.

Peter, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Torch here


The Torch

by Peter Twohig

Melbourne, 1960: Mrs Blayney and her twelve year old son live in South Richmond. At least, they did, until their house burnt down. The prime suspect – one Keith Aloysius Gonzaga Kavanagh, also aged 12 – has mysteriously disappeared. Our narrator, the Blayney kid, sets off on a covert mission to find young Keith, who he privately dubs ‘Flame Boy’, to save him from the small army of irate locals – not to mention his mother – who want to see him put away.

Flame Boy has not only made himself scarce, but he’s done so with a very important briefcase of secrets, which the kid is keen to get hold of for his grandfather, a shady character who has some secrets of his own. But the kid has got a lot going on: he’s also organising a new gang of kids; coping with the ups and downs of having a girl friend (who likes to kiss – a lot); trying to avoid Keith’s dangerous prison-escapee father, Fergus Kavanagh, also an arsonist, who is suspected of selling secrets to the Russians; and all the while wondering how he can get his hands on the most beautiful object in the world: the Melbourne Olympic Torch.

A madcap, brilliantly shambolic and irresistibly fun novel about loss, discovery and living life to the full, The Torch is a ripper of a ride.

About the Author

Peter Twohig was born in Melbourne in 1948. As a boy he became one of Australia’s youngest Queen Scouts and in his mid-teens he took up guitar which led him to becoming a member of a rock band that played around Melbourne. Peter had a long career in various government departments (including the army) and as a management consultant before training in naturopathy and homoeopathy and setting up Sydney’s largest natural medicine practice in Crow’s Nest in 1995. He has a BA in Professional Writing and a BA (Hons) in Philosophy. He now lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and is a full-time writer.

Grab a copy of The Torch here

 

REVIEW: The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion (Review by Benison O’Reilly)

the-rosie-effectEarly in 2013, I wrote a Booktopia review of The Rosie Project, the home-grown literary phenomenon that has gone on to be published in thirty-eight languages and sell over a million copies worldwide. I had originally approached Graeme Simsion’s debut novel with trepidation, being the mother of a boy on the autism spectrum and thus a little thin-skinned on the subject. Could Simsion create a portrait of Professor Don Tillman, our unlikely Aspergian hero, which was both sympathetic, but at the same time believable? The answer turned out to be a resounding yes.

Not, for that matter, that Don thinks he has Asperger’s syndrome. When the Asperger’s label raises its head in an early scene in The Rosie Effect — hitherto referred to as the BlueFin Tuna Incident — he is bemused. Don regards Asperger’s syndrome with academic detachment: yes, he’s admittedly ‘somewhat socially incompetent’, yes, he once delivered a lecture on the topic back in Melbourne so best friend Gene could pursue ‘a sexual opportunity’, but apart from that, what’s its relevance to him?

This is entirely believable. Simsion has revealed in interviews that he based Don not on textbook descriptions of Asperger’s , but on real people he met in his former life in academia. People who’ve gone through life without any label except for ‘eccentric’ or ‘odd’. We can find lots of Dons in society if we care to look hard enough.

It’s during this same Bluefin Tuna Incident that Don is told by Lydia, an off-duty social worker: ‘Don’t ever have children.’ Unfortunately, Rosie has other ideas.

Benison-OReilly

Author: Benison O’Reilly

In The Rosie Effect, Don and Rosie have moved to live, work and study in New York, allowing Simsion to introduce a raft of new characters, including, George, a beer-collecting former rock drummer, Lydia, and a lesbian mothers collective. The novel follows the trajectory of Rosie’s unplanned pregnancy and, as you’d expect, it’s anything but smooth sailing. In marrying Rosie, Don has taken a huge step into what John Elder Robison called the ‘anxiety-filled, bright and disorderly world of people’, where his autistic traits — his honesty, his literal worldview, his capacity to absorb greats tracts of information (and perhaps less helpfully to reveal this knowledge to others) and his ability to pursue scientific enquiry without emotion or agenda — prove both a blessing and a curse.

When Gene suggests to the expectant dad that he ‘watch some kids’ to prepare himself for parenthood, Don takes himself off, alone, to video children at a playground, earning himself a visit from the NYPD. The policeman, who has a nephew like Don, quickly surmises that our hero poses no threat to the city’s children, but refers him for a psychiatric assessment:

‘I don’t think you’re a danger to kids, but I can’t just let you walk away. If next week you go and shoot up a school, and I’ve done nothing —‘

‘It seems statistically unlikely—‘

‘Don’t say anything. You’ll talk yourself into trouble.’

the-rosie-projectDon regards this as good advice, but unfortunately doesn’t follow it. But if he did we wouldn’t have a book, would we?

While there are plenty of laughs in The Rosie Effect, there is less humour to be had in Don’s floundering marriage. Rosie, he knows, is his only shot of happiness, and as an autism mum I could not help but take it personally. For much of the book we’re kept in the dark about what Rosie is up to, and Don, being Don, isn’t great at intuiting what she’s thinking.

But Simsion knows his readership: we’re expecting a happy ending and he’s not about to disappoint us. The climactic scene at JFK airport is classic screwball comedy, in typically unorthodox fashion.

How will Don adjust to fatherhood? We’ll have to wait for the next instalment to find out.

Grab a copy of The Rosie Effect here


Benison O’Reilly is the co-author of The Australian Autism Handbook. A new edition of the bestselling Handbook was released recently. You can follow her on twitter here.

the-australian-autism-handbookThe Australian Autism Handbook

by Benison O’Reilly & Kathryn Wicks

When first published in 2008, the Australian Autism Handbook quickly became the go-to guide for parents whose children have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. In this new edition, the book has been updated with all the latest research, the ratings guide for early interventions, new chapters on teens; Asperger’s syndrome; DSM5 diagnostic criteria; and advice for dads by dads.

Its new resources section ensures you make the most of your funding and lists every website and phone number you could ever need. Australian Autism Handbook is a practical and comprehensive guide to every aspect of raising an ASD child.

Grab a copy of The Australian Autism Handbook here

US critics name their 12 best novels of the 21st century to date

A group of American critics have named Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a take on the life of an overweight Dominican-American nerd, as the best novel of the 21st century to date.

Diaz

Junot Díaz

BBC Culture, the arts section of the international BBC site, polled several dozen US critics to find the greatest novels written so far this century, with 156 novels in all named by experts from papers including the New York Times, Time magazine, Newsday, Kirkus Reviews and Booklist.

Since book lists are all the rage at the moment, we thought we’d share the full dozen with you. How many have you read?


12. Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides

The internationally bestselling 2003 Pulitzer Prize winner.9781408825693

I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974?My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license records my first name simply as Cal.’ So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family …

Grab a copy of Middlesex here


11. White Teeth
by Zadie Smith

white-teethOne of the most talked about fictional debuts of recent years, White Teeth is a funny, generous, big-hearted novel, adored by critics and readers alike. Dealing – among many other things – with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle, it is a life-affirming, riotous must-read of a book.

Grab a copy of White Teeth here


10. Half of a Yellow Sun
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

9780007506071Winner of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction 2007, this is a heartbreaking, exquisitely written literary masterpiece.

In 1960s Nigeria, Ugwu, a boy from a poor village, goes to work for Odenigbo, a radical university professor. Soon they are joined by Olanna, a young woman who has abandoned a life of privilege to live with her charismatic lover. Into their world comes Richard, an English writer, who has fallen for Olanna’s sharp-tongued sister Kainene.But when the shocking horror of civil war engulfs the nation, their loves and loyalties are severely tested, while their lives pull apart and collide once again in ways none of them could have imagined …

Grab a copy of Half a Yellow Sun here


9780099597636-1-edition.default.original-19. Atonement
by Ian McEwan

‘There were horrors enough, but it was the unexpected detail that threw him and afterwards would not let him go’

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge.

By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl’s imagination. Briony will have witnessed mysteries, and committed a crime for which she will spend the rest of her life trying to atone …

Grab a copy of Atonement here


8. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
by Ben Fountain

9780857864529Era-defining satire – ‘This book will be the Catch 22 of the Iraq War’ Karl Marlantes.

Nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn is home from war. Back in Texas, he has become a national celebrity. A Fox News crew filmed Billy and the rest of Bravo squad defeating Iraqi insurgents in a ferocious firefight. Now Billy is a decorated soldier and Bravo’s three minutes of extreme bravery under fire are a YouTube sensation.

Seizing on this PR gift, The Bush administration has sent the surviving members of Bravo on a nationwide ‘Victory Tour’ to reassure the homeland …

Grab a copy of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain


7. A Visit from the Good Squad
by Jennifer Egan

9781780330969Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, The Los Angeles Times Book Award, National Book Circle Critics Award for fiction in the US and Longlisted for the Orange Prize.

Jennifer Egan’s spelling binding novel circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters …

Grab a copy of A Visit from the Goon Squad here


6. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
by Michael Chabon

9781841154930 (1)Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a heart-wrenching story of escape, love and comic-book heroes set in Prague, New York and the Arctic.

One night in 1939, Josef Kavalier shuffles into his cousin Sam Clay’s cramped New York bedroom, his nerve-racking escape from Prague finally achieved. Little does he realise that this is the beginning of an extraordinary friendship …

Grab a copy of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay here


5. The Corrections
by Jonathan Franzen

The winner of the National Book Award, the New York Times No.1 Bestseller and the worldwide literary sensation, The Corrections has established itself as a truly great 9780007232444American novel.

The Lamberts – Enid and Alfred and their three grown-up children – are a troubled family living in a troubled age. Alfred is ill and as his condition worsens the whole family must face the failures, secrets and long-buried hurts that haunt them if they are to make the corrections that each desperately needs …

Grab a copy of The Corrections here


4. Gilead
by Marilynne Robinson

gileadWinner of Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2005.

In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames’ life, he begins a letter to his young son, a kind of last testament to his remarkable forebears.

‘It is a book of such meditative calm, such spiritual intensity that is seems miraculous that her silence was only for 23 years; such measure of wisdom is the fruit of a lifetime. Robinson’s prose, aligned with the sublime simplicity of the language of the bible, is nothing short of a benediction …

Grab a copy of Gilead here


3. Wolf Hall
by Hilary Mantell

Winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize.wolf-hall

Go backstage during the most dramatic period in English history: the reign of Henry VIII.

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey’s clerk, and later his successor …

Grab a copy of Wolf Hall here


2. The Known World
by Edward P Jones

9780007195305Masterful, Pulitzer-prize winning literary epic about the painful and complex realities of slave life on a Southern plantation. Henry Townsend, a black farmer, boot maker, and former slave, becomes proprietor of his own plantation – as well as his own slaves. When he dies, his widow, Caldonia, succumbs to profound grief, and things begin to fall apart: slaves take to escaping under the cover of night, and families who had once found love beneath the weight of slavery begin to betray one another ….

Grab a copy of The Known World here


1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz

Things have never been easy for Oscar. A ghetto nerd living with his Dominican family in New Jersey, he’s sweet but disastrously overweight. He dreams of becoming the next the-brief-wondrous-life-of-oscar-waoJ.R.R. Tolkien and he keeps falling hopelessly in love.

Poor Oscar may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuku – the curse that has haunted his family for generations

With dazzling energy and insight Diaz immerses us in the tumultuous lives of Oscar; his runaway sister Lola; their beautiful mother Belicia; and in the family’s uproarious journey from the Dominican Republic to the US and back.

Grab a copy of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao here

BOOK REVIEW: Holy Cow by David Duchovny (Review by Ben Hunter)

David Duchovny wrote a book. Yes, that David Duchovny.

Sure, he’s known for being an actor, but did you know he has a Masters in English Literature from Yale? Booktopia’s Ben Hunter takes a closer look at his debut novel Holy Cow.


holy-cowWhen the X Files were on in the 90s, few of us thought that the man behind Agent Fox Mulder would publish a book twenty years later written entirely from the perspective of a dairy cow. We’ve come a long way, my friends.

Holy Cow isn’t your classic boy-meets-girl kind of quick read. What you’re essentially reading is cow becomes aware of own cruel fate, pig changes name to Shalom, meets Turkey that somehow has an iPhone and travels with them to the Middle East and India. None of this is believable in the slightest and the whole thing is a riot until the cow comes home.

cn_image.size.david-duchovnyDuchovny concocts his allegory/fable-type-thing with a self-referential tongue-in-cheek and there’s cow puns and bad Yiddish to boot.

His voice explodes through on every page. He even tries to solve the conflict in Palestine and Israel somewhere towards the end.

This book is postmodern humour for young readers and adults alike. Read it with no expectation and you’ll have yourself a blast.

Grab a copy of David Duchovny’s Holy Cow here

GUEST BLOG: Jennifer Niven on the inspiration behind her new novel ‘All The Bright Places’

jennifer niven

Author Jennifer Niven

I wrote All the Bright Places the summer of 2013, following the death of my literary agent. The last time I saw him, I was nearing the end of a series of books I’d begun writing in 2008 and was feeling depleted. He told me, “Whatever you write next, write it with all your heart. Write it because you can’t imagine writing anything else.”

Years ago, I knew and loved a boy, and that boy was bipolar. I witnessed up-close the highs and lows, the Awake and the Asleep, and I saw his daily struggle with the world and with himself. The experience of knowing him—and losing him—was life-changing. I’d always wanted to write about it, but I wasn’t convinced I would ever be able to.

That summer of 2013, I thought again about this boy and that experience, and I knew in my heart it was the story I wanted to write. Issues like teen mental health aren’t always talked about openly, even though we need to talk about them. I’d never felt as if I was allowed to grieve for this boy I loved because of how he died. If I was made to feel that way after losing him, imagine how hard it was for him to find help and understanding when he was alive.

After I decided to work on the story, I thought of a thousand reasons why I shouldn’t. All these years later, it was still too painful. And there was another doubt in the back of my mind. When I was a screenwriting student at the American Film Institute, the main criticism I got from my fellow writers was that I didn’t put enough of myself in the stories I wrote. They wondered if I would ever be able to truly open up on paper. Novelist Paul Gallico once said, “It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader.” But it’s not always easy to bleed so publically.

9780141357034When I sat down to write the first chapter of All the Bright Places, I told myself I would just see what happened. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to write anything at all. And then I heard Finch’s first line: Is today a good day to die? And I saw him up on the ledge of his high school bell tower, his classmates down below, the same ones who called him “Theodore Freak.” And then suddenly, Violet was there too, on the other side of the ledge, the popular girl, frozen and needing help.

For the next few weeks, I barely left my desk. The story of this boy and this girl who went from that bell tower ledge to wandering their state—seeing every out-of-the-ordinary site, making it lovely, leaving something behind—flooded right out.

In just six weeks, the book was born. I like to say it’s the book I was writing in my head for the past several years without knowing I was writing it.

My mother, Penelope Niven, was an author as well. She used to say, “You have to be able to write in spite of everything. You have to be able to write because of everything.” In other words, you need to be willing to bleed onto the page, knowing that you will have something on paper which is real and honest. More so than any of my previous books, All the Bright Places proved to me I could do that.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here


9780141357034All 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?

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here

What Cathryn Read – Bestselling author Cathryn Hein on her recent reading

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

It was all romance and crime fiction this month, with a blockbuster cherry on top!


Rivers of London / Moon Over Soho

by Ben Aaronovitch

What a delight this series is, like Harry Potter for grown-ups! The lead character, Peter Grant, is witty, brave and, in my humble opinion, just a little bit sexy. He doesn’t seem to have trouble getting the girls, that’s for sure (except maybe the one he really wants). Think urban fantasy police procedural with magic, and brilliant fun. I’ll definitely be reading more. Highly recommended.

Grab a copy of Rivers of London & Moon Over Soho 


Hades

by Candice Fox

Ooh, now this was different and in the best possible way. A crime thriller with memorable, flawed characters that’s dark ‘n dirty and right up my alley. When homicide detective Frank Bennett is teamed with Eden Archer he thinks he’s won the police partner lottery, but Eden is as mysterious as the serial killer they’re hunting. And might even be as dangerous. This won the 2014 Ned Kelly Award for Best Debut Crime Novel. The sequel, Eden, is out now and I plan to read it soon.

 Grab a copy of Hades here


Call Me Irresistible

by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Loved it! Phillips is a romance superstar in the US but until this runaway bride story I’d never read any of her books. Now I wish I’d read her years ago. The hero, Ted (perfect man and groom) and heroine, Meg (the bride’s best friend who, according to everyone in Wynette, causes Ted to be jilted) were fascinating and their unexpected and unwanted attraction worked perfectly. Loads of quirky characters, a believable romance, plus buckets of warmth, humour, and small town mayhem. Fabulous.

  Grab a copy of Call Me Irresistible here


Her Christmas Earl

by Anna Campbell

My new favourite Anna Campbell! Okay, so maybe that has something to do with the fact that I read it on Christmas Eve and was right in the mood for something romantic and seasonally themed, but this was a fast fabulous read and I loved it. Can’t beat a reformed rake trope and the sheer warmth of the story and its characters had me sucked in from the first page. Plus who would have thought so much fun could be had in a wardrobe?

Click here for more from Anna Campbell


Big Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty

Good writing buddy Rachael Johns pleaded with me to read this and what a fantastic tale it was. The way the story explored suburban lives reminded me a lot of Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap. The view isn’t always pleasant but Moriarty tackles the dark and complex issues she raises with sensitivity. On a basic level, it’s a whodunnit – we know from the outset that a death has occurred but not who died or how they died – but it’s so much more than that. The cliques, politics, gossip and sometimes sheer weirdness of being a school parent was brilliantly done, and I especially liked the structure, which made this a compelling page turner.

Grab a copy of Big Little Lies here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you’ve 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

The French Prize

by Cathryn Hein

An ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Grab a copy of The French Prize here

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