BOOK REVIEW: Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix (review by Sarah McDuling

unnamedWhat do you get when you combine Regency Romance with Gaslamp Fantasy and toss in a healthy dose of light-hearted humour and rollicking adventure?

You get Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix, without doubt the most charming book I have read in AGES! Seriously. Why don’t more people write books like this?

An intrepid young lady, a dashing young hero, a stolen emerald with magical powers, kidnappings, French spies, adventures on the high seas and best of all … an enchanted moustache!

What all this adds up to is a shining example of one of my most favourite sub-genres – the ever so elusive ‘Fantasy of Manners’.

Books like this are just so hard to find!

Newt’s Emerald introduces readers to a plucky young heroine named Truthful who has disguised herself a man in order to recover a stolen family heirloom with magical properties. She is aided in her quest by her aged relative  (definitely my favourite character in the book) Lady Badgery – an imperious old woman with a sword hidden in her walking stick. After donning her disguise, Truthful meets a handsome young man calling himself “Major Hartnett” and what ensues is a magical frolic though a reimagined of version of Regency England.

As a devoted Georgette Heyer fan I’m constantly on the look out for books that boast that same brand of lively romance mingled with sparkling humour and old-world charm. The magical twist in Newt’s Emerald is an added bonus and places it amongst my absolute favourite ‘Fantasy of Manners’ reads – alongside Patricia C. Wrede’s A Matter of Magic and Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey and Kiersten White’s Illusions of Fate.

An absolute must read for fans of all the above listed titles, as well as lovers of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen (and for fans of Garth Nix, of course!) – Newt’s Emerald is a high-spirited and playful romp guaranteed to enchant and delight!

Grab your copy of Newt’s Emerald here

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: A.L. Tait on her thrilling new kids series The Mapmaker Chronicles

Allison Tait is a freelance writer and author with more than 20 years’ experience in magazines, newspapers and online publishing. She talks to John Purcell about her acclaimed Mapmaker Chronicles series.

Grab a copy of The Mapmaker Chronicles here

race-to-the-end-of-the-worldThe Mapmaker Chronicles

Race to the End of the World

Adventure and danger lie just off the edge of the map in this swashbuckling new trilogy!

Quinn’s older brothers may long for adventure, but he is content with a quiet life on the farm. Destiny, however, has other plans.

The King is determined to create the first map of the world and has scoured the kingdom for boys who could become mapmakers. When Quinn is chosen for the King’s training school, he’s amazed – but that is nothing compared to his shock when he is selected as one of the three mapmakers and finds himself on board a ship, competing for the big prize.

So begins Quinn’s reluctant journey deep into the unknown, on a ship captained by a slave, with a stowaway girl on board, and a mysterious sea monster that seems to be following them. Hot on their trail are the other competitors for the King’s prize, who will stop at nothing to win.

The Mapmaker Chronicles: Race to the End of the World is packed with action, adventure and intrigue, as Quinn battles unexpected enemies, discovers strange new lands and tries to conceal two very big secrets from his crewmates…

Grab a copy of The Mapmaker Chronicles here

And the winners of the Big Little Lies Girls Night In prize packs are…

During July we gave you the chance to win 1 of 3 Girls Night In prize packs which not only included books but chocolates and a blanket. 

All you needed to do to enter was buy Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty!

And the lucky winners are…

S.Costin, Limpinwood, NSW

R.Davino, Merrylands, NSW

B.Hill, Cheltenham, NSW


big-little-liesBig Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty

‘I guess it started with the mothers.’
‘It was all just a terrible misunderstanding.’

‘I’ll tell you exactly why it happened.’

Pirriwee Public’s annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. A parent is dead.

Liane Moriarty’s new novel is funny and heartbreaking, challenging and compassionate. The No. 1 New York Times bestselling author turns her unique gaze on parenting and playground politics, showing us what really goes on behind closed suburban doors.

‘Let me be clear. This is not a circus. This is a murder investigation.’

Grab a copy of Big Little Lies here

Grab a copy of Big Little Lies here

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

The winner of the signed Frank Lampard Jersey and books is…

During the Football World Cup we gave you a chance to win a Chelsea Jersey signed by football royalty Frank Lampard.

All you needed to do to enter was buy a book from the Frankie’s Magic Football series!

And the lucky winner is…

T.Baer, New Norfolk, TAS



by Frank Lampard

Frankie and his friends and their dog, Max, are magic-ed to Brazil where they must track down three key items to help England win the World Cup: the referee’s whistle, a football and the trophy. Their adventures take them through a jungle, a Rio carnival and onto the beach for a game that could change the history of the tournament.


Grab a book from the series here

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

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Is John Flanagan a Time Lord? Booktopia interrogates the author of Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband series

Grab a copy of Slaves of Socorro here

Slaves of Socorro

Brotherband Series : Book 4

by John Flanagan

Return to the seafaring world of Hal and his intrepid ship’s crew in the fourth book of John Flanagan’s epic Brotherband series.

When the Heron brotherband become the Skandian duty ship to the Kingdom of Araluen, they’re excited at the challenges ahead. Hal, Stig, Thorn and the Herons eagerly set off for the trip – with an unexpected new crew member aboard.

But an enemy from their past returns, throwing the Herons into a dangerous quest to free captured Araluans from the slave market in Socorro. Even with the help of an Araluan Ranger, the task may be too much.

About the Author

John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband adventure series have sold more than eight million copies worldwide. His books are available in more than 100 countries, are regularly on the New York Times bestseller list, and have had multiple award shortlistings in Australia and overseas. John, a former television and advertising writer, lives with his wife in a Sydney beachside suburb.

Grab a copy of Slaves of Socorro here


Best of Booktopia TV: Keneally, Tsiolkas and Nunn in conversation with John Purcell

Tom Keneally – Shame and the Captives

shame-and-the-captivesJohn Purcell’s Review

One of the drawbacks of living in a society obsessed with the new is that we fail to recognise the simple fact that many things get better with time. There is just no story in ‘Author Gains Wisdom by Living a Long Interesting Life: Talking, Travelling, Reading and Writing’.

But there should be. Someone gaining wisdom should be news. It so seldom happens.

Tom Keneally should be news. His last two books are a direct challenge to the more newsworthy overnight success authors. Both are the result of fifty years of writing both fiction and non-fiction. And it shows. Both Daughters of Mars and his latest novel Shame and the Captives give younger writers a lesson in writing.

More details…

Judy Nunn – Elianne

In the tough world of Queensland sugar mills, it’s not only cane that is crushed … elianne

In 1881 ‘Big Jim’ Durham, an English soldier of fortune and profiteer, ruthlessly creates for Elianne Desmarais, his young French wife, the finest of the great sugar mills of the Southern Queensland cane fields, and names it in her honour.

The massive estate becomes a self-sufficient fortress, a cane-consuming monster and home to hundreds of workers, but ‘Elianne’ and its masters, the Durham Family, have dark and distant secrets; secrets that surface in the wildest and most inflammatory of times, the 1960s.

More details…

Christos Tsiolkas – Barracuda

John Purcell’s Reviewbarracuda

This is a difficult book to write about. It has a personality rather than a plot. It is built upon emotion rather than reason. It is all shouts and whispers and nothing in between.

As a boy Danny Kelly wants only one thing – to be the greatest swimmer of all time. And his dream isn’t farfetched. His coach believes he can do it. His mother is behind him, waking early and driving him to the pool. And his peers think he can do it, though they resent him for his talent.

More details…

Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Final Round of Voting

There is only one more week of voting left to decide who is Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

This is the longlist as voted by you, congratulations to all the novelists for making it onto this extraordinary list.

But the job isn’t finished. We need your final vote to decide the order of the top 50.

Vote for all your favourite authors, and spread the word, tell your friends and family to get voting! The poll closes 5pm Saturday.

Next week we’ll announce the Top 50 as voted by you and decide who, in 2014, is Australia’s Favourite Novelist!




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