REVIEW: Monkey Business by Kathryn Ledson

Last week, after a slight (okay, six week) reading hiatus, I guiltily reached for my pile of advanced reading copies, looking for something that would entertain and delight, without asking too much of my poor out-of-use brain. I picked up Monkey Business by Kathryn Ledson, and boy am I glad I did. Much like the hypercolour cover,  Ledson’s latest proved to be the perfect pick-me-up for my greyer-than-usual grey matter.  Monkey Business is the second book in the Erica Jewell series (a series I now realise I heard about at this year’s Romance Writers of Australia conference, but only just now made the connection with) and, while the series is very closely linked, the book does not suffer from being read in isolation. Having said that, after reading Monkey Business, I now want Kathryn to hurry up and write more books so I can devour them. Continue reading

Does Robb Stark Take Up Too Much Space On Trains?

Does Robb Stark take up too much space on trains?

That’s the question being asked around the world today, as Game of Thrones star Richard Madden is outed as a chronic space-taker-upperer on the popular tumblr site Men Taking Up Too Much Space On The Train.

Men Taking Up Too Much Space On The Train exposes a world of sexual politics that will strike a chord with anyone who has suffered at the hands of bad etiquette on public transport.

If there is one aspect of the modern age that matches the scheming, combative nature of Westeros and beyond, it is surely the public transport system. Continue reading

Tom Clancy – The Man Who Won The Cold War

I was saddened to learn that bestselling author Tom Clancy had died. I was saddened because I thought of what this loss would mean to his family and friends. I was saddened too, for as a young man I enjoyed his books and subsequent the movies starring Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan. I was also saddened because as a bookseller at Christmas time when asked what book would be good for a bloke, a Tom Clancy was a sure thing. And I was saddened by this death because myths are not meant to die and this fact throws all my conspiracy theories about Tom Clancy into doubt.

I had actually forgotten my conspiracy theories, last held around the time of 9/11, until recently when I was reading a book called, Five Billion Sold The Amazing Facts Behind the Fiction and stumbled across the non-biography of Tom Clancy. The book is essentially short biographies of the biggest selling authors in the modern era. It includes Agatha Christie, Harold Robbins, Jackie Collins, J.K. Rowling etc. But when the author David Glynn gets to the eighties and early nineties instead of finding a short biography of Tom Clancy I found a short essay called Tom Clancy: The Man Who Wasn’t There.

And this didn’t really surprise me.

I remember my father, who was a great admirer of the early Jack Ryan novels back in the eighties, talking to friends about them, marvelling at the technical details in the books. He used to ask aloud, how could Clancy have access to all of that presumably classified information?

The suggestion then was that he must be fed the information by government sources. There was no other possible explanation.

I read in David Glynn’s book that The Hunt For The Red October was first published by the US Navy. Soon afterwards, then President Ronald Reagan praised the book in a Time Magazine article. And boom, a bestselling author is born.

The suggestion is then that Tom Clancy was a CIA plant. That his books went a long way to convincing the USSR that the capacity of the US to wage war, to gather intelligence, to develop advanced technologies was so great as to be invincible. Creating the myth of US might was far cheaper than actually being mighty. Much like the way the James Bond novels have given the general public an unrealistic impression of UK intelligence services.

Then in the aftermath of 9/11 Clancy was back in the news because the attacks bore a striking resemblance to an attack described in his novel Debt of Honor where a Boeing 747 crashes into the U.S. Capitol while the President is addressing a joint session of Congress. The President and most of Congress are killed.

But this isn’t what was most striking to me. The aftermath of September 11th what most surprised the world was the inadequacy of the US intelligence agencies. Stories emerged about the rush to find anyone in the CIA who spoke Arabic. They didn’t seem to have operatives embedded in the bad guys camps. Their tools were no better than two cups and a piece of string.

The world had been duped and Tom Clancy, Harrison Ford and some bloody great fiction were to blame.

Click here to go to Tom Clancy’s author page on Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Command Authority

by Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy’s final Jack Ryan Novel

Command Authority sees the return of Tom Clancy’s greatest hero, Jack Ryan.

There’s a new strong man in Russia, but his rise to power is based on a dark secret hidden decades in the past. The clue to the mystery lies with a most unexpected source: President Jack Ryan.

Tom Clancy’s Command Authority is a brand new full-throttle all-action adventure for 2013.

It follows Threat Vector and Locked On as the newest Jack Ryan novel.

.

Click here to go to buy Command Authority from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

James Bond in Australia: Booktopia takes Solo on a Bond Voyage

UPDATE: The winner of our James Bond competition has been announced. Congratulations J. Wilson of NSW!

The voice on the phone was steady and clear: Be at Sydney Airport for the arrival of British Airways Flight B15. British Airways Captain, Thomas Clark will be escorting James Bond, 007, through customs. You are to deliver him unharmed to Booktopia’s Headquarters where he will stay until further orders. Is that clear?

Yes, I replied.

Andrew waiting for James Bond to Arrive in SydneyAccompanied by my trusty sidekick, Mr A Cattanach, we did as requested, and arrived at Terminal 1 at 5am, blending in seamlessly with the assembled crowds. Yes, 5am. British Airways Crew, lead by Thomas Clark Escort James Bond from customsThe British Airways Captain, Thomas Clark did not come alone, but was joined by his crew. Evidently he was under the impression that James Bond would likely cause trouble. He seemed very pleased to be relieved of his duty.

Captain Thomas Clark Delivering the Package SafelyAfter the handover the captain and crew dispersed quickly leaving us with the troublesome Mr Bond. And then the smooth talking Bond made a suggestion. He said he’d never been to Sydney before and would we mind so much if we took in a few of the sights. There is something about that man, Andrew and I were soon at his beck and call.

James Bond ConvinceseHarbourSo we took him down to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.

James Bond Visits The Opera HouseHe wanted to take a closer look.

James Bond And The CityHe wanted to linger.

Bond Does BondiAnd then there was the inevitable request, the place every Brit wants to visit, Bondi.

Bond's Bondi BreakieBut he did pay for breakfast, which was nice.

Bond Arrives At Booktopia

Bond Arrives At Booktopia: Mission Accomplished

What the hell just happened? Why did you take a Perspex case containing a copy of William Boyd’s new James Bond novel, SOLO on a tour of Sydney? Are you mad?

In a global event to mark the publication of the new James Bond novel SOLO, 7 copies of the novel, signed and stamped by author William Boyd, were sent on 7 SOLO missions around the world in association with British Airways.

In a global event this morning to mark the publication of the new James Bond novel SOLO, 7 copies of the novel, signed and stamped by author William Boyd, were sent on 7 SOLO missions around the world in association with British Airways.Booktopia is proud to announce that we are the recipient of the copy sent all the way out to Sydney, Australia.

The handover took place early this morning and after a quick tour of the sights of Sydney the Perspex case containing SOLO was brought back to Booktopia HQ where it will stay until two lucky Booktopians own a piece of history.

William Boyd with his new novel Solo. The latest James Bond Novel.

William Boyd with his new novel Solo. The latest James Bond Novel.

You Could Win! Click here.Bond around the world…

Cape Town

Cape Town

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Zurich

Zurich

Delhi

Delhi

Edinburgh

Edinburgh

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

Own your copy of SOLO today - click hereBuy William Boyd’s SOLO or any James Bond Vintage Classics Editions before 31st October 2013 for your chance to win an exclusive signed copy of the new James Bond novel, SOLO – It was flown into Australia and hand delivered to Booktopia! Only one in Australia!

UPDATE: Winner has been announced. Congratulations J. Wilson of NSW!

Solo : A James Bond Novel

by William Boyd

It is 1969 and James Bond is about to go solo, recklessly motivated by revenge.

A seasoned veteran of the service, 007 is sent to single-handedly stop a civil war in the small West African nation of Zanzarim. Aided by a beautiful accomplice and hindered by the local militia, he undergoes a scarring experience which compels him to ignore M’s orders in pursuit of his own brand of justice. Bond’s renegade action leads him to Washington, D.C., where he discovers a web of geopolitical intrigue and witnesses fresh horrors.

Even if Bond succeeds in exacting his revenge, a man with two faces will come to stalk his every waking moment.

About the Author

William Boyd was born in Accra, Ghana, in 1952. He is the author of one work of non-fiction, three collections of short stories and fourteen novels. He has won many awards including the Whitbread First Novel, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Sunday Express Book of the Year Award and the Costa Book Award. He is married and lives in London.

Click here to order your copy of Solo from Booktopia now!

Australian Romance Author Showcase with…Helene Young

As part of Australian Romance Month, Romance Specialist Haylee Nash will be interviewing one Australian Romance author per day. Much like a beauty pageant, each author will be using their charm, wit and grace (and the power of social media) to take home the Booktopia Romance Bestseller crown. Booktopia invites bestselling rural romantic suspense author Helene Young to the stage.

1. Describe the perfect date.
It would start with a stroll along the beach to an understated but elegant restaurant with gorgeous views. We’d watch the full moon turn the water silver as we sipped champagne and dined on delicious fresh seafood. The sea breeze would have enough of a chill that my handsome date (that would be my husband!) would slip his jacket over my shoulders and the scent of his aftershave would remind me of all the wonderful years we’ve had together. At the end of the evening we’d walk back hand-in-hand along the beach to the beautiful catamaran we now call home. Continue reading

Australian Romance Author Showcase with…Fiona McIntosh

fiona-mcintosh-3a1As part of Australian Romance Month, Romance Specialist Haylee Nash will be interviewing one Australian Romance author per day. Much like a beauty pageant, each author will be using their charm, wit and grace (and the power of social media) to take home the Booktopia Romance Bestseller crown. Booktopia invites bestselling Fantasy and Adventure Romance author Fiona McIntosh to the stage.

1. Describe the perfect date.
George Clooney, Paris, chocolate … need I say more? Continue reading

Chasing the Valley by Skye Melki-Wegner: Review from Sarah McDuling

Sarah McDuling, the fearless editor of Booktopia’s Young Adult Buzz, takes a look at the latest offering from author Skye Melki-Wegner.

Chasing the ValleyI’m not really sure how to categorise Chasing the Valley. Unless “Phantasmagorical” can be considered a category?

No? Okay, fine. Categorise this:  An insanely glorious blend of Steampunk Adventure and Dystopian Fantasy with a touch of Romance and the promise of a great series to follow. In other words… awesome! That’s Chasing the Valley for youin a nutshell.

Our heroine here is plucky orphan girl, Danika Gylnn. Along with a rag-tag group of rebellious teens, Danika runs from a life of poverty and oppression in the slums of the city, striking out in search of a legendary safe haven. Their destination is a place called Magentic Valley, however, no one really knows where it is or how to get there. Continue reading

Inferno by Dan Brown – A Review from Booktopia’s Andrew Cattanach

Booktopia’s Andrew Cattanach has thrown himself into Dan Brown’s latest blockbuster. Read what he thought of all the hype .

(Scroll to the bottom to see the three lucky people receiving copies signed by Dan Brown).

How peculiar a world that seems content to throw billions of dollars at Adam Sandler dressing up as a woman to play his twin sister, yet derides an author because they offer more substance than style.

As an author Dan Brown has made no secret of being an excellent maths teacher. Where other writers of similar ilk go on speaking tours and blog about their genius, Dan Brown has chosen a life away from his millions of fans. To the outsider he appears nearly embarrassed at the juggernaut he’s created, one of the few authors without the names “E.L” and “James” to constantly be a hot topic of mainstream media everywhere.

Continue reading

Tiffiny Hall, author of Red Samurai and White Ninja in the Roxy Ran series, answers Six Sharp Questions

red-samuraiThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Tiffiny Hall

author of Red Samurai and White Ninja in the Roxy Ran series

Six Sharp Questions

——————–

1. Congratulations, on completing your new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

RED SAMURAI is my second book in the Roxy Ran trilogy for readers aged 10+. Roxy is now the White Warrior and in this book she meets her match da da da – the Red Samurai. Roxy is an ordinary 13-year-old girl with awesome powers plus a secret crush she is desperate to keep secret and the school bully to deal with. This book is more about Roxy’s sister Elecktra and the trouble she causes in Lanternwood with her magic. Red Samurai is a fantastic read for anyone dealing with bullies or struggling with their confidence. Red Samurai continues my fight to empower kids to feel stand up for themselves.


Click here to buy Red Samurai from Booktopia,

Australia’s Local Bookstore


2. Time passes. Things change. What is the best and moment that you have experienced in the past year or so?tiffiny hall

Best moments have been releasing my fiction and visiting schools to talk about reading and writing NINJA STYLE! Best moments are always when you are true to yourself. I’ve always had a thirst and passion for creative writing but it took many years to have the courage to share it. The truelly best moment is when kids see me as an author not a TV personality. The worst is dealing with injury. I have chronic plantar faciitis that cripples my feet and stopped me from being active and doing Taekwondo. I’m still rehabilitating now but not being able to walk was very frustrating – although I did get a lot of writing done because I was forced to put my feet up.

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us?

I was lucky enough to be taught by John Marsden at school. He lit the flame for writing when I was in Grade Five. I won a John Marsden award for creative writing and my heart was set – I wanted to share stories too. John inscribed one of his books for me ‘to Hall-of-fame’ writing and the book sits on my writing desk for inspiration. He always said writing is “bums on seats”. Whenever I’m struggling with motivation or inspiration I remember that I have to sit down and just get on with it. Writing is 80% grit and determination. It’s a hard gig. You really need to be self-disciplined.

I also have a few fitness quotes I live by to keep my mind and body healthy.

“For every diet there is an opposite binge,” – Geneen Roth

“You have your body for life; you might as well get along with it.” – Sandy Kumskov.

4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it?

Deny deny deny! My writing means I work from home so meals are cooked on time, washing gets done, I’m able to multi-task. I’m a big believer in doing Writing Sprints. So I write hard for 30-40mins then take a break and do something menial for fifteen minutes to help myself think before the next sprint. If there are errands to run – I’m your girl. I’m home to even answer the home phone! I have a writing room at home that no one comes into, they respect my writing space. But I’m definitely not in a bad mood when I’m writing. My writing room consists of a messy desk with a collection of 20 ninjas standing at attention beside my computer. There are piles of manuscripts, a patchwork of post-its and stacks of kids books swallowing up my big Mac.

tomorrow-when-the-war-began5. 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!).

Ha! Lying if you say you never think about this. Series are so popular now with kids, it’s as if you can’t just think of writing a stand alone book anymore. White Ninja was a solid idea but I was influenced by the phemonemon of series and committed so committed to the trilogy. But when it comes to content I don’t care. When I started writing White Ninja four years ago there weren’t many martial arts series on the market, especially by female authors. I didn’t know if kids would love or hate martial arts adventure books. They were a blast to write and I hoped this would mean kids would enjoy to read them.

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

David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day – to teach them how to be economical with words, that life shouldn’t be taken so seriously and to prove that great writing can make you LOL in public.

John Marsden’s the Tomorrow When The War Began series – it will give them that ‘yeah-baby!!’ feeling of being hooked in by a series and not being able to put a book down.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude – because it is an example of exquisite writing, wise and blooming with mind-expanding ideas.

Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl – to show how you can experiment with language and the power of the imagination.

Lord of the Flies, William Golding – as an example of how themes work in writing: loss of innocence and the confronting conflict between civilisation and savagery that exists in all of us.

Tiffiny, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Red Samurai from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore


Roxy Ran Series by Tiffany Hall

White Ninja – Book 1

white-ninja

Will Roxy reveal her true fighting spirit?

Roxy Ran is an ordinary thirteen-year-old girl who doesn’t know anything about her ninja powers until a confrontation with the school bully unleashes them.

When new boy Jackson Axe introduces Roxy to the world of martial arts, she learns about the legend of the White Warrior and the powers that are trapped in the Tiger Scrolls. The White Warrior is hunted by both the ninja and samurai clans, and now Jackson and Roxy must find the Tiger Scrolls and unleash the powers of the White Warrior before the samurai do.

And in order to survive, Roxy must unleash her inner ninja.

“Dazzlingly different… a novel about transformation that has the power to transform every reader. Tiffiny Hall is the new voice in children′s fiction.”
- John Marsden

Click here to buy White Ninja from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Red Samurai – Book 2

In this second sensational title in the Roxy Ran series, Roxy is now The White Warrior. She has released the powers of the Tiger Scrolls – and the wrath of the Samurai, the centuries-old arch enemies of the Ninja. Roxy now has to take on the

red-samurai

Samurai, not realising that their leader, the Red Samurai, is closer to home than she ever could have imagined.
Praise for WHITE NINJA:

′Dazzlingly different… a novel about transformation that has the power to transform every reader. Tiffiny Hall is the new voice in children′s fiction.′

- John Marsden

Click here to buy Red Samurai from
Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

2012 Aurealis Awards Finalists announced

The finalists for the 2012 Aurealis Awards have been announced today, with Margo Lanagan leading the field with 5 nominations  including nods for Best Fantasy Novel and Best Young Adult Novel for her book Sea Hearts,.

Kate Forsyth was rewarded for her stellar year with the nomination of Bitter Greens, just a few days after her highly anticipated novel Wild Girl hit the shelves.

Judging Co-ordinator, Tehani Wessely, said that with almost 750 entries across the thirteen categories, the judges had a difficult job.

Margo Lanagan

Margo Lanagan

“Once again, the judges agreed that entries were of a very high standard and the final decisions were subject to much debate among the panellists. We had record entries in almost all categories.

“The trend towards quality e-published fiction continued in 2012, with a high percentage of entries published this way. The short story categories continue to flourish, and while some entry categories were relatively small, others maintained or surpassed previous figures.”

“I’d like to thank all the judges for their time and effort judging of these awards.”

2012 Aurealis Awards – Finalists

FANTASY NOVEL

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan

Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier

FANTASY SHORT STORY

“Sanaa’s Army” by Joanne Anderton

“The Stone Witch” by Isobelle Carmody

“First They Came” by Deborah Kalin

“Bajazzle” by Margo Lanagan

“The Isles of the Sun” by Margo Lanagan

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

Suited by Jo Anderton

The Last City by Nina D’Aleo

And All The Stars by Andrea K Host

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY

“Visitors” by James Bradley

“Significant Dust” by Margo Lanagan

“Beyond Winter’s Shadow” by Greg Mellor

“The Trouble with Memes” by Greg Mellor

“The Lighthouse Keepers’ Club” by Kaaron Warren

HORROR NOVEL

Bloody Waters by Jason Franks

Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott

Blood and Dust by Jason Nahrung

Salvage by Jason Nahrung

HORROR SHORT STORY

“Sanaa’s Army” by Joanne Anderton

“Elyora” by Jodi Cleghorn

“To Wish Upon a Clockwork Heart” by Felicity Dowker

“Escena de un Asesinato” by Robert Hood

“Sky” by Kaaron Warren

YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney

And All The Stars by Andrea K. Host

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan

Into That Forest by Louis Nowra

YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY

“Stilled Lifes x 11” by Justin D’Ath

“The Wisdom of the Ants” by Thoraiya Dyer

“Rats” by Jack Heath

“The Statues of Melbourne” by Jack Nicholls

“The Worry Man” by Adrienne Tam

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)

Brotherband: The Hunters by John Flanagan

Princess Betony and the Unicorn by Pamela Freeman

The Silver Door by Emily Rodda

Irina the Wolf Queen by Leah Swann

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)

Little Elephants by Graeme Base (author and illustrator)

The Boy Who Grew Into a Tree by Gary Crew (author) and Ross Watkins (illustrator)

In the Beech Forest by Gary Crew (author) and Den Scheer (illustrator)

Inside the World of Tom Roberts by Mark Wilson (author and illustrator)

ILLUSTRATED BOOK / GRAPHIC NOVEL

Blue by Pat Grant (author and illustrator)

It Shines and Shakes and Laughs by Tim Molloy (author and illustrator)

Changing Ways #2 by Justin Randall (author and illustrator)

_______________________________________

Winners of the 2012 Aurealis Awards and the Peter McNamara Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony, on the evening of Saturday 18 May at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney.

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