BOOK REVIEW: The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay (Review from Hayley Shephard)

From London to Tobruk to Australia to New Britain to Cornwall to Australia and then back to Cornwall and back to Australia again, The Secret Years follows a difficult yet heart-warming journeythe-secret-years that spans years and continents.

After an intriguing prologue we are introduced to Lucy, a soldier on a return flight from Afghanistan heading home to Townsville. She hopes to start planning her wedding but after arriving her fiancé changes her mind; he can’t handle her job with the army while he has – for all intents and purposes – a desk job. That’s not the end of it as her mother, who has jumped from one rocky relationship to the next her entire life, has moved in with a man who this time around seems perfect; and that makes her all the more nervous about messing it up.

Lucy’s mother’s uncomfortable (to say the least) relationship with her own father has overshadowed her entire life, with secrets left untold.

Lucy finds an old letter with a photograph of a stunning young woman who turns out to be Lucy’s grandmother, affectionately called George. The letter could help uncover the secrets from the past and from her Mother’s reaction to the letter, Lucy discovers it won’t be easy playing detective. So Lucy sets off to England where it all started; during WWII her Grandfather fell head-over-heels in love with George, a beautiful aristocratic English woman who in turn loved him immeasurably.

While there Lucy finds out things that help set the record straight. We find out why her grandfather sent her own mother back there when she was a child after George had died. Why she was taken from the family’s home in outback Queensland?

Sorry, I have to stop typing out the entire plot; it was just such an awesome read.

Now focus!

The whole story brought tears to my eyes, particularly towards the end of the book.

I loved how she portrayed her female characters. Lucy, her mother and grandmother are strong women who love fiercely.

Barbara Hannay’s descriptions of the surrounding landscapes are also stunning. You feel the heat of Queensland and the bitterly yet magical cold weather of Cornwall.

But what I think I loved most about this story was how easy it was to relate to, how universal the themes are. Everyone experiences heartbreak and regret, and forgiveness is truly a powerful wake-up call…

Grab your copy of The Secret Years here

the-secret-yearsThe Secret Years – Signed Copies Available!*

by Barbara Hannay

For a limited time only, order The Secret Years and you will receive a signed copy. *Offer available while stocks last.

When Lucy Hunter stumbles upon her grandfather Harry’s World War II memorabilia, she finds a faded photograph of a stunning young woman known simply as ‘George’ and a series of heartfelt letters. They are clues about the secret years, a period of Lucy’s family history that has been kept a mystery . . . until now.

How did a cattleman from north Queensland find forbidden love with the Honourable Georgina Lenton of London and persuade her to move to his isolated outback property? And why are the effects of this encounter still reverberating in the lives of Lucy and her mother, Rose, now? As the passions of the past trickle more…

Grab your copy of The Secret Years here

BREAKING NEWS: Big Surprises In 2015 Man Booker Prize Shortlist

This year’s race for the Man Booker Prize promises to be one of the most intriguing in recent memory, with six extraordinary novels being named in a shortlist that shunned big names and early favourites Marilynne Robinson, Andrew O’Hagan and former winner Anne Enright.

Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life remains the early favourite to take out the major prize, with Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread, Tom McCarthy’s Satin IslandThe Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings and Sunjeev Sahota’s The Year of the Runaways rounding out the shortlist for the most prestigious book prize in the world.

Haven’t read them all? Be your own judge, and pick up all the books in the 2015 Man Booker Prize today!

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Drum roll…. We’re announcing the winners of our June/July Competitions!

In June and July we had a pile of prizes and promotions for you to plunder.

Let’s wrap a few up and announce the winners of these great prizes, shall we?

Izzy_Folau_Competition_Category_Page_BannerAll you had to do to enter was order from The Izzy Folau series by July 31st!

chance-of-a-lifetimeDaniel and Sione have been given the chance of a lifetime to be coached by Australian rugby union star, Israel Folau. But can they make it count? While Daniel and Sione come from very different backgrounds, they both eat, sleep and breathe rugby union. When they are selected for a junior representative rugby team, Daniel and Sione’s worlds collide. At first, the boys are awestruck by Izzy, but soon they see him as a friend. Unfortunately, things on the field don’t go as smoothly. Will Daniel and Sione learn how to adapt to their new team? Or will their big break turn into a missed opportunity?

…and the winner is:

K.Henry, Darwin, NT

Check out The Izzy Folau series here

9781743533116_100_days_of_happiness_large_promo_banner All you had to do to enter was order One Hundred Days of Happiness by July 31st!

What would you do if you knew you only had 100 days left to live? For Lucio Battistini, it’s a chance to spend the rest of his life the way he always should have – by making every moment countone-hundred-days-of-happiness. Womanizing, imperfect, but loveable, Lucio Battistini has been thrown out of the house by his wife and is sleeping in the stock room of his father-in-law’s bombolini bakery when he learns he has inoperable cancer. So begins the last hundred days of Lucio’s life, as he attempts to care for his family, win back his wife (the love of his life and afterlife), and spend the next three months enjoying every moment with a zest he hasn’t felt in years. From helping his hopelessly romantic, widowed more…

…and the winner is:

W.Shea, Anglesea, VIC

Grab a copy of One Hundred Days of Happiness here

9780000446206_Lindsey_Kelk_Newsletter_bannerAll you had to do to enter was order our exclusive Lindsey Kelk pack by July 31st! 

always-the-bridesmaid-what-a-girl-wants-pack-Always the Bridesmaid Everyone loves a bridesmaid. Except Maddie, who’s perpetually asked to be one. Everyone loves a wedding. Except Maddie’s best friend, who’s getting divorced. And everyone loves the way Maddie’s so happy backstage. Except Maddie herself. One best friend is more…

…and the winner is:

K.Lewis, Kalgoorlie, WA

Check out our Lindsey Kelk pack here

9781401948504_LITNB_Newsletter_Banner_17072015All you had to do to enter was order Light Is the New Black by July 31st! 

Follow what lights you up, and you’ll light up the world.light-is-the-new-black Light Is The New Black is a guidebook for a new breed of women who are here to be bright lights in the world—modern-day lightworks who agreed to be here at this time in history. In order to thrive in this new age, everything we do must. Be an authentic expression of who we truly are. Light Is The New Black will guide you back home to the callings of your soul so that you can light up the world with your presence. Rebecca Campbell had her first awakening when she was a teenager. But more…

…and the winners are:

D.Petrie-Godbolt, Bowral, NSW A.Curran, Ferny Grove, QLD C.Ives, Alcomie, TAS O.Walters, Tannum Sands, QLD B.Dye, North Wollongong, NSW

Grab a copy of Light Is the New Black here

Congratulations to the winners!

Missed out on the prize? Hey, turn that frown upside up, we’ve got so much more up for grabs, not to mention limited editions signed copies and 2 for 1 offers!

Head to our Promotions and Competitions page, where you could be a winner every day!


BREAKING NEWS: Longlist For The 2015 Man Booker Prize announced

Take a closer look at the 2015 Longlist, and be your own judge…

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Lucy Treloar, author of Salt Creek, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

salt-creekThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Lucy Treloar

author of Salt Creek

Ten Terrifying Questions

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Malaysia, where my family lived for several years. My schooling was in Melbourne, England and Sweden, and I went to Melbourne University (Fine Arts) and RMIT (Prof Writing and Editing).

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?  

I realize now that I always wanted to be a writer (I can still recite a horrible poem in rhyming couplets that I wrote at seven or so, which I’ll spare you) but it took me years to find that out. In any job I held I always gravitated towards writing. I love words. How can you not?

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?  

At eighteen, I believed without even knowing it that the world would continue in much the same way as it always had, with a few technological developments. Life has become more precarious andLucy Treloar the world’s fragility better understood in the intervening years. I’m more fearful, I think, partly because I worry about the future for my children.

4.  What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc. – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

The hardest question. Only three? The Emigrants – a gripping historical series by a Swedish writer, Vilhelm Moberg, the first really adult books I read; Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse (the first time I saw that books could be about ideas, not only character and plot) and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (I felt as if I’d become a different person after I read it). These books were so much part of my growing up (read between the ages of 11 and 17) and my thinking that I can’t separate them from me. They and the universes of human existence that they contained were like explosions in my life. I longed to be able to do that.

5.    Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I’m just not very good at other things. I would love to be an artist, but all I can do is appreciate art longingly, enviously from a distance.

6.    Please tell us about your latest novel

salt-creekSalt Creek is the story of Hester Finch, an educated, highly intelligent fifteen-year-old of the 1850s whose family moves from early Adelaide to a remote and spectacular part of South Australia where over several years her father tries (and fails) to improve the family’s fortunes, destroying the indigenous culture as he does it. It’s about love in its many forms, power, and civilization and its failings.

Grab your copy of Salt Creek here

7.    What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

For people to care and wonder about the world and the people of Salt Creek, even the ones who behaved badly.

8.    Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

It’s very hard for me to go past Marilynne Robinson. The scope of her fiction is apparently small, yet the range of human emotion and experience that she is able to explore, and the generosity of her understanding, is vast. Cormac McCarthy (especially his Border Trilogy and Blood Meridian) is another writer I read and reread. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is extraordinary. Among writers of historical fiction, Hilary Mantel, Kate Grenville and Geraldine Brooks are the benchmarks for me.

9.    Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

All I really want is an excuse to keep writing, for my skills to develop, and to continue to be published. That feels wildly ambitious to me.

10.    What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Getting negative feedback goes with the territory of being a writer. But don’t let that feedback stop you; don’t let anyone else decide for you that you’re not a writer. Let that be your decision. The other piece of advice is from Marilynne Robinson: ‘Forget definition, forget assumption, watch’.

Lucy, thank you for playing.

DONUTS! Now that we have your attention, we’d like to talk to you about One Hundred Days of Happiness. And Donuts.

We all love a great book, and we all love sweet pastries. So our friends at Pan Macmillan Australia decided to combine the two for Booktopians with the beautiful book One Hundred Days of Happiness.

Pre-order One Hundred Days of Happiness by July 31st and you could win a dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme delivered to your door!

What would you do if you knew you only had 100 days left to live? For Lucio Battistini, it’s a chance to spend the rest of his life the way he always should have—by making every moment count.

In 100 epigrammatic chapters, one for each of Lucio’s remaining days on earth, 100 Days of Happiness is as delicious as a hot doughnut and a morning cappuccino. Wistful, often hilarious, and always delectable, 100 Days of Happiness reminds us all to remember the preciousness of life and what matters most.


Pre-order your copy of 100 Days of Happiness here

one-hundred-days-of-happiness100 Days of Happiness

by Fausto Brizzi

“Funny, moving. . . I defy anyone to finish this story without tears in their eyes.”—Graeme Simsion, bestselling author of The Rosie Project

Womanizing, imperfect, but loveable, Lucio Battistini has been thrown out of the house by his wife and is sleeping in the stock room of his father-in-law’s bombolini bakery when he learns he has inoperable cancer.

So begins the last hundred days of Lucio’s life, as he attempts to care for his family, win back his wife (the love of his life and afterlife), and spend the next three months enjoying every moment with a zest he hasn’t felt in years.

From helping his hopelessly romantic, widowed father-in-law find love, discovering comfort in enduring friendships, and finding new ones, Lucio becomes, at last, the man he’s always meant to be.

About the Author

Fausto Brizzi is an Italian director, screenwriter, and film producer. The Night Before Exams, his debut work as a director, won him numerous awards, including the David di Donatello. 100 Days of Happiness is his first novel.

Pre-order your copy of 100 Days of Happiness here

How dangerous is a book?

Recently a bookshop in Adelaide was raided by authorities because a novel was sitting on the shelf and it wasn’t wrapped tightly in plastic.

A novel not tightly wrapped in plastic? Who would have let such a thing happen?

Easton Ellis

Bret Easton Ellis

Wait, novels aren’t usually wrapped tightly in plastic. What’s going on?

According to the authorities, this is a deadly dangerous novel.

Normal novels require someone to read them before they make them think. The authorities believe this novel can make a person think as they flick idly through the pages. And we all know how dangerous thinking is to the authorities.

Thinking is usually confined to those who read entire books. And as dangerous as this is to the authorities, readers make up such a small percentage of the population they can be safely overlooked.

But a book that can make people think just by opening its pages, this has to be suppressed.

And the book in question? American Psycho. Yep, that book by Bret Easton Ellis.

Really? But wasn’t that a comment on soulless consumerism of the 80s and 90s? How is that relevant today?

If I remember rightly the main character worked on Wall Street, was selfish, vain, immoral, valued things over people, treated women like toys, in short, was repugnant in every way.

What can the authorities have against a book which lampoons such excesses?

Oh wait…

Grab your copy of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho here

american-psychoAmerican Psycho

by Bret Easton Ellis

Is evil something you are? Or is it something you do?

Patrick Bateman has it all: good looks, youth, charm, a job on Wall Street, reservations at every new restaurant in town and a line of girls around the block.

He is also a psychopath.

A man addicted to his superficial, perfect life, he pulls us into a dark underworld where the American Dream becomes a nightmare . . .

American Psycho is one of the most controversial and talked-about novels of all time. A multimillion-copy bestseller hailed as a modern classic, it is a violent black comedy about the darkest side of human nature.

About the Author

Bret Easton Ellis is the author of six novels, Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, American Psycho, Glamorama, Lunar Park and most recently Imperial Bedrooms, which was a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller, and a collection of stories, The Informers. His work has been translated into twenty-seven languages. He lives in Los Angeles.

Grab your copy of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho here


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