REVIEW: The Raider by Monica McCarty (Review by Hayley Shephard)

the-raiderLooking for an historical book to read, where the actions and emotions of the characters involved are realistic? Where passion is always high, and the atmosphere is so sensual it’s bordering on primal? Then look no further than The Highland Guard series by Monica McCarty, and more recently her new novel, The Raider.

Think of The Highland Guard, after which this gripping series is named, as the ancient equivalent of the FBI or the ASIS. Each member must fight for Scotland’s freedom during the War of Independence.

Robert Boyd, whose warrior name is Raider (you can guess why), helps us to remember that warriors can still be vulnerable to their surroundings and make mistakes. So many authors of historical romance forget this and write about figures of the past that barely seem real – go figure!  Monica McCarty’s warriors, however, are human and thus susceptible to love in whatever form that may come in. And falling in love, as Raider learns, means making sacrifices and accepting that some things cannot be changed, otherwise you risk losing the one you love.

Raider comes to realise this after he takes an English woman hostage. Though he might be the strongest man in Scotland, he is just a man when 821in the presence of this woman, aptly named Rosalin. Rosalin, the sister of a powerful Englishman and seemingly his enemy, forces him to see and acknowledge things that he doesn’t want to- both inside and out.

Rosalin thankfully is not a damsel in distress; she pushes and pushes, never giving up.  Unfortunately, most authors give their characters a happy ending after only the slightest of hiccups; they make their “heroines” do anything and everything for the man they love.

More importantly, the constant upheavals in this story are not softened by unrealistic moments of passion. Some historical romances depict moments of “passion” as a turning point in the story, where the characters come to an understanding and realise everything will be alright. In this story sex is depicted as a way for the two main characters to show their love and frustration at the situation they have been dealt with. Not only that, but it helps them to forget for a while and imagine a happier world.

So as I said before, if you want a more realistic read then pick up The Raider or any other book in the series. The tension can be unbearable, but in the end well satisfying.


Grab a copy of The Raider here

Nicola Moriarty, author of Captivation and Paper Chains, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Guru asks

Nicola Moriarty

author of Captivation and Paper Chains

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, raised and schooled in Sydney – but as that sounds a bit boring, I’ll be a little more specific. Let’s see, I was born in Hornsby, raised in Kellyville and schooled in Baulkham Hills. Nope, still not overly exciting. Ahh, if only I was born on a yacht in the Caribbean, raised in a jungle in Brazil and schooled in a boarding house in the country. Oh well.

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

When I was twelve I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books because one of my primary school teachers  (Mrs Walsh – she had cascading curly hair and I adored her) had made a big fuss over a story I wrote. When I was eighteen I wanted to be an actress because I was performing in various amateur theatre productions at the time and I loved the rush of being up in front of an audience and becoming a different person. At thirty I very much wanted to be a writer – so it’s lucky that that’s what I seem to be doing!

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

I believed that I would never get married because I thought that marriage was too conventional for me. Ha! I’ve been married now for just coming up to eight years.

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?

First off, Coldplay’s song ‘Warning Sign’ definitely helped me to write my first novel. I love listening to emotional music as I write, it helps me to get into the right head-space. Secondly, My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult – I can specifically remember exactly where I was when I was reading the final chapter of this book. I remember being outside on our balcony in the apartment we used to rent in Parramatta, and there was a huge storm and when I read the final twist I absolutely SOBBED. And I thought, I would love to be able to affect readers in this way. Finally, the play ‘Death of a Salesman’ – however it wasn’t the actual play that reached me, it was while I was involved in an amateur theatre production of it. I had a very minor role, and while I and the rest of the cast were backstage I decided to write a spin-off for all the minor characters. Creating the small play and then watching it come to life (we performed it for the rest of the cast and crew on closing night) reminded me how much I loved creating something.

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

I love to write, it makes me happy, it’s hard to stop – simple as that!

paper-chains6.    Please tell us about your latest novel…

My latest release was a supernatural romance novella called Captivation… But my latest full-length novel was called Paper Chains, and that’s about fate, friendship, post-natal depression, loss, love, London and Luna Park.

Grab a copy of Paper Chains here

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

First I want them to use my book to escape from the world for just a little while. And then I want them to be left with that feel-good glow, even if it’s just for the rest of the day after they finish reading. Finally I want them to be hungry for more words – and not necessarily just my words!

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

captivationCan I name two people, is that okay? Liane and Jaclyn Moriarty – my two wildly successful author sisters who encourage and support me and who’s novels I absolutely adore. When I read Liane’s books for the first time, I generally end up neglecting other things in my life because I can’t put it down – my writing, the washing that needs to be hung out, my children… her books make me laugh out loud and they make me cry and they twist my stomach. Jaci has an amazing ability to constantly reinvent herself. One minute she is writing YA fiction that connects with her readers on an unprecedented level, next she is creating a novel that is quirky and clever and sweet and sad. Now she’s moved on yet again – to a magical realism trilogy that is utterly delightful. How does she do that?!

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

Here is my most ambitious and ridiculously unachievable goal: I want to write a book that EVERYONE loves. I mean every single person who reads it, thinks that it is amazing. And even those people that haven’t read it, they just love the look of it. Oh and even those people that haven’t seen it or heard of it, they have this strange, psychic connection with it that they don’t quite understand, but they can identify that it is love for a work of fiction somewhere in the world. Too much? Yeah, I guess I got a bit carried away there didn’t I?

10.    What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write when you want to write, when you’re in the mood and you’re feeling creative. Let your fingers trip across the keyboard, let your pen run away with your hand. Try out different styles and different genres. Take a creative writing course. Eat chocolate. Quit smoking (contrary to Hollywood movies, you don’t need to be a sleep-deprived, chain-smoking, coffee-drinking struggling romantic to be a writer – although cappuccinos are okay).

Nicola, thank you for playing.

Check out Nicola’s books here

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!

 

————————

Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 5

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

This is it folks. Your last chance to push your favourite authors into next week’s final round of voting. Last year’s winner Kate Morton is also in this heat!

Next week we’ll have the top 100 authors from all the heats for you to vote for!

Remember you can select as many authors as you like with your vote and give them the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

————————

Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 4

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Heat 4 is full of some huge names and exciting newcomers. Who will you vote for?

Thanks to everyone who has voted so far, the response has been incredible! And thanks to all the wonderful authors and publishers for spreading the word!

Remember you can select as many authors as you like with your vote and give them the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

————————

Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 3

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Today’s list is full of the most popular writers in Australia today, it’s a tough one!

Remember you can select as many authors as you like with your vote and give them the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

————————

Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 2

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

Yesterday had some big surprises as Australia searched their hearts and bookcases, will today be the same?

A reminder that this is only Heat 2, so you might see some of your favourites missing today. Don’t worry, over the week you’ll have a chance to vote for all of your favourites in their respective heats.

Today’s list includes Nobel, Pulitzer, Orange and Miles Franklin Prize-Winners!

Vote now to see them advance to the final round of voting next week and have the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

————————

Vote For Australia’s Favourite Novelist 2014 – Heat 1

January is the month of Australian Stories at Booktopia, and to celebrate we need your help to discover Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2014!

We’ve taken your nominations and today is the day to put your votes forward. You can vote for as many novelists as you like.

A reminder that this is only Heat 1, so you might see some of your favourites missing today. Don’t worry, over the next 5 days you’ll have a chance to vote for all of your favourites in their respective heats.

Today we have brilliant bestsellers, acclaimed award-winners and exciting newbies! Vote now to see them advance to the final round of voting next week and have the chance to become Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

————————

Team Booktopia’s 2013 Favourites

The Booktopia team  nominates their favourite titles from a great year of books.

Caroline Baum’s Picks

the-signature-of-all-thingsTHE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS
Elizabeth Gilbert

From Caroline’s Book of the Year Review: I’ve said it more than once, and I will say it again, loudly. I ADORE this book. I don’t think it has found the readership it deserves because some people think ‘Oh, she wrote Eat Pray Love, I didn’t like that or want to read that kind of thing so I won’t buy this’ and others think ‘Oh, if it’s not like Eat Pray Love I won’t like it.’ Put your prejudices aside, people!

Treat yourself to the most intriguing, refreshing and original female character of the year…

Read more


DRIVE BYdrive-by
Michael Duffy

From Caroline’s review: You only have to watch the news to see that it does not get more topical than Drive By.

This gritty, complex, multi-layered novel is based on the spate of shootings between rival drug gangs that have riddled the streets of south Sydney in the past couple of years.

Duffy, a seasoned regular observer of the courts, has created two memorable characters: Bec, a part-Aboriginal detective, who has a distinctive vocabulary that wrong-foots her colleagues: and Honest John, a keen Toyota mechanic and member of the Habib family who would really rather not have to think too hard about what his brothers have been up to and just wants to marry his Aussie girlfriend.

Read more


SUGARED ORANGESsugared-orange
Beata Zatorska

From Caroline’s review: Anyone who loved Rose Petal Jam is going to adore this chilly sister volume about the winter foods of Poland. Sydney GP Beata Zatorska is back with more family and carefully chosen classic recipes from around her native country, lovingly collected on journeys through snow and ice.

It takes a lot of love to publish a book that puts so much effort into photography (magical snowscapes by Beata’s documentary maker husband Simon Target) and superb design, creating the effect of a cherished family album.

Read more


I AM MALALAi-am-malala
Malala Yousafzai

From Caroline’s review: Why she didn’t get the Nobel Peace Prize is beyond me. Malala’s story, told in the same unwaveringly forthright voice we have become used to hearing her speak in at her many public appearances is a tribute not only to her personal convictions and courage but to those of her remarkable father.

It also offers an insight into what daily life under the threat of the Taliban really means and how petty their brutality can be. And still, despite the horror of it all, Malala expresses an acute homesickness for her beloved Swat Valley.

Read more



mastering-the-art-of-soviet-cookingMASTERING THE ART OF SOVIET COOKING
Anya Von Bremzen

From Caroline’s review: You know how sometimes you feel a book is so special that it has been written with you and only you in mind?

Well, that’s how I felt about this book. Having known several Soviet citizens at very close quarters, I understand how central food and the lack of it is to the national psyche. And I once celebrated the fall of the Berlin wall with a themed New Year’s Eve dinner of which the centrepiece was a fiendishly difficult dish: Coulibiac, a traditional Russian fish pie with a yeast dough casing that took two days to make and which my friend and I baked in the shape of a hammer and sickle for extra effect. (It was spectacular, I have to say, but never to be repeated.)

So this book had me at hello, comrade.

Read more


THE ROSIE PROJECT
Click here for more details or to buy The Rosie Project Graeme Simsion

From Caroline’s review: When rights to a debut novel are sold in more than thirty countries, you know a book is generating serious buzz. I am glad to say that this feel-good debut delivers what the hype promises.

It’s as light as perfectly baked scone, narrowly avoiding saccharine pitfalls, achieving just the right combo of airiness and substance for the perfect rom-com recipe.

Irresistibly charming, genuinely funny and cleverly plotted this is intelligent romance for grown ups whose arteries have not hardened with cynicism.

Read more


burial-ritesBURIAL RITES
Hannah Kent

From Caroline’s review: This book stinks, in a good way. Of fish and blood and guts and unwashed bodies and earth and death.

In fact, it reeks of those things and more. This austere love letter to Iceland takes a true story of murder as its foundation. Based on records from the trial of the two women and one man convicted of killing and burning two men on a remote farm this is richly and darkly imagined in prose thick with atmospherics.

Kent is a precocious talent who understands how to animate research and transform it into compelling narrative.

Read more


Andrew Cattanach’s Picks

the-narrow-road-to-the-deep-northTHE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH
Richard Flanagan

The book Richard Flanagan had to write. A deeply personal novel that made me drew me in and never let me go. Sure to earn a place as one of the finest Australian novels of our time.

From Caroline’s review: When Richard Flanagan produces a new book, you know it will come freighted with Big Themes. As an essayist, Flanagan is political, provocative, passionate. As a novelist, he is capable of shape-shifting across genres, from high literary gothic to popular psychological thriller.

His latest novel is as eloquent and powerful an affirmation of his empathy and understanding of humanity as anything he’s ever written.

Read more


TENTH OF DECEMBERtenth-of-december2
George Saunders

One of my favourite short story collections of recent times, mixing the absurd with the sweet, I can’t get enough of Saunders’ writing. Read it story by story, or in one big gulp, it won’t disappoint.

From the undisputed master of the short story, George Saunders, comes a dazzling and disturbing new collection. His most wryly hilarious work to date, Tenth of December illuminates human experience and explores figures lost in a labyrinth of troubling preoccupations.

Read more


the-night-guestTHE NIGHT GUEST
Fiona McFarlane

A difficult, emotional read, but on reflection an incredible novel, a brave novel. A wonderful writer that pulls the reader’s strings with extraordinary ease.

From Caroline’s review: Writing a novel is like walking a highwire. So when a new artiste makes her debut, you expect a wobble or two. But not in this case. I don’t know where she’s been hiding up to now, but Fiona McFarlane is a bright new star in Australian fiction. She’s got all the assurance and the confidence of a seasoned performer. Here she enters the ring with a story about fear, trust, ageing and death; to borrow from another profession where skill is paramount, she handles her themes with a light deft touch, like an expert pastry chef blessed with cool fingers.

Read more


DELICIOUS: LOVE TO COOKlove-to-cook
Valli Little

My favourite cookbook of 2013. Simple, fun, and gorgeous to look at. Whenever a friend checks out my cookbook collection, this is the book they talk about.

Sharing good food with family and friends is one of life’s great pleasures, but it’s easy to become stuck in the daily routine and lose your passion.

Love To Cook is designed to help you discover (or rediscover) the joy of spending time in the kitchen and at the table. Inside, you’ll find more than 140 recipes – themed by ingredient for easy reference – that will take you from quick weekday dinners with a clever twist to impressive ideas for entertaining.

Read more


murder-in-mississippiMURDER IN MISSISSIPPI
John Safran

I just hope John Safran keeps writing, he’s a natural. I lost myself in this amazing story and the calm, confident writing of the first time true crime writer.

When filming his TV series Race Relations, John Safran spent an uneasy couple of days with one of Mississippi’s most notorious white supremacists. A year later, he heard that the man had been murdered – and what was more, the killer was black.

Read more


AUTOBIOGRAPHYmorrissey
Morrissey

Everything I hoped for and more, Morrissey’s long awaited memoir is full of rich, flowery prose, the story of how a working-class kid from the North became an icon.

Steven Patrick Morrissey was born in Manchester on May 22nd 1959. Singer-songwriter and co-founder of the Smiths (1982-1987), Morrissey has been a solo artist for twenty-six years, during which time he has had three number 1 albums in England in three different decades.

Read more


John Purcell’s Picks

a-meal-in-winterA MEAL IN WITNER
Hubert Mingarelli

The book I wish I had written.

From John’s review: A Meal in Winter is a novella. You can read it in a night. But it punches well above its weight.

I am told A Meal in Winter will be published as a gorgeous little hardcover but I read the proof, a very drab looking proof is was too, and for some reason, even before I read a page, I had the notion that this was a rediscovered work, much like the work of Irène Némirovsky.  To further compound my assumption, as I read, I was reminded of Primo Levi, of Beckett, of Camus… read more


MR. WIGGmr-wigg
Inga Simpson

This is the book I gave to friends to read. An unexpected delight. 

From John’s review: A novel that celebrates the small things in life by a fresh Australian voice.

It s the summer of 1971, not far from the stone-fruit capital of New South Wales, where Mr Wigg lives on what is left of his family farm. Mrs Wigg has been gone a few years now and he thinks about her every day. He misses his daughter, too, and wonders when he’ll see her again… read more


into-my-armsINTO MY ARMS
Kylie Ladd

Read this in a couple of sittings. Ladd’s sharp psychological insights bring a depth to her fast paced narrative. If you want a book for the beach which will give you a shock or three, Into My Arms is hard to beat.

When Skye meets Ben their attraction is instantaneous and intense. Neither of them has ever felt more in synch – or in love – with anyone in their lives. What happens next will tear them both apart.

Into My Arms is a searing love story and a gripping family drama – a shocking, haunting novel in the tradition of Jodi Picoult and Caroline Overington.

Read more


the-wild-girlTHE WILD GIRL
Kate Forsyth

One of those books which wrap themselves around you like a warm blanket on a cold night. Deserves to be read by anyone who re-reads their Austen once a year.

One of the great untold love stories – how the Grimm brothers discovered their famous fairy tales – filled with drama and passion, and taking place during the Napoleonic Wars.

The Wild Girl tells the story of Dortchen Wild. Growing up next door to the Grimm brothers in Hesse-Cassel, a small German kingdom, Dortchen told Wilhelm some of the most powerful and compelling stories in the famous fairytale collection.

Read more


the-young-desire-itTHE YOUNG DESIRE IT
Kenneth Mackenzie

Relive the wonder of first love. No, really.

From John’s review: There is nothing so seductive and yet elusive as the memories of our first experiences in love. We can recall the actions – shared glances, a sweet paralysis, then the first touch, perhaps a chaste kiss – but this is not what we desire. We want to feel again the fear, the pleasure, the tremors and the foreign breath. But it is this that eludes us.

Unless we stumble across an artist who can recreate these feelings for us… read more


Also loved: Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan, The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism by A. C. Grayling, Slow Reading in a Hurried Age by David Mikics


Shoshana Booth’s Picks

MY AUTOBIOGRAPHYalex-ferguson
Alex Ferguson

Great read and the perfect gift for any soccer fan. Ferguson’s sheer determination is gripping.

Sir Alex announced his retirement as manager of Manchester United after 27 years in the role. He has gone out in a blaze of glory, with United winning the Premier League for the 13th time, and he is widely considered to be the greatest manager in the history of British football.

Over the last quarter of a century there have been seismic changes at Manchester United. The only constant element has been the quality of the manager’s league-winning squad and United’s run of success, which included winning the Champions League for a second time in 2008. Sir Alex created a purposeful, but welcoming, and much envied culture at the club which has lasted the test of time.

Read more


the-yellow-birdsTHE YELLOW BIRDS
Kevin Powers

This book really, really disturbed me. I had to remind myself to unclench my toes and keep breathing.

A soldier’s broken promise … a mother’s loss … an agonizing truth.

The Yellow Birds gives a powerful, emotional insight into the human cost of war – its impact on soldiers, their families, and most of all what it is like to return home, but never be able to leave the memories behind. Kevin Powers served two terms as a machine gunner with the US army in Iraq. On his return, he was asked one question more than any other: “What was it like over there?”

Read more


QUESTIONS OF TRAVELquestions-of-travel
Michelle de Kretser

Such a moving novel, it reminded me of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake and Lloyd Jones’ Hand Me Down World. A pleasure to read.

A mesmerising literary novel, Questions of Travel charts two very different lives. Laura travels the world before returning to Sydney, where she works for a publisher of travel guides. Ravi dreams of being a tourist until he is driven from Sri Lanka by devastating events.

Around these two superbly drawn characters, a double narrative assembles an enthralling array of people, places and stories – from Theo, whose life plays out in the long shadow of the past, to Hana, an Ethiopian woman determined to reinvent herself in Australia.

Read more


friday-brownFRIDAY BROWN
Vikki Wakefield

This book for is fans of Melina Marchetta and John Green. It has that same touch of surrealism and an unforgettable female voice.

Seventeen-year-old Friday Brown is on the run – running to escape memories of her mother and of the family curse. And of a grandfather who’d like her to stay. She’s lost, alone and afraid.

Silence, a street kid, finds Friday and she joins him in a gang led by beautiful, charismatic Arden. When Silence is involved in a crime, the gang escapes to a ghost town in the outback. In Murungal Creek, the town of never leaving, Friday must face the ghosts of her past.

Read more


THE NEW CLASSICSthe-new-classics
Donna Hay

Delicious recipes in Donna Hay’s simple, clean style. Do not make the mistake of reading this while you are hungry.

For Isabella Beeton in 1861 it was Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, for Stephanie Alexander in 1996 it was The Cook’s Companion and for Maggie Beer in 2007 it was Maggie’s Harvest. These books went onto become bestsellers, staples in every home; they were the one-stop recipe books that defined these authors’ work and became essential everyday reference books for their time.

Now in 2013, Australia’s leading cookbook author Donna Hay reveals her landmark book, The New Classics, a definitive collection of classic recipes for every modern cook.

Read more


Christopher Cahill’s Picks

the-tournament-unsigned-copyTHE TOURNAMENT
Matthew Reilly

From John’s review:  Bestselling author Matthew Reilly is one of Australia’s most reliable writers.

Every couple of years he delivers his fans quality popular fiction and every couple of years he can be counted on to break Australian sales records. But till now, all of his successes, Ice Station, Seven Ancient Wonders, Temple, The Five Greatest Warriors, Scarecrow, to name just a few, have one thing in common, the breakneck speed of their narrative.

The Tournament is a departure for Reilly, gone is his trademark breakneck speed. Instead we find a narrative with gravitational pull. Enter The Tournament’s orbit and you cannot escape, you must read on to the final page… read more

To download a FREE prequel to The Tournament, click here


GURRUMUL: His Life and Musicgurrumul
Robert Hillman

“… you will surrender to the greatest voice this continent has ever recorded” – Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald

On a November afternoon in 2010, Gurrumul sat in a studio in Sydney to be photographed for the cover of Rolling Stone. The studio was 3000 kilometres from where he was born on Elcho Island off the coast of East Arnhem Land.

A bare three years had passed since the release of Gurrumul, his critically acclaimed debut solo album. Those years of critical acclaim, all the years before them, and the illness that threatened to end it all, combine in one of the most inspiring music stories of our generation.

Read more


lonely-planet-s-beautiful-worldLONELY PLANET BEAUTIFUL WORLD

40 years of passion and experience has been poured into Lonely Planet’s Beautiful World.

We witness fiery volcanic eruptions; wind-sculpted icebergs in the Antarctic; mind-blowing migrations of wildlife large and small; natural wonders from Belize’s Great Blue Hole to Yellowstone in Wyoming; also the imprint that humanity has made on the planet.

Read more


SEASONAL KITCHENseasonal-kitchen
Serge Dansereau

The new cookbook from Serge Dansereau of Australia’s iconic Bathers’ Pavilion.

Seasonal Kitchen gives you 220 new recipes that celebrate Australian produce. In this eclectic collection of recipes, which draws its inspiration from the Mediterranean, as well as India and China, Serge continues to use his chef know-how to demonstrate how to turn modern-day classics from good dishes into great ones. Capitalising on his reputation as the ‘father of the fresh food movement’, Serge moves us through the year, listing in-season produce and offering us recipes that will show them at their best.

Read more


Elizabeth Earl’s Picks

hyperbole-and-a-halfHYPERBOLE AND A HALF
Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and A Half is a blog written by a 20-something American girl called Allie Brosh. She tells fantastically funny, wise stories about the mishaps of her everyday life, with titles like ‘Why Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving’ and ‘The Go of Cake’. She accompanies these with naive drawings using Paint on her PC.

Brosh’s website receives millions of visitors a month and hundreds of thousands of per day.

Now her full-colour debut book chronicles the many “learning experiences” Brosh has endured as a result of her own character flaws. It includes stories about her rambunctious childhood; the highs and mostly lows of owning a mentally challenged dog; and a moving and darkly comic account of her struggles with depression.

Read more


DOCTOR SLEEPdoctor-sleep-the-long-awaited-sequel-to-the-shining
Stephen King

An epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted readers of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

King says he wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance, the boy at the heart of The Shining, after his terrible experience in the Overlook Hotel. The instantly riveting Doctor Sleep picks up the story of the now middle-aged Dan, working at a hospice in rural New Hampshire, and the very special twelve-year old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

Read more


the-bling-ringTHE BLING RING
Nancy Jo Sales

It’s 19 September 2010, and 21-year-old Rachel Lee has emerged from Los Angeles Superior Court, having just been sentenced to four years behind bars.

A few months earlier, she had been running the Bling Ring: a gang of rich, beautiful, wild-living Valley teens who idolised celebrity, designer labels and luxury brands. Who, in 2009, became the most audacious thieves in recent Hollywood history.

But what made these kids–all of whom already enjoyed designer clothes, money, cars and social status–gamble with their lives at such high stakes?

Read more


PAPER TO PETALpaper-to-petal
Rebecca Thuss, Patrick Farrell

An inspiring book featuring 75 unique and captivating paper flowers.

Filled with beautiful photography, this book will feature simple accessible ideas, over-the-top aspirational ideas, and everything in between. The book begins with a lush gallery of images of the flowers, including a flower inspired by a Dr. Seuss book, an oversized holiday wreath, beautiful floral table decorations, and easy-to-make flowers for embellishing gift packages.

The gallery will be followed by a techniques section and thorough step-by-step instructions for all flowers and projects with accompanying templates.

Read more


world-war-zWORLD WAR Z: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE ZOMBIE WAR
Max Brooks

It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginnings of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse.

Faced with a future of mindless, man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the 10-year fight-back against the horde, World War Z brings the very finest traditions of American journalism to bear on what is surely the most incredible story in the history of civilisation.

Read more


Hayley Shephard’s Picks

THE CUCKOO’S CALLINGthe-cuckoo-s-calling
Robert Galbraith (a.k.a J.K. Rowling)

From Hayley’s review: From the outset I want to say I’m a HUGE J.K. Rowling fan, but I’ve never really been a fan of crime fiction, and as I started reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, I wondered if Rowling would win me over. With the words over-flowing I asked myself whether I would be able to keep track or even remember the many characters who could possibly be attached to the apparent suicide of one model named Lula Landry.

But as I kept reading I found myself more interested in the story and more eager to follow Detective Cormoran Strike in his quest to find the killer, which at first even he is sceptical exists.

Read more


my-dad-still-thinks-he-s-funnyMY DAD STILL THINK HE’S FUNNY
Katrina Germein

Sequel to the side-splitting, bestselling My Dad Thinks He’s Funny.

My dad says, ‘I’ve told you fifty million times, don’t exaggerate.’

Dad is back by popular demand with more hilarious material. And yes, my dad STILL thinks he’s funny.

Read more


NODDY CLASSIC COLLECTIONnoddy-classic-collection
Enid Blyton

This classic collection of Enid Blyton’s Noddy stories features the much loved original artwork. The books in this collection are perfect for young readers or young children who love story time – and are stored safely in the stunning flip-top box!

Packed in a very special flip-top slipcase, this Noddy collection is a perfect gift.

Enid Blyton’s master storytelling and the adorable artwork have made the Noddy series an enduring children’s classic.

Read more


shakeSHAKE
Carli Davidson

Original, amusing, and brilliantly documented, Shake is a heartwarming collection of sixty-one beguiling dogs caught in the most candid of moments: mid-shake. This glorious, graphic volume will stop you dead in your tracks as you are presented with images of man’s best friend caught in contortion: hair wild, eyes darting, ears and jowls flopping every which way.

Read more


THE HUNTERthe-hunter
Monica McCarty

The war for Scotlands freedom continues as King Robert the Bruce battles on. At his command is an elite army of trained warriors, soldiers dedicated to their king, their country and to the remarkable women they love.

Prized for his unbeatable tracking skills, Ewen “Hunter” Lamont accepts a dangerous assignment: locate a missing undercover courier. By this is no ordinary target. Ewen has met his prey before as Sister Genna, a fiery, forbidden woman forever etched in his memory after one stolen, sinful kiss.

Read more

THE BOOKTOPIA TOP TENS: Top Ten Tearjerkers

Sometimes we all feel like curling up with a cup of tea and having a bit of a weep. A book is the perfect answer for that kind of mood – you can experience an entire emotional rollercoaster in an evening without ever having to leave your couch.

Each of these books guarantees that combination of escapism and all the feels. There will be no graceful, one-tear-silently-slipping-down-the-cheek crying with these novels. Expect gut-wrenching, snotty, big fat ugly sobs. And whatever you do, do not, I repeat DO NOT begin any of them without a box of Kleenex (or five) by your side. You have been warned.

tumblr_mct8krYPFJ1rzdpc0o1_500

tumblr_mct8krYPFJ1rzdpc0o2_500


10) Elephant Songelephant-song

by Wilbur Smith

Animal stories tend to make for the best tearjerkers – it was hard to limit the list to one! Elephant Song does not disappoint. Perfect for a good, easy weep.

The rangers closed in, firing steadily. Within minutes all the adult animals were down. Only the calves still raced in bewildered circles, stumbling over the bodies of the dead and dying. Six minutes after the first shot, a silence fell over the killing ground on Long Vlei…

In the blinding light of Zimbabwe’s Chiwewe National Park, Dr Daniel Armstrong, world-famous TV naturalist, films the slaughter of a herd of elephant. In London, anthropologist Kelly Kinnear is forced into violent confrontation with the shareholders of the most powerful conglomerate in the City of London, warning them of the destruction of an African country.

Now the time has come to act. Together, Armstrong and Kinnear forge a passionate alliance – and begin the fight against the forces of greed, evil and corruption attacking a land they would both give their lives to save…

Click here for more details…


diary-of-anne-frank9) The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank

I don’t think anyone reads Anne Frank’s diary expecting any kind of happy ending, and indeed none exists. Most of the tragedy of this book comes from the knowledge that unlike the Notebook’s and the Never Let Me Go‘s of this list, Anne Frank’s story is entirely true.

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding.

For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period.

By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

Click here for more details…


8) The Bridge to Terabithiabridge-to-terabithia

by Katherine Paterson

The book that has made millions of Year Four children cry. Reading this book feels like holding your breath, as you know from the first moment that Jess and Leslie’s heart-breakingly innocent adventures in Terabithia cannot last. And when the tragedy strikes, you will weep. Hard.

Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest boy in the class. He’s been practising all summer and he’s sure he’s going to win. But when a girl named Leslie Burke moves into the neighbouring farm his life changes forever.

Not only does Leslie not look or act like any of the girls in school, she also turns out to be the fastest runner in the year. After getting over the humiliation of being beaten by a girl, Jess begins to think Leslie might be okay – she’s clever and funny and not a bit soppy. It is Leslie who invents Terabithia, the secret country on an island across the creek…

Click here for more details…


never-let-me-go7) Never Let Me Go

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Unlike most other tearjerkers, the desperation and tragedy in Never Let Me Go is a slow build. You won’t weep from beginning to end. It was only when I closed the book that I begun to cry. And when I did, it was no holds barred. Never Let Me Go is a tale of the futility of life and a loss of innocence which will stay with you for a very long time.

In one of the most acclaimed and strange novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England.

Narrated by Kathy, now 31, Never Let Me Go hauntingly dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School, and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world.

A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.

Click here for more details…


6) My Sister’s Keepermy-sister-s-keeper

by Jodie Piccoult

What could be sadder than a child suffering from cancer? A child conceived as life support for her sister suffering from cancer. Another one to avoid reading in public.

For as long as she can remember, Anna has known her purpose in life. She was conceived and raised by her parents to be a perfectly matched donor for her sister Kate, who has leukemia. Simple. How can she say no, when it’s a matter of life or death for Kate? But after thirteen years of hospital visits and painful medical procedures, under pressure to donate a kidney, Anna finally rebels.

This heartbreaking story of courage and self-sacrifice redefines right and wrong, and prompts the agonising questions: how far would you go to save the life of someone you love? And how much love is enough?

Click here for more details…


5) The Color Purplethe-color-purple

by Alice Walker

This book is by no means an easygoing read. The abuse Celie suffers during her life is hard to take, and guarantees almost continual tears. A really, really important novel.

Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to “Mister,” a brutal man who terrorizes her.

Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister’s letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.

Click here for more details…


the-notebook4) The Notebook

by Nicholas Sparks

Wept while watching The Notebook? Read the book that sparked the film that single-handedly boosted tissue sales across the United States. A Southern belle, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, a love that outlasts no other. What more could you ask for?

Set amid the austere beauty of the North Carolina coast, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner recently returned form the Second World War. Noah is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other.

Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories…until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again.Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just the beginning.

Click here for more details…


3) Tuesdays with Morrietuesdays-with-morrie

by Mitch Albom

For anyone who has had that special mentor, and for everyone else who wished that they had. This book is so beautiful, you can almost forgive it for totally breaking your heart.

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, the insights faded and the world seemed colder. Wouldn’t you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive the wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger? Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing his old mentor was dying, Mitch visited Morrie in his study. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final ‘class': lessons in how to live.

Click here for more details…


atonement2) Atonement

by Ian McEwan

Who could forget Atonement‘s heart-breaking ending? Briony Tallis mistakes Cecilia and Robbie’s relationship for something far more sinister, and sparks into motion a chain of events that end up destroying their lives. The last chapter of this novel will sit with you like a permanent lump in your throat.

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.

Click here for more details…


one-day1) One Day

by David Nicholls

Imagine the humour and sexual tension of Ross and Rachel’s will-they-won’t-they combined with the Breakfast Club’s poignant eighties angst. Now add a devastating twist that arrives just when you’re least expecting it, and you have One Day’s tragic punch. Do not read this in public, unless you are comfortable with being that slightly crazy sobbing lady at the back of the bus.

‘I can imagine you at forty,’ she said, a hint of malice in her voice. ‘I can picture it right now.’

He smiled without opening his eyes. ‘Go on then.’

15th July 1988. Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways.

So where will they be on this one day next year?

And the year after that? And every year that follows?

Twenty years, two people, ONE DAY.

Click here for more details…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,072 other followers

%d bloggers like this: