THE BOOKTOPIA TOP TENS: Top Ten Most Romantic Novels Ever

HeartCurious about which rogue is most full of rascal, which heroine the sharpest, which love scene the steamiest?

Booktopia’s romance guru Haylee Nash rates the Top Ten Most Romantic Novels ever written.

From Mr. Darcy to Noah Calhoun, our Top Ten covers unmissable classics and contemporary hits.

Think the list is spot on? Or did we miss a crucial novel (too few Scottish highlanders)? Let us know what you think and your Top Tens in the comments bellow!

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Meg Cabot, author of The Bride Wore Size 12, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Meg Cabot

author of The Bride Wore Size 12

Ten Terrifying Questions

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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 educated in Bloomington, Indiana, known world wide as the “Gateway to Scenic Southern Indiana.” Continue reading

2013 In Review: Top Ten Cheesiest Romance Covers

Booktopia’s romance specialist Haylee Nash saunters through the visual menagerie that was this year’s romance novel covers, and chooses some of her favourite – worst – covers.

This gorgeous midnight blue silhouette reminds me of a Nineties ad for Impulse…or AntzPantz (sick ‘em, Rex!) Continue reading

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

Anna Romer, author of Thornwood House, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Anna Romer

author of Thornwood House

Ten Terrifying Questions

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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 Sydney, and spent much of my childhood in the gorgeous little village of Sawtell on the NSW north coast. I grew up in Queanbeyan where we lived in a wonderful house (complete with secret rooms and passageways) on the edge of town.

2. What did you want to be when you were 12, 18 and 30? And why?

At twelve I wanted to be a vet. When I was a kid Granny used to read me books about ‘animal doctors’ in Africa, and I was always daydreaming about having a pet lion and rescuing elephants from poachers. By eighteen I had decided to be an artist – which was again inspired by Granny as she was a wonderful painter and I thought the world of her. When I got to thirty, my lifelong reading obsession had evolved into a yearning to write stories of my own.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at 18 that you do not have now?

At eighteen I believed very strongly in my own limitations. I thought that if you weren’t born with a particular talent, then too bad! Now I believe that if you set your heart and mind to what you want, and resolutely close your ears to negativity (both your own and that of others) – then you will definitely succeed.

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?

1) The poem Kublai Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I loved this mysterious poem about a ‘stately pleasure dome’ (whatever that was!), and was intrigued to learn it had been inspired by an opium dream. I did a painting of it once, and still carry the image in my mind of an idyllic palace hidden in the hills near a river (a bit like where I live now, except in a bungalow instead of a palace). The undercurrent of threat I perceived in the poem stayed with me all my life, and one of my favourite themes to explore even today is the concept of menace lurking unseen beneath a beautiful facade.

2) Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. As a teenager I identified with the poor monster – so misunderstood, so alone! I was always drawn to stories of darkness and mystery, and this book’s themes – relationships and loss, death and the frailty of life, and our emotional connection to the natural world – all really resonated with me. I can still pick up this gothic masterpiece today and find within its pages the echoes of themes I’m exploring now in my own novels.

3) Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. I loved this story for its untameable passions and wild windswept setting, and for the notion that love is not always rosy and goodhearted, but can also be cruel and self-serving. My teenage enthrallment with this novel probably explains why I’m still so drawn to explore obsession and other dark interpretations of love.

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

Even when painting was my main creative outlet, I was still telling stories. My pictures were full of images I’d brazenly stolen from one fairytale or another – modern Rapunzels trailing their long hair through windows, or sleeping beauties clutching books, or white rabbits darting through shadowy landscapes. Eventually I came to realise that no matter how many stories I depicted, I was only ever scratching the surface of the more complex tale I wanted to tell. Writing a novel has allowed me to dig deeper and explore the story from all angles and through many layers, as well as delving deeply into the psyches of my characters.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Thornwood House is set in rural Queensland, in the fictional town of Magpie Creek. Audrey has inherited a beautiful old homestead where she finds, in a dusty back room, the photo of a handsome World War Two serviceman. She quickly becomes obsessed with him, only to learn that he was accused of murdering a young woman on his return from war.

Driven by her unwillingness to live in the shadow of a murderer, Audrey goes on a quest to understand what really happened that night in 1946. Her fixation with the past stirs up trouble, and she soon realises she’s given the killer good reason to come after her.

Click here to buy Thornwood House from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

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

My favourite stories are the ones that leave me pondering and savouring the journey they’ve just taken me on; sometimes there’s even a sense of wonder and revelation and renewed excitement about life. I guess that’s the kind of enjoyment I’d really love readers to take away from my stories.

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

I’m a devoted fan of Australian fiction; there are so many wonderful home grown authors and I love the freshness and originality of the Australian voice. . . so I’d have to say the person I admire most is my agent Selwa Anthony. She’s a champion for Australian authors and is tireless, fearless, and dedicated. She stuck by me for 10 years, had faith in me (despite the avalanche of rejection letters I got), and always gave me the wisest advice. She knows when to be tough, and when to be kind (both of which I’ve experienced over the years!), and I admire her greatly.

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

Seeing as it took me more than a decade to get published, I’ve got a swag of embryonic novels that I’m itching to write. If I could write a novel every year, while continuing to improve my storytelling skills, then I’d be a very happy little camper indeed.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Find a theme that gives you the tingles: Reincarnation, forbidden love, sacrifice, a life burdened by guilt etc. Explore this theme by collecting images and newspaper articles that grab you, watching movies, reading. Keep following the trail of your excitement and fascination, keep listening and watching and exploring. . .and pretty soon your story will surface. Then just go for it – immerse yourself, enjoy the process, and write what you love.

Joseph Campbell said, ‘Follow your bliss,’ and that’s probably the best advice for life as well as for art.

Anna, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Thornwood House from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

2013 Romance Writers of Australia Conference: Top 10 moments

Recently our Romance Specialist Haylee Nash flew the flag for Booktopia at the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Fremantle. These are her stories.

dancing up a stormFor those of you who have never been to a Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) Conference, or indeed any kind of romance conference, let me paint you a picture. Imagine a modestly sized room, filled with women. Hundreds of women. Each of these women are writers, romance writers, who spend their day behind a computer (if they’re lucky enough to be able to live from their writing) and in the rest of society are often derided for writing “those books”. So it’s fair to say that these women don’t often get the pleasure of speaking about romance, certainly not with fellow enthusiasts. Now to this joyous scene add oodles of champagne, a nautical theme and a conference venue that  is far enough away from most attendees to require staying at the hotel, sans husbands, significant others, kids, pets or any other responsibilities. Into this melee I walked, and, rather than wincing at the noise and leavig, I grabbed a champagne and, with stupidly big grin on my face, entered the fray. Continue reading

Banish by Nicola Marsh: A Review by Sarah McDuling

banishBanish really surprised me.

When I pick up a Paranormal Romance these days, especially in the Young Adult genre, I automatically brace myself for a barrage of tropes and clichés.

1) Average human girl meets brooding immortal boy – cue Love At First Sight.

2) Requisite villain does something villainous (at which point, I usually start yawning and skipping pages).

3) Happy ending.

The details may vary slightly. Sometimes the brooding immortal boy is a vampire. Sometimes he’s a werewolf, or a fallen angel or a fairy prince. But the basic formula never really changes.

Now maybe it sounds like I’m complaining. And maybe it sounds that way because I am complaining. The truth is, I’m sick to death of reading the same story over and over again, so when I come across an author who breaks away from all the predictable stereotypes, that’s when I reach for my metaphorical pom-poms and start cheering.

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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…Bronwyn Parry

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 author of rural romantic suspense Bronwyn Parry to the stage.

1. Describe the perfect date.
A day wandering around rural back roads with my husband; morning tea from the picnic basket, maybe lunch in a country cafe or a country pub, some gentle walking in a National Park – what could be better? Continue reading

RWA’s 2013 Romantic Book of the Year finalists announced

Congratulations to the R*BY finalists!rby

For all of those not in the know, every year the brilliant women (and a few supporting men) at the Romance Writers of Australia award the best of romance written by Australian and New Zealand authors. Much like the Academy Awards, these awards are highly desired, and the awards ceremony has its fair share of glamour, champagne and the occasional (happy) tears. Oh, and like the Academy Awards, the Romantic Book of the Year awards have a nickname too – the ‘Rubies’.

Below are the finalists for the RWA’s Romantic Book of the Year competition: Continue reading

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