Read an extract from Will to Live by Matthew Ames – An inspirational must read

will-to-liveWill to Live

by Matthew Ames

I have always been intrigued by how things work. It’s a trait I’ve inherited or learned from Dad. I was his assistant growing up, and I’ve had a lot of practice thinking about how to put things

I have memories from when we lived in Sydney of holding tools and pieces of gyprock, and of Kate, Rachel and myself dressed in garbage bags with holes at the seams for our arms, helping Dad paint a new rumpus room he had built onto the back of our house.

By the time I was at high school, I was helping Dad renovate the old Queenslander he and Mum had bought when we moved to Brisbane. We were building a major extension, which involved lifting floors, altering rooflines and building a back deck. Dad and I would hang from the roof, working hard, occasionally looking into the lounge room where we could see the girls sitting around drinking coffee with friends who might have dropped in.

I had been free labour until, one afternoon, I mentioned to Dad that I thought it was unfair that my sisters didn’t have to help – although I knew they had been part of Dad’s construction crew when they were younger and less sociable. Dad agreed, and from that point I earned pocket money for the hours I helped him with the house. I was only 13 or so at the time, but a few years later, I had saved up some money.

Grab a copy of Will to Live here

I needed a car. I had been driving Kate’s Mazda 1500 while she was overseas for a few years, but she had returned and swiftly repossessed it.

Matthew AmesRachel had a 1960 Hillman Minx that she wanted to sell. It had a column shift, white leather seats and was ember red with white wings. It was part of the family, and we called it Harriet (the Chariot). It had a rumble in the engine that meant you could hear it coming from blocks away, and I was interested. It wasn’t worth much to anyone else, and was costing Rachel a fortune, so for $50 she agreed it could be mine.

The engine was having problems, so I decided to buy a manual, strip the engine and rebuild it. People asked me why, but my response was, ‘Why not?’

I took it apart under our house, labelled each piece, and laid them all out on the concrete floor in the garage area. I recognise now how patient my parents must have been to give up the entire area where the cars normally parked for the duration of my project.

Piece by piece, I put the engine back together. I thought I had followed the instructions perfectly, but at the very end, I had a few extra nuts and bolts left over. It didn’t surprise me then that it almost worked when I started it up. I didn’t want to have to take the car apart again, so I called the RACQ for help, telling them my car wouldn’t start.

985141-9716bb5e-d484-11e2-b1c3-c244da926effThe RACQ mechanic turned up. He took one look at the car, and one look at me.

‘You’ve been rebuilding the engine, haven’t you?’ He looked me in the eye. I thought for a moment about my response, but decided to confess. ‘Yep. I couldn’t quite work out how to put the distributor back in properly again.’

The mechanic paused, and looked at the car.

‘We’re not supposed to do this, but I haven’t seen one of these for ages.’

He spent around three hours helping me with the final touches of the rebuild and we got the car going. It worked well.

I guess I just never envisaged a day when bolts and nuts would stick out of my arms and legs. Fortunately, there are people as experienced as that RACQ mechanic looking after me.

Grab a copy of Will to Live here

Congratulations to our lucky Facebook competition winners! They are Sandi Giles, Birgitta Norberg, Anita Bird, Ashley Louise and Emily Snowden. Please email your details to

Remember to like our Facebook page to keep up to date with the latest book news and the chance to win prizes and giveaways!

Karl Stefanovic meets The Incompetent Cook

Grab a copy of Karl Cooks here

Karl Cooks

by Karl Stefanovic

From the co-host of Australia’s popular Today show comes this easy to use cookbook full of delicious recipes for any Aussie home chef that wants to be able to eat like Karl.

Whether you’re planning a weekend with mates, looking to spoil your lady friend or need a no-fuss breakfast to ease your hangover – Karl Cooks has a recipe for every occasion. Let Karl show you how to create a mouth-watering roast or stack a juicy burger, with illustrated steps and handy hints to make the cooking process as painless as possible. Become a hero in your kitchen and impress the missus with this collection of delicious, easy-to-use recipes.

This is the how-to manual you can’t do without. Royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to police legacy charities.

About the Author

Karl Stefanovic is co-host of Channel 9’s Today show, a contributor to current affairs program 60 Minutes and a former 5-year-old BMX champion. He lives in Sydney with his wife and kids.

Grab a copy of Karl Cooks here

NEWS: Bryce Courtenay’s The Silver Moon announcement

the silver moonThe Silver Moon:
Reflections on Life, Death and Writing

by Bryce Courtenay

Each of us has a place to return to in our minds, a place of clarity and peace, a place to think, to create, to dream. For Bryce Courtenay it was a waterhole in Africa he used to escape to as a boy for solitude. One evening, while hiding there, he witnessed the tallest of the great beasts drinking from the waterhole in the moonlight, and was spellbound. Ever since, he drew inspiration from this moment.

The Silver Moon gathers together some of the most personal and sustaining life-lessons from Australia’s favourite storyteller. In short stories and insights, many written in his final months, Bryce reflects on living and dying, and how through determination, respect for others and taking pleasure in small moments of joy, he tried to make the most out of life.

From practical advice on how to write a bestseller to general inspiration on how to realise your dreams, The Silver Moon celebrates Bryce Courtenay’s lifelong passion for storytelling, language and the creative process, and brings us closer to the man behind the bestsellers.

Click here for more information or to buy


About the Author

Bryce Courtenay was born in South Africa and has lived in Sydney for the major part of his life. He is the bestselling author of The Power of One, April Fool’s Day, The Potato Factory, Tommo & Hawk, Jessica, Solomon’s Song, Smoky Joe’s Cafe, Four Fires, Whitethorn and Brother Fish.

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

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

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

And the lucky winners are…

S.Costin, Limpinwood, NSW

R.Davino, Merrylands, NSW

B.Hill, Cheltenham, NSW


big-little-liesBig Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty

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

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

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

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

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

Grab a copy of Big Little Lies here

Grab a copy of Big Little Lies here

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

Karina Machado, author of Love Never Dies, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Karina Machado

author of Love Never Dies, Spirit Sisters and Where Spirits Dwell

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 Uruguay (but am the non-bitey type). My family left our little country when I was two and the choice was between Australia and Canada. I think the brochures for Australia were prettiest, so we ended up here. After a short stint at the Endeavour Hostel for Migrants in Sydney’s Coogee (now the site of luxury housing) we settled in nearby Eastlakes, where I went to primary school. Later, I attended J.J. Cahill Memorial High School in Mascot, reputedly the toughest school around. Luckily, we had a great year and inspiring teachers (hi Mrs Slattery and Mr Johnson!) and I never even came close to getting my head flushed down the loo.

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

12: A writer. I’d realised by age 4 that I was in love with words and stories. When I was in year 3 I wrote a poem called The Hungry Sea that Miss Griffin pinned up on the classroom wall, so this seemed to confirm that I was on the right path.

18: A magazine editor. Ok, so I still wanted to write books, but by now I’d worked out that I would need to sustain myself somehow until that dream came to fruition, so I figured that a job in magazines would be the best way to do this, without hindering the original dream. I’d grown up on Smash Hits and Dolly and may have thought that being the ed of a mag would be all pop stars and hilarity. Of course, after two decades in magazines (give or take a few to have babies and try freelancing) I’ve realised that I couldn’t have been more mistaken! I tip my hat every day to the ed of Who, where I work; being the editor of a magazine is a 24-hour gig. We do laugh a lot though, at least I was right there.

30: An author: I’d just had my second child, just 18 months after the first. He was born the day before September 11 and the world beneath my feet seemed to be cracking. I’d taken a voluntary redundancy from work to look after my babies, but clearly remember staring longingly at my bookshelves during night feeds. The sight of them cut through the mind-numbing exhaustion and fears about the state of the world. I didn’t have time to read the books, but just looking at them, knowing I’d get back to them one day, offered a measure of comfort and peace. It reminded me of my original passion for books, and of how, one day, I hoped I too could bring hope and solace to readers through writing a book of my own.

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

Author Karina Machado

I was very hard on myself, especially in thinking I had to look and be a certain way. I look back on photos now and think, ‘What did you have to complain about??’ I was also a bit ashamed of my quiet nature, thinking I had to be another way, especially if I wanted to be a journalist. Now I know that being quiet and non-intimidating can be a big plus in journalism: it allows people’s stories to just pour into me.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

1: Golden Books. I was probably 2 when I first got one, not long after we arrived from Uruguay, and maybe 4 when I taught myself to read them. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love stories. My mum is a wonderful writer and poet, and I’m certain that I inherited her love of words … but if I had to pinpoint a time when I can first recall books in my life, it was Golden Books. Looking back, I was an immigrant child who’d lost her entire large extended family in one fell swoop. I think books filled the void, in a way. I learned to associate them with love and comfort, and never wanted to be far from them. That’s still the case today.

2: When I was about 7, my mum shared with me some experiences that she’d had as a young woman growing up in Uruguay. These experiences were instances of precognition, of sensing the future, specifically, the imminent deaths of loved ones. These stories opened me to the possibility that there was more to life than what we see and know, that mysteries abound. I found this exciting! It spoke of hope… it also taught me about the power of storytelling.

3. Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende: I was in my late teens or early 20s when I first tackled García Márquez. I was stunned, winded, by his novels—his dexterity of language, his breadth of imagination, the sheer beauty of his words. He left an imprint on my heart, as did Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits a little later on. Both huge influences on my work. Many years later, I was lucky enough to interview Isabel Allende as part of my job as the books editor at Who magazine. I found her a kindred spirit—like me, tiny and overly fond of makeup!

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

Not at all, see above! To me, books spell comfort, healing, joy and love, I can’t see how they’ll ever be obsolete.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Love Never Dies is a celebration of love that transcends death. It is full of stories of everyday Australians who’ve had an experience of sensing the spirit of someone they’ve loved and lost. It is my third book on the subject of life after death, and the seed for this one was planted in my earlier books. Those were a broader look at paranormal experiences, but each also contained a chapter about people who’d sensed the spirit of a loved one. I was struck by how powerful these experiences were, how they changed the outlook of the beraved person—the experiences were life-changing, and, in some cases, life-saving—and decided that I would love to dedicate an entire book to these kinds of stories.

Grab a copy of Karina’s latest book Love Never Dies here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

If my work could inspire people to appreciate the loved ones in their lives while they’re with them, that would be wonderful. Beyond that, if my work could encourage people to be kinder, not only in their dealings with precious people around them but also with other people in the community, from neighbours to the Lollipop Lady, I’d be a happy writer. I’m with the Dalai Lama when he says: “My religion is kindness.”

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

This is very difficult! It is a long list and it’s growing (a good thing, no?). I’ll have to cheat and tell you about two people who are on it today: first, a lady I saw on Dateline, who puts her safety on the line every day to run a school for the impoverished children of Brazil’s favelas. My heart was bursting watching that. I’m passionate about children’s literacy but she’s actually out there, making it happen in her third-world country, just over the border from the third-world country I was born in. Something to aspire to. The other person who’s on my list today is my daughter, Jasmin. She’s 14 and has just brought home the most outstanding report! I’m so proud of how hard she works for her results. She inspires me everyday to just put my head down and get the job done, no complaints.

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

I would like to try my hand at fiction … other than that, my goals involve helping others. I’d like to find a way to encourage children to read and be passionate about books, because that opens the door to a brighter future.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

I will not be the first writer to say this, but, ‘Be true to yourself.’ Follow that gut instinct that tells you you’re on the trail of a good story, the right thing for you to commit to the page. And don’t worry if you’re that teenager who loves reading and writing but hates drawing attention to yourself and would rather sneak under the radar at every opportunity. I’m here to tell you it won’t always be that way. Some day, you’ll be happy to get up and tell a lot of people about your work, stories you’ve gathered because your kind face and quiet demeanour allowed subjects to pour their stories into you, without fear.

Karina, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Love Never Dies here

Love Never Dies

by Karina Machado

“Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.” – Emily Dickinson

This is a book about the indestructibility of love. Journalist and author Karina Machado spoke to over 60 Australians with stories of post-death contact. She shares their life-shattering experience of loss, and shows how their spiritual contact with a deceased lover, friend or family member brought peace, hope and the solace of knowing that their connection lives on.

There is the story of a teenage boy who appears in bodily form on the eve of his funeral to bring comfort to his sister. A young husband returns to his widow in time to prevent another tragedy. A grandmother arrives to lovingly care for the infant children of her grief-stricken daughter. A man soothes his heartbroken brother with an otherworldly embrace.

Written with grace and compassion, Love Never Dies is as much about the power of loving relationships as it is the phenomenon of the survival of consciousness beyond death.

 Grab a copy of Love Never Dies here

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Dr Xanthe Mallett talks to John Purcell about her new book Mothers Who Murder

Dr Xanthe Mallett is like Bones, except real and far more interesting. She sat down with John Purcell to talk about her new book Mothers Who Murder.

Grab a copy of Mothers Who Murder here

Mothers Who Murder

by Xanthe Mallett

For a limited time get a signed copy!

Child murder: A social taboo and one of the most abhorrent acts most of us can imagine. Meet the women found guilty of murdering their own children. They represent some of the most hated women in Australia. The infamous list includes psychologically damaged, sometimes deranged, women on the edge. But, as we will see, accused doesn’t always mean guilty.

Among the cases covered is that of Kathleen Folbigg, accused and found guilty of killing four of her children, even with a lack of any forensic evidence proving her guilt; Rachel Pfitzner, who strangled her 2-year-old son and dumped his body in a duck pond; as well as Keli Lane, found guilty of child murder though no body has ever been found.

Dr Mallett goes back to the beginning of each case; death’s ground zero. That might be the accused’s childhood, were they abused? Or was their motivation greed, or fear of losing a partner? Were they just simply evil? Or did the media paint them as such, against the evidence and leading to a travesty of justice.

Each case will be re-opened, the alternative suspects assessed, the possible motives reviewed. Informed by her background as a forensic scientist, Xanthe will offer insight into aspects of the cases that may not have been explored previously. Taking you on her journey through the facts, and reaching her own conclusion as to whether she believes the evidence points to the women’s guilt.

Grab a copy of Mothers Who Murder here

Booktopia’s Picks of the Month for August

The year is heating up!

Not the temperature of course, it’s still ridiculously cold in most parts of the country, but the hearts of book lovers everything are beating a little faster as we start to see some huge names released this month to flex their literary muscles.

This collection of must-read August authors have sold over 100 million books worldwide and between them have been included in five Miles Franklin shortlists, three Man Booker shortlists, amassing three Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for Fiction, two Irish Children’s Book Awards, a Commonwealth Writers Prize, the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, the Parker Romantic Novel of the Year award, the Golden Medal of Galicia and a Gold Logie.

Not a bad August eh?

colorless-tsukuru-tazaki-and-his-years-of-pilgrimageColorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

by Haruki Murakami

The new novel–a book that sold more than a million copies the first week it went on sale in Japan–from the internationally acclaimed author, his first since 1Q84

In high school, Tsukuru Tazaki belonged to an extremely tight-knit group of friends who pledged to stay together forever. But when Tsukuru returns home from his first year of college in Tokyo, he finds that they want nothing to do with him. Something has changed, but nobody will tell him what – and he never sees them again.

Years later, Tsukuru has become a successful engineer, but is also something of more…

Click here for more details

this-house-of-griefThis House of Grief

by Helen Garner

Anyone can see the place where the children died. You take the Princes Highway past Geelong, and keep going west in the direction of Colac. Late in August 2006, soon after I had watched a magistrate commit Robert Farquharson to stand trial before a jury on three charges of murder, I headed out that way on a Sunday morning, across the great volcanic plain.

On the evening of 4 September 2005, Father’s Day, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother, Cindy, when his car left the road and plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven and two, drowned. Was this an act of revenge or more…

Click here for more details

golden-boysGolden Boys

by Sonya Hartnett

Sonya Hartnett’s third novel for adults is perfectly formed and utterly compelling, an unflinching and disquieting work from one of Australia’s finest writers.

Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian live in a world of shiny, new things – skateboards, slot cars, train sets and even the latest BMX. Their affluent father, Rex, has made sure that they’ll be the envy of the new, working-class suburb they’ve moved to. But underneath the surface of the perfect family, is there something unsettling about the Jensons? To the local kids, Rex becomes a kind of hero, but Colt senses there’s something in his father that could destroy their fragile new lives.

Click here for more details


by Paulo Coelho

The thought-provoking new novel from the international bestselling author whose words change lives.

This is Linda’s story.

She’s lucky. She knows that.

It’s what makes being unhappy even worse.

Her friends advise taking medication. But Linda wants to feel more, not less.

A meeting with a politician, and ex-boyfriend, reawakens a side of her that she – respectable wife, devoted mother and more…

Click here for more details

when-the-night-comesWhen the Night Comes

by Favel Parrett

The hauntingly beautiful story of a young girl transformed by the power of kindness from award-winning author Favel Parrett.

Running away from the mainland was supposed to make their lives better. But, for Isla and her brother, their mother’s sadness and the cold, damp greyness of Hobart’s stone streets seeps into everything.

Then, one morning, Isla sees a red ship. That colour lights her day. And when a sailor from the ship befriends her mother, he shares his stories with them all – of Antarctica, his home in Denmark and more…

Click here for more details

the-paying-guestsThe Paying Guests

by Sarah Waters

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned, the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa, a large silent house now bereft of brothers, husband and even servants, life is about to be transformed, as impoverished widow Mrs Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.

For with the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the ‘clerk class’, the routines of the house will be shaken up in more…

Click here for more details

karl-cooks-be-a-legend-with-these-easy-no-fuss-recipes-with-free-stubby-holder-Karl Cooks

by Karl Stefanovic

*For a limited time only, pre-order Karl Cooks and you will also receive a free stubby holder.(*Offer available while stocks last).

From the co-host of Australia’s popular Today show comes this easy to use cookbook full of delicious recipes for any Aussie home chef that wants to be able to eat like Karl.

Whether you’re planning a weekend with mates, looking to spoil your lady friend or need a no-fuss breakfast to ease your hangover – Karl Cooks has a recipe for every occasion. Let Karl show you how to create a mouth-watering roast or stack a juicy burger, with more…

Click here for more details

where-is-daniel-Where is Daniel?

by Bruce Morcombe, Denise Morcombe, Lindsay Simpson

A percentage of the sales from the book will go to the Daniel Morcombe Foundation.

On 7 December 2003 Daniel Morcombe disappeared on the Sunshine Coast, while waiting for a bus. For Bruce and Denise Morcombe – the parents of Daniel – and his brothers, Bradley and Dean, it was apparent within hours that something was very wrong. In the first few days following Daniels disappearance, Bruce and Denise made a promise to their son that they would never ever stop looking for him, and bring who was responsible to justice.

We will never give up. As the nightmare of hours became days then weeks, and months and years, the family mobilised to become the moral force behind more…

Click here for more details

Lorien Legacies: The Revenge of 7

by Lore Pittacus

The Garde have suffered the ultimate betrayal: Number Five has allied himself with the Mogadorians, killing Eight and helping the Mogs to abduct Ella from the safe house. Now the fight for Earth’s survival has just become that much more impossible.

The Garde may not have time to mourn their fallen ally, but they’ll make sure to avenge him. And help is at hand from the most unlikely of sources: Adam, a Mogadorian, has turned his back on his people. He might just be their lifeline, but are the Garde repeating past mistakes by putting their trust in him?

Click here for more details

the-king-s-curseThe King’s Curse

by Philippa Gregory

From the bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl and The White Princess comes the riveting story of Margaret Pole, daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, and was one of the few surviving members of the Plantagenet dynasty after the Wars of the Roses. Plantagenet, once carried proudly by Margaret like a crown upon her head, is now, at the end of the 15th century, the most dangerous name in England…

Click here for more details

the-imaginary-world-of-The Imaginary World of…

by Keri Smith

‘What kind of world would you like to inhabit?’ Here, Keri Smith begins with a list. Writing down everything the reader is drawn to, from things they love or collect to things that fascinate and excite, including objects, colours, sounds, textures, memories, places and people, the list serves as the building block for the creation of a new world. This world is based entirely on who the reader is as an individual, and as such is completely unique.

Prompted to think about landscape, place names, maps, currency and more Keri Smith encourages everyone to push their imaginations to the limit.

Click here for more details

Skulduggery Pleasant: The Dying of the Light

by Derek Landy

The FINAL shocking, heart-wrenching book in the jaw-droppingly stupendous Skulduggery Pleasant series.

Valkerie. Darquesse. Stephanie. The world ain’t big enough for the three of them. The end will come…

The War of the Sanctuaries has been won, but it was not without its casualties. Following the loss of Valkyrie Cain, Skulduggery Pleasant must use any and all means to track down and stop more…

Click here for more details

5The Last Thirteen: 5

by James Phelan

Sam heads to Japan with Tobias to meet the next Dreamer, a famous professional gamer. While at a tournament in Tokyo, Stella arrives forcing Sam and Dreamer number nine to take extreme evasive action. As ever, Solaris is on the scene in a flash…

Meanwhile, Alex and Shiva are captive in Shiva’s New York apartment after being fitted with wrist bombs that will detonate if they attempt to escape, and Eva learns how participating in the Four Corners competition will help discover Solaris’s location, and where he is keeping the Gears he has stolen from them. Sam must find the last 13. Our fate lies with them alone.

Click here for more details

lego-architecture-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-Lego Architecture

by Dorling Kindersley

Pre-order a copy of LEGO Architecture the Visual Guide by August 26th and you could win 1 of 10 copies of LEGO Minifigure Year by Year! (*Ts & Cs apply)

Iconic buildings re-imagined in LEGO® bricks

LEGO® Architecture: The Visual Guide is a stunning guide to the LEGO Architecture series and to the iconic buildings that inspired it.

Celebrate the past, present and future of more…

Click here for more details


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