Who is this Aquaman person and why should I care?

Guest Blogger Jeremy Vine dips his toe into the story of Aquaman and the news of Aquaman: The Movie

You might have seen some of the movie news recently – that Aquaman is getting his own film in 2018 (following Batman v Superman, Justice League and Wonder Woman). You may also be wondering why the guy that talks to fish is getting his own superhero movie. Well, Aquaman’s a little different to what you might think he is.

You see, there have been a number of different versions of Aquaman. There’s the original version way back in the Golden Age of Comics, who didn’t really have superpowers but was able to stay under water for long periods thanks to SCIENCE! During the Silver Age in the 1970s, Aquaman could be found battling undersea menaces with the help of his ocean friends. This is probably the version that people remember – the one that can’t go for more than an hour without needing to return to the water. Later, he became a grittier anti-hero with a harpoon in place of one of his hands. But still, the most common vision of Aquaman is the one from the Silver Age, using his telepathic powers to summon seahorses. All of that is about to change.

aquaman-volume-1-the-trenchThe most recent version was being written by Geoff Johns, who has delivered a fantastic new imagining of the character. Aquaman (or more accurately, Arthur Curry) is an Atlantean prince raised by his human father in a lighthouse on the coast. The first book, Aquaman vol. 1: The Trench is far from the standard superhero adventure. Gone are the criminals, superpowered or otherwise. Instead, Aquaman faces creatures from the darkest depths of the ocean, monsters from before civilisation that have come ashore searching for fresh food and people seem like the best thing on the menu. Tracking them back to their lair, he discovers something that threatens Atlantis itself.

Johns has re-imagined Aquaman as a princely warrior, one that battles horrors more at home in H.P. Lovecraft than a superhero comic. As the series continues, Aquaman is forced to make a decision between his Atlantean heritage and the humans he has chosen to protect, as demons from his past return. Johns has made what could just be another standard superhero book into an epic saga of betrayal, murder and revenge.

All of this has paved the way for the new Aquaman film featuring Jason Momoa. The initial promotional images for the character show a very different style again. The best word to describe Momoa is fierce. There’s no doubt that the new film is going to increase the popularity of this long time character, so now’s the best time to catch up on the latest incarnation. There are currently five books in the Aquaman series, and two in the spin off series, Aquaman and the Others.

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Jeremy Vine has been hooked on comics since he taught himself to read with the help of Asterix and Tintin. When not dressing up in costumes and attending pop culture conventions, he is an account manager for Penguin Random House Australia.

More of his thoughts on comics and superheroes in general can be found on the Comics Watchtower Facebook page or at his Twitter account @salesreplyfe

Nine Naughty Questions with… Elizabeth Lowell, author of Perfect Touch

perfect-touchThe Booktopia Book Guru asks

Elizabeth Lowell

author of Perfect Touch and many more…

Nine Naughty Questions
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1. Headless washboard abs, a torrid embrace, the sprawling homestead, an elegantly dressed décolletage, or the vaguely kinky object against a dark background – what’s your favourite type of romance cover and why?

Depends on what I’m reading. If I’m looking for paranormal romance, a well-built man gets me every time. Sprawling homesteads would tell me “historical, western.” Low necklines usually mean Regency. Kinky…well, there’s a whole universe of possibilities there!

2. What is the secret life of a romance writer? What goes on between you and your keyboard (or quill) behind closed doors?

I’d love to tell you something salacious. I’d be lying. It’s write, write, write.

Author: Elizabeth Lowell

Author: Elizabeth Lowell

3. At the heart of a romantic story is the way in which the main characters reveal their true natures to each other. How much of yourself do you put into your characters, and have their stories been affected by your personal experiences?

It’s impossible to divorce myself completely from my heroine. Or the hero, for that matter. Neither will do something I find revolting. Bad guys, now, that’s different! It’s safe to say I haven’t done nearly all the things I’ve written.

4. I’m interested in how you differentiate between romance fiction, erotica and porn. Are romance readers getting naughtier?

Romance can be sweet or racy. Erotica must be racy to OMG, can people really do/enjoy that? I haven’t read porn, so I can’t comment. Yes, many romance readers today want lots of sex. And many want less sex and more plot. It’s up to the author to write what she herself enjoys and let the book find its natural audience.

perfect-touch5. Please tell us about your latest novel! Did you have a secret alternative title while you were writing it?

No secret titles of the printable kind. When I’m in a slow patch, I tend to call my book all kinds of things. Perfect Touch is about a man and a woman who meet and fall in really inconvenient lust. It’s inconvenient, because they’re wrong for each other and people are trying to kill them.

Grab a copy of Perfect Touch here

6. What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve received after a friend or family member read one of your books?

MORE!

7. Romance writers are sometimes denigrated and asked when they’ll write ‘real’ books – what do you tell the haters?

Romances of all kinds have their roots in myth, not modernism. Romances show readers possibilities and strength, rather than limitations and despair. I write for people who lead demanding lives and want a place of peace and pleasure in their books. I don’t write to teach people about despair; my readers already have a very good idea of what reality is like.

8. Romance readers love discovering new authors. Please tell us about five books you recently read and loved to bits.

I tend to go with authors than with titles. I’ll read anything by Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Jayne Castle, Amanda Quick) Nalini Singh, Jill Shalvis, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and J.D. Robb. You’re not going to get a stinker written by any of these authors! Then there’s always Lora Leigh, Lara Adrian, Kresley Cole… It’d be easier to type up the contents of my Kindle. :)

9. Please tell us your favourite scene from your latest book, and why it’s particularly delicious!

The first time Sara and Jay make love is my favorite. All the little—and big ;)—things they learn about each other, their laughter, their teasing, the discovery of a lover who is truly satisfying. And then the realization that whatever they have can’t last, because they both want such different things from life. At least, they think they do.

Elizabeth, thank you for playing.


Perfect Touchperfect-touch

by Elizabeth Lowell

The New York Times bestselling queen of romantic suspense returns with a heart-racing tale in which a former soldier turned rancher and a beautiful designer race to stop a vicious killer—a battle for survival that threatens to explode in an intense and irresistible passion.

An art dealer and owner of her own design studio, Perfect Touch, Sara Medina travels the world to find the ideal artwork for her clients. Her sophisticated, comfortable life in San Francisco is light years away from the poverty of her family’s dairy farm, and Sara will do whatever it takes to keep her business strong. A dedicated urban career woman focused on her work, she doesn’t have time or energy for a family or distracting romantic entanglements.

Jay Vermillion recently inherited Vermillion Sky, a working ranch near Wyoming’s breathtaking Grand Teton Mountains—and the estates of the rich and more…

Grab a copy of Perfect Touch here

5 reasons you should check out our Christmas in July Sale

ChristmasInJuly_NewsletterBanner-616x150px1. Because books. Right?

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You know that time when there’s nothing to do and you’re bored out of your mind.

Yeah, neither do we.

2. You’ll thank yourself in December

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Think of that awkward cousin who invites themselves to Christmas lunch last minute. Or that weird co-worker who smells of onions who gets you a present on the last day of work for the year. Or the Secret Santa that you forgot about.

Buy up big while the prices are this ridiculous (over 10,000 titles for less than $10), and you’ll thank yourself when the silly season rolls around in a few months.

3. You can never have too many books

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Plug those gaps in your shelves, fill your draws, have a pile sitting on the floor in your living room like you’re a 1950s playwright. You have room for more books, TRUST US!

4. A truckload of kids books

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It’s always nice to treat the little ones to a gorgeous masterpiece, but that shouldn’t mean that you should spend the big bucks on every kids book. With nearly 5,000 kids titles for less than $5, get some easy winners for the kids to keep them on their toes during story time.

5. It ends really soon

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July is nearly over, which mean Christmas in July is nearly over!

You only have a few days left to snap up a huge bargain, with most prices never to be repeated.

So, what are you waiting for? Get to it!

ChristmasInJuly_NewsletterBanner-616x150pxClick here to check out our Christmas in July Sale!

Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar is Caroline Baum’s Book of the Month

salt-creekBooktopia’s Editorial Director, Caroline Baum reviews Lucy Treloar’s Salt Creek which features in The Buzz as Caroline’s Book of the Month.

If, like me, you thought you did not need another story about hardship in colonial Australia, with the TV adaptation of The Secret River fresh in your mind, think again: Lucy Treloar’s intensely dramatic saga of the downfall of a family settled on the edge of the Coorong is a welcome and fresh take on the well-trodden territory of narratives of colonial hardship.

First of all, she captures the little known beauty of that remote watery place perfectly. Her ability to conjure up its landscape, once shared with the local Ngarrindjeri Aborigines, is a reminder that it is a hard place to farm now, just as it was then. Secondly, the story she tells is utterly compelling and almost mythic, such are the powerful forces unleashed on the family of misguided pastor Finch as told by his endlessly forbearing daughter Hester.

When light skinned Aboriginal boy Tull befriends the Finch family, he is welcomed into their home to share their meals and conversations. But while curious about white culture, Tull remains proud of his own. ‘Don’t you have any stories?’ he asks pointedly. (They direct him to the Bible) On another, he remarks that he considers all white people ugly. When the Pastor muddies his tribe’s waterholes, there is consternation. When he chops down a venerable tree, the question of who owns the land is a source of more discord, a rumbling thunder that must eventually break into a storm.

Treloar calibrates these little moments of tension with impeccable judgment, never overplaying them, though she signposts a grim outcome early on, warning the reader to brace themselves for disaster. We navigate the unconventional relationship between the Finches and Tull, balancing trust and mistrust, with mounting apprehension.

The Pastor is not as principled and high minded as he might wish and has no head for business: all his ventures end in debt, with increasingly terrible consequences. When Tull forms a close bond with Hester’s youngest sister Addie, Hester refuses to see what is under her nose. As the family fractures, torn apart by the pastor’s blind unbending values and his hypocrisy, Hester tries to hold everything together.

She is a fascinating creation: full of contradictions, overwhelmed by an eldest daughter’s sense of duty following her mother’s early death while longing to be free and independent. Seemingly uninterested in personal attachment, she fights her own nature and impulses when drawn to a visiting artist explorer. Their moment of romantic intimacy on a shell beach is again understated and restrained, sensual but unsentimental.

The novel builds to a climax that avoids melodrama, but is charged with high emotion and tension to the very last chapter.

Grab a copy of Salt Creek here
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Caroline Baum has worked as founding editor of Good Reading magazine, features editor for Vogue, presenter of ABC TV’s popular bookshow, Between the Lines, and Foxtel’s Talking Books, and as an executive producer with ABC Radio National. She is currently Booktopia’s Editorial Director. For more reviews by Caroline – click here.


Salt Creek

by Lucy Treloar

Some things collapse slow, and cannot always be rebuilt, and even if a thing can be remade it will never be as it was.

Salt Creek, 1855, lies at the far reaches of the remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region, the Coorong, in the new province of South Australia. The area, just opened to graziers willing to chance their luck, becomes home to Stanton Finch and his large family, including fifteen-year-old Hester Finch.

Once wealth political activists, the Finch family has fallen on hard times. Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make more…

About the Author

Lucy Treloar was born in Malaysia and educated in Melbourne, England and Sweden. A graduate of the University of Melbourne and RMIT, Lucy is a writer and editor and has plied her trades both in Australia and in Cambodia, where she lived for a number of years. She has an abiding love for Southeast Asia, a region she retains links with through her editing work, which focuses on English language translations of a diverse range of material including folk tales and modern narrative forms.

Lucy is the 2014 Regional Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. In 2012 she won the Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award for her first novel, The Things We Tell Ourselves, and went on to be awarded a Varuna Publisher Fellowship for the same work in 2013. In 2011 Lucy was the recipient of a mentorship through the Australian Society of Authors as well as an Asialink Writer’s Residency to Cambodia.

Her short fiction has appeared in Sleepers, Overland, Seizure, and Best Australian Stories 2013.

Grab a copy of Salt Creek here

Booktopia’s John Purcell amongst the big names appearing at the 2015 Bendigo Writers Festival

Booktopia’s resident Book Guru and bestselling author John Purcell heads up an all-star lineup at this year’s Bendigo Writers Festival.

John Marsden, Bob Brown, Alice Pung, Graeme Simsion, John Clarke, Cate KennedyRobert Dessaix, Don Watson, Ellie MarneyLatika Bourke, David Astle, David M Henley, Max Gillies, Paddy O’Reilly, Robyn Davidson, Tariq Ali and The Gourmet Farmer’s Matthew Evans are just a few of the big names featuring in this year’s Bendigo Writers Festival.

Now in its fourth year, the Bendigo Writers Festival has become famous for the close access readers can experience with some of literature’s freshest thinkers, taking place in the heart of Bendigo’s View Street arts precinct.

The festival features more than 70 events in five venues across the August 8 and 9 weekend, from 9.30am on Saturday through to 5.30pm on Sunday.

For more details and to see the full program, go to www.bendigowritersfestival.com.au

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The 35th Annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest

They love it when you call them Big Papa.

Wally Collins is congratulated after winning the 2014 Papa title.

Wally Collins wins the 2014 Papa title.

Around this time every year Key West is set upon by mature, heavy-set men with full beards in khakis.

Why?

It’s time for the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest!

Hemingway lived in Key West during the 1930s and local bar Sloppy Joe’s, where Hemingway would often be found holding up the bar, has been holding the contest for an incredible 35 years. Around 125 entrants are expected to jostle for ‘The Papa’.

Sloppy Joe’s says it is “looking for mature, heavy-set men with a full beard”, but adds that “several young lookalikes have participated, and some have actually made it to the finals.”

It warns contestants: “Know your competition. The lookalikes arrive in Hemingway garb. Some wear safari outfits, khakis, and even the excruciatingly hot fisherman’s woollen turtleneck sweater. Some bring their own cheering squad. Most contestants admit (confidentially) that they may never win, but return year after year for the fellowship.”

The lookalike competition is just one part of a week long Papa-palooza that rains down upon at Key West every year, with Marlin fishing and short story competitions, readings, book signings and a “running of the bulls” event.

Click here for all things Hemingway

Adaptation: The Best Comics adapted from Video Games

Guest Blogger Jeremy Vine looks at the best comics to be adapted from video games.

The recent release of the video game Batman: Arkham Knight got me thinking – what fantastic comics have been adapted from video games? The Arkham series has already had a number of digital tie ins from DC Comics, but there are some great other titles that are perfect for people who want to re-live adventures (or need something to read during loading screens).

Here’s a selection of some of my favourites:

Tomb Raider

tomb-raiderLara Croft – Tomb Raider. Lara has been robbing tombs for a couple of decades now, and Dark Horse Comics have been right there with her. Dark Horse has had a long history of adapting other media to comics (no doubt someday I’ll get around to talking about their Aliens books) and Tomb Raider was one of the first. However, the one I’m talking about now is the adaptation of the latest iteration of Lara Croft, Tomb Raider vol. 1: Season of the Witch, written by Gail Simone and following the events of the excellent new video game.

Here, Lara is a young woman, not quite the seasoned adventurer players are used to. Simone hits the right level of action and mystery to keep the reader interested but doesn’t simply re-tell the events of the game. It’s about Lara coming to terms with what happened to her during the game.

Many characters, plot points, and locations from the game reappear, but it’s also accessible to new readers whose only knowledge of Lara is that she raids tombs.

This is an ongoing series and is currently being written by Simone with assistance from Rhianna Pratchett, the writer on the video game the series is adapting. With these two at the helm, the series really captures what made the game great.

Halo: Escalation

halo-escalationOne of the best-selling video games of all time, of course Halo makes the list. Halo: Escalation follows directly on from the events of Halo 4 – the galaxy is at peace following the epic war between humanity and the coalition of alien races known as the Covenant. However, it is not an easy peace.

The story follows the crew of the UNSC Infinity as they are charged with a protecting a peace summit between some of the warring Covenant factions. Things refuse to go smoothly and negotiations break down. Standing on the brink of renewed hostilities between the species, the human forces are drawn into the conflict against their will – but as events unfold they discover that deep behind enemy lines is a UNSC warship, long thought lost, raising the stakes dramatically.

Much like the game series it’s based on, the Halo: Escalation books are action-packed struggles with treachery and mystery woven in. This series will appeal to fans of science-fiction, military adventure or anyone wanting to know more about the Halo universe, as they expand on the worlds that the games started to develop.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

injusticeIn an alternate version of the DC Universe, things did not go well. The Joker managed to confound Superman, leading to the Man of Steel destroying Metropolis and accidentally killing his wife, Lois Lane.

Bent on vengeance, Superman takes the ultimate step and does what Batman has never been able to bring himself to do – kill the Joker. After that, there is no turning back. With little humanity left in him, Superman begins to remake the world in his image, forcing the other superheroes to choose their side – with him, or against him.

The game takes place five years after that, when the heroes of the regular DC Universe come through a dimensional rift and discover Superman ruling the world with an iron fist, and Batman the only person still fighting against him. Injustice: Gods Among Us – Year One, written by Australian Tom Taylor, takes place during those five years, as Superman rises to power and crushes the resistance against him.

What began as a fighting game has become a New York Times best-seller! While the original story was met with some dismay by fans (Superman, does after all, become a villain), Taylor delivered an astounding series full of pathos and wit. It chronicles the fall of a titan, while delving into just what exactly these superhero vigilantes stand for: is it justice, or is it vengeance?

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Jeremy Vine has been hooked on comics since he taught himself to read with the help of Asterix and Tintin. When not dressing up in costumes and attending pop culture conventions, he is an account manager for Penguin Random House Australia.

More of his thoughts on comics and superheroes in general can be found on the Comics Watchtower Facebook page or at his Twitter account @salesreplyfe

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