GUEST BLOG: Caroline Baum on judging the Stella Prize

CaroJudging a literary prize is the one thing that no algorithm, no matter how sophisticated, can do. It is an intensely human and subjective endeavour. Now that the winner of this year’s Stella prize has been announced, I can say with complete honesty that this was the hardest prize I have ever judged: partly because of the sheer volume of books that we five judges had to read, in a relatively tight time frame, and partly because the quality of the books made it such a difficult process.

I spent a lot of this summer reading so intensely that on some days, I simply never got dressed. I taped the three criteria to my bedside table -original, excellent and engaging- and repeated them to myself like a mantra whenever I was unsure.

Some books snuck up on me unexpectedly, including a couple I had missed when they came out. One or two had completely failed to appear on my radar, causing me genuine concern: how could it be that I had overlooked them, when my role at Booktopia gives me the opportunity to see everything that’s out there? Answer: I’m human. An algorithm could come up with a formula that suggests what I might like based on previous preferences, but it won’t necessarily spot the book I failed to notice.

Judging for the Stella introduced me to some voices I will now follow with acute and sustained interest: Sofie Laguna and Biff Ward, I await your next books keenly.

As the process and the summer wore on, emails trickled through in the heat, becoming more urgent as deadlines neared. Oh the relief of realising some of my most fervently held enthusiasms were shared!

I thought of what it takes to do this as a kind of fitness, requiring muscle tone like a long distance athletic challenge. You need reading stamina to stay the course as well as lots of uninterrupted time.

When it came to whittling the longlist down to the shortlist, I read all twelve books again to get to six. There was no way round it. The revelations on re-reading were astounding and sometimes conviction-shaking – which just goes to show how much you miss when you are binge-reading, swallowing a book down without digesting it properly.

Our deliberations, when we finally came together on a warm day in Melbourne, were respectful, polite, fair but intense. Navigating towards the shore of consensus, we avoided the rocks of heated argument, all equally keen to avoid boiling it down to the simple, bald maths of a vote.

Being the first cab off the rank in the sequence of the year’s literary prizes is interesting: when the lists appear for prizes like the Miles Franklin it is surprising to see where you overlap and where you don’t.

I think it’s great for the vigour of the culture if one book does not scoop all the prizes, but it was surprising to see that our winner this year was not even longlisted for The Miles Franklin, given that The Strays certainly ticks the box when it comes to the vexed criterion of depicting an aspect of Australian life.

If Joan London wins it for The Golden Age, that would mean a pair of prestigious wins by two fine women writers who use language with similar precision, delicacy and maturity, despite the fact that one is making her debut, and the other is arguably one of our finest midcareer novelists. Both books about outsiders with heightened sensibilities, and which bring a fresh perspective to complex aspects of our past.

Caroline Baum is Booktopia’s Editorial Director, for which she produces The Booktopia Buzz. She also writes for the Sydney Morning Herald, Qantas in flight magazine, Slow Magazine, SBS Feast and other publications about books, food, travel, the arts, and aspects of contemporary life.

230914carolinebaumbuzzheader616+x123Check out Caroline’s Books of the Month in The Booktopia Buzz

30% OFF our entire Mother’s Day Gift Guide!

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It’s always hard trying to find the perfect Mother’s Day gift, so Booktopia has made it easy by selecting great books for every type of mum with our Mother’s Day Gift Guide, which right now has all the books and bobs at 30% off or more. It can’t last long though, get in before midnight April 23rd. Here’s just the very tip of the iceberg….


Love a True Story

boy-from-the-bush-signed-copies-available-Boy from the Bush

Lee Kernaghan, Colin Buchanan

For a limited time only, order Boy from the Bush and you will receive a signed copy. *Offer available while stocks last.

‘This is my story. These are my songs.’

Lee Kernaghan is ‘The Boy From The Bush’, an iconic star and 2008 Australian of the Year whose music has shaped a generation of country music fans. For the first time, Lee steps off the stage and invites you behind the scenes, into the ute and over the rutted red dirt on a rollocking journey through his songs and the stories that inspired more…

Check out our entire Love a True Story collection here


Love From the Kids

Why I Love My Grandma : For grandmas everywhere, in children’s very own wordswhy-i-love-my-grandma

by Daniel Howarth (Illustrator)

‘I love my grandma because… ‘ Everyone’s grandma is the best. And who better to tell the world than children themselves? This charming book combines endearing things said by children about their grandmas with gentle illustrations of familiar animals. The text is amusing and insightful, with reasons why grandmas are loved by their children ranging from ‘because he says funny things’ to ‘because he makes every day special’.

With beautiful pictures and charming words from children – this is the more…

Check out our entire Love From the Kids collection here


Love Lavish

1001-paintings-you-must-see-before-you-die

1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die

by Stephen Farthing

1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die is the essential visual reference to the most sensational paintings around the world.

With more than 300,000 copies sold worldwide in 15 languages, this newly revised and updated edition of 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die brings you right up to date with an incisive look at the world’s best paintings. From Ancient Egyptian wallpaintings to contemporary Western canvases, this book is truly comprehensive in its scope and beautiful to leaf through. Within its pages you will see displayed 1001 of the most memorable, haunting, powerful, important, controversial and visually more…

Check out our entire Love Lavish collection here


Love to Cook

family-favouritesFamily Favourites

by Sally Wise

Tried and true recipes you’ll cook for the family every day

Sally Wise, author, home chef, cooking school teacher and mother to six children, is an expert at rustling up delicious, nutritious and fuss-free food. Her books have become national bestsellers and she has taught a legion of fans how to get the best out of seasonal produce.

In this book Sally focuses on the recipes she uses every day, the dishes she’s adapted and perfected over the years of fussy small children (one of who wouldn’t eat ice-cream unless it was heated). From classics like more…

Check out our entire Love to Cook collection here


Love to Create

materially-craftedMaterially Crafted

by Victoria Hudgins

Décor blogs, online shelter magazines, Pinterest boards. Design enthusiasts are bombarded with a wealth of beautiful home inspiration at every turn these days, but many lack the foundations necessary to re-create their dream projects.

Materially Crafted is a must-have introduction and guide for the creative and design-savvy, many of whom are embracing their crafty side for the first time. Written by Victoria Hudgins, creator of the popular design blog A Subtle Revelry, Materially Crafted is organized according to materials used—from more…

Check out our entire Love to Create collection here


Love to Read

She’s Having Her Baby9781863957205

by Lauren Sams

Georgie Henderson doesn’t want to have kids, but her best friend, Nina Doherty, has wanted to have a baby for as long as she can remember. Sadly, Nina’s uterus refuses to cooperate. One drunken evening, Nina asks Georgie for the ultimate favour: would she carry a baby for her? Georgie says yes . . . and spends the next nine months discovering what she’s got herself into.

With intense bacon-and-egg roll cravings, a foundering friendship and distant memories of what her feet look like, Georgie also tries to more…

Check out our entire Love to Read collection here


design-with-colour-and-styleLove to Style

Design with Colour and Style

by Shaynna Blaze

Star of Selling Houses Australia, and expert judge on Channel 9’s The Block

Interior design expert Shaynna Blaze is passionate about helping people uncover their own personal interior style. In this book, she explores the intriguing, enticing elements of colour and style and explains how you can use them to transform your home. Using beautiful photographs and practical examples, Shaynna shows how colour affects a space and the mood of those living in it. She reveals how more…

Check out our entire Love to Style collection here


Love a Bargain

Unlock Your Styleunlock-your-style

by Nikki Parkinson

Dress to impress without the stress! Fabulous fashion tips from the author of the award-winning StylingYou website.

In Unlock Your Style, Australian fashion expert Nikki Parkinson of stylingyou.com.au shows you how to feel confident in your clothes. Inside these pages you’ll find Nikki’s top tips for every woman – no matter her age, shape or budget.

Including: more…

Check out our entire Love a Bargain collection here


Check out our entire Mother’s Day Gift Guide here

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Monica Dux, author of Mothermorphosis, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

mothermorphosis

 

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Monica Dux

author of Mothermorphosis

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 Sydney. Raised by wolves and schooled in the ways of the jungle.

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

At twelve I wanted to be a nun, an actor, the President of the United States, and a Neurosurgeon. Luckily I was part of the Having it All generation, so I didn’t trouble myself with the logistics of fulfilling my dreams.

At 18, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to be.

At 30, I wanted to be able to pay my rent while doing something interesting and meaningful that didn’t involve having to say “have a nice day!”

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Author: Monica Dux

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

That the three black rectangles I got tattooed onto my arm would always delight.

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?

My husband is a screenwriter and his career had a huge impact on my decision to become a writer. Not so much because I admired his work (although I do), but because I was envious of the fact that he worked from home and so could pop out for a coffee whenever he felt like it.

Being able to make my own hours and not answer to The Man, seemed very attractive. This was before we had kids of course, so sadly it all turned out to be a delusion.

The second big event was having the aforementioned kids. They’ve dictated so much of my career, which isn’t a bad thing at all, and has probably saved me many nights of angsting over choices I don’t now have.

The third thing is all those who’ve continued to publish me. Without a space to publish, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

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

It used to really bug me when people went on about how much they loved the printed book. But I am now one of those people. These days being a writer involves engaging with many different media, and I’m comfortable with that. But the printed book is akin to the wheel – there’s absolutely no need to change it, and I don’t doubt that it will persist, long after various other forms of media have been transformed or become redundant.

mothermorphosis

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Mothermorphosis is a collection of essays about the experience of becoming a mother from some of Australia’s best writers and commentators. It came about as a result of a conversation I had with the commissioning editor Dina Kluska, about how stories of motherhood are not always valued, even though motherhood is such a profound experience. I think it’s crucial that mothers share their stories, in all their variety, and that’s what this book is about.

It’s a gorgeous collection; each contributor has produced something quite special.

We decided to donate part of the royalties to PANDA (the Post and Antenatal Depression Association), an organisation which does amazing work helping new parents.

Grab a copy of Monica’s new book Mothermorphosis here

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

Achieving world peace would be nice. If that’s not going to happen, I’d like to think my work changes ordinary people’s lives for the better, perhaps even in small ways, giving them an insight into other lives and perhaps making them feel less alone. That’s what makes writing worthwhile.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

That’s a hard one. There are so many people I admire. But today I vote for my husband Kris Mrksa. He’s smart and funny and has taught me more about writing than anyone else I know. And he’s been overseas for work, so I’m missing him. He left out a complete clean change of clothes for the kids for every day he was away, which has meant they’ve been able to go to school with clean underwear, and I haven’t had to use the washing machine.

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

I used to put a lot of pressure on myself about what I wanted to achieve. Now I focus more on just moving forward, on being able to continue creating. I set myself goals, but I’m always aware how quickly things can change, so I’m not too hard on myself if they don’t work out.

I do fear going backwards, but writing is a long game, and I’ve become more comfortable with that reality, and so more resigned to all that it entails. As long as people keep reading my work, I’m happy. I couldn’t keep writing if I thought I had no audience.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

You need to be tenacious. So stay tough. But don’t be precious. No one is interested in your navel.

Monica, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Mothermorphosis here


mothermorphosisMothermorphosis

Australia’s Best Storytellers Write About Becoming a Mother

In Mothermorphosis , some of Australia’s most talented writers and storytellers share their own experiences of motherhood. In telling their stories they articulate the complex internal conflicts, the exhilaration and the absurdity of the transformation that takes place when we become mothers. We read about the yearning for a child, the private and public expressions of maternal love, the questioning, uncertainty and unexpected delight, as well as unfathomable loss.

Mothermorphosis reveals that there is no ‘right’ version of this epic experience and no single tale that could ever speak for all mothers. Yet it is in reading about other women’s experiences and dash;the hard bits, the joyous bits and even the ridiculous bitsandmdash;that we can become more compassionate, not just to other mothers but hopefully to ourselves.

Mothermorphosis includes writing from: Kate Holden, Kathy Lette, Lorelei Vashti, Rebecca Huntley, George McEnroe, Fatima Measham, Jo Case, Hilary Harper, Cordelia Fine, Jane Caro, Hannah Robert, Susan Carland, Kerri Sackville, Catherine Deveny, Lee Kofman and Dee Madigan.

Grab a copy of Mothermorphosis here

 

Jennifer Niven, author of All the Bright Places, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

all-the-bright-places

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Jennifer Niven

author of All the Bright Places

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 North Carolina, raised mostly in Indiana (after living in Okinawa and then Maryland). My move to Indiana in fourth grade prompted one of my earliest books— My Life in Indiana: I Will Never be Happy Again. I graduated high school there, went to college in New Jersey, and, following that, attended grad school in Los Angeles.

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

When I was twelve, I wanted to be an international rock star detective—kind of like a Charlie’s Angel (i.e. Jaclyn Smith) meets Josie and the Pussycats. This is because I wanted to be a Charlie’s Angel and a rock star—the two most exciting things I could imagine— so I figured why not combine them? When I was eighteen, I wanted to be an actress because it seemed really, really glamorous, even though I was too shy to try out for any plays I didn’t write and direct myself. When I was thirty, I wanted to be a writer because writing has always been—for all my life—the thing I love to do most.

jennifer niven

Author: Jennifer Niven

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

I secretly believed I was charmed, that I was invincible. And then my parents divorced, my grandfather died—the first loss I’d ever known—and I started questioning everything. I’ve since lost my other grandparents, friends, cousins, a boyfriend, my dad, and, most recently, my mom.  Over the years I’ve had to come to terms with how small I am in the scheme of things, but I’ve also learned the ways in which I can make an impact and leave an imprint behind. And, maybe best of all, I know what I’m made of.

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?

Ray Bradbury’s short stories, Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison, and ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” All three taught me that something economical can also be powerful. They taught me the importance of being succinct but expressive, and of saying a great deal in the most straightforward way.

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

Years ago, I knew and loved a boy, and the experience was life-changing.  I’d always wanted to write about it—only because it was so personal, I knew I would need to write it as fiction.  All the while I was working on my other books, I was reading YA novels for fun. So much of what’s being produced in YA literature is brilliant and daring and fantastically imaginative.  I always had the thought in the back of my mind: Someday I’ll write a young adult book.  When I decided on this particular idea, I knew in my bones it was time.

all-the-bright-places

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

All the Bright Places is about a boy and a girl who meet on the ledge of their high school bell tower as they’re both contemplating jumping. It’s about bright places and dark places, about making it lovely and leaving something behind. It’s about acceptance in spite of everything, and realizing that you are your own bright place in the world.

Grab a copy of Jennifer’s new book All the Bright Places here

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

One early reader emailed me to say that as soon as she read the book, she ran downstairs and hugged her mother. Another reader wrote, “I found after reading this that I wanted to do so much more with my life than just live.” I hope that the book inspires more of those feelings. I hope All the Bright Places will inspire others to look deeper at the people and places around them. And I hope it inspires discussions about teen mental health, so that people feel safe enough to come forward and say, “I have a problem.  I need help.” I want readers to know that help is out there, that it gets better, that high school isn’t forever, and that life is long and vast and full of possibility.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why? something-wicked-this-way-comes

I was lucky enough to grow up with a writer mom, who taught me that I could be or do anything I wanted to be or do. I’m an only child, and when I was a little girl, we used to have “writing time.” From her, I learned to find the story in everything, and I learned never to limit myself or my imagination. I also saw firsthand how difficult and stressful and unpredictable the business was. And I saw the commitment it took. Even during the toughest, saddest times of her life, she wrote. In so many ways, she was my hero. I think many people go into the business of writing with unrealistic expectations—not realizing that it is, in fact, a business, and that you have to be ready and willing to do it in spite of everything else.

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

I want to write many, many more YA books, another nonfiction book for adults, and, down the line, another adult novel or two, including an idea my mom intended on writing but never got the chance to. I’d like to write it for her. I’d like to see my books turned into movies. I’d also love it if one of them was turned into a Broadway musical a la Wicked. If that ever happens, I want a really juicy cameo (one that doesn’t require me to sing).

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write, read, and work hard. Remember to enjoy it. Don’t get hung up on making it perfect, because there’s no such thing. Write the kind of book you’d like to read. Write what inspires you. Write what you love.

Jennifer, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here


all-the-bright-placesAll the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch wants to take his own life. I’m broken, and no one can fix it.

Violet Markey us devastated by her sister’s death. In that instant we went plowing through the guardrail, my words died too.

They meet on the ledge of the school bell tower, and so their story begins. It’s only together they can be themselves . . .

I send a message to Violet: ‘You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.’

You’re so weird, Finch. But that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.

But, as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love?

About the Author

Jennifer Niven is the author of two narrative non-fiction books, The Ice Master and Ada Blackjack; a high school memoir, The Aqua Net Diaries; and four historical novels for adults: Velva Jean Learns to Drive (based on her Emmy Award-winning film of the same name), Velva Jean Learns to Fly, Becoming Clementine, and the forthcoming American Blonde. All the Bright Places is her first book for young adults.

Grab a copy of All the Bright Places here

BREAKING NEWS: Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction Announce 2015 Shortlist

While you were sleeping the shortlist for the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction was announced, an intriguing list selected by this year’s judges.

This year’s six shortlisted books were whittled down from a twenty-strong longlist, which can be found here. The shortlist selection includes five previously shortlisted authors and one debut novelist, playwright Laline Paull.

The award will be announced on the 3rd June. Why not pick up a few of them and be your own judge…


outline-a-novelOutline

by Rachel Cusk

A novel about writing and talking, self-effacement and self-expression, about the desire to create and the human art of self-portraiture in which that desire finds its universal form.

A woman writer goes to Athens in the height of summer to teach a writing course. Though her own circumstances remain indistinct, she becomes the audience to a chain of narratives, as the people she meets tell her one after another the stories of their lives.

Beginning with the neighbouring passenger on the flight out and his tales of fast boats and failed marriages, the storytellers talk of their loves and ambitions and pains, their anxieties, their perceptions and daily lives. In the stifling heat and noise of the city the sequence of voice begins to weave a complex human tapestry. The more they talk the more elliptical their listener becomes, as she shapes and directs their accounts until certain themes begin to emerge: the experience of loss, the nature of family life, the difficulty of intimacy and the mystery of creativity itself.

Outline is a novel about writing and talking, about self-effacement and self-expression, about the desire to create and the human art of self-portraiture in which that desire finds its universal form.

Grab a copy of Outline here

Author Rachel Cusk

About the Author

Rachel Cusk was born in 1967 and is the author of seven novels: Saving Agnes, which won the Whitbread First Novel Award, The Temporary, The Country Life, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, The Lucky Ones, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award, In the Fold and Arlington Park which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and The Bradshaw Variations. Her non-fiction books are A Life’s Work, The Last Supper and Aftermath. In 2003 she was chosen as one of Granta’s Best of Young Novelists.


the-beesThe Bees

by Laline Paull

Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen. But Flora is not like other bees. Despite her ugliness she has talents that are not typical of her kin. While mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is removed from sanitation duty and is allowed to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing.

She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous. But enemies are everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. And when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all her instinct to serve is overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will lead to the unthinkable . . .

Laline Paull’s chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, The Bees is the story of a heroinelaline_paull_a_p who, in the face of an increasingly desperate struggle for survival, changes her destiny and her world.

Grab a copy of The Bees here

About the Author

Laline Paull, 49, studied English at Oxford, screenwriting in Los Angeles, and theatre in London, where she has had two plays performed at the Royal National Theatre. She is a member of BAFTA and the Writers’ Guild of America. She lives in England by the sea with her husband, the photographer Adrian Peacock, and their three children.


a-god-in-every-stoneA God in Every Stone

by Kamila Shamsie

July 1914. A young Englishwoman, Vivian Rose Spencer is running up a mountainside in an ancient land. She picks up a fig and holds it to her nose. Around her is a maze of broken columns, taller than the tallest of men. Nearby is the familiar lean form of her father’s old friend, Tahsin Bey, an archeologist. Viv is about to discover the Temple of Zeus, the call of adventure and the ecstasy of love.

July, 1915. An Englishwoman and an Indian man meet on a train to Peshawar. Viv Spencer is following a cryptic message sent to her by the man she loves, from whom she has been separated by war. Qayyum Gul is returning home after losing an eye at Ypres while fighting for the British Indian army, his allegiances in tatters. When they disembark the train at Peshawar they are unaware that a connection is about to be forged between their lives – one of which they will be unaware until fifteen years later when anti-colonial resistance, an ancient artefact and a mysterious green-eyed woman will bring them together again over seventy-two hours of heartbreak, frayed loyalties and hope.

Grab a copy of A God in Every Stone herekamila-shamsie

About the Author

Kamila Shamsie is the author of five novels: In the City by the Sea, Kartography (both shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), Salt and Saffron, Broken Verses and Burnt Shadows which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and has been translated into more than twenty languages. Three of her novels have received awards from Pakistan’s Academy of Letters. She is a trustee of English PEN and Free Word, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


how-to-be-bothHow To Be Both

by Ali Smith

How to be Both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s.

Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.

Grab a copy of How To Be Both here

About the AuthorAli-Smith-006

Ali Smith is the author of several fiction novels, including the novel Hotel World, which was shortlisted for both the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize in 2001 and won the Encore Award and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award in 2002. Her story collections include Free Love, which won the Saltire First Book Award and a Scottish Arts Council Award, and The Whole Story and Other Stories. Her latest novel is How to be Both. Born in Inverness, Scotland, in 1962, Smith now lives in Cambridge, England.


a-spool-of-blue-threadA Spool of Blue Thread

by Anne Tyler

‘It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon…’

This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she and Red fell in love that day in July 1959. The whole family on the porch, relaxed, half-listening as their mother tells the same tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different. Abby and Red are getting older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them and their beloved family home. They’ve all come, even Denny, who can usually be relied on only to please himself.

From that porch we spool back through three generations of the Whitshanks, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define who and what they are. And while all families like to believe they are special, round that kitchen table over all those years we see played out the hopes and fears, the rivalries and tensions of families everywhere – the essential nature of family life.anne tyler

Grab a copy of A Spool of Blue Thread here

About the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. The Beginner’s Goodbye is Anne Tyler’s nineteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


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 unexpected ways. And as passions mount and frustration gathers, no one can foresee just how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be.

This is vintage Sarah Waters: beautifully described with excruciating tension, real tenderness, believable characters, and surprises. It is above all, a wonderful, compelling story.

Grab a copy of The Paying Guests here

About the AuthorWriter-Sarah-Waters-006

Sarah Waters was born in Wales in 1966. She has been shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange prizes and has won The South Bank Show Award and The Somerset Maugham Award. Four of her novels have been adapted for television. She has been named as author of the Year four times – by the Booksellers Association, Sunday Times, Waterstone’s and The British Book Awards.

BREAKING NEWS: 2015 Australian Book Industry Award shortlists announced!

The shortlists for the 2015 Australian Book Industry Awards have just been announced!

Voted on by some of Australia’s most influential readers, publishers and booksellers, the awards also feature a collection of new prizes, headlined by the Matt Richell Award for Best New Writer.

Agree with the judges? Tell us in the comments below…

General Fiction Book of the Year

Laurinda by Alice Pung

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

Life or Death by Michael Robotham

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

Literary Fiction Book of the Year

Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke

When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett

The Golden Age by Joan London

Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett

Amnesia by Peter Carey

General Non-fiction Book of the Year

The Bush by Don Watson

The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb

Where Song Began: Australia’s Birds and How They Changed the World by Tim Low

Gallipoli by Peter Fitzsimons

This House of Grief: The Story of a Murder Trial by Helen Garner

Biography Book of the Year

Never, Um, Ever Ending Story by Molly Meldrum

Love Your Sister by Connie Johnson and Samuel Johnson

Optimism: Reflections on a Life of Action by Bob Brown

A Bone of Fact by David Walsh

My Story by Julia Gillard

Older Children (age range 8 to 14 years)

Clariel by Garth Nix

Withering-By-Sea by Judith Rossell

Alice-Miranda in Japan by Jacqueline Harvey

Brotherband 5: Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan

Friday Barnes 1: Girl Detective by R. A. Spratt

Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman

Younger Children (age range 0 to 8 years)

Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach by Alison Lester

Mr Chicken Lands on London by Leigh Hobbs

The 52-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Clementine Rose and the Seaside Escape by Jacqueline Harvey

The Last King of Angkor Wat by Graeme Base

Illustrated Book of the Year

What a Croc! by NT News

New Feast by Greg And Lucy Malouf

Community by Hetty Mckinnon

Australian Art: A History by Sasha Grishin

Anzac Treasures by Peter Pedersen

International Book of the Year

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Matt Richell Award for New Writer

The Tea Chest by Josephine Moon

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey

Here Come the Dogs by Omar Musa

Are you a winner of 1 of 6 Fiona McCallum packs? Take a leap of faith!

In celebration of the release of Fiona McCallum’s book Leap of Faith, we gave customers the opportunity to win 1 of 6 Fiona McCallum packs, containing Paycheque and Nowhere Else. All you had to do to enter was order a copy of Leap of Faith by April 6th!

…and the winners are:

D.Willis, Booborowie, SA
L.Hicks, Neuarpurr, VIC
B.Taber, Riverstone. NSW
J.McDonald, Echunga, SA
M.Park, Geilston Bay, TAS
L.Pickles, Coleraine, VIC


leap-of-faithLeap of Faith

by Fiona McCallum

The highly anticipated new novel from beloved Australian writer Fiona McCallum.

Jessica Harrington is a promising horse rider who dreams of representing her country. But the recent death of her father her coach and mentor has left her doubting her ability to continue in the sport. When she fails at the Adelaide International Horse Trials her fears are confirmed and her world begins to fall apart.

Unable to bear seeing her well bred, highly trained horses languishing in the paddock, she makes the snap decision to sell. She’s broken her own heart, but can’t see any other way – now she will just have to focus on a life without them. Her husband Steve and best friend Tiffany, however, can see through her bravado.

Jessica is dismayed when Steve brings home a horse from a clearing sale, a horse so skinny and forlorn he just couldn’t leave it behind. Unwilling to be drawn back into the world of horses, she/s reluctant to get involved. But when a summer thunderstorm brings on a life or death emergency, she finds she underestimated the heart of one little horse. Can Jessica put her trust in Faith?

 

Grab a copy of Leap of Faith here


Congratulations to the winners!
Not a winner? Don’t worry, we have more prizes to giveaway! You could win an awesome Mother’s Day gift. Check them out here.

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