Last chance to win a Hilary Mantel book pack and a signed copy of Gone Girl!

As September draws to a close we don’t want you to miss out on two amazing prizes you could win. Today is your last chance to win a beautiful Hilary Mantel book pack or a signed copy of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl!

Hilary Mantel and Gillian Flynn couldn’t be more different as writers, but they do share a couple of traits, both selling millions and millions of copies worldwide, and garnering nearly unanimous critical acclaim.

All you need to do is buy Hilary Mantel’s brilliant new book The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, or the film tie-in of Gillian Flynn’s gripping Gone Girl by the end of the day to go in the draws!

the-assassination-of-margaret-thatcher-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

by Hilary Mantel

Review by Caroline Baum

There’s a crisp no-nonsense tone to this collection of contemporary short stories by the woman many regard as the Queen of Historical Fiction.

Here Mantel proves she can shift from the world of royal ermine and Tudor palace intrigue to that of a twentieth century London sniper co-opting a window to take aim, an expat wife surprised by a visitor in a Saudi apartment block and a child remembering her first sighting of a not-quite-normal-looking baby.

Her writing is full of memorable descriptive observations: a girl with her hair tied in a ribbon slipped sideways so that ‘her head looked like a badly tied parcel’ .

Mantel deploys her prose with steely precision and briskness, like a very efficient matron. You are never left in any doubt as to who is the boss here and it is a wonderful experience to surrender control to her formidable talents.

Grab a copy of The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher here

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gone-girl-order-now-for-your-chance-to-win-Gone Girl

by Gillian Flynn

THE ADDICTIVE No.1 BESTSELLER THAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT

Who are you? What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone.

So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

Grab a copy of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl here

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BOOK REVIEW: Upstairs at the Party by Linda Grant (Review by Caroline Baum)

It’s not just the fact that this novel is set at my university in the north of England that makes me love it. It’s Grant’s superb ability to capture the feeling of the times in this terrifically authentic story about student life, especially the first awkward foray into relationships, friendships, infatuations and other uneasy human manoeuvrings on the road to self-awareness.

Personalities are tried on like clothes, and discarded just as easily. The same goes for identities. Class, intellect, sex appeal and success become increasingly significant markers together with envy and popularity. Mental illness hovers on the periphery, its dark presence prompting tragedy, together with inevitable guilt and regret.

Many readers will recognise something of their student selves in these psychologically acute pages. Grant creates utterly believable, three-dimensional characters with the same clear-eyed wisdom as Margaret Drabble before her.

Grab a copy of Upstairs at the Party 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.

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upstairs-at-the-partyUpstairs at the Party

by Linda Grant

The brilliant new novel from the Man Booker shortlisted author of The Clothes on Their Backs

‘If you go back and look at your life there are certain scenes, acts, or maybe just incidents on which everything that follows seems to depend. If only you could narrate them, then you might be understood. I mean the part of yourself that you don’t know how to explain.’

In the early Seventies a glamorous and androgynous couple known collectively as Evie/Stevie appear out of nowhere on the isolated concrete campus of a new university. To a group of teenagers experimenting with radical ideas they seem blown back from the future, unsettling everything and uncovering covert desires. But the varnished patina of youth and flamboyant self-expression hides deep anxieties and hidden histories. For Adele, with the most to conceal, Evie/Stevie become a lifelong obsession, as she examines what happened on the night of her own twentieth birthday and her friends’ complicity in their fate. A set of school exercise books might reveal everything, but they have been missing for nearly forty years. From summers in Cornwall to London in the twenty-first century, long after they have disappeared, Evie/Stevie go on challenging everyone’s ideas of what their lives should turn out to be.

Grab a copy of Upstairs at the Party here

BOOK REVIEW: How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran (Review by Caroline Baum)

how-to-build-a-girlI’ve been a fan of Moran’s ever since I read her hilarious story in the British press about trying to learn Beyonce’s All the Single Ladies dance routine. She is a one-of-a-kind talent, untamed by success, outspoken, mouthy, with a wild and brilliant voice on just about everything. And now she’s tackled fiction. Despite an author’s note at the front of the book it does seem that she is using her own life story as material: she is, like her heroine Johanna, a girl raised on a housing estate in Wolverhampton with ambitions to write about music and go to London.

In the novel, Johanna leaves behind a sarcastically sharp-tongued mother and a hopeless father who is just a demo tape away from success and fails to recognise her brother is gay. She also has sex with a man with an overly large member and makes inept attempts at self-harm.

It’s a roller coaster ride of chaos, insecurity, longing and drugs in I’m-with-the- band land. This is rock ‘n’ roll meets Jeanette Winterson. Julie Burchill without the vitriol. Or as Moran herself puts it, The Bell Jar written by Adrian Mole. Raw, rude, irresistible and very funny.

Grab a copy of How to Build a Girl

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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.

how-to-build-a-girlHow to Build a Girl

by Caitlin Moran

What do you do in your teenage years when you realise what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes – and build yourself. It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde – fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer – like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontes – but without the dying young bit. By 16, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper.

She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less. But what happens when Johanna realises she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all? Imagine The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease, with a soundtrack by My Bloody Valentine and Happy Mondays. As beautiful as it is funny, How To Build a Girl is a brilliant coming-of-age novel in DMs and ripped tights, that captures perfectly the terror and joy of trying to discover exactly who it is you are going to be.

Grab a copy of How to Build a Girl

BOOK REVIEW: Where Song Began by Tim Low (Review by Caroline Baum)

You don’t have to be a twitcher to enjoy this book which opens with a fascinating theory: Australian birds sound different because of what they eat! Apparently they are on a sugar high, because there is more nectar available to them from native flora than to other birds elsewhere.

While our marsupials continue to capture the world’s attention (Prince George and the Bilby, Gary Shteyngart’s urgent desire to pat a wombat on his recent author tour), our birds are every bit as unique and get far less attention than they deserve. Many smaller species are threatened as suburbia encroaches on habitat. This accessible, entertaining and compelling portrait of our avian ecosystem makes for essential reading for bushwalkers, gardeners, and nature lovers.

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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.

Grab a copy of Where Song Began here

Grab a copy of Where Song Began here

BOOK REVIEW: Here Come the Dogs by Omar Musa (Review by Caroline Baum)

here-come-the-dogs-order-your-signed-copy-The energy of this debut novel just leaps off the page. Musa, a charismatic rapper, has successfully translated the idiom and pulse of performance to the page with its syncopated rhythms and hard-edged beats.

Inevitably, he is being compared with his mate Christos Tsiolkas for his full-frontal engagement with contemporary Australian society: in this case, multicultural masculinity with its surges of often misdirected testosterone.

In small town suburbia during a tinder-dry summer, anything could happen. Booze, drugs, violence and a racing dog all help pass the time.

At the centre of this compelling mash up of poetry and prose are three iconic young men: Solomon, a charming Samoan, who has broken up with his girlfriend and is fascinated by Scarlett, a free spirited tattooist; his half-brother Jimmy, who has got himself into trouble, and their Macedonian childhood friend, Aleks.

Musa manipulates language with raw, bracing vitality, offering up a picture of Australia that is not pretty but feels authentic.

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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.

Grab a signed copy of Here Come the Dogs here

Grab a signed copy of Here Come the Dogs here

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Writer and journalist Sian Prior, author of Shy, in conversation with Caroline Baum

Shy

by Sian Prior

Shy. It’s a shy word, a timid little word that begs to remain unnoticed. Only three letters long, and it begins with an exhortation to silence. Shhh. Reserved is different. It’s for tall men with jutting jaws. Prime ministers can appear reserved: never shy. Restrained carries itself with dignity.

Even introvert has a whiff of authority about it: these people have been tested; Myers and Briggs have awarded them an impressive three-syllable psychological label. But with shy there’s no authority, no control. It’s a blushing, hunching word; a nervous, knock-kneed, wallflower word. A word for children, not grown-ups, because surely grown-ups grow out of shyness. Don’t they? Sian Prior has maintained a career in the public eye, as a broadcaster and performer, for more than twenty years.

For far longer than that she has suffered from excruciating shyness. Eventually, after bolting from a party in a state of near-panic, she decides to investigate her condition. What is it, shyness? Where did hers come from? Why does it create such distressing turmoil beneath her assured professional front? As Sian begins to research the science of social anxiety, other factors present themselves as facets of the problem. Family, intimate friendships, self-perception and fear and longing and the consequences of love…While, in counterpoint, there is the security, the sense of belonging, she finds in the life she shares with Tom, her famous partner. Until he tells her he is leaving.

Shy: A Memoir – frank, provocative, remarkable in its clarity and beautifully written – is a book about unease: about questioning who you are and evading the answer. It is about grief, and abandonment and loss. It is about how the simple word shy belies the complex reality of what that really means.

About the Author

Sian Prior is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in the arts and popular culture, a media consultant, and a teacher at universities and writers centres. She has a second career as a musician and recording artist. Sian lives in Melbourne. Shy: A Memoir is her first book.

Grab a copy of Shy here

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Writer Fiona Wood, author of Wildlife, in conversation with Caroline Baum

Wildlife

by Fiona Wood

Life? It’s simple: be true to yourself.
The tricky part is finding out exactly who you are…

“In the holidays before the dreaded term at Crowthorne Grammar’s outdoor education camp two things out of the ordinary happened.

A picture of me was plastered all over a twenty-metre billboard. And I kissed Ben Capaldi.”

Boarding for a term in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the gruesome outdoor education program – but friendship complications, and love that goes wrong? They’re extra-curricula.

Enter Lou from Six Impossible Things – the reluctant new girl for this term in the great outdoors. Fragile behind an implacable mask, she is grieving a death that occurred almost a year ago. Despite herself, Lou becomes intrigued by the unfolding drama between her housemates Sibylla and Holly, and has to decide whether to end her self-imposed detachment and join the fray.

And as Sibylla confronts a tangle of betrayal, she needs to renegotiate everything she thought she knew about surviving in the wild.

A story about first love, friendship and NOT fitting in.

About the Author

Fiona Wood has been writing television for ten years. During that time she has written for Something in the Air, Marshall Law, Always Greener, Life, MDA, The Secret Life of Us, Home & Away and Neighbours, the children’s dramas Sleepover Club and Silver Sun, and been a story consultant on Dirt Game. She has also worked as a freelance journalist for The Age, The Sunday Age and an interior design magazine. She lives in Melbourne with her husband, teenage children, and a very bad dog. This is her first novel.

Grab a copy of Wildlife here

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