Signed Copies Make Great Gifts – Part 1 of our signed book bonanza!

We love to give books as gifts. All booklovers do. But when we can give a book which is signed by the author, well, that is perfect. Tell someone how much you love them by giving them something that’ll go ‘straight to the poolroom!’

But hurry as stock will not last!

Scorpion Mountain: Brotherband Series : Book 5

by John Flanagan

Click here for more details or to buy Scorpian Mountain

When the worlds of Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband cross over, action and adventure are guaranteed!

King Duncan of Araluen has an urgent mission for Hal and the Heron Brotherband. One assassination attempt on Princess Cassandra was foiled. But the killers won’t be satisfied until they have fulfilled their honour-bound duty.

The Herons, along with Ranger Gilan, set off for Arrida. There they must track the cult of killers across the desert, and infiltrate the cult’s mountain lair to find their leader – and stop him. But the giant assassin isn’t the only threat they will face. There is a seaside battle looming, and the Herons are called upon to help an old friend of Araluen in his fight.

Trapped in an unfamiliar land, their forces split between searing hot land and treacherous seas, can the Herons complete their mission – before the killers find their royal target?

John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband adventure series have sold more than eight million copies worldwide. His books are available in more than 100 countries, are regularly on the New York Times bestseller list, and have had multiple award shortlistings in Australia and overseas. John, a former television and advertising writer, lives with his wife in a Sydney beachside suburb.

Order a signed copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

Last Woman Hanged

by Caroline Overington


In January 1889, Louisa Collins, a 41-year-old mother of ten children, became the first woman hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol and the last woman hanged in New South Wales. Both of Louisa’s husbands died suddenly. The Crown was convinced that Louisa poisoned them with arsenic and, to the horror of many in the legal community, put her on trial an extraordinary FOUR TIMES in order to get a conviction. Louisa protested her innocence until the end. Now, in Last Woman Hanged, writer and journalist Caroline Overington delves into the archives to re-examine the original, forensic reports, court documents, judges notebooks, witness statements and police and gaol records, in an effort to discover the truth.

Much of the evidence against Louisa was circumstantial. Some of the most important testimony was given by her only daughter, May, who was just 10-years-old when asked to take the stand.

The historical context is also important: Louisa Collins was hanged at a time when women were in no sense equal under the law – except when it came to the gallows.

Women could not vote or stand for parliament – or sit on juries. There were no female politicians and no women judges.

Against this background, a small group of women rose up to try to save Louisa’s life, arguing that a legal system comprised only of men – male judges, all-male jury, male prosecutor, governor and Premier – could not with any integrity hang a woman.

The tenacity of these women would not save Louisa but it would ultimately carry women from their homes all the way to Parliament House.

Less than 15 years after Louisa was hanged, Australian women would become some of the first in the world to get the vote. They would take seats in State parliament, and in Canberra. They would become doctors, lawyers, judges, premiers – even the Prime Minister.

Caroline says: ‘My hope is that Last Woman Hanged will be read not only as a true crime story but as a letter of profound thanks to that generation of women who fought so hard for the rights we still enjoy today.’

Order a signed copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

Pushing the Limits

by Kurt Fearnley

When Kurt Fearnley was a kid, he would leave his wheelechair at the front gate and go exploring with his brothers and sisters. ‘You’re going to have to be stronger than we are,’ they told him, ‘and we know you will be.’

The kid from Carcoar was raised to believe he could do anything. At fifteen, he won his first medal. Then he conquered the world, winning three Paralympic gold medals, seven world championships and more than 35 marathons. A world-beater in and out of his wheelchair, Kurt is a true Australian champion.

Inspiring, exhilarating and highly entertaining, Pushing the Limits takes us inside the mind of a kid with a disability growing up in a tiny town, a teenager finding his place in the world, and an elite sportsman who refuses to give up, no matter how extreme the challenge.

Kurt Fearnley was born without the lower portion of his spine. He grew up in tiny Carcoar in NSW, and took up wheelchair racing in his teens. He has gone on to be a three-time Paralympic gold medallist and has won marathons all around the world, including the prestigious New York, London and Chicago marathons multiple times. His exploits are not confined to wheelchair racing – he has crawled the Kokoda track and the Great Wall of China and sailed with a winning Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race crew. Kurt’s exploits both in and out of sport saw him recognised as the 2009 NSW Young Australian of the Year. He lives in Newcastle with his wife and son.

Order a signed copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

Adam Gilchrist – The Man. The Cricketer. The Legend.

Going in first or seventh, wearing whites or colours, Adam Gilchrist was the most exhilarating cricketer of the modern age.

This is the most complete, intimate and fascinating illustrated autobiography of ‘Gilly’, one of the most loved sportsmen of his generation.

Featuring personal photographs, stories and precious keepsakes from Gilchrist’s private life and illustrious career, this book provides unprecedented access to Gilly, on and off the field. Peppered with anecdotes, reflections and jibes from friends, family and many of the biggest names in Australian and world cricket, this is the ultimate collection for sporting enthusiasts.

Many critics believe Adam Gilchrist is the greatest wicketkeeper/batsman to have played the game, but Adam’s huge popularity does not rest solely on his incredible track record. To his millions of fans around the world, it is the way he plays the game – rather than simply the sum of his achievements – that marks him out as one of the best-loved cricketers of his generation. He is both a swashbuckling batsman and record-breaking wicketkeeper, yet perhaps his true impact has come from the manner in which he plays his cricket – with an integrity and sense of values that many thought had departed the game forever.

Order a signed copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore


by Peter FitzSimons

On 25 April 1915, Allied forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in present-day Turkey to secure the sea route between Britain and France in the west and Russia in the east. After eight months of terrible fighting, they would fail.

Turkey regards the victory to this day as a defining moment in its history, a heroic last stand in the defence of the nation’s Ottoman Empire. But, counter-intuitively, it would signify something perhaps even greater for the defeated Australians and New Zealanders involved: the birth of their countries’ sense of nationhood.

Now approaching its centenary, the Gallipoli campaign, commemorated each year on Anzac Day, reverberates with importance as the origin and symbol of Australian and New Zealand identity. As such, the facts of the battle – which was minor against the scale of the First World War and cost less than a sixth of the Australian deaths on the Western Front – are often forgotten or obscured. Peter FitzSimons, with his trademark vibrancy and expert melding of writing and research, recreates the disaster as experienced by those who endured it or perished in the attempt.

Order a signed copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

The Road Back

by Di Morrissey

Is it ever too late to change your life?

From the mountains to the valleys, from big cities to tiny towns, to the outback and our islands, Di Morrissey knows this country. She’s been there.

In The Road Back, Di weaves a tale of reconnection and starting over.

Journalist Chris Baxter is at a crossroads. Returning with his teenage daughter to his mother’s house in the beautiful township of Neverend, Chris hopes to pick up the pieces after his life takes an unexpected turn.

Sometimes taking the road back is the start of a journey forward.

Order a signed copy from Booktopia, Australia’s Local

Caroline Overington : Who Has Time to Read?

Author: Caroline OveringtonWalkley Award-winning journalist and bestselling author Caroline Overington ponders the age-old question, who has time to read?

Do you know that I’ve done in the last two months?

I’ve read three books.

That’s probably not amazing to anyone that reads a book a month – or even a book a week – or to people who have several books on the go at once … but it’s pretty amazing for me.

I’ve been writing a book a year for the past five years.

I’ve also got a job. I’m the associate editor of the iconic The Australian Women’s Weekly.  Just this month, I interviewed Anna Bligh, who is going through cancer treatment, and profiled the world’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, which involved going out to the Pilbara for several days.

Also this year, I’ve interviewed Ellen DeGeneres, in Los Angeles. And Helen Mirren, in London.  And Ricky Martin … and quite a few other people. I’m also involved in a long-running investigation into Carmel Brookes, a kind-hearted Brisbane woman who is missing at sea. I’m trying to find out what happened to her, and I’ve been to Thailand, trying to retrace her steps.

I also have two children – twins, aged 13. They’re doing year eight, so I’m helping out with homework, and making sure they eat well, and generally loving them a lot.

I have a husband. I’ve got a blue dog, and we’ve got a lizard. I volunteer at our local surf lifesaving club. I go to the personal trainer three times a week. I have friends that I like to see whenever I can … and my family is spread all over the country … so it’s not often that I get time to sit down and really lose myself in a great book, let alone three.

Maybe I just got lucky, but all three of the books I read were brilliant. All were by Australians – and I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt, to be truly lost in their pages. I felt like I was on holidays! Transported. Which is how a good book should make you feel.

Here are the books I read:

Stop PressClick here for more details or to buy Stop Press:The Last Days of Newspapers by Rachel Buchanan: I know Rachel (who, now I think of it, might technically be a New Zealander.) We used to work together at The Age in Melbourne. We were all kids then. The Age had so much money to spend on journalism. Everyone read it. Politicians shook their fists at it. Rachel’s has written about the slow decline in the paper’s circulation, about the giant presses that have fallen silent, and about the challenges currently facing the once-great lady. I wept a bit.


Click here for more details or to buy The Night GuestThe Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane: the main character is so loveable. She’s getting on a bit, and her husband has recently died. She thinks that a tiger is coming to visit her at night. She can hear it padding about on its big paws, in the lounge room. She tells her son, who lives abroad, and he gets concerned, and the next thing, a government worker turns up, to give the old lady a hand, but pretty much straight away, you can tell that something is not right with this government worker. I wept a bit more. This is a lovely book.


Click here for more details or to buy Murder in MississippiMurder in Mississippi by John Safran: this is a true crime book about how John met a white supremacist in Mississippi, and later became a Facebook – and even a real friend – of the black man who killed him. I didn’t weep with this one, except at the beauty of it. John’s book is one of the best pieces of sustained, rigorous journalism I’ve read in 20 years. It is absolutely magnificent –  smart, and wry, and emotional too.  Obviously, if you are going to buy one book this Booktoberfest, I think you should buy mine. But if you’ve already gone mine, buy John’s.


Thank you, Caroline. You’re always welcome on the Booktopia Blog!

Click here for more details about Caroline’s thrilling and controversial new novel No Place Like Home

Click here for more details or to buy No Place Like Home

No Place Like Home

By: Caroline Overington

From bestselling author and award-winning journalist Caroline Overington comes another thought-provoking and heart-rending story, that reaches from the heart of Bondi to a small village in Tanzania.

Shortly after 9.30 in the morning, a young man walks into Surf City, Bondi’s newest shopping complex. He’s wearing a dark grey hoodie – and a bomb around his neck.

Just a few minutes later he is locked in a shop on the upper floor. And trapped with him are four innocent bystanders.

For police chaplain Paul Doherty, called to the scene by Superintendent Boehm, it’s a story that will end as tragically as it began. For this is clearly no ordinary siege. The boy, known as Ali Khan, seems as frightened as his hostages and has yet to utter a single word.

The seconds tick by for the five in the shop: Mitchell, the talented schoolboy; Mouse, the shop assistant; Kimmi, the nail-bar technician; and Roger Callaghan, the real estate agent whose reason for being in Bondi that day is far from innocent.

And of course there’s Ali Khan. Is he the embodiment of evil, as the villagers in his Tanzanian birthplace believe? Or simply an innocent boy, betrayed at every turn, who just wants a place to call home?

About the Author

Caroline Overington is the Associate Editor of the iconic magazine, The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Caroline has won the Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism twice, and she’s a former winner of the Sir Keith Murdoch prize for journalism, and of the Blake Dawson prize.

She is the author of five bestselling novels: Ghost Child, I Came to Say Goodbye, Matilda is Missing, Sisters of Mercy and No Place Like Home.

Click here for more details about Caroline’s thrilling and controversial new novel No Place Like Home

Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John by Helen Trinca

In one of the most exciting releases of the year, Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John, Helen Trinca explores the life of one of Australia’s greatest writers, the reclusive Madeline St John.

Trinca, currently the Managing Director of The Australian, has tackled other weighty topics in the past with her acclaimed books Waterfront: The Battle that Changed Australia and Better than Sex: How a Whole Generation Got Hooked on Work. But these were public stories with public figures. Madeline St John on the other hand was a mysterious soul, a near hermit at the peak of her powers despite her celebrated works altering the Australian literary landscape forever. Little is known of her struggles with fame and fortune, which didn’t come until she was in her fifties with the release of The Women in Black in 1993.

At the age of fifteen Madeleine saw herself as a painter and pianist, but Ms Medway peered down at Madeleine during her entrance interview in 1957 and announced: ‘You know dear, I think you might write.’

Helen Trinca has captured the troubled life of Madeleine St John in this moving account of a remarkable writer. After the death of her mother when Madeleine was just twelve, she struggled to find her place in the world. Estranging herself from her family, and from Australia, she lived for a time in the US before moving to London where Robert Hughes, Germaine Greer, Bruce Beresford, Barry Humphries and Clive James were making their mark. When The Women in Black was published, it became clear what a marvellous writer Madeleine St John was.

Click here to by Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Don’t miss Bruce Beresford talking to Helen Trinca about trying to turn his friend Madeleine St John’s novel The Women in Black into a film.

Click here to see the video.

Praise for Madeline St John:

‘Seductive, hilarious, brilliantly observed, this novel shimmers with wit and tenderness.’
Helen Garner on The Women in Black

‘This book is like the perfect, vintage little black dress. It’s beautifully constructed, it evokes another time while being mysteriously classic and up-to-date, and it makes you feel happy. I love it.’
Kaz Cooke on The Women in Black

‘A major minor masterpiece, a witty and poignant snapshot of Sydney the year before yesterday.’
Barry Humphries on The Women in Black

‘It is a deliciously spare piece of prose that deftly and sympathetically mines the psychology of a break-up.’
Adelaide Advertiser on The Essence of the Thing

The Women In Black
by Madeline St John

At the very end of the Ladies’ Frocks Departments, past Cocktail Frocks, there was something very special, something quite, quite wonderful; but it wasn’t for everybody: that was the point. Because there, at the very end, there was a lovely arch, on which was written in curly letters Model Gowns.

In the famous F.G. Goode department store, Lisa is the new Sales Assistant (Temporary) in Ladies’ Cocktail Frocks. She is about to meet Magda, the glamorous Continental refugee and guardian of the rose-pink cave of Model Gowns.

Click here to buy The Women In Black from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

The Essence of the Thing
by Madeline St John

Nicola should never have stepped out to buy that pack of cigarettes because the man she discovers in her living room when she returns is not the adorable, straightforward, devoted Jonathan with whom she has been sharing her life and flat for the past six years. That Jonathan would never have simply, unilaterally, decided that she should, as he abruptly put it, ‘move out.’

So a shocked, grief-stricken Nicola packs her bags and sets out bravely on the bumpy course that will take her fro the hellish end of an affair to the essence of the thing. With her comic timing and tender vision the brilliant Madeleine St John, author of The Women in Black, takes us into the changing nature of the human heart.

Click here to buy The Essence of the Thing from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

VIDEO: Caroline Overington talks to Brett Osmond about her new book Sisters of Mercy

Sisters of Mercy

by Caroline Overington

Sisters of Mercy is the haunting story of two sisters – one has vanished, the other is behind bars…

Snow Delaney was born a generation and a world away from her sister, Agnes.

Until recently, neither even knew of the other’s existence. They came together only for the reading of their father’s will – when Snow discovered, to her horror, that she was not the sole beneficiary of his large estate.

Now Snow is in prison and Agnes is missing, disappeared in the eerie red dust that blanketed Sydney from dawn on September 23, 2009.

With no other family left, Snow turns to crime journalist Jack Fawcett, protesting her innocence in a series of defiant letters from prison. Has she been unfairly judged? Or will Jack’s own research reveal a story even more shocking than the one Snow wants to tell?

With Sisters of Mercy Caroline Overington once again proves she is one of the most exciting new novelists of recent years.

Click here to buy Sisters of Mercy from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Caroline Overington, author of Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye, Matilda Is Missing and now Sisters of Mercy, answers Five Facetious Questions

Caroline Overington, author of Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye, Matilda Is Missing and now Sisters of Mercy, answers Five Facetious Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Caroline Overington

author of  Ghost Child, I Came To Say Goodbye, Matilda Is Missing and now Sisters of Mercy

Five Facetious Questions


1. Every writer spends at least one afternoon going from bookshop to bookshop making sure his or her latest book is facing out and neatly arranged. How far have you gone to draw attention to your own books in a shop?

It’s not a book shop story, but I once asked my Mum to carry a copy of my latest book onto the plane when she was coming to visit me, and to gasp and says things like, ‘wow, this is amazing!’ while pretending to read it. She just rolled her eyes at me.

2. So you’re a published author, almost a minor celebrity and for some reason you’ve been let into a party full of ‘A-listers’ – what do you do?

There is a very good chance that I wouldn’t know who anybody was. I would be bumping into Zayne or Payne or Layne or whatever his name is from One Direction, and saying things like, “And why exactly aren’t you in bed at this late hour?”

And if by chance my 12-year-old daughter was with me, she’d be dying of embarrassment.

3. Some write because they feel compelled to, some are Artists and do it for the Muse, some do it for the cash (one buck twenty a book) and some do it because they think it makes them more attractive to the opposite sex – why do you do write? (NB: don’t say -‘cause I can’t sing, tap or paint!)

I’m attracted to industries with what might some have cruelly called the “dying industries” …. Besides being a novelist, I’m also a newspaper journalist.

My ancestors were coopers and blacksmiths, I’m sure.

4. Have you ever come to the end of writing a particularly fine paragraph, paused momentarily, chuffed with your own genius, only to find you’ve been sitting at the computer nude or with your dress half-way over your head or shaving cream on your face or toilet paper sticking out the back of your undies or paused to find that you’re singing We are the Champions at the top of your voice, having exchanged the words ‘we are’ for ‘I am’ and dropping an ‘s’?

No? Well, what’s your most embarrassing writing moment?

It’s not book related, but I was once asked to cover an important match (game? tournament? whatever) between St Kilda, and some other Victorian football team, maybe Fitzroy … this was ages ago, when I was a cub sports reporter for The Age.

I’d never covered football before, and I went to a lot of trouble to make the copy sing, and quite proudly handed it in.

The sports editor, a busy and wonderful man, read it and said, ‘yes, lovely, marvellous description of the lawn and the leaves and the white picket fence around the ground … but what was the score, Caroline?’

I said, ‘the score?’

He said, ‘Yes, the score. As in, who won??’

It hadn’t occurred to me to take that down, but apparently people want to know.

5. Rodin placed his thinker on the loo – where and/or when do you seem to get your best ideas?

I go out to parties and listen very carefully and when somebody says something smart and funny, and after everyone has stopped laughing, I say: ‘oh, that’s good! Do you have copyright on that?’

Nine times in 10 they’ll be chuffed and they’ll say, ‘Nah, you can have it’ not thinking I actually will steal it from them. But I very definitely will.

Caroline, thank you for playing.

Booktopians are familiar with Caroline’s novels, we have gobbled them down one after the next. We can’t wait for Caroline’s new novel, Sisters of Mercy which is out in November – details below…

Sisters of Mercy

by Caroline Overington

Sisters of Mercy is the haunting story of two sisters – one has vanished, the other is behind bars…

Snow Delaney was born a generation and a world away from her sister, Agnes.

Until recently, neither even knew of the other’s existence. They came together only for the reading of their father’s will – when Snow discovered, to her horror, that she was not the sole beneficiary of his large estate.

Now Snow is in prison and Agnes is missing, disappeared in the eerie red dust that blanketed Sydney from dawn on September 23, 2009.

With no other family left, Snow turns to crime journalist Jack Fawcett, protesting her innocence in a series of defiant letters from prison. Has she been unfairly judged? Or will Jack’s own research reveal a story even more shocking than the one Snow wants to tell?

With Sisters of Mercy Caroline Overington once again proves she is one of the most exciting new novelists of recent years.

Click here to buy Sisters of Mercy from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Caroline Overington : Five Fiction Favourites for 2011

Caroline Overington

author of Matilda is Missing,
I Came To Say Goodbye

and Ghost Child


The 5 best novels I read this year are…

The Spare Room

by Helen Garner

Blurb: Helen lovingly prepares her spare room for her friend Nicola. She is coming to visit for three weeks, to receive treatment she believes will cure her cancer.

From the moment Nicola staggers off the plane, gaunt and hoarse but still somehow grand, Helen becomes her nurse, her guardian angel and her stony judge.

The Spare Room tells a story of compassion, humour and rage. The two women—one sceptical, one stubbornly serene—negotiate an unmapped path through Nicola’s bizarre therapy, stumbling towards the novel’s terrible and transcendent finale.

‘A perfect novel, imbued with all Garner’s usual clear-eyed grace but with some other magnificent dimension that hides between the lines of her simple conversational voice. How is it that she can enter this heart-breaking territory—the dying friend who comes to stay—and make it not only bearable, but glorious, and funny? There is no answer except: Helen Garner is a great writer; The Spare Room is a great book.’ Peter Carey


Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

by John Berendt

Blurb: Genteel society ladies who compare notes on their husbands’ suicides. A hilariously foul-mouthed black drag queen. A voodoo priestess who works her roots in the graveyard at midnight. A morose inventor who owns a bottle of poison powerful enough to kill everyone in town. A prominent antiques dealer who hangs a Nazi flag from his window to disrupt the shooting of a movie. And a redneck gigolo whose conquests describe him as a ‘walking streak of sex’.

These are some of the real residents of Savannah, Georgia, a city whose eccentric mores are unerringly observed – and whose dirty linen is gleefully aired – in this utterly irresistible book. At once a true-crime murder story and a hugely entertaining and deliciously perverse travelogue, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is as bracing and intoxicating as half-a-dozen mint juleps.


The Secret Garden

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Blurb: ‘Mary is a tough feisty character, who manages to turn a whole household, and the lives of those in it, completely upside down… The book is brim full of magic and joy’  – Sunday Telegraph.

Mary Lennox is an orphan who is sent to live with her uncle at gloomy Misselthwaite Manor. Neglected and lonely, she begins to explore her new home and learns of a secret garden that her uncle has forbidden anyone to enter.

A friendly robin shows Mary the key to the garden and she discovers a world she could never have imagined…

The Secret Garden has enchanted generations of children and adults alike.


Blood Meridian

by Cormac McCarthy

Blurb: Blood Meridian is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West.

Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

‘McCarthy’s achievement is to establish a new mythology which is as potent and vivid as that of the movies, yet one which has absolutely the opposite effect …He is a great writer’ – “Independent”.

‘I have rarely encountered anything as powerful, as unsettling, or as memorable as Blood Meridian …A nightmare odyssey’ – “Evening Standard”.

‘His masterpiece …The book reads like a conflation of the “Inferno”, “The Iliad” and “Moby Dick”. I can only declare that “Blood Meridian” is unlike anything I have read in recent years, and seems to me an extraordinary, breathtaking achievement’ – John Banville.


The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

A magical love story set to be the publishing sensation of 2011

Blurb: In 1886 a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, constructed entirely in black and white, the Cirque des Rêves delights all who wander its circular paths and warm themselves at its bonfire. There are contortionists, performing cats, carousels and illusionists – all the trappings of an ordinary circus. But this is no conventional spectacle. Some tents contain clouds, some ice. The circus seems almost to cast a spell over its aficionados, who call themselves the rêveurs – the dreamers. And who is the sinister man in the grey suit who watches over it all? Behind the scenes a dangerous game is being played out by two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who, at the behest of their masters, are forced to test the very limits of the imagination – and of love.

A feast for the senses, a fin-de-siècle fantasia of magic and mischief, and the most original love story since The Time Traveller’s Wife, The Night Circus is an extraordinary blend of fantasy and reality. It will dazzle readers young and old with its virtuoso performance, and who knows, they might not want to leave the world it creates.


I reviewed Caroline’s new novel Matilda is Missing recently – here is a taste of that review:

I read Matilda is Missing in a few days. I was hooked within pages and found myself reading well into the night. I would pick it up in between times, too, snatching bite sized portions of the story while I was rushing to get ready in the morning – while the kettle boiled, before the toaster popped and while the kids printed off last night’s homework.

What surprised me most about my reading of Matilda is Missing was that I was reading it at all. If I were flicking through a newspaper or reading a magazine and I came across a story about the family court, or a grandparent’s right to access their grandchildren, or equal rights for fathers in divorce cases, I wouldn’t read beyond the headlines.

But I read Matilda is Missing.

I picked it up on a whim, curious to see what all the fuss was about (The success of Overington’s last novel, I Came to Say Goodbye, has the book world salivating over the sales potential of Matilda is Missing). I do that a lot. I pick up review copies here in the office and flick through a few pages, read a bit and then generally drop the book back on the pile. We have so many books to review. You can’t read them all. Read the full review…

My personal picks for 2011: Novels you can give as gifts with confidence

This year I read more novels by living, breathing writers than by stone cold dead writers. This is a first for me.

However, if the truth be told, many of the contemporary novels I started were left unfinished. It’s partly due to the nature of the job. Publishers throw box loads of fiction at us to review and I can’t read them all. And, it is partly due to the state of modern fiction – I expect a lot from the books I read and very few contemporary writers deliver.

That said, when I do fall for a novel, I fall hard.

The books of 2011 I recommend you read yourself and give as gifts to others are:

Australian Fiction

Last Summer by Kylie Ladd

By the simple act of telling a story a good book can carry a light into the dark and unexamined corners of a reader’s life. The darkest of these unexamined corners is occupied by the single irrefutable truth of our existence, death. Left in the shadows this stark fact can take on all of the attributes of a nightmarish spectre. Left unexamined we may be left entirely unprepared when death intrudes upon our own lives. Something it will do, eventually.

Last Summer by Kylie Ladd, begins with the sudden death of Rory Buchanan, captain of the local cricket team, a man in the prime of his life. We immediately enter the lives of those Rory left behind – his wife, Colleen, his sister, Kelly, her husband, Joe, and Rory’s friends and team-mates, Nick, James and Pete, and their wives, Laine, Anita and Trinity as they, in their various ways, cope with Rory’s death and face up to the fact that life does, and will, go on without him.

Last Summer is told from the points of view of these nine characters with full chapters from one point of view only. This method of storytelling requires strong characterisation so that each individual point of view provides a unique perspective on the events. By choosing suburban Melbourne as her setting, and the cricket club as her focal point, Ladd has made things difficult for herself. There is much that is necessarily shared by all of these nine characters. They are all white, they are all Continue reading


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