Get Reading with Booktopia

Here is a question for you. Is there a scent that you associate with books? I don’t mean the smell of the paper, or the leather when you walk into a room full of old books. I mean, is there a smell that immediately transports you to reading heaven? Do you associate a perfume with a particular memory of reading, or a particular book?

For me, it is an easy ask. The minute I catch even a whiff of jasmine, I am in sensory heaven – jasmine poking through the paling fence, a sprig or two tucked behind one ear, sun on my back, book in my hand, sheltered from the cold early spring wind in a walled courtyard, pot of tea steaming by my Continue reading

Winners of the 2011 Australian Book Industry Awards

What follows is a selection of the winners announced at last night’s awards ceremony.

ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2011


WINNER: Bereft

written by Chris Womersley, published by Scribe Publications

It is 1919. The Great War has ended, but the Spanish flu epidemic is raging across Australia. Schools are closed, state borders are guarded by armed men, and train travel is severely restricted. There are rumours it is the end of the world.

In the town of Flint, Quinn Walker returns to the home he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of an unspeakable crime. Aware that his father and uncle would surely hang him, Quinn hides in the hills surrounding Flint. There, he meets the orphan Sadie Fox — a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about the crime than she should.

A searing gothic novel of love, longing and justice, Bereft is about the suffering endured by those who go to war and those who are forever left behind.

‘Bereft is a dark, brooding story of war, family secrets and a man’s search for justice. Chris Womersley knows how to shine light into the darkest corners of rural Australia.’ – MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

‘Bereft is a beautiful novel . . . Womersley writes with such compelling power it is barely possible to put the book down.’ – DEBRA ADELAIDE

Order a copy now.

Read Chris’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here


WINNER OF THE BOOKTOPIA BLOG
TOTALLY UNOFFICIAL POLL: Continue reading

A shortlist of the 2011 ABIA shortlists…

Have your ‘non-binding and totally for fun‘ say – vote in our polls below.

Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2011


Bereft

written by Chris Womersley, published by Scribe Publications

It is 1919. The Great War has ended, but the Spanish flu epidemic is raging across Australia. Schools are closed, state borders are guarded by armed men, and train travel is severely restricted. There are rumours it is the end of the world.

In the town of Flint, Quinn Walker returns to the home he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of an unspeakable crime. Aware that his father and uncle would surely hang him, Quinn hides in the hills surrounding Flint. There, he meets the orphan Sadie Fox — a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about the crime than she should.

A searing gothic novel of love, longing and justice, Bereft is about the suffering endured by those who go to war and those who are forever left behind.

‘Bereft is a dark, brooding story of war, family secrets and a man’s search for justice. Chris Womersley knows how to shine light into the darkest corners of rural Australia.’ – MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

‘Bereft is a beautiful novel . . . Womersley writes with such compelling power it is barely possible to put the book down.’ – DEBRA ADELAIDE

Order a copy now.

Read Chris’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here


How it Feels

written by Brendan Cowell, published by Picador

‘I had no idea how free we were. That’s how free I was.’

An old friend, a best friend, a first love and the dreamer Neil Cronk who connects them all…

Four schoolfriends are on the verge of adulthood and the next 12 hours will change the course of their lives… Friendships will be broken, virginity lost, love unleashed and secrets buried.

A decade later, one is dead, one is famous, two are getting married, and the truth is about to erupt.

Wildly funny, brutal, tender and true, How It Feels is a coming-of-age story set in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire with stopovers in Bathurst and London. Brendan Cowell’s electrifying debut novel is a devastating ode to youth, capturing the beauty of growing up by the beach, and the darkness which moves beneath its surface.

Because this is how it feels.

Order a copy now

Read Brendan’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here


Rocks in the Belly

written by Jon Bauer, published by Continue reading

Winners of the 2011 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards Announced

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Arts Minister, Simon Crean, today announced the winners of the 2011 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

FICTION:

WINNER: Traitor – Stephen Daisley

In the battle-smoke and chaos of Gallipoli, a young New Zealand soldier helps a Turkish doctor fighting to save a boy’s life. Then a shell bursts nearby; the blast that should have killed them both consigns them instead to the same military hospital.
Mahmoud is a Sufi. A whirling dervish, he says, of the Mevlevi order. He tells David stories: of arriving in London with a pocketful of dried apricots; of Majnun, the man mad for love; and of the saint who flew to paradise on a lion skin. You are God, we are all gods, Mahmoud tells David; and a bond grows between them. A bond so strong that David will betray his country for his friend.

Stephen Daisley’s astonishing debut novel is a story of war and of love—how each changes everything, forever. Evoking horror and beauty and a profound sense of the possibility of transformation, Traitor is that rarest of things: a work of fiction that will transport the reader, heart and soul, into another realm.

Buy here

Biography

Stephen Daisley was born in New Zealand in 1955. He has served in the New Zealand Army and worked at a variety of jobs in New Zealand and Australia including on sheep and cattle stations, cutting bush and scrub, driving trucks, doing road works and bar work, and on oil and gas construction sites. Traitor is his first novel. He now lives in Perth.

Judges’ Comments

Stephen Daisley’s first novel, Traitor is brilliant, poignant and provoking. Its tactile, redolent evocation of the physical world of sheep-farming in New Zealand and of warfare at Gallipoli—while this recalls material in many Australian novels—is also and utterly distinctive. Myths and propaganda are quietly set aside. The moral imperatives to which rare (and in this case reticent) individuals can attend are strikingly set forth. Here is another arresting renovation of Continue reading

Amazing Face, Bossypants and the great Zoe Foster Tina Fey face-off: review (of sorts) by Toni Whitmont

The new it-book in fashion publishing is Amazing Face by Zoe Foster. Our customers can’t get enough of it and it has only just on the market. In fact, it is scary how many copies we have sold over the last few days. While that is a great shame if you are say, Tina Obrecht, who just won  the Orange Prize with The Tiger’s Wife, or Kim Scott, whose That Deadman Dance has won the Miles Franklin, or AC Grayling whose supremely wonderful The Good Book is sadly languishing in our warehouse,  it probably says a lot about our youth-obsessed, celebrity-based culture.

That is not to say that Amazing Face is a dud. It is not. In fact, you probably can’t get a better make-up book. It is chock full of tips, how-to’s, must-haves. And it is presented with a magazine editor’s eye for layouts and colour. It is really good to look at – it is almost make-up porn. And it is so much more fun than Paula’s beauty bible Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me – itself indispensible, but as reference collection it takes itself oh-so-seriously.

You can get a really good idea about Amazing Face here - the clips, the description and even an excerpt from our Zoe.

Of course, if you are a wee bit snarly, a wee bit cyncial (who me?) or maybe you’ve just can’t come at one more miracle cream (who me? again), you may prefer an altogether different take on the business of being beautiful. Maybe the perspective of the mercurial but always funny Tina Fey, she of Saturday Night Live, Mean Girls, Sarah Palin, 30 Rock and now happily, Bossypants, fame.

While Zoe Foster may be the editor of a  beauty website (primped.com.au), Tina Fey has been Continue reading

Kim Scott wins the 2011 Miles Franklin Literary Award for That Deadman Dance

Congratulations Kim Scott


WINNER: That Deadman’s Dance

Judges’ Formal Comments:

 ‘Kaya.

 Writing such a word, Bobby Wabalanginy couldn’t help but smile. Nobody had done writ that before, he thought. Nobody ever writ hello or yes that way!’

This is the beginning of Kim Scott’s That Deadman Dance, a powerful and innovative fiction that shifts our sense of what an historical novel can achieve. Its language is shaped by the encounter of Noongar and Australian English, producing new writing and speech.

Its central character occupies both indigenous and settler worlds, and yet is contained by neither. Its narration of the early contact of British colonisers, American whalers and the indigenous Noongar people on the south coast of Western Australia in the early nineteenth century is both historical and magical. We see and feel the hardship, tragedies and aspirations of the settlement, and at the same time we are transported into the mystical and spiritual life worlds of Wabalanginy and his people.

That Deadman’s Dance is alive in the spaces between these two worlds as they collide and collaborate. It tells the story of the rapid destruction of Noongar people and their traditions. At the same time, there is the enchanting possibility of the birth of a new world in the strange song, dance, ceremony and language that are produced by these encounters of very different peoples.

Big-hearted, moving and richly rewarding, That Deadman Dance is set in the first decades of the 19th century in the area around what is now Albany, Western Australia. In playful, musical prose, the book explores the early contact between the Aboriginal Noongar people and the first European settlers.

The novel’s hero is a young Noongar man named Bobby Wabalanginy. Clever, resourceful and eager to please, Bobby befriends the new arrivals, joining them hunting whales, tilling the land, exploring the hinterland and establishing the fledgling colony. He is even welcomed into a prosperous local white family where he falls for the daughter, Christine, a beautiful young woman who sees no harm in a liaison with a native.

But slowly – by design and by accident – things begin to change. Not everyone is happy with how the colony is developing. Stock mysteriously start to disappear; crops are destroyed; there are “accidents” and injuries on both sides. As the Europeans impose ever stricter rules and regulations in order to keep the peace, Bobby’s Elders decide they must respond in kind. A friend to everyone, Bobby is forced to take sides: he must choose between the old world and the new, his ancestors and his new friends. Inexorably, he is drawn into a series of events that will forever change not just the colony but the future of Australia… Order a copy now.

Read Kim’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here


The two runners-up for the 2011 Miles Franklin Award are…


When Colts Ran by Roger McDonald

‘There was nothing more definite when it came to promise than the worn old earth.’

In this sweeping epic of friendship, toil, hope and failed promise, multi-award-winning author Roger McDonald follows the story of Kingsley Colts as he chases the ghost of himself through the decades, and in and out of the lives and affections of the citizens of ‘The Isabel’, a slice of Australia scattered with prospectors, artists, no-hopers and visionaries. Against this spacious backdrop of sheep stations, timeless landscapes and the Five Alls pub, men play out their fates, conduct their rivalries and hope for the best.

Major Dunc Buckler, ‘misplaced genius and authentic ratbag’, scours the country for machinery in a World War that will never find him. Wayne Hovell, slave to ‘moral duty’, carries the physical and emotional scars of Colts’s early rebellion, but also finds himself the keeper of his redemption. Normie Powell, son of a rugby-playing minister, finds his own mysticism as a naturalist, while warm-hearted stock dealer Alan Hooke longs for understanding in a house full of women. They are men shaped by the obligations and expectations of a previous generation, all striving to define themselves in their own language, on their own terms.

‘When Colts Ran’, written in Roger McDonald’s rich and piercingly observant style, in turns humorous and hard-bitten, charts the ebb and flow of human fortune, and our fraught desire to leave an indelible mark on society and those closest to us. It shows how loyalties shape us in the most unexpected ways. It is the story of how men ‘strike at beauty’ as they fall to the earth. Order a copy now.

Read Roger’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here


Bereft by Chris Womersley

It is 1919. The Great War has ended, but the Spanish flu epidemic is raging across Australia. Schools are closed, state borders are guarded by armed men, and train travel is severely restricted. There are rumours it is the end of the world.

In the town of Flint, Quinn Walker returns to the home he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of an unspeakable crime. Aware that his father and uncle would surely hang him, Quinn hides in the hills surrounding Flint. There, he meets the orphan Sadie Fox — a mysterious young girl who seems to know more about the crime than she should.

A searing gothic novel of love, longing and justice, Bereft is about the suffering endured by those who go to war and those who are forever left behind.

‘Bereft is a dark, brooding story of war, family secrets and a man’s search for justice.  Chris Womersley knows how to shine light into the darkest corners of rural Australia.’ – MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

‘Bereft is a beautiful novel . . . Womersley writes with such compelling power it is barely possible to put the book down.’ – DEBRA ADELAIDE Order a copy now.

Read Chris’s answers to my Ten Terrifying Questions here

To all three brilliant authors…
Congratulations from Booktopia.


The three contenders for the 2011 Miles Franklin Literary Award, Chris Womersley, Kim Scott and Roger McDonald, answer Ten Terrifying Questions

Miles Franklin

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

the three contenders for the 2011 Miles Franklin Literary Award,

Chris Womersley,

Kim Scott

and Roger McDonald,

Ten Terrifying Questions

——————————–

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourselves – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Chris Womersley: I was born in Melbourne in 1968, and have lived in that city for most of my life, aside from periods travelling overseas and living in Sydney and the UK. I went to a few schools, but ended up at Melbourne High School where I did my HSC.

Kim Scott: Born in Perth, Western Australia, but moved to Albany when I was three or four years old and did all my schooling there. Albany is my home town.

My father’s family had lived a couple of hours drive east of Albany, at what’s now Ravensthorpe for the generations since its proclamation, and lived in the vicinity since human society was formed there. But Ravensthorpe has a bad rep with most Aboriginal people today because of a lot of killing that occurred there in the earliest years of its colonisation. I didn’t even know about it until I was a young adult. There’s much food for thought, contemplating one’s Aboriginal family raised in those circumstances, having reconciled themselves with their Continue reading

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