Book Reviews

Throwback Thursday: 5 Books To Read At The Beach This Summer

Who doesn’t love to lay out on the beach with a good book, and a generous layer of SPF?

Rather than taking a thick, heavy book to the beach, we have picked our top five favourites which are easy to read, and won’t tire you out. Leave the Hunger Games for another occasion, are we right?

RELATED: Top 5 Best Erotica Reads

Bonjour Tristesse

Francoise Sagan

Nothing else will get you in the state of mind of summer than this moody book by Francoise Sagan. Set in the French Riviera, protagonist 17 year old Cecile laments about her summer with her doting father and his new wife. Cecile’s holiday is quickly turned upside down when the love of her father is diverted else wear, and she is free to roam the streets of St Tropez alone. Not only was this book a hit in France during the mid 1950’s, but it was also penned when Sagan was just 17 years old.

5 Books For The Beach This Summer

Shantaram

Gregory David Roberts

Now, we said no thick books but this one is a must-read during the summer. Shantaram tells the story of a convicted bank robber and addict who escapes from prison and flees to India. What he finds there is unlike anything he has seen or experienced back at home, both good and bad.

5 Books For The Beach This Summer

Summer Crossing

Truman Capote

Summer Crossing stands as Truman Capote’s first novel, which was buried away for many years and only published in 2005. Set in New York City in 1945, Capote follows the story of Grady and Clyde who meet by chance, and start a romance which inevitably ends in tears.

While the novel just stands alone at 142 pages, it will have you longing about a summer in New York City for the rest of your life.

5 Books For The Beach This Summer

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Sophie Kinsella

If you want a light and fun book to read whilst bathing on the beach, then this is the series for you. Confessions of a Shopaholic is perfect for the girl who loves to shop, and isn’t ashamed about it! If you’re really hooked after the first book, there are six more to the series!

5 Books For The Beach This Summer

This Side of Paradise

F.Scott Fitzgerald

This list wouldn’t complete with a touch of Fitzgerald, right? We’re finishing up with his first novel which was a knock-out success, and was one of the first books to speak about ‘The Lost Generation.’ Love, faith, and rejection are the main themes, and wouldn’t be lost with loyal Fitzgerald fans.

5 Books For The Beach This Summer

Images via Good Reads, Books Wearing Blazers, Josie Green

August 20, 2015

Author Tells: Sex, Lies And Scandal On The High Seas

Former cruise ship worker Cathryn Chapman, 40, has written a saucy fiction novel loosely based on her seven-year adventures living on the high seas. Sex, Lies & Cruising, a self-published work by the Brisbane author, is the first in a trilogy and follows the international exploits of main character Ellie Green. Cathryn’s second book, Love, Drugs & New York, is due to be released in October 2015.

RELATED: Hot Sex Secrets: Can Men Have Sex Without Ejaculating?

Here, SHE SAID talks to the author about her amazing journey from travelling the world – working on cruise ships and living in London, New York, Paris and South America – through to settling down in Brisbane with a husband and baby boy and staying in one place long enough to finally write her first novel.

Sex, Lies & Cruising is for sale as an eBook and paperback at Amazon.com, Apple iBook Store, Barnes & Noble, Nook, Kobo, Book Depository, Booktopia, and most other online retail channels. Local bookstores will also be able to place paperback orders for customers through international supplier Ingram.

Why and when did you come to work on cruise ships? What attracted you to it?

I took a photography subject when I was studying a Bachelor of Business at university. My lecturer told me one of his ex-students was working as a photographer on a cruise ship and was having a fabulous time. A couple of years later when I was living in London, I bought the photography magazine he said she’d found the advertisement in and applied. I wanted to do something different and was always attracted to travel so I gave it a go!

What jobs did you perform aboard the ships?

On my first stint on ships in my 20s, I worked in the photo team both working in the photo shop and taking photos. Ten years later I went back to a different cruise line to work as a member of the cruise staff, on the cruise director’s team.

What did you love and hate most about ship life?

I loved meeting people from around the world and seeing the ports for the first time. I enjoy learning about different cultures and discovering new places.

I hated the way many people behaved on the ship. There was a lot of lying, cheating, backstabbing and ugly competitiveness. Friendships could be very shallow – mostly because people knew they were unlikely to ever see each other again once their contracts were up. Finding someone you could trust was rare. Of course, there are lots of lovely people just there to do a job and save money. Some of those people are still my friends today.

sex, cruise ships, relationships, books, australian authors

What is the most shocking and/or scandalous thing you saw or experienced on the high seas?

The cheating and lying I saw every day never failed to be shocking. I wasn’t an angel, but I draw the line at cheating on your partner at home and stealing your friend’s girlfriend/boyfriend. I saw that all too often.

How did cruise-ship life impact your romantic relationships?

I was probably too trusting and ended up getting my heart broken. There’s a saying that cruise ship life goes at four times the speed of real life, so everything is fast-paced and people dive head-first into the lifestyle. Partying, romance, fun – it’s all happening at a rapid speed! Although I do know a number of happy couples who met on ships, it’s not the first place I’d go to look for real love!

You’ve been on 100 dates: what love/life advice would you give to young women?

Firstly, to clarify what I mean in terms of dates: we’re talking going out to a place, not sleeping with people. I went through a phase of regular online dating – including Brisbane, London, NYC and Paris – so I met all kinds of people! I did want to meet someone special, but I also wanted to get out of the house. In Brisbane, I had a crazy flatmate and in NYC I was bored at home alone.

These dates mostly involved just a coffee or a wine, occasionally dinner. I used to plan the shortest date I could in case there was no chemistry. If there wasn’t anything, I would leave after one drink, politely saying: “Thanks for coming to meet me. I really appreciate it. I just don’t feel the chemistry I would need to pursue a relationship, so I’m off. Bye!” That’s my first bit of advice to young women: plan a brief date in mutual territory. Don’t let the guy know where you live until you’ve gone out with him at least five or six times. Don’t be alone with him until the tenth date. Putting a number on it helps keep it simple and above board. I won’t say I followed this rule 100 per cent of the time, but it was certainly my goal.

My biggest life lesson in all my dating experience has been about trusting your gut instinct. On more than one occasion over the years, I was in a situation where I felt like the guy wasn’t being honest with me – and that ranged from guys I had just met for coffee, or guys I had been out with a few times, or even had a relationship with. Read up on the term ‘gaslighting’ – it’s a really fascinating concept and makes you realise how often men take advantage of your trusting nature!

I met a really handsome man in London who asked me out on the tube. I went out to lunch with him a few days later and a week after that he met me during my dinner break in my evening job. He told me all these stories about being an ex-professional basketball player and now an actor. If I asked him any questions about whom his agent was or who did his headshots (because at that time, I was pursuing a theatre career too), he would get all weird and defensive. He tried to make out like I was being intrusive, but I knew in my heart that something wasn’t right. It wasn’t even the basketball/acting thing – something just felt off but I tell you, he was really sexy. Think Henry Simmons meets Taye Diggs. Not the type of guy you want to disregard too easily!

I told him I didn’t want to see him again; that I knew he was lying to me. He questioned me about what he had said or done that made me suspicious and probably for the first time in my life, I said, “I don’t even know but it doesn’t matter. I feel it in my heart and I’m going to trust myself.” I did have to end up changing my number, but that’s another story. The moral of the story is to trust your gut!

sex, cruise ships, relationships, books, australian authors

Would you recommend a life on the high seas?

It depends what you’re looking for. It’s great for saving money if you’re strict with yourself, which is very hard! You get bored so it’s easy just to go to the crew bar every night – especially when everyone else is going too. Depending what ship you’re on, you can see a lot of great places.

I would recommend it to a single person who is looking for something different and fun to do or trying to save money. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone in a relationship – whether your partner is at home, or with you on the ship. It’s just not an environment which is conducive to thriving relationships.

What made you leave the cruise ship industry?

I was sick of the environment. I had worked on ships for less than a year in total. I did two contracts a decade apart – and both times I resigned before my contract was up because the environment wasn’t for me. The final straw was when I got my heart broken. The guy I was seeing was really deceptive and I had continually given him the benefit of the doubt. In the end, a close male friend of mine came to me and said he had just found my boyfriend in bed with another woman, whose fiancé was on vacation. I was tempted to go down and catch them, but I knew I couldn’t face it. I resigned the next morning and booked a flight to Paris instead.

What did you do next?

I moved to Paris for a while to pursue a singing career, until I realised it was a very small industry. Still, at least I got to live in Paris, which had long been a dream. I studied French and ate way too many tarte au citron!

I was still itching to try and further my singing career so I moved to London again and got an evening job in a merchant bank so I could study performance or attend auditions during the day. I studied singing, dancing, acting and accents. I also spent a semester in NYC studying dance full-time, as I felt my dancing was letting me down in auditions.

When I got back to London, I was offered a singing job in Cornwall, on the south coast of England. I worked as a resident entertainer in a holiday park. It was my Dirty Dancing experience!

What gave you the idea to write a book?

I’ve always enjoyed writing (and reading) and I suppose I always found it came naturally. When I was 12 years old my English teacher and I had a false start when she didn’t believe I’d written the sensual poem I showed her (I literally had no experience with boys). Two years later, she declared I was the most talented writer she’d ever taught and encouraged me to become an author. “You could write for Mills & Boon right now,” she said.

I pushed that idea to the side and spent the next 20 or so years doing a variety of other things. I left my ‘sensible’ career in marketing/PR a number of times, each time declaring, “I’ll never work in an office again!”, then travelling the world and doing all the things I mentioned above. I even started my own spray-tan business, but always ended up working back in an office.

I always had a creative fire which needed to be fuelled and it took until I fell pregnant a few years ago for me to finally say to my husband, “I’m ready to write a book now.” People had often suggested I write a book about my life, but a memoir hadn’t felt right, I knew I was a fiction author. I have more novels planned for the future – about a wide range of women’s fiction topics. I’m in it for the long haul.

Author Tells: Sex, Lies And Scandal On The High Seas

 

What was the book writing process like?

I enlisted a mentor who worked with me to set up my story structure, decide on my characters and plan the outline. I started out with another story idea, but soon changed my mind and decided I was going to write a romantic comedy inspired by the time I’d spent on cruise ships.

When my son went down to sleep at 6-6.30pm, I would start writing. Even if I was tired, I would sit down for that period of time and just write something. Some days that turned into three hours and 3000 words. I chipped away at the book a bit each day and completed the last 13 chapters in about three months. By New Year’s Eve, I had finished! The editing process took roughly a year on and off as well.

I tried to find an agent, but at the same time the idea of self-publishing really appealed to me. Every day when I woke up, a voice would yell in my ear, “You need to self-publish!” so in the end I listened, and here I am.

Do you expect the book to do well?

I really hope it does well. That is the dream and why I’ve pushed so hard for over three years now to get it out into the world. I took out a loan to promote the book because I felt that if I wanted people to believe in me, then I had to ‘back’ myself. I edited it about 10 times and worked with professional editors and a cover designer, because you can only have one debut. I didn’t want to spend 10 years writing many novels before I finally made a living. I realise that 99% of authors live that way and I totally respect it but I wanted to see what I could achieve now, rather than waiting to finish the trilogy.

I set myself a goal to sell one million copies by Christmas. We’ll see what happens! I’m a long way from being a full-time author. I still have a job four days a week but I work with great people so I’m happy to be there and make a difference where I can.

How did you meet your husband?

We met in the aformentioned holiday park in the UK. I was the resident entertainer and he was a bartender/maintenance man/cleaner, although he was actually a trained chef and had gone there on a professional English program where he thought he’d be cooking. We had both worked there for weeks and never spoken. The owners of the holiday park were a bit strange and told me I wasn’t supposed to socialise with the others, as they were basically ‘beneath’ me. They told the other guys the same thing – not to ‘bother’ the entertainer.

One day I asked a couple of them if they wanted to have the chicken curry I was making. That’s when I learned Andres was a chef. We talked while I cooked, then while we ate, and four hours later I was terribly disappointed to have to start work for the evening. I felt like in those four hours we had talked about everything that is important in this world – love, family, children, religion, politics and world peace. He was everything I wanted in a man. Six weeks later, we were engaged. We’ve been together more than six years now and are happily married with a son turning four later this year. It’s been a great journey.

What’s next for you?

Apart from spending lots of time promoting Sex, Lies & Cruising, I’ve started working on the sequel, Love, Drugs & New York. It follows Ellie on the next leg of her journey. I’m also working on selling Sex, Lies & Cruising as a TV series. My publicist in LA has a contact in a major studio who is very excited about the prospect. She feels it’s something that would work well in the industry right now and would be good as a half hour comedy format (think Sex and the City at sea). Finally, I’ve just started a course about becoming a professional screenwriter in Hollywood. I am exploring my options of pursuing a career as a feature film writer, which I’d like to balance with writing more books. I’ll keep you posted how that goes!

July 21, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Top 5 Best Erotica Reads

If you loved E L James’ raunchy novel Fifty Shades of Grey and need replacement erotica with which to blow your hair back this winter – celebrated Brisbane erotica author Krissy Kneen has the answer. And Kneen should know what makes for good, sexy, sensual erotica – the type that’s so good it makes you sex-ready – she is the author of Swallow the Sound, a collection of short erotic fiction; her memoir, Affection, was published in 2009 and shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award and the ABIA Award in 2010.

She is also the author of the erotic adventure, Triptych, which was published in 2011. Steeplechase, published in 2013, was her first non-erotic novel. And the author has also had short fiction and non-fiction published at nerve.com, in Best Women’s Erotica 2013, Griffith Review and Island Magazine.

In addition, Kneen has been busy reading classic erotica for the last two years researching her new erotic adventure Holly’s Incredible Adventures in the Sex Machine (working title) due to be published in 2015. Here, the acclaimed author/writer and bookseller shares her Top 5 Best Erotica Reads Of All Time:

1. Little Birds by Anais Nin. This book is a really lovely introduction into erotica. It is a bit of a crowd pleaser. It’s really dirty, but also quite sweet in parts. I love Nin. She was writing for private collectors at $1 a page and she has been so playful with the work.

2. Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille. This book is seriously bent. Bataille was a surrealist and he plumbs the depths of our imaginations when he presents the story where the central motif is an eye or an egg or an oval shape. I do love this book, but careful, it is a weird one and so perverse.

3. Story of O by Pauline Reage was published anonymously and at first it was thought that it was written by a man. It wasn’t: it was a woman and she knew what she was doing when she said to her husband that a woman could be as perverse as de Sade (French author and philosopher Marquis de Sade). This isn’t de Sade, but it is much more to my personal taste. This book made me really reconsider the idea of submission. O is a submissive and she proves that submission can make you very powerful indeed. A great S&M novel!

4. Ian McEwan is usually not considered an erotic writer, but his work all simmers with eroticism. In Between the Sheets is a collection of stories and most of them have a dark, but sexy erotic heart. Definitely read this book with one hand.

5. Landscape with Animals by Sonya Hartnett writing as Cameron S. Redfern. This is no YA novel (young-adult fiction). Sonya published it under the pseudonym to protect her reputation as a children’s writer. This is such a great book. It’s so sexy and complex: some of the best erotic writing ever to come out of Australia.

By Nicole Carrington-Sima

 

July 16, 2015

Is EL James’s New Novel ‘Grey’ An ‘American Psycho’?

Do you like spending time with sexist, misogynist and emotionally-retarded stalkers and/or psychopaths? Nup, me either, which is why EL James’s Grey – which hit book shops on June 18 – reads more like a sex offender’s diary, or a crazed maniac stalking his prey ala American Psycho, than an alleged erotic novel.

RELATED: Top 10 Erotica Films Hotter Than Fifty Shades 

I don’t like it; in fact I loathe it more than the original Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which is saying something. To be honest, I was initially intrigued to read it for this review, because I found EL James’s writing so fascinatingly bad in the trilogy, I wanted to see if she’d perfected her craft or finally got herself a decent book editor. Incidentally, Grey is the original blockbuster rehashed “through the eyes of Christian Grey”. Vomit.

And the answer to the above is a big, resounding no. For me, EL James’s ridiculous, runaway success with Fifty Shades of Grey is due to her capturing a zeitgeist – the public’s insatiable appetite for erotica, BDSM fantasy and/or escapism, soft-porn – rather than any actual real writing ability on her part. Grey, like Fifty Shades of Grey, is clumsy, repetitive, extremely unpalatable and irritating at best. In fact, it’s the antithesis of sexually arousing literature, if you ask me. I don’t mind reading trash, but it had better be good trash.

sex, Fifty Shades of Grey, erotica, Grey

Just one example of EL James’ many writing fails: On pages 5 and 6, there are no less than three references to the fact that Miss Anastasia Steele does, in fact, have brown hair. What the actual fuck? Did no one go through this thing with a red pen (if even a virtual one)? And who the hell cares so much about the heroine’s godforsaken hair? Is it central to the plot? Why didn’t anyone rein the author (pictured) in?!

Then there’s all the millions (okay, maybe not that many) of Christian’s creepy, salivating, first-person, maladroit references to the fact that Ana, as she prefers to be known, is “very young.” It’s just pure bad taste, a lot of it – if you thought Christian was plain unlikable in Fifty Shades, you should read Grey! EL James must have a very dim view of men and their base natures, as Christian seemingly rarely has a thought that’s not sexual, demeaning to women and/or punctuated by “cock” or “fuck” or “baby.” He’s akin to a damaged, emotionally-retarded fuckwit with all the maturity of a school boy.

And, hilariously, in Grey, Christian makes multiple references to his therapist – the poor soul clearly isn’t doing a very good job with this client!? He’s such an offensive, nasty and distasteful character, the book is intensely cringe-worthy reading from page 1. I did my best, dear reader, to devour the book in a few days for this feature, but I made it to page 33 and I just can’t go on, sorry. It’s killing me! I can’t even be bothered skipping to the sex scenes because I care so little about such a repulsive male protagonist.

What was EL James thinking?! Did we really need a novel seen from the eyes of Christian and his penis? Surely, for many women, Grey diminishes a lot of Fifty Shades’ narrow charm and appeal, as seen through the eyes of an awkward virgin who falls in love for the first time? While Fifty Shades may have reminded us of the harrowing angst and discomfort of first love, Grey takes us to an ugly, dark place I certainly don’t care to revisit in the limited time I have to read as a busy working mum of two toddlers.

erotica, Fifty Shades of Grey, submissive

And the fact that US fans queued around the block for the release of this sadistic, nasty, little novel hurts my head. Surely they were bitterly disappointed upon reading it? Interestingly, Grey was already heavily discounted on sale at MYER, where I bought it, on the day of its release. Is this a clever marketing ploy to sell truckloads of books, and/or are they expecting it to be a sales disaster? Did it set even one woman’s pulse racing? I wonder.

Then there’s the book’s aforementioned sinister subject matter to consider. Is this something young women are reading and aspiring to – relationships with violent, damaged emotionally-challenged fuckwits with stalker tendencies? Some media commentators have even accused EL James of glorifying domestic violence with Grey; they say it gives far too much credence and sexed-up appeal to the soul-sucking, often life-ending reality of the cruel, dangerous and self-esteem-sapping emotional, sexual and physical violence many women are subjected to these days.

Celebrated Brisbane erotica author Krissy Kneen (pictured), who’s no fan of either Fifty Shades or its recent film adaptation starring beautiful, young Dakota Johnson and Irish hottie Jamie Dornan, is equally despairing of Grey. Krissy, who’s arguably Australia’s most accomplished sex writer, released her new erotic adventure The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine, published by Text Publishing, on April 22.

sex, Fifty Shades of Grey, erotica, Grey

And, like me, Krissy abhors EL James’s clumsy writing and struggled to find any joy and/or appeal in Grey. To be fair, I did ask for her thoughts on the book when she was only nine pages into reading it. So, why does the author think Grey is such an awkward, uninteresting mess – indeed, not even a hot mess?

“Well, at only nine pages, I have underlined a clunking moment of telling not showing: ‘I hate the unexpected’. Right – well if you hate it, show it through action not just by telling us,” Krissy says. “Also, it seems Anastasia and Christian have eye-rolling in common. She so often rolls her eyes and he says: ‘I resist rolling my eyes’ on page 5.

“I’m so bored by page 9, I am so tempted to skip forward to the sex, but I will resist just as Christian is resisting sexualising Anastasia on page 7 because she is ‘too young’. At least there will not be any ‘inner goddesses’ in this [as per Fifty Shades] – I hope not.

“So far, it seems to be of a similar quality [to Fifty Shades]. I am really irritated by the asides in italics. I am just glad we don’t have any ‘holy hells’ or ‘inner goddesses dancing’. I will be interested to see how she handles the sex from a male perspective. I can’t see how it won’t become very ‘rapey’ in her hands. I did hate how we started with a flashback to Grey as a damaged child. I can tell where this is going and I am uneasy already.”

Do you mean EL James is trying to garner sympathy for Christian’s controlling and sadistic tendencies and emotional fuckwittage, I ask?

“I mean yet again angering the S&M community who are not ‘damaged’ people,” counters the author, “Those sexual practices have little to do with damage as a child.”

What do you think? Is Grey a stinking pile of shit or a masterpiece?

Images via Vanity Fair, 680news.com, Fox News

June 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Essential Cookbooks Everyone Needs

Whether you’re new in the kitchen, or simply want to spice up your recipes, cookbooks are always a fantastic way to easily create new meals at home.

Bake anything from a basic chocolate cake to healthy snacks with the help of these essential cookbooks everyone needs in their kitchen.

RELATED: Yummy Ways To Cook Feta Cheese

4 Ingredients 2, $15

This first book came as a gift from my sister a few years ago. Whilst I was slightly offended that she thought I couldn’t cook anymore more than a cheese toastie, this cookbook actually proved to be quite helpful. Filled with over 400 easy breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack recipes which require 4 or less ingredients.

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Where Chefs Eat, $21.24

Joe Warwick

Ever wanted to find out where chefs enjoy their food when they’re not working? This book recommends three restaurants in cities from all over the world where chefs love nothing more than to wine and dine. With more than 2300 restaurants and cafes recommended, it’s the best gift for food lovers across the world.

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I Quit Sugar, $26.24

Sarah Wilson

One of the original books on how to give-up sugar for good, Sarah Wilson not only tells you about her history with sugar, but recommends some tasty recipes as well! Ideal for individuals who want to stick to a healthy eating regime, but also for vegetarians and coeliac’s who want to adapt a cleaner lifestyle.

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Real Fast Food, $16.20

Nigel Slater

A complete collection of over 350 quick and tasty dishes for the individual who is constantly on-the-go. Rather than just making the same meal every night of the week, this book takes you out of your comfort zone, and creates wholesome food without too much effort required.

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Nigella Kitchen, $43.74

Nigella Lawson

Who could resist a bit of Nigella on their bookshelf? Offering a complete selection of delectable food and desserts for all occasions, Nigella Kitchen is a must-have for beginners who want a bit of help in the kitchen.

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Image via Cooking Channel TV

June 18, 2015

Top 5 Memoirs Written By Women

In celebration of the recent release of Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind Of Girl, and impending release of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, we have compiled a pre-requisite reading list of of some of the best memoirs, diaries and autobiographies written by women. Learn about sex, puberty, childhood, motherhood, friendship and life through the eyes of these intelligent, witty, insightful women.

RELATED: Before 50 Shades of Grey – Top 5 Erotic Novels

Bossypants, Tina Fey

In Bossypants, Fey takes aim at her detractors (always with humor) and gives you an intimate look at the hurdles she conquered on her way to becoming one of the most successful comedians in recent years. We love you Tina!

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion

Joan Didion has long been a well-respected author and essayist (I recommend everyone read her piece on Self Respect). But in The Year of Magical Thinking Joan describes her grief after the loss of her husband. Prepare for a few tears but this book of love, death and mourning is far more inspirational than depressing.

How To Be a Woman, Caitlin Moran

Moran is a British radio broadcaster and columnist. Her autobiography is utterly hilarious, full of awkward anecdotes of puberty and early romance. However, among her humorous tales is one of the most honest descriptions of a life-changing childbirth that is equally movie and horrifying.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

Maya’s poetic autobiography follows the early years of her life, when she and her brother – abandoned by their parents – are sent to live with their grandmother. Maya’s early life is filled with traumatic experiences and vicious racism. Her ability to overcome life’s setbacks resulted in one of the most enduring and important literary commentaries on life as a black woman in America.

The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

Anne Frank’s diaries are the most popular published diaries in history. They cover the two years Anne – a young Jewish girl – spent hiding from Nazis in a small house in Amsterdam. It’s interesting to follow the usual coming-of-age processes of a pre-teen girl, despite the unusual circumstances of her existence, and the horror occurring in the world at the time.

Image via NY Daily News

October 6, 2014

Top 5 Romantic Winter Reads

Winter is the perfect excuse to take the afternoon off and cuddle with a good book and a warm cup of tea. It’s often difficult to find a book that has an engaging storyline, with characters that you can invest your time in as the series goes on. We’ve scoured through some books which will leave you swooning for days after you’ve finished reading them.

The Bronze Horseman

The classic tale set in Leningrad, Russia just as World War II starts to take it’s first casualties. Amongst the chaos, Tatiana meets Alexander Belov, a soldier in the Red Army who is completely enamoured by her during their first meeting at a bus stop. The story follows their journey to escape the Leningrad blockade and finally be together. A great read for someone that is interested in anything related to World War II. The book is followed by a sequel called The Bridge To Holy Cross, and a prequel called The Summer Garden.

Atonement

This popular book by Ian McEwan was made into a successful movie starring Keira Knightley who brought her character Cecilia to life. The story starts off on a hot day in the summer of 1935, where a young girl Briony suspects her sister Cecilia is with their landscaper, Robbie. He is subsequently arrested and Briony must live with the lie she fabricated as a child, for her entire life. A spectacular read, which is engaging right up the the last page.

A Single Man

A middle-aged professor is in the midst of a mid-life crisis after the death of his partner, for which he slowly begins to ease into single life. He begins to rely on his friends and students at university to overcome his obstacles, and get his life back together after losing a loved one. The book explores the major themes of love, acceptance and loss. Designer Tom Ford made A Single Man into a film in 2009, which was portrayed wonderfully by Colin Firth.

White Gardenia

Author Belinda Alexandra has created a novel which highlights the delicate relationship of mother and daughter overcoming difficult familial obstacles through life. From the harshness of Cold War Russia, to life in post-war Australia the book uses love, family and romance to create an intense storyline which anyone could relate to.

The Other Boleyn Girl

You’ve probably heard about this one before, the story of two sisters competing for the greatest prize they could think of, the love and power of a king. Mary and Anne battle it out to secure the position of wife to King Henry VIII, but this comes at a price. A thrilling read which will keep you interested long after you’ve finished reading.

Which books are on your next reading list?

Image via Olicious Life

By Felicia Sapountzis

May 15, 2014

Making Soapies in Kabul

Trudi-Ann Tierney used to work on Home & Away, before taking a leap of faith and moving to Afghanistan to work on the country’s most popular soap opera ‘Secrets of the House’.  Trudi’s is a fascinating, inspiring story which she shares in her book Making Soapies in Kabul.

This is an edited extract from MAKING SOAPIES IN KABUL, published by Allen &Unwin, RRP $29.99, out now.

The whistling dog woke me up again, for the sixth morning running.

Despite having not hit my pillow until 2am, I smiled when I heard his

feeble toot-tooting just after five. My mangy Labrador alarm clock

didn’t exactly belt out a tune (although I had picked out a solitary

bar of ‘Sweet Caroline’ two mornings before), and as I watched him

sitting alone under my window, serenading the first signs of sun,

I couldn’t discern any actual lip-pursing or puckering-up. But he

was most definitely whistling.

I had never encountered a whistling dog before, but then the past

month had been a rollcall of phenomenal firsts; my entrée into life in

Afghanistan in April 2009 had been nothing short of mind-blowing.

Hundreds and thousands of expats had made this journey before me.

Soldiers ordered here to fight the bloody war; aid workers

committed to cleaning up the mess; doctors and diplomats; moneyhungry

entrepreneurs who’d sniffed out the scent of a quick buck

to be made in the battle zone. Amongst them, I felt uniquely out of

place in my mission to Afghanistan; I had come to Kabul to manage

a bar and restaurant—‘The Den’.

I spent my entire three-hour flight from Dubai into Kabul pressed

up against the plane’s window, marvelling at the alien new world

below. I gazed in wonderment as the plane cruised over chocolatebrown

mountains, their tops sugared with snow, and then dipped into

barren valleys where the only hints of habitation were tiny perfect

grids of crude mud fencing. I was an unabashed, window-licking,

mouth-breather, and I was not even particularly disconcerted when

the turbaned fellow in front spent minutes at a time staring back at

me through the gap in the seats. As we skimmed over the NATO base

next to the airport and landed alongside military choppers standing

to attention on the tarmac, I fumbled for my headscarf and recalled

the extraordinarily easy journey that had brought me to this place.

It all began late in 2008 over dinner with my brother Adam, one

of my life-long friends, Paul, and his partner, Jose. Paul had just been

appointed as the head of production for Afghanistan’s largest and

most successful television broadcaster and was back in Australia

trying to assure his family that moving to Afghanistan was a sane

and sensible life choice. My TV career in Australia was kind of at a

standstill. My business partner, Muffy, and I had recently had a comedy

show optioned by an international production house and an Australian

network was showing genuine interest in funding the series in the new

financial year. Muffy also had a documentary in early development

with another company. We were playing the waiting game and I was

in need of a new adventure. Much to Adam’s horror, I farewelled Paul

that night with a commitment that, if ever there was an opportunity

for me to join him in Afghanistan, I wanted in.

March 22, 2014

The Best New Diet Booksf

New year, new health goals…no motivation? With so many new diet books hitting the market, from juicing to paleo diet books, we review the latest diet books to help get you on track with your exercise, diet and weight loss goals.

Clean Living, by Luke Hines and Scott Gooding. RRP $29.99
Remember Luke and Scott from My Kitchen Rules? They’re back with a bootcamp in a book and their promise to improve your diet and health in just 21 days. They’ve created three weeks’ of menu plans focusing on paleo recipes, plus an accompanying exercise plan that will have anyone, even workout haters, in better shape in a few weeks.

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Reboot with Joe Juice Diet, by Joe Cross. RRP $22.95
I admit it: I love juicing. It’s only a recent thing. I couldn’t stand people that went on juice cleanses, but I bought a slow juicer last year and got into making delicious juices a few times a week. Now I’m obsessed. To get started, watch Joe’s Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and if that doesn’t motivate you to juice a carrot, I don’t know what will! Joe is really inspiring and shares 3-day, 5-day, 10-day, 15-day and 30-day Reboot programs, which get you off sugar and junk food, and addicted to fresh juices. Packed with juicing recipes, as well as exercise and fitness tips, this is a favourite.

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Your Personal Paleo Diet, by Chris Kresser. RRP $29.99
I didn’t know much about the paleo diet, but a few friends have been following the “caveman diet” for months and have never looked or felt better, so I was keen to check out this paleo diet book. The book recommends a 30-day kickstart plan where you eat lean meat, fish, non-starchy vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds, but avoid grains, dairy, sugar and refined foods. Chris advocates a real-life approach, so you won’t feel guilty if you indulge in a bowl of pasta here or there. There’s also tips on improving sleep, stress and fitness, so it takes a holistic approach, which I’m a fan of.

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The Bottom Line Diet, by Jessica Irvine. RRP $22.99
Jessica has a really friendly approach to dieting. The book is like a good friend sharing weight loss tips, anecdotes and motivation. Why it works is because it focuses on the fundamental weight loss principle that you must consume less calories than you burn. Forget fad diets, Jessica shows you how to count calories and keep the weight off for good.

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The 17 Day Diet Breakthrough Edition, by Dr Mike Moreno. RRP $52.00
Well, 17 days certainly caught my eye. If you can promise to help me lose weight (especially after all that festive overindulgence) in just 17 days, then I’m all ears. The bestselling author describes how to achieve fast weight loss – not by going on crazy celebrity diets – but by flushing sugar and toxins out of the body. He also looks at ways to boost your metabolism and enjoy portion control. If you’re serious about how to lose weight quickly, this is the book to read.
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Don’t Quit Sugar, by Cassie Platt. RRP $29.99
With all the information overload, who knows what to think with sugar! Sydney-based nutritionist Cassie Platt debunks the major anti-sugar myths and offers a practical guide to integrating the right sugars into your diet. Plus there’s great recipes, with a menu plan to get you started, and tips for eating out sensibly.

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Do you have a favourite diet book? Tell us in the comments!

January 14, 2014

December’s New Romance Books

December is the perfect month to catch up one of these new romance books, whether you’re taking some time for yourself before the relatives take over your house for Christmas, or you need a new read for your summer holidays. Here are 5 of our favourite romance novels to lose yourself in this month.

 

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Catch of the Day, by Carla Caruso. Published by Penguin Books, RRP $15.99
After a regrettable incident at the office Christmas party, up-and-coming fashion editor, Winnie Cherry, is banished to coastal South Australia to set up a beach lifestyle magazine – 300km from nowhere.

Her friends joke that she’ll marry a rich cray fisherman and stay there for good, but Winnie has other ideas. Determined to get back to Sydney within two months, she gets to work and starts counting down the days. Until she meets handsome freelance photographer Alex Bass, and sparks begin to fly.

As Winnie is increasingly drawn into the close-knit local community, she starts to question whether city life is really what she wants.  That is, until Alex drops a bombshell that casts dark storm clouds over all her coastal dreams…

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Southern Star, by J. C. Grey. Published by Penguin Books, RRP $15.99
Her reputation and career in tatters, Hollywood siren Blaze Gillespie escapes the scandal by fleeing to the Queensland property she still calls home.

Sweet Springs has been deserted for years and Blaze focuses all her energy on restoring the run-down homestead. Faced with hostile locals who have never forgiven her for flitting off to Hollywood, Blaze turns to her neighbour, handsome cattle farmer, Macauley Black, for help.

As Sweet Springs returns to its former glory, Blaze and Mac can’t resist their growing attraction. But when Blaze becomes the target of some serious threats, it looks like trouble has followed her home to Sweet Springs.

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Small Town Storm, by Elise K. Ackers. Published by Penguin Books, RRP $15.99
Nineteen years after a devastating crime almost killed her, Erica Lawrence has returned home. In the small town of Olinda, her story is legend. And now everyone knows she’s back, including top cop and her childhood friend, Jordan Hill, the only person to ever touch her guarded heart.

When a woman’s body is found brutally murdered, suspicion soon falls on Olinda’s newest resident and even Jordan must admit that the evidence is stacking up against the woman he swore to protect.   While Jordan and Erica struggle with their feelings for each other, the murders continue and the tension in town grows. Together, they must find a way to prove Erica’s innocence – before she becomes the killer’s next victim.

Brilliantly capturing the intense range of emotions felt when trust breaks down, Small Town Storm is a startling Australian debut and 2013 Romantic Book of the Year Finalist.

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Sweet Seduction, by Jennifer St George. Published by Penguin Books, RRP $15.99
Together for the first time in one heartwarming volume.

The Convenient Bride: Sienna De Luca will do anything to save her family’s hotel, and ruthless Italian businessman Antonio Moretti knows it. With problems of his own, he proposes a marriage of convenience that will secure his next business deal and save Sienna’s hotel.   In keeping with her part of the bargain, Sienna travels to Venice with Antonio, who introduces her to a life of luxury and opulence. Antonio soon realizes he has vastly underestimated Sienna.  Unexpectedly, she gets too close, and when she discovers his dark secret, Antonio’s perfectly planned life begins to unravel…

Seducing the Secret Heiress: Diamond heiress, Charlotte Wentworth, is passionate about two things – cooking and her  fiancée, Paul. Until the day she finds out Paul has been unfaithful.    Charlotte flees to Europe, determined to build her own life without her family’s fortune. When she meets gorgeous TV producer, Gabe Grenville, she keeps her connections secret and soon finds herself the star of his new cooking show. But how will he react when he discovers Charlotte’s true identity?

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Summer at the Lake, by Erica James. Published by Hachette Australia, RRP $29.99
It was a wedding invitation that changed everything for Floriana…  If she hadn’t been so distracted at the thought of having to witness the one true love of her life get married, she would have seen the car coming.   If she’d seen the car coming, there would have been no need for elderly spinster Esme Silcox and local property developer Adam Strong to rush to her aid.   And if Floriana hadn’t met Adam and Esme she would never have had the courage to agree to attend Seb’s wedding in beautiful Lake Como.

For Esme, Lake Como awakens memories of when she stayed at the lake as a nineteen-year-old girl and fell in love for the first time. So often she’s wondered what happened to the man who stole her heart all those years ago, a man who changed the course of her life.

Now it’s time for both Esme and Floriana to face the past – and the future – on the shores of this most romantic and enchanting of lakes.

What are your favourite romance books?

December 10, 2013

Latest Book Reviews: Spring’s Best New Books

There’s no better time to grab a new book and head to the beach or park and wile away an afternoon getting lost in a page-turner. Here are our favourite new books, from Danielle Steele’s latest must-read set in the world of fashion, to a bestselling story of sisterhood.

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Songs of Willow Frost, by Jaime Ford. Published by Allen and Unwin, RRP $27.99

From Jamie Ford, the New York Times bestselling author of the beloved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, comes a much-anticipated second novel.

Set against the backdrop of Depression-era Seattle, Songs of Willow Frost is a powerful tale of two souls – a boy with dreams for his future and a woman escaping her haunted past – both seeking love, hope, and forgiveness. From the international bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday – or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday – William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.

Determined to find Willow and prove that his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigate the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.   Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping novel will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home.

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First Sight, by Danielle Steel. Published By Random House, RRP 32.95
New York. London. Milan. Paris.   Fashion week in all four cities. A month of endless interviews, parties, unflagging work and attention to detail.  At the centre of the storm is Timmie O’Neill, whose renowned line, ‘Timmie O’, is the embodiment of casual chic, in fashion and for the home. She has created an international empire that inspires, fills, and consumes her life.

In a world where humility and compassion are all too rare, Timmie’s humour, kindness, integrity, and creativity are inspirational. Yet as blessed as she feels by her success, she harbours the private wounds of a devastating childhood and past tragedy. Always willing to take risks in business, she never risks her heart – until an intriguing Frenchman comes into her life during Paris Fashion Week. There is every reason why they must remain apart. But neither can deny their growing friendship and the electricity that sparks whenever they meet.

Are they brave enough to face what comes next? And will they do it together – or apart?

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Rose Harbour in Bloom, by Debbie Macomber. Published By Random House, RRP $32.95
From the number one New York Times bestseller Debbie Macomber, welcome to the Rose Harbor Inn, where every room has an inspiring new view, and every guest finds a second chance…

Jo Marie has started to feel at home running the Rose Harbor Inn. Now it’s springtime, and in memory of her late husband, Paul, Jo Marie has designed a beautiful rose garden for the property and enlisted handyman Mark Taylor to help make it happen. Jo Marie and Mark don’t always see eye-to-eye but deep down, she finds great comfort in his company. And while she still seeks a sense of closure, she welcomes her latest guests, who are on their own journeys.

Annie arrives in town to organise her grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration. But she’s struggling to move on from her broken engagement, and her grandparents themselves seem to be having trouble getting along. But all the best parties end with a surprise, and Annie is in for the biggest one of all.  Mary has achieved incredible success in business, yet serious illness has led her to face her sole regret in life. Almost nineteen years ago, she ended her relationship with her true love, George, and now she has returned to Cedar Cove to make amends.

Together, the women discover that sometimes you have to travel far from home to find the place where you really belong.

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Almost English, by Charlotte Mendelson. Published by Pan Macmillan, RRP A$29.99
Home is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

In a tiny flat in West London, sixteen-year-old Marina lives with her emotionally delicate mother, Laura, and three ancient Hungarian relatives. Imprisoned by her family’s crushing expectations and their fierce unEnglish pride, by their strange traditions and stranger foods, she knows she must escape. But the place she runs to makes her feel even more of an outsider.

At Combe Abbey, a traditional English public school for which her family have sacrificed everything, she realises she has made a terrible mistake. She is the awkward half-foreign girl who doesn’t know how to fit in, flirt or even be. And as a semi-Hungarian Londoner, who is she? In the meantime, her mother Laura, an alien in this strange universe, has her own painful secrets to deal with, especially the return of the last man she’d expect back in her life. She isn’t noticing that, at Combe Abbey, things are starting to go terribly wrong.

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Deep Blue Sea, by Tasmina Perry. Published by Headline Australia, RRP $29.99
With her unique signature blend of escapism, passion and thrilling suspense, Tasmina Perry once again proves she is simply in a league of her own.

Diana and Julian Denver have the world at their feet. With a blissful marriage, a darling son and beautiful homes in London and the country, Diana s life, to the outside world, is perfect. But nothing is as it seems…When Julian dies suddenly and tragically, Diana is convinced there is more to it than meets the eye. She calls on the one person she had never wanted to see again, her sister, Rachel.

A former tabloid reporter, Rachel appears to be living the dream as a diving instructor on a Thai island. The truth is she’s in exile, estranged from her family and driven from her career by Fleet Street’s phone-hacking scandal.  For Rachel, Diana’s request opens old wounds. But she is determined to make amends for the past, and embarks on a treacherous journey to uncover the truth – wherever it may lead…

What are you reading right now? Share in the comments!

November 25, 2013

Latest Book Reviews: Spring’s Best New Books

From the new Bridget Jones to a can’t-put-down page turner that’s one of the most thought-provoking reads of 2013, you’ll be sure to find the perfect read amongst spring’s latest book releases.

 

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Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, by Helen Fielding. Published by Random House, RRP $32.95
When Helen Fielding first wrote Bridget Jones’ Diary, charting the life of a 30-something singleton in London in the 1990s, she introduced readers to one of the most beloved characters in modern literature. The book was published in 40 countries, sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, and spawned a best-selling sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. The two books were turned into major blockbuster films starring Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.

With her hotly anticipated third instalment, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, Fielding introduces us to a whole new enticing phase of Bridget’s life set in contemporary London, including the challenges of maintaining sex appeal as the years roll by and the nightmare of drunken texting, the skinny jean, the disastrous email cc, total lack of twitter followers, and TVs that need 90 buttons and three remotes to simply turn on.

An uproariously funny novel of modern life, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy is a triumphant return of our favourite Everywoman.

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The Best Man, by Diane Blacklock. Published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $29.99
Is the Best Man always the Right Man? With American fiancé, Henry Darrow, publicist Madeleine has at last found the yin to her yang – or whichever way round it is. The calm to her storm, the stillness to her constant motion. Balance.

Her boss, Liv, had to be talked into marriage, which predictably ended in divorce. She’s happy for Madeleine, but Liv is firmly of the opinion that she and her twins are better off alone. However, when Madeleine meets Aiden, Henry’s choice for best man, and Liv has a spontaneous chat with a stranger, the settled lives these women thought they had finally achieved are thrown into chaos. Aiden brings secrets with him and starts to unravel some of Madeleine’s. Liv’s growing relationship conjures up possibilities she thought she’d shut away forever. May the best man win.

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Sunset Ridge, By Nicole Alexander. Published by Random House, RRP $32.95
Nicole Alexander’s new bestseller is an epic historical novel that takes three brothers from the drought-stricken outback of Queensland to the horror of the trenches in World War One.

They went to war and fought for love …Although Madeleine has grown up in the shadow of her grandfather, the renowned artist David Harrow, she knows little about him.   For David died long before she was born, and his paintings sold off to save the family property, Sunset Ridge.  Now, decades on, with the possibility of a retrospective of David’s work, Madeleine races to unravel the remarkable life of her grandfather, a veteran of the Great War, unaware that his legacy extends far beyond the boundaries of the family property…

It’s 1916, and as Europe descends further into bloodshed, three Queensland brothers -Thaddeus, Luther and David Harrow – choose freedom over their restricted lives at Sunset Ridge. A ‘freedom’ that sees them bound for the hell of the trenches.   With the world on fire around them, the brothers bear witness to both remarkable courage and shocking carnage. But they also come to understand the healing power of love – love for their comrades, love for each other, and love for the young, highly spirited girl they left back home…

This is a story of bravery and misadventure, of intolerance and friendship, most of all it is the story of three young men who went to war and fought for love.

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The Widow, by Nola Duncan and Libby Harkness. Published by Ebury Press, RRP $34.95
Her husband took a terrible secret to his grave. How did Nola Duncan not know?

The day Nola Duncan married her husband in 1981 was the happiest day of her life. Michael was Nola’s ‘perfect man’ – a good father; a wonderful host, cook and raconteur; a devoted husband and caring lover; a good friend and a committed Christian.

Throughout their thirty-year marriage, Michael, a deeply romantic man, wrote Nola copious love notes, letters and poems. So when he died suddenly of a cardiac arrest in 2010, her grief was profound. The funeral service overflowed with people who loved and admired him; the eulogies were effusive.  Heartbroken, Nola picked her way through early widowhood and on the first anniversary of his death she buried his ashes in a plot with room for hers. Then she set about clearing out his things.

In a box marked ‘research papers’ Nola found something that would shatter her life; 741 love letters between Michael and his lover, evidence of his passionate six-year affair with a young woman 23 years his junior.   Nola’s emotional pain and distress as she read the letters, many of them erotic and sexually explicit, was compounded on discovering one of the most meaningful poems he’d written for her, he’d also given his lover. The lovers believed their affair was the ‘Great Love’ and their ‘soul marriage’ God-sanctioned.

Until now, Nola has remained silent about Michael’s betrayal of everything and everyone they knew. There are many unanswered questions in this story: why did he keep the letters? Can a man love two women at once? But there’s one she knows she will always be asked – how could she not have known? But hand on her heart, she didn’t.

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No Place Like Home, by Caroline Overington. Published By Bantam Australia, RRP $32.95
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?

What are your favourite new books?

November 13, 2013

Jackie Collins Confessions of a Wild Child Book Review

Lucky Santangelo – a name many Jackie Collins fans would know and love. Being the daughter of infamous former gangster Gino Santangelo, Lucky is the fierce heroine of several of Collins’ best-selling novels.

In Confessions of a Wild Child, we are transported back to the wild teenage years of Lucky and learn how she first set out on her rebellious path to success. Lucky is fifteen; smart, sassy and strong-minded, striving to one day follow in her fathers’ footsteps and rule an empire. Her father however has other plans, wanting nothing more than for Lucky to become a lady, get married and settle down. In this prequel and ninth novel in the Lucky Series, we get a glimpse into how Lucky challenged her father and forged her way to independence.

After tragically witnessing her mothers’ death at the age of five, Lucky and her brother Dario spend all of their time at their secluded Bel Air estate. That is until Lucky is sent away to a strict all-girls boarding school. It is here Lucky meets Olympia Stanislopolous and the two become an unstoppable pair, taking you on a crazy ride of fun, friendship and wild nights.

Lucky reveals in her newfound freedom, breaks all the rules and learns the power she holds over boys, love and ultimately, in taking charge of her own life. From sneaking out of boarding school in Switzerland, running away to the South of France and partying it up in Vegas, we share in Luckys’ wild child confessions.

This latest Collins page-turner gives you a deeper insight into Lucky’s character, delving into her innermost thoughts and secrets – including her attraction to an older man, Marco, who works for her father.

Lucky is wild, ambitious, and definitely trouble; far from any ideal sweet and innocent teenager! In Confessions of a Wild Child Jackie Collins does not disappoint – loyal Lucky fans and new readers alike will not be able to put this one down!

Confessions of a Wild Child, by Jackie Collins. Published by Simon & Schuster RRP $29.99

 What are you reading right now?

October 28, 2013

Latest Book Reviews: October’s Best New Books

Spread your wings, open your mind and read something new this Spring!

October is bursting with new release books to entertain you, from Danielle Steel’s latest bestseller to a hilarious novel about the rich and scheming we couldn’t put down…

 

 

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Walking on Trampolines, by Frances Whiting. Published By Macmillan Australia, RRP $29.99
Tallulah de Longland,’ she said slowly, letting all the Ls in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgement. ‘That,’ she announced, ‘is a serious glamorgeous name.’ From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah ‘Lulu’ de Longland is bewitched: by Annabelle, by her family, and their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river. Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves, and growing up in the small coastal town of Juniper Bay.

Their lives become as entwined as Annabelle’s initials engraved beneath the de Longland kitchen table. But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood. Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary.

And possibly unforgivable. It’s not how far you fall, but how high you jump.

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Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Wang. Published By Allen and Unwin, RRP $24.99
Thwarted love, scheming snobs, obscene wealth and haute couture – it’s all here in a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich. An absolutely wicked treat!

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendour beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should – and should not – marry.

Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian jetset; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

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Friendship Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, by Lisa Verge Higgins. Published By Allen and Unwin, RRP $27.99
Lenny left his wife, Monique, a bucket list of things they’d dreamed of doing together before cancer took his life. For four years, she ignored it, too busy raising their daughter to consider the painful task of resurrecting shattered dreams.

But when her next-door neighbour, Judy, starts a slow slide into a personal crisis, and another friend, Becky, receives shocking news about her future, Monique realises that Lenny’s legacy could be a gift to three women in desperate need of a new perspective.

Whisking her friends away on adventures from London to Paris, from Monaco to Milan, she is determined to follow the bucket list to the letter-until one eventful evening knocks the three friends off the beaten path. Caught up in adventures of their own making, they begin to understand: Sometimes getting lost is the only way to find what you’re really looking for.

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Winners, by Danielle Steel. Published By Bantam Press, RRP $32.95
Lily Thomas is as determined as they come. A professional skier who won the bronze medal at the age of fourteen, she’s now seventeen and poised to take the gold at the upcoming Olympic Games. Everything is on track for a successful competition and a celebrated future, until the unforeseeable occurs and her life is changed forever in a horrific accident.

Lily’s wealthy father, Bill, is utterly beside himself in the wake of his daughter’s devastating news. Lily means the world to him, especially since he raised her singlehandedly after her mother’s death. So when he feels the need to pin the blame on someone, it seems only natural that his anger be directed at Jessica Matthews, Lily’s orthopedic surgeon who, though she managed to save his daughter’s life, simply couldn’t prevent the ghastly reality that she would forever be confined to a wheelchair.

In the midst of all this, Jessica receives her own set of dreadful news on the night of Lily’s surgery – her husband was killed in a horrific car accident on his way to take one of their four children bowling; an event she would have accompanied him on had she not been called away for the emergency.   With their worlds collapsing around them, the recovery process is a slow one for these three very different people. But just when it seems things couldn’t get worse, hope, love and redemption reign supreme as they work to turn their personal tragedies into triumphs and spread joy to others.

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The Next Time You See Me, by Holly Goddard Jones. Published by Corvus, RRP $29.99
In The Next Time You See Me, the disappearance of one woman, the hard-drinking and unpredictable Ronnie Eastman, reveals the ambitions, prejudices, and anxieties of a small southern town and its residents. There’s Ronnie’s sister Susanna, a dutiful but dissatisfied schoolteacher, mother, and wife; Tony, a failed baseball star-turned-detective; Emily, a socially awkward thirteen-year-old with a dark secret; and Wyatt, a factory worker tormented by a past he can’t change and by a love he doesn’t think he deserves. Connected in ways they cannot begin to imagine, their stories converge in a violent climax that reveals not just the mystery of what happened to Ronnie but all of their secret selves.

The Next Time You See Me is the “immensely satisfying and skilful debut novel” (Kate Atkinson) by award-winning author Holly Goddard Jones.

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Gone Fishing, by Susan Duncan. Published By Random House, RRP $32.95
Gone Fishing is the sequel to the bestselling The Briny Café, is a heart-warming, inspirational novel about taking a stand against all the odds.   For bargeman Sam Scully, life in Cook’s Basin is nothing short of paradise. A wonderland of golden sand and turquoise waters, battered old tinnies and wonky pontoons, it’s a realm unspoilt by the modern world.

But then a notice goes up in the Square that screams ‘EXCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT!’  Paradise is about to be ripped apart.  With plans underway to build a flash resort in the heart of their community, the residents leap into action – with Sam as their leader, and a twelve-foot papier-mache cockatoo as their mascot . . . But it’s never going to be easy to turn the tide of ‘progress’.   Meanwhile there’s trouble brewing at the Briny Café.   Kate Jackson is struggling to come to terms with the dreadful secret spilled on her mother’s deathbed.   And as for Kate’s co-owner, Ettie Brookbank… Well, what is happening to Ettie?

What books are you reading right now? 

October 8, 2013

Latest Book Reviews: September’s Best New Books

From a hilariously witty new novel about school mums, to a can’t-put-down mystery that will appeal to all book lovers, September’s new release books are five of the best must-read books for spring.

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Kiss me First, by Lottie Moggach. Published by Picador, RRP $29.99

Leila has never met Tess, but she now knows more about Tess than anyone in the world. She’s read all of her emails, researched her past and asked Tess for every detail about her friends and family.

Tess has never met Leila. But if she wants to slip away from the world unnoticed, she needs to trust Leila with her life.

At first, Leila finds it easy to assume Tess’s identity, and no one has any reason to distrust her. But as Leila is soon to discover, there is much more to a person than the facts and there are things about life you can learn only by living it . . .

Original, haunting and utterly gripping, Kiss Me First is an electrifying debut from a phenomenally gifted storyteller.

Picador won the rights for Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach in a hotly-contested eleven-publisher auction.

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Mr Wigg, by Inga Simpson. Published by Hachette Australia, RRP $26.99

A novel that celebrates the small things in life by a fresh Australian voice.

It s the summer of 1971, not far from the stone-fruit capital of New South Wales, where Mr Wigg lives on what is left of his family farm. Mrs Wigg has been gone a few years now and he thinks about her every day. He misses his daughter, too, and wonders when he ll see her again.  He spends his time working in the orchard, cooking and preserving his produce and, when it s on, watching the cricket. It s a full life. Things are changing though, with Australia and England playing a one-day match, and his new neighbours planting grapes for wine. His son is on at him to move into town but Mr Wigg has his fruit trees and his chooks to look after. His grandchildren visit often: to cook, eat and hear his stories. And there s a special project he has to finish …

It’s a lot of work for an old man with shaking hands, but he’ll give it a go, as he always has.

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The Hive, by Gill Hornsby. Published by Hachette Australia, RRP $29.99

Welcome to St Ambrose Primary School. A world of friendships, fights and feuding. And that’s just the mothers. . .

It’s the start of another school year at St Ambrose. But while the children are in the classroom colouring in, their mothers are learning sharper lessons on the other side of the school gates. Lessons in friendship. Lessons in betrayal. Lessons in the laws of community, the transience of power. . . and how to get invited to lunch.

Beatrice – undisputed queen bee. Ruler, by Divine Right, of all school fund-raising, this year, last year and, surely, for many years to come.

Heather – desperate to volunteer, desperate to be noticed, desperate just to belong.

Georgie – desperate for a fag.

And Rachel – watching them all, keeping her distance. But soon to discover that the line between amused observer and miserable outcast is a thin one.

The Hive is an irresistible, brilliantly observed novel – warm, witty and true. Wickedly funny, it is also a fascinating and subtle story about group politics and female friendship. From the joys and perils (well, mainly perils) of the Lunch Ladder, to the military operation that is the Car Boot Sale, via the dos and don’ts of dressing your child as a dalek, all human life is here.

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The Bookman’s Tale, by Charlie Lovett. Published by Text Publishing, RRP $29.99

A mysterious portrait ignites an antiquarian bookseller’s search—through time and the works of Shakespeare—for his lost love.

Guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who truly loves books, The Bookman’s Tale is a former bookseller’s sparkling novel and a delightful exploration of one of literature’s most tantalising mysteries with echoes of Shadow of the Wind and A.S. Byatt’s Possession.

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolour is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins.

As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays.

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The Son-in-Law, by Charity Norman. Published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99

A heart-catching, riveting and extremely engaging family drama for readers who love Joanna Trollope and Jodi Picoult.

For three years Joseph Scott has been haunted by one moment-the moment that changed his life forever. Now he is starting over, and he wants his family back more than anything.

This is the story of Joseph and his wife, Zoe; of their children, Scarlet, Theo and Ben, for whom nothing will be the same; and of Zoe’s parents, who can’t forgive or understand.

A compelling, moving and ultimately optimistic story of one man who will do almost anything to be reunited with his children. And of the grandparents who are determined to stop him.

What are you reading right now? Tell us in the comments!

September 18, 2013

Father’s Day Book Gift Guide

Australia’s largest bookseller Dymocks has Father’s Day gift shopping sorted with their annual Father’s Day book recommendations, covering the best new biography, crime, sport, cooking, history and fiction titles.

Some of Dymocks’ Father’s Day choices include Ugly by Robert Hoge – a remarkable biography of the life journey of Robert Hoge; Never Back Down by Lee Child – the highly anticipated second instalment to the Jack Reacher series; and Accept the Challenge by Leigh Matthews – the life and lessons from the world of Australian Rules Football.

For foodie fathers, Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals is a great choice, whilst history fanatics will love In Great Spirits, the World War I diary of Archie Barwick. For dads looking for escapism, the fictitious world of British government scandal and criminal underworld workings in The English Girl by Daniel Silva, is sure to keep them on the edge of their seats.

Father’s Day book picks for dad:

COOKING

1.      Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver, RRP $49.99
2.      Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals by Jamie Oliver, RRP $49.95
3.      Bill’s Italian Food by Bill Granger, RRP $49.99
4.      The Blue Duck by Darren Robertson and Mark La Brooy, RRP $39.99
5.      Fired Up Vegetarian by Ross Dobson, RRP $34.99

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BIOGRAPHY

1.      Ugly by Robert Hoge, RRP $32.99
2.      A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley, RRP $29.99
3.      Clive by Sean Parnell, RRP $39.99
4.      Ian Frazer by Madonna King, RRP $29.95
5.      Stillways by Steve Bisley, RRP $27.99

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CRIME

1.      Never Go Back by Lee Child, RRP $32.95
2.      Watching You by Michael Robotham, RRP $29.99
3.      The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth, RRP 32.95
4.      Children of the Revolution by Peter Robinson, RRP $32.99
5.      Mistress by James Patterson, RRP $32.95

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FICTION

1.      The English Girl by Daniel Silva, RRP $29.99
2.      Mayan Secrets by Clive Cussler & Tom Perry, RRP $29.99
3.      Cairo by Chris Womersley, RRP $29.95
4.      The Rule of Knowledge by Scott Baker, RRP $29.99
5.      The Heist by Robert Schofield, RRP $29.99

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HISTORY

1.      In Great Spirits by Archie Barwick, RRP $39.99
2.      Too Bold To Die by Ian McPhedran, RRP $29.99
3.      Tell My Sons by Mark Weber, RRP $32.95
4.      Killing Fairfax by Pamela Williams, RRP $39.99
5.      Eyre: The Forgotten Explorer by Ivan Rudolph, RRP $39.99

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SPORT

1.      Accept the Challenge by Matthew Leigh, RRP $45.00
2.      Home Truths by Craig Bellamy, RRP $39.99
3.      More Important Than Life or Death by Peter FitzSimons, RRP $29.99
4.      Hold The Line by Matthew Scarlet, RRP $34.99
5.      Amen by Will Swanton, RRP $27.99

What are you getting dad for Father’s Day?

August 16, 2013

Latest Book Releases: 6 Winter Murder Mysteries

Need something to read by the heater curled up against the winter rain and wind? We have six new books including Stephen King’s latest to keep you enthralled all winter.

Six thrilling tales of love, loss, murder and betrayal to keep you turning those pages all night long…

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The Kill Room (The Lincoln Rhyme Series) by Jeffery Deaver. Published By Hachette Australia,  RRP $32.99

In what marks Number One bestselling author Jeffery Deaver’s thirtieth suspense novel, brilliant criminalist and quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme returns in his tenth electrifying adventure.

Robert Moreno, an American citizen living in South America, is shot in the Bahamas by a sniper. The killing was commissioned by the U.S. government, who received a tip-off that Moreno was planning a terrorist attack on a U.S. oil company headquarters. But this intelligence was fatally incorrect: anti-American Moreno ordered a protest at the oil company, not an attack.

Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are drafted in to investigate. While Sachs traces Moreno’s steps in New York, Rhyme travels to the scene of the crime in Nassau, where he finds himself on a dangerous path trailed by the sniper himself. As details of the case start to emerge, the pair discover that not all is what it seemed. Can they achieve justice and escape with their lives intact?

    book2Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews. Published By Simon and Schuster, RRP $24.99

In the grand spy-tale tradition of John le Carré…comes this shocking thriller written with insider detail known only to a veteran CIA officer.

In present-day Russia, ruled by blue-eyed, unblinking President Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the post-Soviet intelligence jungle. Ordered against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer who handles the Agency’s most important Russian mole.

Spies have long relied on the “honey trap,” whereby vulnerable men and women are intimately compromised. Dominika learns these techniques of “sexpionage” in Russia’s secret “Sparrow School,” hidden outside of Moscow. As the action careens between Russia, Finland, Greece, Italy, and the United States, Dominika and Nate soon collide in a duel of wills, tradecraft, and—inevitably—forbidden passion that threatens not just their lives but those of others as well. As secret allegiances are made and broken, Dominika and Nate’s game reaches a deadly crossroads. Soon one of them begins a dangerous double existence in a life-and-death operation that consumes intelligence agencies from Moscow to Washington, DC.

Page by page, veteran CIA officer Jason Matthews’s Red Sparrow delights and terrifies and fascinates, all while delivering an unforgettable cast, from a sadistic Spetsnaz “mechanic” who carries out Putin’s murderous schemes to the weary CIA Station Chief who resists Washington “cake-eaters” to MARBLE, the priceless Russian mole. Packed with insider detail and written with brio, this tour-de-force novel brims with Matthews’s life experience, including his knowledge of espionage, counterintelligence, surveillance tradecraft, spy recruitment, cyber-warfare, the Russian use of “spy dust,” and covert communications. Brilliantly composed and elegantly constructed, Red Sparrow is a masterful spy tale lifted from the dossiers of intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. Authentic, tense, and entertaining, this novel introduces Jason Matthews as a major new American talent.

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A Bitter Taste by Annie Hauxwell. Published By Penguin Australia, RRP $29.99

Treachery becomes a habit.   London is in the grip of a stifling heatwave. The city has slowed to a claustrophobic shuffle. Heroin-addicted investigator Catherine Berlin suffers while working the lowest of investigations: matrimonial.

The city’s junkies are in the grip of a drought of a different kind. Sonja Kvist a strung-out ghost from Berlin’s past, turns up on her doorstep. Sonja daughter is missing. An unpaid debt leaves Berlin no choice but to take the case of the missing ten-year-old.

Berlin is back. And soon the hunter becomes the hunted: corrupt detectives are on Berlin’s tail chasing drugs she doesn’t have, a young girl is murdered and the matrimonial case unravels.

And the temperature keeps rising.  A Bitter Taste is addictive, fast-paced crime fiction spiked with grit and grunge.

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Under the Dome by Stephen King. Published by Hachette Australia, RRP $19.99

One of the masterly Stephen King’s most riveting novels – every chapter ends on a cliffhanger – a Maine town and its inhabitants are isolated from the world by an invisible, impenetrable dome.

Celebrated storyteller Stephen King returns to his roots in this tour de force featuring more than 100 characters – some heroic, some diabolical – and a supernatural element as baffling and chilling as any he s ever conjured.

On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener s hand is severed as the dome comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. Dale Barbara, Iraq vet, teams up with a few intrepid citizens against the town s corrupt politician. But time, under the dome, is running out….

Under the Dome is King at his epic best and will capture a brand new readership as well as thrilling his existing fans.

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Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. Published by Allen and Unwin, RRP $24.99

A stunning psychological thriller about a respected female scientist and the single reckless decision that leads to her standing trial for murder.

‘Safety and security are commodities you can sell in return for excitement, but you can never buy them back.’

Yvonne Carmichael is a geneticist, a scientist renowned in her field but one day, she makes the most irrational of decisions. While she is giving evidence to a Select Committee at the Houses of Parliament, she meets a man and has sex with him in the secluded Chapel in the Crypt beneath the Great Hall of Westminster. It’s the beginning of a reckless liaison, but there is more to her lover than is at first apparent – as Yvonne discovers when the affair spins out of control and leads inexorably to violence.

Apple Tree Yard is about a woman who makes one rash choice that ends up putting her on trial at the Old Bailey for the most serious of crimes. Like the highly acclaimed Whatever You Love, it is part literary investigation of personal morality, part psychological thriller. Both a courtroom drama and an exploration of the values we live by, it is the gripping seventh novel from an author who has been acclaimed as a ‘courageous writer, willing to explore deeper territory with each book’ (Independent) and ‘terrifically compelling’ (Daily Mail).

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Hunting Eve by Iris Johansen. Published by Pan Macmillan Australia, RRP $29.99

The stakes are raised even higher in Hunting Eve as Eve battles the man who is holding her prisoner. Secrets about why Eve has been targeted come into the light, bringing Eve even closer to danger. With its cliffhanger ending, Hunting Eve sets up perfectly for the finale, Silencing Eve which we will be publishing in November 2013.

Iris Johansen is a no.1 New York Times bestselling author. She began writing after her children left home for college. She first achieved success in the early 1980s writing category romances. In 1991, Johansen began writing suspense historical romance novels, starting with the publication of The Wind Dancer. In 1996 Johansen switched genres, turning to crime fiction, with which she has had great success. Johansen lives near Atlanta, Georgia and is married. Her son, Roy Johansen, is an Edgar Award-winning screenwriter and novelist. Her daughter, Tamara, serves as her research assistant.

What new books are you reading right now?

August 8, 2013

Latest Books: Warrior Princess

Warrior Princess, by Mindy Budgor. Published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99

This is the story of a young woman – passionate, fearless and dangerously curious (with a set of ferocious Jewish parents breathing fire down her neck) – who turned her back on the safety of her suburban life to face probable death in an effort to become the world’s first female Maasai warrior.

Warrior Princess is the hilarious and inspirational memoir of Mindy Budgor, a young entrepreneur tired of corporate life, who decides to make changes in her life. While waiting for her Business School applications to go through, she decides to volunteer – first in India with Muhammad Yunus (Banker to the Poor), and then in Africa building schools and hospitals in the Maasai Mara. While living and working with the Maasai, Mindy talks to the chief and asks him why there are no women Maasai warriors. The chief responds simply and derisively – because women are not strong enough, or brave enough to be warriors. Mindy immediately realises her calling – she gets the chief to agree to train her (and her fellow volunteer) to become Maasai warriors when they return to Africa, and thus begins Mindy’s amazing adventure.

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Mindy is now one of the first female Maasai warriors and an official member of the tribe. As a result of their training and advocacy, law in Africa will be changed in 2016 to allow women the right to become Maasai warriors, and Mindy as a tribe member is ready to return to stand with her fellow-warriors against whatever opposition they might face – be it lions, or elephants, or Western-influence.

In her junior year at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Mindy started her first business, CollegeButler, a concierge service for undergrads. She sold the company several years later and worked at a small sports marketing agency. She also managed early-stage investments for the agency’s CEO. In 2009, after leaving her marketing job, Mindy’s career was at a standstill. Unsure what she wanted to do next, she simultaneously applied to business school and bought a multi-stop plane ticket to Bangladesh and Kenya to explore her interests in social enterprises in developing countries. After completing a two-month microfinance internship in Dhaka, Mindy traveled to Kenya. While volunteering to build a clinic in the Maasai Mara, she met several members of the Maasai, a semi-nomadic tribe, which led to the journey detailed in Warrior Princess. She currently attends the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and is a 2012 MBA candidate.

What’s your favourite new book?

July 28, 2013

Our Top 5 New Books For July

From Ruby Wax’s latest must-read manual to saner living, to an emotional knockout debut from a brilliant new Aussie author, cosy up to our favourite new release books this July.

Sane New World, by Ruby Wax. Published by Hodder and Stoughton, RRP $29.99

Comedian, writer and mental health campaigner shows us why and how our minds can send us mad and how we can rewire our thinking, especially through mindfulness, to calm ourselves in a frenetic world.

Ruby Wax – comedian, writer and mental health campaigner – shows us how our minds can jeopardize our sanity.

With her own periods of depression and now a Masters from Oxford in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy to draw from, she explains how our busy, chattering, self-critical thoughts drive us to anxiety and stress.

If we are to break the cycle, we need to understand how our brains work, rewire our thinking and find calm in a frenetic world.

Helping you become the master, not the slave, of your mind, here is the manual to saner living.

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Fish out of Water, by Ros Baxter. Published by Escape Publishing

Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum meets Splash in a sexy, smart-talking debut about a mermaid in a desert, a city under water, and the secret that no one is supposed to uncover.

Dirtwater’s straight-talking Deputy Sheriff Rania Aqualina has a lot on her plate: a nicotine addiction that’s a serious liability for a mermaid, a soldier-of-fortune ex who’s hooked on her Mum’s brownies, a gorgeous, naked stranger in her shower, and a mysterious dead blonde with a fish tattoo on Main Street.

Heading home to Aegira for a family wedding, Rania has a sinking feeling that’s got nothing to do with hydroporting seven miles under the sea and everything to do with the crazy situation. Now, if she can just steal a corpse, get a crazy Aegiran priest off her case, work out who the hell’s trying to kill her, and stop sleeping with the fishes, she might be able to unravel the mysteries. And maybe even save her own ass while she’s at it.

Fish out of Water is Stephanie Plum meets Splash, and the first book in a trilogy about Aegira, an underwater kingdom based on the historical Norse legend of Aegir.

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Fractured, by Dawn Barker. Published by Hachette, RRP $29.99

A compelling, emotional knockout debut from a brilliant new Australian author. An unforgettable novel that brings to life a new mother’s worst fears. Tony is worried. His wife, Anna, isn’t coping with their newborn. Anna had wanted a child so badly and, when Jack was born, they were both so happy. They’d come home from the hospital a family. Was it really only six weeks ago?

But Anna hasn’t been herself since. One moment she’s crying, the next she seems almost too positive. It must be normal with a baby, Tony thought; she’s just adjusting. He had been busy at work. It would sort itself out. But now Anna and Jack are missing. And Tony realises that something is really wrong… What happens to this family will break your heart and leave you breathless.

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Three Hours Late, by Nicole Trope. Published by Allen and Unwin, RRP $29.99

A gripping novel about the terrible secrets of a marriage and a mother’s love and desperation for fans of Jodi Picoult and Caroline Overington.

Once, so very long ago, she had watched him like this when he came to pick her up from a date…Her stomach fluttered and burned with infatuation and desire. She would watch him walk up the path and think, ‘This must be love.’

But that was so very long ago. Now Liz is wary and afraid. She has made a terrible mistake and it cannot be undone. Alex believes that today will be the day she comes back to him. Today will be the day his wife and young son finally come home. Today they will be a family again. But Liz knows that some things can never be mended. Some marriages are too broken. Some people are too damaged.

Now the most important thing in her life is her son, Luke, and she will do anything in her power to protect him.

So when Alex is a few minutes late bringing Luke back Liz begins to worry and when he is an hour late her concern grows and when he is later still she can feel her whole life changing because: what if Alex is not just late?

The terrible secrets of a marriage, the love that can turn to desperation, the refuge and heartbreak of being a parent, the fragile threads that cradle a family…Three Hours Late is a gripping and deeply emotional novel of almost unbearable suspense from a writer of great insight and empathy.

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Entwined with You, by Sylvia Day. Published by Penguin Australia, RRP $12.95

The worldwide phenomenon continues as Eva and Gideon face the demons of their pasts and accept the consequences of their obsessive desires…

From the moment I first met Gideon Cross, I recognised something in him that I needed. Something I couldn’t resist. I also saw the dangerous and damaged soul inside – so much like my own. I was drawn to it. I needed him as surely as I needed my heart to beat.

No one knows how much he risked for me. How much I’d been threatened, or just how dark and desperate the shadow of our pasts would become. Entwined by our secrets, we tried to defy the odds. We made our own rules and surrendered completely to the exquisite power of possession…

What are your new release book recommendations for the SheSaid team?

July 11, 2013

Q&A With Author Hannah Richell


We loved Hannah Richell’s Secrets of the Tides and her latest book The Shadow Year is just as brilliant. SheSaid chatted with Hannah about inspiration, getting published and what it’s really like to write for a living.

How did you get your first book published? And how long did it take you to write your first novel?

I wrote Secrets of the Tides over the course of about two-and-a-half years. It was something I began doing while on maternity leave, squeezed into the cracks of the day when my son napped, but I soon discovered that I loved writing so much I couldn’t stop, even when I went back to work part time. When I felt the novel was finished, I submitted it to several literary agents in the UK and got lucky. One agent in particular really seemed to get the novel and as soon as we began working together things took off very quickly. The novel went to auction where the English language rights were sold in just one week, and since then it’s been snapped up by fourteen translation territories too. The whole experience has been mind-blowing.



What is your new novel The Shadow Year about?

The Shadow Year is the story of a group of friends who discover an abandoned cottage in a remote lakeside location and decide to drop out for a year and experiment with living self-sufficiently. Their venture begins with great excitement, but as the seasons shift and tensions begin rise, the year soon spirals into darkness and tragedy. Meanwhile, thirty years later, a young woman called Lila runs away to the same cottage. As she begins to renovate the dilapidated cottage, she starts to uncover the mystery of what happened there all those years ago, until the two stories converge in a dark and twist-filled climax.



After the success of Secrets of the Tides was it more difficult writing your second novel?

The success of Secrets of the Tides was something so unexpected and wonderful that I shall always be grateful for it. The truth was that when I sat down to write my second book I didn’t actually know if I could write another novel, and certainly didn’t know if I could hit a publisher’s deadline. It was a pretty nerve-wracking time, but the pressure was mostly coming from within, I think. I wanted to produce the best possible work I could within the time I had. On those days when I felt like a total fraud, the success of my debut helped to give me confidence.



Can you take us through a normal day in the life of Hannah Richell?

Except for when I’m out and about promoting the books, my days are pretty normal, probably much like any other working mum’s. On my writing days, the early morning is all about the kids – getting them dressed, breakfasted and out the door without too many tantrums or meltdowns. Then I either return home to the kitchen table or head down to a little studio I’ve rented near my house, where I can spend a few uninterrupted hours writing, before picking them up from school and childcare. I’m learning that being a novelist is all about showing up at that desk and getting the words down, even when I don’t really feel like it – just like any other job, I suppose. If I didn’t have kids, I’d probably spend my days drifting aimlessly in my pyjamas, so I should probably be grateful to them for that!

You grew up in England – how did you come to be living in Australia? Do you think you would have been a writer if you still lived in the UK?

I moved to Australia in 2005 with my boyfriend (now husband). We came here together searching for new adventures after ten or so years living and working in London. After travelling across Australia we settled in Sydney and have lived here ever since. I don’t think I would have started writing if I’d stayed in the UK. Australia is a country imbued with such a positive ‘can-do’ attitude, and moving to the other side of the world felt incredibly liberating – a chance to totally re-invent myself, if you like. Besides, I felt very anonymous here when I first arrived, so it didn’t feel as though I had very much to lose in trying.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the worst?

The best thing is being able to daydream for a living, working in my own space on my own time. The worst is those days when I feel like a complete fraud – when it feels as though I will never have another creative idea or write a good sentence ever again.



What other career would you like to have if you weren’t an author?

I would probably still be working in marketing, helping books or movies reach their audiences.

Who are your favourite authors? And did their books inspire you to become an author?

I love reading a wide range of authors, from the more literary such as Jane Austen, Ian McEwan, Maggie O’Farrell, Tim Winton and David Mitchell to the more commercial, such as David Nichols, Jojo Moyes and Stephen King. My perfect novel has a great plot, believable characters and a strong reason for me to keep turning the pages. One of my all-time favourite classics is I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, and the one I was most gripped by recently was the smash-hit Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. All the books I read inspire me. I don’t think you can be a writer if you’re not also a reader.

What books would we find on your bedside right now? Do you ever read multiple books at one time?

Right now I have Kate Forsyth’s The Wild Girl, Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour, and a short story collection by Alice Munro sitting beside my bed. I am just finishing Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, which is a fascinating and beautiful Australian debut about the last woman to be beheaded in Iceland.


I try not to read multiple books at the same time but I have got better at putting something down if I’m not enjoying it. Life’s too busy to persevere if I’m not enjoying a novel.



How do you see technology impacting on our reading habits? Do you have an ipad, Kindle or e-reader etc?

I have resisted owning an e-reader to date. I can see the appeal, particularly when travelling, but I still love the physicality of curling up with a good book, the smell of the paper, the turning of the pages. My house is full of books and even though I’m running out of space, I find it hard to get rid of them. They remind me of the person I was when I read it, or of that special place the story transported me to. Each one is like an old friend.


What’s your favourite new release book of 2013?

June 4, 2013

5 Must-Read Books For May


Grab a cuppa and settle in with our favourite new books for May, from a can’t-put-down romance to a heartwarming story of friendship you’ll want to share with all your friends…



Into My Arms, by Kylie Ladd. Published By Allen and Unwin, RRP $29.99

When Skye meets Ben their attraction is instantaneous and intense. Niether of them has ever felt more in synch – or in love – with anyone in their lives. What happens next will tear them both apart. Into My Arms is a searing love story and a gripping family drama – a shocking, haunting novel in the tradition of Jodi Picoult and Caroline Overington.


The kiss ignited something, blew it into being, and afterwards, all Skye could think about was Ben.?One day a woman meets a man and falls instantly and irrevocably in love with him. It hits her like a thunderbolt, and she has to have him, has to be with him, regardless of the cost, of the pain of breaking up her existing relationship. She has never felt more in synch-or in love-with anyone in her whole life. So this is how it feels, she thinks to herself, this is what real love feels like.?It’s like that for him too; he wants her in a way he’s never wanted anything or anyone before: obsessively, passionately, all-consumingly.? She has found her one true love, her soulmate, and he has found his. What happens next will tear them apart and unleash havoc onto their worlds.?

This brave, brilliant, electrifying novel from the acclaimed author of After the Fall and Last Summer, will move you deeply and shock you to your core. Love, lust and longing have rarely wielded such power, nor family secrets triggered such devastation.?



Fly Away, by Kristin Hannah. Published by Pan Macmillan, RRP $29.99

Firefly Lane became a touchstone novel in women’s lives. Across the world, women embraced the story of Tully and Kate’s enduring friendship. They laughed with Tully and cried with Kate and anguished over Tully’s fractured relationship with her mother.

Now, in Fly Away – a story that both connects to Firefly Lane and stands alone – Kristin Hannah returns to the world of these unforgettable characters…
How do you hold yourself together when your world has fallen apart…Fly Away is the story of three women who have lost their way and need each other – plus a miracle – to transform their lives.


An emotionally-complex, heart wrenching novel about love, family, motherhood, loss, and redemption, Fly Away reminds us that where there is life, there is hope and where there is love, there is forgiveness. Told with her trademark visceral storytelling and illuminating prose, Kristin Hannah reveals why she is one of the most beloved writers of our day.


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The Yearning, by Kate Bell. Published by Simon and Schuster, RRP $17.99

It’s 1978 in an Australian country town and a dreamy teenaged girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.  ?Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her upstairs window. He assumes it is a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive. ?Solomon knows he must resist, but her sensual words stir him. He has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, as he stands reading her latest offering in his driveway, she turns up unannounced. And what happens next will torment them forever – in ways neither can imagine.


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A Double Spring, by Juliet Darling. Published By Allen and Unwin, RRP $24.99

Raw and beautifully told, this is the story of Juliet Darling’s year of devastating grief after her partner was murdered by his schizophrenic son. It is also a story of the power of love. A Double Spring is about powerlessness and grief, families and friendship, fear and trust, and anger and love.


‘Nick died in the southern hemisphere in spring. Now I am in Paris in spring. We were to have been here together. I am experiencing a double spring. Double the bitterness, double the beauty.’?Juliet Darling’s memoir of the daily events surrounding the murder of her late partner, art curator Nick Waterlow, by his son Antony is a moving story of a deeply personal formative experience. It is a passionate and urgent look at the ordinariness of evil, the intractability of fate, and the interconnectedness of art and life. Ultimately it is a story about the power of love, and how love can be sustained through grief.


It is also a book about what it was like to live in the shadow of an impending death, a death that seemed to be foretold. It is about a grief that began long before death. For all involved, it seemed they were powerless to do anything to change the sinister course of events.?The story unfolds with utmost simplicity; stripped of any falsehood; refrained from comment as far as possible; it focuses on the everyday occurrences, the small banal events, which matter the most, and which form the greatest part of this tale of almost unbearable suffering.?


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The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, by Darien Gee. Published by Allen and Unwin, RRP 27.99

A poignant and heartwarming story about a group of women who form deep friendships through their love of scrapbooking – as memories are preserved, dreams are shared, and surprising truths are revealed. A novel about heart, about family and finding ourselves in places where we least expect from the bestselling author of Friendship Bread.


At Madeline’s Tea Salon, the cozy hub of the Avalon community, six women find their memories are shaping their future. Young Connie Colls, fiercely independent and full of promise longs for a past she never had. Isabel Kidd is anxious to move forward but is still paralysed by the consequences of her late husband’s love affair. After spending many years living a life on her own terms, Yvonne Tate finds that she can’t outwit her past. For Ava Catalina, reaching out to hold on to precious memories means rekindling old hurts while Frances Latham sees her dream for a daughter dashed when tragedy strikes. And then there’s irascible Bettie Shelton, founder and president of the Avalon Scrapbooking Society, who helps others create lasting memories of their past but finds the pages of her own albums empty. As the women gather to scrapbook the details of their lives, they discover that things are not always as they seem.?By turns humorous, wise, and deeply moving, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is a luminous reminder that the things we hold most dear will last a lifetime.


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May 14, 2013

5 Books Mum Will Love This Mother’s Day


We raided The Folio Society’s library of gorgeous books to chose our top 5 book gifts for Mother’s Day – from Elizabeth David’s Mediterranean recipes and stories to the addictive Miss Marple Short Stories.

All Folio books are completed with exclusively commissioned illustrations to bring the text to vibrant life and feature specially designed hardback covers as well as elegant typeset on the highest quality paper.



Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Introduced by Margaret Atwood and illustrated by Anna C. Lepar, $59.95

For the novelist Margaret Atwood, Anne of Green Gables, set in the idyllic countryside of Canada’s Prince Edward Island, was so much a part of her childhood that she cannot remember when she first read it. And at one level it is just that – a marvellous children’s book in which the resourceful heroine’s vivid imagination lands her in endless scrapes: she mistakes currant wine for raspberry cordial, puts liniment instead of vanilla into a cake and dyes her flaming hair green. But as Atwood says in her introduction, this is a book – like Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist and The Secret Garden – that pursues you into adulthood, in which the headlong adventures of an endearing orphan are underpinned by the darker realities of human behaviour – gossip, malice, love withheld.




A Book of Mediterranean Food and other writings by Elizabeth David

Introduced by Julian Barnes, $79.99

A Book of Mediterranean Food, her first great classic, was based on memories of happy years spent in France, Italy, the Greek Islands and Egypt. Combined here with a selection of essays from An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, it reveals a passion for good food as well as a marvellous ability to evoke atmosphere and place, whether it is the beautiful almond country surrounding Valencia or the pleasure of buying piping hot pissaladière in the markets of Marseilles. Here are market stalls piled high with aubergines, tomatoes, melons, figs and limes; wooden barrels of glistening olives; the sheen of rain on an old terracotta oil jar; fresh dates in tortoiseshell colours and the pungent scent of fresh saffron. In the belief that producing good food should always be a ‘labour of love’, Elizabeth David provides a stunning array of recipes that introduce the reader to the individual flavours that characterise Mediterranean cuisine.


Miss Marple Short Stories by Agatha Christie

Introduced by Stella Duffy. Illustrations by Andrew Davidson, $64.95

One of The Folio Society’s all time bestsellers, The Complete Miss Marple Short Stories is now available in this new edition featuring newly commissioned illustrations by Andrew Davidson. This complete collection features all 20 short stories, including ‘The Tuesday Night Club’, ‘A Christmas Tragedy’ and ‘The Case of the Perfect Maid’. They are neatly encapsulated by Henry Clithering’s cry at the solution of ‘Ingots of Gold’: ‘Miss Marple, you are wonderful!’


The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates

Introduced by Ian Jack. Illustrated by Alice Tait, $49.95

Gorging on ice cream, wondering whether to cook two roast geese or three, mixing up cocktails whose strength leaves casual visitors prostrate – the Larkins are gargantuan in their appetites. Magnificently vulgar, their house contains a galleon-shaped cocktail cabinet and gold taps in the bathroom (over which local ladies exclaim in horror). Yet the entire Larkin family is also blessed with an acute appreciation for nature and beauty, revelling in hearing the nightingale, wandering through the bluebell wood and enjoying the splendid bounty of their surroundings. The Larkins infect everyone around them with their own Homeric lust for life; from prim Miss Pilchester who longs for Pop’s velvety kisses, to the anaemic tax officer who falls in love with the exquisitely seductive Mariette. ‘The Larkins’ secret,’ H. E. Bates wrote, ‘is in fact that they live as many of us would like to live if only we had the guts and nerve to flout the conventions.’ By the end of this effervescent comedy the Larkins have seduced, charmed or outwitted every other character – and the reader as well.


Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin

Preface by Elaine Feinstein. Illustrated by Anna and Elena Balbusso, $67.95

If a single book could be said to represent Russian literature, it is Alexander Pushkin’s magnificent novel in verse, Eugene Onegin. First published in full in 1833, it is considered to be the fountainhead of literature in the language. Its fame is international: it has inspired films, television series and a ballet as well as an opera by Tchaikovsky. Pushkin’s tour de force is as sparkling, witty and deeply moving today as when it was first written.


Onegin, a dashing, cynical and bored nobleman who has taken over his uncle’s estate in the country, spurns the love of the shy, bookish Tatyana Larina. But as Eugene’s life unravels and Tatyana’s blossoms, their roles are transformed. Eugene Onegin moves effortlessly between feeling and frivolity, delicious comedy and desperate sadness.The story’s rich emotional range is perfectly conveyed through Pushkin’s much-imitated 14-line Onegin stanza. This is also a wonderful portrait of Imperial Russia, from ‘the crush, the glitter and the gladness’ of St Petersburg balls to the peace of the snow-bound countryside.

What are you getting mum for Mother’s Day?

April 24, 2013

Your Top 5 April Books

Need a new read? We’ve got 5 fab new releases for you – from a can’t-put-down tale of friendship, to an award-winning family saga set in rural England.


Cat and Fiddle, by Lesley Jorgensen . Published By Scribe Publications, RRP $29.99


Cat and Fiddle, was the winner of the 2011 CAL Scribe Fiction Prize for an unpublished manuscript and is Lesley Jorgensen’s debut novel. It follows the scandals and fortunes of two connected families in rural Wiltshire; the Anglo-Bangladeshi Choudhurys and the establishment Bourne family.

Cat & Fiddle centres on these two families whose lives become entwined at the country estate of Bourne Abbey. While Dr Choudhury is busy advising Henry Bourne on the restoration of the abbey to its former glory, his wife’s main concern is marrying off their three children, whose chances of good matches are dwindling by the day. Thankfully, for the royal family always seems to have a solution to her problems: how to find a wife for a reluctant son; how to manage a difficult father-in-law; and, of course, how not to deal an inter-faith relationship.


Then there’s the Bourne family. Henry’s wife, Thea, is feeling lost, now that she’s got the lifestyle she’s always longed for. His elder brother, Richard, a successful London barrister, finds himself increasingly drawn to the family home — the inheritance that he’s given up. Meanwhile, Henry just wants to keep the peace, but that’s proving to be tricky . . . ?

?And finally, there’s Bourne Abbey itself: the repository of an ancient mystery that links the histories and cultures of the Bournes and the Choudhurys in a way that no one could have anticipated.?

?Grace Grows, by Shelle Sumners. Published By Allen and Unwin, RRP $29.99


A wonderfully upbeat and quirky romance in which a young textbook editor in New York, who takes herself a little too seriously, falls for a singer-songwriter who appears to take nothing at all seriously . . .


Like many young women, Grace Barnum’s life is precariously balanced on sensible choices and uncomfortable compromise. She dutifully edits textbooks that she fears may be more harmful than helpful to kids. She is engaged to a patent attorney with whom she has a reliable relationship. She has a cautious relationship with her fascinating father, a renowned New York painter, and she prefers her mother slightly drunk as she’s easier to handle that way.


Always organised, always a planner, Grace carries her life around in a handbag – that is, until the responsibility-challenged Tyler Wilkie shows up. Tyler of the warm eyes and a smile that makes Grace drop things. Worst of all, he writes tender, loving, devastating songs – about her. Tyler reaches something in Grace, something she needs, but can’t admit to. Something she wants, but won’t succumb to. Falling in love with him would ruin everything. And yet . . An enchanting story about learning to love and learning to let go.

The Ambassador’s Daughter, by Pam Jenoff. Published by Harlequin Mira, RRP $29.99


The world’s leaders have gathered to rebuild from the ashes of the Great War. But for one woman, the City of Light harbours dark secrets and dangerous liaisons… Brought to the Peace Conference by her German diplomat father, Margot resents being trapped in Paris where she is still looked upon as the enemy. Yet returning to Berlin means a life with the wounded fiancé she barely knows. Torn between duty and the desire to be free, Margot strikes up unlikely alliances with Krysia, a musician who protects a secret, and with Georg, the handsome, damaged naval officer who makes Margot question where her true loyalties should lie. Against the backdrop of one of the most significant events of the century, a delicate web of lies obscures the line between the casualties of war and of the heart, making trust a luxury that no one can afford.


Perfect for those who love a good historical romance. This is the prequel to the best selling novel The Kommandant’s Girl also by Pam Jenoff.


One Good Friend Deserves Another, by Lisa Verge Higgins. Published By Allen and Unwin, RRP $27.99


A funny and heartfelt story of four best friends who, one heartbreak at a time, created a set of rules for relationships. But now in their mid-30s, those rules might need to be broken. New from the bestselling author of The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship.


Dhara, Kelly, Marta, and Wendy have been the closest of friends since college. So close, that after a series of romantic disasters, they bond together to create Rules of Relationships to keep their hearts safe.

?How many of these dating rules have you broken? 1. Choose Your Own Man 2. Make Sure Your Friends Approve 3. No One-Night Stands 4. Trust Your Instincts 5. Never Make the Same Mistake Twice 6. After a Break-Up, Wait Six Months Before Dating Again.

?Years later, the rules seem to have worked . . . until Marta discovers that her hot boyfriend is married, Kelly begins a risky love affair, Wendy inches closer to a pre-marital infidelity, and, most shocking of all, Indian-American Dhara suddenly agrees to an arranged marriage.

?Hearts are about to be broken and the bonds of friendship are tested. Is it possible to find true love, when you’re breaking all the rules?



My Wild Ride, by Fiona Johnson. Published By Allen and Unwin, RRP $29.99


The inspiring true story of how rodeo champion, Fiona Johnson’s faith and determination helped her achieve her dreams and overcome some of life’s greatest obstacles.


Fiona Johnson was born a city girl. But she was always drawn to horses. Aged 10 she saved all of her pocket money to buy a saddle at a garage sale. Eventually, after months of nagging her parents, she persuaded them to buy her a horse to go with the saddle. And so began a life-long love affair with horses and Rodeo.


Fiona eventually moved from city to country when she met the love of her life Matt. Sadly tragedy struck shortly after they were married. Fiona was diagnosed with Leukaemia, a rare form of cancer. She wasn’t given very long to live.?But Fiona is a fighter. She was determined to beat her illness. And determined to fulfill her dream of participating in Rodeo events. Shortly after her release from seven months in hospital, Fiona decided now was the time to finally learn how to rope. She desperately wanted to be part of the Rodeo world. After many failed practice sessions, she eventually got the hang of it and went on to win the rookie title for ladies breakaway roping in 2005.

?Now ten years later, in remission and with two children, she can look back at the most difficult time in her life and revel in her triumph over near tragedy.?Fiona is a true survivor and a champion roper. This is her story.


What’s the last book your read and loved?

April 4, 2013

Our Top 5 New Reads For March


An epic page-turner set in World War II, Jodi Picoult’s latest bestseller, a heartwarming novel of mothers and daughters – we’ve got 5 must-read books you’ll love going into March…


The Storyteller’s Daughter by Maria Goodin. Published By Allen and Unwin RRP $27.99

Meg May can’t remember anything about her early childhood but her cookery-obsessed, fairytale-telling mother has filled her in on all the important details. Meg knows that her father was a French chef who died in a tragic pastry-making accident; that as a premature baby she was put on a sunny windowsill to ripen; and that the scar on her cheek was the result of a nasty nip from one of her mother’s crab cakes.
But, at eight years old, Meg rebels against this fictional life and decides there and then to turn her back on the world of stories, determined to let logic rule every thought and deed. Now on the verge of a respected scientific career with a scientist boyfriend who believes only in facts, Meg is called home. Her mother is ill and as Meg spends one last beautiful summer baking, gardening and talking with her mother, rediscovering what’s important, she longs to know the reality of her life–but Meg may not discover the truth in time.


A poignant, funny and heartwarming novel of mothers and daughters, families and secrets, this is a book to lose–and find yourself–in.


Rough Diamond by Kathryn Ledson. Published By Penguin Group RRP $29.99

Funny, romantic, and action-packed, Rough Diamond introduces Australia’s own Stephanie Plum – the unforgettable Erica Jewell.


The shock ending to Erica Jewell’s marriage left a huge hole in her bank balance and a bigger one in her heart. And now her life goals make a very short list: no surprises, no debt and, definitely, no men. That is, until she finds one bleeding to death in her Melbourne garden one stormy Friday night. 


Jack Jones is a man whose emotional wounds are more life-threatening than the bullet in his shoulder. Under orders, he recruits Erica to his secret team of vigilantes, and Erica suspects her safe, predictable world is about to be turned upside down.  And she’s absolutely right.


Critics are raving about Kathryn Ledson’s debut novel as it is a rollicking tale with fabulous characters, lots of laughs and an exciting plot. A new star on the rise in Australian romantic fiction!


The Storyteller by Jodie Picoult. Published By Allen and Unwin RRP $29.99

An astonishing novel about redemption and forgiveness from number-one bestselling author Jodi Picoult.? After befriending an old man in her town, Sage Singer is deeply shocked when he begs her for a terrible favour – until he shares his darkest secret with her. In the latest novel from master storyteller, Jodi Picoult, she asks: can evil ever be forgiven? And can murder ever be justified?


Sage Singer is a young woman who has been damaged by her past. Her solitary night work as a baker allows her to hide from the world and focus her creative energies on the beautiful bread she bakes.?Yet she finds herself striking up an unlikely friendship. Josef Weber is a quiet, grandfatherly man, well respected in the community; everyone’s favourite retired teacher and Little League coach.?One day he asks Sage for a favour: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses. Then Josef tells her that he deserves to die – and why.?What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed horrendous acts ever truly redeem themselves? Is forgiveness yours to offer if you aren’t the person who was wronged?


And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – would it be murder, or justice?



The Captive Sun by Irena Karafilly. Published By Picador RRP $29.99

Calliope Adham is a schoolmistress in the Greek village of Molyvos when Hitler’s army invades in 1941. Young and linguistically gifted, she is promptly recruited by the Germans, to work as their liaison officer. It is the beginning of a personal and national saga that will last well over thirty years.

Calliope’s wartime duties bring her into close contact with a Wehrmacht officer named Lieutenant Umbreit. Their improbable friendship blossoms despite Calliope’s clandestine work for the Resistance, in a fishing village seething with dread and suspicion.


Amid privation and death, village hostility finally erupts, but the bond between Calliope and Umbreit survives the Occupation, taking unforeseeable turns. Their relationship continues through several tumultuous decades, as Greece is ravaged by civil war, oppressed by military dictatorship, and finally liberated in the mid 1970s.
The Captive Sun is a haunting novel, weaving the private and the historic into a vivid tapestry of Greek island life. An epic page-turner, it chronicles the story of an extraordinary woman and her lifelong struggle against social and political tyranny.



Be Careful What You Wish For by Gemma Crisp. Published by Allen and Unwin $24.99

Everything seems to be going right for Nina – hot boyfriend, a sparkling social life and a dream job in the glamorous world of magazines. Surely nothing could possibly spoil this perfect picture? A fun and fast-paced new novel from the editor of CLEO.
When Nina Morey gets her perfectly pedicured toe on the first rung of the highly-competitive magazine publishing ladder, she can’t believe her luck. Then she lands the hottest man in town AND her best friend relocates from the other side of the world to help her paint the town neon pink. Nina’s life has suddenly turned from dull to dream come true.?Soon she’s scaling the magazine ladder faster than you can say ‘Anna Wintour’, securing dream job after dream job, while schmoozing her way around Sydney’s hottest spots. Life is good. What could possibly go wrong??Strap on your highest heels for a fast-paced peek inside the glossy world of the Australian magazine industry.


What are you reading right now?

February 27, 2013

What Kind Of Bird Are You?

Lovebirds By Trevor Silverster

Hachette Publisher RRP $29.99

‘One of the biggest mistakes we make,’ Trevor Silvester says, ‘is to treat other people as if they are just like us. I’m a Harley Street therapist, and over nearly twenty years I’ve been helping couples improve their lives together, and one thing is clear to me: most couples don’t flounder through lack of love, but through a lack of understanding.’

Lovebirds includes a multiple choice test so that readers can discover which type they – and their partners – belong to.

Eight distinct personality types, here named after different types of bird, dictate much of what we do, say and think and how we go about it. In-depth personality tests that have been used to diffuse co-worker conflict for years can shed light on your relationship, whether it be budding, established or yet to be formed.

Do the quiz, find out what kind of bird you are, what your partner is, and how to find a common language. Then there is a description of each type – what makes them tick, their likes and dislikes, how they tend to behave, their body language, what they tend to look like, the line of work and hobbies they are likely to choose, their hopes and fears.

So in this section you can read about yourself – and your partner. The final section looks at all the different possible combinations between the types, showing how misunderstandings can arise and giving advice on how to keep love between the different types of birds going and growing.

Trevor Silverster is a qualified cognitive hypnotherapist and couples coach and has over 20 years experience working with couples in London. He is an owl married to a swan making it work!

February 26, 2013
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