Book Reviews

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

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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

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

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.

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!

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?

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!

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?

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?

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? 

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?

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?

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?

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?

Perfect Match: Best Books For Your Holiday Destination


Summer holidays are synonymous with lazy days spent by the beach or pool with a good book, or discovering new destinations, cultures and flavours. The Folio Society have put together a list of classic books that will transport you away…



Wine and food lovers – Barossa Valley

What better way to unwind after a day touring cellar doors or picnicking among the vines than with the entertaining anecdotes and recipes by renowned food writer Elizabeth David, who strongly influenced the revitalisation of home cookery in Britain in the mid-20th century.

A Book of Mediterranean Food, Elizabeth David’s 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 pissaladiére in the markets of Marseilles. RRP $74.95



Ideal for foodies, The Folio Society’s edition features an introduction by award-winning writer Julian Barnes, 19 drawings by English painter John Minton, and eight full-page watercolours by artist Sophie MacCarthy.



Romantic beach escape – Whitsundays

Whether snorkelling in the azure waters of the Coral Sea, island hopping or lounging on the white sand beaches, the Whitsunday Islands are a perfect base for a romantic getaway.


Never let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is an unforgettable story of friendship, love and the value of human life. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2005, this is an unforgettable, poignant story by the author of The Remains of the Day.


Glamping – Uluru

Get lost in a classic adventure story inspired by novelists Jack Kerouac and George Orwell in the spiritual heart of the Red Centre in the World Heritage-listed wilderness of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.



Set during the Alaskan gold rush of 1897, Jack London’s classic adventure story, The Call of the Wild, inspired Kerouac and Orwell. Readers who first encountered The Call of the Wild as children will find re-reading this classic American tale of a drifter and survivor richly rewarding.


Road tripping – Great Ocean Road

One of the world’s most scenic drives, the Great Ocean Road is the perfect backdrop to On the Road, a thrilling and poignant story of the road less travelled.


A fictionalised account of Jack’s own journeys across America with his friend Neal Cassady, Kerouac’s beatnik odyssey On the Road, captured the soul of a generation and changed the landscape of American fiction for ever.

What is your favourite classic book?

5 Minutes With Killer Heels Author Rebecca Chance


Nobody does sassy quite like Rebecca Chance. She puts Fifty Shades in the dark…and in much better shoes. Rebecca lives the glamorous life in London and Italy and knows how to mix a mean cocktail (and spin a saucy story)…

Can you tell us a little about your latest novel Killer Heels? Where did you get your inspiration from this novel?

It’s about a very ambitious young woman, Jodie Raeburn, who is desperate to become a famous fashion editor, and the journey she takes to achieve her goal. I loved setting the book in the fashion world, as it’s so obsessed with image and identity, and it’s also very sexy! Jodie apprentices herself to Victoria Glossop, the editor of STYLE magazine, who has her own driving ambitions, and the two women’s stories are interlinked. Jodie starves herself from a UK size twelve to a size zero (UK size 4), and embarks on a torrid affair with the Svengali Jacob Dupleix, her boss, to try to walk in Victoria’s footsteps – but though the two women have the same goals, their paths are very different. Victoria thinks she’s got everything she ever wanted – but during the course of Killer Heels, she discovers a whole new sexual side to herself she never thought possible, and starts to crave something completely new…




Your interests range from gymnastics and trapeze to pole-dancing, and apparently you make a mean cocktail. Can you take us through a normal day in the life of Rebecca Chance if there is such a thing?

Well, right now I’m in Tuscany, where I used to live full-time – I still share a place there with friends and go back (from London, where I’m now based) about four times a year. I’m here for a month, writing and seeing friends and tanning – my husband’s coming back and forth a couple of times. So I get up, make myself a cappuccino, let in the neighbour’s dog Whisky, who waits outside for me to open the front door, pet him, fire up the computer and check emails/do some writing. Then I’ll go for a hike – I have Nordic poles here, given to me by my GBF, who we share with. I met him doing gymnastics in NYC, and he was my trapeze partner for a while, so we share a love of exercise. I’ve really taken to the poles – you can definitely feel your upper body working well.


Whisky will come on the walk, and also another neighbour’s dog Oliver, a big plump Golden Retriever who really needs the exercise. And my friend Laura Lippman, a crime writer who’s renting a villa near us with her family, will come for the walk as well. It’s such a treat to have a regular exercise buddy visiting. We work out together most days. We’ll gossip about our husbands and fellow crime writers up and down the hills, then come back, shower and go down to the village for lunch – a restaurant in the piazza has tarted itself up very chicly and does a bresaola salad with goat’s cheese and grapefruit vinaigrette which is perfect for Ladies who Lunch. Washed down with some Vermentino wine, of course.

Then we might go back to Laura’s, swim in the pool of her villa and do a Pure Barre DVD. Or I might meet up with my friend Andrea at the local pool, or go with him to a gay nudist lake about twenty minutes drive away for a sunbathe. In the evening, I’ll have dinner with friends, either at theirs or one of our lovely local restaurants. I’ve been in Chianti on and off for 15 years, so I know the people who run all the great, well-priced places and avoid the tourist traps. Or I might drive into Florence for dinner with girlfriends – one has an apartment with a little terrace overlooking the Arno, and another is a collector of new restaurants and loves to introduce us to her latest find.



Or I might have a quiet evening in at home, drinking prosecco or Chianti, eating beef tartare from the butcher with artichokes, reading, Facebooking, and thinking about what I’m going to write the next day. Whisky will probably visit, and I’ll kick him out before going to bed, pulling the mosquito net around the bed firmly closed and hoping I didn’t get bitten too much this evening…


How long does it take you to write each of your novels and what is the process you go through?

It does go faster with time, mainly because I have got a lot better at outlining in advance before I start to write. My editor and I meet up, drink rose wine on the rooftop terrace of my London club (that’s become a tradition of ours), and plan the next book – often we’ve already knocked around ideas and have a good sense of what it will be about. We brainstorm together, then I go off and outline and send it to her; it can be up to 11 pages. The more detail the better, as if a plot point doesn’t work in an outline, it’s glaringly obvious, so you can fix most glitches at this stage. She approves the outline, making suggestions if necessary, and then I start writing. I try to do about 2,000 words a day, and my first draft is usually 95% of what will be the final book. I hate editing so try to get almost everything right the first time!

What do you think of the recent success of books like “50 Shades of Grey” and the rise of so-called “mummy porn”?

I think it’s brilliant that women can be so unembarrassed now about reading smutty, sexy books – that’s very feminist. Shame that the ethos of “50 Shades” seems a bit old-fashioned, though, with the heroine being a young virgin and the hero a multi-millionaire – it sounds a bit romance novel. However, I think the term ‘mummy porn’ is hugely sexist! No-one says ‘daddy porn’, do they?



What is the best thing about being an author?


Not having to get up early in the morning and struggle through a miserable commute to work.

What books have inspired you?

For the bonkbusters: Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise series, Judith Krantz.



What books would we find on your bedside right now?

PG Wodehouse’s The Little Nugget, Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, Dorothy L Sayers’s ‘Striding Folly’, Laurell K Hamilton’s ‘Guilty Pleasures’, Georgette Heyer’s ‘A Blunt Instrument’, Katherine Webb’s ‘The Unseen’, Julian Fellowes’s ‘Snobs’, Tanith Lee’s ‘Sound and Furies’, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ‘The Shuttle’.



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

I have no e-anythings, but I’m a terrible Luddite and have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century. The important thing is that people read books, not how. I’ve heard that people are actually buying more books now that e-readers have come in, which is fantastic!


We’re giving away 10 copies of Killer Heels – enter here!


5 Winter Must-Reads


As the weather turns colder it is always nice to curl up with a good book when you get the chance. We have 5 new release novels that will make you laugh, cry and wish you could write fiction like these fabulous women.



Overseas, by Beatriz Williams. Published by Allen and Unwin RRP $29.99

When twenty-something Wall Street analyst Kate Wilson attracts the notice of the legendary Julian Laurence at a business meeting, no one’s more surprised than she. Julian’s relentless energy and his extraordinary intellect electrify her, but she’s baffled by his sudden interest. Why would this handsome British billionaire — Manhattan’s most eligible bachelor — pursue a pretty but bookish young banker who hasn’t had a boyfriend since college?


The answer is beyond imagining . . . at least at first. Kate and Julian’s story may have begun not in the moneyed world of twenty-first-century Manhattan but in France during World War I, when a mysterious American woman emerged from the shadows of the Western Front to save the life of Captain Julian Laurence Ashford, a celebrated war poet and infantry officer. Now, in modern-day New York, Kate and Julian must protect themselves from the secrets of the past, and trust in a true love that transcends time and space.


‘History meets romance meets suspense! Compelling, original and wildly romantic, Beatriz Williams’ prose is stunning and the plot edge-of-your-seat gripping. Overseas is an absolute triumph – I loved every page.’ Tilly Bagshawe, New York Times bestselling author.


Friends Forever, by Danielle Steel. Published by Bantam Press RRP $32.95

Five young children – two girls and three boys – all with strikingly different looks and talents, meet at the elite Atwood school. There is Billy, with a full head of curly red hair, who refuses to go anywhere without his toy football. And Sean, a dark-haired boy with striking blue eyes, who hopes to one day be sheriff. Petite Gabrielle is already a blonde bombshell, while her counterpart Izzie keeps her brown hair pulled back in braids and her outfits neat and business-like. And finally, there’s well-mannered, blond Andy, with a serious demeanour beyond his years.


Together, these children become an inseparable group – known to outsiders as ‘The Big Five’. They lean on one another through all of the bumps and bends of their childhood years, including parental divorce, drinking, drugs, and even death. But when the tight-knit group parts ways after their graduation, their lives veer off in different directions.


Tragedy hits when they are separated, and some of the friends are lost forever…The ones who remain will have to deal with the fallout, because ‘The Big Five’ – which they thought would always stay strong – is no longer. While some of the friends are crushed by this Stark new reality, others will be surprised to find love and hope where they least expect it…



Summer at Willow Lake, by Susan Wiggs. Published By Mira RRP $19.99

Olivia Bellamy has traded her trendy Manhattan life for a summer renovating her family’s crumbling holiday resort. Tempted by the hazy, nostalgic memories of summers past – childhood innocence and the romance and rivalries of her teens – it’s the perfect place for Olivia to flee after her broken engagement. But what began as an escape may just be a new beginning.


As Olivia uncovers secrets buried thick with dust, one by one her family return, their lives as frayed at the edges as the resort. Her father and the mystery woman in the tatty black and white photograph. Uncle John, who’s trying to be a father again to his teenage kids. Connor Davis, the first love she never forgot. Laughter is ringing around Willow Lake once more. This could be Olivia’s summer of a lifetime!



Archipelago, by Monique Roffey. Published By Simon and Schuster RRP $29.99

When a flood destroys Gavin Weald’s home, tearing apart his family and his way of life, he doesn’t know how to continue. A year later, he returns to his rebuilt home and tries to start again, but when the new rainy season arrives, so do his daughter’s nightmares about the torrents, and life there becomes unbearable. So father and daughter – and their dog – embark upon a voyage to make peace with the waters. Their journey will take them far from their Caribbean island home, into other unknown harbours and eventually across a massive ocean. They will sail through archipelagos, encounter the grandeur of the sea, meet with the challenges and surprises of the natural world.
A miraculous future lies ahead of them, unknown territories await to be discovered. But it will take more than an ocean to put the memory of the flood behind them…



What are you reading right now?

5 Aussie Home-Grown Romance Reads


Fabulous Aussie authors must be taking over the literary world if our Shesaid letter box is anything to go by lately! We have seen a slew of great Aussie romance novels come across our desk in the last few months and we thought it high time we reviewed a few of the best ones for you. So if you like your romance novels with strong Aussie chicks, set in the great Australian outback then we have your perfect top 5 new reading list!


1. Jacaranda by Mandy Magro

At 19, Molly Jones has the world at her feet. Then one drunken night she falls into bed with Mark, a cowboy just passing through. By the time Molly realises she’s pregnant, Mark is long gone. Now, at twenty-six, Molly’s life is almost perfect. She’s the devoted mother of Rose, and a renowned horse trainer. She lives amid the beauty of Jacaranda Farm, surrounded by family and friends – none closer than hunky stockman Heath. But she’s still looking for the love of her life, and a father for Rose. When Mark stumbles back into her world, as charming as ever, Molly begins to hope for a future she’d long ago relinquished. But how will Mark react when he learns he’s a father? And could the man of Molly’s dreams be closer to home than she thinks?

From the author of “Rosalee Station”, this lively and passionate love story bursts with the colour and feel of Tropical North Queensland.



2. Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry

Trapped in rugged country in scorching summer heat, pursued by ruthless gunmen who can t afford to fail, Jo and Nick will need all their skills and courage to survive. The national parks where Ranger Jo Lockwood works, on the edge of the NSW outback, are untamed stretches of dry forest cut through with wild rivers. She s often alone, and she likes it that way until she discovers the body of a man, brutally murdered, in a vandalised campground.


Detective Senior Sergeant Nick Matheson knows organised crime and gang violence from the inside out. He s so good at undercover work that his colleagues aren t sure which side he s really on. His posting to Strathnairn is supposed to be a return to normal duties, but the murder victim in the campground is only the first of Jo s discoveries. As Jo and Nick uncover drugs and a stash of illegal weapons, the evidence points towards locals young men already on the wrong side of the law. But as far as Nick s concerned, it doesn t add up. When the body count starts mounting each brutally punished before death he becomes convinced that one person is behind the killings, one person is manipulating the men to commit horrific crimes, forming them into his own private drug-dealing cartel.


Jo has seen the man’s face, and now she’s his next target. Nick s determined to protect her, but trapped in the rugged outback he and Jo will have to act quickly if they are going to survive.


3. Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein

Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strong willed – some might even say stubborn – and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ – showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod. Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won’t go without a fight. What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself – a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own. But with every day that Lachie stays, Brooke’s future on the farm is more uncertain. Will she be forced to choose between her home and the man she’s falling for?


A vivid, moving and passionate story of love and redemption from the author of Promises.


4. Wattle Creek by Fiona McCallum

Damien McAllister is a man on the brink. Spending long, hard days on a farm he has no affection for, and nights ignoring the criticisms of his mother, Damien can no longer remember what he’s living for. But in a small town like Wattle Creek, there are few people to turn to – and Damien learned long ago to keep his problems to himself. Until Jacqueline Havelock, a young psychologist escaping her own issues, arrives fresh from the city and makes Damien question everything he has known about himself…also igniting a spark in his lonely heart. Soon Damien is daring to ask for more than an ordinary life, and can glimpse the possibility of happiness. Will this accidental farmer dare to fulfil the long-forgotten legacy of his father and find peace in the arms of the doctor?


Or will the ghosts of their pasts threaten the fragile new lives they’ve just begun to build?


5. The Road Home by Fiona Palmer

Lara Turner has a boyfriend, a nice house in the city and a chance at a big promotion. So when her brother calls asking her to come home, she hesitates. Can she face the memoires that inhabit the beloved place of her childhood? And how does she feel with the news it’s to be sold? Could she be the answer to saving the family farm? Jack Morgan has memoires of his own to contend with. A falling out with his family and a bitter end to a past relationship have left a big chip on his shoulder. When his best mate’s beautiful sister arrives on the scene, he finds himself deeply conflicted. Lara and Jack have a powerful attraction but are constantly at odds. Will their love of the same land keep them apart, or grow into a love of a different kind?

From the bestselling author of The Family Farm and Heart of Gold comes a heartwarming novel about finding your true place in the world, and the healing power of the land.

What’s your favourite Aussie romance?

Top 5 Autumn Reads

Now that those long summer days are behind us it’s time to curl up on the couch with a good book. We’ve found 5 of the best new autumn reads, from a murder mystery to Peter Carey’s emotional love story. What are you reading now?

The Hidden Summit, by Robyn Carr. Published by Mira, RRP $29.99.

When Connor Danson unwittingly witnesses a violent crime, he is forced to leave Sacremento and keep a low profile until the trial is over. He arrives in the tiny mountain town of Virgin River with a chip on his shoulder and an ache in his heart.?Leslie Petruso didn’t want to leave her hometown either. But she couldn’t stand another minute of listening to her ex-husband tell everyone that his new wife and impending fatherhood are the best things that ever happened to him. Virgin River may not be home, but it’s a place where she can be anonymous. Neither Connor nor Leslie are remotely interested in starting a relationship…until they meet one another. Even they can’t deny they have a lot in common – broken hearts notwithstanding. And in Virgin River, no one can stay hidden away from life and love for very long…

The Festival By The Sea, by June Loves. Published by Penguin Books Australia, RRP $27.95.

Gina Laurel is ready to move on from her quiet life at Shelly Beach – and she’s got the brilliant job offer to prove it. But when her erstwhile lover – and director of the inaugural Shelly Beach Writers’ Festival – takes a job in the city, Gina finds herself the last-minute fill-in as director of the chaotic seaside festival.

Before she can rejoin the rat race, she must negotiate her way through celebrity-author hissy fits, champagne galas, rogue pirates and giant mice . . . not to mention a love/hate relationship with the former festival director. As the festival looms ever closer, Gina has some big decisions to make. Is she really ready to swap her ocean view for an office desk and the bright lights of the city?

From the author of The Shelly Beach Writers’ Group comes the second hilarious instalment of Gina’s adventures at Shelly Beach, full of wit, warmth and whimsy.

Catch Me, by Lisa Gardner. Published by Headline Fiction, RRP $32.99.

The latest brilliant novel in the D.D. Warren series from Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller Lisa Gardner.
Detective D.D. Warren thought she’d seen it all. Until a lone woman outside D.D.’s latest crime scene shocks her with a remarkable proposition: twenty-seven-year-old Charlene Grant believes she will be murdered in four days. And she’d like Boston’s top detective to handle the investigation. Every year, at 8 p.m. on 21 January, a woman has died. Different states, different police jurisdictions, always the same MO, and all with one link in common: childhood best friends from a small town in New Hampshire. Now only one friend remains, Charlie Grant.

But this friend doesn’t plan on going down without a fight. As D.D. races against the clock to find a lone gunman killing pedophiles in Boston, she must also delve into the murders of Charlie’s friends, seeking the common thread to help unravel what kind of person would track down childhood playmates, only to murder them one by one.

The Long Road Home, by Mary Alice Munroe Published By Mira RRP $29.99.

Her husband’s suicide left Nora MacKenzie alone, and his shady Wall Street dealings left the Manhattan socialite penniless. By a miracle she’s held on to their mountainside farm – and she’ll keep holding on, no matter what. The property is Nora’s one chance to wring some dignity out of the sham she’s been living. The Vermont locals think she’s a city girl on a nature kick, but she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. Nora’s serious about learning the farming business… if she can figure out where to begin. Against the locals’ skepticism, she has only one ally: Charles ‘C.W.’ Walker.??C.W. is hardworking, gentle with animals and a patient teacher of the hundreds of chores Nora needs to learn. Slowly she starts to believe she’ll survive in her new life, even flourish. She might even be willing to open her heart again. But she won’t return to a life of lies…and the truth about C.W. may be more than Nora’s fragile heart can bear.

The Chemistry of Tears, by Peter Carey. Published by Penguin Books Australia, RRP $39.95.

An automaton, a secret love story, a man and a woman who can never meet, and the fate of the warming world are all brought to incandescent life in this haunting new novel from one of the most admired writers of our time.? ?When Catherine Gehrig, a museum conservator and clock expert, finds out that her very married lover of thirteen years has dropped dead, she has keep her grief a secret. But with no outlet other than vodka, her sorrow is close to driving the hyper-rational Catherine mad. The only person who knew of their affair–her boss–tries to distract and rescue her by giving her a project that demands all of her attention: the reconstruction of an elaborate nineteenth-century automaton.

In the crates containing its bits and pieces, Catherine discovers a series of notebooks written by Henry Brandling, who, in 1854, commissioned the extraordinary, eerie mechanical creature in an attempt to bring joy to his consumptive little son. Henry’s is a personal account of his adventures in the wilds of Germany, a diary that brings Catherine unexpected comfort, fellow feeling and wonder. But it is the automaton itself, in its beautiful, uncanny imitation of life, that links Henry’s life to Catherine’s, as both are confronted with the miracle and catastrophe of human invention, and the body’s astonishing chemistry of love and feeling.

What are you reading right now?

Q&A with The Memory Keeper’s Daughter Author Kim Edwards

The Lake of Dreams, by Kim Edwards. Published By Penguin Books Australia, RRP $29.95.

The darkest secrets are the ones we hide from ourselves.

Ten years ago, traumatized by her father’s death, Lucy left her home and her country. Now, she returns to her family’s rambling lakeside home to lay old ghosts to rest.

Sleepless one night, Lucy makes a momentous discovery. Locked in a moonlit window seat is a collection of family heirlooms – objects whose secrets no one was ever supposed to find. Piecing together her family’s true history, she realises that the story she has always been told was a fiction…Mesmerising and haunting, The Lake of Dreams is a startling story of family secrets and lies, lost love and redemption, and of the many pieces and puzzles that make up a life.

With revelations as captivating as the deceptions at the heart of her best-selling phenomenon, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards now gives us the story of a woman’s homecoming to the lake of her childhood, and the discovery of a secret past that will alter her understanding of her heritage, and herself, forever. A powerful family narrative and a story of love lost and found, The Lake of Dreams is an arresting novel in which every vibrant detail emerges as an organic piece of a puzzle. With her signature gifts for lyricism, suspense, and masterly storytelling, Kim Edwards’s new novel will delight those who loved The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and mesmerize millions of new fans.

1. In what ways did the success of Memory Keeper’s Daughter make writing your new novel easier?
Well, I learned a great deal about novel writing from the experience, and I took that knowledge with me into “The Lake of Dreams.” Also, hearing from so many readers, and having such a positive response to the novel here and in many other countries, was both exciting and affirming. I felt a great freedom writing The Lake of Dreams.

2. In what ways did it make it harder?
Making the transition from the very public act of touring to the very private act of writing was difficult at first. It took me a few months to regain some tranquility. Fortunately, I’d begun The Lake of Dreams well before The Memory Keeper’s Daughter was even published, and I was glad to get back to the story.

3. Where did the idea for the story come from?
I can’t point to a specific generating moment the way I sometimes can with stories. Rather, the ideas and images accrued over years. The idea that the comet would be an interesting way to tie generations together came to me while I was still a student, for instance.

4. Early on you have your main character, Lucy, wonder, “could the past ever be just the past?” I’ll ask you the same: can the past ever be just the past?
Good question. That’s really Lucy’s quest in this novel, to resolve the lingering mysteries and sorrows of the past so she can move forward.

5. Secrets play a role in both your novels. Why are you drawn to secrets?
As Hawthorne knew, and Dostoevsky too, secrets provide a strong narrative tension that can serve to highlight the deeper themes of a novel. In “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” the reader knows the secret right away, while many characters don’t. In “The Lake of Dreams,” I set myself a different challenge; I wanted to write a story where no one knew the secret — or even that there was a secret — going in.

6. In what ways were you shaped as a writer by your family history?
I’m something of an anomaly; there are no other writers, at least that I know of, though one great-grandfather was a musician.

7. You grew up in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. In what ways did you draw on that experience as you wrote the book?
I drew on that experience very deeply. Though the Lake of Dreams is a fictional place, it’s very much informed by the years I spent in that region and by my sense of the history and geography.

8. How does teaching at the college level help your writing, and vice-versa?
It’s very helpful. Of course, the writing I do informs my teaching. My classes usually focus strongly on revision, an essential skill for writers. At various times in the writing of both novels I used writing exercises that I assign to students to help me explore my characters more deeply.

9. Why do you write?
Writing has always been one of my greatest pleasures.

If you loved Memory Keepers Daughter then you won’t want to miss reading Lake of Dreams – put it on your Christmas wish list now!

Christmas Gift Guide: 10 Books For The Bookworm In Your Life


We all know someone who loves nothing more than a good book for Christmas – Mum? Aunty Alice ? Your bookworm bestie? – so we’ve selected 10 of our favourites that we know they’ll love.



With My Body, by Nikki Gemmell. HarperCollins, $29.95.

The long-awaited follow-up to the bestselling phenomenon The Bride Stripped Bare, this is the bride a decade later. She is now ‘the wife stripped bare’. With My Body is an intensely personal tale of sexual awakening as well as one wife’s story about every woman’s marriage. Locked into an unending cycle of school runs, laundry and meal times, a wife despairs of ever finding a way through her family to her own identity. Even her husband, whom she loves, has never reached the core of her. In desperation, she flees her comfortable life to revisit an old love affair — an extremely passionate, transforming one. The consequences will be devastating, liberating and entirely unexpected…


Told in Nikki Gemmell’s distinctively lyrical style, this is beautiful, literary writing at its best. Exquisitely raw, emotional and bold, it is deeply resonant of the classic French erotic writings of Colette, Anaïs Nin and Marguerite Duras, but with a modern and provocative twist.


The Next Always, by Nora Roberts. Piatkus, $29.99.

The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen. After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town’s bookstore. Busy, with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett’s transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look…at the building and the man behind it.




The Freudian Slip, by Marion von Adlerstein. Hodder, $32.99.

Early sixties in Sydney. At the advertising agency Bofinger Adams Rawson & Keane, two talented women hold important creative roles. One, Bea, is a copywriter. The other, Desi, is a television producer. Because they are successful in their work and rewarded by it, few of their colleagues know how adept they are at mismanaging their private lives. Anxious to join this starred twosome is a young secretary named Stella, who embodies all the qualities for success — ambition, dedication, energy, efficiency — except creative talent. In its absence she relies on stealth, flattery and plagiarism, to walk, in her Jane Debster toe-peepers, all over the others in realising her ambition. She succeeds. At least, for a while…


Tiger Men, by Judy Nunn. Random House, $32.95.

‘This town is full of tiger men,’ Dan said. ‘Just look around you. The merchants, the builders, the bankers, the company men, they’re all out for what they can get. This is a tiger town, Mick, a place at the bottom of the world where God turns a blind eye to pillage and plunder.’ Van Diemen’s Land was an island of stark contrasts; a harsh penal colony, an English idyll for its landed gentry, and an island so rich in natural resources it was a profiteer’s paradise.


Its capital Hobart Town had its contrasts too; the wealthy elite in their sandstone mansions, the exploited poor in the notorious slum known as Wapping, and the criminals and villains who haunted the dockside taverns and brothels of Sullivan’s Cove. Hobart Town was no place for the meek. Tiger Men is the story of Silas Stanford, a wealthy Englishman; Mick O’Callaghan an Irishman on the run; and Jefferson Powell, an idealistic American political prisoner. It is also the story of the strong, proud women who loved them, and of the children they bore who rose to power in the cut-throat world of international trade. Tiger Men is the sweeping tale of three families who lived through Tasmania’s golden era and witnessed the birth of the Commonwealth of Australia, only to watch its young men consumed by the fires and horror of the First World War.




The Best of Me, by Nicholas Sparks. Sphere, $32.99.

“Everyone wanted to believe that endless love was possible. She’d believed in it once, too, back when she was eighteen.” In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply, irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.


Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance. Neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives. As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions Tuck left behind for them, they realize that everything they thought they knew — about Tuck, about themselves, and about the dreams they held dear — was not as it seemed. Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers will discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: Can love truly rewrite the past?


Women’s Stuff, by Kaz Cooke. Penguin, $59.99.

Whether you’re starting or ending a relationship, a friend has found a lump in her breast, you’re in debt, your partner’s lost interest in sex or you don’t know whether to believe the moisturiser label, Women’s Stuff is your must-have guide, from leaving school to menopause and beyond. It’s a best friend in book form, a complete guide to how to get your life together and face any challenge at any age. It’s also the ultimate fib detector – Kaz has sifted the facts and tested the claims, exposing the lies women are told about cosmetics, other products and their health, and explaining which info you can trust and how to find the truth about everything. It covers the practical side of life, including work, money and homemaking, as well as getting to know and make friends with your body, family, mental and physical health, and sex and relationships.
Three years in preparation, this guide book to making the most of yourself and your life includes the quotes and comments of more than 7000 women from all over the world, sharing their innermost thoughts on everything from sex to housework, drinking problems and hopes for the future. Providing info at your fingertips, if and when you need it, whichever stage your life is at, Women’s Stuff will save you money and make you happier.




Hazel – My Mothers Story, by Sue Pieters- Hawke. Macmillan Australia, $49.99.

Hazel Hawke is one of our most loved and respected Australians. As the wife of a prime minister she brought a down-to-earth warmth to Canberra that influenced everyone she came into contact with. Whether it was working to improve life for the disadvantaged, supporting the arts community or passionately advocating her belief in equality and social inclusion, we all felt her energy, her practicality and her immense capacity for humour and enjoyment.


From the age of eighteen Bob Hawke was the love of her life, yet their journey from youthful idealism to the political realities of Canberra was at times far from easy. The very strengths that made Hawke one of Australia’s longest-serving and most successful leaders – his passion and commitment, his gregariousness and his drive – created their own tensions and issues within the family. After leaving the Lodge, their marriage famously fell apart.


But Hazel’s life was undiminished, as she continued to build her role as an advocate for tolerance and fairness in the broader community and as a mother and a grandmother within her own family. Public love and support for Hazel reached a new peak eight years ago when she publicly announced she’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This intimate, beautiful biography of an extraordinary woman is written by Hazel’s eldest daughter, Sue Pieters-Hawke. Candid, revealing and fascinating it explores Hazel’s life as she navigated personal challenges and profound social changes, and celebrates her value as a mother, wife, role model and tireless worker for the rights and welfare of others.




Lola’s Secret, by Monica McInerney. Penguin Australia, $29.95.

Magic can happen in every family. At the Valley View Motel in South Australia’s picturesque Clare Valley, eighty-four-year-old Lola Quinlan is up to her usual mischief. She’s sent her family away for Christmas and invited a number of mystery guests to come and stay. But who are all these people, and why aren’t they spending the festive season with their own loved ones?


As the big day draws closer and Lola’s personal family dramas threaten to unravel her plans, she discovers that at a special time of year, magic can happen in every family – especially your own. From the bestselling author of At Home with the Templetons comes a funny, sad and moving novel about memories and moments and the very meaning of life.


Explosive Eighteen, by Janet Evanovich. Headline, $22.99.

The exciting new instalment in the adventures of Stephanie Plum – it’s gonna be dynamite!


Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is used to danger and adventure; they follow her at every turn. But when international murder hits dangerously close to home, this could be more explosive than exciting… Once Stephanie steps on the plane from Hawaii to Newark, she hopes to put her hellish holiday behind her. But when her seatmate mysteriously disappears during the stopover in LA – to be found later in a garbage can – things are only going to get worse. Only one other person has seen the missing photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying – and it just so happens to be Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t want to end up in a garbage can…


More to the point, she still has to deal with the fallout from Hawaii. Both the men in her life refuse to talk about it and all Stephanie will say is… It’s complicated.




The Opal Desert, by Di Morrissey. Macmillan Australia, $32.95.

The Opal Desert is the story of three women from different generations with unresolved issues in their lives who meet in the fictitious NSW town of Opal Lake. Kerrie, in her 40s, has just lost her famous sculptor husband who had been the centre of her existence and for whom she made many sacrifices and she now finds her life has lost direction. Shirley, approaching 80, was betrayed by her lover many years before and has retreated from the world, becoming a recluse living in an underground dugout. Anna, 19, has a promising athletic career but is torn between the commitment to her sport which could carry her to the Olympics, or enjoying life like other young people.


The friendship that develops between these three women, who meet in the strangely beautiful but desolate landscape of the opal fields, helps them resolve and come to terms with the next stage of their lives.


Which books are on your Christmas wish list?

Q & A with Kaz Cooke

Q&A with Kaz Cooke, Author of Women’s Stuff

What kind of ground is covered in your new book Women’s Stuff?

It’s not a bossy or shouty “guide to how to live your life”. It’s more like having a best friend in the cupboard who knows everything about everything – so you can consult it for independent advice whether you ‘re wondering if you’re really in love and he’s the one to whether your shampoo is ruining the environment, what Botox actually does to you, how to find a job, or leave one and how to cope with feeling down, how to get more sleep, win a wrestle with troublesome hormones, or what to do if you find a lump in your breast. Or, how to tell a busybody to sod off without saying ‘sod off,’ how to recognise a dodgy friend, how to get out of debt or get the sex life you’d rather have.

What was the biggest challenge writing Women’s Stuff?

That it was such a big task. Just knowing that it was going to take a huge amount of research to identify what women needed to know, then to find and check with experts and present it in a way which isn’t daunting, but helpful, trustworthy, and fun. And to do that in a world where most information given to women is controlled by commercial interests trying to sell us something, or special interests who want to push their own agenda. On a personal level, the challenge was working out how to honour more than 7000 women who contributed to the book through a questionnaire. Every one of them had a hand in what I decided to write about… I felt like I was having a conversation with thousands of women.

How many women replied to the Women’s Stuff survey?

More than 7000 women responded – by far the most from Australia, and New Zealand, but also from 64 other countries! The only continent not represented is Antarctica. All in all, more than 490,000 questions were answered.

What was the oddest fact you uncovered… Perhaps the get-thin-quick-scheme from the late 1900s involving a jar of sanitised tapeworms?

I know, hilarious – but is it really so different from the people claiming to be able to “Fat Zap” your weight worries away with radio waves? Or claiming that a special drink will cause you to gain a better figure? Some of the stuff that shocked me the most was a scary level of ignorance or belief – like the woman who said she wouldn’t get cancer from her constant sunbaking because she ate organic food, or the woman who said the best people to give you advice about skin products was the people selling them because that made them experts– things like that. There were also many surprising things that women told me. That they’d never had an orgasm in 10 years with their partner but they didn’t know how to stop faking; or how women in their 50s and 60s were still basing their negative body image on a comment from a schoolyard bully when they were 6, or 9 years old.

What was the funniest reply you had to your survey?

The honesty of a 21 year old who says she likes walking round the mall carrying shopping bags because it makes her feel rich, or the fashion worker who said her job used to be sewing size 10 labels into size 12 clothes. Some of the answers to “Is there a pattern to your choice of partner?” were pretty funny; “Three Davids, two Johns, three Peters and two Richards” and “they’ve mostly been wankers” made me laugh out loud.

You use humour very effectively in your book – do you recommend it as a tool to handle life and its crazy twists and turns?

I suspect if I’m really honest I have to admit I have a short attention span, and laughing helps me stay interested in anything. It’s really just how I see the world.

In Women’s Stuff you write that women have never hated the way they look more than they do today – any theories as to why?

I think the rise of commercialism and advertising is a big part of it. The prevailing culture tells girls they are too fat when they are still in kindergarten – they see it on TV, they watch their mums talking about it and criticising themselves. The bizarre domination of porn-related culture has also “told” women they need to be “hot” and look sexually available and primped (hence the Brazillian craze) and now cosmetic procedures and surgery are seen as an ordinary option for some.

What did the survey reveal as the biggest challenge for today’s women?

Finding inner confidence. Absolutely everything else will follow from there. That’s what the first part of the book is all about.

What has been the most difficult stage in life for you as a woman?

The teens were really hard because I had a lot of pimples and apple-green bedroom walls. My 20s probably the hardest because although I was earning money and didn’t have to wear old ladies pants from the op shop any more, I didn’t realise that I could influence and choose things that happened in my life. I was too busy responding to what turned up in front of me and because I did so many stupid things; drinking like a Russian mobster, smoking like a damp pile of leaves on a campfire and sleeping with reporters. In my 30s I settled down and started a family. In my 40s I did the juggle. I’d say it’s a toss up between the first two years of motherhood, and my 20s.

Whom do you rely upon for advice now and when you were younger?

Now, it’s my friends, and any of the more than 200 lovely experts I consult for my books. I am afraid that when I was younger I probably would have taken advice from any old bonkers baggage who offered it, because I didn’t know anything.

Kaz Cooke likes…

Teal blue; comedy dancing, and stay-put underpants.

And dislikes?

Capers (by which I mean those strange berry things, not amusing adventures); maths and women who look you up and down dismissively when they first see you. I’m looking at you, snooty boutique sales assistants called Anthea).

“Women Stuff” By Kaz Cooke is published by Penguin Books Australia RRP $59.95

We Review Nowhere Else, By Fiona McCallum


Nowhere Else, by Fiona McCallum.

Published by Harlequin, $32.99

Who would have guessed a country girl from South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula would find national success with a debut novel? Paycheque, a novel best described as ‘McLeod’s Daughters meets Maeve Binchy’ was an instant bestseller.

A strong believer in writing what you know, Fiona finds inspiration from her own experiences when sitting down to write. It’s no surprise people loved the realism in her first novel; Paycheque drew upon Fiona’s years growing up on a farm surrounded by horses in regional SA. Now, Nowhere Else parallels another chapter of her life.

Nowhere Else began as a tribute to friends lost in the Whyalla Airlines flight 904 crash back in 2000. When the engines cut out mid-air, Whyalla Airlines pilot Ben Mackiewicz and his seven passengers were tragically killed in the accident. Fiona often flew Whyalla Airlines, so the crash was close to home in more ways than one.

Fiona’s heroine in Nowhere Else, Nicola, wins a Walkley for her investigation into this crash.

On the surface, current affairs reporter Nicola Harvey has the world at her feet. She’s at the top of her profession, part of Australia’s television A-list, has a wealthy and successful fiancé, and a beautiful warehouse conversion in Adelaide. But appearances can be deceiving and Nicola’s life is far from perfect.

The timing couldn’t be better when her boss sends her on an extended research trip to investigate the effects of the drought. Nicola jumps at the chance for some country-style R&R. But when Nicola arrives in the little town of Nowhere Else, nothing is as she’d expected. There’s no spa in town, the locals are tight-lipped, and Nicola senses it’s not just the drought that’s making them nervous. So why did her boss send her out there? The deeper Nicola digs, the more she sees coming to Nowhere Else wasn’t such a mistake after all. In fact, it may unlock the mystery of her own past and hold the key to her future happiness…

The same rang true for Fiona when in 2005, she too gave up the hustle and bustle of city life and her high-flying partner, to realise what truly made her happy. Fiona left Sydney for Adelaide and pursued her childhood dream, a career in writing. The risk paid off and now, with a bestseller under her belt, there’s nowhere else Fiona would rather be.

Between her knowledge of the subject and her knack for writing down-to-earth characters, Fiona captures the essence of what people love most about Australian country life.

Put Nowhere Else on your Christmas wishlist now!

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