Latest Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What jobs did you perform aboard the ships?

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

What did you love and hate most about ship life?

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

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

sex, cruise ships, relationships, books, australian authors

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

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

How did cruise-ship life impact your romantic relationships?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sex, cruise ships, relationships, books, australian authors

Would you recommend a life on the high seas?

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

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

What made you leave the cruise ship industry?

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

What did you do next?

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

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

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

What gave you the idea to write a book?

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

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

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

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

 

What was the book writing process like?

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

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

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

Do you expect the book to do well?

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

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

How did you meet your husband?

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

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

What’s next for you?

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

July 21, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Essential Cookbooks Everyone Needs

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

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

RELATED: Yummy Ways To Cook Feta Cheese

4 Ingredients 2, $15

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

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Where Chefs Eat, $21.24

Joe Warwick

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

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I Quit Sugar, $26.24

Sarah Wilson

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

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Real Fast Food, $16.20

Nigel Slater

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

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Nigella Kitchen, $43.74

Nigella Lawson

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

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Image via Cooking Channel TV

June 18, 2015

The Best New Diet Booksf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 14, 2014

Latest Book Reviews: Spring’s Best New Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 25, 2013

Latest Book Reviews: Spring’s Best New Books

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No Place Like Home, by Caroline Overington. Published By Bantam Australia, RRP $32.95
From bestselling author and award-winning journalist Caroline Overington comes another thought-provoking and heart-rending story, that reaches from the heart of Bondi to a small village in Tanzania.

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

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

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

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

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

What are your favourite new books?

November 13, 2013

Jackie Collins Confessions of a Wild Child Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 What are you reading right now?

October 28, 2013

Latest Book Reviews: October’s Best New Books

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What books are you reading right now? 

October 8, 2013

Latest Book Reviews: September’s Best New Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georgie – desperate for a fag.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 18, 2013

Father’s Day Book Gift Guide

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

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

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

Father’s Day book picks for dad:

COOKING

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

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BIOGRAPHY

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

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CRIME

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

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FICTION

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

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HISTORY

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

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SPORT

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

What are you getting dad for Father’s Day?

August 16, 2013

Latest Book Releases: 6 Winter Murder Mysteries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What new books are you reading right now?

August 8, 2013

Latest Books: Warrior Princess

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your favourite new book?

July 28, 2013

Christmas Gift Guide: Books For Him

From Stephen King’s latest mystery to Billy Connolly’s funniest read yet, we’ve got 10 books that he won’t be able to put down all summer.

Scarecrow and The Army of Thieves, by Matthew Reilly. Macmillan, $44.99.

At an abandoned Soviet base in the Arctic, the battle to save the world has begun…
The Secret Base – It is a top-secret base known only as Dragon Island. A long-forgotten relic of the Cold War, it houses a weapon of terrible destructive force, a weapon that has just been re-activated…?A Renegade Army – When Dragon Island is seized by a brutal terrorist force calling itself the Army of Thieves, the fate of the world hangs in the balance, and there are no crack units close enough to get there in time to stop the Army setting off the weapon.?One Small Team – Except, that is, for a small equipment-testing team up in the Arctic led by a Marine captain named Schofield, call-sign SCARECROW. It’s not a strike force; just a handful of Marines and civilians. It’s not equipped to attack a fortified island held by a vicious army. But Scarecrow will lead the team in anyway, because someone has to.

Mawson, by Peter FitzSimons. Random House, $49.95

Sir Douglas Mawson, born in 1882 and knighted in 1914, remains Australia’s greatest Antarctic explorer. On 2 December 1911, his Australasian Antarctic Expedition left Hobart to explore the virgin frozen coastline below Australia, 2000 miles of which had never felt the tread of a human foot. He was on his way to fulfil a national dream he had first conceived three years earlier, while on his first trip to the frozen continent on the Nimrod expedition under the leadership of the charismatic Anglo-Irishman Sir Ernest Shackleton.??Even as Mawson and his men were approaching Antarctica, two other famous Antarctic explorers were already engaged in nothing less than a race to become the first men to reach the South Pole. While Roald Amundsen of Norway, with his small team, was racing with dogs along one route, England’s legendary Scott of the Antarctic, with his far larger team, was relying primarily on ponies and ‘man-hauling’ to get there along another. As Mawson and his men make their home on the windiest place on earth and prepare for their own record-breaking treks, with devastating drama to be their constant companion, the stories of Amundsen and Scott similarly play out.??With his trademark in-depth research, FitzSimons provides a compelling portrait of these great Antarctic explorers. For the first time, he weaves together their legendary feats into one thrilling account, bringing the jaw-dropping events of this bygone era dazzlingly back to life.

The Litigators, by John Grisham. Hodder/Stoddard, $29.99.

Oscar Finley: street cop turned street lawyer.Wally Figg: expert hustler and ambulance-chaser. David Zinc: Harvard Law School graduate. Together, this unlikely trio make up Finley & Figg: specialists in injury claims, quickie divorces and DUIs. None of them has ever faced a jury in federal court. But they are about to take on one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the States.
David gave up his lucrative career at Chicago’s leading law firm for this: the chance to help the little guy stand up to the big corporations. But if Finley & Figg have right on their side, why do his new partners feel the need to carry guns in their briefcases David thought he was used to cut-throat law from his days at Rogan Rothberg, but this is something else. He knows he was right to get out. He just may live to regret his new choice of firm…

Zero Day, by David Baldacci. Macmillan, $29.99.

John Puller is a former war hero and now the best military investigator in the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigative Division. He is a loner with few possessions by preference, but he has an indomitable spirit and an unstoppable determination for finding the truth. His father was the most decorated U.S. Marine in history, but now resides in a nursing home far from his battlefield glory. Puller’s older brother, also a military vet, is serving a life sentence in Leavenworth Penitentiary.
Puller is called out to a remote, rural area far from any military outpost to investigate into the brutal murder of a family in their home. The dead husband was in the army and the wife worked for a Pentagon contractor. The local homicide detective, a woman with personal demons of her own, clashes with Puller over the investigation. What neither of them knows is what is waiting for them across the street from the murdered family’s home. Absolutely nothing, and nobody, Puller’s so far seen in this small town, are what they seem. He is truly one man against an overwhelming force.

The Impossible Dead, by Ian Rankin. Orion, $32.99.

Malcolm Fox and his team from Internal Affairs have been sent to Fife to investigate whether fellow cops covered up for a corrupt colleague, Detective Paul Carter. But what should be a simple job is soon complicated by intimations of conspiracy and cover-up – and a brutal murder, a murder committed with a weapon that should not even exist.

Man Lab, by James May. Hodder, $35.00.

James May’s mission to save modern man…Thirty years ago, men were resourceful, practical and dependable, but not anymore. Today we have lost the once familiar skills all men had – the skills to build things, make things and mend things. In Man Lab, James May leads a team of today’s lost male souls on the slight muddy but invigorating path to enlightenment.

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography, by Walter Isaacson. Little Brown, $45.00.

From bestselling author Walter Isaacson comes the landmark biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Drawn from three years of exclusive and unprecedented interviews Isaacson conducted with Jobs as well as extensive interviews with Jobs’ family members, key colleagues from Apple and its competitors, Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography is the definitive portrait of the greatest innovator of his generation.

Billy Connolly’s Route 66, by Billy Connolly. Sphere, $35.00.

Having always dreamed about taking a trip on the legendary Route 66, Billy Connolly is finally heading off on the ride of a lifetime. Travelling all 2,488 miles of this epic road, known as ‘The Main Street of America’, the Big Yin will share the experiences of the countless travellers who have taken the journey before him. The tales he’ll gather on the way, from the skyscrapers of Chicago through the Wild West badlands of Oklahoma and Texas, and on to the beaches of the Pacific coast, will tell the story of modern America. And they might just inspire a few readers to get on their bikes as well.

11.22.63, by Stephen King. Hodder, $34.99.

A riveting, high-stakes political story like Under the Dome, a love story like Bag of Bones, a 1950s community like It, Stephen King’s incredibly ambitious, heart stoppingly dramatic time travel novel, 11/22/63 is a “What if…” story like no one’s ever read before – a one thousand page tour de force. What If you could go back in time and change the course of history? What If the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination?

11/22/63, the date that Kennedy was shot – unless . . .With extraordinary imaginative power, King weaves the social, political and popular culture of his baby-boom American generation into a devastating exercise in escalating suspense.

Devil’s Gate: Numa Files, by Clive Cussler and Graham Brown. Penguin, $39.95.

Kurt Austin, Joe Zavala and the rest of the NUMA® Special Assignments Team are back . . . and they just may have met their match.??A Japanese cargo ship cruises the eastern Atlantic near the Azores – when it bursts into flames.  A gang of pirates speeds to take advantage of the disaster – but their boat explodes.  What on earth is happening?  What does it have to do with the kidnapping of a tip scientist from the streets of Geneva.  With the defection sixty years ago of a mysterious Russian?  With the discovery of an extraordinary underwater graveyard of ships and planes littered across the sea floor???As Austin and Zavala and the rest of team rush to investigate, they find themselves drawn into the extraordinary ambitions of an African dictator, the creation of a weapon of almost mythical power, and an unimaginably audacious plan to extort the world’s major nations. The penalty for refusal?  The destruction of the world’s greatest cities.  Starting with Washington, DC…Filled with the high-stakes suspense and boundless invention that are unique to Cussler, Devils Gate is one of the most thrilling novels yet from the grand master of adventure.

What are you getting the men in your life for Christmas?

December 21, 2011

The latest chick lit

The latest chick lit

The Second Assistant
Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare
Pan Macmillan
RRP $19.95

No political science degree could ever prepare Elizabeth Miller has decided to make a life change. From a political science graduate with a job as a congressional intern in Washington, she moves to the world of Hollywood. Her role is second assistant at ‘The Agency’. You may no know their clients yet, but you certainly know who they’re sleeping with! This book examines the outrageous world of Tinseltown and what really goes on. If you loved The Nanny Diaries or The Devil Wears Prada, The Second Assistant is a compulsively readable novel. The authors have cred in Hollywood too – at twenty-three years old Mimi Hare was the director of development for a Hollywood production company, where she worked on such feature films as Jerry Maguire and As Good as It Gets. To be read for amusement not for serious career advice as to how to get ahead in Hollywood. Funny yet very telling at the same time.

RRP $19.95 but only $17.96 if you buy from the SheSaid Bookshop


Boy Meets Girl
Meg Cabot
Pan Macmillan
RRP $19.95

Even though Meg Cabot is a New York Times bestseller it is not obviously for this book. Cabot is well known for the historical romances and for penning the popular Princess Diaries series, but in this case she has written about the trials and tribulations of modern day love and life. The book takes the form of a series of emails, phone messages, instant messages, to-do lists and internal memos to tell the story but it quickly wears a little thin. Reminds you of reading through plays in Year 12 cause you had to. This is more of a collection of amusing anecdotes and barbs about corporate life that many of us can relate to, rather than a complete work of fiction. Fun, fluffy and quick is the best way to describe this little story.

RRP $19.95 but only $17.96 if you buy from the SheSaid Bookshop


Lucky Stars
Jane Heller
Pan Macmillan
RRP $16.95

Stacey Reiser is another struggling actor that heads for Hollywood to pursue an acting career oh and for another common reason ? to finally cut those apron strings that have tied her to her lovable but meddlesome mother, Helen. But her plan backfires when the widowed Helen sells her house and follows Stacey to tinsel town, invades every aspect of her daughter?s world and drives her crazy. ?If only Mom would get a life,? Stacey wishes after her mother has called for the zillionth time that day to nag her about her clothes, her hair, her lack of a wedding ring. ?If only she?d get a life and stay out of mine.? But how does Stacey handle it when through a strange twist of fate, Helen lands in a television commercial that catapults her to stardom. Now it?s Helen who?s the media darling and Stacey who?s the meddler. Helen then snares what appears to be the catch of the century but Stacey?s mums new beau isn?t what he seems, and it?s up to Stacey to expose his shady past before it’s too late. But it?ll take the acting job of a lifetime to do it, not to mention a whole lot of heart. This is definitely a fun holiday read especially for all of us in crazy mother and daughter relationships. Jane Heller captures the unique relationship that only exists between mothers and daughters and will have you laughing out loud and sending a copy to your mum just for fun!

RRP $16.95 but only $15.26 if you buy from the SheSaid Bookshop


The Wrong Door
Bunty Avieson
Pan Macmillan
RRP $18.95

It was the talk of the wake. The woman in the red dress. Everyone at the service wondered. Who was that woman? Pete?s dead and Gwennie?s life will never be the same. How could Pete, a young, fit man, leave her now? Their lives together were only just beginning. And pneumonia? It was insane, unthinkable, unbearable. Somehow she struggles through the funeral in a daze, and the mysterious mourner in the tight-fitting red dress barely registers in her consciousness. It?s only later, when spotting a discrepancy in Pete?s tax records, that she begins to wonder. Who was that woman? Clare smoothed the knitted wool dress over her hips. It hugged every curve and she had many, in all the right places. The woman in red is Clare Dalton and she has stumbled into the wrong funeral service. Her brief appearance and signature in the condolence book are all it takes to set in motion a trail of deception, mystery and buried secrets that connects these two strangers in ways they never thought imaginable.

RRP $18.95 but only $17.06 if you buy from the SheSaid Bookshop

June 1, 2004

Intuition by Tara Moss

WOMEN’S INTUITION INSPIRES TARA MOSS TO RELEASE FIRST NEW SHORT STORY IN THREE YEARSHaving sold over 200,000 books nation-wide, celebrated best-selling author and top international model Tara Moss has this month released her first short story since her award-winning stories Psycho Magnet and Know Your ABC’s. Inspired by the phenomenon of women’s intuition, the gripping thriller revolves around a central female character, Karen Mahoney, whose use of intuition helps her avoid becoming the latest victim of a mystery serial rapist.Tara’s third novel will be released next year, so the aptly titled short story Intuition is the first opportunity Tara’s fans have to sample her new work.

“For those with an appetite for crime fiction, Intuition will provide a fast-paced, suspenseful read. Short stories are a wonderful, and too often forgotten form of writing which I would like to see celebrated more often,” says Tara.

The other twist is that Intuition by Tara Moss is a limited edition. Only 20,000 copies are being produced. But thanks to the makers of new Schick® Intuition™, all 20,000 copies are being given away free of charge.

Avid readers and fans of Tara Moss can request a free copy of Intuition, the short story, by calling the Schick® Intuition™ hotline on 1800 648 975 or by visiting www.schickintuition.com.au

Like Intuition by Tara Moss, Schick® Intuition™ was borne of a woman’s Intuition. Truly revolutionary, Schick® Intuition&#8482 was invented by a woman who was frustrated with the hassle of having her shaving cream and soap in one hand and her razor in the other. By combining a Skin Conditioning Solid rich in cocoa butter, aloe vera and vitamin E with a triple blade razor, she created the world’s first ALL-IN-ONE shaver for women. It lathers and shaves in one easy step so there is no need for shave foam or gel, soap or body wash. Schick® Intuition™ simplifies the shaving process.

The release of Intuition by Tara Moss coincides with its launch.

The key character in Intuition, Karen Mahoney, will appear in Tara’s next crime novel, Covet, which will be released in Australia next year through Harper Collins Publishers.

ABOUT SCHICK® INTUITION™: With just a few months on the US market the revolutionary new Schick® Intuition™ has already become American Women’s Number 1 choice in systems razors. (Schick® Intuition™ July 2003 sales results) Australian women will be amongst the first to experience this product with Australia being the third country in the world to launch this product. Schick® Intuition™ will be available in all major grocery, mass retailers and pharmacy stores from 1 October, 2003. Intuition™ razor kits will be priced from $11.49RRP and will include a refillable razor handle, two ALL-IN-ONE cartridges, a shower hanger and a protective travel cap. The 3 pack of ALL-IN-ONE refill cartridges will be priced from $12.69RRP.

ABOUT TARA: Tara’s first novel Fetish hit the best-seller lists and was nominated for the Ned Kelly Award for best novel in Australia. Her second novel Split, was nominated for the 2003 Davitt Award for Best Australian Crime Novel, and has shared the nation-wide top ten fiction best-seller list with the likes of John Grisham, Stephen King, James Patterson and Jeffrey Deaver. Tara’s novels are currently being published in six countries, including translations into French, German and Russian.

November 18, 2003

Murder, Mystery and Mayhem month

Murder, Mystery and Mayhem month
Dead Ringer by Lisa Scottoline, Pan Macmillan



If you want a read that will keep you up half the night to find out what happens then this is the book for you. Lisa Scottoline is a New York Times best selling author whose novels are filled with strong, intelligent women that work in a struggling all-women law firm Rosato and Associates in Philadelphia.

The central character is wisecracking self depreciating Bennie Rosato who is struggling to prevent her law firm from folding when her evil twin sister Alice Connolly decides to drop into town. Sound far-fetched? The story cleverly evolves around both the personal and professional battles Bennie Rosato and her eclectic bunch of colleagues find themselves in. So while Bennie is trying to save the firm, her evil twin is trying to ruin her and her reputation in a desperate case of sibling rivalry. Talk about dysfunctional families! Really enjoyable read with just enough drama, laughs, mystery and intrigue to keep you interested till the very end and add to that a dash of romance too!

Something Might Happen by Julie Myerson , Random House



This is a story of how a murder in a small Suffolk town casts its shadow over everyone who lives there.

On a Monday night in October in a small seaside town in Suffolk, a woman is brutally murdered. Her name is Lennie and, thinks her best friend Tess, she is not the type to have something happen to her. Something Might Happen is not a murder mystery. There are clues, false trails, detectives, all the paraphernalia of the whodunnit, but Myerson’s concern is with the effect of the murder on an ordinary community and specifically on Tess herself, her husband Mick and her three children. As the police go about their routine investigation, Tess’s world of nappies, Elastoplast and fish fingers begins to unravel. Suddenly nothing is certain, the mundane becomes charged with significance, established relationships begin to crumble and places that once were safe are safe no longer. This is a novel of extraordinary skilfulness and almost unbearable tension. Julie Myerson creates a world that is recognizable in every detail, so that when it begins to fracture we feel as if it were our own lives that are under threat.


Who Killed Camilla? by Emma Darcy, Pan Macmillan

‘I want her dead in the water.’ Hollywood’s hottest property, Camilla Page, has just wrapped up the shoot of her latest movie and she’s chosen an exclusive Barrier Reef island resort as the setting for her surprise wedding to Australian cameraman, Jimmy Ryder – a man hell-bent on riding the gravy train that’s come his way.

Amongst the invited guests are people Camilla has used as rungs while climbing her personal ladder of success: her long-time agent; the director of her latest film; the ageing leading man; and K.C. Gordon, successful romance novelist whose latest bestseller was adapted for the film – already being hyped as a sure-fire winner, bound to become the biggest-grossing romantic comedy ever.

K.C. eagerly accepts the invitation to what promises to be the most lavish of affairs attended by starlets, heartthrobs and assorted A-listers. But K.C. soon realises the tropical paradise is also home to venomous snakes, some of them human – one of whom will strike to deadly effect…

 

August 26, 2003