General chatter

Take Your Pick at the ABDA Awards

Although there are lots of book awards out there, one of the awards programs that fascinates me the most is Australian Book Design Awards. This is probably because, for me, books are not just about the words within them, but about the object itself – the book’s production, its print, and its design. It’s part of the reason why I love recipe books and coffee table books so much, but it’s also why I am a complete sucker for a beautifully-designed cover on a print-based book. I’m afraid, I am a bit inclined to judge a book by its cover.

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In late 2013 the Australian Publishing Association decided to discontinue the Book Design Awards. To keep the longest running Australian  graphic design awards alive for the 62nd consecutive year, a group of designers formed the Australian Book Design Awards. ABDA exists to support Australian book designers — to promote their work to, and connect with, the broader publishing community. One of their main aims is to discover and foster emerging talent.

As announcements of the winners fast approaches, you, as part of the reading community, have an opportunity to get involved. For just a couple more days, you can cast your vote in the People’s Choice Award for Best Designed Book of the Year, proudly supported by Bookworld.

Bookworld is proud to host the People’s Choice Award for Best Designed Book of the Year, placing the power in the hands of the public to determine their favourite design out of 65 entries. To vote, all you need to do is visit the ABDA People’s Choice Award page on Bookworld’s website and choose from a gallery of book designs. The winners will be announced on 22 August 2014 at the ABDA Awards Party held in Melbourne.

You’ve got until the 19 August 2014 to cast your vote! Trust me, there’s some stunners to choose from.

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Bookworld (formerly Borders Australia) is an Australian online book shop and a division of the Penguin group. Headquartered in Melbourne, Bookworld stocks more than 13 million titles of books, eBooks, audio books, CDs, DVDs, eReaders and gifts on their website. Bookworld boasts low prices and offers free delivery on all orders Australia-wide.

In short, they love books, and would love to hear about which one you love too! You can visit their website here, to have a browse for yourself.

So what are you waiting for? Go and take a look at the 65 books, and feel free to pop back and let us know what you voted for. I’m off to vote myself, right now!

August TBYL Book Club (we’re back!)

It’s been a little while between books, but I thought it would be fun to start up our online TBYL Book Club again!

For those new to That Book You Like… the TBYL Book Club is an online book club designed specifically for those of us who live busy lives, live remotely or just generally have trouble getting to face-to-face book club catch-ups.

The club will allow you to connect with fellow book-lovers in our online community, and to get involved in an amazing range of online forums about the book of the month. The chats run for three days at the end of each month, so you’ve got the flexibility to pop in and chat whenever you’ve got the time.

Each month brings you a new, exciting book to read, discuss and share. It’s a perfect excuse to get reading, and to make time to chat with other readers about great books.

only the animalsThis month, I’m suggesting that we read Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals (Penguin)…

The souls of ten animals caught up in human conflicts over the last century tell their astonishing stories of life and death. In a trench on the Western Front a cat recalls her owner Colette’s theatrical antics in Paris. In Nazi Germany a dog seeks enlightenment. A Russian tortoise once owned by the Tolstoys drifts in space during the Cold War. In the siege of Sarajevo a bear starving to death tells a fairytale. And a dolphin sent to Iraq by the US Navy writes a letter to Sylvia Plath…

… An animal’s-eye view of humans at out brutal, violent worst and our creative, imaginative best, it asks us to find our way back to empathy not only for animals, but for other people, and to believe again in the redemptive power of reading and writing fiction.

You can read my review of this really stunning collection of short stories, here…

I’d like to invite you to read Only the Animals during August, ready for us to chat about on the TBYL Facebook page starting Monday, 18 August 2014. If you’d like a reminder, RSVP to the Facebook event here and I’ll give you a shout when we start chatting.

I really hope you’ll join us!

Chatter: TBYL Reviewers in July

On the weekend I had a chance to catch up with some of the TBYL Reviewers. It was a chance to have a chat, drink some tea and have them pick a few books they’d like to read and review for the blog. I’m really keen to move That Book You Like… in a really collaborative direction this year, and part of making that happen is catching up with this wonderful group of bookish friends more regularly. I am very excited about being able to bring new voices, new ideas and new reviews to the blog, and just quietly, I think they might be excited too.

chatSo, on a chilly Sunday afternoon, we sat around the fire in my humble ‘library’ and talked about all kinds of things. Here’s a few of the things that we chatted about, I’d love to hear what you think on these topics too…

We talked about what we’d been reading lately, always one of my favourite things to do. Stephanie had just finished Paper Towns, by John Green. She’d been impressed, a fan of young adult lit, and this book didn’t disappoint. This got us on to talking about The Fault in our Stars (as you might expect) and about the target demographic of YA fiction. I wondered out loud if I would ever be able to convincingly write a teenage voice, I feel so far away from 16-years-old at the moment, I think I would be too self conscious to even try. Tam suggested that maybe that that is what it is to be a talented author, the skill and empathy to write in many voices, even ones far removed from yourself.

What do you think? Do you think an adult can authentically write teen?

Tam and Narelle had both been busy reading books from the TBYL Reading Pile, Tam with Crimson Dawn (Allen and Unwin), and Narelle with The Priority List (Allen and Unwin). They’ve since written reviews for me to share, which will be coming up next week.

Carolyn had just finished Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. It broke a bit of a reading drought for her, so I asked her if she’d mind putting a few words down on what she thought of the novel:

the year of the floodThe Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood follows two women, Toby and Ren, who have independently survived a pandemic, each believing that they are the only person left in the world. The story alternates between each woman, both of whom managed to remain barricaded when the waterless flood hit. Both Toby and Ren tell their story, of when they were part of the cult “God’s Gardeners” before the outbreak.

The Year of The Flood is the follow-up book to Atwood’s 2003 novel Oryx and Crake and it is these characters who appear throughout the second instalment but under different names. It is not until the end that you realise who they are and their connection to Toby and Ren.

I loved this book and was gripped until the end. It is set in the future in a world that I personally hope never eventuates, where pigs have been spliced with human brains making them more intelligent, and lions and lambs have been combined, making them appear gentle yet have the ferocity of a lion. Atwood’s storytelling is brilliant and if you are a fan of hers, then I think you will thoroughly enjoy this book.

As for myself, I raved a little more about Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals, which I reviewed last week. I can’t stop recommending it, and I think it’s voices will stay fresh in my mind for a little while yet.

I’d love to hear about what you’re reading at the moment…

We had a bit of a chat about book clubs, about how great they are, but how difficult it can be to keep up the momentum – life gets so busy! Carolyn mentioned that her mum had been going to the same book club for over twenty years! Can you image?!

That got me to thinking about the fact that we’ve not had an online TBYL Book Club book for ages. I’ve been missing it, and so next month I’m going suggest a book for us all to share. Stay tuned next week for details of the what and when…

Are you part of a book club? Do you find it hard to make time to chat about what you’re reading?

Throughout the afternoon a whole bundle of titles were mentioned; The Book of Rachel, which made me think of The Red TentHaruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and The Hottest State, by Ethan Hawke (random, I know). We talked about the scandal that was Judy Bloom’s Forever and Carolyn shared with us how this little book from the 70s managed to sully her reputation at high school (well, almost).

pretty funny tea cosiesOnce we’d finished up, the guys took their picks from the TBYL Reading Pile, all of them walking away with some amazing stories to enjoy. I’m particularly pleased that Narelle took a copy of Pretty Funny Tea Cosies and Other Beautiful Knitted Things, by Loani Prior (Murdoch Books). Just quietly I’m hoping she knits something from it, she’s so wonderfully crafty and these tea cosies could not be cuter!

In short, this all means that we’ve got lots of new reviews in store for you guys. They’ve even agreed to help out with our book clubs in the future, and I’ve invited them to review other lovely things the do and see. I can’t wait to hear what they’re up to!

If you’d like to find out more about fantastic team of TBYL Reviewers, pop over and read a little more here…

Any of the titles mentioned here tickle your fancy? I’d love to know what’s next on your reading pile…

My Picks: MWF 2014

It’s that time of year again, when I buy my one newspaper for the year, and carefully extract and peruse the Melbourne Writers Festival program for 2014. I booked my leave from work and bought my Paperback Pass.

I spent the better part of an afternoon working my way through the program, with an incredibly diverse range of writers, readers and thinkers to choose from, I didn’t want to rush it. There are over 400 events to pick from, on almost as many different topics.

After much consideration these are my selections…

GeraldineGeraldine Doogue: Women of Influence
“Geraldine Doogue and Louise Adler discuss The Climb: Conversations with Australian women in power, Doogue’s inquiry into how the beliefs and values of Australian women are changing, informed by candid and personal conversations with 14 of Australia’s most powerful women.”

I don’t know who the fourteen women are, but I can’t wait to find out. I’m fairly sure I’ll be inspired but the end of this session.

Sonya Hartnett: In Conversation
“Sonya Hartnett is an outstanding and versatile author who can probe psychological states with uncanny accuracy and depth. A writer who has always pushed the boundaries of literature for both adults and young people, Hartnett returns to adult fiction with Golden Boys, a dark suburban tale. In conversation with Jo Case”

Probably no surprise to anyone that I booked a ticket for this one, quick-smart. I’m a big fan of Sonya’s writing, particularly her books Of a Boy, and The Midnight Zoo. As an special treat, this is a free session, being held mid-week at the Wheeler Centre.

mwf2014fullPhilip Hensher: Handwriting
“When English writer Philip Hensher realised he didn’t know what a close friend’s handwriting looked like, he felt that something essential was missing. Hensher explores the lost art of handwriting, how it made us who we are, and why it still matters. In conversation with David Astle.”

I love handwriting, and am always buoyed when I hear of someone else who does too. Plus, I’m looking forward to hearing from David Astle, I’ve been part-way through reading his book Cluetopia for months.

Media Makers: Media Darlings
“Simon Crerar (Buzzfeed), Emily Wilson (The Guardian) and Barrie Barton (The Thousands) will take part in a broad-ranging and diverse discussion about media in Australia and how a new spate of international online mastheads are changing our media landscape. In conversation with Gay Alcorn.”

In today’s life and times, this topic is not only interesting, but incredibly important. Diversity is key.

Limits of Fiction
“Australian Mark Henshaw and British writer Philip Hensher discuss the interplay of voice, form and structure in their writing and how novelists can exploit other forms of writing, such as thrillers and memoir, to create something new. In conversation with James Ley.”

With this session, I continue my quest to pin down exactly what makes a good novel tick. What makes some writing work and some not, how can an author drag you in to their tale and not let go until the final page (and them some)??

john safranTrue Crime
“John Safran (Murder in Mississippi) and Julie Szego (The Tainted Trial of Farah Jama) have each turned their hand to writing true crime after stumbling across their Truman Capote moment. They discuss their immersion into the complex worlds of crime and justice. In conversation with Damien Carrick.”

Having read Murder in Mississippi earlier this year, I’m keen to hear from John and Julie. I’m hoping they might be able to shed some light on what it is about True Crime that fascinates readers so much, despite (or because of) all its horror.

There are also a handful of free sessions I’ll try and get along to as well. As you can see, I’ve been able to pick a really interesting range of sessions – different topics, people, opinions. Now to just wait until August!

The festival will be held, at venues around Victoria, from 21 – 31 August 2014, and you can find out more about MWF 2014 at their website. You can check out this year’s program here…

Are you going to be at MWF 2014? I’d love to hear about what you’re going to see…

TBYL Garage Sale, coming soon!

It’s an exciting time at the moment for That Book You Like! The winds of change are picking up, steering TBYL away from retail and right towards more reading, reading, reading and of course, lots of writing.

As such, I’m looking to clear all the books left in the TBYL Store, and I’m having a Garage Sale to do it!

garagesale

Make sure you put the 26 July 2014 in your diary, and better still RSVP to our online event here! That way I can give you a holler first thing on the day to make sure that you don’t miss out on any bargains.

There will be a great range of adult fiction and kids titles as well as a few other gifty bits and bobs. Great prices, some books will even be at cost.

All items will be posted on our Facebook page on the 26 July (starting at about 10am) and it’ll be first in, first served. Numbers of titles are strictly limited, and specials will be exclusive to the Facebook page only.

Hope you’ll join us!

Lots of winners!

What a prize bonanza!! Here are the winners of our December give-aways, with books courtesy of Allen and Unwin

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The winners of Chocolate Cake for Breakfast by Danielle Hawkins, are Charmaine Campbell and Tara Nikelis.

The two lucky people who’ve won The Recipe Box by Sandra Lee are Bree McGraw and Belinda Draper.

Congratulations to Andrew Finegan and Ben Hanckel who’ve both won a copy of Puzzles and Words 2 by David Astle.

And the winners of a copy of Great Australian Horse Stories by Anne Crawford are Jeannine Barrett and Rachel Kapsalakis.

Plus, two lucky readers who got into the Christmas spirit and sent TBYL a Christmas card have one a $25 gift voucher from the TBYL Store!  Wendy Sutcliffe and Barbara McCauley – happy shopping!

Thanks to everyone who got involved with these competitions, I loved all your recipes, dream breakfasts and puzzling puzzles! Thanks to to Allen and Unwin, make sure you check out their new releases at www.allenandunwin.com.au

All winners will be contacted by email shortly to make arrangements for delivery of your prize!

 

 

Welcome to 2014!

Well, that was a nice break, and wow, did I need it?! I crashed out a couple of weeks earlier than planned, pretty much putting down the pen half-way through December. I was done and dusted, I needed a rest. And rest I did, it’s been the most incredible couple of weeks…

We did this…

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and so started to do this…

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The kids really enjoyed Christmas…

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and I really enjoyed this…

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and this…

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and these…

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Making a point to leave the house, we saw the sun set on 2013…

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admired a fairy floss sky…

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and kept the kids out ’til midnight…

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We enjoyed the quiet times…

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and the winning times…

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Mostly, we just enjoyed being together. We put our feet up, enjoyed the scenery (and the cider) and loved the summer break.

I hope you’ve had an equally wonderful time, and I’d love to hear about it. One of the things I hope for for TBYL this year is to hear more from you guys – I want to know more about you, about what you’re doing, about what you’ve seen, heard, read and written.

Please, feel free to share your summer days…

Top 5 TBYL Posts of 2013

Before I forge ahead into a new and exciting year (2014 promises to be pretty wild), I thought I’d take a moment to crunch some stats and share with you the five most-read posts of 2013…

snake biteFirst up was With a Can of JD: Snake Bite featuring a brand-new coming of age novel from Allen and Unwin.

Christie Thompson’s Snake Bite pulled me forward, through a smoke-filled, booze fuelled suburban landscape towards, with equal likelihood, oblivion or redemption… You can read the full review here.

 

meshel laurieNext was Behind the Scenes: The Fence-Painting Fortnight of Destiny, a really popular post on Meshel Laurie’s memoir.

Like any good memoir, The Fence-Painting Fortnight of Destiny drops plenty of names (it’s a veritable who’s who of Australian comedy) and shares plenty of behind-the-scenes insights into the Australian entertainment industry. Meshel is brutally honest, mostly about herself and sometimes about others. As we know, those who laugh loudest on our TVs tend to struggle the most with demons off-screen and true to form, Meshel is absolutely no exception… You can read the full review here.

 

new york cult recipesComing in third was my Hardcover Christmas: Five Titles, featuring five beautiful books that I thought might be good for Chrissy this year.

I think it’s been fairly well established that books make great presents, wouldn’t you agree? It must then be said that a wonderful hardcover book is possibly one of the best gifts that one person can give another. They’re readable, durable and substantial. They wrap so nicely, sit on the shelf so proudly, and can be enjoyed many times over… Read the full article here.

 

mwf2013To my delight, number four was my write-up of the Melbourne Writers Festival MWF 2013, Take 1. A wrap-up of the first Friday and Saturday of the festivel (my favourite time of year), this article was enjoyed by many.

Singer weaved a well-considered logic, making it pretty clear that all of us can and should strive to find a way to contribute to the improvement of the lot of the world’s children, those who are unwell or vulnerable and creatures with no voice to speak up for themselves. He stopped short at saying that we have a moral obligation to do so, but essentially… You can read the full post here.

 

wicked windFinally, at number five we’ve got another ‘compilation’ post, featuring three of the eBooks that I’ve reviewed during the year. Three eBooks, sure to please was a snap shot of some of the great fiction on offer in the electronic form.

The first thing that I noticed about this fun paranormal action-story is that it kicks off with a fantastic fight scene, featuring two tough women ready to save the day. A brilliant start, followed up by a really nice premise – it’s lead protagonist’s unique special ability – the ability to command the wind… Read the reviews here.
It’s been an incredible year, full of absolutely incredible books to read. My Reading Pile has not once got smaller than ginormous, and that, my friends, puts a massive smile on my face.

Thank-you to all – the writers, the publishers, the reviewers and most of all, the readers, for yet another spectacular year of That Book You Like…

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Did you have a favourite TBYL post this year? I’d love to hear about it…

 

Taking a Dip: Three Titles

Over the last couple of weeks, life has gotten in the way of any decent writing sessions. Between birthdays, christmas preparations, school functions and a close relative passing away, I’ve been called away from the computer far more than I am accustomed to. Still, I’ve been reading, even if I’ve not had much time to write about it. Here’s a little of what I’m reading at the moment…

Actors Anonymous, by James Franco (Allen and Unwin)
Ambitious, fairly odd but strangely compelling, I’m having fun trying to grab the tale of this slippery collection of short stories by Hollywood actor James Franco.

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My favourite part so far…

Jack Nicholson struggled for twelve years before Easy Rider. He started as a gopher in the animation department of MGM at eighteen. He loved basketball even then. Eventually he took an acting class with Jeff Corey, James Dean’s old teacher. Later Jack studied with Marten Landau, James Dean’s old friend.

Jack might not have even wanted the role in Easy Rider. It was intended for Rip Torn. Dennis Hopper was a nut that Jack knew from the coffeehouses on Sunset, and then was in a movie that Jack wrote for Roger Corman called The Trip, about LSD. The story goes that Jack did the role in Easy Rider as a favour to his friends Bob Ragelson and Bert Schneider, the producers, in order to look after Dennis.

It’s these random bits of trivia, close-to-the-bone observations and memiors that make this book interesting. Most of the time it’s impossible to tell where Franco’s own opinions end and the fiction begins. It’s interesting, to say the least and you can find out more about the book here.

Yours Truly, Women of Letters (Penguin)
I can’t wait until I have more time to delve into this incredible collection of letters…

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The act of letter writing allows us to slow down and truly connect, with a person, a subject, an idea. At their hugely popular Women of Letters events, Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire encourage and allow our best and brightest to lay bare their sins and secrets, loves and loathings, memories and plans. Collected here for the first time, these dispatches from Australia’s favourite people are warm, wonderful and astoundingly honest.

The first ones that I’m going to read; Amanda Palmer to Anthony (‘To the person who told me the truth’); William McInnes to Wendy Sykes (‘To the woman who changed my life’) and Leigh Sales to Amanda (‘To the moment the lights came on).

I love letter writing, and to read letters like this feels like the ultimate in eavesdropping. Find out more about the book here…

Letters of Note, Shaun Usher (Allen and Unwin)
In a similar vain, albeit with a slightly broader scope is Shaun Usher’s compilation of letters, collected together in this beautiful hardcopy publication…

letters of note

Letters of Note is a collection of over one hundred of the world’s most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters, based on the seismically popular website of the same name – an online museum of correspondence visited by over 70 million people.

From Virginia Woolf’s heart-breaking suicide letter, to Queen Elizabeth II’s recipe for drop scones sent to President Eisenhower; from the first recorded use of the expression ‘OMG’ in a letter to Winston Churchill, to Gandhi’s appeal for calm to Hitler; and from Iggy Pop’s beautiful letter of advice to a troubled young fan, to Leonardo da Vinci’s remarkable job application letter, Letters of Note is a celebration of the power of written correspondence which captures the humour, seriousness, sadness and brilliance that make up all of our lives.

This time, for me, I’m most looking forward to reading Hunter S Thomspon’s letter to Hume Logan; Nick Cave to MTV and Zelda Fitzgerald to F. Scott Fitzgerald.

You can find out more about the book here. I’d love to know which letter you’d read first!

The greatest thing about all three of these books is that at this very busy time, they are the kinds of books that I can dip in and out of. They allow the reader five minutes of escape from the day-to-day without requiring a substantial time commitment. Of course, in saying that, I can’t wait until the holidays start and I can really sink my teeth into these amazing collections.

 

 

 

Stories That Move You and a chance to WIN!

Knowing how much I love books for Christmas, it’ll come as no surprise how much I enjoyed this little Stories That Move You promo video from Hachette Australia… so many wonderful titles just waiting to be chosen for your Chrissy stocking!

Click to watch...

Click to watch…

To help you to get into a Christmassy mood, I’ve got a quick draw give-away this afternoon! Courtesy of Hachette Australia I’ve got a copy of Lian Hearn’s The Storyteller and His Three Daughters to send to one lucky reader…

storytellerTOKYO 1884

Sei has devoted his life to storytelling, captivating audiences with his tales. But now he is starting to wonder if the new world has left him behind.

Just when he thinks he will never write again, his own life and the lives of the people around him begin to spiral out of control providing the inspiration for the greatest story he has ever told. A story of love, jealousy, intrigue, and betrayal.

Set against the background of Japan’s first incursions into Korea, Sei offers a wise and witty reflection on the nature of storytelling, its perils and delights, its lies and, ultimately, its truth.

You can find out more about the book here…

To enter this competition, just email us at info@thatbookyoulike.com.au with the subject line STORIES THAT MOVE YOU, with your name and address. Entries close midnight Monday 9 December after which a winner will be drawn at random.

PLUS… to get a double chance to win, there’s a bonus question. If you can spot a title in the video above that I’ve been talking about recently (there’s at least two) you’re name will go into the draw twice. Just include the title you’ve spotted in the body of your email.

Please note, the winner must have an Australian postal address and be okay with me forwarding their details to Hachette so that they can send you your prize.

Good luck!