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!

 

 

Hardcover Christmas: Five Titles

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.

Today I’ve got five hardcover titles that I’ve received throughout the year that I think would make really interesting gifts this Christmas.

text and drugs and rock n rollFirst up is Simon Warner’s Text and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll (Bloomsbury)… Exploring the connection between the the Beat Generation and rock (and jazz), this book has it all. This is the kind of book that I would have saved up for for ages as a teenager, and then taken a full year to read. It’s a collection of well-researched, well-written essays, stories and accounts capturing the ghosts of Ginsberg, Felinghetti, Kerouac and co. all wrapped up in the music of their time; Jazz, Dylan, and others.

My favourite essay so far is ‘Chains of Flashing Memories: Bob Dylan and the Beats, 1959 – 1975’, but I’ll be dipping back into this tome many times, as I’m sure any lucky recipient would.  You can find out more about this book here…

new york cult recipesNext is one for the foodies out there, a really unique recipe book, New York Cult Recipes by Mark Grossman (Murdoch Books). I love New York and so I wasn’t that fussed about whether this was an actual ‘usuable’ cookbook or not. I would have been satisfied with a few ‘spirit of New York’ dishes and some great photos of my second favourite city in the world.

As it happens, there are actually page after page of recipes I can’t wait to try. Smoothies, pancakes, bagels and burgers – my mouth was watering from start to finish. I can’t recommend this one enough, for any fan of NY or cooking, and especially a lover of both. You can find out more about the book here…

Oh dear, I just flicked through the book again, and now I’m really hungry…

bedside book of philosophySorry I digress. Next is something a little more pensive. It’s The Bedside Book of Philosophy, by Michael Picard (Allen and Unwin), a witty and intelligent guide to philosophy. It’s not entirely a ‘layman’s guide’ as it requires a bit of concentration, but it is a really approachable packaging-up of the fundamentals of philosophy. It uses illustrations, scenarios and puzzles to help you wrap your mind around some of the most interesting ideas in philosophy – logical paradoxes, moral dilemmas, utilitarianism – all the good ones! It’ll give you an intellectual workout that you’ll thoroughly enjoy.

I got particularly hooked on the discussion of ‘grammatical ambiguouity’…

The following sentences are [also] grammatically ambiguous. They are amphibolies, each having two meanings. Distinguish these meanings and identify the different grammatical roles played by individual words (as below):

Flying planes can be dangerous.

The lamb is too hot to eat.

The shooting of the hunters was terrible.

They are cooking apples.

Visiting relatives can be a nuisance.

These spun my head around, and as a lover of words, had me fascinated. The Bedside Book of Philosophy would make a great gift for that twisty-thinker in your life! Find out more about the book here…

1001 ideasAlong the same lines, book number four is all about ideas, but this time it’s about other people’s cleverness. 1001 Ideas That Changed the Way We Think by Robert Arp (Allen and Unwin) is a fantastic reference, tracking 1001 ideas across the ages from Pre 500 CE to today including soap (2800BCE), the Chicken and Egg Conundrum (350 BCE), traffic lights (1868) and Rap music (1979) plus 997 others.

For lovers of trivia, this will be a bible. Not only that, but I’m loving having it on hand to slide over to my kids when they’re researching a period or concept. 99.9% of their research for school is now done online, but I love being able to show them that sometimes academically useful information comes out of books too!

You can find out more about 1001 Ideas That Changed the Way We Think here…

the melbourne bookFinally, something a little bit lighter but equally as fascinating is the newest edition of The Melbourne Book, by Maree Coote (MelbourneStyle). Perfect for lovers of Melbourne, past and present, the fourth edition of this beautiful history includes new tales, added to stories of Melbourne – of the people, the places, the passions of residents and visitors alike.

As you might expect, it’s beautifully illustrated with photographs of landmarks and hidden corners. These photos are both new and old, the vintage shots capturing moments in time in Melbourne’s history. This is the first of Maree’s books that I’ve read, and I’m going to make sure I pass it around to all those who I know love Melbourne as much as I do. If you’d like to find out more about the book, and about Maree’s work, you can visit here…

Hopefully by now your shopping basket is pretty full, so I’ll leave it there (although I could go on). My point, in short, is that I think you should give books this Christmas – there’s just nothing better!

 

Out Now! TBYL News: All Things Bookish December 2013

This month’s edition of TBYL News: All Things Bookish… is now out, chock full of Christmas give-aways!

cardsThere’s eight great books from Allen and Unwin to win, plus two vouchers from the TBYL Store! 

You can find out more in this month’s newsletter,you’re welcome to enter one competition or enter them all, it’s up to you!

 I hope you’ll enjoy our December edition! Click here to read TBYL News: All Things Bookish… December 2013

If you’d like to subscribe to the newsletter, you can click here.

And of course, we here at TBYL hope you have a very merry Christmas season!

 

Anna Gare’s new cookbook ‘Eat In’

I don’t know about you, but I hate having to decide what to cook for dinner. I don’t mind the cooking, it’s the decision-making that drives me a bit batty… is that weird?

Coming up with new ideas for meals, that aren’t going to have me in the kitchen for hours in the evening (which, let me assure you, is never going to happen) can be quite challenging and that’s why I’m always on the look out for books like today’s title.

anna gareAnna Gare’s new cookbook Eat In (Murdoch Books) had me at page one, as it offered up a smorgasbord of great meal ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Anna’s introduction told me I was in the right place…

This book is about making simple yummy food with fresh ingredients. I really believe you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to make spectacular food. I get more excited when I cook something delicious with little effort, that I do when I make something fiddly and complicated.

Cooking, like love, does not have to be rocket science. It is a way of thinking, tasting and feeling that allows you to draw pleasure out of what could otherwise be ordinary. It turns a chore into a little party, or, sometimes, a big one. 

The best food is made at home, so Eat In and use some of my favourite recipes to indulge your cravings and treat the people you love.

And as I started flicking through the pages, I found myself tagging every second page. I’ll try that, I’ll try that, I’ll try that.

There’s an amazing smoked trout omelette, which I’m planning on trying this weekend…

omelette

and this delicious ‘pretty frittata’, ready for lunch (or dinner, or supper, or snack)…

pretty frittatta

If I’m not full from that yummy lunch, I’ll give either one of these a try – a semolina gnocchi with blue castello and spinach sauce or a really special beef burrito with green sauce and salsa. I think the kids will be happy with either of these, as long as I didn’t mention the spinach…

gnochi

Lastly, if I can fit even a tiny bit more in, I’d definitely like to try these lemon lime puddings. Come to think of it, maybe I’ll just start with these…

lemon lime pies

As you can see, Anna’s book is beautifully shot and the food lovingly prepared. The dishes look impressive but won’t do your head in with complicated instructions or too many tricky ingredients (just the odd special item here and there).

Cookbooks always make great gifts, and I’d think Eat In would be a particular hit with friends or family who are fans of the Master Chef franchise. Anna’s appearance on Junior Master Chef in 2010 introduced us to her love of cooking and won her many fans, and this book is a wonderful continuation of her work.

You can find out more about Anna Gare’s Eat In at the Allen and Unwin website, where you can also pick up a copy for yourself.

In the meantime, stay tuned, I might post photos of my attempts at the dishes above, if I don’t scoff them first!

 

Secrets: The Good House

If you’re looking for a book to gift to a bookish friend this Christmas, it sounds like Ann Leary’s The Good House (Allen and Unwin) might be just the ticket! Thanks to Jennie for this great review, wonderful teaser for a intriguing story…

***

Ann Leary is the author of a memoir & two novels, The Good House (Allen and Unwin) being the second. I was unfamiliar with her work until now, but will be seeking out her previous books.

the good houseThe Good House is written in the first person, the voice of our protagonist Hildy Good. Hildy is a woman in her 60’s, a divorcé, a mother of two daughters, a grandmother, a realtor & an alcoholic.

She lives in the small town, Wendover Crossing, where she was born & raised. Her family indeed trace back eight generations in the town, with her eighth great-grandmother one of the accused witches tried & hanged in Salem. Due to this piece of history it is generally rumoured by locals that Hildy herself has psychic powers, a rumour she likes to play with.

Hildy makes it her business to know everyone else’s business. She shares an office building with the town Psychiatrist, Peter Newbold. She confidently  tells him that she can learn more about a person by walking through their house than he can in a session with a patient.

We enter Hildy’s life two years following an intervention by her daughters regarding her alcoholism. This is, of course, not a reality that Hildy accepts! She’s not an alcoholic! She enjoys a drink or two at social events like everyone else. Well, there may have been a DUI, but that was just one! And phonecalls to people late at night – she just likes to chat with her friends after a few drinks, she’s a gregarious person, it’s lonely in her house when she gets home!

Despite her very rational, heartfelt arguments, her family talk her into a 28 day Rehabilitation session at Hazelden Clinic.

The entire town of Wendover Crossing know that a 28 day disappearance from town means that Hildy was in rehab. So, at every public function thereafter, Hildy is a cheerful teetotaller, knowing that every eye in town is upon her!

This is where our book of secrecy begins. A labyrinth of secrets involving several people in this close knit town.

Very early on we learn that Hildy has, as many alcoholics do, two lives. She is a veritable puritan at social events. She is funny, occasionally does her psychic tricks at dinner parties & “reads minds”, she is the perfect guest.

When she gets home to her two dogs however, she indulges in her ritual visit to her cellar & her secret supply of wine where she imbibes in “1 or 2” glasses. It is more like one or two bottles & she happily walks with her dogs to the nearby lake, strips off & plunges nude into the water. It is her beautiful escape.

Hildy feels she is putting on a pretty charade but is happily maintaining her alcoholic lifestyle.

The serious secrets start leaping from the pages from this point. As Hildy knows everybody in Wendover Crossing, she knows the details of very many family lives. She detects any changes very quickly. She also becomes friends with a new couple in town & a confidante to the wife.

The beauty of The Good House is in the descriptions of the town & the people through the eyes of Hildy who knows both intimately. It’s a colourful cast of characters in this small town & Hildy brings them all beautifully to life in exquisite detail.

There is Frankie, briefly Hildy’s High School beau, who tells it like it is and plays a large role in the town; Callie & Patch with their autistic son Jake who desperately want to sell their house (which is severely damaged by Jake’s outbursts); Peter Newbold, who she also knows from school & Rebecca McAllister, new to town but quickly close to Hildy.

The strength of the developing secrets in the book lie in the fact that we are strongly invested in these people. The Good House is gripping, wonderfully detailed & funny. Sometimes laugh out loud funny (which I did!). I wanted to turn the pages as fast as I possibly could by halfway through the book as secrets became exposed. I eagerly read to find out how each piece of the puzzle fitted together.

The ending has profound implosive impact as it all comes together. Unbelievably a massive surprise awaits us at the very end.

I highly recommend The Good House. It’s a lovely light read, gripping & funny. A good stocking-filler for the readers in your life.

***

You can find out more about The Good House, by Ann Leary here…

 

Meeting Steve Worland

Last night, we held another wonderful online conversation at TBYL, this time having a chat with the author of the explosive novel Combustion (Penguin) Steve Worland…

In case you weren’t able to tune in on the night, here’s a transcript of our chat with Steve…

Steve WorlandTBYL: My first question for Steve tonight is this… you’ve created a really interesting cast of characters in your novels. Do you have a personal favourite?

Steve: I love them all of course, but Corey and his cattle dog Spike would be my favourites. They’re funny and uniquely Australian, though I do love Severson, the out-for-himself-at-all-costs NASA executive, and Lola, the tough as nails Hollywood agent. I think they add interesting variations to the mix of characters. And that’s what you’re always looking for, an appealing mix that will give you conflict (even when the characters really like each other), lots of humour, insight into the human condition and that little something that feels genuinely unique and unexpected. Basically, I want the readers to love spending time with the characters, but to understand that they’re both heroic and flawed, often at the same time.

TBYL: Do you think there would be one particular character that readers would like most?

Steve: I think Corey and Spike give my stories an element that is humorous, heartfelt and genuinely Australian so they tend to be crowd favourites, certainly in Oz!

TBYL: I would think Corey would be very popular, wonderfully recognisable! I really liked Rhonda too!

Steve: Yeah, she’s great value. I kind of based her on my wife.

TBYL: Oh wow, that’s great! Can your wife fly a plane?

Steve: No, she’s an actress so she can pretend to do it!

TBYL: Perfect! Are the other characters based on real people too?

Steve: Well, the astronauts are all based on elements of real people. There’s a bit of Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, in Judd, and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, in Rhonda. Lola, the Hollywood agent, is a little bit like my agent. So, you use parts of people you know and read about, then make up the rest!

TBYL: Steve, there’s an element of the bizarre in Combustion, adding to the fun. I’m talking especially in regards to Corey and his dog Spike. Why did you decide to add these elements to the story, rather than take a straight action/adventure path? 

Steve: I wanted to create a point of difference that was both humorous, heartfelt and genuinely Australian, and I think Corey and Spike give my stories that element. Interestingly, the idea for the duo comes from a very real place. I have many friends and family in country NSW and when you see the almost telepathic communication between the guys who work the land and their cattle dogs, it’s not a huge fictional jump to reach the relationship Corey and Spike have. Then to take that relationship and throw them into a big action-adventure story is a lot of fun.

TBYL: Did you spend time in rural Australia and LA to get a sense for how this duo would translate from one to the other?

Steve: Well I’ve spent a bit of time in country NSW because of family, but never more than about a week at a time. I lived in LA for a year at the start of my screenwriting career, which was an interesting experience.

TBYL: I would imagine so! How did you find LA, especially as a resident?

Steve: It was all work really. Not a lot of time for fun. Just working at Lightstorm (James Cameron’s company) or writing. It’s a real company town that way and it can consume you.

TBYL: A bit like a really long business trip?

Steve: Yes, the film business doesn’t sleep so you do need to be on the ball.

TBYL: I always find it interesting when someone moves from one type of writing to another, and so I was wondering… what made you decide to make the shift from script and screen to novel? How have you found the transition?

Steve: Making the shift was pretty easy. I had been working as a screenwriter for almost twenty years and felt that I needed to write something for myself rather than for a director, producer or studio. Screenwriting is really about creating a blueprint for someone else’s work of art, which is fine for a while, but I just reached that point where I needed a little more autonomy. Having said that, a movie I co-wrote (with the Director) is in production at the moment in WA so that is exciting.

TBYL: Ooh, can you say any more?

Steve: Sure, it’s a kid’s adventure movie that Sam Worthington is starring in called ‘Paper Planes’. It’ll be released in 3D in January ’15.

TBYL: I’ll have to take a look at ‘Paper Planes’, sounds interesting.

Steve: It’s a little way away but the idea is to make an Australian kid’s movie.

CombustionTBYL: Hypothetically speaking, if your book were to be made into a film, who would you have play Judd, Corey, Rhonda and Lola?

Steve: Well there are so many choices! In a perfect world: Chris Pine or Bradley Cooper as Judd, Hugh Jackman or Sam Worthington as Corey, Jennifer Lawrence or Rachel McAdams as Rhonda, Greg Kinnear or Jeff Goldblum as Severson and Eva Mendes or Mila Kunis as Lola.

TBYL: Oh wow, the book has just taken on a whole new dimension! I’m so glad I asked that question! Would you like to see it on screen?

Steve: Absolutely! I just have to convince someone to spend the money!

TBYL: Not too harder sell I wouldn’t think Steve, especially with that many explosions! Next question – Steve, do you love watches?

Steve: I do indeed! I’m old school, I’d prefer to look at my wrist than my phone to tell the time! I think watches are pretty much the only jewellery men can get away with so I find it interesting what guys wear. That’s why I often mention the watches people are wearing in my books. It’s a personal choice that says a lot.

TBYL: I wish I knew more about what makes for a good watch, it’d probably help me shop for my husband for Christmas!

Steve: Just ask me. I can send you in the right direction.

TBYL: I might just do that! Okay, I’ve one last question for Steve tonight… Can you tell us anything about the third instalment in the series?

Steve: Well the Judd and Corey will finally make it in to space but not in a way you would imagine. It will tie up a number of story strands set up in the first two books and will be, hopefully, a rollicking, humourous adventure along the way. It’s due Father’s Day 2015. Next year I have different action adventure novel coming out that is set in the world of Formula One. It’s has a new cast of characters and some huge action sequences so I’m really looking forward to getting out into the world. I’m in the middle of writing it now!

TBYL: That sounds really interesting – lots of fast and furious car facts? Are you enjoying taking a break from the series?

Steve: Yes, lots of big car action, and a lot more beside. I think it’s good to give the Judd & Corey series a short rest. I want it to be fresh and hopefully, by the time Book 3 comes out, more readers will have found it!

TBYL: I’m sure they will have!

***

If you’d like to find out more about Steve’s books, visit the Penguin site here. You might also enjoy his personal website which is here…

 

Waiting for Wednesday

Although I’m not sure if TBYL Reviewer Carolyn was completely convinced when I gave her Nicci French’s crime novel Waiting for Wednesday (Penguin) to read and review, I get the feeling from this review that she’s starting to come around…

***

Today’s review is of Waiting for Wednesday by crime writer Nicci French. It’s a very well written book and takes the reader on many twists and turns before the crime is solved.  This novel is one that I suspect lovers of crime fiction will enjoy.

waiting for wednesdayAlthough it took me a little bit of effort to get into this book, upon finishing it I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and that it has contributed to my growing interest of this genre.  I discovered early on that this novel belonged to a series. The storyline was new but characters had already been introduced in previous books in the series. As you might expect, this meant it took me a little to grab hold of the context, but once I got to know the characters, it was no obstacle to my enjoyment of the novel.

Ruth Lennox, beloved mother of three, is found by her daughter in a pool of her own blood. Who would want to murder an ordinary housewife? And why? 

Psychotherapist Frieda Klein finds she has an unusually personal connection with DCI Karlsson’s latest case. She is no longer working with him in an official capacity, but when her niece befriends Ruth Lennox’s son, Ted, she finds herself in the awkward position of confidante to both Karlsson and Ted.

When it emerges that Ruth was leading a secret life, her family closes ranks and Karlsson finds he needs Frieda’s help more than ever before.

But Frieda is distracted. Having survived an attack on her life, she is struggling to stay in control and when a patient’s chance remark rings an alarm bell, she finds herself chasing down a path that seems to lead to a serial killer who has long escaped detection. Or is it merely a symptom of her own increasingly fragile mind?

Because, as Frieda knows, every step closer to a killer is one more step into a darkness from which there may be no return…

Waiting for Wednesday is the third instalment of the Frieda Klein series.  The novel opens with a horrific murder of an ordinary middle-class wife and mother of three, which, on its own captivated me and had me re-reading passages looking for clues.  I was to some degree left wanting, as not many clues are given at the beginning of the story; instead the writer takes her time recapping incidents that occurred in the previous two novels, reintroducing characters and their relationships.  As a first time reader to this series, I found it hard to get into the story because of this ‘revisiting’ and kept putting the book down to find something else to do.  However, as Mandi was waiting for me to write this review, I knew I had to persevere and devote my time to psychotherapist Frieda Klein no matter what terrors she had experienced in the other books. I’m glad that I did.

Waiting for Wednesday is written by two people, Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Together they write under the pseudonym of Nicci French.  I had no idea until after I finished the book that this author was in fact a married couple.  The writing is seamless and they are able to get into the head of the main character very well. The further into the novel I got and the more I got to know Frieda, the more I wanted to stop the book and start the Frieda Klein series from the first book, Blue Monday.  The second in the series Tuesday’s Gone suggests that there will be seven in this series and judging from how Waiting for Wednesday was written, I think it will be great.

If we take a look at this book on its own and not as one in a series, the crime that occurs takes up only a small part of the story and is a fairly straightforward case.  Waiting for Wednesday spends a lot of its time developing characters that have featured earlier in the series and I’m assuming will be present in future books.  This book is very much the hump day in the series.  It appears that a climax will happen when Frieda Klein gets to the weekend.  Nicci French touches on something dark and frightening, waiting in the shadows, which had me wanting to know more.

You can read Waiting for Wednesday as a stand alone book however I think it would be more enjoyable to read the other two books in the series first. I know that reading this latest instalment has made me want to go back and read the first two, and I’d certainly do just that before reading the next in the series.

***

If you’d to find out more about Nicci French’s Waiting for Wednesday you can visit the Penguin website here…

 

 

Touching: Grace has a Secret

I love it when a childrens’ book author takes the opportunity to communicate a really positive message, and I love it even more when that message is given real impact through gorgeous illustrations.

Grace has a secretGrace Has a Secret, by Prudence Holling and Philippa Ray, illustrated by Liz Braid is one of these storybooks – beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully written, it’s a must for your collection.

Grace has a lot of ideas about how she can make the world a better place. Her most recent idea, her big secret, is all about gratitude.

Grace is thankful for all the lovely things that people do – their lovely singing, their beautiful gardening, the hard work they do tidying up the neighbourhood – and she decides to express her thanks in a very special way…

Darting and dashing and scuttling and creeping, Grace delivered kindness while everyone was sleeping.

As the morning mist swirled magic at her feet, Grace pushed envelopes into every letterbox in the street.

Authors Prudence and Phillippa have written a beautiful story that bounces and sings. Parents will enjoy reading it and kids will soon be picking it up and reading it for themselves, either from the words, or from memory.

Liz Braid’s illustrations are gorgeous, a perfect blend of colourful college and watercolour. She has used a deft hand and subtle touch to get the balance just right. The vibrancy of the pages will be sure to grab the attention of the most energetic child and Grace is personified wonderfully, I can’t wait to get to know her more.

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Of course Grace Has a Secret contains an important message communicated genuinely and lovingly, but more than just that, this book is a whole lot of fun. It encourages kids to grab hold of their ideas, to be exuberant and to believe that they can make a real difference to the world around them.

For me, I couldn’t go past the fact that readers were invited to rediscover the art of the letter. I love a handwritten note and was absolutely rapt when I opened this thank-you note…

 

and then noticed this page…

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This book, and the note are now a very special part of my book collection…

Grace Has a Secret would be a perfect book for Christmas, and you can find out how to get hold of a copy at the Grace Has website here…

Lots of fun coming up for TBYL!

November and December are turning out to be particularly busy and extra exciting for the TBYL crowd. I don’t want you to miss out on anything, so here’s a calendar of what’s coming up in the next couple of months!

marketTBYL at the Fair
Sunday, 17 November 2013

We’ll be setting up a TBYL stall at the Strathaird Primary School (Narre Warren South) and if you’re in the area, we’d love for you to pop by and say hi! We’ll have books, gifts, stories and free goodies on offer. Find out more about what’s going on at this great school event on their page…


Steve WorlandMeet Steve Worland

Monday, 25 November 2013 7:30pm (EST)

This month’s TBYL Event is an online conversation with the exciting Steve Worland, author of the newly released Combustion (Penguin). A great chance to find out more about Steve’s action-packed adventure series.

RSVP today to make sure you don’t miss out on this entertaining chat and be sure to tune into the TBYL Facebook page at 7:30pm (EST).


CombustionTBYL Book Club November

25 – 27 November 2013

Join us online to discuss Steve Worland’s Combustion for the TBYL Book Club. We’ll be chatting on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, on the TBYL Facebook page.

You can RSVP here for a reminder, and get hold of a copy of Steve’s book here.

You can read my review of Steve’s book here if you’d like to find out more about this fast-paced novel.


christmas giftsTBYL Christmas Clearance

Saturday, 30 November 2013

This is your chance to pick up some Christmas bargains from the TBYL Store! For one day I’ll have a great range of books for adults and kids, set up in my front room. Now, I know you probably can’t join me in real life, and so I thought I’d share the goodies with you on Facebook. Put it in your diary, and on Saturday 30 November make sure you visit our Facebook page to find amazing specials on books to clear. They’ll be discounted, some at cost. It’s a great opportunity to pick up a fantastic read at a low price, plus a chance to take a look at the stock that the TBYL Store has.

RSVP here to make sure you don’t miss out!

 

the goldfinchTBYL Book Club Special Event, with guest host Rachel Devine
Monday, 2 December 2013 7:30pm (EST)

I’ve been chatting with a new friend Rachel from Rachel Devine Photography / sesame ellis. As well as being a very talented photographer, she’s also a fellow book lover. She’s been enjoying Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and I couldn’t resist – I’m going to join her.

I’d like to invite you to do the same. We’ll have a chat about the book on the evening of Monday, 2 December TBYL Facebook. I hope you’ll tune in and join the conversation (you can RSVP here) and meet some wonderful new bookish friends.

You can find out more about the book at the Hachette Australia website.

 

bundle of booksTBYL News: Christmas Edition
Monday, 2 December 2013

This special Christmas edition of our newsletter will not only feature a wrap up of TBYL’s 2013, but will also give you lots of chances to win great books! Consider it my Chrissy present to you!

Subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss out!

 

champagneTBYL at Contagious Enthusiasm’s Christmas Fair
Friday, 13 December 2013 5pm – 9pm

We’ll be attending the Contagious Enthusiasm’s Christmas Fair in Hampton just before Christmas, offering you a final pre-Chrissy chance to pick up TBYL goodies for your family and friends. Come along to 571 Hampton Street, Hampton and enjoy a little shopping, a massage and a drink and nibble. It’ll be a lovely night out! Find out more on Contagious Enthusiasm’s website or Like them for updates.

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The end of 2013 is coming up fast, but as you can see, we’ve got a little something for everyone, to help you see the year out in bookish style! I hope you’ll join us!

Suspend Your Disbelief: Strange Bodies

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s instantly attracted to pretty much anything bearing the name Theroux…

Whether it’s a book like The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux, a documentary by his son Louis, or a novel by author Marcel Theruox, the name is synonymous with quality, compelling storytelling, and more than it’s fair share of quirk.

strange bodiesMarcel’s most recent novel, Strange Bodies (Faber) is the first of his novels that I’ve read and I couldn’t put it down. I wasn’t quite sure where it was taking me, how it was going to pan out, but hey, that’s half the fun of reading isn’t it?

It’s an unusual premise, presented as matter of fact…

Nicholas Slopen has been dead for months. So when a man claiming to be Nicholas turns up to visit an old girlfriend, deception seems the only possible motive.

Yet nothing can make him change his story.

From the secure unit of a notorious psychiatric hospital, he begins to tell his tale: an account of attempted forgery that draws the reader towards an extraordinary truth – a metaphysical conspiracy that lies on the other side of madness and death.

As with most good magic realism, the bizarre is unapologetically posited as as mundane, the reader’s ability to suspend their disbelief is assumed. I find this type of reading really liberating – the requirement for me to relinquish control and go with the flow of the narrative, accepting these facts exactly as they are presented – is a wonderful type of escapism.

The main protagonist, Nicholas is a complex character. He is earnest, honest and hardworking and yet he is somewhat unlikeable in his awkward single-mindedness. Regardless, as I’m sure was intended by the author, I couldn’t help but feel his frustration and despair acutely, as he tries to reconnect with those he loves, both before and after ‘the procedure’…

“In all the startling discomfort of coming to my senses in a new carcass, I don’t recall a more agonising moment than this. All the shame and the pain and the pitying eyes of strangers. My awareness of myself as weak and hopeless. What made it harder was my perception that while I was broken and tearful, Leonora was speaking with a voice of reasoning tenderness. I was the one clinging to a fantasy about our marriage as insane as Roger N’s delusion that Mossad has implanted a radio transmitter in his brain.”

His physical and emotional pain throughout the novel is raw and quite terrifying, yet the book itself remains quite humorous. The comedy is black, obscure and entertaining.

Interestingly too, I learnt a great deal reading this novel. Marcel is obviously incredibly expert in the field of literature and history. His knowledge of the eighteenth century lexicographer Dr Samuel Johnson is beyond thorough, and his appreciation for random trivia relating to writers, texts and vintage health conditions is impressive. He had me googling names and references throughout the whole novel and I was fascinated as, page by page, I picked up random facts that I’ll probably never use again, but enjoyed completely.

Strange Bodies is a fascinating book, especially suited to those who love magic realism or who love shameless literary name-dropping (which, as it happens, I do). I’d say, take a look at this literary, science fiction, black comedy, high brow, fantastical novel – you won’t be disappointed.

You can find out more about Marcel Theroux’s novel at the Allen and Unwin website here.