Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Breaking: Australian musician takes drugs - TALKING SMACK

Talking Smack by Andrew McMillen at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney

This young man came into our shop this morning and asked about a book about Australian musicians and drugs.

I told him "I'm sorry, we're not that sort of bookshop, sir. Can I interest you in this book on ancient Rome?"

But he was insistent. "It's called Talking Smack and I'm the author."

On hearing this, one of our young booksellers strained to lift her jewellery-punctured face away from her smartphone and said yes indeed, we did have a book by that title and it came in this morning. The book was brought to the table. The man, who then introduced himself as Andrew McMillen, said he was a journalist and his book contained in-depth interviews with Australian musicians who were very frank and forthcoming about their use of narcotic substances.

At this, my cheeks reddened as I voiced my objection. "Are you suggesting, good sir, that our fine Australian musicians make their music in a state other than one of complete sobriety?"

He looked at me with some misgiving, before venturing "Well yes. I've spoke with many of them. It's all in the book. See here? Paul Kelly, Tina Arena, Gotye, Phil Jamieson…"

"Phil Jamieson!" I spluttered "From the Christian rock band Grinspoon?!"

"Well, they weren't exac-"

"I can imagine a ne'er-do-well such as that young Farnham boy going wayward, but surely not Phil Jamieson?"

But Mr McMillen assured me this was so and then he whipped out a pen and signed all the copies of the book we had in-store. He then shook my hand with the confident zeal of one bearing 'the Truth' and strode out the door for parts of the city unknown. Well, I think he was going to another bookstore.

Dazed, I stood pondering this revelation. Grinspoon. An odd word, certainly. Powderfinger. I wonder. Midnight Oil. Two words, not conjoined - but still, something… subversive. Savage Garden. Oh my! It must be true! With that I sat heavily, pulling a handkerchief from my cardigan to mop my brow. A cup of tea. Yes, that would do nicely.


----oo0oo----

Signed copies while they last. Use PROMO code WHEREIDEASGROW online for 10% OFF.


Talking Smack by Andrew McMillen at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney


Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Friday, 4 July 2014

Notes from Eve Abbey - July 2014

I was a bit reluctant to begin reading the newly published “latest” book by great Australian writer Elizabeth Harrower’s In Certain Circles.

Finished in 1971, the manuscript sat in the National Library of Australia until Michael Heyward, of Text Publishing persuaded Elizabeth to let them publish it this year.



I was still recovering from the tension after re- reading her most famous book, The Watch Tower. Would In Certain Circles prove a disappointment? Would this be yet another psychological thriller? The answers are No to the first and Yes to the second question. In Certain Circles is an almost perfect novel and suffers in no way from being written more than forty years ago. The picture of affluent life in Sydney’s Northern Suburbs seems scarcely different, except there remains that certain cultural uneasiness that things were better in Europe, which we don’t feel so much today. The story chronicles the interlocking lives of two sets of brother and sister, one set poor orphans and the other set blessed with charm, security and confidence. There is intense scrutiny of their actions, a great deal of unspoken understanding and psychological awareness. Put aside a few days to read this novel carefully. It will repay your attention. Her other novels are Down in the City, The Long Prospect and The Catherine Wheel. All have been re-published under the Text Classics series at only $12.95.

I mention this price because despite people thinking eBooks are the answer to cheap reading materials you can now buy really good books at very reasonable prices. Penguin Classics, Popular Penguins and various other imprints including the War Series are only $9.95 while Vintage Classics are only $12.95. There is a huge range. They may not be the latest but they are good and worth keeping in print. Shops like Abbey’s make a point of having the full range so browsing is well worthwhile.




I was sad to read of the death of Eric Hill, the creator of all those wonderful books for very young children. Who doesn’t have a memory of reading Where’s Spot to a child? If they don’t they have missed a great pleasure. Remember lifting the flap and searching for Spot? There are 134 titles on Abbey’s database including some in Italian, Spanish or Chinese (even in dual language Chinese/English) although not all are in stock. Lindy Jones keeps her discerning eye on the fabulous children’s section in the back corner of Abbey’s so she will always help you find just the right book while you have to go upstairs to Language Book Centre for those in foreign text. Remember you can now go up in the lift from the lobby if you don’t fancy climbing the stairs.

Prompted by yet another obituary I have been reading some of the Collected Stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. Published in the 1960’s they remain vivid, exciting pleasures where you can see his progress from experimentation towards Magical Realism. Marquez is said to be the most popular author since Cervantes! Find him under G for Garcia on the shelves! If you haven’t already read his most famous books One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera perhaps now is the moment? They are both available in Popular Penguin as well as other editions. There are editions in Spanish upstairs in Language Book Centre as well as a biography by Gerald Martin while in Literary Criticism you can choose the Cambridge Companion to Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Philip Swanson or the Cambridge Introduction to Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Gerald Martin.

There was some good news from The New York Times recently about a new, big prize called The Breakthrough Prize. It is for Mathematics which has not been included in the Nobel Lists. When you hear it will be worth three times as much as the Nobel you won’t be surprised it is funded by two Silicon Valley moneymen, Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg. They have already awarded 3 million dollars each to five mathematicians. Three of the men (no women yet) have previously won the Fields Medal but this is only awarded every four years and is worth $15,000 Canadian Dollars. The Fields Medal began in 1936 and is awarded by the International Mathematical Union at their four yearly Congress. So this is a huge step forward.

Mathematics is a beautiful language which unfortunately I do not speak but Abbey’s has a huge range of titles. Some customers from Melbourne always come in to check the Mathematics sections.

I checked our database and found almost 20,000 titles but 465 ready to ship including Alan Turing’s Systems of Logic: The Princeton Thesis by Andrew W. Appel or The Proof is in the Pudding: The Changing Nature of Mathematical Proof by Steven G. Krantz or The Works of Archimedes: Volume 1, The Two Books on the Sphere and the Cylinder. Commentary by Archimedes and Reviel Nietz. If you would like to continue your search you will find Mathematics as a sub-category of Science and Medicine in Abbey’s database.

Bangarra Dance Theatre has recently staged Patyegarang, the story of the friendship between a young Aboriginal girl and William Dawes, astronomer with the First Fleet, after whom Dawes Point is named. Perhaps this is the time to read Kate Grenville’s follow-up to The Secret River, which is called The Lieutenant and covers this same story.


Keep well.

Eve


Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers


Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Lindy Jones has been reading...


Lindy Jones ~ Australian Bookseller Association Inaugural Bookseller of the Year 2011

Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds by John Pickrell
Nicky (Hachette), Brooke and Lindy

Brooke Davis

Millie Bird, aged 7, records dead things in her special book, but she wasn’t to know her Dad would be the 28th entry. Nor was she to know when her mother leaves her in the ladies’ underwear section of the department store, how long she would have to wait.

Karl, aged 87, has been left in an old people’s home and he doesn’t know how much more of his life he has to wait. And Agatha Pantha, aged 82, has been left alone after her husband dies and she doesn’t know how much longer she has to record measurements in her book of ageing.

How these three different characters form a unit makes for a charmingly off-centre story, as they escape their enforced waiting and attempt to reunite themselves with family, love and life. Throw in an incomplete mannequin, public transport, the Indian-Pacific and an assortment of helpful or interfering minor characters and you have a fine road trip of a read.

In turns, funny and poignant, wise and wide-ranging, this book crosses boundaries and deserves all the success it will inevitably have!

Brooke came in to Abbey's recently. It was 'the' book at the recent London Book Fair and has already been sold into 16 countries, with major deals in the US and UK - not bad for a debut novel! Brooke has worked as a bookseller in Victoria and Perth (where she now lives) and charmed everyone she met at the recent booksellers' conferences in Melbourne, with her modesty, intelligence and good nature. Her book is a universal favourite amongst those of us who have read it in advance of release, and we look forward to sharing this wonderful book with the wider reading public!

Find this at abbeys.com.au



Fredrik Backman

ABBEY'S CHOICE JULY 2014 ----- Perhaps the Scandinavians are tired of being associated with literary works of the darkest and most depressing hue, because there are some deliciously farcical and entertaining books filtering through that show the Scandis have a sense of humour! This latest offering has been an international bestseller, and it thoroughly deserves that status.

Ove is 59, in the second day of his forced retirement, and considering the best place to put a hook in his ceiling. He has conducted his morning ritual of ensuring the residential area is free of vehicles, nothing has been broken into, the rubbish has been properly sorted into the recycling bins, and shooed away an annoying cat. Ove is a practical man of inflexible habits and perceived as the neighbourhood’s grump – but that is far from the truth because Ove knows there is right, and everything else is wrong. He judges others by the car they drive (he is a lifelong devotee of Saab) and when his morning is disturbed by the sound of a Japanese car backing into his letterbox, he cannot contain his fury. But it turns out to be just the thing he needed to start living again – because as the reader finds out, Ove is a man who has lost the love of his life and his reasons to live.

This wonderful book had me in fits of laughter at times, and at others in quiet tears. It is a life-affirming novel with many shades of light and dark, a great cast of characters (I did enjoy the Cat Annoyance!) and a charming narrative style. The sort of book I don’t just highly recommend, but want everyone to read!

Find this at abbeys.com.au


Nick Earls

Nick Earls is well-known for his comedic novels often about young men, decent but somewhat clueless, coping with being adults. In this engagingly funny new novel, he turns his sharply observant talent to a middle-aged man’s struggles in navigating the world around him. I can’t tell you how much I laughed (but I do apologise to the man I startled on the train when I brayed out loud!)

Andrew has finally had enough of being an infrequent visitor to his family’s lives, and has taken on another role in order to return to Brisbane. From being a private-equity troubleshooter for companies overseas, he has been shifted sideways into managing a radio station – AM, at that. His wife is a brisk, efficient doctor who seems chagrined and amused in equal measure by his return; his twin children are busy with technology and being teenagers; his father (once the reigning king of local radio) has moved in to recover from cancer surgery. There just doesn’t seem to be room for Andrew. To top it off, his biggest problem at work is the station’s biggest asset – a politically incorrect bigmouth who delights in offending all and sundry. Andrew starts to feel increasingly irrelevant – an analogue man in a digital age. Warm and wry, witty and wise – a great book to drive away the winter blues!

Find this at abbeys.com.au



Leigh Hobbs

He's back! That lovable giant chicken decides he has to visit London, so after breakfast he grabs his camera and flies there for the day. After a whirlwind day full of sightseeing and the sort of chaos that follows him wherever he goes, Mr Chicken heads home tired but satisfied… As much fun as Mr Chicken Goes to Paris with the slightly crazed and anarchic style that makes Leigh Hobbs such a favourite with readers of all ages! 



Christie Nieman

Robin has been forced to leave her beloved home in the Victorian countryside when her father decides to take off with another woman, and her teacher mother accepts a post in Melbourne. She hates the city, the school, and being the new girl. Seth is alienated and angry and spends his days in a drug-induced haze, having dropped out of school when his mother (a scientist studying bush stone-curlews) died in a bushfire. His sister Delia, highly intelligent and principled, is struggling with her nightmares and grief, but as their father is a selfish drunk stuck in his own loss, has to be the grown-up of the family. Each of these lost teenagers are drawn together, united by a misplaced stone-curlew, and eventually learn how to cope with what life has thrown at them. A strong novel for readers 14+




Ellie Royce and Andrew McLean

Every week Lucas accompanies his Mum when she visits her grandfather in a nursing home. It's boring there so Lucas doesn't go inside to see his Great Grandpop - but one day he meets Jack. Jack is another resident, but he's full of stories and even a bit of mischief. Suddenly Lucas can't wait to visit each week, as Jack tells stories and teaches Lucas that old people were once young and full of stories - and often, despite their age, still full of life. Quite a touching story, well-served by Andrew McLean's gentle illustrations. 4-6yo

Robin Stevens

Hazel Wong has been sent to an English boarding school, because her Anglophile father in Hong Kong wishes to score points against his competitors. Hazel has been determined to enjoy it, but the reality is somewhat colder and hungrier - not to mention lonelier. That is, until the most popular girl in the school, Daisy Wells decides Hazel will be her best friend (or willing slave, though in Daisy's books they are much of a muchness!) Together they start a detective agency but it's not until Hazel discovers the science mistress dead that they have something to investigate. Particularly when the body disappears before anyone else has seen it… A rather charming cross between an Enid Blyton and an Alan Bradley and a lot of fun! 12+ 



Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Friday, 6 June 2014

Notes from Eve Abbey ~ June 2014

I think it was bad luck for NoViolet Bulawayo that her wonderful book We Need New Names came out the same year as Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries.

They are both totally original and totally unusual. They were both Short Listed for the Man Booker Prize and The Luminaries won. This was great for Eleanor but not much help to NoViolet (who maybe needs a new name herself)...



Nonetheless, let me press her book upon you. The Luminaries is quite a slow read but We Need New Names flashes along. It is set in an unnamed African state, probably Zimbabwe, where a lively group of young people, in a poor area, spend their time stealing guavas from the houses in better areas, and dreaming about going to America when things “get better”. The story is told by a bright and brave girl called Darling who does go to America to study and stay with her Aunt who has made it. It is the quality of the prose which is so affecting. You might think you know the reaction to going to America but this book is a total surprise. For instance, driving through the derelict suburbs of Detroit with her Uncle she remarks “if these buildings could talk they would stutter”. Do read this.

Another very successful book from an African writer is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who is from Nigeria and is also the author of Half of a Yellow Sun, which has been made into a film screening here recently. Americanah is the story of a very successful migrant from Nigeria to America. She has become quite a famous blogger and has a gorgeous American lover but she pines for home and her childhood friend. He meanwhile has been educated in England but has returned home to become a somewhat shady businessman. This is a love story filled with information about migrant and African life. Perhaps too much information. The author is determined to leave nothing out. There is a lot of very amusing information about how Africans deal with their hair. The New York Times made it one of their Ten Best Books for 2013.




After I finished The Luminaries I made it my business to read Eleanor Catton’s first book (which was also a prize winner for First Book), because I could see Eleanor Catton was an especially gifted writer. It is called The Rehearsal and is hardly a rehearsal for The Luminaries! It is very different. It is full of over-heated adolescent sex and anxiety. It is set in a good High School where the main characters are learning the saxophone from a most unusual music teacher who is full of advice and plots. The sister of one of the music students has had an affair with a youngish male teacher and is temporarily “off school”. This episode enthrals the other students and unfortunately the students at the nearby Institute of Dramatic Art decide to use the story as the base for their end-of-year production.

In true Eleanor Catton style there is much written for you to think about – whether it be drama, movement, theatre, sex, friendship or parental supervision. At times the thoughts seem a bit mature for the characters and there are moments when you are not sure if this is part of the real story or part of the imagination of the character at that moment. Never mind. It is all worthwhile. Read it and enjoy it. I suspect there will be someone you know for whom this is just the right book?

The First Tuesday Book Club had Anne Tyler as their classic guest last month. What a good choice. When Peter Carey came to Abbey’s years ago (when Oscar and Lucinda won the Booker Prize) to talk with Elizabeth Riddell on the stairs, he told me Anne Tyler was one of his favourite writers. You’ll always find some of her fine titles on the shelves at Abbeys, such as Beginner’s Goodbye, Back When We Were Grownups or The Accidental Tourist or Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. All good! Lovely.


Keep well.

Eve


Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers


Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Children's Books ~ Reviewed by Lindy Jones


Lindy Jones ~ Australian Bookseller Association Inaugural Bookseller of the Year 2011




Peter Smith &  Bob Graham

Albert decides that even if he is 60, he will compete in the bike race from Paris to Nice. After all, he’s fit and has a good bike, so why not? Although not the fastest cyclist, with perseverance and a bit of bonne chance, Albert does ride to glory! Told in rhyme which reads out loud beautifully, and with delightfully witty illustrations provided by Bob Graham (look out for his ever-charming trademark vignettes), this is a book made to share.

Find this at abbeys.com.au


Mo Willems

The irascible Pigeon is back! He's filthy but he has a host of reasons why he shouldn't take a bath: it's considered impolite in some circles, 'clean' and 'dirty' are just words, he's pretty sure he had one last month… Of course, once he bad-temperedly gets into the bath, he changes his mind! Willem's trademark drawings are deceptively simple, but convey a great deal of attitude. Fun for the pre-schoolers who love Pigeon's naughty antics, and just as much fun for the adult who recognises toddler behaviour!

Find this at abbeys.com.au



J A White

One night 6 year old Kara is snatched from her home and taken, blindfolded, to a field where the first thing she sees is her mother, bound and waiting execution. They have both been accused of witchcraft, a capital offence, but Kara manages to unconsciously fool the witch-hunter and is allowed to go free.

Seven years later, she, her sickly brother (who was born on the night of their mother's death) and her grief-maddened father are little short of outcasts. Their isolated island community abhors magic - even wishing is considered reprehensible - and is anticipating the return of a legendary leader who will save the world from its evil.

Surrounding the settlement is a forest, Thickety, which embodies all the darkness it fears, and between the trees and the farmland is Fringe, an area vegetated with treacherous plants. When Kara is lured into Thickety, breaking a promise she made her mother, dreadful things are set in motion, and everything she has struggled for is jeopardised…

This is far and away one of the best novels I've read in a very long time. I read it in one sitting because I was so absorbed in the world that was created and couldn't bear to put it down until I had reached the end - and what a finish: there's a major development I didn't see coming at all! There are many levels to this imaginative novel and its atmosphere of uncertainty and menace is artfully conveyed.

The creatures could come from nightmares, and the repressive nature of the puritan community is well described, but it is Kara who catches your attention from the very first. Intelligent, stoic, quietly defiant, she deals with habitual suspicion and doubt, yet remains faithful to her true self. I reckon Kara will be the next heroine to sweep readers away, and that this is the beginning of a very special series indeed!

Christine Paice

Rebecca’s father has been given a new parish, and Rebecca is most unhappy. Obsessed with all the fervour of a 15 year old she has had to leave behind her boyfriend; her older sister has left home for university; and the new neighbourhood is decidedly weird. Creepy, even. So when the ghost of a failed 19th century poet appears in her bedroom, she is not so much surprised as puzzled by what he wants. Their unusual friendship offers solace to them both, but the ghost of his sister wants something else again…

A coming-of-age novel with an energetic, almost breathless style that captures the contradictions and complications of leaving childhood behind.

Find this at abbeys.com.au



Sarah Mussi

Set a short way into the future, this tremendously paced novel throws the reader straight in the deep end. A bill has been passed into British law, mandating enforced sterilisation of any teenager who does not gain university admission, or has no job to step straight into. It is supposed to solve the problems of society, but of course, the teenagers this repressive measure is aimed at, aren't convinced. The main character, Tia, is the daughter of the minister who has formulated this policy, but she is also an elite hacker who has organised flash mob riots. When a protest turns terribly wrong, she discovers there is more to the movement than meets the eye. Along with a fellow hacker-conspirator, she has to fight for what she thinks is right, even if it means she stands to lose everything she holds important… A compelling read, 14+



Oliver Jeffers

This delightful book explains the concept of zero to the very young. The Hueys, Jeffers' egg-like characters, discuss counting, and how none can be just as much a number as one to ten are, even if it's nothing! An imaginative take on the traditional counting book, with examples of numbers that are far from ordinary (like 2 is sleeps before an important event, or 4 is tantrums someone throws in a day) combining fun and learning in an off-centre way!




Diana Sweeney

Winner of last year's Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Literature, this slightly surreal novel is set after a devastating flood. Tom passes herself off as a boy after her parents and sister are killed in the deluge, has conversations with fish and turtles, and lives with Bill in an old shed by the lake. Bill is a secretive man, and very unlikeable, but Tom is so immersed in her grief she accepts his appalling behaviour without judgement - including the fact he has impregnated her… She moves in with her best friend, who lost his family to the same flood, and with his help, and with wise words from her feisty but fading grandmother she learns how to deal with all that life has given her. Ages 14+

Zana Fraillon

Jack is a cheeky young lad, full of mischief, delighting in jokes. He loves his great-grands, his Mum, his cousins and siblings who all share a tumbledown house. He's also deaf, so when his older sister tries to wake him one night, he doesn't stir, until strange men bundle all the children into a van and take them to an orphanage. Jack is known as Number 49, but there's no way he's going to become 49 - a boy he knows has left him clues on how to make his way home again. As the days accumulate, Jack struggles to make sense of what's happening, but he won't give up hope… and nor will his older sister. A very moving and powerful story, with a fresh and immediate style. Ages 9+




Barry Jonsberg

Pandora wakes in a strange place, and discovers she is one of the few survivors of a pandemic that has swept the world. She can remember watching her family die, but she doesn't know how she got to The School. The School is surrounded by a gigantic wall, ruled by despotic teachers, and is meant to prepare the survivors on how to live in an altered world. But is the truth being told? Pan's not convinced - and she's in danger... A conspiracy novel with a cracking pace! 12+

Children of Gununa,  Alison Lester,  Elizabeth Honey

This is a lovely and colourful collaboration between respected  authors and the children of the community of Mornington Island. It has been an on-going project, where the children have been encouraged to describe their island home in words and paintings, and this forms the basis of the book. Royalties go to the community, so it is both a worthwhile book and a worthwhile cause!





Susin Nielsen

Henry's comfortable and loving family life is shattered. Trying to start afresh in a new town and new school, Henry starts a diary at his counsellor's insistence. He resists at first, but before long he starts to confide in his journal - what his present life is like, the pitfalls of living with his barely-employed father and eventually, the tragic events that broke up his family. Strong issues, but dealt with sensitively and with the occasional well-placed flash of humour. 13+

Tristan Bancks

One day when Ben is filming one of his stop-motion detective movies, there's a knock on the front door. Real policemen are asking after his parents. After they leave, Ben's folks turn up, tell Ben and his young sister they are all going on their first family holiday, and head for his grandfather's cabin in remote bushland. Ben's Dad is a short-tempered and unpleasant man, and the holiday certainly isn't like anything Ben has ever imagined, even if there seems to suddenly be some money to spend which they have never had before. What starts as an uncomfortable and tense time rapidly gets worse, and Ben is forced to confront some awful truths… An action-packed novel for ages 11-13





Rosie Borella

Amber works in an old people's home; there isn't much on offer in her small country town and it certainly isn't something she particularly wanted to do. She starts noticing a young man hanging around the home; the old people accept him and enjoy his company but no-one knows who he is. She is attracted to him, and his courtly old-fashioned manners; although he is suitably vague about his past, he also appears troubled by something he can't quite remember. As she comes to learn more about him, Amber suspects Jack may not be quite what, or who, he appears. An enjoyably romantic and sweet-natured novel about the past affecting the present and determining the future. 13+

Bill Condon,  Beth Norling

Known for his young adult novels, Condon turns his talents to a novel for primary age readers. Stephen is the sort of gentle young lad who likes routine and has a certain way of looking at the world around him. When his parents take him to visit his Great Aunt Lola, he doesn't want to stay even though his Mum says they have to wait until Lola's 80th birthday has passed before returning home. He isn't sure about the girl staying next door, either, although her grandfather is likeably eccentric. Lola is scary, and used to her own way, and both she and Stephen learn that the world can contain all sorts of different ways of living and loving. An affectionate novel of cross-generational friendship and the importance of allowing outsiders a chance. Ages 8-11





Jackie French,  Bruce Whatley

A companion to the creators' book Flood this captures the harshness of bushfire. Written in simple rhyming couplets, the text conveys the omnivorous nature of wildfire, the harshness and battles and cost as it devours the land. It also ends with a positive message, of resilience and regrowth. The illustrations are evocative, the oranges and yellows of the flames, and the ashy greys of the aftermath conveying a realistic portrayal of bushfire's effects. Whatley also spatters his paint on the pages to effectively show how fire is dirty, spewing ash and debris. An important and useful book to discuss a widespread and common occurrence, which does not sacrifice artistic beauty to its message.

Rosemary Sutcliff

I grew up reading Sutcliff's novels, and I credit my interest in history to her deftly plotted and deeply researched stories. This was one of my favourites and has certainly stood the test of time since it was first published in 1965. Red-haired gladiator, Phaedrus, wins his freedom but has no place nor people to return to. Approached by Celtic tribesmen to impersonate their rightful king in a plot against a ursurping queen, Phaedrus accepts. He is taught by the man he needs to impersonate, and learns much of importance - including a sense of belonging. Being accepted by the tribe however, is only the beginning of a deeper struggle… Full of sophisticated storylines and psychological depth, this is a powerful and exciting read.




Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Lindy Jones has been reading...


Lindy Jones ~ Australian Bookseller Association Inaugural Bookseller of the Year 2011

Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds by John Pickrell

ABBEY'S CHOICE JUNE 2014 - SCIENCE

John Pickrell

Written by a journalist rather than a scientist, this accessible book presents the current thinking on the evolution of birds. In the process, it removes some long held misconceptions – thanks to the remarkable discoveries of amazing fossil fields in China, and fascinating research being carried out there and elsewhere.

It seems many dinosaurs were covered in feathery fuzz rather than scales, that flight as a strategy has been the most successful development of the animal kingdom, that clever science has discovered the colour range of dinosaurs, and that we don’t need to go all Jurassic Park and recreate dinosaurs, as they still exist today in a wonderful array of shapes and abilities today.

An entertaining and enlightening read!

Find this at abbeys.com.au



Tess Lea

The last of the NewSouth series on Australian capital cities, this maintains the consistent excellent quality of the other books. A blend of history, memoir, explanation and exploration, Darwin the city is a place that shouldn’t exist. Sheer tenacity has seen it survive natural catastrophes, wartime bombing, inhospitable geography and the indifference of Commonwealth governments.

Tess Lea reveals a city that has always struggled against its physical position (and the section on how mosquitoes have influenced settlement is both fascinating and slightly scary!) but holds pride in being so isolated, tough and defiant. Even if contemporary Darwin is losing much of what set it apart, and even if it is truly a militarised town where no-one mentions the impact of American Marines stationed there, or the fact Darwin is home to the biggest military aerial defence training zone in the world.

A paradoxical place, captured in cleanly descriptive style; a book that presents it in all its compromised glories!

Find this at abbeys.com.au


Louisa Young

This is the sequel to the excellent My Dear I Wanted to Tell You and continues the stories of Riley Purefoy and Peter Locke after the cessation of the Great War.

If war was hell, settling back into civilian life holds its own horrors. Riley’s facial disfigurement presents problems apart from the physical, and misunderstanding arises between him and his sweetheart Nadine even as they marry. Peter is struggling with a sense of futility, alcoholism and a wife bearing her own self-inflicted damage. As time passes Riley and Peter learn how to re-engage with life, never able to put aside their war experiences, but slowly finding their way in a world irrevocably marked by the cataclysm.

An excellent examination of the impact of peace.

Find this at abbeys.com.au



Sian Prior

This absorbing and revealing memoir deals with social anxiety, fame and its effects on relationships.

Sian had suffered from shyness all her life, but had managed to hide her ‘failing’, adopting a more confident persona that carried her through careers in the public eye for two decades. When she entered a relationship with someone famed for his songwriting and singing, she could thought she had found someone whose reserve matched her own, and felt safe in his company. But whenever they were in company, people gravitated to him and ignored her, and her social anxieties grew. Deciding to research the topic, she also delves in to more personal questions regarding her past. Then her partner drops a bombshell…

A book that will resonate with any woman who has been unceremoniously dumped by the man she thought was her true love. Sian might be criticised for not naming her ex but the book is about her, and not him, and I found this to be an effective method of dealing with the obvious trauma of losing him. I also find it hard to listen to his songs lately, but this memoir is a fine read.



Keir Alexander

If you want an easy and entertaining read, this one will fit the bill! Michael Marcinkus runs an old-fashioned deli in a New York neighbourhood. His aunt Rosa is a disreputable, shambling, unwashed wreck of a woman, muttering and shuffling and striking dread into the people who pass her by.

One day she is involved in an accident, and while she is in hospital, Michael ventures into her stinking flat, where he stumbles across an unexpected treasure – a pair of ruby shoes in a box stamped with a Hollywood insignia. This starts off a chain of events involving a number of characters in the district – the street boy up to no good, the man who has lost his partner, Michael’s wife and family, and an assortment of well-meaning customers.

Nothing serious about this, but a good way to while away an afternoon or two!




J A White

One night 6 year old Kara is snatched from her home and taken, blindfolded, to a field where the first thing she sees is her mother, bound and waiting execution. They have both been accused of witchcraft, a capital offence, but Kara manages to unconsciously fool the witch-hunter and is allowed to go free.

Seven years later, she, her sickly brother (who was born on the night of their mother's death) and her grief-maddened father are little short of outcasts. Their isolated island community abhors magic - even wishing is considered reprehensible - and is anticipating the return of a legendary leader who will save the world from its evil.

Surrounding the settlement is a forest, Thickety, which embodies all the darkness it fears, and between the trees and the farmland is Fringe, an area vegetated with treacherous plants. When Kara is lured into Thickety, breaking a promise she made her mother, dreadful things are set in motion, and everything she has struggled for is jeopardised…

This is far and away one of the best novels I've read in a very long time. I read it in one sitting because I was so absorbed in the world that was created and couldn't bear to put it down until I had reached the end - and what a finish: there's a major development I didn't see coming at all! There are many levels to this imaginative novel and its atmosphere of uncertainty and menace is artfully conveyed.

The creatures could come from nightmares, and the repressive nature of the puritan community is well described, but it is Kara who catches your attention from the very first. Intelligent, stoic, quietly defiant, she deals with habitual suspicion and doubt, yet remains faithful to her true self. I reckon Kara will be the next heroine to sweep readers away, and that this is the beginning of a very special series indeed!

Christine Paice

Rebecca’s father has been given a new parish, and Rebecca is most unhappy. Obsessed with all the fervour of a 15 year old she has had to leave behind her boyfriend; her older sister has left home for university; and the new neighbourhood is decidedly weird. Creepy, even. So when the ghost of a failed 19th century poet appears in her bedroom, she is not so much surprised as puzzled by what he wants. Their unusual friendship offers solace to them both, but the ghost of his sister wants something else again…

A coming-of-age novel with an energetic, almost breathless style that captures the contradictions and complications of leaving childhood behind.



Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Author Event ~ Ceridwen Dovey ~ Only The Animals

Ceridwen Dovey will be appearing at Abbey's on Thursday May 29.

Ceridwen Dovey

Ceridwen's new novel is titled Only the Animals and it contains beautiful and thought-provoking stories that explore the complex relationship mankind has with animals. Dovey has used cleverly used the device of speaking from the perspective of various animals as a means to approach some of the major conflicts of the past century in a fresh way.

The thoughtful and reflective tone of the novel is leavened with humour that comes from combining human understanding and expression with each animal's basic drives and behaviours.

Ceridwen will be appearing at Abbey's at 6pm on Thursday 29 May where she will be in conversation about her book and the ideas behind it. Light refreshments will be served and no animals will be harmed in the making of this event.



CERIDWEN DOVEY ~ ONLY THE ANIMALS
THURSDAY 29 MAY
6PM
131 YORK STREET
(Tucked safely behind the QVB)

FREE EVENT: If you would like to attend the event please RSVP to events@abbeys.com.au


One final note on pronunciation: Ceridwen is pronounced 'Keridwen'.

More about Ceridwen:

SMH interview

POP.EDIT.LIT interview


See you on the 29th!

Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey


Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers