Thursday, 19 December 2013

Notes from Eve Abbey ~ December #2 2013

What very good news to hear that Canadian short story writer Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Especially nice to have a winner that most of us have heard of! There was a big rush to reprint her backlist. They are wonderful, delicate stories. Don’t over-indulge. And great news to hear that Eleanor Catton, from New Zealand, won the Man Booker Prize for her big historical novel, The Luminaries. You can read the first chapter online if you like via the Google symbol on the book page on our website. Reliable Rose Tremain wrote a book some years ago with a similar setting – the Goldfields of Otago, New Zealand. It was called The Colour and I enjoyed it a lot.

There’s a new Shaun Tan book out this Christmas that has been selling strongly. His books are for both young and old. I have a small collection myself. In this one, called Rules of Summer, the illustrator/storyteller describes the adventures of two small boys on holiday. No idyllic country scenes here – it is more back lanes and empty industrial sites peopled by surreal things, not quite human, but certainly quite real. The most important rule is “always know the way home” – good advice! It is a large, slender hardback. Add it to your collection. Maybe you have a copy of my favourite, The Lost Thing.

Shaun Tan won an award for an animated film made from The Lost Thing, a strange and beguiling story about a boy who found a large, unusual object at the beach and eventually had to find a home for it. He also won the very prestigious and very rich Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2011. This is a special prize set up by the Swedish Government for contribution to children’s literature, to honour the author of those Pippi Longstocking books. Abbey’s of course has a selection of these, as we always try to stock backlist titles of great authors. Perhaps easiest to choose: The Best of Pippi Longstocking.

Language Book Centre upstairs has some DVDs in German for Region 2: Weihnachten mit Astrid Lindgren or Pippi Langstrumpf TV Collection. The shortlist for next year’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award has been announced and three Australians are in there – Melina Marchetta, Morris Gleitzman and Ursula Dubosarsky. I hope one of them is the lucky winner, but there is serious competition from Eric Carle in England. Who has not had a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar?

The first time I heard of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was when celebrated Australian author Sonya Hartnett won the prize in 2008. She has written many books for young adults, children and adults and is a complete professional. My favourite is The Silver Donkey, which is soon to be reissued in a special edition, and she had two good titles in the Popular Penguin series – Of a Boy and Surrender. There is also a small memoir called Life in Ten Houses, also in the Popular Penguin series, which describes the various houses in Melbourne where she has lived. Talk to Lindy, who oversees our Children’s book department, for further assistance.

Local author Lenny Bartulin has written three excellent crime novels set in Sydney in which the hero runs a secondhand bookshop in York Street, just near Abbey’s. They are De Luxe: A Jack Susko Mystery, The Black Russian and A Deadly Business. He has now come up with a swashbuckling yarn set in early Tasmania, and what a nice surprise it is! Despite its violence and abundance of rum and blood, there is a nice light touch, romance, heroism and excellent historical detail. All in all, Infamy is a great read.

Remember, just click on any book title above (in bold) for details of price and availability.

Enjoy. 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

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Australian author Sulari Gentill ~ Rowland Sinclair Series ~ ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Australian author Sulari Gentill concocts a superb blend of historical events and people in her crime fiction series centred around gentleman artist, Rowland Sinclair, and his bohemian artist cohorts in the first half of the twentieth century.

Friends to the end, each character in this likeable posse grows with each new instalment: Rowland, a talented portrait artist from a wealthy family; Clyde, a steadfast bloke and landscape artist; the flamboyant Milton who is very possibly a poet; and Edna, the sultry sculptress for whom 'Rowly' is yet to declare the full extent of his feelings.

I entered this series with book four, Paving the New Road, in which the crew undertook a mission to Germany in the foment of fascism in 1933. In the fifth in the series, Gentlemen Formerly Dressed, the gang flee to London, wanted for murder in Germany. There, while they lay low (in luxury - Claridge's of Mayfair is their London digs), they are ensconced in the world of English privilege through the Sinclair family connections. When a Lord is murdered in scandalous fashion, the surrounding cover-up threatens to send to the gallows a woman whom Rowland is certain is innocent of the crime. Money and connections however are not always able to protect the team from the violence that befalls them.

Gentill cleverly weaves real-life characters (H G Wells and Evelyn Waugh are just two who appear here) and uses short newspaper clippings from the era at the beginning of each chapter. These are interesting for what they say about the times, as they set the scene for what follows.

If you're a fan of the fastidious stylings of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot or the extremely fashionable Phyrne Fisher (Kerry Greenwood's Miss Fisher Mysteries) then you may well find yourself soaking up the stylish ambience that Gentill evokes.

You don't need to have read the previous books to enjoy the action and the mystery that unfolds in this story. There are minor references to events of the previous books, such as why Rowland's arm is in a plaster cast, however none of these impair your understanding of this story. But having now read two books in the series, I've been enjoying my time with the four friends so much that I'll be going back to the beginning. ~ Craig

And now you can too. We tip our hats to the people at Pantera Press. They've now brought out this wonderfully titled pack, BOWLERS, BOHEMIANS & BLOODSHED, which contains the first three books in the sparkling ROWLAND SINCLAIR series and is such FANTASTIC VALUE! BUY HERE.

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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Monday, 2 December 2013

Lindy's Top Fives for 2013

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

As the year end draws near, I asked Lindy Jones if she might kindly let me know her Top Five books of 2013 so that I might share them with you. I should have known that to a prolific reader like Lindy, five was never going to be enough. Her response?

Five. He asks for five. Five!!!!! Why limit oneself?

And so, here are Lindy's TOP FIVES...

My favourite five Non-fiction?

Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane. Thoughtful, elegant, poetic and just beguilingly beautiful.

Born in a Tent by Bill Garner. Interesting theory of the origin of the Australian character, and a fine read to boot.

Flocks of Colour by Penny Olsen. Another of those glorious productions the National Library does so well.

Coast by Ian Hoskins. A readable history (with scads of lovely illustrations) of human interactions with the NSW coast.

White Beech by Germaine Greer. With all the zeal of the newly-converted, Greer attempts to redress the ecological disaster of generations.

My favourite five historical fiction?

Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant. The Borgias give Thomas Cromwell a run for his money.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. When she can vividly construct the 19th century in all its glory -  why did she waste her time writing other stuff?

Paris by Edward Rutherfurd. A great sweeping epic that presents the development of the city over the centuries through the stories of families.

My Notorious Life by Madame X by Kate Manning. Colourful and gleeful in equal measure. One of the best female characters of the year!

Perfect North by Jenny Bond. Perfectly formed, perfectly satisfying.

My favourite five quirky fiction?

The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence. Lovable characters and serious issues, and one of quirkiest and best-intentioned narrators!

The Coincidence Authority by J W Ironmonger. Coincidence has been used as a narrative device before, but not as well as this!

Happily Eva After by Chris Harrison. The mix of grammatical pedantry and the outsider take on contemporary society was vastly entertaining.

Mr Wigg by Inga Simpson. Gentle story of a gentle man, but with such an appealing set of characters and rural lifestyle.

Feast of Artemis by Ann Zouroudi. The latest in the glorious Mysteries of the Greek Detective, Hermes Diaktoros. Colourfully entertaining!

My favourite five other fiction?

Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope. Thus showing a temporal relocation of the Austen classic only proves the story as being absolutely timeless!

The List of My Desires by Gregoire Delacourt. When you know what makes you happy, can achieving what others think should make you happy, make you happier?

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. The same stories from different narrators make this a fine example of the power of storytelling.

Z, A Novel by Therese Fowler. A sympathetic and true-feeling depiction of Zelda Fitzgerald and her destructive relationship with F. Scott.

Gotland by Fiona Capp. Elegaic and thoughtful, how a woman deals with love and her loved husband's ambitions.

My favourite five YA fiction?

All the Truth that's in Me by Julie Berry. Lyrically written, cleverly structured, unusual and absorbing story of silence, self-imposed and not.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller. Examines the effects of war on a young man who is not yet emotionally mature.

Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil. Sweet-natured fresh-voiced and funny contemporary fiction. Says interesting things without being preachy.

Siege by Sarah Mussi. Pure adrenaline - and a heart-stopping ending.

Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frankie Garcia by Jenny Torre Sanchez. Teenage angst, yes, but also, teenage wisdom.

My favourite five children's fiction?

Song for a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt. Wonderfully imaginative and totally satisfying. And those Marsh Aunties? Brilliant!

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. This year's Newbery winner, and absolutely well deserved. I don't even like gorillas! but I fell in love with Ivan.

Nell's Festival of Crisp Winter Glories by Glanda Millard. The last in the Kingdom of Silk series, and as tender and sweet as all the others.

Lily and the Traitor's Spell by Holly Webb. Because this brought the series to an end, and I loved the magical world she created.

I'll cheat with this last entry, and just say any Text Children's Classic because I enjoyed re-reading the books of my childhood!

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

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers