Books

Berlin Alexanderplatz ...

New York Review of Books
28.02.18 6:32 am

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Dr McAllister’s Lexia Lexicon

Paula Xiberras
27.02.18 12:52 pm

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Dr Jodi McAlister recently answered my questions about her move to Tasmania and her book ‘Valentine’, the first in the series of fantasy Young Adult (YA) fiction.

At the time of the questions, Jodie had been living in Tasmania for about eighteen months and working at the University of Tasmania

Jodi says that she has no regrets of the move especially as it has enhanced her life as a writer.

“Whenever I’m feeling uninspired, I look out my window at Mt Wellington looming mysteriously over the Derwent, and suddenly I’m not so uninspired any more….”

Always drawn to fairy tales Jodi said her decision to write in the fantasy genre was the duality of ‘woods’, for Jodi they represented both danger and potential liberation. For instance for Red Riding Hood, the wolf in the woods spells danger but for Snow White escaping into the woods meant liberation from the evil queen.

Jodi says there are connections that can be made between the mysterious woods of fairy tales and the mysterious stories of the Australian bush like Picnic at Hanging Rock. Jodi says

“to write a book that had that uniquely Australian sense of the menacing landscape, and using fairies and drawing on fairy tales, which are so full of the woods, felt like a natural fit.”

Jodi always dreamt of both publishing a novel by the time she was 35 and achieving a PhD before she was 30 years old. With both dreams now achieved Jodi jokes it’s time’ to set some new career goals’ for herself including the future instalments of her book series.

In the meantime Jodi is delighted by the reaction to ‘Valentine’ including the following nod to urban culture:

“By far the most frequent comment I’ve had on this book is, “OMG! You mention Fruity Lexia on page 2!” Who knew that terrible cheap cask wine was so beloved my so many people.”

Valentine is out now published by Penguin Random House.

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The Impossibility of Being Oscar

New York Review of Books
27.02.18 5:39 am

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Mendelson, music, mysticism and the mistress

Paula Xiberras
24.02.18 4:53 am

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Roger Mendelson once considered making his home in Tasmania and has friends associated with, appropriately, the Friends school. Although living in Tasmania didn’t materialise for Roger, he has found a similar place of natural beauty and quiet in Victoria’s Dandenongs.

When we chat, Roger reminds me of Hobart, having Australia’s oldest synagogue and the interesting fact of the synagogue in Launceston having front row benches reserved for convicts.

The discussion regarding the synagogues has relevance to Rogers’s novel Eliyahu’s Mistress, the love story of a catholic, Frances and Steven from the Jewish faith. The Eliyahu of the title is Frances’ dog who is named after the music by Mendelson rather than the biblical character.

Steven is a businessman who values his Jewish heritage and although involved in the local community is not overly religious. Frances on the other hand has a strong belief in her Catholic faith and its mysticism. She is very much connected both to the natural and spiritual world and often can be found out in the unspoiled environment around her home, deep in contemplation.

Frances works for a Catholic charity and she meets Steven when he is recruited to help the charity in marketing and promotion. A business relationship between Steven and Frances develops into dynamic discussions on work religion and life.

The intellectual relationship eventually becomes something more, something forbidden because Steven is married but as we never meet his wife we empathise with the characters we know. Steven and Frances. The novel is refreshing in that it doesn’t shy away from religious debate something rarely found in relationship novels and Mendelson is not afraid of describing his characters as something other than youthfully beautiful. That is not to say they are not an attractive couple. Frances is a beautiful woman but as well as the physical, there is the beauty of intellect and character.

A lawyer by profession, a career which demands precision, Roger finds fiction ‘allows unrestrained freedom in developing characters’.

The novel, in keeping with its mystical feel, provides a suitable if surprising ending.

Eliyahu’s Mistress is out now published by Sid Harta Publishers.

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Tim Winton is coming to the Tramsheds in Launceston on Saturday March 24 at 4:30pm

Anne Layton-Bennett
23.02.18 2:43 pm

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London Review of Books: Penelope Fitzgerald

London Review of Books
23.02.18 4:43 am

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This Writing Month - February/March

Tasmanian Writers Centre
22.02.18 1:44 pm

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Black Inc: March Releases ...

Black Inc. Books
22.02.18 1:41 pm

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Hobart Bookshop: Running out of Entropy, Tim Thorne

Hobart Bookshop
16.02.18 11:26 am

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You are invited to the launch, by Sarah Day, of Tim Thorne’s new collection of poetry, Running out of Entropy, published by Walleah Press.

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London Review of Books: Why do white people like what I write ...

London Review of Books
16.02.18 6:49 am

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Jindalee Jones ...

Paula Xiberras
14.02.18 6:29 am

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I recently spoke to Jennie Jones, the alliteration of her name is perfect for an author who has worked previously as an actor in the UK before moving to Australia.

Jennie’s new book ‘The house on Jindalee Lane’ is a case of art imitating life in the story of actor Edie Granger and her efforts to stage a murder/mystery play in her in her local Snowy Mountains community.

The novel details Edie’s past problem with a producer which caused her to seek refuge back home, only to have the problem follow her to new environment. Edie must make sure the nature of her play does not bleed into real life.

A further frustration albeit a lighter one is her needing to address a long ago, remembered embarrassing embrace with local guy, Ryan Munroe for whom Edie still harbours feelings.

One of the things that stands out in the Jennie’s novel is its inclusiveness, demonstrated in the character of Eddie’s sister who suffers a disability due to an accident and the inclusion of a gay couple.

When a work of fiction such as this entertains and also teaches it is an extra bonus.  Jennie’s desire to be authentic to reality allows her to use her theatrical experience to give us a glimpse of the world she belongs to. In this case Jennie explains why ‘whistling’ occurs in the theatre. Jennie tell us it was an exceedingly practical practice by the workman who moved the large pieces of equipment overhead. The whistle was a signal to those below to beware falling objects!

The House on Jindalee Lane is out now published by Harlequin.

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Flight to freedom

Paula Xiberras
14.02.18 6:26 am

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Melissa James has been to Hobart once, with family and friends, and ‘absolutely loved it’. She tells me she actually, ‘warmed to the cool weather’ and was pleasantly surprised by how uncrowded Tassie was and particularly notes her love of the little villages and towns she visited.

Melissa originally wrote for MIRA under the romance umbrella before she was given the chance and explore other genres, in this case a brand of crime/thriller, which she calls ‘romantic suspense’. Melissa explains that the strong relationships documented in the books take them as step beyond conventional romance novels.

We chatted about Melissa’s most recent and very original novel ‘Beneath the skin’ the story of Elly Lavender a flying doctor who is seeking to evade a former patient who has been stalking her. With her stalker strides away she seeks assistance from her childhood love Adam Jepson who is now an outback policeman. The character of Elly is from an indigenous background and Melissa was prompted to write the novel after researching her own Aboriginal heritage. 

Adam has suffered his own pain from the loss of his wife and son in an accident and is attempting to rebuild a life for himself and his daughter Zoe. Elly enters this fragile environment bringing hope as she rekindles love for Adam and becomes an exceptional female role model for Zoe. Unfortunately the arrival of Elly’s stalker means she is torn, with the knowledge her presence in town is a threat to her new family.

Melissa James, ‘Beneath the skin’ is out now published by MIRA

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You thought you gn’u Jimmy Barnes

Paula Xiberras
12.02.18 2:36 pm

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Books and bagpipes are playing a larger part in Jimmy Barnes life at the moment, or at least books, but who can resist the alliteration! Alongside his well-known role as rocker. Jimmy is now a bestselling author with critical acclaim of the two parts of his autobiography, ‘Working class boy’ and the second instalment ‘Working class man’.

I chatted to Jimmy last year about his latest literary endeavour a bairns book indeed! One written specifically with children in mind. The children’s book ‘Och Aye the G’nu’, says the Scottish born singer, is a project that has been a labour of love.

The book is also for children at heart and is culturally inclusive including bagpipes, African chants and the didgeridoo. This mix of cultures is in due to the cultural travels of the Gnu himself, a native of Africa who is transported to the snow and bagpipes of the Glasgow zoo. The Australian connection comes about because on the plane trip over he is accompanied by a kangaroo who becomes his friend.

We learn of Och Aye

“… he lived in a zoo in a land that was wet and a bitter wind blew and the snow and the bagpipes were all that he knew and he went by the name of young Och Aye the G’nu” and perhaps a tongue and cheeky nod to Jimmy’s powerful voice we learn that young Och Aye “has a voice that cut through”.

The story of Och Aye the Gnu has a companion volume called ‘The recorded poems of Och Aye the G’nu’. This book is multi -media in approach and contains a CD of the poems that tell the story of Och Aye read by Jimmy himself. Jimmy is joined by the Wiggles on this project and tells me he has known them for 35 years and finds them the perfect collaborators for the project because they are able to step into the minds of children. For additional authenticity Jimmy says Anthony the blue wiggle who plays the bagpipes is an actual Scottish chieftain.

Jimmy is proud of his Scottish background and has a Scottish family gathering once a year. At the time of our chat Jimmy was planning to spend the New Year in Glasgow and said when he returned he was thinking of doing something new, perhaps even formally becoming the tartan wiggle!

‘Och Aye the G’nu’ and it’s companion book ‘The recorded poems of Och Aye the G’nu’ are out now published by Five Mile Press.

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Poet Invites Readers into Her Beautifully Messy Mixed-Up World

Aurora House Publishing. First published November 3
18.12.17 1:56 pm

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“It takes a very strong woman to remain gentle!” – Rosalie Fayad (Lady R.F) 

The Edge of My World by Rosalie Fayad (Lady R.F) is a collection of poems and proses showcasing an instinctive freestyle art-form of poetry that caters to everyone, covering themes such as Love, Life, Anxiety, Inspiration, Determination, and Self-Worth.
 
As someone who has suffered from anxiety and PTSD for most of her life, Rosalie has based many of her poems on the crippling ailment, allowing readers experiencing similar situations to see they are not alone and that there’ll be plenty of sun-shiny days ahead. Rosalie holds nothing back in her poems, allowing readers to feel every raw emotion – good or bad – inviting them into her beautifully messy mixed-up world.
 
The Edge of My World is a wonderful collection of poems where there is something for everyone – Love Poetry for the romantics, Motivational Poetry for the despondent, and so much more. All readers need to do to take this journey is pack their heart. 

The Edge of My World is published by Aurora House. RRP AUD$59.95. ISBN: 9780995395350
Available in all main online bookstores, including Amazon and Kindle.

 
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About the Author

Rosalie Fayad (aka Lady R.F) has been writing since she learnt the alphabet and phonics — keeping her first journal at the very young and tender age of six, and continuing to do so to this present day. Writing has always been the only way she was able to express herself with any clarity. Poetry to Rosalie is mused instinctively: never forced, thought-out, or planned — never taught or learnt. She is an absolute lover of words. She sees and understands the world in metaphors — she then paints you pictures of her world using words… beautiful, beautiful words!

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A Real Convict Ancestor

Sue Waterworth*
16.12.17 5:48 pm

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the cover of the book

Readers apparently revel in stories of appalling and harrowing lives, so transportation of convicts to Tasmania is always a popular topic.

And that means authors are constantly on the lookout to discover new ways to tell old tales. But since there are already so many stories available, it’s no easy task.
Tasmanian author Sue Cox offers a unique viewpoint that’s both personal and local, in her first novel, Banished beyond the seas. 

She’s woven her story from her abiding love of Tasmanian landscape, and a fictionalised account of her great, great, great grandmother’s life.

Detail that’s factual and precise

Calling all lovers of the ins and outs of everything!  Prepare to be delighted, Clearly, Sue researched and rummaged around in every corner of who-knows-what history archives, to unearth scads of intriguing detail about furniture, fashions and food. 

It’s specific and accurate, and sketches in a credible backdrop for the characters, and the everyday events that made up their lives. A potted social history.

“The entry hall was absolutely elegant.  The parquetry floor shone from the light coming in through windows on each side of the door that were etched with Scottish thistles and heather. The walls were hung with large family portraits in lavishly gilded frames.  There was a tall beautifully carved coatrack for coats, hats, umbrellas and boots, and across the hall from it stood a richly carved oak settle.  Large lamps with ornate lampshades decorated with flowers and leaves sat on the dresser”

What’s it about?

Here’s a tale about courage, resolve and endurance, and it’s supported by a solid and authentic sense of place. The characters would recognize the landscape without a moment of doubt. And so too will many current readers.

The protagonist is Jeannie, a gutsy and determined young Scottish woman, who got herself transported like so many others, for a crime she didn’t even commit.

She struggles with her grim life, and clutches onto her deep-rooted love of family that includes the people brought to her by circumstances, just as much as her own kin.

At the start of each chapter, there’s an appealing short teaser, just enough to give a glimpse of what’s ahead. The super short chapters keep the plot moving along, and make it an easy read.

When a reader comes face to face with unpleasant episodes in history like this one, he’s made to confront all sorts of distressing emotions. But luckily for us, the author infused plenty of poignant and funny moments into the story to neatly balance things out.

In Banished beyond the seas, we get a look at history from a slightly different perspective: a bygone era we’d maybe prefer to forget. 

But at the same time, it makes crystal clear, how we come to have had such tough, hardy and steadfast women in Tasmania; forebears who can only be described as inspiring role models.

Banished beyond the seas $29.95
Author: Sue Cox
Publisher: Forty South Publishing
Available at bookstores or
http://www.tasmaniabeyondtheseas.com

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Wilderness and the human soul ...

Communion Arts Journal
15.12.17 8:48 am

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What do wild places mean for the human soul? What of our nature is unlocked when we return to the rhythms of the natural world? How has this changed over time? How are we reshaping this relationship now?

(The following is a lightly-edited transcript of ‘Wilderness and the Human Soul’, a featured session of the Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival,, 15th September 2017, Hobart - with Bob Brown, James Dryburgh, Heather Rose and Pete Hay and accompanying performances by singers Jodi Haines, Judith Reid and Kartanya Maynard).

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Kim’s capsicum candy and other recipes

Paula Xiberras
15.12.17 4:00 am

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Kim McCosker, the inspiring author of the four ingredient cook books and more, has been inspired again, this time by her role as fur mum to a dog, guinea pig and goldfish, to write a cook book that provides easy, nutritious and importantly economical meals for pets.

Kim’s new book, ‘Pet Cookbook’, boasts over 60 recipes for a variety of animals including, dogs, birds and guinea pigs.

As well as recipes, the book is also filled with informative facts about our animal friends and includes a reflection on ‘pecking order’ which tells us a lot about the intelligence of hens who display commitment to a hierarchy or pecking order in the farmyard as they access their food!

Another little known fact is that guinea pigs are lack vitamin C so must obtain the vitamin from food such as capsicum which due to its sweetness can even be labelled   capsicum candy!

The recipes themselves have names that make you smile like mutt-loaf and watermelon pup-sicles, the latter which literally make both humans and dogs salivate!

Some of the economical tips discussed in the book include using chicken breasts and oats, which are easily available to almost everyone, to create chicken jerky an inexpensive alternative to shop brought beef jerky.

Kim says the great thing about preparing your pets food is you know exactly what ingredients are included, so if there is an adverse reaction the culprit can be easily cornered.

Allergies are not the only challenge for pets, even more worrying are toxic foods. These include raisins, chocolate, onions and cooked chicken, the latter because it is prone to splintering.

Important to remember too, is the fact that the teeth of pets like dogs and guinea pigs never stop growing and so need to chew products like bones to file those teeth down. Kim also recommends for the complete teeth cleaning process, parsley to freshen pet’s’ breath.

Oh, and there will be a lot more inspiring pet food preparation ahead for Kim as she tells me she is soon to become a grandparent to her pregnant guinea pig.

Kim McCosker’s ‘Pet Cookbook’ is out now published by Simon & Schuster.

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Lark Whisky Bar, December 14, 5pm: Launch of Tasmanian Whisky, The Devil’s Share ... THIS ARVO ...

Bernard Lloyd, Taroona, Tasmania. First published December 4
14.12.17 6:30 am

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Reviewed! There Be Dragons

Sue Waterworth
13.12.17 8:26 am

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Funny things books! Some of us like some of them, some of the time. But There be dragons might be an exception. It fits into a lot of categories and will appeal to lots of people….in fact, anyone who’s ever been a child.

Not a children’s book; don’t even let them near it, or they’ll get ideas, and learn very uncool things about their parents they don’t need to know.

Prepare to be dropped right back into childhood, especially if you’re ‘a certain age’. Heather Donaldson offers a palpable essence of childhood that works, no matter what your generation.

But they’re personal stories too. And they’ll make you laugh out loud. She writes in a simple child’s voice with an adult commenting over her shoulder.

Doesn’t matter that you lived somewhere else and your friends had different names; you’ll recognize them – the Danny Crawfords of this world are like universal archetypes!

It’s a social history too.  Backyard incinerators, dad plucking the rooster for Christmas, or groups of kids going off to play in the park don’t exist much anymore, but were the stuff of endless adventures, not to say misadventures.

Don’t miss this one; buy a stack of them, and you’ll have pretty much sorted your Christmas shopping.

There be dragons $14.95
Author: Heather Donaldson
Self published
Available at bookstores or
http://www.therebedragons.com

Heather’s well known for having started the Power of Humour groups in Tasmania a few years back, and she’s written a number of other books:

• Stop Suicide
• Grow Old Disgracefully
• Gambling: Know When To Walk Away
• When Someone You Loves Has Cancer
• Drugs – High Hopes and Sudden Silences

Heather’s website ...

https://therebedragonsintasmania.com/

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Hobart Bookshop: Launch of Wish You Were Here. TONIGHT: Sold

Hobart Bookshop
07.12.17 10:26 am

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Another new launch announced for December ... 

You are invited to the launch of Sheridan Jobbins’s book, Wish You Were Here.

Why do some of the most difficult times in life also turn out to be the most hilarious?

In Wish You Were Here Sheridan is 35 and should be happily married with a child on the way, living the fabulous life of a successful screenwriter in Sydney. Instead, she’s just smashed all her favourite china on the kitchen floor, shut the door on her marriage and is driving a hot red Chevy hell for leather across the USA.

Hopelessly unprepared and heartbroken, she sets out on the road trip of a lifetime determined to find herself. Ironically she finds love instead. But not before a whole bunch of crazy adventures and wrong turns along the way . .
‘Raw, hilarious and wise, this wild ride will have you crying with laughter.’
~ AMANDA KELLER

‘Entertaining, colourful, thought-provoking, and life-affirming, this authentic rom-com road trip will appeal to the broken-hearted and to those looking for stories of travel and love.’

~ BOOKS AND PUBLISHING

Born in Melbourne, Sheridan Jobbins is a third generation Australian film maker. She kickstarted her career as one of the original celebrity chefs on Cooking with Sheri, earning a Guinness World Record as the youngest host of her own show at the age of nine. She was a director of the film company Latent Image Productions which produced the award-winning film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Since 2000 she has co-written screenplays with director Stephan Elliott for Disney, Warner Bros, Working Title, Hopscotch and Ealing Studios. Wish You Were Here is her first book. You can read more about the book if you visit the website for its publisher, Affirm Press.

Free event, all welcome.

Where: The Hobart Bookshop, 22 Salamanca Square
When: Saturday December 16, from 5.30pm

... and don’t forget tonight’s launch ... 

You are invited to the launch of Blair Denholm’s book, Sold.

The Gold Coast swelters in record temperatures, and car salesman Gary Braswell’s feeling hot under the collar. His sales are at rock bottom, and he’s up to his neck in debt to loan shark Jocko Mackenzie. If the loan’s not repaid, there’s more than Gary’s kneecaps at stake – his long-suffering wife’s also in peril.

When Gary turns his skills to real estate sales, he’s soon embroiled in the murky world of money laundering. Things get even hotter when the federal police start sniffing around. With Jocko on his tail, Gary concocts a scam of unimaginable scale and audacity. But hard-drinking, cocaine-snorting Gary is incapable of planning ahead. So, can he pull it off?

Hilarious and dark, Sold is noir reading at its best – a whirlpool of sex, drugs, and real estate.

Blair Denholm is a freelance writer, editor and translator who has lived and worked in New York, Moscow, Munich, Abu Dhabi and Australia. For further information, visit his website.

Free event, all welcome.

Where: The Hobart Bookshop, 22 Salamanca Square
When: Thursday December 7, from 5.30pm

... and also ... 

You are invited to the launch of Fernanda Alves’ book, Maternity: A Sweet Conflict.

How many women do not dream of having a child? How many of them could not imagine dressing that delicate little body, and covering it with love and care? What they often fail to recognise is that this dream is almost always accompanied by great questions. To solve them, we are going to count on the experience of someone who has gone through the ups and downs of pregnancy and postpartum, proving with her tips that, despite being a sweet conflict, maternity can be wonderful!

Fernanda Alves Breen is a Business Administrator with an MBA in Marketing Administration. In this book, this first-time mother portrays pregnancy and postpartum difficulties from the woman’s point of view. Member of the Brazilian NGO, Amigas Do Peito (a breastfeeding association in Brazil), she addresses issues ranging from the planning to have a child to the difficult choice of whom to leave the child with upon return to work.

Free event, all welcome.

Where: The Hobart Bookshop, 22 Salamanca Square
When: Thursday December 14th, from 5.30pm

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The Rich Greenie, Financial Strategies for Living Well While Saving the Planet by Stuart Barry

Rachel Edwards
07.12.17 6:43 am

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Cover of the new book

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Stuart Barry

Get ahead financially AND live an ethical life.

The Rich Greenie is a unique combination of financial strategies for a better quality of life and techniques to lower an individual’s impact on the planet. It tells the reader how to create real change, both personal and universal, and how to get rich doing it.

“Consumers can exercise real power, arguably much more effectively than protesting or voting, through using their money to change the world,” said author Stuart Barry.

“ These techniques can have significant personal financial and happiness benefits, so are a win-win for both the planet and personal outcomes,” he said, adding that his goal “is to make a contribution to solving the problems facing the planet”.

This book occupies a unique space, bridging personal money management with green living.

It provides clear tools, in accessible language for a general audience to grow wealth while still saving the planet and it includes successful case studies. It contains practical advice on how to make beneficial financial change for you and your family.

The book is aimed at general readership and especially at those of us who choose to live a life that is both wiser for ourselves – and for this unique green planet.

Stuart Barry walks the talk. He is a lifetime environmentalist and philanthropist and an experienced and professional financial advisor. He has worked internationally in global financial markets and is one of the few financial advisors around Australia to be certified by the Responsible Investing Association of Australasia for his ethical expertise. He is the owner of Tas Ethical, a successful Tasmanian business specialising in ethical and green investments.

He is a sought after public speaker and President of the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, Treasurer for the South Hobart Sustainable Community, Board member for disability employer Tas Tex and also a Commissioner on the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission.

The Rich Greenie is his first book.

RRP $32.95

Rachel Edwards
On Her Selection: (selected secondhand books) http://onherselection.bigcartel.com/
Blog:http://paigelovesbooks.blogspot.com.au/
Transportation Press: https://transportationpress.net/
T: @paigelovesbooks

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Hobart Bookshop: Launch of Maternity: A Sweet Conflict

Hobart Bookshop
05.12.17 5:41 pm

A new launch for your diaries ... 

You are invited to the launch of Fernanda Alves’ new book, Maternity: A Sweet Conflict.

How many women do not dream of having a child? How many of them could not imagine dressing that delicate little body, and covering it with love and care? What they often fail to recognise is that this dream is almost always accompanied by great questions. To solve them, we are going to count on the experience of someone who has gone through the ups and downs of pregnancy and postpartum, proving with her tips that, despite being a sweet conflict, maternity can be wonderful!

Fernanda Alves Breen is a Business Administrator with an MBA in Marketing Administration. In this book, this first-time mother portrays pregnancy and postpartum difficulties from the woman’s point of view. A member of the Brazilian NGO Amigas Do Peito (a breastfeeding association in Brazil), she addresses issues ranging from the planning to have a child to the difficult choice of whom to leave the child with upon return to work.

Free event, all welcome.

Where: The Hobart Bookshop, 22 Salamanca Square
When: Thursday December 14th, from 5.30pm

... and don’t forget about this week’s launch ... 

You are invited to the launch of Blair Denholm’s book, Sold.

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The Gold Coast swelters in record temperatures, and car salesman Gary Braswell’s feeling hot under the collar. His sales are at rock bottom, and he’s up to his neck in debt to loan shark Jocko Mackenzie. If the loan’s not repaid, there’s more than Gary’s kneecaps at stake – his long-suffering wife’s also in peril.

When Gary turns his skills to real estate sales, he’s soon embroiled in the murky world of money laundering. Things get even hotter when the federal police start sniffing around. With Jocko on his tail, Gary concocts a scam of unimaginable scale and audacity. But hard-drinking, cocaine-snorting Gary is incapable of planning ahead. So, can he pull it off?

Hilarious and dark, Sold is noir reading at its best – a whirlpool of sex, drugs, and real estate.

Blair Denholm is a freelance writer, editor and translator who has lived and worked in New York, Moscow, Munich, Abu Dhabi and Australia. For further information, visit his website.

Free event, all welcome.

Where: The Hobart Bookshop, 22 Salamanca Square
When: Thursday December 7, from 5.30pm

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Tasmanian Writers Centre: December Events & Programs

Tasmanian Writers Centre
04.12.17 7:39 pm

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Answering the Caul to save lives

Paula Xiberras
02.12.17 5:34 am

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‘You never forget a love that is true but it can live in your memory’.  So are the mysterious musings of our heroine Isla in Fiona McIntosh’s new novel ‘The Tea Gardens’.

Once again Fiona provides an underlying theme for her novel and this time it is tea but unlike previous books with the themes of perfume and chocolate the tea is filtered feather like throughout the novel an integral part of her protagonist’s story.  Her protagonist Isla is ‘a splendid character ‘says Fiona, when we caught up for a chat recently.

Isla when we meet her, is a confident woman, a skilled medical professional but as her story unfolds she is made aware of the complexities and ambiguities of medicine in general.

You might be excused reading the blurb, that the book is essentially about the work of doctors and midwives in India and indeed the book is about the health of woman as well as an examination of faith within medicine. It is also about Isa’s promise to honour her mother’s work. Isla’s mother died while saving lives in India but to do so she must make a compromise, to her father who doesn’t want Isla to suffer the same fate as her mother and to her fiancée, Jove, who agrees to her wishes for a six months working in India before settling into married life with him.

At the juncture of Isla and Jove’s meeting to affirm their agreement tea makes it’s first notable presence as the two partake of a beverage in the tea rooms before she leaves for India.  This infusion of the healing substance continues to meet with us at various points in the novel.

In England, Isla notes, tea is metaphorically the cure of all ills, as it brings people together but in India tea literally cures. On her arrival Isla is introduced to the main varieties and properties of tea, culminating in her own use of tea to help heal fellow doctor Saxon Vickery, when he becomes ill.

Of her hero Jove, Fiona says she has ‘never created such a gentle, fair, calm, strong empathic and sympathetic male character’. While there is no human villain in this book, instead the real villain is the social conditions, the social conditions, poverty, religious and cultural divides that impact lives and the delivery of health services.

This book is not only infused with the aroma of tea and its healing powers but also the remarkable cultural knowledge that Fiona has infused her characters which is then juxtaposed with the reality tha t medical knowledge may not be enough when dealing with cultural sensitivities.

The novel’s ’symbolism, like the tea tempts repetition. The apex of the novel when Isla ascends the Himalayas, reaches the literal and metaphorical heights in her experience of love. The beautiful picture, on the inside cover of the novel taken by Fiona herself is a haunting image of the rooms of a man who saw medicine and healing as more than a physical process but a holistic one that encompassed the properties of tea and of an original bedside manner,

This novel with complexity on so many levels reminds us that life is complex, but enriched by stopping to taste the tea.

This is one of Fiona’s best yet, a masterpiece reminding us we could all use that medical miracle, the caul, to protect us from drowning in the tears of life.

The Tea Gardens is out now published by Penguin/Random House.

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A review of One Flew Over the Kookaburra’s Nest ...

Review by Maggie Maguire
28.11.17 6:51 am

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ANATOMY OF A WHISTLEBLOWER

In the foreword to Tasmanian whistleblower Kevin Moylan’s autobiography One Flew Over the Kookaburra’s Nest former secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation Jill Iliffe credits the former nurse with being the “catalyst for the development of the Australian Nursing Federation policy on whistleblowing”.

Given the importance of whistleblowing in sectors dealing with the vulnerable this is quite an achievement for a mental health nurse from Spencer Psychiatric Clinic, Wynyard.  Moylan outlines his whistleblowing journey in this recent publication.

Historically the book is informative on previous methods of treating the mentally ill in the 1970s including group psychotherapy and the administration of “truth” drugs to penetrate ego-defences for psychotherapeutic purposes.  These practices were eventually dropped after the Townsville Ward 10B Royal Commission.

In the case of Ward 10B in the 1970s and 80s, diagnoses were not made because of the therapeutic ideology in the ward. This led to serious abuse and a subsequent Commission of Inquiry investigated 23 deaths.

In many ways it is a shame that the psychotherapeutic approach (apart from the truth drugs) has been so seriously impacted by the Ward 10B findings and Moylan makes quite a good argument for a return in the case studies of former patients he has included in the book. Sometimes the mental health sector throws the baby out with the bathwater.

Another important historical aspect of Moylan’s book is his chapter on Royal Derwent hospital.  Called by Moylan the “geographical cure” he describes incidents when he had to transport patients from Wynyard to New Norfolk.

Having worked in Royal Derwent one Christmas holiday in the 1970s I can support the statements that the hospital was a hell-hole.  Disabled children were admitted routinely to Royal Derwent including a huge number of children with Downs Syndrome who complained bitterly about the boring nature of the peg packing tasks they were given. Children of above average intelligence with spina bifida were given no education or occupational therapy. Intersex children were given no stimulation either physical or mental and were treated like curiosities. Elderly people with Alzheimers were sleeping in large dormitories with people with serious mental illnesses.

Moylan’s description of Royal Derwent is mainly centred on Ward 7 the ward (or rather jail) for the criminally insane and he describes how patients from the Spencer Clinic who displayed anti social behaviour were sent to this ward. It is important when considering mental health in Tasmania that we contemplate the truly awful conditions that patients were subjected to in the 1970s and 1980s so that we can make sure that mass institutionalisation does not occur again.

One Flew Over the Kookaburra’s Nest is also valuable for those concerned with the safety of nurses and those faced with the prospect of being a whistleblower.  Moylan was attacked by a patient in 1994 and tried to alert authorities to security and administrative problems at Spencer Clinic. His remaining story is about his battle for compensation and desire to improve the safety of staff and patients at the hospital.

During his fight Moylan lost his home, his acreage and his beloved horses and at various times was homeless and jobless so his story might be a cautionary tale for those considering whistleblowing in Tasmania.

One Flew Over the Kookaburra’s Nest, Fraser Island Publishing

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Winners of the 2017 Premier’s Literary Prizes

Will Hodgman, Premier
27.11.17 7:51 pm

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Says Adam: ‘So thrilled to have won the University of Tasmania Prize as part of the Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Awards for my manuscript Brodsky Dies. Thanks to all involved in this necessary prize. Here’s a pic of me and Her Majesty.’

The winners of the 2017 Premier’s Literary Prizes have been announced today at Government House in Hobart.

The Premier Will Hodgman said the Tasmanian Government was proud to provide $40,000 to the awards and congratulated the winners for their outstanding work.

Literary talent is clearly flourishing in Tasmania, and our state is proving to be a great source of inspiration for our creative best.

I congratulate all winners of the awards, particularly winner of the Tasmanian Book Prize, Rebe Taylor.

The Premier’s Literary Prizes are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate writing in and about the place we call home.

The prizes were judged by an independent panel from the literary sector, chaired by Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart.

The Tasmania Book Prize for the best book with Tasmanian content in any genre - $25,000
• Winner: Into the Heart of Tasmania by Rebe Taylor, published by Melbourne University Publishing.

The Tasmanian Young Writer’s Fellowship - $5,000
• Winner: Erin Hortle

The Margaret Scott Prize for best book by a Tasmanian writer - $5 000
• Winner: The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose, published by Allen & Unwin.

The University of Tasmania Prize for the best new unpublished literary work by an emerging Tasmanian Writer - $5 000
• Winner: Brodsky Dies by Adam Ouston

There were almost 1 000 votes cast in the Premier’s Literary Prizes People’s Choice Awards with the public voting for:

The University of Tasmania Prize People’s Choice Award
• Winner: A Guide to Bushwalking in Tasmania, 25 Short Walks by Ben Walter

The Margaret Scott Prize People’s Choice Award
• Winner: The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose, published by Allen & Unwin.

Tasmania Book Prize People’s Choice Award
• Losing Streak: How Tasmania was Gamed by the Gambling Industry by James Boyce, published by Black Inc,

A media kit including author biographies, synopses and judges’ comments is available on request.

For more about the Premier’s Literary Prizes visithttp://tasmanianartsguide.com.au/plp/

The Tasmanian Government delivers the prizes through Arts Tasmania with the support of the University of Tasmania and private philanthropists.

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Hobart Bookshop: Blair Denholm’s book, Sold.

Hobart Bookshop
22.11.17 3:53 pm

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Coming up in December ... 

You are invited to the launch of Blair Denholm’s book, Sold.

The Gold Coast swelters in record temperatures, and car salesman Gary Braswell’s feeling hot under the collar. His sales are at rock bottom, and he’s up to his neck in debt to loan shark Jocko Mackenzie. If the loan’s not repaid, there’s more than Gary’s kneecaps at stake – his long-suffering wife’s also in peril.

When Gary turns his skills to real estate sales, he’s soon embroiled in the murky world of money laundering. Things get even hotter when the federal police start sniffing around. With Jocko on his tail, Gary concocts a scam of unimaginable scale and audacity. But hard-drinking, cocaine-snorting Gary is incapable of planning ahead. So, can he pull it off?

Hilarious and dark, Sold is noir reading at its best – a whirlpool of sex, drugs, and real estate.

Blair Denholm is a freelance writer, editor and translator who has lived and worked in New York, Moscow, Munich, Abu Dhabi and Australia. For further information, visit his website.
Free event, all welcome.

Where: The Hobart Bookshop, 22 Salamanca Square
When: Thursday December 7, from 5.30pm
 

... and don’t forget about tomorrow night’s launch ... 

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You are invited to the launch, by Megan Weston, of Irene Cowell’s new book, Rainbow Island: Tapestry of Time, published by Forty South Publishing.

Gabi opens his inheritance and is plunged into a fantastical chaotic world – the world of the Hidden. He travels through time; history collides with mythology. He means to protect his family but the heroic exploits of the Hidden face an irreconcilable threat to Rainbow Island.

In 2009, at the time when the stark reminder of mortality presented itself to Irene Cowell, and complications with friendships and family appeared insurmountable, traumatic memories surfaced and became intertwined with the local history of Bruny Island. Irene’s imagination was seized by a powerful image, the Empress of Time. The landscape of a story emerged, peopled with a cast of characters, their lives caught within the machinations of the Empress and her Daughter. The need to write about this interplay of characters became so necessary that she began to write its story. It is a fantasy, but steeped in the colours of reality. The locality: Rainbow Island – the story: Tapestry of Time.

Where: The Hobart Bookshop, 22 Salamanca Square
When: Thursday November 23, from 5.30pm

... and next week ... 

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You are invited to the launch, by Don Knowler, of Robyn Mathison’s new chapbook, Still Bravely Singing, published by Ginninderra Press.

We’re delighted to launch another of Robyn Mathison’s collections, and this delicate gathering of images and moments will fulfil readers just as much as her previous collection, To Be Eaten by Mice (2009).
Robyn Mathison was born in Narranderra, NSW, in 1938, and has lived in Hobart since 1975. She has written poetry, stories, and reviews, and has been published in journals and anthologies in Australia, the UK, and Japan. She has been secretary of the Fellowship of Australian Writers (Hobart) for more than 20 years and has co-edited three anthologies of Tasmanian writing and a collection of reminiscences of Gwen Harwood. She is a Life Member of the FAW, the Tasmanian Writers Centre, and the Society of Women Writers.
 
Free event, all welcome.

Where: The Hobart Bookshop, 22 Salamanca Square
When: Thursday November 30, from 5.30pm

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TV Producer Bites Back at Bullies!

Sarah Vogler, Aurora House
22.11.17 3:34 pm

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Publication Date: 23 October 2017
          Title: Louboutins, Lattes & Live TV        
        Author: Miriam Sawan  

Former TV producer Miriam Sawan is creating a storm with her debut novel, Louboutins, Lattes & Live TV, which is set to be featured in Cosmopolitan’s January issue, and has received an endorsement from leading lifestyle and news commentator Shelly Horton: “So one of the girls I mentor, the absolutely fabulous @miriameryan, has written a novel based behind the scenes of a morning TV show. It’s smart, funny and has an important message. So stop reading this and hurry up and buy it.”

Miriam Sawan is a former television producer who is biting back at bullies. Her debut novel Louboutins, Lattes & Live TV takes readers to the dark side of television, where the impressionable young are toyed and tampered with for Klarissa Maree-Francis’s gain.
 
THE PROTAGONIST
Anna-Simone is a savvy television producer desperate to find her place in lifestyle television. The colour. The madness and the manic deadlines form the perfect harmony of creative chaos she knows she can tackle. She thinks she has found her big break when she’s offered a job at Sky-High—the top-rated television network in the country.
 
THE PLOT
She arrives a bubbly, young, go-getter but soon realises her boss, Klarissa, is Satan in stilettoes. Well-heeled, well-spoken and a subscriber to the mean-girls group in media, Klarissa will make Anna-Simone question her very existence. But she won’t go down without a fight.
 
See what happens when two alpha females go head to head. When women sell their souls for a promotion. Where the price of success costs you your sanity. Where the ultimate lows lead to creative highs. And where out of the darkness, unlikely heroes emerge.
 
THE PURPOSE
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Miriam Sawan, above, is a former television producer turned media advisor who has worked for some of Australia’s biggest television networks. As a journalist, she always wanted her stories to mean something, and found purpose when she moved to a law firm that works on high profile social justice issues. In her new role as media advisor, she was suddenly exposed to many horrific accounts of workplace bullying and was fuelled to write a novel that would resonate with people’s office experiences globally. While she can’t tell client stories, writing Louboutins, Lattes & Live TV is her way to “empower young people in the workplace to stand up for themselves and nip nastiness in the bud.” As for any bullies who read her book, she hopes they’ll learn “to reflect and change old behaviours to stop themselves from the inevitable hurt they cause.” 

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There Be Dragons ... in Tasmania

Heather Donaldson*
21.11.17 5:51 am

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17 stories in book. This is part of one …

Extract ...

… Children are easily frightened, more often by fantasy and fear itself than reality. Bellarine was real, however, and the fear a generation of children had of her, justified or not, was very real indeed.

She was a legend. From one child to another passed the tales of terror that fed our fertile minds. We were warned often enough. “No one, but no one, goes near Bellarine’s after the sun goes down.”
But each child needs to learn life’s lessons alone, and in their own way.

This is the story of one of my earliest memories of her. I had gone to the corner shop several streets away with my big brother and his friends. We were straggling home in twos and threes, with me at the end of the straggle, about to sink my tingling teeth into a twopenny icy pole, when one of the big boys up front turned to speak to the rest of us. His eyes fixed in horror at something just beyond my right shoulder.

“Bellarine!” he screamed and they all stampeded off around the corner and left me utterly alone.

I remember a frantic feeling of fear and foreboding in that endless second before adrenaline reached my feet for flight. Something unknown and awful was very close behind me. Icy pole flung to the wind, I bellowed home into my mother’s worried arms at the gateway, speechless and hysterical.

Such was the power of Bellarine.

Later I remember my mother chastising my brother and his friends for being “unkind to that poor old migrant lady”, but children have no sense of sympathy or understanding of adult loneliness or the hurt that builds barriers of bitterness and barricades of bluff. Fear is their only reality.

We children knew that, in that large handbag she took everywhere, she carried a knife and a snake. We knew everything about her – and nothing. She was dark. She was different. She was danger. She always wore black – black from her thick lace-up shoes, long dress and coat, to the thin black shawl she wrapped around her head.

She spoke no English. The sight of children seemed to trigger some dark paranoia hidden deep inside her. She would screech and shake her stick at us and charge like a raging rhino. She who sometimes hobbled was capable of great speed and surprising strength.

She hated children and dogs, and the dogs were just as afraid of her as we were. When we ran, they ran. To my knowledge she never actually beat a child but many a dog felt the end of her stick across his retreating rump.

Over the years we developed a relationship with Bellarine rather like a herd of gazelle to a lurking lioness. She was the dark thread that criss-crossed the fabric of our lives and wove a pattern of fear that remains indelible to this day. She was a threatening shadow lurking in the corners of our collective childhood. We were always aware of her, always alert, always prepared to panic.

The words “Bellarine is coming!” could clear the street in seconds, no matter who was winning at hopscotch or marbles, or whose precious taw or cat’s eye was left abandoned on the roadway. Not until she was a tiny figure in the distance would the bravest of us re-emerge from hiding.

Such was the power of Bellarine.

Childhood is coloured by characters and punctuated by exciting episodes of encounter and escape. Once a ball landed on her roof and bonk-bonk-bonked down onto her front steps. From within the house awful yells in some strange language sent us scattering.

Another time a ball crashed against her front door and to our horror the door opened just a crack and a long, skinny arm emerged with a claw-like hand to engulf the ball and drag it inside. I had nightmares about that long, skinny arm for weeks …

*Heather Donaldson is the author of There Be Dragons ...

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Nunn better for Novel knowledge

Paula Xiberras
19.11.17 3:40 am

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I recently chatted with bestselling author Judy Nunn about her new novel ‘Sanctuary’.

Judy has strong affiliations with Tasmania and might be deemed an ‘adopted’ Tasmanian with her husband author/actor Bruce Venable, a native Tasmanian. The couple frequently make family visits to the state.

Judy latest novel focuses on the very topical subject of asylum seekers and in doing gives us an example of art imitating life because, as Judy tells me, when writing her book about 9 asylum seekers coming ashore on an island in Western Australia. In 2015, a real boat of Sri Lankan asylum seekers did indeed come ashore on a Western Australian island. This event for Judy was validation that what she had written about was plausible.

There were slight variations in the non – fiction account and its similar fictionalised one. In Judy’s story the asylum seekers arrive at a deserted island abandoned at the time by its seasonal cray fishers.  The cray fishers have left an hospitable environment behind them to support the asylum seeker, in this way the little village in Judy’s words ‘is a microcosm of Australia and the world.’

Among the group are Doctor Rassen , his nurse wife, a young child Hamid, a student Massoud and a beautiful mystery woman, Jalila.

There is compassion shown for the plight of the asylum seekers, aided by the fact they are fully developed as people but Judy doesn’t push any political stance or ‘lecture’. The facts are presented to the reader to arrive at their own conclusion. The weighty issues of the groups plight is balanced with a love story developing between Jilila and Paul, one of the port residents, as a healing of the asylum seekers and their acceptance by members of the island population takes place.

Sanctuary is out now published by Penguin/Random House.

Judy is visiting Tasmania and can be seen:

  20 Nov An afternoon with Judy Nunn at Hobart LINC
  20 Nov An evening with Judy Nunn at Kingston LINC
  21 Nov An afternoon with Judy Nunn in Devonport
  21 Nov An evening with Judy Nunn in Launceston

Bookings can be made here: https://www.penguin.com.au/books/sanctuary-9780143783855/events

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