Curses and Blessing for All Occasions

I’m sure we’ve all worked out by now that there’s a dark, seedy underbelly of this beast we call the internet, filled with strange people who take obscene pleasure in stirring up trouble and strife.

We know about it, but it’s still a bit of a mystery to most, how best to deal with this breed of odd people, but I think I might have hit upon a solution – Bradley Trevor Grieve’s Curses and Blessings for All Occasions (Allen and Unwin)…

“May you lose an earring in a piggery.”.

“May you be the receipent of a sweaty man hug.”.

“May reality television dissolve the boundary between your psyche and your rational self.”.

But, of course, there are also those wonderful people who are intelligent, rational and just plan delightful. They, in constrast, deserve all the blessings in the world. Maybe something like this might do the job…

“May your incisors be parsley resistant.”.

“May your neighbour’s rooster have a sore throat.”.

“May your libido exceed that of a thousand unwashed goats.”.

…to show how much you care.

I’m sure you’d agree that Greive’s newest offering is not only entertaining and humourous, but also extremely helpful.

Bradley Trevor Greive is of course most famous for his Blue Day Book, a well-thumbed copy of which sat for years on my parent’s coffee table. He’s clearly moved to new territory with this book though, as alluded to by his good friend John Cleese…

“I have a great admiration for the way my good friend BTG has amassed vast piles of cash putting saccharine comments under photos of cute-looking animals. But now he has suddenly written something which is both witty and interesting. I suspect it will disappoint his usual readership.”.

I must suggest that you buy a copy of Curses and Blessings for All Occasions, as a handbook, an arsenal, a gift.

Buy your own copy of Curses and Blessings for All Occasions at the TBYL Store


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Opportunity Knocks with Harlequin

From time to time, opportunity knocks. Maybe the newly launched Harlequin Escape is just the opportunity you’ve been waiting for…


Harlequin Australia, the leading publisher of romance and reading entertainment has announced the launch of its very own digital‐first imprint, Harlequin Escape. is now open to new manuscript submissions!

Authors – it’s your time to shine!

Do you have a burning idea that keeps you up at night?

A cross‐genre experiment looking for a home?

A rule‐breaking character lurking in your pages?

Now is the time to submit, as Harlequin Escape jumps head first into the innovation and freedom of digital publishing!

Harlequin Escape is an exciting new initiative to take Australian authors to a global audience. The call for open manuscript submissions will enable Harlequin Australia to expand its local author programme and unearth new Australian writing talent.

“For many, the traditional publishing model can be daunting and difficult to navigate. By creating a website where authors can openly and easily submit their work online, we believe we are opening up the publishing opportunity to many more potential new authors,” Managing Director of Harlequin Enterprises, Michelle Laforest, explained.

The signing up of Australian authors is an extension of Harlequin’s successful publishing programme. As experts in Romance for over 104 years, Harlequin can now leverage their experience in the world of digital publishing. Harlequin Escape will help discover new Australian talent and allow greater speed in delivering eBooks to market.

It’s an exciting time for publishing and with this initiative Harlequin will continue to lead the way in providing readers with new and interesting stories.

Visit for more information and submission guidelines.

For media inquiries contact:
Jane Morey
morey media
Ph: 02 9954 7955 or Email:

If you’d like to download these details, you can get the PDF here.  And, happy writing!
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Cute much? Paws

At this time of year I’m always keeping an eye out for new books about Dads, and so imagine my delight when this gorgeous book arrived in our mail box!

Kathy Finikakos’ new picture book Paws (JoJo Publishing) is a nicely told, beautifully illustrated story of a little bear named Paws and his head-strong father Roman…

Paws is a curious baby bear with lots and lots of questions.

His father, Roman, is a famous dancing bear who comes home with fantastic stories about the big wide world. Roman ends his stories every night by reminding Paws of the same thing: Don’t dream too much about all the things you can’t see; all you need is to be happy with your own corner of the world.

But Paws has no idea where to find his corner of the world, or what his corner even looks like…

When Paws decides it is time to set out in search of it, his journey will teach him that sometimes, the very thing you go looking for is right in front of you all along!

There’s searching and wondering, and lots and lots of bear hugs!

Kathy’s story would work wonders to sooth an impatient, frustrated toddler and help them to understand that they’ll discover all things in due course, that their own little corner of the world can be more than enough, for the time being.

The artwork in this book is stunning. Illustrated by Heath McKenzie, each page is perfectly balanced, often holding a dream-like quality. Paws and Roman are the perfect combination of bearish strength and irresistible hug-ability.  And of course, they’re father and son, and the large, stern bear’s tenderness for his cub is beautifully drawn.

That night, in a round room, in the middle of somewhere, with his little paw in his father’s paw, Paws lay sleeping safe and sound. He had finally found his corner in the big wide world. It was in his father’s arms.

You can find out more about Paws here…

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My wordy weekend

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the Melbourne Writers Festival is the highlight of my literary year. Never am I happier than when I’m listening the wonderful words of people like Carrie Tiffany, Gillian Mears, Jenny Hocking…

It wasn’t easy to fit the festival in this year, I’m not sure how we got so busy this month, but I worked hard to carve out a little time over the weekend to get to a couple of sessions.

Saturday, I revisited my own rural childhood through the works of Carrie Tiffany, Rachael Treasure and Paddy O’Reilly. Three talented authors, all of whom in their novels, have captured the essence of country, the hardship of the outback and the beauty of the rural way of life. In this wonderfully relaxed session, Carrie, Rachael and Paddy helped us to get a little closer to their characters, and also told us something of why writing rural is so important to them.

As is often the case with these sessions, we were also really lucky to be able to get a glimpse of the writing process. Carrie describing her writing as a little like creating a colleague, a collection of “found objects”, whilst Rachael revealed her desire to affect, to support a “paradigm shift of some kind” helping people to understand through fiction the importance of soil health and smart operation in the production of our food and the care of our land. In turn, Paddy recalled a need to explore the paths people carve for themselves, especially in small towns; “they follow the same tracks, go to the same places, see the same people.” The effect that this has on small town folk is captured wonderfully in her novel, The Colour of Rust. 

I was incredibly grateful to these authors, as they’ve encouraged me to revisit my own small rural background, after many years of hurriedly moving away from it.

On Sunday, I had a little more time in at Federation Square and made it to two sessions.

Firstly I heard from the inspiring and poetic Gillian Mears, the author of The Age Book of the Year, Foal’s Bread. A sold-out session, the BMW Edge was filled with dedicated fans of Gillian’s work, most of whom could be seen reacting with a real appreciation and tenderness for the work of this talented author.

Again, the session itself afforded us an opportunity to hear more about how this book was written, including a little on why it’s taken so long to be published. The answer to this often asked question is that it was as a result of consideration for an older sister with her own story to tell. Eventually though, Gillian admitted, this novel had to see the light, with the Narcarrow’s story aching to be told.

Gillian’s love of horses, riding and jumping was evident from the outset of this conversation – she spoke of horses in poems, rich with sensory details; their smell, their shine, their silkiness. In turn, her grief at her illness and the restrictions that it has placed on her riding and writing was palpable. She was open and generous in her discussion of MS, and the significant effect that it has had, and continues to have on her life.

If you’ve not already read the award-winning Foal’s Bread, I’d strongly recommend it. You can read my review here.

After this moving conversation, I was up for something a little more political, and attended a fascinating session Labor in Vain. The panel, featuring Maxine McKew, Steve Bracks and biographer, Jenny Hocking, discussed the question of whether or not the Labor Party could be said to be ‘in crisis’ and if they are, what they should do about it.

The session was very revealing, and raised many important questions about party dynamics, the importance of the ‘party line’, and the role of the media and opinion polls. I could have happily heard more, and one hour hardly seemed to do justice to this important topic.

In addition to the sessions themselves, one of the real highlights of the MWF for me was the opportunity to have a book signed and to share a quick word with the authors. I’m really pleased to have been able to add to my book collection, two more signed copies…

I’ve one more event to attend on Thursday. I’m very excited about this keynote address by Germaine Greer, who’ll be discussing our language and its use… “in an oration that will make you think seriously about our place in the world and the role that language plays in putting us there.” Stay tuned for my review of this session, or if you’d like to come along, you can book here.

Have you been able to get to any MWF sessions this year? You can check out their program here…

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Booked in, now out of my way!

When I started That Book You Like… 18 months ago, I did so with the aim of reading differently. My goal of reading widely and outside my comfort zone has led me to meet a most incredible range of new authors and readers, and most enjoyably, to share them with a fantastic community of bookish people.

I’m pretty sure that this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival will allow for many more such meetings, and I’m thrilled! Enquire Within promises to be a fabulous gathering of wonderful minds from across the world; authors, intellects, commentators and of course, readers.

Here in Melbourne, we are incredibly spoilt for choice. Scarcely a week goes by that there’s not an author event or a big idea on stage, presented by The Wheeler Centre or the many fabulous bookstores and libraries around the state. To me, Enquire Within, Melbourne’s 2012 Writers Festival (running from the 23 August until 2 September) is the delicious icing on the cake of twelve months of amazing literary adventures.

The program promises to not only be entertaining, but also rich with insight, analysis and review:

“Our program addresses questions about liberty and responsibility; it takes inspiration from beautifully told stories; it listens to startling newcomers and intellectual heavyweights; it revels in literary coups and writerly gossip; and it celebrates words and language and hence, life.”

Opening with words from Simon Callow, on Dickens, the festival starts on a high note. This leads a program rich with authors and commentators from across Australia and the world.

The full program is available now, from the Enquire Within website. But here’s a little heads up on what I’ll be attending and reviewing…

Outback Lives, Saturday 25 August
Does rural fiction have an agenda? Is the bush a setting or the reason for the story? Rachael Treasure (The Girl and the Ghost-Grey Mare), Paddy O’Reilly (The Fine Colour of Rust), and Carrie Tiffany (Mateship with Birds) discuss why they are drawn to tales of life on the land. I’m particularly excited about this one after having chatted to Carrie earlier this year.

In Conversation with Gillian Mears, Sunday 26 August
Her first novel in 16 years, the Miles Franklin-shortlisted Foal’s Bread, has immediately returned Gillian Mears to the literary spotlight. The award-winning author of Ride a Cock HorseThe Mint Lawn and The Grass Sister talks with Ramona Koval about her life, living with MS, and her love of northern NSW, so often the setting for her writing. You can read my review of Foal’s Bread here.

Labor in Vain, Sunday 26 August
As its state governments are blasted from office and its federal fate seems sealed, is the Labor Party in crisis or experiencing hiccups? Former Victorian premier Steve Bracks, Whitlam and Lionel Murphy biographer Jenny Hocking, and former member for Bennelong Maxine McKew, discuss Labor’s present predicaments and its future. Hosted by Laura Tingle.

Speaking Australian with Germaine Greer, Thursday 30 August
To define us is to negate us. Those who are trying to impose a standard English on all the varieties of Australian speech are not simply wasting their time; they are applying an inappropriate notion of standardisation that would crush the life out of the living language. Australians contribute to literary culture all over the English-speaking world. Are they bilingual? Are they secure enough to distinguish between – and enjoy – different kinds of Australian, or are they hamstrung by spurious notions of correctness? In this keynote address Germaine Greer will discuss our language and its use, in an oration that will make you think seriously about our place in the world and the role that language plays in putting us there. Proudly supported by Queen Victoria Women’s Centre.

Are you going to anything at this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival?

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Part 2 of the current read-a-long of ‘The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D’ It’s a fascinating book and a fantastic conversation. Take a look, but be warned – there’s spoilers!

All The Books I Can Read

Hello everyone and welcome to Week 2 of our discussion! Thank you to everyone who took part in the discussion last week, we had such a large number of comments and people shared really involved thoughts about how they were feeling about the book, which is always awesome. You guys make my job so fun and easy!

As always…. ***SPOILERS*** ahead!

Okay our second section of the book – we’re in to the 3rd week of Kate and Chris’s holiday and Chris is working and the kids are at camp which gives Kate quite a bit of free time to devote to reading the journals. She reads through a rather large part of Elizabeth’s life, her years living in New York, her love for her job, her romantic relationships that come and go. We also find out how Elizabeth met Dave in this section and are privy to their relationship…

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A good question: How to Be A Woman

A couple weeks ago, I read this month’s TBYL Book Club book, Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman (Random House).

Now, straight up, I’m going to say that I really enjoyed this book. I found it humorous, pragmatic, realistic and revealing. I’ll also say, that I know plenty of people who didn’t like this book – a few of whom didn’t push past the first couple of chapters.

And that is why I’m so looking forward to chatting about this book at the end of August…

How to Be a Woman is ‘part memoir, part rant, Caitlin Moran answers the questions that every modern woman is asking’

“It’s a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain…

Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby?”

I’m sure that most of us have pondered on one or more of these questions at one time or another, and Moran attempts to cast a little light on what these questions mean to women, both cosmetically and politically. Her illuminations are often irreverent, but I think always intelligently considered. Avoiding the ‘militant’ or ‘academic’ approach of many feminist writers, Caitlin’s approach to exploring issues that are so often labeled as fickle or unimportant is refreshingly practical:

“I have a rule of thumb that allows me to judge – when time is pressing, and one needs to make a snap judgement – whether some sexist bullshit is afoot. Obviously it’s not 100 per cent infallible but, by and large, it definitely points you in the right direction.

And it’s asking this question: ‘Are the men doing it? Are the men worrying about this as well? Is this taking the men’s time? Are the men told not do this, as it’s ‘letting the side down’? Are men having to write bloody books about this exasperating, time-wasting bullshit? Is it making Jeremy Clarkson feel insecure?”

As she says, it’s not a fool-proof test, but it’s interesting set of questions to ask.

Some people I know have found the book a little ‘ranty’ and it does have that about it, but I like the author’s humour, and I found this memoir a nice change from the fiction that I most often read.

As our August book at the TBYL Book Club, we’ll start our conversation about the book on Monday, 28 August over at the club. Join the August Group to join in the conversation, and if you’re around, pop online at 8pm Monday for a live chat. As something a little different this month, I’ll be posted a few questions each day, Monday through to Wednesday. We’ll wrap up the ‘official’ conversations on Wednesday night, although people are of course welcome to hang around for the rest of the week if you want to keep talking.

I am really interested to hear about what you enjoyed, disliked, agreed with or disagreed with. I hope you’ll join us…

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Celebrating 1000+

I spend a lot of time chattering on Facebook, and I’ve had the most amazing time watching our bookish community grow, slowly but steadily over the last year. The page is a great way to connect with people day-to-day, and to make sure that you guys know about all the fun things going on at TBYL; in The Store, at the TBYL Book Club and of course, on The Blog.

Now, after a bit of a membership drive, it’s time to celebrate! We’ve hit 1000+ bookish Likers and as promised, I’ve got a super give-away for you…

One lucky person will win a gift voucher for $50 off their next purchase from the TBYL Store, plus the gorgeous Alavu necklace (RRP $72, available from The Store) pictured here.

All you need to do is send an email to; subject line “1000”; and include your name in the body of the email as well as a note about how you found out about TBYL.

A winner will be drawn at random, 8pm Wednesday 22 August 2012 and notified by email.

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After romance? That Thing Called Love…

Finding the balance between reading and writing is always a bit of a challenge, albeit a challenge I love!

But, it does get a little tricky, as some month’s I get asked to look at so many wonderful books and my reading pile goes a bit crazy. And that’s why I thought I’d do a little outsourcing, so that I can bring you even more reviews each week.

Rest assured, our lovely new reviewers are beautifully bookish, and will be wonderfully equipped to give you the heads up on what’s good on the shelves at the moment.

And in saying that, I’m really please to introduced you to Tam J., who’s recently read That Thing Called Love (Harlequin) by Susan Anderson.

Here’s her thoughts on this newly released tale of romance…


If it’s a romance you are after, then this is the book for you. That Thing Called Love is an easy read, a real page-turner, once you become invested in the characters and their stories.

The novel begins with Austin, a thirteen-year-old boy who’s grandparents have died only months apart from each other. This leaves the boy heartbroken and worried, his grandparents became his guardians when his young father, Jake, deserting him when he was only a matter of weeks old.

After his loss, Austin finds himself in the care of Jenny, who has been like a sister to him since a very young age. This though, would seem to be a temporary arrangement, as Austin and Jenny find out when the estate lawyer informs them that Jake will be contacted to inform him of the new custody details of his son.

To complicate the situation, Jenny dislikes the deserting Jake, and the deep contempt she holds him is only made worse for the fact that it takes Austin’s father two months before he actually come to see his son after the deaths of his grandparents.

However, as the story develops we find out why Jake has taken so long to arrive in the small summer town of Razor Bay. It also becomes clear that he intends to get to know his son, with the intention of taking Austin from his hometown to return with him to New York. Jenny, who adores Austin as much as if he had been her own son, struggles not only with the thought of losing Austin, but also with her unexpected attraction to the very handsome Jake.

This book explores several different relationships. Susan Andersen conveys the teenager boy’s voice well, both in terms of how he needs his father and also in his own coming of age, especially as he meets Bailey, his best friend’s cousin, quickly developing a crush on her.

We discover that Jake has a sad history that has let in demons which encourage him to not hold anyone too dear and has made him believe that there is no such thing as love. To start with, I thought that I would not be able to like Jake seeing as he had not faced up to his responsibilities, but Susan writes this character well and I’ll admit, I ended up falling in love with him.

We are introduced to Jake’s half brother Max, and this in turn explains some of the history that has always made Jake run.  Also the relationship between Jake and his estranged son is well developed and really shows just how much Austin has been craving to know his father.

But, maybe no relationship is explored more than the one between Jake and Jenny.

This story is full of sexual tension and does end up quite descriptive, so perhaps not a book for those faint at heart. However, Jenny is a tough female lead character, she is petite and painted as a normal girl, not the knock-out of the town, and this only made me like her more. I  liked that she had spunk, she was not a push-over, she fought for what she thought was right, while saying and doing exactly what she meant to do, rather than a character that frustrates you with her regret and fumbling!

Razor Bay, the small tourist town in which this book is set is easy to develop a vivid picture in your mind, the characters are easy to relate with and the story is one that I enjoyed and found hard to put down. As far as chick-lit goes I enjoyed this book and would like to read more books about this Razor Bay family.


You might have a chance to read more of these stories Tam, as I’ve heard that this is just the first in a series of tales of Razor Bay!

I’m looking forward to hearing more about what Tam J. is reading! Thanks hun.

As an aside, I’ve got to invite you all to pop over to our Facebook page and find out details about our amazing celebratory give-away that’s running at the moment. We hit 1000 Likers and it’s time to party! Feel free to visit, like and enter our competition!

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Amusingly, I feel a little like I’m cramming for an exam today. You see, I’ve signed up for my second ever read-a-long and I’m scurrying to get the first third of the book, The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D (Allen and Unwin) finished in time to chat about it tonight.

The read-a-long is once again being hosted by the lovely Bree of All The Books I Can Read and you can find out more about how we’re reading the novel here.

The book itself, written by Nichole Bernier is intriguing from the outset, and very sad…

Before there were blogs, there were journals. And in them we’d write as we really were, not as we wanted to appear. But there comes a day when journals outlive us. And with them, our secrets.

Summer vacation with her family was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who’d lost her close friend Elizabeth in a plan crash. But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth’s journals, they reveal a woman far different than the cheerful wife and mother thought she knew.

I can’t wait to hear what other people are thinking about it. I for one am finding it pretty gut-wrenching, but also incredibly compelling. It’s made me sad but curious…

I’ll let you know as we hit each chat-point, and feel free to join us (just watch out for spoilers if you’ve not read the book.) Our first conversation is happening here.

Hopefully they wont be too cross with me for running a little late…

Buy your own copy of The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D at the TBYL Store


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