The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine (Krissy Kneen, Text)

The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex MachineI have long been an admirer of the work of Brisbane writer Krissy Kneen, who I believe is one of Australia’s hidden literary gems. With each new book, I find myself hoping that readers will finally discover her quirky, sexy and incredibly beautiful writing. Her foray into literary fiction, Steeplechase, was sadly overlooked by many readers but remains a favourite of mine. Witty and seductive, sexy and funny, with just a hint of the surreal, The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine is a book that I can see appealing to many readers new to her work. Holly White is young, beautiful, seductive—and abstinent! Engaged to the supposed ‘love of her life’, and with a promise ring on her finger, Holly spends most of her time hiding from her own burgeoning sexuality. But something is awakening within her, and it is not going to go away. Invited to join a book club with a difference, Holly discovers whole new ways to look at sex as she explores sex literature from the Marquis de Sade through to James Salter with her new friends. Holly White should appeal to those awoken to the possibilities of sex literature by the popularity of books such as Fifty Shades of Grey, but looking for something more sophisticated. Fans of Nicholson Baker and Angela Carter will be in heaven! A riotous romp through the imagination of one of Australia’s most accomplished sex writers.

Angie Andrewes is a bookseller and reviewer. This review first appeared in the Books+Publishing magazine Issue 1, 2015. View more pre-publication reviews here.

Bestsellers this week

David Baldacci Memory ManThe bestsellers chart has a new number one this week, with David Baldacci’s Memory Man (Macmillan) claiming top spot in both the top 10 bestsellers and fastest movers charts in its second week of release. Fiction titles dominate the rest of the top 10 bestsellers, including At the Water’s Edge (Sara Gruen, A&U) and Secret Keeping for Beginners (Maggie Alderson, HarperCollins), both new to the top 10, entering in sixth and seventh spot respectively. The first four highest new entries this week are updated editions of Minecraft Handbooks, with Minecraft Construction Handbook (updated edition) (Egmont) taking the top spot. Elsewhere in the charts, Kim Kardashian’s book of selfies, Selfish (Universe Publishing), is among the top five fastest movers—Books+Publishing (source: Nielsen BookScan, week ending 9 May 2015)

Bestsellers this week

nora roberts liarNora Roberts’ The Liar (Hachette) continues its run as Australia’s number one bestseller for the third consecutive week, followed by Truth or Die (James Patterson, Century) in second spot and Super Green Smoothies (Sally Obermeder & Maha Koraiem, A&U) in third. Patterson and Obermeder’s books are also this week’s top two fastest movers respectively. Three new titles have entered this week’s top 10: this week’s top two highest new entries Memory Man (David Baldacci, Macmillan) and Death Wears a Beauty Mask and Other Stories (Mary Higgins Clark, S&S) debuted in fifth and ninth spot respectively, while The Mindfulness Colouring Book (Emma Farrarons, Boxtree) is in 10th spot. New fiction titles from Australian authors have also made an impact on the charts with Maggie Alderson’s Secret Keeping for Beginners (HarperCollins) and Tricia Stringer’s Heart of the Country (Mira) both reaching the top five highest new entries chart—Books+Publishing (source: Nielsen BookScan, week ending 2 May 2015)

Top stories this week

wbnimage2015may1This week’s top stories from the Weekly Book Newsletter include:

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Bestsellers this week

the liar robertsNora Roberts’ latest novel The Liar (Hachette) is the highest new entry and at the top of this week’s bestsellers chart, with last week’s number one The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins, Doubleday) in second place and Going Paleo (Pete Evans & Nora T Gedgaudas, Plum) in third. Also in the highest new entries chart is a new charity book from J K Rowling, Very Good Lives (Hachette), which collects her 2008 Harvard commencement speech in hardback format. This week’s fastest mover is the adult colouring book Secret Garden (Johanna Basford, Laurence King Publishing), which has climbed to fifth spot in this week’s top 10—Books+Publishing (source: Nielsen BookScan, week ending 18 April 2015)

The Strays (Emily Bitto, Affirm Press)

straysFollowing Emily Bitto’s shortlisting for the 2013 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, The Strays became one of the most highly anticipated debuts of 2014—and it certainly lives up to the hype. It tells the story of Lily, a young girl wooed by a progressive group of artists living in 1930s Melbourne, in what was then a very conservative city. Together, their days are spent making and debating art, their nights a blur of parties and dangerous liaisons. It is only when Lily looks back as an adult that she can acknowledge the childish antics that tore apart their idyllic existence, and better understand the complex artists who changed her life irrevocably. You could lift out any sentence in The Strays and admire the sheer artistry of its melody and composition. What’s especially wonderful about Bitto’s literary novel is that the story never feels weighed down by the style. It’s an immensely pleasurable read that covers a wide canvas: art history, modernism, a young girl’s coming of age. It’s clear that Bitto is a hugely talented writer and destined for a promising career.

Emily Laidlaw is the online editor at Kill Your Darlings. The Strays is the winner of the 2015 Stella Prize for women’s writing. This review first appeared in the Books+Publishing magazine Issue 1, 2014. View more pre-publication reviews here.

Motherhood & Creativity: The Divided Heart (ed by Rachel Power, Affirm Press)

motherhood and creativityIn 2008, Melbourne-based freelance writer and editor Rachel Power released The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood, a collection of interviews with Australian artists, writers and actors juggling the competing demands of raising children and pursuing a career. Despite its impressive list of interviewees, including Rachel Griffiths, Nikki Gemmell and Alice Garner, the book fell out of print. Affirm Press has given Power’s anthology a second life with a new foreword, nine new interviews and a selection of interviews from the first edition. As its new title suggests, the book is heavily slanted towards the arts, and is therefore likely to be appreciated best by mothers who work for, or have a particular interest in, the creative industries. Its format will be a welcome relief for time-poor mothers: Power’s bite-size interviews are easy to dip in and out of, and she captures nicely the intimate, conversational tone of her interlocutors. Those interviewed in the book frequently express their frustration with society’s undervaluation of women’s labour at home and in the studio and offer helpful advice in dealing with this. With Monica Dux’s essay collection on motherhood Mothermorphosis also released in April, Power’s rebooted anthology is another important reminder that women’s work matters.

Emily Laidlaw is a freelance writer and editor. This review first appeared in the Books+Publishing magazine Issue 1, 2015. View more pre-publication reviews here.

Top stories this week

wbnimage2015apr10This week’s top stories from the Weekly Book Newsletter include:

For details on these stories and many more, subscribe to www.booksandpublishing.com.au.

Bestsellers this week

NYPD Red 3This week’s bestsellers chart mixes the old and new with Going Paleo (Pete Evans & Nora T Gedgaudas, Plum) in the top spot for a second consecutive week, ahead of a slate of new fiction releases. This week’s four highest new entries—NYPD Red 3 (James Patterson, Century), Leap of Faith (Fiona McCallum, Mira), The Stranger (Harlan Coben, Hachette) and The Last Dance (Fiona McIntosh, Michael Joseph)—all debuted in the top 10, while the fifth highest new entry, Emerald Springs (Fleur McDonald, Arena), debuted in the top 20. Easter-themed children’s books remain popular with Peppa Pig: Peppa’s Easter Egg Hunt (Ladybird) and If I Were the Easter Bunny (Louise Gardner, HarperCollins) in first and third spot respectively on the fastest movers chart. Also in the fastest movers chart is Johanna Basford’s colouring book for adults, Secret Garden (Laurence King Publishing)—Books+Publishing (source: Nielsen BookScan, week ending 28 March 2015)

Top stories this week

wbnimage2015apr2This week’s top stories from the Weekly Book Newsletter include:

For details on these stories and many more, subscribe to www.booksandpublishing.com.au.