21 December 2012

Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!



Today is our* last day in the office for the year.
 
As of tomorrow we will be lounging about, or cooking, or shopping, or reading, or swimming, or cleaning, or panicking, or picnicking - and generally BEING ON HOLIDAYS.
 
Thank you all so much for reading and commenting and being part of our community in 2012. We've had a lovely time.
 
Here's a little wrap-up of our year in the form of...
 
Things Overheard in the House of Onion**
 
'It's bad, but it's not bad. It's just normal bad.'

'Did you get my email? The email offering you money? For your new book?'

'You're an excellent, excellent person.'

'I don't care. I mean, it's not that I don't care, but I actually don't care.' 
'If necessary, we'll Photoshop some clothing over that.'

'I just need to remember sometimes that I'm not a machine.'

'I'm scared that when I get to his house I'll just kiss him.'

'There's no rest for the extremely bad.'

'Staying calm. Staying perfectly calm.'

'I'll just do this. You just sit there staring into space.'

'I'll just sit cheek-by-jowl with you. Which is your cheek and which is your jowl?' > 'It's hard to tell, they're both the same.'
'Let's do it your way, not the way I would prefer to do it.'

'Good morning!' > 'Yeah, I said that to you when I walked in an hour ago.'

'Do you think this is deliberate?' 
 'THANK YOU! You are a lady among ladies.'
'Is that someone's lunch burning?'

'I had never heard of that Gosling person before you sent me all those blog things.'

'The dogs have doodles. Do we de-doodle them?'

'Why do you people have to keep publishing books?'

'If you hear my mobile ringing, it's just telling me where my bag is.' 
'That editorial report. I have finished it. FINISHED. Now I am paralysed and I can't press send.'

'Resonate on the frequency where serenity resides.' 
'Why on earth are you still working? Stop it immediately. It's wine time!'

 
 

 
 
 
* And by 'our' we mean the two or three suckers still left.
** As recorded by a sneaky scribe throughout the year.


19 December 2012

A Very Onion Christmas - Items of Beauty


So, how's that Christmas shopping going then? Everything purchased and wrapped and sitting pretty under the tree? If so, we salute you and your Christmas miracle.

If not, DON'T PANIC! There's still time. Plenty. Of. Time.*

And if, perchance, you need an item of beauty, an item that will bring delight to all who unwrap it, an item that will appeal to young and to old, then we have the items for you.


The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde, illustrated by Ritva Voutila



32 pages of beauty. This classic tale of forgiveness, of how a young boy melts the Giant's heart is one of Oscar Wilde's most beloved children's stories. And Ritva Voutila's sumptuous illustrations are simply stunning. Slip over here for a sneak peek. See. Stunning.

----------

Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle 


Nobody knows where they come from.
But they come.
Impossible birds of the big sky
and the long night...

128 pages of beauty. Tohby's amazing artwork reveals a timeless and industrious world. A world where everything is strange, yet familiar. A world in which people in need are cared for, calmly, quietly, selflessly. A world that has difficult times. A world in which everyone can be watched over, warmed and mended. Herewith a taste:




* Okay, perhaps we are overstating in an effort to keep ourselves calm. Perhaps when we say, 'Plenty. Of. Time.' we mean, 'Get. Thee. To. An. Emporium. And. Buy. All. The. Items.'

12 December 2012

The Last Cakes of the Year


It's been a bumper year for cakes. It would be tough to pick a favourite, especially as these three just slid under the wire and into contention:


Christmas Trifle by SB




Ruby Grapefruit and Choc-chip Almond Cake by SF



and


Crack Pie by the Cake-maker Virtuoso


When we recover from our sugar coma we will be posting one last Christmas gift list - Outside the Box books - and then after that there will probably just be increasing silliness because the holidays are so close we can taste them. And they taste sweeeet.**


* 'Say it ain't so, Joe!'
'Sorry, kid. I'm afraid it is.'
**Or maybe that's just the second helping of Crack Pie...

11 December 2012

A Very Onion Christmas - Young Adult


Young adult, old adult, whatever - no one is ever too old for the Muppets!



Anyway, on to the subject at hand...


Spark by Brigid Kemmerer 



The Elementals series: Hot. Hot. Hot.
Four elements: EARTH. FIRE. AIR. WATER.
Four Merrick brothers: Chris. Gabriel. Nick. Michael.

Spark is the second book in the series that started with Storm. This time the spotlight is shining on Gabriel. The reckless twin. And he plays with flames. Literally. And because fire is his element, he can't get burnt. But other people can. So what happens when practice flames erupt into real fires; fires too powerful for him to control? Trouble. That's what happens.

And then there's trouble at school too. Maths trouble. Enter Layne. Maths whiz. Mysterious past. Good sister. Definitely the kind of nice girl who should keep away from a bad boy...

Who for? Teenagers who will devour a book sizzling with action, mystery, elemental powers and hot romance. Perfect for diving into after the last present is unwrapped.

----------



Location: Elly Pickering's high school - the film set for a new teen flick starring teen heart throb, Jake Blake. (And Elly's mum is doing the PR.)

Elly's Mission: Get on the set, secure a spot as an extra, get close to her Hollywood crush.

Reality check: Elly is not a glamorous extra or a fascinating and helpful assistant. She's stuck in the unairconditioned catering van in the middle of summer - wearing a hairnet - making coleslaw and coffees for the cast and crew. Nothing else could possibly go wrong, could it?

Who for: Girls aged 12 or more, who would enjoy a bright and bubbly novel about best friends, bad friends, bad decisions, boyfriends, not-so-secret Hollywood crushes, and surviving it all with one's dignity (mostly) intact.

----------

The Diviners by Libba Bray 


DO NOT READ  The Diviners at night when you're home alone. Do not do it.
DO READ IT at all other times. Compulsively.

It had me at: 'Cassandra Clare meets Phryne Fisher meets Patricia Cornwell.' And it kept me with the speakeasies, the jazz clubs, the occult scarefest, and the terrific cast of characters.

Who for: teenagers who love a spooky mystery with a hot cast and a glimpse of Jazz Age New York. Adults who like same. And for anyone who wants to pick up good line in 1920s slang, it's po-si-tute-ly the cat's miaow.
---------- 


The Voyage of the Unquiet Ice (Ship Kings Book 2) by Andrew McGahan 


Dow finally has his heart's desire - he is aboard the Chloe, leaving behind the strictures of New Island and his old life, and making for waters unknown. But he is sailing not only into the dangers of the frozen north, but into the treacherous waters of Ship Kings politics, where ruthlessness and betrayal rule the day. Andrew McGahan's writing is sublime - and this book is chock-full of high adventure: sea monsters, rivalries, dangerous icebergs, and a desperate search for the missing heir to the throne. Oh, and also some EXCELLENT URST, for those of you who like that kind of thing.*

Who for: people who love Patrick O'Brian, or the Hornblower books, or Poe's mysterious tales, or Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series.

---------- 

The Convent by Maureen McCarthy 



This is a very special book, especially if you live in Melbourne. Set in and around the Abbotsford Convent and encompassing three generations of women, The Convent is Maureen McCarthy at her brilliant best - a big warm, messy family story with heartache, heartbreak and heart-ease by the bucketload. It's also an interesting, moving, intensely real view of the changing lives of women over the decades, and a reminder of how the choices we make, and the choices that are made for us, reverberate down the generations.

Who for: anyone - teens and adults - with a heart and soul, and anyone who's always had an ounce of curiosity about what went on behind the high walls of the Abbotsford Convent.




 *Which is clearly everyone.





07 December 2012

A Very Onion Christmas - younger readers

Did we mention the Christmas season is upon us? Did we mention Melbournians are sweltering one minute and freezing the next? Oh, yes. We did. Well, let us reiterate.

Christmas. It us upon us.
Melbourne. It was 11 degrees on Monday morning and it is going to 37 degrees tomorrow.

Yes. it will be HOT! However, one sure way to beat the heat is to loiter in the air-conditioned comfort of your nearest book-selling emporium...


LOLS: best jokes for kids by June Factor, illustrated by Mic Looby



How do you catch a rabbit?
You hide behind a tree and make a noise like a carrot.

A Christmas stocking without a jokebook is like ship without a sail, a boat without a rudder, or a fish without a tail. A Christmas stocking without a jokebook is like a wreck upon the sand, there's only one thing worse in the universe and that's a... nope. There is nothing worse. Unless perhaps it's the jokes themselves. You will  laugh, you will groan, you will eyeroll, you will splutter, you will choke and you will guffaw out loud. Don't let the giggling stop with the Christmas cracker jokes when there can be days and days of pun-filled goodness from the Far Out, Brussel Sprout lady herself, June Factor.

Who for: 5-7 year-olds. And pun-lovers everywhere.

---------

Figaro & Rumba and the Crocodile Café
by Anna Fienberg & Stephen Michael King 


Introducing: Figaro - an irrepressible dog who runs like the wind.
Introducing: Rumba - a cat from Cuba who loves to sing and dance.

Figaro and Rumba plan to ride the Very Fast Train - that goes like a speeding bullet - all the way to the beach.
'Figaro took one look at the water and rolled down the carpet of sand until he fell WHOOSHUFF! into the brilliant blue. He swam and dived and barked with excitement, chasing waves and cloud-shadows, until he was so tired that even his tail stopped wagging.'
It sounds like paradise, but should they trust their new friend the crocodile with a perfect set of teeth and a voice that's sugary and sweet?

Cool cats. A delightful dog. Gorgeous illustrations. Hilarious adventures. Highly entertaining. So much to love!

Who for: a beautiful hardback edition for 5-8 year old boys and girls who love to laugh and are ready for the thrill of reading alone. And for those who love being read to. Perfect beach holiday reading.

--------




Martha Grimstone is back in a new adventure! Martha has inherited her father's gift for music. She  can play notes that will bring sunshine, breezes and rain, but not even Marthca can turn back the approaching storm... With beautiful illustrations, quirky characters and full-colour gorgeousness, all of the Grimstones books would make excellent gifts.

Who for: 8-12 year-olds with a bit of whimsy, a bit of magic , and a bit of creativity in their souls.

--------

The Adventures of Scarygirl by Nathan Jurevicious 


A dazzling mystery adventure in glorious colour, featuring the lovable, weird and excellent Scarygirl, who is on a quest to find out who she is, where she came from and who her real friends are ...

This book is so many awesome things in one: it's a hair-raising adventure, it's funny, it's a stunningly beautiful passport into a whole new world.

Who for: 8-12 year olds, particularly those who love graphic novels, comics and cracking good stories.

--------



Everybody wants this kind of reaction from their children on Christmas morning. So literally everyone should be giving Path of Beasts. The BRILLIANT conclusion to the Keepers series, Path of Beasts is gonna serve you up everything a keen Keepers fan is longing for - resolution, retribution, renewal, Goldie, Toadspit, Bonnie, Broo, the Cat, the evil Fugleman, and more and more! And if you or your younger people haven't read the Keepers, you can start from the beginning!

Who for: 9-13 year-olds who love derring do, capture and escape, using their brains and their brawn, and being independent but not afraid to rely on their friends and family. And all those adults who sneakily read books 1 and 2 and are DYING to find out what happens.


06 December 2012

Adieu, Marie!


We interrupt our Very Onion Christmas recommendations to say a sad and fond farewell to the lovely Marie!




Marie has been our intern for the last five months. We've loved having her around the office. But today is her last day. 

Her opinion, her insights, her proofreading skills* and her delicious accent will be much missed when she flies back to France. So we expressed our love in the best way we know - cooking!

Et voilà - an Aussie feast for French Marie!



It looked and smelled and tasted like the 60s, the 70s, the 80s. O the nostalgia. O the excess of sugar.


Le menu

party pies and sausage rolls,
asparagus rolls (white bread, crusts cut off)
chocolate crackles and honey joys,
Vegemite-and-cream-cheese sandwiches,
vanilla slice (AKA snot blocks),
French onion dip,
lamingtons,
kabana and cheese,
Tim Tams, Twisties, Wagon Wheels
and, best of all, A PAV!

Très sophistiqué, non?

Thanks so much for everything, Marie! Have a safe trip home and a very happy Christmas!

Lots of love,

All the Onions xxx


*In a second language, no less! Amaze!

05 December 2012

A Very Onion Christmas - picture books

The Christmas season is upon us. People are decorating and partying and watching the cricket.  In Melbourne, people are sweltering one minute and freezing the next - as is traditional.

The Christmas season is also a time that raises questions for people.

Where is Orientar?
Why are Jeff's nuts roasting on an open fire?
Who are these married gentlemen who need to get dressed?
What do slave elves in the snow actually sound like?
(Confused?)

And what gifts am I going to give to the littlest people in my life?

Well - we got you covered on that last one. The finest gifts we bring, parumpapumpum!

and
Noni the Pony board books by Alison Lester


Can you run like a rabbit?
Can you jump like a frog?
Or laze like a lizard stretched out on a log?

Two gorgeous new board books from the best-beloved Alison Lester.
And everyone's favourite pony, Noni, is now in board-book form.

Who for: The very littlest stocking-carrying people you know - the ones who still list chewing as a primary method of book consumption.
----------

Dinosauritis by Jeanette Rowe  


'Styracosauraus!'
Gesundheit.
Oh wait, Darwin doesn't have  the flu - he has Dinosauritis!
With Dino jokes to tell, flaps to be flipped, games to be played and Darwin's story to be read - Dinosauritis is bigger than a T-Rex, funnier than a Muttaburrasaurus* and livelier than a paleontologist.**

Who for? 3-5 year-olds who dig dinos and love activity books.

----------

Ruby Learns to Swim by Phillip Gwynne & Tamsin Ainslie 


Splash the water       Blow big bubbles
Splash the water       Blow big bubbles
     Learn to swim!  Learn to swim!

Join gorgeous little Ruby as she learns all the essentials that take her from the opening page where she sits splishing and splashing her feet in the pool, to the triumph of the final spread - where she's swimming fast! A beautiful, bright and bubbly, chant-out-loud picture book that will encourage even the most reluctant child to discover the joy of swimming.


Who for: every 2- 5 year old boy and girl who lives near a pool or near the ocean or near a river or near a waterhole or near a dam or near a water channel or near a lake, or on an island.

----------

Mouse Mansion: Sam and Julia by Karina Schaapman 




IF THIS BOOK HAD EXISTED [an undisclosed number of] YEARS AGO, AT LEAST ONE ONION WOULD HAVE SLEPT WITH IT UNDER HER PILLOW!
This is the story of Sam and Julia and the amazing house they live - that they ACTUALLY live in! If you go to the Amsterdam Library, like one Onion did,*** you can see the REAL HOUSE. The book is beautiful and intricate and full of the kind of detail that will occupy a mediumly small person for many happy hours.

Who for: 4-8 year old boys and girls who love to spend hours pouring over intricate illustrations, or who are obsessed with minatures and dollhouses.

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The Moon Shines out of the Dark  by Stephanie Dowrick & Anne Spudvilas


A tender and heart-warming story of a sensitive boy missing his mother, and drawing strength from the moon in his quest to wait out the cold night for her return - touching and truthful, and gloriously illustrated by Anne Spudvilas.

Who for: 4-8 year olds - perfect bedtime reading.

----------

On the Farm another brilliant holiday picture book by Roland Harvey.


Mum, Dad, Henry, Penny and Frankie are off on another fabulous adventure. In past years they have been to the Beach, the Bush , the City , the Top End  and All the Way to W.A. This year they are holidaying on the farm, and not any old farm. They are holidaying on Uncle Kev's farm.**** And there are cows and pigs and sheep and horses and alpacas and ducks and dogs and geese and peacocks and all manner of lovely fresh produce, impressive hay sculptures, a kitchen gymnasium, a harvest festival and PLENTY of work to do. As ever, Roland's illustrations are delightful, alive with humor and spiced with fun - and highly entertaining chaos.

Who for: 6-10 year old boys and girls (and the young at heart) who are curious about the world, love to laugh and find endless delight in detailed illustrations.




* Well known to have been the jokester of the Cretaceous.
** What do you mean, 'How hard would that be?' On behalf of paleontologists everywhere, we object.
*** According to EJ, the Amsterdam Library is the coolest place in the entire world and everyone must go there - it even has furry walls!
**** Anyone who has actually ever 'holidayed' on a farm will know that when we say holiday here, we mean...work very hard from dusk until dawn - and if you are very, very lucky, find a little time (after a very big lunch of excellent farm produce) to sneak away and hide under the shady leaves of the apple tree to nap.

03 December 2012

It was meant to be...

Penni Russon and Kate Constable. 
 
 
Before they knew each other, they each wrote a book about a boy named Trout.
 
After they knew each other they wrote a book together.
 
And last Friday, they flew up to Sydney together to go to the NSW Premier's Literary Awards  ceremony, because they each had a book nominated, in separate categories.
 
The odds weren't good for the running double - but some things are just meant to be...
 
 
WINNER: Patricia Wrightson Prize
 

 
JUDGES' COMMENTS
It seems that war friends form lifetime bonds, except when class and/or race enter the equation. Such is the basis for this compelling story set in a small Australian country town. Manslaughter, cultural secrets and unrequited love give rise to the tensions and ill-feelings that linger into the second generation. When Sadie unwillingly moves with her mother to the little town of Boort, the thirteen-year-old finds herself in conversation with a crow who embroils her in a mystery from her family's past. When she time-slips into the body of her namesake of two generations ago she is caught up in a class-race conflict. Constable has cleverly let Sadie participate in her past history without changing it, which allows her to be the keeper of an enormous and troubling secret in her own time. Constable's characters are beautifully rounded and real, from the family in the past to old Auntie Lily, an Aboriginal elder.

This is a multi-layered story, beautifully told, with themes interwoven through three generations; the prejudices and mores of the 1970s persist into the twenty-first century with black-white friendships frowned upon in both parents and children. The Indigenous connection to the land is a major theme, with a sacred circle of stones being exposed when drought causes the dam water to recede and the old town to be revealed. As in life, sport becomes the common bond as truths win out and secrets are fought for and kept. At the start of each chapter a small black crow sits on the black number while the cover illustration signals the stark ravages of drought with a large crow demanding attention as it does throughout the book.
 
Scoot over here to read the judges Comments on all the titles short-listed in the Patricia Wrightson Prize. 
 
 
WINNER: Ethel Turner Prize
 

JUDGES' COMMENTS
Only Ever Always is a magnificent psychological puzzle that uses complex shifting points of view and a dreamscape of alternate realities. Moving between a crumbling dystopian cityscape and the recognisable realism of a suburban home in our own world, this complex and challenging narrative employs the doubles motif, contrasting Claire's grief with Clara's struggle to survive. These parallel realities dwell on the border of dreaming and awakening and are linked by an object of definition, the music box. Only Ever Always interrogates the relationship between self and material objects and explores the question: 'Do we create our environment or does our environment create us?'
Only Ever Always is a philosophical enquiry into how we make sense of ourselves and our own values. What matters? How do we define ourselves? It challenges the reader to ponder what is real - the dream or the dreamer? Who occupies the space between the real and the imagined?
 
Slip over here to read the judges comments on all the titles short-listed for the Ethel Turner Prize.
 
--------------------------------------
 
Huge congratulations, Penni and Kate!
 
Thank you for being such inspiring writers and such fabulous women to work with - separately and together!
 
 
Congratulations also to the other winners , and to everyone who was shortlisted

29 November 2012

Another Birthday! MOAR cake!


So. From early this morning our hatches have been battened against the extreme heat. Which is GOOD NEWS because...

Because... well let us turn to our good friends at the McCoy Building School of Earth Sciences to illustrate our point.


So. Yes. It's HOT. That high temp is 38.3 degrees. And despite the battening, we are perhaps a little wilted. But happily for us there is another Onion birthday in the (hot) House today. And another birthday means: MOAR CAKE!

And what a cake it was. Perfect for a child of the 1970s.

Presenting the CHOCOLATE RIPPLE CAKE OF GLORY! 


Complete with the added deliciousness of butternut snaps



Oh so stripy. Like a tiger.* In the House.**

And kiwi fruit! So green. So cool and crisp and refreshing. So many wonderful items for the eating.

So here's cheers to EM for most excellent cake-making - and a thousand hip hip hoorays for SC - the birthday Onion.






* Trust us. It was beautifully stripy. In our eagerness to eat, we may not have paused long enough to take a photo that actually showcased its perfect stripes.
** Which is far less alarming than a (Bengal) tiger in a small boat. 

27 November 2012

Happy Birthday, SF!

There was love all around
But I never heard it singing
No I never heard it at all
Till there was cake



We can't claim credit for making this beautiful flourless orange and almond creation.*

But we can claim credit for eating it.

It is helping us recover from the cold November rain** that drenched basically all parts of everyone this morning.

And it is giving us fuel for writing our Very Onion Christmas gift guide. So stay tuned; that's coming up.***



* Thank you, Babka.
** Go on, you know you want to. All nine minutes of it.
*** But not until December; nothing Christmassy happens until December. It's the law.

19 November 2012

Breaking the drought

 
There's been a distinct amount of no-cake in the House of Onion lately.
 
There's has been a dearth, a deficit, a deficiency of cake.
 
It's true that the Tall Designer made excellent steamed pork buns, which helped keep the editors from revolt, but still there has been a shortfall, a scarcity, a wantage of cake.
 
To sum up, the cake around here has been scanty.
 
Bring on November. Three birthdays in two weeks. A glut! An abundance! A nimiety!
 
We begin with a Queen of Sheba chocolate cake from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, via Our Favourite Alien.
 
 
 
 

 
 
Oh cake, never leave again!
 
 

09 November 2012

The very first time

Readings children's & YA book specialist, Emily Gale has written an interesting post about the rise of New Adult as a genre - and the reasons they have devoted a new shelf to it in the store.

Herewith their New Adult titles. We are much enamoured of their selection, and would be EXTREMELY interested to hear what other novels you would select to be on your New Adult shelf.

And it set me to thinking about what I was reading as a 19-year-old and as a 20-something. It was such a wonderful time for discovery - of the world, of new friends, of books, of possibility... I read so many, many books. Explored so much of the world through them, discovered so much of myself in their pages. I filled up my bookshelves (made of bricks and planks of wood) with books that I read for the very first time.

It was during these years that I first read Kate Grenville's Lilian's Story, an experience that stayed with me.

And I read The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender by Marele Day, which changed my life, but that is a story for another day, except to say it led me to read every book of crime fiction by women that I could find.* And every book of contemporary Australian fiction by women that I could lay my hands on.**

And I read The Women's Room, The Golden Notebook, The Bone People, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Children's Bach, A Room of One's Own and The Princess Bride - all for the very first time. And I read - all the way to the end for the very first time - Pride & Prejudice, and finally found the joy in it after such long resentful struggles with it in secondary school. And I read the Narnia books for the very first time, and To Kill A Mockingbird for the very first time, and The Catcher in the Rye for the only time. And I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas while I posed (for hours) for this photo taken by an RMIT photography student.



And I wilfully refused to read Hemingway and Bukowski and Kerouac (despite, or perhaps because of, insistent recommendations from my 20-something male friends).***

And, for the very first time, I read John Irving.

I started with The World According to Garp. I was living in Sydney at the time, on my very first great adventure, far far far away from my family and the small farm I'd grown up on, far far from the regional boarding school I'd attended for five years, and far even from the Melbourne Uni residential college where I had lived for a year, surrounded by school friends who had cushioned the brand new experience of university.

I had moved to Sydney on a whim - a decision made at 2 am at my older brother's 21st party: 'Yes,' I said that night 'Yes, I will move to Sydney.' Two weeks later, I hoisted my suitcase onto the luggage rack of the Daylight Express and settled in for the 12-hour train trip to the Emerald City.

In Sydney I felt...untethered...in a good way. I felt very grown up - I had secured my first full-time job, my first lease, my first Vegemite glass collection - for the drinking of cask wine - my first true taste of freedom, from family, from teachers, from homework, from exams, from authority figures, and from everyone who thought they already knew who I was.

The long-distance phonecalls to my best friend in Melbourne were prohibitively expensive, so they were infrequent, and treasured. I would sit on the floor of the hallway, housemates stepping over the long curly cord of the phone on the opposite wall, and my friend and I would exchange as much information as possible as quickly as we could. 'Read John Irving,' she urged. 'Read him.'

So I read The World According to Garp, which I gobbled up - after wading painfully though the first few chapters - and then wept and wept and wept at the end. Which was an epilogue. Who knew an epilogue could actually be so effective? In tears, I rang my friend and we consoled each other about Garp and his family and Ellen James and the Undertoad and EVERYTHING that happened. And then I read The Hotel New Hampshire - and begged Lilly to keep passing the open windows - and I read The Cider House Rules - and sat on the pier with Homer Wells, waiting and seeing, waiting and seeing - and I read A Prayer for Owen Meany - and met, for the very first time, weird little Owen who, despite his CAPITAL LETTERS DIALOGUE, completely won over my heart and mind.

I have read other Irvings in the years since, but these are the four that I read and re-read in my twenties. Like the crime fiction, and the contemporary Australian fiction, and the feminist fiction, something in them spoke to me - and when I read them, I had that peculiar feeling you have when you read something that feels like 'home'.

There is now a generation of readers who will fondly remember reading Harry Potter and Twilight and The Hunger Games as 20-somethings. I wonder what other books they will remember. I wonder what other books will linger, will evoke that thrill of discovery, of finding the books that speak as if directly only to them. I wonder what other books they will recall reading for the very first time.





* I found the books, not the women.
** Similarly, I layed my hands on the books, not the women.
*** Of these, I have still only read Hemingway, and that was under duress - thanks, Chaps.

07 November 2012

Very good news. We have it.


Yes. We have it. We have it in truckloads.

1) In local awards news: The NSW Premier's Literary Awards & NSW Premier's History Awards  Shortlists have been announced. And look. LOOK!

The Patricia Wrightson Prize
Kate Constable, Crow Country 

The Ethel Turner Prize
Ursula Dubosarsky, The Golden Day 
Scot Gardner, The Dead I Know 
Penni Russon, Only Ever Always 

HISTORY AWARDS  Young People's History Prize 
Anh Do and Suzanne Do, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, The Little Refugee 
Nadia Wheatley, illustrated by Ken Searle, Playground

Very good news indeed. Many HURRAHS to Kate, Bill, Ursula, Scot, Penni, Anh, Suzanne, Bruce, Nadia & Ken. Many, many HURRAHS!

And congratulations to everyone on the shortlists.


2) And in UK awards news: The longlist for the CLIP Carnegie Medal has been announced. And look. LOOK!


Such good news. So many HOORAYS for Margo!

3) But wait, there's more. In news from the USA. Libba Bray & Margo Lanagan both have books on the Publishers Weekly Best Books for 2012 list. LOOOOOOOK!
Lanagan brings dark, wonderful depth to the legend of the selkies, creatures whose limitations pale beside the weaknesses of men. While other writers revel in the novelty of supernatural romance, Lanagan exposes the true costs of such arrangements - financial, emotional, and otherwise - in stories that span generations.

The Diviners (aka The Diviners) by Libba Bray
It's generally impossible to know what Bray has up her sleeve - few writers are as daring and varied in their output. One thing's for sure, though: it's always a blast. That definitely describes this electric combination of Jazz Age New York City, the occult and the psychic, and some truly gruesome murders.



Brilliant news! A thousand cheers for Libba & Margo!

05 November 2012

Fictions on the Field V


Is anybody out there? I hope so, because there are not very many people here in the House - which might just be Ideal Editing Conditions.
 
Speaking of conditions, we know that the MOST IMPORTANT contender on Cup Day is not a horse or a jockey or a trainer or a stable hand or a bookie or a punter or Bart's eyebrows or even anyone in the Waterhouse family. The MOST IMPORTANT contender on Cup Day is our long time friend-and-foe: Melbourne Weather.
 
Let us slip on over to BOM to see what it has in store.
 
Min 20    Max 26
 
Cloudy. Patchy rain and isolated thunderstorms clearing during the afternoon.
 
Oh. Dear. Moving right along...
 
In other news, if you fancy a little flutter we are, as ever, here to help.
 
Horses you would bet on in the 2012 Melbourne Cup if it were...
 
The Hunger Games
  • Jakkalberry
 
A Dr Seuss spin-off
  • Green Moon
  • Niwot
 
A US Civil War novel
  • Winchester
  • Cavalryman
  • Americain
 
Three Musketeers fan fiction
  • Mount Athos
 
50 Shades of Grey
  • Zabeelionaire
  • Maluckyday
 
A Patricia Highsmith novel
  • Unusual Suspect
 
A romance series set in Italy in the late 1500s
  • Galileo's Choice
  • Lights of Heaven
  • Fiorente
 
An editor choosing to work on the Monday before Cup Day
  • My Quest For Peace
 
So, racegoers you have been warned. Prepare for a wet track and off-field rain-related incidents. And remember, at the very first sign of rain - hands over champagne glasses. At the very first sign of a puddle - slippery shoes off! And at the very first sign of lightning - umbrellas away! 
 
No doubt it will all be quite a sight...
 
Enjoy all the things.

02 November 2012

'As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.'*


Tomorrow was her birthday. She would be sixteen years old and full grown - and finally able to do whatever she liked. Susan's impatience ignited again. All day it had been growing in her, like an ache. She'd hurried carelessly through her chores - the washing of the sheets and the scrubbing of the floors - until at last, while her mother's back was turned, she'd slipped off without permission before fault could be found, or more work assigned. She'd felt so hot and flushed by then that it was almost as if she was coming down with a fever. That was why she'd come climbing up to the top of East Head on such a bleak and rain-threatened evening. She needed fresh air. And yet it hadn't really helped. The salt wind had cleared her head a little, but there was still a strange and unsettling quiver that pulsed in her limbs...
This is an excerpt from a short story.

An excerpt from a rattling good short story by Andrew McGahan.

A short story by Andrew McGahan that you can read, in it's entirety, entirely for free.

And the title of the short story is...



We'll lay good money that the title alone will send chills down the spine of anyone who has read Ship Kings book 1: The Coming of the Whirlpool. And the story will intrigue and delight everyone else.

Read 'The Blinding of Mother Gale' if you loved The Coming of the Whirlpool.
Read it if you've never heard of The Coming of the Whirlpool.
Read it if you're a fan of Andrew McGahan, or a fan of short stories, or you're casting about for something to transport you from your Friday afternoon.

But do read it, because it's wonderful and intense and heartbreaking and fierce.

The Ship Kings website  is full of other exciting bits and pieces, too, like Andrew's Author's Log , and a sneak preview of the gorgeous maps from Ship Kings Book 2: The Voyage of the Unquiet Ice.

And you know where else you can get a look at those maps? IN THE BOOK! Which is in shops TODAY! 





Look at it! Is it not beautiful beyond measure? And inside?

Well... inside...

  • What happens after the Chloe sails out of the Claw, taking Dow far from everything he has ever known?
  • What secrets will Dow discover at the top of the world, in the realms of the Unquiet Ice?
  • How will he deal in the treacherous world of the Ship Kings?
  • And what of Nell, the strange and magnetic scapegoat girl?  Will fate bring her and Dow together or pull them apart?

Oh good lord - it's just so good. READ ALL THE THINGS. READ THEM NOW.

And then have a lovely Melbourne Cup weekend.** 





* -- Seneca
** If you're in Melbourne, that is. If you're not in Melbourne, well, sorry about that; carry on as best you can.



19 October 2012

Friday stuff and items


1) The dictionary definition of 'misogyny'

We Onions love dictionaries. Love them, cherish them, use them daily*, rail against them, defy them and play them off against each other. So it was hugely interesting to watch this week as a dictionary updated itself in the public eye. Prompted, in part, by Prime Minister Gillard's rousing speech in parliament,** the Macquarie dictionary this week announced they were broadening their definition of 'misogyny'

This, in turn, roused some *ahem* interest in certain quarters of the media

To which the editor of the Macquarie responded. Sue Butler's explanation of the process by which the Macquarie definition of 'misogyny' came to be expanded is a completely fascinating glimpse into how dictionaries are made.

We know** editors have a reputation for being pedants, sticklers for 'correct' spelling, grammar and punctuation. But really, in some ways, the reverse is true. To be a good editor you have to embrace the knowledge that language - words and how we use them - is living, breathing and constantly evolving. The question we ask of writers and writing is less often 'Is this correct?', and more often 'Does this work?'

The discussion of 'misogyny' is a good reminder that, counter to what The Australian seems to believe, language doesn't exist in a 'pure' vacuum - it is inescapably political, social and cultural. It's affected by power and privilege, by rebellion and revolt, by high culture and pop culture, by science and technology, and humour, and the internetz, and life. It is invented and reinvented, rejected and reclaimed, forgotten and revived and reinvigorated. What a glorious thing! To the dictionaries!


2) The dictionary definition of AWESOME.



Friends, behold! A cake in the shape of Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory

Peter Smith and Bob Graham launched the book yesterday at Abbey's Bookshop in Sydney with the help of this amazing cake. 

And this equally amazing window display. 


Ride well, Monsieur Albert. Or if you cannot, have a bottle of wine, a baguette, a little rest, and hope for the best!




* Hourly, really.
** Go on. You know you want to watch it again.
*** WE know this because our friends, family and the internet make jokes about this all the time.

18 October 2012

For the winning


All the way back in March, we were very excited about the advances for Storm, Book 1 in the Elementals series by Brigid Kemmerer.

Now winter is safely behind us (we hope) and spring is sprung (mostly), and the super-hot second book in the series, Spark, is already out in the stores. HOORAY!

And look! LOOK! You can win an Elementals book pack. Yes indeedy.

Storm. Spark. For the winning.


For the hotness.


But WAIT. There's more! A BIKE. Yes. That's right. A BIKE!

To celebrate the fabulous picture book, Monsieur Albert Rides to Glory by Peter Smith and Bob Graham - a bike. For the winning.*

     
For the glory.




* Just in time for National Ride2Work Day 2012. Oops, no. That was yesterday. Our mistake. Maybe next year...
 
 
 

12 October 2012

Friday stuff and items



1) Fictitious Dishes.  'The photographs in this series enter the lives of five fictional characters and depict meals from the novels The Catcher in the Rye, Oliver Twist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Moby Dick.' Awesome.

2) Little House on the Prairie as Tea Party manifesto?  A fabulous read - particularly for devotees of Laura Ingalls Wilder.*

3) That Lili Wilkinson's is a busy bee. Quite recently she 'done got married' ** , for the month of October she is the guest blogger over at ibrary, and next week she will be at the Fitzroy Library having lively and entertaining discussions about all things Obernewtyn, Little Fur, Metro Winds  and more, with the ever impressive Isobelle Carmody. Excellent items all round.

4) And in further most-excellent-items news... Maureen McCarthy's fabulous new novel The Convent  is out in the world now - after a big, wonderful, moving launch at the Abbotsford Convent last week. Lookee look at the booktrailer!





* And Pa! We know there are some Pa fanciers among our readers.
** Awwww. Congratulations Lili & Michael!

10 October 2012

The reason we do what we do





*sniff*
*smile*


Path of Beasts - the final book in Lian Tanner's brilliant, gripping, moving, all-round-awesome-in-every-way Keepers trilogy  - is out this month.

And oh lordy, what an ending.*





*expect tears, and joy, and probably some snot, and sighs of satisfaction, and the desire to dive in and read the whole series again from the very beginning.

05 October 2012

Friday stuff and items


 1) It's spring in Melbourne. We can tell by how it was 30 degrees and windy yesterday, followed by an impressively dramatic temperature drop, which made it rawther chilly overnight.*

via our helpful friends at the School of Earth Sciences 

But the most telling piece of evidence is how everyone is swearing at the plane-tree fluff.

Also, in other Melbourne spring news: don't forget that DAYLIGHT SAVING starts this weekend. HOORAY! BOOOOO! **


This has been a public service announcement.
  
2) This Twilight: Breaking Dawn part 2 poster - it's just really really funny somehow.

3) It's Friday. What would you like to be doing best? Going on a 'sonic journey' as our colleague  Jarvis Cocker reads a passage from Heart of Darkness accompanied by cellist Philip Sheppard? Thought so.

4) For $395,000 you can buy Ingleside. INGLESIDE! Surely we need a Canadian office, don't we Mothership? We promise to leave at least one Onion  to run the Melbourne office. We were always a bit suss on her anyway.



* Don't pack away these winter doonas just yet, people. You don't want to freeze in the fickle Melbourne spring.
** The onset of Daylight Savings is guaranteed to ever and always divide the night-owls from early-birds.

18 September 2012

Tuesday triumphs


Here in the House of Onion, we are bunkered down, doing ALL THE THINGS, making ALL THE BOOKS,* meeting ALL THE DEADLINES.**

We have barely had time to down tools and peer above the parapet.

But, lo, thanks to the magic of the internets, good news has helpfully made itself known to us - and good news is for sharing.

So, without further adieu, we give you this very good news.

The winner of the Western Australian Premier's Book Award for Young Adult Fiction is Penni Russon  for Only Ever Always.


Colour us highly delighted. Congratulations, Penni. 
 So many HURRAHS!

Herewith the Judges Report:
Mysterious, complex and challenging, Only Ever Always is a beautifully written story of parallel lives where Claire in the now, and Clara in a dystopian, timeless world, each face similar difficulties. Is one the dreamer, the other the dream, and if so, which? Changing voices, points of view and place make this a very satisfying novel for a reader willing to give it the close attention it deserves.
And slip on over here for the Judges Reports on all the shortlisted and winning titles.

Bravo! to all the winners, and to all the authors shortlisted. Bravo!




* When we say ALL THE BOOKS, we might actually be exaggerating somewhat. We are confident that there are other publishing people out there who are also busily making ALL THE BOOKS. So. Many. Books.
** When we say ALL THE DEADLINES, me might actually mean, ahem, most of the deadlines...

05 September 2012

Wednesday winnings


The days are slipping by at breakneck speed. At this rate it will be Christmas before we know it. Gulp.

It seems like only yesterday that we were celebrating the new Premier-free Queensland Literary Awards and cheering for our shortlisted books - and now the winners have been announced! And we have HOORAYS for Neil Grant's The Ink Bridge which has won the Young Adult book Award.




You can see all the short-listed authors and the winners here and a round-up of the inaugural awards event here.

The Ink Bridge is a fabulous, and timely, book about two courageous boys - a grieving Melbourne boy and a young Afghan asylum seeker from Bamiyan. We really can't recommend it highly enough. If you haven't read it, here's a little taster trailer where Neil answers questions about The Ink Bridge - and about his research trip to Afghanistan - and over here is his blog about his trip.




To Neil. Big HOORAYS. Huge.

21 August 2012

The premiere of the Queensland Literary Awards


One thousand cheers for the Queensland Literary Awards which were established earlier this year - after the Queensland Premier's Awards were cancelled...

These brand new awards have a clear mission. 

Mission
1. To raise the profile of Queensland writing and writers nationally and internationally.
2. To reward and recognise excellence in Australian writing, particularly Queensland writing.
3. To support the development of Australian writing, particularly Australian writing within Queensland.
4. To facilitate the  production and publication of works by emerging and established Australian writers, particularly Queensland writers.
5. To encourage public debate in Queensland and contribute to the public life of the state.
6. To encourage reading in Queensland, particularly among young people.

Big HOORAYS. Huge!

And the most excellent news is that the shortlists for the inaugural awards have been announced. And there is once again happy-dancing in the House!

Shortlisted for the Children's Book Award

Ten Blue Wrens by Elizabeth Honey



Shortlisted for Young Adult Book Award

The Ink Bridge by Neil Grant 

Three Summers by Judith Clarke 

Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan


Congratulations to all the authors on the shortlists
Oh, happy, happy day!

20 August 2012

Monday stuff and items


1) Don't you wish you were at the Edinburgh International Book Festival to hear Garth Nix give a sneak preview of Clariel, the prequel to the Old Kingdom trilogy which we will be publishing NEXT YEAR! Hurry up, next year!*

Also appearing at this fine festival is the marvellous Margo Lanagan and the splendid Shaun Tan. Where, oh, where is our portal to the other side of the world when we need it!


2) The Kill Your Darlings YA Challenge has been FABULOUS. Smart people championing their favourite YA novels: what's not to love? Here's Lili Wilkinson talking about Obernewtyn.
And Holly Harper on Sabriel and Andrew McDonald on Space Demons. 


3) CELEBRATION OF A NATION**

We are sending out huge congratulations and much love to Scot Gardner and Kate Constable because... 

The Dead I Know 
WINNER OF THE CBCA BOOK OF THE YEAR: OLDER READERS



Crow Country 
WINNER OF THE CBCA BOOK OF THE YEAR: YOUNGER READERS 


Two brilliant books and two wonderful authors. We couldn't be more proud to be their publishers.

But wait, there's more!

A Straight Line to My Heart by Bill Condon (Older Readers)
That's Not a Daffodil! by Elizabeth Honey (Early Childhood)
The Dream of the Thylacine by Ron Brooks & Margaret Wild (Picture Book)
The Little Refugee by Anh Do, Suzanne Do & Bruce Whatley (Eve Pownall)



Hearty congratulations to Bill, Elizabeth, Ron, Margaret, Anh, Suzanne & Bruce. HURRAH!




*Although, in another, very real way, please don't hurry up, next year. How is it already late August? So many books to make!