Tag Archives: books

Events I Managed to See at Sydney Writers’ Festival 2018

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Here’s what I saw and learned at Sydney Writers’ Festival this year. A quick run through of all my #sydneywritersfestival action, ranging from helpful advice from Jane Harper to The Chaser’s War on Mummies:

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All Your Mother Wants is Books and Booze

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It’s coming up to that time of year again, the highest book selling time of year, MOTHER’S DAY. Well, at least it is in my corner of the world. Everybody knows that the ladies love books so the lead up to Mother’s Day is often met with a mad dash to the bookshop, shrieking hysterically at the store clerk that you need that book that was blue and they recommended on that show about books. Unfortunately, there are a lot of blue books and that show has been cancelled. But never fear, I am here to bring you something even better than yelling at bookshop employees, I’m bringing you the perfect pairings for your mother, books and wine.

Let’s kick off this list with The Sisters’ Song by Louise Allan. This is a book about family, hardships, and learning to accept life whilst damning the man. It is set in 1920s Tasmania, Australia. It looks at the differences between siblings, the strengths and flaws of motherhood, and music. It has been praised by critics and readers alike. Given that this is a book proudly set in Tasmania I would recommend that you pair it with a Tasmanian wine. Try Devil’s Corner Pinot Grigio.

Find The Sisters’ Song here.

Find Devil’s Corner Pinot Grigio here.

A rapid change of pace to some non fiction. I think many mums will love The Women’s Brain Book. It’s full of information about women’s brains throughout childhood, puberty, pregnancy, motherhood, menopause and old-age. It is written by neuroscientist Dr Sarah McKay who has dedicated her life to understanding the human brain. This is more of a book about biology and hormones rather than psychology and feelings, it really is a refreshing change of pace. Given that red wine is frequently touted as being good for your health, I’d recommend you pair this book with a red wine such as Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir.

Find The Women’s Brain Book here.

Fund Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir here.

Where’s the Romance, Robin? My mother wants to remember what it was like to be young, and sexy, and in love, and what it was like to sleep in! Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. A Letter From Italy by Pamela Hart is the perfect gift for the mother who loves love. It contrasts war torn Europe in 1917 with the battleground of the heart complete with a sexy Italian love interest. Given that this book is set in Italy and the gorgeous lemon on the cover I’m recommending a slightly stronger pairing, Villa Massa Limoncello.

Find A Letter From Italy here.

Find Villa Massa Limoncello here.

Another romantic foray is A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester. I recommend this one simple because it had me squealing at the end and screaming, ‘Oh my God, they’re totally gonna kiss!’ It follows a woman in Manhattan 1920s who wants to be a doctor. From the outset we can see what she’s up against with the suffocating expectations from society. Although this book has tragedy and struggles it also has joy and will put a smile on your mother’s face. Given that this book is set in the 1920s and infused with jazz, I recommend pairing it with Tanqueray London Dry Gin.

Find A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald here.

Find Tanqueray London Dry Gin here.

Bonus: A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald is in the Booktopia’s Mother’s Day Book Guide so if you order it through then before May 13th you’ll be in for a chance to win $1000 worth of books.

Let’s move away from romance and onto magic. Kate Forsyth The Wild Girl tells the story of Dortchen Wild. Dortchen Wild was the neighbour of the brothers Grimm, good friend of their younger sister, and in reality one of the major sources of the fairytales they are so famous for. This is a fictional retelling of Dortchen’s life, but the characters are based on real people and the integrity to original source material is incredible. For the mother that loves history and fairy tales. I would recommend pairing this magical book with aromatic Kracher Beerenauslese Cuvee.

Find The Wild Girl here.

Find Kracher Beerenauslese Cuvee here.

Have a mother that loves history but wants some grit? I’d recommend Half Wild by Pip Smith. This is another based on a true story novel but this time it is of Eugenia Falleni, a transgender man born in Italy in 1875, raised in New Zealand and spending their adulthood in Australia. Falleni did not cope with restrictions placed on them being assigned female at birth. They would often dress as a boy and try to undertake activities that were only designated for males. This was met with cruelty by Falleni’s parents. Falleni eventually fled family life and assumed life as Harry Crawford. Crawford rose to notoriety in 1917 when the burned body of his wife was found, later Crawford would be accused, reveal that they were born Eugenia Falleni and ask to be put in a women’s cell and tried as a woman. This novel looks at the lives of Eugenia Falleni both before and after the trial. The first 100 pages that cover Falleni’s childhood are particularly gripping. Pair Half Wild with Piave Grappa for an intense experience.

Find Half Wild here.

Find Piave Grappa here.

Is your mother a criminal mastermind? Then I’d recommend some Crime Fiction, especially Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic. This book is set in a rural town with a social outsider as the main character. Profoundly deaf Caleb Zelic has been picking up on people’s tell tale signs since childhood, when murder comes to his doorstep he needs to use all of his skills to prove his innocence. This book won a lot of Crime Fic awards and has a sequel so I highly recommend it for the mother who can’t stop at just one murder. Pair this book with Innocent Bystander Pinot Syrah.

Find Resurrection Bay here.

Find Innocent Bystander Syrah here.

Here’s a book for the mother who has lived through or is currently living through online dating, Out There by Kerri Sackville. It’s all about in being that magical place ‘out there.’ Or at least all your partnered up mates insist you put yourself out there if you’re single. This isn’t so much a book about how to get a man but how to enjoy online dating in midlife and keep your sense of humour and sanity. Think of it as a David Attenborough style guide to dating but funny. So very funny. I recommend pairing it with good old fashioned Passion Pop so that your mother can have a hilariously nostalgic drink to accompany her reading.

Find Out There here.

Find Passion Pop here.

Bonus: Out There: a Survival Guide for Dating in Midlife is also one of Booktopia’s Mother’s Day recommendations.

Know a mother who suffered the baby blues, postnatal depression (postpartum depression across the pond) or postnatal anxiety? Then I think they’d get a lot out of my book simply subtitled Postnatal Depression Sucks. Because it does, it really does. It is direct, real, written in conversation language, containing both insights and practical advice and is also filled with humour. Motherhood is great, but sometimes life is hard and being able to reflect on it and have the odd laugh is quite cathartic. I recommend pairing my book with some soothing tea from High Tea With Harriet such as Duches of Bedford. Indulgently relaxing, and trust me, mothers are worth it.

Find Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks here.

Find High Tea With Harriet Duchess of Bedford here.

Consider yourself now fully prepared to conquer Mother’s Day and take out the coveted Best Child status with these perfect pairings.

Find last year’s perfect pairings of books and pyjamas here.

Daniel Pilkington: #Robinpedia

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Black and white photo of Daniel Pilkington. He has stubble and short but floppy hairy. His shirt is fine checks. Quote: In publishing we all want each other to do well because we’re all passionate about the industry. Photo was originally in colour without text and on the NSW Writers Centre’s website.

Daniel Pilkington is the Head of Sales for Hachette Australia, but before we get to his career journey let’s cut straight to the important bit, judging him based on his appearance. Because if Hollywood profiles of the likes of Liane Moriarty and J. K. Rowling have taught me anything, it’s that judging books based on their cover is imperative. Daniel’s Twitter profile states that he would be considered good-looking in the 1950s. He has periwinkle eyes and good hair, beautiful even. It’s got that floppy Hugh Grant quality but in a dusty blonde. But is it the best hair in publishing? Alas not quite. Alison Green still holds the title. Do better Hachette.

Born to teacher parents Daniel Pilkington decided to break with family tradition, leaving school at the age of 17 to work at Kmart. Daniel had big dreams and they didn’t involve sitting behind a university desk, no, they were of freedom and wind blowing through his magnificent hair. He yearned for the only thing that would make this happen, a Kombi.

Picture of the character Fillmore from the movie Cars. Green Kombi van with sleepy face and the word PEACE and some flowers spray painted down his side.

A Kombi was to be Daniel’s ticket to traveling Australia and so he procured a job at Katoomba Kmart in order to earn some of that sweet Kombi cash. He was initially placed on the door to greet and farewell customers but soon found that being at a constantly opening door in the Blue Mountains during winter is fecking cold and so eager for a warmer position Daniel buckled down and was soon promoted to manager.

Surely on a manager’s salary Daniel could now achieve his dreams of buying Kombi? But by that stage Daniel had discovered that he loved watering the plants at Kmart, unpacking the books and chatting to customers, so he stayed. He stayed and continued to be promoted until he was managing the great Kmart of Chatswood Chase and Warriewood. Under Daniel’s love and care Warriewood became the highest selling Kmart for books. Publishers liked this very much. In 2007 he was declared Young Retailer of the Year. Surely now he could get his Kombie?

Long story short, he didn’t. Or maybe he did but he didn’t ride off into the sunset in it flipping off everyone as he went. No, he stayed. He stayed until one fateful evening Hachette invited him to an author talk and dinner. The dinner was free, young Daniel eagerly licked his lips and leapt the chance. At that dinner Daniel impressed the then Head of Sales at Hachette so much with his passion for selling books that he slipped him his card and told him that should his Kombi van not be rockin he could come knockin for a job. Six months later Daniel came knocking and was offered a staggering pay cut. He accepted.

Daniel initially became a Sydney Account Manager, then worked his way up to National Account Manager, Head of National Accounts and eventually Head of Sales. He loves this because he gets to see all of the books. Fictional, non-fiction, children’s, all of them. This also means print books, ebooks and audiobooks. It might seem like an unconventional route, but aren’t all the best journeys a little bit winding and different?

Daniel has run the whole gamut from Kmart greeter to Head of Sales at Hachette but did he ever buy that Kombi? I don’t know but I’d really like to find out. Let me know about his Kombi in the comments section below. Also add any other tidbits that you think would help flesh out this entry. 😚

Characters from the movie Tangled saying ‘Go, live your dream.’ Rapunzel on the left wearing purple dress, big guy in the middle meant to look criminal, Flynn Rider on the right has brown hair and is meant to look handsome.

Find Daniel Pilkington being 1950s handsome on Twitter here.

Hot new tip off: Daniel Pilkington loves the Foo Fighters.

No word on where things stand regarding the Kombi but I’m uncovering new leads.

Submit to Hachette here.

Browse Hachette’s titles here.

If you enjoyed this entry I just know you’ll love my Robinpedia profiles on:

Natasha Lester

Sarah Schmidt

Allison Tait

L.A. Larkin (I love her and occassionally have cocktails with her so you better love her too!!!)

Learn more about Robinpedia here.

Learn more about me here.

Read about my views on being a dyslexic writer here.

Read about my thoughts on author branding here.

All Your Mother Wants is Books and Pyjamas 

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Do you know what your mother really wants for Mothers’ Day, Birthdays, etc? Books and pyjamas. Possibly also tea. But definitely books and pyjamas. Let me help you out in your mighty task of buying your mother that perfect gift. Here are my perfect pairings to delight that special mother in your life.

For the Dog Lover

My first gift recommendation is Monty and Me by Louisa Bennet. A cosy pet detective about a funky dog who knows how to solve a crime or two. 

Pair this book with some super cute pyjamas like this onsie.

Dachshund lovers are there own seperate breed of people so you need to get them an extra special gift. Try Destination Dachshund by Lisa Fleetwood. It’s a really sweet travel memoir about love, grief, and there’s a dachshund spotting competition involved.

Combine Destination Dachshund with something like these adorable pyjamas that will warm the heart of any dachshund lover.

For the Mother that Loves Thrills, Chills, and Spills

You can’t go past L.A. Larkin’s chiller, Devour. It’s Antarctic noir. It has action, suspense, and some sexy sex. Step aside Robert Ludlum, L.A. Larkin is here.

Pair it with something like these fabulous matching onsies. One for you, one for your mother. Heaven.

Does your mother like more action than you can poke a stick at? Grab her Crimson Lake by Candice Fox. Even ultra famous reviewer Jason Steger reads Candice Fox.

Pair it with fabulous red satin pyjamas like these.

For the Mother Who Loves Love

Her Mother’s Secret by Natasha Lester is the perfect option. It even has mother in the title. Just go out and get it already.

Pair it with flower pyjamas instead of actual flowers.

The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth is an evocative weaving of WWII, fairy tale, and love. Lush settings and intense conflict.

Pair it with rose print pyjamas, like these ones, to tie it all together.


For the most Fantastical of Mothers

This years hottest new Fantasy release is Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer. Gods walking amongst people, magic, warriors, and people living in trees. What’s not to like?

Pair it with some forest or bird pyjamas.

Jane Rawson’s From the Wreck is a speculative fiction take on family history. It is set in the 1800s and is gripping from start to finish. Expect Aliens, ghostly apparitions, and some light cannibalism.

Pair it with some good old fashioned long johns. Check out how much this model loves hers.

For the Mother Who Wants to be Kept in Suspense

Does your mother enjoy rotting mutton and murder? See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt is for her. It delivers the story of Lizzie Borden with a heady feast of flavours.

Match it with a super cute lamb onesie, obvi.

Please Don’t Leave Me Here by Tania Chandler brings you grunge music, amnesia and the seedy underbelly of life. Relive the 90s and see if you can find out who Brigitte really is.

Pair it with something super sexy.

For the Mother Who Likes to Laugh

Our Tiny, Useless Hearts starts with the smashing of plates, progresses to cutting the crotch out of trousers, and even incorporates a nod to the famous Romeo and Juliet balcony scene, but gone horribly wrong.

Pair it with some adorbs, heart-print pyjamas.

The Lucky One is Caroline Overington’s eleventh book and is full of hijinks and corpses. There’s a grumpy old man who doesn’t mind getting a bit of air to his nethers, a drunk art, a mother who wants to talk candidly about her sex life, a teenage waif and a sexy cowboy. Plenty of laughs but also lots of suspense.

Pair it with something fit for an heiress.

For the Mother Who Says No to Fiction

We’re All Going to Die by Leah Kaminsky. This is actually a joyful book about dying. I can definitely see the funny side of handing something with this title to your mother, but the content is great too.

Pair it with some killer pyjamas.

The Mad Woman in the Attic, get in that attic, Mother, where you belong. It’s a collection of essays on the portrayal of women in literature. It first came out in 1979. I love this book.

Pair it with some crazy good pyjamas.

For the New Mother

Things that Helped by Jessica Friedmann is a collection of poetic essays that express the yearning of her soul after the birth of her baby.

Pair it with something like these classic silk pyjamas for true indulgence.

Why not grab my fab book for the slightly frazzled mother in your life? Confessions of a Mad Mooer: Postnatal Depression Sucks explores my struggles through depression after the birth of my twins. Having three under three was chaotic and exhausting. It’s conversational, practical, and quite funny.

Pair it with these cow pjs to complete that mad cow vibe.

Now run off and spoil that special mother in your life. Just quietly, gin is also good.

Brace Yourself; Book Recommendations Are Coming

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The Holiday season is upon us and every mother flipper is in need of gifts, Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, and so many more http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/lesson/lesson246.shtml . Heck, there are even some birthdays. It’s a gift heavy month in the Western world.  So here are the books I’d recommend… apart from my own, buy it for yourself,  consider it your gift to me.

Let’s get started!

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The Princess Betony books by Pamela Freeman. They are gorgeous. They’re small so the perfect size for little hands with beautifully designed covers. These books take the princess stereotype and subverts it. A great balance for any child that has been over exposed to less progressive princess merchandise.

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Hansel and Rose by Caroline Magerl. The art in this picture book is simply incredible. It’s a book about belonging, loss and hope. So many important lessons and feelings simplified. A great book for your young early-primary aged friend.

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The Callahan Split by Lisa Heidke. Tennis, sibling rivalry, professional ambition, and some romance. What’s not to like. I did offer to design the book cover for her, she didn’t go for it for many reasons  (the book isn’t about Tom Selleck, I’m not a designer… she doesn’t know me. So many reasons) but I still think it’s a great read.

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Tiddas by Anita Heiss. Say you read parts of my serial because you wanted to read about a book club but thought my characters were “unbelievably slutty” and “Neanderthals” then this book probably has the depth you’re seeking. I highly recommend it, even if you’re not an uptight jerk who slut shames characters you’re going to love this book because it is sensational. It explores so many complexities in friendship and personal choice.

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The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth. Combines masterful story telling, the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, and WWII. If that’s not enough to get your interest then you’re dead to me and I don’t want to know.

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The Little Book of Anxiety by Kerri Sackville. Fuck The Little Book of Calm, this book is the book you want. I don’t care if you swallowed The Little Book of Calm, you need to get this book which shares tales from the author’s own anxious life. If you’re an anxious lady, Kerri gets you.

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Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier. Full of magic and mystery this is a captivating read for all Fantasy addicts. Juliet Marillier always produces exceptional novels so you can’t go wrong buying anything of hers.

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Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres. Kickass sci fi by a kickass writer. Get this one and read it. I don’t want to sound like a total horn dog but there are some exciting characters in there. Somebody pass me my salts.

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And as for anthologies, you cannot go past Cranky Ladies of History. It is just spectacular and the name says it all. I cannot recommend this one enough. Get it, get it, get it!!!!! Seriously, look at that cover. The whole thing is gold.

Possibly the best idea of all is to buy all of these for yourself and forget the world for a bit. You deserve it. Happy reading.

Please note that these aren’t all new releases, some are old, some are new… some are borrowed and some are blue.

Aurealis Awards 2014 nailed the Australian Women Writers Challenge – #AWW2015 @aurealisawards

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aww-badge-2015Aurealis Awards prove that anything men can do, women can do just as well.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Aurealis Awards I suggest you check them out, they’re the premiere awards for the Australian Speculative Fiction crowd. A chance for Spec Fic writers to get recognized, connect, maintain a professional discourse, and to sink a few bevies. Or French Champagne for the more successful authors.

It was a fantastic event, organized by two women, Nicole Murphy and Tehani Wessley, and MCed by the talented, multi-award winning, Margo Lanagan. Those unfamiliar with her works, might I suggest Tender Morsels as a starting place. Her writing is spectacular, you will not be disappointed. Cat Sparks, demonstrated her multi-dimensional talents by, presenting, photographing, and if you check out twitter, also doing a spot of glamour modelling. On top of that, Kate Forsyth (if you haven’t heard of her… have you been living under a rock?) presented the Fantasy awards. I am pretty sure I was not the only one who had to pop on shades when she walked onto the stage to dim her radiance. She is truly amazing. And the cherry on top was Angela Slatter. Angela Slatter essentially won the Aurealis. Well, she won pretty much every category she was in. She even beat out internationally acclaimed, juggernaut, Garth Nix.

The Australian Women Writers Challenge was up for the Covenors’ Award for Excellence this year and although it didn’t win, I think it actually kind of did. The Australian Women Writers Challenge is about showcasing the enormous depth of talent that is demonstrated by Australian women who are writers. These Aurealis Awards certainly nailed that brief. So bravo Aurealis Awards, bravo Australian Women Writers Challenge and bravo all Australian women writers. If nothing else, you all get a vag badge from me.

So let’s have a ‘Clam Bake’ and celebrate these wonderful women of the Aurealis Awards and go check out their wares. Names listed below for your convenience.

Angela Slatter

Margo Lanagan

Kate Forsyth

Juliet Marillier

Kim Wilkins

Cat Sparks

Lian Tanner

Amanda Bridgeman

Amie Kaufman

Carole Wilkinson

Charlotte Nash

Deborah Biancotti

Deborah Kalin

Faith Mudge

Glenda Larke

Goldie Alexander

Jaclyn Moriarty

Judith Rossell

Karen Foxlee

Kathleen Jennings

Keri Arthur

Kirstyn McDermott

Lisa L Hannett

Liz Argall

LynC

Lynnette Lounsbury

Marianne de Pierres

Meagan Spooner

Nina D’Aleo

Nova Weetman

Rebecca Lim

Rosaleen Love

Thoraiya Dyer

Tehani Wessely

Nicole Murphy

Up and coming Australian women writers at the Aurealis Awards: @LisaFleetwood , @helen_petrovic , @RobinRiedstra (me!)

Up and coming Australian women writers at the Aurealis Awards: @LisaFleetwood , @helen_petrovic , @RobinRiedstra (me!)

Book Review: Take me to Paradise by @_WritersJourney #AWW2015

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aww-badge-2015

Here we go. Review number 2 for the Australian Women Writers Challenge. Today I am tackling Jan Cornall, not only a writer but an institution in this country. She sings, she performs, she teaches, she is a mentor to many an artistic soul. Australian artists salute Jan Cornall, so let’s take a look inside her first published novel.

Take me to Paradise follows the journey of Marilyn, both her physical and emotional Journey. Marilyn wakes up one morning and instead of catching the bus to work, catches the ‘I don’t like Mondays’ flight to Bali. It is a poignant journey of self-discovery and self-recovery. A woman getting out of her element and in doing so she can strips away the trappings of her life and discovers what is truly her and versus what is a construction of her. It has many nods to metaphysical thought but also has that feeling of rebellion of like expressed in feminist movies like Thelma and Louise. I think this book would resonate with anyone who has had an existential crisis, midlife crisis, or went through those awkward teenage years, because all of these times are  a deeply perplexing and painfully personal experience. The novella has a beautifully rich setting, with sights, smells, and sounds blasting at you. You feel as if you are immersed in this world. The tropic jungle descriptions in particular are quite powerful and make you want to travel. Take Me to Paradise shows how different the paradise dream can be: for a western woman, for a Balinese man, for a Balinese wife, and the many characters Marilyn meets.

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