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Novelist and journalist MAGGIE ALDERSON spent her gap year as a ‘ferocious punk rocker’ working at an advertising agency and starting her own punk fanzine, for which she interviewed Bob Geldoff and Billy Idol. She went on to become the editor of Evening Standard and Elle in London. She also spent eight years in Australia as editor of Cleo and Mode, and covering fashion shows in Milan and Paris for The Sydney Morning Herald. Now back in the UK, Maggie has just released a new novel, The Scent of You. She tells us why reading fairy stories is good training for any writer, who her literary crush is, and why War and Peace is the most emotionally involving books she's ever read.
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Archive Discoveries

  • Real-life historical figures and 18th-century court cases dealing with adultery inspired one of two interwoven storylines in The Wife’s Tale, a new novel by Australian author CHRISTINE WELLS. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN how the true events from the past inform her tale of scandal, intrigue, murder – and love.  Read on >
  • We talk with PATRICK HOLLAND, a longlist nominee for the 2011 Miles Franklin Award for his novel The Mary Smokes Boys, about his new novel, One, which tells the story of the real-life Kenniff brothers. These two late-19th-century Queenslanders were Australia’s last bushrangers, and vPatrick questions the extent of their supposed villainy. Read on >
  • From an investigation into the scandals of the Catholic Church by Tom Keneally to Jeffrey Archer’s thrilling last instalment in the ‘Clifton Chronicles’ series or a tale of a shrewd female locksmith in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, these books will delight you over the long, languid days of summer. Read on >
  • Former pop-punk rocker LEN VLAHOS tells Good Reading about his new YA novel, Life in a Fishbowl, and how Marcus Zusak inspired him to write from the perspective of a brain tumour. Read on >
  • Paul Mitchell is a poet, short story writer, and now a novelist with the release of We. Are. Family. Read on to find out about Paul's poetry, writing, and the way he explores family trauma and masculinity in Australia.  Read on >
  • Perth crime writer David Whish-Wilson reveals how the history of organised crime in WA and his many encounters with criminals, from teaching writing to inmates to meeting biker gangs, has influenced his novels.  Read on >
  • The changing moral code and shift in gender roes of World War II provide the backdrop for JENNIFER RYAN's debut novel The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN about the people and events that inspired the story. Read on >
  • ALL IS GIVEN: A MEMOIR IN SONGS by LINDA NEIL She’s a Brisbane-based songwriter and an awardwinning producer of radio documentaries, and in this memoir LINDA NEIL travels the world, playing music and meeting people along the way. In this extract she recalls as a teenager being given the seemingly tedious duty of reading books to a blind neighbour. But what happened next surprised both the reader and the listener. Read on >
  • The jazz era of the 1920s in America was
 filled with exuberant music, fast cars and young men and women determined to have a good time. But at the same time in working-class Far North Queensland, life wasn’t lived at quite the same level of opulence.
In a new novel, Treading Air, Queensland author ARIELLA VAN LUYN uses fiction to investigate the life of a real young woman from Townsville named Lizzie O’Dea, who shot another woman in 1924. Read on >
  • The exact percentage of people with dyslexia is unknown, but it’s estimated at between 5 and 17 per cent of the population. And many people may not even be aware that they have the condition. There’s no cure for it, but now there’s a new way to help people overcome dyslexia – and it’s as simple as using a new font. Read on >
  • Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre has inspired all kinds of fan fiction and adaptations, such as the 1966 prequel Wide Sargasso Sea. But in this new novel by Sydney resident JENNIFER LIVETT, the lives of Jane Eyre characters become entwined with those of real 19th-century Tasmanians, including doomed Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin. Here Jennifer tells us how she came up with the idea for Wild Island. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • It’s been over 25 years since the first Maisy books were published, and Maisy Goes Swimming was among them. Of course, if she’s going swimming, Maisy has to get undressed and we need to help her. Her blue hat and scarf first, then her brown boots and her red coat. Little tags on every page help us to put Maisy in her bright stripey swimsuit. Read on >

  • Maisy’s been for a holiday, she’s been for a sleepover and even visited a museum. Now it’s time to go the bookshop. She’s amazed how many books there are, which makes it very hard for her to choose. But Ostrich, the shopkeeper, helps her to find a lovely book about birds, just right for her friend, Tallulah. She meets her other friends – Charley, Cyril and Eddie – who all share their favourite books with one another. At story time Ostrich reads a book to them about a dinosaur. Then it’s off to the café where the food is so yummy. Read on >

  • This is a true story written by the author of such memorable picture books as Queenie: One Elephant’s Story and The Dog on the Tuckerbox. It’s a love story about a man and his pet gibbon and it’s beautifully presented with soft, wistful illustrations. Read on >

  • This is an extremely important book for every school and municipal library to have on its shelves. It’s written so that very young children will understand the injustice of it all, and the older ones in primary school will want to discuss the history of those days, which are written up in detail in the last pages of the book. Read on >

  • With a strong sense of contemporary Australian culture and a protagonist who is relatable, this story will stay with you. It’s a stirring tale brimming with the conflicts of youth growth and it offers a thoughtful take on issues relevant to the lives of many children. Read on >

  • The magical realism in Laura Ruby’s novel is beautifully rendered. The action switches seamlessly between Finn – his complicated home life and his new relationship with Petey – and Roza’s new life with the unrecognisable man. The conclusion is satisfying but perhaps too abrupt. Nonetheless, the love story, the search for Roza and the hope that Finn and Sean will finally be the winners will keep you reading. Read on >

  • I really admire how these two authors have co-written this book. The story is told from dual points of view. Jess expresses herself so capably, while Nicu tugs at our heartstrings with his broken English. The book is written in verse, which means, with fewer words on each page, the impact is so much greater. Read on >

  • Author Sara Barnard incorporates text message formatting to show the conversations between Steffi and Rhys, which makes them just like any other teenagers. Her novel is accessible and engrossing, even if you have no experience with social anxiety or hearing impairment. Read on >

  • If you want to do something a bit more creative with a spiraliser than grind out salad garnishes, then this book fills the bill. Read on >

  • By examining one man’s distinguished legal career, we get the opportunity to reflect at length on humanity’s dark side and become aware of the limitations of the law. Read on >

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