Saturday, 28 January 2012

A Monster Calls Review

"A Monster Calls left us with tears in our eyes, an aching heart and a beautiful story.

The magic of this book is that it’s real and imaginary. That it’s mythology and truth. ... It’s not a fantasy book but weaves mythology and the power of stories into a real story of pain and truth."

Read twelve year olds Ciara and Alethea's excellent full review here, on their blog Small Puddles!

Monday, 23 January 2012

David Sedaris Teaches Us a Thing or Two at the Opera House

David Sedaris appeared like a grinning Buddha 
when he appeared on the stage at the Sydney
 Opera House last week during his Australian 
tour. In fact by the end of the night I'm sure 
there was an aura of unsaintly goodwill 
surrounding the entire crowd caused by his 
outrageously funny set.
As a first-timer hearing David speak, not having seen him before or heard him on 
the wonderful This American Life radio programme, I was completely won over 
- by his voice!  Whilst I've read many of his books, I have to say the pieces that he 
read on the evening were made complete by his voice alone.  This is a man who 
could read the phone book - a la Tracy Jordan - and give us all a good chuckle.   
So his smart, very naughty and extremely incisive wit were just added extras.
He begun in character, that of Cassie Hasselback, a fundamentalist Southern 
Christian and regaled us with a world full of woe and retributionunder the 
heading of "If I Ruled the World".  Very funny, but kinda scarytoo.  Too 
scary obviously for the magazine that didn't publish it - shame on them.
The majority of the evening however was spent on pieces about David's 
engagement with language, mostly foreign, and of airports.  I'd love totranscribe 
every hilarious word he spoke about these things, but thecouple of times I've 
attempted and failed to retell the story about the dreadlocked, 18 year-old Dad 
who was wearing a t-shirt inscribed "freaky motha focka" tells me that I just 
won't do it justice.  And farting stewardesses and announcements requiring Hitler 
to pick up the white phone ... you had to be there.
My favourite piece of the night, which I will take the time to recall, was about his 
travels in Japan.  Whilst many of us who are familiar with his writing will know 
that he went to Japan to quit smoking - in this piece he talked of his problems 
getting to know people with only a limited knowledge of the language.  The Pimsler 
language tapes which he uses tell him how to say "Hello" and "Sorry" - very 
important anywhere you go - didn't really give him the facility to tell people about 
himself.  Herecalled being in a taxi and dutifully asking the driver "How many 
children do you have?"   When the driver reciprocated the question, he could only 
answer from his prepared list of responses.  What he wanted to say was "Oh I'm a 
middle aged homosexual with a niece and godson", butwhat he told the driver was
"I have three children, two boys and one girl who is getting very big now."  A 
personal aside I'm someone very lazy with learning languages so I love that you 
could just learn that sentence rota - however language tapes and Lonely Planet 
phrasebooks are a world apartin David Sedaris' world.  Reciting some of the things 
he learnt whilst perusing a Korean phrasebook made me blush from head to toe, 
but I guess dating, love and sex talk are as important travelling tools as where, how
long and how much ... On completing the Tokyo article and having it published, 
David received an email from Pimsler thanking him for mentioning them in his 
article and attached was a special audio which consisted of, "When asked by a taxi 
driver,''How many children do you have?'', this is how you say, "Oh I'm a middle 
aged homosexual with a niece and a godson".  How wonderful.  Good on you 
Pimsler, someone who works there has a sense of humour.
David Sedaris is a wondrous medley of charms.  Like most observational writers 
of our generation, his experience of the world is broadly found, yet his most 
noteworthy pieces are about everyday concerns, like badt-shirt slogans, 
swimmers worn inside out at the pool, planes that keep on getting delayed 
and telephone calls that hinder our bowel movements. Kinda silly, yet it's true, 
these are the small trials that test us everyday.  And whilst there are those that 
would consider that we should not judge, if we do, whether it be by political 
affiliations, belief systems and social class, David Sedaris has material for that too.   
Afterall, most of us are just trying to get by and failing miserably by mismatching 
our underwear.
Written by Megan 


Saturday, 21 January 2012

Indigo's Book Club

We are pleased to announce a brand new book club is starting up this year! Run by 20-year-old Indigo, we’ll be reading all types of wonderful things - from general fiction to biographies, from science to science-fiction, from contemporary literature to current affairs. Oh, and all those classics you haven’t got around to yet. We're open to all ages and tastes. So if you’re interested in discussing ideas or want to broaden your bookish horizons drop us a line on (02) 9572 7766 or email Or come and see any of our friendly staff at the front counter.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Australian Women Writers 2012 Challenge

We're going to be taking part in the Australian Women Writers 2012 Challenge. The idea is to read and review as many books by Australian women that we can this year. Given that there will be more than one person blogging here in 2012, we've signed up for Franklin-Fantastic, which means we have to read at least 10 and review at least 4 books. I reckon we can smash this challenge!

This year is going to be a great one for Australian women writers with not only this challenge, but the launch of the Stella Prize and the National Year of Reading bringing an opportunity to promote and raise awareness of some of the fantastic books being written by Australian women.

Last year at Shearer's we had a wonderful response to Australian women's writing, with Geraldine Brooks' Caleb's Crossing becoming our bestselling fiction title of the year and with books like Favel Parrett's Past the Shallows, Gail Jones' Five Bells and Mette Jakobsen's The Vanishing Act reaching bestseller status and becoming big book club hits.

Head over the Australian Women Writers website if you'd like to sign up for the challenge yourself. We look forward to sharing the great books we read with you through the year! 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

When We Have Wings: Review

This unmissable book from a strong new talent should be put at the top of your to-read list. Claire Corbett vividly creates a world in which human beings can undergo medical procedures to give them wings. And not just decorative wings, wings that enable people to fly. The novel follows a young girl, who kidnaps the child who was in her care and the private detective hired to track her down.

As the  story unfolds, Corbett reveals more and more of this not-too-distant future and the manner in which it operates. Flying has become the realm of the super-rich, with parents struggling and sacrificing to have their children undergo the procedures. The details are what makes it work so well, Claire Corbett has obviously researched her subject for a long time, and thought about what the implications of such a possibility would be. The world she creates is totally believable as is the way she describes the mechanics of flying.

Where this novel truly soars are in the descriptions of what it is like to fly. Claire Corbett catches the exhilaration, the thrill and the dangers perfectly. I was totally immersed in this book, and the world that was created. When We Have Wings works as crime fiction, speculative fiction and literary fiction.

Reviewed by Mark

When We Have Wings is available here.
You can read an interview with Claire Corbett here.

The Apothecary - Book Club Review

Nikki Gemmell Visit

Nikki Gemmell visited us at Shearer's with her gorgeous son, Jago to sign some copies of her new book.

Over coffee, we discussed With My Body, which is a continuation on the extremely controversial and conversation-starting themes she explored in The Bride Stripped Bare.

Our conversation mirrored so many others that Shearer's staff have been having in the store since With My Body hit our shelves.  We covered topics such as sex and our reluctance to talk about it truthfully, sexual taboos, feminisim and the changing public perception of women's roles in the face of misogynist comments in the popular media.

Nikki also talked about the exciting challenges ahead for authors to create stories which challenge and entice the tech-savvy generation.

To hear more about Nikki's writing and With My Body, watch this terrific interview with Leigh Sales from the 7.30 Report.

With My Body by Nikki Gemmell is available here.