December Gift Guides: A Little Bit of Magic

by Louise Forster

The trouble with finding that perfect gift for an uncle who only reads the sports pages and political satire cartoons, who loves throwing a steak on the barbecue, with a beer in one hand and tongs in the other, while listening to AC/DC is really difficult. The man loves inappropriate T-shirts, with inappropriate slogans and/or graphics. He’s not a bad person: on the contrary, he’s a big-bellied, big-hearted, generous person who contributes to many worthwhile causes, including marriage equality. He does get a kick out of verbal run-ins, loves the sparring. He’ll argue a point that is the opposite of how he feels with conviction, just so he can work out the other person … or push their buttons.

He has two teenage daughters who often find themselves in the middle of a heated debate with him. I’ve watched him grinning as in midstream he’ll swap sides. It doesn’t take long for his girls to catch on, and that’s when they give him a groan and an eye-roll before wandering off.

I could buy him a T-shirt that says, I Fear No One … I Have Daughters.

But I asked avid reader, DH, what he thought would put a huge grin on the man’s face Christmas morning. His immediate answer was anything by Ilona Andrews. But start with the Magic series. He’ll get a kick out of Kate Daniels and Curran.


28381If your uncle likes stories about secrets and small towns, may we suggest Louise’s latest book, Tumble Creek?

December Gift Guides: For BFFs

By Rhyll Biest


The title I’ll be buying for working women friends and colleagues this year is Feminist Fight Club, so they can enjoy a laugh while learning how to tackle the Manterrupter, (who talks over female colleagues in meetings) or the Bropropriator (who appropriates their ideas) in addition to a bunch more practical hacks for dealing with other external (sexist) and internal (self-sabotaging) behaviours that plague women in the workplace. And the Canberra Centre Dymocks definitely deserves some love during the holiday season for their friendly and knowledgeable staff!

29577Also recommended for BFFs is Rhyll’s latest novel, Hell on Wheels. What BFF doesn’t want a paranormal marriage-of-convenience story about a roller-derby playing demon princess?

December Gift Guides: For Great Cooks (and want-to-be Great Cooks!)

by Elisabeth Rose


I’d recommend The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander for someone setting up house for the first time or someone developing an interest in cooking. It’s pricey so probably for someone a bit special, but it’s a really comprehensive guide for Australian kitchens. It has sections on vegetables, fruit, herbs, spices, cooking techniques, measures etc and is packed with recipes for pretty much everything. Best of all it’s terrific value for money because it has no glossy photos that cost a bomb and waste space.

It sits on a book seat thingy on my kitchen bench and I refer to it all the time. We bought it as our Christmas gift to ourselves one year. Husband and I do that instead of trying to think of something each after 43 years together.

23483.jpgFor fans of romantic mysteries – not thrillers, mysteries – on your list, we heartily recommend Elisabeth Rose who writes romantic suspense with real characters with real problems and real happy-ever-after endings. Perfect for those readers who like their suspense without the gore.

December Gift Guide: For Fantastic Dads

by Catherine Evans


I bought my Dad (who’s an avid reader in his 70s) a couple of Robin Hobb books. OMG! They’re the gift that keeps giving. He’s addicted, so each birthday or Christmas, he gets another. They’re fantasy, mostly in trilogies that are all interconnected, with about 20 books in total and more coming. I think there’s a couple of years’ worth of gifts!

28148Catherine Evans debuted this year with The Healing Seasona beautiful novel about a man in need of a new start and a town offering them up for a dollar a week. Also available are the two linked stories from Jennie Jones and Lisa Ireland.

December Gift Guides: Mothers and the Macabre

by Sandra Antonelli

My mother instilled me with her love of books, from a very, very young age. While she doesn’t read fiction (except for my books because I am her daughter), when we talk reading, it’s all about non-fiction. We have traded books over the years and over vast distances. We’ve read Simon Winchester’s A Crack in the Edge of the World, Krakatoa, The Professor and the Madman (aka The Surgeon of Crowthorne), Giles Milton’s Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, Dava Sobel’s Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, as well as an array of non-fiction ranging from the plague to Eleanor Roosevelt.

Books are a Christmas gift-giving tradition.


Two years ago, Mom gave me the book Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World by Mark Pendergrast. I returned the favour last year, giving her The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum.


She gave me Stiff: Curious lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach.


This year I’m giving her Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart, and A is For Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup.

 Gee, it looks like we’ve got some sort of theme here, but I assure you, Mom and I do not have a toxic relationship. We simply have an interest in the unusual. And, it seems, books about somewhat macabre stuff written by women. Merry, merry, Happy, Happy, Ho-Ho-Ho kids!


If you have someone on your list who loves pop culture, music, movies, and appreciates a quick quip, then we suggest gifting a Sandra Antonelli novel or two. Next to You is her latest.

December Gift Guides: Books for the Whole Family

by Zaide Bishop

Here are my suggestions for gift books:

My book of the year that I want to gift to everyone is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F** by Mark Manson. There is literally no one you cannot give that to. Okay, maybe not your grandma but everyone else is yes.


For someone who has been decimated by 2016 as we all have been, the new Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape.


For teenagers, Teens Cook: How To Cook What You Want To Eat by Megan, Judy & Jill Carle.


Also for teenagers: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld and Margo Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti.


For middle-grades, Acquisition and its sequel Duplicity by Talitha Kaligo.

 I’d also like to recommend buying these books from Dymocks in Chermside, QLD. They have a Facebook page!

25823For readers who like a little rock ‘n roll (in all senses of that word, we strongly recommend Zaide’s short story as part of the Secret Confessions: Backstage series, which is available in a box set!

December Gift Guide: The Organised and the Freestylers

by Juliet Madison
For all the single ladies (cue Beyonce): Hot Dudes Reading by Hot Dudes Reading. (Bonus! This also comes as a 2017 Wall Calendar!)

For those who enjoy discarding their stuff and being tidy: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

For those who enjoy buying more stuff and couldn’t be bothered being tidy:


For those readers on your list who love a good romantic comedy, we can recommend Juliet’s three-book collection, featuring whimsical, light-hearted love stories for every woman who loves a good laugh.

December Gift Guide: For Fiery Women!

by Viveka Portman

For the fiery feminist or woman seeking empowerment here are my three must read books:


Warrior Women  by Robin Cross and Rosalind Miles.
This one goes through 3000 years of female courage and heroism; it covers all the greats. From the historic Amazons to China’s formidable Wu Chao, it carries across the globe right through to modern day ballbusters like Margaret Thatcher and US Military heroines from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.This book is inspirational for women and men who have the sense to know that history isn’t always made or written by humans with penises.


Personally, I think every school girl should be made to read at least some of these amazing stories. In fact – I bought it for my own daughter.

These are the stories behind well known (and lesser known) women who wittingly or unwittingly have helped shape Australian society. From the mother of poet Henry Lawson, to Edith Cowan (Australia’s First Female Paliamentarian) to Mary MacKillop – Australia’s first Catholic saint… this book is absolutely inspirational. Some of the women in this book rose from the darkest places to make a lasting imprint on this country – whether they are remembered for it or not. Read it, be inspired by it, and I guarantee you’ll learn a thing or two about yourself in the process.


This book is filled with the audacious exploits of some very strong and unusual women. From the strange and sad lives of early Indigenous Australian women like Mary Cockerill and Walyer, the reader discovers equally fascinating and tragic tales of early transgender women, like Miss Ellen Tremaye who later became Edward De Lacy Evans, and Marion “Bill” Edwards. This is not a book about ‘great’ women. It’s about women with hidden agendas, women who were unusual or just plain angry – but all left an indelible mark on the people who knew them. Definitely worth a look!

If you know readers who love historical romance novels with strong, unusual women, then be sure to check out Viveka’s Regency Diaries, a quintet of brilliant regency stories, perfect for hot summer reading.

December Gift Guide: Adventure Readers!

by Kate Loveday


Half Moon Bay by Helene Young

For me, this book has everything – suspense, action, intrigue, emotion and romance. Nick Lawson is the man we can all sigh over, handsome, sexy, tough as nails and soft as butter. Elly Wilding is lovely, smart, independent, but vulnerable.

Put them together and you have an excellent book as a gift for the cousin who travels a lot and likes to read in the plane.

28837If you, too, are looking for intrigue and romance, may we suggest Kate’s novel, Black Mountain, which features a botanist heroine who has discovered a plant with miraculous properties – and the people who will do anything to steal it from her…