Welcome to Bookmarked!

Your new online book community

We are very proud to introduce you to Bookmarked – the first Australian book forum run by an Australian bookstore. It's a novel place, and we wanted to give our Booklovers their very own online home to come and talk about the books they’re loving and the books they’re itching to read. Bookmarked is a Booklover’s hub that never sleeps, so come join the conversation today. 

Most Recent Discussions

Author Q&A with Annie Barrows

We recently got a chance to ask Annie Barrows, one half of the hit writing team behind The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and author of the upcoming The Truth According to Us about her favourite books, writing style and more. 

What was your favourite book growing up and why?
This is a vast question, because I did very little but read between the ages of 7 and 14. So I’m going to talk about the book that was my favourite before I knew how to read: The Golden Children’s Bible. I grew up in a stridently non-religious household and never went to church in my life (until I was 17 and horrified my parents by going to mass). I had no religious instruction and there were no bibles in my house. All was good sportsmanship, cleanliness, and rule-following. 

So imagine my shock upon encountering The Golden Children’s Bible at the dentist’s office. As Iwaited for my sister to be drilled, I flipped through it and found—oh my god!—the Ten Plagues! Eight of them were vividly depicted in living color (they omitted the Plague of Sores—too nasty—and the Plague of Lice—too tiny), and my eyes nearly popped out of my head at the sight of the Plague of Frogs. I spent a long time marvelling at those frogs. They were crawling everywhere. The people in the picture seemed remarkably calm about it; they were scooping them up with oars. Only one fellow in the background was yelling. Maybe he had slipped on a frog. Maybe he had some other problem. I was illiterate; I had no answers, but I knew I had found something way more fascinating than One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

By the time I was dragged away to be drilled myself, I was in a complete lather about Samson. The picture was a stumper: Delilah smirked while Samson lay supine, eyes closed, with his head on her lap. But men were chopping off his hair and putting his feet in chains! Knowing as I did that I would wake up if someone put my feet in chains, I was pretty sure he was dead. But then, there he was in the next picture, knocking pillars over! What kind of story could possibly narrate these pictures? It was a mystery that went on for several years, until I could manage the paragraph “Delilah made Samson go to sleep with his head on her knees. Then she called for a man had had him shave off the seven locks of Samson’s hair. By that she humbled him, for his strength went from him.” 

This was far from satisfying. Why seven locks? What made them seven? And why did his strength go from him? And I still didn’t understand how he could sleep through someone putting chains on his feet.
Reading or no reading, it was a mystery and I loved it.

If you could invite three fictional characters to dinner, who would you pick?
This is so difficult. Do I want an introspective, psychologically acute dinner party? Dr. Rivers from the Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker; Dorothea Brooke from Middlemarch (she can bring Will Ladislaw if she wants); and Violet, the narrator of “Silver Water” by Amy Bloom. We would discuss death. I would serve something vegetarian.
But maybe I’d rather have a more festive event? Mr. Micawber; Boris from The Goldfinch; and Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes. No food, just cocktails (tuna for Hobbes).
Or maybe, because grownups are so touchy, I’d just invite kids: Rosalind Penderwick from The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall; Indigo Casson from the Casson Family series by Hilary McKay; and Chrissie from Beaux by Evan Commager. We’d talk about our siblings. I think they’d like roast chicken and rice, with ice-cream pie for dessert.

What is your favourite opening sentence of a book?
I don’t think you can do much better than “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.” Every book has to tell its reader how to read it, and in this case, the job is done by the end of the first fifteen words.

Is there another author’s book that you wish you’d written? 
Oh for sure—dozens! Hundreds! I wish that I’d written every brilliant book I read, but I REALLY wish it when I read a book with a brilliant idea and a crummy execution (and I would be a real idiot if I gave you an example).

What would you like to tell your 18 year-old self?
Smart ain’t everything.

Who inspires you? (Doesn’t have to be limited to other writers.)
When I was writing The Truth According to Us, I was inspired not so much by other writers as by the assortment of aunts, uncles, cousins, and hangers-on that I was lucky enough to be born into. I’d imagine myself there, listening to them on the porch, in half-light, as they drew in a deep, smoke-filled breath and began: “Well. It’s a sorry story, and I shouldn’t even be telling it. You girls’ll have nightmares all night, and you’d better not wake me up if you do. Well. All right. Here’s what happened—”
They are the treasure I was trying to recover.

You’re stranded on an island with all the living essentials at hand, but what one additional item would you need to survive? 
I really need sunscreen. Is that included in living essentials? If it’s not, that’s going to have to be my additional item. Which is a drag. I don’t want sunscreen, and I might die of boredom if I have to use up my additional item on sunscreen instead of what I really want, which is paper. I know how to manufacture ink out of soot (I have matches, don’t I?), but I’m too old to learn how to make paper. If my additional item is paper, and I make ink, I can write, which means I’ll have something to do, and I’ll have something to read, and I’ll be fine.

To heck with sunscreen. I’ll chance it. Give me paper.

Lots of it, please.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past 12 months?
I read War & Peace, which is the best book in the world, but I’d read it before, so maybe that doesn’t count. If not: The Chateau by William Maxwell. Also Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. Also The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, which I can’t believe I didn’t read years ago.  

What is your number one tip for would-be writers?
Talent means almost nothing. Work means almost everything.

How would you summarise your latest book in 25 words or less?
I thought of taking all the spaces out of the flap copy so that it was just one word, but then I got a better idea. I wrote a haiku.

Truth will set you free!
No it won’t. Does it matter?
Yes. But maybe not.

That was fun. But if you want a real summary in 25 words: A debutante exiled in the small town of Macedonia, West Virginia, learns that the past is never over when she meets the eccentric Romeyn family.

I like the haiku better.


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Awesome People Reading

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Hating Favourites

I'm currently reading Room by Emma Donoghue and not really enjoying it as much as I hoped! This book has received incredibly positive feedback and was even shortlisted for a few awards, including the Man Booker Prize, but I'm just not feeling it. It's not the first time I've had an opinion contrary to what's popular (other hated books include Gone Girl and The Mortal Instruments series) and I've also found some real gems that are little known (The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft deserved way more recognition).

It has me wondering, are there others out there whose opinion is different to that of the majority?

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One conversation dominated the interval chit-chat at my most recent visit timer to the Globe Theatre. If my cleaner can speak such wonderful English, why can't all children online timer in the UK learn at least two foreign languages? It's all Thatcher's fault.

Birdwatching , Fishing and Riding to the Hounds on the Western Front

"Where Poppies Blow: The British Soldier, Nature, The Great War" by John Lewis-Stempel is a delight to read. Similar in writing  style to his previous " Six Weeks: The Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War", Lewis-Stempel provides an easy  but reasonably comprehensive book on the subject of an otherwise neglected aspect of life at the front in the Great War. Away from the roaring din of noise and destruction, he gives the reader a respite from these  agonies and a look into the other world of soldier. Bird-spotting, looking for nests, flowers ,were   favorite pastimes of many offiicers who literally went out of their way to spot and record  bird life. One officer, Major Sladen, birdwatching in Palestine, recorded his findings of over 100 birds( listed in Notes). Some were noted naturalists in civilian life. Gardens were planted, flower beds sprung up in the most unlikely of places, along trenches, pets were kept and Lewis-Stempel supplies a list of some of the most exotic ones like kangaroos and bears. It is anecdotal with diary entries and letters to loved ones from the front lines. His book is a wonderful relief from the daily grind of mud, blood and angst. It is just released in hardcover and depending on where you buy it, depends on the price. It is a most welcome addition to anyone interested in the Great War.

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I just got a new print delivered by an artist named Dan McCarthy from the US, one of two of his I've purchased recently (the other one is still in transit). 

The one that arrived is this:

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and the second one I am still waiting on is this:

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I've also got a piece of kinda pop-art due in about a month. Anyone else here got specific tastes when it comes to art? 


Excellent piece of work! I'm impressed. I'm an artist and love to find out fresh ideas to bring a new experience. This one is absolutely fantastic and I think someone has to find out a special word to express the feeling for this.

The Girl Before by J P Delaney

This one has finally hit shelves so I figured it's time to share my review! :)

Being compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train leaves one with big expectations for this novel and it does not disappoint. I was lucky enough to win an advanced copy of the novel through a Goodreads giveaway and I'm so excited to see the reactions when the novel receives the inevitable momentum it rightfully deserves!

This is a tangled web of complex characters running quietly rampant with the inherent flaws of humankind. The alternating stories of 'Then' and 'Now' thread together seamlessly, crafting suspense through the slow release of suggestions and the accompanying chills. As the reader learns more about each character, the mystery of The Girl Before becomes increasingly convoluted, surrounded by deception and gradually darkening until its thrilling conclusion. The depth of these characters allows the reader to feel their experiences and react viscerally to their vices. Their layered formation allows one to, if not sympathise with, at least understand the nature of these flawed beings.

The writing is solid, building the story with small, quick, steps into a crescendo of suspense. The similarities between the alternating stories unite the two narratives brilliantly, creating the connection between the two women and permeating their stories with recurring characters. That being said, the subtle difference between style and the slow release of information forks the narratives elegantly, allowing each to take on their own life as the novel gains momentum.

Absolutely loved it from start to finish, as can be assumed from my finishing it in a single day. There's not too many novels these days that sink their claws in quite like this one did!

Highly recommend for fans of suspense and an absolute must for anyone who enjoyed The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl. Get it as soon as it hits shelves - this one is going to be big!

RE:The Girl Before by J P Delaney

Have you read this month's He Said She Said? I'm reading it at the moment and loving it.

One to look out for later in the year is Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica. I read it in a single sitting over the weekend and it was so, so good. I had a couple of issues with the story overall, but I raced through it to get to the end!

RE:The Girl Before by J P Delaney

I've seen He Said She Said floating about but haven't got my hands on a copy yet! I'll add that other one to my to-read list as well! I love books that I can smash through in one or two sittings. Crime/thriller in particular, because it always leaves me thinking about it after I'm done.

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Not the Brightest Bear in the Woods, but certainly.......

one of the funniest and most well known! Shepard's Winnie the Pooh is known to almost all kids in the Western world. And so,  Shepard's War : The Man Who Drew Winnie The Pooh(compiled by James Campbell) gives the reader an insight into the little known world of the illustrator's Great War service. This lavishly illustrated book shows Shepard as a frontline officer on the Western Front and a good selection of drawings he did, detailing daily life of soldiers in watercolours and pencil sketches. Like so many artists, poets and writers he took part in  and witnessed the slaughter that was to claim the lives of a generation(  those who survived, C S Lewis and Tolkein were among them),  Shepard saw action at The Somme, Arras and worse of all, Passchendaele. He survived the horrors  of warfare to live a long life and drew his fabulously-funny, honey-loving bear Winnie the Pooh and Friends. And Wind in The Willows. Lewis produced his Screwtape Letters, Tolkein his Hobbit and consequently, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, A A Milne, also of Pooh Bear fame, Bruce Bairnsfather of Fragments of France with his Old Bill, Shephard, his adorable Bear, Winnie....Sometimes we need to take a break from the madness of the bloodbath slaughter and bring ourselves back to the nicer things that came  out of creators who were involved in the War. Shepard's War is a hardback book, beautifully illustrated and informative. I love this volume and am glad to have it in my collection. Available now.

RE:Not the Brightest Bear in the Woods, but certainly.......

I hate to tell you this, but that's pretty much the story for ALL colleges - ivy league or not. I went on a work study scholarship (along with student loans and another scholarship...I didn't have a free ride). The work study money paid for my used textbooks. I had zero social life but I didn't cry about it. I worked my butt off and monetary rewards came later. Stop whining and study. I missed meals frequently because I was too busy working 2 jobs, studying and tutoring. Nowadays students have and correspondingly more freedom of choice than ever before.

All things rural with Cathryn Hein

So I never would have considered myself to be a ruro (rural romance) sort of person, but I picked up Cathryn Hein's new release The Falls and I've hardly put it down over the past 24 hours. I'm just discovering the wonder that is Cathryn's writing, and fortunately for me this is book #5 for her (#6 if you cound her non ruro The French Prize) so I can see many happy reading hours in my future.

Anyone else out there a fan?

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