It’s that time of year when even the atheists among us celebrate the end of another year by seeking out gifts for our loved ones. Whether your celebrations are secular, religious or pagan, you may be looking for some ideas for gifts. (If you don’t celebrate Xmas, this list may help you for other festivals and birthdays. Also for unbirthdays and those times when you think, damnit, *I* need a present.)
You could visit Twelfth Planet Press and buy one of their excellent volumes. Publisher Alisa Krasnostein recently won a World Fantasy Award for her outstanding work with this small press. You could even splash out on a subscription to the entire Twelve Planets series. Bad Power is the most recent of the series. (My volume, Showtime, will be released in early 2012. It contains a Gary/Lissa story!)
If you’re a Melbourne local, you should locate one of the Melburnalia pop-up shops, where you can find items hand-crafted by your fellow citizens! Goods on offer include jewellery by the lovely Ali Alexander, delightful books from Arcade Publications, knitware, cycling accessories, tea, quirky buttons and, you know, neat stuff. The pop-up shops are at terrific Melbourne locations too, like Captains of Industry and the Parlour in the Nicholas Building. The shops are only open until Christmas Eve, so get there while you can! Find them on Twitter or Facebook for addresses and hours.
*Late addition* What was I thinking to have missed a link to Clan Destine Press? If you love Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher books, it might be time to branch out with her historical novels set in ancient Egypt and ancient Greece. Clan Destine also has crime books, including Lindy Cameron’s excellent actio thriller, Redback. Non-fiction, comic fantasy and the story of Dougal the kitten are also on the site.
You could also just go straight to Arcade Publications online to get a set of their wonderful little books about Melbourne. I can personally recommend Madame Brussells: This Moral Pandemonium, about Melbourne’s famous 19th century Madam, but there are books about E W Cole, Australia’s pin-up girls from the 60s and, recently, Australia’s first novelist, Henry Savery.
Other bookshops you should visit, online or in person, are:
- Embiggen Books, whose names comes from the Simpsons! And they have books about cool science as well as fiction. They stock some Twelfth Planet Press titles too, so show them some love. (I interviewed Warren a while back too.)
- Readers’ Feast, which is about to re-open at the old Georges building on Collins Street. We’ve missed them. Show them some love too.
- Of Science and Swords has moved to 377 Little Collins Street and now has a flatmate in Critical Hit. This means you can get great fantasy and SF books along with geek T-shirts and Angry Birds slippers.
- Oh, and Fablecroft are having a sale: impressive books, with award nominees among the stories.
Books I loved this year:
- The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins – not new, but brilliant. You may recall that I gobbled the trilogy up in five days. The film comes out next year, so get your friends and family into the book first! If they’ve already read The Hunger Games, I recommend The Girl WHo Was on Fire, a collection of excellent essays about the trilogy. Here’s my review of that book.
- A Most Pecular Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint is the first of her Inspector Singh series. Its great to read a crime novel set in another culture, written by a person from that culture. It’s a good choice for someone who likes their crime fic in foreign locales.
- The Shattering by Karen Healey – Karen Healey is doing some terrific work, and her second book is a fantasy set in contemporary NZ, with a multicultural cast and a sense of humour, as well as heart-stopping moments. This book deals with teen suicide and grief in ways both illuminating and sensitive. It’s also got magic, idyllic yet sinister small towns, wonderful textured characters and smart, pacy plotting.
- Melbourne by Sophie Cunningham is a love letter to Melbourne and a beautifully crafted object in its own right. Perfect for the Melburnite who has everything. Here’s my review.
Other books I loved this year (also set in Melbourne) were Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley and Madigan Mine by Kirstyn McDermott. The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do was another favourite, the well deserved Book of the Year winner.
Finally, it’s not out yet (but aha! I read an early version and I think it’s AMAZING!), Mary Borsellino’s new book, The Devil’s Mixtape, is due out on 15 December from Omnium Gatherum. In her trademark style, all sharp edges, crystal prose, horror, heart and compassion, The Devil’s Mixtape follows three threads: a girl writing letters to her sister from hell, a music journalist following a band on tour and a road trip in 1950s Australia. I can’t wait to get an official copy!
STOP PRESS 16122011: The Devil’s Mixtape e-book, published by Omnium Gatherum, is now availabe from Amazon.com for only US$3.99!! (It’s brilliant: review coming soon!)
Anyway, I hope you find some ideas there. And hell, it’s the time for indulgence, so why not buy yourself a present while you’re at it?
Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, iPhone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.