29 June 2010

Two for the price of...

...well, two actually.

What we really mean to say is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: One book, two films. And at last, the trailer for HP7 has been released!

Harry Potter. The boy who lived.
Voldemort. The Dark Lord who won't die.

It's not quite David and Goliath. Harry's wand is hardly as humble as David's slingshot. But then again Goliath didn't have the luxury of Horcruxes to help with the whole immortality business.

But with only one destiny between them, an epic cinematic showdown looms.

So epic, JK Rowling's final installment of the Harry Potter series has been made into two films. Of course, it was actually two books as well...

But back to the films. Part 1 will be released on 19 November 2010 and Part 2 on 15 July 2011. Bring. It. On. Or as Hank Green* would say: Accio Deathly Hallows.

Phoenix tears on a broken nose indeed.

*Vigilant readers would have noticed that we accidentally attributed this piece of genius to John Green (Hank's brother). Oops. Clearly we were still blinded by our love for John Green's Paper Towns, which we concede we read some time ago - but the love has lingered.

25 June 2010

Delighting your inner seven-year-old

Neil Gaiman's inner seven-year-old is as pleased as Punch. And with good reason. He certainly has more to be pleased about than Punch ever did.

Last night The Graveyard Book won the Carnegie Medal.

Neil does an excellent job of explaining just how big a deal this is.
"For my seventh birthday I was given a boxed set of the Narnia Books by CS Lewis. The last of them, 'The Last Battle' had the words 'Winner of the Carnegie Medal' on it. I did not know what the Carnegie Medal was, but I knew it was something important. It was the first literary award I had ever heard of. And if the Narnia books had won it, then it had to be the most important literary award there ever was. Somewhere deep inside me, but not too deep, a seven-year old version of me is amazed and delighted that he's written a book that was given the most important literary award there ever was. And nothing you can say about Bookers or Nobels or Pulitzers will convince him otherwise... I am glowing and beyond happy right now. Thank you world... and librarians."
So, his newly minted Carnegie Medal is sure to go straight to the pool room, where it will sit very handsomely beside his Newbery Medal.* Colour us impressed, Mr Gaiman. Colour us impressed!

And plenty of colourful cheers too for Freya Blackwood who won the Kate Greenaway Medal. Outstanding.

And while we're on the subject of cheers and colour and all things impressive. Here's to Julia Gillard. Australia's first female Prime Minister. We suspect her inner seven-year-old is amazed and delighted too. To celebrate this historic event Fiction Focus has posted a list of Top 10 female protagonists in recent Australian YA literature. What a good idea that is. We love a list. Wish we'd thought of it!

*It's the first time an author has won both these prestigious awards for the same book. Yep, pretty impressive.

23 June 2010

A nice plain chocolate cake

Regular readers will be well aware that many of the cakes in the Cake-maker Virtuoso's catalogue are fancy.

Fancy. Fancy. Fancy.

Sadly, one of the Onions has a palate that Jed Bartlet might characterise as plain-spoken*. And a plain-spoken palate is often challenged by a fancy cake. So sometimes the Cake-maker Virtuoso makes a nice plain chocolate cake that has no challenging bits in it.

Well, when we say a nice plain chocolate cake we mean a nice plain chocolate cake that has one whole cup of dutch cocoa and one and a half cups of expresso coffee and one and a half cups of buttermilk. And, in the ganache,** 680 grams of 70% dark chocolate and one and a half cups of heavy cream.

And we believe the nice plain chocolate cake that the Cake-maker Virtuoso chose to make is actually known on the internets as The most AMAZING buttermilk chocolate cake EVER.

Despite this unanticipated fancification of the nice plain chocolate cake, the plain-spoken palated Onion ate hers all up.

* Others might characterise it as picky.
** That's icing for you plain-spoken folk. Or frosting for you USians.

17 June 2010

A shout out to 'Singing My Sister Down'

Decision days. You know the ones. Those days that stop you in your tracks. Or propel you forward when you have stalled. Or keep you on track when you are contemplating a U-turn. The days where something really HAPPENS. Usually something unexpected, and when you cast your thoughts back to the time before the something happened, you wonder how differently life may have unfolded...

For me, Margo Lanagan's 'Singing My Sister Down' played the lead role in one of those days. It's the first story in Margo's superb collection of short stories, Black Juice.

To characterise 'Singing My Sister Down' as a gem is an understatement of grand proportions. It's a story that lures you in and then quietly tears you apart. It stays with you, haunting you with its beauty, its fine balance, and its breathtaking tragedy.

I first read it in manuscript form just over seven years ago. I was between jobs and toying with the idea of veering away from editing and into sports journalism. And then I read 'Singing My Sister Down'.

Everything else evaporated. It was a dramatic moment. I sat on the sofa in my friend's lounge room, with my recently reconstructed knee supported by a pile of pillows, and held the manuscript pages to my chest, and wept.

I read it again, hands shaking, eyes blurred. 'Singing My Sister Down' made it impossible for me to veer anywhere. It took hold of me and swept me into the House of Onion.

If you haven't read it, do. It may not be the catalyst for a decision day for you, but you won't ever forget it. Truly.

Thank you, Margo. For the gift of 'Singing My Sister Down', and everything that followed.

15 June 2010

Italian items

So Rebecca James's Beautiful Malice already has a few different faces in the world. Above are the Australian, the UK and the US covers. And now the Italian publishers have released this gorgeous book trailer.

So, now that we've whet your appetite for Katherine & Alice and all that malice - here's a tasty extract to fuel it further.

And speaking of appetites, our Onion in Italy reports that the bookshelves in the book stores of Rome have a healthy appetite for the paranormal and are happily harbouring nests of vampires.*

In other news, our Onion in Italy, and her travelling companion, have taken time out from their tour of Roman book stores to sneak off to Venice. We concede we are a little envious.**

* We suspect this is the case in book stores the world over. We don’t blame Mr Cullen et al. We blame Buffy.
** We also concede that we did request that photos be made available for vicarious holiday-making, so we are most grateful to Tom Item for sharing in this manner.

10 June 2010

Quince & Custard Cake - Reprise

We have mentioned before that we are spoiled rotten in matters of cake-appreciation.

In fact sometimes it seems we never shut up about it. Some might even say we are cake braggarts. And it's a truth universally acknowledged that (as my grandmother was fond of insisting) braggartism is always unseemly. So really, we should know better. And it seems we are soon to get our comeuppence - another word my grandmother was fond of using, often accompanied by raised eyebrows, a curt nod of her head and a knowing set to her mouth as she proclaimed that a certain young lady would soon get her comeuppance, you mark my words.

And our comeuppance? Well, the Cake-maker Virtuoso is soon leaving our shores to swan about in far and foreign lands. This is wonderful news for her (obvs), but sadly it will leave us somewhat bereft of cake.* Sigh.

In the meantime, she has once again performed magnificently, with a reprise of one of our favourite cakes first introduced to the House of Onion by the cake-maker extraordinaire who now bakes for that flightless flock, due east as the cocky flies.

And on that occasion we were lucky enough to secure the cake recipe - so you too can try your hand at plating up this most delicious of desserts.**

Comments overheard after cake consumption:
'A triumph!'
'Perfect amount of cardamom.'
'Am I allowed to have a second slice?'
You may notice that the cake in the photo already has a slice removed from it. This was not intentional. It seems one over-eager Onion couldn't wait for the cake hour and helped herself to a slice while nobody was looking...

* It remains to seen if any other Onion will embrace their inner cake-maker and step up to the challenge of Thursday cakes. We have our fingers crossed and our tastebuds on standby for what will soon be known as Guinea Pig Thursday.
** Be warned, there is a good deal of preparation and cooking time involved. Read the recipe carefully before embarking on this culinary adventure. Pot-roasted quinces will happen, but it might be overnight.

09 June 2010

Read warm

While it may be summer in some parts of the world* it's cold in the House of Onion today. Cold, cold, cold. And we are all shivering in our boots.

It's the kind of day when you just want to snuggle up in bed with a book. Or curl up on your favourite chair, or sink into the sofa, or flop in front of an open fire... And in the happy event that you are able to do just that and you are casting around for a book to read, we thought we could help out, so we polled the Onions to find out what books were at the top of their to-read piles this week.
Loving Richard Feynman by Penny Tangey

Need by Carrie Jones

Paris City Guide by Lonely Planet**

Ghost Hunter by Michelle Paver

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Digital Typography - An Introduction to Type and Composition for Computer System Design by Richard Rubinstein

Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby

The Gourmet by Muriel Barbery

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

Two for Sorrow by Nicola Upson (advance reading copy)

Scatterheart by Lili Wilkinson

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper

So, read warm. Read well.

* We see you there Rome with your clear skies and your 28 degrees. *waves to travelling Onion*
** Ahem. It seems we'll be waving to an Onion in Paris in the very near future.

04 June 2010

Optimism springs eternal

It's a hive of activity in the House of Onion.

Books are zinging off to the printer (and fingers are being crossed),
bound proofs are being (thoroughly) checked,
cover files are being (speedily) FTPed,
box sets are being (beautifully) designed (oh the excitements!),
editorial letters are being (thoughtfully) composed,
page proofs are being (painstakingly) scrutinised,
production schedules are being (nervously) consulted,
cake is being (enthusiastically) consumed,
artwork is being (appreciatively) received,
advance copies of books are being (delightedly) approved,
authors are being (warmly) encouraged,
meetings are being (diligently) attended,
design briefs are being (creatively) prepared,
holidays are being (eagerly) anticipated (or envied),
endpaper options are being (animatedly) discussed,
reprints are being (happily) ordered,
manuscripts are being (avidly) read,
time is being (optimistically) managed,
adverbs are being (unashamedly) overused...

and sometimes we have to be reminded to breathe.

Which puts us in mind of this timely* piece of wisdom about eternal editorial optimism from Editorial Anonymous. Which is heartening. Which helps us to (quietly) catch our breath, which leads us to (glowingly) appreciate our good fortune at working in this made-of-awesome industry, which makes us (loudly) celebrate the joy of being an Onion**.

* Timely? Timeless? Perhaps both are appropriate here...
** Or a lolephant.

01 June 2010

Spotted in the House

Mr Chicken might be in Paris, but Lulu was in the House of Onion.

We love an office dog - even when we only get to borrow it very briefly. We're not sure what would happen if Lulu met Old Tom. It's probably for the best that Mr Hobbs is standing between them.

Mr Hobbs and Lulu weren't the only exciting things in the House yesterday. There were also...


Chocolate and orange, and saffron and vanilla, and liquorice ones.
The Cake-maker Virtuoso is getting very accomplished at these, thanks to this lovely book and the benefactress who sent it along.