'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Review: Midnight at the Library

Oh my. This book took my breath away. It is so special and so stunning that I welled up with emotion. I collect old books and I love to imagine the journeys some of my books have undertaken, through history and across the world, to land in my possession in this day and time.

This is a picture book that not only sparks imagination, but makes you consider the path a book might take through history, from humble beginnings, across time, across countries, through wars and conflicts, hidden and protected, as a sacred and special artefact.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Review: Amal Unbound

Despite being a girl in a small Pakistani village, Amal dreams of becoming a teacher.

But she finds out the hard way that the smallest of incidents can derail dreams. And that life isn't fair. Especially when the local landlord uses his money and power to suffocate hope.

Amal understands there are rules in her world, but she doesn't always realise the cost she might face if she breaks them. Her belief in her rights leads to misfortune after misfortune.

Even when she recognises the dangers, her wish for freedom and justice push her to act, regardless of the consequences.

Aisha Saeed has created an authentic story about what could still be happening in remote Pakistani villages today.

By doing so, she let me feel the chill of absolute dread when Amal's landlord unleashed.

10 Quirky Questions with author Susannah McFarlane


1.What's your hidden talent? 
 I’m not sure. I fear it’s hidden from me as well …

2.Who is your favourite literary villain and why? 
The Cat in the Hat – came in uninvited, completely trashed the house, traumatised the kids (not to mention the fish) – but with what exuberance and joy! And, to give him his due, he did redeem himself with Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Review: Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush

If you’re a fan of Aussie stories filled with Australian lingo and Aussie settings, Bruno the Boisterous Blue Dog from the Bush is for you.

The story is about Bruno the dog and his best mate Bob (the barefoot bushie). Bruno and Bob share a broken down house in the bush. They go everywhere together. They do everything together. They’re best mates.

When they strike it lucky at the races, they head off to see what the rest of Australia has to offer. They experience new places and enjoy the fancy delights of city living. 

Review: The Mulberry Tree

Ten-year-old Immy and her family have moved from Australia to a tiny village in the English countryside to escape personal problems that threaten their family structure.   

Immy’s dad, a GP, is unemployed and suffering from depression after an incident with one of his patients that leaves him bent under the weight of his guilt and regret. Her mother, a surgeon, has taken a job at the local hospital. Immy is starting a new school which she is looking forward to.

It is Lavender Cottage, the house they have rented for a year that is the problem. To Immy, it is the perfect place. But a mystery surrounds the dark and gnarled Mulberry tree with its claw-like branches in the yard, and has for many decades. 

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Review: Tropical Terry

Welcome to Coral Reef City, home to the flashiest, prettiest tropical fish in the entire ocean and to Terry, the blue fish.

Terry is a blue fish, who along with Cilla, the sea crab and Steve, the sea snail spend their days playing games of dodge a dolphin, hide a fish and shark speed. 

But when he asks the tropical fish if they would like to play with them, they inform Terry that their games are stupid and he is dull and boring.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Review: There's a Baddie Running Through This Book

The baddie in There's a Baddie Running Through This Book is a raccoon, and he's on the run.

Raccoon is chased through the story, along the street, past cars, up and down ladders ... he's everywhere.

The narrative draws readers in, encouraging them to 'Turn the pages, have a look!' and follow the baddie as he tries to escape.

Other characters are part of the backdrop, and though not named, are made part of the story through the illustrations.

Review: Catching Teller Crow


Beth Teller has hovered near her dad ever since her car accident. She can't bring herself to leave until she knows he is okay.

Her dad is on a new case, one his boss hopes will bring him back from his overwhelming grief, but he needs Beth to help him put the pieces together.

A home for challenging children has burnt down. The kids are all safe but a body is found inside. Isobel Catching might know more than she is letting on but she answers questions by telling made-up stories. Or does she?

This enthralling tale swirls between life and death and the real and what is beyond as it explores innocence betrayed and those who are stuck.

It's creepy at times and borders on terrifying if you can read between the lines.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Giveaway: Lenny's Book of Everything

Thanks to the fantastic people at Allen & Unwin Children's Books and to celebrate the release of award-winning author, Karen Foxlee's latest novel, we have two copies of Lenny's Book of Everything to giveaway.

Lenny’s Book of Everything is a big-hearted novel about love and letting go. It tells the story of Lenny, and her younger brother Davey who won’t stop growing – he has a rare form of gigantism – and at seven is as tall as a man.

Raised by their single mother, who works numerous jobs and is made almost entirely out of worries, they have an ‘us against the world’ mentality, gradually chipped away as Davey’s health deteriorates.

The high point in their week is the arrival of the latest issue of Burrell's Build-It-at-Home-Encyclopedia, through which Lenny and Davey experience the wonders of the world.

Review: Power to the Princess

Power to the Princess cover
Power to the Princess is a compilation of 15 well-known fairy tales retold with a focus on the passions and actions of each princess. It features diverse modern-day topics, families, environments and relationships while promoting female independence. This book shines with equality and truly beautiful people power.

Some of the stories in this anthology include Beauty and the Beast, retitled as Belle the Brave, The Little Mermaid and Snow White. Through these stories, topics such as ocean conservation, self-image, advocacy and equal love are featured. All of the stories present princesses as leaders while delivering the message that being kind, confident and intelligent is key to living happily ever after. Unlike some of the original versions, there are no pretty dresses or male heroes stealing the show.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Review: Outdoor Maker Lab

Looking for some fun and educational activities to do with the kids? Look no further than the fantastic Outdoor Maker Lab from DK! It infuses outdoor fun with science, so kids can conduct scientific experiments in their own backyard.

Each experiment uses everyday materials to create anything from enormous bubbles to gorgeous geodes to an anemometer. Kids will love building their own periscope or making a wormery, whilst learning about what they are and how they work.

The activities cover four main categories – nature watch, world of weather, water power and earth and sky. Each experiment contains detailed, easy to follow instructions, with photos of each step, an estimate of the time needed to undertake it, and suggested difficulty level.

Review: My Storee

At home the boy loves to write stories – about dragons, ogres, robotic pirates and anything else he can think of. His head is cluttered with untold tales that keep him awake until he gets them down on paper.

At school the red pen is his greatest enemy. It crosses out and corrects until his pages are a horrid mess of substitute words. The boy hates writing at school.

Then along comes Mr Watson; a teacher full of humour, colour and sound. He is interested and interesting, and engages all the children. He doesn’t care if kids can’t spell. He just wants them to write their stories. His own stories and animated blackboard art fill the classroom with laughter, enthusiasm and confidence. He encourages the children to express themselves in their own way.