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

Sunday, 26 March 2017

History Is All You Left Me

History is All You Left Me is an honest and raw account about first love and loss. Griffin's first love, Theo, has died in an accident and Griffin is bereft.

The last person he expects will help him through the haze is Theo's boyfriend Jackson and has Griffin and everyone around him confused. Added to that, Griffin's OCD is becoming worse.

Told in alternating times before, during and after Griffin's relationship with Theo, the emotion and honesty portrayed by Griffin is breathtaking.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Review: The Recorded Poems of Och Aye the G'nu

It’s a joy when a new and unique book comes across my desk, and The Recorded Poems of Och Aye the G’nu was just that; a delight to read and listen to.

With a bonus CD, The Recorded Poems of Och Aye the G’nu is a collection of rhythmically rhyming, zany and entertaining short stories written by Jimmy Barnes and collaborated with bestselling children’s group - The Wiggles.

Review: Down The Line

Tennis is the third challenge in The Legend Series. Will Mitchell Grady add the tennis trophy to his list of achievements? He has competition in Bryce Flavel, brainy but with a small body. Can Bryce prove that size doesn’t matter? Then there’s Mitchell’s best friend, Jack. All are working hard to win against incorrigible bully Travis Fisk.

Travis gets away with everything because his father, the local butcher, sponsors all the school sports with his barbeques. This puts father and son above the law in a significant way. It adds sharp corners to the happenings as the why, seeps through the story.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Review: Lucy's Book

Lucy from Lucy's Book is pretty much me as a kid. I loved going to the library with my family to select the next lot of books to devour.

I pretty much spent all my spare time as a kid and a teen (and alright, now as an adult) with my head stuck firmly in a book, and I actually recall my father telling me that I 'read too much' (obviously he is a ridiculous man, as there really is no such thing!).

Right from the stunningly beautiful book-lined library shelves on the front cover, through to the gorgeous books raining down on the end papers, and all the divinely detailed and busy illustrations in between, Lucy's Book has set my librarian heart aflutter, sent a tingle up my book nerd spine, and immediately transported me 20 years back, deep into childhood nostalgia territory.

Review: Zeroes

Although Zeroes gives you six teenagers with supernatural ability and a series of high action scenes involving baddies and life or death decisions, this is not a classic super hero tale.

Each chapter focusses on a different teenager with odd powers and, as the story builds, the twisted web that draws them together strengthens, as does the story's pace.

Ethan, known as Scam, has a voice inside him he can't control, one that says whatever it needs to get what he wants, even if it means alienating everyone Ethan cares about. Crash can literally melt every powered unit in her vicinity. Flicker is blind but sees through the eyes of those around her. Bellwether can twist the thoughts of people in a crowd to his own way of thinking. My favourite is Anon whose strength is his ability not to be noticed but his power is so strong, even his family can't remember him.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Young Adult Fiction - March New Releases

Here's some exciting Young Adult Fiction new releases for March (and a couple from the very end of Feb). We're still making our way through some and have read others (see review links). Hope you enjoy them too! Happy reading.

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 9781471146183.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Walker Books, $17.99, 9781406372151. See our review.

Frogkisser by Garth Nix, Allen & Unwin, $19.99, 9781760293512.

The Song Rising, The Bone Season Series Book 3 by Samantha Shannon, Bloomsbury Publishing, $24.99, 9781408879726.

Mr Romanov's Garden in the Sky, by Robert Newton, Penguin Books, $17.99, 9780143309307. see our review.

The Things We Promise by JC Burke, Allen & Unwin, $19.99, 9781760290405. See our review.

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan, Bloomsbury Publishing, $17.99, 9781408878866. See our review.

Meet the Illustrator: Kym Langfield

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less
Fun, playful, whimsical, magical, colourful, imaginative, sweet, funny.

What items are an essential part of your creative space?
Watercolour paints, brushes (a range of sizes but especially sizes 4, 8 and my teeny-tiny Winsor & Newton brush), mechanical pencil, eraser, fineliners (size 0.1 - grey, black and brown), Prismacolour pencils, good quality watercolour paper, photographs and children's books for inspiration - oh and most definitely, chai tea!

Do you have a favourite artistic medium?
Watercolour. I love how versatile and surprising it is. I enjoy adding salt, extra splashes of colour and water and using the wet-on-wet technique. I gasp and giggle as the paint works it's own magic, it's wonderful fun!

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Freya Blackwood, Anna Walker and Janet & Allan Ahlberg

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Review: Zoo Boy and the Jewel Thieves

Vince, the Zookeeper’s son, has a special gift. He can talk to the animals in the zoo that backs onto his house.

Mrs Footlecrannoch (there are lots of words like this) has been robbed of all her expensive jewellery. There is a reward. Vince overhears, and is determined to find the culprit and reap the reward of as much Swiss roll as he can eat.

But this sleuth cannot work alone. He interviews and enlists animals from the zoo that have specific talents ideal for such a project. So the role of lookouts and sidekicks are quickly filled.

Review: First Words - French (Lonely Planet Kids)

I've always wanted to learn French. It has been one of those desires that I've never actively pursued, but always assumed that one day I will magically find the time to do.

Receiving a copy of the Lonely Planet Kids: First Words: French has gotten me one tiny step closer to realising this desire, at least for the 100 words included in this clever little book!

Designed to look like a chunkier and slightly larger format version of the ever popular Lonely Planet phrase books, Lonely Planet Kids: First Words: French is a gorgeous travel or home companion for any kid from three (to 33!) who wants to learn the most basic (and likely practical) words of this beautiful language.

Jack and Mia

When Mia moves next door and into Jack's life, they become the best of friends. They do everything together. They even get sick together. But then Mia's family moves far away, leaving Jack forlorn and lonely.

It's a familiar enough scenario, right? But this is a tale of friendship with a modern twist and, through the power of technology, Jack and Mia find a way to continue their friendship. This internet-driven method of communication allows the friends to laugh and play and imagine, just as before.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Review: The Catawampus Cat

I had never heard the phrase 'catawumpus' until I read this book. And I love learning new words. It sounded so evocative, so I spent a short time guessing what it might mean.

Naughty? Unusual? Independent? A city-dweller? I was intrigued.

And I'm hoping this is how kids feel when they read the title of this book. For the record, this is how the dictionary defines it:

12 Curly Questions with author Michelle Morgan

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I wrote songs before I started writing novels or plays.

2. What is your nickname?
As a child, my father used to call me Bloss – short for Blossoms in the Dust. I loved playing outdoors and was a bit of a tomboy.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Jumping out of a plane, unless I have to.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Gentle humour, character-driven, with pathos and drama.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Hard-working, sensitive, playful, imaginative, persistent.