For those of us that have been waiting with baited breath, the ninth instalment in John Flanagan’s popular Ranger’s Apprentice series, Halt’s Peril (PB $16.95), is finally here.
In this adventure, Ranger Halt, his apprentice Will and the young knight Horace follow Outsider cult leader Tennyson and his converts as they flee Clomnel for Araluen. Having escaped punishment for crimes committed in Clomnel, including the murder of Halt’s brother and king of Clomnel, Ferris, Tennyson needs to be stopped before he can cause any more damage. In order to prevent Tennyson deceiving any more unsuspecting villagers, Halt, Will and Horace must penetrate not only the band of thieves and thugs he employs to do his dirty work, but also the two remaining Genovesan assassins. The assassins provide a formidable opponent, a fact confirmed when the seemingly infallible Halt is injured in tense battle. As Halt’s life hangs in the balance, it’s up to Will and Horace to save him. Will rides for three days straight and manages to capture one of the frightening assassins but can he make it back before it’s too late?
John Flanagan started writing these books because he was concerned his teenage son wasn’t reading enough, so he wrote about knights, kings and battles and when his son came back asking for more, he thought perhaps he was onto something. I just happen to agree and have a deep affection for this series and as ever, this latest tale delivers great adventure with characters you can love.
With food so seriously on the menu, fabulous new cookbooks are dropping like flies, so get busy!
Manna from Heaven by Rachel Grisewood (HB $60) is one of the most beautiful cookbooks of the year. With its focus on cooking for the people you love, the recipes are designed to be cooked in your home kitchen and with friends and family at your table. With charmingly written introductions to chapters like Tea & Sympathy, full of tea-time bites, this book is food from the gods indeed.
Donna Hay’s cookbooks have been the go-to guides for Australian cooks for years. Her latest offering Seasons (PB $50), has the same delicious and easy to follow recipes, and is divided, not unpredictably, into four sections, each containing food perfect for cooking and eating in one particular season. Following nature in this way and using produce when it is at its best will mean the food you cook will suit the weather and your mood – the plum and chocolate clafouti would be my autumn pick and the fig and goat’s cheese tart perfect for a summer lunch.
I know we’ve all heard of this novel already – after all, it did win the Booker Prize last year! – but I just wanted to remind everyone what an amazing story it is, and to urge anyone who hasn’t already read it to give it a go.
Told in a series of letters to His Excellency Wen Jiabao at the Premiers office in Beijing, it is the life story of Balram Halwai, the “White Tiger”, and his rise to become a wealthy entrepreneur. Born into dire poverty (his parents were too busy working to name him, so he was called “boy” until his teacher gave him a proper name!), Balram grows up in the squalor and indignity of the lower castes. He is ambitious, however, and wants a better life, but soon realises he will have to resort to unconventional measures to claw his way out of “the Darkness”.
Adiga paints a searing and completely unromanticised picture of the life of the poor in India, and the corruption at all levels of bureaucracy. It is a measure of the skill of the writer that the novel does not feel depressing or heavy, with moments of great humour and unexpected beauty.
Compelling, intelligent, original and brilliantly written, I thought this book was a fantastic read. $24.95. Fiona
Two years ago a terrific ‘scanimation’ book called Gallop was released. it had pictures which moved as you opened the page, so the animals all galloped. Last year there was Kick and now we have the new one Waddle. It is of different animals waddling if it’s the penguin or duck, or slithering if it’s the snake. The last page is a crocodile snapping. Great fun, and a simple but clever idea. For kids of all ages. Hardback, $24.95
Tristan is a 14-yr-old orphan who has been raised by the monks at St. Alban’s Abbey. The monks are kind but Tristan longs for more adventure than the Abbey can offer. When a group of the Knights Templar make a stop at the Abbey, Sir Thomas is impressed with Tristan’s hard work and quick thinking. He offers Tristan a job as his squire and realising this might be the chance he’s been waiting for, Tristan leaves his home to learn the ways of a knight.
Sir Thomas and Tristan travel to the Holy Land together, and during the siege of Acre, Sir Thomas gives his squire one last order. The Knights Templar are falling but are sworn to battle until the end, so it becomes Tristan’s task to carry the Holy Grail, the most sacred Christian relic of all time, to safety.
Set in the 1100’s, during Richard the Lionheart’s reign, this well written tale has history, intrigue and adventure – the very best new kid’s series this year.
The Youngest Templar #1: Keeper of the Grail (PB $15) by Michael P. Spradlin, has just arrived instore today. Recommended for boys 11+.
It isn’t always possible to sit down with a book. You might be going on a car journey for example. In which case, how about considering and audiobook. There are many great titles available, for all age groups. They are particularly good for keeping children occupied on a long car journey, and there are many titles that will not drive the adults mad!!! Give one a go on your next car trip. We stock mainly the Bolinda range and they vary in price from $16.95-$39.95 Heather
It’s Useful to Have a Duck by Isol (HB with slipcase $15)
A boy finds a duck and discovers he can be used in many different ways, as a hat, as a nose, even as a bath plug. Then the same story is retold from the duck’s point of view and as a hat he can see the view, as a nose he pretends to be a gargoyle and as a bath plug he sleeps. The unusual concertina format makes this little book interesting as well as cuter than cute.
For a great present idea, match with this cute duck pen that quacks! $6.50
Septimus Heap #5: Syren by Angie Sage (HB $28)
The fifth installment in this terrifically successful series has just dropped. The series follows Septimus on his adventures after he is stranded on a beautiful but strange island and encounters darke spells and other magykal goings-on.
For a limited time only, receive a free eco-bag when you purchase Syren.
Keith Richards can really play guitar. As it turns out, he also has quite a way with words. What Would Keith Richards Do? by Jessica Pallington West (PB $20) is filled with quotes and insights from the rock ‘n’ roll survivor. With chapters like Keithism: The twenty-six ten commandments of Keith Richards, and Prophetwear: Urban guru fashion & style, and even a recipe for his mum’s shepherd’s pie (apparently the only thing Keith could eat 365 days of the year) this book is funny, interesting and actually rather brilliant. Perhaps best of all is Keith’s insight on friendship – “Mick’s rock. I’m roll.” A truly top present for rock fans and music lovers.
For an ideal gift, match with these animal ear buds so the receiver can listen to The Stones as well as learn from one of them! $19.95
Michael Connelly is back with a new Harry Bosch book, which will please many of you fans out there. This time, a robbery gone wrong, sees Harry and his partner getting involved with the Triads. Harry’s daughter and ex wife get caught up in the drama, and Harry travels to Hong Kong, where they live to sort it out. Action packed, and Harry is tested in lots of new ways. A great read. Paperback, $33. Heather
The droll and wise Don Watson has produced another of his books which make you stop and thing about how language is used. He makes the absurdities of management/politics/finance speak seem even sillier than it seemed when you first heard it.
Going forward, you definitely need to redefine your core values with the aid of the communication strategies preponderant in this book. Have fun, Heather. Hardback $32.95
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series has become really popular with young boys. They are funny, which is a nice change from a lot of other books, which can be either fantasy or a sort of young James Bond story. ng. They are easy to read and appeal to good readers, but they are also a great way to get those reluctant readers going. In fact a parent of a ten year old boy with learning difficulties said the hospital where he is an out patient recommended them as an entertaining read, appropriate for his abilities. And, pleasingly, he loved them. There are are four in the series, with an additional book that accompanies them. They are all $14.95 Heather