These colourful blocks look just like Lego, but are in fact crayons. You can build with them, as well as colour. A neat multitasking indoor activity, perfect for cold mornings and wet afternoons. $9.95.
Monthly Archives: June 2012
Love and Hunger is by Charlotte Wood, who is a well known writer of fiction with some very good novels under her belt. She is also a keen cook and has had a food blog for some time called howtoshuckanoyster where she posts recipes and her thoughts on food. Her latest blog post is on being a dinner party guest, how to be a good one and pitfalls to avoid.
Love and hunger has chapters that cover why Charlotte enjoys cooking and sharing food, food fashions, musings on different aspects of food culture as well as plenty of recipes. One surprise to me was that Charlotte rarely uses butter. She keeps some in the freezer for the times when she needs it, but doesn’t use butter as a matter of course. My life would be much the poorer without butter, but maybe that partly explains why Charlotte is slim and I am not.
There is a chapter about picky eaters and phobia’s and another where Charlotte confronts something she was not comfortable with, offal. I dislike offal intensely, but her thoughtful words on the subject were very interesting, as well as entertaining. I am still not, and never will be an offal fan though, her writing isn’t THAT good.
Love and Hunger would be the perfect book for someone who is interested in food, but for whom you don’t necessarily want to give another cookbook. $30
Sure, we’ve all heard of the Dodo and the Woolly Mammoth, but what about the Glyptodon or the Tratratratra? This enthralling book takes us on a journey around the world to introduce us to some of the varied and extraordinary species that have now sadly become extinct. The book is divided into regions, with a map to show where the animals once lived. In addition to fascinating facts about each species and when they disappeared, the book includes the legends and folk tales that have built up around the vanished creatures, and lots of illustrations. As well as looking back at the distant past, the book reminds us that the Chinese River Dolphin became extinct as recently as 2007, and there are many other species that are gravely endangered – Lonesome George is the last remaining member of a subspecies of Galapagos tortoises that once inhabited Pinta Island. A gorgeous and informative book. Hardback, $28
The Tides are a family with some secrets which during the course of the book are revealed. It’s a slow reveal, and there are some surprises in store. At different times I was a bit concerned that the book was going to go too far with the pulling of heart strings, but never fear, the issues are dealt with very well.
Secrets of the tides covers quite a lot of territory, but it is all around guilt and the causes of that guilt. Two sisters are the main characters, Dora who is pregnant, in a happy relationship, but not quite allowing herself to feel she deserves such happiness because of an incident during childhood. Dora feels her mother has never forgiven her for it, and the ramifications lead to Dora’s sister, Cassie leaving home and shutting herself off from the rest of the family, and for the most part, the world.
The background is a fractious relationship between the girls’ parents who have had trouble dealing with the tragedy. Before that had happened however, there were already difficulties between them. One of the main causes of that is the house they live in, which carries the burden of the husband’s family history. Again, secrets are involved.
I don’t want to give away the plot, but be assured, you will want to keep reading, to find out what happened, and what happens next.
Secrets of the Tides is a debut novel, but it shows a lot of depth, and the writing is very good. This would be a good book group choice.
I actually can’t remember the last time a book brought me to tears…of laughter. It seems, to me, much easier or perhaps just more likely, for a book to bring you to any other kind of tears than those of laughter. I laughed pretty hard in Spoiled, the first book from Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan but in Messy the women behind the utterly hilarious gofugyourself.com have truly outdone themselves. Half the battle, or perhaps more than half, in young adult fiction is actually getting a kid to pick up a book. With the help of some genius cover art these books are the kind of books that kids will want to read because they’re fun and witty whilst still being meaningful and intelligent. Not every kid between 14 and 22 wants to read about children killing each other or magical lands of witchcraft and wizardry. When a phenomenon like The Hunger Games comes along its easy to just assume all children will love it, but lets not forget, science fiction isn’t for everyone. So for kids with less of an appetite for death and war, Spoiled and Messy provide a hugely entertaining and worthwhile alternative.
Brooke Berlin and Molly Dix were newly discovered half-sisters in Spoiled, a hilarious story of adolescent competitiveness, absentee parenting, friendship and looking beneath the surface. In Messy we’re still privileged to Brooke’s singular impression of life but this time the alternate view has swapped to Max McCormack. Max is the green-haired, snarky, sarcastic, fiercly intelligent principals daughter who also happens to be Molly’s best friend. Max is pretty much the anti-Brooke. She shops at H&M, if she has to, has an unemployed Dad who repurposes household appliances in an attempt to make new household appliances and she really, really, wants to go to a writing program at New York University over the summer. But she’s going to have to do it on her own dime and her current job has far too much toham* for her liking. So she ends up on Brooke’s payroll, ghost writing her blog OpenBrooke.
“See? I’m actually a scintillating and witty person,” Brook said. “I just don’t have time to write about it.”
The blog turns into an overnight success, exactly as Brooke planned of course, and things go great until…well maybe you should read it to find out. There’s boys and clothes, a movie set and a band named Mental Hygienist and it really needs to be read to be understood. But trust me, you will DIE of laughter. Repeatedly.
“…I got sucked into the vortex that is Brooke Berlin, basically. When we go anywhere together, I look like her Make-A-Wish kid. People seem disappointed when they find out I don’t have cancer.”
I mean really. These girls really know how to write a pop culture laden story about loyalty and growing up with their tongues firmly in their cheeks. Love it. Both books are in paperback for $17.
*Tofu + ham = toham. Seriously.
We are open all weekend. Saturday 9-5, Sunday 10-3 and Monday 10-3. See you sometime
by Robin Poke & Kevin Berry, HB $50.00
Take a good look back at our Summer and Winter Olympics history with this beautiful hardback book. 74 individual gold medalists are honoured in over 350 pages of photos and stories.
Each medalist has a career highlights and fast facts section along with brilliant photos of the event and victory. The story of their journey to Gold are wonderfully written by a variety of authors ranging from journalists to family members to the athletes themselves.
From our first modern Olympic Gold Medal in track in 1896 to Steve Hooker’s inspirational win in the High Jump to Lydia Lassila’s Winter Gold in 2010 this book cover it all. A must have for sports fans as we gear up for more Gold Medals in London this year!
This year’s shortlists for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards 2012 have recently been announced. The winners of each category will win $80,000, and all shortlisted authors win $5,000, making these awards Australia’s richest. The children’s shortlists cover a wide variety of styles and content, showcasing the brilliant breadth of writing in this country. Why not try some out?
Young Adult Fiction Shortlist
Being Here by Barry Jonsberg
Pan’s Whisper by Sue Lawson
When We Were Two by Robert Newton
Alaska by Sue Saliba
Children’s Fiction Shortlist
The Jewel Fish of Karnak by Graeme Base
Father’s Day by Anne Brooksbank
Come Down, Cat! by Sonya Hartnett, illustrated by Lucia Masciullo
Goodnight, Mice! by Frances Watts, illustrated by Judy Watson
Good luck to all!!
The first book I read by Adrian Hyland was his personal account of the Black Saturday fires in Victoria in January 2009. Kinglakd 350 was a moving and dramatic story not only of that days events, but of what had led up to it, and the aftermath of the catastrophe. More recently I have read Gunshot Road, which is a novel set in central Australia featuring a young woman Emily Tempest and her role with the police as an Aboriginal Community Police Officer. This role has its ups and downs, and often creates suspicion amongst both the white and black communities.
Emily is a terrific character, caring, smart and with a don’t mess with me attitude that gets her into and out of some tricky situations. She is variously helped and hindered by her white colleagues and her Aborignal friends and family as she attempts to solve the crime of murder, although the police think they have it sown up way before Emily does. Her perserverance puts her in danger and her unlikely partner in solving it is a wandering Chinese artist who has an unusual take on life.
There are no dazzling heroes in the book, but some fairly questionable attitudes and not just amongst the white police officers. Aspects of the local cultures add texture to the story, and are dealt with sensitively. I think Adrian Hyland is a writer who cares a lot, about his characters and their lives. He seems to have been diligent in his research, and it helps with understanding the motivations of some people.
A crime story that comes from a different angle than most, Gunshot Road is well worth a look. Emily Tempest was introduced in an earlier book, Diamond Dove, but I hadn’t read that, and don’t feel you have to read it first. $32.95