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What To Do in the School Holidays…

Normally our recommendations are book and reading focussed, but in honour of the school holidays I thought we would focus on some of the great craft and activity sets and activity and travel  books that are in stock. Usborne have a fantastic range of stickerbooks, activity books and we always have lots in stock, but did you know they also have jigsaw puzzles? A great one for the younger members of the family are the Book & Jigsaw Puzzle set of Fairy Tales such as Little Red Riding Hood. Only 30 pieces it is the perfect starter set. Back into more traditional Usborne territory is the always popular 200 Paper Planes to fold and fly. Learn all about paper plane theory to fold the beautifully illustrated papers contained within. The book has 200 tear-out sheets and then you can choose to make it into a dart, coaster, bug, mantis, jet, shuttle or glider for hours of fun family competition. Another fun game for all the family are the various Bingo Games we have in store – dog, bird, monkey or cat. All are beautifully illustrated. The bird version has found a happy home at my house and we’ve had a great time learning about everything from a splendid fairywren to a puffin.

Lonely Planet are world famous for their travel books, but they also have a great range of kids activity books related to travel. My Holiday Scrapbook is a great one for your kids to collect and keep their own memories of the trips they go on and Boredom Buster – Games for the Road have plenty of activities to distract from the inevitable ‘Are We There Yet?’ from the backseat of the car.

And last one is for the budding artists out there – How To Draw Almost Everything For Kids – An Illustrated Sourcebook by wellknown Japanese illustrator Nao Sakamoto. Full of tips and gorgeous illustrations, this book has instructions to draw people, places, clothes, animals, borders and almost everything you can think of. A really lovely book.

 

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The wait is almost over – an invitation to visit at the 104-Storey Treehouse

Fairfield Books has been counting down the days for the arrival of Andy Griffith’s and Terry Denton’s 104-Storey Treehouse and tomorrow (Tuesday 10 July) it is released. This crazy, wonderful hilarious series has been delighting children (and their parents) since 2011 with the release of The 13-Storey Treehouse. Back then the Treehouse was a relatively simple affair with a man-eating shark tank, bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a giant catapult, a secret underground laboratory and a marshallow machine that follows you around and shoots marshmallows into your mouth whenever you’re hungry. It has grown exponentially since then, 13 storeys at a time, and has become famous all around the world. We stock all Treehouse books with the first at a special price of $4.99, as well as a range of Andy Griffith’s other titles. I can’t wait to see what madcap adventure Andy, Terry, Jill and her flying cats get up to in this new adventure. So in the words of Andy Griffiths – ‘What are you waiting for? Come on up!’

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Bye Bye Plastic Bags

Single use plastic bags are disappearing from our supermarkets and there are calls for changing Dry July to trying to go for a month plastic-free. Want to declare a war on waste but don’t know where to start? Two great new books have just arrived in store to help you out. Erin Rhoad’s Waste Not – Make A Big Difference by Throwing Away Less is a practical guide to tackling waste at your own pace. Erin is otherwise known as The Rogue Ginger and has been blogging about this issue for a number of years and has now reduced her garbage bin to an old coffee jar. Tackling everything from our kitchens to little people and furry friends, this is a one-stop guide for changing your lifestyle.

Will McCallum is Head of Oceans at Greenpeace UK. His book How to Give Up Plastic is a guide to changing the world, one plastic bottle at a time and we really need to. Around 12.7 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean every year, killing over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals. By 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish, by weight. This book is full of small changes that can make a big difference – for example wash your clothes in a wash bag to catch plastic microfibres which is the cause of 30% of plastic pollution in the ocean. Read it for lots of other tips that won’t cost the earth and might just save it.

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Rachel Cusk – My New Favourite Author

Occasionally you read an author and want to rush out and read their entire backlist. I read Rachel Cusk’s new novel Kudos on the weekend after a customer in the shop recommended it to me and have immediately tracked down the rest of the ‘series’, Outline and Transit to devour. Kudos follows a novelist travelling to a writer’s event and it captures long conversations she has with people on the way and that’s the plot. It hardly sounds gripping and yet I was fascinated. The stories they told, the insights into life given, had me tagging page after page to come back to think about it all again. Cusk wields her pen like a scalpel on herself, motherhood, marriage, humanity in general,to give an example from her earlier book Outline “these writers he had worshipped as the artists of our time were in fact cold and unempathetic people devoted to self-promotion and above all else, money.” This is an accusation that has been made about Cusk herself in relation to some of her non-fiction that forensically mined the breakdown of her marriage.  Rusk’s prose is cool and her protagonist more ready to listen rather than talk, but she, like Cusk, is a gimlet-eyed observer who misses nothing.

Rachel Cusk is Canadian born, lives in England, and is a real writer’s writer with this trilogy garnishing praise from just about everyone. The New Yorker described Cusk as renovating the novel with these series with fiction melding beautifully with oral history and other critics have drawn parallels with Karl Ove Knasguard. I would suggest that fans of My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout and Kazuo Ishiguro, particularly his most difficult book The Unconsoled, would love this book. I think it is almost perfect and can’t wait to keep reading more.

 

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Recommendations from Eve (aged 9) – Find Your Kid’s New Favourite Book

At Fairfield Books we regularly get asked recommendations for the 8-12 age group so I thought I’d actually get some recommendations from someone in that age group for you. Eve loves reading especially books that are exciting adventures and/or funny and all the books below would be suitable for girls and boys alike. Below is her own review of The Rogues by Lian Tanner, a book and author that we really like at Fairfield Books.

‘Lord Rump and his granddaughter, Duckling, find themselves in a bad situation involving money. Lord Rump makes a daring plan to steal a fortune…

I really enjoyed this book because there was so much suspense that I couldn’t put it down!! The plot was well set up and planned. The only thing I didn’t like was the chapters were too short (I wanted to keep on reading) and finishing the book. I can’t wait until the next instalment. This would be a great book for 9 – 12 ages girls and boys.’

Other books that Eve has recently enjoyed include the set of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett. This series, originally published in 1999, has had a renaissance with a new Netflix series, and really deserves it. 13 books in the series and beautifully presented in a set of lovely little hardbacks, is a witty, darkly humourous tale involving three very unlucky children – the Baudelaire siblings who lead lives filled with misery and woe.

The Tom Gates series by L.Pichon, the first of which won the Roald Dahl Prize for Funny Books, is a great book for reluctant readers as it is filled with Tom’s picture doodles across every page. This is a laugh out loud series involving Tom, his older sister Delia, his arch enemy Marcus Meldrew and quite a few run ins with his teacher. Great for them to read on their own or share the humour at bedtime reading.

And lastly is the Amulet series of graphic novels by Kazu Kibuishi. Graphic novels are becoming more and more popular and this one is already been seen as a classic. Emily and her family moves to an ancestral home to start a new life. On the first night her mother is kidnapped by a tentacled creature and it is up to Em and her brother Navin to save Mum and set things right. Graphic novels can be a great bridge for a reluctant reader to get started on and we are already seeing popular novel series such as Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl and Baby-sitters Club getting graphic novel editions.

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Not to be missed – Non-Fiction

It has already been a great year for Australian non-fiction with the publication of Heather Morris‘s The Tattooist of Auschwitz and the award winning The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein. Here’s a couple more to add to the list – For all those non-fiction lovers there are a couple of great new Australian titles you should check out. Small Wrongs – How We Really Say Sorry in Love, Life and Law explores the fascinating topic of remorse and how it fits into the criminal justice system. Reminiscent of Helen Garner’s work about our courts, Kate Rossmanith explores human nature in times of crisis and suffering but also in the personal of her own life as a new mum and with a marriage that has hit turbulence.

Another Australian title, Eggshell Skull  takes its name from the legal doctrine that a defendant must ‘take their victim as they find them’ but the victim here, author Bri Lee, a policeman’s daughter and lawyer, is strong, articulate accuser who knows the law and is determined to improve the system for all the other victims, in particular women who suffer sexual assault. An important story. 

The final book is an English title, Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry which has just won the prestigious Rathbones Folio Prize. On 11 March 2011, a massive earthquake sent a 120 foot high tsunami smashing into the coast of north-east Japan. By the time the sea retreated, more than 18,500 lives had been lost. This is Japan’s greatest single loss of life since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Parry is the Asia Editor for The Times and has spent years in Japan reporting on the story and focuses on one village in particular which suffered enormous losses but is trying to cover up the truth of what happened that day. An engrossing book written with beauty and honesty.

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Sarah J Maas’s ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ Series by Angela (16)

Sarah J Maas is the well-known author of the Throne of Glass book series. It begins with A Court of Thorns and Roses.  The book was a huge success leading to another two books being written; A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin. The third book was intended to be the final book, but many readers wanted to know more so Maas wrote a short fourth book to tie off the whole series – A Court of Frost and Starlight.

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The series follows Feyre (pronounced Fey-rah), a young huntress whose family relies on her for survival. Feyre is self-driven and due to family difficulties (her father can barely walk from an injury to his leg, her two sisters–Elain and Nesta–do not want to hunt and stick to housework), Feyre takes on the responsibility of hunting whenever she can and cooking whatever she kills, even in the winter.

Feyre and everyone in her village are mortal. A magical wall separates the mortals and immortals, the Fae. In the book, it is briefly mentioned that the Fae and humans were at war in the past, which is the reason for the making of the wall. Fae can shape-shift, some into whatever they want, whereas others have only one entity they can shift into. The Fae lands consist of courts; the Summer Court, the Winter Court, the Autumn Court, the Spring Court, the Day Court, the Night Court, the Dawn Court and the Midnight Court.

The first book tells a story about how Feyre is taken away into the Fae lands and falls in love with Tamlin, the ‘prince’ of the Spring Court. Tamlin and Feyre become entangled with Amarantha, an evil queen who lives in the ‘underworld’ of the immortal lands, referred to as ‘Under the Mountain’. Feyre has the freedom of all Fae resting on her shoulders, as she is tasked with trials to free everyone, including Tamlin.

The whole series is amazingly written and has character and relationship development which draws readers in instantly.

I began this series when I was 14, so I would say that it would be well-suited for Game of Thrones fans and general fantasy lovers of all ages above 13, as it has some violence and graphic scenes.

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