Review: The Bumper Treehouse of Fun Book – Andy Griffiths, Jill Griffiths, Terry Denton

The Bumper Treehouse of Fun

Andy Griffiths, Jill Griffiths & Terry Denton

Pan Australia

ISBN:9781760988890

RRP $19.99

Description:

The Bumper Treehouse Fun Book is packed with over 300 pages of treehouse-inspired fun!

With the FUNNEST activities from the Treehouse Fun Books and a whole heap of brand new ones, there are pictures to draw, stories to write, codes to crack, sudokus to solve, colour-ins, dot-to-dots, mazes, crosswords, word searches, spot-the-differences and some activities that we don’t even have a name for!

So, what are you waiting for?

Grab a pen, pencil, crayon or spooncil and come on in!

My View:

The perfect gift for a child you know – word searches, colouring in, spot the differences, decode the message, dot to dots – this makes a great gift to take on holidays or for school holiday entertainment – its bound to keep any child happily engaged for hours.

Guest Review: Canticle Creek – Adrian Hyland

Canticle Creek

Adrian Hyland

Ultimo Press

ISBN: 9781761150036

Description:

When Adam Lawson’s wrecked car is found a kilometre from Daisy Baker’s body, the whole town assumes it’s an open and shut case. But Jesse Redpath isn’t from Canticle Creek. Where she comes from, the truth often hides in plain sight, but only if you know where to look.

When Jesse starts to ask awkward questions, she uncovers a town full of contradictions and a cast of characters with dark pasts, secrets to hide and even more to lose.

As the temperature soars, and the ground bakes, the wilderness surrounding Canticle Creek becomes a powderkeg waiting to explode.

All it needs is one spark.

Brenda’s View:

Jesse Redpath was a police officer in the small town of Kulara in the Northern Territory where she saw more than most and controlled more than most. Since Jesse took over, crime had greatly lessened in the area. When young Adam Lawson went up before the magistrate once again, Jesse persuaded him to allow Adam to live with her father Ben, and work at the local pub, to work his hours out. If he absconded, he would be arrested and thrown in jail. Adam managed quite some time with Ben Redpath – both of them artists and Ben directed Adam, gave him some pointers. But Adam had itchy feet, apologizing to his mentor and taking off down south.

When Jesse heard through her boss that Adam had been found not far from Melbourne in Victoria, she wasn’t prepared to hear he was dead. She also wasn’t prepared to hear he’d murdered a woman and had crashed a stolen car into a tree while fleeing the town. Jesse was certain the Adam she knew wouldn’t have a bar of killing, so she and her dad headed for Melbourne, then a small town about an hour north-east of there, called Canticle Creek, to unofficially look into the deaths.

Canticle Creek was a hot bed of secrets amid the soaring heat of the summer sun. As Jesse made herself known to the local cops, she made some friends – and enemies – while investigating. Possum, a sixteen-year-old young woman who had more smarts than some adults Jesse had met, was intelligent and helpful. But what would they find in the small town of Canticle Creek?

Canticle Creek is the first book in 10 years from Aussie author Adrian Hyland and it was well worth waiting for! A tension filled, suspenseful crime novel set in the ravaging heat of the Northern Territory and Victoria, where bushfires kept the locals on edge, and the heat baked everything in its path. I’ve read each of Mr Hyland’s books and loved them all; Canticle Creek, with its captivating cover, is one I recommend highly.

With thanks to Ultimo Press AU for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

**Love the cover art work. This book has so much appeal**

Review: The Long Weekend – Fiona Palmer

The Long Weekend

Fiona Palmer

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780173346119

RRP $32.99

Description:

Four perfect strangers. Three days. Can one weekend away change your life? The unputdownable new drama by one of Australia’s most beloved storytellers.

Coming together for a writing workshop with bestselling author Jan Goldstein, four strangers converge upon a luxury forest retreat. But along with their notepads and laptops, each of the participants has brought some emotional baggage.

Beth is a solo parent and busy career woman haunted by a tragic car accident. Simone, the youngest at 26, is a successful Instagram star but she’s hiding behind a facade. Jamie is the only man. He’s a handsome personal trainer – but he looks out of place with a pen in his hand. Finally, Alice is a wife and mum recovering from postnatal depression. She and Jamie soon realise they are not such perfect strangers after all.

Only one thing is for sure: on this creative getaway, nothing will go according to script.

My View:

Character driven narratives are Fiona Palmer’s forte, and this book is a splendid showcase for those skills. Engaging and at times, surprising, this read is perfect to cozy up with over a few nights, meeting and learning about the lives of five strangers. And interesting lives they do have.

As with the other books I have read by this author, there are aspects of the characters lives that the author uses to start conversations regarding contemporary social issues; social media influencers, body/weight /image issues, post natal depression, the loss of a partner…when I start to list the social issues presented here I realise how much has been conveyed in this easy to read format.

So if you love a character driven narrative which discusses contemporary social issues, set in the beautiful south west, then this book is for you. This book has a lot going for it. 🙂

Guest Review: At The End of the Day – Liz Byrski

At the End of the Day

Liz Byrski

Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781760987893

Pam’s View:

I’ve been a fan of Liz Byrski’s work for many years and her 11th fiction book At The End Of The Day doesn’t disappoint. Her ability to create believable and relatable characters shines through once again.

The main characters are of an age rarely highlighted in fiction, if seen at all this older age group is generally in a minor role, offering sage advice or in place as a warning about the ravages of time. Liz Byrski puts them centre stage with their imperfections, realistic concerns and ever present worry of irrelevance.

This character driven, insightful story deals with the nuances of ageing, the gradual physical changes and the mental challenges of self-worth, loneliness and decision-making that accompanies the years.

The wonderful main characters are balanced by a supporting cast of different ages dealing with realistic challenges of their own that are topical and thought provoking.

I found this book thoroughly enjoyable and relatable, and I felt connected in a way that rarely happens through fiction. These people could have been my neighbours.

Review: Lucy and Copper

Lucy and Copper

Mandy Foot

Lothian Children’s Book

Hachette

ISBN: 9780734420282

RRP $16.99

Description:

Smudge has been Lucy’s best friend since she was little. But these days, Lucy is too big to ride her beloved pony.

Lucy is sure no one can replace Smudge, even when Pa brings home a new horse called Copper. Can Lucy grow to love Copper just as much?

A story that will warm the heart of every animal lover, from the bestselling author-illustrator of Joey & Riley and The Wheels on the Bus.

My View:

This is the perfect book to transition your pre-schooler from the first easy read/picture books type of beginnings to following along with an actual narrative, a great read!  

A perfect bedtime read, engaging, not too long and the illustrations are gorgeous.

Review: Still – Matt Nable

Still

Matt Nable

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733644740

RRP $32.99

Description:

STILL is an evocative, confronting and page-turning thriller from a brilliant Australian writer. If you loved THE DRY and SCRUBLANDS, you will love STILL.

Darwin, Summer, 1963.

The humidity sat heavy and thick over the town as Senior Constable Ned Potter looked down at a body that had been dragged from the shallow marshland. He didn’t need a coroner to tell him this was a bad death. He didn’t know then that this was only the first. Or that he was about to risk everything looking for answers.

Late one night, Charlotte Clark drove the long way home, thinking about how stuck she felt, a 23-year-old housewife, married to a cowboy who wasn’t who she thought he was. The days ahead felt suffocating, living in a town where she was supposed to keep herself nice and wait for her husband to get home from the pub. Charlotte stopped the car, stepped out to breathe in the night air and looked out over the water to the tangled mangroves. She never heard a sound before the hand was around her mouth.

Both Charlotte and Ned are about to learn that the world they live in is full of secrets and that it takes courage to fight for what is right. But there are people who will do anything to protect themselves and sometimes courage is not enough to keep you safe.

My View:

The hype did not mislead, this is a brilliant read! Powerfully written; emotive, evocative, filmic, tragic, an expose of historical violence and racism in a remote town, intriguing with more than a few dead bodies (and some nearly so).

This book is a time capsule of the 60’s in regional Australia; the idea of women’s rights, women as directors of their own destiny, is just starting to surface, witness the Stolen Generation policy in action, the fear it generated, the family disruptions, as we are taken back to the not to distant past, a past that can be confronting and challenging.

Women’s rights, racism, violence, corruption, revenge and the isolation of distance intersect and interact in often heart-breaking scenarios, yet there is hope. There is an amazing read. Be prepared to be transported to another time and another place. Be prepared for nail biting tension… and crocodiles.

I will most certainly be looking for more reads by this author.

P S Love the cover art.

Review: The Book Of Australian Trees – Inga Simpson

The Book of Australian Trees

Inga Simpson

Illustrations Alicia Rogerson

Lothian Children’s Books

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780734418531

RRP $29.99

Description:

Trees tell stories about places. Australia has some of the tallest, oldest, fattest and most unusual trees in the world. They have changed over thousands of years, adapting to this continent’s deserts, mountains, and coasts. Many have found clever ways of dealing with drought and fire.

Their leaves, flowers and seeds are food for birds, insects and mammals. Old trees have lots of hollows, which make good homes for possums, sugar gliders, birds and bees. But trees aren’t just important for other animals, we need them too. What trees breathe out, we breathe in. They are a vital part of the Earth’s ecosystems.

When you first stand in a forest, the trees all seem the same. But if you look more closely, they are each a little different, like people. This book is a love song to Australian trees, from the red ironbark to the grey gum, the Moreton Bay fig to the Queensland bottle tree.

My View:

This is such a beautifully illustrated book! Inga Simpson is a writer and tree lover – her passion for the natural world is evident in all she writes, fiction and non-fiction. Although this book is touted as a children’s read, I think this book is more than that; it is amazingly illustrated and any art lover will enjoy flicking though the pages, it is a great read for anyone interested in the natural world of Australian flora (although I would like to see this expanded to cover more varieties and more regions), this book would make a great gift to send to a relative overseas.  

A delightful book.   

Review: The Chase – Candice Fox

The Chase

Candice Fox

Bantam

Penguin Books Australia

ISBN: 9781760896799

RRP $32.99

Description:

When more than 600 of the world’s most violent human beings pour out from Pronghorn Correctional Facility into the Nevada Desert, the biggest manhunt in US history begins.

But for John Kradle, this is his one chance to prove his innocence, five years after the murder of his wife and child.

He just needs to stay one step ahead of the teams of law enforcement officers he knows will be chasing the escapees down.

Death Row Supervisor turned fugitive-hunter Celine Osbourne is single-minded in her mission to catch Kradle. She has very personal reasons for hating him – and she knows exactly where he’s heading …

My View:

Over the past few weeks, I have read 3 books that I am prepared to say are the best reads of 2021. Each are in different categories, each is memorable, remarkable, enjoyable, well written and coincidentally written by an Australian author. Each is an immersive read – you will not want to put these 3 books down; you will not want the stories to end.

This is the second book.

Don’t pick this book up and expect to read a few chapters and then go to bed…uh uh. This book won’t let you rest until you have finished reading. It is fast paced, character driven (oh how I loved the two protagonists), engaging, enticing, enthralling, exciting and I absolutely loved reading this engaging book.

I believe this to be Candice Fox’s best work to date. How is she going to surpass this one? I can’t wait to find out.

PS I do believe the movie rights to this book will be snapped up soon (if not already).   

I do have one bone to pick with Candice though, since I finished reading this, I have not been able to pick up another crime/thriller read and they are my favourite genre.  I have a serious book hangover 😊

Check out what other book reviewers have thought of this read – I think you will find they all agree with me.

Review – The Emporium of the Imagination – Tabitha Bird

The Emporium of Imagination

Tabitha Bird

Penguin Random House Australia

ISBN: 139781760895914

Description:

From the author of A Lifetime of Impossible Days (winner of the Courier-Mail People’s Choice QLD Book of the Year Award) comes this beautiful and uplifting story, that will make you laugh and make you cry.

Welcome to The Emporium of Imagination, a most unusual shop that travels the world offering vintage gifts to repair broken dreams and extraordinary phones to contact lost loved ones.

But, on arrival in the tiny township of Boonah, the store’s long-time custodian, Earlatidge Hubert Umbray, makes a shocking realisation. He is dying . . .

The clock is now ticking to find his replacement, because the people of Boonah are clearly in need of some restorative magic.

Like Enoch Rayne – a heartbroken ten-year-old boy mourning the loss of his father, while nurturing a guilty secret.

Like Ann Harlow, who has come to the town to be close to her dying grandmother. Though it’s Enoch’s father who dominates her thoughts – and regrets . . .

Even Earlatidge in his final days will experience the store as never before – and have the chance to face up to his own tragedy . . .

‘Prepare to immerse yourself in wonder, childish delight and dark, dark trauma in this unique novel from a new and important Australian literary voice.’ Australian Women’s Weekly on A Lifetime of Impossible Days.

My View:

Over the past few weeks, I have read 3 books that I am prepared to say are the best reads of 2021. Each are in different categories, each is memorable, remarkable, enjoyable, well written and coincidentally written by Australian authors. Each is an immersive read – you will not want to put these 3 books down; you will not want the stories to end.

This is the first of those 3.

This is the second book written by Tabitha Bird and sadly I missed the first but this read has convinced me to hunt down and read “A Lifetime of Impossible Days”. THIS book is remarkable; evocative, magical, heart breaking, encouraging, community building…life affirming…glorious! Fabulous! Poignant – you will tear up a little at times. It has so many themes woven into this magical narrative – the biggest takeaway for me is about missed opportunities and righting mistakes, about misdirection’s and false starts and getting back on track, about doing what you are passionate about, loving who you love, caring for the community – you never know what someone else’s life looks like inside the façade they present to the world.   It is never too late to mend, heal, follow your dreams.  

And it is about grief – all consuming, overwhelming, life changing, grief.  Grief in all its forms, grief that is intense, grief that changes how we live, and the intimate, personal grief for oneself, the for the child within that has been pigeonholed, held back, controlled…this book cuts those chains and releases the soul to be what it is destined to be.

A superb read!!!

Guest Review: Invisible Boys- Holden Shepperd

Invisible Boys

Holden Sheppard

Fremantle Press

ISBN: 9781925815566

Rachel’s View:

A gritty, authentic and emotional story of three teenage boys grappling with their identities in a country town. With heart-wrenching honesty, a dash of humour and all-to-real descriptions of rural life that are both beautiful and devastating, Invisible Boys is the kind of book you can get lost in. Holden’s multi-award winning YA novel has been called a “once in a generation” debut, exploring the crushing feeling of being made to feel like an outsider in the place that should be your home. It’s raw, angst-ridden and at times will have you cringing at the situations the characters find themselves in, but ultimately the undeniably relatable sense of aching is tempered with hope. #invisibleboys