Book Review: Messenger (The Shifter War Book 1) by KK Ness

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I don’t normally read fantasy fiction but with a terrific cast of characters and great writing, this is the kind of book that could change anyone’s mind.

Danil is a scavenger in the deadlands (barren for centuries after a widespread scorching event that ended the Great War) that separate the kingdoms of Roldaer and Amas. Danil and his fellow humans live in Roldaer under the rule of King Liam and his numerous magi, powerful sorcerers. Amas is the land of shapeshifters. Born into human form, they gradually discover their true form, basically their spirit animals, and then can transform at will and back again. Continue reading

Book Review: Secret Smile by Nicci French

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This book was so engrossing that I started reading it late one evening and then couldn’t stop. I finished it in one sitting as I kept thinking, “Just one more chapter,” and then not being able to stand not knowing what was going to happen next. By the time I was finished, six hours and 310 pages had gone by and so had most of the night, as well as any opportunity for sleep. Continue reading

Book Review: Kill the Possum by James Moloney

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I was in the middle of reading another book – a long, dense, important but mentally draining book – and decided to take a break and read Kill the Possum, knowing it would be a shorter read, something I could get through quickly. But if I was hoping for an easy read, I was sorely disappointed. This was a hard book to read. Not because of the writing but because of the story. This is every blended family teenager’s worst nightmare. Continue reading

Book Review: The Wife of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis

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This book was on the English reading list when I was in Year 12 but it wasn’t one of the texts my school selected for us. I’m almost glad because so many of the books we did read have gone on to become my least favourite – maybe it was the books themselves, maybe it was the way they were taught to us but I can’t deny the pattern.

The Wife of Martin Guerre could have been called “The Husbands of Betrande de Rols”. Based on a true story in sixteenth century France, Bertrande is married off at a very early age to the son of a well-to-do local peasant family. She’s too young to take on the duties of a wife so she returns to live with her own family. She’s fourteen when her mother dies and it is deemed an appropriate time to rejoin her husband and take up the role she has long been destined for. Continue reading

Book Review: The Blue Day Book: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up by Bradley Trevor Greive

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Published in 2000, The Blue Day Book might have been the early genesis of lolcats and funny goat videos. It is a collection of black-and-white animal photographs that have managed to capture a range of human emotions and Greive has arranged them and composed accompanying short sentences to evoke how we all feel this way sometimes, even those of us who aren’t human.

As the title suggests, the book is aimed at perking up anyone experiencing a “blue day”. For those experiencing a succession of them (and really struggling with depression and other mental health issues), it’s not going to be able to do much. But if it brings a smile to the general reader’s face, then it has done its job.

It’s hard to go past the zebras singing karaoke, if I have to pick a favourite image, although the bad hair day dog and the rhino blowing raspberries are a close second and third. Continue reading

Book Review: No Tattoos Before You’re Thirty by Sam de Brito

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This is one of those books to which the subsequent life of the author has given tragic and deeper meaning. I bought and read it in 2006 when it was published because I was a semi-regular reader of Sam de Brito’s newspaper column called “All Men Are Liars”. It’s a list of the pieces of advice he wished someone had told him in his youth rather than having to figure it out by himself as he went along. He divided it into two sections, one aimed at his “gorgeous daughter”, the other aimed at his “dashing son”, both of whom existed only in his imagination at the time of writing.

Sam de Brito died at the age of 46 in 2015, leaving behind a young daughter. It’s almost as if he knew he wasn’t going to make it, even before his daughter was born, so he left behind this book to ensure she’d have the benefit of his wisdom. It almost makes you want to cry just thinking about it. Continue reading