Monday, March 30, 2009

Genesis of Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks

Armageddon's Children is a new creation—the perfect opportunity for readers unfamiliar with Brooks's previous work to experience an author at the height of his considerable storytelling powers. It is a gripping chronicle of a once-familiar world now spun shockingly out of control, in which an extraordinary few struggle to salvage hope in the face of terrifying chaos.
Terry Brooks is one of the better Fantasy/Sci-fi writers and this trilogy is no exception. All three books ("Armageddon's Children," "The Elves of Cintra" and "The Gypsy Morph") are a good read.
Rating - I give this 4/5
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Reviewed by Dale @ home

Friday, March 27, 2009

October Skies by Alex Scarrow

2008: Deep in the mountain forests of Wyoming, Julian Cooke stumbles across the rotting remains of a wooden wagon. He's discovered what's left of the Preston Group, a convoy of settlers that vanished in the winter of 1856. It's clear that something horrific happened here all those years ago, but Cooke can only find a few tantalising clues. 1856: as early snows descend, the eclectic group of settlers that form the Preston wagon train are forced to dig in. Miles from any kind of civilisation, they see the group of Native Americans also trapped nearby as their greatest threat. But they soon realise what true danger is. When a woman is found murdered, appallingly mutilated, one of the Indian party struggles wounded back to camp, whispering of unspeakable evil as he dies. United by fear, the settlers and the Indians must protect themselves against whatever is lurking in the woods. But as suspicion and panic grow, perhaps their own terror will be just as dangerous. Or maybe, whatever's out there is worse than anything they can imagine. Back in the present day, as Cooke unravels the mystery, he must question if the horror he is uncovering was in fact only the start of something much worse (from the publisher).
For the majority of this book, I was really enjoying the two stories as they were unfolding - bit of intrigue, horror, superstition and clash of faiths. Yet I was a little disappointed with the ending and I think it was a bit of frustration at the way it finished. That said, it still wasn't too bad...
Rating - I give this 3/5 OK...

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Reviewed by Michelle @ admin

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lygon Street - Stories and recipes from Melbourne's melting pot byMichael Harden

This wonderful book captures the essence of Australia's most delicious and unique eating strip.

It was Lygon st that had the first espresso machine in Australia (sounds good anyhow).
We've all walked down Lygon Street and Smelt the flavours, heard the excitment and experienced the pleasures of such a place, but this book will take you beyond the footpath and into the kitchens and lives of the characters that have shaped the LYGON St Story.
The photographs are beautiful and informative and you may even spot one of your favourite places or dishes...godere!
Rating - I give this 4/5

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Reviewed by Melissa@ Wendouree library name

Handle with care by Jodi Picoult

Willow O'Keefe loves facts and knows the answer to all sorts of questions. But even she can't answer the biggest question of all - why was she born with a condition that could kill her if she fell or even breathed deeply? Willow has osteogenesis imperfecta and faces a lifetime of hundreds of broken bones and pain. Her family faces a lifetime of scraping to make ends meet to pay for her medical care.
Their lives are defined by Willow's condition. Sean, her policeman father, is hardly ever home, taking on extra work to ease the financial burden. Her mother Charlotte'swaking moments are devoted to taking care of Willow and older sister Amelia is forgotten amidst all their worries. Charlotte thinks if she files a wrongful birth lawsuit against her doctor for not informing her that her child would be born severely disabled, the financial payout would ensure quality care for Willow and a better life for the family. Charlotte's decision is not taken lightly; the doctor is her best friend, but she wants a better life for her daughter...
Jodi Picoult never gives her characters - or her readers- an easy ride. In this absorbing, disturbing and many-layered novel about a little-known disability, she deals with the big questions of medical ethics and personal morality, and causes the reader to ask: "What would I do?"
I found this book hard to put down, and hard to forget.It's another great read from a deservedly popular writer.
Rating - I give this 4/5

Not bad!

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Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat library

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville

Daniel Rooke, soldier and astronomer, was always an outsider. As a young lieutenant of marines he arrives in New South Wales on the First Fleet in 1788, and sees his chance. He sets up his observatory away from the main camp, and begins the scientific work that he hopes will make him famous.Aboriginal people soon start to visit his isolated promontory, and a child named Tagaran begins to teach him her language. With meticulous care he records their conversations.An extraordinary friendship forms, and Rooke has almost forgotten he is a soldier when a man is fatally wounded in the infant colony. The lieutenant faces a decision that will define not only who he is but the course of his entire life.
I loved this book! I read it slowly over the summer – hoping to make it last. In ‘The Lieutenant’, Kate Grenville eloquently tells the remarkable story of the encounter and eschewing friendship between Daniel Rooke (the Lieutenant) and an Aboriginal girl - Tagaran (from the Cadi-gal tribe). Rooke has the sensitivity and the scholarly skills to begin to record what Tagaran can teach him of the Cadi-gal language. Through Rooke, Grenville evocatively describes the landscape and people of the settlement of New South Wales with great clarity and restraint.
Both ‘The Lieutenant’ and Grenville’s earlier book ‘The Secret River’ get 5/5 from me.
A great Read!
Rating - I give this 5/5
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Reviewed by Kim @ Ballarat library

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

While working at pleasant but mundane summer jobs in San Francisco, fifteen-year-old twins, Sophie and Josh, suddenly find themselves caught up in the deadly, centuries-old struggle between rival alchemists, Nicholas Flamel and John Dee, over the possession of an ancient and powerful book holding the secret formulas for alchemy and everlasting life (from the publisher).
I was originally drawn to this book after reading the name Nicholas Flamel as he played a part in the first Harry Potter book. This book is along similar lines - magical people, mythical creatures and good versus bad, so if you are like me and enjoy books like these, I would recommend giving this one a go. This is the first of a series of books; the second is titled The Magician, and the third is The Sorceress that is due out May this year (yay!).
Rating - I give this 4/5 Not bad!

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Reviewed by Michelle @ admin

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Deep Water by Peter Corris

Still reeling from the shock death of his partner, Cliff suffers a heart attack - but this isn't enough to keep him from investigating the disappearance of the father of the woman nursing him back to health.
I don't mind a bit of gumshoe action once in a while although Corris' indominatable creation Cliff Hardy is more of a carpet slipper these days! No surprises here but that just makes for a satisfying read.
Rating - I give this 3/5
Not bad!

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Reviewed by Sarah @ Hamilton library

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

A deliciously funny novella that celebrates the pleasure of reading. When the Queen in pursuit of her wandering corgis stumbles upon a mobile library she feels duty bound to borrow a book. Aided by Norman, a young man from the palace kitchen who frequents the library, Bennett describes the Queen's transformation as she discovers the liberating pleasures of the written word. With the poignant and mischievous wit of The History Boys, England's best loved author revels in the power of literature to change even the most uncommon reader's life.
This novella from Alan Bennett was a real little gem! I feel totally vindicated describing myself as an avid reader because if it's good enough for the Queen - it's good enough for me! Lots of deliciously sly humour.

Rating - I give this 4/5
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Reviewed by Sarah@ Hamilton library

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Year in a Bottle by Sally Wise

Sally Wise is a regular guest on ABC Local Radio in Hobart. She has been a passionate preserver of fruits and vegetables for over three decades and has taught cooking classes for adults and high school students. In A Year in a Bottle Sally brings together a mouthwatering collection of more than 100 of her favourite recipes for preserves, conserves, sauces, relishes and pickles. The collection is enhanced by Sally's anecdotes of how various recipes came into her possession and how she has adapted them over the years. This is not a glossy coffee table book, but rather an extremely practical collection of recipes, tips and advice that will be useful to the complete beginner or the seasoned home preserver. It explains the various preserving methods clearly with a great troubleshooting section for any dilemma you might come across. You'll be inspired to give it a go and fill your pantry with bottles of fruits and sauces and jars of pickles and chutneys that can be enjoyed year round. I can heartily recommend the tomato chilli pickles and am seriously considering trying the 'sparkling rhubarb fizz'. My rhubarb plant is miraculously thriving in this drought and there is only so much rhubarb and apple pie one family can eat!

Rating - I give this 4/5 GREAT!!

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Reviewed by Julie @ Wendouree Library

Friday, March 13, 2009

'It's not me, it's you' by Lily Allen - CD

The outspoken mockney popstrel Lily Allen's debut album, 'Alright Still', established her as the voice of a new breed of young person, and the long-awaited follow-up 'It's Not Me It's You' is full of similarly zeitgeist-inflected tunes. The first single, 'The Fear', is somewhat heavier in tone than previous singles such as 'LDN' and 'Smile', and sees Allen dealing with notions of modern celebrity, a theme that continually crops up on the album. Allen also confronts political issues on this markedly more adult album than its predecessor, perhaps intentionally preparing a more mature image for the future (CD description).
Lily Allen has continued her catchy songs with an album that may not be for the fainthearted! She has continued the use of witty (and sometimes rude...) lyrics, so it is perhaps not best for the little ones to hear it. If you enjoyed Lily's last album, you will probably like this one too.
Rating - I give this 4/5 Not bad!
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Reviewed by Michelle @ admin

We are wearing out the naughty step by Mick Inkpen

We are wearing out the Naughty Step - I lost the school hamster, and Josh fed the elephant the wrong way and we made the dog into a panda... Mummy is not happy... but the day she makes Kevin a chocolate birthday cake is the day that ALL of us, including Mummy, end up on the Naughty Step!
What a very funny book to read to the children. I think I enjoyed reading the book more than the children did listening to it. The writing is easy for the children to follow and they were able to relate to the children in the book. The book was relevant and very very funny. More of this please.

Rating - I give this 4/5
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Reviewed by Genevieve @ home

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Marley and me by John Grogan

John and Jenny were just beginning their life together. They were young and in love, with a perfect little house and not a care in the world. Then they brought home Marley, a wiggly yellow fur ball of a puppy. Life would never be the same. Marley quickly grew into a barrelling, 44-kilo steamroller of a Labrador retriever, a dog like no other. He crashed through screen doors, gouged through drywall, flung drool on guests, stole women s undergarments, and ate nearly everything he could get his mouth around, including couches and fine jewellery. Obedience school did no good- Marley was expelled. Yet Marley's heart was pure. Just as he joyfully refused any limits on his behaviour, his love and loyalty were boundless, too. Unconditional love, they would learn, comes in many forms. (from the publisher's notes).
Having had a long-term relationship with one dog, lost two dogs early in their lives and now living (and loving it) with a mother-and-son Cavalier King Charles Spaniel duo, I know only too well how dogs can steal your heart away. This book had me laughing and crying as Marley barrelled his way through life (and doors). I heartily recommend this to anyone who loves dogs - only they will understand how John and Jenny and their family adored Marley despite some very odd behaviour.
Rating - I give this 5/5


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Reviewed by Jan @ lBallarat branch

The Stepmother's Diary by Fay Weldon

Sappho was so happy when she married Gavin. She was in love and it seemed that at last everything was falling into place. But she hadn't considered his daughter, Isobel. She is a delightful, charming girl who spends her school holidays caring for the elderly and is the apple of Gavin's eye. Now cast in the role of Wicked Stepmother, Sappho tries all she can to befriend Isobel and find her place in the new family. It's not easy, but no one had promised it would be. Sappho perseveres. But she has a history, and the history works against her. With warmth, wit and her unique insights into the workings of the female mind, Fay Weldon offers a brilliant, unsettling new novel about family life today. (from the publisher's notes).
Whenever I read one of Fay Weldon's novels, I am struck anew at how good she is. In the hands of a lesser writer, this could be quite an ordinary tale, but in Weldon's hands, it is anything but. The Stepmother's Tale has all the attributes we have come to expect from Weldon - it's clever and witty, with unexpected twists. Another great read from a gifted author.

Rating - I give this 5/5

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Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat branch

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Kung Fu Panda - DVD

"Kung Fu Panda" features Po the Panda, a lowly waiter in a noodle restaurant, who is a kung fu fanatic but whose shape doesn't exactly lend itself to kung fu fighting. In fact, Po's defining characteristic appears to be that he is the laziest of all the animals in ancient China. That's a problem because powerful enemies are at the gates, and all hopes have been pinned on a prophesy naming Po as the "Chosen One" to save the day. A group of martial arts masters are going to need a black belt in patience if they are going to turn this slacker panda into a kung fu fighter before it's too late...
This is a very funny movie that is suitable for young and old alike. It's a rather clever story with a cast that may keep you guessing as to whose voices you are hearing. If you enjoyed other Dreamworks cartoons such as the Shrek movies, then you should like this one as well, and watch it over and over!!

Rating - I give this 5/5 GREAT!!

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Reviewed by Michelle @ admin

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The secret Lives Of Men and Women by Frank Warren

This compilation of 'Secrets' is the third book of The Post Secret Project masterminded by Frank Warren. In 2004 Warren left thousands of self addressed postcards in public places and invited those who discovered them to anonymously post him their secrets.
It has resulted in an artful and intriguing collection of snippets of peoples lives accompanied by interesting illustration.

Some secrets reveal pain, where as some are so funny you may even laugh or cringe or relate to yourself. I was shocked and moved by many, but mostly it just made for some interesting reading and as I am a huge fan of the "coffee Table book" I will probably read all of Warren's other work too.
My secret: I chose this book so that I had something quick and easy to blog!

Rating - I give this 4/5 Not bad!

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Reviewed by Melissa @ Wendouree Library

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Foggy Foggy Forest - Nick Sharrat

A unique rhyming read-a-loud; see through the foggy pages and discover the magical creatures of the forest.
"What can that be in the foggy, foggy forest? A bear in a chair? An elf by himself? Peer through the foggy pages and take a guess!"(from the Publisher)

Flip through each whimsical page and discover what is beyond the silhouettes.... Filled with traditional children's images, this is a wonderful book to read aloud or to discover the magic alone.
I recently read this story at preschool storytime and it was loved by both children and adults for it's simplicity and beauty. This will be a favourite for many....move over green sheep.
GREAT!! 5/5
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Reviewed by Melissa@ Wendouree