Friday, December 3, 2010

Campaign Ruby, by Jessica Rudd

Australia's Prime Minister is suddenly deposed by his fiesty female deputy. Sound familiar? And in the fast and furious election campaign that follows, the other side is pulling out all the stops to have its man installed in the top job. Again, sounds familiar? This tale could be fiction founded on fact, except
that Jessica Rudd, daughter of Kevin Rudd, wrote Campaign Ruby before her dad's Prime Ministerial status became 'former'.
The story goes like this: workaholic London investment banker Ruby Stanhope is laid off from her job and in an alcohol-induced haze books a non-returnable ticket to Australia, as you do. She meets the Leader of the Opposition at a party and is suddenly working on the hardest-fought election campaign in recent history.
Fashion and romantic disasters aside, Ruby's an engaging character and an intelligent girl - as Rudd herself must be, although hopefully minus Ruby's fashion and romantic disasters. Rudd gives her readers an insider's view of an election campaign in a pacey, enjoyable and witty tale.
Rating - I give this 4/5
Not bad!
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat branch

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pushing Daisies (DVD)

Pushing Daisies is an American comedy/drama Television show about a guy named Ned aka the pie-maker, who can touch dead things and bring them back to life. Ned owns a pie store but on the side helps a Private Eye uncover accidents/murders using his "special" gift. But there's a catch to his gift - he must touch the dead person again within a minute or someone else living must die to replace the new living person. He has some very interesting side kicks including his childhood sweet heart that he brought back to life! This is a quirky, colourful whodunit show that may sound creepy and morbid but instead is funny and heart-warming.
Rating - I give this 5/5
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Sam @ home

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Caught, by Harlen Coben

At a loss for something to read, and enticed by the blurb, I picked up the latest offering from popular thriller writer Harlan Coben and was captivated from the first page.
While Caught can hardly be described as trim, at 388 pages, it's certainly taut and terrific.

A teenager goes missing from her loving family home. A crusading TV reporter runs a sting operation to entrap sexual predators and publicly shames a social worker known as a friend to troubled teens. It's an absorbing, challenging story - but things are not all as they seem. There are so many twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and the ending is such a surprise.
Coben's characters are well-drawn, little gore, plenty of plot and lots to think about. This is the first of his books I've read and I'm now on the lookout for more.

Rating - I give this 4/5
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat branch

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Third Day, the Frost by John Marsden - 1st Place in the Hamilton Young Adult Book/Movie Review Competition

The Third Day, the Frost is the third book in the tomorrow series by John Marsden. Beautifully told in the language of teenagers, it mesmerizes readers until their eyes are frozen to the page. The book captivates you until you have read your way through the entire series. I began to read “Tomorrow, when the war began” as part of a school assignment and became hooked. I found the next six books in the series and continued to read, not stopping until a week later when I had read them all.

John Marsden ensnares our mind in rivers of flowing words, making it a classic novel and a book for teens at the same time. It describes the stages of adolescence and childhood that we all go through, but were too embarrassed to admit we did. It offers subtle hints of advice in its pages, making us all the more eager to keep reading. The book shows us life from a different perspective, making us think, “What would I do if this happened to me?” What would you do if someone invaded your country, and left you with only the clothes on your back and some camping gear? What would you do if someone shot your best friend in the back and you never saw her again, and had to explain to her parents? If you thought your mum and dad were dead and friends dying around you, you had nothing to help anyone, and the only way you could try to stay alive was by killing or be killed? This book shows that there aren't always choices in life, and that if there are, the right one is most often the hardest.

The eight teenagers in this novel have to do things that most people wouldn't think possible. From their daring attitudes to crying in the bush, each faces issues just as difficult as the others. They have to become tough, independent, and totally trusting. There's no-one to tell them what to do, and if they make a mistake, its death or capture. No adults to fuss over them like little children, to wrap blankets around them and send them to bed. The only thing they can do is flee, normally into the roughest and most dangerous territory they can find. Anywhere else and they enemy finds them. They've seen their friends die at the enemies hand's, and they're lethal. Not senseless, but it’s the story of the wolf and the hen. They trick you, they run, you die. Causing explosions that would crackk the Richters scale could get anyone else a life sentence, a death penalty and a huge chat with the police. But these soldiers aren't like your friendly policemen. If they find you doing something wrong, or even find you, they'll press their rifle against your heart and pull the trigger. End of story, your dead.

What else can possibly happen to them? They've broken every law and rule they know into a million pieces, defied bad luck and impossible odds and have survived through sickness and trauma. Death and worse have run straight at them, the bull charging at the red cape. They've run the other way, and there's no room for weakness. What happened to Corrie? Where is Kevin? Is Major Harvey still alive? What is going on with Ellie and Lee? Is Fee cracking up? Will Homer still be alive after the attack on Cobblers Bay? Robyn, always religious, will she soon be joining her beloved God? Don't ask me, read the book to find out.

Reviewed by Shannon - aged 13

Friday, September 17, 2010

A small free kiss in the dark by Glenda Millard - 1st Place in the Children's Book Week Review Competition

Well. I’ll begin by saying that; I read this book because of:

a) My mum’s a librarian and she gave it to me

b) And I hadn’t read a book for ages and this one looked GREATLY GREAT.

The novel: - ‘A small free kiss in the dark’ is about five unlikely people who come together after a major catastrophe where they need each other in order to survive.

The first thing I noticed and liked about the novel was the intricate detail that drew my attention to the environment- this special young boy’s surroundings. I liked the way he – Skip, would take in little things; like light and shadow.

I also loved how we got big details as the novel progressed. (Like the character, Tia’s age – I see, that if we knew her age at the beginning we would be prejudiced and we would not look at her character the same way we do as we read the novel. And we would not have taken to all the things she was good at, so readily.)

I also liked the character of Billy and his part in the healing of both Skip’s and Max’s conditions in that world. Like, if we heard of two young boys being picked up by a homeless old man in our real world, we would be horribly outspoken – and the man would be frowned on by society for ‘daring’ to do such a thing. Yet in this story it is obvious that it is his contribution to their lives that keeps them alive! And the fact that because they (Billy and Skip) were scavengers and had to forage to survive contributed greatly to all of this group being able to survive.

I also liked how in the book Glenda (the author) never gave any details of the war, it was just some impending danger and stupidity, and that it affected even those people who knew literally nothing about it. The mention that there is a “third side of war” in this novel is an interesting idea. Also I really enjoyed the setting of the funpark; it immediately conjured up Luna Park in my imagination. The symbolic ending to the novel was heart warming. I connected with all of the characters and I really enjoyed the book.

Rating - I give this 4.3/5


Reviewed by Liam - aged 15

“Fairest” by Gail Carson Lavine - 2nd Place in the Children's Book Week review competition

Having been abandoned at an inn as a baby, Aza was adopted by the owner. She was thought ugly with her pale skin, blood red lips and big build. Aza had an unusual skill she called ‘illusing’. She could impersonate any sound or voice and project it from wherever she chose.

A series of unexpected events sees Aza accompanying the Duchess of Olixo to the royal wedding. Unbeknown to the whole of the kingdom (where singing was one of the most powerful and important skills) the new Queen Ivi cannot sing!! When she discovers what Aza can do, she blackmails her to ‘illuse’ for her and appoints her to the position of lady-in-waiting.

King Oscaro becomes very sick and the brand new Queen makes a mess of running Ayortha. Ivi is hiding darker secret than that she cannot sing and Aza finds herself in the middle of an evil plot.

The author Gail Carson Lavine, knows how to spin her words in a way that keeps you wanting more! The charming prince, the secrets of the Queen, ogres, gnomes, twists and turns in every direction make up the nail biting chapters.

“Fairest” is definitely worth a read.

Reviewed by Naomi - aged 15

Twi vs. Potter? - 3rd place in the Children's Book Week review competition

JK Rowling

Harry Potter is a series about a young boy who life and his future has been kept to secret to him and replace by lies. He has always been different for the other kids and always treated like he was never there or he never belong anywhere. But soon mysterious letters have been coming for everywhere. The uncle and Unite moved in fear but why nothing made senses to Harry. But when he is rescued from the lie that his uncle and unite came and become find out that he is enrolled at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. The next seven years of his life is learning how to do the imposable, making friendships that will last a lifetime and defeating in the end his greatest emery Lord Voldemort.

My thoughts

I love every second of reading this series. It was full of everything romances, comedy action you named it had it. J.K.Rowling was very clever coming up with all these different words and all the names of the spells. It is really interesting seeing Harry, Ron and Hermione grow up though the seven books. It felt like you had just fallen into another world where anything you dream of can come true. It has lots of feeling towards the book. Also it is written so beautifully that you can actually feel what Harry, Ron and Hermione are feeling all across seven books. It is very rare thing to find a book that you can’t give a bad word about it. The Harry potter book has inspired a new why of reading and creative. These books are full with imagination had cannot be copied at all. The books are very unique how they create a world where wizards and witches live. I think it is very clever how J.K.Rowling create the character you feel like they are right in front of you when you are reading. Whenever Harry is in danger or any of his friends you are on the edgy of you seat you can feel you heart beating harder each second. It makes you never want to put the book down because you don’t want to miss any bit of the action. These books make you feel like the world around you is a lie and the real world is in the book. That how realistic the book real when you read it. Always when you put the book down it is you mind “what will happen to Harry how he will get you out of this one?” The books are very addicted. But I think the best bit about the Harry Potter books is how much feel it has to it. How you can always feel what the character are feeling. How the book is full with love make you always feel good afterwards that is one of the reasons why is so addicted. It makes you feel like the imposable is happening.

Which one is better?

Both books are fantastic how they drew their readers in but I felt like one made you fall in the world of where anything can happen. But both books are wonderful it was nearly imposable to pick but no one can go past Harry Potter. Both series have been beautiful written but Harry Potter that that feeling that you couldn’t go pass. Both books brought out a smile, a tear or even a laugh. But Harry Potter makes you feel like you have just entered the world where anything can happen.

Rating - I give this 9.8/10


Reviewed by Geena - aged 13

Friday, September 10, 2010

Simple softies

As this book demonstrates, you dont need to be an expert stitcher to produce cute and cuddly toys. Simple softies features 15 projects that are just - well, simple to make, as well as delightful, that will appeal to all ages and can be whipped up by adults or by children, with a little bit of help.
I love cats, so the sampler kitty - decorated with all those little bits and pieces of braid and ribbon crafters hoard - and Fred the cat really appeal to me. Littlies will love the finger puppets, boys will be begging for a dinosaur of their own and Zelda zinnia is so cute, colourful and unusual.
As usual in this series of soft toy books, there are clear instructions and the patterns, incorporated in the pages, don't need to be resized. This book is so appealing and would be fabulous for quick and quirky gifts for all ages.
Rating - I give this 4/5
Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat branch

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stolen, by Lucy Christopher

What if you were Gemma, an English schoolgirl kidnapped from an airport on your way to Vietnam with your parents? What if you ended up in the unknown outback of Australia with your kidnapper? And what if that kidnapper knew so much about you because he'd been watching you since you were 10 years old. Creepy? Definitely. An effective, engrossing, enthralling plot? You bet. Published last year to great acclaim, Stolen, Lucy Christopher's first novel, is a young adult title that is every bit as gripping as a novel in the same genre written for adults. It's a thriller, a story of survival, a tale about people damaged by their experiences. Read it, admire it and hope that Lucy Christopher can sustain her power throughout her writing life.
Rating - I give this 5/5
Get this from the library
eviewed by Jan @ Ballarat branch

Friday, August 27, 2010

A darker shade of blue by John Harvey

I know short stories aren't everyone's cup of tea, but fans of crime novels will be doing themselves a disservice if they ignore the latest offering from the man who has been described as 'the master of British crime.'
I'm a fan of Harvey's long-running series of novels featuring jazz-loving Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick, and his more recent creation, DI Frank Elder. I can't remember if I've read either of his two earlier short story collections, but this new book was unputdownable.
According to the blurb, Harvey's 'finely crafted vignettes perfectly encapsulate life in the badlands of modern Britain'', which sounds pretty gloomy - but it isn't.

Each of the stories, featuring Elder, Resnick or former footballer turned private investigator Jack Kiley, was gripping, challenging, exciting and absorbing - do you get the idea that I loved this book?

Rating - I give this 4/5
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Jan@ Ballarat branch

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The young Victoria (DVD)

Concentrating on the early years of the reign of Britain's longest-reigning monarch when she was young, hopeful and lovely, this DVD is just gorgeous.
The locations are picturesque, the costumes are exquisite and the performances excellent - particularly those of Emily Blunt as the young girl who became Britain's longest-reigning monarch, Rupert Friend as her German cousin, Albert, the love of her life and Paul Bettany as the subtly scheming Lord Melbourne.
The Girls Rule OK thread that runs through the story is so satisfying , with the young princess - who succeeded to the throne when she was 18 years old - caught in a struggle for power and determined to rule her kingdom and the love story of Victoria and Albert is - well, lovely. The young girl who is initially under the thumb of her scheming mother and her mother's ambitious advisor grows into a woman who knows her own mind, to the extent of throwing a few hissy fits when Albert tries to help out.
This is one with the lot - intrigue, drama, tragedy, happiness and of course those costumes. What a winner.

Rating - I give this 5/5
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat branch

Friday, August 20, 2010

From Baghdad, with love : Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman

They were tough, they were focussed, they gave no quarter in one of the most dangerous places on earth - but the members of the First Battalion, Third Marines in Fallujah, Iraq at the beginning of the American invasion lost their hearts when they met the abandoned pup they named Lava.
Suddenly, in all the mayhem of war and danger, they had something small, precious and furry to love, fuss over and look after - just what they needed.They would do anything for the little pup, keeping him on the base against the rules, lavishing him with love and food and eventually going through the hoops that would hopefully allow Kopelman to take him home to the States rather than abandoning him.
A fellow dog-loving friend recommended this book and I'm so glad she did. Kopelman writes so well and captures the dangers and difficulties of his life at the time, as well as the humour. It's obvious these tough men relished - and needed - the light relief this little dog gave them.
Rating - I give this 4/5
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat

Now, by Morris Gleitzman

"Once I didn't know about my grandfather Felix's scary childhood. Then I found out what the Nazis did to his best friend Zelda....At least he's got me. My name is Zelda too. This is our story."In Felix and the two Zeldas - Felix's wartime friend and his granddaughter - and trilogy of Once, Then and Now, renowned Australian writer Morris Gleitzman has created characters and stories that leap off the page.
Having read the first two books, Now was a must-read for me and I was curious to find out how Gleitzman could take the boy Felix, with his scarring wartime experiences, into the present day. Now an old man, Felix is a retired surgeon who has spent a lifetime helping people - including his granddaughter when she is bullied at the school she is attending while her parents are away.
Felix's disturbing memories of his past, the cruel treatment Zelda experiences at school and a frightening bushfire, plus Gleitzman's masterly storytelling, combine to make Now a compelling read. Despite dealing with serious issues, there is some wonderful humour in these books - Gleitzman at his best. And while the series is aimed at mature young readers, it's very suitable for adult readers too - although be warned: it will probably make you cry.
Rating - I give this 5/5
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat

Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

'Truth or dare?' she asks. I hesitate. I have so many secrets, so many things I don't want to reveal, but this is only a game, only a bit of fun. 'Truth,' I say finally. 'I can imagine one of your dares, and I don't fancy running down Oxford Street naked tonight.' Katherine has moved away from her shattered once-perfect family to start a new life in Sydney. There she keeps her head down until she is befriended by the charismatic Alice, and her life takes her in new directions. But there is a dark side to Alice, and as we learn the truth of Katherine's sister's death and Alice's background their story spirals to an explosive finale. A potent, intense and simply unputdownable psychological thriller from an exciting voice (from the publisher).
A great novel for young adults that reveals the story of Katherine and her secrets little by little, bit by bit, while Alice puts Katherine under her spell. Everything seems fine for a while before things start to unravel again in Katherine's life. Rebecca James is an Australian author who has been described as the new J.K Rowling as she went from rags to riches after a bidding war erupted over the rights to this book.
Rated 4.5/5 GREAT!!
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Reviewed by Michelle @ admin

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bride Wars (DVD)

It's light, it's fluffy and it's a lot of fun. Bride Wars on DVD was the perfect choice for a cold, wet day off recently.
Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) have been best friends forever and become engaged within hours of each other. But when a clerical error turns their childhood dreams of marrying at New York's prestigious Plaza Hotel into a nightmare, with one bride potentially forced to find another venue, they're friends no longer. Gatecrashing each other's parties, sabotaging beauty treatments ... nothing is safe. Over-the-top is the way to go for these two.
Hudson and Hathaway - both gorgeous women - are perfect as the warring Bridezillas and Candice Bergen too is great in her role as the wedding planner. It's all a bit daft and ditsy, really, but SO enjoyable.

Rating - I give this 4/5
Not bad
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat branch

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fantastic Mr Fox (DVD)

A hilarious and heartwarming animated adventure... Mr. and Mrs. Fox live a happy home life with their eccentric son Ash and visiting nephew Kristofferson. That is, until Mr. Fox slips into his sneaky old ways and plots the greatest chicken heist the animal world has ever seen (from the distributor).
A somewhat quirky take on one of my favourite Roald Dahl books, that was filmed as a stop-motion animation picture. I particularily liked the way the characters swore; it got a bit of a giggle out of me. Overall a clever film that I was initially a little wary of but determined to watch nonetheless, and I was glad that I did as I found it really enjoyable.
Rated 4/5 GREAT!!
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Reviewed by Michelle @ admin