Friday, May 21, 2010

Smalltown by Martin Mischkulnig

In a perfect synergy of image and text, Smalltown shows us the bizarre, humorous and sometimes desolate aspects of our country towns, and challenges us to consider what Winton calls ‘fugliness and the smalltown shambolic’. Essay by Tim Winton and photography by Martin Mischkulnig. Smalltown is a view of the Australia we politely ignore. In this rich and austere collaboration, photographer Marin Mischkulnig has joined writer Tim Winton to produce a meditation on the peculiar collision of beauty and ugliness that characterises our far-flung towns. Without pulling any punches, this is an affectionate, exasperated take on ‘fugliness and the smalltown shambolic’ where both photographer and writer crate a stark beauty, despite the sad conviction that ‘there is nothing so bleak and forbidding in country Australia as the places humans have built there’ (from the publisher).
There are some amazing photos in this book; a picture says a thousand words comes to mind with some to be found in here.
Rating - I give this 3.5/5
Not bad!
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Michelle @ admin

Friday, May 14, 2010

The red door, by Charles Todd

I read my first Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery just recently and since then have been reading everything I can get by the authors, a mother and son who write under the name Charles Todd, and recommending them to anyone looking for a different style of whodunnit.
The books are set in the 1920s and while the stories may evoke some nostalgia for a gentler time, they have their own brand of grittiness.
In Lancashire, in a house with a red door, a woman has been bludgeoned to death. Meanwhile, in London, a man suffering from a mysterious illness disappears then suddenly reappears. Drawn into both cases, Rutledge has two mysteries to solve : who was the woman who lived and died behind the red door? And who was the man who did not come home from the Great War - and who may not ever have gone?
This book - the 11th in the series - is as gripping as all the others I have read. And Rutledge, scarred by his own wartime experiences, is such a complex character. It's also satisfying to read a crime novel that doesn't rely on over-the-top goriness for effect, or high-tech gadgets. Give these books a go - I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
Reviewed by Jan@ Ballarat branch

Manthropology by Peter McAllister

Drawing from archaeology, anthropology and evolutionary psychology, the author (a qualified palaeoanthropologist) confirms the awful truth: every man in history, back to the dawn of the species, did everything better, faster, stronger and smarter than any man today. Highlights include: a biomechanical analysis proving that a Neanderthal woman would have beaten Arnold Schwarzenegger in an arm-wrestle; a philological investigation of why 50 Cent would bomb in a battle-rap with the poet Homer; and a comparison of injury rates between today's Ultimate Fighting and ancient Greek Pankration [all-in wrestling] (from the publisher).
Hilarious book! Maybe hilarious isn't the right word, but it did make me giggle from time to time. Another reaction was 'hmm, sad, but so true!' - in trying to make life better and easier for ourselves, we have turned into a bunch of hopeless softies. The front cover says it all; the change over time, and before long we really will be like the people in the Wall-E film. An interesting read.
Rating - I give this 5/5 GREAT!!
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Michelle @ admin

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The aloha quilt, by Jennifer Chiaverini

In this latest in her oh-so-popular elm Creek Quilts series, Jennifer Chiaverini takes one of her characters, and her readers, to Hawaii.
Bonnie Markham faces a bleak and lonely winter, with her quilt shop out of business and divorce from her philandering and embittered husband looming. Enter her old college friend, Claire, who invites her to Hawaii to help launch a quilters' retreat. The beautiful scenery, the history both of Hawaii and its unique style of quilting and the challenges of the new business and new relationships help ease Bonnie's heartache, but where does she really belong?
Chiaverini's books are addictive and I'm sure appeal not just to quilters, although the information and quilting history she imparts are a bonus. Her characters are not always likeable, but each seems like someone we may have met along the way. And while her books are an enjoyable, easy read, tales of family and friendship and love and community, they often deal with difficult issues - in this case, marriages in jeopardy and unexpected changes of life and circumstances. The aloha quilt is a tale of quilts, yes, but also a tale of many people, each with a story to tell. Oh, and lots and lots of sunshine and pineapple.
Rating - I give this 4/5
Not bad!
Reviewed by Jan @ Ballarat branch

Friday, May 7, 2010

Night School by Isobelle Carmody

A group of children spend the night in a big old school and go on a chilling journey of self-discovery when they decide to play a game. They must travel from room to room, picking up a lantern and writing down their names to ward off the dark. But the old school holds a secret that they must confront if they are to succeed in their journey...(from the publisher).
The illustrations in this book set the tone for something that guarantees eeriness. The children enter the school at night and come out the next morning having played a 'night war' trying to beat the shadows. A different sort of book for junior children.
Rating - I give this 3/5
Not bad!
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Michelle @ admin

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

donna hay magazine Autumn (April/May) 2010

The new autumn issue of donna hay magazine is not only full of beautiful recipes and style tips, but it’s also our 50th issue birthday special! Join us in celebrating 50 fabulous issues (from the publisher).
I initially skipped ahead to the end of this magazine to the chocolate recipes... There were ooh's and aah's by all that saw. All recipes look amazing and oh so rich. I'll try one of the recipes this weekend - for Mother's Day
if she's good!
I then went back through the rest of the magazine, and it is full of great things, as it always is.
Rating - I give this 5/5
Get this from the library
Reviewed by Michelle @ admin