30 August 2010


by Jeannie Baker

Walker Books. Australian, Adult Other, Picture Book, Children Other. Hardcover rrp $39.95

Guest Reviewer Jo Burnell

Jeannie Baker’s illustrations are works of art. Every picture invites the fingers to explore texture and detail even though you know the page is flat. Mirror is Jeannie’s latest masterpiece and it surpasses all she has done in the past.
The unusual format opens doors to new worlds, literally. This two-in-one simultaneous read requires no written words. The book on the left opens in the traditional way to reveal suburban Australia, while the book on the right opens as its mirror image.

One boy sleeps in a typical western home while a mother prays and works under the same moon, far away in Morocco. Life in the two places is in constant contrast. Everything from household chores and breakfast foods, through clothing to modes of transport are juxtaposed. Can you see the man on the mobile phone in the middle of the desert market or the football streamers fluttering from a car aerial at the busy pedestrian crossing?

Bustling three lane highways could not differ more from the narrow mountain path where a donkey and its rider have no need for GPS. Call me a dreamer, but I was so absorbed in the intricate details on every page that I didn’t anticipate the delightful twist this story was leading to. The simple truths of contrasting lives were echoing in my mind when the final mirror image struck with clarity.

It’s easy to go shopping for a Moroccan rug in Australia, but what do you buy in Morocco?

Book lovers of all ages will enjoy exploring these two worlds. Every time I return to Mirror, new details surface, offering a deeper understanding of the way our lives echo those of others in different countries. My only regret is that I can’t touch the original images to feel rough clothing, slide my fingers along corrugated roofing, scratch possum fur or dip my finger in the flour that is ground and ready for bread baking.


29 August 2010

Somewhere Down a Crazy River

by Robyn Catchlove

Pan Macmillan. Adult Non-Fiction, Autobiographical, Australian. Paperback rrp $34.99

Reviewed by Barbara  Brown

While reading Robyn Catchlove’s autobiographical Somewhere Down a Crazy River I found myself looking back through my own life with a few regrets. What a fantastic journey Robyn has had. A women in the late 60’s, early 70’s travelling around the Top End of Australia in a fishing boat with her man. Some might call her mad, others brave, but the free spirited “anything can happen” approach of her life is something I envied.

Robyn was born, raised and settled into married life in Adelaide. But the white picket fence and two and a half children lifestyle were not what she wanted. So in her early twenties, Robyn Catchlove went on an adventure, leaving her husband and marriage behind.

When she reached Cairns, fate found her a soul mate, Les Coles, and together they set about building a boat. Not just a fishing boat, but a boat made with their love, wishes and dreams. When the Jean King was launched into the ocean, Robyn and Les’ lives as professional fishermen begin.

What is most inspiring about Robyn’s eight years surviving in a very male dominated world, is her calm acceptance of whatever happens. One minute they are on top of the world and the next they are floating adrift in the oceans of the Cape York Peninsula. There is beauty everywhere Robyn looks and even in life threatening situations, she can still see what makes Australia so wonderful.

Through Robyn’s wonderful and eloquent writing the colours, people and landscape of the Top End are captured so brilliantly that you would swear you have just seen a snapshot of the place.

28 August 2010

Rufus the Numbat

by David Miller

Ford Street Publishing. Australian, Picture Book. Hardcover rrp $24.95

How much havoc can one numbat cause just walking through the town? Quite a lot, if that numbat is Rufus!

“Rufus the numbat is just passing through.
That’s all, just passing through.”

Where Rufus goes, trouble follows. From tripping a cyclist to interrupting some ladies having cake, Rufus is just trying to get to the bush.

David Miller has illustrated Rufus’ travels with paper sculptures on painted backgrounds to give the story a three dimensional effect. Rufus is so bristly and cute young readers won’t be able to resist putting their hands out to touch and pat his brown and white coat. A wonderful story using an interesting medium.

David Miller’s Big and Me was reviewed by the Reading Stack in Issue 12, November 2008.

27 August 2010

Blood Feud

by Alyxandra Harvey

Allen and Unwin. Fantasy, Romance, Crime, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $14.99

Isabeau St Croix was born to aristocracy in France at the wrong time. At the age of sixteen, she watches both parents beheaded and is forced to hide her true identity. After a year living on the streets of Paris she finds her way to safety, the home of her uncle in London.

Now eighteen, Isabeau has her whole life ahead of her until she meets Lord Greyhaven. One bite and she is left to be buried for 200 years until the Hounds release her from her comatose existence in a London cemetery.

Isabeau is a Hound too, not quite as mad as the Hel-Blar (uncontrollable and crazy vampires). Vampires believe the Hounds are not civilised and live like dogs. But when Isabeau and Logan Drake (son of the reigning Queen of the Vampires) meet, their lives are destined to be intertwined. Isabeau has already saved Solange, Logan’s only sister, from Montmartre, a rogue vampire who wants to kill the Queen and join with Solange to become ruler of the Vampires.

Can these two factions of vampires, unite and beat Montmarte and his army of Hel-Blar? Will Isabeau confront her killer Greyhaven?

The French Revolution and modern day vampire feuds. For fans of the Drake Chronicles you will not be disappointed in this sequel to My Love Lies Bleeding. This is one book that I couldn’t put down until the end.

The Reading Stack reviewed the first book in the Drake Chronicles, My Love Lies Bleeding in February 2010. Out for Blood is the third and final book and will be available November 2010.


26 August 2010

The Truth About Penguins

by Meg McKinlay and illustrated by Mark Jackson

Walker Books. Australian, Picture. Hardback rrp $27.95

Guest Reviewer Jo Burnell

Have you ever heard of Chinese whispers? Well, the residents at the local Zoo are expecting penguins. One curious squirrel has the courage to ask, ‘What’s a penguin?’ and the fun begins. The answers offered by fellow Zoo residents are hilarious.

What is the truth about penguins? Can they fly? Do they love tropical beaches and hate to swim? Are they really party animals?

When the ranger decides to correct the rumours, he does a wonderful job of setting out the facts. That is, until the penguins arrive.

What is the truth about penguins? Mark Jackson’s illustrations add extra twists of humour if you take the time to see. I’ll be going back many times to soak up the giggles and enjoy the action.


25 August 2010

The Poison Diaries

by Maryrose Wood
Based on a concept by the Duchess of Northumberland

Harper Collins Publishers. History, Mystery, Crime, Fantasy, Romance. Paperback rrp $19.99

Reviewed by Barbara Brown
Jessamine Luxton’s father, Thomas, is an apothecary in 18th century England. He is renowned throughout the area, so famous that the local Duke of Alnwick Castle has given him Hulne Abbey to live rent free so long as he tends the locals with their ailments. But Thomas Luxton couldn’t save his own wife and when the time comes he will not be able to save Jessamine.

Thomas agrees to employ Weed, an orphan boy who was working in a mental institution until his ‘special tea’ interfered with business by appearing to cure patients. Weed seems to know a lot more about the healing powers of plants than Thomas does. Could Weed assist Thomas with his desire to know all about the good and evil of plants? But Weed is a strange lad who doesn’t speak and likes to stay underground and in the dark.

With Jessamine’s help and patience, Weed changes and opens his heart and mind. Soon a love develops between the two and that is when the plants from the poisonous garden Thomas Luxton has locked away, begin to wield their magic.

Jessamine is betrothed to Weed but on her engagement night she becomes ill and Thomas and Weed have no idea how to save her. Weed is drawn to the poisonous garden and sets on a quest to save his beloved.

Weed has a special knowledge of plants and seems to be able to talk to them – or do they talk to him? What would it be like to be able to talk to the plants and flowers? The Poison Diaries is a tale of mystery, intrigue and magic with a plot that takes Weed, Jessamine and Thomas on a journey into their own hidden agendas. A wonderful story that will make you look at nature differently.


The Duchess of Northumberland lives in the real Alnwick Castle (also used as the set for Hogwarts Castle from the Harry Potter movies) and tends her own garden including the Poison Garden. You can view both the castle and the garden at these web sites http://www.alnwickcastle.com/ and http://www.alnwickgarden.com/.

24 August 2010

Noah’s Garden

by Mo Johnson and illustrated by Annabelle Josse

Walker Books. Australian, Picture Book. Hardback rrp $27.95

Guest Reviewer Jo Burnell

Noah’s Garden is full of wonders. Tigers, camels and pirates jostle with seaplanes and helicopters, but someone is missing the fun. Noah’s little sister hasn’t seen the swings or the fountain. Noah wonders if she ever will. He makes the biggest wish he can and plays on in the little paradise that lets his imagination run wild.

Annabelle’s creation of the different parts of Noah’s garden always hints at where he plays. Doctors are never far away, so where is Jessica? Can you put the clues together and discover where Noah’s garden hides?

A place of healing between the pages.

The importance of leafy refuges for siblings of the sick has never been made so clear.


23 August 2010

Silk Chaser

by Peter Klein

Pan Macmillan. Australian, Crime, Mystery. Paperback rrp $32.99

Reviewed by Barbara Brown

Female strappers around Melbourne’s racing tracks are being viciously killed. The killer has left DNA evidence but the police are no closer in capturing him. Despite the words Silk Chaser written on the walls, no-one knows why he has chosen particular women. The only thing in common is the girl’s occupation. Horses are being pulled from races as the women in the industry grow nervous and the union is threatening to strike. The racing fraternity is worried.
John Punter is a professional horse gambler and the son of a stable owner. His life is complicated when he starts dating, Maxine. Maxine’s father is the biggest name in radio and also one of Punter’s father’s major clients. Maxine’s dad doesn’t think Punter is good enough for his little girl.

On top of this, Punter’s restaurant, Gino’s, is being threatened by a protection racket. John Punter has a lot on his mind. Add to that the Strapper Killer.

When the killer gets personal, Punter has little choice but to become involved. Can he find the killer’s identity before it’s his life on the line?

Silk Chaser is a great Australian crime story. The killer, when identified, will make you reread the book to see if you have missed something. But you, like Punter, will not have missed a thing. It’s just that the killer is smarter than you think. Brilliant!

22 August 2010

A Strange Little Monster

by Sue Whiting, illustrated by Stephen Michael King

Puffin Books (a Subsidiary of Penguin) (Aussie Nibbles). Junior, Australian, Young Reader. Paperback rrp $12.95

Guest Reviewer Jo Burnell

This heart warming early chapter book is irresistible. Sasha lives in Grotty Hollow with all the other Grotty Hollow Monsters, but she is different. While they love to rumble, roar and go around scaring, Sasha prefers to play music and sit among the daisies. Even though she has googly eyes and spikes, just like all the others, making scary faces just doesn’t feel right. She tries to do what all the other monsters love, but it just makes her tummy feel funny.

Can Sasha ever be happy in Grotty Hollow? The pressure to please her parents doesn’t help. When Sue Whiting steers the tale, happy endings do happen even when you are different. The secret is staying true to yourself.

Hiding beneath deceptively simple sentence structure lies a story of hope that echoes for all ages. A Strange Little Monster will be a timeless tale of hope for years to come.

The Reading Stack reviewed Sue Whiting's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Freaky in 2009.

21 August 2010

The Night Fairy

by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Angela Barrett

Candlewick Press. Junior Fiction. Hardback rrp $24.95

Guest Reviewer Christina Miesen

‘Flory was a night fairy. She was born a little before midnight, when the moon was full.’ Flory is less than three months old when her peril begins. A bat damages her beautiful wings and she is no longer able to fly. She decides to become a day fairy.
Set in a garden where a giantess leaves seeds and syrup, Flory is introduced to the daytime world of nature, animals and insects. She begins to understand her fairy powers, and the meaning of friendship.

To me, The Night Fairy is a tale of survival. Flory is in an environment alien to herself, facing dangers and everyday situations without the guidance of other fairies. She begins by manipulating and bribing animals for food and shelter, and ends up by protecting a hummingbird and its eggs from predators.

Flory is brave, bold and resourceful. This book is for those with a love of nature, adventure, and fairies.

Angela Barrett exquisitely illustrates The Night Fairy. One of the joys of turning the pages of this beautiful book is coming across Angela’s full-coloured artwork. Her depiction of Flory and her little garden world are stunning.


Christina Miesen is an Australian author with a number of books published. You can check her out at http://www.christinamiesen.com.au/

20 August 2010

Madigan Mine

by Kirstyn McDermott

Picador (Pan Macmillan Australia). Adult Fiction, Australian. Paperback, rrp $32.99

The story starts with Madigan’s funeral. Alex is sorry she’s dead but relieved the relationship is over and she can’t reach out to him again. He wants to leave the past behind and that includes any association with the “marionettes”, his name for Madigan’s friends and followers. He wants to forget the bad memories.

Madigan was the love of his young life, a childhood sweetheart. When her family moved overseas he was devastated. Many years later she returns, keen to renew their friendship. They quickly become lovers.

As a little girl, rich and beautiful, Madigan always got what she wanted. ‘Mine’, she used to yell. Now Alex belongs to her. He’s aware of her possessiveness but it’s not a problem for him. “Madigan, mine,” he thinks in return.

At first, Alex refuses to see that Madigan’s behaviour is often irrational and unbalanced. She has a genetic heart condition that could kill her any day and uses her fear of death to justify increasingly erratic activity. Alex readily believes her excuses. Because she is sick. Because he loves her.

His friend Ruth warns him that Madigan is dangerous but Alex ignores her advice. As Madigan becomes more irrational and threatens Alex with a knife, the relationship unravels. By the time she commits suicide, they have parted.

But Madigan has found a way to hang on to Alex even in death and her purpose is chilling. This dark and supernatural thriller will keep you awake at night but that won’t stop you from reading it. A real page-turner.


19 August 2010

Tilly’s Treasure

by Sue Walker, illustrated by Chantal Stewart

Puffin (a subsidiary of Penguin) (Aussie Nibbles). Junior, Young Reader, Australian. Paperback, rrp $12.95

Guest Reviewer Jo Burnell

How can Tilly ever compete in a world that thrives on the latest sensation? Her classmates are forever bringing new gadgets to school. The constant focus is on what is fancier and better.

What do you do when these things are out of your reach? Is there any chance of being accepted? Is that the only way to make friends? Tilly tries to keep up with the other girls, but her things are never quite good enough. Her hula hoop is mended with sticky tape and her skipping rope is stained with oil.

What does it take to belong? Creativity is far more interesting and fun than bling could ever be. It just takes some people a while to realise. Tilly’s Treasure has a lasting message that will echo in the heart long after the book is closed. Such depth of storyline is rare in an early reader. Sue Walker has truly created a timeless treasure.


The Reading Stack has reviewed two of Chantal Stewart's illustrated books I Spy Mum and I Spy Dad.

18 August 2010


by Jan Ramage, illustrated by Mark Wilson

black dog books. Australian, Picture Book. Hardback rrp $24.99

If you are looking for a picture book for young children that offers a positive message about the environment without pushing the point - I’ve found it. Stranded is based on a true story of a young boy who helped save the lives of many whales.

Ben lives near the ocean. He fishes and understands the creatures surrounding his town. When he notices his dog acting weirdly and hears strange sounds, he knows exactly what to do.

Over 100 whales are stranded on Ben’s beach. The locals and the authorities come to the rescue. Ben notices a baby whale and spends all day trying to prevent the whale from beaching itself. Over the next 24 hours, the townsfolk work together to help save the whales, including Ben’s small baby.

With eerily poetic illustrations, Mark Wilson has brought the ocean and the community together. The picture of Ben trying so hard to keep the baby whale afloat, whilst he thrashes the water across the page, was so realistic I was tempted to brush the pages to dry them.

Stranded is a book that children will love to read and look at time and time again.

The Reading Stack reviewed Mark Wilson’s My Mothers Eyes and Journey of the Sea Turtle in March and June 2009 respectively.


17 August 2010

Trouble at the Zoo

bindi Wildlife Adventures

by Bindi Irwin

Random House. Children’s Fiction, Australian. Paperback rrp $9.95

Bindi Irwin is a remarkable eleven-year-old who has seen a lot more than most of us ever will. She has had the unique opportunity to grow up amongst the greatest creatures of Australia and the world.

In the first of this eight book series, Bindi is holding her birthday party at the family’s zoo. Everyone at the zoo is invited. It all seems to be going to plan for the fun underwater-themed party but there is one guest who isn’t happy about being there.

Zac is also celebrating his birthday today but because of his younger sister, he has to spend his tenth birthday at Australia Zoo when he could have been spending it with his mates. What could be more boring! The only good part is that Zac likes lizards.

He thinks that one of the Australia Zoo’s lizards may just be the perfect present for himself.

Bindi’s brother, Robert is always watching. Luckily, Bindi rescues what could have been an unfortunate experience for Zac, and finally gets him to smile.

Trouble at the Zoo is a light read for children, sending a positive message about the environment and animal welfare. I would recommend this book for all primary school libraries throughout Australia.


16 August 2010

Fool’s Gold

by Margaret Clark

Penguin (Aussie Bites). Australian, Junior. Paperback rrp $12.95

Guest Reviewer Jo Burnell

Aussie Bites are always entertaining easy-reads, but Fool’s Gold is so much more. Margaret Clark has recreated the 19th century gold mining town of Ballarat, complete with its tent city. She’s covered the historical detail, and then overlaid a factional mystery. The kids in this story might not be real, but their lives and the difficulties they face are straight from the dusty streets of 150 years ago.

History books can be boring and difficult to understand, but Margaret Clark brings this part of the world to pulsating life. When you take best friends who are struggling to survive, a well-stocked local store and a legend about a hidden stash of gold, you have all the ingredients for an action-packed adventure. Add an interfering girl who wants the gold for herself and things get interesting.

Is there really a ghost guarding the hidden stash of gold? Does that gold really exist? Would you risk permanent bad luck in the hope of feeding your family? When does borrowing become stealing?

Get ready for a tale that moves so quickly, you will wonder where the pages went.


15 August 2010

Because You Are With Me

by Kylie Dunstan

Hachette Children’s Books. Australian, Picture Book. Hardback rrp $28.99

The little girl can do anything as long as her father is with her. Isn’t that what fathers are for? To help to learn to ride a bike, to climb that wobbly rope ladder, and to swim in the deep end.

Dunstan’s bold colourful paper collages cleverly give an almost physical dimension to the story.

Because You Are With Me celebrates the special bond between one little girl and her father. It would make the most wonderful gift for any father, or grandfather, on father’s day.

Kylie Dunstan’s picture book Collecting Colour won the 2009 CBCA Award for Picture Book of the Year.


13 August 2010

More Cakes for Kids

The Australian Women’s Weekly

ACP Books (Random House). Adult Non-Fiction, Children's Non-Fiction, Australian. Paperback rrp $29.95

Reviewed by Barbara Brown

This beautifully presented, bright covered, sparkling cookbook was sitting amongst a number of other books on my dining table when my six year old son’s eyes were drawn to it. Soon it was bedtime and the next thing I know he is sitting beside me with More Cakes for Kids in his hot little hands wanting to read it as a bedside story.

Yes it is a cookbook. Yes it is all about making wonderful cakes to delight children. And yes there is something there for everyone. My boy couldn’t decide on which cake he would like for his birthday so he has chosen two! He has even done an A4 drawing of each of the cakes to remind me. I only have six months to create them.

You can never go wrong with a Women’s Weekly Cookbook, the original cookbook is still used in my house, and after looking through More Cakes for Kids I am quite confident that my simple culinary skills will be able to handle all of these cakes. There are 70 cakes to choose from, from a Chicken Cake to Ice-cream Sundaes, from Board Shorts to a Circus Tent. There is even the selection of numbers. All children’s tastes (and some older people) will be happy. My son’s two favourites – the Buzzy Beehive and Tiny Town.

One cake book I would definitely recommend to have in your cupboard – you could even use the examples to create great adult cakes. And all ingredients including decorations are listed in the back with photos and easily accessible from your local supermarket. A template sheet is tucked away nicely in the back sleeve of the book for extra help in your next creation. Let’s get cooking.

11 August 2010

Monstrum House

Locked In

by Z Fraillon

Hardie Grant Egmont, Junior Fiction, Paperback, rrp $ 14.95

Reviewed by Sandy Fussell

Monstrum House is a special kind of school. Its students are all troublemakers like Jasper McPhee, already expelled from three schools in one year. These students have exactly the talents necessary to hunt monsters. At Monstrum House hunting monsters and being hunted by them is what education is all about.

The teachers are harsh, the lessons are cruel and the prefects merciless. But that might be just the training Jasper and his new friends Felix and Saffy, require to survive a monster encounter. Beware the Snobleshriek, the Sizzleguzzler and the Bogglemorph. This book has black and white illustrations of them all.

Readers 9+ will love these in-the-real-world monsters and the idea that adults, their brains shrinking with age, are too small-minded to believe in the danger all around them. It’s up to kids to save the day.

This is the first book in what promises to be both a fun and frightening series. One small warning – it does prescribe to the incomplete cliff-hanger ending which can be disappointing if the next book is not readily available to the reader and the hero is left in monstrous danger. But I suspect most will agree with me – worth the wait!

09 August 2010

School for Heroes

Lessons for a Werewolf Warrior

by Jackie French and illustrated by Andrea F Potter

Harper Collins Publishers Australia. Australian, Fantasy, Junior. Paperback rrp $20.00

Guest Reviewer - Tenaya aged 11

This book, falling into the fantasy genre, is about a young werewolf, Boojum Bark, who is living life happily with his mother running the “Best Ice Cream Shop in the Universe”. On Christmas Eve he sniffs out trouble and finds his mother stuck to the ground with strawberry jam, and he is stuck as well, while an evil creature, Greedle, steals his mum and the best ice cream in the world. He gets himself and the town mayor, who came to help, out of the trouble but his mum is gone.

A Hero is called to the trouble and tells Boo that he has the destiny to become a Hero. Boo is shocked but takes up the challenge to go to the School for Heroes, mainly to try to find his mum. After a very embarrassing first day, he pursues and makes friends with Mug and the mysterious Yesterday, all the while trying his hardest to please Princess Sunbeam Caresse von Pewke. Using their unique talents, the five (four, mainly - the princess seems to always forget something back in her own universe) can overcome even the hardest of challenges.

I liked the humour of this book, and the cleverness of some of the sentences.

There was nothing I disliked, because the whole book was great!

I would rate this book 8 out of 10, because at the start it didn’t really intrigue me much.

I think it would be suitable for 9-12 year olds.


Editors Note: Two of our young readers chose to review this book. Check out Josie's review at http://thereadingstack.blogspot.com/2010/07/school-for-heroes.html

07 August 2010

Shadow Sister

by Simone van der Vlugt

Text Publishing Company. Adult Fiction, Crime, Mystery. Paperback rrp $32.95

Two identical sisters. Born to wealthy Dutch parents there was no need for either to pursue a career but they both did.

Lydia teaches the Dutch language to students from other countries, Elisa is a photographer with her own studio. Lydia is married with a young daughter. Elisa doesn’t seem to be able to stay with any one man except her good friend Thomas.

Life is good for the girls until Lydia is confronted by a knife-wielding student, stalked, threatened by letter and murdered at her front door. When the police cannot find any evidence of who the murderer is (the student has an alibi), Elisa decides to take up the search.

Is it as the police suggest - that it could have been a case of mistaking one sister for another? Is Elisa in danger? Why would anyone want either of the sisters dead? The story poses many questions and none of the answers are predictable.

Shadow Sister is a gripping tale narrated by both sisters. I’d have never guessed the killer. I can’t say any more… read it to find out for yourself. I bet you never guess either.


05 August 2010

Fatal Tango

by Wolfram Fleischhauer

Pan Macmillan Australia. Mystery, Romance, History. Paperback rrp $32.99

Set across two countries, Germany and Argentina, Fatal Tango is the story of lovers who try to defy their births and their history, to be together.

Giulietta Battin is a ballerina in the corps of the Berlin Opera Company. Damian Alsina is an Argentinian tango extraordinaire who is touring Germany. Giulietta is preparing herself for a new piece Tango Suite and wants to learn more about the dance of the tango and its music. Two people, different worlds, destined to collide.

Their passionate affair awakens Giulietta to the wonderful world of the tango and a man she has completely fallen in love with. But her dominating father is not happy and when Giulietta arrives home to her flat to find her father bound and gagged and Damian gone, she is devastated.

Desperate to find Damien, Giulietta takes flight to Argentina but what she discovers is a country lost and in despair.

Everyone Giulietta meets warns her to stay away from Damian or el loco (crazy), as the locals call him, but she knows there is something important in his unusual dance style and has started to interpret what he has been trying to say through dance.

Fatal Tango is about the tango, attraction and the political history of a country run by a cruel dictatorship. A fantastic story.


03 August 2010

Gunshot Road

by Adrian Hyland

The Text Publishing Company. Australian, Crime, Mystery. Paperback rrp $32.95

Guest Reviewer – Ian Brown

With Gunshot Road, Adrian Hyland has created a great crime story.

Set in the Australian outback, the hero, Emily Tempest, is a gutsy woman who sets out to solve a murder. The characters she meets along the way are the sort of people you would expect living in an isolated town in the middle of nowhere – tough, real down to earth.

This is a great read, you can almost taste the dirt, dust of the outback. The best Australian crime novel I have read in a long time.

Adrian Hyland’s first novel, Diamond Dove, won the 2007 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction.

01 August 2010

Beautiful Malice

by Rebecca James

Allen and Unwin. Australian, Mystery, Young Adult. Paperback rrp $24.99

Two years ago Katherine, or Katie as she was known then, was a popular, outgoing girl with a gorgeous boyfriend and a family and lifestyle she adored. Then she changed her name, moved interstate, and attended the largest school so she would not be noticed.

She has a secret she doesn’t want anyone to know about. Yet Katherine is only seventeen years old. What is she running away from and why does she want to shrink into the shadows?

The most beautiful, popular and wealthy female in her year, Alice, singles Katherine out to be her friend. With Alice’s friendship Katherine changes, the weight of the previous few years lifts as she becomes the girl she once was. But then Alice finds out the truth about Katherine and Katherine starts to see the real girl behind the fa├žade that Alice displays to the public.

Both girls have a secret. Katherine’s is shared amongst friends and family and helps her cope. When Alice’s secret is finally revealed Katherine understands too late. Tragedy continues to haunt Katherine. Friendship can kill.

Beautiful Malice is a book that sucked me in and held me tight on its psychotic grip until the last page was turned. I returned to reality with an audible gasp and a spinning head. Brilliant!


Reviewed by Barbara Brown