Review: A mammoth in the fridge – moved

A mammoth in the fridge
A mammoth in the fridge by Michaël Escoffier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A funny book with a lovely twist at the end. Perfect for younger readers.

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Review: Barnaby Grimes: Phantom of Blood Alley – moved

Barnaby Grimes: Phantom of Blood Alley
Barnaby Grimes: Phantom of Blood Alley by Paul Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Barnaby Grimes is an excellent series. The characters are engaging, the plots intriguing and the world building is great. The whole is enhance by the wonderful illustrations from Chris Riddell.

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Review: The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher

The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher
The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher by Doug MacLeod
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Doug Macleod is one of Australia’s premier writers – full stop. From Sister Madge’s Book of Nuns, through The Comedy Company and Kath & Kim, and My Incredible Life and Death, to the beautiful Siggy and Amber, Tumble Turn (swoons) and The Clockwork Forest.
The Life of a Teenage Body-snatcher follows young Thomas Timewell, “sixteen and a gentleman”. We meet Thomas as he is attempting to steal the newly-buried body of his grandfather. An unusual pastime for a young gentleman, you might think. And you would be right. But Thomas is just trying to fulfil Grandfather’s dying wish – for his body to be donated to science. Unfortunately, Thomas mother doesn’t think this is a good idea, and so grandfather goes into the ground. And also unfortunately, body-snatching is against the law, and Thomas risks going to jail for the sake of his grandfather.
Fortunately for Thomas (and Grandfather), he meets a resurrectionist named Plenitude. Plenitude is a man of honour, wisdom and care, and is, as it turns out, the perfect person to have caught Thomas digging noisily into Grandfather’s grave.
The Life of a Teenage Body-snatcher is funny, black, thoughtful and moving. It is definitely one of Doug MacLeod’s best books in a long history of excellent writing.

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Review: The Undys: Let the Games Begin

The Undys: Let the Games Begin
The Undys: Let the Games Begin by Michael Wagner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Undys are Josh and Phil. They are two blokes – son and dad – who live in a unit in a block of flats. Josh and Phil are great mates, although it’s not clear who is the youngest of the two! 🙂 They are always making up great games on the spot, like Gut-Barging and Hallway Soccer, and seem to always be having heaps of fun. This really annoys Josh’s aunt, who thinks that they are both very childish – and she is right. There are lots of laughs, and lots of love in this humourous story for younger readers.

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Review: A Straight Line To My Heart

A Straight Line To My Heart
A Straight Line To My Heart by Bill Condon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bill Condon writes wryly moving novels that speak to the heart of family and the teenage experience. His previous novels have dealt with dysfunctional families, naive Catholic adolescents in the 50s, unusual blended families, and hard things to talk about like family violence and grief.
In A Straight Line to my Heart, Tiff lives with Reggie and Bull. The kindness of strangers has saved the younger Tiff from an orphanage. Reggie’s family are friends of Tiff’s aunt, who is unable to care for the little girl, and they take Tiff in and love her as their own. And Tiff repays their love with her own deep and profound love of them.
This story opens as Tiff visits the library, her sanctuary of quiet familiarity at a time of change and upheaval in her life. Tiff and Kayla have just finished their last year of school, and their lives are in a state of flux. A young man approaches Tiff in the library, and Tiff is drawn to him in a way that she doesn’t understand.
There are a number of conflicting and overlapping story lines in this novel – friendship, family, adult- and childhood, first love, grief and change, and Condon handles them all with aplomb and heartfelt authenticity.

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On the Plane

I love being on the plane. There’s so much to look at.

People with kids are always a source of interest when one is kid-free and flying. There was only one noisy baby on today’s flight, and it* was erractically rather than continuously grumpy. And I had Foundling: and Lamplighter: Monster Blood Tattoo to keep me emotionally separated from the angst that creates.

I sat beside a lovely lady who had been on the move all day. Travelling from East Gippsland to Perth, she** has traversed the nation from east to west today – quite literally. Bet is visiting her sister in a town east of Perth***. She hasn’t seen her sister since January, when she flew to Perth on a whim. As we talked further I discovered more and more about Bet and her family. The reason that she flew to Perth in January was that her daughter’s birthday is in January. Not so unusual, except that her daughter died from secondary breast cancer a year and a week ago. Bet’s son-in-law had gone on holiday with their kids, and she was home alone and feeling blue. So a quick hop over to Perth was in order.

Now, I’ve already mentioned that it was a year and a week since her daughter died, and that was part of the reason for today’s trip to Perth, but there was an ulterior motive – Bet and her sister have booked tickets to see ‘Our Boy’ – Damien Leith! She was as pleased-as-punch to be spending 2 weeks with her sister, and it was obvious that seeing Damien Leith was going to be a highlight.

Boab trees. Bet’s sister, Denise, has recently moved from up north, the Kimberley area. She and her partner, Peter, used to own a boab tuber farm. They grew the tubers for sale to people to grow****, but also to use in cooking. I know! Cooking! Denise made boab chutney, boab cookies (really!), and they sold the tubers to restaurants around the world. Apparently they are similar to water chestnuts. Who’d a thunk it?

Bet was great to sit next to. She was interesting to talk to, but also let me go back to my audiobook when I felt like it.

Thanks, Bet! J

And I found it really interesting to watch four tv’s at once, playing Limitless with Bradley Cooper, while listening to Monster Blood Tattoo. Surreal.

* I was going to write ‘she’ but as I didn’t really know the gender of the baby I thought that might not be fair.

** We didn’t exchange names, so I’m going to call her Bet from now on.

*** I don’t know Perth at all, so I’ve already forgotten the name of the town.

**** Who needs a boab tree in their back yard?!