Book Chooks

They're faster than a speeding bookmark, more powerful than the glue on the pricetag on the cover of your favourite book and able to leap tall paperbacks in a single bound ... and they read. A lot. Jillian Allison-Aitken and Nadine Hancock are the Book Chooks.

Return to the Manor a treat

03:00pm 01 Dec 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: Dog Gone, Back Soon
By Nick Trout (Allen & Unwin, RRP $37)

I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but I missed the buzz over author Nick Trout's earlier novels. The biggest buzz of all has been about The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs, which hit bookstores last year.

I caught up on that particular wee gem while I was on holiday in Australia a couple of months ago, and fell in love with what turned out to be a charming little novel about a bloke who inherits his father's vet practice.

Dr Cyrus Mills is our hero, and the dire circumstances of a life that isn't going quite as well as he had hoped mean he reluctantly returns home to rural Vermont, and the Bedside Manor for Sick Animals.

Making the move from reclusive pathologist to family vet pulls Cyrus out of his comfort zone and offers up some life lessons that change him forever, and for the better.

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From our reviewers: Younger readers

06:00am 01 Dec 2014

The Chronicles of Narmo 
By Caitlin Moran (Random House, RRP $20)

Reviewed by Naida Mulligan

First published by Corgi in 1992, this delightful home-school romp was written by 16-year-old Caitlin Moran who is now an award-winning The Times critic, interviewer and columnist. She has authored two other novels in the intervening years. My favourite part of the book is Moran's introduction in which she details the struggle to not only write a novel but to also get it published. All very encouraging really.

The Narmo family are recovering from Christmas when there is some talk of the benefits of being home-schooled. To their surprise, the parents withdraw the Narmo children from school and so begins a year in which the five children, their two pets and their unfortunate parents spend an inordinate amount of time in the family home, each seemingly doing their own thing.

A fun read.

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Reviews: Advice and self-help books

05:00am 30 Oct 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Mindful Learning
By Dr Chris Hassed and Dr Richard Chambers (Exisle Publishing, RRP $35)

In these busy times we have a tendency to do things with a lot of thought, often resulting in a lack of connection and a lack of interest.

Clinical psychologist Dr Richard Chambers and Dr Craig Hassed understand that "mindfulness" is an essential part of learning and are keen to encourage all of us to adopt better learning habits by being present and accountable.

Subtitled "reduce stress and improve brain performance for effective learning", this book is a comprehensive guide to doing just that. Using what the book says is the proven stress management technique of mindfulness, they reckon you can improve your brain performance for effective learning.

Some of the content comes across as a bit fluffy and being a practical person, I figure it's really the modern-day version of the whole "sit up straight and pay attention" delivered by my standard 4 teacher Mrs Bridgeman with the assistance of a well aimed blackboard duster.

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Grylls delivers - and some

05:00am 20 Sep 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: True Grit Junior Edition
By Bear Grylls (Corgi Juvenile, RRP $20)

I wasn't really expecting to enjoy this book but am pleased to say I was proved wrong.

Let me begin by owning up to one thing in particular: I'm not greatly enamoured of Bear Grylls.

While his fans watch his various "boy's own adventure" TV shows and no doubt puff out their chest in collective pride at the antics of their seemingly invincible superhero, I just find him annoying. And a little smug.

Sure, he could probably survive for a year in the wilderness with just a half- sucked wine gum and a dead possum for sustenance, drinking his own urine and using the possum's pelt as a sleeping bag, but I don't really care.

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French idioms ... and bidets

11:00am 27 Oct 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: They Eat Horses Don't They? The Truth About the French
By Piu Marie Eatwell (HarperCollins, RRP $37)

Have you ever wondered what life in France is really like?

Is it all garlic and fabulousness? Berets and croissants? What do they do with bidets? Do they really eat horses?

In this quirky little book, Piu Marie Eatwell reveals the truth behinds 45 myths about France and its citizens.

The author lived in France for many years, and her observations paint a fascinating - and often hilarious - picture of a nation that embraces its history every bit as much as it embraces its future.

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