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.

Sweet story with life lessons to boot

01:00pm 18 Apr 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: Little Truff and the Siamese Cat
By Ann Russell (annrussellwriter.com, RRP $26.50 including postage)

The second of a planned trio of books featuring the cute Little Truff, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel.

My parents had a Cav: he was decidedly dizzy and even in old age displayed the silliness of a young pup. In later life he lost an eye and their cat was delighted to discover the dog's blind spot and spent many an hour stalking poor Bonny, leaping out at him in glee from that no man's land of vision.

Aside from that, they were good mates and I always had a soft spot for that demented little dog, which is why I was taken by this book the moment I laid eyes on the cover: a Cav, and a cat. What more could you want?

Author Ann Russell is a staunch supporter of stopping testing on animals and her Little Truff books have been written with the help of animal welfare groups - the SPCA, the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society and the inspiration for the stories is Russell's own pet, a previously abused rescue dog by the name of Truffle (or "Little Truff").

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There's so much to like about Billy

01:00pm 17 Apr 2014

MAREE FIELD

BOOK REVIEW: Still Foolin 'Em
By Billy Crystal (Macmillan, RRP $40)

Billy Crystal is one of those actors that everyone knows of. His career is wide-ranging and various, and it feels like he's done a little bit of everything.

Still Foolin 'Em is part autobiography, part reflecting on ageing, and it's all pulled together by Crystal's self- deprecating humour and observations about life, ageing and the world around him.

He talks fondly of his childhood, and of the pain of losing his father at 15, something that has informed most of his decisions over the course of his life.

Crystal started out - like many comedians - touring around and playing in clubs of various quality. After he married and started having a family, he decided to look for something more stable.

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Who are you? Who-oo, oooo-ooo ... *

01:00pm 16 Apr 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

I'm a bit sick of the gazillion "which thing are you" quizzes cluttering up Internet-land at the moment, but as the old saying goes: if you can't beat them, join them.

So, here's a Which Mr Men character are you quiz, which is totally pointless but likely to be of interest anyway. Much like cricket.

Click here to take the quiz. Oh, and apparently, I'm Mr Nonsense.

* Apologies to The Who for my tuneless online rendition of their classic song in my blog headline.

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Harrowing accounts reveal disaster details

01:00pm 14 Apr 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: Fukushima: Japan's Tsunami and the Inside Story of the Nuclear Meltdowns
By Mark Willacy (Macmillan, RRP $40)

Three years ago, and just a couple of weeks after the deadly Canterbury quake, Japan was also hit by a big quake.

While more than 180 died in the 6.3 magnitude Canterbury quake of February 22, 2011, Japan initially got through the violent March 11 quake (a whopping magnitude 9) relatively unscathed. It was the ensuing tsunami that proved most deadly. According to Wikipedia, the National Police Agency confirmed 15,884 deaths across 20 prefectures. Of the 13,135 bodies recovered by a month after the tsunami, more than 90 per cent had died by drowning.

It was both fascinating and horrifying to watch as the disaster unfolded on live television, the tsunami building power and driving its way across the country, destroying everything in its path.

The greatest damage happened when the tsunami surged over the seawall of Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station, resulting in a multiple core meltdown that released vast quantities of radioactivity into the atmosphere and ocean.

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From our reviewers: General fiction

03:00pm 12 Apr 2014

Our reviewers take a look at general fiction books available now.

The Road from Midnight
By Wendyl Nissen (Paul Little Books, RRP $29.95)

Reviewed by Gaye Turner

New Zealand born Jane lives life in the limelight as editor of woman's fashion magazines in both Australia and then back in Auckland, New Zealand.

She marries Lawrence who features on news channels in New Zealand and is seeking his next news assignment in whatever way he needs to.

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