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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.

Revenge and justice central to storyline

05:00am 02 Sep 2014

F MULLIGAN

BOOK REVIEW: The Son 
By Jo Nesbo (Random House, RRP $38) 

Set in sunny summertime Oslo, a prison cell confession to a fellow inmate reveals a hidden secret about his father and spirals Sonny Lofthaus' life out of control.

For years Sonny had been taking punishment as a professional scapegoat. Now this revelation has unleashed a need to punish the wrongdoers who have fed off his despair. A jailbreak and a series of killings ensue. But, of course, the results of Sonny's righteous anger now means he is being sought by both the police and Oslo's top criminal gang.

This is a story of revenge and natural justice. It seems to cover most of the cliches: a clever older detective with personal demons, a young novice partner, and a powerful yet hidden-in-the- shadows crime lord. This is all comfortable territory; you care for/dislike the right lot, there is action aplenty and the careful revealing of Sonny's back story results in a good modern-day crime thriller.

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Compelling and edgy

05:00am 01 Sep 2014

NADINE HANCOCK

BOOK REVIEW: We Were Liars
By E Lockhart (Allen & Unwin, RRP $23)

E Lockhart's new novel, We Were Liars has been making waves on the book blogosphere for some time and has been recommended to listeners of all the book podcasts I listen to.

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It promised to be original and thrilling which is always exciting to lay your hands on. I couldn't wait to read it.

We Were Liars is the story of Cady, a member of the wealthy Sullivan family who spend their summers on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. On the island the family leave behind their everyday lives and settle into their holiday period isolated from the rest of the world. However, when Cady has an accident, their tranquillity and idealistic lives are thrown into turmoil.

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A walk on the wild side

05:00am 09 Aug 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: The Wandering Mind: What the Brain Does When You're Not Looking
By Michael C Corballis (Auckland University Press, RRP $35)

As often as I stop to think, then forget to start again, I am also plagued by bouts of my mind wandering off unattended and delivering all sorts of random thoughts that I then share with the world.

This is generally not a good thing: It is important to have some sort of filter system between the brain and the mouth, so you don't overshare in an overly honest kind of way. Unless you are Prince Philip, in which case embrace that lack of filter and share away.

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Cognitive psychologist Michael Corballis has made his living in the study of the human brain, and in this book he takes a look at what the brain gets up to when we're not looking.

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Satire fails to fire

05:00am 27 Aug 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn't My Fault) (And I'll Never Do It Again)
By P J O'Rourke (Grove Press UK, RRP $37)

Author P J O'Rourke has a knack for making hilarious observations on life, as shown by his earlier bestsellers, so I was expecting big things from his latest offering.

Unfortunately, I was just a wee bit disappointed.

Don't get we wrong, The Baby Boom is still a pretty decent read, it just doesn't live up to the standard of the earlier O'Rourke books that I have read.

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Tackling gender debate with lots of humour

03:00pm 15 Aug 2014

Are Men Obsolete: You Decide
Edited by Rudyard Griffiths (Ebury Press, RRP $20)

This little book takes on the gender debate with four talented feminist writers and critics taking a crack at the argument both for and against those hairy creatures we share our lives with: Men.

In centuries past, women have tended to end up getting a bit of a raw deal: We've put careers (and sometimes other hopes and dreams) on hold to raise families and support husbands, while said husbands have gone merrily on their way, with barely a care in the world and not a second thought for the little woman at home, wiping noses and bums as she scrubs his floors and cooks his dinner.

Self described "dissident feminist" and professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Camille Paglia, joins children's author, columnist, award-winning novelist and Bruce Springsteen fan Caitlin Moran against the argument, while Hanna Rosin (author, correspondent and columnist for everything from The Atlantic to the New York Times) and Pulitzer-prize winning Maureen Dowd argue that, yes, men really are so last century.

This lively debate kicks off with pre-debate interviews by the book's author, Rudyard Griffiths, and is followed by a post-debate commentary that wraps it all up nicely. The whole thing includes plenty of humour and while it won't answer any of those burning questions about where to from here, it will provide a spot of entertainment.

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