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.

Hilarity amid deluded need for bucket list

05:00am 08 Sep 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: When Mr Dog Bites
By Brian Conaghan (Bloomsbury, RRP $29)

Life for the average 16-year-old can be pretty tough, and for Dylan Mint, it is tougher than most.

Dylan isn't particularly average. In fact, he has Tourette's and his life is a constant battle to control his swearing, his tics, and - when he's under stress - his howling like a dog.

Could things be any worse for Dylan? Well yes, they could. During a routine hospital visit he overhears a conversation between his mother and the doctor that leads him to the conclusion he is dying. And soon.

On the strength of that he draws himself up something of a bucket list and proceeds to attempt to tick off the most important goals he has for his short life in the form of his three "cool things to do before I cack it".

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Gory, dark but compelling

05:00am 04 Sep 2014

JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN

BOOK REVIEW: A Song for the Dying
By Stuart MacBride (HarperCollins, RRP $35)

Scottish author Stuart MacBride has delivered yet another gritty, gruesome and somewhat uncomfortable murder mystery in A Song for the Dying.

Detective Inspector Ash Henderson was on the trail of a brutal killer dubbed "the Inside Man", who abducted and killed four women, and left a further three in critical condition with their stomachs slit open and a plastic doll stitched inside before simply disappearing.

Fast forward eight years, and Henderson's life is a mess: his family has been torn apart, his career is in ruins and a vicious criminal is making sure he spends the rest of his life in prison. Then, a dead woman turns up with a doll stitched inside her and Dr Alice McDonald realises those investigating that murder might just need the help of the one man who has experience in hunting this brutal killer: Henderson.

She convinces the authorities and Henderson is freed to work with the investigating team.

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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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