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.

Celebrating the wonder of 'show day'

02:33am 23 Jan 2015


BOOK REVIEW: One Hundred Summers
By John Cutt (Winton A & P Association, RRP $45)

In what is a deceptively compact little book, former Southland Times farming reporter John Cutt packed in a wealth of history and information that covers 100 years of the Winton A & P Association.

Subtitled ‘‘celebrating the achievements of the Winton A&P Association’’, the book is also a celebration of the people who have contributed to the agriculture heritage of the region and the association over the past century.

I’m very much a townie but being a born-and-bred Southlander, I appreciate the important place the A & P Associations, and their shows, hold in our past, present and (hopefully) future. While young’uns today probably don’t feel the same sense of excitement those of us of a certain age did when it comes to ‘‘show day’’ (a day off school, toffee apples and the wonders of the show ... could it get any better?), there is still a bit of a buzz generated around the annual events.

I still vividly remember the smell of the chooks and the clatter of the traction engines and other fascinating but mysterious (to a townie such as myself) machinery and thinking to myself how awesome it would be to live on a farm.

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Classic Reacher in latest offering

12:55am 16 Jan 2015


By Lee Child (Bantam Press, RRP $38)

There’s nothing quite like getting your hands on the latest Jack Reacher adventure and this latest offering is a cracker.Lee-Child-personal.jpg

Action hero Reacher, the ex-military cop who is now something of a one-man army, is back and as the title of the book would suggest, this time it’s personal.

Someone has taken a pot shot at the French President. And not just any old someone: whoever it was had some pretty impressive sniper skills, incredibly accurate from an incredible distance.

The shooter might not have hit the president, but with the shot making a hole in the safety barrier from a huge distance, the powers that be are worried that it may have been a practice run for the G8 summit coming up in London, meaning even bigger targets.

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Return to the Manor a treat

03:00pm 01 Dec 2014


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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