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BZRK by Michael Grant

On the back cover of Michael Grant’s novel BZRK there is a warning. “Warning! Contains scenes of cruelty and violence”. This book, with its black matt cover broken only by a close up of an eye and embossed copper caps, is not for the faint of heart.

Michael Grant has already shown us that he can do suspenseful, action packed stories with engaging characters in his incredibly popular Gone series. He appears to be a writer who loves to play with the ‘what if?’ concept. In Gone Grant asks what would happen if every human over the age of 15 disappeared one day. In BZRK it is the more likely and therefore in my mind scarier question of what might happen if nanotechnology was weaponised that dominates the book.

In this future vision of our world, some have the power to create personalised nanobots that can crawl inside the very skin (or “down in the meat” as Grant writes) of another human and attack the brain. The aim of the baddies in this book is widespread mind control, and only a small group of mostly teens have the power and technology to stop them.

The chase scenes inside the human body are quite frankly, thrilling. We are introduced to a strange but also sort of familiar world in which blood cells fly by like Frisbees, and hair is like tree trunks, all navigated by nano creatures of Grant’s not so far-fetched imagination.

The thing that really attracts me to Grant’s writing, however, is not just the action but the heart of the story. Grant creates real characters that relate to each other and themselves in a believable and engaging way. While the story covers many points of view, the protagonist, Sadie is especially appealing, with a tough as nails exterior coming to grips with a world she never really understood. It is in this way that Grant stands out from other writers who specialise in the ‘edge of your seat’ experience, engaging readers on an emotional level as well – which only adds to the urgency of the plot.

This book is just the first in the series, so don’t expect a neat ending. Enough is resolved, however, that you don’t feel cheated. And while you wait for the next in the series there is plenty to keep you occupied on the BZRK website - http://gobzrk.com. There are comics explaining the back story of different characters, a community ready and waiting to sign you up and even a free app so you can play at being your own nanobot type creature.

I recommend this book to anyone without a sensitive stomach. After all, that warning is there for a reason!

- Celia

Summer Read 2013

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Your Library invites you to participate in the Summer Read 2013.

The program, delivered in partnership with the State Library of Victoria, is based on 10 selected books, fiction and non-fiction, written by Victorians or set in Victoria. This adult reader-engagement program takes place over summer, when many Victorians have time to enjoy reading.

The ten selected books will appeal to readers with a broad range of tastes – crime, humour, popular and literary fiction, biography and memoir.

After the often hectic pace of life throughout the year, the Summer Read encourages us all to relax and recharge – and the best way to do that is with a terrific book.

Readers also have the chance to win fantastic prizes by filling out an entry form at your local library.

The 2013 Summer Read books are:
The Summer Read competition will run from 2 January to 3 March 2013.

Cardinia Creek at Soldiers Road, Beaconsfield

Links to our Past - history -

The first four photographs, below, are of the Cardinia Creek at Soldiers Road, taken in the late 1970s. They also show the old wooden bridge which was replaced around 1980 with a wider, concrete bridge. Bucolic, riparian and nostalgic are words that spring to mind to describe these photographs.  They were taken by the City of Berwick.

This is the construction of the new Soldiers Road bridge and shows the Beaconsfield Railway Station in the background.
 Above and below, the circa 1980 concrete bridge on Soldiers Road,  over the Cardinia Creek.

Utilitarian and functional are the words that spring to mind to describe this scene.

Silver linings

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Since being made into a major motion picture starring  Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence,The Silver-linings Playbook has received much attention for its portrayal of mental illness and American's behaviour to those affected by it.

Author Matthew Quick handles the issue with humour and irreverent honesty. Main character, Pat Quick, has come home to his parent's house after spending 4 or 5 years in a mental institution after he and his wife, Nikki call a break on their marriage. Pat is desperately trying to 'be kind' and improve himself for Nikki who everyone else tells him is never coming back.

We meet an assortment of characters, Pat's kind and unhappy mother, his angry and emotionally-crippled father who doesn't speak to Pat unless their baseball team is winning, a brother who has gotten married whilst Pat was in hospital, his unconventional therapist Cliff who becomes a friend, and Tiffany, the sister-in-law of Pat's best friend who lost her husband in a car crash and subsequently 'slept around' with any man who was willing. Tiffany and Pat form an unusual friendship based on lies, healing and a mutual need to make sense of themselves through daily exercise.

This is a fantastic read, one I simply could not put down and found myself up at 2am Boxing Day finishing off after picking it up after Christmas lunch. Recommended to those who enjoy personal stories told with a light touch and who believe in silver linings.


Our Best Reads 2012

Reading Rewards - reviews -

As this year draws to a close, what would you do without the annual Best Reads for the Year list from your RR Team!  So ... without further ado:

Monique: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
This Young Adult title is one I listened to as a Bolinda e-Audiobook and have really enjoyed the series (Wolves of Mercy Falls).  After a  close encounter with the wolves as a child,  Grace is obsessed with the wolves that are ever present in the forest near her house during winter. After discovering their secrets, she tries to find a way to keep her love, Sam, and her friends human for the winter and possibly forever.

Michelle couldn't split her top two:
Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – because it was an intriguing light mystery, meshing technology and mysticism in a engaging manner.  And The Boy Who Fell to Earth by Kathy Lette – because of its humour which made me laugh out loud on a number of occasions, between all the insightful issues of life with someone with Asperger Syndrome.

A fiction and a non-fiction from Teresa:
Annabel by Kathleen Winter.  A truly poignant story of a hermaphrodite baby born in a remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada. This tale, told from the points of view of first the mother, then the father and finally of the child (by then a teenager) him/herself, is tragic, disturbing but ultimately liberating. The reader is challenged by themes of personal identity, sexuality, parenthood and the multitude of forms love can take. This book touched me in ways few others have for many years.

The Golden Door: letters to America, by A.A. Gill
Gill's wonderful book is a witty, non-judgmental celebration of the craziness of the American people today. Gill travelled for a year around the not so well known locations of the USA – small towns populated by “average” citizens of the nation which, despite all its present day problems, still occupies a position of great power and influence on the world stage. He highlights their bigotry, religious fanaticism and patriotism, along with their generosity, courage and spirit of optimism. A gem of a read.

Cenza:  My favourite book of 2013 is the Young Adult title, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It's not often that you finish a book and have a feeling that you just had an amazing experience.  The main character, 16-year old Hazel, is living with terminal cancer and meets Augustus at the Kids with Cancer support group.  Having experienced life and death with a terminal cancer sufferer I found the characters to be so realistic - when facing death there is no right or wrong way to behave - and in this book the characters tackle life, death and love in differing ways. The title, taken from Shakespeare's  Julius Caesar: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings" leads to the lifelong questions of  How will I be remembered? Does my life, and will my death, have meaning? These questions are all tackled by the characters in how they live and love, how they live in the shadow of death and how that shadow effects their relationships with their families and each other. I was deeply moved by this book, as was my teenage daughter.

Lisa:  I read so many wonderful novels in 2012 that I can't chose just one, so I'm choosing a non-fiction title instead - Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King by Lisa Rogak. As a fan, I've read many other Stephen King biographies, but this was the most enjoyable. It was a comprehensive cataloguing of his life (as the title suggests) as well as an insight into the stories behind the stories.  As a writer, it's always fascinating to learn where the "seeds" of another writer's stories first germinated. This title is a must-read for every Stephen King fan.

Pru:  The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman.  This mesmerizing Australian novel has been a bestselling book around the world, and Hollywood movie rights were recently snapped up by Dreamworks, with David Heyman (Harry Potter) set to produce. A debut novel full of atmosphere - love can take you to strange places. A story of right and wrong and how sometimes they look the same.  This is an atmospheric debut novel steeped in history but one where love leaves the sting of the salt spray and lashes from the wind.

Deb also offers her best fiction and non-fiction:
Kindling by Darren Groth.  From the cover:  A father – Nate, doing the best he can to honour his wife’s memory and his child’s future.  An autistic son – Kieran, learning to make his way in a world he’d rather not engage with.  Two lives burned by the past and redefined on a smoke-filled summer afternoon when a young boy attempts to make amends.
Stock up on the tissues ... Kindling is the heart-wrenching attempts of grandfather, father and son to understand each other. It’s a poignant and achingly beautiful novel; it's Australian; and just pips The Light Between Oceans as my favourite read of the year.

For non-fiction, Harry Potter: Page to Screen - the complete filmmaking journey by Bob MCabe was brilliant! This huge book opens the doors to Hogwarts castle and the wizarding world of Harry Potter to reveal the complete behind-the-scenes secrets, techniques, and over-the-top artistry that brought J.K. Rowling's acclaimed novels to cinematic life. I made sure I read all the text, as it was too easy to wander aimlessly in the hundreds of stunning photos, some super-large fold out ones. A totally absorbing and dare I say it, magical book!

Happy Holiday Reading everyone!
Deb & The Team at RR.

Anna and the French kiss

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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Anna is devastated when her dad suddenly announces that she'll be completing her senior year in a boarding school in Paris. Anna is forced to leave her best friend and family, for a forgein country where she doesn't even speak the language. 
However, on her first day of school Anna runs into St Clair who is funny, charming and of course gorgeous. As their relationship progresses Anna starts to doubt his feelings for her, and whether or not he will ever leave his long term girlfriend.
While this story has a predictable outcome, Stephanie Perkins brilliantly captures the difficulties of starting new friendships as well as the excitement and mystery at the beginning of new relationships. 
This book is now one of my all time favourites. It is difficult to fully describe how awesome it is, but once you read it you'll understand. Would recommend it to everyone, but in particular teenage girls and fans of romance with a little bit of comedy thrown in. Five stars!
~ Natalie

Bulwer-Lytton Award

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is dedicated to finding the worst opening sentence to a novel.  The name of the contest is after Edward George Bulwer-Lytton who wrote the iconic opening line, "It was a dark and stormy night".
Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England, has earned the dubious honour of being selected as the 2012 winner with this:
"As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny demodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting."
Good grief! - Deb.

Cr Jeune Matthews

Links to our Past - history -

I wish to commemorate the passing of the late Cr Jeune Matthews, who was a Councillor from 1972 until 1988, originally for the Shire of Berwick and from 1973 for the Shire of Pakenham, which was created when the Shire of Berwick split (the area west of the Cardinia Creek was renamed the City of Berwick). In 1979,  Cr Matthews had the distinction of being the female Shire President of the Shire of Pakenham, and its predecessor, the Shire of Berwick. This was a remarkable achievement given that local government in this area began with the formation of the Cranbourne Road Board in 1860 and the Berwick Road Board in 1862, the precursors of Shires of Cranbourne and Berwick, both of which were established in 1868.  The City of Berwick’s first female Shire President/Mayor was Cr Jan Bateman in 1980 and for the Shire of Cranbourne it was the late Cr Judy Elso, in 1988.

Juene (nee Johnston) and her late husband, Cyril, farmed at Garfield and had five children.

City of Bones Movie!

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Hi Everyone!
Here's the brand new trailer for the Mortal Instruments - City of Bones movie.  The movie is to be released in August 2013. The movie is based on a series of books by Cassandra Clare, which are amazing - the sixth book in the series is due out in March 2014. There is also a series of prequels called the Infernal Devices, which has the third (and final) book out in March 2013.
Rachel @ Narre


Quicksand -

AT YELLOW LAKE  by Jane McLoughlin

Yellow Lake was to be a haven. A place of solace, a sanctuary. Yet when three teenagers find themselves seeking refuge in the cabin on the lake, it becomes anything but a place of safety.

Jonah has come to reconnect with his Native American heritage, to try and rebuild the fractured story that is his life.

Peter has come all the way from England to grant his mother’s last request, bury a lock of hair by her childhood cabin on the lake.

And Etta is on the run. Trying to evade Kyle, her mother’s scary boyfriend and his criminal friends.

However they soon find themselves in the middle of a crime, and Kyle has no intentions of letting anyone live to tell the tale.

Together Jonah, Peter and Etta, find support and comfort, only to discover that they will need more. Much more if they want to leave the lake alive.

A good fast paced read that will have you wanting to know what happens next.

Vicki @ Pak.

Book Chat reviews

Reading Rewards - reviews -

From Stephanie Laurens to Paul Cleave to David Suzuki – where else would you enjoy such a genre-busting discussion but at Emerald Library’s Book Chat! In the last session for the year, both staff and library members relished chatting and recommending titles they had recently enjoyed, like these:

The Australian Book of Heroism: stories of courage and sacrifice by Larry Writer
From explorers, soldiers, doctors and nurses to charity workers, religious figures, and everyday mothers and fathers, the author offers a fascinating look at some truly inspirational Australians. Each chapter focuses on a different hero from the 19th century to the present day, e.g. Matthew Flinders, Don Bradman, Peter Lalor, Dr Fiona Wood, Rev. John Flynn etc.

Dot said: “The thing about this book is that it makes you want to find out more about them all. Sometimes these days, it seems the word ‘hero’ is used too often – but not here!”

The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens
Miranda has spent most of her life taking care of her younger brother Roderick and just when she thinks he is of an age to not need her constant mothering, he disappears. She turns to her illustrious but infamous neighbour, gambling kingpin Roscoe, to help her find him. The pair takes off on a fast-paced rollicking adventure through the English countryside as they search for Roderick and his abductors, discover each other’s secrets, and, of course, fall in love along the way.

Dot said: “This book is good fun, with good characters you’ll enjoy and a few old friends in the mix – the old Stephanie is back! But the sex scenes do waffle on a bit.”

Fallout from Fukushima by Richard Broinowski
In March 2011, Japan experienced a triple disaster: a force 9 earthquake in the Pacific ocean east of the country, a 21 metre tsunami crashed into the coastline and then as a result of the tsunami, explosions and meltdowns in the nuclear power reactors in Fukushima. This book tells the history of the major nuclear accidents of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and now Fukushima. Richard Broinowski, a former diplomat, travelled to the irradiated zone to speak to people living and working there.  The Japanese nuclear power company TEPCO initially failed to notify people of the immense danger unfolding. The book reveals attempts to downplay suppress and obscure the consequences.

Ali said: “There is a fair deal of technical terminology here however this book is a compelling and incredible expose of an industry which, despite some renewed interest from a handful of countries (Australia included) is probably on the decline. Highly recommended for those of you who are interested in what’s really happening globally with the nuclear energy industry."

The Cleaner by Paul Cleave
Joe is a cleaner in a Christchurch, New Zealand, police station. Everybody assumes he is mentally challenged – his nickname is Slow Joe. By day, he can keep an eye on police files and get away with his own crimes by night. When he discovers that an extra murder has been added to his tally, he sets out to find the real killer and mete out his own form of justice – because he knows it wasn’t him.

Dot said: “With each of the characters wrongly assuming something about the other characters, it is surprisingly funny at times. Creepy, horrifying, and with some scenes that really shock you as well, it is a very good read.”

The Legacy: an elder’s vision for a sustainable future by David Suzuki
David Suzuki has written a heartfelt, wise and beautiful book covering what it means to be a part of the human species on an earth which has seen a tripling of the population in just his lifetime alone. Along with the ecological footprint of the 21st century and a huge growth in technology our well-being and the earth’s eco-system is suffering. Where is the precious earth headed? Our population simply cannot increase exponentially and survive.

Ali said: “Suzuki eloquently discusses the importance of the elements (Air, Water, Earth, Fire) along with the web of living things, biodiversity, and our fundamental need for love. Sukuki’s love and respect for his family shines through; his father while dying stated that despite never being wealthy, he was “so rich”; his wealth being family, friends, neighbours and things they’d done together - his memories. Now that David Suzuki is an elder he too has turned his mind to his own mortality and the interconnectedness of us all. He is filled with hope that the world is capable of greater things, to rediscover our home and live in balance. This book is gentle yet powerful in its message. Highly recommended for those who care about life.”

And some titles highly recommended by borrowers:

Todo in Tuscany: the dog at the villa by Louise Badger & Lawrence Kershaw
Todo had been waiting at Poggiolino since his mistress died over two years before. The house lay empty and neglected and yet he wouldn't leave. He seemed to know that someday the right people would come along and make it a home again. Enter Louise and Lawrence. With Todo as their faithful companion they began to restore Poggiolino. A memoir of moving country and starting a new life.
The Christmas List by Richard Paul Evans. James Keir, the main character in this book, is such an awful person that you wonder how the author could redeem him. In a case of mistaken identity, he is believed dead and only then finds out how much he is despised. This Scrooge-like tale is a very moving and inspirational story that has just as many laughs as tears.
Marjorie Bligh’s HOME: Hints On Managing Everything Edited by Natalie Wood
This book full of Marjorie’s Hints on Managing Everything is an absolute joy. There are hints on everything from sponge cakes to dog jackets, and though it may not be a book to sit down and read from cover to cover, it is surely one to dip into at random and enjoy what you find.

Emerald Book Chat will return in 2013.  There is no cost to attend but bookings are required for catering purposes.  Keep an eye peeled early next year for a flyer detailing dates and times.

The Hunger Games Trilogy

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The Hunger Games trilogy is written by Suzanne Collins and it tells the story of 16 year old Katniss Everdeen living in a world where the Capitol rules over the land of Panem with an iron fist. 
Every year the Capitol forces each of the 12 districts to offer up one man and one woman aged between 12-18 years to participate in a fight to the death event known as the Hunger Games. Only one tribute shall remain victorious and he or she shall be showered in fame and riches for the rest of their lives.
This series involves three books: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. All three of these books offer an enjoyable read and also an incredible storyline. Each chapter of these books makes you want to read even more about the adventures of Katniss. 
Not only are the books filled with stories of just the Hunger Games but it also offers some humour and romance. The characters in each of the stories have been well thought out and have their own personality and story; they have not just been placed randomly in the novel to help make a scene make sense. Each character has its own uniqueness and that is just one of the factors that make these series of novels enjoyable and exciting to read. The Hunger Games has a well thought out storyline with moments that shock you and leave you in wonderment of what would happen next. 
These novels: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay are definitely worth reading. So whoever is looking for a good novel to read, I recommend you go to your nearest library or bookstore and get your hands on these novels and commence your reading!

- Jesse (Endeavour Hills Work Experience Student)

Sister Hollins and Sister Lewis and the Pakenham Infant Welfare Centre

Links to our Past - history -

There is a  new Childrens Centre in Pakenham, called the Hollins Children Centre.  It has two kindergarten rooms, a toy Library, a meeting room and rooms for the Infant Health nurse.  When Councils and developers are looking for appropriate names for new buildings, parks, streets or other infrastructure, they sometimes contact Local History Societies or me, the Local History Librarian for ideas. At times, they decide that the  name we suggest is a suitable name and this was the case with the Hollins Children Centre. I was reading through the Souvenir Booklet from the Back to Pakenham celebrations held in March 1951 which has the history of various institutions in Pakenham, including the Infant Welfare Centre. The article mentioned that Sister Hollins and Sister Lewis were the first nurses involved with infant welfare in the area, so I suggested  that the new Centre could honour the nurses and in the end it was decided to call  the centre after Sister Hollins. I was very excited and thrilled that the Cardinia Shire Council selected one of 'my names' and I attended the official opening on November 20, 2012.

I have posted the section on the Infant Welfare Centre, below. As you can see the only information we had was that the nurses were called Sister Hollins and Sister Lewis, so my first task was to find out some other information about them.

The first place I looked was on the electoral rolls, available on the Ancestry family history database, available free, at all our Libraries. I found Lillian Ada Hollins  in 1936 Electoral rolls at the Pakenham Bush Nursing Hospital and Muriel Mary Lewis in the 1937 Electoral rolls also at the Hospital. (Electoral roll entries reproduced below)  - so now at least I had some given names and could look for other information.

Muriel Lewis first appeared in the Electoral rolls in 1924 when she was a nurse at the Royal Children's Hospital. She was listed at Pakenham from 1937 until 1942. In the book Somebody’s baby: a history of the Pakenham and District Hospital 1926-1992* by Heather Shallard it says Sister Lewis resigned in 1945 and according to the Electoral Rolls from 1949 through to 1968 she was living in the Camberwell/Balwyn area.  I found the death of a Muriel Mary Lewis  (I cannot confirm 100% that it is our Sister Lewis, but I feel pretty confident that it is)  in the Victorian Death Indexes in 1970. Her parents are listed as Thomas Lewis and Hannah Eliza Dinning.  I also found  Muriel's birth record  in North Carlton in 1901  and that of her sister, Bessie Isabel, born 1904 in Beechworth. Sister Lewis is buried at the Necropolis (or the Springvale Botanical cemetery as it is now called).

Lillian Ada Hollins was listed at Pakenham in the  1936 to 1942 Electoral rolls. Heather Shallard writes in her book that  Sister Hollins left in 1944 to get married and I found a report of the wedding in the Pakenham Gazette of Friday, September 29, 1944 (reproduced below). The wedding took place at the Presbyterian Church in Pakenham and Sister Lewis was the bridesmaid. The groom, Sydney Banbrook,  was employed by the Shire of Berwick in the Engineering Department.

Pakenham Gazette of Friday, September 29, 1944. page 1
The last paragraph mentions a 'social' to be held in their honour at the Mechanics' Institute. According to a report on the 'social'  in the Pakenham Gazette of October 13, Mrs P.F Thwaites paid a high tribute to Sister Hollins and praised her  for the good work she had done for the Hospital, always ready to help and she was not only capable but a good business woman and the good position of the hospital was largely due to her efforts. Cr Houilhan  told the gathering that Sisters Hollins and Lewis had done marvellous work for the Hospital and there was not one patient who had been there but would, if sick again, go there instead of to a metropolitan hospital (sic). The President of the Hospital, Mr J.J. Ahern, also recognised the outstanding service that Sisters Hollins and Lewis had given...today the Hospital was one of the best managed and equipped Bush Nursing hospitals in the State due chiefly to the Sisters. Mr & Mrs Banbrook were then  presented with a wallet containing 44 pounds.

The Banbrooks left Pakenham and in the 1949 Electoral rolls they are listed in Darwin, where Sydney is a Surveyor in the Department of Works and Housing. He died in South Australia in October 1963 and Lillian died there in June 1965. I haven't yet found a Birth Record for Sister Hollins, so I don't know who her parents were or when she was born.

*Somebody’s baby: a history of the Pakenham and District Hospital 1926-1992* by Heather Shallard. Published by the Pakenham & District Hospital, 1992.

Good Reads Best Books of 2012

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Goodreads, the social website for book lovers, has released a few interesting reading lists for the year (being the season for that sort of thing). :)

Goodreads Choice Awards have been announced. These were chosen on the basis of popular votes on the Goodreads website. The top 5 are:

Goodreads have also released their Best Books of 2012 list, which is based on readers' ratings of titles published in 2012.  Interestingly, it is a very different list to the Choice Awards. The top 5 are: I must admit I haven't read any of the titles in the top 5, but I will be investigating further and will definitely be placing a hold on Fault in our stars.
Do you think either of the lists are an accurate reflection of the best books in 2012?
~ Michelle


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In S.C.U.M. by Danny Katz we follow a day in the life of hilariously funny teenager, Tom Zurbo-Goldblatt.

8.43am - Tom waits at the gate for his girl-crush, Sarah. She doesn't show up.
8.55am - Maths session. Sarah has miraculously arrived. Tom waits in anticipation for his favourite maths word of all time, 'surd!'
9.39am - Second period, Science, with the delectable Miss Valderamma. Tom sits down the back of the classroom but his friend Jack sits at the front because he thinks if he leans back and squints his eyes he can see Miss Valderamma's 'fallopians!' 
2.04pm -  School photos. Tom causes a human dominoes like fall effect whilst waiting in line. The day is fast becoming a negative one out of ten day for Tom.

As we journey through Tom's day we realise that there is a serious side to this story, though.
Tom is being bullied, and he and his gang of outcasts called the 'Students Combined Underground Movement' (SCUM) largely congregate on the bench beside the bin behind the canteen where nobody ever goes.

Throughout the book Tom draws funny and often very rude sketches of his classmates and teachers.
Non stop action and entertainment in this highly recommended teen novel.
The book should especially appeal to 14-16 year old teenage boys.


Top 10 Aussie Books ...

Reading Rewards - reviews -

This list is sure to start a few conversational fires over your morning coffee!  These are the Top 10 Aussie Books to Read Before You Die, as voted by viewers of the ABC's First Tuesday Book Club, last night, 4 December 2012:

10. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
9. The Secret River by Kate Grenville
8. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
7. The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay
6. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
5. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
4. The Harp in the South by Ruth Park
3. A Fortunate Life by Albert Facey
2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
1. Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

What do you think should be there, should not be there, or are you happy with the top 10?   Join the conversation - we'd love to see your comments!

Poet's Cottage

Reading Rewards - reviews -

I became inexorably drawn into this book after reading the short prologue. Laden with atmosphere and menace, it quite stopped me in my tracks – enough to pass it on to someone else and say: “whoa, get a load of this!” 

Tasmanian born Josephine Pennicott is an award-winning writer* and she has created some great characters in Poet's Cottage – from the near 100 year-old biographer, Birdie, to Sadie’s Aunt Thomasina – a forbidding character who lives a reclusive life in a house at the rear of the cottage; and of course, the lead character, Pearl, who reminded me of the talented tragic Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.

Although the genre is hard to pigeonhole - a little bit gothic ghost tale cum mystery whodunnit and with mother/daughter relationships blended in – the story is loaded with atmosphere, wonderfully Australian, even down to the Huntsman spiders, eek, that populate Thomasina’s house and with an ending I didn’t predict. Unfortunately there was a ‘come on, get on with it’ lull part the way through, but that aside, it was a very entertaining read. 

The Author said in one interview that her story was inspired by the life of children’s author, Enid Blyton, whose daughters to this day have conflicting opinions on her role as a good mother. During a family holiday to a coastal town in Tasmania, Josephine was mesmerised by a big white Georgian style cottage by the sea that became known as Poet’s Cottage and she set out to create an English-style mystery but within this Australian setting.

 * In 2001 Josephine Pennicott won the Scarlet Stiletto for a short story, and she has won the Kerry Greenwood Domestic Malice Prize twice in 2003 and 2004. Josephine has written three novels, 'Circle of Nine' (2001), which was named as one of the year's best debut novels, 'Bride of the Stone' (2003) and 'A Fire in the Shell' (2004) which was shortlisted for Best Horror Novel in the 2005 Aurealis Awards.


Falling to Ash- Karen Mahoney

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Trapped between life and death Moth struggles to find her place. You can’t choose your family Living or Dead!!!
Moth was once known as Marie, a typical teenage girl embarking on her college experience. Then life fell apart, mum died, dad started drinking and Marie met Theo, the handsomely older gentleman who would literally change her. Now Marie is Moth, one of the living dead, struggling the find the balance between who she was and who she is now. Add in a game of cat and mouse with an infamous vampire-hunters son, who Moth just can’t figure out nor stay away from, and a few old acquaintances turning up dead and you’ve got something more than just your average vampire tale.
Falling to ash is a compelling, can’t-put-it-down who-dun-it read. What really carries this novel is its characters, Moth is so undeniably likable yet snarky, a vampire who is still intrinsically connected to her human life, which makes her inevitably more interesting than most vampires. Jace is the perfect sounding board to Moth, their chemistry and playful banter is entertaining, yet despite the star crossed lover possibilities Mahoney is slow to take them there. Theo is someone you love to hate and you truly do feel for the conflicting emotions Moth has towards her sire, good or bad with Theo it’s hard to tell. The plot races from beginning to end, with the mystery of the killings sure to keep any reader in suspense and turning the pages, which is further helped by Mahoney writing skills- she draws you into a vividly real world with characters you instantly connect with. Falling to ash intrinsically weaves mystery with vampires, zombies, action and yes some romance into a most enthralling read. Give this one a go.

If you are hungry for more of Moth Mahoney has written two short stories found in The eternal Kiss-vampire tales of blood and desire and Kiss me deadly: tales of paranormal romance, as well as a web comic.
Courtney :)

Scarlet Stiletto Award

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Josephine Pennicott is one happy author now she has a pair of shoes! 
It is the second time Josephine has won the Harper Collins first prize of $1000 and the Sisters in Crime 2012 Scarlet Stiletto Award.  An elated Josephine told the crowd at the presentation last Friday night, 23 November, that she’d been trying to win a second shoe for 11 years.  “It was almost worth killing for”, she quipped. 
Under Sisters in Crime’s rules, once you’ve got a pair you are unable to compete and are invited to become a judge. 
Josephine won her first Stiletto in 2001 for ‘Birthing the Demons’; this year for her short story ‘Shadows’.  Josephine is also the author of this year’s hit mystery novel, Poet’s Cottage.  Watch out for Deb’s review coming this week!


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