Friday, 16 November 2018

Book Review: Kat: The Legend of Gnawbonia (Middle Grade/Young Adult)

Title: Kat; The Legend of Gnawbonia
Author: Nick White
Illustrator: Nick White 
Series: Volume 1

Publisher:Bonobo Books
Publication date: 2017
RRP: $50.00
Pages: 168
Format Read: Hardcover
Source: Courtesy of author

In the great city of Catifornia, the Meofia are by far the most feared of all the felines. At home, their baby sister Kat is enslaved under lock and key. Done with the constant abuse, she escapes, embarking on a perilous journey far beyond the land of cats.

Lost at sea, Kat is captured by a ruthless gang of notorious pirate dogs and forced to the depths of the ocean in search of treasure; where she discovers an ancient city, lost in time.

Here, Kat comes to terms with who she truly is – gaining the courage to fight for her life and freedom, to fulfil an ancient prophecy that she inevitably finds herself entwined with...

A new style of book, a fusion of various parts. Adventure novel, graphic novel and picture book.

Anyone that follows me will know that I don’t usually rave about, or even mention, the covers of the books I review; even though some of them are stunning. However this book’s cover and packaging is so gorgeous I just have to rave about it a little. The book is bound in hardcover in a brown leather look with scrolling and the title text printed in silver. It also has a red ribbon bookmark. It comes in a white slipcover which also has the text in silver. It’s a book you just can’t help but pick up and admire.

Kat lives on the island of Catifornia. She is a slave to her seven brothers, all members of the much feared Meow Meow Meofia. Kat is never allowed to leave her house, only to catch fish for her brothers’ dinner. When Kat dares to defy them they beat her. She spends her time watching Loose Flea movies and reading an old book given to her by her mother. The book was about an ancient city called Purtopia and it was the land of Kat’s ancestors.

Kat gathers the courage to escape along with her best friend, a rat named Pea. Kat soon learns that the world is a dangerous place and she can’t trust anyone. Her only escape is to leave Catifornia and travel across the sea. After many harrowing weeks on the ocean they are picked up by a band of pirate dogs. The dogs were from the island of Gnawbonia which was in a bad state and the dogs were starving. Kat uses her wit and expert Kung Fu moves to save her and Pea’s lives as she fights the pirates, goes under water to discover the lost city of Purtopia and fights a giant squid.
She may just be the one to save the dogs on the island of Gnawbonia.

This is a memorable tale of good triumphing over bad and of long held prophesies fulfilled. A story of being brave in the face of adversity.
There is animated violence and plenty of breath-holding adventure. The occasional toilet humour will have readers giggling.

The book is written and illustrated by Nick White and the beautifully illustrated pages are something to behold. My granddaughter had much fun finding the little mouse hidden on each page.
The story is easy to follow and would be enjoyed by readers 10+ years.
I’m eager to see what adventures White has in store for Kat and Pea in Volume 2.

You can see more of the illustrations on the author’s website, where you can also order the book. This would make a beautiful Christmas gift. However you will need to be quick as this is a limited edition.


Kat is an advocate for animal rights and 10% of all profits from sales of the book goes to animal charities. 

My rating  5/5    🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Content: animated violence
Age level: 10+ or mature readers 6+

Nick is originally from Sydney, Australia, and has spent the last 18 years as a commercial artist, lending a hand to some of the biggest ad and design agencies in the UK, NZ and Australia.


You can connect with the author at the following sites:
Website  ||  Goodreads  ||  Facebook  ||  Twitter  ||  Instagram    

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Book Review: Absolute Proof (Mystery/Thriller)

Title: Absolute Proof
Author: Peter James
Publisher: Pan Macmillan 
Publication date: 25th September 2018
RRP: $29.99
Pages: 576
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Source: Courtesy of publisher

Investigative reporter Ross Hunter nearly didn't answer the phone call that would change his life - and possibly the world - for ever.

"I'd just like to assure you I'm not a nutcase, Mr Hunter. My name is Dr Harry F. Cook. I know this is going to sound strange, but I've recently been given absolute proof of God's existence - and I've been advised there is a writer, a respected journalist called Ross Hunter, who could help me to get taken seriously."

What would it take to prove the existence of God? And what would be the consequences?

The false faith of a billionaire evangelist, the life's work of a famous atheist, and the credibility of each of the world's major religions are all under threat. If Ross Hunter can survive long enough to present the evidence...

Out of the blue investigative reporter Ross Hunter gets a phone call from a man claiming he can show him absolute proof that God existed. This man was given Ross’s name as the person to help him find the evidence and broadcast it to the world. Ross thinks the guy is probably some crack-pot but his journalistic instincts override common sense and he agrees to meet the man. Hunter realises this could be the story of a life time, one that could set him up for life.

What follows is a compelling story of murder and mystery told in multiple plot lines running parallel to the main story then diverging with a race against time that ends in multiple deaths.

Born again evangelist Wesley Wenceslas has built a multi-million dollar business around his style of religion, preaching all over the world. Would Hunter’s discoveries ruin his empire and show Wesley as a phoney?

Dr Bloor is experimenting with monkeys and a keyboard. He believes it is only a matter of time before a monkey will type a readable sentence and prove that everything happens by random chance.

Cousins Angus and Pete live in separate monasteries but both live a life of silence, solitude and devotion to The Lord. They need no ‘proof’ to hold onto their faith.

Hunter must first decipher the clues given to him before he can find the ancient relics however there are people willing to kill to get their hands on the items and his every move, every conversation is being monitored. His quest to find absolute proof will take him from England to Egypt then LA and place him, his wife and unborn child in grave danger.

James brings up a lot questions about God’s existence and his motives. If God’s existence was proven would it unite the world or divide it even further? You will not find the answers in this novel only speculation as it is more action/adventure than philosophical.
James doesn’t do a lot of theorising but there is enough, amongst all the action, to make the story interesting and cause the reader stop and think.

“And the irony is that science is asking questions that only religion can answer, but to accept those answers would mean admitting defeat for the scientists.”

Go into this story with an open mind. Some of the plot is convenient, especially the DNA matches. But I’m no DNA expert so maybe it is feasible. I loved the complex plot and the race against the large corporations.

There was no neat wrap up and I was left with a few questions unanswered.

My Rating 4.5/5    🌟🌟🌟🌟.5

courtesy of Pan Macmillan - credit James Clarke
 Peter James is one of the UK's most treasured crime and thriller novelists. His Roy Grace detective novels have sold over one and a half million in the UK alone and five million worldwide in total. The series is now translated into 33 languages. He has developed a close working relationship with the Sussex Police over many years, spending an average of one day a week with them and his writing reveals a unique insight into the reality of modern day police work. He has also carried out extensive research with police in Moscow, Munich, Paris, Melbourne, Sweden, New York and Romania, as well as attending international police conferences to ensure he is at the cutting edge of investigative police work. Peter, an established film producer and script writer, has produced numerous films, including The Merchant Of Venice, starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes. A TV adaptation of the Roy Grace series is currently in development, with Peter overseeing all aspects, including the scriptwriting. In 2009 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Brighton in recognition of his services to literature and the community.

Peter is now a member of the Sussex Police Rape Prevention Team and writing and producing a video for them for schools and YouTube that will warn teenage girls of the potential date rape situations they could find themselves in. He did a lot of research with Lifecentre - for further information on Lifecentre visit their website at

Born and brought up in Brighton, Peter divides his time between his homes in Notting Hill, London and on the South Downs near Lewes in Sussex.

You can connect with the author at the following sites:
Website  ||  Facebook  ||  Twitter  


Sunday, 11 November 2018

Book Review: Scrublands (Crime Fiction)

Title: Scrublands
Author: Chris Hammer
Publisher: Allen & Unwin 
Publication date: August 2018
RRP: $32.99
Pages: 496
Format Read: Uncorrected Proof Copy
Source: Courtesy of Publisher

In an isolated country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners before being shot dead himself.

A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don't fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin can't ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest's deadly rampage.

Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking new development rocks the town, which becomes the biggest story in Australia. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is now the one in the spotlight. His reasons for investigating the shooting have suddenly become very personal.

Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to discover a truth that becomes darker and more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town's secrets stay buried.

Journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend, a town traumatised by tragedy, to write a piece on how the residents are coping one year on from a mass shooting. However as he talks to more and more locals, the reason for the shooting doesn’t seem to fit the perpetrator. With his journalistic instincts propelling him on, Martin’s focus begins to shift and he becomes further embedded in the lives of the residents. But not everyone is happy about him being there as slowly one by one the town’s secrets are disclosed.

What originally looked like an open and shut case turns into a compelling mystery filled with assumptions and lies.

Hammer throws his readers straight into the height of an Australian summer with his vivid descriptions of the unrelenting heat, the diminishing rural town and the ever present threat of bushfires.

Four different crimes, all taking place in and around the same drought-ravaged town, all separate but all inter-linked, driven by greed and hate, guilt and hope.

Scrublands is a taut thriller with well developed characters and multiple plot lines that will keep you turning the pages.

The mystery had me completely baffled and my head was whirling as each new revelation was revealed. I was totally immersed in the characters and their stories.

A compulsive thriller that will haunt you long after you have turned the final page.
A must read for fans of Jane Harper.

Content: minimal coarse language
                Minimal violence (well it is a crime thriller)
                Road kill (a sad but unavoidable part of rural Australia)

My Rating 5/5     🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

 Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. For many years he was a roving foreign correspondent for SBS TV's flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more than thirty countries on six continents. In Canberra, roles included chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, current affairs correspondent for SBS TV and a senior political journalist for The Age.

His first book, The River, published in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award and the Manning Clark House National Cultural Award.

Chris has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master's degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr Tomoko Akami. The couple have two children. 

Did this review pique your interest? Allen & Unwin currently have sampler chapters on their website:

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Book Review: The Dream Daughter (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: The Dream Daughter
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia 
Publication Date: 9th October 2018
RRP: $24.99
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Source: Courtesy of Publisher

When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby's heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never new existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline's part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

It’s 1970 and Caroline (Carly) is 24 weeks pregnant when she has an ultra sound revealing her baby has a heart defect. He husband Joe has been killed in the war in Vietnam and this baby is all that is keeping her from falling apart.

Carly’s brother-in-law Hunter, has a proposition; something that could be her baby’s only chance of survival. Something that is completely alien to everything Carly knows but she will do anything to save their baby. It is all she has left of Joe.

I loved this story. It was tense and heart-rending. I truly couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next, committing one of my own cardinal sins by skipping forward quite a few pages just to have a peek, the suspense, not knowing, was killing me.

I don’t want to give too much away as it’s best to go into this story not knowing too much. You will have to suspend belief to truly get into the story but that’s the idea, to delve into unknown territory and ponder the what ifs in this genre crossing novel.

Chamberlain draws her readers into the 1970’s with the Vietnam War, Beatlemania and the evolving of technologies such as computers and ultra sounds.

There is much comparison between America of the 70’s and the 00’s, showing how much the world changes in a relatively short period of time with new innovations, mobile phones, laptops, internet and advances in medicine.

Chamberlain highlights the attitude toward the Vietnam Vets then and now and shows how the War affected many lives.

I had no idea where Chamberlain was taking this story and each twist took me completely by surprise.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone that enjoys a story full of hope and dreams and a plot that strays from the norm.

My rating  5/5        🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


Diane Chamberlain is the USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of 24 novels published in more than twenty languages. Some of her most popular books include Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane's background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.

Diane received her bachelor's and master's degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations, was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel. 

You can connect with the author at the following sites:
Website  ||  Facebook