Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Book Review: Crack Up by Jules Faber

Crack Up
Jules Faber

Imprint: Pan
Publication date: 31st March 2020
Series: Book #2
Genre: Middle Grade / Teen
Pages: 232
RRP: $12.99 AUD
Format read: paperback
Source: courtesy of the publisher

Max Crack and his best friend Frankie are back with even more quest-ordinary adventures!

Armed with a shiny new quest list, they are on a mission to find a meteorite, make a movie, solve a sisterly feud, eat truckloads of chocolate, set a World Record ...

Funny fonts, gross stuff, embarrassing moments, speech bubbles and strange creatures.
Read all about it!

Max Crack and best friend Frankie Doink are back again with more quests, bigger and better than before.

Max starts a new journal/diary which runs from November to end of February. A four month period that includes the end of year school holidays which gives the boys plenty of time to complete new quests.

After seeing a shooting star and feeling a shudder like an earthquake the boys think it could have been a meteorite. Their first quest: find a meteorite.

At school their class will be involved in trying to break a world record. They will also be having a movie making competition.

I loved that the stories weren’t all about winning but working together and having fun.

The boys are eager to attend their first pop concert and find work mowing lawns for an elderly local resident who tells them of her falling out with her sister. Thus prompting their next quest: to reunite the sisters.

The boys take the ups and downs of life in their stride. Max eager for his own smart phone is happy to take his father’s hand-me-down and the rules that go with owning a phone.

We see the comparison of Frankie’s large rambunctious family to Max’s only child family. Both families are caring and interested in the boys activities.

As an adult I am keen for young children to read books with good role models and I think Max and Frankie have achieved this status. They have fun, are a little dorky, are respectful, don’t expect to be given the world, argue and make up, give everything their best effort and never complain.

I loved the second book in this series even more than the first.

There are blank pages at the end to write your own quest list, favourite movies, world records you want to set, places you wish to explore and also a few pages to try your own sketches.


Jules Faber is a cartoonist and illustrator, most well-known for illustrating the 'WeirDo' series by comedian Anh Do, for which they've won multiple awards, including Book of the Year for Older Children at the Australian Book Industry Awards

He's also illustrated David Warner's 'Kaboom Kid' series Michael Pryor's 'Leo Da Vinci' series, Alex Ratt's 'Stinky Street Stories' and some of Dr Karl Kruszelnicki's science books.

When he's not illustrating books, Jules loves reading books and graphic novels, and collecting comics. he has served four, two-year terms as the president of the Australian cartoonists Association and is a member of the CBCA NSW Committee.

This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge

Click the cover to read my review.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Mailbox Monday & Life This Week - July 13th

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Life This Week is a meme created by Denyse Whelan Blogs where bloggers share snaps of what is currently happening in their lives.

Happy Monday!

What has been happening over the last two weeks!
Some happy snaps.

School holiday fun enjoying the sunshine at the playground

Milkshakes and hot chips. Yummm.

Craft time is Dot's favourite time.

Bringing out the old toys. Who remembers Pixel Chix?

Books received over the last two weeks:

Rico Stays by Ed Duncan
After enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders stepped in to protect his girlfriend from a local mob boss’s hot-headed nephew, all hell broke loose.

When the smoke cleared, the nephew had vanished, but three goons who had tried to help him lay dying where they’d stood. Fighting for his life, Rico was alive but gravely wounded.

Out of the hospital but not fully recovered, he needed a place to crash – a place where he wouldn’t be found by men who surely would be looking. A place like the cabin owned by lawyer Paul Elliott, whose life Rico had saved more than once. Trouble was, Paul’s girlfriend hadn’t forgotten Rico’s dark history. Or Paul’s fascination with him.

Using Rico’s girlfriend as bait, vengeful killers soon would be coming for him. The only question was whether he would face them alone or with help from Paul.

Reasonable Doubt by Dr Xanthe Mallett

We all put our faith in the criminal justice system. We trust the professionals: the police, the lawyers, the judges, the expert witnesses. But what happens when the process lets us down and the wrong person ends up in jail?

Henry Keogh spent almost twenty years locked away for a murder that never even happened. Khalid Baker was imprisoned for the death of a man his best friend has openly admitted to causing. And the exposure of 'Lawyer X' Nicola Gobbo's double-dealing could lead to some of Australia's most notorious convictions being overturned.

Forensic scientist Xanthé Mallett is used to dealing with the darker side of humanity. Now she's turning her skills and insight to miscarriages of justice and cases of Australians who have been wrongfully convicted.

Exposing false confessions, polices biases, misplaced evidence and dodgy science, Reasonable Doubt is an expert's account of the murky underbelly of our justice system - and the way it affects us all.

There's a Zoo in My Poo by Prof Felice Jacka

Did you know that trillions of tiny bugs live in and on all of us? And there's a Zoo of bugs in our poo. But which are the good bugs and which are the bad? What should we eat to keep our good bugs happy and our body strong?

Get to the guts of what you need to know about you and your poo.

Professor Felice Jacka is a world expert in the field of Nutritional Psychiatry and gut health. Teacher and musician Rob Craw is a world expert at drawing bugs!

They want kids to know all about the amazing stuff going on in their bodies.

Get ready for a journey inside the most exciting of places ... YOU!

eBooks received:

In Search of a Name by Marjolijn van Heemstra

Marjolijn van Heemstra has heard about her great-uncle’s heroism for as long as she can remember. As a resistance fighter, he was the mastermind of a bombing operation that killed a Dutch man who collaborated with the Nazis, and later became a hero to everyone in the family.

So, when Marjolijn’s grandmother bestows her with her great-uncle’s signet ring requesting that she name her future son after him, Marjolijn can’t say no. Now pregnant with her firstborn, she embarks on a quest to uncover the true story behind the myth of her late relative. Chasing leads from friends and family, and doing her own local research, Marolijn realizes that the audacious story she always heard is not as clear-cut as it was made out to be. As her belly grows, her doubts grow, too—was her uncle a hero or a criminal?

Vivid, hypnotic, and profoundly moving, In Search of a Name explores war and its aftermath and how the stories we tell and the stories we are told always seem to exist somewhere between truth and fiction.

Outback Brides Maeve's Baby by Fiona McArthur

Midwife Maeve McGill can deliver a baby with no complications, but finding love isn’t that easy. After falling for and being dumped by a doctor who only wanted her as a glorified nanny for his kids, she left her job for a position at a clinic in Wirralong. Maeve is determined to embrace her new life with the help of her friend, Lacey. Men are absolutely off the menu.

Doctor Jace Bronson is everything Maeve’s last boyfriend wasn’t. He’s big—a big chest to lean on with a big heart and a crazy big smile she can’t resist. But Jace is a father and his job is temporary, so he and Maeve vow to keep their relationship strictly professional. Maeve doesn’t want to risk the heartbreak, and Jace wants to protect his daughter from falling under Maeve’s warm and caring spell—the way he has.

They had good intentions, but love, chemistry and the magic of Wirralong have a way of bringing two wounded souls together.

I would love to hear what books you received in the mail lately!

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Spotlight - Author Q & A: The Summer I Drowned by Taylor Hale

The Summer I Drowned
Taylor Hale

Publisher: Wattpad Books
Publication date: 26th May 2020
Genre: Teen / Young Adult
Pages: 336

About the book:

The past always resurfaces...

Five years after almost drowning, Olivia Cathart returns home to Caldwell Beach determined to face her fears and take some risks―not just by swimming, but by opening her heart. Hoping to rekindle her friendships, she’s excited about a carefree summer with her best friends Keely and Miles. But life in the sleepy town has changed, and no one and nothing is as it seems.

When a series of startling crimes threaten Olivia’s fragile state, she is plunged into a terrifying game of cat and mouse. Her only solace from the chaos is West, Miles’s disowned and ruggedly handsome brother, but even he can’t answer the question on everyone’s minds―is Olivia really in danger or is it simply all in her head?

Question & Answer with author Taylor Hale:

What inspired you to write The Summer I Drowned?

Oddly enough, it was the name of a candle - “Sea Glass.” I thought it would make a pretty title for a story set in a beach town, maybe a romance. However, the title of the story evolved as the story itself did.

What struggles did you face when writing this book? How did you go about using details from Olivia’s past to inform her present narrative?

Getting into Olivia’s mental state was definitely a challenge, and a bit of a dark place to be writing from. I wanted to write her as someone who is constantly reminded of her past due to not only her trauma, but her emotional attachments to the people and places in the story. I think both her traumatic memories and her positive memories from Caldwell Beach shape who she is and how she sees the world throughout the story.

In the book, Olivia struggles with trauma and PTSD. What do you hope young readers will take away from the ways Olivia copes with her mental health?

I hope they will feel less alone. I also hope they will see it’s okay to ask for help, or to accept help when it’s offered—it isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength.

How does The Summer I Drowned stand out from other books of the same genre? What do you hope to bring to young adult fiction?

I think THE SUMMER I DROWNED stands out in the sense that it has an element of thriller to it, but is very much a YA Contemporary story that focuses on friendships, relationships, and growing up. I hope to bring fresh and unique stories that someone, somewhere can relate to, even in a small way. More than anything, I hope my stories provide solace to those who need it.

When you started using Wattpad, did you ever anticipate becoming a published author?

Not really, no! I knew nothing about the industry or how people even get published. However, after being on the platform for a while, I quickly realized that writing was my calling.

What advice would you give to young writers who are inspired by your writing?

Writing is a craft that takes time and practice. Allow yourself room to “suck” — everyone starts somewhere. Give it time and patience and be kind to yourself when you feel your writing isn’t quite up to par; you’ll have time to fix things later. Getting words on the page is the most important first step.

About the Author:

Taylor Hale was born in Southwestern Ontario, and started writing on Wattpad in 2015. When she isn’t writing, she can be found bartending at a live music venue, and thinking up her next idea. The Summer I Drowned is her first novel.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Book Bingo - Round 7: Friendship, Family & Love #BookBingo2020

Better Luck Next Time by Kate Hilton

This week I have chosen the category 'Friendship, Family & Love.'

The book I have chosen for this category is: Better Luck Next Time.

Better Luck Next Time is the story of the a year in the Hennessy family. Filled with relevant issues such as divorce, dating after divorce, single parenthood, secrets, gay relationships, self love and family. Hilton’s characters are highly relatable. You might find yourself in one of the characters or little bits of yourself in all of them.

Kate Hilton tests the six degrees of separation theory, again and again, but in most cases it is only about two degrees, which makes  for some awkwardly funny situations.

You can read my full review HERE


Book Bingo is a reading challenge hosted by Theresa Smith Writes , Mrs B’s Book Reviews and The Book Muse. The second Saturday of each month book bingo participants reveal which bingo category they have read and what book they chose.


Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Book Club Book Review: Mammoth by Chris Flynn

Chris Flynn

Publication date: 28th April 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 265
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty and Lace bookclub

Narrated by a 13,000-year-old extinct American mastodon, Mammoth is the (mostly) true story of how the skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a pterodactyl, a prehistoric penguin, the severed hand of an Egyptian mummy and the narrator himself came to be on sale at a 2007 natural history auction in Manhattan.

Ranging from the Pleistocene Epoch to nineteenth-century America and beyond, including detours to Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany, Mammoth illuminates a period of history when ideas about science and religion underwent significant change. By tracing how and when the fossils were unearthed, Mammoth traverses time and place to reveal humanity's role in the inexorable destruction of the natural world.

Told through the eyes of a mammoth’s fossilised remains Chris Flynn has delivered a hilarious and thought-provoking tale of life, extinction and rebirth. A tale that spans continents and centuries!

As mammoth is exhumed from the earth his bones absorb information from the conversations around him. Now waiting to be auctioned in a New York City warehouse mammoth tells his story, by mental telepathy, to a tyrannosaurus-bataar skull, a prehistoric penguin and an Egyptian mummy hand. A story that spans oceans and centuries.

Chris Flynn has extensively researched his subject matter and many historical events are included in a narrative where fact and fiction combine.

With Mammut’s formal speech and dry sarcasm, T-Bataar’s witty humour and penguin’s snarky comments Mammoth had me laughing and totally invested in their stories. By the end of the story these ancient fossilised bones felt like old friends.

Can I jump in? Bro. Take a breather. I knew this was going to be a big story. I didn’t realise it would be so boring.

I’m sorry you feel that way, T-bataar.

I don’t mean to be rude, but a couple more jokes wouldn’t go amiss.

I want to hear about your adventures, Mammut.

Not all this stale historical jibber jabber.”

This quote made me laugh because the story was anything but boring.

Funny, thought-provoking and unique, Mammoth is a must read.

Chris Flynn is the author of The Glass Kingdom and A Tiger in Eden, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The Age, The Australian, Griffith Review, Meanjin, Australian Book Review, The Saturday Paper, Smith Journal, The Big Issue, Monster Children, McSweeney’s and many other publications. He has conducted interviews for The Paris Review and is a regular presenter at literary festivals across Australia. Chris lives on Phillip Island, next to a penguin sanctuary.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Guest Post: Author Pamela Taylor

Today's guest on The Burgeoning Bookshelf is author Pamela Taylor.
Pamela will be speaking on; The trap of linguistic anachronism – getting the language and word usage right for historical narratives.

Watch Your Language!

For a writer, it’s so delightful to be really in the groove. Your story’s unfolding. The dialogue is flowing. You’ve already churned out five or six pages today and the words just keep coming. But if you’re writing historical fiction, sometimes you have to pause and ask yourself, “Is that really the word or phrase this character would use?”

It’s not always as straightforward as remembering not to have a soldier in the American Revolution call his comrades-in-arms “dudes.” Sometimes, a word or phrase we think of as having been part of the language “forever” is anything but.

In Volume 2 of the Second Son Chronicles, I needed a phrase to talk about someone who just couldn’t let go of something – and my natural inclination was to have my character say, “Well, let’s just hope he takes care of whatever bee is in his bonnet and gets himself back here safely.” It turns out the expression “bee in one’s bonnet” didn’t actually come into use until the middle of the nineteenth century, so that’s not what people would have said in the early Renaissance. The phrase “bees in one’s head” was in use from the early 1500s. That’s still a bit late for the era of the Chronicles, but sometimes authors have to make a judgment call. In those days, words and phrases typically appeared in the spoken vernacular long before the first recorded written usage. Unable to find a suitable expression of earlier origin, I gave my character permission to say “bees in his head.”

Occasionally, the writer’s choice is influenced by the reader’s best interests. Take the case of a conveyance used to haul hay or trade goods or supplies for an army – what we would call a wagon. It was called a wain at the time of the Chronicles – wagon came into the language about a hundred years later. So I had a choice: send readers scurrying for a dictionary to find out what the heck a wain might be or write sufficient descriptive passages to provide the explanation, either of which would have been disruptive to the flow of the narrative. In this case, I decided convenience for the reader outweighed historical accuracy so I took option three and used wagon.

Sometimes, though, one has little choice but to throw in the towel. I faced that with diplomat, diplomatic, and diplomacy – nineteenth century for the first two, slightly earlier for the third. Readers needed to understand everything those terms convey today, and I couldn’t find good, period-appropriate synonyms. So I reluctantly chose the needs of the story over the historical accuracy of the language.

For me, the goal is not to be pedantic about linguistic accuracy but to be mindful of it – to strive for authenticity and avoid glaring breaches, but ultimately, to make choices that enhance a reader’s experience. I hope I’ve succeeded and that you enjoy reading the Chronicles as much as I’m enjoying bring the stories to life.

Thank you Pamela for taking the time to write this informative post.

Pestilence (Second Son Chronicles #3) was published on 11th June 2020.

At the dawn of the Renaissance, Alfred - the eponymous second son - must discover the special destiny foreseen for him by his grandfather. Now, the unthinkable has happened: Alfred’s brother is king. And it isn’t long before everyone’s worst fears are realized. Traditional allegiances are shattered under a style of rule unknown since the grand bargain that formed the kingdom was struck over two hundred years ago. These will be the most dangerous years of Alfred’s life, forcing him to re-examine his duty to personal honor and to the kingdom, while the threats posed by his brother constantly remind him of his father’s final words of advice. What choices will he have to make to try to protect the things he holds most dear?

About the Author:

Pamela Taylor brings her love of history to the art of storytelling in the Second Son Chronicles. An avid reader of historical fact and fiction, she finds the past offers rich sources for character, ambiance, and plot that allow readers to escape into a world totally unlike their daily lives. She shares her home with two Corgis who frequently reminder her that a dog walk is the best way to find inspiration for that next chapter.

You can follow her online at:

Author Website: https://pamela-taylor.com

Series Website: https://www.SecondSonChronicles.com

Twitter: @PJTAuthor 

Instagram: PJTAuthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSecondSonChronicles

#WOW #Pestilence #BlogTour