Monday, 5 December 2016

Kids Blurb Books - Phantom Limbs

This is a new feature where kids look at the covers of books and tell me what they think it's about.

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

J - age 9

It's about a person who has magical limbs and they take risks. They're very exquisite. In the story I think this person gets magical limbs, but only in her sleep, and everyone she's loved that doesn't love her anymore gets spooked by the limbs.

Guest Post - KJ Taylor - The Price of Magic

The Price of Magic is a special book. It's being published exclusively by students at the University of Southern Queensland. Written by KJ Taylor it explores the idea that magic comes at a cost. It was published on December 3rd, the International Day of Persons with a Disability.

Below is a guest post written by KJ Taylor on a topic that is very relevant to me personally. I hope you enjoy it. Check back later in the week for my review.

When we’re young, we want to believe that life is easy. We choose to believe that those around us are ‘normal’, and that we are too.

But eventually the day comes when we ourselves begin to realise that we are not normal. That we have problems. Some of us are born knowing it. Some of us don’t realise until we’re much older. An unfortunate few never realise it at all – unfortunate because a problem that goes unnoticed will never be dealt with as it should.

Some of us find ourselves confronted with the fact that we are ‘abnormal’, ‘weak’ or ‘broken’. But it is not until later that we realise that this is how everyone feels.

Some of us are depressed. Some of us are anxious. Some of us are mentally or physically handicapped. But just about everyone feels in some way inadequate, whether there’s a label for it or not.

When I was a child I believed I was stupid. This was something ground into me day after day. I couldn’t seem to understand other people properly. I said and did inappropriate things. I had no friends, and was bullied on a regular basis – on at least one occasion by a teacher who felt it was appropriate to publicly humiliate the ‘weird kid’. I hated myself.

Then, at the age of sixteen, I was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Now it all made sense. Now I had a label.

Now I could find half of my personality traits listed in medical books under the heading ‘Symptoms’. It made me feel like less of a person.

As I entered adulthood I developed severe issues with anxiety, sometimes to the point where I was unable to function. I finally did the sensible thing and went to see a series of counsellors who I hoped could help me learn how to cope better with the life I’d found myself living.

While I was sitting in the waiting room, feeling absolutely miserable, I found myself wondering ‘why do I have to be so much of a screw-up? Why are so many creative people so damaged?’

The truth was that my Asperger’s had done me plenty of favours creatively. Having the ‘disorder’ gives me unusual levels of focus and concentration, and because I had to learn through trial and error how other people work I became pretty insightful about how people think (a friend in all seriousness told me she thought I wasn’t really an Aspie because ‘you write characters so well’. I laughed.).
But it also came with downsides, and I felt resentful not to have been given a choice in the matter. I was sick of being ‘abnormal’.

Right there, in the counsellor’s waiting room, The Price of Magic was born. I found myself picturing a world where illness, disability and mental disorders came with the gift of magic. The mages in this novel are, essentially, artists. Unable to function properly in the real world, they seclude themselves and create things for the benefit of others. To make the world a better place.

And the truth of it is, as I later learned, there is no such thing as ‘normal’. Normal is a construct which does nothing but make people feel abnormal. To blazes with ‘normal’. Everyone is weird in their own special way, and all of us have something to give. You are not a disability. You are not an illness. You are you. You are a person. Never be defined by what you cannot do, but instead embrace what you can do. And never, ever, give up on yourself.

Finally, as the character of Ingar is intended to be gender neutral, rather than use the clunky ‘they’, I refer to this character as ‘xe’, which is a gender neutral pronoun. Writing a character without specifically referring to their gender is a lot harder than it sounds, unfortunately.

The Price of Magic has been published by the Black Phoenix Publishing Collective and will be available this coming December. Follow the progress of this inspiring fantasy work on Facebook

Monday, 3 October 2016

The Easy Way Out by Steven Amsterdam

Title: The Easy Way Out
Author: Steven Amsterdam
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Date of Publication: August 30th, 2016
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher


A brand new novel everyone will be talking about from the award-winning author of THINGS WE DIDN'T SEE COMING and WHAT THE FAMILY NEEDED.

If you could help someone in pain, would you?

Evan is a nurse, a suicide assistant. His job is legal . . . just. He's the one at the hospital who hands out the last drink to those who ask for it. 

Evan's friends don't know what he does during the day. His mother, Viv, doesn't know what he's up to at night. And his supervisor suspects there may be trouble ahead.

As he helps one patient after another die, Evan pushes against legality, his own morality and the best intentions of those closest to him, discovering that his own path will be neither quick nor painless.

He knows what he has to do.

In this powerful novel, award-winning author Steven Amsterdam challenges readers to face the most taboo and heartbreaking of dilemmas. Would you help someone end their life? 


Euthanasia means a good death. It is a topic that has been the subject of debate for many years, with some countries introducing laws allowing active, voluntary euthanasia, others allowing passive euthanasia, or the law of double effect, and yet others banning the practice of helping anyone end their life in any way.

In The Easy Way Out, assisted suicide has been legalised in specific cases. Evan works in the unit of the hospital dealing with assisted suicide. The rules are clear. Everyone has to agree, including loved ones. The medical professional must stay neutral. They can pass the Nembutal, a fatal barbiturate, to the patient, but the patient must lift the cup to their own mouth without assistance. Before they are handed the cup, they must agree several times that they want to die and are ready to do so. Death is then swift, within an hour.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta

Title: Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil
Author: Melina Marchetta
Date of Publication: August 29th, 2016
Publisher: Viking/Penguin
Source: Review copy and purchased by reviewer


Chief Inspector Bish Ortley of the London Met, divorced and still grieving the death of his son, has been drowning his anger in Scotch. Something has to give, and he’s no sooner suspended from the force than a busload of British students is subject to a deadly bomb attack across the Channel. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board.

Also on the bus is Violette LeBrac. Raised in Australia, Violette has a troubled background. Thirteen years ago her grandfather bombed a London supermarket, killing dozens of people. Her mother, Noor, is serving a life sentence in connection with the incident. But before Violette’s part in the French tragedy can be established, she disappears.

Bish, who was involved in Noor LeBrac’s arrest, is now compelled to question everything that happened back then. And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more he realises that truth wears many colours.


This is Marchetta's first book specifically aimed at adults, although her books have long had crossover appeal. Like all of her stories, this is primarily about family and what happens when families breakdown, or when someone in your family does something unthinkable.

Don't Forget Mr Rain - By J

My eldest daughter (aged 9) is not terribly fond of reading stories, but she is fond of writing them. She has been nagging me for two days to put this one on here, so if you like it, please leave a comment offering her some encouragement. She has done illustrations as well, but they don't translate as well, so it's offered here in text only.


Rain, thunder, storms. All your fault because you didn't bring him. The man cloud known as Mr Rain.

Inspired by Don't Open This Book by Andy Lee.

Don't forget Mr Rain by J

Hello, I am Sunny the Cloud. I am telling you whatever you do, don't forget Mr Rain.

If you have a party, invite Mr Rain. If you go to a party bring along Mr Rain. Because if you don't...

He will rain forever.

Never stop.

In some countries it's always raining because someone didn't invite Mr Rain. Some places never rain because Mr Rain was invited. In some countries it rains and then stops. That's because they forgot then remembered.

Mr Rain gets so angry sometimes he thunders and he - oh, whoops - I didn't want to mention this, but he also blows up, so I think I would always invite him.

I heard a boy's house blew up because he forgot to invite Mr Rain. Luckily he had a spare house.

Trust me. I am Sunny. Sunny is always right. By the way, my name is Sunny because I am always happy and the sun is always behind me.

The end.