Captain Cal Books 3 and 4, by Jan Dallimore

Ebby, Dan and I quickly prepared The Silver Pig for another dangerous adventure into space.
‘Don’t forget to pack the chocolate fudge, chips and space rolls,’ I said. ‘Last time we were starving.’

Captain Cal and his crew are back in action, with two more exciting adventures. In the first, Cal receives a call from the BAIT (Bureau Against Interplanetary Trickery) commander. Professor Spitzer – once a gifted inventor, but now an evil mastermind – is threatening to take over the world. Only the crew of the Silver Pig are intrepid enough to take him on, and save the world.

In the second adventure, Cal and his friends take part in the Great Space Race, Cal’s chance to prove he is the best pilot in the galaxy, but first he has to overcome the cheating and trickery of the other pilots.

Captain Cal and the Robot Army and Captain Cal and the Great Space Race are the third and fourth books in the Captain Cal series, aimed at emergent readers making the transition form picture books to novels. There is plenty of action told through simple text in the first person voice of Captain Cal. Illustrations on every page not only complement the text but also show the three child characters acting out their adventures in back yard play – the Silver Pig a tin shed, and other characters including the family dog.

These easy reads are likely to appeal to both boy and girl readers in the six to eight year old age group.

Captain Cal and the Robot Army and Captain Cal and the Great Space Race, both by Jan Dallimore, illustrated by Richard Morden
Black Dog, 2007

Twenty Two Truly Twisted Tales, by Terry Spring

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan

Not everyone gets their reading pleasure lost in a novel and for those readers wanting something on the shorter side, Twenty Two Truly Twisted Talesis the ideal solution. Long enough to allow story and character development to satisfy the fussiest of readers, this collection brings forth the chuckle you have been waiting for all day, the frustration of waiting in queues and solutions for the envious.

There is nothing twisted in any of these stories, except the ending and whilst some of the twists were predictable, most are not. Each story is unique with a variety of themes and a touch of humour that will satisfy everyone.

“A Full House” is enjoyably short and amusing; this story will stick in your mind for its delightful simplicity and childhood innocence. This is an example of how fewer words can be better when telling a story.

Frustration at waiting in queues is one of those daily emotions we have all suffered from and anyone who has ever had to stand in line will be able to relate to “Counter Service”. The reader is torn between relating to the young woman waiting in the inevitable line at the post office to post a parcel overseas, and the staff member doing her best to provide good customer service.

Some stories have a simple message and this is clear in “Guitar Karma” and “Silver Service” where kindness and thanks can come when you least expect it and for an act long forgotten.

Being able to pull the reader into a short story is one of the challenges of the genre and Terry Spring does this successfully. Characters are well developed, allowing the reader to identify with them. This makes the stories all the more enjoyable as you ponder what you would do in the same situation or identify yourself, or someone you know in the behaviour of the characters. These stories are a reflection of everyday life and this is part of their appeal. Ideal for short trips, a day at the beach or a bedtime read where you don’t have to worry about finishing a sentence at the end of a page, Twenty Two Truly Twisted Tales is definitely worth a read.

Twenty Two Truly Twisted Tales is available from,, or ordered through book shops.

Twenty Two Truly Twisted Tales by Terry Spring
Book Surge Publishing, PB, ISBN 1-921019-64-6
rrp $16.50

Victory, by Gary Crew

No sooner had the rumbling ceased, than Admiral William Ajax Burlington, commander of Her Majesty’s Pacific and Orient Fleet, broke into a smile of such enigmatic bliss that not one of use who witnessed it could possibly imagine that this mountain of a man was about to fall – facefirst and stone dead – into the now empty oyster platter which sat on the damask cloth before him.

When the dinner-party guest seated alongside Sam Silverthorne dies at the table, Sam is shocked. But he is also curious. How could Admiral Burlington have been murdered in full view of all the guests, with no one knowing how it was done?

The murder is the start of a new adventure for Sam who, along with his friends Lucas, Phoebe and Alice, is soon aboard a ship sailing for Madagascar in search of some answers.

Soon Sam and his friends are in pursuit of murdering slavers, poisonous shellfish and the extinct Dodo Bird (Sam and his father are naturalists).

Victory is the third offering in the Sam Silverthorne series but for those who are new to the series (such as this reviewer was) there is enough back story to enable this instalment to stand alone. Set in the late nineteenth century, in a time of sailing ship and no mass communication, the story has a comfortable familiarity in its Indiana Jones-style adventure, with Sam duelling and capturing baddies. At the same time, it is interesting (and heartening) to see Sam share with readers his distaste at the experience of killing a man and, elsewhere, witnessing a violent death.

An exciting read which will see new readers looking for the earlier titles, and fans eagerly awaiting Sam’s next adventure.

Victory (Sam Silverthorne)

Sam Silverthorne: Victory, by Gary Crew
Hachette, 2007

This book is available online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Gods of Amyrantha, by Jennifer Fallon

The Tide Lords are returning and that means every man, woman and child is in danger …

When Arkady and her husband, Stellan, are exiled to Torlenia, she little expects to become friends with one of the immortals. Back in Glaeba, her friend (and the King’s Spymaster) Declan Hawkes is having his own trouble with the immortal Tide Lords, who are busy jockeying for position as the Tide returns.

Hawkes and his colleagues are working to find a way to kill the Tide Lords and put a halt to their scheming and fighting, the dreadful consequences of which have affected humankind for thousands of years.

The Gods of Amyrantha is the second title in the Tide Lords trilogy, and will be eagerly devoured by fans of Jennifer Fallon’s work. The various strands of the tale are tightly woven, drawing the reader in to the intrigue and twists and turns of the lives both of the Tide Lords and of the humans who live around them. The most disappointing part will be having to wait for the next, and final, installment.

Gods of Amyrantha (Tide Lords)

The Gods of Amyrantha, by Jennifer Fallon
Harper Voyager, 2007

This book is available online from Fishpond. Buying though this link supports Aussiereviews.

Big Book of Great Sporting Jokes, by David Boon

David Boon was a cricketer from 1984 to 1996. In that time he became one of the most popular cricketers to play the game. But now he’s here to share his quintessential collection of sports jokes.

Whether you are a would-be comedian, or just looking for a joke to lift your day, The Big Book of Great Sporting Jokes is likely to keep you amused and entertained for hours.

From those oldies but goodies to some terrific humorous yarns this book keeps you laughing to the very last page.

All in all a great, funny read that should amuse you for hours on end. For most adults this is a hilarious collection.

Big Book of Great Sporting Jokes, by David Boon
Harper Collins, 2007

Dead Lovely, by Helen Fitzgerald

Kyle and I jumped, took cover, did all the things they do in the movies. But Sarah played her role all wrong. She didn’t hit us or shoot us or yell or slam the door or even leave. She sat down softly on the end of the bed and started to speak with a primary teacher voice and no sign of a quivering lip.

Krissie and Sarah have been best friends since childhood. It doesn’t matter that Krissie is a single man-eater who avoids close relationships, whilst Sarah is happily married to a gorgeous doctor and wants desperately to start a family. But when Krissie falls pregnant after yet another one-night stand, their relationship is trained.

As Krissie’s life spirals out of control, Sarah tries to help her. A holiday in the Scottish Highlands is supposed to help Krissie and mend their friendship – but things go drastically wrong.

Dead Lovely is a compelling read, with elements of chick-lit mixed with ghastly scenes of murder and retribution. With a mixture of first person and third point narration, and an ability to spring surprises right to the end, this hard to classify read is hard to put down and highly readable.

Helen Fitzgerald is an Australian writer now resident in Glasgow.

Dead Lovely

Dead Lovely, by Helen Fitzgerald
Arena, 2007

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond . Buying through this link helps to support Aussiereviews.

The Key to Rondo, by Emily Rodda

Important! Turn the key three times only. Never turn the key while the music is playing. Never pick up the box while the music is playing. Never close the lid until the music has stopped.

Leo Langlander inherits the music box that has been passed down his family for generations. He knows to follow the rules but when his cousin Mimi comes to stay, havoc is released upon the land within the music box and Leo and Mimi are stranded there. Now they are on a quest to find and defeat the sinister Blue Queen. Not knowing who to trust they set off on an exciting quest from which they may not return.

The Key to Rondo is an exciting mythological adventure written by the internationally best-selling author, Emily Rodda. A great read for children 10 to 15 years old. Lots of excitement and fantastic tales await the reader of this fantastic book.

A gripping read.

Key to Rondo

The Key to Rondo, by Emily Rodda
Omnibus Books, 2007

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.