Tempt the Devil, by Anna Campbell

Late afternoon sun flooded her in soft gold and played across her loosely bound tumble of tawny hair. In the clear light, her vivid red dress was like a sudden flame. The effect was worthy of the Theatre Royal
Even he, familiar to ennui with courtesans’ tricks, had felt his breath catch at first sight of her. One glance and the blood in his veins hummed a deep, dark song of desire, and his skin prickled with the compulsion to make her his.

Julian Southwood, Earl of Erith, is in the market for a new mistress. Since his beloved wife’s death he has been determined never to love again, instead taking a string of mistresses to his bed. But when he sees Olivia Raines for the first time, he finds he is not as unaffected as he expects to be. He must have her, whatever the cost. Olivia, too, is affected by her meeting with Erith. In spite of her outward calm, she is drawn to the man in ways she can’t explain – especially when she has vowed to hate all men.

Soon, Olivia is living in the house Erith provides, and their relationship begins – but it doesn’t follow the path either has planned. Olivia is surprised to discover Erith is smarter and more considerate than other men she has met, and Erith discovers Olivia has scars hidden beneath her cultivated exterior. And for both, this relationship is unlike any other each has had before – and impossible to walk away from. But the stakes of continuing their relationship are high, possibly too high.

Tempt The Devil is a steamy regency romance from one of Australia’s finest romance authors, Anna Campbell. Campbell takes us into and behind the scenes of London society of the time, developing relationships and exploring the realities of life in the times – including the unjust impact society’s rules can have on individuals. In the end, though, this is first and foremost a sensuous romance with two likeable characters working against the odds to cement their relationship.

A sizzling read.

Tempt the Devil

Tempt the devil, by Anna Campbell
Avon Books, 2009

This book is available online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereveiws.

Victor's Challenge, by Pamela Freeman

“I challenge you, sir,” the professor declared. “If you wish to win the hand of my daughter, you must complete the three challenges.”

Prince Victor is determined to marry Valerian, but both his mother, the Queen, and Valerian’s father, a professor who doesn’t believe in royalty, are against the idea. So the professor decides that, if Victor wishes to marry his daughter, first he must meet three challenges –of bravery, endurance and cleverness.

Poor Victor. He isn’t worried about the bravery or endurance tests, but he isn’t very bright – so the cleverness test is enough to make his keens wobble. But he loves Valerian, so off he goes to face the Dragon of Nevermore, on the first of the three challenges.

Victor’s Challenge is a delightful sequel to Victor’s Quest, presenting a whimsical tale of bravery and love, with a colourful cast of characters and plenty of adventures. Pamela Freeman’s enchanting text is coupled with the quirky artwork of Kim Gamble, to create a gem of a book for young readers.

Victor's Challenge

Victor’s Challenge, by Pamela Freeman
Walker Books, 2009

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

The Uses of Sadness, by Karen Masman

Everyone feels sad now and again. Being sad doesn’t mean you are depressed. Sadness can help you be happy!

Being sad is a natural state – everyone feels sad sometimes. Yet most of us have been conditioned to fight feelings of sadness – or at least to hide them behind a brave face and keep soldiering on. But counsellor and author Karen Masman explains that sadness is a natural part of life and is actually a healthy and important emotion. It is through allowing ourselves to follow the cycle of sadness that we learn how to enrich our lives and, therefore, to be happier.

This practical book explores the differences between sadness and depressing, and elaborates on the seven stages of sadness, from longing through to offering. There are practical exercises for exploring sadness and making choices, and many personal stories from participants in Masman’s workshops. The reader is encouraged to work through the book, becoming intimately aware of each of the seven stages so that episodes of sadness can be more readily accepted, and become enriching experiences.

This is an absorbing and gently educational book.

The Uses of Sadness: Why Feeling Sad is No Reason Not to be Happy

The Uses of Sadness, by Karen Masman
Allen & Unwin, 2009

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

The Land of Kur, by Sally Morgan and Ambelin, Blaze & Ezekiel Kwaymullina

My whole body feels like one giant bruise. I lie there, eyes closed, willing the dizziness to go away. I feel for the stopwatch, but it’s gone. Grandpa will never forgive me. Then I realise that my fingers aren’t pulling at the carpet of Grandpa’s bedroom floor, but at thick, springy grass. Where am I? I force my eyes open.
“Aaaarrrrggghhh!” I scream again.

Tom has been desperate to try out his Grandpa’s stopwatch, ever since Tom realised it had the power to make people invisible. But, when he finally gets the chance to sneak into Grandpa’s room, Tom discovers the stopwatch does more than make him disappear – it transports him to another world. Finding himself in the Land of Kur, Tom is befriended by monsters, and unwillingly helps them to defeat the neighbouring giants, before meeting a huge Spider Queen who makes him wonder whether he’ll ever see his home again.

Stopwatch: The Land of Kur is the first tile in a new series from Western Australian authors Sally Morgan and Ambelin, Blaze and Ezekiel Kwaymullina. With a range of fantastical beings, an intriguing fantasy land, and lots of action therein, this is ideal for fantasy loving youngsters, as well as a great introduction to the genre.

An absorbing and action-packed read for readers aged 8 to 12.

Stopwatch: the Land of Kur, by Sally Morgan, and Ambelin, Blaze & Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Walker Books, 2009

Haunted, by Lorraine Orman

“Horrible boys!” a voice says suddenly. I swing round, my heart jumping into my throat. A girl stands in the doorway. A strange, old-fashioned girl, wearing a white dress down to her ankles and white shoes. Her fair hair is braided and tied with white ribbons. I pick up a hint of that sweet lily smell, as if she’s wearing it like perfume.
“I made them go away,” she says with a slight English accent. “They were rude and noisy.”

When Georgia and her brother are sent for a holiday on their Aunty and Uncle’s farm, neither is pleased, though Ned soon comes around when he strikes a friendship with their cousin Jeff. Left on her own, Georgia starts exploring the farm, and is delighted to discover an old homestead on the property, which she thinks will make a cool hideout. But Georgia soon realises she is not alone, when she is befriended by a mysterious girl called Lily. Could Lily be a ghost –a nd what does she want from Georgia and Ned? Soon, the children discover they are playing with fire.

Haunted is a ghost story aimed at reluctant readers, with its short format and high interest making it ideal for these readers, as well as for readers of all abilities. Part of Walker’s Lightning Strikes series, the book is attractively packaged with a red cover and silver highlights.

This gripping offering makes an excellent addition to an outstanding series.

Haunted, by Lorraine Orman
Walker Books, 2009

The Wrong Book, by Nick Bland

What are you doing here?
You’re in the WRONG BOOK!

Nicholas Ickle has a problem. He is trying to tell a story – but his book is repeatedly crashed by characters who don’t belong. First, it’s an elephant, then two monsters, a pirate, a queen and her attendants and more. As the intruders get increasingly ridiculous, Nicholas gets increasingly frustrated – only getting the chance to tell the reader what the book is supposed to be about as a giant ‘The End’ drops from above.

This funny picture book is a wonderful read aloud offering. Not only will adults enjoy reading it, but children will quickly join in on the refrain of ‘You’re in the wrong book!’ The illustrations are large and comic, with Nicholas Ickle dressed as a ring master, in dress-ups including a coat with tails, a top hat with sticky tape visible, and shorts. The intruders range from the big, slightly puzzled looking elephant which takes up a whole page, to a pirate in a one-man boat on wheels, and a snooty looking queen.

This is the sort of book which will withstand repeated reading and is sure to become a firm favourite.

The Wrong Book

The Wrong Book, written and illustrated by Nick Bland
Scholastic, 2009

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

Shaolin Tiger, by Sandy Fussell

Yoshi says nothing. Life is all about balance. With only one leg, I understand that well. When Yoshi was much younger he accidentally killed a friend in a wrestling match. But then he saved my life and the balance was restored. Now it’s gone again.
‘All things happen for a reason. One day Yoshi will find this one,’ Sensei says. ‘The Captain has gone and we must travel on again.’

Sensei and his students, from the Cockroach Ryu, travel by sea from Japan to China, to give aid to the Shaolin Monks. On the way, the boat’s captain is drowned and Yoshi, who has tried to save him, is left troubled. In China one of Sensei’s past students, Qing-Shen, awaits – determined to gain retribution for Sensei’s broken promise. Qing-Shen wants to see Sensei dead, and he has the skills to carry out his wish – unless the Little Cockroaches can protect Sensei by outsmarting Qing-Shen.

Shaolin Tiger is the third title in the wonderful Samurai Kids series, a wonderful fantasy series set in Japan and China. Sensei is a wise teacher and his students – who appear to others to be each flawed – brave and eager to learn. The narrator, Niya, has just one leg, and his fellow students’ include children with physical differences, as well as Yoshi, who is fit and strong but has lost the will to fight others. Sensei himself also carries secret burdens, some of which are revealed in this book, and others hinted at for future instalments.

This third instalment does stand alone as a wonderful, action packed read, but readers will be keen to read the earlier titles , and equally impatient for the next instalment.

A must read.

Shaolin Tiger (Samurai Kids)

Samurai Kids: Shaolin Tiger, by Sandy Fussell
Walker Books, 2009

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond

The Family Tree, by Ilsa Evans

Dear Dad, I’m excited. I’m very excited. Which has made me realise that I haven’t been really excited about anything for a long time. It feels almost clumsy! What frustrates me, though, is that if I had started writing this a year ago, I could have just come to you for the information, but I’ve left it too late. Typical. Or maybe it would never have occurred to me then? Anyway, I still haven’t decided how to write it – as a pseudo-memoir? A tragic romance? A mystery?

An old saying suggests that everybody has a book in them, but for Kate Painter the desire to write a book has been a lifelong one. She’s always intended to write a book, but life has got in the way. She’s a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance editor – and she’s so busy doing things for everyone else that she never gets the time to do them for herself. Now, though, as she grieves the death of her father, an opportunity arises. Her cousin Angie decides to let her spare bedroom – and suddenly Kate sees a chance to get some space for herself, so that she can give herself the time to write that book. Moving in with Angie is hard – she is leaving behind her husband, three children and grand daughter – but writing the book proves even harder. What will she write about – and will it be good enough anyway?

The Family Tree is a story about family and about self. In the process of researching her family background as the basis of her proposed book, Kate has to confront much about the past that she finds unpalatable. At the same time, she has to also confront the events of the previous year, and the state of her relationship with her husband and children. She may not write a bestselling novel, but as she does write she finds a story emerging which will help her and her family.

This is a touching and absorbing read, with Kate a likeable main character, whose growth the reader can enjoy watching, as the mysteries of her past are unlocked.

The Family Tree, by Ilsa Evans
Pan Macmillan, 2009

The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen, by Deborah Abela

She spilled onto the roof, arms splayed to break her fall, and turned in time to witness Rolo puling his brother to safety.
But there was something unusual about the rescue. It was if Uncle Rolo’s arms stretched further than their length should have allowed. And that Rondolf had fallen far below the edge of the roof, far beyond any chance of rescue, before he was hoisted upright.

Aurelie’s childhood has been far from normal – but that’s how she likes it. Her family run Bonhoffen’s Seaside Peier, and she has grown up playing the dead girl in the ghost train and the back end of the cow, sleeping in her room above the ghost train ,and surrounded by loving relatives, especially her doting uncles Rolo and Rindolf. But, on the day she turns twelve, Aurelie accidentally discovers her family’s secret, a secret so strange she struggles to accept it. Then Aurelei and her new friend Rufus discover a plot to force the family from the pier, and Aurelie must use the secret to help her defeat the town’s most powerful man.

The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen is a fun but also touching story of family togetherness, filled with things kids love – funfairs, chocolate, funny characters, ghosts and more. In this story the good characters are not only kind hearted, they are also delightfully quirky, and the bad characters are like bumbling, blustering pantomime baddies, who, in the way of pantomimes, also sometimes realise the error of their ways to become good.

This is a gorgeous read, which middle and upper primary aged readers will adore.

Aurelie's Seaside Pier

The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen, by Deborah Abela
Random House Australia, 2009

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

Mummies are Amazing, by Catriona Hoy & Annie White

Mummies are for amazing things.

Daddy thinks Mummy is for doing the shopping, and Grandad thinks Mummy is for finding glasses, but the young narrator of this story knows that mummies are for much more important things – mummies are for doing amazing things. From making snakes out of stockings and buses out of boxes, to kissing sore knees better and organising prefect parties, Mummies are amazing – but sometimes they need to FEEL amazing – and then it is up to the people around them to do amazing things for them.

Mummies are Amazing is a delightful book about the wonderful things that mummies do, filled with humour and the joy of families. The mummy in the story and illustrations is lively, lovely and filled with enthusiasm. It seems nothing is too hard for her – from making chicken costumes, to removing splinters and scaring away monsters. The illustrations have lots of cute touches that don’t just bring the text to life, but also provide plenty for children to find and explore.

This gorgeous book is perfect for reading aloud, and would make a lovely gift for Mothers Day.

Mummies are Amazing, by Catriona Hoy & Annie White
Lothian, 2009