Brown Skin Blue, by Belinda Jeffrey

My mum’s skin is white, my skin is brown and I have a blue birthmark. Two secrets rule my life. One is something I need to know and the other is something I need to forget. They won’t let me go.

Since McNabm Blue did the bad thing to him when he was eight, Barry Mundy hasn’t trusted men, despite the fact that he’s now one himself. But as he travels Australia’s top end trying to make a life for himself, he is also trying to find out the identity of his father, so that he can move on. When he arrives in Humpty Doo, Barry takes a job with a crocodile jumping tour company, and makes friends with the tour operator, Boof, and one of his workers, Sally. Learning to trust them also helps him to face his past and uncover his true identity.

Brown Skin Blue is a wonderful debut novel for Brisbane author Belinda Jeffrey. The subject matter is at times uncomfortable and confronting, but the story is both intriguing and ultimately uplifting. Barry (Barramundi, as Boof calls him) is a resilient character who is determined to overcome his difficult childhood where he as abused by a man who had befriended him, and neglected by an alcoholic mother. As a first person narrator he comes across as reliable, with a slightly self-deprecating air and a realistic approach to life.

Suitable for older teens as well as for adult readers.

Brown Skin Blue

Brown Skin Blue, by Belinda Jeffrey
UQP, 2009

Beatle Meets Destiny, by Gabrielle Williams

The smell of her, the taste of her, the feel of her, the closeness of her. He could feel himself breathing more heavily. Feel her head in his hand, her hair soft.
Only one detail jarred with the whole love and lust thing Beatle was experiencing at that moment.
One tiny detail. And that one tiny detail was Beatle’s girlfriend.

When your mum gives you a name like John Lennon, it’s hardly surprising that everyone calls you Beatle. But when you meet a girl whose surname is McCartney, it seems like destiny that you should be together – especially when her first name IS Destiny.

Beatle Meets Destiny is a gorgeous blend of wit, issue and soul-searching, as Beatle, a seventeen year old stroke survivor picks his way across the minefield of relationships, superstition, family and friendship. There are some serious issues dealt with, including stalking, but the issues drive the plot in a humorous, absorbing way rather than bogging it down.

Beatle is a likeable but flawed main character. He has survived a stroke which hit during a joint-smoking session, and has been with his girlfriend, a friend of his sister, since she visited him in hospital. But when he meets Destiny, he embarks on a new relationship whilst continuing the old one, two-timing in a way that will inevitably bring him unstuck. The reader can see this, but is still taken on the ride, cheering Beatle on whilst seeing why he is this mess and wondering how he can get out of it.

Funny, absorbing and real, this is a novel which teen readers will love. It’s destiny.

Beatle Meets Destiny

Beatle Meets Destiny, by Gabrielle Williams
Penguin, 2009

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

Untangling Spaghetti, by Steven Herrick

When my dad heard my brother call me
‘A Dork!’
He said,
‘Jack, we don’t say that word in this house.’
So Jack walked quickly out the back door
Stood in the yard
And yelled at me,
‘You dork!’
In his best older brother voice!

Untangling Spaghetti is a collection of poetry for children from award-winning author and poet Steven Herrick, bringing together poems from his previously published collections . From the funny, like House Rules above, to the silly and even the sad, the collection is fun to browse or to read cover to cover.

Poems are arranged into themes, including House Rules, the Big Match and Seeing the World and demonstrate Herrick’s keen understanding of, and empathy with, a child’s view of the world. He says in his introduction that many of the poems come from the experiences of his own sons and in other poems, including the poetry visitor, Herrick’s own experiences are also obvious.

This wonderful collection deserves a place in school libraries and classrooms, but will also be loved at home.

Untangling Spaghetti: Selected Poems from Steven Herrick

Untangling Spaghetti: Selected Poems, By Steven Herrick
UQP, 2009

How to Balance Your life, by James O'Loghlin

No one has enough time. Almost everyone agrees that achieving a better work/life balance is worth striving for. Yet hardly anyone does anything about it. Why? Because it all seems too hard. How do you find more time for the things that really matter when you have to pay the mortgage, battle peak hour and earn enough money to support yourself and your family?

James O’Loghlin is the presenter of The New Inventors, on ABC TV and also worked as a stand up comedian, radio presenter and author. In How to Balance Your Life he gives practical steps to achieving a balanced life. O’Loghlin speaks from experience, having given up his radio job in 2007 so that he could spend more time with his family.

Aspects covered include how to balance your life without reducing income, how to negotiate with employers to change the way you work, how to deal with a workplace culture that doesn’t embrace work/life balance, how to achieve work/life balance if you are self-employed and more.

There are lots of practical suggestions for achieving work/life balance, taking into consideration different situations, both in the workplace and at home. This is a useful guide for anyone aware of the need to balance their life, but unsure how to achieve this balance.

How to Balance Your Life: Practical Ways to Achieve Work/Life Balance

How to Balance Your Life: Practical Ways to Achieve Work/Life Balance, by James O’Loghlin
Allen & Unwin, 2009

Worldshaker, by Richard Harland

But Lumbridge lunged for Col again. Taken by surprise, Col took a backward step. His foot hung over empty space – the open manhole!
He tried to grip onto Lumbridge, who staggered. For one second, he stared into Lumbridge’s small, piggy eyes and nostrils trickling blood. He never knew what went on in that second behind those eyes. Was it deliberate or accidental?
Both of Col’s feet now hung over empty space. Lumbridge raised his arms, broke Col’s grip and dropped him down into the hole.

Colbert (Col) has led a sheltered existence. At sixteen years of age he has been cafeully groomed and trained to believe the tales his grandfather tells him about the way society operates. Aboard the huge juggernaut Worldshaker, Col and his family hold privileged positions. Grandfather Sir Mormus is the Supreme Commander, and he has just anointed Col as his successor. Col has no reason to question anything.

But when Col meets a ‘Filthy’ – a girl from the lowest class hidden way beneath decks – he starts to realise that not all is as it appears. Long lead to believe that Filthies are subhuman beings, he realises that they are, instead, very human, and badly mistreated by Col’s people. He also realise that the version of history on which their society is based is also a lie. As he starts to wonder who and what he can trust, Col’s privileged position becomes shaky and he must choose between the life he has had and what he starts to believe might be a better life for all.

Worldshaker is a gripping fantasy, set in a reality which is at once familiar and alien. Worldshaker is a juggernaut which travels the world with its cargo of escapees from a world torn apart by war. The upper classes are determined to maintain their privileged position and there is a very rigid social structure which is accepted as important to the survival of all. Col’s position high within that structure makes him an unlikely candidate to be involved in its overthrow, and the friendship that leads him to this point is riddled with humour and tension, as he comes to understand the ways of the filthies and learn from them.

Likely to appeal to readers aged 13 and over, this is a real page turner.


Worldshaker, by Richard Harland
Allen & Unwin, 2009

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