The Children's Writer, by Gary Crew

‘He’s the best writer,’ she said …‘the very best. I read everything he wrote. Everything.’

Charlie Bloom’s life is pretty good. He’s living with a girl he loves – Alice, who he calls ‘Lootie’ – and is studying Literature at university. One day he hopes to be a writer. So, when Lootie suggests they go and listen to children’s writer, Sebastian Chanteleer, he doesn’t object. Lootie is a huge fan of Chanteleer and, when she meets him, they bond instantly. But Charlie is not so sure about Chanteleer and as the older man’s relationship with Lootie grows, Charlie feels his own slipping away.

The Children’s Writer is a compelling story, with Charlie forced to confront his own past and his own shortcomings at the same time as he becomes increasingly aware of Chanteleer’s. Author Gary Crew (himself a children’s writer) offers a glimpse at the complexities of the creative world and of those who dwell within it.

The Children's Writer

The Children’s Writer, by Gary Crew
Fourth Estate, 2009

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

Manhattan Dreaming, by Anita Heiss

As I drove towards Adam’s house I felt nauseous at the thought of the conversation we had to have, but I was still looking forward to seeing him. I ‘d missed him. But, as I walked to his front door and put my keys in my bag I felt the newspaper and immediately became angry again. When he opened the door I said firmly, ‘We need to talk.’
’It’s never a good thing when a woman says that.’ Adam pulled me close and kissed me heard on the mouth, his tongue teasing mine before I had a chance to pull away and remember all the things I had to say. The heartburn jealousy was momentarily gone.

Lauren has been hurt by her sport star boyfriend Adam one time too many, so when she’s offered the chance for a year in New York, she knows she should take it to make a clean break. And what an opportunity she’s being offered. A curator at the National Aboriginal Gallery in Canberra, she has been selected for a fellowship at the Smithsonian. But Lauren isn’t so sure that she wants to leave her friends, her family, her lifestyle, or oven Adam, to take up the fellowship.

Soon, however, she finds herself in Manhattan, discovering that men in New York know how to date and how to look after women. But will any of these men be able to mend her broken heart and replace Adam?

Manhattan Dreaming is chick lit at its best – with a feisty main character who is a successful career woman with a need to love and be loved and a mix of potential suitors ranging from the loveable to the plain annoying. The mix of settings – including Canberra and Goulbourn, with the main action taking place in New York – is also absorbing, with the reader able to see the big apple through the eyes of an Australia visiting for the first time.

Great stuff.

Manhattan Dreaming

Manhattan Dreaming, by Anita Heiss
Bantam, 2010

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

Come Back to Me, by Sara Foster

She watched Alex’s eyes widen as he went to shake Julia’s hand. He took a tiny sharp breath and swayed slightly, then he quickly put his free hand on the back of his chair to steady himself, whilst the other one, although still held out, dropped like a flower in sudden wilt.
‘Nice to meet you…Julia?’ he said, in a broken, tremulous voice unlike anything Chloe had heard come from him before.

When Chloe and her husband Alex are invited to dinner with her workmate Mark, Chloe doesn’t expect the evening to change their lives. But when she introduces Alex to Mark’s date, Julia, it is instantly apparent that something is wrong.

In the days that follow, Chloe’s world seems to be falling apart as she comes to learn that there are things she doesn’t know about Alex’s past. For Alex, the chance meeting with Julia forces him to confront the events of ten years previous, and to help Julia do the same – even though he must risk his marriage to do so.

Come Back to Me is a wonderful debut novel. The stories of the four main characters are interwoven, with the reader taken on a journey through their past lives and the present, with revelations continuing right till the end. Set primarily in London, but with key scenes playing out in Western Australia, the story brings together settings from the author’s life – born and raised in England, she has recently settled in Australia.

There is nothing not to like about this story – intriguing characters, plot twists, action and beautiful writing combine to produce a satisfying package.

Come Back to Me

Come Back to Me, by Sara Foster
Bantam, 2010

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

Dragon Blood Pirates Series Three, by Dan Jerris

‘We should get going,’ said Al. ‘We need to get to Sabre Island so we can find the magical words to the Dragon Blood Sabre.’
He unlocked the sea trunk, climbed inside and studied a map of islands drawn on the bottom.
‘Sabre Island, here we come!’ he cried as Snakeboot leapt into the trunk with him. The pair shimmered like a flash of sunlight for a second, then faded and disappeared from number five Drake Drive and the twenty-first century.

Al and Owen are able to travel from the current day to Dragon Blood Islands by donning pirate clothes and jumping into a pirate chest in the attic. There on the islands – and on the high seas – the boys, and their cat Snakeboot, find themselves caught up in death-defying adventures with pirates good and bad.

This is the third series in the Dragon Blood Pirates series, including books thirteen through eighteen. For those who have not read the earlier instalments there are some things to catch up on, but there is enough action, as well as a front of book character list, to draw a new reader in. Each title is 88 pages long, with black and white illustrations, fluorescent flourishes to the covers, and a puzzle for readers to solve.

Arrr. An exciting series.

Dragon Blood Pirates: Slitgut and the Emerald Eyes, Dead Man’s Whirlpool, Voodoo City, Graveyard Diamonds, Ransom, The Power of the Sabre
All by Dan Jerris
Lothian, 2009