Saturday, 10 November 2012

Barbara on ABC Radio 702 Sydney with Dom Knight

Last week Barbara was on Dom Knight's show on ABC Radio 702 Sydney. She spoke about a couple of new release books that she loves - if you missed her on the radio here are Barbara's reviews.

Ratburger by David Walliams 
$19.99 in paperback

Ratburger is the 5th hilarious adventure from David Walliams, the English comedian best known for his partnership with Matt Lucas in Little Britain. David is the fastest selling UK kids' author at the momen, selling 20,000 of his books every week. He has a steadily growing audience in Australia and has even been compared to Roald Dahl - big shoes to fill!

Ratburger tells the rather sad story of Zoe, who lives with her unemployed Dad and her ghastly and lazy stepmum Sheila. Things just keep going from bad to worse as villain Burt, who will no doubt go down in kids' books history as a character that everyone loves to hate, has some rather unsavoury plans for her pet rat... the clue is in the title.

Ratburger isn't as grim as it sounds though, it's full of roll on the floor laugh out loud moments, and Zoe's Dad does redeem himself in the end. The novel is a clever way of making kids aware of how food is made, but it's also a wonderful story about a little girl who never loses sight of her dreams, no matter how tough things get. David's novels are great for boys and girls from 7 up to early teenage, and for kids who are looking for that next tstep up from Wimpy Kid or Andy Griffiths.

Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin
$32.99 in paperback

Arthur Conan Doyle brought Sherlock Holmes back from the dead following public outcry. Ian Rankin has just yanked Detective Inspector John Rebus out of retirement but the news has thrilled his fans around the world. The dour Scottish detective is back in Ian's latest novel that's just been released.

Standing in Another Man's Grave is the first crime novel to feature Rebus since he retired in 2007's Exit Music. Rebus finds himself at odds with Rankin's latest protagonist Malcolm Fox when all he really wants to do is discover the truth about a series of seemingly unconnected disappearances stretching back to 2000.

Rebus wants to investigate the crimes but nobody else is interested. Of course that doesn't thwart Rebus - not even when his own life and the careers of those around him are on the line. Ian Rankin not only creates great characters, but his description of place is so stunning I even looked up an atlas to follow the areas of Scotland he was visiting in search of answers. The title, the first scene and the last scene all come together in a very clever piece of writing. Mr Rankin in a great storyteller.

Collectomania: From Objects to Magnificent Obsession by Claudia Chan Shaw
$35 in paperback

According to Claudia Chan Shaw, the world is made up of collectors and non-collectors. Some collect for investment, others for fun. Some love the social interaction of collecting and others love to preserve the past.

Claudia, host of ABC TV series The Collectors,  likens collecting to an addiction. She is always thrilled by the pursuit, the hunt, and the final possession and sense of accomplishment. She developed a penchant for collecting from an early age; from tin robots, to Humphrey Bogart, to fashion. She's a fashion designer and company director for internationally acclaimed Australian fashion label Vivan Chan Shaw.

Collectomania has just been published. If you're a collector, or would like to start collecting items such as jewellery, art, wine, dolls, even snow domes, Claudia gives you wonderfully practical ideas. I found the chapter on Where Do You Get It fascinating - there are just so many ways to start or continue collecting objects of interest to you.

Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn
$29.99 in paperback

If you enjoyed Alan Bennett's The Uncommon Reader you will certainly get pleasure out of reading Mrs Queen Takes the Train. It's a charming, whimsical story exploring what happens when a long-serving and long-suffering monarch happens to go AWOL. One morning, in a spur-of-a-moment decision, The Queen decides to leave the palace by herself. Only six people know of her escapade, and when things get slightly out of hand they vow to bring her back to the palace before MI5 and the media turn her disappearance into a national crisis.

There are some hilarious moments in the novel, and you'll finish the story relaxed, with a smile on your face. The author, historian William Kuhn, was inspired by his research inside the Royal Archives of Windsor Castle, and time spent with courtiers listening to their stories. I think Her Majesty would enjoy reading Mrs Queen Takes the Train and may be even a tad envious. You can even get a free mug with the book while stocks last.

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