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Squirrels! You’ve gotta love them. Peter Wohlleben’s new book, The Inner Life of Animals, starts off by talking about squirrels. It’s a hot summer day and the author is in the garden with his children when a rusty-red squirrel comes bounding across the lawn. The family is delighted to see this furry friend in their yard. But the delight turns to dismay as the squirrel promptly keels over on its side. They peer closer, only to find a large lump on its neck. Maybe it has an infectious disease? The squirrel rose to stagger a few steps towards the pool, only to keel over once more. As Peter was about to bundle his children into the house, they realised that the lump on the squirrel’s neck was a ruff of fur. It was a baby hanging on tightly. But it was hanging on so tightly that it was asphyxiating its mother. Combined with the heat, this poor mummy squirrel could hardly summon the energy, or take in the oxygen, to walk to the pool.
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Archive Discoveries

  • Thirteen-year-old gamer Beth loves fighting beasts and solving riddles in her favourite online game, Tordon. But she soon faces her own adventure when she and her gaming nemesis are sucked into a new adventure filled world where they have to fight for their own survival. Into Tordon is a collaborative novel by 9 authors, written under the pseudonym of Z F Kingbolt. Good Reading talks to Editor-in-Chief Zena Shapter about the collaborative writing process, gaming and the adventures in the real world that mimic those found on the screen. Read on >
  • The changing moral code and shift in gender roes of World War II provide the backdrop for JENNIFER RYAN's debut novel The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN about the people and events that inspired the story. Read on >
  • He has worked as a wilderness guide, a ranch hand and a dogsled musher – and he’s also a skilled marksman. But ERIK STOREY, a lover of the great outdoors, has come in out of the wild for long enough to turn out his first novel, Nothing Short of Dying. A thriller set in the mountainous landscape of western Colorado, it features Clyde Barr, a man with a military past who is fresh out of prison. We talked with Erik recently about dealing with rejection, the lure of western Colorado and his number-one tip for surviving in the wild. Read on >
  • UK journalist and editor MARINA BENJAMIN looks at the joys, losses and opportunities of middle age in her new book, The Middlepause. In this extract she writes about the secret misogynistic history of HRT.   Read on >
  • We talk with PATRICK HOLLAND, a longlist nominee for the 2011 Miles Franklin Award for his novel The Mary Smokes Boys, about his new novel, One, which tells the story of the real-life Kenniff brothers. These two late-19th-century Queenslanders were Australia’s last bushrangers, and vPatrick questions the extent of their supposed villainy. Read on >
  • While researching for a non-fiction book about the botanical history of some of the world’s most popular alcoholic drinks, US author Amy Stewart stumbled across a gin smuggler’s altercation with a officious woman named Constance Kopp. This discovery catalysed her historical crime-fiction series based around Constance and her two sisters, set in New Jersey in 1915. As the second instalment in the series, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, is released, Angus Dalton finds out more. Read on >
  • Teachers of writing classes often tell their students ‘show, don’t tell’. But showing – which means providing vivid description so that readers can clearly imagine what is being represented – depends to a large extent on memory and an alertness to the present moment. Writer and memoir instructor PATTI MILLER, author of Ransacking Paris, shows here how you can draw on sensory memory to enhance your writing. Read on >
  • The jazz era of the 1920s in America was
 filled with exuberant music, fast cars and young men and women determined to have a good time. But at the same time in working-class Far North Queensland, life wasn’t lived at quite the same level of opulence.
In a new novel, Treading Air, Queensland author ARIELLA VAN LUYN uses fiction to investigate the life of a real young woman from Townsville named Lizzie O’Dea, who shot another woman in 1924. Read on >
  • If you set out to write a thriller, you’re going to have to do some research. And while your story will be fiction, you’ll probably uncover more than a few fascinating real-world facts, as Australian thriller author L A LARKIN discovered while researching for her latest novel, Devour. Read on >
  • Stretching across generations and set on the Atherton Tablelands where she lives, the latest novel from prolific Australian author BARBARA HANNAY is a saga of loss, love, secrets and salvation. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN 
about her writing life, and how The Grazier's Wife evolved.   Read on >
  • The BBC released a survey earlier this year in which they asked readers to name the books they had lied about having read. You can see the list below. I think I have read around half, as some I may have read in my youth that I’ve forgotten about (more about that later). How many of them have you read? The truth, please! Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • The Life to Come is the sixth novel by Michelle de Kretser, whose books The Lost Dog and Questions of Travel won a host of awards and caused a stir in the publishing world. I expect The Life to Come will be just as well received. Read on >

  • I enjoyed the variety of emotions and the rich imagery in Aman’s anthology. Read on >

  • The story begins in 1987 when Nat – the third wheel in a trio of teenage misfits – is pressured into participating in a séance with her friends. The girls attempt to invoke the spirit of bushranger Ned Kelly. But, unwittingly, they instead call forth Edward Kelley, an Elizabethan scryer and alchemist who worked with Dr John Dee, astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I. What follows is a tale of possession that spans three timelines – Edward Kelley and John Dee in 1587, Nat and her friends in 1987, and Nat’s son, Jo, in 2087 – that are all linked by that fateful night. Read on >

  • Bridget Crack, an assured debut from a new Tasmanian voice, is an intriguing and insightful look at life through the eyes of a female convict in 1820s Van Diemen’s Land. Read on >

  • Vivid but flawed characters – such as stewards, soldiers, aristocrats and priests – rise from the page. The chapters are interspersed with insightful extracts from Lady Anne’s journal, which touches on topics such as the degradation of women, class inequality and conflicting moral and ethical viewpoints on religion. This renowned crime writer has shifted to historical fiction without faltering. Read on >

  • Meredith Jaffé’s intricate exploration of relationships and the revelation of the full impact of toxic encounters is enthralling. Jaffé doesn’t let you off the hook easily, and after the climax she brings the loss and bitterness of these broken relationships back to everyday existence and examines how her characters carry on. I couldn’t put it down. Read on >

  • The lovely thing about this book is that it’s simply written in diary form, just like a child would. And the illustrations are so lifelike and complement the text beautifully. The long boat trip and the excitement of being in a new country are told in such a positive way that children reading this book will understand a little of what it was like to leave a homeland and start again in a new country. What a wonderful way to learn our history. Read on >

  • This stunning book, with its sumptuous illustrations on every page, will draw you in and bring the mysterious story of Tutankhamun to life. It will fascinate all children and adults who have ever wanted to visit Egypt and sail down the Nile. Read on >

  • If you’re a fan of Pig the Pug then you’ll love Aaron Blabey’s latest laugh-out-loud story, Pig and his long-suffering friend, Trevor, are dressing up for a photo shoot. As you can imagine, Pig has to be the centre of attention, hogging all the best costumes while poor Trevor looks on. But, as usual, Pig’s dreadful antics get him into big trouble. Maybe he won’t be such a show-off from now on. Read on >

  • Just imagine if ‘Mum went out to buy a new pair of gumboots, but came home with a rabbit’. In this book, The Great Rabbit Chase by Freya Blackwood, she did. And guess what he’s called? Gumboots. Gumboots is so soft and cuddly, but he’s also so good at escaping. And if you have a long rabbit hole to escape into and out of, then a runaway rabbit is hard to catch. I love this great rabbit chase, as Freya Blackwood has the whole town joining in, and her delightfully detailed artwork helps to tell the story. And if you like surprises then there’s a great big one at the end. Read on >

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Books for Boys