The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

July 26, 2016 Comments off

dolssaThe Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry. Pub. HarperCollins, 2016.

Of all the eras of human habitation on this planet the one that I would least liked to have lived in is the medieval period when the power of the church was at it’s highest and most vicious.

In this novel for senior students and young adults Julie Berry has created that medieval world with all its poverty, cruelty and religious fervour. Once I had become fond of the characters who are largely female, young, clever and questioning I was scared witless of what fate may become them. You will too.

Dolssa is the key character who believes god speaks to her and through her and she refers to him as her beloved. This brings her into conflict with the Inquisitors who see heresy spreading and spoiling the vineyard of the lord. This role is played by Lucien de Saint-Honore who wishes to destroy anything that conflicts with the teachings of the church and believes that this will please the blessed Saviour.

After watching her mother burnt at the stake by Lucien, 13 year old Dolssa flees and is eventually rescued by teenager Botille an arranger of marriages and her sisters Plazensa who is a prostitute and Sazia who can read fortunes. The girls hide Dolssa from the Inquisitors and this brings drama and danger into their lives.

You will have to read the novel to find out more and believe me it is captivating reading.

Narrated by Dolssa, Botille and Lucien mainly but other characters do contribute. Chapters are short and the writing is lofty and crude at the same time in line with the characters of the Medieval period. A superb piece of writing.

Starlight Stables Bk.4: Saving Starlight by Soraya Nicholas

July 21, 2016 Comments off

saving starlightStarlight Stables Bk.4: Saving Starlight by Soraya Nicholas. Pub. Puffin Books,imprint penguin Random house, 2016.

This fourth part about a horse riding stable has the same quality and values as the previous three which are reviewed on this blog. Set in Australia and mainly written for horse crazy girls and there are a lot of them, this continues the story of Poppy, Milly and Katie and their horses Crystal, Joe and Cody.

Aunt Sophie and Uncle Mark have financial worries after a sponsor hits hard times. Starlight Stables is under threat. The girls have a competition of their own and Aunt Sophie is riding for an Olympic place at an event in Melbourne on her impressive horse Jupiter.

The girls want to help save Starlight and poppy wants to do well at her role of groom for Aunt Sophie’s horse Jupiter. What will happen if the stables go broke?  Will the impressive colt Prince have to be sold?  Will the girls be able to hold on to their horses? Read it and find out.

Starlight Stables Bk.3 Bush Bolts by Soraya Nicholas.

July 20, 2016 Comments off

bush boltsStarlight Stables Bk.3 Bush Bolts by Soraya Nicholas. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2016.

Poppy and her two horse riding friends Milly and Katie return to Starlight stables for a long weekend but this time they have another companion who doesn’t share their fanatical love of horses.

Her name is Sarah and she was a good friend to Poppy when her father died and her mother was grieving badly. poppy badly wants Sarah to love horses like she does but that is a big ask. However Sarah has other qualities as a friend and a human being especially her love for all animals.

Starlight Stables is tinder dry and bush fires are a threat. While out riding the girls come under threat from a lightening storm that threatens catastrophe. Read the rest and find out what happens.

The other Starlight books are on this blog and the author can be reached at

Don’t Cross the Line by Isabel Minho Martins, illus. Bernardo P. Carvalho.

July 20, 2016 Comments off

cross lineDon’t Cross the Line by Isabel Minho Martins, illus. Bernardo P. Carvalho. Pub. Gecko Press, 2016.

This is a sophisticated picture book from a Portuguese author and illustrator. Sophisticated in theme and in the complexity of the illustrations.

If you are going to have a revolution against a tyrannical regime then this peaceful way is the way to do it.

Inside the thick cardboard covers there appear more than 60 characters with their lives to live from a broad spectrum of a community. The title page has a fierce looking general sitting on an even fiercer horse bellowing at the guard how he gives the orders around here.

The guard is to stop any one from going onto the right hand page of the book. At first a dog tries to cross, then a man but the guard is fierce and vigilant. He explains ” I am only obeying orders” How many times has that been used as an excuse. The growing crowd think it is crazy,  something has got to give and as always children lead the way. The guard becomes a hero and the people have their victory.

The illustrations are bright water colours with all characters distinctive by their big purple noses which I am in favour of. As you follow the characters through the story you see the lives they have. Clara with son Rui and husband Joe in tow has a baby. Marcelino an ET type character needs to phone home and two prisoners need to get away.

There are many stories in the naked city this is a few of them. A multi level book.


Super Rabbit by Stephanie Blake

July 19, 2016 Comments off

super rabbitSuper Rabbit by Stephanie Blake. Pub. Gecko Press, 2016.

Simon the little rabbit of Poo Bum fame is growing up and testing life, as he should. He decides he is Super Rabbit but the cat is not so sure.

Simon tells his mother he is now Super Rabbit, steps outside in his super rabbit outfit and pop gun with cat in tow. Things are not going to go well as he enters a dark hole in a tree. A splinter in the finger and an operation by his mum tests little rabbit’s bravery.

Undeterred Super Rabbit is ready for villains again. Fantasy and imagination are great for children and this ticks all the boxes.

The format and the illustrations are the same as all the other books about little rabbit. Black font of varying sizes to emphasise points, on the left page, with bold colour illustrations on the right.

Get them all, children love to follow a series. It is comforting and reassuring. Other reviews of Simon’s exploits are on this blog.

That’s Not a Hippopotamus! by Juliette MacIver. Illus.Sarah Davis

July 18, 2016 Comments off

hippopotomusThat’s Not a Hippopotamus! by Juliette MacIver. Illus.Sarah Davis. Pub. Gecko press, 2016.

When Liam’s class go to Don’s Safari  to see the animals, the naked mole rat is in, the goblin shark is in and so is the pink fairy armadillo but where is the hippopotamus?

The class go looking all absolutely positive of what a hippopotamus looks like but hippopotamus is cunning and elusive but if you look hard you can spot him. Liam knows where he is but the teacher won’t listen.

After many identity mistakes by the children, bedecked in floral shirt, pork pie hat and sunglasses hippopotamus sneaks up on the children. Delightful.

Juliette MacIver’s rhyming text pushes boundaries but makes for great reading-aloud. “We got ‘im miss, we got ‘im miss we got ‘im by his bottom miss”.

Sarah Davis has really come to the party with her illustrations. The children, the animals, the game keeper and especially the teacher show real character as they go through all the emotions that the story brings. The hippopotamus is superbly disguised and I loved it when he hides with the elephants.

An experienced team this. Other books by both are on this blog. A great addition to any school library and a wonderful story to read to children at night.

Sympathy For the Devil. The Birth of the Rolling Stones and the Death of Brian Jones by Paul Trynka.

July 15, 2016 Comments off

brian jonesSympathy For the Devil. The Birth of the Rolling Stones and the Death of Brian Jones by Paul Trynka. Pub.Trans World Books, 2014.

It’s school holidays and I always give time to myself to read an adult book. This is it, and although you could say it is riddled with childish behaviour, it was the 1960,s and it deals with the birth of the Stones and the rise and fall of Brian Jones.

I have read all the books about the Rolling Stones because they introduced the world to the Blues music of the great American black Blues artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf Jimmy Reid etc etc etc. It was Brian Jones that was responsible for this and it was him that gave blues back to America. It was his passion, his vision  that formed the Rolling Stones in 1962 and gave Mick Jagger and Keith Richards the platform to strut their stuff on the stage but it was a gateway to his own destruction.To this day I still want Jones’ creation of Little Red Rooster played at my funeral.

Brian Jones put the devil into the Stones, he introduced Keith Richards to Open G tuning which gave the  Stones their distinctive sound and he taught Mick to make love to a woman. Brian Jones was the experienced one in the early days and sadly has been given no credit for it by his fellow band members. Mind you Bill Wyman fared no better but came through it all. Brian was sensitive, had poor parents and a weak body. His fate was inevitable on the evidence of this book.

Brian Jones was destroyed by the toxic culture of the Stones, nankering they called it, by his own appetite for drugs and by being hounded by the Establishment through obsessed and proven corrupt Scotland Yard police officer Norman Pilcher. To see and hear Scotland Yard police officers lying through their teeth was frightening to Brian Jones. He had no hope.

This is a great read for 60’s fans and Stones fans it is just regrettable that none of the Stones has come to the party. He is the elephant in the room for the Stones who have airbrushed him out of their history and the truth may never be told. The conspiracy theories about Brian’s death are handled but after reading the book you have to say they are a load of codswallop.



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