Category Archives: Characters

Best Books for Dad this Father’s Day

Gosh, can you believe it is going to be September next week? The year has just whizzed by. Our favourite part of September is celebrating Father’s Day and this week we are taking a closer look at a few books that would make a great gift for any Dad, whether he is a brand new Dad, a Dad who needs more jokes in his repertoire or a wise Dad who likes to be armed with all of the answers.

A Little Something For the New Dads…

Bluey: My Dad is Awesome by Bingo and Bluey

Everyone loves Bandit, especially Bluey and Bingo! Find out what makes this true blue dad so special in this hilarious and heartwarming book. Bluey has been a phenomenal success since airing on ABC KIDS in October 2018, amassing legions of dedicated fans and taking the coveted position of being the most watched program ever on ABC iView, with over 200 million plays. It has also topped the Australian iTunes Kids Chart with the series peaking at #1 and consistently remaining in the Top 5.

How (Not) to Annoy Dad by Dave Hughes and Holly Ife

From one of Australia’s funniest dads on television, Dave Hughes brings us a delightful book that will no doubt be a favourite on the bookshelf for new dads all over the country. Look, Dad! I made you porridge and coffee… together! Follow this Koala Dad as he spends the day with his kids. Laugh along with all the hilarious things they say and do! (*Definitely, maybe, not entirely based on real life!)

150 Dad Jokes by Hayden Fox

Discover the ultimate collection of dad jokes for dads who think they are funny! This book is for those dads who are running out of silly dad jokes. Be warned, gifting this book to Dad will enable him to start embarrassing you with a fresh batch of hilarious dad jokes that will make you groan and roll your eyes. Hayden Fox, the author of this dad joke book, is a school teacher and veteran parent with an endless supply of ridiculous dad jokes ranging from mildly funny to sizzling red-hot-sauce-grade hilarious.

Something For the Wise Dads…

Lifespan: Revolutionary Science of Why We Age – and why we don’t have to by David Sinclair

Dr. David Sinclair reveals that everything we think we know about ageing is wrong, and shares the surprising, scientifically-proven methods that can help readers live younger, longer. For decades, the medical community has looked to a variety of reasons for why we age, and the consensus is that no one dies of old age; they die of age-related diseases. That’s because ageing is not a disease – it is inevitable. But what if everything you think you know about ageing is wrong? What if ageing is a disease? And that disease is curable. Dr. David Sinclair has dedicated his life’s work to chasing more than a longer lifespan – he wants to enable people to live longer, healthier, and disease-free well into our hundreds. In this book, he reveals a bold new theory of ageing, one that pinpoints a root cause of ageing that lies in an ancient genetic survival circuit. This genetic trick, a circuit designed to halt reproduction in order to repair damage to the genome, has enabled earth’s early microcosms to survive and evolve into more advanced organisms. But this same survival circuit is the reason we age: as genetic damage accumulates over our lifespans from UV rays, environmental toxins, and unhealthy diets, our genome is overwhelmed, causing gray hair, wrinkles, achy joints, heart issues, dementia, and, ultimately, death. But genes aren’t our destiny; we have more control over them than we’ve been taught to believe. We can’t change our DNA, but we can harness the power of the epigenome to realise the true potential of our genes. Drawing on his cutting-edge findings at the forefront of medical research, Dr. Sinclair will provide a scientifically-proven roadmap to reverse the genetic clock by activating our vitality genes, so we can live younger longer. Readers will discover how a few simple lifestyle changes, like intermittent fasting, avoiding too much animal protein, limiting sugar, avoiding x-rays, exercising with the right intensity, and even trying cold therapy, can activate our vitality genes.

Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

The world-famous cosmologist and #1 bestselling author of A Brief History of Time leaves us with his final thoughts on the universe’s biggest questions in this brilliant posthumous work. Is there a God? How did it all begin? Can we predict the future? What is inside a black hole? Is there other intelligent life in the universe? Will artificial intelligence outsmart us? How do we shape the future? Will we survive on Earth? Should we colonise space? Is time travel possible? Throughout his extraordinary career, Stephen Hawking expanded our understanding of the universe and unravelled some of its greatest mysteries. But even as his theoretical work on black holes, imaginary time and multiple histories took his mind to the furthest reaches of space, Hawking always believed that science could also be used to fix the problems on our planet. And now, as we face potentially catastrophic changes here on Earth – from climate change to dwindling natural resources to the threat of artificial super-intelligence – Stephen Hawking turns his attention to the most urgent issues for humankind. Wide-ranging, intellectually stimulating, passionately argued, and infused with his characteristic humour, it is the final book from one of the greatest minds in history and a personal view on the challenges we face as a human race, and where we, as a planet, are heading next.

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-Life Problems by Randall Munroe

For any task you might want to do, there’s a right way, a wrong way, and a way so monumentally bad that no one would ever try it. How To is a guide to the third kind of approach. It’s full of highly impractical advice for everything from landing a plane to digging a hole. Bestselling author and cartoonist Randall Munroe explains how to predict the weather by analyzing the pixels of your Facebook photos. He teaches you how to tell if you’re a baby boomer or a millennial by measuring the radioactivity of your teeth. He offers tips for taking a selfie with a telescope, crossing a river by boiling it, and getting to your appointments on time by destroying the moon. And if you want to get rid of this book once you’re done with it, he walks you through your options for proper disposal, including dissolving it in the ocean, converting it to a vapour, using tectonic plates to subduct it into the Earth’s mantle, or launching it into the sun. By exploring the most complicated ways to do simple tasks, Munroe doesn’t just make things difficult for himself and his readers. Full of clever infographics and amusing illustrations, How To is a delightfully mind-bending way to better understand the science and technology underlying the things we do every day.

Enjoy!

The hottest pre-orders to look forward to this year.

Here in Melbourne, we are all currently staying safe at home and our bookshelves are definitely getting a workout. So if you are nearing the end of your reading list, fear not, there are some amazing books on the horizon that we are so excited to read and you can pre-order now. 

Make yourself a cuppa and get ready to add these titles to your reading list. If you’re looking for even more titles check out our pre-order section here.

Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi

Flavour-forward, vegetable-based recipes are at the heart of Yotam Ottolenghi’s food. In this stunning new cookbook Yotam and co-writer Ixta Belfrage break down the three factors that create flavour and offer innovative vegetable dishes that deliver brand-new ingredient combinations to excite and inspire. Ottolenghi Flavour combines simple recipes for weeknights, low-effort high-impact dishes, and standout meals for the relaxed cook. Packed with signature colourful photography, Flavour not only inspires us with what to cook, but how flavour is dialled up and why it works. With sure-fire hits, such as Aubergine Dumplings alla Parmigiana, Hasselback Beetroot with Lime Leaf Butter, Miso Butter Onions, Spicy Mushroom Lasagne and Romano Pepper Schnitzels, plus mouthwatering photographs of nearly every one of the more than 100 recipes, Ottolenghi Flavour is the impactful, next-level approach to vegetable cooking that Ottolenghi fans and vegetable lovers everywhere have been craving.

You can find Yotam Ottolenhi’s other books here.

Is This Anything by Jerry Sienfeld

The first book in twenty five years from Jerry Seinfeld features his best work across five decades in comedy. Since his first performance at the legendary New York nightclub “Catch a Rising Star” as a twenty-one-year-old student in autumn of 1975, Jerry Seinfeld has written his own material and saved everything. “Whenever I came up with a funny bit, whether it happened on a stage, in a conversation, or working it out on my preferred canvas, the big yellow legal pad, I kept it in one of those old-school accordion folders,” Seinfeld writes. “So I have everything I thought was worth saving from forty-five years of hacking away at this for all I was worth.” For this book, Jerry Seinfeld has selected his favourite material, organised decade by decade. In page after hilarious page, one brilliantly crafted observation after another, readers will witness the evolution of one of the great comedians of our time and gain new insights into the thrilling but unforgiving art of writing stand-up comedy.

Just like You by Nick Hornby

This warm, wise, highly entertaining twenty-first century love story is about what happens when the person who makes you happiest is someone you never expected.

Lucy used to handle her adult romantic life according to the script she’d been handed. She met a guy just like herself: same age, same background, same hopes and dreams; they got married and started a family. Too bad he made her miserable. Now, two decades later, she’s a nearly-divorced, forty-one-year-old schoolteacher with two school-aged sons, and there is no script anymore. So when she meets Joseph, she isn’t exactly looking for love-, she’s more in the market for a babysitter. Joseph is twenty-two, living at home with his mother, and working several jobs, including the butcher counter where he and Lucy meet. It’s not a match anyone one could have predicted. He’s of a different class, a different culture, and a different generation. But sometimes it turns out that the person who can make you happiest is the one you least expect, though it can take some manoeuvring to see it through.

Just Like You is a brilliantly observed, tender, but also brutally funny new novel that gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person-, someone you didn’t see coming.

You can find Nick Hornby’s other books here.

All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

The bestselling author of Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton, returns with All Our Shimmering Skies which is a glorious novel destined to become another Australian classic. Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain overhead, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger’s daughter, turns once again to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag next to the map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: a razor-tongued actress named Greta and a fallen Japanese fighter pilot named Yukio. ‘Run, Molly, run,’ says the daytime sky. Run to the vine forests. Run to northern Australia’s wild and magical monsoon lands. Run to friendship. Run to love. Run. Because the graverobber’s coming, Molly, and the night-time sky is coming with him. So run, Molly, run. All Our Shimmering Skies is a story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. It is an odyssey of true love and grave danger; of the darkness and the light; of bones and blue skies. A buoyant, beautiful and magical novel abrim with warmth, wit and wonder, a love letter to Australia and the art of looking up.

A Song for Dark Times by Ian Rankin

When his daughter Samantha calls in the dead of night, John Rebus knows it’s not good news. Her husband has been missing for two days. Rebus fears the worst, and knows, from his lifetime in the police that his daughter will be the prime suspect. He wasn’t the best father, the job always came first, but now his daughter needs him more than ever. But is he going as a father or a detective? As he leaves at dawn to drive to the windswept coast, and a small town with big secrets, he wonders whether this might be the first time in his life where the truth is the one thing he doesn’t want to find…

You can find Ian Rankin’s other books here and the whole Inspector Rebus series here.

Honeybee by Craig Silver

‘Find out who you are, and live that life.’ Late in the night, fourteen-year-old Sam Watson steps onto a quiet overpass, climbs over the rail and looks down at the road far below. At the other end of the same bridge, an old man, Vic, smokes his last cigarette. The two see each other across the void. A fateful connection is made, and an unlikely friendship blooms. Slowly, we learn what led Sam and Vic to the bridge that night. Bonded by their suffering, each privately commits to the impossible task of saving the other. Honeybee is a heartbreaking, life-affirming novel that throws us headlong into a world of petty thefts, extortion plots, botched bank robberies, daring dog rescues and one spectacular drag show. At the heart of Honeybee is Sam: a solitary, resilient young person battling to navigate the world as their true self; ensnared by loyalty to a troubled mother, scarred by the volatility of a domineering stepfather, and confounded by the kindness of new alliances. Honeybee is a tender, profoundly moving novel, brimming with vivid characters and luminous words. It’s about two lives forever changed by a chance encounter — one offering hope, the other redemption. It’s about when to persevere, and when to be merciful, as Sam learns when to let go, and when to hold on.

Enjoy!

Books that have come to life on the small screen

Which is better, the book, the mini series or the movie?

It’s an ongoing debate that pops up each time a story makes the transition from our bookshelves onto our screens. The beauty of books is that readers get to exercise their imagination beyond the descriptions of characters and settings created by the author. It’s when directors and actors add their own ‘twist’ to the characters in our heads that the debate begins.

There are a number of new adaptations that are being made and have either just launched, or will be gracing our screens in coming months. Today we’re having a look at some of the wonderful stories that either just have, or will be, coming to life. 

Be sure to share in the comments below which has been your favourite book-to-movie (or mini series) transition. 

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Starring Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans, Samara Weaving, and Manny Jacinto, a great cast is coming together to bring Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers to our screens.

One house. Nine strangers. Ten days that will change everything. The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation.

Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.

Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves, and get to know each other.

Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission. But quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined. For behind the retreat’s glamorous facade lies a dark agenda. These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them. 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere has been made into a tv series staring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, both of whom also executive produced the show, alongside Liz Tigelaar, Lauren Neustadter, and Pilar Savone. 

Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down. In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned, from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules. Enter Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist and single mother,  who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants.  All four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community. When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family, and Mia’s. 

The Outsider by Stephen King

The Outsider is an American horror crime drama mini series based on the novel by Stephen King. It stars Ben Mendelsohn, Bill Camp, Paddy Considine, Julianne Nicholson, Jason Bateman (who also happened to direct the first two episodes) and Cynthia Erivo.

When an eleven year old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man. Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day. As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King’s propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he?

Survive by Alex Morel 

Love is a force of nature. What makes you fight to stay alive? The movie version of Survive stars Sophie Turner and is a gripping adventure story that will have you on the edge of your seat from the first chapter. Jane is running away from everything. From the facility she’s been living in, from her pain, from her guilt, from life. She boards a plane to Montclair, New Jersey, though her destination does not matter she doesn’t plan to be alive when the plane lands. Jane has planned the perfect suicide. She’ll fall asleep on the plane and never wake up. But as she’s reaching for her pills in the tiny bathroom, the plane hits turbulence. Another jolt, the engine’s down. The plane crashes into the cold, remote mountains of Montana, and Jane and a boy named Paul are the only two survivors. It took a brush with death to make Jane realise that she didn’t want to die. But now there is snow, mountains, cliffs, little food and no water standing between life and death. And suddenly it’s not just Jane. There is another person in the equation and she needs to get them both to safety. She needs them both to survive.

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery star in the mini series version of this gripping story by Willian Landay.

When a teenaged boy is discovered stabbed to death in the woods adjoining the local high school, a wave of shock ripples through the suburban community of Newton, outside of Boston. Assistant district attorney Andy Barber is used to dealing with murder and its after efffects, but with his own son, Jacob, also a student at the school, he too is anxious for a swift arrest and conviction. But as the kids appear to be stonewalling the cops and the investigation stalls, evidence emerges that ties Jacob to the crime and suddenly Andy faces a very different challenge: preventing his son from being convicted of murder. Together with his wife, Laurie, the family closes ranks in the midst of an increasingly hostile community as Andy prepares for the trial of his life, the one trial he cannot afford to lose. Especially when the emergence of his own dark family secrets threatens to undermine Jacob’s defence. And as the drama reaches its climax, Andy and Laurie have to face every parent’s toughest questions: how well do you really know your own child, and how far would you go to save them?

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

Around the world, millions of readers have been captivated by Wally Lamb’s incredible talent in representing the lost and the lonely. It’s the story of Dominick Birdsey, whose entire life has been shaped by anger and fear, by the paranoid schizophrenic twin brother that he deeply loves and resents. The two brothers share a family history that includes an adoptive father, Ray, and a long-suffering mother, Concettina, a timid woman with a harelip and a huge desire to protect her troubled son, Thomas, as the demons of his schizophrenia become increasingly apparent. But as Thomas commits an act which sends him to strict confinement for the mentally ill, Dominick’s life spins even further out of control. He attempts to come to terms with the desire to rescue his brother and fears about his own psychological health and his inability to love. Dominick’s journey is illuminated, and further complicated, by a fable-like account of his grandfather Domenico Onofrio Tempesta’s life. As Dominick continues to face the pain of loss, he must rebuild himself in the shadow of his twin, and come to grips with his anger in order to forgive. 

On screen you’ll see Mark Ruffalo play both Dominick and his brother Thomas in the mini series adaptation. 

Of course, there is one other new addition to our screens, which has been eagerly awaited in our household…The Babysitters Club. The Babysitters Club books have been treasured stories for many generations and have undergone adaptations to graphic novels (you can check those out here) along with launching on Netflix in the past few weeks. 


Enjoy!

Fake videos of real people and how to spot them

Do you think you’re good at spotting fake videos, where famous people say things they’ve never said in real life? See how they’re made in this astonishing Ted talk. Computer scientist Supasorn Suwajanakorn shows how, as a grad student, he used AI and 3D modeling to create photorealistic fake videos of people synced to audio. Learn more about both the ethical implications and the creative possibilities of this tech and the steps being taken to fight against its misuse.