You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Allen and Unwin’ tag.

Tohby Riddle

Allen & Unwin (2012)

ISBN: 978-1-74237-9722

Reviewed by Ross Murray

Unforgotten is Tohby Riddle’s latest book, following My Uncle’s Donkey (2010) and Nobody Owns the Moon (2008). However, his impressive catalogue of publications (including collaborations) goes back to 1989 and includes books for pre-schoolers, cartoon collections, graphic novels, non-fiction, and a novel, The Lucky Ones (2009).

Down from the heavens arrive angels, sweeping through cities all over the earth. They travel so fast their presence is hardly perceived. On train stations, in traffic tunnels, on the top of buildings, they flicker in and out of sight. These angels come “to watch over, and to warm, and to mend”. Read the rest of this entry »

Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan

Allen & Unwin (2012)

ISBN: 978 174237 839 8

Reviewed by Jason Nahrung

I read this 350-page book in a little over two days – it’s a hoot. The authors have taken the premise that’s popular of late – a vampire in a high school – and made it palatable. Reasonable. Understandable.

I love the simplicity and sensibility of Team Human’s world, where vampires are a part of life though removed from it, as befits people – they’re definitely people – who do not age, do not eat and do not laugh. Vampirism is regulated, and becoming one carries the risk of death or being left a zombie if the transition fails.

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Isobelle Carmody

Allen and Unwin (2012 – originally published 1996)

ISBN: 978-1-74237-947-0

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

I had not read any of Isobelle Carmody’s short fiction before, although I was familiar with and had enjoyed a number of her novels. Good novelists are not always good short story writers (and vice versa), and it was with pleasure that I discovered that Carmody is as capable and assured in this medium as in the longer form. Like many collections of short stories, I found Green Monkey Dreams best read one or two stories at a time, dipped into over a fortnight or so. The writing style was easy to devour and I could have read the collection far faster; but the majority of the stories deserve time to settle, a little time for consideration, before you move onto the next.

Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer

Allen and Unwin (2012)

ISBN: 978-1-74331-092-2

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

Between the Lines is the sort of book you can hold up to people who say, “Print is dead!” and poke your tongue at them. It’s a lovely package (and it should be noted I’m talking about the Australian/New Zealand Allen and Unwin printing), with gorgeous full colour artwork at the chapter breaks, clever silhouette illustrations popping up on the pages, and a variety of font colours and types used to denote point of view in different chapters. It is pretty, and the pictures are worth poring over – it’s great to see publishers investing in the printed book like this, because it is an edge that regular (ie: e-ink) e-readers cannot match.

Delilah is pretty much an outcast at school, and would rather read than anything else. Her new favourite book is one she can’t even tell her best (only) friend about though – it’s a fairytale, and Delilah finds herself very intrigued by the main character, the prince Oliver. Little does she know, Oliver is intrigued by her as well, and yearns to escape the confines of the story for a bigger world outside. But is that even possible?

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Claire Corbett

Allen & Unwin (2011)

ISBN: 978-1-74237-556-4

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

This book is a very interesting case from a marketing point of view – from what I’ve seen, it’s been marketed as neither science fiction nor young adult, and yet in could easily fit into both categories. Instead, the publisher seems to have been promoting it as a literary novel, which I can also see sense in, but given the content of some of the books I’ve seen shoved into the YA pigeonhole in recent years, I have to say I am a bit surprised they haven’t targeted that market. Still, I believe the book is selling well under their current marketing, so who is to complain!

When We Have Wings is an accomplished debut novel for Canadian-born Australian writer Claire Corbett. Sweeping in vision and scope, the story bounces between two very different points of view, that of cynical but solid private investigator Zeke Fowler, and a young nanny, Peri, who had risen to heights she could not have dreamed of from her humble beginnings, and then thrown it all away. Zeke is hired by Peri’s employers, high flyers (in all senses of the phrase!) the Chesshyres, when Peri apparently kidnaps their young son, and disappears with him into the wilderness.

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Garth Nix

Allen & Unwin (2012)

ISBN: 978 1 74175 861 0

Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce

Khemri, our narrator, tells us straight up that he has died three times, and that this is the story of those deaths “and my life between.” It’s also made clear that although he is called a Prince, he hasn’t been born into a royal family but, rather, effectively kidnapped – requisitioned might be a better term. The story is that of Khemri learning that much of what he knows about being a Prince is wrong, or at least wrong-headed. He learns this while avoiding being killed – usually not because of his own wits – and while gradually coming to terms with the realities of the Empire. He has a wise, enigmatic Master of Assassins by his side (and the novel includes a bonus short story that gives just a little more insight into Haddad’s character), and while he does die a few times the first time isn’t until he’s actually learnt some things, which is a plus.

The overall story is fairly enjoyable. The twists and turns in Khemri learning how the Empire actually works, as opposed to how he has been taught that it does, is generally well played, although not especially original; there were only a couple of times I was genuinely surprised. I enjoyed the idea of the Princes all vying to be the next Emperor and how that might play out when there are ten million of them, mostly bloodthirsty or at the very least ruthless. And the worldbuilding was particularly interesting.

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Tahereh Mafi

Allen and Unwin (2011)

ISBN: 978-1-74237-820-6

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

Shatter Me is an impressive debut novel from Tahereh Mafi, employing an unusual structural style to tell a not-quite-linear narrative following characters you come to love and loathe. While not marketed as such, it is apparently book one of a trilogy, but don’t let that deter you – this book stands alone quite well, and comes to a satisfying conclusion while leaving you wanting more.

Juliette is in isolation, restricted to a cell to “protect” society from her deadly touch. She thinks she might be going insane, in solitary confinement, and when her captors throw a young man into the cell with her, she’s certain of it, sure that one or both of them is intended now to die. But Adam is not what he appears, and it seems that the Reestablishment – the organisation that gained power after the world tried to destroy itself – has other plans for Juliette. Can she somehow gain back control of her own life, and perhaps even find a semblance of a normal life?

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Garth Nix

Allen & Unwin (2012)

ISBN: 978 1 74175 861 0

Reviewed by Jason Nahrung

The foundation of this YA space opera from Garth Nix in a proposed computer game is apparent, but well controlled and logical. What is a quest if not a series of challenges, each developing a strength and teaching a lesson?

For Khemri, those lessons can be lethal, and increasingly serve to acquaint him with what it means to be human, or rather, an everyday citizen. To think, that someone might sacrifice themselves for another, out of desire and not coercion…

Khemri is one of millions of enhanced, purpose-crafted princes who control the empire within a bureaucratic framework of priests under an overarching Imperial Mind. Nix’s universe utilises three core technologies: mechanical, biological and psychic. It’s a wonderfully drawn world, from its terminology to its weaponry and medical tech, communications and transport, to the computer game idea of respawning or resurrection, new Battlestar Galactica style, after death. Read the rest of this entry »

Celine Kiernan

Allen and Unwin

ISBN: 978-1-74237-752-0

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Reading Taken Away was a rather unexpected experience, largely because the blurb on the back bore very little resemblance to what the story was actually about. It was quite a good story, and I enjoyed the novel; it’s just that it was not at all what I had anticipated.

The story opens in 1974 on the night that Dom and Pat’s senile grandmother burns down their house. They weren’t rich to start with, but now they have nothing. The family must essentially start again, and to do so they move into the house they normally rent for holidays. It’s not much fun living in a holiday house when you’re not on holiday. A lot of the flaws that you never notice when you’re in a good mood and the place is bursting with relatives suddenly become obvious.

Kerry Greenwood

Phryne Fisher Mysteries, book 17

Allen & Unwin (2008)

ISBN: 9781741149999

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack (this review was first published in November 2008)

Kerry Greenwood has written many speculative fiction novels, but is possibly best known for her Phryne Fisher mystery stories. This is one of those novels, and it has only the faintest connection to the speculative fiction genre. It’s an enjoyable novel, though, and readers who know only Greenwood’s speculative fiction may well want to try this series as well.

Set in 1929 Australia, the novel is part of the continuing story of Phryne Fisher. The aristocratic and rich Miss Fisher is an amateur detective; although she earns some money from her endeavours, she doesn’t really need it and undertakes her investigations more from curiosity or a desire to help someone. Here Phryne finds herself dealing with two mysteries. In the first, the formidable Mrs Manifold approaches Phryne for help. Her son Augustine was found drowned on a St Kilda beach; suicide, the police say. But Mrs Manifold is certain he would not kill himself, and her reasons are convincing enough for Phryne to agree to try to find the truth. At the same time, a local lawyer has approached Phryne for help in finding an illegitimate child – who would now be an adult – and who might or might not exist. Read the rest of this entry »

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