Ghostwritten – Ronald Malfi

In the beginning of The Neverending Story movie, the bookseller tells Bastian that the books he reads are safe. The books you’ll encounter in the four novellas that comprise Ghostwritten are most certainly not safe.

The Skin of Her Teeth

Gloria’s client, Davis McElroy, has been adapting a bestseller into a screenplay. He’s usually reliable but he’s missed his deadline and it’s up to Gloria to salvage the deal. This book doesn’t like change.

“The simplest thing,” Finter said, “is to give it what it wants.”

The Dark Brothers’ Last Ride

Danny and Tommy Drake have been hired to deliver a package. There are specific rules they need to follow:

  • Don’t open the briefcase.
  • Don’t touch the contents of the briefcase.
  • Follow the route that has been mapped out by the client to get to the drop off location.
  • Ignore anyone who asks to see the book.

The rules are very important. This book is out of this world.

“How can a book be dangerous?”

“Because they contain all the powers of the universe.”

This Book Belongs to Olo

Olo is having a birthday. He will be ten years old. At his party there will be cake, games, prizes and surprises. This book has no words.

“Well, everybody knows how to play hide and seek, I think,” said the girl. “It’s just that, it’s kind of a baby game.”

“Not the way I play,” he said, then tugged the clown mask back down over his face.

The Story

Grady is determined to figure out what story Taryn was working on when she died. This book is Choose Your Own Adventure.

You have been approved to read the Story.

The four novellas have common themes but there are other connections to be found between them. Your attention to detail will be rewarded and I expect a reread will help me discover crossovers I missed the first time around.

It’s difficult for me to choose a favourite story but I definitely had a favourite character, chronically lonely but ever enthusiastic Olo. I’m always a sucker for books about books and here I was treated to four compelling reads. This may only be my second read by this author but Ghostwritten has confirmed my suspicions that I’ve been missing out on something special. I have lots of catching up to do.

Content warnings include death by suicide.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Titan Books for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

From the bestselling author of Come with Me, four standalone horror novellas set in a shared universe!

In The Skin of Her Teeth, a cursed novel drives people to their deaths. 

A delivery job turns deadly in The Dark Brothers’ Last Ride

This Book Belongs to Olo sees a child wielding dangerous control over an unusual pop-up book. 

A choose your own adventure game spirals into an uncanny reality in The Story

Full of creepy, page-turning suspense, these collected novellas are all about books, stories, and manuscripts. The written word has never had sharper teeth…

Everything Is OK – Debbie Tung

As far as I can tell, Debbie Tung’s Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and Book Love were essentially her way of not so subtly telling me she’s been stalking me for my entire adult life. She tried to throw me off the trail by focusing on the ‘aww, aren’t they adorable?’ relationship she and Jason have in Happily Ever After & Everything In Between. Now, in her fourth graphic novel, Debbie takes a deep dive into my mental health.

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From telling people you’re fine when you’re anything but to sleepless nights spent questioning every decision you’ve ever made, Debbie speaks honestly about mental health. Depression. Anxiety. Panic attacks. Suicidal ideation. You not only hear the thoughts that accompany them, you see what they feel like.

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Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone is enough and that’s what this graphic novel does. Debbie’s story acknowledges the darkness but also provides hope.

Asking for help was the most courageous thing I ever did.

It meant that I refused to give up and I wanted to give myself a chance to heal.

It’s one thing to know the types of things that can have a positive impact on your mental health – counselling, self care, celebrating the small wins, gratitude, mindfulness – but hearing how those strategies have helped someone with lived experience gives them more weight.

I’m not an artist so can’t explain this very well but some art feels lofty and unapproachable to me, like I’m being kept at arm’s length. Debbie’s style, though, feels relatable and down to earth. She draws me in with her art and her words.

One thing I really loved about this graphic novel was the use of blue throughout. It’s such an appropriate choice given the subject matter and the muted tones somehow both set the tone and made the content feel non-threatening. The bursts of colour, when they did make an appearance, had a greater impact.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Everything Is OK is the story of Debbie Tung’s struggle with anxiety and her experience with depression. She shares what it’s like navigating life, overthinking every possible worst-case scenario, and constantly feeling like all hope is lost.

The book explores her journey to understanding the importance of mental health in her day-to-day life and how she learns to embrace the highs and lows when things feel out of control. Debbie opens up about deeply personal issues and the winding road to recovery, discovers the value of self-love, and rebuilds a more mindful relationship with her mental health.

In this graphic memoir, Debbie aims to provide positive and comforting messages to anyone who is facing similar difficulties or is just trying to get through a tough time in life. She hopes to encourage readers to be kinder to themselves, to know that they are not alone, and that it’s okay to be vulnerable because they are not defined by their mental health struggles. The dark clouds won’t be there forever. Everything will turn out all right.

Cities of the Dead – Yolanda Zappaterra

I inherited my Nan’s fascination for cemeteries. She instilled in me a reverence for the people whose tombstones I was reading. Horror movies gave me my dread/hope that one day I’ll witness a hand rising from a grave or hear some grave bells ringing.

This book introduces you to a selection of beautiful cemeteries from around the world. For some, their beauty lies in their location, overlooking the ocean or surrounded by trees. Some hold unique cultural or historical significance. Many are the final resting place of people who found fame in life.

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Bonaventure (meaning ‘Good Fortune’) Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia

Each entry includes the history of the cemetery and photos that made me want to visit most of them, but there are also tales of the horror of being buried alive and bodysnatching. If you know me, you know I love fun facts. This book has plenty. Some of my favourites are:

🪦 The headstone of Susan B. Anthony is covered with plexiglass around election time because there’s a tradition of people placing their ‘I Voted’ stickers on it.

🪦 The Sophie Calle installation at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York is a “twenty-five-year artwork entitled Here Lie the Secrets of the Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery in which people can write down their thoughts or secrets and place them in a white marble ‘tombstone’.”

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Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York

🪦 During summer, movies screenings are held on the Douglas Fairbanks Lawn at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Movies shown there include Night of the Living Dead.

🪦 Amongst the tombstones in Okunoin Cemetery, Mount Kōya, Japan, you’ll see some more unusual memorials:

a giant termite’s nest that acts as a pest control company’s memorial to all the termites their products have exterminated. Puffer fish that have fallen foul of chefs’ knives, a giant coffee cup, a large space rocket erected by aerospace company ShinMaywa Industries and memorials to the staff of companies such as Nissan, Toyota and Kirin beer all form part of the curious mix.

If you’re superstitious, you may want to avoid this cemetery all together.

Nearby, housed in a small wooden cage near the Gobyobashi Bridge, the equally curious Miroku Stone supposedly weighs one’s sins as you try to lift it from a lower to an upper platform, but more scary is the Sugatami-no-Ido, or Well of Reflections, found just beyond the Nakanohashi Bridge, close to the shrine to the bodhisattva Asekaki Jizo. Legend has it that if you look into this tiny wooden well but don’t see your reflection, you’re fated to die within three years. Probably best to stay on the safe side and avoid it – which might also be good advice for the Zenni Jochi stone memorial to a Buddhist nun of which it is said, if you place your ear you can hear the cries of people in Hell.

Naturally, this is the cemetery I most want to explore.

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Okopowa Jewish Cemetery in Warsaw, Poland

I found the section at the end of the book that explored symbolism in cemeteries particularly interesting.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Frances Lincoln, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Cities of the Dead takes us on a tour of memorial sites, ranging from monastic settlements to grand cathedrals, Shinto shrines to Gothic chapels, tombs and crypts. Enjoy tales of myths and monsters, grave-robbers, pilgrimages, spiritual retreats, remembrance and community. Marvel in cemeteries with a hundred thousand to a handful of graves which feature famous headstones, weeping angels, ocean views, woodlands, thousands of glowing lanterns and a tomb of poets.

From London’s famous Highgate Cemetery, which houses famous names from Karl Marx to Malcolm McLaren, George Eliot to Christina Rosetti, to Hawaii’s breathtaking Valley of the Temples, this book spans the globe to bring you the most fascinating, intriguing and evocative cemeteries across cultures and continents.

Together with evocative images, the stories behind these notable burial sites bring these sanctuaries to life, detailing the features that make them special, highlighting both similarities and differences between time periods, religions and cultures, and showing how cemeteries are about and for the living as much as the dead.

The Twig Man – Sana Rasoul

Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)

Ari’s parents think Lana ran away but Ari knows better: the Twig Man took her.

Legend says if you wander too far into the woods, he’ll snatch you with his roots and drag you into his lair.

Lana has been missing for a year but Ari hasn’t given up hope. Accompanied by Timmy, a new friend who also believes in the Twig Man, Ari braves the woods to save his sister.

With plenty of screaming and a creepy location, not to mention the potentially true urban legend, this book would have scared me as a kid. It wouldn’t have helped that pretty much everywhere Ari turns, he’s being watched by animals with white eyes.

I figured out Timmy’s story before it was explained but this would have blindsided me had I read this as a kid.

I absolutely loved that there was a glossary of Kurdish words after the story.

I was left with some unanswered questions, mostly relating to the people I met near the end of the book. Did the people who were missing age while they were with the Twig Man? How are they going to explain where they’ve been to the police? Given the length of time some of them have been missing, will their parents even still be alive? How are they going to adapt to a world that has changed so much in their absence?

“Beware the Twig Man, the Twig Man’s hex. Beware the Twig Man, or you’ll be NEXT!”

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Hashtag Press for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Beware the Twig Man, the Twig Man’s hex. Beware the Twig Man, or you’ll be NEXT!   

It’s been a year since nearly-twelve-year-old Ari’s older sister, Lana, ran away.

Except Ari knows what really happened.

She was taken by the Twig Man, the creepy monster that’s haunted the woods for one hundred years. 

No one else will listen, so it’s down to Ari to save his sister.

But he had better hurry, as Ari finds himself next on the Twig Man’s list…

Wolf Girl #7: Crash Course – Anh Do

Illustrations – Lachlan Creagh

Gwen and her pack are travelling by train to Tunny, where her parents were last seen. On their way, Gwen finally gets to see her sister, albeit briefly.

Their arrival at Tunny attracts plenty of attention and it isn’t long before Gwen and the dogs wander into a crossover with the characters from the Rise of the Mythix series.

This series started out with so much promise but it’s frustrating me now. Gwen travels all over the place but she’s not really getting anywhere. Her lost family are dangled in front of her, the hoped for reunion is thwarted, over and over again.

Crossovers can be fun when they make sense. Your favourite characters are placed in situations you wouldn’t usually find them in and their interactions with characters from other series can show you aspects of their personality you didn’t know existed. A crossover done well can enrich both series. Crossovers in Anh Do’s books have been feeling like advertisements for quite a while now.

Stubborn hope has kept me here this long. I want to be there for the payoff. The stakes remain high, there are plenty of action scenes and the target audience are probably still loving this series. I’m just looking for the heart that was there in the beginning, in the time before crossovers.

Multiple animals were harmed in the pages of this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

As the train Wolf Girl is driving hurtles towards the locked gates of an enemy city, the last thing Gwen expects to see out the window is her long lost sister!

Soon the pack are on an epic chase, encountering deadly enemies and plenty of prehistoric surprises.

But just when things seem most dire, help arrives in an unexpected form!

Cackle – Rachel Harrison

WELCOME TO ROWAN, AMERICA’S BEST-KEPT SECRET.

Annie is newly thirty and newly single when she moves to Rowan. Recently dumped by her long term boyfriend/best friend, Annie is on her own for the first time and she’s not a fan. When she’s not teaching “hormone-addled, angst-driven evil meat sticks”, she’s hitting the bottle.

It isn’t long before Annie meets Sophie, who’s beautiful and self-assured. The people of Rowan behave differently when Sophie is around, though. It’s almost as if they’re scared of her.

“Want me to curse them for you?”

“Sure,” I say.

“Done.”

Annie loves the attention and care that Sophie lavishes on her but it made me feel claustrophobic. The relationships in this book (Annie and Sam, Annie and Sophie) are all kinds of messed up. It’s no coincidence that the first movie Sophie watches with Annie is Gaslight.

I wanted Sophie’s wardrobe and wouldn’t have said no to her home cooking but wasn’t a fan of her. To be fair, she does want Bruce to win in Jaws so she can’t be all bad, but I don’t know if I can trust someone who hates unicorns. I’m all for having the confidence to be who you truly are but if claiming your power results in an entire township being terrified of you, then that cheapens it for me.

My favourite character, Ralph, had no lines but he made up for it in personality. I’m a sucker for spiders who can pull off wearing a top hat, especially when they also have a great smile.

Overall, this was a lighter read than I was expecting but that’s not to say there weren’t some memorable lines:

My insecurity returns like a villain in a sequel. The same but worse.

I embrace the next morning with all the enthusiasm of a goat entering Jurassic Park.

Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with some scenes.

NOW LEAVING ROWAN. KEEP OUR SECRET.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Titan Books for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

All her life, Annie has played it nice and safe. After being unceremoniously dumped by her long-time boyfriend, Annie seeks a fresh start. She accepts a teaching job that moves her from Manhattan to a small village upstate. Her new home is picturesque and perfect. The people are all friendly and warm. Her new apartment is lovely too, minus the oddly persistent spider infestation.

Then Annie meets Sophie. Beautiful, charming, magnetic Sophie, who takes a special interest in Annie, who wants to be her friend. More importantly, she wants Annie to stop apologising and start living for herself. That’s how Sophie lives. Annie can’t help but gravitate toward the self-possessed Sophie, wanting to spend more and more time with her, despite the fact that the rest of the town seems… a little afraid of her. And, okay. Sophie’s appearance is uncanny and ageless, her mansion in the middle of the woods feels a little unearthly, and she does seem to wield a certain power… but she couldn’t be… could she?

The Girl in the Green Dress – Jeni Haynes & George Blair-West

With Alley Pascoe

Four years of police interviews, 900,000 words in victim statements, endless therapy sessions, a lifetime of pain

I thought I was going to tell you that this is one of the best books I’ve read about mental health and sexual assault but, while that’s accurate, it falls short of what I really want to say. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. One of the most painful and difficult to read, sure, but absolutely one of the best.

I’ve read about Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder (MPD/DID) before so I thought I already knew the basics and I guess I did. Before this book, though, I’d never truly appreciated how incredible people with MPD/DID are.

There are three factors that typically cause DID: the experience of the most extreme forms of abuse, usually extending over many years; this abuse is perpetrated by caregivers, typically parents, that the child relies upon; and it begins while the child’s mind is young, or plastic, enough, to employ high-level dissociative strategies.

The fact that such unimaginably horrific abuse is perpetrated on young children by people they should be able to trust to protect them is mind-boggling. That the brain is able to develop such a highly developed coping strategy to survive abuse of this magnitude is awe-inspiring.

Told by Jeni, some of her alters and their psychiatrist, Dr George Blair-West, this is the most comprehensive account of MPD/DID you are likely to ever read. Jeni has Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM) so is able to recall, in detail, her experiences from when she was an infant.

MPD/DID is a response to being a victim of extreme criminal acts.

Because so much of what Symphony and the alters she created have experienced is more brutal than anything you’ll likely see in your worst nightmare, this isn’t a book you’ll want to binge. You’ll need time out to take care of yourself: go for a walk, remember that the world still holds beauty, remind yourself that Jeni, against all odds, is okay.

I really appreciated the care shown by both the publisher and Dr Blair-West, warning readers of the potential impacts of reading this book before you’ve even begun. A couple of times Jeni warns you that the content you’re about to read is even more difficult than what you’ve encountered to that point, giving you the option to skip that section.

While I read those parts, I was grateful for the warnings so I could prepare myself as best I could. At the same time, though, the fact that Jeni and her alters spent their entire childhood protecting her mother and siblings and is now taking steps to protect readers both touched and saddened me. No one protected Jeni from the torture she experienced, yet she cares enough about people she’ll likely never meet to want to make sure they’re okay.

Jeni even protects the reader by not including all of the details of the unrelenting abuse she was subjected to. Her police statement, at 900,000 words, didn’t even cover everything that happened to her. For context, that’s significantly longer than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Jennifer Margaret Linda was the original birth child, with Symphony taking her place when she was six months old. Symphony then created the alters. In this book we hear from Jennifer Margaret Linda, Symphony, Erik, Little Ricky, The Rulebook, The Assassin, Jenny, Linda, Muscles, Captain Busby, Janet, Squadron Captain, Amber, Judas, Happy, Zombie Girl, Magsy, The Joker, Maggot, Volcano, The Student, Ed the Head, Charlotte, Gabrielle, Mr Flamboyant, Jeni and The Entity Currently Known as Jeni.

That Jeni even survived her childhood is a testament to how incredibly well her system works. The fact that she’s able to function and is even surthriving is remarkable.

Life should be about thriving as we find meaning and purpose – hence the idea of rising above to ‘surthrive’.

Everyone who works in a helping profession should read this book. Jeni’s case was the first to use a diagnosis of MPD/DID for the prosecution, not the defence, paving the way for other survivors of extreme abuse to seek justice. This book, because of the openness of the alters who contributed to it, will provide much needed insights, so hopefully others with MPD/DID won’t be failed by the people who should be helping them the way Jeni was.

My abuse didn’t happen in a vacuum. It happened before a school fete, behind the closed doors of my father’s respectability.

I’ve spoken a lot about Jeni and her alters but I need to point out that I found the insights Dr Blair-West gives in this book so helpful. He has the ability to take something that’s complex and explain it in a way that makes it feel like it’s not complex at all. I’ve read a lot about PTSD, dissociation and the way the brain manages trauma but Dr Blair-West’s explanations have given me a much better understanding of them.

To Jeni, Symphony, the alters who contributed to this book and those I haven’t met: Thank you for telling your story. I feel honoured to have been introduced to so many of you. I can only imagine how traumatic it was to revisit these experiences in order to write about them. Your story means more to me than you’ll ever know. You are brave and resilient and I’m in awe of you. You are truly extraordinary.

Content warnings include death by suicide, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, mental health, miscarriage, neglect, physical abuse, sexual assault, suicidal ideation and torture.

Thank you so much to Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

‘I didn’t know that you’re only supposed to have one personality. I didn’t realise that having lots of voices in your head was abnormal. But you are protecting yourself. You are protecting your soul, and that’s what I did.’

An intelligent, poised woman, Jeni Haynes sat in court and listened as the man who had abused her from birth, a man who should have been her protector, a man who tortured and terrified her, was jailed for a non-parole period of 33 years. The man was her father.

The abuse that began when Jeni was only a baby is unimaginable to most. It was physically, psychologically and emotionally sadistic and never-ending. The fact she survived may be called a miracle by some – but the reality is, it is testament to the extraordinary strength of Jeni’s mind.

What saved her was the process of dissociation – Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) – a defence mechanism that saw Jeni create over 2500 separate personalities, or alters, who protected her as best they could from the trauma. This army of alters included four-year-old Symphony, teenage motorcycle-loving Muscles, elegant Linda, forthright Judas and eight-year-old Ricky.

With her army, the support of her psychiatrist Dr George Blair-West, and a police officer’s belief in her, Jeni fought to create a life for herself and bring her father to justice. In a history-making ruling, Jeni’s alters were empowered to give evidence in court. In speaking out, Jeni’s courage would see many understand MPD for the first time.

The Girl in the Green Dress is an unforgettable memoir from a woman who refused to be silenced. Jeni Haynes is an inspiration and her bravery and determination to live is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. This is a unique and profoundly important book as it is not only a story of survival, it also includes incredible insight from Dr George Blair-West, Jeni’s psychiatrist and an expert in DID.

Waiting on Mr. Sloth – Katy Hudson

Sasha Patience Pruitt and Mr. Sloth are best friends. In Mindful Mr. Sloth, Sasha learned that if you live your life on fast forward you’ll miss out on the beauty that can be only been appreciated at a slower pace.

Still not one to live up to her middle name, Sasha wants to go swimming and she wants to go NOW! First, Mr. Sloth takes much too long to get ready. Then one thing after another delays their swim. Eventually it all becomes too much for Sasha.

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Sasha finally gets to go swimming but it turns out it isn’t as much fun without her best friend.

I love Mr. Sloth. He’s never in a hurry and he’s a master of mindfulness.

Throughout the story readers see Sasha and Mr. Sloth using different strategies to try to remain calm. These are reinforced at the end of the book, with a list of practical suggestions for when you’re feeling frustrated.

As I’ve come to expect from Katy Hudson’s books, the illustrations are gorgeous. Mr. Sloth is adorable and Sasha is very expressive.

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and Capstone Editions, an imprint of Capstone, for the opportunity to read this picture book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The sun is out. The temperature is hot. And Sasha has everything packed and ready for a full day of swimming! But Mr. Sloth is taking for-eh-ver! Sasha does NOT like to wait. However, her best friend is never in a hurry. Will Sasha learn to be patient, or will her quick temper ruin a memorable summer outing?

Library Girl – Karen Henry Clark

Illustrations – Sheryl Murray

When she was a child, Nancy was teased about her love of reading. The school library was her favourite place and when she learned about the existence of the public library, entire worlds opened up to her. She devoured everything she could, starting with books about horses.

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With some encouragement from the librarians, Nancy stepped outside of her comfort zone, giving a talk about horses at the library. This is how Nancy found both her confidence and her calling.

Once challenged to write a six-word memoir, Nancy wrote: “Girl discovers books, then discovers life.”

And what a life it’s been. Nancy has won awards and written books. She even has her very own action figure !

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Nancy’s story speaks to the magic that exists in libraries and the superpowers librarians have to change lives.

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More bookish superheroes need action figures.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Little Bigfoot, an imprint of Sasquatch Books, for the opportunity to read this picture book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Library Girl is the inspiring childhood story of how beloved librarian, author, and Seattle icon, Nancy Pearl discovered her strengths and realised her passion. It is a loving tribute to the power books and librarians have to transform children’s lives.

Nancy Pearl loved books and spent so much time in her school library that her grade school classmates teased her, calling her “library girl.” When she discovers her neighbourhood public library is open on Saturday, she begins the adventure of her lifetime. There, an inspiring librarian recognises her abilities, recommends books that ignite her vivid imagination, and provides experiences to bolster her burgeoning self-confidence. As she loses herself in the books she finds herself in their pages and comes to recognise her strengths. Her self-discovery brings a realisation at a young age that she wants to become a librarian so she can help children discover their dreams. 

This young girl, Nancy Pearl, grows up to become “America’s Most Celebrated Librarian,” devoting her life to talking about books up and down library aisles, on radio and television, at conferences and colleges around the world. Ultimately, she authors books about books, believing that reading allows people to find dreams of their own … with the turn of every page.

The Dangerous Business of Being Trilby Moffat – Kate Temple

‘Excuse me, but are you going to try and murder me, again?’

A Dream Sickness is sweeping the land. Those afflicted suddenly speak in ancient languages and bake strange cakes. This all sounds very fascinating and delicious until someone hands you a flamingo-tongue pie.

As the illness progresses, the time for showing off their new old skills diminishes as they begin to sleep. And then sleep some more.

Trilby’s mother now has the ability to recreate ancient Egyptian hairstyles. When she’s not sleeping, that is.

Trilby’s quest for a way to help her mother leads her to Lost in Time Antiques at Nowhere Else Pier. Before long Trilby becomes the Time Keeper, travels to the Island Between Time, finds the Passage of Time and experiences both lots of time and no time at all. It’s actually all very timely.

During her quirky, unusual, unconventional, out of the ordinary travels, “reasonably nice” Trilby meets the Time Guild and bureaucrats from the Office of the Ministry of the Board of the Department of the Appropriate Division for the Committee of the Commission for the Corporation of the Agency of Association for Managers Administering Time. I’m pretty sure the pencil-pusher responsible for the unpronounceable acronym that allegedly shortens this title also named the departments at my previous workplace.

I really liked Thumbelina and the narrator, but my favourite character was shut up Brian. I definitely want to spend more outside of time with him.

Trilby’s love of crosswords is reflected in the chapter headings and I loved playing along. Handy hint: If you’re stuck, you may find the answer as you read the chapter. Although sometimes you won’t because … reasons. No, I’m not going to tell you. You can figure it out for yourself. My apologies; I must have been spending too much time around the rude cats.

There’s only one niggle my brain is still trying to work out: if time doesn’t pass on the Island Between Time, how does day become night?

When you finish reading this book please feel free to join me at the edge of the cliff I’m currently hanging onto. The first in a series, this book introduces the characters and the world, explains how time does and doesn’t work here and answers some of the questions it raises.

There’s still plenty of fun, entertainment, enjoyment, delight to look forward to. I’ll definitely be accepting my invitation to join Trilby and her new friends when they continue their adventure.

You are never as trapped as a man in a top hat would have you believe.

And there’s always time for cake.

Thank you so much to Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

This is NOT just any old book. THIS is a legal document. It contains a truthful record of how Trilby Moffat was accidentally promoted to the most important job that ever existed. The job of Time Keeper.

A mystery illness is making people bake ancient cakes, speak dead languages and then fall asleep and never wake up. When Trilby Moffat’s mother catches this strange sickness, Trilby must find her only other surviving relative, a 300-year-old aunt who lives in a secret antique shop on the edge of time.

Ahead of Trilby lies an unusual inheritance, an opportunity that will never be repeated and a man in a top hat who will try to kill her … more than once.

This is the story of how one ordinary girl finds herself on a deliciously fast-paced adventure, fleeing to an island where time doesn’t exist, cats are particularly rude and cake is always on the menu. Here she will take on the most treacherous job of all time. Well … outside of time, to be precise.