Friday the 13th #1: Church of the Divine Psychopath – Scott Phillips

Welcome to Camp Crystal Lake: Blasphemy Edition 

Father Eric Long has had a revelation. The time has come for sinners to be judged by the Heavenly Vessel, A.K.A., Jason Voorhees. 

“Big guy. Hockey mask. Has issues?” 

The one and the same. 

The Ministry of the Heavenly Vessel are going on a road trip because it turns out that Father Long isn’t alone in his delusion. Like all good cult leaders, Long has managed to convince his entire flock to sell all of their worldly possessions and hand the proceeds to him. They’ve secured the lease to Camp Crystal Lake and the entire congregation are moving in. 

It’s not like the Father’s going to let a little thing like the fact that Jason is currently fish food prevent him from carrying out his mission. After retrieving a soggy Jason from the depths of Crystal Lake and nailing him to a cross (twice), freaky Father sets out to resurrect him. Jason’s going to church! What could go wrong?! 

Meanwhile, a strike team from the Agency, a covert branch of the government, are also making their way to Crystal Lake. Because what this situation desperately needs is more firepower. Besides the arsenal that the churchies apparently brought with them, that is. 

“I saw this in a horror movie once” 

A church, a strike team and Jason Voorhees converging on Camp Crystal Lake may sound like the beginning of a really bad joke but what it actually is is a recipe for a really big body count. I’m guessing that this “God-sanctioned Jason Voorhees bloodbath” takes place on Friday the 13th but no one ever showed me a calendar.

So, who are the victims this time around? This “salad bar of murderous possibilities” consists mostly of the strike team and church members. 

“Straight to hell for you.” 

It’s hard to figure out the exact body count but we’re talking more than fifty.

The people start dying in the prologue but these kills happen before the events of this book so I’m not counting those.

There’s a strike team mission prior to Mission Hockey Mask where a couple of strike team members stop breathing and all but two of the baddies have the kind of bad day that prevents you from having any other kind of day ever, but we don’t know how many there were to start off with.

The strike team members, some of who appear to be most content when they’re busy fighting amongst themselves, are lining up to die.

* Jeff Townsend – the six foot six leader of this suicide mission. He’s probably going to go down with the metaphorical ship.
* Walter Hobb – he’s five foot six, has soap opera looks and he’s recently suffered a serious case of demotion. He can’t see so well out of one of his eyes as a result of the mission that put him in the bad books but he’s a main character so he might just get to go home to his wife, Lauren. Lauren is pretty peeved that Hobb signed up for Operation Suicide By Jason. She runs a used bookstore, though, so she’s definitely going to survive. Not even Jason is going to lay a machete on someone who takes such good care of books.
* Samantha Noon – she’s 20 and a total badass. But… she has sex during the book and anyone who ever took Horror 101 knows that’s a death sentence.
* Chris Seaver – Townsend’s second in command for this mission. He also has sex, with Noon. Nice knowing you, Chris.
* Benjamin Hurley – he’s given a first name but I don’t remember hearing anything that could be accused of being a backstory. That doesn’t bode well for him.
* Bruno Ortega – he’s a pervert. Enough said.
* Acheson – he’s relaxed enough to leave his gun outside of reaching distance while he wanders around in the lake. Seriously, Acheson?
* Moseley – he’s a medic so he’s got to survive long enough to try to put intestines back inside bodies, right?
* Lovinger – this guy loves Burt Reynolds movies. Make of that what you will.
* Stilton, Blair, Leonard, Sisson, Garb, Connolly, Howard, Chaffin, Marr – the author didn’t care enough about these dead men walking to give them first names.
* Hurley, Miller, Hall – these men don’t get names until their death scenes. This may be a clue.

Then there are the true believers who, after the initial slaughter, get together for a cuppa. As you do. 

“Trouble has found its way to our little ministry.” 

* Father Eric Long – he’s the reason we’re in this mess to begin with. The way he spiritually guides three widows is beyond creepy.
* Kelly Mills – although she’s only 26, Kelly has a backstory. She doesn’t believe in God but she does believe in Long. Well, she wants to get in his pants, anyway. 
* Curtis Rickles – this former marine is the most detestable waste of oxygen you’ll find in this book. When he’s not shooting people, he’s busy sexually assaulting a minor. He needs to die a really drawn out, creative death.
* Don James – one of the Father’s inner circle, Don’s a biker with tattoos he probably got in jail.
* Meredith Host – 17 year old Meredith is at Crystal Lake with her parents, who are in their 60’s. Kelly is her best (only?) friend. That’s not to say this virgin doesn’t have lust in her heart.
* Roger (or Robert) – okay, so we don’t even know for sure what this man’s name is. That’s not a good sign.
* Denice Keenan, Jennifer Crenshaw, Lorelei Picardi, Charlotte Rutherford – these women share a cabin with Kelly, one of our main characters. These women may need to be sacrificed for the greater good if Jason wanders in. Especially Denice. She chose the bottom bunk so she’s more accessible.
* Travis Hornby, John Sullivan, Mark Brody, Susan Perkins, Susanna Brookwalter – yeah, I don’t know enough about these people to ensure their survival.
* Patricia Krenkle and Manny Krenkle, Mr and Mrs Host – do we know what Jason’s views are on marriage?
* Stan – I feel like there was a Stan but now I’m not so sure. 
* Ronald Shearing, Joseph Bookwalter – we know they existed only because we know they died.

Eleanor, Steve and Frenchie never leave Lefty’s so unless Jason’s feeling a bit parched, they’re probably okay. Sonia, the waitress, will probably make it as well. 

There’s an unnamed farmer driving a chicken truck in the general vicinity but he’s smart enough to keep driving so I’m fairly certain he’s going to keep breathing until at least the next time Friday the 13th rolls around.

This book reconfirms why this place is known as Camp Blood. The insides are now your outsides action is fairly consistent, once you get through the extensive backstories of a couple of contenders.

After the prologue, Jason doesn’t even get to kill anyone until page 172. His first kill is probably his best, although the next three are pretty decent as well. I came for machete slicing and dicing and Jason squishing heads like watermelons. Jason got a bit lazy in this book, primarily introducing people to his machete. Some kills only warranted a sentence and others happened off the page.

Rivalling Jason’s machete in the body count are guns. There are also five funerals we need to attend for people whose COD will need to be determined by a coroner because, while I’m guessing they were shot or met explodey ends as a result of a grenade, I don’t know for sure.

The rules that govern who should die in Jason’s world were pretty much thrown out the window in this book. The pure and hell bound were both fair game.

The person I most wanted to die did but their manner of death didn’t live up to my hopes. It needed to be less generic and much more painful and dramatic.

I wondered how much gunfire Jason could take. Hundreds of bullets didn’t slow him down at all. Speaking of not slowing down, honouring his ability to walk faster than his victims can run, Jason somehow managed to make a return trip to somewhere that takes half an hour to drive to in record time.

Handy hint: When the leader of your church starts citing Waco to guide you through current events, you may be in a cult.

Best description

Blood shot skywards like a gory lawn sprinkler. 

Content warnings include sexual assault. Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with a couple of scenes.

Next Friday the 13th readHell Lake, where an executed serial killer meets Jason in hell.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The first in a brand new series of Friday the 13th shockers! Jason Voorhees is reanimated and worshipped by a bizarre religious cult. When a SWAT team is called in, it’s time for Jason to go about his bloody work and wages a one-man war against both sides.

Day of the Whale – Rachel Delahaye

Thirteen year old Cam and his mother live in Cetacea (pronounced Si-tay-sha), the part of Australia that survived the third flood. The residents of Cetacea worship Big Blue, whose words are interpreted by Byron Vos, the founder of Cetacea and the only person who can talk to whales. Together, Cam and his fellow Cetaceans are working to repair the damage people have done to the environment.

‘Look after the Earth and the Earth will look after you.’ 

The last words Cam’s father said to him before he left have become Cam’s mission. 

Follow Big Blue. Find the truth. 

Together with his new friends, Banjo (like the frog) and Petra, Cam begins to question the truths he’s grown up with. On the surface, Cetacea appears perfect but when you look a little closer you realise this utopian society may actually be a dystopia.

Cam and his friends are not encouraged to think for themselves. They’re expected to accept the status quo without question. 

Cam’s journey explores the bonds of family, the depths of grief and the value of friendship. You might think this book is about whales and you’d be right. Fundamentally, though, it is about asking questions. Being curious and seeking knowledge. Thinking for yourself rather than blindly accepting everything you see and hear as truth. 

‘Fill your head with questions,’ he advised. ‘Because if you don’t, someone else will fill it with lies.’ 

This story is unlike anything I’ve previously read by this author but I loved it. I really liked getting to know Cam and Banjo but it was Petra who stole my heart. She’s an individual, she’s a survivor and this girl has spunk.

I love it when names have meaning in books. In case you’re wondering, cetaceans are marine mammals; they include whales, dolphins and porpoises. The name given to the people who visited Arlo was especially appropriate.

As an Australian, I appreciated the inclusion of the local wildlife in this book, although I was saddened to learn that even if I made it safely to Cetacea, my home would be submerged.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be at the beach looking for cetaceans.

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

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

“Follow Big Blue”. These were the last words that Cam’s father said to him. So Cam follows Big Blue, the giant whale-god, as does everyone else on Cetacea, an island in the flooded future.

The islanders’ lives play out under Big Blue’s rules, which are communicated to them by the enigmatic whale-talker, Byron Vos. Byron was once a marine scientist and is now organising an epic clean-up operation to revive the ocean after centuries of human greed and neglect. 

But, as the story unfolds, Cam begins to wonder if all is not quite as it seems. Could there be a more complex truth behind Byron’s actions? A truth that may be connected to Cam’s father’s disappearance? 

Cam’s quest to understand life under Big Blue leads him to new friends and shared adventures – but the truth, when he discovers it, turns out to be far more dangerous than he ever could have imagined.

Zombie Diaries #1: Apocalypse Cow! – Guy Edmonds & Matt Zeremes

Illustrations – Jake A. Minton

The apocalypse is here and it’s udderly moo-nique!

Jimmy has just started keeping a diary and he couldn’t have begun documenting his life at a better time. He’s about to capture the lead up to the apocalypse but this is not the apocalypse anyone ordered. 

The adults have begun to feel a little under the weather. This leads to a bovine problem because the adults are all turning into cows!

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Jimmy, together with his friends Daisy and Hooey, need to figure out why the people in their town are transforming and try to avoid becoming Z-Cows themselves. Along the way, there will be bullies to avoid, action scenes and the Fortress of Hoo. 

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Then there’s the multitude of 80’s and 90’s pop culture references, which I absolutely loved. However, I did wonder if the target audience would understand most of them. My favourite movie reference was Edward Spoonfeet, which wouldn’t have been complete if not for the illustration of Edward.

Speaking of the illustrations, they were so a-moo-sing. The story itself was imaginative and fun but the illustrations amplified everything.

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The people were expressive, the cows were drooly, the action scenes were explosive and the pop culture references were brilliant.

The kids do figure out something important in this book but you’re going to need to come back for more if you want to find out why this all started in the first place and whether there will ever be adults that don’t moo in the town of Buttburgher again.

Yes, I did look up the website that was mentioned in the book. No, it doesn’t exist.

I’m definitely going to be looking out for the sequel.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Hi! I’m JIMMY and I’m living in a totally weird ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!

All of the adults in my town of Buttburgher have turned into zombies, but not the flesh-eating zombies like the ones you see in movies. These Zombies are COWS! Literally! Everyone is moo-ing and drooling all over the place! And if their drool gets on you, you’re toast. And not the nice sourdough toast from Horatio’s Bakery either.

Luckily, my friends and I have a plan to find a cure…

Friday Barnes #10: Undercover – R.A. Spratt

We catch up with Friday Barnes exactly where we left her at the end of No Escape, pondering a job offer that would allow her to work alongside Ian, her “super-hot, brilliant, emotionally unstable boyfriend”. It’s a big decision but first Friday needs to solve some mysteries. Besides, they’re a good cover story for running away. 

‘There’s nothing wrong with running away,’ said Melanie. ‘Not if you’re being chased by a bear or a chainsaw-wielding psychopath.’ 

Melanie’s brother, Binky, is in Norway. His girlfriend is a princess and the only way to make her father semi okay with their relationship was for Binky to sign up to serve two years in the Norwegian army. The only problem is, he might be getting kicked out of the army and if that happens, it’s goodbye Ingrid. 

What mystery does this involve? Dereliction of duty. See, Binky was on guard duty and it appeared he fell asleep on the job but he wasn’t actually asleep. He was knocked unconscious by a polar bear and no one will believe him. Friday thinks the polar bear was framed.

Friday is also busy solving the case of the missing clothes and the case of the missing artwork. 

‘I need you to do that thing where you crawl along the floor sniffing things, then stand up and patronise everyone for five minutes before revealing who did it.’ 

That doesn’t mean there’s no time for playing dress up and dancing. Luckily for Friday, she has an awkward-social-situation ejector button. It works sometimes.

Melanie still managed to snag her fair share of the best lines; when she was awake, that is. Binky just gets more and more adorable every time I see him. 

My favourite character in this book, though, was Arthur. Anyone who hides behind a curtain reading a book because there’s a social gathering going on is my kind of human being. 

‘You are a very strange boy,’ said Friday.
‘I know,’ said Arthur. ‘I try to hide it, but everyone sees right through me.’ 

Ten books in and I’m still loving this series. I can’t wait for the next one!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Friday is not running away. Yes, she did get on a train to Norway without telling anyone where she was going – but she had to help Binky. He may or may not have been attacked by a polar bear. Now he’s facing court martial for dereliction of duty. Obviously, Friday had to drop everything and travel 3000 kilometres to solve the case.

The fact that it’s easier to handle her feelings for Ian Wainscott if there’s a continent between them is just a coincidence. When Friday arrives in Oslo, there are so many mysteries to solve. Is someone trying to keep Binky and Princess Ingrid apart? How can a painting leave a museum when all the doors are sealed? And will Melanie persuade Friday to go to the royal ball without wearing a brown cardigan?

If Friday survives her trip to the remote Global Seed Vault, we may find out.

The Greatest Thing – Sarah Winifred Searle

In this semi-autobiographical graphic novel, Sarah Winifred Searle introduces us to Win. Their two best friends have enrolled at a new school so Win is starting the tenth grade alone. Fortunately for Win, they have art and it’s through their independent study with Mrs Fransson that they meet April and Oscar.

I found the struggles of all three characters relatable. This could have been quite a dark story and it does touch on some difficult topics, specifically those relating to sexuality, identity and body image.

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There’s an exploration of mental health and the feelings of being alone and not fitting in. 

I mean, I don’t belong here. I feel like I work so hard to keep afloat but no one sees or hears me. 

The friendship between Win, April and Oscar makes all the difference.

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Their friendship isn’t always easy and things don’t always work out as planned but their connection gave this story the injection of hope that it needed. The zine they worked on together, which is included in its entirety, was heartbreaking and beautiful. 

While I connected with some of what Win and April were struggling with, it was Oscar who stole my heart. I absolutely adored him. 

I wish I could hear the song Win and Oscar listen to. I loved the illustrations and the colour palette. 

Teenage me would have read this graphic novel so much that it would have disintegrated in my hands. Adult me is definitely keen for a reread.

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To see myself through your eyes, as I look to someone who loves me … it has simply been the greatest thing. 

Content warnings include biphobia, eating disorders, fatphobia, mental health and self harm.

Thank you so much to Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

It’s the first day of Grade Ten, and Winifred is going to reinvent herself. Now that her two best (and only) friends have transferred to a private school, Win must navigate high school on her own.

Luckily, she isn’t alone for long. In art class, she meets Oscar and April. They don’t look or act like the typical teenagers in her town: they’re creative, a little rebellious and seem comfortable in their own skin in a way that Win can only dream of. 

But even though Winifred is breaking out of her shell, there’s one secret she can’t bear to admit to April and Oscar, or even to herself – and this lie threatens everything.

Win needs to face her own truths, but she doesn’t need to do it alone. Through the healing power of clandestine sleepovers, op-shopping and zine publishing, Win finds and accepts what it means to be herself.

Sherlock Bones #3: Sherlock Bones and the Art and Science Alliance – Renée Treml

Bones, a skeletal tawny frogmouth, and Watts, a stuffed blue Indian ringneck parrot, are exhibits in the state Natural History Museum. Grace is a raccoon whose love of chocolate makes her exceedingly relatable. She’s also the only one of the three who needs to breathe. 

It’s a good thing we’ve visited them today because there’s a new mystery to solve. 

Really? A mystery? I love mysteries!

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There’s a new exhibit opening tomorrow called Art & Science Alliance and rumour has it that one of the paintings is haunted. Luckily, Bones, Watts and Grace are on the case. 

They’re going to need plenty of courage because apparently this ghost hisses. They may also need someone to help them pronounce ‘macabre’ and perhaps a dictionary so they can figure out what it means. They’re definitely going to need some chocolate (well, Grace and I do).

As usual, I loved the illustrations and accidental learning. I didn’t find this mystery as funny as the previous two but I did appreciate the inclusion of a drop bear in the new exhibit. 

Nivlac, who we met in Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature, used their very specific and entirely awesome skillset to assist our mystery solving trio.

I hadn’t thought this before but now I can’t think of anything else; Bones does kind of resemble a stick insect wearing a sombrero. 

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I’m looking forward to my next visit to the Natural History Museum. 

Thank you so much to Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The intrepid Sherlock Bones and his quietly funny sidekick, Watts, and their animal friends are back to sneak around the museum and solve any mysteries that come their way. Full of fun, friendship and fascinating facts, this fabulous graphic novel is perfect for young readers who love adventure, mystery and a little bit of mayhem.

Hi there, I’m Sherlock Bones – tawny frogmouth skeleton, chief sleuth and star of all museum-related investigations!

Today is an exciting day because the museum has a new exhibit – and a new mystery!

Together with my partners, the ever-brilliant Watts and talking bundle of fur Grace, I’m here to track down the ghost that’s destroying the museum.

You might not be able to hear Watts, because, technically, she’s a stuffed parrot, but I always know what she’s thinking.

And right now she’s thinking: Can we solve the mystery of the haunted painting?

The Champ! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Dave Atze

Twelve year old Summer absolutely adores sports! She wishes she was good at them like her older brother, Carl. Although she fantasises about leading her team to victory, the truth is that Summer doesn’t have a team. Despite her passion, she’s not good at any sport, so much so that she always seems to be picked last.

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All of a sudden, though, Summer is a sporting superstar. 

‘How did this happen?’ 

Well, remember the meteor that changed Amber’s life forever, the one that resulted in her becoming Skydragon? Well, if I’m not mistaken, that very same meteor made an appearance at Rockstone too. 

As Summer walked back to the house, she realised her body felt different, somehow. It was still her body, but it felt more flexible and powerful. 

The variety of effects the purple goop has had on people reminds me of the particle accelerator explosion at STAR Labs. I’m also wondering if there are more superheroes (and villains) in this world that we haven’t been introduced to yet. Summer begins to use her new skillset to become a superhero.

Of course, there’s no point having a superhero if they don’t have an archnemesis. It appears the grumpy librarian who is currently volunteering for this position is the Book Witch. You know she’s pure evil because her nefarious deeds extend to inflicting paper cuts! Now, we may want to boo at the witch because she uses books at weapons but at least she’s doing her part to stop the spread of COVID.

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That’s not to say that there isn’t going to be a shadowy government organisation on the Champ’s trail. 

Summer has a supportive and adorable best friend, Wilbur. We don’t see much of Wilbur in this book because he’s busy with choir rehearsals but I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s going to be getting some more page time as the series progresses. 

There’s a picture of him on the back cover and a sticker (this book has stickers!) showing him wearing a cape so I’m hoping he becomes the Champ’s sidekick. I’m also hoping he has a brilliant sidekick name like Ice cream Boy; the logo on his shirt has a picture of an ice cream cone and a B, and he’s wearing what looks to be an empty Neapolitan ice cream container on his head with cut outs for his eyes. I just know Wilbur is going to be my favourite character. 

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I enjoyed the illustrations, although there were a few that didn’t entirely line up with the details in the text, e.g., reference is made to four rubber bats but only three were pictured. 

The most interesting discrepancy to me, though, suggested a potential fun fact about the series. This is pure conspiracy theory at this point but I think Summer’s name wasn’t always going to be Summer. In two illustrations, this character’s name is shown and they say Katie, not Summer. 

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I’m curious to find out how Carl and Summer support themselves. I’m also wondering whether Summer is going to be sensitive to the impact her new skills are likely to have on her brother, especially considering what the meteor has taken from him. 

Thank you so much to Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Summer loves sport. She would love to charge down the field towards an open goal, or soar through the air over the basket. She would love to be part of a team. But instead she always seems to be the last one picked.

That is until the day her life changes forever… Until the day Summer becomes THE CHAMP.

But even the Champ will have her work cut out for her if she is going to keep her brother, her best friend and her whole town safe from the dastardly plans of the wicked Librarian…

Take a Breath – Sujean Rim

Sometimes something on your do to list starts climbing over all of the other somethings, eager to capture your attention. They think if they’re the loudest and can make you start to panic, you’ll set aside the dozen or so other things that are due first just to silence them. 

Sometimes when this happens, you might forget how important breathing is. But sometimes, just sometimes, life intervenes on your behalf. You pick up a book, look at the title and chuckle to yourself about the irony. This is that book.

Meet Bob, my new favourite feathered friend. Unlike the other birds, Bob can’t fly. Yet.

He doesn’t let being grounded get him down. He fills his time puzzling solutions to age old questions and getting to know the land dwelling locals. Bob also has good taste in music.

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I love Bob’s persistence and the creativity he applies to learning how to fly. Some of Bob’s more humorous attempts at taking flight involve a balloon, slingshot and springs.

Bob might be many things but, like most of us, he’s not immune to self doubt. What are some of the best things about Bob? He recognises when he needs help and is open to trying new things.

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Enter Crow, my other new favourite feathered friend. Crow empathises with Bob and is willing to share what helped them when they were in a similar situation. Crow is patient, kind and encouraging.

Bob and Crow teach (or remind) readers of the importance of mindfulness. By focusing on his breathing (sounds simple until you realise you’ve been either holding your breath or are on your way to hyperventilating), Bob is able to centre himself. 

The lessons in this book are easy to apply and realistic. A couple of really important things happen that make all the difference to Bob. Someone has cared enough to listen to his concerns and validated him, and the breathing technique Crow has taught him has quietened his mind and helped regulate his body. 

Do these things magically solve all of Bob’s problems? No, but he sure is in a better frame of mind to tackle them. 

Sometimes you just have to be grounded before you can fly. 

Thank you so much to Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read this picture book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

An anxious baby bird who fears he’ll never learn to fly gets a lesson in mindfulness in this funny and sweetly encouraging picture book about believing in yourself.

Every morning, the birds are flapping with excitement for their first flight of the day … except for Bob. Bob doesn’t get the whole flying thing; when the other baby birds go up, up, up, he goes down, down, down. Bob can’t help worrying … what if he never learns how to fly? 

His friend Crow tells him, “All you need to do is breathe, Bob.” Of course, Bob breathes all the time, but there’s breathing and then there’s B-R-E-A-T-H-I-N-G. And it might just be the thing to calm Bob’s ruffled feathers.

Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic – Paul Conti

In this book, Dr Conti explores what trauma is and how it works, the sociology of trauma, and how trauma impacts people physically and mentally.

I found the stories of people impacted by trauma interesting. They helped to illustrate points the author was making, although I often wished they were longer.

There were times I came across a topic I wanted to learn more about (like inflammation, the limbic system and epigenetics) but, because this book provides more of an overview than a deep dive, there’d only be a few paragraphs dedicated to it.

There were too many analogies for my liking and by the end of the book I wished I had counted the amount of times I’d read “compassion, community and humanity”.

If you’re looking for a book that offers an introduction to trauma, this may be the book for you. However, if you’re already well versed in trauma and its impacts, you may have already encountered much of the information covered here.

Content warnings include alcoholism, bullying, death by suicide (including the method used), domestic abuse, drug addiction, mental health, racism, sexual assault and war.

Thank you to NetGalley and Vermilion, an imprint of Ebury Publishing, Penguin Random House, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Trauma is everywhere and so many of us are silently affected by it. Stressful, challenging and frightening events can happen to anyone, at any age, leaving us feeling overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted. Left unchecked, difficult experiences can have a lasting psychological effect on our wellbeing.

In Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic, leading psychiatrist Dr Paul Conti sets out a unique set of tools anyone can access to help recognise the signs of trauma, heal from past hurt and find the road to recovery.

Drawing on the most recent scientific research, Dr Conti breaks down the topic into clear sections, looking at why trauma happens, how it manifests in the body and what we can do to move past it. In the book, you’ll discover the three different types of trauma you might face, as well as practical exercises and solutions for getting to the root of the problem.

This is an important, life-affirming book, one that invites you to empower yourself against trauma, own your life experiences and learn to thrive, not just survive, in the wake of life’s difficulties.

On Reckoning – Amy Remeikis

This is such a small book but it packs a punch. Tracing the political floundering that was evident from the Prime Minister’s initial response to Brittany Higgins’ allegation (I hate that word but … Australian defamation law, etc) that she was raped in Parliament House to the dismal response to those made against a senior minister of government, the rage is evident – and justified.

Sometimes you read a book that says many of the things you want to say, only better. This is one of them. I tried really hard to minimise the amount of quotes I wanted to include here but, as you’ll see, I failed miserably. 

I present to you the sentences I couldn’t leave behind: 

Lines were drawn between those who lived in the before time, and those who knew what the after felt like. 

Staying quiet can save your life, but eventually, all that quiet begins to scream. 

Your body can’t forget trauma. It holds the sights and the scents and the sounds deep in your tissue. 

We all know someone who has been sexually assaulted, or know of someone who has been, but we never seem to know the perpetrators. And yet, that’s statistically impossible. Someone is carrying out these assaults; someone is creating this trauma. 

There is every chance that someone in your everyday life is someone else’s monster. 

Anger can be destructive, but it can also be transformative. Used well, it can bring about a necessary clarity, stripping back all the frosting to what lies rotten underneath. 

Flight, fight, freeze and fawn, and everything in between, are completely legitimate responses to fear, and if you are having a fear response, you’re in an unsafe situation. 

In 2020, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reported that about 15,000 women came forward to report a sexual assault. Only 2 per cent – or about 300 – of those cases led to a guilty verdict in court.
And those were the ones that made it to court.
Commissioner Fuller himself reported that only about 10 per cent of the sexual assault allegations taken to NSW officers led to charges being laid. Of that 10 per cent taken to court, only 10 per cent would lead to a conviction. 

Not everyone can tell their story. And no-one has to. After everything else has been ripped away from you, your story is your own. Telling, not telling – none of it makes you any less brave, less worthy. Just putting one step in front of the other after all you’ve been through is more than enough. Your story belongs to no-one but you, and you don’t owe it to anyone to share. 

There’s no right way to do any of this. Remember that, and do what it is that works for you. 

Reckonings don’t come for free. It’s always been broken people, patched back together, who pay. And pay they do, to try to make sure those coming after them will never know what it costs. 

I only wish this book was longer.

Content warnings include domestic and family abuse, miscarriage and sexual assault.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

On Reckoning tells of the moment when the personal became very political, when rape became the national conversation.

What happens when the usual political tactics of deflect and dodge are no longer enough?

A reckoning.

The Guardian’s political reporter Amy Remeikis has spoken before about being a survivor of sexual assault, but Brittany Higgins going public with her story ripped the curtain back not just on political attempts to deal with real-world issues, but also how unsafe women can be, even inside the most protected building in the country.

Amy didn’t expect to see political leaders fumble the moment so completely. And what followed was people taking back the conversation from the politicians.

On Reckoning is a searing account of Amy’s personal and professional rage, taking you inside the parliament – and out – during one of the most confronting and uncomfortable conversations in recent memory.