REVIEW: The Naughtiest Reindeer Goes South by Nicki Greenberg

Published: 28th September 2016

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 32

Format: Hardcover Picture book (borrowed from the Library)

RRP: $19.99

4/5 Stars

“I’m zippy! I’m snappy! I’m raring to go-” “You’re NAUGHTY,” said Rudolf, “the answer is NO.”

If only Mrs Claus had listened! Letting Ruby lead the sleigh is a recipe for disaster. Ruby’s wild ride lands her in a world of trouble, and very far from home. Poor Ruby is stranded, the presents are scattered… and the local penguins are very, very grumpy. How can the naughtiest reindeer avert a Christmas disaster this time?

Another hilarious adventure featuring everyone’s favourite irrepressible reindeer.’

The first thing that drew me to this particular book was the cover. It’s bright, colourful and so inviting that I simply had to stop and borrow it from the library to feature in the 2019’s Christmas picture books.

One Christmas, Ruby, Rudolph’s younger sister wants to lead Santa’s Sleigh. After getting into a physical fight with her brother, she is reluctantly invited along on the condition that she behaves, for Ruby is the naughtiest reindeer the North Pole has ever seen. Together the Reindeer and Santa set out on a long night of deliveries only for everything to go drastically wrong when Ruby sends the sleigh into a capsize dive. With presents, and Ruby herself lost and stranded in the South Pole, how will Santa manage to deliver presents to children all over the world in time?

There is no doubt in mind that Australian author and illustrator Nicki Greenberg has one of the most imaginative and creative minds there is. She has taken the traditional night before Christmas story (and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) and turned it on its head with the addition of Ruby the Reindeer and her hairbrained schemes.

The Naughtiest Reindeer is quirky and a whole lot of fun. While the text will soothe little ones worry about what happens if Santa has an accident or if a Reindeer takes a wrong turn, the images will keep them occupied until the very last page. Greenberg’s story is also uniquely educational as she seeks to inform young children about the differences between the North and South Pole and the various animals you would encounter at both.

All in all, The Naughtiest Reindeer is sure to be a fan-favourite come Christmas time. With bright and imaginative full-page illustrations, and a catchy rhyme,  readers of all ages will be quickly drawn into the world Nicki Greenberg has presented.

To purchase a copy of The Naughtiest Reindeer Goes South, visit the following online retailers:

Allen & Unwin | Amazon US | Angus & Robertson | Barnes & NobleBooktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks | QBD

To learn more about Nicki Greenberg, visit the following social media pages:

Nicki Greenberg’s website | Instagram 


REVIEW: Naughty or Nice by Lauren K McKellar


Published: 12th October 2019

Publisher: Escape Publishing

Pages: 70

Format: Ebook (courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley)

RRP: $1.99

3/5 Stars

One promotion, two dedicated employees, one very inconvenient attraction…

Claire Roberts wants one thing this Christmas: to land the big promotion at work and finally shake free of the office gossip that haunts her. What she doesn’t need is more competition, especially from a man who is nothing but trouble.

Hamish Christianson’s Christmas wish is to get that same promotion so he can support those he loves. What he doesn’t need is for his ‘nice guy’ personality to get in the way, or even worse, to fall for his biggest rival.

With everything on the line, will Hamish and Claire discover what it truly means to win? Or will their naughty games ruin everything?

A delightful holiday novella from our favourite Australian storyteller Lauren K McKellar.

I’m a long time fan and reader of Lauren K. Mckellar’s work, so when I stumbled across this title accidentally on Netgalley, I thought Christmas had come early.

Naughty or Nice is a short and sweet Christmas novella that is the perfect quick read this busy holiday season. The narrative itself is a mix of feel-good-vibes and drama-angsty, making it a little bit fun, a little bit sexy, and a little bit too dramatic for the length. All in all, it’s a fun, and mostly light read that is sure to get you in the Christmas mood this festive season.

The main story revolves around two colleagues who have instant chemistry and feelings for the other, but due to personal reasons, are having trouble acting on them. When the pair are thrown into the chaos of office politics, Christmas work parties, Secret Santas and the intense pressure of vying for the same promotion, their worlds are irrevocably turned upside down.  Amid all the pressures of everyday life and work, can Hamish and Claire find their happy ever after? You’ll have to read the book to see 🙂

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REVIEW: Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood

Published: 2nd July 2018

Publisher: University of Queensland Press

Pages: 125

Format: Paperback (borrowed from the library

RRP: $14.95

3.5/5 Stars

What if you had one week left to say goodbye to everything you’d ever known?

Toby and his mum and dad are leaving their family farm after the death of Toby’s younger sister, Leah. Together, they sort through all their belongings and put things aside to sell or throw out. It’s a big task, and Toby doesn’t want to leave the only place he’s called home. 

As his last day on the farm approaches, Toby has a plan – a plan to say goodbye to all the things and places that mean something special to him and Leah, from the machinery shed and Pa’s old truck to the chook house. With the help of his best friend, Trigger the dog, he learns what it means to take your leave.


I don’t understand how we can leave

this farm. I don’t.

But I’m trying.

Funny, suddenly there are lots

of things I don’t understand. 

Leaving Taking by Lorraine Marwood is not your typical middle-grade novel. Told through free verse poetry, Marwood has captured the very essence of what it feels like to be leaving the only place you’ve called home, to lose a loved one and to reconcile that leaving the place full of memories with them doesn’t mean you leave them behind.

All my saness

for Leah is turning me into a stranger.

I cried reading this novel. We know right from the blurb that Toby’s family are struggling in the wake of his sister’s passing to cancer. We know they are selling the family farm that’s been in their family for generations because their family needs a fresh start, and yet somehow Marwood is able to take the reader on such a ride that your heart breaks for Toby and his family.

That helped a lot. 

But there is so much

inside me that hurts,

so doing this map of goodbye

makes me feel

a bit more like the Toby

I was when I was a big brother.

Marwood’s writing is spare, but tender and poignant taking the reader on an emotional rollercoaster as we follow Toby around his family farm on his ‘top-secret’ mission to say goodbye to everything he has ever known. With Trigger, his faithful dog is by his side, Toby teaches the reader about a farmer’s day-to-day life, breaking down the chores and dangers (brown snake in the machinery shed) into relateable bite-sized pieces. Through his first-hand account, we see a farm through three generations (his dad and Toby’s Grandpa feature heavily in this story) and what it takes to call it quits on a long-running family farm and how intertwined your life is with the land, animals and the everyday activities.

‘None of us want to forget Leah, 

and wish she was here

every single moment 

of every day.

We can’t bring her back,

but we can live for her.’

Leave Taking is a poignant story about grief and what it means to move on, both physically, but emotionally. It’s a story recommended for readers age 7/8 plus years of age and is a great introduction to big concepts of change, grief and losing a loved one.

To purchase a copy of Leave Taking, visit the following online retailers:

Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD

To learn more about Lorraine Marwood, visit the following social media sites:

Lorraine Marwood’s Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook 


REVIEW: Bouncing Back – An Eastern Barred Bandicoot Story by Rohan Cleave and illustrated by Coral Tulloch

Published: 1st April 2018

Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback picture book (borrowed from the library)

RRP: $24.95

5/5 Stars

A beautifully illustrated story of this marsupial’s plight and how it was saved from extinction.

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot is one of Australia’s most threatened species. When their existence came under extreme threat from habitat loss, predators and human development, Eastern Barred Bandicoots found refuge in the most unlikely of places – a garbage dump. This captivating true story details the plight these small, nocturnal marsupials faced, and the outstanding efforts that ensured their protection. Written by Rohan Cleave and illustrated by Coral Tulloch, Bouncing Backshows that even on the brink of extinction, there is hope for the survival of our most vulnerable species.

Rohan Cleave and Coral Tulloch’s first book, Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect, won a Whitley Award for Children’s Natural History Book and was an Honour Book in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Awards (Eve Pownall Information Book category).

Bouncing Back: An Eastern Bandicoot Story by Melbourne zookeeper Rohan Cleave and illustrated by Coral Tulloch, is a non-fiction picture book seeking to educate its readers about the Eastern Barred Bandicoot and the environmental issues/dangers it’s currently facing as an Australian endangered species thanks to deforestation, urban developments, introduced predators and pollution.

This book is quite frankly fascinating. Narrated as though the Eastern Barred Bandicoot itself was talking to you about its various attributes, habitats and facts, the narrative is riveting and quirky, but at the same time, absolutely devastating. With only two natural areas for habitation in the world – Victoria and Tasmania – the Eastern Barred Bandicoot was fast approaching the very real danger of extinction. They had all but vanished from Victoria all together; the last known habitat for them there was a garbage dump prior to intervention from environmental conservation teams! Continue reading

REVIEW: Noni the Pony Rescues A Joey by Alison Lester

Published: 11th June 2019

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 24

Format: Hardback Picture Book (borrowed from the Library)

RRP: $24.99

4/5 Stars

Noni the Pony and her friends help a lost wallaby joey find his family in this jaunty follow-up to Noni the Pony and Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach.

Noni the Pony and her friends Dave Dog and Coco the Cat are headed out to spend the day roaming the hills near Waratah Bay. But then they meet a lost wallaby joey who needs help finding his family. So Noni, Dave, and Coco ask all of their animal friends, from koala to wombat to possum, if anyone has seen the wallaby family. Will they be able to help their new friend find his way home?

Best selling Australian author and illustrator Alison Lester is back, with her third book in the Noni the Pony series, Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey.

Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey is a sweet and simple tale about a lost joey looking his family, and the various Australian animals Noni the pony, Dave the Dog and Coco the Cat find along the way while looking for Joe the Joeys’ family.

I’m ashamed to admit here, that I’ve never read Noni the Pony or Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach before, but after devouring the new Noni the Pony Rescues A Joey, I will be rectifying that quick smart.

Allison Lester’s narrative is simple, sweet and to the point. As our gang of animals undertake their adventure, we are introduced to a variety of Australian animals in their natural habitat. Each animal is introduced with an accompanying piece of information about their personalities (shy platypus etc) or their chosen habitat (sleeping koala high in the trees).  The text is presented in rhyme with no more than two sentences on each page. The font size is large and the language simple, making it perfect for children learning to read to recognise letters and words, and hopefully read along with their parent.

Lester’s illustrations are iconic. Featuring thick bold outlines, her realistic cartoon style shapes the character of the book. Switching between full-colour pages and the occasional white background, Lester makes sure her words and intent are not only clear and concise but working in perfect harmony with the illustrations and overall presentation of the narrative.

Noni the Pony Rescues A Joey is a brilliant early childhood picture book, ideals for children aged one to four years old. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to add to their child’s book collection or as a baby shower/first birthday present. It would also make an ideal gift for readers from overseas thanks to the simple introductions to our Australian fauna and flora.

Note: Noni the Pony Rescues A Joey was awarded the 2019 CBCA Book of the year: Early Childhood award.


To purchase a copy of Noni the Pony Rescues A Joey, visit the following online retailers:

Allen & Unwin Australia | Amazon AUS | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks | QBD

Alison Lester’s Website | Facebook |

To learn more about Alison Lester, visit the following social media sites:

Alison Lester’s Website | Facebook |

REVIEW: The Roadhouse by Kerry McGinnis

Published: 2nd July 2019

Publisher: Michael Joseph, an imprint of Penguin Random House Australia


Format: paperback (courtesy of the publisher for review)

RRP: $32.99

When aspiring actress Charlie Carver learns that her cousin Annabelle has died, she immediately leaves Melbourne to fly home to the remote family roadhouse east of Alice Springs. It has been years since her last visit and her relationship with her mother, Molly, is strained but Charlie is determined to patch up their differences.

The reunion, however, is interrupted when Molly suffers a heart attack. With her mother airlifted out for life-saving surgery, Charlie is left to take the reins of the struggling family business, alongside friends old and new, including the captivating local stockman Mike.

The authorities declare Annabelle to have taken her own life, but when a woman’s body turns up at an abandoned mine site, Charlie begins to wonder what else is being covered up, and why.

Beginning a search for the truth, a perilous bush chase unfolds that threatens her own life, causing Charlie to wonder whether she ever knew Annabelle at all …

From the bestselling author of The Heartwood Hotel comes the suspenseful new outback mystery from Australia’s authentic rural writer and beloved voice of the bush.

The Roadhouseby Kerry McGinnis was a book that surprised me. I’ve read a few of Kerry McGinnis’ backlist by now, and I naively thought I knew what I was getting myself into with this novel. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There is a lot to unpack in McGinnis’ 2019 new release, The Roadhouse. I could seriously talk your ear off about: how expert the writing is; how full of life and delightfully flawed her characters are; how familiar and foreign the isolated setting is; and how bloody Australian the book is.  I couldn’t get enough of any of it as I raced through the books 329 pages, anxiously trying to guess outcomes and wishing for a Happily Ever After (HEA) for poor Charlie.

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Waiting On Wednesday: ‘Styx & Stones’ by Carmen Jenner


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

Is it September yet? This new book from Carmen Jenner is going to be epic and I can’t wait to get stuck into it … with a box of tissues, chocolates and perhaps some alcohol on hand of course!


Published by: Self Published

Expected Publication: 3rd September 2019

Cancer sucks … and then you die.

Alaska Stone is a walking wet dream.

My wet dream.

For years, I’ve watched her in the halls, wanted her, but she never knew I existed.

Not until she walked into my chemo session.

For me, it was love at first sight.

For her? It might take a little longer.

But hey, it’s not like we’re on a deadline or anything.


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