Book reviews: Fathom website founders release, Star-crossed, Fusion

LOOKING for some travel hints, a light-hearted romance, or a family drama with a twist? These releases could be the next book on your reading list. TRAVEL ANYWHERE (AND AVOID BEING A TOURIST)


Jeralyn Gerba and Pavia Rosati

Hardie Grant Travel RRP £29.99 NEED some inspiration for your next trip?

Look no further. Want to get off the grid, whether by yourself or in a group? How about a monastery in Italy, a chalet in Alaska, or our own Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef in WA or the Bamurru Plains in the Top End.

Looking for a holiday where there is every excuse to eat? Look to California, England, or even the Jackalope Hotel in Merricks North, Victoria. Or maybe you want a holiday where you can give back at the same time?

Teach English in Haiti, help out on a floating hospital on the African coast, or help protect endangered species. This book covers both the paths well trodden and those that the authors predict are coming into their own. If where you stay is the most important part of your trip, there is an interesting section on various types of hotels, whether its architectural delights, boutiques or buildings that have had lives pre-accommodation.

The founders of travel website Fathom have packed this book with information, but it never feels overwhelming. But if you know the type of holiday you need, there'll be something to spark your curiosity. -- Hannah Driscoll



Minnie Darke Michael Joseph RRP £32.99

NEVER, never mess with the stars. Justine Carmichael bumps into an old friend Nick Jordan, for whom Justine has carried a torch since their teens. Nick is a big fan of her magazine's astrology column and even uses it to occasionally guide his decisions.

So when Justine is put in charge of contributions at the magazine she works for, including horoscopes, she decides to give Nick a little nudge by altering his star sign, Aquarius. Seems innocent enough. But what happens when he misinterprets the signs?

And Nick is not the only Aquarian who reads the horoscopes. Modern romantic comedy is not my usual novel choice, but I genuinely enjoyed this lighthearted love story. Then again, maybe it was due to identifying elements of Justine in myself, and my own recent experiences with the horoscopes -- although I can safely assure readers that I have never tampered with the weekly horoscopes for personal gain.

It was readers' passion that ensured the stars were reinstated after a brief absence during the reshuffle of this section. Blame it on my characteristics as a Capricorn -- apparently I need to broaden my perspectives sometimes -- but I genuinely enjoyed broadening my reading material in this case. Given the timing of this book coming across my desk, it feels like it was written in the stars.

-- Hannah Driscoll FUSION


Kate Richards Hamish Hamilton

RRP £32.99 NOT judging a book by its cover is a lesson we learn very early on, and this book provided another reminder for me. Its cover doesn't give much away.

Nor does the title. I had to read a few chapters before I could get a sense of what was in store. Siamese twins Sea and Serene have little to do with other people, living with just their cousin Wren in the Australian bush.

But when Wren brings back an injured stranger to the house, everything starts changing. Some important themes are talked about, including self-acceptance, dependence and love, all while comprising an air of mystery. How hard it would be to not only share a life with someone, but a body as well?

Sea and Serene somehow make it work. The writing style changes in the middle a little bit so in parts it is hard to know who is speaking and what has happened. But descriptive, poetic language is used throughout, which really impacts the reader and makes them think in a new perspective.

-- Bethany Griffiths



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