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Book reviews: Black Sheep perfect dinner party fodder

BLACK SHEEP: THE HIDDEN BENEFITS OF BEING BAD Richard Stephens Hachette, $29.99
Nanjing Night Net

The (sub) title sounds like an apologia for bad behaviour, and yes to an extent Black Sheep does survey psychological research that seems to present various risk-taking, naughty or untoward activities as being beneficial.  For instance swearing can make you more tolerant of pain, having orgasms is an excellent way of giving your facial muscles a good work out and also increases your pain threshold and reduces stress. There are also apparently hidden virtues behind driving fast and drinking alcohol (not together however!). There is science backing but the tone is conversational rather than academic. It’s a fun book that’s perfect to extrapolate a couple of findings and throw them out during a dinner party.

HOW TO WRITE YOUR BLOCKBUSTER Fiona McIntosh Penguin, $19,99

Fiona McIntosh has been writing for 15 years and is currently working on her 13th novel; she is also a bestselling writer, one of those rare beasts who can earn a decent living from her published work alone. This book is full of practical, commonsensical advice on how to develop your creative project and maintain the discipline required to finish it. Although she’s writing about producing commercial, popular fiction, quite a bit of what McIntosh says is applicable to writing across any genre. For instance, do not steal time from your family (they are your cheer squad) but wean yourself off electronic devices and social engagements; cultivate your business skills and learn patience. It’s an easy-to-read resource that will help newbies in particular overcome the typical frustrations of the blank or half-finished manuscript.

WICKED CHARMS Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton Hachette, $29.99

This is the third in the Lizzy and Diesel series and Evanovich and Sutton have got the formula down pat: light and funny mystery adventure with a frisson of sexual tension. For those unfamiliar with the predecessors, Lizzy has enhanced powers for locating special objects, which is lucky because she and the aptly named Diesel are on the hunt for the Avarice Stone (having already located the first two deadly sin stones) and a coin that will help decode an encrypted pirate map. Naturally there are others bent on locating the secret treasure chest too. It all sounds a bit silly but Wicked Charms doesn’t take itself seriously and it’s easy to fall into its quirky charm although the plot is unnecessarily convoluted.

EMOTIONS IN MOTION Rose Stanley, Illustrated by Lisa Allen Starfish Bay Publishing, $14.99

Toddlers and preschoolers often have difficulty articulating their emotions and can (like Melbourne’s weather) go through several mood swings in an hour, from sunny to  thunderstorms. This book helps them to identify their emotions simply through the use of colour. Anger for instance is scribbles of black and red and feels like a “firecracker bouncing around in your tummy”, while loneliness is splotchy and grey and feels like “you are on one side of a wall and everyone else is on the other”. It’s a thoughtful, well-considered book that will go some way to assist with child developmental issues.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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