Scoop Review of Books

Five Short Reviews

Adam Smith and the advent of behavioural econonomics, the Olsen Twins getting deep, a boy thief, pithy quotes from a teenager, and a former fashion editor’s tales of ponies; what, you may, ask have they got in common? Well, very little except I’ve had reviews of books featuring all of the above in my in-box for awhile now and I’ve decided the time is right to publish them.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely


HarperCollins, $35. Reviewed by Bernard Steeds

Ever since Adam Smith, economics has been founded on the assumption that people rationally pursue self-interest. Marketers and salespeople have always known different: self-interested we may be, but rational we are not.

Ariely is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of ‘behavioural economics’, a relatively new academic field that brings together psychology an economics. Instead of asking how people might theoretically behave in the marketplace, it asks how we actually behave.

Why, for example, do most people order the second most expensive item on the menu? Why does demand for some products go up as the price increases? And why, when we know our incomes are likely to plummet when we retire, is it so hard to save?

Ariely answers these questions, and others, using clear language and plenty of anecdotes. It is a simple, clear, and entertain introduction to the field.

If you like it, also try Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness and Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick.

Lee Raven Boy Thief By Zizou Corder


Penguin Books. Reviewed by Thomas Macdonald

Have you ever read a book that when you read the first chapter, you think: “That was ok… I’ll read more tomorrow”? Then you push yourself past that point and you get really stuck into the book?

Lee Raven Boy Thief is exactly that type of book, and it is definitely worth getting past that point. By the end of the book I was quite sad to put it down, to tell the truth.

This is a fast-paced novel with rip-roaring adventure from start to finish.

Lee Raven, boy thief, has stolen something he really didn’t mean to. Now he is on the run, and he can’t trust anyone, not even his own family.

Lee has stolen the Book of Nebo; a book which has existed for thousands of years, and inside it has every story and legend known to man. Some will even kill to possess it.

Zizou Corder is the pen-name of London-based mother and daughter writing team Louisa Young and Isabel Adomakoh Young, who have been writing together since Isabel was seven. Their previous books are the popular and successful Lion Boy trilogy, and they wander the world in a blue canoe and have 17 pet ducks.

I recommend this book to everyone, particularly for children aged 10-plus.
Rating: 9/10

Influence by Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen


Penguin USA. Reviewed by Sarah Coddington

Growing up I spent most afternoons with the Olsen twins when I tuned into watch ‘Full House’.

At the age of 22 Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have a huge fan empire. In Influence they take on a new role as sophisticated journalists.

The book is comprised as a series of interviews of people the girls admired and have ‘influenced’ them in their lives. Interviewees are mostly fashion icons such as Karl Lagerfield, the man behind Chanel.

Fashion editors, interior designers and photographers are also interviewed. This is a good read if you have an interested in the fashion world but if you expected a look into the twins’ life it’s not worth the read.

Although two of the interviewees are in fact of Mary-Kate and Ashley – Now girls hold on a minute, wasn’t this about those who have inspired you?

Both sisters agree they inspire each other and there are 36 pages dedicated to themselves.

With a fashion line of their own, movies and television shows, they are now junior journalists. These girls have a lot of life experience at the age of 22, but I am not sure if they are really at the point to comment on some of the most famous people of the fashion world.

The glossy photos are fabulous and really are the best part of the book. It is illustrated with photos of interviewees and their works, including some funky shoes and fashion accessories.

I found the book dragged in parts and was more interested in having a look at the pictures if I did not recognize the person.

This is a book is definitely one to put on the coffee table and have a flick through rather than an in-depth read.

The Infinite Wisdom of Harriet Rose


Headline. Reviewed by Sarah Coddington

Harriet Rose is like any other teenage girl until her mother and grandmother decide to surprise her with a unique gift for her birthday, by publishing a selection of her personal “meditations” into a book. Her mother becomes her personal publicist and her grandmother her sales rep.

Together they create a roaring success of her book. Harriet is suddenly caught up in the world of stardom and attends numerous interviews with the media, attends photo shoots and even travels by helicopter to an exclusive hotel and while this is all taking place the book is selling in the thousands.

The book portrays Harriet as a normal young woman who is admired by a young French boy, named Jean Claude, has to deal with her school work, the trails of puberty and nasty girls like Charlotte Goldman who is highly jealous of her rising success.

Harriet’s character is witty, intelligent and a little naïve, but brilliantly portrays my idea of a young teen’s mind. Her mother wants the best for her daughter after her father has died, you get the feeling she needs to make her father’s up to Harriet but has some strange ways of going about it. The nana is a delightful and is everything you would imagine a grandmother to be – kind and wonderful but also likes to let a lot of the characters know where they stand.

This is a beautifully written book and the author Diana Janney’s background in philosophy really shows in the writing. It gives the reader a lesson in philosophy and often quotes or mentions famous philosophers. It is an interesting read that inter-twines Harriet’s book and the story about Harriet perfectly by incorporating small meditations throughout the book.

Some of the meditations are very profound and as I read through the book I began to reflect some of her very in depth thoughts. It was a bit strange to think that these were from a young 14 year old’s mind but it is still a very believable read as the intelligent Harriet Rose fits the profile.

The read would suit a young teenage girl; it is a very female orientated book. As an adult I also enjoyed the book, the meditations were inspirational and the book kept me hooked till the end and opened my mind to the wisdom of Harriet Rose.

My favorite meditation: “I am myself, nothing can change me I am myself. You can legislate, defy, manipulate, but whatever lies ahead, you can not change me.”

Every reader should find their favourite quote.

Issie and the Christmas Pony


Harper Collins. Reviewed by Camilla During

Stacy Gregg, former fashion editor of the Sunday Star-Times’ Sunday Magazine, has now written her sixth Pony Club Secrets book, Issie and the Christmas Pony, in time for the Christmas market.

Gregg has drawn on her own childhood experiences, and her passion and concern for horses shines through. Unlike many other other “series” books for young girls, these Pony Club books are surprisingly well written and fresh.

The plots twist and turn, the characters are well formed and, although I suspect the series may veer towards the formulaic, Issie and the Christmas Pony held my attention throughout.

I’m impressed. So if you have an eight to twelve-year-old girl who is mad about horses this book will certainly hit the spot.