Thursday, March 01, 2012

Liar Bird by Lisa Walker

Cassandra Daley has never given much thought to wildlife until she loses a PR war with a potoroo.

Sacked and disgraced, she flees the city. Not for a tree-change, just a bolt hole. But small-town Beechville has other plans for her.

Feral pigs, a philosopher frog and a town with a secret, could things get worse? Add one man with the sexiest way with maps she's ever seen and they soon do. Her best friend Jessica thinks she's been brainwashed by an RM Williams cult, and Jessica could be right.

Can Cassandra reinvent herself, or will she always be a liar bird?

Cassandra Daley (always called Cassandra - never Cassie or Cass) is living the dream. Dream car, dream house, dream boyfriend (even if he is a bit dim), dream job. As one of the top PR girls in Sydney she regularly appears in the society pages. She works hard, and plays hard. Really hard. Not bad for a girl who has evolved from gothic teen with a penchant for French philosophy who comes from the less than glamorous western suburbs of Sydney.

That is until a newspaper journalist exposes some shonky dealings that she has undertaken in the course of working for a new development which jeopardises the habitat of critically endangered potoroo. As an aside, in case you are wondering what a potoroo is, it is a small rabbit sized mammal which is almost like a cross between a rat and a kangaroo.

When the resulting uproar doesn't really die down, it is clear that Cassandra needs to get out of Sydney.... fast! She sees a job in a newspaper for a PR person in a small country town near the New South Wales/Queensland border called Beechville. Sure, it isn't Sydney, but really, it just has to last as long as it takes for people to forget all about the scandal and then she will be able to make a triumphant return back to her previous fabulous life.

The new job doesn't particularly start very well. As part of the deal she is given a small cottage to stay in, although hovel is probably a better description. The paint is peeling as is the lino on the floor, and a few others things - not least of which is the fact that there is a frog in the loo!

Even in the office, she isn't exactly being made to feel welcome. The office is only small, which makes it even more obvious that the ranger, Mac, is not best pleased to have her as part of the team, although the boss, Sam, seems really pleased with the work that Cassandra is doing even when not everything goes to plan.

What follows is a series of misadventures as Cassandra begins to learn that maybe her dream life wasn't all that fabulous, that living in a small town could be more exciting than she thought, and that she doesn't necessarily like the idea of sharing her dream boyfriend with someone else.

Given that every year one of my goals is to read more Australian authors, I was pleased to see that there are now some Australian publishers who are making their books accessible via Netgalley. I was scrolling through one day and saw this book and knew that this was an Australian author and so requested it straight away. I have to say I was not disappointed by the book!

Not too long ago I mentioned that I have a tendency to like British chick lit novels more than American ones, but I didn't really talk too much about Australian chick lit, mainly because I can't really remember reading many. The start of this novel, in particular, has a bit of that kind of chick lit feel, but the reader's journey doesn't necessarily go exactly where you thought you might be going.

A lot of the humour in the book is mostly derived from the city slicker's interactions with the local wildlife (feral pigs, snakes, frogs, cane toads, a thought to be extinct animal), but there are also plenty of fun musical references mainly from the 80s and 90s, the fact that Cassandra uses Alice in Wonderland as her guide to life and a charm that makes this an immensely readable diversion for a few hours.

That's not to say that the book isn't without it's issues - for me, Cassandra's romantic entanglements, and disentanglements if that is a word, were all a bit rushed, but this is a minor qualm really. Cassandra started out as someone I couldn't imagine actually liking if I met her, but as part of her journey she learns to take herself a little less seriously. There is also a cast of secondary characters that add to the local flavour of the book.

It is obvious that Lisa Walker has a keen interest in wildlife preservation and this shone through the pages of this book, without necessarily making it feel as though you were being hammered over the head with the environmentalism message.

The author's next book is due to be released later this year and I for one will be keeping an eye out for it. It is going to be called Killing the Bonsai.

Rating 4/5

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the egalley that I received of this book.

This book counts towards both the Aussie Author Challenge and the Australian Women Writer's Challenge.


  1. I had no idea what a potoroo was, so thanks for clearing that up for me! This does indeed sound like a fun book, and like a bit of a lighter read than what I am used to. I need a read like this right now! Great review, Marg! I am so glad that you found this Aussie book, and even more glad that you liked it!

  2. Heather, I had to look up potoroos too! I had a vague idea that it would be something wallaby like, but didn't realise how small it would be!

  3. Liar Bird (and what a great title) sounds fab. The blurb caught my attention and your review confirmed it ... now to the check the library! Thanks, Marg :)

  4. I'm hoping to pick this up later in the year. Thanks for the review!

  5. This one was fun - we've talked lots about our views on chick lit and I'm definitely with you on preferring Brit to American. I never thought too much about Australian chick lit much although I've read a little bit. I am looking forward to her next book too.

  6. This sounds like fun! Thanks for the review, I would never have heard about it otherwise. I want to read more authors from other countries too, so this fits right in. And the picture of the potoroos is cute :-)

  7. I quite like the sound of this--particularly the Alice in Wonderland idea!



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