Book review: The Dry

Posted on March 16, 2017 by Sarah Price


The Dry is not your average whodunnit.  Australian crime fiction at its best, it paints a startlingly detailed (and some might say accurate) picture of small Outback towns struggling through the challenges posed by Australia’s harsh highly changeable climate and day to day life.

The story follows a meandering path ( much like the dry riverbed at the heart of the town – a focal point in the plot) through the life of federal police agent Aaron Falk and the small rural Australian town where he grew up that is in the throes of the worst drought on record. Falk returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of a childhood friend, Luke Hadler, who we discover is suspected of murdering his family before turning his gun on himself. Falk finds himself drawn into unofficially investigating the case at the request of Luke’s parents, and like any good crime novel, things are not what they seem.

This mystery is closely interwoven with a mystery from Aaron and Luke’s past. Vignettes to the past slowly unravel both the present and past mysteries in a slowly filling in pieces of the puzzle, although as we discover, there’s always a  new to be found.

The story is chock full of irony and oh so many twists. There is irony in that escaping urban sprawl for a sea change or tree change often leaves the escapees finding themselves left with nowhere to run. That wide open spaces can be as equally oppressive as packed as a high density city-scape. And, there is very much a lesson in the fact that when we try to run from our problems, they almost always find a way to catch up with us.

A debut novel for Melbourne author Jane harper, this is an incredible achievement for one of Australia’s rising literary talents. Indeed, it has made the world sit up an take notice with international distribution deals for the book in the works and interest for a film from Reese Witherspoon’s production company.

If there is a criticism of this novel, it is that some of the characters fall a little bit flat. Especially our “hero” who despite his apparent mysterious background and seemingly fascinating job as a federal ppolice agent, seems a bit too one dimensional. The focus seems to be on the juxtaposition of the landscape with the constantly evolving mysteries unravelling across time and space. Some character development would have added a richer and more fascinating dimension to the novel. The novel is definitely a page turner however – easy to sink into and hard to put down. We look forward to the next big thing from Jane Harper.


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Things You Need to Do Before Census Date

Posted on March 16, 2017 by Sarah Price

 Census Date

Census date is just around the corner, on March 31st. And for many of us, it’s a day that may just pass without you even noticing, but there a few things you might want to think about  as the census date emerges. If you’re thinking about changing your study path in any way, it’s always a good idea to talk to your lecturer, unit coordinator or course coordinator as there may be implications for your current or future study. If you are wanting to make a change, it is a good idea to plan ahead and give yourself as much time as possible to consider your options. Here are a few things that you won’t be able to do after census date.

  1. Get Free postage for textbooks.
    Up until March 31st, when your order online, you can get free postage if you use the code SSAF. So make sure you get your orders in!

  2. Get a Return for refund
    If you need to return your textbooks because you’ve changed your units or for any other reason, you will need to do it before Census. After that date, we can’t offer refunds, however you may be able to get a credit note or exchange.

  3. Withdraw from courses or units. March 31st is also the last date you will be able to withdraw from units or courses without incurring a fee or academic penalty. It’s always a good idea to do this well before the census date and before you make decision, so talk to your lecturer, course coordinator or both as it may impact your future study path.
  1. Change courses or units. Similarly, if you’re wanting to transfer your degree or unit you will need to do this before census without occurring any penalty. As above, please do consult with your lecturer or course coordinator before you make any changes so you are aware of how it might impact any future study.
  2. Defer a course. If you thinking about putting your course on hold and taking a bit of a break, you need to make sure your do this before census date. You will be unable to defer your studies after census without incurring academic or fee penalties.
  1. Apply for a break from studies
    Similarly if you’ve started studying this semester, but thinking about takin a break for a period of time, you also need to apply for this well before the census date. Your course  coordinator or student central can assist you on the process as well as the impact for this. 

Census is only a couple of weeks away, so make sure you really start thinking about how your semester 1, 2017 is travelling so far and if you need to make changes now’s the time. Don’t leave it to the last minute.

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Could a Study Guide Help You?

Posted on March 02, 2017 by CDU Bookshop

Study Guides can be an invaluable aide to study, learning or writing at university. But when you’ve got a substantial textbook bill to work through, it can be difficult to justify spending more money on additional resources. However, they can add real value to your studies, and we’ve put together some great reasons why a study guide might be beneficial for you.

  1. If you’re new to tertiary study or haven’t studied for a while. Staring down the barrel of 3 or 4 years of study after not studying or coming straight from school can be a daunting prospect. Study guides can help you understand what to expect and set up good habits from the get go.
  2. If English is not your first language. There are plenty of study guides specially designed for students for whom English is not a first language, and they can specifically help with writing for assignments, navigating grammar and other nuances you’ll need to know about study, assignments and general learning in English
  3. If you’re not sure what skills you’ll need for successful study. If you’re new to study or not sure what skills you’ll need, study guides can be a great help? Do you need to be good at writing? Spelling? Communicating? There are even specific study guides designed for whatever specialty your studying
  4. If you’re not confident about certain skills such as grammar. If you know what skills you’ll need but are not confident you have them, a study guide can help you hone and refine your skills to help you gain valuable marks in your assignments or just study and learn more effectively. Look for specialty guides that focus on those areas you need the most such as grammar, writing or communication.
  5. If you need a bit of motivation to get you into study mode. Just reading about having good study habits can give you the motivation to build your own and get in the zone of study. It can also be very useful in providing much needed focus
  6. If you’re returning to study after the break and are keen to develop good study habits. Study guides can also be great if you’re returning for a 2nd or 3rd year of study but feel you’d like to start afresh with some good habits and skills  that may have escaped you in first year.

If any of these strike a chord, then it might just be worthwhile adding study guides to your textbook order. It can only help!

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Your Guide to Textbook Buying

Posted on March 02, 2017 by CDU Bookshop

Buying textbooks is the bane of many students existence. They can be expensive, time consuming and it can be difficult to even know if or when you need them. We’ll here’s a guide to cut through the whys and the wherefores of textbook buying

  1.  Prescribed vs recommended texts . There is often a great deal of confusion around prescribed and recommended texts. Do you need to buy both types? The short answer is, it depends. Generally speaking, prescribed texts are a mandatory part of your unit’s curriculum and you will most likely be at a disadvantage if you don’t purchase these ones. Recommended texts are those texts that are recommended you purchase them, in that the knowledge contained therein will add value but they may only provide background or supplementary knowledge, or a small component of the text may be relevant. How important recommended texts are to your learning  depends on your unit and your lecturer, so it’s a good idea to check this with your lecturer once classes commence. You may even find you don’t need them unitl later in the semester which can help with the impact on your wallet. 

  2. Where to Buy All textbooks on recommended or prescribed lists are available through the CDU Bookshop ( unless sold out or delayed by the publisher).We have direct communication with your lecturers and can tell you what you’ll need, plus we offer free shipping until census date of 31 March. We can also tell you which edition you need which is important as the info in the text can change with each new edition. So CDU Bookshop is a really good first stop. If you feel you can get it cheaper elsewhere though, do make sure you are getting the right edition of the text, as it can be confusing,.
  3. Buying online. If you do purchase online, make sure you are purchasing the right edition of your text, and also check out the refund and returns policy. Also opt for a provider that offers free postage. CDU Bookshop offers returns on unopened items before census date and free shipping before census, so it pays to shop around. Or just come to us first!
  4. To buy or not to buy. Many students agonise about whether or not to buy the textbooks, and often leave it to late, meaning it might be sold out, or you might have missed valuable learning support as a result of not having your text. Whether you will need your text this semester or whether you can get away with not buying it, will really depend on your unit requirements. Id you’re unsure, talk to your lecturer or unit coordinator as they will be the bes tperson to help you decide. Don’t rely on feedback from past students or friends as the unit may have changed or have a different lecturer.
  1. Need to return it? If you do need to return your textbook, make sure you review our returns policy. Also make sure your textbook is in the same condition you bought it or you might not be able to get your money back.

  2. Free postage. Don’t forget CDU offers free postage for all textbooks up until the census date of 31 March. Just use the code SSAF online when you buy.

  3. E books. Many textbooks offer ebook versions, and they can be a way of reducing the financial burden of buying textbooks. But before you rush out and click on that download button, there’s a few things you need to remember. Many students find that knowledge is retained more effectively when acquired from a hardcopy book. Consider your own learning/ reading style before you click. Some publishers offer limited access to ebooks. Meaning you may only be able to access the information for a limited time frame or you may not be able to copy or carry the information with you via a download. It may only be available via a device which could prove problematic if you are studying remotely and perhaps do not have consistent, reliable access to the internet.

Whatever or however you decide to purchase your textbooks, make sure you make an informed choice, shop around, and be clear about the process if you need to return an item. Happy Textbook shopping!

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Student recipe; Easy Chicken Curry

Posted on February 14, 2017 by Sarah Price

The perfect recipe for rainy wet season nights or when friends pop over for an evening study session.


  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil ( you can also use olive or peanut oil )
  • ¼ cup onion, minced
  • 12-2teaspoons curry powder
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • ¾ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp shredded ginger ( fresh is best)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1cup chicken stock
  • 1cup milk
  • ½ kg  chicken, diced, 
  • I cup of mixed vegetables (capsicum/broccoli/snow peas/Chinese cabbage/mushroom/bok choy – whatever you have in the fridge)
  • 12teaspoon lemon juice
  • Chopped coriander for garnish
  • 3- 4 cups cooked rice


  1. Heat oil over low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan or wok
  2. Sauté onion ,curry power and garlic in oil for 2-3 minutes
  3. Blend in flour, salt, sugar and ground ginger. Cook over low heat until mixture is smooth and bubbles
  4. Add chicken and lightly brown.
  5. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in chicken stock and milk
  6. Return to heat, bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute until mixture thickens.
  7. Add lemon juice.
  8. Add vegetables
  9. Allow to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes

10.Spoon Chicken Curry over the cooked rice and serve with accompaniments on the side so everyone can top as desired.

NB: You can also replace the chicken with prawn or fish or just add tofu and more veggies for a vegetarian option.

 Serve with::(optional)

These are up to you but any of these will add another dimension to your curry.
Chutney, tomato wedges, raisins, slivered almonds, chopped salted peanuts, sautéed onion rings, pineapple, chopped hard cooked eggs, crispy bacon bits, pickles (sweet or sour), flaked coconut, sliced avocado, natural yogurt

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How to Make the Most of Your First Week

Posted on February 14, 2017 by Sarah Price

Your first week of study is always going to be somewhat daunting, whether you've studied before, or have never studied at university in your life. But not to worry, this week, we've got some great ideas to egt the most out of your first week, and set you up for a fantastic Semester 1.

1. Viva la difference
Whether you’re studying full time or part time, on campus or externally , studying can add a different element to your already busy daily routine. If you’re coming fresh from secondary education you will find the flexible learning structure associated with higher education study to be very different  to that which you experienced in high school. Or if you studying while working, you may find it a bit of a challenge juggling work, family, social and study commitments. Just be prepared, be organised , prioritise your time and you’ll be fine.

2. Use your breaks wisely
Depending on your study load, your timetable will no doubt allow for breaks on both a weekly and daily basis, whether you’re studying full time or part time. Hopefully this will give you flexibility but use your first week to work out how best to maximise the breaks in your time. Use them judiciously for rest, relaxation and study. This will ensure the rest of semester runs smoothly.

3. Go to O week. 
At CDU, O week runs from the 20 – 24 February with lots of great events happening on campus and online. O week is a great opportunity to suss out your campus, make new friends and really get a taste of what university life can offer you before you start. Plus it’s also a great way to figure out the what, the where and the who before your first week starts. Check out the program.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are lots of people you can hit up if you’re unsure about where to be or what to do. Your lecturers, student central and library are all here to help you so if you’re not sure. Just ask!

5. Discover the library
The friendly team at the library are an absolute fount of  information on research, study and where to found key resources. So get to know them at o week,  sign up for one of the regular tours, or ask a staff member. That’s what they are there for.
6. Do Plan. Use your first week to plan the next 12 or so weeks of study and exams. If you’re studying multiple units, you may find that you will have assignments and/or other key tasks due at around the same time, so having a plan for completing everything in a timely manner will help reduce the stress of managing multiple deadlines. There are no prizes for leaving things for the last minute so if you plan out your semester you can allocate time for study, research and completing any key projects.

7. Visit your friendly cdu bokshoop. CDU bookshop is your one stop shop for texts, study guides, and other key resources you will need to get your through. So add us to your list. Our friendly staff will help you get through and help you find exactly what you need,.

Posted in 2017, Study Preparation

Book review: Hope Farm

Posted on January 31, 2017 by Sarah Price

Hope Farm is the second novel from Melbourne based author Peggy Frew.  Set in the winter of 1985, on a bleak, yet beautiful rural Victorian landscape, Hope Farm  provides a detailed look at mothers, daughters and the  inevitable  compromises that both have to  make. We follow the journey of 13 year old Silver, and her mother Ishtar, who relocate to a ramshackle, weatherboard house in rural Victoria after Ishtar  falls for the charismatic Miller.  Aptly named Hope Farm, the move represents a new start for mother and daughter, a chance to find stability and set down roots.

Here, Silver finds both friendship and foes. After being thrust into a confounding, gritty and unrelenting adult world, her innocence and indeed the very world around her slowly starts to crumble.

Despite the apparent bleakness of both the  landscape and life that the novel represents, the narrative is underscored with a richness and beauty and overall a prevailing sense of hope. And yet, there  remains a delicate sense  of tension as we follow Silver’s journey into adulthood. This is especially pronounced as we experience adult Silver’s retrospective towards her childhood and the inevitable life lessons that such a journey brings.

Frew shines a brutally stark light on the pain and pitfalls of parenting. In exploring the love between parent and child and what transpires when the lines of that relationship are crossed and blurred, we discover the raw tenderness of loving but not having that love returned.

With a carefully crafted and deftly woven narrative, Frew brings the reader on a journey across time, across landscapes and across the great and often shaky divide between childhood and adulthood. Thrilling and beguiling, it is a smashingly good read.

Posted in Book review, Reading

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