December 2020

Crime/Mystery

The Valley of Lost Stories by Vanessa McCausland

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke The Valley of Lost Stories written by Vanessa McCausland was inspired by a real place, the beautiful Capertee Valley in NSW. In this area of the Blue Mountains, all that remains of man-made structures are the crumbling buildings of a township set up for the shale oil miners in the 1950s,

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Crime/Mystery

Tell Me Lies by J.P. Pomare

Reviewed by Rod McLary In his third novel [following Call Me Evie and In the Clearing – both reviewed in these pages by this reviewer], JP Pomare again explores the grey area between truth and lie and the unfortunate – and sometimes tragic – consequences which fall on those caught between the two.  But as

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Crime/Mystery

Box 88 by Charles Cumming

Reviewed by Ian Lipke At long, long last, a writer has emerged to contest the place held by John le Carré in the canon of spy literature, who produced the immortal George Smiley series of novels. Charles Cumming has provided a book with the stimulating title Box 88 – an organisation that doesn’t exist with

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Indie Book Awards 2021

Established in 2008, the Indie Book Awards celebrate the best Australian writing; and who better to nominate and judge the best-of-the-best than indie booksellers! What makes indie booksellers uniquely placed to judge and recommend the best Aussie books of the past year, is their incredible passion and knowledge, their contribution to the cultural diversity of

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Winner – 2020 Voss Literary Prize

The estate of Vivian Robert de Vaux Voss and the Australian University Heads of English are proud to announce the winner of the 2020 Voss Literary Prize: Tara June Winch, The Yield (Penguin Random House Australia)

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General Fiction

The Berlin Girl by Mandy Robotham

Reviewed by Ian Lipke It is summer on the European mainland when Georgie Young and Max Spender are posted to Berlin. She finds him arrogant; he regards her as a naïve reporter who is certain to get under his feet. It is 1938 and the German people slavishly follow Hitler’s demands. The city is swathed

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General Fiction

The Strays of Paris by Jane Smiley

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve The Strays of Paris, which the much-loved author Jane Smiley has written, brings an unlikely tale of community, friendship and the value of kindness in the heart of one of the most sophisticated of cities, Paris. It begins when Paras, short for Perestroika, nudges the door of her stall and discovers

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General Fiction

Contacts by Mark Watson

Reviewed by Clare Brook In his latest novel Contacts Mark Watson validates the positive power of our modern telephone technology; how social media can be used to facilitate communication, providing paths to inclusion and empowerment for those on the margins of society. To achieve the above, Watson constructs a plot around James, a man in

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Memoir/Biography

All the Young Men by Ruth Coker Burks

Reviewed by Rod McLary While the origins of HIV/AIDS remain uncertain, it seems that it was first recognised as a pandemic in the early 1980s.  There was then much confusion and misinformation about how it was transmitted and, in some circles, HIV/AIDS was known as the ‘homosexual disease’.  Indeed, in the 1980s, it was given

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Travel

Beyond Possible by Nimsdai Purja

Reviewed by Norrie Sanders Humans start to die above 8000m unless they have a supply of oxygen. Fourteen mountains on the planet rise above 8000m. Even with oxygen, the climbs are steep and dangerous and there is only a short climbing window each season when conditions are suitable. So climbing all of those peaks in

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Children

The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling

Reviewed by Gerard Healy This is the first children’s book by the renowned J.K. Rowling after her hugely successful Harry Potter series which broke records for world-wide sales. It’s probably fair to say that this one is not in the Harry Potter league, but nevertheless, it’s a charming tale that should entertain children and the

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Children

Code Name Bananas by David Walliams

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve As an avid reader who grew up in the era when Enid Blyton was the most exciting writer of children’s books, it was with a blend of delight and envy that that I read Code Name Bananas by David Walliams. Delight because it is a riotous tale of a young boy,

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Humour

The 2020 Dictionary by Dominic Knight

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve The subheading reads, ‘The definitive guide to the year the world turned to shit’, with which most of the population would heartily agree. In 536, due to a volcano erupting in Iceland, it is supposed, the earth was in darkness for 18 months. Crops failed. Many died. This catastrophe was followed

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Crime/Mystery

Hideout by Jack Heath

Reviewed by Rod McLary The genre of crime and thriller fiction is a tough arena to break into. Populated by giants of the genre such as Ian Rankin, James Lee Burke and Harlen Coben – just to name a very small few – competition is fierce.  As an aficionado of the genre, I always look

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