April 2021

Crime/Mystery

Red Wolves by Adam Hamdy

Reviewed by Ian Lipke Adam Hamdy would have learned from his work with studios and production companies that, to capture the attention of readers, you must hit them hard in the opening scene or episode. It’s that piece of wisdom attributed to US President Theodore Roosevelt: ‘If you’ve got ‘em by the balls, their hearts

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ABIA 2021 Awards Winners

The 2021 Australian Book Industry (ABIAs) were announced on Wednesday 28 April at a star-studded simultaneous live and virtual event at Carriageworks, in association with the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and streamed LIVE on YouTube, hosted by musician and performer Casey Bennetto. The awards are judged by an academy of more than 250 respected publishing industry

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Language

Rebel Without a Clause by Sue Butler

Reviewed by Antonella Townsend A hearty thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for publishing Sue Butler’s Rebel Without a Clause; clearly it is not going to be on a bestseller list given that its subject matter seems to be going out of style.  Nevertheless, this lovely hardback is a most engaging book; wittily written, it digs,

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Crime/Mystery

Sincerely, Ethel Malley by Stephen Orr

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve In the vanishing setting of the independent bookshop, Sincerely, Ethel Malley would catch the browser’s eye. Not just for the infamous name, Malley, but for the cover itself. Against a black background, there is a rigidly seated figure, dressed in a frumpy frock, strong, manly hands resting loosely in her lap.

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Crime/Mystery

A Gambling Man by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Ian Lipke Something horrible has happened to David Baldacci’s writing since his work of the early 2010s. I have volumes going back to 2019 on my shelves and I’ve given away many editions before then. In previous critiques I have praised the quality of this author’s command of language but levelled criticism at

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Memoir/Biography

The Beauty of Living Twice by Sharon Stone

Reviewed by Ian Lipke “You could be alone in the dark and be immersed in the light… you could always see the theatre and everyone in it – the flaws, the dirt, the empty food containers, the reality of it all…Call it what makes your heart sing; but call it with love, because that light

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History

More Than Words by Pat Manser

Reviewed by Gerard Healy This is the interesting story of Australia’s own dictionary by former researcher Patricia Manser. She covers some fascinating territory from the original push to have a publication with a decidedly Australian flavour to the team of dedicated professionals who eventually brought it to light. Along the way are the linguistic byways

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Crime/Mystery

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs

Reviewed by Rod McLary Kathy Reichs has now written twenty novels featuring Temperance Brennan – more informally called Tempe.  In common with her creator, Tempe is a forensic anthropologist and a good part of the novels centres on scientific matters.  Tempe works with the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médicine Légale in Montreal or,

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Non-Fiction

Cynical Theories by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay

Reviewed by Clare Brook Cynical Theories by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay provides a comprehensive guide for the layperson through a fraught social/political landscape.  A setting that is populated by an ever-widening abyss between the left’s Postmodern Theories and Social Justice activism, and the reaction of the far right harking back to an untenable past. 

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Children

The Big Book of Festivals by Marita Bullock & Joan-Maree Hargreaves

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve In size and appearance, one would wrongly conclude that this is a book for young children. Happily, this is not so. The efforts of the two writers and the illustrator have produced an attractive book that is interesting and informative to us all. The Festivals featured occur all over the world.

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Politics

How Good is Scott Morrison? by Wayne Errington and Peter Van Onselen

Reviewed by Gerard Healy They say a week is a long time in politics, but what about five months? Authors Wayne Errington and Peter Van Onselen finished this account of Prime Minister Scott Morrison towards the end of 2020. At that stage, they had him virtually unbeatable at the next federal election, due mainly to

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General Fiction

The Ripping Tree by Nikki Gemmell

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke Nikki Gemmell is the author of fourteen works of fiction and seven non-fiction books, and her novels have been translated into 22 languages. Many will know this writer from her weekly, often controversial, column in The Weekend Australian newspaper. In 2007, the French literary magazine Lire included her in a list

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History

The Light of Days by Judy Batalion

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve In the early 1940’s, when other eighteen-year-olds were enjoying life in London and New York, with movies, clothes and music, an incredibly courageous band of Jewish girls in Poland were fighting their Nazi oppressors. This book is a testament to them, starving, tortured, brave often brazen, they planned their resistance.  Their

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Poetry

On The Line by Joseph Ponthus

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve To read this book is an unforgettable experience. The cover, depicting five blue fish side by side, is eye-catching in its beautiful simplicity, belying the ugly reality within. It initially has an almost laconic air but transforms quickly to anger, protest, near despair at the lack of communication and confusion as

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