March 2023

General Fiction

Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton

Reviewed by Rod McLary Readers will come to this new book by Eleanor Catton with memories of her winning the Booker Prize in 2013 with her novel The Luminaries.  Aged just 28, she was the youngest-ever winner; and The Luminaries was a complex and lengthy historical mystery.  Ten years later, Birnam Wood is a different

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Crime/Mystery

Red Queen by Juan Gómez-Jurado

Reviewed by Ian Lipke Juan Gómez-Jurado is a new writer to my stable. I was impressed. The publisher has made a feature of the fact that the writer is new and exciting, a practice that makes me look askance at the claims for the merits of the book. In this case, however, the inflated descriptions

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Memoir/Biography

Inner Song by Jillian Graham

Reviewed by Ian Lipke Inner Song is the life in print of a woman most Australians will never have heard of. This does not make her less worthy of the plaudits that are finally beginning to be attached to her name, but simply describes what happens to those whose head stretches above the pack, if

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Young Adult

HappyHead by Josh Silver

Reviewed by Rod McLary The great late crime novelist P. D. James once said ‘all fiction is largely autobiographical’ and this observation is borne out by Josh Silver’s debut novel HappyHead.  The author says [in ‘Josh Silver – in his own words’ at the conclusion of the novel] that, like his protagonist Seb Seaton, he

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Young Adult

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

Reviewed by Antonella Townsend Wow! The Iron Widow is a wild Young Adult read.  Xiran Jay Zhao expands on concepts drawn from a range of pop culture and Chinese mythology to deliver an imaginative Sc Fi retelling of the only female emperor in Chinese history – Wu Zetian.  In this, Zhao powerfully forwards the idea

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Literature

Barron Field by Thomas H. Ford and Justin Clemens

Reviewed by Ian Lipke Few educated Australians could immediately speak with authority when prompted by the name Barron Field. This Colonial administrator and law maker was born into wealth and admitted to the bar in 1814. Although law was his career, his passion was literature. This was the time of the Romantic movement when Field

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Non-Fiction

Greatest Moments in Australian Sport by Mark Beretta

Reviewed by Richard Tutin Australians love their sport. Television and streaming networks pay big money to get the rights to broadcast all forms of sport from cricket and football through to car racing and the summer and winter Olympics. Some networks specialise their focus on one or two different formats. Others such as the Seven

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General Fiction

Return to Valetto by Dominic Smith

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve Dominic Smith has the gift of transporting a reader to an unfamiliar world, but brings it to life with writing that is carefully chosen, beautiful and haunting. In the Last Painting of Sara De Vos, it was the era of the great Dutch Masters.  In his latest novel, Return to Valetto,

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Stella Prize for women and non-binary writers 2023

The longlist for the $60,000 Stella Prize for women and non-binary writers has been announced. The longlisted books are: The Furies by Mandy Beaumont (Hachette) Every Version of You by Grace Chan (Affirm) We Come With This Place by Debra Dank (Echo) big beautiful female theory by Eloise Grills (Affirm) The Jaguar by Sarah Holland-Batt (UQP) Hydra by Adriane Howell (Transit

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NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2023

The shortlists for the 2023 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards have been announced. Changes to the awards this year include the $30,000 Indigenous Writers’ Prize now being offered annually; the prize money for the Multicultural NSW Award being increased from $20,000 to $30,000; and the people’s choice award now including $5000 prize money. The shortlisted

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History

Convict Orphans by Lucy Frost

Reviewed by Rod McLary While the history of the transportation of many thousands of convicts to Australia from 1788 to 1868 is well-known to most Australians, the fate of thousands of abandoned children is less well-known.  But their stories are critical to a fuller understanding of our history.  But who are these abandoned children and

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Environment

The Atlas of Abandoned Places by Oliver Smith

Reviewed by Richard Tutin When Oliver Smith’s The Atlas of Abandoned Places was listed in the catalogue I couldn’t resist asking if I could review it. There is something about reading the stories of forgotten buildings and places that holds my attention. I am not alone in this because as well as books such as

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Children

The Big Story of Being Alive by Neal Layton

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve The title itself indicates an exciting tale is about to be revealed and it instantly captures a reader’s attention with its positive message – having life is tremendous. The bygone revolutions, agrarian and industrial, have made way for the new age of science and technology. As a result, educators are beseeched

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