August 2023

General Fiction

The Visitors by Jane Harrison

Reviewed by Rod McLary The Visitors is a re-imagining of that fateful day in January 1788 when the eleven ships of the First Fleet entered what we now know as Sydney Cove.  The events of the day are described from the perspective of a group of seven Elders, each representing one of the First Nation

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Historical Fiction

Learned By Heart by Emma Donoghue

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve Learned By Heart, Emma Donoghue’s latest novel, is a heartbreaking account of Eliza Raine, possibly the first love of the famed lesbian, Anne Lister, and her tragic life which ensued. It is a beautifully reconstructed tale of boarding school life at the beginning of the nineteenth century, which provides a background

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General Fiction

The Hummingbird Effect by Kate Mildenhall

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke Before beginning to read this third novel by Australian writer Kate Mildenhall, I needed to remind myself what The Hummingbird Effect was. The computer told me that the hummingbird effect demonstrates that an event in one field can trigger completely unexpected outcomes in wholly different domains. This connectivity cannot be predicted

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History

Idiots, Follies and Misadventures by Mikey Robins

Reviewed by Richard Tutin We often forget that recorded history has many dimensions. While many complain that they have only be taught or shown one side of historical events – usually that of the winners – it doesn’t take long before other stories begin to emerge. Some of these other stories are very serious and

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Historical Fiction

Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve Many respected critics have predicted that Jenny Erpenbeck, born in 1967 in the former East Germany, will receive the Nobel Prize for Literature within the next few years and her latest novel, Kairos, is indeed evident of a brilliant if not a great writer. This layered account of a doomed, intense

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Memoir/Biography

Beeswax and Tall Tales by Jane Crowley and Athol Salter

Reviewed by Norrie Sanders Imagine a time when furniture came already built. A time before flatpack and online retail. When you could see and touch solid wood and dovetail joints. Imagine a time when banks had branches in country towns. And there was a human bank manager who could sit you down in a comfortable

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Memoir/Biography

My Mother, The Spy by Cindy Dobbin and Freda Marnie Nicholls

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke My Mother, The Spy was written by Freda Marnie Nicholls in association with Cindy Dobbin, the daughter of Mercia Masson. Fifty years after her mother’s death Cindy was given a book called Australia’s Spies and their Secrets which mentions her mother. At first ‘Cindy found the idea of her mother being

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History

Russia’s War Against Ukraine by Mark Edele

Reviewed by Norrie Sanders Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine has led to a media frenzy that sometimes overwhelms us with deluges of content. We have daily updates, analysis, propaganda and predictions that add up to an incoherent and often conflicting narrative. No single voice speaks with authenticity and predictions are frequently proven wrong. Into this

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Crime/Mystery

Mole Creek by James Dunbar

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke Written in the third person, the story begins in Soul Alley, Saigon in 1969 where a young soldier finds himself in a sticky situation after a night of drinking. The story then swings to 50 years later, still in Saigon, with two Russians conspiring together and the deaths of two seemingly

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Memoir/Biography

Flawed Hero by Chris Masters

Reviewed by Gerard Healy This is the background story to the defamation trial between decorated Australian soldier Ben Roberts-Smith VC and the media companies that employed journalists Chris Masters and Nick Mackenzie. This is the version by veteran investigative reporter Chris Masters, who had first-hand experience in Afghanistan, having been embedded there with Australian troops.

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2023 National Biography Award

Ann-Marie Priest has won the 2023 National Biography Award for My Tongue Is My Own: A life of Gwen Harwood (La Trobe University Press). Ann-Marie Priest has captured completely the sprite-like nature of one of Australia’s finest poets; a woman who used a fierce intellect and penchant for trickery to upend dusty institutions that steadfastly refused to

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Young Adult

This by Lazaros Zigomanis

Reviewed by Rod McLary The relevance of the title of this new book by Lazaros Zigomanis becomes clear in the last few paragraphs of this deeply personal and authentic tale of an un-named fifteen-year-old Greek boy.  While essentially fiction, the author states in the Acknowledgements that he ‘grew up with mental health issues through the

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Memoir/Biography

I Am Tim by Peter Rees

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke In the book, I am Tim, Peter Rees uncovers the influences which shaped the life of politician Tim Fischer, whose resignation after three decades was greeted with an outpouring of emotion from all sides of politics. Peter Rees was federal political correspondent for Melbourne Sun News-Pictorial, West Australian and the Sunday

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Ned Kelly Awards 2023

The Australian Crime Writers Association (ACWA) has announced the shortlisted titles for the 2023 Ned Kelly Awards.  The shortlists for two of the categories include the following titles: Best debut crime fiction Wake (Shelley Burr, Hachette) The House of Now and Then (Jo Dixon, HarperCollins) How to Kill a Client (Joanna Jenkins, A&U) * Lenny Marks Gets Away with

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General Fiction

Roseghetto by Kirsty Jagger

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve Roseghetto is a poignant and powerful reminder that it is possible to escape the confines of a deprived childhood and, through the portal of books, find an alternative, happier life. In Kirsty Jagger’s first book, this is superbly shown in the main character of Shayla. She is the innocent victim of

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