General Fiction

General Fiction

The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve A green-eyed talking ginger tabby is a quirky character to steer the reader’s attention into considering the value, importance and power of books. Fantasy, colourful and intriguing, equips a narrative that is both charming and thought provoking. Besides this well-read, even philosophical feline, who is able to quote from The Little

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General Fiction

The Kindness of Birds by Merlinda Bobis

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve The art work on its cover accompanied by a line of music with lyrics reading “It moves both ways And all ways – like breath” is a perfect intimation of the book’s content. The writer devoted much of the fourteen chapters to both the impact and importance of kindness, as essential

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General Fiction

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Reviewed by E.B. Heath Even some of the best crime authors are so plot oriented that, in the telling, prose styles become formulaic, train tracks for speedy storylines. And the crime stands alone, left unconnected to broader community issues, like a cryptic crossword writ large and woven into a simulated time and place.  None of

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General Fiction

Barcelona Dreaming by Rupert Thomson

Reviewed by Rod McLary Rupert Thomson’s love for the titular city illuminates Barcelona Dreaming. It was the city in which the author lived for six years, where “the ordinary things were magical, a source of pleasure,” but where, at the same time, “sophisticated urbanization faded into run-down concrete apartment blocks and burnt-out cars, areas of weed-choked

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General Fiction

Small Joys of Real Life by Allee Richards

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve Although I was not born in the past thirty years, the daily lives of the three young women whose lives are so graphically depicted in Small Joys of Real Life were truly absorbing. The novel tracks the progress of Eva’s pregnancy right up to when she is some days overdue. The

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General Fiction

The Rome Zoo by Pascal Janovjak

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve A title such as The Rome Zoo merely hints at, but does not reflect, the range and compelling nature of this wonderful novel.  The history of modern Italy, the relevance of the zoo, the concept of caging animals, all are touched upon in a clever, sometimes ironic, and brilliant manner. There

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General Fiction

Voyeur by Francesca Reece

Reviewed by Ian Lipke Becoming absorbed in this book is a near impossibility. The author loves the English language and can produce compelling description and tell a narrative in a style completely her own. But there are weaknesses in this story that make it very hard going. I found, for example, that I could not

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General Fiction

The Shut Ins by Katherine Brabon

Reviewed by E. B. Heath Loneliness Seeping into the rock Cicada’s voice Matsuo Basho Understanding yourself is hard enough but within the confines of a rigid culture, it becomes an exercise in excavation. It takes considerable effort to separate out deep inner aspirations and emotions from the norms of a culture and language in which

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General Fiction

The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlautin

Reviewed by E. B. Heath This novel is deceptively simple. It begins gradually, without drama or intrigue. You think about making a cup of coffee, unaware that momentum is piling up. Before you know it, you’re sitting on a roller coaster of compassion, caring, really caring, about Lynette. You follow her actions for two days

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General Fiction

The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock

Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve The title alone captures attention. The other side of beautiful could be many things, and in her fourth novel, Kim Lock has suggested some with a deftly assured and sensitive touch. Mercy Blain, a young woman in her thirties, has imprisoned herself in her home for two years, suffering crippling anxiety

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General Fiction

The Paris Collaborator by A. W. Hammond

Reviewed by Ian Lipke It’s an unusual opening to say the least. Auguste Duchene, former schoolteacher and proud Frenchman, in Paris in 1944, searching for and finding a missing baby, a German baby, offspring of a senior Nazi. It turns out that Duchene has found a means of survival, for he finds both French and

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General Fiction

Those Hamilton Sisters by Averil Kenny

Reviewed by Wendy Lipke Those Hamilton Sisters is the first novel produced by mother of four, Averil Kenny. Like most successful first writers, she has written about what she knows. This story is created from many of her own experiences of motherhood, love, family bonds and growing up in the lush-enchanted tropics of Australia giving

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General Fiction

The Others by Mark Brandi

Reviewed by Rod McLary The title of this book – The Others – immediately suggests a ‘them versus us’ scenario and that is exactly what it is.  But, in this book, the ‘us’ is an eleven-year-old boy and his father and the ‘them’ while never clearly identified are always present – a little like shadows

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General Fiction

The Other Half of You by Michael Mohammed Ahmad

Reviewed by Rod McLary In 2018, Michael Mohammed Ahmad won the NSW Premier’s Multicultural Literary Award for his novel The Lebs [also reviewed in these pages]; and, later that year, the novel was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. The Lebs told the story of Bani Adam as he negotiated issues such as cultural

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General Fiction

The Man with the Silver Saab by Älexander McCall Smith

Reviewed by Richard Tutin I am very partial to books written by Älexander McCall Smith. I am also partial to vintage and veteran cars. So when McCall Smith’s latest book features a venerable Saab car then, in the line from a current car TV ad, “I’m In”. The Man with the Silver Saab is the

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