Thinking Allowed - Including musings by Daan Spijer.

Book Reviews

July 7, 2019

Fragmented Past

The Fragments
Toni Jordan
Text Publishing, 2018
ISBN: 9781925773132
336 pp

Many authors turn out
variations of the same book with each new offering, or a continuation of a
well-practised style and flavour. Toni Jordan is not one of these. The Fragments is fresh and very different from all her previous novels in its structure, style and story. (more…)

Book Reviews

November 12, 2018

A Ghostly Shade of Pale

 A Superior Spectre
Angela Meyer
ISBN: 9781925183917
370 pp
Ventura/Simon & Schuster 2018

A sensitive and susceptible reader could turn a ghostly shade when reading this book. It is otherworldly in more ways than it initially appears.

Angela Meyer has produced a work that on superficial reading is entertaining and intriguing but allows for contemplation of and rumination on deeper issues. (more…)

Book Reviews

August 1, 2018

Is it Really Life?

Jay Kristoff
ISBN: 9781760295691
398 pp
Allen & Unwin 2018

This is a modern novel set, like so many others, in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world. It is inhabited by a large cast, both human and non-human. However, Lifel1k3 is not about analysing the causes of wars and other violence or even about how people survive these. This novel is about questions of identity, memory, being/not being; and relationship (more…)

Book Reviews

July 21, 2018

He is Mine

He Is Mine and I Have No Other
Rebecca O’Connor
ISBN: 9781786892591
230 pp
Canongate 2018

A teenage girl (fifteen years old) in rural Ireland at the close of the twentieth century, Lani struggles to make sense of the people and the world around her and how it all relates to her. Fairly standard fare for a novel about – and for – young adults.

Rebecca O’Connor has crafted a fine work with rounded, believable characters. Lani tells her story in her own words and describes vicissitudes of dealing with parents, girls at school, rules, expectations and the boy she decides is hers, even before she has properly met him.

“He used to walk by our house every day at the same time, up past Molly’s house to the cemetery.” (more…)

Book Reviews

July 6, 2018


Brendan Lawley
ISBN: 9781925603583
309 pp
Text Publishing 2018

To an older, white male living in a ‘genteel’ suburb of Melbourne (Australia), some other suburbs and some rural towns can look and sound like a foreign country. Bonesland unfolds in such a ‘foreign’ setting.

Most of the characters are teenagers, in themselves members of a foreign group to this reader. The narrator, a sixteen-year-old white boy, ‘suffers’ from a form of OCD and may be somewhere on the autism spectrum or have mild Asperger’s. He has an older brother and a collection of disparate friends. One of these, Jimmy, mostly talks like an American rapper. Throw into this an older boy who relentlessly bullies Bones and an African-American female exchange student, and Brendan Lawley creates a potent first novel. (more…)

Book Reviews

June 24, 2018


Christopher Lappas
Ilura Press 2017
ISBN: 9781921325304
336 pp

One of the highest praises I can offer for a debut novel is, when I have finished reading it, to immediately hope that the author writes another one.

28 is the central character of this complex work and she is an enigma – to herself, to the narrator, Scribe, and to the reader. However, Christopher Lappas treats us to three other important and strong characters: Scribe himself, Scribe’s young son Andre and Scribe’s X. (more…)

Book Reviews

March 21, 2018

Where does she think she is?

Alison Evans
Echo Publishing, 2017
ISBN: 9781760404383
244 pp

There have been many novels about people with multiple personalities or split ones. This book is very different from any I’ve read – one character, one personality, multiple existences.

Alison Evans breaks new ground: as an author and in the creation of the characters who inhabit this gripping book. Alison identifies as genderqueer – she doesn’t identify as male or female and eschews the female and male third person personal pronouns, using ‘they’ instead. One of the characters in Ida’s world, Daisy, reflects this. (more…)

From the Kitchen

February 28, 2018

From the Kitchen #199

Convergent Diversity

When I was growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, there were only two genders and those who didn’t fit comfortably within either one or the other were labelled as ‘poofters’ or ‘lesbos’. There was no room for subtlety. I am so glad that we are moving away from that binary disrespect, because disrespect it was. (more…)

From the Kitchen

February 8, 2018

From the Kitchen #198

We cannot predict or properly imagine what our society will look and feel like when we stop trying to regard all people as the same and, instead, see each person as a human being: a unique expression of humanity.

Some of you reading the above will immediately protest that I am denying the equality of all people. I am not arguing for or against treating any other person as my equal. We use the word ‘equality’ too loosely, and it is wrong to treat every person equally in a society that cares about the welfare, health and happiness of all the people who are part of that society. (more…)

Book Reviews

November 1, 2017

The Dry

The Dry
Jane Harper
ISBN: 9781925481372
342 pp
Pan Macmillan 2016

A novel needs strong characters. These are usually human, sometimes animal. They are rarely the condition of the weather or a whole town.

In The Dry, Jane Harper manages to make of both the relentlessly hot drought and the oppressive rural Australian town two palpable characters that potently influence the thoughts and behaviours of the other, human, characters. The weather and the town are both portrayed as malevolent organisms. (more…)