Thinking Allowed - Including musings by Daan Spijer.

Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Book Reviews

November 28, 2016

Hearts set free

captive_prince_cover-200pxCaptive Prince Trilogy – Prince’s Gambit, Kings Rising
C S Pacat
Penguin Viking 2013-16
ISBN: 9780143799597 / 9780143799603 / 9780143799610
$19.99 each
262/376/341 pp

This trilogy is, at heart, a complex love story. We see it develop through the three books, heartrendingly and carnally. It is no ordinary romance, but one beset by intrigue, power, false starts and danger. (more…)

Book Reviews

October 19, 2016

Don’t Play with DNA

rat_city_cover-200pxRat City
Ree Kimberley
ISBN: 9780995387003
$3.99 (e-book)
Published by Maree Kimberley, 2016

Teens and adults inhabit different realities, ‘created’ from within – they see the world differently and react to it accordingly. These worlds often don’t meet, which makes it hard for adults to understand their teen children and vice versa. When these worlds intersect, there is some possibility of communication but that possibility is often hindered by walls of expectations and preconceptions. The adults have a longer lifetime of experience than the teens and use this to make themselves right. Sometimes it takes an ‘outside’ adult to help parents understand that what their teen child is telling them s/he is experiencing is a valid take on the world. (more…)

Book Reviews

September 23, 2016

That Sinking Feeling of Imminent Doom

the_island_will_sink-200pxThe Island Will Sink
Briohny Doyle
ISBN: 9780994606808
$29.99
299 pp
The Lifted Brow 2016

This book is a disaster and it had me from the beginning to the end. Actually, it is a collection of intertwined disasters: environmental, societal and personal; even a disastrous sinking into banality of the language portrayed, a sinking that we already see happening today in banal public utterances. (more…)

Book Reviews

September 14, 2016

Shining a Light on a Life

skylarking_cover_200pxSkylarking
Kate Mildenhall
ISBN: 9781863958301
$24.99
278 pp
Black Inc Books 2016

As writers, we are told to craft our stories with a clear narrative arc, which usually looks like a statistical normal distribution curve. We are also told that in every story something needs to change or the reader needs to be left changed by the story. As a consequence, readers usually expect these elements in the stories they consume. (more…)

Book Reviews

September 1, 2016

Classic Farce Hides the Pain

Our_Tiny_Useless_Hearts-200pxOur Tiny, Useless Hearts
Toni Jordan
ISBN: 9781925355451
$29.99
269 pp
Text Publishing 2016

Other reviewers seem to have focused on the farce aspects of this new novel by Toni Jordan and a classic bedroom farce it is. As a farce, the story is a well-paced romp with frequent and surprising twists and turns.

Many reviewers have labelled the book ‘romantic’. Whether it really is romantic depends very much on what that word means to you. There is little about the story I find romantic. The three couples and one interloper do not fit my idea of romance. They are self-obsessed, self-absorbed, cynical, jaded, tired and unhappy – none of this lends itself to romance in my world. (more…)

Book Reviews

August 22, 2016

Walking the Memory Lane

The_Memory_Code-200pxThe Memory Code
Lynne Kelly
ISBN: 9781760291327
$32.99
318 pp, including index, chapter notes and photos/illustrations
Allen & Unwin 2016

There are books that have the potential to change lives and this is one such. It is more than that: it starts to return dignity to non-literate peoples; and it puts into fresh perspective the orality of societies that were and still are frequently denigrated.

Lynne Kelly set out to write something quite different for her PhD dissertation: about animal behaviour and indigenous stories. At Stonehenge, she had an epiphany that led to an in-depth examination of non-literate societies. (more…)

Book Reviews

July 2, 2016

Holy Bible

Holy_Bible_cover-200pxHoly Bible
Vanessa Russell
ISBN: 9781742706269
$15
335 pp
Sleepers Publishing 2013

This is Vanessa Russell’s first novel and it is beautifully and thoughtfully crafted. It delves into the underbelly of a Christian religious cult that, like many such groups in real life, has internal frictions that threaten to tear it open; and they eventually do. (more…)

Book Reviews

May 16, 2016

Year of Wonders

Year_of_Wonder_cover_200pxYear of Wonders
Hannie Rayson
Harper Collins 4th Estate 2001
ISBN: 9781841154589
$19.99
320 pp

A novel set in the years of the Great Plague in England (1665-66) would not seem, at first blush, to be a ‘good read’. However, Geraldine Brooks surprises the reader.

Year of Wonders is set in the village of Eyam, in the Peak District of Derbyshire. In 1666, the village voluntarily quarantines itself – no-one to leave, no-one to enter – when plague (Yersinia pestis) arrives and starts felling the villagers. This is historically correct and some of the characters in the story are based on historical people. (more…)

Book Reviews

Hello, Beautiful!

Hello_Beautiful_cover_200pxHello, Beautiful!
Hannie Rayson
Text Publishing 2015
ISBN: 9781922182128
$29.99
320 pp

Autobiographies are stories – they contain truth, but they are still stories. How much truth they convey depends on the author – subject to accuracy of memory and to the courage to reveal personal matters. There is also the question of how much the autobiographer is prepared to include family, friends and enemies in the revelations. (more…)

Book Reviews

March 17, 2016

Dark Emu

Dark_Emu_cover_200pxDark Emu – Black Seeds: agriculture or accident
Bruce Pascoe
ISBN: 9781922142436
$35
175 pp, including index and extensive bibliography
Magabala Books 2014

Shortlisted: 2014 Victorian Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing

Bruce Pascoe is an extraordinary writer and he has crafted an extraordinary book. In Dark Emu he examines the history of Aboriginal relationships with the land as that history has been concocted over more than two centuries by European ‘invaders’. (more…)