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Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

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…)

Book Reviews

March 5, 2016

Ghost River

ghost_river_cover_200pxGhost River
Tony Birch
University of Queensland Press 2015
ISBN: 9780702253775
$29.95
294 pp

This wonderful novel by Tony Birch is like the river itself. It often flows gently, within defined banks, and occasionally overflows in violent flood, destructive and uncaring. In this, the river could be considered as the main character, around which the other characters ebb and flow.

The (other) main characters, viewed from the human perspective, are Ren and Sonny, two twelve-year-old boys living next door to each other in the Richmond area of Melbourne, near the Yarra River around the 1960s to ’70s. Sony is a bit like the uprooted trees that occasionally career down the river, a potential hazard. Ren becomes his best friend and tries to buffer Sonny’s behaviour. (more…)

Book Reviews

Ky!

Ky_cover-200pxKy!
Clancy Tucker
ISBN: 9780646932262
$15
95 pp
Clancy Tucker Publishing 2015

Clancy Tucker has written a delightful story of a teenage girl overcoming adversity.  Rida is an immigrant, a Muslim, and is bullied at school because of the way she looks and because she is regarded as a nerd.  She doesn’t fit in because she stands out.  In the process of trying to avoid her tormentors, she meets people who assist her in unexpected ways.

Rida also meets Ky, another girl who doesn’t fit in and who has a secret that eventually turns Rida’s life around completely.   This is a narrative very much of our time, dealing with issues of xenophobia and prejudice and how various people deal with these. (more…)