Reviews by Shelley

  • Quiet and reflective

    by Shelley on 15/08/2014

    After a relationship breakdown and the death of her mother, artist Jen Vogel has taken refuge in her childhood hometown. Here she is content to sketch and paint the birds that visit her garden, care for the land that embraces her property and tutor a talented local teen to supplement her income, but unpleasant memories are revived when a young girl goes missing on her way home from school. Nearly four decades earlier, Jen's best friend Michael, and then her father, disappeared without a trace within days of each other and still there are no answers to what became of them.

    Nest is a gentle book, sharing the quiet rhythms of Jen's days and the turbulent memories of her past. It explores the themes of loss, grief, healing and growth, a cycle echoed in the environment in which Jen lives.

    The mystery of the missing children, and Jen's father's whereabouts, adds interest and a frisson of tension to what is otherwise a fairly introspective narrative.

    The language is evocative, with vivid observations of the flora and fauna that surrounds Jen's bush haven. Jen has a particular fascination with birds, with robins being her favourite.

    "The robins arrived last, splashing and fluffing, sending the other birds off. Their golden yellow was luminous at dusk, as if carrying the last gleams of the sun. Only now did they sing, with their sweet, piping whistle, and first thing in the morning. Their song was best suited to dusk and dawn - the in-between."

    Nest is a self possessed, thoughtful novel from Inga Simpson, author of Mr Wigg.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 29/07/2014

RRP  $27.99 $23.09
  • Emotionally charged and gripping

    by Shelley on 08/06/2014

    The Secrets in Silence, Nicole Trope's third book, is an emotionally charged and gripping novel.

    As Minnie stands in a bathroom stall, swaddling a mewling newborn infant in her scarf before placing her gently in the shopping bag she is carrying, Tara lies in a hospital bed, her head turned away from the concerned gaze of the doctor, the worried eyes of her father and stepmother and the frown of the policeman hovering in the doorway. 'Where is the baby?' they ask again and again, but Tara can't tell them anything... and Minnie, cradling a miracle, won't tell anyone.

    From the dramatic opening scene of this story I was hooked and couldn't put this intense, moving novel aside. With compassion, tenderness, and searing honesty, Trope exposes a young girl's anguish, a lonely woman's joy and the two shocking incidents that bind them.

    Each of the characters that help to tell this story take refuge in silence. While Tara feels she is literally unable to communicate, others elect to remain silent, Minnie to protect her love of baby Kate, Alicia to avoid confronting some uncomfortable truths, and Liam to avoid revealing his weakness. Eventually though, they must all find their voice in order to save each other, and themselves.

    There is a constant undercurrent of anticipation throughout the novel and this tension compensates for some of the minor plot contrivances which connect Tara and Minnie in the aftermath of Kate's birth. The brutality of the conclusion is unexpected and a happy ending is not assured for any of Trope's characters, speaking out will be just the first step.

    Like Nicole Trope's previous novels, The Boy Under the Table and Three Hours Late, The Secrets in Silence is an engrossing, affecting and poignant story I devoured in one sitting, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 28/05/2014

RRP  $29.99 $24.74
  • Wickedly wonderful!

    by Shelley on 30/07/2014

    ""Oh, we're such a caring school," the principal told me. Blah, blah. blah. Let me tell you the first thing I thought when I walked into that playground on that kindergarten orientation day was cliquey. Cliquey, cliquey, cliquey. I'm not surprised someone ended up dead. Oh, all right. I guess that's overstating it. I was a little surprised."

    Big Little Lies begins with a death at Pirriwee Public School during a Trivia Night fundraiser, but the details are concealed as the narrative shifts to a period six months previously to introduce Madeline, Celeste and Jane, along with their offspring, at the Kindy orientation day.

    It is at this inauspicious event that Jane's son, Ziggy, is accused of bullying a classmate, Amabella, triggering a sustained campaign of hysteria by her high powered mother, Renata, to punish Ziggy for denying being at fault. Madeline, a veteran of schoolyard politics and never one to shy away from controversy, chooses to side with Jane, supported by her best friend, the beautiful and wealthy mother of twin boys, Celeste and as such declares war.

    While the school drama escalates in the lead up to the Trivia Night, the three main protagonists have other important concerns to deal with. Madeleine's teenage daughter from her first marriage wants to go and live with her father and his new wife, Celeste is barely holding together her veneer of perfection, and Jane is hiding a shocking secret regarding the paternity of her son. These complex characters are so perfectly formed it seems likely I could meet them at the school gate. This is unfortunately true too of the 'blonde bob' brigade, whom I am all too familiar with having endured 11 years of primary school politics (with four more still to go).

    There is plenty of humour in this sharply observed novel of playground alliances, 'mummy wars' and domestic crises but as Moriarty slowly strips away the social veneer to explore truths about bullying, domestic violence, betrayal and infidelity its darker heart is exposed. As the tension builds, gossip swirls, secrets are revealed, alliances shift, and lies are found out. Ultimately of course the truth prevails, and the mysteries are resolved in the stunning climax.

    Part noir suburban mystery, part domestic drama, Big Little Lies is compulsive reading. Thought provoking, clever, witty and wonderful, this is another wickedly brilliant novel from best selling Australian author Liane Moriarty.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 22/07/2014

RRP  $32.99 $28.04
  • Quirky tale

    by Shelley on 25/06/2014

    A quirky tale of loss, grief and love, Lost and Found is a touching debut from Brooke Davis. It confronts the taboo's of death and aging with sharp observations and an unique sense of humour incorporating a madcap road trip, a one legged mannequin and stolen keyboard letters.

    The characters eccentricities are delightful. Seven year old Millie is endearing in all her precocious innocence, struggling to understand where people go when they leave. Karl, whose fingers never tire of typing love letters to his deceased wife, searching for his lost youth and vitality, and Agatha, whose shouty abrasiveness prevents her from feeling lonely and unloved.

    Charming and whimsical, poignant and wise, Lost & Found is a bittersweet reminder that though all things die, life is to be lived.


Publication Date: 24/06/2014

  • War is murder

    by Shelley on 26/07/2014

    An intriguing mystery set amongst the trenches of Gallipoli, A Fatal Tide is an impressive novel from debut author, Steve Sailah.

    Thomas Clare is just sixteen when he discovers his father's decapitated body under a tree in the paddock behind their home. The investigating Sergeant insists Constable First Class Jack Clare, a Boer war veteran, committed suicide, miscalculating the length of rope needed to hang himself, but it is obvious to Tubbie Terrier, an aboriginal tracker and family friend, that Jack was not alone when he died. A soldier's boot print on his father's face, and a hidden wartime document with a handwritten notation, are the only clues Thomas has to identify his father's killer and so with the idealism and optimism of youth, Thomas and his best friend Snow, enlist in the raging first World War to find Jack's murderer.

    " Oh, what an adventure it would be."

    A Fatal Tide tales place in perhaps one of the most unusual settings I have encountered in a mystery novel. Though it begins in the Queensland bush, the majority of the story is set in the trenches of Gallipoli barely a month after the historic ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Corps) landing in 1915.

    Sailah vividly illustrates what Thomas experiences after his arrival in Gallipoli. Like many of the men, and boys, who enlisted, Thomas and Snow had no real understanding of the horror of war, expecting adventure and easy victories, only to find themselves ankle deep in mud, corpses and gore, eating flyblown food, battling dysentery and under near constant enemy fire.

    It is only then that Thomas appreciates his naivete in going to war to search for the men who murdered his father, not that he is deterred, especially when it becomes obvious that the enemy lies not only across the wasteland of 'no man's land' but also somewhere amongst the trenches forged to protect him. Someone is desperate to recover the document in Thomas's possession which reveals the shocking truth about the events that led to the execution of 'Breaker' Morant thirteen years earlier in Africa.

    Despite the grim realities of circumstance, Sailah lightens the tone of the novel with a focus on the bonds formed between the men who fight side by side with Thomas and Snow, and the eccentricities of their characters - Teach, who spouts philosophy, and quick witted and loud mouth, Kingy. Humour also comes from Thomas and Snow's adulation of Sherlock Holmes and his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whom Sailah references often during the novel.

    Exploring the themes of duty, honour, mateship and humanity, Sailah weaves together a compelling story of war, friendship and murder in A Fatal Tide. It offers both an interesting mystery, and fascinating insight into the experiences of our Australian diggers in Gallipoli's trenches.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/08/2014

RRP  $32.99 $25.63
  • Compelling

    by Shelley on 28/06/2014

    Zoe is devastated when she learns that the disease she has battled her entire life has robbed her of the chance to have a child of own, so when her step sister, Nadia - already a mother to three healthy, adorable children - offers to be a surrogate for Zoe and her husband Lachlan, Zoe is thrilled and determined to make it work. Three years later, Nadia places a newborn baby girl in her sister's grateful arms but is she really prepared for the reality of letting the child, her daughter, go?

    Examining the ethical issues surrounding altruistic surrogacy, and the complications that can affect such arrangements, Let Her Go, by Dawn Barker, is an absorbing and thought provoking novel.

    Barker's characters are believable, ordinary people with familiar flaws and insecurities. My sympathies were torn between Zoe, desperate in her desire for a child, and Nadia, whose generous intentions are corrupted by an instinct she can't control. The author portrays these two women, and their decisions and actions, with extraordinary sensitivity and compassion, acknowledging the complicated situation that extends beyond simple judgements.

    "No one ever knows the effect on the future of the things we do now; we just have to do what we think is right at the time."

    In including the narrative of seventeen year old Louisa, Barker adds another layer of perspective to the issue and exposes the hubris of judging what is in a child's best interest. The author asks, what happens when the child's best interest conflicts with our own ability to provide it?

    Other issues touched on in Let Her Go included mental illness, disability and domestic violence. These elements help to both flesh out the characters, and the motivations for the choices they make during the story.

    Part family drama, part psychological thriller, the pacing of Let Her Go is ideal, with shifting timelines drawing out the subtle, but ever present, suspense. I was never entirely sure how the story would unfold, constantly anticipating the unknown.

    A compelling, poignant novel about motherhood, family, loss and love, Let Her Go is a story that is hard to let go of.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 24/06/2014

RRP  $29.99 $24.76
  • Wonderful period detail

    by Shelley on 07/06/2014

    The expanse of the glittering Sydney Harbour, known as The Blue Mile, is not all that separates Eoghan (Yo) OKeenan and Olivia Greene. An unskilled Irish labourer escaping a poverty stricken, abusive home with his young sister in tow and the daughter of a Viscount and talented costumire making her name in Sydney society, seem an unlikely couple but a chance encounter in the Royal Botanical Gardens forges an unconventional and turbulent romance. Set against a period of great celebration and Depression, Kim Kelly's The Blue Mile is an engaging story of life and love.

    Beginning in late 1929, the story of The Blue Mile unfolds through the alternate first person perspectives of Eoghan and Olivia.

    Though The Blue Mile is definitely a love story, it is very low key. Olivia and Eoghan's attraction to each other is immediate and mutual, but the couple spend hardly any time alone together over the course of the novel. With the lack of emotional intimacy between the pair I found didn't really feel their connection even though I believed in the issues that divided them, including their differences in class, wealth and faith.

    What I really loved about this story was the historical background to the novel, which is well integrated into the story. Set during the latter construction period of the Sydney Harbour Bridge I was fascinated by Yo's experience as a rivet catcher. The building of the 'Coathanger' was an extraordinary feat, taking 1,400 men, six million hand driven rivets and 53,000 tonnes of steel to build the the world's largest steel arch bridge over a period of eight years (1924-1932).

    The period was also a time of social unrest in New South Wales due to high levels of unemployment as a result of Britain calling in war loans, and political scandal, when the Premier, Jack Lang, was dismissed from government by the governor-general for his 'socialist' leanings. The economic and political fluctuations of the state have an impact on both Olivia and Yo, though in different ways.

    Just days before I read this novel I actually had dinner at The Rag and and Famish, a North Sydney pub mentioned several times in the story, with some fellow book bloggers, and that connection gave me a little thrill each time. Though I liked the protagonists of The Blue Mile, it was the period detail and the physical setting that appealed to me the most.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/05/2014

  • Contemporary Western Noir

    by Shelley on 18/08/2014

    The Broken Places is the third gripping book by Ace Atkins to feature former Army Ranger Quinn Colson, now Sheriff of Tebbehah County in rural northeast Mississippi.

    "I say it's hell being Sherrif in the same town as your family"

    Colson has to admit his younger sister, Caddy, is looking healthier and happier than she has in years, but he can't bring himself to trust it will last, especially since she has hooked up with pardoned ex-con turned preacher, Jamey Dixon. Convicted of murdering his girlfriend in a drug fueled rage, Dixon seems determined to prove he is a changed man, preaching forgiveness and redemption, but a trio of dangerous escaped criminals are headed Dixon's way, and they intend to retrieve what they believe to be theirs, come hell or high water.

    In a small town like Jericho, Colson's personal and professional lives inevitably tangle and in The Broken Places this conflict is at the heart of the story. Caddy, having recently turned her own life around, is convinced Dixon deserves a second chance. Quinn doesn't believe Dixon is a reformed man but is at a loss as to how to convince his sister she is making a mistake. As Colson stews about his sister's love life, the town gossips about his regular meetings with county undertaker/coroner, Ophelia, unaware Anna-Lee, Quinn's childhood sweetheart now married to someone else, makes regular visits to his bed.

    Few of the characters in The Broken Places are either entirely good or bad, Colson included, and it is this ambiguity that makes them so interesting. The veracity of Dixon's reform shifts as the story unfolds, and with the line between the truth and deception, lawfulness and justice often blurred, the reader is asked to make their own judgement about his, and others, behaviour.

    There is plenty of fast paced action in this installment with the murderous escapees making their way to Jericho. The violence in the story is amplified by the storm bearing down on the town. When a violent tornado touches down, ripping through the county, the aftermath leaves some broken, and others free to start again.

    Though Broken Places could conceivably be read as a stand alone, I wouldn't recommend it as familiarity with the primary characters adds depth to the story. I have grown quite fond of the series and am looking forward to the next installment. There is a frustrating years delay between each installments publication in the US and the Commonwealth, so while the fourth book, The Forsaken, is already available in some markets, it will be May 2015 until I will be able to get my hands on it.


Publication Date: 01/05/2014

  • Winsome rural romance

    by Shelley on 26/08/2014

    Continuing her loosely linked series featuring the Fairburn family, Barbara Hannay presents Moonlight Plains, an engaging romance which blends a contemporary and historical narrative.

    In 1942, as the Japanese threaten the coast of North Queensland, nineteen year old Kitty Martin is sent to Moonlight Plains, the home of her widowed great uncle, far west of Townsville. Kitty, frustrated to be thwarted in her desire to assist in the war effort, is only in residence for a few weeks when two US airmen, blown off course, are forced to ditch their planes at the isolated property, and she finds herself facing tragedy... and heartbreak.
    Nearly seventy years later, Kitty is glad her grandson is restoring the faded grandeur of the homestead at Moonlight Plains and quietly pleased that her young friend Sally Piper, a journalist, has taken an interest both in the project, and Luke Fairburn. Kitty only hopes that with the restoration of the past, she can keep hidden her own long held secret that could ruin everything.

    Kitty's wartime narrative reveals a bittersweet love story, of risks taken and hearts broken. Kitty's 70 year old secret is easily guessed but I really liked her storyline which is sweet and poignant and I felt for Kitty confronted with a difficult choice in a difficult time.

    The development of Sally and Luke's contemporary relationship follows a familiar path, their physical attraction eventually leads to deeper feelings though neither are willing to admit it. I could understand Sally's hesitance, though I thought the specific reason for her feelings of guilt was an odd aside.

    I didn't think Luke's reaction to his grandmother's secret was entirely in keeping with his character. A moment of pique I could understand but his hurt feelings, even in light of his relationship with Sally, seemed excessive. Laura's reaction to the cache of secret letters written by her father to Kitty was more believable given she lacked the context of the relationship and was still grieving both her father's passing and bitter over her recent marital breakdown.

    I often forget that WW2 was also fought on our shores (I've complained before about the failure of the Australian curriculum to focus on the conflicts that occurred on our own soil when I was at school) and so I appreciated the brief glimpse from Hannay of its effects on Townsville and its residents. I also found it easy to visualise the restored grandeur of the old Queenslander at Moonlight Plains, nestled within its bush setting.

    A winsome novel, Moonlight Plains seamlessly weaves together a lovely story of love lost and gained. This is another delightful rural romance from Barbara Hannay, following on from Zoe's Muster and Home Before Sundown.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 27/08/2014

  • Intense and emotional

    by Shelley on 19/07/2014

    "I hate you. My first letter, and that is all I want to say. I hate you. But those three words can barely convey the depth, the breadth, the soaring height of this hatred."

    Letters To My Daughter's Killer by Cath Staincliffe is a story of grief, anger and heartbreak, beginning with the brutal murder of a young wife and mother and exploring the consequences for those that loved her.

    It unfolds in a series of letters written by Ruth Sutton to the man who bludgeoned her precious daughter, Lizzie, to death, four years earlier. In a desperate bid to recover some equilibrium, Ruth hopes that by writing to the killer, and asking him for answers to the questions that haunt her, she can purge herself of the fury that threatens to destroy her soul.

    As Ruth relives the horror that began with a phone call, Staincliffe portrays the raw reactions of a grieving mother to her daughter's violent murder with skill and compassion, exposing the shock and bewilderment which slowly gives way to anger and heartache as Ruth is forced to deal with the strain of the aftermath, including caring for her young grand daughter, and the police investigation, the killer's capture, and the trial that follows.

    Intense, shocking and poignant, Letters to My Daughter's Killer is an emotionally taxing read.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 17/04/2014

  • Compelling crime fiction

    by Shelley on 22/05/2012


    Linked to The Brotherhood, the stunning debut by Australian crime author, and ex-police officer, Y.A. Erskine, The Betrayal is as equally compelling.

    "Not drunk. Had sex. No hangover. No memory."

    It's been two weeks since Constable Lucy Howard shared a celebratory drink with a trusted colleague, Special Operation Group officer Nick Greaves and woke up naked in his bed with no idea what happened in between. Blaming one too many drinks Lucy fled, disgusted with herself for betraying her boyfriend and decided to forget it ever happened. It's not until she is taking the statement of a victim of sexual assault that she realises that Nick had drugged and raped her and takes the extraordinarily brave step of making an official complaint against the popular constable. In a case of he said/she said, Lucy's allegation rocks the Tasmanian police force to it's core, exposing an ugly vein of misogyny, corruption and betrayal.

    The Betrayal is linked to The Brotherhood primarily by its cast, Lucy Howard, for example, was the rookie constable who was partnering Sergeant John White when he was killed in the line of duty. Erskine also picks up threads of the story left unfinished in The Brotherhood, giving us some insight in to the longer term fall out for those involved in the case, including the perpetrator. The same format is used to tell the story, a third person narrative divided amongst thirteen characters, many of them familiar such as Detective Will Torino, the journalist, Tim Roberts, and Constable Cameron Walsh. As the story unfolds, the shifts in view provide a different perspective of not only the case involving Lucy and Nick but also a wider view of the force as Erskine continues to explore corruption in the police force.

    The Betrayal is as confronting as The Brotherhood, perhaps more so because of the nature of the incident and Erskine's brutal honesty about the legal outcomes for victims of sexual assault. Lucy is well aware that prosecution is unlikely but decides that as a police officer, and for her own peace of mind, she must report Nick no matter the consequences. As an elite member of SOG, Nick has an enviable status amongst the force, on top of which he is handsome and charming. Much like in any sexual assault case, stereotypical attitudes come in to play and are exacerbated by the status of the defendant. Lucy is accused of false reporting, targeted in a smear campaign, harassed and physically threatened. Nick's mates rally to protect not only his reputation but also their own secrets and I honestly felt sick at a scene where a few of Lucy's female colleagues trash her gleefully. When I learnt that the initial events of The Betrayal are a thinly veiled admission of an incident in Erskine's own eleven year police career I was stunned. Erskine confesses she decided not to press charges against her assailant, certain her case wouldn't have stood a chance and unwilling to be further victimised by the media, the system and her colleagues. Lucy's story then is a case of 'what if?' and unfortunately, as disturbing as it is, I think it's entirely possible it would have been much worse than what Erskine has imagined.

    The Betrayal is a confronting but utterly compelling novel, Erskine exposes the underbelly of policing that society prefers to remain ignorant of. Dark, gritty and raw I was fascinated and repulsed in almost equal measure. This is a stunning piece of crime fiction and I recommend The Betrayal, and The Brotherhood, without reservation.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/05/2012

RRP  $32.99 $7.49
  • Mystery, romance , history and more

    by Shelley on 08/07/2014

    Colours of Gold by Kaye Dobbie, also known as Sara Bennett and Lilly Sommers, is a captivating tale combining mystery, romance, history and a touch of 'other'.

    With the narrative alternating between the past and the present, Colours of Gold tells the story of a small girl found near death in a sealed barrel in the Murray River in 1867 and her connection to a present day art restorer's discovery of a Trompe L'oeil in an old Melbourne hotel scheduled for demolition.

    From the opening chapters of the historical timeline I was intrigued by the mysteries introduced by the author, namely the identity of the young girl rescued from the river, her extraordinary ability to see colours (aura) that warn her of a persons mood, misfortune or illness, and her fear of a tall man in a long dark coat that haunts her, day and night. Moving from the banks of the Murray, through the dusty streets of gold rush towns and finally to Melbourne, Dobbie deftly evokes the character and landscape of the historical period as Alice, and friend Rosey, struggle to escape their dark pasts, in hopes of creating a brighter future.

    In the contemporary timeline, Annie Reuben is excited by the challenge presented by the conservation of the Trompe L'oeil found in the basement of the old Goldminer Hotel and intrigued by the people and the scenes it depicts, especially the figures of two young girls in the foreground. Despite the threat of interference by History Victoria, and a looming financial crisis, Annie is determined to solve the mystery of the painting, and find out what the sudden appearance of a man in a long dark coat means for her, and her daughter.

    Well written, I thought the alternating chapters were particularly well structured, each advancing the story and merging neatly at the conclusion. Suspense is built carefully during the course of the novel, with the pace quickening as Alice and Annie get closer to solving the mysteries that concern them.

    An entertaining and interesting novel, with appealing characters, I was surprised at how quickly I became invested in the story of Colours of Gold and how reluctant I was to put it down. This was a great read for me.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/04/2014

RRP  $29.99 $11.90
  • Superb crime fiction

    by Shelley on 09/06/2014

    Present Darkness is the fourth superb instalment in Malla Nunn's Detective Emmanuel Cooper series. This unique crime series, set during the 1950's in apartheid ruled South Africa, has become one of my favourites, and Present Darkness is Nunn's best yet.

    It is a few days before Christmas, 1953 and Cooper is fast losing patience with his colleagues in the Johannesburg major crimes squad. While the temporary transfer from Durban allows him to see Davida and their baby daughter Rebekah every day, he is wary of his boss, Lieutenant Walter Mason who seems far to interested in what Cooper does in his off time. Called to a vicious beating of a white couple, a high school principal and a secretary at the office of land management, Cooper is surprised when their teenage daughter blames Aaron Shabalala, the youngest son of his best friend and Zulu Detective Constable Samuel Shabalala, for the brutal attack. From the first things don't seem to add up, but Mason isn't interested in Cooper's doubts and insists the girls identification closes the case. Cooper, who owes Shabalala his life, can't let it rest though and with the help of Dr. Daniel Zweigman, he begins an investigation of his own.

    Cooper's inquiry leads him from the violent slum in which he was raised to a dusty farm on the outskirts of Pretoria. He encounters thieves, corrupt cops, pimps, murderers and an abducted prostitute in his drive to prove Aaron Shabalala's innocence. Full of twists and turns, complicated by Cooper's need to avoid alerting Mason to his unsanctioned investigation and his desire to protect his family, the plot is fast-paced and tension filled. Cooper, as always, follows the evidence wherever it leads him, no matter the threat or danger, ably assisted by Shabalala and Zweigman.

    As I've written before, the cultural framework of the novel is what really sets this series apart from other crime fiction I have read. Apartheid affects every facet of life for South Africans, and Nunn doesn't shy away from exposing the appalling inequalities of the period. Having experienced life on both sides of the colour line, Cooper is more aware of the arbitrary injustice based on skin colour than most and refuses to let apartheid compromise his job or his personal life. In 1953, Cooper's relationship with Davida, a mixed race woman, is illegal and he is conscious that she, and their daughter, is a vulnerability his enemies could easily exploit.

    As with Nunn's last book, Silent Valley (published in the US as Blessed Are the Dead), I read Present Darkness in single sitting. Skilfully crafted with an intriguing plot and superb characterisation, Malla Nunn's Detective Emmanuel Cooper series should be on everybody's reading list.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/06/2014

RRP  $24.99 $20.58
  • Powerful and gripping

    by Shelley on 17/07/2014

    An atmospheric psychological drama, Swimming in the Dark, the fourth novel by award-winning New Zealand writer Paddy Richardson, explores the themes of family, oppression, fear and the strength it takes to rise above them.

    Set in New Zealand, this contemporary, haunting tale unites four women, Serena and her sister Lynette, and school teacher Ilse Klein and her mother, Gerda, struggling against a legacy of fear, shame and guilt.

    Fifteen year old Serena Freeman is the youngest child of a family with a reputation for wildness and petty criminal behaviour in the suburbs of Otago. Studious and quiet, she has tried hard to avoid being tarred with the same brush, hoping to one day escape and create a new life, as her eldest sister, Lynnie, did seven years before. When Serena disappears no one seems to care but Lynette returns to Alexandra to search for her, determined to uncover the secrets her younger sister has been hiding.

    Their worlds collide when Ilsa inadvertently learns Serena's secret, a secret that revives terrible memories for Gerda of her time in Stasi Germany.

    Beautifully written, this is a complex and gripping novel which I couldn't put down. I'm loathe to reveal this story's secrets, and at a loss to articulate its power other than to say I was held captive by the undercurrent of suspense, moved by the character's struggles, and stunned by the novel's conclusion.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/07/2014

RRP  $29.99 $24.27
  • Poignant and gripping

    by Shelley on 25/07/2014

    Elizabeth is Missing by debut author Emma Healey is a poignant and gripping mystery about loss, memory and murder.

    The narrative unfolds from the unique perspective of Maud Horsham, an eighty two year old mother and grandmother, suffering from progressive dementia. Maud relies on carefully written notes, and daily visits from a carer and her daughter Helen, to remember the things she forgets, but increasingly Maud's concerns have narrowed to the lack of contact from her closest friend, Elizabeth. While Helen, and others, dismiss her fears as a senile obsession, Maud is convinced something awful has happened and embarks on an investigation to find her missing friend.

    Told with extraordinary insight into the complexities of a failing mind I was effortlessly drawn into Maud's muddled world. It is not an easy space to inhabit, especially if you have witnessed a similar decline in a loved one as I have, or fear a similar fate, as I do. Fleeting instances of lucidity add to the poignancy of the narrative as Maud slips between the past and the present, between remembering and forgetting.

    Entwined with Maud's search for Elizabeth, and her everyday struggle with her failing memory, is a second narrative that reveals in 1946 Maud's married older sister, Sukey, vanished without a trace. It soon becomes clear that Maud's fears for her missing friend, Elizabeth, are tangled with the memories of Maud's sister's disappearance, and to solve one mystery, will be to solve the other.

    The suspense of both mysteries are well maintained through out the novel and the past and present narratives flow seamlessly into each other. Despite the distressing nature of Maud's illness there are also moments of humour which helps to temper the bleak realities.

    A clever and compelling novel, I thought Elizabeth is Missing was an engrossing read with an unforgettable protagonist. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 28/05/2014

  • Rewarding conclusion

    by Shelley on 05/06/2014

    The Caller is the rewarding conclusion to Juliet Marillier's Shadowfell trilogy, in which Neryn and her allies finally confront King Keldec in a battle to reclaim Alban from his despotic rule.

    Picking up where Raven Flight left off, Neryn is continuing her quest to complete her training with the Guardians before the planned Midsummer rebellion. As winter approaches Neryn joins the the Guardian of the Air, but the White Lady is fading and when her haven is destroyed, Neryn is forced to move on. Though Neryn still needs to seek the wisdom of the Master of Shadows, time is running out and when she learns of the horrifying new threat to the rebellion, Neryn has no choice but to enter Keldec's court.

    One of the strengths of this series has been Marillier's characterisation of the principles, Neryn and Flint and their struggle to reconcile their own conscience and behaviour with their need to serve the greater good. Never is the conflict more clear than when Neryn is forced to witness the King and Queen's cruelty in Keldec's stronghold, and remain silent. Despite the personal cost, Neryn has be hold strong, trust in herself and her allies, in order to defeat the King and his dark forces.

    Flint is near his breaking point in The Caller, struggling with the deeds he has had to commit as an Enforcer in order to provide the rebellion with what they need. Marillier explores his conflict with authenticity and compassion.

    Though there is never any doubt that Neryn and her allies will prevail, the final confrontation is as stirring as to be expected with impassioned speeches by Flint, Tali and Neryn, and a violent conflict that leaves several of the characters the reader has come to know and love dead on the battlefield. It is a rousing finale.

    Overall, the Shadowfell Trilogy is an enjoyable young adult series and The Caller provides a fine conclusion to Juliet Marillier's tale of fantasy and adventure.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/06/2014

RRP  $19.99 $16.45
  • fast paced, octane fuelled thrill ride

    by Shelley on 22/08/2014

    Steve Worland's newest novel, Quick, is a fast paced, octane fuelled thrill ride set in the exciting world of international motor sport.

    After a spectacular career ending crash, former V8 Supercar driver Billy Hotchkiss joined the police force hoping for opportunities to sate his craving for the adrenalin rush racing once gave him and when he stumbles across a diamond heist in action, he doesn't hesitate to jump into the fray. Billy's heroics captures the attention of Interpol who think he is the ideal candidate to track down the diamond thieves, convinced the Melbourne heist is connected to a series of diamond thefts by a crew associated with the Formula 1 World Championship. Billy, along with his reluctant partner, Claude, is sent in undercover, joining the 'Iron Rhino' racing team, and they begin closing in on the criminals, only to uncover an explosive secret. Suddenly, Billy and Claude find themselves racing along the streets of Monte Carlo to save thousands of spectators before everything crashes and burns.

    Though I am not generally a fan of motor sport, I was caught up in the fast paced excitement from the opening pages of Quick. From Billy's spectacular crash on Mount Panorama to his surfing an armoured truck being dragged down Melbourne's busy streets and later sliding down the roof of the Mall of Emirates while being chased by a Uzi wielding diamond thief, the action is non stop both on and off the track. There are explosions, gunfights, car chases and car races, plus a black panther and a damsel in distress.

    Worland's fearless hero, Billy, is a likeable protagonist, forthright with a dry Aussie sense of humour. He misses the adrenaline rush of racing and, having survived a near fatal accident, isn't afraid to take risks as he tries to stop 'The Three Champions' in their tracks. Billy is teamed with veteran Interpol agent Claude, a dour Frenchman who is initially unhappy with the assignment and his reckless new partner, but eventually see's things Billy's way.

    I compared Worland's Velocity to Con Air and Combustion to Die Hard 4, Quick could perhaps be described as a cross between The Fast and the Furious and Speed Racer, but there really isn't anything quite like this on the big screen and there probably should be.

    Quick is the perfect Father's Day gift for race fans or anyone who appreciates a rip-roaring and racy adventure thriller. Take Quick for a spin, and enjoy!

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 27/08/2014

  • Funny, moving

    by Shelley on 10/07/2014

    In 2008, Clint Greagen resigned from his job as a youth worker to care for his first born child. Nine years later Clint is a stay at home dad of four young boys, Archie, Lewis, Tyson and Maki, and the author of Reservoir Dad, about his adventures in full-time parenting, first chronicled on his popular blog of the same name.

    Written with humour, honesty and love, Reservoir Dad shares the exhausting challenges and unadulterated joys of raising four sons, from the seemingly endless sleepless nights, and a bathroom floor covered in wee, to the smell of a newborn head and wrestling matches in the lounge room. What I admire most is Greagen's obvious dedication to his sons, and his relationship with his wife, the ever-patient Reservoir Mum (aka Tania), with whom he still shares a weekly date night, on a mattress in front of the TV.

    As a stay at home mother, also to four children (three of whom were born in three years), I could certainly relate to Greagen's experiences of parenting. I found myself giggling in recognition of the moments of crazy and wincing in well remembered sympathy at toddler tantrums and the lego induced injuries, which happens less often now that my youngest son is 8.

    Divided into six parts with short chapters variously named with titles like 'Hang Like A Man'; 'Syncing Hormonally'; 'The Grand Old Duke of...Puke?' and 'A Jim Carrey-Inspired Sex Education' Reservoir Dad is a quick, easy read.

    Funny, moving and insightful, Reservoir Dad would be the perfect gift for new parents, both as a warning of what is to come, and an assurance they are not alone.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/07/2014

RRP  $32.99 $28.04
  • graceful and captivating

    by Shelley on 05/08/2014

    Jessie Cole’s second novel, Deeper Water, is a graceful, captivating novel introducing Mema, a young woman who lives a simple life with her mother in a remote valley in Northern New South Wales.

    Mema is twenty two but, having spent most of her life isolated from wider society, has an innocence more befitting a young teenager, happiest running barefoot in the rain with her only friend, Anja, or watching the sky lighten at dawn. She is not uneducated but is unworldly, with little curiosity about what lies beyond the boundary of the family property. She is naive but not unknowing, aware of her mother’s reputation for promiscuity, but uninterested in men or relationships. But everything begins to change for Mema when rescues a stranger, Hamish, from the flooded creek and slowly her ‘unknowns become knowns’.

    They say every hero has to leave home, but what those first steps are like I’m yet to know”

    Deeper Water beautifully explores Mema’s belated coming-of-age, her growing awareness of herself, of her desires, and of what the outside world may have to offer her. Mema is a richly drawn character struggling with the emotional changes Hamish’s presence awakens, and the way they affect her relationships, with her family, Anja and a neighbour, Billy, in particular.

    Deeper Water is also about connection, or the lack there of. Mema is intimately connected to the landscape in which she lives, and the family she loves, but divorced from the wider world. Hamish, despite being horrified by Mema’s lack of internet and mobile access, can claim no real anchor, and despite his environmental credentials, has little connection to the land.

    The landscape in which Deeper Water is set has character of its own and is brought to life by Cole’s evocative descriptions.

    “At dusk the creek takes on a certain colour. velvety brown. Without the dapples sunshine, its depths are muted and mysterious and all the creatures seem to come to the surface. The catfish linger on their nests and the eels float by like black ribbons. The turtles perch on the flats of exposed rocks and the kingfishers fly past like the brightest of tailsmans.”

    With its simple yet elegant prose, and quiet yet deeply felt emotion, Deeper Water is a mesmerising story about a young woman’s awakening to the possibilities of love and life.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/08/2014

RRP  $29.99 $24.74
  • Provocative techno thriller

    by Shelley on 19/06/2014

    Skinjob is an entertaining techno-action thriller written by Australian author Bruce McCabe. Initially a self published work, Skinjob found its way into the hands of one of London's most prestigious literary agents and has since been picked up by Bantam Press (Random House).

    In Skinjob, Daniel Madsen, one of only a handful of FBI agents trained to use hand held lie detector units, is tasked to assist in the investigation of the bombing of a 'Dollhouse', a brothel offering the services of life like automatons, known as 'skinjobs' in San Francisco. With twelve dead, including two police officers, and fears of another attack, Madsen is under pressure to identify whoever is responsible and make an arrest. The obvious suspects are among the country's fastest growing church, the New Christian Church of America, who have been vocal in their public damnation of skinjobs and their creator, DreamCon, but as Madsen digs deep into the case, with the help of SFPD video surveillance operative, Shahida Sanayei (Shari), he uncovers a twisted collision of exploitation, corporate greed and corruption.

    Madsen, an agent with a strong belief in justice and a dry sense of humour, is an appealing protagonist. His job as a 'plotter' isn't popular with his colleagues and his investigation is hampered by their mistrust. Madsen however is relentless in his pursuit of truth and when alerted to an anomaly in the case by Shari, he is determined to follow it up, no matter the consequences.

    Short chapters, cinematic writing and a tight plot create a fast paced story. The action takes place over six days and includes exciting twists and turns as the investigation plays out.

    Skinjob is not just a mindless action thriller though, McCabe touches on themes such as privacy and integrity by making the technology utilised by Madsen and the police a feature of the investigation. The technology is not too far ahead of our own - super surveillance provided by a huge network of public and private cameras, intelligent facial/body recognition software and hand held polygraph machines.

    McCabe also explores issues surrounding the sex industry and corporate religion and the ways in which both exploit their clients vulnerabilities for financial gain, and use their huge profits to manipulate political decisions.

    I enjoyed Skinjob, finding it to be an engaging thriller exploring a provocative near future reality. With this impressive debut, I look forward to McCabe's next novel.


Publication Date: 02/06/2014

  • In hindsight, a great read!

    by Shelley on 21/08/2014

    Melanie Casey's debut novel, Hindsight, has been on my wishlist since its release. It is the first book in a series to feature Cass Lehman, a woman with the psychic gift of retrocognition, and South Australian police detective, Ed Dyson.

    For almost a decade, Cass Lehman has lived more or less like a recluse in the home she shares with her mother and grandmother. Travel is difficult when her gift of retrocognition means that when she passes over a place where someone has died in a violent or traumatic manner, Cass experiences their final horrifying moments. Now twenty eight and tired of her self imposed exile, Cass decides it is time to confront her demons and takes a huge risk by offering her services to the local police department after a woman is found murdered in an alleyway. The lead detective on the case, Ed Dyson, is scornful until Cass makes the connection between a handful of missing person cases and murders that has eluded Dyson for years, and the pair find themselves on the trail of a serial killer.

    Cass's ability is intriguing, and can be viewed as both a gift and a curse. She pays a high price for her 'gift', since she not only sees and hears what the victims experienced but also feels the physical pain and emotional trauma they suffered. I really like that Cass's talent isn't always useful, since Cass can only see what the victim saw in their last moments when the killer strikes from behind, for example, she isn't able to offer much to a investigation.

    The initial partnership between Cass and Ed is not an easy one. Ed is still struggling with the unsolved disappearance of his pregnant wife two years previously and doesn't have the patience to humour Cass given his skepticism. Cass resents Ed's easy dismissal of her, both because she believes she can help and because she is attracted to the detective.

    Casey alternates between the first person perspective of Cass and third person perspectives from Ed, and the killer the pair are hunting. It's an unusual narrative split but works well and I barely noticed the transitions. The plot is well crafted, and crucially Casey doesn't allow the paranormal element to overwhelm the structure of a good crime novel. The pacing of the story is good with a tense, and somewhat gruesome, climatic ending that threatens the lives of both the protagonists.

    Combining crime fiction with an interesting paranormal element and a touch of romance, I really enjoyed reading Hindsight. I'd particularly recommend it those who find the genre mix appealing and who might have liked Charlaine Harris's Harper Connelly series. I'm looking forward to following Hindsight up with Casey's second book, Craven.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/05/2014

RRP  $22.99 $19.55
  • Well told domestic drama

    by Shelley on 19/07/2014

    When Liz Byrski turned fifty she keenly felt the lack of literature that reflected the lives of women in mid life, and drawing on her experience as a journalist and freelance writer, set out to change that by writing the sort of books that she wanted to read.

    Family Secrets is Liz Byrski's eighth fiction novel, a story about love, regrets, forgiveness and redemption.

    After a long, debilitating illness, Gerald Hawkins passing is both a cause for sadness and relief for his wife Connie, and his adult children Kerry and Andrew. For decades they have lived their lives as Gerald, a dominant man, had wished them too and now that he is gone they are all forced to find their own way forward.

    Connie chooses to revisit her past, announcing her plans to go to England for an extended holiday, hoping to reconnect with the woman she was before she married Gerald and gave up her dreams to become a dutiful wife and mother in Tasmania, and to rekindle her relationship with her childhood best friend, and Gerald's sister, Flora, who has been estranged from the family for many years. Connie's journey is not what she imagined it would be however, especially when she is confronted with some home truths about the choices she made and the person she has become.

    Meanwhile her children are grappling with their changing futures. Andrew, disillusioned with his career and his marriage, is unsurprised to discover his wife's affair but determined to protect his teenage daughter, Brooke, from the fall-out. Kerry, harbouring long held resentment and guilt about her father is at a loss when he dies, and is left struggling with the symptoms of clinical depression.

    Byrski explores the way in which it is often difficult to be honest with ourselves, and others, and the corrosive nature of failing to accept the truth. Each main character in Family Secrets is challenged to reconcile their past and escape the shadow of Gerald's legacy by taking responsibility for the people whom they have become, and making changes that allow them to reconnect with the people they love.

    I thought Family Secrets was an engaging read, not especially gripping but a thoughtful and well told story of realistic domestic drama.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/07/2014

RRP  $29.99 $25.45
  • Entertaining..honestly

    by Shelley on 20/07/2014

    Nicholas J. Johnson, who works as a performer, writer and consultant, exposing the world of con artists to the public to better protect themselves, has drawn on his knowledge and experience to author Chasing the Ace, his entertaining debut novel.

    Told from dual first person narratives, Chasing The Ace introduces Richard, an ageing, world-weary con 'artiste' and Joel, a young, wannabe grifter who meet on the streets of Melbourne. Richard, contemplating retirement, decides to take Joel under his wing and the pair form a profitable alliance. Joel is eager to learn all he can, and is thrilled when the money starts rolling in, but when they accidentally scam an off duty cop, neither man is sure if they will be able to con their way out of trouble.

    The novel is fast paced, with enough excitement and a few surprising turns to maintain suspense. I have to admit I didn't predict the final twist, but found it a satisfying ending to the story, which also provides potential for a sequel.

    I thought the main protagonists were well developed, with interesting backgrounds and distinct voices. Richard is jaded and cynical, Joel is initially enthusiastic and idealistic though slowly becomes increasingly disillusioned by the realities of the lifestyle, having fed his expectations with a diet of classic con movies like 'The Sting' and 'Rounders'.

    I might have been more impressed overall had I not just finished binge watching the entire series of Leverage, an American TV program about a crew who pull off sophisticated and complex cons in each episode. By contrast, the cons run in Chasing the Ace seem inelegant and somewhat distasteful, even if far more realistic.

    A quick and entertaining read, I enjoyed Chasing the Ace...honestly.


Publication Date: 01/07/2014

  • Charming and Graceful

    by Shelley on 18/06/2014

    "Wanted: a feminine spirit quite undaunted by the world to work as a librarian for a gentleman and his books. Able to live with dogs and children. Preferably without work experience. Graduates and postgraduates need not apply."

    Miss Prudencia Prim, quite undaunted by her lack of experience with dogs and children, and in possession of a number of degrees, presents herself to the gentleman advertiser looking for someone to organise his extensive private library, secure in the knowledge that she is the right person for the job. It isn't until Miss Prim begins work for the eccentric Man in the Wing Chair, and spends time in the unusual village of San Ireneo de Arnois, that she begins to have doubts, not only about the job, but also all she thought she knew of the world.

    The Awakening of Miss Prim is a charming, contemporary tale with an old-worlde feel.

    The setting is a small Spanish village named San Ireneo de Arnois, home to those who have chosen to eschew modern life and dedicate themselves to building a self sufficient, close knit society which values intellectual debate, old-fashioned values and community. For the independent Miss Prim, village life is a challenge. Though she agrees with its principles in theory, she finds the inclusiveness almost claustrophobic.

    In The Man in the Wing Chair's employ, Miss Prim finds herself struggling with the continual challenges to those things she has always held as certainties, such as her disbelief that a ten year old child could accurately paint Rublev's icon from memory, to her disdain for the mystical tenets of religion. This is the awakening that the title of the book refers to, Miss Prim's discovery that no one has all the answers, least of all her.

    There is rather a lot of philosophical discourse, which will surely delight those who can recognise a Latin text by a single quote or enjoy obscure literary and cultural references. Usually I would dismiss this sort of thing as pretentious but in a village where the children visit the Tretyakov Gallery in Russia to study art and can quote Virgil's Aenaid, it somehow doesn't seem out of place.

    Yet for all Miss Prim's, and The Man in the Wing Chair's knowledge and education there are things neither of them really understand, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. The low key not-quite romance is strongly reminiscent of Jane Austen's Emma, a text referred to several times throughout the novel. Prim is of course Emma, too sure of herself and her world view, and The Man in the Winged Chair, the wise yet emotionally unavailable Mr Darcy.

    Though I didn't find The Awakening of Miss Prim to be a particularly easy or fast read, it has a undeniable grace and charm. I'd recommend it to lovers of literary classics, philosophy and learning.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 10/06/2014

  • Provocative and compelling

    by Shelley on 03/06/2014

    After twenty-five years of marriage, Banjo Murphy finally walks out on his wife, Jade, unable to forgive her for what seems to be yet another betrayal. Hours later his broken body is discovered by the side of the road, the victim of a hit and run, and his family is shattered by the unexpected loss. As Jade withdraws into silence, seeking solace in chemical oblivion, his youngest daughter, Melissa, seeks answers to the mystery surrounding her fathers deathand the truth about his life.

    Who was the Jade these lovers knew? What did her mother need to live beyond the confines of their family? What did she gain from all those other men? How much had her father known? Why had he stayed and what made him leave the night he died?

    With death, Banjo is finally in possession of the perspective that eluded him in life. Drifting in the ether he comes to understand his wifes behaviour and to forgive her the failings that tortured him during their marriage.

    I realise now it was as difficult for Jade to be who she was as it was for the rest of us to live with her

    But for his youngest daughter, Melissa, there is too much unsaid and unknown. With Jade refusing to talk, Lissy tries to find answers in her mothers sketchbook which chronicles the affairs Jade indulged in over the course of her parents marriage.

    I have conflicting feelings about Jade that are never fully resolved. I admire the way in which she is unapologetically true to her self, to her own needs and desires, regardless of the judgement of others. Yet Jades demand for freedom comes at a steep emotional cost to those that love her best, namely Banjo and their daughters.

    In exposing a woman who defies what is expected of her, Being Jade raises provocative questions about how authentic we truly are in our relationships with others, and with ourselves. The author challenges the notion of unconditional love, exploring the ways in which we narrow the definition to suit our own purposes, and how this family comes to understand and accept love isnt as simple and everyone wants it to be.

    A searing portrait of the complexities of love, intimacy and truth Being Jade is an eloquent and powerful piece of storytelling from author Kate Belle.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/06/2014

RRP  $29.99 $14.90
  • Solid crime fiction sequel

    by Shelley on 14/08/2014

    Deadly Obsession is the second crime novel from Karen M Davis to feature Detective Lexie Rogers.

    In the early hours of the morning a woman's body, clutching a long stemmed red rose, is discovered on Clovelly Beach. The empty packet of OxyContine in her pocket suggests a drug overdose as the cause of death but Lexie is sure the scene is staged. When the initial stages of the investigation implicates her ex-husband in the woman's murder, Lexie is shocked, but as she and her partner, Brad Sommers, continue to dig they unearth a worrying chain of connections that for Lexie are too close to home.

    Deadly Obsession is, in part, a police procedural, exposing Lexie and Brad's investigation as they chase leads and search for evidence to identify the elusive killer, but also includes elements of psychological suspense, action and a touch of romance. The story is tightly plotted, though I thought the links between Lexie and the key characters were just a little too neat and convenient. My early suspicions regarding the murderer were proved right but I was swayed by the red herrings laid down by Davis at times and surprised by some of the connections that were eventually revealed.

    I am glad that Lexie seems less anxious in Deadly Obsession. Though still at risk from panic attacks related to previous events, and distressed by her recent break up with Josh (Detective Josh Harrison) who fled to Bali to bury himself in the bottle after the death of his sister, Jenna, Lexie is stronger and more focused. She works the case with attention to detail and stands up for herself against Brad's doubts. I didn't agree with all of her decisions though, some of which, like not reporting the threats made against her, seemed a bit disingenuous for a police officer.

    While it isn't strictly necessary to have read Sinister Intent before embarking on this sequel, I think it would be worth your time. A solid example of Australian crime fiction, Deadly Obsession is an enjoyable and engaging read and I look forward to seeing how Davis continues to develop the series.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 01/08/2014

RRP  $29.99 $23.39
  • Outstanding Aussie Crime Fiction

    by Shelley on 30/05/2014

    St Kilda Blues is a fine example of Australian crime fiction that combines outstanding character with accomplished storytelling, and I recommend it, and the entire series, without hesitation.


Publication Date: 28/05/2014

RRP  $29.99 $25.49
  • For language lovers, or pedantics

    by Shelley on 08/08/2014

    The Aitch Factor by Susan Butler, a long-time editor of the Australian Macquarie Dictionary, contains a series of short essays about language, its history, development and idiosyncrasies.

    Butler begins with the Haitch vs Aitch debate (my maternal grandmother in particular would have been horrified had I ever pronounced the letter H as 'Haitch') and goes on to explore other topics like Capitalisation, Internet gibberish, The attraction of slang and How do words get into the dictionary?

    Butler is not without a sense of humour which these essays also reflect with subjects that include, Should man boobs be in the dictionary?, The mystery of the bogan, and her recommendation that we adopt Canadian spelling as an international standard over British or American English.

    I was most impressed, and feel somewhat vindicated, to learn that Butler considers (and history proves) the apostrophe to be 'an artifice of writing, a grammarian's flourish' and actually advocates that we forgo it entirely given it is possible to do so without any effect on our comprehension of written language. Ive often thought its true, and shes right, isnt she?

    An ideal gift for language lovers, or pedantics, grammar Nazi's or wordsmiths, The Aitch Factor is an entertaining and illuminating treatise on the ever evolving landscape of language.

Format: Hardback

Publication Date: 01/08/2014

RRP  $24.99 $21.24
  • entertaining, lighthearted tale about modern motherhood, marriage and fashion

    by Shelley on 23/04/2015

    There is plenty of humour in this sharply amusing, well paced novel. Wry observation is teamed with snappy dialogue and sarcasm, the characters and scenes may be exaggerated for effect but include a kernel of truth and familiarity for any modern day mother.


Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 22/04/2015

RRP  $29.99 $23.39
  • Fascinating

    by Shelley on 15/06/2014

    I found The Skeleton Cupboard to be a fascinating read, sharing valuable insight into the difficult role of a clinical psychologist, and the lives of those people in need of their help. Though I would particularly recommend The Skeleton Cupboard to someone considering studying psychology, I think anyone with a layman's interest in the field would enjoy this well written account.

Format: Paperback / softback

Publication Date: 22/05/2014

RRP  $29.99 $25.49