Book Review: The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

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Oh, dear. My year of reading books by Australian female writers isn’t improving.

Deb, Trina, Eden and Joni have been friends since the start of high school and they’ve managed to stay friends through careers, husbands and kids. Once a year, they get together for a few days away from their families. This year, they have decided to write anonymous letters to reveal their deepest and darkest secrets without having to be judged. Except when the letters are finished, there are five. And the fifth letter is a doozy. One of the women harbours a murderous grudge against one of the other women. Continue reading

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Book Review: The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

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This book won the Stella Prize in 2016. I should know better by now. I am consistently disappointed by award winners. I’m going to blame it on being a Gemini. I need to know who, what, where, when, how and why. Not all at once but slowly revealed to show a complete picture by the end of the book. And The Natural Way of Things is distinctly lacking in most of these respects. What it does have is terrific writing and an intriguing concept but it’s not enough to completely make up for the other things it’s missing. Continue reading

Book Review: Cleave by Nikki Gemmell

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The Australia in this book is the Australia that all Australian novels are supposed to be about: set in the outback, full of indigenous characters, not appropriating their culture but living in harmony with them, battling the elements and inner demons. The problem with that is most Australians don’t live lives anything like what is described here and are made to feel less Australian than those living a supposedly more authentic life. Continue reading

Book Review: Ghost Child by Caroline Overington

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This could easily have been a true story (in fact, I sought out the statement at the front of the book that declared it was fiction just to make sure). It has an awful sense of realism about it and maybe that’s why the story itself ends up being almost inconsequential. More than anything else, this is a character study, an extraordinary character study presented in beautifully simple writing by a very fine writer. Continue reading

Book Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

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This year, I’m doing twelve reviews of books written by Australian female writers, starting with See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt. Some would say writing by Australian women is having a renaissance but that’s assuming it was ever this good before. There are so many stories getting a lot of attention, some rightfully, some less so.

I wish I could say this is one of those Australian female writers who deserves all the attention the category has been receiving but I found the book disappointing. On the back it says, “You know the rhyme. You don’t know the story.” I knew the story and this book doesn’t add anything to it. Not to the real story anyway. In fact, it adds a lot of fictional elements that just muddy the waters. Continue reading

Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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This is one of those books that was always destined to succeed. The publishing company wouldn’t have allowed anything else. Most writers hide themselves, plugging away solitarily, swallowing the loneliness until finally a book is produced. And then a select few people assist in polishing the manuscript before it is finally accepted or rejected. There are over one hundred people listed in the acknowledgements at the end of the book. Ergo, this is one of those books that was always destined to succeed. Whether the readers liked it or not. Thankfully, it does have some merits. But maybe not as many as we would have preferred. Continue reading