CategoryThe Reading List

This reading list is a contribution to the sharing of books. All sorts of books make their way to my bedside table. Some are sent, some recommended, some given as gifts or lent by someone who has enjoyed reading them.

Others (let’s be frank – many) I see on a bookstore shelf, find irresistible and bring home. A few of these become family members who may not leave my bookshelf, but can be read by guests who stay. Some wander on to other homes and hearts.

If you have books you’d like to talk about contact me via the web contact form.

Sofie Laguna and Marc McBride – The Song of Lewis Carmichael

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2021

This is a perfect book – for children a story of an adventurous trip by hot air balloon to the Arctic by a small boy and a crow, for adult readers an allegory equally as powerful and complex as Lewis, Baum and Grahame.

Sofie Laguna talks about The Song of Lewis Carmichael
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Natasha Lester – The Riviera House

Hachette, Australia, 2021
Cover design by Christabelle Designs with photograph courtesy Idda van Munster – Aida Dapo Muharemovic

This book brings together a number of the author’s passions – France, World War 11 history, women of courage, fashion and art. It is set in Occupation Paris in the historical time frame and the Riviera, Australia and New York in 2015 for the contemporary.

Barbie spoke to Natasha Lester about The Riviera House
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Bad Crime : September International Festival

Four online events with international authors
6pm, Wednesdays 8 – 29 September 2021
Tickets $10 per event

The in person BAD Sydney Crime Writers Festival is scheduled for 2-5 December but meanwhile BAD has lined up four of the world’s top crime writers for interviews with BAD Sydney.

Barbie spoke Catherine du Peloux Menagé about the festival
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James Roxburgh – The Banksia House Breakout

Ventura Press, Australia, 2021

The Banksia House Breakout deals with themes of domestic and elder abuse, of respect for the elderly and respect for women. Written like a road movie, and with all the visuals the form evokes, it tells the story of a group of aged care residents, three of whom take matters in their own hands when they meet obstacles to fulfil their life’s desires.

Barbie spoke to James Roxburgh about The Banksia House Breakout
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Mary-Lou Stephens – The Last of the Apple Blossom

HQ Fiction an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises, a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers, Australia, 2021
Cover design by Catherine Armstrong

The history of the second half of the 20th century provides a backdrop for this novel, set in the south east of Tasmania, specifically the once booming apple growing regions of the Huon Valley, Wattle Grove and Cygnet.

Centre stage it’s the saga of two family dynasties, the Turners and the Pearsons, starting on 7 February, 1967, known now as Black Tuesday, when 110 separate bushfires ravaged southern Tasmania.

Barbie spoke to Mary-Lou Stephens about The Last of the Apple Blossom
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Megan McKean – Seasons in the City

A Lothian Children’s Book, Hachette, Australia, 2021

Megan McKean is the writer, illustrator and designer of this cheery and informative book, which will spark interest in children and a travel yen in adults.

Megan McKean talks about Seasons in the City
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Deanna Copeland – Reluctant Pioneer

Internal illustrations by Julie Stapleton
Self-published, Australia, first edition 2016, second edition 2019, third edition 2020

Deanna Copeland is a Canberra-based visual artist and writer. Reluctant Pioneer, the first of her two novels, is inspired by stories told to her by her mother, who came to Australia from England with her husband in 1948.

It is however a work of fiction, an Australian rural romance set in the recent past during the 1940s and 1950s.

Barbie talks to Deanna Copeland about Reluctant Pioneer
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Katherine Kovacic – Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries – Just Murdered

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2021
Written by Katherine Kovacic based on Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries episode 1, written by Deb Cox

This novelisation of the TV series of the same name no doubt aims to broaden the following and woo audience for a project bound to be met with some resistance from traditional Phryne Fisher fans. And what a success this book is!

Contemporary crime write Katherine Kovacic brings all the required qualifications to this task and instantly engages us with the sixties era and character Peregrine Fisher, niece of the missing Phryne and heir to her not inconsiderable estate.

Katherine Kovacic talks about Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries – Just Murdered
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Jennifer Bardsley and Mez Thomas – A Land of Muddy Puddles

Halstead Press, Australia, 2021

This happy picture book reminds us of the joy of simple childhood delights.

Told in the voice of a small boy, it recounts his day from wake up to nap time, observing the beauties of nature in his own backyard on a rainy day – the pond with its fish, droplets falling from a tree, puddles to splash in, the delightful sensation of mud between his toes, a conversation with a friendly frog, a rainbow, the colours of the plants in a sunshower.

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Alison Booth – The Painting

RedDoor Press, UK, 2021
Cover design Emily Courdelle

The Painting is the sixth of Alison Booth’s novels.  It is a fine piece of fiction – historical in that it is set in 1989-1990 and with the World War 11 and post-War era in Hungary at its core.

The centrepiece of the story is a gift from family carried by our heroine Anika to Australia when she manages to begin a new life in Sydney.

Alison Booth talks about The Painting
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Tessa Lunney – Autumn Leaves 1922

Pegasus Crime, NY, 2021

I became an immediate fan of Tess Lunney’s work with her first novel April in Paris 1921 where we met heroine, glamorous spy Kiki Button. Tessa nails it again with this thrilling breathless sequel, a tale of espionage, power and politics in 1922 Paris.

Barbie spoke to Tessa Lunney about Autumn Leaves 1922
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Majura Café Poets – Toast to Poetry

Edited by Clint Wright
Foreword by Fiona McIlroy
Cover design by Karen May; layout by Clint Wright
Self-published, Canberra 2021

The Majura Café Poets have been meeting weekly in various venues around Canberra since its inception in 2009, a practice that was interrupted by the restrictions of COVID-19.

Rather than this presaging poetry’s ‘being toast’, however, the situation  simply threw up a challenge to the poets to keep in touch via other means.

Barbie spoke to Marilyn Hutchinson and Fiona McIlroy from the Majura Café Poets
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Angela Himsel – A River could be a Tree

Fig Tree Books, New York, USA, 2018

As I sit down to write this, the ACT has just entered a seven-day COVID-19 lockdown, its first since early 2020, and I am reminded how very important books and words are to me, have always been to me. Books are a source of solace, information, mind expansion, vicarious experiences, armchair travel and joy.

Barbie spoke to Angela Himsel via Zoom
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Sophie Green – Thursdays at Orange Blossom House

Hachette, Australia, 2021

Sophie Green has already proved herself a mistress of the women’s friendship story with The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club and The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle. In each case a group of disparate women come together over an interest – this time it is a yoga class.

Sophie Green talks to Barbie about Thursdays at Orange Blossom House
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Joel Swadling – David Branson biography project

Actor Joel Swadling was a close friend of Canberra theatre director, musician, actor and writer David Branson, who died in a car accident in 2011 at the age of just 37.

Joel Swadling spoke to Barbie about the David Branson biography project
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