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.

Alli Sinclair – The Codebreakers

Mira, an imprint of Harlequin Enterprises, a subsidiary of Harper Collins, Australia, 2021

This latest novel by Alli Sinclair joins the slowly growing body of literary works about the role that women played in the two world wars. These stories have remained untold for decades and it is only relatively recently that popular fiction has turned its attention to them.

The women who worked in Brisbane at the rather drably named Central Bureau were responsible for codebreaking in the same way that the women of Bletchley Park were in Britain. Not only during the war but for decades after its end, their work was shrouded in secrecy and they were forbidden to talk about what they did.

Barbie talks to Alli Sinclair about The Codebreakers
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Travis Winks – Shattered

67 Days to a Family’s Self-Destruction
Big Sky Publishing, Australia , 2021

Shattered is a raw, honest account of the coming together of three tragedies in Travis Winks’ family life – events which are interconnected and which resulted in the shooting death of one family member, the attempted suicide of another and the imprisonment of a third.

Travis Winks talks about Shattered
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Rebecca Wilson – Kate Kelly

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2021

This fascinating account of the life and death of Kate Kelly, sister of the infamous Ned Kelly, is told with a deep feminine sensitivity. That is to say, unlike many histories, it takes a female (perhaps feminist) view of the subject and the society in which she lived.

The state of Kate’s health around the time of her death, due to possible post-natal depression, general depression, substance use and the stresses of her too brief life as a whole, give the reader much food for thought. It’s also a strongly political work, highlighting the many injustices of the time based on class and wealth.

Barbie talks to Rebecca Wilson about Kate Kelly
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Kayte Nunn – The Last Reunion

Hachette, Australia, 2021

Another fine work of historical fiction by Kayte Nunn, The Last Reunion focusses on the women of the Women’s Auxiliary Services Burma (WASBies). It’s another of the largely untold stories of the contribution of women to the Second World War effort – these plucky women were the closest to the frontline of any servicewomen in this conflict, their role being to run a mobile canteen for the soldiers in the battlefield.

Kayte Nunn talks to Barbie about The Last Reunion
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Shelly Unwin and Jedda Robbard – Hello Baby

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2021

This charming picture book with words by Shelly Unwin and pictures by Jedda Robbard is the perfect gift for people expecting a baby into their lives. It would also be a lovely read for parents and grandparents wishing to spend time with the sibling of a newly arrived or expected baby.

Barbie talks to Shelly Unwin about Hello Baby
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Esther Amini – Concealed

Greenpoint Press, New York, NY, 2020

This memoir of Jewish Iranian Esther Amini is at once moving and sad, funny and joyous; it is also highly instructive. For those of us who knew nothing of the history of the hidden Jews in Iran, how they came to be there and what they endured, this is indeed eye-opening.

Barbie spoke to Esther Amini in New York via Zoom
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Ben Sanders – The Devils You Know

Allen & Unwin, Australia 2021

This is a rip-snorting thriller with all the elements of a Matt Damon movie – gun toting, the drug trade, a body count to rival Midsomer Murders, conspicuous wealth, punch-ups, car chases and stuntman-worthy driving feats, conspicuous acts of daring by our hero and to some extent by our heroine, a certain chemistry between the male and female leads and a little discreet sex.

Ben Sanders discusses The Devils You Know
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L.P. McMahon – As Swallows Fly

Ventura Press, Australia, 2021

This exquisite study of how we hold and resolve pain and loss is Lawrence McMahon’s first novel. Traversing themes of violence against women, the role of the missionary, religious practices, hierarchical structures in our society macro and micro – hence power plays between individuals and groups, medical ethics and our universal need for a place we call home, the novel is beautifully written and thoroughly absorbing in its content.

Barbie talks to Lawrence McMahon about As Swallows Fly
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Maureen Cashman – The Roland Medals

Independently published, Australia, 2021

Maureen Cashman’s historical novel The Roland Medals is a beautifully crafted story, elegantly written and demonstrating an adept control of literary dramatic tension.

The historical story takes place in 16th century Spain; the modern story begins in Finland and then moves to contemporary Spain, particularly the much-walked pilgrims’ way, the Camino de Santiago.

Maureen Cashman talks to Barbie about The Roland Medals
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Krys Saclier – Super Nova

Ford Street Publishing, Australia, 2019

This gentle story of girl power is told in the voice of Super Nova’s brother. She is always up to mischief but has everyone fooled except for him. Despite the challenges of being an older brother to Nova, he is always there to cheer her on – even through tussles with aliens.

Barbie speaks with Krys Saclier, author of Super Nova
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Elena Moriarty – The Hunt of the Halfling

Independently published, Australia, 2021

The Hunt of the Halfling is the first of a planned series under the title Crimson Tale. Fans of the Twilight series will be interested in this new Brisbane based writer.

The story is full of vampires, faeries, werewolves and the sort of burgeoning romance that young people will know only too well, and older readers too perhaps, depending on their circumstances. But at the very least older readers will recall that stomach twisting sense that a relationship is going to be more than getting to know a new best friend.

Elena Moriarty talks about The Hunt of the Halfling
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Esther Campion – A Week to Remember

Hachette, Australia

A group of people gather in a beautiful guest house in West Cork, Ireland, for a restorative stay. However, as life goes, they all bring secrets and issues which cannot be left behind simply with a change of geography. In fact, this is the place for facing demons.

Barbie speaks with Esther Campion about A Week to Remember
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Davina Stone – The Alice Equation

Feathers and Stone Publishing, Australia, 2021

The Alice Equation is the first in a planned series by this West Australian based author, who was a finalist in the 2020 Valerie Parv Award – praise indeed. The story follows the many ups and owns of the relationship of Alice and Aaron as it moves from a rather one-sided long-standing crush by Alice to something much more satisfactorily equal.

Barbie spoke to Davina Stone about The Alice Equation
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