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.

Sophie Green – The Bellbird River Country Choir

Hachette, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Christabella Designs
Cover images courtesy of Shutterstock

When we read a Sophie Green novel, we know that the ‘good people’ will come off okay and that the less attractive ones have a good chance of getting their comeuppance. Knowing this in no way interferes with our enjoyment of the stories. There are times when, contrary to real life, we have need of this assurance.

Barbie speaks to Sophie Green about The Bellbird River Country Choir
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Lauren Searson-Patrick – Amber Wolf

Self-published, Australia, 2022
Cover design, artwork and internal design by Franziska Stern

This is an assured debut from adult fantasy writer Lauren Searson-Patrick. It delivers all that is expected of the genre – a quest story, rich in characters and with meticulous world building.

Lauren Searson-Patrick talks about Amber Wolf
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Shelley Burr – Wake

Hachette, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Debra Bilson
Cover photographs Stocksy, Franckreporter/Getty Images and Shutterstock

It’s an online true crime chat group that creates the jokey moniker for the case at the heart of this book, and that is its title.

Wednesday Addams Killed Evie (WAKE) is an acronym, callous and with no regard for truth, which insists upon the guilt of Mina, the sister of a missing girl Evelyn McCreery (Evie).

Shelley Burr talks about Wake
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Amelia Mellor – The Grandest Bookshop in the World

Affirm Press, Australia, 2020
Cover and internal Affirm Press
Cover illustrations Sylvia Morris

What a huge pleasure this book is! It has everything we want from magical realism – the archetypal struggle between good and evil, a pair of plucky youngsters who embark on a series of quests and overcome danger and fear in the process, a silver tongued villain who really is a nasty piece of work, human frailty and optimism, family love, quirky humour and a marvellous setting in a place we all want to visit i.e. The Grandest Bookshop in the World.

Barbie talks to Amelia Mellor about The Grandest Bookshop in the World
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Hayley Scrivenor – Dirt Town

Macmillan, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Deborah Parry Graphics
Cover photographs Doug Steley B/Alamy Stock photo and iStock

This is a book about concealment – a body, a crime, community and personal secrets and injuries held from the past. While it is a police procedural and its plot stems from the classic crime trope of a missing child, it is, for me, much more an intimate and perceptive portrait of a small town and how its secrets have long trails.

Hayley Scrivenor talks to Barbie about Dirt Town
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Mag madness: the rise and fall of an Australian phenomenon

Axed – Who Killed Australian Magazines? by Phil Barker
Simon and Schuster Australia, 2022

The media industry is famous, or perhaps infamous, for its highs and lows – from the thrill of chasing a big story close to deadline to management bastardry and lack of compassion for staff when times get tough.

Richard spoke to Phil Barker about Axed and the future of magazine publishing in Australia
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Neela Janakiramanan – The Registrar

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Christabella Designs
Cover photograph: Getty Images

Neela Janakiramanan’s debut is a fiction, but based on her experience as a surgical registrar. The work illuminates publicly reported issues about the deleterious effects of excessive workload on junior doctors and specialist trainees.

Barbie spoke to Neela Janakiramanan about The Registrar
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Nigel Gray and Bethan Welby – Phyllis and Grace

Scallywag Press, London, UK, 2022

This gentle picture book, written by Nigel Gray and illustrated by Bethan Welby, subtly conveys messages of kindness, neighbourliness, friendship across generations, the importance of family and the blessing of an open-hearted and compassionate view of the world – as seen by this story’s child Grace.

Author Nigel Gray spoke to Barbie about Phyllis and Grace
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Lauren Chater – The Winter Dress

Simon & Schuster, Australia, 2022
Cover design Nada Backovic
Cover images Beata Banach/Trevillion Images

Lauren Chater’s third historical novel is as finely woven as the 17th century silk dress which inspired it.

Lauren Chater talks to Barbie about The Winter Dress
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Matthew Spencer – Black River

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Luke Causby, Blue Cork
Cover photographs Luke Causby and Adobe Stock

Matthew Spencer’s debut novel has been aptly described by others more eminent than I in the following terms: ‘a meticulous thriller’ (Sarah Bailey), ‘sharply plotted and relentlessly paced’ (Michael Robotham) and ‘Black River hooked me and wouldn’t let me go (Tim Ayliffe).

Barbie speaks to Matthew Spence about Black River
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Nell Pierce – A Place Near Eden

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Christabella Designs
Cover photographs: Getty Images/Andersen Ross

A Place Near Eden, the winner of the 2022 Australian Vogel Literary Award, is a clever psychological thriller, a work exploring truth, perception and family relationships.

It’s a disturbing and thoroughly absorbing read. The author plays with the reader so that we not only distrust our own judgments but everyone else’s.

Barbie spoke to Nell Pierce about A Place Near Eden
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