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.

Katherine Kovacic – The Schoolgirl Strangler

Echo Publishing, Australia, 2021

I am not usually a reader of true crime, but as a rusted-on fan of Katherine Kovacic and her Alex Clayton art sleuth mysteries (and especially Alex’s beautiful Irish wolf hound Hogarth), I was confident that this book would be superbly written and of substance. And I was not disappointed.

Barbie speaks with Katherine Kovacic about The Schoolgirl Strangler
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Steve Matthews – Hitler’s Brothel

Big Sky Publishing, Australia, 2020

Joining a growing collection of contemporary, fictionalised histories of the twentieth century Nazi period in Europe, some reviewed on this website, Steve Matthews’ novel tells the story of Ania, a beautiful young Polish woman.

Barbie talks with Steve Matthews about Hitler’s Brothel
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Laura Bloom – The Women and the Girls

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2021

Set in the seventies in Sydney, The Women and the Girls is a tale of female friendship which invites us to define what it is that constitutes ‘home’.

Three women, quite different in their circumstances and nature, come together, along with their children, to create a household when each decides that her marriage is not meeting up to expectations.

Barbie spoke with Laura Bloom about The Women and the Girls
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Lotte Möller – Bees and Their Keepers

First published in Great Britain by Maclehose Press, an imprint of Quercus Publishing Ltd
Published in 2020 in Australia by Hachette

This is a charming and informative book. I loved it.

Lotte Möller is a Swedish journalist, writer and bee-keeper. This work, while full of classical and literary allusions, is a readable little text about the complexities and social implication s of bee-keeping.

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Kath Engebretson – Nineteen Days

Atlas Production, Australia, 2020

Readers have looked on in 2020 as the publishing industry has come to grips with COVID-19 and writers have worked hard to get their stories not just published but then publicised.

Who would have anticipated that a novella set on a cruise ship would be one of the stories to emerge in that year, its author finalising her edits at the close of 2019 before so many things changed.

Barbie spoke to Kath Engebretson about Nineteen Days
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Peter Rodgers – Beethoven’s Tenth (and the Journey which saved the World)

Green Hill Publishing, Australia, 2021

This is a wonderfully funny, wonderfully clever social-political satire that takes a swipe, albeit not a vicious one, at almost every aspect of contemporary life.

Former diplomat Peter Rodgers aimed to write a book with a laugh on every page, and he has succeeded. There is a serious intent and much research in this work, but the humour is what the reader carries away, demonstrating that a skilled hand has directed it.

Peter Rodgers visited Living Arts Canberra to talk about Beethoven’s Tenth
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Joanna Beresford – Every Year I am Here

Atlas Productions, Australia, 2020

This debut novel set in Brisbane in the 1890s provides the perfect vehicle for an author with the twin passions of history and social justice.

Joanna Beresford chooses for her heroine Lilian, a young working class woman from an immigrant background, who is forced to fend for herself in the quest for education and improved social standing – and often merely to survive.

Barbie speaks to Joanna Beresford about Every year I am Here
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Pamela Hart – The Charleston Scandal

Hachette, Australia, 2020

The Charleston Scandal is Pamela Hart’s 37th book, an absorbing and highly readable historical fiction that dives into the issue of class and privilege in British society in the 1920s, particularly in the royal and sub-royal echelons. It is also a delightful glimpse into the life of the theatre at that time.

Barbie talks to Pamela Hart about The Charleston Scandal
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Rocio Bonilla – Siblings

Quirky Kid, Australia, 2020

Siblings is a story told from two points of view and the book itself reflects this. Read from one end, the book is in the voice of the sister, while from the other end it is in the voice of the brother. The stories meet in the middle with the same dilemma.

Barbie speaks with Dr Kimberley O’Brien, Principal Child Psychologist at Quirky Kid Clinic.
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Dominic Knight – The 2020 Dictionary

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020

Known to television audiences as one of the founders of The Chaser, Dominic Knight is also the author of The Strayan Dictionary, Strayapedia and Trumpedia.

The 2020 Dictionary continues his satirical analysis of Australian culture, this time through a set of wry definitions of and observations upon aspects of this extraordinary year.

Dominic Knight talks about The 2020 Dictionary
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Pina Di Donato – Who Switched the Lights On?

The Kind Press, Australia, 2020

Pina Di Donato brings a lifetime of business and life learnings to her first book, a work that could loosely be described as a guide to living a satisfying, worthy and productive life.

Coming from an Italian background meant that Pina was framed by cultural traditions and expectations – ones that didn’t necessarily fit well with the person she was and is.

Pina Di Donato talks about Who Switched the Lights On?
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Tim Olsen – Son of the Brush – A Memoir

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020

Described as a memoir, Son of the Brush does indeed introduce us to some of the key figures of the art world in Australia in the 20th and 21st century,  in the context of the life of the author, son of painter John Olsen.

Tim Olsen grew up surrounded by people we now consider luminaries, but it is the personal, the candid appraisal of self and family that touched me most deeply in this book.

Barbie speaks with Tim Olsen
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Belinda Alexandra – The Divine Feline

(A Chic Lady’s Guide to Woman’s Best Friend)
Murdoch Books, Australia, 2020

This is a book that has enjoyed sumptuous production treatment with its striking fashion illustration style hard cover and velvety velour spine with cursive gold font. It is indeed an object of desire and worthy of its subject, the mystique of the cat.

Belinda Alexander talks about The Devine Feline
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Blanche d’Alpuget – The Cubs Roar

Ventura Press, Australia,  2020

This is the fifth of Blanche d’Alpuget’s Birth of the Plantagenets series and I confess that I come to it as a stand alone novel, not having yet read the four previous books. However, while reading the entire series is ideal and recommended, it is perfectly possible to enjoy this one alone.

Barbie talks to Blanche d”Alpuget about The Cubs Roar
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