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Rating Scale:

*****  Fantastic! You’ve gotta read this one!

****  Great. Well worth a look

***   OK. You may enjoy it.

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“The Animals in That Country” by Laura Jean McKay

Rating: *****

Genre: Fiction: Sci Fi

Read: May

TBA

“Angel of Death: Dulcie Markham, Australia’s most beautiful bad woman” by Leigh Straw

Rating: ****

Genre: Non-Fiction: True Crime

Read: May

“Angel of Death” offers insight into the Australian underworld during the first half of the 20th century by tracking the life of Dulcie Markham. Markham was notorious for her involvement in prostitution, sly grog and other criminal activities and was featured in the media at the time due to her incredible beauty and involvement (often peripheral) in multiple murders and acts of violence; hence the badge “Angel of Death”. This is a well researched, well-paced, honest look at the life of the women who lived and worked in the city slums of the day. Interesting and worth a look.

“Memories of May” by Juliet Madison

Rating: ****

Genre: Fiction/Romance

Read: May

TBA

“Those who leave and those who stay” by Ellen Ferrante

Rating: *****

Genre: Fiction: Literary Fiction/Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Read: May

The third book in the Neapolitan quartet continues on where the story left off. The woman are now in their early twenties and are dealing with marital issues, child rearing, career development and most importantly trying to find their place in the world. Our protagonist has left Naples for greener pastures, but is constantly drawn back into her past. This is a wonderful examination of the socio-economic issues during the later 50s and 60s in post-war Italy as well as a gripping tale of friendship, love and loss.

“CSI told you lies” by Meshel Laurie

Rating: ****

Genre: Non-Fiction: True Crime

Read: April

An interesting and thoughtful look at the developments in forensic pathology and its impact on the legal system and relevance to victims and their loved ones. Laurie’s generous and conversational style of writing brings this heavily scientific discipline to the general public, without excessive gore, shock or disrespect to victims and their families. It is well researched and easy to read.

“The Inseparables” by Simone de Beauvoir

Rating: *****

Genre: Fiction/Literary

Read: April

A beautiful story about the friendship between Silvia and Andrée, and how they were so similar, so different and how they needed each other as they grew and took different paths. Beautifully written, engaging and deeply moving.

“Today a woman went mad in the supermarket” by Hilma Wolitzer

Rating: *****

Genre: Fiction/Literary

Read: April

What a wonderful collection of short stories. I absolutely adored this book. “Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket” offers a series of short stories, mostly written in the first person, describing seemingly ordinary day-to-day incidents in women’s lives. I laughed. I cried. I cheered.

“The Bowtow” by Joe O’Neill

Rating: ***

Genre: Fiction: Mystery/Crime

Read: April

I found this book a little difficult to read. Many of the sentences lack a pronoun, and the letter “I” appears in lower case where it should be in upper case. I was pulled out of the story by this style as I needed to work out which character was performing what action/thought. It is almost as if the book has been run through a translation program and not proof read. I am assuming that this is the author’s particular style of writing as they appear to be a native English speaker. A+ for artistic merit, if this is the case.The mystery/thriller aspects of the story are interesting and the book is well researched and characters believable. The descriptions of place are also visually engaging. Not my style of book, but I appreciate the efforts made by the author. You may enjoy this. I received a copy of this book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

“The Woke Illiad” by George Boreas

Rating: ***1/2

Genre: Fiction: Satire/Comedy

Read: March/April

The tiny nation of Moldovia has now become a nuclear power thanks to a forgotten Soviet-era storage facility. In an effort to negotiate with the people (considered to be backward/old fashioned/traditionalist), the USA sends forth their envoy, Helen. When Helen is held hostage the Woke forces of the world send an army to retrieve their heroine and enlighten the nation. This irreverent look at Woke culture in its extreme has something to offend everyone while providing a few laughs. Think Sasha Baron Cohen films. If you like “Borat” and “The Dictator” then this is definitely for you. Again, not one for the politically correct and may not have appeal to younger readers.

“The Story of a New Name” by Elena Ferrante

Rating: *****

Genre: Fiction – Literary Fiction/Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Read: March

“The Story of A New Name”, Ferrante’s second book in the Neapolitan quartet, continues where “My Brilliant Friend” left off, covering the characters’ lives from their teens to early twenties. It is breathtakingly brilliant, beautifully written and ever endearing. Expect to be reading late into the evening. I can’t wait to get stuck into book three. A must read!

“Ruddy Gore” by Kerry Greenwood

Rating: ****

Genre: Fiction -Cosy Mystery

Read: March

“Ruddy Gore” by Kerry Greenwood is the seventh book in the Phryne Fisher mystery series. During what should have been a gala performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore, two cast members are poisoned. Phryne must delve deep into the theatre scene and Melbourne’s China Town to find the solution to the mystery of the poisonous attacks and mysterious theatre ghosts. Good fun as always.

“The Snapshot Killer” by Duncan McNab

Rating: ****

Genre: Non-Fiction, True Crime

Read: March

“The Snapshot Killer” is the true story of serial killer, rapist and all round pervert, Christopher Wilder. He committed crimes across America and in Australia and is a very credible suspect for the 1965 Wanda Beach killings. He lured victims (almost exclusively young teenagers) by posing as a professional photographer and modelling agent. The book is well written and thoroughly researched.

“Adrift in Melbourne” By Robyn Annear

Rating: *****

Genre: Non-Fiction: Social History/Walking Tours

Read: March

A must for residents and visitors to Melbourne, Australia. I thoroughly enjoyed this well written and informative guide to exploring the streets, laneways and history of Melbourne’s CBD. I look forward to undertaking all 7 of the suggested walks. Entertaining and informative.

“You’re doing it wrong: A history of bad & bonkers advice to women” by Kaz Cooke

Rating: *****

Genre: Non-Fiction: Social History/Humour

Read: February

“You’re doing it wrong: A history of bad & bonkers advice to women” by Kaz Cooke is both hysterically funny and shockingly true all at the same time. Sadly I recall being offered some of this advice as I was growing up (and hope that young women today are spared the same). It is a lighthearted (but still serious) look at some of the more ridiculous expectations of women since the (Western) Industrial Revolution. Cooke makes sure to cover off on some of the even more offensive and ridiculous expectations of women of colour throughout history too. It is well researched, dotted with Cooke witticisms, and replete with many amusing (and mortifying) historical photos. A great read, but a little disturbing at times – read it anyway!

Gabrielle Chanel: Fashion Manifesto” Edited by NGV

Rating: *****

Genre: Non-Fiction: Fashion/Art

Read: February

A wonderfully presented look at the life and times of Gabrielle Chanel. The content examines the development of her fashion style and her contributions to the fashion industry (other elements of her private life are mentioned, but not covered in detail). This version was issued to complement the NGV International (Melbourne, Australia) Chanel exhibition. One for lovers of fashion.

“My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante

Rating: *****

Genre: Fiction: Literary Fiction

Read: February

The delightful and engaging story of Elena and her friendship with Lila. Told from Elena’s point of view, she describes with elegant beauty, life in post war Naples, growing up in poverty, the trials tribulations of going through puberty, all in the company of her brilliant friend. A wonderful read and I look forward to reading the rest in the series.

“The January Wish” by Juliet Madison

Rating: *****

Genre: Fiction: Women’s Contemporary Fiction/Romance

Read: February

A lovely light and endearing romance (actually you get two romances for the price of one). Local Tarrin Bay Doctor, Sylvia, makes a wish at the fountain during the seaside town’s post-Christmas festival. Within days her life is turned upside down. The child she adopted out as a baby comes to town to meet her, her boyfriend dumps her, and the new medical profession at her surgery turns out to be a naturopath (and a handsome one to boot). Sylvia’s life has taken a turn for the best as she deals with her past choices, opens her mind to new medical opinions and meets the love of her life. Fun and wonderful holiday reading.

“Falling in Love, Again” by Marilyn Forsyth

Genre: Fiction: Women’s Contemporary Fiction/Romance

Rating: ****

Read: January

A fun and easy read about a young woman who rediscovers her first love in the Opal fields of Australia. Gemma is trying to acquire an opalised fossil for the museum she works for, when she realises that the owner is her first love and the father of her child (unbeknownst to him). The book is full of very real examples of the emotional immaturity of our young selves and how poor decision-making results in lost opportunities – especially in the romance department. Entertaining and engaging.

“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle

Rating: *****

Genre: Non-Fiction: Creative Non-Fiction/Autobiography

Read: January

An eye-opening, semi-autobiographical examination of social norms and how they dictate our thinking and behaviour. Doyle beautifully describes how our socially structured and imposed systems of belief cloud our innate personal judgement, preventing us from being our genuine selves and living our true lives. This is a relevant, inclusive, non-threatening and inspiring book. This is a great starting point for all (especially Gen X and Boomers who may find some feminist style writing a little alarming and smash-the-state). A must-read.

The Writer Says: Quotes, Quips and Words of Wisdom” ed Kevin Lippert

Rating: ****

Genre: Non-Fiction: Coffee Table Book/Writing

Read: January

This lovely gift book is a compendium of quotable quotes from successful writers. Some are motivating, some thought-provoking, and others, downright funny. A must for any writer, from beginners to established authors.

“Old Vintage Melbourne” by Chris Macheras

Rating: *****

Genre: Non-Fiction: Coffee Table Book/Social History

Read: January

A remarkable collection of photos showing the development of the city of Melbourne (Australia). The commentary is informative, full of fun and interesting snippets and often accompanied by amusing observations. This is a must for residents and lovers of the city.

“My Cool Scooter” by Chris Haddon

Rating:    ****

Genre: Non-Fiction: Coffee Table Book/Social History

Read:  January

A fun look at the development of the scooter as a mode of transport and a fashion item. There are plenty of pictures of original scooters, true-to-original restorations, and artistic paint jobs. It’s not just Vespas and Lambrettas – the book covers a range of models and styles. A must for the fan of the scooter.

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PREVIOUS YEAR’S BOOK REVIEWS

2021: Sarah’s 2021 Book Review List

2020: Sarah’s 2020 Book Review List

2019: 2019 Book Reviews 

2018: BOOKS REVIEWED IN 2018

2017: 2017 Book Reviews by Sarah Jackson

2016: 2016-book-reviews

2015: 2015 Book reviews download

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