November 2015

More to the Story: conversations with refugees, Rosemary Sayer (Margaret River Press)
In More to the Story Rosemary Sayer charts her own experience of meeting and interviewing several refugees who have settled in Western Australia. Given the serious and heartbreaking plight of refugees around the world, one might expect the stories to be difficult to read. On the contrary there is much joy and hope to be found within these pages. Whilst Sayer does not shy away from the horror, frustration, isolation and fear that characterizes the refugee’s journey, the enduring spirit of humanity shines through as does the positive contribution that these people are making to our lives in Australia.  A must read!

Perfect, Danny Parker, Illus. Freya Blackwood (Little Hare)
What makes a perfect day?   For three carefree, energetic young children and their adventurous cat, a perfect day involves cooking up a storm in the kitchen, balancing along garden walls, climbing trees, chatting to curious cows, flying kites and digging the deepest holes on a sandy beach.  This story’s gentle rhythm transports readers, young and old, into an idyllic world filled with everyday wonders.  The spare, lyrical text is an absolute delight to read aloud and together with the evocative, painterly illustrations makes for a perfect gem of a picture book.  

Can a skeleton have an X-ray?, Kyle Hughes-Odgers (Fremantle Press)
How does sound taste? Do colours smell? Why do onions make me cry? Who builds the wings for birds to fly?  Inquisitive minds and young imaginations will wonder about the answers to these and other questions and be inspired to create equally inventive questions of their own.  As the rhyming narrative unfolds, Hughes-Odgers’ distinctive and detailed watercolour and ink illustrations offer readers the opportunity to pause and ponder his intriguing propositions from weird and wonderful contraptions that store memories to wise time-makers to minute traffic-controllers. 

Beyond the Farm Gate, Danielle Costley, (Margaret River Press)
In both its form and subject matter, Beyond the Farm Gate is all about ‘quality’. Danielle Costley’s exploration of the food culture of Australia’s south-west has produced a book that is equally about people, places and the shared passions, hard work and commitment that unite individuals within a genuine community. Beautifully published in hardback, with individual leitmotifs distinguishing each chapter, mouth-watering images of local produce – everything from mulberry leaf tea to abalone to artisan sheep cheeses – and a collection of recipes showcasing the produce to perfection, this is a book that you will want to refer to on a regular basis and also keep safe within your family to hand down through the generations.

October 2015

Reaching for the Canopy, Kylie Bullo (UWA Publishing, $22.99)
Kylie Bullo loves animals – especially orangutans! As senior orangutan keeper at Perth Zoo since 2001, Bullo has captured the experiences of daily life with her ‘orange kids’ in an absorbing memoir. Reaching for the Canopy is also a record of the successful rehabilitation of Temara, a characterful zoo-born orangutan, for release into the Sumatran jungle. In telling of Temara’s journey back to the jungle, Bullo makes clear the conservation challenges that must be overcome to save the orangutan from extinction. Charming, guileless and inspiring, this book blends unsentimental scientific observations with a warm-hearted humanity and genuine hope for the future.

The Saddler Boys, Fiona Palmer (Penguin, $32.99)
City girl Natalie arrives in the small town of Lake Biddy to take up her post as a teacher. Leaving behind her glamorous city life, family and boyfriend, she is also harbouring a secret. While there’s plenty of ‘boy-meets-girl’ tension and romance to be enjoyed in The Saddler Boys, Palmer’s latest novel also reads like a love letter to small town, rural WA.  At its heart, this is a book about belonging – to people and to places – and Palmer skilfully evokes life in the small community of Lake Biddy with genuine passion and honesty.  A satisfying rural romance with some underlying grittier issues.

My Dead Bunny, Sigi Cohen, illust. James Foley (Walker Books, $19.95)
My dead bunny’s name is Brad; his odour is extremely bad …
Every children’s book needs a cute, fluffy rabbit … right? Well how about one with a brain worm and a maniacal glint in his eye, an electrocuted ex-pet who’s come back from the dead to cast a terrifying shadow across your bedroom, stink up the house and drive your sister mad? With its rollicking rhyming text and suitably spooky illustrations, My Dead Bunny packages the zombie-loving zeitgeist for the primary-school set, with hilarious results. This irreverent picture book from debut author Sigi Cohen and award-winning illustrator James Foley will have kids dying with laughter.

At My Door, Deb Fitzpatrick (Fremantle Press, $14.99)
It started out like any other night for ten-year-old Poppy. Asleep in her bed, her older brother in his bedroom and her parents downstairs, everything was as it should be. But when Poppy awoke to the dog barking and the sound of cries, she knew something was up. In Poppy’s lounge a mysterious toddler clutched a green blanket with a note attached: ‘Please look after Mei.’ At My Door is a wonderful story about the strength and kindness of people as they seek to find a solution. Brimming with genuine friendship and surprise, and narrated through the bright eyes of young Poppy, this thought-provoking story will delight young readers and encourage discussion.

September 2015

Bella and the Wandering House, Meg McKinlay (Fremantle Press, $12.99)
Children’s author Meg McKinlay is guaranteed to set young imaginations alight with her wonderful new story, Bella and the Wandering House. The mystery begins one morning when young Bella notices that the path leading to her house is crooked, ‘as if the world had shifted sideways’. In the nights that follow, the house moves to different places and Bella determines to find out why. Knowing it is possible to be both sensible and a dreamer, and drawing on the wisdoms of her grandfather, Bella collects and pieces together clues that lead to a surprising outcome. With enchanting illustrations by Nicholas Schafer, this book has all the makings of a well-loved favourite.

The Great and Wondrous Storyteller, Michael Scott Parkinson (Five Mile Press, $19.95)
Norbert P Winklebottom the Storyteller claims to be the best Storyteller in the whole world! He has read books on mountains, to hatted hippos, books about astronauts, unicorns and dragons – all beautifully illustrated in bold colours.  Norbert’s reading exploits bring in crowds of admirers and friends who are very impressed… until they uncover his secret! Thankfully Norbert’s Dad steps in and saves the day…and Norbert? Well, he learns that it is perfectly okay to be himself. This delightful book for young readers is fun and engaging whilst encouraging children to read and offering a wonderful message. Highly recommended.

The Fly Away Girls, Julia Lawrinson (Penguin, $14.99)
Eleven year old Chelsea’s world revolves around gymnastics and her driving ambition to make the Nationals’ team.  When new girl, Telia, tries out for club, her natural ability is immediately evident creating tension amongst the girls.  Chelsea’s obsession comes at a cost when she alienates friends and family and suffers injury and disappointment.  Aspiring young gymnasts will readily relate to Chelsea’s passion and willingly immerse themselves in the realistic world of competitive gymnastics while gaining an understanding about the importance of accepting one’s abilities and valuing friendships.

We All Sleep, Ezekiel Kwaymullina & Sally Morgan (Fremantle Press, $24.99)
We All Sleep is one of those books that bathes the reader in luscious colour! Ezekiel and Sally take us through an array of well-known Australian animals and their day-time behaviours, adeptly drawing all and sundry together at the end of the day to sleep underneath the stars, reinforcing our bond with nature. The beautiful illustrations are diverse and evocative for those of us who love Australian landscapes – from pink skies to green waves, purple hills and shady forests. We All Sleep works beautifully when read aloud. It is very lyrical and perfect at the day’s end for busy littlies!

August 2015

Feet to the Stars and other stories, Susan Midalia (UWA Publishing, $24.99)
This very fine collection of stories is Susan Midalia’s third and strongest. Through her focus on ordinary people and their lives she exposes weaknesses and strengths, joys and griefs. Always compassionate, Midalia is nevertheless stringent in her critique, through her characters, of what is often their lack of empathy, questionable politics and sometimes appalling pretension. Multilayered and suggestive, the stories are not only complete in themselves but extend beyond their boundaries. The complex title story exemplifies this capacity, ending ‘All of them waiting, suspended, hoping to be ready for whatever might come next’. These tantalising stories will repay many re-readings.

Georgiana Molloy: the mind that shines, Bernice Barry, (Self-published, $34.95)
Georgiana Molloy’s story as a pioneer West Australian woman and her contribution to the discovery of the unique flora of the State’s South-West is well known. However, Bernice Barry’s biography not only brings Molloy’s life and times alive for readers but shares her years of research. New information about Molloy’s upbringing, John Molloy’s background and their marriage are fascinating. So too is the detail of the hardships and loneliness of Molloy’s early years at Augusta, then Busselton. Dead in childbirth at 37, Molloy, endured great sorrow in her 12 years in the colony as well as making her name as a self-taught botanist.

After this: Survivors of the Holocaust Speak, Alice Nelson (Fremantle Press, $24.99)
These 14 personal stories of Jewish people with Western Australian connections offer firsthand accounts of the physical, mental and emotional hardship of the war years and the life that followed. Simply and often plainly told with photos, they tell of the desperation of avoiding capture and transport to the death camps. There are also accounts of great kindness from strangers who sheltered them, the loss of loved ones, and the considerable challenges involved in rebuilding their lives in Australia. This is a book that will move you, shock you, and importantly, affirm the triumph of the human spirit.

Sister Heart, Sally Morgan (Fremantle Press, $19.99)
Uniquely written in verse, Sister Heart tells the story of a young Aboriginal girl who is stolen from her northwest family and sent to a mission in the south. Mission life is foreign and cold, but for a friendship struck up with cheeky Janey and her brother. With the lightest of touches, Sally Morgan deftly weaves the reader into the lives of these young people, capturing the grief and the small joys to be found in shared hardship. While Sister Heart is being promoted for mature young readers, adults will also find much to love within its pages. Highly recommended.

July 2015

Unfolding: Contemporary Indian Textiles, Maggie Baxter (Niyogi Books, available at Fremantle Arts Centre, $99.00)Textile artist, curator, public art coordinator and writer Maggie Baxter has been travelling to India since 1990, immersing herself in the rich world of Indian textiles.  In this beautifully produced book she showcases the work of 23 artists and designers who reinterpret traditional techniques and motifs in their contemporary practices.  The exquisite textiles are described by theme in chapters including ‘surface’, ‘texture’, ‘minimalism’ and ‘narrative’.  Sumptuous photographs enable a satisfyingly close examination of the variety of techniques employed. In our modern world, awash with mass-produced disposable textiles, this book provides a refreshing view into an inspiring alternative world of valued traditions and heirloom-quality products.

Naked, Eliza Redgold (St. Martin's Press, $US14.99)
The story opens with a distressed young woman slowly undressing, then Eliza Redgold’s taut and precise prose takes the reader back in time to paint in the back story to Lady Godiva’s legendary naked ride at midday through the streets of Coventry. Set during the year 1023AD in the Middle Lands of Engla-lond, this engaging and readable historical romance unfolds using epigraphs from Tennyson’s poem Godiva at the beginning of each chapter. Naked is an absorbing and enjoyable mix of romance, historical detail, battles and an ominous plot to be resolved, breathing life and passion into the Lady Godiva story.

The Mind’s Own Place, Ian Reid (UWA Publishing, $24.99)
Blurring the lines between fiction and historical fact, The Mind’s Own Place reveals the inner lives and outer worlds of five compelling characters whose fates are intertwined as they travel from Victorian England to begin afresh in the fledgling Swan River Colony. Two convicts, a former Scotland Yard detective sergeant and two young women, free settlers from disparate circumstances, bear secrets from the past that impact their survival in new surrounds.  Reid’s vivid writing and attention to historical detail result in settings and characters that make for an enthralling and immersive reading experience.

The SouthWest, Australia’s Biodiversity Hotspot, Victoria Laurie (UWAP Publishing, $45.00)
Driven by her own passion for the region, Laurie has given us a compelling picture of Australia’s only designated ‘Global Biodiversity Hotspot’. Thoroughly researched and written in a straightforward, journalistic style that weaves her own commentary with the observations and comment of scientists, Indigenous elders, conservationists, artists and others, this book captures the south-west of Australia in all its diversity, its beauty and now also, its fragility. Illustrated with gorgeous, full-colour photography throughout, this is a timely and important publication to shake us from complacency and inspire us to pay closer attention to the preciousness of the environment we are lucky enough to inhabit.

June 2015

Lost Boy & other stories   ed. Estelle Tang  (Margaret River Press, $24.00)
A good short story collection leaves lines, images and fragments of story in the memory. Among many highlights in this absorbing new anthology, drawn from entries to the 2015 Margaret River Short Story Competition, are Melanie Napthine’s enigmatic lost boy, and Eva Lomski’s farmer caught in a steel trap of revenge and guilt; the beautiful line ‘Poetry only ever comes when no one is looking’ (Catherine Moffat), and the image of a family fleeing from violence, ‘a moonless night wrapped around them neatly, covering tracks and blanketing feelings (Ali Jarvey). WA contributors include Jarvey, Leslie Thiele, Glen Hunting, Louise Hodge and Carol McDowall.

Carousel, Brendon Ritchie (Fremantle Press, $19.99)
Customers of Carousel Shopping Centre will never look at this suburban destination in the same way after reading Ritchie’s claustrophobic and enigmatic debut novel.  In a post-apocalyptic Perth, Carousel, is the oppressive, confined setting, both prison and refuge, that indie musicians, Taylor and Lizzie, aimless, arts graduate, Nox, and naïve teenager, Rocky, find themselves inexplicably trapped within.  As weeks become months, the inmates’ existence revolves around survival in a consumerist paradise and a state of desperation borne from the need to escape.  Exploring notions of physical and emotional isolation, the power of art and the individual, Carousel makes for thought-provoking reading.

tRICKSTER, Shane McCauley (Walleah Press, $20.00)
The masked man and cow on the cover of Shane McCauley’s new collection, together with its title, encourage the idea of poetry as a series of masquerades. These poems, which lead readers into different ages, cultures and emotions; from ancient to modern Rome, to Japan, Korea, Paris; are underlaid by the idea of the beauty and transience of life and the significance of love. Always readable, McCauley’s poetry is formally varied and offers many surprises. The final, powerful poem explores the theme of the need for disguise. The poet’s mask is a ‘harmless concealment/protection’ without which he ‘might go running gibbering/from life’s heat’.

Hunting for Witches, The Ludus: Book One, Lana Pecherczyk  (Ludus Books, $19.90)
Hunting for Witches is aptly described as an urban fantasy. Following the adventures of Roo, a ‘gifted’ young woman living in turbulent times where magic and witchcraft weave a potent undercurrent to everyday life in Margaret River. The plot is fast-paced and lovers of fantasy will find themselves riveted to the storyline with Roo being embroiled between the forces of good and evil whilst simultaneously uncovering her identity. Pecherczyk loves to keep her readers guessing. Do grab a copy of this novel when you’ve got some time up your sleeve, lest you miss your chores through an inability to put it down.

May 2015

The Guardians, Lucy Dougan (Giramondo Publishing, $24.00)
Dougan’s third major collection is concerned with the ties that bind us to others and to the animal and natural worlds. In the final poem, she writes of the ‘very wintry picture’ Julia has drawn for her. She ‘endure[s]’ nevertheless ‘in the shelter your pencil has granted me’. The passionate connection expressed here is emblematic of the insights of this unsparing poet’s eye on her world. It’s often haunted by the past; by those unknown spaces that lie just outside our consciousness. The poetry is spare yet infused with tenderness; its intensity often alleviated by humour. This book will give readers immense and ongoing pleasure.

Coming Rain, Stephen Daisley (Text Publishing, $29.99)
Coming Rain is a beautiful novel that immerses the reader in rural life on the dry margins of the WA wheat belt in the 1950’s. The plot charts the harsh lives of two shearers, young Lew and the gnarled Painter who has taken care of Lew for years. Intersecting with the lives of the shearers is a desperate and cunning pregnant dingo, brought vividly to life. Daisley’s tale describes in exquisite, tense prose shearing, killing, and lives dependent on country. There are moments of aching tenderness and heroism that will enrapture readers to the very end. Highly recommended.

Crow’s Breath, John Kinsella (Transit Lounge, $25.95)
John Kinsella is one of WA’s best-loved poets. In Crow’s Breath he brings his love and knowledge of the West Australian landscape to a collection of 27 mini short stories. From school children, environmental activists, business owners, farmers, tourists, misfits and mavericks – Kinsella offers a penetrating insight into the characters that inhabit these stories. Sometimes quirky and surprising, and always poetic, there is something for everyone in these stories that is bound to delight, disturb, thrill and provoke readers. The writing is powerful and at times, breathtaking. This collection will have you packing the car and heading bush in no time!

Harold and Grace, Sean E Avery (Fremantle Press, $24.99)
From cover to cover, this book is a delight. Harold and Grace are friends from birth and this elegant little tale explores what it means to be different. Encompassed within the characters of this little caterpillar and tadpole are many elements of human frailty and the desire to belong. This book is recommended reading for 4-8 year olds and provides a valuable basis for exploring the physical world as well as the nature of friendship and belonging. The illustrations are simply beautiful and the front cover alone will have readers in bookshops all over Australia picking it up and thumbing through.

In Love and War: Nursing Heroes, Liz Byrski (Fremantle Press, $27.99)
In 2007 Liz Byrski returned to her home town of East Grinstead in Sussex to explore a story which had haunted her dreams since childhood. Pioneering plastic surgeon Archie McIndoe treated horrendously burned WWII airmen there and their disfigured faces greatly disturbed the author as a young girl. This fascinating book tells many stories: of a brilliant but unorthodox doctor, of young men recovering from devastating injuries, and of nurses coping with a workplace devoid of accepted professional boundaries.  It is also an honest and brave account of an accomplished writer overcoming unexpected difficulties in order to turn her research into a completed work.


April 2015

Griffith Review 47 ‘Looking West’, eds Julianne Schultz and Anna Haebich, (Text Publishing, $27.95)
From Anna Haebich’s opening essay to the final piece, a story by Amanda Curtin, this issue of Griffith Review is packed with great reading. Despite the rather patronising connotations of its title, the material, all by West Australian writers, is broad ranging, uniformly strong and often fascinating. Carmen Lawrence strikes one of the predominant themes, writing of the ‘cycles of boom and bust - this fixation with mining [that] has marked WA’. The State’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous histories also figure largely, and are brought together in Kim Scott’s idea of the ‘story of our shared history [which] is not over yet’. It’s a landmark publication.

A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay (Walker Books, $16.95)
Strong-willed Jena lives in a village shrouded in superstition and secrets. Like all the other girls, she has been bound and broken since birth to make her small enough to gather precious mica, which keeps her people warm in winter. But after a tragic accident, Jena starts questioning everything she's ever been told, and the truth will have consequences she cannot predict - for everybody. This beautifully written, haunting novel warns of the consequences of blind following, and shows the important difference between appearance and truth. This is award-winning McKinlay's best yet.

The Abrupt Physics of Dying, Paul E Hardisty (Orenda Books,  $29.95)
Perth-based Canadian writer Paul E Hardisty’s first novel The Abrupt Physics of Dying (from new publisher Orenda Books) is an eco-thriller set in Yemen. Claymore Straker, the novel’s protagonist, is an South African ex-veteran schooled in the physical aspects of warfare, now a scientist working for an oil corporation. He starts the novel as an institution man through-and-through, but when he’s kidnapped at gunpoint he’s introduced to the deeper ethnic, religious, moral and socio-political complexities of a country at war with itself. Fast-paced and cleverly written, this novel has bestseller written all over it.

Paul Hasluck: A Life", Geoffrey Bolton (UWA Publishing, $49.99)
In this important biography, Geoffrey Bolton chronicles Paul Hasluck's esteemed career in federal politics that saw him hold a variety of ministerial responsibilities. Perhaps most notable was his work in the Department of External Affairs during World War II, and also his work in Indigenous affairs where he pushed for Aboriginal people to achieve access to the rights and opportunities of Australian citizenship. Hasluck was appointed as the 17th Governor General in 1969-72, preceding John Kerr. This extensively researched biography also covers Hasluck's distinguished career as a historian, essayist and poet. Written in an accessible and engaging style, Bolton provides a complete profile of one of Australia's great statesmen.

March 2015

1915, Sally Murphy (Scholastic, $16.99)
1915 is the latest instalment in the Australia’s Great War Series published by Scholastic Australia. Although 1915 is a work of fiction, the story itself is based upon factual events, namely the Gallipoli landing and subsequent campaigns in Turkey and the pre-landing training in Cairo. The story follows Stanley, a very likeable young schoolteacher from Bunbury who signs up for the war thinking of travel, duty and adventure.  In getting to know Stanley, his family, community and his mates, young readers gain a real sense of the impacts of war on everyday people. 1915 is compelling storytelling for teenagers and young adults.

Bad Seed, Alan Carter (Fremantle Press, $29.99)
Alan Carter’s wonderful character Cato Kwong makes a welcome return in Bad Seed, the third in his series of crime thrillers based in WA.  Cato Kwong’s character has further developed and readers will sense a more assured voice in Bad Seed where we meet murky underworld businessmen in Shanghai, psychopathic misfits in Augusta, and the usual mishmash of likeable rogues and characters amongst Cato’s police colleagues and the criminal world.  As ever, the pace is heart racing and there’s plenty of heart-in-mouth confrontation between good and bad forces. True to Carter’s style, there are also some brilliant one-liners. A great read!

A Time of Secrets, Deborah Burrows, (Macmillan, $29.99)
Australian Women’s Army sergeant Stella Aldridge is the wary yet determined heroine of this enthralling murder mystery set in war-time Melbourne. Deborah Burrows skillfully recreates this particular time and place in our history, moulding detailed research into a fascinating page turner. Interested readers can follow up the further reading and discover more about the war years. Inspired by real events in the South West Pacific and actual intelligence organisations, A Time of Secrets is a gripping whodunit with a thread of romance that brings this era brilliantly to life.

A Small Madness, Dianne Touchell (Allen & Unwin, $16.99)
The first time, young lovers, Rose and Michael have sex changes both of their lives forever.  Shocked by the realization that she is pregnant, Rose starts an emotional, mental and physical downward spiral into “a small madness” that has devastating consequences.  Alternating points-of-view provide a heartbreaking insight into the teenagers’ dilemma.  In a state of escalating denial, Rose finds herself unable to deal with the reality of the situation, while Michael, who is ill-equipped to help, has no-one to turn to for support or advice.  Intense and confronting, this tragic young adult love story sensitively and compassionately explores the issues of teen pregnancy, dysfunctional relationships and mental illness.

February 2015

Black Light, KA Bedford (Fremantle Press, $24.99)
KA Bedford is an original voice in Western Australia’s writing landscape with his quirky blend of fantasy and crime fiction. His latest novel, Black Light is populated with a cast of extraordinary characters including a grieving English widow and an aunt with psychic abilities, an inventor of time machines, a loyal butler and…elves. Flung together in the tiny community of Pelican River (a lovingly reimagined version of Mandurah) in the 1920s, they attempt to solve a life-threatening mystery.  While the story is enjoyable reading, it is the humanity and sincerity that Bedford has imbued in his characters that are the true strength of this novel.

Between Duty and Design, John J. Taylor (UWA Publishing, $59.99)
Even amidst the concrete jungle of present-day central Perth it is hard to miss the distinctive architecture of J. J. Talbot Hobbs.   The Weld Club, Savoy Hotel and War Memorial in King’s Park are amongst the many handsome structures he created for the city.   But what makes Hobbs an even more interesting character is that he also had a very distinguished army career.  In his thorough biography, ‘Between Duty and Design’, John Taylor tells the fascinating story of the soldier and architect, highlighting his place as a citizen of national importance. Written in accessible prose and beautifully compiled, this book has wide appeal.

Vulnerability and Exposure: Footballer scandals, masculine identity and ethics, Rob Cover (UWA Publishing, $39.99)
How many times in recent years have we seen high profile football players embroiled in scandals involving drugs, sexual assault, binge drinking, violence and homophobia? Drawing on contemporary examples, this scholarly work by Rob Cover untangles the various factors that lie behind such incidents, particularly scrutinizing the media, football clubs, and our societal attitudes.  Cover argues that football players themselves are well-placed to recognize the vulnerability of others through their own vulnerability to injury and loss of reputation. This book is a thoughtful read that is likely to make you reflect a little differently next time a scandal hits the news.

The Girl from the Great Sandy Desert, Jukuna Mona Chuguna & Pat Lowe, Illustrated by Mervyn Street (Magabala Books, $16.95)
Steeped in the Walmajarri culture of north-west WA, The Girl from the Great Sandy Desert is a stunning collection of stories as told to Pat Lowe. Told from the perspective of Mana, we meet her extended family and travel with them through their country, living in the desert the way generations before them had done. These stories give valuable insight into the way the Walmajarri people have lived in the desert with water so scarce. We learn about hunting, ceremonies and how families looked after themselves and each other. Thoroughly enjoyable, this book is recommended reading for all West Australians!

The Lion and the Gibbon, Atakelty Hailu Illustrated by Helena Janecic  (Self-published, $22.99)
The Lion and the Gibbon or Aya Anbessa is a wonderful story told to Atakelty Hailu as a child by his aunt. A favourite story with his own children, Hailu decided to share it with all children around the world. Like many generational stories this one offers some sage advice wrapped up within a compelling yarn. It follows the friendship of two great friends, the Lion and the Gibbon and their journey through mistrust and danger to place of courage and peace.  The illustrations are luscious and perfectly complement the storytelling. Highly recommended reading for children over 3 years and adults of any age!

Beyond Home: a daughter’s journey, Robin Bower (Self-published, $18.00)
Eve comes into possession of a diary that renders unstable everything she knows of her family, and she is compelled to travel from Australia to Burma to make sense of her father’s lies and omissions. Robin Bower’s debut novel moves at a fast pace, unfolding a compelling tale of kidnapping and murder set in the cloying humidity of the tropics, against a backdrop of political resistance, corrupt power and the opium trade. Woven through Eve’s story are the life threads of minor characters like the opportunistic drug-addicted housemaid Mya, which speak of oppression and exploitation.

January 2015