Fancy a trip to Scotland?

I came across this poster on Twitter and was surprised that there were several books here that I haven’t read.  I have read six of the fourteen displayed.  I will need to look out for the remaining eight. Have you read any of these? I enjoy crime fiction that is why the poster caught my attention.

The last book written by Andrew McGahan

What a strange book this was.

The book is set in Tasmania and I picked it up because I had read his Miles Franklin Award winning book, The White Earth.

I am not someone who would normally read books about the paranormal and at almost 600 pages, requiring some suspension of disbelief, particularly at the end, this book kept me reading right up to the end.  I will admit that the beginning had me doubting if I would continue to read as there was quite a bit of explanation of geological aspects of the setting but it wasn’t until later in the novel that I realised the importance of knowing this information.

The action chapters are interspersed with newspaper articles and scientific journal entries which interweave the history with the storyline.

“In the freezing Antarctic waters south of Tasmania, a mountain was discovered in 1642 by the seafaring explorer Gerrit Jansz. Not just any mountain but one that Jansz estimated was an unbelievable height of twenty-five thousand metres.

In 2016, at the foot of this unearthly mountain, a controversial and ambitious ‘dream home’, the Observatory, is painstakingly constructed by an eccentric billionaire – the only man to have ever reached the summit.

Rita Gausse, estranged daughter of the architect who designed the Observatory is surprised, upon her father’s death, to be invited to the isolated mansion to meet the famously reclusive owner, Walter Richman. But from the beginning, something doesn’t feel right. Why is Richman so insistent that she come? What does he expect of her?

When cataclysmic circumstances intervene to trap Rita and a handful of other guests in the Observatory, cut off from the outside world, she slowly begins to learn the unsettling – and ultimately horrifying – answers.”

Not my usual fare, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and would highly recommend it.

More Australian authored books

Peace by Garry DisherAnother Australian book, crime fiction, this one set in South Australia.  If you have read Bitter Wash Road you will love this one as it is a follow on to Constable Paul Hirschhausen but can still be read as a stand alone book.

“Constable Paul Hirschhausen runs a one-cop station in the dry farming country south of the Flinders Ranges. He’s still new in town but the community work-welfare checks and working bees-is starting to pay off. Now Christmas is here and, apart from a grass fire, two boys stealing a ute and Brenda Flann entering the front bar of the pub without exiting her car, Hirsch’s life has been peaceful.

Until he’s called to a strange, vicious incident in Kitchener Street and Sydney police ask him to look in on a family living outside town on a forgotten back road.

Suddenly, it doesn’t look like a season of goodwill at all.”

I loved every minute of this book.  A cracking read.

Wow!  What a great read this was.  I was guessing right up to the last page.  Full of twisted plots and set in the coastal town of Port Silver, similar to many towns on the Australian coastline.

“Martin Scarsden returns in the sequel to the bestselling Scrublands. For half a lifetime, journalist Martin Scarsden has run from his past. But now there is no escaping.

He’d vowed never to return to his hometown, Port Silver, and its traumatic memories. But now his new partner, Mandy Blonde, has inherited an old house in the seaside town and Martin knows their chance of a new life together won’t come again.

Martin arrives to find his best friend from school days has been brutally murdered, and Mandy is the chief suspect. With the police curiously reluctant to pursue other suspects, Martin goes searching for the killer. And finds the past waiting for him.

He’s making little progress when a terrible new crime starts to reveal the truth. The media descend on Port Silver, attracted by a story that has it all: sex, drugs, celebrity and religion. Once again, Martin finds himself in the front line of reporting.

Yet the demands of deadlines and his desire to clear Mandy are not enough: the past is ever present.”

This novel was every bit as good as Scrublands.

Missing for a while

I just haven’t been motivated to write blog posts recently but now that we are staying at home I have no excuse.

I will start with some of my latest reads.  As we have had time at home I have had time to get some reading done. Both of these books are by Australian authors and are set in Australia.

The first is one from off my shelves.  An old book which I hadn’t read although I have already read some of this series starring Murray Whelan. This book won the Ned Kelly Prize in 1996.

The Murray Whelan crime fiction series is laugh out loud stuff. Murray is advisor to  Victorian State ALP MP, Angelo Agnelli and after a Cabinet reshuffle his boss is moved to the Water and Arts portfolio, this thrusts Murray into the cut throat and murderous world of the Melbourne arts community where he will be dealing with forged paintings, conspiracies involving prominent members of the government’s arts policy committees and some fun romantic interludes.

The turn of phrase and the colloquialisms used made me laugh out loud. It was refreshing to read a book that was set in Melbourne with many places mentioned being places I have visited. Not sure if the novel would be appreciated quite so much by those not acquainted with the city.

A light, funny and enjoyable read.

The Good Woman of Renmark is a book borrowed from my reading group.

“Adventure, romance and history combine in this thrilling 19th century journey through the South Australian bush and along the mighty Murray River in the company of a determined heroine.

Maggie O’Rourke has always had a hard head. No man was going to tie her down to a life of babies and domestic slavery, even if that man was as good (and as annoyingly attractive) as Sam Taylor. Maggie is happily earning her own way as a maid in a house on the Murray River when disaster strikes.

The novel reminded me of the tv series with John Waters and Sigrid Thornton, All The Rivers Run. The novel gives us a glimpse of the social history of the time. Women did not yet have the vote and the suffragette movement was growing every day.

Another enjoyable read.

Australian Children’s Literature

On our recent visit to Canberra I was able to visit the exhibition on Australian Children’s Literature at the National Library of Australia.

The building always impresses me and reminds me of the Parthenon in Greece.

The exhibition was in its last few days so I was lucky to be able to get to Canberra in time to see it.

The exhibition was well worth the visit as it brought back so many happy memories of reading to our children when they were little and also our grandchildren.

The art work on display was amazing and such a variety.  There was even an illustration by my favourite illustrator, Robert Ingpen.

It doesn’t look terrific in the photo but all of that work is hand drawn, including the newspaper in the background.  Amazing.

The first part of the exhibition was a display of all the paintings from the book The Rainbow Serpent.

Again the artwork was beautiful.

There were books from the earliest time of European settlement up to the present day.

There was a special area for children so they could sit and look through or read the picture books that were available.  The green sheep from Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox was hidden high up on a shelf so the children had to look up to find it.

There were drafts of the drawings for that particular book.

Also there was poster artwork relating to a spin off from Mem Fox’s famous book , Possum Magic.An Australian Classic Snugglepot and Cuddlepie has also lent itself to commercial spin offs.

I wonder why there isn’t a soft toy of the Big Bad Banksia Man?  Only joking.

So many of my favourite books were on display.

The collaged illustrations by Jeanie Baker.

The story, through time, of a particular area in Australia. My Place by Nadia Wheatley.  You will need to click on the illustrations to enlarge them.

Beautiful illustration from Are We There Yet?

So many books from the teenage years.  Here are just a few but not including the Hippopotamus on our roof eating cake. 🙂

We spent quite some time going through the exhibition as there was so much material on display.  It certainly showcased the depth of literature written by Australian authors and readily available to children.

Well done to the National Library of Australian for curating this wonderful exhibition.


My favourite illustrator again.

I have posted before about the Australian illustrator Robert Ingpen and mentioned a book called Wonderlands.  I was lucky enough to find the book at a much reduced price when we were in Melbourne visiting our elder daughter and her family.  A great bargain.

I just love his artwork.

From Wind in the Willows.

I am enjoying dipping into the book as it makes me happy when I look at the illustrations.