I am going to stop beginning my monthly post about what I’ve been reading by commenting what a busy month I’ve had – but oh boy has March been a hectic month. I have been doing work things and writerly things, and hope to snatch some time to post about exciting things very soon. In the meantime, here’s what I read in March.
Books for Children (and Adults, too!)
- Beneath the Trees, by Cristy Burne. West Aussie writer Cristy knows how to tell an exciting story that kids will love. This, her latest book, is an adventure story involving a platypus, a flooded river, leeches and a whole lot of trouble. Cristy recently guest blogged over on my other website Aussiereviews – see what she had to say here.
2. D’Lila LaRue, by Nette Hilton, illustrated by A. Yi (Walker, 2021). D’Lila is quite delightful. This chapter book has three stand alone stories each featuring D’Lila and her Nanny Anny as they have adventures, make sense of the world and even help others (even when it is accidental). Charming.
3. Tiptoeing Tracker Tod, by Charmaine Papertalk Green (Oxford University Press, 2014). Tod and his family live in the city, but tod wants to be the best tracker ever. Luckily his awesome Unc Bullfrog is willing to teach him everything knows. This verse novel is part of Oxford Press Yarning Strong series, which profiles Aboriginal stories for young readers. Love it.
4. The Rock From the Sky, by Jon Klassen (Walker, 2021). This one arrived in a shipment of review copies and I didn’t shelve it in my tbr pile. In fact, I didn’t even put it next to my chair to read later. I stood at the bench where I’d opened the box, and read it straight away. Not due for release until April 21, so you have some time to pick up your own copy – but if you love Klassen, or turtles, or silliness, or wry humour, then this one is for you.
5. The Haunting, by Margaret Mahy (Puffin, 1982). I hadn’t read this one before, so enjoyed getting to know it. Mahy is a fine writer, and I loved Barney and his family. When his great uncle Barnabas dies, Barney finds himself mysteriously haunted, not by Uncle Barnaby, but by someone else – another mysterious Great Uncle he never knew he had. I enjoyed the premise, the twists, and the subtle nod to girl power.
6. For Keeps: A Treasury of Stories Poems and Plays Celebrating 100 Years of The School Magazine (NSW Department of Education, 2016). I went to a celebration of the NSW School magazine turning 100, and knew of this anthology, but had never read it, which was remiss of me. A real pleasure to see poems, stories and plays from across the 100 years, in their original form.
7. Eric Carle’s Animals Animals (Penguin Random House, 2020). Another anthology, this time of animal poems from around the world, illustrated by Eric Carle. Some wonderful poetry and, as always, Carle’s illustrations are bright and intriguing.
Fiction for Adults
- Eye of a Rook, by Josephine Taylor (Fremantle Press, 2021). This is a book I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. Set in two time periods – Victorian London, and modern day Perth, and following the stories of two women suffering intolerable pain, with the medical profession seemingly unable to help – and even, it seems, unwilling to believe. I had no knowledge of vulvodynia, and when I read Josephine’s guest blog for Aussiereviews, I was equal parts intrigued and unsure how it could be woven into a narrative – even while seeing what the importance of speaking about it. I needn’t have been unsure – the book is superb, and I hope it is widely read, as a story and as a way in to the topic.
- The Wife and the Widow, by Christian White (Affirm, 2020). I listened to this one on Audible, after I also listened to White’s Second Skin last month. It’s been a while since I read thrillers or murder mysteries very often, but I do enjoy a well woven one where the characters are as important as the mystery, which is definitely the case here. Told through the dual third person perspectives of Kate, whose husband is missing, and Abby, who has to confront realising her husband is a murderer. There are twists and, as I said, character development, and a satisfying ending.
- Zero Day Code, by John Birmingham (Audible, 2019). It’s been a while since I read a John Birmingham book, but not for any reason – I do like a thriller, even when they scare me. The premise here – the impacts of global warming and globalisation on the food chain, and how wars can be fought by further disrupting that chain, as well as through cyber warfare – are unsettling, but very plausible. By the time I finished, though, I needed a happier read in the form of the Margaret Mahy book above.
- Bridgerton: the Duke and I, by Julia Quinn. I read this (free from Audible) the books and, more often, the Netflix series keep popping up in my social media scenes and I wanted to know what the fuss was about. I have long liked historical romance/sagas, but have to admit this one left me squirming and really wanting to discuss the problematic aspects. Perhaps I shouldn’t have read it straight after Women of a Certain Rage (below), but it’s rare that a book leaves me feeling icky.
- How to Be an Author: The Business of Being an Author in Australia, by Georgia Richter & Deborah Hunn (Fremantle Press, 2021). Filled with practical information about becoming and being an author. A little writing advice, but chiefly about the business side – getting published, staying published, working with an editor, promotion and more. With lots of input from some of WA’s finest authors. Lots of good advice. The authors also guest blogged on Aussiereviews last month – which you can see here.
- Women of a Certain Rage, life stories introduced by Liz Byrski (Fremantle Press, 2021). I wondered if I was strong enough to read this book. there is a lot to be angry about in the world at present, and I wondered if absorbing other women’s rage was a good idea. But I’m glad I opened and read it – yes, it is about rage, but it is about the whys of rage, from deeply personal perspectives. Each story is very different, band each evokes compassion, empathy and, yes, rage. My head was sore from nodding along, but I loved this book and encourage everyone – not only women – to read it.