Category: Book Reviews

Book Reviews

A review of sing out when you want me by Kerri Shying

sing out when you need me is a powerful collection which reads easily but continues to reveal secrets and expand outward with each re-reading.  The mostly short poems stay with you, becoming little charms against all of our inevitable deteriorations. It is all about “keeping going” which, in the face of pain, poverty, confinement, medical visits, the poking and prodding of life itself, becomes a heroic, transcendent act

A review of The Murderer’s Maid by Erika Mailman

Fans of historical fiction (especially those based on true events) will likely enjoyThe Murderer’s Maid.  Mailman clearly did her research—she included some of the documented incidents that are now part of the Borden family lore, and creates an interesting secondary storyline that weaves together the past and present into a compelling read.

A review of A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal

There is never a dull moment throughout Villareal’s novel. I’m not generally the type of reader who’s into vampires, but this novel is on a completely different foundation. Villareal’s detailed portrayals will be very familiar to readers. His gloamings are out there now – they are those celebrities and political leaders that we worship and imitate. This is a book with wide-reaching appeal, which is going to be very very big.  You heard it here first. 

A review of Little Gods by Jenny Ackland

Ackland handles these themes carefully and subtly – never overstating or diagnosing Thistle or Audra, or giving us too many answers in the mystery, but treating all of the characters with a kind of tender acceptance that is unconditional. Mysteries remain. Time moves forward. Memory is entirely unreliable, but the clues it leaves us are all we have. Little Gods is a poetic book full of beauty, loss, and resilience, exploring what remains in our lives as we move past our pivotal transitions and crises.

A review of Beatific Toast by Anna Forsyth

Beatific Toast is a poetry collection that is as rich with silence and music as it is with semantical meaning.  Though the book is only fifty nine pages long – chapbook size – there is a lot of ground covered, with poetry open enough to encourage and reward multiple re-readings. These are poems are charged by sound, by light, by colour and scent, inviting the reader to join in, to participate, not just by reading the work but by moving with it.

A review of The Water Rabbits by Paul Tarragó

The Water Rabbits exposes the limitations of the review process to an embarrassing extent. It is entirely artificial to read this book from cover to cover more or less in one sitting. It is doubly artificial then to sit down and think of things to say about it. The Water Rabbits needs to be read in small doses; indeed, its stories, dialogues and occasional poems and photographs are arranged in small doses. Sense needs to be made of each individually before the collection can be grasped as a whole.

A review of How It Is: Selected Poems by Neil Shepard

And savored these poems should be. Shepard is an exceptional and emphatic writer, with a sharp eye for the telling detail, for landscapes both real and emotional, and for hearing the music in words, as well as in the sounds of the natural world. It’s not just the way his poems and his birds sing, but his poems can startle the senses of the reader with their rich scents as well.

A review of Monash’s Masterpiece by Peter FitzSimons

I’m a military history aficionado, and the amount of information presented within this book is astonishing. I can only guess at how much research went into the preliminaries, and can see similarities to Sir John Monash’s extensive planning before the Battle of Le Hamel. I’m visualising somewhere in Mosman these large white-boards and spreadsheets travelling all around the walls of the FitzSimon’s operations-centre with countless pages of information attached to them.

A review of Brink by Jill Jones

The poems take us to the brink of who we are in many aspects: animal, alien, destroyers, inhabitants, lovers, indivudals and collectives. These are poems that make no concessions to humanity’s frailties. We’re about to reap what we’ve sown and all of these exquisite conceits may be illusions against time’s inevitable collapse: “but all these vapours will be unmade” (“The Woodland Chapel”), and yet there is something audaciously beautiful, subversive and permanent in the moment of our experience, in the placement and play of language and in the almost languid sensuality of touch.

A review of Hairway to Heaven Stories by Patty Somlo

While each story can stand alone, reading them all together in a single volume is an enormous advantage. One of the major accomplishments of Hairway to Heaven is its interconnections and associations, its themes and variations, which gradually resolve themselves – effortlessly, beautifully – into a novelistic whole. Hairway to Heaven is a very good book indeed.