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The Compulsive Reader News
Volume 15, Issue 9, 1 September 2014

New Reviews at Compulsive Reader
Literary News
Survey News
Competition New
Coming soon

Hello readers. Here is the latest batch of reviews this month:

A review of Faber & Faber Poetry Diary 2015

The book is a nice, pocket-book friendly hardcover, with thick, high quality pages, and an elastic to mark the week. The book has a week to a view, with enough room to record (in small writing) activities and appointments for each day (though not enough to write a poem, should you be sufficiently inspired – you’ll need another notebook for that). Each week there is a new poem, starting with Simon Armitage’s “Poetry”, and finishing with Stevie Smith’s “Not Waving Drowning”. The diary also features full colour images of book covers and a Faber poetry chronology. For the full review visit:

A review of Mortal Bonds by Michael Sears

It is a satisfying thriller with a diverse range of well-drawn characters, not least the Kid, Stafford’s autistic son. There are surprises right up to the end, the prose crisp and effective throughout. You learn something about finance along the way. And altogether it feels fresh and cliche-free. Read more:

An interview with Jennifer N Martin

The author of Psoriasis—A Love Story talks about her book, her inspirations, her writing style, her writing mentors, what’s on her reading table, what she learned from writing her book, advice for other writers, her favourite quote, and lots more. For the full interview visit:

A review of San Remo 1930 International Chess Tournament by Robert Sherwood

This is an excellent tournament book, which gives a genuine flavour of the chess milieu of the time. All the games are annotated, the vast majority by Robert Sherwood, though some by Alekhine, Nimzowitsch and other players and contemporary commentators. Read more:

A review of Autoethnographic by Michael Brennan

Autoethnographic is a difficult read. Though the poems are deceptively prosaic, they don’t yield their messages easily, and are unsettlingly dark, disjointed, and at times, so self-referential that they feel like a chaotic nightmare. But once you let go of the desire for linearity and meaning and instead open up to the linguistic subtleties, to new modes of perception, and to the revelations which are decidedly non-linear, the work becomes quite special. For the full review visit:

A review of Fractured Legacy by Charles B Neff

I found characters to be well fleshed, credible, some are not completely likeable, on the other hand. that is what we find in life in general. Situations and locales are dynamic, discourse is realistic, convincing and set down in satisfactory manner. Movement of the narrative grips the reader at the inception, clenches reader attentiveness with a powerful grasp from opening lines to the last paragraphs and leaves the reader with a sentiment of a saga full of twists and turns. Read more:

A review of One Evening in Paris by Nicolas Barreau

The discussion of film elevates the novel above and beyond category romance. Alain’s Uncle Bernard liked films that “had an idea… moved people…[and] gave them a dream to take with them” – all elements necessary for a good story, whether on film or in print. Through Alain, Nicolas Barreau lists the “golden rules” of good film comedy: “a chase is better than a conversation”; “a bedroom is better than a living room”, and “an arrival is better than a departure.” Barreau uses these storytelling principles to good effect in One Evening in Paris. For the full review visit:

A review of The Copper braid of Shannon O’Shea by Laura Esckelson

Each day we write the new rhyme words in our journals and practice saying them. By book’s end we have added many rhyming words to our journals and have enjoyed a really fun tale about a little Irish girl. During the period we work with our globe and maps to help us understand where to find Ireland in the world, we discuss leprechauns and societal tales and the fun of childhood. I find The Copper Braid of Shannon O’Shea to be a wonderful teaching aid, a lovely and fun narrative. Read more:

Interview with John M Cummings

The author of Don’t Forget Me, Bro talks about his novel, the first book he remembers reading as a child, what he’s reading now, his inner garden, the last thing he googled, and what makes him cringe. For the full interview visit:

A review of Unlock Your Style by Nikki Parkinson

There are a few things I really like about this book. The first is that Nikki Parkinson targets the advice in this book to real women, and uses women models who are a variety of ages, shapes and sizes. The second is the warm, down-to-earth, non-judgemental tone that is always focused on feeling good over dictates. Read more:

All of the reviews listed above available at The Compulsive Reader on the first and second pages. Older reviews are kept indefinitely in our extensive categorized archives, which can be browsed from the front page of the site.



In the literary news this month, Alison Alexander won the $25,000 (US$23,300) National Biography Award in Australia for her book The Ambitions of Jane Franklin: Victorian Lady Adventurer. The Sydney Morning Herald noted that Lady Franklin, “born in 1791, built a Greek temple, founded a scientific journal, married an Arctic explorer, adopted Aboriginal children, tried to rid Tasmania of snakes and, by her death, may have been the world’s most traveled woman.” “I can’t help feeling that Jane Franklin is at the moment up at the pearly gates, thinking: ‘Well about time too–it’s about time I’m getting my recognition, even if it is with the colonials, even if that wretched woman did discuss my sex life,’ ” Alexander said.

Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys’s travelogue American Interior is one of 11 stellar debuts longlisted for this year’s Guardian first book award, from the neurosurgeon Henry Marsh’s incisive memoir of brain surgery to Sarah Perry’s highly-praised first novel After Me Comes the Flood. The list for fiction includes Young Skins by Colin Barrett, In the Light of What we Know by Zia Haider Rahman, The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane, After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry, and We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. The full longlist can be found here:

The finalists for the 2014 Thurber Prize for American Humor, given to the author and publisher of “the outstanding book of humor writing published in the U.S.” in the last year, are Liza Donnelly for Women on Men (Narrative Library), John Kenney for Truth in Advertising (Touchstone), and Bruce McCall and David Letterman for This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly Me) (Blue Rider Press). The $5,000 annual award will be presented at a ceremony at Carolines on Broadway in New York City on September 30.

Salman Rushdie received on Sunday a literature award named after Denmark’s most famous poet and fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen. Along with the award, Rushdie received 500,000 Danish kroner (some 90,000 U.S. dollars) and a statue of “Ugly Duckling”, created by Danish sculptor Stine Ring Hansen. The 67-year-old author was handed the prize by Danish Crown Princess Mary in the town of Odense amid tight security due to his status as a former assassination target in accordance with an Iranian fatwa. Before the ceremony, Rushdie attended an event at Odense’s central library, where he spoke about his memoir Joseph Anton. Published in 2012, the book is an account of his life under a fatwa issued by Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini. “I was suffering from enormous psychological stress,” he told the audience in Odense. In 2012, the prize was given to Chilean author Isabel Allende. Other writers to have received the accolade include J.K. Rowling and Paulo Coelho.

American author Ann Leckie secured her place in the annals of science fiction history after her debut novel, Ancillary Justice, was named best novel at the prestigious Hugo awards. In a ceremony held on Sunday night at London’s ExCel centre, as part of this year’s 72nd World Science Fiction convention, the novel – a space opera narrated by the artificial consciousness of a starship – was awarded the highest accolade, making it one of this year’s most garlanded science fiction books. Leckie has been cited as “science fiction’s next big thing” after Ancillary Justice won the 48-year-old author a Nebula award, the esteemed Arthur C Clarke award, the British Science Fiction Association award and now a Hugo. The full list of winners can be found here:

A 29-year-old poet from the outer Hebrides has won the UK’s richest poetry prize with a debut collection that evokes the island where he grew up with “a recurring sense of wonder.” Niall Campbell, who combines writing with looking after his five-month-old son, was awarded the £20,000 Edwin Morgan prize at the Edinburgh international book festival. He was one of six shortlisted for the prize, which was set up this year to honour Scottish poets aged 30 or under. Moontide, published by Bloodaxe in April, has already been shortlisted for the Forward prize for best first collection.

Finalists have been named for this year’s Davitt Awards, presented by Sisters in Crime Australia  for books written by Australian women. The shortlisted books in each of the categories will also be eligible for the Reader’s Choice Award. Winners will be announced August 30 in Melbourne. This year a record 76 books published in 2013 compete for six Davitts – handsome carved polished wooded trophies – to be presented at a gala dinner. The categories are Best Adult Novel; Best Novel Young Adult; Best True Crime Book; Best Debut Book (any category); Readers’ Choice (as voted by the 660 members of Sisters in Crime Australia) and, for the very first time, Best Children’s Novel. For Best Adult Novel, the titles include Honey Brown, Dark Horse, Ilsa Evans, Nefarious Doings: A Nell Forrest Mystery, Annie Hauxwell, A Bitter Taste, Katherine Howell, Web of Deceit, Hannah Kent, Burial Rites, and Angela Savage, The Dying Beach. The full list can be found at:

A novel inspired by the daily toil of a shepherdess and a biography of a Booker prize-winning author have scooped the UK’s oldest literary awards. Novelist Jim Crace and biographer Hermione Lee have been awarded the James Tait Black Prizes. The winners were announced by broadcaster Sally Magnusson at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The prizes have been awarded annually by the University of Edinburgh since 1919. Past winners include DH Lawrence, Graham Greene, Angela Carter and Ian McEwan. The winners receive £10,000. The James Tait Black Prizes are distinctive in the way they are judged. Each year more than 400 novels are read by academics and postgraduate students who nominate books for the shortlist. The awards, organised by the University of Edinburgh’s department of literatures, languages and cultures, were founded by Janet Coats, the widow of publisher James Black.

The Academy of American Poets has awarded Pulitzer Prize-winner and former poet laureate Robert Hass the 2014 Wallace Stevens Award. The award, given annually to “recognize outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry,” comes with $100,000. Hass served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997, and in addition to the Pulitzer, his honors include a National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the William Carlos Williams Award. A former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, he is distinguished professor in poetry and poetics at the University of California, Berkeley. The organization also honored Tracy K. with the Academy of American Poets Fellowship. The prize recognizes “distinguished poetic achievement,” and carries a $25,000 stipend. Smith’s most recent collection, Life on Mars, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. Rigoberto González’s Unpeopled Eden was awarded the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, which also comes with $25,000. The award recognizes an outstanding book of poetry published in the United States in the previous year. The recipients will be honored at the American Poets Prizes ceremony on October 17 at The New School in New York City. For a full list of winners, click here:

Have a great month!


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An intensely personal invocation of the Sophocles tragedy, The Antigone Poems questions power, punishment and one of mythology’s oldest themes: rebellion.




Congratulations to Brooke Shevlin who won a copy of of The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman.

Congratulations also to Zoltan R. Almasi, who won a copy of Marine Park by Mark Chuisano.

Our new site giveaway is for a copy of Marine Park by Mark Chiusano. To win, send me an email at with the subject line “Marine Park”.

We’ve also got a copy of The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner. To win, send me an email at with the subject line “Car Thief”.

We’ve also got a copy of The Mathematician’s Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer. To win, send me an email at with the subject line “The Mathematician’s Shiva”.

Good luck everybody!



We will shortly be featuring reviews of The Double by Maria Takolander (when I can wrestle it back from my son, who is using it for his HSC exams), No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel , Risk Savvy: How to make good decisions by Gerd Gigerenzer, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and lots more reviews, news, interviews, and giveaways.

Don’t forget to drop by The Compulsive Reader talks (see widget on right hand side of the site) or at to listen to the latest interview with the delightful Brooke Davis, author of Lost & Found. You can also subscribe to the show and get updates automatically. Just find us under podcasts by searching for Compulsive Reader. Then just click subscribe.


(c) 2014 Magdalena Ball. Nothing in this newsletter may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher, however reprint rights are readily available. Please feel free to forward this newsletter in its entirety.

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