AuthorBarbie

Livia Day – Keep Calm and Kill the Chef

Deadlines, an imprint of Twelfth Planet Press, Australia 2019

Livia Day, who also writes as Tansy Rayner Roberts, will appear at the Terror Australis Festival in Cygnet Tasmania from 1 to 3 November 2019.

This is a cozy café crime novel and hence about murder and some mayhem, but it is also a book about friendships, both female and male-female.

We are treated to lots of fun in this somewhat kooky and very youthful novel, the fourth in the Café la Femme series. You don’t need to have read the previous three, but this has whetted my appetite to do so.

Barbie talks with Livia Day
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Angela Meyer – A Superior Spectre

Ventura Press, Australia, 2018
Angela Meyer will appear at the Terror Australis festival in Cygnet Tasmania between 1 and 3 November 2019

Richly redolent of Mann and Kafka, this is a disturbing surreal debut novel by Angela Meyer.

Two principal characters  occupy this story – Leonora Duncan in the 1860s in Scotland and the person we eventually learn to be Jeff in a just slightly future present, a dying man who moves from Australia to Scotland to escape his own life and the possible surveillance of the unnamed authorities. He is in search of release and freedom in a way, but is unable to govern his own parasitic desires.

Angela Meyer talks to Barbie about A Superior Spectre
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Canberra Opera Recital – The Magic of Mozart

Featuring  Clare Therese Hedley, Katrina Wiseman and Nathaneal Patterson
Saturday 26 October 2019 at 3:30pm – 5pm
St Philip’s Anglican Church, MacPherson Street O’Connor

Canberra Opera’s final recital brings the much-loved works of Mozart to Canberra audiences  with pieces from The Marriage of Figaro, Cosi fan tutte and The Magic Flute.

Barbie speaks with Clare Therese Hadley about the concert

Clare Therese Hedley has been involved with Canberra Opera since 2016 and was a part of the chorus in their 2017 production of Die Fledermaus. Clare took on her first principal role with Canberra Opera as Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte in 2018 where she again had the opportunity to work with Ghillian Sullivan.

WOW in wonderful windy Wellington NZ

Opinion, by Barbie Robinson

What’s WOW and why were we there? Canberrans will know that Wellington, like Nara and Beijing, is one of our sister cities. Canberra’s population is about 390,000; Wellington’s is about 413,000. Both are the capital cities of our nations.

Our experiences of Wellington over many years confirm that it is a city which does well in the arts and culture stakes as well as being very live-able and pleasant to visit as a tourist.

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Capital Blues Inc, Wellington New Zealand

Weekly blues at Jack Hackett’s Irish Pub, corner of Dixon and Taranaki Streets Wellington – every Thursday from 8.30pm
Free for Blues Club members and guests

Wellington is one of Canberra’s sister cities, and we attended the 3 October blues night featuring Carol Bean, Terry Casey and Dave Murphy. What a great night out!

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Paul Michael Murray – Contra-Fiction

Meditations on the survivor stories from the ‘Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’, and the culture of secrecy and justification within the Catholic Church
Tuggeranong Arts Centre
3 to 26 October 2019

Paul Michael Murray, draws on personal accounts, research and reflection to try and understand the theology and psychology that leads to a culture of child sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

Paul Murray talks to Barbie about Contra-Fiction. Please note that this interview and the exhibition contain suicide and child abuse themes
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Joanna Baker – The Slipping Place

Impact Press, an imprint of Ventura Press, Australia, 2017

Joanna Baker will be at the Terror Australis Festival in Cygnet, Tasmania, from 31 October to 3 November 2019

This is a story about motherly love and family, clothed in a dark tale of violence, betrayals and secrets. We are taken deeply into the lives of two women, friends Veronica, an artist, and Lesley, a gallerist.

Whilst the story could well have been called ‘Looking for Roland’, as much of the novel has Veronica in search of her elusive son, its title The Slipping Place holds a much greater meaning than its role as the name of a place the women visited with their sons during their childhood.

Joanna Baker talks to Barbie about The Slipping Place
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Dorothy Johnston – Gerard Hardy’s Misfortune

For Pity Sake Publishing, Australia, 2019

Dorothy Johnston will be in the Hall of Writers at Terror Australia Festival on Friday 1 November 10am to 4pm, Cygnet Town Hall, with publisher Jen McDonald and fellow For Pity Sake writer Sara Dowse (
As the lonely fly, 2019).

Declared interest: Barbie Robinson, who wrote this blog, is the designer for the internals of this book.

The many fans of Dorothy Johnston’s sea-change mysteries will not be disappointed by this third novel. It’s atmospheric, a little bit creepy and strange, but as with its two predecessors,  imbued with a sense of place – in this case, the small seaside town of Queenscliff Victoria, but it could, I guess, be any small seaside town. They have their secrets and silences.

Barbie talks with Dorothy Johnston about Gerard Hardy’s Misfortune
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Shamini Flint – Inspector Singh Investigates: A Frightfully English Execution

Piatkus, Great Britain, 2016
Shamini Flint will be at the Terror Australia Festival in Cygnet 1 to 3 November 2019.

This is the seventh in the Inspector Singh series. Where have you been all my life, Inspector Singh?

Inspector Singh is a Sikh policeman based in Singapore, but his investigations take him far afield, this time to London. His presence in London, ostensibly, is to take part in a Commonwealth conference on policing and community relations.

Barbie speaks to Shamini Flint
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Italian Film Festival 2019

Palace Electric Canberra
24 September – 16 October 2019

The 20th Italian Film Festival features 26 recent films and two retrospectives including Bertolucci’s five-hour epic, 1900.

It opens with The Champion, set in in the world of professional, millionaire footballers, and finishes with the Australian premiere of Ron Howard’s biopic Pavarotti, the tenor who became an international superstar from the early 1960s until his death in 2007.

Richard speaks with Festival director, Elysia Zeccola
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David Owen – Why Neville shot Gus

Fullers Publishing, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2019

First conceived some years ago, Why Neville shot Gus is at once a crime novella and an exercise in the principles of crime writing – by someone who has taught the craft. It would spoil the story to go into too much detail, but suffice it to say that David Owen takes us through his usual circuitous paths drawing disparate threads to a satisfying denouement.

We meet each character in some detail as the story proceeds, without always having an inkling of connections but knowing there is one that will be revealed. The disconnected threads do weave together though and the titular character of Neville eventually yields his bigger story.

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David Owen – Big Red Rock

Fullers Publishing, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2017

This is the ninth of David Owen’s Pufferfish series, a complex winding story which delves into all kinds of seedy and nasty aspects of criminal activity and human behavior without, however, giving us the creeps. It is David Owen’s rich sense of humour that keeps us grounded in this story of murder, violence, cruelty, drugs, deception and betrayal.

Whilst humour is not necessarily part of crime fiction, it seems that the best of the genre’s authors demonstrate a healthy sense of not taking themselves entirely seriously.

Barbie speaks with David Owen about Big Red Rock
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Suzanne Edgar – Catching the Light

Ginninderra Press, Port Adelaide, 2019

This is Suzanne Edgar’s fourth solo collection of verse. Divided into sections that lead us through a kind of story line, it is a collection of intimate vignettes, in which there is remembrance and much pain along with conscious happiness. These are intimate poems in which the writer has allowed us to glimpse her vulnerable joys and sorrows.

The sections are: The healing light, Where two walls meet, True minds, Watchers, For want of a spoon and Water sleekly falls.

Suzanne Edgar talks about and reads from Catching the Light
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Lauren Chater – The Lace Weaver

Simon and Schuster 2018

This is a debut novel for Sydney writer Lauren Chater, a story set in Estonia mostly between 1939 and 1941, that exposes the dire human consequences of WWII and successive occupations by the Russians, the German Nazis and the Soviets.

It is also about the importance of cultural identity and the objects and practices that allow a people to hold onto this despite awful events unfolding around them.

Barbie speaks with Lauren Chater
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Well Read Cookies

Beautiful Biscuits inspired by Great Literature
Simon and Schuster 2018

Proving that not only is she a fine writer of historical fiction, Lauren Chater has also shown her domestic goddess side with this delightful cookie cookbook based on her popular The Well-Read Cookie blog.

Drawing on her eclectic personal reading list – as diverse as Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) and It (Stephen King) – Lauren has created bespoke cookies inspired by themes or characters therein. She includes information about how to wrangle royal icing, necessary and desirable equipment, baking techniques and the like.

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