CategoryThe Reading List

This reading list is a contribution to the sharing of books. All sorts of books make their way to my bedside table. Some are sent, some recommended, some given as gifts or lent by someone who has enjoyed reading them.

Others (let’s be frank – many) I see on a bookstore shelf, find irresistible and bring home. A few of these become family members who may not leave my bookshelf, but can be read by guests who stay. Some wander on to other homes and hearts.

If you have books you’d like to talk about contact me via the web contact form.

Kerri Turner – The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers

HQ Fiction Australia, 2019

A dancer herself, Kerry Turner is in an excellent position to write about the professional aspects of dance in this historical fiction set mostly  in a tumultuous Russia between 2014 and 2017 with a postscript in Paris in 1920.

Her fictional hero and heroines are woven into the documented story of the Romanov ballet company, dancers to the Tsar. While there is considerable sympathy for the dancers and the art of ballet, the author does not flinch from the excesses of life in the Imperial orbit.

Barbie speaks with Kerri Turner about The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers
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Diane Armstrong – The Collaborator

Fiction HQ, Australia 2019

This historical novel is based on the life and deeds of Rezsö Kasztner, a controversial figure who saved over a thousand Hungarian Jews on a rescue train in 1944.

His fictional equivalent is Miklós Nagy and much of the detail is imagined but the significant plot details are taken from history including the meetings with Nazis Eichmann and Becher.

Diane Armstrong talks about The Collaborator
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Pamela Cook – Cross My Heart

Wildwords Publishing (independent), 2019

Known for her rural romance fiction, with this fifth novel, Cross My Heart,  Pamela Cook moves into new territory. Not only is the subject matter different, the book is also independently published.

The story explores the inter-generational consequences of child sexual abuse. Two promises made in adolescence and young womanhood drive the plot – one to keep a terrible secret and the other to take on the foster-mothering of her friend’s child should the need arise.

Barbie speaks with Pamela Cook about Cross My Heart
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Andrew Fuller – Your best life at any age

How to acknowledge your past, revive your present & realise your future
bad apple press 2019
Andrew Fuller is a Fellow of the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Learning and Educational Development at the University of Melbourne.

Andrew Fuller’s sympathetic invitation to reflect on our lives and the choices available to us is an absorbing read. After all we are all interested in our ‘selves’, and rightly so, because how else can we expect to make the most of the gift of our lives?

 The book is divided into age groups – the stages of life we pass through if we are fortunate   – and we are advised to perhaps first read our own age bracket and then the ones either side of it – we can see what 500,000 other people have experienced and how we fit into that wealth of life stories. We can also see what we were doing in comparison with others at certain times of life.

Barbie talks to Andrew Fuller about Your Best Life at Any Age
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LJM Owen – The Great Divide

Echo, Australia, 2019

LJM Owen is the Director of the Terror Australis Festival in Cygnet Tasmania and will appear at the festival between 1 and 3 November 2019.

LJ departs from her inter-millenial sleuth series to introduce us to a new hero, Jake Hunter, in a dark tale of decades of child abuse in a small fictitious Tasmanian town called Dunton.

Leaving his police job in Melbourne to escape a personal drama, Jake thinks his posting to Dunton will be a chance for a quiet time to regroup and consider his future, enjoy the peace and mind-space of the rural setting and do some rock climbing.

Barbie talks to LJM Owen about The Great Divide
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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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Joanna Nell – The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker

Hachette, Australia, 2019

Joanna Nells’ second novel is a sensitive, gently humorous story that takes us into the mind of a woman with dementia.

To say this baldly however does scant justice to a beautiful work in which the story of a life unfolds both through the failing mind of Mrs Henry Parker and those around her on the Golden Sunset cruise ship.

Mrs Parker spends most of this story looking for her husband Henry, who has mysteriously disappeared from the ship (perhaps, she thinks) or perhaps she just keeps missing him as their paths fail to cross. We know there is something going on but we are not allowed to know what until the very end – satisfyingly.

Joanna Nell talks about The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker
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Tara Moss – Dead Man Switch

Harper Collins, Australia , 2019
Tara Moss appeared at the Terror Australis Festival, 1 to 3 November 2019 in Cygnet, Tasmania

Dead Man Switch is Tara Moss’s first foray into historical crime fiction, set in Sydney in 1946. It is her 12th novel and introduces us to a new character, Private Investigator Ms Billie Walker.

(And yes, Wiki tells us that Ms was an acceptable abbreviation for Mistress, in England, in the 17th and 18thcenturies, which then enjoyed a revival in the 20th century, a surprise to all of us who thought it was a modern phenomenon.)

Barbit talks with Tara Moss about Dead Man Switch
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Sulari Gentill on Bouchercon and the Terror Australis Festival

What is Bouchercon and why are Sulari Gentill and three fellow writers, Emma Viskic, Jock Serong and Robert Gott, going there?

Bouchercon® is the annual world mystery convention. Readers, writers, publishers, editors, agents, booksellers and other lovers of crime fiction gather for 4 days of education, entertainment, and fun.

Sulari Gentill talks about Bouchercon and the Terror Australis Festival
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Angela Savage – The Dying Beach

Text Publishing, Melbourne, Australia, 2013

Angela Savage will appear at the Terror Australia Festival in Cygnet Tasmania 1 to 3 November 2019

Angela Savage is the Director of Writers Victoria. She is a Melbourne-based crime writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. Her first novel, Behind the Night Bazaar, won the 2004 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript.

Savage is a winner of the Scarlett Stiletto Award and has twice been shortlisted for Ned Kelly awards.

Barbie talks to Angela Savage about The Dying Beach
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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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Kerry Greenwood – Murder and Mendelssohn

Phryne Fisher’s 20th mystery
Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2013
Kerry Greenwood will appear at Terror Australia Festival in Cygnet 1 to 3 November 2019

This is a book about love.  

In the best tradition of crime fiction, we do have a body in the first three pages. We also have, deftly drawn, Phryne in all her fashionable splendour and intellectual acuity, her side-kick and favourite policeman Jack Robinson, significant members of her household – Dot, Mr Butler (the butler) and Ember (the cat) and by reference Sergeant Hugh Collins, Dot’s beau.

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