New Books / Reviews

Listings and Reviews of New Books Autumn 2024

Book reviews are sourced from various publishers and distributors.

Two extraordinary Indigenous stories set five generations apart. When Mulanyin meets the beautiful Nita in Edenglassie, their saltwater people still outnumber the British. As colonial unrest peaks, Mulanyin dreams of taking his bride home to Yugambeh Country, but his plans for independence collide with white justice. Two centuries later, fiery activist Winona meets Dr Johnny. Together they care for obstinate centenarian Granny Eddie, and sparks fly, but not always in the right direction. What nobody knows is how far the legacies of the past will reach into their modern lives. In this brilliant epic novel, Melissa Lucashenko torches Queensland’s colonial myths, while reimagining an Australian future.

Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is set in Kerala, on India’s Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning and in Kerala, water is everywhere. At the turn of the century, a twelve-year-old girl from Kerala’s Christian community, grieving the death of her father, is sent by boat to her wedding, where she will meet her forty-year-old husband for the first time. From this unforgettable new beginning, the young girl and future matriarch, Big Ammachi, will witness unthinkable changes over the span of her extraordinary life, full of joy and triumph as well as hardship and loss, her faith and love the only constants.

A shimmering evocation of a bygone India and of the passage of time itself, The Covenant of Water is a hymn to progress in medicine and to human understanding and a humbling testament to the hardships undergone by past generations for the sake of those alive today. Imbued with humour, deep emotion, and the essence of life, it is one of the most masterful literary novels published in recent years.

Change is coming to Sweden’s far north: its untapped natural resources are sparking a gold rush with the criminal underworld leading the charge. But it’s not the prospect of riches that brings Lisbeth Salander to the small town of Gasskas. She has been named guardian to her niece Svala, whose mother has disappeared. Two things soon become clear: Svala is a remarkably gifted teenager and she’s being watched.

Mikael Blomkvist is also heading north. He has seen better days. Millennium magazine is in its final print issue, and relations with his daughter are strained. Worse still, there are troubling rumours surrounding the man she’s about to marry. When the truth behind the whispers explodes into violence, Salander emerges as Blomkvist’s last hope.

A pulse-pounding thriller, The Girl in the Eagle’s Talons sees Salander and Blomkvist navigating a world of conspiracy and betrayal, old enemies and new friends, ice-bound wilderness and the global corporations that threaten to tear it apart.

One Thursday afternoon in the seniors’ centre, a decade-old cold case, their favourite kind, leads the Thursday Murder Club to a local news legend and a murder with no body and no answers. A new foe they call “Viking”, wants Elizabeth to kill former KGB chief Viktor, or he will kill her sweet best friend Joyce. Activist marked for death Ron and psychiatrist Ibrahim chase clues for Viking’s identity, and investigate mob-queen prisoner from last book.

This third adventure ranges from a prison cell with espresso machine to a luxury penthouse with swimming pool high in the sky.

Get ready for a wild ride through the Summer of Love with Dave Warner’s newest crime novel.

Two Australian police officers travel to San Francisco and Los Angeles in the summer of 1967 in search of a missing young man, only to find themselves fully immersed in the world of music, free love, drugs and hippie counterculture. They soon realise this isn’t just any ordinary missing person investigation. A big gig is the perfect place to get away with murder, and their search becomes a thrilling journey through the seamy side of the 1960s counterculture.

Defence attorney Mickey Haller is back, taking the long shot cases, where the chances of winning are one in a million. After getting a wrongfully convicted man out of prison, he is inundated with pleas from incarcerated people claiming innocence. He enlists his half-brother, retired LAPD Detective Harry Bosch, to weed through the letters, knowing most claims will be false.

Bosch pulls a needle from the haystack: a woman in prison for killing her husband, a sheriff’s deputy, but who still maintains her innocence. Bosch reviews the case and sees elements that don’t add up, and a sheriff’s department intent on bringing quick justice in the killing of one of its own.

Now Haller has an uphill battle in court, a David fighting Goliaths to vindicate his client. The path for both lawyer and investigator is fraught with danger from those who don’t want the case reopened and will stop at nothing to keep the Haller-Bosch dream team from finding the truth.

 

 

 

 

These guides to more than 40 walks are a wonderful source of information and introduce you to places off the beaten track.

Each walk has detailed information about how to get there, site description, distance and difficulty of the walk, a detailed map and a list of birds you are likely to see en route. The books are illustrated with Damian’s beautiful photos of the landscape and, of course, of the birds. 

Our brain is a muscle. Like our bodies, it needs exercise. In the last few hundred years, we have stopped training our memories and we have lost the ability to memorise large amounts of information.

Memory Craft introduces the best memory techniques humans have ever devised, from ancient times and the Middle Ages, to methods used by today’s memory athletes. Lynne Kelly has tested all these methods in experiments which demonstrate the extraordinary capacity of our brains at any age.

For anyone who needs to memorise a speech or a play script, learn anatomy or a foreign language, or prepare for an exam, Memory Craft is a fabulous toolkit. It offers proven techniques for teachers to help their students learn more effectively. There are also simple strategies for anyone who has trouble remembering names or dates, and for older people who want to keep their minds agile. Above all, memorising things can be playful, creative and great fun.

Virginia, 1943: World War II is raging in Europe and on the Pacific front when Kit Sutherland is recruited to help the war effort as a codebreaker at Arlington Hall, a former girls’ college now serving as the site of a secret US Signals Intelligence facility in Virginia. But Kit is soon involved in another kind of fight: Government girls are being brutally murdered in Washington DC, and when Kit stumbles onto a bloody homicide scene, she is drawn into the hunt for the killer.
 
To find the man responsible for the gruesome murders and bring him to justice, Kit joins forces with other female codebreakers at Arlington Hall: gossip queen Dottie Crockford, sharp-tongued intelligence maven Moya Kershaw, and cleverly resourceful Violet DuLac from the segregated codebreaking unit. But as the girls begin to work together and develop friendships and romance they never expected, two things begin to come clear: the murderer they’re hunting is closing in on them and Kit is hiding a dangerous secret.

Retired from the Australian Army after fifteen years, mainly on active service with Special Forces on the front line, Mort’s first goal on returning home to Brisbane is to investigate how his wife died in a car accident. The trail leads him through some intriguing industrial espionage cases, and deeper, uncovering both police and political corruption within his home state of Queensland. With no one else to turn to, it is up to he and his colleague ‘Pig’ to combat this insidious state of affairs, battling not only crooked police and politicians but outlaw Bikie gangs as well.

The story combines the topical subjects of hacking, bikie gang power, police and political corruption, all embedded into the unique Queensland political environment.

Mort and his colleague use the skills learnt fighting on the front line and beyond, combined with their digital communication (i.e. hacking!) training and use some pretty ‘high technology toys’ to good effect providing readers with a stimulating and exciting journey through to a nerve gripping climax.

This action thriller is full of intrigue and suspense, readers eager to see where the next page leads. There is a dose of romance for Mort thrown in, the characters are straight forward and down to earth, with touches of Jack Reacher, Jon Resnick and Case Lee all rolled into one with an Australian flavour and location, and of course the Aussie sense of humour!

 

 

You just boarded a flight to New York. There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers on-board. What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped. For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die. The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.

DC Jack Warr and his girlfriend Maggie have just moved to London to start a new life together. Though charming, Jack can’t seem to find his place in the world until he’s drawn into an investigation that turns his life upside down.

In the aftermath of a fire at an isolated cottage, a badly charred body is discovered, along with the burnt remains of millions of stolen, untraceable bank notes.  Jack’s search leads him deep into a murky criminal underworld, a world he finds himself surprisingly good at navigating. As the line of the law becomes blurred, how far will Jack go to find the answers and what will it cost him?

Futureproof Your Garden is a go-to resource for anyone who wants expert advice on how to use, capture and store water efficiently in times of drought or deluge. Angus and Emma help you to choose plants that not only suit your personal style, but that can adapt to changing environments. A photographic plant directory is packed with information on what to plant where, and the pair share design know-how that’s adaptable to outdoor spaces of all sizes. Soil care is considered in comprehensive detail, and photo essays offer step-by-step garden DIY how-tos, including wicking beds, capillary watering, deep irrigation and ollas.

Make the most of a guide to plant selection that equips you to create landscapes that are functional, beautiful and resilient, covering techniques for ornamental, habitat and edible gardens. Filled with knowledge and wisdom from two generations of widely respected horticulturalists, this is a must-have for any gardener looking to the future of what to plant and grow.

Angus Stewart is a Hobart-based horticulturalist who has spent a lifetime working with plants. He was a long-time presenter on Gardening Australia, and Futureproof Your Garden is his sixth book. Sydney-based horticulturalist Emma Stewart inherited her father’s passion and is dedicated to a sustainable gardening future.

 

 

The future direction – What you can do – Assessing the schemes – More efficient use of water – Recycling our water – Storing more water – Producing more water – Transporting water – Engineering the weather – Australia’s water : the facts – Ideas for future supplies – Desalination – Water cartage – Piping water – National water grid.

In this ground-breaking book, veteran science correspondent Fred Pearce travels to more than thirty countries to examine the current state of crucial water sources.

Deftly weaving together the complicated scientific, economic, and historic dimensions of the world water crisis, he provides our most complete portrait yet of this growing danger and its ramifications for us all.

Creating a colourful and interesting garden that is also waterwise is easy with this comprehensive guide.

This book sets out the six easy-to-use principles that will allow you to create a beautiful garden that not only uses water wisely, but also creates a resilient, sustainable and low maintenance environment. Waterwise Plants and Gardening also describes 400 of the best dry-tolerant plants, from large trees to small bulbs, and includes groundcovers, climbers, shrubs and perennials. Every plant is illustrated with a colour photograph, along with a full description and notes on growing conditions and maintenance.

There are also lists to help you pick the right waterwise plant for the situation. Combining Australia’s longest selling book on waterwise gardening with the author’s follow up on waterwise plants, this revised and updated edition uses symbols, full colour photographs and easy-to-follow diagrams to create the complete guide to waterwise gardening for Australian conditions. Kevin Walsh is a horticulturist, garden designer and writer.

When someone is taken away, what is left behind?  All her life Till has lived in the shadow of the abduction of a childhood friend and her tormented wondering about whether she could have stopped it.  When Till, now twenty-three, senses danger approaching again, she flees her past and the hovering presence of her fearful parents. In Wirowie, a town on its knees, she stops and slowly begins creating a new life and home. But there is something menacing here too. Till must decide whether she can finally face down, even pursue, the darkness or whether she’ll flee once more and never stop running.

Both a reckoning with fear and loss and a recognition of the power of belonging, Days of Innocence and Wonder is a richly textured, deeply felt new novel from one of Australia’s finest writers.

Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her looming height or her dreary, isolated hometown on an island in the Pacific Northwest. But whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit and neither does Freya, an ethereal beauty and once famous social media influencer who now owns the local pottery studio.

After signing up for a class, Low quickly falls under Freya’s spell. And Freya, buoyed by Low’s adoration, is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, both feel a sense of belonging until Jamie walks through the studio door. Desperate for a baby, she and her husband have moved to the island hoping that the healthy environment will result in a pregnancy. Freya and Jamie become fast friends, as do their husbands, leaving Low alone once again.

Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, one night of debauchery that they would put behind them, but instead, it upends their lives. And provides Low the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.

Victor Cavalier has received the phone call every parent dreads: his daughter is lying in a coma after a motorcycle accident and given little chance of survival. But when a mysterious scientist known as the Shaman intervenes to save his daughter’s life, Victor decides he must meet this maverick genius.

The Shaman has developed cold fusion technology that harnesses atomic energy from water. It can be used to replace combustion engines, revolutionising transport and power generation but also to build a terrifying weaponry, making him the target of a ruthless international organisation that will do anything to gain control of this new technology. Now all that stands in their way is Victor, an investigative reporter and undercover operative with lethal skills and a talent for getting to the bottom of the story.

Art dealer Alex Clayton and conservator John Porter are thrilled to be previewing the Melbourne International Museum of Art’s (MIMA) newest exhibition, until they witness a museum worker collapse and badly damage a reportedly cursed painting  Belief in the curse is strengthened when MIMA’s senior conservator Meredith Buchanan dies less than twenty-four hours later while repairing the work. But Alex and John are convinced there is a decidedly human element at work in the museum.

The evidence sets them on the trail of a mysterious painting that could hold a key to Meredith’s death, and the stakes are raised higher when Alex is offered her dream job at MIMA. Damaging the museum’s reputation will jeopardise her professional future. The friends soon realise they are facing an adversary far more ruthless than they had anticipated and there is much more at risk than Alex’s career.

Edith and Frances, living with their mother on a tiny farm in the south-west of Australia, are visited by their cousin Leopold and his Armenian friend Aram. The two young men are taking the long way home after working on an archaeological dig in Iraq. It is 1937. The modern world, they say, is waiting to erupt. Among the tales they tell is the story of Gilgamesh, the legendary king of Uruk in ancient Mesopotamia. Gilgamesh’s great journey of mourning after the death of his friend Enkidu, and his search for the secret of eternal life, is to resonate through all of their lives.

In 1939 Edith and her young child set off on an impossible journey of their own, to find themselves trapped by the outbreak of war. The story of this journey is the story of encounters and escapes, of friendship and love, of loss and acceptance. Moving between rural Australia, London, the Caucasus and the Middle East, from the last days of the First World War to the years following the Second, Joan London’s stunning novel examines what happens when we strike out into the world, and how, like Gilgamesh, we find our way home.

Songlines: The Power and Promise by Margo Neale and Lynne Kelly, 2020

Songlines: First Knowledges for Younger Readers by Margo Neale and Lynne Kelly, 2023

Songlines: The Power and Promise has a blend of Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices. It offers what Margo Neale calls ‘the third archive’. Aboriginal people use songlines to store their knowledge, while Western cultures use writing and technology. Aboriginal people now use a third archive – a combination of the two.

The authors believe that the third archive offers a promise of a better way for everyone to store, maintain and share knowledge while gaining a much deeper relationship with it.

Our Laws are forever present and provide the pathways for all Australians to truly learn how to belong to this continent.’ – June Oscar’No other current work has been able to so comprehensively explain the significance of traditional law in all its manifestations.’ – Henry ReynoldsLaw is culture, and culture is law. Given by the ancestors and cultivated over millennia, Indigenous law defines what it is to be human. Complex and evolving, law holds the keys to resilient, caring communities and a life in balance with nature.Marcia Langton and Aaron Corn show how Indigenous law has enabled people to survive and thrive in Australia for more than 2000 generations. Nurturing people and places, law is the foundation of all Indigenous societies in Australia, giving them the tools to respond and adapt to major environmental and social changes. But law is not a thing of the past. These living, sophisticated systems are as powerful now as they have ever been, if not more The Way of the Ancestors challenges readers to consider how Indigenous law can inspire new ways forward for us all in the face of global crises.

Lynne Kelly has discovered that a powerful memory technique used by the ancients can unlock the secrets of the Neolithic stone circles of Britain and Europe, the ancient Pueblo buildings in New Mexico and other prehistoric stone monuments across the world. We can still use the memory code today to train our own memories.

In the past, the elders had encyclopaedic memories. They could name all the animals and plants across the landscape, and the stars in the sky too. Yet most of us struggle to memorise more than a short poem.

Using traditional Aboriginal Australian songlines as the key, Lynne Kelly has identified the powerful memory technique used by indigenous people around the world. She has discovered that this ancient memory technique is the secret behind the great stone monuments like Stonehenge, which have for so long puzzled archaeologists.

The stone circles across Britain and northern Europe, the elaborate stone houses of New Mexico, the huge animal shapes at Nasca in Peru, and the statues of Easter Island all serve as the most effective memory system ever invented by humans. They allowed people in non-literate cultures to memorise the vast amounts of practical information they needed to survive.

The subject of this book is a young woman: an awkward, insecure, restless and ‘knowing’ child who learns that self-realisation depends on rebellion and escape, but that the latter will first demand at least the semblance of conformity. In telling lies, Laura learns both the astonishing allure of fiction and the social costs of stepping beyond the bounds of propriety, gender, class, and family ties.

The novel is only in part a fictionalised account of Richardson’s school years at the Presbyterian Ladies College, Melbourne, where (unlike her fictional counterpart) she was not only academically successful but also an outstanding student of music. Unusual for stories of school-life, The Getting of Wisdom was clearly aimed at a mature readership able to understand irony and a critique of the colonial educational provision of its day, including a determination to preserve sexual ignorance in young women.

A book of Australian birds commonly found in coastal areas. Each page contains a riddle to engage the reader with the illustration and try and guess the name of the bird. The name of each bird is under a hidden flap.

This book aims to both familiarise readers with the twelve birds included within the pages but also teach them what to look for when trying to identify birds in real life.

The Bush Birds, written and illustrated by Bridget Farmer, consists of twelve riddles for readers to guess which Australian native bird, commonly found in open forests or woodlands, is being depicted.

Lift the hidden flap on each double page to find out the answer. These birds are maybe a bit less well known than the twelve birds in Bridget’s first book, Kookaburra.

But by interacting with the riddles and illustrations readers will soon familiarise themselves with these beautiful birds and find enjoyment in seeking them out while out on their bushwalks.

Information about each bird can be found at the back, as well as a few tips for birding and helping with identifying your spottings!

The illustrations are all created from dry point etchings which have been hand coloured with watercolour paints.

Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida, war photographer, gambler, and closet queen has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him.

In a country where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers, and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster round can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to the photos that will rock Sri Lanka.

Detective Dave Burrows is devastated. After an acrimonious divorce, Dave has no choice but to let his ex-wife and her father Mark call the shots: supervised, one-hour visits are all he’s allowed if he wants to see his two young daughters. And he knows he’ll jump through any hoops to see Bec and Alice.

On Leo Perry’s farm, sixty kilometres out of Yorkenup, the only positive in Leo’s day is the unswerving loyalty of his dog, Coffee. Thanks to yet another power outage, Leo is out in the morning heat, refuelling the water pump. But seconds later he watches in horror as the tank explodes. Flames engulf wooden beams and sparks ignite grass just as Leo realises he’s at the end of a one-way petrol trail, the fire roaring straight for him.

When Dave and his partner Detective Bob Holden are called to Leo’s ravaged farm, they’re unclear if they’re dealing with arson, suicide or something else. There’s been no sign of Leo anywhere, and his wife Jill is distraught. Leo and his dog appear to have vanished. But, when Dave and Bob begin their investigation, what they find makes no sense at all.

What do you need to know to prosper as a people for at least 65,000 years? The First Knowledges series provides a deeper understanding of the expertise and ingenuity of Indigenous Australians.

Plants are the foundation of life on Earth. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always known this to be true.

For millennia, reciprocal relationships with plants have provided both sustenance to Indigenous communities and many of the materials needed to produce a complex array of technologies. Managed through fire and selective harvesting and replanting, the longevity and intricacy of these partnerships are testament to the ingenuity and depth of Indigenous first knowledges. Plants: Past, Present and Future celebrates the deep cultural significance of plants and shows how engaging with this heritage could be the key to a healthier, more sustainable future.

The economy and global competitiveness are the bottom line for society and governments, or so says conventional wisdom. But what are the real needs that must be satisfied to live rich, fulfilling lives? This is the question David Suzuki explores in this wide-ranging study.

Suzuki begins by presenting the concept of people as creatures of the Earth who depend on its gifts of air, water, soil, and sun energy. He shows how people are genetically programmed for the company of other species, and suffer enormously when we fail to live in harmony with them. And he analyses those deep spiritual needs, rooted in nature, that are also a crucial component of a loving world. Drawing on his own experiences and those of others who have put their beliefs into action, The Sacred Balance is a powerful, passionate book with concrete suggestions for creating an ecologically sustainable, satisfying, and fair future by rediscovering and addressing humanity’s basic needs.

Meadowland gives an unique and intimate account of an English meadow’s life from January to December, together with its biography. In exquisite prose, John Lewis-Stempel records the passage of the seasons from cowslips in spring to the hay-cutting of summer and grazing in autumn, and includes the biographies of the animals that inhabit the grass and the soil beneath: the badger clan, the fox family, the rabbit warren, the skylark brood and the curlew pair, among others. Their births, lives, and deaths are stories that thread through the book from first page to last.

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