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Brisbane writer EMILY O’GRADY meets ANGUS DALTON the day after taking out Australia’s richest prize for an unpublished manuscript, The Australian/ Vogel’s Literary Award. Her winning novel, The Yellow House, was inspired by a murder carried out by the great-nephew of Australia’s most infamous serial killer.   
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Archive Discoveries

  • ANGUS DALTON meets British historian, journalist and author L S HILTON as she publicises the most hotly anticipated thriller of 2016, Maestra. Read on >
  • Recent research has revealed the astonishing capabilities of dogs. We know that they can help vision- impaired people, but they can also sniff out cancer and even help to locate missing people. CAT WARREN in What the Dog Knows recounts how she adopted an unruly German shepherd puppy, Solo, who is eventually trained to locate human corpses. Read on >
  • In the early 1900s, the luminescent properties of radium – a highly radioactive metal – had just been discovered, and entrepreneurs were quick to identify its marketing potential. They flooded supermarket shelves with radium-based products, and thousands of young women in North America were hired to paint clock dials with radium. The girls would go home with their hands aglow, oblivious to the bone-destroying radiation they had been exposed to. We spoke with London-based author KATE MOORE about these workers’ stories, which appear in her new book, The Radium Girls. Read on >
  • After reading a few thrillers lately I got to thinking about writers in the crime and thriller genres and the research they need to do to make their books seem real. Research can be an exciting part of writing any book. Determining how a killer might think and how their victim could become entrapped is one thing, but I can’t imagine looking at dead people or reading detailed reports of the methods that serial killers use to stalk and murder their prey.That’s the sort of awful stuff police deal with and psychologically struggle with for the rest of their lives. But could even researching this sort of thing affect a writer?  Read on >
  • ARMANDO LUCAS CORREA is the Editor-in-Chief of People En Espanol,  the top-selling Hispanic magazine in the U.S. Here he writes of his personal connection to a group of Jewish refugees that departed from Hamburg, Germany in 1939 seeking refuge in Cuba. His novel The German Girl is a fictional account of the doomed voyage. Read on >
  • UK journalist and editor MARINA BENJAMIN looks at the joys, losses and opportunities of middle age in her new book, The Middlepause. In this extract she writes about the secret misogynistic history of HRT.   Read on >
  • Sydney-based novelist LAUREN SAMS, author of She’s Having Her Baby, has worked for magazines such as Marie Claire, Elle and Cosmopolitan. Her new book, Crazy Busy Guilty, reprises the heroine Georgie Henderson, who tries frantically to juggle work and family. We spoke recently with Lauren, who talked about the US election, writer’s block and wacky parenting strategies.  Read on >
  • Heart surgeon PROFESSOR STEPHEN WESTABY has worked for 35 years to save ailing hearts and, in many cases, give his patients a second chance at life. In his new memoir, Fragile Lives, Westaby recounts remarkable and poignant cases, such as the baby who had suffered multiple heart attacks before reaching six months of age. We asked him to tell us a bit about his life as a surgeon. Read on >
  • ALL IS GIVEN: A MEMOIR IN SONGS by LINDA NEIL She’s a Brisbane-based songwriter and an awardwinning producer of radio documentaries, and in this memoir LINDA NEIL travels the world, playing music and meeting people along the way. In this extract she recalls as a teenager being given the seemingly tedious duty of reading books to a blind neighbour. But what happened next surprised both the reader and the listener. Read on >
  • 'Books, and lovers or friends, mark and change us. And we, in turn, mark and change them.' Melbourne novelist CATH CROWLEY writes about her longtime love of secondhand bookshops, and how the histories she found and imagined there led her to write Words in Deep Blue. Read on >
  • The nose is a wonderful thing. A new study has found that the human nose can distinguish between at least one trillion different smells. I love nothing more than sticking my nose inside a blooming rose as I walk Baxter along the street. But I also have a passionate hatred of the choking diesel fumes disgorged from nearby cruise ships. So even though I may be able to detect over a trillion odours, there are many of them I don’t want to smell! Kate Grenville’s new book, The Case against Fragrance, has had me pondering the aromas, the scents and odours that enter my nose – whether I want them to or not. In 2015 Kate started to get frequent headaches and other signs of ill health and, strangely, they seemed to get worse when she was on tour to promote her latest book.After some effort to isolate the cause, she discovered that it was perfumes or other fragrances that were the culprits. She felt debilitated. She loved to meet her readers but was bombarded with fragrances in crowded rooms. She was compelled to find out what it was about perfumes that could be causing her these health problems. She opened a can of worms. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • This story is dedicated to the Syrian people and to all refugees. Meeting the characters has increased my awareness of, and empathy for, the violence and injustice refugees face in their search for safety. Sensual descriptions of exotic foods and different landscapes, and thought-provoking philosophy increase the pleasure of this tale of courage and hope. Read on >

  • The tragic collapse of the West Gate Bridge during its construction in the 1970s killed 35 workers, many of whom were migrants. It was a tragedy that could have been avoided if the engineers and bosses of the construction team had had a greater focus on safety. Read on >

  • In a leafy and affluent area of Sheffield, two sets of neighbours meet over a back garden fence while one party is hosting a family barbeque. They are unalike in many ways - the Spinster family is white and English, and the Sharifullahs are from Bangladesh – but both have sprawling families, domestic worries and professional concerns. And both families are haunted by their histories – the Spinsters by decades of marital disharmony, and the Sharifullahs by the atrocities they encountered during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in the 1970s. Read on >

  • Swan Song is based on 10 years’ research and it is brilliantly executed, with its multiple narrative threads and parallel time frames. It reads like a grand tragedy or, more precisely, a series of grand tragedies. However, the self-indulgent Capote soon becomes tiresome, as do the tales of gossip and pretence, and Swan Song becomes a chorus of denial and woe, its technical brilliance overshadowed by its subjects. Read on >

  • Cormac McCarthy springs to mind as an influence on this debut novel; his spare, harsh and uncompromising style is evident in every word. It is set in outback Queensland, and the atrocities detailed within strike right at the heart of Australia’s uneasy relationship with its own colonial history. Read on >

  • Flames is a slim book but it is an extremely evocative and imaginative work that builds the natural landscape into its narrative as a character in its own right. If there is a weakness, it may be that there is too much happening, too many details mutating inexplicably into others. That said, the richness of the imagery and the strange winding narrative that intertwines flight and flame, is undeniably powerful and it is refreshing to see the Australian landscape written about so vividly. Read on >

  • Take a couple of feisty young women born a century apart, add a dedicated naturalist, mix in a mysterious antipodean creature hailed as a hoax by the learned men of English science, and you have an historical romance set in Australia and England. Read on >

  • This is a well-written and considered novel, and enjoyable, however, there is so much going on that I felt that there were opportunities lost to know more about the major characters, to explore the potential of their relationship, and to explore in more depth their professions. Read on >

  • The Neighborhood is being marketed as a detective thriller, but this is a misleading description and perhaps creates a false impression about the novel. Read on >

  • It's 1942 and Eleanor Roy works for the Ministry of Food, arranging paintings and murals for the walls of Britain’s restaurants, bolstering hope during WWII. She lives with her sister, Cecily, a nurse recovering from losing her boyfriend in combat. On an expedition to convince artists to sign up to the program, she meets Jack Valante who, unlike the others clamouring to be paid for their passion at such a bleak time, refuses to enter into a contract. Read on >

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