Tag Archives: Australian Authors

Survival by Stuart Diver

Overview

Title: Survival: The Inspirational Story of the Thredbo Disaster’s Sole Survivor
Author: Stuart Diver
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Australian history, Memoirs, Natural disaster
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 1999

Thoughts

I’d never actually heard about Thredbo until recently. When I read Bad Ground. It might be a big moment of Australian history, but it’s not one that’s memorable from my recollection of local history. So when I did a little research, I was completely intrigued. And boy am I glad that I actually decided to buy this book.

The start of this book very much reads like a love letter to Sally. It wasn’t until around the 8th chapter when Stuart starts actually talking about the landside that I was able to concentrate and read this in a big hit. Before that, my heart just kept breaking and I had to keep putting this down to wipe away a tear.

I love how this book talks about Stuart’s point of view and experiences. But balanced with this is the factual account of what Australia and the rest of the rescuers were also witnessing and experiencing. It was a pretty stark and brutal reality. One that I’m honestly surprised didn’t give me nightmares. I don’t like small spaces, reading a memoir about being trapped underground for 65 hours… literally one of my worst nightmare. All I’d need is snakes to make it the worst thing ever…

Although my edition of this was on my kobo, it’s one that I want to add to my physical library. I love reading about Australian history and I think its important to keep adding to my knowledge and collection.

<- An Appetite for WonderVanilla Beans & Brodo ->

Image source: Pan Macmillan Australia

Six Legs Walking by Elizabeth Bernays

Overview

Title: Six Legs Walking: Notes from an Entomological Life
Author: Elizabeth Bernays
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Essays, Insects, Memoirs
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

I loved the balance of science and personal throughout this collection. The old me who aspired to be an entomologist was completely enthralled by the science. But the me in my new life loved that balance of the relationships one makes in academia. And just life in general. It was the perfect balance.

I read this book while I was seriously distracted. A newborn will do that to you. Which means I can safely recommend this to people who have zero science background. If I can grasp what’s going on when I have a screaming baby throat into my arms, then the language used is very happily accessible. There’s nothing worse than wanting to read about something different to your own life just to find the language totally overwhelming and bizarre.

Not going to lie. While I was reading this, I dreamt of grasshoppers. Frequently. And bugs. And running through fields trying to catch said bugs. Ah, the memories. Bernays is able to bring to life the realities of working in the field. In all of its confusing and bizarre glory. Hot days under the sun and slight madness brought on by long hours… Bernays was able to take me back to my best Uni days.

I like that this collection isn’t in any kind of order. Rather there is a bit of a sensible rambling through the years of work. Everything is clumped into experiences and locales, not in any order. It makes you feel like you’re sitting down with a cup of tea reminiscing on days gone by…

<- Lone RiderCork Dork ->

Image source: Booktopia

The Swan Book by Alexis Wright

Overview

Title: The Swan Book
Author: Alexis Wright
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Dystopia
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2013

Thoughts

This is one of those books that I’m going to have to reread in the future. It was filled with intensity and symbolism. And set in a world that felt weirdly familiar. But, being 8 months pregnant I’m not entirely convinced that my brain absorbed all of the amazingness that is this story.

So maybe I’ll wait to reread this to write a far better review in the future…

<- More Australian authorsMore dystopia ->

Image source: Hachette UK

It’s Not You, Geography, It’s Me by Kristy Chambers

Overview

Title: It’s Not You, Geography, It’s Me
Author: Kristy Chambers
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Humour, Medical, Memoirs, Nursing
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2014

Thoughts

We may have made leaps and bounds in our understanding, but mental health is still a pretty hard topic to broach. There is so much stigma remaining and it can be hard to convey what its like to live with a mental health issue to someone who has never had one. Which is why whenever I see a book that talks about it openly and honestly, I’m pretty quick to jump on it. The fact that I’ve JUST read another book by Kristy Chambers that I thoroughly enjoyed made me dive into this with much more excitement and impatience than I normally would.

Combining travel narratives with mental health just helped to draw me in further and further. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a pretty major home body. So I do love to live vicariously through other people’s travel adventures. I loved doing this with Chambers. She is so damn honest and sassy that you got the ugly alongside the good. Which is what travel is all about.

Throughout every chapter and adventure, Chambers draws back to her mental health and numerous breakdowns. Yet, where this could feel quite serious and negative, she talks about it in such an open and honest manner that you end up laughing. It takes a special someone to talk about their mental health. It takes someone even more special to joke about it with such abandon. Definitely my kind of woman.

I loved, loved, loved this book. It was that perfect blend of travel adventure and realistic recountings of the trials that this entails. Mental health and depression are unabashedly talked about and often joked about. And there’s even a beautiful happy ending that makes you want to read MORE about Chambers’ life, but content if you can’t do so.

<- Get Well Soon!An Appetite for Wonder ->

Image source: Booktopia

Get Well Soon! by Kristy Chambers

Overview

Title: Get Well Soon! My (un)Brilliant Career as a Nurse
Author: Kristy Chambers
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Humour, Medical, Memoirs, Nursing
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2012

Thoughts

Nursing is a career path and life choice that holds a lot of fascination for me. It’s such a powerful thing to do, but I honestly can’t imagine dealing with people’s shit (both literally and figuratively) like that. I also have a couple of girlfriends who are nurses I’m different fields, so understanding their day to say lives is also enthralling.

Chambers manages to write about a pretty hectic and serious career with an amazing amount of sass and humour. I particularly like when she points out that ultimately her decision between teaching and nursing came down to who do I hate less, teenagers or sick people… and teenagers are assholes. It’s a sentiment that had me laughing out loud.

Alongside all of the wit and humour throughout this, there are some pretty powerful emotional moments. It’s a start reminder of the intensity of this kind of career. But, also a brilliant way to highlight how some people are able to deal with the horrors of a fairly intense career path.

This is one if those memoirs that I will read again and again. It has my preferred level of dry, witty humour; plenty of sass; and a subject matter that ceaselessly fascinates me. I may have read this through my kobo plus account, but its going on my wish list for a physical copy too…

<- Rolling with the PunchlinesIt’s Not You, Geography, It’s Me ->

Image source: BookDepository

Black Saturday edited by John McGourty

Overview

Title: Black Saturday: Stories of Love, Loss and Courage from the Victorian Bushfires
Author: John McGourty
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Australian history, Fire, Natural disaster
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Year: 2009

Thoughts

There are moments in Australian history that are seared into my brain. And Black Saturday is one of them. I remember being in high school and hearing about all of the lives lost. We always did bushfire drills throughout primary school. And although the numbers didn’t quite mean as much to me then as now… I still felt… horror at all the destruction.

As such, it’s taken me years to read this book. It was published about a year after the Black Saturday fires and I’ve had it on my shelves since then. But I always knew that it would be a tough read and hit me a little harder. Particularly with the fires that we’ve had over the past few years.

One of the aspects I loved about this compilation was how each chapter covered a different area that was decimated. And at the beginning of each area, there is an overall summary of exactly what happened. How much was destroyed. How many lives lost. It gives a greater overview of the stories that then follow.

It’s always important to personify the tragedies of our past. Otherwise the number of people who died become just that… a list of numbers and names with no real meaning.

<- But SeriouslyThe Beekeeper of Sinjar ->

Image source: Abebooks

Bad Ground by Tony Wright, Todd Russell & Brant Webb

Overview

Title: Bad Ground: Inside the Beaconsfield Mine Rescue
Author: Tony Wright, Todd Russell & Brant Webb
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Australian history, Memoirs
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2012

Thoughts

I’ve been hanging to read this for about 6 months now. But, considering my other half actually works in an underground mine that is very similar to Beaconsfield (albeit much bigger), I decided to wait until he had a huge chunk of time off… I didn’t really need to be imagining him in this position in the long week that he’s away…

There are always moments of local or global history that will stick in our minds. Todd and Brant walking out of the mine on national news is one of them for me (Steve Irwin dying is another one). Which made not only visiting Beaconsfield, but reading this incredibly surreal. I mean, I was in high school when this happened. And I remember it being plastered all over the news. But to my teenage self… it was so removed from reality. Not anymore and I’m incredibly glad I got a chance to read about this rescue and tragedy.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book so much. Mostly because I thought it would just be a recount of Todd and Brant’s experiences. Instead, it focused a lot more on everyone else who was impacted. Larry Knight’s family gets a lot of attention (as they should). The crew supervisor and the rescue team. The families who were topside waiting for news. It’s a great reminder that tragedy doesn’t just strike one person, but rather impacts everyone I our little vortexes of life.

Most of the time I read memoirs, biographies, and true stories because they’re easy to put down and walk away from. Perfect for when life is busy, and I don’t have heaps of time to read. That’s not the case with this. I was constantly itching to pick it back up and bury my nose between the pages. I don’t know if it’s because this is so much closer to home than most booms in this genre, or if it was just brilliantly done… but regardless, definitely at the top of my recommendations list.

<- The Salt PathThe Things I Wish I’d Known ->

Image source: Murdoch Books

Begin, End, Begin edited by Danielle Binks

Overview
Image result for begin, end, begin book cover

Title: Begin, End, Begin
Author: Danielle Binks, Amie Kaufman, Will Kostakis, Alice Pung, Michael Pryor, Melissa Keil, Ellie Marney, Lili Wilkinson, Gabrielle Tozer & Jaclyn Moriarty
In: Begin, End, Begin (Danielle Binks)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, Short story collections, Young adult
Dates read: 30th June – 26th November 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: I couldn’t imagine what they’d think of Diamond Rose Fashions.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Bestsellers. Award-winners. Superstars. This anthology has them all.

With brilliantly entertaining short stories from beloved young adult authors Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Lili Wilkinson and Danielle Binks, this all-new collection will show the world eactly how much there is to love about Aussie YA.

Thoughts

This is a fantastic collection, one that I wish was around when I was finishing high school. It’s all about those moments on the cusp of adulthood when the world is stretched before you and you’re suddenly responsible for yourself. It’s kind of a huge, pivotal point in someone’s life, so a collection on this was completely fantastic. And although I’m not exactly that young anymore, this was still a great journey that reminded me of the decisions we make in life.

I love that #LoveOzYA has come up with a collection of Aussie YA authors. This, and Kindred have introduced me to so many new and wonderful authors to fill my shelves with. Something that I’m always looking for. And the fact that they’re homegrown and often write about the areas that I’m more familiar with? It’s very, very much appreciated. I hope that they come out with a new collection soon!

I didn’t know any of the authors in this collection, other than Melissa Keil when I bought it. Now I have a handful of amazing new Australian authors to add to my wish list. Some that will challenge me, some to enthral, and some just to leave a giant smile on my face.

<- Competition Entry #349One Small Step… –>

Image source: Harper Collins Australia

Competition Entry #349 by Jaclyn Moriarty

Overview
Image result for begin, end, begin book cover

Title: Competition Entry #349
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
In: Begin, End, Begin (Danielle Binks)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, Young adult
Dates read: 26th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Well done, she said to me.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

It’s a competition to win five time travel trips of ten minutes each. Explain why you should win in 25 words or less…

Thoughts

This is an incredibly meandering and very funny short story. It honestly sounds exactly like a teenager refusing to get to the point and basically telling their life story. Actually, it reminded me a lot of my sister when she was a preteen… she’d start the story at a. Then take about a thousand detours and end up at 10. I was never entirely sure where we were going with a story, or what the point was, but it was always fun.

The format for Competition Entry #349 was completely unique. I have never read a story that is supposed to be a competition entry. It was kind of amazing how Moriarty managed to tell a whole story in a piece that was a competition entry. She got so much history and detail into just a few short pages. You also got to know the character very well in an incredibly short space of time.

Just thinking about this story, the day after I read it to write this review has left a huge smile on my face. It was so light, funny and just downright cute. I am completely intrigued to see if I can find anymore books / stories by Jaclyn Moriarty now…

<- Last Night at the Mount Solemn ObservatoryBegin, End, Begin ->

Image source: Harper Collins Australia

Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory by Danielle Binks

Overview
Image result for begin, end, begin book cover

Title: Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory
Author: Danielle Binks
In: Begin, End, Begin (Danielle Binks)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Contemporary, Young adult
Dates read: 22nd November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Tonight is no different; Em’s legs are in Adelaide’s lap and she’s sitting up to talk to her, their faces so close together that Ravi has to lean round the back to hear, one hand on Em’s shoulder for balance.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

It’s her big brothers last night in town, and she doesn’t know when he’ll be back. Sometimes it’s important to say goodbye.

Thoughts

As an older sister, I’ve never considered what it was like for my younger sister when I left home. And I didn’t move that far away. This was a great story that actually made me stop and think about what that moment was like for her. I can’t imagine that it would have been easy, and I almost wish we had’ve done something special together in that last night that we lived together.

Last Night at the Mount Solemn Observatory sparked all kinds of nostalgia for me. It was a great ode to sibling relationships and the love you can feel for people. It was also a fantastic way to highlight the feeling of loss, but empowerment when you finally leave the place that you know is pulling you down. It’s most definitely a difficult feeling. But it’s also one that we must all go through.

Lastly, the thing that I probably loved most about this story was that it featured someone who has a disability. In the case of this tale, the older brother is deaf. I would personally love to learn Australian Sign Language and this was really a reminder why. It’s always great when a story, any kind of story, features somebody from a diverse background.

<- The Feeling From Over HereCompetition Entry #349 ->

Image source: Harper Collins Australia