The Devil's Tears, by Steven Horne

The children were crying and Cesar felt as though his heart had been cleaved in his chest. he was responsible for this. He had hesitated when Helena had urged him to action. He had risked everything. And he had lost it all.
‘I am so sorry, my darlings,’ Cesar said hoarsely. ‘I am so terribly sorry for all of this.’

Timor, 1975. Cesar da Silva tries to flee the chaos and devastation of the Indonesian occupation, and take his wife and three daughters to safety. Distraught when he is separated from his wife and two of the girls, and believing them dead, he makes the heart wrenching decision to leave with his remaining daughter, Ana. Eventually, the pair arrive in Australia.

In 1997 Australian journalist Abby is determined to visit Timor and show the world the terrible suffering of the Timorese people. Her quest, along with her photographer friend David, takes her into horrifying danger. When their paths cross those of Ana da Silva, the story of Cesar and his family is gradually revealed.

The Devil’s Tears is a confronting, absorbing story of the human suffering in Timor during its occupation. It is also a tale of the determination that enables people to live through adversity, and to fight for change.

Finely crafted.

The Devil's Tears

The Devil’s Tears, by Steven Horne
Macmillan, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Dreaming of Amelia, by Jaclyn Moriarty

Funny thing is, even while I’m laughing, and falling in her eyes, a part of me knew she was a ghost.
The first time I saw her I knew my Amelia was a ghost.

Amelia and Riley are bad kids from bad Brookfield High, but they’ve just been given scholarships to the exclusive Ashbury High, and they are the talk of the school. They are elusive, they are brilliant, and they are possibly evil – but everyone at Ashbury wants to know them.

Dreaming of Amelia is a compelling, crazy book. Told from multiple viewpoints and largely in the form of HSC Exam answers (it also uses other forms including blog entries, meeting reports and emails), it could appear fragmented, but instead this very fragmentation is what drives the story – the reader being asked to constantly reassess what is happening (and has happening) and to piece together clues from differing stories and versions of events. More than once the reader is lulled into thinking they have a handle on what is happening, only to be shocked by new revelations.

Dreaming of Amelia is a companion novel to Feeling Sorry for Celia, Finding Cassie Crazy and The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie, but is not a sequel and readily stands alone.

A must read for teenage girls, especially competent readers who will enjoy the intricacies of the book.

Dreaming of Amelia

Dreaming of Amelia, by Jaclyn Moriarty
Pan Macmillan, 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond.

The Silent Country, by Di Morrissey

‘It was in the fifties. I was hired to write the script for a documentary film which was supposed to showcase the Australian outback to the world prior to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. There was a mixed group of us. Off we went on this crazy expedition making it up as we went along.’
‘And how did it come out?’
The older man looked wistful, then he straightened up. ‘Well, it was all a bit of a saga. Good and bad memories. But I’ve never seen anything as wild, beautiful or as mystical as the wilderness of the Northern Territory.’

Colin Peterson is living a fairly mundane existence working in a bank when he meets the eccentric Maxim Topov, a Russian film director who wants to ‘make movie’ about the outback. Soon Colin, Topov and an odd mix of crew are on the road, filming their adventures. But their journey is not well planned and is soon beset by problems, not the least of which is Topov’s eccentricity.

Fifty years later television producer Veronica Anderson meets Colin and is intrigued enough to retrace some of his steps in the Northern Territory. When she finds that other members of the expedition are not so willing to talk, she senses a mystery, which she must solve. As she explores Darwin and the Territory she finds herself falling in love with the land – and with the man who shows her around.

The Silent Country is an absorbing tale from one of Australia’s most successful writers. A blend of romance, self discovery, issues and mystery, set in Sydney, the Northern Territory and Italy, in both the 1950s and the present day, this is a mix which has much to offer the reader.

The Silent Country

The Silent Country, by Di Morrisey
Macmillan, 2009
ISBN 9781405039390

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Without Consent, by Kathryn Fox

Hands dragged him to his feet and forced him, limping, to a white sedan. The door opened from inside and Geoffrey felt a sweaty weight on his crown, shoving him into the back seat. The bag of special belongings followed. The door slammed and he felt safe – like a fish in its bowl. Not safe enough, though, to show his face.

After serving twenty years for the rape and murder a fourteen-year-old girl, Geoffrey Willard has been released. Now a serial rapist is on the prowl and, when two of the victims are later stabbed to death, forensic scientist Anya Chrichton is called on to assist.

When Anya reviews the twenty-year-old case, she begins to doubt whether Willard was the culprit. If she is right, and Willard is innocent, then another killer has been on the loose for twenty years, and one of Anya’s colleagues has made a terrible mistake.

Without Consent is the second mystery featuring Dr Chrichton, an independent forensic physician struggling to make a name for herself and to balance her personal and professional life. Author Kathryn Fox weaves a mystery which takes twists and turns and doesn’t become predictable.


Without Consent, by Kathryn Fox
Macmillan, 2006

The Omega-3 Diet Revolution, by Shamala Ratnesar

The prevalence of diet books on bookstore shelves are testament to the very human desire to lose weight and/or live a more healthy lifestyle. Of course, these books range from the kooky fad diets to highly practical and effective diets. This book sits at the better edge of the spectrum, giving scientific explanation as to why Omega-3 is an essential part of the human diet, and why we need to eat more foods high in Omega-3.

The Omega-3 diet is not simply a weight loss formula – it is a guide to better health for life, including weight loss for those who need it. As well as plenty of recipes, there is loads of information about which foods are high in Omega-3, how to shop for and prepare these foods, and how to bring balance into a diet within the demands of a busy lifestyle. There are sample meal plans for children and a handy list of extra resources for further reading.

Whether you are trying to lose weight, or simply want to improve and maintain your health, this is a handy book.

The Omega-3 Diet Revolution, by Shamala Ratnesar
Macmillan, 2006

The Stone Angel, by Katherine Scholes

She stood still, staring ahead over open heathland. The sea lay spread before her – a wide expanse of heaving grey, faintly flecked with white. The leaden hue was mirrored so closely by the sky that the horizon could barely be seen. Sky and sea were one – a vast, cold realm. She felt a slow shiver travel up her spine.

Stella Boyd grew up in a small Tasmanian village, but she hasn’t been back since she was a teenager. Now she is a successful journalist travelling the world and reporting from dangerous locations. But when she receives word that her fisherman father is missing at sea she knows that she must return to Halfmoon Bay and face the demons of her past.

Back at home Stella must deal with the events of 1975 and face Zeph, the young man she met in an isolated bay near her house. Only when she deals with the emotional events of her teenage years can she begin to build a future for herself and her mother.

The Stone Angel is a beautiful, heart wrenching novel, set in a quiet fishing village in Tasmania. It is a tale of family secrets, and of life dreams, as well as of fate, and draws the reader into an emotionally fraught journey over the main character’s sixteenth summer, and the period following her father’s death sixteen years later, with glimpses at the intervening years.

A beautiful book.

The Stone Angel, by Katherine Scholes
Macmillan, 2006

Save Our Sleep, by Tizzie Hall

Everybody needs sleep – and lack of sleep can be both exhausting and demoralising. So, for new parents, the lack of sleep caused by their baby’s lack of a sleep routine can be a real problem, impacting on their joy at having a new addition to the family. Save Our Sleepis a guide for parents, aimed at helping their babies to be happy and well-rested – with the spin-off, of course, that if baby has plenty of sleep then so too will her parents.

Writer Tizzie Hall has worked with babies and parents for over fifteen years, helping them to develop customised sleep routines which have settled restless babies and saved the sanity of their parents. She now presents her techniques and experiences in book format. The book explains why babies need routines, how these routines can become adversely affected, and what to do about it. Hall also explains how to teach babies to settle themselves, and how the way parents respond to babies can effect how they learn to sleep.

This is a no-nonsense book. Hall doesn’t provide an easy-fix – she spells out the effort required to develop a sleep routine and to fix sleep problems. She also uses plenty of case studies to show how her advice works in action. Parnets will find plenty of good, practical advice, and, hopefully, they key to a good night’s sleep for all.

Save Our Sleep, by Tizzie Hall
Macmillan, 2006

Each Way Bet, by Ilsa Evans

‘And d’you know, I’ve been wandering around today thinking how lucky you are? House in the suburbs, lots of company, full life – I mean, you’re really important to people. See, you might think what I do sounds pretty romantic but, you know, no-one really needs me. Not like they need you.’
‘But that’s just it,’ Jill wailed miserably. ‘That’s exactly it! I don’t want to be needed anymore. Do you have any idea what it’s like to be needed like that for nearly twenty years? I’ve had enough! I just want to be me – no-one’s wife, or mother, or anything. Just. Me.’

When Emily Broadhurst returns home to yet another night alone in her singles pad, she is surprised to receive a phone call from her older sister, Jill. Jill is the mother of four, and the hostess of tomorrow’s family Melbourne Cup lunch. But Jill doesn’t want the responsibility of lunch – or of anything else. She’s exhausted and wants out. It is Emily’s idea that they trade places – Jill to spend the night in Emily’s flat, and Emily to organise and run the annual family lunch. Surely it can’t be that hard?

Soon, though, Jill finds there are complications she didn’t expect from sleeping in Emily’s bed, and Emily wonders how one is supposed to clean house, serve lunch, and keep three teenagers and a foul-mouthed toddler under control.

Each Way Bet is a warm, funny novel about family dynamics, and the grass-is-greener syndrome. As with Evans’ other books, she manages to focus on the events of just a few days, so that the reader shares a sense of immediacy in the unfolding events. No event, right down to wiping a bench or washing a dish, is considered too mundane to include – and with Evans’ wit, none of these small events are mundane. Evans captures the dynamics of a family gathering, complete with dramas of an unhappy wife, a possible pregnancy, pesky in-laws, and more with humour, keeping you laughing till the end, while still empathising with the characters and their emotions.

Lots of fun.

Each Way bet, by Ilsa Evans
Macmillan, 2006

Dangerous Deception, by Sandy Curtis

He slumped down on the bed as the swirling mists in his brain subsided, dragging air into his lungs in great panting gulps. Gingerly he moved his arms, his legs. Finally he swung his body over the side of the bed and stood, weak and unsteady, fighting to make sense of what had happened.
Slowly he became aware of a great emptiness in his soul. A desolation, a sense of loss so profound his gut clenched with the knowledge of it.
Because now he knew. He understood. But his brain refused to believe.

When Rogan McKay wakens in the middle of the night, his body is racked by intense pain, followed by a sense of loss which can mean only one thing – his identical twin, Liam, must be in trouble. Life-threatening trouble. Rogan feels it may be too late to help Liam, but he has to find out.

Meanwhile, Breanna Montgomery is on the run. Her colleague Professor John Raymond lies paralysed in hospital, but his work prior to his accident is so important that everyone wants to find his research. Breanna doesn’t have the Professor’s notebooks, but those that want them don’t believe her.

When Rogan tracks down Breanna, believing she may know what happened to Liam, the pair become embroiled in a shocking series of events, where their lives are repeatedly in danger as they search for the truth.

Dangerous Deception is a fast-moving thriller about the lengths people will go to, to get hold of research which could impact on human survival. The novel brings together a diverse cast of characters – from a disgraced journalist trying to get her daughter back, to brilliant scientists – and a diverse mix of plot elements, including romance, unexpected twists and turns, and a satisfying ending.

Author Sandy Curtis is obviously devoted to the thriller genre, and she does it justice in everything she writes.

Dangerous Deceptions, by Sandy Curtis
First Published by Macmillan, 2005, this edition Pan, 2006

Peter Brock – Living With a Legend, by Bev Brock

For almost 40 years Peter Brock has been involved in the Australian and international motor racing scene. He is Australia’s best known driver, and a household name. His fame and popularity stretches well beyond the sporting arena. In Brock: Living With a LegendPeter’s partner, Bev, who shared his professional and private life for 30 of those years, shares her insights into their life together and into what makes ‘Brocky’ tick.

Bev especially focuses on his private persona, painting Brock as a family man who is passionate in all he does. She shares the story of how they came to be together, the births of their children and the ups and downs of living with a sports star.

Following the launch of the book’s first edition, in 2004, the pair separated and so this new edition includes a foreword and new final chapter which update Bev Brock’s life with the ‘legend’.

This is an interesting read for anyone who has watched Peter Brock race, and followed his career, but more than that it is an interesting story of one couple and how they cope with the struggles of both the public and private parts of their lives. There is really no need to know who Peter Brock is, to be drawn into this story.

An honest and insightful account.

Peter Brock: Living With a Legend, by Bev Brock
Macmillan Australia, 2004, this edition 2005.