Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield
What a haunting ride, full of twists and surprising turns. Grace Foley is a character that jumps off the page with her anger and despair. There’s an unsettling mood throughout and moments of sheer terror. 4/5
Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis
A YA horror featuring a creepy town complete with old fairground, an imaginary friend, a missing mother and a host of characters who might be friends or foes. Very well drawn. 3.5/5
Infinite Splendours by Sofie Laguna
A harrowing but beautiful read, dealing with a difficult subject. Sofie Laguna manages to pitch a child’s voice with perfection. 3/5
Bewildered by Laura Waters
A travel memoir with a dash of self-help and inspiration. An easy read through the hiking trail of Te Araroa in New Zealand with some fantastic photos included. 3/5
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
Another masterpiece of rich prose and real characters. The book had dual narratives – contemporary and historical and I loved the insights from the 19th century. 3/5
The Survivors by Jane Harper
There were so many characters in this book that it was sometimes hard to keep up. The story itself was fine but I found it lacking the depth of her previous books, especially The Dry. The setting should have made the novel broody and rugged but I found it a little light and almost unbelievable. 2/5.
Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe
An eye-opening read packed with references and historical insights. This was a revealing and sometimes difficult to bear read. 3.5/5.
All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton
I wanted to love this as deeply as I loved Boy Swallows Universe, but I couldn’t engage with the magical elements. Molly and Greta were fantastic characters but I found the almost unending violence difficult to navigate. The setting was perfectly drawn. 2/5.
Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein
This was a taut, well-paced psychological thriller with a heart-pounding plot and wonderful characters. I couldn’t put it down. 4/5.
None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney
Set in the 1980s in the early days of FBI criminal profiling, this was an easy read with a fast-paced plot. Think Mindhunter but with teens. An interesting set of characters but I didn’t engage with the two leads as deeply as I usually do with Ellie Marney’s writing. I loved her Word series! 2.5/5.
Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina
This book is written in such a unique way, with compelling narrative from an unusual perspective and poetry woven throughout. It’s captivating and profound. 4/5.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
This book was so rich and troubling that it hurt to turn the pages sometimes. The setting is so well drawn you can feel the heat and wet and oppression of the jungle. The characters are real with their flaws and quirks. Brilliant. 5/5.