August/September 2014 Roundup: Diversity

As Indigenous author Ambelin Kwaymullina wrote in a recent guest post, ‘The stories that people read about us matter, especially because, for many non-Indigenous people, stories are all they know of us.’ It’s important that we read the stories of Indigenous women not only to gain an understanding of their lives, but also because readers’ consumption of such stories finances the production of many more, in turn creating even greater awareness of and respect for Indigenous culture. Ambelin also offered five reviews of books by Indigenous women writers, and her post and these books are a fantastic read.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin KwaymullinaOver August and September, participants in the AWW challenge continued to read and think about the characters, themes, structure and politics of books by Indigenous women writers. Jane of GoodReads reviewed Ambelin’s speculative fiction novel, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, and loved it. She was ‘particularly impressed by the structure, which allowed the story to completely turn on its axis about one-third of the way in. It was clever, and it worked logistically and emotionally. The reader is left to figure things out for themself, but never left hanging, unsure of what happened.’ In the very best recommendation for a book, Jane writes, ‘When I finished it I wanted to rush to the library for book two (the library was shut).’ Oops!

amostpeculiaract-munkaraMaree of GoodReads picked up Marie Munkara’s novella A Most Peculiar Act, which is set in Darwin in WWII and uses a short extract from the Aboriginal Ordinances Act of 1918 to introduce each chapter. Maree described this structure as ‘an ingenious way to weave the harsh facts, and point out the peculiarities (or rather injustices) that ruled the lives of Aboriginal people forced to live under the Act, and ones like it, throughout most of Australia in the twentieth century.’ While she felt the writing was uneven at times, she also found the book had many positives, including ‘an original voice, great structure, some laugh out loud moments and some strong passages.’

TiddasAnita Heiss’ latest novel Tiddas was reviewed by Faith of Beyond the Dreamlines. Faith was delighted that ‘Tiddas is speckled with affectionate references only a Brisbanite would really get, giving it a very strong sense of place. It’s also wonderful to read a book in which Aboriginal culture, and Aboriginal characters, are given such prominence.’

Hannah Kent, Burial RitesNalini of DarkMatterZine posted on an interview with Anita about her novel at the Melbourne Writers Festival, revealing Anita’s motivations for and crafting of her work. Nalini also posted on queer author Hannah Kent’s interview with Bethany Blanchard at the Melbourne Writers Festival, describing Kent’s fascinating research process and search for a voice: ‘There was no room for Agnes to tell her story. Agnes needed her own language to tell her story as an outsider. Agnes employs body-centric, lyrical, deep-seated language, telling her story outside the dominant language-form.’ It’s a recovery project akin to Clare Wright’s The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka (which tells the story of the women at the Eureka stockade), but uses fiction rather than history.

Banana Heart Summer Merlinda BobisA good number of reviews featured books by Australian women writers of diverse heritage. Marilyn of Me, You and Books reviewed Filipino-Australian author Merlinda Bobis’ Banana Heart Summer, a work about a girl growing up in the Philippines in poverty. ‘As in her other books,’ Marilyn writes, ‘Bobis blends the imaginary and symbolic with concrete bits of reality. Perpetually hungry, Nenita fills her story with recipes and descriptions of food.’ These act as a vehicle for commenting on the characters, including the protagonist and, ‘underneath the banana hearts and coconut milk, we see her own need not just for food, but for love.’

Maree of GoodReads reviewed Lily Brett’s Lola Bensky. Brett is the daughter of Holocaust survivors, and Maree found that the power of her writing lies in ‘the juxtaposition of the ordinary, even banal, with the horror of inhumanity. I imagine that this is what it must be like to grow up in the shadow of such overwhelming grief, and it adds a poignancy to Brett’s writing that pulls me in time and again.’

wedding-seasonRochelle of Inside My World enjoyed Su Dharmapala’s The Wedding Season, about happily single Shani whose mother is desperate for her to wed. Like an Indian version of Tiddas, this book focuses on female friendship, and Rochelle ‘felt as though I was part of [the friends'] inner circle, sharing their lives with them.’ She was also impressed that she didn’t see the plot twist coming, and thought it was ‘so great to see the representation of an Australian group that you don’t see much of in fiction.’ I think so too!

And if you’d like to read up on books by Australian women writers with disability, you can find a swag of them in last month’s focus, summarised in my post. I was so happy with the reviews and guest posts written for this focus that I bounced into October with a spring in my step. At this rate, you’ll have me skipping to the end of the year!


About Me

JessI’m Jessica White, a novelist and researcher, and I’ve been deaf since age 4 when I lost most of my hearing from meningitis.  I have a PhD from the University of London and have published two novels with Penguin, A Curious Intimacy (2007) and Entitlement (2012).  I’ve recently received funding from the Australia Council’s new Artists With Disability program to write my third novel, The Sea Creatures.  You can find more information about me at my website.  I’m also on Twitter@ladyredjess.

Indigenous Women Writers: Guest post by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Ambelin photoIn an interview I gave on this website in July, when asked to recommend specific books by Indigenous women, I said people should read all of them, because it is only by reading them all that non-Indigenous readers can begin to grasp the diversity and complexity of Indigenous women’s lives.

The stories that people read about us matter, especially because, for many non-Indigenous people, stories are all they know of us. When those stories are false, distorted or simply misinformed – and the legacy of colonialism means there are many stories like this – it has real-life consequences. It shapes how Indigenous women (and Indigenous peoples more generally) are perceived and consequently how we are treated. That is why the continued production of stories by (rather than just about) Indigenous women is of such critical importance. And if it matters that the stories are written, it matters just as much that they are read.

So, in the spirit of my suggestion to read all the stories, I am offering reviews of five very different publications by Aboriginal women (including one by an Aboriginal community) that offer insights into Aboriginal culture and existence. It is my hope that in so doing I will encourage others to begin to come grips with the vast diversity of Indigenous literature published in Australia.

All the books can be purchased from online retailers (such as Fishpond or Booktopia); the essay is part of a special Indigenous edition of Westerly magazine which can be downloaded free of charge.


Trauma Trails, Recreating Song Lines: The Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia by Judy Atkinson (Spinifex Press)

000e8312_mediumTrauma Trails, written by Jiman and Bundjalung psychologist Judy Atkinson, details the harrowing effects of colonial trauma on Indigenous peoples and communities – but trauma is only the beginning of this story, and not the end. Just as our individual and collective experiences of colonial violence are not all of whom Indigenous peoples are, so Trauma Trails takes the reader on a journey from heartbreak to hope. The many harms inflicted by colonisation, sometimes referred to by Indigenous peoples as a ‘soul wound’, are complex and difficult to address; this book does not suggest otherwise. But nor does it underestimate the capacity of all human beings, and of Indigenous peoples in particular, to defy and overcome the worst of experiences. What Trauma Trails ultimately offers is a pathway to healing through the listening to, and telling of, stories that is based in Indigenous cultural and spiritual practices (the We-Ali program). This book speaks to the wisdom of the elders, to the incredible strength of Indigenous peoples, and to the enduring power of women. In Judy Atkinson’s words:

“My great-grannie gave me a gift – she taught me. We are Women. We are not victims. Nor are we merely survivors. We are women. We have creation powers.

We are the Creators of the Future.”


Our World: Bardi Jaawi Life at Ardiyooloon by One Arm Point Remote Community School (Magabala Books)

Our WorldThis is a story of life – and it is particularly a story of the life lived by the boys and girls who attend the One Arm Point Remote Community School (located in the Ardiyooloon community on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula in the Kimberley region of WA). Beautifully and joyfully illustrated with both photographs and with drawings done by the students, it displays the experiences of the Ardiyooloon community in all its complexity, containing everything from traditional stories, to fishing techniques, to a Bardi language word list and kinship chart. This is a book that seems to speak and move; for in the photos of children walking on the reef at low tide, in the images of their expressions as they listen to a story, or in the drawings showing their own interpretations of the world around them, the reader becomes a part of the saltwater and the campfire smoke and the cries of triumph when a fish is caught. It is a story which more than lives up to the words of the One Arm Point Culture Team in the introduction to the text: “In this book, we share our world.”


Iwenhe Tyerrtye: What it Means to be an Aboriginal Person by Margaret Kemarre Turner OAM (IAD Press)

Iwenhe TyerrtyeThe book offers exactly what the title suggests it does – a view into an Aboriginal reality, through the art and writing of Arrente elder Margaret Kemarre Turner. In her words: “Non-Indigenous people often wonder just how Aboriginal people really are, just what it is to be an Aboriginal person….That’s one reason why I’m writing this book about my experience…So that those white people can see things through our eyes.”

I once wrote about the stories of Aboriginal elders as gifts that can be continually unwrapped because there is no end to the wisdom that the tales hold or the comfort they can bring. This is one of those stories. Every page, every picture offers profound insights, grounded in the rich culture and life experience of the author. Iwenhe Tyerrtye speaks of land, of healing, of kinship and ceremony and the power of story. It speaks of life. And in opening a window onto an Arrente reality, this book is a bridge to the greater understanding that must surely be nurtured between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples if we are to move forward together, and which is not out of reach. Or, as Margaret Kemarre Turner puts it: “Two cultures can hold each other.”


Down the Hole by Edna Tantjingu Williams and Eileen Wani Wingfield (authors); Kunyi June-Anne McInerney (illustrator), (IAD Press)

Down the HoleThis is a picture book, and it is not. It is a picture book in that it is an illustrated narrative; it is not a picture book in that, like so many Aboriginal stories, it defies the boundaries of Western story-categories. It is a work of art, of history, of resistance; and it is an incredible bilingual testament of the Stolen Generations. The stripped-back narrative is both immediate and powerful. Whether speaking of being hidden down a hole to avoid the authorities who’d come to take them (Ngaltutjara wiya! – No, poor things! No kids used to play around here in Coober Pedy…all the kids were in the piti – in the holes), or the panicked instructions given to the children by their terrified parents (Just GO – and keep going!), this is a book which conveys the reality of the Stolen Generations era as can only be done by those for whom it was a lived experience. And the text is beautifully accompanied by Kunyi June-Anne McInerney’s illustrations which capture the tale to perfection as it winds from fear and flight to ultimately, escape and triumph: I been still hiding away – and here I am today.


Bronwyn Bancroft, ‘The Invisible Sleeper’ in Westerly 54:2 (downloadable free of charge at

WesterlyThis essay is a reflection on the complexities of being an Aboriginal person and a working Aboriginal artist in contemporary Australia by award-winning Bunjalung artist and illustrator Bronwyn Bancroft. The title of the essay, ‘The Invisible Sleeper’, refers to Bronwyn’s father: “…my father worked as a sleeper-cutter. He was the invisible Aboriginal man who left home early and came home late, spending a month at a time in the bush alone. He was the invisible sleeper.”

The Invisible Sleeper is the story of Bronwyn’s struggles and those of her family; of her career and her frustration at having to deal with stereotypical conceptions of Aboriginal art and culture; and of some of the many strands that make up her existence. It is one woman’s story, and like the story of each and every Aboriginal woman, it is not a simple one nor one that is free from hardship and pain. And in Brownyn’s thoughts and experiences, articulated in a clear and insightful voice, the reader is able to step into a world of art, culture and Aboriginality. In Bronwyn’s words:

“Creating art is not just about making pictures – it is about challenging the stereotypical that attempts to contain our visions as Aboriginal people. I have been constantly challenged by ignorance – that anyone can allow themselves to pass judgment on others is beyond belief. It creates a division in our society that is ‘us’ or ‘them’. It is not right that anyone feels or asserts that they are superior to another human being – we are all just different.”



AWW2014 Crime Roundup #4

alreadydead-fordThe most popular book for crime fiction fans during the past two months of AWW2014 has been Jaye Ford’s thriller ALREADY DEAD. The book’s opening act depicts a man [Brendan Walsh] leaping into the car of a random stranger (Miranda Jack) waiting at traffic lights. He points a gun at her, demands she drive on and frantically rants that he is being watched. Marcia at Book Muster from Down Under thought it a great introduction to Ford’s work and she plans to go back to the earlier titles

Her writing is powerful, with her use of short sharp sentences conveying the urgency of her voice, so much so, that you can’t help but keep turning the pages, as the third person narrative point of view effectively transports the reader into the mind of a woman who has been placed in a situation where she is no longer sure of what is real or imagined. And it doesn’t end there!

She continually ups the ante by throwing in other characters whose motives are questionable and, by revealing only a layer at a time the real circumstances surrounding the carjacking, she keeps the suspense taut as she makes Jax’s life (and ours) a living terror.

While Shelleyrae at Book’d Out was struck by one of the novel’s themes

Ford’s exploration of the issues associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Already Dead gives added depth to this work of crime fiction. Walsh has struggled to readjust to civilian life after two tours in Afghanistan and people are quick blame PTSD for his accusations. Jax, in the wake of the abduction, is also suffering from the disorder’s symptoms – nightmares and anxiety, exacerbated by her still fresh grief and a history of tragedy

Other novels to receive attention this month included:

murderinthetelephoneexchange-wrightJune Wright’s 1948 novel MURDER IN THE TELEPHONE EXCHANGE was re-issued this year and was the subject of a delightful review and commentary (with great photos) from present-day author Josephine Pennicott

Knowing June is drawing on her personal experience in her experience as a telephonist,  also makes it an absorbing read. I’d never considered before how frantic and overwhelming it could be for switchboard operators working through bushfire seasons, and international crises. The pressure seeing the girls collapsing from exhaustion, the stress on the late roster girls when the evening shifts are cut right back, the strained concentration you need when you have half-a-dozen lines under your fingers… Not to mention of course, the girls who love to listen in on socialites’ private calls. And little details like the possessive emotions the Hello Girls foster towards their telephone sets. And Maggie, the hero of the story, laughing over that wherever she goes, she runs into somebody from the telephone exchange, including when she went to New Guinea on a trip. You can really touch the author herself through those little flourishes, and they make for authentic insights into a particular era and career. And it is through her knowledge of the telephone exchange that Maggie Brynes, the book’s hero is able to help solve the crime

let-her-go-barkerDawn Barker’s LET HER GO tackles the currently hot topic (in Australia at least) of surrogacy with a woman having a baby for her sister, Angela Savage says of it

Some heavy handed dialogue notwithstanding, Barker shares with authors like Wendy James and Honey Brown an ability to inject credible drama into ordinary people’s lives, encouraging readers to imagine what they would do in similar circumstances…

Let Her Go ultimately raises more questions than answers about surrogacy. But Barker’s novel can and should contribute to current national discussions about infertility, surrogacy, parenthood and the rights of the child.

cooperbartholomew-jamesRebecca James’ COOPER BARTHOLOMEW IS DEAD about a boy whose death from suicide is not accepted by everyone left behind. Shaheen at Speculating on SpecFic

The first thing that struck me about this book were the extremely vivid characters. Libby, Sebastien and Claire practically fly off the pages as they each take turns narrating the story after their friend Cooper dies. Cooper himself gets to take centre stage often as the story jumps between THEN and NOW, showing the times before Cooper’s death and afterwards.

I think the time jumps and the four narrators work perfectly because it allows the author to control how much information Libby (and the reader) has. It makes for a brilliantly suspenseful book that will keep you guessing.

Shaheen also posted an interview with Rebecca James which is well worth a read.

canyoukeepasecret-overingtonCaroline Overington’s CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET which Marcia from Book Muster Down Under found thought-provoking

Even though I think that some will find the subject matter a bit of a challenge, this aside, Caroline’s writing has a surprisingly relaxed and easy feel to it which immerses you into Caitlin’s world and keeps you turning the pages. She’s also been rather shrewd in choosing Caitlin to be the narrator as we get nobody else’s viewpoint until the very end. For me, the title itself asks the reader “can you keep a secret”? As a reviewer, yes, I sure can!

Claustrophobia Tracy RyanTracy Ryan’s CLAUSTROPHOBIA is a suspense novel that hooked Monique from Write Note Reviews

Claustrophobia is set in Perth, Western Australia. It’s a fitting backdrop for a book that examines feelings of social isolation – and even isolation within a relationship – since Perth is one of the most remote cities on Earth…Married couple Pen and Derrick live, work and do most things together (both work at the same school). While renovating their house, Pen discovers a letter to Derrick from a former lover.

Taut, tense and surprising … Claustrophobia is a slow-burner with themes that lingered in my mind long after I put the book down. If obsessive attachment, isolation, betrayals, secrets and lies is the sort of thing that gets under your skin, give this one a go. It will hook you slowly, but when it does, it will reel you in tight.

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

If you’re after some ideas of more crime/mystery/thriller or true crime books to read then head over to the genre’s reviews page for this year’s challenge to see what else is being discussed or check out the previous roundups for this review category

About Me

I’m Bernadette Bean. I’ve been reading avidly for as long as I can remember, blogging about reading since late 2008 at Reactions to Reading and co-hosting Fair Dinkum Crime, a site devoted to promoting and discussing Australian crime fiction, for the past couple of years. I read and reviewed 18 books as part of my own participation in the 2012 challenge. Some of them weren’t even crime novels!

Children’s and Young Readers: Round Up Five (2014)

There’s been a few very different books reviewed since my last round up of Children’s books.

pizzicapizzica-eganMonique reviewed Pizzica Pizzica by Hayley Egan. Told in English and Italian it is the story of dance and the way music can make you feel “alive and free”. A girl who feels heavy and empty is told that she had been bitten by a spider and the only cure is dancing. The review noted the impact of the layered meanings in the text:

. . . has the girl really been bitten by a spider (which young children would understand), is it about that feeling when music or art or something gives you a jolt, or is there a more emotional reason for her feeling of emptiness and heaviness (which an adult reader would discern)? Younger and older readers will get something different from it.

kissedbythemoon-lesterA Strong Belief in Wicker reviewed the latest book from Alison Lester, Kissed by the Moon.

Kissed by the Moon is a lullaby of sorts, wishing an active, imaginative and thoughtful life for the new baby. It encourages us to be out in nature and to treat our fellow creatures well.

Kissed by the Moon, which was on the shortlist for the Children Book of the Year awards, is described as an exceptional book, and a perfect gift for new parents and babies – with present giving season approaching it could be the perfect gift for the very small people in your life.

magicanimalfriends-meadowsFor slightly older readers there’s Magic Animal Friends: Poppy Muddlepup’s Daring Rescue, by Daisy Meadows which was reviewed by Lynette. This was a three in one book, which is always great when you have readers who are devouring series of books. It follows the adventures of Jess and Lily who need to hunt for magic ingredients to break a magic spell.

Written by Daisy Meadows, who wrote the Rainbow Magic series, the Magic Animal Friends stories follow the same tried and true formula combining friendship, magic, imagination and kindness. The girls need to be resourceful, creative and brave to help their friends, and of course they always succeed.

Lynette also notes that while this is recommended for 6 years and older, that it can be enjoyed by younger children.

Three Australian Women Writers have been nominated for the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Ursula Dubosarsky, Libby Gleeson,  and Mem Fox  were among 197 nominees for the 2015 award (along with fellow Australian Morris Gleitzman). While all three authors were reviewed last year, surprisingly there are no reviews of their work amongst the 2014 books – it would be great to remedy that for the end of the year round up!

In other children’s book news, the Speech Pathology Australia 2014 Book of the Year Awards were announced yesterday. These awards celebrate Australian books which help children get the best, most literate start in life. Amongst the winners were I’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian and Ann James (in the Birth to 3 category) and A Swim in the Sea by Sue Whiting and Meredith Thomas (in the 3 – 5 years category) – more award winning books by Australian Women Writers to add to your to-read list!


About Me

I’ve had a strong interest in children’s fiction since Grade 1 when a fabulous teacher bribed me with Famous Five novels. I continued reading Melina Dchildren’s and YA books  long after I was supposed to ‘grow up’ – something which served me very well when I became a teacher and was known all over the school as ‘the teacher with the books’. I’m currently on maternity leave, enjoying the rich world of picture books with my toddler and sporadically blogging over at Adventures of a Subversive Reader


YA Speculative Fiction Round-Up: Aug-Sep 2014

Welcome to the August and September round up of YA Speculative Fiction!

Frontier Resistance Rogers book coverThe Garsal have landed, the world has changed, and Shanna has gifts that might save everyone. With her starcats by her side and her friends around her, she must try to master her gifts and seek out the alien invaders before they enslave her world.

One of the most popular titles during August and September was Frontier Resistance (Frontier #2) by Leonie Rogers. It received a 5 star review from Brenda, who said “I absolutely loved this second instalment in the Frontier series.” It also received high praise from Carolyn, who said “Frontier Incursion was every bit as good as I hoped.”

These Broken Stars Amie Kaufman Meagan Spooner book coverIt’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Another popular title has been These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. Cassandra Page loved it, and proclaims that “These Broken Stars is my kind of science fiction story”. She is referring to how a reader doesn’t “need to have a degree in astrophysics or robotic engineering to follow the intricacies of the plot”, and I’d like to chime in and point out (as an astrophysicist) that the science is really well done in this book. Amie and Meagan have an astrophysicist read through their books for scientific accuracy! Welcome to my Library also reviewed These Broken Stars, and also loved it: ” I couldn’t put These Broken Stars down and was totally swept up from the moment I picked it up”.

This Night So Dark, a short-story set in the Starbound universe, is now available (here is the link to the Australian Kindle store) and the next novel, This Shattered World, is coming out in December from Allen and Unwin.

Shimmer Paula Weston book coverGaby thought her life couldn’t get more complicated. She’s almost used to the idea that she’s not the nineteen-year-old backpacker she thought she was. She can just about cope with being one of the Rephaim – a 140-year-old half-angel – whose memories have been stolen. She’s even coming to grips with the fact that Jude, the brother she’s mourned for a year, didn’t die at all. But now Rafa—sexy, infuriating Rafa—is being held, and hurt, by Gatekeeper demons. And Gaby has to get the bitterly divided Rephaim to work together, or Rafa has no chance at all. It’s a race against time – and history. And it may already be too late.

Paula Weston’s The Rephaim books continue to be popular with reviewers, with Rochelle Sharpe reviewing the latest instalment, Shimmer, and saying “Shimmer was another outstanding installment of the Rephaim series. No other angel book compares to this one, seriously. It flies high above the other ones, looking down with a smirk in all its awesomeness.”

Lee @ Rally the Readers has reviewed the second book in the series, Haze, giving it high praise: “I love Paula Weston’s storytelling and characters. The latter are quite numerous, but she gives them such distinct personalities that you never have to stop and sort out who’s who. And you certainly never confuse Rafa with anyone else!”

Remember Me Stacey NashAnamae Gilbert managed to thwart The Collective and rescue her father, even though his mind is now a shell. Determined to stop Councilor Manvyke hurting her family again, she’s training to become an active resistance member and enjoying a growing romance. But things never sail along smoothly – Manvyke wants retribution. And Anamae’s name is high on his list. After a blow to the head, she awakes in an unfamiliar location. Anamae can’t remember the last few weeks and she can’t believe the fascinating new technology she’s seeing. She’s the new kid at school and weapons training comes with ease, but something feels off. Why does the other new kid’s smile make her heart ache? And why does she get the feeling these people are deadly?

Remember Me (The Collective #2) by Stacey Nash has been reviewed by Brenda: “This second novel in the YA fantasy series of The Collective by Aussie author Stacey Nash is excellent. Fast paced with a brilliant plot and some great twists. I thoroughly enjoyed book two, and can’t wait for the next in the series. Highly recommended.” Additionally, Brenda reviewed Lake Ephemeral Part 3 by Anya Allyn and loved it, saying “[T]he chilling creepiness is getting stranger! The mystery is deepening, the horrors are intensifying.”

Other reviews:

And that’s it for this month! I’ll be back in December with the October and November round-up :) Happy reading!


About Me

Hi! I’m Shaheen from Speculating on SpecFic, a book blog dedicated to works of speculative fiction – fantasy, science fiction, magic realism, paranormal romance and much more. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading and use my blog to peddle my love to others. When not reading (rare times indeed), I can be found completing my PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Interview with ‘When the Night Comes’ author Favel Parrett

favelparrettFavel Parrett  is an writer based in Victoria, Australia. Her first novel, Past the Shallows, was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary award 2012 and also won the Dobbie Literary Prize and Newcomer of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards. Her second novel, When the Night Comes, was released in August.

She is on Twitter as @favelparrett and her official website is



Did you grow up in a bookish house? What was your early relationship with books?

My house was not bookish at all, but I was read to at night. Wind in the Willows was my first big love. I still have the version that was read to me.

When did you begin writing in a serious way, and what motivated that?

I did some writing when I was a teenager, but it wasn’t until I was around 30 that I decided to go back to school and try Professional Writing and Editing at TAFE. I never finished the diploma, but I somehow managed to finish a novel.

How did your debut novel Past the Shallows come to be published?parrett-pasttheshallows

It’s such a long road to publication. I was lucky in a few key ways along the journey. Firstly I got into the Queensland Writers Centre Manuscript Development Program, which is run in conjunction with Hachette Australia.  I wasn’t offered a book contract after that, but I was given a great deal of help with how to make my manuscript better. I then was given an Australian Society of Authors Mentorship. This put me in touch with editor Julia Styles, who helped make my manuscript ready to be sent to publishers. And after much work and luck, Hachette Australia eventually took Past the Shallows on.

parrett-whenthenightcomesWhat was the inspiration behind your latest novel When the Night Comes?

It’s a big love story really. I am deeply in love with a ship that sailed for 26 years on the Southern Ocean. She was called Nella Dan. Most people in Hobart remember her. I became lost in memories after I found some photographs of her, and I began writing soon after. I never imagined it would become a novel, but somehow it did.

What are your writing habits?

When I’m with a book, I try to write most days. I try to use the morning energy as much as possible and sit with the writing from about 7 – till 230 ish. But then some days I’ll surf and read or do something else.  Mostly though, it’s about putting in the consistent time. Boring but the reality.

What do you do when you feel creatively stuck?

Do some walking or exercise. Go and sit in the bush or a park or by the water.

What are you working on now?

Not much really. I’m reading and writing small bits and pieces. I feel a bit empty. Time to fill up creatively.

What’s your favourite book by an Australian female author?

I really love – The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen. What a book!

Reviews of Favel’s books

Past the Shallows reviewed by Louise Allan

Shelleyrae at Book’d Out reviews When the Night Comes

Review of When the Night Comes by Kathryn Goldie

Want More?

Interview with ‘Lost & Found’ author Brooke Davis

About Me

annabel-smith2Annabel Smith is the author of interactive digital novel/app The Ark; Whisky Charlie Foxtrot; and A New Map of the Universe, which was shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Book Awards. She has had short fiction and commentary published in Westerly and Southerly, holds a PhD in Writing from Edith Cowan University and is on the editorial board of Margaret River Press.

Focus on Australian Women Writers with Disability Roundup

ThroughTheCracksHoneyBrownThe light and shade woven into one’s writing from disability, memoir as protest, a rugged journey to wellness, and the consolations of deafness – these were all ideas explored in our guest posts by writers with disability over September. Honey Brown, author of five novels, described how writing saved her following a farming accident which left her with a spinal cord injury. Her first completed manuscript reminded her of who she was, while each subsequent story, she wrote, ‘revealed a little more of me.’ Writing gave her pride and restored her sense of self.

the-art-of-being-deafJust as sadness can motivate one to write, so too can anger. In the process of writing her memoir, The Art of Being Deaf, Donna McDonald created ‘both a personal reckoning and a protest that stands alongside many other such accounts, contributing to a bigger picture of the struggle by generations of deaf and hard-of-hearing people around the world.’ Although Donna was dubious about the impact of her efforts, her memoir defies the assumption that to be deaf is to lead an impoverished life.

madnessamemoirThe genre of memoir opens its hands to readers and guides them through the life of an author. Kate Richards, who suffered from depression and psychosis, was compelled to write Madness: a Memoir because she ‘couldn’t find any books written by someone with mental illness that expressed the ragged rawness of their experience, the intensity, the in-the-moment exhilaration or bewilderment or black despair.’ Her finished work details the baffling and often terrifying world of mental illness, the negative impact of the irregular provision of mental health services, and the solace of literature as she strove courageously to become well. I didn’t want to let go of Kate’s hand when I finished the book.

entitlementI lost one of my senses – my hearing – when I was small, but the equally fundamental act of writing replaced it. Writing was foremost a means to process the painful emotions of deafness, but as my craft developed, it also became a vehicle for articulating the lives of other people on the margins. As I explained in my guest post, my two novels, A Curious Intimacy and Entitlement, express the emotions of my childhood and adolescence through their characters. They also make a plea to their readers to contemplate the effects of ostracism and estrangement from home and society, experiences which are common to people with disability.

Our readers also picked up and reviewed books by women writers with disability over this month, which was fantastic to see.

Elizabeth Lhuede of Devoted Eclectic bravely persisted with Gillian Mears’ Foal’s Bread after finding the opening emotionally distressing. She concluded ‘There aren’t too many books I can honestly say have changed my life, but Gillian Mears’ Foal’s Bread is one of them.’ Amazing words, indeed! Mears, who has multiple sclerosis, tells the story of Noah, her husband Roly and their daughter Lainey with an exquisite use of language. She also renders the complexity of childhood sexual assault with ‘remarkable sensitivity’, which gave Elizabeth a space to re-negotiate trauma from her own childhood. This book, Elizabeth writes, ‘could sneak inside your soul, break your heart, move even the most prosaic reviewer to poetry.’

survivingpeace-simicOver at Whispering Gums, Sue contemplated Olivera Simić’s Surviving Peace: a political memoir. Written ‘unapologetically … from the point of view of a survivor’, the work details Simić’s post traumatic stress disorder, a condition which severely disables the lives of its sufferers, and which affected Simić following the bombing of Sarajevo. Among a discussion of the Yugoslav, Bosnian and Kosovo wars though which she lived, identity, ethnicity and the aftermath of war, the discussion of PTSD is ‘the most personal, intimate part of the book.’ Sue writes that she’s ‘never one to say you must read a book,’ but even without this gentle exhortation, her review has persuaded me to add this title to my TBR pile.

Deeper Water Jessie ColeOther mentions of disability in the books reviewed over September include Melina Marchetta’s Saving Francesca. The protagonist Francesca’s mother, as Rally the Readers writes, ‘fell into a deep depression that left the rest of the family at a loss to help her.’ Jessie Cole’s Deeper Water features a character, Mema, who has a club foot. Mema has an affinity with nature that erases her sense of difference, for the land ‘shored up all my weak points.’ In town, however, ‘all the straight lines and pavements tripped me up. The world became even, no undulations, and I became off centre.’ It’s an interesting challenge to the concept of the ‘civilised’ world, which often doesn’t treat people with disability well. Mema’s difference makes her attractive to a stranger to her town, a worldly older man, but Lou Heinrich of the Newtown Review of Books found this a ‘kind of an old story.’

The Singing GoldOne of the things I love about the AWW Challenge is that it introduces me to new writers. When I asked for suggestions to add to the list of Australian Women Writers with Disability, writer Michelle Dicinoski mentioned Dorothy Cottrell. I picked up Cottrell’s novel, The Singing Gold, and enjoyed its theme of a woman gaining financial independence through writing. I was also impressed with Cottrell’s nature writing, and I wonder if her attention to the natural world might have come about because, being confined to a wheelchair because of polio, she had an opportunity to observe more than most.

The Golden Age Joan LondonPolio also features in Joan London’s The Golden Age, reviewed by Brenda at GoodReads. It’s the story of two young people who meet at the Golden Age Children’s Convalescent Home in Perth, where they develop a ‘ burgeoning and secret friendship.’ Brenda describes the book as melancholy and sad, uplifting and hopeful, the word pictures are painted with a passion that shows the fragility of life, the deep impressions of a childhood love and the strength of coping with what life sometimes throws at you.’

Indeed, among all of these stories – those reviewed by our readers and those of the guest authors – the most pervasive theme is that of resilience. Having a disability can be exhausting and humiliating, while our interactions with others often show us the ugly side of human nature. It’s no surprise that literature by writers with disability is threaded with so much darkness. Yet people with disability, like their able-bodied counterparts, still strive to live their lives well and to access love, education, relationships and respect. By reading the works of Australian women writers with disability, we can become aware of the issues they face and join them in their fight for accessibility and equality.

We also held a book giveaway for four books by the guest authors this month, and many thanks are due to Penguin Books for copies of Honey’s and Kate’s books. I plugged our 5 reviewers (minus myself, to be fair!) into, and the winners are Sue, Elizabeth, Brenda and Lou. Thank you for your reviews, and I’ll contact you about your books. In the meantime, if anyone would like more ideas for Australian women writers with disability, you always can head to the list on our diversity page.


About Me

JessI’m Jessica White, a novelist and researcher, and I’ve been deaf since age 4 when I lost most of my hearing from meningitis.  I have a PhD from the University of London and have published two novels with Penguin, A Curious Intimacy (2007) and Entitlement (2012).  I’ve recently received funding from the Australia Council’s new Artists With Disability program to write my third novel, The Sea Creatures.  You can find more information about me at my website.  I’m also on Twitter @ladyredjess.

September 2014 Roundup: Classics and Literary

My the months come around fast don’t they? Like last year, August and September saw fewer reviews than the preceding months, but we are still tracking ahead of last year, so thanks once again to all for keeping this challenge alive and well.

Slow and steady in September

So, we had 24 reviews in September and amongst them were some interesting highlights:

  • Three, yes three, classics – and none of them the usual suspects
  • Four authors receiving two reviews each: Sonya Hartnett, Cate Kennedy (for a short story anthology she edited), Joan London and Annabel Smith.
  • Our most prolific reviewer being author Jane Rawson with 3 reviews.
  • An innovative self-published e-book by a published author.

The Classics

in certain circles - elizabeth harrowerHow do we define a classic? Usually it’s a book that has stood the test of time – though how much time is a matter of opinion. However, one of our three classics was published for the first time this year – Elizabeth Harrower’s In Certain Circles, published in Text’s Australian Classics series. It was her fifth novel, and the story goes that she originally submitted it to a publisher in 1971, then withdrew it, worked on it some more, resubmitted it, and then withdrew it again. Although still alive (she’s 86), she never published another novel. I’m happy to accept the reviewer’s definition of this as a classic, but you can decide for yourselves. This reviewer, Angie Holst, is one of our regulars, and writes:

It is extraordinarily crafted. I felt keen to keep returning to it and finish it, despite the fact that there is not a great deal of dramatic action within the plot.

If you haven’t read any Harrower, do give her a go. Her evocation of character and the clarity and tightness of her writing puts her among our best writers.

beachbeyond-curlewisThe other two classics both come from the 1920s – Jean Curlewis’ Beach beyond (1923) and Dorothy Cottrell’s The singing gold (1928). I know neither of these works but did discover during the month that Jean Curlewis is Ethel Turner’s daughter. Debbie Robson, one of our keenest reviewers of classics this year, was particularly delighted to discover that Curlewis was “an Australian writing in the 1920s and not about the bush”. A rare beast indeed. Robson liked the book, which is apparently one of four Curlewis wrote about upper middle-class Sydney families and youthful idealism.

Dorothy Cottrell’s The singing gold was reviewed by challenge team member Jessica White for August’s Women Writers with Disability month. Cottrell was a polio sufferer who spent most of her life in a wheelchair. This novel is fairly autobiographical, and Jessica was impressed overall:

Although the plot isn’t much to write home about, this novel still has gorgeous nature writing, a strong female protagonist, and that unavoidably heartening theme of gaining financial independence through writing.

New books by established authors

It was good to see reviews this month of the latest books by some of our well-established authors: Janette Turner Hospital’s The claimant (published May), Joan London’s The golden age (published early August), and Sonya Hartnett’s Golden boys (published late August).

claimant-hospitalJanette Turner Hospital is an expat Australian writer who’s only appeared once before in these round-ups, last November, when her first novel The ivory swing was reviewed. This month, Michael Richardson reviewed her latest novel in the Newtown Review of Books. Hospital describes her novel as “The great Gatsby in reverse”, and Richardson agrees, saying:

Like Gatsby, it is a story about wealth, identity and restless longing, but this book centres on the desire to escape wealth and privilege rather than obtain it.

It’s a reworking of the famous Tichborne Case, transplanted to the twentieth century and focused on the Vanderbilt fortune, rather than the British peerage. Richardson sees flaws in the novel – stretched at times to incredulity – but says that ultimately it is

a subtle and often beautiful novel of flowing prose, sympathetic characters, and careful treatment of trauma and loss.

Hospital is a writer who takes risks and often pushes ideas and language to the edge, but this makes her exciting to read.

goldenboys-hartnettI mentioned The golden age last month, so let’s now look at Hartnett’s Golden boys. Hartnett is a prolific Australian writer of children’s, young adult and adult novels. Her first novel – for adults – was published in 1984 when she was 15 years old! She has won and/or been shortlisted for many of Australia’s major literary awards. Our two reviewers, Kate (Books are my favourite and best) and Bree (1 girl … too many books), both comment on its toughness to read, with Bree calling it “unflinching” and Kate saying that:

There’s nothing ‘feel good’ about it. It will leave you feeling flat, heart-sore and perhaps angry as well.

It’s about two suburban families, one well-to-do, one struggling, with the father of the former prone to cruelties and the other discontented and unpredictable. Both reviewers, however, greatly admired Hartnett’s writing and both found themselves thinking about it long after they’d finished it. Sounds like a must-read to me!

Annabel Smith’s The Ark

the-arkAnd now we come to something completely different – a self-published e-book by a previously published author. I’m talking about The ark, a futuristic dystopian novel by Western Australian writer, Annabel Smith, whose novels include A new map of the universe and Whisky Charlie Foxtrot. Why did she self-publish this one? Well, perhaps because it is an e-book and an app, with interactive elements. It was published in September. I am currently reading it on my iPad, but fortunately two readers have already posted reviews for the Challenge. Reviewer Jane Rawson, who read it on Kindle, describes the set up:

The idea for this book is ingenious. In the 2040s, the world is falling to pieces. A seed bank has been set up in the Snowy Mountains to protect the world’s plant stocks. As the Chaos mounts, the director of the seed bank decides to bring the employees and their families inside and lock them away.

And Louise Allen describes its form

It’s written in epistolary form—emails, minutes of meetings, and news articles. There’s also a website,, with video of inside the Ark and audio of conversations.

The interactive elements include not only opportunities to go to this website to tour the Ark, but also allows readers to add to the story or upload their own fan-fiction. It will be fascinating to see how many readers take this up, but meanwhile, how exciting to see a work experimenting with ways in which fiction can be extended by modern interactive technologies. It can, I believe, be bought on Amazon’s Kindle store or Apple’s iBooks store.

I’ve mentioned only a few of the books reviewed this month. To see all of the Literary/Classic books reviewed this year to date, please check this Weebly page.


About Me

I am Whispering Gums and I read, review and blog about (mostly) literary fiction. It was reading Jane Austen when I was 14 years old that turned me on to reading literary fiction/classics, which is why I am here today doing this round-up! Little did Jane know what she started!

My love of Aussie literature started with Banjo Paterson’s ballads and Ethel Turner’s Seven Little Australians in my childhood. But, I didn’t really discover Australian women’s writing until the 1980s when I “met” and fell in love with Elizabeth Jolley, Thea Astley, Olga Masters, Helen Garner and Kate Grenville. Ever since then I have been making sure to include a good percentage of Australian (and other) women writers in my reading diet.

August and September 2014 Wrap up: Romance, romantic suspense and erotica

Welcome to the wrap up for August and September for romance, romantic suspense and erotica (although to be fair we don’t seem to get a lot of reviews for the last of those categories).

Over the last couple of months there have been several authors who have been reviewed more than once. In some cases this was where one book was reviewed more than once and in other cases it is where there have been multiple books from the same author.


Let’s start with the author and book that was reviewed most and that is The French Prize by Cathryn Hein, an author who normally writes rural romance novels but this time brings us a story from Provence. I have long had a thing for France so my attention is already captured!

Bree from All the Books I Can Read says of the book:

The French Prize has a little of everything – romance, mystery, action, food and fun. It’s taken Cathryn Hein out of the rural romance box and proved that she has a lot more to offer readers with a complex and enjoyable story. I’ve always loved her rurals but I have to say, I love this one just as much!


Rachael Johns has been a challenge favourite for the last couple of years and this year is no exception. There have been two reviews of her novella Tease Me, Cowboy and one of her latest book, Outback Ghost. Rachael Johns is another author who has moved away from her more familiar rural romance roots to give us a story with a different setting, this time in America with cowboys.

Over at Sam Still Reading there was a ringing endorsementof the story and change of setting:

Fantastic story with excellent characterisation and a cracking plot that has made me rethink my opinion of cowboys!


Helena from Reading Romance has reviewed two stories from Bec McMaster over the last month. The first was the full length novel My Lady Quicksilver and the second was the novella The Curious Case of the Clockwork Menace. Both books are part of the London Steampunk series which is something  a little different to the normal books that I talk about in these wrap ups. Helena says of the series

The London Steampunk series is a must read for anyone who enjoys steampunk, paranormal romance, smoking hot heroes and heroines who kick ass.

sunnyvale girls by fiona palmer

Not all of our rural romance authors are moving away from their familiar settings. Fiona Palmer has, however, combined her normal rural setting with an Italian twist and thrown in a historical thread as well in her new novel The Sunnyvale Girls. Sounds like my kind of read. Shelleyrae from Book’d Out enjoyed the book saying

A lovely rural romance, with appealing characters, a strong storyline, and a historical twist, The Sunnyvale Girls is another enjoyable novel from Fiona Palmer.


I thought I would finish with Jenny Schwartz’s review of Moonstone: A Little Gems Anthology which features fourteen short stories by authors who are members of the Romance Writers of Australia. I must confess I haven’t read a lot of short romance stories about new to me characters which really work but an anthology like this could be a fab way to find some new authors to try! To read some of the short thoughts that Jenny has shared about each of the stories click here.

That’s it for this month but be sure to take a look at some of the other romance reviews by clicking on the Weebly pages where new reviews are always being added.


Marg has long been an avid reader of all genres, with the most books read being in the romance genre. Marg has been blogging about all different genres and other things at Adventures of an Intrepid Reader for more than 8 years. You can tweet to her@margreads.

September 2014: General Fiction

For the purposes of this challenge ‘general fiction’, is defined as fiction set post mid 1900′s, which does not fit neatly into a specific literary genre.


The Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett


Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian live in a world of shiny, new things – skateboards, slot cars, train sets and even the latest BMX. Their affluent father, Rex, has made sure that they’ll be the envy of the new, working-class suburb they’ve moved to.
But underneath the surface of the perfect family, is there something unsettling about the Jensons? To the local kids, Rex becomes a kind of hero, but Colt senses there’s something in his father that could destroy their fragile new lives.

 Kate from Booksaremyfavouriteandbest writes; “Like of all of Hartnett’s stories, there are many layers – I haven’t even mentioned the significant theme of children realising faults in their parents OR her wonderful analogies with seawater OR the brilliant scene where the Jenson’s above-ground swimming pool is filled OR how Hartnett slowly, slowly build the evidence and the tension OR how the violence jumps off the page OR how much I loved the character of Syd OR how the back-stories of Garrick and Avery were very, very cleverly constructed.” Bree from All the Books I Can Read concludes; “a highly skilled novel, well crafted and written and it’s the sort of story that sneaks up on you and leaves you thinking about it long after you’ve completed it.”


Mothers and Daughters by Kylie Ladd



Four mothers. Four teenage daughters. An isolated tropical paradise with no internet or mobile phone reception. What could possibly go wrong? There’s tension, bitchiness, bullying, sex, drunken confessions, bad behaviour and breakdowns – and wait till you see what the teenagers get up to…
How can we let our daughters go to forge lives of their own when what we most want to do is hold them close and never let them go? How do we let them grow and keep them protected from the dark things in the world at the same time? And how can mothers and daughters navigate the troubled, stormy waters of adolescence without hurting themselves and each other? A clear-eyed, insightful and wildly entertaining look into the complicated, emotional world of mothers and daughters

Thematically, Mothers and Daughters hit the spot. However, the overall emotional impact given those themes was less than I expected.” asserts Monique from Write Note Reviews. Lynette from The Clothesline thinks; “…Ladd does provide a nuanced look at life in a remote Aboriginal community. Mason, an Aboriginal man and Tia’s father is an interesting character with an authentic voice. Ladd addresses problems and deep-seated racism, facing them head on usually through Amira’s empathetic eyes, and it is possible to feel you have glimpsed some of the complex difficulties facing Indigenous people in Australia, and also to have an insight into a possible solution where healthy, functional, self-managed Indigenous communities can exist.” Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out writes; “I glimpse elements of my own relationship with my mother, and my teenage daughter, in this story of these women and girls, and pieces of mothers and daughters I have known in the characters.”


Lyrebird Hill by Anna Romer



When all that you know comes crashing down, do you run? Or face the truth? Ruby Cardel has the semblance of a normal life – a loving boyfriend, a fulfilling career – but in one terrible moment, her life unravels. The discovery that the death of her sister, Jamie, was not an accident makes her question all she’s known about herself and her past.
Travelling back home to Lyrebird Hill, Ruby begins to remember the year that has been forever blocked in her memory . . . Snatches of her childhood with beautiful Jamie, and Ruby’s only friendship with the boy from the next property, a troubled foster kid. Then Ruby uncovers a cache of ancient letters from a long-lost relative, Brenna Magavin, written from her cell in a Tasmanian gaol where she is imprisoned for murder. As she reads, Ruby discovers that her family line is littered with tragedy and violence. Slowly, the gaps in Ruby’s memory come to her. And as she pieces together the shards of truth, what she finally discovers will shock her to the core – about what happened to Jamie that fateful day, and how she died.

“Beautifully written, richly characterised and intricately plotted, Lyrebird Hill is one of those books that draws you in and doesn’t let go …:” writes Monique of Write Note ReviewsDebbish says; “I found myself very eager to discover Brenna’s story in particular. And although it didn’t feature heavily, I also loved the insight into the challenges and injustices being faced by the Indigenous community (and to a lesser extent, women) over a century ago. “


When the Night Comes by Favel Parrett


Running away from the mainland was supposed to make their lives better. But, for Isla and her brother, their mother’s sadness and the cold, damp greyness of Hobart’s stone streets seeps into everything. Then, one morning, Isla sees a red ship. That colour lights her day. And when a sailor from the ship befriends her mother, he shares his stories with them all – of Antarctica, his home in Denmark and life onboard. Like the snow white petrels that survive in the harshest coldest place, this lonely girl at the bottom of the world will learn that it is possible to go anywhere, be anything. But she will also find out that it is just as easy to lose it all. For Isla, those two long summers will change everything. Favel Parrett delivers an evocative and gently told story about the power fear and kindness have to change lives.’

Brenda’s opinion is effusive; “What an amazing novel! Evocative, pure, resonating and powerful, this second novel by Aussie author Favel Parrett is absolutely beautiful. The writing is inspiring, the descriptions of Hobart, Antarctica and Bo’s home in Denmark are such that I felt I was there, experiencing the icy cold and frigid beauty.” Kathryn; “…was quickly seduced by the style and rhythm of Parrett’s prose and read the book in just a few hours. “


The Golden Age by Joan London

The Golden Age Joan London


He felt like a pirate landing on an island of little maimed animals. A great wave had swept them up and dumped them here. All of them, like him, stranded, wanting to go home. It is 1954 and thirteen-year-old Frank Gold, refugee from wartime Hungary, is learning to walk again after contracting polio in Australia.  At the Golden Age Children’s Polio Convalescent Hospital in Perth, he sees Elsa, a fellow-patient, and they form a forbidden, passionate bond. The Golden Age becomes the little world that reflects the larger one, where everything occurs, love and desire, music, death, and poetry. Where children must learn that they are alone, even within their families.

 The Incredible Rambling Elimy suggests; “This is not a novel which is heavy in plot; in fact were we to focus on the plot it would be a rather short book indeed.” “The Golden Age is a beautiful book – melancholy and sad, uplifting and hopeful, the word pictures are painted with a passion that shows the fragility of life, the deep impressions of a childhood love and the strength of coping with what life sometimes throws at you.” writes Brenda.


You can browse more general fiction titles reviewed by participants on the AWW review site



About Me

My name is Shelleyrae Cusbert I am a mother of four children, aged 8 to 18, living in the mid north coast of NSW. I am an obsessive reader and publish my thoughts about what I read at my book blog,  Book’d Out.  In 2012 I read and reviewed a total of 109 books for the AWW Challenge and in 2013 a total of 117. I juggle caring for my family with a part time job and volunteer at both the town’s local library and the children’s school library.

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