Welcome to our latest General Non-Fiction round-up. For all our History, Memoir, Biography (HMB) reviews check out Janine’s post later on in the month. But for now let’s explore the latest non-fiction reviews and news for true crime, politics, gardening, sociology and essays.

Amanda @Mrs B’s Book Reviews brings us a new release true crime investigation originally based on a podcast called Trace: Who Killed Maria James? by Rachael Brown. Brown is an investigative journalist who decided to explore why the frenzied murder of Maria James in 1980 was never solved. Her research turned into several podcasts (available wherever you source your podcasts from) and, eventually, became a book that reveals ‘the story behind the story’.

Amanda found that,

Brown’s resulting investigations have exposed errors in evidence and forensics, as well as regrettable cover-ups. What surprised me about this investigation was the corruption links to the Catholic Church and the Australian Police. As this case has been reopened and is ongoing, do not expect a straightforward conclusion to this murder, rather, plenty of questions and theories are served up.

Cass gives us a five-star rating for We’ll Show the World: Expo 88 by Jackie Ryan on her Goodreads page. I was a young 20 year old on her first big holiday with a boyfriend (now husband), I remember Expo 88 as this big, wonderful, exciting experience that left me with many happy memories. This book reminds us that there are more sides and more interpretations to any story than the one you know. As a resident, Cass has her own story.

For all its ambition and showiness, despite all the detractors and obstacles and protestors, Expo 88 was a ‘coming of age’ for Brisbane, a giant party that left lasting memories for those of us who participated, a lasting physical legacy in the form of South Bank Parklands, and lasting socio-political and cultural change for our city. This book pays homage to everything Expo in a remarkable trip down memory lane, and along the way it unearths some fascinating facts and trivia about behind-the-scenes dealings, the people in power, the acts and entertainment and icons we came to love, the near-disasters that almost occurred, and the once-in-a-lifetime surprises that did.

Cass also reviewed Reading the Landscape: A Celebration of Australian Writing with a multitude of authors and introduced by Bernadette Brennan. It was lovely to see Marg back @Adventures of an Intrepid Reader with a review of A Timeline of Australian Food by Jan O’Connell, while Jennifer took us on a tour of the Country Houses of Tasmania by Georgie Warner & Alice Bennett. Shelley @The Newtown Review of Books gave us One: Valuing the Single Life by Clare Payne.

I’ll finish up with a personal indulgence. Kate Forsyth, on her blog, discusses one of my favourite books from 2012. Charlotte Wood’s Love and Hunger is a delicious mix of memoir, recipes and an ode to cooking, family and eating together. I read this book slowly, savouring each chapter, trying out her recipes and reflecting on our family practices around food and eating. Kate preferred to gobble this up in one greedy gulp, then return to chapters and recipes in a more leisurely fashion.

For quite a few years, she wrote a food blog called ‘How to Shuck an Oyster’ in which philosophical musings on the importance of food and eating were mixed with helpful tips on how to be a better cook.

Love & Hunger grew out of this blog, and is a warm, wise, personal and practical collection of essays, recipes and cooking advice. Charlotte shares her own discovery of the art of cooking, gives guidance on how to be a good host, offers shrewd insights into the causes of picky eating, mediates on the fear of death in the disgust of offal, and brings me to tears discussing the best way to cook for people who are ill and dying.


In other Non-fiction news we have some shortlists and award winners to announce.

University of Queensland Non-Fiction Shortlist 2018

  • The Enigmatic Mr Deakin by Judith Brett (Text Publishing)*
  • The Year Everything Changed 2001 by Phillipa McGuinness (Penguin Random House)
  • Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture A New Earth by Charles Massy (UQP)
  • Korea: Where the American Century Began by Michael Pembroke (Hardie Grant)
  • Tracker by Alexis Wright (Giramondo Publishing)*

In other categories a few non-fiction titles …..including Beautiful Balts: From Dispaced Persons to New Australians by Jayne Persian (NewSouth Publishing), We’ll Show the World: Expo 1988 by Jackie Ryan (UQP) and The Battle Within: POWs in Postwar by Christina Twomey (NewSouth Publishing).

As you can see, three of the five Non-Fiction shortlisted books were written by Australian Women Writers. Two are HMB (*) titles while Phillipa McGuinness’ book is the only one that fits under our AWW General Non-fiction tag.

Australian Book Design Awards 2018

Pretty book covers also have their very own award ceremony each year. The Australian Book Design Awards (ABDA) “celebrate the bravest and brightest, the most original and beautiful books published in Australia each year.”

Our bravest and brightest Australian Women beautiful book designers for 2018 are:

McPherson’s Printing Group Designers’ Choice Children’s/Young Adult Cover of the Year

Penguin Random House Australia Best Designed Children’s Illustrated Book 

Under the Love Umbrella

Under the Love Umbrella
Cover Design: Allison Colpoys
Internal Design: Allison Colpoys
Illustration: Allison Colpoys
Publisher: Scribble Kid’s Books


Penguin Random House Australia Emerging Designer of the Year

Hazel Lam for Breaking Ranks, Remind Me How This Ends, Tour De Oz, Mrs. M


HarperCollins Best Designed Children’s Fiction Book

tales from a tall forest

Tales from a Tall Forest
Cover Design: Pooja Desai
Internal Design: Pooja Desai
Illustrator: Jonathan Bentley
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont


Egans Asset Management Best Designed Young Adult Cover

In the Dark Spaces 
Cover Design: Astred Hicks, Design Cherry
Internal Design: Patrick Cannon
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont


The Jacky Winter Group Best Designed Children’s & Young Adult Series

Books That Drive Kids Crazy Series
Cover Design: Beck & Matt Stanton
Internal Design: Beck & Matt Stanton
Publisher: ABC Books an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


Australian Academic Design Libraries Best Designed Educational Primary / Secondary Book

Cover Design: Lisa Diebold & Leonardo Rocker
Internal Design: Lisa Diebold & Leonardo Rocker
Illustrator: Lisa Diebold
Publisher: Quirky Kid


Booktopia Best Designed Commercial Fiction Cover

* Joint Winners *

the student

The Student
Cover Design: Alissa Dinallo
Publisher: Echo an imprint of Bonnier Publishing Australia

The Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club
Cover Design: Christa Moffitt, Christabella Designs
Publisher: Hachette Australia


Alamy Best Designed Literary Fiction Cover

The Gulf
Cover Design: Emily O’Neill
Publisher: Picador an imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia 

Best Designed Autobiography/Biography/Memoir Non-Fiction Cover

The Museum of Words

The Museum of Words
Cover Design: Allison Colpoys
Internal Design: Allison Colpoys
Publisher: Scribe Publications

The Craft & Co Best Designed Independent Book

* Joint Winners *

8 Poems
Cover Design: Marion Guerineau
Internal Design: Marion Guerineau
Publisher: Akerman Daly

Australian Book Design Hall of Fame

Alison Forbes


Highlight on September New Releases:

After the First Six Weeks by Midwife Cath (Allen & Unwin)

Cathryn Curtin, known as ‘Midwife Cath’ has delivered over 10,000 babies throughout her 40-year career. Following on from the success of The First Six Weeks, this second book will take new mums and expectant mums though all those pivotal milestones of their baby’s development through the first year—from birth through learning to sleep, eat and play, to sitting up, standing up, crawling and walking. It also includes sought after how-to illustrations of Cath’s famous ‘baby wrap’. After the First Six Weeks will answer all those new parent concerns about caring for your baby.


Rusted Off by Gabrielle Chan (Penguin Random House)

A big story from a small town. Telling the story of Australia as it is today, Gabrielle Chan has gone hyper-local. In Rusted Off, she looks to her own rural community’s main street for answers to the big questions driving voters. Why are we so fed up with politics? Why are formerly rusted-on country voters deserting major parties in greater numbers than their city cousins? Can ordinary people teach us more about the way forward for government? In 1996 – the same year as Pauline Hanson entered parliament – Gabrielle, the city-born daughter of a Chinese migrant, moved to a sheep and wheat farm in country New South Wales. She provides a window into her community where she raised her children and reflects on its lessons for the Australian political story. It is a fresh take on the old rural narrative, informed by class and culture, belonging and broadband, committees and cake stalls, rural recession and reconciliation. Along the way, Gabrielle recounts conversations with her fellow residents, people who have no lobby group in Canberra, so we can better understand lives rarely seen in political reporting. She describes communities that are forsaking the political process to move ahead of government. Though sometimes facing polar opposite political views to her own, Gabrielle learns the power of having a shared community at stake and in doing so, finds an alternative for modern political tribal warriors.


Beyond the Garden Gate: Private Gadens of the Southern Highlands by Jacqui Cameron and Sue Stubbs (Thames & Hudson)

The Southern Highlands of New South Wales is an area renowned for its seasonal beauty and extravagant estates. Behind the hedges and over the fences are grand mature trees, collections of sculptures, treehouses, lakes, walled vegetable gardens, tiered herbaceous borders. Throughout it all is an enveloping sense of community in this magical part of the world. Beyond the Garden Gate reveals not just the hidden gems but also the very personal story behind each garden.


Family by Hetty McKinnon (Macmillan)

Family food isn’t fancy or complex. Its roots are humble, stemming from recipes passed on through generations, and food rituals born from daily cooking. Most importantly, great family recipes are ones that nurture our souls, our hearts and our tummies. Family food is comfort food. In Family, bestselling author Hetty McKinnon shares her approach to modern, uncomplicated, hearty and healthy food that is powered by vegetables. These classic recipes are the multicultural meals she serves around her own family table. Some are heirloom recipes passed on from her mother, others are old family favourites, and many are variations on much-loved comfort food, repackaged with a healthier outlook. This could be a deconstructed falafel salad of crispy roasted chickpeas and fresh greens, drizzled with lemony tahini; an oozy savoury cobbler of summer tomatoes topped with parmesan-cornmeal scones; or an earthy miso brown butter sauce spiked with crispy sage and tossed through your favourite pasta. Finish things off with a simple dessert of sticky banana golden syrup dumplings, an indulgent choc-orange self-saucing pudding, or an addictive lime pie with anzac biscuit crust – sweet treats that are destined to become new family favourites. These irresistible recipes are interlaced with tender family stories from home cooks around the world.

About Bronwyn: I have been a book blogger at Brona’s Books since 2009 and a bookseller (specialising in children’s literature) in Sydney since 2008. Prior to this I was as an Early Childhood teacher for 18 years in country NSW.

I joined the AWW team in 2015 as the History, Memoir, Biography editor. In 2017 I moved to the General Non-fiction page. Recently, I was chosen to be one of the new moderators for The Classics Club.

dragonflyI taught myself to read when I was four by memorising my Dr Seuss books. I haven’t stopped reading since.

You can find me on Twitter @bronasbooks and Litsy @Brona.