In these uncertain times, we can all find solace in reading. Right now, like many of you, I’m socially distancing with my family. Lucky we still have the interwebs and I get to do this February and March round up for you all.

Last round-up I said I was hoping to read more reviews of Perth writer Emily Paull’s debut short story collection Well Behaved Woman and thanks to Nadia L King and Reading Matters I did just that.

In her review, Nadia found the book hard to put down. A feast of storytelling, she says. The stories explore themes including sexuality, power, mental health, aging, death, autonomy and femininity. “I enjoyed the feelings of intimacy, vulnerability and uneasiness that came with each of the stories as if they were whispered confidences told in the quiet of the night,’ writes Nadia. Thanks for your thoughtful review Nadia (and congratulations on the launch of your first picture book, Claire Malone Changes the World.)

The second review comes from Kim Forrester at Reading Matters who comments that ‘It’s hard to believe that Well-Behaved Woman is a debut because the writing — in the tone, the prose style and the range of subjects covered — feels so accomplished. There are some real gems in this book and it will be interesting to see what Paull comes up with next. She’s definitely a talent to watch.’ Like Kim, I too will be very interested to read Emily’s next offering.

This review of Bjelke Blues: Stories of Repression and Resistance in Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland 1968–1987 from Theresa Smith  has piqued my interested in a setting and time I’m usually not drawn to reading about. Especially when she writes ‘You know how sometimes you read a book and you need to constantly remind yourself that it’s fiction? Well, with this one, I had to constantly remind myself that it WASN’T fiction.’  Theresa comments ‘This is the sort of stuff that you read about under police states; life in the USSR during the Cold War,’ says Theresa, ‘but no, this was Queensland from 1968 through to 1987. A democratic state within a democratic country.’ Intrigued – onto my tbr pile it goes!

Whispering Gums delivers yet another thoughtful piece with this review of The Near and The Far: More Stories from the Asia-Pacific region, Vol. 2 edited by David Carlin and Francesca Rendle-Short. I enjoyed reading the break-down of the short stories in the review, but I particularly appreciated all the additional detail Whispering Gums gives the reader about the book. Such as the project stems from a project called Wrice (Writers Immersion and Cultural Exchange), an intercultural and intergenerational program which “brings together Australian and Asia-Pacific writers for face-to-face collaborative residencies in Asia and Australia”. Definitely a review to read.

Here Until August by Josephine Rowe is reviewed by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest who comments that ‘the most remarkable feature of this collection is the depth and complexity of the interwoven themes. Each story challenges the reader to consider how they might feel in a similar situation.’  She also states ‘There’s a carefulness about Rowe’s writing – every word seems considered. There’s nothing overdone, and yet her descriptions are lush’

Rebecca Bowyer’s Reviews on Goodreads reviews Blackbirds Singby Aiki Flinthart. She adored the book, which fits in here despite being a novel because technically it is a cycle of short stories all told from the POV of  a different women. The characters narrate one and only one section – no repetitions. Rebecca says this choice is ‘fascinating.’ The review recommends this book if you love conversational historical fiction, pointing out the story ‘really gets into the day-to-day details – and very well researched details they are, too!’

In addition Cass Moriarty reviews the latest issue of Griffith Review – 67 Matters of Trust, declaring the volume to be “a cornucopia of sharp, intellectual and insightful reading’. Heavy on non-fiction, essay and reportage, this edition considers the issue of trust on a bureaucratic and personal level. As usual, Cass gives her readers a great review.

Calzean on Goodreads says Lucky Ticket by Joey Bui is not afraid to give voices to a wide range of characters and locations. They found the stories featuring Vietnamese the most powerful. Long-listed for the 2020 Stella prize, a worthy book for today’s reader says Calzean.

Sarah Rose found Heroines: An Anthology of Short Fiction & Poetry – Volume 2 to be an ‘artfully curated collection of prose, poetry, and mythologies… an evocative, compelling collection of feminist writing and fairy tales reborn.’

If you are a Jackie French fan,  like Ashleigh from The Book Muse, you probably wait for the author’s short story release – a Christmas story from her Miss Lilly book which takes place between the main books.a few months after her main book comes out.  Ashleigh clearly enjoys these seasonal treats and says ‘These books give women a voice in these histories, allowing them to speak about what they.’

In case anyone is wondering – I chose A Constant Hum by Alice Bishop for my book club’s short stories pick. Unfortunately we won’t be meeting up in person any time soon, but hopefully we’ll meet online. But for now, I’m  trying to ‘home school’  my kids – though I use the term very loosely. And on a not at all related note, I’m wondering if wine at 10am on a weekday is acceptable…

Take care everyone xx