Nonfiction Readers Challenge: Bowraville by Dan Box

Nonfictionchallenge2020

Screenshot_20200130_091042Since signing up to the Nonfiction Readers Challenge I’m inspired to read a few more nonfiction books this year. I chose to do the Nonfiction Nipper, which was to read 3 books from any category. I’ve got quite a few nonfiction books lined up to read this year, so I’m positive I’ll be able to move up to the next level.

My first book is something very different for me. Bowraville by Dan Box is a true crime novel, that is also, in my opinion part memoir.

I listened to the audiobook of this which is read by Dan Box, something I prefer when listening to a memoir as I think they can really get across the emotions and messages they are trying to convey.

This is just one terrible story of injustice that has happened in Australia and to the Aboriginal people. Three children murdered in a space of 5 months and now 29 years later their families have never had justice.

We hear about the officers who were first approached when each child went missing and how the families were told, “They’ve probably gone walkabout”. One of these children was 4 years old! I was disgusted by the behaviour of the police at the beginning of these events and then completely disbelieving of the way the cases were handled once they were deemed something more sinister. The local police, who were in no way up to handling a missing person case let alone a murder case, or serial murders, were given very little help from the authorities in the city.

Dan tells an interesting story that made me angry at the way aboriginal people were and are treated in the event of a crime. The racism in the town was just as disappointing and I’m baffled how people think the way they do.

Sometimes the story felt a bit repetitive, but I think that was Dan Box’s way of reiterating the injustice of these cases and the injustices of the law.

A worthwhile read if you are interested in true crime and the way the law doesn’t always work.

A-Z Author Challenge – X

 

A-Z Author Challenge post #2

X is a hard letter to find an author for, luckily they are a bit lenient and you can use a name with X in. So I picked Alix E. Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

It was the cover and the title that drew me to this book without even knowing what it was about. Then I saw that author Tabitha Bird was reading it and she said it was good, so I thought I’d give it a go, it sounded different in a magical kind of way, and that interested me. Magic is something we need more of in this crazy world.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is indeed about magic and believing in the unbelievable, it’s about adventure, hope, love, loss and good and evil.

I will say that it took me a while to be completely captured by this novel, it wasn’t that I wasn’t enjoying it per se, but I just couldn’t really grasp where it was leading me. It wasn’t until about page 130ish that it all started to come together and I began to be hooked on finding out what magic was in these pages.

At first, we are introduced to January, a young girl of odd colouring, a coppery-red colour, who doesn’t fit into society’s norms, nor have the right colour skin for society as it was in the early 1900s. She is talking about Doors with a capital D, trying to explain them to us, her readers. We meet her benefactor, a Mr Locke who doesn’t really seem as good as she seems to think he is at the beginning of the story. We also hear of her father, Julian or Yule Ian, who is always off on quests for Mr Locke and barely sees his daughter.

Interspersed with January’s tale is another tale written in the form of a book, this I think is where I became a bit lost and wondered how it was all going to come together. But when it did become clear, I was compelled to keep reading.

January does a great deal of growing up in this story, as things happen to her and she starts to uncover the truth about who she is and who her parents were and especially who Mr Locke and he society are, things begin to go wildly out of control for her and so begins an adventure of great proportions as she goes on the run for her life and simultaneously hunts for the truth.

The Doors are a wonderful concept, that there are fissures, thin places that sometimes people find and discover a doorway leading to all manner of worlds, though not all of them are good places to visit. I really love this and so want to believe that they do exist, maybe from growing up reading first Enid Blyton’s books, especially The Enchanted Woods and The Faraway tree and then onto Narnia and E.S. Nesbitt’s books as well as of course The Wizard of OZ and Alice in Wonderland, I’ve retained that childhood belief in magic and other worlds.

This is a unique novel that I highly enjoyed once it all came together.

New Release Book Review: Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard

IMG_20191024_203440I’m feeling extremely emotional as I’m writing this review, I’ve just finished Invisible Boys and what an incredible novel it was. From the beginning Charlie, Zeke and Hammer grabbed hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go. I read 70% of this novel in one sitting; I was up until 1.30am and the only reason I put it down was because I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open. I picked it straight up again 5 hours later and was mightily upset that I had to go to work without finishing it. It stayed in my mind all day, I couldn’t wait to get home to finish the journey these 3 guys had taken me on.

I think this is an important novel that everyone should read, gay or straight, old or young. I’m glad Holden Sheppard survived his journey to write this novel, I hope it helps give a voice to those who feel like they don’t have one – the Invisible ones.

This is a coming of age story, a coming-out story, a story of discovering who you are, or at least the start of discovering who you are.

It brings with it so many emotions, good and bad. It made me angry and disappointed at the adults who should have known better, especially the parents who should have supported their children regardless of their sexuality. It made me mad at the kids who were so cruel to Charlie, especially his so-called two best friends and bandmates. It made me hopeful when some of the kids stood up for and by Charlie. It made me sad that one or more of the characters couldn’t accept who he was. But it ended with hope.

I really felt for Charlie who is ‘outed’ by an unhappy and vicious woman, but his outing is the catalyst for everything that happens to Zeke and Hammer and Matt. Whilst Charlie, Zeke, and Hammer held me hostage to their story, it was Matt, in the end, that made me cry.

The parents, school staff and the people in this small town didn’t deserve these young men. They were small-minded, ignorant and bigoted, not all, but most and I will never understand this mentality. I consider myself lucky in that when I was growing up, being gay was never an issue. I don’t remember hearing any derogatory remarks about homosexuality and in this way, I formed no biases in my thinking. I’ve never thought that there was anything wrong or strange in any way about people who are gay and for this I’m thankful as I have some wonderful friends who I may have missed out on and my life would be lacking because of it.

I’ve gone off tangent slightly, but this novel really brings it home how awful and ignorant people can be and how we really need to be open to accepting people for who they are. We also need to  educate those who are in need of educating.

A wonderful novel that I recommend to everyone, I can see why this won the Hungerford Award.

 

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Book Review: Making Her Mark by Renee Dahlia

making her markI read Merindah Park (Book 1 Merindah Park) back in April and really enjoyed it, so I was keen to revisit the Bassett family and the world of horseracing. Book 2 Making Her Mark is Rachel’s story, Rachel is a female jockey who has to fight for every ride due to ongoing sexism within the racing industry. This is an industry where things are improving and as Renee explains, one of the few where male and female riders are considered equal on the field, just not always with owners and trainers.

Rachel has many emotional issues to deal with throughout this novel, some present issues and some from when she was 16 back in her hometown that she’s never really dealt with, but to move forward, she will have to do just that. Rachel’s sexuality is part of the issue she has never dealt with, and while she completely accepts who she is now, there’s part of her that can’t get over the way she was treated as a teenager by small-town minds.

Rachel reconnects with an old school friend Allira and her brother Jacob, and the sparks fly between Rachel and Jacob immediately. Jacob is an AFL player who is hot, strong and stubborn. Both fight the connection they feel towards each other until they can’t fight it anymore. It is definitely not a smooth journey to happiness for these two and there are plenty of ups, downs, misunderstandings, and changing of minds (especially on Rachel’s part). The journey may not be smooth, but it is most definitely hot and steamy.

There is an element of intrigue in this storyline with a potential punting scheme that Jacob asks Rachel to look into on behalf of his teammates. Once again Renee Dahlia does a great job of educating me about the ins and outs of the horse racing industry and I have great respect for the work that jockey’s put into their career.

Thanks to NetGalley and Escape Publishing for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: This Red Earth by Kim Kelly

I first read This Red Earth back in 2017 and it was a definite 5-star read. I always like to have an audiobook going in the car, so when I saw Kim Kelly’s books were available on my library app, I thought it was time to revisit her stories. I’m very fussy about my narrators, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this in the past, but the two narrators for This Red Earth did an absolutely fabulous job of capturing the characters of Gordon (Gordie) and Bernadette (Bernie).

 

This Red Earth is a fabulous story full of love, drama, intrigue, and the beautiful and hard land that is Australia. I fell in love with the characters in this story the first time I read it, and I fell in love with them again whilst listening to it this go-round. I lived through the good, the bad and the terrible times with them as if I were there. Once again Kim Kelly draws us in and lets us live the history of this land and its people.

We travel through the outback of NSW to sheep stations where we meet some wonderful characters and learn how important community and the CWA were in those times. We travel to New Guinea with Gordie who goes there to do a job drilling for petroleum and gets caught up in the Japanese invasion during the Second World War. I know very little about this time, but Kim Kelly picked me up and plonked me on this island in the middle of chaos, it was a terrible time, the whole World War two and all wars before and after were terrible and it’s a sad thing that nothing has ever really been learnt from it when it comes to the people in power.

Another aspect of Australian history I know little about is the incarceration of immigrants during the war. I am astonished, (well actually, I’m not, because the same thing happens today on a much larger and more terrible scale with asylum seekers and the Australian government), at the way people who had been living a peaceful life, who had come to Australia to start a new life, often because of persecution in their own country, were thrown in concentration prisons as enemies of the country.

Bernie and Gordie were strong characters who fought for the rights of others and for themselves. Their relationship was one that endured so many bumps (often mountains, not bumps), and I was fearful at times that one or the other of them might not make it through.

This is an emotional read, but an inspiring read of courage and hope and perseverance.

I highly recommend this novel and can’t wait to read or listen another Kim Kelly story.

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Book Bingo Round 20

I’m a bit late with my book Bingo post this fortnight as I was away down at Margaret River from last Wednesday at a creativity retreat and was sick for nearly a week before that so I wasn’t able to plan ahead. Slack I know, but these things happen.

So this fortnight I chose the square Themes of Culture. And I picked the book The Kabul Peace House by Mark Isaacs. This is a story of hope and resilience in Afghanistan, a country constantly under siege from within and without.

This was an eye opening read which caused many emotions from sadness, anger, joy, hope, disbelief and much more. One man trying to make a difference, to bring about peace through drawing together young people from the different Afghan ethnic groups and having them work and live together, to recognise their sameness rather than their differences. It is written wih a mix of observations, dialogues with many of the young people and Insaan, the man making this possible, along with facts and figures that really make you wonder what our world is coming to.

Until next fortnight (I will be on time next time) happy reading.