Review: My Father’s Shadow by Jannali Jones, by Jess Gately

Title: My Father’s Shadow Author: Jannali Jones Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller Favourite Part: Just when you think you’ve figured it out, Jones throws a curve ball at you! The Black&Write! Fellowship has produced some cracking reads so of course I couldn’t wait to dig into Jannali Jones’s debut. The blurb for My Father’s Shadow doesn’t give…

Review: The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean, by Shelley Carter

Title: The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone Author: Felicity McLean Genre: Fiction Thriller/Mystery Favourite Part: When a young Tikka re-enacts (unsuccessfully) the Lindy Chamberlain saga as her talent show act — it was a great juxtaposition to the seriousness that was happening regarding the Van Apfel sisters during the climax of the story, and also…

Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte, by Jess Gately

Title: Four Dead Queens Author: Astrid Scholte Publisher: Allen & Unwin (2019) Genre: YA Fantasy Every so often a book comes along where the pacing is so perfect—the tension rises steadily  and the plot races forward—that you find yourself turning the last pages at two o’clock in the morning wondering how ‘just one more chapter’…

Review: The Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale, by Jess Rae

Trigger warning: this review discusses a book that contains themes of abusive relationships, drug-abuse, and sexual assault. WARNING: This is the kind of book that requires a comfy couch, a good hot beverage and maybe some snacks too because once this book gets going you’re not going to want to stop. I saw this book…

Review: Driving Into the Sun by Marcella Polain, by Dylan Dartnell

Title: Driving Into the Sun Author: Marcella Polain Genre: Literary fiction Publisher: Fremantle Press (2019) The novel that took some ten years to write, Marcella Polain is back with her breath-taking work, Driving into the Sun (Fremantle Press, 2019). The story revolves around an eleven-year-old girl named Orla on the precipice of womanhood. She, like most…

Review: Blue in the Red House by Sarah Madden, by Shelley Carter

Title: Blue in the Red House Author: Sarah Madden Genre: Magical Realism & Memoir Favourite Part: When Ms. De Beer and Me-Two meet for the first time Favourite Quote: “She had been poised to triumph, to step out into the world with new resolve and the battle won, but now she was sucked back into…

Review: Flight Risk by Michael McGuire, by Fred Woolhouse

Title: Flight Risk Author: Michael McGuire Genre: spy thriller Favourite Part: Ted finally meets the individuals behind the terror attacks Favourite Quote: “No doubt plenty of people think the work I do is a bit murky, a bit underhand, maybe even lacking in ethics and morality. But there is a certain honesty in my dishonesty”…

Aussie Titles Reviewed in 2018

 2018 was a huge year for reviews with our editors covering a range of genres, themes and authors. Take a trip down memory lane to see all the great Aussie titles we reviewed in 2018!   Defying Doomsday edited by Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench, reviewed by Jemimah Halbert Brewster Grace Beside Me by Sue…

Review: Blakwork by Alison Whittaker, by Jess Rae

Title: Blakwork Author: Alison Whittaker Genre: Poetry Look at that: the fantasy editor is reviewing poetry! Pigs really do fly after all. I actually read a lot of poetry, but my preferred written form is prose so it’s rare for me to talk about poetry on this platform, especially when we have quite a fantastic…

Review: ‘Black Cockatoo’ by Carl Merrison & Hakea Hustler, by Shelley Timms

Title: Black Cockatoo Authors: Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler Genre: Middle grade fiction Favourite part: The inclusion of words from the Jaru language throughout the book – very educational and it added to the authenticity of the story. Favourite quote: “You have his mark, Mia, between your shoulderblades. The dirrarn is your totem. Your jarriny…

Review: Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman, by Jess Gately

Title: Terra Nullius Author: Claire G. Coleman Genre: Fiction/Science-fiction Favourite part: Esperance reflecting on how the Settler’s colonisation methods set the Natives up for failure. Favourite quote: ‘He knew now though, that when you plant bones, nothing grows from them. Nothing but pain.’ For all the fiction in this book, it is the truths that…

Review: Oriental Vagabonds by Richard Regan, by Fred

Title: Oriental Vagabonds: A Tale of a Far East Tramp Author: Richard Regan Genre: Fiction Favourite part: Captain Rowden finds himself entangled with Chinese warlords. Favourite quote: “Aye, life’s tough enough tramping around these waters. But it’ll get harder, much harder if General Tojo and Herr Hitler get their way.” Oriental Vagabonds chronicles the trials…

Review: Rohypnol by Andrew Hutchinson, by Fred

Title: Rohypnol Author: Andrew Hutchinson Genre: Australian fiction Favourite part: The narrator’s revelation in the finale. Favourite quote: ‘The New Punk is not about moving towards your future. It is about your life right now, impatiently standing still.’ Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse, Sexual Predators, Rape, Sexual Assault Rohypnol by Andrew Hutchinson is the story of…

Review: ‘Alfred’s War & ‘Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-Up’

Editor Kate Lomas Glendenning reviews two recent children’s book releases from Magabala Books. Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh, illustrated by Samantha Fry Alfred’s War is the stunning debut from Rachel Bin Salleh and Samantha Fry. The story follows Alfred, an Indigenous veteran who served in The Great War (now known as World War One),…

Review: How To Be Held by Maddie Godfrey, by Jemimah Halbert Brewster

Title: How To Be Held Author: Maddie Godfrey Genre: Poetry Favourite quote: ‘oh kneecaps, you equator of ankle and thigh/you who feel the breeze through torn/windows of my dungarees’ Favourite part: the poems Porcelain, Past Self, Halsey and I Shave Our Heads in the Dark, and Ode to My Kneecaps How To Be Held is the…

Review: Off the Track by Cristy Burne, by Kate Lomas Glendenning

Title: Off the Track Author: Cristy Burne Genre: Australian children’s fiction Favourite quote: ‘Around them leaves rustled and birds sang and he felt alive.’ Set in Western Australia,  the story follows the pre-pubescent Harry as he hikes the Bibbulmun Track with his mum, her friend Ana, and Ana‘s daughter Deepika. Off the Track is an…

Review: Stay Well Soon by Penny Tangey, by Jemimah Halbert Brewster

Title: Stay Well Soon Author: Penny Tangey Genre: Australian Middle-grade fiction Favourite part: The times when Stevie is playing imaginative games and her friends come to join her. Favourite quote: ‘[Mum] can’t stop me going to the toilet, it is against the Geneva Convention.’ Stay Well Soon by Penny Tangey is told through the eyes…

Review: The Sisters’ Song by Louise Allan, by Jess Gately

Title: The Sisters’ Song Author: Louise Allan Genre: Historical Fiction A review by Jess Gately If you’re struggling to understand why gender roles are so persevering, this book might be a good place to start. As more and more mothers admit to feeling judged, Louise Allan’s debut novel can tell us a lot about the…

Review: Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein, by Jess Rae

Title: Small Spaces Author: Sarah Epstein Genre: YA Psychological Thriller Favourite Quote: “But different is okay. Different will feel normal after a while.” I came across this book on one of my many peruses through bookshops. There’s a small sense of accomplishment when you come across a newly-released book that no one else around you…

Review: Bird Country by Claire Aman, by Jemimah Halbert Brewster

Issue 22’s review Bird Country (2017) by Claire Aman A review by Jemimah Halbert Brewster (this review can also be read in the Underground zine, issue 22: Pop!) Bird Country is Claire Aman’s first book, a short story collection featuring works that have previously been published by Black Inc., Griffith Review, Spineless Wonders, Margaret River Press,…

Review: Fire Boy by Sami Shah, by Shelley Timms

Title: Fire Boy Author: Sami Shah Genre: YA Urban Fantasy Favourite Part: The interludes between the regular plot that describe the destruction and pain Djinns cause to civilians. Sounds dark, but it gave more insight into the mythology surrounding them! Favourite quote: “The only thing more powerful than a horny djinn is a girl who…

Review: Honey Farm Dreaming by Anna Featherstone, by Jemimah Halbert Brewster

Title: Honey Farm Dreaming Author: Anna Featherstone Genre: memoir Themes: Australian farm life, sustainability, agriculture, animal husbandry, humour, learning Favourite quote, p. 167: “There’s no chooks or compost within a concrete mile and I can’t believe how much I care. I wonder how tower-dwellers exist and connect, when their feet can’t touch the ground; when…

Review: Stone Circle by Kate Murdoch, by Shelley Timms

Title: Stone Circle Author: Kate Murdoch Genre: Historical Fantasy Favourite part: The scenes that involved Antonius learning how to transform, and learning about the extent of his powers. Favourite quote: “A third image on the next page was an eagle, its coal-black wings extended, its beak a noble flash of gold. Traces of the coloured…

Review: Songs That Sound Like Blood by Jared Thomas, Jess Gately

Title: Songs That Sound Like Blood Genre: New Adult Fiction Themes: Coming of Age, Change, Coming Out, Racism Favourite quote: “[Dad] always said that people are supposed to move, that it recharges and calms us down. He explained that our ancestors formed our country perfectly to give us everything we needed. Water and bush tucker were…

Review: Small Farm Success Australia, by Jemimah Halbert Brewster

Title: Small Farm Success Australia Authors: Anna Featherstone & Andrew Campbell Genre: Non-fiction Favourite part: The case study of the farmer in Tasmania who rents tiny plots of land to farm organic rhubarb Favourite quote: ‘Though wineries sell romance to customers, we’re not a romantic industry. We’re in agriculture and you need a strong business…

Review: Grace Beside Me by Sue McPherson, review by Kate Lomas Glendenning

Caution: strong language quoted in this article – not recommended for readers under 16 years of age Title: Grace Beside Me Author: Sue McPherson Genre: Young Adult Favourite part: When Fuzzy explains Gran’s meticulous rules on how to hang out the washing Favourite quote: “I never enjoyed playing with dolls as a child so I wasn’t…

Review: Defying Doomsday, by Jemimah Halbert

Defying Doomsday is a Pozible-funded anthology of short stories published by the indie publishing house Twelfth Planet Press. Twelfth Planet is an organisation that seeks to ‘interrogate, commentate, inspire or provoke thought’, and to ‘raise the awareness of underrepresented voices in science fiction, fantasy, horror and… crime’. They have certainly achieved that with this anthology. Defying…

Australian titles reviewed in 2017!

Below are all the Australian titles reviewed by Underground Writers in 2017!     The Other Woman by Kylie Jones, reviewed by Kate, Shelley, and Jess Rae That Eye, the Sky by Tim Winton, reviewed by Kate Lomas Glendenning Rubik by Elizabeth Tan, reviewed by Jess Gately Portable Curiosities by Julie Koh, reviewed by Jemimah…

Review: My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier, reviewed by Jess Rae

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier A review by Jess Rae 17-year-old Che only wants 4 things: to go back home to Australia, to be allowed to spar, to get a girlfriend and most importantly to keep his little sister Rosa under control. Angelic, intelligent and only 10, Rosa seems like the perfect, talented little…

Review: ‘Women of a Certain Age’, reviewed by Shelley Timms

Women of a Certain Age is a collection of 15 vastly different, but all beautifully written stories about what it’s like to be “woman on the other side of 40, 50, 60 and 70.” Masterfully collated by editors Jodie Moffat, Maria Scoda and Susan Laura Sullivan, the book features stories from both the past and…

Review: Barking Dogs by Rebekah Clarkson, reviewed by Kate Lomas Glendenning

Barking Dogs is Rebekah Clarkson’s debut novel, which reveals a promising start to Clarkson’s career as a writer. Barking Dogs is a series of connected short stories, told from various perspectives of residents within a new housing estate in the South Australian town of Mount Barker. Clarkson’s plot is held to great promise with a…

Review: Bad to Worse by Robert Edeson, reviewed by Jess Gately

Winner of the T.A.G. Hungerford Award, Robert Edeson’s style of fiction is unlike anything I’ve ever read. His latest book, Bad to Worse, is the story of a vendetta that dates back to the old American West. When a pilot insists that the crash of his plane is the result of a collision with an…

Review: Portable Curiosities by Julie Koh, reviewed by Jemimah Halbert

July’s Review is here! Portable Curiosities by Julie Koh A review by Editor-in-Chief Jemimah Halbert Julie Koh’s first full-length collection of short stories, Portable Curiosities, is a strange journey through an unsettling landscape of curious characters in familiar but altered settings. A young girl’s third eye, located in her navel, sees the undetectable and impolite…