10 Australian Book Bloggers to Follow

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There seems to be a great many writers blogging online.  But how can we find them.  They seem to be hidden away in secret places online and are very hard to unearth.

A big list of people with a little review of why you might want to read them.  Writers who are reviewing work, blogging about literature and contributing to the online writing dialogue.

James Bradley, CITY OF TONGUES



This House of Grief, Helen Garner

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THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF by Helen Garner.

True Australian Crime.

Recommended for 18 and over. Not recommended for pregnant women.

helen garner review, this house of grief review, reviews, meghan brewster reviews, book reviews, australian writers reviewed, Australian literature review, aussie writers, book review, book reviews, book review blogsThis House of Grief is a close observation of an Australian murder trial; the trial of a father accused of drowning his three sons on Father’s Day. Set in Melbourne, Victoria, Robert Farquharson was accused and tried of drowning his three sons by driving a car into a dam and fleeing the scene.

To put it lightly, this story is harrowing. Garner interweaves the trail with new reports and her own life at the time of the murder with the events that lead up to the fatal incident. The question that hangs over the entire telling, did he do it?

I purchased my copy of THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF at the Sydney Writers Festival after Helen Garner gave an incredible address at the Recital Hall. There she spoke of HOW WE WRITE ABOUT DARKNESS.Sitting in the Angel Place recital hall, to a full crowd of intrigued and excited fans, Helen Gardner was an incredible force. Her words held us all, as we leant forward, craning for more. It was a wonderful night and I was abe to get my book signed.

The book spans almost seven years in which the court case became HELEN GARNER‘s obsession. She was present in the courtroom every day of Farquharson’s trial and the subsequent retrial, along with countless journalists and the families of both the accused and his former wife. Garner writes not only about the facts of the case as they are presented but also the reactions from the room, the mood and then energy as it rose and feel with the questions.

Garner not only documents the presentation of the evidence and the intimacy of proceedings but allows her own perception and experience to colour the telling. She attempts to ekk out the truth while leaving space for the reader to make their own judgements. Garner turns the story around in her head, looking at it from all angles, doubting her certainty at every turn.

Garner has an acute ability to read people and dissect their mannerisms, body language, and presence. She is an observer in the purest form, seeking out both sides of the argument, wanted to extract the truth. Her observations are so accurate it is exciting. Their is an intimacy found within the mundane that makes this book so gripping.

It is the story of a family breaking apart. It is a study of the Australian legal system.

THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF was published in 2014 by TEXT PUBLISHING and is Garner’s fifth work of non-fiction.

After a six year break in publishing, she is back. I finished This House of Grief in a week. I cried in public and I took it to the bathroom with me because I simply couldn’t put it down.

As an emerging writer, I think it’s interesting to know Helen Garner does not have a website. She isn’t on Facebook or Instagram and she doesn’t appear to use Twitter.  She does not engage in social media at all. Her work and her following speak for themselves. It is easy to get caught up in the hype and branding of being a writer. But Garner is a reminder that creating quality work will be enough.

She is an incredible writer. Her description and observations of people left me in awe, with beautiful metaphors such as

…as Morrissey took Farquharson by the hand drew him into the bombed-out rubble of the story, aiming a hose at every smoking point of doubt, my heart softened again towards the awkward, unhappy figure on the stand.

When This House of Grief was released it was shortlisted for seven writing awards in Australia, winning the Ned Kelly Awards for Crime Writing for Best True Crime. Helen Garner’s work has taught me to appreciate clarity, brevity, and truth.

KILL YOUR DARLINGS review of Helen Garner’s This House of Grief.

Helen Garner PODCAST from the 2015 Sydney Writers Festival, How We Write About Darkness.

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins

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THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train has been on my reading list since it was published in January of this year.  The book has been likened to GONE GIRL, and was discussed with great enthusiasm at the Emerging Writers Festival in May.  Everyone seems to be talking about it.  So did this humble little fiction from the UK live up to the hype?

It’s complicated.

good fiction books to read, good books, book blogs, books, book reviews, book review blogs, good fiction books, girl on a train, the girl on the train, paula hawkins, thriller booksMeet Rachel.  Rachel is struggling to cope with the end of her marriage, stuck in the monotony of her life and consumed with thoughts and plans about alcohol.  To fill time on her daily commute, Rachel has become caught up in the lives of a seemingly ideal couple, who’s house and backyard she can see from the train.  Each day she passes the house and projects onto them the ideal life that is out of her reach.

Then one day she witnesses something that shocks her.  As the secret eats away at her, she is desperate to tell somebody what she witnessed.  She decides to act, setting off a chain of events that alter the course of many lives.

The complexity of the plotting is a gem.  The Girl on the Train is told through multiple first person narration.

In many ways, the telling is quite sophisticated.  This book is a wonderful lesson for any Emerging Writer, who may be over explaining their work.  Paula Hawkins trusts her readers to figure a lot out on their own.  It wasn’t so much a twist at the end as a slow revealing of the truth.  As time slips back and forth between 2012 and 2013, characters and events  slowly reveal themselves, as the reader pieces the plot together.

The reader remains engaged as they have to actively figure out the story.  In doing so, I realised how many assumptions I made about many characters in the absence of facts.  It’s an interesting experiment in the things we make up about someone; the ways in which someone’s outward appearance directly influences our impression of their inward life. Continue reading

The World Without Us, Mireille Juchau

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THE WORLD WITHOUT US by Mireille Juchau

I knew nothing about The World Without Us when I first picked it up.  To be honest, judging from the cover, I thought it was going to be a science fiction novel.  I had just finished reading James Bradley’s novel CLADE and thought The World Without Us looked very similar.

I had not read a review on the novel or ever heard of the author, Mireille Juchau.  It was a funny choice, but I was stuck in Sydney for a week without a book and just took a chance.  I’m so glad I did. Continue reading

The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion

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THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion

By the time I came to read THE ROSIE PROJECT, its reputation was monumental.  I knew it was a romantic comedy.  I had already heard the premise of the novel.  I knew lots of people loved it.  I felt like I had already read it.  I wondered if knowing so much about the novel would ruin it all, but really, I have to say it didn’t.  I loved it.

reviews, meghan brewster reviews, book reviews, australian writers reviewed, Australian literature review, aussie writers, book review, the rosie projectIn terms of reviews, there isn’t much left to say about THE ROSIE PROJECT, and I certainly feel like I am coming to the book very late.  But I still wanted to read it.  It’s famous and Australian and had a great reputation.

In case, on the off chance you have heard nothing about The Rosie Project, here is a little blurb.  Don Tillman is an Australian scientist who has set his mind to finding a wife.  With few friends and a terrible dating record, Don sets about formatting a wife questionnaire to find a most suitable wife.  He’s a little special when it comes to engaging with others, and if you were ever a teacher like me you will be thinking Aspergers before the end of the first paragraph.

His plans are set off course when he meets Rosie, who doesn’t fit many of Tillman’s criteria, but find her way into his life regardless.  As a genetic scientist, Don is in a position to help Rosie look for her genetic father.

Things go well and then things go badly.  It’s obvious from their first date that these two will get together, but the journey there really is worth the read. Continue reading

Reasons to Never use a Kindle

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The other day I was running late to meet a friend for coffee.  I had been up late drinking cafe patron with my sister the night before and had spent most of the morning making a deal with any god who will listen if I could just survive this day.

With a glass of Berroca in one hand and a half stuffed hand bag in the other I threw myself down at the table and apologised profusely.   She took one look at me and said, with the wisdom of a sober woman, ‘You should have just cancelled, I would have.’

She then proceeded to tell me I looked like shit.  Dam it!  I lay my heavy skull down on the table, and resigned to the fact that I was there now. Continue reading

The Books That Changed My Life

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The Emerging Writer

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In the Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatjie.  

16/17 years old.  Year 12 English class  

The first sentence of every novel should be: Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human.

I studied this book in year twelve with a great group of girls in a small advanced English class.  I loved reading it and knew my friends where enjoying it as well. It was the first book I read all the way through from our high school syllabus and the only one can remember ten years later.  We would skip class if my friend or I had not been able to do the homework and read up to the right section – so as not to have the plot spoiled by our English teacher.

The feeling of this book, reading it like a film and sorting out the delicate description in my mind – has stayed with me forever.  I never looked at an avocado the same after reading about its slivered half moons.


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Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.  

18 Years old.  First Year at Art School 

Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach.

I know sighting an Ayn Rand novel in a list of books that changed you life is somewhat of a risk, but I could not avoid the impact it has had on me.  This book is so special to me, and not because of the political philosophies or the story line, though I did find it facinating and engrossing to read.  But it was the first present my now Fiance gave me.  At the time we knew nothing about Randian Philosophies or Objectivism.  He brought himself a copy, and he posted one to me while I was on holidays with my family.  Every night before we went to sleep we were able to read it to each other over the phone.  It is one of my happiest memories I have, and the first time as an adult I felt the great joy of sitting still and listening to a story read out aloud.


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Game of Thrones, by George R R Martin.  

27 / 28 Years old.  Traveling the world

I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.

It took over nine months to read this series out loud with my fiance.  We started in Bali, while we were away for three months, and then on the plan coming home, and in resturants around Sydney and then Merimbula.  We read it while one of use cooked or exercised or stretched or did their nails ( that was just me – and im not that great at the nail thing still)


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The Little Red Writing Book, by Mark Tredinnick.  

21 years old.  Dreaming of writing   

The love I wrote (this book) from is my love for the act of writing itself, which is my life now—for the labour of building one good and shapely sentence after another and trusting it to hold you up even as you walk across it.

This book was given to me by my best friend on my 21st birthday.  It was the first time someone had given me a gesture of encouragement towards writing.  Her gift said ‘You should be a writer, you could do it’.  She had thought so much about helping my career that she had found this book, brought it for me and writen in the cover.  It is my favourite book inscription and one day, I hope others will learn just how important it is to give books as gifts, with a blessing or a message of love and support.


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The Wonky Donkey, Graig Smith,

28 years old.  Waiting with my nephew for his sister to be born

He only had three legs and one eye and he liked to listen to country music,  He was a honky tonky, winky wonky donky…’

I read this book at exactly the right time in exactly the right place for it to be unforgettable – right when I had started to take a life too seriously.  My sisters had both gone into labour the same evening in January this year.  My mum had gone over to care for one of them and I was looking after my others sisters eldest and only other child.  It was really late at night, and the excitement and tension of waiting for a baby to be born was keeping us both up.  He was only 2 at the time, but he could feel something changing.  He kept asking me when his brother was going to arrive.    We lay under the covers of my bed with a torch, waiting for babies to be born – this book cracked us both up for ages – reading it over and over again until he finally feel asleep.

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