Book reviews: July 2019

By: Claire Smith

MCD editor Claire Smith takes a look at some of the latest titles to hit the bookshelves

Moonlight Sonata

Eileen Merriman


RRP $38


Set in a family bach at an annual New Year family get-together, Molly is dreading spending time with her mother, but she is excited for her son to spend time with his cousins – and looking forward to seeing her brothers… Joe in particular.

This bittersweet story of love and secrets is the fourth novel for this New Zealand writer. Fast-paced and intense, the tale centres on a rarely tackled subject: incest.

Here it is not a case of sexual abuse, but rather a moving story that explores attraction between consenting adults. In a similar way to Jodi Picoult, Merriman homes in on an ethical dilemma, showing the very real emotions and complications that are part of being human.




Suzanne Ashmore

Mary Egan Publishing

RRP $30


Meltwater is an autobiographic novel about the author’s childhood and the multiple personality disorder that was its consequence. Ashmore explains that one of the reasons she wrote the book was to humanise the condition – no Hollywood hype, simply a story about an ordinary person coping with extraordinary circumstances in a marvellously creative way, in order to survive.

"My writing began as a cathartic endeavour, but I soon realised it offered a significant and fascinating insight into a challenging, multi-layered life, and a ‘voice’ for my alter-parts, silenced too long by abuse and trauma." This outstanding book is homage to the power of storytelling, and of an incredible woman’s journey to find her ‘self’.





Blake Crouch


RRP $34.99


What if someone could rewrite your entire life? "My son has been erased" are the last words a woman tells Barry Sutton before she leaps from a Manhattan rooftop. Deeply unnerved, Barry begins to investigate her death, only to learn this wasn’t an isolated case.

All across the country, people are waking up to lives different than the ones they fell asleep to. Are they suffering from False Memory Syndrome, a mysterious new disease that afflicts people with vivid memories of a life they never lived?

Or is something far more sinister behind the fracturing of reality all around him? A fascinating exploration of memory and a gripping read.




The Brain – A User’s Manual

Marco Magrini

Allen & Unwin

RRP $27.99


Cutting through the noise of modern pop psychology, The Brain: A User’s Manual is a refreshingly factual approach to self-help. With a deft style and wry humour, Magrini offers tips on everything from maximising productivity to retaining memory and boosting your mood.

An accessible guide to the machine you use the most, this book deconstructs the brain into its constituent parts and shows you both how they function and how to maintain them for a longer life.

Magrini explains all you need to know about what is ceaselessly happening in your head – from how the brain can possibly make 38 million billion calculations per second, to why love is an entirely neuronal experience.



Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel Quiz Book

Lonely Planet

RRP $16.99


Pit your worldly wits against family and friends – or just challenge yourself – with this book, which will help while away the hours on a long journey. "This book is billed as a ‘travel’ quiz, but really it’s an ‘everything’ quiz," writes editor Joe Fullman in his Introduction.

"After all, travel is about experiencing all the world has to offer, so we’ve tried to cram as much of the planet into these pages as we can. You’ll be tested on everything from capitals to currencies, tallest buildings to longest rivers, national dishes to international airports, ancient empires to modern art galleries, the deepest lakes to the biggest oceans, and even outer space – perhaps the greatest travel adventure of all.

Be in to win a copy of Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travel Quiz Book. Enter here before 26 July, 2019



Abigail and the Birth of the Sun

Matthew Cunningham, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins

Picture Puffin

RRP $19.99


Abigail is a curious little girl. She likes to discover the answers to really BIG questions. One night, she thinks of a question SO BIG she can’t sleep until she knows the answer.

To help her, Abigail’s Daddy invites her on a magical journey through time and space. Together they explore the birth of all living things.

By the next morning, Abigail has thought of another big question! A bright and beautiful exploration of the big bang theory and the birth of our solar system for young children, all wrapped up in a bedtime story.

A gorgeous introduction to astrophysics and a great space-themed book for celebrating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.



Roderick and the Wizard of Endor

Fiona McQueen

Tross Publishing

RRP $30


Roderick, a small furry animal, gazes out from his home on the side of a mountain. Not far below, a tiny figure is swept from the path by the wind – it’s Pepin the squirrel. Roderick goes to Pepin's rescue, but returns to find his home destroyed.

The pair then face a series of adventures and encounters – including helping Percy, an invisible man who tells them he was lured by leprechaun gold into another dimension and became trapped there by enchantment.

Roderick and Pepin are transported into a mysterious world of tree spirits, elves, and other magical beings. Only the Wizard of Endor can break the spell that binds Percy. With strong environmental themes alluding to climate change, this wonderful story will appeal to a wide range of young readers.



Six Minutes

Petronella McGovern

Allen & Unwin



How can a child disappear from under the care of four playgroup mums? One Thursday morning, Lexie Parker dashes to the shop for biscuits, leaving Bella in the safe care of the other mums in the playgroup. Six minutes later, Bella is gone.

Police and media descend on the tiny village of Merrigang on the edge of Canberra. As the investigation continues, relationships start to fracture, online hate messages target Lexie, and the community is engulfed by fear.

Is Bella’s disappearance connected to the angry protests at Parliament House? What secrets are the parents hiding? And why does a local teacher keep a photo of Bella in his lounge room? This page-turner of a novel will keep you guessing to the very last twist.

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