Review: The Banksia Bay Beach Shack – Sandie Docker

The Banksia Bay Beach Shack
Sandie Docker
Penguin Random House
Michael Joseph
ISBN: 9781760890353
RRP $32.99

A year is a long time in the memory of a small town. Stories get twisted, truths become warped, history is rewritten.


When Laura discovers an old photo of her grandmother, Lillian, with an intriguing inscription on the back, she heads to the sleepy seaside town of Banksia Bay to learn the truth of Lillian’s past. But when she arrives, Laura finds a community where everyone seems to be hiding something.


Virginia, owner of the iconic Beach Shack café, has kept her past buried for sixty years. As Laura slowly uncovers the tragic fragments of that summer so long ago, Virginia must decide whether to hold on to her secrets or set the truth free.


Young Gigi and Lily come from different worlds but forge an unbreakable bond – the ‘Sisters of Summer’. But in 1961 a chain of events is set off that reaches far into the future. One lie told. One lie to set someone free. One lie that changes the course of so many lives.

Welcome to the Banksia Bay Beach Shack, where first love is found and last chances are taken.

A moving and heartfelt story by the bestselling author of The Kookaburra Creek Café and The Cottage At Rosella Cove.

Praise for Sandie Docker:
‘Docker soars from the absolute heart’ Australian Women’s Weekly

‘The best of the best of heart-wrenching yarns.’ Woman’s Day


My View:
A tender, bittersweet dual time lined narrative that is a big chunk of mystery with a dash romance, that subtlety puts the spotlight on sexism, misogyny and racism in the 60’s whilst it considers if some secrets really are worth revealing.

It is interesting to step back in time to the small coastal town of Banksia Bay and examine the lifestyles and life choices of some of its inhabitants and the impact those choices made in their lives sixty years later from this distance. Have we progressed? Have we changed very much? I think some of the issues spotlighted have just been dressed in contemporary clothes.

Sandie Docker paints with a vibrant palette; her small-town settings are warm, inviting and picturesque, I could clearly envisage the beach, the surf, the scent of Australian summer. Her characters are finely drawn; you will recognise features and mannerisms of people you may know. The way this small community supports each other is times of adversity will warm your heart.

A delightful, bittersweet read.

Post Script: The Widow – Fiona Barton

The Widow

The Widow

Fiona Barton

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Bantam Press

ISBN: 9780593076217




‘The ultimate psychological thriller’ Lisa Gardner


We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.


But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?


Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.


Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.


But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.


Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.



My View:

Hmmmm….this book had me intrigued and asking on every page “did he take baby Bella?” I had to wait a long time for the answer, perhaps a little too long. However the psychological unravelling of the relationship between the accused and his wife, between the journalist and her prey – his wife, and the accused’s justifications for his abhorrent behaviours was addictive.


A great debut, an author to watch out for.


Post Script: Amnesia – Peter Carey

 Not a read for me.

Amnesia; Peter Carey

Amnesia; Peter Carey



Peter Carey

Hamish Hamilton

Penguin Books

ISBN: 9781926428604



It was a spring evening in Washington DC; a chilly autumn morning in Melbourne; it was exactly 22.00 Greenwich Mean Time when a worm entered the computerised control systems of hundreds of Australian prisons and released the locks in many places of incarceration, some of which the hacker could not have known existed.


Because Australian prison security was, in the year 2010, mostly designed and sold by American corporations the worm immediately infected 117 US federal correctional facilities, 1,700 prisons, and over 3,000 county jails. Wherever it went, it traveled underground, in darkness, like a bushfire burning in the roots of trees. Reaching its destinations it announced itself: THE CORPORATION IS UNDER OUR CONTROL. THE ANGEL DECLARES YOU FREE.


Has a young Australian woman declared cyber war on the United States? Or was her Angel Worm intended only to open the prison doors of those unfortunates detained by Australia’s harsh immigration policies? Did America suffer collateral damage? Is she innocent? Can she be saved?


Peter Carey’s masterful new novel, AMNESIA.


My View:

It took me a little time to engage with this narrative – I thought the first few chapters were rather hard work and I felt a bit mislead by the blurb (which purported a tale about espionage and cyber terrorism – when ok – that was in the mix but not really not the main emphasis of the book, not what I thought this book was about) and the recommendation on the cover by Carmen Callil says:”…I laughed and laughed, too.” Sorry I saw this as rather a bleak and down beat narrative, and definitely no sense of humour deployed here, no ray of sunshine at all. So I was confused, this was not the book I was expecting.

The intro was laboured… then it started to flow… a little. But did not engage me.

I think that Carey used this narrative to remark on a few contemporary issues- the power of the press, freedom of speech/print, commentary on the White Australia policy and its wider effect on the community, racial prejudice in general, bullying and relationships. Mostly however I felt cheated; the writing was down beat, the characters weren’t very likable and narrative had no uplifting moments and was not the book I thought I was going to be reading. On the positive side – this is the first book by Carey that I have read where the book reads as the words are typed – I didn’t have to try and work out hidden meanings, metaphors; visual or otherwise- it was what is was – I think, maybe… or did I miss something? This one was not for me.


Post Script – Delivering Death – Julie Kramer

Intelligent, entertaining and a delight to read.

Delivering Death

A Novel

Julie Kramer

Atria Books

Atria/Emily Bestler Books

ISBN: 9781451664669


Be careful what you open . . .

The most appealing mystery heroine since Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, TV reporter Riley Spartz is a star investigative journalist for Channel 3 —and no stranger to the seedier side of her hometown. But when she receives a package of human teeth in the mail at work, she’s quickly embroiled in a homicide investigation that spirals into one of the odder cases the Minneapolis police force has ever seen. Though the cops try to keep certain grisly details quiet, this murder has a strange twist—it seems that the killer wants the crime publicized.

Is it a revenge killing, or something more? Riley’s investigation takes her inside a lucrative identity theft ring that links low-life crooks to white-collar opportunists. While Riley pushes to keep the homicide in the news, her boss is convinced that coverage of the Mall of America’s unique version of a royal wedding is key to the station’s winning ratings. As the stakes continue to rise for her job and her life, Riley must outwit the killer in a trap that could leave yet another person dead.

An irresistible suspense novel that will keep readers turning pages until the stunning conclusion, Delivering Death brings the humor, intrigue, and twists and turns that Kramer’s fans love.


My View:

I really enjoyed this well written novel that marries death, intrigue, humour and office politics in one easy reading experience. It is a great to read a crime mystery that is not centred on shocking the reader with the gory forensic details of death; this clever narrative depends on great writing, a plot with many surprises, interesting characters and a little romance and suspense for good measure.

The story flowed flawlessly; I zipped through the pages eager to reach the conclusion. It is testament to the author’s writing skills that this narrative unfolded so effortlessly. I really enjoyed this read and will look for more books written by Julie Kramer. A great holiday read.