Review: Wearing Paper Dresses – Anne Brinsden


Anne Brinsden

Pan Macmillan Australia

RRP $32.99


You can talk about living in the Mallee. And you can talk about a Mallee tree. And you can talk about the Mallee itself: a land and a place full of red sand and short stubby trees. Silent skies. The undulating scorch of summer plains. Quiet, on the surface of things.


But Elise wasn’t from the Mallee, and she knew nothing of its ways.


Discover the world of a small homestead perched on the sunburnt farmland of northern Victoria. Meet Elise, whose urbane 1950s glamour is rudely transplanted to the pragmatic red soil of the Mallee when her husband returns to work the family farm. But you cannot uproot a plant and expect it to thrive. And so it is with Elise. Her meringues don’t impress the shearers, the locals scoff at her Paris fashions, her husband works all day in the back paddock, and the drought kills everything but the geraniums she despises.


As their mother withdraws more and more into herself, her spirited, tearaway daughters, Marjorie and Ruby, wild as weeds, are left to raise themselves as best they can. Until tragedy strikes, and Marjorie flees to the city determined to leave her family behind. And there she stays, leading a very different life, until the boy she loves draws her back to the land she can’t forget…


‘In the same vein as Rosalie Ham, Brinsden weaves a compelling story of country Australia with all its stigma, controversy and beauty.’ Fleur McDonald



As far back as Anne can remember she has loved stories. Mostly, she would read them. But if there were no stories to read, she would make up her own. She lives in the western suburbs of Melbourne now with a couple of nice humans, an unbalanced but mostly nice cat and a family of magpies. But she lived all of her childhood in the Mallee in northern Victoria before heading for the city and a career as a teacher. She received the 2017 Albury Write Around the Murray short story competition, judged and presented by Bruce Pascoe; and was highly commended in the 2018 Williamstown Literary Festival short story competition. Wearing Paper Dresses is her first novel. Find out more at:


My View:

This is by far one of the stand out reads of 2019 and deservedly will find a place on my “Best of 2019 “reads.


This book evokes country Australia, small town, impoverished, drought struck Australia. It is all hard angles and tough decisions. It is mesmerising. It is relatable. It is real.  It is mental health issues in an accessible relatable format. It is life. It is love. It is family.


Read it. You MUST.



Check out my #FridayFreebie post this week for a chance to win this amazing book.


For The Harry Bosch Fans

Michael Connelly kindly provided me the link to the music in  all his novels and says he has no plans to release an album (at this point). the-wrong-side-of-goodbye

From The Wrong Side of Goodbye
Christian Scott, “Litany Against Fear” and “Naima”
John Handy
Grace Kelly
Jim Hendrix
Rolling Stones
Moody Blues
Connie Stevens, “Both Sides Now”
Judy Collins
Death Cab For Cutie, “Black Sun” 

Post Script: Fleetwood Mac The Complete Illustrated History – Richie Unterberger


Fleetwood Mac The Complete Illustrated History

Richie Unterberger

Murdoch Books

Voyageur Press

ISBN: 9780760351765



From this British-American band’s blues origins in the 1960s to its pop superstardom in the 1970s and 1980s to its 2015 reunion, Fleetwood Mac has endeared itself to audiences worldwide. Fleetwood Mac: The Complete Illustrated History covers the band’s illustrious career, highlighting details that will surprise even the most loyal fans. With a career that began nearly fifty years ago and yielded seventeen studio albums, Fleetwood Mac has had a rollercoaster career, detailed here through a carefully researched text and myriad photographs and memorabilia, including some rare and little-seen items.


The band’s most popular line-up includes drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie, keyboardist and vocalist Christine McVie, guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham, and singer Stevie Nicks, but its members have shifted over the years since Fleetwood Mac began in 1967. And although the band’s superstar phase in the 1970s is most familiar to the public, Fleetwood Mac’s roots were in the blues, and the band evolved in fits and starts before finding popular success. Fleetwood Mac: The Complete Illustrated History documents their entire story, including the troubled circumstances that led to the 1970 withdrawal of the band’s original guitarist, Peter Green, as well as the broken marriage of John and Christine McVie and the romantic breakup of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham that threatened to split the group even as they were recording one of the biggest albums of all time, Rumours. This is the whole story of one of rock and roll’s greatest bands.



My View:

Now this is how the history of a musician/rock band should be written and presented! Others take note, this is a joy to look at, to read, to own.


One of the very first albums I bought as a teenager was Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, what an album! It still holds its own today – and I must dig it out and get the record player working ( or buy the digital version, which may be easier)  J  This book holds so much history –  I never realised that there were so many versions of the band or styles of music and albums before Rumours…


Let’s talk photographs/images – they are superb!  The quality of the prints, the access to material; the posters advertising concerts, the album covers (and the wonderful “Selective Discography” at the back of the book complete with album covers), the shots taken during concerts, recording sessions…the playfulness, the colour, the fashion…this book has it all.


Informative, spectacular and a treat to hold – this book is a great one for the fans or as a coffee table book.




Post Script: The Age of Bowie – Paul Morley


The Age of Bowie

Paul Morley

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781471148088



Respected arts commentator Paul Morley, one of the team who curated the highly successful retrospective exhibition for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, David Bowie Is . . . constructs the definitive story of Bowie that explores how he worked, played, aged, structured his ideas, invented the future and entered history as someone who could and would never be forgotten. Morley will capture the greatest moments of Bowie’s career; from the recording studio with the likes of Brian Eno and Tony Visconti; to iconic live performances from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, as well as the various encounters and artistic relationships he developed with rock luminaries John Lennon, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. And of course, discuss in detail his much-heralded, and critically-acclaimed comeback with the release of Black Star just days before his shocking death in New York.

Morley will offer a startling biographical critique of David Bowie’s legacy, showing how he never stayed still even when he withdrew from the spotlight, how he always knew his own worth, and released a dazzling plethora of mobile Bowies into the world with a bloody-minded determination and a voluptuous imagination to create something amazing that was not there before.



My View:


The Good:

The introduction captures the essence of being a teenager and discovering music in the early 70’s – music that influenced society, fashion, language, tv programming, family interaction…such a powerful seductive influence. I also appreciated the lists – of albums and at the end of the book a chronological list of David Bowie’s life- major events and achievements.  I also liked the list of Bowie’s favourite 100 books.



The Bad:

We (the reader, the fan) have our own memories of Bowie, this is Paul Morley’s memory, his fan moment – it did not feel like it was written for the general public but for Paul himself to pay tribute to a musician he so obviously adored. His fan boy moment. Too gushy, to…too much. I felt like I was intruding.



The Ugly:

The use of He….I found this devise irritating…”He is moving from the pubs and clubs into theatres…He is afraid to fly….He is swanning around America… (p.260).


And although this is nothing to do with the actual writing of the memoir – I intensely disliked the tissue thin paper this book was printed on, paper that yellowed within weeks of this book arriving on my desk.



Just my opinion I’ll leave you to make up your own mind.



Post Script: Playing With Fire – Tess Gerritsen

Cover Playing With Fire

Playing With Fire

Tess Gerritsen

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Bantam Press

ISBN: 9780593075296





What if your child wanted you dead?


Julia doesn’t understand what is happening to her daughter, but she thinks she knows what’s causing it. She is terrified for Lily, and for herself, but what scares her more is that no one believes her.


If she is going to help Lily, she will have to find the answers alone, embarking on a search that will take her to the shadowy back streets of Venice.


There, Julia uncovers a heartbreaking, long-buried tale of tragedy and devastation – a discovery that puts her in serious danger. Some people will do anything in their power to keep the truth silent . . .



My View:

Tess Gerritsen is a writer who does not let you down! This fast paced mystery will have you tearing through the pages racing to the climax! A dual time lined mystery, one narrative set in Italy during WW11 is heartbreaking and devastating, and the other, a contemporary narrative, collides with the WW11 story in an explosive and haunting manner, startling with its conviction.


The settings and the music provide a most exquisite backdrop to this story – I could feel the music racing across the pages – sometimes passionate and vibrant, sometimes sad and mournful – either way they added a level of emotional connection to the dual narratives; the perfect glue to connect the two stories.


The twist in the conclusion will leave you gasping! And relieved. And just a little disappointed; I really enjoyed the haunting, paranormal aspect of this narrative and would love to see this author try her hand a full blown paranormal mystery. A great read.


Post Script: The Complete Beatles Songs – Steve Turner

The Complete Beatles Songs

The Complete Beatles Songs

Steve Turner

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733635021



For the first time, every single lyric of every single Beatles song appears in one book, with the story behind its creation.


Who was ‘just seventeen’ and made Paul’s heart go ‘boom’? Who was ‘Lady Madonna’? Was there really an Eleanor Rigby? Why was Paul the ‘walrus’ and what inspired the lyrics to Ringo’s ‘Octopus’s Garden’?


The Complete Beatles Songs shatters many well-worn myths and adds a new dimension to the Fab Four’s rich legacy by investigating the events immortalised in The Beatles’ music and now occupying a special niche in popular culture’s collective imagination.


This beautifully packaged – and first-of-its-kind – 2015 edition has been fully revised with a complete set of printed lyrics to accompany each song. Every Beatles-penned song is discussed and the inspiration behind it is examined, including all of their studio albums and later official releases.



My View:

You got me at the word BEATLES!


I am a big fan of the Beatles, the minute I saw the title of this book I knew I had to have, hold and devour this book. This is a book that will get you humming away or maybe singing out loud…enjoying the music of the Beatles all over again. Full of great images, (the images are amazing!) and the words to every great song the Beatles recorded – they were all great, and the inspiration behind the songs, this book has it all. Reminisce, sing, and smile. Love the music and the era, this book will transport you to a different world.


So if you ever wanted to know the actual words to Michelle or Yellow Submarine or Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds….this book is for your sister, your brother, your mum, your dad…be honest this book is a gift to YOURSELF!





In Need Of Musical Suggestions…

As some of you may have noticed recently I have started reading a few health related cook books and general  healthy living books – I am working my way up to some changes in my diet and lifestyle – that is I am trying to get a bit fitter.

I have started by buying an exercise bike – and setting that up in the lounge room ( we don’t watch TV much these days). I have been building up my stamina – today I rode for sixty minutes  – 28kms. Now to do that every day!


So to assist the motivation I need  to create a play list of blood pumping, foot stomping, sing out loud , pedal pushing music. I need about twenty to twenty five tracks, I think, to get me through the hour. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

Post Script: Runaway – Peter May

“I guess life is really about pain, isn’t it? That’s what feeling is. Any feeling. Even good feelings can be painful in their own way. And pain, pure pain is just the most heightened feeling of all.”



Peter May

Quercus Publishing

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781784299828



In 1965, five teenage friends fled Glasgow for London to pursue their dream of musical stardom. Yet before year’s end three returned, and returned damaged. In 2015, a brutal murder forces those three men, now in their sixties, to journey back to London and finally confront the dark truth they have run from for five decades.


Runaway is a crime novel covering fifty years of friendships solidified and severed, dreams shared and shattered and passions lit and extinguished; set against the backdrop of two unique and contrasting cities at two unique and contrasting periods of recent history.


My View:

A remarkable read! A well-constructed narrative that deals with two time settings, the earlier time frame – the late 1960’s – Glasgow and London and events  that had far reaching implications for all those involved and then the decision to revisit the past; in all its glory, with its downfalls, its sadness, naivety, bleakness and the loves, friendships and hope. 2015 sees the world through aging eyes and rights still have to be made, restitution paid. Crimes have been committed. The scales need to be balanced.


The settings are finely drawn. The characters believable, three dimensional and empathetic. I love their mission, and the ending has more than a few twists. This is more than a work of crime fiction, this is more than just a contemporary narrative, and this is more than the sum these elements … so much more. This is a story of life, of death, of adventure, of the potential of youth and the potential of older age and mostly this is the story of enduring friendships. And this is about pain, without pain you have nothing.


I loved my first Peter May read and will certainly look for others by this author.