Tag Archives: Australia

A fictional place I’d love to go

11 Sep

Yesterday afternoon, I received this message from my sister:

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We had a brief conversation about how much we both loved it. I read the print book and she listened to the audiobook and I think I might give it a listen because I love the book and because of the Australian accents and excellent narration.


Author’s Summary: Second-hand bookshops are full of mysteries

This is a love story.

It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets, to words.

It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.

Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal. She’s looking for the future in the books people love, and the words that they leave behind.

We read this for my book club and we all loved the book…and the book shop. I’d love to go there.

Whether you read the print version or listen to the audiobook, you will love Words in Deep Blue.

The Dark Side Down Under

12 Aug

The art deco font on the front cover called to me.


And I wondered, what could be inside this marvelously designed book?

I checked it out, having skimmed the description on the inside flap and had a vague notion that it was a steampunk novel. It wasn’t. It was something way cooler.

Razorhurst,  by Justine Larbalestier, is set  Sydney Australia”s deadly Razorhurst neighborhood in the early 193o’s. Kelpie, a street urchin, stumbles upon a murder and the book is about the 24-hours following this event.

Goodreads summary: The setting: Razorhurst, 1932. The fragile peace between two competing mob bosses—Gloriana Nelson and Mr Davidson—is crumbling. Loyalties are shifting. Betrayals threaten.

Kelpie knows the dangers of the Sydney streets. Ghosts have kept her alive, steering her to food and safety, but they are also her torment.

Dymphna is Gloriana Nelson’s ‘best girl’, experienced in surviving the criminal world, but she doesn’t know what this day has in store for her.

When Dymphna meets Kelpie over the corpse of Jimmy Palmer, Dymphna’s latest boyfriend, she pronounces herself Kelpie’s new protector. But Dymphna’s life is in danger too, and she needs an ally. And while Jimmy’s ghost wants to help, the dead cannot protect the living . . .

The novel is inspired by real events which Larbalestier describes in her blog. This is the history of Australia that we never hear about. Fortunately, Larbalestier’s writing really gives you a sense of what it was like to live in that particular time and place. There are some very bad people, but Kelpie’s blend of street-wisdom and naiveté soften the edges.

This is a very serious novel. If it is too much for you, you might prefer seeing Australia’s underside in the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series, which is set in the 1920’s. I had this in my mind as I read Razorhurst.

So, as summer vacation winds down, think about taking a last-minute murderous vacation Down Under through a book or television.

Skippy, Flipper and the Dolphins of Shark Bay

10 Jan

I had two favorite animal shows when I was a kid. 


Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was set in Australia. The show’s star was Skippy, a wild female Eastern Grey Kangaroo. His sidekick was  Sonny Hammond, younger son of the Head Ranger of Waratah National Park. The stories revolved around events in the park, including its animals, the dangers arising from natural hazards, and the actions of visitors.

My other favorite was


Flipper was a bottle nose dolphin. His sidekicks were Sandy and Bud, the two sons of Porter Ricks, Chief Warden at fictional Coral Key Park and Marine Preserve in southern Florida.

Gosh they sound rather a like, don’t they. I got thinking about Skippy & Flipper because of Pamela S. Turner’s The Dolphins of Shark Bay.


It’s about dolphins in Australia. Sort of Skippy meets Flipper. I am being a little funny, but this is a seriously good book. It is part of the “Scientists in the Field Series” from Houghton Mifflin.

The book focuses on dolphins living in Shark Bay, Australia. These dolphins use sponges as tools to aid them in gathering fish to ear, and have been the focus of study by scientist Janet Mann and her research team. Scott Tuason’s colorful photographs enhance the text and draw readers into the book. Mann comes to know each of these bottlenose dolphins as individuals and as members of extended families, and she introduces readers to some of them. She has also worked with the Australian government to enact rules that better protect these dolphins from nearby commercial fishing interests and from over-enthusiastic eco-tourists.

A good addition to a library and recommend for animal lovers.

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