A spotlight on our books of the month, November 2021



Devotion by Hannah Kent

Prussia, 1836. Hanne Nussbaum is a child of nature - she would rather run wild in the forest than conform to the limitations of womanhood. In her village of Kay, Hanne is friendless and considered an oddity…until she meets Thea.

Ocean, 1838. The Nussbaums are Old Lutherans, bound by God’s law and at odds with their King’s order for reform. Forced to flee religious persecution the families of Kay board a crowded, disease-riddled ship bound for the new colony of South Australia. In the face of brutal hardship, the beauty of whale song enters Hanne’s heart, along with the miracle of her love for Thea. Theirs is a bond that nothing can break.

The whale passed. The music faded.

South Australia, 1838. A new start in an old land. God, society and nature itself decree Hanne and Thea cannot be together. But within the impossible…is devotion.

Our reviewer Tristen Brudy says of the novel: ‘ Devotion cements Kent’s status as one of the most exciting Australian writers working today’. You can read the full review here.



Canticle Creek by Adrian Hyland

When Adam Lawson’s wrecked car is found a kilometre from Daisy Baker’s body, the whole town assumes it’s an open and shut case. But Jesse Redpath isn’t from Canticle Creek. Where she comes from, the truth often hides in plain sight, but only if you know where to look. When Jesse starts to ask awkward questions, she uncovers a town full of contradictions and a cast of characters with dark pasts, secrets to hide and even more to lose.

As the temperature soars, and the ground bakes, the wilderness surrounding Canticle Creek becomes a powderkeg waiting to explode. All it needs is one spark.

Our crime expert Fiona Hardy recommends this compelling work of crime fiction saying, ‘ Canticle Creek a truly entertaining and distracting read as Melbourne heads into the (metaphorical) fire of an uncertain, lockdown-less future’. You can read the full review here.



Adrift in Melbourne by Robyn Annear

Melbourne’s streets have always been marvellous - but the proud facades of the nineteenth-century boom aren’t the half of it. What about the stories behind them?

The great corset scandal of Melbourne’s belle epoque; The heritage-listed toilets out the back of the Rialto; The exploits of the women who ran the brothels in Little Lonsdale Street; The reason George Mallaby starred in Homicide wearing a hat two sizes too small. This book contains a series of walks created by Robyn Annear to showcase the hidden histories we might scurry past every day, the buildings now gone and the extraordinary characters who inhabited them.

Reviewer Chris Gordon says of the work: ‘This fantastic book gifts you the gossip held in our streets. Before you know it, you’ll be completely enchanted again by our city. And it’s all because you became friends with Robyn Annear. Lucky you’. You can read her full review here.



12 Stradivari by Janine Jansen and Antonio Pappano

Most people have heard of Stradivari, a violin maker from the late 17th century and early 18th century. His house produced almost a thousand high-quality violins, around 650 of which have survived into the modern era and are now regularly valued above the $20 million mark. Some are hidden away in private collections and not even played. As a musician, I cannot begin to tell you how sad this makes me. They were made to sing, to soar and bring musical emotion to the world. So when I listened to this album, my heart was made glad once again to hear these instruments dusted off and allowed to do what they do best.

Classical music expert Kate Rockstrom says of the album: ‘This is history in the making and a chance for future generations to hear these instruments sing once again'. You can read the full review here.



Plume by Tania McCartney

Plume is not your typical Antarctic penguin. Sporting a bright yellow plume on the top of his head, Plume is bored of black and white, of shuffling around and snoozing on icebergs. He much prefers to cook, read, knit and sky dive. He craves colour, adventure, excitement! He wants to seize the world he’s discovered in the books of his fantastical, glacier library (the largest in the Southern Hemisphere). Plume’s great hope is to grow the hearts and minds of his penguin friends. Through his travels, children will engage with themes such as friendship, acceptance, understanding and the wellbeing of our planet.

Children’s specialist Angela Crocombe notes: ‘While we may not be able to travel much ourselves, the utterly delightful penguin Plume can, and he makes for a wonderful guide on a journey around the world, exploring different climates, locations and people … With stunning illustrations and glorious end papers of a world map, Plume: World Explorer is a marvellous adventure for readers aged 4 and up to enjoy and learn’. You can read the full review here.



Hating Alison Ashley by Robin Klein

‘Utter loathing and hatred,’ I said. ‘I wouldn’t even be on the same bus as you…If I could have caught a virus in time.’

Erica Yurken knew she was destined for great things. Never in any doubt about her own genius, she felt superior to everyone at notorious Barringa East…that is, until Alison Ashley turned up. In between dealing with her embarrassing family and focusing on her on-screen destiny the arrival of perfect Alison Ashley at Barringa East turns Erica Yurken’s fairytale world around as, from the moment Alison arrives, Erica becomes determined to hate her.

Staff reviewer Alison Huber recommends this story for 9+ saying, ‘ Hating Alison Ashley is one of Australian literature’s finest campus novels, and Erica Yurken is surely one of its greatest (and most relatable) heroines.’ You can read her review here.



Hometown Haunts: #LoveOzYA Horror Tales by Poppy Nwosu

Hometown Haunts is all-Australian and all-amazing, bringing together some of our best established and emerging YA authors for a collection that will chill, thrill and leave you sleeping with the lights on.

Edited by Poppy Nwosu, the anthology is the first #LoveOzYA publication to focus exclusively on the horror genre. The impressive line-up includes Wai Chim, Sarah Epstein, Alison Evans, Lisa Fuller, Michelle O’Connell, Emma Preston, Holden Sheppard, Jared Thomas, Vikki Wakefield and Nwosu herself. Alongside these are stories by four writers – Margot McGovern, Emma Osborne, Marianna Shek and Felix Wilkins – which were selected through a competitive open call-out process.

Our reviewer Pilgrim Hodgson thoroughly enjoyed this collection saying: ‘The quality of storytelling and diverse perspectives and styles make Hometown Haunts one of the most exciting horror reads I’ve enjoyed in years.‘ You can read the full review here.

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Hannah Kent

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