What we’re reading: Ireland, Marney & Majumdar

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on, or the music we’re loving.


Tye Cattanach is reading Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

I usually avoid Zombie novels, or Zombie related anything actually. I find them utterly terrifying. I listened to the Zombies, Run! phone app for five whole minutes a few years back and I am still having nightmares. Nothing like a pandemic to make you feel brave though and the premise for this YA novel was so original, I was persuaded to give it a go.

Dread Nation proposes an alternate American history, one in which the Civil War between the States was derailed after the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, changing the nation forever. Now, cities are fortified against the walking dead and the very rich can afford to hire personal ‘attendants’. Highly trained in combat at the exclusive Miss Preston’s School of Combat, Jane McKeene has no interest in protecting a rich, white charge from the shufflers. She intends to go home to her family in Baltimore, but her enemies have other plans…

Ireland is a wildly talented writer and Dread Nation reads like watching a movie. I absolutely adored this brilliantly imagined dark, subversive, kick-a$$ novel. Not to mention the fact that Jane is a marvellous character and exactly the kind of smart, sassy, black-humoured heroine we all need right now. Highly recommended.


Mark Rubbo is reading A Burning by Megha Majumdar

During the first few weeks of the second lockdown in Melbourne, I’ve read the impressive debut novel from Indian writer Megha Majumdar. Set in contemporary India, A Burning is the story of three characters whose lives are changed when they become caught up in the devastating aftermath of a terrorist attack. This political thriller has quickly become a simmering hit at Readings. In her review of the novel, my colleague Alison Huber writes: ‘I think Megha Majumdar is a name we will come to know well; her talent for storytelling is undeniable.’ I agree.


Chris Gordon is reading The Question of Love by Hugh Mackay (available August)

On Tuesday 1 September, I will be chatting with Hugh Mackay about his two forthcoming books: a novel, The Question of Love, and a work of non-fiction, The Inner Self.

I’ve just finished reading his novel. To read a story like this – at a time like this – has been quite therapeutic for a number of reasons.

First, as the title suggests, the novel is about love. It is also an examination of the elements that matter in any successful relationship: the impact of words, the skill of listening, and the breadth of empathy. The narrative centres on Richard and Freya, who are seemingly the perfect couple in the perfect home. The same scene is described on repeat, with various scenarios considered. Through this inventive structure, Mackay shows us the two character’s histories and different interpretations, and it is through these moments that we readers become privy to the courage needed for longterm relationships. Certainly considering the power of interpretation, lockdown is not always easy. It would be disingenuous to say that there have not been moments in my own family where words have been thrown around without a regard to where they land. Reading this novel has reminded me I need to pay attention to the quiet moments in my own story.

So read The Question of Love because being in lockdown with your housemates or family can be absolutely exhausting – and also it can be completely exhilarating. My takehome from this novel was that sometimes a little reminder about the power of kindness can make all the difference.

And do join me and Hugh when we talk about courage and love and unpack why he wrote such an unusual (and powerful) novel. You can book online here.


Bronte Coates is reading None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney (available September)

During stressful times I’ve previously gravitated towards romance fiction for comfort, but during the past months, I’ve instead found myself craving crime fiction. I’ve recently enjoyed two terrific Australian debuts: The Safe Place by Anna Downes (read my colleague’s rave review here) and I Shot the Devil by Ruth McIver (a gritty Satantic-spiked thriller that will be available in early 2021). Then just last week, I was lucky enough to get my hand on a copy of the forthcoming new novel from LoveOzYA’s Ellie Marney.

Described as a teenage-led Silence of the Lambs, None Shall Sleep follows two teenagers who are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers for information on cold cases and get caught up in a high-stakes hunt for a serial killer on the loose. This was such an addictive and enjoyable page-turner, and the perfect distraction from the news. Look out for it in September.

(And if you are in the mood for a romance, I highly recommend picking up one of Jasmine Guillory’s novel which are all entirely delightful and charming.)

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A Burning

A Burning

Megha Majumdar

$29.99Buy now

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