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'words'

The Man Who Saved Smithy

 

 

Reviewed by Donald Lawie

Air travel in this 21st century is an unremarkable, if uncomfortable, means of moving a long distance in a short time. Pilots are regarded as little more than highly trained bus drivers. Exactly 100 years go things were very different; the art of flying was in its infancy and the men who flew the fragile machines were Super Men. One of these was Gordon “Bill” Taylor, whose career spanned the art of flying, almost from the beginning, into the era of  aerial international travel as a commonplace. The Man Who Saved Smithy  tells the life story of the man who became Sir Gordon Taylor MC, GC. Author Rick Searle has drawn on Bill Taylor’s own prolific writing, augmented by personal interviews with Bill’s family, friends and fellow flyers. The result is a compulsively readable story of the courage, determination and endurance of an ordinary man. 

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the Ruby Slippers

 

 

Reviewed by Carole Castle

Keiran Alexander’s first novel the Ruby Slippers is a winner. The first sentences grab your attention and the reader is immediately hooked. “She stinks. It has to be said. Stinks to high heaven. No, worse, stinks like death” (1). “She” refers to Old Rosa, the bag lady. Why is this so and how did it happen?  The cover enticingly sets the scene even before you open the book: tall skyscrapers and red slippers in an open box still in their tissue paper. The cover glitters and gleams with shiny red sparkles. If you look carefully there are newspaper headings written on the tall buildings placing the novel in contemporary times in New York. All intriguing. 

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Atomic City

 

 

Reviewed by Jay Daniel Thompson

 Atomic City is the second book for Queensland author and academic Sally Breen. The novel has been adapted from Breen’s doctoral thesis, and explores sex and intrigue on the Gold Coast —the location referred to in the gloriously Blondie-esque title. The key protagonist is Jade, a twentysomething femme fatale with a troubled past. Jade gets her kicks (and pays the bills) in the gaming rooms of her adopted city. She teams up with a croupier known as ‘the Dealer’ to fleece a number of Gold Coast high rollers, including a smug and naive local businessman known as Harvey. The novel is told from the (quite different) perspectives of these three characters.

 

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In Love and War nursing heroes

 

 

Reviewed by Linden

In Love and War nursing heroes details the pioneering work of Sir Archibald McIndoe, a plastic surgeon who pioneered the treatment and rehabilitation centre for wartime burns victims.   His patients were Royal Air Force (RAF) and Bomber Command men whose faces and bodies were ‘mashed, fried and boiled’ by the war in the air.  Thus they became involuntary members of ‘the Guinea Pig Club’ which, at war’s end had 649 members.  Author Liz Byrski grew up in East Grinstead, Sussex where Sir Archibald established the Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH).  The image of these men, maimed and disfigured, stayed with the author for life 


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Mind-Boggling Universes: when size matters but morphs unexpectedly

 

 

Reviewed by swirleybitz

This book offers everyday readers a wonderful and whimsical yet serious Alice-in-Wonderland style exploration through the landscape of the universe, from the small or sublime to the thought-provoking or seriously whacky. David Blatner asks the question in the introduction - would we rather draw with a box of eight crayons or the jumbo 64 pack?  If readers take up the invitation, the result is a colourful unexpected exploration that entertains as well as boggles your mind - in the best possible way. 

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Inside my Mother

 

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball 

It’s perfectly possible to read Ali Cobby Eckermann’s new poetry book, Inside my Motherwithout being aware of her history as a stolen child, or her Yankunytjatjara and Kokatha heritage. The poetry is universally evocative, delicately wrought, and linguistically powerful even taken out of context, or published individually, as many of the pieces have been. However, knowing the personal and political backdrop on which the work is developed not only adds depth, it becomes another story – the story within the story – that informs and enlivens the work further. 

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TUNNEL RATS VS THE TALIBAN

 

Reviewed by Donald Lawie

The continuing war in Afghanistan, and Australia’s part in it, receives little mention in the popular press except for the occasional media frenzy when yet another Australian serviceman has been killed. The war continues in a remote and little understood country; the scenery is bleak, the participants become anonymous in their camouflaged, protective uniforms and there is little for sensational  footage to show on the evening news. Tunnel Rats vs the Taliban  may change that attitude. Authors Sandy Macgregor and Jimmy Thomson have collaborated to bring the Afghanistan War to life. Participants are real, no punches are pulled – politically or tactically – and the story  of Australian Sappers is told in direct soldier’s language. 

'screens'

Cinema: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Glamorous and snappily dressed up but utterly inconsequential and lacking any personality, Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. opens this week. Starring three mannequins and the fabulous Elizabeth Debicki, the only reason to tune in, as a ruthless European terrorist called Victoria Vinciguerra who wants to unbalance the balance of power with nuclear weapons, its tailored to look like a Bond film yet it lacks any of the wit or tension. It’s all just an excuse for fabulous clothes, fabulous music, and fabulous locations. Eventually the fabulous wore me down.

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Runway fantasies

 

Reviewed by Jill 

Alexander McQueen’s designs could be colourful, daring, haute couture, fantasy and provocative - a latex outfit covered in locusts, prosthetic legs inspired by 17th century woodcarving, balsa wings, panduriform dresses.  Underpinning the creations were years of sound experience and training in tailoring at respected establishments. Alexander McQueen  was published to accompany the V&A’s 2015 exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, pulled together by Andrew Bolton.  Each of twenty-eight short surveys by contemporaries in the fashion industry presents a different facet of  this incredibly creative and productive designer.  We go beyond the catwalk and into theatre and feature films. We are also led into dance, photography, make-up – whatever it took to produce, stage and document McQueen’s productive life. 

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A Companion to Modernist Poetry.


 

Reviewed by Hazel Menehira

An exact definition of modernist poetry and the chronological time frame of the movement in the landscape of literature are difficult to pin down. Those engaged with getting to grips with studies relating to the modernist movement will welcome this valuable A Companion to Modernist Poetry reference book.  It follows the traditional Blackwell companions in literature and culture and provides a comprehensive coverage of the historical and literary aspects of modernist poetry. It includes recent academic contributions on various dimensions of the topic and also in depth insights into twenty noted representative modernist poets. 

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