Apr 2012

If you like atmospheric murder mysteries mixed in with a little romance, history and village life, this is the book for you. The historical events are dated to prime ‘Agatha Christie time’, the mid thirties, but the location is updated for Australian sensibilities with the action taking place in a remote fishing community in Tasmania.

Pennicott is an experienced crime writer and it shows with the interwoven structure of the plot and the careful staging of information...

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Apr 2012

Beware would-be novelists. This debut writer sets very high standards for a first book. Assured is the word; fluid is the pace, and light is the touch. Which is just as well, as the subject matter is tough and often dark.

The story is told, as many seem to be these days, in an alternating timeframe between the dark past and the present time that is trying to deal with and/or explain these past events. There is a sense of building tension as the past chapters progress...

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Jul 2012

Structurally speaking, The Perfume Lover is an interesting non-fiction concept. Denyse Beaulieu, a well-known fragrance blogger and journalist living in Paris, is the eponymous lover. She is a lover, nay a connoisseur, of perfume, but throughout the book we are treated to juicy snippets about her more private sensual loves, which she writes about with typical Parisian insouciance.

The spine of the story is Beaulieu’s pursuit of a scent that will represent a night of...

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Sep 2012

This collection of stories is about as mixed as you can get when they are all by the same author. They vary in length from four lines to seventeen pages and the variation in subject matter is even greater. Some of the stories come across as highly experimental, for example Nothing To Do With Anything uses no punctuation or paragraphing, Unsubstance resembles a stream of conscious, while Fragments of a Signal could be classed as speculative fiction. And then there are...

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Oct 2012

This book is a wonderful example of how a single image can spark a large and powerful story. Toni Jordan has imagined the lives and trajectories of nine characters over eighty years, all from the beginning point of a randomly found photograph (shown on the cover).

With one exception, these vividly drawn characters are from three generations of the Westaway clan and their stories are taken from 1939 until about 2018. Each voice is distinct and authentic, and there is...

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Dec 2012

Ideas of what make a story a novella vary. Most definitions centre on length: 17,000-40,000 words, some as low as 10,000. Another characteristic that can distinguish a novella from a short story is added complexity (there is room to develop subplots).

Having said that, the very first piece in the collection, The Water of Life, while being one of the more complex stories (and possibly one of the best), at about 6,500 words, cannot be classed as a novella; it is a short...

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Apr 2013

The Common Thread is actually a writing group (looking for new members) that has published an annual anthology of their work since 2004. In 2010 they held their first competition. This Anthology is a ‘bumper edition’ covering both 2012 and 2011. The bonus for readers is that this book therefore contains four prize-winning stories.

Apart from the pure enjoyment of reading short stories, this book makes an interesting study for any aspiring writer developing their...

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© 2012 Alicia Thompson
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