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Posts from the ‘novellas #NovNov’ Category


#AusReadingMonth 2021 Wrap-up post

  1. It has been a long summer…
  2. filled with climate change events COP26  (fires, hurricanes, floods)
  3. ….USA finally ending a 20 yr war….(…exit was messy)
  4. ….battle to control Covid #DeltaVariant  and now
  5. …a new #OmicronVariant continues!!
  6. I always look forward to #AusReadingMonth2021
  7. @bronasbooks (This Reading Life)
  8. ….and want to thank her for doing a wonderful
  9. …job hosting and reviewing!


 For #AusReadingMonth2021 I read:

  1. Coda – Thea Astley (1994) (novella)  REVIEW
  2. The Year of Living Dangerously – ( 224 pg) Chris Koch (1978)  REVIEW 
  3. Always Add Lemon – Danielle Alvarez  REVIEW
  4. Vertigo: A Novella – (144 pg) Amanda Lohrey (2008) (novella)  REVIEW
  5. The Newspaper of Claremont Street – Elizabeth Jolley (1981) (novella)  REVIEW
  6. In Praise of Veg – Alice Zaslavsky  REVIEW
  7. Australian Food – Bill Granger  REVIEW
  8. Basics to Brilliance – Donna Hay (cookbook)  REVIEW
  9. Tea and Sympathetic Magic – Tansy Rayner Roberts (novella)  REVIEW
  10. I’m Ready Now – (156 pg) Nigel Featherstone (novella)  REVIEW



#Novella Amos Oz


Quick Scan:

  1. Setting: 1096, Middle Ages
  2. Characters: French nobleman Guillaume de Touron
  3. …and his band of ragged followers.
  4. First Crusade 1095-1099:  drive Muslims out of  Jerusalem
  5. Story: follow this group of warriors on their way to the Holy City.
  6. Theme: obsessive hatred that surrounds Jews
  7. Irony:  nobody wins!
  8. …this hatred destroys both… the Jews (hated) and crusaders (haters)


Quick Scan:

  1. Chapters 1-3  
  2. The Count has a lot of things on his plate besides the Jews:
  3. shrivelling vinyards, debts, death of his wife
  4. …and a curse placed on him by a Jew who Guillaume is burning at the stake!
  5. Chapters 4-6
  6. Killing is central in the story: a Jew refuses to die after hours of torture
  7. …and the crusaders end up killing each other!
  8. Conflict:  peace of mind (free Jerusalem) VS  mania (dying on way to Holy City)
  9. Chapters 7– 9 – motley crew of personages that are  distractions in the story.
  10. Chapters 10-13 – trapped in a winter storm in a monastery…
  11. Guillaume is depressed and delusional
  12. .he falls on his spear and is dead.
  13. #EndofUselessStory


Weak point:   narration

  1. The narrator rehashes the  entries
  2. made by a chronicler, Claude Crookback for the backstory.
  3. Crookback supposedly has witnessed all events first-hand.
  4. This is irritating…IMO narrator and chronicler are synonyms!
  5. Why not eliminate the middle man and just
  6. stay with the 3rd person narrator?


Weak point:  switching point of view

  1. It is so strange….in one sentence I read:
  2. “…they drank and let their horses and servants drink.”
  3. …and the I read:
  4. “Even the villagers received us grimly.”
  5. #SoConfusing


Quote reveals the essence of the main character: (ch 5)

  1. “…Guillaume felt a wild desire to overpower or crush
  2. some obstacle..
  3. …whose nature was hidden from him...”


Weak point: disjointed…too many personages!!

  1. The story is just 92 pages and I would prefer that Amos Oz
  2. concentrate on one or two characters/conficts.
  3. Unfortunately we are thrown from one chapter to the other:
  4. …the bishop of St.-Etienne, the Jew that perhaps
  5. …has artfully entered into Guillaume’s ranks
  6. the howling of wolves, dogs, foxes and villagers.
  7. We meet a piper Andrés Alvárez and three half brother Celts
  8. …other Teutonic Knights (Albrecht of Brunswick), Jewish peddler
  9. monks in a monastery.
  10. This goes on and on….and I’m losing interest fast!



  1. This was just awful.
  2. I’ve read Amos Oz’s
  3. International Bestselling memoir
  4. Tale of Love and Darkness in 2005 and loved it.
  5. (Don’t miss this book!)
  6. But in 1970s it seems Mr. Oz was not yet at his literary peak!
  7. This novella felt like a thin gruel
  8. …supplemented by literary tricks
  9. …shifting POV, dual narrators.
  10. It showed me nothing of Amos Oz’s wonderful writing.
  11. It had a strange disjointed structure with unrelated info thrown in…
  12. I got lost, confused, bored.
  13. #WasteOfMyReadingTime
  14. I KNOW  Amos Oz can do better!!

#AusReadingMonth 2022 Tansy Roberts


Quick Scan:

  1. Tea and Sympathetic Magic
  2. Miss Mnemosyne Seabourne teams up with a fascinating
  3. spellcracker Mr.  Thornbury to foil the kidnapping of the
  4. Herny Jupiter the Duke of Storm
  5. …and prevent a forced marriage.



  1. Strong point:
  2. Ms Roberts use names
  3. from mythology and the solar system for her characters!
  4. Henry Jupiter  – is a very eligible bachelor, with grand library.
  5. The planet Jupiter’s most iconic feature is a
  6. giant STORM know as the Giant Red spot.
  7. The Duke is wearing “…a bright orange cravat.” (pg 10)
  8. …just like The Giant Red Spot on Jupiter!
  9. Ms Roberts  uses this info to create
  10. “Henry Jupiter, the Duke of Storm”.


  1. Strong point:
  2. Ms Roberts uses lovely names of moons for female characters
  3. Moons circle planets…usually  men in society!
  4. Mnemosyne – moon of Saturn
  5. Europa – moon of Jupiter
  6. Galateamoon of Neptune


  1. Strong point: Ms Roberts does highlight important issues
  2. …that the main character Mnemosyne is passionate about:
  3. A) Rules for men were different than for women...
  4. Duke of Storm enjoys special rituals to meet his demands
  5. “brimming cup of tea and does not have to wait 2 seconds”
  6. ….and he had done nothing to deserve this attention. (pg 10)
  7. “This is the world we live in: one where
  8. B) Ladies traveled by the slow path,
  9. …while gentlemen were allowed short-cuts.” (pg 17)
  10. C) “No one should marry the wrong person.” (pg 39)


  1. Weak point:
  2. the title suggests “magic” but I was so
  3. …disappointed.
  4. The idea of a spellcracker…walking through portals, transforming
  5. a ball into a prickly hedgehog to stop a wedding and throwing
  6. tea cups at a wedding cake to release a captive wedding guest
  7. is NOT my idea of magic.
  8. It is just not.


Last Thoughts:

  1. I decided to read  this novella because I so
  2. enjoyed Girl Reporter by Ms Roberts last year.
  3. I missed a great story idea, a memorable main character
  4. and unique writing style.
  5. IMO this novella is like cotton candy
  6. sickly sweet, all fluff and just melts away.
  7. #IAmNOTIntendedTargetAudience


#Novella nr 3: NovNov – AusReadingMonth 2021



  1. I started reading the complete works of Theas Astley during
  2. #AusReadingMonth in 2017
  3. …and have finished 13/17!
  4. Finally I found a copy of Beachmasters @
  5. That book is NOT easy to come by!
  6. Collected Short Stories (1997)
  7. ….also a very difficult or very expensive book to acquire!



  1. Girl with a Monkey (1958)
  2. A Descant for Gossips (1960)
  3. The Well Dressed Explorer (1962)                     Miles Franklin winner
  4. The Slow Natives (1965)                                    Miles Franklin winner
  5. Boat Load of Home Folk (1968)
  6. The Acolyte (1972)                                             Miles Franklin winner
  7. A Kindness Cup (1974)
  8. An Item from the Late News (1982)
  9. Beachmasters (1985) 
  10. It’s Raining in Mango (1987)
  11. Reaching Tin River (1990) 
  12. Vanishing Points (1992)
  13. Coda (1994)
  14. The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow (1996)  Miles Franklin long/shortlist
  15. Drylands (1999)                                           Miles Franklin winner

Short stories


Quick Scan:

  1. Coda examines the despair of old age.
  2. Thea Astley is a truth-teller about  becoming an “aged” misfit in society.
  3. Strong point: Ms Astley is still able to cut through
  4. …the tragedy with a sharp literary wit.
  5. Occasionally the narrative is interrupted by stories plucked from the
  6. Australian newspapers:
  7. “…there has been an alarming increase in so-called
  8. ...’granny-dumping’ throughout the country.” (Condamine Examiner, 16 Jan 1992)


Character:   Kathleen Hackendorf

  1. Born 1920s, no real ambition except get out of Townsville!
  2. We see her sitting in a tacky Mall at a plastic table under a fig tree
  3. drinking her coffee as she contemplates life and her grammatical losses:
  4. “I’m losing my nouns!”
  5. Daughter, Shamrock, wants her mother on a shelf like a cracked doodad.
  6. Son, Brian, a financial schemer in his second marriage has no time for his mother.
  7. Both have sold Kathleen’s house out from under her and put down the dog.
  8. BFF …Kathleen at least has her dotty dear friend Daisy
  9. Only trouble is ….Daisy is dead.



  1. I hope I’ve given you just a taste of
  2. …what you can expect in this book.
  3. Read as Kathleen wonders when the buzz went out of her she is
  4. “…rooting about for words in the old handbag of her years.” (pg 188)
  5. Weak point: I found the pages devoted to Brian’s
  6. “crackpot stratagems” (pg 106) too long.
  7. It ruined the mood of the story about the aging Kathleen!
  8. Weak point: In the end, expected some fireworks from Ms Astley
  9. …but Kathleen’s life story seemed to just fizzle out.
  10. Again, I am a fan of Thea Astley and find that some of her
  11. later books lack the punch of  her best books
  12. The Slow Natives, The Acolyte, Boat Load of Home Folk and
  13. A Descant for Gossips.
  14. #MildlyDisappointed

#Novella nr 2: NovNov – AusReadingMonth 2021


Quick Scan:

  1. Chapters 1-12  
  2. Introduction characters and backstories
  3. …marriages, childhood, deaths, abandonment.
  4. Chapters 13-16
  5. The tension rises to a boiling point: Gordon (son),
  6. Mother and Levi (Gordon’s lover) are all about to make
  7. a life changing decisions but it
  8. …is unclear to the reader what that will be!
  9. Conflict: should mother just listen to her son’s plans
  10. …or try to stop him from making a grave mistake?
  11. Chapters 17 – 23
  12. The story reaches the climax
  13. ….during Gordon’s 30th birthday dinner celebration.
  14. Chapters 24 – 32
  15. The resolution…each character embarks on their own paths.
  16. ..and perhaps those paths will cross each other in the future
  17. ….at least Nigel Featherstone ends the book on an optimistic note!
  18. Conclusion:
  19. Ending:…feels like the sound of a bell ringing.
  20. #Bravo !!!   Nigel!


  1. Strong point:  Structure – Alternating narrator:
  2. ch 1 Son (Gordon) and  ch 2 Mother (Lynne)…etc
  3. Strong pointThoughts and inner dialogue
  4. 70% of the book is inner dialogue that
  5. raises the emotional level in every scene!
  6. It reveals the truth, the darkness, hopes and dreams
  7. …that are often lost in direct dialogue.
  8. Mother (Lynne) is worried about her son
  9. …but cannot let him notice her concern.
  10. Son (Gordon) feels his heart is torn in half.
  11.  part  for his lover (Levi)  the other part
  12. for his determination to continue with
  13. …the “Year of Living Ridiculously”.


Major theme:  loss, abandonment

  1. In chapter 9 we hear Mother say words that left me puzzled.
  2. Gordon: “Is there anything you need while I’m up the street?
  3. Mother: “No, just make sure you come home.”
  4. Gordon “…of course I’ll come home…”
  5. Mother: “Than that’s all I need.”
  6. As you read Nigel Featherstone  adds layers
  7. with backstories about the characters and their lives.
  8. Only then does this short dialogue between mother and son make sense.



  1. Gordon (Donian, nickname) 29 yr, born 23 October 1981
  2. Levi Greenguard  (Jewish social worker, Gordon’s  lover)
  3. Mother (Lynne)
  4. Eddie (stepfather) – recently deceased
  5. Margie Ardmore (friend of Mother…feels like an aunt for Gordon)
  6. Patric Finn (…just mentioned as mother’s first love)
  7. Minnie and Lenah ( Gordon’s step-sisters)
  8. Ailis Kildare (Lynne’s  mother, from Ireland, died in Hobart 62 yr)
  9. Father – (name?) died 6 months later
  10. Shanie Doyle – G’s childhood friend …followed him from Hobart to Sydney
  11. Delia Canola – Shanie’s fiancée


Best Quote:  chapter 19

  1. “I think birthplace is a matter of DNA.
  2. You can try running from it….
  3. ….but it’s always in you, mapping you out.”



  1. Mother takes a flight from  Hobart, Tasmania to…
  2. Sydney – Gelbe, NSW (inner-city suburb) – Gordon’s appartment
  3. Convict-era cottage on 11 Union Street (polished doorknob) (backstory)
  4. Point Puer (place where Patric Finn made a film)
  5. Battery Point…where Shanie used to live
  6. Battery Point House  – owned by mother Lynne
  7. Gleeson House (1839)  (..the family home Hampton Road, Hobart)
  8. …is about to be sold at an auction…so Mother is visiting her son Gordon.
  9. Sydney apartment (Eddie’s  place at Manly on the Corso)


Title: “I’m Ready Now”

  1. Ch 27 – quote … to bookend the story: 
  2. Mother: “There’s a future in abandonment, so it seems.
  3. I’m ready for it.”
  4. Ch 30 – quote … as Levi leaves he says to Gordon:
  5. “marriage is not out of the question” the future. 
  6. Levi calls for a taxi  and says “Yes, I’m ready now”.

#Novella nr 1: NovNov – AusReadingMonth 2021



  1. Sometimes I search days for a good book
  2. …and sometimes one just falls into my lap!
  3. I ordered this book a year ago.
  4. This year for #AusReadingMonth I am determined to
  5. sweep through my Kindle TBR and read as many Aussie
  6. authors as I can.
  7. Also this review is ….for #NovNov @746Books



  1. Veritigo is a stunner.
  2. Luke and Anna, thirty-something…. decide on a change.
  3. Worn down by city life they flee to a sleepy village by the coast.
  4. One senses that the change of living area is only nothing more than as escape
  5. for a couple who have difficulty communicating.
  6. The neighbours are strange but authentic.
  7. The problem is the drought.


  1. The book felt like a compact box of chocolates.
  2. I ate the first few bonbons (part 1) and
  3. as I continued to  remove the layers (part 2)  of paper
  4. only to come deeper  (part 3) into an exquisitely crafted novella.


  1. Chocolate and this story are
  2. so addictive that one cannot stop reading/eating it.
  3. this book is unputdownable!”


  1. The last layer was one one the best descriptions I’ve
  2. ever read of a bush fire….incredible!
  3. #MustRead
  4.   …absolutely a “coup de coeur”.

#AusReadingMonth2020 Simpson Returns (novella)



  1. Main character:
  2. Jack Simpson – ghostly World War I hero soldier
  3. …not everyone can see him, apart from those who helps
  4. Helper: Murphy, his donkey
  5. Quest: Jack is in search for an inland sea in the center of the country.
  6. Majority of the tale:  deals with characters he meets along the way
  7. teenage runaway
  8. refugee
  9. Vietnam veteran
  10. single mother
  11. deranged ex-teacher,
  12. Setting:  Australia
  13. Theme:   Jack tries to help others but sometimes fails….
  14. Jack  defends his actions by claiming the
  15. …intention is more important than the result.



  1. Backstory: Shrapnel Gully – bullet in the heart – Lasseter’s vial – the Inland Sea.
  2. Characters:  Sad stories
  3. …that could not spark a scintilla of  pathos in me, sorry.
  4. While the first half or so of the book
  5. …was interesting (Jack and Murphy) it became repetitious and tedious.
  6. Each section had the standard line to a character:  “…tell me your story.”
  7. After 61% of the book….
  8. I decided to approach it from a different angle.
  9. With the help of KINDLE flashcards
  10. I noted ONLY the dialogue of Jack
  11. …and filtered out the tragic stories of the other characters.
  12. I flashed the cards
  13. ….and had a rolling conversation with Jack.
  14. I just wanted to salvage anything from the book.


Last Thoughts:

  1. Perhaps I’ve have been spoiled
  2. …after reading Nigel Featherstone’s
  3. stellar novella Fall On Me.
  4. Page turner? Only when I was turning
  5. …a few pages at a time hoping it would get better.
  6. It did not.
  7. #ReadAndDecideForYourself

#AusReadingMonth2020 Girl Reporter (novella)



  1. I just loved this novella!
  2. Tansy Roberts just nailed it with the ‘new vocabulary‘ for the
  3. networked, connected, vlogging, livestreaming, vid, twitter feed generation.
  4. Friday Valentina (#SuperheroSpill reporter) made me laugh:
  5. There’s something beautiful about the perfect hashtag.
  6. Truly, the hashtag is the epic poem of the 21st C.”
  7. Have  some fun and enjoy Tina (mother), Friday Valentina
  8. Solar, Astra, The Dark and many more characters.
  9. This book is full of snark and satire!
  10. Strong point:  snappy dialogue
  11. Tansy Roberts’ dialogue:
  12. develops the plot
  13. reveals characters’ motivation,
  14. creates an cyberspace experience for reader
  15. makes an average story extraordinary.
  16. #MustRead
  17. #MustLaugh



#AusReadingMonth2020 Icefall



  1. Well, fly me to the moon..
  2. if you are like me I seldom read SF. It just does not entertain me.
  3. But I am trying to read deeply and widely,
  4. so I decided to ‘test the waters’ with a short 114 pg novella.
  5. Now, I did the research for you (see review)
  6. …so you can dive right into this book.
  7. Just think….at the next book club meeting when they ask t
  8. o suggest a ‘something completely different…
  9. you can suggest ICEFALL by Stephanie Gunn!
  10. The club will be determined NOT to read it
  11. ….you could probably crack rocks on their jaws!
  12. But…at least try to guide them into the world of SF!
  13. Millions of people read nothing else!
  14. Stephenie Gunn was a research scientist turned full time writer.
  15. I’m curious how she will combine her
  16. …scientific backround with her fiction
  17. Will Ms Gunn write what she knows
  18. ….or what she feels?



  1. I do not read very much SF
  2. …so looked at some terms I found in the text…and what they mean.
  3. This made the book MUCH easier to process.


  1. VIR POD – spaceship ‘Wanda R’
  2. …named for Wanda Rutkiewicz, first woman to climb K2.
  3. VIR – virutal interfaced reality
  4. VIR implants – one can experience both worlds (virtual and real) at the same time


  1. AI hologram3D image formed by split laser beam.
  2. Ms Gunn describes a AI holographic character as
  3. genderless, expressionless, fingers bloodless
  4. …can dematerialize and form again in i.e. the navigator’s chair (ch 15)
  5. …can flow around me (Aisha) to envelope me completely in its field (ch1)


  1. AI (artifcial intelligence)
  2. I did not know if this was a human replication or just a voice!
  3. Replicant androids are indistinguishable from human beings
  4. …remember the film: Blade Runner… how was human and who was AI?
  5. In this book AI comes with a package of standard visages:
  6. male, female or null gender.
  7. AI uses the visage and name of Mallory
  8. …in reference to G. Mallory
  9. the first person to summit Mt Everest.



  1. Icefall is a similar planet to old Earth.
  2. MacGregor Corporation has established two colonies on Icefall.
  3. Icefall organizes a Icefall Climbing Competition once every 7 years.
  4. Essential in the plot is a ‘weeping mountain’.
  5. All of the pointed masses of ice  and snow in a glacier melt.
  6. Millions of mega litres of water wash over the
  7. continent destroying everything in its path.
  8. The waters lie still for one ICEFALL  day (25 hrs).
  9. The next day waters retreat…moving against gravity.
  10. The mountain draws everything back towards it
  11. …the glaciers, the icefall and continental ice all reform.
  12. This was the SPOOKIEST thing in the entire book!


  1. Planet Demeter home of narrator Aisha Ashkani
  2. Planet Icefall
  3. Greyspace – folded space beneath normal space that surrounds planet Icefall
  4. Many references to “old Earth”


Structure:        26 chapters,  114 pages

  1. Present – Ch 1-5-11 (arriving on planet Icefall)
  2. Backstory – Ch  2-3-4-6-7-8-9-10-13 
  3. Present – Ch 14-26  present (Icefall Climbing Competition)


Main Characters:

  1. Mallory (AI) – projects its holographic interface around narrator Aisha.
  2. Aisha:  former priestess of ONE Order of the New Earth
  3. Maggie (Margaret Malleore) mountain climber – Maggie and narrator are married
  4. Gorak – bot (robot) raven like bird that will be narrator’s ‘eyes’ on the Mountain.



  1. Aisha Ashkani (priestess) is from Sherpa heritage.
  2. Sherpa believe the mountain is
  3. …their goddess and one should not
  4. trespass on the sacred ground.
  5. Ironically
  6. …Aisha becomes fascinated
  7. with mountaint climbing and leaves the temple
  8. …to reach the snowy summit.


Last Thoughts:

  1. This SF novella is about Mountain climbing in space…in the future.
  2. Humans have left old Earth and have colonised the universe.
  3. There is also  a very touching love story in this book
  4. …that brings the SF and the human elements in balance.
  5. You will have to read the book (reading time?  2 hrs)
  6. to discover the tender bond between Aisha Ashkani and Maggie.
  7. #GreatRead

#AusReadingMonth2020 Dolores (novella)



  1. 16-year-old arrives, alone, at a convent in Spain.
  2. She is given the name Dolores.
  3. Short and mysterious…one-sitting read. (2 hrs)
  4. …the close-up details of life in the convent.
  5. Each chapter shows Delores adapting to the nuns’ routines,
  6. before taking us to her backstory…to her secret.



  1. What can I say….
  2. Of course you must remember this is a debut novella
  3. and the author will improve as time goes on.
  4. Ms Curtis was shortlisted for NSW Premier’s Literary Award 2020
  5. …so somebody must have seen merit in this book.
  6. Unfortunately, I did not.
  7. A story is setup… Dolores is rendered human.
  8. We see her encounter a problem or challenge.
  9. She wanders through darkness in the convent.
  10. But here’s the thing
  11. she doesn’t evolve into a problems solver or heroine
  12. The book ends abruptly leaving me hanging in mid-air.
  13. Weak point: too much description
  14. no irony, complexity, nuance, depth
  15. ….it’s all surface.
  16. But when you start writing…sometimes surface is enough.
  17. Strong point: the blurb was better than the book!
  18. #NotBad…
  19. But also…#NotGreat