June Recommended Reads

Tasmanian Recent Release – The Secrets of The Huon Wren by Claire Van Ryn

A deeply moving novel of love and loss set in the majestic mountains of Tasmania’s Central Highlands.

 Senior journalist Allira is writing a story for Folk magazine when she meets Nora, a nursing home resident with dementia and a doll cradled lovingly in her arms. Bit by bit, Nora reveals details about her younger life as a spirited teenage girl living beneath the Great Western Tiers in Tasmania’s heartland, of stitching linings into coffins, of her illicit romance with a charming Polish-German migrant, and of a family torn apart by heartbreak.
As the two women form an unlikely friendship, Allira becomes helplessly drawn into the old woman’s story. When Allira opens up to Nora about her own recent tragedy, the secrets embedded in the story of a carved Huon pine wren become the key to a life-changing discovery from the past. It is a revelation that finally fills in the missing pieces of Nora’s history and has the power to set them both free.
Set among the picturesque mountain ranges of Tasmania’s Central Highlands, and moving between the 1950s and the present day, The Secrets of the Huon Wren is a lyrical and highly evocative story about two lives connected by a shared tragedy, and a universal love.

‘A mesmerising tale of love, heartache and healing … I laughed, I cried, I was totally swept away.’ – Sandie Docker

‘Two women. Two journeys. A tender, powerfully wrought telling of love and loss before the high mountains and rolling hills of Tasmania’s rural north-west.’ – Robyn Mundy

Australian Recent ReleaseThe Days Toppled Over by Vidya Madabushi

The most unexpected friendships really can transform your life.

Malli is unable to speak outside her own home. The highlight of her life is a weekly phone call with her younger brother, Surya, who is studying in Australia. When Surya misses their call for the first time, Malli’s quiet life is thrown into disarray.

Seeking answers online, Malli is grateful when a user on a missing persons forum, Nayan, offers his assistance. As days pass without news, Malli decides she must travel to Australia to find out what has happened to Surya. The unconventional and outspoken Nayan accompanies her.

In Sydney, student life is more precarious than Surya had imagined. At the restaurant where he lives and works, Surya endures squalid living conditions and abysmal pay, in pursuit of the elusive work visa that will allow him to stay in the country. But then a racist customer sets off a chain of events that will see Surya commit a reckless act of love, risking everything for which he has worked so hard.

Set between Bangalore and Sydney, The Days Toppled Over is a powerful exploration of mental health, family and the lives of international students in Australia. With a rich sense of place, a memorable cast of characters, and a good dose of humour, it illuminates how we all need friends and contact with other humans – and how these simple things can result in transformation.

‘Tender, arresting and uplifting.‘ – Shankari Chandran

 ‘Vidya Madabushi’s lively debut flits between Surya and Malli’s narration as we follow her journey to Sydney to find him – and learn from him what has happened. With vivid characters and big heart, it speaks to the precarious existence of international students: a skyrocketing demographic seen as cash cows by a country which is leaving them hungry, homeless and at risk.’ – Steph Harmon, The Guardian

 Kids Recent Release: Play Like a Girl: Totally Epic by Jo Stanley

ROCKIN, OUT! Play Like A Girl is a celebration of Aussie girls kicking goals in the sport they love! This trailblazing new series is proudly brought to you in partnership with the AFLW.Written by radio personality Jo Stanley with humour and fun, Play Like A Girl weaves the ordinary world of young girls with the thrill and excitement of AFL. Each book focusses on one girl and her experiences playing footy and her general life of friends, school, hanging out at the shops, and being a good sport. The football, essentially, is the scaffolding of the books, but they’ll be relatable to all readers, regardless of whether or not they’re footy mad (or just joining in the zeitgeist).The series begins with the coming together of the new Millsborough West Youth Girls Football Team. The Flyers will bring 18 girls together, from different schools, different backgrounds and with differing skills and footy experience, all under the kind but eccentric leadership of their coach Shawna McKinnon, whose team building and training methods seem weird and often hilarious to the girls. The Milly West Flyers are a true reflection of the suburb they live in. Of the 18 that join to make up the full side, 6 girls bond quickly, and it’s these 6 girls that the series focuses on. Each book is told from the perspective of one of these 6, all with a very different take on footy.

‘Great short novel for girls and boys alike.’ – Julie, Goodreads

‘This is one of the great sports stories of all time. I just loved it, and reading it to my son was awesome.’ – Oliver, Goodreads

Tasmanian Classic – The World Beneath by Cate Kennedy

Once, Rich and Sandy were environmental activists, part of a world-famous blockade in Tasmania to save the wilderness. Now, twenty-five years later, they have both settled into the uncomfortable compromises of middle age – although they’ve gone about it in very different ways. About the only thing they have in common is their fifteen-year-old daughter, Sophie.

When the perennially restless Rich decides to take Sophie, whom he hardly knows, on a trek into the Tasmanian wilderness, his overconfidence and her growing disillusion with him set off a chain of events that no one could have predicted. Instead of respect, Rich finds antagonism in his relationship with Sophie; and in the vast landscape he once felt an affinity for, he encounters nothing but disorientation and fear.

Ultimately all three characters will learn that if they are to survive, each must traverse not only the secret territories that lie between them but also those within themselves.

‘In elegant, fluidly written prose, Kennedy not only delivers scathing portraits of the ineffectual adults and the times that shaped them, but also makes the epic wilderness another vividly rendered character in the story. A gripping debut.’ – Booklist

‘Kennedy’s wilderness is the freezing, rain-soaked Tasmanian mountains, with their blazing red fagus trees and bizarre, secretive wildlife. It’s a bewildering heart of darkness. . . . [A] bracing, unsentimental, and often very funny full-length debut . . . [that follows] the spiky, uncompromising Sophie, forced to find reserves of strength and forgiveness for her two infuriatingly childlike parents.’ – The Guardian

‘Cate Kennedy, celebrated for her short fiction, this year began her long-distance career with The World Beneath. To my mind, she enters the stadium a hundred metres in front of the next novice and with the best time for many years.’ – Peter Temple, The Age