Book Review Girt David Hunt


Girt. No word could better capture the essence of Australia…

Girt. No word could better capture the essence of Australia…

In this hilarious history, David Hunt reveals the truth of Australia’s past, from megafauna to Macquarie – the cock-ups and curiosities, the forgotten eccentrics and Eureka moments that have made us who we are.

Girt introduces forgotten heroes like Mary McLoghlin, transported for the crime of “felony of sock”, and Trim the cat, who beat a French monkey to become the first animal to circumnavigate Australia. It recounts the misfortunes of the escaped Irish convicts who set out to walk from Sydney to China, guided only by a hand-drawn paper compass, and explains the role of the coconut in Australia’s only military coup.

Our nation’s beginnings are steeped in the strange, the ridiculous and the frankly bizarre. Girt proudly reclaims these stories for all of us.

Not to read it would be un-Australian.


Girt by David Hunt is a different approach to presenting the history orfAustralia. There has been an incredible amount of research done by the author but, unfortunately, the style did not resonate with us. We found the writing to be demeaning, negative, flippant and condescending. In an attempt to be comedic or ironic, we felt the author trivialised women and gave no dignity to the people who forged our society. The only people who seemed to be presented positively were the ‘currency kids’ who are portrayed as hardworking and healthier than those who went before them, although they didn’t appear to value their own self worth.

The book felt very self indulgent and is not one that we would recommend.

Read by MJ Readers

Book Reviews

Take a look at all the amazing books our book clubs have been reading!

One Life: my mother’s story – Kate Grenville


While Nance did not think she led an exceptional life, she did exceptional things in her time.  From living more of her earlier years away from her family to getting an education, attending university, graduating, and then training to be a pharmacist; Nance then went on to open and operate two pharmacies successfully at a time when many believed a woman’s place was in the home.  Which Nance also did, raising 3 children and laying the bricks to build their family home. 

Kate Grenville writes a beautiful tribute to her mother.  It was a beautiful snap shot of what every day Australia was like growing up in the early 20th century, moving to the city, living through war and depression.  We really enjoyed this book.  We loved seeing the old photos, putting faces to the names mentioned in the story.    


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When She Was Good by Michael Robotham


Another great read from this author!  This is the second book in Cyrus Haven series, and we could not wait to read this one. 

When She Was Good, sees Cyrus looking for the person who found Evie. We find out how she ended up in a secret room of an abandoned house in the aftermath of a terrible crime.  But is he exposing her to more danger.  Should he be leaving well enough alone?

This one has us turning pages eagerly again as the narrative flicked between Cyrus and Evie.  Some parts were a little difficult to read, however, the author had us gripped to the end as the all pieces fell into place.  Wonderfully written. We love the main characters, Cyrus and Evie, and even the side characters too; Lennie, Sascha, the kids at Langford Hall and Poppy.  Would definitely recommend this one.  Made for a great holiday read. We can’t wait to read the next book in the series. 


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The Nowhere Child – Christian White


Quite an interesting psychological thriller however we felt there were too many separate threads that weren’t woven together very well.

A balancing act between hemispheres and cultures, cults and some unbelievable characters.

A good first effort!

Read by Dundas Readers

The Spy and the Traitor by Ben MacIntyre


The Spy and the Traitor is a true story about a Russian double agent, Oleg Gordievsky, who worked successfully against the KGB in the 1970s and 1980s.

Oleg was born into a staunch KGB family and was following in his family footsteps when he was approached by MI6 to spy for them against the Russians. Oleg had experienced the effect of the KGB on his family, the KGB as an organisation, the building of the Berlin Wall  and the Prague Spring, and had begun to question his allegiance.

This is a fascinating exploration into life in Russia, the workings of the KGB, MI6 and the CIA. His handling and eventual escape from Russia leave the readers on the edge of their seats. The information he provided on the KGB mindset for the UK and USA influenced world politics and policy. He opened the west to the inner workings of Russians, their paranoia and weaknesses.

His duplicity and defection eventually cost him all he loved. It was a high price to pay but hopefully, his sacrifice helped create a better world.

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The Railwayman’s wife – Ashely Hay


This novel by Australian writer, Ashley Hay, is set in the beautiful little seaside town of Thirroul just after the second world war. The main character Ani Lachlan lives with her beloved husband Mac, a Scotsman, and her ten year old daughter Isabel. Their happy and settled existence is shattered when Mac is killed in a shunting accident at work. Ani’s grief is profound but she must provide a stable home for Isabel and when offered a job at the Thirroul library she takes it. The job, the love for her daughter and the beauty and peace of her seaside home, help her reintegrate into the community as a widow.

Two other characters returning after the war suffer grief of a different kind (called shell shock in veterans at the time). Roy, a quiet retiring man is an ex school teacher and an aspiring poet and his friend Frank is a GP. They are both struggling to come to terms with normal life after the horrors of war. Roy meets Ani in the library and they develop an unspoken fondness for each other fostered through a shared love of writing and reading.

Hay writes with such a light touch evoking grief ad melancholy in her characters while also leaving the reader with a sense of hope. Integral to the power of this haunting story is the sense of place which is where D.H. Lawrence wrote ‘Kangaroo’. Hay grew up in this area and her love for it’s beauty is eloquently expressed.


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Book Review Good girl, bad girl

Good girl, bad girl by Michael Robotham


Evie Cormac is a girl without a past. Six years ago, filthy and half starved, she was discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a shocking crime. She had lived for weeks in the murder house, sneaking out at night to steal food, hiding from the ‘faceless men’.  Six years later, still unidentified and given a new name, this same girl is living in a secure children’s home when she launches a court action, demanding that she be released as an adult. Forensic psychologist, Cyrus Haven is called upon to decide if Evie is ready to go free, but he discovers a girl unlike anyone he’s ever met. Damaged, destructive, and self-hating, yet possessed of a gift that makes her both fascinating and dangerous to be with—the ability to tell when someone is lying.
Meanwhile, Cyrus has another crime to investigate – the death of champion figure-skater Jodie Sheehan. The two cases are soon interwoven, drawing him into a world of secrets where nobody is telling the truth and only one person knows who’s lying.


This is now the second book we have read by this author that we have thoroughly enjoyed. The story follows forensic psychologist, Cyrus Haven, 

as he investigates the murder of a school girl figure skater, while also taking Evie Cormac into his care.  While we wanted to find out whodunit, we were equally,

if not a little more, intrigued in Cyrus and Evie’s past.  We loved the way the narrative was split between them, alllowing both side of the story to be told. 

Between the murder and murky pasts of the main characters we were turning pages, eagerly trying to find out more about Evie and how she came into Cyrus’ care. Wonderfully written. Loved all the characters and cannot wait to read the other books in this series.  Definitely recommend this one. Would make a great summer read. 

Read by Cultcha Club

Book Review The Hand That Feeds You

The hand that feeds you by A.J. Rich


I trusted you. This is how you repay me.

Morgan’s life is settled – she is completing her thesis on victim psychology and newly engaged to Bennett, a man more possessive than those she has dated in the past, but also more chivalrous and passionate.

But she returns from class one day to find Bennett savagely killed, and her dogs – a Great Pyrenees, and two pit bulls she was fostering – circling the body, covered in blood. Everything she holds dear in life is taken away from her in an instant.

Devastated and traumatised, Morgan tries to locate Bennett’s parents to tell them about their son’s death. Only then does she begin to discover layer after layer of deceit. Bennett is not the man she thought he was. And she is not the only woman now in immense danger …


This story is a collaboration between two women studying the links between victims and perpetrators with an emphasis on ‘pathological altruism’. The events are based on incidents in the life of a friend who died of cancer. The narrator, Morgan, returns home to find that her boyfriend has been killed and ripped to pieces by all or one of her three dogs. If this sounds horrific, it sets the tone of the book. An endless and complex tale peppered with violence and peopled by mostly unlikeable characters and their dogs. We all thought this to be a salacious and implausible story.

4/10 Read by Dundas Readers

Book Review The Foundling by Stacey halls

This month Dundas Library’s MJ Readers Book Club listened to their first eAudiobook, The Foundling by Stacey Halls.

The Foundling explores families, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood.

Two women from different worlds. And a secret that will change everything . . .

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.


This was our first audiobook and we all enjoyed listening to it. The descriptive writing and characterisations were engaging with power, privilege, isolation, poverty, love and trauma as the key themes. As an example of historical fiction, we each responded differently to how the basic, factual framework was treated. Some felt that the ending in particular was improbable given the time and social mores, others enjoyed the ‘happy ending’, feeling that the characters had developed empathy and understanding. The story touched each of us and led to meaningful discussion.

Read by the MJ Readers Book Club