Ruth Starke

Books of the Year 2016

Sheila Fitzpatrick et al.
23 November 2016

Originally published in German, Albrecht Dümling’s The Vanished Musicians: Jewish refugees in Australia More

Ruth Starke reviews four recent Young Adult novels

Ruth Starke
25 May 2016

Summer Skin (Allen & Unwin, $19.99 pb, 347 pp, 978192526-6924) by Kirsty Eagar, a raunchy romance for older readers, is set in the halls of residence ...

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Books of the Year 2015

Robert Adamson et al.
23 November 2015

Jennifer Maiden's The Fox Petition: New Poems (Giramondo) conjures foxes 'whose eyes were ghosts with pity' and foxes of language that transform the world's headlines

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Ruth Starke reviews 'Pieces of Sky' by Trinity Doyle, 'The Pause' by John Larkin, 'Frankie and Joely' by Nova Weetman, and 'Talk Under Water' by Kathryn Lomer

Ruth Starke
29 October 2015

In Trinity Doyle's Pieces of Sky (Allen & Unwin, $16.99 pb, 290 pp, 9781760112486), it has been eight weeks since Lucy's older brother Cam drowned while surfing. Images of his death fill her head and prevent Lucy, a backstroke champion, from returning to the pool. She suffers a panic attack and flees from a training session, unable or unwilling to expla ... More

Reading Australia: ‘The Gathering’ by Isobelle Carmody

Ruth Starke
03 June 2015

My postgraduate student frowned. ‘The Gathering? Isn’t that the one where someone sets a dog on fire?’ Spoiler alert: indeed it is. It is the book’s most memorable scene; it is certainly the most horrific. My postgrad had read Isobelle Carmody’s 1993 novel in high school and that was the first memory of it which surfaced. The scene shocked readers a ... More

Ruth Starke reviews 'Standing on the Shoulders of Giants' by Mark Rafidi

Ruth Starke
27 March 2015

‘When I think about picture books,’ writes Mark Rafidi in the first line of his foreword, ‘the words of the young girl in David Legge’s Bamboozled strikes [sic] me immediately.’ What strikes me immediately is that Standing on the Shoulders of Giants is a book that hasn’t been properly edited. By the time I reached the final page I wondered ... More

Ruth Starke reviews 'South of Darkness' by John Marsden

Ruth Starke
29 October 2014

It is sobering to think that the thousands of teenagers who in 1987 eagerly devoured John Marsden’s first novel, So Much To Tell You, and sent it and the author spinning into bestsellerdom are now in their forties – and as such, the target readership for his first adult novel, South of Darkness, a transportation saga that covers some familiar groun ... More

Ruth Starke reviews new titles in Children's Fiction

Ruth Starke
27 August 2014

Anybody who knows a little about the role played by Australian horses in World War I will know that the story did not end well for the horses: 136,000 left these shores, and one returned. Readers of Morris Gleitzman’s Loyal Creatures (Viking, $19.99 pb, 160 pp, 9780670077427) who are unaware of this statistic might be in for a shock.

At the outbreak ... More

Ruth Starke reviews new titles in Children's Fiction

Ruth Starke
28 February 2014

On the back of John Marsden’s new novel there is this warning: ‘This book is not a fantasy. It contains no superheroes, wizards, dragons, time-travel, aliens or magic.’ If it had also said, ‘and it is not part of a series’, I would have cheered even louder. At least I hope The Year My Life Broke (Pan Macmillan, $12.99 pb, 171 pp, 9781742613352) is a ... More

Ruth Starke reviews new titles in Children's Fiction

Ruth Starke
30 September 2013

You think you know what Jackie French’s Refuge (Angus & Robertson, $15.99 pb, 261 pp, 9780732296179) is going to be about, with its front cover photograph of a young boy, his dark eyes full of apprehension and sorrow. You still think you know when the refugee boat carrying the boy, Faris, and his grandmother, Jedda, to Australia is swamped by a hu ... More

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