Giveaway: With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan

I’m delighted to be able to offer you the chance to win With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan. With My Little Eye is a fascinating biography by Sandra Hogan of a suburban Australian family of spies. READ MY REVIEW HERE, then enter below.

Courtesy Allen & Unwin

I have 1 print edition of

With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan

to giveaway to one lucky Australian resident.

Please leave a comment on this post and then


Congratulations Kate C

*PLEASE NOTE: Only Australian residents are eligible to enter*

Entries close 20th February 2021

The giveaway will be random drawing on February 21st and the winner will be notified by email within 48 hours


Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Review: With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan

Title: With My Little Eye

Author: Sandra Hogan

Published: 3rd February 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read February 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin


My Thoughts:

With My Little Eye is a fascinating biography by Sandra Hogan of a suburban Australian family of spies.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was formed in June 1949 by then Prime Minister Ben Chiefly in response to the discovery through a series of decoded Soviet cables—known as the Venona intercepts—that Soviet spies were active in Australia. During its formative years ASIO’s main focus was on finding and breaking the Russian spy ring, in an operation known as ‘the Case’.

Dudley Doherty, a former supply clerk in the Australian army, was one of the first ASIO officers, joining the agency in November 1949. His new bride, a secretary at the time, joined him at Algincourt, the NSW building that housed ASIO headquarters, in 1950, transcribing intercepted telephone calls. Later that year, the young couple became essential players in Operation Smile, ASIO’s first covert bugging operation. Housed in the apartment above Fedor Nosov, who represented Soviet news agency TASS, Joan’s job was to listen and transcribe any conversation from the flat below, usually accompanied by another officer, while Dudley continued his work elsewhere.

Mark (b. 1951) and Sue-Ellen (b.1953) were born in that same apartment, and though Joan officially resigned from ASIO in late 1953, she continued to assist her husband with his duties when he was transferred to Brisbane, which included hosting former Russian intelligence agents turned defectors, Captain Evdokia Petrov and husband Colonel Vladimir for two months as a safety precaution during the 1956 Olympics held in Melbourne.

“In Brisbane… Joan kept house and raised her children [Amanda was born in 1958] while Dudley went out to work – just like all the other housewives. Except Joan was training her kids in espionage and keeping a careful watch on her neighbours.”

While most intelligence officers keep their work secret, often even their spouse are unaware their partner is a spy, Dudley and Joan ran a ‘family operation’. From birth they were props as their mother eavesdropped in cafe’s, or their father took photos of them at parades. The children were taught to look for people or cars that may be out of place, to recall details of faces and places, to memorise number plates, and never draw attention to themselves. Their parents made many of these activities seem like fun, and Hogan details some of the ‘games’ the family ‘played’, but spy craft is a serious business, and in the Doherty family, work always came first. There were a lot of rules, the most important of which was to maintain secrecy. The children could never question their father, nor his orders, and could not talk about any activity outside of the family.

“Forgetting their childhoods had been essential for their survival, but it came at a cost.”

For Sue-Ellen life as a child spy was complicated, though she proved to have an excellent observation skills and memory, she was not suited to the introverted life. Though she, like her siblings, adhered to the family rules, she resented the many secrets she was forced to keep, despite always being inordinately proud of her father. His sudden death from a heart attack in 1970 when Sue-Ellen was 17 left her devastated. Absent from the family home at the time, Sue-Ellen became convinced her father had not died but had simply gone into deep cover for some undisclosed mission, a belief she held until in her late forties, despite all evidence to the contrary.

It was then that she began to search for information about her father, hoping to learn more about him and make some sense of her childhood, eventually approaching journalist Sandra Hogan for help. Hogan met with Sue-Ellen several times, however information and provable facts were hard to find so the project stalled. It wasn’t until 2011 when ASIO commissioned a book to detail the official history of the organisation (The Spy Catchers pub. 2014), for which Sue-Ellen’s mother, Joan, was interviewed, that Sue-Ellen began to make peace with her childhood.

“When something cannot be talked about, it is hard to believe it’s real. Now there was no doubt about it.”

With some of the secrecy veil lifted, Sue-Ellen and her siblings, who were finally able to talk more freely about their childhood, and gain a fuller picture of the man who was their father. Hogan draws on these conversations, Joan’s memories, interviews with the few of Dudley’s contemporaries still alive, declassified documents and relevant public sources to tell their extraordinary story.

There are flashes of humour in this unusual biography, but I most often found it rather poignant. With My Little Eye is a fascinating account of an unusual family, and their unique role during the infancy of ASIO.


Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Click below for your chance to win a copy! 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon

Linking to: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? at BookDate; Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer; and the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz




Ughh I got sick, not Covid sick, just ordinary cold sick (germs shared by my lovely daughter who works in retail). I spent most of the week with a sore throat/cough/ achy eyeballs/headache and did very little other than feel sorry for myself.

But I did start an Instagram account. To be honest I’m not really a fan, but I figure I should give it a try for a few months. If you want to follow me I’m @shelleyrae_bookd_out I’ll be sure to follow back. I’d also welcome any tips, if you have some to share.



What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

Exit by Belinda Bauer

Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton

With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan




New Posts…

Review: Girls With Bright Futures by Tracey Dobmeier & Wendy Katzman

Review: Exit by Belinda Bauer

Review: The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #1

Review: Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton



What I’m Reading This Week…

Duty always has a price.

When Ivan Novak is shot dead putting out his garbage bins in Sydney’s west, his family wants revenge, especially his father Milan, a notorious crime boss. It’s a job for the second son, Ivan’s younger brother Johnny.

But Johnny loves his wife Amy and their son Sasha. And she’s about to deliver her ultimatum: either the three of them escape this wave of killing or she’ll leave, taking Sasha.

Torn between loyalty to his family and love for his wife, Johnny plans the heist of a lifetime and takes a huge risk. Is he prepared to pay the price? And what choice will Amy make?

The Second Son is a brilliant action-packed crime debut that creates a world where honour is everything, violence is its own language, and love means breaking all the rules.


This is a story about taking a leap of faith

And believing the unbelievable

They say those we love never truly leave us, and I’ve found that to be true. But not in the way you might expect. In fact, none of this is what you’d expect.

I’ve been visiting my mother who died when I was eight.

And I’m talking about flesh and blood, tea-and-biscuits-on-the-table visiting here.

Right now, you probably think I’m going mad.

Let me explain…

Although Faye is happy with her life, the loss of her mother as a child weighs on her mind even more now that she is a mother herself. So she is amazed when, in an extraordinary turn of events, she finds herself back in her childhood home in the 1970s. Faced with the chance to finally seek answers to her questions – but away from her own family – how much is she willing to give up for another moment with her mother?

Space Hopper is an original and poignant story about mothers, memories and moments that shape life.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster 


An empty house, a lonely shore, an enigmatic, brooding man-child waiting for her return … a trip to the dark lands of Australian Gothic, for readers of Kate Morton and Hannah Richell.

Last night I dreamt I went to Sargasso again …

As a child, Hannah lived at Sargasso, the isolated beachside home designed by her father, a brilliant architect. A lonely, introverted child, she wanted no company but that of Flint, the enigmatic boy who no one else ever saw … and who promised he would always look after her.

Hannah’s idyllic childhood at Sargasso ended in tragedy, but now as an adult she is back to renovate the house, which she has inherited from her grandmother. Her boyfriend Tristan visits regularly but then, amid a series of uncanny incidents, Flint reappears … and as his possessiveness grows, Hannah’s hold on the world begins to lapse. What is real and what is imaginary, or from beyond the grave?

A mesmerising Australian novel that echoes the great Gothic stories of love and hate: Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and especially Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.

Thanks To HQ


Morocco: a captivating country of honor and tradition. And, for these four women, a land of secrets and revelations.

From the twisted alleyways of the ancient medina of Fès to a marriage festival high in the Atlas Mountains, Deborah Rodriguez’s entrancing new bestseller is a modern story of forbidden love set in the sensual landscape of North Africa. Author of The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul and The Zanzibar Wife.Amina Bennis has come back to her childhood home in Morocco to attend her sister’s wedding. The time has come for her to confront her strict, traditionalist father with the secret she has kept for more than a year – her American husband, Max.

Amina’s best friend, Charlie, and Charlie’s feisty grandmother, Bea, have come along for moral support, staying with Amina and her family in their palatial riad in Fès and enjoying all that the city has to offer. But Charlie is also hiding someone from her past – a mystery man from Casablanca.

And then there’s Samira, the Bennises’ devoted housekeeper for many decades. Hers is the biggest secret of all – one that strikes at the very heart of the family.

As things begin to unravel behind the ancient walls of the medina, the four women are soon caught in a web of lies, clandestine deals and shocking confessions . . .

Thanks to PenguinRandomHouse Australia


Thanks for stopping by!

Review: Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton

Title: Before I Saw You

Author: Emily Houghton

Published: 4th February 2021, Bantam Press

Status: Read February 2021 courtesy Bantam Press/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

Before I Saw You is a winsome contemporary novel from debut author Emily Houghton

Badly burned in a fire and deeply traumatised, Alice Gunnersley, can’t even bear to look at herself, and has refused to speak since she woke. Moved into a rehabilitation ward, she insists the curtain around her bed remain closed at all times, but that wont stop Alfie Mack from getting to know the girl in the bed next door. Alfie has been in St Francis’s Hospital for months, recuperating after his leg was amputated due to a car accident. He rarely stops talking, determined to keep both his own, and his fellow ward mates spirits high, and he’s sure if he asks enough questions, Alice will eventually answer.

Told from the alternating points of view of Alice and Alfie, this is very much a character driven story primarily taking place in the one location. It’s focus is on the connection that slowly forms between the two protagonists, both of whom have experienced life changing events but are very different personalities, and therefore have very different approaches to coping. Alice, a workaholic with no family to speak of and only one close friend who has relocated to Australia, used to being alone, has withdrawn further into herself. Alfie, a passionate teacher with loving parents and a large group of friends tries to remain positive by using humour and focusing on the needs of others, despite his private grief and pain.

As their first tentative conversation progresses to a late night sharing of secrets, It’s no surprise that deeper feelings develops between them. That neither know what the other looks like adds a layer of interest to the attraction, particularly since they are both physically scarred, and worried about the reaction of others to their injuries.

I thought Houghton was sensitive to the trauma her protagonists have, and continue to experience. She doesn’t minimise their darker emotions, but neither does she dwell in them, at least until the last 20% or so where the story gets quite bogged down in the self pity of both characters – honest perhaps, but dull reading particularly when whatever sense of anticipation you may have is poorly rewarded if you are expecting a traditional romantic HEA ending.

Though I thought there was a misstep or two with regards to the plot, Houghton’s skilful portrayal of character and emotions in particular meant I found Before I Saw You to be a moving and engaging read.


Available from Penguin UK

Or from your preferred retailer via HiveUK I Book Depository I Booko I Indiebound

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #1


Welcome to the first Monthly Spotlight for the 2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge!

Each month I’ll be highlighting some of the reviews shared for the challenge in the linky.

Don’t forget to link each book you as you read during the year.

I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on Facebook, twitter, or instagram #2020ReadNonFic


In January


At GumtreesandGalaxies, Sharon shares her thoughts on Findings by Kathleen Jamie, “Jamie beautifully captures time and place in immediate, mindful observation, bringing the experience of Scotland, especially wild Scotland to vivid life.”


{Wartime Experience}

Tina at TurnthePage, writes Dispatches, “…is an incredible accounting of a time period about the Vietnam War, told with such descriptive clarity by journalist Michael Herr.”


{Self Help}

#EntryLevelBoss: a 9-step guide for finding a job you like (and actually getting hired to do it) by Alexa Shoen is recommended by Tracey at Carpe Librum, who writes it, “… if your job hunting has stagnated or you need a confidence boost or a fresh approach, #EntryLevelBoss is well worth the read.”



From Jo at BookloverBookReviews “Laura Greaves’ Dogs with Jobs is a wonderful title to dip into, and read a story or two, whenever you are in need of a boost, or simply a healthy dose of perspective. Few hearts will fail to be moved by these stories of loyalty, resilience, dedication and commitment by very special dogs and their humans.”



At Journey and Destination, Carol writes thoughtfully about Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. She regrets she hadn’t read it earlier, she calls it, “…an incredible story”, which she highly recommends.


What will you be reading in February?


In case you missed it

Join the challenge!

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #1

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #2

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #3

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #4

Review: The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell


Title: The Shape of Darkness

Author: Laura Purcell

Published: February 2nd 2021, Raven Books

Status: Read January 2021 courtesy Bloomsbury/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

Set in Bath in 1854, The Shape of Darkness is a atmospheric historical novel from Laura Purcell.

Agnes Darken supports her ailing mother and orphaned nephew with her work as a silhouette artist, but with the growing popularity of the daguerreotypes, she’s finding it harder to attract clients. She is shocked when the local Sergeant calls on her to ask questions about a recent sitter who was brutally murdered shortly after their appointment, and worried that notoriety might attach to her business. Her physician and brother in law, Simon, is quick to assure her that all is fine, but when a second and then third client dies, Agnes fears she may somehow be connected to their deaths. Desperate for answers to both the current circumstances and a past tragedy, Agnes reaches out to a mesmerist Myrtle West and her young half sister, Pearl, known as ‘The White Sylph’ who is said to communicate with the dead.

The Shape of Darkness embraces all the elements of a Victorian gothic tale – a physically and emotionally frail heroine, high emotion, a bleak, wintry setting, murder, and the supernatural. Purcell deftly builds suspense and dread as she develops the plot, revealing dark secrets and making good use of misdirect to ensure the final twist is a surprise.

Fragile and high strung, Agnes has an nervous energy that plays into the narrative. Her suspicions about the connection between the dead and her silhouettes seems fanciful, but her panic is almost contagious as she becomes more certain she, and her family are in danger from an unknown foe. With hints of a tragic background, involving a doomed romance, and a grievous accident, she is exactly what you’d expect as a gothic heroine, except for perhaps her age.

Pearl is a desperately sympathetic character, used terribly by her her half sister, Myrtle. Blamed for her mother’s death during her birth, her father now lays dying gruesomely, a victim of phosphorus poisoning. An albino, eleven year old Pearl is easily envisioned as a medium, but there is an ambiguity to her ability that Purcell exploits, so that you’re never quite sure where the line between this world and the next lies.

Though overall I found it a touch melodramatic for my taste, The Shape of Darkness is evocative, haunting and enthralling.


Available from Bloomsbury

Or from your preferred retailer via HiveUK I Book Depository I Booko I Indiebound

Review: Exit by Belinda Bauer

Title: Exit

Author: Belinda Bauer

Published: 2nd February 2021, Atlantic Monthly Press

Status: Read February 2021 courtesy Atlantic/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

Belinda Bauer’s Exit is a delightful, offbeat murder mystery novel.

“Felix Pink found the predictability comforting – even if the predictable outcome was death.”

Seventy-five year old Felix Pink is an ‘Exiteer’, a volunteer with a secret group that aids, but does not assist, terminally ill people to end their own lives. A minor breach in protocol by Felix’s new partner, Amanda, seems innocent enough until they discover that they have in fact witnessed the death of the wrong man.

What follows veers between tragedy and comedy as Felix tries to understand how such a mistake could have been made. It soon becomes clear that the Exiteer’s were set up, but by who, and why? The answer is far more complicated than one might expect, and I’m loathe to spoil the smart twists of the plot that implicates more than one person.

Felix is a charming protagonist, he lives with his dog Mabel, enjoys puzzles, and considers himself boring but steadfast. The loss of both his wife and son is his motivation for joining the Exiteers and he believes he is doing important work. When he realises a mistake has been made he is horrified, eager to protect his partner, the group, and make to amends.

There are several other characters of importance to the story including the Exiteer’s group leader, Geoffrey, Amanda, the family of the dead man, and the investigating officers, DCI Kirsty King and DC Calvin Bridge who astute readers may recognise from Bauer’s previous works.

This is a well crafted tale with a unique hook. Witty, clever and engaging, I really enjoyed Exit.


Available from Atlantic Monthly Press

Or from your preferred retailer via Indiebound I Book Depository I HiveUK I Booko I Amazon

Review: Girls With Bright Futures by Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman

Title: Girls with Bright Futures

Author: Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman

Published: 2nd February 2021, Sourcebooks Landmark

Status: Read January 2021 courtesy Sourcebooks/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

“…as long as you had the money and status to back you up, every line was made to be crossed.”

When Stanford alerts the elite Elliot Bay Academy it only has only one early offer place for its graduating students, the competition for the slot quickly spirals out of control. Tech mogul Alicia is determined that her daughter, Brooke, will attend Stanford no matter the cost, Kelly will do anything to ensure her daughter Krissie will be the chosen one, while Maren, with none of the advantages of her wealthy rivals, and her job as Alicia’s PA on the line, doesn’t know how to tell her daughter, Winnie, that her Stanford dream is over.

With excellent pacing Girls With Bright Futures unfolds over two timelines and from three perspectives. It begins with a prologue which reveals one of the three Stanford hopefuls has been the victim of a hit and run, and then moves to a few weeks prior as Maren and Winnie are being informed by the school’s college counselor that Winnie needs to rethink her application to Stanford. It’s immediately clear to them both that while Winnie is the strongest academic candidate, Brooke has the edge because of her mother’s wealth and status. While Winnie isn’t willing to back down, Alicia has made it clear to Maren that should Winnie compete with Brooke for the spot, Maren will be fired, and renege on a secret deal that provides financial support for Winnie’s schooling. Meanwhile Kelly, PTA President and Stanford alum, whose daughter is perpetually in 2nd place to Winnie, and is not quite wealthy or powerful enough to compete with Alicia, attempts to topple Krissie’s rivals with gossip and innuendo.

With my own daughter having graduated highschool last year, I am so glad for the far more egalitarian higher education system in place here. While the authors insist that the events in this novel are an exaggerated, they seem all too plausible given recent, and past events in the US news. Some parents have already proved they are willing to do anything to ensure their precious offspring has every advantage, and when they can’t earn it, they are willing to pay, manipulate, or even kill (hello Texas Cheerleader Mom) to ensure it.

Alicia Stone is a character you love to hate, selfish and entitled she wields her privilege without mercy. Her behaviour is repetitively appalling, there is more than one instance in which she takes advantage of Winnie, and as Maren’s employer she is endlessly demanding. Brooke is an extension of her ego, rather than a person in her own right.

As for Kelly, her whole self is invested in her children’s achievements and while she definitely crosses the line, at least she recognises there is one.

Naturally it’s Maren that attracts the most sympathy, a single mom doing everything she can to support her bright daughter but caught in a difficult situation, given her reliance on her employer. And is if that’s not enough, she is totally blindsided when her rivals machinations dig up a painful secret from her past.

For me, the authors struck just the right note with Girls With Bright Futures. I found the pace to be addictive, the drama wickedly entertaining, and the epilogue hugely satisfying.


Available from Sourcebooks

Or from your preferred retailer via Indiebound I Book Depository I Booko I Amazon

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon

Linking to: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? at BookDate; Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer; and the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz




The weather here has been revolting, hot and ridiculously humid. As I write this, even though it’s 11pm on a Sunday night, it’s still 27C (81F) with 95% humidity.

My boys go back to school this week, the oldest is now in Year 11, and is loaded up on courses so has a busy year ahead, while my youngest is in Year 10. It’s going to be a little strange to have just two children at school. Aleah doesn’t start university til March 1st so she is still home for another few weeks before she moves onto campus. She’ll be sharing a villa with four others, we’ve been busy collecting the bits and pieces she’ll need for her room, and it’s self catering so she needs kitchen things too. If you’ve sent a child to college, are there any ‘must haves’ we should have on the list?

I don’t have any particular plans coming up, other than the usual. Having binged The Closer last week, this weeks late night viewing is Major Crimes. What are you watching?



What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…


The Push by Ashley Audrain

Girls With Bright Futures by Tracy Dobmeier & Wendy Katzman

Relics, Wrecks and Ruins by Aiki Flinthart

The Shape of Darkness by Leah Purcell



New Posts…


Review: The Women & the Girls by Laura Bloom

Review: Adult Virgins Anonymous by Amber Crewe

Review: The Push by Ashley Audrain

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #4 -Wartime Experiences, Inventions and Published in 2021

Review: Relics, Wrecks and Ruins by Aiki Flinthart



What I’m Reading This Week…

Belinda Bauer is “Britain’s most original crime writer” (Crime Scene), one of the few authors in the genre to be longlisted for the Man Booker prize. Now she returns with a heart-pounding, heartbreaking, and often hilarious new crime novel in which it’s never too late for life to go fatally wrong.

Felix Pink is retired. Widowed for more than a decade, a painfully literal thinker, he has led a life of routine and is, not unhappily, waiting to die a hopefully boring death. He occupies himself volunteering as an Exiteer–someone who sits with terminally ill people as they die by suicide, assisting with logistics and lending moral support, then removing the evidence so that family and friends are not implicated in the death. When Felix lets himself in to Number 3 Black Lane, he’s there to perform an act of kindness and charity: to keep a dying man company as he takes his final breath.

But just fifteen minutes later Felix is on the run from the police–after making the biggest mistake of his life. Now his routine world is turned upside down as he tries to discover whether what went wrong was a simple mistake–or deliberate. Murder.

Belinda Bauer continues to redefine the boundaries of crime fiction, with a novel that is part murder mystery, part coming-of-old-age story–however short that future may be. With the compassion and dark humor of Jonas Jonasson and the twisted thriller plotting of Rear Window, Exit is a novel readers will not soon forget.


Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never seen?

Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.

Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbour’s face won’t happen any time soon.

Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. Keeping the curtain around her bed firmly closed, it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?


Detective Sergeant Pierce Ryder of the Sydney Homicide Squad is on the hunt for notorious fugitive Gavin Hutton.

After months of dead-ends, the breakthrough Ryder has been hoping for leads him back to the New South Wales Snowy Mountains on the trail of the suspected killer.

Meanwhile, when an injured man bursts into the remote Thredbo lodge managed by Eva Bell, her first instinct is to protect her daughter, Poppy. The terrifying arrival of Jack Walker turns Eva’s world upside down as the consequences of Jack’s presence become clear.

With a killer on the loose, Jack Walker and Ryder are tangled in the same treacherous web – spun across the perilously beautiful Crackenback Range.


The very funny true story of three children recruited by their parents to work for ASIO in the 1950s.

Growing up in the 1950s, the three Doherty children were trained by their parents to memorise car number plates, to spot unusual behaviour on the street and, most important of all, to avoid drawing attention to themselves.

The children became unwitting foot soldiers in Australia’s battle against Soviet infiltration in the Cold War. They attended political rallies, stood watch on houses owned by communist sympathisers, and insinuated themselves into the UFO Society. In 1956 the Doherty family went on a beach holiday with Vladimir and Evdokia Petrov, the famous Soviet defectors, who were hiding from Soviet assassins.

Dudley and Joan Doherty swore their children to secrecy, and for decades, they didn’t even discuss among themselves the work they did for ASIO.

With My Little Eye is a poignant and very funny account of a peculiar childhood in 1950s suburban Australia.


Thanks for stopping by!

Review: Relics, Wrecks and Ruins by Aiki Flinthart (Ed)



Title: Relics, Wrecks and Ruins

Author: Aiki Flinthart (Editor}

Published: 31st January 2021

Status: Read January 2021 courtesy the editor


My Thoughts:

It’s not often that I respond to a Twitter call out but Relics, Wrecks and Ruins caught my attention for several reasons. Of course I’m always eager to support Australian authors, several of whom are contributors to this anthology, and I’m trying to include more fantasy and science fiction in my reading, but I was also moved upon learning that this was to be the final project for Australian Sci-Fi novelist and the editor of this anthology, Aiki Flinthart, who has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, and that the profits from sales will fund a mentorship program for emerging writers in her name.

Relics, Wrecks and Ruins is an impressive collection of 24 short stories penned by a stellar range of authors including Australian writers Garth Nix, Kate Forsyth, Kylie Chan and international authors, Juliet Marrilier, Jasper Fforde, and Neil Gamain, among others who generously donated their work to the publication. The tales are loosely connected by the titular themes, exploring the relics, wrecks and ruins of the past and future, in this world and others. The stories cover almost every sub-genre of speculative fiction including horror, sci-fi fantasy, and dystopian.

As such, I think Relics, Wrecks and Ruins has something for everyone. There were several story’s that particularly appealed to me from both familiar and unfamiliar authors. Juliet Marrilier’s ‘Washing the Plaid’ is a charming, whimsical introduction to the anthology about a book lover discovering magic. A unique punishment devised by a future society features in 16 Minutes by Jasper Fforde. Fans of Julie Kagawa will enjoy Mary Robinette Kowai’s story, American Changeling where a human/faerie teenager is called upon to save the Seelie Queen. Lee Murray’s The Wreck of the Tartarus sees a submarine full of US sailors caught under a rockfall waiting for rescue. Readers familiar with Mark Lawrence’s Book of the Ancestor Trilogy will appreciate a Red Sister Story featuring Nona, Rulin and Clera called Thaw, and horror fans won’t want to miss Six Stringed Demon, where a rock band fights to exorcise a young boy in a hell of a battle by Sebastian de Castell. Aiki Flinthart has the honour of finishing the collection with a poignant story about birth, death, and humanity’s legacy.

Aiki Flinthart has successfully put together an exciting and powerful anthology with Relics, Wrecks and Ruins. A legacy to be proud of, it has my enthusiastic endorsement.


Available worldwide in ebook via books2read

Or in paperback direct from Aiki Flinthart

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