Books and reading

  • Books and reading

    Deep questions: ‘What Happened to Nina?’ by Dervla McTiernan

    Irish-born Australian author Dervla McTiernan writes gripping crime fiction with well drawn characters and vivid settings. What Happened to Nina? is set in a snowy Vermont winter, and centres around the main character, twenty year old Nina.

    The prologue tells us much of what we need to know about the story. Nina lives with her mum, stepfather and younger sister Grace. She has a boyfriend, Simon Jordan, and they both love rock climbing.

    One weekend they go away to stay at Simon’s family holiday cabin to climb and spend time together. Only one of the pair returns from that weekend away.

    So, what did happen to Nina?

    The narrative takes the reader into the aftermath of crime: the devastation wreaked on a victim and their family, as well as on the perpetrator’s. To a certain extent, the novel keeps us guessing, as both Nina and Simon’s families have different versions of the events that played out that weekend.

    In essence, it is a story of the awful acts that people can commit, and the lies they can tell to avoid responsibility. As readers we are invited to step into the shoes of the main people involved: Nina’s parents and sister, and Simon, his mother and father. How do you move on from tragedy? How can justice be best served? What lengths would a parent go to, to protect their child?

    It also touches on the power of social media to work both for and against victims of crime and their loved ones.

    It’s the kind of crime fiction I enjoy, raising deep questions about human behaviour and asking the reader to reflect on those questions. I found it compelling, the characters believable and in some respects, the events all too familiar.

    What Happened to Nina? is published by HarperCollins in March 2024.
    My thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for an advance review copy.

  • Books and reading,  History

    He put Australia on the map: ‘Flinders’ by Grantlee Kieza

    Imagine being proposed to by letter, then marrying in a small and hasty ceremony, acting on your new husband’s assurances that you would be joining him on his next voyage on a British naval ship; only to learn that you would not, in fact, be granted permission to do so. You bid a sad farewell to your beloved, having been married a matter of weeks. Off he sails, to explore and chart a vast southern continent on the other side of the globe.

    You do not see your husband again for nearly a decade.

    This is what happened to Ann Chappelle, who married Matthew Flinders in Lincolnshire, England, in 1801. To say that her new husband was impulsive and careless, as Kieza describes him, is an understatement. However it is also true that he was a man of his age, ambitious, curious about the world, passionate about science and the sea, keen to venture into the unknown. And there is no question that he adored his wife.

    Reading this detailed and vivid account of the life of an extraordinary figure of Australia’s early colonial history, I discovered some personal links with my own family history. One is that he came from the same part of England from where my paternal ancestors migrated in the mid-1800s, the marshy fens of Lincolnshire. His lifelong mentor, the botanist Joseph Banks, was also born there.

    From an early age Matthew wanted more than a small life in a small village, working as a physician like his father. He was attracted to the sea and inspired by the adventures of Captain James Cook and Banks on the Endeavour, and he joined the navy when he was sixteen.

    He first served under another famous figure, William Bligh, experiencing terrifying battles against the French, voyages to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, through the treacherous reefs of the Torres Strait, to Jamaica and then back to England. In most of those places there were encounters with the original inhabitants, as well as astonishing new sights, sounds, smells and foods, and Matthew developed his charting skills which would become such an important part of his work. It is hard to overstate how much these experiences would have affected a youngster from a small, quiet corner of England.

    He was to have command of his own ships of exploration: most famously the tiny Tom Thumb, on which (along with surgeon George Bass) he explored areas around the Sydney settlement and beyond. Later they circumnavigated Tasmania and proved it was an island, separate from the mainland of ‘Terra Australis.’

    Subsequent voyages took him to parts of the continent still relatively remote today: up the Queensland coast to the furthest reaches of Cape York Peninsula and the islands of the Torres Strait, across the Gulf of Carpentaria to Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, and around the southern coastline of the continent. On these voyages he was accompanied by the famous Trim, the black-and-white cat who became Matthew’s beloved and loyal companion for many years.

    He experienced shipwreck, sickness, injury, thirst and near starvation. None of these deterred his passion for life at sea and for exploration.

    Everywhere he ventured he created charts and kept detailed notes of his observations. It’s difficult for us in today’s connected world to understand that to Europeans at that time, ‘Terra Australis’ was largely a mystery – thousands of kilometers of coastline and a vast interior which was – what? Desert? An inland sea? A network of rivers? No Europeans knew.

    Another significant feature of Matthew’s experiences was the help given to him and his crews by the indigenous people they encountered. Interactions included warning shots from muskets and some occasions that came close to outright armed conflict; but many times the British mariners had help in the form of fresh water, guidance through difficult country, or exchanges of European goods for food.

    Indeed, it is significant that one of the first times the word ‘Australians’ was used, it was to describe First Nations people near what is now called Port Lincoln in South Australia.

    And what of Ann, his wife in far-away Lincolnshire?

    The couple exchanged letters, full of longing and (on Ann’s part at least) occasional exasperation. The wives of British sea captains had to resign themselves to long periods of separation, though for Ann, this was further prolonged, when on his homeward voyage in 1803, Matthew put in to the French-controlled island of Mauritius for emergency repairs and reprovisioning, only to be placed under guard as a potential British spy. Because news from Europe took so long to reach British colonial outposts, Britain and France were again at war, but Matthew had not known of it.

    He was to spend seven long years in captivity of varying degrees of discomfort, before finally being released in 1810.

    He and Ann were at last reunited and set up house together, Ann giving birth to a daughter at the relatively old age (for a first-time mother in the 1800s) of nearly forty-one. Matthew’s health, though, was badly affected by his trials at sea. And sadly, he had to battle with the Admiralty to be given the pay owing him while he’d been imprisoned by the French, and for due recognition for his work in mapping Australia.

    Matthew Flinders died in 1814 from renal failure following years of kidney and bladder problems. He was only forty years old.

    He led an extraordinary life, voyaging through seas and territories previously unknown to Europeans, experiencing many dangers and hardships. He adopted the name Australia for the southern continent he spent so much of his time exploring and he urged the authorities to do likewise.

    The aspect of Flinders’ personality that I most admire, though, is that he was a man whose greatest wish was that his work, his charts and discoveries, would be used for the benefit of science and the greater knowledge of humanity in general, not for warfare or domination. In this, of course, he was disappointed, but he lived his life in the service and pursuit of knowledge.

    Flinders is a finely researched and well-written account of a fascinating figure of Australian colonial history, the man who – quite literally – put Australia on the map.

    Flinders was published by HarperCollins in November 2023.
    My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.

  • Books and reading

    2024 Challenges

    Once again I am signing up to reading challenges for the coming year, as a way to add to my reading diet and explore new areas of knowledge and understanding.

    In 2024, I will take part in these challenges:

    • Non Fiction Reading Challenge
      My goal is to become a ‘Non Fiction Nibbler’, reading 6 books from any 6 of the 12 categories (details about the challenge, hosted by Book’d Out, here)
    • Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
      Of course! I’m aiming for the ‘Mediaeval’ level of 15 books.
      This one is hosted by the Intrepid Reader. Sign up and find out more here.
    • Books by First Nations authors
      This one is my own personal challenge, not an official one. I’m aiming for 6 books by Australian (or other) First Nations authors.
    • Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge
      Hosted by Carol’s Notebook (check out the blog here)
      This is a new one for me; I’m having a go for fun, as I do enjoy a good crime/mystery read.
      The challenge also includes thriller/suspense/true crime books.
      I’m aiming to become an ‘Amateur Sleuth’ by reading between 5 – 15 books in these genres.

    So, that’s my reading sorted. Oh, and add the book group choices already programmed for the year, plus ones I review for publishers…I’ll be behind a book somewhere if you need me.


    Have you joined a reading challenge or reading group, and if so, did it help you to expand your reading repertoire?

  • Books and reading,  History

    Why I am a feminist: ‘Normal Women’ by Philippa Gregory

    Where to begin with this huge, sweeping non-fiction book? Perhaps with the title. In an interview I heard with the author (best known for her historical fiction featuring British royalty like the Plantagenet and Tudor women) she said that she wanted to write about the full gamut of women across 900 years of British history – from royal and aristocratic to peasant women. Because, at the times in which they lived, these were ‘normal’ women, doing what queens, noblewomen, tradeswomen and artisans and peasant farming women did.

    I found that a compelling argument; more so since reading this grand work of research and narrative.

    Why am I interested in the history of British women?

    Apart from the fact that I inherited my fascination with history from my mother; as an Australian woman whose ancestors were almost all from England, Ireland or Scotland, the history of Britain and its women is also my history.

    Also, my interest in family history is particularly focused on the women in my family tree, the people about whom it is most difficult to find information and records that extend beyond birth and baptism, marriage and babies, death and burial. I want to know what kind of lives they lived, what their likely interests or preoccupations might have been, what big and small events shaped them.

    Ms Gregory sums up her motivation for writing the book as follows:

    What we read as a history of our nation is a history of men, as viewed by men, as recorded by men.
    Is 93.1 per cent of history literally ‘His Story’ because women don’t do anything? Are women so busy with their Biology that they have no time for History, like strict timetable choices – you can’t do both?…
    Women are there, making fortunes and losing them, breaking the law and enforcing it, defending their castles in siege and setting off on crusade; but they’re often not recorded, or mentioned only in passing by historians, as they were just normal women living normal lives, not worthy of comment.

    Normal Women pp1-2

    The book begins with the Norman invasion in 1066 and ends at the modern era, in the 1990’s. In between it examines the lives of women over a range of topic areas, including: religion, violence, marriage, women loving women, women and the vote, prostitution, health, education, work, enslaved women and slave owners, single women, ideas about the ‘nature of women’, rape, sport, wealth and poverty, protest…It’s a huge expanse of information drawn from a wide range of sources.

    In the process the real reason for the beginnings of the gender pay gap is revealed; also how the patriarchal systems of law and inheritance were imported and formalised by the Norman invaders; how accusations of rape were dealt with in the legal system and how this barely changed over centuries; when businesswomen and tradeswomen gained admission to important guilds and how they were later excluded; how a queen became the first woman to publish a book in English in her own name; how women worked together and also against each other; a sombre roll call of women martyrs who died for their religious beliefs during the early modern period and another of women murdered by husband, boyfriend or family member in 2019.

    The author’s skill is evident in the way she has presented a mind-boggling array of historical facts and themes in a compelling narrative, with snippets of the names and stories of women across different circumstances that help to bring them to life for the reader.

    And there are some Oh My God moments. Here are some that stayed with me:

    • Sixteen year old Emma de Gauder holding out against William I (aka the Conqueror) at a Norwich castle for three months and later going on the First Crusade with her husband.
    • Roman Catholic churches in the eight century hosting same-sex marriages (women marrying women) which were entered in the parish records in the usual way.
    • The old Anglo-Saxon word for ‘wife’ meant peace-weavers and ‘spinster’ originally meant the actual occupation (a woman who spun yarn.)
    • The 1624 Infanticide Act meant that women who could not prove that a baby had been stillborn would hang. There was no assumption of innocence and no accusation levelled at the father of the baby.
    • The sentence of death by burning at the stake was still being applied for crimes such as the murder of a husband in the 1700’s. It mattered not how violent, cruel or abusive the husband was. Husband-killing was seen as ‘petty treason’.
    • Forceps for difficulties in childbirth were invented in the 1700’s but kept a secret for three generations in order to increase the profits of the medical family concerned.
    • Housewives living in poverty were blamed for poor sanitation and high rates of disease and child mortality.
    • Syphilis was thought to occur spontaneously in the bodies of promiscuous women (read: prostitutes) and passed on to men.
    • Rape in marriage was thought to be impossible as their wedding vows meant that women gave consent to sexual acts from that time on.
    • The widespread belief (even into the early twentieth century) that women would become infertile if they were more highly educated: to quote from the book, a statement by a neurologist – If the feminine abilities were developed to the same degree as those of the make, her material organs would suffer, and we should have before us a repulsive and useless hybrid. (p460)
    • Male students at Oxford University were so appalled at the proposal that female graduates should be awarded their degrees on completion of their course of study – in 1948 – that they attacked the college residence of women students.
    • and so on and so on…

    I dare any woman to read this book and not be thankful for feminism and the changes it has helped to bring about. But – it also highlights the fact that there is a long, long way to go before we can truly say we have achieved genuine equality for women of all classes, races, religious beliefs and family situations.

    Normal Women is published by HarperCollins in November 2023.
    My thanks to the publishers for a copy.

  • Books and reading

    A very modern whodunit: ‘That Night in the Library’ by Eva Jurczyk

    I’m always a bit of a sucker when I see a book about libraries or even with the word library in the title. And I enjoy a good ‘whodunit’ and crime novels.

    So of course I had to read this one, by Polish born Canadian writer Eva Jurczyk.

    Set in the rare book library of a university, the cast of characters are seven students who gather for a night of (unspecified) ritual and drugs on the night before their graduation. Some of the seven know each other, having studied or worked together, others are almost strangers.

    Why these seven?

    They’ve been hand-picked by the event organiser, Davey, keen to try out a ritual from the ancient Greeks said to banish the fear of death. As these youngsters are on the cusp of their real adult lives and unknown futures, it seems as good a time as any to try something new.

    But within minutes of dropping the acid tabs, one of them drops dead – seemingly poisoned. And then the lights go out, plunging their basement venue into darkness.

    Fear and suspicion immediately overtake the six survivors, each of whom has their own insecurities and problems or preoccupations.

    As with any good whodunit, the death toll climbs, and so does their paranoia.

    That Night in the Library is a little like a cross between Lord of the Flies and Cluedo, with a very modern take on the ‘locked room’ mystery trope. It’s both fun and compelling as the possible murderer and their motive keeps shifting.

    I didn’t completely buy the resolution, however I was very happy to suspend my judgement in order to enjoy a fast-paced mystery with believable young characters. And as always, I did love the library setting.

    That Night in the Library is published by Sourcebooks/ Poisoned Pen Press in June 2024.
    My thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for an advance review copy.

  • Books and reading

    2023: My reading year

    In 2023, my total number of books came to 45 this year, a few more than the previous one. (And I may have missed a title or two in my count.)

    Of these, 11 were non fiction titles, meaning I exceeded my #ReadNonFicChal goal of 6 books, which I am pleased about. Five of these were history (of course!); three biographies (though to be fair, they were all biographies of historical figures, so could count in both categories); two memoirs and one on a medical/health topic.

    Standout non fiction reads? David Marr’s Killing for Country for its truth-telling, and Grantlee Kieza’s The Remarkable Mrs Reiby for its story of a truly remarkable woman who quite possibly rubbed shoulders with an ancestress of mine in early colonial Sydney.

    My historical fiction reads this year numbered 18: no surprise there as it is a favourite genre of mine. My goal for the #histficreadingchallenge for 2023 was 15, so I easily met that one.

    And a personal challenge of mine is to read books by First Nations authors. I have read 4 this year: The Visitors by Jane Harrison, Reaching Through Time by Sheila Bostock, We Come With This Place by Debra Dank, and Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko. All great reads in different ways; I highly recommend them. It’s wonderful that there is now so much First Nations writing being published; it is hard to choose just one to recommend as my annual ‘pick’ for the book group I am part of.

    I plan to participate in reading challenges both online and of my own making again in 2024. It’s a fun way to be a little more conscious of my reading choices and to incorporate some new authors or topics in my reading diet.

    I wish you all a happy reading year ahead, good health and a happy 2024.

    Photo by Abhinav Sharma at Pexels
  • Books and reading

    Australian thriller: ‘Deadly Secrets’ by H.R. Kemp

    It’s refreshing to find a complex, character- and- plot focused novel set in an Australian city, featuring characters not usually encountered in a typical thriller or crime novel.

    H.R. Kemp’s Deadly Secrets is just such a read.

    The setting is Adelaide, regarded by many Australians as a quiet and tame city. This novel digs deep into another side of the city – one that travel companies and city authorities would rather keep out of sight.

    The strapline for Deadly Secrets reads: ‘What unspeakable truths lurk beneath the lies?’

    Shelley, the main character, is about to find out. Initially she is protective of her safe, quiet and ordinary life in Adelaide and her public service career in the Department of Immigration and she can’t imagine stepping outside the boundaries of the expected and accepted.

    When a former client, a refugee who Shelley helped to resettle in Australia, dies suddenly, Shelley is unhappy with the official explanations for the death. When she digs a little deeper, a chain of events is unleashed that changes her life forever.

    In the process she encounters corruption at high levels in politics and corporations, cynical use of misinformation to promote and protect the powerful, but also people determined to shine a light on the murkiness at the heart of power. The novel canvasses modern issues such as asylum seeker policy and the treatment of refugees, the practices of mining companies, and the insidious changes that have weakened Australia’s political, public service and law enforcement sectors. Family, relationships and domestic violence are also part of the story.

    These are all entirely recognisable and believable to anyone who has been following Australia’s political, social and corporate landscapes over the past few decades.

    Shelley is a relatable character: she has a desire to live a more adventurous life but is uncertain of herself and her future. She struggles with the need to hold onto her government job, even when the policies she must implement sit uneasily with her. Her involvement in the action at the heart of the story is not immediate, but we see her gradual transformation as she begins to embrace her own agency and recognise the need to change.

    Place is important: the novel opens in Paris as Shelley experiences her first solo travel experience and is unwittingly caught up in a major protect action on the city’s streets. Much of the novel is set in Adelaide and readers who know that city will enjoy moving vicariously around there as the action develops.

    I ‘read’ this novel via the Audiobook version, narrated by Lisa Armytage, who competently handles the various accents and voices of the cast of characters.

    Deadly Secrets tells a tightly woven tale of crime and abuse of power without the usual car chase scenes (yawn!) bombings, gunfights and male machismo (double yawn!) I appreciated the fact that the ‘heroes’ at the heart of the novel are otherwise very ordinary people, doing their best to make things better. Even better, it’s a team effort – no glorious heroes off on their own. Everybody who counts in the story has moments of bravery, but they must work together to achieve real change.

    Deadly Secrets is independently published by the author and you can read about H.R Kemp and check out her other projects here.

    My thanks to the author for a copy of the audiobook to review.

  • Books and reading

    Luminous: ‘Day’ by Michael Cunningham

    Recently my book group read and discussed Elizabeth Strout’s Lucy by the Sea as a good example of what we might call a ‘Covid novel’ – set during the worst of the 2020 pandemic and examining its effects. Michael Cunningham’s Day is another.

    Well, it is and it isn’t. Yes, it opens on April 5, 2019, and the two subsequent sections describe the same day in 2020 and 2021. So of course, Covid features: the effect of lockdown on a family in Brooklyn, a reminder of the near-paranoia of beliefs and worries because of the virus, the way the pandemic prompted existential musings from unlikely sources.

    But this novel is much more than that.

    It’s a beautiful, sometimes funny, always tender examination of a small group of people who make up one family. In the longest section, set in 2019, we meet Dan and Isabel who, with their two children (ten-year-old Nathan and Violet, five) live in a house which is quickly moving from ‘cosy’ to ‘crowded’.

    Violet’s younger brother Robbie occupies the attic, recovering from a recent breakup with his boyfriend. Violet and Dan have their own preoccupations and the walls of their marriage are starting to crumble. Nathan has the challenges of impending puberty to deal with and Violet escapes into her own world of imagination.

    All is not well for all this family’s members all of the time.

    Then 2020 arrives and they are in lockdown together – except for Robbie, who went to Iceland for a short holiday and is now stranded there in an isolated cabin, writing letters to his family which he cannot post because there is no post office nearby. Despite his absence, he remains a central figure in the family and the novel.

    In 2021 lockdown has lifted and the family has emerged from their cocoon to discover that everything has changed.

    It’s a gentle story with wry reflections on family life, on children, teens, and middle age. I especially enjoyed the dialogue, during which the characters come to vivid life, especially between Robbie and his sister Violet, and also between Robbie and Dan. We hear the inner thoughts of different characters in turn, understanding that the world can appear in many various ways to different people.

    How has Isabel learned to be this person, even if it’s only for the sake of the kids? How did Dan master that voice? They’ve always been improvising, all three of the adults, and as Nathan and Violet have grown older they seem to have willingly accepted the fact that they are neither more nor less than the youngest members of a haphazardly formed crew that goes by the name “family” for obscure legal reasons.

    Day p49

    The pandemic plays a big role but is always referred to obliquely, which is as it should be. This novel is about so much more. If you enjoy character-focused fiction and beautiful prose you will love Day.

    Day is published by 4th Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins, in November 2023.
    My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.

  • Children's & Young Adult Books

    School fun: two picture books for littlies

    School – big school – is a Big Thing in a little one’s life. For their parents, too. So picture books that help prepare and excite very young children about the prospect of starting or returning to school are always welcome.

    From the ABC Books ‘Mindfully Me’ series comes Ready, Set, Big School, (Jan Stradling and Jedda Robaard) featuring the beloved characters from ABC’s ‘Play School’ TV shows. Humpty, Jemima, Little Ted, Kiya and friends practice putting on their school uniform, packing their lunchbox, and making new friends, all ready for the big day.

    When the first day arrives, Big Ted is surprised to find that he also has a funny feeling in his tummy.
    (Parents will relate to that bit.)

    The Crayons Go Back to School (Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers) allows youngsters who are old hands at the school thing to recognise that the end of the holidays means back-to-school. The colourful crayons throw themselves into the routine of school: deciding what to wear, greeting old friends, drawing, writing, doing maths.

    Two books to share and read aloud, perfect to soothe Big School nerves.

    Ready, Set, Big School and The Crayons Go Back to School are published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in November 2023.
    My thanks to the publisher for review copies.

  • Books and reading

    Questioning truth: ‘Reckless’ by Marele Day

    I fell into this book, in the sense of immediately feeling comfortable and keen to read on. The opening pages are like an invitation to come into the author’s lounge room, have a cup of tea and hear her stories.

    This memoir is a collection of stories from author Marele Day’s life, from a childhood of treatments and operations for wandering eye; first romantic relationship and crippling grief when her love is killed in a car accident; to spur-of-the-moment (reckless?) decisions made, which lead her in very unexpected and sometimes unwelcome situations.

    We can probably all look back to our youth and wonder at some of the choices we made then. In this book, the author shares her own What was I thinking? moments. Prominent among them is a voyage by catamaran from Darwin to Sri Lanka, with a skipper and crew mates she had only just met. Perhaps unsurprisingly, as the route covers territory known for pirates, and with few places to safely refuel and replenish supplies, they end up in danger on more than one occasion.

    Why did she do it? There was the sense of invincibility that comes with young adulthood. There was a need to do something very different, to break out from the grief that threatened to imprison her after her lover’s shocking death.  And there was a need to be Elsewhere, to Go with the flow.

    The trip, in spite (or because of) its dangers and hardships, resulted in a friendship with Jean Kay, the catamaran’s owner; a connection which lasted thirty years and crossed continents and oceans. On that fateful voyage together in the 1980s, she realises that there is a lot about Jean that is mysterious, contradictory, or hidden from view.

    Later, she decides to dig deeper into his life, in particular one episode in his chequered career: a heist that saw Jean and three accomplices steal millions from an account owned by one of France’s richest businessmen.

    After that, Jean spent years on the run from authorities, living and travelling under an assumed name. In tracing the events surrounding the robbery, Marele begins to doubt what she thinks she knows about her friend and his past.

    In the process she must interrogate her own experiences, beliefs and values.

    The pages of this book held many moments of recognition for me. The foolishness of our younger selves; moments of quiet rebellion (Jean’s school photo conjured a memory of myself aged 17, annoyed by the photographer’s instructions to students to fold hands the same way, deliberately crossing my hands the ‘wrong’ way in my lap.) The need for regular doses of solitude and quiet. A shared appreciation of words and their power:

    Some words were so potent they could only be whispered, matchsticks that ignited fires. I had no idea what a divorce was, but if Aunty Marjorie was getting one it must have been something special. When I whispered the word to the hydrangea bushes near my grandmother’s front steps, it conjured up a mighty wind. I felt the way God must have felt creating the world. All God had to do was say the word and it was so.

    Reckless p86

    My beliefs about an afterlife are also similar:

    The only certainty I feel on these long walks is this: that our bodies, our ashes, are returned to the earth, to nurture new life. All of us, every living creature, becomes part of the ongoing whole. This is enough.

    Reckless p307

    Reckless is a very readable mix of true-crime investigative writing, personal memoir, and philosophy. It’s like an afternoon spent in the company of an engaging friend who has lived an interesting life and met some memorable people, and is a gifted storyteller into the bargain.

    Reckless was published by Ultimo Press in May 2023.