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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in orangedale's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
3:18 pm

2 - 6 November

is introducing


(New Hope Publishers September 2015)


Jennifer Slattery

About the Book:

Abandoned by her husband, an organ procurement coordinator fighting to keep her job and her sanity encounters an old flame facing an unthinkable tragedy.

For Tammy Kuhn, being an organ procurement coordinator is more than a job. It’s a ministry. But when her husband of sixteen years leaves her for another woman, struggles with childcare, her absentee ex-husband, and an altercation with a doctor threaten her job. Embittered and overwhelmed, she fights to maintain her sanity when a late night encounter with an old flame stirs emotions long since buried but the ICU is no place for romance.

About the Author

Jennifer Slattery writes missional romance novels for New Hope Publishers. Her debut, "Beyond I Do", releases in August. She also writes Christian Living articles for Crosswalk.com and devotions for her personal blog, JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud; Internet Cafe Devotions; and Takin' it to the Streets', a ministry serving Omaha Metro's working poor and homeless.

When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, hanging out at the mall with her teenage daughter, enjoying her real-life hero husband, or serving in her church or community.

My review
This was a new author to me and I enjoyed the read. The story concerns Tammy who is heavily involved in organ procurement. At times this conflicts with her responsibility as a single parent and she struggles to maintain adequate care for the kids while she is on call and still satisfy her boss. The ex-husband Brody is less than useless and manages to rarely turn up when he should.

The other main character is Nick, who Tammy knew and loved at high school. He is also divorced and his wife for much of the novel comes across as manipulative and without any redeeming qualities. That was one of my problems with the book - the Non-Christians all seemed to be portrayed as so unlikeable. In the real world I have met any number of people who may not be Christian but are loving, generous adults, so I struggled a bit with the stereotype. I also found it a bit hard to believe that the teenage daughter’s favourite book that inspired her a lot was Hinds Feet in High Places. Just a little thing perhaps, but it troubled me as it didn’t seem in keeping what what was revealed of Becky’s character.

This is an overtly Christian book, and there are a lot of bible verses, church meetings and talking to God passages scattered liberally throughout. I felt it was a bit overdone, but again that might be my own viewpoint. Others might like it. I admit I don’t read a lot of Christian fiction.

This book could appeal to those who want a light read from a Christian viewpoint. It does raise some issues about organ donation and so the fact that Tammy was involved in such a job interested me. I was happy to spend the time reading it, even though I though the characters lacked complexity and sufficient motivation for some behaviour at times.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel to read and review as part of a blog tour. I have to say I didn’t like the cover and would never have picked it up with that cover. But maybe that’s me. A lot of people will no doubt enjoy this book.
Friday, August 7th, 2015
2:15 pm
One for the very young and one for the young adult

This book puts a twist on the topic of getting children into bed at night. In this fun picture book it is the child trying to get Daddy into bed and Daddy making the excuses. No doubt nearly all parents have heard, at some stage or another, the excuses Daddy comes out with for not wanting to go to bed. Excuses like ‘But I’m not tired’ or ‘I’m still playing’ through to the bath and cleaning teeth exercises, before we get anywhere near the bedroom. Then come the excuses in the bedroom for not being ready to go to sleep.

Author and illustrator Dave Hackett says the story eventuated from one made up for his daughter when she was four or five and embellished over time. The cartoon like illustrations are colourful and suit the mood of the text. You feel the exasperation but mostly feel the love underpinning the rituals in this bedtime exchange. I think this is one that parents and children will find humorous. An enjoyable read.

Now one for YA readers. Will and Summer meet online and strike up a friendship. It starts initially because Summer is living in Will’s home town of Kettering in Tasmania. Summer has not told Will she is deaf, figuring it will not matter as they are not likely to ever meet. But then Will and his Dad move back to Kettering. How will and Summer be able to talk to each other and will he still like her when he knows the truth?

I liked both the characters of Summer and Will and also Summer’s mother and Will’s dad. Tim’s friend Cully is an idiot, or maybe just a typical teenage boy who doesn’t know how to handle someone who is a bit different or the fact that Will has a new friend. Cully causes more than his share of trouble in the novel, endangering Will and Summer.

This story has obviously involved a lot of research. Not only is there a great deal about sign language and being deaf but it is also filled with interesting titbits like the information about Truganini and her people and this shameful story in history.

Though the circumstances are different for Will and Summer, the story showed how two teenagers deal with loss of family members. The majority of the story was handled really well. There were just a couple of examples of the F word and other things that I thought the story could have easily done without and they would not have been missed. It’s a shame those couple of things spoilt was is otherwise a really good read that raises lots of issues about friendship, bullying, disabilities, jealousy and boy/girl relationships.
Monday, July 20th, 2015
11:47 am
Book review



Recognise them? Met them just as the door opened into your calling? Found that not only were events conspiring against you but you were self-sabotaging? Lost your faith and felt betrayed when your dreams fell in on you?

A critical loss of knowledge about the existence and nature of threshold covenants has occurred in the last century. We now longer have any idea how perilous or complex spiritual doorways are. Many of us keep putting ourselves in harm's way and abandoning hope we'll ever step into our destinies.

God's Pageantry is about the obstacles we encounter, the covenants we face and the armour we need to pass over the threshold.

My Review

Being familiar with Anne’s other books I knew I was in for a treat and would end up having my thinking expanded. To start with I liked the way Anne emphasised that the question, ’who are you?’ is not reliant on our profession or our relationship with another. Neither is it about our spiritual gifts. I’ve always felt Thomas gets a hard time by a lot of people and so I loved the way the author brought out not just his doubts but his strong faith. I also liked the parallel drawn between the women at Mount Sinai in the Old Testament and the steadfast faithfulness of women at the foot of the cross. I agree with the lines. ’ Faith is an active verb. Like love.’ I loved the personal stories interspersed throughout and especially that of Toby and the author’s mother and the way she leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions about Toby.

Throughout Anne introduces us to some of her favourite authors with references from biblical as well as other sources and then proceeds to expand her treatise about threshold guardians and the covenant defender. It also helps if as I have, you have read this author’s earlier books, God’s Poetry and God’s Panoply, so you have a better understanding of the author’s thinking and way of investigating a topic. I laughed and could relate to the conversation between Anne and God in relation to the conference she was organising and the outcome.

There is a lot to ponder in this book. It is not a book to read quickly or lightly. It requires an open mind, thought and prayer to fully understand all that is being said. In the end I was left feeling a bit unsettled. That is not a bad thing. It means I will go back and re-read this book. I know when I do, I will come away with a better understanding of all that is being said and what I may need to do to effect change in my life. Thanks to the author I received an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
Thursday, June 11th, 2015
10:11 am

8 - 12 June 2015

is introducing


(Ark House Press)

Jeanette Grant-Thomson

About the Book:

Miraim is desperate. Her mind is a fog of drug-induced forgetfulness. She has forgotten her past, her family, even who she is. But who is the disturbingly familiar girl in the shopping centre?

Enmeshed in Soleternity, a cult in the Queensland outback, Miriam is pregnant. She believes her future - and that of her baby - lies with the cult.

Bronwyn is determined to rescue Miriam. She has not bargained on falling in love with the journalist helping her.

Away from Soleternity, Miriam faces conflicts. Sol . . .Soleternity . . .and now Anna and Christianity. How can she know the truth? Who is to be trusted?

About the Author

Jeanette Grant-Thomson has been writing since she was a child, having short pieces published. Her first book was Jodie's Story (Anzea 1991 and two later editions), followed by two more biographies and two novels. She is a teacher and a writer, living in Redlands.

My Thoughts

The striking cover sets the scene for this interesting novel about a woman who is absorbed into Soleternity, a cult set up in the Queensland outback. Using drugs and hypnosis the cult leaders have managed to make Miriam forget her family and her past.

Greta, another who has gone into the cult, is now questioning much that occurs. Bronwyn, Miriam’s long time friend from her past life, seeks to rescue Miriam and expose the cult. Will she be able to without endangering Miriam? Or will Miriam, who is pregnant, refuse to leave or even become absorbed further into the cult? Miriam needs to find the truth but how can she know what is true and what is not? Who can she trust? This sets up interesting scenarios.

This novel is a bit outside my normal reading but I found it to be an enjoyable read, although at times I get a bit frustrated with Miriam and her willingness to believe all she is told and let people manipulate her. Still that shows that I was interested in her as a character. I also liked Bronwyn, Anna and Steve. Steve is the journalist Bronwyn meets, who seeks to help expose the cult for what it is. The characters are well drawn. I wasn’t convinced the epilogue was necessary, but maybe that’s just me.

Those who enjoy Christian fiction should enjoy this novel. It gives plenty of things to think about.
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015
10:14 am
On Track

On Track

by Kathryn Apel

Published by UQP

paperback RRP AUD $ 16.95

I really enjoy verse novels particularly when well done, as this one is. I enjoyed some of the images, like this of the two brothers who are told by their mum to stay together as they walk the 2 kilometres to school.
‘We do,
but sometimes the road stretches
between us,
wrapped in
our own silent thoughts.

Other times we walk
shoulder to shoulder
throwing words
like footballs:

This verse novel is told in the voices of the two brothers, Shaun who is ‘good at everything’ and Toby who is awkward and who struggles at school and at home. The prospect of Sports Day is for Toby, the worst day of the year. I’m sure there are plenty of kids not good at sports who share that view. But things change for Toby when someone believes in him and shows him what he can do.
The image at Athletics Camp Day One as children from different schools gather, is very telling
mostly, we’re all strangers;
we don’t mix,
stand aloof,
apart –
each in our own bubble
of solitude
waiting for
the ice to
Another image I liked was where Toby says his hands, ’feel like they’re made of marshmallow.’
There is a lot to like in this novel, from its bright cover to the clever use of language as it reveals the two boys and the situation. However, while I liked the idea of the story being told from two voices I thought it was sad to see the relationship or lack thereof between the brothers. It is sibling rivalry portrayed as each boy thinks the other is favoured by their parents. I have never had a brother and I am not the target audience for this book so maybe it is an accurate portrayal of siblings. Plus I was one of those kids who hated sports days, so that made this harder for me to read. That said, this is a great example of a verse novel, the two voices work well and it ends up being a book with a positive uplifting message woven into the story and that has to be a good thing .
Thursday, May 7th, 2015
11:21 am
Using the Imagination

Any Questions?
by Marie-Louise Gay
published by Allen&Unwin
Hardcover picture book
RRP $19.95

The premise of this picture book is interesting. It is taken from the questions asked of the author by children. The author remembers how curious she was as a child and tries to finds a way to answer the children’s questions in an entertaining way. In the process she shares a little about herself but also about the writing process.

The book gives a number of ideas of how a story could start, what might happen and how things might change if another dimension, even to a change of colour, was added. This book lends itself to using the imagination. It even leads into a story about a shy giant.

The water colour illustrations suit the whimsical character of the text. However while I thought this book had lots of positive aspects, the pages at times seemed too busy and the text tending to veer off at too many tangents. In my view, it is not a picture book for parents or teachers to read aloud to children. Rather, this book is designed to help teachers encourage children explore their own creativity and so from that purpose would be a very useful tool. It would be very constructive in a classroom situation where the teacher could take a page or two at a time and use it to spark ideas with their class. Any book that helps children learn to use their imaginations has to be a good thing. It can be used for creative writing and art lessons or learning about jobs as at the back of the book the author answers some of the questions about being a writer.
Monday, May 4th, 2015
9:02 am
The Too Pretty Burden

is introducing

Too Pretty

((Rhiza Press), August 2014)


Andrea Grigg

About the Book:

Being beautiful isn’t easy – just ask Ellie Paxton.

Frustrated by a long string of empty relationships, Ellie makes a promise to God not to date for six months, a promise she’s determined to keep.

Tired of being continually misjudged because of her looks Ellie moves to Sydney for a fresh start. But when her path keeps crossing with the darkly handsome Nathaniel, that promise becomes much harder to fulfil.

As they battle with their attraction for each other, Ellie is not the only one to discover it takes more than simply looking in a mirror to find out who you truly are …

Could it be that God has a bigger plan? Could this really be one of those matches made in heaven …?

About the Author

Andrea Grigg grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, but has lived more than half her life in Australia.

Andrea lives with her husband on Queensland’s Gold Coast, where they have raised their three adult children – two daughters and a son.

Recently retired from teaching ten-year-olds, if she isn’t being a domestic executive or socialising, Andrea can be found in her cave, writing stories.

My review

In today’s world where looks is often seen as the answer to everything, I thought it was an interesting premise to see that being beautiful is maybe not all it is cracked up to be . It can come with decided disadvantages as others judge you because of your looks. Gabrielle or Ellie as she is more commonly known except by her fierce and judgemental Aunt Rita knows what it is to come under that judgement. Her missionary parents are overseas and so are mostly off the scene except for in a minor way.

Having found she was too easily getting involved in romantic relationships where someone ends up getting hurt, Ellie vows to have a six month hiatus from dating to work on her relationship with God. But then along comes Nathaniel. Nathaniel has his own issues and secrets he wants to keep hidden, which complicates matters at times.

As you will have probably gathered from this much, this is a Christian romance, something that is not often my usual reading fare. On the whole I liked the two main characters even though at times they needed a good talking to for their childish behaviour. But who among us hasn’t at times? And I liked the setting which varied between rural Australia and Sydney. The dialogue is mostly clever, witty and revealing.

Those who enjoy a light romance but one that encompasses some deeper issues should enjoy this novel. I did. Thanks to the author for my copy to read and review.
Wednesday, March 25th, 2015
9:49 am
A Curry for Murray
by Kate Hunter
Lucia Masciullo
hardcover picture book
RRP: AUD $ 24.95

This is a charming picture book about food, generosity and being a good neighbour. When young Molly finds out her next door neighbour Maureen has been taken to hospital, she worries about Murray being on his own and left to fend for him. She decides to make him a curry. One page gives the list of ingredients she used. From then on, Molly becomes known as the one to help others in the neighbourhood out with a special dish. As word spreads, Molly ends up making meals for people from further away. Each dish gives the easy to follow ingredients, so budding cooks might see what is needed to make it.

The book shows a variety of different people, some from other countries and a variety of foods. All are simply and colourfully illustrated. Even the local police are recipients of Molly’s cooking skills. The rhymes make this a fun story to read. But it is more than just a fun story with great illustrations. It is a story with heart. I could see this being useful in schools and preschools opening up discussion about foods from other countries certainly, but also about being good neighbours and helping others.

Then comes the day Molly cannot cook, because she has hurt herself. What will happen? While the ending is cute, I would have liked to see a little different ending and a bit more effort from the neighbours rather than the obvious, but maybe that is just me. That small quibble aside this is a fun book with a great message that is not preachy but simply part of the story. I really liked the interaction between young and old and people from different backgrounds. This book deserves to find a home in many libraries and schools.
Thursday, March 19th, 2015
2:19 pm
Place and writing
Just recently I started to read a novel by a Scandinavian writer. I got so far and then gave up because it was so bleak and making me feel depressed. It is something I have noticed before when reading Scandinavian writers. Talking to someone else about it, they found the same thing and they have given up reading books by Scandinavian writers. Their view was ‘I don’t need to be depressed.’ As we talked over this subject it made me wonder if there is something in the landscape that produces such bleak and cheerless writing.

Now I have never been to any Scandinavian countries but I wonder whether these places like Norway that have dark winters and periods where ‘the sun doesn’t make it over the horizon,’ can affect your psyche and therefore the way a person writes. What do others think? Surely place affects our mood and of our mood is affected it will affect the way we used language and the topics we tend to write about.

Years ago the poet Martin Harrison made a comment about the ‘wide blue sky high above in Australia.’ At the time I didn’t understand what he meant. After all isn’t the sky the same everywhere, I thought. Then I went to England and France in autumn and I understood what he meant. The sky, which was always colourless, our photos show me, seemed to sit just above our heads.

So given that we have this wide open sky above, Micah 023 trees that are often more pewter coloured than green, grass that ends up looking like browned hay in summer, cities which though crowded have nowhere near the population of other places, a country renowned for its harbour, its beachesPhoto0730

and its amazing colours Photo0854
how should that affect our writing?

Should colour be an integral part of our writing and should the freedom we have in this country be expressed in literature that brings light and hope? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thursday, March 12th, 2015
2:33 pm
Open House - poetry review
open house

As in any poetry collection, there will always be some poems that strike a chord more than others. Sometimes it is the sheer simplicity of a poem that grabs you. Into this category I would put ‘Autumn Twilight’ which was probably one of the poems that I liked best. ‘August’ is another. Only five succinct lines it is near to perfect. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of other good poems in this collection, as they are.

David Brooks manages to capture small, seemingly insignificant moments well. I often found these and nature poems were the poems I enjoyed best. Another favourite was ‘Mist,’ which is a series of small moments recounted. The rhythm of the poems flow easily. In ‘Indian Mynahs’ I liked the link between birds building a nest and poetry. Others particularly liked included, ‘Driving Home’, ‘Mushroom Season’, ‘Mountain Night’, ‘Wild Ducks’, ‘White Cockatoos’, ‘Windmill’, ‘Apricots’, ‘Eight Miles’, ‘The Landing’, and ‘Swallows’. David Brooks even manages to write poems about cockroaches, stick insects and spiders. Not being a fan of creepy crawlies, I didn’t enjoy those as much, even though I could appreciate the skill in crafting the poems. Having read the one about ‘Spiders About the House’ before and finding it too creepy a subject, I skipped over that one. ‘Tinnitus’ is one that resonated with me and is cleverly done.

On the whole, I tended to prefer the nature poems rather than those with a more cynical or sardonic approach, but that’s just a personal preference. Whatever your preferred type of poetry, you should find something to please in this collection. I have no doubt I will come back and read some of these poems, if not all, again. I was very happy to receive this book of poetry from UQP to read and review.

As in any poetry collection, there will always be some poems that strike a chord more than others. Sometimes it is the sheer simplicity of a poem that grabs you. Into this category I would put ‘Autumn Twilight’ which was probably one of the poems that I liked best. ‘August’ is another. Only five succinct lines it is near to perfect. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of other good poems in this collection, as they are.

David Brooks manages to capture small, seemingly insignificant moments well. I often found these and nature poems were the poems I enjoyed best. Another favourite was ‘Mist,’ which is a series of small moments recounted. The rhythm of the poems flow easily. In ‘Indian Mynahs’ I liked the link between birds building a nest and poetry. Others particularly liked included, ‘Driving Home’, ‘Mushroom Season’, ‘Mountain Night’, ‘Wild Ducks’, ‘White Cockatoos’, ‘Windmill’, ‘Apricots’, ‘Eight Miles’, ‘The Landing’, and ‘Swallows’. David Brooks even manages to write poems about cockroaches, stick insects and spiders. Not being a fan of creepy crawlies, I didn’t enjoy those as much, even though I could appreciate the skill in crafting the poems. Having read the one about ‘Spiders About the House’ before and finding it too creepy a subject, I skipped over that one. ‘Tinnitus’ is one that resonated with me and is cleverly done.

On the whole, I tended to prefer the nature poems rather than those with a more cynical or sardonic approach, but that’s just a personal preference. Whatever your preferred type of poetry, you should find something to please in this collection. I have no doubt I will come back and read some of these poems, if not all, again. I was very happy to receive this book of poetry from UQP to read and review.
Wednesday, February 25th, 2015
11:16 am
Pirate Fun
My Pop is a Pirate

Written and illustrated by the same team that did My Nanna is a Ninja; this is a companion volume with Grandfathers as the focus. It has the same sense of inclusiveness, showing grandfathers or Pops, as they are called, of different types. It has the same light-hearted sense of fun as it looks at how people are different. The cover is colourful and eye catching and the illustrations are clever and fun. I particularly like the pop in green gloves chopping wood but there were plenty of other fun illustrations that perfectly match the playful rhyming text. Another favourite was the pirate pop steering his ship on ‘sharky seas’ and I like the pop racing rally cars.

While it’s good to see grandfathers featured, for me this book didn’t have quite the same attraction of the first book. Even though I enjoyed it, like so many sequels or follow on books it lost a bit of that novelty appeal and felt a little bit flat, but that might be just me. However this will be a good book for pre-schools or schools to talk about families and how people are different and so it should provide plenty of room for discussion. Added to that, the topic of prates is always popular and this should find a ready audience, who will appreciate the humour of the text and illustrations.
Monday, February 2nd, 2015
10:17 am
The Land Unchartered

is introducing

The Land Uncharted

Edenbrooke Press
October 2015


Keely Brooke Keith

About the Book:

Lydia Colburn is a young physician dedicated to serving her village in the Land, a landmass in the South Atlantic Ocean undetectable to the outside world. When injured fighter pilot Connor Bradshaw’s parachute carries him from the war engulfing the 2025 world to her hidden land, his presence threatens her plans, her family, and the survival of her preindustrial society.

As Connor searches for a way to return to his squadron, his fascination with life in the Land makes him protective of Lydia and her peaceful homeland, and Lydia’s attraction to Connor stirs desires she never anticipated. Written like a historical, set like a scifi, and filled with romance, The Land Uncharted weaves adventure and love in this suspenseful story of a hidden land.

About the Author

Keely Brooke Keith, author of the Uncharted series, is a bass guitarist and frequently performs and tours with her husband, singer/songwriter John Martin Keith. When she isn’t writing stories or playing bass, Keely enjoys dancing, having coffee with friends, and sifting through vintage books at antique stores. Keely resides on a hilltop south of Nashville with her husband and their daughter, Rachel.

my review
When you start reading it seems that you have gone back in time to an earlier civilisation. While that is true that the society acts like an earlier civilisation in that it does not have computers and electronic devices etc, the story is actually set in the future in a country simply know as The Land. The time is 2025 but life is very simple. It is largely a place where people help each other and most of the trade is by bartering. Then into this land a man falls from the sky. Lydia Colburn, a young physician see him a fall and goes to help the unconscious man.

She encounters Naval Aviator, Conner Bradshaw who parachuted to the beach when his aircraft malfunctioned. His first thought when he recovers is how to get back to his squadron but will he be able to find a way? What will it mean for the people of this land if he does? Initially I was hesitant as to how I would respond to this book as I am not a fan of science fiction. But I was quickly drawn in by the character of Lydia. She is a strong and likeable young woman. John, Lydia’s father is likeable too and so is Levi, Lydia’s brother, in his own way. Conner is interesting and Frank is a suitably creepy presence. The writing flows easily. It always helps when characters are portrayed well and The Land itself is a character too.

I loved the cover. It reminded me of a place near where I live. But then anything with sea on it is bound to appeal to me. I enjoyed this book although I thought there were a couple of things left unclear. Maybe they will come out in the next book? I thought one aspect of the ending was a little convenient. I received this book from the author to read and review as part of this blog tour and can honestly say, all in all, this is a good book that maintained my interest. I will look forward to the next one in the series.
Wednesday, January 28th, 2015
9:41 am
And the Winner is.......?
Thanks to all who entered the Australia Day book giveaway blog hop. We now have a winner chosen at random out of all the names in a basket by my darling husband. The winner is Stephanie. Congratulations Stephanie. Stephanie has been notified of her win. Once again, thanks all for entering.
Those who didn't win you might like to check out my website www.daleharcombe.com where you will find details of
Kaleidoscope kaleidoscopeand my other novel for sale.Streets cover
Saturday, January 24th, 2015
5:56 am
Australia - My Home
Australia Day means a lot of different things to different people. Someone online recently said to me Australia was ‘their dreamland.’ It is the only place I have ever lived and can’t imagine living anywhere else. Years ago, my husband and I went overseas for a few weeks. When the plane flew back over Sydney Harbour, it brought tears to my eyes. So yes, I love my home land.

This Australia Day I am offering one person a copy of my poetry book Kaleidoscope which features poems about various people, places and aspects of Australian life. You can read more about it on my website http://www.daleharcombe.com and even read a few of the poems on the poetry pages. Sorry, but given the cost of postage this chance to win a free poetry book is only available to residents in Australia. For a chance to win a copy of Kaleidoscope, leave a comment on this blog with your name and email. Winner will be chosen by random. Entries close midnight on Tuesday January 27th.

Also don’t forget to check out other participants in this Australia Day blog hop giveaway for more chances to win books and other prizes. You will find the link to other participating sites in the blog hop here. https://bookdout.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/sign-up-for-the-2015-australia-day-book-giveaway-blog-hop/
Good luck.
Wednesday, January 21st, 2015
9:14 am
Revisit of a Sand Fairy
Somehow in my reading life, I never read E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It, so this was my first introduction to the Pemberton family and Psammead, the sand fairy. The time is at the start of World War 1 and Cyril, the eldest of the Pemberton boys is off to fight. Since the last time the five Pembertons, Anthea, Cyril, Robert, Jane and the Lamb saw the Sand Fairy ten years ago, there has been an addition to the family, Edie. Edie is nine and others in the family are grown up and at uni or art school and off to war. The Psammead is a cranky curmudgeon who has lost control of his magic powers. Only some wishes eventuate since his magic is dicey at best these days and cannot be relied upon. This book also reveals a lot about the Psammead’s unsavoury past and heartless attitudes. He is hard to like and I found this coloured my view of the book a little.it

It seems to me this book by Kate Saunders was deliberately written in a style similar to that of Nesbit’s original story, so maybe it helps to have read that original. However I still enjoyed it. The writing style made it easy to go along with the flow of the story. Some scenes like the museum trip are lively and other scenes very emotive especially towards the end.

It gives a picture of war and of attitudes of the time but in a way that children will relate to and find interesting. It would make a great addition to any library and provide plenty of talking points for classes when dealing with topic like war, food shortages and things that result because of war and attitudes towards various events. Recommended reading for any school dealing with the topic of war. And a little bit of fantasy and magic time travel never goes amiss.
Monday, January 12th, 2015
9:54 am
Two Picture Books

A is for Australia
A factastic Tour

By Frane Lessac
Published by Walker Books
Hardcover picture book
RRP $24.95

From its colourful cover with the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge or the trams of Melbourne trundling around, this picture book is a delight. I like the vibrant colours and the way the book starts with the map of Australia with certain prominent places marked. Each page is filled not only with iconic Aussie images but also with interesting facts, some of which I was unaware of. One was the golf played at night in Coober Pedy with glowing golf balls or the amazing number of species of marine life in The Great Barrier Reef. Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a famous town, city or natural feature such as Lake Eyre, Australia’s largest salt lake.

Even though MCG stands for Melbourne Cricket Ground and the picture shows cricket being played on it, I would have preferred to have see it feature AFL, (Aussie Rules or Australian Football) though our indigenous game does get a mention. And I did think it was a shame that it mentioned koalas were sometimes called bears when they so obviously are not a bear at all. Despite those couple of minor quibbles this is a great book that will help not only those who live overseas but those who call Australia home learn more of our stunning country.

This is a book that every school, library and home should have and that hopefully will encourage a greater love and appreciation of our amazingly unique country and its wildlife. This book is a joy to look at, read and learn from.


I Am Henry Finch
Alexis Deacon
Illustrated by Viviane Schwarz
Hardcover picture book
Walker Books
RRP $27.99
I was expecting to love this book as I thought the idea of using a thumb print to create Henry Finch is was both clever and cute. After reading about this book, I really liked the premise that each person is special. It starts off with the finches in a great flock making a racket. However the next pages became repetitive . Then we encounter the Beast which frightened the finches. By the time it got to Henry Finch thinking and wondering if he was the ‘first finch to ever have a thought,’ I had lost enthusiasm for this book.

The illustrations are quite cute with its limited colour range of mostly red, black and white with a few notable exceptions like the beast that is green. I found the beast rather strange looking and it seemed to me the book was too concerned with pushing a message rather than telling a story. Others seem to have found it inspirational. I did not. While I thought the concept had a lot of potential, overall I was disappointed in this picture book. Thinking it might be just me, I gave it to someone else to read and when they reached the end they looked at me blankly as if to say,’ Oh really!’ Despite its worthy theme, I’m sorry to say it is not a book I would recommend.
Saturday, November 22nd, 2014
1:45 pm
Interview with Teena Raffa-Mulligan
Today I welcome Teena Raffa-Mulligan to my blog. Teenanew
Teena is going to answer some questions about her new book Catnapped cover
Welcome Teena.

Was Oscar based on a cat you owned or knew?

The real Oscar belonged to friends of ours, who had adopted him from the Cat Haven. He was an enormous, marmalade-coloured creature that did little else but snooze and eat all day. I’ve always loved cats and Oscar was such a personality I briefly considered stealing him myself. Instead I created a story around him.

Were you the type of child who couldn’t resist a stray like Nanna Horgan?

Not as a child. My mum was the pet lover of the family and we always had a dog, a cat and an aviary of birds. She rescued injured seagulls, and small birds that had fallen from the nest. Mum tended the chicks in a teacup lined with cotton wool, feeding them with eye droppers until they were old enough to be released.

As an adult, I am definitely a soft touch. I couldn’t resist the gorgeous tortoiseshell and white stray kitten my nephew and his friend brought to our front door, so Bonnie became part of our family. A couple of years later my husband and I were out for a morning walk and as we passed some bushland a dusky young cat rushed from the shelter of the trees and decided to follow us home. He looked like a Russian Blue and I couldn’t believe someone wasn’t desperately searching for him so the following day I returned and door-knocked in the hope of finding his owner. No luck – and Kramer had a new home with us. Then there was Sam…a dachshund with attitude whose owners had decided he was too much trouble and took him to the pound. We already had two geriatric dogs and two elderly cats, but I couldn’t turn him away.

Was Nanna Horgan based on a real person?

Not consciously but I suppose she has a little of me in her, and probably my mum.

What is the best or most exciting news you have ever received? Who did you share it with?

In my writing life, receiving my first acceptance stands out as the most exciting news. I’d wanted to be a writer since my childhood days and was submitting to publishers from my late teens. By the time I was in my mid 20s and married with two small children, all I had to show for my writing efforts was a few letters in the newspaper, some short pars in women’s mags and a lot of rejections for poetry, short stories and picture books. I was on the verge of giving up on my writing dream. Then a letter arrived (it was way before computers, email and the internet) offering to buy two of my light-hearted articles about motherhood. It arrived just before I had to wake my daughter from her nap and pick up her older brother from kindy. I was so excited I pretty much ran all the way to the school, pushing her in the stroller, and laughing along the way. I couldn’t share the news with my husband till he returned home from work that evening because we had no phone so I nursed my good news to myself all afternoon. I did tell my kids, but they were way too young to appreciate the significance of this momentous event in their mother’s life.

What was the easiest part of writing the book?

Coming up with the idea and writing it down. It was going to be a picture book so I worked out most of the story mentally before I picked up my pen. The first draft probably took about 20 minutes. This particular story went through quite a process to become an early reader chapter book and I had a lot of fun getting to know the characters better along the way.

What was the hardest part of writing it?

Adapting it to suit a publishing market. Catnapped started out as a picture book text for junior primary-age independent readers. The publisher I was in contact with at the time liked it but said it wasn’t quite a fit for that genre and they had already contracted a short chapter book about a burglar. I turned it into a short story and submitted it to some magazines, but that version didn’t sell either so I filed it away. Many years later I adapted another unsuccessful picture book manuscript into a short chapter book and it immediately sold. I decided to rework Catnapped for the same market. That meant I had to rethink my whole approach to the story. It needed a young person for readers to relate to because Cass and Elliott are teenagers, so I introduced Jenna as the granddaughter. The would-be catnappers and Nanna Horgan, who was Mrs Maloney in the original story, also needed to be more fully developed, as did all the pets.

Anything else you would like to say about the book?

Only that I hope young people will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Thanks Teena for telling us a little more about Catnapped.
Teena Raffa-Mulligan
* Author * Editor * Workshop presenter

Website: www.teenaraffamulligan.com

My review

This is a fun read. Oscar is a large marmalade coloured cat. Nanna Horgan is one of those people who is a sucker for any stray animal or bird, so she ends up with quite a menagerie at her house. Her granddaughter Jenna offers to look after all the animals while her grandmother goes away for a week to Sydney to take her friend Alice to the opera. But she doesn’t know trouble is afoot as two teenage thieves seek to relieve Nana Horgan of some of her Lotto win by catnapping Oscar.

One of the things I liked about this early chapter book for readers was the loving relationship between Jenna and her grandmother. I loved the humour in this book. Polly, yes you guessed a parrot, was a favourite character.

Young readers should enjoy this book and relate to the central characters and the accumulation of animals. I liked the amusing way the situation was resolved and the way the clue was laid for the resolution early in the book but the reader probably only realises that later.

Told in a natural easy to read style, this book is a great read especially for anyone who is a cat lover and even for those who are not. Illustrations are also cute.

This book could also be used in school lessons or a home situation to talk about family relationships, sharing, caring for animals and making wise choices.
Tuesday, November 18th, 2014
8:55 am

is introducing


Peter McKinnon

About the Book:

Set in the turmoil of social change and political unrest of Australia during the 1960s, The Songs of Jesse Adams traces the meteoric rise of a boy from the bush – a farmer’s son who breaks away to follow his heart, his dreams and his love of music. But, as Jesse travels with his band and the crowds gather, it becomes clear that something else is afoot. This rock singer captivates and transforms a host of fans who hear his songs and encounter his touch.

Lives are changed in unexpected ways and the enigmatic Jesse becomes a symbol of hope and freedom for those on society’s edge. But not all will celebrate the rising tide of influence of this charismatic figure whose words and actions challenge those in power – the media, the politicians, the church. In one tumultuous week this clash of ideals comes to a head – with profound consequences.

Awash in all the protest and collapse of conservative Australia, the colour and madness that was the sixties, The Songs of Jesse Adams is a tale of conflict, betrayal and tragedy, but ultimately the triumph of love.

*Warning this book contains some language that some readers may find offensive*

About the Author

For seventeen years, Peter McKinnon held senior roles in some of Australia’s largest corporations, with a focus on human behaviour and organisational effectiveness. This culminated in his appointment in 1999 as Executive General Manager, People & Culture, of Australia’s then largest financial organisation, National Australia Bank

In late 2006, Peter was approached to head up the global human resources function of World Vision International(WVI), based in Los Angeles. WVI is the world’s largest humanitarian aid organisation, with over 40,000 employees in 100 different countries and countless volunteers working in highly diverse and challenging settings.

When he returned to Australia in late 2009, he committed to pursuing his creative interests more directly and began to write. ‘The Songs of Jesse Adams’ is the result.

Peter has been published in publications as wide-ranging as the ‘Age’, ‘The Australian Women’s Weekly’ and ‘4 x 4‘ magazine and regards winning a Pacific cruise for his writing as his crowning achievement in this field ! He has also written and produced several musicals.

Peter is a qualified psychologist, has studied theology, worked briefly as a minister and served on the Council of the MCD University of Divinity.

He lives in Melbourne with his wife Julie. This is his first book.

My review
Your average Christian fiction this is not. The premise is interesting that of a Jesus like figure, Jesse Adams growing up on a farm, and then leaving in the 1960s to become involved in the music scene and his other ministry. Jesse gathers around him a group of misfits. Although they are his followers, much of the time it sounds like they don’t have much of a clue what is going on and what he is all about. Sound familiar? It ought to as it follows the biblical story of Jesus while at the same time transposing it to scenes like Kings Cross and inner suburbs of Melbourne during the Vietnam era, with its conscription ballot and conscientious objectors. Whenever Jesse is around lives are changes, not always in the way expected. But then Jesse makes a habit of not acting as people expect, which means naturally he has those that oppose him.

The setting and the vernacular of Australia of the time is accurately portrayed. That in itself means this book will not suit all readers. There will be some who will be offended. As far as today’s secular standards go, most of the language is not that bad but it is certainly outside the norm for Christian fiction. So unless you like your Christian fiction edgy, you might decide to give this book a miss. Also the idea of this Jesus like figure in Australian society may not sit well with some people. For the most part, I thought it was a brave attempt and the book held my interest. I like books that make me think and this one did that, although I never really warmed to Jesse and at times I did question some of the scenes. Still, it’s good to see someone trying something that challenges thinking and I found myself having a long think about it before I even attempted writing a review. I’ll be interested to see what this author writes next.
Monday, November 17th, 2014
1:31 pm
Picture Books
The Christmas Rose christmas
Walker Books
Hard cover picture book
RRP $24.95 AU

This is a beautifully presented picture book that combines some of the elements of the traditional Christmas story with a folk tale of the Christmas Rose. The result is an interesting hybrid. The text is gentle and lyrical and the colourful but slightly blurred illustrations are quite lovely. It is a book that focuses on the joy of giving and the most appreciated gifts are not necessarily those that cost a lot but those given with a joyful and loving heart.

If you are looking for a scriptural retelling of the Christmas story, then this is not the picture book for you. However if you are looking for something which incorporate some aspects from the biblical Christmas narrative, while adding in other characters and elements not found in the original story then this might fill that need. It is a book that could be used to promote discussion about the Christmas celebration, what Christmas means and what is important.

Once a Shepherd shepherd
Walker Books
Hardcover picture book
RRP $27.95 AU

Told in rhyme this picture book tells the story of a shepherd whose world is at peace. He married his sweetheart and then had a child on the way. All felt right with the world until the day war invaded his peace. Tom left to go to war and marched ‘right into hell.’ In trying to help an enemy solder Tom pays the ultimate price. This is a book that is both beautiful and sad and there will be many like me who shed tears while reading it. But ultimately it is a book about hope, when peace reigns again despite the evils of war. Another beautiful and thoughtful text from Glenda Millard, it is complemented the delicate illustrations that echo the poetic text. Given its theme of loss and war, this is not a picture book for the very young but is a book that will provoke a lot of discussion. Beautifully told and illustrated, I can see this book featuring in children’s books awards.
Thursday, November 6th, 2014
10:13 am
Her Tycoon Hero

3 - 7 November 2014


About the Book

Cassie Beaumont Believes in Second Chances

Set on proving to everyone that she's no longer a party girl, Cassie is focused on her career as an event planner. But her dad's top executive, Ryan Mitchell, proves to be a handsome distraction. Especially when someone from Cassie's wild past tries to get her tangled in the life she's worked hard to escape.

Ryan is taken with his boss's beautiful daughter. But having been fooled by a brother who ran in her same circles, he is slow to trust. When Cassie's newfound faith works its way into his heart, Ryan soon finds he wants to claim both her faith and Cassie as his own.

About the Author

NARELLE ATKINS writes contemporary inspirational romance and lives in Canberra, Australia. She sold her debut novel, set in Australia, to Harlequin's Love Inspired Heartsong Presents line in a six-book contract. She is also a member of International Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers group blogs.

Narelle is a co-founder with Jenny Blake of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA). http://acrba.blogspot.com

Her debut book, Falling for the Farmer, will be a February 2014 release, followed by The Nurse's Perfect Match in May 2014 andThe Doctor's Return in August 2014.

Website: http://www.narelleatkins.com
Blog: http://narelleatkins.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NarelleAtkinsAuthor
Twitter: @NarelleAtkins https://twitter.com/NarelleAtkinshttps://twitter.com/NarelleAtkins

My review

Cassie has been a party girl with a life fuelled by alcohol. Although this is a romance novel and the romance is central, the problems of being addicted to alcohol are integral to the story. This is well portrayed. Having been involved with someone with this problem, I found it easy to sympathise with Cassie and found her reactions and battle with alcohol realistic. But as I said, this is a romance and the man is the story is Ryan. I have to say I didn’t warm to Ryan but found him petulant and judgemental. You could say he had reason to be given the way he and his family had been treated by his brother Sean, who is also part of Cassie’s past, but I still struggled to like Ryan.

The other relationship which is a problem is that between Cassie and her father who is having difficulty accepting the fact that since she became a Christian Cassie has changed. This was portrayed well as was the setting around Sydney harbour and Manly.

This is an easy read and I think romance readers and especially those who like Christian romance will enjoy it. While I did enjoy it, I am not a huge romance reader. So I am not really the target audience. I found it a little too predictable and neatly tied up. But that could be just me. Those who enjoy a good clean romance with Christian input will no doubt love it.
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