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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in orangedale's LiveJournal:

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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.
Thursday, September 4th, 2014
12:21 pm
ACRBA - Rebecca's Dream and a review of Suzannah's Gold

1st - 5th September 2014

Rebecca's Dream

(Even Before March 2014)


Carol Preston

About the Book

Rebecca Oakes is thirteen years old when her mother, Suzannah, dies in the small town of Marengo, New South Wales, in 1873. With her older brother and sisters soon involved in their own lives, Rebecca is left alone to care for her ageing father. But Rebecca has a dream for her own life. She wants to make a difference to the world around her; a world where it is hardly possible for a woman to get an education, where women have no rights, no vote, no voice. Rebecca will have to fight the systems of her time if she is to achieve her goals. She must find the courage to stand against sexual and religious prejudice, and resist the pressures of even those close to her, in order to make her way towards her dream, influenced by one man who hates her, who will do anything to thwart her plans, and another man who loves her, and will do anything to make her happy.

Rebecca’s Dream is the second book in the Oakes Family Saga. Background notes and discussion questions are available for book clubs.

About the Author

Carol lives in Wollongong with her husband, Neil. She is a psychologist and has a part time private counselling practice, as well as being an author and speaker. Carol enjoys spending time with her children and four grandchildren, as well as bushwalking, gardening and holidaying overseas with her husband. One of her hobbies over many years has been family history research. It was this research which started Carol on the journey of writing novels.

Her first trilogy is about the Oakes Family; Suzannah’s Gold, Rebecca’s Dream and The Price of Peace, which takes the reader from 1838 when her great great grandmother, Suzannah Casey was transported from Ireland, through to the end of the First World War when Suzannah’s children and grandchildren are involved in the battle, not only to survive the war but to survive the waiting at home. The first two of these have recently been re-released by EBP. Carol’s fourth novel, The Face of Forgiveness, is about two young women who are transported to Australia in 1839. The most recent of Carol’s novel is a series based on her mother’s family, which begins with the First Fleet of convicts to Australia. These include Mary’s Guardian, Charlotte’s Angel, Tangled Secrets, and Truly Free.

For more information about Carol’s books and her other interests she can be contacted on her website: www.carolpreston.com.au, on her Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/writingtoreach

or her Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/carolpreston

I haven't read Rebecca's Dream,yet but will be reading and reviewing it later this year. In the meantime here is the review for the Suzannah's Goldwhich should really be read first.suzannah
Four and a half stars. Transported from Ireland to Australia, Suzannah undergoes a lot of hardship in her life. Suzanna encounter’s Caroline Chisholm and it is lovely to see the influence this woman had on young lives in the colony. There are the struggles of life in a new colony, the racism that exists between the early convicts and settlers and the Chinese, as well as the Aboriginal people. It also shows a lot of the religious prejudices that abounded between Catholic and Protestant. What a shame people had not been able to leave the attitudes behind when they came to the new land. But then we are not really so different today.
This book gives an interesting look at Australia in the 1800s and the early colonisation of New South Wales. Based on some of her ancestors’ stories, this novel has the ring of authenticity. Suzanne is an extremely likable and resilient character with a faith that underpins her actions. By contrast George, the man she marries, is weak and allows circumstances to overwhelm him much of the time. There is a love story or two involved but it may not quite turn out as readers expect and yet the end result is so fitting given the character of Suzannah. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel which involved me in a gamut of emotions from laughter, tears, frustration and anger at times. I will certainly be reading Rebecca’s Dream by the same author in the near future.
Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
9:19 am
A Stunning Australian picture book - The Croc and the Platypus

Using The Owl and the Pussycat as inspiration and model, Jackie Hosking has written a rollicking Australian version featuring a croc and a platypus. As you might expect in an Aussie rhyme, the croc and platypus 'trundled off /in a rusty old Holden ute,' and what else would you expect them to take with them but 'some damper and tea in a hamper?' I think Australian children, parents and teachers will love this book with its Aussieisms. For those not used to our Australian colloquialisms there is a glossary at the back.

Jackie Hosking is an expert with rhyme and it works exceptionally well. One reservation is the page where croc and platypus are heading towards 'the great ochre pebble/In the shape of a hill.' This page needs to be read carefully to get the right emphasis and rhythm. When I gave this book to someone unused to poetry their comment was 'that page doesn’t flow. It doesn’t rhyme.' It does, but it needs to be read correctly to bring it out and keep the rhythm.

The illustrations by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall with their outback Australian colours are simply stunning and add to the text beautifully. I loved the expressions on the faces of the animals especially the sheep with their questioning looks when the croc and the platypus want to buy a fleece. This book is a lot of fun to enjoy and will certainly find a place in many homes and schools.

Now to find out a little more about this great book I asked Jackie a few questions.

I believe it is based on the Owl and the Pussycat, why did you decide to write an Aussie version? Was this a favourite poem of yours as a child?

When I set out to write The Croc and the Platypus I was inspired by Claire Saxby who had done another rewrite of the classic, There was an old Lady who swallowed a fly. The idea of writing a uniquely Australian story while sticking strictly to the rhyme and meter of The Owl and the Pussy-Cat really appealed to me because, I loved that story as a child, my grandmother used to read it to me all the time, and I love writing in rhyme and meter. So initially it began as a writing exercise to see if I could write a completely new Australian based story that was as much fun as the original that didn't sound forced or disjointed.

Why a crocodile and a platypus rather than any other animals?

Firstly the animals had to fit the meter. There had to be a one syllable animal and a three syllable animal whose stress landed on the first syllable. I couldn't have used an echidna, for example because the stress falls on the middle syllable which would have mucked up the rhythm. I also wanted animals that had a similar feel to The Owl and the Pussy-Cat. Platypus seemed like an obvious choice to me as both words contain the syllable 'pus' and the crocodile, being reptilian is also a hunter, like the owl and as unlikely a friend to the platypus as the owl was to the cat. Plus it could be shortened to one syllable.

What gave you the most pleasure writing this book?

Unforced rhyme, in my opinion, is such a pleasure to read. It adds another layer to the story that if done well, is so satisfying for both the writer and the reader. The whole process of writing this book has been pleasurable. Everybody's input has only helped to improve it and of course Marjorie's illustrations are exquisite. I could not have hoped for a better collaborator.

What do you hope children, parents and teachers will take from this book?

Fun! Fun! FUN!! Everyone needs a bit of nonsense in their lives. I also hope that the book reminds readers just how beautiful Australia is.

Did you have any input into the types of illustrations and the colours?

Roughs were shown to me throughout the process, so had I felt the need to make suggestions I certainly was given the opportunity but I knew I was in good hands. Marjorie is amazing - I absolutely love what she has done. The colours, I think, are perfect.

Thanks Dale!
My pleasure Jackie.

Now if you want to follow the rest of this book's blog tour, here is the information you need.

Aug 11 - Aussie Reviews

Aug 12 - DeeScribewriting Blog

Aug 13 - Write and Read with Dale

Aug 14 - Children's Books Daily

Aug 15 - Stories are light

Aug 16 - Kids' book Book Review

Aug 17 - Pass it on

Marjorie Crosby Fairall on Facebook | TheCrocAndThePlatypus.com | Jackie Hosking on Facebook

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014
11:36 am
Reviews of Three Books from Walker Books
Donfinkle 2

Written by Choechoe Brereton and told in rhyme this picture book reminded me a little of the perfect rhymes and use of language of Lynley Dodd in her Hairy Maclary books. Donfinkle is pleased with the home he is building. But then ‘down swoops Flooble’ who does nothing but criticise, causing Donfinkle to change his house design. Then a Mooble arrives with other ideas about how Donfinkle’s house should look. Again Donfinkle changes his house. And so it goes on with various oddly named and illustrated creatures adding advice that is often contradictory. The result is, as you would expect, a long way from what Donfinkle intended for his home. Donfinkle reverts to his original ideas but then he is in for a surprise from those who had previously come to criticise. This is a charming book that illustrates the principle that sometimes a person has to trust their own instinct and not listen to others too much. The illustrations, as you would expect from Wayne Harris, complement the text perfectly. Donfinkle and the other oddly named creatures are cute and playful looking. I loved the expressions on their faces. This book is a thoroughly enjoyable bit of fun that has at its heart a message children and adults may need to hear.

what happens next

One morning on the way to town Little Ellie asks her Granny to tell her a story. So Granny begins a story about Grandma Bear and Little Bear. Granny tells Little Ellie that these bears who are not ‘ordinary bears’ wear ’hats and red gumboots and even go on adventures.’ Little Ellie wants to know ‘What happens next?’ This question is repeated throughout the story. While reading this to a child, it would be good to stop at the end of the page and get their ideas of what happens next before reading on. After a time Little Ellie and Grandma change roles. When they meet a big brown Grandma Bear and a Little Bear, it is Grandma who asks ‘What happens next?’ The last pages are a delight. This is a book about imagination and telling stories and one that cries out for children’s participation. Written and illustrated by Tull Suwannakit this would be a welcome addition to any home or library.


The Alex Rider books have been very popular but I admit this is the first one I have read. In a way that is not such a bad thing as this is a prequel to the other books. It tells the story of Yassen Gregorovich, whose mission is to kill Alex Rider, the fourteen year old spy. But before we get to that point, the book goes into details about Yassen’s earlier life and gives the reader a clear picture of events that helped shape him into the person he became – a cold blooded assassin. This is a book about life’s hard times and circumstances and the way a person chooses to respond to them. It is an interesting look at what changes a young boy into a killer. While it was face paced enough and held my interest, I have reservations about the age group this book is intended for. I found it violent and too graphic, so wonder about the wisdom of giving it to young people to read. Not having read the other Alex Rider books, I don’t know if this is the usual fare or more violent than the others. I’m assuming the book is largely aimed at a male market so perhaps that is why I respond negatively to the violence. The incidents involving Russian roulette which is played out a couple of times in the novel were enough for me. But to be fair, I am not the intended audience and nor is crime and spies my usual reading matter. I would be interested to hear how others who have read the other Alex Rider books have responded to this novel.
Thursday, July 24th, 2014
8:52 pm
Roses are Blue - Interview with Sally and book review
Today I am pleased to welcome Sally Murphy to my blog and be part of the blog tour for

Welcome Sally.

Sally has answered a few of my questions about the book.

Why the name Amber and then all the other colour names?

I’ve always liked the name Amber, and it went well, I thought, with Rose, meaning ‘yellow rose’. Yellow roses are seen as symbols of friendship and positive thoughts. Amber is, ultimately, optimistic, so I feel she suits her name.

The other colour names didn’t come so easily. Initially I thought it would be fun if Amber had friends whose names all started with the same letter – so it was Amber and Amelia and Amy and Abby (I think). However, not only was this confusing for readers, but in early drafts I got a bit confused myself. Su, from Walker Books, suggested I find another way to link them, and then I thought of colours.

What effect do you hope this book will have on children who read it?

I hope they will feel sad with Amber, but end the story feeling that there is hope both in Amber’s life and in the world in general. I really want reading my books to be a positive experience for readers. It took quite a bit of work to ensure that there was enough hope in Amber’s story.

Were you ever embarrassed by a parent or sibling?

Given that they’re probably reading this, I’ll have to say no. Only joking – of course I was. Mums are meant to be embarrassing sometimes. And I was the youngest of six children, so I think each of my siblings at some point did something to embarrass me. But you know what? I’ll bet I embarrassed them more. I was a bit cheeky, a bit loud, and, being younger, didn’t always know when I was embarrassing them. So if you’re reading this family – sorry.

Did you know how this novel would end before you wrote it? Or did you consider any alternate ending?

Not really. I knew it would end with hope, with a sign that life would go on, and possibly get better, for the Rose family. I didn’t know about the art contest, or Leroy’s role, or even the cupcake party. I didn’t really consider an alternate ending, but the ending did get stronger as I worked on bringing those different aspects together.

Thanks so much for the questions Dale, and for having me on your blog.

My pleasure Sally and now to my review of Roses are Blue

This verse novel, which tells the story of Amber and her mother who has been in an accident and is now in a wheelchair, is a heart-warming story that is simply and beautifully written. Last Saturday I read Roses are Blue and cried my way through it. I so felt for the young Amber and her decidedly mixed feelings. This book also shows the hierarchy that goes on in schools – if you are part of the ‘in’ crowd or not. I liked the pictures of family loving and supporting each other from Aunt Fi who leaves her job to help care for her sister and her family and the loving relationship between Amber and her young brother. I liked the use of colours for names of Amber’s friends. This is an easy to read verse novel which I read straight through in one sitting. It is one that effortlessly draws readers into the story and stirs the emotions. The black and white illustrations by Gabriel Evans add to the overall effect as they perfectly capture the feel and emotions of the story. This is a gem of a book and one destined I suspect to do well again in CBCA awards.

roses are blue

Tuesday, July 22nd Karen Tyrrell
Wednesday, July 23 Alphabet Soup
Thursday, July 24 Kids’ Book Review
Friday, July 25 Write and read with Dale
Saturday, July 26 Diva Booknerd
Sunday, July 27 Children’s Books Daily
Monday, July 28 Boomerang Books Blog
Tuesday, July 29 Australian Children’s Poetry
Wednesday, July 30 Sally Murphy

@SallyMurphy | Sally on Facebook | SallyMurphy.com.auSally book covers
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
8:14 am
Better than a Super Hero - book review

21st - 25th June 2014

(Wombat books 1 May 2014)


Belinda Francis, illustrated by Kayleen West

About the Book

Who is better than a superhero? Find out about Jesus as you explore what he did and who he was. And most importantly how Jesus really can be your best friend!

About the Authors

Belinda Francis

Award winning journalist turned children's author Belinda Francis worked in newspapers, magazines and electronic media for ten years in South Africa before she and her family immigrated to Queensland.

Shortly after arriving in Australia, her elder son was diagnosed with ASD and she devoted the next few years to his early intervention, which with God's guidance, has paid off miraculously. Her second son, who had been born ten weeks prematurely, is now healthy and strong – evidence of yet another miracle. She and her family recently celebrated the arrival of their third child, a much-prayed for daughter.

While raising her children, Belinda wrote Better than a Superhero, her first published book, and threw herself into the local church and community. She runs the Sunday school program at her church campus.

Belinda is passionate about raising children up in God's kingdom and excited about the ministry opportunities the book will undoubtedly open up.

Kayleen West

An award winning artist, her work hangs in private and corporate collections in France, United States, Italy, and the Australian Embassy in Ireland and in government collections in Australia.

Although an initial childhood dream was to write and illustrate for children, Kayleen was encouraged to venture into a career of an exhibiting fine artist and later a graphic designer.

Returning to her original passion in 2009, Kayleen is now a published children's Author and Illustrator working on her third children's book and writes Christian content for magazines and blogs.

Kayleen is the author and illustrator of Without Me? (Wombat Books, 2013) and the illustrator of Better than a Superhero (Even Before Publishing, 2014).

For more information: www.kayleenwest.com.au

My review

• I love the concept of this picture book, the title and the bright primary colours throughout. Isn’t the cover gorgeous? It promises so much fun! The text is simple and reads well and brings the reader quickly and firmly to the idea of a Creator. The divinity of Jesus with God as His Father is explained simply as is His mission. I like how it explained His mission. But I found one important aspect missing - the cross. One presumes then it is up to the parent to explain how Jesus made sure ’nothing d could get in the way of us knowing his father,’ and to mention the cross and resurrection. This book is a good tool that could open areas for discussion and I’d suggest that’s what it needs an adult to explain and fill in the blanks with references and more of the bible stories.

• I liked the way the text differentiated between the usual role of a king which kids would probably be familiar with in fairy tales and other books. It gives a great and clear picture of who Jesus is and the illustrations are a delight. My reservation with this book is the illustrations of Jesus and I admit I’m not often a fan of illustrations of Jesus. I realise this is a personal thing, but I didn’t like the cartoonish style, even though it was probably in keeping with the other illustrations. I also though t it could be confusing when you have illustrations of Jesus to then say, ’you might not be able to see him.’ A couple of quibbles in what is otherwise a delightful book with a good clear message that is pitched at a child’s level of understanding and is a good introduction to the person of Jesus.
Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
2:03 pm
Head to Toe- book review
head to toe

Published by Acorn Press April 2014

It’s hard to know where to start in reviewing this book, as there is so much to read and consider. It really helps put a lot of things into context. This is an insightful look into a leadership model for Christian society. It clearly shows what a great change this meant for those early male followers of Jesus. For them to follow Jesus meant a move downward in importance. It identifies how men in the Mediterranean world at the end of the first century were called by Jesus to a different model of leadership, taking them from a model as lead-as- dictator to one of leader- as- servant. Reading this book could well change your thinking or at least cause you to look at lives and incidents in the New Testament with fresh eyes.

This book follows through the lives of many New Testament men starting with Zechariah, father of John the Baptist. It raises some interesting thoughts about John and his ministry that I had not considered before. It also covers not just the well know men such as Paul, Peter , John and James but some of those who only make brief biblical appearances like Simeon, Gaius, Crispus and others.

Christianity brought about huge changes and cost. For the disciples, especially any who were the eldest son in a family, walking away from family responsibilities was a huge step and brought great dishonour. These followers of Jesus were ‘exiled from their household and thus suffered a loss of identity and status.’ Because of this the Romans at Antioch first labelled them Christians – that is ‘belonging to the household or tribe of Christ.’

‘Travel was regarded as somewhat deviant behaviour in those days.’ For people of today’s society who are often used to being able to travel at will without needing a reason, other than pleasure, it seems strange to think a person had to have a legitimate reason to travel, like going to the temple in Jerusalem or to visit family. I guess I’d never thought before that while they were travelling with Jesus, the disciples had not been earning any money and so had no finances of their own to buy anything. No wonder they looked at Jesus blankly when he told them to give the crowds something to eat!

The chapter devoted to male leadership in the early church brings up the point of headship and how that meaning is often wrongly interpreted as having authority, when in reality Christians, both men and women, are ‘to emulate the coordinating, representative and self sacrificing role of Jesus as head of the church. This carries no sense of authority or privilege.’ Obviously these couple of sentences need to be read in context not only of the whole chapter about headship but in the context of the ideas set forth in the book.

Yet somehow over the years we have got away from that model and have a different idea of headship. I particularly liked the thoughts expressed in the last two paragraphs of this book. At the end of the book there is an appendix of all the men mentioned in this book and the biblical or other literary references to each one plus , for those who would like to delve deeper, a select bibliography of texts.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It made me think. This is a book to read, share with others and re-read. Recommended.
Monday, June 2nd, 2014
11:22 am
Historical Fiction
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is introducing

Charter to Redemption

(Even Before Publishing 1 May 2014)


D.J. Blackmore

About the Book

At the close of 1821, the penal colony of Newcastle looks to be every bit as black as it's painted. Emma Colchester charters a ride to Australia with a promise of marriage to a man she has never met. But appearances aren't always as they seem. And with a commitment unavoidable Emma learns that shackles are not always forged from iron. Tobias Freeman longs for redemption and hope. After a rough journey to New South Wales, Tobias learns the rations, the regulations, and the reprisal. But neither Emma nor Tobias expect the repercussions.

About the Author

D.J. Blackmore grew up in the wine growing region of the Hunter Valley, New South Wales and is currently based in Central Queensland.

She draws inpiration for her historical fiction novels from her love of age-old crafts such as spinning and cheese making. She considers being the mother of five, her greatest achievement.


my review

The time is 1821 and Emma Colchester is on her way to Australia, specifically Newcastle, to marry Gideon Quinn, a man she has never met. When she meets him, Gideon is not at all what she is expecting. But before Emma gets to Newcastle and she meets the man she has promised to marry, disaster strikes.
She is saved by the convict Tobias Freeman. Even that situation is not without its problems, for she finds herself attracted to Tobias. Not only are they of different classes with her being the daughter of a clergyman while Tobias is a convict, despite the attraction she feel for him she feels obliged to honour her promise to marry Gideon Quinn, even though he has been dishonest with her. As the book goes on it is revealed further, Quinn is not at all as he initially seemed in appearance or character.
It was a refreshing change to see a historical novel not set in Sydney and I liked the historical setting of Newcastle for the novel. I also liked the characters of Emma and Tobias, even though at times I found Emma’s behaviour a little hard to understand. She had plenty of pluck and I liked the way she refused to let convention dictate her actions and pitched in at the hospital. Gideon, was one who through the course of the novel, shows his true colours.
One thing I found hard was some of the wrong paragraphing and mistakes that had been allowed to creep in. At times this made it a little harder to read. That quibble aside, I enjoyed the story. Those who like historical novels and romances should enjoy this book. I’ll be interested to see what this author writes next.
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