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Reading Rewards - reviews -

Tragedy: the sad ballad of the Gibb brothers by Jeff Apter

The rise and fall of the brothers Gibb is perhaps the greatest saga in Australian, even world, music history. As ubiquitous as the falsetto harmonies, flares and multi-platinum record sales were the tragedies: the highs, the lows, the highs again. And then the brothers fell, one by one. Not long before his death, Robin made it clear that he believed the Gibbs had been forced to pay the highest possible cost for their success. 'All the tragedies my family has suffered . . . is a kind of karmic price we are paying for all the fame and fortune we've had.' This is the story of all four brothers' incredible careers, lives and influence. A beautifully drawn examination of the Gibb 'curse' and an all-too-human look at the rollercoaster ride of fame. Captures the incredible highs, and the terrible lows: divorce, drunkenness and death.  For Bee Gees fans, and for everyone, because we've all been touched by the music. 

This book is a fascinating look at the lives of the Bee Gees from their childhoods in Manchester and the Isle of Man, through their decade living in Queensland, Australia, to the their phenomenal rise to the top of the pop charts and the subsequent demise of the group and sad deaths of three of the brothers.

What I found particularly interesting was the years they spent as young boys singing and harmonizing together and writing songs that never really amounted to much. This was at the same time that the Beatles were writing hit after hit and taking the pop world by storm. 

The Bee Gees then moved to Australia and started to make a name for themselves, encouraged by local stars such as Johnny O’Keefe and Col Joye. They then realised they were not going to hit the big time in Australia and returned to England and then America.

Another fascinating aspect of the book is how they came up with their lyrics and songs, such as the sound made by the tyres of their car driving across a bridge as the basis for their hit ‘Jive Talkin’. 

The last few chapters are quite sad, detailing the deaths far too young of Maurice and then Robin.

~ Susan 

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Reading Rewards - reviews -

Holy Cow by Sarah Macdonald

In her twenties, journalist Sarah Macdonald backpacked around India and came away with a lasting impression of heat, pollution and poverty. So when an airport beggar read her palm and told her she would return to India—and for love—she screamed, “Never!” and gave the country, and him, the finger.
But eleven years later, the prophecy comes true. When the love of Sarah’s life is posted to India, she quits her dream job to move to the most polluted city on earth, New Delhi. For Sarah this seems like the ultimate sacrifice for love, and it almost kills her, literally. Just settled, she falls dangerously ill with double pneumonia, an experience that compels her to face some serious questions about her own fragile mortality and inner spiritual void. 

Holy Cow is Macdonald’s often hilarious chronicle of her adventures in a land of chaos and contradiction, of encounters with Hinduism, Islam and Jainism, Sufis, Sikhs, Parsis and Christians and a kaleidoscope of yogis, swamis and Bollywood stars. From spiritual retreats and crumbling nirvanas to war zones and New Delhi nightclubs, it is a journey that only a woman on a mission to save her soul, her love life — and her sanity — can survive. 

I listened to the audio version which is very well read by Kate Hosking but we do have this in all other formats.

~ Ali

The Ex

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The Ex by Alafair Burke

Olivia Randall is one of New York City's best criminal defence lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancé, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide - and that one of the victims was connected to his wife's murder three years earlier - there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is, who would go to such great lengths to frame him, and why? For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets and absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him?

I've read quite a few books by Alafair Burke and have always enjoyed them. This is the latest one and I must say I was a little disappointed by it. Jack arranges to meet a woman that he has only encountered once in the park and then online. He arrives but she is not there, so he leaves the picnic basket in the spot they were to meet and leaves. At the same time three people are shot dead in said park, and Jack is arrested as the prime suspect. He calls upon his former girlfriend Olivia who is a lawyer to defend him as although he has gunshot residue on his clothes he states he is innocent.

There are a couple of storylines going on in the background of this book which were interesting, but overall the plot dragged a bit and when the perpetrator is eventually revealed, it was a little predictable. Those who like legal procedural/mystery books will probably enjoy this, but it was not for me.

~ Janine

Stars of Fortune

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Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts

To celebrate the rise of their new queen, three goddesses of the moon created three stars, one of fire, one of ice, one of water. But then they fell from the sky, putting the fate of all worlds in danger. And now three women and three men join forces to pick up the pieces. 

Sasha Riggs is a reclusive artist, haunted by dreams and nightmares that she turns into extraordinary paintings. Her visions lead her to the Greek island of Corfu, where five others have been lured to seek the fire star. Sasha recognizes them, because she has drawn them: a magician, an archaeologist, a wanderer, a fighter, a loner. All on a quest. All with secrets. Sasha is the one who holds them together - the seer. And in the magician, Bran Killian, she sees a man of immense power and compassion. As Sasha struggles with her rare ability, Bran is there to support her, challenge her, and believe in her. But Sasha and Bran are just two of the six. And they must all work together as a team to find the fire star in a cradle of land beneath the sea. Over their every attempt at trust, unity, and love, a dark threat looms. And it seeks to corrupt everything that stands in its way of possessing the stars.

I recently did a review on another Nora Roberts trilogy, Inn at Boonsboro, but somehow instead of borrowing Book 2 - Bay of Sighs, gained this one - Book 1 of the Guardians Trilogy!  It's a professional trap when you work in a library... sooooo many books beckon! 

This series is a lot more "paranormal" than Roberts' usual paranormal ones. This is full on gods, shapeshifters, sorcerers, mermaids, time travellers and more; less whimsical but of course still with her formulaic romantic pairing-off between the lead characters. Well narrated by Saskia Maarleveld, it's an entertaining piece of frippery to while away the time if you were stuck somewhere with nothing else to do.  We have this series in print and large print, CD and MP3 formats. .

~ Deb

Pakenham War Memorial - the 'scene of beer parties'

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

I came across this article in the Dandenong Journal of May 21, 1941 about the neglected state of the Pakenham War Memorial. It's interesting that after the enthusiasm of having Memorials erected in the late 1910s and the 1920s that it didn't take all that long for the Memorials to be neglected. The Pakenham War Memorial was officially unveiled on January 15, 1921 by Brigadier General Brand. There is a report in Dandenong Journal of February 9, 1928, how the War Memorial is 'a disgrace' (you can read the article here http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article200675138) The reason would have been, as Cr Bourke said in 1941 that 'that the trouble was that nobody was responsible for the care of the memorial'

Dandenong Journal  May 21, 1941http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article214603307
Here is the text from the article.
Pakenham War Memorial Neglected and Forgotten"Scene Of Beer Parties", Declares CouncillorTalk of removal at later date
Asking that the position regarding the War Memorial at Pakenham be defined, the Pakenham R.S.S.I.L.A. said that at present it stands neglected and forgotten, and offers little encouragement for the young men of today to come forward and offer their services to their country. “We should remember the fallen always, and the memorial should be kept in a manner fitting to the dead,” the writer stated, in urging council to remove the memorial to a more fitting site. He paid tribute to Cr Bourke for his action in having the surroundings cleaned up at his own expense.
Cr Bourke said that the trouble was that nobody was responsible for the care of the memorial. He understood that the trustees were all dead. Cr C. Greaves said that the soldiers themselves couldn’t do much. If council thought it better to remove the memorial to another site where it could receive attention more easily,then they would fall in with that plan.
Mr Ahern; The site is leased from the railways. The memorial should never have been put there. Most people realised that at the time but the soldiers themselves wanted it there.
Cr Bourke: There’s generally 8 or 9 dozen beer bottles strewn round it. 
The Secretary: That’s what it’s used for - for drinking parties. Couples returning from dances .also use it as a parking place.
Cr Greaves: The memorial can never be satisfactory in a place like it is.
When other councillors suggested removing the memorial, Cr Kinsella pointed out that it would be hard to get a suitable site in the town. He suggested that the proposed removal be deferred until the, present war is over.
Cr Greaves: We’ll have to move it. Maintaining it as just a sort of beer garden is not much good.
He moved, and Cr Wadsley seconded, that the memorial be shifted to a more suitable site when one was found and that in the meantime council look after it.
Later, this resolution was withdrawn when it was pointed out that council could hardly act in the matter without giving the public a say.
After a motion had been carried that council maintain the memorial at half cost to Pakenham and half to lona ridings, Crs Greaves and Wadsley moved that a public meeting be convened by the shire president to consider the position regarding the site.
Where was the Memorial Park?  According to the Back to Pakenham: Souvenir Booklet of March 1951 the community first asked the Railway Department 'for the block of land to the Station Entrance' This was refused on the grounds that it might be needed for railway purposes, but the Department allowed a  portion about one chain wide, running from Station Street to Station Road. The stone was erected and the community raised money for a fence, a hedge and gates, garden seats and a machine gun enclosed in brickwork with a glass front. The booklet goes onto say that for  a number of years it was well cared for, but as time went on it was allowed to get into a state of untidiness - everybody's business being nobody's business.

The War Memorial is now outside the Hall and Library Complex in John Street.

Stella Prize shortlist

Reading Rewards - reviews -

From more than 170 entries, this year’s Stella Prize judges have now narrowed down a shortlist of six.  You can gauge just how much "making the shortlist" can mean to a writer with these insights shared by last year's shortlisters:

The 2016 shortlist is:

Hope Farm by Peggy Frew

A Few Days in the Country: And Other Stories by Elizabeth Harrower

The World Without Us by Mireille Juchau

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

Six Bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight

Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger by Fiona Wright

The winner will be announced on the evening of Tuesday 19 April - check back here on the 20th to place a hold on the winning title.


All These Perfect Strangers

Reading Rewards - reviews -

All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford

Pen Sheppard is from a poor and vulnerable family – brought up by her mother and a series of her mother’s dodgy boyfriends. The novel begins with Pen at a psychiatrist’s office in the small country town where she grew up, as she recalls the bizarre series of events that happened during her brief stint at university - within six months of starting, three of her new friends died. Only Pen knows the reason why. College life had seemed like a wonderland of sex, drugs and maybe even love. The perfect place to run away from your past and reinvent yourself. But Pen never can run far enough. There’s also an allusion to another dark occurrence a year before. But Pen is an unreliable narrator – she is remembering things as she sees them, but how much is really true?
Why we love it: 
We're excited when we discover a stunning new voice in crime fiction, and even more so when that voice is an Australian one. All These Perfect Strangers is more than a gripping crime novel; it’s an intriguing and thought-provoking read.

from The Team at Better Reading

About the author:
All These Perfect Strangers is Aoife Clifford’s first novel, but she has already won the two major Australian crime writing prizes in short story form: the Ned Kelly - SD Harvey Short Story Award and the Scarlet Stiletto. She was also shortlisted for the UK Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger. In 2013, she was awarded an Australian Society of Author's mentorship for All These Perfect Strangers. Aoife lives in Melbourne with her husband and three children. Clifford's Irish name - Aoife - is pronounced Eefa (similar to Eva but with an f instead of the v).

The Girl in Steel Capped Boots

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The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots by Loretta Hill

Lena Todd is a city girl who thrives on cocktails and cappuccinos. So when her boss announces he’s sending her to the outback to join a construction team, her world is turned upside down. Lena’s new accommodation will be an aluminum box called a dongar. Her new social network: three hundred and fifty men. Her daily foot attire: steel-capped boots.

It took me a while to get into this audio book, as believe it or not, the narrator sounded too Australian!! But as it went on it was actually quite a funny book. Of course all the men working here had nicknames like Radar and Bulldog, and there were quite a few expletives thrown around - but don't be put off, they are totally in context with the book and let's face it, that is the way working Aussie men would talk!

I actually had quite a few laugh out loud moments!! There is a bit of romance in the book, but it does take a back seat to the job Lena has to do, the lives of her co-workers and the hazards of the job, including a couple of funny encounters with kangaroos!!

I listened to this on audio book which was narrated by Sally Patience, but we also have it in print format as well.

~ Janine

Fever at Dawn

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Fever at Dawn by Peter Gardos   Translated from the Hungarian by Elizabeth Szasz
In July 1945, Miklós, a Hungarian survivor of Belsen, arrives in a refugee camp in Sweden. He is skin and bone, and has no teeth. The doctor says he has only months to live.But Miklós has other plans. 
He acquires a list of 117 young Hungarian women who are also in refugee camps in Sweden, and he writes a letter to each of them - obsessively, in his beautiful hand, sitting in the shade of a tree in the hospital garden. One of those young women, he is sure, will become his wife.  In a camp hundreds of kilometres away, Lili reads his letter. Idly, she decides to write back.
Letter by letter, the pair fall in love. In December 1945 they find a way to meet. They have only three days together, and they fall in love all over again. Now they have to work out how to get married while there is still time...
This story really happened. It’s a sad and joyous tale based on the letters of the author's parents. 
There are many true stories from this era, some more engaging than others but all worth telling so as to never get lost in the mire. This one paints not the horror of war but the getting over it - life in refugee camps, friendships made or lost, liaising with staff in the hope of getting something during a time of scarcity, travel restrictions, boredom and how the littlest thing could entertain, and of course, politics and the fervent wish to hear news about or from ‘home’. The thought of "what next" and trying to concoct a future is dismal, which is why Miklos and Lily's story brings a feeling of hope to the pages.  But ...
Did I "love it”?  Sadly, no.  Set in a bleak microcosm sprinkled with few characters of interest, the story is occasionally lifted by some humorous or atmospheric turns of phrase, but not enough to halt the plodding.  Perhaps it is the translation which dulls the senses, I’m not sure.  Apparently it’s going to be made into a movie – but unless there is an award-winning screenplay, this could make for one very tedious Sunday afternoon’s viewing.   
~ Deb.

Missing, Presumed

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

Edith Hind, the beautiful, earnest Cambridge post-grad living on the outskirts of the city has left nothing behind but a streak of blood and her coat hanging up for her boyfriend, Will, to find. The news spreads fast: to her parents, prestigious doctor Sir Ian and Lady Hind, and straight on to the police. And then the hours start to dissolve and reality sets in. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw soothes her insomnia with the din of the police radio she keeps by her bed. After another bad date, it takes the crackling voices to lull her to sleep. But one night she hears something. Something deserving of her attention. A girl is missing. For Manon the hunt for Edith Hind might be the career-defining case she has been waiting for. For the family this is the beginning of their nightmare.

As Manon sinks her teeth into the investigation and lines up those closest to Edith she starts to feel out the kinks in their stories and catch the eyes that won't meet hers. But when disturbing facts come to light, the stakes jolt up and Manon has to manage the wave of terror that erupts from the family. A stunning literary thriller that shows the emotional fallout from the anxious search for a young woman and lets you inside the mind of the detective hell-bent on finding her.

Why we love it: 

We adore crime fiction, but of course not all crime fiction is created equal. And Missing Presumed we firmly put in the category of brilliant crime – clever, gritty, sometimes funny, and with characters that get right under your skin.  We love the latest in the tradition of hardened British female detectives.

from The Team at Better Reading

Best Australian Stories 2014

Reading Rewards - reviews -

In The Best Australian Stories 2014, author Amanda Lohrey selects the outstanding short fiction of the year. Featuring a diverse selection, with new and innovative voices alongside the established and familiar, this anthology celebrates the craft of storytelling and the perfect short story.

I look forward to the release of these anthologies each year and this one edited by Amanda Lohrey is my favourite in this series to date. I don’t remember ever reading an anthology that gripped me as tightly as this one did. I loved every story. Every story. 

There are 23 of them in this marvellous book, written by a variety of talented Australian writers, or should I call them storytellers? There are no weak stories in this collection; each is strong enough to hold its own beside the others. They are vividly imagined, with an emotional depth that is sometimes lacking in the form. The characters are complex, both harsh and vulnerable, confident and confused. There is a sense of loss and sadness throughout many of the stories, but overall you don’t mourn these characters. They are living life, every gritty, messy, real moment of it.

My favourites were too many to list in detail here but there were a few in particular I’d like to mention. Blood and Bone by Lisa Jacobson, a simple story of a son called back from the city to the family farm to carry out a task his father is unable to perform. A story I would suggest you do not read on the train or in the lunchroom at work. The Panther by David Brooks, a fantastical tale that mirrors an urban myth many country Victorians have heard, but also a tale about faith and trust. Something Special, Something Rare by Rebekah Clarkson, where a boy constantly in trouble becomes the catalyst for the re-imagining of a family.

Anthologies are a chance for a reader to sample an array of writers they may never have come across individually. Being able to dip in and out at random is the fun part.  Lohrey did such a wonderful job of choosing what to include that it mattered not, at least to me, in what order the stories were consumed. Each course was a tasty delight to the senses. 

If you are looking for your next read, you can’t go wrong here.

- Lisa

Lifetime Achievement Award

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David Malouf has won the 2016 Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature.

The award, formerly known as the Writers’ Emeritus Award, recognises the achievements of eminent literary writers over the age of 60 who have made an outstanding and lifelong contribution to Australian literature.

Malouf is the author of numerous works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and libretti. His books include Johnno; Fly Away Peter, which won the Age Book of the Year; The Great World, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize; Remembering Babylon, which won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; The Conversations at Curlow Creek, Ransom and Every Move You Make. His most recent books are the essay collections A First Place and The Writing Life, and the poetry collection Earth Hour.

Malouf said winning the award was ‘a great honour’. "Writing is a very solitary business, we don’t meet the majority of our readers face to face, so any form of recognition that the writing out there has been received, and even more, valued, is a confirmation that what you have devoted so much of your life to has reached its goal and was worth doing."


No ordinary life

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"No ordinary life" by Suzanne Redfearn:

"Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children...or that she’d have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don’t come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it’s impossible to know who to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family."

In this novel the story is told about 4 year old Molly who is suddenly put in the spotlight when a YouTube video of her goes viral. Faye is a single mother of three who is swept up in the instant fame that now surrounds Molly, who is rapidly capitulated into a TV series, brand endorsements, and of course the fringe benefits and money that go along with this. Faye also has two other children Emily - the moody pre-teen and Tom who is introverted and struggles with relationships in general. Of course there also is the estranged husband who all of a sudden re-appears on the scene once he learns of Molly's fame.

It's obvious that Faye desperately wants to make things work for her family but sometimes it seems like she's her own worst enemy. It soon felt like she was out for her own interests while, at the same time criticising her estranged husband for doing the same thing. Some of the interactions between Faye and Sean as well as Faye and twelve year old Emily were an accurate portrayal of a family in a lot of pain.

It seemed that the author did a lot of research on the subject of child stars and gives her readers a glimpse into the flashy world of Hollywood as well as its underbelly of paparazzi, stalkers, sex, drugs and the exploitation of children which plague many young child stars today.

Although not quite a page-turner like her previous novel - Hush Little Baby, I did enjoy it.

~ Janine

The Dandenong Journal and local Progress Associations

Links to our Past - history -

Trove, the National Library of Australia digitised newspaper website, are in the process of adding the Dandenong Journal from 1927 until 1954. You can access Trove at http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/

The Dandenong Journal has coverage of the old Shire of Cranbourne and Shire of Berwick so you can find lots of local content, it’s not all just about Dandenong. This post looks at the activities of local Progress Associations mainly through the correspondence they wrote to the local Councils. Many towns had Progress Associations from the late 1920s to the 1950s - Bayles, Clyde, Dalmore, Garfield, Hallam, Hampton Park, Koo-Wee-Rup, Lang Lang, Lyndhurst South, Pakenham, Pakenham South, Tooradin and Warneet to name some. Like many community organisations which rely on volunteers some formed, then were disbanded and then reformed years later. There was naturally less reporting on the Associations during the Second World War – I guess complaints about road conditions and drainage issues seemed trivial at the time, plus the community was involved with supporting the War effort.

Warneet Progress Association formed in December 1945 and one of their  activities in December 1947 was to fill the vacancies on the Warneet Foreshore Committee and to have  a site set aside for  a Public Hall (the hall still hasn’t been built). In 1953 the Progress Association asked for the construction of two ‘public conveniences’ (one at each jetty)  as even though the town had only five permanent resident families there was a big weekend population, with 40 to 50 car loads of visitors. The town had already received a grant of £1280 from the Tourist Resorts Fund but wanted the Cranbourne Shire Council to put in the remaining 25 per cent and to take responsibility for the buildings. The Council was happy to subsidise one building but felt that the Warneet Foreshore Committee should be responsible for the upkeep.

In another coastal town, the Tooradin Progress Association asked for assistance in 1928 to carry out works on the Tooradin picnic grounds but the Cranbourne Shire said no funds were available. In the same year, they complained about the state of the ‘main coast road’ – the South Gippsland Highway and also complained about the action of the Koo-Wee-Rup Progress Association in diverting traffic from Koo-Wee-Rup along to Pakenham (so thus avoiding Tooradin).

Tooradin Camping Ground, 1940s.
Dalmore Progress Association was established before the War and it re-formed in 1953 with 60 members attending the first meeting. Some of their first activities included holding a Ball, entering a float in the Coronation day procession at Koo-Wee-Rup, forming a badminton Club and notifying Council about the state of local roads and drains. In 1953 the Pakenham South Progress Association complained to the Council about Ballarto Road; they wanted it graded and the drains cleared out.

The Bayles Progress Association in 1928 asked the Cranbourne Shire Council for four lamps that they had promised them for street lighting. The same year they said that ‘approximately 20 services would be required in the sanitary area at Bayles’  -  as this would require the Council  ‘night man’ to empty the toilet pans at these properties, the Council decided that the service would be too costly. A year later they wanted a bridge built to give access to the Recreation Reserve; I am not sure where this Recreation Reserve actually was.  In 1947, they asked the Council to fence off the local bridges to assist farmers and drovers with cattle. They also asked the Council if they could take over some adjoining railway land to extend the park at Bayles, described by one Councillor as ‘a nice little park’ which had been established by the Association.

Looking west towards Harmer Road, Hallam, mid 1950s.
In August 1926 the Hallam Progress Association complained about the destruction of the red gum trees on the Princes Highway due to the construction of a telephone line by the Post Master General’s Department. They also advocated for the establishment of a branch of the Commonwealth Bank at Hallam. In July 1930, the Association was once again concerned about trees, this time, they complained about the type of trees being planted by the Country Roads Board and they felt ‘a more suitable tree should be used as the ones already planted seemed to make very little headway’. In February 1942 the Hallam Progress Association asked the Berwick Shire Council to apply to the Bill’s Trust for a water trough at Hallam. An interesting request as obviously there was still a large number of locals travelling by horse and cart, not motor vehicles, if they required a horse trough. In June 1953, the Progress Association, in conjunction with the Hallam State School ‘screened a colour film’ to mark the Coronation. In November 1954, the Association complained to the Berwick Shire Council about the lack of  a Recreation Reserve at Hallam. This was in response to the Shire purchasing land at Pakenham for a Reserve – the Hallam Progress Association ‘cannot see what development there is in Pakenham compared to Hallam in the future’ and they accused the Council of ‘lacking in foresight’ At the same Council meeting the Progress Association asked 'waht area constituted Hallam proper' -  Kays Avenue to Tinks Road, Heatherton Road to the Shire Boundary with Cranbourne Shire - the eastern section is now called Narre Warren and  the northern section is now called Endeavour Hills

Dandenong Journal November 17, 1954

In January 1944, the Pakenham Progress Association requested that the Berwick Shire widen the Main Street by reducing the size of the footpaths. The spokesperson said ‘that five feet of each footpath served no other useful purpose than to grow grass and there could be some serious accidents as some motorists parked four feet out from the kerb’

The Koo-Wee-Rup Progress Association in 1928 wanted permission from the Cranbourne Shire Council to plant trees in Rossiter Road from Denham’s Road to Henry Street. A year later they were complaining about the state of Moody Street. In June 1944, the Association put in ‘numerous requests’ to the Council - the Dandenong Journal uses this head line on more than one occasion.  ‘No less than seven requests’ were before the Council - amongst the requests they wanted a foot bridge over the Station Street drain for use of the flax mill employees; they wanted a section of Sybella Avenue sealed and they wanted Boundary Road put into a ‘serviceable condition’ The next month they put another long list of requests in including some repeat numbers from the last time, because they regarded the replies to the original list as not being satisfactory. In 1947, the Progress Association agitated for the re-location of the Shire Offices from Cranbourne to Koo-Wee-Rup which was ‘a more central situation’. There was bit of discussion about this issue and a Councillor complained that the Progress Association was always late with their correspondence (thus presumably this could not be read before the meeting) and had to be put into extra correspondence and that the ‘Association was very critical of the Council and what the Council doesn’t do’ and ‘it’s time they woke up to themselves’

Because the Dandenong Journal gave full reports on the Cranbourne Shire and Berwick Shire Council meetings including the names of people who wrote letters to the Council about various issues, and  there is also news about various local families including obituaries so if you have a long time connection to what is now the Casey Cardinia area then you might find some mention of one of your family members.  You can access the Dandenong Journal on Trove at http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/.

The Puppy Express

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The Puppy Express by David Rosenfelt

"On the road with 25 dogs … what could go wrong?"
All aboard! When David Rosenfelt and his family embarked on a roadtrip across the USA to their new home in Maine, he thought he had prepared for every eventuality. They had mapped out the route, brought three just-in-case SatNavs and had enough snacks to feed an army. There was just one tiny complication - they were travelling with twenty-five rescued dogs: a sure-fire recipe for chaos. But having devoted their lives to re-homing thousands of unwanted and unloved dogs, there was no way they could leave them behind. 

With nine volunteers, three motorhomes and several contingency plans, David and his very large, very hairy family set off on a journey that will test his patience and his sense of humour to the limits. 

David writes the very clever Andy Carpenter mysteries which I love, and along the way he and his wife rescue dogs – not only their beloved Golden Retrievers, but a lot of other dogs on death row and care for them for the rest of their lives. They rescue as many as they can , but as David points out, the sad fact is that many of the shelters have to euthanize dogs within hours of their arrival because they don’t have the funds or facilities to care for or keep them.

The personal stories of the dogs, the sheer chaos of managing so many dogs, the motorhomes, the logistics of feeding and exercising in all weathers and the invaluable volunteer helpers is thoroughly entertaining, amusing and a little bit crazy.  But they made it!!!  Recommended. 


Hate List

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Hate List by Jennifer Brown.

Sixteen-year-old Valerie, whose boyfriend Nick committed a school shooting at the end of their junior year, struggles to cope with integrating herself back into high school life, unsure herself whether she was a hero or a villain.

As parents we all feel that our job is to protect our children from the rest of the world.  What if you suddenly felt you may have to protect the world from your child?  Hate List is an interesting story to read in a world where mass shootings, particularly at schools, are becoming more common.  Although this is in the  'young adult' fiction category, reading it as a parent was both interesting and valuable.  

It tells the story from the viewpoint of a survivor of such a shooting, but not just any survivor - Valerie is the girlfriend of the shooter. The book takes us through Valerie’s journey, an emotional and occasionally harrowing, journey. As a parent, it was hard not to want to shake Valerie at times, but we all know children have to make their own mistakes and learn about things in their own time.  The book leads us into the tumultuous world of being a teenager, and it makes you think about needing to teach our teenagers how to treat each other better.  It is a worthwhile story to read.

~ Tracy

The Secret Daughter

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The Secret Daughter by Kelly Rimmer

'You were adopted'. Three short words and Sabina's life fractures. There would forever be a Before those words, and an After. Pregnant with her own child, Sabina can't understand how a mother could abandon her daughter, or why her parents have kept the past a secret. Determined to find the woman who gave her away, what she discovers will change everything, not just for Sabina, but for the women who have loved her all these years.

What a delightful book! I've never heard of this author but have since found out that she lives in rural Australia. It tells the story of Sabina who is happily married and expecting her first child. When she tells her parents about her news, instead of being happy they are devastated and her mother later admits that Sabina is adopted.What unfolds is Sabina's search for her birth mother, and also it explores her relationship with her adoptive parents where all is not what it seems.

I found this story to be enchanting and I loved the way the author gradually told the story through the eyes of Sabina, her mother and birth mother and time stamped each chapter. It also delved into history when babies were taken from their birth mothers because society would not accept unmarried mothers. I would thoroughly recommend it to lovers of womens' fiction. I'll be looking out for Kelly's other novel and am anticipating her next one.

~ Janine

Letters to the Lost

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Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

Late on a frozen February evening, a young woman is running through the streets of London. Having fled from her abusive boyfriend and with nowhere to go, Jess stumbles onto a forgotten lane where a small, clearly unlived in old house offers her best chance of shelter for the night. The next morning, a mysterious letter arrives and when she can't help but open it, she finds herself drawn inexorably into the story of two lovers from another time. 

In London 1942, Stella meets Dan, a US airman, quite by accident, but there is no denying the impossible, unstoppable love that draws them together. Dan is a B-17 pilot flying his bomber into Europe from a British airbase; his odds of survival at one in five. The odds are stacked against the pair; the one thing they hold onto is the letters they write to each other. Fate is unkind and they are separated by decades and continents. In the present, Jess becomes determined to find out what happened to them. Her hope -inspired by a love so powerful it spans a lifetime - will lead her to find a startling redemption in her own life.

Letters to the Lost is the kind of love story that will sweep you away from the very first page. Iona Grey's prose is warm, evocative, and immediately engaging; her characters become so real you can't bear to let them go. This is a story of time, forgiveness, and love in the past and the present.  Fans of Kate Morton will enjoy this.  Highly recommended. 

~ Dot

All That is Lost Between Us

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All That is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster

Seventeen-year-old Georgia has a secret - one that is isolating her from everyone she loves. She is desperate to tell her best friend, but Sophia is ignoring her, and she doesn't know why. Before she can find out, Sophia is left fighting for her life after a hit and run, with Georgia a traumatised witness. 

As a school psychologist, Georgia's mother, Anya, should be used to dealing with scared adolescents. However, it's very different when the girl who needs help is your own child. Meanwhile, Georgia's father, Callum, is wracked with a guilt he can't share - and when her younger brother, Zac, stumbles on an unlikely truth, the family relationships begin to implode. Georgia's secret is about to go viral, leaving her in terrible danger. 

Can the family rise above the lies they have told and fight for what matters most of all?

Why we love it: 
All That is Lost Between Us is a gripping thriller and yet it’s more than that; it’s a family drama, a compelling story of motherhood, marriage and the perils of adolescence.

~ from The Team at Better Reading

Before Rupert

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Before Rupert: Keith Murdoch and the birth of a dynasty by Tom D.C. Roberts

Following the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, Rupert Murdoch said his greatest regret was that he had let his father down. Popular history views Sir Keith Murdoch (1885 - 1952) as a fearless war correspondent - author of the famous letter that led to the evacuation of the Anzac force from Gallipoli - and a principled journalist and dedicated family man who, on his death, left a single provincial newspaper to Rupert.
Virtually everyone knows of Rupert Murdoch, but how many of us know about his father Keith and how he established the family’s media empire? 

Rupert certainly inherited that empire and expanded it into the vast communications network which reaches into almost every aspect of our modern lives, but Keith founded it, shaped it and set it on the path to wielding the immense power and influence it does today. Keith set the course which Rupert followed. 

Keith was a self-made man from modest beginnings – his father was a Presbyterian minister who certainly did not encourage bold entrepreneurship. Keith began a career in journalism and used all means possible to develop political and commercial power and influence. He created newspapers and prime ministers and exercised authority over all without hesitation. Joe Lyons was Prime Minister largely due to Keith Murdoch’s influence, and was often reduced to standing before Keith’s desk hat in hand bearing the brunt of his fury. 

The book retains links with the modern Murdoch dynasty too, by juxtaposing Rupert’s, James’s and Lachlan’s speeches and actions which illustrate clearly that the spirit of Keith lives on today. This book is a great read and I devoured it. 

~ Teresa


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