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The Last of the President's Men

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The Last of the President’s Men by Bob Woodward

An intimate but disturbing portrayal of Nixon in the Oval Office. In forty-six hours of interviews with Butterfield, supported by thousands of documents, many of them original and not in the presidential archives and libraries, Woodward has uncovered new dimensions of Nixon's secrets, obsessions and deceptions

Bob Woodward is of course most famous for co-authoring (along with Carl Bernstein) the seminal work “All the President’s Men” way back on 1974, and has written many more on US politics. In this book he revisits Watergate, unearthing the little known character of Alexander Butterfield, a man who perhaps can be accredited with the eventual fall of Richard Nixon. Butterfield was the Nixon aide who was responsible for the installation of the infamous Whitehouse taping system which ultimately brought him down, as the existence of the taping system provided proof of Nixon’s criminal acts. 

Butterfield’s somewhat ambiguous relationship with Nixon is fascinating to read about: he acknowledges Nixon as devious, cruel and secretive, yet also recognizes his political brilliance and foreign policy triumphs. Perhaps the central point which shone through for me was the recognition that this was another era, one in which the President was never questioned, his every wish obeyed despite his staff’s awareness that his commands were illegal. I like to think that that is no longer the situation today ... Surely?

~ Teresa

Summers with Juliette

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Summers with Juliette by Emily Madden

From the cover: Almost twenty years ago, on a beautiful coastal cliff, Juliette Cole, Anne Kendall and Sera Di Maggio made a vow to be there for each other no matter what might happen in their lives.

Now Juliette is calling in the promise -- terminally ill, she wants her two friends to come back to Ellesmere to help her through her last summer. The trouble is Anna and Sera haven't spoken in years, and Anna hasn't returned home since she and her mother were run out of town in disgrace.
But Anna and Sera do have one thing in common: they want Juliette to fight her cancer by any means possible. When they realise the only way may be to find a man called Noah, they reluctantly agree to put aside their differences and search for him.

But, as Anna and Sera discover, sometimes facing the past is the best way to face the future, and perhaps the only way they will find the strength for their last summer with Juliette.

Wow, what an amazing book. This tells the story of three friends who made a pact when they were just girls that if any of them needed each other, they only had to make the call and they would be there.

The author weaves a brilliant story about the three friends and what transpires when they are all together again. The other characters in the book are well developed and fit into the story so well. Of course there is romance and scandal and happiness and sadness. This book will appeal to readers who enjoy romance or women's fiction. I don't want to give too much away without spoilers, all I can say is ... Read this book!


Public Library and other stories

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You sometimes do judge a book by its cover, or at least in this case, it's cover title.  As I love public libraries, aside from the fact that I work in one, I was intrigued by what Ali Smith would bring in  a book entitled "Public Library and other stories".

From the blurb:  This is a richly inventive new collection of stories from Ali Smith, author of 'How to be both', winner of the Baileys Women's Prize and the Costa Novel Award and short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Why are books so very powerful? What do the books we've read over our lives - our own personal libraries - make of us? What does the unravelling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us? The stories in Ali Smith's new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make. Public libraries are places of joy, freedom, community and discovery - and right now they are under threat from funding cuts and widespread closures across the UK and further afield. With this brilliantly inventive collection, Ali Smith joins the campaign to save our public libraries and celebrate their true place in our culture and history.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the book - probably because I expected more about public libraries when that was part of the title.  Of the twelve stories, only one has any focus on books, but none on libraries.  The public library angle comes together in short personal reflections, from both the author and from correspondence she has received from others, regarding public libraries.

The stories themselves are very eclectic and wandering and were a bit of a challenge to read, but the reward was that they were a challenge in themselves.

If you enjoy short stories, fiction that is quirky and unusual or good descriptive language that gives a good mental picture of what is going on, then "Public Library and other stories" is worth a try.

~ Michelle

Who Do You Love

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Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are just eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she's intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy's taken back to a doctor and Rachel's sent back to her bed, they think they'll never see each other again. 

Rachel grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb, the popular and protected daughter of two doting parents. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation. Over the next three decades, their paths cross in magical and ordinary ways. They make grand plans and dream big dreams as they grow together and apart in starts and stops. Through it all, Andy and Rachel never stop thinking about that night in the hospital waiting room all of those years ago, a chance encounter that changed the course of both of their lives. 

In this captivating, often witty tale about the bonds between women and men, love and fate, and the truth about happy endings, Jennifer Weiner delivers two of her most memorable characters and a love story you'll never forget.

This was a very easy read and I really enjoyed it. The story of Rachel and Andy spans 30 years, and all through the book you are hit with 'will they?' or 'won't they?' get together. The individual story lines of both characters were engaging. This is the first Jennifer Weiner book I have read, and I think this would make a great movie or telemovie!

~ Janine

Never Enough

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Never Enough: Donald Trump and the pursuit of success by Michael D’Antonio

In one way or another, Donald Trump has been a topic of conversation in America for almost forty years. No one in the world of business - not Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Warren Buffett - has been as famous as Trump for as long. 

First associated with high-profile real estate development in 1970s Manhattan, his name has since become synonymous with success defined by wealth and luxury. What does one make of a grown man who, when he argues with women, stoops to insulting their appearance and habitually courts controversy?  What if the same man were among the most prominent people in the world, and a privately generous person who once handed a dying child a $50,000 check so that he could enjoy the last months of his life? 

Add to the picture a kind of resilience that has allowed him to stage countless comebacks and truly a boundless level of optimism, and you get a figure so compelling that he cannot be dismissed simply because of his personality. 

Drawing upon exclusive interviews and detailed research, Michael D'Antonio presents the full story of Donald Trump, a man who, for all of his excesses, is perfectly adapted to our world.

Donald Trump is much in the news these days (perhaps for all the wrong reasons) so I was interested to learn more about his history and possibly get a glimpse of his motivations and true personality. 

I did learn a few surprising facts – for instance, in 2000 Donald Trump was actually associated with the left wing independent Reform Party and even formed an exploratory committee to see their nomination for president. The book is filled with the history of his shady business deals (he filed for bankruptcy three times, all the while continuing to draw his $2,000,000 a year salary), heavy involvement with the Birther movement (a bunch of loonies who insist, despite production of his full birth certificate, that Barack Obama was not born in the USA and is therefore ineligible to be US President), and continuous marriages and affairs with woman after woman.

At the end of it all, all I can do is hope he doesn’t get the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination after all. The thought of him at the helm of a world power is truly terrifying.


The Fixer

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The Fixer by Joseph Finder

When former investigative reporter Rick Hoffman loses his job, fiancee, and apartment, his only option is to move back into and renovate the home of his miserable youth, now empty and in decay since the stroke that put his father in a nursing home. As Rick starts to pull apart the old house, he makes an electrifying discovery millions of dollars hidden in the walls. It's enough money to completely transform Rick's life and everything he thought he knew about his father. Yet the more of his father's hidden past that Rick brings to light, the more dangerous his present becomes. Soon, he finds himself on the run from deadly enemies desperate to keep the past buried, and only solving the mystery of his father a man who has been unable to communicate, comprehend, or care for himself for almost 20 years will save Rick ... if he can survive long enough to do it.

This is an intriguing tale about a young man who discovers a wealth of money hidden inside his father’s desolate and decrepit home. Questions are endless – how did it get there, how long has it been there, and who does it truly belong too? Better yet, Rick Hoffman decides in his time of desperation, to keep the money for himself. 

With his experience as an investigative reporter, Rick embarks on the dangerous journey to discover some of these answers and as well as protect the money. Only there is one catch! His father is unable to guide him to the answers, offer any information, or warn him of the dangers, due to his inability to speak after suffering a stroke many years earlier.

Rick Hoffman finds himself in many dangerous situations that, incredibly, he survives each time. He is like a cat with nine lives. A little too incredulous to believe; but a great tale nonetheless.

Joseph Finder is a New York Times bestselling author of eleven previous novels, including Paranoia and High Crimes, both of which became major motion pictures.

~ Narelle

Beside Myself

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan 

Helen and Ellie are twins living in the suburbs of London. Helen is the confident, domineering twin; younger twin Ellie is timid and a little slow. Helen treats Ellie with disdain and cruelty, until one day Helen invents a game and they swap places. Only problem is, at the end of the day, Ellie won’t swap back. No one, not her mother, friends, teachers, will believe Helen when she wants the game to end. In what should be an implausible outcome – but in Morgan’s capable hands is entirely believable – Ellie becomes Helen.

At this time in their lives, Helen and Ellie’s mother barely gets out of bed, after their father’s ‘Unfortunate Decision’ – the family’s euphemism for his suicide years earlier. That is, until the arrival of scoutmaster Horace, their mother’s lover. While their mother views him as the saviour of the family, the former Helen hates him and only wants her identity back.  Her mother insists that everyone conform to their new ‘happy life’ so she won’t stand for the elder twin’s nonsense when she wants to return to her old self. From this point, Helen’s life starts to spin out of control with casual sex, drugs and mental illness.

In alternate chapters we meet the grown-up former Helen – now known only as Smudge – a broken woman living on welfare. Her life has unraveled since the game but when her now successful and famous twin is hurt in a car accident all memories of the past are dredged up and Smudge finally faces what happened that day and all that has happened in between.

Beside Myself is a compellingly dark novel that examines issues around inherited mental illness and sense of identity. It makes us wonder how much of ourselves is influenced by other people’s perception of us and how much is real. It’s thought-provoking in its depiction of how childhood trauma can affect our lives and Morgan’s depiction of Helen/Smudge’s bipolar episodes – her manic behaviour, voices in her head and her highs and lows – are vivid and fully of sympathy.

Why we love it:
Beside Myself grabs you from the first page and holds you in its vice-like grip until the last. The story of identical twins Helen and Ellie is desperately sad and scary, but thoroughly entertaining and at times darkly humorous.

from The Team at Better Reading

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

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Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? a memoir by Roz Chast 

Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-colour cartoons, family photos and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents. 

While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies - an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades - the theme is universal.

This amazing memoir is something really quite special.  Roz Chast walks us through the decline of her parents, something all of us have to go through at some stage.  Her parents are strong-willed, independent and fiercely in love with one another, to the point that Chast sometimes feels neglected, left out of their strong partnership.  As they age and the inevitable looms, the roles somewhat reverse and the struggle to find that new balance presents itself - that one where the child becomes the carer whilst trying to maintain the dignity of the parent.

I laughed and cried when reading this book.  My Aunty also read it and loved it so much she is going to tell her local public library they must buy it!  Both my parents are gone now, and I was lucky - before my Mum went we had talked a lot about what she wanted, but as she became sicker and less able, allowing her to maintain her sense of independence was definitely a struggle.

This book is thought provoking, hopefully easing you into those difficult discussions that all families need to broach sooner rather than later.


The Lake House

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The Lake House by Kate Morton

A missing child:  June 1933, and the Edevane family's country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. Alice Edevane, sixteen years old and a budding writer, is especially excited. Not only has she worked out the perfect twist for her novel, she's also fallen helplessly in love with someone she shouldn't. By the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night skies, the Edevane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loeanneth forever. 

An abandoned house: Seventy years later, after a particularly troubling case, Sadie Sparrow is sent on an enforced break from her job with the Metropolitan Police. Sadie retreats to her beloved grandfather's cottage in Cornwall but soon finds herself at a loose end. Until one day, she stumbles upon an abandoned house surrounded by overgrown gardens and dense woods, and learns the story of a baby boy who disappeared without a trace. 

An unsolved mystery:  Meanwhile, in the attic writing room of her elegant Hampstead home, the formidable Alice Edevane, now an old lady, leads a life as neatly plotted as the bestselling detective novels she writes. Until a young police detective starts asking questions about her family's past, seeking to resurrect the complex tangle of secrets Alice has spent her life trying to escape.

I really like Kate Morton's books - The Distant Hours my favourite to date, so I was very much looking forward to her latest, The Lake House.

Kate is an Australia author, not that you would know it.  She comes across as very much English, with her absorbing characters set in old houses deep within the British countryside, usually by the pounding sea, somewhat reminiscent of Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ and a bit gothic a la ‘Wuthering Heights’.

Her writing is a delight, so atmospheric with some beautiful turns of phrase.  Similar to her other stories (2006 - The House at Riverton (also known as The Shifting Fog); 2008 - The Forgotten Garden; 2010 - The Distant Hours; and 2012 - The Secret Keeper), Morton switches time zones effortlessly in this book, swinging between Sadie, the modern day cop with a big problem to deal with, to the early 20th century Edavanes and sundry staff/hangers on, where the major story builds.

My only criticism is it is far too long, labouring and chugging along, pleasantly getting nowhere for quite some time so if you were reading the hard copy, you would be inclined to skip wads of pages.  I did a few fast forwards while listening to the audio version, narrated well by Caroline Lee, but don't let this put you off - it's a good read.


The Broken

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The Broken by Tamar Cohen

From the cover:  Best friends tell you everything; about their kitchen renovation; about their girls schooling. Best friends don’t tell lies. They don’t take up residence on your couch for weeks. They don’t call lawyers. They don’t make you choose sides. Best friends don’t keep secrets about their past. They don’t put you in danger. Best friends don’t always stay best friends.

This is a psychological drama that will have you baffled. It is such an easy predicament to be in, to have best friends separating and then divorce. Many of us have experienced it within our own friendship circles. The situation here though became messy and dangerous when Hannah and her husband Josh, get too involved in the messy separation of their close friends, Sasha and Dan. It was not that they meant to, but rather the way that Sasha and Dan demanded and manipulated the friendship for their own benefits. Which poses the question, “Are they really best friends after all?” 

Added to that, both couples have young innocent children swept up into this chaos. There are many accusations, lies, secrets, manipulation and abuse that will have the reader wondering what is in fact true and what is in fact false. And are all characters truly who they say they are? Cohen saves the best to last with an ending that will leave the reader speechless.

~ Narelle

Jessie Trail - Harkaway Artist

Links to our Past - history -

Jessie was born on July 29,  1881 to  a well off family in Brighton. She was the youngest of four daughters  of George Hamilton Traill and Jessie Frances Montague Neilley. George was the Manager of the Oriental Bank in Melbourne. We have an account of Jessie's life written by her cousin, Bethia Foott (nee Anderson) in 1966. Bertha writes that when Jessie was young she was playing on the beach at Black Rock and met 'a younger friend of her father, Tom Roberts. The little girl admired him greatly. She loved to watch him painting those charming sketches he made of Port Phillip Bay, and when she grew up she formed a lasting friendship with him and his wife and little son, often meeting them when they lived in London'

Jessie Traill, c. 1920, proofing an etching by subdued light. State Library of Victoria Image H2000.63/6
The Traill family travelled overseas on a regular basis; when Jessie was about twelve her mother took the four girls to England and they all went to School in Switzerland. Her mother,  Jessie,  died on October 1, 1893. Bethia Foott records that when Jessie was nineteen (so about 1900) her father took Jessie and her sister Minna to Italy and sadly George died when he was overseas and the sisters had to organise his funeral. This doesn't actually tally with George's will which states that he died on April 7, 1907, but this discrepancy doesn't diminish Bethia's account of Jessie's life. Thus by 1907 the four sisters were orphans  but had inherited enough to allow them to have a secure income and live independent lives. Interstingly, Bethia records,  after the death of their father, two of her sisters, Kathleen and Minna, then entered the Community of the Holy Name at Cheltenham in Victoria as Church of England nuns. Kathleen died in November 1952 and Minna in September 1964.

Jessie attended the National Gallery Schools in Melbourme from 1902 to 1906, where she was taught by Frederick McCubbin. She was one of the first women to practice etching in Australia and studied this further in London and Paris. In 1909 Jessie held her first one-woman show in Melbourne.

Review of Jessie Traill's show from Table Talk May 27, 1909http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article147570341
When the Great War broke out, Jessie went to England and joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment and nursed in a military hospital in Rouen, France from 1915 until 1919.  The State Library of Victoria has a photograph album, which belonged to Jessie, of images take in Rouen of the hospital, the nursing staff, the soldiers and also various post cards of local towns. Click here to access the album..

After the War Jessie joined the Australian Painters-Etchers Society and had regular exhibitions. Her subjects included the Sydney Harbour Bridge, factories and mines and landscapes. Jessie and Elsie lived together at Sandringham and Elsie formed the first Red Cross shop in Melbourne where wounded war veterans could sell some of their work.  Elsie later donated money to have the E.M Traill Wing built at Janet Clarke Hall (the first Women's College)  at Melbourne University, from where she had graduated.

Shire of Berwick Rate Books entry from 1918 (click on image to enlarge) 
Jessie and Elsie  had  a local connection. According to the Shire of Berwick Rate Books (see above) Jessie and her sister Elsie purchased land at Harkaway in 1913/1914. The property consisted of  a house, and 5  acres and was part of Lot 3, Parish of Berwick ( the actual address is 238 Harkaway Road) The property was named Harfra.

Possum time: Harfra at Night etching by Jessie Traill. http://www.printsandprintmaking.gov.au/works/13841/images/1872/
Jessie spent time at Harkaway when she was not travelling overseas or in Australia and had a studio built on an adjacent block in 1924. Elsie died in December 1946. Harfra was sold in 1948 to her friend, Enid Joske, who was a teacher at Melbourne University and Principal of Janet Clarke Hall, but Jessie kept the the Studio on one acre of land.

Shire of Berwick Rate Books 1948 (click on image to enlarge) 
Jessie later sold the Sandringham house and lived in her Studio at Harkaway, until she died on May 15, 1967,  having lived an amazingly interesting and worthwhile life. Bethia wrote this lovely tribute to Jessie in 1966, the year before  she died.

Whether she is in England, France or Australia, Cousin Jessie, with her keen blue eyes and graceful flexible hands is loved by us all and I know of no-one elsewhere in the course  of so long a life  has done more good or helped more people,  than she has done. In all her many exhibitions she has always donated the proceeds to charity.  She has sponsored migrants, helped those in their distress; and as for us if -some one needs to add a  room, replace an old car, paint  a house or buy a ram - who is that helps us? Cousin Jessie.

Deeply religious, selfless in her wants and ways, she is indeed the  truest Christian I have ever known.  And although she no longer works at her craft, those lovely hands, moving so expressively, so decisively and so surely are still as flexible and lissom as they were when she was  girl.

Jessie Traill, c. 1965  outside her house in the north of England, aged 84.State Library of Victoria Image H2000.63/7
There is an exhibition of Jessie Traill prints on at the Geelong Gallery until February 14 2016. You can read about it here.

Jessie Traill Nature Reserve in Harkaway is on land partly donated by Jessie to the Council and is named in her honour.

You can read more about Jessie Traill here in her entry, written by Mary Alice Lee,  in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. 


Reading Rewards - reviews -

Carol by Patricia Highsmith

Therese is a budding set designer in 1950s New York who takes a boring, casual job as a sales assistant in the toy section of a Manhattan department store during the lead-up to Christmas. With no family and in a relationship with a man she doesn’t love, Therese’s life changes when a beautiful, sophisticated woman arrives at the store to buy a gift for her daughter.

The soon-to-be-divorced Carol and Therese strike up an intense friendship that turns into something deeply romantic. But this is 1950s America and gay relationships among women are not accepted by society. They try to repress their simmering passions but soon their whole worlds are threatened.

Therese, 19, bored and lonely, becomes obsessed by Carol. But the blonde and frosty Carol has much more to lose than Therese – she is older and wealthy, with an estranged husband who is threatening to seek sole custody of Carol’s only daughter. She tries to escape it all by taking Therese on a road-trip through America where they relax enough to reveal their love for each other. But when they find that they’re being followed, Carol knows her husband is on their case and there is way too much at stake.

Patricia Highsmith is a writer best known for her psychological thrillers including The Talented Mr Ripley. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, brought her fame when made into a memorable movie by Alfred Hitchcock.  Her second novel Carol was originally published in 1952 with the title The Price of Salt and under an pseudonym after her own publishers rejected it on account of its subject matter. When it was published in 1989 as Carol under her own name, Highsmith wrote an afterword explaining some of the reasons the book was rejected at the time: “Those were the days when gay bars were a dark door somewhere in Manhattan, where people wanting to go to a certain bar got off the subway a station before or after the convenient one, lest they were suspected of being homosexual.”  

Why we love it:
This latest release of Patricia Highsmith’s once controversial novel coincides with the movie starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Carol is evocative and moving; its tension building slowly but surely until its satisfying conclusion.  A hauntingly atmospheric love story set against the backdrop of fifties’ New York. 

from The Team at Better Reading


Reading Rewards - reviews -

Cairo by Chris Womersley

From the cover: Frustrated by country life and eager for adventure and excitement, seventeen-year-old Tom Button moves to the city to study. Once there, and living in a run-down apartment block called Cairo, he is befriended by the eccentric musician Max Cheever, his beautiful wife Sally, and their close-knit circle of painters and poets. As Tom falls under the sway of his charismatic older friends, he enters a bohemian world of parties and gallery openings. Soon, however, he is caught up in more sinister events involving deception and betrayal, not to mention one of the greatest unsolved art heists of the twentieth century: the infamous theft of Picasso's Weeping Woman. Set among the demimonde -- where nothing and nobody is as they seem -- Cairo is a novel about growing up, the perils of first love, and finding one's true place in the world.

Having stepped off a country train at Spencer Street Station to study at university at a similar age to our narrator Tom, I felt an affinity with his memoir, but from there our paths diverged! I was living in Melbourne and had studied Visual Arts with Prof Patrick McCaughey not long before the audacious theft of Weeping Woman from the National Gallery of Victoria, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the well-known events described in this novel. But the story weaves you into Tom’s bohemian lifestyle and the characters he meets inhabiting the wonderful art deco complex known as Cairo.  Loved it!


Career of evil

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Career of evil by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym for J.K. Rowling) is the latest in the Cormoran Strike series of mysteries and it was a gangbuster of a read.

From the book:  When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman's severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible - and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality. With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them...

Career of evil is full of amazing twists and turns, not only in the mystery, but in the personal lives of the two main characters - Cormoran and Robin.  As they go through many stressful episodes in the course of the case and the torture being perpetuated by the unknown assailant, their personal and working relationships are also severely impacted.

With the emotional rollercoaster they are on and with the uncertainty of their long-term safety, Galbraith takes you on an amazing ride that leaves you unable to put the book down.   Twists and turns take the investigation and their relationship in different directions until you nearly don't know which way is up and you feel like yelling at the pages.

The ending is both satisfactory and not, with the resolving of the mystery catching me completely by surprise.

If you want a good mystery that keeps you on your toes, keeps you guessing and gets you in with the characters, then you won't want to miss Career of evil.

~ Michelle

Is This My Beautiful Life?

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Is This My Beautiful Life? by Jessica Rowe

Journalist, celebrity, television presenter, author, ambassador for beyondblue and patron of its work on post-natal depression, Member of the Order of Australia, risk-taker, social commentator, charity worker, public speaker, passionate mother and wife, Jessica Rowe is all of these things, and more. And in this extraordinary memoir, Jessica reveals herself as a woman who thought it would be easy to have it all, to do it all. 

But what was supposed to be her beautiful life derailed in the very public collapse of her television career accompanied by astonishingly hurtful public trolling, her long struggle to conceive, her fears and what she believed to be failings as a mother and in her professional life, and the diagnosis of post-natal depression.

Thankfully, with proper medical help, and that of her beloved husband and family, Jessica ultimately rediscovers her 'sparkle'.

Deeply honest, funny, gut-wrenching and touching this book will be treasured by women who don't feel they fit the mould of the perfect woman; women who understand that in life, 'having it all' may develop a different meaning; and women suffering from post-natal depression, who will be encouraged that it's okay to ask for help.

I actually enjoyed this book. I remember when Jessica was outed from Channel 9 by Eddie McGuire, which I thought was terrible. Jessica tells her story about her marriage to Peter [Overton, Nine Network News reporter], her struggle to become pregnant, and her subsequent post-natal depression. She is quite honest in admitting that just because you are 'famous' doesn't mean you are capable of being perfect, and she is far from that. A very honest memoir.  


Cranbourne Presbyterian Church Honour Roll

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

The Cranbourne Presbyterian Church Honour Roll is housed at the Fishermans Cottage Museum at Tooradin. The Museum is operated by the Cranbourne Shire Historical Society. It's a beautiful board, in a Gothic ecclesiastical style.  What follows is a list of soldiers on the Honour Board,  their fate (i.e. when they Returned to Australia after active service or when they were Killed in Action) and their Service Number (SN) so you can look up their full service record on the National Archives website (www.naa.gov.au)

Baker, Alexander George  (SN 1782) Alexander enlisted on June 11, 1915 at the age of 22. He was a farmer and his next of kin was his father, Mr J. W Baker of Lyndhurst. Alexander was awarded the Military Medal in 1917. He Returned to Australia April 8,  1919
The T. Bell listed on the Honour Roll is either Thomas Bell (SN 340) or Thomas Bell (SN 3773) They are both Presbyterian.Bell, Thomas  (SN 340)  Thomas was one month off 25 years of age when he enlisted on January 18, 1915. His next of kin was his father, J. Bell of Cranbourne and his occupation was farm labourer. Thomas Returned to Australia January 2, 1919.Bell, Thomas Stanley (SN 3773)  Thomas enlisted on August 12, 1915 aged 23. His next of kin was his mother, Mary Ann Bell of St Germains, Clyde. Thomas Returned to Australia October 18, 1917 and was discharged on medical grounds on January 21, 1918. In June 1917 he had been wounded - 'Gun shot wound chest penetrating' was the description of the wound.
Bethune, Rupert Charles (SN 3672) Rupert enlisted at the age of 26 on July 24, 1915. His next of kin was his mother, Mrs Annie Meade of Cranbourne.  Rupert was Killed in Action in France on July 19, 1916.
Bethune, William Charles (SN 3262) William was a 20 year old grocer when he enlisted on June 30, 1917, his next of kin was his mother, Mrs Susie Bethune, of Cranbourne. William Returned to Australia on July 23, 1919.
Brunt, Robert Harold  (SN 26769) Robert is the son of  William Brunt and  Mary Jane (nee Espie), who lived at Spring Villa, where the Settlement Hotel is now located. William was a Cranbourne Shire Councillor from 1904 to 1923. Robert enlisted on February 26, 1916 aged 27 and Returned to Australia on May 31, 1919. Brunt Street in Cranbourne is named for the family.
Cameron, Alexander Gordon (SN 1688) Alexander enlisted on June 28, 1915 at the age of 23. His next of kin was his mother, Mary Ann Cameron of Heatherleigh in Cranbourne. Alexander Returned to Australia May 15, 1919. Alexander's father was Ewen (1860 to 1903) and his mother Mary Ann (1859 to 1947)  was also a Cameron and she was the daughter of early Cranbourne pioneer, Alexander Cameron ( 1814 to 1881) who took up the Mayune run in 1851 and purchased the pre-emptive right of the property which he re-named Mayfield; he was also a member of the Cranbourne Road Board from 1863 until 1867. Cameron Street in Cranbourne is named for the family.
Daws, James  (SN 3809)  James was 18 years old when he enlisted on July 16, 1915. He was an engine driver and his next of kin was his father, Abraham Daws, of Codringtton Street, Cranbourne. James was Killed in Action in France on May 3, 1917.
Greaves, Charles Forrester (SN 13156) Charles enlisted on July 10, 1915 aged 24.  Charles Returned to Australia  May 6, 1919.Greaves, Sydney Alexander (SN 6523) Lieutenenat Greaves enlisted at the age of 23 on July 16, 1915. He Returned to Australia  May 29, 1919. Charles and Sydney were the sons of of Edwin and Margaret (nee Forrester) Greaves of The Springs, Berwick. Edwin's brother, William, owned Picnic Park at Lyndhurst.
Hallyburton, Adam Benjamin  (SN 391) Adam enlisted at the age of 21 on February 3, 1915. He was Killed in Action in France on July 27, 1918. His next of kin was his father, W.B Hallyburton of Cranbourne. 
Hill, Leslie Victor (SN 64207) Leslie first enlisted on November 27, 1917 - claimed he  was 18 and his next of kin was his father, Leslie of Nilma, this was,of course, all lies. His father sent  a stern letter asking how it is that the military authorities have taken him in as he was not only underage but didn't have his parent's permission. He was discharged on March 14, 1918 because  he was underage, but then he re-enlisted less than two moths later, on May 1.  This time he truthfully said that his father was Samuel Hill of Tooradin Park in Tooradin. He was sent overseas to Egypt, where he arrived in October 1918 and he Returned to Australia on July 3, 1919.
Innes, Peter  (SN 1757)  Listed as Innis on the Honour Board. Peter was 33 when he enlisted on January 5, 1915. He was killed at Gallipoli four months later on August 6, 1915. His next of kin was his brother, William, of Hicksborough. Peter was a resident of Cranbourne when he enlisted and his death was reported in the 'Patriotic News' section of the South Bourke and Mornington Journal

Report on the death of Peter Innes.South Bourke and Mornington Journal September 23, 1915http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66188498

Kennedy, Alexander Stewart  (SN 2131) Alexander enlisted at the age of 31 on March 2, 1916. His occupations were listed as 'farmer and general smith'. His next of kin was his wife, Helen Quinn Kennedy. His enlistment papers say that he had spent 5 years with the Tooradin Rifle Club. Alexander Returned to Australia January 24, 1919.
Kirkham, Malcolm (SN 913)  Malcolm was 29, and a farmer from Lyndhurst, when he enlisted on June 8, 1915. His next of kin was his mother, Margaret. Lieutenant Kirkham was Killed in Action in France on September 2, 1918.
This is an article about the deaths of Malcolm Kirkham and William Lecky. This is the link to the original article on Trove, which may be easier to read http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66194848South Bourke and Mornington Journal  October 10, 1918.

Laidlaw, Rodney Goulburn (SN 2037) Rodney was a black smith and enlisted  on April 18, 1917 at the age of 28. His next of kin was his father, Robert, of Cranbourne,  He Returned to Australia on May 6, 1919. Interestingly, Rodney was born in Tatura which is in the Goulburn Valley and also part  of the old Shire of Rodney, which presumably influenced his parents when they were naming him.
Lecky, James Alexander (SN 19922)  James enlisted on February 25, 1916 at the age of 25. He died of 'wounds  received in action' in France on November 14, 1918. The wound was a gun shot wound to the chest, which he sustained on October 25 1918.  Lecky, William Mervyn  (SN 6612) William enlisted on June 15, 1915 aged 20. He was killed in Action in France on September 1, 1918.James and William were the sons of James Lecky of Cardinia Park in Officer. James (1841 to 1939) was a Cranbourne Shire Councillor from 1876 until 1905.  Their grandfather, also James (1802 to 1884) had taken up the Gin Gin Bean Run (later named Cardinia Park) at Officer in 1854 and he was a member of the Cranbourne Road Board and the Cranbourne Shire from 1860 until 1881.  Lecky Road in Officer/Pakenham  is named for the family.
McLellan, Donald (SN 2207) Donald was 19 when he enlisted on February 28, 1916. He was born at Lyndhurst and his next of kin was his father, Alexander of Ferndale, Cranbourne. Alexander Returned to Australia on June 10, 1919.
Morris, Philip Samuel (SN 1509) Philip enlisted at the age of 34 on September 6, 1918. He served in Rabaul in New Guinea and then was seconded to the Department of Agriculture over there and Returned to Australia on January 28 1920 and was discharged on medical grounds (post-malarial debility) on March 7, 1920.  His next of kin on enlistment was his wife, Minnie, and his address was Ellamatta, Cranbourne and his occupation was orchardist. 
Pitcher, Claude  William Leonard (SN 2552)  Claude enlisted on February 26, 1916, aged 21. He was a farmer and his next of kin was his father, John, of Cranbourne,  He Returned to Australia July 31, 1918 after being wounded including sustaining a gun shot wound to his right shoulder, and discharged on October 14, 1918.
Read, George Alfred  (SN 1636) George enlisted at the age of 21 on November 10, 1916. His next of kin at the time was his father, William, of Myrtle Cottage, Cranbourne.  He Returned to Australia on December 21, 1919.
Reeves, A.R  This is  possibly Albert Reginald Reeves, he is the only A.R Reeves I can find who enlisted. Albert was farm labourer, so could have worked on a local farm, but I can't find  a specific local connection.  He enlisted on July 20, 1915 at the age of one month off 23 years of age. He was born in Essex in England and his next of kin was his father, who also lived in Essex. Albert Returned to Australia on April 19, 1919.
Ryland, Arthur Anderson (SN 2553) Arthur enlisted at the age of 21 on March 23, 1916. His next of kin was his mother, Amelia Ryland of Clyde; his father Alfred having already died.  He stayed in France after the War ended and was attached to the Australian Base Depot and on September 29, 1919 he married Marie Jeanne Hureaux at the Town Hall in Argenteuil, in France.   He Returned to Australia on February 2, 1920. What happened to Marie? Did she come to Australia? In the 1925 Electoral Roll Arthur is listed at Duff Street Cranbourne with the interesting occupation, Picture Showman. Also at the address is his mother, Amelia, and  Hilda Alice Ryland, his sister, who was a dressmaker. In the 1930s Arthur was President of the Cranbourne Football Club, on the Recreation Reserve Committee and President of the Cranbourne Band Committee and gave his sister Ruth 'away' at her marriage to Thomas Facey, amongst other things. So we know all this, but I can't tell you what happened to Marie.

This is the original Cranbourne Presbyterian Church, built in 1860 and served the Cranbourne Community until the exisiting Church was built in 1953.

Stark, John (SN 4311) John enlisted on July 20, 1915 at the age of 20, he was a Railway employee. His next of kin was his father, William, of Cranbourne, even though in  a letter William wrote in August 1917, he has his address listed as Devon Meadows, Cranbourne.  John was Killed in Action in France on August 18, 1916.
Strong, Frederick William (SN 29790) Frederick enlisted on March 23, 1916. He was 27 and  a farmer. Frederick Returned to Australia  May 31, 1919.Strong, Albert Victor  (SN 29789) Albert was 24 when he enlisted on the same day as his brother, Frederick. He Returned to Australia on February 7, 1919. Frederick and Albert were both born in Portarlington and were the sons  of William Strong of Ercildoune, Cranbourne.
Taylor, William George (SN 1740) He is listed as G. Taylor on the Honour Board.  William was 24, had been born in Lyndhurst and  enlisted on February 17, 1916. He was the son of Richard Thomas Taylor whose address was Post Office Lyndhurst   William Returned to Australia January 8, 1919.   
Thomas, Hedley Howard (SN 4611) Hedley enlisted on September 3, 1915. He was Killed in Action in France, on July 10, 1918. He was the son of George Thomas of Clyde. His enlistment papers said that he was Methodist, but this may have been a mistake, or he may have just been very ecumenical.

<br /><a href="http://d.gr-assets.com

Book Swamp -

Title: The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop
Author: Kate Saunders
Type of story: Fantasy
A family have inherited a magical chocolate shop and long ago it's famous chocolate makers were clever sorcerers. Now evil villains are hunting the secret of their greatest recipe. The children are swept into a thrilling battle helped by an invisible cat, a talking rat and the ghost of an elephant.
How good was it? Fantastic
Age: 8

Close Your Eyes

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham

A mother and her teenage daughter are found brutally murdered in a remote farmhouse, one defiled by multiple stab wounds and the other left lying like Sleeping Beauty waiting for her Prince. Reluctantly, clinical psychologist Joe O'Loughlin is drawn into the investigation when a former student, calling himself the 'Mindhunter', trading on Joe's name, has jeopardised the police inquiry by leaking details to the media and stirring up public anger. With no shortage of suspects and tempers beginning to fray, Joe discover links between these murders to a series of brutal attacks where the men and women are choked unconscious and the letter 'A' is carved into their foreheads. As the case becomes ever more complex, nothing is quite what it seems and soon Joe's fate, and that of those closest to him, become intertwined with a merciless, unpredictable killer.

Why we love it:  As if we didn’t already love Michael Robotham’s signature brand of clever, unputdownable thrillers, he has done it all over again with one that ticks all the boxes but is also tender, moving and insightful. 

The novel is a continuation of the O’Loughlin/Ruiz series that Robotham fans know and love, but for newcomers Close Your Eyes can be read standalone. As usual, the pace is fast and it’s really hard to get to sleep at night with a Robotham thriller unread by your bed. This one keeps you guessing until the very end with a line-up of suspects that all seem plausible.

from The Team at Better Reading


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