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Arky Steele: Guardian of the tomb

Book Swamp -



Title: Arky Steele: Guardian of the tomb
Author: E.CoombeType of story: Adventure

Tell us about it: A boy named Arky Steele goes on an adventure with four of his friends to find a golden hand to help find some treasure hidden in a huge mountain. With the help of a scientist, he gives them clues to find the hidden treasure, while two bad men try to find the it before they do.

How good was it? Fantastic

Masen
 Age 13

Weightless

Quicksand -

Blurb:"When Carolyn Lessing moves from New Jersey to Alabama with her mother, she rattles the status quo of the juniors at Adams High. Gorgeous, stylish, a great student and gifted athlete without a mean  bone in her body, Carolyn is gobbled up right away by the school's cliques. She even begins dating a senior, Shane, whose on again/off again girlfriend Brooke becomes Carolyn's bitter romantic rival. When a make-out video of Carolyn and Shane makes the rounds, Carolyn goes from golden girl to slut in an instant, with Brooke and her best friend responsible for the campaign.
Carolyn is hounded and focused on, and becomes more and more private. Questions about her family and her habits torture her. But a violent confrontation with Shane and Brooke in the student parking lot is the last attack Carolyn can take."
My View:Wow, this book should be compulsory reading for all parents and teenagers!It tells the story of the typical "new girl" at high school. Carolyn has just moved into the area and doesn't know anyone at the local high school. She is a bright, talented student, who is just keen to fit in and make some friends. Unfortunately she befriends the ex-boyfriend of one of the clique of girls, and from there on she goes from being a normal girl to a victim of unfounded gossip. The clique even stalks her Facebook account and their comments and posts about her grow legs with each entry. It shows just how social media has changed things these days, sometimes not for the better.
The novel is told from the first person plural. "We" are not named throughout the novel but that is not important to the story. This book should make teenagers think before they make assumptions about people, and how dangerous their actions can be, both to the person they are talking about, and the consequences for themselves as well.
Weightless had me hooked from the beginning and I would highly recommend reading it. It's a debut novel by Sarah Bannan and is one author to watch out for. It would make an excellent Book Club read as well. The library has it available to borrow as a book or as an e-book through Bolinda Digital.
You might like this if you like......:
Pretty Little Liars
The Lying Game
It is a ......: Book
Janine

Heartbreak Hotel

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach


Russell 'Buffy' Buffery erstwhile thespian and thrice-married newly- acquired B&B owner has hit on an idea: So you've split up. It happens to the best of us. But marriage is a division of labour and chances are you've relied on your Better Half for something you can't do yourself, like fixing the house, gardening, car maintenance or sorting out the finances. When they've gone, you're as helpless as a baby. Enrol on Courses for Divorces and in a week you'll be able to stand on your own two feet. 

Join Buffy and his raggle-taggle group of singletons and divorcees as they seek solace and late-flowering love in this novel.

I downloaded the Bolinda e-Audio and surprisingly experienced many laugh-out-loud moments listening to this English romp in the Welsh countryside.  ‘Buffy’ is very genial character; author Deborah Moggach has bestowed him with so many true-to-life quirks and foibles that you feel totally comfortable with him.  She is also quite an astute observer of human nature, particularly with the ‘over 50s’ where long drives make your back hurt, spider veins and liver spots are part of your landscape, comfort instead of matching underwear is a dim memory, and things just ‘don’t quite work like they used to’. The male Nicky Henson delivers a terrific narration, so if you’re looking for a light-hearted, humorous read that is full of warmth and understanding, I can recommend this.
Deb.    
  

Agatha Christie Competition

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The estate of Agatha Christie has launched a quest to find the best-loved novel by the queen of crime.  Famous fans including Val McDermid and David Suchet have entered a public vote to mark the 125th anniversary of the crime writer’s birth.  More than 80 books are in the running to be named the world’s favourite Agatha Christie novel, and the public vote was launched online on 27 April.

Christie’s books have sold more than 1 billion copies in English, with another billion sold in foreign languages, according to her estate. Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was also the first to feature Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and was published in 1920.

The winner of the public vote will be announced in September, the month of Christie’s birth.  You can cast your vote at http://worldsfavouritechristie.com/books - voting closes 31 May, 2015. 

Deb.

The Daughterhood

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Daughterhood by Natasha Fennell

What woman can resist a book about mother/daughter relationships, and with Mothers’ Day approaching, this one is doubly alluring for any female. 

When Natasha Fennell’s mother is diagnosed with what is probably a terminal illness, she is forced to confront her feelings about her mother in the knowledge that her time with her is limited. This in turn led her to seek out other women with a view to exploring the wide range of complex associations daughters have with their mothers. 

Love for their mothers, regret for opportunities missed, resentments and emotional complexities all bubbled to the surface. Through these conversations, a friendship blossomed with Roisin Ingle, a popular columnist at the Irish Times. After a call out in Roisin's column, hundreds of responses poured in and there The Daughterhood was formed.

There are good relationships, bad relationships, no relationships, feelings of love, disconnection, guilt, gratitude, all coated in a veneer of the realisation of the reality of mortality overshadowing them all. The reader cannot but help think of her own relationship with her own mother, and with the huge variation in the stories told, will surely find one with which to identify.

This book is touching, confronting, and hugely personal for any reader. You will find yourself many times sitting there nodding your head thinking: “That’s just like my mother and me”.

Sorry though, not really one for the blokes.
Teresa


False Advertising

Reading Rewards - reviews -

False Advertising by Dianne Blacklock 

Helen always tried to be a good person. She recycles, obeys the water restrictions, she is even polite to telemarketers. As a mother, wife, daughter and nurse, Helen is used to putting everyone's needs before her own. But it only takes one momentary lapse of concentration to shatter her life forever.

There was no momentary lapse for Gemma. Her customary recklessness leaves her pregnant, alone and estranged from her family with her once-promising advertising career in tatters.

So when Gemma barges unceremoniously into Helen's life, things will never be the same again for either of them. Two very different women who have one thing in common - their lives have fallen short of their expectations. But is fate offering them a second chance.

Its no secret that I really enjoy Dianne Blacklock's books, and this is her last one.  I was hoping a new one would be on the way soon, but I'm led to believe it is a little way off yet.

I really loved this story. I love the way Dianne makes the characters be so real. I felt for Helen, the young widow who still believes she is married, and I loved Gemma and her family, her OTT mother and her sister. Dianne weaves an interesting plot in this book and I really believe it would make such a wonderful movie - hey there movie producers you need to option this one!
Janine



Katie and the Cupcake Cure

Book Swamp -


Title: The cupcake diaries: Katie and the Cupcake Cure
Author: Coco Simon
This book is about a girl named Katie Brown. When Katie starts middle school she did not expect her best friend to ditch her with some popular kids. And now her life in middle school is not going well for her. She soon was able to make new friends and even started a club with her friends. She hopes her friend will join her group.
I will recommend this book at ages 8-12.
How good was it? OK
Jordan
12 years old

Summer's Shadow

Book Swamp -


Title: Summer's Shadow
Author: Anna Wilson

I would recommend this book if you like tragedy and mystery books. This book is about a girl named Summer who has to live with her aunt, uncle, and her cousin because her mum died in a car crash. But, her aunt and her cousin don't really like her very much and her uncle doesn't like talking about her family. While she is with her aunt and uncle she starts uncovering secrets about her family and why her mum wanted her to live with her aunt and uncle.
How good was it? Fantastic
Jordan
12 years old

Vale Ruth Rendell

Reading Rewards - reviews -


Ruth Rendell was born Ruth Barbara Grasemann in London in 1930, and passed away aged 85 on 2 May, 2015.   She was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1996 Birthday Honours and a life peer as Baroness Rendell of Babergh.

Rendell's novels included the Inspector Wexford crime series and the psychological thrillers she wrote as Barbara Vine.  Her debut, From Doon with Death, introduced the world to Wexford in 1964. 
Baroness Rendell received many awards, including the Silver, Gold, and Cartier Diamond Daggers from the Crime Writers' Association, three Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America, The Arts Council National Book Awards, and The Sunday Times Literary Award. A number of her works have been adapted for film or television.
Deb

The first Anzac Day commemorations

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

I have found some reports about the commemoration of ANZAC Day in 1916 in the region.  The local papers had lots of reports about fund raising events, send-offs for the local boys who enlisted and sad news about injuries and deaths but I was interested in any reports that specifically referred to Anzac.

The Lang Lang Guardian covered reports from Lang Lang and Yallock (see below) The Pakenham Gazette/Berwick Shire News, which covered Pakenham, Berwick and parts of the Koo-wee-Rup Swamp, had two reports of Anzac commemorations held at the Berwick and Harkaway State Schools (see below)  The Dandenong Advertiser advertised a Patriotic Picnic Meeting at Pakenham on Anzac Day to raise money for the Red Cross.  The picnic had pony races, ‘flag and barrel’ races; ‘pitching the sheaf’ ‘throwing at wicket’ and ‘kicking football for goal’ events. The Advertiser also reported that Pakenham Upper, Pakenham, Toomuc Valley and Pakenham South schools had concerts planned.  The South Bourke and Mornington Journal, which also covered this area, reported only on an event at Dandenong State School.

There was an article in The Argus of April 22, 1916 which indicated that all Schools in the State held a service - The landing of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers on Gallipoli was commemorated in all the State schools of Victoria on Thursday by simple yet impressive ceremonies. The actual anniversary day is April 25, but Thursday was selected as the day of commemoration because next week the school children will be on holiday. 

So, it seems likely that all schools in Victoria must have held a ceremony similar to those at the schools mentioned in the reports below.

Lang Lang
The anniversary of the day on which the Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed on Gallipoli was celebrated at the Lang Lang State School on Thursday last. In the morning the ordinary school programme was carried out and in the afternoon a number of parents and friends assembled while the students sang Kipling’s ‘ Lest we Forget’, ‘ O God our help in ages past’ and the National Anthem, including the verse ‘God bless our splendid men’. The ceremony of saluting the flag was also gone through and the declaration made: ‘I love God and my Country, I will serve the King and cheerfully obey my parents, teachers and the laws’. During the afternoon short and appropriate addresses were delivered by the Rev H. De Putron Hitchcock and Mr W. Cole.
Lang Lang Guardian April 26 1916

Yallock
Anzac Day was celebrated at Yallock School on Thursday. The Rev H. De Putron Hitchcock addressed the children early in the afternoon owing to his having to attend a similar function at Lang Lang at 2 o’clock. The ladies supplied lunch for  the children in their usual sumptuous manner after which a new flag was unfurled and then the Education Department’s programme was adhered to with songs and recitation by the children who did credit to their teacher, Miss Merrigan, who has had the charge of the school for so short a time. Tennis for the grown-ups and races for the children filled in the rest of the afternoon when tea was served and all left for home having thoroughly enjoyed the outing.
Lang Lang Guardian April 26 1916

Harkaway
At the Anzac Day celebrations at Harkaway school an address was delivered in the morning by Mr G. O. Lyon,chairman of the school committee, and in the afternoon an address was given by Cr a’Beckett, correspondent of the committee.
Berwick Shire News May 3, 1916

Berwick
The report in the Berwick Shire News of April 26, 1916 about the Anzac Day celebrations at Berwick School was many paragraphs long. It started by saying that the event was a great success. There was a large attendance of both adult and children and the proceedings throughout were very interesting. The programme was opened by the children singing Kipling’s Recessional hymn ‘God of Our fathers’.

Cr a’Beckett later spoke It was a very important occasion. They had Arbor Day, Bird Day, Empire Day and he understood they were to have a Flower Day, but in the future Anzac Day would be the greatest of them all, as it was a time when they would meet to show their appreciation of and gratitude for the noble deeds of our soldiers at Gallipoli, where many had given their lives for King and Country. All should be proud of their feat of arms. We all believed that they were fighting in a good cause.  Cr a’Beckett went on to say  It was the greatest of sacrifices to lay down one’s  life for a friend , yet many of our soldiers had done this and it would be hoped that such acts of heroism would never be forgotten.  

Cr A’Beckett then presented the school with their Roll of Honour and read the names of the old scholars who had enlisted, numbering 51.  Sergeant Gardiner then spoke, followed by Sergeant-major Leo Rankine.  The Principal, Mr McCann then proposed  a hearty vote of thanks to the speakers. The article reported that the school had raised over £40 for the war effort and the girls had made  a large number of articles and that they also sold 116 Anzac badges. The proceedings closed with the evening hymn, ‘Abide with me’. The children saluted the flag and lollies and fruit were then handed around.  
Berwick Shire News April 26, 1915.

A Commonplace Killing

Reading Rewards - reviews -

A Commonplace Killing by Siân Busby

On a damp July morning in 1946, two schoolboys find a
woman's body on a bomb site in north London...


The woman is identified as Lillian Frobisher, a wife and mother who lived in a war-damaged terrace a few streets away. The police assume that Lil must have been the victim of a vicious sexual assault; but the autopsy finds no evidence of rape, and Divisional Detective Inspector Jim Cooper turns his attention to her private life. How did Lil come to be in the bomb site, 'a well-known lovers' haunt? If she had consensual sex, why was she strangled?  Why was her husband seemingly unaware that she had failed to come home on the night she was killed?

In this gripping murder story, Siân Busby gradually peels away the veneer of stoicism and respectability to reveal the dark truths at the heart of postwar austerity Britain.

This book was agonisingly, teeth-grindingly slow, but it is so well written it just drew me in.  The main character, DDI Jim Cooper, is a sad man leading a weary life and there is no light at the end of the tunnel for him until a refreshing young policewoman sparks a glimmer of hope.  

The story is set in post-war London where they are still using ration coupons, the buildings are still bomb sites, and the population is either on the borderline of starving or turning to crime to get away from powdered eggs and ‘a pub with no beer’.  It’s all very, very depressing.  

The murder is depressing; the characters, no matter which side of the honesty line they stand, are depressing ... Actually, without doubt, this is the most disheartening book I’ve ever read.  It’s all just so bleak.   

At the end of the book there is a note about the author, who was undergoing terminal cancer care at the time of writing, so it’s probably no wonder there is such a pall of hopelessness throughout.  

It’s actually quite a worthy read but if you’re a bit that way yourself, I’d give it a wide berth.  I borrowed the audio download from our Bolinda catalogue and it was very well narrated by Daniel Weyman.
Deb. 


Avengers: Age of Ultron

Quicksand -



“Avengers: Age of Ultron”, the sequel to Marvel’s 2012 hit, had a monumental task in living up to its predecessor. It did not disappoint.The sequel sees the titular team up against an artificial intelligence (the ominously named Ultron (James Spader)) attempting to save the human race by wiping it out, because who’s going to hurt people if there are no people left? Complicating matters is the fact that Ultron is a creation of the team’s own Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and the involvement of the mysterious Maximoff twins Pietro (Alan Taylor Johnson) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen).The film is darker and more personal than the original while maintaining director Joss Whedon’s trademark wit, and is stuffed with fantastic action sequences. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) takes a far more central role this time around and is a stand out amongst the already tremendous cast, and Andy Serkis leaves quite an impression in his brief role as South African smuggler Ulysses Klaue. Marvel newcomer James Spader is incredible as the villainous android Ultron, being completely terrifying in some scenes and utterly hilarious in the next, and is more entertaining and, strangely, more human than most of the villains that Marvel has had to offer so far.Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has his own intriguing subplot that clearly was for the most part abandoned on the cutting room floor, and Captain America (Chris Evans) is far more interesting as a character thanks to his characterization in his last solo outing. Paul Bettany is clearly loving his upgrade from voice (Iron Man’s AI JARVIS) to Vision, who has some of the best moments in the film despite not appearing until the last thirty minutes. Olsen and Johnson similarly revel in their vaguely European accents, and their powers are visually astonishing.The only thing really holding the film back was a ham-fisted romance between Banner and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) which felt incredibly forced, and sacrificed the fantastic characterizations the fan-favourites from the first film had in order to slap them together in what can only be described as way too much way too soon. That’s not to say the duo didn’t act their hearts out, because they did do an amazing job, but it wasn’t quite enough to save the poor writing.Overall, the film was entertaining and some truly amazing action sequences and effects, with a creative and exiting finale that leaves the first film’s alien invasion dead in the water, and worked well by itself as well as setting up the plots for movies for years to come. It’s fast moving and had so much stuffed into it that a repeat viewing or two is definitely necessary, but sits high on the list of Marvel’s triumphs regardless.Highly recommended, 8.4/10-Marcus

The Story of Before

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Story of Before by Susan Stairs
'I wonder today how no one else could see the bad thing coming. Not that I knew back then what the bad thing was; and if I had - if I'd known one of us was going to die - would there have been anything I could have done to prevent it? I play it all back in my mind, over and over. The clues were all there.' 
From the cover:  On New Year's Eve, eleven-year-old Ruth and her brother and sister sit at a bedroom window, watching the garden of their new Dublin home being covered in a thick blanket of snow. Ruth declares that a bad thing will happen in the coming year - she's sure of it. But she cannot see the outline of that thing - she cannot know that it will change their lives utterly, that the shape of their future will be carved into two parts; the before and the after. Or that it will break her heart and break her family. This is Ruth's story. It is the story of before.
This is one of those rare debut novels that is a great find. Beautifully written, it evokes many memories of childhood, particularly fighting with siblings(!), but also the freedom we had to roam far and wide without a worry in the world.  In this book, the children roam their new housing estate, with the sights, sounds and smells realistically depicted.  Throughout the story there is an underpinning tension which increases as their lives begin to unravel at Hillcourt Rise, but we also know there is worse to come which propels us toward the finish.  Narrated through eleven-year-old Ruth's eyes, the story taps into humour, tension and heartbreak.  It's a memorable first offering from this author and is highly recommended. Deb.PS - An event in this book has become the premise for Susan Stairs' second novel which is currently being written. Bring it on!

The Lions of Berwick

Links to our Past - history -

There are two lions near the War Memorial in the centre of High Street in Berwick, In 2009 Jim Mynard wrote an article in the Pakenham Gazette about the lions. He had been in contact with Mrs Janice Digby-Beste from Queensland. Mrs Digby-Beste said her husband's great grandmother, Ellen Trestrail, paid 5000 pounds to have them made in New Zealand in the 1880s. They were then shipped to Melbourne and placed outside their house at 181 Beaconsfield Parade in Middle Park.


Berwick War Memorial, High Street, June 1986. You can see one of the lions to the left of the Memorial.
The lions were a yellowish colour and were thought to be oamaru. They were in Middle Park until the family home was sold in 1961. The lions were sold for 100 pounds by Ellen Trestail's then elderly daughter-in-law to what sounds like  a smooth talking stranger, so they went out of the family and the family had no idea where they went. The  statues were painted white when they were in Berwick.

Brentwood gates, Clyde Road, BerwickPhotographer: John T. Collins. Photo date June 22, 1968. State Library of Victoria Image H90.100/1962   
The lions were placed at the front gate of Brentwood farm on Clyde Road in Berwick by the owner, Henry Wells Rowden, who possibly purchased them from man who purchased them from the Trestrails.  Rowden purchased Brentwood in 1962. In the late 1970s  the Brentwood Housing Estate on the Rowden land was started and  the lions were moved to High Street from Brentwood  around 1985.


This is an aerial of the Brentwood area taken January 9, 1978. You can see the Brentwood farm  property at bottom left, sadly we can't see the lions, and the start of Bermasyde Drive. Click on image to enlarge.

Here's a later aerial dated May 4, 1994. Bermasyde Drive is almost around to Brentwood farm. There has been a lot of development in the 16 years, and it was about this time that the lions were re-located to High Street.

Hush

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Hush by Karen Robards

When Riley Cowan finds her estranged husband Jeff dead in his palatial home, she's sure it's no coincidence. The police rule it a suicide, but Riley thinks someone's out for blood - specifically someone Jeff's father ripped off in one of the biggest financial fraud cases of all time. She suspects that someone is trying to send a message to Jeff's father: Tell me where the money is, or everyone you care about will die. Riley's in-laws might be billionaires, but she's afraid that not even their dirty money can protect her from an irate investor who will stop at nothing to get his hands on his misappropriated cash. Enter Finn Bradley, Philly-based FBI agent and Riley's love interest from way back when. Finn agrees to help Riley, and the two reignite sparks they both thought were extinguished long ago. But can they discover the killer's identity in time, before he resurfaces and strikes again?

This is one for those who enjoy a really good suspense thriller. 
Dot


The Road to Hope

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Road to Hope by Rachael Johns


Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons - and she's over it. Watching the man she's always loved marry someone else is the last straw - she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town. Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet - including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He's hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment. When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else - their friends and patients - can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves?

Why we love it:
Rachael Johns shows why she is the queen of rural romance with a return to Hope Junction, a host of familiar characters, a seductive temptation, and the promise of new beginnings.  She has once again touched on the heart of life in a small country town in this sequel to Jilted

For fans of rural romance, The Road to Hope is the perfect page-turner treat for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

From the team at Better Reading


South of Darkness

Reading Rewards - reviews -

South of Darkness by John Marsden

Thirteen-year-old Barnaby Fletch is a bag-and-bones orphan in London in the late 1700s. Barnaby lives on his wits and ill-gotten gains, on streets seething with the press of the throng and shadowed by sinister figures. Life is a precarious business.

When he hears of a paradise on the other side of the world – a place called Botany Bay – he decides to commit a crime and get himself transported to a new life, a better life. To succeed, he must survive the trials of Newgate Prison, the stinking hull of a prison ship and the unknown terrors of a journey across the world. And Botany Bay is far from the paradise Barnaby has imagined. When his past and present suddenly collide, he is soon fleeing for his life – once again.

A riveting story of courage, hope and extraordinary adventure.

John Marsden’s brilliant young adult series – Tomorrow When the War Began, had much to offer the adult reader and it will always be up there on my great reads list.  Such a shame that his first ever book for adults falls dismally short of expectation. Perhaps that’s the problem … Expectation.  

The e-audio format I downloaded from our Bolinda site was capably narrated by Paul English, but the characters aren’t very engaging, and I’m at a loss as to the publisher’s blurb that describes this as “riveting”.  It is a slow slog; and I found the constant religious passages tedious. I also felt a bit annoyed as the Tomorrow series is set in a bushland gorge that the locals call ‘Hell’, and the name ‘Hell’ is used again here as the London area in which Barnaby’s pathetic existence is drawn out. Marsden could’ve come up with something more original, surely.  Basically, the story is told well enough, but it’s nothing new and has appeared throughout time in many guises under the hands of many scribes.  

I felt quite ‘ho-hum’ at the end and much and all as I would love to recommend it, I can’t.  Re-read Ellie and her friends’ escapades in the Tomorrow series to enjoy this talented writer at his best. 
Deb.


Fit Not Healthy

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Fit Not Healthy: how one woman's obsession to be the best nearly killed her by Vanessa Alford

Vanessa Alford was obsessed with becoming one of Australia's top marathon runners; so obsessed that she pushed her body to breaking point - literally.

Her body fat percentage dropped to 14%; she developed stress fractures and felt physically unwell most of the time, but she continued training, ignoring the concerns and advice of family and friends.

Looking back now, Vanessa says she was in denial about the need to rest and feed her body in order to give it the opportunity to recover from the physical damage and mental strain she put it under. She was always looking for another way, another practitioner who would confirm that she could heal whilst maintaining a rigorous training schedule that included running over two hours a day. It was only her desire to have a baby and the shock of being unable to fall pregnant that shattered her wall of denial and allowed her to see clearly what she was doing to herself.

Vanessa is now fit AND healthy, and she and her husband have a happy, healthy baby girl and are expecting another child. Others are not so lucky. They are still battling the internal and external voices that say leaner and fitter is always better; that women can be healthy at the same body fat percentages as men; and that you do not need to eat more, even if your body is telling you it is hungry. It is Vanessa's hope that her story can save at least one of woman from herself. Fit Not Healthy is a story for our times.  - - - 

This is a very graphic description of what can happen to someone when they are so driven to achieve that commonsense and reality seem to escape them. Vanessa was a typical high achiever and obviously very intelligent women, who let that "voice" in her head completely take over her life, and she was very lucky that she seems to have come out the other side reasonably OK.

A runner by choice who achieved many personal goals including placing in the top runners at the 2005 Melbourne Marathon, but those accolades and admiration by her peers and friends and family actually proved to be counter-productive in her mind and she just drove herself to run further, exercise more, and caused her to develop sport-related anorexia, which almost killed her.

This book was very honest, and I'm yet to be convinced that she has "recovered" completely, but I would hope that commonsense has come to find her and that "voice" in her head is gradually disappearing. A recommended read for any aspiring sports person. I read this book in a day!

Janine

Lone Star

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Lone Star by Paullina Simons

Chloe is eager to drink in the sights and sounds of the Old World as she embarks on a European adventure with her closest friends. Buried in the treasures of the fledgling post-Communist world, Chloe finds a charming American vagabond named Johnny, who carries a guitar, an easy smile - and a lifetime of secrets. As she and her unlikely travelling companions traverse the continent, a train trip becomes a treacherous journey into Europe's and Johnny's darkest past - a journey that shatters Chloe's future plans and puts in jeopardy everything she thought she wanted. From Treblinka to Trieste, from Carnikava to Krakow, the lovers and friends crack the facade that sustains their lifelong bonds to expose their truest, deepest desires and discover only one thing that's certain: whether or not they reach their destination, their lives will never be the same.

Lone Star is a compelling coming-of-age story. Chloe and Hannah are best friends and are dating two brothers, Blake and Mason. They all grew up on the same street, went to the same school, and on the surface all is well, but Simons is skillful at keeping secrets and teasing them out slowly but surely through the narrative. We found reading about the friends’ travels through post-communist Europe captivating, and the descriptions of Treblinka, in particular, heartbreaking. The bestselling author of Tully and The Bronze Horseman Trilogy has delivered another epic love story – perfect reading for a long, lazy day in bed.

From the Better Reading team

The Stella Award 2015

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Stella Prize is a major literary award celebrating Australian women’s writing.  The prize is named after one of Australia’s iconic female authors, Stella Maria Sarah ‘Miles’ Franklin, and was awarded for the first time in 2013. Both nonfiction and fiction books by Australian women are eligible for entry. The Stella Prize seeks to:

  • recognise and celebrate Australian women writers’ contribution to literature
  • bring more readers to books by women and thus increase their sales
  • provide role models for schoolgirls and emerging female writers
  • reward one writer with a $50,000 prize – money that buys a writer some measure of financial independence and thus time, that most undervalued yet necessary commodity for women, to focus on their writing

The winner of the 2015 Stella Prize announced last night at a Melbourne event is Emily Bitto for The Strays.

Of the winning book, Kerryn Goldsworthy, chair of the 2015 Stella Prize judging panel, said:  “Emily Bitto’s debut novel The Strays is about families, art, isolation, class, childhood, friendship, and the power of the past. It’s both moving and sophisticated; both well researched and original; both intellectually engaging and emotionally gripping."

Emily Bitto has a Masters in literary studies and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne. Her writing has appeared in various publications, including The Sydney Morning Herald, Meanjin, Heat and the Australian Literary Review. The manuscript of her debut novel was shortlisted for the 2013 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. The Strays was shortlisted for the 2015 Indie Prize and is currently longlisted for the Dobbie Award.  She lives in Melbourne where she runs a new Carlton winebar, Heartattack & Vine.

Deb.

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