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Sane New World

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Over 2 million Australians are affected by depression and/or anxiety in Australia each year.  For those who endure these conditions and for those who love them, it is difficult.  But help can be found by reading from those who endure the same.  One of those is Sane New World by comedian Ruby Wax.
Ruby Wax comedian, writer and mental health campaigner shows us how our minds can jeopardize our sanity. With her own periods of depression and now a Masters from Oxford in Mindfulness based Cognitive Therapy to draw from, she explains how our busy, chattering, self critical thoughts drive us to anxiety and stress. If we are to break the cycle, we need to understand how our brains work, rewire our thinking and find calm in a frenetic world. Helping you become the master, not the slave, of your mind, here is the manual to saner living.
As someone who has family members with depression and anxiety this book was both eye opening, very informative and with Ruby’s dry wit, often amusing.  She manages to make the topic interesting and understandable and gives you hope that there is a way through.
If you are one of the many Australians with mental illness or know someone who does, then Ruby gives you not only a good education on the topic (she studied neuroscience at Oxford to get it), but also hope for the future.
It is a difficult read at times because it is a subject I am close to, but it was funny as well, with laugh out loud moments.  Well worth the read.

~ Michelle


Book Swamp -

Author: Michael Buckley
Type of story: Adventure
It's about a group of 5 students that are secret agents.
How good was it? Fantastic

Tome Age: 11

Midnight Bayou

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts 
From the cover:  Declan Fitzgerald had always been the family maverick, but even he couldn't understand his impulse to buy a dilapidated mansion on the outskirts of New Orleans. All he knew was that ever since he saw Manet Hall, he'd been enchanted - and obsessed - with it. Determined to restore Manet Hall to its former splendour, Declan begins the daunting renovation room by room, relying on his own labour and skills. But the days spent in total isolation in the empty house take a toll. He is seeing visions of days from a century past, and experiencing sensations of terror and nearly unbearable grief - sensations not his own, but those of a stranger. Local legend has it that the house is haunted, and with every passing day Declan's belief in the ghostly presence grows. Only the companionship of the alluring Angelina Simone can distract him from the mysterious happenings in the house, but Angelina too has her own surprising connection to Manet Hall - a connection that will help Declan uncover a secret that's been buried for a hundred years.

A few years ago I had a binge on Nora Roberts books.  I had been quite taken with her writing style and that little touch of ‘magic' that wound through her stories lifting them out of the routine romance genre.   She is a prolific author, with some 209 novels published to date. Many of these are series  – The Donovans, Dream, the Key trilogy, the Garden trilogy, Chesapeake Bay, the Gallaghers, Three Sisters Island etc. – and some stand alone titles, as this one was.  Once again I fell under the spell of her characters and the setting, and as I love a good haunted house story, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The audio version was expertly narrated by James Daniels and Sandra Burr.

Death at Victoria Dock

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood

From the cover:  The Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher, beautifully dressed in loose trousers, a cream silk shirt and a red-fox fur has just had her windscreen shot out inches in front of her divine nose. But worse is the fate of the pale young man lying on the road, his body hit by bullets, who draws his final blood-filled breath with Phryne at his side. Outraged by this brutal slaughter, Phryne promises to find out who is responsible. She doesn't yet know how deeply into the mire she'll have to go - bank robbery, tattoo parlours, pubs, spiritualist halls and the Anarchists. Along this path, Phryne meets Peter, a battle-scarred, sexy Slav, who offers much more to her than just information. But all thoughts of these delights flee from her mind when her beloved maid, Dot, disappears. 

If you've been stranded on a desert isle for quite some time, you wouldn't have met up with this 1920’s St. Kilda-based detective.  The Hon. Phryne Fisher stars in at least 20 novels [and if you're anything like me, you would not have read them in order!] and has been a hit series on ABC TV.  In this, book 4 in the series, anarchists and politics make for boring bedfellows indeed, but luckily the talented Ms Greenwood wields her pen in other directions, bringing yet another light but entertaining  mystery onto our shelves.  We have this series in all formats - Stephanie Daniel narrates all the audio versions with her usual aplomb. 

North of the Line: a pictorial record and a bit about Officer and a bit about Garfield

Links to our Past - history -

The Berwick Pakenham Historical Society published North of the Line:  a pictorial record in 1996 and it still provides us today with a great source of photographs of the area in Cardinia which is 'north of the line' i.e the Gippsland Railway line. The photographs cover Beaconsfield and Beaconsfield Upper, Guys Hill, Officer, Pakenham and Pakenham Upper, Cockatoo, Gembrook, Nar Nar Goon North, Tynong and North Tynong, Garfield and Bunyip.

The Gippsland Railway line was the seminal event in establishment of  many of these towns - Beaconsfield, Officer, Pakenham, Nar Nar Goon, Tynong, Garfield and Bunyip. The line had opened in stages -  Sale to Morwell June 1877, Oakleigh to Bunyip October 1877, Moe to Morwell December 1877, Moe to Bunyip March 1878 and the last stretch from South Yarra to Oakleigh in 1879. As well, the Puffing Billy Railway line contributed to the development of Cockatoo and Gembrook. We will now look at Officer and  Garfield as they both developed in similar ways around a timber sliding and then both towns became a centre for the brick making trade.

Officer began as Officer's Wood Siding, as a siding was constructed to take timber from land owned by the Officer family to Melbourne. The Officer family had a fairly illustrious background - Sir Robert Officer (1800-1879) a medical doctor, had arrived in Tasmania in 1822. He married Jamina Patterson  in 1823 and she bore him six sons and seven daughters. In spite of this Jamina lived to be 77 years old and died in 1881. Sir Robert  was at one time the Health Officer for Hobart and a member of the Legislative Council. He was Knighted in 1869.  In the early 1840s he moved some of his interests to the Port Phillip District (Victoria), with the Mount Talbot, Lingmer and Yat Nat Runs in  the Western District, with  his sons Charles Myles and Seutonious Henry. Another son, William, had acquired the Zara Station, near Deniliquin in New South Wales in 1860. The Zara Run was 68, 000 acres and was a sheep stud and remained with the Officer family until it was sold for 250,000 pounds in 1927,  fourteen years after the death of William Officer in 1913. You can read about Sir Robert Officer in The Australian Dictionary of Biography here.

Pakenham Parish Plan, dated 1926 - showing location of land owned by the Officer family at Officer.Click on the map to enlarge it.

 In the Wake of the Pack Tracks  implies that is was William Officer who acquired the Mount Misery run, near Beaconsfield, and after the railway line was opened he used to rail his sheep from Deniliquin to Officer in times of drought. However, the  Pakenham Parish Plan  (see above) which covers Officer, lists an M. Officer as owning 314 acres and 313 acres, north of Browns Road and in between Starling Road and Whiteside Roads ( if we imagine they extended northwards over Browns Road) and south of Payne Road, thus covering where the G.W.S. Anderson Scout Camp is today. Another edition of the Parish Plan has both an M Officer and an R. Officer as owning the land, I presume that is Robert Officer. Regardless of which member of the Officer family owned the land,  it would be interesting to know whether they actually lived in Officer, but I don't believe they did. For instance, when William died was was living at Zara, and his son Ernest, who managed Zara after his father's death, was living at Toorak when he died. In the Wake of the Pack Tracks says that there was a wattle and daub house on the property, to accomodate the men in charge of the sheep and this stood for some seventy to eighty years at Officer. 

Tivendale's Store at OfficerSource: North of the Line: a  pictorial record
The Railway also opened up another business in Officer - brick works. At one time there were five brick yards in Officer.  In the Wake of the Pack Tracks lists them as Fry's in Starling Road; Holt's near the Railway Station; Reece's on Whiteside Road; Tivendale's near Hick's pipes work (I presume this is north side of Highway)  and Morey's where the Tile Works are (I presume this is on the south side of the Highway).  Both the timber and brick industry were no doubt boosted by the 1880s boom period in Melbourne and the growth of new suburbs. Garfield had  a similar history to Officer as the Railway lead to the establishment of two early industries, Jefferson’s Saw Mill and brick works and the Cannibal Creek Saw Mill Company.

Joseph Jefferson established a saw mill in 1877 on the site of what was to become his clay pit, off Railway Avenue. He sent this timber out via Bunyip Station until a local siding, the Cannibal Creek Siding, was built in 1885 to accommodate the timber tramline which was constructed by William Brisbane, a contractor on behalf of Francis Stewart.  This tramline run for about 8 kilometres, to the Two Mile Creek,  the Garfield North road basically follows this tramway.  In the same year, Cannibal Creek Saw Mill Company Limited was registered in October by the Stewart family, with William Brisbane being a minority shareholder. Stewart had already obtained the saw milling rights to 2,000 acres of forest in 1883. Both Stewart and Brisbane had been involved separately and jointly in other mills and tramlines at Berwick, Beaconsfield and Nar Nar Goon.  The Cannibal Creek Saw Mill Company sounds like a very grand enterprise but apparently the Company was in trouble by December 1885, the tramline was disbanded in 1887 and the Company was placed in liquidation in 1888, however it deserves it’s place in Garfield’s history as the Cannibal Creek Siding, became the Garfield Railway Station.

Garfield Railway Station, c.1910Source: North of the line: a pictorial record
Getting back to Joseph Jefferson, his was a very successful business, as well as producing timber products such as fence posts and rails and firewood, he also mined the sand on his property to be used in the building industry in Melbourne and when he discovered clay on his property he began making clay bricks. Like the Officer brick works,  Jefferson benefited from the 1880s  boom time as he could produce over 50,000 bricks per week and fire 75,000 at a time in his kiln. The Depression of the 1890s saw a decline in the building industry which flowed onto his business and the brickworks eventually shut down in 1929.

This is a companion volume to Oak Trees and Hedges: a pictorial history of Narre Warren, Narre Warren North and Harkaway. It is published by the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society. They operate a Museum, open on Sundays, from 2.00pm until 4.00pm, in the Old Shire Offices, corner of McGregor Road and Main Street in Pakenham (enter from the Highway service road off James Street) Both books are available at the Museum as in In the Wake of the Pack Tracks.

A Long Way Home

Reading Rewards - reviews -

A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose

From the cover: When Saroo Brierley used Google Earth to find his long-lost home town half a world away, he made global headlines. Saroo had become lost on a train in India at the age of five. Not knowing the name of his family or where he was from, he survived for weeks on the streets of Kolkata, before being taken into an orphanage and adopted by a couple in Australia. Despite being happy in his new family, Saroo always wondered about his origins. He spent hours staring at the map of India on his bedroom wall. When he was a young man the advent of Google Earth led him to pour over satellite images of the country for landmarks he recognised. And one day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for. Then he set off on a journey to find his mother.

This is a fascinating story about international adoption and how technology is helping adopted children find their birth parents. Saroo’s accidental journey across India on a train and his survival on the streets of Kolkata is an amazing story just on its own. However, it’s his achievement as an adult in Australia – combing through thousands perhaps millions of satellite images of India’s countryside for several years until he finds his neighbourhood – that’s just staggering.

A Long Way Home gives a remarkable glimpse into the culture clash that Saroo experienced when moving from an Indian orphanage to a comfortable middle-class life in Hobart. The book describes how his Australian parents adopted Saroo and another Indian boy, Mantosh, as a way to help children in need from developing countries, not because they were unable to have children themselves. It would have been interesting to hear more about the reactions of his friends and family – his adopted parents in particular – when he finally found his home town and embarked on the trip to India to find his birth family. However, A Long Way Home is certainly a very satisfying memoir. It is an inspirational story about never giving up hope.
Sandra E.

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Book Swamp -

Garfield Shovels It In
Author: Jim Davis
Type of story: Funny

Garfield shovels it in is about a cat that is very greedy and funny. He is in a cartoon strip. One of them is Garfield=the sun is coming..... I watched monster movies all night. Jon=morning Garfield=YAAAHHH! By the way Garfield has an owner called Jon who is very "weird" and "funky" Well there' s much more but this is all I am going to write.
How good was it? Fantastic

Age 9

Race Across America

Book Swamp -

Title: Geronimo Stilton:  Race Across America
Author: Geronimo Stilton
Type of story: Adventure

Geronimo has been receiving bike handle bars,helmets and anything else on a bike. Who's sending them? Bruce Hyena Geronimo's sporty friend had sent them and entered Geronimo in a race across America! Geronimo seems confused he's more of an indoor mouse. He dedicates this race for sick mouselets in hospital. The race goes from San Diego to Annapolis. After passing Colorado, Kansas, the grand canyon he speeds
towards the finish line.He has an unexpected victory.
How good was it? Fantastic

Your age: 9

The 52-Storey Treehouse

Book Swamp -

The 52-Storey Treehouse
Author: Andy Griffiths
Type of story: Funny

This series of 'tree house' stories is hilarious. It is an ever-expanding treehouse that has passed 13, 26,,39 and 52 levels.
In the most recent book, the 13 new levels include a watermelon smashing level, a chainsaw juggling level and loads more crazy stuff!
The author and illustrator Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton use themselves as the main characters.
Bignose the publisher goes missing and ends up being captured by alive eggplant vegetables people.
A great story!
How good was it? Fantastic

Your full name: Kathleen
Your age: 9

Best Book Day! so far

Book Swamp -

Title: Best Book Day! so far
Author: Tom Gates
This is crammed with Tom's stories and doodles. "It's BOOK WEEK in Oakfield school and EVERYONE is very excited. Including all the teachers, who are making costumes of their own. Mr Keen says there's an EXCELLENT prize on offer for BEST costumes worn on BOOK DAY. So suddenly making a good costume is VITALLY important, but tricky and Delia's not much help (as usual). Then Marcus decides that HE is a super hero and can't understand why 'Super Marcus' isn't the best name."
How good was it? Fantastic

Your full name: Solida
Your age: 9

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Claire

Quicksand -

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Claire is book one in the prequel series the Infernal Devices based before the Mortal Instruments series began. 

Magic is dangerous; but love is more dangerous still ~

When 16 year old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to England in hope of finding her brother. The time is the reign of Queen Victoria and something terrifying is awaiting for her in the London’s downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gas-lit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, Nephilim warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, in order to keep the peace among the human world. 
When she arrives in London, she is kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, who are members of a secret organisation called the Pandemonium Club; Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability. The ability to transform at will, into another person. The Magister, the shadowy figure that runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.
Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her new found power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by and torn between two best friends; Jem, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arms length… everyone, that is, but Tessa. 
As their search draws them deep into the heart of an evil dark plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world... and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

This book is spectacular, with everything I'd wanted in the TMI series and more. The magic and mysteries are compelling and Victorian London is a fantastic backdrop to this steam-punk tale about a girl who discovers she has incredible powers...and an incredible past. Tessa is a vibrant, fascinating heroine and all the secondary characters, including Will and Jem and Charlotte, are engaging and sympathetic. I thought this book was much more mature than the TMI series, so I'm very much looking forward to reading the next two Infernal Devices instalments.

- S.Rose (Narre Work Experience Student)

After Darkness

Reading Rewards - reviews -

After Darkness by Christine Piper

From the cover: While working at a Japanese hospital in the pearling port of Broome, Dr Ibaraki is arrested as an enemy alien and sent to Loveday internment camp in a remote corner of South Australia. There, he learns to live among a group of men who are divided by culture and allegiance. As tensions at the isolated camp escalate, the doctor's long-held beliefs are thrown into question and he is forced to confront his dark past: the promise he made in Japan and its devastating consequences.

After Darkness is an Australian war story with a difference. It sheds light on the experiences of the Japanese who were sent to internment camps in remote Australia during World War II.
Dr Tomakazu Ibaraki was a medical researcher in Japan and started a new life in Broome after losing his job and his wife. A gentleman with great discretion, honour and loyalty, Ibaraki finds it difficult to open up to his colleague, Sister Bernice, in Broome and damages their friendship as a result. War breaks out and he joins the rest of his countrymen at an internment camp in South Australia.
Piper, who has a Japanese mother and an Australian father, brings the harsh Australian environment to life throughout the story. She deftly describes the highlights and low points of camp life such as the cleaning rosters, cultural performances, baseball competitions and internal politics. It is at Camp Loveday that Ibaraki begins to push aside his reserve and bury his demons so that he can support the angry and depressed young Australian-born men who are struggling with their incarceration. 
A compelling wartime tale from an alternate point of view, After Darkness won The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award 2014.
This was the first eBook I've borrowed through the Library's BorrowBox app and I was impressed with how easy it was to access. The novel is also available in hard copy. Sandra E.

Grace's Table

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Grace’s Table by Sally Piper.

From the cover:  Grace has not had twelve people at her table for a long time. Hers isn't the kind of family who share regular Sunday meals. But it isn't every day you turn seventy. As Grace prepares the feast, she reflects on her life, her marriage and her friendships. When the three generations come together, simmering tensions from the past threaten to boil over. The one thing that no one can talk about is the one thing that no one can forget. Grace's Table is a moving and often funny novel about the power of memory and the family rituals that define us.

Ah, mothers and daughters.  Such a strong love/hate connection in a lot of cases, and one that is perfectly illustrated in this debut novel by Australian author, Sally Piper. [Grace's Table was short-listed in the 2011 Queensland Premiers Literary Award's emerging Queensland author category.]

This in-depth character study shows how there is more than one perception of actions and behaviour; what is the best way to handle something is definitely not right for another.  Families are notorious for distorting or twisting things, and years can be lost in bitterness and misplaced grief.  This would be a good choice for book discussion groups as there are many sides to many relationships here. There are some characters that are more than prickly, and others that just make you smile.  I enjoyed the mother/daughter chats while preparing vegetables - Mum likes it this way, daughter likes it that.  Yes - just like it was when I was with my Mum!
No action-packed thriller here, just an astute look at human nature.

Victor Hugo: Les Mis

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The State Library of Victoria invites you [FREE] to:

Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage panel discussion: The social conscience and the popular novel – Victor Hugo and his contemporaries.

Victor Hugo, Leo Tolstoy, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Charles Dickens were all bestselling authors of their time – Hugo’s Les Misérables sold 6000 copies a day when it was published in 1862. Each of these writers touched on themes of repression, poverty and political unrest in their novels. Did they deliberately tap into the current concerns of the day or were they just producing ripping good yarns?

Join Melbourne writer Jane Sullivan as she chairs a lively and entertaining discussion about the 19th-century novel and the social conscience. Jane's column ‘Turning pages’, about books and writing, runs in the Saturday Age. Her latest novel, Little people, was published by Scribe.

Panellists include historian Anna Welch, who worked as the assistant curator on our exhibition Victor Hugo: Les Misérables – From Page to Stage; Brian Nelson, Emeritus Professor of French Studies at Monash University, who is well known for his critical studies and translations of the work of Émile Zola; and world-renowned translator Julie Rose. Julie's 2008 translation of Les Misérables is the first full original unabridged English translation of the book.

Date: Thursday 28 August 2014, 6:00pm - 7:15pm
Cost: Free 
Bookings: Book online or phone 03 8664 7099 or enquiries@slv.vic.gov.au
Venue: The Courtyard, Main entry, Swanston St


The Silence of the Sea

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurdarttir  

From the cover: 'Mummy dead.' The child's pure treble was uncomfortably clear. It was the last thing Brynjar - and doubtless the others - wanted to hear at that moment. 'Daddy dead.' It got worse. 'Adda dead. Bygga dead.' The child sighed and clutched her grandmother's leg. 'All dead.' A luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik harbour with nobody on board. What has happened to the crew, and to the family who were on board when it left Lisbon? Thora Gudmundsdottir is hired by the young father's parents to investigate, and is soon drawn deeper into the mystery. What should she make of the rumours saying that the vessel was cursed, especially given that when she boards the yacht she thinks she sees one of the missing twins? Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht's former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore?

This author is a master at creating a sinister atmosphere with a logical explanation. The characters and family relationships are subtle and believable. A quality follow-up to her I Remember.Dot

Bush Nursing Hospitals

Links to our Past - history -

The Bush Nursing Hospital Movement began in 1910 with the establishment of the Victorian Bush Nursing Association. At the time, the current medical system consisted of big hospitals such as the Royal Melbourne and St Vincents, which were run along charitable lines and whose role was to treat poor people, who could not afford to pay a Doctors fee.  There were also private hospitals which only the wealthy could afford. To help offset medical costs Friendly Societies or Lodges were established which people could join for a yearly fee. This gave them access to the Friendly Society doctor and access to medicine dispensed from the Friendly Society Dispensary. The problem arose when members of Friendly societies needed to be treated in Hospitals and thus most ended up in public hospitals, which were overcrowded, as most people could not afford private hospitals. There was also a growing move to nurse people in their own homes through what is now the Royal District Nursing Service.  People in the city and the suburbs could have a nurse visit them to help recover from confinements and general illness. This type of service took pressure off the public Hospitals. Lady Dudley, the wife of the Governor General, was aware of these visiting nurses and had also seen first hand the need for skilled nurses in the bush, so from these experiences came the idea of Bush Nursing Hospitals.

Lady Dudley spoke publicly of the need for nurses in the bush and a concert, with Dame Nellie Melba as the guest star, was organised to raise initial funds for the Bush Nursing Hospital Movement. This concert was held in November 1909 and Lady Casey’s mother, Mrs Charles Ryan (nee Alice Sumner), was one of the organisers.  An inaugural meeting was held in the December and the Draft Constitution for the Australian Order for District Nursing was drawn up. In the end, a nationwide system did not eventuate; however local areas took the idea on and began raising funds for their own Bush Nurse. The local community had to raise the money to fund the cost of the nurse’s salary, board, uniform and a ‘means of locomotion’. The salary was set by the Bush Nursing Association at the rate of around £80.00 per annum, the rate of pay for a hospital nurse with five or six years experience.

The first Victorian nurse was appointed to Beech Forest in March 1911 and other early appointments were Gunbower, Buchan and Panmure. Eventually some towns provided cottages for the nurses to provide accommodation for both the nurse and the patient. Koo-Wee-Rup was an early example of this where the original nurse, Nurse Homewood, started work in the bush nursing centre in July 1918; this was later replaced by a Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital.

Koo-Wee-Rup Hospital, 1923Photograph: Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society
Both Pakenham and Berwick had Bush Nursing Hospitals which are still remembered by many locals. Pakenham was established in 1926 in a house in Rogers Street with Sister Kerville in charge.  In the first year the hospital treated 110 medical and surgical cases and 45 midwifery cases.  In 1928, a new hospital was built on the Princes Highway and in 1929 a nurse’s quarters was opened.  The Hospital was funded by the Community, by subscriptions and patient fees. There were with 190 subscribers in the first year. The Pakenham Race Club was a large supporter of the Hospital holding annual Charity Days to support both the Pakenham and Koo-Wee-Rup Hospitals. The Hospital provided medical services to Pakenham and the surrounding areas until the early 1990s.

The official opening of the Pakenham and District Bush Nursing Hospital on Saturday, February 11, 1928. The Hospital was opened by the State Governor, Lord Somers. The local scouts formed a guard of honour. Photograph: North of the Line: a pictorial record compiled by the Berwick-Pakenham Historical Society.
The Berwick Bush Nursing Hospital was opened on March 9, 1940 in a building on the corner of Gloucester Avenue and Gibbs Street. This building had been used as a private hospital for the previous thirty years and, for the twenty years before that, as a Private School. Membership fees were set at £1.10 per annum for a married man, his wife and any children under 18; membership for a single person was 15 shillings and this allowed the subscriber to hospital admittance for half the regular fee. A new building was opened in 1953 and called the Dr Percy Langmore Block in honour of the Berwick Doctor who provided medical services to generations of Berwick folk from 1907 until he retired after World War Two. The Berwick Hospital was taken over by the St John of God Health Care group in 2003.

Berwick Bush Nursing Hospital.Photograph: Bush Nursing in Berwick: the first fifty years by Eileen Williams (see below)
Sources and more information:
This article was first published in Pages from the past : snapshot histories of people, places and public life in Casey and Cardinia.

Figgy in the World

Book Swamp -

'Figgy in the World' is written by Tamsin Janu.
The heroine of the story is a girl named 'Figgy', who lives in Ghana, Africa.
Figgy believes she may be the only one in the whole world with her name. She's not sure if she likes it, either!
Figgy is innocent and brave. When she discovers her grandmother is ill, she sets off-with her pet goat-to America to try to find some medicine for her.
She meets many people on her journey. Some people are helpful and kind whilst others are cruel.
Does Figgy eventually achieve her mission? You will have to read this wonderful adventure story to find out.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Quicksand -

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
 by Benjamin Alire Saenz has won a number of American awards and commendations including the Printz Honor Book, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and Kirkus Reviews best Teen Book of the Year.

Fifteen year old Aristotle is not sure who he is. He has few if any friends. He does, however, enjoy bantering with his mother.

'What are you going to do today?' she asks him.
'I'm going to join a gang' he says.
'That's not funny' she responds.
'I'm Mexican. Isn't that what we do?'
'Not funny' she says.
'Not funny' agrees Aristotle.

Whilst Aristotle is at the local pool, he befriends a teenage boy called Dante and they form an intense bond.
Over time, Dante, an artistic teenager, is able to break down barriers that Aristotle has built around himself.

The reader slowly discovers that Dante is gay. What happens next is a journey for both young men that involves inner strength and bravery.

There are many things to admire about this novel and the relationship that both boys have with their parents is one factor.
The writing is clever and honest, depicting the lives and challenges of American/Mexican families.

Highly recommended reading.


The Shadow Tracer

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Shadow Tracer by M.G. Gardiner

From the cover:  Can a person ever really disappear for good by going off the grid? And what happens when vanishing is no longer an option? Sarah Keller is a single mother to five-year-old Zoe, living quietly in Oklahoma. She's also a skip tracer, an expert in tracking people who've gone on the lam to avoid arrest, prosecution, or debt-- pinpointing their location to bring them to justice. When a school bus accident sends Zoe to the ER, their quiet life explodes. Zoe's medical tests reveal what Sarah has been hiding: Zoe is not her daughter. Zoe's biological mother-- Sarah's sister, Beth - was murdered shortly after the child's birth. And Zoe's father is missing and presumed dead. With no way to prove her innocence, Sarah must abandon her carefully constructed life and go on the run. Chased by cops, federal agents, and the group responsible for Beth's murder, Sarah embarks on a desperate journey. 

The publisher’s blurb really doesn’t ramp up much excitement, and it should because this is one pacy, thrilling ride -  it would make a great movie! Even when the action is not full throttle, the characters are very well drawn and realistically portrayed, from the downright evil Worthe cult members Grissom Briggs and two of Eldrick Worthe’s granddaughters, Fell and Reavy; to our main protagonists (do we detect a hint of romance?) Sarah and Marshall Michael Lawless;  to 5-year old Zoe who has been implanted with a microchip bearing some very important cult information. From Oklahoma to Roswell New Mexico, there are some hair-raising chapters including a brutal murder in an isolated farmhouse during a snow storm, a dangerous car chase along a freeway and the extravaganza - a final bloody confrontation in that famous Texan aeroplane graveyard.  This action-packed crime thriller was brilliantly read by the talented female narrator, Laurence Bouvard.  Highly recommended in any format... Borrow now and buckle up! 
PS - Some of this author's titles are under the name Meg Gardiner, others as M.G. Gardiner.  The playaway version I borrowed had the initials.  

Wonder by R.J Palacio

Quicksand -

Wonder by R.J Palacio
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a severe facial deformity and this book follows his story as he attends mainstream school for the first time. The story is told from the point of view of Auggie, as well as the people in his life. Being the 'new kid' at any school is always hard, Auggie must learn to make new friends, interact with teachers and navigate new rules. Auggie has to deal with all of the usual emotions on top of his fears about how people will react when they see his face.

We, the reader, are never offered a detailed description of Auggie's face, but as the story goes on and we hear from other characters, we begin to create a picture of what we think Auggie must look like. What I found most striking about this novel was that sometimes, because Auggie's voice sounds like the voice of any regular 5th grader, I would sometimes forget about his deformity and get sucked in to the relationships and conflicts in the story.

August's down to earth attitude and bravery is inspiring. This particular quote is an example of his perspective on things:

It’s okay, I know I’m weird-looking, take a look, I don’t bite. Hey, the truth is, if a wookie started going to school all of a sudden, I’d be curious, I’d probably stare a bit! And if I was walking with Jack or Summer, I’d probably whisper to them: Hey, there’s the wookie. And if the wookie caught me saying that, he’d know I wasn’t trying to be mean. I was just pointing out the fact that he’s a wookie.

Despite Auggie's attitude and resilience, there are some awful scenes which make the book an emotional and heart breaking read. However, these scenes are balanced by moments of inspiring kindness and friendship that leave you feeling whimsical and uplifted. Ultimately positive, this book was a compassionate story, realistic and warm. I would recommend it for readers of all ages.

Jess from Endeavour Hills


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