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Nine Open Arms

Quicksand -

A mysterious house along a road called Sjlammbams Sahara is at the centre of 'Nine Open Arms' by Benny Lindelauf.

'Nine Open Arms' is an extraordinary novel for teens that has been translated to English from Dutch by the acclaimed translator, John Nieuwenhuizen.

A large motherless family move from place to place, their father trying to seek his fortune through various business ventures that remain unsuccessful.

'Fing' is the narrator of the story, and around her orbit circle a family with eccentricities that keep the reader amused and entertained.
Take, for instance, her father's efforts to create a cigar making empire. Many trials and mishap ensue when 'the Dad' purchases  bales of 'ready-to-use filler' from a tobacco grower.
After making five cigars and lighting them, 'the Dad' and Fing's four brothers race out to the garden where they are sick.

The house along Sjlammbams Sahara is hiding many secrets and as the story continues, moving back and forth from the 1930's to the 1860's, its secrets are revealed.

Beautiful, evocative writing and well fleshed out characters.
Highly recommended.

-Ann

The House of Memories

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The House of Memories by Monica McInerney 

From the cover:  Following a tragic accident, Ella O'Hanlon flees to the other side of the world in an attempt to escape her grief, leaving behind the two people she blames for her loss: Aidan, the love of her life, and Jess, her spoilt half-sister.
In London Ella is taken in by her beloved uncle Lucas, whose extraordinary house holds many wonderful memories for her. Along with other members of the very colourful Fox family, Lucas helps Ella to see that she is not the only one still hurting, and that forgiveness can be the greatest healer in a family and in a marriage.

I was dithering a bit over borrowing this but decided to on the spur of the moment and am very glad I did.  It’s a hard book to listen to, not hard as in difficult to get into, but hard going as it’s very emotional.  It made my heart ache for anyone who has ever loved and lost a child.  The agony of the parents, the blame game, the way people handle grief and the way that is perceived by others are all portrayed exceptionally well in this very moving and life-affirming novel.  I loved the way the author portrayed 20 month old Felix – his little quirks like walking on the top of the fence, pretend sweeping with the big broom around the house, and shouting out his name; his humour, his voice.  I loved that it was Australian and that there are some richly drawn characters in here, like Charlie – Ella’s stepbrother, who has just the most wonderful sense of humour, and her Uncle Lucas in London is just a gem of a man!  But it is Aiden, the husband Ella flees from because their combined pain is too much for her to handle, and his deeply personal notes to his dead son, that resonated the most with me ... so much so that when listening in the car I had to pull over to the side of the highway and grab a handful of tissues to mop up the tears.
The excellent narration by Catherine Milte was a bonus! She handled the male and female voices, both kids and adult, together with English, Irish, and German accents with aplomb and I highly recommend this audio version. 
Deb 

Losing You

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Losing You by Nicci French

From the cover:  Nina Landry is supposed to be taking her two children on a Christmas holiday.  But the road from Sandling Island seems littered with obstacles.  Most pressing of all, her 15-year-old daughter, Charlie, has yet to return from a night out.  Has Charlie run away? Or has something more sinister happened to her?  As a series of half-buried secrets leads Nina from sickening suspicion to deadly certainty, the question becomes less whether she and her daughter will leave the island for Christmas – and more whether they’ll ever leave it again …


I’ve read a few other titles from the writing team of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Their psychological suspense novels are usually pretty good and this is definitely one of the better ones.  Sometimes you can tell who’s written which chapter but Losing You is a very tight and well-paced drama, helped all the more by the first-class reading in the audio format.  Don’t let the name of the excellent narrator, Adjoa Andoh, throw you – this is as British as British can be – and as the tension ramps up, Adjoa’s reading reflects it perfectly. 

I think one of the things that had me nodding in total agreement was Nina’s rage and frustration with police procedure.  She is almost screaming at them for action, believing the longer they sat in the police station taking yet a third statement, precious minutes were ticking away when they could be out searching.  Her 11-year-old son elicits the reader’s sympathy too, as he is shoved from pillar to post to keep him out of the way while Nina asks some very hard questions in her frantic investigations all over the island.  But … her new boyfriend, Christian, somehow seems to drop out of the picture totally, which was a bit odd.  Mind you, to be stuck on the freeway in a monumental traffic jam for at least 7 hours could have something to do with it. (Is that possible?) Also, the cousin Renata who arrives and helps to hold the fort at home while Nina is racing around, fades out of the story too.  Very odd.

Despite that, the last couple of chapters are stomach clenching – a very good sign of a captivating story!  If you enjoy this genre, be sure to check this one out.
Deb

You Can Buy Happiness

Reading Rewards - reviews -

You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s cheap): how one woman radically simplified her life and how you can too by Tammy Strobel
 
There has been a shift amongst some individuals lately from the idea of “bigger is better” to simplicity and conscious living. In this book, which is more biography than self help, Tammy and husband Logan’s life is explored. 

They used to be drowning in debt and Tammy was a shopping addict. Tammy started a blog called Rowdy Kittens and started discussing how to simplify life. Logan and she decided to down size (or smart size) and build their own home. This home is a tiny one on wheels! They sold their cars and started to ride their bikes everywhere. As a result of spending less on their old consumerist lifestyle they are now debt free and much happier. 

Tammy discusses the opportunities which have arisen as a result of downsizing, such as a deeper connection with local people. This book is a lovely inspiring read for anyone interested in low environmental impact living.
Ali

Quarries and Sand mines

Links to our Past - history -

This is a series of quarry photographs - taken in the 1960s and 1970s. Basalt quarries were north of the Princes Highway in Berwick and Harkaway and sand quarries were south of the Princes Highway in Lyndhurst and Cranbourne.

This is the basalt quarry where King Road becomes Robinson Road in Harkaway. It was taken December 1963.                                                                           
These are the two basalt quarries south of A'Beckett road and west of Harkaway Road in Harkaway. The photo was taken in January 1978.

This is the basalt quarry in Noack Road in Harkaway and one of the A'Beckett Road quarries can also be seen.  Photo was taken in January 1978. I don't know when they started quarrying in Harkaway - the earliest reference I can find on Trove is from the Dandenong Advertiser of September 23, 1915. 
This is a report received at the Berwick Shire Council meeting held September 18, 1915. Dandenong Advertiser of September 23, 1915.    http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88661295

This is Wilson Quarry in Berwick - another basalt quarry. You can read all about the history of the Wilson Quarry here. The quarry opened in 1859. It is now Wilson Botanic Park.  Photograph taken December 1963.

This is a quarry in Hallam, taken in January 1970. That is General Motors Holden Factory on the left, so the quarry must be where the Freeway is now. The South Gippsland Railway line is south of GMH and the quarry. The railway line  once went all the way to Port Albert but now stops at Cranbourne. You can read about it here. I have no information about this quarry, but I suspect it was a sand mine.

Taken in January 1972 this is the Lyndhurst/Hampton Park sand quarry. It is now the 'Hallam Road landfill'. The South Gippsland Highway runs along the left of the photograph. At the bottom right corner is part of the Cranbourne Golf Club.

This is the sand mine either side of Thompson's Road in Cranbourne. Photograph was taken January 1970. The road on the left of the photo is Narre Warren - Cranbourne Road. They still mine sand on the south side of Thompson Road. Apart from Cranbourne there are still sand mines in other parts of the region, especially around Lang Lang and Yannathan.

These are the sand pits below the racecourse at Cranbourne, some of which now form the Botanic Gardens. Just to the east of the racecorse, where Earlston Circuit is now, was the Earlston Sand Mine, who had their own railway siding, from around the mid 1930s.  I believe there was also a line that went from the sand pits to Camms Road level crossing to service the  Cranbourne Sand Company, from the mid 1920s.

The South Bourke and Mornington Journal of September 6, 1917 had an article about 'A new Industry for Cranbourne'.  If you can;'t read the article, above, click on this link http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66192688 and it will take you to the article on Trove. Sand mining has thus been an industry in Cranbourne for nearly 100 years. 

The Vanishing

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb

From the cover:   Recently widowed and rendered penniless by her Ponzi-scheming husband, Julia Bishop is eager to start anew. So when a stranger appears on her doorstep with a job offer, she finds herself accepting the mysterious yet unique position: caretaker to his mother, Amaris Sinclair, the famous and rather eccentric horror novelist whom Julia has always admired...and who the world believes is dead. When she arrives at the Sinclairs' enormous estate on Lake Superior, Julia begins to suspect that there may be sinister undercurrents to her "too-good-to-be-true" position. As Julia delves into the reasons of why Amaris chose to abandon her successful writing career and withdraw from the public eye, her search leads to unsettling connections to her own family tree, making her wonder why she really was invited to Havenwood in the first place, and what monstrous secrets are still held prisoner within its walls"--

What’s not to like about a haunted mansion on a huge tract of land beside a dark and scary wood, snow falling and footsteps leading to and from the kitchen window and creepy ghost children singing nursery rhymes?! Toss in the eccentric matriarchal owner who was a horror novelist, add three large dogs to keep evil at bay, some séance work, our very naïve protagonist who happens to be a dead ringer for ‘Seraphina’- a famed clairvoyant who is in a large painting over the fireplace; add a bit of love interest, a power failure, some handy loss of memory and voila – a slightly above average yet nonetheless entertaining novel with a neat little twist at the end.  Not a bad choice for a light and breezy read - it's not meant to be literature – and no need to check over your shoulder when reading this one. 
Deb

Written on the Skin

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Written on the Skin:  an Australian forensic casebook by Liz Porter    

From the cover:  A crime scene investigator notes the tiny indentations on the fragments of a tin can identified at a bomb site, enabling him to find the can opener that made them - and the bomb-maker who used it. A forensic dentist identifies the thief who dropped some chewing gum, with his teeth marks in it, during a burglary. Liz Porter's riveting case book shows how forensic investigators - including pathologists, chemists, entomologists, DNA specialists and document examiners - have used their expertise in dozens of fascinating crimes and mysteries.

I borrowed the Bolinda audio version and can highly recommend it.  Elizabeth Kaye narrates this Australian forensic casebook - a Ned Kelly Award winner in 2007 -  presenting the particulars of selected cases solved by forensics including the 2002 Bali bombing, a fatal hit-and-run in Victoria and the Lindy Chamberlain case amongst others.  We begin to appreciate that crime technicians don't have the glamour jobs seen on the popular CSI-type shows that pepper the TV airwaves. Each of the 10 chapters deals with one special area used to solve cases, including 'Reading the Blood', 'Reading the Bones', and 'Reading the Crime Scene'. Porter's writing style mixes science with storytelling, taking readers through labour-intensive tests of bugs, bones, blood, and DNA. It’s a fascinating window into a world where tired, over-worked people have a burning commitment for justice and a truthful outcome.  Not for the squeamish, obviously, but a fascinating read nonetheless.
Deb.

ABIA Shortlist

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The 14th Australian Book Industry Awards shortlist has just been announced.  The nominated Books of the Year fall into the following categories (plus two children's categories):

International Book of the Year:


THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt
AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED by Khaled Hosseini
THE LUMINARIES by Eleanor Catton
HARD LUCK: DIARY OF A WIMPY KID by Jeff Kinney
I AM MALALA by Malala Yousafzai

General Fiction Book of the Year:


ELIANNE by Judy Nunn
WATCHING YOU by Michael Robotham
THE HUSBAND’S SECRET by Liane Moriarty
THE TOURNAMENT by Matthew Reilly
THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion

Literary Fiction Book of the Year:


BARRACUDA by Christos Tsiolkas
EYRIE by Tim Winton
THE NIGHT GUEST by Fiona McFarlane
BURIAL RITES by Hannah Kent
THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan

General Non-fiction Book of the Year:



THE GOOD LIFE by Hugh Mackay
GIRT: THE UNAUTHORISED HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA by David Hunt
ON THE TRAIL OF GENGHIS KHAN by Tim Cope
THE STALKING OF JULIA GILLARD by Kerry-Anne Walsh
MURDER IN MISSISSIPPI by John Safran

Illustrated Book of the Year:



THE FOOD OF VIETNAM by Luke Nguyen
THE NEW CLASSICS by Donna Hay
LOVE ITALY by Guy Grossi
I QUIT SUGAR FOR LIFE by Sarah Wilson
GURRUMUL by Gurrumul and Robert Hillman

Biography of the Year:



A LONG WAY HOME by Saroo Brierley
PONTING: AT THE CLOSE OF PLAY by Ricky Ponting
NED KELLY: THE STORY OF AUSTRALIA’S MOST NOTORIOUS LEGEND by Peter FitzSimons
THE CROSSROAD by Mark Donaldson, VC
MADNESS: A MEMOIR by Kate Richards
EVERYTHING TO LIVE FOR: THE INSPIRATIONAL STORY OF TURIA PITT by Turia Pitt with Libby Harkness

The shortlist has been compiled by a panel from more that 100 booksellers and publishers.  The winners will be announced at a Sydney gala dinner on Friday 23 May.
Deb. 

Pushing The Limits

Quicksand -

Title: Pushing The Limits
Author: Katie McGarry

Pushing the limits’ by Katie McGarry is such a good read. Echo Emerson has experienced a traumatic event. The thing is, she can’t remember it. Echo tries and discovers what happened to her while dealing with the emotional and physical scars that this event has left behind and why it had drastically changed her life.
Noah Hutchins is a bad boy. But he also has his own secrets and insecurities. An event changes his happy, care free life into a complicated journey of ups and downs. He has to make the right decisions without the help of many.
But, when Echo and Noah meet, a romance blossoms. They overcome barriers and learn to trust each other with some of their deepest secrets…
Michaela H
Age: 14

Never Say Goodbye

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Never say goodbye by Susan Lewis.

"Josie Clark is a loving wife and mother. She and her husband Jeff don’t have much and it’s often difficult to make ends meet. But Josie will do anything to protect her family and keep them safe.

Bel Monkton is a successful property developer, living in a beautiful house by the sea. She seems to have everything going for her, but she’s lonely. And she’s let the shadows from her past cloud her future.

Josie’s life couldn't be more different to Bel’s. But three years ago, tragedy tore Bel’s life in two. Now it’s happening to Josie."

This book is one that I couldn't put down. It is beautifully written with the individual stories flowing throughout. It tells the story about two women who meet in the most heartbreaking of circumstances with a common situation in both their lives. You can't help but feel for both of them. Josie getting a devastating diagnosis of her own, and Bel, through her own circumstances is still reeling from her own loss in her family. Josie and her husband Jeff live in a small English town and are existing on the breadline with one child in prison and the other just announcing her engagement. Josie does her best to see her son regularly, even though her husband won't, and worries about how they are going to give their daughter her dream wedding, then comes the crushing blow to her health.

Bel has sacrificed her own happiness to help care for her niece and nephew after the loss of her sister. Her brother in law has just remarried and is intending on taking his children and new wife to the other side of the world. These children are her only link to her twin sister, how will she cope without them.

A mutual acquaintance brings Josie and Bel together and a great friendship and support begins, which changes both of their lives, while fighting the biggest battle of all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book which will appeal to readers that like stories about female friendships, but beware, you may have to have your tissues handy.


~ Janine

Heritage Festival May 4 2014

Links to our Past - history -


The City of Casey National Trust Heritage Festival is on again - this Sunday at the Old Cheese Factory in Homestead Road in Berwick. This is a free event - here are some of the activities -  
  • Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony by Wurundjeri Elder, Bill Nicholson
  • Local Heritage Groups will have displays and can provide information
  • Heritage plays on the history of the Old Cheese Factory  by the Woodland Players
  • Free antique appraisals (no stamps, coin or jewellery)
  • Live music by the Berwick & District Folk Club
  • High Tea (please book on 8786 7900)
  • Animal farm for children  and more.
The event is from 11.00am to 4.00pm and it's free. All welcome.


Stella Prize

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The winner of the $50,000 Stella Prize 2014 is Clare Wright for The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka.

The prize is named after one of Australia’s iconic female authors, Stella Maria ‘Miles’ Franklin. Both non-fiction and fiction books by Australian women are eligible for entry.
 
This is the first time a non-fiction work has won the Stella Prize. Last year’s inaugural winner was Carrie Tiffany for her novel Mateship with Birds.
Deb.

The Lost Princess in Winter’s Grip

Book Swamp -

The Lost Princess in Winter’s Grip by Josh Kilen

This book was fantastic!!!! It was about an adopted princess being taken back from her adoptive parents and back to her original parents who were actually ice witches!! After she had been in there for a couple of years, a prince, named Ryan, came to save her. Together they travel to collect the two gems of the southern tribes. The north tribes were the ice people. Annabeth is the living key to true justice. I don't want to spoil the surprise, so if you like this review, you might wanna read the book!!

Isabelle
Age 10
Rangebank Primary School

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Reading Rewards - reviews -

Desert Queen: the many lives and loves of Daisy Bates by Susanna De Vries 
    

From the cover:  In the 1890s, when a woman's role was seen as marrying well and raising a family, Daisy Bates reinvented herself from humble governess to heiress, traveller and woman of science. She would become one of the best-known and most controversial ethnologists in history, and one of the first people to put Aboriginal culture on the map. Born into tough circumstances, Daisy's prospects were dim; her father an alcoholic boot maker, her mother dying of consumption when Daisy was only four years old. Through sheer strength of will, young Daisy overcame her miserable start, and in 1883 she migrated to Australia with a boatload of orphans, passing herself off as an heiress who taught for fun. Marriage followed - first with the young Breaker Morant, then bigamously with two other husbands. For decades she led a double life. But who was the real Daisy Bates?

This story, this part of Australian history, is an eye opener if nothing else.  I’m unfamiliar with the name Daisy Bates and her travails in outback Australia with the aboriginal population has never made it into any of my history lessons at school, nor in any Australian reading I’ve picked up since.  (I must be living under a rock as I’ve since learned there are at least six books, a play, an opera, a film at least three portraits, a dozen or so book chapters and numerous journal and newspaper articles!) It is my bête noire that Australian school children are taught more about American presidents or English history than that of their own country – but we won’t get started down that route.  Suffice to day, this is not a thrilling story, but it is one that holds interest as Daisy Bates remains to this day - despite all the previously mentioned books, plays etc. - a total enigma.
Deb. 


Heart Beat...

Quicksand -

What do you do when the person you love the most is dead,How do you cope when they’re still aroundHow do you love when everything you once believed is goneLife, Death, Love…they change everything

Emma is lost in a sea of grieve, her mother is dead but not, being kept alive by machines that beat her heart to save the baby she carries. Emma resents her step-father for the choices he’s made, resents herself for the choices she makes and is drowning in sorrow and despair. What can Emma do when everything that once mattered the most never really mattered at all? Enter Caleb Harrison, the old Emma would not have spared this car stealing, reformed drug addict a second thought but new Emma, the one who is slowly dying, can only find relief in Caleb, a kindred spirit drowning in his own sea of grieve and despair. Death is hard but living is harder, together Emma and Caleb will find that life with another, life with love is always better. Emma is on the hard road learning that life doesn’t always  let us make our own fates, that sometimes life is bigger than one person’s plans, but there’s always a silver lining, a beauty to life that can be difficult to see in the mists of despair. Sometimes just living, loving and being happy can be the hardest choice of all. And it’s the choice Emma must make? Love or Hate? Life or Death? Happiness or Sorrow. No one ever said life was easy…and for Emma it sure isn’t
Scott is known for the romantic writings, the star-crossed, forbidden romances of the teen years but in Heartbeat she goes one further exploring all the other loves that define a teen; the love shared between a mother and her daughter, the love of a parent and a child, a brother and a sister, a girl and her best friend. It’s a coming of age tale told in the most complex of situations and while I time I found myself frustrated by the characters, especially Emma, her step-father and her best friend, the plot made for some dramatic and life-affirming moments. The one thing I do feel is missing from this story is Caleb’s voice because Caleb intrigued me; while he’s story is told through Emma’s I would have loved to have heard from him, to experience what his pain is like from his perspective, to see how he pulled himself together alone. Emma is a typical broken protagonist blaming the rest of the world when she is mad at herself, Caleb is not so much a bad boy as a broken one as are other characters including Emma’s mum and step-father. I do have to say that I absolutely loved Olivia, the best friend, for her aversion to technology. How interesting to see the complex of technology addiction reflected in adults rather than the teen.  Overall I really enjoyed this novel, which unlike Scott’s other works was less about young love and more about living life and making every second count. A wonderful all-compassing love story about growing up and finding out what truly matters; the one we love and who love us back.

Courtney :)

The immortal crown

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The game board has been setPlayers have made their movesThey have survived the gods…and each otherHowever the game is far from over…
Series: Gameboard of Gods, The Immortal Crown
Mae Koskinen and Justin March have survived their first round with the battling gods, however as more fight for control of the humans, especially those considered special, things will become even more dangerous. Accompanying a diplomatic entourage to the enemy sate of Arcadia, Justin and Mae will continue their investigation into the supernatural return of the Gods. However when gods are involved nothing is predictable and  Justin and Mae will find themselves making choices they never could have imagined. They must battle not only the gods and each other but also themselves. What is to come will be the hardest battle yet…Choose a side. Choose a god. Because soon there will be no choice…the gods are back.

The immortal crown is a stunning sequel to its predecessor Gameboard of gods and lived up to every high expectation I have come to hold about Richelle Mead’s novels. As with the first Mead has imaginatively crafted a tale of a dystopian future shrouded in mystery and mythology. The immortal crown is a thrilling and engaging read, the complexity of not just the characters, who are so wonderfully portrayed within the descriptive writing of Mead, but also in the world and the plot delivered, will have you hooked from the very first page. While at times the complexity of the plot is overwhelming, so many gods, so many moves and counter-moves, I couldn'thelp but appreciate the effort and the intelligence taken to plot such an intricate tale. What really strikes a chord in this is the reversal of traditional roles; the female, Mae, gets to be the strong defender while the male, Justin, is the weaker intellect. Secondary characters round out  the tale with some shocking and surprising plot twists put into play. It is a credit to Mead’s writing prowess that she can elicit a full range of emotions from just one story; reading this I felt everything from love to frustration to anger, joy and intrigue. Imaginatively crafted. Fast paced. Enthralling. This is everything you could possible hope for from a novel; great characters, amazing worlds, suspenseful plots and even a touch of romance. Do not let this one pass you by…

Courtney :)

The Changi Brownlow

Reading Rewards - reviews -

With ANZAC day tomorrow and the blockbuster footy match between Collingwood and Essendon, now is the perfect time to borrow this book I reviewed quite some time ago. 

From the cover of The Changi Brownlow by Roland Perry: "In the harshness and brutality of Changi Prison a group of Australian POW’s dug deep and fought to maintain their spirit in the best way they knew how – Australian Rules Football.
From Snowy River country came Peter Chitty; from Fitzroy came ‘Chicken’ Smallhorn, the winner of the 1933 Brownlow Medal. Together they helped form six teams to play ‘the season’ – culminating in Victoria versus ‘the Rest of Australia’, with the Changi Brownlow winner declared before the final game. The bonds these men forged on the makeshift playing field of Changi were to sustain them when so many were later sent to labour on the Thai-Burma Railway. Ravaged by cholera, starved and worked to death, fewer than half survived. This is their moving and powerful story."


And a powerful one it is indeed. Initially slow to start, it’s worth sticking with, particularly if you don’t know much about this horrendous chapter in the history of Australia’s participation in World War Two. It’s gut-wrenching reading in parts, while others have you leaping up from your chair to punch the air in celebration of bravery, mental and intestinal fortitude and sheer physical endurance. I believe if you’re a footy fan you may enjoy this book more than those who aren’t into the code, but above all, it is an amazing story of human spirit more than anything else – one that was a privilege to read and one I highly recommend.
Deb.

Die for Love

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Die for Love by Elizabeth Peters

From the cover:  The annual Historical Romance Writers of the World convention in New York City is calling to Jacqueline Kirby, a Nebraska librarian who desperately desires some excitement. But all is not love and kisses at this august gathering of starry-eyed eccentrics and sentimental scribes. AS far as Jacqueline is concerned, the sudden “natural” death of a gossip columnist seems anything but. And when she’s approached by a popular genre star who fears for her own life, the resourceful Ms Kirby quickly goes back to work … as a sleuth. 

This is apparently the third of the Jacqueline Kirby series written by the very talented “MJM” - Barbara Mertz (aka Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels) who, aged 85, died peacefully at home in August last year (2013). A huge fan of her other series – Amelia Peabody, this one seemed a bit light on. But when you’re talking about romance, why am I so surprised. Narrated by Grace Conlin, there’s an undercurrent of “I don’t really like men” coming through and Jacqueline herself is not short on ego, so it can be a bit annoying. Otherwise, a reasonably pleasant way to avoid mind-numbing drivel on drive-time radio to and from work. 
Deb. 

The 26 Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Book Swamp -


Type of story: Adventure

Tell us about it: Andy and his best friend Terry continue their journey and add another 11 stories to their treehouse plus the mystery level which Andy keeps a surprise from Terry and finally reveals it to him as a solution to fix their problem of having to much books to right. Little did they know the machine had control over their house and locked all the doors so Andy and Terry could not get in to collect their book because the machine became to attached to the book. And much much more. Read the book to find out. Enjoy.

How good was it? Fantastic

Review by Kayla, age 10

This book is also available from the library as an e-book


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