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The Tale of Halcyon Crane

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb

From the cover:  When a mysterious letter lands in Hallie James’s mailbox, her life is upended.  Hallie was raised by her loving father, having been told her mother died in a fire decades earlier.  But it turns out her mother, Madlyn, was alive until very recently.  Why would Hallie’s father have taken her away?  What really happened 30 years ago?  In search of answers, Hallie travels to the place her mother lived, a remote island in the middle of the Great Lakes and the grand Victorian house bequeathed to her.  Maybe it’s the eerie atmosphere or maybe it’s the prim, elderly maid who used to work for her mother, but Hallie just can’t shake the feeling that strange things are starting to happen…

I love a good ghost story but some of them can be quite silly or poorly written.  This, however, is one of the better ones – a great location, very atmospheric and a jolly good read!Deb. 


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Book name : Illusionology
Author of the book: Albert D. Schafer

I liked this book because it was really weird and it was like you are in the book.  I recommend it for people who want to be a magician.

What do you rate the book out of 10?: 9

Age: 12

Beautiful Malice

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Title: Beautiful Malice 
Author Rebecca James

‘Truth or dare?’ She asks.
I hesitate. ‘Truth,’ I say finally. ‘I can imagine one of your dares, and I don’t fancy running down Oxford Street naked tonight.’
‘Truth,’ Alice says slowly, drawing out the vowel sound as if she’s savouring the word. ‘Are you sure? Are you sure you can be completely honest?’
‘I think so. Try me.’
‘Okay.’ And then she looks at me curiously. ‘So. Were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed?’

Katherine has moved away from her shattered family to start afresh in Sydney. There she keeps her head down until she is befriended by the charismatic, party-loving Alice, who brings her out of her shell. But there is a dark side to Alice, something seductive yet threatening. And as Katherine learns the truth about Alice, their tangled destinies spiral to an explosive and devastating finale.

Firstly, I would like to say this Beautiful Malice is by far the best novel I have ever read.
I've read a lot of novels in my time, but this one takes the cake.
I'm not really into teen angst, lovey-dovey novels, which is what I thought this one was going to be. But boy was I wrong.
If you're into those types of books that leave you biting your nails down to the core, or falling off the edge of your seat, then this is the one read for you.
It was beautiful, scary, lovely and awful at the same time, all in a good way!
I've since recommended ALL of my friends to read this beautiful book. And so far, they have all returned to me baffled by how great it was.
If you've ever lost someone special in your life, or even had an enemy, than this book is as close as you get to re-living it all.

Age 17

The First Bird

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The First Bird trilogy by Greig Beck
From the cover:  Matt Kearns, linguist, archaeologist and reluctant explorer from Beneath the Dark Ice and Black Mountain faces a terrifying new challenge and this time he doesn't have Alex Hunter to save him when the stuff hits the fan. When a fame-hungry scientist brings an impossible, living specimen of a creature long thought extinct back from the wild jungles of South America he unwittingly brings along a passenger. An infestation begins, rapidly overtaking medical resources and resisting all treatment. Carla Nero, chief scientist of the Centre for Disease Control makes Matt an offer he can't refuse and together they join a team heading to the deep jungle in a desperate race to locate the hidden place where the specimen was taken. Only by finding the location of the specimen can the team - and the world - hope to uncover the secret of how to survive the ancient, horror that has been released.
One of my favourite Aussie authors is back with another sci-fi/thriller/anthropological/geo-political/military creep-fest, this time in a trilogy which you can read, or in the case of audio, listen, separately or in one sitting – the omnibus.  If going the audio route, Sean Mangan is reading again and delivers an excellent narration.  Just a word or two of advice up front:  if downloading the audio and listening to the three books, please note the chapter numbers continue throughout  i.e.  Book 2 STARTS at Chapter 22.  No, you are not missing 21 chapters as I originally thought!   The other piece of advice?  If you’re arachnophobic, best give this a wide miss!  Highly recommended for those who love this genre!Deb.

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse by Chris Riddell

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Ada Goth lives with her father, Lord Goth of Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Her mother died years ago while practising tight-rope walking on the roof of the Hall, and her father has withdrawn from society to write extremely long sad poems. Ada must wear large boots at all times so her father (who believes that children should be heard and not seen) does not bump into her accidentally, bringing back memories of his wife.

Ada is lonely and her life lacks excitement but all this changes when she meets the ghost of a mouse who died in the Hall. She decides to look into the mystery surrounding his death and on the way stumbles into a scheme concocted by the horrible caretaker Maltravers. What terrible surprise does he have planned for Lord Goth's annual hunting party this year? Read it to find out!

This book is full of humorous literary allusions that may be missed by its target audience, but it's still a fun, action-packed story, written and beautifully illustrated by Chris Riddell. It also might encourage its readers to get into the Romantic and Gothic fiction that it lampoons in its pages. I loved it.

Learn how to draw the mouse in the book in the video below!

- Celia

The Better Woman

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Better Woman by Ber Carroll is the story of two women who grow up on opposite sides of the world.

Sarah Ryan grows up in her grandmother's house in a small Irish village. Sarah is clever and ambitious. She fully believes that John Delaney, the boy-next-door and her first love, will be right by her side . . . until he breaks her heart.

Jodi Tyler is raised on Sydney’s northern beaches amidst a close and loving family. But Jodi has a secret, a tragic secret which leaves her determined to make a success of her life. And when Jodi falls head over heels in love, she too ends up with a broken heart.

This is a story of two remarkable women who face all life's challenges head on – and those they love and lose on their journey. Set in Ireland, Australia, London and New York, Sarah and Jodi make their way in the world unaware that their lives are running in parallel. It is only when they both want the same thing that their paths will finally cross.

This is another author who I haven't read before and she was born in Ireland, but has lived in Australia since 1995. I listened to this book on CD and the narrator was also excellent. I loved the way Ber told the stories about the two girls lives individually, bouncing back and forth between them during the book, and when the book ended, I was totally satisfied with the ending - which sometimes is rare when you read a book.

This book is available to borrow either in Audiobook CD, Hardcover or E-book form. Highly recommended to readers who like Irish-Australian novels, family sagas and contemporary women's fiction.

~ Janine

Hallam School, No. 224.

Links to our Past - history -

It's back to school week, so I thought we would look at some school photographs. Our Archive gets many donations and these photographs of  Hallam School, No.244, were donated by Mr Jim Alexander. Mr Alexander was an inaugural Councillor for the City of Berwick from 1973 until 1982. James Alexander Reserve in Endeavour Hills is named in his honour.

Hallam School was established in 1858 as the Eumemmerring Denominational School. There were 44 students and the Head Teacher was Daniel Cusack. It is probable that this school was located on the corner of Heatherton and Hallam roads. In 1862, the School became the Eumemmerring Common School, No.244.  I n 1873, it was renamed Eumemmerring State School. At this time it was located on the Princes Highway, opposite the end of Olive Road, where the General Motors Holden factory is. Daniel Ahern was the Head Teacher from 1870 until 1890.

In 1894, it became an adjunct to Dandenong State School, No.1403 and only the infant School remained on the site. It wasn't until 1902 that the Education Department recommended that the School be separated from Dandenong. A new school building was erected and opened in November 1904, on the Princes Highway, just west of the Hallam Hotel. In 1906, the school changed its name to Hallam’s Road School. The School was enlarged in 1921 with the addition of a second class room. In 1923 it was renamed Hallam State School.

Opening of the second class room at Hallam's Road School in February 1921.

The Hallam's Road School Committee, 1921. Standing at back - left to right - Mr Wallace, Mr Service, Mr Kirkham, Mr Butcher. Front row - possibly Mrs Burton, Mr Carter.

I looked in the Electoral Rolls on Ancestry database to see if I could find out more about these people and this is what I found - Jeremiah Wallace, address - Main Road Hallam, occupation - farmer, wife - Augusta Emma Wallace; John Service, Berwick Road Dandenong, dairy farmer, wife Elizabeth Duncan Service;   Francis Edward Kirkham, Hallam's Road, farmer, wife Margaret Beatrice Kirkham; Alfred Butcher, Hallam, dairy farmer, wife Amy Louise Butcher; Elizabeth Burton, Hallam, home duties, husband  John Frederick Burton, farmer; I can't find Mr Carter in the Electoral roll.

The Hallam's Road School Mothers Club, 1921. Standing at back - left to right - Mrs Boles, Mrs Crean, Mrs Gatter (nee Wallace), Mrs J. Meehan, Mrs Rout, Miss T. Morgan (teacher) and Mrs Blackley (nee Wallace). Seated at front - Mrs Opperman, Mrs Butcher, Mrs Wallace, Mrs Service.

According to the Electoral - Mrs Boles - I can't find Mrs Boles in the Electoral roll; Annie Florence Crean, Hallam, home duties, husband Andrew, a farmer; Mrs Gatter - I can't find Mrs Gatter in the Electoral roll; Ruth Rebecca Meehan, Hallam's Road Hallam, home duties, husband James Joseph, farmer; Ellen Rout, Hallam, home duties, husband Charles Rout dairyman;  Miss Morgan - I can't find Miss Morgan in the Electoral Roll but she may not have been 21 years old; Mrs Blackley - I can't find Mrs Blackley in the Electoral roll; Bertha Opperman, Berwick Road Dandenong, home duties, wife of Adolphus Samuel Opperman, water carter; Amy Louise Butcher, wife of Alfred Butcher listed above; Augusta Emma Wallace, wife of Jeremiah Wallace, listed above; Elizabeth Duncan Service, wife of John  Service listed above.

The school population grew in the late 1950s, partly due to the growth of the area after the International Harvester, H.J. Heinz and General Motors Holden factories were established in Doveton. By 1958, the School had to use the Hallam Public Hall, on the other side of the Highway, for extra class rooms. Unfortunately this involved children crossing the Princes Highway and a tragic accident resulted in a student losing his life in a car accident in October 1962. Community agitation saw the construction of a new school on its existing site in Harmers Road and this opened in November 1963.

Hallam School in 1924.
Back row - Mr Webb (teacher), W. Hawksley, L.Vines, ? Hansen, unknown, A. Hyde, H. Knight, L.Dight, A. Kanes.Second back row - B. Kirkham, R. Butcher, E. Wallace, W. Harmer, I. Hawksley, M. Hansen, O. Harmer, N. Douglas. Second row from front - G. Hawksley, C. Dight, I.Haines, E. Graham, I. Crean, G. Barnes, A. Vines, A. Kane, O. Grahame, M. Vines.Front row - J. Kirkhan, J. Rust, H. Kirkham, T. Kirkham, R. Sorenson.

Puppy Power by Anna Wilson

Book Swamp -

Type of story: Animal

Tell us about it: Summer Love, a young girl who lives with her older sister April and her mother has a cute puppy named Honey.

In this story, their vet Nick says that Honey can have babies if they want her to. Summer is so excited that she can hardly wait! But her mother isn't so sure about that.

Join Summer and her pet Honey in a great story, that you will never forget!

How good was it? Fantastic

Review by Naomi, age 10

Read it in e-book format

Me Before You

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is a love story and a family story, but above all it’s a story of the bravery and sustained effort needed to redirect the path of a life once it’s been pushed off course.

Louisa Clark, a 26-year-old working-class girl, lands a position as a “care assistant” to an intelligent, wealthy and very angry 35-year-old man named Will Traynor, who has spent the past two years as a quadriplegic after being hit by a motorbike. It is Will’s mother, Camilla who hires Louisa, and she does so out of desperation. She knows her son is miserable. She already employs a nurse to attend to his medical needs, but she hopes that somehow Louisa might boost his morale.

What Louisa discovers is that Will has a desire to not continue to live this way, and she is determined to change his mind. What develops between them is a mutual respect and love. And Louisa discovers a lot about Will and herself in the process. I won't give away the ending, but all I can say is that you can't put it down once you get near the end.

Fans of The Fault in our Stars which is a Young Adult book will really enjoy this read.

~ Janine

Global Best-sellers

Reading Rewards - reviews -

To provoke a fascinating discussion all you have to do is provide a list, and this one, discovered this morning, fits the bill admirably.  It's the best-seller list published in 2012 from 10 countries around the globe.  
Discuss ...

Australia:  Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney was the best seller, but for adults the most popular was Anna Funder’s All That I Am

Brazil:  Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James 

China:  Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

France: Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James

India:  Didn't really have a set list but apparently the reading highlight was Corporate Chanakya by Radhakrishnan Pillai and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: A Novel In Cartoons, by Jeff Kinney.

Indonesia:  The American edition of Andrea Hirata’s The Rainbow Troops

Mexico: 1.  Cincuenta sombras de Grey by E. L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey)

Norway:  It was a “literary” translation of the Bible, published in October 2011, which sold 157,000 copies in 2012, a huge number for a country Norway’s size. Indeed, it was among the top 15 best-sellers for 54 out of 56 weeks.

Russia:  The Green Tent by Ludmila Ulitskaya, as well as Viktor Pelevin’s Pineapple Water for the Fair Lady, Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, and Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery.

UK: Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code


Postcards of Tooradin

Links to our Past - history -

These are a series of postcards from the 1940s or 1950s of Tooradin. Tooradin, has always had  a reputation as a 'Sportsman's Paradise' and by that they meant there was plenty of good fishing and hunting (ducks, quail and swans seemed to be the target). There is a first hand account of this sport in Around Tooradin : the Sportsman's Paradise by Hawkeye. It was published, in serial form, in late 1888 and early 1889 to promote the sale of land around Tooradin. Hawkeye described the journey to Tooradin by train, the fishing, local hospitality. Hawkeye's observations have been re-published in Tooradin: 125 years of Coastal History.

Tooradin township was first sub-divided in 1869 and cottages were built along Sawtell's Inlet. The Cranbourne Shire Historical Society manages one of the few remaining Cottages as a Museum. This Cottage was built circa 1873 and you can see it in the 1870s photograph, below. As you can also see, sailing and promenading were also popular past-times.

Sawtell's Inlet, Tooradin - 1870s

The Foreshore, Tooradin.

Moored boats on the Foreshore - the c.1873 cottage, referred to above, can be seen just to the right of the yacht's mast.

Jetty and Anchorage, Tooradin.

Another view of Sawtell's Inlet. Sawtell's Inlet was named after Melbourne merchant Edwin Sawtell in 1840.

Camping Ground, Tooradin.
Causeway from Children's Pool, Tooradin
The Children's pool was near the old State School, on the inlet, opposite the Tooradin Public  Hall.
The Causeway, Tooradin. 
The photograph is looking towards the garage that was on the corner of the South Gippsland Highway and the Foreshore. the garage was built in 1920 by John Colvin. Behind the garage is Cova Cottage cafe. The original bridge over Sawtell's Inlet was built possibly 1858, as the State Government Gazette lists a contract being accepted for erecting three bridges over the Tooradin inlets at Western Port in the edition published April 23, 1858 (see below). The contract was let to Arbut Brown and the cost was two thousand, four hundred and twenty pounds.
State Government Gazette April 23, 1858http://gazette.slv.vic.gov.au/

The Shire of Cranbourne advertised for tenders to repair the bridge, in The Argus of December 27, 1872. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper

The Flood Gates, Tooradin

The Flood Gates over Sawtell's Inlet were constructed in 1904 with Turnbull Brothers being the Contractors. In an article in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of October 26, 1904 (see below) it appears that the cost for the 'extensive work' would amount to 1000 pounds, double the contracted price. The purpose of the flood gates was to control the flow of water during the many floods on the surrounding Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp, however they have been unpopular with farmers who feel that they impede the flow of flood waters from their properties and a report in a newspaper from 1917 complains that the restricted flow of water has caused the inlet to be silted up. 
South Bourke and Mornington Journal of October 26, 1904

This is the cover of the post card collection.

Romance Awards

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Voting has now opened for the 2013 Australian Romance Readers Awards! Three Australian-based digital-first imprints have nominees this year - Escape Publishing, Momentum and Penguin Australia's Destiny imprint. There are nine 'Favourite' categories, as well as Members’ Choice categories. They are:  
 Paranormal Romance
 Sci Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance
 Short Category Romance
 Historical Romance
 Contemporary Romance
 Erotic Romance
 Romantic Suspense
 Continuing Romance Series
 Australian Romance Author 2013

Members’ Choice categories are …
Favourite Cover from a romance published in 2013, the Sexiest Hero from a romance published in 2013, and Favourite New Romance Author for 2013.

If you’re an ARRA member, you can now vote for your favourite in each category. Voting will close on 5 March and winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner to be held on 22 March 2014 in Sydney.  Click here to see all finalists in each category.

5000 Poppies: a community tribute of respect and remembrance

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

There are currently a number of blogs and websites in existence to commemorate the forthcoming centenary of the First World War or Great War - there are the official Government sites - some are listed in the links on the right and there are others created by community groups or  individuals such as the 5000 Poppies: a community tribute of respect and remembrance blog  http://5000poppies.wordpress.com

This is what the 5000 Poppies blog is about: From its association with poppies flowering in the spring of 1915 on the battlefields of Belgium, France and Gallipoli, the poppy has become a symbol of both great loss in war and hope for those left behind. As part of the 2015 Anzac Commemoration, the 5000 Poppies project will be “planting” a field of more than 5000 poppies in Fed Square Melbourne as a stunning visual tribute to Australian servicemen and women for more than a century of service in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. We are inviting all crafters to participate in this meaningful and heartfelt project.

People can hand make as many poppies as they wish  by crocheting, knitting, felting or sewing and the 5000 Poppies blog provides patterns and will provide details of workshops.

This is such a lovely idea which anyone could get involved with and it reminds me that 100 years ago, the women on the home front would have been busy doing the same sorts of home sewing and crafting - knitting socks and balaclavas for the men men serving overseas; knitting clothes for family members, crocheting rugs, making clothes for themselves and their children and even re-making clothes to fit - when times were tight 'hand me downs' were the order of the day.  All the information you need to participate is on the 5000 Poppies blog.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Quicksand -

Eleanor and Park landed on my desk a few days ago. I had forgotten why I had ordered it, and it appeared to be a romance, a genre I generally steer clear of. However, I figured there must have been a good reason I wanted it, so I started to read.

Eleanor has just moved to a new school. She's a chubby redhead with terrible fashion sense, so she's not really kicking any goals in high school. Park is half Korean in an all-white American town, as well as being interested in comic books. Despite this he manages to be vaguely accepted by the popular kids, so he doesn't want anything to do with Eleanor. He knows that she could damage his hard-won acceptance.

This is one of the brilliant things that Rainbow Rowell does in this book. She writes so truthfully about adolescence. It really brought back the sting of high school. Park is a decent kid, and he feels guilty about the way he avoids Eleanor, but doing crappy things like that is something we have all experienced in our teen years.

The the slow and inevitable fall into love is captivating to read, and heartbreaking.

So why did I order it? Well, the official Captain of Awesome (according to me, anyway) John Green loved this book. Read his review of the book here.

So now you have to read it.

This was published in the US as a YA book, but we appear to have copies that have been published in the UK as adult books. Both adults and teen welcome!

- Celia

Secrets of the sea house

Reading Rewards - reviews -

This review of Secrets of the Sea House by Elizabeth Gifford is from a library member.

Scotland, 1860. Reverend Alexander Ferguson, naive and newly-ordained, takes up his new parish, a poor, isolated patch on the Hebridean island of Harris. His time on the island will irrevocably change the course of his life, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after Alexander departs. It will be more than a century before the Sea House reluctantly gives up its secrets. Ruth and Michael buy the grand but dilapidated building and begin to turn it into a home for the family they hope to have. Their dreams are marred by a shocking discovery. The tiny bones of a baby are buried beneath the house; the child's fragile legs are fused together - a mermaid child. Who buried the bones? And why? Ruth needs to solve the mystery of her new home - but the answers to her questions may lie in her own past. Secrets of the Sea House is an epic, sweeping tale of loss and love; hope and redemption; and how we heal ourselves with the stories we tell.

What an interesting book this is. It has everything from mystery to geographical and historical facts. Told in a sensitive manner which is a credit to its author, Elizabeth Gifford. If you love a good yarn that is well written and will hold you spellbound for its entire length you must read this.

Thanks Edwina for the review, its much appreciated.

~ Michelle

Bleed for Me

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Bleed for Me by Michael Robotham

From the cover: A former detective lies dead in his daughter’s bedroom. A traumatised 14-year old is found covered in her father’s blood. Everything points to Sienna Hegarty’s guilt, but Joe O’Loughlin isn’t convinced. Against the advice of police, he launches his own search for answers; a hunt that will lead them to a conspiracy of silence and a race-hate trial that is captivating the nation. 

I started last year (2013) by reading my first Michael Robotham and I finished the year on a second one! I’m finding that these Robotham books don’t make for easy breezy reading; they are very adult in subject matter, in this instance a paedophile teacher grooming schoolgirls; our main protagonist battling Parkinson’s disease and a divorce he doesn’t want; and a race-hate trial. Joe is a character that captures our empathy, actually all the characters are real and well drawn be they goodies or baddies, and the author paces the story well, which is probably why you can’t NOT finish these books. 

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Book Swamp -

Mum’s away.
Dad’s in charge.
There’s no milk.

So what happens when your dad goes to get milk?
Does he meet globby green aliens in a huge silver disc?
Or perhaps a scientist stegosaurus driving a hot air balloon, or as she calls it Professor Steg’s Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier?

Did he meet pirates…or perhaps talking ponies?
Were there angry volcano gods wanting human sacrifices?
Did he meet intergalactic police and wumpires?

If not, if your dad does the usual boring go-to-the-shops-to-get-milk, then this book is for you.

Where dads have adventures.

Or do they?

Fun read, highly recommended.
Vicki @ Pak

Pippa the Perfect Flowergirl by Julie Nickerson

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Tell us about it: There is this girl named Pippa and she wants everything to be perfect for her Aunt Sophie's wedding. She plays hide and seek with the dressmaker Dot, but falls asleep while she's waiting to get found. At last she gets found but it's too late and they have to go. What will happen next? Will she make it in time for the wedding and still make sure everything is perfect?

How good was it? OK

Review by Madelyn, age 10

Enchanted Palace by Rosie Banks

Book Swamp -

Type of story: Adventure

Tell us about it: Ellie, Summer and Jasmine are the very best of friends. One Day they find a magic box that whisks them away to a fantastical world. Can the friends help Trixi the pixie save King Merry's 1000th birthday party from Queen Malice's spiky thunderbolt?

How good was it? Fantastic

Review by Ranya, age 10


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