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The Case of the Deadly Desperados by Caroline Lawrence

Book Swamp -

Type of story: Adventure

Tell us about it:
If you like good adventure stories, then you won't want to miss The Case of the Deadly Desperados. The main character and hero within the book is 12 year old P.K. Pinkerton. P.K. becomes a Private Detective, and with clever detecting skills - eyes as sharp as a hawk, ears as keen as a rabbit, and sense of smell almost as good as a bear - is a natural for the job. The Case of the Deadly Desperados is set in America in the 1860's in the largely lawless Virginia City. Every second building seems to be a saloon bar where men gamble and drink. Fights break out constantly. Non-stop action and twists and turns are contained on nearly every page as P.K strives to bring criminals to justice.

Recommended holiday reading with a Western theme.

How good was it? Fantastic

- Ann

William A. Smith lace factory in Doveton

Links to our Past - history -

Lace Street in Eumemmerring is the only  reminder of the William A. Smith lace factory which operated there from 1949 to the 1980s.  When the factory was built it was in Power Road, however Power Road was later diverted around the Eumemmerring Creek and the small section of it, south of the Creek, was renamed Lace Street (see aerial photograph below). The factory was in an area which has gone through many changes of name - initially Eumemmerring, then Dandenong, from 1954 called Doveton and from 1981 called Eumemmerring (again)

This article was  in, of all papers, the Kalgoorlie Times of March 30 1948 and is about the establishment of the lace factory. It also appeared word for word in the Burnie Advocate.  http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper
Maria Harding, in her book, Doveton: a brief history says that the factory was built in 1949 and started operations that year. Two managers houses were also built at this time.  Mrs Harding writes that this factory made handkerchiefs, napery and veils, no doubt using the products imported from the English factory. In 1953, another factory was built alongside the original one and this factory manufactured lace. A third managers residence was also built and eighty four people were employed. The factory operated until the 1980s when it closed as it could no longer compete with cheaper imports. The factory, which was on the west side of Lace Street was sold and has been demolished as have the three houses.
The employees of the lace factory in 1951.
There was an article in the Women's Weekly of April 22, 1959 entitled Dandenong: a symbol of industrial strength. This article looked at various factories in the Dandenong,  including the lace factory. They interviewed William Smith and he claims that his factory was the first in Dandenong. It goes on to say that at his 300 year old walnut desk, brought from England, Mr Smith sighed ' for the old days at Dandenong (1947) when not a light could be seen for miles at night'.  "Look at the bustle now', he said. A heavy stream of traffic packed the four-lane highway in from of the factory.
Women's Weekly of April 22, 1959   http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaperhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article48077502This picture accompanied the article about Dandenong and shows some of the lace factory employees.

This is a 1963 aerial of Doveton / Eumemmerring. Click on photo to enlarge it. That's the tree-lined  Eumemmerring Creek, snaking through from top right to bottom left and just to the right of the Creek, at the bottom, you can see Lace Street and the two factories on the western side, along with the three Manager's houses. Further north, the two ovals are Robinson Reserve and L.S. Reid oval. The intersection middle top is that of Frawley Road/Paperbark Street with Power Road. Follow Power Road to the bottom of the photo and it intersects with the Highway.  Power Road was diverted at this end as it would have been too expensive to build a bridge to take heavy trucks*. 
 *William Smith in an interview with Maria Harding


Reading Rewards - reviews -

Pawn by Aimee Carter is the first book in another dystopian young adult trilogy, but it will appeal to adult readers as well.

In this world everyone is marked by a number, which dictates your ranking in society. For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.

I really enjoyed this book, it kept me hooked from the beginning, I look forward to the next instalment!

~ Janine

The Case of the Pistol-Packing Widows

Quicksand -

Once I had  The Case of the Pistol-Packing Widows by Caroline Lawrence in my hands I could not put it down!
A western-style adventure set in America in the 1860's, this novel makes a very welcome change to the current young adult genres and themes on bookshelves.
The main character in the story is PK Pinkerton, a Private Detective. PK is a little over 12 years old, is half-Sioux, and has a very tragic past.
Non-stop drama, danger and high jinks befall PK at every turn. The opening page sees PK caught in a blizzard in the Nevada desert, facing an almost certain death. Then we discover the whole chain of events that led to the blizzard situation.
Leading up to the blizzard situation Pk is kidnapped and thrown into the back of a turnip wagon. An oriental woman awaits PK with a request - to spy on the gentleman who she suspects of 'Playing her False.' PK sighs. Another 'Romantic Job.' But to make matters even more tricky, the gentleman is one of PK's friends.
PK rises to the challenge with an amazing array of disguises, and is also perfecting the cunning trick of hiding in plain sight.
The plot becomes more and more complicated, involving confederates and corporation bills and road toll franchises. PK darts from undercover operation to undercover operation with the assistance of an ever growing band of allies.
Very funny, very poignant and highly recommended.

The Book Thief movie

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Based on the beloved international bestselling book, The Book Thief, the movie starring Geoffrey Rush, Sophie Nelisse and Emily Watson will be playing from 9-15 January, 2014 at the Classic Cinema, 9 Gordon Street Elsternwick.  Click here for session times and ticketing  http://www.classiccinemas.com.au/Movie/The-Book-Thief

This is a great chance to chat about the classic ‘book to movie’ scenario and which is better, the book or the movie. If you see the movie, drop us a comment here at RR and we’ll start up a discussion. We are really looking forward to hearing from you!

The Tournament

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Tournament is Matthew Reilly's latest title and a bit of a departure from his usual roller-coaster ride reads.

The year is 1546. Suleiman the Magnificent, the powerful and feared Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, issues an invitation to every king in Europe: you are invited to send your finest player to compete in a chess tournament to determine the champion of the known world. The English delegation - led by esteemed scholar Roger Ascham - journeys to the glittering city of Constantinople. Accompanying Ascham is his pupil, Bess, who is about to bear witness to events she never thought possible. For on the first night of the tournament, a powerful guest of the Sultan is murdered, and against the backdrop of the historic event, Ascham is tasked with finding the killer. Barbaric deaths, unimaginable depravity and diplomatic treachery unfold before Bess's eyes, indelibly shaping her character and determining how she will perform her future role...as Queen Elizabeth I. Even a pawn can become a queen.

When I read my first chapter of a Matthew Reilly novel, my breath was taken away. It was fast paced, action at every point and enough twists and turns to satisfy the most ardent roller coaster fan.  This book was very different. It was gently paced in comparison.

But it was still very good.  Matthew developed his characters well and took me on a fanciful excursion on what the young future Queen Elizabeth I might have done to have developed into the woman and queen we know of from history.

The characters are likeable, the mystery although not as intricate as others I have read, was still engaging and caught me up until the end. The relationship between student and teacher was special and the politics very interesting.

There were some disturbing moments, even for a murder mystery, but nothing that was out of line with the story or the period in which it was set.

If you like a murder mystery, or a historical novel with a difference, or just a saga where a good story is told of characters who you can engage with, then you will enjoy the Tournament. And if you are a Matthew Reilly fan, then I am sure you will enjoy this new journey as well.

~ Michelle

Asterix and the Picts

Book Swamp -

I grew up reading Asterix books. My uncle collected them and I enjoyed many afternoons reading and re-reading them.

So I was very happy to discover a new Asterix book - Asterix and the Picts.

Asterix and Obelix save a Pict - MacAroon and of course have to journey to Caledonia (now Scotland) to deliver him safely home. Of course there is plenty of fighting (the Romans and others), eating and fun along the way, as you always discover in an Asterix book.

If you love Asterix, graphic novels, fun plays on words and a good action packed story, that's not too long, then you will enjoy Asterix and the Picts.

If you haven't read Asterix books before, then you have a choice of 35 adventures to get you started.

Type of story: Humour

How good was it:  Great fun!

~ Michelle

FAVE READS of 2013

Reading Rewards - reviews -

It’s time to take a retrospective jaunt back through the year to share our favourite books from 2013 with you.  Without further ado …

Ali:  Night Games by Anna Krien
In this important book by award-winning author Anna Krien (author of Into The Woods) the whole kit and caboodle of sport, women, power and rape is explored.  Anna has a fantastic questioning style and is able to see many sides of the whole complicated issue. The book follows a particular incident which happened in 2010 in which a young woman was allegedly raped by multiple AFL players. The entire court case however focused on the one man who is not in the AFL but was a friend of some of them. The accused players were protected through club status, money and lawyers. The non player became a scapegoat. Anna draws a link between the camaraderie of footballers on the field with their misconduct off it, where sex has  become a sport.  Her prose cuts like glass and her legal research is exhaustive. Anna Krien has stamped her name as one of Australia's best young non-fiction writers who isn't afraid to address contemporary and challenging issues.

Teresa:   Breaking News: sex, lies & the Murdoch succession by Paul Barry
Paul Barry has a long history of outstanding biographies of Australian business magnates.  Kerry and James Packer and Alan Bond have all had their suspicious commercial dealings exposed with razor sharp insight backed up by painstaking research and investigation by this outstanding journalist and author. In his latest book he has turned his eye to perhaps the most unscrupulous of them all, Rupert Murdoch. Barry of course describes the outrages of the British phone hacking scandal but also links it with the intricate web of the Murdoch family dynasty and the question of who will succeed the master. I have read rather extensively on Rupert, but this book was the first one to explore Murdoch’s children and their relationship with their father, as well as pose the question of which of them, or if any, will eventually take the reins of his vast empire. A fascinating read, well recommended.

Dot:  Girt: the unauthorized history of Australia by David Hunt
My non-fiction pick is Girt, and I’m sure they didn't tell us any of this stuff at school!  Find out the real truth and the real character of some of Australia's most famous names.  This book is surprising, enlightening and very, very funny!
My favourite Fiction book was Velocity by Steve Worland.  It starts off slowly and builds to a race-against-time finale.  It’s a very clever and 'almost' plausible plot of terrorism and revenge with great characters (Aussie Corey and Spike are a riot) and it’s a non-stop rollercoaster ride. The next adventure is 'Combustion'  also starring Judd, Corey, Spike and Rhonda.  Perfect holiday escape reading! 

Lisa:  I've read a lot of amazing YA Fiction this year and two authors in particular really stood out for me. If you're looking for something to read with emotional depth then read anything by John Green or Karen Foxlee.  That said, my absolute favourite adult fiction for the year would have to be Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project. In my opinion, Don Tillman is the best character to hit the page since Grace Lisa Vandenburg in Toni Jordan's debut novel 'Addition'. I guess I have a soft spot for the quirky, socially inadequate outsider.

Michelle:  The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The movie coming soon finally motivated me to read this highly recommended title. Liesel Meminger is caught up in Nazi Germany during the war and finds her life changed by books.  She discovers one left behind in a moment of tragedy and thus begins her book-thieving journey.  Although slow to start, the characters, the setting and the story are woven beautifully and draw you into Liesel’s life, keeping you enthralled to the very end.  I can’t wait to see what the movie, starring Geoffrey Rush, does with the story.

Janine:  the Jeffrey Archer series  "The Clifton Chronicles" which started with Only Time Will Tell, then The Sins of the Father and Best Kept Secret.  I truly devoured all these books, it's been a while since I have read a good family saga, and now can't wait until the fourth book in the five-book series comes out in March 2014. Of course there were others I loved - The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, and the Aussie debut novel, Fractured, by Dawn Barker.

Pru:   Longing by Candice Bruce
Set in the Western District of Victoria in the 1840s, the lives of two very different women intersect. Ellis MacRorie is shipped  from her Scottish homeland by her bankrupt father. Leerpeen Weelan, her Aboriginal servant known as Louisa, has lost her tribe in a bloody act of violence. Forced to marry a man she does not love, and isolated from all society, Ellis is resigned to a wretched life on the remote homestead of Strathcarron. After the tragic death of two babies, she is ready is give up altogether. Although Louisa has endured unspeakable suffering, she becomes an unprecedented source of guidance, friendship and strength for Ellis. When the American Romantic landscape painter, sketcher and collector Sanford P. Hart comes to stay at Strathcarron, the two women are transformed forever - in both enriching and devastating measures.  More than 150 years later, ambitious curatorial assistant Cornelia, researching an exhibition on S. P. Hart for the National Gallery of Victoria, makes a remarkable discovery that has the potential to rewrite history. However, it is not Hart's paintings that offer a glimpse into the untold events of nineteenth-century rural Australia, but rather something very rare . . . The Longing is a novel about loss, finding home and the significance of history - what is recorded and those events that remain undiscovered.  This book was on the Summer Read 2013 list and I loved how the author used art to explore social and family history, but conveyed emotions with the light touch of a painter.

Deb:  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, participated in a tumor-shrinking medical miracle that bought her a few years, but Hazel has never been anything but terminal. When a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters, who is recovering from osteosarcoma, suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, it forces Hazel to re-examine her perspective on love, loss, and life.
Forget that the book has YA (Young Adult) on the cover – this is for anyone who enjoys being swept along by a story.  I had my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t be a real downer peppered with platitudes, pity and pathos, and that couldn’t have been further from the truth – this book sings with love, laughter and wonder.  Told from Hazel’s point of view, it has an infectious banter that bewitches you; it’s funny, intelligent, irreverent and thoughtful.  It’s one of those books that stays with you long after the covers are closed.   PS - stock up on the tissues.

So that wraps up another year of wonderful reads from the RR Team.  Did you have a stand-out book for the year?  If you did (or perhaps you had one that was a bitter disappointment) let us know and we'll share some more reviews before the year ends.


Harkaway - Max Thomson photograph collection at the State Library of Victoria

Links to our Past - history -

Historian, Mr Max Thomson, has donated his collection of historic photographs to the State Library of Victoria. Amongst the photographs are these ones of the Harkaway Hall - all taken by Michael J. Drew (1873-1943). They were all on glass negatives. Mr Thomson is the author of Little Hills, a history of Narre Warren North, published in 1977 to celebrate the centenary of the Narre Warren North State School, No.1901.

State Library of Victoria Image H2012.171/462
The Hall looks finished on the outside, so perhaps these workmen were finishing off the interior. 
State Library of Victoria  Image H2012.171/464
The Hall, completed and sign written, above.  The Hall was officially opened on June 9, 1909 by the Governor of Victoria, Sir Thomas Gibson Carmichael.  The only report of the opening which I can find  is from the Bendigo Advertiser of June 10 (see below) - I was a bit surprised that I couldn't find a local report. However, there is an account of the opening of the hall in the book Early Days of Berwick.   Mr James Curran, who wrote the chapter on Harkaway, reported that the Governor was escorted by a squadron of Australian Light Horse, the Narre Warren Troop, under the command of the late Lieutenant Alan Henry. The Troop also served as a Guard of Honour. 

Bendigo Advertiser, June 10 1909Trove trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper
State Library of Victoria Image H2012.171/460
The photograph, above, was taken at the opening of the hall on June 9, 1909. Mr Curran also wrote that the people associated with the establishment of the Hall were Mr G.O.Lyon, Mr W. Warby, Mr Drew, Cr W. G. A'Beckett, Cr Kerr, Cr Barr and Mesdames R. Kelly, W.H. Jarrett, E. Wanke, Miss Mackie and Miss Troupe. Perhaps some of these people are in this photograph.
State Library of Victoria Image H2012.171/498
This shows the interior of the Hall, it may be the opening day, however I can't identify any of these people in the photograph, above, and the ladies look as though they are more dressed for a summer's day rather than a June day. The man in the white suit also looks as if he is dressed for a summers day as well.  There is plenty of food, all labelled, so I believe that this is more likely to be a fete or a exhibition.
I thought I would see what I could find out about the photographer - Michael J. Drew. There is a Michael Forestall Drew born in 1873, who died in 1943 and so I believe that he is actually the photographer. According to the Electoral Roll he lived in Harkaway in 1909, his occupation was 'Independent means'. He is listed in Harkaway and Berwick in the Electoral Rolls until 1942.  His other photographs at the  State Library of Victoria include a lot of nature scenes of unidentified locations and unidentified family groups. 

Roads, Rates and Rubbish - 1980s

Links to our Past - history -

Traditionally, Councils had their main focus on the three Rs - Roads, Rates and Rubbish. I have spoken before about the Shire of Pakenham slides which I have scanned - so here a representative lot showing the three Rs in the 1980s!

 The Pakenham Shire and the City of Berwick were formed on October 1st, 1973 when the Shire of Berwick split, with the Cardinia Creek being the boundary. The Pakenham Shire became the  Cardinia Shire officially on the December 15, 1994 at 4.00pm. The Cardinia Shire consists on the old Pakenham Shire, the rural eastern parts of the Cranbourne Shire and Emerald and surrounds, which came from the Sherbrooke Shire.

I believe this was taken in 1993. The population of Pakenham was 25,648 at the 2011 Census.

Amongst the slides were these two, above and below, obviously done for a presentation, explaining the Rates notice and how the Shire spends its money - in 1981 when the slides were created  the Council budget was just over $5 million and 38% was spent on roads, streets and bridges. The Council budget is now about $93 million.

Rubbish - being collected in the old fashioned manner, where 'garbos' physically picked the bins. For Health and Safety reasons this has now been stopped.  Truck owned P.H & E.P Young, Ballarto Road, Cardinia.

Roads - Shire of Pakenham digger. 

Finally - just to prove that rate payers received other services for their rates - here is the Pakenham Library, taken in June 1981.  The Council obviously wasted no rate payer money on aesthetically  pleasing features when they built this building, utilitarian is perhaps the kindest description we could use.  The Library was opened in 1979, in John Street when it was a dead end, before Safeways and the Target shops were built.  There is an aerial photograph of the building here.  This Library was replaced by the second John Street Library in 1991.

Necessary Lies

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Necessary Lies is the first book I have read by Dianne Chamberlain. The year is 1960. The place, rural North Carolina. Jane is a 22 year old newlywed, beginning her first job as a social worker. One of her more intriguing cases is the Hart family. The ailing grandmother, her seventeen-year-old intellectually disabled daughter Mary Ella - mother to two-year-old baby William, and fifteen-year-old Ivy.

Mary Ella was involuntarily sterilized after her son's birth, part of a state-wide eugenics program. Ivy's former social worker wants her sterilized too, which takes Jane on an ethical odyssey. If everyone thinks Ivy should be sterilized, could they all be wrong or could she be right?

What follows makes for a great story which is based on truth, as this practice actually did happen until 1975 in some states in the USA.

I loved this book! I couldn't put it down, and I will be seeking out her other novels in due course.

An interesting aside to this story is that e-only short story - The First Lie, is actually is a preface to Necessary Lies and gives the background story. Personally I think it could have been just another chapter in the book, but didn't discover this until after I had read Necessary Lies.

~ Janine

Bulwer-Lytton Award

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is a tongue-in-cheek contest that takes place annually. Sponsored by the English Department of San Jose State University in California, entrants are invited "to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels" – that is, deliberately bad.  It is named for English novelist and playwright Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, author of the much-quoted first line "It was a dark and stormy night".

Drum roll …  And the winner is:  Chris Wieloch, Wisconsin USA

She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the thief of imagination."
Er, congrats Chris.

Never Fade: Alexandra Bracken

Quicksand -

The world is no longer black and white;Greens have higher intelligenceYellows control electricityBlues have telekinesisReds control fire and…Oranges can mind control.The world is a colourful and dangerous place….
Series: The Darkest minds, Never Fade
Ruby never asked to be special, she never asked to be Orange, to have the power to control, but she is andshe can so now she must deal with it if she has any hope of saving the ones she loves. In order to do so Ruby has sacrificed herself to the dangers of the Children’s League, a sinister organisation intent on using Ruby and those like her, to further their own cause. In Never Fade Ruby is entrusted with a dangerous and life altering secret; Liam, the boy she loved but who now would not even recognise her, has unexpectedly come into possession of information that could turn the tide of the Children’s league and perhaps the fate of all those affected by IAAN. Ruby will find herself facing her past, testing her loyalty and harnessing the ‘monster’ within.  The truth and the secret to the salvation of all the IAAN children is out there and it means dangerous times, impossible choices and heartbreaking moments are ahead not just for Ruby but for the ones she loves as well. Will Ruby let her loyalties trump her promise and just who can she and should she trust? The world is no longer black and white, in fact its full of colour, just how will Ruby break free of the deceptively cunning web of lies she is entangled in and how much of herself can she give in order to get everything she wants. It's darks days ahead for Ruby, just where she goes from here not even Ruby knows.

Sequels are always difficult territory especially when the first was so brilliant, as was the case with The darkest minds, but Never Fade doesn’t just match the brilliance of its predecessor it exceeds it in the most dramatic fashion. This book is no TDM 2.0, it is an outstanding novel in its own right; the plot is more action packed and fast paced, the characters are more complex and the atmosphere is darker and more sinister. In Never Fade gone is the scared little girl of the Darkest minds and welcomed in is the the new confident, tough and don’t mess with her Ruby who isn’t afraid to use her abilities. The girl has become a young woman intent on making a difference to the world rather than withdraw from it. While at times I didn’t like Ruby because of this and her self-deprecation, I can understand that it is all a part of growing up and this is really what Ruby is doing; finally growing up.  Liam also returns as a former shadow of himself, still heartbreakingly sweet yet in Never Fade we get to witness the nastier and darker side to his personality. I couldn’t help but mourn for the innocent girl and boy of The darkest minds. Spoiler alert the Ruby and Liam reunion is heartbreaking, gone is the innocence and freedom of their early relationship now betrayal and heartache dominate. That being said Bracken should be applauded for not letting the characters become static, far too often authors become fearful of maturing or changing the characters the readers have grown so attached to but Bracken has no such qualms and it adds to the authenticity of the characters and the overall story. New characters such as Vida are a brilliant addition to the ensemble; in contrast to Ruby Vida is a takes no prisoner kind of girl yet similarly fiercely protective of those she loves; it wonderful to watch the interaction between two girls who on the surface are vastly different yet at their very core similar. The future world Bracken delivers is also further constructed in this tale, as a reader we learn more about the Children’s League, IAAN, the government and Bracken alludes to even more being revealed.

Never Fade is  a classic YA story; it’s about coming of age, finding your identity and falling in love, yet unique in terms of the level of violence, harsh conditions and depth of character Bracken exhibits. Furthermore as a writer Bracken demonstrates the cleverness, humour and forethought to pen an intelligent tale, as well as three dimensional characters with hearts and souls that the reader cannot help but care about. Never Fade is a book of shades; Bracken explores typical themes such as right vs. wrong, motivation, choices and how behaviour is dictated by circumstance. These characters face everyday troubles in extreme circumstances and it is their struggle to make the tough call that endears them to the reader. As with its predecessor this story is full of betrayal in all forms, which forces the reader to join the character in questioning everything, from each characters motivations and choices. Additionally I loved how Bracken put on display the full spectrum of humanity, from the selfless acts of kindness to horrendous acts born out of fear and desperation. It’s a reminder that humans are their own worst enemy and yet each others best friend. The ending is as painfully fraught and cliff-hangery as the first, so sorry you may need the tissues again. This story has some of the best twist imaginable, the appearance of Lee’s brother in particular was fantastic and I loved the contradictory interaction between the pair; as with most siblings there seems to be a fine line between love and hate. I love a book with unpredictable characters and even more unpredictable storylines and Never Fadeis one of those. This is YA fiction at its finest, its clever, imaginative, dramatic and intense read. Read, Read, Read….PLEASE J, you won’t be disappointed.

Courtney :)

Vic Premier’s Literary Awards

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Here's a great ready-made summer reading list, comprising the shortlisted titles across five categories – Fiction, Non-Fiction, Writing for Young Adults, Drama and Poetry - in contention for the big prize, which will be announced on 28 January, 2014. 

The Unpublished Manuscript Award will be announced during the 2014 Emerging Writers’ Festival, while the biennial Award for Indigenous Writing will be awarded in September 2014 to coincide with Indigenous Literacy Day. 

The nominees for the Prize for Fiction are:

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
Coal Creek by Alex Miller
The Swan Book by Alexis Wright
Eyrie by Tim Winton
Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser

Members of the public can also cast a vote for the People’s Choice Award - start reading/start voting! click here.

Inky Award Winners

Quicksand -

The Inky Awards have been announced for 2013.
The Inky Awards are for the best teen literature, voted for online by the readers of http://www.insideadog.com.au/,  and named after the site's wonder-dog, Inky
There are two awards: the Gold Inky for an Australian book, and the Silver Inky for an international book.
2013 Gold Inky AwardMy Life is An Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg
 2013 Silver Inky AwardThe Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Scarlet Stiletto Awards

Reading Rewards - reviews -

In a ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’ inspired evening at the Thornbury Theatre last Friday night, 22 November, The Sisters in Crime 20th Scarlet Stiletto Awards were presented by the star of the TV show, Essie Davis.

Winner of the Harper Collins First Prize ($1500) was Candice Graham for The Bunyip’s Last Wish.  The Folio Society 2nd prize went to Vicky Daddo for Mary’s Colours; while The Sun Bookshop 3rd Prize went to Kylie Fox for A Lovely Face.  

There were many other awards presented on the night – click here for all the details.

Don’t forget the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries costume exhibition closes this Sunday at Ripponlea.

New Guinea Moon

Quicksand -

'New Guinea Moon' is the latest novel by Australian author, Kate Constable.
Kate grew up in Papua New Guinea and the observations she makes in this novel give the reader a brilliant insight into a country on the brink of independence, in 1975.
From the opening pages where teenage Julie arrives in Port Moresby to stay with the father she has never really known, the reader is immersed in a different world - a strange environment, intense humidity and a world where 'expats' (expatriates) band together and form a tightly knit group.
This largely white expat group consists of business people, those who wish to bring religion to the country, and those seeking to improve the lives of the indigenous people through health and education.
The often complex dillemmas that arise are conveyed to the reader. For instance, Julie asks her missionary neighbour if imposing Christianity on New Guinean people is leading to the annihilation of their culture. Her neighbour responds by saying that before they arrived tribal fighting, cannibalism and wife-beating were commonplace events.
There are two young men in Julie's life - she and Ryan drift into a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship though she is intrigued by another young man called Simon who is classed as 'mixed race' and whose father owns a coffee plantation.
Initially Julie allows herself to be led to some extent, though she then begins to make her own decisions and form her own opinions.
There is a tragedy in this story and there is also a mystery, which brings Julie's growing decision making to the fore.
I thoroughly enjoyed 'New Guinea Moon' and recommend this novel to teen readers.


Touring in the 1930s.

Links to our Past - history -

I have just been given this fabulous set of Shell maps. Judging by the wonderful Art Deco style cover I presume that they are from the 1930s. 

The maps also include parts of the Motor Car Act. Click on the image to enlarge it. My favourite part of this Act covers the Wind Screen Wiper. It says that Every vehicle fitted with a wind screen must have attached thereto an efficient wiper. The Act also warns us not to use a Public Highway for racing or  a trial speed and also not to sound the horn when passing Churches. And another interesting part of the Act says The law now requires drivers to signal when about to stop, turn right or when the driver requires other vehicles to pass him on his right.

However, because this is a blog about the history of the Casey Cardinia, then you may be interested in this map. If we travel along the Princes Highway from Dandenong, we get to Narre Warren. Narre Warren North is described as 'Old Narre Warren', which is what it was, I just haven't seen it described like that on a map.  Modern day Narre Warren was established when the railway station opened in 1882. If we head up to the hills, going east from Belgrave, the town of  Aura is of interest. Menzies Creek was known as Aura from 1917-1923. 
Further east we have Gembrook North and Gembrook West, names no longer in use. Also of interest, right down the bottom we have Sherwood Junction, also a name no longer used, on the corner of the South Gippsland Highway and Tooradin-Baxter Road and further east they still use the name Yallock, even though with the opening of the Bayles station in 1922, the town and the name began to fall into decline.

A-Z Mysteries: The Kidnapped King by Ron Roy

Book Swamp -

Type of story: Mystery

Tell us about it: Dink finds out that he has a prince staying at his house because his parents are kidnapped. The next morning when he wakes up he finds that the person who is staying at his house, Sammi is also kidnapped. Will Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose be able to find Sammi before it's to late?

How good was it? Fantastic

Review by Lisa, age 10


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