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Accounts presented for payment July 16, 1974 - City of Berwick

Links to our Past - history -

 Step back in time to July 1974 and see how much things cost! This is a list of Accounts presented for payment at a City of Berwick Council meeting held July 16, 1974.

As you might expect wages were the largest expense -$69, 177.52. (Cheque number 1598) A puncture repair at Beaurepaire Tyre Service was $3.30 (cheque 1615)   I paid $30.00  about  a month ago for the same thing. Cr Barry Simon's travel expenses were a very modest $9.54 (cheque 1636)

There was obviously a page 4 of these account, which I don't have so I can't tell you the total of the  expenses

Precious Things

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Precious Things by Kelly Doust

Normandy, France, 1891: a young woman painstakingly sews an intricate beaded collar to her wedding dress, the night before her marriage to someone she barely knows. Yet Aimee longs for so much more.

Shanghai, 1926: dancing sensation and wild child Zephyr spies what looks like a beaded headpiece lying carelessly discarded on a ballroom floor. She takes it with her to Malaya where she sets her sights on a prize so out of reach that, in striving for it, she will jeopardise everything she holds dear.

PRECIOUS THINGS tells the story of a collar - a wonderful, glittering beaded piece - and its journey through the decades. It's also the story of Maggie, an auctioneer living in modern-day London, who comes across the crumpled, neglected collar in a box of old junk, and sets out on an unexpected mission to discover more about its secret and elusive past. 

Maggie has a journey of her own too. Juggling a demanding job, a clingy young child and a rebellious stepdaughter, and with her once-solid marriage foundering under the pressure of a busy life, Maggie has to find out the hard way that you can't always get what you want...but sometimes, you're lucky enough to get precisely what you need.

This book took me a bit by surprise - it turned out to be more engaging than first thought. Some of these "let's go back in time" storylines can be quite clumsy and/or boring, but this one is handled well with unique characters and stories.  There is also a subplot of Maggie's family and though that's got nothing to do with beaded piece, it does round out the character and why she works with beautiful old things that encompass a family history.

I borrowed this title on e-audiobook and it is perfectly narrated by Mel Hudson, but we have it in e-book and print formats.  Book Discussion Groups should love this one!

~ Deb

Just as an aside, this is a debut novel by Australian Kelly Doust, the bestselling author of a number of books on craft and fashion, including Minxy Vintage and A Life in Frocks. She's written for Vogue and Sunday Life magazine, and worked in the UK and Hong Kong. She now lives in Sydney.

Hidden bodies

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Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

From back cover: For Joe Goldberg, the line between love and murder, desire and obsession, is a narrow one… Joe came to Los Angeles to start over, to forget what happened in New York. But in a darkened room in Soho House everything suddenly changed. She is like no one he has ever met. But she doesn’t know about Joe’s past and never can. The problem is, hidden bodies don’t always stay that way.

This is the sequel to You by Caroline Kepnes. It follows the same dark, creepy, scary and sinister plot as her highly successful debut novel.

Its point of difference to other psychological thrillers is that it is told from the perspective of the murderer, kidnapper and stalker, Joe Goldberg. The reader hears how he justifies his actions with no remorse. So many dead bodies and so cleverly masterminded in order to hide his crimes.

This book is not for the faint-hearted, and indeed a very chilling read. It has an ending that will make you wonder, “what next?” It definitely lent itself to another book in this Joe Goldberg tale where further restitution and revenge could be revealed.

Make sure you read You first, before reading this sequel.


The Killings at Badger's Drift

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The Killings at Badger's Drift by Caroline Graham

Badger's Drift - a tranquil English village, home to Miss Emily Simpson, a kindly, well-liked spinster. But a gentle stroll in the woods near her home one day brings an abrupt end to her peaceful existence, for Miss Simpson sees something among the trees that she was never meant to see, and someone makes sure she will never reveal what it was.  To the village doctor, Miss Simpson's death look natural enough, but her old friend Miss Lucy Bellringer is unconvinced and eventually drags the unwilling Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby into the case.

For a fan of the excellent TV series starring John Nettlefold from the very beginning, this was typical of the 'book to screen' dilemma we all face from time to time. Yes, it followed the usual plot - three murders thank you very much before a nice cup of tea. Despite being very well narrated by Hugh Ross, Barnaby the character was fine but his voice and intonation was all wrong; Sergeant Troy was nowhere near as likeable and nothing at all like the on-screen Troy; and daughter Cully seems to have undergone a complete personality transplant!  All rather disquieting.  As is the storyline. Very much not in good taste, leaving one with a rather grubby sensation and dismay/disappointment with the ending. Maybe that's why I can't recall ever seeing this particular tale on TV. I know others are much better!

~ Deb

Love at first flight

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Love at first flight by Tess Woods.

"What if you met the love of your life and he wasn't your husband? Mel is living the dream. She's a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, her picture-perfect life unravels. Seated on the plane she meets Matt, and for the first time ever she falls in love. What begins as a flirty conversation quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with consequences that neither Mel nor Matt seems capable of facing. As the fallout touches friends and family, Mel's dream romance turns into a nightmare. She learns that there are some wounds that never heal and some scars that you wouldn't do without. LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head."

Tess Woods is a Perth based physiotherapist and this is her first novel.

Wow, what a great book this is, a perfect example of "Life Lit". One can relate so much to this storyline between Mel and Matt and shows how easy one glance can lead to love, lust and obsession. The writing in this book is spot-on and its hard to believe it is Tess's first novel.

The story is set in both Melbourne and Perth and I love how you can visualise the streets and locations depicted within.

I enjoyed it so much that I broke my golden rule of not re-reading books. I read it as an e-book in January this year and it has only just been released as a paperback, so I decided to read it again!

~ Janine

Missing Pieces

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Missing Piecesby Heather Gudenkauf.

From the back cover: Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalised in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded. Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago – barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia’s accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack’s past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for. 

This was a thrilling and intriguing tale. Sarah and Jack Quinlan return to Penny Gate to support a family member after an accident. They have been married twenty years. But Sarah is soon to discover many secrets about her husband and his family that he has kept hidden their whole married life! What unfolds turns from a family drama into a murder investigation. Lots of family members are questioning allegiances and trust is at times lost.

Heather Gudenkauf has succeeded in providing a family drama with murderous consequences. A real page-turner! Or if you don’t mind an audio book, this was a great one to listen to in the car. It was performed by Christina Traister who masterly narrated this enthralling tale. Missing Pieces is also available in large print format. ~Narelle

Cr Jan Bateman

Links to our Past - history -

Jan Bateman, who was the first female Mayor for the City of Berwick passed away on August 26, 2016 at the age of 81. Mrs Bateman  was a Shire of Berwick Councillor from 1971 until 1973 and then recontested in the first City of Berwick Election held in 1973 and won so she was an inaugural City of Berwick Councillor. She was Mayor 1980/81  - as we said, the  first female Mayor for the City of Berwick. She  resigned from the Council in 1984. Mrs Bateman was re-elected to Council in 1992 and stood down when the Council amalgamations took place in 1994. She then took up the role of one of the Commissioners for the newly created City of Maroondah and served as a Commissioner from January 1995 until March 1997. Mrs Bateman was awarded an OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) in recognition of her service to the community in June 1985.

This photograph was taken after the first meeting of the City of Berwick, on October 1 1973 at the Berwick Inn. The newly elected Mayor, Barry Simon, is at the front, behind the bar. Left to right are David Lee, Jack Thomas, Keith Wishart, Sid Pargeter, Jan Bateman, Jim Alexander, Joan Phillips, Ron Irwin, George Chudleigh, John Byron and Bill Hudson. 
Janice Gwendoline Bateman (nee Harrop) and her husband John had moved to Doveton in 1957, according to  a report in a local paper when she was elected Mayor in 1980.  Mrs Bateman was the last of  a trio of pioneering female Councillors who all had the distinction of being the first female Mayor for local Councils. Mrs Jeune Matthews, who passed away in 2012, was the first female Shire President (they are now called Mayors) for the Shire of Pakenham in 1979 and Mrs Judy Elso, who passed away in December 2015 was the first female Shire President of the Shire of Cranbourne in 1988. It's hard to believe now, given that Local Government commenced in this area with the formation of the Cranbourne Road Board in 1860 and the Berwick Road Board in 1862, the precursors of Shires of Cranbourne and Berwick, both of which were established in 1868, that it actually took around 120 years for a female to be given the top job.

Cr Bateman was interviewed in 1994 about the early days of the City of Berwick, you can listen to this here.

 Cr Bateman, the photo isn't dated, but presumably taken during her Mayoral year in 1980.
Interestingly, 1980, the year after Cr Jeune Matthews' stint as Shire President, Jan Bateman was Mayor of Berwick and Cr Lenore Gullquist was Shire President of Pakenham, so Pakenham Shire had the distinction of having two females in the top job in a row. Also of note, while we are talking about pioneering women in local government, the Shire of Berwick had a female Shire Secretary from 1951 until 1966, Miss Beatrice (Trixie) Thomas. This was a rare position for a woman to hold. Miss Thomas was the daughter of Albert Thomas, who founded  the Pakenham Gazette in 1909.

Carter Brothers of Bunyip

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

The Age August 4, 1915http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154996454
In this post, in our series of Brother who enlisted, we are looking at the Carter Brothers of Bunyip. You can read about the Cullen Brothers of Cockatoo here and the Maher Brothers of Pakenham, here.
William, Alfred and Frederick were the sons of William and Annie Carter (nee Saunders)  of Maidstone House in Bunyip. The Brothers came from Maidstone in  Kent in England, hence the name of their property in Bunyip. William had already died when the brothers enlisted as their next of kin was their mother. Annie died in 1924 aged 61 in Carlton. I believe there were at least two other children, George who died in 1962 aged 60 and the grandly named Victoria Georgina Augusta who was only 22 when she died in 1919 in South Melbourne.

Bunyip Free Press September 9 1915http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129630845

Carter, Alfred Nathaniel (SN 2467)  Alfred enlisted on July 20 1915 at the age of 26. He was Driver. Alfred sustained  a Gun Shot  Wound to his right arm, which made him permanently unfit for service and thus he Returned to Australia  December 20, 1917 and was Discharged in July 1918. Alfred died on May 14, 1921 at the age of 32 and is buried in the Bunyip Cemetery.

Carter, Frederick Arthur (SN 1397)  Frederick, who was a baker,  enlisted at the age of 20 on July 28 1915. He did his training, was sent overseas to Egypt  and Returned to Australia on May 21, 1916 for discharge due to 'defective vision in right eye'  In the 1919 Electoral Roll, Frederick is living in Carlton, but not sure of what happened to him after that.

Carter, William (SN 2266) William enlisted on July 17 1915  - he was a 28 year old Labourer. William Died of Wounds received while fighting in France on August 6, 1916. William is listed on the Bunyip War Memorial.

Six Under Eight

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Six Under Eight by Madeleine West

The mother of all parenting diaries. You've read parenting stories before but most parents are only managing a small brood; with six children, all under eight years old, actor Madeleine West (Neighbours, Satisfaction, Underbelly) can justifiably lay claim to having seen it all. In this hilarious and moving book, Madeleine takes us through a year of her life as a mother and shows us that it is possible to have a large family and keep your sanity, wisdom and sense of humour intact.

Madeleine West is a well known Australian actress who's partner is restauranteur and chef extrordinaire Shannon Bennett. This memoir chronicles a year in her hectic life, with 4 kids, then finding she is pregnant with twins.

'My son shoved an unpopped popcorn up his nose . . . what do I do?'
'My daughter was drinking from the dog's bowl with a curly straw . . . is that a problem?'
'There is something in my baby's nappy resembling a creature from the Alien franchise . . . should I be concerned?'

Ahhhh, Parenthood. So much joy, so many stains. So many rewards, so many unfinished lattes. So many questions, so many people pretending they have the answers. Madeleine West is an actor, a writer and sometimes a comedian, but most importantly, she is a mother, and even though she has a perfectly functional television, she has six of the crazed critters to prove it. Madeleine is no expert, but if she hasn't seen it, wiped it up, medicated it, rushed to the emergency ward with it, raised bail for it, or given birth to it, it isn't worth knowing. In this hilarious, moving, brutally honest tale, Madeleine takes you through the ups and downs of the rollercoaster called Parenthood.  You will laugh, you may cry, and you might just learn something along the way.

I found this to be quite a laugh out loud book at times that all mums out there will be able to relate to. I take my hat off to her, as The Chef (her nickname for Shannon Bennett) seems to be generally absent around 200 out of 365 days per year, and when he is home is busy in his study checking emails. She does offer some parenting advice which is interspersed throughout the book and based on her experience as mum of six under eight. A most enjoyable read!

~ Janine

Calendar Girl: Volume One

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Calendar Girl: Volume One by Audrey Carlan

Mia Saunders needs money. A lot of money. She has one year to pay off the loan shark who has threatened her father’s life and is coming after his unpaid gambling debts. One million dollars to be exact. 

Her mission is simple - serve as a high-priced escort for her aunt’s Los Angeles-based company and pay monthly against the debt. Spend a month with a rich man whom she doesn’t have to sleep with if she doesn’t want to? Easy money. 

Unlucky in love with a spirit that never gives up, this curvy motorcycle-riding vixen plans to get in, make her money, and get out. Part of that goal is keeping her heart locked up tight and her eye on the prize. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to go.

I grabbed Calendar Girl thinking it was going to be an easy read, with little substance and lightweight shallow characters. I was wrong.  The characters are exceptionally attractive, the men incredibly rich, and the main character Mia is anything but shallow. 

Exploring issues such as self-worth, responsibility, family duty, sexual orientation and more, Calendar Girl is a surprisingly deep book that had me welling up with tears a time or two.  I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to get my hands on volumes two, three and four. Each installment in the Calendar Girl series will feature Mia, told from her perspective, as she continues her journey as an escort to twelve clients in twelve different locations.

~ Leanne

Three Sisters, Three Queens

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Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory

United in sisterhood by birth and marriage, Katherine of Aragon, Queen of England, Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots, and Mary Tudor, Queen of France immediately recognize each other as both allies and rivals in the treacherous world of court and national politics. Their bonds extend beyond natural and expeditious loyalties, as romance, scandal, war, and religion inextricably unite these three for better or for worse.

Back in 1501 – Katherine of Aragon is brought to the Tudor court as a young bride. Margaret, a Tudor princess with the pride of a king, immediately measures her up. With one look, each girl knows the other for a rival, an ally and a pawn. Caught in the crossfire is Mary, Margaret’s youngest sister, who grows to love Katherine as her own blood. They will become the queens of England, Scotland and France, who, united by family loyalties and affections, find themselves set against each other. As sisters, they share an everlasting bond. As queens, they break each other’s hearts.

Why we love it: Philippa Gregory encapsulates the strength, beauty and determination behind the women in the Tudor Court in a mesmerising historical fiction that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster.

~ from The Team at Better Reading

Timbarra Housing Estate, Berwick

Links to our Past - history -

The Timbarra Housing Estate was established in November 1989. It was an Urban Land Authority development. The brochure (cover reproduced left) said that the chief objective , in planning this large residential sub-division, is to provide a mix of housing styles and prices on lots of varying size. In this way we will be able to make housing more affordable to more people who have  a variety of lifestyle requirements....It is clear that the traditional three bedroom house on a quarter acre block of land is no longer relevant to a significant proportion of households, many of which are just one or two people....A great deal of planning has gone into ensuring that Timbarra offers all the facilities a growing community will need. A complete range of community facilities, meeting places, walkways, parks and school sites will be provided...

One of these facilities, the Timbarra Community Centre opened July 10, 1993.

Timbarra covered an area of 200 hectares of gently undulating pasture, scattered with shelter belts of trees was the brochure's bucolic description of the land.  An estimated 300 homes will be under construction early in 1990 and by 1994 it was estimated that there would be around 3,000 houses.

Location of Timbarra from the 1989 sales brochure.
We have a brochure (see below) from the Urban Land Authority advertising a ballot to buy land in the Timbarra Estate - The Gateway. The ballot took place May 9, 1992. The brochure includes a number of street plans (or Housing Siting Policy Plans) for Gumnut Court, Magdalene Place, Sunnyside Drive,Coowarra Way, Emma Court, Leonard Avenue, Adelaide Court, Oscar Court, Theodore Terrace and some of The Gateway, so if you live in any of these streets then it is likely that your block of land was purchased on May 9, 1992. You can see one of these plans, below.

The Gateway Ballot May 9, 1992 brochure. Timbarra Housing Estate  was originally in Narre Warren, until a boundary change 'moved' it into Berwick, see more about this, below.The Gateway Lot Plan from the May 9, 1992 brochure

The is the House Siting Policy Plan for Sunnyside Drive and Magdalena Place from the May 9, 1992 brochure
The land was originally farm land owned partially by the Sweeney Family. The Sweeney Brothers, John and Daniel, arrived in Narre Warren around 1854. They had extensive land holdings in Narre Warren on both sides of the Princes Highway including where the Timbarra Estate is now. Daniel remained a bachelor and John married Alice Reedy and they had ten children.  The Sweeney’s have played a major role in the development of Narre Warren. Descendants of John and Alice donated land for the old Narre Warren Oval and for Our Ladies Help of Christians Catholic Church and Don Bosco School. Pat Sweeney sold the land where Timbarra is partially located  to the Housing Commission of Victoria in 1971, but it was later developed by the Urban Land Authority as a private estate not a housing commission estate.

Timbarra is an Aboriginal word meaning Grass Tree, the botanical name of which is Xanthorrhoea Australia. 

As you can see on the 1992 brochure, the Timbarra Estate was originally part of Narre Warren but  is now part of Berwick. The Melway Street Directory Edition 21, 1991 to 1992 has the Timbarra Estate in Narre Warren, with the boundary of Berwick and Narre Warren being Hessel Road. The Melway Street Directory Edition 23, 1995 has Timbarra Estate in Berwick, as the boundary has changed to Narre Warren North Road.  An article in the Berwick City News of January 13, 1994 says that the Office of Place Names has officially assigned boundaries to 10 suburbs in the City of Berwick and the Narre Warrren/Berwick boundary is listed as Hessel Road.

So we can establish that in December 1993 the boundary of Berwick/Narre Warren was Hessel Road and that sometime in 1995 it had changed to Narre Warren North Road.  Thus the Timbarra Estate had ‘moved’ from being in Narre Warren to being in Berwick sometime in 1994 or 1995 but I cannot be more specific than that.

Sleeper's Castle

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Sleeper's Castle by Barbara Erskine.

Hay-On-Wye, 1400 - War is brewing in the Welsh borders, Catrin is on the brink of womanhood and falling in love for the first time. Her father is a soothsayer, playing a dangerous game playing on the mixed loyalties and furious rivalries between welsh princes and English lords. For two hundred years, the Welsh people have lain under the English yoke, dreaming of independence. And finally it looks as though the charismatic Owain Glyndwr may be the man legend tralks of. 

In the walls of Sleeper's Castle, Catrin finds herself caught in the middle of a doomed war as she is called upon to foretell Wales's destiny...And what she sees, is blood and war coming closer...

Hay, 2015. Miranda has moved to Sleeper's Castle to escape and grieve. Slowly she feels herself coming to life in the solitude of the mountains. But every time she closes her eyes her dreams become more vivid. And she makes a connection with a young girl, who's screaming, who's reaching out...who only Miranda can help. Is she losing herself to time?

Sleeper's Castle sees Barbara Erskine on top form. The story is set in the present and in medieval Wales. At the start the two periods are easily differentiated, but as Andy, the main character, becomes more and more embroiled with the past, so too the reader finds it more and more difficult to distinguish between the two periods. This device heightens the tension and ensures that the reader remains involved. 

The characters are fully believable and engage one's interest from the start. Great care has been taken to be historically correct, even when fictionalising event of "real" people, giving the story a depth not always found in historical fiction. This tension lasts until the very end, with various unforeseen twists, and the conclusion is satisfying, if not wholly expected. All in all, an excellent read.

from readers David & Hillary

Sisters and Lies

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Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington
Narrated by Caroline Lennon and Marcella Riordan

One hot August night, Rachel Darcy gets the call everyone fears. It's the police. Her younger sister Evie's had a car crash, she's in a coma. Can Rachel fly to London right away? 

With Evie injured and comatose, Rachel is left to pick up the pieces of her sister's life. But it's hard fitting them together, especially when she really doesn't like what she sees. Why was Evie driving when she doesn't even own a licence? Who is the man living in her flat and claiming Evie is his girlfriend? How come she has never heard of him? The more mysteries Rachel uncovers the more she starts asking herself how well she ever really knew her sister. And then she begins to wonder if the crash was really the accident everybody says it is. 

Back in hospital, Evie, trapped inside an unresponsive body, is desperately trying to wake up. Because she's got an urgent message for Rachel - a warning which could just save both their lives.

Although overly long, this was a good book to listen to – the Irish accents get me in every time!  I don’t know how true it is that someone in a total coma can will themselves into moving, or force themselves to remember what happened prior to whatever put them in a coma in the first place; “it’s a bit of a stretch” I found myself thinking, but who knows? Dubbed a suspense thriller, Sisters and Lies is an interesting story with suspense, yes, but the thriller bit never really came to the fore.  

~ Deb. 

Enter Helen

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Enter Helen: the invention of Helen Gurley Brown and the rise of the modern single woman by Brooke Hauser

In 1965, Helen Gurley Brown-best known for her groundbreaking 1962 manifesto Sex and the Single Girl, took over the ailing Cosmopolitan magazine. Under her stewardship, it became one of the most bankable brands on the planet, with 64 editions published in 34 languages and distributed in more than 100 countries, and one of the most revolutionary. At a time when women's magazines were instructing housewives on how to make the perfect casserole, Brown reimagined Cosmo for the single girl next door: a hard-working, sex-loving woman, who didn't need to be married with children to be happy.

Helen wrote for, and about, those thousands of single American girls (her “Cosmo girls") who worked, balanced their finances, worried about landing a future husband, and HAD SEX. Such an approach was not just revolutionary but marked a pivotal change in the way women in the US thought about themselves and were viewed by the rest of society.  Without Helen Gurley Brown, there would be no Sex and the City.

Helen was tough but used her femininity to get what she wanted, shrewd but often kind-hearted, an extremely good businesswoman but astonishingly insecure – in other words she was an amazing mix of contradictions and surprises. She broke barriers and glass ceilings, but was also vilified by the second wave feminists who viewed her as a slave to the reigning patriarchy. 

Her story is intriguing and riveting and, like Helen herself, never ever boring.

~ Teresa

The Memory Stones

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The Memory Stones by Caroline Brothers

Buenos Aires. 1976. In the heat of summer, the Ferrero family escapes to the lush expanse of Tigre. Osvaldo, a distinguished doctor, and his wife Yolanda, gather with their daughters, sensible Julieta who lives in Miami, and wilful Graciela - nineteen, and madly in love with her fiance, Jose. Those days will be the last the family ever spends together.

On their return to Buenos Aires, the Argentine military stages a coup. Friends and colleagues disappear overnight, and Osvaldo is forced to flee to Europe. When Jose is abducted, Graciela goes into hiding, then vanishes in turn. Osvaldo can only witness the disintegration of his family from afar, while Yolanda fights on the ground for some trace of their beloved daughter. Soon she realises they may be fighting for an unknown grandchild as well.

Why we love it: 
Caroline Brothers’ second novel, The Memory Stones, is a sublimely told and heartbreaking story. While devastating in its depiction of the depths to which humanity can sink, its evocative language and splendid characters make it a pleasure to read.

~ from The Team at Better Reading

Cold Grave

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Cold Grave by Kathryn Fox 

It feels like the safest place on earth. A family-friendly, floating palace. But, as Anya Crichton soon discovers, cruise ships aren't all that they seem...

Statistics tell us that a woman is twice as likely to be sexually assaulted on a cruise ship than on dry land. Customers aren't screened, so the ships are a haven for sex offenders and paedophiles. With no policing, and floating in international waters, sexual assaults and passengers 'disappearing' are uncommonly frequent. So when a teenage girl is discovered, dead on the deck of the ship that she is holidaying on, Anya feels compelled to get involved. 

There's no apparent cause of death, but Anya's forensics expertise uncovers more than the ship's doctors can, or want to. With the killer still on board, and subsequently a crew-member found shot, it becomes clear that the safe haven of the cruise-ship is actually anything but. And, as Anya comes under increasing pressure to abandon her investigations, will she continue? Or do whatever it takes to keep her own family safe?

This is book 6 in the Dr Anya Crichton series. I've read quite a few in this series now, totally out of order of course, but that's what happens more often than not.  Some of these forensic pathology novels are absorbing, and a few are really annoying.  Then you get one like this that leaves you thinking why did I bother.  

There was a vested interest in the lead character and her personal life, but this sub-plot is totally overtaken by the author's soapbox stance on issues such as violence against females, drugs and date rape, the dangers of social media, environmental issues like the illegal dumping of rubbish and sewage at sea, working conditions on cruise ships and even death and suicide on the ocean.  I finished the book, well narrated as always by Jennifer Vilutec, but am not in a hurry to continue on with the Doctor.  We have this series in print and all electronic formats. 

~ Deb

It Ends With Us

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It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Lily Bloom had a difficult upbringing; an only, lonely child witnessing her parents’ abusive relationship, she finds solace in growing things, the coincidence of her name not escaping her, and in the intimate cry-for-help journals that take the form of personal letters to her heroine Ellen DeGeneres. 

When Lily finds an older boy from her school, Atlas Corrigan, squatting in a nearby empty house, she is moved to pity but that soon turns into something more and Atlas becomes an unforgettable force in her life.

Years later, Lily has matured into an independent woman who fulfills her dream of moving to Boston and starting her own business. As if life couldn’t get any better, she meets a handsome neurosurgeon, Ryle, and falls hard for him. Only thing is, there are issues from his past, he’s absolutely committed to his career, and he’s got a firm no-dating rule. The attraction turns out to be too much for him though and that rule will soon be broken. 

Just as life seems to be too good to be true, Ryle and Lily are forced to confront the skeletons in Ryle’s cupboard that continue to haunt him. At the same time, the mysterious Atlas comes back into Lily's life and things start to get really complicated so that she must make some agonising decisions.

Why we love it: 
Bestselling Young Adult author Colleen Hoover’s has turned her skilled hand to adult fiction with a stunning debut – It Ends With Us is confronting, poignant, and deeply moving.

~ from the Team at Better Reading

Secret Recipe for Second Chances

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The Secret Recipe for Second Chances by J.D. Barrett

From the cover:  Lucy Muir is leaving her husband.  It’s complicated. They’re joint owners and chefs at one of the best restaurants in town, so making a clean break is tough.  But, let’s face it, a woman can only take so much cheating, recipe stealing and lack of good grace.

Despondently driving around the back streets of Woolloomooloo, Lucy happens upon an old, empty terrace that was once the city’s hottest restaurant: Fortune. One minute she’s peering through grimy windows into an abandoned space, the next she’s planning a pop-up bistro.

When Lucy fires up Fortune’s old kitchen she discovers a little red recipe book that belonged to the former chef, the infamous Frankie Summers.  As she cries over the ingredients for Frankie’s French Onion Soup, she imagines what Fortune was like in its heyday.  It’s strange, Lucy can sense Frankie beside her; almost see him there …

This fiery chef, who lived with a passion for food and women in almost equal measure, just might help Lucy cook herself up a better life.  But is she brave enough to believe?

That was a long blurb so I’ll keep it brief.  I LOVED this book! Always a sucker for a good ghost story, and of course, cooking, this debut novel is a sweet, funny, delightful tale of crime, love and recipes.  It has some snappy repartee, a great sub-plot, some quirky characters, and bonus, is set in Australia and written by an Australian! It’s the crème de la crème of ROMCOMs and would make a wonderful movie!

~ Deb

Watching Edie

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Watching Edie by Camilla Way

Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then - but it didn't take long for her to learn that things don't always turn out the way you want them to. 

Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there's no one to turn to ... But someone's been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be. 

It's no coincidence that Heather shows up on Edie's doorstep, just when Edie needs her the most. So much has passed between them - so much envy, longing, and betrayal. And Edie's about to learn a new lesson: those who have hurt us deeply, or who we have hurt, never let us go, not entirely.

Heather was an overweight, friendless 16-year-old, an academic achiever with strict parents who had moved to the good side of a rather grim English town. Heather struggled to fit in, so when new arrival Edie, one of the cool girls and a budding artist, is happy to be her friend she’s surprised and becomes besotted with her.

But Edie, who lives with her sick, disinterested mother and hasn’t seen her father for years, has fallen for bad boy Connor. It’s not long before Edie is in all kinds of trouble, with drugs, alcohol and her increasingly abusive relationship with Connor. Heather tries to help Edie by hatching an escape plan but this only leads to a terrible event that destroys their lives.  A chilling story of two friends with a shared and shameful past that has each of them in their clutches and won’t let go.

Why we love it: 
Watching Edie is a gripping psychological thriller about friendship, jealousy, obsession, and lies that hooked us from the start.

~ from The Team at Better Reading


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