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The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

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I am the type that prefers to read a book before watching the movie adaptation and will go so far as to check if a movie is based upon a book if the trailer looks interesting. The first instalment of The Hobbit film adaptation is due out in December and before you see the movie, I would recommend reading the book which in some ways is a prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Hobbit tells the tale of the unadventurous hobbit Bilbo Baggins. One dark night he opens his door to the wizard Galdalf who invites Bilbo to accompany thirteen dwarves on their mission to recover treasure and land stolen from their ancestors, which is guarded by the dragon Smaug the Magnificent. He’s swept away from his safe hobbit hole at Bag End and off to Mirkwood and beyond to the Misty Mountains where he faces trolls, dragons, mysterious elves, and other incredible creatures. Read Bilbo’s tale before the Peter Jackson movie is released this December!

Rachel @ Narre Warren Library

Here's a clip for everyone who loves The Hobbit and Psy's Gangnam Stylemodestbranding=1


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'Incarceron' by Catherine Fisher is an amazing story about two people from very different worlds.  
Finn was born as an inmate in the complex prison Incarceron; Claudia on the other hand lives on the Outside, a future version of our world where technology reigns and protocols have been established.
Catherine Fisher took me on my own personal adventure Inside, and while at times it was infuriating with the swapping between characters for each chapter, I was completely engrossed for the entire, thrilling ride!
This was like nothing I have ever read before, it held me right until the end of the second book, 'Sapphique' which is absolutely just as spell-binding as the first.
Something so thrilling and complex, exciting and inventive, keeping me guessing until the very end... for an avid reader, I have not found anything quite like it before.
You might like this if you also like....: Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder, Relic Master by Catherine Fisher 
Thanks to Laura May for this review.
We are happy to receive reviews from library users. Just submit them through our teen reviews.

History Week - October 21 to 28, 2012

Links to our Past - history -

Celebrate History Week, October 21 to 28  2012, with these local events.   www.historyweek.org.au
Sunday, October 21
Fishermans Cottage Museum Open Day.
Visit the 1873 Fishermans Cottage Museum, fitted out with period furnishings, managed by the Cranbourne Shire Historical Society. There is also a collection of items relating to the history of Cranbourne and Tooradin in the old school room.
Free entry, refreshments available.  Foreshore Road, Tooradin, 10.00am to 4.00pm.
More information: Polly Freeman 5998 3454.

Wednesday, October 24
Berwick Mechanics’ Institute Open Day.
The Berwick Mechanics’ Institute has provided a Library service in Berwick since 1862 and to celebrate their 150th anniversary they invite you to their Open Day.
See some of the treasures of the collection including original 19th century books, the Lord Casey collection and silk paintings by Ellis Rowan.
Free, refreshments served. BMI 15 High Street, Berwick, 10.00am to 4.00pm. More information: 9707 3519

Friday, October 26
The Dovetons of Doveton.
Discover the exciting story of the life of John and Margaret Doveton, after whom the suburb of Doveton was named. Local History Librarian, Heather Arnold, presents some fascinating facts about the couple.
Doveton Library, 10.30am to 11.30am. Free. Bookings essential. www.cclc.vic.gov.au or Doveton Library 9792 9497.

Friday, October 26
Local History talk, Radio 3SER 97.7FM. 
Bryce Eishold joins local history enthusiast, Judith Dwyer, to present the Local History spot on Radio 3SER at 5.30 pm, on the last Friday of the month. This months guest is Chris Keys, the President of the Dandenong and District Historical society.

Sunday, October 28
Cranbourne Cemetery tour.Join the Narre Warren & District Family History Group on a tour of Cranbourne Cemetery. Come and hear a few of the 3,000+ stories behind the headstones as they explore Cranbourne’s early history and the accomplishments and tragediesof some of the district’s early settlers. The 90 minute tour will cost $5 per person paid on the day – however bookings are essential.http://nwfhg.org.au

Premier's & Booker Awards

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Biggest Estate on Earth: how Aborigines made Australia has just earned Bill Gammage Australia's richest literary prize - the Victorian Premier's Literary Award of $100,000.  It also took out the Nettie Palmer Prize for Non-Fiction.  The awards were presented by Victorian Premier and Arts Minister, Ted Baillieu, at the Regent Theatre overnight.
In other categories, the Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction went to Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears and the CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry was awarded to John Kinsella for Armour.
Meanwhile, Britain's most prestigious award for literary fiction, the Man Booker Prize, was presented at a gala event in London last night, 16 October.  Hilary Mantel won the c$80,000 prize for the novel Bring Up The Bodies, the second book in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Mantel won the prize for the first book in the series, Wolf Hall, in 2009. She is the first woman to be a two-time winner of the prize.


Anna Dressed in Blood- Kendare Blake

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Cas is no ordinary guy- he hunts dead ghosts. Anna is no ordinary ghost- she kills people. When they meet nothing will go as planned. Just another average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people so boy must-kill-girl story. 
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation; he hunts killer ghosts dispatching them before another human life is lost. It’s as simple as track, monitor, kill…until of course Cas goes after Anna dressed in blood. A ghost of a sixteen year old girl from the 1950’s Anna was murdered on her way to a school dance. Since then she has haunted her childhood home violently slaying any who happen to wander inside, that is until Cas shows up. When Anna doesn’t kill him Cas finds he cannot kill her either and instead enlists the help of some locals to find a way to free Anna from the bounds that bind her. But what will it cost Cas to try and save the girl he intended to kill?
A horrifically humorous and heart pounding read. The best thing about this novel is its unpredictability; every time I thought I had this story pegged Blake would throw a curve ball and my perceptions would be thrown right out the window. The suspense and plot twists will have any reader engaged and on the edge of their seats but be warned this tale is not for the faint hearted, Blake includes great detail of gore to frighten the reader. But this is nicely balanced with touches of humour, romance, mystery and adventure. The characters themselves are well rounded and not so a-typical which helps endear them to the reader and makes for an easy read. Anna dressed in Blood is a nightmarishly, bone-chilling read that cannot be missed. Pick it up you won’t be disappointed…just maybe a little scared!!! Be sure to check out the sequel 'The girl of Nightmares'...     Courtney :)

Curious incident of the dog in the night-time

Reading Rewards - reviews -

I had originally read the Curious incident of the dog in the night-time not long after it came out, to much acclaim and award winning.  Having had a bit of experience with children on the Autism Spectrum since then, I decided to give it another read, to find out if my new insights would make any difference to my reading of the story.

It did.

"Fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. He does not like to be touched, hates yellow and brown, and begins screaming when confronted with unfamiliar circumstances. Nevertheless, he has an affinity for mathematics and science and almost total recall of anything he has read, heard, or seen. Life with his father is relatively routine until Christopher finds a neighbor's dog that was killed with a garden tool. Because of his compulsion to solve puzzles and his fondness for Sherlock Holmes, Christopher sets out, against his father's objections, to find out who killed the dog, with unexpected repercussions."

Although not autistic himself, author Mark Haddon gained good experience with those on the Spectrum whilst working with people with disabilities.  He captures the Asperger nature in his character Christopher beautifully and it takes a bit to not only get in sync with how the autistic mind works, but also in how the story jumps around, much as Christopher's mind does.

Although originally aimed at the adult market, the book has found a niche in the young adult collection, but still appeals to a readership across many age levels.  It is an intriguing exploration not only of autism, but of human relationships and reactions to a range of experiences.

If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. It has become a mainstream text for secondary school students, but still has much to recommend it to adult readers too. A mini mystery, not only of the crime of dog slaying, but of the nature of a different mind, well worth exploring.


Casual vacancy - J K Rowling

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I was first introduced to J.K. Rowling in 1999, when a publisher gave the bookshop I worked in a free copy of “Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone” and “Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets”.  They were hoping that we would read them, fall in love with them and then recommend them to our customers.  The publisher was right; we did fall in love.  I became a huge fan straight away, and have been ever since.

So it was with some trepidation that I picked up a copy of J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy.  It’s her first foray into the adult market and described by the publisher as “Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising”. Would it live up to my expectations?  And what exactly were my expectations?  I was hoping for a novel that would grab me and hold me enthralled, as I was by Harry Potter.

Within twenty pages I came across three different characters who could have been Vernon Dursley in different moods.

Within 50 pages an observer noted that I couldn't be enjoying it that much, as I was frowning while reading it.

A third of the way through I was ready to give up, but I persevered, because it’s by J.K. Rowling.

Three quarters of the way through, I didn't care that it was by J.K. Rowling, I wanted to give up; but by then I’d already spent so much time on it I had to see it to the end.

I think by now it’s obvious that I didn't enjoy reading “The Casual Vacancy”.  I tried to analyse why. I read; I read A LOT and all types of genres; yet I discovered that all the books I read have one similarity.  They contain at least one character who is trying to do something “for the greater good” – The cop who has to wade through filth and gore to find the clues to catch the killer. The young boy wizard who fights to destroy an evil tyrant. The list could go on and on.

In “The Casual Vacancy” the only character to give a damn about anyone but themselves dies on page two.  All the others only think of themselves, or if they do think of others it’s about how they can inflict pain and anguish on them.

By the end of the novel, a few of the many characters started to be less self-centred; but for me it was too little, too late.


Runemarks- Joanne Harris

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‘Seven o’clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the End of the World, and goblins had been at the cellar again.’

That first sentence had me hooked. I have always enjoyed a good fantasy read, and the balance of humour and everyday ordinariness, contrasted with fantasy elements promised me a really good read.

And this book is a good read. It is the story of Maddy Smith, a girl with a strange rune mark on her hand, growing up in a town where nobody likes the idea of magic. She is quite miserable until she meets One-Eye, a strange man that passes through the village, and seems to have all the answers that Maddy seeks, if only he would tell them to her.

Sent by One-Eye on a strange quest, Maddy begins an adventure, in which she meets all sorts of gods, and encounters vague and frustrating prophecies, and tangles with the ultimate Trickster, Loki himself. Twists and turns abound in this plot, and you can never be quite sure who is telling the truth at any one time, or whose side each character is on. Although the plot does drag a little in places, it was the twists and turns that kept me reading as I could not predict how the story would end.

Runesmark is very much based on Scandinavian legend, which appearances from Odin, Loki, Thor and other gods that you may be familiar with. Rune stones and marks play a great part in the story, again drawing from that background. I particularly like these legends, so I found the book engaging from that point of view.

Joanne Harris is a bestselling author of adult titles, and this is her first foray into the young adult market. As a result the text is quite dense, but the strong plot should encourage young readers to keep reading. She has also written a sequel to this book called Runelight.

Celia @ Narre Warren

The Randa wrap up

Reading Rewards - reviews -

More than 30 people thoroughly enjoyed our Get Reading author event at Hampton Park Library last Friday (28/9), despite wild thunderstorms and lightning! We heard about Randa’s writing journey as she introduced each book she’d written - from her first attempts through to getting Does My Head Look Big In This? published and more recently, her amusing first novel for adults No Sex in the City. While most of her books are great for young adult readers, Buzz Off! is a junior storybook suitable for boys in the popular Mates series. Randa spoke of her passion for writing, how she got her ideas for characters and plots and her role as a human rights activist in providing an alternative voice. The Q & A session was great! One comment was ‘interesting to hear her views on current affairs involving Muslims' as the diverse audience were keen in exploring identity and cultural differences and how Randa approaches her writing.  Randa mentioned attending the major exhibition: Faith, Fashion, Fusion: Muslim women's style in Australia from Sydney's Powerhouse Museum  (which should also be coming to Melbourne) as a way to increase cultural understanding.    Thanks to the Get Reading campaign for their touring author program and Deb from Collins Booksellers in Berwick for the sales and book signing opportunity!  Tuzana (left), pictured above with Randa, certainly appreciated it.                                                    - Pru

Aerial photos of Doveton, Eumemmerring, Hampton Park and Dandenong

Links to our Past - history -

These aerial photographs were taken on March 3, 1970. The label says they were taken at  a 'height of 1,500 feet generally, down to 1,000 feet'. That is 450 metres down to 300 metres.  All the photographs have 'Eummemmerring Bypass from end of Mulgrave Bypass to South Gippsland Highway" on the back.  I presume that they were taken along the route of the proposed road between Stud Road and the Princes Highway East, which would act as a by-pass to the City of Dandenong. This work started in 1969 and was finished in 1972. The photographs are from the Shire of Berwick and have been annotated on the front  at some stage by a Council employee. 

This is the Princes Highway at Hallam/Eumemmerring, showing Kays Avenue at the bottom right and the General Motors Plant in the centre of the photograph. The South Gippsland freeway now runs to the left of  Kays Avenue and the right of General Motors. It's page 91 of the Melway Street Directory.

Kays Avenue is in the centre, the Princes Highway bi-sects the photograph, Doveton Avenue is to the right and  you can see the General Motors factory, centre left. 

Looking west (or towards Dandenong) up the Prince Highway. Kays Avenue is just below centre right.

This is looking south, over Eumemmerring and  General Motors to Hallam/Hampton Park. Kidds Road is at the bottom, right. General Motors Holden is at the centre, towards the top of the photograph. Florence Street is in the centre. It doesn't exist in the Melway anymore.

Another view across towards General Motors Holden.  Power Road is bottom right.

This is the South Gippsland Highway and Pound Road intersection at Hampton Park, looking north to General Motors Holden factory. It's page 96 of the Melway Street Directory.

The same intersection as above, the corner of the South Gippsland Highway and Pound Road. If you have been along here recently you would know that there have been some massive changes since this photograph was taken.  
 This is Gladstone Road in Dandenong, looking towards where it intersects with Brady Road and further on Halton Road.  It's Map 81 of the Melway Street Directory.

You'll Be Sorry When I'm Dead

Reading Rewards - reviews -

I opened this book with no preconceived ideas of the woman named Marieke Hardy, except for the intruguing blurb contents; "At the age of eleven I decided with no small sense of certainty that when I grew up I wanted to become a prostitute...".
You'll Be Sorry When I'm Dead is less an extensive autobiography than a small collection of humourous stories from various stages of Hardy's life. Yet after only a few chapters, I found myself feeling as though I knew her personally. Her writing takes you on a rollercoaster of emotion and hilarity. Her retelling of her friend's fight with cancer is both sincere and entertaining without being disrespectful, and she relives childhood boy obsessions with a similar mood of reflective nostalgia that is laughter inducing.
I actually laughed out aloud on the tram on a number of occasions and had to practise yoga breaths to regain some composure... particularly when she remembers numerous letters that she wrote to people and companies, and the responses she then received; "I was twenty-two years old in 1998 and already sounding like the sort of stitched-up biddy who distrusts the coloureds because they hum to themselves while they sew".

Her writing is not for the faint hearted as many of her anecdotes are explicit, however all are vivacious and you can't help but want to read more about the ins and outs of her past. I highly recommend this as a winning read, but only so long as you're not a "stitched up biddy", a sense of humour is definitely a prerequisite to enjoying and understanding Marieke Hardy!


Book Chat books

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Book Chat is a great opportunity to share the stories we've been reading.  At Emerald Library Book Chat recently, staff and participants really got into the swing of things over a cuppa: the following are just a handful of titles that were discussed:

QUIET: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain
At least one in three people hankers for silence and solitude after a party, conference or crowded train journey. The reason is that they have an introverted personality type which is more comfortable with lower levels of stimulation. Introverts prefer one on one conversation and are often slower, quieter and more deliberate than extroverts. Introverts prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying and prefer working on their own rather than brainstorming ideas. Susan Cain suggests that these days, “quiet” is undervalued.  This book took the author five years to research and it shows. It is a powerful exploration of psychology, physiology, personalities, human relationships and life. This is an extraordinary book which I very much recommend to all readers. Please read! (Staff - Ali)

THE DAUGHTERS OF MARS by Thomas Keneally

Naomi and Sally Durance are daughters of a dairy farmer from the Macleay Valley.  Bound together in complicity by what they considered a crime, when the Great War begins in 1914 they hope to submerge their guilt by leaving for Europe to nurse the tides of young wounded.  They head for the Dardenelles on the hospital ship Archimedes; continue on to the Greek island of Lemnos, then on the Western Front.  Here, new outrages – gas, shell-shock – present themselves. The descriptions of the horrors of war, the suffering of the wounded, the courage of some participants and the stupidity of others makes for harrowing reading at times. This book was inspired by the journals of Australian nurses who gave their all to the Great War effort and the men they nursed. (Staff - Dot)

For a bear of very little brain Winnie the Pooh has had a remarkable life and this engaging biography was written to celebrate Pooh’s 90th birthday last year.  The book chronicles his story - from the factory in which he was crafted, through his life with the Milne family, his world travel and emigration to the USA, and finally to his life now in his retirement home in the Children’s Section of the New York Public Library.  Pooh has always remained a humble, hunny-loving bear and has never let celebrity and fame go to his fuzzy little head.
The illustrations in the book add to the spirit of the whole volume – including pictures of the World Poohsticks Championships, and Pooh and friends in their retirement home with a young couple celebrating their engagement beside them.  An enjoyable read for those bear-lovers among us.  (Staff - Fay)

Sticks and Stones is the second and final book of the story of Mattie Hampton. This again is a great read with some interesting twists throughout. Mattie and her children have developed a new life, a new start in a small country town. Life is fine until the old complications of Jake, his temper and his abuse arise again. Mattie is a stronger person with many avenues of support. Mattie has allowed herself to get help and in so develops a career in helping others. Is her life going to be clear of this continual abuse, physical and mental, or is Jake never going to give up? This story is a heart rendering true to life epilogue with a incredulous ending. A must read after Broken-- you may need to grab the tissue box.  Highly Recommended. (Judy)

Led by her yapping Corgis to the Westminster travelling library outside Buckingham Palace, the Queen finds herself taking out a novel by Ivy Compton-Burnett. The following week her choice proves more enjoyable and awakens in Her Majesty a passion for reading so great that her public duties begin to suffer.  And so, as she devours work by everyone from Hardy to Brookner to Proust to Beckett, her equerries conspire to bring the Queen’s literary odyssey to a close.  A very fast little book to read and great fun. (No name)

Margaret recently read some very interesting non-fiction books which she thinks would appeal to fiction readers.  Here's a selection:

Ian Potter by Peter Yule.  "An excellent background story of Melbourne and its people."
Freud's Couch, Scott's Buttocks, Brontes' Grave by Simon Goldhill.  "A quite different kind of travel book."
The Office: a hard working history by Gideon Haigh.  "Told with wit and plenty of photos, it's a fascinating trace over the centuries."

Fated- Alyson Noel

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There is more to this world than what one can see…
And Daire Santos is about to see a whole lot more of the world than she ever imagined was possible.
Daire Santos has spent her life travelling the globe, visiting far away and exotic places with her make up artist mother but not even Daire could imagine all the kinds of secrets the world holds…until now that is. As the animals start to follow her, the crows mock her and glowing people begin to haunt her, those around Daire begin to think she’s losing her mind but it is her long lost grandmother who sees’s the truth. Daire is ready to fulfil her legacy as the next in line of the Soul seekers, people who can communicate between the living and the dead. As Daire begins the journey to be the seeker she’s destined to be she will learn that not everything is as it first appears and to fulfil her destiny will take courage, wisdom and sacrifice. Has Daire got what it takes?

As the first in a four part series Fated does well to establish the characters, the setting and the tone for the three remaining books however it also means that the book itself is quite dry. The plot takes a fair while to start up and at times seems quite boring and mundane. However Noel has speckled enough suspense and mystery within the pages of Fated to keep the reader intrigued. In truth what grabbed me the most about this novel were the characters, Daire in particular is quite mature for her age and not your average teenage girl, Xotichl, Daire’s new friend, is anything but typical and Dace and Cade are utterly intriguing. Overall it’s the characters Noel creates that carry this novel and hopefully in the next instalment Echo the plot will advance further. Fated is a novel for anyone looking for something a little different in the paranormal genre; there are no vampires, werewolves, or angels but still the romance, the mystery and the supernatural themes to create a fun paranormal read.
Courtney :)

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Renee is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building, home to members of the great and the good. Over the years she has maintained her carefully-constructed persona as someone reliable but totally uncultivated, in keeping, she feels, with society's expectations of what a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Renee - passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives.

Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Renee lives resigned to her lonely lot with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery is a thought provoking book on many levels and, rightfully so, a popular Book Club title.  The characters are endearing in their efforts to hide their high intelligence and I must admit that some of the words used were lost on my knowledge of grammar and vocabulary!  Listening to this title on audio book whilst driving made the words hard to look up, but for a wordsmith like our Deb (the Editor of this blog, CCLC's Pages and Audiobook Next Reads newsletter), it would have her revelling in its complexity.  Despite the book's sesquipedalian nature (that one did require looking up!), I found the exploration of concepts and the light humor that is woven through the book a joy to read. The narration by Barbara Rosenblat and Cassandra Morris brilliant.  A definite recommendation.

ED: The Elegance of the Hedgehog  is a novel by the French novelist and professor of philosophy Muriel Barbery (translated from the French by Alison Anderson).  First released in August 2006 by Gallimard, the novel became a publishing success in France the following year, selling over a million copies. It has been translated into several languages, and published in a number of countries outside France, including the United Kingdom and the United States, attracting critical praise for both the work and its author.
- Thanks Monique, ha ha, and I thought sesquipedalian meant having 70 legs or something!  :o) It's now definitely on my To Read/Listen list! 

Puberty Blues

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'Puberty Blues' became something of a teen Aussie cult classic when it was first published in the 1970's. It is based on the lives of the authors, Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey, who grew up in the Sydney suburbs.
The main protagonists in the story are two thirteen year olds-Debbie and Sue-who are desperate to become part of the in-crowd. And the 'in' thing to do is surf-if you are a male that is-and so life for the girls consists of hanging out at the beach and hopefully becoming noticed by the surfies.

While the boys (who all seem to be blonde) ride the waves, the girls watch on the beach...for hours...and hours. When the guys finish surfing, the girls immediately leap into action; they flirt, fawn and buy food for them.

Peer pressure plays an overwhelming part in the lives of the teens in this book, and parents seem to have little if any role in guiding their offspring. The teens smoke, drink, have under-age sex, and take drugs. They sneak out of bedrooms and into panel vans of boys waiting around the corner. Their greatest fear seems to be boredom, or being uncool.

'Puberty Blues' is honest and gutsy. It is also crass and can make you cringe. It is by no means a comfortable read. As an adolescent growing up in rural Victoria in the seventies, the sexism and peer pressure within the book did strike a chord with my own upbringing.

'Puberty Blues' is now being screened as a mini-series on television. The main characters and themes are true to the original novel, though much more detail has been given to the backgrounds of the teens-their parents and siblings play a greater role in the series than in the novel. This is positive as it does add an amount of depth to the storyline.



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WITHER  by Lauren DeStefano – first novel in The Chemical Garden Trilogy
What if you knew that at sixteen you only had four years left to live?
Imagine a future where genetic engineering has removed all disease and illness. Where scientists have created a perfect generation.  Yet there is a flaw. Through their manipulation they have also created a virus that attacks this generation’s children.  And their children.
Men live to the age of 25, women to 20.  Girls are stolen and forced into polygamous marriages in an attempt to keep the population alive.
When 16-year-old Rhine is abducted by Gatherers, and sold as a bride, her only thought is of escape. She wants nothing more than to return to her twin brother, to return to her old life.
However she finds it not as easy to hate her husband Linden as she had thought.  He showers her with affection and shows her a lifestyle she had never dreamt possible.  But Linden’s father, a doctor intent on finding an antidote, is experimenting on corpses and is not to be trusted.
With Gabriel, one of Linden’s servants, Rhine attempts to escape.  While she still has time.
This novel was a good fast paced read. The thought of knowing exactly how long a person has to live is a haunting one and I’m eager to read the next book in the series. 
Vicki @ Pak.

This Green Hell

Reading Rewards - reviews -

This Green Hell by Greig Beck is book 3 of the Alex Hunter Series.  From the cover:  Deep in the steaming jungles of Paraguay, Aimee Weir is in trouble. The petro-biologist has found what she was looking for - a unique micro-organism in a natural gas deposit - but it proves to be more destructive than anyone could have imagined. A contagion is striking down all in its wake. The camp is quarantined, but workers start to vanish in the night. Alex Hunter and his Hotzone All-Forces Warfare Commandos must be dropped in to the disaster area to stem the outbreak.  Is it fear of contamination – or has something far more lethal come to the surface? Something that has been trapped beneath the miles of stone, waiting... for us.

I downloaded This Green Hell from our Bolinda Audio site, but it's also available in CD format and print copy.  Recently nominated for the 2012 International Thriller Writers Award for Best Paperback Novel, Beck once again provides an action/suspense/supernatural/horror/thriller with all the elements that keep you listening (and of course, the “will they/won’t they” aspect between Aimee and Alex).  I missed book 2 but did a bit of a rave over book 1 – Beneath the Dark Ice (see review here).  This one has more stomach-clenching supernatural horror, but it’s still an intelligent, gripping, ‘page-turning’ story, one that has been very well researched but presented in easy-to-digest form.   
Considering the setting in This Green Hell - a jungle in Paraguay, the very American covert HAWCS action/weaponry, the politics and listening to narrator Sean Mangan’s broad American accent, it’s hard to believe these books are written by an Aussie.  There’s a massive international appeal here – this series has mega movie potential! 

Casey Airfield at Berwick

Links to our Past - history -

The Casey Airfield was established at Berwick in 1938 by Colonel Rupert Ryan, who owned the Edrington property with his sister, Lady Casey. Ryan's brother-in law, Lord Casey owned a Perceval Gull monoplane and flew to and from Canberra, where he was a member of the House of Representatives. From 1948, until the early 1960s the airfield was also used by the Victorian Motorless Flight Group for gliding. In 1968, Colonel Keith Hatfield and Major Ron Kerrison took over the airfield and operated a flying school under the name Group Air P/L. Sadly, less than two years later, Major Kerrison and his passenger, Mrs Roma McLeod, were killed in  an aircrash at the field. Colonel Hadfield was born in 1919 and served in the British Army in World War Two, then joined the Australian Army after the War  and flew with the American Air Force in Korea. When the airfield was established in 1938, Berwick was a small country town, however by the 1990s, it had developed into a suburb of Melbourne and it appears that a small airfield had no place in Berwick anymore. The beginning of the end came in 1992 when the Berwick Campus of Chisholm TAFE was constructed and it finally closed in 1994 when it was announced that the Berwick Campus of Monash Universtity was to be built on the site.
 The Airfield, photograph undated. This photograph of the Airfield is from the book, Berwick Nostalgia, published by the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society.
Aerial photograph of the Casey Airfield, taken December 27, 1963. The road bi-secting the photograph is Berwick-Clyde Road. The Railway line shows up as a curve from the top left to the bottom right of the photograph. You can see the criss-crossing of the runways. The hangars appear in the centre of the photograph, they are the white dots, the dark dots are the rows of cypress trees, still seen in the 1992 photograph further below.

 An air show at Casey Airfield. The Photograph is most likely from the 1980s.
 The photographs, above and below, were taken in October 1992.

This was also taken in October 1992 and shows the construction of the Berwick Campus of Chisholm TAFE in the background.
The official announcement that the State Government had obtained the Casey Airfield site for the Berwick Campus of the Monash University. Photograph dated January 6, 1994. Left to right are Federal Member for Latrobe, Bob Charles; Tertiary Education Minister, Haddon Storey; Monash University Deputy Vice Chancellor, Ian Chubb; City of Berwick Mayor, Cr Norma McCausland and the State Member for Berwick, Robert Dean.

Bones are forever

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Bones are forever is the latest from Kathy Reichs and the latest in the series on Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist.  Temperance is also the basis for the character in the hit television show Bones, but there are many differences between the books and the drama.

"A newborn baby is found wedged in a vanity cabinet in a rundown apartment near Montreal. Dr Temperance Brennan, forensic anthropologist to the province of Quebec, is brought in to investigate. While there, she discovers the mummified remains of two more babies within the same room. Shocked and distressed, Tempe must use all her skills and inner strength to focus on the facts. But when the autopsies reveal that the children died of unnatural causes, the hunt for the mother - a young woman with a seedy past and at least three aliases - is on."

This is really only the start of the story, as the case blows out to include organised crime, drug dealing and a trip to the wilds of Northern Canada, where everything comes to a head. Temperance also has to deal with  the complications of having to work with two past lovers and trying to find the perceived 'murdering mother' - who may not be as guilty as first thought and who is in incredible danger herself.

As usual, Temperance is her strong-willed self, managing all the conflicts she has to deal with well, considering the difficult circumstances. And it doesn't turn out as you expect, although I appreciated that it was Temperance herself who thought through it all and took action to figure out exactly what had been going on.

It was a difficult read to begin with, not because it was badly written, but because nobody likes to have to deal with dead babies - especially when they have been murdered. However, Reichs is a engaging writer and she had me truly engaged to the point where I just had to finish the book.  As you would expect, her procedural writing is first rate and her story was intricately woven, but not to the point of confusion.

If you enjoy Bones the TV show, I encourage you to read Reichs and discover the other Temperance Brennan. If you enjoy a good procedural mystery or even just forensics, then you will love this one. 

- Michelle

Secrets of the Tides

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell  

I saw a review of this book on a blog that I follow and it sparked my interest.  I am always prepared to give debut novels a try, and this one is by an English-born author who now lives in Sydney.

The book tells the story of the Tide family, once close, who are now estranged.  Shifting between the past and the present, Secrets of the Tides is told from the point of view of two sisters and their mother, all reflecting on events of 10 years ago and struggling to deal with the fallout.

The characters are well portrayed and complex. We meet them in two time zones - back at the time of the tragedy, two young teenage girls, Dora and Cassie,  a dissatisfied mother and a mostly absent father working in London.   When we meet them 10 years later, we understand implicitly the adults they have become and the issues with which they deal.  Dora is in a relationship that is becoming serious when she discovers she is pregnant, which brings up all sorts of complicated feelings from the past. The estranged Cassie, meanwhile, is dealing with her secret in a much different way. This is the heart of the book - a detailed and honest illustration of a tragedy's reverberations through the years, and how adult lives are directly affected by trans-formative childhood events.

Secrets of the Tides is ultimately a sad book and it speaks to the truth that bad things happen to good people for no good reason; but it keeps you turning those pages to ultimately learn what really happened to this family.

I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to readers who enjoy Family Sagas. It has just been nominated in the "Get Reading" 2012 Campaign, and those recommendations don't come easily.   Reserve your copy at the library today!



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