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Maximum Ride

Quicksand -

Maximum Ride is a series written by James Patterson. It is about a young girl named Max and her friends/family on a mission to save the world. One of the reasons that make this book exciting is that both Max and the rest of her gang are half human half bird.

This is a good read because there lots of action and a good sense of humour even for people a bit older the writing is altogether is amazing even though the book are meet for a younger crowed a more mature reader can enjoy this quite well.

Even though this series is very different from most of the books James Patterson normally writes this is still a very well thought out story line is has a good sense world ending danger but as well dealing with teenage problems seen though there eyes.

All up this series is well written fast-paced and fascinating altogether a good read.

By Natasha Brocklesby (Aged 16)
Work experience at Endeavour Hills Library

Romantic Book of Year finalists

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Romantic Book of the Year Award, affectionately known as The Ruby, is the only one of its kind in Australia. Voted on by Australian readers, this contest is open each year to any Australian or New Zealand romance author who has published a romance genre book or a book with romantic elements.

The competition has both digital ebook and hardcopy entries and the categories are: Long Romance, Short Sweet Romance, Short Sexy Romance and Romantic Elements. 

And the finalists are: 

Long Romance:
Rise by Karina Bliss
The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie
Kakadu Sunset by Annie Seaton
Lethal in Love by Michelle Somers

Romantic Elements
A Dangerous Arrangement by Lee Christine
The Patterson Girls by Rachael Johns
Pay the Piper by Mary Brock Jones
Between the Vines by Tricia Stringer

Short Sexy
Tribal Law by Shannon Curtis
The Wedding Bargain by Yvonne Lindsay
Pretend It’s Love by Stefanie London
Never Surrender by Rosie Miles
Seducing His Enemy’s Daughter by Annie West

Short Sweet
You for Christmas by Madeline Ash
Still Married to Her Ex! by Lucy Clark
Home to Bindarra Creek by Juanita Kees
The Secret Son by Joan Kilby
Reach for the Stars by Kerrie Paterson

This year the Ruby will also include a section for Novellas 10,000-40,000 words. 

The winners will be announced at the Romantic Writers of Australia awards dinner in Adelaide on 20 August.

~ Deb

Modella Great War Soldiers

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

This post lists the Great War soldiers who have  a connection to Modella. It's  a work in progress, so if you know of any soldiers who should be included on this list, then please let me know. I have listed the  Service Number (SN) so you can look up each soldier's full service record on the National Archives website (www.naa.gov.au)

Bunyip Free Press August 19, 1915http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129630757

Chambers, Michael James (Jim) (SN 64173)    Jim had enlisted on  March 6 1918 at the age of 38. He lived in Modella and had a wife, Labela, and three children. Jim Returned to Australia on July 26, 1919 and on October 11 1919 a 'welcome home' was provided for him* Jim had also served in the Boer War in the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles for 18 months. Their son, Ronald, was the Shire of Berwick Engineer from 1948 until 1973, and then the Shire of Pakenham Engineer until 1977. The family are the source of the name Chambers Road, Modella. The R.J. Chambers Reserve in Pakenham Upper is named for Ronald.

Corbin, William Osment  (SN 5114) William was 19 years old when he enlisted on February 11, 1916. He was a farmer and his next of kin was his father, William, of Modella. Lance Corporal Corbin Returned to Australia May 20 1919. After the War, William took up a soldier settlement farm at Caldermeade - you can see his file on the Battle to Farm website here  

Doran, Matthew John (SN 1376)   M. Doran is listed in the newspaper article, above, and I believe it is Matthew Doran although I can find no specific connection to Modella, however he did have his medical examination at Warragul, prior to his enlistment on August 3, 1915, so I believe I have the correct M. Doran.  Matthew was a 29 year old labourer when he enlisted and his next of kin was his mother, Mary Scanlon, of Heathcote. Matthew was Killed in Action on October 23, 1916 in France,

Esler, Gordon  (SN 534) Gordon was 30 when he enlisted on July 8, 1915. He was a 30 year farmer from Modella and his next of kin was his mother, Mrs Helen Smethurst of Yannathan. Helen died in November 1916 and his brother, Hugh, who was a Policeman, then became his next of kin. Gordon Returned to Australia April 13, 1919 and was granted a Soldier Settler farm in the Parish of Tongala, you can read about this here.

Hughes, Ephraim  (SN 11763) Ephraim enlisted at the age of 31 on September 7, 1915. His next of kin was his father, Robert, of Modella. Ephraim Returned to Australia April 20, 1919 and was granted a soldier settlement farm of 77 acres in the Parish of Yannathan, you can read about this here

Lugton, John Archibald  (SN 3193) Arch enlisted on October 19, 1916 at the age of 27. He was a farmer and his next of kin was his father, Charles, of Northcote. Arch received  a gun shot wound to the chest on August 8, 1918, whilst fighting in France, and died the next day.  A Memorial service was held at the Modella School in memory of Arch*

Marchant, John (SN 897) John was a blacksmith and he was 24 when he enlisted on August 21, 1914. His next of kin was his wife, Mrs J Marchant, of Modella. John had a bit of mixed military record, and was absent without permission on a few occasion which meant that a form had to be filled out, and on two occasions this paperwork had his 'General character' listed as 'Bad'. I'm sure he wasn't bad - perhaps just not suited to Army life. John Returned to Australia March 3 1916 and was discharged on medical grounds on May 14 due to 'leucoma right eye' - which is a dense, white opacity of the cornea due to an injury.

Norton, Noel Condah  (SN 4498) Noel was born at Koo-Wee-Rup and enlisted on September 17, 1914. He was 22 and his next of kin was his wife,  Ann May Norton of Modella and they had three children at the time of his enlistment. He was discharged as medically unfit on November 19, 1914. Noel then enlisted again on July 29, 1915.  He Returned to Australia on April 29, 1919.  Noel also became  a Soldier Settler and you can read about him here.

South Bourke and Mornington Journal September 19, 1918http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66194707
Ryan, John Joseph     As we can see from the newspaper article, above, a John Joseph Ryan from Modella enlisted in August or September 1918 - I can't find  a record for him on the National Archives of Australia website, so I have no other details. 
Warren, George William  (SN 6716) George was 32 and  a farmer when he enlisted on January 11, 1917 at the age of 32. His next of kin was his father, also called George Warren, of Modella. George served in France and  Returned to Australia on February 7, 1919. George was granted a Soldier Settler farm in Mildura, you can read about this here.

Wilson, Joseph Daniel (SN 1869)  Joseph was born in Northern Ireland and was 26 years old and the teacher at Modella State School when he enlisted on September 11, 1915.  Joseph was awarded the Military Medal and he Returned to Australia on June 20, 1919.

*Modella: a brief history compiled by Graham Utber (1968)

Out of the Ice

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Out of the Ice by Ann Turner

When environmental scientist Laura Alvarado is sent to a remote Antarctic island to report on an abandoned whaling station, she begins to uncover more than she could ever imagine. 

Despite new life thriving in the icy wilderness, the whaling station is brimming with awful reminders of its bloody, violent past, and Laura is disturbed by evidence of recent human interference. Rules have been broken, and the protected wildlife is behaving strangely. 

On a diving expedition, Laura is separated from her colleague and she emerges into an ice cave where, through a cavern in the blue shadows, she is shocked to see an anguished boy, crying for help. Then he disappears. But in this freezing, lonely landscape there are ghosts everywhere, and Laura begins to sense that her own eyes cannot be trusted. Are her memories playing tricks? Has she been in the ice too long? Back at base, Laura’s questions about the whaling station go unanswered, blocked by unhelpful scientists unused to questions from an outsider. And Laura just can’t shake the image from the ice cave. 

Piecing together a past and present of cruelty and vulnerability that can be traced all around the globe, from Norway, to Nantucket, Europe and Antarctica, Laura will stop at nothing to unearth the truth. As she sees the dark side of endeavour and human nature, she also discovers a legacy of love, hope and the meaning of family. If only Laura can find her way … Out of the ice.

Why we love it:

Ann Turner delivers another brilliant suspense novel with Out of the Ice, solidifying her position as one of Australia’s best thriller writers.  Turner has an unrivalled skill in creating intelligent characters and plots while at the same time evoking breathtaking settings that seamlessly transport her readers to another world.

~ from the Team at Better Reading

The Ties That Bind

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Ties that Bind by Lexi Landsman

Miami art curator Courtney Hamilton and her husband David live the perfect life until their ten-year-old son Matthew is diagnosed with leukaemia. He needs a bone-marrow transplant but, with Courtney being adopted, the chances of finding a match within his family are slim. Desperate to find a donor, Courtney tracks the scattered details of her birth 15,000 kilometres away, to the remote town of Somerset in the Victorian bush. 

Meanwhile Jade Taylor wakes up in hospital in Somerset having survived the deadly bushfire that destroyed the family home and their beloved olive groves. Gone too are the landmarks that remind her of her mother, Asha, a woman whose repeated absences scarred her childhood.

What a brilliant debut novel from a new Australian author I was unaware of, but now hope to hear a lot more from in the future!

There are two storylines going on in this book - one about Jade, her father and grandmother living through the horrifying loss of their home and olive plantation to a bushfire in Victoria. The other is about Courtney and David and their soccer-playing son Matthew who live in Miami, USA. They are a happy family until they receive devastating news about their son.

For quite some time I was puzzled as to how these two stories were going to come together, they were so different, it seemed like I was actually reading two separate books. All the characters had me hooked from the beginning to the end. Tackling issues such as loss of home, livelihood, bringing communities together, illness, a bit of romance, Alzheimer's disease, family secrets - this book has all that and more.

The author was very clever with her writing and did not reveal how these two stories intersected until almost three quarters of the way through the book, and from then on I just could not put it down. Lexi Landsman has really done her research well on the events she's portrayed and it's hard to believe this is her first book - in my opinion her writing is superb!

~ Janine

A Death in the Family

Reading Rewards - reviews -

A Death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgard

In this incredible book Karl Ove writes of his younger self writing about his life. In this sense the My Struggle series is autobiographical fiction. Karl Ove grew up in Norway and later moves to Sweden where he meets Linda. A Death in the family covers his childhood and teenage years, but the story isn’t linear and shifts back and forth in time. The style examines the minutiae of his experiences and at the same time the big events such as the death of his alcoholic father. 

Although somewhat bleak and a bit directionless I loved it! I think this is partly because being of the same generation I could relate to many aspects of the author's life. Also, I just let myself “go with it”. The musical soundtrack of his youth was very similar as mine.  I also just really enjoyed the unusual style, creating an art out of introspection.  I listened to the audio version narrated by an actor by the name of Edoardo Bellerini who does a fantastic job. 

This is the first book in the My Struggle series.

~ Ali

Don't You Cry

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she's the person Quinn thought she knew. 

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher.  Alex is watching a girl who is sitting in the café obsessively watching a therapist’s office. Who is this beautiful but down-and-out girl and what is she doing in Alex’s hick town? He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

Why we love it: 

For Mary Kubica’s growing legion of fans we’re happy to report that America’s bestselling suspense writer has just released her third book – and Don’t You Cry is as creepy and thrilling as the previous two.

~ from The Team at Better Reading

Keep You Close

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Keep You Close by Lucie Whitehouse
Narrated by Polly Whitehouse

From the cover: When the brilliant young painter Marianne Glass is found dead in her snow-covered Oxford garden, her closest friend, Rowan Winter, knows it wasn’t an accident. Rowan’s pursuit of the truth takes her into every corner of her friend’s life, from Bohemian east London to the professional art world in which Marianne made her name. The deeper she goes, Rowan discovers that some secrets are better left buried and others can be lethal.

I listened to this on audio CD and became quickly entrenched in the story.  It is well written, well constructed, with totally believable characters and a storyline that keeps holding your interest.  I knew there would be a twist but didn’t spot it (bonus points to the author) and unusually, found the length of the story to be quite right and not the usual “needs editing, too long”!  

The book is narrated by the author’s sister, Polly, who is a UK TV newsreader by profession, but she delivers the character voices - both male and female – with aplomb. Overall, one of the better ‘whodunnits’ I’ve read of late!   We have this in audio CD, e-book, and print formats.

~  Deb

The Murderer's Daughter

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman

Only five years old when she watched her parents die in a bloody murder-suicide, Grace took refuge in her fierce intellect and found comfort in the loving couple who adopted her. But her now-accomplished life has a secret side, ruled by an insatiable desire; by night she pursues the addictive thrills of sexual trysts with strangers. And when her two worlds unexpectedly converge, Grace’s past returns with a vengeance, threatening to destroy everything she’s fought for – including her life.

Shaken by the murder of her newest patient and fearful that an investigation will expose her double life, Grace sets out to probe the crime herself. But when she stumbles on the dead man’s true identity, a horrifying chapter from her childhood is violently reawakened, forcing Grace to confront a decades-old act of evil crying out to be avenged. Suddenly stalked by dangerous men, Grace must turn to the talent for survival she’s depended on all her life in order to face down the darkest personal demon she’s ever battled: her own.

Jonathan Kellerman breaks away from his Dr Alex Delaware series for this stand-alone title. The Murderer’s Daughter features a different kind of psychologist, Dr Grace Blades. Dr Blades helps people who have suffered significant trauma in their lives, something she is all too familiar with after suffering her own traumatic childhood. When a patient flies across the country to specifically seek assistance from this renowned psychologist, a shadowed past is released and Dr Blades' life becomes at risk. 

The reader learns a lot of the back story to Dr Grace Blades during the book but the main storyline is Dr Blades' investigation in order to maintain her freedom and keep her past a secret. Although she is followed and harassed during her investigation, it is a luke warm pursuit. She is in control at all times.

I felt this book was not one of Kellerman’s best, and not as thrilling as the cover promised. Nevertheless loyal fans of Kellerman may still enjoy The Murderer’s Daughter, if looking for a book of intrigue rather than psychological thriller.

~ Narelle

The Last Pearl

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Last Pearl by Leah Fleming

The Last Pearl: one magnificent gem; three lives bound together by fate. 1879, York. Greta Costello must rely on her wits to survive. She finds refuge as a Saturday girl for an old jeweller, Saul Abrahams, and her eye for detail, her long fingers and appreciation of beauty persuade Saul to train her as a pearl stringer. This skill will lead her through hardship and pain towards a new life. 

1879, Scotland. Jem Baillie knows the immense power of a perfect pearl. His father was a fisher on a tributary of the Tay river in Perthshire, Scotland, and together they found the rarest of pearls, a great white pearl they call Queenie. When this is stolen from them, Eben vows revenge. 

Spanning generations and continents, tracing the rivers of Scotland and the Mississippi, The Last Pearl is a sweeping novel of desire and revenge, of family and freedom, and of one woman's journey to open the shell she has built around herself to reveal the true beauty within.

This is a wonderful story about a perfect rare pearl and the lives of Jem Baillie a lad from Scotland whose father fished for pearls and Greta Costello, a poor girl struggling in life with her mother, sister and brother in York, and Eben Slinger a pearl dealer who sets up his shop in York.  The three lives become entwined across almost 30 years and two continents. It is a story of hope, loss, revenge and courage. This was a great read and gave an interesting insight into the pearl industry as well. The book will appeal to readers of Historical Fiction and Family Sagas. Highly recommended.

~ Janine

A Guide to Berlin

Reading Rewards - reviews -

A Guide to Berlin by Gail Jones

Six international travellers made up of two Italians, two Japanese an American and an Australian form a group while in Berlin. They meet regularly in empty apartments and share stories of themselves which they call “speak memories”. Each of the members is familiar with the work of writer Vladamir Nabokov (author of Lolita), who lived in Berlin in 1925 and wrote a short story called “A Guide to Berlin”. The strangers become friends and yet there’s always a polite respect within the group -   rules of the meetings seem to be implied, not overtly expressed. Berlin is the perfect winter host of the gatherings. The friendships evolve, and Cass, the Australian forms a close bond with Italian Marco. Then unexpected and devastating incidents pull the whole group, shell-shocked, apart. 

A Guide to Berlin was written in Berlin by Gail Jones during an “Artists Fellowship”. The wonderful descriptions of the city during winter really make Berlin like the 7th member of the group.  The city is fascinating – icy cold, snowy cold, bleak and grey, with reminders of its dark history making appearances here and there. There is a quiet assuredness to the characters - having a love of words and stories and with secrets which they may or may not reveal in their “speak memories”. The Nabakovian events which bring about the end of the group are surprising and satisfying.

A guide to Berlin is unique and wonderfully written. Highly recommended. 

~ Ali

Baileys Prize for Fiction

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction is the UK’s most prestigious annual book award for fiction written by a woman. Founded in 1996, the Prize was set up to celebrate excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women throughout the world.

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney, who started her career as a writer with a blog about life on a council estate in the “arse end of Ireland”, has won the £30,000 Baileys Prize with her debut novel.

The other works of fiction shortlisted were:
Irish Fiction Laureate Anne Enright, favourite to win with her novel The Green Road; The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie; The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild; Ruby by Cynthia Bond; and the Man Booker-nominated A Little Life by Hannah Yanagihara.

~ Deb

This Must Be the Place

Reading Rewards - reviews -

This Must Be The Place by Maggie O'Farrell

In Ireland to collect his grandfather’s ashes, Brooklyn-born Daniel Sullivan literally stumbles upon former movie star Claudette Wells and her son Ari where they live in a tumbledown house so remote, you have to open 12 gates before you reach it.  Claudette was formerly one of the world’s biggest movie stars, but she was stifled by fame and life with her Swedish filmmaker partner so that one day she simply took their son and disappeared. She became a recluse, hiding from the world, with the international media only speculating whether she was alive or dead. 

Claudette becomes Daniel’s second wife and Daniel, divorced and increasingly removed from his own two children, moves to the remote farmhouse where he and Claudette have two more children. One day, on his way to work in Belfast, Daniel hears a radio show featuring a former lover that is now deceased. This sends him on an odyssean journey to right the wrongs of his past...

Why we love it: 
We get extremely excited about a new Maggie O’Farrell novel. And This Must Be The Place lived up to all our expectations of the acclaimed writer, who with each novel becomes even more skilled at capturing the pitfalls and poignancy of modern life, marriage, separation and parenting.  Shot through with humor and wisdom, This Must Be the Place is a powerful rumination on the nature of identity, and the complexities of loyalty and devotion a gripping story of an extraordinary family and an extraordinary love.

~ from The Team at Better Reading

The Quality of Silence

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton
Narrated by Harriet Carmichael and Rachel Atkins

From the cover:  On 24th November, Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrive in Alaska.  Within hours they are driving alone across a frozen wilderness, where nothing and no one lives, where tears freeze and where night will last for another fifty-four days.  They are looking for Ruby's father, travelling deeper into a silent land.  They still cannot find him. And someone is watching them in the dark.

I can't work out where this book would fit on my bookshelf - adventure, or crime thriller, or relationships, romance, environment, suspense, climate, geo-political, petrochemical/fracking, wilderness survival; is it YA or adult?  It doesn't really matter... it is without doubt my read of the year so far.

I borrowed the Playaway (audio) version and it is not only beautifully written but narrated brilliantly in the two voices that dominate the book - Yasmin, an astrophysicist who gives up her career when her daughter is born deaf; and Ruby, the grade six student whose silent world blossoms under the care of her wildlife photographer Dad (Matt), and Yasmin, who constantly urges her to "use your mouth words" rather than narrowing her relationships to those who can only use sign language with her or on social media.  

That doesn't sound terribly suspenseful or gripping, but it's that background which underpins the whole fraught story, one that ramps up in the bleakness of an Alaskan winter after police inform London-based Yasmin and Ruby that Matt has been killed in an explosion and fire in the village of Anaktue near the Arctic Circle.  Yasmin does not believe the scant evidence, and is furious that, despite horrendous winter weather, not enough is being done to find Matt, so (incredibly) she sets out, Ruby in tow, to rectify that.  And this is where a series of terrifying scenarios unfold, some more believable than others. 

It's difficult avoiding spoilers, but I can say that the author would have really enjoyed creating such a mix of characters! Ruby is the most engaging - her take on the world, personality, intelligence and use of social media is absolutely spot on and a joy to read. Yasmin is, pardon the pun, polarising.  So caring, brave, determined; so intelligent yet so bloody stupid at times it's almost unbelievable.  From the cops, to the ice truckers, petrochemical workers, Alaskan villagers, even the animals in Matt's wildlife documentaries - this is one hell of a read (despite having to look up a few foreign words, like  aputiak, which is a temporary winter shelter built by native Eskimos primarily for use in winter hunting camps).

Climate is everything in this book, and the way Rosamund Lupton has written it, you can feel every hair-raising, terrifying millimetre of the awesome emptiness that is Alaska. 

~ Deb. 

Changing Gears

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Changing Gears: a pedal-powered detour from the Rat Race by Greg Foyster

Greg Foyster wakes one day and realises his job in advertising is hopelessly at odds with how he wants to live. Looking for inspiration, he and his partner Sophie decide to cycle from Melbourne to Far North Queensland (via Tasmania, naturally) scouting out ways to live more simply. 

On the road, the couple realise how preposterously under prepared they are – Greg is a camping klutz, while Sophie proves to be the practical one. They are spurred on by the many inspiring and eccentric characters they meet – including a forest activist living up a tree, an 18th-century woodsman, and a monk who spends his life walking barefoot through Queensland. 

Featuring eye-opening encounters with DIY downshifters and leading figures in sustainability, Changing Gears is a high-spirited adventure that explores an important question for the future: can we be happier with less?

I found this to be a highly enjoyable book!  I laughed out loud numerous times but also had moments of reflection comparing my own life and the materialism of it all.

~ Marsha

Welcome Home at Koo-Wee-Rup

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

This photograph from the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society shows the welcome home given to local boys, Les Cochrane, Bill Gilchrist and Billy McGree.
Les Cochrane (Service Number 2162) had enlisted May 2, 1916 at the age of 21. Les served in France and was twice wounded in action.  He Returned to Australia on February 15, 1918. Mr Cochrane later became a Cranbourne Shire Councillor and a Member of the Legislative Assembly - you can read more about him here.
William John Gilchrist, known as Bill (Service Number 1648) enlisted on January 13, 1916 at the age of 26. He was a farmer from Koo-Wee-Rup. After serving overseas,  Corporal Gilchrist Returned to Australia on January 31, 1918.  He was discharged on medical grounds on May 25, 1918 - his disability was listed as Myocarditis. Bill applied for a Soldier Settler block and was granted 40 acres (Allotments 106 and 119, Section 0, Parish of Koo-Wee-Rup East, off Little Road in Iona) in May 1921 but had to give up  the land due to his on-going ill health two years later. His application form said that he was receiving a pension of 14 shillings per week due to shell shock. You can read his full application here on the Public Records Office of Victoria Battle to Farm Soldier Settlement Records  website -http://soldiersettlement.prov.vic.gov.au/soldiers/a7-gilchrist-william-john/
Bill married Minnie Mary Ellen Forsyth in 1920. Bill lived to the age of 86 and died June 23, 1975;  Minnie died at the age of 81 August 9, 1983.
The third man in the photograph is William Francis McGree (Service Number 3110) Billy had enlisted on February 2, 1917 aged 23. He was a farm labourer and had been born in Launceston. Billy served overseas and was wounded in action (gun shot wound to left leg) in France. He Returned to Australia on February 15, 1918. Billy was given a Soldier Settlement Farm in 1918 and like William Gilchrist, had to give up his land in July 1921 due to ill health. His land was of 84 acres, Allotment 23a, Section J, Parish of Koo-Wee-Rup - off the Pakenham-Koo-Wee-Rup Road. You can see his full soldier settlement file at http://soldiersettlement.prov.vic.gov.au/soldiers/1179-12-mcgree-william-francis/
Billy married Elizabeth Margaret (Maggie) Neal in 1919.  Billy died in Ararat in 1957 aged 63. I can't find any reference to the death of Maggie.

This is the report from the Lang Lang Guardian of May 4, 1918 of the homecoming of  Les Cochrane, Bill Gilchrist and Billy McGree.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119515392

Happy People Read and Drink Coffee

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnès Martin-Lugand
translated by Sandra Smith

Diane is the owner of Happy People Read and Drink Coffee, a literary café in Paris. When her husband and daughter die in a car accident, her life is overturned and the world as she knows it instantly disappears. Trapped by her memories, she moves to a small town on the Irish coast. There she falls into a surprising and tumultuous romance with Edward, a taciturn photographer who lives next door.

I was so attracted to the title Happy People Read and Drink Coffee, but for me this book was a real let down as I could not connect with any of the main characters. 

Although I felt for Diane’s situation at having lost her husband and daughter in a terrible way, she really was the most sorry character in the book. Her ‘love interest’ Edward was just an angry person and didn’t seem to add anything to the story. The most entertaining character was Felix, her gay business partner. The whole book lacked a plausible story to it and left me wanting so much more.

I cannot understand how it is an international best seller, and apparently there's talk of taking it to the big screen; I think they would struggle to make a decent movie out of this book.

~ Janine

Rose's Vintage

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Rose's Vintage by Kayte Nunn

When she arrives in Australia, Rose Bennett is ready for change. She’s made an impulsive decision to leave the life she knows behind, and start again as an au pair at a struggling winery in Shingle Valley. She’s hoping to forget both the wintery English weather, and the ex who broke her heart to smithereens.

Things in Shingle Valley aren’t quite what Rose expected. The weather, for one, is disappointing: ‘Home and Away had a lot to answer for’, and while she immediately connects with the young children, winery owner Mark Cameron remains a (ridiculously handsome) enigma. Just as she starts to feel at home and make her mark on the winery and the family, Mark’s estranged wife Isabella returns and Rose realises that she’s on the cusp of getting everything she wants - and may be about to lose it all...

Why we love it: Rose’s Vintage is a treat for romance fans, with a charmingly normal heroine, a couple you’ll root for and a delectable winery setting.

~ from The Team at Better Reading

Limerick Arms Hotel and the O'Brien family, Nar Nar Goon

Links to our Past - history -

In 1983 Kathleen Fitzpatrick (1905 to 1990) wrote a book Solid Bluestone foundations:  memories of an Australian childhood. In it she talks about her great grandparents, Daniel and Brigid O'Brien, who lived at Nar Nar Goon. You can read more about Katlheen Fitzpatrick in the Australian Dictionary of Biography  here.
In the 1860s, Daniel and Brigid (nee Walsh) O’Brien built the Limerick Arms Hotel on the corner of Wilson Road and the Gippsland Road (now called the Princes Highway) at Nar Nar Goon. Daniel, Brigid and their daughter one year old daughter Ellen had arrived in Melbourne in September  1841 on the Forth. Also on the same ship were John and Betty Dore  and their children Edward, Thomas, Patrick , Ellen. In 1844, John Dore and Michael Hennessey took up the Mount Ararat Run at Nar Nar Goon of 1,900 acres. The partnership existed until 1855. Hennessey then moved to Dandenong and built the Bridge Hotel and later took over the Eumemmerring Hotel. In the 1860s, Dore purchased the 640 acre Mt Ararat pre-emptive right. He later purchased another 387 acres and his son Thomas 300 acres so they held a total of 1,300 acres. The property was later bisected by the railway line when it was built in 1877.

The Limerick Arms Photo from Solid Bluestone Foundations by Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Penguin 1986)
Back to the O'Briens  - Daniel was a builder and the plan was to work in Victoria for four years save enough money and then return home, as it was they never did return to Ireland. The family first went to Waurn Ponds near Geelong where Daniel worked as a builder. They then  decided to buy some land  - Waurn Ponds being too dry looking they decided to buy in Gippsland and brought a farm called The Swamp at Mt Ararat or Nar Nar Goon, perhaps they were influenced in this decision by the Dores. 

The O'Brien's  had more eight children - Michael James born 1843 at Saltwater; Patrick Francis 1845, Jeremiah Gerald 1846,  Johanna Mary 1848, Catherine, 1853 - these last four were born when they were at Nar Nar Goon. Bidelia Amelia 1853, Mary Ann 1856 and Daniel 1859 were born in North Melbourne*

Because the children needed an education the O'Briens moved back to town and built a house in North Melbourne so the children could go to school.  Daniel was again working as a builder but  his business partner stole the proceeds of the business and this forced the family to move back to Nar Nar Goon where they opened the Limerick Arms. This was  a success  as the Gippsland Road went as far as Sale and there was lots of traffic; it was also a Cobb and Co Coach stop.   The hotel also had  a reputation for being spotlessly clean and offering good meals. Every six months  a Priest would visit, and conduct a mass and also baptise any babies that needed  that sacrament.  The services were either held at the Limerick Arms or the Dore's House. 
A succession of tutors were employed by the O'Briens until they settled on Daniel Ahern. The O'Briens and the Dores also built a school on Mt Ararat Creek for their own children and the the neighbouring children and Daniel Ahern was the teacher. Mr Ahern later taught at Eumemmerring State School, later called Hallam State School from 1870 to 1890. you can read about this school here. Daniel was the father of James Joseph Ahern, Shire of Berwick Secretary from 1906 until 1948.

Daniel died in 1886 at the age of 82 and Brigid in 1888 at the age of  77. The Limerick Arms was delicensed in 1908 and the building has been demolished. The son of Daniel and Brigid, Michael and his wife Johanna (nee Mulcahy) opened the Nar Nar Goon Horel in 1883.

*The information about the O'Brien children comes from Early Settlers of the Casey Cardinia District by the Narre Warren & District Family History Group.

Wendy Whiteley & the Secret Garden

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Wendy Whiteley and the Secret Garden by Janet Hawley

For more than twenty years Wendy Whiteley has worked to create a public garden at the foot of her harbourside home in Sydney's Lavender Bay. This is the extraordinary story of how a determined, passionate and deeply creative woman has slowly transformed herself. Wendy Whiteley was Brett Whiteley's wife, muse and model.

I loved this book! It is not only filled with luscious photos of the Secret Garden, but is also gives insight into the area and the lives of two vibrant, creative Australians. 

Wendy Whiteley and artist Brett Whiteley had a unique relationship. She was his wife, muse and model and he was an extraordinary talent. Wendy also was an artist. She decided though, to relinquish her own art to encourage and support Brett’s career which had taken off. They lived as a working couple in a house at Lavender Bay which is on the North shore of Sydney Harbour. Some of Brett’s paintings of the harbour are from the living room. 

The area was not affluent back then and the NSW Railways owned the land between the railway line, which hugs the water line, and the house. Over the years this area became increasingly derelict; litter filled and covered in layer upon layer of weeds. After Brett’s death, and then their adored daughter Arkie’s death, Wendy began to clear the land. This was how she worked through her grief. After 20 years of determined tireless hard work, through torrential rain and with the help of a group of dedicated volunteers, Wendy’s Secret Garden began to flourish. 

Wendy’s Secret Garden is a public garden for anyone to visit, anytime, which I did in January. The harbour views and that of the bridge and Luna Park are breathtaking. The land has now been handed over to the North Sydney Council on a 30 year renewable lease, which has secured its future. What a wonderful story and I can’t wait to go back there!

~ Ali


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