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Eliyahu's Mistress by Roger Mendelson

Eliyahu’s Mistress
by Roger Mendelson

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven
(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Tantalising from the opening pages, Mendelson invites the reader to step into the worlds of Steven, Frances and Eliyahu on a glorious summer’s day in 2014 and journey with them through intertwined seasons of life and love. 

On one level this is the story of two worlds colliding, starting with an ordinary encounter in the world of business. Steven is a business and marketing consultant in possession of a keen sense of observation and a finely tuned ability to listen. He is a people person, easy to get to know and people warm to him readily. He also deals in details and his acute business brain trusts the evidence of his senses, what he can see, touch and hear. Steven lives a comfortable life in the city, a family man grateful for the efforts of past generations to forge a better life in Australia for his Jewish community. 

Frances is a retail director of a charity organisation run by the Catholic Church and the two meet when a mutual acquaintance proposes Steven’s pro bono input on Frances’ project. Away from work Frances loves to retreat to the tranquility of her country home on the city's edge which she shares now only with Elijah, her faithful dog. She is content in her own company and is happy to explore her nascent spirituality in the solitude of nature rather than leave her oasis to socialise. Discovering by chance that she is called ‘the Duchess’ by workers at the coal face because of her very proper manner and rather haughty demeanour, Steven suspects that while she presents as a Valkyrie on the outside a slinky, soft pussy cat may be hidden inside. Later, he will discover his expertise in awakening the Empress within who is yearning for release.

Their relationship shifts a gear while working beyond Melbourne on the project, after each reveals a little more about themselves to the other than they had intended. 

Phone conversations regarding the project become regular, more relaxed and weekly events during which each gets to know the other better through wide ranging and lengthy conversations. Previously conversation has been used by Frances as a transactional tool, a means to an end, but with Steven she discovers that everything about her is of interest to him. He listens to her, an easy familiarity building between them as they continue to make progress on the project. Frances enjoys the newfound sense of freedom which conversations with Steven unleash in her. Quiescent no more, she begins to blossom, her sense of self enlivened after a long period of dormancy. 

Similarly, Frances explores a side of Steven that he had not been fully aware of and which no one else had seemingly been interested in. His life to this point has been lived very much to a formula and within clearly defined rules and boundaries. Conversations and discussions with Frances intrigue and stimulate him. She unearths his spiritual side which has long lain fallow within and through her gentle ministrations Steven awakens to learn more about his deeper self. 

While Frances and Steven's initial business relationship moves hesitantly towards a lovers’ easy intimacy, their passion when eventually unleashed ignites explosively. A subtle tilt in the orbits of these polar-opposites may result in harmony of the spheres but a very real danger exists that they will instead crash and burn, leaving devastation in their wake. The course of their relationship is foreshadowed through conversation and premonition, while visual wordplay and heightened anticipation combine to raise the heart rate of the reader.

Mendelson skillfully portrays their private world, stripping them back to expose vulnerabilities and bare their souls.  Frances and Steven share the realisation that we are who we are because of those who went before us, buffeted by the impact of trauma as well as buoyed by joy. The spectres of World War 2 and the Holocaust hang over their pasts, and still cast a long shadow over the lives of the those who have been able to step into the light to ride a wave of optimism and freedom in the Lucky Country.

Autumn recurs as the turning point of sections within the book, a time for stripping bare to reveal the resilient core able to endure the harsh elements of nature. The seasons of life and love rewind and fast forward, the pages of history turn backwards and forwards, time takes its course in the human and the natural world.

Steven and Frances decide to step outside the constraints of courtship and engage in a metaphorical dance drawing inexorably towards a fiery conclusion.  The shades which colour their developing relationship are not monochrome but multihued and dazzling in their vitality, yet nuanced by trust and honesty.

The title invites the reader to speculate about who Eliyahu is, why he has a mistress and who she is. On the surface the answer is that her handsome hound, a Cavalier King Charles, is besotted by Frances. Named by her after Mendelssohn’s haunting piece of music Elijah, his name changes after Frances learns more about this biblical figure from Steven and the role his namesake Eliyahu plays in the Passover Seder ritual.

Echoes of the importance of changing a name to signify a change in destiny are buried deep with the religious DNA of both Jews and Christians. In Genesis 17, Abram becomes Abraham and his wife Sarai becomes Sarah, both are destined for life changing events on a grand scale. The biblical Elijah raised the dead, restoring life after all hope was gone - is there to be a renewal of life through the presence of another Elijah in Frances' previously dormant existence? 

Mendelssohn's Elijah is dramatic and messianic, heralding hope and a beautiful world ahead. In concert with his namesake, Mendelson harmonises the point and counterpoint of Frances and Steven’s individual and shared journeys into a life-affirming story about love, loss and gaining the ultimate prize.

Reviewed March 2017
Chris  McGuigan

Available from Sid Harta Publishers www.sidharta.com.au

East Coast Swaggie by Ted Day

East Coast Swaggie
by Ted Day

When Jack Kelly leaves behind his prestige Sydney home and idyllic harbourside views to retrace the path his grandfather followed to Mildura as a swaggie during the Great Depression, he says goodbye to his comfortable lifestyle, respected status in the business world,  and hardest of all his loving wife Kate. If he can complete the journey in the allotted time and adhere to the strict rules set down by his sponsor, Donny, Jack stands to raise half a million dollars for a very worthy cause. 

Jack initially resists the pressure of Donny's crazy challenge to walk in his grandfather's footsteps. But with Kate's blessing and the knowledge that the funds raised will provide genuine help through the work of the mission sponsored, he rolls his swag and heads South on a ten month odyssey.

With the aid of his grandfather's diary, Jack plots a replica route to revisit the towns where his grandfather sought work to send money back home to his struggling family. Jack must recreate the experience by hitching rides, carrying his swag, camping out and even wearing a swaggie 'uniform' so that he faithfully travels in his grandfather's footsteps. Author Ted Day has meticulously researched the settings and route to provide authenticity to this traveller's tale and brings the heartbreaking reality of the Depression era into sharp focus. 

East Coast Swaggie is much more than a cracking yarn about the perils and pleasures of a rich man reimagining the hardships of the many thousands of Australian men who took to the road during the Great Depression. It is a Quest story, with Jack as the gallant knight who travels far from home to seek an elusive goal, accompanied only by a faithful companion- in Jack's case a stray dog, Bluey. Along the journey he more often than not leaves a situation or town better than he finds it: he repairs and renews, rights wrongs, protects the downtrodden, takes the side of the underdog in a fight and delivers rough justice to toughs and wannabe crims. Jack faces many personal dangers along the way but through his wit, strength, skills and occasional backup from supporters he seems set to succeed in every challenge- or will he?

While Jack relies on both his brains and his fists to settle more than a few problems concerning corruption or violence, his journey is enriched by encounters with open and honest folk who restore his belief in the innate goodness of ordinary people. He has many opportunities along the road to use his raw talent without relying on his elite business identity and discovers much about himself, and his grandfather. His is an external and internal journey of discovery about his place in the world and his fellow travellers in life.

From a comfortable armchair, the reader can join Jack as he travels highways and byways, sleeping rough and doing it tough to connect with the past and face the challenges of a modern day swaggie. Carefully researched and brim full of engaging characters, East Coast Swaggie is a traveller's tale well told and sure to entertain readers ready for a journey with a difference. 

Reviewed by Chris McGuigan
Kensington Review

Available from Sid Harta Publishers www.sidharta.com.au

The Rarest Thing by Deborah O’Brien 

The Rarest Thing
by Deborah O'Brien

Sometimes beauties rich and rare are out of reach, sometimes they are hidden in plain sight. To see them all you need to do is focus.....

Palaeontology in 2016 conjures up images of Walking with Dinosaurs, Jurassic World and David Attenborough but in this 1966 setting the term has not been buffed by Hollywood to be readily recognised. Dr Katharine Wynter - Scaredy Kat to her two younger sisters - has found an academic niche in which to retreat for the past eight years, safe in the realm of extinct creatures. She prefers her solitary existence to the social whirl of her sisters and shrinks away from males, except perhaps her heroes on the silver screen.

Her father once fossicked for fossils, sparking Katharine’s childhood interest in unlocking the secrets of the past and launching her academic career in palaeontology. Katharine is self-effacing at home and at work, filled with doubt about her worth and forced into subjugation at the university.  Her ‘ivory tower’ is ruled by the old boys’ club of wealth, privilege and patriarchy. She is a rarity, and well aware of the precarious position of women who secure academic roles. Her outstanding research on the long extinct snaggle-tooth possum, Burramys, has resulted in employment but not brought the sense of security she craves.

Katharine has a lively imagination, with her interior world much more glamorous than her fibro home in Belmore would suggest. She sometimes thinks of herself as Ella Cinders, helpless and dirty at the mercy of her stepmother, waiting for Prince Charming to arrive.

Life in the turbulent times of the Vietnam War and ‘All the Way with LBJ’ is passing her by.  Around her, university students are responding to calls for a better world and ignite activism to achieve it. On campus and at home Katharine quells sparks of unrest falling all around her although the times they are indeed ‘a-changing’. She is determined to remain inconspicuous, safe below the radar - until a photograph arrives of a tiny possum found inside the Melbourne University ski lodge at Mount Hotham. Burramys is extant, not extinct, and Katharine is ecstatic!

As Katharine embarks on a scientific quest to investigate the unlikely existence of an ‘extinct’ possum in the rugged High Country of Victoria, she also begins her own journey of self-discovery. The hidden beauty of the Burramys is revealed through a combination of patience and risk taking and parallels the emergence of Katharine from her chrysalis.

Scott King is the professional wildlife photographer who captures images of the rescued Burramys and is in turn captivated by the quest to locate the tiny possum in the wild. From their first meeting Katharine regards him as too good to be true but agrees to join him on a scientific expedition to Mount Hotham. Scott has movie-star good looks and charm (Chris Hemsworth would be perfect in this role on the big screen!), affects no airs or graces, and appears to be oblivious to the effect he has on girls. Katharine anticipates that she will be disappointed in the real Scott King but is unprepared for the aftermath of his return to the High Country town of his childhood.

Katharine’s imagination suggests that Scott’s glossy exterior harbours dark secrets within. Does he hide behind the camera lens and travel the world to outpace demons, or is he the genuine knight in shining armour Katharine never thought would enter her life? She fancifully compares their journey to that of Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn aboard the African Queen, but the reality is far from a Hollywood formula.  Locating the elusive Burramys in the wild begins instead to take on aspects of a grail quest, with the ski lodge standing in for the Chapel Perilous and Scott as Percival. Katharine must put aside her pre-conceived ideas about Scott and focus on combining their complementary skills if the unlikely duo are to achieve their goal.

Inspired by an historical event, O’Brien has woven a fictional tale around the rediscovery of the Burramys which breathes life into what might have been another scientific curiosity. The story unfolds in Sydney, Melbourne, and the High Country of Victoria where each setting provides a sense of place, power or purpose for the characters of the novel.

The possum is the focus of the story, yet appears so rarely, acting as a poignant reminder of the fragility of life. In pursuit of the possum Katharine faces challenges she would rather retreat from, but begins to see herself through a different lens. Scott’s journey towards trust reveals layers of complexity which he has worked hard to conceal. The lyric beauty and devastating power of the High Country permeates the narrative and functions as an additional character bearing an abundance of nature’s gifts. Wild, wonderful, evocative and full of surprises the landscape is presented by O’Brien through a painter’s perceptive eye and photographer’s skilful use of light and focus.

O’Brien’s meticulous attention to detail through painstaking research adds to the authenticity and enjoyment of the experience of stepping back into the 1960s.  Social commentary concerning the changes within Australian society in the decades after the Second World War is cleverly woven into the fabric of the narrative. Glimpses of the fashions, transport, politics and ephemera of the time are nostalgic yet a reminder of constant change amid constancy. Analogue television and AM radio shows, music on vinyls, hair curlers and Carnaby Street–style white boots propel the reader into a vibrant world on the edge of the Age of Aquarius.

The continuity of traditions privileging the establishment and patriarchy, the resultant imbalance of power and structural inequities of Australia in the 1960s provide the backdrop to Katharine’s world. Her academic exploitation is a powerful example of women being viewed at the time as lesser citizens, students, employees and researchers where an expectation of underachievement compared to males prevails. Katharine’s character is locked into this world. She lacks agency and exudes a sense of loss, of a future already laid down stratum by stratum. Until the Burramys appears on centre stage!

Skilful use of flashback casts light into the shadowy corners of Katharine's past, gradually assembling the scattered shards of memory into a quarry which she can look squarely in the eye and face on equal terms. Through this technique Katharine's past is gradually revealed and the reader challenged to solve the puzzle until all the pieces fall into place. Or do they?

The title of the book tantalises the reader – what is the rarest thing? The Burramys who acts as the catalyst for the story is indeed a rare creature, and may act as a different metaphor for each reader. O’Brien includes an aphorism by Oscar Wilde in the opening pages of the book:
‘To live is the rarest thing in the world.
Most people exist, that is all.’

The Rarest Thing intrigues, entertains and invites the reader to ponder where their own life journey may take them. Dive into this latest book from internationally acclaimed author Deborah O’Brien and join Dr Katharine Wynter and Scott King as they quest for hidden beauties, rich and rare.

Reviewed by Chris McGuigan
Kensington Review  www.kensingtonreview.net

The Rarest Thing by Deborah O’Brien  (signed gift edition paperback or ebook) is available direct from Lomandra Press: www.lomandrapress.com.au

Visit Deborah O'Brien's website www.deborahobrien.com.au for further inspiration and information :)

The Trivia Man by Deborah O'Brien

The Trivia Man

by Deborah O'Brien

Deborah O'Brien has crafted and polished another gem for readers to cherish, impossible to put down and guaranteed to warm your heart and fire synapses in your brain.

Ever wondered what the collective noun for trivia buffs is? A tragedy? A triumph? A tally? Perhaps all three are apt for the trivia team cast at the core of Deborah O'Brien's newest release. Strutting their stuff at a local sports club every Tuesday night, they flex their grey matter to participate in a competition presided over by the Professor and Miss Kitty, the faded stars of a long forgotten TV quiz show. Over the 12 weeks of the competition we come to know each of the Trivia Man's team members, catching glimpses of their inner lives and snapshots of their earlier selves which reveal their hopes and dreams, their disappointments and difficulties.

Kevin, the eponymous Trivia Man, is a forensic accountant - nothing to do with dead bodies, he assures a flirtatious and fleeting acquaintance. Kevin lives alone, absorbed by his unusual interests and focused on his performance as a one man band in multiple trivia quizzes. He knows that he should be more sociable but his idiosyncrasies are not usually accepted by others, and he is content with his solitary pursuits and well-ordered existence.

Maggie is a high school teacher of a certain age who has made some interesting life choices. On most nights she is alone at home marking papers or watching movies, wine glass in hand, while Rufus her faithful hound keeps her company. She has purpose and meaning in her life but that doesn't stop her being wistful about missed opportunities. Maggie's colleague Carole and her egotistical husband Edward are established trivia buffs who are keen to coax Maggie and her storehouse of movie knowledge to join their team. Mei Zhen and Ash complete the team by adding their own personal and specialist skills but tensions simmer under the surface and sparks may ignite.

Kevin's sister Elizabeth has experienced a lifetime of embarrassment and exasperation over her older brother's odd behaviour and quirky interests. She admonishes him for his trivia quiz and other obsessions and tries to prevent his idiosyncratic behaviour from influencing that of her eight year old son, Patrick. But more than their shared interest in computers and tides, it is their shared genetic inheritance that worries Elizabeth. The bond between Uncle Kevin and nephew Patrick supports them both in different ways- what will be the consequence of Elizabeth's demand that it be severed?

The Trivia Man combines humour, pathos, and fascinating trivia with cleverly drawn characters who intrigue and invite the reader to view the world from their perspective. Through flashback and tantalising vignettes the panorama widens in space and time, compelling us to read on. A bonus is the inclusion of the argy- bargy of the trivia quizzes, including questions (and answers!).  Deborah O'Brien has indeed crafted and polished another gem for readers to cherish along with her trilogy of treasures: The Jade Widow, Mr Chen's Emporium and A Place of Her Own.

Reviewed by Chris McGuigan

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Across Time and Space by Mala Naidoo

Across Time and Space

By Mala Naidoo 


Be careful what you wish for.......


Meryl inhabits the world of literature, and harbours a burning desire to discover if her dormant talent can be unleashed to create literature instead of publishing the work of others. Her partner Michael is a passionate human rights lawyer, determined to eliminate injustice and alleviate suffering using the slow moving but effective machinery of law. Drifting through life together for 14 years, the creative, impulsive extrovert and the cautious, cool-headed legal-eagle have somehow not yet found the right time to discuss the important topic of commitment.


Meryl decides to change the dynamics in her life and heads to London for a three month writing sojourn. She is welcomed by her elderly Uncle Ben, who shares her love of literature and understands her need to search for her writing muse. Although distressed at her determination to initiate this 'break', Michael accepts Meryl's decision to quest for her own holy grail. He concedes that with a complex and lengthy human rights case looming he will be buried in his own work for the coming months. By either skyping or telephoning they will speak to each other almost every day anyway, so what could go wrong? 


At opposite ends of the globe, Meryl and Michael find unexpected opportunities to examine what is important to them and ultimately test the strength of their relationship. Each has to make a decision which will determine the direction this crossroads will take them- will it be together or alone? 


Meryl taps into what seems on the surface to be a well of carefree creativity in Florence while back home Michael discovers how an indomitable spirit can triumph over adversity. Add in a mysterious Russian, a captivating and beautiful client, an isolated country villa and loss of phone contact and the pace picks up to breakneck speed.


Mala Naidoo has spun a web of intrigue where the past entangles the present and her characters face a dangerous and uncertain future. It's easy to be swept away by this tale of romance, adventure and mystery and a sequel is eagerly awaited! 


Reviewed by Chris McGuigan, January 2017

Kensington Review





Leaf by Leaf by James Martin

Leaf by Leaf
by James Martin

Leaf by Leaf introduces an impressive cast of intriguing characters through skilful wordplay and masterful use of the sonnet.  As in Martin’s earlier work, Short Eternities, the reader is once more treated to a ballet of syllables and rhymes which dance and delight across sixteen lines to choreograph a portrait-poem per page.

Turning the pages of Leaf by Leaf is akin to metaphorically turning the leaves of a photograph album, with each page bringing forth a new portrait to examine, sketched vividly and effortlessly in blank (but never boring) verse.

Martin provides a clue to the leaf motif in the very first poem, Claudia:

 “I shall be your verdant leaf
  Untroubled by the breeze”

In the final poem, Father, he wistfully observes that:

“The leaf which once was green and fresh
  Is fallen, on its way
  To union with the cosmic mesh-
  Empathic, sentient, gay.”

In between these bookends each character struts their time upon the sixteen-line stage of their eponymous sonnet, capturing a brief moment in time or perhaps encountering eternity in an hour. They audition for the reader’s attention, employing classical and medieval allusions, biblical references and a range of poetic devices which engage the reader’s imagination and often their sympathy or sense of humour.

Martin pays homage to poetry of the past, including Walt Whitman’s own Leaves of Grass, and sprinkles syllables redolent of music, art and spirituality amongst the vernacular of popular culture. Pathos and humour are created in vignettes of characters perhaps known to the poet in the past, the present or the imagination. While some of these characters entice the reader to explore the dark night of the soul, it is the irrepressible sense of fun which Martin’s poems exude which creates the lasting impressions of these leaves.

Deadly sins colour the palette used to render Barry:

“Such pride I envy, sloth alive
In gluttony of love-
When avarice for truth makes five,
If push must come to shove.”

Shakespearean sparkle springs from Ado:

’Much Ado about nothing!’ you
So brilliantly exclaim;
And yet I reckon bards could do
Far worse than quote your name.”

Martin is a master wordsmith, able to condense eternity into a couplet or expand a fleeting moment into an aeon. Leaf by Leaf is a book to dip into and emerge enlivened, intrigued, amused, bemused or perhaps enjoy the resultant simultaneous synergy!

Reviewed by Chris McGuigan
Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Available from Sid Harta Publishers www.sidharta.com.au

Short Eternities by James Martin

Short Eternities
By James Martin

Short Eternities captures both the playful spirit of James Martin's skilful wordplay as well as the deeper levels of soulful self-examination. His mastery of the sonnet is expressed through the ballet of syllables and rhymes which dance and delight across the lines of each page. Martin finds inspiration for poetry in life and love, in friendship and in felines, in humour and in humanity, moving with ease from the realms of the divine to those of the everyday.

Echoes of Keats, Pope, Byron, Eliot and Hopkins ring through Martin's poems which also resonate with Shakespearean style and Spenserian sparkle. Classical allusions, biblical references and an occasional medieval troubadour nestle cosily alongside icons of popular culture and style. Rhythm and rhyme are well-employed to effortlessly weave word-pictures of perhaps a moment captured in time, a paean to a loved one, an expression of deep spiritual yearning or reflections of the responsibilities of being a cat lover:

'And though I walk through death's dark vale, I shall
Continue feeding Lucy … chum and pal!'

Martin possesses a rare skill in being able to use sophisticated and superb poetic forms to examine topics as diverse as a game of chess, sunbathing, the dark night of the soul, love eternal, and the majesty and mayhem of his cats. He approaches his poetry with technical discipline, a vast store of literary knowledge and skill, a deep yearning to understand the human condition, and an irrepressible sense of fun as shown in using an oxymoron as the title.

Martin hints that his poetry has an incipient life of its own, ready to leap onto the page and await the reader:

'A far off place, in time and space and heart –
The street I sometimes walked, and sometimes passed –
Now wants to be a poem, and depart
This page a known quantity, at last.'

Short Eternities is presented in sections with an intriguing variety of titles such as ‘Autumn’, ‘Sophia’, ‘This Day’, ‘Winter Butterflies’ and ‘Sixty Sexy Sonnets’ which invite the reader to dip in and enjoy a leisurely lyrical encounter at a pace to suit the available time and mood. Certainly a volume to have nearby to pick up often and turn to as to a good friend, guaranteed to stimulate, bring a smile and an escape from the madding crowd. 

Reviewed by Christine McGuigan July 2015
Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Published Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

Adaptation by Rosemary Holmes

By Rosemary Holmes

 “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” wrote L.P. Hartley in 1953 in the opening line in The Go-Between. And while much that is foreign may be charming and quaint for a brief holiday exposure, to truly gain an understanding of another world both time and a talented interpreter are required. In Adaptation, Rosemary Holmes’ skilful narrative provides the interpretive links which connect generations of the fictional Nelson family across the early and middle decades of the twentieth century, bringing a rural Victorian past into focus for the 2016 reader.

The opening scene of Adaptation is grandson Martin Nelson’s 1964 graduation ceremony, where three generations of Nelsons have gathered to celebrate the award of the first agricultural degree in the family. Martin and his proud sisters Clara and Tania feel a great sense of belonging at Kartorr, the family farm.  They have enjoyed their involvement in this close-knit farming community and been nurtured by their family’s long association with the land, but sense change is in the air.  It doesn’t take long for Martin’s vision to be fixed firmly on a different future for the Nelsons, involving bold  plans for changes to modernise Kartorr. While Martin is intent on diversification, backed by his Pa, his father Jim is content to cling to methods he’s always known, confident his ways are best.

Holmes highlights some of the different roles which rural women played in Australian society during these decades through her portrayal of characters such as Nelson matriarch Sophie, daughter-in-law Louise and granddaughters Clara and Tania.  Sophie’s 1930s Depression era stories of swaggies working for food and their secret codes for compassionate farmsteads have all but disappeared. Louise’s crafty solution to boosting the family income mirrors the energetic creativity and business acumen which many country women have discovered in response to devastating stock and crop losses at nature’s whim. Clara and Tania leave Kartorr, the home they love, during the turbulent 1960s. They face triumph and tragedy, love and loss as they carve out careers and create city identities in Melbourne.

In each generation both the men and women in the Nelson family strive to adapt to the ever-changing roles they find forced upon them by the march of time. Their struggles parallel those of many Australians in that foreign country of the past, which now seems so distant. Holmes has had access to her own family records and uses this first-hand knowledge to cleverly anchor the Nelson family in an authentic social, cultural and historical context. She uses real-life examples such as the unsettling introduction of both the metric system and decimal currency, the promise held out by the Ord River scheme, the regular arrival and departure of interchangeable jackaroos, and the novelty of ‘farm stay’ holidays (which Louise discovers are anathema to Jim!) to demonstrate the necessity of adaptation as a response to change.

Holmes pays tribute to the resilience of our farming communities through her depiction of the Nelsons and their stoic adaptation to all that life hurls at them.  Adaptation is an absorbing and entertaining read which serves both a time-capsule of rural Australian life and a reminder that change, expected or unexpected, is a constant in our lives no matter what era we live in.

 Reviewed by Chris McGuigan  Sept 2016

Kensington Review

Available from Sid Harta Publishers www.sidharta.com.au

The Convict and the Soldier by John F.P.Lynch

The Convict and the Soldier
by John F. P. Lynch
Felon or free man, victor or vanquished, convict or soldier are often merely labels applied by society which a reversal of fortune or shift in political power can readily rearrange.  Beneath these labels, over centuries and across continents people have always shared hopes of success and dreamed of an uncomplicated life where their families can be rewarded with peace, prosperity and a place to call home.  

The soldier of the title, John, and the convict, Michael, both depart Ireland in 1853 on terms not of their choosing.  From opposite sides of the law they seek a better world where identity is based on more than the ability to wield power and prejudice does not reign supreme. In the Antipodes, can opportunity and hard work really shake off Old World identity and permit a man's true worth to shine through?

Lynch has crafted a compelling tale of triumph over adversity set against a backdrop of colonial Australian history. With astonishing attention to detail and painstaking research he has broken through the usual veneer of one dimensional historical characters to present a richness of context and depth of connection with their world not often found in historical fiction.

Lynch brings into focus the people behind the labels and the uniforms. He entwines fact and fiction with the discipline of an historian and enlivens the past through a successful combination of imagination and restraint.  The reader becomes immersed in the tale of the convict and the soldier through detailed descriptions of heartbreaking experiences such as Irish tenant evictions, absorbing onboard accounts of the long sea journey to Van Dieman's Land endured by convicts, their captors and settlers alike, and the 'new normal' daily life under wide colonial skies.

Love, loss and a land of opportunity provide fiery elements for a life-changing journey for the convict and the soldier, and an enjoyable armchair adventure for the reader.

Reviewed by Chris McGuigan
Kensington Review  www.kensingtonreview.net   
Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

The Extraordinary Adventure of Clancy MacTaggart by Brett Hallam

The Extraordinary Adventure of Clancy MacTaggart
                                                by Brett Hallam
Going to work with mum or dad when you are a pre teen is usually restricted to those occasions when school is closed or supervision is not available and staying home alone is not an option. But when Clancy's dad Mac unexpectedly suggests that he join him at work instead of going to school Clancy can hardly believe his luck. Little does he suspect when he climbs into the family car beside his dad that this red desert road in South Australia will take Clancy towards the ride of his life!
Mac wants Clancy to witness history in the making, however the chain of unforeseen events which will ricochet into Woomera are about to unravel Mac's carefully ordered world on a cosmic scale.  Clancy is thrust into the hot seat to valiantly attempt to save the day, and perhaps humanity. But can he save himself?  Clancy discovers that he is cool beyond his years, surprisingly calm in the face of danger, and accepts challenges beyond anything he has ever experienced in the school playground.
Readers will happily suspend disbelief to join Clancy on a Boys' Own adventure that is sure to excite the imagination of any teen/young reading enthusiast. The twists and turns of the fast paced plot take the reader along on a rollicking adventure, sharing the highs and lows of this extraordinary journey with likeable characters and intriguing scenarios.
In the vein of John Marsden and Matthew Riley, Hallam has conjured a captivating tale about an excellent adventure which grips the imagination and catapults the reader into Clancy's extraordinary adventure.
Reviewed by Chris McGuigan
Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Olive, Julie and the Ice Cream Man by Fay Rosewarn

                  Olive, Julie and the Ice Cream Man 
                                       by Faye Rosewarn  

Olive, Julie and the Ice Cream Man traces the overlapping life journeys of characters as they encounter adventure, love, loss and the misery resulting from flawed relationships. Through twelve separate but synchronous fictional stories, Faye Rosewarn documents the havoc which drugs and alcohol inflict on individuals, families and society, sometimes over generations.
Rosewarn presents multiple perspectives in her stories, both professional and non professional, as well as a non judgmental examination of dysfunctional families. Through strong characterization she highlights the insidious role played by substance abuse in creating and perpetuating dysfunction. Rosewarn hopes that in writing these stories she will promote greater understanding of the destructive power of drugs and alcohol.
Olive, Julie and the Ice Cream Man from the title of the book are characters who feature in the first and longest story. Olive has received very little kindness in her life, her wistful tale of adventure and abuse compounded by enabling her abuser. She is fear-filled yet yearning for change. Julie and the Ice Cream Man provide Olive with opportunities and challenges, which are not resolved easily. Damaged by the spiraling abusive and destructive relationships throughout her life, Olive's potential is not nurtured but instead is exploited and crushed. She is puzzled that hard work does not always result in rewards, sometimes it results in tears. While Olive is forever hopeful that life can and will improve, she also recognizes her own capacity for self delusion.
Rosewarn seems compelled to write the stories of Olive and others for whom life has taken torturous twists and turns. Her purpose in writing is clearly stated: "My request to the reader is that, on completion of the reading, you may think about your own situation in life, or another's, and seek the truth and educate. It is my great desire that if only one person reads this story and makes some changes, then my job is done."
Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

Book of the Weak by Joe Reich

 Book of the Weak
  by Joe Reich

Moss Lane is the anti-hero of this wonderfully witty and wry account of a week in the life of a quirky Melbourne GP. His exploits range from the pillaging of contents of a Gold Coast conference hotel to the ironic denouement back in the hospital where Moss trained as a resident.

On the surface a straight forward narrative, Moss' humorous yet poignant life story is told over the blurred course of a surreal week by two narrators, using the device of a book within a book. Quarry, the airport book which Moss selected en route from the Gold Coast conference overlays Moss' story like a dust jacket. Layers of complexity and vivid characters are added as the adult Moss reinterprets events of his childhood and realizes that while lack of insight may veil the present, the past can never be erased.

The motif of sight is subtly present throughout the novel. As a child Moss witnesses but does not understand the dynamics of his parents' relationship and into adulthood remains blind to their inner lives. Moss' father Charlie, having fled from Poland prior to World War 2, sees Stalin as the workers' hero long after the facade has fallen. Like one of Dr Lane's most tenacious patients, Mrs Trevis, who demands, "I am one of his oldest patients. Why won't you let me see him?", Charlie blindly clings to an illusion. Moss' wife Sandra clearly perceives the debris of their dysfunctional relationship but prefers dissemblance and architectural indulgence to truth.

Lack of insight, personal and professional, is shared by the characters of Moss and Jaxxson Jackson, the protagonist of Quarry. Jaxxson blithely wanders through a ‘bogan’ landscape filled with quarries and quarrels. His journey acts as a darkly comic counterpoint to Moss' attempts to keep calm and carry on. Jaxxson's lack of insight into his own life has hilarious consequences, with the scales falling from his professional life at "Sparkle Eyes" whilst in the throes of all sorts of dubious activities. He consequently leaves Melbourne to head for a rather formulaic ending in Queensland, right where Moss' unravelling began.

Book of the Weak captures the tragedy of unrequited love and secrets kept through three generations of the Lane family. Throughout the novel, Reich manages to cleverly sustain the mood of black humour yet successfully evokes the fine balance between light and shadow in this comedy of manners. Barry the cosmetic surgeon who moonlights as a GP with Moss so that he can spot potential "patients", Sandra, Moss' long suffering wife with her own escape protocol, together with the formidable receptionist, Jenny, all formed the solid core of Moss' world. As these relationships founder, so too does Moss' grip on reality, and the measured pace of the early novel accelerates to the climax of the final tableau.

Just as the book cover features an image of Luna Park which Moss associates with Goya's Saturn devouring a child, so too does Reich combine malpractice, migraine and mirth with the deeper quest for meaning lost in the superficiality of life. As Moss reaches out to connect with the faith traditions of his father, a parking ticket and fate intervene to pose a challenge which forces Moss to acquiesce to the inevitable.

Clever, comic and confronting this novel presents layers of complexity which amuse and entertain on the surface while beneath the stiller waters secrets and sight await the skimming stone.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

 Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

Snakes and Ladders by Joan Krohn

Snakes and Ladders
by Joan Krohn

Sometimes life seems like a game, where throws of the dice move you upwards and onwards and others hurl you back down. Snakes and Ladders provides a nostalgic glimpse into a finely drawn pre-World War II era and beyond, starting with childhood memories of author Joan Krohn vividly brought to life.

Cocooned in the loving household of her Pa and Nan, Krohn was uneasily aware at a very young age of estrangement from her own mother. Following throws of a fickle dice master, she was eventually able to live with her mother, then with her gentle Pa, ending up finally in rural Victoria with less than welcoming relatives.

These were tough times in Australia, when widespread fear of invasion and shortages created by World War II impacted upon everyone. Even the tiny town where Krohn went to school while she lived uneasily with relatives was favoured by armed forces for bivouac training, bringing the war quite literally to her doorstep.

Home life for Krohn was a trial. She was treated as a servant by her formidable aunt and her mistreatment received no intervention from either her reticent uncle or the cousin who bore her no malice. Her aunt held strong religious convictions which created barriers along denominational lines, with everyone not on her own side consigned to perdition. Although simple times in many ways, tribal divides created by religion were not to be crossed and could inflict more harm than a serpent. There is aching poignancy in the religious issues so pivotal in the lives of Krohn's parents' generation which now rarely raise even an eyebrow.

At school Krohn was a clever student who made friends easily.  Even as a young girl she was lauded for her beautiful singing voice wherever she went and her gift was an enduring source of joy. Music is everywhere in Krohn's memoirs and echoes of meaningful songs punctuate the book. Like a musical score, the title of every chapter relates to a song, underscored with the composer's name.

For a time Krohn experienced happy times in Melbourne as a young teacher, always finding ladders of kindness and opportunities to move ahead. She discovered that first love may sometimes never be really replaced, and endured difficult family life in an abusive relationship. When she finally located the right ladder she found the courage to leap towards opportunity.

Snakes and Ladders recalls a past era in both its harshness and its innocence. Krohn has created an exquisite time capsule of Australian history, complete with music, memories, joy and sadness which will resonate with many readers who identify in Krohn's experiences the throw of the dice in their own family's history.

Reviewed by Chris McGuigan  May 2016

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

Lalor's Lore by Kerry Hill

Lalor's Lore
by Kerry Hill
Nick Lalor's entertaining reflection on his undercover, national and international crime fighting career uses a laconic turn of phrase and hilarious colourful 'ockerisms'. His narrative sits perfectly in place and time in the long history of Australia's boys in blue. Lalor's Lore should be a must read for that other iconic fictional character, Rake, whose romps through the courts, lock ups and seedy sights are matched by Lalor' s rollicking warts-and-all, tell-all, tale of life in the '70s and '80s of keeping the streets safe for law abiding citizens. 

Colourful characters and their exploits- or is that sexploits?- pepper the pages of this dizzying hilarious tale of the rise and rise of Tasmanian lad Nick Lalor.  From humble beginnings as the wet behind the ears young Constable in an isolated west coast and slightly weird one horse town  learning the ropes of policing where the lines of justice and expedience sometimes  blur, 'Lethal'  Lalor is propelled across this wide brown land into the dizzying and dangerous fast lane of life as an undercover narc.

Working with Sandy the 'Sandman', Tom The Pom, Ferret the informer and Stormy Weather the good hearted lady of the night, Lalor manages to chalk up an impressive score in a world of high stakes and danger where staying alive is not always part of the role description. Humour abounds throughout his tale, including the circumstances of Sergeant Clarence's meteoric rise through the ranks-and the tanks- of the constabulary before seeking greener pastures.

The laconic larrikin element is central to Lalor's tale but beneath the black humour and haze of alcohol and good time girls the burden of responsibility of holding the line between crims and the ordinary punter can be glimpsed. Nick occasionally makes a  Captain's Call in the way a situation is handled, particularly if it involves young girls who have been duped or drug lords who may be about to weasel their way out of a charge. He also recognises the way the world works where he has seen power and money work magic and values the mateship and shared worldview of his colleagues who see life in the raw through a grimy unpolished window. 

Lalor's Lore  presents a nostalgic glimpse of Australia before political correctness and provides both an entertaining read and stimulus for discussion of contemporary crime fighting, after the howls of laughter abate. 

Reviewed by Chris McGuigan November 2015
Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Published Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

A Secret Life by Frank Spencer

A Secret Life
 by Frank Spencer

A Secret Life explores the fictional life journey of Richard Sinclair. Sinclair has led an interesting life, taking every opportunity offered and learning incredible life skills along the way. Inspired as a young boy by a cousin who had served in World War II, he played war games, leading his school mates in spirited battles. His enthusiasm for life led him to take up swimming, judo, and kayaking, and he joined the army cadets at school as soon as he was old enough.

Sinclair’s life journey takes him through times of joy and success as well as profound sadness and vulnerability. Although he may not realise it, even through the dark times as Richard works to overcome loss and find new hope he is still learning new skills that will serve him in the future.

When life takes a turn for the better, old friends make their way back into Sinclair's life. Through his professional success, he stumbles into a dangerous and tightly woven nest of crime and corruption, making more than one enemy. Sinclair must draw on all the skills he has built over his lifetime, and work with old friends and new to save his own life and protect his loved ones.

A Secret Life offers an engaging tale of one man using the culmination of his extraordinary life skills and the power of friendship and love to take on the biggest battles of all.

Reviewed by Kate Somerville July 2015
Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

The Sunny Side of the Street by Maria Stephanidis

The Sunny Side of the Street
By Maria Stefanidis

Harry Dimitriou has travelled from his homeland of Cyprus to Australia in search of a new life for his family. As he works hard and begins to prepare a life and home for his wife Martha and two children, Martha struggles to leave her family and tiny village. On the journey to Victoria tragedy strikes and the combination of grief and culture shock prevents Martha from truly embracing the freedom and opportunities their new life offers. 

Meanwhile, Harry and his daughter, Cinda, have made lifelong friends with widowed teacher, Ruth, across the road. Ruth takes them under her wing, but she has secrets of her own. 
Tragedy, and mystery, strike the family once again and Cinda travels back to the village in Cyprus to visit her mother’s family. Here she uncovers many of the secrets her mother has been holding on to. As mysteries are solved at last, and ghosts laid to rest, our characters find their paths forward to new happiness.

 In The Sunny Side of the Street, Maria Stefanidis immerses us in the small town village life of Cyprus, as well offering us a view into the lives of the post war immigrants in Australia, wrapped in an engaging story of overcoming guilt and tragedy and courageous new beginnings.

Reviewed by Kate Somerville Aug 2015
Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

The Sunny Side of the Street by Maria Stefanidis
Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

The Golden Man by David Crawford

The Golden Man
by David Crawford
Dr Devale Denton is focused on the injustice of the breakdown of his career and marriage. Mavis is working an old gold mine while her husband Clarry is working his way to the bottom of a bottle. A chance meeting picks up the unlikely trio and sweeps them along in a twisting turning journey amid the local criminal underbelly. Everyone wants to get their hands on The Golden Man, and many are prepared to kill whoever they need to along the way.

Career criminal Jack Sammalano is the puppet master arranging matters to his own advantage, embroiling and blackmailing Dr Denton and kidnapping Mavis. As he drags more and more of his criminal and corrupt stakeholders into his dealings, violent power struggles and deadly grudges continually shift the balance of power.

David Crawford builds his story around his characters discovering their personal strengths and the power of friendship and shared interests. Dr Denton and Mavis must use compassion and empathy, as well as wit and bravery, to survive unimaginable danger.
Who will come out alive and who will walk away with the Golden Man?

Reviewed by Kate Somerville June 2015
Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Published Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

Beyond Tipping Point by Andrew Dyhin

Beyond Tipping Point
by Andrew Dyhin
Reading Beyond Tipping Point is like diving into an investigative journalist’s Walkley award winning exposé on geo-political intrigue and corruption, about real life events occurring right now! Fast paced action, engaging characters and a tightly structured plot propel the reader to devour the what if ? scenario Andrew Dyhin presents and eagerly await a sequel.

This up to the minute eco-thriller charts an action packed course of twists and turns for central character and media mogul Timothy Wiley and his team, where business acumen and romance align in a brief window between uncertainty and opportunity. Wiley must act decisively to keep his ship and his company afloat as shadowy global political interests attempt to silence his efforts to explore unexplained catastrophic events occurring in the Southern Ocean.

The power of social media is more than fictional, and Dyhin creates a scenario where people power is pivotal to effect positive change on a global scale. But uneasiness behind the harnessing of this power is palpable–are we being manipulated by social media? Where does the real power to control the flow of information lie? Is a puppeteer pulling our strings?

Sabotage, murder sanctioned at state level, data deception and energy hijacking are not usually associated with discussion of global warming and climate change but Dyhin presents a fascinating alternative 2015 where a what if? parallel reality is both thought-provoking and entertaining. Guaranteed to make you think twice about the future of renewable energy and the inevitable power-plays of global interests.

Reviewed by Chris McGuigan July 2015
Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

Cyrus by Kiri Tsitouridis

By Kiri Tsitouridis
The action in Cyrus moves between the two worlds millennia apart inhabited by Steen, a troubled teenager living in a dysfunctional family in an outer suburb of contemporary Melbourne. An angry young man who prides himself on his unbeaten street fighting prowess, Steen finds his dream-state alter ego, Cyrus, entangled in the final stages of the Trojan War. Side by side with Achilles, Agamemnon and many other revered Greek heroes, Cyrus/Steen experiences the exhaustion, fear, bloodlust and enormity of war at its most eulogized. Steen's Greek heritage seamlessly connects him to a parallel time and place where fighting skills were highly prized and warfare was governed by rules, and where his own code of honour fits in.

Tsitouridis brings Greek mythology to life in a world where gods and goddesses reveal themselves to mortals and wield magical powers, intervening in earthly affairs which amuse, enrage or otherwise interest them. Over the years Steen revisits the ancient Greek world in his dreams and as he grows from angry adolescence, through the rebellion and risk-taking of youth and into a more stable period or responsibility the lessons learned by his counterpart Cyrus steer Steen towards control of his destiny.

A coming of age story with a difference, Cyrus shows how crucial it is to know your place in society, to know the rules which govern honourable behaviour in love, war, family and friendship, and to follow these rules to prevent mindless violence and chaos from disrupting order in society. And while Steen takes time to learn where he fits in, even the actions of great Achilles are guided by his own moral compass, not the expectations of society.

A knowledge of Greek mythology is not essential to enter into the world of Cyrus, but readers with an interest in Homer, Heroes and History will enjoy the parallel stories of Steen and Cyrus and recognise the age-old interconnected issues of victory, valour and violence explored by Tsitouridis.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Cyrus by Kiri Tsitouridis
Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

The Gilded Crown by Catherine T. Wilson and Catherine A. Wilson

The Gilded Crown
by Catherine A. Wilson and Catherine T. Wilson

Once again the Catherines draw us back into the unstable realms of 14th century England, Scotland and France with The Gilded Crown, the latest addition to their Lions and Lilies series.

Newly married, Lady Cecile and Sir Gillet de Bellegarde are separated as Gillet travels across France on a mission for the Vicomtesse de Gisors, an undertaking that could clear the stain of traitor from his name. Cecile soon follows, with a secret mission of her own, but dangers and enemies are determined to stop her and her companions.

Also recent newlyweds, Lady Catherine and Lord Simon Wexford journey through Scotland on a mission to return a priceless treasure to its rightful home. Catherine is taken under the wing of Lady Agnes Dunbar to learn the way of the court, but who can she really trust and why does Simon fear for her safety? The truth of a secret ransom agreement of King David II of Scotland could hold the key for both Gillet and Simon.

Along with their husbands and companions, sisters Cecile and Catherine must choose their loyalties and fight to secure their own safety as well as the safety of their loved ones. Who knows their secrets, who is a hidden ally, and who will sacrifice everything?

Through treacherous twists and turns, powerful and cunning adversaries, and even the plague, can Cecile and Catherine trust love and loyalty to overcome power, corruption and vicious enemies? A clever history lesson hidden in a gripping tale, I can't wait to continue this journey with the characters of Lions and Lilies in Book 4: Roar of the Lion.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

The Gilded Crown by Catherine A. Wilson and Catherine T. Wilson
Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

Gold Standard by David Finchley

Gold Standard
By David Finchley
When Dr Andrew Marshall returns from London to Prince Charles Hospital in Melbourne, the hospital where he began his career as a neuroscientist, he is coming home to his mentor, a lost love, a promising career path and an incredible breakthrough cure for brain cancer. As Dr Marshall settles back in to the hospital routine, he discovers not all is as it seems. Who can he trust and how will it end?

In his second novel, David Finchley explores the struggle between personal integrity, professional achievement, and the greater good. Finchley takes his cast on a fast past paced journey through reunions, discoveries, suspicions, and on to a final surprising decision.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Gold Standard by David Finchley
Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

The Aligned by Kristy Berridge

The Aligned
By Kristy Berridge
In this stand-alone fantasy world sequel to Berridge’s earlier novels, the clash between angels and demons which began aeons ago continues to be unresolved and conflict in the higher realms is mirrored below on earth. While Vampires are familiar to readers Vanators, or werewolves, and Protectors, humans with magical powers, have also coexisted on earth in an uneasy peace which disintegrates as events in the novel unfold.

The action in the novel starts with feisty teen Elena Manory held captive in Bucharest by an Alpha Vanator, Roshan, determined to wield power over her and possess the secret of her hybrid nature. Elena’s DNA combines the synergy of human, Vampire and Vanator and is perhaps the key to the looming final battle between the forces of light and darkness.

Elena’s captivity forces her to acknowledge her own dark forces which lie within, while her closeness to Vampire Sebastian unleashes a growing awareness of her powers. Back in Cairns her adopted brother Lucas is also experiencing disturbing changes in his life and his loyalties, and their concern for each other crosses continents and unites them in purpose. The mysterious Protectors have fled to a safe haven in Antarctica and it is uncertain whether in the final analysis they are friend or foe to Elena and Lucas.

In this complex alternate and contemporary version of reality Berridge presents fast paced action across three continents set against a backdrop of impossible romance and smouldering sexual tension. The latest in Berridge’s series of novels, The Aligned continues to develop the intense and conflicted relationships between the characters and immerses the reader in a race against time. Can’t wait for the sequel!

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

The Aligned by Kristy Berridge
Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

Signs of Flight by Catherine Skipper

Signs of Flight
   by Catherine Skipper

The past is a destination which may be visited and revisited, always there but never quite within reach. Childhood memories may arrive unbidden: recalled in a moment of reverie; prompted by the fragrance of a long forgotten place or person; conjured through viewing an image of a moment frozen in time; revived by strains of music unheard for decades. Sometimes it is through confronting stressful issues as an adult that one relives the confusion and powerlessness of the child within, perhaps armed now to deal with injustice and ready to articulate thoughts and feelings.

Signs of Flight gently wafts through the halls of memory of Connie’s childhood in 1940s Australia, recreating the child’s glimpses of an adult world interpreted through a language not yet learned. Connie balances unsteadily on the threshold which will propel her from childhood, knowing that there is another world to be entered but not yet understanding the complex relationship dynamics which operate there. She retreats to the liminal world of fairy tales but already perceives the darkness that gathers at the edges of the unknown ‘grown up ‘world. Through conversations half-heard and puzzling unresolved encounters in her restricted social sphere, Connie’s butterfly self is poised to emerge from a cocoon of innocence.

Catherine Skipper has crafted a flowing stream of childhood memories with a dream-like quality where time slows down and a simpler life is recalled. Connie’s naiveté is portrayed through exquisite use of language and skilful characterisation of the light and the darkness in humanity. More poetic than sustained narrative, Signs of Flight provides an opportunity to revisit one’s own past and re-examine shared experiences of power and powerlessness, innocence and experience, optimism and defeat. Such a finely drawn portrait of Connie’s growing awareness of the heightened tension in her changing world and her readiness to emerge from the chrysalis of childhood compels the reader to ponder the unfolding events of her life which have caused Connie to reflect on her earlier days. Surely an equally entrancing sequel will follow to explore Connie’s entry to adulthood and beyond.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Signs of Flight by Catherine Skipper
Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

The Eden Effect by David Finchley

The Eden Effect
   by David Finchley
In the aftermath of the Lindt Café siege in Sydney our naïve presumption that Australia was somehow sheltered from global horrors was shattered. From this and the shocking events centred on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, a new language of solidarity was created: #I’ll ride with you and #Je suis Charlie were adopted rapidly in response by individuals informed by the 24/7 news cycle and connected instantly across the world by social media.

But what if we had never heard about either of these tragedies, or about Ebola outbreaks, kidnapping of journalists and threats of beheading, catastrophic weather events, or countless violent and hate-fuelled crimes committed somewhere else in the world - how different would our lives be? Have you ever thought about the impact that even the knowledge of such horrors – completely unrelated to your world and way of life- may have on you?

Martin Brophy, the unassuming milkman in a fictional Victorian town called Eden, has thought about this deeply and considers that he has successfully shielded himself from such potential harmful impact by removing television and internet access from his life. While not a Luddite, Martin wishes to embark on a social experiment to cocoon all of Eden and preserve the lifestyle he enjoys and ponders how this could possibly become a reality.

Arthur Fromm has left the ruins of his former corporate life in Melbourne. Feisty Natalie Mason has overcome much adversity in her young life and possesses energy and enthusiasm to match her dynamic personality. Both arrive in Eden looking for a new start and enter Martin’s world, drawn in by the potential innocence which isolation from global horrors may achieve. From Martin’s shadowy past an unexpected opportunity is presented to test the source of wellbeing in Eden, but with every opportunity come challenges. 

Finchley has presented an interesting hypothesis in fictional form and develops plotline and characterisation for a contemporary Australian audience. The Eden Effect is an absorbing read and Martin’s proposed social experiment both thought-provoking and timely in its presentation.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

The Eden Effect by David Finchley
Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

Invisible Journey by Addison Russell

The Invisible Journey
by Addison Russell

It's supposed to be the journey not the destination which is of greatest significance according to 21st century zeitgeist, but often you don't even know when the first steps have been taken along the one-way path which will change your life forever. 

To outsiders, Erin Silver has the perfect life: a loving family, an enduring and envied marriage to Braedon, her teenage sweetheart turned TV star, a rock solid long term friendship with soul sister and bestie Rachel, and a future filled with promise of more of the good life. In contrast, Braedon's sister Melissa has struggled to find her way and Erin provides solace and sanctuary for her, keenly aware of the fragility of life and the illusory nature of happiness even if your name implies sweetness, lustre and wealth. 

Ironically it is loyal, loving Rachel who unwittingly provides the opportunity for Erin to take the perfumed path of temptation and duplicity by reconnecting with old uni friend, David. Erin initially chooses to ignore the cracks in her own marriage and focus on what she can be grateful for in life. She tries to be true to herself, torn between following her head or her heart, but David too has set off on a journey from which there is no return. 'Liquorice Ice Cream' may not intentionally be one of the fifty shades of grey, but ice cream buddies Erin and David soon discover an insatiable appetite for each other as passions ignite and an inferno threatens to consume them.

Author Addison Russell skillfully weaves together the paths of multiple journeys taken by the characters in this novel, all of which intersect with or diverge from the central path of Erin's invisible journey. Articulated by narrator Erin, complex issues such as parenthood, personal responsibility, life, death, disease, depression and deceit are explored through the different prisms each character presents.  With hindsight, she may indeed consider that is really all about the destination, not the journey. There are so many avenues in life for Erin to explore, a sequel seems inevitable.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

The Invisible Journey by Addison Russell

Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

A Little Bit Different by Rick Anderson

A Little Bit Different
   By Rick Anderson

“Memories, I’ve had a few” reckons Rick Anderson as he recounts his journey through life as a baby boomer and invites the reader to step into a time capsule and join him for a blast from the past.

Starting with his early interest in bushwalking, Anderson provides a fascinating account of pioneering hikes he took part in through Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania, before it became more of a mainstream activity in Australia. His tales of walking the tracks in Tasmania in particular and the conditions endured by his hardy group of like-minded companions are the stuff of legends, and it would be fascinating to walk any of the same trails in 2015 and refer to Anderson’s detailed records from decades earlier to compare the experiences. So much has changed….

The printing process too has been revolutionised in the digital era but the writing was on the wall for the old fashioned print industry even in the sixties when school leaver Anderson was apprenticed with a boost from his father’s Freemason status. Although employment prospects in the printing industry dried up with changes to technology, work practices and society, Anderson did eventually return to printing much later in life with what sounds on the surface like a dream job at the Mint, printing money!

Anderson chronicles a life lived very much on the move, travelling for work, necessity, pleasure, leisure, competition and love. Perhaps it all started with winning a bike in a competition as a nine year old, when the wheels of freedom opened up possibilities of new horizons. Employed variously as a locomotive engineer, suburban train driver and bus driver (to name just a few of the many jobs on Anderson’s CV), travel seems to be in Anderson’s blood. At work and for leisure many thousands of kilometres were clocked up, from the age of steam, red rattlers and Redex to sleek, streamlined suburban transport and transcontinental railway. Train enthusiasts will love the detailed information on ‘riding the rails’ provided by Anderson and feel as if they are travelling with him in the driver’s compartment.

Complex family dynamics, relationship issues, changes in society and technology, and the poignancy of his mother’s fragile mental health expand Anderson’s story to include elements of life which many readers will recognise. Chronicling a total of sixteen jobs, three marriages and two children while living at twenty-six addresses, Anderson relates many experiences which are indeed a little bit different to the usual.  A watercolour artist and wooden sign maker, Anderson has also used his creative talents to preserve visual reminders of the way things were. The image on the front cover of the book is one of the author's own work - most appropriately used!

Told with humour and a nothing-to-hide attitude, many readers will share memories of their own journey as a baby boomer and recognise the world of yesterday, presented so clearly from the perspective of one who was there. And after all is said and done, we are all a little bit different, aren’t we?

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

A Little Bit Different by Rick Anderson
Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

A Commissioning in Ammonia by R.B.Ward

A Commissioning in Ammonia
        by R.B.Ward 

Dispatching the contents of a country's jails to a faraway and newly-claimed colony is a method which has been utilized for expedience and commercial exploitation in the past, as all Australians know only too well. While the 'convict stain' may now attract more status than smear on a family's pedigree, for almost two centuries many secrets and sorrows were entwined in hidden family history. Australia's history resonates throughout the future world envisioned in this novel by author Ron Ward, with many points of comparison, however a brave new world where transformation is possible is also foreshadowed and wistfully observed by those of the old guard who see their time and that of 'Homeworld ' running out. 

'Commissioning in Ammonia' narrates the complex process of launching a successful commercial chemical engineering venture at Muddy River Bay in another distant colony, referred to as 'Cheap', far from 'Homeworld' and the familiar trappings of power and influence still enjoyed at The Savoy Hotel in London. History has repeated itself in this dystopian world, where in the distant past 'Cheap' beyond the Milky Way was first another dumping ground for Australia's excess criminals before other countries clamoured to also jettison their responsibilities. 

The action of the book focuses on a crucial time leading up to the commissioning of the Muddy River Bay ammonia plant, and follows the highs and lows from the boardroom of Empire Chemicals to the unfolding dramas on the plant floor. On the frontier at 
Muddy Bay River there is 'a very dynamic culture, (where) everyone works hard to transform a world with certain dangerous conditions into one reasonably liveable.' Ward permits the reader to vicariously experience the turmoil and triumphs of his characters as they face complex decisions about life, love, responsibility at work and at home, conflict concerning personal identity, and the meaning of integrity in all its forms, as the culmination of their joint efforts on commissioning day draws closer. And what happens after commissioning day? Read on...

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

A Commissioning in Ammonia by R.B.Ward
Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

Beneath the Stone by Margaret M. Ford

   Beneath the Stone

   by Margaret M.Ford

Tolstoy's observation that 'Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way' is most apt for the families in Beneath the Stone by Margaret M.Ford. Meticulously planned, well-researched, tightly constructed and with action spanning a twenty-year period, the intriguing and fast-paced plot revolves around the enigma at the heart of the Montfort family.

The Montforts are burdened by the aftermath of an atrocity which took place in Italy during World War 2, their ongoing interactions strained by sadness and unrelieved tension. The complex story of the Montforts unfolds through the eyes of twelve-year-old David Montfort. David discovers his close connection to the wealthy Montfort family only through his own family's loss, and while at first regarded as interlopers the family bonds adjust to include the newcomers. David grows to understand the complex dynamics of his extended family, the dark cloud of the past which hangs over them all and the imminent dangers they are exposed to. Ultimately it is as he stands on the threshold of adulthood that he is poised to help solve the mystery that threatens the security of his family. 

In addition to David's oeuvre, the plot of 'Beneath the Stone' is skillfully developed through the use of third person narrative to complete the pieces of the puzzle. The flawed characters and human frailties portrayed in the families parallel to the central plot present a poignant portrayal of Tolstoy's maxim, further exploring the ties which bind or shatter relationships. Ford's sophisticated use of language and engaging characters immerse the reader into a bygone era which is familiar yet remote.  The author paints vivid word images, producing a compelling narrative which is cinematic in quality and memorable for the lasting impression of places and people which remain long after the mystery has been solved and all the ends tied together neatly. Beneath the Stone is sophisticated, skilful and satisfying to read.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Beneath the Stone by Margaret M. Ford
Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

The Arab Club; Four Women and a Man by Tim Lowe

 The Arab Club; Four Women and a Man

  by Tim Lowe

Bev, Leanne, Frances and Rhoda discover that they are members of the exclusive Arab Club. How they qualify for membership of this unusual club is a tale skilfully told and titillating in the telling. Author Tim Lowe employs the prism of multiple narrators whose convergent stories concerning life, lust, food, love, death and sex intersect in the Geelong home of recently widowed Jeff. Gender roles and societal expectations are challenged and tested in this tell-all rollicking romp through the mores of urban and rural Victoria.

The conversational and often confessional tone adopted by each of the five characters as they present and progress their intriguing interlocking stories creates an easy rapport with the reader. While their dynamics as a group may at times involve collaborative subterfuge to stage manage a situation, which usually involves Jeff, individually each narrator exposes their own human frailty through the raw honesty of their monologues. We come to know intimately the ménage a cinq through each character's version of events as well as from the vantage points of the spectators on the sidelines. 

As events unfold the Arab Club members gain insight into their own needs as autonomous individuals as well as increased understanding of the benefits of belonging to a secret sisterhood. This powerful tale of secrets and lies, harmony and discord, jealousy and collaboration, love and loss, lust and fidelity is told with gentleness and humour. The Arab Club will appeal to the mature reader especially, and a sequel eagerly awaited to discover more about the lives of these fascinating four women and one man!

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

 The Arab Club; Four Women and a Man by Tim Lowe

Published Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

Golden Raub by Victor Bibby

                                                Golden Raub

  by Victor Bibby 

Researching family history provides an opportunity to delve into the past, to gain an understanding of the social and historical life-forces pulsing through the branches of our own family tree, and perhaps to untangle the motivations for decisions taken which ultimately influence our own lives. Clues may be abundant or nonexistent, anecdotal or documented, factual or fanciful but with access to information increasingly available it has become a popular pastime to compile a family history.  Victor Bibby, author of Golden Raub, has taken a scholarly approach to researching the fascinating and well-documented life story of his paternal great-grandfather, William Bibby, as he followed the lure of gold in the late nineteenth century from Victoria through to Queensland and ultimately to Malaya.

Using contemporaneous documents from Australia, Singapore and (at the time) Malaya, the author has meticulously examined primary sources with the rigour of a historian and the precision of an engineer to piece together a narrative of the life of William Bibby and his pivotal role in the mining of gold in the previously undeveloped area of Raub in Malaya. Bibby's gold mining experience and management expertise gained from tough times in Australia combined with his indomitable spirit provided the impetus to pioneer gold mining on an industrial scale in Raub and associate this name with a golden sheen. 

The author also pieces together the parallel Bibby family situation in Victoria where William's wife Ellen Bibby maintains stability during his long absences.  These earlier days are contrasted with glittering glimpses of the social status Bibby's family enjoyed later in Singapore, detailing attendance at balls to honor Queen Victoria, moving in elite circles, mixing with sultans and highlighting the adventurous spirit of the Misses Bibby in their travels around Malaya. Also examined are the hardships endured by Bibby resulting from local rebellion, natural disaster and disease, and death of loved ones to name but a few challenges faced. Bibby seems to have gained respect locally through his judicious and profitable management of the mine yet struggled to convince the Board back in Brisbane of changes which needed to be made to improve productivity and performance. 

Golden Raub is a fascinating account of the role a larger-than-life Liverpool-born adventurer, traveller, miner and engineer played in the development and management of gold mines in Australia and Malaya, skillfully assembled from a wealth of documents by an equally diligent and energetic descendant and author, Victor Bibby. With the addition of maps, photographs, diagrams, technical information, Raub shareholder documents, newspaper accounts and numerous sources relating to Bibby's pioneering efforts in an intriguing era long past, Golden Raub will interest readers fascinated by the pioneering history of Australia and Malaya, and will appeal particularly to readers interested in family history.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Golden Raub by Victor Bibby

Published Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

Flight Against All Odds:Scotland to Australia 1968 by Kate Clements

Flight Against All Odds:

Scotland to Australia 1968

by Kate Clements

Travelling to exotic destinations is de rigeur these days and family and friends can follow our meanderings in words and pictures through Facebook check ins, blogs, emails, instant messages and video calls. But it was a different world in 1968 when newlyweds Kathy and George Wright decided to leave Glasgow and start a new life in Australia, embarking on an intrepid journey by flying their own single engine light plane for v hours over x miles. The Flight Against All Odds: Scotland to Australia 1968 chronicles the challenges of this journey and provides a view from the cockpit of Charlie Golf Sierra from the perspective of navigator Kathy Wright. 

Kathy's account of the four month trip opens a time capsule from another era to entrance the reader with first-hand accounts from a disappearing world such as those of the hospitality of flying clubs around the globe, the terrifying reality of losing radio contact or instrument reliability mid-flight, the physical and emotional hardships endured on the journey, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Published Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au

The Last Colonial  by Gerard Deudekom

 The Last Colonial
  by Gerard Deudekom

Poised on the periphery of unfolding social, political and technological changes erupting throughout the 20th century, Gerard Deudekom chronicles an astonishing life of commerce and travel like a 20th century Marco Polo heading out from Amsterdam. From inauspicious beginnings in 1929, Deudekom recounts a childhood unscathed by the darker forces which cast a shadow over his occupied homeland. As a young man with a gift for languages and a thirst for travel his nascent business acumen and post war opportunities propel him from Holland on the first of many mercantile journeys through a world of crumbling empires.

Deudekom's recollections of his commercial endeavours and itinerant holiday entertainments include those in Malaya, Singapore, Borneo and South Africa where the pervading undercurrent of discontent with old imperial powers and an uncertain future force him to make difficult decisions. The changing landscape of colonialism in the last century is chronicled from the perspective of an intelligent, inquisitive and articulate observer with a passion also for photography. Deudekom records include not only impressions of life on a rubber plantation in Malaya after the Malayan Emergency, travelling upriver with the headhunting Dyaks in Borneo, and post-war luxury ocean liner travel between Yokohama and Honolulu but also capture images on a global scale from a time capsule sealed long ago by changes wrought by time.

While in essence the memoirs of a remarkable octogenarian, successful in business across several continents and possessed of vitality and vigour, The Last Colonial provides insight into the capacity for people to meet head on the challenges life presents with resilience and optimism. In penning his own story, Deudekom echoes the experience of others who have witnessed widespread changes and travelled far before deciding to call Australia “Home”.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

 "The Last Colonial" Author: Gerard Deudekom Genre: Memoir
ISBN: 1-922086-28-2 and 978-1-922086-28-0
Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

They Move Amongst Us by James Hall


 They Move Among Us  

  by James Hall

They Move Amongst Us by James Hall combines a range of genres to present a grand unifying theory to explain the meaning of life. Sci-fi, romance, supernatural, religion, action-adventure and scientific discourse are blended to present a complex and fast paced plot through which the author weaves together threads of a tapestry spanning vast distances of space and time.

Human interest is provided by the cast of characters who face unprecedented challenges and respond according to their expertise and enlightenment. Chance and coincidence play a significant role in the human realm of the plot while the rhythms of the cosmos continue to unfold according to a predetermined choreography.

Relationships form the core of interest in this epic tale where dynamics of family, friendship, power and influence are explored and commitment tested to the edge of oblivion. The journey, not the destination, is the essence of the brave new world in which Hall’s characters unwittingly play their roles until the final curtain falls. But is it really the end? Read on and discover for yourself.…

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

 Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

New Earth by Kerry Anderson

 New Earth 
 by Kerry Anderson

New Earth by Kerry Anderson tantalises the reader from the outset with the double dealing Blake Jones – or is it Steele Dyason? -setting a complex plan in motion on a distant planet in a futuristic world. Hauntingly familiar yet containing unexpected and hidden dangers, Ferva is an outpost of home planet Terra. In this post- apocalyptic world humanity has been redefined, setting apart both the elite and the worker from the lowest form of human, the dredge.

Jones pursues a dangerous quest to uncover a plot which strikes at the heart of the integrity of the rigidly-structured society of Terra, and his own tight-knit family. Confronted by unexpected animosity among his own elite social class on arrival at the compound on Ferva, Jones faces challenges of a more deadly kind where only technology keeps at bay the terrors lurking in this new hostile environment.

Jones is intrigued by Ditch Dean, a dredge with a secret he is not willing to share but which becomes crucial to Jones’ mission. Time is running out as both men discover they are in a frantic race for survival, caught up in a struggle against the moral decay of the compound and the perils of the predatory Fervan biosphere. Identities are revealed and plots unravelled but the prophecy which intrigues Jones remains unfulfilled, hinting at further developments - and a sequel?- in this family’s future on Terra and beyond. 

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Author Kerry Anderson  Title:New Earth: Deception at the Mill  Genre: Science Fiction
ISBN 1-922086-23-1 and 978-1-922086-23-5
 Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

Corner Spiral by David Crawford

Corner Spiral
by Dave Crawford

Dr Allen Braith is waiting for his life to improve but little does he realise just how much everything will change when he applies for a job with Interstellar Aliens.

Suddenly transported far from home and the present day, Allen quickly has to come to terms with a new reality - alien intelligence, far flung star systems, inter-galactic power struggles, and dangers he could never have imagined.

Allen and his friendly living spaceship, Midnight, become stranded on an oxygenated planet after an unexpected enemy strike. As Midnight recovers, Allen begins to learn about the planet and meets the beautiful Choel, a young noblewoman who has lost her place and family following the death of the old king.

As Allen, Midnight, and Choel travel across this world they begin to uncover the manipulation and experimentation which the inhabitants of Star Corner have been subjected to. Gathering supporters along the way, they struggle to end segregation and religious confusion and come to terms with the mysterious Corner Spiral.

In Corner Spiral Crawford launches sci-fi fans on an exciting journey where innovation and adventure abound. Each of Crawford’s characters brings their own driving force - love, discovery, sacrifice and revenge. Twists and turns add intrigue as the fast paced plot heads to the final reveal. You won’t want to put this book down!

Reviewed by Kate Somerville February 2016
Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

Threads of Time by David Crawford

Threads of Time
by David Crawford
The threads of time threaten to unravel in a far away galaxy where humans have carved out a tenuous existence in a post-apocalyptic world.  Crawford casts aside the constraints of twenty-first century reality and creates a futuristic world where technology has achieved breathtaking advances in every realm imaginable. Space travel over vast distances, colonisation of new star systems, sophisticated weaponry and sentient spacecraft provide the backdrop for this fast-paced plot to unfold.  
The military prowess of the Krarl empire generates fear and uncertainty.  With their regenerative abilities and dominion over vast stretches of time and space, the Krarls present a formidable foe. Their threat to human civilisation is a constant fear, burned into the psyche of generations through violent encounters.

Parallels with many episodes of human history are observed in the rich tapestry woven throughout a complex plot which reveals the worldviews and motivations of the characters. Intriguing tales are linked by threads of time where fate has dealt a cruel blow or hope has triumphed over adversity. Propelled onwards by the search for love, duty, revenge, scientific curiosity or simple survival each characters' quest draws the reader further into the tantalising possibility of a hope-filled future.
Sci-Fi fans will enjoy the surprises Crawford has in store in this action-packed adventure while being able to ponder the deeper issues which simmer below the surface.  Long after finishing this novel the words of an ancient poet from a distant planet may still resonate : 'We are but threads before the winds of time'. 

Reviewed by Chris McGuigan February 2016
Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

All That I Am by Anna Funder

  All That I Am 
  by Anna Funder

"All we are not stares back at all that we are".

This is the lament of the acclaimed English poet W.A.Auden, making a cameo appearance in the 2012 Miles Franklin Award winner, "All that I Am" by Anna Funder. Reaching beyond the era of her enthusiastically received first publication "Stasiland", Funder brings into sharp focus elusive stories of courage shown by those who attempted to resist the relentless pursuit of power by Hitler and his supporters. Anna Funder skilfully recreates the world of writers and political activists in Germany between the wars, incongruously juxtaposed with Bondi Junction in the present.

"All that I Am", cannot be placed firmly in a single genre. This absorbing novel is part thriller, part romance, and part historical recreation. Real people have inspired the author to open the blinds in a dim corner of the 20th century which is worthy of illumination and remembrance. Central to the novel are five intertwined figures presented through the alternating narratives of playwright Ernst Toller in New York in 1939, and photographer Ruth Becker in Bondi Junction almost 70 years later. Both narrators ultimately face the naked truth behind bravery and betrayal, love and loss, courage and confusion in the face of an overwhelming power which shatters their security.

"All that I Am" reminds us that we all have the capacity for self deception; for not seeing what stares back at us in the mirror, for ignoring the inconvenient truths around us. Chilling parallels exist between Toller's vicarious 'voyage of the damned', when refugees from Nazi Germany aboard the SS St Louis in 1939 were turned back from ports in Cuba, America and Canada, and the turbulent voyages that continue to feature in the news today.

The characters' performances in the novel are not choreographed by Toller and Ruth - or Funder. These individuals are not fictional creations but authentic historical figures and their actions as presented may be verified with a few mouse clicks. Auden, Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and Thomas Mann are names readily recognised by the reader, and while others may be unfamiliar, Funder breathes life back into their existence as the plot unfolds towards its finale - set not in Auschwitz but in the safe haven of bustling Bondi Junction.

The source of much of the novel’s content is the real Ruth, with the characters enlivened and conversations reconstructed through Funder's intelligent instinct, mastery of language and skill in presenting the theatre of life. 

The judges of the Miles Franklin award have recognised the timeless value of this novel, a Pandora's box presenting the woes of the world as well as hope emerging from a forgotten archive to be dusted off and re-examined in the blinding sunshine of Bondi Beach. It is a reminder of “all that we are individually, collectively and globally....."

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Dual Carriageway by John Considine

 Dual Carriageway
   by John Considine

While the action in Dual Carriageway revolves around the parallel lives of Barry and Shane as police officers and their sometimes grimy crime-filled daily lives, John Considine extracts much humour from their personal lives and intertwined relationships. Cleverly conceived, the narrative revolves around duality in a range of guises and presents the reader with a gentle and generous exploration of sibling struggles and relationship reversals where all is not what it appears to be.

 Separated by distance but sharing similar goals at work and at play, the off-duty hours of the brothers are spiced up in humorous and saucy situations which pepper the novel. But when a twist of fate simultaneously steps into both their lives does it set in motion the possibility of a new start- or is it déjà vu?

Contemporary, funny and skillfully constructed, the plot of Dual Carriageway will appeal to the younger reader who can identify with the bittersweet struggles of young love and loss, career gain and pain, and also to the older reader who wryly remembers these only too well and recognizes the duality in so many of life's challenges.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

 Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

Choices by Jeff Edwards

   by Jeff Edwards

Choices  is intriguing and action-packed from page 1, and keeps the reader guessing until the very end. At first glance Dan Travers is an ordinary Australian bloke who loves to surf, lives for his family, and has unwittingly been caught up in a web of intrigue involving the Independent Commission Against Corruption. But is his civilian role in the NSW Police Force linked to his past shadowy activities while in the armed forces, or is he simply a pawn in a bigger global game of deception and death?

 Choices are made in everyday life, but Dan Travers' choices have dramatic consequences for everyone he knows and cares about as he becomes enmeshed in a dangerous world of renegades who are fueled by a desire for revenge. Edwards has crafted a fast-paced story featuring credible characters whose paths appear to blur the line between fact and fiction. The Bali bombings in 2001 are a recurring motif throughout the novel and Dan's time served in Afghanistan in the Australian Army emerges unbidden from the fringes of his consciousness, drifting in and out of focus as he tries to prove his innocence to the reader- or is it to himself?

 Edwards carefully balances the explosive tension of espionage and gang warfare against the rock-solid support network of a close-knit Travers family and Dan's best mates and surfing buddies, Rick and Sam. Humour and pathos are also to be found in the tightly constructed sub-plots which all lead to the denouement of final choices made by Dan and those dear to him.

 Edwards weaves a compelling story and skillfully draws complex and interesting characters into a recognizable contemporary Australian setting. Faced with challenges affecting integrity, relationships, technology and global politics Edwards' characters navigate myriad factors affecting the post-Bali Australian psyche and beyond. Look out for and look forward to a sequel to Choices!

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

 Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

Some Touch of Pity by Lawrence Pope

                                     Some Touch of Pity
                                                           by Lawrence Pope

Some Touch of Pity chronicles a decade of campaigns in Victoria to abolish institutionalised cruelty to animals 'invisible', unseen or ignored by wider society. Bats, horses, birds, cats, pigs and many other creatures great and small have benefited from the patience and persistence of author Lawrence Pope and the small but determined organisations he has led or supported.

Pope details at length the campaigns he was personally involved in and acts as a Greek chorus, pointing out to Australian society the looming disaster which will unfold unless the plot line is radically changed. Pope is passionate about eliminating cruelty to animals and raising awareness of ways in which we can all contribute to societal change. He shows the possible path ahead by citing recent historical examples such as bull baiting and horse beating which were considered acceptable until the work of dedicated protesters against such cruelty was successful.

This book painstakingly documents the animal activists' pattern of championing causes for animals which are eventually taken up by media, slowly educating the public or decision makers as attitudes incrementally change. Demonstrating great patience, persistence and principals, Pope's lengthy endeavors for just causes exposed particularly the plight of bats and cruelty to jumps horses in Victoria. Ethical and responsible behavior by the business world is given credit by Pope too when due, particularly in the case of retailers acknowledging their role in contributing to the suffering of animals and removing products from sale.

Pope's private life appears to parallel his activist life. Working mainly in Social Work and as an advocate for the disadvantaged on a daily basis throughout much of his career, he has seen the reality of dysfunction in many forms and adds more than a touch of pity to his encounters with all sentient beings. While much of the content is disturbing because it documents animal cruelty and abuse of power in many forms, the book also shines a light on the efforts of those who work tirelessly for animal rights.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/

The Great Trial by Estelle Harris

 The Great Trial
 by Estelle Harris

Estelle Harris believes that “everyone has a story to tell and should be encouraged to speak out, or write it.” and in The Great Trial she tells her own story, one of courage and resilience despite disappointment and adversity.

Ironically the author herself is The Great Trial of the title, frequently receiving this name from the age of five as a rebuke from her mother while her younger brother is showered with affection. With their father in and out of gaol and their mother financially and psychologically unable to cope, both children are sent to an orphanage in Somerset to be cared for by nuns. Institutional abuse of children has been exposed of late in many layers of society and religious denominations have often protected the perpetrators at the cost of those who should be protected. At St Edith’s however, Marilyn, as the author was then known, finds a brief haven from the nightmares and life of secrets waiting for her outside the cloisters.

Marilyn’s story unfolds in Australia in the 1960s as her family, united again, join the throng of British migrants heading for a new life. Marilyn’s efforts to create a better life with a family of her own are dogged with disappointment, yet she keeps getting back up again after each setback knocks her down. Symbolically leaving her past behind, the author chooses a new name, Estelle Harris, drawing inspiration from a character in Great Expectations.  Her determined resilience and diligent work ethic shine through her inspirational account of a difficult life navigated with courage and nourished by friendship.

Kensington Review www.kensingtonreview.net

Sid Harta Publishers http://sidharta.com.au/