Book Review – The Beekeeper’s Secret by Josephine Moon reviewed by Jill Smith

the beekeeper's secret josephine moonBook Review by Jill Smith©Oct18

Title: The Beekeeper’s Secret

Author: Josephine Moon

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Maria Lindsey lives a solitary life. She spends her days cooking, and preparing market goods to raise money for orphaned children. Honeybee Haven hosts visits by tourists who help top up the coppers for the fund. Her family don’t know where she is or what’s she’s doing and that’s the way she likes it. A former nun, who is also a beekeeper, she helps those she can and lets the guilt that sits like a rock grounding her, stay in the back of her mind. Two letters arrive that upset her peaceful plans. Now she must face her guilt and allow the world to know her secret.

Tansy Butterfield is restless. After seven years of marriage, her agreement with her josephine moon bio picadored husband Dougal is one she’s having misgivings over. With his work wanting to relocate Dougal to Canada she must make a decision. It’s time to solve a family mystery, one her parents have been vague about for years. Where is her aunt? Why does the family that are normally close and welcoming, not speak about her? Tansy does some investigating and is surprised to find Honeybee Haven is nearby and that’s where her Aunt lives. She sends her aunt a letter to say she’ll call in to visit.

Investigating Officer George Harvey is a cold case Police officer. He had a hunch that the body he was arranging to exhume would throw up more questions than answers. George is at the end of his career and feeling very old. But this case was one he doesn’t want to let go. He’s Catholic and wants to discover if the death of a Priest years earlier was accidental or murder. He’s sent letters to potential witnesses to say he would go and speak to them.

This is a delightful book about family conflict, guilty secrets and appalling cover-up of sexual misconduct by Catholic Priests. The book reads like one best friend chatting to another. Its charm with the comparison between bees and peoples lives a tangible cohesive layer to the story. I loved this book and will go on to read more of Josephine’s work.

 

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The 65-storey treehouse reviewed by Jill Smith

65 storey treehouse coverBook review by Jill Smith©Sep18

Title: The 65-storey treehouse
Author: Andy Griffiths
Illustrator: Terry Denton
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Andy-Griffiths-full bio pic.jpg

Who, wouldn’t want to build a tree house that has 65 levels? And one that includes an Ant house on one level, a pool of man-eating sharks on another and a sinking sand level they use as an office as they work of floatation shoes?

This book is a hilarious romp through the imagination of two men who retain their childlike view of the world. Comic book style illustrations enhance the madcap adventures of Terry and Andy when they discover that the ants can make themselves into a giant foot and stomp on them, then aided by Jill, who they shrink to ant size they find out the ants want them to stop damaging the ants home level. That’s easy to solve, isn’t it? Just stop dropping bowling balls, or shooting arrows or generally ruining the ants’ nest.Terry-Denton-bio pic

Another big problem they have is that Andy gave Terry money to get a building permit six years earlier and he’s only just discovered that Terry didn’t get the building permit. That wouldn’t be so bad but the building inspector has arrived and announced that without the permit the unsafe conditions in the tree house means it will have to be demolished. How can they save their tree-house home?

Well, naturally they ask the wise owls on the upper level what to do. Then they go on a crazy adventure back in time in a Time Machine Wheelie Bin to get a permit and save their house. Nothing goes quite to plan though as they find themselves going way back in time, and then way into the future. Will they get back home and save their treehouse from being bulldozed?

This book is for 8 to 12-year-olds and I read it in an hour and a half in my granddaughters’ room. Why should kids have all the fun?

Andy Griffiths is Australia’s most popular children’s writer. He is the author of over 20 books, including nonsense verse, short stories, comic novels and plays. Over the past 15 years, Andy’s books have been New York Times bestsellers, won over 50 children’s choice awards, been adapted as a television cartoon series and sold over five million copies worldwide. Andy is best known as the author of the much-loved Just! series and The Day

Andy-and-Terry bio picMy Bum Went Psycho. In 2008 Andy became the first Australian author to win six children’s choice awards in one year for Just Shocking! In 2008 Andy and his wife, Jill, collaborated with The Bell Shakespeare Company on the popular and critically acclaimed theatrical production Just Macbeth! which was nominated for two Helpmann Awards.

Terry Denton (born July 1950) is an Australian illustrator and author. He is married and has three children. Denton has written and illustrated more than 30 of his own books and illustrated numerous others for many notable Australian authors.

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Book Review Goodbye, Mr Hitler by Jackie French reviewed by Jill Smith

Goodbye Mr Hitler by Jackie french coverBook Review by Jill Smith©May18Author_Jackie_French bio pic

Title: Goodbye, Mr Hitler

Author: Jackie French

Publisher: Angus & Robertson

As I expected Jackie French delivers a powerful story with aplomb.

The Prologue introduces Johannes, Frau Marks and Helga. Surviving war is a harrowing experience. This is the third and final book in a series about a girl who believes she is Hitler’s daughter as it follows on from Heidi’s story in Hitler’s Daughter and Georg’s in Pennies for Hitler, and shows us that evil must be fought and won.hitlers daughter cover jackie french

The description of being herded into cattle cars and being taken to Poland was harrowing. Being from a child’s point of view, the dehumanising of the people crammed into the cars was palpable. His escape due to the miraculous aid of kind hearts that should have been crushed was amazing. Especially as those hearts gave themselves entirely to strangers to offer hope to the children, Johannes survived.

pennies for hitler cover jackie frenchThe cruel twist of internment that continued even after the war had ended was another battle that had to be fought. Eventual escape by immigration was made possible by travelling to Australia, a world that was so far away from the place he’d come. There he was reunited with Helga.Jackie-French-bio pic 2

Helga continued to be tormented by her deep guilt and feeling of shame. Only Frau Marks could show her that the burden she carried was a lie and one Helga could put behind her, she could replace the hate with love.

This was a moving and gruelling tale. The story shows how love can replace hate even after it has been ingrained by torture and mistreatment.

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Goodbye, Mr Hitler (Hitler Trilogy, #3) by Jackie French reviewed by Jill Smith

Goodbye, Mr Hitler (Hitler Trilogy, #3) by Jackie French

Goodbye Mr Hitler by Jackie french coverAs I expected Jackie French delivers a powerful story with aplomb. The Prologue introduces Johannes, Frau Marks and Helga. Surviving war is a harrowing experience. This is the third and final book in a series about a girl who believes she is Hitler’s daughter as it follows on from Heidi’s story in Hitler’s Daughter and Georg’s in Pennies for Hitler, and shows us that evil must be fought and won.

The description of being herded into cattle cars and being taken to Poland was harrowing. Being from a child’s point of view, the dehumanising of the people crammed into the cars was palpable. His escape due to the miraculous aid of kind hearts that should have been crushed was amazing. Especially as those hearts gave themselves entirely to strangers to offer hope to the children, Johannes survived.Jackie-French-bio pic 2

The cruel twist of internment that continued even after the war had ended was another battle that had to be fought. Eventual escape by immigration made possible by travelling to Australia, a world that was so far away from the place he’d come. There he was reunited with Helga.

Helga continued to be tormented by her deep guilt and feeling of shame. Only Frau Marks could show her that the burden she carried was a lie and one Helga could put behind her, she could replace the hate with love.

This was a moving and gruelling tale aimed at Young Adults is educational and relevant to today’s teenagers. The story shows how love can replace hate even after it has been ingrained by torture and mistreatment.

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Flirting with the Moon by Andrew McDermott reviewed by Jill Smith

Flirting with the Moon coverBook Review by Jill Smith©July18

Title: Flirting with the Moon

Author: Andrew McDermott

Publisher: Publicious

LAPD detective, Joe Dean comes up against a serial killer – The Moon – who changes his life dramatically with the death of the twelfth victim. He loses his career, his family and dignity when the bottle seems an easy way out.

Twenty-five years later Joe is picking up the pieces of his life, recovering from alcoholism and working as a private detective in Florida. While following a case he comes across a book called Flirting with the Moon with each chapter a recounting of the brutal murders he’d investigated all those years before, and the descriptions give details only the Moon could know. The book is taunting as it’s dedicated to Joe Dean.

The thought that The Moon got off scot-free drives Joe Dean to follow the only lead he has to chase the murderer to the other side of the world. The publisher of the book is in Sydney Australia. When he gets there the only lead on the author is a private post box number in Far North Queensland in a town called Candle Stick Bay.andy mcdermott

Once there the locals in the small town community treat him as a US tourist. He becomes involved in the charm of this remote region and its people while prodding for answers to questions that stir up trouble. A natural disaster cuts the already isolated community off from the world. That’s when more murders begin and Joe Dean must face his demons and solve the mystery is this killer and The Moon the same person?

I finished this book in the wee hours, I had to keep reading! All l can say is, if you’re looking for a murder mystery crime book with more twists and turns than a roller coaster, this book is for you!

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FableLands by Samuel Colbran reviewed by Jill Smith

FableLands Part One cover Kayla Briana CiroBook Review by Jill Smith©Sep18

Title: FableLands: Kayla, Briana & Ciro. Interrogation Part One

Title: FableLands: Sammy, Jamila & James.  Interrogation Part Two

Author: Samuel Colbran http://www.samuelcolbran.com/

Publisher: Self Published 

The characters are children or adolescents. The stories are like novellas with subheadings in each story in both books.

1 Kayla – is the mathematical genius who created the concept of FableLands and their physical connection through the Arc to the Angelic super beings in another realm. Although this isn’t made clear until you read both books.

2 Briana: Knight – This character is linked to the Angelic Knight who is a protector and moral compass of the group. Valour, Justice, Faith are the sub-headings ending in Hope. You get the drift.

3 Ciro: Founder – is Kayla’s brother and the genius who creates the mechanisms that allow the youths to link the beings from the other realm.FableLands Part Two cover Sammy Jamila James

The other realm is full of demons that the children meet and battle during their interrogations. The violence each endures during their torture and their subsequent disregard of moral values in executing their escapes is to me as a reader disturbing. I couldn’t see the point of joining a realm where danger caused each member of the group to act like animals.

The end of the first book is a story called – Lake Merrin, Journey of an Adventurer Book One. This introduction to an entirely different character, one that is a despicable drunken layabout former soldier who decides he needs to redeem himself or just get a job by joining a Hall which offers adventure as a career. This story is not related to the stories of the youths and is a very masculine point of view. My feeling is that when Sam went to his first Comic-Con he needed a book to sell and hadn’t finished his story so he used this story as padding. This story has potential and is clearly the basis of another book.

4 Sammy: Trickster – This character delivers a ‘Monkey’ like the television show version of a person. Clearly, Sam loved this Japanese mythology adaption of a show as a youth and he adapted the alternative realm theme for his characters. ‘Monkey Magic’ is what this character’s Ark connects with. The extreme violence of the youth being cooked alive and left for dead by his Ark is again disconcerting.

5 Jamila: Lover – I did say this is a ‘blokey’ kind of book. This characters Ark is Marylyn Monroe and she exudes sexual control over her victims. Her demon interrogator who’s lust serves her to control then devour her enemies. Jamila is not a monster but the demon turns her into one. Only when the spell is broken and she breaks free due to her love for Jimmy is she able to use her healing powers for good and to heal and resurrect Sammy and the others.

6 James/Jimmy – is a giant and his Ark is even more gigantic. He is Jamila’s boyfriend and his intellect is child-like to the point of almost appearing to be a simpleton.

It’s not until the end of the second book that the Point Of View swings to Mr Hammil and his demons and the reader discovers that there is more danger for the group of friends in the next book.

samuel colbran bio picThese aren’t your usual type of books. I like Sci-fi. I write Sci-fi. However, the three stories in each of these books with only a chapter front page image and the blurb at the back of the book to give you a clue as to the characters and the story makes it confusing and disjointed. Again in book two, the chapter divisions are pictures of the characters with clues to their abilities. The writing is in need of some editing and in my opinion, the two books could easily be one.

This is a very long review of two slim volumes and I’m posting it on my blog by way of explanation for my TWO STAR review on Goodreads. The covers are great and Goodreads has a link to his book trailers. As in all reviews, the view is subjective. I hope Sam goes on to write many more books and that his following developed by his enthusiastic presentations at Comic-Con and Supernova is a reward for those who enjoy his books. I doubt I’ll read any more of his work.

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Nose to Tail by Louise Harding review by Jill Smith

nosetotail-dog-training-book coverI bought this book to give to my son and daughter-in-law who have a Bull Arab Cross. They bought Angus as a family pet.

I’ve read parts of the book and was impressed by the checklists and suggestions for prospective dog owners to ensure they choose the right dog for them. This covers what type of family home the dog owners have, unit, house etc. The descriptions of dog types and their needs, such as lap dog, hound or energetic hunting dog etc., so that a dog owner can decide on the right dog for their home. She goes on with training tips that are practical and easy to follow. The book is well written and clearly draws on her years of work in this field.

louise-harding-author-nose-to-tail-book bio pic

When Louise came to a Gold Coast Writers meeting to speak she had her audience spellbound even though she didn’t have a dog at her side, she conveyed her passion for training dogs and dog owners.

I think anyone with a dog or planning on getting a dog would benefit from her words of wisdom. https://www.nosetotailbook.com

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