Jennifer Douglas is a literary publicist who believes in the right of equality for all authors. With a vision of a world where positivity is the norm and negativity is long forgotten Jennifer works alongside authors creating a marketing and publicity plan that meets the needs of the individual.

With years of experience in publicity, public relations and the marketing industry, which includes working with Allen and Unwin and Palmer Higgs Publishing, Jennifer has become a well sort after reviewer. To work with Jennifer is to know you are working with someone who will not hold back on being open and honest about your book and its marketing possibilities.

Having undertaken many courses in writing and poetry over the years Jennifer has a vast knowledge in the field of writing and reviewing, being able to provide an efficient, effective and professional service. As a qualified Early Childhood Educator and a home educating mum with over 16 years experience, she has a passion for quality children's books and educational resources.

Having spent 6 years as the founder and managing editor of two magazines, Good Gabble and Rattling Reviews, Jennifer has an eye for marketing and sales, knowing what the consumer is looking for and how to reach them. She works individually with each client meeting their needs and the needs of their product. She has many years experience in critiquing websites, placing herself in the shoes of the consumer who is browsing. Many clients return time and time again knowing they will be receiving an honest, open and non judgmental review or critique. Jennifer prides herself on providing a friendly, non threatening and personal service. Her clients are able to contact her personally throughout the whole review process.

For further information on the services Jennifer offers please visit her website www.jenniferdouglasliterarypublicist.com. This blog is a review base only.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Know Your Enemy by Tasman Anderson

‘Silverlake was a total suckfest of a town’, the opening line of Know Your Enemy by Tasman Anderson. An opening line that had me smiling and left me feeling I was in for a down to earth read I was going to love. 

Know Your Enemy is a young adult novel that will not disappoint. From the first line onwards I was smiling, giggling and at times a little worried for the characters. There was not a minute of Know Your Enemy that I did not love. It has everything a teenager with relate too and love, from high school antics, to crime, adventure, hunky guys and unsure girls, all set within a town that is said to have nothing to offer. 

Know Your Enemy jumps straight into it, leaving you no time to take a breath. I engaged with the characters instantly, feeling as though I was a teenager all over again. There is nothing that would give you any hint that this book was written by anyone older than their teenage years. Tasman Anderson writes with a young addictive style that flows beautifully, twisting and turning, keeping you engaged and mesmerized.

Tasman Anderson is an Australian YA author one should keep their eye on. Know Your Enemy is her first book but there will be many more to follow. Tasman is not new to the writing world. Her website tells us that she is a member of the University of Queensland’s Journalism and Communication Society ( JACS) as well as the Australian Crime Writers Association (ACWA) and the Gold Coast Writer’s Association. She has received awards for her journalism, having been published in both local and international publications. 

I can only highly recommend Know Your Enemy by Tasman Anderson. Even those who are not normally YA readers are sure to love this little gem of a novel.

Find out more about Tasman Anderson www.tasmananderson.com

Purchase a copy of Know Your Enemy from Odyssey Books http://odysseybooks.com.au/bookstore or Amazon. 

Review: Jennifer Douglas

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Drago Tree by Isobel Blackthorn

The Drago Tree by Isobel Blackthorn grabs you, throws you around and leaves you wanting more. 

The connections with the characters in The Drago Tree are real. From the first word Isobel Blackthorn has scribed till the last you are captivated. You loose yourself within the world on the pages. Your connection with the characters become that of a friendship, your journey an adventure that keeps you guessing from page to page. When you reach the end you close the book feeling a little lost as you realise it is over. 

Isobel Blackthorn is a writer who has the skill of creating a scene that places you there. This is often something writers struggle with but not Isobel Blackthorn. As a reader I was not only there, I did not want to leave. I was engaged fully, feeling I could touch, see and smell the place and time. Isobel Blackthorn had me standing next to the characters, as one of them. She had me stepping forward with each page, never missing a beat in flow or plot. The Drago Tree is a book that will inspire all writers to continue to create in the hope of achieving the level of that of Isobel Blackthorn.

Ann Salter seeks sanctuary on the exotic island of Lanzarote, an island I spent a few days enjoy, discovering myself as Ann does herself. Although I feel I have traveled this island I am left wanting to go back to where I was. I have so much I want to say to Ann, questions, friendship, and more questions lurk within me. The betrayal, conquest and love within the pages of The Drago Tree are real, leaving me seeking more. Should I have been satisfied? Maybe, but I am sure Isobel Blackthorn would be pleased I am still seeking.

The Drago Tree is a well-presented book. My copy was read in e-book format. I am a paperback reader, enjoying the overall experience that holding a book creates, so the strength I found within this e-book is a credit to Isobel Blackthorn. For myself the glare of a screen, the hard and flat feel of the Kindle, often creates an environment that leads to a struggle to read the content. The ability to be able to immerse myself in The Drago Tree and not want to put it down shows the strength of the writing of Isobel Blackthorn and the creation of a piece of literary fiction that engages. 

There is no doubt that I will soon be reading Isobel Blackthorn’s other novel Asylum, also published by Odyssey books. 

The Drago Tree by Isobel Blackthorn is available from Amazon in e-book and paperback format.

review: Jennifer Douglas

The Ouroboros Key by Patricia Leslie

A Quest To Secure The Future Of Humanity

A mythical book full of mystery and fantasy. The Ouroboros Key by Patricia Leslie takes you on a journey that will stay with you for years to come. 

The Ouroboros Key by Patricia Leslie took me by surprise. I was definitely not expecting the strength and adventure that I found within. I was hooked within the first paragraph, finding it a hard book to put down. Patricia Leslie writes with strength. Her ability to play with words, providing clear description that intrigues and invites, is the making of a talented author. Within The Ouroboros Key there is enough action, detail and mythical tale to keep you fully engaged and dancing around the pages. The strength in characters is  refreshing. Patricia Leslie has placed all the ingredients of a best seller into a tightly written story. The balance between mystery, thrill and suspense has been achieved to the degree that you are left wanting more.

It is always nice to see an Australian writer shine. The Ouroboros Key is the first novel by Patricia Leslie and I am eager to see what she gives us next. The Ouroboros Key comes from Patricia Leslie’s interest in myths from Sumer, Celtic Cultures and early Christianity. As a reader you can see this interest and passion shine through the pages. It is evident that Patricia Leslie has used her knowledge of a topic and her talent as a creative writer to create a story that will captivate many. Her Amazon bio states that Odyssey books is currently preparing her second novel for publication…my level of excitement has risen. I eagerly await. 

I could tell you what The Ouroboros Key is about but I would not be able to do it justice. For this book I choose to leave the mystery to the reader. What I will tell you is that should you grab a copy you will be in for a fast paced and exciting journey. You will travel with the main character Dan wanting to flick through those pages as fast as you can, eager to find out what happens next. 

The Ouroboros Key by Patricia Leslie is a magical journey suitable from young adults onwards. Two words come to mind when I think of this book: captivating and suspenseful. 

Available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback. 

Review: Jennifer Douglas

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Water of Life ( Uisge beatha) by Daniel Marchildon

The Water of Life (Uisge beatha) by Daniel Marchildon is a well-researched book that has you traveling several centuries of whisky history. Presented as a fiction, it not only entertains but informs. 

I am not a whisky drinker, but I am a book lover. Within The Water of Life I found a book that, although I probably would never have considered reading until given to me for review, I enjoyed. I will admit it took me a chapter or two to get into the flow of the writing of Daniel Marchildon but once I did the ride was smooth. 

There is a large degree of to and fro from past to present within The Water of Life as the story spans several generations: three lineages and two continents. Daniel Marchildon writes in a manner that allows the reader to travel back and forth with ease, never missing a beat or detail.  For myself the connection was with Elizabeth Legrand and her determination to open a distillery, in a small isolated town, creating a single-malt whiskey. I envied her strong will and her passion for what she set out to do. This connection created a small degree of issues for me as a reader. With a strong connection to Elizabeth I battled to connect with the characters of the past. Daniel Marchildon does a great job of taking you there, allowing you to feel the place and time, but the bond I created with Elizabeth had me wanting to be back beside her. When reading reviews by others it is obvious this was a personal experience of my own and not what others found. It in no way reflected on my ability to enjoy my read but meant I had to focus more on what I was reading when in the past, instead of allowing the words to flow through my mind and connect. 

Daniel Marchildon has done a wonderful job at blending history with fiction. There is a lot of history within The Water of Life that, as a non-drinker of whisky, I was not aware of. My read of The Water of Life has definitely educated me and had me wanting to know more about not only about whisky but about the era, Scotland and Canada. It is rare that a fiction leaves you inquisitive and thirsty for more factual history, but Daniel Marchildon has definitely achieved this. 

Originally published in French as L’eau de vie  (Uisge beatha) The Water of Life ( Uisge beatha ) has been translated into English by  Märta Ziemelis and published by Odyssey Books in Australia. 

Overall Daniel Marchildon has done an excellent job with The Water of Life. Whisky drinker or not there is something in this piece of fictional work for everyone. History, saga and adventure all await, tantalizing your taste buds and nasal passages with the whisky you never knew you needed.

The Water of Life ( Uisge beatha) is available in both e-book and paperback from Amazon.com

Review: Jennifer Douglas

Friday, August 21, 2015

KY! by Clancy Tucker

If there is one book you should encourage your child to read this year it should be KY!. If there is one book every adult should read this year it is also KY!. This beautifully written heart warming story of a young Muslim refugee and her journey to find acceptance leaves you with hope in your heart. Hope that all who read this story will find it in their hearts to accept others with open arms. The strength within KY! has the ability to change the thoughts and actions of the next generation of adults, creating a  world of compassion, understanding and cultural acceptance.

From the back of the book:

Rida Khalid is a Muslim refugee from Iran. She is bullied by two girls at school for wearing a hijab ( Muslim headscarf), reading books and wearing glasses, and seeks refuge in an old man’s garden after school. Rida meets an Asian girl at school, Ky, who also loves books, and Rida soon dumps her for a gawky girl, Carmen, who teaches her about fitting in. To be accepted, Rida removes her hijab at school, but she must wear her headscarf whilst competing in the inter-school sports. Her family will attend.

Rida deliberately loses the first race because Carmen says “ Only nerds do well in sports.” The sports master berates Rida for losing the race and points to Ky who’s made an extraordinary effort to get out of hospital to watch her run. Ky is battling leukaemia. Rida wins the next two races and gives her winning ribbons to Ky for good luck.

Rida enters the State Athletics Championships, but two athletics clubs lodge an objection to her hijab. Rida is shocked when a retired Queens Counsel (QC) represents her at the Equal Opportunity Commission. Who is he? Will Rida win the case? Will she run in the State Championship? Will Ky beat leukaemia, and who owns the garden that Rida used as a sanctuary?

The back blurb of KY! does not do it justice. In only 95 pages Clancy Tucker says so much. Within Rida he has created a young girl who is an inspiration and a great role model for children worldwide. Finding yourself in a new country would not be easy but Rida takes it all in her stride. From the detention centre to integration into Australian society, Rida embraces life and learning using Banjo Patterson’s The Man from Snowy River to drive her forward. 

KY! is a book that needs to become part of every school curriculum. The topical issues covered are those which are raw within society. With terrorism becoming the ‘norm’ within our news, and the Muslim culture and their right to wear a hijab continuing to be an issue of debate, KY! opens discussion in a non threatening and heart warming manner. KY! by Clancy Tucker does not judge it educates. 

Then their are the other topics within. When Rida finds Ky has leukaemia her compassion and care for her new friend, who she really hardly knows, is heartwarming. Rida sets about to learn as much about her friends disease as she can. She writes to her friend and visits her in hospital whenever she can. She uses positive words to share love and healing, creating a bond that will last a lifetime. Acceptance of who we are and others as individuals runs through Rida, leaving a message that the reader will carry with them throughout life. 

Poetry runs through my blood. For myself it is a  little piece of Australian history that often gets forgotten. Clancy Tucker has won my heart with his use of  The Man from Snowy River by Banjo Patterson. He has managed to interweave it into a children’s novel with ease and grace. It touched my heart to see a piece of bush poetry, a piece of Australian history, used in such a beautiful story full of  mateship and compassion; the Australian way of life. 

On an educational level KY! opens the door for discussion and further learning that will only enrich the life of children. KY! opens a whole new literary world. After reading KY! children will only want to know more about the Muslim and Asian cultures, they will want to know more about leukaemia, they will think twice before they bully and react to those who bully on a new level. Most of all they will find belief in themselves and love and compassion for all around them.

As a writer Clancy Tucker continues to grow in strength. When I pick up a Clancy Tucker novel I can be sure of one thing, that the housework will be forgotten and that the emotions will be flowing. Thank you Clancy Tucker for enriching the literary world. 

ISBN: 978-1-646-93226-2

Available as a signed paperback with matching bookmark and as an e-book from www.clancytucker.com.au

review: Jennifer Douglas

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

PA Joe's Place by Clancy Tucker

Pa Joe’s Place by Clancy Tucker is sweet story that speaks volumes. At only 8 years old, and with her father dying Boo Nawigamune is sent to live at Pa Joe’s Place, an orphanage far away from her parents and seven siblings. During her journey she survives a train derailment,a snake bite, tsunami and a fire. 

Never before have I cried my way through a book like I did with Pa Joe’s Place. I cannot remember ever having cried so early in a book with the tears flowing at only chapter three. Within Pa Joe’s Place Clancy Tucker has created a book that moves you page by page. At times I felt that what Boo went through in such a short time was a little unbelievable but at the same time it sat true in my heart and it moved me. I could not do anything but love little Boo. Her strength and compassion as she travels 1700 kilometres from her home to live in an orphanage is inspiring. At such a young age this gifted girl teaches us so much. 

Pa Joe’s Place is an exceptional novel that is not often seen. It is one of those gems that leaves you reeling with emotions days, weeks, months and years after you have read it. Still many months after I shed my last tear Pa Joe’s Place sits within my heart. As I write this my heart flutters and my stomach feels empty as I vividly recall the journey I traveled with Boo. I feel the loss of Boo as though she was a child of my own. 

Pa Joe’s Place is a cultural journey through Thailand were the reader meets the people, the culture and the environment. It educates and it inspires. I cannot speak words powerful enough to do the content of Pa Joe’s Place justice nor the spiritual journey that it takes you on. Pa Joe’s Place gave me hope. It made me smile and it inspired me to be the best person I could be. 

In his author’s notes Clancy Tucker writes:

I met Boo Nawigamune in 1973 when I was dealing with the death of a very close friend. Boo reached out and we became the closest of friends. To this day, she is still the most gifted and compassionate child I’ve ever met. I was the lucky one. Our world would be a far better place had she lived longer. Sadly, Boo died of leukaemia, but she was happy and focused until the end - a magnificent kid. What you saw was what you got - pure sunshine. 

Within Pa Joe’s Place Clancy Tucker does Boo proud.There could be no better tribute to a little girl with a pure heart of gold.  The deep love, understanding and friendship that Boo and Clancy had shines throughout Pa Joe’s Place

I will continue to carry Boo Nawigamune with me in my heart as though I knew her personally. When times are tough I will remember the journey of a little girl that showed so much strength and courage. I smile as I think of her name. I share the kindness toward others on behalf of Boo, a little girl who’s short time on earth touched so many.

Boo wanted to change lives and today she continues to do so through the writing of Clancy Tucker

ISBN: 978-0-646-57220-8

review: Jennifer Douglas

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Coins for the Ferryman by Leone Sperling

Review by Skye Hancock

When I first started reading this book I was immediately sucked in by the main character, her life and her way of thinking.

I did not want to stop reading because I wanted to know what she was going to do next. I almost found her analysis’s and reactions throughout the book, hypnotising. 

Leone’s writing style is detailed, quick and to the point. It is written as though she is re-calling facts, leaving me constantly guessing as to whether they were actual events. She is so clever that I was so drawn into this book that it wasn’t until the end that I realised there were no names mentioned, not once.

What interested me about this story in the beginning was the fact that this recently divorced 40 year old woman, mother of four, was travelling to a foreign continent on her own for six weeks. A realistic, relatable story in today’s society.

As she begins her voyage she starts to also reflect on her past. She thinks about her marriage, children, relationship with her mother, relationships with men and other numerous past events to which all have helped mould the person she is and led her to this point in her life. With time and distance between herself and her family, she slowly begins to see her life from a different perspective and there begins her journey of self-discovery and self-love, finally finding her way to freedom.
There were times in the book where I did feel as though I was getting a little bored of her re-call of past events because I was desperate to find out more about her Europe trip. I also found the main character’s selfish ways and rebellious behaviour completely irritating at times. I know in the end, this helped concrete the purpose of the book and kept me interested in waiting for her to reach her maturity. Having said that, it was the stories of her past, her struggles within and battles along the way that intrigued me the most, forcing me to reflect on my own life, leaving me in tears.
The climax to the end of the book was fantastic. I loved the last four pages the most and the characters analysis and new found perspective on life were eye-opening.

In the end I think the book came together really well. I would recommend this book to anyone currently on their own soul-searching journey, or in need of a little woman empowerment inspiration!

ISBN: 978-0-9925601-6-4

Available in paperback and ebook from Amazon

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blurline by TW Lawless

Blurline is the third book in the Peter Clancy series by TW Lawless. Set in London Peter Clancy digs up the dirt on Olivia Michaels, a drug-and-alcohol induced celebrity. He soon finds himself deep in mud as he exposes the ugly secrets that stretch across the entertainment world.

Blurline is TW Lawless at his best. Can Peter Clancy continue to survive in the world of scandalous journalism? Can he succeed in his mission to blow the lid off Britain’s darkest secrets? 

Within Blurline TW Lawless touches on a topic that is raw within our media and the celebrity world. Although topical he shows awareness of the fact that this may be a little close to home for some, addressing a scandalous issue with softness and compassion whilst maintaining a read that entertains and relates. The topic of pedophilia has never been as reachable as it is in Blurline. At no time whilst reading Blurline did I feel it was a fictional book of controversy, instead I was caught up in the pages eager to find out what Peter Clancy uncovered next.

TW Lawless does not miss a beat from one book to the other. Blurline carries the characters from Homecountry and Thornydevils nicely, introducing new characters that only compliment. Peter Clancy takes a piece of Australia to London as he maintains his lovable larrikin ways, fitting nicely into the UK setting. 

It is hard to do Blurline justice as TW Lawless yet again leaves me on a high note wanting more. He shows that he only grows in strength from book to book. Prior to reading Blurline I was asked to read and review Gun Control by Peter Corris, who is labeled as “The godfather of Australian Crime Fiction.’ Unfortunately, after reading TW Lawless, Peter Corris was a flat read. He lacked the strength in his characters and the thrill and chase that TW Lawless provides. Peter Corris tells a crime story, TW Lawless takes you on the journey. Cliff Hardy tells you what is happening, Peter Clancy takes you with him and shows you one hell of a good time. From a woman’s perspective Peter Corris lacked the love and romance that TW Lawless provides, leaving a more manly read. TW Lawless provides his female readers with Peter Clancy, a male character that easily gets the hormones racing and cupid’s arrow flying. He is a womaniser with a cunningness that you cannot help falling in love with, leading you feeling you could be that one woman who hooks him in and holds him forever. 

Blurline has it all - crime, scandal, conflict, drugs, alcohol, love, sex and humour. Just the right mixture of the lot to make this a number one seller. It provides a light hearted read full of adventure, strength and character. As a fictional character Peter Clancy uses his wit and charisma to twirl you around and spit you out, leaving you wanting more. You can’t help but love him whilst wondering how one man can continue to get caught up in the underworld, putting himself at risk. Come on Peter, surely you have learnt your lesson by now? But then men like Peter Clancy never learn. The thrill of a chase, the dirt of others and a salacious life is what drives them forward.

I wait with anticipation and craving for the next book in the Peter Clancy series by TW Lawless.

ISBN: 978-0-9942651-0-4

Available in paperback and ebook www.twlawless.com 

Review: Jennifer Douglas

Purchase a paperback copy of Blurline from www.twlawless.com to become an exclusive member of the Peter Clancy Club.

Other titles in the Peter Clancy series:

Monday, May 18, 2015

Gun Control by Peter Corris

Peter Corris has been around for a long time writing his first Cliff Hardy novel in 1980. Gun Control is the latest Cliff Hardy book, seeing Cliff hired by entrepreneur and one-time pistol-shooting champion Timothy Greenhall to investigate the violent death of his troubled son.

This was my second Peter Corris read, having read The Empty Beach, and seen the movie, many years ago. I will admit that The Empty Beach as a read never did it for me, the movie, on the other hand I enjoyed. This was a bit of a role reversal for myself as I am a reader not a movie lover. Over the years I have looked at other work by Peter Corris and for one reason or another never read them. I picked up Gun Control with an open mind hoping I was about to find a new crime fiction author to follow, be it later than most.  After all he is labelled as ‘the godfather of Australian crime fiction.’

Within the first few chapters my disappointment was evident. I was left scratching my head as to why he was ‘the godfather of Australian crime fiction’ when there are many Australian crime writers who offer way more strength in characters and plot. T.W Lawless is one that comes instantly to mind with his Peter Clancy series.

For myself Peter Corris did not give me enough connection with the characters. They lacked strength and the bonding process was slow, if at all. I do not feel I engaged and got to know the characters personally. There was no falling in love with a particular character or fondness. The lack of connection lead to just a read for myself instead of a journey. Peter Corris can write but for a man who has been labelled with a strong title and one who has been writing Cliff Hardy novels for over 20 years I was expecting more of a developed character with a plot that took me there, instead of just told me. 

The back blurb of Gun Control speaks of way more strength than the inside. There is a death to be investigated, followed by two murders. There is mention of a hook up with a policewoman and of an alliance with a bikie chief. It speaks of Hardy untangling the conspiracy behind the murders and of confrontations. Yes they happen, but they just happen. For me I was not ‘involved’ in them. I was not left gasping or sitting on the edge of my seat hoping Cliff made it through and caught the bad guy. When Cliff was thrown in the car and taken for a drive I was not left wondering if this was the end of him or how he would get himself out of this situation. 

The wonderful thing about books is that they are diverse and enable readers to take from them different thoughts and feelings. Some we connect with, others we don’t. Some love one book, others don’t. I appreciate that Peter Corris has a following but as a crime fiction reader I will continue to question why he has been given a title that befits so many other crime fiction writers. Is it the quantity of Cliff Hardy books he has published? Is it the length of time he has been writing? Is it just purely a spin off of the column he writes and good marketing? He has experience. He has history as an author. He even has awards. Peter Corris writes with professionalism that includes the occasional one liner to keep you interested but maybe, just maybe, he is being given attention that is leading to the neglect of the strength of other crime fiction writers in Australia.

Overall Gun Control by Peter Corris is a worthy weekend read if you are looking for something to fill in the hours. It has left me wanting to know more about Peter Corris himself and wondering if maybe I should read another Cliff Hardy novel in order to form a deeper opinion of the series as a whole. I can see the writing style of Peter Corris fitting nicely into that of autobiographies and will be delving into that side of Peter Corris the author. 

ISBN: 978-1-76011-206-6

Published by Allen and Unwin

Review: Jennifer Douglas

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Road To Nowhere by Evan Shapiro

Road to Nowhere by Evan Shapiro leaves you deep in thought about the past, present and future of the human species. It takes you to places you hope you never need to go, presenting global issues that although fiction seem so real. 

Presented as a science fiction novel Road to Nowhere is so much more. Evan Shapiro has entwined a variety of genre’s within one book. Based around the main characters of Patrick and Kirby, Evan Shapiro has your mind twirling around relationships, love and the need for ones own identity, whilst pondering how far you would go with another in order to protect yourself and the one you love. There is crime, a murder, left to be solved by Anthenian Detective Costas Paradisos, that uncovers more than he ever imagined and leads to relationships not only of sex and lust but of deep connection. Throw in Angel, a gifted teenager who is able to ‘complete advanced mathematical calculations in her head within a fraction of a second’ and an old man known as Ancient and you have an array of characters who hold a connection stronger than they realise.

Road to Nowhere takes you there. With Costas you travel the globe, with Patrick, Ancient and Angel you travel Australia whilst Kirby has you floating around in space talking DNA and atomic organic structure. Evan Shapiro is a writer not to be messed with. He shows immense strength in his structure and plot creating individual lives that have you enveloped in their adventure yet entwined in the complete journey.

Road to Nowhere by Evan Shapiro is one of those books that is hard to describe. I definitely do not feel I can do it justice in the form of a written review. This is a book that you must read to appreciate and to feel the full weight of what possibly may not be as fictional as it is presented. 

I urge you to put down what you are currently reading and grab a copy of Road To Nowhere. You will soon be seeing the world around you from a different thought perspective. 

I leave you with the three following extracts from various pages of Road To Nowhere by Evan Shapiro.

‘What was survival if its cost left you spiritually bankrupt? As a species should we not only strive to survive but also strive to evolve?’

‘There are only three things you need to worry about. What you were, what you are and what you’ll be.’

“What if all other living creatures apart from humanity are born with an understanding of universal truths. Seems to me they tend to live their lives in sync with nature rather than in opposition to it. They don’t destroy to the capacity and scale that people do. Perhaps humanity is wasting its time trying to find answers to questions that every other living being already knows instinctively?” The old man smiled. 
ISBN: 978-0-9925601-8-8
Available in paperback and ebook from Amazon

Join Evan Shapiro on Facebook: www.facebook.com/evanshapiro.author

review: Jennifer Douglas

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ralf by Anne Crawford

Ralf by Anne Crawford is a book that touches your heart and has you riding an emotional rollercoaster.

Ralf is a Giant Schnauzer with a heart of gold. Facing an uncertain future Caroline Lovick  and her family take Ralf into their home in Melbourne. Ralf soon becomes an important part of not only Caroline’s family but that of those he greets at the school gate each day. Children stop to pat him, turning him into a celebrity in his own right. Caroline soon feels there is more to Ralf than anyone realises. After attending the Royal Melbourne Show, where Ralf competed, Caroline see’s his potential as a therapy dog. Ralf soon spends many years of his life touching hearts at not only Trinity Manor nursing home but largely at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

Ralf is a gentle read that you just don’t want to put down. For myself this book came into my life at a time when I was in the process of getting an assistance dog for my daughter who has Autism so I surely related to the wonders of animals as therapy. I easily connected to Ralf and his ways, bonding with a lovable dog with a huge heart. 

Ralf is more than a story about one dog, it is a story of compassion, understanding, love and dedication. It is a celebration of the endless time volunteers give just to place smiles on faces and share love with others. Caroline is an amazing woman who dedicates many of her hours to those who are sick, alleviating stress from families. Caroline’s compassion, understanding and tireless work should be commended. Ralf by Anne Crawford celebrates a dog and human team who work miracles. 

I went through all the emotions when reading Ralf, emotions created not only by the patients of the hospital but by Ralf and Caroline and their relationship together. Anne Crawford has written a book that allows you to easily connect to the content, traveling the journey with the team. 

The share of royalties from this book that would normally go to Ralf’s family are being donated to The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne and Lort Smith Animal Hospital, who looked after Ralf throughout the journey. Another show of how Caroline, and her family, put others needs before their own.

If you are after a easy read that will touch your heart, educate and envelope you in love and warmth then Ralf by Anne Crawford is what you are after. 

ISBN: 978-1-76011-122-9

Published 2015 by Allen & Unwin

review: Jennifer Douglas

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Lornesleigh Legacy by Kay Bell

The Lornesleigh Legacy is the first book by Kay Bell, an Australian author who resides in Victoria. Set in Australia during the time of convict settlement, the  gold rush, the boom years and the depression of the 1930’s, The Lornesleigh Legacy takes the reader on a journey of love, loss and life as it use to be.

The Lornesleigh Legacy is focused around Will, a young boy living on a cattle station in North Queensland and John Clark, Will’s grandfather. Poppy John, as he is known to his family, is a well respected man and the patriarch of the family empire.  With the family falling apart and Will suffering an injury, Poppy John takes Will away to recuperate. It is here that the reader begins their journey of time travel as Poppy John shares his secret box of treasures from the past with Will.

The Lornesleigh Legacy surprised me. I found way more than I thought I would. I soon became attached to the 90 year old man and this boy who deserved more love and respect than his parents seemed to offer. Kay Bell writes with eloquence and grace as she captures the time and place in history that we can only imagine and read in books. Through her writing she is able to give the readers a clear visual of each scene, allowing them to imagine the sights, smells and emotions of the characters. 

I loved everything about this book. Although fiction I was enveloped in history and the love between Poppy John and Will. I angered at the treatment of Will by his mother and the weak role his father seemed to play.  I rode the tidal wave of the family bickering and division. As Poppy John aged through the years of his life I felt his love and his loss. I gasped in places and I shouted no. I turned each page awaiting the next part of the journey as the years in Poppy John’s life diminished, not wanting this man to leave yet knowing his time was limited. I lived in hope that the end of the book did not see the end of this old man, feeling Will’s heartbreak before I knew the outcome. 

I read The Lornesleigh Legacy in ebook format which I purchased from Amazon.com. This has left me a little disappointed as it is one of those books I would love to have displayed in paperback on my shelf having the opportunity to  discuss and share it with others. I can only imagine what it would feel like to hold a little bit of Poppy John’s life in my hands. I imagine it would feel soft, gentle, alive and full of the love of an old man who lived his life. 

The Lornesleigh Legacy has left me hoping we will see more from author Kay Bell. I await to see if we are given the opportunity to follow the continued journey of Will’s life in a sequel. 

Visit Kay Bell’s website www.kaybell.com.au

Review: Jennifer Douglas

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cassie's Marvelous Music Lessons by Sheri Poe-Pape

Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons is the first book by Sheri Poe-Pape. When not writing Sheri is the director of Pape Conservatory of Music where she has spent the last thirty three years teaching piano. Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons is based on fourteen years of sharing her teaching with her beloved canine companion.

Within Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons Sheri Poe-Pape introduces us to a sweet little dog Cassie and her owner Mrs Applebaum. The  personification of Cassie ‘the marvelous music mutt’, whilst still maintaining her dog qualities, had me wondering if it was going to work but Sheri has pulled it off nicely, producing a character that delighted my 7 year old daughter. 

Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons speaks of love and warmth. Cassie is an instant hit with the children who attend the piano lesson of Mrs Applebaum, providing an atmosphere that promotes learning and understanding. For Mrs Applebaum having Cassie in her life opens her heart and helps her tune into her skills of listening and understanding. Cassie has something to say to Mrs Applebaum but she does not seem to understand. With a lot of perseverance from Cassie and a little bit of patience from Mrs Applebaum the message is soon loud and clear and Cassie is rewarded.

As far as illustrated children’s books go Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons is a little more wordy than the norm. This makes it more suitable for the older reader or as a read to me book for the younger child. I feel the illustrations within Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons are very basic, not quiet giving me what I would have liked.  With the length and depth of the book I would have liked to have seen illustrations that are more inviting and have a more 3D effect, matching the personification and bouncy flamboyant feel of Cassie. In this instance the match of author to illustrator was done by the publishers Mayhaven Publishing, being a reflection on their choice not that of the author. This reflection should not take part in the consideration of purchase as Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons has a great story to tell. 

Overall Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons is a fun loving read with positive messages. Speaking of the universal language of music and the companionship provided by a canine friend, Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lesson has the ingredients of a book that will be loved by children. It is presented as a hardcover high quality book that sits nicely on a child’s book shelf, lasting for years. I look forward to following the growth of Sheri Poe-Pape as an author.  I wonder if we will see further adventures by Cassie the marvelous music mutt. 

ISBN: 9781932278361

Authors website: www.sheripoe-pape.com

Purchase a copy of Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons from the author’s site, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

review: Jennifer Douglas

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Trials of Oscar Pistorius: Chase Your Shadow by John Carlin

Reeva Steenkamp died by gunshot in the apartment of her boyfriend Oscar Pistorius. Oscar was the one who pulled the trigger. The world soon became captivated and followed the journey as Oscar was charged with Reeva’s murder. There was much debate and differing opinions on whether it was premeditated or an accident. In The Trials of Oscar Pistorius Chase Your Shadow John Carlin enters into this debate, giving an insight into the life of an athlete known to all as the ‘Blade Runner’.

When first receiving this book I held it in my hands with trepidation. I was eager to take the leap into the pages but hesitant at the same time, wondering if this was going to be a book that was unbalanced and biased. The question that kept going through my head was whose side John Carlin was going to take. I was pleased to find the answer to be neither. John Carlin does a wonderful job at keeping balance within his report. He uses facts from the court case and the lives of those involved to allow the reader to form their own opinion. At times I was sure Oscar Pistorius was innocent, but then at times I wondered if maybe I was wrong. 

The Trials of Oscar Pistorius is more than a book about the event, it is a look into the life of Oscar from birth to committal. It gives us an insight into the person he is outside of that of an olympic athlete. John Carlin allows us to see the ‘human’ side of Oscar Pistorius without playing the poor special needs man card. For Oscar life is different to that of the able bodied man but he proves that a disability need not hold you back, a reflection of his upbringing and the messages instilled in him by his mum.

So what of Reeva Steenkamp? There is not as much of a mention of the life of Reeva within The Trials of Oscar Pistorius, the title making the reason for this obvious, but John Carlin provides the reader with enough of an insight to allow them to form a visual of her life prior to and whilst in a relationship with Oscar. He shows the love she had for Oscar, and he for her, but also places a shadow of doubt as to whether their love could have been tainted. 

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable and balanced read that left me sitting on the fence wanting to discuss the book with someone else and put together the pieces floating through my mind. 

The Trials of Oscar Pistorius Chase Your Shadow is well written, showing the experience John Carlin has in the field of journalism and writing. If you wish to fill in the gaps left by the media this is definitely the book that will do it.  

RRP: $29.99

Available from www.allenandunwin.com.au

Reviewed by Jennifer Douglas