Reviews for Other Authors

Hold onto your Akubra and take a wild ride around the Top End!

Hold onto your Akubra, (if you don't have one, get one) and take a wild ride around the Top End of the 51tC4cPWjML._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Northern Territory with Annie Seaton in her fantastic adventure/romance novel "Kakadu Sunset." It should come with a warning - Beware of crocodiles and sharks!

There are crocodiles a plenty in the waters around the Wold Heritage listed National Park, but there are also plenty of sharks waiting to bite around the Parliament of Darwin.

If you have ever been to Darwin and Kakadu or ever wanted to explore this wondrous site, Annie Seaton will take you on a wild ride of exploration and discovery to delight,  entice and thrill. She supplies enough suspense, drama, a tinge of romance, complex yet believable characters, as well as a dose of current political viewpoint along with debatable environmental issues. Annie Seaton has obviously researched not only the location thoroughly, but also everything to do with flying helicopters and the disastrous results of mining so close to a world heritage national park.


I found her descriptions of the area took me back with fond memories to my visit of Kakadu and I couldn't help laugh when she even included the phrase "Kakadon't" that I have heard so many times before from people who have visited when it has been far too hot and humid. I also enjoyed her snippets of Darwin after spending two years there myself. It's amazing that a brief mention of a street name or suburb can spark  the flooding of good times shared with new friends in a town that became home for a short while. Yet these descriptions did not distract from the pace of the story telling, for me, they enriched it all the more. The lookout at Ubirr over Arnhem land, Yellow Waters sunset cruises, the Crocodile Hotel and Jabiru, not to mention the suburb of Cullen Bay, Darwin, these are all so familiar to me.

The main character, Ellie Porter, is the local helicopter pilot, raised on a mango plantation next to the national park, but when her father suddenly died, the farm was sold and the family left the Territory, all except Ellie. Her heart belonged to the Territory, she could never leave this pristine area. On a return flight to base after a dramatic rescue, Ellie spots digging near the back of the old property, just near the border to the park. Her curiosity and fear for the possible destruction of her beloved land lead Ellie into all kinds of trouble. Can she learn to trust the new pilot who desperately wants to keep to himself? The romance between the two is an obvious one however the characters are endearing enough to make you want to see them come together. The villains are so nasty you can't wait to see what punishment Annie has in store for them. The inevitable crocodile scene is brilliant! I found myself almost punching the air with delight! "Yes! Got him!" This by no means gives away the ending or what happens to the main antagonist. For that, you will have to read "Kakadu Sunset" yourself.

A compelling story of love, loss, ancient land,  and current political issues. Told among striking scenery and woven around complex characters, "Kakadu Sunset" is a story that will take you on a wild ride through the Australian Outback. If you have ever been to the Northern Territory it will bring back delightful memories. If you have never been, it will only inspire that spark to travel the open road. So hitch up the caravan, put on your hat and shorts, drink a cold beverage and dive into Annie Seaton's "Kakadu Sunset" before the wet season and the storms roll around once more.

Crocodiles are never to be taken lightly. This photo was taken from our Yellow Waters River Cruise. Copyright Sandra Bennett

Curious Creatures, Quirky Caricatures.

This review is from: Larry Potty's Animal Rhymes (Kindle Edition) 513yOjku0ML._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_Larry Potty's Animal Rhymes is a cleverly written children's picture book of delightful poems and humorous illustrations that go hand in hand beautifully. This is only a brief book with six short poems in total. However, for its target audience of 3-6 year old children I feel it is ample in length.Just long enough to hold the youngest one in the family's attention and enough length for the eldest ones beginning reading ability to try to read for themselves. It is also perfect for classroom read aloud activities and discussions. Each poem being a lesson in itself.There is an Armadillo from South America, an Asian Tiger, an African Meerkat and even a Short-Nosed Echidna from Australia, some strange creatures indeed! Each poem provides opportunities for lessons including, uniqueness, recycling and even personal hygiene, (who smells worse, a skunk or you?). Some of the vocabulary may appear to be a bit beyond your average five year old, as Larry finds words to rhyme. You could argue that this makes some of the rhyming somewhat strained, but I don't have a real problem with it as it provides opportunities for children to learn. The more we read together and extend our children's vocabulary , the greater readers they become. The illustrations are as humorous as the poems. Bright, colourful, sure to delight any child. I invite you to come along on a fun filled adventure through the pages of this wonderful rhyming picture book and laugh along with Larry Potty and his friends, Mr Frog and Scotty Dog. I promise you won't be disappointed.

I received a free pdf copy in exchange for an honest review.

Great Characters, Amazing Plot, Fabulous Setting!

I try to stay with my own genre, (Children's Literature) when it comes to writing reviews, however the latest novel I just completed reading begs to be praised. It not only has great characters, an amazing plot but has a fabulous setting, all the prerequisites for an absolutely fantastic read. big-little-lies I picked up "Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty at the airport the other week looking for something to read on the plane. I had no prior knowledge of Liane's writing so was pleasantly surprised when I found I couldn't put the book down. I am a sucker for great characters that draw me into their lives. The plot brilliantly revolved around a primary school on the north shore beaches of Sydney and seemed so familiar it could easily have been any beach side country town in NSW. The writing was authentic and drew me in to a climax that I did not see coming, (and I pride myself usually on figuring these things out). I was hooked completely, the full fishing line and sinker reeled me in. If you have ever had anything to do with children and schools you will empathise with the parents in this story. The depth of characters, humour and darkness are all well balanced to make this a gripping tale from start to finish.

The plot hints of a murder occurring during the school trivia night, (a fund raiser for smart boards, essential equipment in any modern school) and we find ourselves trying to figure out not only "who dunnit?" but "who was murdered?" The more we read the more the plot thickens as we become more familiar with each of the key characters, their families and the children of the Kindergarten class. As a former Kindy teacher and mum I found myself quite amused at times with the parental behaviour. Liane has observed their typical characteristics so well it was almost like reading events that could so easily have happened in a school near me (or you).

While at times quite light and humorous, the story also has quite a dark side to it as it tackles issues such as school bullying and violent affairs within and out of marriage. Both subjects are very topical at the moment and Liane has represented the issues in a clear and poignant manner.

On googling the book to find a picture to add I found that the story is being made into a telemovie to be released next year on Foxtel produced by and staring Nicole Kidman and Reece Witherspoon who play the key characters. I really look forward to seeing how they produce this.

I gave this fantastic novel 5 out of 5 stars. I couldn't put it down. :)

Double Trouble and Mischief Make a Great Tale.

The other day as I was glancing through one of my Facebook groups I came upon the middle grade children's book "The Rabbit Ate my Homework" by Rachel Elizabeth Cole. I looked at the front cover and read the blurb and was so intrigued I was enticed to offer to read the story and write a review. The Rabbit Ate my Homework

Rachel certainly did not disappoint. The book held up to my every expectation. As a former primary school teacher, I absolutely loved this! I read this story thinking all the time how an 8 to 10 year old student would enjoy reading it and felt they would laugh from beginning to end. It is certainly a story to encourage reluctant readers, which is something I am always searching for. Not only were the two main characters, Drew and his little sister Libby, believable, so too were the background characters including the two girls in Drew's class who proved to be a constant torment. The story provided huge doses of humour, a little intrigue and suspense, not to mention a large dollop of cuteness.

It raises many discussion opportunities as the story develops, right from the opening where Drew makes the decision to go against his father and ride his bike in the woods unsupervised. Naturally, mistakes are made and consequences must be faced, or do they? From this one seemingly innocent moment of quick decision things quickly escalate out of control. As I read this I couldn't help thinking about the lessons learned in my own chapter book "Gingerbread Aliens" where the three brothers must also face the consequences of their behaviours. Both books use humour and escalating problems before a resolution is eventually and inevitably reached. Naturally, there is the whole discussion topic of how to keep and take good care of a pet, especially one your parents don't know you have! The topic of bullying is a background issue but covered substantially well and sibling rivalry changes to a form of united understanding and bonding over a common cause.

A thoroughly entertaining story for readers 6 -12 years of age. I recommend it for home and school. Parents and teachers will delight in reading it aloud with their children. I gladly give it 5 stars.

Delightful Bedtime Story for Preschoolers

This week I was asked by fellow author Charity Tober if I would review her children's picture book "Roly Poly Monster."

This review is from: Roly-Poly Monster (Kindle Edition) Roly Poly Monster

Roly Poly Monster is a wonderfully cute character that many preschoolers would relate to. He is a typical mischievous monster similar to any 3 or 4 year old child that is in a rush to get outside to play and explore. Each monster in the family is individually unique and they reflect their parenting role in a loving and nurturing manner. The illustrations are vivid and encourage a child's imagination as they draw the child into the story. There is plenty of opportunity for discussion and learning of vocabulary as the little monster rolls about his day, from playground to beach, through the city and even jumping in puddles! This would make the book an excellent tool for preschool reading time as there are so many wonderful items to point out on every page. Things like the seahorse and the crab, or even the monster train in the city which is rather adorable. The ending makes it perfect for a bedtime story, I can image a parent reading this to a tired toddler after their busy day and using it to settle them down to sleep.

My only difficulty with this book was the white writing that blended into the pictures on a couple of the pages. However, I am sure this would soon be overcome as the story became more familiar with repeated reading and I'm certain it is one that toddlers would request to be read to them again and again.

A wild Adventure Down Under.

The Sword of DemelzaWarrior Echidnas, threatening Thylacines and curious Kowaries are just the beginning of this amazing tale of fantasy and adventure in a unique wilderness that spreads across the deserts and forests of the top end of Australia. The Sword of Demelza by J.E. Rogers has taken many of our endangered animals and magnificently brought them to life with human like caricatures. Many of the smaller creatures live in homes inside trees with little dining settings where they serve tea with berries and cream. Quite a quaint idea that could have almost been idyllic were it not for the trouble about to unfold as the evil fox that ruled over the countryside set his terrible dragon lizards to destroy the peaceful villages.

A quest for two little kowaries becomes much bigger than they ever anticipated as they meet and make friends along the way. Do they stick to their goal or should they be lead down a longer more dangerous path to help new friends and young troublesome echidna babes?

Jeanne has wonderfully created a fantasy world not only using Australia's unique animals but also some of its most outstanding and different landscapes. As I read her description of the Pinnacles Desert The PinnaclesI could see it as clearly as the day I was there. Quite a masterful piece of writing for someone who had not been there herself. Jeanne has obviously done her research well to ensure her story teaches children around the world a little more about this beautiful place we are so lucky to call home. Even some of the colloquial slang is used amongst the dialogue but not overly so as to be a hindrance to the flow and ebb of the excitement.

J.E. RogersAlthough Jeanne hails from the east coast of the United States she clearly has a love for all things Australian, the environment and endangered animals worldwide.You can read her fantastic blog where she writes frequently on all kinds of unique species at Australian Fantasy Adventures with an aptly named blogspot that I adore!

The Sword of Demelza is written for a Middle Grade audience however I believe it is one to be read and treasured by young and old.


A Tantalizing Tale of Tasmania

Back in March I had the wonderful opportunity to be invited to the book launch of "Links in the Chain. A Pioneer's Tale. " linksThe book launch was fabulous as usual, a very special ocassion as it was one of the final engagements of Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce Governor General of Australia before her retirement. It was a wonderful honour to have the opportunity to meet this amazing and inspirational woman for the second time. "Links in the Chain" is the second book released by author Caroline Cooper. I very much enjoyed her first novel,  "The Forgotten Holocaust: A Gypsy's Journey from Auschwitz to Freedom,"

( To read my review  please go to

After discovering how talented a writer Caroline is, I couldn't wait to get my teeth into her second novel. I admit that I was intrigued that Caroline had chosen once again to set another story amongst the confines of prison walls. What could possibly have her so drawn to such horrific places? When visiting Port Arthur by day or night, one cannot help but feel it is haunted by the ghosts of so many poor souls that were left to rot in chains or made to serve out their lives in hard labour for the sake of stealing a simple loaf of bread. However, as horrific as Port Arthur is, it holds a special place in the soul of many Australians. It represents the struggling pioneering spirit that so many of us have all grown up experiencing as this nation grew to what it has become today. I admit to having a fondness for Port Arthur, Hobart and Tasmania itself as they bring back wonderful memories of the 6 months my husband and I spent there during our early years of marriage before we started our family so many years ago. Tasmania can be a harsh, cold wilderness that at the turn of the 19th Century would not have been a very easy or pleasant place to start a new life in a new world.

Caroline did not disappoint. The story had me engrossed from the start. She has done her research well. The Port Arthur she described was forbidding and hauntingly true. So much so that I found the story gripping and believable. I had empathy for both the convict and the Commandant's daughter. When their lives predictably collide (as they must) it is not how you may expect, the collision turns both their worlds upside down. The course of events that follow are wonderful page turners as we go from High tea English society to the clanking depressing darkness of chain cluttered cells and on to the back streets of Hobart Town and beyond.

To pique your curiosity without giving away any spoilers, the best I can do is leave you with the words of Caroline Cooper in her own dedication.

"to the early pioneers, full of energy and optimism, to the convicts, to the freed settlers, the free settlers, and to those who simply pretended they'd always been free.'' we will always remember your sacrifce and ambition to strive and make good in a new life so far away from the world which you left behind.

"Links In the Chain"  represents  the world of all who settled here in the early years of Australia. Whether they came here willingly or not so willingly. It is a marvelous tale to honour our past pioneers and a must read for anyone interested in Australian history. Thanks Caroline.

A Purrfect Tale of Love and Differences.

"Learn to love your differences because they are a part of who you are. They make you purrfect!"

Sherlock Bk 1 Front CoverSherlock Cat

"Sherlock, the Cat Who Couldn't Meow" is the latest children's book released by Vickianne Caswell, cover art design by Anastasia Drogaitseva. Where Vickianne's book series to date have been picture books for pre-schoolers and perhaps the beginning school years,  (please see my previous reviews, ) this is her first venture into short chapter books  for 6-10 year olds.

Vickianne has written another winner. She has written characters to not only fall in love with but who have a message to share with their readers.  Sherlock is a hardworking cat by day that studies to further his education and qualifications at night, but he is somewhat shy and a little ashamed because hard as he may try, he cannot meow. Imaginae a cat that can't meow! He is laughed at and teased by bullies he has known since his school days. He doesn't know how to make friends with the new cat in town, he's so frightened that she'll laugh too when she finds out his horrible secret. How he confronts his issues of self doubt and lack of confidence is cleverly portrayed through everyday situations that children can relate to and understand, with a little help from a bit of magic thrown in to develop the imagination and increase the adventure along the way.

However, there is so much more to this book than just the story. Vickianne has included at the end of the book three quotes from Sherlock which clearly demonstrate the moral to the story, just in case you don't get it upon reading, but I have no doubt that you will.

There is also a glossary of unfamiliar words for the targeted age group. This is a marvelous idea, no need to go racing for a dictonary, the words are already there at your finger tips.

Included is also extra reading material with a few fun animal facts as well as the words to the song sung during the story by CJ, the English Lop Bunny who owns the bakery where Sherlock works.

As the story is all about cats and other adorable pets, Vickianne has also included her thoughts on considerations before buying a pet for yourself or adopting one from an animal shelter. Some very wise food for thought indeed.

If you are looking for an early, easy reader that the whole family will enjoy together, then you can't go past "Sherlock the Cat Who Couldn't Meow." It is sensitive, poignant and inspirational along with raising some great issues for parental or classroom discussion. I highly recommend Vickianne Caswell's latest edition to her repotoire of clever and delightful children's tales.

Available through Amazon at

Do You Believe in Leprechauns?

When Don G. Ford offered me the opportunity to select one of his children's books to review it seemed obvious to me straight away which one I would select. My Best Friend is a Leprechaun I am a believer in inspiring the imagination of children, creating amazing tales of wonder and magic, which also means fostering the belief in fairies at the bottom of the garden, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny and so on.

My own book series is based on the realm of possibility that aliens do happily exist amongst us, (even very small mischievous ones.)

Couple this with my intrigue for Irish folk lore and I was immediately drawn to Don's story "My Best Friend is a Leperechaun."

I found this book irresistible!

Don G. Ford begins this book with a prologue to expose the readers mind to the idea of the existance of mythical creatures. He even includes a short story about an Irish woman who believed she had truely met a Leprechaun. The prologue is quite informative and a great discussion starter, perfect for the late Primary School age group to debate the question of reality verses legend. Do you have to see something to believe it exists?

To the uninitiated, knowledge is an appreciated commodity, therefore also included before the story begins are the author's notes presenting valuable background information to Ireland, her folk lore and of cause Leprechauns. So any youngster reading the book for the first time, not knowing anything about Irish myths and legends are given critical information on the Irish belief of exactly what a Leprechaun actually is.

Finally the magic begins at the end of the rainbow, exactly where you would anticipate finding a Leprechaun. Immediate suspense enthrals the reader with the Leprechaun being in imminent danger. Twists and turns take the reader on a wonderful journey into the life of the Leprechauns teaching us several morals along the way before reaching an gripping climax.

The Leprechauns teach the main character, (Big John), valuable life lessons such as true kindness, the importance of friendship and family and that a sense of "home" can arise in the most unexpected of places. Home is after all, where the heart is and a sense of love and belonging can be the greatest treasure of them all.

"My Best Friend is a Leprechaun" is a delightful tale to read with classroom students or an easy independent reader for ages 8-10 year olds.

Available on Amazon at:

In Celebration of Where we Come From.

With Australia Day almost upon us for another year it is quite timely that I find myself writing this review of a wonderful book I finaly read during this summer break. The Forgotten Holocaust A Gypsy's Journey from Auschwitz to Freedom was written by author Caroline P. Cooper. We had the pleasure of meeting at another fellow author's book launch before attending each others book launches in 2012. I was honoured to be able to attend the book launch for Caroline's Forgotten Holocaust  as the book was launched by none other than Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor General of Australia. The evening was one I will never forget and will always appreciate the opportunity given to me to meet such a marvelous Ambassador for our country. I learnt a lot that evening about the history of the Roma which until then I confess to knowig very little about. I came away with a far better understanding and appreciation for the persecution throughout all history that these people have gone through.

William Webster,Natalia Webster, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor General of Australia, Dr Irina Webster and myself at the reception after the book launch.

Caroline Cooper with her Excellency Ms Qentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor General of Australia.

I admit it has taken me however, until this summer to pick up her book and read it, but I am very glad that I did.

Not only is it a story of fear, tragedy and loss for a race of people so easily forgotten, it is also a story of forgiveness, coming together and acceptance. The story reminds us that all Australians, no matter what their heritage or backgrounds, are a multicultural mix of people who come together in this wonderful land of freedom and tolerance and accept one another for who and what we are. On days like Australia Day and Harmony day we celebrate our differences as well as our similarities and live, work and play together in a co-hesive and generally harmonious society.

The Forgetton Holocaust is cleverly written with two story lines interwoven. The first being the Romani (Gypsy) Gil Webb, who is caught up in WW2 and the atrocities of the Nazi prisnoer of war camp. He becomes an English soldier spying in Holland who is inevitably caught and sent to Auschwitz where he struggles to survive until his eventual release at the end of the war. However peace of mind is not so easy and Gil is tormented by his memories for many years, even after he has settled in his new home in Australia. The second story revolves around his granddaughter many years later living a peaceful life in Australia searching for love, not knowing her family history. Her mother had decided to keep the past secret so that when everyone else in her office celebrates their heritage, Lily celebrates her Australianism. How these two stories come together and the inevitable events that lead to forgiveness and acceptance are truely heart warming.

The book makes the point that every Australian originated from somewhere else. I am fifth generation Australian, my great, great grandfather immigrated from England in 1850, however many of us have come from such a vast array of cultures over the years that we are now a melting pot of the most amazing richness of anscestry.

We can all choose to live in the past, hold grudges, relive nightmares and forever be tormented by pain or we can choose to move on past the memories. Live for the future and celebrate the lives we have now, sharing this fabulous nation. This Australia Day, be proud of who you are, where you came from, but also look forward to the wonderful united mix of people that makes our home, so great.