Recent books by our members

 

 

Brenda Fitzpatrick: Gwennie’s Girl (2019)

The blurb: “This is a visceral, engaging and demanding debut novel by a well-travelled author with first-hand experience in a variety of war zones and a PhD in International Politics. It is the story of Lizzie who is no hero. She is a coward who has fled Australia, an abusive and loveless existence and the sorrow of being abandoned by her loving mother, Gwennie, and her redoubtable nanna. She lands a job in Geneva, travelling to war zones and refugee camps, and gradually comes to relish her new independence. Physically, Lizzie survives. Emotionally, she shuts down, closing her mind to memories, nursing anger and feeling of guilt, and determined never to let herself be vulnerable again. She has what she thinks is a one-night stand with a war photographer. But eventually she has to choose whether to stay safe in emotional isolation or take another risk—trust someone else. After all, she is Gwennie’s and Nanna’s girl. The decision is made.

Brenda’s previous book, Tactical Rape in War and Conflict (2016), was about the use of rape as a deliberate tactic of war and how this is a serious human rights issue that needs to be addressed as a threat to human and international security. Brenda has a PhD in International Politics and extensive experience in refugee camps and conflict zones.

Brenda Smith: Two Lancashire Lassies (2018)

Two Lancashire Lassies is a book of recollections of Brenda’s childhood in Bury, Lancashire. Brenda migrated to Eltham in 1970 and the second half of the book is anecdotes about family life in Melbourne. When her sister Frances passed away in Lancashire, Brenda realised that, as matriarch of the family, she needed to write the memoirs down before the family stories were lost. Hence the book.

Brenda has kindly donated two copies of the book to our book swap, which will re-open once the Old Eltham Courthouse re-opens. Anyone wishing to purchase their own copy should email Brenda directly (fernbren@bigpond.net.au).

Brian Ellis: The New Enlightenment: On Steven Pinker and Beyond (2019)

Brian says: “This book, like the last one (on Rationalism) in 2017, was written while teaching U3A courses at Nillumbik, and the members of my classes all participated in the development of one or more of its themes.

The blurb: “Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now establishes that great progress has been made on the aims of the European Enlightenment. However, the minds of many economists, moralists and political thinkers in the West are still set firmly in the eighteenth century. The progress has been due mainly to the physical scientific revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the industrial revolutions they generated. But a new enlightenment is needed now to overcome this poverty of social theory, and bring our economists and political theorists up to date in the socially connected, commercially integrated, and existentially threatened world of the 21st century.

Previous books by Brian include:

Brian Seymour: 100 years – Electrical Contracting in Australia (2016)

The material covers everything from gas lighting to fibre optics.

Other, recent technical publications by Brian include:

  • Electrical Estimators Labour Unit Manual 16th edition (2018).
  • Electrical Contracting & Tendering (2016).
  • Starting Out, for new electrical contractors 5th edition (2015).

Brian has been writing articles for Electrical Connection magazine since 1998.

Bryan McNally: The Eriksson Bequest(2020)

Bryan is in the process of writing a series of novels featuring the main character and protagonist, Jack Carpenter. The first novel, The Vytautas Pursuit, was published in 2018, the second, The Eriksson Bequest, in 2020, and the third, The Mahogany Rising, is due out later this year.

These words about The Eriksson Bequest, from Bryan’s website, give a flavour of the series: “So much had happened in the eighteen months since Jack and Agnetha’s almost life-ending trials and tribulations at the hands of the Lithuanian Mafia and the Order of the Teutonic Knights in Vilnius. A new life, new careers, a honeymoon in the Maldives … until the Code Red would lead them into more intrigue and danger than they could have imagined possible … Agnetha and Danny trawl through the chequered past of mediaeval Viking plundering and exploration as it collides with present-day enemies from the past … only then will they be closer to preventing one of the largest mass murders in Scandinavian and north Atlantic history.

Cathy Guinness: A Haunting Silence – Henry Reed and the First Tasmanians (2021)

Here is what Cathy says about the book: “Henry Reed, my great grandfather, was a young Yorkshire merchant who migrated to Van Diemen’s Land in 1826. He profits nicely from his various enterprises – farming, stock breeding, shipping and whaling – but he owes a huge debt to the Traditional Owners from whom his land is stolen … The question that haunts me [Cathy] is this: What actions did Reed take in the frontier war that confronted him? Did he join the other settlers in the notorious Black Line and the massacres? Or did he stand up for the rights of the Aboriginal families fighting for their lives? The story then follows Reed to the new settlement at Port Phillip on the mainland where he camped with a group of Aborigines with the intent ‘to save the natives from destruction’. Truth-telling about the past we share with Aboriginal people lies at the heart of this book.

If anyone wants to buy it, they can email Cathy (cguinness@optusnet.com.au).

Cathy’s previous book was Rubber Justice: Dr Harry Guinness and the Congo Reform Campaign (2017).

Chris Winkett: A Long Way from Where I Started (2018)

This is a memoir about Chris’s young life in England and her family’s migration story. Instead of selling the memoir at her book launch, Chris gave the books away but offered people the opportunity to donate to the Asylum Resource Centre and this raised nearly $1,000 for the cause.

Christine Durham: Unlocking my Brain: Through the Labyrinth of Acquired Brain Injury (2014)

In 1991, Christine was in a car accident. As a result, she was trapped by her broken brain, life and spirit – she was unable to walk, talk, see or think properly. In reaction, she wrote Doing Up Buttons to help people understand brain injury. As a result of the response to that book, she completed a PhD and wrote Unlocking my Brain: Through the Labyrinth of Acquired Brain Injury.

Here’s the blurb for that latter book: “This extraordinarily courageous story reveals the incredible plasticity of the human spirit as much as the plasticity of the human brain. From a confusing and terrifying existence, to international regard, Dr. Christine Durham MEd shares the moments that changed her life … For Christine, trying to navigate the brain injury experience was like negotiating a labyrinth with no clues in sight. Using unconventional methods, Christine was able to re-build her life and become the inspirational leader she is today. This book shares her path to recovery with others who are in search of answers, understanding and acceptance.

In 2017, Christine (with Paul Ramcharan) wrote an academic book entitled Insight into Acquired Brain Injury Factors for Feeling and Faring Better to help professionals gain greater awareness of the lived experience of brain injury.

Dianne Parslow: The Emu Family Outing (2016)

This is a children’s book with Australian animals and a road safety message. Click here to read the book for free!

Graeme Sparkes: Macaulay Station (2019)

The blurb: “Macaulay Station is a lament. Lost to Frank is his close friend Charlie, dead just one year, his career a casualty of the technological revolution, his youth to the tyranny of time. It’s his fifty-fifth birthday and Julia, his partner for thirty years, has decided to spend the day in someone else’s company. Frank fears she has taken a lover. At a loose end, he travels by train into the city, intending to go to the State Library to begin the novel he always said he would write one day, and passing through Macaulay Station, he sees his dead friend, Charlie, standing on the platform. A novel for all who have anxious moments about the future.

Previous books by Graeme include: You Never Met My Father (2014).

Helen Joynt: A Foot Wide on the Edge of Nowhere (2019)

Helen’s book is a biography of her parents, Theo and Olive, who worked missionaries in China for several decades, where their service spanned the Japanese War and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. The book is available from Yarra Plenty Regional Library.

The blurb: “Theo Simpkin is a young science student at the University of Melbourne when he senses God’s call to share the good news with the people of China. Meanwhile Olive Kettle, an Australian country girl, is working for a Melbourne CBD accountant while helping to support her widowed mother. Theo departs, traveling more than 8,000 kilometres to commence his ministry in China, yet the divine matchmaker was at work in both their lives. Discover Theo’s and Olive’s struggles to find God’s will for their futures, despite the distance and difficulties they face. Featuring frequent quotes from letters written by Theo and Olive, this book provides an intimate glimpse into what life was like in the rugged mountains of Yunnan, China, as they encounter a unit of the Red Army on the famed Long March, endured the Japanese invasion and lived through the Communist revolution. This biography follows Theo and Olive wherever God led them – in Australia, China and India – showing his care and provision as two ordinary Australians travel along A Foot Wide on the Edge of Nowhere. Despite persecution and hardship – as witnessed by a brief update from Christians now living in Yunnan – God’s Word continues to bear fruit with joy.

Janice Paull: Divided Houses (2020)

Here’s the start of the blurb: “Set in Sydney and Melbourne between 1932 and 1955, Divided Houses depicts the doomed relationship of Eddie and Vivien, two people whose lives have already been affected by the Great Depression and its aftermath. Eddie takes advantage of Vivien; pregnancy, marriage and children follow. As World War II begins, and the fear of a Japanese invasion grips Australia, Eddie evacuates his family. In 1942, the Bertoli family moves into an Edwardian villa in Toorak which is shared by two other families. Its elegant facade is in sharp contrast with its rat-infested, overcrowded interior. A partition which runs the length of the kitchen is the only physical division. The battles and betrayals of World War II are paralleled in the lives of its inhabitants.

John Jenkins: A Half-Baked Fruitcake of Nuts and Nonsense: Silly Stuff for Kids of All Ages (2021)

John both wrote and illustrated this book of “silly scribbles and nonsense poems.

John’s previous book, published in 2019, was entitled Poems Far and Wide. Here’s the blurb: “This very lively collection contains a wide sweep of poems, many of them prize-winning, taking readers on a remarkable journey. Some look to the past, others to the future, but all are of their time: the reverberating now. The tone is contemporary and bold, while the poet’s sensibility tends to favour an eclectic inclusiveness. Uniformly, this wide-ranging and poetically engaging collection demands to be enjoyed.

Previous books by John include:

Kay Rennie (aka Lily Milner): Alias Lord John (2020)

Kay Rennie writes novels set in the Regency era under the pen name Lily Milner. She has written 6 such novels in the last few years, the latest of which Alias Lord John was published in September 2020.

Here’s the start of the blurb: “Two men who have never met before but share an uncanny resemblance agree to exchange places. Tristan Rigal is an adventurer just returned from France. Lord John is an English lord with a problem – he needs to be in two places at once. Rigal steps into the lord’s shoes and instantly becomes the owner of a huge estate, a mistress, a wife and an attractive accomplice who says she is a distant cousin. Lord John leaves England on a secret mission. Meanwhile, Rigal is left to sort out the lord’s affairs while carefully guarding secrets of his own. Will Lord John come back and return to his lordly life as planned, or will Rigal be forced to continue in his role of rakish aristocrat?

You can buy Kay’s novels on Amazon and she has a website. Her other recent novels are:

Len Vardy: Readings From The Courthouse and Other Poems (2016)

Previous books by Len include Dances Of Life and Death.

Lesley Wing Jan: Write Ways: Modelling Writing Forms, 4th edition (2015)

The blurb: “Covering a broad range of text types – both factual and fictional – ‘Write Ways’ is the foremost guide to teaching children how to write in different styles and genres. Including all the essential tools for teaching children how to write in different styles, it is an invaluable resource for pre-service teachers throughout their degrees, and a great reference to take into the classroom.

Previous books by Lesley include: Smart Thinking: Developing Reflection And Metacognition (2008).

Lyn Richards: Handling Qualitative Data: a Practical Guide (4th ed, 2021)

The blurb: “This book provides an accessible introduction to qualitative research for students and practitioners. Recognising that for many new researchers dealing with data is the main point of departure, this book helps them to acquire a progressive understanding of the skills and methodological issues that are central to qualitative research.

Previous books by Lyn include:

Rebecca Hayman: The Fraught Ambitions of a Man (2018)

The blurb: “Li Fu Lai just wants one thing: To be accepted as a man. But with a stutter like his, the minor matter of not being able to read and the intractable lack of an identity card, what hope does he have? Modern, sophisticated China has little patience. The Fraught Ambitions of a Man is the story of one man’s struggle to move beyond a brutal childhood. It’s the story of the friends who walk with him, each loving him in their own flawed way. And it’s the story of the miracle that surprises them all.

If you would like to obtain a copy of the book, contact Rebecca by email (becca_mike@yahoo.com).

Previous books by Rebecca include:

Sabi Buehler: Slaying Dragons all on my Own (2019)

The story is about an older woman, Mia Steinberg, who breaks down in tears while at a writers’ group. This leads her to reflect on a distressing incident in her past which changed the trajectory of her life.

Sabi previously published a memoir about her mother’s life and arrival in Australia called A Life in Two Suitcases: Gundel’s Story (2014). The blurb: “Gundel’s story takes place at a time of great upheaval and social change. She is born into a comfortable middle class family in pre -war Germany. She is bright, articulate and talented and looks forward to a promising career. That is, until Hitler rises to power. Because her mother is Jewish, she loses her home, several members of her family are forced to flee and her parents do not survive the war. When peace comes she is at last able to marry and despite struggling to make a living, she enjoys a brief period of happiness. Then another personal tragedy strikes. Hoping to leave those memories behind, Gundel agrees to move to Australia. It is not the way she imagined. Life is hard. Homesickness, loneliness and culture shock take their toll and like many of that first generation of post war migrants, she dies before her time . Nevertheless, Gundel’s writing and drawings show that she never lost her sense of humour or her delight in the beauty of nature and the small joys of everyday life.

Tess Evans: The Ballad of Banjo Crossing (2017)

The start of the blurb: “A tender, heartwarming and utterly appealing novel about the power of community, love, loss and second chances. Jack McPhail is a man on the run from his past, a drifter who lands by accident in a sleepy outback Australian town called Banjo Crossing. Jack – almost despite himself – becomes slowly drawn into the town, its community, its characters and its concerns. He’s on the brink of falling in love with Mardi, a young widow and owner of the local coffee shop, when the community is confronted and divided by an unexpected development. A coal mining company has come to town, intent on buying up the local properties to build an open cut mine. The town of Banjo Crossing rallies together to fight off the threat. Jack wants to help out his new friends, but if he does, he’s at risk of his past being exposed.

Tess has a website. In September 2020, she was interviewed by Eltham bookshop.

Previous books by Tess include: