Love and Other Battles by Tess Woods

I couldn’t put this book down. I just kept reading and I finished it in a single sitting.Love and other battles

Love and Other Battles by Tess Woods follows the lives of three generations of women in the same family. It begins in the time of the Vietnam war with Jess, a young, free-spirited hippie with strong anti- war views. She falls in love with a nasho, a conscripted soldier, who goes to serve in Vietnam.

Then we meet Jamie, her daughter, a much more conventional young woman, who wants marriage and a family. Jamie becomes a school principal.

The last of the three is CJ, Jamie’s daughter, a teenager of today. It is the story of this lovely and vulnerable young girl that pulled the most at my heartstrings, and moved me to tears at one stage of her battle.

The story is not told in chronological order, and at first I found this a little disconcerting, as I had to check the dates at the head of the chapters, but once I got into the book it all fell into place.

This is an emotional story that draws you in. It is both heart-wrenching and heartening. The characters are real and very much alive as each woman faces the troubles that come her way. I found it a wonderful story and I thank Tess Woods for it.




The Birth of a Book

When I decided to write my first novel, ‘Inheritance’ I had been up in far north Queensland for several months, and had come to love the area. BgpI3riCIAAwoyCWe were based at a little place called Flying Fish Point, a few kilometres east of Innisfail, bounded by the mouth of the Johnstone River on one side and the ocean on another. Daintree-Rainforest-Plants

A glorious place, where the forest is lush and deep green, the golden beach is long, and the cerulean sea and sky almost seem to merge.Q beach

From here we made trips to the Daintree rainforest, to the huge plateau of the Tablelands, up to Cairns, Port Douglas and as far north as Cooktown. All wonderful places. And wonder of them all, we went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef.snorkelling

But there was a downside to this paradise, for we were all aware that in the waters of the Johnstone River and the myriad creeks and rivers nearby lived that most fearsome of creatures, the saltwater crocodile.

I knew my book had to be set in this superb place, and in such a place the story needed to have elements of adventure, and mystery, and to reveal something of the soul of the place. It should also include some of the lore of the aboriginal people who were the original inhabitants of the land.

I set the story on Yallandoo, a cattle station. But I was born and bred a city girl, with little knowledge of cattle stations, or how to brand a steer, or rodeos,rodeopic5-1 or aboriginal culture and spiritual beliefs, and their burial rites.branding steer Or the habits of crocodiles.

What I do know a lot about is life, people, and human nature. The rest I had to research.
That included how to brand a steer, how points are allotted at a rodeo, the Aboriginal Dreamtime, how immigrants to the Snowy River scheme were housed on arrival, how a fire is fought without piped water.

And just how dangerous is the “saltie”, as the local crocs are called? I found the answer to that one is “very dangerous”!

I had the most wonderful time for weeks and months, delving into all these fascinating subjects – in books and papers, in libraries, and on the internet. I love research, but I am so easily led from my subject into interesting by-ways, which runs away with the time!

I have tried to keep things authentic, and if you pick up any irregularities in the facts of the story, you must blame it on the fact I’m really just a city girl!

Once I started writing my characters dictated the story, as they always do, but when Inheritance was published  I was apprehensive about what readers would think of it. Had I done a good enough job?

Inheritance is available as an Ebook in all formats from all online e-tailers, and in your local library as a print book. If you read it I would be grateful if will you let me know what you think.

Book Details



Review of Kitty by Deborah Challinor

I always enjoy reading a Deborah Challinor book, some more than others, and this was one of the best. Kitty is the first book in the series of The Smuggler’s wife. I have read the Convict Girls series, which I loved, and I think Kitty rates up there with that.

Set in the 1840’s in New Zealand and Sydney it brings to life the early European settlement in New Zealand, and looks at the missionary families and also the Maori tribes at the time of the signing of the Waitangi treaty. It is rich in history as well as being a story of adventure and romance.

When Kitty Carlisle commits an ‘indiscretion’ that tarnishes her reputation she is sent to New Zealand by her widowed, and impoverished, mother, in company with her uncle and aunt, who are missionaries. What follows is not quite what her mother envisaged, but it makes for great reading, with an interesting cast of characters. These include the dashing Rian Farrell, captain of the schooner Katipo, and his engaging crew, as well as Wai, a Maori girl who becomes Kitty’s  friend, and Huanui, Wai’s uncle.

If you like history, romance and adventure with plenty of drama and tension, you will enjoy this book.


The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley is a romantic historical novel, and is loosely based on the mythological stories of the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades, star constellation.

At 626 pages it is a big book, in every sense of the word. It is the first book in a series of six books about six young women who had all been adopted as babies and brought up by a very wealthy man, known as Pa Salt, on a beautiful estate in Geneva, Switzerland.

Each book is about one of the sisters.

Maia, the eldest sister,is the only one still living on the estate in Geneva. When Pa Salt dies the other girls all return home for the funeral, only to find he has already been buried at sea. Then they are all given letters written by their father with clues to their natural parents.

This first book is about Maia, and the story of her search to find her natural mother and family. Her story takes us to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil during the late 1920s, at the time of the building of Christ the Redeemer statue. It uncovers  the life of a young woman, Izabela, who lived in the shadow of the mountain.

 I found it an absorbing story, if a little long-winded at times. It is well written with interesting characters and vivid descriptions of life, in  Brazil and in the artists’ world of Paris, in the 1920s.

Lucinda Riley is a great storyteller. Once you are into the story you might find it hard to put down, as I did. I look forward to reading the other books in the series.




The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett is a fast-paced, suspenseful and engrossing spy story/ thriller, set in England in WWII, prior to the Allies invasion of Normandy. The Allies have concocted an elaborate plan to fool the Nazis into believing they will invade at a different place, namely, Calais, thereby taking them by surprise. They know that the success or failure of the landing, and probably the outcome of the war, rests on this plan being believed.

The secrecy surrounding the plan is intense, but there is one wily German spy who is determined to discover what is happening that is shrouded in such secrecy. His code name is Die Nadel, The Needle, because he uses a stiletto as his choice of murder weapon for anyone who poses a threat to him.

The British know he exists, but they don’t know his identity, or what he looks like. While the Brits are trying to discover who he is, he manages to secure photos that will reveal the plot, and he must get them to Germany. If he can make a rendezvous with a U boat off the coast he will succeed.

There ensues an exciting cat and mouse game as he pits his wits against those of the pursuing Brits. When a boat that he steals in order to reach the U boat is wrecked in a storm, he ends up on a small island inhabited by a former RAF flyer, now an amputee, his love-starved wife, Lucy, and their three-year-old son. What happens on the island makes for riveting reading, and the climax is a heart-stopping finale.

Ken Follett develops his characters so well that, much as I wanted him caught, I found it impossible not to have a grudging admiration for Die Nadel ’s ingenuity, his courage and his determination to succeed in what he saw as his duty to his Fatherland.

Return to Roseglen by Helene Young

Another great read from Helene Young. In ‘Return to Roseglen’ she deviates from her former Romantic Suspense books to give us a story of a family undergoing challenges. Roseglen is an outback station in far north Queensland. It is a time of drought, and 93 year old Ivy Dunmore has been running the property by herself since the death of her husband Charlie. She has a son, Ken, who lives nearby, and two daughters, Felicity a nurse in Brisbane and Georgina, a pilot who is on the other side of the world.

Ivy is worried. After she came off her quad bike three years ago she has needed a walker, and she knows she is not as strong as previously. She fears she is no longer in control, as she has always been. Ken tells her she has become forgetful, and she worries she may be becoming confused. She also has a secret that she has kept for many years. What to do about it now?

Felicity decides to leave Brisbane and return to Roseglen to live, in order to help and support Ivy, and soon after Georgina joins them. Ken, as the only son, believes it is his right to inherit the property when Ivy passes on. But the girls do not agree that it should be his by right.

As well as being a compelling story, this book examines many social issues, including infidelity, the problems confronting middleaged children when an aged parent needs care, and sibling rivalry.

The man from St Petersburg by Ken Follett

Ken Follett is a master storyteller. This is a historical thriller, a spy story, set just before the outbreak of war in 1914, but it is also about the lives of key political figures and the nobility, about class, and the social order of the time, including the suffragette movement.

When Churchill charges Stephen, the earl of Walden, with the task of trying to negotiate a treaty with Russia, through his Russian wife’s nephew, Prince Orlov, he is reluctant to undertake the assignment, but he eventually agrees.

A Russian anarchist, Feliks, arrives in England determined to assassinate the prince before he signs the treaty, and it becomes a cat and mouse game between Feliks, Walden and the police. But it becomes a more complicated story when Walden’s wife, Lydia, and his daughter, Charlotte, become passionately involved.

There are a number of coincidences in the story, but the author handles them in such a masterful way that you are happy to believe in them.

I found myself unable to guess  the ending , for Feliks is an often sympathetic character, in spite of his criminal intent and determination to kill the prince.
In the end Ken Follett ends it all in a satisfactory way.