Sunday, 18 March 2018

Off Balance (Bitches Volume 4) by TR Robinson

I have read, reviewed and enjoyed all of TR Robinson’s books. The first thing I noticed about Off Balance is how much she has developed as a writer with her descriptions emanating the sights, sounds and smells of her scenes

In the previous narratives of the ‘Bitches’ short story collection her main character suffers at the hands of others mainly due to her naivety. In Off Balance she is the victim of a person whose experiences as a young woman have shaped her attitudes, sexual desires and greed.

Off Balance may not be to the taste of every reader as it includes a sensual scene between lesbian lovers. In writing this story, and particularly the love scene, I feel Robinson has pushed herself beyond her comfort zone. I believe that is something all writers should aim to achieve.

When Robinson has completed her collection of stories in this series I hope she considers publishing an anthology. Every story has a lesson on how our attitudes, positive and negative, impact on the lives of others.

My rating 4*

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Heroes of the Long Paddock: The Drovers of Southern New South Wales by Chris Anderson

About the author.

Christine was a pommie who came to Australia from poverty-stricken London. She had learnt to be English and read Wordsworth and Byron. She arrived in Australia in October 1960.

I say ‘was’ because she fell in love with Australia and travelled far and wide, following the sheep and cattle stock routes.

I first met Christine through the Merigal Dingo Sanctuary in Bargo, NSW. I am sure she wouldn’t mind me saying the best part about that meeting was getting to know her two dingoes Minnga and Cooma. We met again recently while I am researching for the biography of Berenice Walters, the Dingo Lady, I am currently writing.

Christine gave me a copy of this book as a gift. I was not asked to write a review.


Many of us who love the dingo only know the Pastures Protection Board history in relation to wild dog control programs. In Heroes of the Long Paddock Chris describes the positive side of the officers’ work in relation to droving sheep and cattle across the country.

Tom proved typical of the rangers I met - they never mentioned how much they did to help drovers in times of accidents or ill health.

As I interviewed the rangers, it became obvious that those who are true bushmen and stockmen make great rangers, and being a ranger is not about notching up scalps in the court process but in managing the stock routes for the benefit of stock and the environment. Some old drovers will say that the modern rangers are inexperienced with stock and tend to rule with an iron fist instead of developing good relationships. They sometimes create friction.

While the rangers and their attitudes are important to droving, the true heroes of this book are the drovers themselves and their families.

Christine joins many drovers around their camp and listens to their anecdotes of past and present. They relate the stories of their lives; of hardship, love of the job and hard work. They are told with sadness, emotion, nostalgia and humour.

How impacted on them – how modernisation had good and bad impact.

Australian drovers are legendary. Even city folks see them as typically Australian but, times are changing. Through her interviews with the drovers Christine meets on her travels she relates how modern influences, changes in accessing stock routes and attitudes are impacting on them.

Christine’s writing draws the reader into the lives of some very interesting Australian characters. Her descriptive passages of the outback are crisp and clear.

The book also includes thought-provoking poems written by the author in tribute to the people she meets on her journeys.

The drovers are disappearing. These stories will pass into history, but I hope they are not lost as a part of our history.

My rating 4*

Monday, 19 February 2018

The Mirror (Northwest Passage Book 5) by John A Heldt

The Mirror is the fifth book in the Northwest Passage series and sequel to The Mine and The Show. Precis below.

The first John A Heldt book I read was The Mine, also the first book in this series. Not being a sci fi fan I was reluctant to accept the request for a review, but I was seriously hooked on this author from the start.

Like his other books I was drawn into the story from the first page of The Mirror. Heldt does not write your average time travel science fiction. He writes adventure, romance and historical fiction. He writes stories where you will quickly become familiar with the believable characters, have clear images of the scenes and feel the emotions. And, as always, you’ll get a history lesson. 

While The Mirror is readable as a stand-alone story, I recommend reading The Mine and The Show first for greater enjoyment and appreciation.

Having been a young teen in the 1960s I completely related to the period, especially the obsession with The Beatles and hemlines gradually creeping up. 

Heldt has become known among his fans as writing great endings and The Mirror is no different. There were some wonderful sincere and sentimental moments at the end and I loved it all.

There is one comment I feel I must make in relation to a few of the reviews and that is in relation to intimacy between the girls and their boyfriends. Some reviews read as though there are descriptive passages. This is not the case. We know the girls sleep with the boys, that is all. There is suggestion by some reviewers that in the sixties teens were not sexually active. This is also untrue. John Heldt has told it as it was, and he has done it tastefully and honestly.


On September 11, 2020, Ginny and Katie Smith celebrate their nineteenth birthday at a country fair near Seattle. Ignoring the warnings of a fortune-teller, they enter a house of mirrors and exit in May 1964. Armed with the knowledge they need to return to their time, they try to make the most of what they believe will be a four-month vacation. But their sixties adventure becomes complicated when they meet a revered great-grandmother and fall in love with local boys. In The Mirror the sisters find happiness and heartbreak as they confront unexpected challenges and gut-wrenching choices in the age of civil rights, the Beatles, and Vietnam.

My rating 5*