J.M. Peace Aussie Cop Crime Writer

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Book 1—Review ‘A Time to Run’
by J M Peace

Sammi Willis is a police officer, written by a genuine police officer, so I figured the action would be authentic and the plot would be an absorbing and gripping read.  It is all that and more!  Told in real time, I counted the logbook minutes and followed police procedure to find out where Sammi had gone.  She left a suburban pub alone at night and accepted a lift back to her girlfriend’s house but never arrived.  The tension is controlled until gradually the stress levels rise and events ramp up: Sammi hasn’t contacted her partner or family and misses her work shift.  It doesn’t take much to realise that something is very wrong.

Meanwhile, the reader has access to the other side of the story––Sammi’s ordeal.  It is hard to describe what she goes through without taking some of the element of fear away for potential readers.  Sammi is made powerless in the hands of a brutal man who has killed before.  She knows she must fight cleverly to save her life, but without proper clothing, food or knowledge of her bushland location, she faces an uphill battle to survive.  Every painful step Sammi takes, every thought and emotion is totally believable. She goes through bouts of logic and hallucination while the armed madman follows her progress on his trail bike.

Waiting back at Angel’s Crossing, Sammi’s partner Gavin and her friend Candy are distraught and not coping well, but Criminal Investigation Branch reinforcements arrive in the form of go-getter Janine Postlewaite.  That’s all I am going to say, except read this book and appreciate excellent Australian crime writing.  There are two books which follow this one, I have read “The Twisted Knot” and will soon read “An Unwatched Minute”.  J. M. Peace highlights just how good, and how different, Aussie writers are at setting the scene with strong characters and electrifying content.  I was hooked from beginning to end. 

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Book 2—Review ‘The Twisted Knot’
by J M Peace

Written by a real police officer, gritty and unashamedly Australian, this story has twists and turns I did not see coming.  The big question is ‘Who committed what crime?” and at first I thought I knew, but the plot had a surprise in store.  A police procedural with no gimmicks, no generic dialogue but plenty of believable characters and a nasty bundle of suspects.  Constable Samantha (Sammi) Willis of Angel’s Crossing police station is in the thick of the action, handling vengeful townsfolk when paedophile rumours surface, while privately juggling her shaky marriage.

Sammi is also recovering from a near death experience with a maniac who killed for fun (see “A Time to Run” the first Sammi book by J. M. Peace) but she is ably supported by her colleagues, particularly by-the-book Bob.  Gradually she gets back into routine and Sammi leaves the front desk to attend a call-out.  It turns into a gruesome find in a farmhouse shed.  The identity and cause of death is in doubt and Terry Cousens, a Plain Clothes Constable, takes the lead rein, eager for a quick promotion.

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Fortunately Sammi knows the rural town and handles proceedings well, but Terry does not.  He also has an interesting run-in with Jeremy from Forensics. The police detective work is substantial, and the daily routine of a police station is well portrayed.  Nothing hit-and-miss, everything is methodical and eventually the clues and forensic samples compile a clear picture of what happened.  Or do they?  The reader gets snippets, sometimes from wives and mothers, and sometimes from an unknown narrator but I found it hard to pick a culprit.

Naturally, in this type of crime novel there are disturbing scenes, paedophilia and swearing.  However, I think that J. M. Peace has hit the right note.  It would be great to see her get more international recognition. I think she has the potential to grow a following like Garry Disher. With Hirsch in rural South Australia, there could be someone like Sammi in rural Queensland with the bonus of Peace’s insider knowledge.  I’ve read “A Time to Run” and I’m keen to read “An Unwatched Minute” a recent book.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

An Unwatched Minute Bookcover J M Peace

Book 3—‘An Unwatched Minute’
by J M Peace

My review is yet to come, but here are excerpts taken from the J. M. Peace author website:

‘An Unwatched Minute’ goes behind the scenes of a small police station in the picturesque town of Tannin Bay.

When Constable Krista Danaher is transferred to the picturesque town of Tannin Bay she hopes it may help her gain much needed confidence in her new profession. She’s pleased when Senior Constable Malachi ‘Mort’ Morten takes her under his wing, both professionally and personally. But within days, a man has died in the watch house whilst in her care, triggering an intensive police investigation. It becomes apparent that not everyone is telling the truth and the gap between what happened and what the investigation can prove widens. The family of the dead man do whatever they can to make sure someone is held accountable. The police response will have far-reaching consequences on the small police station and the people who work there.

An Unwatched Minute’ is a gripping and realistic thriller, which shines a light on the grey spot where truth and justice meet.


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Author Info

An avid reader and writer from an early age, J. M. Peace wanted to be a writer. So she studied journalism figuring this would be a way of turning a passion into a job. Her career as a print journalist failed after a single year… so she took a complete change of direction and became a police officer. Over the past twenty years, she has served throughout south-east Queensland in a variety of different capacities, including Intelligence and CIB.

An award-winning author, Jay lives on the Sunshine Coast (Queensland) with her partner, wrangling her two cheeky children, a badly behaved dog and an anti-social cockatiel… You can connect with Jay on Facebook at JM Peace Author, Twitter at @jmpeaceauthor, Goodreads at JM Peace, and her blog ‘Cops and Novels’.

NOTE:A Time To Run’ was published by Pan Macmillan Australia on July 2015. The sequel ‘The Twisted Knot’ was released on July 2016. ‘A Time To Run’ was translated into German as ‘Die Hatz’ and Spanish as ‘La Cacería’.  Standalone novel An Unwatched Minute’ was released on Amazon/Kindle on May 2019.

Save and Restore Lamb House

Lamb House is one very interesting residence!  And it is uncommon to find such architecture in Brisbane still intact.

StateLibQld_1_110380_Home,_also_known_as_Lamb_House,_Kangaroo_Point,_Brisbane,_ca._1904, B&W image held by John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12662188

Lamb House needs restoration.

A heritage-listed villa, Lamb House is situated at 9 Leopard Street, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by Alexander Brown Wilson and built from c.1902 to c.1908.  It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992 and has been languishing unattended ever since.

Brisbane City Council is proposing amendments to some of its citywide provisions in Brisbane City Plan 2014 (City Plan) and submissions are now open for Major amendment package K – Lamb House. Council has opened consultation for Lamb House character protection.

Queensland Heritage Register states that “Lamb House, erected c.1902, is a rare surviving example of a grand, intact Federation period residence in the Brisbane district” and this Wikipedia entry practically screams Period Drama

“Lamb House is a large, two-storeyed, red brick residence with a multi-gabled roof clad in terracotta tiles. Conspicuously situated above the Kangaroo Point Cliffs at the southern end of the suburb, overlooking the South Brisbane and Town reaches of the Brisbane River…”

“Queen Anne influences are evident in the timber and roughcast gable infill designs, the ornate cement mouldings to the entrance portico-cum-observation tower, and the elaborate chimney stacks and tall terracotta chimney pots.”

“The original plans indicate vestibule and stairwell, dining, drawing and morning rooms, kitchen and service areas on the ground floor, and six bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor.”  Plus “The residence has substantial grounds with mature trees and gardens.”

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Lamb House, Kangaroo Point, colour image by Unknown author – State of Queensland: Queensland Heritage Register: Home, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53132101

The proposed changes to Lamb House (situated on Leopard and Wild Streets, Kangaroo Point with a stunning view of the Brisbane River, city botanical gardens and CBD) support Council’s commitment to protect the unique character of Brisbane, considering the property’s local landmark identity, and the character and streetscape values of the area.

These proposed changes include:

    • Zoning changes to lots held by Lamb House to become Character residential (Character zone precinct)
    • Updates to overlay maps to apply the Traditional building character overlay.
    • Adding the Significant Landscape tree overlay to the weeping figs on the lots on Leopard Street, Kangaroo Point.

Please consider making a submission because community input is vital for informing major amendments to City Plan; and Brisbane City Council is now seeking feedback on the proposed changes.  You can HAVE YOUR SAY and submissions must be received by 11.59pm on Sunday 13 December 2020.

Residents can talk to a Council planner to ask questions or seek clarification on the proposed changes.  Register for a free Talk to a Planner session from 23 to 25 November 2020 at these locations:

For more information visit the Brisbane City Council website, email the project team, telephone Council on 07 3403 8888 or write to Strategic Planning.

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Lamb House, built in 1902 for Queen Street draper John Lamb (one half of Edwards & Lamb Emporium specialising in Drapery, Millinery, etc) is still owned by the Lamb family, Joy Lamb.  Heritage-listed Lamb House and surrounding gardens are well worth preserving in my opinion.  It might make up for the destructive Joh Bjelke-Petersen era and the wrought iron lace which disappeared during the midnight demolition of the landmark Bellevue Hotel in 1979, and give Brisbane a proper past for the future to appreciate.

Journalist Tony Moore wrote an interesting Opinion Piece with some eye-opening photographs:
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/lamb-house-is-a-mess-but-it-could-be-a-brisbane-tourism-highlight-20200605-p5500x.html

Addendum:

Outstanding info with house and grounds images ‘Save Lamb House’ Jon Ruwolt, August 2020
https://www.federation-house.com/post/save-lamb-house

More colour images from © 2009 the foto fanatic
http://www.yourbrisbanepastandpresent.com/2009/04/lamb-house.html

If you are interested in Queensland history, visit Thom Blake Historian website
https://thomblake.com.au/index.php

Rose O’Brien takes a personal look at Queensland’s past and present
Queensland Stories https://roseobrienwriter.blog/


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Lamb House, Kangaroo Point, image from Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LambHouseHistory/

 

DEAR READER,
IF HISTORICALLY INCLINED, PLEASE CONTACT BRISBANE CITY COUNCIL.
I ADORE OLD HERITAGE LISTED BUILDINGS – THEY MUST BE PRESERVED.
BUT I HAVE NO CONNECTION WITH DECISIONS REGARDING LAMB HOUSE.
I WATCH FUTURE EVENTS WITH INTEREST,
AND SINCERELY HOPE THIS UNIQUE OLD HOME CAN BE REVIVED.
GBW 2020.

The Thickness of Real Books

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Which is the Thickest Book of All? © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020
Okay, let’s not get into the smell and feel of real books because I am only concentrating on the thickness of real books.
I thought the great hulking bulkiness of the doorstop blockbuster novel was long gone – not so when it comes to Robert Galbraith (worst kept pseudonym ever!) and her Cormoran Strike private detective series.
You know the one, the war veteran who lost half his leg, and his assistant like Robin in Batman, that’s it Robin, she’s really the most interesting character in these crime novels.
But I digress.
What I really want to say is that I find big heavy books daunting, not because they are big and heavy but because they had better have a really clever plot, plenty of drama, lots of tension, rip-roaring action and a nice twisty ending.
I want my money’s worth!
Which, in this case, isn’t relevant because I borrowed the big bruiser from the library – long live libraries – but I certainly hope this fifth installment lives up to its hype and dimensions.

 

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Which is the Best Book of All? © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020
My loan copy of “Troubled Blood” is fresh and unsullied as you can see in my first angle shot.  When I look at the bold spine in my second shot, it doesn’t seem nearly as daunting.  Bonus: inside I discovered the author’s hand-drawn illustrations.
Don’t worry, I am not writing a three-part posting on the joys and disappointments of reading J K Rowling’s (oops, Robert Galbraith’s) latest literary endeavour.
Book 4 ‘Lethal White’ has 647 pages but at 927 pages, ‘Troubled Blood’ is not the longest book I’ve ever read.
I just hope it is one of the best.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


SYNOPSIS

“Private Detective Cormoran Strike is visiting his family in Cornwall when he is approached by a woman asking for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough, who went missing in mysterious circumstances in 1974. As Strike and Robin investigate Margot’s disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer and witnesses who cannot all be trusted. And they learn that even cases decades old can prove to be deadly . . .”

Star Fish 02Hachette “A breathtaking, labyrinthine epic, ‘Troubled Blood’ is the fifth Strike and Robin novel and the most gripping and satisfying yet.”
https://www.hachette.com.au/robert-galbraith/troubled-blood

I guess if you can say “labyrinthine” you’ll have no worries reading this book. GBW.

Morning and Evening Trees

This is the view from my window of the morning sunlight on the flame tree and evening sunset on the umbrella tree – Spring 2020. 

Note: These images appeared at different times on my regular Home page ‘Photo of the Week’.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Morning Flame Tree © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

 

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Evening Umbrella Tree © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

Three Things #11

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It has been awhile since I compiled a Three Things post.  Traditionally, it should be different things, Reading Looking Thinking, but sometimes I don’t quite stick to that plan.  The original post was started by Paula Bardell-Hedley of Book Jotter.  She has the best literary links in the blogging biz.

Let’s open with READING

Tensy Farlow And The Home For Mislaid Children
by Jen Storer

  • Published: 3 August 2009
  • ISBN: 9781742286495
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 348

Tensy Farlow and The Home for Mislaid Children by Jen Storer

MY REVIEW

A scary story for ages nine and upwards but personally I would not have read it at nine years of age.  Or if I did, I would have had my fingers ready to peek through.  But seeing as I was an adult when this story was written, it’s all a bit hypothetical really.

Abandoned in the River Charon as a baby, Tensy Farlow is found and raised by dear Albie Gribble until circumstances contrive to send her to a gothic children’s home which is anything but homely.  Tensy is a strong yet unusual protagonista with flame red hair.  She makes friends with the other foundlings and workhouse orphans, but as if Watchers-in-the-night aren’t bad enough there is a swampy creature with an evil agenda—and Tensy’s name is top of the list.

The characters are both funny and horrible, like despicable Matron Pluckrose, her assistant Mrs Beadle, foul Cook and very creepy buildings including a haunted chapel loosely based on Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne where Jen Storer had occupied a writing space.

Amidst the mayhem and dire food, there are nice people like GAs (guardian angels—although Tensy doesn’t have one) young Howard, Olive, good guys Guy and Magnus and… well, I think there were some other nice people.  When I wasn’t reading through my fingers (ahem) I steadily progressed to the climactic ending.  I did question the tenuous tying up of loose ends but over all it was a transcendental finale.  One for the Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket readers but with unique quirks and atmospheric twist-backs all its own.

IMG_9269AUTHOR Jen Storer of Girl & Duck is an award-winning author of numerous books.  She is a writing motivator, creative inspirationalist, founder of Scribbles, the international children's writers creative group for authors, poets, illustrators and all things kidlit.  Jen has worked both sides of the publishing industry and knows trillions of wise and wonderful things to encourage and guide emerging writers.

Listen https://soundcloud.com/girlandduck

Now a peek at LOOKING

Australian Art: Short Course

I joined many others on Zoom as Angela Goddard, Director of Griffith University Art Museum, took us on a 3-part virtual short course to discover a unique perspective on Australian art.

Using artworks on display in QAGOMA’s Australian Art Collection, this introductory short course explored aspects of Australian art history, from ancient Indigenous traditions through to the present day.  Each virtual session featured a focus lecture, followed by a Q&A with a contemporary artist.

SESSION 1: COUNTRY, LANDSCAPE AND MEMORY
SESSION 2: NETWORKS OF MODERNITY
SESSION 3: PATHS TO THE CONTEMPORARY

I could ask questions and discuss ideas with other attendees and panelists via the Zoom chat window.  It was fascinating to see how our art evolved from the European painters to a strong Australian identity and then recognition of the original Indigenous artists.

Link to images of several of the works of art under discussion:
https://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/australian-collection

Campsite on Philip Island by FC Bernet c1950
Personal collection – Campsite Philip Island © FC Bernet c1950

And close with THINKING

After coming to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic, my city of Brisbane is learning how to get back into social activities and community events in a new socially acceptable way.

Apart from learning how to properly wash our hands and wear a face mask like the rest of the world, we are now embracing outdoor activities more than ever before.  In the cool calmness of morning, I do yoga in the park and share my mat with insects and fallen blossom.

I took this photograph (below) of the back page of November 2020 “What’s On” brochure which showcases some of the mostly-free Brisbane City Council activities on offer, from pottery and pilates to Shakespeare, cyclists and circus handstands. 

Hmm, I am thinking of attending the evening performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in Roma Street Parklands, 14-15 November from 4pm.  Although the park is adjacent to the central business district and fine dining, I think a picnic would be nice.  The event states "live music and swordplay".  Nothing like munching on a sandwich while watching dueling swordsmen spouting Shakespeare.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Brisbane City Council November 2020 “What’s On” Event Guide

Review ‘Honeybee’ by Craig Silvey

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Every so often I would close this book and take a deep breath.  The out-of-control actions are breathtaking and I felt sad and infuriated at the same time.  Sam ‘Honeybee’ Watson is powerless as he is pushed and pulled repeatedly through horrible events in his young life.  Author Craig Silvey does not sugar-coat the mental and physical abuse.  He writes an accurate portrayal of how alcohol, drugs and crime destroy a family, and the twisted use of power by certain members of that family.

Sam’s view of the world is distorted by cruel and thoughtless people, mainly his mother and her boyfriend Steve, until traumatic circumstances bring him to meet old bloke Vic and nurse Peter, both offering him a glimpse of a kinder world.  On the periphery, he meets and makes his first friend Aggie who shows him a regular homelife.  Later he is offered assistance by a detective but Sam shuts down regarding his domestic situation and goes his own way with disastrous results.

IMG_20201021_182820Fourteen year old Sam likes dogs and wearing feminine clothing, and thanks to Vic he is good at motorcycle maintenance.  There are emotional moments concerning all three; dogs, sequins and motorcycles.  However, I did seesaw between whether or not I liked Sam because he certainly did some wrong things.  Even allowing for his youth and gender confusion, he fits the words of the Paul Kelly song ‘I’ve done all the dumb things’ only partly excusable by his fertile imagination, impulsive nature and inherent lack of trust.

The story has a good blend of past and present so the reader can see how things spiral out of control.  Early on, Sam becomes an adept thief because there is never food in the house so he steals groceries and watches videos of cooking goddess (no, not Nigella) the late Julia Child, turning into an impressive cook himself.  He constantly seeks approval of his culinary dishes.

I was not shocked by Sam’s experiences but they could be too confronting for younger readers.  This novel is very different from Silvey's ‘Jasper Jones’ and I think a sturdier sense of place, a more tangible atmosphere could have been applied instead of skimming through the streets.  Set in Western Australia, there are ‘movie moments’ and clipped generic dialogue, but I found the insertion of Americanisms kept to a minimum.  I suspect when Sam dials the wrong emergency number it is a poke at millennials who don't know the correct Australian phone number.

Draw-a-Bee 01Favourite sentence because it is so corny I sat there and nodded, but my heart was breaking, because I knew I could never tell Aggie the truth about myself.’  However, Craig Silvey has firmly and skillfully documented Sam’s predicament, a blend of teenage unease, identity crisis and gender anxiety.  Read at the right age, at the right time, it could prove to be an enlightening book.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Ralph Waldo Emerson quotation “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”.


Craig Silvey Honeybee Australian Author 02Craig Silvey (born 1982) is an Australian novelist and musician living in Fremantle.  Silvey grew up on an orchard in Dwellingup, a small town in timber and fruit-growing lands in south-west Western Australia.  He wrote his first book ‘Rhubarb’ when he was nineteen and it was published in 2004.  Silvey has received many accolades for his books and twice been named one of the Best Young Australian Novelists by The Sydney Morning Herald, and has been shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award.

Since his wildly successful novel ‘Jasper Jones’, Silvey has published the novella ‘The Amber Amulet’, which he adapted into a stage play the following year, and has scripted ‘The Prospector’, a contemporary western film directed by Rachel Perkins.  His latest book ‘Honeybee’ was published in 2020.  Silvey also sings and plays the electric ukulele in an indie/pop/rock band called ‘The Nancy Sikes’.

‘The Finisher’ by Peter Lovesey

THIS IS A GRAND STORY of old-school police procedural proportions, a murder mystery which employs the same dedication and precision as the runners in training for the Bath Half Marathon.  The build-up is firm and steady, the plot delivers survival tactics, and every likely and unlikely event is taken into consideration.

MOST OF THE GROUNDING for this solid piece of deduction has to do with Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond of Bath’s Criminal Investigations Department.  I can’t say Diamond is all that loveable, and he gets himself into trouble on the odd occasion, but he’s a great character to drape a story around.

DIAMOND HAS A GIRLFRIEND Paloma and when they are together I get a midsomer murder ‘Shakespeare and Hathaway’ vibe.  Diamond is aided and abetted by two sensible police officers, Keith Halliwell and Ingeborg Smith, and annoyed by Assistant Chief Constable Georgina Dallymore. Like any good whodunnit, there’s a crusty forensic pathologist Dr Sealy and a number of important characters woven into the story.

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Do you think you could run this marathon? https://bathhalf.co.uk/race-info/

I AM NOT BIG on writing synopses because I figure that a potential reader can get any amount of reviews online which offer insights into this ingenious plot.  Suffice to say that the Bath Half Marathon is an absolutely huge running event held in UK and literally thousands of people from all walks of life compete each year for charity.  On this occasion, a murder takes place and Diamond has to find the body before he can make an arrest. Actually there are two murders but this is where it gets tricky…

AUTHOR PETER LOVESEY has given the reader several suspects to choose from and they are all plausible.  Some of the characters include Spiro and Murat part of the modern-day slave trade, Maeve Kelly primary school teacher, sleazy Tony Pinto, and wife of Russian oligarch Olga Ivanova, taking part in the Bath Half Marathon for wildly different reasons. 

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I HAD A MASSIVE claustrophobia attack: the hills where the race is run has hundreds of old tunnels and underground quarries.  I haven’t felt that bad since I read ‘The Chalk Pit’ a Ruth Galloway mystery by Elly Griffiths.  Cruelly, Lovesey did not spare my nerves.

THE BOOK TITLE is apt in various ways, and apart from showcasing beautiful Bath, there are techie things like micro-chipped runners and aerial drones.  However, Lovesey does say that the route he mapped out is not the one followed by real runners.  He has never run the marathon but as an author and sports writer he cleverly captures the mood and excitement of the event.

Nothing like running a hot bath after running the Bath Half Marathon.

I MAY NOT SAY ‘Where are my running shoes?’ but with at least seventeen other novels in the Peter Diamond series, I am going to start my own reading marathon.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


AUTHOR PROFILE

Poetry Clipart 08Peter (Harmer) Lovesey (born 1936), also known by his pen name Peter Lear, is a British writer of historical and contemporary detective novels and short stories. His best-known series characters are Sergeant Daniel Cribb, a Victorian-era police detective based in London, and Peter Diamond, a modern-day police detective in Bath.

Peter Lovesey lives near Chichester UK and was a teacher/lecturer before he turned to full-time writing.  In 2020 he celebrates 50 years as an author and ironically in 1970 his first prize-winning novel was ‘Wobble to Death’ where a bizarre six-day endurance race takes place in 1880s London.  His son Phil Lovesey also writes crime novels.

Jasper Fforde ‘The Constant Rabbit’ Book Review

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Most readers will grasp the fact that this book is not going to be about Bugs Bunny.  Jasper Fforde’s unique trademark of invective wit and critical observation cover politics, racism, sexism, bureaucracy and libraries.  Actually the library in the village of Much Hemlock has reverted to the old card system but is still afloat despite very tight restrictions.  Some reviewers say this book is a departure from Fforde’s usual style but I disagree.  Jasper Fforde has always been out-there, although his unique writing charm has become more prominent since Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett left the room.

The main protagonists are village newcomer Constance Rabbit and long-time residents Peter Knox and his daughter Pippa.  Despite cultural differences, they meet in the library and become friends.  And the book title?  I thought it had something to do with “The Constant Gardener” by John le Carré but in a Zoom interview via Avid Reader Bookshop, Brisbane, Mr Fforde himself said that it refers to people rabbiting on, e.g. constantly talking – so there you go.

Rabbits rarely lie,” said Pippa.  “They take their greatest pride in preserving most strongly the parts of them that aren’t us”. Thus rabbits walk tall but do lean towards the tonal qualities of Beatrix Potter so it’s a shock when UKARP United Kingdom Anti-Rabbit Party rears its ugly head, ready to enforce rehoming of rabbits to a Mega Warren in Wales.  Things don’t look good for Connie but she’s not going to hop away.  Can sharing her difficulties with her neighbour cause romance to blossom over a lettuce salad?  But wait, average bloke Peter hides a dark secret.

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Jasper Fforde reads a portion of his new book The Constant Rabbit during Zoom interview via Avid Reader Bookshop, West End, Brisbane, Australia in July 2020 https://avidreader.com.au/products/the-constant-rabbit-1

As the byline reads “It’ll take a rabbit to teach a human humanity…” and for any reader with an open mind that’s what this book achieves.  Situations run parallel to today’s world like a surreal split in the time-continuum, engaging satire and brazen behaviour with apprehension and alarm.  It doesn’t take much effort to transpose our current social and political climate over the chapters.  It rapidly becomes clear that the intertextual remarks are meaningful and at times confronting.

Like the home-created experiments that lived and breathed in Thursday Next (in earlier Fforde books Pickwick the Dodo was made from a kit) Connie’s large family had not been the only animals caught up in the 1965 Spontaneous Anthropomorphising Event.  Six weasels, five guinea pigs, three foxes, a Dalmatian, a badger, nine bees and a caterpillar suffered disorders.  What happened to them is succinctly explained. 

Chapter “Searching in vain & Shopping in town” Connie talks about her acting career and lets slip a few movie names. There’s even a dig at the Playboy Bunny era.  I could have done with more illustrations as per previous books but real product brand names and clever wordplay are liberally sprinkled throughout the story; and organisations like TwoLegsGood, Rabxit, and RabCoT exist alongside old-school references, a mixture of “jolly good chap” and 2020 tactile sensibility.

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Part illustration taken from frontispiece drawn by Bill Mudron of Portland, Oregon USA (and my cast-iron rabbit)  https://www.billmudron.com/

What I like about Fforde’s writing style is the wry humour, he tells it like it is – with a twist.  The smarmy Senior Group Leader, Mr Torquil Ffoxe does not escape being lampooned for about forty permutations of the double ff in his name when “All, without exception, were pronounced Fox” so is that a dig at Fforde’s own moniker or reader misinterpretation?

In my opinion, this book is vaguely similar to George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” but does not match because in “The Constant Rabbit” Fforde has significantly placed every name, action and event to create an edgy kind of intimacy, an uncomfortably familiar stab of recognition for readers.  With Manor Farm you feel things won’t turn out right; in Much Hemlock you want things to turn out right.  Best of all, Connie Rabbit has joined the illustrious list of strong female characters Jasper Fforde has written over the length of his literary career.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


IMG_20190907_185124Author Profile:

Jasper Fforde has been writing in the Comedy/Fantasy genre since 2001 when his novel “The Eyre Affair” debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list. Since then he has published 14 more books (which include a YA trilogy) with several becoming bestsellers, and counts his sales in millions. “The Constant Rabbit” is his 15th novel.

Jasper Fforde previously worked in the film industry, and now lives and writes in Wales UK. His oeuvre consists of series and standalones and his recent novel “Early Riser” is a thriller set in a world in which humans have always hibernated; his latest book “The Constant Rabbit” about anthropomorphised rabbits becoming the underclass in a post-Brexit Britain was published 2020.

Check out Dan Simpson’s blog Writer’s Routine for Jasper Fforde audio interview.
All you ever wanted to know
http://www.jasperfforde.com/

‘Mirror, Mirror on the Wall’ 10 True Facts

Winter night © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

The nerd in me just loves these ten crazy true facts about mirrors!  I was actually searching for a fiction story based on a mirror but discovered Dr Ruth Searle’s website and decided her information was far more interesting.

Read on . . .

10. Mirrors And Time Travel

We know that a mirror can do more than reflect your image. And I won’t even start to document the amount of films I’ve seen or books I’ve read where the doorway to another world is through a mirror. A mirrored portal can lead you into an enchanted world of the future or the past; a doorway into a fantasy, paranormal or parallel world; a dystopian dreamscape or endless deep space—supposedly—however, with scientific know-how, Dr Ruth Searle explains HOW wormholes CAN make it possible to travel into the past.

9. Mirrors, Phantom Limbs, And The Human Brain

Experiments using mirrors on patients with phantom limbs have allowed researchers to learn a lot about the workings of our brain. Using a “smoke and mirrors” style optical illusion, researchers placed mirrors vertically on a table and used them to reflected the patient’s intact limb… there’s details on creating new neural pathways due to the plasticity of the brain and the connection between vision and touch.

8. Mirrors Cause Hallucinations

“A strange illusion is conjured up when you stare at your reflection in a mirror” writes Ruth Searle. This one slightly freaked me out because I remember as a girl I was told to stare into a mirror in the evening and soon I would see the face of my one true love. Anyway I stared and stared, and the more I stared, the more frightened I became. I never saw anything but I never did try that again.

If you are up for it, the instructions read “At first, you will find that there are small distortions in your face in the mirror. Then, gradually, after several minutes, your face will begin to change more dramatically, and look more like a waxwork, like the face doesn’t belong to you.” Shiver, no thanks!

7. Can Everyone Recognise Themselves In A Mirror?

Apparently children develop mirror self-recognition by about two years old but cultural differences can sometimes influence recognition and is not a sign that they lack the ability to separate themselves psychologically from other humans. One for those parental “aaw, cute” moments when their kid kisses the mirror.

Confident Cat
Confidence

6. Animals That Have Mirror Self-Recognition

Some researchers think certain animals are able to pass a test for recognising their own reflection. Animals which pass the traditional mirror self-recognition test naturally include chimpanzees and orangutans but several others surprised me. Killer whales anyone..?

5. Mirrors On The Moon

This sentence sounds like sci-fi but if you don’t believe me, read it yourself: “The Laser Ranging Retroreflector was left on the Moon by Apollo astronauts, and is used to calculate the distance from the Earth to the Moon. It is essentially a series of corner-cube reflectors—a special type of mirror—which reflects a laser beam back in the direction it came from… Not only can the Laser Ranging Retroreflector measure the distance from the Earth to the Moon, but it has improved our knowledge of the Moon.” There’s more on the website.

4. Mirrors Can Also Reflect Sound

Before radars were invented, mirrors which reflect sound waves were known as “acoustic mirrors” and were used in Britain during World War II to detect certain sound waves coming from enemy aircraft. It is worth checking the photo to see this almost modern art installation.

3. Reflecting Matter With Mirrors

I absolutely love this Sheldon-like paragraph “Amazingly, mirrors can also reflect matter. Such mirrors are known in physics as atomic mirrors. An atomic mirror reflects atoms of matter just as a conventional mirror reflects light. They use electromagnetic fields to reflect neutral atoms, although some just use silicon water…” Put on your Big Bang t-shirt and read the rest of it, I dare you.

2. True Mirrors

Dr Ruth Searle writes “It’s actually a myth that a mirror reverses your image—your reflection is not flipped. What you see is the left-hand side of your face on the left of the mirror, and the right-hand side on the right, giving the illusion that your reflection is reversed. However, a non-reversing mirror, or true mirror, was developed… primarily for applying cosmetics.” On Zoom, there is a function which allows you to reverse your image and I find it very disorientating.

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Backward and forward

1. Splitting Light With A Mirror

I did not know that mirrors not only reflect light, sound, and matter, but they can also split light beams. A basic beam splitter is a cube, made from two glass prisms connected at their base. The illustration for this one makes it look amazingly simple but the explanation says beam splitters are used in many scientific instruments including telescopes so their function would have to be precise.

So there you have it, folks, a short ramble through the never-ending joys of the internet.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


ListVerse: 10 Crazy Facts About Mirrors | Ruth Searle | 30 December, 2013 | 80 Comments
Profile: Dr Ruth Searle is a marine biologist with a PhD in humpback whale ecology and behaviour in tropical marine environments.  She is also a freelance writer and science nut.

Unstoppable Springtime

Plants and flowers come and go in the garden according to the seasons but Spring seems to be the best time for Nature to attract my attention.

Here is a tiny sample of what’s happening now in a suburban backyard in Brisbane…

Protect the natural environment, recycle, reuse, conserve water, and remember social distancing doesn't apply to plants. 

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Lucy V Hay ‘Criminally Good’ Advice

After reading Lucy V Hay’s two informative books “Writing and Selling Thriller Screenplays” and “How NOT to Write Female Characters” the next logical step was to subscribe to her website and learn more.

The first thing I noticed was that Lucy is very active and her site holds a plethora of information. Then I was delighted to receive a free copy of The Lynmouth Stories, three of Lucy’s short stories titled “In Plain Sight”, “Killing Me Softly” and “Hell and High Water”, twisters which certainly pack a psychological punch.

Here’s what it says on her website—

Lucy is an author and script editor, living in Devon with her husband, three children and six cats. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015) both starring Danny Dyer. See Lucy’s IMDB page HERE and other movies and short films she’s been involved in, HERE.

In addition to script reading and writing her own novels, Lucy also blogs about the writing process, screenwriting, genre, careers and motivation and much more at her blog Bang2write, one of the most-hit writing sites in the UK. Sign up for updates from B2W and receive a free 28 page ebook (PDF) on how NOT to write female characters, HERE or click the pic on her website.

For more scriptchat, leads and links, join Lucy’s online writing group, Bang2writers. It’s something I am going to explore further!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

ADDENDUM—For a free copy of The Lynmouth Stories and more, join Lucy’s EMAIL LIST—My post heading comes from the title of Lucy’s email CRIMINALLY GOOD where she interviews fellow crime writers and asks them five questions.  She says “It’s fascinating to read their answers, especially as they are all so different!”  Today I have the choice of Ian Rankin, Sophie Hannah or Peter James. GBW. 

Your Precious Life

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Photo Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020 — Quote from poem The Summer Day by Mary Oliver https://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/133.html

The Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) author and Pulitzer Prize winning poet.
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/mary-oliver

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Poetry Clipart 09

My Neglected Bookshelves

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Old bookshelf © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2020

Don’t look too closely, there’s plenty of dust on them thar bookshelves. These books have sentimental value but may be destined for the University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair 2021 at St Lucia Campus, Brisbane—
Link https://alumni.uq.edu.au/uq-alumni-book-fair

Here’s the first installment of my three-day visit in April 2019—
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/

Old books or new ones, ebooks or audio, I wish you all good books!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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A corner of the UQ Alumni Book Fair 2019

ANZAC Park in Toowong

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RECENTLY I was fortunate enough to take a pleasant stroll in a modest yet important piece of parkland.  From 1916 to the present day, ANZAC Park is one of the oldest ANZAC parks in the world – a war memorial and a green space for everyone.

I HAVE visited ANZAC Park on and off for many years and have seen some old trees removed and new ones planted, the circular roadway improved, a dog park installed, children’s area expanded, the duck lagoon which overflows or dries up depending on the seasons and, of course, enjoyed many picnics sitting on a tartan rug on the sloping hillside away from the hum of the city.

APPROXIMATELY 15 minutes or 7km from Brisbane CBD, in times gone by it was a day’s outing at the end of the tram line.  It is opposite the significant landmarks of Toowong Cemetery and Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, linked by the Toowong pedestrian and cycle bridge recently named Canon Garland Overpass.

More on Canon Garland further down . . .

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ANZAC is the acronym formed from the initial letters of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.  This was the formation in which Australian and New Zealand soldiers in Egypt were grouped before the landing on Gallipoli in April 1915 during the First World War.


THE CONFLICT commemorated in ANZAC Park is the First World War 1914–1918 and memorial types were Garden/Avenue/Tree.  Inscriptions within the park consisted of small brass and metal plaques located in front of memorial trees, bearing the details of local men from the district who died at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.  No plaques remain today nor is there a stone monument.

YEARS of petitioning from a community-based campaign to honour the memory of Anglican clergyman and military chaplain Canon David Garland, the Queenslander who gave ANZAC Day to the world, culminated in the renaming of the pedestrian and cycle bridge which crosses the busy Western Freeway.  Officially named Canon Garland Overpass, it pays tribute to the man who championed the formation of “ANZAC Day” as our nation’s “All Souls’ Day”.

This photo was taken as I walked across the bridge – a safe yet disconcerting experience.

20200808_135138 Brisbane
Canon Garland Overpass for pedestrians and cyclists across Western Freeway at Toowong, Brisbane, looking towards Mt Coot-tha — the camera was held straight — View shows the enclosed AU$5.4 million overpass constructed between 2008-2009 and later renamed “Canon Garland Overpass” after the man who pioneered ANZAC Day. The bridge provides a safe way for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the busy Western Freeway with links to and from ANZAC Park to Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens, historical Toowong Cemetery, Western Freeway Bikeway, main bus routes and local cafes. The overpass features a 60 metre-long freeway-crossing, 160 metres of elevated structure and fully enclosed screen protection — https://garlandmemorial.com/2019/10/09/canon-garland-overpass/

AFTER A LIFETIME of service to the community, Canon Garland (1864–1939) was buried across the road in Toowong Cemetery, not far from The Stone of Remembrance and The Sword of SacrificeThe official unveiling of these two memorials makes stirring reading.  On 25 April 1924, they were unveiled by the Governor-General as Australia’s first “national” ANZAC Memorial, thanks to the tireless efforts of Canon Garland.

FROM ITS POSITION on the corner of Wool Street and Dean Street, and Mt Coot-tha Road, Toowong, ANZAC Park has easy access to places mentioned above as well as bushland walks and picnic areas within Mt Coot-tha Reserve.

Friends of ANZAC Park have beaut photographs on their website.
Queensland War Memorials insight includes planting an honour avenue of palms.


JUST TO CONFUSE things, an ANZAC monument stands in Toowong Memorial Park, a heritage-listed memorial park at 65 Sylvan Road, Toowong, City of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.  The Toowong War Memorial is composed of brown Helidon freestone and was built to commemorate those men of the district who died in service or were killed in action in World War One.  It was designed by George Rae and built c.1922 by Toowong monumental stonemasons Andrew Lang Petrie & Sons.  It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register in September 2007.  This monument sits on a hill and has twelve small stone pillars around it.


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Sandwiches — cheese and tomato, egg and lettuce, corned beef and salad, chicken and mustard mayonnaise.

I am writing this post on 1st September 2020, the first day of Spring, so time to get outside and breathe that fresh air – don’t forget the picnic rug!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Swooping Season – Watch Out!

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This sign had fallen off the fence onto grass under a eucalypt tree but whether caused by human or bird intervention is anyone’s guess. GBW.

Magpies in Australia are well-known for swooping humans and pets during their breeding season between July and December, but peak swooping month is September in Brisbane.  This is normal defensive behaviour in springtime as the birds are trying to protect their eggs or newly hatched young in the nest.

Walk the long way home!  Swooping season can be a nuisance to some people, but often Magpies will accept the presence of people within their territories (they do get to know human families) however when attacks do occur, they usually take place within a hundred metre radius around the tree containing their nest.

I know from experience that a sudden rush of wings and a sharp, snapping beak at the side of your head is a very scary thing.

While most Magpie attacks are mild, they could cause serious injury to your eyes and head.
Seven tips to protect yourself against swooping birds:

(1)  Wear a hat or carry an umbrella

(2)  Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes

(3)  Do not interfere with the birds or their nest

(4)  Watch the birds while walking away quickly and calmly

(5)  A bird is less likely to swoop if it knows you’re watching

(6)  If you ride a bike, dismount and walk

(7)  Never aggravate a Magpie as this can make the bird defensive and lead to a more severe swooping attack next time.

Some people paint big eyes on their bike helmets or stick drinking straws on their hats to repel Magpies, but I’m not sure these ideas work.  Wearing head protection stops wayward claws from tangling in hair.

Magpies are vocal birds with a carolling call.  They adapt well to open and cleared environments and thrive in large areas of lawn (like parks, golf course, school grounds) which provide foraging sites, and where there are scattered trees available for nesting, and a water source.

Usually Magpies eat garden pests and insects but they are inventive when it comes to cat food.  In my photo sequence this one peered into the car scrounging for a snack.

The nest of a Magpie is bowl-shaped and made from dry sticks with a lining of grass, bark and other fibres.  The clutch size is usually around three to four blue-grey eggs, though this varies according to season, predators and health of the parents.  Magpie lifespan is about 25 years and I have had two hanging around my place for several years.  Both parents raise their young and guard their territory and they are a natural part of my outdoor life.

Pen Paper Clipart Boy Holding PencilPLEASE NOTE The Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) is a native Australian bird and is PROTECTED under the State Wildlife Legislation (Nature Conservation Act 1992).  It is a serious offence to harm Magpies and penalties apply for attempting to harm them.  Information Brisbane City Council Biodiversity Living with Wildlife.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Review ‘The Brisbane Line’ by J P Powell

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This is a book I had to read.  The name is derived from “an alleged 1942 WWII government plan to abandon Northern Australia in the event of a Japanese invasion”—there is nothing alleged about it.  My father was a young soldier in WWII based in Melbourne when his division received the command to form The Brisbane Line.  It made such an impression on him that later, when he was married, he relocated the family to Brisbane where I currently live.

I dearly wish I could discuss this novel with my late father but I do remember him reminiscing about the off-duty times and leave in tropical Far North Queensland where hi-jinks often lead to a soldier’s death.   I am sure there was tension, corruption and murder among the thousands of American troops stationed in Brisbane, but on the other hand I know families of young women who married GI Joe’s and went to live in US never to return.

Enigmatic protagonist, Rose, has a boyfriend who is a prisoner-of-war and she says “It’s men who cause the trouble in the first place.  It’s just another hypocrisy.”

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Suitable for crime readers and historians, this well-researched yet fictionalised novel is based on a real person and his original paperwork.  It is more interesting than a text book and follows Sergeant Joe Washington, a US Military Police officer and amateur photographer who joins local police in battling crime and black market corruption.  Joe also has grave suspicions of a murder cover-up.

The humid atmosphere is laced with grunge and irritability offset by guys and gals dancing the night away at the Trocadero Dance Hall.  Well-known landmarks and people make an appearance, for example notorious cop Frank Bischof, author Thea Astley and General Douglas MacArthur, an American who in WWII commanded the Southwest Pacific region. 

The book is gritty and at times the inequality upset my 21st century sensibilities but it is based on true events.  Powell has recreated a vibrant town which embraced a huge influx of cashed-up strangers in uniform and the repercussions this had on Brisbane society, some of which still lingers today.

In “The Art of War” Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu wrote “All warfare is based on deception” and “The greatest victory is that which requires no battle” so I think Judy Powell’s book shows there was no battle—but plenty of deception closer to home.  

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Author Profile

Briobooks
http://briobooks.com.au/authors/jppowell
YouTube Avid Reader Books interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbE0v3Yhkx0

Brisbane Line JP Powell Author Photo 2020 (5)Judy Powell is an archaeologist and historian with a passion for bringing the past to life.  She has worked as a high school teacher, an academic, a National Parks officer, a museum administrator and has excavated in Jordan, Cyprus and Greece as well as leading historical archaeology projects in Australia.  Powell, who lives outside Brisbane, was awarded a QANZAC Fellowship by the State Library of Queensland to pursue research into, and writing of, a series of crime novels set in Brisbane during World War II.

What if..? Jade Hameister’s Challenge

Jade Hameister Polar Skier and Sandwich
Jade Hameister Polar Skier (Image Credit: @jadehameister)

“What if young women around the world were encouraged to be more, rather than less? What if the focus shifted from how we appear, to the possibilities of what we can do?”

Quote from Jade Hameister – world record-breaking polar skier.

When told to “make me a sandwich” by a number of male internet trolls in response to her TED talk, Hameister made one, posted a picture of herself with the sandwich at the South Pole and captioned the photo:


“I made you a sandwich (ham & cheese), now ski 37 days and 600 kilometres to the South Pole and you can eat it.”


Star Fish 02Jade Hameister OAM (born 5 June 2001) is an Australian woman who, age 16, became the youngest person in history to pull off the “polar hat-trick”, ski to the North and South Poles, and cross the second largest polar icecap on the planet: Greenland.  Wikipedia.

Quote source:
https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/history-culture/2018/03/in-her-words-inspiring-quotes-from-australias-ground-breaking-women/

TED talk:
https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=Jade+Hameister+TED+Talk

Facebook post:
https://www.facebook.com/jadehameister/photos/a.224825967879767.1073741829.207513589611005/524715937890767/?type=3&theater

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Your inner light still shines

This poem touched a chord within me . . .

Multi-talented storyteller, author and freelancer Chris Hall of luna’s on line says “Basically, I love writing in all its forms.  I tell stories – short fiction pieces, even poetry – maybe from a writing prompt or a piece of artwork I’ve seen, or maybe something topical which I’ve read.  For the past few months I’ve been writing serials on my blog e.g. Sinead’s Final Quest and Alys and Sparky.”

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Read on . . .

luna's on line

The image shows face of a woman. It is painted with luminous glitter paint and the features are highlighted with bright yellow lines, ending in a question mark on the forehead.Imprisoned inside a fragile façade

yet your inner light still glimmers

hope leaks out from every pore

and your smile still shines from deep within.

Confined within the corporeal

plagued by withering pain

yet the force that the fans your flame

is fuelled by a sharper source.

Your spark will not be extinguished

your spirit will not be crushed

not yet, while there’s hope

for another, better day.


Written in response to Sadjes What Do You See #42 photo prompt.
Image credit: Lucas Pezetaon Pexels

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‘Trophy’ Poem

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Long forgotten heroes … or maybe not …

TROPHY

1st place

Legitimate

The first time I’ve won a

Trophy

In my entire life

And you weren’t there.

I was so excited

My body

SHOOK!

I never expected to win anything

At all

And

When I told you, I got

“Good job”

You encourage me to do this

Begged

Pleaded

Anything you could do

To make me join you in it

And then

I got

Everything

But not

Your joy

Poem by Alice Julia Miller
October 2013
https://hellopoetry.com/poem/497020/trophy/

Poetry Clipart 09 Gretchen Bernet-Ward