Thursday, 30 October 2014

The story of Michael Redford, by DJ Bennett.

'Hamelin's Child' by DJ Bennett, was a favourite of mine from the time I first read it.  I now have the series of three books  - real books, not ebooks. They are kept in my permanent collection - those books that are worthy of reading again and again.

It has recently been featured on an excellent review site -  Book Addict Shaun.

This review tells it far better than I could, so (with permission)  I have reproduced it here.

Hamelin's Child by DJ Bennett (5/5)
Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Michael Redford died on his seventeenth birthday – the night Eddie picked him up off the street, shot him full of heroin and assaulted him.

Now he’s Mikey and he works for Joss. With streaked blond hair and a cute smile, he sleeps by day and services clients at night. Sometimes he remembers his old life, but with what he’s become now, he knows there is no return to his comfortable middle-class background.

Then he makes a friend in Lee. A child of the streets, Lee demands more from friendship than Mikey is prepared to give. But the police are closing in on them now and Mikey’s not sure anymore who he really is – streetwise Mikey or plain Michael Redford.

Hamelin’s Child was long-listed in the UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. A thriller set in the seedy world of London's drug rings, this book contains strong scenes and adult material.

By Shaun, of Book Addict Shaun:

I was browsing Amazon when I came across this book. The author very kindly sent me a review copy and I couldn't wait to start it. With some glowing reviews on Amazon I started it with a bit of trepidation at what to expect. Debbie Bennett has written one hell of a story here, one that will pull at your heartstrings and have you experiencing every emotion possible as you read. At times the story becomes so difficult you almost want to put the book down, but it is just too gripping to do that. 

Michael is approached in a bar by a stranger when his girlfriend is occupied with another man, the stranger spikes Michael's drink, taking him back to a flat in the East End where he is kept prisoner, raped, shot full of heroin and sold for sex. We see Michael, or Mikey, go from a normal teenager to a drug addict, so dependent on the drug he will do anything for it. Debbie has captured the mind of the male teenager incredibly well. We really get inside Mikey's head, and start to understand his thought processes. At times he is confused and angry, coming across sometimes like an adult yet retaining that childlike vulnerability that teenagers still have. Sharing the house with a boy named Lee, Mikey wants to escape, but it isn't long before his drug addiction prevents him from doing so. His friendship with Lee starts to develop further, leaving him even more confused and angry at the things he is thinking and feeling. You do want Mikey to escape and find freedom but at the same time know that there won't be much of a story if that happens. Lee has an adult voice despite being younger than Mikey, and this isn't due to an author fault but the fact that Lee has had to grow up very fast.

Debbie writes with such knowledge about the subject of drugs and the world Mikey finds himself in that it adds a greater feeling of authenticity to the novel. Scarily so at times which left me wondering just how she knows this world so well. A look at her biography says she worked in law enforcement for 25 years. Perhaps that's where it comes from but the book feeling so real draws more emotion from you as a reader, parts of the book were read by me with a lump in my throat, my heart thumping in my chest. In the background we have Mikey's sister Kate looking for him, the only one in her family that doesn't think he ran away, she thinks there's more to it. These parts of the book I didn't enjoy as much, and found myself wanting to get back to Mikey's part of the story. Events halfway through though change drastically, meaning I was hooked on the book and simply unable to put it down.

What was all the more horrifying for me is how real this story felt. Walking around London, or indeed any major city in the UK you very rarely take notice of the people around you. In a club especially, or on the street outside, a man walking with a younger man and taking him down a side alley might not draw much attention. It's scary but it is also true to life. In London now there are people living the life that Michael unwittingly found himself in, and there are men preying on the vulnerable. It's a very human story, with very realistic characters not just in Mikey and Lee but in the people keeping them prisoner. Eddie, who kidnaps Mikey, and Joss, the owner of the flat the boys are prisoner in are as evil as they come. Very rarely have I felt hatred for a fictional character more than I did for these two men. It's a very thought provoking book. Mikey makes a number of choices throughout the book that aren't perhaps the ones you think he should but it makes sense because of the person he has been forced to become. It's impossible to say how you would react in this situation and you really agonise along with Mikey as he struggles to make sense of things.

More often than not you finish a book and move on to the next one. However when a story affects you as much as this one - I found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn't reading the book - it is incredibly hard to just finish it and move on. Because of how real it felt, the character of Mikey is so vivid in my mind that you almost want to reach out and help him, I am still thinking about it even now. It's hard to reccommend a book like this, does it have a particular audience? I think not. I think if people look beyond the blurb, rather than being put off I'd urge people to pick it up. It makes you grateful for your own life. It would make a parent hug their child extra tight at night and make all of us more wary of those around us when we are out and about. You only need to read the news to know stories similar to Mikey's kidnapping appear far too often.

Never once is the book predictable. You have an idea of what's going to happen and then Debbie takes you on a completely different path. The ending knocked me for six, I was speechless, sitting staring at the book long after finishing it. It's a heartbreaking ending, but one that demands you read the sequel, which is just what an author sets out to achieve. I have a review TBR which scares me, yet this book was so good I just don't think I can wait very long to continue the story. If this was a film or a TV show, the ending is so dramatic that there would be an audible silence around the room as the credits rolled. It stunned me and left me speechless and if I'm honest a bit upset. This definitely isn't a book to miss, and those that might perhaps be put off by the subject matter should totally look beyond that, and give this book a chance. 

Debbie has written other books as well, among them, one about a character in the above series - Lenny.  There is to be a second one published around Christmas - 'Ratline..'

These books are available on all the usual online sellers,
including Amazon. 
The author DJ Bennett

People who like Debbie's books, are also likely to enjoy my own Shuki Series. It is not that they are the same, or even very similar.  And yet there is something they have in common, something that is quite hard to define.  I think it is something about the way that the central character takes the reader along with him.  

'From boy of the slums to Oxford Graduate, this is the story of Shuki Bolkiah, modern day eunuch.' 


The fourth and final of the series has just been released, available in ebook or paperback from.  Each of the books is complete in itself.

Buy from online sellers such as Smashwords. Amazon and The Book Depository.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Ebola and Discrimination

Nurses and doctors who go to help treat Ebola patients are saints. I admire them enormously. So it seems a bit inconsistent that some of them think that rational quarantine measures are such an imposition on them. You would expect them to be first to want to ensure that this terrible disease is not spread.
And yet a nurse who had just returned to America after treating Ebola patients, and who was showing a fever, is threatening to sue because she was put into quarantine.  It does not fit the image of a good, even saintly person. The authorities were right to put her into quarantine. Anyone who has been treating Ebola patients, even if not ill, should go into voluntary home quarantine as a matter of course, and for three weeks.  They should certainly not go on public transport, not go to shopping centres, and quite certainly not go bowling as a returned doctor did.  (The one now being treated for Ebola.) 
Quarantine is necessary to protect all of us. It is sense. 
And limiting visas from affected countries?  That is also only sense.
And yet it has been accused of being  'Discrimination?'  
Why has discrimination become such a dirty word?  We discriminate every day when we decide to have peanut butter rather than jam for breakfast, when we choose what book to read, how to decorate our homes, what clothing to wear. We discriminate between the edible and the inedible, the attractive and the unattractive, between right and wrong.  One could not live without learning to discriminate.  We are discriminating all the time, and that is a good thing, a necessary thing.  It is not a bad thing. 
And yet, an accusation of 'Discrimination' is flung, and we  cringe and backtrack.
Ebola.  Luckily it is not spread as easily as cold and flu.  On the other hand, it is far more deadly than colds and flu, with a more than 50% mortality rate.  It is stupid to pretend that it is not worth taking seriously because the flu kills more people every year than Ebola does.
Yes, we should limit travel from affected countries, yes, we should quarantine those who return after treating Ebola patients, even when we know they are doing such a very good thing. We should discriminate;  we need to look after all of us.
 Do you need to know more about this disease?  It's easy enough to find information.  Here's one source -  a very cheap ebook I came across recently. 

Nurses and doctors who go to help treat Ebola patients are saints.  They work in horrendous conditions, they see people die, and they know that no matter how careful they are, other medical professionals, just as careful, have become ill and died.  And yet they volunteer to do this thing. 
Maybe it is because of the horrors they have faced, that some of them relax far too much the moment they arrive home.  But they are not out of danger until clear of symptoms for two weeks, with a third week to be quite certain.  I am surprised that such good people even think of objecting to reasonable quarantine precautions.


Monday, 20 October 2014

Another crime of the Catholic Church

I used to regard Ireland as a 'Western' country -  that is, reasonably civilised.  Oh, I knew they were backward in regard to the rights to abortion and even the right to use contraception.  But by and large, I thought the country reasonably civilised. 

I should have known better. Any country that is too heavily religious is likely to have areas where they are primitive and cruel - especially when it involves women's rights.  And Ireland is heavily Catholic.  Ever heard of the operation called Symphysiotomy?  Well, neither had I until it was on the Al Jazeera news yesterday.

Symphysiotomy - the breaking of the bones of the pelvis during childbirth in order to open it wider.  It's an alternative to a Caesarean.  The perceived disadvantage of a Caesarian is that it is risky to perform too many times - no more than twice, I was told in the 1980s.  And while sometimes they would allow a 'trial of labour' after a Caesarean, most doctors thought 'Once a Caesarean, always a Caesarean' the safer option.

BUT:  This would mean only a small family of maybe two or three children, and the Catholic Church thinks a woman should have as many children as possible, whether or not her health suffers. So in Ireland, especially in Catholic private hospitals, they sometimes did one of these vile operations instead - while the woman was in labour, and without permission -  or maybe they asked the husband,  though probably not mentioning the frequency of  side effects such as incontinence, chronic backache, and a limp.

About 1,500 symphysiotomies were carried out in Ireland between 1941 and 1987, and it is alleged that there were a few even later, one even in 2005.  Probably some women who had the operation never knew what was done to them.  

  The link below takes you to an article that explains further.
There is now an ongoing complaint to the UN - 
'SOS says the performance of symphysiotomy and pubiotomy constituted torture under Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture as severe pain and suffering, both physical and mental, were intentionally inflicted on women and girls, for reasons based on discrimination – but for the fact that they were pregnant, they would not have had these abusive surgeries perpetrated upon them.'
For more information, there are other sites:  
This one is to do with a law suit:
As part of the evidence, there was this argument for the 'defence.'

[a number of senior Catholic Irish obstetricians, including some Masters of the  National Maternity Hospital were] anti­ caesarean section.  The reason for that was apparently that a woman could only be expected to  undergo a relatively limited number of operations and it was assumed that she  would probably need to have quite a few of them because it was anticipated that  a woman was going to have a lot of children. If doctors were to perform  caesarean sections more or less as required, there would come a point at which  they would have to advise a woman that she should not have any more children and  that would lead to the consequence that she might be tempted to use artificial  contraception or she might even look for sterilisation or some other means of  preventing a pregnancy. This consideration or these thoughts were sufficient to  justify the doctors’ hostility to caesarean section. This led them to be favourable to symphysiotomy… [1]
 I'd convict the sanctimonious bastards on the evidence of that alone.  How dare they subject a woman to torture in order that she might bear more children for the church!

After effects:
Side-effects of Symphysiotomy
Permanent Backache
Difficulty in Walking
Extreme Pain
Bowel Problems
Psychological Effects

From this site -
For a personal account.  This woman did not know what had been done to her, look at this site:
Religion might be responsible for some good in the world, but it is also responsible for a great deal of bad.  This was just one of its crimes.



Friday, 17 October 2014

The fourth and final Shuki book

Announcing the release of the fourth and final book
of the Shuki Series:  'The Frost and the Sunshine'
Date released 17th October, 2014

The Shuki series started with 'Not a Man.'  This book won a place on the Editors' Desk on the Harper Collins Writers' Site, Authonomy, and had a favourable review by Harper Collins. 
‘Not a Man’ is an ambitious and insightful novel; it tells the story of Shuki, a young boy from the slums of Elbarada, a fictional area of Arabia, who is castrated against his will at the age of 10. Shuki’s journey is one of great trial but also incredible strength, courage, and determination, and as a hero, he is fantastic, evoking not only sympathy, but aspiration and reverence. I loved the fact that the operation which is supposed to prevent him from reaching manhood is the very thing that makes him strong and mature. The novel is written in a pared down manner; the narrative reminded me of the prose styling of Paulo Coelho: unaffected and matter-of-fact.  (this is the 1st paragraph only)

'Not a Man' was published in 2011, and now has an average rating of  4.31 on Goodreads,  with 30 five-star ratings. (5 stars is 'amazing' on Goodreads)  On, it has an average rating of 4.6 with 18 five-star reviews. (5 stars on Amazon is 'I loved it.')
It is currently rated 3rd on a list of 'Best Eunuch Books.'  (Goodreads) 
A couple of typical reviews (selected for their brevity)
I read this well into the wee small hours; I couldn't put it down. And what's more - the hallmark of something powerful and original - it has stayed with me. Shuki's story and the stories of the characters whose lives touch his are still clear in my mind a year later. That's quite a book!

Not a Man is a modern day masterpiece, and a future classic. Eloquently written, the author explores the controversial issues of sexual slavery, exploitation and abuse. Not a Man will bring tears to your eyes as you read about the very worst humanity has to offer, and the very best. Shuki is endearing, resilient, and intelligent. He's a character you can admire and cheer for.

 The book:
Shuki was a child of the slums, rejected by his family after he was taken for use as a ‘bed-boy’ by Hassanel Daoud, rich and powerful. He stayed with Hassanel rather than try and earn his own living by beggary or thievery. He would have run, though, if he’d known that he was to be castrated so that he would ‘stay beautiful.’ And after that, there was no point in running.

‘Not a Man’ is the story of Shuki’s rise from his lowly position to a man respected, an Oxford Graduate, and husband to four women whom he found starving.

 ‘The King’s Favourite’ is the story of his years with King Feroz. He rose to a position where he was able to influence the destiny of a nation.

‘To Love and To Protect’ is third in the Shuki series. Shuki Bolkiah has become an important person. His advice is valued by influential people in governments, not just that of King Feroz, but in other countries of Arabia. His wives would never be wives in anything but name, but there was Elei Daoud, who was his love. Elei wrote a book, with Shuki’s help. It was called ‘Thinking Jihad.’ Because of that book, Elei was shot dead.

 Shuki had made a vow early in his life, that he should never again leave it too late to run. It became apparent that even though he was no longer young, he was still in danger from the desires of men. But in a new place, where no-one knows him, he expects to leave that behind him. He moves his family to Australia, and this is where 'The Frost and the Sunshine' is set.


Shuki has a good life - his new home, his wives and his stepchildren, and becoming more important to him every day, young Zahu. It is hard to believe that Zahu could possibly want to stay with him when he is so much older. Surely one day, he will realise that a young woman has to suit him better than a middle-aged man.
And then Meriam comes into their lives - Meriam, daughter of Shuki's sister. Meriam, who looks so much like a youthful Shuki. She fascinates Zahu; she confuses him, and she tempts him. But she is not Shuki.
Meriam's baby is born when the frost lies heavy on the ground. But then the first rays of the sun come slanting over, and the countryside lights up. It is a promise - that bitter times might come, but one day, the sun will shine again.
'The Frost and the Sunshine' is available on most online sellers, as an ebook or as a paperback.



Thursday, 2 October 2014

So what books do you like to read?

What books do I like to read?  A friend asked me this yesterday.  It's a good question.  Up until a few years ago, I would have given the automatic answer of  'thrillers,' but lately, I find I tend to become bored quite quickly and look for something more.  I know I like a book whose main character I can identify with, and whom I like. I have little tolerance for dull books, even less for 'meaningful' (usually pretentious tripe)  and I don't bother with romance or anything else where the hero or heroine behaves foolishly.  Misery Lit, I detest, (memoirs usually featuring a dreadful childhood)   And biographies - usually boring.  Books that win literary awards - also usually boring.

And yet with the exception of Mis Lit, I have enjoyed individual books of every kind.  I recently read a biography, for instance, but it was Tony Windsor's biography.  Tony Windsor has played a vital part in Australia's politics  and is the single politician that I would happily call honest.  (Retired now, which is a loss for the nation, though, no doubt, a gain for his family.)

And that book was very interesting.

 These days, I like most to re-read my old friends from my own library.  So many old friends - series, often - the Poldark books, The Hornblower books - Horatio Hornblower is such a well-drawn character,  the Whiteoaks of Jalna.  So many others. 

My very first favourite book would have to be Enid Blyton's 'The Faraway Tree.' I remember my mother reading it to me, so I must have been quite small.  And later, I found it again, and again I thought it so special - magical.

Some books do have magic. The Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell.  I wish I still had those original copies - there was a battered blue one, hardcover, and it had long lost its dustcover - 'Silver Brumby's Daughter,' I think.

I have since purchased new copies, just for sentiment, though I can still enjoy a book written for children.  There is no need to deny enjoyment just because one is all grown up now.

            Books were far less plentiful when I was a child.  I read everything I could lay my hands on then, though I remember my mother being a little horrified with one particular one - 'it has a lot of sex,' she said. I scarcely noticed - I was reading it for its story -  something about a racing car driver and his life, the dangers and the romances. 

Whatever my mother read, I read as well -  Neville Shute,  Arthur Hailey, James Michener,  the Boney books by Arthur Upfield. Many of those I have since added to my own permanent collection.

 And then in school we had to read books.  How poor must the choices have been, and how poor the teaching!  For me, reading was like breathing, but the books we were set...  The best were mediocre, the worst atrocious. It has left me with a lasting distaste for any book labelled a 'classic.' The worst of all was one by James Joyce - 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.'  What conceit he must have had to think that anyone would be interested in such things as his liking for masturbation!  I remember being surprised when the teacher explained that girls also masturbated. At that age, I scarcely knew what it meant.  Too advanced for us?  No, I would say far too sordid for us.  It started, as I recall, 'When you wet the bed, first it is warm and then it is cold.'  How not profound!

It was about that age, early teens, that I started reading Ian Fleming's James Bond books. That is what gave me my sex education - that and an encyclopedia, though when I first looked up 'erection' it only spoke of things such as putting up a building.

Thrillers, all sorts. I liked them in first person, and I liked plenty of action.  By the time I was working and earning money, there were certain authors whose new books I would always snap up.  Desmond Bagley, Gavin Lyle, Alistair MacLean.  Some of the books I have in my collection are the same ones I bought when I was in my early twenties.

At that same age, I began reading some very deep books that I have not looked at for many years -  feminism, sociology, psychology, War and Peace.  Economics, even, though that was a struggle even then.

I read a lot of Science Fiction around then as well, even some Dennis Wheatley books - horror.


I was seldom interested in romances, though I very much enjoyed the light romances of Georgette Heyer.  I loved the humour.

And then, much later, after a failed love affair, I had a sudden and short-lived interest in period romances - 'bodice-rippers,'  though the only ones I still have are by an especially good author in that genre - Kathleen Woodiwiss.

 I tried Mills and Boon once, a book by the most famous author and almost the creator of the genre - and oddly I cannot remember her name, or even whether she is still alive. I think she might be, as her death would be news.  She was supposed to complete something like a book a week.  But the book I read was appallingly bad, and I was quite sure that the hero was blonde in one chapter, and dark-haired in the next,  though I never could be bothered trying to re-read and find out for sure.

Anyway, I never tried Mills and Boon again.  The only such light romances I have read since are those written by friends.  My chief objection to those is that the heroine is always depicted as intelligent, but yet does the most stupid things.  Usually, the plot relies on her doing stupid things.

But there are always exceptions, and one exception are the Angelique books. The heroine still acts foolishly on occasion, and yet she is depicted as capable and intelligent. Like most of my old favourites, they are old books, most published in the 1960s. But there are real stories here, real adventures, and the historical background, as far as I can tell, is accurate.  There had to have been some first class research to produce these books, so maybe calling them mere romances is doing them an injustice.

When my boys were in their teens, one read a lot of Fantasy, the saga type, all long books, always in series, usually of at least seven books, and often more. I caught the Fantasy bug from him, I still have his old books, and they are also good for re-reading. 

 But now.  What new books do I like now?  What books would I buy if I saw them new in a bookshop? 

Books cost a lot in Australia, a new book around $35 to $40. It's why I seldom buy new books.  There was one yesterday, though - a new Wilbur Smith. I like Wilbur Smith, though his books vary - some close to genius, others far too macho.  This one is called 'Desert God.'  All the same, if it had not been on special, ($20)  I would have left it there. I would have done as I usually do, wait until I came across it in a second-hand store or maybe a book-swap place.

And there was a surprise for me not long ago.  A book on one of those bargain baskets you sometimes see at a newsagency - $3.47, I think, something like that.  Not a genre I have bothered with in the past, but it sounded intriguing  -  fantasy/romance/erotica, I suppose one could call it. 
'Slave to Sensation' by Nalini Singh.
In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of 'rehabilitation' - the complete psychic erasure of her personality . . .

I am often lured to books that speak of mind powers.

And that book, I enjoyed so much that I bought a dozen more of the series at full price, before I became bored with them.  There was an intriguing developing background story, but the books became repetitive, each one with a great deal of erotica writing within, that I don't particularly mind, but it was beginning to slow the actual story down too much. I'll probably never know when the ruling Psy finally get overthrown. They gave me a great deal of enjoyment all the same, and I have kept them, and will, no doubt, one day, read them again.  Maybe I'll even buy the final few.

For good books are like that.  They can be brought out, dusted off, and you can renew an old friendship.

So what books do I like?  Maybe I just like books.  There is no need to limit oneself to 'liking' only one genre.

It is a bugbear of mine, this modern idea that first, a book has to fit within a certain genre, and second, that genre then has rules that you are supposed to follow.  How utterly boring, and how it must dampen creativity. A book should take you where the story goes. It should not have an artificially imposed  'structure,' it should not have 'rules' of the genre, it should be just a story.  The argument that one has to fit a book into a genre to make it easy for a bookseller to arrange his shelves?  How can a reader discover books he didn't know he liked unless the divisions are broad - maybe fiction, non-fiction, fantasy and children's.  They are all the divisions a bookshop needs.

Here are some suggestions of good books that you, the patient reader of this post, might like to check out.  My rules are that they must be from my own collection, no two books of the same genre, and no book that I have already mentioned.

'Tim' by Colleen McCullough.  Genre?  Women's fiction, maybe?
'Tomorrow, When the War Began' by John Marsden.  YA.  7 in the series.
'Clan of the Cave Bear'  by Jean M. Auel.  Genre?  I don't think it fits into any genre.  6 in the series, though the last few were not nearly as good as the first two.
'Simon's Choice' by Charlotte Castle.  A thought provoking book.  Again, it doesn't really fit into a genre.
'The Crystal Cave' by Mary Stewart. The story of Merlin, 4 in the series.
'The Sunbird' by Wilbur Smith.  Action.
'Riders' by Jilly Cooper.  'a multi-stranded love story'  it says in the blurb,  but I liked the story of the horses as much as the stories of the riders.
'The Power of One' by Bryce Courtney.
'Bonecrack' by Dick Francis.  There are numerous books by Dick Francis, a few not so great, but most of them, I have read again and again.  Thrillers.
'The Misery of Christianity' by Joachin Kahl,  probably very difficult to get these days.  Non-fiction.
'Phantom'  by Terry Goodkind,  fantasy, a series of around a dozen.
'The Persian Boy' by Mary Renault,  the story of Alexander the Great as told by his eunuch slave.
'The Exiles'  by William Stuart Long, (later revealed as Vivian Stuart.)  Australia's history, fictionalised and developing into almost a family saga. At least a dozen in the series.
'The Population Explosion' by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich. First published in 1968 when the world population was 3.5 billion. It was said to have been 'discredited' though I forget the reasons.  But now our population is 7 billion, a doubling in less than fifty years.  So many problems we are having now - war, poverty, refugees, the destruction of nature reserves and the extinction of animal species, the pollution of our atmosphere -  and the root cause of  every one of those problems is that there are too many people.

I've digressed,  but I think I've reached the end of my list anyway. So many good books, so many old friends.

And there are my own books.  Well, naturally, I like them. Two more will shortly be released - 'The Frost and the Sunshine',  the fourth and final of the Shuki Series,  and 'Lionel's Wedding,' a Penwinnard Story.

The Penwinnard Stores are not a series as such,  more of a series of stories, though they are all set at Penwinnard Boys' Home (fictional)  and they feature a lot of the same characters. They are fine for reading as standalone stories. 

'The Frost and the Sunshine' could also be read as a standalone. I have moved Shuki to Australia, an area I like very much. This book is interesting in that I range forward for 30 years or so, and what I have found rather eerie, is that too many of the forecast events are coming true.  Read it and see.  It is already available as an ebook, but only, so far, on Smashwords.

And if you have read to here, you deserve a reward. 
To get 'The Frost and the Sunshine' free,  use the  Coupon Code: VG83C,  
but only until October 27, 2014.