The Beckoning by Paul Collins

The fear in the room was palpable. There were two of them. Simon Reeves, former rugby giant for Melbourne Storm, a beefy full forward with a ruddy complexion and faintly aggressive nature, and Milton Bush, lifelong friend of Simon’s, small, ferret-faced, with curly hair that earned him the nickname of Poodle at school, and who shared with Simon an addiction to heroin.

They had joined the Cultural Development Group one year ago to this day. They were an unlikely pair to join a sect, and even more unlikely was the fact that they were in the process of riffling Brother Desmond’s files.

The fear in the room was palpable. There were two of them. Simon Reeves, former rugby giant for Melbourne Storm, a beefy full forward with a ruddy complexion and faintly aggressive nature, and Milton Bush, lifelong friend of Simon’s, small, ferret-faced, with curly hair that earned him the nickname of Poodle at school, and who shared with Simon an addiction to heroin.

They had joined the Cultural Development Group one year ago to this day. They were an unlikely pair to join a sect, and even more unlikely was the fact that they were in the process of riffling Brother Desmond’s files.

Matt Brannigan, his wife Helen and their daughter Briony are on the move again. Briony has strong unbridled psychic abilities that defy description and result in their almost transient lifestyle. This time, they’ve decided to go to Warrnambool, for no good reason any of them can identify. Almost immediately, Helen dies, in circumstances that might be natural but probably are not. The resulting grief drives a wedge between Matt and Briony and almost before he’s aware of it, she’s joined the Cultural Development Group. Brother Desmond, cult leader is both creepy and charismatic and his many followers will protect him at all costs. Far from being a coincidence, it seems that Briony’s attraction to the cult is part of Brother Desmond’s plan. She has power he needs and nothing, not even the most determined father, is going to get in his way. A horror novel set in regional Victoria, ‘The Beckoning’ blurs the lines between living and dead, and brings nightmares to full, terrifying life.

Strap yourself in and take a ride on the very dark side, where death is only a gateway and the gate is not quite latched. This is a world where cultists prey on the lonely and those suffering, offering sanctuary without revealing the costs. Knowledge is power and Brother Desmond harvests knowledge from those who offer it as well as those who try to withhold it. ‘The Beckoning’ is a thrilling novel, best read in daylight. Matt Brannigan is forced to examine his beliefs and understanding as he takes on a foe able to manipulate minds, conjure lethal weather conditions and warp reality in his quest to cross the threshold of hell. He is assisted by Helen’s friend Clarissa, who has insights he will need if they are going to be able to best the maniacal Brother Desmond.


The Beckoning cover art







The Beckoning, Paul Collins Damnation Books 2013 Digital ISBN: 9781629290331

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

Kangaroo Clues, by Margot Finke

Reviewed by Molly Martin

Children’s EBook Review: Kangaroo Clues, by Margot Finke
Reviewed by Molly Martin

Entertaining new ebook title.


It must have been Dreamtime spirit-man who sewed the pouch in kangaroo. Near a shady billabong Old Man Kanga and his friends, Marsupial mouse, Emu, Goanna, Platypus, Kookaburra, frill neck lizard, Cockatoo and Echidna all heard the dogs coming. With leaps and bound Old Man Kanga made it to the water just in time. The dingoes were right behind. Into the water went Platypus and Old Man Kanga while Kookaburra laughed and Goanna hid. Galas screamed while Koalas encouraged Kanga on.

Kangaroo Clues is a marvellous book told in rhyme, created by talented writer Margo Finke and filled with delightful illustrations from Mustafa Delioglu. For readers living outside of Australia the tale introduces children to animals and words not heard in every day conversation. For children living in Australia the words may not be new, but the story will offer as much appeal. Delioglu’s drawings are vivid, well executed and large enough for children to understand.

Full page art work sets off the narrative to perfection. Kangaroo Clues covers 31 pages of cheery rhyme and exciting illustrations sure to please the target audience of beginning readers. Vocabulary is a bit advanced for the youngest readers, however even very young children will be held captivated by the tale as they navigate the buttons turning the pages while Mum or Dad, or older sibling read the words to them.

A read-to book for the 3-5 set, read-with some help for the 6 and 7s, and read mostly alone for the 8 and 9s. Wonderful book for the home or classroom library. Teachers will find the work a good addition to the ‘multi culture’ unit. Kangaroo Clues is a book sure to be reached for often for both pleasure time reading and for class work.

Enjoyed the read. Kangaroo Clues is a book I would use in my own Kindergarten-First grade classroom.

Happy to recommend.

Kangaroo Clues, by Margot Finke, illustrated by Mustafa Delioglu
Writers Exchange Epublishing, 2004

Molly Martin is a classroom teacher of over 20 years’ experience.

Cry the Night, by Glenn Miller

Reviewed by Molly Martin

A little boy punished by being put into a sack and suspended from a beam in a cellar at the hands of an unbalanced mother is later a youngster made to stand in a darkened cellar for hours on end.

The body of ten-year-old girl, an extended, fruitless search, and a missing six-year-old set in motion a twenty-year odyssey. The town of Traviston, Australia is forever changed in 1981 with the murder of Sarah Nielson and the disappearance of her little sister Rebecca. The only thing left behind were Rebecca’s panties and her dress. Residents who once trusted their neighbours now became suspicious of those living nearby. Children were kept safe at home behind closed doors, or in some cases the family packed and moved to get away from the horror.

On a pleasant day many years after the brutal murder; teenager Sally Smith is happy to accept a ride from an elderly man who has known her family for years. For Sally her ride with a trusted old friend turns into a nightmare from which escape seems impossible. When sixteen-year-old Kirsty and her five-year-old friend Sam set out for a walk on the cattle property where Kirsty is spending her school holiday with the family of her mother’s close friend she knows nothing of the hidden dangers lurking not so far away. A secret place, youngsters filled with a sense of adventure, and a cave filled with bodies all are part of this tale of child abuse, horror and alarm.

Cry the Night is a psychological thriller, set in the austere Australian wilderness, where young bushwalkers are pitted at night against the relentless unadulterated evil stalking them across remarkably arduous terrain.

Twenty years of secrets buried in the hidden backcountry wilds of Australia lie shielded by a lunatic. At an inaccessible creek on the brim of the wilderness where the body of a murdered ten-year-old girl is discovered, the narrative begins. The recital next moves to the present, with four young men and one teenage girl determining they will investigate the craggy valleys, ridges and caverns near where they are staying on a large cattle property. The bushwalkers unintentionally intrude upon the perilous mystery kept secret for more than two decades when they enter the region which a psychopath believes to be his. A demented serial killed living in a world filled with sexual darkness and hallucination will confront the young people who find their day walk becoming a fight for survival during which they will confront their worst fears. The evil stalking them will bring the youngsters faced to face with a terror beyond their wildest imagination.

Well fleshed, potent characters each have their own particular disposition. Twists and turns keep the reading guessing in this tale of a monster created by the derangement of a parent. Specific details of the murderer’s life are set down in fantasy, dreams, memories and loathsome actions by an almost sixty year old man who might be any one of the several fellows fitting that description who live in the area.

Not for the faint of heart, nor for a dark and stormy night when you are home alone.

Cry the Night, by Glenn Miller
Sunny Side Up Publishing, available in ebook or paperback formats.

This review contributed by Molly Martin.

Captain Angus, the Lighthouse Ghost , by Wendy Laing

Reviewed by Molly Martin

Writer Wendy Laing has taken an actual lighthouse where she has been a guest at the lighthouse keeper’s cottage – The Cape Otway in Victoria, Australia – as the starting point for her nicely wrought tale, and she has woven an entertaining book of eight chapters for early readers. Through the magic of a time tunnel, children Aaron and Gracie Brandon are taken to a long ago time where they meet a marvelous old Scottish sea captain’s ghost. The pair had been less than enthralled while vacationing with their parents to discover the old lighthouse where they are staying has no video games or anything else interesting for them to do. And, then they meet Captain Angus! When they do everything changes. Cap’n Angus takes the pair on virtual reality trips sailing on masted ships, with opportunity for meeting one of their ancestors along with watching a sea rescue and other adventures.

Wendy Laing has done it again! This talented writer continues to produce excellently written, well researched materials sure to be used in the classroom and for home reading alike. Captain Angus, the Lighthouse Ghost is an inviting venture for children sure to keep youngsters entertained as they travel through the interactive links allowing them to make a voyage through the internet. Writer Laing really understands how to make history come alive for young readers. Children will make stops at sites where they can tour old ships, discover lighthouses and learn a little about them in the process. Young readers are sure to enjoy following the links and learning a little of history without their realizing they are doing so.Captain Angus, the Light House Ghost is a delightful guide children are sure to like. The Links to sites will pique their curiosity.

Chapter titles include: Cap’n Angus, Spirits and Ghosts, Land Ahoy!, Rescue!, The Tower, Ship Ahoy!, Aurora’s Spirit, A Light in the Future and The Beacon of Hope. Captain Angus, the Light House Ghost is a read-to book for the younger set. As such, it provides a marvelous opportunity for quality parent-child time as they sit together at the computer reading and travelling the links to various sites. Older children will enjoy reading and manipulating the work themselves.

The only thing I find lacking from a teacher standpoint, and in no way detracts from the delightful tale itself: I like to see a target audience noted and the word/vocabulary list at the end of the books I use in the classroom when possible. These just make it easier for teachers, and parent home teachers too to quickly decide if this book will fit into our particular teaching need at the moment.

Captain Angus, The Lighthouse Ghost, by Wendy Laing
Writer’s Exchange Epublishing, 2003

Ocean Fairies, by Wendy Peterson

Reviewed by Molly Martin

Jesse is sitting on a sand dune imagining merfolk and waiting for the ocean fairies who live in nests in the foreshore. No one but Jesse knows about the little fairy penguins. Soon Roger the leader of the fairy penguins and his friends appear. These are not just any old fairy penguins; these penguins can speak every language on earth and when they are near Jesse can understand the language of birds and others. The penguins tell Jesse of a treasure ship with merfolk living in it not far out in the ocean. They help her travel out to the ship by ‘penguin power.’ When Vegemite accidentally stabs Jesse’s dingy with a dagger he finds in the ship the leader of the merfolk comes to help Jesse to shore. The Selkie is the ruler of the sea; he controls storms and waves. The Selkie promises Jesse a wish. Jesse is completely under his spell, and yearns to see the beautiful creature again.

Jesse buys a yacht with a coin Coral found on the treasure ship and now she and her penguin friends can travel out on the sea whenever they like.

Jesse meets the Selkie, a beautiful sea princess, Raindown the seal leader and Manomam, a seal who is caught in a nylon fishing line. She and the fairy penguins travel in a bubble to the undersea city, go to the island where the merfolk shed their tails and listen to wind harps in the trees. While on the island Jesse learns something special about the Selkie and the Sea Wizard.

Australian writer Peterson has crafted an especially charming tale of magic, love and kindness in her book Ocean Fairies. Amply composed characters move against a lavishly executed tapestry of intonation, seascape, and settings in this delightful narrative of a solitary young girl and her endeavor to overcome misfortune in her life. The characters are appealing and well-developed, especially the diversified dispositions of the penguin fairies. Coral likes to sit in Jesse’s lap, Vegemite pines for tuna sandwiches. Timothy is helpful. Roger is the shrewd, sensible leader. Zestful action, first class, energetic dialogue, and appealing scenarios are all included in this wonderfully directed tale.

Peterson deftly captures the imagination of the reader from the opening lines as we meet Jesse sitting in the dunes and holds interest tight through this gripping tale to the last paragraph as Rujarn, the merfolk, fairy penguins and Jessee all join in dance. With a keen eye for detail Peterson has captured the essence of the sea and those who may live in it.

With it’s beautiful cover and lovely inner illustrations, splendid storyline and easy reading style Ocean Fairies is a special delight sure to bring pleasure to youngsters in the target audience. This is a charming book for classroom use, free reading time, the home library or for an older sister to read to younger sibling.

US kids will find the small ‘Australian’ differences of language to be particularly charming I believe.

Enchanting read. I found each of the little fairy penguins especially appealing. Happy to recommend.

Ocean Fairies, by Wendy Peterson
Twilight Times