Category Archives: Book Reviews

Mark of the Leopard by Kathy Stewart, Authors’ Ally, 2015

Mark of the Leopard by Kathy Stewart, Authors’ Ally, 2015

Author’s Blurb

From the author of Chameleon comes this historical fiction novel, Mark of the Leopard, the second in the African history series, a story of romance, mystery, danger and betrayal set against a backdrop of wild lands and raging seas.

In 1703 Sabrina Barrington and her children are shipwrecked and presumed drowned off the Cape of Good Hope, the site of the present-day city of Cape Town. Fourteen years later, an investigator tells Sabrina’s brother, Lucien Castle, that one of his sister’s children has been seen on the island of Madagascar, off Africa’s east coast. It is imperative to return the youngster to England before his twenty-fifth birthday, otherwise his grandfather, the corrupt and detested Robert Barrington, will usurp his rightful inheritance. Castle is the only one who can confirm the young man is not an impostor. In order to do this he must leave the comfort of Amsterdam in Holland and embark on a journey into the unknown.

Will Castle be able to overcome his demons and find his nephew in time? Or will he succumb to the perils that beset his epic expedition every step of the way?

In a voyage that takes them from the untamed island of Madagascar to the storm-tossed Dutch outpost at the Cape of Good Hope, Castle and his companion must face innumerable dangers and battle not only rival investigators but also each other.

Review by Hazel Barker

Mark of the Leopard by Kathy Stewart is a fast-moving story that is difficult to put down. It is a novel rich in history and laden with suspense. The author has clearly done extensive research and woven it seamlessly into the novel. She uses her skills as an historian to write a gripping yarn.

The characters, and in particular, Lucien Castle, who goes in search of his nephew, Tom Barrington, spring from the page. A sense of guilt regarding his wife and children, stirs Lucien to help his sister’s son. He fears the sea and faces his fear time and time again, in order to save the boy.

Kathy Stewart is a versatile writer and is the author of children’s books as well as several books of non-fiction.

Mark of the Leopard is her second novel. Her debut novel, Chameleon was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award in 2010.



Filed under Auhor, Australian author, Australian literature, author, Book Reviews, Books, Hazel Barker, Hazel Barker author, Uncategorized

Pavlovas to Popcorn by Ruth Frost

Publisher: Community Books, Darling Heights, Qld.

Review by Hazel Barker
Ruth Frost’s Pavlovas to Popcorn made me feel I had accompanied her on the voyage from Sydney to San Francisco in 1946. Her simple colloquial style of writing drew me within her circle of friends, embarrassing me whenever she defied authority, and admiring her for her sense of humour and kind heartedness.

Ruth’s voice rings clear and true as she tells the story of her voyage on the SS David C. Shanks as a war bride.

Her early life and her amnesia are related in a series of flashbacks, leaving the reader with a sense of bewilderment and mystery. It is not until much later that one discovers the cause of her loss of memory.

The second part of Ruth’s book moves across the United States from San Francisco to South Dakota and on to Dumon, New Jersey, relating the hardships and happiness experienced by Ruth and Bill in their early married years, told in her own humorous style.

Ruth writes lightly of her ‘monthly’ at the age of 13 when she thought she was ‘bleeding to death’, and the time she started smoking when she had been ‘covered in glass splinters’ while the ambulance attendants made her ‘sit in the gutter’ and picked them out.

Her anecdote of Margaret, the German war bride, is harrowing. Margaret had been reported to the Gestapo for supposedly plotting some conspiracy. The results were devastating.

Although a professional edit would have improved the book, Ruth Frost’s Pavlovas to Popcorn, with its recurring theme of courage and perseverance, is definitely an interesting read.


Filed under Book Reviews

Captive in Iran by Maryam Rostampour & Marziyeh Amirizadeh
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Publisher’s Summary

Embark on a chilling journey inside one of the world’s darkest and most dangerous places: Evin, the notorious Tehran prison. Here, prisoners are routinely tortured, abused, and violated. Executions are frequent and sudden. But for two women imprisoned for their Christian faith-Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh-this hell on earth was a place of unlikely grace as they reflected God’s love and compassion to their fellow prisoners and guards. Against all odds, Evin would become the only church many of them had ever known.

In Captive in Iran, Maryam and Marziyeh recount their 259 days in Evin. It’s an amazing story of unyielding faith-when denying God would have meant freedom. Of incredible support from strangers around the world who fought for the women’s release. And of bringing God’s light into one of the world’s darkest places-giving hope to those who had lost everything, and showing love to those in despair.

Review by Hazel Barker

The book takes readers on a journey into an Iranian prison, giving a haunting description of the horrors and humiliations experienced by women of all ages. Captive in Iran focuses on the personal sufferings of each inmate and shows how the word of God touches them.

What struck me was the writers’ steadfast refusal to hate their persecutors, and the love and kindness they showed to their fellow sufferers. Their rejection of persuasions to compromise their Christian beliefs and their patient proselyting among the prisoners and even their captors is much to be commended.

The idea that many of the inmates were ready and willing to convert to Christianity but held back for fear of torture and death was an eye-opener.

Captive in Iran is a candid account of life in a country where one is not encouraged to speak to God heart-to-heart in one’s own language, where women are beaten and abused by their husbands, and where blood is spilled in the name of God if one converts to Christianity or if one induces another to convert.

The book is a factual account of events and is certainly not an entertaining one. Towards the end, I even found the number of characters and their foreign-sounding names rather confusing.

I recommend Captive in Iran to all those who desire to know something about the treatment of Christians in countries like Iran, and anyone who is enthused with missionary fervour for the conversion of souls to Christ.


October 21, 2013 · 8:39 pm