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“The Sides of Heaven” by Hazel Barker reviewed by Beverley Asmus

INSIGHTFUL JOURNEY OF SELF DISCOVERY

Beautifully written in her trademark, intimate style, Hazel Barker takes the reader inside the cloistered world of those who have dedicated their lives to God. However, as interesting as this background may be for some readers, for me it was her personal struggles towards self-discovery that enthralled me the most.
The prequel to this part of Barker’s memoir, “Heaven Tempers the Wind”, shed light on what it was to be a child of war during the occupation of Burma. While everything familiar was breaking down around her once sheltered life, Barker drew strength on her unwavering faith in God for her survival, always believing in a better future to come.
Unfortunately, that better life did not arrive with the end of war. Family battles, specifically with a brutal father, had to be fought and more sibling lives lost. Although she is able to complete her education, finding friendship and possible romance, Barker feels called to offer her services to the Church. In many ways this is where her biggest life challenges begin, as important issues are raised about spirituality versus religiosity.
Barker’s honesty makes this compelling reading and leaves us wanting to read more about her incredible life journey

The Sides of Heaven is the sequel to Heaven Tempers the Wind: Story of a War Child, which was shortlisted in the Australia and New Zealand-wide CALEB Competition of 2017.

 

 

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Last Caravan to Carmelsara by Jack Garrety

Adventure, magic and a slow burn romance between two people who can’t stand each other.
The Torian, head of the Commonwealth, is dying and his replacement has not yet been found.

Neah, a warrior princess and former slave, receives a prophecy that the new Torian will be one of 800 refugees in a caravan fleeing the invading Shaelene army. Shayla, a dark sorceress and Queen of the Shaelene, is equally determined to find and kill the new Torian before he, or she, can be anointed.

Caleb, a disgraced Commander in the Commonwealth army, has been charged with protecting the caravan. Provided with only seven soldiers and a duplicitous wizard to help him he is given little chance.

Trapped within the forced intimacy of the caravan Caleb and Neah must try and thrust aside their bitter hostilities in order to protect the new Torian from the marauding Shaelene, Shayla’s assassins and a host of mythical, vicious creatures that stand between them and the safety of Carmelsara. In doing so they will have to leave the relative safety of their natural distrust and together weave something new and untried because in a world overtaken by greed only love has the power to save it. If they fail the whole world will fall into decades of darkness.

Review of Last Caravan to Carmelsara by Hazel Barker
This is a story of courage and endurance. The terse and potent prose grabs readers and compel them to keep turning the page. Vivid descriptions enhance the story and give a clear sense of time and place.
The story unfolds itself without rushing or dragging and each scene adds to the story. I particularly enjoyed the prison scene at the beginning of the book and the battle scenes.
The main characters have distinct voices, flaws and virtues with clear goals that influence the plot. The secondary characters are also well-rounded. My favourite character is Caleb. I empathise with him and admire his fighting prowess and loyalty to his men.
The book was an enjoyable read, although I found it difficult to relate with Neah until much later in the story.

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Talk at Moreton Bay View Club

Here are some photos taken at the Redlands Sporting Club, during my talk to members of the Moreton Bay View Club in March 2018.

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Vice President Diana Wilson and I

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The beautiful banner of the Club

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Author Talk 23rd Feb 2018

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My grateful thanks to Maria from the Victoria Point Library, my MC,  Jane and all the staff from the Victoria Point library for taking such lovely photos and promoting my Author Talk.

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Book Launch of ‘The Sides of Heaven’

IMG_3252IMG_324720180223 Hazel Barker A3 poster (A2820473) (1)IMG_3253

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Christian Writers Down Under — hazelmbarker

Meet our Members Today’s interview is with Hazel Barker Question 1: Tell us three things about who you are and where you come from. 1. I was born in Burma of an Iranian Muslim father and an English Catholic mother, and have lived in Australia for 50 years. 2. I’ve always loved reading – especially […]

via Christian Writers Down Under — hazelmbarker

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Christian Writers Down Under

Meet our Members 

Today’s interview is with Hazel Barker

Question 1: Tell us three things about who you are and where you come from.
1. I was born in Burma of an Iranian Muslim father and an English Catholic mother, and have lived in Australia for 50 years.
2. I’ve always loved reading – especially the classics.
3. As a teenager, I dreamed of freedom, travel and love.
Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc). What do you write and why?
. I write memoirs and historical novels, and wanted to be a writer from an early age, after reading Little Women. But my writing journey only commenced in 2013, when my short story, ‘Hunger’ was selected for publication in the Redlitzer Anthology.
. 2016 saw the publication of my memoir, Heaven Tempers the Wind: Story of a War Child, Armour Books, and my debut novel, Chocolate Soldier. The Story of a Conchie, Rhiza Books.
. Part 2 of my memoirs, The Sides of Heaven, Armour Books, was released in February this year. I’m now working on Part 3, Count Your Blessings.
. My historical novel, The Soprano is in the pipeline.
Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?
. My memoirs have mainly attracted female readers, but my novel, Chocolate Soldier. The Story of a Conchie is popular with both sexes. This is probably because of the war theme and romantic scenes, but particularly due to the message of PEACE.
. I’d love all those who wish to give glory to the Lord by witnessing his message and forgiveness, to read my books.
Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
. My greatest challenge is the lack of time. I usually spend my mornings writing, but I can’t hold back the clock, and my age is against me. I ask myself, ‘Will I be able to complete Part 3 of my memoirs and finish my novel? How long will the Lord give me the health and strength to continue writing?
. My husband Colin helps me the most. He encourages me and takes me to writers’ meetings, conferences and workshops. He’s most understanding and considerate. God Bless him!
Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?
. My favourite writing craft book is K.M. Weiland’s, Structuring Your Novel.
. It was recommended to me by Iola Goulton when she did a sample edit of my work. It helps keep my writing on track. Thanks Iola.
Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?
If I were to give a shout for a CWD writer, it would be Paula Vince. I met Paula when I first joined Omega Writers at an Omega Conference in Brisbane, and was struck by her kind and gentle ways. I enjoyed the fellowship, the encouragement and the workshops. I love her books on Divine Healing. Her romantic suspense novels. I enjoyed reading her books, particularly Picking up the Pieces and The Risky Way home.
Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?
. My writing goals for this year are:
. to polish Count Your Blessings and to revise my historical novel, The Soprano.
Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
. My faith and my writing go hand-in-hand. My faith is like a candle that lights up my work. My faith rules my life, and hopefully, my writing will strengthen my readers’ faith, hope and trust in the Lord. My faith and prayers too, may lead the despairing to hope, the sinner not to despair of the Lord’s mercy and the prodigal to return to the Fold.

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