I love, love, love historical yarns that tell a really great story - especially ones with a distinct Western Australian focus. 'The Apple Core Wars' is a thought-provoking, occasionally funny and always mesmerising true story of the terrible war experiences of Charles Parkin and his sidekick Jacky Bellamy. The author, Linda J Bettenay masterfully contrasts the mateship of prisoners trying to survive as POWs (which includes starvation, a shipwreck, horrific abuse and an atomic bomb), with their early lives full of petty squabbles and family bonding. This is a real page-turner. It's a very bittersweet story.
Erica Allman, Mandurah Probus January 2018

I recently listened to 'Wishes For Starlight; by Linda J Bettenay' as an audiobook. I have been listening to talking stories for 8 years and have to say I have heard many a good story but this story is the only one that has compelled me to buy as an actual book. It was outstanding. I want to encourage as many people as I can to read it. Well done to the author. This is an outstanding story and ranks as one of the best I have ever read.
Kathryn Djula, Boulder December 2017

I have just finished 'The Apple Core Wars' and what a great read it was. A stunning and evocative read about two soldiers/POWs and the development of their mateship. I can only imagine how awful their lives were and thank you Linda, for telling this tale with such sensitivity and respect. You managed to bring out the horror of this time without getting bogged down in the gory details.
I laughed and cried with them - your characters were so very real. It was very difficult to put down and I can’t wait for your next offering. Go Linda!
Tom Partridge, Wanneroo December 2017

My son recently gave me Linda J Bettenay's latest book "The Apple Core Wars" as a birthday present. What a fabulous story and Yes - I would have to say this is Linda's finest book.
I found myself really caught up in the action right from the first page. It was a very interesting and informative read about our early pioneers, family difficulties, wartime and the trials of being a POW. I particularly liked the childhood reminiscences. It reminded me of my own early life on an apple orchard in Donnybrook.
The book held me in suspense until the last page - and what an ending! I can only hope this author keeps writing more powerful books.
Thanks Linda
Wendy Del Pita, Bullsbrook, December 2017

Thank you so much, Linda for coming along to our First Wave View Club meeting on Monday night and as you know I bought all three audiobooks. Firstly, I absolutely loved your talk. You were so very passionate - everyone in the room was enraptured by your tales.
This week I have been listening to 'Secrets Mothers Keep' in my car. I am currently invigilating exams in Murdoch for 2 weeks, and the once patience-testing trip from Wanneroo on the freeway has now become an enjoyable time spent listening to this wonderfully narrated story. I find myself sitting in the car park until the chapter has ended and having to force myself not to start the next one. It is certainly a great yarn and I am so happy that I know the backstory.
So thanks again. I enjoyed meeting both you, and Mike, and thanks for a most enjoyable, and entertaining dinner meeting on Monday night.
Suzanne Shipway, Kingsley October 2017


I just had to let you know how much I loved Secrets Mothers Keep. It's one of those books that has really got to me. I love all of your descriptions - and this is strange because usually, I skip things like this out. But you were writing about my state and places I know.
I began the book thinking I was going to hate the monster who did this but the way you told Clifford Hulme's story really made me think. He was a victim of his time and his disease. It shows that there are always two sides to a story.
Since I finished I have been googling madly to check all your facts. See that is how much it has got to me!
I found the book to be a lot of fun. I laughed and I cried and found I got wrapped up in the tale and all the characters. There was so much I should have been doing - and I just put it all off till I finished. Now The Apple Core Wars is sitting there tempting me.
So thanks again. It was lovely to meet with you and hear your stories. Please keep writing.
Roberta Thorne, Ravenswood, September 2017

I have just finished reading “The Apple Core Wars” by Linda J Bettenay and it proved to be right up there with "Secrets Mothers Keep" and "Wishes For Starlight". I didn't even know about it till I stumbled on it when visiting the grandies in Denmark last month.

Before reading "Apple Core" I read "Atomic Thunder" the Maralinga story. It was very good grounding for your chapters on Nagasaki. Absolutely horrific!

Thanks Linda for writing these terrific stories; you are doing your bit towards keeping our Australian history alive.
I am looking forward to your next effort.
Des Aitken, Kalgoorlie, September 2017

I have just finished reading “The Apple Core Wars” by Linda J Bettenay and send my congratulations to the author on a wonderful story! I was totally enthralled from start to finish.

I do hope she keeps up the great writing so we can all enjoy her wonderful Australian stories long into the future.
Glenda Potts, Wagin August 2017

I have just read 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and I loved it. I am a bookworm and I read a lot and Bettenay has written a fantastic book full of real-life characters - it kept me on the edge of my seat until the end. Thanks a lot.
Rick Chadwick, Wellstead, June 2017.

I have just finished reading 'Wishes For Starlight' and enjoyed it very much. You have a true gift Linda - I wonder where it will take you next? To answer your question at the beginning of the book: 'No, Starlight was never truly equal'.
How horrible was that introduction, an abandoned boy living with the chickens? But I was happy for him in the end because he went to a place he belonged.
How wicked Elizabeth and Lucy were to try and pin their immoral behaviour on Starlight? I was pleased when Thomas stepped forward to rescue Mary from that truly dreadful situation, I certainly didn't mourn her cruel father and I thought Meredith really did deserve her fate.
'Wishes For Starlight' is a book full of suspense. I kept reading- long after I should have been doing the dishes or sweeping the floor.
You put so much history into it as well. Your angle on Daisy Bates was interesting, and probably much closer to the truth than recorded history.
I was fascinated by the Aboriginal myth content. The story of the Kaanya Tree was truly magical and your words brought this to life with the astounding role of the red-tailed black cockatoos.
When Meredith's son appeared, I shuddered at what he might do. I made myself keep reading as he tortured Mibs but the mud bog and its supernatural movement left me feeling very satisfied, especially when you wrote 'only a mud-covered boot' remained above ground. Starlight's protection of Mibs left me feeling very warm.
I can only say the end with Starlight's passing was tragic. It clearly showed how whites considered Aborigines of no real consequence.
I also purchased an audiobook of 'Secrets Mothers Keep' from you and I have given this to a friend who had a stroke last year. I have also passed my copy of 'Wishes For Starlight' onto another friend. Your books will be shared around - I assure you.
Anyway Linda, it was terrific. All the best for your future writing.
Sheila Lange, Bicton United Women's Fellowship, June 2017

I finally got around to reading 'The Apple Core Wars' and it has left me gobsmacked. It is a terrific story. This is the last of Linda J Bettenay's books and I have read and loved them all. But I think this one could be the best of them. I’m in awe of her wide range of knowledge. I would imagine she has a team of researchers - but I know her and she works alone. This is her gift to the pioneering ancestors of the area she loves so much.

These books have given me a real feel for Roleystone and Karragullen. This resonated because I spent 3 years travelling to this location from Kalamunda twice a week. Bettenay's books have filled it all in for me and I can see shadowy figures of folks long gone in the bush as I travel past.

Keep it up, Linda.
Mary Clayton, Kalamunda June 2017

I have been telling everyone just how much I am enjoying Linda J Bettenay's three books. I purchased them from her when she visited Geraldton - and they have brought me so much pleasure.
I absolutely loved 'Wishes For Starlight', squirmed at Clifford's brutal attack on her husband's family in 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and now I am half way through 'The Apple Core Wars'. This astounding tale is keeping me totally transfixed. What am I going to do when I have finished???
I hope she has lots more ideas to write lots more books. I particularly like the local settings which make it so easy to relate to. True local stories that make our state come alive. Keep it up Linda.
Thank you
Edwina Proctor, Geraldton, May 2017

Yesterday, I listened to the last chapter of Linda Bettenay's book, 'Secrets Mothers Keep', which proved to be an engrossing tale keeping my attention til the end. The audiobook, narrated by Jim Malcolm, lasted almost 19 hours on MP3 and kept my mind active on the long tedious stretches of road.
Well done Linda on writing so brilliantly and sharing your talents with the world.
Gerry Baylee, outback traveller, May 2017

I have just finished reading Wishes For Starlight and I thoroughly enjoyed the tale. It was a really great read.

It has special significance for me as my wife and I will be celebrating our 70th wedding anniversary early next year and we spent our fortnight long honeymoon in Araluen. We had no vehicle so we spent our days wandering the hills you mention in Wishes For Starlight. We would have walked down the very tracks you refer to. We swam in the pool and walked for miles along the creek and we sat on the stone throne looking down onto the pool and across this spectacular valley.
Your book brought back so many wonderful memories.
Having been born in Western Australia, all the places and the situations you refer to are known to us. You brought them back to life for us. As a child, my father was a baker and I lived in the south-west. I delivered bread to many spot mills - so your descriptions of Canning Mills was also so very familiar.
At present, I am halfway through 'The Apple Core Wars' and enjoying this one immensely too.
Having lived through the war years, this is all so hauntingly familiar. We often listened to the BBC and your descriptions of this era are so very accurate. You have captured the terror and the worry and you have also painted vividly the excitement of this time for those left behind in Perth. Your description of the Japanese POW camps is very real and one only hopes this sort of thing will never happen again.
Almost all of the situations which make-up your wonderful stories are so familiar to me and bring back pleasant memories. Your books are also good reading, they go at a cracking pace and I just love the characters. Thanks so much for writing these stories and thanks so much for coming to Menora Gardens and speaking to us all.
George and Dorothy Rickson Menora Gardens, Menora May 2017.

I just simply had to let everyone know how brilliant Linda J Bettenay's audiobooks are.
My husband Gerry is back on the road again & he phoned me last night to tell me how wonderful he's finding them. The professional readers are excellent - the stories enthralling and Gerry reckons the kilometres just flash by - he doesn't want to get out of the car when he reaches the next stop unless the chapter is finished!
Gerry will be mentioning these Audio Books in the blog he writes on each of his long trips.
They have proved to be a well-loved present.
Sharon Baylee, Roleystone, wife of the intrepid adventure Gerry Baylee of outback Australia, May 2017.

Last November, while visiting my sister in Australia, she lent me two of your books. I have now finished 'Wishes For Starlight' and nearly finished 'Secrets Mother's Keep'. You know what it's like when unpacking from a long break, things get put away and not found till much later. But what I was missing by not getting to them straight away! They are excellent reads.
I loved Wishes For Starlight and I just wanted to let you know that I haven't managed to put Secrets Mothers Keep down yet, I am enjoying it so much.
The question that I'd like to ask is ---- I noticed that your husband's grandfather was Harold Smith, is he the Harold in the story? What an amazing man if so.
Thank you so much for researching and sharing.
I love the way that you have worked magic in tying up different characters from different countries and the horrific war scenes are almost photographic. I can't wait to read more.
Now my sister tells me that your third book - The Apple Core Wars, is out. I have told her I want it for my birthday.
Thanks so much.
Enid Martin, Manchester England May 2017

 Recently I attended a Ladies' Luncheon at the South Perth Yacht Club and we were entertained and inspired by Western Australian author and consummate storyteller, Linda J Bettenay. Bettenay spoke about her three books and her passion for getting Australians to get their stories down. Her tales had such relevance and painted vivid pictures of segments of her books and the back stories that led to her tales. She made us laugh, she made us reflect and she certainly made us want to read her books!

The forty minute talk went by in a flash, as Bettenay wowed the crowd. The talk after she had finished, was all about her performance. If her stories are anything like as good as her acting - they will be phenomenal!
I cannot speak highly enough of Linda Bettenay's ability to entertain. If you want a captivating speaker - she is your gal.
Deidre Constance, Melville April 2017.

I have just this minute completed reading Linda J Bettenay's book 'Secrets Mothers Keep'. I was absolutely engrossed in it all the way through. I started reading Secrets straight after I finished 'Wishes For Starlight' so the characters are all so alive for me. Now I can get on with all the work I should have been doing instead of reading.
Congratulations Linda! Your characters are all so credible and alive. Thank you for the two great reads so far.
I will keep the third book, 'The Apple Core Wars'  until I have caught up on a few tasks. But maybe not; I am looking lustfully at it right now.
Thanks again.
Sue Wilson, Mount Barker April 2017 

My husband Don has macular degeneration. A farmer all his life, he has now found enforced retirement difficult. Every day I read to him, and your books have provided us with so much listening pleasure.

'Secrets Mothers Keep' had us hooked from the beginning. Your description of farm life and Wubin was so like our farm life in Dowerin. 'Wishes For Starlight' was so interesting and you left us with a real cliffhanger. We didn't expect that ending!
And now after your third fabulous talk at our CRC, we have purchased 'The Apple Core Wars'.
Don just missed out on going to WW2 - but your descriptions rang true. Every word you said brought back that era into vivid perspective. Our thanks again Linda for your fabulous tales of our pioneering past.
Don and Margaret Phillips, Dowerin April 2017.

 I have just read Linda J Bettenay's novel, The Apple Core Wars, and before I share my thoughts, I need to explain that war stories are not usually my first choice in reading matter. However, I have found that this year I seem to be drawn to movies, TV series and now this novel that shares the life experiences of those brave souls who fought in wars for the freedom of our beautiful country and others that we were allies with.

I loved  The Apple Core Wars. I loved the way the author chose to weave the past in with the future. Scenes and accounts of actual events that were cruel and devastating to those involved, were portrayed in such a way that left the reader’s imagination to paint the picture. This meant the reader could determine how much he/she could handle. The Apple Core Wars was never overly graphic in gory description, as other authors writing about war can be. I really appreciated this subtlety - but still was able to fully feel the emotional roller coaster of all of the characters.
It is such a pleasure to read a book that I can recommend wholeheartedly, to others.
Beverlie Stanway, Denmark April 2017

I have just finished reading "Wishes for Starlight". It has absolutely blown me away. I think it's the best book I have ever read and I have read hundreds. It was just so real and so gripping.

I am dying to get on with your next book but I am reluctantly having to read my Book Club book first! I purchased all three of your books recently at the Plantagenet Probus meeting.
I am glad I live in these times and not back in the days of the First World War. My sincere thanks for coming to our meeting and doing your wonderful presentation. And thanks too for writing these amazing stories.
Warm regards,
Sue Wilson, Mount Barker March 2017

As I write this testimonial I have just finished reading 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and I am at the Dalwallinu Cemetery where I felt I needed to come and pay my respects to Harold Smith's family. Writing a story so close to your heart must have been traumatising so I thank you for being so brave and allowing the public to share in your very personal grief.

I was compelled to know more about the life of Mrs Smith and the girls in the aftermath of the tragedy they suffered, so I went to Wubin to see the house, the shop and the school. As I was walking along past the railway station, I was lucky to meet a lady who is a volunteer at the museum. She lives across the road from the house that was rebuilt for the Smith family. As we were walking around, I felt the impact this event had had on the whole local community and I felt ever so sad.
Although I understand 'Secrets Mothers Keep' contains the necessary writer's imaginations, the awful and sad facts of that day remain and I wanted to thank you for making me aware of this historical event as I travel our beautiful country. It seems to me that the Smith family were true pioneers of WA with so much courage and ambition - only to be stalled far too early.
The book has left me wondering if Vonny fully recovered from her brain injuries to go on and lead a 'normal' life, what happened to Elsie and of course what was the result of all of this on your own mother-in-law who I assume is the baby Peggy?
As you can see, this book has moved me profoundly.
Many thanks for a truly well-written book and I will be looking forward to reading your other 2 books on my travels.
Fabienne Hayes, currently in Dalwallinu, March 2017

 I've just finished listening to 'Wishes For Starlight'. What a wonderful audiobook!!!!

I loved the way you used the interesting history and pioneers of Karragullen/Araluen entwined with fiction. I could picture the places and people you beautifully described. I've learnt such a lot about the district and the treatment of aborigines. Sad, bittersweet and periods of true elation too. Thank you!
The narrator has a wonderful voice too.
I have already read 'Secrets Mothers Keep' but I will be ordering it on audio immediately. Somehow it comes across far differently and I hear even more of the story than when I read it in a traditional manner. Please let me know when your 3rd book, 'The Apple Core Wars' is completed.
I'm back in London living with my daughter now and your books give me all of those memories of home. Thank you so much.
Ros Baker Twickenham, UK February 2017

I finally finished 'Secrets Mothers Keep' last week and loved it, even though it was a bit grim in places!

It was so interesting to know the background as well. I have been on Trove looking up all the newspaper articles, and I was amazed to see how true this tale was. For this to have happened in your own family is quite chilling. Also seeing the photos was great - it brought the book to life.
Thanks for a wonderful book and I'm looking forward to starting the next one. I will be starting 'Wishes For Starlight' tonight. I am so glad I bought all three at Rossmoyne Probus.
Shirley Macrae, Willeton February 2017

Having purchased your book titled 'Secrets Mothers Keep'; while I was visiting Port Hedland recently, I am writing to tell you how much I enjoyed it. It's been a long time since I have chosen a book that really captured me on the first read of the back page. It moved me even if it was fictional and not many books can do that for me because I love reading true event stories and those based on fact as opposed to fiction. I congratulate you on a well-versed book full of intrigue, almost realism, sincerity, and giving an insight into life back in the days long lost to us. I would very much love to read the other books in the "Secrets" series and I hope they are as good as your first book.

Denise Bell, February 2017

'Secrets Mothers Keep' got us over the Nullarbor. We started the talking book when we left Perth and found the miles just slipped away. The bloke reading it did a great job and the story was thoroughly engrossing. We kept thinking about poor Mike and how horrific it would be to find out that something like this happened in your own family. And how on earth they kept it secret over all of those years is astounding.

Linda the book was brilliantly written and we loved the Aussie characters.
And we are so happy to have 'Wishes For Starlight' to put into the CD player - this will make sure the journey home is just as enjoyable.
Jan and Gary Miller Rossmoyne, January 2017.

I just wanted to let you know that I have just finished reading 'The Apple Core Wars' and I absolutely loved it. You have such a talent. I must confess I am left a bit saddened - I just want to know more about these characters. They have got under my skin. So will there be a fourth book?

All the best.

Beth Woodland, Busselton, January 2017

I requested 'Wishes For Starlight' on my Santa list and I was so pleased to receive it on Christmas Day. A friend had lent me 'Secrets Mothers Keep' which touched me deeply. The story was amazing - all the more so when I realised that it was based on your own family's experiences.

I found it quite confronting as I had never thought of myself as racist but couldn't help feeling responsible for the atrocities of my forebears, and not so "fore". It opened my eyes and I wanted more, so thought I'd try for another of Linda Bettenay's books, as ignorance is a large cause of racism, in my opinion. It always helps to try and see the other person's point of view. When I have finished this one, I will let you know what I think of it too. Thanks for writing thought provoking Western Australian stories for us all to read and learn from.
Pam French, December 2016

Recently our Legacy Club were privileged to have Linda Moore (nee Bettenay), our very own Western Australian author, come and give us a speech about her interesting life.
Her journey in life was a story in itself, and we were enthralled to learn of the back stories to her three books; how they came about, telling of life in Western Australia in the early years. It is never too late to learn about the history of our state.
Linda is a captivating speaker and I cannot speak highly enough of her ability to entertain. I strongly recommend her to other Laurel Clubs looking for an interesting speaker.
Helen Corti
Social Secretary, Rockingham Laurel Club, Legacy Western Australia, January 2017

When Linda Bettenay came to Perenjori, I purchased her two books as audiobooks. I have been loving them. I have finished listening to 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and now I’m halfway through 'Wishes for Starlight'. The production is superb and the readers really make the stories come to life. They have made my time driving to work, and once to Perth, very enjoyable. I can’t wait for 'The Apple Core Wars' to be on disc as well.

Ally Bramley, Manager Perenjori CRC December 2016

Yesterday I finished reading The Apple Core Wars - it is a wonderful tale. As I got deeper into the story I was waking in the middle of the night to read some more. I must confess to shedding a few tears. Your characters will stay with me for a long time. 

You must have done an amazing amount of research. All three of Linda J Bettenay's books deserve to be out there and being read by a lot more people.
Tess Earnshaw, Subiaco, December 2016

I picked up Linda J Bettenay's book 'The Apple Core Wars' on Friday and finished reading it on Sunday afternoon. Talk about a page-turner!

I also read her first two books and I have really enjoyed every one of them.
I am a dinky Di West Aussie and so enjoyed reading about places I know quite well. I am therefore hoping Linda has some more of her wonderful stories up her sleeve.
Thanks for a great read
Carol Leggo, Bruce Rock, December 2016

I have just finished reading 'Wishes for Starlight' by Linda J Bettenay which I bought at the Kelmscott Show. Wow. I could not put it down. It was great reading about the places I know.
The characters were so believable and the story bounded along at such a pace.
I have lived in Gosnells for 30 years and the history here still astounds me. My friend bought 'Secrets Mothers Keep' so we can swap and look forward to reading that one as well.
Lucy Macarthur, Gosnells, November 2016.

I carried 'The Apple Core Wars' by Linda J Bettenay, across the UK and finished it somewhere between York and London, I loved it as I have the other 2 - There was no way I was going to leave it behind. Linda's books are keepers.

As I read 'The Apple Core Wars' I could see home...in my mind's eye as I travelled! This was very special!

Thanks, Linda. I am looking forward to your next one!
Winsome Mortimer, Kalamunda, November 2016

An hour ago I finished 'The Apple Core Wars' and somehow I feel bereft. It was a great story, well told Linda.

After your three books, which involved immersing yourself in the details of suffering experienced by our forefathers and their families during times of war, discrimination and injustice, I can only hope you are having a break. The idea that you may be planning a children's story should come as a welcome relief.
Thank you Linda, for all your incredible hard painstaking research. Your sympathetic and evocative writing weaves stories that help us to understand our past better. I will miss the characters you have created - but perhaps it is time to let them go.
Ellen Nightingale, Kalbarri, November 2016

 I recently purchased "The Apple Core Wars" and after reading the final page, I very reluctantly closed the book on the lives of Jack Bellamy, Stella and the other characters. At times, I couldn't put the book down as I just had to read another chapter.

Being aware of the atrocities performed by many of the Japanese soldiers, I thought that you handled that part of your story with, for want of better words, with great delicacy. The characters who were prisoners of war seemed to accept that, " this is our lot for the moment, so let's make the best of it" ----- the great Aussie spirit.
I could rattle on some more as I really did enjoy this book but I think the best thing I can do is to say: "Congratulations Linda ". Please keep writing and I'll keep a lookout for your next book.

Lesley Stafford, Kingsley, October 2016

Today I finished reading 'The Apple Core Wars'. What a great story. You do have a talent for storytelling.
It was a fascinating read & as I was born before WW2 I could relate to so much of the era. I have already read 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and 'Wishes For Starlight' and I was so pleased that this one also had a great story.
Sonia Black, October 2016

 I have just finished reading 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and would like to sincerely thank the author Linda J Bettenay, for the privilege. I can't say that I enjoyed the read, aspects of it were very disturbing, but I am very pleased to have read it and to have experienced such a range of emotions.

The characters in the book are so well written and so plausible. It was such an interesting, easy to read yarn and hard to put down. I had a sense of being drawn into the whole drama and gained a deeper appreciation of the lives of people of that era.
The author spoke to us at our Association of Independent Retirees meeting in Swan View and having the background behind the book was a fabulous introduction. That this was a true story just magnified its impact.
I now look forward to reading Bettenay's other two books: 'Wishes For Starlight' and 'The Apple Core Wars'.
Jim Miolin, Swan View, October 2016

 Hey Linda, where do I start?? I have just finished 'The Apple Core Wars'. Your ability to send one's emotions in many directions at once is amazing. Again I had difficulty putting the book down. It was truly fabulous. The horrors of war never really left any of those who survived. 'The Apple Core Wars' is a truly poignant tale and it so clearly paints a picture of what so many many families went through. All I can say is thank you so much for your wonderful way with words.

Sue McQuade, Kalbarri October 2016

 I have just finished 'The Apple Core Wars' and what a great read it was. A tour-de-force of the strength of the human spirit during wartime and suffering. It was very difficult to put down and I can’t wait for your next offering. Go Linda!

Tim Hodgkins, Greenwood October 2016

I have just finished reading 'The Apple Core Wars' and felt I absolutely must write and congratulate you on a magnificent story. I became so involved with the story and the characters it was almost as though I knew them! I loved 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and 'Wishes for Starlight' but this one will stay with me for a long time and I will have no hesitation in recommending it to family and friends.

So, congratulations and I look forward to the next book!
Janette Skillington, Archivist & Historian, September 2016

 My daughter Rhonda recently gave me Linda J Bettenay's latest book "The Apple Core Wars" as a birthday gift. What a fabulous story.

It was a very interesting and informative read about our early pioneers, family difficulties, wartime and POWs in Japan.
I was in suspense until the last page - and what an ending! I can only hope she keeps writing more powerful books.
Thanks Linda

 Wilma van der Laan, Roleystone, October 2016

Thank you for another great read! I have just finished "The Apple Core Wars" and I loved it!

We are using the book as our bookclub read this month - and so far, the reports are all positive.
I enjoyed the way you blended the life at war and life in the orchard. Also, thank you for keeping some of your earlier book characters and letting us know more about their lives. They seem like family now.
I was surprised and impressed by your revelation near the end of the book. It tied it up so well and was simply wonderful.
Linda, your 3 books sit on my bookshelf with some of my other favourite books. Once again, thank you and well done.
Also, the inscription you wrote in the front of the book is so true:
"In times of true adversity, it is only your friends who get you through." This is the core of the story - and a great life lesson for us all.
Jan Johnson, Serpentine, September 2016

I purchased the 'Apple Core Wars' after Linda Bettenay came to speak at our Karrinyup Probus Club and I am so glad I did. I could have listened to her captivating story all day.

I came straight home and started reading and it has totally captivated me all week. I loved it. The harrowing description of the POW's ordeal and the atrocities of war was sad, but the love triangle brought much laughter.
I can't wait to read her other stories and many more to come I hope
Thank you so much, Linda
Jan Gray, Karrinyup, August 2016 

I have just finished Linda J Bettenay's last book 'The Apple Core Wars' and once again really enjoyed it. She has a real talent for telling a highly entertaining story.
Samille Mitchell, Co-writer Editor Inspired Magazine
Kalbarri August 2016

Thank you, Thank you, thank you for yet another fabulous read, Linda. I've finally finished 'The Apple Core Wars' and you didn't let me down. Laughs, tears, happiness, sorrow, the horror of war and, of course, the awkward love triangle woven beautifully throughout the story As you say, 'in times of true adversity it is only your friends who get you through' and I know that to be true. Thanks again Linda. I loved it as much as 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and 'Wishes For Starlight'. Three out of three. I'm ready for the next one now.
Di Martin, Middle Swan, July 2016

I was given 'Wishes For Starlight' by Linda J Bettenay as a get well present two weeks ago. I don’t usually have a lot of time to sit down and read a book. I always seem to find something else to do, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
I particularly liked the way the author understood Aboriginal people, and the empathy she had for them and the way they were treated. It was a real eye-opener about a time in history that is not well understood. Also, I enjoyed the interplay of the different personalities, I felt as if I knew each one of them.
The places the author referred to also were of great interest to me. this book is so delightfully Western Australian. Thanks so much Linda Bettenay for a great read, and I intend to get 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and 'The Apple Core Wars' now.
Pat Franceschi, Whitfords, July 2016

I have just finished reading 'The Apple Core Wars'. What a great yarn Linda, such easy reading. Thank you so much for your wonderful description of our childhood sights, smells, sounds and tastes. I left Roleystone at 21 and these are the things you don't realise you've missed until you make the pilgrimage up the hill again. As for the Parkin family, I only knew Jack and Joyce so I was gobsmacked to discover there were so many more of them and of the remarkable contribution the family made.
Thanks so much for writing these stories - I have really loved them all.
Regards Rhona Eade (Pettigrew), July 2016

I just want to let you know that I have been sobbing for days since I read the last few pages of 'The Apple Core Wars'. Linda Bettenay has written an amazing book and I thank her for her efforts. She shares personal stories and our State's history and Linda's gift for storytelling brings this to life. I am almost speechless. I didn't want this story to end.
Linda Bettenay, you should be very satisfied with your literary efforts.
I can't wait until the next one comes out.
Lisa Currie, Kalbarri, July 2016.

Linda, I have now finished both of the wonderful books 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and 'Wishes For Starlight'. Thank You for taking me on this wonderful, thrilling and captivating journey through some very familiar places.

'Secrets Mothers Keep' was so eye-opening to the severity of WW1 and its effect on Australia and in particular, your family and their friends. I found myself praying for the safety of the entire Smith family. 'Wishes For Starlight' had me on the edge of my seat. I loved that Mr Gibbs, Meredith and that vile creature Dickie got their just deserts. Thanks to you for showing me a vision of our "Boss" - JJ Simons, and highlighting the beauty of my home Araluen.
You are a storyteller through and through and I can't wait to read 'The Apple Core Wars'.
Mason Kelly, Araluen, July 2016.

Congratulations Linda on writing such a heartwarming book.
I have read many fictional and non-fictional books that were set in the WW2 era, but 'The Apple Core Wars' is the first one that I have read that portrays the dramatic twists of fate that so changed the lives and destinies of people from our own part of the Perth Hills. You have done a wonderful job of honouring the sacrifice of so many from that golden generation.
I have not been to Japan, but early in my international planning career I lived and worked with teams of specialists in often remote parts of Borneo, Indonesia, the Philippines and Christmas Island. I discovered to my amazement that the history and impact of WW2, the epic battles for survival and the physical legacy of forced labour under Japanese occupation was still evident in many places.
The island of Biak off the north coast of West Papua was particularly notable and in parts of the Island, I knew I was standing on ground that had brutally consumed the lives of literally thousands of allied and Japanese soldiers as they fought for control of a strategic outpost. For me, it was a moving and humbling experience that I have never forgotten.
I loved your story and I was gripped until the final page. Thanks for bringing to life a facet of our history that might otherwise have been lost with the passing of time.
Max Margetts, Kelmscott Hills July 2016.

I just finished ‘Wishes For Starlight’ and thoroughly enjoyed the read. It was disturbing, yes, and in credit to the author, reflected the place and times as it was then. Knowing some of the family connections and area quite well, really brought the narrative to light. In fact, a few years ago when in the Karragullen area, I went looking for evidence of the Canning Mills settlement and did not find too much. Linda Bettenay's book helps to understand why this is.
Again thank you, Linda. Your books are uplifting.
Tim Hodgkins, Kingsley Probus Club, July 2016

I met Linda Bettenay at a book evening she gave at the Lancelin CRC. It was a lovely event she is a very inspirational speaker!
I have just had time to read her book 'Wishes For Starlight', and what a delightful yet concerning story it is.
When I was reading this story I kept seeing a visual presentation before my eyes - Bettenay's words brought this story to life. I was surprised with the ending because I had dared to guess what it would be. This was a big mistake but her ending was somehow fitting although very sad.
'Wishes For Starlight', in my view, must surely be taken into consideration for schools and would be a great movie especially with some of Australia's great actors.
Again thank you Linda Bettenay for this wonderful tale. I will be re-reading this book again soon as it is so full of detail. It would be impossible to take it all in with only one read.
Guy Edgar, Lancelin, July 2016

I have just finished reading 'The Apple Core Wars', I just could not put it down and finished it in two days. Some parts are terribly sad and I was close to tears especially the chapters about the Atomic Bomb. The determination of the Aussie boys getting through the war was unbelievable. The friendship of all the boys and Stella and families from Karragullen/Roleystone area was exquisite.
The story of the Parkin boys seems so amazing I could have sworn this was all fabrication until I reached the final chapters and read the transcript of their war experiences.
My own grandfather was killed on Timor in 1942, defending the airport at Laha, Timor. His friends were captured and became POWs so this story has great relevance to me.
Once again Bettenay has done a great job, it is very well researched and written.
The Apple Core Wars was a pleasure to read. Excellent!
Colleen Fancote, Kelmscott, June 2016

I received 'The Apple Core Wars' on Friday and spent my weekend reading it. Thank you, I have just finished it.
Well, that might not be the most coherent review of the book but it sums up my feelings just at the moment. 'The Apple Core Wars' is a riveting tale of people, some of whom almost seem like family after your previous books. And of course the familiar districts in parts of the book and a truly fascinating, and horrible yet uplifting, story of survival and overcoming adversity (all wrapped up in a wonderful love story).
You might reckon you only have had three books in you but surely you can't leave it there. Come on Girl, thinking cap back on (please!).
All the best
Hugh Carder, Kojonup, June 2016

I have just finished reading 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and I just wanted to let you know that I couldn't put the book down. I enjoyed it so much.

Thank you so much for researching and sharing your family's story. It must have been so traumatic to discover this tale after so many years of silence. I love the way that you have worked magic in tying up different characters from different countries and the horrific war scenes are almost photographic. I can't wait to read more of your tales and I have just seen on your website that your third book 'The Apple Core Wars' is available. I can't wait to get stuck into this one.
Thank you for writing these wonderful stories.
Enid Wilson, Perth, June 2016

 I just wanted to let everyone know that I thoroughly enjoyed reading Secrets Mothers Keep. Once I started I couldn't put it down. Having heard Linda speak, and knowing that this was based on a true story, made it even more fascinating.

Last night I commenced Wishes For Starlight and wow what a story. I am going to read this book more slowly as I want to savour every word. Already I have fallen in love with all the characters. Linda's writing style is easy to read and her stories are believable and of course, they are steeped in our state's history. And now I have found out that the third book - The Apple Core Wars has been released. I will be buying this one for sure.

Thanks Linda

Julie Wall, Crawley, June 2016

 I received Linda Bettenay's latest book 'The Apple Core Wars' and started reading it at 12noon on Thursday and finished it on Friday at 6p.m.

What can I say? It is another one of her books that I couldn't put down.
I was born in 1936 and I can still remember certain details of the war. Bettenay's chapter describing the atom bomb being dropped and the death and destruction brought me to tears and I had to stop reading for an hour. It was so vivid I could feel it all.
This book has meant so much to me as my father joined the RAF in the UK in 1938. He was at the fall of Singapore and was captured and sent to a prison camp in Java. He was reported missing for a few years and it wasn’t till he was rescued and on an Australian hospital ship we were told he was still alive by the Red Cross.
He never told us much about what it was like but before joining up my father was a very handsome confident young man but he came back from that war a very timid broken man. He rejoined the RAF for another 20 years as he only seemed comfortable with that life. He would never allow anything Japanese in the house but never spoke of his experiences to me or to my two stepbrothers. The only thing I do remember is him describing the hospital ship arriving into Sydney.
In 'The Apple Core Wars' [page 345] Bettenay's description could be word-for-word as my father told me.
Bettenay has once again put together an incredible and enjoyable read.
Thanks Linda, I will be putting in an order for Xmas presents.
Wendy Bishop McCulloch, Mandurah, June 2016

Thank you Linda, for allowing me to be one of your early readers of 'The Apple Core Wars'. I don't know how you do it, but this one is your best yet. I just loved it. The early scenes of schoolboy rivalry had me smiling to myself - this was so reminiscent of my own childhood. You capture 'Australiana' to perfection.
You managed the complex weaving of the present and the past masterfully. And your characters are so very realistic.
I was there with the boys in Nagasaki, you've certainly brought the horror of this event out in technicolour and the rescue scene had me bawling my eyes out.
So thanks again - you are a brilliant storyteller.
Maudie Hassell, Kelmscott, May 2016

I have just finished reading 'Wishes For Starlight' by Linda J Bettenay and I loved it. All the characters were down to earth and realistic. I felt that I knew them by the end of the book. It is so nice to read a Western Australian story set in our location. I could really relate to the places. Keep writing please Linda.

Peg McKenzie, Dalkeith April 2016

'The Apple Core Wars' is Linda Bettenay's third and most striking novel so far. It captures an era rarely written about in Australian literature, that of the Second World War and its effects on those who stayed behind and those who endured the horrors of the POW camps. The strong and compelling narrative is interspersed with humour and lovable and real characters which make the story resonate with life. The reader is swept along in their lives; this is a genuine page-turner. More please.

Ginny O'Keefe, Roleystone March 2016

I have just finished reading Linda J Bettenay's latest book the 'Apple Core Wars'. I enjoyed reading about the locals. I cheered with them, mourned with them and empathized with them, as Bettenay wove a wonderful narrative around her family memories.

I found it interesting to follow the lives with characters appearing in 'Secrets Mothers Keep', re-appearing in 'Wishes For Starlight' and now having their tales rounded off in 'The Apple Core Wars'.
These tales will delight the readers and remain in their treasure trove of favourite books.
Well done Linda.
Jean Evans Roleystone, March 2016

 Thank you so much for bringing your books and story to Lancelin. Your talk was really very interesting especially for all of the West Aussies. I have just finished your first book 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and found it was exactly like you described. You feel like you are on a wave, for a moment up you are staring up at calm blue skies and then in the next minute, you crash down and you're fighting for your life amongst swirling water and seaweed covered rocks.

Thank you for your story writing. You have a real gift. I cannot wait to start reading 'Wishes For Starlight'.

Mary Dunstan, Lancelin March 2016. 

 My cousin sent me a copy of your book Wishes For Starlight and I have just finished reading it. It left me speechless.

The story kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through; I love your writing style. I didn't know where the story was going from one page to the next. I would just think I was getting the drift of the story and the then story would twist again.
I enjoyed your use of a lot of the old words; this was very apt given the era you were writing about. The pioneering spirit was apparent and I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of Western Australia's past.
On top of it all, it was a really lovely story and I really want to know how true it all was. I learned so much from reading Wishes For Starlight. I'm looking forward to reading more books by Linda J Bettenay so please keep me posted when you finish your next book.
Many thanks and please keep writing - you have a real talent.
Ken Mintram, United Kingdom, February 2016

 OMG. I have literally just finished 'Wishes For Starlight'. It is so fantastic. A thoroughly believable story and an enjoyable read. My heart is still beating fast and I have unshed tears just waiting to be released. It's even better because I am familiar with the area and can feel your connection to the characters who you've included in your story. You truly are a wonderful storyteller. Keep going, please.

Rhonda Howell, Queensland,  February 2016

'Wishes For Starlight' is the first of Australian author Linda J Bettenay's books that I have read and I must say I enjoyed it very much. I was attracted by the amazing front cover and the artist Laurie Smoker deserves a huge commendation for this dramatic piece of art. And the cover is very true to the content of the book.Bettenay writes in an easy to read style but some of the topics she covers are haunting. The terrible abuse of Aborigines in the Australian history is clearly revealed - but it is not 'in your face'. The reader is left to rue the treatment metered out to Aboriginals by our country's pioneers - some may have been well-intentioned but in hindsight, their actions were amazingly cruel.

Wishes For Starlight is not just about Aboriginals, it's also about the impact of World War 1, relationships and friendship. The storyline gathers you along and it is well crafted. Her development of characters is a strength and I found all of the major characters very likeable. In contrast, the evil Meredith and her son were truly abominable and deserved their nasty ends. Bettenay manages to evoke sympathy and laughter and provide a very enjoyable tale.
This story made me think of the lives that my great grandparents led. How hard it was, what challenges they had but life also seemed simpler and full of laughter, loyalty and friendship.
Reading Wishes For Starlight made me thankful to those who came before me and made this country what it is today. After the first line, I was so glad I bought it and read it! 

So make Wishes For Starlight your next read - you'll not be sorry you did.
Amy Picoulli, Northam, January 2016

 When I was back in Geraldton my sister loaned me a copy of 'Secrets Mothers Keep' by Linda J Bettenay.  I've only just finished reading it. Wow, what a great story. It really kept me interested right to the end. I kept having to pinch myself to remind me that I was reading a book written by a friend. I've never known an author before. Congratulations and thank you for the experience. I'm looking forward to reading more of your stories.

Rhonda Howell, Queensland, October 2015

I bought Linda J Bettenay's two books when she visited our town in Pingrup and wanted to give the author a huge thumbs up. I have just finished them both and loved them.
I started  'Secrets Mothers Keep' first then moved on to 'Wishes For Starlight'. The first one blew me away and I could not put it down. I loved the writing style and was totally engaged. It's delightful the way "Starlight" slightly overlapped "Secrets "!
'Secrets Mothers Keep' really opened my eye to the war and life on the land way back then. Thanks Linda and Mike for coming out to the country towns. I probably would not have seen or bought your books otherwise.
Deborah Badger, Pingrup, October 2015

What a breath of fresh air you are Linda. This morning I have been entertained, educated, enlightened and intrigued by listening to you about your true stories ‘Wishes For Starlight’ and 'Secrets Mothers Keep’ as you addressed our group of passionate lifelong learners.
We all have busy lives but as these books are based on early WA pioneers and early WA towns it is refreshing to have you take me back to those days.
Thank you for keeping my mind active and bringing enjoyment to my soul.
I cannot wait for your third book, ‘The Apple-Core Wars’
Until next year
Margaret, from U3A Armadale, October 2015

I've just finished 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and it was an amazing read.  I was so sad to have missed you when you were in Mullewa earlier this year but that's life. I would have liked to have heard the background behind this amazing tale which I believe is based on a true story in your family. Luckily I'd already I purchased 'Wishes For Starlight' and I am now engrossed in this tale.

So thank you for giving me so much pleasure.
Megan Holleran, Mullewa, October 2015.

 I just finished reading Linda J Bettenay's second book 'Wishes For Starlight' and I can't believe I liked it better than her first. I literally couldn't put it down. Linda is a brilliant storyteller and I cannot wait until her next one is released.

Melissa Green Wyalkatchem, October 2015

I enjoyed reading Linda J Bettenay's novel 'Wishes For Starlight'. All the characters were down to earth and realistic. I felt that I knew them by the end of the book. It is so nice to read a Western Australian story set in our location. I could really relate to the places. Keep writing please Linda.
Peg McKenzie Dalkeith, October 2015

Sadly, I have just finished your first book, "Secrets Mothers Keep".
I loved it! I have to admit the last pages had me in tears, but for every negative there was a positive and so I thank you for being the instigator of my cleared sinuses.
I am really looking forward to your second book, 'Wishes For Starlight'. Keep up the good work
Gwen Carroll, Kalgoorlie, September 2015

I just wanted to say I was halfway through Secrets Mother Keep months ago when life interrupted and I had to put it down. I picked it up again last week and finished it today. Bravo, what a great read! I laughed, I cried, I empathized. I loved it, well done. What an amazing story, thanks and keep on writing - you truly have a gift. I have holidays coming up and I'm so happy that I already have Wishes for Starlight to look forward to.
Carol Anne White, Geraldton, September 2015

Woo Hoo!
I've just finished 'Wishes for Starlight'. Brilliant; a great, well written and enthralling read. You made my week with your wonderful story. I have been to work n back every day, busting to get back home to your book! It's just one of those books that you don't want to put down.
Thank you, Linda, for sharing the journey
Lynette Francis,  Boddington, September 2015

I have just finished reading 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and wanted to tell you what a fabulous read I found it to be. I feel it has also given me more knowledge and understanding of people and lives in early 20th century. You're a fine storyteller Linda. Keep up the good work.
Julia Lacey, Palmyra, August 2015

I am currently enjoying your book Secrets Mothers Keep very much. I enjoy the rich tapestry you set with your detailed writings. They enable me, the reader, to enter into the world you have created and get a real feel for what the characters are experiencing. I cannot wait to read your second book Wishes Fort Starlight.
Many thanks and kind regards,
Susan Dunn, August 2015

Congratulations with your book Secrets Mothers Keep. Masses amounts of hours, blood sweat and tears (and husband patience!), goes into producing something like that.
Being a country person, picturing the struggles for those people, quite apart from the real tragedy, has been a great process for me. Travelling through that country recently, also added to the richness of your story. You did a fabulous job.
Lastly, to find the presiding judge was the Chief Justice, Sir Robert McMillan was my husband’s great-grandfather was an amazing feeling. I guess it made me also remember how young WA is. He was offered his first job as a judge whilst he was still in England. The colony hadn't trained its own lawyers by then.
Then to realize his great-grandfather had to hand down a "death sentence", is thought-provoking, to say the least.
Please keep writing and best wishes in your writing, travels and adventures.
Bev McMillan, Narrogin, September 2015

Thank you for your book talk at the Scarborough Library last night your presentation was full of vim and enthusiasm. I loved your two books - 'Wishes For Starlight' and 'Secrets Mothers Keep' so much - and hope to write my stories in a similar vein. There are so many great Western Australian stories to tell. Your characters are so alive.
On my way home, I was thinking of what you said, about Mrs Smith not wanting to have the story known. That may well have been the case while she was in human form, but I truly believe that in the spiritual world, she fully supports your writing and the love that has been generated by the stories you have told and the connections you have made. You have changed people's lives with these stories, for the good. The warmth that you share with those who come to hear you speak about your passion is priceless.
All the very best spreading the word about your inspirational books. I will surely do the same at this end. And can't wait to read your next one.
Monica Mumme, July 27th, Scarborough

related so much to your book 'Wishes For Starlight'. I love the WA bush and found the red-tailed black cockatoo and freeing up the souls of the dead hauntingly beautiful. Now I have to buy some copies for friends and I need to read 'Secrets Mothers Keep'! Wow.
Irene Stokes, Pinjarra, August 2015

I have just finished reading 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and wanted to tell you what a fabulous read I found it to be. I feel it has also given me more knowledge and understanding of people and lives in early 20th century. You're a fine storyteller Linda. Keep up the good work.
Julia Lacey, Palmyra, August 2015

I've just finished reading Linda J Bettenay's tale 'Wishes For Starlight'. It's a good book and a worthwhile read. A well crafted tale of history, place, personal relations and particularly a sympathetic analysis of the Aboriginal dilemma. Well done Linda.
Dennis Tarrant, Fremantle, July 2015 

I am just writing to tell you that I have finished your book Secrets Mothers Keep. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I must admit that I didn't think it would be my genre. I found the book easy to read, flowed well and could identify with all the characters. I am saving Wishes For Starlight for my flight to the UK on Sunday. I am really looking forward to it.
Thanks again
Danica Kowald, Woodanilling, July 2015

I just finished reading 'Secrets Mothers Keep' this afternoon, which I had purchased on a recent camping trip to Pemberton. I immediately wanted to learn more about Linda and the story, and so I googled to find her website.

I first learned about 'Wishes for Starlight' in the Pemberton Community Newspaper, but couldn't remember the name. I couldn't wait to read another book by Linda, so I ordered it right away. I thoroughly enjoyed 'Secrets Mothers Keep'! I'm fascinated by Western Australia's early history and the strength and tenacity of our pioneers.
After 3 years of thorough research, I am writing about the history of my hometown and Linda's writing has inspired me not to give up.
Please pass on to Linda my sincere gratitude for such a wonderfully written story. The journey of Lillian and Harold pulled on my heart strings, moving me immensely. So much that I wish to pay my respects in Dalwallinu and visit the commemorative trees in Kings Park.
I look very much forward to reading 'Wishes for Starlight'. There is nothing quite like sitting comfortably and holding a good book with real pages as you are immersed in a story that takes you to another place and time.
Monica Mumme, April 26th, 2015

I felt like I walked the bush with your characters in 'Wishes For Starlight', Linda. It was a fabulous story. Confronting and uplifting at the same time. I wonder how many local people are out looking for the Kaanya tree or Moondyne Joe's Hollow? Whether it is embellished fiction or truth, your characters are so believably real. Thanks and congratulations on another riveting book
Flo Barnett, Roleystone

January 2015.I have just finished reading "Wishes for Starlight" and would like everyone to know that it was one of the best novels I've ever read.

Firstly, I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of the book and it was quite literally hard to put down.

Being somewhat familiar with the locales (I was born in Armadale in 1980 and have lived in the region most of my life) it was interesting to feel like it was also my history.

I particularly loved the characters and the difficult real-life issues behind each of their stories. Specifically, I really appreciate that you wrote about how nobody asked the indigenous people what they wanted. My heart breaks at how Mary and her friends thought they knew what was best for Starlight.
Can I just say that I was completely devastated at the end? I felt an intense loss and honestly I burst out crying in shock and horror. However, I fully appreciate the circular patterns of all the interconnections between the characters and the lifetime of events leading up to that moment. It was so beautifully fateful.
I feel emotionally overwhelmed, very satisfied and also impressed at what you have written and will encourage everyone I know to have a read of Wishes For Starlight. Thanks so much for writing it and PLEASE keep on going.
Jennifer Carruthers, Armadale, March 5th, 2015


Reviewed By Kathryn Bennett for Readers' Favoritefive star website
5 Stars

Secrets Mothers Keep by Linda J. Bettenay takes us to Western Australia in the 1920s where a brutal murder has happened. The killer had no motivation and feels some remorse - not for what he did, but for the fact that the wife and children must start again. This novel explores how lives that seem unrelated intertwine through events that happen, from a young English boy who has learning disabilities and signs of mental illness to Lilly who is a wife to a murdered husband, and a mother.

This book is not a happy read; it will tear at your heart and leave you crying. Murder, rape and general violence make it very emotional and at times hard to swallow. With that said, however, it is those exact emotional ties that make the book so interesting. Knowing that this is historical fiction based on fact only serves to tug at your heart even more. Linda J. Bettenay has done a fantastic job of weaving a perfect tapestry of interest and emotion. It can be hard to get into this book at first, but I recommend to anyone who starts it to stay with it. The story is worthwhile and has such a beautiful ebb and flow to it that you would truly be missing out. Lilly is a character who will now forever be held in my heart because of what she lived through. The themes in this book are just as pertinent today as they were when the events took place. Two thumbs way up for this book.
26th December 2014

I have just finished reading 'Wishes For Starlight' and as an avid reader, I found the book a great read. In fact, I could hardly put it down. So full of history and a story which needed to be told. My daughter had given me this book plus your previous one, 'Secrets Mothers Keep' which I enjoyed also. So once again congratulations on a well written and thoughtful book. I'm sure it will sell well and perhaps make a wonderful film one day.
Bob Johnson, Henley Brook, 15th December 2014

I absolutely loved 'Secrets Mothers Keep'! Way out of my normal genre but I'm so glad I took the time to give it a go. I highly recommend it to everyone
Jessica Hagley, September 2014

Secrets Mothers Keep is an amazing true local WA story, very thought provoking for the time it happened & the attitudes to mental health. I think it was good to have some background info before reading after meeting the author at a local launch. Although this did mean that I approached the depiction of the actual crime with some trepidation but it was handled as well as it could be under such dreadful circumstances.
27th September 2014
Lorraine MacDonald

I just finished Wishes for Starlight, what a fantastic read!

Being in Perth this week has enabled Paul and me  to retrace some of the history behind this story and find places like the cobbled section of road on the Canning Mill Road near Karragullen.

The emotion evoked by your story telling is incredible. I loved every page and found it very hard to put the book down, as can be attested by Paul.

Thank you again for giving your readers an insight into the life of our forbearers and the hardships they endured,  as well as how families stuck together through thick and thin and the love that permeated down the generations.

Sue McQuade, Kalbarri, November 2014 

'Wishes for Starlight' by Linda J Bettenay

Bettenay is bold in her storytelling, she does not shy away from what life must have been like for Aborigines at that time and bravely includes fictionalised accounts of people and places with which she is most familiar, having grown up in the hills where she still lives today.

Take delight in reading a WA author writing about the part of WA she knows and loves.
It will entertain you, affront you and compel you to talk about what life was like 100 years ago in suburbs we all know.

Readers of Bettenay's first book 'Secrets Mothers Keep' will enjoy the reappearance of Bluey, Macca and the now mellowed newspaperman Eustace. Bettenay's fans can be rest assured 'Wishes For Starlight' has as many shocks and even better storytelling than her first novel.

Reviewed by Robyn Molloy
Editor, Examiner Newspapers; Freelancer, webjournalist.com.au

I have just finished reading Secrets Mothers Keep and I felt I must write to you and tell you how I felt. I must say I couldn't put the book down!
It's hard for me to be an impartial critic for you because:

  • My maternal grandparents were early settlers just north of Dalwallinu
  • My grandfather died in 1921 leaving grandma with 4 children under 5 and pregnant!
  • She was actually able to get the title to the farm because her neighbours helped finish off the required clearing
  • And yes, they rallied around and fund-raised and helped her get through
  • My paternal grandparents lived in Nedlands overlooking the river
  • My paternal grandmother was a midwife
  • My husband's grandfather returned from the war but died from mustard gas poisoning leaving a widow with 4 girls
  • The widow lived in Holland Street, Fremantle, a continuation of Ellen Street that you mentioned in the book
  • AND the property I now live on was used to process sandalwood for shipment and I totally understand the euphoric smell of sandalwood. 

Your book was so TRUE to real life in Western Australia at this time! 

The World War I stories helped me to understand a lot more about the harsh conditions, particularly the gas, and I understand from listening to my uncle that the same English/Australian attitudes and pranks continued in his experience in World War II.
The only part I found difficult to comprehend was Lilly's association with the reporter. In my experience of grief, I couldn't have forgiven as easily as she did, and especially not within a year, but I also understand that emotions were kept very much at bay after the war years – if you survived the war and returned home, you had nothing to complain of because so many didn't return. Do you know if this was factual?
I'd love to see this made into a mini-series but  I wonder how much of the historical conditions of the time would be understood as easily by younger generations.
I'm not prepared to order Linda's new book yet in case I get as distracted by it; I'll put it on my Christmas wish-list.
The person who recommended the book to me works in a bookstore in Fremantle and reads all the time. She was born overseas and has never lived in rural Australia. She was recommending it passionately to a group of us having afternoon tea together. I think her critical acclaim is probably more valid than mine!
Congratulations and thank you.
Carol Lapsley
Spearwood, November 11th 2014

Wow, what a horrific tragedy. I think many people can relate to the shocking family secrets you tell of in 'Secrets Mothers Keep'. Amazing isn't it; the secrets we keep to protect other people. I have witnessed in my own life, and in my practice as a psychologist, the very heavy burden that being 'The Secret Keeper' can have. A job most acquire against their will yet feel compelled to keep. The truth will set the Secret Keeper free, but they are often too afraid to break their silence. Quite a horrible predicament. I wish people knew that they do NOT have to be a secret keeper!! They are not responsible for the consequences that the truth may have on other people. It's actually a very interesting topic in itself! Your book proved to be an intriguing read! You handled these confronting topics with empathy and compassion. I loved it and cannot wait until your next one. 

Name withheld, October 2014

"Secrets Mothers Keep at times reads like an existential work. Life is cruel, fate delivers random acts of horror that seem meaningless... Like all great writers, Linda has imbued her characters with soul and spirit that deliver these lessons to her audience. It is a great debut novel."

Andrew Pheasant, Director, Armadale Film Festival

"I also have to say that I have just finished the book Secrets Mothers Keep. I haven't read a book all through for quite some time but your book kept me entranced and it was great to read about the familiar places and the history. I hope you are writing more as you have a gift for it."

Ann Simms, May 2014

I met you both at the Eaton Library with my friend Ronnice. I was the one who stated that when I first read the back cover of 'Secrets Mothers Keep' it was not a book I would have wanted to read.  But as you talked about the story I was then sold on reading it despite the gruesome nature. Anyway, I am thoroughly enjoying it and can't put it down.

On pg 299 you have made reference to my Grandmother's sister Ivy Lewis' sad passing and I was covered in goose-bumps when I read this. So a part of my Family's history is in your book!

Thank you for writing an amazing story! I have very much enjoyed reading it.

Marg Mawson, September 2014 

I have just been on holidays and I took Secrets Mothers Keep with me.  At last, I had the time to read this book and give it the time it deserved.  I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is the first book I have enjoyed for a few years. I was brought to tears more than once.You have done a great job 

Patricia Roberts, August 2014

Thank you Linda for telling the story and chatting to us about Secrets Mothers Keep. I loved listening to the way it all came about. I have started the book and am finding it hard to put down. Thinking it will be my next choice for book club!

Sallyann Silver, Kellerberrin August 2014 

"I have just finished reading your novel "Secrets Mothers Keep" and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it. You had me from the moment I started reading it, especially as I was able to visualise the areas you were describing as my partner was born in Dalwallinu in 1952 and we take his mother back every year to visit. I found myself reading extracts to him quite a lot. I cannot wait for your next book."

Helen Bayliss

Thank you so much for your wonderful book 'Secrets Mothers Keep', Linda.

I am an amateur historian and I really loved the intertwining of well-researched history with a powerful true story. The reality, that your own relatives experienced these horrific acts makes this a deeply personal tale.

I really enjoyed your coverage of the First World War. This time has been covered by many authors but you managed this in a unique manner. You covered the events and managed to relay the barbarism of the time but you did so with outstanding humanity. I found myself deeply moved by their experiences.

The brutal murder and attacks on your relatives must have been unbearably invasive for those who endured it. It must have been so difficult for you to write about this however, you did so with empathy and great eloquence. I could clearly picture what occurred and felt the emotion of those folk living through these traumatic events.

I found your ability to deal sensitively with the burden of mental illness particularly satisfying. I am so grateful that we now live an era where such things can at least be talked about. Following your characterisation, Clifford Hulme has at last found some understanding; many generations after his execution. Your empathy and compassion were immensely gratifying. 

I found the way you brought together the threads of these people’s lives was amazing. You writing style is so easy to read and this book is a real page-turner.

What is remarkable, is that in spite of the dark subject, this book exudes warmth (although I must admit I had a tear in my eye at the end). You have captured the essence of so many facets of pioneering life: war, love, home life, relationships. I think 'Secrets Mothers Keep' will be talked about long into the future. Thank you for writing it and I cannot wait for your second book.

Mary Brighton Historian, Vic Park,  July 2014

 Rarely do a buy a book from an unknown local author! Sadly there are just too many duds out there. But my neighbour had read your book Secrets Mothers Keep so I decided to chance it. You have blown me away. This book is easily one of my favourites. I just loved it. The story itself is harrowing but the people are so uplifting. And it all takes place in locations in my own state - places I relate to and know about. You have really made a wonderful start to your writing career. Please keep going! I cannot wait for your second book.

Marcia Kitterson, Fremantle October 2014

I have just finished Secrets Mothers Keep and had to let you know how much I enjoyed it. You did an amazing job with the research and construction of so many characters to produce such a fine novel. I couldn't put it down. Congratulations. I am looking forward to your next book.

Bianca Kelly, August 2014

Just had to let you know that I have finished your very compelling story 'Secrets Mothers Keep' - couldn't put it down and found it thoroughly absorbing!

When next in Pemberton I will pop into the Discovery Shop and let them know that it is a great read and an author's visit would be a great idea.
Best wishes for your continued success
Joanne Jones, Formerly of Pemberton WA

I have been in my book club for over 40 years now and our book this month was your lovely "Secrets Mothers Keep" which I have just finished. I want to congratulate you on such a great first novel. It was so beautifully constructed. I would like to know before our book club meeting just how much of the story is fact? Obviously, the murder etc was, but was the story of Cliff also from fact?
I gather your husband is the grandson of Harold and maybe the son of Peggy? Also, did Vonny recover enough to lead a normal life? and what of Lillian did she ever remarry? Also, was the Store burnt down or was this fiction?
You can see this book has really got to me, I just loved it!

Laurel Kerrigan, Morley

 I recently purchased Secrets Mothers Keep which you kindly signed for me recently at the Fremantle Chilli Festival. I haven't actually had time to read it but my 87-year-old Mum has.
She thoroughly enjoyed it and read it over two days. So many things reminded of her own father's life. Mum was diagnosed with blood cancer a few days previous to her reading the book so it has given her something to distract her for a few hours as she has declined treatment.
Having always been an avid reader, she hasn't read much lately but she is now back to reading other books on her shelf. Thank you for writing the book and giving my dear Mum such pleasure.
I too will read your book very soon.


 I just had to let you know that I thought the book was beyond brilliant! It is one of the most well-researched pieces of " faction" that I have ever read ..I spent hours on Trove looking up newspaper accounts and also on Ancestry.com .....I became slightly obsessed actually and had to work hard to refocus on my own research journey! Anyhow, looking forward to your next offering Linda ...your writing style makes for easy and fabulous reading. I just loved this story and I can't wait for your next one.

Warmest regards,
Jan Creyk, Kalbarri

I just finished your book 'Secrets Mothers Keep' and I must say, for a first book, it was really really well put together.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, although it was sad. I always liked books based on a true story, even if some parts are fiction.
I liked the way you start with Cliff's childhood in Leeds, it made it so much more personal.
And the way you describe Perth in the 1920's and the trains and farms, etc..
It was a really good read Linda, and I have passed it on to my colleagues who I know will enjoy it too.

Myriam Glorieux, Geraldton Visitor Centre

My daughter Beth gave me you book 'Secrets Mothers Keep' for my Xmas present and she had you sign it for me. I have just finished reading it and I was amazed at your writings as it kept me suspended to the very end. I will look forward to many more of your books.

Josephine Currell 10/1/14

I have just finished reading your book 'Secrets Mothers Keep'. I would just like to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. I loved the way you included so much history of that era and what people's lives would have been like at that time. You allowed me to feel like I was a fly on the wall in good times and bad. I loved the way you built your story line and slowly molded the background to the unravelling story. Becoming very involved in the book was easy with your great ability to include the human emotions into your story and prove that human nature never dates. Congratulations, you should be very proud of this fantastic book. Loved it and cannot wait to recommend it to my friends

Shelley Powell – Northampton