Chris Gardner

The joys of self-publishing.



not guilty 2014 coverblog

(Non-fiction) Camellia McCluskey was a mother of three young children and a de facto wife in 1910, when such behaviour was not socially acceptable. When she realised her partner had another mistress she threatened to harm herself and her children, but he ignored her. With an axe and a kitchen knife, she brutally murdered their children–twins aged two and much-loved four-year old Dolly.

Excerpt: Note from Camellia.


F. G. McDonald

Now you will be satisfied you double died traitorous hound. Yes, you tell me your lies and excuses as you have been this past few months. May your life be a curse to you, yes I curse you, you dog, and the day I ever took up with you, that is all. May every misfortune befall you. You will say I am mad, but I am not … not no such thing. I am desperate. There is this bill and Hewitts and the Bakers and Hargreaves the milkman.”

This review is from: Not Guilty (Kindle Edition)

Amazon Verified Purchase By Vickie – See all my reviews

I would recommend this book to anybody who likes true crime books. I like that it takes place in the early 1900’s and it’s very interesting to see how attitudes toward women committing such crimes have changed since then. I’ve enjoyed every page turning minute.

4.0 out of 5 stars Shocking Crime but do you agree with the verdict?

I chose this book because of my interest in historical crime, particularly those committed by women. Society, prefers to view the women as nurturing, caring and delicate. When a woman is violent it challenges that view and there is a need to find a cause, someone or something else to blame.

In 1910 Camellia McCluskey murdered her three young children; Dorothy, Ida and Eric using a shocking amount of violence. This book examines the documents relating to her trial in Bendigo, Australia.

Christine Gardner uses the reports in the newspapers along with the documents from the trial to invite the reader to decide whether the verdict reached by the courts was a just one. I like to read the contemporary views of the time, after all the newspapers reflected what the local community of the time were saying. Both the court and the papers were keen on working out what would motivate a mother to behave as she did and her common-law husband George’s behaviour was put under the spotlight. Camellia and George’s relationship was fraught to say the least so there was plenty for the community to mull over.

This is a short book that presents the evidence in a factual manner although I did feel the author did occasionally slip at times leading the reader to come round to her view of the Camellia, although having read the later evidence once Camellia was out of sight of the judge, I think most people would be in agreement with her.

This wasn’t a case that I had come across before and I found this book an interesting and informative read, although it the death of those poor children was particularly shocking.

More info on Not Guilty

Not Guilty in UK


new the inheritance cover

Jo has it all: a great career, a handsome life partner–but then suddenly everything changes. When Tim leaves her, for a younger woman, suddenly her world crumbles; it seems her salvation has come when a favourite uncle dies and leaves her his quaint country cottage. A new life awaits her, but at what cost?

Busker put a paw on the doorknob and Frank noticed the deep scratch marks on the door as well as the stains on the dog’s broken claws. He saw the patches of dried blood on Busker’s back. Now he was truly afraid. He tried the door knob and then looked around to see if any windows were open. He knew he had no chance of breaking his way through the solid old doors. He had to try one of the windows. He picked up the shovel in the front garden and swung it as hard as he could against the lounge room window. The noise as the window shattered into shards of glass and splinters of wood sounded like an explosion, but there was no reaction from inside the cottage. 
Review is for Inheritance which is the same book–this 2nd edition, The Inheritance, has a new cover.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 28 Feb 2013

Absolutely brilliant book. Looked forward to reading it every evening. Expected the book to be quite predictable but that was not the case. Really recommended.

on August 18, 2015
I downloaded this when it was free on my kindle not realising I’d read this story before but when it had a different cover. I loved it when I read it awhile back and I love it now. It’s an incredibly easy, enjoyable read with some surprisingly dark and creepy undertones. Highly recommended!

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Chris Gardner must be psychic cos the cat in this book (Chelsea) is SSSSOOOOOO my cat Salem as in, he thinks it’s HIS house, I’m HIS slave, HE’S doing ME a favour by being here and is far more superior than any other being oh and is VERY over opinionated!! But back to the book.. I’m not normally one who likes stories that too and fro from one era to another but I really enjoyed this one. I did ask myself if Jo’s uncle knew the history of his cottage before leaving it to her but then realized the cottage was more central to women. Would love to see a follow-up.

The Inheritance on

The Inheritance on


Set in the 25th century, Sanctuary tells the story of two very different civilizations: the Centrals, underground dwellers who lead a primitive existence and the Thrallians, who are a much more advanced people, most of whom are unaware of the existence of the Centrals. When two young Thrallians, Derek and Patric, discover the secret they also uncover a plot by their own leaders and find their comfortable way of life is not quite what they thought.sanctuary cover 2014


‘No, this time it’s for real. You’ve heard about the Moles?’

‘Oh, come on, Derek. That old story. Everyone knows that’s a nursery tale. People living underground just outside the city? What kind of people would live underground? It’s ridiculous.’

‘It might be ridiculous, but what would you say if you saw a girl with blue eyes and yellow hair?’

Patric looked up quickly, trying to catch Derek with a silly smirk on his face, but his friend looked serious.

‘Where?’ he asked.



Robert rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Anyone interested in “After the apocalypse”

Recommended to Robert by: Amazon

I was drawn into this descriptive book very easily! The characters you could imagine very clearly, and once I finished reading it I was wishing it would last a lot longer! It was nail bitingly tense at times, and a lot of thought had gone into the story! Very easy to get swept up in the pages!

More info on Sanctuary

Sanctuary in UK



The city has been destroyed and food supplies are dwindling fast for the survivors. Sam is convinced their only hope is to leave–to look elsewhere for a new home,  but, to do that,  he and his family and friends must risk their lives and face the outlaw gangs who prey on the unwary.



‘Ow! You little shit!’ One of Sam’s desperate kicks had actually scored a hit on Tommo’s leg and he was furious. He began to systematically punch Sam now, every blow connecting perfectly. The other boys stood back and watched. They knew enough to stay out of Tommo’s way when he was like this. There was something frighteningly robotic about the way he fought, like a mindless punching machine, although his face was bright red with anger as well as exertion. Each punch now landed on top of a previous injury and most were aimed at Sam’s stomach. He was having trouble catching his breath and he felt sure his life was about to end.

This review is from: Last Chance (Kindle Edition) Amazon Verified Purchase

By Debra Bartlett “Debi Bartlett” (Utah) – See all my reviews (REAL NAME)

This was an excellent read and I look forward to reading the next book. She did an awesome job of keeping me intrigued.

5.0 out of 5 stars Last Chance I thought was a very clean reads and full of fun!
on February 6, 2016
Wow!! What a story with some adventure and a bit of mystery in it too. It also has a happy ending as well. Not really any real visual pictures but I felt that this author made the reader be able to see a lot of what was going on it this story. So, I would like to recommend this ebook for five stars and for kids ages 9-12. Who loves adventures and a look into what could happen in the future. I received this ebook for free and in return, now is my honest review. Great work Christine! By Angela

More info on Last Chance

Last Chance in UK


Beast_of_War_Cover_for_KindleSomething is wrong on the island of Breeland. The river is drying up and there’s a prophecy of doom and destruction; a prophecy the young people of the three different races of the island take no notice of. Until one from each tribe is told they must venture to the den of the beast who threatens their very existence and that of all the peoples of the island. They must put aside their differences and work together, using the magical powers given to them each, of air, earth and fire.


The creature was rising up from the mud when she saw it. Its head appeared first, so well covered in mud only the teeth were showing. They were long, green fangs and seemed to somehow glow in the darkness, dripping with some kind of mucousy liquid. It shook itself and as the mud flew off, she saw the row of horns running from the tip of its broad, open nostrils along the top of its head and disappearing down its back. As it emerged further and began to slosh its way towards them she saw a long tail, covered in lethal-looking spikes, which the creature swirled around in all directions. It ran equally fast on four legs or two, and its front legs had long sharp claws. It made no sound at all. Its eyes, which matched its teeth in colour and luminescence, but included a red pus-oozing centre, were focused directly on Terrus.

This review is from: Beast of War (Kindle Edition) By Berlin F. Atlas – See all my reviews

Full of imagination and creativity. I highly recommend this book to all children regardless of their age.
This fantasy universe called Breeland is worth discovering.

on November 21, 2013
I really appreciated the message of the book, that unity is the only solution to world problems. If only this could work in the real world. The characters in the book, each a fanciful creature from three different cultures, overcome their disdain for each other and pull together to solve a problem that could destroy all of them. Their interaction is witty and amusing, reminiscent of human teenagers, and each one brings a quality to the group that is necessary for the whole to function. Thoughtful readers will enjoy it the most!

More info on Beast of War

Beast of War UK


A random collection of short stories: A man paints himself blue; an elderly woman devotes her life to caring for homeless kids; a young man’s life is changed by his encounter with a stray dog and other stories both inspirational and quirky.


Excerpt from Runt of the Litter:

Eliza sat as still as she could, given her frail little body was shaking. She knew her dress was too short but Ma always said there was no money for fabric to make another. Tears rolled down her cheeks but she made no sound; she knew better than to make a fuss. Nonetheless his rough and enormous hand swiped across her face and Bridget stood up, shocked into action.

“Jamie!” She held her sobbing daughter to her chest and the tiny kitchen was suddenly filled with boys and noise and chaos and they were all yelling and they were not boys any more. 

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars September 10, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
again the way u look at life keeps me reading ever time–i look forward to your books.

More info on Connections

Connections UK


STONY CREEK (Book 1, Red Dust Series)

Laura Prescott is a city girl. She lives in Melbourne and enjoys the life of a single girl in 1970, with no intention of marrying any time soon, if at all. She has no desire to live the life she sees her mother has, with a house full of children. Things change suddenly after she loses her job and she finds herself this onefaced with very different choices. She finds a new life in the outback, with a new kind of love and a new kind of pain.


Suddenly everything went haywire. The tractor jerked to the left in a whirl of dust and almost wiped out a fence. Some startled sheep in the next paddock sounded their protest and scuttled away from the noise and dust; a flock of cockatoos shrieked at me as they left their perch on a nearby gum tree.  I hit both brakes then and put my head down on the steering wheel.

In no time at all Jack was beside me on one of the motorbikes, Patch running along behind. “Laura? Are you okay?”

I felt like such an idiot. I knew immediately what I’d done wrong and I had hoped no-one, least of all Jack, was still watching.

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant March 18, 2014


Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase

I found this an exciting read that could be taken as a non fiction story. I was actually drawn into the story and all credibility must go to the author for her ability to hold your interest throughout the entire story.; Definitely worth the read and I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys outback situation stories.

Amazon UK

THE ROAD TO KARINYA (Book 2, Red Dust Series)

book2 karinya ebook

Prue King is nineteen and lives on Karinya Station, one of seven girls. She and her friend Sally decide to go on the adventure of a live time—a road trip, right around Australia. Neither Prue nor Sally is in any hurry to settle down, unlike some girls their age. They want to see the country and be independent. When they meet brothers Dan and Steve on the Sunshine Coast Prue is stunned by her feelings for him, but her plans remain the same. She and Sally are determined to get to Perth where they will live for at least a few months and decide what their futures hold. When the girls leave the brothers behind though, a horrifying experience will change their plans and their lives, perhaps forever.

The Road to Karinya also tells the story of Ellie, Prue’s mother. Ellie is a beautiful young woman living in wartime Adelaide when she meets Keith. It’s love at first sight for her, but she’s not sure how Keith feels, even after they marry. Karinya Station is his first love and Ellie will have to leave her family and her life in the city and contend with the loneliness of the outback. Ellie’s story begins in 1941 while Prue’s is set in the 70s.

Excerpt from ‘The Road to Karinya’:

The bedroom was plain and clearly a spare room, but comfortable enough, with two single beds and a small dressing table in between. We were both very pleased to find a lock on the door; I’d been prepared to jam a chair under the doorknob which would have been awkward since there were no chairs in the room. I’d have had to ask our generous hostess if I could borrow a chair from the kitchen just in case any of her sons were unable to control their lust during the night. It was ridiculous, I knew. We were safe and those boys were gentlemen, not rapists, but the lock on the door would help us sleep.

By Noreen on May 27, 2015

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

Very interesting story…seemed so real and honest. There was so much about AUSTRALIA itself. I like anything about AUSTRALIA, but this book did describe so much about the land and it’s people…brought everything and everyone to life. Is there a third one??

Amazon UK

RED WINE AND SUMMER STORMS (Book 3, Red Dust Series)

Australia, 1985

After a painful breakup with her long term boyfriend, lawyer Clare Sutton moves to Mildura to open her own practice not too far from Karinya Station, where her brother lives with his family. She’s thrilled to have her own office, even if she spends most of her days with paperwork, and is not looking for any romantic attachments.

On a visit to Karinya she meSunset Vineyardets Max Fraser, grape grower and budding wine maker. They become friends and he protects her on more than one occasion, because someone is stalking her, and although Clare’s work involves contact with criminals, at first she doesn’t take it seriously. It’s not long before her feelings for Max become more than friendship, but is it the kind of relationship that her brother has with his wife Prue? The kind that will last a lifetime?

In 1923, Fern is fresh from Sydney with her new husband, returned soldier George, to start a new life on a citrus orchard in Curlwaa. Their life is filled with hardships but their lo
ve for each other never dies and Fern has no regrets.

In 1985, now a widow, Fern lives in Mildura, next-door to Clare, and they become good friends. Estranged from her remaining family Fern looks on Clare almost as a daughter and becomes worried about her when she realises someone is watching her.

Readers of the other books in the Red Dust Series will know Clare and her family from ‘The Road to Karinya’, but each book can be read as a stand alone novel.

Excerpt: He had Prue in his arms by then and they were both grinning like Cheshire cats, clearly as happy in each other’s company as always. I was vaguely aware someone else was hovering in the doorway and I looked up to see who it was.

“Sorry Max!” Dan said and he gestured to the man to come in. “This is my beautiful baby sister, Clare.”

Max wasn’t my type, I thought immediately, which wasn’t a bad thing since I certainly wasn’t looking. He was gorgeous, but I preferred the leaner type, or, as friends at uni had said, I liked them lean and mean. Max, in his navy singlet and jeans, was all muscle. And very blue eyes. He was tall enough though and his hair was okay, sort of mousy blond—all in all he was a man who probably didn’t look as good in a suit as Pete did but then if Pete stood next to him in jeans and a singlet—well, that would just be hilarious. He’d look like a string bean. Max coughed and grinned and I realised I’d been staring at him—measuring him up like beefcake!

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase



After growing up in the outback, with dreams of travel and independence, Milly at last has a career and an income of her own. She finds herself increasingly attracted to her employer, George, an older man who is separated from his wife. Their affair is scandalous enough in their small community but what it eventually leads to will horrify thousands.
Her Flesh and Blood is a mix of fiction and non-fiction, inspired by a murder trial in Bendigo, Australia, in 1910.


Truth, August 20, 1910.

McDonald engaged her as his bookkeeper and amanuensis. He drew her slowly but surely within HIS LECHEROUS TOILS, just as the spider of the fable endeavoured to entice the fly into its webby parlour. Camellia was not as astute as the fly. She listened to the hypocrite’s sweet nothings, and she stayed with him in his office when other employees had departed. She sat with him on the fateful armchair, where billing and cooing was indulged in with the inevitable result. She returned to her home one evening no longer a virgin.

Amazon UK



On a hot summer evening a group of bored teens decide to have a séance ; it’s the sixties and they’re country kids just having a bit of fun. Everyone knows it’s just nonsense, don’t they? If someone is hurt, someone they don’t like, it can’t be anything to do with them, can it?


We all looked then, at the little Vegemite glass on the table. No-one was touching that glass, but it was moving. In small circles it moved around and around, waiting, waiting for us to join in again. Waiting patiently, or impatiently, how could you tell? Waiting for us to again give it a voice.

5.0 out of 5 stars Read in one go, 30 May 2014 AMAZON UK

This review is from: Dark Innocence (Kindle Edition)

A longish short story really – but just as well, as I had to finish it in one sitting. A plot with a twist that rose naturally from the believable teenage characters and their relationship.

Amazon UK


chilli-great hunter

Three stories for primary school children: Runaway Teddy is the tale of a grumpy teddy bear who escapes from a toy store where he’s scared of the dinosaurs and fed up with being poked by children; Didie Wakes Up is about a baby clay dragon who, although very timid, manages to foil a burglary one night while she’s home alone and Chilli The Great Hunter is about a much-loved family cat who loves to hunt mice and birds until she learns her lesson.
The stories are told with humour and each main character, whether a grumpy teddy bear or a frightened dragon, shows courage and learns their true capabilities. Children who are competent readers can read these stories alone or they can be read to younger children by their parents.

Excerpt from Didie Wakes Up:

Didie was a very contented dragon. So contented that she slept all the time. Well, nearly all the time. Sometimes she just pretended. She had no desire to move, and never had, in all her three years. Of course she was made of clay, which had quite a lot to do with it. She lived on top of the heater in the Johnson family’s lounge-room, where she was very snug and warm and comfortable. She thought she always would be. Until one very surprising night . . .

Five Stars

on September 10, 2014

Format: Kindle Edition

love these christine—your greatest talent is in your imagination and that is rare
 Two stories for primary school children. ‘I’m Starving, Mum’ is an adventure packed story of ten year old Billy, who is left alone on a train and undergoes all kinds of problems before he finds his mother again. ‘No-one’s Good at Everything’ is about 9 year old Sophie who’s not good at sport, unlike all her friends and family. But she is good at something.

Excerpt from ‘I’m Starving, Mum’:

“My mum has my ticket, and she’s disappeared!”

“Oho! I think we have a stowaway! ” The conductor took Billy to the front of the train and spoke to the driver. “This young lad doesn’t have a ticket. Reckons his mum’s made off with it!”

The driver laughed. “I’ve heard of missing kids, but never a missing mum. You’ll have to come up with a better story than that, young fellow. You can’t go travelling around the country-side on a train without buying a ticket you know.”



A Thesis on Infanticide and Child Murder in Australia in the Early 20th Century, which will be of particular relevance to students, but the subject matter is compelling for anyone interested in social history.

The subjects of my study are all single rural women who killed their children between 1910 and 1916, although two of them went to Melbourne to give birth. I will examine three cases involving young mothers killing infants and one case involving an older mother in a de-facto relationship who killed her three children. All four women were from rural areas, but from varying social classes. In only one case was the perpetrator found guilty and sentenced to death. There was a strong recommendation of mercy because of her youth and she was freed on probation. In three cases the juries found the women not guilty. I will also investigate what drove these mothers to kill their children. Were they unable to cope with the social stigma of illegitimacy, or were there other economic and social pressures which led to their actions?

2 thoughts on “Books

  1. Chris, like your- book covers. Did you design them yourself?

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