Book Recommendation ~ Unlocked: A Love Story by Karen Kingsbury

Book Description:

Before You Take a Stand … You Got to Take a Chance. Holden Harris is an eighteen-year-old locked in a prison of autism. Despite his quiet ways and quirky behaviors, Holden is very happy and socially normal—on the inside, in a private world all his own. In reality, he is bullied at school by kids who only see that he is very different. Ella Reynolds is part of the ‘in’ crowd. A cheerleader and star of the high school drama production, her life seems perfect. When she catches Holden listening to her rehearse for the school play, she is drawn to him … the way he is drawn to the music. Then, Ella makes a dramatic discovery—she and Holden were best friends as children. Frustrated by the way Holden is bullied, and horrified at the indifference of her peers, Ella decides to take a stand against the most privileged and popular kids at school. Including her boyfriend, Jake. Ella believes miracles can happen in the unlikeliest places, and that just maybe an entire community might celebrate from the sidelines. But will Holden’s praying mother and the efforts of Ella and a cast of theater kids be enough to unlock the prison that contains Holden? This time, friendship, faith, and the power of a song must be strong enough to open the doors to the miracle Holden needs.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this inspiring story. We gain an insight into Holden’s world and how his autism, which significantly limits his communication, impacts his family. It also highlights the lack of understanding of Holden’s peers when he is in a mainstream school environment. And offers a sad reflection of human nature when the kids who supposedly have everything feel the need to belittle and bully kids who are unable to defend themselves.

The author’s reader letter provides us with the background on the real life story of a young autistic boy who inspired this story. Ella is a courageous teen who isn’t afraid to stand up for what is right and be a voice for those less privileged than herself. I recommend this book to those looking for an encouraging story about how faith can lead to breakthroughs and healing in situations that seem dire and hopeless.

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Friday Weekend Escape to Brisbane, Australia with Lynne Stringer

Today we’re escaping for the weekend with my author friend, Lynne Stringer, to Brisbane, Australia. Lynne is giving us a tour of the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in her home city. Enjoy!

By Lynne Stringer

Many overseas visitors to Australia usually focus on Sydney or the outback. However, Brisbane, the capital of the state of Queensland, is well worth a visit.

Having lived in Brisbane for most of my life, I know that it has numerous attractions and one has charmed me since I was a child, and that is Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

Lone Pine was founded in 1927 and my first visit was when I was five, as you see here. At that age, I was already fascinated by kangaroos and I loved the open enclosure where visitors could feed and pat them.

Lynne - Lone Pine 1976

Having enjoyed it so much as a child, I had no hesitation in taking my son to Lone Pine. We have been several times and still enjoy the kangaroo enclosure.

Kaden kangaroo

Lone Pine has added new exhibits in recent years, such as sheep herding and shearing. Their dogs are skilled and we enjoyed seeing them in action.

sheep herding

Another new exhibit featured birds of prey, including this beautiful White Bellied Sea Eagle. Afterwards she was brought over by her handler so that visitors could see her up close.

White Bellied Sea Eagle

Of course, a visit to Lone Pine would be amiss without a photo cuddling a koala. Koala cuddling is banned in some places in Australia, but not at Lone Pine. My son and I were only too happy to participate.

Lone Pine Lynne and Kaden

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is smaller than some other zoos around but I think this is to its advantage, as it means we can get up closer to the animals and their handlers. It’s definitely on our list of one of our favourite family destinations.


Sarah hates the prestigious high school she attends. Most of the other students ignore her. The only good thing about school is the presence of Dan Bradfield, the boy she adores. Dan is the heir to his father’s multinational computer company, but he is dating Sarah’s best friend, Jillian. When tragedy strikes, Dan is the one who is there for Sarah, but she can’t shake the feeling there is something strange about him. Is he protecting her from something? Is there something going on that she doesn’t know about? And did she really see a monster in the bushes? Sarah is desperate to uncover the truth, but it could take her to another galaxy, and change everything she believes about who she is. Will it bring Dan and Sarah closer together or tear them apart? The Heir is the first book in the Verindon Trilogy.


LYNNE STRINGER has been passionate about writing all her life, beginning with short stories in her primary school days. She began writing professionally as a journalist and was the editor of a small newspaper (later magazine) for seven years, before turning her hand to screenplay writing and novels. Lynne currently works as a professional editor and proofreader. She lives in Australia with her husband and young son.