Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Writers on Wednesday: Alli Sinclair

Welcome to another great Writers on Wednesday interview. This week, I am lucky enough to be chatting with Australian author Alli Sinclair, whose second novel Under the Spanish Stars has just been released. 

Tell me a bit about yourself …

I’m an adventurer at heart and have been lucky enough to visit and live in some amazing parts of the world. I worked as a mountain climbing guide for a few seasons in the Andes and have always had a fascination for exotic destinations, cultures, and languages. My next adventure is never far from my mind, and these days I get to share them with my partner and two children.

Tell me about your most recently published book?

Under the Spanish Stars (published by Harlequin MIRA)

When Charlotte Kavanagh travels to Spain, the land of her ancestors, to discover the mystery behind her grandmother’s painting, she uncovers decades of lies and deception that lead her to question the true meaning of heritage, family, and love.

Under the Spanish Stars is set in beautiful and historic Granada in southern Spain. It gives a taste of flamenco and the gypsy culture, while delving into the turbulent history of Spain in the 1930s and 40s. This book will appeal to anyone who enjoys multi-generational stories that explores the relationships between family, lovers, and self as well readers who enjoy reading stories set in foreign destinations, romance, adventure and a twist of mystery.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

My first novel, Luna Tango, came out in 2014 and I will never forget the day I walked into the local bookstore and saw it on the shelves for the first time. I stared at my book baby in the New Releases section and got all teary. The lovely staff at the book shop thought I was upset and asked if I was okay but when I explained the reason for my tears (of happiness!) they offered to take lots of photos and congratulated me and made a big fuss. After ten years of dreaming about seeing my book on shelves it was lovely to celebrate with such wonderful people (who are now good friends).

As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?

Holding a book I’ve written in my hands! It was a surreal moment and one I’ll never forget.

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?
I’m writing an Australian historical at the moment which is quite the departure from my first two books. But there’s that lovely international flavour with a very gorgeous Italian immigrant, so my love for other cultures will be woven into this storyline.

Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?

I actually like both. I love the fact I can load multiple books on my iPad when I travel (instead of lugging books that take up valuable suitcase space), but I also like the tactile rush of turning paper pages. So, really, I have a foot in both camps!

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

There is definitely room for both Indie and Traditional publishing. If someone has a story to tell, it doesn’t matter how they get it out there, the important thing is people get a chance to experience the worlds and characters a writer creates.

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

Oooh, that is tough! I believe that books are subjective so I don’t think there is any one book for everybody. My personal favourite is A SUITABLE BOY by Vikram Seth. It’s set in India and has an amazing cast of characters, some amazing conflict, a tragic love story or two, and lots of rich culture. Given it is almost 1500 pages (in soft cover), it’s a major undertaking but totally worth the investment of time and effort.

Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

Hello from Geelong! My dad is from Adelaide and I still have family in gorgeous Adelaide. We used to travel there nearly every school holidays to hang with my dad’s side of the family and I’ve lost track of how many times I have been there! These days I take my own family over for regular visits. I’m very much looking forward to see Adelaide readers in August when I will be there for the Australian Romance Readers Association book signing (keep an eye out for details!


Published by Harlequin MIRA (Australia)

Under the Spanish Stars is available in print and e-book.




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Alli has a FREE prequel to Under the Spanish Stars available. Links are here:

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Review: Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick

Author Becca Fitzpatrick's latest release is an intriguing, page turning tale about a young woman who is one part spoiled, one part neglected, who finds herself in witness protection. Stella Gordon (as she becomes known,) is the star witness of a terrible crime and to keep her safe, the police have sent her to stay in a small town in Nebraska to live with Carmina, a no-nonsense retired former cop. In Thunder Basin, trouble comes in all kinds of forms--from Stella's feelings for the gorgeous boy next door, to the local bully, who may be a part of her undoing. But the most dangerous lie of all--well, that's for the reader to discover.

For me, Dangerous Lies was, initially, one of those books the kind that I pass on by because it didn't look like the sort of book that would appeal. Anyway, I later picked it up cheap from a bookshop that was having a closing down sale, and I ended up compulsively gobbling the whole thing up in the course of an evening. There were a number of twists and turns that kept me guessing. As for Stella, while she was far from perfect, she was most definitely interesting to read about. 


Monday, 8 February 2016

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

This clever mural lives on Halifax Street, about midway between Pulteney Street and King William Street. It looks out onto a lane way and is the kind of thing that you could easily miss if you blinked. If you look more closely, however ...

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Customer Outrage At Supermarket Opening Times

NOWHERESVILLE, AUSTRALIA--Sam Sharman, a local resident and former shopper at the Nowheresville Independent Supermarket was outraged when he was refused service one hour after the store had closed. "I knew that the doors were locked, but I could see that there were people inside," he told our reporter. "So I did what any normal person who required bread, milk and smokes at ten o'clock on a weekday evening would do, and started banging on the door. The staff very rudely ignored me. I thought that it was bloody disgusting! I mean don't they want my money?"

A spokesperson from the Nowheresville Independent Supermarket explained that the store was already open the maximum number of hours allowed for a store of their size in South Australia. "We are not allowed to continue trading after nine pm, it is as simple as that," the spokesperson explained. "State legislation requires us to close at nine pm and we are not permitted to open our doors again until midnight. Despite Mr Sharman's claims, we do not have some kind of a personal vendetta against him, or his money, however, we cannot lawfully serve him if he bangs on the doors an hour after closing time. And even if we had opened the doors, I doubt that it would have done much good, as the tills were all locked away at that point, and the only staff on hand were the cleaners."

"That's bullshit!" Mr Sharman told our reporters. "I'm a paying customer, so therefore I should get what I want, when I want it, no matter how absurd or illegal my request may be. If I go into a hardware shop and ask someone to make me a hotdog, then they can make me a fucking hotdog, none of this, 'we only sell nails here, Sir,' shit which is what I have to put up with every time I walk inside the Nowheresville Hardware Centre. And don't get me started on what happened when I walked inside the Nowheresville Library and asked if I could use some of the books and magazines from their history collection as toilet paper."

At this point, Mr Sharman stopped the interview to demand that our reporter make him a sandwich. He was promptly told to fuck off, and the interview was terminated. Mr Sharman is now seeking damages after suffering such a traumatic experience ...

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Friday, 5 February 2016

Friday Funnies: A Frog in my Throat

Okay. I'm not sure that any of us need to know what Miss Piggy and got up to last night. Actually, I have no idea what she got up to last night, but clearly it didn't involve going to the supermarket to buy a packet of butter menthols ...

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Review: Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix

Newt's Emerald by Australian author, Garth Nix, is a clever tribute to those old Georgette Heyer regency romances ... with a very magical twist. Lady Truthful Newington has just come of age when tragedy strikes--the Newington Emerald has been stolen! To get it back, Truthful comes up with a clever ploy. Whilst in London for her first 'season' she will carry a disguise--that of a man, so that she can look search for the emerald. Lady Truthful soon finds herself balancing duel roles and in all sorts of dangerous situations. Can she rescue the emerald back from the clutches of an evil sorceress and save all of England? And more importantly, is there romance in the air?

Newt's Emerald can be summed up in a couple of words, terrific fun. There may not be a lot of depth to this story, but there does not need to be, instead it is better just to let the story carry you away. There are numerous convenient plot twists, dastardly villains, banter between the heroine and her love interest and a fitting end. And the whole thing works, simply because it never takes itself too seriously, nor makes fun of the genre. 

Highly recommended.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2016

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Review: Suite Française by Irene Némirovsky

Written by a woman of Russain Jewish origin who was living (and later, hiding,) in France during German occupation, Suite Française remained undiscovered and unpublished until the early twentieth century--sixty years after Némirovsky suffered a terrible fate inside Auschwitz. The book comprises of two nearly-finished novels that were intended as part of a five part series. The first book, Storm in June tells the interwoven stories of four different groups as they flee Paris as German forces invade and some of the cruel realities of war and their situation--at one point Madame Péricand literally forgets her ill and ailing father-in-law and leaves him behind in her attempts to find a safe place for herself and her children. The main players in this feature are the Péricand family, Madame Péricand, her father-in-law and her children including seventeen year old Hector who is desperate to join the armed forces and fight for his country. A parallel story features oldest son, Father Péricand who is a priest and lands the job of transporting a group of orphan boys to safety, a task that has an ending that is as tragic as it is gruesome. Meanwhile, an older couple, the Michards travel through France not knowing whether their son, Jean-Marie is dead or alive, and suffer a gross betrayal at the hands of their employer. Charles Langlet tricks people as he fights to survive and arrogant author Gabriel Courte manages to get the best of everything. And most (not all) make it back to France and life goes on, though perhaps not so nicely or as happily as before.

The second part of the book Dolice is set in the French countryside and is a love story of sorts, with a young, married Frenchwoman falling in love (against her wishes,) with the German officer who is billeted to her home. Initially the pair would seem to have little in common, then, it seems they have everything in common until circumstance proves that they can never truly see eye to eye. The film version of the book is mostly concerned with this part of the novel, though the ending is slightly different, as the was intended to lead on to a third volume that never eventuated.

As is often the case books that are translated, I struggled in places and found the language to be a bit limited and boring. The first part of the book had some great moments, some gory moments and some dull moments, though I think that it truly captured the reality of war and what humans will sometimes do to one another in their desperation to find a safe place. The second part poses the question of whether enemies can ever really be friends, or even lovers, and it also examines the reality that love cannot always conquer all.

I enjoyed reading this one, though it took me a while to get through (the print in my copy was painfully small, leaving me to wish that I had bought it as an eBook instead.)

Filled with painful, and often deep, questions and observations.