Thursday, 24 April 2014

Review: Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey

First and Foremost, a big shout out to The Reading Room and Penguin Books Australia for my free review copy. Thanks folks, you did not disappoint.

Only the Animals is, perhaps, one of the most unusual collections of short stories that I have read in quite some time. Each story is told from the perspective of a different animal and tells a little bit about their lives (and their deaths,) and unique relationships with humans, using various points in modern history as a backdrop. The opening story is told from the perspective of a camel who is travelling through outback Australia in the company of none other than Henry Lawson. Another story (my personal favourite,) is set in France and told from the perspective of a cat that once belonged to French author, Colette. And then there is a dolphin who writes a letter to Sylvia Plath ... (Does anyone else sense a bit of a theme here?) More than that, Only the Animals also offers a unique insight into human nature and, sadly, the sheer magnitude of human brutality.

I enjoyed reading this collection, though I felt that while each story was very well written, some drew me in and held my attention far more readily than others. This one is recommended for that moment when you want to be delighted by a short and unique tale or two. (Or should that be tail ...)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Writers On Wednesday: Dale Lorna Jacobsen

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I put my questions to Aussie author Dale Lorna Jacobsen ...

Tell me a bit about yourself …

I am a freelance writer (the best kind) and write out of my little hut in the bush outside Maleny, South-east Queensland. I divide my time between feature writing for The Sunshine Coast Hinterland Times (a high-quality magazine, even if I do say so myself) and creative writing (ie, books). I used to do research and writing for Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, until we had a change of government. I was one of those contract workers who missed out. The undoubted highlight of my life happened in 2013 when I fulfilled a life-long dream to visit Antarctica. I took part in a 32-day expedition to the Ross Sea, with the wonderful Greg Mortimer – Australian mountaineer, adventurer and geologist.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

Yenohan’s Legacy
ISBN 9781921369414
Horizon Publishing Group (2013)

Yenohan's Legacy celebrates the often unrecognised efforts of members of the Kosciuszko Huts Association (KHA) who restore, not only our history, but beautiful huts which serve as a refuge for walkers and riders who roam the high country. It also tells of the grass-roots battlers who ran sheep and cattle in the most beautiful country in Australia. Underlying this history are the often-tragic tales of the Traditional Owners forced from their homeland. These strands are pulled together in the novel, Yenohan's Legacy.

In researching this story, I took advantage of the superb collection at the National Library of Australia, and visited people who had once run their own sheep and cattle in what was to become Namadgi National Park. I camped where Fran camped, travelled the trails she travelled, and fell in love with many rustic huts the early settlers called home. The Aboriginal Liaison Officer from NSW Parks and Wildlife Service handed my manuscript to two women Elders from the Wolgal nation who wholeheartedly approved of my use of Yenohan in this story.

“Yenohan's Legacy is a fascinating mix of adventure and history and follows a young woman whose life changes over the course of a weekend as she helps restore a hut in the High Country. Haunted by ghosts of previous occupants, Fran is drawn to their stories and seeks the truth - and also finds love in the process.”
- Anne Brown, Rosetta Books, Maleny

Tell us about the first time you were published?

Union Jack
ISBN 978-1876344801
CopyRight Publishing (2011)

My first book, Union Jack, was the result of 10 years’ research and writing many drafts. It was dear to my heart, as the main character, Jack O’Leary, was my grandfather. A highly political novel (unions vs ALP government in Queensland during early 1920s), I began to doubt it would find a publisher. However, CopyRight Publishers (Brisbane) were brave enough to take it on. I am pleased to say it has been very well received.

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

Being asked to speak at the Rail Tram and Bus Union’s 125th anniversary dinner, when the State Secretary purchased 45 copies of Union Jack to present to each of their councillors, so they would know a little of their union’s history.

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

I am working on two: an illustrated book on my recent (life-changing) expedition to Antarctica; a novel set in the Victorian High Country.

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

Myself, I prefer to read paper books. I like the feel of the cover, the smell of the paper, the sheer joy of going into a bookshop and seeing all those covers. It reminds me of going into libraries as a child and feeling a shiver of thrill as I approached the shelves – to choose.
However, if I was travelling for any time, I guess I would favour the convenience of ebooks.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Both my books have been through Indie Publishing, (CopyRight Publishers and Horizon Publishing Group) and I really enjoy the more personal approach. I have met the editor in both cases (not just email contact) and felt both publishers took a personal interest in my work. Admittedly, I have had to contribute in both cases, most Indie’s do partnership deals, but I think it actually works out financially ok.

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

That’s a hard one, but one stand-out book for me was Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones. It has been a few years since I read it, but it remains in my head.

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

Even though my books are site-specific (Union Jack set in Brisbane; Yenohan’s Legacy set in the High Country of southern ACT) their message is pretty universal. I write about grass-roots history, to remind people of the fights and sacrifices that have given us the freedom that we now enjoy to live in this 
beautiful country.


Union Jack is only available through my website these days, but Yenohan’s Legacy is available through me or any good bookshop, or the publishers, Horizon Publishing Group.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Review: Tip of the Tongue by Patrick Ness

Tip of the Tongue is the fifth in a year long series of eBooks released by Puffin in 2013 as a part of the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who celebrations. Each story was to feature a different incarnation of the Doctor, written by a different and well-established author of books for children and young adults. And despite catching this one rather late, I have to admit, this and the other stories prove to be one hell of a nostalgia trip for an old Whovian like myself. Consequently, I have decided to feature them all on my blog. 

The Doctor: The Fifth Doctor

The Companion: Nyssa

The Author: Patrick Ness, author of the Chaos Walking Trilogy

My Reivew: Tip of the Tonuge takes us to the United States during World War 2 where the local kids have discovered a new fad. Truth Tellers are a small product that, when placed on one's mouth, will begin to tell a series of harsh home truths about the people surrounding them. Unsurprisingly, a group of rich and spoiled mean girls are using them to their advantage. But the real heros of the story are teenage Johnny and Marisa, a pair of outcasts that help the Doctor and Nyssa to discover the real source of the truth tellers--a race who, much like mean girls, like to create negative energy and feed from it. This one is a short but truly entertaining tale.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Launching Cats, Scarves and Liars by Kathryn White + Giveaway

Today is April 21 and that means one thing ...

It's Easter Monday.

Nah, seriously, today is the official launch day for my latest novel, Cats, Scarves and Liars (you know, that one I've been going on and on about on the blog lately) and it is now available for sale in Kindle format and paperback from Amazon. Anyway, just in case you missed it, here is the cover and blurb:

Meet Peppa Grove.

Peppa is just your average Australian young woman, really. 23 years old, widowed and owner of a cat who can speak perfect English. (But no one will believe her about the cat.) Why is she being stalked by one of the customers from her job at the City South Post Office? What secrets does the mysterious Ivory Black know about Peppa and her past? What does he know about the strange murders that are happening all over Adelaide? And was it really necessary of him to steal her boyfriend's scarf?

Cats, Scarves and Liars is a quirky, offbeat thriller from a unique Australian writer. You'll laugh, you'll cry you'll discover the meaning of life. (Actually, we lied about that last part.)

And because there is nothing I love more than a good giveaway, I've organised this very awesome prize pack to go along with the launch. You can win:

~ An autographed copy of Cats, Scarves and Liars
~ A gorgeous red scarf for the villain in your life to steal. 
~ A matching pair of tights, so that you
dress just like Peppa Grove this coming winter.
(Tights are Ave/Talls, so I cannot guarantee they
will fit everyone. Or appeal to all genders.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 18 April 2014

Review: A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans

A Hopeless Romantic is a truthful tale about love and the myth of finding 'The One.' 

Laura is something of a love junkie. Or, she is a hopeless romantic, as the title suggests. Beyond all reason or common sense, she throws her heart and soul into every relationship, believing whatever man she is with at the time to be her soul mate or 'The One.' This leads to an number of heartbreaking situations, as Laura finds herself in an ill advised relationship that simply does not work. Eventually heartbroken, she swears off love and makes some important life discoveries. 

I read this one as it, and a number of titles by the same author, were loaned to me by a dear friend. I'm grateful of that, as it may not have been something that I would have discovered if I had been left to my own devices. While Laura was a little silly at times, I found her very easy to identify with. It was as pleasing as it was heartbreaking to watch her grow and gain new understandings about the nature of love, relationships and self-respect. Recommended.