Saturday, 31 January 2015

Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop Winner!


Thank you to everyone who visited my stop on the blog hop and an extra thank you to those who commented and/or enter the competition. 

And, finally, a big congratulations to the winner ... 

Dale Furse.

Thank you again to everyone who entered. Dale, your books will be arriving in the post this week.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Friday Funnies: A Used New Year



I wonder if Lucy could get a refund? Seriously, of the Peanuts gang, Lucy would appear to be the one who is not only the most reactionary and self-centred, but the one least able to apply common sense or logic to the situation at hand. (Though in some comics Sally Brown can run a close second.) Poor Charlie Brown, as usual, knows that Lucy is wrong, but seems too stunned to be able to say anything.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

1990s Nostalgia: The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith

A few years ago, the novels of L.J. Smith made a bit of a comeback thanks her series The Vampire Diaries being made into a popular television series. I can recall these books being around when I was a kid, sharing the same shelves and dark, trashy covers as books by horror YA novelists like R.L. Stine, Diane Hoh and Christopher Pike. A huge part of the appeal was always the cheap, trashy, and melodramatic feel that can probably be summed up by this cover:





Equally popular as the Vampire Diaries back in the early 1990s was the pictured L.J. Smith series The Secret Circle I was a little surprised to discover that this one has also been made into a television series recently and this intrigued me. I remembered very little about the dramatic adventures of a young woman who discovers that her destiny is to be a part of a coven of witches and decided to reread the first book just for fun. Book one, The Initiation follows the dramatic adventures a girl named Cassie who discovers her destiny is to be a part of a coven of witches. Some of the witches are nice, some are not so nice and Cassie should definitely not be falling for Adam the boyfriend of Diana, the witch who is kindest to her ...

As is often the case when I return to reading some of my favourite pulpy childhood reads, The Initiation was a bit of a let down. Although it was intelligently written and had a number of interesting turns, I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief on a number of occasions. Of course, at the time, the melodrama was a bit part of the appeal, as was the fact that every adult in the novel seemed not only distant, but completely incompetent (always a big plus when I was a kid).

There are a number of questions that remained unanswered at the end of the book, however these were probably addressed in the sequels, The Captive and The Power. I was also amused to discover when I researched this post that in 2012, twenty years after the release of The Power and to coincide with the new television series a number of books penned written by ghostwriters were added to the series. (Apparently, L.J. Smith was fired from her publisher after a dispute regarding a plot twist. Read more here.)

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Brian Kavanagh

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I am chatting with Australian author, Brian Kavanagh ...




Tell me a bit about yourself …

I’m what is known as ‘retired’ but in fact, seem to be busier than ever. I was a film maker, that being sometimes one of the following; producer, director, editor, writer and dogsbody. This was all in the Australian film industry, which up until the 1970’s had been moribund. A group of local filmmakers agitated for the Government to be supportive of the industry; our request was acknowledged and finally there was recognition for local films. So my background has been story telling in a visual form. About ten years ago work began to dry up and to fill in time until the telephone rang – it didn’t – I began to write and decided that mystery books were among my favourites, so it seemed natural to begin to write them.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

A WICKED DESIGN follows the central character in my mystery series, Belinda Lawrence, back from Europe to her home town of Melbourne, Australia. Naturally, in the tradition of mystery series, she stumbles across a crime, which in turn leads to an adventure involving unscrupulous historical facts about political life in Melbourne, and the current atmosphere surrounding the debate on Republicism verses Monarchy.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

As I said, I started writing while waiting for work. It was through the foresight of Meredith Whitford at the then Jacobite Books in Adelaide, that the first two books in my series were published. Meredith could see the potential, which others didn’t, and so I am grateful to her for offering to publish. 

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

I would have to say, when after publishing the first book CAPABLE OF MURDER over ten years ago, to see it reach #1 Best Selling Women Sleuths on Amazon Australia Kindle. It stayed in that position for about six weeks and in fact, at one point, four of my books were in the top 8 Best Sellers (July 2014) including A CANTERBURY CRIME, BLOODY HAM, A WICKED DESIGN.

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

I’m currently writing the sixth book in my Belinda Lawrence mystery series. With the working title of MURDER ON THE ISLAND it takes Belinda back to Europe and centres around an historical event. Historical happenings or items of historical importance are at the core of each mystery, but they are in contemporary settings and locations. I have another book in development THE PASSING BELL, which is not a mystery but a story of isolation and misunderstanding between siblings.

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

Both have their place and value. I tend to read contemporary fiction as eBooks and prefer Paper for classics and non-fiction.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

As I had no success with traditional publishers, Indie was a successful outlet for my books. I believe there is a shortage of entrepreneurs these days in publishing (and in the film industry) whereby publishers are driven by their own tastes rather than assessing the value of a book, realising the market for it and acting upon it. That of course is their loss, but it means that many writers are forced into Indie publishing, sometimes to their advantage.

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

Difficult call. I think Watcher On A Cast Iron Balcony by Hal Porter (indeed all of his books) is a book Australians (and others) should seek out.

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

I have fond memories of my time in Adelaide when the South Australian Film Corporation was set up by Don Dunstan. I spent a year there as Script editor, and Producer of pilot episodes for children’s TV series. I know we have a tendency to be mock critical of each other’s capital cities, but each city has its own personality and as Australians we should celebrate those differences.

Links


Paperback and eBooks;
AMAZON: http://tinyurl.com/k2bkpzs
AMAZON AU: http://tinyurl.com/ktb53tp
Book Depository:  http://tinyurl.com/pjlaacp
You don't need to own a Kindle device to enjoy my Kindle books. Download one of the #free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on all your devices. Click here to download your free Kindle reading app: http://amzn.to/19P96Gn

AUTHOR SITE: http:beekayvic.tripod.com

CV: http://filmmaker2.webs.com/

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Review: Love & Other Lies by Madeline Ash

Love & Other Lies is a thoroughly entertaining lightweight romance with a somewhat surprising backstory. Veterinarian Abby Benson moved to Belgulla, a small Australian town eighteen months ago. Putting a dark past behind her--which centres around her problems with compulsive lying--Abby is determined to make good and not to tell any more lies. All seems to be going well until tourist Rue Benson appears in town and Abby finds herself telling just one little lie ...

I loved this one for its unique premise. I found Abby to be quite a realistic and believable character, give her past and circumstances. Rue's attempts to reinvent himself to appear more desirable to Abby were quite amusing--especially as he is not terribly good at playing the part of the stereotypical 'bad' boy--and it was fun to watch the characters develop, grow and reveal the truth about themselves. The opening chapter--where Abby and Rue meet and rescue a dog that has been caught in a fence--is quite dramatic and the story then leads in to a pleasant and entertaining romance. There are also a couple of teary moments and unexpected twists and I found myself laughing and crying along with Abby and Rue.

A fun and distinctly Australian romance novel about love ... and other lies. 

Thank you to Destiny Romance/Penguin Books for supplying me an ARC via netgalley. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


This funny looking chap (or chappette,) appeared in Rundle Mall in December outside the Myer Centre (near the western entrance,) and has been frightening shoppers and passersby ever since. I am not sure that I like this one, though I do appreciate the way it forced me to react and respond.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Off Topic: Ugly? Who Cares?

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I read this article on Cosmopolitan recently and it really pissed me off. (So much so that I have decided to write a blog about it.) The story is about a young woman who has a negative self belief that she is ugly and about a bad experience at a nightclub. On the surface, this article looks like a sad story about a woman who has been discriminated against. Look a bit closer and you'll see that it is intended to inspire fear of rejection and of "being ugly" among the target readership, as well as the idea that a woman's self-worth comes from the validation of men.  

Here's a better idea. How about writing an article encouraging women to empower themselves, and how to have a good night out without giving a fuck about what other people think? In fact, here are some tips on how to be an empowered, independent woman at a nightclub:


1. Pay your own bloody entrance fee, and buy your own bloody drinks. That's called being an adult. If someone offers to buy you a drink, consider it a gift, not your right. Same as you are not obligated to kiss, dance or sleep with anyone who buys you a drink. 

2. Go out to clubs with the objective of dancing and making new friends. You are not obligated to hook up with anyone and nor are they obligated to hook up with you.

3. No one actually gives a flying fuck if you leave alone. You shouldn't care either.

4. Don't base your entire social life around clubbing. Having a range of hobbies, interests and friends and an ability to communicate with others without the aid of alcohol is what will help shape you as a person.

And, finally ...

5. The bad news is that opinions of other people are totally subjective and you cannot control their actions. You cannot force anyone to talk to you, dance with you or find you attractive. The good news is that it doesn't matter.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

2015 Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop!


For the third year running, I am participating the the Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop. Hosted by Book'd Out this blog hop is a great initiative and an awesome way to connect bloggers with some great Australian fiction. (And once you've finished here, don't forget to head to Book'd Out to see the full list of participants.)

This year, I will be giving away three prizes, all of which are books written by yours truly, mostly because I am into blatant self-promotion like that. The books are:

  • An autographed copy of Everybody Hates Abigail, my latest book which about a girl growing up in a small, South Australian town in the mid 1990s.
  • An autographed copy of Cats, Scarves and Liars, an unlikely tale that features murders, a red scarf and a talking cat.
  • An autographed copy of Behind the Scenes, which is about a young woman who scores a role on her favourite TV soap but soon discovers that the real dramas are the ones that occur behind the scenes.





Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below, and feel free to tell me in the comments section how all you awesome folk are planning to spend the Australia Day weekend. This competition is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

An action packed tale, The Mime Order is sure to please fans of Samantha Shannon's debut novel The Bone Season. Picking up where The Bone Season left off, we find Paige taking part in a daring escape back to London. But life in the criminal underworld of London is not easy for Paige, particularly when she has an employer that she cannot trust, someone is committing some gruesome murders and the government have named her as a most wanted criminal ...

The Mime Order has plenty of action with a strong fantasy element, coupled with more than the occasional nod to Victorian Literature. As was the case with The Bone Season, the most remarkable element to this book is the author's imagination and the fact that she can make many complex ideas work into an interesting and readable story. At times, the story felt as though it flowed together a bit too easily (Paige's quest to become underqueen for example,) and the meeting at the end could have been a bit meatier. I do wonder how this story can possibly extend for seven volumes, but I suppose that there may be many more twists along the way yet. But all that said, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the story as it is. 

This one was an enjoyable read and I dare say that it will be enjoyed by fans of the series, young and old. 

Finally, a big shout out to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for my review copy. Thank you very much. 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Review: Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven

The debut novel by Brisbane based writer Leisa Rayven is an amusing sexy, tale that teases readers as it moves between the past and the present to tell a story of two actors whose relationship seems every bit as doomed as the characters they play. Six years ago, Cassie Taylor and Ethan Holt met and were cast opposite one another in a student production of Romeo and Juliet. The sexual tension was obvious, but it was not long before bad boy Ethan broke Cassie's heart. Now both professional actors, Ethan and Cassie have been cast opposite one another in a Broadway production. Ethan wants Cassie to give him another chance, but Cassie is not so keen. Will she take a chance and risk Ethan breaking her heart ... again?

I enjoyed reading Bad Romeo. Though the novel was a little slow, and the time slips could be confusing at times, I found myself intrigued and wanting to know more about how Cassie and Ethan got together, and what had caused their eventual, bitter break up. (Though in this volume, the author teases us with snippets of information about what happened.) Some of the young Cassie's diary entries were quite amusing--certainly not things that I would never have dared to write or admit to (even secretly,) at that age. The Romeo and Juliet references were quite apt, considering that Cassie and Ethan were also in love and their relationship doomed to fail. 

Although some readers may disagree with me on this one, I enjoyed the way that the author portrayed Ethan. Although he may be a bit of an arsehole, he at least knows he is an arsehole. I never got the sense that he intended to lead Cassie on, or that he was eager to control, corrupt or introduce her to anything that she was not ready for, which is rare for a bad boy in contemporary romance. (Think Fifty Shades, or After by Anna Todd, both of which contain stereotypical bad and damaged male leads.) Cassie, though a virgin, has control of her sexuality. She knows what she wants, is not afraid to ask for it or to talk about it, which I find is far too rare in this genre. Although she suffers infatuations and disappointments (as we all do,) there is no sense of her being controlled by her sexual partner. My only real criticism is that a number of secondary characters (ie Zoe, Ruby and Conner,) fall a bit flat.

The sequel, Broken Juliet will be published later this year. 

I also love the shiny foil cover on the Australian edition. 

Recommended. An enjoyable contemporary romance that avoids stereotypes. 


Monday, 19 January 2015

The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2015

Note: D'oh! I wrote the following post in late December 2014 and somehow I saved it to my draft file instead of publishing it. This is what happens when you try to hold down a job, write books, update your blog daily and drink far too much coffee in between. 




I am pleased to announce that in 2015 that I will be participating with the Eclectic Reader Challenge which is being hosted by Book'd Out, one of my favourite book blogs. The aim of the challenge is to push readers out of their comfort zone by reading 12 different books in 12 different categories. This year, the categories are:

  • Retellings
  • A book set in a country starting with the letter 'S'
  • PI Crime
  • A novel published before you were born.
  • Contemporary Romance
  • Fiction for foodies
  • Microhistory
  • Science Fiction set in space
  • Featuring Diversity
  • Epistolary fiction
  • Middle Grade/YA Adventure
I am having a lot of fun coming up with some ideas about what to read. I can't wait to see what other participants come up with. 

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


North Terrace is the part of Adelaide where we pay tribute to many great South Australians. A number of beautifully crafted statues are dotted along the northern side of North Terrace, including this one of Dame Roma Mitchell. Apologies for the poor picture quality, Dame Roma proved very difficult to capture in the afternoon sun. 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Restaurant Critic Admits Review May Have Been a Bit Harsh

NOWHERESVILLE, AUSTRALIA--TweetyTuff, a self-appointed food critic who posts semi-anonymous restaurant reviews online had admitted to one of our reporters that her one-star review of Bob's Takeaway Restaurant may have been, 'a bit harsh.' In her review, which was shared on Whelp, a site where any member of the public is invited to review local businesses, TweetyTuff gave a scathing rundown of the food and service, that allegedly left 'a bad taste in my mouth.' 

"I didn't realise that the restaurant concerned was actually a local take-away joint," TweetyTuff explained. "I was expecting a sit down meal and I thought that the people who worked there were just being rude when they wrapped my fish and chips in newspaper and then expected me to walk to the counter to collect them. And when I asked for cutlery, they just pointed at a tray that was loaded with plastic knives and forks. So, naturally, I felt that I had no choice but to write four thousand words telling them that their chips tasted like they had been soaked in garbage and make insulting comments about the physical characteristics of the people who worked there. I admit, the girl who served me did not weight two hundred thousand kilograms and nor was she covered in some unknown rash. I didn't see her pick any scabs from her arms, either." 

When questioned further, TweetyTuff admitted that she was, in fact, aware that Emily Arnold, 14, the daughter of the business owners, was a fashion model who has appeared in Aphrodite magazine and that Emily was, in fact, one of her classmates. "I guess I am a bit jealous," TweetyTuff sighs. "But she's still a bitch and deserves at least some of what I said."

When probed further, TweetyTuff admitted that the chips tasted quite pleasant and that she had not seen anyone throw any rats, shoes or a live and frightened kelpie puppy into the deep fryer and that those comments may have been, "a bit harsh." Her parents, meanwhile, told a very different version of what happened during the family trip to the local takeaway joint. "I don't understand where all this criticism came from," her mother states. "Our daughter knows that it wasn't a sit down restaurant. And she spent most of the visit sitting on a plastic chair, fiddling with her mobile phone and sighing loudly every time that my husband tried to sing along to the song that was playing on the radio." TweetyTuff's father adds that his daughter was not even the one to collect the newspaper wrapped package from the counter and that she had complained bitterly when she was asked to balance it on her lap for the trip home. "Then again," he adds with a sigh, "She can be a bit of a brat sometimes ..."

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Review: Match Pointe by Indigo Bloome

The competitive world of men's tennis provides the backdrop for Australian author Indigo Bloome's glitzy and, at times, uncomfortably erotic romance, Match Pointe. Eloise Lawrence is a twenty-two year old Australian ballerina living in London. An orphan who has survived on scholarships and a determination to succeed, Eloise is struggling to come to terms with the sudden loss of her career. When she is approached by the charismatic (and manipulative) sports agent Caesar with a shocking, yet enticing, offer to dance as an inspiration to the top ranking men's tennis players for two years, she feels that she has little choice but to say yes. Eloise soon finds herself playing a deadly cat and mouse game with Stephan Nordstrom the current ranking number one, who like to control all areas of his life, particularly his women ...

I am having a lot of difficulty forming a strong opinion about Match Pointe. Certainly, it is an interesting glimpse into the dark side of sexual politics--what happens when someone with a desire to control meets another with a desire to submit--and how easily such a relationship can veer off into dangerous territory. There are also some very imaginative and surprising erotic scenes, including one that involves a mummy and some very serious bondage. (I think that the author may very well have a great sense of humour.) 

The fantastic setting, the glitzy world of the wealthy where every whim and desire can be catered for and where people scheme to get what they want, however, gives the novel a bit of a Jackie Collins-style edge, which I did not find quite so enjoyable. (I did, however, think that the scheming Caesar got what he deserved when he discovered the real identity of Eloise, the girl he had been using to inspire the players, though it was pleasing to see how he redeems himself.) Giving the plot a different twist is the honest and likeable love interest Noah, who may just be the knight in shining armour that Eloise so desperately needs.

Ultimately, I suppose, it feels like erotic fiction, wrapped inside a soap opera shenanigans.

This is probably going to be enjoyed by readers who are looking for a bit of erotically charged escapism.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Friday Funnies: Reba! Come here and look at this!

Source: Go Comics
I am sharing this one purely because it was one of my very favourite Garfield comics from when I was a kid. It was one of the comics featured in a book that my mum bought me when I was a kid--one of the large, landscape format ones that Budget Books used to publish during the late 1980s. Anyway, my mum found the book on special at a local bookstore that was having a closing down sale and it ended up providing me with some great moments of hilarity. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

American author Gayle Forman's seventh novel I Was Here is a beautiful but sad tale of a young woman trying to find closure after the suicide of her best friend. Cady never knew that Meg was unhappy, after all, Meg was the one who came from a loving family, had the opportunity to study at college and who had a loving, charismatic personality. However, when Cady travels to the college where Meg studied to collect her belongings, she begins to discover that there were many things that she did not know about her friend's life, things that eventually lead her to the bad boy musician who dumped Meg and an encrypted computer file that contains a shocking truth ...

Clever plotted I Was Here contains realistic characters (Stoner Richard, a drug addicted Christian deserves a special shout out,) and situations and, though emotional, it never goes over the top. The author also examines, quite intelligently, the nature of groupthink and how vulnerable people may be easily exploited online. Cady herself is an interesting, resourceful character who does well for herself even when the chips are down. I did, however, have a small problem with the secret that Meg's parents kept from her, though I can see how the narrative may not have worked so well if Cady had been aware of the full story. During her search for the truth about Meg, Cady also discovers some important truths about herself. 

This one is short and I was able to read it in a relatively short space of time. Recommended for those looking for a realistic YA novel and are willing to be challenged with some darker themes. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia and Netgalley for my review copy. 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Juliet M. Sampson

Welcome to another Writers on Wednesday post. This week, I am chatting with the very lovely Juliet M. Sampson, author of Bon Voyage ...





Tell me a bit about yourself …

I love life and try to embrace every day and make the most of living. I love the simple things like coffee with friends, spending time with my family, caring for sunflowers, walks on the beach, dancing and movies just to name a few. I love being a writer and also travelling to new places.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

My most recently published book is Bon Voyage! It was released in November 2013 nearly a year ago. As I have travelled to many countries around the world, I was inspired to write Bon Voyage! The story is about a young woman who is travelling for the first time around Europe on a coach tour. The themes in Bon Voyage! are adventure, mystery and romance.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

Behind the Mask was my first book. It is a woman’s survival story and was written with a specific purpose. When I received my advance copy of Behind the Mask I was so excited. I loved the cover and could not stop flipping through the pages. It was a dream come true. 

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

At the age of 33, I am proud to say I have already published two novels and I am getting close to completing the third one.  I feel it is also a great achievement knowing that people in other countries such as India, Cambodia and Malta just to name a few, have read my novels and enjoyed them.

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

I always have many writing projects that I am working on. Currently I am working on my third novel that is in the editing stages. I am also working on two picture books, a junior novel and an inspiration book. I love to keep busy.

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

I prefer Paper Books as my other profession is a teacher. I love to hold a book and read it to the students. For me, there is nothing more special than sitting next to a child and hearing them read and turning the pages of a book. I also have fond memories from my childhood of my mother reading to me and taking me to storytime at the library. I also love picture books.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Traditional Publishing.

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

This is a very hard question as different books suit different people. Books are written for different reasons for example to escape, to entertain or to inform just to name a few. As I have get older I prefer books that have messages that share life lessons.

The Four Agreements was a book recommended to me. I found it very interesting as there are four agreements being Be Impeccable with Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions and Always Do Your Best. I have now recommended it to a friend and she really likes it to the point that she carries it around with her in her bag.

What I am saying is we don’t always have to read a fantasy story. I do like using my imagination but I feel there also is a strong need for books that give guidance.

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

To all my readers I just want to say a BIG thank you for taking the time to read and review my books. Also for being supportive of me being a new author and for giving me a chance to share with you what I love doing. Happy reading.

Thank you so much Kathryn for giving me this opportunity. I really appreciate it.

Links

Author’s Website:
http://www.julietmsampson.com

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Juliet-M-Sampson/258929854117897

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5761473.Juliet_M_Sampson?from_search=true

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/JulietMSampson

To purchase Behind the Mask and or Bon Voyage! visit:

Panmacmillan
Amazon
Book depository
Juliet’s website

Bookshops

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Review: Outside the Lines by Amy Hatvany

Family, mental illness and letting go of the past are the major themes of Amy Hatvany's Outside the Lines, which is being published for the first time in Australia this month. Local readers may already be aware of Hatvany through her thought provoking novel Safe With Me. Travelling between two eras and two different characters, Outside the Lines tells the story of a man with a severe mental illness and the impact it has on his young daughter, Eden, who at ten years old witnesses a tragic suicide attempt. As an adult, Eden finds herself searching for her long-lost father, who is now a poor artist living on the streets, but finds herself learning more than she expected, including one heartbreaking life lesson.

Although I found this novel to be quite tough going in places (it felt very emotional,) I also found that it was one very much worth staying with. Through David, we learn about the complexities of living with a mental illness and why taking pills is not the easy option that it may seem to an outsider, and through Eden we learn the pain of watching a loved one suffer and see her confusion as to whether or not her father loves her, and her struggle to truly understand him. The backstory for Jack, the manager of Hope House and love interest for Eden is well done, as is the way the author shows the suffering of Lydia, the wife of David and mother to Eden. However, I was not a fan of best friend Georgia or half brother Bryce and found their characters and stories a little crass in comparison to the rest of the novel and perhaps even unnecessary. On the whole, though, this is an enjoyable, though provoking novel. Recommended.

Thank you to the Reading Room and Allen & Unwin for my review copy. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)



Welcome aboard! This is a train service to Noarlunga Centre ... Anyone who has travelled to or from Noarlunga Interchange by train since 2004 would have seen this colourful mural that sits atop of the kiosk. It was painted by a group of young artists and replaced an older memorial that was starting to look a little dated. The picture depicts a number of people enjoying their train ride along the southern coast of Adelaide. A number of other colourful paintings by the same artists have been placed around the interchange. At the time that the mural was unveiled, Noarlunga Centre was the final destination on the line, however, since 2013 the line runs to Seaford and is the only major Adelaide train line to be serviced by electric trains. 

A tribute to the old mural remains at the station and is pictured below. (If you look close, you'll see that one of the rail cars painted by Jimmy C is an old red hen, a distinctive diesel rail car manufactured whose engines were manufactured by Rolls Royce, and whose bodies were built at locally at Islington that serviced the Adelaide railways for almost fifty years, and back in the day, was the backbone of Adelaide's public transportation system.)



Saturday, 10 January 2015

Review: Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Pemberley, the great manor owned by Mr Darcy becomes home to a murder in Death Comes to Pemberley, author P.D James cleverly plotted continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Six years have passed since the Fitzwilliam Darcy married Elizabeth Bennett and the marriage has been a success. The pair are the parents of two boys and, each year host a ball at Pemberley in honour of the late Late Anne. This year, however, things take a strange twist when on the eve of the ball, Elizabeth's wayward sister Lydia, arrives uninvited and announces that a murder has just taken place. Is Mr Wickham guilty of murder, or can Mr Darcy prove that his old rival is innocent?

Through crime and murder are not really the subject of Jane Austen novels, this one was highly enjoyable and it is not surprise why, considering the author. P.D. James combines her skill of writing tightly written crime novels with an exceptional amount of research and understanding of Pride and Prejudice--it's era, the characters and the setting. (Austen fans will also notice that Persuasion cleverly mentioned and weaved into the plot.) Obviously, and is to be expected, both authors have very different writing styles and I appreciate the fact that James kept her own voice and told the story her own way, instead of parroting Austen's style of writing. I think James truly does love Austen's work and the worlds she created. 

Although a little slow in places, this one is most enjoyable and is quite unpredictable at times. The answer to the mystery was perhaps not as enjoyable as the journey, and the opportunity to read a brilliant authors thoughts on who the characters of Pride and Prejudice would become in later years. My only complaint is that the story was a little too easy on the wicked Mr Wickham at times. Highly recommended. 

Friday, 9 January 2015

Friday Funnies: Picking Up Girls in Bookstores



Hmm, maybe that could work ...

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Guest Post: Author Debra R. Borys on Birthing a Book

Today, I am bringing you a guest post by the wonderful Debra R. Borys whose most recent novel Box of Rain was released in December 2014. Debra is talking with us about the process of birthing a book. I found this post to be quite inspirational and hope that you do, too. 

Birthing a Book

If you've ever been pregnant, you know how much work you do beforehand to prepare for the new arrival.  You take Lamaze classes, read books, plan decor for the nursery.  You pack your suitcase, take the multi-vitamins your doctor prescribes, and faithfully attend scheduled wellness checkups.
When you are anticipating the creation of a new book, there are several stages all writers go through.  Methods may vary, but the general framework remains the same: conception,  research, development, labor, and the final reward, holding your newly birthed book in your eager little hands.

For Box of Rain, the concept happened when I came across an article written by a young man who had just won a scholarship to college, a young man who also happened to be homeless.  In the first two books in my Street Stories series, my main street kids fit the mold of what many often think of as the face of homelessness.  In Painted Black, Chris is a runaway graffiti artist and his missing friend is a fifteen-year-old prostitute.  In Bend Me, Shape Me, Snow Ramirez is a young woman suffering from a mental illness.  In my new book, I wanted to show that many people who find themselves homeless are actually hardworking and smart, but have to work twice as hard as the rest of us to get by. Thus was Booker T Brooks conceived.

The main, ongoing character in my series is actually Jo Sullivan, the reporter who puts herself in danger to help these street kids when no one else will bother.  But I have to admit it is the street kid character that I enjoy writing about the most. While all my characters are fictional, they are reflections of actual people I knew when volunteering on the streets of first Chicago and then Seattle. Some version of the situations I put my characters in did or could happen. When I gave birth to Booker and Chris and Snow, I actually just gave form to the invisible people who live in your county, your town, on a street corner you.


You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones you like to pretend aren’t there. They have stories, too.  Why not take a look between their pages, find out what story they might have to tell?  You might just be amazed and enriched by what you find.  Like I was.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Writers On Wednesday: O.N. Stefan

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week, I am chatting with O.N. Stefan, author of The Deadly Caress ...



Tell us a bit about yourself …

I live in Sydney, Australia and find inspiration for the characters in my books from everywhere and anywhere.  The car chase scenes are from memory because as a child, I witnessed many car accidents as I lived near a bad T-intersection. Nearly every weekend vehicles miscalculated the sharp corner and either ran into a light post, an oncoming car, flipped over or spun out hitting other cars in the process. My dad would run over to see if an ambulance needed to be called as they were the only family in the street to have a phone. He'd take blankets over if anyone was badly injured and I would help him. 


Tell us about your most recently published book?

The Deadly Caress is a fast-paced story set in California. Suspenseful and thrilling, it is holds a mystery that Amanda Blake, a freelance photographer, must unravel. 

Amanda tracks down her birth mother the multi millionaire Jean Campbell. Hours after her arrival, Jean is murdered. 

Amanda sets out to discover her mother’s killer. Her quest takes to Australia to find the man she thinks holds the answer to the killer’s identity. While visiting this man, she has to run for her life under a hail of bullets. Someone will stop at nothing until she is dead. If she thought things were bad enough, they are about to get much worse. 


Tell us about the first time you were published?

I was excited when I had my first short story published in New Idea several years ago.

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

My proudest achievement was launching The Deadly Caress on kindle.

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

Currently, I am editing another thriller that will be published early next year.

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

It doesn’t matter for me as I like both. For ease of transport, I would take my kindle on holidays.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

I think Indie publishing is overtaking traditional publishing. So many new authors would not have been read had it not been for ebook publishers.

Links

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/olgaolha
Web site: http://onstefan.weebly.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Deadly-Caress/543137822419408 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20967943-the-deadly-caress
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/464363411552187153/

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Penned by the author of the sweet and thoroughly likeable Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door trades Paris for San Francisco, and Anna (who appears as a minor character,) takes a backseat to Lola a colourful individual with a passion for fashion design and a deep resentment of the Bell twins, Cricket (a wacky, budding inventor who broke her heart,) and the manipulative, professional figure skater Calliope. On the whole, Lola's life is pretty good--she has been raised in a loving family unit by her adoptive fathers and she has found love with the older Max, a budding rock star. But when Cricket comes crashing back in to Lola's life she finds herself asking a lot of questions about love and loyalty.

Although the settings and themes were a bit different from the first book in the series, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this one. I quite enjoyed the domestic, family side of the story in particular, the fact that Lola does not come from a family unit that unit that many would consider typical. (She was been adopted by her uncle and his partner, as her mother was unable to care for her properly.) The surprise appearance of Lola's deadbeat mother, and their eventual reconciliation (of sorts) tugs at the heartstrings. And then, of course, there is the love triangle between the entirely unsuitable and controlling Max, and Cricket who had previously broken Lola's heart but seems to be a basically okay kind of guy. 

This one is a lot of fun and contains a lot of YA level romance and emotional drama and is short enough to be read in the space of an afternoon. Recommended. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

Mural, Adelaide Central Markets
This week's street art is an eye catching mural that sits inside the Adelaide Central Markets, almost completely surrounded by tables, chairs and posters. This mural is easily missed, though those prepared to stop for a while and look will appreciate the strange, surrealist beauty of this one. 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Off Topic: Where Milk Comes From

About ten or so years ago, I used to work as a checkout operator for Coles. The store that I worked at was (at that point time,) on of the busiest in South Australia. One Friday afternoon/evening remains particularly memorable for me, as it was the day after the Australia Day holiday. By about seven o'clock in the evening, with two hours of trade still to go, the store had completely run out of milk. The day had been busier than anticipated and the reality is this: once a supermarket runs out of those items, that is it. There is no more milk. 

Through fielding a huge number of customer complaints that evening, I discovered that there is a huge misconception from some members of the public about how supermarkets source their milk. Some crazy people think that because milk comes in a carton or bottle, that it was probably pasteurised and packed in a factory, and then loaded in the back of a cool truck before being delivered to the supermarket, and that the quantities supplied are based roughly on say, current stock levels and previous sales data, and that someone actually took the time to work all of this out. I would like, therefore to assure you that this is completely and utterly wrong. This is how milk really gets to the supermarket ...

Every Supermarket Has a Cow on Site.

Ever bought a bottle or a carton of milk that has a picture of a cow on it? That's the actual cow who lives in the supermarket. A store employee milks the cow by hand and the milk is poured straight into the bottle. That whole thing about the milk having to be pasteurised before it can be sold is a myth.

By the way ... the cow at my store was named Posh. She was a right diva, always mooing and moaning about the temperature in the cool room and fighting with Doris, the resident hen who produced all of the eggs for the store.

Should the Cow Not Produce Enough Milk ...

We have special magic wands that may be used, upon occasion, to create additional stock of any item. 

PS ... The Store Really Did Have More Milk, But No One Could be Bothered Getting it For You

This is because it is far easier to deal with a dissatisfied and angry customer who will rant, rave and call you names, and threaten to take their woes to A Current Affair for the next ten minutes, than what it is to take a two minute walk out the the cool room to retrieve a carton of milk. 

Friday, 2 January 2015

Friday Funnies: I Hope This Year Will be Better

Source: Go Comics

You have to hand it to Snoopy. He knows exactly how to make someone feel better ... even if it wasn't what Lucy really wanted.