Friday, 31 July 2015

Friday Funnies: Anyone For Tennis?






Nice game.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Review: Harry Mac by Russell Eldridge

South Africa in 1960 is the setting of this coming-of-age tale written by South African born but now Australian citizen Russell Eldridge. Tom lives in a quiet street with his family, which includes his dad, a controversial and outspoken newspaper editor. When Tom overhears a conversation between his father and another man, plotting to assassinate the prime minister, he begins to question everything he knows about his father, and with the help of his childhood friend Millie, and her father, the peace loving Sol, he begins to ask questions about the scary world of South African politics--where everyone has a secret and an agenda--that is unfolding in front of him.

More of a backdrop for showcasing a shocking time in South African politics--where people were separated based upon their ethnic background (or even their perceived ethnic background,) than a story of a young boy, Harry Mac is entertaining and frightening in equal parts. The author does well in showing that there may be more to a person than what appears on the surface (at least one key character is keeping a surprising secret,) and that the truth may not always be obvious.

Recommended.

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

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2015.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Dianne Maguire

Welcome to another great Wednesday author interview. This week I am lucky enough to be chatting to South Australian author, Dianne Maguire ...




Tell me a bit about yourself

My name is Dianne Maguire and I write contemporary fiction inspired the strength and resilience of the children I have met over more than twenty years as a social worker in child welfare and protection. My husband and I are parents to an adult son who works as a criminal lawyer. Since he left home a few years ago, we have dealt with empty nest syndrome through humanising our dogs, Millie and Sophie whose status in our household is akin to that of particularly gifted children –which indeed they are –gifted I mean. Although I live in South Australia’s capital city we have a small fibro on the Fleurieu Peninsula –our own slice of paradise –where I do most of my writing.

Tell us about your most recently published book

‘What Matters Most,’ released by HarperCollins on eBook in April 2015, is the book I have wanted to write for six years. It is the story of paediatrician Mia Sandhust and her patient 15 year-old Rachel Hooper, both fighting to survive their own form of  betrayal. A story of love, family, misplaced loyalty and how our choices shape our lives, ‘What Matters Most’ is of course, set on the magnificent coastline of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula.

Tell us about the first time you were published

In 2008 I wrote a 600 word memoir for a column titled ‘This Life’, in Australia’s national newspaper. It was about how my first love jilted me when I was 17 and how I carried him in my heart like a sacred hero until I met him again 25 years later.  Almost a year after I submitted the piece I received an e-mail saying it would be published. I’m sure newspaper sales doubled that weekend because my friends and family all bought copies.

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

First I have to warn you about the creepy degree of adoration I hold for fellow writer Fiona McIntosh, protégé of Bryce Courtenay and astoundingly good writer and person in her own right.  My proudest moment was when I received the offer of a publishing contract from major publishing house HarperCollins for ‘What Matters Most’. Then there was the thrill of first laying eyes on the beautiful cover and finally buying a tablet so I could read my own book. None of this would have happened if Fiona’s McIntosh hadn’t taught me through her Masterclass how to give my story the appeal a major publishing house and of course it’s readers are looking for.

What books or projects are you currently working on

I am writing my second novel, also set on the Fleurieu. Like ‘What Matters Most’, it is contemporary family drama come psych thriller come mystery.  (What’s in a genre anyway?) When I am not learning how to be tech savvy to promote my novel, I am writing, or consulting with a female Detective Sergeant as well as a Psychologist for my next book.  I’ve lost count of the times reviewers have called ‘What Matters Most’ a page-turner... but wait till you read the next one.

Which do you prefer? eBooks or paper books and why?

I love good stories and good books –I don’t mind what form they take. To be honest though, there was a time when I would never have chosen an eBook over traditional print. Now, I continue to love browsing and buying in bookshops. But it’s also pretty awesome to finish a book any time and to be able to download another in minutes – at a fraction of the cost as well. I believe eBooks are the way of the future but we will continue to enjoy both worlds for a while yet.

Indie Publishing or Traditional Publishing?

Who cares? If it’s your dream to be published –just get published... But be careful about paying for it.

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

There are so many. But I’ll choose the one I’m currently reading which is ‘Orphan Train’ by Christine Baker Kline –a beautifully told story about child   abandonment in the early 1900’s with a contemporary parallel story. This is a heart-warming depiction of the power and goodness inherent in human nature.  Next on my list is a new Aussie author – also a social worker, Eliza Henry-Jones and her debut novel, ‘In the Quiet’.

To my readers in Adelaide South Australia

Celebrate! We live in one of the best places on this earth –especially our gorgeous amazing wonder-filled Fleurieu Peninsula.

To everyone..... I’m not usually interested in numbers but FB has changed all that...   Please make my day and Like, even Share, my Author’s page on www.facebook.com/diannemaguireauthor You may see someone you know or something you like on there.

And my web-site should be ready soon. Take a peek on http://www.diannemaguireauthor.com.au/ at my book trailer (by the talented Gordon Napier) and lots of information about my current writing journey, my books, nature, kids, all things French, the Fleurieu Peninsula...  and much more.


‘What Matters Most’ is available now from HarperCollins, iTunes, Google Books, Amazon, and all good eBook stores.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Review: Lead by Kylie Scott

Lead the third novel in Brisbane author Kylie Scott's Stage Dive series is a smoking hot roller coaster ride filled with sexy rock stars and one very sassy heroine. Lena has been hired by the band to perform a difficult task--to keep an eye on Jimmy, the baddest of all of the Stage Dive boys. Fortunately Lena is no fool and not about to take any shit from the rude and emotionally distant Jimmy. But when Lena realises that she might just be falling in love with Jimmy, things begin to change ...

While Lead lacks some of the humour that made Play such a hit with me, it was still a sexy and enjoyable escapist romp. The sexual tension was sizzling and at times I wanted to bang Jimmy and Lena's heads together and force them to kiss, so kudos to author Kylie Scott for creating a romance that I felt emotionally involved in. Although they were not always perfect or likeable, it was obvious from page one that Jimmy and Lena were perfect for each other ... though they could not see it.

There were also some pleasing updates from the lead characters from the other novels in this series and we get a glimpse at how Dave and Ev, and Mal and Anne are each enjoying their happily ever afters. Also, parts of the novel hinted at a potential romance between Lizzie and Ben, which will be the subject of the final novel in the series, Deep.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2015

Monday, 27 July 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


This strange monument sits in Elder Park, just near the stairs that lead down from the Festival Theatre. I'm not quite sure what it is meant to represent ...

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Review: The Hand that Feeds You by A.J. Rich

How much can you really trust another person? That is the question at the heart of The Hand That Feeds You, a new psychological thriller by A.J. Rich. Morgan has escaped a troubled childhood to find success in New York. She is studying psychology and she is currently researching how predators select their victims, though she seems to be surprisingly unaware of her own history of high-risk behaviours which have landed her in some dangerous situations in the past. Recently, she has started adopting dogs from the local animal shelter and has become engaged to Bennett, a mysterious charismatic man whom she met online. When Morgan finds Bennett dead in her apartment, savaged to death by her dogs, a number of deeper mysteries begin to unravel. Who was Bennett really and why did he lie to Morgan about his past? And how many other women are out there that he has also lied to?

The Hand That Feeds You takes twist after twist as Morgan slowly unravels the mystery that was Bennett and discovers deeper, darker and deadlier secrets, all of which eventually lead toward an unlikely predator. This not only leaves Morgan fighting for her life, but questioning everything that she knows about the profile of a predator and that of a victim. 

I found The Hand That Feeds You to be an enjoyable, fast-paced read that surprised me on a number of occasions. At times, I felt that the story could have delved deeper into the characters and their situations, as Morgan seemed to take everything at face value (except when it suited her,) and there were a lot of jumps--the big reveal at the end of the book happened a bit too quickly for my liking, without allowing me to have the fun of wondering "are-they" or "aren't-they". Still, this was a lot of fun to read on a cold afternoon by the fire and I think that many readers will enjoy this one of its believable plot twists and fast storytelling. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my reading copy.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Friday Funnies: Let's Do the Snoopy Dance


Monday, 20 July 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


Some oddly cool, spirally bike racks sit beside a beautiful view on the foreshore at Christies Beach. These types of bicycle racks are not uncommon around the Adelaide metropolitan area, however, I felt that this one has such a great backdrop that I could not resist sharing. This photograph was taken in December 2014.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Friday Funnies


I can relate ...



Monday, 13 July 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


Located at the back of the Festival Theatre is this great artwork.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Special Announcement: Shopping and Lies by Kathryn White



Exciting news, Abigail Carter, the lovably offbeat heroine from my novels Being Abigail and Everybody Hates Abigail is back! Shopping and Lies is a quirky short story that takes place after the events of Being Abigail, and the best part is, it is free. You can access it from a number of retailers including Smashwords, iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, or you can read it online at the Out of Print website. 

Friday, 10 July 2015

Friday Funnies: Garfield & Doctor Who


Found this one on the web while I was looking for something a little different and offbeat, and I thought that this Doctor Who and Garfield mash up fitted the bill nicely. 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Review: Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Captive Prince is one of many, many success stories about a book published online that amassed a huge following and was eventually picked up by a major publishing house. Initially published by Gatto in 2013 it has only recently made it on to the Australian market, and is being published by Penguin. And, it was at about this point that the book caught my attention, when I saw it reviewed as 'a gay sex slave political fantasy thriller.' Intrigued to know what kind of a book could inspire such a title, I found a copy at my local QBD and set about reading it.

And to set the record straight, Captive Prince is indeed a gay sex slave political fantasy thriller. It begins with the capture of Prince Damianos, the rightful heir to the throne, who is betrayed by his evil half brother and gifted to the prince and heir of a rival kingdom as a slave. In this neighbouring kingdom, nothing is as it seems and Prince Damianos, now known as Damen, eventually finds himself making an unlikely alliance with his mysterious and manipulative captor ...

To be honest, I was a bit ambivalent about the first two hundred or so pages in this book. What different people find erotic is a highly subjective thing and it really did very little for me and nor did I find some aspects of the plot terribly interesting. However, toward the end, when the novel became more action packed and about politics, and I got some greater indication of that some key characters may not be all they seem, I found myself becoming a lot more interested and involved in the plot, to the point where I will most definitely consider reading the second book in the series, which has just been published in Australia.

Although not the perfect book for me, this will probably appeal to readers who are looking for a very different kind of erotic romance. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Guest Post: Practice There is No Other Way by Juliet M Sampson

Welcome everyone. Today I am proud to be sharing this wonderful guest post by Australian author Juliet M Sampson about why is it important for authors to practice their craft. Thank you Juliet..

Practice there is no other way
By Juliet M Sampson

Changing professions can be challenging not an easy decision to make, but the secret ingredient to success is the power of practice. There is no other way, plain hard work and commitment. In the case of writing you can dream of being a published author but without practice, time and effort the steps to reach your goal will never happen. 

Having written and published two novels Behind the Mask and Bon Voyage! and being in the editing stages of the third Dance Demons, I wanted to share with you the importance of practicing your craft. Let’s begin the journey. 

As a little girl I was told practice makes perfect. When I started learning to ride a bike I was on training wheels and needed to practice. I would ride around the park practicing and developing my skills of balance and coordination. After a while I finally mastered them and the training wheels were taken off. I was riding on two wheels. 

Practice also applied when I started to learn dancing. The basic steps were taught and to improve I was told I needed to practice. Not only in class did I practice my dance steps but also at home. So many hours were put into the whole process.  In doing this I knew that eventually I would be able to add on the more difficult dance steps.

And let me tell you, the same principle relates to writing. It may not seem as obvious in this craft but it strongly applies. Everyone needs to start at the beginning there are no short cuts.

I had a dream I wanted to pursue. At the age of 28, I left full time teaching and committed to writing. I bravely wrote my first novel Behind the Mask with no formal writing training, only the skills learnt in Year 12 and from university assignments. This writing style was not like writing a novel. 

After completing and publishing my first novel with Brolga Publishing, I dived
into the next book as I knew this was what I wanted to do. Write! Unfortunately I did not have the finances to afford doing professional writing courses but as fate happened when I was nearly finished writing the second book, I met Bryce Courtenay the guru of writing. Extremely proud to see I had published a book, he encouraged me to improve my craft by attending his course. As the famous saying goes ‘when the student is ready the teacher appears.’ Saving up my pennies I pinched myself when I was able to attend his course. Excited to bring along my manuscript for the second novel to his class, I was shocked to hear that he wanted all students to start a new story. This is where it all began for me. 

Bryce taught his students many skills at his final Master Class and I felt proud that he allowed me to attend. The room was full of writers with years of formal training, having degrees in professional writing and aspiring to find the key ingredients to write a successful book. The main point I took away was practice, write every day and this is what I have done for my third book Dance Demons. I write for at least two hours a day, five to six days a week.  

Yes we all know writing stories is about character development, conflict, settings and much more but if writers do not practice and commit to their craft, the story is never going to happen. No one is going to write it for you.

Since Bryce’s course I have attended many other writing courses. But I have learnt Bryce was right and his point of practicing your craft needs to be done daily. The more I write the better it sounds. 

My third novel Dance Demons excites me. Yes I have been working on this story for at least two years but the way it has developed has amazed me. During this time I had the chance to pitch Dance Demons to a publisher but I refused the opportunity. I knew my story was not polished enough and admitted to myself I wanted to keep practicing my craft. Looking back on this decision I know it was the correct one as I feel confident with the way my writing has improved, thanks to practice. ‘You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.’ Doris Lessing

Another important tip for new writers is the next book needs to improve and I am pleased to say I have received this feedback from the first novel Behind the Mask to Bon Voyage! my second novel.

Recently I came into contact with a lady named Jennifer and again the same saying applied ‘when the student is ready the teacher arrives.’ Jennifer works in the publishing industry and has encouraged me to re assess my work. 

I am proud of each book I have written. It takes a lot of hard work to complete a manuscript. This year I attended an author’s conference where Isabelle Carmody spoke. Isobelle has written 35 books and has had four major publishers. I enjoyed hearing her talk and one point I remember her making was writers have different ideas at different ages. You mature as a writer and I know this is what I have done. 

So practice, practice, practice and I promise you will see results. Hard work pays off in the end. Happy writing. Spread sunshine and inspiration.



Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Review: Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood

The second Phryne Fisher novel is a rollicking, sexy yarn set against the backdrop of Melbourne in the 1920s. Private Investigator, the glamourous and very sexy Phryne Fisher has been hired to help a young man who has been falsely accused of murder. Phryne is certain of his innocence and is now using her detective skills to prove it. Meanwhile, a child has just been kidnapped for a large ransom and its up to Phryne and her friends to save the day.

It has been a few years since I read the first book in this series, and I have never sat down to watch the television series based on the books, and I was a little surprised by how much of an impression the previous book made on me and how well I remembered the setting--a decadent and very romanticised version of the 1920s, the perfect vehicle for a plucky and glamourous private detective.

Much like the work of P.G. Wodehouse, this is a book that is clever, witty and driven by its loveable characters and depictions of the era. It's a lot of fun--the perfect read for when one wants to get caught up in a splendid story, with no need to analyse the plot. 

The perfect escapist read, with a small mystery thrown in there.



This book was read as part of the Eclectic Reader Challenge 2015

Category: PI Crime

Progress: 9/12

Monday, 6 July 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


This is one of the many beautiful mosaics that decorate Beach Road at Christies Beach. 


Sunday, 5 July 2015

Update: Aussie Author Challenge 2015



As some of you may know, one of the reading challenges that I am participating in this year is the Aussie Author Challenge, which is now in its sixth year and is hosted by the brilliant site Booklover Book Reviews. Although I was keen to participate, initially I was uncertain about how much time I would have for the challenge and decided to go for the middle level, Wallaroo. I'm thrilled to announce that although it is only July, I have already completed the requirements for Wallaroo.

The books that I read and reviewed for the challenge were:


Bad Romeo by Leisa Rayven
Stone Castles by Trish Moray
Bad Behaviour by Rebecca Starford
Claiming Noah by Amanda Ortlepp
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simson
Goulds Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan 

And, because this is a challenge and there is still five and a half months to go, I have decided to up the ante and go for the next level, Kangaroo. Wish me luck!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Review: Gould's Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan

The brutal history of European settlement in Tasmania (or Van Diemen's Land,) and the surprising true story of an artist and convict who just could not keep himself out of trouble are the subject of this modern classic by one of Australia's most beloved authors. William Buelow Gould is best remembered in Australian history for his watercolour paintings of fish. He was also a man who could not keep out of trouble, even when he was trying to better himself and it is this side of the man that Flanagan brings to life. Flanagan's Gould is a larrikin and an unreliable narrator who tells us a great yarn, while also examining some brutal truths about history, the treatment of the traditional owners of the land and, surprisingly, love.

The novel is told in twelve chapters, or twelve fish, as each one is devoted to one fish or one watercolour painting. (And yes, that really is one of Gould's paintings on the front cover.)

I cannot say that I loved the story as much as I did enjoy the cleverness of it and trying to put it all together, trying to understand what it all meant, and occasionally coming up with nothing and sometimes coming up with every theory imaginable. Actually, at times, it near drove me insane. 

Recommended to readers who want something a bit deeper.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Kathryn Gabrielle

Welcome to another fantastic edition of Writers on Wednesday. This week, I am chatting with my friend Kathryn Gabrielle, who I know from the brilliant Attic Secrets group on facebook. Welcome Kathryn ...

Tell me a bit about yourself …

My name is Kathryn Gabrielle and I live in Allentown, PA. I am married for 33 years this coming August! I have a wonderful husband Louis and three children Louis Jr., Christine and Daniel. I am from Maine originally and graduated from Rivier College, Nashua, New Hampshire with a degree in Office Administration.  I have always loved to write. Even when I was a kid, I would send little stories about my dolls to my sister at college. I even made up a song in fourth grade about my dog and sang it to the class (I hope they were amused).  My very first story I wrote was "Crystal Dove". I wrote it in 1986 after my father died. It is very close to my heart. I work at a public library and I usually take home alot of books! I love to read too.  I am a very optimistic person and sensitive but strong inside. That is how I like to portray my characters as well.

Tell us about the first time you were published?  

The very first time I was published was in a poetry book that I had to pay for myself. I sent a copy to my mother. She was crying!. The name of my poem is "Memories of Maine".  She bought a copy. Bless you Mom!

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

As a writer, my proudest achievement is just being able to share my words with people. It is an intangible thing but truly that is all I really wanted. I have these stories inside my heart and I just want to share them. 

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

I just finished a book called "The Quest for Orion and other Stories" on Amazon.  It is about a "would be" knight that must pass a series of tests to find the Key of Faith. He has a fear of snakes and a lack of courage but with the help of a young woman who believes in him he becomes an honorable knight.

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

I prefer paper books because I like the feeling of having the touch of the pages and the smell of the book. That's why I work in a library. There is nothing like real books. It makes my soul sing!

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing? 

I like the new publishing online, even though I am all thumbs with computers! Traditional publishing can be discouraging because you need an agent and they want a certain genre. I have had trouble getting into magazines. I read the magazines over and over, trying to get the groove of what they want. 

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

The one book that I feel everybody should read has to be: The Thornbirds by Colleen McCollough. I was mesmerized by that book and my mother was as well!

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

I would like to say I am very happy to know you and welcome to my imagination! Smiles...


Links:

My page on facebook is called "Kathy's Fabulous Books".  Here is the link to that page:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/804880092934408/

I also sell my books on lulu.com, amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.  Lulu.com is a print on demand book site. 

lulu.com author spotlight page:  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/katieg



Fabulously Funny Fables by Kathryn Gabrielle

Rose Cottage by Kathryn Gabrielle