Saturday, 27 September 2014

Blog Tour Schedule: Chasing the Flames by Cheryl Adnams - Hosted by Random House Australia

On Monday, 29 September, I'll be kicking off the Blog Tour for Cheryl Adnams' second novel, Chasing the Flames, with a Q & A and my review following on 4 October.

Chasing the Flames is set in the beautiful McLaren Vale in South Australia and is a "hot rural romance" about old flames and new loves. Whilst it does continue on from Cheryl's first book, Bet on It, don't fret, because it can without a doubt be read as a standalone.

Please be sure to visit all the bloggers and publications who have worked very hard with Cheryl and Random House Australia to bring this fabulous tour to you. And, if you'd like to follow the conversation, you can do so on Twitter by using #ChasingTheFlames.

Here's the Schedule:

Monday 29 September 2014 – Marcia @ Book Muster Down Under – Q&A

Wednesday 1 October 2014 – Culture Street – Five Books of Influence

Friday 3 October 2014 – 1 Girl 2 Many Books – Review

Saturday 4 October 2014 – Marcia @ Book Muster Down Under – Review

Monday 6 October 2014 – Monique @ Write Note Reviews – Guest Post

Thursday 9 October 2014 – 1 Girl 2 Many Books - Guest post

Monday 13 October 2014 – Connect with Chick Lit – Guest Post

Wednesday 15 October 2014 – The Literary Gossip – Q&A

Monday 20 October 2014 – Sam Still Reading – Review

For more information and a chapter sampler, please visit the Tour Page on Random House's Website.

Saturday Sneak-Peek: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

One of the books I'm really looking forward to reading in the coming weeks is Jodi Picoult's new novel, Leaving Time, due to be released in Australia by Allen & Unwin during October.

Here's the blurb:

"Alice Metcalf was a devoted mother, loving wife and accomplished scientist who studied grief among elephants. Yet it's been a decade since she disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leaving behind her small daughter, husband, and the animals to which she devoted her life. All signs point to abandonment - or worse.

Still Jenna - now thirteen years old and truly orphaned by a father maddened by grief - steadfastly refuses to believe in her mother's desertion. So she decides to approach the two people who might still be able to help her find Alice: a disgraced psychic named Serenity Jones, and Virgil Stanhope, the cynical detective who first investigated her mother's disappearance and the strange, possibly linked death of one of her mother's coworkers.

Together these three lonely souls will discover truths destined to forever change their lives. Deeply moving and suspenseful, Jodi Picoult's 21st novel is a radiant exploration of the enduring love between mothers and daughters."

If you're half the fan of Jodi Picoult that I am, I have no doubt that you, too, are looking forward to this one.

I also recently read the prequel to Leaving Time, entitled Larger than Life, which gives us insight into Alice's past and her study of the memory in elephants. This is a beautifully told story and, if you haven't already done so, I suggest you pick this one up and read it before proceeding to Leaving Time. Not that it will matter in terms of the storyline in Leaving Time, but it will give you a better picture of Alice as you appreciate the poignancy of the scenes with the elephants as well as the memories that these majestic creatures hold. 

This is the blurb from that novella:

"A poignant short story from the internationally bestselling author of My Sister's Keeper and The Storyteller.

Alice Metcalf is unlucky in love and was fired from her last job. She is on a tenuous footing in her current one, and has just received the worst news of her life. But when she comes across a family of elephants, killed for their ivory, she can't abandon the surviving calf. Trying to hide a hundred-pound baby elephant in her camp may be difficult, but Alice is ready to break all the rules to save the one life she can.

A haunting, beautifully told prequel to Jodi's upcoming novel Leaving Time."

And if I still haven't convinced you to pick this novel up, here's the official trailer:

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Aussie Book Review: Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill

"It’s Kate McDaid’s birthday and she’s hoping to kickstart her rather stagnant love-life and career when she gets some very strange news. To her surprise, she is the sole benefactor of a great-great-great-great aunt and self-proclaimed witch also called Kate McDaid, who died over 130 years ago. As if that isn’t strange enough, the will instructs that, in order to receive the inheritance, Kate must publish seven letters, one by one, week by week.

Burning with curiosity, Kate agrees and opens the first letter – and finds that it’s a passionate plea to reconnect with the long-forgotten fairies of Irish folklore. Instantly, Kate’s life is turned upside down. Her romantic life takes a surprising turn and she is catapulted into the public eye. As events become stranger and stranger – and she discovers things about herself she’s never known before – Kate must decide whether she can fulfil the final, devastating step of the request . . . or whether she can face the consequences if she doesn’t.

Reluctantly Charmed is about what happens when life in the fast lane collides with the legacy of family, love and its possibilities... and a little bit of magic."

Reluctantly Charmed is a light-hearted, feel good novel with Kate McDaid offering us a lesson in life – what if we just said “bugger it” and went with the flow instead of living our everyday stressed out lives!  Well, Kate goes out of her way to show us exactly how she did it, even though it took her some much needing convincing in the beginning!

An only child from a very long line of only children, Kate is a junior copywriter and has worked for the same advertising agency for five and a half years. When the story opens we see her plans to make her new year’s resolutions – which is always on her birthday – but is then startled, after a birthday celebration in the office, when she receives a formal letter requesting her presence at the reading of her great-great-great-great-aunt Kate McDaid’s will.

Lured by the promise of her aunt’s estate, Kate “conjures up images of tweed jackets, springer spaniels at the heel and hunts on horses that finished quaffing champagne” but soon discovers that there are conditions to her inheritance - she has to publish one letter plus seven Steps every week over the following seven weeks.

What follows is a frolicking good read full of laugh out loud moments, breathtaking scenery as well as celtic folklore and spirituality which all lend authenticity to the Irish setting and kinfolk.

I was absolutely delighted when I received a copy of this novel with an invitation by Simon & Schuster to participate in a “competition” against various well-known book bloggers around Australia, for the cover reveal.

All in all, their publicity department have done a great job of promoting Ellie O’Neill’s debut in what I can only describe as one of the most rigorous social media marketing campaigns I have ever seen – you just have to look at #reluctantlycharmed on Twitter to realise the impact it made.

When the cover was finally revealed on the 8th August by Monique at Write Note Reviews (her reveal here), I was, as Kate would say, “astonished”, at how it so aptly represented the story within but even more so that the image of her was so perfectly rendered.

Ellie has given us an endearing character in Kate. A normal, down-to-earth person with a messy flat and a jar of marmalade in her fridge which only gets opened when her Mam visits, she is also vibrant, funny and kind-hearted and she sucks us into her life as it slowly changes over the following seven weeks. From a static dead-end job (to which she rides a pushbike every day, until it gets stolen and advertised on eBay), to this person who suddenly “awakens”, Kate casts her spell on us and takes us on an adventure of self-discovery as she realises she is worth more than she ever gave herself credit for.

Whilst she remains skeptical about the fairies, she does find herself talking to the plants and is further astounded when her knowledge of things unknown to her before, such as medicinal cures for cold sores, restless babies and jock itch, come to the fore and it becomes quite obvious that she’s onto something when her advice actually works. She even has a name, a weird, possibly fairy name!

But she’s also just human, and eventually the celebrity status which has been thrust upon her makes her feel alone and annoyed that she was the one chosen to have her life fall apart. While she begins to feel removed from her friends she also understands that they can’t comprehend what she is going through when even she doesn’t.

The secondary characters are equally well done, from the egotistical musician Jim, her lovable best friend Matthew, Mam and Dad who jump on the bandwagon to wallow in her unwanted celebrity status, the indomitable Maura with her mysterious aura and fancy gloves, the Annoraks who become her faithful followers to the handsome but enigmatic Hugh and, while they lend some fabulous Irish humour and a supernatural element to the mix, they also enhance Kate’s journey.

Along with these fine characters and her deftly structured narrative, Ellie’s cracking turn of phrase and scenic descriptions are something to be savoured, and I’d like to share a few of my favourites with you:

“What? Have I died and nobody told me?”

“You had to chew the air on arrival to get it into your lungs”

"The fire was crackling easily in the corner, the pints were slipping down smoothly”

"The melody was heartbreaking. Her voice channeled death and misery, and mothers’ tears and broken hearts”

"the main street meandered like a peeled orange skin curling back on itself”

“peppered on its curves were cosy thatched cottages some hosting creaking iron signs swaying lazily”

“majestic sweeping mountains draped in green velvet, which guarded the place like a mother’s protective hands”.

Set against the lush backdrop of Ireland, this is a delightfully bubbly, warm and easy read, packed with good ol’ Irish charm, lots of tea and perhaps a little bit of love and I have no hesitation in recommending it to a wide readership who, once the last page is turned, will “stop, pause and appreciate” the great yarn that Ellie O’Neill has given us.

My thanks goes to Simon & Schuster for providing me with an ARC hard copy of this novel.

A Little About the Author

Ellie O’Neill took the long way round. She sold spider catchers in Sydney, flipped burgers in Dublin and worked in advertising in London. All the while, she had that niggling feeling she had stories to tell.
So, at thirty-something, she made the brave leap and moved back in with her parents to get the job done. Swapping the dizzy disco lights of London for their suburban Dublin house, she scribbled away knowing that there was something about Irish fairies she needed to share with the world.

Then, most unexpectedly, Ellie fell madly in love. The only catch was he lived in Australia. True to form, she couldn’t ignore the magic and followed her heart to Oz for what was supposed to be a long holiday.

Five years later Australia is home to Ellie, her Joe and their fabulous baby (with an Irish name no one can pronounce).

They live in Geelong and Ellie is currently working on her second book.

Aussie Author Round-Up: Fiona Palmer, The Sunnyvale Girls

Today, I’m excited to welcome Best Selling Australian Rural Author, Fiona Palmer to my blog, to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Sunnyvale Girls.

Fiona hails from the tiny rural town of Pingaring in Western Australia, three and a half hours south-east of Perth. She discovered Danielle Steel at the age of eleven, and has now written her own brand of rural romance.

She has attended romance writers’ groups and received an Australian Society of Authors mentorship for her first novel, The Family Farm.

Fiona also has extensive farming experience, helps out with the local mail run, and was a speedway driver for seven years. She spends her days writing, helping out in the community and looking after her two children.

She is also the bestselling author of The Family Farm, Heart of Gold, The Road Home, Sunburnt Country, The Outback Heart and The Empty Nest.

The Sunnyvale Girls is her sixth novel.

Please feel free to pull up a stump and get to know her and her world of writing a bit more.

Before I continue though, I’d just like to thank Penguin Books Australia, especially Maria from their publicity department, without whom this interview would not have been possible.

Fiona, it’s really great to have you here to celebrate the release of The Sunnyvale Girls.

Thanks for having me Marcia.

Tell us a bit about your childhood.

I had the best country childhood. I spent most of my weekends at my uncle’s farm or in my dad’s shed watching him tinker with motors. Also riding motorbikes and cars, building cubbys in the bush, catching yabbies, singing on the back of the ute with my cousins as we rounded up sheep, playing in the wool during shearing time, cutting up sheep and making sausages, music jams in the music room at my uncles…there is not a favourite childhood memory I don’t have without my cousins in it.

That sounds like one of the most carefree childhood stories I’ve ever heard Fiona, possibly more carefree than becoming an author! Could you tell us about that journey?

It was an unexpected one. Not a career I ever would have pegged out for myself due to the fact English was my one of my worst subjects. My spelling, grammar and punctuation was bad and my teacher was very focused on this and not the creative side to writing that I did love.  It wasn’t until years later, when I was a new mum, did a story grow in my mind which encompassed everything I loved about my country life. It got to the point where I had to write it down. I always say I write for the story, not for the words.  Once I had the story down, after 3 long years, I sent the first 3 chapters to Penguin’s slush pile and it was read and they requested the full manuscript. Then a contract. It’s still amazing and I can’t believe how lucky I was.

You sure are lucky and thank goodness they rescued that manuscript from the slush pile . I've recently finished reading The Sunnyvale Girls and found it exuded such warmth and character - typical of a “Palmer” novel - but for those who haven’t yet heard about it, would you mind telling us about the story we can expect?

It’s a little different as I’ve tried a few firsts with this one. I wanted to write about the Italian Prisoners of War that worked on farms in our area during WW2 and merge this with a modern story of three women on their farm Sunnyvale.  I particularly loved Maggie, the grandmother and her flashbacks to 1944-1946. It was my first time at writing a period piece but I loved it. And it was my first time writing about a country other than Australia. Having my characters go to Italy was wonderful and I hope this brings a touch of excitement into my rural story. 

Well, I can certainly attest to the fact that there are some exciting moments loaded into this one, including very strong themes of family, particularly between mothers and daughters as well as the ties that bind daughters to their fathers. Could you let your readers know what other themes they can expect and what you would like them to gain out of reading your book?

That hope is important. Life may not turn out as we expected but it doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it. People make mistakes, do wrong things to protect the ones they love, but we wouldn’t be human if we were perfect. I just hope readers enjoy the story and feel happy and content when they reach the end.

Do you, as a writer, have a motto or maxim? What is it?

Not really a motto as such but I have Dory, from Nemo, constantly on repeat in my head. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. But for me it’s just keep writing.

Isn’t Dory just so philosophical! What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

From my publisher Ali who told me to get Jerry Cleaver’s book Immediate Fiction. Best book. Which reminds me, I should re-read it before I start writing my next book.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

To just write. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t seem good, just get the words on the page. Then you can go back and edit. You can’t edit a blank page.

What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?

I try to write from 10 til 4, but that is such a rarity with housework and other things that happen. (procrastination is the worst!!) When I have a deadline I try to stick to my target of 5k to 10k words a week. I have my own desk set up in our office at the end of the house so I spend most of my time in this room. 

Sounds like you have a pretty good ritual going there, but now onto the fun part of the interview. What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?

If you won the lotto would you still keep writing? Yes, I would. Once you have the bug you can't stop.

Isn’t that just a fantastic outlook to have! Pizza or Pasta?

Oh too hard. It has to be a draw!!

Favourite author?

Hmm, again I don’t have a top favourite, but more a list of favourites. Mind you I was just introduced to Liane Moriarty.

If you had a book club, what would it be reading and why?

I am in a book club and they have just picked to read The Sunnyvale Girls because it’s set in our town and based on a local farm. (It means I get a break this month and can catch up on my tbr pile)

Give us three good to know facts about you – be creative.

I’m shy, I’m not comfortable dressed up (especially if I’m wearing a dress!) and I love my TV/movies.

Fiona, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you answer my questions.  Thank you so much for joining me today and once again, a huge congratulations, but before you go, would you mind giving us a sneak peek of The Sunnyvale Girls?

"The screeching of galahs in the early morning sounded like church hymns. To Maggie, nothing made her feel closer to God than this moment in the dawn. The air was fresher, the light soft and glowing as if filtering through stained glass, and the sounds of the birds assured her that she was alive. The scent of rosemary, basil and wild lavender wafted on the breeze.
Maggie was happiest in her garden. It was her little wonderland, although there was really nothing small about it – the pumpkins and watermelons sprawled out beyond the rabbit fence. She bent over to squeeze some of the basil, releasing a burst of scent. Her back groaned slightly as she stood up and stretched it. At seventy-two, she had no complaints except a tired body.
A smile tugged at her lips as she admired the tomato plants, growing so well. They were only small but soon she’d have to get Toni to truss them up. Come January they’d be making their own sundried tomatoes. Eating fresh from the land was one of life’s pleasures for Maggie. If the world fell apart tomorrow, they’d survive, just as they always had. They were three generations of women who had lived off their own land. It was just the three of them, too, Maggie, Toni and Flick – the Sunnyvale girls."
The Sunnyvale Girls can be purchased from the following links:

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Guest Post: My Irish Heritage, Reluctant Kate and the Charming Fae by Ellie O'Neill

Well, the day has finally arrived and, quite frankly, I think the fairies were having fun with me whilst I was trying to set up this post because nothing would go right!

Please welcome Ellie O’Neill whose debut novel, Reluctantly Charmed, is due to be published in October by Simon & Schuster.

Ellie has kindly offered to take some time out of a really busy schedule to share with us her journey to publication, the inspiration for setting her novel against the lush backdrop of Ireland and what motivated her to write Kate’s story.

Please don't forget to visit all the other great bloggers who are taking part in this tour, Schedule here.

Ellie O’Neill took the long way round. She sold spider catchers in Sydney, flipped burgers in Dublin and worked in advertising in London. All the while, she had that niggling feeling she had stories to tell. So, at thirty-something, she made the brave leap and moved back in with her parents to get the job done. 

Swapping the dizzy disco lights of London for their suburban Dublin house, she scribbled away knowing that there was something about Irish fairies she needed to share with the world. Then, most unexpectedly, Ellie fell madly in love. The only catch was he lived in Australia. True to form, she couldn’t ignore the magic and followed her heart to Oz for what was supposed to be a long holiday. Five years later Australia is home to Ellie, her Joe and their fabulous baby (with an Irish name no one can pronounce). They live in Geelong and Ellie is currently working on her second book.

I am a massive celebrity obsesser. I love the ridiculous, insane world that celebrities live in, the self-obsession, the selfies, the love affairs, the paparazzi. On writing Reluctantly Charmed I wanted to put someone ‘normal’ into that culture, someone who didn’t choose to go in (because surely if you’re normal you don’t choose that life) I wanted to see how she’d ( my normal heroine) survive with all eyes on her, telling her she’s something that she’s pretty sure she’s not. Celebrity stories always seem to be based on the slimmest fragment of truth, and that fragment can propel someone into infamy no matter how much they protest.  

The supernatural element originally came from my granny. She was superstitious, and carried out a lot of the rituals that I mention in Reluctantly Charmed, left a little bit of milk in the end of a glass for the fairies, washed the steps at the front of her house for the fairies to sit on as they were trooping past. Granny was also a keen poker player and before any game she’d check under the table to see if anyone had hooves – a sign that the devil is at the table and will win all the money! Bizarre I know but growing up, for me, that was normal, that was just what granny did. When I started getting a flurry of ideas, for Reluctantly Charmed (I never got a light bulb moment) I felt that there was something interesting, and romantic about Irish folklore that was worth exploring. The more I investigated the more I fell in love with the idea.

Those two elements, the fairy world and the celebrity world were the raw ingredients for the story. And then Kate McDaid came along to marry them up. The story had to be set in Ireland to lend the folklore element credibility, also being Irish, it’s the back drop that I’m most comfortable and familiar with. I’m not peering in and commenting as a foreigner, I live it. And I am very proud to be Irish, it’s a very important part of who I am, I plan to continue to write books set in Ireland.

And Why? I don’t know. Why does anyone want to write? It’s a very difficult road to take, so I’m not quite sure why I thought it was a good idea at the time! I have to say though, I love re-reading what I’ve written (if it’s good) and if it makes me laugh, I’m delighted with myself. I love the idea of being a story teller, I had a great-grandmother from a tiny village in Kerry, who was a seanchaí and apparently people used to travel from all over to hear her tell a story, no mean feat considering they’d be travelling by donkey so she must have been good. I’d love to think that some of her talent has been passed down to me.

When I had a clear view of the story, I did something that I wouldn’t recommend anyone else do, I quit my job in London and moved back in with my parents in Dublin. There were the obvious problems of living with your parents as an adult, they watch the TV really loud, and my mum showers with the door open (!), and then the new and frustrating problem of trying to be a writer even though I’d never written anything substantial before. But I got there, and then I discovered that the road to publication is just as difficult as completing a manuscript. It has taken me years of door knocking and rewrites to get here, and I am savoring every delightful minute of being a published author. More than anything, I really just want readers to enjoy the book, to get lost in the story, to smile, maybe laugh, and feel good.

Ellie loves to connect with her fans, so you're welcome to do so by following the below links:

                                             Facebook    Twitter    Goodreads

About the Book

It’s Kate McDaid’s birthday and she’s hoping to kickstart her rather stagnant love-life and career when she gets some very strange news. To her surprise, she is the sole benefactor of a great-great-great-great aunt and self-proclaimed witch also called Kate McDaid, who died over 130 years ago. As if that isn’t strange enough, the will instructs that, in order to receive the inheritance, Kate must publish seven letters, one by one, week by week.

Burning with curiosity, Kate agrees and opens the first letter – and finds that it’s a passionate plea to reconnect with the long-forgotten fairies of Irish folklore. Instantly, Kate’s life is turned upside down. Her romantic life takes a surprising turn and she is catapulted into the public eye. As events become stranger and stranger – and she discovers things about herself she’s never known before – Kate must decide whether she can fulfil the final, devastating step of the request . . . or whether she can face the consequences if she doesn’t.

Reluctantly Charmed is about what happens when life in the fast lane collides with the legacy of family, love and its possibilities... and a little bit of magic.

You can pre-order Reluctantly Charmed from the following links:

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Saturday Sneak-Peek: I Can't Begin To Tell You by Elizabeth Buchan

You've really got to love a book with substance and this one by Elizabeth Buchan, I Can't Begin To Tell You, due for release on the 24th September by Penguin Books Australia, sounds like one of those! And, of course, I just love the beautiful cover.

Here's the blurb:

"Denmark, 1940. War has come and everyone must choose a side.

For British-born Kay Eberstern, living on her husband Bror's country estate, the Nazi invasion and occupation of her adopted country is a time of terrible uncertainty and inner conflict.

With Bror desperate to preserve the legacy of his family home, even if it means co-existing with the enemy, Kay knows she cannot do the same. Lured by British Intelligence into a covert world of resistance and sabotage, her betrayal of Bror is complete as she puts her family in danger.

Tasked with protecting an enigmatic SOE agent, a man who cannot even tell her his name, Kay learns the art of subterfuge. From this moment on, she must risk everything for the sake of this stranger - a stranger who becomes entangled in her world in ways she never expected.

Caught on opposing sides of a war that has ripped apart a continent, will Kay and Bror ever find their way back to one another?

I Can't Begin to Tell You is a story of bravery, broken loyalties, lies and how the power of love can bring redemption even to the darkest of places."

Elizabeth spent her childhood moving home every three years - including living for brief periods in Egypt and Nigeria before moving to Guildford, York and Edinburgh.

After graduating from the University of Kent at Canterbury with a double honours degree in English and History, she began her career as a blurb writer at Penguin Books. This was a job which required the hide of a rhinoceros, a nimble mind and the - occasional - box of tissues. People tend to shout at blurb writers but they are resourceful creatures which she and the team proved by continuing to produce a stream of copy for back jackets through thick and thin. Looking back, it was a golden era. Not many people are paid to spend their time reading through the treasury which is Penguin Books and there was no better education.  Later, after having married and producing two children, she moved on to become a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full time which was something she had always planned to do since childhood - when she was frequently caught reading under the bedclothes with a torch after being put to bed which gave both books and reading a deliciously subversive tinge.

It was not an easy decision to take the gamble but she has never regretted it. As a writer, she has travelled all over the world and one of the many pleasures of the book tour has been to meet readers of all ages and to share with them a mutual passion for books and reading. She is in touch on line with many of them.

Elizabeth Buchan's short stories are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in magazines. She reviews for the Sunday Times (UK) and has chaired the Betty Trask and Desmond Elliott literary prizes, and also been a judge for the Whitbread (now Costa) awards. She is a patron of the Guildford Book Festival and a past Chairman of the Romantic Novelists' Association.

Her previous novels include Light of the Moon, the prize-winning Consider the Lily, the New York Times bestseller Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman and her most recent book, Daughters.

Here's an excerpt from the first chapter of I Can't Begin to Tell You:

"Kay Eberstern was moving as unobtrusively as she could manage through the tongue-shaped wood of ash and birch which ran alongside the lake on her husband's Danish estate. It was five o'clock on an early November evening in 1942.
It was important not to be seen.
At this time of the evening the men working on the estate went home and they would be taken aback if they caught sight of Kay lurking here. They would ask: 'What is the master's wife doing?' If it were peacetime, they might conclude that she was meeting a lover. But it was not peacetime. It was war, Hitler's war, and British-born Kay had got herself caught up in it. If she was spotted, gossiped over, or betrayed, there could be, almost certainly would be, serious repercussions for the Eberstern family.
Her orders had been to wait for an hour every evening in the wood at Rosenlund, for up to three days. Here she was to rendezvous with 'Felix', a British-trained agent who, if all had gone to plan, would have arrived in the area in order to set up resistance operations. She had also been warned that the plans might go awry and the mission aborted. The agent was being parachuted into Jutland and faced a difficult sea journey to Zealand and a subsequent cross-country one into the Køge area.
Kay could have no illusions as to what might happen to Tanne and Nils, her children, or to Bror, her husband. Everyone knew that the Danish police weren't backward in coming forward in rounding up anyone involved in this sort of activity and handing them over to the German Gestapomen.
Was outraged decency a sufficiently good reason to put Tanne and Nils, and her marriage to Bror, at risk? Was her refusal to tolerate evil, cruelty and a creeping fascism worth it?
Being seriously apprehensive was a new and unwelcome sensation and Kay was struggling to master it. If her task hadn't been so crucial, and in other circumstances, she might have set about analysing its effects. Damp palms and a queasy stomach were predictable. Less so, were the upsurges of bravado followed by the slump into panic. Like a disease, fear caused weakness and debilitation.
The winter was gearing up and, at this time of the evening, it was growing cold. She pushed her gloved hands into her pockets. Tomorrow, if there was a tomorrow, she would take pains to kit up more warmly. It hadn't occurred to her until she was actually standing and freezing in the wood that she should think practically and prepare. For a start, she needed a torch.
Why was she here?
What was happening back at the house? Had she been missed yet? Birgit was preparing dinner and Kay had been careful to tell her that she hadn't been sleeping well - not an untruth - and would be taking a nap.
An owl hooted: a hollow, eerie sound.
Kay shifted uneasily.
Two years ago, on 9 April 1940, Hitler marched into Denmark and declared it a Protectorate with a special blood-brother relationship with the Reich, completely ignoring the non-aggression pact which he had signed with Denmark.
It looked as though the Danes had been caught napping.
Rumours of Hitler's intentions had been circulating for months. Kay had turned into an obsessive listener to the BBC while it reported what was happening in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland - but in Denmark, even with Germany just next door, events had seemed removed, almost remote. She and Bror took their places at the breakfast table early on that April morning, he pale and grim, she flushed and on edge. They gazed at each other and Kay imagined she heard in her head the appalled cries of protest at this new arrangement of Europe.
It had taken all day to get a phone connection to her mother in England. Fretful, anxious hours, and lipstick-stained cigarette butts were heaped in the ashtray by the time she got through.
'Kay ...' Her mother was on the verge of weeping, which was unlike her. 'Your sisters and I have been desperate to hear from you. We've heard the news. Are you all right?'
'Are you all right?'
It was baffling how such important conversations could be reduced to the basics.
Kay searched to make the verbal connection mean something. 'We're getting over the shock.'
'Darling, couldn't you come home?'
She thought of Piccadilly Circus, of the lisle stockings she used to wear, of nips of sherry in meanly sized glasses and overdone beef for Sunday lunch, and of her mother standing in the passageway of her tiny cottage at the end of a water-logged lane clutching the telephone receiver. She thought, too, of her mother's deferential, polite widowhood lived out on the edges of a society that didn't rate widows very highly.
Coming to live in Denmark, she had left all those things behind."
What do you think? Does it sound like something you'd read?

Friday, 19 September 2014

Blog Tour Schedule: Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O'Neill - Hosted by Simon & Schuster

From Tuesday, 23rd September, Simon & Schuster will proudly be hosting the Blog Tour for Ellie O'Neill's debut novel, Reluctantly Charmed and I am so excited to be the one to kick it off with a Guest Post by Ellie.

In words shared by their Publicity Department, "This new novel, to be published in October 2014, became an absolute in-house favourite from the moment we started reading the manuscript. Everybody was so taken by it, that our publisher decided to include all of our endorsements on the cover of the advance reading copies of this book."

Needless to say, the bloggers who took part in this rigorous advertising campaign were absolutely blown away by this "perfect story to share with your girlfriends, or take along to the beach" and even more so by the beautiful cover, with the lovely Monique over at Write Note Reviews winning the reveal - her post here.

Just take a look at #reluctantlycharmed on Twitter to see the impact that this novel has had.

Please be sure to visit all the wonderful bloggers who have worked so hard to promote this novel that will have you "oohing" over the beautiful scenery, taken in by the Irish charm, all the while cheering for Kate as you laugh out loud on her journey of self-discovery.

Without further ado, here's the Schedule for the tour:

23 September - Marcia at Book Muster Down Under -

25 September - Rowena Holloway Author -

29 September - Duffy the Writer -

2 October - Shelleyrae at Book'd Out 

6 October - Beauty & Lace -

8 October - Sam Still Reading

10 October - Blue Wolf Reviews -

13 October - Debbishdotcom -

15 October - Monique at Write Note Reviews -

17 October - Connect with Chicklit Club -

20 October - Kathryn White Author at Kathryn’s Inbox

22 October - Carpe Librum -

N.B. - Bloggers taking part in this Tour, you are more than welcome to use my banner, so please feel free to contact me at

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Guest Post & Giveaway: A very personal response to the idea that sparked Melissa Wray's writing of Destiny Road

What sparked the idea to write Destiny Road?
Recently Melissa Wray was asked this question by Uncommon YA.
Here is her very personal response.

We moved to North Queensland when I was 14. After a year or so Mum could see that something about Townsville and I did not mix. Strangely enough it was her suggestion to ring my dad and ask if I could move back south.

So I did. Then I packed my bags and moved 3,000km away to live with him. This decision is what sparked the idea for Destiny Road.

Now I never set out to write this story, let alone have it published. It just kind of happened. It came about because one night I was lying in bed and couldn’t sleep. There was an unspoken conversation going on in my mind. It was a conversation that I regret not having and has played on my mind over the years. This particular night it got the better of me so I got up and began to write. It wasn’t until after I read through those mad ramblings a couple of weeks later that I thought hmmm … I could create a story from this. So I began writing. I passed my 10,000 word milestone. Then 20 then 30 then before I knew it 50,000 words had been typed.

You see, I think about that one phone call I made all those years ago sometimes. I have often thought about how that decision, that one pivotal moment that is talked about in Destiny Road, really did change the course of my life. I’m sure as you're reading this you can look back over your life, and pinpoint one moment that has shaped it in a big way. I truly believe that Dad saying yes when I asked was a determining factor in how things have turned out for me.

One afternoon I was sitting with him. He got to talking about his philosophy on life and death. Dad had been fighting a battle with cancer for a while at this point and I was kneeling next to him as he sat on his reclining chair. He was holding my hands as he shared these ideas on life and death. He said to me "It's cool. Whatever happens, it's cool." My dad used cool a lot when he spoke. He was pretty cool. He was also a big believer in God. So that afternoon he said "It's cool if I die because I get to meet my maker." Then he said "But it's cool if I live because I get to be with the ones I love." This was his philosophy. Either way was cool with him.

I remember kneeling there, holding his hand and wishing I could say thank you to him. Thanks for saying yes all those years ago. Thanks for that pivotal moment in my life. I wanted him to know how much that meant. But I couldn't. I just couldn't get those words out.

That night he passed away.

I never did get to tell him and have regretted that for the past 10 years. So you see, once the spark to write Destiny Road was lit, it had to be finished. It was my tribute, my thank you and I am beyond thrilled it was published.

Now, I'm not going to bore you with my views on life and death, but I can't help but wonder something, because anyone who knew my dad, Rod Morris, and anyone who knew his sense of humour ... well, I can't help but wonder if there wasn't a helping hand when Morris Publishing (no relation) chose to publish Destiny Road. I like to think so.

It's hard to believe two years has passed since the launch of Destiny Road. To celebrate there is a chance to win 2 x $20 Gift Cards, ENTER NOW!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To connect with Melissa:

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Saturday Sneak-Peek: The Brewer's Tale by Karen Brooks

The Brewer's Tale by Karen Brooks is due to be released by Harlequin Mira in October 2014 and, what initially attracted me to the book was the stunning cover art which aptly matches the tone and themes within.

Set against the backdrop of the patriarchal society of Medieval England, which Anneke Sheldrake inhabits, Karen Brooks brings us an exquisitely wrought tale about this strong woman's determination to overcome the constraints placed on her gender and their equality in a society heavily influenced by the contemporary beliefs of that time and I have no doubt that Karen's powerful story-telling ability will leave you hankering for more.

Keep an eye out for my review as we draw closer to publication date.

About the Story:

"Anneke Sheldrake lives the sheltered life of a gentlewoman in rural medieval England until the untimely death of her father threatens to bring ruin and disgrace to her door. With few options available to a young woman of limited means, it is up to Anneke to find a way to support her family. She turns to brewing - using the secrets passed down from her German ancestry.

Anneke faces crippling opposition from relatives scandalised by her intention  to enter a "man's" trade and makes a deadly enemy in the monks of St Jude's priory, who have grown fat and prosperous on the proceeds of their own inferior ale. Undeterred, Anneke sings and stirs, mixes and brews, experimenting with her recipes to produce an ale unparalleled in the English market.

But Anneke's progress will not be easy. As her reputation as a brewer grows, so does opposition to her endeavour and events finally take a fatal turn. Anneke flees her home for London, determined to shape her own destiny. In London, she encounters yet more obstacles, but finds a valuable friend in brothel madam Goodwife Alyson and love with gentleman Leander Rainford. But can this brave young woman ever escape her past, and the desires of those who wish her to fail, to become the best female brewer in medieval England?

The Brewer's Tale is a finely drawn, expertly researched epic saga about 14th century England, and the pivotal role of women in the ancient craft of brewing.

Like most historical novels, The Brewer's Tale draws upon real places, events, records and people as well as a documented political and cultural backdrop - including all aspects of beer and ale production, and the laws and punishments described - to enrich and add veracity to a work of fiction."

Karen Brooks is an author, columnist, journalist, academic and social commentator. So far, she's written eight novels and one non-fiction work.

Karen writes weekly for Brisbane’s Courier Mail and her column, which is an opinion piece, appears every Wednesday in the “Viewpoint” section. She not only loves writing books, but adores reading them and does so voraciously!

To whet your appetite, here's an extract from the first chapter of this soon to be released novel:

"A sharp wind slapped the sodden hem against my ankles. Clutching the cloak beneath my chin with one hand, I held the other over my brow as a shield from the stinging ocean spray and squinted to see past the curtain of angry grey mizzle drawn across the entry to the harbour. I tried to transport myself beyond the heads, imagine what lay out there; see with my mind's eye what my physical one could not.
Just as they had for the last three days, land and water conspired against me.
With a protracted sigh, I turned and walked back along the dock, my mantle damp and heavy across my shoulders. Brine made the wood slick and the receding tide had strewn seaweed and other flotsam across the worn planks. Barnacles and ancient gull droppings clung to the thick timbers, resisting the endless waves. I marvelled at their tenacity.
On one side of the pier, a number of boats protested against their moorings, rocking wildly from side to side, abandoned by the crews till the weather passed. Along the pebbled shores of the bay, smaller vessels were drawn high, overturned on the grassy dunes, their owners hunkered near the harbourmaster's office at the other end of the dock, drinking ale and complaining about the unnatural weather that stole their livelihood, pretending not to be worried about those who hadn't yet come home. I waved to them as I drew closer and a couple of the old salts raised their arms in return.
They knew what dragged me from my warm bed and down to the harbour before the servants stirred. It was what brought any of us who dared to draw a living from the seas.
I continued, lifting my skirts and jumping a puddle that had collected where the dock ended and the dirt track that followed the estuary into town began.
To the toll of morning bells, I joined the procession of carts, horses and vendors trundling into market as the sky lightened to a pearlescent hue. The rain that hovered out to sea remained both threat and promise. Ships that plied their trade across the Channel were anchored mid-river, their sails furled or taken down for repairs; their wooden decks gleaming, their ropes beautifully knotted as captains sought to keep their crews busy while the weather refused them access to the open water. Some had hired barges to transport their cargo to London, while others sold what they could to local shopkeepers or went to Norwich. Closer to the town, abutting the riverbanks, were the warehouses belonging to the Hanseatic League, their wide doors open. Bales of wool, wooden barrels, swollen sacks of grain and salt were stacked waiting to be loaded onto ships that were already overdue. - ours being one of them. The workers lingered near the entry hoping to snatch some news. Like us, these men, so far from their homeland, longed to hear that their compatriots were safe. Apart from the whinny of horses, the grunt of oxen, and the grind of cart wheels, silence accompanied us for the remainder of the trip into town.
As our procession spilled through the old wooden gates, dirty-faced urchins leapt onto the path, offering rooms, food and other less savoury fare, tugging at cloaks, pulling at mantles. Avoiding the children, I steered around the visiting merchants and travelling hawkers who paused to pay tolls, and slipped past the packhorses and carts to head towards the town centre. Jostled by the farmers with their corn and livestock, apprentices wearing leather aprons and earnest expressions, the way was slow. Before I'd passed the well, the bells of St Stephen's began to toll announcing the official opening of the market. Around me, shop shutters sprang open, their bleary-eyed owners waving customers forth. 'Hot pottage!', 'Baked sheep's cheek', 'Venetian silk', 'Copper pans going cheap'; their cries mingled and were soon drowned in the discordant symphony of market day. Catching a glimpse of our housekeeper, Saskia, among the crowd, I darted down the lane near St Nichols and increased my pace. It wasn't that I didn't like Saskia - on the contrary, as one of my mother's countrywomen, a constant presence since I was a baby, I loved her dearly. I just wanted to enjoy a few more minutes of my own company, without questions or making decisions or, what I was really avoiding, the suffocating weight of the unspoken. I also wanted to make it home before Hiske knew where I'd been or the twins escaped the nursery. If she spied me, Saskia, with the familiarity of a valued servant, would suborn me to her will. I needed to dry myself and change my gown. More importantly, I had to erase the worry from my face and voice. Why I insisted on doing this, going to the seaside these last few days, I was uncertain. It was a compulsion I couldn't resist. It gave me purpose, prevented me from feeling quite so helpless. I thought about what I'd tell the twins today, how I would distract them. I rounded the corner back onto Market Street, the main road that led to the gate at the other end of town. Walking against the tide of people, I drew my hood, quickened my step and entered the alley that ran beside my home. I unlatched the garden gate and squeezed through."

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Aussie Review: Tease Me, Cowboy by Rachael Johns (A Montana Born Rodeo Novella)

“Selah Davis loves her life as a journalist in Seattle (or so she says) but on a rare trip home to Marietta to cover the Copper Mountain Rodeo, she confesses to her best friends over drinks that her one regret in life is not sleeping with her high school boyfriend, Levi Monroe. Into the bar walks Levi, also home for the rodeo. When her friends dare her to proposition him for a one night stand, she's at first appalled...but the more she thinks about remedying her one regret, the less she can get him and their electric chemistry out of her head. Selah's always been her parents' good daughter. Would it hurt for just one night to be a little bad?

Levi Monroe is ready to settle back in Marietta and start his own rodeo school teaching others the techniques that have made him a star. He doesn't want any distractions during his last rodeo where he aims to win All Around Cowboy, but when his high school sweetheart - the one woman he's never been able to forget - comes along and offers to rewrite their history, it might just be an offer too good to refuse.”

The blurb for this novella sets out so perfectly and succinctly the content within, that I’m not even going to try and compete with it by giving my own summary. Instead, I’ll just go right ahead and let y’all know what I thought about Rachael Johns’ latest novel which is her debut with Tule Publishing and also the first in the Montana Born Rodeo series.

In Tease Me, Cowboy, Rachael veers away from the Australian landscape, where all of her past novels have been set, to Montana in the USA, bringing us a story about a girl who is compelled to take action when past mistakes come back to haunt her, a mind-blowingly sexy cowboy who has his own agenda, the rodeo circuit with all its sights, sounds and smells along with the sense of small-town community which some of us Australians are accustomed to. Sound like your typical cowboy love story? You betcha not! This one will leave you wanting more.

Of course, Rachael brings her own special flavor to the story with her unique way of telling stories with warmth, humour and passion, thus dispelling all the myths about American cowboys. Switching between the two perspectives, she develops Selah and Levi by giving us their innermost thoughts and laying their feelings bare for all to see and I especially loved the dinner scene where they begin to reconnect. But, it’s afterwards, when Selah is left “in the cold”, that had this reviewer squirming in anguish and wanting to knock Levi’s head right off his shoulders! However, Rachael redeems herself (and thankfully Levi) by going on to give us so much more, evolving their past relationship into a possible future that surely only dreams can be made of.

This is a really feel-good happy romp of a novella (with lots of teasing) that will be enjoyed by all romance fans, whether you love cowboys or not! If you’re one of those that don’t, I guarantee Rachael will change the way you think of America’s equivalent to Australia’s rodeo champions!

I wish to thank Tule Publishing for providing me with an ARC e-Galley of this fun novella.

A Little About the Author

Rachael Johns is an English teacher by trade (please don't hold that against her), a mum 24/7, a supermarket owner by day, a chronic arachnophobic, and a writer by night. She rarely sleeps.

She lives in rural Western Australia with her hyperactive husband and three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training.

Rachael has been writing since she  was 17 when she broke up with her first boyfriend (at the time she thought he was The One and was hugely devastated in the fashion of all 17 years olds). For some reason unbeknownst to her, she  turned to writing as a form of therapy for her broken heart. It was enlightening to realise that with writing she could create whatever ending she liked.  She wrote the story of her and The One and actually ended up killing him off. The writing was therapeutic, the story was cringe-worthy but she had caught the bug.

Almost a decade later, after many, many attempts at writing different types of novels, Rachael joined Romance Writers of Australia. Finally she learnt there was more to writing a book than just typing out random thoughts - she learnt about craft, conflict, consistent characters, etc - and she also learnt that she LOVED contemporary romance and that was what she wanted to write. She is super happy to be writing sassy, urban romances and small-town romance.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Aussie Book Review: Under Cover of Dark by Juanita Kees (Tag Raiders Book 2)

“New Australian romantic suspense follows Under the Hood, about a Western Australian drug gang, the teenagers they recruit, and the cop who wants to bring them down.

When Mark Johnson delves deeper into his investigation into the murder of Tiny Watts, and the involvement of a teenage gang with sleazy lawyer Gino Bennetti and his drug world ties, the last thing he expects is to be interviewing Gino’s widow, a woman in a world of trouble.

When her husband is shot and killed, it is both a relief and a disaster. Lily has her son to protect and secrets that run deeper than the scars she bears. Mark Johnson is the last person she wants uncovering those secrets, especially the truth about her son Luke’s involvement in Tiny Watts’s murder.

As the investigation continues and Lily’s wounds begin to heal, she finds the detective easy to trust and the friendship between them blossoms into more. But the secret Lily holds places everyone in very real danger. When it is finally revealed, Lily will lose everything: her son, the man she’s grown to love, her freedom and her life.”

A violent husband, a dirty lawyer and a woman who’s as cold as snow! These three people have the power to make Lily Benetti’s life absolute hell and hell hath no fury like a mother whose child is in danger!

When Liliana (Lily) Bennetti once again finds herself and her son Luke at the receiving end of domestic violence perpetrated by her husband, Gino, things quickly spiral out of control and it’s not long after that he finds himself on the receiving end of a fatal bullet.

Still going through various notes concerning the investigation of Tiny Watts’ murder, Detective Mark Johnson is called to interview Luke Bennetti who has been brought in for questioning. After a short court appearance pending his trial and sentencing, Luke is released on bail but signed up for an apprenticeship program at the Tiny Watts Teenage Rehabilitation Centre run by Scott and TJ Devin, but things are far from over with Nic Albero, Gino’s business partner, on the prowl and Lily doesn’t know if she can trust Mark enough with the truth that she hides.

Seeking solace at the rehab centre after her home is destroyed by a gas explosion (in which she narrowly escapes becoming another statistic thanks to Mark), Lily becomes fast friends with TJ and soon begins to help out around the centre in an effort to keep busy.  When she begins a project clearing one of the gardens, however, she unearths a tin of documentation regarding Tiny and his heritage possibly placing her in even more danger. With the documentation safely in custody, Mark tries to find the missing pieces of the puzzle which have begun to point to a common denominator, but the threats, harassment and imminent danger from Nic eventually force Lily and Luke to flee from their safe haven.

I’m a die-hard lover of Romantic Suspense but it’s been some time since I read one. So, when I saw Juanita Kees’ latest on NetGalley, I didn’t hesitate to request it even though she is an author I haven’t read before. Needless to say, it won’t be my last by this Ruby Award winner and fellow ex-South African.

Juanita sets the stage well for what’s to come in Lily and Luke’s life. Giving us image-provoking scenes right from the first page, the drama and suspense is well done with the romance aspect built in at a leisurely pace as she fleshes out her characters by giving us glimpses into their pasts - from the fragile, fearful character of Lily who has endured years of physical and emotional abuse and is now trying to hide a secret for fear that Luke will be implicated; to Luke who has been damaged by bearing witness to crimes committed by his father; and Mark, burnt-out from his job as a detective but who still maintains his loving and caring nature as he slowly falls in love. Then of course there’s the flippant Harold, Mark’s partner, who brings a dose of humour with him. And, for those of you already familiar with her previous work, her returning characters can surely only enhance the connections that develop between them and the reader.

The romance is sexy and mildly sensuous with the desire between Lily and Mark fairly dripping off the pages as their frustrations at having to keep their distance from one another comes to the fore.

With a well-crafted plot, believable characters and her relaxed way of writing, I think Juanita is well on her way to proving she has a gift for romantic suspense as she manages to capture her audience by keeping us in suspense while Mark ferrets out the truth.

I wish to thank Escape Publishing for providing me with an ARC e-Galley of this novel.

A Little About the Author

Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and now proudly Australian, Juanita is a freelance editor and proofreader. She escapes the real world by reading and writing romantic fiction.

The year 2012 was a turning point in her writing career, with her debut novel and prequel to the Tag Raiders Series, Fly Away Petabeing released in August.

Her short story Rough Diamond also made the finals in the Romance Writers of Australia Little Gems competition and was published in their Diamond Anthology.

Under the Hood, her third novel and the second in the Tag Raiders Series was released in March 2013.

Juanita is a keen volunteer and member at the Romance Writers of Australia. When she’s not writing, editing or proofreading, she is the cleaning fairy and mother to three boys (hubby included, his toys are just a little more expensive).

Her not-so-miniature dachshund, Sam, is her critique partner and keeps her company while writing.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Aussie Book Review: Already Dead by Jaye Ford

From the Cover

"Miranda shrank away from him, arm pressed to the driver's door. ‘What's your name?'

'I'm already dead. That's my name now. That's what they called me. I'm Already Dead.'

Journalist Miranda Jack is finally attempting to move on from the death of her husband by relocating up the coast with her young daughter, Zoe. Then a single event changes everything.

On a Monday afternoon as she waits at traffic lights, a stranger jumps into her car and points a gun at her chest.

Forced to drive at high speed up the motorway, Miranda listens to the frantic, paranoid rants of Brendan Walsh, a man who claims he's being chased and that they're both now running for their lives.

Two hours later her ordeal is over in the most shocking fashion. Miranda is safe but she can't simply walk away – not without knowing the truth about that terrifying drive.

As a journalist Miranda has always asked questions. But this time the questions are dangerous – and the answers might get her killed . . ."

Former Journalist Miranda Jack (aka Jax) is a widow with a young daughter. Still in the depths of grief after her husband, Nick, was killed in a hit and run accident twelve months before and, having put her career on hold, she has finally finished packing up their last bits and pieces and is on her way to Newcastle where her Aunt Tilda and Zoe await her so they can begin their new life in their new home.

Suddenly, the unthinkable happens when, whilst stopped at a traffic light in Wahroonga, a man climbs into her car with a gun pointed at her and tells her to drive.

Terrified of what might happen if she doesn’t obey him, she does what he asks but soon realises that he is fast losing touch with reality. Mumbling incoherently to himself while the gun never wavers too far from her, she tries to calm him down by telling stories in an attempt to build rapport with him and learns that his real name is Brendan Walsh and that he’s on the run!

As he vacillates between rage, delusion and mumbling, he begins to offer up bits and pieces of information such as the fact that he is married and has a son but that someone is following him and they won’t give up.

Two hours later, Jax’s terrifying thrill ride ends in the most horrific manner she has ever borne witness to and she thinks that her ordeal is over.  But all is not as it should be! Who was Brendan Walsh really? Why did he choose to get into her car?

As she finds herself being drawn deeper into the whys and wherefores of her traumatic experience with Brendan with a police investigation headed by Detective Aiden Hawke ensuing, she realises that her torment has only just begun! For Jax is about to discover an intricate web of deceit and murder, where nobody appears to be who she thought they were and her journalistic instincts will need to take a backseat. Who's side is Detective Hawke on? What does a recent murder of another journalist have to do with Brendan?

Will she have the courage to prove that she is a force to be reckoned with or can she count herself among those already dead!

As a lover of thrilling suspense, I  can’t believe that this was my first Jaye Ford novel and am still banging my head against the wall because I fear that my reading pile is going to topple right over once I add her previous three books to it!

In Already Dead, Jaye addresses the subject of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by taking an ordinary every day thirty-something woman and mother, who is trying to find herself in the aftermath of all the tragedy she has endured, putting her through paces that none of us would ever wish on our own worst enemy, initially with a man suffering from this debilitating condition and, thereafter, as a survivor, placing her in contact with those left behind, the questions, guilt, anger and consequences which could eventuate. Whilst she fictionalises events, based loosely on facts gained through her multitude of research, the possibilities are endless and we are given an admirable protagonist who, like anyone in her situation would be, is scared - of dying, of leaving her child an orphan, of not being able to ask questions, of not getting answers.

A recent interview with author Sara Foster had Jaye explaining that she had "seen a lot of media coverage about soldiers with PTSD and wanted to recognise some of the battles they face at home, as well as explore some of the issues within a crime setting". She further went on to say that she loves to "write about ordinary women thrust into danger who must find the strength of will to survive ... of the tough times in our lives and what it can take to dig deep enough." (full interview with Sara here)

Her writing is powerful, with her use of short sharp sentences conveying the urgency of her voice, so much so, that you can't help but keep turning the pages, as the third person narrative point of view effectively transports the reader into the mind of a woman who has been placed in a situation where she is no longer sure of what is real or imagined. And it doesn’t end there!

She continually ups the ante by throwing in other characters whose motives are questionable and, by revealing only a layer at a time the real circumstances surrounding the carjacking, she keeps the suspense taut as she makes Jax’s life (and ours) a living terror.

A person who suffers with mild anxiety myself (although far from the intense level of PTSD and anxiety portrayed in this novel), I’ve always been interested in reading about other people’s perspectives surrounding this severe affliction and the effects it has on those close to us. Jaye has revealed a bit more of it for me and, even though I was tucked up in my bed most nights while reading this novel, the hairs on my body stood on end as I surreptitiously checked that the blinds were closed and all the “what ifs” were never far from my thoughts.

My only quibble (and it’s not a quibble at all really) - the fact that Jax never did receive any closure on Nick’s death. But perhaps Jaye has something more in store for us on that front! At this stage, we can only hope.

All in all, an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller with complex characters, fast-paced action and unrelenting suspense that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

I wish to thank Random House Australia for providing me with an ARC eGalley proof of this great novel.

A Little About the Author

Jaye Ford is the author of three chilling suspense novels, Beyond Fear, Scared Yet? and Blood Secret. Beyond Fear won Best Debut and Reader's Choice at the 2012 Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards. Under the name Janette Paul, she is also the author of the bestselling romantic comedy, Just Breathe (available in ebook only).

Jaye is a former news and sport journalist, with the unusual claim to fame of being the first female presenter of a live national sport show in Australia, hosting Sport Report on SBS in 1988-89. She also worked in public relations before turning to crime fiction.

She lives at Lake Macquarie in the NSW Hunter Valley.