Monday, 27 April 2015

Blog Tour - Aussie Book Review: Season of Shadow and Light by Jenn J McLeod


“Sometime this season ...

The secret keeper must tell.

The betrayed must trust.

The hurt must heal.

When it seems that everything Paige trusts is beginning to betray her, she leaves her husband at home and sets off on a road trip with her six-year-old daughter, Matilda, and Nana Alice in tow.

But stranded amid rising floodwaters on a detour to the tiny town of Coolabah Tree Gully, Paige discovers the greatest betrayal of all happened there twenty years earlier.

Someone knows that truth can wash away the darkest shadows, but . . . are some secrets best kept for the sake of others?”

I’ve been a fan of Jenn J McLeod now since her very first book in the Seasons series, House for all Seasons (my review here) which preceded Simmering Season (my review here) and I always get so excited when I hear that she’s got another novel coming out, hoping that I’m going to catch a glimpse of some of the characters I’ve met along the way.

Season of Shadow and Light certainly doesn’t disappoint and, whilst I didn’t quite get the glimpse that I was hoping for, the little town of Coolabah Tree Gully (as with Calingarry Crossing) shows that Jenn has a talent for creating vivid fictional worlds, with her characters being ones we can relate to as she ever so skilfully depicts the highs, lows and mostly complicated relationships between them as they juggle and deal with the lives that she has created for them.

For those of you who haven't yet read any of Jenn's novels, please be assured that there is no need to read these in order and they can quite easily be read as stand-alones!

Paige Turner’s life is a little bit weird at the moment. Suffering with the effects of a stroke which has left her with sensory deficiencies and partial numbness down her left side, depression after the loss of her second child, a marriage she’s fast losing her grip on, the effects of a brief encounter with a stranger at a shopping mall and the discovery of an old photograph, she decides to take Nana Alice and her six year old daughter, Matilda, on a road trip.

Only, the old photograph harvested from Nana Alice’s belongings, along with fate, seem to have other plans for them when their lack of directional focus finds them stopping in Coolabah Tree Gully. With inclement weather setting in and the creeks rising, there’s no way they’re getting out of there any time soon.

The townsfolk, although in Paige’s eyes, a little strange, welcome them with open arms and warm hospitality and, as she continues to contemplate her marriage and other deeply held desires, she begins to find a sense of peace, belonging and the hint of a better life for her and little Mati. She just can’t understand why Nana Alice, who has always only wanted the best for her, is so persistent about getting out of there so that she can mend her relationship with Robert.

Over the two weeks of their temporary tree change, Jenn slowly begins to unravel the biggest secret of all by offering us timely tidbits of information shared by her characters, thereby enabling us to begin putting the pieces of the puzzle together. But, when trouble comes to town, Paige and Alice will find themselves facing-off against the biggest lie of all and we, as the reader, can only hope that things will work out in their favour!

Two things that draw me into a novel are character and emotions and Jenn never disappoints me with hers. Weaving a tapestry of complex relationships, lies and deceit in her palette of summery colours, Jenn has lovingly imagined an array of characters whose narrations are vitally important in telling this story. Their emotions and secrets will pull at your heart-strings whilst their own hearts take a pummelling when that elephant in the room rises up to threaten everything they hold dear.

Paige, richly drawn with many facets, has to dig deep on this journey of self-discovery and I could so relate to her as she searched for that sense of belonging. Aiden injects a fantastic dose of quick-witted humour into the narrative and I found myself giggling at some of the things he said, such as “I’m thinking you might find your feet doing a Fred Flintstone if you don’t ease up on those imaginary brakes” and “That woman can round up a mob of beer-swilling boys faster than any kelpie I’ve seen working the yards at shearing time and make them move on command” whilst Alice annoyed me intensely with her self-centeredness in terms of her loyalties.

Whilst on the subject of characters, I’m not usually one for a plot with a young child in it because throughout my years of reading, I have come across authors who just don’t get the balance right, tending to "lose" their young characters when other more important plot strands gain momentum in their narratives. Jenn, however, should give lessons on how to incorporate child characters as Mati comes to life with her deft hand!

Touching on themes of depression, loss, identity, infidelity, alternative lifestyles, family dynamics, deceit, betrayal, family discord, secrets and lies and ultimately love, Jenn writes scenes that deliver an unforgettable emotional impact.

As always with Jenn’s novels, Season of Shadow and Light is tightly plotted and perfectly paced, abounding with twists that will lead you first in one direction but will soon have you changing focus as she skilfully ratchets up the intrigue and keeps you guessing right up until its cracker of an ending.

Beautifully written, poignant and seasoned with both shadow and light, this is a story, not only about dealing with the choices we’ve made along the way, the repercussions of lies kept and the manner in which they can affect the next generation but one of hope and second chances.

Do yourself a favour and "come home to the country"!

I wish to thank Simon & Schuster for providing me with a hard copy ARC and inviting me to take part in this fabulous blog tour.

Duffy the Writer is next in line on the Tour with her post going live on 29 April but if you'd like information on all the blogs taking part, you can find a schedule here.

About the Author

No stranger to embracing a second chance or trying something different, Jenn J McLeod took her first tentative steps towards a tree change in 2004, escaping Sydney’s corporate chaos to buy a small café in the seaside town of Sawtell.


For her, moving to the country was like coming home.

After ten years running a B&B on her NSW property, she now gets to write contemporary Australian fiction (life-affirming novels of small town life and the country roots that run deep) grey nomad style–a wandering writer of no fixed address. Yep! She's hit the road in a Ford and a fifth wheeler –writing in and under the southern cross.

Readers and reviewers alike enthusiastically received her debut, House for all Seasons, placing it at #5 on the 2013 Nielsen’s Best Selling Debut Novel list. Simmering Season is book two in her Seasons Collection and  Season of Shadow and Light will be published by Simon and Schuster Australia in May.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Aussie Author Round-Up: Pamela Hart, The Soldier's Wife


Readers who have come to know Pamela Freeman through her award-winning children’s books and adult fantasy will be excited to hear that she has decided to spread her wings into the adult historical genre, writing under the pen name of Pamela Hart.

In celebration of the timely release of her first historical fiction novel for adults, The Soldier’s Wife (due for publication on 28 April), as well as the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign in World War One, Pamela joins me today to answer some questions regarding her journey as a writer, her move to historical fiction as well as what ANZAC days means to her.

Pamela has a Doctorate of Creative Arts from the University of Technology, Sydney, where she has also lectured in creative writing.

She has also worked as a freelance business and technical writer in many areas including public relations and television.

Writing under the name Pamela Freeman, she wrote the historical novel, The Black Dress (a fictional account of the childhood of Mary MacKillop in Australia) which won the NSW Premier's History Prize for 2006 and is now in its third edition.

Pamela is also well known for her fantasy novels for adults, published by Orbit worldwide, the Castings Trilogy and her Aurealis Award winning novel Ember and Ash.

She lives in Sydney with her husband and their son, and teaches creative writing to adults at the Australian Writers' Centre.

The Soldier’s Wife is her 28th book.

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 Hachette Australia, especially Jess from their publicity department, without whom this interview would not have been possible.

Pamela, it’s really great to have you here to celebrate this exciting advancement in your writing career.

It really is! I think I’m as excited about The Soldier’s Wife as I was about my very first book!

Tell us a bit about your childhood?

I’m a Sydney girl, born and raised in the western suburbs near Parramatta. I had a wonderful family (still have!) and the only thing which marred a lovely childhood was a lot of illness – but that turned me into a reader, so I guess I wouldn’t have been a writer without it.

I know it’s been a long road for you with twenty-eight books now under your belt, but could you tell us about your journey to publication?

Well, unlike a lot of writers, I never wrote anything as a child or teenager. I didn’t start writing until I was at university (UTS), where I studied film and television production. I moved into script-writing after a couple of years in PR, working first for the Powerhouse Museum and then for ABC Kids, where I began as a researcher but ended up writing a lot of scripts. That was when I began writing stories for kids, and my first stories were published in the NSW School Magazine.

One of those stories, Betony’s Sunflower, had a cast of characters I was very interested in, so I kept writing stories about them (I’m still writing stories about them!). Those stories turned into my first book, The Willow Tree’s Daughter.

For all those people out there who are trying to become a writer, it’s worth saying that TWTD was rejected twice before it was picked up by Allen & Unwin, and then it got shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award! So just because your story is rejected doesn’t mean it’s no good.

I kept writing children’s stories for some time and then after my son was born I began writing for adults as well – the exact opposite of what most writers do.

What prompted your move to the adult historical genre?

My grandfather was a soldier at Gallipoli. Two years ago, my son’s teacher asked me to come to his class for ANZAC Day and show the kids my grandfather’s medals, and talk a bit about his experiences. So I did that – and in addition, I read out to the class the copies of the telegrams the family had received when he was wounded. It was a terrible litany: they moved from ‘We regret to report Private Arthur Freeman wounded’ to ‘seriously ill’ to ‘dangerously ill’ to ‘still dangerously ill’ and then, about a month after the first one had arrived, ‘out of danger.’

As I read the telegrams, I started to wonder what it would have been like to be the person receiving them – and that’s really where the book began.

My grandfather was an orphan and had put his age up to join the Army, so his telegrams went to his sister, but I wanted a stronger relationship than that – hence The Soldier’s Wife. I based the war experiences of my soldier on my grandfather’s war record.

I’ve not yet read The Soldier’s Wife (can’t wait for it to arrive at the top of my reading pile) so, for the benefit of myself and your readers, would you mind sharing with us the story we can expect?

It’s a story about the home front – about the people who waited for and longed for and loved the soldiers who went to war.

The main character is Ruby, who is a country girl from Bourke who was only married a week before her husband Jimmy joined up (that was surprisingly common). She comes to Sydney so she can see him again before he sails to the Dardanelles. After he leaves, she gets a job as a bookkeeper in a timber yard and because of the war is forced to take on far more responsibility than she expected. Naturally, this changes her – she doesn’t stay a naïve country girl for very long. Then she gets the first of those telegrams, telling her that Jimmy has been wounded…

Can’t tell you much more than that because of spoilers! 

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I’d already done quite a lot of research into Australia up to 1909 for my book The Black Dress, which is about the childhood of Mary MacKillop. So I had a good general background. But I knew very little about Sydney in 1915, and I did a great deal of research through contemporary documents and images, especially the newspapers of the day.

We know a lot now about what happened at Gallipoli, but I had to find out what was known then, which was quite a different understanding of the events there. One thing which really surprised me was how big the very first anniversary of the landing at Anzac Cove was – the ANZAC Day march started in Sydney in 1916, and some of the wounded from Gallipoli were driven through the streets, along with marching bands and troops on display. So it was a genuine outpouring of pride in our soldiers. The speeches that were made then are very moving.

Did you plan to have this story published to coincide with the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign?

It’s just a happy coincidence that the book is coming out during the Centenary celebrations – I certainly wasn’t thinking about that when I started it! My son’s teacher asked me to his class almost exactly two years ago, so it’s just luck that it could all be edited and ready to go now.

What does ANZAC day mean to you?

I’m very proud that Australia honours service and courage rather than victory, and to me that’s what ANZAC Day is all about. A lot of countries mourn the casualties of war, and many countries celebrate great victories, but Australia celebrates all those who served, those who died and those who survived, and acknowledges that they all paid a price for that service and that we should be grateful to them for that. I am very grateful.

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

‘The difference between an amateur writer and a professional is the number of drafts you’re prepared to do.’ In other words, draft and redraft and redraft as many times as it takes to get the story right. 

Being such an experienced writer as well as working for the Australian Writer’s Centre, you are obviously pretty au fait with writing advice! What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A lot of people say to me, ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book if only I had the time’. And my reply to them is a quote from Pat Walsh: ‘The number one reason your book won’t be published is that you haven’t written it’.

Seriously, if you want to be a writer you have to give it priority. And you have to be prepared to take criticism and do the redrafts. See motto above! You may need to radically change your narrative position. You may need to throw away 45 000 words. You may need to pull out one entire storyline from the book and change it all. Just do it. (And by the way, those are all things I’ve had to do to my work. I won’t say it was easy… sob.) You are in service to the story, not the other way around.

Whatever work it takes to get a good story is worth it.

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

I teach two nights a week at the Australian Writers’ Centre, and I’m a mum, so I fit my writing in around those things. I write primarily on a laptop because I can take it with me wherever, and when I’m in the middle of a book I aim for 10 000 words a week. If I can do 5 x 2000 a day, that’s great, but life is often not so regular, so I find it easier to set a weekly target. For example, as I’m way behind my target this week I’ll be writing all weekend!

What are you working on next?

I’m in the middle of a novel set in 1920, about Margaret, a war bride who comes out from England to meet her ANZAC husband. He doesn’t meet her ship, and Army records show he’s already married. So she starts a new life in Sydney. Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that!

One of the fun things in this novel is that Margaret gets involved in the surf life saving movement and learns to ‘surf shoot’ (which is what they called body-surfing back then). I’m having a lot of fun figuring out what kind of swimming costume she would wear – Aussie girls were right in the forefront of fashion in that area!

Now, onto the easy and fun part of the interview!

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer it?

No, that’s the hard question!

How about: Your husband is a wonderful man, isn’t he? And I would answer: Why yes, he is! (As I say this, he’s working on my new website, pamela-hart.com. So he deserves praise.)

Pizza or Pasta?

Pasta as long as I am making the sauce (I have allergies). And if I can make the pasta, too, so much the better! Favourite recipe is fresh-made fettucine with toasted pine nuts, asparagus and leeks tossed in olive oil – with grated parmesan for those who like it.

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

I’ve just finished reading Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, and I’ve been forcing everyone I know to try them, so I guess it would be Wolf Hall (although everyone but me seems to have already read it). Why? Because it’s a fascinating, fabulous exploration of a complex and difficult character.

Second choice (by a hair) would be Kimberly Freeman’s Evergreen Falls because I love the way Kim interweaves two historical periods and always gives you such fascinating characters.

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

I’m a drummer (mostly jazz, only at home).

The most perfect food in the world is a bowl of wonton noodle soup.

When I look into my wardrobe, I realise I have to stop buying black, red and white clothes. Blue, maybe. Green. Purple?

Pamela, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you here with me today. Thank you for joining me.

It’s been lovely to chat.  I hope you enjoy the story.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Friday "Foodie" Feature: Season of Salt & Honey by Hannah Tunnicliffe - Recipe Extract


Published on the 1st April, Season of Salt & Honey by Hannah Tunnicliffe is a deliciously "heart-warming novel of love, grief and antipasti".

Yes, I said "deliciously" because it has some really wonderful Italian-inspired recipes preceding each chapter including, amongst others, a moist Banana Bread and a refreshing Rosolio alle Erbe (Sweet Herb Cordial/Liqueur) - recipes that all go a long way to reflecting Frankie's Italian heritage and their relationship with food - be it joy or sorrow, there's a food solution for just about every emotion!

Today, the fab publicity group at Pan Macmillan have kindly authorised me to publish the Spring Risotto featured in the novel - a novel that I'm sure will delight both the foodie and the reader in you.

Before I get onto that all-important recipe though, I'd just like to introduce both the book and Hannah to you.

Here's the blurb:

Francesca 'Frankie' Caputo has it all figured out. She's finally going to marry the man she loves and then they will live happily ever after. But when a freak accident cuts her fiancé Alex's life tragically short all of Frankie's future plans suddenly disintegrate. Drowning in grief, Frankie flees from her overbearing Italian-American family, and escapes to an abandoned cabin owned by Alex's parents in a remote part of Washington forest.

While seeking comfort in solitude, Frankie reluctantly connects with her forest neighbours - the effervescent, flame-haired Merriem, kind and handsome Jack and his sprite-like daughter, Huia. As her heart slowly begins to heal, Frankie discovers a freedom that's both exhilarating and unsettling to everything she has always known for sure.

So when secrets she's buried and her old life come crashing back in, Frankie is faced with a life-altering decision. Will she slip quietly back into her safe, former existence? Or will a new and stronger Frankie Caputo stand up and claim her new life?



Born in New Zealand, Hannah Tunnicliffe is a self-confessed nomad. She has previously lived in Canada, Australia, England, Macau and, while travelling Europe, a campervan named Fred.

She currently lives in New Zealand with her husband and two daughters, having happily ditched a career in Human Resources to become an author. 

When she isn't writing or reading she can usually be found baking or eating and sometimes all four at the same time (which is probably somewhat hazardous).

Hannah is founder and co-author of the blog Fork and Fiction, which, unsurprisingly, explores her twin loves - books and food. Season of Salt and Honey is her second novel.

Here's that recipe I promised. I do hope you enjoy it!


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Blog Tour - Guest Post: Broads with Baggage by Kylie Kaden


I'm delighted to be taking part in the #MissingYou Blog Tour hosted by Random House Australia. Following on from the success of Kylie Kaden's debut novel, Losing Kate in 2014, Missing You, was released on 1 April this year and is "another tantalising love-story-turned thriller".

I previously reviewed Missing You (my review here) and can vouch for the fact that "I was taken on a suspenseful and alluring journey into the lives of Aisha and Ryan and their high-needs son Eli", thoroughly enjoying "her exploration of human complexity and darkness" as she delves into themes such as: the raising of a high-needs child; the strain placed on relationships when wanting different things in life; the question of "Is love enough?" when settling down and everyday issues become a reality; and the complexities of sibling rivalry. All in all, Kylie has definitely avoided second-book syndrome and once again brought us a thoroughly engaging read!

Whilst I am the last stop on the tour and, before I introduce you to Kylie, there are many other great blogs that have taken part and it would be wonderful if you could pop on over to read their reviews and see what she had to say in her guest post contributions. Here's a list to make it easier:

- Culture Street asked Kylie to select 5 Books of Influence
- Book Review by Shelleyrae Book'd Out
- Book Review by Nicole Has Read
- Book Review at Debbish
- Book Review by Monique at Write Note Reviews
- Guest Post at Nicole Has Read
- Book Review by 1 Girl 2 Many Books
- Book Review by Australian Women Online

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Kylie for contributing this Guest Post.

Brisbane writer Kylie Kaden is a self-diagnosed bookworm and recovering chocoholic. Raised in Queensland, she spent holidays camping with her parents and two brothers at the Sunshine Coast, where much of Losing Kate was set. She now lives in Brisbane with her husband and three young sons. As the only female in a house of males, Kylie tops up her sanity by writing whilst her youngest naps (and the washing mounts). She is adamant the next addition to the Kaden household will be female…and canine.

Kylie graduated with an honours degree in psychology from Queensland University of Technology in 2000, but cites it helps little with meeting the challenges of parenting in the real world. She shares her frazzled parenting experiences in her regular column in My Child magazine, and is a strong advocate for telling it like it is when it comes to the struggles (and joys) of raising kids.

Kylie knew writing was in her blood from a young age, using her brother’s Commodore 64 to invent stories as a child. Losing Kate took shape as she drank tea at the kitchen bench, often with a toddler on her lap and ABC Kids chirping in the background.

She considers being a novelist the best job in the world – what other occupation lets you wear Ugg boots to work and make things up for a living?

Missing You is available in both paperback and eBook and can be purchased at the following links:

Booktopia    Boomerang Books    Bookworld    Amazon    Kobo    QBD
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Would Bridget Jones have been anywhere near as endearing if she were a skinny, eloquent, epitome of success? Would The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo have a fraction of the revenge-fuelled-determination to hunt down the killer if she hadn’t come across more than her fair share of injustice (or less tattoos?). Would catching Mr Darcy have been anywhere near as interesting if he didn’t have his own dark and twisty bits? I don’t think so.

A book where picture-perfect people sashay their way through life with nothing to learn sounds like a boring read. I love books that teach me about the human condition; how it’s bolstered by love, shattered by separation, tested by adversity. What is there to live for if we’ve mastered everything already? We may not always get a happy ending, but most of us are satisfied if the protagonist at least took steps towards bettering themselves.

One reviewer described my books as being about flawed characters muddling through adversity. I’ve never been prouder, because at least flawed characters are realistic. And isn’t that the main thing we yearn for in fiction? For characters to be written so convincingly, the dialogue so authentic that we relate to them like real people - feel their pain, yearn to see what they do next? 

The Aussie spirit loves the underdog: the broken, the down-trodden. The quirky ones that fight normalcy and those with a chip on their shoulder.   Is it because we want to save them, see the story through to witness them overcome their biggest vice, shatter their Achilles heel? Or is it simply because we can relate to imperfection?

Missing You is full of people with baggage: Aisha - an offbeat beauty, struggling to be the mum she never had. Ryan: an opportunistic-charmer, coming to terms with being the dad he never knew he wanted to be, and Pat, a stuck-in-his-ways grandpa lumbered with the care of a difficult 4yo grandson Eli: who sees the world differently to the rest of us. Pat described his grandson as being just like his daughter ‘high maintenance, but worth the fight’.  In life or on the page, they’re the kind of characters I like to meet. 

There is a line in Missing You where Aisha says ‘If I meet someone who seems perfectly normal and well balanced, I figure I just don’t know them well enough yet’. Because aren’t we all a little quirky in some way? Don’t we want to feel like if they can overcome their flaws - so can we?

Whether it be a compulsion to hang the washing with colour coding, an inability to commit to a relationship, or an irrational obsession for boy bands, everyone has something they can work on to be the best version of themselves. With the right ensemble of flawed characters, and the appropriate hurdles to clear, you have yourself a story worth investing in.

Thanks for having me Marcia!

About the Book

“Missing You is a tantalising love story and a seductive suspense novel: ‘Our lives were built around the strength of a kiss between strangers. Yet seven years on, look where it led us . . .'

When Aisha met Ryan she fell hard for his good looks and easy charm. Why worry that he didn't want children or a 9 to 5 job? Nothing and no one would come between them.

But with the birth of their high-needs son, Eli, their extraordinary love is shackled into an ordinary life, their passion blunted by responsibility.

Until Ryan can't take it anymore.

Then, following a mysterious phone call late one night, Aisha leaves four-year-old Eli in the care of her elderly father Patrick - and doesn't come back.

As Patrick struggles with the grandson he barely knows or understands, his frustration with his missing daughter and absent son-in-law quickly turns to fear.

Particularly when blood is found in Aisha's abandoned car . . .”

Kylie loves to connect with her readers, so you're more than welcome to follow these links:


And, there's a Free Sample Chapter here.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Guest Post: From Digital to Print by Lisa Joy


Lisa Joy blew onto the Australian literary scene with her "deliciously funny and romantic novel, Yes, Chef!" during 2014.

In a Guest Post celebrating the release of Yes, Chef! in digital form last year (see the full post here), Lisa said that "my competition is not just other popular fiction books but magazines and social media and games like Candy Crush and Hay Day"!

Well, she appears to have defeated that competition and won over a number of fans because she's back! This time in paperback with a stunning new cover to boot!!

Today, she's here to share that exciting journey.

Lisa began writing stories in her teenage years, but decided she needed to get her heart broken and live in another country before pursuing a career as a novelist. Born in Sydney, she spent most of her childhood wearing pink tights and leotards at ballet class.

At age twenty-one, deciding she wasn’t cut out for the famished life of a ballerina, she left her safe and somewhat predictable existence behind and travelled to London, where she worked as a television producer’s PA, in fashion retail and the restaurant business. Having fallen head over heels in love with London, travelling Europe, eating amazing food and the occasional stint on stage and screen, Lisa stayed put for about seven years, until finally, family called and she returned to Australia to work as PA to a well known Melbourne chef.

Her writing took a dramatic turn for the better after she attended a commercial fiction masterclass with author Fiona McIntosh. She now lives in the picturesque Dandenong Ranges outside Melbourne on an small-acreage farm with her husband and four chooks where, in addition to writing novels, she grows vegetables, berries and herbs to sell to some of Melbourne's best restaurants.

Yes, Chef! is available for purchase from the following links:

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I don’t mind admitting I felt a small twinge of disappointment when the commissioning editor of Penguin’s digital-first imprint rang me to say they were interested in publishing Yes, Chef!. As a book lover I had dreamt of one day holding my own book and placing it on my bookshelf amongst the work of authors I admired, but with an eBook there would be nothing to hold. This disappointment lasted about ten seconds before I gave myself a metaphorical boot up the bum. A major publishing house wanted to publish my book. This was good news, in any format. 

Things move quickly in the digital world and Yes, Chef! was released only two months after I was officially offered a contract. Timing is everything, they say, and Penguin were keen to release the book around the MasterChef finals while people were already in the foodie frame of mind.

To my surprise I received a phone call from my editor just three weeks after the eBook was released with the happy news that Penguin had decided to commission a print edition. I had known all along that this was a possibility but I had no idea as to whether it was likely or not. I was delighted to hear that Yes, Chef! had been well received; I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for days. But after going through the eBook process, I had a greater respect for the format and knew that there was no difference in the quality of the writing or editorial work between digital and print. 

Needless to say, it was all very exciting, especially for someone new to publishing like me. I had a meeting with the sales editor from Penguin and was fascinated to learn that the author’s background can often sell a book to bookstores more than the book itself. We chatted about how I live and work on a market garden farm, my love of food and travel and my experience working as PA to a well-known chef. And then came the new cover – squeeeee! I think it’s gorgeous and while it probably doesn’t allude to some of the darker aspects to the novel, it certainly portrays the fun side to my heroine’s London foodie lifestyle. 

Of course, there are certain benefits to having a physical book, aside from being able to display it proudly on your bookshelf. My book launch was enormous fun and visiting bookstores for signing events is a dream come true for a new author. It’s also easier to engage certain media for publicity when you can send them a physical book, which is a shame for eBook authors as there really is no difference. A horrible woman once told me that an eBook is not a REAL book – which is simply not true.



About the Book

Sassy foodie Becca Stone is over her job taking reservations in one of London's most successful restaurant empires. So when she is unexpectedly catapulted into working as PA to celebrity chef Damien Malone, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime.


Becca is quickly caught up in an exciting whirlwind of travel, reality TV and opening nights, and even her usually abysmal love life takes a turn for the better. But as Becca is slowly consumed by the chaos of life in the spotlight, she begins to lose touch with her friends, her heart and even with reality. Working with Damien has its challenges and she is soon struggling with his increasingly outrageous demands and sleazy advances, all while managing the ridiculous requests of his self-centred wife.  It takes a disastrous trip to Italy for Becca to realise that she may have thrown away exactly what she's been looking for all along.

Inspired by real-life adventures, this deliciously funny and romantic story reveals a tantalising glimpse of the trendy restaurant scene: a world where chefs are treated like rock stars, and cooking isn't all that goes on in the kitchen.

Lisa loves to connect with her fans so, if you would like to do that, you can find her at the following links:


Website     Facebook    Twitter    Instagram    Pinterest

Friday, 17 April 2015

Guest Post: Why is writing about Infidelity taboo but writing about Brutal Murder isn't? by Tess Woods


Today on the blog I welcome debut author Tess Woods who has written a frank but heartfelt post on why she chose to write about infidelity in her novel, Love at First Flight.

As I mentioned in my review (which you can find here), "I’m not usually one for enjoying my fiction with a dose of extra-marital affair" but, my "curiosity was compounded by the fact that I wanted to find out what motivates people to do the things they do".

Needless to say, Tess took my emotions on a roller-coaster ride as her protagonist battled her inner demons and, whilst I was somewhat unsettled by the issue, I could see exactly where she was coming from. It's what happens in the aftermath that totally blew me away and made me realise that a marriage is what you make of it!

Tess Woods is a health professional who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them.

When she isn't working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch.

Love at First Flight is available as an eBook from the following links:

Amazon    Kobo

Go on, read it! You know you want to!!
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So I wrote a story about an affair. It wasn’t something I planned to do. At no point in my life did I think, “Know what I’d really love to write about? A wife who cheats.”

In fact, up until the day I sat down and wrote the first draft of Love at First Flight, at no point in my life did I ever think about writing a book about anything at all. But when inspiration presents itself, you grab it. Well at least that’s what I did. I was inspired by this story, I was inspired by Mel and her struggle. 

Mel’s character came to me, all of a sudden and out of nowhere, and when she came to me, it wasn’t her having an affair, it was her returning home to her husband, walking into her house, thinking she could start over with him and put the affair behind her.  But her husband, Adam, was waiting for her and he knew what she had done. That scene came to me and it’s the very first scene I wrote. The rest of the book had to fit around that scene. 

So from the very start, Love at First Flight was a story about what makes a marriage tick. Mel’s infidelity ripped apart the picture perfect married bliss that this couple appeared to have and that was what I wanted to sink my teeth into. How does a relationship deteriorate to the point where a seemingly together, happy woman goes on a chosen path of self-destruction and then how do her and her husband deal with it? 

I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote until I had delved as deeply into Adam’s and Mel’s marriage as I could. It was at times confronting, painful and raw, especially considering that while writing I was in my own real-life marriage. Writing made me examine my own relationship in terms of what it was about our marriage that was strong and what needed work and I looked deeply into myself. My novel wasn’t a journal or an autobiography, it was a pure work of fiction, but it was written from my soul. And I think that’s why it connects with people. I think readers can see when an author is authentic in their words and I was nothing if not honest with mine when I was inside the story. I wanted to explore the mechanics of Adam’s and Mel’s marriage and I did and I was happy with it.

But then I put myself out there in the world as someone who had written a novel about infidelity and I was stunned at the reaction. I had no idea that the response would be such passionate aversion to this topic. And what I never saw coming was that people would judge me for it. The focus of me stepping out as a writer became the affair. I had dared to write about an affair! Did this mean I wanted to have an affair? Had I already had an affair? The questions came thick and fast. My original inspiration to explore a wife and mum’s struggle with love and duty and self-discovery was lost in the middle of all the outrage about a woman committing adultery and whether that woman was in fact me. 

When I told our family and friends I had written a book that was about a couple’s struggle with infidelity, some of them sniggered and suggested I was living out a fantasy on paper. Why, I wondered? Did Patricia Cornwell fantasise about murdering people? Did Jodi Picoult fantasise about being in an incestuous relationship? Did Harper Lee fantasise about being raped? Why is it that if you write about infidelity it’s because you want to have an affair?

And then came the literary agents I submitted the manuscript to. One sent me back a rejection letter saying:

“You won’t get anywhere writing about infidelity, nobody wants to read it, especially a book about an affair where the woman is not the victim but the one initiating it. You will garner no sympathy for your protagonist. It will never sell. You’re a talented writer, so forget this book, start over and send me your next book.” 

Hmm, so if infidelity won’t sell, why then were The Bridges of Madison County, The Horse Whisperer, Tully and The Bride Stripped Bare all such epic sellers?

And this from another agent:

“What a despicable theme. No thank you.”

I wondered about other despicable themes such as child abuse, homophobia, racism and bullying. Novels dealing with these issues were being published so why was infidelity such a taboo?

Thankfully, literary agent Jacinta Di Mase saw what I saw in my characters and understood what I was trying to get across with Love at First Flight. Jacinta believed in my story and went in to bat for me with publishers. The book generated a lot of interest, but Jacinta also came across the infidelity taboo when one of Australia’s leading publishers refused to look at the manuscript because she refused to look at any book about adultery. Again, thankfully Anna Valdinger at HarperCollins also believed in the story and offered me a publishing contract. Adam’s and Mel’s marriage was finally set free into the digital universe!

And then came the readers! I have been incredibly lucky in that the vast majority of readers and reviewers have been glowing in their praise and have seen and understood that my story is not about the glorification of infidelity but the effects that come from the breakdown of trust in a union. I’m so grateful that I persisted with this story and that it has been so well received. But I have certainly been on the receiving end of negative feedback too. I have family members that refuse to read the book, or even acknowledge that it has been published, as they find the topic insulting and offensive and I have readers who have written me hate mail for writing about sex outside of marriage. It hurts, that’s for sure, but at the same time I’m defiant and I’m proud and I stand by my book. I told my truth and if people are going to disregard Love at First Flight because it looks at infidelity, so be it.

If those same readers then lap up stories about grisly rapes and murders and child abuse, hey who am I to judge right?

Tess would love to connect with her readers so, if you'd like to do so, you can find her here:


About the Book

Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don't regret it.

What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?

Mel is living the dream. She's a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.

What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel's dream life turns into her worst nightmare.

Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Blog Tour Schedule: Season of Shadow and Light by Jenn J McLeod - Hosted by Simon & Schuster Australia

On Monday 27th April I'll be kicking off the Blog Tour for Jenn J McLeod's third novel in her Seasons series, Season of Shadow and Light with my review.

Please be sure to visit all the bloggers and publications who have worked very hard with Jenn and Simon & Schuster to bring this fabulous tour to you.

If you'd like to follow the conversation on Twitter, you can do so by using the hash-tag #SeasonofShadowandLight.

Here's the Schedule, beautifully presented by Simon & Schuster:


Monday, 13 April 2015

Aussie Book Review: Missing You by Kylie Kaden


“Missing You is a tantalising love story and a seductive suspense novel: ‘Our lives were built around the strength of a kiss between strangers. Yet seven years on, look where it led us . . .'

When Aisha met Ryan she fell hard for his good looks and easy charm. Why worry that he didn't want children or a 9 to 5 job? Nothing and no one would come between them.

But with the birth of their high-needs son, Eli, their extraordinary love is shackled into an ordinary life, their passion blunted by responsibility.

Until Ryan can't take it anymore.

Then, following a mysterious phone call late one night, Aisha leaves four-year-old Eli in the care of her elderly father Patrick - and doesn't come back.

As Patrick struggles with the grandson he barely knows or understands, his frustration with his missing daughter and absent son-in-law quickly turns to fear.

Particularly when blood is found in Aisha's abandoned car . . .”

I was blown away by this, Brisbane-based author Kylie Kaden’s second novel. After reading her debut novel, Losing Kate, last year (my review here), I didn’t think she could get any better. Boy was I in for a surprise! As most of you that follow my blog know, I’ve never really enjoyed novels from the first-person perspective but, thankfully, our Aussie authors are showing me that they can get this point of view right and I’ve begun to embrace this manner of narrative with its sense of immediacy and intimacy.

In Missing You, I was taken on a suspenseful and alluring journey into the lives of Aisha and Ryan along with their high-needs son Eli and thoroughly enjoyed her exploration of human complexity and darkness.

When Aisha met Ryan at Uni, it was instant love, consummated by a mind-blowing kiss. Seven years later, even though Ryan didn’t want the classic suburban life with one point five children (or however much it is these days), they are married with one son, four-year old Eli, who is on the spectrum – and life has changed for them.

Ryan, in a management position feels that Aisha, a lawyer, is no longer the girl he met and Aisha feels much the same, preferring to see to the needs of their son first and foremost. After an argument that sees Ryan fleeing their home and Aisha seeking the comfort of her family, she goes missing after receiving a telephone call and telling her father that she is going to see a friend in need. When she doesn’t return home, the family is catapulted into turmoil – this is not like Aisha at all – she would never leave her son!

Kylie ratchets up the suspense when the police discover Aisha’s car with blood in it and her family begin to fear the worst. However, it is the events that follow that will have your stomach churning.

They say that the second novel is sometimes the hardest to write and, in the time that I’ve been reviewing, I’ve read many a book review where reviewers have been disappointed by an author’s sophomore attempt. For those of you who read Kylie’s first novel believe me when I say that, as an author, she has grown.

I really fell in love with Patrick, Aisha’s father who, usually a bit surly and unable to find a way to relate to his grandson, is given this opportunity to connect with Eli. Although initially he is somewhat unreliable with regard to certain aspects (which adds to the tension) due to him not being privy to Aisha and Ryan's innermost thoughts and interactions like the reader is, as we move through the story the couple's internal monologue and dialogue reveals all and the different viewpoints allow us to sympathise and gain a better understanding of all the characters.

Of course, a story like this has to have an antagonist and Kylie has superbly crafted hers. In actual fact she introduces two possibilities, intensifying the suspense factor and increasing the uncertainty of the plot and I commend any author who is able to make it impossible for me to distinguish exactly who it is until they are absolutely ready.

Cleverly constructed, captivatingly written and, at times poignant, I found it difficult to put this novel down and read it within a day. Just like Aisha and Ryan got under each other’s skin, I have no doubt that this book will creep under yours! Highly recommended.

I wish to thank Random House Australia for providing me with an eARC of this novel.

About the Author


Brisbane writer Kylie Kaden is a self-diagnosed bookworm and recovering chocoholic. Raised in Queensland, she spent holidays camping with her parents and two brothers at the Sunshine Coast, where much of Losing Kate was set. She now lives in Brisbane with her husband and three young sons. As the only female in a house of males, Kylie tops up her sanity by writing whilst her youngest naps (and the washing mounts). She is adamant the next addition to the Kaden household will be female…and canine.

Kylie graduated with an honours degree in psychology from Queensland University of Technology in 2000, but cites it helps little with meeting the challenges of parenting in the real world. She shares her frazzled parenting experiences in her regular column in My Child magazine, and is a strong advocate for telling it like it is when it comes to the struggles (and joys) of raising kids.

Kylie knew writing was in her blood from a young age, using her brother’s Commodore 64 to invent stories as a child. Losing Kate took shape as she drank tea at the kitchen bench, often with a toddler on her lap and ABC Kids chirping in the background.

She considers being a novelist the best job in the world – what other occupation lets you wear Ugg boots to work and make things up for a living?


Saturday, 11 April 2015

Aussie Book Review: Love at First Flight by Tess Woods


“Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don't regret it.

What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?

Mel is living the dream. She's a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.

What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel's dream life turns into her worst nightmare.

Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.”

I’m not usually one for enjoying my fiction with a dose of extra-marital affair - after all I’ve been in a monogamous marriage for sixteen years and both my husband and I have witnessed first-hand the pain and devastation that occurs with these types of situations - but I must admit I was just slightly curious when I received the request from debut author Tess Woods (thank you Ellie O'Neill) to read and review her novel. After reading the blurb, that curiosity was compounded by the fact that I wanted to find out what motivates people to do the things they do … and so, I started reading!

Mel, a GP in Perth with a couple of teenaged children, has been happily married to her anaesthetist husband, Adam, for fourteen years - until she boards a Melbourne-bound flight to spend the weekend with her best friend Sarah, something that they’ve decided to do annually after the last one went so well.

On the flight, she meets Matt, a physiotherapist headed home to his fiancée after a job interview. It’s an instant physical attraction that makes her feel somewhat uncomfortable as Matt, so taken with her, dishes out compliments left right and centre  – yep, he’s got it bad – but so has Mel even though she continues to raise red flags when he enters territory she’s not comfortable in.

In the three hours they spend together chatting, Matt is astounded by the fact that Mel actually “gets him”. No-one else ever has, not even Lydia. Likewise, Mel has never had a man pay so much attention and compliments to her and she somewhat reluctantly begins to revel in it even though she's happily married.

Once they reach their destination, they say their goodbyes and each goes their own way. But, neither of them can rid themselves of the thoughts that consume them and, after a night on the town with Sarah, Mel finds a hastily scribbled note with Matt’s number tucked into the novel that she was planning on reading on the flight and makes a decision - even though she continually thinks back to the devastation that occurred in her parents’ marriage when her father strayed. Is this really love at first sight, enduring love or a fatal attraction that will have repercussions for all involved?

Wow! For a debut novel, this is simply outstanding. Perth-based author Tess Woods gets right into her characters mind-sets and capably managed to bring so many of my emotions to the fore ranging from antipathy to sympathy as she explores the reasons why some relationships work and why wives (or husbands) stray! For me, the initial reluctance I felt about reading a novel showcasing infidelity soon dissipated as she deftly conveyed the pure range of emotions experienced by these characters and, by the last quarter of the book, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably thinking that I’d somehow found my way into the emotional debris of a Nicholas Sparks’ novel (whose stories I love by the way). It’s the way Tess portrays her subject that makes all the difference as Mel finds herself caught in a web of lies and moral subterfuge as this novel takes the cheating trope and turns it upside down.

When asked the question “What do you hope readers will take from your book?”, Tess simply states that “I’m not out to challenge anybody and I don’t have a life-changing message for anybody. I simply want to entertain” but I do believe that this novel will open your eyes and possibly teach a valuable lesson – after all, we’ve always been told to learn from someone else’s mistakes! 

Told in first person from the perspectives of both Mel and Matt, Tess has chosen the perfect point of view from which to convey the character’s motivations which also lends a sense of immediacy and intimacy that makes the narrative all the more convincing and ups the pace of both the tension and the guilt. Her character development is pitch-perfect and for me, both the characters and her vividly painted backgrounds of Melbourne and Perth lived and breathed on the page.

Unsettling but entertaining and tastefully written, Tess has taken a combustible issue and given us a gut-wrenching and thought-provoking novel about obsession, love, choices and guilt so, put aside all the notions you’ve ever held about the motivations behind love at first sight and infidelity and pick up this novel – go on, don’t let the premise be a deal-breaker!

Tess is definitely an author to keep on your watch-list and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us in her next novel, Flat White with One.

I wish to thank her for taking the time to contact me as well as HarperCollins for providing me with an ARC of this novel which I have no doubt fans of Liane Moriarty will not want to miss.

About the Author


A born and bred Egyptian, Tess Woods is a health professional who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them.  Love at First Flight is her first novel.

When she isn't working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch.

She'd love her fans to connect with her so, if you would like to do so, please join her on Facebook or visit her Website.