Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Pass The Word #3


Pass the Word is a Meme hosted by me featuring some great books that I have either read and not had time to review or had not had time to read at all.

In the words of Maud Casey, I do believe that "I was born with a reading list I will never finish".

Happy Reading everyone!

"The summer the Dovers move in next door, sixteen-year-old Helen's lonely world is at once a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian family, especially the petulant and charming daughter Victoria.

As the long, hot days stretch out in front of them, Helen and Victoria grow inseparable. But when a stranger appears, Helen begins to question whether the secretive Dover family are really what they seem.

It's the kind of summer when anything seems possible . . .

Until something goes wrong.

A suspenseful, spell-binding coming-of-age story about how one simple action on a summer's day can echo through the years. Perfect for fans of Louise Doughty's Apple Tree Yard, Liane Moriarty's The Husband's Secret and Helen Dunmore's The Lie."


"Luisa has met the love of her life ... now she just needs to figure out what to do with her husband.

Luisa has fallen madly in love with sculptor Jarvis, so she comes up with a plan to find a new wife for her husband Luke so she can exit stage left. She wants to screen potential stepmothers for her 8-year-old son Max and has strict criteria: the woman must be a single mother; have no more than two children; she can't be authoritarian; she must be creative, nurturing and not much prettier than Luisa.

After a few carefully orchestrated meetings with different women that fail to raise a spark, Luke finally connects with a potential replacement wife. 

However, Luisa isn't prepared for the fact that Luke's interest in the other woman makes him a better man and a more attractive husband. After suffering for years in a half-dead marriage, Luisa starts to remember what it was about Luke that she originally fell in love with. But is it too late?"


"She went from having everything to having nothing—except what she really needed.

Heiress Lily Schofield never had to think about money, until suddenly she no longer has any. Left destitute by her father’s shady dealings, Lily has only one place to go: Mirabook, her mother’s country estate and the place she spent every childhood summer running wild with the station manager’s son, Josh. Until that last time, ten years ago, when everything went horribly wrong.

Strong, reliable and definitely country, Josh Farrell may have worshipped and adored his summer friend, but that was before he found out what she and her family were really like. Mirabook has stood empty for a decade, and Josh has been waiting a long time for the chance to turn the tables and make Mirabook his own.

But now Lily is back in town, looking to make the move permanent, and all Josh can see is the truckload of unfinished business she brought with her…"


"Justine thought she knew who she was, until an anonymous caller seemed to know better...

After escaping London and a career that nearly destroyed her, Justine plans to spend her days doing as little as possible in her beautiful home in Devon.
But soon after the move, her daughter Ellen starts to withdraw when her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school. Justine begs the head teacher to reconsider, only to be told that nobody's been expelled - there is, and was, no George.

Then the anonymous calls start: a stranger, making threats that suggest she and Justine share a traumatic past and a guilty secret - yet Justine doesn't recognise her voice. When the caller starts to talk about three graves - two big and one small, to fit a child - Justine fears for her family's safety.

If the police can't help, she'll have to eliminate the danger herself, but first she must work out who she's supposed to be..."


"A remarkably warm-hearted, uplifting and inspiring story of one boy's survival against the odds.

Abdi's world fell apart when he was only fifteen and Somalia's vicious civil war hit Mogadishu. Unable to find his family and effectively an orphan, he fled with some sixty others,heading to Kenya. On the way, death squads hunted them and they daily faced violence, danger and starvation. After almost four months, they arrived in at refugee camps in Kenya - of the group he'd set out with, only five had survived.

All alone in the world and desperate to find his family, Abdi couldn't stay in Kenya, so he turned around and undertook the dangerous journey back to Mogadishu. But the search was fruitless, and eventually Abdi made his way - alone, with no money in his pockets - to Romania, then to Germany, completely dependent on the kindess of strangers. He was just seventeen years old when he arrived in Melbourne. He had no English, no family or friends, no money, no home. Yet, against the odds, he not only survived, he thrived. Abdi went on to complete secondary education and later university. He became a youth worker, was acknowledged with the 2007 Victorian Refugee Recognition Award and was featured in the SBS second series of Go Back to Where You Came From.

Despite what he has gone through, Abdi is a most inspiring man, who is constantly thankful for his life and what he has. Everything he has endured and achieved is testament to his quiet strength and courage, his resilience and most of all, his warm-hearted, shining and enduring optimism."


"I am the star of screaming tabloid headlines and campfire ghost stories. I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans. The lucky one.

Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a 'Black-Eyed Susan' by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars - or so she thought.

Now, decades later, the case has been reopened and the black-eyed Susans planted outside Tessa's bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison.

Tessa agrees to help with the investigation, but she is haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter's safety. Can she unlock the truth about the killer before it's too late?"

Friday, 18 September 2015

Guest Post & Giveaway: Writing What I Know by Helene Young


I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Helene Young to my blog today. It's been no easy task what with Helene's writing commitments and idyllic sailing life and then me being sick and my own full-time work obligations taking precedence over my blogging, but I'm glad we've finally got there - especially since Helene has kindly offered to give a copy of Northern Heat away to one lucky participant of the conversation at the end of this post. I would also like to just take this opportunity to thank Helene for making time for me in her busy schedule and also providing the photos included in this post.

For those of us avid Australian readers, Helene is no stranger but for those who aren't familiar, Helene is a multi-award winning author, whose idea for her ‘Border Watch’ series started early one morning when she discovered a body washed up on the beach. That incident planted the seed of an idea for a novel focusing on the terrorist threat to Australia and Wings of Fear (Border Watch) was born and went on to be voted Romantic Book of the Year in 2011.

Five more books have followed since then with Shattered Sky being published in 2011, Burning Lies in 2012, Half Moon Bay in 2013, Safe Harbour in 2014 and her latest, Northern Heat on 27 May 2015.

Helene has recently taken a leave of absence from her role as a Regional Flying Manager with Australia's largest regional airline, having worked in aviation for over 25 years. She recently appeared in "Judith Lucy is All Woman" in an episode showcasing women in aviation.

She has twice won the highly coveted RWA's Romantic Book of the Year, first in 2011 and then in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Mainstream Crime and Suspense. She has also been nominated in the Ned Kelly and Sisters in Crime Awards and her last novel, Safe Harbour, was voted Australia's 2014 Favourite Romantic Suspense Novel. This is the fourth time that Helene's stories have won that award.

A motivational speaker and writing mentor, you'll now find Helene sailing the Coral Sea with her husband aboard their catamaran, Roo Bin Esque (pictured above) and hopes to one day travel around the world in it.

Northern Heat is available for purchase from the following links:

___________________________________________________

Marcia, thank you for all the support that you give to writers through your reviews and interviews! It’s lovely to be visiting your blog today and to be able to share a little bit of my writing craft with you and your readers.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given in the course of my writing career is to ‘write what you know’, but please rest easy when I’m writing scenes of people being killed - I most certainly don’t have first hand experience of that! What I do know is aviation, sailing and regional Australia.

We moved to Cairns in 1997 for me to work as a pilot with QantasLink. I fell in love with North Queensland, with the people, the pace of life and the land itself. Cape York has a wild timelessness, as though it tolerates the humans who’ve had the temerity to put down their roots in her rich soil. I was privileged to have a view of that land from the air ever day I went to work. I never tired of seeing the navy blue of the Coral Sea dotted with the sandy cays of the Great Barrier Reef, strung together like a strand of freshwater pearls. I loved driving up the Cape in our battered old four-wheel drive and enjoying the serenity of the creeks and streams, the rainforest, the open savannah land and the pristine beaches.

When we moved into our house in Trinity Beach an older gentleman from over the road was on our front door step before we’d even finished hauling the boxes inside to welcome us to the neighbourhood. It felt like home from the very start. Walking our dog along the Esplanade brought something different every day from crocodile spotting, to robust discussions about the ineptitude of politicians, to impromptu gardening sessions because the council had dumped the mulch in the wrong spot and all hands were needed to move it to the correct garden beds for the working bee on Saturday morning.

When I started to write it was inevitable that my stories would include North Queensland and flying. The opening scene for my Border Watch series grew from the experience of finding the body of a man washed up on our beach. Whilst there was nothing sinister in his death my imagination started playing the ‘what if’ game. At the time I was flying with crews who’d previously flown for Coast Watch, which provided the airborne surveillance around our vast coastline. They shared their amazing experiences and were always happy to help ensure the accuracy of technical aspects of the stories.

I was also working in the Flight Simulators in Sydney training our pilots. That gave me the opportunity to crash land a Dash 8, with its undercarriage collapsed on one side, on a beach. That later became a pivotal scene in Wings of Fear (Border Watch). 

Whilst none of the characters in my books are real, the settings are almost always grounded in somewhere I’ve been. I’m sure it’s possible to write stories using Google Earth, but for me I have to have visited the place before I can bring it to life in my stories. The exception would be the scenes in Kabul in the opening of Half Moon Bay. To write those scenes I interviewed guys who’d been to Afghanistan with the Australian Army. One showed me video footage and photos that he’d taken. The guys talked about what the air felt like, what it smelt like. How the heat in summer was oppressive even while they could see snow on the highest peaks in the distance. They described the gut-churning, spiraling descent into Kabul so the aircraft presented the smallest target to a missile. They talked about the poverty, the people, how they felt when they knew they were coming home. They gave me the small details that enabled me to see Kabul through their eyes.

I’m always humbled by how generous people are with sharing the experiences of their careers and their lives. I’ve talked to policemen and women, to fire fighters, lawyers, chefs, sport coaches, doctors, stockmen, nurses, defence force personnel, counsellors and teachers all in the name of research. 

I was also surprised and very touched after the publication of my first book to receive emails from people who’d taken the time to go and explore Trinity Beach and find my heroine’s house. I’d deliberately chosen an empty block of land and then constructed Morgan’s home in my imagination. It made me appreciate that if I am writing about a real setting accuracy is important, as it will make it more vivid for my readers.

My latest book, Northern Heat, is set in Cooktown, a small settlement in Cape York at the end of the sealed road. We’d visited Cooktown many times in the sixteen years we lived in the north and I loved the eclectic mix of people, the rugged beauty of the area and the complexities of living somewhere so remote. My hero, Conor, lives aboard his beautiful yacht. We’ve been living aboard our catamaran, Roo Bin Esque, for two years now so when I was writing the scenes on Conor’s boat I was very much writing from the heart – although our boat is very different to Conor’s!

Writing what I know also allows me to connect with places and people in a deeper way so I will always be grateful for that early advice when I set out on this writing journey.

If you’re a writer is it important to you to have visited the places you’re writing about?

If you’re a reader does it make the story more believable if the setting is real or doesn’t it matter, provided the writer has brought the setting to life?

Join in the conversation and we’ll put your name in the draw for a copy of Northern Heat.

Thanks again for having me around for a chat, Marcia!

About the Book

In steamy northern Queensland, Conor is rebuilding his shattered life. Working at Cooktown's youth centre has given him the chance to make a difference again, and the opportunity to flirt with Dr Kristy Dark. The local GP is hiding her own secrets and struggling to raise her feisty teenage daughter alone.

When a severe cyclone menaces the coast, threatening to destroy everything in its path, tensions come to a head – and the weather is not the only danger. Cut off from the world and with her life on the line, Kristy will have to summon her courage and place her trust in Conor, or they'll both lose someone they love.


And to further whet your appetite, have a look at the fabulous book trailer:




Helene also loves to connect with her fans so if you'd like to do so, you can find her at the following links:

Website    Facebook    Twitter    Instagram

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Press Release - Hachette Australia: Twilight 10th Anniversary Special Edition


If you're anything like me, a devoted "Twi-hard", then you'll be excited to read this Press Release by Hachette Australia.

ATOM TO PUBLISH SPECIAL TENTH ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF TWILIGHT
FEATURING EXCLUSIVE BONUS CONTENT

Publication date: 7th October 2015

Atom, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group, announces the publication of a special tenth anniversary edition of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, the ground-breaking novel that became an internationally bestselling publishing phenomenon, a blockbuster film franchise, and a cultural touchstone around the world. This new edition will release on 7th October 2015, and features exclusive bonus content. It will be available in hardback ($39.99) and ebook ($19.99).

In celebration of the tenth anniversary, Meyer attended the annual Forever Twilight in Forks fan gathering. In addition, Meyer will also be participating in this year’s New York Comic Con for an event and signing on 8th October. Meyer will be in conversation with Josh Horowitz of MTV After Hours as they reflect on the tenth anniversary and discuss the new edition of her landmark novel. 

Meyer will also be doing book signings in the New York City and Los Angeles areas surrounding the release.

“It’s amazing to me that ten years have passed since Twilight was first published”, said Meyer. “For me, this anniversary is a celebration of the fans, with all of their incredible passion and dedication. I’m excited to get to spend time with them again.”

Twilight has enraptured millions of readers since its first publication in 2005 and has become a modern classic, redefining genres within young adult literature and inspiring a sensation that has had readers yearning for more.

The internationally bestselling Twilight Saga, which also includes New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella and The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, has sold nearly 155 million copies worldwide.

Twilight was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller. The film versions of Meyer’s Twilight Saga, starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, collectively won thirty-two Teen Choice Awards and seventeen MTV Movie Awards and grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide.

About Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer is the author of the number 1 bestselling Twilight Saga and The Host. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English literature, and she lives with her husband and three sons in Arizona.

Learn more at www.stepheniemeyer.com

Friday, 4 September 2015

Book Review: X by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #24)


"In hindsight, I marvel at how clueless I was . . .
What I ask myself even now is whether I should have picked up the truth any faster than I did,
which is to say not fast enough . . ."

When a glamorous red head wishes to locate the son she put up for adoption thirty-two years ago, it seems like an easy two hundred bucks for P. I. Kinsey Millhone. But when a cop tells her she was paid with marked bills, and Kinsey's client is nowhere to be found, it becomes apparent this mystery woman has something to hide. Riled, Kinsey won't stop until she's found out who fooled her and why.

Meanwhile, the widow of the recently murdered P. I. - and Kinsey's old friend - Pete Wolinsky, needs help with her IRS audit. This seemingly innocuous task takes a treacherous turn when Kinsey finds a coded list amongst her friend's files. It soon leads her to an unhinged man with a catalogue of ruined lives left in his wake. And despite the devastation, there isn't a single conviction to his name. It seems this sociopath knows exactly how to cause chaos without leaving a trace. As Kinsey delves deeper into the investigation she quickly becomes the next target of this tormentor. But can Kinsey prove her case against him before she becomes the next victim?"

It’s been some time since I read a Kinsey Millhone mystery (I just don’t get to the library these days) but I’ve long been a fan of Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Series starring hard-boiled private investigator Kinsey Millhone so, when I was invited to review this one I didn’t hesitate to say yes because for me, a new Kinsey Millhone mystery is always a source of comfort in that I know exactly what I’m getting in terms of both Ms Grafton’s writing and Kinsey’s character – it’s almost like reuniting with an old friend. 

Not much has changed in Kinsey’s life. It’s still the late 80’s (1989 to be exact) in Santa Teresa, California - mobile phones haven’t yet been invented and neither for that matter are computers much in use, allowing her to continue using her index cards to organise her thoughts; Henry Pitts’ converted garage apartment is still her home; her office is in the same location it’s been for a while; her perspective on love and relationships definitely hasn’t altered; and her trusty Smith Corona still gets a work-out - oh, but hang on, she does have a “new” car.

As far as the reader is concerned, nothing appears to be amiss from the Prologue – actually, as far as I was concerned, it was going to be pretty cut and dried – intercept the would-be art thief who has money on their mind. Not so for Kinsey who, it seems, is presented with a bit of a doozy when she is contacted by a woman trying to locate the son whom she gave up for adoption many years before who has recently been released from prison for armed robbery – all for the low fee of two hundred dollars!

Kinsey thinks she’s got in the bag – find the adopted son and dust her hands of the case – until the police knock on her door. Add to this the fact that she gets a call from an old deceased friend’s wife who’s trying to locate some paperwork to sort out her tax affairs as well as Henry’s grumblings about his water bill which, for some mysterious reason, he doesn’t seem to be able to reduce – no matter what drought-relief measures he tries to introduce. When she starts digging (pardon the pun – yes, there’s some serious digging going on here), she discovers that she’s been had by the woman who hired her (who doesn’t exist) and uncovers a lot more than she bargained for when she finds herself within the sights of a serial killer.

Even though her time zone hasn’t met the electronic age this in no way impacts on our enjoyment of Kinsey’s cases as we sit in our armchairs and bear witness to her old-fashioned but tried and trusted methods of sleuthing – using telephone directories, the resources available at her local library, staking out a suspect with just a camp chair, binoculars, a roll of toilet paper and a sandwich, much needed street-smarts and lots of legwork. She’s keen, determined, resourceful and full of her usual wit and one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about her is her sense of morality and relentless pursuit of justice.

Sue Grafton has produced a wonderful heroine in Kinsey and I’m certainly going to miss possibly one of the greater detectives of our time when the series comes to an end.

As usual Ms Grafton gives this hard-boiled detective and those who choose to follow her, a slow-burn of a mystery and I have no doubt that devoted fans will enjoy this third-last instalment in the Alphabet Series.

For those of you who haven’t yet met her, do yourself a favour and ferret out this series because Kinsey Millhone is set to earn her place in the detective hall of fame.

I wish to thank Pan MacMillan Australia for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and providing me with an uncorrected proof copy for review.

About the Author

Sue Grafton has become one of the most popular female writers, both in the UK and in the US, selling over twelve million copies worldwide.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1940, her father is the mystery writer C.W. Grafton, whose own work gave his daughter the initial inspiration to write.

She began her career as a TV scriptwriter before Kinsey Millhone and the "alphabet" series took off and plans to take Kinsey all the way through the alphabet to Z.

Sue is married to Steven Humphrey and lives and writes in Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky.

She is currently working on her next Kinsey Millhone novel.