Review & Giveaway: Colours of Gold by Kaye Dobbie

 

Title: Colours of Gold

Author: Kaye Dobbie

Published: Harlequin MIRA April 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from July 06 to 08, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Colours of Gold by Kaye Dobbie, also known as Sara Bennett and Lilly Sommers, is a captivating tale combining mystery, romance, history and a touch of ‘other’.

With the narrative alternating between the past and the present, Colours of Gold tells the story of a small girl found near death in a sealed barrel in the Murray River in 1867 and her connection to a present day art restorer’s discovery of a Trompe L’oeil in an old Melbourne hotel scheduled for demolition.

From the opening chapters of the historical timeline I was intrigued by the mysteries introduced by the author, namely the identity of the young girl rescued from the river, her extraordinary ability to see colours (aura) that warn her of a persons mood, misfortune or illness, and her fear of a tall man in a long dark coat that haunts her, day and night. Moving from the banks of the Murray, through the dusty streets of gold rush towns and finally to Melbourne, Dobbie deftly evokes the character and landscape of the historical period as Alice, and friend Rosey, struggle to escape their dark pasts, in hopes of creating a brighter future.

In the contemporary timeline, Annie Reuben is excited by the challenge presented by the conservation of the Trompe L’oeil found in the basement of the old Goldminer Hotel and intrigued by the people and the scenes it depicts, especially the figures of two young girls in the foreground. Despite the threat of interference by History Victoria, and a looming financial crisis, Annie is determined to solve the mystery of the painting, and find out what the sudden appearance of a man in a long dark coat means for her, and her daughter.

Well written, I thought the alternating chapters were particularly well structured, each advancing the story and merging neatly at the conclusion. Suspense is built carefully during the course of the novel, with the pace quickening as Alice and Annie get closer to solving the mysteries that concern them.

An entertaining and interesting novel, with appealing characters, I was surprised at how quickly I became invested in the story of Colours of Gold and how reluctant I was to put it down. This was a great read for me.

For your chance to WIN one of two copies of Colours of Gold CLICK HERE {open worldwide}

 

Colours of Gold is available to purchase from

Harlequin AuBooktopia I Bookworld I via Booko I Amazon AU

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

***

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AWW Feature & Giveaway: Also Known As Kaye Dobbie

 

I am happy to introduce you to Kaye Dobbie today. Kaye  is a multi published Australian author who has written romance for Avon, as Sara Bennett, and Australian historical books as Lilly Sommers.

Her current novel, Colours of Gold, is published by Harlequin MIRA (Australia), and is two tales in one. Firstly, a story set in 1866 about Alice a mysterious young girl found half-drowned in the Murray River, and secondly, a story set in the present day about Annie Reuben, a painting restorer, who uncovers the secrets of Alice’s life.

” The child has no name, she’s a little girl…lost and forgotten.

1867: Named by the wife of the paddle steamer captain who finds her half drowned in the Murray River, Alice must survive in a world that reviles her. Because Alice has a gift…or a curse. She can see an aura of colours around the people she meets — and those colours tell her of impending doom. With her friend Rosey, Alice runs away to the gold fields and then joins a troupe of entertainers where people pay to hear her predictions. But she can never escape her past…along with the frightening man in the dark coat who follows her wherever she goes…

Present: Annie Reuben is an art restorer in her father’s business, but times are tough. After being given a long-lost painting found in the basement of a condemned hotel, Annie becomes intrigued by the two girls who stare out at her from the ruined canvas.

Who were Alice and Rosey? And why does Annie find their lives so important? As Annie becomes caught up with finding answers from the past, she finds herself being stalked by the same frightening man in the dark coat who follows her wherever she goes…

A beautiful novel of a young girl’s life and adventures in the Australian goldfields — and how a painting revealed her story to the next generation of her family.

*****

My review of Colours of Gold can be read HERE , but first please READ ON and learn how you could WIN 1 of 2 copies of this wonderful novel.

AKA Kaye Dobbie

I seem to have been writing forever—yes, it has been a very long apprenticeship. From childhood diaries to a Last Will and Testament I drew up at the age of six, leaving my extensive doll collection divided fairly among my three brothers (I was the only girl). They still think it was hilarious.

When I was about fifteen I wrote a grand novel full of murder and mayhem and angst. The culprit turned out to be an elderly man in a wheelchair. Boy, I was clever. I bet no one guessed.

A publisher impressed by my dramatic flair suggested I try Mills and Boon, but it took me a while to come to grips with the happy ending. Once I did though, I embraced it whole-heartedly. At this time I was an at-home Mum, and those five romance books I wrote fitted into my chaotic lifestyle, as well as being the perfect learning experience for an aspiring writer. There isn’t a formula, in case you’re wondering. The happy ending is obligatory, but other than that you just need to focus on the main couple, and you can write them into whatever settings, situations or conflicts that appeal to you.

Later I wrote five books for various Australian publishers under the name Lilly Sommers. The publishers kept changing because 1) my editor moved to another publishing house and I followed her (reminder not to do that ever again) and 2) the industry was in flux and publishing houses were downsizing. The novels were mostly historical, but one of them had some ghostly elements and there was a novella about time travel in convict era Tasmania. I learned a lot during these years and I always felt privileged to be an Australian writing about Australia. It was one of the reasons I longed to publish another Australian-set novel.

For the last ten or so years I’ve been Sara Bennett, writing romance for Avon in the USA. Firstly Medieval books, with hunky knights and feisty ladies, and then moving on to the Victorian era, in particular a series about the daughters of an infamous courtesan. It has been a lot of fun but it came to a natural end. However I am planning to self-publish under my Sara Bennett name, when I have a moment. Romance is very life affirming and I love the happy endings.

Right now I’m writing under my own name, Kaye Dobbie. Colours of Gold is my first book with Harlequin MIRA (Australia). If I’ve been completing an apprenticeship, then I feel as if this book is the culmination of all those years of learning to be a writer. I haven’t finished, of course I haven’t. The growing and learning goes on.

And, finally, you ask, does Colours of Gold have a happy ending? Well, yes, it does, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few tears along the way.

Colours of Gold is available to purchase from

Harlequin AuBooktopia I Bookworld I via Booko I Amazon AU

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

***

GIVEAWAY

Courtesy of Kaye Dobbie

I have 2 editions of

Colours of Gold

to giveaway

1 x print edition for Australian residents only

1 x electronic edition for international (outside of Australia) residents  only

Please leave a comment on this post and then

ENTER HERE

Entries close July 20th, 2014

Drawn via random.org

***

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Exclusive Excerpt: Expecting by Ann Lewis Hamilton

Expecting

by Ann Lewis Hamilton

” A mom, a dad, a baby…and another dad.

Laurie and Alan are expecting, again. After two miscarriages, Laurie was afraid they’d never be able to have a child. Now she’s cautiously optimistic — the fertility treatment worked, and things seem to be different this time around. But she doesn’t yet know how different.

Jack can’t seem to catch a break — his parents are on his case about graduating from college, he’s somehow dating two girls at once, and he has to find a way to pay back the money he borrowed from his fraternity’s party fund. The only jobs he is qualified for barely pay enough to keep him in beer money, but an ad for the local sperm bank gives Jack an idea.

Laurie and Alan’s joy is shattered when their doctor reveals that Laurie was accidentally impregnated by sperm from a donor rather than her husband. Who is Donor 296. And how will their family change now that Donor 296 is inarguably part of it?”

Excerpt

Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
—Alice Walker

***

The worst place your water could break.
The Hollywood Bowl. During an especially quiet part of a classical concert, not Darth Vader’s theme from the “Star Wars Suite.” You’re in a center box seat, close enough to see the sweat on the cello player’s forehead, and the space is crowded tight with four people, so an inconspicuous exit will be impossible. Your husband notices the concrete floor of the box is suddenly slick and wet and whispers, “Did you spill your wine?” And you’d like to believe him—it could be wine, but you know it’s amniotic fluid. Vintage, nine months.
There are several problems with this scenario, one of them being you’re not drinking wine these days. Pregnancy requires Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider, nothing alcoholic.
And two, it’s been weeks since your husband moved out of the house and into an apartment. So what would you be doing together at the Hollywood Bowl?
Another bad place for your water to break—a plane. Flying to the most remote spot on earth, over the ocean, four hours from any airport.
Or alone on a desert island. No doctors, no midwives. You always meant to watch the YouTube video that explains how “Anyone Can Deliver Their Own Baby.” Too late now.
At Grace’s house, sitting on her new Roche Bobois white leather sofa. “It cost more than a car,” she tells you. “The leather feels like butter.”
***
So the parking lot at the Trader Joe’s in Sherman Oaks isn’t the worst place; it’s not even top ten bad. Laurie is loading her bags in the trunk and thinking about how she caught the clerks winking at each other when they saw the crazy pregnant lady buying seven bags of dark-chocolate-covered pretzels. “The pretzels aren’t for me,” she told them. “I’m having a party. For my book club.”
Inside the car, she opens a pretzel bag—just to make sure they’re fresh—and feels something moist in her panties. Not a great rush of fluid, but the sensation is a shock all the same. The baby isn’t due for another week. At home, she goes to the bathroom, and when she looks in the toilet, the water is pink. She calls Dr. Liu and he tells her to head to the hospital.
Laurie’s mother is at home in Reno and still on crutches because of her broken knee—calling will only make her worry.
Grace is in Napa, annoyed at Laurie because she hasn’t been asked to be the birth coach. Grace is a wonderful person, Laurie’s best friend, but her alarmist personality (“Do you know the real probability of an asteroid striking the earth?”) is not the support Laurie needs in a delivery room.
Alan isn’t answering his phone. She could leave a message. Or not.
Laurie walks down the hall to the guest room. The door is closed so she knocks. She can hear the creak of the bed and Jack appears. His hair is messed up and he rubs at his eyes.
“I was studying,” he says. He fights a yawn. “I wasn’t asleep.” He yawns again.
Laurie considers. Maybe she should call Alan back and leave a message.
Instead she nods at Jack. “I think it’s time.”
***
On The Flintstones, pregnant Wilma tells Fred, “I’m ready,” and Fred gets so excited he hops in the car and drives off with Barney instead. Wilma remains calm, not worrying about how they haven’t invented Pitocin or epidurals yet. She’s a cavewoman; she probably has to butcher her own T-Rex if Fred wants steak for dinner. And she knows, even though he’s Fred, he’ll remember eventually and come back for her.
At the hospital, Fred paces and waits with Barney. He’s not allowed in the delivery room with Wilma.
Who’s going to be in the delivery room with Laurie? She closes her eyes.
Yabba dabba doo.
***
“Bring the notes for your final and I’ll quiz you between contractions,” Laurie tells Jack.
He frowns, his eyes wary. He’s changed his clothes, and he’s wearing a baseball cap—backward—to hide his bed hair.
“That’s a joke,” Laurie says.
Jack smiles, oh right, as if he knew that’s what she meant all along, and Laurie considers saying the word dilation just to watch his face go pale. But that would be cruel and things are crazy enough already, and this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be and goddamn it, Alan is her husband; he should be here instead of Jack, her houseguest, although that’s probably not the best way to explain her relationship to Jack, which is only insanely complicated and where the hell is Alan anyway? Jack takes a step closer and says, very gently, “Do you have everything?” Jack is sometimes surprisingly wise and perceptive for a twenty-one-year-old.
Everything except my husband. “I hope so,” Laurie says. She packed her birthing bag weeks ago and has only repacked it three times. She tries Alan’s cell again and leaves a message. “I’m on my way to the hospital.”
***
On the drive over the hill to Cedars-Sinai, she times the contractions. Every twenty minutes. Good, little chance of Jack having to pull over to the side of Coldwater Canyon so he can deliver the baby himself. The air conditioning in Jack’s car is broken, so the vent above her knees blows out arctic air and Jack reaches in the backseat for a blanket. “Sorry,” he says and she’s not sure if he’s sorry about the broken air conditioner or the fact the blanket is a tiger-stripe Snuggie, but it’s warm enough and keeps her knees from aching.
“Is there any music you want to hear?” Jack asks her.
“I have a labor mix on my iPod.”
Laurie plugs her iPod into Jack’s adaptor. Hits shuffle. Frank Sinatra begins to sing “I’ve Got the World on a String.”
Jack makes a face. “This is your labor mix?”
“What would you pick?”
Jack shrugs. “I don’t know. Something not as old-fashioned.”
“Old-fashioned? It’s Frank Sinatra. It’s classic. Some songs, some voices, never go out of style.”
“I guess. If you say so.” Jack doesn’t sound convinced.
Alan likes Frank Sinatra. Is that why she picked this song? She will try not to think about Alan. Sing to me, Frank. About rainbows, about how life is a wonderful thing.
Jack’s hands clutch at the steering wheel. Is he dreading what’s about to happen? None of us signed up for this, Jack. She leans against the headrest. It makes a snapping sound and pops back a few inches.
“Sorry. I keep meaning to fix that,” Jack says.
***
The admissions nurse is young, not much older than Jack. Her nameplate says “Constance” and Laurie thinks that’s a good sign, a name you’d like to see when you arrive at the hospital in labor. Nothing as upsetting as “Cruella” or “Maleficent.” Why is Laurie thinking about cartoon characters? Is it some symptom of early labor? They didn’t mention that in Lamaze.
Constance is smiling at Jack. “Your first?”
Jack’s mouth opens, but he doesn’t say anything.
Constance nods at Laurie. “First time fathers, you can always tell.”
“I think it’s my first,” Jack says finally. “But there could be more. Lots more.”
Laurie pats Jack on the arm. “TMI.”
Constance flips through Laurie’s file. “Super, you’ve already done your preregistration. You’d be surprised how many people put it off.” Another smile at Jack. “Do you know what you’re having?”
“I hope it’s a baby,” Jack says.
Constance laughs as if Jack’s on stage at the Comedy Store. Laurie clears her throat. Shouldn’t Constance be sending her off to a room?
Laurie hears a burst of music from Jack’s pocket, “Cry of the Black Birds,” from Jack’s current favorite metal band, Amon Amarth. “Cry of the Black Birds” is ringtone code for Jack’s parents. Jack pulls out his phone and moves away from the desk.
“Don’t worry. He’ll be fine,” Constance says to Laurie.
“I know, thank you.” Laurie hopes Jack is fine, but why are his parents calling? The timing is terrible; he’s worried enough about his final and now she’s in labor—she shouldn’t have made him come with her. When he’s off the phone, she’ll send him back to the house, insist his final is the most important thing in his life right now. She’ll be okay on her own. Alan will get her message and show up.
Unless he doesn’t. The contractions are coming closer together now, and she realizes she’d like to lie down.
Jack walks over to Laurie; he turns his cap forward. Then back again.
“Everything okay?” Laurie says.
“Not really. My parents are here. Here here. In L.A. On their way to the hospital.”
Laurie tries to take that in. “You told them?”
“My sister did. Blabbermouth.”
Laurie exhales. “Okay. So they know. But don’t worry about your parents. Or me. Think about your final. You need to study.”
“I can’t study now. I have to deal with this.” He points at Laurie’s stomach.
“This.” A tsunami-sized wave of guilt washes over Laurie. Her head feels fuzzy; the lights of the admissions desk are too bright. Like spotlights.
“I’m sorry,” Jack says. “I don’t mean to sound like an asshole.”
Constance leans over the desk, waving a form at Jack. “Mr. Gaines? I need your signature on this.”
Jack looks at Laurie, at Constance. “I’m not Mr. Gaines.”
The lights around Laurie multiply. She has to squint and her fuzzy head grows fuzzier.
“Will you call Alan?” she asks Jack. “Maybe he’ll pick up this time.” Why are the lights so hot? And why does Jack have two faces? With four eyes, two noses? Is this another sign? Will the baby be born like that? Everything is supposed to happen for a reason, that’s what people say. What people? Who would come up with a stupid saying like that?
“Laurie? You look kind of…” Two-headed Jack is moving toward her. And the admissions nurse, Cruella or Constance—Laurie can’t remember her name, but she has two heads as well—no, three heads, a hydra-headed nurse. That can’t be good. And she’s moving quickly from behind the desk and motioning at someone.
“Tell Alan we’ll name the baby Bamm-Bamm,” Laurie says to Jack before she passes out in his arms.

***

Copyright © 2014 by Ann Lewis Hamilton. Published by Sourcebooks Landmark, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

***

Expecting is available to purchase from

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Review: Red Sand Sunrise by Fiona McArthur

 

Title: Red Sand Sunrise

Author: Fiona McArthur

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin June 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read from June 23 to 24, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Red Sand Sunrise is an engaging novel combining drama and romance in an outback setting written by accomplished author Fiona McArthur.

On the same day that her husband admits his affair with a neighbour and asks for a divorce, Dr Callie Wilson receives the news that her beloved father has passed away. Home in Red Sand, a remote township in far west Queensland, for the funeral, Callie is blindsided by yet more bad news and, with no pressing reason to return to Sydney, resolves to stay indefinitely. Fortunately she is offered the opportunity to oversee the establishment of the area’s first medical clinic, and with it the chance to get to know her half sister, Eve.
Eve Wilson, a Brisbane midwife, isn’t sure of the reception she will receive from her father’s widow and the half sister she has never met, but she feels certain that attending his funeral is the right thing to do. Their warm welcome is a surprise, as is Callie’s invitation to remain in Red Sand to staff the new clinic, and her attraction to local station owner, Lex McKay.
Dr Sienna Wilson, an ambitious Melbourne obstetrician, doesn’t understand her sister’s decision to attend their estranged father’s funeral, nor why Eve would choose to remain in the middle of nowhere. She is horrified when her hospital, encouraged by a substantial donation from the the Red Sand clinic’s benefactor, insists she spends three months in the town to investigate the cause of a series of premature births and stillbirths in the region.

The story of Red Sand Sunrise unfolds as these three women, Callie, Eve and Sienna, face various personal and professional challenges, ranging from Callie’s fear of providing maternity care after her own tragic loss, to Eve’s search to find somewhere she ‘fits’, and to Sienna’s realisation she doesn’t have all the answers. McArthur ably crafts distinct individual personalities for the sisters and I found them each to be appealing characters.

There is quite a lot of emotional drama in Red Sand Sunrise, Callie especially is forced to cope with several distressing events in a relatively short period of time. I was surprised to find myself tearing up (just a little) during two pivotal scenes, but also wondered if perhaps it was a little too much.
There are also some moments of high tension which involve a few of the medical emergencies Callie, Eve and Sienna have to manage. McArthur, who has years of experience as a rural midwife, draws on her own experience and expertise to illustrate the challenges of accessing and providing medical assistance, and in particular antenatal care, in remote regions of Australia.

I enjoyed the romantic elements in the novel, Callie reconnects with her teenage sweetheart, Eve is smitten by Lex McKay and Sienna sets her sights on local police officer, Sergeant McCabe. Somewhat surprisingly, the developing relationships don’t overwhelm the story, which I appreciated.

Red Sand Sunrise is an engaging story of three sisters challenged by family, grief, romance and tragedy, set within the remote landscape of the Australian outback. I would happily recommend this heartfelt novel to fans of contemporary rural or medical romance.

Learn more about Fiona McArthur  and what she is reading in her guest post by clicking here

Red Sand Sunrise is available to purchase at

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Amazon AU I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

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AWW Feature: What Fiona McArthur, author of Red Sand Sunrise, is reading…

fiona

 

I am pleased to welcome Fiona McArthur to Book’d Out today to celebrate the publication of  Red Sand Sunrise.

Fiona has written more than thirty romances, which have sold over two million copies in twelve languages. She has been a RWA Romantic Book of the Year finalist and American Cataromance Readers Choice finalist. She is a midwifery expert for Mother and Baby magazine and the author of the non-fiction work, The Don’t Panic Guide To Birth. The mother of five sons, Fiona lives in NSW with her husband of thirty three years, juggling her successful writing career with her work as a rural midwife and clinical educator.

Red Sand Sunrise is Fiona’s first fiction title published with Penguin Australia, and celebrates the strength of family ties, the renewing power of love, and the passion of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.

“When the father she barely knew dies suddenly, midwife Eve Wilson decides she owes it to him to go to the funeral and meet her stepfamily in Red Sand. She doesn’t expect to be so completely charmed by the beautiful remote township in far west Queensland – or by local station owner, Lex McKay.

After disappointment and heartbreak in Sydney, Dr Callie Wilson doesn’t hesitate to move home and spend some time with her grieving mother. When she is approached to oversee the establishment of the area’s first medical clinic, it seems the perfect opportunity. And Callie is keen to involve Eve, the sister she’s just getting to know.

Melbourne-based obstetrician Sienna Wilson can’t understand why anyone would want to bury themselves in the outback, but when her hospital sends her north to research the medical mystery affecting women in Red Sand, it seems fate is intent on bringing the three sisters together.  And when disaster strikes, they must each decide if being true to themselves means being there for each other . . .”

 

You can read my thoughts about Red Sand Sunrise by clicking here. In the meantime, please read on to find out what Fiona McArthur is reading…and who with!

 ***

Thanks for asking me, loved your back story about libraries and your innovative ways of keeping up with reading. That was me, avid reader nodding vaguely to my poor children as the ‘other world’ engrossed me, mostly from the library. That was a lifetime ago, actually thirty-three of my own books ago, and I really need to re-carve a niche in my week to at least read one book a week. Every writer should.

This was brought home to me recently when I went to Italy with two other writers. I shouldn’t have gone really because I didn’t have the money but karma came through in the nick of time, I had some long service leave, and I REALLY wanted to go. So we did it on shoestring. Actually, I should have done it on a shoestring and didn’t, but that’s another story.

This story is about Eloisa James saying if we were attending her ten day writing workshop in Tuscany we had to read a book list of books before we went. Different types of books. Books I might never have picked up because there are so many other books I’d like to read if I had time, and groaned about having to read her choices. I know you want to know what books she made us read so have included at the end. No cheating! Nah…Cheat if you want. See list at end.

Now, prior to the course I was a tad busy. I had two medical romances for Mills and Boon to write because I’d put them off to write RED SAND SUNRISE for Penguin and my M&B editor is a doll. I wouldn’t dream of letting her down. I had a 28hr a week job as a midwifery educator I was still finding my feet in but loved, I had the revisions and galleys for RSS, and a little thing called family in crisis. So how was I going to read these flipping books? Push comes to shove then reading is out.

Ah ha! I seriously love Audio books. I listen to them in the car on the way to work. It’s only twenty minutes but it’s amazing what you can get through with consistency. I have a monthly deduction for one audiobook on Audible and I download to my phone and play it in my car. My problem with audio is I can’t skim the bits I would rather skim.

Like the blood and guts and explicit detail in Ilona Andrews’ MAGIC BITES. I tiptoed past the vampire ooze, winced at the munched bones, did I tell you I’m a sweet writer, but despite the gore (thankfully not because of it) – I LOVED THAT BOOK! I would never have read it except for EJ telling me to and now I have ordered more of the same.

Then there was Kristin Higgins. Had never read one of hers. American small town, yawn, have my own small town, but OMG! Kristin Higgins rocks. I bought all of hers too. There were some authors I found that were a little harder to get into that the other participants adored. Some of the books I wondered why they were there but actually, when you sat down and studied them, they all had something in common. They grabbed you. Gave more than a few reader pleasure moments that stayed with you and statistically made it to the big time. And you can learn and absorb the nuances that shimmer in great writing.

Fiona and Eloisa

Fiona and Eloisa

Now home from the course my kindle is crammed. We talked about everyone’s favourite books, another time I could share them, and most of them I hadn’t heard of. So I downloaded them. Holding pattern. I will get around to reading them. One book a week. BTW Did I tell you I LOVED Eloisa James Three Weeks With Lady X?

Here is the list suggested by Eloisa James

Contemporary:
Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley

Alternate World:
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Paranormal:
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

Harlequin:
When Falcone’s World Stops Turning by Abby Green

Classic Romance:
After the Night by Linda Howard

Historical:
Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James

Small Town Contemporary:
The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

 

Red Sand Sunrise is available to purchase at

Penguin I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

 

Review: Marble Bar by Robert Schofield

 

 

Title: Marble Bar

Author: Robert Schofield

Published: Allen & Unwin June 2014

Status: Read from June 17 to 19, 2014 — I own a copy (courtesy the publisher)

My Thoughts:

Marble Bar is the sequel to Robert Schofield’s debut novel, Heist, featuring mining engineer, Gareth Ford.

It has been a year since Ford was framed for the multi million dollar robbery of the Gwardar Gold Mine and narrowly escaped the murderous attentions of the real thieves, corrupt Gold Squad officers, vicious bikies and his ex-wife, Dianne. Now working at an iron ore mine in Newman while caring for his six year old daughter, Ford assumes the worst is behind them until he realises he is being tailed by two dangerous looking men, his lodger is murdered and he receives a desperate call from his ex-wife begging him to meet her. Gareth needs to get out of town, his daughter wants to see her mum and Kavanaugh wants to find the gold so they head to Marble Bar …… and straight into trouble.

There are glimpses of the sharp humour, and exaggerated action I enjoyed in Heist, but Marble Bar has a more serious tone and less energy than its predecessor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just not quite what I was expecting. Marble Bar is closer to a traditional crime/action novel with a more realistic storyline and less flamboyant characterisation.

Ford seems subdued during much of this instalment. I think that this is mainly attributable to his emotional turmoil with regard to his ex wife, and while I did admire Ford’s determination to preserve the relationship between Dianne and their daughter, I thought his angst got in the way of the story somewhat.

With Ford unsure of his feelings, and worried about Dianne’s safety, Kavanaugh is forced to take the lead in most situations the pair face in Marble Bar. Kavanaugh is willing to humour Dianne for the chance to recover the gold, but she is utterly unimpressed with Ford’s angst regarding his wife’s behaviour, and convinced Dianne’s plea for help is just another con. This causes considerable tension between Ford and Kavanaugh, complicated by their mutual attraction and the twists of the plot.

I especially liked setting of this story. Marble Bar is a tiny West Australian Pilbara town with a population of about 200 people which regularly experiences some of the highest temperatures in the country. It seems an unlikely setting for a crime novel, but Schofield makes it work.

Marble Bar is well paced with a solidly developed storyline and I enjoyed reconnecting with familiar characters. I enjoyed Marble Bar, even though it wasn’t quite what I expected based on reading Heist, and I am looking forward to the third title to tie up some of the remaining loose ends.

 Learn more about Marble Bar and Robert Schofield in the Q&A posted earlier here at Book’d Out.

 

Marble Bar is available to purchase from June 25th

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Feature Q&A with Robert Schofield, author of Heist and Marble Bar

Schofield, Robert - credit Ross Swanborough

 

I’m excited to introduce you to author Robert Schofield today.

After graduating with a degree in engineering from Cambridge University, Robert worked as a structural engineering consultant, designing signature architecture including East Croydon Station, The Eden Project, Madrid Airport, Lichfield Theatre, and the London Imax Theatre. He then travelled to Australia, and finding no call for creative architectural engineering in Perth, adapted his skills to the mining and offshore industries. For the last twelve years Robert has been working in the gold industry. using whatever time he has left after working, writing, and wrangling three young children,  reading, cycling, kayaking on the Blackwood River, or maintaining his scooter: a beautiful 1972 Vespa Rally.

This month Robert is celebrating the release of his second novel, Marble Bar, a sequel to  Heist {Allen & Unwin 2013), an entertaining and action packed debut crime novel featuring Gareth Ford set in the Western Australia’s goldfields.

“Gareth Ford, with a cloud still hanging over him because of his involvement in the Gwardar Gold Heist, has decided to make a new beginning in the iron mines of Newman. But when he returns home from the night shift and finds his flatmate has been murdered, suspicion quickly falls upon him. He, however, fears he himself was the real target and soon discovers he is being tailed. He summons his old ally from the Gold Squad, DC Rose Kavanagh, and soon they find themselves in Marble Bar, searching for the Gwardar Gold and being pursued by a variety of desperadoes, each with their own agendas.”

I was given the opportunity to ask Robert a few questions, and I am happy to share his answers with you today. Read on to learn more about Robert Schofield and Marble Bar…

Q:What five words do you think best describe Marble Bar?
RS: A hot, sweaty, rollicking crime thriller.

Q: What inspired the plot of Marble Bar?
RS: This book is the sequel to my first novel: Heist. It follows my characters north into the Pilbara. A few years back, I went to Marble Bar for the first time; I’d been visiting a mine site up there and spent an afternoon drinking at the Ironclad Hotel.
Marble Bar’s claim to fame is that it is the hottest town in Australia. They have a sign there that tells you this, with a digital read-out that displays the current temperature. It takes a special kind of person to live there. You need to be mad as a cut snake.
As I started to read more about Marble Bar, I found there was a wealth of stories from the distant and recent past, any one of which could have been the spark for a book. I made another trip up there, and as I stood in the Ironclad the locals told me their own stories about things that never made the history books.
I wrote a little piece for a newspaper last month about writing. I said that you have to write about something that you care about; an idea that’s burning fiercely inside your head; because you’re going to be shut in a room on your own with that idea for a year or more, and it has to stay alight for all that time.
Marble Bar was founded during the gold rush at the end of the nineteenth century, but at the beginning of the twenty-first century it finds itself surrounded by the iron ore boom; but it has barely touched the town. It made me think about who should benefit from the mineral wealth lying under Australia: should it be the multinational mining companies, the Chinese steel mills, the super-rich entrepreneurs, the men and women sweating in the mines, the taxpayer, the general public, or the traditional owners? The book was an attempt to explore that question.

Q: What traits do you wish you shared with your protagonist, Gareth Ford?
RS: Unfortunately there is rather too much of me in Gareth Ford as it is. I’d rather I shared a bit less with him. Thankfully I don’t drink as much as he does, and I don’t have nearly as much bad luck.

Q: Why choose the mining towns of WA as the setting for your stories?
RS: I first went to Kalgoorlie in 1990. I’d met a girl in London who told me she came from this wild gold-mining town stranded out in the Western Australian desert, and I followed her there. I am from a cold and wet town in the north of England and the promise of unblemished blue skies was too strong to resist. So there I was, this pale Pom, standing in the front bar of the York Hotel during Race Round, the sun blaring down on the wide street outside, watching the barmaid knock the head off my beer with her bare breast. I thought I’d stepped into the Wild West. It was the exact opposite of everything I had experienced before: the sun was hotter, the beer was colder, and the people were warm. It was three parts heaven and two parts hell.
Two years later I met a different girl, and this time I fell in love. When she told me she came from Kalgoorlie as well I started to think the town had got some sort of a hold on me. A few years after we were married , I switched career into the mining industry, and found myself in the Goldfields again, working as a consulting engineer on the mines. Kalgoorlie had got me. I have been going back regularly ever since, sometimes for work, and sometimes for pleasure. I feel I have a connection to the place.

Q: Has your approach to writing changed between the publication of your debut, Heist and Marble Bar?
RS: Marble Bar was the Difficult Second Novel. I had to prove that the first novel was not a fluke, and I had to do it to a deadline. If you’ve poured everything into your first novel, what can be left for the second? It’s only natural that on the second visit to the well, you might find that it’s gone dry. This of course is why publishers offer two-book deals. They understand that it is the second book that separates the professional from the dilettante.
I wrote my first book in complete freedom, with no expectation of publication. It was just something to keep a restless mind occupied. This second one had a whole lot more riding on it, and I had to learn a different approach. It taught me discipline.

Q: Which writers do you most admire?
RS: When I started my first book I was influenced by American writers: Elmore Leonard, James Crumley, George V. Higgins, Donald Westlake., and by British writers such as Patricia Highsmith and Ted Lewis. I’m now slowly working my way through the Australian crime canon, and enjoying Kenneth Cook and Gary Disher.
I still have a love of the American Beat Writers and Charles Bukowski, and will re-read them every few years. My guilty pleasure is the Aubrey-Maturin novels of Peter O’Brian.

Q: What are you currently reading?
RS: I usually have three books on the go at any one time.
I will have a non-fiction book, usually connected to my research, and I read this at my desk. Currently this is ‘Beautiful Shadow’, a biography of Patricia Highsmith by Andrew Wilson.
I’ll also be reading a crime thriller, and this book sits at my bedside. I consider it to be research too, trying to keep up with what’s happening. I’m currently reading ‘Sweet One’ by Peter Docker, a cracker of a crime story set in the WA Goldfields.
And finally I’ll read something else, just for me. I usually have this on my Kindle in my pocket, for those joyous bits of stolen reading time. I’ve just started ‘Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys’, the autobiography of punk guitarist Viv Albertine.

Q: What are you working on now, or what can we expect next?
RS: I’m currently working on a sequel, the final part of the Gareth Ford trilogy, which I am doing as part of a Doctorate in Creative Writing at Curtin University. As if I hadn’t got enough on my plate working full time and wrangling three kids, I thought I’d set myself another challenge.

Marble Bar is available to purchase from June 25th

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AWW Feature: Exclusive Excerpt from Currawong Manor by Josephine Pennicott

josephine

Josephine Pennicott is a multi award-winning writer in the crime genre. Her story Birthing The Demons won the 2001 Scarlet Stiletto, and in 2012 she became one of only five writers to win a second Scarlet Stiletto with the story Shadows. Josephine has also won the Kerry Greenwood Domestic Malice Prize twice, with Hail Mary (2003) and Tadpole (2004). Josephine’s previous novels were in the dark fantasy genre:  Circle Of Nine (2001), Bride Of The Stone (2003) and A Fire In The Shell (2004). Circle Of Nine was named as one of 2001′s best debut novels in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror (Terri Windling & Ellen Datlow, editors). A Fire In The Shell was shortlisted for Best Horror Novel in the 2005 Aurealis Awards. Poet’s Cottage, a haunting mystery of families, bohemia, fairy-tales, truth, creativity, lies, murder and memory, set in 1930s Australia and the present day, was published in 2012 by Pan Macmillan.

Today celebrates the release of Josephine’s latest novel, Currawong Manor, described as,  an evocative tale set in the spectacular Blue Mountains, Currawong Manor is a mystery of art, truth and the ripple effects of death and deception, and I have an exclusive excerpt to share in advance of the review I plan to post later today. Enjoy!

Currawong Manor

The Currawong Manor estate included Owlbone Woods, three hundred acres of bushland with a beautifully forested glen and a waterfall on a fork of Baxter’s river in Megalong Valley. Of particular interest to Elizabeth, the Mermaid Glen waterfall at Weeping Rocks featured several of Rupert’s statues. Always privately owned, the property had never been a tourist attraction, although Holly was now hoping to open it up to the public. Scraps of information Elizabeth had gathered from her mother over the years suggested the locals of Mount Bellwood avoided Owlbone Woods as an unlucky place. Not only had Shalimar Partridge drowned at the glen, but Rupert had also gone missing somewhere there after her death. ‘It’s only fifteen minutes’ drive from Mount Bellwood,’ said Elizabeth, checking her watch, ‘but it feels as if we’re in the middle of nowhere. Can you imagine how much more isolated it must have felt in Rupert’s time? The constant worry of bushfires in summer must have worn them down.’
‘I still find it odd that Lois won’t come near the place,’ Fleur said.
‘There’s no way Mum would return,’ Elizabeth said. ‘She gets angry every time I mention it. I’ve given up trying to convince her. But I always found the woods in Rupert’s work magical. And years ago I came up here to visit Mermaid Glen and found it haunting but really beautiful. I’m hoping to photograph it now and try to capture its menacing quality.’ It had been years, too, since Elizabeth had seen inside the manor itself. Just before Lois sold it she had reluctantly agreed to bring Elizabeth along when she came up here to collect a few things. The day had ended badly with Lois becoming morose and bitter about her childhood, but Elizabeth always remembered how wonderfully whimsical the house was, and she was both excited and anxious about seeing it again.
The two women shared a strange reverie as the bumpy unsealed road gave way to Woodswallow Lane. A few minutes later, they came to a long driveway flanked by bloodwood and tea trees. A worn white signpost read Currawong Manor. Beneath it in red paint was the freshly painted graffiti: The Ruins.
‘I even found it referred to as the Ruins in the Mountains Tourist guide,’ Fleur commented as she paused the car and gazed at the picturesque entrance.
‘The locals have always called it the Ruins, apparently,’ Elizabeth replied. ‘Not just because it’s fallen into ruins, but because it ruins lives. You already know about the tragedy around Shalimar’s death – my grandmother hit by the train the night her daughter died, my grandfather disappearing. But there’s more to it. After Rupert’s parents – my great-grandparents – lost their favourite son to the war, Rupert’s father, Reg, either killed himself or disappeared, and his mother, Ivy, shut herself away in one of the rooms and barely ventured out.’
As Fleur turned the car into the driveway, Elizabeth fell silent, reflecting that Kitty’s death could perhaps also be attributed to the Ruins’ curse. And it had left its indelible mark on Lois, too; after the tragic happenings to her family in the 1940s, Elizabeth’s mother, barely a month old, had been taken into foster care, enduring a series of different homes until she’d been old enough to make her own way in the world. Little wonder she seemed incapable of compassion or tenderness.
Shaking off the familiar bitterness, Elizabeth continued, ‘It’s all so penny-dreadful. The manor was originally the home of an eccentric Englishman, Reverend Greenman. It’s all going to be in the book. The Shaws are determined to include as much Gothic drama as they can.’ In preparation for the book, Holly had been flat out interviewing locals, trying to unearth scandal, ghosts and mayhem – not only related to the Ruins but also Mount Bellwood in general.
‘Holly must have some money to have taken on Currawong Manor,’ Fleur said. ‘But people love creepy old homes with secrets festering within them. I don’t think she’s a fool, Elizabeth. Just be careful she doesn’t use your family history to make her own fortune!’
‘I wish we’d been able to keep the manor in the family, but Mum wasn’t interested and it needs too much renovation,’ Elizabeth said ruefully. ‘Holly and Bob must have more money than sense, but Holly seems determined to turn both the Ruins and Mount Bellwood into a thriving artistic community. At least she does care about the art side of things. The previous owners couldn’t have given a rat’s about Rupert and his work. Holly sold her gallery in London as well as their flat to buy the manor. That’s how obsessed she became with Rupert.’
After proceeding slowly along the driveway, shadowed by the overhanging trees, they now reached a crumbling drystone wall and rusted iron-lace gates guarded by two large, chipped, moss-covered stone lions. One had lost its head.
‘Well, there it is,’ Elizabeth said, her voice quivering. ‘Currawong Manor.’
At the end of the carriage drive was a large two-storey bluestone home, flanked by wattles and gum trees. The house resembled an English vicarage, the afternoon sun highlighting the romantic splendour of the stones. Dark-green ivy smothered most of the facade, though it had been carefully clipped away from a vivid blue front door. Up the left side of the house ran an old rusted iron staircase, which Elizabeth knew didn’t go anywhere. A verandah with iron railings ran around the manor’s entire circumference, its deep shade dotted at intervals by chairs and wooden barrel tubs of wildflowers. The roof was red slate with parapet lines, and on one side only, a couple of odd-looking turrets. Several saffron-yellow brick chimneys and large Gothic-style windows added to the otherworldliness of the place, while wooden tubs of lavender and cascading trellis roses mingling with the dark ivy lent a more traditional charm.
‘It’s beautiful!’ Fleur exclaimed. ‘It’d make a perfect location for weddings or a film. I can see why Holly loves it so much. It’s like something from a fairytale. Shame Lois didn’t want to hang on to it – though I suppose you can’t blame her.’
They parked behind Bob’s red Commodore and a Landrover and climbed out of the car. ‘It’s magical, isn’t it?’ Elizabeth said. ‘Even the air smells enchanted!’ She inhaled deeply, looking at the house with a yearning expression. ‘Everything is so much what it shouldn’t be, but it all works together in a strange, mysterious way. Mum hated it, said it gave her nightmares.’ She glanced up to examine the towers.
‘What are you looking at?’ Fleur opened the boot to remove Elizabeth’s bags.
‘The currawongs,’ Elizabeth said. ‘Be careful with that red bag,’ she warned, taking the bag from Fleur. ‘It’s got my lenses in it. You know the old story about when the currawongs gather in numbers on the towers of the Ruins? It’s meant to indicate a death or birth of one of the manor’s inhabitants. That’s another reason Mum avoids the place. She believes all the old superstitions about it.’
‘And you don’t?’ Fleur asked.
Elizabeth screwed up her face as she continued to examine the towers. ‘When I did my Northern Territory book, The Magic Dirt, I spoke with Aboriginal people who claimed there are places we shouldn’t enter as they can lead you into other worlds – or just really bad things happened there because of old curses or the soil being tainted by bad magic. Hanging Rock in Victoria is meant to be one such spot. But currawongs foretelling death? I’d have to see it to believe it.’
She was interrupted by Holly opening the front door. ‘I knew I heard your car! I just told Bob to pop the kettle on. Come in. Welcome to Currawong Manor!’

© Copyright PanMacmillan Australia, 2014. Published with permission.

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Review & Giveaway: For One Night Only by Phillipa Fioretti

 

Title: For One Night Only

Author: Phillipa Fioretti

Published: Momentum January 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from June 09 to 10, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

After spending time with her Italian relatives, Australian born Ornella Ortenzi plans to enjoy a few days in the Sicilian town of Taormina with a friend before heading to Rome for an audition that could launch the acting career she has always dreamed of. So when Ornella meets Hugh Calthorpe, a handsome British archeologist, she is determined not to be swayed by his charm but after a hike up a volcano, a few drinks and a moonlight skinny dip, she decides to throw caution to the wind. After a wonderful night together, Ornella and Hugh are sharing breakfast the next morning when Hugh wanders into the cafe to pay…and vanishes, leaving his phone and sunglasses behind.

For One Night Only is a fast-paced, entertaining romantic suspense novel that has Ornella and Hugh caught up in a dangerous adventure when Hugh is abducted and ordered to steal the precious floor mosaic depicting Dido and Aenaes he recently uncovered in the basement of a hotel. There are some good twists to the story as Fioretti plots an exciting romp that includes escape and capture, a nasty group of Italian thugs, corporate conspiracy and betrayal as Ornella and Hugh strive to save themselves, and each other.

I liked both of Fioretti’s protagonists. It might be a little bit of a stretch to believe that Ornella would be so adamant about finding Hugh given the circumstances, but she is a confident and determined woman, who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid of trying to making it happen whether it is landing the role of a lifetime, or chasing after the missing Hugh. Hugh is a nice guy, smart, a little cheeky but obviously essentially principled and honest. The chemistry between the pair is well depicted from their first meeting and in the moments they spend both together and even apart, the author manages to develop the relationship so that the reader is hoping for a happy ever after.

The setting of For One Night Only is particularly lovely, I enjoyed the tour of Taormina and its surrounds, led by Fioretti’s vivid descriptions of simmering volcano’s, black sand beaches and bustling cafe’s. {Google the town and you will be fantasising about visiting it yourself!)

Combining romance, mystery, action and suspense, For One Night Only is a well written and entertaining story which I enjoyed reading.

Learn more about Philipa Fioretti and her love of  Italy by clicking here

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AWW Feature & Giveaway: Phillipa Fioretti, For One Night Only

phillipa

I am happy to welcome Australian author Phillipa Fioretti to Book’d Out today. Phillipa lives at the bottom of the world – in the hills outside Adelaide, South Australia – with her husband and children and an assortment of animals domestic, wild and feral. She likes reading in bed and travelling.

Phillipa studied art, archaeology and museum studies and worked as an artist and lecturer for twenty years before starting to write fiction in 2006. Her interest in Italy and Italian culture, vintage cinema and fashion, Classical Rome and the ancient world and the history of food and eating, all appear as underlying themes in her books.

In 2008 she was selected for participation in the Hachette Australia/Queensland Writers Centre Manuscript Development Program.Her first book, The Book of Love was published by Hachette Australia in 2010, hand the sequel, The Fragment of Dreams was published in May 2011.

Today Phillipa is  introducing her third book, For One Night Only, published by Pan MacMillan’s digital press, Momentum.

“In Italy, passion and danger share the same bed. When Ornella vacations in Sicily, she meets Hugh, an archaeologist working on a dig in the beautiful town of Taormina. Hugh convinces Ornella to join him on a trip to the island of Stromboli, where they hike up a live volcano at dusk.  After a passionate night together Ornella, an actress usually focused on her career, suspects she’s in love. But after breakfast the next morning, Hugh vanishes.  Ornella is left with Hugh’s phone, sunglasses and a sudden end to the love affair she thought she didn’t want. Desperate to know if Hugh ran out on her or if he’s met with disaster, she wants to search for him. But with an important screen test in Rome and her agent impatiently waiting for her, Ornella faces a dilemma. Little does she know the danger Hugh is in – and that she is the key to his survival.”

 

An engaging romantic suspense, read about Phillipa’s love for Italy before entering for your chance to WIN one of two copies…

Why Italy?

I fell in love with Italy as a kid when I found an old book about the myths of Greece and Rome. I read that book over and over again. Then, as a teenager I saw some Italian films and was entranced by what I saw on the screen. It was so European and exotic, so civilized and pagan, sophisticated and vital. Unlike suburban Sydney where I grew up. This was pre-Internet, so images had more power and we weren’t as sophisticated or exposed to so much as we are today. Young love is a deep love and I still love Italy passionately. I married an Italian (and his family), my children are Italian citizens and I continue my endless struggle to master the language. So setting my books in Italy is very much about my own enjoyment of Italy and Italians.
Italians, like many Europeans, are not shy about showing their appreciation of a member of the opposite sex. It’s as natural to them as breathing. They accept love and romance as part of la dolce vita, the sweet life, which fundamentally means an appreciation of the details of living. The shape of a girl’s eyes, the excellence of a morning espresso, the flourish of a hand gesture, the crispness of the pastry on a sfogliatelle, all of these are subject to conversations that can go on for hours. For the more practical and dispassionate Anglo Saxon, this may appear as a frivolous way to spend time that should be spent fixing the economy or stamping out corruption. But you can’t erase hundreds of years of attitude just because bankers in another country got too greedy.

Bookout.Barista

Italians, particularly in Sicily, have always lived with harshness and poverty, but not so much austerity, or austerity as defined as coldness or grimness. This is because when you have very little, it becomes important to get what little you have exactly right – in order to bring some pleasure into your day. The coffee must be extracted for one minute to achieve the perfect crema, the tiny cup must be heated, and it must be served with a glass of water to take away your thirst. As you sip your exquisite coffee, made for you with such nonchalant brio by the handsome barista with the bold, dark eyes, you know that while everything else may be bleak and beyond your control, you have this one moment of transcendence to carry you through. Who could not love a country where the art of the perfection of the ephemeral is practised on this daily basis?

Read my review of For One Night Only HERE

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GIVEAWAY

Courtesy of Momentum

I have 2 e-editions of

For One Night Only by Phillipa Fioretti

to giveaway

**Open worldwide**

Please leave a comment on this post and then

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Congratulations Emily & J’Aimee

Entries close June 22nd, 2014

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