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Review: Right As Rain by Tricia Stringer

 

Title: Right As Rain

Author: Tricia Stringer

Published: Harlequin December 2013

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from December 05 to 07, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Right As Rain is Tricia Stringers fourth novel for adults, the second to be published with Harlequin after the success of Queen Of The Road.

This engaging rural fiction is a story of love, family and farming set in South Australia. Licking her wounds after a holiday fling goes wrong, Mackenna Birch returns home a few days early to her beloved ‘Woolly Swamp’, her family’s sheep farm. Looking forward to discussing the ideas she has developed during her trip for the farm with her father, she is shocked to discover her brother, a city marketing executive, is managing the farm in the wake of her father’s heart attack and her mother seems determined to thwart Mackenna’s attempts to keep the farm on its feet. While Mackenna struggles with the changes at home, her life is further complicated when Adam, her holiday lover, follows her home and Hugh, a lifelong friend, returns.

Of major importance to the story is the tradition of succession. In this day and age it seems so archaic to insist the eldest son is the only one with the right to inherit, especially when there is another sibling far more passionate about taking on the farm. Mackenna’s mother obviously never warmed to farm life, resenting the constraints it places on time and money, and she doesn’t want her daughter to be tied to the land. Though I can respect her feelings about it, her disregard for what her children want, and her underhand manipulations, didn’t sit well with me at all. Despite Mackenna’s forays away from home, all she has ever wanted has been to work the farm, and doesn’t feel as if there is any sacrifice to make.

At times the romance element seemed to be more of a distraction than anything, with Adam and Hugh often absent from the storyline, or even close proximity to Mackenna. I would have liked Adam in particular to have a larger and more active role in the story, I felt in some ways that he was an awkward addition to the tableau rather than an integral part of the story.

There are also several secondary subplots to follow in the novel, one has to do with Hugh’s reluctance to be back in his hometown, the second involves Patrick who is keeping a secret from his family and the third relates to the suspicious behaviour of new station hand, Cam, introducing a frission of mystery and danger. Additional interest stems from Mackenna’s passion for breeding genetics and her concept of a farm to table tasting/restaurant venture.

Right As Rain is an engaging read and Tricia Stringer another talented author bringing rural Australia to life on the page. I enjoyed it and look forward to the opportunity to read Queen of the Road, and the next book.

Click here to learn more about Tricia Stringer and for your chance to win a copy of Right as Rain

Right As Rain is available to purchase from

Harlequin  I Booktopia I Amazon AU I Amazon US

via Booko

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AWW Feature & Giveaway: Q&A with Tricia Stringer

tricia

I am happy to welcome Tricia Stringer to Book’d Out today

A country girl through-and-through, Tricia grew up on a farm on South Australia’s, Eyre Peninsula. With a brief stint in the city for secondary education and teacher training she has always lived in rural communities and is currently not too far from the beach in the Copper Coast region of South Australia. Here she shares a rambling old farmhouse with her husband and assorted animals – only some of which are pets! Some people would think that being an IT coordinator, teacher, librarian, wife, mother and grandmother would be enough to fill your days – yet somehow Tricia still finds the time to write. She has published three books for children and four for adults. Queen of the Road was her first book with Harlequin and she is very excited that it went on to win the RWA Romantic Book of the Year for 2013 as well as be one of the 50 Books You Can’t Put Down in the 2013 Get Reading campaign.

Right as Rain is her newest release, available now.

“Mackenna Birch thinks she’s met the man of her dreams while on holiday in New Zealand. Adam Walker seems funny, kind and loving…until — to Mack’s disbelief — he walks out on her. Nursing a broken heart, Mack returns to the family farm in Australia to find her beloved father unwell and her scheming younger brother home from the city, showing a great interest in taking over the business. Also in her absence, a new worker has been hired, and Mack’s unsure of his motives.
Mack longs to make big changes to the farm — changes her father has approved. But with her dad’s ailing health, all her plans have been put on hold. Soon Mack finds herself turning to Hugh — her old friend and neighbour — as her confidant. As they support each other through family pressures, their friendship strengthens, leading them to question their true feelings for each other.
Then, out of the blue, Adam turns up from New Zealand, adding to the melting pot of emotions. Soon Mack’s juggling some tough decisions and trying to make those around her happy. But can she find the balance and have her own ever-after?’

My review will appear later today, in the meantime please read on for a Q&A with Tricia Stringer and your chance to win one print edition of Right As Rain.

Q & A with Tricia Stringer

Q: What five words would you choose to describe Right As Rain?
TS: Australian, rural, realistic, riveting, romantic

Q:What was the first element of inspiration for the story of Right as Rain?
TS: I can never pinpoint that first drop of inspiration. This story came together from several events – my first proper visit to the South East of South Australia opened my eyes to its beauty and variety of settings; I enjoyed a wonderful meal at Bistro Dom in Adelaide where the menu board listed Hawkers Creek lamb, this was lamb from the chef’s wife’s family farm. Being from a sheep farm I thought how cool to have your own lamb listed on the menu at such a fantastic restaurant; I read about a Wagyu beef producer in the South East who has a tasting room. These three things were the catalyst for the beginnings of an idea that became Right as Rain.

Q:I understand you grew up on a farm, did you have dreams, like MacKenna of one day managing the family property?
TS: I have two older siblings and in my day it was understood the male took over the farm. My brother did and I never thought it would be any other way. I was very interested in genetics though and toyed with the idea of joining what would have been the first group of females to study animal science at Roseworthy Agricultural College. I went for my first love which was teaching. That proved to be wonderful choice for me.

Q: What was the most interesting fact you discovered when researching Right as Rain?
TS: I enjoyed talking with South East farmers. Some things were the same for them as for the farms where I grew up on Eyre Peninsula but there were also many differences. I knew nothing about irrigation for instance. I also really enjoyed feeding my interest in genetics. I gave myself permission to do lots of research. More than was needed for the book but I found it interesting and who knows – it may appear in another story someday.

Q: Do you have a favourite lamb recipe to share?
TS: Oh no! Do I have to pick? There are so many beautiful ways to cook with lamb. I had fun researching as I’m not a particularly inventive cook but I do love roast lamb. It’s hard to beat and so simple to cook. For the best flavour, halve a clove of garlic and rub each half into the meat and bone, use a good quality olive oil to drizzle on the meat then rub in cracked black pepper and sea salt flakes. Put in a baking on tray on a bed of fresh rosemary sprigs. My son taught me this one and it’s delicious. Serve with roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables, my favourites are roast parsnip and cauliflower and broccoli au gratin.

Q: Can you please share three of your favourite novels by Australian women writers?
TS: That’s too hard. I have so many. I’ve listed three but there are so many wonderful Australian women writers.
Run to Me by Diane Hester
Burning Lies by Helene Young
Lola’s Secret by Monica McInerney

Q: What is your preference?
 Coffee/Tea or other?  Coffee
Beach/Pool or River? Beach
Slacks/Jeans or Leggings? Jeans
Butterfly/Tiger or Giraffe? Tiger

Right As Rain is available to purchase from

Harlequin  I Booktopia I Amazon AU I Amazon US

via Booko

****************************

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to Morey Media

I have

1 print edition of Right As Rain to giveaway

**Open to  Australian Residents only**

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Entries Close December 29th, 2013

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Excerpt & Guest Post: Blood Therapy by Lynda Hilburn

lyndaH044_pp

I am very happy to be hosting Lynda Hilman at Book’d Out today. I have just finished the second book in her series, Blood Therapy, following on from  The Vampire Shrink featuring Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist. The third book, Crimson Psyche is to be published by Jo Fletcher Books in January 2014.

Hilburn’s dark contemporary fantasy series begins with The Vampire Shrink when the therapeutic treatment of a vampire wannabee plunges psychologist Kismet Knight into a paranormal subculture she refuses to believe exists. She considers her patient’s tales of vampire hypnosis and blood drinking a product of a desperate young girl crying out for attention until she meets Devereux who claims to be 800 years old and declares Kismet his soul mate. Yet Kismet is still unwilling to succumb to what she is sure is nothing but mind tricks and illusions even when she confronts bodies drained of blood and wakes trapped in a coffin after being kidnapped. Despite Kismet’s determination to deny the entire absurd situation  she finds herself in the middle of a vampire war, and at the mercy of a psychopath.

The story continues in Blood Therapy as, still reeling from the so-called vampire murders around Halloween, Dr. Kismet Knight is trying to adjust to her new otherworldly clients and her unique relationship with drop-dead gorgeous nightwalker Devereux. She can’t deny her attraction to him, but is his intoxicating hold on her a loving embrace or vice-like grip? And while Devereux has been clear about what he’ll do to any immortal who lays a fang on her, Kismet is still being stalked by Lucifer, the obsessed bloodsucker targeting therapists for death. With Kismet scheduled to make a presentation at the American Psychological Association’s New York conference, handsome FBI agent Alan Stevens feels it’s too risky to let her go without him. Not only is he concerned that the conference is a psychologist smorgasbord too juicy for Lucifer to pass up, but there is also some unfinished business with Kismet to be settled. Can Alan – or Devereux – track down the elusive Lucifer, or is Kismet destined to confront him herself?

My review of Blood Therapy will be posted later today.. .please read on for a special post from Lynda and an excerpt from Blood Therapy.

The Truth About Hypnosis by Lynda Hilburn

Since Dr. Kismet Knight, has a hypnosis session in BLOOD THERAPY [Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist book #2], and I’m a certified clinical hypnotherapist myself, I thought it would be fun to write a little about hypnosis.
Then, stay tuned for an excerpt from BLOOD THERAPY.

What is Hypnosis?
You’re driving down the road, lost in a daydream, and you suddenly notice that you’ve driven past your exit, or you are miles farther than you remember driving. Welcome to the wonderful, normal, every-day experience of hypnosis!
Although hypnosis is often portrayed as being a sleep state (which it isn’t), hypnosis is actually a state of heightened awareness – an experience of focused attention. A normal tool in our consciousness toolbox. And, although it might be fun to remember scenes of stage hypnosis – which fall into the category of entertainment – where people were clucking like chickens or wearing bags on their heads or taking their clothes off or howling like wolves, those things have little to do with the art and craft of hypnotherapy. And, since one can’t be compelled to do something in hypnosis that one wouldn’t ordinarily do, there is always an element of choice at work.
Some of the other definitions of hypnosis used in the past are: Hypnosis is guided daydreaming; Hypnosis is a natural, altered state of consciousness; Hypnosis is a relaxed, hypersuggestible state; Hypnosis is a twilight state; and Hypnosis as a process of influential communication.
And even though a pleasant by-product of hypnosis is profound relaxation, being relaxed isn’t necessary for hypnosis to occur.

Misunderstandings (Myths) About Hypnosis

Hypnosis is caused by the power of the hypnotist.
False: All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, the client is in total control and chooses to follow the hypnotherapist.
Only certain kinds of people can be hypnotized.
False: Everyone can be hypnotized. As with everything, trance comes easier for some than others. As Milton Erickson said, there are no resistant clients, only unskilled hypnotists.
Anyone who can be hypnotized must be weak-minded.
False: Ability to be hypnotized is not correlated with any personality traits.
Once someone has been hypnotized, one can no longer resist it.
False: If a client chooses not to go into trance, she/he will not.
One can be hypnotized to say or do something against one’s will.
False: The conditions necessary to effect such powerful influence (such as brainwashing via torture, etc.) do not correspond to the typical therapeutic encounter.
Being hypnotized can be hazardous to your health.
False: Hypnosis itself is not harmful, but an incompetent practitioner can do some damage through sheer ignorance about the complexity of each person’s mind or through a lack of respect for the integrity of each human being.
One inevitably becomes dependent on the hypnotist.
False: Hypnosis as a therapeutic tool doesn’t in and of itself foster dependencies of any kind.
One can become “stuck” in trance.
False: Trance is a state of focused attention, either inwardly or outwardly directed. It is controlled by the client, who can initiate or terminate trance as she/he chooses.
One is asleep or unconscious when in a trance state.
False: Trance is not sleep. The client is relaxed yet alert.
One must be relaxed in order to be in trance.
False: Trance is concentrated attention. Relaxation is not a prerequisite.
Hypnosis may be used to accurately recall everything that has happened to you.
False: The mind is not a computer. Memories are stored on the basis of perceptions, and are subject to the same distortions as perceptions. Memory is not reliable.
Hypnosis is different from daydreaming, guided imagery, visualization, meditation.
False: Those are different words for the same phenomenon.
Deep trance is necessary in order for hypnosis to be effective.
False: In process-oriented hypnotherapy (as opposed to stage hypnosis or medical-model hypnosis) powerful transformation is experienced in light, medium and deep trance.

kismet 2 UK

Blood Therapy Excerpt: Fear of Fangs Group

The afternoon proved to be highly productive.

I met with several clients, updated case files, filled out required paperwork, returned phone calls and practiced the hum. It was already getting easier. I knew my human clients had no physiological effect on my brain – although a few resistant souls often made my head feel like it was going to explode – but I enjoyed practicing my new conscious trance state during their sessions. It was exciting to realize I could be as, or even more, effective functioning from a deeper level of mind.

Since the bleak winter day had been overcast – we’d gotten several inches of snow in the last twenty-four hours – darkness began creeping in by late afternoon. I checked the clock and arranged chairs in a circle. My Fear of Fangs group members would be popping in soon for our third meeting. I never would’ve suspected so many vampires had biting issues.

Sitting behind my desk, I breathed deeply to prepare myself for the increasing fear level, and waited for the participants to arrive. Only four members would be attending. The two other regulars were taking the night off. One of the no-shows, Betty, a former actress and current histrionic bipolar, called and said she wouldn’t be leaving her coffin this evening due to having difficulty breathing. Apparently, being dead wasn’t enough of a clue that breathing was optional. And the other, Medina, a suicidal, two-century-old blood-drinker with depression, kept using the same methods she’d used as a human to try to kill herself. She knew none of the familiar approaches would work, but she couldn’t break the pattern. According to her roommate, she’d jumped off a skyscraper again and was incapacitated until she healed.

Should I send a get-well card? A regenerate-your-limbs soon card? My night-walking clients were nothing if not creative.

Chain arrived first. True to his name, he wore chains around his neck, through his belt loops to hold his baggy blue jeans up, wrapped around his “biker boots,” and encircling his wrists. Tall and thin with long, stringy black hair and dull gray eyes, he wore his well-loved Harley jacket. Swaggering over to my desk, he hitched a hip on the corner and said, “Hey, doll. Let the party begin.”

To the casual observer, Chain appeared to be one tough bloodsucker.

Looks could be deceiving.

“Hello, Chain. Remember we talked about you calling me by my professional title? You’re practicing being respectful, right?”

“Sure, doll, I mean Dr. Knight. Whatever you say.”

“Thanks, Chain. Go ahead and take a chair.”

Lucille silently appeared. “Hello, Dr. Knight. I hope I’m not late.”

“Hello, Lucille. As usual, you’re right on time. Please find your seat.”

“Well, if it ain’t Mother Superior, come to join the sinners,” Chain said, referring to the fact that Lucille, who usually came to group wearing tight, revealing clothing with big hair, tonight sported a floor-length nun’s habit, complete with veil and a long, rose quartz rosary around her neck. Her vivid green eyes sparkled in her pale face. A wisp of brown hair peeked from the white coif on her head. Like many schizophrenics, Lucille experienced religious hallucinations as part of her illness.

“Chain? Is that respectful? I asked.

He slouched down in his chair, sulking. Chain’s diagnosis was antisocial personality disorder, mediated by extreme anxiety. While he had strong psychopathic tendencies, which normally would preclude him from participating in the group, his urges were held in check by his profound fear. He’d told us he liked torturing and killing animals when he was a human child, but after every incident, he hid in his closet for hours, terrified, waiting for the ghost of the dead to take its revenge.

“I forgive him, Dr. Knight,” Lucille said, crossing herself. “He can’t help it.”

Something must have escalated her anxiety in order to explain the clothing choice.

Partners in every way, the last two members appeared together, as they often did.

“Hi, Doctor Knight,” they said, in unison.

“Hello, Walter, Dennis. Nice to see you. Go ahead and sit and we’ll get started.”

“Hey! Bummer and Downer are here. Let the whining begin!” Chain teased.

“Chain? We had this discussion. Walter and Dennis prefer to go by their real names.”

“Yeah.” He pouted. “But you’re the only one who calls them that. You shouldn’t just yell at me. Everybody knows how they are.”

Well then, should I call you Psycho?

But Chain was right. They’d earned their vampire nicknames due to their negative outlooks, and had elevated pessimism to an art form. No matter how many silver linings were offered, they could find the dark cloud.

Gathering my notebook, pen and water bottle, I joined them.

“Let’s go around the circle and check in. How did your week go? Any success to report? Lucille, would you like to begin?”

She broke into tears. “Oh, Dr. Knight. I tried what you suggested. I stood in front of the mirror and tried to appreciate my fangs, to think good thoughts about them. But the longer I looked at them, the sharper they seemed to get, until I was so scared I pulled them out of my mouth again. Like before. I tried to collect the blood from the holes in my gums, so I could drink it and not have to go feed, but it clotted too fast. And drinking my own blood doesn’t work, anyway.” She covered her face with her hands and sobbed for a few seconds before plucking a tissue from the box and wiping her nose. “Then, when the fangs grew back in, I tried to drink from one of my regular humans, but I was so clumsy pushing my teeth into his neck that I ripped him up. He screamed and I screamed. It was horrible. He finally agreed to cut his wrist and drip the blood into a cup for me. I’m such a failure.”

“You got that right,” Chain said.

I gave him a look and he shifted his gaze to the carpet.

There definitely wasn’t a Love Your Fangs class in graduate school.

You can find out more about the series and Lynda Hilburn at

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Print and Ebooks Editions Available to Purchase from

Jo Fletcher BooksBookDepository I Amazon US I Amazon UK

Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist books/stories order:
Devereux: The Night Before Kismet [short story]
The Vampire Shrink
Until Death Do Us Part [free short story]
Sex in a Coffin [short story]
Blood Therapy
Crimson Psyche

Feature Review, Guest Post and Giveaway: Dee Ernst and A Slight Change of Plan

DeeE

Dee Ernst writes chic-lit with a difference, her protagonist’s are not the perky twenty and a bit bright young thing (who always seems to be either work as a PR or a PA in fashion or advertising), dumped by some love rat, who after copious tears and self pity navigates her way to true love with her soul mate, but are mature women with far more substance and less style. In 2010 Dee Ernst took the plunge and self published her  novel, Better Off Without Him, which I reviewed in 2011 and I was delighted to be offered her newest novel, A Slight Change of Plan, published with Amazon’s Montlake imprint, for review.


A Slight Change of Plan
features Kate Everett, a fifty something year old widow ready for a fresh start. With her adult children beginning their own lives, she has exchanged the family home for a fabulous new condo, swapped her high pressure career for a part time teaching position,  and is  looking forward to her daughter’s impending wedding, the possibility of her first grandchild and perhaps finding someone new to share her life with.  But Kate’s plans are thrown into almost immediate disarray when her son and his girlfriend need somewhere to live and take over the top floor of her condo, her mother, whom she has barely spoken to in eight years, can no longer live alone and Kate is forced to make room for her in the basement, and then her new job falls through. At least her love life though is looking up, she has met a nice man online and is enjoying dating again, but soon even that grows complicated when she reconnects with the college boyfriend who broke her heart and finds herself attracted to her daughter’s boyfriend’s father who is visiting for the wedding. Best laid plans and all that …

A Slight Change of Plan is a smart, witty and engaging novel about love and life, wonderfully capturing the challenges of middle age woman reinventing herself after her husband has gone and her children are grown up. A pragmatist with a romantic soul, Kate is a wholly likeable protagonist and I’d be happy to share a glass of wine, or a spaghetti dinner, with her any time.

The situations Kate are faced with are ones many mature women can relate to from the irritation of hot flushes to the concern for an aging mother, and I think Ernst portrays them in a realistic manner, if sometimes slightly exaggerated for comic effect. I smiled a lot through this story and laughed out loud more than once.

A Slight Change of Plan is chick-lit for the mature woman, well written, funny and full of heart, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to any woman of a certain age.

I am pleased to be able to share a guest post from Dee Ernst today about the inspiration for this novel. Read on for her insights and the chance for you to win a copy of your own…

On Inspiration

Someone asked me the other night where I got the inspiration for the stories I write.  A few years ago, that question would have sent me into a sputtering, mind-bending, soul-searching and very long-winded explanation.  Now, since I’m older and infinitely wiser, the answer is a simple one – I write the kinds of stories I want to read.

My first book was the love story between a 40-something single mom and a 20-something rock star.  Was that a fantasy for me?  Sure – isn’t it for every mom who looks over their kid’s shoulder at whatever music video they’re watching and says, “Wow”?

But more that that, I wanted the heroine to be a complete, experienced character, not a young, simpering thing interested in clothes, shoes and sex.  I wanted a hero who was not the typical alpha male – strong, silent, brooding, with a terrible secret holding him back.  And the whole idea that the two of them have to spend the first half of the book bickering/denying their attraction/bumping into each other semi-naked every five minutes?

Really?

So I wrote the kind of romance I wanted to read about.  Michael and Diane were grown-ups.  They had real lives and real problems.  Diane had almost grown daughters, and their feelings had to be considered.  Michael was a rock musician, but he was also a math nerd who loved his family.  Theirs was a relationship that grew.  Was the sex hot?  I think so.  But they also talked about their journey.  They spent time learning from each other.  Was it still a fantasy?  Yes, but it was also a pretty honest look about how complicated love could be.

A few years later, as much as I loved chick-lit, I was tired about all those heroines who didn’t have common sense, backbone, or a life outside their glam job/hunky boyfriend/fabulous closet.  Couldn’t a real woman – successful, confident and NOT twenty-seven – be a chick-lit character?  Did the humor have to be because she was always being pushed into impossible, over-the-top situations?  Where were the women of a certain age – MY age – who were kicking butt, taking names, and making readers laugh?  I couldn’t find any of them who were not knitting, opening a decrepit bed-and-breakfast, or solving a mystery with their cat.   That’s when I wrote Better Off Without Him.

When it came to writing my new book, I took a look around me.  All my friends and I were in the same demographic, and there were common threads in our lives.  Dealing with aging parents.  Having grown kids return home.  Staring a new career.  Downsizing.  And, since a few of my friends are divorced, dating after fifty.  Now that’s a whole other ballgame.

So that’s what I wrote about, because that’s the kind of book I’d want to read – a real woman dealing with real problems, trying to figure out her role as her world changed around her.  But it had to be funny.  I was done with those long, navel-gazing novels about crushing middle age.  My feeling has always been, if you can’t find something to laugh about, why bother getting out of bed in the morning?

So A Slight Change of Plan is Kate’s story.  She’s about to begin her ‘Second Act’.  She’s got grown children, great friends and a mother she hasn’t spoken to in years.  She wants a new career, a new home, and she’s looking for a new love.  She thinks she’s got it all figured out, but every time she takes a step towards her new life, she finds another obstacle.  All her well-laid plans go awry.

Sound tortured?  Maybe, but I don’t like to read tortured, remember?  I like to read funny, with a great love story and a happy ending.  And hopefully, that’s the kind of book I wrote.

A Slight Change of Plan is available to purchase from

Amazon US and your local Amazon site

***

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to Dee Ernst

I have

1 kindle edition of

A Slight Change of Plans to giveaway

To Enter

Leave a comment on this post and then

CLICK HERE

Entries Close December 1st, 2013

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Giveaway: Happy Birthday Escape Publishing!

happybirthdayescape

November 14th marks a full year since the launch of Harlequin Australia’s digital romance imprint, Escape Publishing.

To celebrate I have a fabulous e-bundle of six Australian Romances to giveaway to one lucky reader!

The Convicts Bounty BridehiddenfireAWorldApart

Black Diamondsitslovedudelostinkakadu

I asked the authors of these wonderful books

“Where is your favourite place to escape to?”.

Here are their answers:

***

LenaDowling

Lena Dowling – The Convict’s Bounty Bride

“Russell – a quaint historic town surrounded by beaches and glistening blue water in New Zealand’s magical ‘Bay of Islands’.”

***

Alexis-FlemingAlexis Fleming – Hidden Fire

“I have lovely memories of a particular place my husband and I escaped to many years ago. We decided to run away from home for a couple of months so we hired a bure on a deserted beach on Plantation Island in Fiji. We fished, traded our excess for vegetables and anything else we needed, lounged on the beach, swam in the lovely warm ocean, learned to live without television and what were considered the necessary mod cons of life, and ended our days watching the sun set over the sea. It was an incredible time. That would have to be my favourite place to escape to and I’d go back again in a heartbeat.”

***

Peter-McAra

Peter McAra – A World Apart

“Somewhere not too far from where I live on the NSW South Coast. It will have ocean and forest views to infinity, as well as a wine cellar with lots of those perfect, wickedly expensive Hunter Valley Semillons – perhaps one from the late 50s, and, of course, the company of my lovely wife Wendy.”

***

ElizaRedgold

Eliza Redgold – Black Diamonds

South sea pearls. Pink diamonds. Breathtaking beaches. Magical mangroves. My favourite escape is the steamy, tropical town of Broome in north Western Australia. Not only is it the coastal pearling capital of Australia, but it’s also situated at the edge of one of the last great wildernesses of the world, the Kimberley desert. It has some great attractions, from sunset camel rides at Cable Beach to its laid back lifestyle, known as ‘Broome time’.”

***

JennySchwartz

Jenny Schwartz – It’s Love, Dude

“My favourite place to escape to is the beach — or a library! I like the freedom of the beach, the limitless horizons, the crash of the waves and the faint taste of salt on the air. But libraries have books. It’s a tough choice :)

***

KendallTalbot

Kendall Talbot – Lost in Kakadu

“My dream escape is a luxury villa in Tuscany. But my more realistic escape is the beach. I love the sound of the rolling waves, especially at night. It’s a raw natural beauty, nature at its best, and I always feel a sense of peace when I’m near the ocean.”

***

For your chance to WIN the Australian Romance Bundle, tell me where your favourite place to escape to is, in the comments,

 and then

CLICK HERE

Open Worldwide.  Entries close Nov 24th.  Drawn via Random.org

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop Nov 9th – 13th

The Literary Blog Hop is hosted by Judith at Leeswammes’ Blog.

I am offering one reader the chance to choose a book from the following titles written by Australian authors from The Book Depository.

{Click the cover for more information from Goodreads}

Entry details

*Open worldwide

*NB: You MUST qualify for the BookDepository free shipping to win one of the print books listed – see if your country is listed here, If you do not qualify for free shipping with Bookdepository you can opt for a $10 gift certificate from Amazon US.

Winner will be drawn via random.org and announced Monday November 18th

Entries Closed

Winner is: Elizabeth (BookAttic)

I’d love it if you took a few minutes and poked around the blog, maybe leave a comment or follow me!

Then visit the other participants

Linky List:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Ciska’s Book Chest
  3. Sam Still Reading
  4. The Things You Can Read (US)
  5. Col Reads
  6. Guiltless Reading
  7. Love at First Book (US)
  8. Maurice On Books (US)
  9. Mythical Books
  10. Books by Judith
  11. Bees Knees Reviews (US)
  12. River City Reading
  13. Too Fond
  14. Exurbanis
  15. Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
  16. Book’d Out
  17. Roof Beam Reader
  18. Books Speak Volumes
  19. The Relentless Reader (US)
  20. Under My Apple Tree (US)
  21. Booklover Book Reviews
  22. Nishita’s Rants and Raves
  23. Ephemeral Digest
  24. Julia Crane Author (US)
  25. Melissa Pearl Author (US)
  1. Read Lately (US)
  2. Readerbuzz
  3. Lucybird’s Book Blog (Europe)
  4. The Misfortune of Knowing
  5. Bibliophile By the Sea
  6. The Novel Life
  7. Dolce Bellezza
  8. Nose in a book
  9. Book-alicious Mama (US)
  10. Words for Worms
  11. Wensend
  12. A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall (N-America)

Review & Giveaway: Driftwood by Mandy Magro

Title: Driftwood

Author: Mandy Magro

Published: Harlequin MIRA November 2013

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on November 06, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Dual narratives unfold in Driftwood, Mandy Magro’s engaging fourth Australian rural fiction novel.

In 1861, wanted bushranger William Campbell and his beloved, Anne Margaret Willow, are forced to flee the Goldbury Township of New South Wales, changing their names to evade the law.  They settle in Northern Queensland, purchasing Waratah Station and work hard to leave their past behind them, building a future for their family.
In the present day, Taylor Whitworth has fled the city, and the expectations of her family, to pursue her dream of country living, when she stumbles into the tiny Northern Queensland town of Driftwood. Taylor immediately feels at home and within days has gained an apartment, a job in the local pub and an invitation by the handsome Jay Donnellson, to join the next muster on Waratah Station as a jillaroo.

Though I thought there were a few minor issues with the writing, the dialogue was sometimes stilted and the pacing a little uneven, I enjoyed the stories presented in both timelines of Driftwood.

The historical period involves a tale of bushranging, corruption, murder and a beautiful love story touched by both tragedy and joy. The present day timeline focuses on the budding romance between Taylor and Jay but is also deepened by the mystery of Taylor’s father, a man she believes is dead, and enlivened by a cyclone that threatens to destroy everything. Fate eventually reveals the tie between the two timelines, and Taylor’s affinity for Driftwood.

Music is an important part of this novel, Taylor is a talented songstress and Australian country and western singer Adam Brand has an extended cameo in Driftwood. Though I am not much of a country music fan I thought he was a sweetheart after watching his participation in Dancing With the Stars and I really enjoyed his role in the novel. In the video clip below, Adam Brand sings one of the songs mentioned in Driftwood.

A quick read, Driftwood is an engaging story of love and drama with appealing characters and an interesting plot to satisfy fans of both contemporary and historical romance.

Available To Purchase From

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Via booko

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to Morey Media

I have

1 print edition of Driftwood to giveaway

**Open to  Australian Residents only**

Leave a comment sharing your favourite country and western song or singer and then

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Entries Close November 17th, 2013

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Blog Tour: Seven Sins in Seven Days: Pride, with Gigi Levangie

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Welcome to the Seven Sins in Seven days Blog Tour to introduce

Seven Deadlies by Gigi Levangie

SEVEN DEADLIES COVER_small

This quirky, satirical tale takes the form of a college admission essay sharing fourteen year old Perry Gonzalez’s insights into the privileged lives of her peers.

A precocious Latina scholarship student living in a tiny apartment with her estimable mother, Perry tutors, or babysits, the progeny of the Hollywood neighbourhood to save for her future. In this manner she is exposed to the personification of the seven deadly sins and writes of the inevitable consequences of lust, wrath, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy and pride.

From the demanding diva whose lust for her every desire results in electrocution, to the gluttonous appetite of a young boy who mistakes his own flesh for a leg of ham, there is plenty of humour, if morbidly exaggerated, in the stories Perry has to share. However in each vignette there is also the dark, sad truth of children corrupted by excess, variously indulged or ignored by their parents, and who ultimately pay a high price for their sinful behaviour.

While I was a little puzzled by the ending and didn’t think the twist necessary, I found Seven Deadlies to be an entertaining novel with the potential to find an audience with both young adult readers and a more mature audience.

***

Q & A With Gigi Levangie

I was invited to ask Gigi Levangie a few questions about Seven Deadlies and feature the sin of

*Pride*

Q: Tell us about Seven Deadlies…
A: The Seven Deadlies is about a scholarship student, Perry Gonzalez, who attends an exclusive private high school and finds herself tutoring teenagers who embody the Seven Deadly Sins. In a nutshell, it’s the Seven Deadly Sins in high school – and what better place to find them.

Q: What was the subject of your college admissions essay?
A: Good question! If I remember correctly, the subject of my college admissions essay was about the neighborhood I grew up in – the quintessential melting pot. There really were over 80 dialects spoken in my high school – Hollywood High.

Q: What or who  inspired the story of Pride?
A: Pride is the story of an athlete pushed to his limits – by himself and his father. I’m raising boys who are athletic – and I see this story played out over and over again on the field. (Hi, Baseball Dads – calm down! Little League isn’t the MLB!)  Then, there are the professional athletes – Lance Armstrong, whom I still admire for personal reasons, is obviously an example of Pride Gone Wild.

Q: What are you most proud of?
A: I’m most proud of my ability to bounce back. Knock me down 100 times, I’ll get back up on 101. Perseverance is key. I’m also really proud of the depth of my relationship with my children – all the kids in my family, in fact.

Q: Which sin are you most guilty of?
A: The sin I’m most guilty of? See above. Pride. My pride sometimes stands in the way of asking for help or appearing vulnerable. Just ask anyone I’ve ever dated!

Q: Who do you think will most enjoy Seven Deadlies?
A: I think the Seven Deadlies audience is pretty wide – starting with 12 or 13-year-olds – all the way to adult. I see it as a Tim Burton movie in book form. And Cecilia Ruiz’s illustrations alone are worth the price of admission!

***

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to Blue Rider Press

I have

1 print edition of Seven Deadlies to giveaway

*US/Canada Only*

To Enter

Leave a comment on this post confessing the sin you are most guilty of and then

CLICK HERE TO PROVIDE YOUR DETAILS

Entries Close November 3rd, 2013

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AWW Feature & Giveaway: Victoria Purman and Nobody but Him

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Welcome Victoria Purman

Victoria Purman has studied journalism at university, worked as a television and radio journalist, a speechwriter, a publicist, a communications consultant, a political adviser, and a public servant. Not to mention mum, chef, taxi driver, volunteer and problem-solver. Living in South Australia, when she is not writing, she spends time with her husband, three sons, a disobedient dog, her loving, extended family and dear friends.

Nobody But Him published by Harlequin Australia on October 1st 2013, is Victoria’s debut novel and the first in a trilogy named My Boys of Summer. My review of this sweet and sexy romance will be posted later today but let Victoria pique your interest with this guest post about the setting of Nobody But Him and keep reading for your chance to win!

Sun, salt and sand: My inspiration for “Nobody But Him” and the Boys of Summer trilogy

Who hasn’t harboured a secret fantasy about running away from it all to a sleepy beachside town, where summers never end and the coastal air blows the cobwebs from your mind, taking the stress and problems of city life with it?
The fresh air, the long walks, the sun, the relaxed mood, that feeling that you’re on holidays all year round?
What’s not to love? And it’s clearly not just me who has occasionally indulged in this daydream. Hundreds of thousands of Australians flock to the beach like seagulls onto a hot chip during summer holidays for the sun, the surf, the clean and safe water and the fun.
We just love the weather, the views, the surfing, swimming and bodyboarding, the beach cricket and time under a beach umbrella with a good book.
So, why not set a book in a place as gorgeous as this?

Camera download Jan 2013 291

“Nobody But Him”, the first book in my Boys of Summer trilogy, takes place in the fictional town of Middle Point on the very real and stunning coastline of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula.
I’ve been lucky enough during the past few years to spend time each summer with my family there and we adore it. The small towns there aren’t far from Adelaide, just over an hour’s drive south, but they seem a world away from the city.
Victor Harbor has been a holiday resort town for more than a hundred years, and Goolwa is the place where the River Murray finally finishes winding its way through southeastern Australia and flows out to sea.
In between are the small towns of Port Elliot and Middleton, which swell when the warm weather arrives, as thousands of holidaymakers not just from South Australia but from around Australia head there to relax.
Middleton (which is the inspiration for Middle Point) is a surfers’ beach. Here are a couple of them about to head out to catch a wave or two.

Camera download Jan 2013 348

One of Australia’s most famous wine-growing districts – McLaren Vale – sits on the Fleurieu and that area gets a mention in the book, too. What a perfect summer view, especially with a glass of chilled white wine in your hand!

Camera download Jan 2013 340

As you turn the pages and get to know my characters, I hope you’ll let yourself be whisked away to the beach, smell the salt in the air and feel the warming sun on your face.
My heroine Julia is someone who left Middle Point as soon as she turned eighteen, leaving behind her hometown and a city boy – Ryan – with a broken heart. But after her mother dies, she’s forced to go home and finalise her mother’s estate. Coming home makes her realise that not only has her hometown changed, but she has too.
And when she runs into a grown-up Ryan Blackburn, sparks fly once again
I tried to imagine what it would have been like for a young girl growing up in a small town like those I’ve mentioned, and what it must be like to see the wealthier holidaymakers arrive and turn those towns upside down during the summer.
That’s something I wanted to explore in “Nobody But Him”. My characters are at a point in their lives where they have to make some big decisions about who they want to be, where they want to live and whether they’ll open their hearts to love.
A love story set in such a beautiful part of the world? Heaven, if you ask me. I hope you agree.

Nobody But Him is available to purchase from

Harlequin I BoomerangBooks I Booktopia I Amazon Kindle

via Booko

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to Morey Media

I have

1 print edition of Nobody But Him to giveaway

**Open to  Australian Residents only**

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Entries Close October 20th, 2013

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