A thought about: Smoke by Catherine McKenzie


Title: Smoke

Author: Catherine McKenzie

Published: Lake Union Publishing October 2015

Status: Read from October 30 to 31, 2015 — I own a copy

From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.
After a decadelong career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in her former life for a quieter one with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce and a fire in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.
For Elizabeth’s ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who has lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation.
As the encroaching inferno threatens the town’s residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved.

My Thoughts:

An engaging novel that combines domestic drama, mystery and action. The writing is solid and the setting is strong.

Available to purchase via

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Blog Tour Review: The Enchanted Island by Ellie O’Neill


Title: The Enchanted Island

Author: Ellie O’Neill

Published: Simon & Schuster November

Status: Read from November 03 to 04, 2015 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

The Enchanted Island is Ellie O’Neill’s captivating second novel about self discovery, modern day malaise, and magic.

When apprentice solictor Maeve O’Brien is sent to Hy Brasil, a tiny island off the coast of Ireland, to finalise a deal for a client, she’s determined to prove herself. Sure, she has made some mistakes, betraying her best friend and burying herself in debt among them, but she’s confident that this assignment will help her turn things around. All Maeve needs is a signature from Sean Fitzpatrick, so that the client’s plans to build a bridge between the mainland and the island can go ahead, but the landowner proves to be elusive, and most of the locals uniformly unhelpful.

Stuck on Hy Brasil, determined to complete her mission, Maeve is initially panicked at the thought of being on her own, but without the distractions of retail therapy and her busy city social life, she begins to reevaluate what she is looking for in life. O’Brien pokes fun at our modern day obsession with packaged beauty, social media and consumerism. I really liked the way in which Maeve changes through the novel, letting go of her shallow obsessions, and becoming a more confident, authentic person.

And while many of the locals, especially the elderly are distinctly unfriendly, Maeve makes some new friends including two stoner app developers, a charming gay couple and the handsome local schoolteacher, Killian. It’s not until she finally corners Sean Fitzpatrick though that she learns the secrets of Hy Brasil.

reluctantlycharmedAs in Reluctantly Charmed, O’Neill draws on the folklore of Ireland to add a touch of mysticism to this contemporary novel. Hy Brasil is an island of great, almost unspoiled, beauty, rumoured to offer you your heart’s desire, but there is an underlying atmosphere of menace that makes Maeve uneasy. The locals are secretive, bone chilling cries rent the night air, and a dark sort of energy seems to lurk unseen.

With an appealing mix of humour, intrigue and romance, this is an entertaining read. Well written, The Enchanted Island is an enchanting novel.

The Enchanted island is available via

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A thought about: The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood


Title: The Natural Way of Things

Author: Charlotte Wood

Published: Allen & Unwin October 2015

Status: Read from October 26 to 27, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in an abandoned property in the middle of a desert in a story of two friends, sisterly love and courage – a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted.

She hears her own thick voice deep inside her ears when she says, ‘I need to know where I am.’ The man stands there, tall and narrow, hand still on the doorknob, surprised. He says, almost in sympathy, ‘Oh, sweetie. You need to know what you are.’

Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of nowhere. Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how they came to be there with eight other girls, forced to wear strange uniforms, their heads shaved, guarded by two inept yet vicious armed jailers and a ‘nurse’. The girls all have something in common, but what is it? What crime has brought them here from the city? Who is the mysterious security company responsible for this desolate place with its brutal rules, its total isolation from the contemporary world? Doing hard labour under a sweltering sun, the prisoners soon learn what links them: in each girl’s past is a sexual scandal with a powerful man. They pray for rescue — but when the food starts running out it becomes clear that the jailers have also become the jailed. The girls can only rescue themselves.

My Thoughts:

A thought provoking, provocative novel that explores a chilling near-future dystopia drawn from the realities of contemporary society for women. Beautifully written but deeply disquieting.


Available via

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About: Buying Thyme by TJ Hamilton


Title: Buying Thyme {Thyme Trilogy #1}

Author: TJ Hamilton

Published: Harlequin AU October 2015

Status: Read from October 27 to 30, 2015 — I own a copy

What else comes at a price?
Miranda is a high-class escort at an infamous agency in Sydney, and always in demand from their top clients. Although it’s a life she never imagined for herself, Miranda has mastered the art of seducing men and makes a good living from it.
Joe Tench, rich, powerful and alluring, owns the majority of the nightlife in Sydney and is a regular client of Miranda’s. He’s demanding, dominating and dangerous, but Miranda finds herself falling for his unexpected, yet enticing charm.
That is, until she meets the mysterious Tom Smythe, heir to a wealthy mining company, and becomes caught between her feelings for these two very different men.
But neither is what they seem, and when tragedy forces Miranda to embark on a journey of discovery she will find it difficult to escape from. What price will she pay for freedom?

Available via

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A thought about: A Better Man by Leah McLaren


Title: A Better Man

Author: Leah McLaren

Published: Corvus: Allen & Unwin October 2015

Status: Read from October 06 to 08, 2015 — I own a copy

What if the only way to end your marriage was to be the perfect husband?
Maya wants Nick to be less of a workaholic, to come home earlier, to spend some time with his children.
Nick wants a divorce.
With his mind made up, Nick is determined to leave quickly and with dignity, but it comes as an unpleasant shock to realise how much it will cost him to walk away. As a stay-at- home mum, Maya is entitled to everything. Nick is resolute, so when an unlikely solution presents itself he gives it everything he’s got. If Nick becomes a better husband and father, if he encourages his wife to rediscover herself, the more self-sufficient Maya will become: and the cheaper Nick’s pay-out.
But as Nick pretends to be a better man he becomes one. He remembers his connection with Maya, their ability to be a couple and not just parents who share a house. Everything seems to be back on track. Until Maya finds out exactly what Nick has been planning.

My Thoughts:

McLaren offers plenty of emotional drama and touches of humour in A Better Man. She makes some astute observations about marriage and parenthood, but generally the story offers a quite cynical view of domesticity.


A Better Man is available via

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Review: Preschooled by Anna Lefler


Title: Preschooled

Author: Anna Lefler

Published: Full Fathom Five October 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from October 01 to 02, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Preschooled is a funny, light and sardonic debut novel from Anna Lefler.

Thrilled when her daughter gains a place at the exclusive Garden of Happiness preschool in Santa Monica, Justine is eager to impress the center’s demanding owner, Margaret, but is thrown when she runs into the man who once shattered her heart.

Margaret expects nothing less than slavish obedience from the parents who pay handsomely for privilege of a preschool education at The Garden of Happiness. Margaret is always in control, but when her soon-to-be-ex-husband betrays her by threatening to take away everything she has built, her tantrum will rival any recalcitrant toddler’s.

Ruben’s wife has gone back to work so he can work on developing a television script while looking after their twins, but he’s struggling until he finds inspiration among the committee mothers of the Garden of Happiness.

As the narrative alternates between Lefler’s three main protagonists it gently mocks the absurdities of preschool admission competition and privileged pretension, while also lightheartedly addressing more universal issues such as parenting, marriage strife and work/life balance.

Preschooled is a quick and entertaining read that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and won’t expect you to either.

Available to purchase from

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Review & Giveaway: Sweet Wattle Creek by Kaye Dobbie

Sweet Wattle Creek high res.


Title: Sweet Wattle Creek

Author: Kaye Dobbie

Published: Harlequin AU October 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from September 30 to October 01, 2015   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

With a narrative alternating between the past and the present, Sweet Wattle Creek by Kaye Dobbie, also known as Sara Bennett and Lilly Sommers, tells the story of Belle Bartholomew and Sophie Matheson, two women haunted by the secrets of their pasts.

When her father commits suicide after losing his wealth during the post war depression, Belle Bartholomew is stunned to learn of the secrets he had been keeping. Eager to know more, she travels to Sweet Wattle Creek to claim her inheritance, a rundown hotel bequeathed to her by Martha Ambrose, and though Belle’s questions put the locals offside, she is determined to solve the mystery of her birth.

Nearly sixty years later, reporter Sophie Matheson is enchanted by a vintage wedding dress donated to the Sweet Wattle Creek centenary celebrations. Intrigued by its mysterious provenance, Sophie begins to piece together the story of Belle and Charlie, and their connection to the old burnt out hotel on the town’s fringe, unaware that her own past is catching up to her.

Both Belle and Sophie are appealing and sympathetic characters. Though their situations are very different they share a similar spirit, facing adversity with courage and determination.

Dobbie’s portrayal of small town Australia during the 1930’s is very well done. The community of Sweet Wattle Creek is still struggling with grief for their loved ones lost and injured in the Great War, and are worried about the impact of the post war depression, particularly as ‘travellers’ pass through their town. Dobbie skilfully communicates this tense atmosphere, and Belle’s status as an outsider.

The mid 1980’s is a fairly bland era by comparison but Dobbie is careful to ensure the period is reflected in the storyline. The local paper where Sophie works still uses a mechanical press to publish, archives are stored in the basement, and the single computer that saves data to floppy discs is still a novelty.

Most importantly, I thought the story was very well structured, both the historical and contemporary timelines complement each other well, and advance the plot as a whole. The pacing is good and the suspense builds nicely. There are some neat turns to the plot and I thought the conclusion was satisfying.

Sweet Wattle Creek is a well crafted and engaging tale combining mystery, drama and romance, and I’m happy to recommend it.

To learn more , CLICK HERE for a guest post from the author published earlier today

Sweet Wattle Creek is available to purchase via

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and all good bookstores.


Courtesy of Kaye Dobbie I have

1 Kindle edition of

Sweet Wattle Creek

Sweet Wattle Creek high res.

to giveaway to one lucky Australian resident.

Leave a comment on this post and then


*Sorry, entry is for Australian residents only, and must have a valid Amazon.com.au account*

Entries close October 11th, 2015

#SweetWattleCreek #KayeDobbie @HarlequinAUS #JAMPR



Blog Tour: Sweet Wattle Creek by Kaye Dobbie


I’m delighted to welcome Kaye Dobbie to Book’d Out today, celebrating the release of Sweet Wattle Creek. Kaye Dobbie is an Australian author living on the central Victorian goldfields. She has been writing professionally ever since she won the Grafton Big River short story contest at the age of 18. Her career has undergone many changes, including writing Australian historical fiction under the name Lilly Sommers and penning romance novels as Sara Bennett. Kaye has written about, and been published in, many countries, but her passion for Australia shows in her current Harlequin Mira novels.

In Sweet Wattle Creek, the chance discovery of an antique wedding dress weaves together the fascinating stories of three women from different eras: Sophie, in hiding from a troubled past; Belle, who must lose everything to learn what really matters; and Martha, forced to give up those she loves in order to avoid exposure.

Sweet Wattle Creek high res.

It’s 1931 and Belle Bartholomew has arrived in rural Sweet Wattle Creek to claim her inheritance – a run-down grand hotel formerly owned by Martha Ambrose. Determined to solve the mystery of her birth and the reason why she was bequeathed the hotel Belle runs into difficulties with the townsfolk and their desire to keep their secrets safe.

Sixty years later Sophie Matheson is on a quest to find Belle and her family after discovering the wedding dress. The Sweet Wattle Creek Centenary brings more challenges when her past catches up and she must fight for all that matters to her. Who were Belle and Martha and what links their lives together?”


To read my review of Sweet Wattle Creek and for a chance to win a copy, please CLICK HERE.  But first, please read on to learn more about the novel…

Animal Characters in Sweet Wattle Creek

by Kaye Dobbie

I happen to be an animal lover. Over the years I’ve had more pets than I can remember. Well, that’s not true, because I can remember them, they all hold a special place in my heart, every one of them. So it makes sense that I have animals in my books. Usually the animal plays some role, it isn’t just there to up the word count. And sometimes I like to write about a pet I have loved and lost.

In Sweet Wattle Creek I have three main Creature Characters.

cockatoo-583921_640In 1904 Martha and her daughter Belle are waiting on the platform at Spencer Street Station, Melbourne, for Martha’s brother Rory. Four year old Belle sees a pigeon that reminds her of Nellie, her pet sulphur crested cockatoo, and the bird is introduced to readers. Later on, in 1931, Belle returns to claim her inheritance in Sweet Wattle Creek, and this time we meet the real Nellie. She becomes part of the story, sitting on Belle’s shoulder, even participating in one of the crucial scenes in the book. And near the end, if you read very carefully, she’s there, a part of Belle’s family.

In 1986 Sophie Matheson comes to Sweet Wattle Creek to hide from a frightening past. Her son Dillon has always wanted a dog but their circumstances meant it was impossible. Now they are settled in the small country town, and suddenly fate throws Smithy in their path and into their home.

Smithy is a black and white border collie, and he belongs to an elderly woman who has had a fall and been taken to hospital. Dillon and Smithy immediately bond, and his arrival gives the reader an insight into the sort of boy Dillon is and how his life has been affected by the trauma of his, and Sophie’s, past. Smithy also gives a bit of comic relief from what is a serious subject.

border collieThe third Creature Character in Sweet Wattle Creek is BC, which stands for Black Cat. BC arrived on the doorstep of Sophie’s work place, the Sweet Wattle Creek Herald, with a litter of kittens. Sophie managed to find adoptees for the others, but BC was left and now he is her cat. BC is the boss of the house, very used to getting his own way, until Smithy the border collie arrives. Suddenly BC undergoes a character change, shedding his aloofness for the sake of more pats.

BC is a pseudonym for a real cat called Aussie, who later on became Old Black Cat. She arrived one Christmas, dumped in our street, and found her way to our house. She was my cat for twenty-two years, and for the last part of her life kept me company in my study while I wrote. I got so used to seeing her on the chair behind me, or stretched out in front of the heater under the desk, that when she grew so ill we had to let her go, I felt as if my writing partner had died. At times, during those last weeks, I was worried she wouldn’t make it to the end of the book, so afterwards my sadness was tinged with gratitude that she did.

I believe animals are important in real life, so why not in fictional life too? Are you an animal lover? Do you have a special Creature Character in your life?

Sweet Wattle Creek high res.

Sweet Wattle Creek is available to purchase via

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#SweetWattleCreek #KayeDobbie @HarlequinAUS #JAMPR


Review: Night Owls by Jenn Bennett


Title: Night Owls

Author: Jenn Bennett

Published: Simon & Schuster September 2015

Status: Read on October 01, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Night Owls is a charming contemporary young adult novel from Jenn Bennet.

When aspiring medical illustrator Beatrix Adams meets a handsome teenage boy while waiting for San Francisco’s owl bus, she’s surprised to learn he is responsible for the stunning word graffiti that has the city in an uproar. Busy putting together an entry for an art contest, and her summer job, Bex doesn’t expect to see him again, but after Jack makes a grand gesture on her birthday, everything changes.

The romance between Jack and Beatrix is sweet and gentle. I liked the way Bennett developed their relationship, and even though the time-frame was fairly short, I believed in their progression. I enjoyed their banter during their first meetings and later, the support they offered each other. I was a little surprised by the sexual intimacy, but I think it was beautifully written.

The connection Bex and Jack make through their art is an important part of Night Owls. I love that Bex is an aspiring medical illustrator, it’s such a unique choice and I really like the way Bennett worked the idea throughout the novel. Jack’s graffiti art is intensely personal, and his motive very touching.

Though the romance between Bex and Jack is a major element of the story, Bennett also explores several important themes including divorce and mental illness. Bex and Jack’s family’s are very much a part of the story. Bex is close to her older brother Heath and her single mother but she is estranged from her father who left the family after an affair and is unsure when he reaches out to her. Jack’s family situation is also complicated though in an entirely different, and heartbreaking way.

A witty, stirring, and poignant story about love, family, art and heart, Night Owls is beautifully written.


Night Owls is available via

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* Also published  as The Anatomical Shape of the Heart

Click HERE for  FREE exclusive content

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Review: The Saddler Boys by Fiona Palmer


Title: The Saddler Boys

Author: Fiona Palmer

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin Au September 2015

Read an Extract

Status: Read from September 22 to 24, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Saddler Boys is another delightfully engaging rural romance from Australian author Fiona Palmer.

Natalie Wright is excited about taking up her first teaching position in the remote farming community of Lake Biddy, and is determined to make the most of a years freedom from her parent’s expectations. Welcomed by the locals despite her city ways Nat quickly falls in love with Lake Biddy and her adorable young charges, particularly shy and sweet Billy Saddler.

The development of the relationship between Natalie and single dad Drew Saddler is charming. It begins as a friendship sparked by Billy’s admiration for Nat, and her interest in understanding what farming entails but the attraction between the two is quickly evident, even as they both try to deny it. The relationship is of course complicated by Natalie’s engagement to Gary, whose character contrasts sharply with Drew’s.

Additional drama develops as the government announces its intention to shut down Lake Biddy primary school, Billy’s mother, who abandoned him as a newborn reappears demanding contact with her son, and Gary grows increasingly impatient with Natalie’s desire for independence. These subplots all add a frisson of tension to the story, and depth by touching on topical issues such as regional school closures, drug abuse, and domestic violence.

While I really liked the wonderful characterisations of Natalie, Drew and Billy, I also loved the authentic feeling of community Palmer evokes in The Saddler Boys as the residents rally against the school closure and attend the raucous P&C fundraisers. She captures the generosity of country neighbours as Doris drops off Tupperware containers full of food, and friends trade babysitting duties during harvest and seeding.

Written with warmth, humour and spirit, The Saddler Boys is an lovely read about belonging, family, and love.

Available to purchase from

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Also by Fiona Palmer at Book’d Out


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