Review: Lily’s Little Flower Shop by Lisa Darcy

 

Title: Lily’s Little Flower Shop

Author: Lisa Darcy

Published: 5th May 2021, Bloodhound Books

Status: Read June 2021 courtesy the author

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

Lily’s Little Flower Shop is an engaging contemporary romantic comedy from Australian author Lisa Darcy (aka Lisa Heidke).

Passed over for a promotion she deserved, and unwilling to follow her boyfriend overseas, Lily impulsively decides to ditch the corporate rat race and become her own boss by opening a florist on the south coast of NSW.

I liked Lily, who throws herself into making the flower shop a success. Lily, whose floristry experience comes from helping her aunt in the flower shop she once owned and a long ago completed course, faces a steep learning curve as she launches her business. I think becoming your own boss is a dream that often tempts people, but it’s hard work that requires a huge ongoing investment of time and money. Lily is often exhausted and stressed about the financial viability of the decision she has made, and I like that the author doesn’t downplay the challenges Lily faces in following her heart.

Lily is supported by well-drawn, relatable characters. While her mother is certain that Lily’s sea-change is a mistake, her slightly eccentric aunt Iris, is always there to cheer her on, as is Lily’s former colleague and friend, Taylor, who becomes a regular visitor. The townspeople of Clearwater are largely welcoming, and Lily quickly befriends hairdresser Zena, and artist and picture framer, Andy. I really liked the genuine sense of community that Darcy evoked, and the diversity represented.

Lily tries to maintain a long distance relationship with Matt, who has relocated to Hong Kong, but it’s clear the two are incompatible. This leaves the way clear for Darcy to introduce romance in Clearwater, and Lily finds her self with two admirers, Ben – the owner of a local winery, and the aforementioned Andy. The men are quite different from each other, and Andy’s unusual backstory adds drama to the story in introducing the issues of domestic violence and mental health.

Lighthearted but with pleasing depth, told with warmth and humour, Lily’s Little Flower Shop is a bloomin’ good story.

++++++

Available from your preferred retailer via

Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Review: The Callahan Split by Lisa Heidke

Title: The Callahan Split

Author: Lisa Heidke

Published: August 2015

Status: Read from August 14 to 15, 2015 — I own a copy {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

The Callahan Split is Australian author Lisa Heidke’s sixth novel but her first foray into the world of self publishing, supplementing her successful career in traditional publishing.

Professional doubles tennis champions, sisters Samantha and Annie Callahan, have each others backs both on and off the court. Riding high after winning a gold medal at the Olympics they are favourites to win the Australian Open, until Annie’s new boyfriend drops a bombshell just before their first match, and the girls relationship begins to falter. Samantha, ambitious and driven, is irate as a love-struck Annie loses interest in their childhood goal, and is completely devastated when her sister severs their partnership to pursue a singles career. Without Annie by her side, Samantha is lost and is forced to wonder if winning is really everything.

The Callahan Split is a story about sisters, Samantha and Annie share a close personal and professional bond which is severely tested when their goals in life no longer coincide. The main theme takes Heidke’s protagonists on a journey of self discovery, but it also explores serious issues such as depression, anxiety, and abandonment.

I didn’t relate particularly well to either sister initially. I found Samantha’s single-minded focus and emotional immaturity draining, and Annie’s desertion selfish. To be fair, the sisters have their reasons, not the least being their mother’s abandonment, which had a significant impact on them both, and I wasn’t entirely unsympathetic to the pressure they were both under as elite athletes trying to stay on top. Most of the story unfolds from Sam’s perspective, and I grew to appreciate the hard earned growth her character experienced. I felt her relationship with Violet and her family, and her romance with her coach, Bear, also softened her sharper edges somewhat.

I have to admit, I’m not that interested in tennis, though I spent several sleepless nights watching the Australian Open in 2003 as Andre Agassi and Serena Williams claimed the title, while nursing my newborn daughter, however I did enjoy the behind the scenes look this elite level sport, including the gossip about the on and off court antics of the players.

A tale of personal and professional adversity and triumph, The Callahan Split is an engaging story, another winner for Lisa Heidke.

Available to purchase via

Amazon,  Barnes & NobleKobo, iBooks
Available in paperback via Amazon

Also by Lisa Heidke

aww-badge-2015eclecticreader15

Review: It Started with a Kiss by Lisa Heidke

 

Title: It Started with a Kiss

Author: Lisa Heidke

Published: Allen & Unwin January 2015

Status: Read on January 01, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Friday Jones is stunned when her husband of twenty years announces he needs a break and moves out of the family home. Though Friday readily admits their marriage has been strained for a while, exacerbated by the recent deaths of Liam’s parents and the family dog, Friday never imagined Liam would simply walk away. Heartbroken, Friday struggles through each day while caring for their teenage daughters and continuing to work part time as a naturopath. Liam has been gone for four months when Friday’s boss insists she takes a week R&R at a health spa, where Friday meets a charismatic married man and falls into a wildly passionate but sort lived affair. While Liam pursues his dream to become a stand-up comedian, and tries to keep up with his brother’s bachelor lifestyle, Friday’s best friend, Rosie, encourages her to spread her wings, setting her up with a much younger man and signing her up to KissmeCupid.com, while persuading her to help out with Rosie’s latest business venture hosting divorce parties. Friday is just beginning to pull her self together when everything starts to spiral out of control, her ex lovers won’t take no for an answer, the anonymous gifts on her doorstep suggest someone is stalking her, her daughter ends up in hospital, and then Liam wants to come home…

It Started With a Kiss, Lisa Heidke’s fifth novel, unfolds from the first person perspective of Friday and the third person narrative of Liam, exploring the themes of personal happiness, marriage breakdown, domestic drama and modern relationships. The story is told with plenty of humor and wit but doesn’t dismiss the seriousness of heartbreak and loss. I especially liked the realistic ending, which isn’t as neat as you might expect.

Heidke’s characterisation is always strong, Friday is an emotional mess but that is hardly a surprise given the situation, I imagine I would be too if my husband walked out. I thought Friday was a little too self obsessed at times, even a bit flaky, as evidenced by her failure to do anything about growing her business, but I could understand that Blake’s flattery would be irresistible given the recent blows to her self esteem.
Friday and Liam’s daughters are well portrayed, fifteen year old Olivia is a maelstrom of teenage contempt and self absorption, thirteen year old Evie is sweet and desperate for her parents to reunite.
I wasn’t really expecting to be privy to Liam’s side of things and I didn’t really want to sympathise with him but I did, a little, though I never really liked him much. His behaviour is pretty selfish, especially as he expects Friday to wait in limbo while he indulges in his mid life crisis.

I enjoyed It Started with a Kiss, it’s a quick, engaging read about love and relationships told in a way that is both entertaining and thought provoking. I’m still a fan 🙂

 

Available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

SNAG-0001

Also reviewed on Book’d Out

Australian Women Writers Feature: Lisa Heidke

Born in Queensland, Lisa Heidke worked in book and magazine publishing in London and Australia before settling in the northern suburbs of Sydney with husband and three children. An alcohol fueled New Years resolution (and hard work) saw the the release of Lucy Springer Gets Even in 2009 swiftly followed by What Kate Did Next (2010), Claudia’s Big Break (2011) with  Stella Makes Good having been released this month by Allen & Unwin Australia.

In Stella Makes Good, Stella Sparks is on good terms with her ex-husband, Terry, despite the fact he left her for another woman. Stella’s philosophical – the marriage had run its course, they remain friends and the wellbeing of their kids is central to both of them.  Stella’s two closest friends, Carly and Jesse, envy her togetherness and wish they could emulate it. Jesse’s husband, Steve, is a control freak who’s driving her crazy, but she has two small children and can’t see a way out. Carly, meanwhile, suspects her husband is having an affair and isn’t sure what to do about it.  Stella’s life takes a distinctly upward turn when she meets a handsome, apparently single – no ring, anyway – father at her son’s school speech night. For Carly and Jesse, however, the search for happiness and fulfilment proves more elusive…

I enjoyed Stella Makes Good and you can read my review of this contemporary fiction novel posted yesterday here at Book’d Out. Lisa graciously agreed to take part in my 2012 plans to feature Australian women writers with a guest post today and if offering readers (sorry Aust/NZ residents only) the chance to win a signed copy of Stella Makes Good! Read On…

Judging a book by it’s’ cover – do you?

Book covers – ask any author and they’ll either smile and say ‘yeah, great’ or sigh with a ‘been there’ expression while raising their eyebrows knowingly.

Friends often tell me it’s all about ‘the cover and the blurb’ when buying a book.

Probably within seconds of a glancing at a cover, they’ll decide whether they’ll pick up the book and read the back cover blurb or keep on walking until they see a book that’s shouting ‘read me’ the loudest and they’re compelled to pick it up. Most people do that. I used to, too. Probably still do. But…there’s always a but.

As an author, you have very little control over your book’s cover – okay, zero control – unless you’re Bryce Courtney, Nora Roberts or God. But when you’re starting out, you assume, at least, I assumed I’d have some input.

When covers were being considered for Lucy Springer Gets Even, my first book, I was excited. I’d worked long and hard on this manuscript and was finally going to realise my dream – publication. Naturally, Lucy would have a kick-ass cover, sell a trillion copies and I’d feel very pleased with myself.

I got a call from Allen & Unwin. ‘We’re in love with Lucy’s cover and we’re emailing it to you now. Prepare to be stunned.’

Euphoria. And then I got the email.

Oh, I was stunned all right. Gobsmacked. I hated it and cried buckets. Were they trying to sabotage the book before it had even hit the market?

A good cover tells you what the book is about without giving away the whole story.

I didn’t have a problem with the pink background but who the hell was the woman in the ill-fitting purple velour jacket?

This wasn’t my Lucy, the one I’d spent the better part of two and a half years living with. Hello! My Lucy was feisty, fun and pretty (not that she was aware of it, though). And my Lucy was a red head. I didn’t want people having preconceived ideas about her, especially about the Lucy on this proposed cover. But by using a photo, that’s exactly what we were doing – encouraging potential readers to form ideas about my heroine in the blink of an eye.

In my mind, the cover for Lucy Springer was going to be a boppy illustration, along the lines of Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl.

But this one? I knew people would glance at the cover and make a snap decision. ‘I love her’, ‘I hate her’ ‘what the hell’s the story with her gruesome jacket and why is she looking so smug?’ etc and potential customers would be lost in seconds.

After I stopped hyperventilating and my sobs reduced to the odd sniffle, I rang my publisher and politely indicated that I had ‘serious doubts’. But Lucy’s cover was a done deal. I was just the author and had to suck it up.

When Lucy appeared in bookshops, I’ll admit you couldn’t miss her – the pink’s rather eye-catching but I can’t help but think more copies would have sold had the novel had a more aspirational cover.

Which brings me to What Kate did Next, my second novel. I was anxious when A & U told me they’d found the perfect designer and she’d created ‘the perfect cover for Kate.’ I was a little sceptical especially when they told me it was another photo. But when I saw the cover, I danced a very happy jig. I agreed with the decision one hundred percent. Others might hate Kate’s cover, but I was thrilled.

When A & U told me they’d be using the same designer, Ellie Exarchos for Claudia’s Big Break, I couldn’t have been happier. I think the cover captures the mood of the story perfectly. It’s light and fun and screams Santorini!

For my latest release, Stella Makes Good, I was thrilled to know that Ellie would again be designing the cover because I knew what to expect…something gorgeous, aspirational and above all something that would make readers want to pick the book up.

When I saw the cover it was love at first sight! I’m ecstatic (and just a little relieved). It’s divine.

Had I not had the experience I had with Lucy’s cover, I might not have had these feelings for Kate, Claudia and Stella. I would have assumed that publishers get it right every time. It’s their job, right?

I’m lucky. My publishers have hit on a designer who makes my books sing…I’ve been branded and I couldn’t be happier!

These days, I look at book covers in a whole new light. For the record, covers I’m loving at the moment include Dianne Blacklock’s The Secret Ingredient, Liane Moriarty’s The Hypnotist’s Love Story and Christine Stinson’s It Takes a Village. Interestingly, all photos.

Next time when you’re in a bookshop (and please go – they’re rapidly becoming an endangered species) pick up a cover that doesn’t necessarily appeal to you. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Find Lisa Heidke at

Website I Facebook I Twitter I

Lisa Heidke’s books are available to purchase at

Amazon I BookDepsoitory I BoomerangBooks I Booktopia and many other outlets in Australia and overseas

——————————————–

Enter to Win

1 signed print edition of

Stella Makes Good by Lisa Heidke

(Australian/New Zealand Residents Only)

Required To Enter:

Leave a comment

and include your name, email address and state +1

(You do not have to include the email in the comment body as long as you fill in the email field when you comment)

For extra entries:

+1 tweet or facebook this post Use the icons below to make it easier and please provide a link

+1 ‘like’ my review of Stella Makes Good at Book’d Out; Goodreads or Facebook

Total possible entries = 3

Entries close January 28th 2012

Winner drawn via Random.org

Good Luck!

Review: Stella Makes Good by Lisa Heidke

Title: Stella Makes Good

Author: Lisa Heidke

Published:  Jan 2012 Allen & Unwin Australia

Synopsis: Stella Sparks is on good terms with her ex-husband, Terry, despite the fact he left her for another woman. Stella’s philosophical – the marriage had run its course, they remain friends and the wellbeing of their kids is central to both of them.  Stella’s two closest friends, Carly and Jesse, envy her togetherness and wish they could emulate it. Jesse’s husband, Steve, is a control freak who’s driving her crazy, but she has two small children and can’t see a way out. Carly, meanwhile, suspects her husband is having an affair and isn’t sure what to do about it.  Stella’s life takes a distinctly upward turn when she meets a handsome, apparently single – no ring, anyway – father at her son’s school speech night. For Carly and Jesse, however, the search for happiness and fulfilment proves more elusive…

Status: Read from December 24 to 26, 2011  – I Own a Copy {Courtesy Allen & Unwin Australia}

My Thoughts:

In the northern suburbs of Sydney, three friends Stella, Carly and Jesse are having a quiet drink. Stella, amicably separated with two teenagers has her eye on handsome single dad, Doctor Mike, while (married) Carly has had too much to drink and is flirting outrageously with one of Mike’s friends. When Jesse heads home early to relieve the babysitter of her twins because her husband calls to say he is working late, Stella reluctantly follows Carly to a party with Mike and his mates but the women are shocked to discover a swingers haven behind the door of an ordinary suburban house and Jesse’s control freak husband, Steve crawling about on his hands and knees wearing a nappy and little else. Keeping Steve’s secret has surprising and shocking consequences for the three women whose only desire is to ‘make good’.

With heart and humour, Lisa Heidke examines the secrets lurking behind closed doors in suburban Sydney. Her three protagonists Stella, Carly and Jesse are married mothers at different stages in their lives. Though close friends, they have secrets and concerns they keep to themselves that are exposed as their lives take an unpredictable turn. These are characters and issues readers can relate to – the demands of balancing family and work, the breakdown of marriage, empty nest syndrome and a fear of starting over, which Heidke explores in an honest and insightful manner.
Newly separated Stella is surprised to find she is content despite her husband leaving her for a younger woman. Her teenage children aren’t terribly happy with the idea, neither is her ex husband’s mother who comes to stay with Stella after a fall, but Stella is finding the confidence to move on with her life. Despite being in a period of transition Stella’s life is the most stable of the three friends and anchors the story.
As the title character, Stella’s story is told using the first person point of view while Jesse and Carly’s perspective is shared in the third person.
Carly is drinking too much, a stay at home mother, her teenage boys rarely need her anymore, her husband isn’t as attentive as she would like and she is worried he is having an affair. impulsive and anxious, particularly after a few too many drinks, Carly is struggling to redefine her life. I empathise with Carly’s floundering, though my children are still young it was an adjustment to have them all at school finally and no longer being the central figure of their lives. (I didn’t drink though – I started a book blog LOL)
Jesse is a loving mother of nine year old twins but her unhappy marriage to bullying Steve is affecting her so badly that the symptoms of her OCD are worsening. Despite his poor behaviour, Jesse is afraid to leave him until his dirty secret is made public and Jesse makes a tragic mistake. I had a lot of sympathy for Jesse, there are many women who stay in bad marriages for the same reasons as she chooses to, and even though it is frustrating to witness her self denial at times Heidke ensures we understand her motive.
We are also given insight into the story of Jesse and Steven’s relationship from Jesse’s sister, Louisa. Louisa fled Australia to the US shortly after their marriage, thinking she was protecting her sister but her decision proves to be based on a desire to protect herself and ultimately contributes to the harm her sister endures. Personally I didn’t think Louisa was a necessary part of the story, nor that her perspective was required, but she does provide some contrast to the more conventional lives of Stella, Carly and Jesse.

Stella Makes Good is a well written story of friendship, family and finding your way. Examining domestic drama in a way which is both entertaining and thought provoking, I enjoyed reading Stella Makes Good and eagerly await Lisa Heidke’s next novel.

Please stop by Book’d Out tomorrow for your chance to win Stella Makes Good and to learn more about Australian author, Lisa Heidke!

Available to Purchase

@ Amazon I @ Book Depository I @ BoomerangBooks.com.au I @ Booktopia