GUEST BLOG: What I’ve been reading by Fleur McDonald; author of Emerald Springs

Fleur McDonald is one of Australia’s leading female rural lit authors, with her books becoming best sellers almost as quickly as they hit the shelves. She shares the books she’s been reading, in the lead up to April release of her new novel Emerald Springs.


9780522866483The Dangerous Bride by Lee Kofman

I heard Lee Kofman interviewed on Richard Fidler’s Conversations and was immediately intrigued.

Lee, to put it mildly was a rebel. She rejected any type of conformist traditions when it came to love and sex. To be frank, she didn’t believe in monogamy. After her first open marriage broke down, overseas, she decided she wanted a move and try again. Over the months and years in Australia, she talked to swingers, polamorists, cross dressers, suburban families and everyone who had basically been in an unconventional relationship. This led her on a journey of self discovery and an exploration of our own desire for security and need to be loved. The Dangerous Bride also touches on Lee’s experiences as a migrant.

The outcome of this book, surprised me more than a little!

Grab a copy of A Dangerous Bride here


milat-inside-australia-s-biggest-manhuntMilat by Clive Small, Tom Gilling

Once again, I heard of this book through Richard Fidler and his ABC Radio program, Conversations.

I can remember following the Backpack Murders as a late teenager through to my early twenties. As much as they were frightening, I had a morbid fascination with the case, watching all TV reports and reading everything I could on it.

And that’s still the case today.

Milat is written by the lead detective, Clive Small. He takes us through the case, step by step, through the evidence and how they put Milat into jail.

It’s a tough read, in parts, but one that is confronting and interesting at the same time.

Grab a copy of Milat here


the-maxwell-sistersThe Maxwell Sisters by Loretta Hill

I have always loved Loretta Hill’s writing. She’s funny, quirky and I know that I’m going to love her books from the minute I open the pages.

The Maxwell Sisters is a departure from her previous three novels, which were all based on mining sites. This one is set in the Margaret River area (in WA and one of my favourite places in the whole world. Especially with the wineries that are there!)

I would liken The Maxwell Sisters to a novel by Monica McInerney. There are complex relationships, family dramas and at the heart, three sisters who love each, even though they are at war.

Grab a copy of The Maxwell Sisters here


evergreen-fallsEvergreen Falls by Kimberly Freeman

Kimberly Freeman is one of my all time favourite writers and Evergreen Falls is no exception.

With it’s parallel story lines – one set in 1926 and the other in 2014, it is a rich and beautiful tale of two different women and secrets. Kimberley weaves an intricate storyline linking the two time frames, all through one place… Evergreen Spa Hotel. Interestingly enough this story is inspired by elements of Kimberley’s grandmother’s life. I haven’t finished it yet, but am chafing at the bit to get back to it!

Grab a copy of Evergreen Falls here


Fleur McDonald sml2_ Credit Chelsea from Proof of Life.jpgAbout Fleur McDonald

Fleur McDonald has also been touted as one of Australia’s favourite storytellers. Her stories are set in rural Australia and feature strong female characters and solid, no nonsense, countrymen. Fleur’s characters are inspired by the tough, complex and genuine people she’s met during a lifetime living in remote Australia.

With sales well over 130,000 copies she is one of the highest-selling authors in Australia’s ever-popular rural romance genre.

Fleur is the author of the bestselling novels Red Dust, Crimson DawnSilver Clouds, Blue Skies and Purple Roads.

9781743315323Emerald Springs

by Fleur McDonald

When suspicions are wrongly aimed at Amelia following the theft of proceeds from the local rodeo after a crash and grab, she must work with a skeptical rural detective to clear her name – and that of the man she loves. Mystery and romance abound in the new novel from the bestselling author of Crimson Dawn.

After finishing university, Amelia Bennett returns to Jervois and promptly falls in love with the wonderful – if broke and slightly stubborn – Paul Barnes. Now she’s determined to lose her old reputation for being scatty and unreliable by proving herself as the treasurer of the local rodeo committee and making the forthcoming rodeo a huge success.

Flushed with triumph on the evening of the best rodeo in the town’s history, Amelia is driving the record proceeds into town when she becomes the victim of a terrifying crash and grab. Injured and distraught after her ordeal, she’s even more devastated when she later finds out that she and Paul are the objects of gossip and suspicion in town.

To prove her innocence and that of the man she loves, Amelia must convince a sceptical rural detective that her account of what happened does add up and that he must help her track down the real culprits…

With its cracker plot, feisty heroine and engaging love story, Emerald Springs will have you reading well into the night.

Grab a copy of Emerald Springs here

2014 Aurealis Awards Shortlists announced!

AA-logoSome familiar names were joined by some exciting new talents in the announcement of the shortlists for the 2014 Aurealis Awards, recognising the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers.

Winners of the 2014 Aurealis Awards and the Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony, on Saturday 11 April at the University House, Canberra.

How many have you read?


BEST FANTASY NOVELfireborn

Fireborn by Keri Arthur

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

The Lascar’s Dagger by Glenda Larke

Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfelds

Daughters of the Storm by Kim Wilkins


BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVELthis-shattered-world

Aurora: Meridian by Amanda Bridgeman

Nil by Mouth by LynC

The White List by Nina D’Aleo

Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Foresight by Graham Storrs


BEST HORROR NOVELrazorhurst

Book of the Dead by Greig Beck

Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier

Obsidian by Alan Baxter


BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVELafterworld

The Astrologer’s Daughter by Rebecca Lim

Afterworld by Lynnette Lounsbury

The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty

Clariel by Garth Nix

The Haunting of Lily Frost by Nova Weetman

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfelds


BEST CHILDREN’S FICTIONslaves-of-socorro

Slaves of Socorro: Brotherband #4 by John Flanagan

Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy by Karen Foxlee

The Last Viking Returns by Norman Jorgensen and James Foley

Withering-by-Sea by Judith Rossell

Sunker’s Deep: The Hidden #2 by Lian Tanner

Shadow Sister: Dragon Keeper #5 by Carole Wilkinson


BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL/ILLUSTRATED WORKawkwood

Left Hand Path #1 by Jason Franks & Paul Abstruse

Awkwood by Jase Harper

“A Small Wild Magic” by Kathleen Jennings

Mr Unpronounceable and the Sect of the Bleeding Eye by Tim Molloy

The Game by Shane W Smith

The winner of a print signed by Philippa Nikulinsky is…

FirewoodBanksiaComp_PromoBanner_Med
To help celebrate January, our month of Australian Stories, we had a print signed by Philippa Nikulinsky, the author of Firewood Banksia, to give away.

All you had to do to win this beautiful print,  worth $220, was buy a copy of his beautiful book Firewood Banksia

…and the winner is:

R.Knight,Terang, VIC


Congratulations to the winner!
Not a winner? Don’t worry, we have plenty more prizes to giveaway! Check them out here.

 

New Sherlock Holmes story discovered, written by Arthur Conan Doyle

sherlock-holmesHistorian Walter Elliot has unearthed the first unseen Sherlock Holmes story in more than 80 years that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote to help save a town bridge.

The 1,300-word tale starring the famous detective was found in a collection of short stories written for a local bazaar.

The story is entitled Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar.

It is believed the story – about Holmes deducing Watson is going on a trip to Selkirk – is the first unseen Holmes story by Doyle since the last was published over 80 years ago.

Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle

Mr Elliot said ‘In Selkirk, there was a wooden bridge that was put up some time before it was flooded in 1902.’

‘The town didn’t have the money to replace it so they decided to have a bazaar to replace the bridge in 1904. They had various people to come and do things and just about everyone in the town did something.

‘The Saturday was opened by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He had written a wee story about Sherlock Holmes and Watson and this was in the book.

‘He really must have thought enough of the town to come down and take part and contribute a story to the book. It’s a great little story.’

Grab a copy of The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes here

 

The Writer’s Gospel according to Matt Haig

reasons-to-stay-aliveReasons to Stay Alive

by Matt Haig

‘I want life. I want to read it and write it and feel it and live it. I want, for as much of the time as possible in this blink-of-an-eye existence we have, to feel all that can be felt. I hate depression. I am scared of it. Terrified, in fact. But at the same time, it has made me who I am. And if – for me – it is the price of feeling life, it’s a price always worth paying’..

Reasons to Stay Alive is about making the most of your time on earth. In the western world the suicide rate is highest amongst men under the age of 35. Matt Haig could have added to that statistic when, aged 24, he found himself staring at a cliff-edge about to jump off.

This is the story of why he didn’t, how he recovered and learned to live with anxiety and depression. It’s also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how to live better, love better, read better and feel more.

Grab a copy of Reasons to Stay Alive here

Stephen King recommends…

In case you haven’t been following, we’re kind of obsessed with Stephen King’s twitter feed. It’s a treasure trove of crazy genius.

You can find tweets in the third person where he refers to himself as ‘Honey Badger’.

And some magnificent dad jokes.

But most of all, we love it for his musings on books.

Here’s a look at some of his latest, including praise for Australia’s own Liane Moriarty!

Click here for more from Ruth Rendell

Click here for more from The Girl on the Train

Click here for more from Liane Moriarty

Click here for more from Carsten Stroud

GUEST BLOG: Bestselling author Rachael Johns lists her Top Ten Romance Books

We’re so lucky to be able to host guest blogs from some of Australia’s Favourite Authors, and with the dust settling on Valentine’s Day, we’ve got a special treat for Romance lovers. A guest blog from romance bestseller Rachael Johns!

Rachael unveils her Top Ten Romance Books of All-Time. Did your favourites make the cut?


Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

bridget-jones-s-diaryThis book was the first book I read and enjoyed after a long drought in high school. It reignited my passion for reading and partly inspired me to write my own book.

Blurb: In the course of the year recorded in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget confides her hopes, her dreams, and her monstrously fluctuating poundage, not to mention her consumption of 5277 cigarettes and Fat units 3457 (approx.) (hideous in every way). In 365 days, she gains 74 pounds. On the other hand, she loses 72! There is also the unspoken New Year’s resolution–the quest for the right man. A dazzling urban satire of modern human relations? An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family? Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something?

Celebrating 40 years of outstanding international writing, this is one of the essential Picador novels reissued in a beautiful new series style.

Grab a copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary here


Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

wallbangerIt was one of my fave reads of 2013, I laughed out loud in so many places but I also loved the way the author portrays the development of the friendship and romance.

Burb: The first night after Caroline moves into her fantastic new San Francisco apartment, she realizes she’s gaining an—um—intimate knowledge of her new neighbor’s nocturnal adventures. Thanks to paper-thin walls and the guy’s athletic prowess, she can hear not just his bed banging against the wall but the ecstatic response of what seems (as loud night after loud night goes by) like an endless parade of women. And since Caroline is currently on a self-imposed “dating hiatus,” and her neighbor is clearly lethally attractive to women, she finds her fantasies keep her awake even longer than the noise …

Grab a copy of Wallbanger here


Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein

heart-of-the-valleySuch a heart-wrenching story that had me teary early on. This is a hard feat. I rarely cry in books!

Blurb: Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled – some might even say stubborn – and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ – showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.

Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won’t go without a fight.

What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself – a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own …

Grab a copy of Heart of the Valley here


Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

northern-lightsThis was my first ever Nora Roberts novel and since then I’ve read loads more. She is not known as the Queen of Romance for nothing and I love the way she crafts characters.

Blurb: Lunacy, Alaska – population 506 – is Nate Burke’s last chance. As a Baltimore cop, he had watched his partner die – and the guilt still haunts him. Maybe serving as Chief of Police in this tiny, remote town, where darkness falls by mid-afternoon and temperatures fall to below zero, will bring some kind of solace. It isn’t as if he has anywhere else to go Aside from sorting out a run-in between a couple of motor vehicles and a moose and pulling apart two brothers fighting overJohn Wayne’s best movie Nate’s first weeks on the job are relatively quiet …

Grab a copy of Northern Lights here


The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella by Liz Fielding

the-secret-life-of-lady-gabriellaThis book broadened my thinking about what a Mills & Boon book was and I gobbled it up in one sitting.

Blurb: Lady Gabriella March is the perfect domestic goddess at least, that’s what her editor at Milady magazine thinks. In truth she’s simply Ellie March, cleaner and aspiring writer, who uses the beautiful mansion she is housesitting to inspire her.

When the owner returns unexpectedly, Ellie’s fledgling writing career is threatened. But even more dangerous is the man himself! Gorgeous Dr Benedict Faulkner is quite the opposite of the aging academic she imagined, and soon it is her heart, and not just her secret, that is exposed.

 Grab a copy of The Secret Life of Lady Gabriella here


the-ultimate-heroThe Magnate’s Indecent Proposal by Ally Blake

Another favourite Mills & Boon of mine. I loved the cute premise of this book and the rest of the book lived up to it.

Blurb: After her third nuisance call of the morning, Chelsea finally twigged. She must have accidentally swapped mobile phones with someone in the cafe that morning! To her pleasant surprise, the owner was darkly handsome and seriously sexy Damien ‘Rich-list’ Halliburton. Chelsea had sworn off men long ago, and hadn’t since been tempted. But with a guy this gorgeous how could she refuse his wicked, seductive and very indecent proposal?

Grab a copy of The Magnate’s Indecent Proposal here


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

pride-and-prejudiceWhat can I say? Jane Austen is a master of romance and Mr Darcy is swoon-worthy!

Blurb: When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships,gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.

Grab a copy of Pride and Prejudice here


Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins

too-good-to-be-trueMy first Higgins book and definitely not my last. I adore Kristan’s writing and the embarrassing situations she throws her heroines into.

Blurb: When Grace Emerson’s ex-fiance starts dating her younger sister, extreme measures are called for. To keep everyone from obsessing about her love life, Grace announces that she’s seeing someone… Someone wonderful. Someone handsome. Someone completely made up.

Who is this Mr Right? Someone…exactly unlike her renegade neighbour Callahan O’Shea. Well, someone with his looks, maybe. His hot body. His knife-sharp sense of humour. His smarts and his big heart. Whoa. No. Callahan O’Shea is not her perfect man! Not with his unsavoury past. So why does Mr Wrong feel so…right?

Grab a copy of Too Good To Be True here


Faking It by Jennifer Crusie

faking-itThe love scene from this book stands out as being one of my fave love scenes of all times. The sex wasn’t clichéd at all, in fact it was almost too real but somehow it worked and taught me a lot about what makes a believable and affective sex scene.

Blurb: Meet the Goodnights, a respectable family who run a respectable art gallery—and have for generations. There’s Gwen, the matriarch, who likes to escape reality; Eve, the oldest daughter, who has a slight identity problem (she has two); Nadine, the granddaughter, who’s ready to follow in the family footsteps as soon as she can find a set that isn’t leading off a cliff. And last, Matilda, the youngest daughter, who has inherited the secret locked down in the basement of the Goodnight Gallery, a secret she’s willing to do almost anything to keep, even break into a house in the dead of night to steal back her past …


The Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie

the-perfect-rakeThis was my first Anne Gracie and my first historical with actual sex in it. Until that moment, I didn’t know such fabulous love scenes were allowed in historical books. I love all of Anne’s characters, but her hero in this book is to-die-for.

Blurb: She ran from a brute…
Fleeing the harsh guardianship of her grandfather, Prudence Merridew escapes with her beautiful younger sisters to London. One of them must marry—and fast. To act as her sisters’ chaperone, Prudence invents a secret engagement to a reclusive duke… But when the duke arrives unexpectedly in London, she needs his help to avert disaster…

Grab a copy of The Perfect Rake here


About Rachael Johns

rachael johnsRachael Johns is an English teacher by trade, a supermarket owner by day, a mum 24/7, and a writer by night. She lives in rural Western Australia with her hyperactive husband and three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training.

At 17 she began writing, enlightened by the thought that she could create whatever ending she liked, and almost a decade later, after many, many attempts at writing different types of novels, she joined the Romance Writers of Australia association.

It was there that Rachael learnt there was more to writing a book than just typing out random thoughts. She learnt about the craft, conflict, consistent characters, etc, and also discovered that she LOVED contemporary romance.

The Road to Hopethe-road-to-hope
by Rachael Johns

Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town.

Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment.

When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else – their friends and patients – can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves?

Pre-order a copy of The Road to Hope here

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