The Homestead Girls by Fiona McArthur (Reviewed by Hayley Shephard)

I decided to give Fiona McArthur’s new book, The Homestead Girls, a whirl to challenge myself as I’m currently addicted to non-stop, passionate romance and shirtless men. It’s a departure I’m glad I took. I’ve always loved strong female characters who don’t let their predicaments define them.

The Homestead Girls follows five women who come to live at Blue Hills Station on the outskirts of Mica Ridge, a small country town in the middle of a crippling drought with a trustworthy and life-saving Flying Doctor Service. Two of these women, Daphne and Billie, are part of the medical team, treating injured farmers and the town’s residents. When not working hard, Billie looks after her wayward teenage daughter Mia. We also have Soretta, whose grandfather owns Blue Hills Station, and Lorna, an 80 year-old housemate with the energy of a teenager.

These five women rely on each other to push away from issues in their lives. Some issues lie in the field of romance (the men who also serve with the Mica Ridge FDS have a certain presence), while others are more complicated. As a group, they grow stronger, and give each other support and strength.

Lorna’s companionship with Soretta’s grandfather is beautiful; a lovely side story. They make each other laugh and are observed by the others to be in better spirits. It was one of my favourite things about the book.

Even though it is not all romance, it does have a happy ending – one that feels well deserved for all the characters. But if you want to know exactly how it ends, you’ll have to read it yourself!

This certainly won’t be the last Fiona McArthur I read.

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls


The Homestead Girls

by Fiona McArthur

After her teenage daughter Mia falls in with the wrong crowd, Dr Billie Green decides it’s time to leave the city and return home to far western NSW. When an opportunity to pursue her childhood dream of joining the Flying Doctor Service comes along, she jumps at the chance. Flight nurse Daphne Prince – who is thrilled to have another woman join the otherwise male crew – and their handsome new boss, Morgan Blake, instantly make her feel welcome.

Just out of town, drought-stricken grazier Soretta Byrnes has been more…

About the Author

Fiona McArthur has worked as a rural midwife for many years. She is a clinical midwifery educator, mentors midwifery students, and is involved with obstetric emergency education for midwives and doctors from all over Australia. Fiona’s love of writing has seen her sell over two million books in twelve languages. She’s been a midwifery expert for Mother&Baby magazine and is the author of the nonfiction works The Don’t Panic Guide to Birth and Breech Baby: A Guide for Parents. She lives on an often swampy farm in northern New South Wales with her husband, some livestock, and a blue heeler named Reg. She’s constantly taking photographs of sunrise and sunset and loves that researching her books allows her to travel to remote places.

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls

Fiona McArthur, author of The Homestead Girls, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Fiona McArthur

author of The Homestead Girls

Six Sharp Questions

——————————-

1.    Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does this book mean to you?

Five women, a sheep station in drought and the 22-year-old granddaughter’s last ditch measure to keep the farm after her grandad is seriously injured. A flying doctor, a flight nurse, an 80-year-old ex-bush nurse and 16-year-old diva meld into The Homestead Girls and become a family in the harshness of a desolately beautiful landscape.

2.    Time passes. Things change. What would be the best and worst moments you’ve experienced in the past year or so?

We’re talking books and writing here –right?
So the best had to be seeing Red Sand Sunrise up on the shelves and selling well. Crazy fabulous reviews, people telling me that was just how it was, and the fun of getting out there to research in an area I knew too little about.

My worst is nothing compared to some people. I’m just happy to be here.

3.    Do you have a favourite quote or passage you’d be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.

It was raining in Adelaide, they’d called off the cricket, and that was only four hours away. It looked promising all day but the dry electrical storms set everyone’s teeth on edge.

An hour and half across the boarder they had a deluge. None at Blue Hills. The heat increased the pall of anxiety in the homestead and the air palpated with tension.

Soretta chewed her nails as she watched the sky because the house water tank was almost empty. Lachlan had gone into town to order another tank just in case the heavens opened and Klaus had started up the old bulldozer and scraped the empty dam another few feet deeper in case they had a downpour they could capture.

Billie had offered to pay the water carrier to bring a load for the house, but it wasn’t just the house that needed water. Soretta was praying the water table they were using from the bores to keep the stock alive would hold up. Everyone felt it so close to rain that the waiting was torture, made worse by hearing of rain everywhere else. It had passed them by before.

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls

red-sand-sunrise4.    Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life…

I write when everyone else is asleep. So I get up at 4am to write before I get ready for work at 6. Nobody talks to me then. Please don’t talk to me when I’m writing. On writing-at-home days I’m vague, my eyes are constantly flicking from place to place as my brain lives in two worlds. My husband just shakes his head. I guess that would be interesting to live with – or not.

5.   Some writer’s claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it. Would you please describe how the marketplace affects your writing (come on, tell the truth!).

I love writing stories of ordinary women doing extraordinary things. It’s my theme. The upsurge of  interest in rural romance and rural comtempory fiction allowed me to write my medical version of the big books I put off writing. Current marketplace is an incredibly exciting time for someone like me so it influenced me to take a gamble, stop my three small books a year of steady income, and write one big book. Great satisfaction in that.

6.   Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only five books with you. What do you take and why?tomorrow-when-the-war-began

Tomorrow When The War Began. Because I want them to actually read and if they are ill-educated they probably need to be enticed into falling in love with reading. The Tomorrow series started one of my son’s reading.

Harry Potter for the same reason. And Harry was out of his comfort zone and had to make friends.

The Old Man and The Sea – because simple can be incredible.

Pride and Prejudice – because we don’t need that much civilising and other people had to do it harder.

Kings In Grass Castles – because some people did it really tough and we need to honour them. I think of the women in this book.

Fiona, thanks for playing!

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls


The Homestead Girls

by Fiona McArthur

After her teenage daughter Mia falls in with the wrong crowd, Dr Billie Green decides it’s time to leave the city and return home to far western NSW. When an opportunity to pursue her childhood dream of joining the Flying Doctor Service comes along, she jumps at the chance. Flight nurse Daphne Prince – who is thrilled to have another woman join the otherwise male crew – and their handsome new boss, Morgan Blake, instantly make her feel welcome.

Just out of town, drought-stricken grazier Soretta Byrnes has been struggling to make ends meet and in desperation has opened her station house to boarders. Tempted by its faded splendour and beautiful outback setting, Billie, Mia and Daphne decide to move in and the four of them are soon joined by eccentric eighty-year-old Lorna Lamerton.

The unlikely housemates are cautious at first, but soon they are offering each other frank advice and staunch support as they tackle medical emergencies, romantic adventures and the challenges of growing up and getting older. But when one of their lives is threatened, the strong friendship they have forged will face the ultimate test . . .

About the Author

Fiona McArthur has worked as a rural midwife for many years. She is a clinical midwifery educator, mentors midwifery students, and is involved with obstetric emergency education for midwives and doctors from all over Australia. Fiona’s love of writing has seen her sell over two million books in twelve languages. She’s been a midwifery expert for Mother&Baby magazine and is the author of the nonfiction works The Don’t Panic Guide to Birth and Breech Baby: A Guide for Parents. She lives on an often swampy farm in northern New South Wales with her husband, some livestock, and a blue heeler named Reg. She’s constantly taking photographs of sunrise and sunset and loves that researching her books allows her to travel to remote places.

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls

 

From the author of Sex and the City we now have Killing Monica…

Candace Bushnell’s newest book is sure to be a killer but while you sit back and enjoy Killing Monica wouldn’t you love to do so with new Lovisa-Sunglasses, David Jones-Lindt Chocolate, a Myer-Daisy Chain Robe, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, a Dermalogica Face Maskn, a Pantene Hair Masque and a Myer-Mecca Makeup $100 Gift Card!

For you chance to win all this just pre-order Killing Monica by July 10th and you could win a Pamper Hamper, worth $272! *Terms and Conditions apply.

9781408703175_Candace_Bushnell_rotating_hompeage_banner

isbn9781408703175Killing Monica

By Candace Bushnell

The new from Candace Bushnell, full of her trademark wit and style

In Killing Monica Bushnell spoofs and skewers her way through pop culture, celebrity worship, fame and even the meaning of life itself, when a famous writer must resort to faking her own death in order to get her life back from her most infamous creation – Monica. With her trademark humour and style, Killing Monica is Bushnell’s sharpest, funniest book to date.

This is Bushnell at her best – full of mordant wit, casual sex and highly conspicuous consumption.

Grab your copy of Killing Monica here


We’ve got so much more up for grabs, not to mention limited edition signed copies and 2 for 1 offers!
Head to our Promotions and Competitions page!

promotions

How to Be Both by Ali Smith wins the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction

Ali Smith has won the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction for her incredible novel How To Be Both.

imageSmith was also one of the favourites to take out the Man Booker Prize, pipped at the post by Australia’s Richard Flanagan.

The novel tells the stories of two characters: a contemporary British teen and an Italian Renaissance artist. It was published in two versions, half of the copies beginning with the contemporary story and half with the Renaissance story.

How to Be Both was joined on the shortlist for the award by Rachel Cusk’s Outline, Laline Paull’s The Bees, Kamila Shamsie’s A God in Every Stone, Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread and Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests.

Grab your copy of How to Be Both here

image

How to Be Both

by Ali Smith

Passionate, compassionate, vitally inventive and scrupulously playful, Ali Smith’s novels are like nothing else.

How to be Both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s.

Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.

Grab your copy of How to Be Both here

Drum roll…. the winner of our Avengers pack is…

Because of the awesomeness that is The Avengers: Age of Ultron, we decided to give away an Avengers pack. All you had to do to enter was buy one of our select Avengers titles by May 31st.


avengersAvengers: Rage of Ultron

by Rick Remender, Jerome Opena (Illustrator)

It was another glorious victory for the Mighty Avengers. Good triumphed over evil and Ultron was shot into space, never to be seen again. Or so they thought. Now, years later, the homicidal artificial intelligence – so long devoted to ending life on Earth – has a new world to conquer…one with its own horrific legacy.

When Titan, birthplace of Thanos, falls, Planet Ultron rises in its place! Thanos’ brother Starfox must seek the aid of his former allies – but the Avengers he finds are image1radically different from the ones he once knew.

Among them is Ultron’s creator Giant-Man – and when Hank Pym confronts his now planet-sized “son,” the responsibilities of fatherhood have never loomed so large. Rick Remender (Uncanny Avengers) and Jerome Opena (Avengers) unleash the full robotic rage of Ultron on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

 

…and the winner is:

C.Bull, Lesmurdie, WA

Check out our Marvel Avengers: The Age of Ultron series here


Congratulations to the winner!

Missed out on the prize? Hey, turn that frown upside up, we’ve got so much more up for grabs, not to mention limited editions signed copies and 2 for 1 offers!

Head to our Promotions and Competitions page!

promotions

 

Lisa Joy, author of Yes, Chef!, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Lisa Joy

author of Yes, Chef! 

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Born in Sydney, I spent a good deal of my childhood at dance class. At 21, deciding I wasn’t cut out for the famished life of a ballerina, I moved to London where I lived for seven years and worked in the restaurant industry, in fashion retail and as the production assistant for the British TV series Midsomer Murders. I started writing short stories in high school but didn’t consider a career as a novelist until I moved to Melbourne six years ago.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

A ballerina, an actor and then a writer. I guess I’ve always been a dreamer. My imagination made childhood games more interesting and adult disappointments easier to deal with.

Author Lisa Joy

Author: Lisa Joy

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Having a dream unrealised was better than having a dream that failed. I was basically too scared to put my writing out there for a long time and found it hard even to show friends my work. Now I know the only way to grow and become better is to try and keep trying.

4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

I saw Van Gogh’s Bridge in the Rain at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and was captivated. I began reading all I could about Japan and hope to one day spend time there and write a travel and food diary.

I found Joanne Harris’s foodie novels, Chocolat and Five Quarters of the Orange very inspiring. Her writing is laced with delicious foodie descriptions. It’s how I hope my writing will be some day with practise.

Salman Rushdie introduced me to magical realism with Midnight’s Children. Reading his novels makes me want to be a better writer and I can imagine myself writing something that combines food, friendship and love in a magical way.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel? 

I love the escapism that novels and creative non-fiction provide. I enjoy learning something new about a people, place or time and fiction can provide that in an entertaining and emotional way. Novels and memoir are what I read most and I hope to write both one day.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Yes, Chef! is set in the world of high-end restaurants and celebrity chefs. It’s told through the eyes of the PA to London’s most notorious chef, a smart and sassy woman who is approaching thirty and trying to figure out what she really wants from life while getting carried away in a wirlwind of reality cooking shows, opening nights and kitchen scandals.

Grab a copy of Lisa’s new book Yes, Chef! here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

An authentic insight into the foodie world from someone who’s been there and lived it. I’ve worked in a number of different roles and establishments in the restaurant industry including being PA to a well-known Melbourne chef. I think readers will want to call up their best friends after reading Yes, Chef! and head out for a nice meal and a bottle of prosecco. Either that or they’ll want to take a foodie trip to Italy or Istanbul as my heroine, Becca Stone, does.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?midnight-s-children-vintage-classics

There are many fiction writers I admire greatly – Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Joanne Harris, Kate Morton, but having met Fiona McIntosh I must say I admire her enthusiasm, energy and tenacity. I attended her fiction masterclass as a fantasy writer and emerged with the beginnings of a women’s fiction book. One year later Yes, Chef! was picked up by Penguin. I really admire the time and energy Fiona spends helping new authors realise their potential and their dreams.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

As a new author I’m well aware my best work is yet to come but I learn something with every experience and have made my number one goal to keep improving with every book. Of course, my imagination runs away with itself sometimes, dreaming of film adaptations, but I try not to get too carried away with this and just keep writing.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Don’t listen to too much advice. Find a mentor that you trust, someone who’s had proven success in the genre you write in and then keep referring back to their advice. Above all, write because you love it, because it makes you happy and keeps you sane, not because you think it will make you a lot of money or because you think becoming published will make you feel fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful thing to see your dreams realised, but you shouldn’t place so much pressure on yourself to achieve the reward that you fail to enjoy the process.

Lisa, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Yes,Chef! here


Yes, Chef!

by Lisa Joy

Sassy foodie Becca Stone is over her job taking reservations for one of London’s most successful restaurant empires. So when she is unexpectedly catapulted into working as PA to celebrity chef Damien Malone, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime.

Becca is quickly caught up in an exciting whirlwind of travel, reality TV and opening nights, and even her usually abysmal love-life takes a turn for the better. But as Becca is slowly consumed by the chaos of life in the spotlight, she begins to lose touch with her friends, her heart and even with reality. Working with Damien has its challenges and she is soon struggling with his increasingly outrageous demands and sleazy advances, all while managing the ridiculous requests of his self-centred wife. It takes a disastrous trip to Italy for Becca to realise that she may have thrown away exactly what she’s been looking for all along.

Inspired by Lisa Joy’s real-life adventures, this deliciously funny and romantic story is a tantalising llok at the trendy restaurant scene: a world where chefs are treated like rock stars, and cooking isn’t all that goes on in the kitchen.

About the Author

Lisa Joy began writing stories in her teenage years, but decided she needed to get her heart broken and live in another country before pursuing a career as a novelist. Born in Sydney, she spent most of her childhood wearing pink tights and leotards at ballet class.

At age 21, deciding she wasn’t cut out for the famished life of a ballerina, she left her safe and somewhat predictable existence behind and travelled to London, where she worked as a television producer’s PA, in fashion retail and the restaurant business. Having fallen head over heels in love with London, travelling Europe, eating amazing food and the occasional stint on stage and screen, Lisa stayed put for about 7 years, until finally, family called and she returned to Australia to work as PA to a well known Melbourne chef.

Her writing took a dramatic turn for the better after she attended a commercial fiction masterclass with author Fiona McIntosh. She now lives in the picturesque Dandenong Ranges outside Melbourne on a small acreage farm with her husband and four chooks where in addition to writing novels, she grows vegetables, berries and herbs to supply to some of Melbourne’s best restaurants.

 Grab a copy of Yes,Chef! here

Georgia Madden, author of Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Georgia Madden

author of Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Here, there and everywhere! I was born on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, but moved to Hong Kong with my family when I was five and lived there until 18. I came back to Australia for university, and moved to London a few weeks after graduating. I lived there for 12 crazy, glamorous, fun-filled years, working in PR and magazines, before returning to Sydney with my family 10 years ago.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At 12, I had dreams of a being an actress, but one disastrous and very embarrassing audition in front of my entire year at school put an end to that. At 18, I had visions of becoming a very serious political journalist, reporting for a Hong Kong newspaper on what was happening across the border in China. I still have no idea why. At 30 I was quite partial to the idea of becoming an editor of a magazine. But always, always, in the back of my mind was the dream of writing fiction. I just never really believed it was possible.

Georgie-Madden

Author: Georgia Madden

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That in order to pursue the things you really want, everything in your life has to be just so. But life doesn’t work like that; if you’re waiting for all your stars to line up perfectly, you’ll be waiting forever. I’ve found that it’s better – and braver – to just jump right in and get the ball rolling, whether you’re ready or not. Fake it till you make it!

4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

As a child, anything by Enid Blyton. Her stories swept me away, and they still do today when I read them to my kids. The song Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds. I’m a true child of the 80s, and whenever I hear that song on the radio my mind starts bristling with ideas – always romantic in a tragically teenage kind of way. The beautiful aria in that scene in A Room With A View where George kisses Lucy. I’m not sure whether it was the music or the poppies, but it stayed with me for years.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel? 

I’m not really sure I ever really had a choice! Despite all the twists and turns I took in my career (a used car parts auctioneer in a grotty part of east London at one point) the idea of writing was always there in the background, a steady hum I couldn’t switch off.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum follows new mum Ally Bloom, a dedicated fashionista with a very clear vision of the yummy mummy she’s meant to be – a glamorous Angelina Jolie-type, wafting along red carpets, with her latest accessory, baby Coco, tucked up under her wing. Then reality hits – her marriage is in crisis, her mother-in-law-turns up unannounced for an open-ended stay, the dishwasher won’t stop making that weird banging sound, and she’s pushed aside at work by a 22-year old airhead. Ally suddenly finds herself thrust into her own version of hell – life on the suburban SAHM circuit. Here, she begins to ask life’s bigger questions on motherhood, identity, friendship and whether it’s socially acceptable to leave the house in Havaianas after 7pm.

Grab a copy of Georgia’s new book Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I would love to think that after getting through one of those nightmarish days with the kids, where every single thing has gone wrong, they can curl up with Confessions and it puts a smile on their face, maybe even makes them laugh. See? There’s a little bit of paying it forward, right there.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

I tend to develop crushes on whoever I’m reading at the time. Most recently it’s been Hannah Kent, Elizabeth Gilbert and Rainbow Rowell. I’ve just finished ‘Dietland’ by Sarai Walker – a sort of gutsy feminist manifesto that sends an arrow straight at the heart of the diet industry. I think I’m in love.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To be able to support myself and my family doing what I love. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

We’ve all done it – picked up a book and been blown away by the scale of the story, the beauty of the prose. It’s enough to make you want to give up on the idea of writing before you’ve even begun. But I can’t imagine that anyone’s work resembles the finished product in its early stages. To me, writing a book is a bit like making one of those multi-layered French desserts; it’s a long and time-consuming process of building from the ground up, layer by layer. So my advice is, don’t waste precious time trying to perfect that opening paragraph. Get the bones of your story down – as fast as your fingers can type them – before you even think about trying to turn it into a masterpiece.

Georgia, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum here


Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum

by Georgia Madden

Successful hubbie? Tick. Facebook-worthy baby? Tick. Bikini-body six weeks after giving birth? Um . . . not so much.

Fashion PR exec Ally Bloom got her happy ending. Okay, her marriage might be showing the odd crack, her battleaxe mother-in-law might have come to stay, and she might not be the yummy mummy she’d imagined, but it’s nothing a decent night’s sleep and a firm commitment to a no-carb diet won’t fix.

But when Ally returns to work and finds she’ll be reporting to a 22-year-old airhead, she decides to turn her back on life as a professional fashionista and embrace her inner earth mama instead. So it’s out with the Louboutins and champagne and in with the sensible flats and coffee mornings with the Mummy Mafia.

From attending her first grown-up dinner party only to discover that placenta is top of the menu to controlling her monster crush on local playgroup hottie Cameron, Ally must find her feet in the brave new world of the stay-at-home mum.

About the Author

Georgia Madden began her career in journalism at Homes & Gardens magazine in London, before returning to Sydney with her young family to work as a freelance writer. She writes for House & Garden, Inside Out and Home Beautiful, as well as a number of interiors websites. She lives in Sydney with her family. Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum is her first novel.

Grab a copy of Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum here

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