What Cathryn Read – Bestselling author Cathryn Hein on her recent reading

Australian novelist Cathryn Hein, author of The French Prize, Heartland and much more gives her verdict on the books she’s been reading.

January was the month I discovered Australian author Bec McMaster’s wonderful steampunk series. But I also enjoyed a sweet rural romance, a super-steamy novella and a lovely creepy tale.


Kiss of Steel / Heart of Iron

by Bec McMaster

Oh, this series is FUN! I adore Victorian era-set books and the whole idea of steam and clockpunk, but this series has vampires and werewolves woven through for extra paranormal spice. Plotting is clever and the world building great. I can picture vividly McMaster’s re-imagined Whitechapel, and the elevated world of London’s Blue Blood elite. The heroes are tough and sexy, the heroines more than a match, and the romances passionate. Expect lots of twists and turns before the hero and heroine reach their happily-ever-after. Brilliant escapist reads.

Grab a copy of Kiss of Steel & Heart of Iron


Moonlight Plains

by Barbara Hannay

This was a lovely sweet romance set mostly in north Queensland around Charters Towers and Townsville. I happened to be in Townsville when I started reading this and found the historical parts of the story particularly interesting. Moonlight Plains swings between 1942, when the Japanese were heading dangerously toward Australia and our north was populated with Allied troops, and contemporary times. The characters’ stories from both eras are entwined via Moonlight Plains, the homestead of which the contemporary hero, the very sexy Luke, is renovating. Family secrets, romance and more. Gorgeous stuff.

The book is the final in Hannay’s loosely related series that began with her best-selling Zoe’s Muster and continued with Home Before Sundown.

 Grab a copy of Moonlight Plains here


Secret Confessions – Sydney Housewives: Christa

by Keziah Hill

This was a fast and seriously steamy read that I enjoyed hugely. Secret Confessions – Sydney Housewives is a series of short novellas written by some of Australia’s best romance authors. Each story features a wealthy and self-assured Sydney woman whose secret personal life involves some rather sexy adventures. Christa – a formidable raiser of funds for charity – has a unique way of getting Sydney’s elite to part with their money. A touch of voyeurism and a scorching threesome: turn the air-con to high and prepare to get hot!


Forever Odd

by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas, the first in this popular and quirky supernatural thriller series, was one of those books that made me smile and sniffle and want to lie on the couch with every other book in the series.

I can’t give too much away about Forever Odd because I wouldn’t want to spoil the twist of the first book for anyone, but in this we follow our dead-person-seeing short-order cook hero Odd on another of his paranormal adventures. After being visited by the ghost of his friend Dr Jessop, Odd heads to the Jessop house to investigate. There, he finds not only a murder scene but the realisation his fragile friend Danny has been kidnapped. Determined to find him, the ensuing battle of wits between Odd and his cunning and evil enemy makes for a compelling and exciting read. Next please!

Grab a copy of Forever Odd here


Hein, CathrynThanks Cathryn Hein, we look forward to seeing what you have read next month!

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write. Her short fiction has been recognised in numerous contests, and published in Woman’s Day.

Now living in Melbourne, Cathryn writes full-time.

Click here to see Cathryn’s author page

The French Prize

by Cathryn Hein

An ancient riddle, a broken vow – a modern-day quest for a medieval treasure.

Australian-born Dr. Olivia Walker is an Oxford academic with a reputation as one of the world’s leading Crusade historians and she’s risked everything on finding one of the most famous swords in history – Durendal. Shrouded in myth and mystery, the sword is fabled to have belonged to the warrior Roland, a champion of Charlemagne’s court, and Olivia is determined to prove to her detractors that the legend is real. Her dream is almost within reach when she discovers the long-lost key to its location in Provence, but her benefactor – Raimund Blancard – has other ideas.

For more than a millennium, the Blancard family have protected the sword. When his brother is tortured and killed by a man who believes he is Roland’s rightful heir, Raimund vows to end the bloodshed forever. He will find Durendal and destroy it, but to do that he needs Olivia’s help.

Now Olivia is torn between finding the treasure for which she has hunted all her life and helping the man she has fallen in love with destroy her dream. And all the while, Raimund’s murderous nemesis is on their trail, and he will stop at nothing to claim his birthright.

Grab a copy of The French Prize here

Absolutely Fabulous News!

We’ve all heard the news and now we are SO excited!

Aren’t we?

Well, if you haven’t already heard there may be an Absolutely Fabulous film released this year!

ab_fab_-thumb-300x418I have loved this show for so long, I can’t even remember when I started watching it. My mother always hated it but my grandfather adored it, he saw things my way. I think what we both loved about Absolutely Fabulous was how over-the-top and funny it was, yet it was still a sharp commentary on what happens when you hate the life you’re stuck with and will do anything to make it, well, Absolutely Fabulous!

Who doesn’t love a mother trying to hold onto her youth by trying every single diet ever mentioned, wearing ill-fitting clothes by the hippest designers out there, constantly re-decorating her apartment and trying anything new that comes her way! Let’s be honest, you are only as young as you feel, so I applaud you Eddy!

As for Eddy’s daughter, Saffy, who has to look after her own mother and try as she might to make sure Eddy doesn’t get too carried away, I can relate. Sometimes I feel like the parent when I’m dealing with my mother’s life.

Oh, I must mention Patsy. Eddy’s best friend (at times) who encourages Eddy through all her antics because she herself wants to live and love life forever but can’t do it by herself!

Let’s hope the movie doesn’t disappoint!


Now let’s get down to some of the biggest romance books coming out in 2015. We think they are going to be Absolutely Fabulous, and we think Patsy and Eddy would feel the same way.

hard-to-come-byHard to Come By
by Laura Kaye

Caught between desire and loyalty…

Derek DiMarzio would do anything for the members of his disgraced Special Forces team–sacrifice his body, help a former teammate with a covert operation to restore their honor, and even go behind enemy lines. He just never expected to want the more ….

 Grab a copy of Hard to Come By here


quarterback-drawQuarterback Draw
Play-By-Play Series : Book 9
by Jaci Burton

Grant Cassidy knows how to be a football star – Flash that dazzling smile, throw the winning pass, get the girl. But while the hot quarterback loves the game and the lifestyle, no woman has come close to catching his heart. Then he matches wits with a smart, gorgeous model, and Grant finds himself wanting more than a fling. Supermodel Katrina Koslova might live in a world of glitz and camera flashes, but she works hard to provide more…

Grab a copy of Quarterback Draw here


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 more…

Grab a copy of The Road to Hope here


the-secrets-of-sir-richard-kenworthyThe Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy
by Julia Quinn

Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can’t be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family’s infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She’s the type of girl you don’t notice until the second-or third-look, but there’s something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she’s more…

Grab a copy of The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy here


cartelCartel
Cartel Trilogy : Book 1
by Lili St. Germain

How much is a life worth?

I grew up in Colombia, the daughter of a wealthy drug lord. I lived a life of extravagance, until one day a drug run went horribly wrong and everything came crashing down around us.

I was given away. A payment for a debt. The Gypsy Brothers Motorcycle Club became my new owners, and I did everything I could to survive.

But falling in love with more…

Grab a copy of Cartel here


Match Pointematch-pointe
by Indigo Bloome

The sizzling new erotic romance from the internationally bestselling author of Destined to Play.

Eloise Lawrance, a beautiful and dedicated ballerina, is on the cusp of achieving her dreams when her career is abruptly left in tatters. Enigmatic gambling tycoon Caesar King approaches her with an alluring proposition she can’t refuse – to dance as inspiration for the top-ranked men’s tennis player for two years.

Cleverly manipulated by more…

Grab a copy of Match Pointe here


And to celebrate the world (person) behind Absolutely Fabulous, here is Jennifer Saunders’ story!

bonkersBonkers : My Life
by Jennifer Saunders

She’s been in two of the most popular double acts in TV history. As the Saunders one out of French and Saunders, she gave the world one of its longest-lasting, most-loved comedy partnerships. And in Ab Fab’s Eddie and Patsy she created two hilarious monsters we’ve taken to our hearts.

Bonkers is the story of how it all came about. Or at least the bits she recalls. The rest she made up. Either way, it’s all more…

 

 

 

 

And to finish this blog here are scenes from Absolutely Fabulous!

Dystopian novel A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists wins 2014 Most Underrated Book Award

A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson has won the Most Underrated Book Award for 2014.

Announced at an event in Sydney last night, Rawson beat out Robert Kenny’s Gardens of Fire and Holy Bible by Vanessa Russell.


a-wrong-turn-at-the-office-of-unmade-listsA Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists

by Jane Rawson

It is 1997 in San Francisco and Simon and Sarah have been sent on a quest to see America: they must stand at least once in every 25-foot square of the country. Decades later, in an Australian city that has fallen on hard times, Caddy is camped by the Maribyrnong River, living on small change from odd jobs, ersatz vodka and memories. She’s sick of being hot, dirty, broke and alone.

Caddy’s future changes shape when her friend, Ray, stumbles across some well-worn maps, including one of San Francisco, and their lives connect with those of teenagers Simon and Sarah in ways that are unexpected and profound.

A meditation on happiness – where and in what place and with who we can find our centre, a perceptive vision of where our world is headed, and a testament to the power of memory and imagination, this is the best of novels: both highly original and eminently readable.

Grab a copy of A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists here

 

 

New teaser trailer for Insurgent released!

insurgent

Spoil yourself…

Insurgent

Divergent Series : Book 2

I have done bad things. I can’t take them back, and they are part of who I am.

Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price.

Wracked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.

Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever… because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.

Spoil yourself, grab your copy of Insurgent here

 

Gary Gibson, author of Extinction Game, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Gary Gibson

author of Extinction Game, Final Days series and many more…

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 Glasgow, Scotland. Raised in Glasgow, Scotland. Schooled in Glasgow, Scotland. Well, mostly, apart from a few years living in Ayrshire. Or, as I like to think of it, north of the Ice Wall amongst the WIldlings.

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

At twelve, I pretty much wanted to be Arthur C. Clarke. Actually, I also wanted to shave my head and wear white robes like the Talosian in the original Star Trek. That’s when I started thinking about writing since I was already sucking up science fiction books like a Roomba in a universe of dust-bunnies. By eighteen, I’d decided I wanted to be Jimmy Page (guitarist in Led Zeppelin) because I’d just moved back to Glasgow from darkest Ayrshire and discovered rock music. The writing took a back seat for a while. But in my mid-twenties, I’d had a kind of Damascene moment and started writing again. By the time I was thirty I’d had a couple of short stories published in pro sf and fantasy magazines.

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

Author: Gary Gibson

That logic and reason will always win any argument. It took a lot of bumps to work out logic and reason are the last things a lot of people ever want to hear.

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

There’s no three things. It’s everything, all at once, poured into a single Gary Gibson-shaped mould. But if you kidnapped my dog – that is, if I had a dog – and showed me a live stream of it held over a bucket of piranhas and demanded I answer, I’d pick: Marooned in Realtime by Vernor Vinge, Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, and the Gaia trilogy by John Varley. If I’ve got any influences, it’s those three. Probably.

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

It’s a falsity to say there are ‘innumerable’ artistic avenues open to anyone. Well, there are, but whether you’re actually any good at them is another matter. I “chose” to write a novel because it turns out that’s what I’m good at it, it’s fun, and there’s pretty much nothing else I can think of I might possibly want to do with my life.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

My latest is Extinction Game. I couldn’t just sit down and write a straight post-apocalyptic book, because it’s been done so many times. I needed something extra. A classic post-apocalyptic trope is the Last Man on Earth story, so since I’d been reading up on theories regarding the idea we live in a multiverse of infinite parallel realities, it made sense that there must also be an infinite number of universes in which different people are the last man or woman on Earth.

From there it didn’t take much more than a hop or skip to figure out an interesting story lay in bringing those people together through some technology that allows travel from one alternate reality to another. Why write a book about one world-destroying apocalypse, when you can write a book that by definition includes every single possible apocalypse?

Grab a copy of Gary’s latest novel Extinction here

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

An immediate desire to send me the entire contents of their bank accounts and the deeds to their homes. I’m not saying I planted any post-hypnotic suggestions in my books or anything, but…

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

Anyone who writes what they choose to write, regardless of what others think.

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

To produce a book a year; to always improve; to maintain a healthy level of self-criticism that allows me to grow as a writer; to be ambitious, in the sense of never resting on my laurels; to surprise, entertain and delight; to be raised to Godhood and worshipped by milli…ok, maybe not that last one.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

To understand that what appears to be failure is instead an opportunity to define and build on your true strengths.

Gary, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Extinction Game here


Extinction Game

by Gary Gibson

Jerry Beche should be dead. Instead, he’s rescued from a desolate Earth where he was the last man alive. He’s then trained for the toughest conditions imaginable and placed with a crack team of specialists. Every one of them is a survivor, as each withstood the violent ending of their own alternate Earth. And their new specialism? To retrieve weapons and data in missions to other apocalyptic worlds.

But what is ‘the Authority’, the shadowy organization that rescued Beche and his fellow survivors? How does it access other timelines? And why does it need these instruments of death? As Jerry struggles to obey his new masters, he begins to distrust his new companions. A strange bunch, their motivations are less than clear, and accidents start plaguing their missions. Jerry suspects the Authority is feeding them lies, and team members are spying on him. As a dangerous situation spirals into catastrophe, is there anybody he can trust?

 Grab a copy of Extinction Game here

Did J.K. Rowling just announce a new Harry Potter novel?

J.K. Rowling sent twitter into a spin last night with a series of cryptic tweets that hinted at her writing a new novel, then hinting that it might be a new Harry Potter novel, followed by millions of fans hinting that they were very very excited.

It started when Rowling sent this tweet:

Rowling Tweet 1

Which led inevitably to tweets like this:

Rowling Tweet 2

We believe OMFG is an anagram for Oh My (it) Feels Good.

And tweets like that led to tweets like this from J.K. Rowling:

Rowling Tweet 3

Which led to Jo not working at all, but posting this riddle:

Rowling Tweet 4

Which led to some very quick fans coming up with this message:

Rowling Tweet 5

Which led to many of us doing this:

tumblr_inline_mwmskd4U791s8pyhu

So where does that leave us?

A long way from confirmed, but it looks more and more likely that we’ll be seeing a new Harry Potter novel, sooner rather than later.

Yep, we’re calling it.

Kind of.

But for now, have you seen the new editions of Harry Potter? They’re very pretty. Click here to check them out.

Harry Potter

Georgia Clark, author of Parched, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Georgia Clark

author of Parched and She’s with the Band

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

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

I was born in Manly, which is ironic because I certainly am not. Raised in Hornsby Heights where I shunned the bush to keep my nose in a book. I went to school at Gosford High School, which I commuted 2 hours each way to! Had a great time at school: I loved my friends and I was pretty good at the learning.

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

I have a very early memory of wanting to be a policewoman, but I think that was more about being in charge than upholding the will of the state. Eighteen I was dead-set on becoming a film director, which is what I went to uni for. By 30, that had changed into novelist, mostly because it was easier and cheaper, and I could do it in my pajamas.

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

Author: Georgia Clark

I strongly believed there would be a revolution in Australia. After starting at uni, I quickly fell into the left wing movement, and learnt about anarchism and socialism and all sorts of wonderful trouble-making. I really believed there would be an uprising, and that I would be a part of it! I also believed in cutting my own hair and dying it blue. I was fun.

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

Manhattan by Woody Allen. I grew up watching this movie. From my lounge chair in suburban NSW, Woody’s New York was impossibly smart and cool and complex. I loved his intellectual points of reference and his characters’ shifting morality. I’m sure this early obsession led me to New York and a love of clever, modern characters from my socio-economic world.

The Dark is Rising series, by Susan Cooper. This series fanned the flame of my love for fantasy and adventure. I still remember inhaling these books when I was 12, 13, 14… I grew up without the internet or TV, so books were my everything. When I finished the fifth book in the series, I immediately started re-reading it again. Set in Cornwall, England, in the 1950s (when it was first published) this is a story about a group of plucky young kids, Barney, Simon, and Jane, who embark an ancient quest in an underworld that exists alongside out own. It’s ambitious, exciting, and original, I was riveted the entire time. Think Narnia meets Harry Potter. Yes, that good.

Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. It’s no accident that Parched has been compared to this handbook for dystopic action: I’ve read the book, listened to the audiobook and seen the movie many times. I set out to create something as tense, political and exciting as this fantastic book.

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

Writing a marathon is a bit like what I imagine running a marathon is like: so hard to do your first one, but then you’re hooked. I love creating fictional worlds and imagining dialogue and scenes. I tried TV writing and directing, but couldn’t break into it. I found my niche with books.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Parched is about a sixteen-year-old girl, Tess Rockwood, who joins an underground rebel group called Kudzu to help stop the development of an ‘artilect’; an artificial intelligence prototype. It’s set in a future world without much water, and features robots and kickass girls and a cute/mysterious guy. Some reviews have compared it to Divergent and Hunger Games, which of course I’m totally thrilled about!

Grab a copy of Parched here

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

I hope Parched takes them on a rollercoaster ride, complete with sweaty palms and racing hearts. I hope they swoon and sigh over the romance, cheer on Kudzu, and root for Tess. And I hope they think about climate change and sustainability, and ponder the ethical issues of artificial intelligence.

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

Anyone who speaks their truth and maintains a healthy output. YA authors I love include Maggie Steifvater, David Leviathan, Rainbow Rowell, Cassandra Clare, and Lauren Oliver.

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

I’d love to get a six-figure advance to write a No. 1 New York Times-best selling novel that gets turned into a fantastic movie, thus entering the pop culture Hall of Fame forever. I’d also like to write something that concretely affects people’s lives, and gives them a greater sense of hope and self-worth.  

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write stories in genres you read, and that you personally, would love to pick up in a bookstore. Commit to a regular writing schedule, ideally in a space away from home. Try the app Freedom if the internet distracts you. Don’t worry about the lacklustre first chapter; you’ll find your writing gathers steam later and you’ll go back and rewrite it anyway. Remember that talent is persistence: most writers don’t sell their first book, they sell their third or fourth. Writing is the long game: stick at it. Live a life worth writing about: take risks, say yes, follow your heart, and me, on Twitter: @georgialouclark

Georgia, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Parched here

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