Category Archives: Australian Author

Blog Tour: It Came From The Deep by Maria Lewis

I’m so excited to hear about Maria Lewis’ new upcoming release, It Came From The Deep. It’s YA. It’s all about fantastic sea creatures… I’ve asked Maria to share with us her 4 favourite fiction involving sea creatures and I have to say they all sound amazing (I read only 1 – the fourth one). Have you read any of them? If not, well, you can read one while you’re waiting for Maria’s new book!

DROWNTOWN (2013)

This is one of the most beautiful graphic novels I’ve ever read and was also miles ahead of the cli-fi (climate fiction) movement that is really taking off now. From the minds of Robbie Morrison and pen of Jim Murray, it’s set in a London heavily impacted by climate change to the point that the whole city is basically underwater. Boats, jet-skis and any propeller-based device are the main modes of transport as you see humans and the entire animal species interact on a day-to-day basis. It’s a crime Drown Town never got multiple books, as it was a darkly intriguing world depicted in a bright and visceral fashion that really stayed with you.

JAWS (1974)

It’s a classic for a reason and I revisited Peter Benchley’s seminal thriller last year, delighted to find that it still holds up. It’s pulpy fun and – ironically – the definition of a great beach read. It doesn’t dip into schlock territory as heavily as his later works, Creature and Beast specifically, but through Chief Brody and his family you get a super tense, creepy story. Definitely not one for the squeamish, but if you can make it through that opening chapter then you’re in for a treat.

HELLBOY (1993 – onwards)

Mike Mignola’s creation first popped up in 1993 and it’s easy for all of the focus to be drawn to ‘Big Red’ himself, after all, Hellboy is the title character. Yet it’s his best friend Abe Sapien that always captured my interest, an amphibious man of sorts with intuitive psychic abilities and a penchant for boiled eggs. He was like a sweet-hearted, old school gentleman in the comics … who just so happened to have scales. Abe got to move in to the spotlight with the B.P.R.D run, which was wonderful, and Doug Jones’ portrayal of him in Guillermo del Toro’s two films cemented his status as one of – if not the best – fictional sea creatures.

THE BLOOD IN THE BEGINNING (2016)

I was only put on to this super recently after I announced It Came From The Deep and someone recommended that I check out Aussie author Kim Falconer’s novel from last year. It’s a mix of a lot of different things I love – action, adventure, dystopia, romance, urban fantasy and sassy heroines. It also features a warring, fictional sea creature race unlike anything else I’ve seen in spec fic before. There are about five or six different merpeople shows set to drop in the next two years from a range of networks and I feel like their version of the creatures is going to be tapping into a lot of the ideas represented in this epic. The Blood In The Beginning is huge in its scope and how much story it’s trying to tell in just one book, so if it doesn’t always hit the target the promise of what’s to come in future Ava Skyes’ stories is enough.

If you’re interested in my review for this last book, you can find it here

About the book

It Came From The Deep by Maria Lewis

An elderly professor is murdered, leaving a puzzling crime scene for police to unravel and a laboratory housing all kinds of marine life. But something is missing … something huge.

Recent highschool graduate Kaia Craig has problems of her own, with her career as an ironwoman on the Gold Coast in jeopardy after a horrific accident. Yet someone wants to hold her accountable.

After nearly drowning in Lake Pelutz and her attackers on the run, Kaia is left with more than just physical injuries. She’s convinced she saw something in the depths of the lake: something that choose to spare her. Uncertain whether she’s running towards the discovery of a friend or foe, Kaia begins digging into a mystery that may have bigger ramifications than she or any of her friends can fathom.

Add it on Goodreads: It Came From The Deep

Buy it on Amazon: It Came From The Deep

About the author

Maria Lewis is an author, journalist and screenwriter based in Sydney, Australia. Getting her start as a police reporter, her writing on pop culture has appeared in publications such as the New York Post, Guardian, Penthouse, The Daily Mail, Empire Magazine, Huffington Post and many more. Seen as a presenter on SBS Viceland’s nightly news program The Feed and as the host of Cleverfan on ABC, she has been a journalist for over 13 years.

She’s the producer and host of the Eff Yeah Film and Feminism podcast. Her critically acclaimed debut novel Who’s Afraid? was published in 2016, followed by its sequel Who’s Afraid Too? in 2017. Who’s Afraid? is being developed for television by the Emmy and BAFTA award-winning Hoodlum Entertainment.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | facebook |  twitter  | youtube  |  instagram  | tumblr

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Blog Tour: Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, Fiona Wood

Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, Fiona Wood

Kate, a quiet boarder, making some risky choices to pursue the experimental music she loves.

Clem, shrugging off her old swim-team persona, exploring her first sexual relationship, and trying to keep her annoying twin, Iris, at arm’s length.

Ady, grappling with a chaotic family, and wondering who her real friends are; she’s not the confident A-lister she appears to be.

When St Hilda’s establishes a Year 10 Wellness Program in response to the era of cyber-bullying, the three girls are thrown together and an unlikely friendship is sparked. One thing they have in common: each is targeted by PSST, a site devoted to gossip and slander that must have a source within St Hilda’s.

Who can you trust when rumour is the new truth?

My Blurb

When I heard about this collaboration happening, I knew it was going to be a cracker! And boy, wasn’t it ever! Take Three Girls is all about potentials; the potentials we all have inside of us but it’s up to us to make it a reality. Take Three Girls is about finding yourself and your place in society; not ‘fitting in’ like squeezing into a tight sexy dress that’s actually terribly uncomfortable but having a place set aside for you because it’s for you. Take Three Girls tackles contemporary teen issues, not sparing the heartaches, tears, and humiliation, with a spectacular triumphant touchdown in the end.

The authors took 3 girls from different walks in life:

Ady – the popular rich chick

Kate – the studious country chick

Clem – the sporty chick

placed them in a class where they must ‘work’ together and each found that the other doesn’t really stay in the squares they’ve been fitted into. Despite their differences though, not one of them was safe from a cyber-bully, PSST, a gossip site particularly aimed at the girls at their school. These three girls found themselves supporting each other becoming truer friends each day; they found that they could not let PSST get away with all the pains it caused but how do you fight an anonymous cyber bully?

I must admit to cringing my way through the first half of the book. It was soo difficult to read as I myself am a mother and uncertain myself how to protect or guide my kids through school and life but then there’s another set of challenge in the cyber world! This wasn’t really around yet when I was a teen – I really don’t know how I’d survive it but such is life… I did find it, like the girls did, a bit ridiculous that a male psychologist was cast as the ‘Wellness Program’ teacher but I think that rather portrays just how much we as adults can help or rather how little…

“Why is life so unsimple?”

This is a question that you’d never tire of asking but I am truly grateful though to be reminded that teens are so very resilient and given the chance, they can find their own true paths in life. I realised that especially this year, I’ve been reading through my YA books thinking more like a mother and that’s just my stage of life. I therefore, can definitely recommend mothers to read this with their daughters as there are so many issues open for discussions from career paths, bullying, love, sex, friendship, and family.

Take Three Girls is a novel of empowerment; not just of the feminine but of identity. It is tough, sweet, bitter, beautiful, sour, and everything in between. If you were only going to read only 1 book this year, read this one!!

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Cath Crowley is a young adult author published in Australia and internationally. She is the author of The Gracie Faltrain trilogy, Chasing Charlie Duskin, and Graffiti Moon. In 2011, Graffiti Moon won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction, the Ethel Turner Award for Young People’s Literature, and was named an honour book in the Children’s Book Council, Book of the Year. Cath writes and teaches in Melbourne. Her new book will be published in 2016.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  | facebook  | tumblr  | instagram

 

Simmone Howell is the award-winning author of YA novels Girl DefectiveEverything Beautiful and Notes from the Teenage Underground. She also writes non-fiction about dream houses, teen movies and ways to map a city. She lives in Melbourne and is currently working on a memoir about her formative female influences.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter

Fiona Wood‘s first young adult novel, Six Impossible Things, was shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year, Older Readers. Her second, Wildlife, won the CBCA Book of the Year, Older Readers and was shortlisted for a number of other awards. Her third book, Cloudwish, was published in 2015. Her books are published internationally.

Before writing YA fiction, Fiona wrote television scripts. She lives in Melbourne with her family.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  | facebook  | instagram

Review: The Silent Invasion by James Bradley

The Silent Invasion (The Change #1) by James Bradley

The Earth is dying.

Plants, animals and humans are being infected by spores from space and becoming part of a vast alien intelligence.

When 16-year-old Callie discovers her little sister Gracie is Changing, she flees with Gracie to the Zone to escape termination by the ruthless officers of quarantine.

What Callie finds in the Zone will alter her forever and send her on a journey to the stars, and beyond.

The first book in an heart-stopping trilogy from award-winning author James Bradley.

My Blurb

There aren’t many post-apocalyptic / dystopian novels set in Australia. I can think of 2 others besides this one and only this one is YA. That is one of the main reason I was interested in this book.

We were told that people disappear. They disappear because they’re sick and will have to be quarantined. Callie’s dad ‘disappeared’ a long time ago but now her little sister, Gracie, seems to be falling sick. Gracie is basically the only family Callie has left and she wasn’t going to let Gracie go just like that despite what everyone says and so began her journey to find sanctuary for them both.

Callie is one amazing character. She was so strong and courageous yet very gentle with Gracie. The landscape was frightening as people are losing hopes and yet, there are still pockets of humanity. I’m still conflicted about the love interest though despite liking Matt and enjoying the romance, I think this story can stand on its own. I think Callie can stand on her own. The ending was tense but I’m surprised that I wasn’t actually surprised with that last word…

Despite being un-surprised, I’d love to get onto the next book as The Silent Invasion was quite an adventure and I’d like some closure too! In the meantime, if you know & liked any other post-apocalyptic / dystopian set in Australia, I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

James Bradley was born in 1967. He is the author of three novels, Wrack, The Deep Field and his most recent, The Resurrectionist; a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus; and the editor of Blur, a collection of stories by young Australian writers. He is a well-respected critic and regularly reviews for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. He lives in Sydney with his partner, novelist Mardi McConnochie.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website |  twitter  

Review: The Impossible Story of Olive in Love by Tonya Alexandra


The Impossible Story of Olive in Love by Tonya Alexandra
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was taken by the title and the premise of a gypsy curse. Described as a quirky novel, I thought it’d be humorous and easy to read. While the language was easy to read, I was unfortunately disappointed with the book. In fact, this book got me so angry and as I started reading it on the Friday commute, it also ruined my weekend for me. I was that upset!

I’m not going to bang on about how upset I was as it was quite hard for me to actually understand myself why I was so worked up about this book. The only reason I could think of is Olive’s self-absorption and utter selfishness! My goodness, I really don’t know how anyone stay around her… I do understand that due to her unusual situation & therefore, the very atypical childhood, Olive became who she is and through her experience with true love, the joy and disappointment and all that came with it, is how she came to learn & accept herself. It is truly a coming of age story.

After all the angst I went through reading this book and the supernatural twist on a contemporary tale, I was also let down by the non-fairytale non-Hollywood ending. I’m all for girl power but seriously, my emotions need a balm this book did not provide. I still want to cry now months after I finished reading this book. Sorry but this one is definitely not for me 😥

Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: Refuge

Refuge
Refuge by A.V. Mather
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Opening a normal-looking door into a whole new world is one of my favourite trope because there are just so many possibilities. In this novel, Refuge, our heroine, Nell McLennan, wanted to run away from her problems, her life. I bet each one of us has felt like that at one time or another… escape the daily drudge or any relationship difficulties and see how they cope when we’re not around or will they miss us at all?

Nell did not have a particularly close relationship with her parents. In fact, they were too busy with work to bother too much with her. And then, just before Christmas holidays, she managed to botch things with her best friend who won’t ever speak to her again. The final kick came when her parents decided to go on a holiday without her. She is being sent to a grandfather she’s never met who lives in woop woop. When the chance of escape was presented, Nell jumped for it.

It was a bit of a slow start or maybe I was just too impatient to get to the other world behind the door. It felt like there were too much setting up in the beginning; a steamrolling of events to drive Nell to truly want/need a ‘refuge’ from ever having to face up to her troubles. However, ‘Refuge’ really isn’t a haven where you do not have problems instead Nell came across a set of different yet the same sort of issues. Refuge is a dark world filled with madness and supernatural talents. Everyone came to Refuge for the same reason and all have their own sets of secrets, enemies, and allies. Who can Nell trust? Will she stay or will she return home?

I didn’t expect Refuge to be such a dark world but I do love the variety & dynamics of characters in this world. Nell was a little frustrating but it’s one of those passenger-driver issue, if you get what I mean. I am fascinated by the mad scientist and ever curious on the backgrounds of the other Refuge-ans (we don’t get to hear very much about them). The ending also makes me think that this is really only the first in a series; am keeping my fingers crossed that there will be more Refuge tales.

My sincere thanks to the author for providing e-copy of this book in exchange of honest review

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Deborah Burrows: Q&A

 

Thank you, Deborah, for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself & your writing. I adored A Time of Secrets and have been keeping a careful eye for your next book so am very very happy with having one in my hands now 🙂

Thank you, Tien, for those kind words. I’m so happy that you liked Stella in Secrets – she’s one of my favourite people too. I do hope that you like Lily in Ambulance Girls, too. She’s a feisty Aussie girl in the thick of the Blitz mayhem.

Quick Qs

Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate?  It’s chocolate!! Whatever way it comes, I’m happy.

Coffee or Tea?  Coffee in the morning (crucial!) and tea in the afternoon (preferably with scones).

Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark?  Ummm. I was known to dog-ear in my misspent youth, but now I’m a scrupulous bookmarker. I use anything, leaves, twigs, postcards, envelopes, pamphlets, anything available – even a real bookmark occasionally.

Plot or Character?   Definitely character, but this comes after I’ve decided on what themes I want to explore.

I usually begin a book with a couple of themes, for instance, anti-Semitism in WW2 Britain, the Australian Intelligence Service, the effect of war on those who fight, the impact of hordes of young American servicemen on a small city like Perth, what it is like to discover that your first love has died in battle in a country far away.

But I can’t begin writing until I know who my heroine will be, and I have a good idea of her back-story. I need to know where and when she was born, her family circumstances, where she grew up and what she is passionate about before I am able to imagine what she will undergo in the course of my book. Then other characters begin to appear in my mind and I need to know their back-stories in detail as well. Every character in my books (even quite a minor one) has a detailed back-story in my mind.

HEA or unexpected twist? Happily ever after! Always!!

What fascinates you so much about history that you have 3 history degrees?

I have always been fascinated by the past. Even as a child I would walk through the streets of Perth imagining how it had looked when my mother was a girl, or when her mother was young. My favourite books as a child were ones set or written in the past.

Also, history is about stories, and I adore stories.

And the study of history allows you to have some insight into why the world is the way it is today. It offers explanations, which I like.

Any other era in history that you like aside from WWII?

The 1920s. Like WW2 it was a time of enormous change for women. But it was a time of hope also, as people wanted to forget the horrors of WW1. And it has the added bonus of great clothes and music!

Any era in history you dislike? Why?

I don’t really dislike any historical period, but some don’t interest me as much as others. I doubt that I would write about the eighteenth century, for example, because I don’t know much about it.

When did you first start writing and what was the road to publication like for you?

I began to write in 2009, finished A Stranger in my Street in January 2011, and by April 2011 I had an agent and a publisher. So I can’t share any stories about having to paper my walls with rejections.

I will say in all humility, though, that I doubt a publisher would ever have considered my first book if I hadn’t paid to have the manuscript professionally edited before trying to find an agent. That really made all the difference. The editor suggested that I make a lot of changes to the pacing of the book. She also suggested that I write new scenes and remove others. Because of my editor I was able to see my ‘baby’ from an entirely new point of view and the flaws of the first time writer were horribly apparent. It’s not easy to accept that what you thought was wonderful needs a lot more work, but I’m so glad that I accepted her advice, because after re-writing I was able to offer a polished manuscript to literary agents, and I was accepted almost immediately.

What was the inspiration behind ‘Ambulance Girls’?

A 1941 newspaper article headed: “WA Girl is ARP Heroine”. It was about Stella O’Keefe, the first Australian A.R.P. [Air Raid Precautions] worker in Britain to be presented to the Queen for outstanding bravery in the London Blitz. Stella was born in a small town 160kms out of Kalgoorlie and (like me!) was a petite girl. (She was known to her colleagues in the London Auxiliary Ambulance Station where she worked as “The Mighty Atom,” which amused me.) In November 1940, at the height of the Blitz, she climbed up to the ninth floor of a bombed and dangerously unstable building in the blackout to rescue a trapped family.

In the article, Stella was quoted as saying, “Other girls at my station have done stickier jobs than this rescue. I am the only driver who so far has not crashed an ambulance into a bomb crater while going to hospital with wounded in the darkened streets. Many times bombs have been so close that I saw the explosion and disintegration of buildings, but the pressure of the job is so intense that there is no time for fear.”

After reading that article the character of Lily Brennan appeared in my mind, and the story soon followed.

Hmmm, I would love to know what’s happened to Stella O’Keefe after the Blitz!

What kind of research was involved in the writing of Ambulance Girls?

I was living in Oxford, UK at the time, and had access to Oxford University’s marvellous Bodleian Library. It is a deposit library, so every book ever published in the UK is in there. I just had to ask and books magically appeared in a few hours. This meant that I was able to read a lot of out of print novels written in WW2, and could peruse any books about the period that seemed interesting.

But I also like to visit the places I write about in my books. So I wandered around central London with a bomb map and worked out which buildings had been destroyed or damaged, so that I could get a sense of the city under siege. I also visited wonderful museums, such as the Imperial War Museum, the Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall, and Bletchley Park (where they broke the German Enigma Codes).

And I went to the Westminster City Archives, where I was able to inspect the actual records of the Blitz. I touched the detailed incident reports filled out by the ARP Wardens each day. They listed what bombs were dropped on what streets, the time they hit, the damage they caused to property, and the casualties. That was an amazing experience, because even after 75 years there was still a faint scent of smoke in the yellowing paper.

Was there a particular historical incident you came across during research that really touched you? Could you please share it with us?

This story, from a book that set out people’s memories of the Blitz, really affected me. It still makes me want to cry, for so many reasons:

“She was a beautiful little girl, about eight years old, blonde, the sort of girl you’d see in the old Pears soap advertisements. She was lying on the ground and she was dead. We checked her over but there was no injury except that a piece of shrapnel had taken off the back of her skull. She had a beautiful smile on her face. We took her to the hospital and asked for a doctor to certify her as dead and a young doctor came out. He took one look at her and took off his white coat and said he was going off to join the air force, because he wanted to drop bombs on people who were dropping bombs on us.”

Could you share your top 5 favourite WWII novels, please?

(in alphabetical order)

Enigma by Robert Harris

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer

A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Black-out/All Clear by Connie Willis

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I’ve read 3, have got Blackout off the shelf to read, and added the other 2 to my tbr (ack!) ~Tien

What’s next for you?

Ambulance Girls is the first of a trilogy, which all deal with women ambulance drivers in the blitz. The books are loosely connected, so that Lily from Ambulance Girls will appear in the other two, but as a more minor character.

So, at present I’m writing the second in the trilogy, Ambulance Girls: Under Fire.

Eeeek!! I can’t wait 😀

You can check out my thoughts on Ambulance Girls, here

About the author

Deborah Burrows was born and grew up in Perth, Western Australia. She is the author of four novels, all set in the Second World War. Deborah’s inspiration is her late mother, who was widowed by the long shadow of that war and who loved to tell stories about life in wartime. Deborah’s latest novel is Ambulance Girls, which is the first of a trilogy set during the London Blitz.

Deborah’s ‘day job’ is in the law, but she has a passion for history. Perhaps that is why, although she adores the clear skies, beautiful beaches and easy-going atmosphere of her home town, she so loves spending time in dreamy Oxford, where she completed a post-graduate degree in medical history. She now divides her time between the two cities.

Find Deborah: website | facebook | twitter | goodreads

Review: Ambulance Girls

Ambulance Girls by Deborah Burrows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: Paperback copy courtesy of publisher

Ever since I fell completely in adoration of Deborrah Burrows’ last book, A Time of Secrets a couple of years ago, I’ve been waiting for another book. And while I was waiting, I kinda stalk her on Goodreads and twitter so I knew she’s been traipsing (sorry, researching) all over London when living there. I greeted the cover reveal of Ambulance Girls with a squeal of excitement and I think my heart might have stopped for mo when I received a copy in the mail.

Firstly, I do love this cover and I really like war historical fiction especially when this particular book’s main character was inspired by a real life historical Aussie woman serving in the London Auxiliary Ambulance Station during the Blitz. There were a lot of things I learnt from this novel about women during the Blitz. I guess there have been quite a number of books or even documentaries but the way it was written here made it all the more real to me. It was obvious that a lot of research was done in the writing of this novel and not just about the women or the Blitz as novel itself feels like veritable literary tour of London.

The novel opens with Lily on duty and having to face one of her fears of enclosed spaces. It was a great start to the novel and you’d easily fall in love with Lily. Her other fears though were not as easily conquered… Aside from her courage, empathy, and her wish to do well unto others, she’s also got a great sense of humour. Maybe that’s her Aussie flavoured humour that coloured her interactions with her friends and gave the book a reminiscent air. We follow Lily through her struggles with daily life during the Blitz; the grief of losing a friend and the joy of falling in love. There were some shaky moments where I thought things were just not going to be right with this book but thankfully, all was made quite well! I had to give the book a bit of a hug from relief and an affectionate pat when I finished reading for I was well & truly shaken.

There were a number of characters both likeable and despicable in this book and the variety and dynamics between these characters were really quite interesting. The book is told from Lily’s perspective only so in a way, we miss out on a lot about the other characters as only a few were well developed. However, as this is the first book of a trilogy, I do believe we will get to know some of the others quite well later on (and I look forward to this!). What you cannot mistake in this novel is the author’s views on anti-semitism (ignorant) and Hitler (evil); she’s loud and clear on that front. Hear! Hear! These things can never be stated enough and whilst Hitler is gone, there are still those like him & share his views.

If you loved the show, Call the Midwife, or the books that inspired it, you would love Ambulance Girls. Lily Brennan may not be English but she’s as brave as those midwives in facing uncertainties & adversities of the time. And I dare say that her Australian personality shone through especially against the foil of English reserved façade.

Thanks to Penguin Books Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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