Category Archives: Australian Author

Elizabeth Foster: Q&A

Thank you, Elizabeth, for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself & your writing. I’ve loved Esme’s adventure in magical Aeolia and can’t wait for book 2!

Quick Qs

Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate?

Impossible choice! I love chocolate in all its forms and eat too much of both. Easter is a dangerous time for me!

Coffee or Tea?

I adore coffee but limit myself to one a day – I love the buzz but my adrenals don’t. Peppermint tea is my next beverage of choice.

Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark?

I never dog-ear but I do write all over books, marking passages I love. I usually use bookmarks to keep my place. There are so many gorgeous ones to choose from.

Plot or Character?

My ideal reads have a focus on both. I like beautiful writing, which I feel is found more often in character-driven stories, but I also like to feel that the story is going somewhere.

HEA or unexpected twist?

I prefer a story that leaves me with a bit of hope but I’m also partial to a good twist along the way!

Q: Could you please share with us your publication journey?

A: Esme’s Wish took around nine years to come into being, from first idea to published book. I really had no idea what it would take to write a publishable novel, and naively thought it would take only a couple of years. I soon realized there is a huge amount of work involved! I persevered through many rewrites, taking on board suggestions for improvement, until the story was the best I could make it. Esme’s Wish finally made it out of the slush pile at Odyssey Books, who are publishing all three books in the series.

Q: I see that you loved Narnia & Enid Blyton and hence the ‘step into a magical world’ in Esme’s Wish. Aside from these classics, was there any particular real life incidents that inspired you to write this book?

A: Esme’s Wish began as a family project. I started writing the book with my then fourteen-year-old son, Chris. The initial impetus came at the end of the Harry Potter series, when I missed the world J.K. Rowling had created and decided to write a ‘feel good’ story of my own. Once I started writing, I felt more fulfilled and happier all round, so I just kept going! My son eventually decided to write a series of his own and we now edit each other’s work.

Q: What was the inspiration of ‘Esperance’? It sounds rather like Venice but with Greek culture?

A: I always envisioned that much of the story would take place in a canal city and the first one that came to mind was Venice. While a real-life city, to me Venice also has an otherworldly dreaminess all of its own. I visited twice during the long writing of the book and could easily imagine dragons flying over its rooftops! When it came to the Greek influences, I found that references to Homer’s Odyssey kept creeping into the story so I just ran with it.

Q: I can’t get past that opening scene! It’s not something that I’d be brave enough to do, facing off the whole village. When did you actually write this scene? Was this the first scene you wrote for the book or last?

A: That opening scene was written first. Every chapter needed plenty of rewriting, but the scene in the church stayed pretty much intact. I was a fairly quiet teenager, and I would never have objected at a wedding either! Fortunately writing gives you the freedom to do all sorts of things on the page that you might never be game to do in real life.

Q: How did you design the magic system? There seems to be a fascination with water?

A: You’re right about that! I love the ocean and water – as many Aussies do – so I knew it would feature in whatever I wrote. Water is a huge part of our world and often taken for granted, so I was happy to give it a starring role! With regards to the magic system, I made an effort to come up with Gifts that I hadn’t seen dozens of times in other stories, and when I did use a common magical trope, I tried to put my own spin on it.

Q: How many books in the series do you anticipate or have planned for? And what can we expect from Esme in these books?

A: There are three books planned in the series and I am almost halfway through writing the second. The series ages with the protagonist, so Esme turns sixteen in book two. In the first book, Esme is a little stuck in the past, due to the loss of her mother and the alienation she has experienced. She’s still playing catch up on things she missed out on as a child. However, in book two, entitled Esme’s Gift, Esme faces more of the typical challenges of her age group. She goes to school in Esperance and also explores the wider world of Aeolia on a special quest.

I don’t want to give too much away but expect more of the whimsy of book one, interwoven with some darker coming-of-age themes. The first book seems to appeal to preteens keen to step up to YA as well as younger teens and serves as a good introduction to the series. However, the next two are more firmly in YA readership territory and are likely to be more suited for ages twelve and up.

Q: Please share with us: your top 5 reads in 2017 and your 5 most anticipated releases in 2018

A: I am a slow reader and at least half the books I read are classics. My tastes are eclectic: my favourite books in 2017 were Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I also enjoyed a couple of dystopian novels, one old and one new: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (the basis for the movie Blade Runner) and The Pale by Clare Rhoden (another Odyssey author.)

Here’s five new releases I’m keen to read in 2018. The last three in the list are all debut novels by Australian authors.  

The Surface Breaks by Susan O’Neill, a feminist retelling of the The Little Mermaid.

The Muse of Nightmares, Laini Taylor’s sequel to Strange the Dreamer.

The Way Home, the first in the Ashes of Olympus trilogy by Julian Barr, a YA historical fantasy based on Greek myth. (Odyssey Books.)

Beneath the Mother Tree by D.M. Cameron, a contemporary mystery set on a small island off the coast of Australia. (Midnight Sun.)

Small Spaces, a YA psychological thriller by Sarah Epstein. (Walker Books.)

You can check out my thoughts on Esme’s Wish, here, and you can purchase it, here 

About the author

Elizabeth Foster read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds. Once she started writing, she never looked back. She’s at her happiest when immersed in stories, plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters. Elizabeth lives in Sydney, where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee.

Find Elizabeth on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook  | instagram  | pinterest

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Review: Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

Esme’s Wish (Esme Series #1) by Elizabeth Foster

This was her last chance.
Her hand twisted high in the air.

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the actions of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about Ariane, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.

My Blurb (4 stars)

I do love stories which takes us from our mundane world into another magical one. Doesn’t it just give us hope that maybe one day it’ll happen to li’l normal me? lol

Esme’s Wish is one such story. Esme herself grew up on an island where everybody knows everyone. In the opening scene, she’s attending a wedding… her father’s. Of course, she couldn’t accept this and made her objection known (wowser! It took some guts to stand up in front of everyone you know!). Unfortunately, she wasn’t taken seriously… Still, this image is totally imprinted in my mind!

Esme finally decided to take matters into her own hand and to investigate her mother’s disappearance especially after some strange things were happening to her. In following her mother’s footsteps, she suddenly found herself somewhere beyond this world. A world where magic is strong though it appears to be faltering. A world where her mother has been and disappeared into. The more she finds out about her mother, the more determined she is to find her & fix things.

I have really enjoyed the reading of Esme’s Wish. I must admit it may not be to everyone’s cup of tea as the language is quite flowery & descriptive but I did find it mesmerisingly magical. The magic system is very interesting though not quite yet fleshed out (I am looking forward to book 2!) so this book is very much a world-building one. And what a beaut! It’s just like Venice (canals etc) with hints of Greek gods and magical creatures (dragons and sirens). Yep, if you like your world to be filled with magic, I’d highly recommend Esme’s Wish.

I won this book in a giveaway via another book blog; review is my own honest thought.

About the author

Elizabeth Foster read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds. Once she started writing, she never looked back. She’s at her happiest when immersed in stories, plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters. Elizabeth lives in Sydney, where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee.

Find Elizabeth on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook  | instagram  | pinterest

Come back tomorrow for Q&A with Elizabeth! 😀

Review: The Barrier by Shankari Chandran

The Barrier by Shankari Chandran

Twenty years ago an Ebola epidemic brought the world to the edge of oblivion.

The West won the war, the East was isolated behind a wall, and a vaccine against Ebola was developed. Peace prevailed.

Now Agent Noah Williams is being sent over the barrier to investigate a rogue scientist who risks releasing another plague. But why would a once-respected academic threaten the enforced vaccination program that ensures humans are no longer an endangered species?

Hunting for answers amid shootouts, espionage and murder, Noah will have to confront a fundamental question:

In the fight for survival, can our humanity survive too?

My Blurb (3 stars)

I do so want to support all Aussie authors and I think that was primarily my reason in picking this book up. The cover is attractive enough and it’s a dystopian thriller so that was enough reasoning for me to read it. I enjoyed most of it but I just didn’t realise that there was a lot of medical / biology factor in this book that just went over my head. I could never make sense of biology at school so this stuff was really beyond me, unfortunately, and took away what could be a truly exciting book.

The prologue was exciting and horrifying all at once. It was a very promising beginning but as this is a whole new post-apocalyptic world, it slowed right down with the required world building. It’s a very scary world when the world as we know it ended due to an epidemic. Certain powers then rose and stayed in control over the whole world (albeit behind the scene) after discovering the cure.

In this new world, religion and/or faith is prohibited and was unknowingly suppressed by the world power. However, there have been some terminal illness which appears to be related to faith. Or is it?

I loved the characterisation; all the broken, flawed, and conflicted characters. I loved this post-apocalyptic world which for me as a Christian (I have faith!) is very scary. While the world is seen to be united in their secular views but there was actually a lot of conflict under the surface. Is it better to have a world without any faith?

The only disappointment I have is really my fault or rather my lack of scientific mind. I just can’t get myself around the science stuff and got really bogged down so I just skimmed quite a bit of the book and found that I probably missed quite a bit of the plot. That ending though… wow, great plot & twist!

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

About the author

Shankari Chandran was raised in Canberra, Australia. She spent a decade in London, working as a lawyer in the social justice field. She eventually returned home to Australia, where she now lives with her husband, four children and their cavoodle puppy.

The Barrier is her second novel. Her first novel, The Song of the Sun Godexplores the recent history of Sri Lanka. She is currently working on her third book, also set there.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  | facebook

 

Review: Haxby’s Circus

Haxby’s Circus by Katharine Susannah Prichard

Run away to the circus with this book by award-winning Australian novelist Katharine Susannah Prichard.

A world of wandering mushroom tents, spawning on bare paddocks beside some small town and then off again … places that smelt of milk and wheat, where the farmer people gave you milk and apples, or melons; you got fresh water to drink and a bath sometimes. A dirty, strenuous world. Cruel, courageous, a hard, hungry world for all the glitter and flare of its laughter; but a good world, her world.

Welcome to Haxby’s Circus – the lightest, brightest little show on earth. From Bendigo to Narrabri, travelling the long and dusty roads between harvest fields, the Haxby family and their troupe – acrobats, contortionists, wirewalkers, clowns and wild beasts – perform under the glaring lights of the big top. But away from the spotlight and superficial glamour of the circus the real, and sometimes tragic, lives of the performers are exposed: their hopes and dreams, successes and failures, the drudgery of life on the road.

Proprietor Dan Haxby lives by the maxim ‘the show must go on’, even when his daughter Gina, the bareback rider, has a dreadful accident. Gina may never ride again, but, with some advice from circus dwarf Rocca, who shows her how to transform her liability into art, she flourishes and discovers a courageous spirit within.

My Blurb (3.5 stars)

An impulse buy based on:
1. eye-catching cover: PINK!
2. I love anything CIRCUS related
3. Sale bin
4. Aussie classics

Did it live up to expectations? Yes and No… it’s a very realistic tale of circus life from the point of view of a woman. I love the glamourous face of a circus. Ever since I read Enid Blyton’s Circus series, I’ve always been enamoured (and a bit jealous) of the adventures of circus folks. This novel, however, does not spare you the drudgery and hard work of that life. And in that way, it’s a realistic story but it also made the novel hard to bear as sometimes the author would list of what needs doing etc. I found this last bit a little boring.

Gina Haxby has just bloomed into womanhood with the admiration of the crowd when she fell and broke her back. She will never again ride her beautiful horses nor perform any acrobatic feats. While her back is hunched, she’s lucky to still be alive and able to walk though it didn’t feel like that to her. She then found a reason to live; to protect her weak baby brother from her father’s expectations. Once again, tragedy struck and she decided not to stay with the circus but took her mother and new baby sister away.

She could not stay away forever, however, as fate brought them all back together. This time, however, she is a woman of strength and can stand on her own. Her little sister is also a strong character of her own and together, they will bring the circus back to its brightest.

I didn’t pay that much attention to the blurb at the back of the book before I started reading so I really was surprised when the first tragedy struck (oops!). I was really heartbroken for Gina as she’s such a lovable character but of course, steel needs tempering and that’s what’s happened. It wasn’t an easy road for Gina but she’s traversed it with help from her loved ones and flourished despite all that life dealt her.

I’ve read one other of this author’s work, Coonardo, and it was such a hard book to read (nature of topic). Haxby’s Circus was also a bit of a struggle as it was such a hard life that I barely felt the excitement of the circus. Plus the way she did lists became annoying and dreary after the first couple of times. Still, I did like the characters and the descriptions of life in Australia in those days.

About the author

Katharine Susannah Prichard was born in Levuka, Fiji in 1883, and spent her childhood in Launceston, Tasmania, before moving to Melbourne, where she won a scholarship to South Melbourne College. Her father, Tom Prichard, was editor of the Melbourne Sun newspaper. She worked as a governess and journalist in Victoria then travelled to England in 1908. Her first novel, The Pioneers (1915), won the Hodder & Stoughton All Empire Literature Prize. After her return to Australia, the romance Windlestraws and her first novel of a mining community, Black Opal were published.

Prichard moved with her husband, war hero Hugo “Jim” Throssell, VC, to Greenmount, Western Australia, in 1920 and lived at 11 Old York Road for much of the rest of her life. She wrote most of her novels and stories in a self-contained weatherboard workroom near the house. In her personal life she always referred to herself as Mrs Hugo Throssell. She had one son, Ric Throssell, later a diplomat and writer.

#LoveOzYA Bingo Challenge: Wrap up

BINGO!!! BINGO!!! BINGO!!! BINGO!!! BINGO!!!

Wow! Can’t believe I made it 😀

My deepest thanks to The YA Room for running this challenge! I’ve actually made a little dent on my TBR 😉 And I’ve had such a good reading month to end the year with! #LoveOzYA has so much to offer our teens (& teen-in-hearts such as myself); tackling critical life issues, establishing identity, and sometimes, saving the world too :p

Below images are from my insta feed as I read for the challenge

 

Written by 2 or more Aussie authors: Puberty Blues by Kathe Lette & Gabrielle Carey -read 2/12 (my blurb)
Set in your state (NSW): Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle -read 7/12 (I’ve not post a review yet but gosh, my favourite to date!)
Shortlisted for the Gold Inky Award: One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn -read 20/12
Strong Friendship Element: Swarm (Zeroes #2) by Scott Westerfeld, Deborah Biancotti, & Margo Lanagan -read 30/12
A Book you’d like to see Adapted: The Road to Winterby Mark Smith read 8/12
Part of a series: Vulpi (Thyla #1) by Kate Gordon -read 26/12
Written by an Indigenous Author: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina read 10/12
Set in the Past: Me and Rory Macbeath by Richard Beasley read 14/12
Mental Health Rep: The Things I Didn’t Say by Kylie Fornasier -read 29/12
Male Protagonist: The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett read 11/12
Young (Under 25) Author: Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle -read 28/12
Marginalised Protagonist: Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah read 18/12
Free Space: Thyla (Thyla #1) by Kate Gordon -read 24/12
Set in a Small Town: Brown Skin Blue by Belinda Jeffrey -read 27/12
Debut Novel: Fury by Shirley Marr read 15/12
Includes an Indigenous Character: Deadly, Unna? by Phillip Gwynne -read 22/12
Set After High School: The Convent by Maureen MacCarthy read 19/12
Published by a Small Press: Esme’s Wishes by Elizabeth Foster -read 31/12
A Book You Related To: Laurinda by Alice Pung read 17/12 (Most INTENSE read EVA!)
#OwnVoices: Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim -read 28/12
Aussie Spec Fic: Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres -read 26/12
2017 Release: Draekora by Lynette Noni read 6/12
Queer Romance: The Flywheel by Erin Gough -read 29/12
Self Published: It Came from the Deep by Maria Lewis read 18/12
Set in the City: Frankie by Shivoun Plozza -read 27/12

“Bingo!” – #LoveOzYA Bingo Challenge

BINGO!!!

Woo hoo! I’m so excited 😀

I have planned a book for each square (25 in total) but I am playing another challenge at the same time so it all depends on what book is picked for me to read. Hence, I’ve actually read 12 books out of the 25 BUT it’s all over the place and only got my first Bingo! now.

The orange stars on the Bingo sheet below noted squares I’ve read and the red line is my Bingo!

Written by 2 or more Aussie authors: Puberty Blues by Kathe Lette & Gabrielle Carey -read 2/12 (my blurb)
Set in your state (NSW): Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle -read 7/12 (I’ve not post a review yet but gosh, my favourite to date!)
Shortlisted for the Gold Inky Award: One Would Think the Deep by Claire Zorn
Strong Friendship Element: Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Deborah Biancotti, & Margo Lanagan
A Book you’d like to see Adapted: The Road to Winterby Mark Smith read 8/12
Part of a series: Vulpi by Kate Gordon
Written by an Indigenous Author: The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina read 10/12
Set in the Past: Me and Rory Macbeath by Richard Beasley read 14/12
Mental Health Rep: The Things I Didn’t Say by Kylie Fornasier
Male Protagonist: The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett read 11/12
Young (Under 25) Author: Breathing Under Water by Sophie Hardcastle
Marginalised Protagonist: Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah read 18/12
Free Space: Thyla by Kate Gordon
Set in a Small Town: Brown Skin Blue by Belinda Jeffrey
Debut Novel: Fury by Shirley Marr read 15/12
Includes an Indigenous Character: Deadly, Unna? by Phillip Gwynne
Set After High School: The Convent by Maureen MacCarthy read 19/12
Published by a Small Press: Esme’s Wishes by Elizabeth Foster
A Book You Related To: Laurinda by Alice Pung read 17/12 (Most INTENSE read EVA!)
#OwnVoices: Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim
Aussie Spec Fic: Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres
2017 Release: Draekora by Lynette Noni read 6/12
Queer Romance: The Flywheel by Erin Gough
Self Published: It Came from the Deep by Maria Lewis read 18/12
Set in the City: Frankie by Shivoun Plozza

How are you all going with your #LoveOzYA Bingo Challenge?

Review: Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette & Gabrielle Carey

Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette & Gabrielle Carey

Written twenty years ago, Puberty Blues is the bestselling account of growing up in the 1970s that took Australia by storm and spawned an eponymous cult movie. It also marked the starting point of Kathy Lette’s writing career, which sees her now as an author at the forefront of her field.

Puberty Blues is about top chicks and surfie spunks and the kids who don’t quite make the cut: it recreates with fascinating honesty a world where only the gang and the surf count. It’s a hilarious and horrifying account of the way many teenagers live and some of them die. Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey’s insightful novel is as painfully true today as it ever was.

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Ok, wow, now I get all the controversy surrounding this book! I still don’t know whether to cry or laugh…

Cry because it’s saddened me, as an older woman, to hear these young teens (starting at 13 when they still haven’t had their periods yet) giving in to sex just cuz it’s what the boys wanted. And sorry but those boys sound like such losers! Gorgeous maybe but err all the girls did was what the boys wanted to do; I wanted to scream!!

Laugh because well, weren’t we all boy crazy at that age? I didn’t get to any of the shenanigans these girls got up to but then again, my life was very sheltered and I did go to a private Catholic girls school where most girls in my class are rather intelligent so yea… but I did remember the slathering baby oil to sunbath; ah, those were the days.

This book was set in the 70s so please do take that into consideration when reading. If you are a parent, be prepared for a fully open & honest conversation with your teens. If you are a teen, please please please have a chat with a trusted adult especially with your questions.

Really, these girls were just dreaming of romance and why shouldn’t they? We dream of romance at any and every age; I still do 😉 I am, however, thoroughly GLAD (capitals required to stress my feelings) with the ending. You go, girls!