Review for “360 Degrees Longitude”– Family travel read!

41Y9TF5yrbL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

I’ve just finished reading 360 Degrees Longitude: One Family’s Journey Around the World, about the Higham family’s one-year travel journey.

There was a brief moment at the start of the book where I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it. John Higham, his wife, September, and their two kids, Katrina (11) and Jordan (8) had been planning and saving for this trip for years. The family of four started out on tandem bikes: one parent on front, one kid peddling behind. And while I absolutely admired them for doing so, I quickly decided the book might not be for me. Cycling just doesn’t reel me in.

But then (*SPOILER ALERT*)…

Read more

Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant – Review

Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant – Review

9780857982193

Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant walked the fine line between an entertaining memoir and a bitter hatchet job on an ex employer, and for the most part it walked that line well. It’s a chatty and interesting look into a fascinating world, and how that world has changed.

Owen Beddall was a Qantas flight attendant for 15 years before a work injury saw the company he loved turn on him. He lifts the lid on the flight attendant lifestyle: the exotic destinations and five star hotels; the parties, drugs and celebrity gossip.

As a traveller, I found the different routes fascinating; I loved reading about the countries Owen based himself in and the hierarchy for different flights. It’s clear this is Beddall’s revenge on Qantas, and at times that’s a little uncomfortable, but mostly I enjoyed reading about the company ethics, workplace politics and what goes on in the galley while we passengers are belted into our seats.

Reading Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant was like sitting down with a gay friend and a bottle of Chardonnay as he related all his fabulous tales to you. When I saw the thanks to the ghost writer in the acknowledgements I wondered if that’s what actually happened—she just transcribed what Beddall said over a bottle of vino. It had that flow to it. It was conversational and reeled you in.

There were bits I skipped over, and I would’ve liked to read more about Beddall’s background, but overall it was a thoroughly entertaining read.

I received a copy via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

Desert Queen: the many lives and loves of Daisy Bates

Desert Queen: the many lives and loves of Daisy Bates

51irg8s91ZL

Daisy Bates in not an easy biography subject. The woman built a web of lies around herself when she was younger, and later in life burned all her personal papers. Susanna de Vries has done a solid job researching, unraveling and telling the story of this fascinating woman. Desert Queen isn’t a great biography, but it’s highly readable and you can’t really go wrong with the subject matter.

Daisy Bates emigrated from Ireland to Australia in 1883. Aware that her prospects were dim, she lied about her family and background, in the hope of securing herself a favorable marriage. Instead, she briefly married Breaker Morant, followed by two bigamous marriages, and had her only child, Arnold. She became a journalist, and later an anthropologist, albeit an unrecognized one in academic circles.

It was her work with Australia’s indigenous people that set her apart from other women of her time. She lived in a tent in harsh conditions and spent years writing down their stories. She recorded hunting territories and boundaries, and these records are used today in land rights claims. She nursed and fed sick aboriginal people, using her time with them to gather information about their cultural practices and languages. Her work remains controversial. She self-funded all her work, often writing pieces about aboriginal cannibalism, knowing it would sell, but which ultimately harmed her anthropological reputation.

De Vries does a solid job at capturing both the fascinating and frustrating aspects of this complex character, but I had some problems with the book. I didn’t like how she regularly assumed to know how Daisy felt, despite there being no record of that moment. Also, she puts forward a couple of pretty outrageous theories as if they are fact. And the final part of the book, which tells of Daisy’s spiral into dementia might as well be fiction. Daisy was never diagnosed with dementia.

This aside, it’s an interesting tale about a fascinating woman. I do love my female traveller tales, and Daisy’s story is a good one, and Desert Queen a decent telling of it.

The Fault in Our Stars review

The Fault in Our Stars review

Stars

I bought The Fault in Our Stars for my stepson for his birthday. Fortunately he’s a fast reader and I didn’t have to wait long to get my hands on it.

This is a beautiful book. John Green has delivered a touching, wise tale. It’s smart, and pulls all the right strings emotionally. There was nothing groundbreaking about the book, but it is a lovely story, well told.

16-year-old Hazel meets Augustus Waters at a cancer support group and they fall in love. Together, they search for the author of a book she adores, and when they find him living in Amsterdam, they use the equivalent of the Make A Wish foundation to travel there to meet him.

I’d heard and read quite a lot about The Fault in Our Stars before reading it, and it certainly lived up to my expectations. However, a lot of people I know talked about how much they cried at the end of this book, and considering I’m a huge sop, I had the tissues ready. I shed a few tears throughout, but to me the end wasn’t sad. It wasn’t happy either. It just was… It didn’t tear me apart… instead, the story, and the characters linger.

I loved the idea that these characters track down an author because they need to know what happened to the characters from their favourite book, after the story had ended. I’m curious to know how these characters fare after this book ends. (Especially Hazel’s parents.) But I’ll refrain from asking John Green.

A wonderful read. With Hazel travelling to Amsterdam, the book even falls into the Roadmance category.

I’m now looking forward to the movie.

 

Review for All Good Things by Sarah Turnbull

Review for All Good Things by Sarah Turnbull

AllGoodThings

All Good Things is Sarah Turnbull’s long awaited follow up book to her bestseller, Almost French. I adored Almost French. It was a rather rollicking read, where love and Paris and adventure dripped from each page and made me want some of it myself. So I was excited to hear she’d released another book, about her and her husband Frederic’s move to Tahiti.

All Good Things is very different. Not worse, but different. She’s different. Older, wiser, perhaps more damaged by disappointment. I downloaded this book expecting a Take Two type of read, only this time set in Tahiti, but instead found myself immersed in the story of a woman who was battling fertility treatments and the unfulfilled desire to be a mother. And yes, the couple moved to Tahiti during this time, so the book was also about that, and the isolation she felt while she was there.

Despite these more serious themes, once again it’s well written and I read it in a day, wanting to know how this journey, both geographically and internally, turned out for Sarah. I won’t give away too much, but I cried.

Not quite what I was expecting, but a lovely read all the same. Definitely a Roadmance read.

3.5 stars.

Legless and blind heroes … and we don’t mean drunk

What happens when the romance novel hero is legless or blind? Amy Andrews and Jane Tara both think that’s just fine… in fact, their latest heroes are more than “fine”… They are hawt and handsome and everything else a hero should be.

 Amy Andrews and her legless leading man

9780373207404-1

I’ve always wanted to write a bodyguard book. I love that delicious tension where he wants her bad but can’t do anything about it because he’s supposed to be protecting her. Honestly, I freaking love that hands off shit! It just calls to my ever-lovin’ romance soul.

So imagine my delight when my muse threw me one, finally! She’s really been very recalcitrant in that quarter. But, of course, she never just gives generously – she makes me work for it. She’s kinda bitchy like that because suddenly my “bodyguard” was an above knee amputee.

WTF??

I can’t have a hero who has to protect my super-model heroine from the bad guy be hampered by a prosthetic leg. I mean who ever heard of a one-legged bodyguard? I could, of course, have made him an ex kick-arse para-Olympic running champion but Oscar kinda put the kybosh on that!

So there I was, with my muse insisting and me wondering how the hell I was going to pull it off. But then things started to take shape in my head and before long I knew Blake was ex-military, I knew he’d had his leg blown off in Iraq and I knew after a harrowing couple of years he was in a reasonably good place.

And I think that was the most important thing to me. I didn’t want the book to be about an amputee hero.  The book is about an average Joe who falls for a woman waaaay out of his league. It’s a romance through and through. He just happens to have one leg.

It was also important that I made him physically strong and able. He may have a slight limp, he may not be able to run like the wind but he’s fit and work-honed.  He crafts wood and his pride and joy is the canal boat he spent a year of his life stripping down to the hull and renovating. Nothing like noisy power tools to help get your head back on straight.

And of course, all this is just code for good with his hands. Because Blake may only have one leg but he is very, very good with his hands!

Amy Andrews is an award-winning, best-selling Aussie author who has written thirty + contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets. She writes for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Entangled, Harper Collins and Momentum.

To date she’s sold over a million books and been translated into thirteen different languages including manga.

She loves her kids, her husband, her dogs, cowboys, men in tool belts, cowboys in tool belts and happily ever afters. Please, DO NOT mess with the HEA! Also good books, fab food, great wine and frequent travel – preferably all four together.

She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane with a gorgeous mountain view but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany.

Jane Tara’s blind hero

My favourite vamp and her real life boyfriend inspired me when writing this story.
My favourite vamp and her real life boyfriend inspired me when writing this story.

When starting a new novel I usually have a clear idea of what I’m going to write. I’m not one of those let’s just wing it and see where we end up type authors. My characters are too pushy. If I let them have their own way one of them could go off the rails, party too hard and wake up married in a Vegas jail. My characters are like teenagers… Yes, they have certain freedoms, but they also need a lot of structure…

But the occasional character will stroll in, pretend to be all nice and easy-going… but then actually take the book in a direction that even I didn’t anticipate. I don’t get much of a say.

My latest book, The Happy Ending Book Club, contains one such character. The book has seven intertwined stories. In one of them (my favourite… there I’ve said it!) we meet Patrick. He’s tall, sexy… He’s a musician, he’s funny and smart… he has muscles… Sigh. Oh, and he’s blind.

No, not blind as in Friday nights at the pub blind… he’s really blind. Visually impaired.

He has a disability.

Romance heroes are notoriously “perfect.” Oh yes, they can have emotional wounds, but being anything less than physically flawless is unusual. I spent a lot of time trying to rewrite Patrick… but he was immovable… He made it clear: “Like it or not, this is who I am. I’m blind. Now do your job and write me!”

And so I did. More than that, I developed a massive crush on him. I saw him more clearly than any of my other leading men. His blindness didn’t make him less attractive. It didn’t make him needy. It also didn’t make him “extra special.” His blindness didn’t define him at all. Tilda the heroine recognised that being with him would present certain challenges, but her own issues far outweighed his.

In my mind, Patrick is everything a romance hero should be. For those of you who read my book, let me know how you see him.

Jane Tara has SchizoPENia. She finds it impossible to stick to one genre when writing. While most writers have a ‘voice’ … she has a few … her pen name should be Sybil.

She’s the author of over twenty children’s picture books, a number of plays, and three novels. By day, she runs Itchee Feet, a children’s travel publishing company with her partner Dominique. At night another voice is unleashed and she writes magical romantic comedies. Forecast, Trouble Brewing, and her latest novel, The Happy Endings Book Club are published by Momentum.

After years living in Tokyo, Vienna, London and New York, Jane is happy to call Bondi Beach home. She lives with her partner Dom and their four sons. Wine helps with that.

TheHappyEndingsBookClub_Jane_Tara

 

The Happy Endings Book Club

TheHappyEndingsBookClub_Jane_Tara

This Christmas, the women of the Happy Endings Book Club are about to uncover a world of love and magic as they discover how to have their own happy ending … or beginning, as they’re often the same thing.

Once a month, seven very different women come together to discuss books. They all love a happy ending, but have lost sight of how to get their own. Paige misses glimpsing the magic in the world. Sadie doesn’t see the beauty inside people. Amanda wonders what she ever saw in her ex husband. Tilda literally can’t see herself. Michi can’t bear looking at her family, while Clementine is blind to what’s right in front of her. And Eva looks for romance in all the wrong places.

But things are about to change …

Meet the women of the Happy Endings Book Club as they celebrate Christmas, and themselves, in London, Paris, Vienna, New York, Sydney … and in love.

Holding Out For A Hero by Amy Andrews … Out Now!

9781760080327_Holding-Out-for-a-Hero_cover1

Holding out For A Hero, by my friend Amy Andrews is out NOW!!! This is Amy’s thirty trillionth book… well not quite, but the woman is prolific, and she writes like a woman who knows her craft. Plus she’s hilarious. So support an Aussie author, and grab your copy now. Check out these reviews:

Holding Out For A Hero is a fun sexy contemporary with an Australian flavour…” – Kaetrin’s Musings

“A funny, smexy contemporary romance with absolutely unique characters that are easy to love.” – Harlequin Junkie

“A heartwarming and inspiring story of never giving up, friendship, family and letting go.” – Beauty and Lace

“Intriguing, passionate, emotional and fun…” – Contemporary Romance Reviews

“Andrews’ ability to capture the ups and downs of familial relationships has never been in doubt, but here it adds a depth to what is essentially a love story.” – Exploits of a Chick Lit Aficionado 

Do yourself a favour and grab a copy now.

Want more incentive? Here’s the blurb:

When sensible schoolteacher Ella Lucas rides into her home town on a Harley and seduces the resident football hero, Jake Prince, she figures she can be forgiven and move on. After all, she’s just buried her mother.

Two years later, back in the city, their paths cross again but this time Jake is in the process of destroying her favourite dive bar. With her home facing a wrecker’s ball, her school being closed down and her 15-year-old brother hell bent on self-destruction, it’s the last straw. Throw in a dominatrix best friend who is dating a blue ribbon guy so straight he still lives at home with his mother, it’s no wonder the sanest person in Ella’s life is a dog.

With all this to contend with, the last thing Ella needs is Jake back in her life. But, as fate would have it, Jake is the only chance she has to save her school.

As the school football season heats up, old secrets threaten to surface and Ella takes on greedy developers, school boards and national tabloids. But can she save not just her home, her school and her brother, but also the reputation of the man she’s never been able to forget? And, more importantly, does she want to?

Holding Out for a Hero is a quirky, heartwarming tale of unlikely romance, friendship and family.