Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: More Than Us- Dawn Barker – Guest Post – 4* Review

When parents disagree on how to care for their child, is it justifiable to take extreme measures?

Emily and Paul have a glorious home, money in the bank and two beautiful children. Since leaving Scotland for Paul to play football for an Australian team they have been blessed. But sadness lies behind the picture-perfect family – sixteen-year-old Cameron has battled with health troubles his entire life. There’s no name for what he has, but his disruptive behaviour, OCD, and difficulty in social situations is a constant source of worry. 

When Paul’s career comes to a shuddering halt, he descends into a spiral of addiction, gambling away the family’s future. By the time he seeks help, it’s his new boss Damien who recommends and pays for a rehab facility.

While Paul is away, Emily has to make a tough decision about their son. She keeps it from Paul knowing he’ll disapprove. And when a terrible accident reveals the truth, Paul takes his son and goes on the run, leaving Emily to care for fourteen-year-old Tilly, who unbeknown to her parents is fighting battles of her own.

Can the family join together for the sake of their loved ones, or will their troubles tear them apart?

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

More Than Us FB coveer

Guest Post – Dawn Barker

The writing process for More Than Us 

First of all, thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m very excited that More Than Us is out now!

More Than Us is my third novel, so I’d hoped I’d be a more efficient writer this time around, but it took me longer to write than either my first book, Fractured or my second, Let Her Go!

Generally, when I write, I start with a vague idea of a particular character or issue that I find intriguing and complicated. For More Than Us, this was the idea of a family disagreeing about the mental health treatment of their child. This is not unusual, and as a child psychiatrist, it’s something that I see quite often in my practice. I also see strong views in the wider society about both the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues on children, both from the point of view of overdiagnosis and treatment (that I believe does sometimes happen), and the other extreme, people who do not believe that there is any place for psychiatrists in the treatment of children. I believe that the reality is somewhere between these opposing views, and wanted to explore that in fiction.

I began writing the first draft of More Than Us many years ago; I remember talking about it while I was living in Cape Town, over four years ago. At the time, I had just finished editing my second novel, and my mind was starting to look for new ideas.

Generally, when I write the first draft, I set myself a daily target of 500 words per day. I don’t plan what I’m going to write, or outline chapters or the plot, I just write scenes and characters and let them develop along the way. I’m not sure this is the most efficient way of writing, but it’s the way I’ve always done it! With More Than Us, knowing that I now had three young children, and was going back to work, I aimed for 1000 words a day just to get to the end of the first draft. I believe that getting all the ideas on to the page without worrying about how good or bad they are, is essential.

I then put the draft away. I had released my second book, Let Her Go, in Australia, and so was touring around promoting that, and I had gone back to work as all three of my daughters had started school. After spending a couple of years working hard on writing and promoting my first two books, I needed a break from it for a while.

In 2017, Canelo published Let Her Go, and I was thrilled when they said they would also like to publish my third novel…a year later! I panicked a little, as by now I was working essentially full-time, and busy with my family, but I know I work better with a deadline and agreed. I then opened up the draft of More Than Us on my computer…and panicked some more!

For the next six months, I wrote a second draft. I found it frustrating not to be able to work on it every day, as I had with my first two books, but also had to accept that I needed to work, and ultimately, family time was more important than writing when my children weren’t at school. I then wrote a third draft, this time having turned down some work and taken some time off my day job to fit it in, and then a fourth and a fifth… Finally, after many 4 am starts, I submitted More Than Us to my agent, and then to Canelo, at the end of 2017. The early part of this year was taken up by edits, and I’m so pleased that it has finally been published!

It’s been a lesson for me to accept that it’s not always easy to find the balance between writing and real life, but the satisfaction and excitement of finishing a 100000-word project is worth it!

Thanks again for having me on your blog and I hope you enjoy reading More Than Us.

My Thoughts…

Mental health issues are discussed more openly in the 21st-century, and this story examines the two extremes of ignoring mental health problems or labelling every behavioural difference as a mental health issue for a fictional family in Austrailia.

The scenarios portrayed are believable, and the differing parental reactions to their children’s behaviour are well-researched both regarding mental health facts and differing viewpoints on mental health. The family experiences addiction, depression, obsessive behaviour and low self-esteem issues and the circumstances surrounding them are authentic, and the strain on family relations is convincing.

Written from the two parents points of view, they view the same issues differently, which makes for discord, fear and finally understanding. There is no jargon overload, despite the book’s detailed content. What comes across is the human reactions to the problems they face and their differing ways of solving them.

A sensitively written story that examines mental health issues in children and parents and how they are perceived and resolved.

I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Dawn Barker is a psychiatrist and author. She grew up in Scotland, then in 2001 she moved to Australia, completed her psychiatric training and began writing. Her first novel, Fractured, was selected for the 2010 Hachette/Queensland Writers Centre manuscript development programme, was one of Australia’s bestselling debut fiction titles for 2013, and was shortlisted for the 2014 WA Premier’s Book Awards. Her second novel is Let Her Go. Dawn lives in Perth with her husband and three young children.

Twitter: @drdawnbarker

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Unmasked -4* Review Stefanie London

 

Lainey Kline has one goal before she leaves Melbourne forever: transform herself into a sexy siren, sneak into the season’s most glamorous masquerade ball and seduce Damian McKnight. Only there’s a teeny little problem — one deliciously hot night isn’t nearly enough. Now Lainey wants more. But while getting naked is one thing, taking off their masks is quite another…

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

Masquerade balls evoke images of mystery, romance and secrets, ‘Unmasked’ encompasses all of these elements in a contemporary setting.

Lainey is leaving Melbourne and her friends for a fantastic career opportunity, but is she taking the next step in her future life or running? Her teenage crush on her best friend’s older brother grows into love, but he doesn’t see her that way? Damien has a failed marriage and hidden self-esteem issues, at odds with his successful career. Damien’s attraction for Lainey is inconvenient and something he is not going to explore despite her provocation.

The chance to act out her greatest fantasy before he leaves is something Lainey must do, and so she gatecrashes an ‘A’List, charity ball that the object of her desire is attending. The love scenes are sensual and explicit, but in keeping with the ‘Dare’genre and mirrored by the emotional intensity of the hidden feelings, Lainey and Damien have for the other.  There is a lovely ‘Cinderella’ like twist after Lainey’s night at the ball.  Passion, romance and steamy moments make this an enjoyable, fast-paced, sexy read.

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

A Place to Remember – Jenn McLeod – 5* Review

A multi-generational contemporary romantic saga set in a cattle ranch in Central Queensland, Australia.

A man loses five years of his life. Two women are desperate for him to remember.

Running away for the second time in her life, twenty-seven-year-old Ava believes the cook’s job at a country B&B is perfect until she meets the owner’s son, John Tate.

The young fifth-generation grazier is a beguiling blend of both man, boy and a terrible flirt. With their connection immediate and intense, they begin a clandestine affair right under the noses of John’s formidable parents.

Thirty years later, Ava returns to Candlebark Creek with her daughter, Nina, who is determined to meet her mother’s lost love for herself. While struggling to find her own place in the world, Nina discovers an urban myth about a love-struck man, a forgotten engagement ring, and a dinner reservation back in the eighties. Now she must decide if revealing the truth will hurt more than it heals…

Links to buy

 Amazon: http://amzn.to/2GuGNjy

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2EJp6Ag

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2HyCS6U

iBooks: https://apple.co/2odYDRn

A Place to Remember

Extract

Candlebark Creek, 1985–6

Chapter 1

Young Ava

The massive slab of varnished wood was the biggest tabletop twenty-seven-year-old Ava had ever seen. Still, she almost doubted it could hide the nervous jig in her legs that both hands pressing firmly on failed to stop. She hoped the folder’s contents would be enough to convince the lady of the house that she was perfect for the position.

‘I did say on the telephone that the role is a varied one and not all cookery and not only when we have guests staying. No one on a property like Ivy-May can afford to be picky or precious about their jobs.’ It was fifteen minutes into the interview, and the woman’s expression had yet to shift into anything close to a smile. ‘Your time off is your own, but we all do our share.’

Marjorie Tate paused before slowly rolling up her sleeves as if driving home the point. The action offered Ava a glimpse of hardworking hands: stubby and tanned with a simple gold wedding band and bitten-down nails. Somewhere around forty or forty-five, the B-and-B operator wasn’t old, just plain, as though all her effort went into something other than herself.

‘I do consider myself versatile, Mrs Tate, and I’m always keen to learn new things. I’d also have little need for days off in a town like Candlebark Creek. There aren’t many places to go or things to do.’

For that careless statement, Ava got a raised eyebrow and a minute of the clock ticking above the stove.

‘You seem young to have had so many jobs, although you have provided an impressive CV and an extensive portfolio of dishes.’

‘Thirteen years in the workforce.’ Ava sat straight and proud. ‘The last eleven in hospitality.’ She could see the woman mentally subtracting eleven from twenty-seven. ‘And I was never fired from a job,’ she added, sounding a little too enthusiastic. ‘Some were set contracts, some seasonal. Hospitality can be like that.’

‘Ivy-May B-and-B might be small and out of the way, but I’m aware of the industry’s many facets.’ Marjorie Tate flicked through the plastic sleeves of the folder. She stopped again on the résumé at the front. ‘You have no school certificate listed.’

‘I left school when I turned fifteen.’

‘Before exams?’ Another raised eyebrow, another flick through the folder’s many photographs.

Never before had Ava’s lack of formal qualifications been an issue. Hands-on experience was what landed you a kitchen job, and every role, from waiting tables to making desserts, had added to Ava’s expertise and skills. As confident as she was about her abilities, she still sat with her hands clasped between her knees, fingers crossed.

‘Our son finished high school a couple of years ago and did well. John’s a bit of a dreamer, although there’s no doubting his passion for the land.’ The grazier’s wife with the moon-shaped face – taut, shiny skin, rosy cheeks – reminded Ava of a wooden babushka doll, with its rotund face and multiple hidden layers. The unexpected softness in her voice when she’d spoken her son’s name revealed one. ‘Naturally, he was keen to finish studying early to work with his father. John’s very capable and quite mature for his age. Children in these parts tend to grow up quickly,’ she added. ‘No choice out here. Operating heavy machinery and working bulls requires a sensible head on robust shoulders. But as much as the property had needed more hands at the time, I insisted John stay on at school.’ She peered over the top of thick black spectacle frames. ‘The value of a proper education should not be underestimated. Dreams are more achievable with a thorough education, and it shows discipline. Smart employers insist on such qualities.’

Ava nodded, forcing a smile. Was the woman telling her she was no longer a suitable candidate? Should she try speaking to her feminine side and explain what had happened to drive her from the city to hide in an out-of-the-way country town? Marjorie Tate was more likely to find fault because Ava had allowed herself to be put in such a position in the first place. Unfortunately, Zac had not come with a warning plastered on his forehead. At least he couldn’t find her here and affect her employment chances.

Could he?

My Thoughts…

It’s rare for a story to make me cry, but this tale of lost chances and the abiding love of a mother and daughter did. An epic tale, set in Queensland, Austrailia, Ava and Nina’s story spans over thirty years. You can’t recapture the past, but Ava finds it is not the case but is she prepared to risk her heart again?

Vividly described, you get a sense of the wildness and beauty of the dramatic setting, but mostly the land is unforgiving and demands everything from those who work it. I’ve never visited Australia and probably never will, but this story lets me travel there in my imagination.

It takes a while to get into this story, but each twist and heartbreak and risk Ava takes, draws you into her world past and present until you are emotionally involved and want her to have a happy ending, even when it seems unlikely.

The characters are believable, and their life events realistic, not everything falls into place as Ava’s past collides with her present, but there is hope. She is successful in her career and more importantly her family life, even though she has never forgotten the man she loved and left.

I read the ‘Thorn Birds’ about forty years ago when I was a teenager and still remember it now, and similarly, I think the emotion and poignancy of this story will stay with me too. If you get the chance, read this.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

JENN J MCLEOD photo

After leaving the corporate working world, Jenn J. McLeod decided to travel Australia in a fifth-wheeler caravan and fulfil her lifelong ambition to write. She has since published four novels.

Website: https://www.jennjmcleod.com/

Twitter: @jennjmcleod

Facebook: JennJMcLeod.books

 

 

Posted in Book Spotlight, New Books, Release Day Spotlight

ECHOES of the Past -Iris Blobel – Release Day Spotlight

ECHOES OF THE PAST by Iris Blobel

Fermosa Bay #1

New Adult Contemporary Romance

::: SYNOPSIS ::::

Emily Bradshaw waited over twenty years to see Connor again…

When her childhood friend, Connor Walsh, returns home to see his ailing father, Emily is elated to be reunited with the handsome man who moved to London so many years ago. But excitement fades to disappointment when he doesn’t remember her—or their first kiss. With her crush on Connor still in full swing, she’s determined to enjoy the short time he’s in Fermosa Bay, even though she knows her heart will break when he returns to his life in London.

When Connor receives news that his biological father is terminally ill, he returns to Fermosa Bay, Australia. 

With memories of his childhood tucked fondly in the back of his mind, returning to the small, coastal town leaves him to wonder how life would have been if his mother had never taken him away. Would he have been married and had children? Perhaps with Emily Bradshaw…

 Secrets from long ago begin to unfold…

As Connor and his father grow closer, Connor learns his parents have a broken love story of their own. Will the echoes of the past lure him into staying, maybe for good? Or will he relive his parents’ tragic story and flee to London? 

Walking away from a real chance at true love…

::: NOW AVAILABLE :::

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/23ZYPS5

AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/23ZYVJw

AMAZON AU: http://bit.ly/23ZZ27R

Iris 

 ::: MEET THE AUTHOR :::

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only emerged recently, but now her laptop is a constant companion.

Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her two beautiful daughters.

Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

 CONNECT WITH IRIS BLOBEL:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IrisBlobel

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_iris_b

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4067254.Iris_Blobel

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