Guest Review: Fool’s Gold – Fleur McDonald

Fools Gold

Fool’s Gold

Fleur McDonald

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760293963

Description:

‘To Dave, the posting to Barrabine was exactly what he’d wanted – it was a town on the edge, the wild west. There would be excitement, mystery and intrigue here. Everything a detective looked for.’

Detective Dave Burrows’ first posting to the far West goldfields town of Barrabine holds everything he’s looking for but Melinda, his wife of two weeks, is devastated at leaving behind her family, friends and career. More comfortable in heels than RM Williams, Melinda walked away from her much-loved job in the city as a paediatric nurse to follow Dave into the bush.

Dave settles in easily to the plain-speaking toughness of his new town, determined to do well, knowing that Barrabine could be his stepping stone into the elite Stock Squad. But will his marriage last the distance?

As Dave investigates reports of mysterious late-night trespassing, a missing person, and guns being drawn on strangers, a local prospector phones in with horrific news that could hold the key to everything…

Fleur McDonald’s bestselling rural storytelling makes Fool’s Gold, the first book in the Detective Dave Burrows series, a compelling and exciting beginning.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Only two weeks since their wedding and Detective Dave Burrows arrived with his wife Melinda in the small outback goldfields town of Barrabine in Western Australia. The dust and sparse landscape looked inviting to him, but Melinda was a city girl. She’d resigned her position as a paediatric nurse at a Perth hospital and Dave hoped she could get another at the local hospital. He hoped she would settle in and make friends before too long.

Dave enjoyed the camaraderie with his partner, Spencer and the other members of the force at the small station – he was to find the friendliness of the locals was normal; apart from those who wanted to avoid the cops. But the local prospectors were a crusty lot, and gradually Dave met them all. It was the day one of those miners called the station to report something suspicious that found Dave investigating a far more sinister occurrence than the normal small crimes of Barrabine.

Would Dave discover the answers to the strange events happening in the area? There were secrets, he knew that, but uncovering them might be more difficult than he realised.

Fool’s Gold by Aussie author Fleur McDonald is another excellent romantic suspense novel which I loved. And with this being the 1st in the Detective Dave Burrows series, it is set in 1997 as it tells his story, taking the popular detective back to his beginnings. I first met him in Sapphire Falls and then again in Suddenly One Summer. I’m loving going back to when he started in the force as he gets involved in the intense and gritty crimes of a small community, and very much looking forward to the second in the series. Highly recommended.

A 5 star recommendation.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin AU for my ARC to read and review.

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Guest Post:Six Ways to Sunday – Karly Lane

Six Ways to Sunday

Six Ways to Sunday

Karly Lane

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760296766

 

Description:

When city naturopath Rilee Summers meets gorgeous farmer Dan Kincaid, sparks fly. A whirlwind romance follows, and the next thing Rilee knows she’s married and living on her husband’s family property in a small rural community.

Never one to shy from a challenge, Rilee is determined to win over her in-laws and the townsfolk of nearby Pallaburra, but her city ways and outspoken views only seem to alienate her further.

Opening her own naturopathy practice has always been her dream. Although Pallaburra isn’t Sydney, and despite the fact she’s not exactly inundated with new clients, she’s not ready to give up. Things get even worse for Rilee when she champions the issue of teen pregnancies in the deeply conservative town.

Worn down by the ill-will towards her and what she sees as Dan’s lack of support, Rilee flees the station to think about the future. Can her marriage survive – or is she destined to leave Dan and move back to the city?

Six Ways to Sunday is a rip-roaring tale about a woman determined to stand up for her convictions even at the risk of jeopardising the future she envisaged with the man she loves.

Brenda’s Review:

Rilee Summers had her life’s path planned out in front of her. A naturopath, her dream was to open her own practice in Sydney – the past four years of working at the local pub while she studied had brought those dreams closer. But when she met Dan Kincaid, she had no idea her plans were set to change; Dan was a farmer from the property, Thumb Creek, near the small New South Wales town of Pallaburra. Three months after they met, they were married and Rilee was steeling herself to meet Dan’s parents…

Ellen and Jacob Kincaid were shocked and dismayed to meet Rilee – and didn’t bother to hide it. Over time their attitude toward her didn’t soften and Rilee felt she was fighting an uphill battle. But still, she did everything she could to have Dan’s parents like her – but whatever she did, they rejected.

Rilee could see that Pallaburra needed help – no doctor in town, and only a pharmacy with an old-fashioned pharmacist whose outdated ideas beggared belief. She was determined to open her naturopath practice, but the community weren’t interested and did their best to stop her in her tracks. Was it worth the battle? Rilee was starting to wonder.

But it was when Dan’s support for her plans vanished like they’d never been that Rilee had had enough. Her future looked grim – in fact she was no longer sure if any of it was worth fighting for anymore…

Six Ways to Sunday by Aussie author Karly Lane is a brilliant story of courage in the face of adversity; of fighting for what you believe is right; and the way some small rural communities are left behind and forgotten in the advancement of time. Rilee is a wonderful character; kind, empathetic and genuine – I felt for her and silently encouraged her to keep going! I loved her parents too 😊 I have no hesitation in highly recommending this 5 star read, Six Ways to Sunday, to fans of the rural romance genre.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my hardcopy to read and review.

Guest Review: One More Song – Nicki Edwards

One More Song

One More Song

Nicki Edwards

Pan Macmillan

ISBN: 9781760551407

 

Description:

Harrison Baxter and Edwina Campbell lead completely different lives.

Much has changed for Harry since he escaped his home town of Yallambah ten years ago, headed for the bright lights of the big city. Now he’s the star of Melbourne’s hottest musical, chasing only the next standing ovation. Why bother going back to Yallambah to visit his parents when his father couldn’t care less about his success?

Meanwhile, nothing much has changed for Edwina in the last decade, which is exactly how she likes it. Eddie adores her career as a nurse and loves the Yallambah community – she can’t imagine living anywhere else. And even if she wanted to, she could never leave her beloved grandparents, who raised her and love her like their own daughter. She’s not going to abandon them in their old age. Not for anything.

So when Harry and Eddie bump into each other on one of Harry’s flying visits home, their instant mutual attraction seems as pointless as it is intense. There’s no way they could ever make it work.

Or is there?

 

Brenda’s Review:

Harrison Baxter revelled in his life – musical theatre meant everything to him and his lead role in Les Mis was a dream come true. The Sydney season was coming to an end and he and the crew would begin in Melbourne in the New Year. In the meantime, Harry was heading home to Yallamba for Christmas. His mother, father, sister Claire and husband Simon, plus their two children had always lived in his old home town, but the bitterness between Harry and his dad was what had kept him away for so long. He wasn’t looking forward to the week-long stay…

Edwina Campbell – nurse; volunteer with the SES – had offered to take over the organising of the children’s Christmas party which her Nan had always done, as she was in hospital following a hip replacement. Her grandad was with her Nan, so Eddie was alone at the farm. As things started to go wrong – one after another – Eddie didn’t know how she would manage. But the arrival on the scene of Harry, with his offer of help, was a lifesaver for Eddie. Maybe their Christmas party would be a success after all?

But would the flush of attraction between Eddie and Harry ever come to anything? When tragedy and heartache loomed, it seemed to be over before it began. As the town of Yallamba rallied, uncertainty was high. What would be the future for these caring, special people in the small town of Yallamba?

One More Song by Aussie author Nicki Edwards was absolutely superb! Filled with heartache, hope, happiness and sadness; of loss, the loyalty of family and most of all, of life, One More Song ticks all the boxes. Wonderfully rounded characters, I especially enjoyed Eddie – written with compassion, caring and sensitivity, the author has written her best yet in my opinion. A highly recommended 5 stars.

With thanks to Pan Macmillan for my uncorrected proof to read and review.

Author Barbara Hannay’s Inspiration in Pictures

Welcome Australian author Barbara Hannay to my blog.

“A former English teacher, Barbara Hannay is a city-bred girl with a yen for country life. Many of her forty-plus books are set in rural and outback Australia and have been enjoyed by readers around the world. She has won the RITA, awarded by Romance Writers of America, and has twice won the Romantic Book of the Year award in Australia. In her own version of life imitating art, Barbara and her husband currently live on a misty hillside in beautiful Far North Queensland where they keep heritage pigs and chickens and an untidy but productive garden.” https://www.penguin.com.au/authors/barbara-hannay

 

 

Earlier this week I asked Barbara to share with us a little bit about her life, her writing and her inspiration. I love this very personal and pictorial response, thank you Barbara.

 

Barb Hannay at desk

Barbara at her desk.

 

Barb at Tooraweenah

Barb on horseback (16 yrs old), visiting her cousin’s farm, when her love of all things rural began.

 

The Burdekin River – Our many camping and canoeing holidays here inspired my rural settings.

 

Barbara Hannay’s Favourite Things:

 

Barb n Eliiot, Port Douglas

Her husband.

 

Grandchildren

Grandchildren

 

chickens spring 2015

Barbara’s chickens.

 

Thank you for sharing with us today Barbara. I love these pictures – they say it all –  words +love = happiness – smiles all round.

 

 

PS Barbara has a new book out – The Country Wedding:  https://www.penguin.com.au/books/the-country-wedding-9780143783312

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Secrets of The Springs – Kerry McGinnis

Secrets of the Springs

Kerry McGinnis

Secret of the Springs

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143784586

 

Description:

When Orla Macrae receives a letter asking her to return to the family cattle property where she grew up, she does so grudgingly. Her estranged uncle Palmer may be dying, but he is the last person she wants to see, not when she’s made a new life far away from where she lost so much. But on his deathbed he utters a few enigmatic words about a secret locked away and a clue as to its whereabouts.

 

Intrigued, Orla decides to stay, reconnecting with old friends and taking a chance on a long-time dream of opening the homestead to tourists. Continuing the search for her uncle’s elusive secret, she discovers far more than she bargained for – a shocking truth about her parents’ marriage, and the confession of a chilling murder.

 

Set in the stunning countryside north of the Barrier Ranges near Broken Hill, this is an authentic tale of life on the land and a gripping mystery about old family secrets and finding love in the harsh Australian bush.

 

My View:

“Kerry McGinnis was born in Adelaide and, at the age of twelve, took up a life of droving with her father and three siblings. The family travelled extensively across the Northern Territory and Queensland before settling on a station in the Gulf Country. Kerry has worked as a shepherd, droving hand, gardener, stock-camp and station cook, eventually running a property at Bowthorn, near Mount Isa. She is the author of two volumes of memoir and now lives in Bundaberg,” https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1219708.Kerry_McGinnis

 

I have now read three (of eight books) Kerry McGinnis’s has written, all have been five star reads. In each the landscapes are diverse in location yet feature rural communities and vibrant likeable characters who you want to cheer on, to do well. McGinnis’s female leads are always strong, intelligent, resourceful women and the protagonist in this book, Orla Macrae fits this mould – strongminded, resourceful, a quick thinker and ahead of her times in commercial acumen (think Airbnb for farm stays set in the 1980’s.) Orla realises that to survive on the land diverse income streams are needed.

 

In this narrative, family dramas and dastardly revelations will surprise the reader, these were different times.

 

Each page is infused with McGinnis’s trade mark love of the land, it is infectious.  Slip under the cover of this impressive book and be transported, listen to the wisdom McGinnis shares: ‘You couldn’t change the past; that was a finished page, one turned over, done with, not to be rewritten. But by constantly harking back to it you could imbue it with the power to cause past deeds to impinge upon the future.’ p353

 

 

 

Guest Post – Sasha Wasley Talks Wine, Writing and Her New Release

Sasha Wasley

Welcome Sasha Wasley to my blog.

Sasha Wasley was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia.

She has completed a PhD in cultural theory and loves nature, Jane Austen and puns.

Sasha is a farming wannabe, with a passion for animals and the land. Although she’s in her forties now, she still wants a pony.

Her debut novel, a young adult paranormal, was published in 2014. Today, she lives and writes in the Swan Valley wine region with her partner and two daughters, surrounded by dogs, cats and chickens.

Sasha writes mystery, paranormal and young adult novels as S.D. Wasley.

Welcome Sasha.

 

I was caught by your blog’s title and immediately tempted to find a way to match the theme – at the same time as introducing Dear Banjo to your followers. As I love wine, and my book is a love story, I felt it was a great opportunity to talk about … wine and love!
My favourite tipple is a fresh sauvignon blanc, and I love both the Australian and New Zealand varieties. In my book, however, my main characters love red wine. The story is set in Mount Clair, a fictional town in the Kimberley region of WA. It’s hot and humid up there, and I imagine red wine drinkers are in the minority, so this was a nice little trait for Willow and Tom to have in common. Let me share the scene where their love of red wine is particularly relevant. Formerly best friends, the two have experienced a long rift, during which they did not have any contact at all. But they’ve made peace and are friends again in this scene, and Willow and her family visit the neighbouring cattle station for Tom’s birthday barbecue.
From Chapter 14
There was a small bunch of people Willow didn’t know, presum¬ably Tom’s friends from town, sitting in a group. Willow went to say hello to the Forrests. Tom, already cleaning the barbecue, offered her a drink.
‘I’ve brought wine,’ she told him. ‘I just need a glass.’
‘Red?’
‘Of course.’
‘Come with me. I’ve got something special for you to drink tonight.’
She followed him into the house and he took her into the spare room. He bent down to open what looked like a dark cabinet in the corner and she heard the clink of bottles.
‘What’s that? A bar fridge?’
‘A wine fridge. I love reds but you can’t keep them properly in this climate. My wine fridge stores wine at the right temperature.’
He straightened and showed her what was in her hand. She gasped.
‘No way. Henschke Hill of Grace?’
Tom waved the bottle in front of her face, his eyes alight with anticipation. ‘Shall we?’
‘You shouldn’t open this tonight. Wait till your thirtieth.’
‘I’ve got something even more special for my thirtieth.’ He opened the fridge and pulled out another bottle.
‘What the hell?’ She stared at him. ‘Grange? Just how well are you guys doing here?’
‘It’s only one bottle. We don’t have a cellar full. I bought it a cou¬ple of years ago and decided to save it for my thirtieth.’
‘And the Hill of Grace for your twenty-ninth?’
He shrugged. ‘That was more of an impulse decision. But you like red, I like red. Hardly anyone in Mount Clair does. So …’
The corner of his mouth was tugged up in an expectant half-smile. She couldn’t help a little answering enthusiasm. ‘Let’s do it!’ He had the corkscrew in his hand before she’d even finished speak¬ing. ‘Cork,’ she breathed.
‘No screw tops for us!’
‘Where are the glasses?’
He nodded towards a cabinet against the wall and she opened the glass slider to pull out two big, dusty wineglasses. Spotting a pillow on the spare bed, Willow whipped off the pillow case and used it to polish the glasses.
Tom guffawed. ‘Classy.’
‘Resourceful,’ she returned.
He popped the cork and sniffed gingerly. ‘Oh, god. Yes.’
Willow almost bounced on the spot with excitement. ‘Is it good?’
‘Beyond good.’ He poured and handed her one. ‘Check us out, hiding in the spare room to drink the good stuff.’
‘Ours. Ours alone,’ she intoned and he doubled over laughing.
They clinked glasses carefully and sipped, watching each other’s faces. Tom waited for her judgement, although she could see he liked it just from his expression. The wine was beautiful and she sighed with pleasure.
‘Tom. It’s the nectar of the gods.’
‘It’s the aged nectar of the gods,’ he said. He gestured towards his wine fridge. ‘Wait till my thirtieth. It’s just a shame I offered half to another living human,’ he added, narrowing his eyes at her in classic villain style.
‘You’ll be lucky to get half the bottle, sharing with me,’ she said.
He laughed, but those blue eyes were on hers and they seemed a little intense. She sipped again, her body heating up uncomfortably.

 

Henschke

Henschke Cellar Door, SA (pic: Henschke.com.au)

I went to visit the Henschke cellar door in South Australia during a visit to the Barossa region in 2009 and it was such a wonderful experience. Not only is the winery itself the most charming, picturesque, historical spot, surrounded by green valleys, vineyards, and those amazing German-style churches – but the wine is incredible.
I stayed in Angaston, home of the famous dried fruit company, and I didn’t quite make it to the town named for my ancestors, Wasleys, which is in the same region. Sadly, the town of Wasleys suffered from terrible Pinery fire that ravaged the region a couple of years ago. I certainly want to go back and explore the area more thoroughly – the history and the buildings, as well as my own family heritage. And the wine may have a little something to do with it, too!

Thank you, Reading, Writing and Riesling, for allowing me to ramble on about love and wine, two of my favourite topics! I do hope your readers enjoy Dear Banjo.

Follow Sasha

Post Script: The Pretty Delicious Cafe – Danielle Hawkins

the-pretty-delicious-cafe

The Pretty Delicious Café

Danielle Hawkins

HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9781460752586

 

Description:

Food, family and fresh beginnings. For fans of 800 Words, Offspring, Josephine Moon and Monica McInerney.

 

On the outskirts of a small New Zealand seaside town, Lia and her friend Anna work serious hours running their restored cafe. The busy season is just around the corner, and there are other things to occupy them. Anna is about to marry Lia’s twin brother, and Lia’s ex-boyfriend seems not to understand it’s over.

When a gorgeous stranger taps on Lia’s window near midnight and turns out not to be a serial killer, she feels it’s a promising sign. But the past won’t let them be, and Lia must decide whether events rule her life or she does.

The Pretty Delicious Cafe will remind you of those special, good things we love about living. And the food is great.

A warm, witty novel, brimming with the trademark romance, friendship and eccentricity that Danielle Hawkins’s fans adore.

 

 

My View:

What’s not to like about a Danielle Hawkins book? If you don’t like witty, touching , contemporary writing with a few zany characters, relatable relationships and their trials and tribulations, good food, a wedding or two and a happy ending then don’t pick up this book.

This is life lit at its best! It is so refreshing to read a novel where life is accurately reflected. Life is not always black and white, people’s personal lives can be complicated, and friends do argue or have misunderstandings, marriages do breakup, mental health is a whole of community issue…and families…well they are the most complicated relationship of all.

 

Danielle Hawkins provides the reader with a glimpse of the microcosm of a small town that reflects situations and emotions that resonate with so many of us, there is realism on these pages. A very satisfying read.

 

PS – And a bonus – there are even recipes for some of the dishes served at The Pretty Delicious Café at the back of the book.