Guest Blog Post: Jenn J McLeod + Giveaway

Today I have a Short and Sweet blog post from the fabulous Jenn J McLeod, who shares with us IMG_20200202_132219some interesting bits about herself. She’s also offering one of my lovely followers the chance to win a Kindle copy of her newest book House of Wishes, which is sitting on my shelf glaring at me as I write this. All you need to to win this wonderful novel is share this post and leave a comment below and/or on my FB page for Jenn.

I’m trying something new so please after reading Jenn’s interesting bits, scroll down to fill in the form to enter to win.

Guilty pleasure?

Corona with lime and date scones (only not at the same time).

Pet peeve?

Piracy sites that present so legitimate that readers unknowingly hand over their details (details often then sold to marketing companies) or people inadvertently allow these sites access to their computers when they download that ‘so-called’ free book. The only good FREE book—that rewards and recognises the author’s effort—is the one borrowed from a library.

If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be?

An endless supply of Corona and self-slicing lime, and a magic e-Reader that never runs out of power or books.

Worst thing about being a writer?

Never believing you or your work is good enough—even after six books. (That may be a Virgo thing!)

Favourite perfume/cologne:

My go-to is always Channel No. 5, but not even that can mask the dust, dirt and sunbaked cow dung smells of the bush.

The best non-writing related prize I won was (meat raffle/free holiday/bingo game)…

I never win anything.

What theme do you hope shines through in your latest novel – House of Wishes?

Thank you for this question . . . Due to the number of family and social issues I cover in this novel, I could go on ad nauseum. Instead, here’s me being brief:

  1. How far we’ve come as a country in terms of women’s right to choose, but how easily the work done by generations of women in the past can slip away if we don’t keep speaking up about a woman’s right to choose.
  2. Strength from the realisation that life can throw us curve balls, but to keep believing in the power of wishes.
  3. An understanding that family is about connection rather than blood.

How do you respond if someone smirks and gives you flack for writing ‘that sort of fiction’?

I say: “I’m so lucky! I love writing popular women’s fiction over any other genre because it’s, err, popular!! And popular means more readers and more money in the bank for doing something I enjoy doing.”

They say (smirk waning): “You actually make money from writing those sort of novels?”

Me: “Boom, drop the mic!” *winks* *grins* *walks away*

My favourite thing about women’s fiction is…

The winking, grinning and walking away bit!

Thank you so much for hosting me. I’d love to offer one of your readers a Kindle version of House of Wishes in return for sharing this post (or at least telling their Mum or sister or best friend!)

 

IMG_20200202_133610House of Wishes:

A story for mothers, daughters, fathers and sons:

about the choices we make, the connections that matter,

the secrets we keep, and the power of a wish.

(available in print, ebook and in audio)

 

About Jenn J. McLeod:

Five-times published with Simon & Schuster and the UK’s Head of Zeus, Jenn’s first book, House for all Seasons, was the #5 best-selling debut fiction novel in 2013. Two years later she downsized her life (packing everything she owned into a purple and white caravan she calls Myrtle the Turtle) and is now Australia’s nomadic novelist. She says she’s planning to do “several big laps of Oz very slowly”, ticking things off her bucket list along the way, and finding inspiration for more heart-warming tales of friendship and family—contemporary stories with a backdrop of country life.

Her 6th novel—House of Wishes—is now available: www.jennjmcleod.com

Facebook Friend Jenn to follow her travels and shenanigans    or

LIKE her Facebook author page for bookish news

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Jenn’s Books

Jenn’s eBooks

 

 

My top reads of 2019 plus my blog birthday giveaway

This week marks the 1st birthday of my blog and I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported and followed me throughout the last 12 months, I hope to bring you plenty more reviews next year. To say thanks I am doing a giveaway which I’ll write more about after I let you know what my top reads were for this year, It was a tough choice and I changed my mind about the books and the amount of books I was going to list quite a few times. But here are my final choices in no order whatsoever. As with my books of the decade, they had to be books that have stayed with me all year and that required no prompting for remembering.

TThe True Story of Maddie Brighthe True Story of Maddie Bright by Mary-Rose MacColl was a book that evoked many emotions at the time of reading.

My review

 

 

 

IMG_20190514_200721The Lost Boy by Rachael Wright was another book that packed an emotional punch.

My review

 

 

img_20190121_065430Sunshine by Kim Kelly, this is a novel I have read twice this year as well as listening to the audio book.

My Review

 

 

 

img_20190127_200000Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry was yet another emotional read (I’m beginning to sense a theme here as I start putting these onto the page)

My Review

 

 

IMG_20191024_203440Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard was a very emotional read that everyone should read.

My Review

 

 

 

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A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird is probably the most emotional book I have read this year, this one had me crying for a third of the book, but it was an incredible story.

My review

 

IMG_20190221_212054

Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop by Rebecca Raisin was a book that had me looking at my dreams for my life.

My review

 

 

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Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener was the first book I read in 2019 and a great historical romance in an unusual setting.

My review

 

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Ridgeview Station by Michael Trant was one of a handful of books I read by male authors this year and was a fabulous read.

My review

 

 

 

IMG_20190309_154143In a Great Southern Land by Mary-Anne O’Connor was another emotional read.

My review

 

 

 

IMG_20190508_003954Under the Midnight Sky by Anna Romer was a book I enjoyed so much I bought it for my mum for her birthday.

My review

 

 

 

IMG_20190309_073822The Scream Behind Her Smile by Athena Daniels was brilliant.

My review

 

 

 

 

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Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee was a confronting look at sexual assalt and our legal system.

My review

 

 

 

Lastly, I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks this year due to a lot of driving and some of these have been great, some just good and some not so good. The narrator makes all the difference to how well a book comes across. I’ve listened to several novels that friends have loved, but as an audiobook, they just haven’t had that impact for me. Here are a couple that stood out for me this year, if you enjoy your audiobooks you may want to check them out.

This Red Earth by Kim Kelly – My Review

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – My review

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein – My review

The Locksmith’s Daughter by Karen Brooks

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of these (or not) or are inspired to pick one of them up.

For my blog’s birthday I’m giving two people the opportuntiy to win a kindle copy of their choice from my top reads this year (open internationally). Or a paperback copy of Sunshine by Kim Kelly (open internationally) or a paperback copy of Ridgeview Station by Michale Trant (Australia only). To be in for a chance to win please leave a comment on this blog or my Facebook page. You need to be following my blog of to have liked my FB page to enter (or both).

Happy reading.

 

New Release Giveaway and review – The Art of Dust by Mel Rowe

Today I am giving you all an opportunity to win an e-copy of Mel Rowe’s new second chance rural romance The Art of Dust #1 in the Elsie Creek Series, releasing 22nd May 2019. To be in for a chance to win leave a comment below on the blog or on the post on my FB page.

I found this to be a really enjoyable second chance romance. Kat returns to Elsie Creek because her Uncle is Dying, this leads to secrets she has kept being found out, and past misunderstandings coming to light. There were times I wasn’t sure if the characters Kat and Kyle were going to be able to get it together. There was plenty of angst and second guessing, reminiscing and hope for something more. The cast of secondary characters are varied, the old blokes who hang out in the hardware store are quirky and loveable characters. This is a town that’s been through hard times, but still comes together as a community when the chips are down. One of my favourite characters is a water buffalo who delivers messages to the townspeople.

AOD cover FB5

 

the ART of DUST

Some summer loves you can never forget, found in a place where summer never ends…Where you’ll discover the essence of the rugged and romantic outback of Australia’s Northern Territory, in this small-town series of Elsie Creek. It’s a place filled with more cattle and crocodiles than people—who still manage to find love…

Are you ready to Escape to a HAPPILY EVER AFTER?

After seven-years, creative Mumpreneur, Kathryn (Kat) Jones, returns to the outback town of Elsie Creek at the request of her dying uncle. Kat can’t fix the man but she can care for his wife, fix his home, and fix his beloved vehicle to get him there.

Workaholic, Kyle Smythe, owns the only mechanical workshop in town, and he’s about to propose to another woman when his ex-muse rolls into his yard seeking help to restore her uncle’s ute.

For Kat, Kyle was her best friend, her creative collaborator, and first and only love. But his rejection tore her heart apart.

Kyle’s scars still sting over Kat’s desertion—especially when he’d needed her the most.

Yet these long-lost summer soulmates are compelled to team-up to make a man they both care for happy in his final days.

Can they work together without re-igniting that spark shared those many summers ago? Or will it remind them of their promises of forever that ended in never…

Are you a fan of small town Australian rural romance stories?

Then you’ll adore Australian bestselling author, Mel A ROWE’s unique outback spin, set in a place where cattle and crocodiles outnumber the people and where the summer never ends… Welcome, to Elsie Creek.

What readers are saying about this sweet, second chance, small town, rural romance:

“The author paints an amazing picture of the outback with her words drawing you into the story…”

“If you’re fan of Aussie outback stories then you will enjoy this…”

“The descriptions of the outback are so real, you would think you were in Australia yourself.”

 “A wonderful outback tale”

Find your favourite online bookstore HERE:

AMAZON   |  KOBO  | APPLE  |  AMAZON AU  OTHER ONLINE BOOKSTORES HERE

Or add it to your Goodreads TBR shelf HERE

About the author

Australian Bestselling Author, Mel A ROWE, is a Writer & Weekend Wanderer, trying not to get too lost outback of Northern Australia.

Besides indulging in her regular random road trips, fumbling with her camera, and annoying her family with her bad singing—it’s her novels she enjoys creating the most. Suffering from an allergy to all things corporately serious, Mel’s novels are dished up with a dash of drama, witty humour, and quirky family units. Known for reinventing romantic versions of home, Mel takes her common characters on an uncommon journey that leads from boardrooms to billabongs as they try to find their own HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

Feel free to connect with Mel at… https://melarowe.com

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Cocktails with Claire: Q&A with Athena Daniels & Giveaway

The scream behind cover

Hi Athena thank you for joining us today to celebrate the release of your fabulous new novel.

Hi Claire Louisa! Thanks so much for the invitation. I am so excited to be here with you all.

Most importantly, what cocktail would you like to drink first up to celebrate your new novel?

FB_IMG_1554993245334Cocktails? What a great idea! Hmmm… How about a CONSENSUAL SEX ON THE BEACH – (Because Claire and Zach’s first sizzling sex scene was at the beach!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 40ml Tito’s Vodka
    15ml Peach Schnapps
    50ml Cranberry Juice
    50ml Orange Juice
  • Directions: Combine cold juice with Vodka and Schnapps, stir and enjoy. Little umbrella optional.

*Not my recipe*

I’ve ordered drinks for everyone! Enjoy 🙂

Can you tell us a bit about your new book The Scream Behind Her Smile?

Thank you for asking, I’d love to. The Scream Behind Her Smile is my sixth published full-length novel. It’s a 95K standalone, contemporary, romantic psychological thriller set in Perth, Western Australia.

Tagline: “A thrilling and emotionally gripping story of love, marriage, deception and… murder.” 

This is quite different from your Beyond the Grave series, where did the idea for this story come from? And how long did it take you to write it?

The Scream Behind Her Smile is a very different style of writing and genre from my Beyond the Grave paranormal romance series. The idea for the story was inspired by a series of actual events and the story grew into what it is today. I wrote part one of the book a couple of years ago but set it aside to finish and release book 4 in the Beyond the Grave series, When Darkness Follows.  

The antagonist, Derek, is an absolutely horrible person (in my opinion and in my words ‘he’s f**king nuts’), how did you go about writing his character and getting into his mindset and did you find it hard to do?

Lol! I agree. Derek is definitely not recommended husband material! I actually didn’t find it as hard writing Derek’s character as you might think because I enjoy writing villains and anti-hero’s in general. Not quite sure what that says about me!

I’ve encountered my fair share of chauvinistic behaviour throughout my life, so I tapped into the hurt, anger and frustration that arose from those experiences. I then added in a healthy dose of creative licence to make Derek’s true colours, when revealed, really ‘shine’! 🙂

Claire is a strong character dealing with a huge amount of grief, where did the inspiration or idea for her character come from?

Thank you. I loved writing Claire! Pieces of Claire’s story were also inspired from real events. In Australia, the largest growing demographic of homelessness are women over 50, a disturbing fact that breaks my heart. Although Derek’s character may be viewed as extreme, sadly it is not uncommon for women to find themselves in a similar situation to Claire after a marriage or relationship breakdown. Domestic violence is another issue close to my heart. On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. It’s only natural to see the themes and causes I’m passionate about come through in my writing. I hope my stories are thought provoking but also inspiring.

I love the fact it’s set in Perth, this is the second book this year set in the suburbs I know, what made you decide to set it here?

I love Perth! I get so many comments and emails from my overseas readers saying how much they learn about Australia through my books and that it makes them want to visit. I hope my passion for our beautiful country shows clearly through my words.

Do you think we’ll be seeing Claire and Zach again? And maybe Kira (my favourite secondary character)?

Yes! I have plans for Kira to have her own book. I love her too and can’t wait for her to take centre stage. I’ll make a start on her story towards the end of this year after I’ve released book 5 in the Beyond the Grave series. I’ll also give everyone an update on Claire and Zach!

You have two really nasty (in my opinion) and crazy (also in my opinion) characters in your story Derek and Jasmine, do you dislike either of them? and which one do you dislike the most? (I can’t decide which I dislike the most)

Jasmine! For me it was definitely Jasmine…

Have you always wanted to write? If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I was never encouraged to consider writing (or any creative pursuit) as a career option when I was growing up. I have always been a very passionate reader, so when I finally wrote my first book later in life, everything ‘clicked’. If I could tell my younger self anything, I would need a much longer list, lol. Although I am happy with what I have achieved in a relatively short time, I would have loved to have started writing a few years earlier.

With your books you self publish, can you tell us how that works and why you choose to go this way?

My first novel, Desperate, was traditionally published, but I chose to self-publish my Beyond the Grave paranormal romance series. I love the creative freedom that comes through the process of self-publishing. I like to have total control over my projects so I guess you can say it suits my personality. But it’s certainly not a set and forget strategy. I’m constantly monitoring and learning the industry, honing and polishing my skillset as a writer/author entrepreneur. The business side is as important to learn and master as the writing side. Self-Publishing gives me the freedom to try new things without having to consult anyone. Any mistakes are my own, and something I turn into beneficial learning tools.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I read every single review! Reviews can be extremely valuable if they are constructive, both the negative and positive ones. Of course, the negative reviews hurt, but if there is anything to be gained from them, I try to keep an open mind.

Do you have a line or scene from The Scream Behind Her Smile you’d like to share with readers to give them a taste?

Because it’s a psychological thriller, it is hard to find a scene that doesn’t contain spoilers, so I chose this from the prologue:

As I lie here in my front hallway, in the place where it all began, I wonder what would have happened if I’d never opened the door that afternoon?

Would she have gone somewhere else? Would she have swept off in another direction, an alternative reality where our lives would never have crossed paths?

And now I’m lying here, blood pooling beneath my body, deep crimson smears on cold white tiles, remembering every sordid moment in vivid detail.

There’s a shadow standing over me.

“I want you to die here, slowly and alone.” Her voice is cold, emotionless. “And I want you to use the time to think about what you did. And when you take your last breath, I want you to realize it’s all your fault. All of it!”

I drift in and out of consciousness and wonder if I had my chance to do it over again, if I had the choice, would I choose not to open the door that day?

Even after everything, I know that I would.

I’d go through it all again, and then some, if it meant the chance to be with Zach just one more time…

 A thrilling and emotionally gripping novel of love, marriage, deception and murder.

 What is next on the agenda for your writing?

I am currently working on Book 5 in the Beyond the Grave series, Sam and Tara’s story. Then towards the end of the year, I’ll be working on my next standalone psychological thriller.

Thanks for chatting Athena, I think another cocktail is in order

Thanks so much for having me!

* Ordering another round of cocktails for everyone! *

 

The scream behind promoAthena has very kindly given you all the opportunity to win a copy of her book! I have a paperback (Australian address only) and two ebook copies (international and Australia) up for grabs (please indicate if you are an international reader). To be in the running  please leave a comment on this post for Athena and it would be great if you could show her some love by liking her facebook page or adding The Scream Behind Her Smile to your goodreads Want to Read pile.

For another chance to win have a read of my review and leave a comment there also as I am giving away another copy.