Quick Aussie Author Q&A- Kayte Nunn and Rose’s Vintage

A big welcome to Kayte who has stopped by The Australian Bookshelf for a chat. Kayte Nunn is the author of Rose’s Vintage, a love story set in the fictional winemaking region of the Shingle Valley. It was released today by Black Inc Books.

Kayte portrait 1Hi Kayte, can you tell us about your journey to publication.
I had always harboured a secret desire to write, but always doubted myself. One winter, I found I had about a six-week gap between freelance editing projects. I’d read a couple of what I thought were fairly ordinary ‘chick-lit’ books and thought ‘well I can do better than that’ (little did I know just how hard the process was!), and a friend had recently finished a novel. I’d written a couple of short stories and loved how writing them made me feel. They’d also been shortlisted in a couple of competitions.

With all that in the back of my mind and a big case of the ‘now or nevers’, I sat down and began to write. Nearly a year later and I had a very rough draft and began querying agents and publishers. Several asked to see the whole manuscript, and one agent offered me plenty of feedback and took me on.

I worked on a second draft for several months – changing the nationality of the protagonist and her name – and then my agent began sending it out. Several publishers liked it but said it was too close to a couple of their other authors, and one gave me more feedback, which I took on board and wrote a third draft. All of this took the best part of a year.

Then, Black Inc, which was starting a new women’s contemporary fiction list, read it, loved it and offered for it, and a second book which I had begun writing. Rose’s Vintage, and a follow-up – The Angel’s Share – have also both sold to Piper verlag in Germany. I remember I was filthy from scrubbing out cupboards when the call from my agent came through!

How did you choose the setting for Rose’s Vintage and where did you get your inspiration?Rose's Vintage (online)-2
I was sitting in a Bondi café one miserable, rainy day and began to wonder what it might be like if you rocked up from the other side of the world but found that it was nothing like you’d expected. For a number of years I edited a wine magazine – Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE – and got to visit many of this country’s incredible wine regions and meet plenty of the characters and communities that make up the industry. They say ‘write what you know’ and it seemed obvious to set the novel in such a beautiful setting.

How can readers relate to your heroine, Rose?
She’s hopefully a well-rounded character with plenty of faults – she’s superstitious, impulsive and occasionally grumpy and overreacts when pushed too far, but also generous, loyal, kind and patient. She’s the sort of women you’d want to be friends with I hope.

How would you describe Rose’s Vintage in 5 words?
Delicious, fun, absorbing, entertaining.

And just for fun, a quick Q&A (brief answers) when writing do you prefer…
Coffee, tea or hot chocolate? Tea – Twinings Australian Afternoon (even in the morning)
Plotting, pantsing or both? A bit of both.

Quiet solitude or background noise? I can work with either. Years of working in a busy magazine office has meant that I am easily able to shut out background noise, even if it is my kids yelling for me!

A warm, sunny day or a rainy day? For writing: a rainy day. That way I don’t feel I’m missing out by not being outside. I also love the moodiness of rainy days.

Typing or pen and notepad? Typing. But pen and notepad for middle-of-the-night inspiration.

Thanks for stopping by! Rose’s Vintage is available from all good bookshops and Target, Big W etc, and online at http://www.booktopia.com.au, ibooks and at http://www.amazon.com. For more information about Kayte and her writing, go to http://www.kaytenunn.com.

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Aussie Book Review: The Doctor Calling by Meredith Appleyard

The Doctor CallingThe Doctor Calling by Meredith Appleyard

Paperback

Review copy provided by publisher

Penguin Random House, February 2016

Synopsis- What Laura was about to do wasn’t easy. To become embroiled in a family’s grief, their anger, their secrets, wasn’t safe, or clever.

Rebuilding her life again after unexpected tragedy, GP Laura O’Connor flees Adelaide, and her medical career, for a quiet life in rural Potters Junction. She’s looking to escape her own family dramas. The last thing she expects is to become caught up in another’s.

Jake Finlay is a man with a troubled past and a passion for risk-taking. After years away from his small home town, he’s hell-bent on keeping his distance. But his father is dying and this could be the last chance they have to make amends.

As Laura and Jake come together over the care for the frail man, they experience an irresistible attraction. Will facing death help them both to grab hold of life? And might love be just what the doctor ordered?

Review- Meredith Appleyard has quickly made it onto my list of fave Aussie authors in the rural romance genre. I enjoy her writing style, the small town communities, the medical influence on her stories, but most of all the character development. She really draws me in as a reader and the internal/ external conflict of the hero and heroine is very well fleshed out.

I won’t say too much about the plot, but I did really connect with the storyline. Appleyard very sensitively explores the issue of end of life, grief and loss. Laura has taken a break from her GP practice and moved out of the city to Potters Junction. She befriends her elderly neighbour and his son Jake. It was a strange experience reading this story at the same time as my husband’s grandfather was living his last weeks in palliative care. So, for many reasons I really connected to this story as it deals with very real issues. Laura and Jake are an unusual couple but I enjoyed their developing friendship and how it naturally evolved to more. Both Laura and Jake grow as individuals in the story which helps to give them a chance as something more. I found it really hard to put this book down and I’ll definitely be reading more from this author!

Overall Rating

4.5/5

“Fantastic!”

The Doctor Calling can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

 

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Aussie Book Review: Summer Harvest by Georgina Penney

Summer HarvestSummer Harvest by Georgina Penney

Paperback

Review copy provided by publisher

Penguin Random House, February 2016

Synopsis- English dog trainer Beth Poole is having trouble getting her life back together after beating a life-threatening illness and divorcing her husband. When her Aussie-soap-obsessed grandma sends her to Australia to recover, it seems a great opportunity for some rest and relaxation while she figures out what’s next.

But when Beth arrives in Australia things get off to a rocky start. To begin with, she’s on the wrong coast and there are deadly creatures everywhere. And if that weren’t enough, her neighbours are driving her crazy. She’s staying in the beautiful Margaret River wine region, right next door to a family-owned vineyard. It should be perfect, but the boisterous Hardy clan just don’t seem able to leave her alone. The usually reserved Beth is soon reluctantly embroiled in their family disputes and romantic entanglements. And eldest son Clayton Hardy is proving surprisingly persistent.

The more Beth gets to know Clayton and the Hardys, the more she sees what she wants for her future. But as the end of summer approaches, her past comes back to haunt her and will test her newfound relationships to the limit.

Review- Set in the beautiful Margaret River in Western Australia, Summer Harvest is an enjoyable read by Australian author Georgina Penney. The heroine, Beth Poole is an English dog trainer who arrives in WA on a two month holiday, a trip gifted to her by her grandma who wants to treat her. Beth has had a hard time with a serious illness and a divorce in recent times and taking off to the other side of the world on a whim isn’t usually her style. But it’s not long before she ditches her shapeless modest clothing and her solitary habits for a new appearance and new friends. She’s particularly taken by Clayton Hardy who lives on the adjacent winery; there’s an instant attraction and the relationship that develops is packed with chemistry and plenty of obstacles. It was an easy and enjoyable read, a book I could pick up and take off where I left off in between running around after my 5 month old daughter. My only criticism for this one is the resolution of the relationship at the end. It’s a pet hate of mine when the hero/ heroine take months to get their act together. It annoys me, but that’s just a personal thing. Good read!

Overall Rating

3.5/5

“I really liked this”

Summer Harvest can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

 

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Book Review: The Words in my Hands by Guinevere Glasfurd

The Words In My HandThe Words in my Hands by Guinevere Glasfurd

Paperback

Review copy provided by publisher

Hachette, January 2016

Synopsis- The Words in My Hand is the reimagined true story of Helena Jans, a Dutch maid in 17th-century Amsterdam, who works for Mr Sergeant the English bookseller. When a mysterious and reclusive lodger arrives – the Monsieur – Mr Sergeant insists everything must be just so. It transpires that the Monsieur is René Descartes.
This is Helena’s story: the woman in front of Descartes, a young woman who yearns for knowledge, who wants to write so badly she makes ink from beetroot and writes in secret on her skin – only to be held back by her position in society.
Weaving together the story of Descartes’ quest for reason with Helena’s struggle for literacy, their worlds overlap as their feelings deepen; yet remain sharply divided. For all Descartes’ learning, it is Helena he seeks out as she reveals the surprise in the everyday world that surrounds him.
When reputation is everything and with so much to lose, some truths must remain hidden. Helena and Descartes face a terrible tragedy and ultimately have to decide if their love is possible at all.

Review- I’ve always been fond of historical fiction, but I was drawn to this novel in particular due to it being set in 17th century Amsterdam. It also features the infamous philosopher Rene Descartes whom I recalled studying and debating about in Uni. The Words in my Hands is a story about a young Dutch maid named Helena who works in a lodging house of an English bookseller where Descartes boards for some time. Helena has always been drawn to writing in reading but it is denied due to her gender, which motivates her to continue her interests in private. Descartes fosters this passion and provides her with the writing resources to practice these skills. Helena falls in love with Descartes, a man who is largely emotionally unavailable as he delves into the world of science, reason and questioning everything that is known as fact in the 17th century.

Helena is an interesting character who is strong and driven, but also naive and vulnerable. Her growth throughout the story is particularly appealing as she learns to use her ‘secret’ skills to change her life. The relationship between Descartes and Helena is up and down and quite unconventional for the era. It did take some time to really feel the pull to continue reading the story but I’m glad I read it as it was an interesting take on Descartes and women of the time.

Overall Rating

3.5/5

“I really liked this”

The Words in My Hands can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

 

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Aussie Book Review: All That Is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster

All That is Lost Between UsAll That Is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster

Paperback

Review copy provided by publisher

Simon & Schuster, February 2016

Synopsis- Seventeen-year-old Georgia has a secret – one that is isolating her from everyone she loves. She is desperate to tell her best friend, but Sophia is ignoring her, and she doesn’t know why. And before she can find out, Sophia is left fighting for her life after a hit and run, with Georgia a traumatised witness.

As a school psychologist, Georgia’s mother Anya should be used to dealing with scared adolescents. However, it’s very different when the girl who needs help is your own child. Meanwhile, Georgia’s father is wracked with a guilt he can’t share; and when Zac, Georgia’s younger brother, stumbles on an unlikely truth, the family relationships really begin to unravel.

Georgia’s secret is about to go viral. And yet, it will be the stranger heading for the family home who will leave her running through the countryside into terrible danger. Can the Turner family rise above the lies they have told to betray or protect one another, in order to fight for what matters most of all?

Set against the stark, rugged beauty of England’s Lake District, All That is Lost Between Us is a timeless thriller with a modern twist.

Review- All That is Lost Between Us is another solid read by Australian author Sara Foster. Her psychological thrillers often leave me thinking about them days after I’ve put them down and this one is no different. A little slow to start, Sara takes her time to set up each of the character’s in the story. There’s 17 year old Georgia who has a secret, her brother Zac who discovers the secret, her mother Anya the school psychologist and her father who buries himself in work so he doesn’t have to face the fact that his family is falling apart.

This is a character-driven novel with plenty of family dynamic tension and relationship issues that anyone can relate to! I actually found my alliance with characters in this story quite different to my usual reading experiences. I think if I’d read this 6 months ago I’d have related more to Georgia, but having read this as a new mother of a baby girl, I found  myself aligning myself with Anya. As a parent and a psychologist (jobs I also share), Anya’s inner turmoil was very realistic and I liked the honesty that was portrayed between the mother-daughter relationship. I too began to wonder about my future relationship with my daughter and the point where she becomes dependent on me to becoming a young woman and wanting exert her independence. Not only does Foster explore realistic familial conflict she also touches on current societal issues faced by teens today; namely social media.

I wasn’t quite sure where this story was heading and though the plot didn’t make a huge impact on me as a reader, the character growth did. I’d recommend this read!

Overall Rating

4/5

“I loved this book!”

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Aussie Book Review: Tallowood Bound by Karly Lane

Tallowood BoundTallowood Bound by Karly Lane

Paperback

Review copy provided by publisher

Allen & Unwin, November 2015

Synopsis- When Erin Macalister heads to her home town to help take care of her beloved grandmother she’s relieved to be leaving behind both the city and the remnants of a broken marriage. Arriving in the small rural town she finds nothing much has changed there – including Jamie McBride, who lives on the neighbouring farm to her and is as ridiculously good looking as he was when they were seventeen and madly in love.

Desperate to bring back her grandmother’s smile, Erin goes through old photo albums with her. Though frail and confused her grandmother tells vivid stories about the past, including memories of a soldier she once loved. Erin’s curiosity about the man deepens when she finds an engagement ring he once gave her grandmother.

Meanwhile, Jamie McBride seems intent on rekindling their relationship, even though Erin’s not at all sure she wants to risk heartache again…

Review- I’m a little late at putting this review together as I read it back in December. The first book I finished reading since the birth of my daughter in September. I’m glad it was Karly Lane that dragged me out of my reading slump! I just love her writing style; she’s an author that one can rely on to deliver an intriguing plot, strong female characters and hunky heroes.

I enjoyed the dual narrative in this novel; Erin’s grandmother’s stories of falling in love with an American soldier during the wartime and Erin in present day who visits her palliative grandmother in Hospital. Erin is back in town to support her grandmother and doesn’t expect to receive so much attention from her former teenage fling Jamie McBride. Recently divorced, dealing with ongoing relationship conflict with her mother and coming to terms with her grandmother’s death; Erin isn’t convinced she’s ready for a relationship and certainly doesn’t expect one with playful Jamie.

There’s instant chemistry between Erin and Jamie and as their backstory slowly unfolds their connection deepens. As usual, Lane pulled at the heartstrings with this likable couple. The added layers of the generational struggles for the women in Erin’s family adds to the suspense and conflict in the story. However, I did find it very frustrating when Erin keeps a rather large secret from Jamie near the end. Given her own circumstances I’d have thought she’d be more open about the situation to Jamie.

Another great read from Karly Lane!

Overall Rating

4.5/5

“Fantastic!”

 

Tallowood Bound can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

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It’s a new year… A Bookish Year ahead

It certainly is a new year, one that I’m very much looking forward to. I have a year off work to be home with my little girl who just keeps on growing (5 months old, where on earth does the time go?!), I’ve been building up my online business, Bookish Gifts and happily typing up new projects.

Unfortunately my blog has been a little neglected and I’ve decided not to sign up for any challenges and just keep it simple. But what about reading?  I’ve finally got my reading mojo back! A brief holiday down to Berry (south coast NSW) with my family inspired me to pick up a book (instead of my phone!) and start reading. Now to get the writing book reviews mojo back…

So what have I been reading? Here’s the books I plan to review VERY soon!

Tallowood BoundAll That is Lost Between UsThe Words In My Hand

Summer HarvestThe Doctor Calling

Oh and I’ve also very much enjoyed introducing my daughter to the world of Austen, well Little Austen, that is.

Little Austen books

I’ll be back with reviews soon!

x

 

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