Saturday, December 29, 2012

SHALLOW BREATH by Sara Foster ★ ★ ★★

          “It’s about connections, across difficult boundaries,” comments Sarah Foster, in describing her third novel SHALLOW BREATH.  And there are so many extraordinary connections over the twenty year span of the story that your head will spin; but spin in a good way where you keep wondering what impact did this character have on this one. Even the animals in the book are connected and their impact on the human characters is also long-ranging.
          If you have ever visited or lived in Western Australia you will also find the factual component of SHALLOW BREATH fascinating and well-researched, as Foster skilfully weaves a tale of intrigue surrounding the main character, Desi, who once worked in the real-life "Atlantis Marine Park" outside Perth which closed in the nineties.
          The story begins with just-released-from-jail, Desi Priest, returning to her home by the Indian Ocean to hopefully reconcile with her teenage daughter Maya.  All we know is that Desi did something unthinkable and inexplicable and Maya is finding it difficult to understand and forgive her.  
          Told in five parts via multiple points of view, Desi recounts her life in the nineties whilst working at Atlantis just as it is closing. It was there she met AmericanConnor, a passionate marine biologist, with whom she develops a friendship which takes them further than she ever expected.
          In present day, a stranger, Kate, arrives in town and it is clear she is more than a visiting tourist. She has a dangerous agenda that is only revealed at the end of the book.  There are many secrets kept by each character and slowly the pace builds as the character perspectives flow back and forth to reveal how each character connects with Desi’s past and will impact on her future.
          For those who love a psychological mystery, SHALLOW BREATH will see you turning the pages into the wee hours of the morning. Along the way, there are some fascinating insights into animal conservation, dolphins and even orang-utans as the story travels from Western Australian to many countries.  Whilst it doesn’t beat you over the head with its conservation issues it certainly takes you to places where you will feel angered by the brutality but also encouraged by the bravery of those who fight against that cruelty.
          SHALLOW BREATH is a modern Australian saga, written by an author who knows how to breathe life into characters.  The story reaches through the pages pulling you into its watery depths and when it is over the characters will stay with you as if you’ve connected deeply with new friends.

Review Copy supplied by RANDOM HOUSE Australia. For more information please visit

For a FREE First Chapter of Shallow Breath CLICK HERE

Visit The Shallow Breath Website to learn how Sara blended fact with fiction to create SHALLOW BREATH.

Release Dates: Australia and New Zealand: December 2012

You can purchase Shallow Breath from all good books stores in Australia.

E-Book for Australians and International: Amazon   Amazon UK
if you are overseas or in Australia, you can ALSO purchase direct from the author's website.


          Sara Foster lives in Western Australia with her husband and young daughter. She divides her time between writing, book editing and being a mum. Her passions include the natural world, photography and travel. She is the author of three novels: Come Back To Me, Beneath The Shadows and Shallow Breath.


Monday, December 17, 2012

An Interview with Michael Robotham

Delving into Dark Minds
An interview with best-selling thriller author
Michael Robotham

His readers want him to write faster and he wants them to read more slowly. In order to churn out a book a year, the international best-selling thriller author Michael Robotham is working sweat-shop hours.
Back in 2004 whilst writing his first novel, The Suspect, his day would start at nine in the morning with an hour for lunch, before working through till five and back in the evening and working again until eleven. Eight years later with seven more books gracing the best-seller lists and a resume that includes twice winning the Australian Ned Kelly Award, short-listings in UK Crime Writers Association Steel Dagger, ITV3 Thriller Awards, the South Africa's Boeke Prize and listings on “International Book of the Month”, making it the top recommendation to 28 million book club members in fifteen countries, you would think by now he could relax and enjoy the success.
“I’m still working long hours, which is a legacy of doing a book a year,” he admits. With his books selling in the millions and translated into twenty-two languages and published in more than 50 countries, Robotham finds that the success has brought even greater demands on his time, “answering correspondence, doing interviews, maintaining websites and touring.” 
During this interview he was between his North American and Canadian tours to promote his latest thriller, Say You’re Sorry, a dark, psychological crime story featuring psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin.
In the fourth O’Loughlin novel (The Suspect, Shatter, Bleed for Me) he returns to consult on the brutal murder of a husband and wife in a farmhouse in the small UK town of Bingham. Co-incidentally it had been the home of teenager Tash McBain, who along with her friend Piper had gone missing three years prior—neither girl was ever found.
“The seed of the idea for the story was sown ten years ago,” explains Robotham, “when two girls disappeared from the small village of Soham in Cambridgeshire. There is a very poignant photograph of them wearing matching Manchester United shirts, which was taken only hours before they went missing.”
“Holly and Jessica were best friends and they died at the hands of a school caretaker called Ian Huntley. In the weeks before their bodies were found, the entire nation clung to hope and hung on every scrap of information. There were prayer vigils and messages of support and makeshift monuments of flowers. It was as though these girls didn’t just belong to their families, they belonged to everyone.”
            Robotham wanted to explore the idea of public and private grief behind tragic stories that capture the public imagination and trigger what psychologists have termed ‘mourning sickness’ but wrap it inside a mystery of the ultimate fate of the girls. “O’Loughlin has such a wonderful sense of humanity and humour,” he says. “He can lead readers into dark places and confidently bring them back again.”   
Despite Joe O’Loughlin’s popularity with readers he won’t always feature in upcoming novels. When he first appeared in The Suspect it was never Robotham’s intention to write a series. “I wanted to do stand-alones. At my publisher’s insistence, I compromised and created a cast of characters who appear in the books. I only went back to Joe as the narrator when I came up with the idea for Shatter. It is such a pure psychological thriller that it needed someone like Joe to tell the story. Joe came back in Bleed for Me because my wife insisted I sort out his personal life. I didn’t manage that—so maybe Joe will keep appearing occasionally. He won’t be the star of twenty novels but may appear as a minor character now and then. When readers see him happy, they may never see him again.”
Robotham was initially excited to tour his new book in mid-August when it first launched in Australia. “Finally I could leave my ‘pit of despair’ basement office and talk to some real people. I could meet passionate readers and catch up with other authors.”
But after two months of touring in Australia, the UK and North America, he admits he is “pretty exhausted”. He laments, “It’s a perversity of the process that I’m deep into a new novel which is the focus of my energy and excitement. So my mind is in two places. I’m also a long way from my family and missing them desperately.”
Home is Sydney's northern beaches with his wife, Vivien, and three daughters. Since Say You’re Sorry’s dual narrative is also that of one of the teenage kidnap victims it begs the question of the emotional toll of writing every parent’s nightmare.
 “Every parent has those moments when they lose sight of their child in a supermarket or on a busy street and for thirty seconds they feel sheer terror. Or they sit at home on a stormy night, looking at the clock. Someone they love is late home and not answering their cell phone. That’s when the darkness creeps into our thoughts. As Goya said, ‘The sleep of reason produces monsters’.”
This is the fear Robotham admits that he taps into when he writes. “All my nightmares revolve around my daughters. Perhaps I’m subconsciously trying to allay my worst fears, by writing about them. Do I scare myself?  Sometimes.”
In Shatter, one of the characters did get under the author’s skin. “One of the dual narrators is a man who terrorises women by breaking their spirit and their minds. Entering his skin and looking at the world through his eyes was particularly horrible. I remember coming upstairs and having scalding hot showers and curling up in bed trying to get his voice out of my head.”
So why despite this does he continue to enter these dark minds with the added pressure of producing a book a year to keep fans and Publishers happy? Robotham’s answer: “Stephen King was once asked, ‘Why do you write such dark and twisted stories?’ and he replied, ‘What makes you think I have a choice?’
To read the review of SAY YOU'RE SORRY CLICK HERE.
Visit Michael Robotham's official Website for more information about this author.

'Say You're Sorry' by Michael Robotham ★ ★ ★★ ½


“Nobody writes like Robotham” is stamped across the cover of my review copy of his latest thriller, ‘Say You’re Sorry’.  After reading this fourth addition to his ‘Joseph O'Loughlin’ series, I would have to say if anyone does write like him then they too can count themselves as a master storyteller.
I dare anyone to begin reading this and not finish it in more than four or five sittings.  As a bedtime reader, the only thing that drew me away was sleep and I cursed my weary eyes each time.  Robotham has written a credible rounded character in psychologist Joseph O'Loughlin, suffering not only from early stage Parkinson’s disease but, also, separation from his wife.  He doesn’t arrive at conclusions easily but as he is drawn into solving the mystery of a brutal double murder and two missing teenagers, the twists tangle themselves around our hero as much as the reader.
Police believe that teenage best friends, Piper and Tash, who went missing one Sunday morning, will never be found and are likely dead.  In reality they are still held in a dark basement by a sadistic captor. 
Three years later, O’Loughlin is brought in to consult on a couple murdered at a farmhouse in a blizzard.  A young man with psychological problems claiming to be innocent is the chief suspect.
Simultaneously, a young girl’s body is found in the nearby frozen river.  Only O’Loughlin senses that the seemingly unrelated deaths could be connected and possibly linked to the girl’s kidnapping.   
We know the girls are alive as Piper’s narrative describes the girl’s disappearance and horrors of captivity over the years.  The story switches artfully between her viewpoint and O’Loughlin’s with each adding to the building suspense.  Piper desperately plots to escape their captor and O’Loughlin, just as desperately, attempts to solve the girl’s puzzling disappearance.
You will think you see the twists and turns coming but you will be wrong and that is the best kind of thriller.  This one is that good, that for many books afterwards, I found myself cursing, “Nobody writes like Robotham”.

My review copy of SAY YOU'RE SORRY supplied by Hachette Australia. For more information about this book, click through to Hachette website HERE.   Available now for $29.99


Born in Australia in November 1960, Michael Robotham grew up in small country towns that had more dogs than people and more flies than dogs. He escaped in 1979 and became a cadet journalist on an afternoon newspaper in Sydney.
For the next fourteen years he wrote for newspapers and magazines in Australia, Britain and America.
In 1993 he quit journalism to become a ghostwriter, collaborating with politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and show business personalities to write their autobiographies. Twelve of these non-fiction titles were bestsellers with combined sales of more than 2 million copies.
His first novel 'The Suspect', a psychological thriller, was chosen by the world’s largest consortium of book clubs as only the fifth “International Book of the Month”, making it the top recommendation to 28 million book club members in fifteen countries. It has been translated into twenty-two languages.
His second novel 'Lost' won the Ned Kelly Award for the Crime Book of the Year in 2005, given by the Australian Crime Writers Association. It was also shortlisted for the 2006 Barry Award for the BEST BRITISH NOVEL published in the US in 2005.
Michael's subsequent novels 'The Night Ferry' and 'Shatter' were both shortlisted for UK Crime Writers Association Steel Dagger in 2007 and 2008. 'Shatter' was also shortlisted in the inaugural ITV3 Thriller Awards in the UK and for South Africa's Boeke Prize. In August 2008 'Shatter' won the Ned Kelly award for Australia's best crime novel. More recently, 'Bleed for Me' – Michael's sixth novel – was shortlisted for the 2010 Ned Kelly Award. His latest novel 'The Wreckage' has won universal praise and was described by Nelson De Mille as 'one of the best novels to come out of the chaos of Iraq.'
Michael can most often be found working in his 'pit of despair' (basement office) on Sydney's northern beaches where he funds the extravagant lifestyles of a wife and three daughters.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Penguin Specials by various authors

You’ve just finished that mammoth five-hundred-page book, or if you are reading Stephen King that one-thousand-page door-stop and you’re not sure whether you can face meeting new characters and building a relationship.  You need a break.  It’s a big commitment starting a book and investing that time and trust with another author.
But you love to read, right?  If you’re like me, you enjoy just laying there at night for half an hour flitting off to another world before you close your eyes to sleep.  Or you want something for that commute to work or the lunch break or to have something so you know where your reading next.
Well for those eReader lovers, Penguin Books Australia has exactly what you need.  They’ve come up with an innovative series entitled “Penguin Specials” and have delved into their formidable treasure trove of essays and stories to provide a growing selection of shorts from “today's best and most exciting writers” at an affordable price and only available in digital format.  All the titles are compatible with a range of handheld reading devices. 
Discover or reacquaint yourself with fabulous Australian authors such as Elizabeth Jolley, Dorothy Hewett, Peter Goldsworth, Robert Drewe and Helen Garner, to name a few. You will never have the time to read books from every author but what a wonderful opportunity to sample the work of some our greatest literary minds.
Do check them out and for the price of coffee feed your reader and your mind.  I’ve already indulged myself with a few titles and here are some of my favourites.

Click here to view more PENGUIN SPECIALS


PRICE:   $2.99
This is an evocative piece, beautifully written by prize winning author Robert Drewe, famous for his highly awarded memoir, "The Shark Net".  Here he has captured the very flavour of Australia.
Haunted by the brutal murder of a local couple, David heads to his weekend shack with his new lover, Lydia, and his children from his recently crumbled marriage. Together they find escape, if only briefly, in the ocean and the bush.
The Bodysurfers, the title story of Robert Drewe's classic first collection, is a vivid evocation of love, passion, terror and the beauty of the beach.
BEAUTY’S SISTER by James Bradley
PRICE:   $3.99

I loved this alternate tale to Rapunzel. It’s dark and imaginative and simply written; a bedtime story for young adults and adults. I hope Mr. Bradley reworks a few more fairy tales.
Juniper, living deep in the forest with her parents, is stunned to discover that the beautiful girl living isolated in a nearby tower is her sister. When the two girls meet, what begins as a fascination and a friendship ultimately develops into something truly sinister.
A story of jealousy, passion and power, Beauty's Sister is a dark and gripping reimagining of one of our oldest tales, Rapunzel...

SIX WOMEN OF LETTERS curated by Michaela McGuire and Marieke Hardy
PRICE:   $3.99

I cannot tell you how much I loved reading these letters.  Whilst I think we are all growing a little weary of the newspaper’s love affairs with a “letter to my sixteen-year-old self”. (Everywhere I turn somebody remotely famous is writing a letter to themselves.) 
However, these letters are of a different nature. They are thoughtful, beautifully conceived and written with heart. I particularly loved Ita Buttrose’s musings on the life she may have had.  Haven’t we all thought if I’d just walked that road instead of this...?  Here one of our most successful icons muses with great insight.
In homage to that most civilised of activities, letter writing, Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire created the literary afternoons of Women of Letters. Some of Australia's finest dames of stage, screen and page have delivered missives on a series of themes.
Published here for the first time are Deborah Conway writing about the ups and downs of being a dog owner in A Letter to the Best Decision I Ever Made; Ita Buttrose imagining an alternative life as an opera singer in A Letter to the Life I Could Have Lived; Tracee Hutchison writing A Complaint Letter to complaint letters; Pip Lincolne describing a magical childhood afternoon in A Letter to the Moment I Knew it Was Time to Go Home; A Love Letter from Kate Miller-Heidke aged twenty-nine to Kate Miller-Heidke aged twelve; and Helen Garner looking back on a teacher both terrifying and inspiring in A Letter to the Person I Misjudged

THE KISS by Peter Goldsworthy 
PRICE:   $2.99

           This story has a twist that bites.  Thank goodness I was reading it on my Kobo because my other hand was free to cover my mouth in horror.  How things can go so terribly wrong so easily. This is the quintessential Australian short story told by a master who knows how to grab you by the throat and squeeze until it hurts.
A short shot of brilliant storytelling – one of the most celebrated modern Australian short stories is now available to read by itself, wherever you are.
 Drunk, restless and excited, Kenny and Tom decide to continue their night with a swim in the local water tank. At first exuberant and elated, the teenagers' adventure takes a terrifying turn when they realise they are trapped in the tank with no way out.
 Dark and gripping, Peter Goldsworthy's The Kiss is a classic Australian short story from one of our masters of the form.
PRICE:   $2.99

Okay, I’m partial to a ghost story and there are ghosts here but handled in such beautiful literary prose I felt like an eavesdropper on a 1920’s Australian family.  Immensely evocative and entertaining, it was a doorway I enjoyed entering and I was sorry when I had to leave.
A classic short story from one Australia's most celebrated writers.  A big old Victorian terrace in Jersey Road, Woollahra, is thought to be haunted by the two Darkling sisters from the 1920s. When a young family moves in, dark images of these sisters, and of relationships closer to home, hang over them.
 Beautifully crafted and keenly observed, this story from Dorothy Hewett's acclaimed collection A Baker's Dozen is a stunning evocation of family, memories and neighbourhood.


          If you have read any of these Penguin Shorts or have some more that you have enjoyed from Penguin Shorts that you would like to recommend, please do leave us a comment.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowlings ★ ★ ★★

It’s as far from Harry Potter as a muggle is from a wizard.  The first book from Harry’s creator J.K. Rowlings certainly contains not a scrap of magic and not a wand in sight.  In fact, within the first two chapters the C-bomb and other choice curse words are dropped enough times that you are left in no doubt that the next five hundred pages are not for the prudish and definitely not for children. 
‘It’s a big book about a small town’, says the publicity blurb and the small town is Pagford where a much loved resident Barry Fairweather has died unexpectedly leaving behind a mourning wife and family, and a town of people who either win or lose from his death.
 You see, Barry was on the Parish council and his death means there is now a ‘Casual Vacancy’ on that council.  There is much at stake. The ‘big’ city of Yarvil has built a slum suburb, the Fields, on the boundaries of the peaceful, quaint Pagford.  Barry was fighting on the council to have the unlovable Fields become part of Pagford which would be a disaster in the minds of many residents.
As several townsfolk vie for his seat, we realise Pagford is a town divided by discrimination, prejudice and just plain nasty gossip.  The teenage characters are no better with drug-taking, casual sex, bullying, cyber-vandalism and even skin-cutting constant past-times.
But is it good? That is the question on everyone’s lips.  This is a literary book written by an author who is undoubtedly the master of characterisation.  The characters, awful as they are, stand up from the pages like holograms sucking you into Rowling's world.  It is a soap-opera of the literary degree and if you enjoy eavesdropping and finding characters that are more life-like than we care to know, then this book is for you.  If you are looking for escapism and a fantasy world where good wins over evil then ‘The Casual Vacancy’ will disappoint. This is a book by an assured author who wrote not for her fans but herself and who loves even the ugliest of her characters. And I found much magic in that.

Review Copy supplied by Hachette Australia.  For more information please visit
Release Dates:
Australia and New Zealand: October 2012
U.K.:  October 2012
USA Release:  October 2012

J.K Rowling is the author of the bestselling Harry Potter series of seven books, published between 1997 and 2007, which have sold over 450 million copies worldwide, are distributed in more than 200 territories, translated into 73 languages and have been turned into eight blockbuster films. She has also written two small volumes, which appear as the titles of Harry's schoolbooks within the novels. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages were published by Bloomsbury Children's Books in March 2001 in aid of Comic Relief.
In December 2008, The Tales of Beedle the Bard was published in aid of the Children's High Level Group and quickly became the fastest selling book of the year. As well as an OBE for services to children's literature, J.K Rowling is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees including the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, France's Legion d'Honneur and the Hans Christian Andersen Award and she has been a Commencement Speaker at Harvard University USA. She supports a wide number of charitable causes through her charitable trust Volant and is the founder of Lumos, a charity working to transform the lives of disadvantaged children.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Penguin Australia offers FREE short story

            Destiny Romance, Penguin Australia’s digital romance imprint is offering romance lovers a free digital short story by popular romance author Anne Gracie this month. Anyone who registers at, will have the opportunity to read The Laird’s Vow, a charming historical romance by this three time shortlisted RITA award author.
               Launched in August in Australia, Destiny Romance is quickly gathering momentum. The imprint which publishes eBooks across the romance genres of contemporary, historical, suspense, paranormal, fantasy, sci-fi and erotica, has a strong emphasis on discovering new Australian voices in the world of romantic writing.
            The Destiny Romance website also allows readers internationally to purchase eBooks from the site, so they can enjoy their Destiny Romance eBooks anywhere – from the coffee shops of New York, to the tube stations of London and the beaches of Queensland.
             The Penguin team behind Destiny Romance, Sarah Fairhall and Carol George, said “We are proud to be delivering Australian stories in a genre we both love, in a format that reflects changing tastes and times, and to a worldwide audience.”
           Destiny Romance releases two new eBook titles every month.

Current titles available include:

Wish by Kelly Hunter
Harbinger by Peta Crake
Small Town Storm by Elise K Ackers
The Convenient Bride by Jennifer St George
CityGlitter by Carla Caruso
Double Exposure by Charmaine Ross
Rules are for Breaking by Imelda Evans
Princess Avenger by Bernadette Rowley

So, who is up for some romance to fill their e-Reader?


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom ★ ★ ★★


Years ago I wept as I read Mitch Abom’s ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’.  So when I saw he had a new book on the horizon I thought now was a good time to reacquaint myself with his unusual style and take on the world.
In ‘The Time-Keeper’, he writes an engrossing parable on the meaning and value of time. Imagine if you didn’t have a word for time?  There wouldn’t be a tomorrow. There would be no plans for next weekend.  We would live in the moment.  It’s a difficult thing to imagine in this technological world we now inhabit, where every second, thanks to smart phones and iPads is usually filled with some kind of plan. 
Our world before the concept of time is the place into which Abom first introduces us to his lead character. Dor, an early inventor, one day happens upon the measurement of time, building the first sun-dial and devising other concepts for tracking time.  When Dor’s beloved wife Alli falls ill he confronts and challenges God to save her.  In response God banishes him to a mystical cave where he is transformed into Father Time, and then forced to endure the constant pleading from the inhabitants of earth forever. They beg for more time, less time, time to speed up, and time to slow down; the time he invented now rules the world.
As his soul withers from the constant voices and the monotony of isolation, he is granted the chance to escape his prison by saving two seemingly unconnected people using a magical hourglass.  Sarah Lemon is counting down time as she anticipates her first date.  Victor Delamonte, one of the world’s richest men, finds his wealth can’t save him from a terminal disease, until he devises a scheme to cheat death.   How can Dor save these two people when he cannot even save himself?
This very question kept me reading way past my bedtime.  Abom writes in a unique and simplistic style but his lessons are deep and thought provoking.  Whilst reading you will be reminded of at least one truth: time passes quickly when you hold in your hands a fabulous book.


MITCH ALBOM is an internationally renowned and best-selling author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster and musician. His books have collectively sold over 33 million copies worldwide; have been published in forty-one territories and in forty-two languages around the world.
All three of Albom’s best sellers have been turned into successful TV movies. Oprah Winfrey produced the film version of Tuesdays With Morrie in December 1999, starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria. The film garnered four Emmy awards, including best TV film, director, actor and supporting actor. The critically acclaimed Five People You Meet in Heaven aired on ABC in winter, 2004. Directed by Lloyd Kramer, the film was the most watched TV movie of the year, with 19 million viewers. Oprah Winfrey Presents Mitch Albom’s For One More Day aired on ABC in December 2007 and earned Ellen Burstyn a Screen Actors Guild nomination. Most recently. Hallmark Hall of Fame produced the film adaptation of Have a Little Faith, which aired on ABC in November 2011. It starred Laurence Fishburne, Bradley Whitford, Martin Landau, and Anika Noni Rose.
In 2010, Albom was named the recipient of the Red Smith Award for lifetime achievement by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
He lives with his wife, Janine, in Detroit, MI.
To learn more about Mitch Albom visit