Secrets Between Friends by Fiona Palmer

“What is really important in this life?”

A wonderful page turner… A story of hope among family, friendship with a hint of romance…
You will laugh, sigh and shed a
tear.. or two..

A story of three best friends who embark on a luxury cruise and long-held secrets that spill in the confines of a cruise ship

 

Release Date: September 2017

Before I read this novel, I read that this is the first time the author had written something that was not a rural romance as it is set in the city and on the coast so I was interested in giving this a go as I’m sure writing this story would have taken the author out of her comfort zone. I also don’t normally read adult contemporary fiction so this book really was a nice change of pace for me.. and I was not disappointed.

This story follows besties Abbie, Jess and Ricki who are about to set sail on a cruise ship as they did when they were still in school and without meaning to, their secrets are exposed while they’re on their voyage. As the story flows, it explores such deep issues that I didn’t expect to see in a story – issues that are common among adults that everyone seems to take for granted – things like domestic violence, terminal illness or on a smaller scale, how adults feel when they are stuck in ruts whether in their jobs or social spheres.

Set in Australia, the story was so beautifully written and for someone who doesn’t normally cry whilst reading fiction, this story felt real – it felt like I was listening to a conversation among my girlfriends. I would recommend this to readers of adult contemporary fiction and if you are a Fiona Palmer fan and are used to her normal style of writing, I am sure you would enjoy this one too.

Special thanks to Hachette Publishers for sending me an Advanced Review Copy + the cute novelty beach chair in exchange for my honest review!

-Annie

 

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Losing Lola by Kirsty Dallas & Exclusive Author Interview with Kirsty

“I took a deep breath as my eyes lowered to the scars on her chest. “They are the battle wounds of a warrior who went to hell and kicked its ass. They are proof of how strong you are, and a reminder that you are alive!” – Losing Lola by Kirsty Dallas

 Intense, captivating and romantic.

Losing Lola is an intense story of mental strength, healing and love overcoming the aftermath of sexual assault. The story has a lot of soul and romance which makes it a captivating read – did I mention that it’s also very sexy? It’s not for the faint-hearted and parts of Lola’s assault experience can be quite confronting. What I liked about this book is that even though Drew was a tough, quiet, military hottie who rescues Lola physically, it’s Lola who pulls herself from her own internal demons and fears. Also in a way, her femininity and vulnerability saved Drew from his past and his shadows. It’s realistic that Lola had a great support network called Mercy’s Angels (women’s shelter) to help her overcome her experience. I liked that the chapters alternate from Lola and Drew’s perspectives, their voices in the story are very different which I felt was well done. The story progresses at a fast pace, there’s a good portion of the story dedicated to Drew and Lola’s relationship development. The message at the end of the book which I thought is highly relevant says “Sexual assault is something you experience. It does not define you.”  I recommend this for romance adult readers and those who enjoys a sexy read. This book can be read as a stand-alone!

– NJ


EXCLUSIVE AUTHOR INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR KIRSTY DALLAS

So how does author Kirsty Dallas write such a compelling romance novel and how does she “stay classy, sassy, and a little bad assy”?

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I continued the series as simply a way to highlight and bring attention to these sensitive and important topics.

1. As this is one of the first books I have read in the Mercy’s Angel’s series, could you tell us a bit more about the series and what inspired you to write them?

[KIRSTY]  The entire Mercy’s Angels series revolves around violence against women, whether it be child abuse, domestic abuse, or sexual assault, each book follows the heartache, fear and healing a woman goes through when she’s been the victim of such an assault. Mercy’s Angels is a women’s shelter that plays an important role in the healing of each character. The first book in the series, Saving Ella, was written as a healing tool for myself. As a domestic abuse survivor, this was my way of expressing my own fears, healing and dreams. I continued the series as simply a way to highlight and bring attention to these sensitive and important topics. (The next book in this series will actually tackle the subject of the emotional and physical abuse of a man in a relationship, because it’s not just women who are victims of these crimes and I really want to explore and acknowledge that).

2. What are your top 3 tips on writing compelling characters?

[KIRSTY] Plausibility – your character needs to be three dimensional, with real flaws, fears and emotions. Write about characters who display human virtues, characters that readers can look up to and admire. Writing can be very much like acting, in the sense you need to be your character, you need to think like they would, you need to put yourself outside your comfort zone and explore different emotions, and situations you may not have been in before.

3. Sexual assault can be a very difficult subject matter to explore, what was some of your challenges in writing this novel?

[KIRSTY] I spent a lot of time watching documentaries, and reading biography’s about survivors of sexual assault. This obviously took an emotional toll, spending so much time in the lives of women who had been so deeply scarred by their assault. I just wanted to reach out and hug each of these women, I wanted to make sure they knew their worth, their strength and their ability to overcome such an invasive trauma. Being made to feel so powerless, having something so personal taken from you by force, it’s terrifying, and eventually I had to try and put myself mentally in that situation to create Lola. Needless to say, it was a long and difficult six months of writing.

4. Can you tell us a little bit about your other works?

My current work in progress, Stupid Love (a comedy romance about Cameron Cupid, the child of Eros (God of Love), who in actual fact, hates love).

[KIRSTY] Outside of the Mercy’s Series, I have three standalone novels, Breeze Of Life (which is a road-trip adventure about a girl recovering from cancer), Violet Addiction (which is best friends to lovers romance and tackles drug addiction), and When Nothing Is All You’ve Got (A dystopian romance based in an underground prison). Decker’s Wood is my International Best Seller (a comedy romance about a porn star whose main attraction – his wood – stops performing), Bradley’s Whistle is a spin-off from Decker’s Wood (about a female porn star who escapes some bad press by fleeing to the UK) and my current work in progress, Stupid Love (a comedy romance about Cameron Cupid, the child of Eros (God of Love), who in actual fact, hates love).

5. If there is one message readers can take away from your debut novel, what are you hoping it would be?

[KIRSTY] Strength and survival, you can and therefore you will!

6. How did you come up with the characters for your story?

[KIRSTY] The characters for Losing Lola were developed over three of the Mercy’s books, playing minor roles until it was their time to shine. In Lola I wanted a woman who was flawed. She is socially awkward and has for a long time tackled OCD, but she’s also strong, and independent, and prior to her assault she was completely content with the woman she was. Drew is a man who has made more than his fair share of mistakes, he’s the big, silent and intimidating type. Drew and Lola were two characters who were so unlike, and yet it was these differences that made them work.

7. How did you complete your writing? Did you structure your day a certain way with a word target?

[KIRSTY] I have NEVER written with structure or word targets. For me, I can only write when the feeling is there. If the feeling isn’t there, I listen to music, meditate and read until inspiration hits me. I have found over the years that my writing can’t be forced. Since I’m an author who really enters my characters head space, if I’m not in the right frame of mind to do that, I don’t push it. My readers probably hate me for it because they wait longer for my books, but I will always be true to who I am as a writer. Forcing something that isn’t there will put the wrong words to paper.

8. When you’re not writing or reading, what would you be doing?

[KIRSTY] When I’m not writing, or reading, or plotting, I’m being the best mum I can be to my nine-year-old daughter. Guiding her through life, helping her become the incredible woman I know she will one day be is my number one priority.

9. As an author, what was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

[KIRSTY] The best advice I have been given, is “show it, don’t tell it”. This is something that sits in the back of my mind every time I sit down to write. I always try to make sure I’m showing the reader the world I see in my head. I want the movie real I see in my mind to be conveyed on paper in such a way that it gives the reader an incredible journey.

 

Thank you Kirsty for sharing your insights and for the opportunity to review your book. Please keep writing and we’re excited about your current work Stupid Love.

Inspired by Losing Lola, our BFF and creative partner  The Curio Boutique has made a little thank you gift based off your book! We hope you will like it.

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Designed and handmade by The Curio Boutique

Book review by NJ and Author Exclusive Interview by NJ and Annie. 

 

Exclusive Interview with New Adult Author: C.J Duggan

Founder of Read3r’z Re-Vu Annie teams up with Founder of Book Buddy Designs/Blogger Tianna for an exclusive blog interview with International New Adult Best Seller, Australian Author C.J Duggan!!!

“New York Nights” by C.J Duggan has been rated 5 stars!!
This book is amazing!!! Hands down my latest, favourite New Adult read written by Australian Author CJ Duggan. Without spoilers: the book centres on Sarah Williams, a young independent Aussie who goes to New York to be an au pair for successful businessman Ben Worthington’s baby daughter. Sarah is very relatable, she’s fun, quick witted and challenging but she still has her heart in the right place with a good sense of morals and responsibilities. Ben is a misunderstood character who I can’t say too much about or I’ll spoil the book. But I will say I found myself getting very attached to these characters and eagerly anticipating the next scene they appear in together as their chemistry is amazing. The plot of the book at first seems simplistic (not so rich girl meets hot, brooding, rich guy) but then Duggan creates a world of secrets tightly guarded by the Upper-class Worthington family. Nothing is as it seems in this family as secrets begin to be revealed with a massive plot twist towards the end which left me shocked and cheering. One of the highlights of Duggan’s writing is the way she describes Sarah’s NYC surroundings. Not just the heart of the city but also the surrounding suburbs. Duggan isn’t afraid to name drop as she describes various New York City landmarks either. Another one of Duggan’s charms is the aussie, light hearted sense of humour that fills the dialogue. You can’t help but to laugh at some of the things her character Sarah is saying. Final opinion: If you love a light and fluffy book that engages you from the first page: READ THIS BOOK. If you have no sense of humour and an intolerance for happy stories: hand it to a girlfriend who needs a laugh. After reading this book, I hope we get to meet these characters again. Maybe next time in Sydney?
-Tianna

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR OTHER TITLES IN THE SERIES: PARIS NIGHTS AND LONDON BOUND

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Let’s get to know Australian Author C..J Duggan!!


What inspired you to write your first novel?
The Boys of Summer was an idea I had when I was in my pre-teens; it was obviously just an idea that had been lying dormant waiting to be told. I became reconnected with books and writing in my twenties and it was that ancient idea that was loudest in my mind at the time. It took me only a month to complete 90,000 words, a crazy passion project that will always be close to my heart.

Do you have a particular method for writing your novels for example chocolate or having a photo of someone who inspires you on your desk?
I have to be in my office. I find it very difficult to write anywhere else, I need to be surrounded by things that inspire me, oh and cold Pepsi Max of course!

When you’re not writing, do you read romance novels?
Absolutely! Anything YA or Historical, Paranormal when the mood strike, a good romance is what keeps me turning the page.

If only one of your books were turned into a movie, which book would you prefer to see as a film adaptation and who would be the lead star?
Paradise City would make for a great adaptation. Lexie, Luke and Dean need to be brought to life! I think Aussie actress Alicia Banit from Dance Academy would be the perfect Lexie, incredibly talented I’m a big fan of her work.

What is the title of the first novel you wrote and why did you choose this particular genre to write?
The Boys of Summer was my official first title published. Back in the day New Adult wasn’t really even a thing, so it was slotted more as a ‘mature’ YA. I am so happy how much the New Adult genre has expanded, being able to push the envelope on some of the more serious subjects of this age group is very satisfying as a writer.

What was the best piece of advice you were given as an author?
Own what you do.

For new readers like myself, when did you start writing and what was your first novel you completed?
I have been writing all through my teens, only getting an online presence and connecting with the bookish community in 2010. I had written a novel during this time but it wasn’t until 2011 when I penned ‘The Boys of Summer’ and I knew that would be my first published novel.

Do you ever travel abroad as inspiration for your work?
I am usually on holidays when inspiration strikes; it was how I came up with the idea of ‘The Heart of the City’ series during a round world trip in 2015. The Paradise series came to me in LA, and brainstormed further on the Gold Coast. I plan to go on an intentional research trip next time.  

How many drafts do you tend to write before sending it off to an editor?
I usually write freely turning that editing switch off before sweeping through and cleaning it up and submitting to my editor who will do line edits and send the MS back to me. I will go through changes and then submit to a secondary editor who will concentrate on structural story development and character, plot development etc. I will go through copyedit changes, possible rewrites and bigger changes are made here. If I am happy I will then send to a proofer (usually 2 people) before sweeping through it one last time before it gets formatted.

When writing do you write sequentially or do you write different scenes at a time?
I definitely write in order. I like to go through that excitement of living through the characters and experiencing what they are experiencing. I’ll write notes, but I am generally a total pantser not a plotter so most of the time I am just as excited to see what happens next, and if I feel that way it’s my hope the reader will feel that way to. 

Who has been your most difficult character to write out of all your works and what made them difficult?
Definitely London Bound. I did massive rewrites and went through a lot of soul searching when it came to writing Jack. It’s hard when your writing head and heart are at odds, but after some serious rewrites I am so happy with what it has turned into. I honestly believe that the most difficult books tend to turn out the best, I’m not sure why that is, but I think it might be because we have to tap into a deeper a place in order to get it over the line.  

In your heart of the city series which famous city has been your favorite to write about and why?
I think New York, the character Sarah really had a sense to want to explore and was always lost in that ‘pinch yourself moment’ which I think is quite relatable when you are lost in such an iconic city as New York.

Your titles cross over a few places: London, New York, Paris.. are these places you have been to and were inspired? Also which was your favourite place to visit?
I went to all three places in 2015 so the experience was very fresh in my mind and hugely inspirational. Being able to write about characters walking the exact same street you did, or eating from a café you went to is so fun. It’s also great to think that your readers can also walk in your characters shoes given the chance.

Without spoilers: Who is your favorite character in New York Nights and why?
That would have to be my leading lady Sarah. She is really determined yet vulnerable and incredibly relatable; it was really fun to explore New York through her eyes.

Roughly how old are your characters? When I read New York Nights I pictured Ben as late 20s early 30s and Sarah as almost mid 20s to late 20s.
I usually write about characters exploring those post school years where their experiencing so many life changes. Leaving home, first job, first love, first heartbreak and all the while not having a clue what you are doing. The 20’s is about finding out who you are, making mistakes and learning from them (Hopefully) 

Have you been brave enough to book that ticket?
Ha! I’m not going to lie when I booked my round the world trip and received our paper itinerary that resembled a brick it was so thick I did have a few heart palpitations.

Which series of yours would you recommend to a new reader to read first? 
The Summer series is somewhat a classic amongst my readers it’s where it all began for me and is a light, Aussie romance set in the 90’s what’s not to love?

For further insight into C.J Duggan’s work – log onto her website: http://www.cjdugganbooks.com/

C.J Duggan, many thanks for taking the time to speak with us!!
We wish you all the best for the next chapter you may be writing!!

Special thanks to Hachette Publishers for providing us with an Advanced Review Copy in exchange for our honest review

-Interview conducted by Annie and Tianna

The Rose & the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

“It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.” – The Rose & The Dagger

Book 2 of The Wrath and The Dawn – 4 stars!

Epic and a great ending to the love story of Shazi and Khalid. After reading The Wrath and The Dawn, I was really interested and excited to read the final book and see where it all leads. Without giving away any spoilers, all I can say is that the ending is filled with emotion, twists after twists and a captivating retelling of Arabian Nights. I enjoyed the plot, the sharp biting dialogue between the characters and the magic weaved throughout the story really shined through in this final book. Recommend if you have enjoyed the first book, like strong characters, magic, plot twists and thought-provoking dialogue.

– NJ

Into the Darkness (The Dark Angel Trilogy, Book 1) by Kat T. Masen

4.5 stars – R18+ – restricted to adults only readers

What began as an affair seven years earlier has since become a tragic love story, a tale of two souls fighting to be together with only their love to guide them. But as people make mistakes, they find themselves once again reliving the past, asking the questions that have remained unanswered. Until Now.

Recommended for adults 18+ that enjoy a good romance story that has many twists and turns. This book had me intrigued from page 1 as it gave me glimpses back to where the romance started and the chain of events that lead up to where they are in their lives now. To be honest, I did get a little frustrated at first with a few of characters telling the story in their own point of view as it repeated the same events but I still could not put this book down. I was intrigued throughout the story and what was creative was the story provided snippets of relationships that eventually all comes together.

The book has a mix of dark secrets, hot steamy (descriptive) sexual encounters with lots of emotion, wit and humour. Yes, I laughed out loud while reading some chapters. Although scenes were descriptive, there is a plot that had me engrossed from beginning to end – I just had to keep turning the page to learn more and more about the development of the characters and what happens next. The moment I finished this book, I was yearning for book two.

-Lisa