Category Archives: Novels

Xmas 2019 Gift Recs for Readers and Writers

If you’re hunting for last minute gifts for the lovelies in your life (or your lovely self) I’ve brought together some recommendations of books I’ve reviewed throughout the year.

Crime for all tastes

Emma Viskic’s Caleb Zelic trilogy began with Resurrection Bay then And Fire Came Down, and the fabulous Darkness for Light came out in December this year. It’s a great triple-hit for the crime lover in your life.

Another set of trilogies for crime lovers that are also suitable for YA readers are Ellie Marney’s “Every” series (Every Breath, Every Word and Every Move) which are a kind of Holmesian YA reworking set in Australia, and the “Circus Hearts” books (All the Little Bones, All Fall Down and All Aces).

I love a cosy crime set in a place I know, especially when it’s full of delicious recipes and delicious Scottish men, so let me throw confetti over Livia Day’s whole Cafe La Femme series. One short (The Blackmail Blend) is an ebook but the rest: A Trifle Dead, Drowned Vanilla and the latest, Keep Calm and Kill the Chef, are all available in paperback!

Science Fiction

I remain delighted that LynC’s superb Nil By Mouth was re-released this year, and even though it’s harrowing in places it’s also filled with compassion.

Alison Evans’ Highway Bodies is the zombie apocalypse for today’s diverse YA reader (and I’m very excited to have their latest, Euphoria Kids, on my review pile – it comes out in February).

Of course, Twelfth Planet Press continues to bring amazing work to the world, and their Mother of Invention anthology, edited by Rivqa Rafael & Tansy Rayner Roberts, is something special for the SF reader in your life.

Sherlock Holmes

Improbable Press is settling in to its new home with Clan Destine Press, but has put out a few books this year: Tessa Barding’s The Case of the Misplaced Models and another of its 221b series (short stories of exactly 221 words, the last of which starts with the letter B) in A Question of Time by Jamie Ashbird with illustrations by Janet Anderton.

And, while it’s a few years old, Joe Ide’s interpretation of what a Holmes and Watson might be like if they were born in a tough black LA neighbourhood, IQ, is fantastic and I’ll be looking up the rest in the series in the new year.

Travel

For armchair travellers, Lonely Planet has some lovely books for both adults and children. You can explore the monsters of the world in The Atlas of Monsters and Ghosts or travel to the stars in The Universe: A Travel Guide. Two more Lonely Planet Kids books have recently arrived for review (Wild in the City and Myths and Legends of the World), so I’m looking forward to reading more sumptuously illustrated and quirky travel books this month.

Support your local blogger

If you’d like to support this writer, there are of course the books I released this year: paperbacks Kitty and Cadaver and Scar Tissue and Other Stories, and the anthology War of the Worlds: Battleground Australia.

Ebooks

I have a other recommendations for your summer reading, but as many of these are ebooks and so not as well designed for gifting, I’ll cover those in my next post.

Review: Keep Calm and Kill the Chef by Livia Day

Cover art: Keep Calm and Kill the Chef

I have previously blogged my absolute delight with the Cafe La Femme series by Livia Day (the name Tansy Rayner Roberts uses when she’s moonlighting as a writer of crime!)

The previous two novels and novella in this series came out a little while back, and I’ve been waiting not-entirely-patiently for this third novel to appear via Twelfth Planet Press’s Deadlines imprint. Whatever the delay, it’s been worth the wait.

Blurb for Keep Calm and Kill the Chef

Scones, tea, and a stabbing…

When Tabitha Darling entered Cafe La Femme in a reality TV show hosted by an infamous “bad boy” Chef, she never expected to be a suspect in his murder.

When Xanthippe Carides quit working in a cafe to become a private detective, she never expected one of her first cases would be keeping Tabitha out of jail…

These two friends have a mystery to solve, and only one of them is telling the whole truth.

The first treat in store is that the whole series been re-released with stunning covers by Cathy Larsen. Look at these pretty things! (And look for the details and some wonderful murdery symbols!)

The story is exactly the kind of delicious, crime-riddled confection of mystery, frocks, mouth-watering recipes, badassery and glitter I’ve come to expect from any story featuring Hobart chef, Tabitha Darling.

Keep Calm and Kill the Chef is structured like one of Tabitha’s more complex recipes. The viewpoint shifts between Tabitha and her best friend, newly minted private eye Xanthippe Carides, while it also flips timelines before and after the murder: and all of this with perfect ease and lightness of touch.

Like all the Cafe La Femme stories, Keep Calm and Kill the Chef is a little hyper-real, set in a heightened Hobart and full of characters who are collectively more vivid than you’d expect to find in one group of friends. From catsuit-wearing Xanthippe to frock-and-glittery Ceege, from bizarrely hip hipsters to unexpectedly knife-throwing-skilled kitchenfolk, everyone is bright and shiny. Even the villains.

And of course there’s Tabitha, who is a little manic, a lot stubborn and keeping many, many secrets. Her love life is a melange, as usual, between her actual boyfriend, policeman Leo Bishop, and her just-very-excellent-good-friend Stewart McTavish, the delectable Scot. (Kiss him Tabitha, damnit!)

(Okay, I admit it, I am 100% #McTabitha.)

Keep Calm and Kill the Chef is a delightful book, with enough light touches and enough complex notes to be thoroughly satisfying. The mystery dishes up all the clues, red herrings and puzzling twists that any reader of cosy crime could wish for. Using Hobart as a locale adds a dash of charm for those who like the setting to be one of the characters. The wonderful array of characters and all their inter-relationships add layers of reasons to care about the outcome as the chef-killer becomes less of an abstract puzzle and more of an actually-trying-to-kill-you presence.

In short, this book is fabulous, with enough fluff for fun, enough grit to make the stakes high, and enough heart for everything to matter.

Buy Keep Calm and Kill the Chef (available September 19, 2019)

U.S.-only Grounded Special Offer to 1 July

Grounded is one of the best paranormal romances I’ve read

~ Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Goodreads.

“… a sweet, empowering tale of renewal.”

~ D. Antonio (Amazon)

All this week and next, from 17 June to 1 July 2019, US-based retailers are having a price promo on my spec-fic winged romance, Grounded!

That’s right: if you’re in the USA, you can pick up Grounded (only available in ebook format) for 99c!

The blurb:

In a world where wings give everyone the freedom to fly, an artist born wingless uses her art to show the winged world the wonder of the ground. But when she meets a recently injured police officer who finds himself grounded, they will both learn that there is more than one way to soar.

Read more about Grounded.


The world held me captive and I would love to read more within it!

~ Deborah, Goodreads

The participating US companies that I know of include iTunes, Amazon US, Kobo and Google Play, but other US-based retailers may also be taking part. Let me know in the comments if you find another!

NOTE: The offer is only available in US stores (so if you’re not in the US, geo-blocking may prevent you from accessing the deal).


…romance a beat away from the norm.

~ Kelsie, Goodreads

New life for ‘Nil By Mouth’ and ‘The Fear Collectors’.

Shooting Star Press is bringing back to the Australian genre scene some very bright stars that paradoxically contain some very dark matter – as you can tell from these magnificently unsettling covers.

I was delighted and honoured when publisher Cath Brinkley asked me to introduce two of their newly republished works at their Continuum 15 launch in June 2019.

Nil by Mouth by LynC

I first read Nil By Mouth in 2014 and was profoundly captured by the story of Ale, a human being who undergoes many emotional and physical transformations in the course of an alien invasion. 

Nil By Mouth is many things: deeply horrific and deeply humane; filled with thoughtless cruelty and mindful compassion. It’s unexpected and unpredictable and entirely marvellous. I’m so pleased that Shooting Star Press is bringing this impressive work back into print.

And as unsettling as the cover is on first glance, I’m growing to love it more and more. What we think we see at first isn’t actually what’s happening.

What seems on the surface monstrous is something else: from the blue alien eye that, with time, appears to be gazing on Ale with compassion; and Ale’s rock-bottom despair is on the verge of the what-comes-next, the hope that’s about to bring him from the abyss. (Of course, I have the benefit of hindsight – I’ve read the book!). Lewis Morley has been as extraordinary with this cover as LynC as been with its contents!

Buy Nil By Mouth

The Fear Collectors by Lauren E Mitchell

Do you know that feeling in dreams that begin to morph from thing to another and it makes sense because that’s just how it is in dreams?

That’s sort of The Fear Collectors, which is adventure/horror meets YA meets surreal science fiction meets hello-I-wasn’t-expecting-that-to-happen. Or that. That either.

It’s like how dreams start so simply and non-threatening sometimes and proceeds to take weird left turn after turn until you don’t know what’s what.

One minute you’re bicycling down a hill in your pyjamas and then suddenly you’re wearing a backpack full of hardcover books but no they’re moving (and are rats now) and you’ve cycled off a cliff and if you pedal fast enough you’ll keep in the air and then you’re at a picnic (the bikes are leaning against the stone wall) and everyone has baguettes and you hear music and get up and can’t find how to turn the music off so it doesn’t wake up everybody else (and you don’t want to even think about who all those everybody elses are) and then you actually wake up and you’re still in bed and everything feels bent out of shape even though you know you were only dreaming, or at least you think you were, and you’re not still dreaming, and you *are* awake now, aren’t you?

The Fear Collectors zings through its paces like that, from placid to terrifying; from youthful adventure to nightmare fuel; and dark horror to SF, all the way to the end.

Buy The Fear Collectors