Category Archives: Novels

Cover Reveal: Kitty and Cadaver

Kitty and Cadaver is being launched this weekend at Continuum – and here I’d like you all to see the gorgeous cover designed by Willsin Rowe (who has done so many fantastic covers for me!)

If you’re unable to attend Continuum for the launch, never fear – I’ll be holding a public launch in July at a Melbourne venue where Jess Harris and her band will perform some of the songs from the book!

Review: The Definitive Albert J Sterne by Julie Bozza

The Definitive Albert J Sterne

This 2019 re-release of 2012’s The Definitive Albert J Sterne brings together the original novel along with the interweaving short stories previously published as Albert J Sterne: Future Bright, Past Imperfect. The result is over 220,000 words of crime thriller/complex love story. It’s a hefty book, but it’s dealing with some fairly hefty themes while still being an enthralling and gripping story.

The Definitive Albert J Sterne” rewards the time, though. Author Julie Bozza has crafted a book that is a slow burn and often difficult thriller which is threaded through with a slow burn and often difficult love story.

FBI forensic pathologist Albert J Sterne is a brusque perfectionist, impatient with the folly of the world yet dedicated to using his superb skills to solving crime. Intensely private and putting people offside wherever he goes, few know of the childhood trauma that has led to so many layers of walls between his actions and his feelings.

Sterne meets Special Agent Fletcher Ash in 1976 while attending a crime scene that Ash discovered by chance while walking. Ash is more charming than Sterne but he has his own awkwardness within the Bureau – an ability to intuit things about cases which could leave him open to all kinds of accusations and cynicism. Ash seems almost immune to Sterne’s brusqueness; Sterne seems to find Ash less objectionable than other people.

Thus begins a friendship and FBI partnership that leads them both onto the path of a serial killer. Over nine years, their friendship evolves into a ‘friends with benefits’ and goes through many difficulties on the way to a better understanding. They both have significant faults, but one of the greatest barriers is Albert’s ruthless capacity for shoving his feelings behind a fortress and pretending he doesn’t have them. He’ll give everything to Ash through love, except any part of his true self.

Ash is hardly the model boyfriend either, and this story primarily takes place in the 80s, when to be outed would be to lose their jobs. Ash is also obsessed with the serial killer who leaves the brutalised bodies of young men buried in the woods over several states. Frequently troubled and frustrated, Ash also has some selfish tendencies when it comes to Albert.

And then there are the skin-crawlingly vivid chapters seen through the eyes and the disturbing mind of the killer himself.

The reader knows early who is behind these deaths, but whodunnit is not the point. From start to finish, The Definitive Albert J Sterne is a psychological drama about love, trauma and death. It does go from dark into the light, but there is a lot of dark to work through first.

The writing is always clear and crisp, but the subject matter and Ash and Sterne’s never-easy relationship can be challenging as everything unfolds. I’ve said that it’s dark, and yet the core of it – Albert’s uneasiness about his love for Ash; Ash’s sometimes oblivious but ultimately utter conviction in his love for Albert – is a light of hope all the way through.

No solution comes in a hurry, but come it does, with great texture, compassion and deft understanding of human nature in a compelling thriller.

Content warning:

Because the story line deals with a serial killer, who gets his own chapters that give horrible but necessary insight into his state of mind, as well as descriptions of abuse, torture and violent crimes,  Bozza has included a content warning in the book. This isn’t a light romance or cosy crime story – it’s gritty, often gruesome in its detail, and as excellent as it is, if the topics make you squeamish it doesn’t hurt to read that spoiler-free content warning in full.

Buy The Definitive Albert J Sterne

Review: Highway Bodies by Alison Evans

It’s always fabulous to have new zombie fiction set in Australia, and it’s ten times as grand when the zombie fiction in question has as much personality, drama and heart as Alison Evans’ new YA book, Highway Bodies.

The story is divided into three-chapter sections: the first from the point of view of a teen near the epicentre of the zombie outbreak; the second from a  group of young musicians taking a week away in the country to work on songs; the third a pair of non-identical twins whose mother is a nurse at a hospital where the outbreak is getting out of hand.

These young people are diverse and queer. As their stories are told and eventually converge, we learn that the world has always been hostile for them – the twins, for example, bear scars inflicted by a violent father. In trying to survive, each group is aware that other survivors are just as – or even more – dangerous to them than the mindless zombies.

Evans has a deft hand in giving each of the three main narrators their own distinctive voice. A lot of what happens is gruesome as each is confronted with the zombie infestation, mitigated by the humanity of the characters’ responses and fears for the lives of their loved ones.

The story leads to a conclusion that isn’t a safe geographical point so much as a fierce dedication to supporting each other in a world where everything is hostile. It’s a bit like actual life in that way.

For all the gore and violence, Highway Bodies manages to be simultaneously uplifting in the love and protectiveness its protagonists feel for each other. Love for family (both born and made) and friendships are the motivating forces for each of them, and there’s tenderness, loyalty and love at the heart of the end of the world.

As zombie fiction it’s fast-paced and full of the types of zombie encounters we love to read about. As an allegory for growing up queer in an environment that’s hostile to your very existence, it has power beyond the surface story.

Highway Bodies is thematically reminiscent of Mary Borsellino’s fantastic work in Ruby Coral Cornelian, The Devil’s Mixtape, Thrive and others – diverse kids in a hostile world, whose best weapon and best hope is love.

Evans’ second book is a corker, and I can’t wait to read whatever they write next.

Buy Highway Bodies (RRP $19.99)

Cover Reveal: Grounded

I revealed this cover a week ago to my Patreon supporters, and a few days later to my newsletter subscribers. Now for my blog readers – ta-da!

This is the gorgeous cover for my upcoming spec fic romance, Grounded, featuring Benedick Sasaki, one of the story’s love interests.

The blurb

In a world where flight is life, will two grounded people find other ways to fly?

When Benedick Sasaki’s wings are wounded in the line of duty, the former policeman doesn’t know if he has a place in a world where he can no longer fly.

Then he meets Clementine Torres, an artist born without wings and a vocal advocate for the flightless who has been subjected to recent hate mail and vandalism ahead of her new exhibition. As Clementine starts to teach Benedick new ways to appreciate the world on the ground, the threats against her art and possibly her life begin to escalate.

To survive, they will need to teach each other that not all beauty is in the air, and that both of them can soar without wings…

The edits have all been completed (my editor was a treat to work with!) and everything is set for Clem and Benedick’s story to come out on 20 March 2019 in ebook form.

Grounded is already available for pre-order at the following sites: