Monday, 18 February 2019

Author Interview: Fiona Lowe

Today I would like to welcome author Fiona Lowe to The Burgeoning Bookshelf.

About the author: 

Fiona Lowe has been a midwife, a sexual health counsellor and a family support worker - an ideal career path for an author who writes novels about family and relationships. A recipient of the prestigious USA RITA award and the Australian RUBY award, Fiona's books are set in small country towns, feature real people facing difficult choices and explore how family ties and relationships impact our decisions. Fiona spent her early years in Papua New Guinea where, without television, reading was her best form of entertainment - inevitably leading to a livelong love of books. Fiona lives in Geelong, Victoria.

So let's get started and find out a little more about Fiona and her writing.

Hello Fiona, thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how many books you have had published?

Thanks for having me.  I’ve changed writing directions three times over a decade. I have written 23 short medical romances, 6 full length romances and three big, juicy Australian-set sagas. HOME FIRES is my 32nd novel. Hmm, thanks for making me count. I’ve been telling people it’s my 31st!

What inspires you to write?

People and places. I love the Australian bush and I’m an inveterate people watcher so I enjoy combining the two. I like exploring what makes people tick and why they react the way they do in different situations. As an author, I tend to put my characters through the wringer to squeeze out as much emotion as I can and I force people to make decisions when there is no clear moral choice and then deal with the fall out.

What is a typical writing day for you?

I tend to structure my week more than my day. Basically, I write every day but I also get out of the house a couple of times in the week, into the real world, where I talk to people. So, Tuesdays after tennis and Wednesdays after delivering meals on wheels, I start work around noon. Those are not great concentration writing days but without them, I’d be a hermit and that’s not healthy. Mondays, Thursday and Friday, I go to the gym and start writing around 8.30 and finish at 6pm and there’s a bit of admin in there like writing interviews like this and a little bit of playing on social media. Okay, sometimes there is far too much playing on social media and researching. I’m now writing with a timer! The last couple of months before deadline, I also work Saturday and Sunday mornings until 1pm. Then I pretend the afternoon is a full day. Of course, I do have holidays and when a book comes out, I’m on the road promoting it, but I find I can’t go and play in the morning and have a good writing day. I am my most creative first thing in the morning and strangely between 4-6pm.

Where is your favourite place to write?

I need silence to write so I write in my office wearing noise cancelling head phones.

Do you have any writing rituals or good luck charms?

Hmm, is checking Goodreads and Amazon rankings a ritual? They are definitely not good luck charms ;-)

What are you currently reading?

Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales

You are well known for your Contemporary Romance novels. What inspired your move to the General Fiction genre?

A few things happened at once. I had a book come out in the USA during a major publishing house reshuffle where my editor left and my book really didn’t get out of the warehouse. The whys and wherefores don’t count, it’s just numbers, so when I didn’t sell many books, they were not interested in me writing another one for them. Although I’d lived in the US and enjoyed setting books there, I had an overwhelming desire to write a book not only set in Australia, but in my own back yard. I also had an itch to break away from the absolute happy ending, which is a must in a romance and I wanted to write a bigger novel with more characters and explore human nature—the good, the bad and the ugly. So, I wrote Daughter of Mine, then Birthright and now Home Fires.

Your latest book Home Fires is released today, 18th February. How did you come up with the idea for Home Fires?

I think it’s been brewing all my life. Bush fires are such an integral part of life as a Victorian and I have had a few pivotal moments where fire has impacted on me. First as a student nurse where I was in the field on Ash Wednesday, followed by working on the burns unit nursing victims. Those experiences never leave you. Years later, as a mother on Black Saturday, I experienced different sort of stress. But the final push to write Home Fires was Christmas Day 2015, when just down the road from me, friends and acquaintances had to stand up and walk away from Christmas lunch to save their lives.

What would you like readers to get out of Home Fires?

I’d like readers to reflect on the long-term damaging effects of trauma after natural disasters and how it isn’t so much a community rebuilding, but finding a whole new way to live. It takes years, far more years then we imagine, for communities to regain their health. The communities also need income to grow so visit and holiday in the area as soon as possible and spend some money there. Every cent counts. And don’t worry, I promise Home Fires has a hopeful ending.

What's next for Fiona Lowe? Do you have a new WIP?

I’m currently working on my 2020 release. The working title is NOT THAT KIND OF WOMAN and it’s shaping up to be another large novel about women, friendship and living with the choices we make.

Thank you for stopping by and spending some time with us on The Burgeoning Bookshelf.

It’s been great. Thanks for having me!

 You can connect with Fiona at the following sites:

Home Fires is out today and should be hitting bookshops shelves all of the country.


From the bestselling Australian author of Daughter of Mine and Birthright. When a lethal bushfire tore through Myrtle, nestled in Victoria's breathtaking Otway Ranges, the town's buildings - and the lives of its residents - were left as smouldering ash. For three women in particular, the fire fractured their lives and their relationships.

Eighteen months later, with the flurry of national attention long past, Myrtle stands restored, shiny and new. But is the outside polish just a veneer? Community stalwart Julie thinks tourism could bring back some financial stability to their little corner of the world and soon prods Claire, Bec and Sophie into joining her group. But the scar tissue of trauma runs deep, and as each woman exposes her secrets and faces the damage that day wrought, a shocking truth will emerge that will shake the town to its newly rebuilt foundations...


Mailbox Monday - Feb 18th

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog. Head over and check out other books received during the last week. 

 I didn't received any review titles this week. However I had a wonderful meet up and lunch with the Aussie Readers group from Goodreads. Every few months we meet up exchange books and rave about the books we have read. Sometimes we are very fortunate to have some lovely Aussie authors to come along and chat all things books with us.

These are the books I received a our meet up and book swap. 

Lawson's Bend by Nicole Hurley-Moore
Published 4th February 2019

In the hot summer of 2008, a tragic accident at the lake on the outskirts of Lawson's Bend forever scars the townsfolk. At an end-of-year celebratory campout, several students from the local high school drown and Henrietta Bolton loses her best friend, Georgie, to the murky waters. Unable to accept this as an accident, Henny runs from the small country town vowing never to come back. 

Stephen Drake has never left. Instead, he's tried to settle down, working with his dad on their small farm. Stephen had dreams of a different life but after the night at the lake, nothing seemed important anymore.

Years later, Henny is forced to return to Lawson's Bend when her beloved mother dies. Henny's plan is to finalise her mother's estate, sell the house and get the hell out of town as quickly as possible. But there is Stephen...

Ever since they were kids Stephen has had a soft spot for Henny and it was he who saved her life that night amid the panic. Yet he never had the courage to tell her just how he felt. But now she's back in town, Stephen wonders if he has a second chance.

The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham
Published: 11th July 2017

Everyone has an idea of what their perfect life is. For Agatha, it's Meghan Shaughnessy's.

These two women from vastly different backgrounds have one thing in common - a dangerous secret that could destroy everything they hold dear.

Both will risk everything to hide the truth, but their worlds are about to collide in a shocking act that cannot be undone.

The Secrets She Keeps is a compelling psychological thriller that delves deeply into the psyche of the human mind.

Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry
Published: 27th March 2012

National Parks Ranger Jo Lockwood is often alone in the wilderness, and she likes it that way – until she discovers the body of a man, brutally murdered.

Detective Nick Matheson’s new posting to the north-west of New South Wales is supposed to be an uneventful return to normal duties and a normal life. He knows organised crime from the inside out and suspects that the victim in the camping ground is not an isolated murder.

Jo is committed to helping the investigation but she has seen the killer’s face and now she’s at risk. Nick’s determined to protect her but as the body count starts mounting, his past and present collide, threatening the people he cares about most.

Trapped in rugged country in scorching summer heat, pursued by
hunters who can’t afford to fail, Nick and Jo will need to trust each
other completely, and use all their skills and knowledge in order to survive.

This is usually where I pick a book that I'm really looking forward to reading but the above three are all by Aussie authors that I love reading so let's just say I can't wait to read all of them!!

What Books did you postman deliver this week?
Do you belong to a book club or do you just swap books with friends? 
Post a link to your Mailbox Monday or simply list your books in the comments below.





Sunday, 17 February 2019

Storybook Sunday Book Review: The Box (Children's Picture Book) + related children's craft

The Box
Jo Linsdell

Publisher: Self published
Publication date: 25th March 2014
Pages: 44
Format Read: eBook
Source: own purchase


 "Because a box is just a box, except when it's not."
Join in the creative fun as a little boy explains why his box is his favourite toy.


The Box is a delightfully illustrated children’s book promoting imaginative play.
It’s time to put the electronic devices away and bring out a plain old cardboard box.
But what can you do with a box? ‘A box is just a box, except when it’s not.’

A young boy uses his imagination as he plays with a box in many different ways. A box can be a football goal, a pirate ship, a racing car, a bus, a rocket ship. The list goes on and on. The illustration shows the brown cardboard box with the imaginative pirate ship, bus etc in a black drawn outline.

The wording is simple as the illustrations speak for themselves and both Dot and Ditto love looking over the pictures and seeing all the things your imagination can conjure. This is an excellent book for Ditto as it encourages speech through illustrations he knows to make the sounds of a racing car, a fire engine and a robot. He will often go to my iPad and find the book himself and flick through the pages.

As an extension of the book Dot and I decided to make our own projects from boxes I had in the house. I like to keep craft projects simple and let the children direct the process. It’s always good to keep in mind that it should be fun and the end product doesn’t need to be perfect. We found all the items we needed in the craft box to make a fire engine and a puppet theatre.

The fire engine is simply made from an old box, red wrapping paper, some paper plates and the hose off the vacuum cleaner.

The puppet theatre is made from a shoe box, a piece of left over material, some knitting needles, ribbon, finger puppets and lots of sticky tape. 

I hope Jo's book inspires you to grab an old box and a few craft items and see what your imagination can build. We had a lot of fun with our box creations.


Photo credit: Goodreads
I've enjoyed writing since I could hold a pen in my hand but officially started my writing career in 2006. Since then I've worked for numerous clients around the world and won a few awards along the way too.

I've also published several books including the best selling children's picture story books 'Out and About at the Zoo', 'Fairy May' and 'The Box', plus non fiction books'Italian for Tourists', A Guide to Weddings in Italy', 'How to be Twittertastic' and the award winning best seller 'Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home'. My serial fiction 'KOSMOS' was published in 2017.

You can connect with the author at the following sites: 
Website  ||  Twitter  ||  Goodreads  || 




Saturday, 16 February 2019

Book Bingo - Round 4

Book Bingo is a reading challenge hosted by Theresa Smith Writes , Mrs B’s Book Reviews and The Book Muse. Every second Saturday, book bingo participants reveal which bingo category they have read and what book they chose. 

I can't believe how fast these Bingo Saturdays come around. I'm pleased to say this week I can cross two categories from my bingo card.


Book set in an exotic location:

The Christmas Lights is set on the scenic fjords of Norway. Swan's atmospheric descriptions of the isolated cliff farms, the waterfalls and snow laden mountains made this a story to remember.

My review can be found here 


The Secret Son’s Homecoming is the perfect romance read full of tension, misunderstandings, angst and a happily ever after is always guaranteed. 

My review  can be found here

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Book Review: Louis & Louise (Contemporary Fiction)

Louis & Louise
Julie Cohen

Publisher: Orion
Publication date: 29th January 2019
Pages: 304
RRP: $29.99
Format Read: Trade paperback
Source: Courtesy of Hachette Aus via Books on the Rail


If you could look at one life in two different ways, what would you see?

Louis and Louise are separated by a single moment in time, a strike of chance that decided their future. The day they were born is when their story begun.

In one, Louis David Alder is born a male.
In the other, Louise Dawn Alder is born a female.

Louis and Louise are the same in many ways - they have the same best friends, the same parents, the same dream of being a writer and leaving their hometown in Maine as soon as they can. But because of their gender, everything looks different.

Certain things will happen in their lives to shape them, hurt them, build them back up again. But what will bring them back home?

Cohen’s idea of the same person living two lives, one as a female and one as a male simultaneously is novel and intriguing.
Louise Dawn Alder is born to Peggy and Irving Alder on 8th September 1978 and
Louis David Alder is born to Peggy and Irving Alder on 8th September 1978.

In the ensuing story the combined child is Lou. They pretty much do everything the same; climbing, whistling, talking but slowly small differences start to emerge by their 4th year. Lou is best friends with twins Allie and Benny and it was interesting to see how the twin’s lives differed because of their friend’s gender.

The stories diverge at times and the chapters are headed by either Louise or Louis and we see how their lives take different paths, even though their dreams were very similar when they were younger, but it was not only Louis and Louise’s life that was altered but also those of the people around them. Showing how some choices have a domino effect, affecting others.

The town of Casablanca and the Paper Mill have important parts in the story. The residents of Casablanca, a small town in Maine, rely on the paper mill for their livelihood, either working in the mill or providing services to mill workers. The mill, owned my Lou’s grandfather is the lifeblood of the town but when the workers strike it tears the town apart and creates a rift in the friendship of Lou, Allie and Benny.

With a main theme of gender Cohen also explores small town communities, death, divorce, cancer clusters, love, pain and forgiveness.

A unique concept and emotively written, certainly food for thought. Do you treat your sons and daughters differently?

Content: coarse language
                  sexual references
                  violent scenes

My rating:  8/10

photo credit: Hachette Australia

Julie Cohen studied at Brown University, earning a summa cum laude degree with honours in English.

She moved to the UK to pursue a postgraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Reading and this was followed by a career teaching English at secondary level.

She has written twenty books, including the Richard and Judy Book Club pick Dear Thing. She lives with her husband, a guitar tech for rock bands, and their son in Berkshire, where she writes full time.
You can connect with the author at the following sites:
Facebook  ||  Twitter  ||  Website