Melbourne Cup Day

Today is Melbourne Cup day in Australia (one of the world’s most prestigious horse races). I have zero interest in the race, and couldn’t name a single horse, so instead here are a few horse-themed books I would recommend:

Promise Canyon (Virgin River #13) by Robyn Carr

Promise Canyon (Virgin River #13) by Robyn Carr

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

There is also Life as I know it by Michelle Payne – the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup (in 2015), if you DO have an interest in the race. However, her reputation has been a little tainted as she recently failed a drug test…

life-as-i-know-it-by-michelle-payne-and-john-harms

The Week 29th April – 5th May

Pysanky Ukrainian Easter Egg Hand Decorated Ostrich Egg

By JustEggsquisite

Христос воскрес!

Today is Ukrainian (and other countries’) Easter. NOT necessarily Orthodox Easter (I’m Ukrainian Catholic) – a common (and very irritating for people like me) misconception!

Ukrainian Easter is a much bigger deal than Australian (American etc.) Easter, with lots and lots of traditions. Pysanky – intricately-decorated Easter eggs – feature in the baskets taken to church.

parliament-house-canberra-3rd-may-2013-sonya-heaney1

We moved my brother into an apartment in the city on Friday. I used muscles I didn’t know I owned (and they still hurt!) and have blisters on the bottoms of both my feet. Removalists are now at the top of my list of respected professions!

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

My review of Cathryn Hein’s Heartland is HERE.

 The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry

The Other Side of Us and Stroke of Genius are both still FREE.

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

A powerful, passionate and moving rural love story from the bestselling author of Promises and Heart of the Valley.

When Callie Reynolds arrives at Glenmore, the property she’s recently inherited, the last thing she wants is to be saddled with a warty horse, an injured neighbour and a mad goose. Haunted by her sister’s death and her fractured family, all she wants is freedom.

But Callie hasn’t counted on falling for Matt Hawkins, an ex-soldier determined to fulfil his own dream of land and family. Nor could she predict the way the land, animals and people of Glenmore will capture her heart.

Callie is faced with impossible choices. But she must find the courage to decide where her future lies, even if it costs her everything she holds dear.

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

Cathryn Hein has created another engaging rural Australian romance. This oh-so popular genre has a few writers who are head and shoulders above the rest, and Hein is one of them. As with her previous books, this one shows a clear love for and understanding of horses.

I liked the role reversal of sorts in this story, with Matt knowing almost immediately that he wanted a relationship with Callie, and he made no secret of it. As the author points out more than once, it is the little things he does rather than what he says that makes it clear he cares. I also liked the way his occasional loss of confidence over his obvious war scars was portrayed.

It’s always nice to have one of those grovelling moments at the end – makes for some good drama! There’re some secrets that aren’t revealed to Callie until the very end of the book, but I liked the way it was handled.

For lovers of contemporary romance, women’s fiction and anybody who has ever had a thing for horses.

Best of 2012

Everyone’s doing their ‘Best Of’ lists, but you know what? In a lot of cases, I can’t remember if I read certain things in 2012 or before that!

Something else that I see happening is that other people forget about their great reads from earlier in the year. So many popular books released earlier in the year don’t seem to be making appearances on many lists.

My list isn’t really ‘the best stuff I read this year’ as much as ‘good stuff I can actually remember reading in 2012’! So most – but not all – of these were published this year.

Last Man Standing by Cindy Gerard

Last Man Standing by Cindy Gerard

The Forbidden Lord by Sabrina Jeffries

The Forbidden Lord by Sabrina Jeffries

Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr

Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Suddenly You by Sarah Mayberry

Suddenly You by Sarah Mayberry

Willow Springs by Toni Blake

Willow Springs by Toni Blake

Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry

Dead Heat by Bronwyn Parry

The Cowboy Takes a Bride by Lori Wilde

The Cowboy Takes a Bride by Lori Wilde

Bridie’s Choice by Karly Lane

Bridie’s Choice by Karly Lane

An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein

Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein

More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

Breaking the Silence by Katie Allen

Breaking the Silence by Katie Allen

Zoe’s Muster by Barbara Hannay

Zoe’s Muster by Barbara Hannay

Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Midnight by Lara Adrian

My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr

My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr

I Love the Earl by Caroline Linden

I Love the Earl by Caroline Linden

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

Kiss of Crimson by Lara Adrian

A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde

A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde

Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein – currently on sale on Kindle

Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein

Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein

Cathryn Hein’s Heart of the Valley is currently $3.20 on Kindle. This is an exceptionally good price, considering how expensive Australian books tend to be.

Part rural fiction, part contemporary romance, the story takes place in regional Australia, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Blurb:

When a tragic horse float accident leaves young showjumper Brooke Kingston unable to properly manage her family’s Hunter Valley property, she believes nothing worse can happen. Until she discovers her well-intentioned family have employed a new farm manager for her beloved Kingston Downs. But stubbornness runs in the family, and Brooke isn’t about to leave her home or abandon her darling horse Poddy. Working on the principle possession is nine-tenths of the law, she digs in her spurs and stays put.
 
Lachie Cambridge is unimpressed to arrive at his new job and find the boss’s sister still in residence. Lachie immediately classifies Brooke as yet another spoilt brat, but to his surprise Brooke proves nothing of the sort. She’s clever, talented and capable, but it’s her vulnerability he can’t resist and after a shaky start they develop a friendship. A friendship that soon evolves into something more.
 
As his feelings for Brooke deepen, and the Valley and its people wriggle further into his affections, Lachie starts to question what he really wants. He’s always believed that home is where your heart is, and his lies in the soil of his family property Delamere. Torn by his love for Brooke, Lachie must make a decision – to chase his dream or follow his heart.
 
But Fate has other plans, and Brooke and Lachie are left reeling when the very things that brought them together now threaten to tear them apart.

“Legitimate Rape”, RWA Award Winners, more Cathryn Hein

The amazing author Remittance Girl wrote this phenomenal response to certain American politicians. By certain American politicians, I mean those who believe a women’s body will stop her becoming pregnant if she is “legitimately raped”.

Here’s a list of Romance Writers of Australia award winners from the weekend. Some good books there.

I’ve discovered I’m a massive fan of Australian rural writer Cathryn Hein. Her second book is every bit as good as the first. If you’re at all interested in rural stories, light contemporary romances, great characters or just plain good writing, you should definitely take a look at her books.

Promises by Cathryn Hein

Promises

A father with something to hide, a jockey with a taste for blackmail, a man with an agonising secret… and a young woman in love, defying them all.

Sophie Dixon is determined to leave her tragic past behind and forge a bright future on her beloved farm. While looking to buy a new horse, she is drawn into her neighbour Aaron Laidlaw’s orbit, despite the bad blood between their families. As the racing season unfolds, Sophie and Aaron’s feelings for each other deepen. But Aaron is torn, haunted by a dark secret he fears can never be forgiven – especially by Sophie.

Sophie believes herself strong, but the truth behind her mother’s death will test her strength, and her love, to the limit. She’s been broken once. No one wants to see her broken again. Least of all the man who has grown to love her.

I’m going to have to admit to some scepticism about this book. It had too many positive ratings, and no negative ratings. I wasn’t buying it.

Of course, I was wrong.

This is one of the best books I’ve read in some time, and I am very glad I took a chance on it.

It’s a mark of a good author that they can make you interested in something you have no interest in. I’d read this was a horsey book, and boy, it most certainly is. There’re more horse characters than human characters in Promises. Yet I found it fascinating. Like most girls, I went through the horse phase at a certain age (made worse by the fact my best friend had one, and also that I spent all of my spare time in a ballet studio – horse-riding was out of the question!). However, I grew out of that.

If I have a problem with Rural Fiction, it’s that many authors become so engrossed in farming details that they forget the majority of their readership couldn’t care less about how to look after sheep or cows! It takes a very special talent to draw a non-farmer reader into these details, and Cathryn Hein certainly has that talent. The characters’ stories evolved at the same time as they went about their daily business; I wasn’t bored because the farm work was a part of who they were, and it was essential to the evolution of the plot.

What makes Hein’s writing work is that she finds little moments to make her characters human and make them seem like real people. The brush of a thumb that gives away so many details. An expression on a character’s face that tells us things other authors would feel the need to spell out.

This is an emotional story, with a lot of imperfect people, and I loved that the author resisted tying everything up too neatly. Not everything works the way it would in an ideal fantasy world, and that made the book so much stronger.

So, my lucky streak with books set in rural Australia continues. Surely it’s going to end soon!