Saturday, 30 November 2013

What the paper said: the New Zealand Herald reviews Burned

This time three years ago, I was invited to represent Holidays with Kids magazine on a cruise aboard the Ms. Volendam. I spent eight days aboard the 61,214-ton luxury cruise ship and have to say I had a ball. The food was fantastic, the scenery spectacular (we cruised through the Milford Sound) and I loved that we were able to spot wildlife (dolphins, whales and albatross) as the ship went on its way. There were just a few journalists on that press trip and in between port visits, briefings from the captain and touring the kitchens, we could often be found sitting by the pool, playing Scrabble, chatting and working our way through the cocktail list. 

I also spent a fair few hours squirrelled away in my cabin editing the manuscript of my novel. Its working title was Snap, Crackle, Pop and I was delighted to have a few days away from business as usual in Sydney so I could work on it.

Fast forward three years and Snap, Crackle, Pop is now Burned. When I heard it would be published in New Zealand, I got in touch with Shandelle Battersby who works at the NZ Herald and was one of the other journalists on the Ms Volendam. I asked if she thought anyone at the paper would like to review it - she said she could do it herself.

I don't think it's appeared on-line yet, but this is what Shandelle wrote in her Chick Lit column:

"Noah, a boy who dreams of one day being an astronaut, is the central character in [Burned] this excellent debut novel by Persephone Nicholas, who dives back and forwards in time between England and Australia with the skill of someone who has been writing books for years.  
Noah and his mother Kate are rebuilding their lives after the death of Kate’s estranged husband when Noah gets caught up in a horrible crime that has far-reaching effects. To say any more would spoil the story, but I recommend this cracking read, which crosses several genres so should entertain almost everybody."

Fantastic review of Burned in The New Zealand Herald last month

If you'd like to read more from Shandelle, you can find her work here.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

New reads down under: 5 great Australian books

Dad and me in Canada, winter of '64

In a few weeks' time my dad will be flying to Sydney and coming to visit us for the first time. I couldn't be more excited. In between planning excursions, jotting down meal ideas and making up his room, I've also been thinking about books he might enjoy.

Growing up in the UK I didn’t come across a lot of Australian writing and I suspect my dad won't have either. So there's plenty to catch up on. When I arrived here nearly a decade ago, reading taught me about the history, heritage and culture of this beautiful land and I loved discovering new authors and fresh voices who showed me things I would never have discovered for myself.

I still have lots more reading to do. Great books are published faster than I can read them, but here are five I particularly enjoyed:

Breath by Tim Winton
It’s been a long time since I read it, but I still remember this story about a young boy, ‘Pikelet’ who lives near Perth and keeps dangerous company. This is a scary book for mothers of boys, but it’s also astutely observed, elegantly written and taught me a good deal about the perilous beauty of our waters.

The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway
Reading Conway’s memoir dispelled any romantic fantasies I may have had about life on a rural property. She lived and worked on her family’s 32,000-acre sheep farm in the Australian outback until her father drowned when she was 11. Reading Conway’s descriptions of the impact of a three-year drought on the land, the animals and her family was an education in itself.

The Secret River by Kate Grenville
This Australian classic is a must-read for anyone wanting to know more about Australian history and its colonisation by the British. Grenville’s fictional account of an early 19th century Englishman, William Thornton, transported to Australia for theft, was inspired by her research into her ancestor Solomon Wiseman. It’s a gripping, confronting read that helps illuminate a dark topic.

Kate Grenville's The Secret River: a confronting read

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
Set in the fictitious regional mining town of Corrigan, Jasper Jones perfectly conveys the smouldering heat of a long Australian summer when there’s nothing much to do in the school holidays except play cricket, hang out with your mates – and discover the terrible secret behind a young girl’s death. As funny as it is dark, Jasper Jones is like a little time capsule; a 1960’s summer perfectly preserved for its readers.

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman
This book is set on a remote island, Janus Rock, off Western Australia in 1926. It's the story of Tom Sherbourne, a young lighthouse keeper and his wife Isabel who live a quiet life until a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a crying infant. I absolutely loved this book (read my review here) and urge you to read it for yourself immediately.

These are just five of my favourite Australian books. I know there are many more out there waiting to be discovered. I'd love to hear which ones you recommend...