Nose to Tail by Louise Harding review by Jill Smith

nosetotail-dog-training-book coverI bought this book to give to my son and daughter-in-law who have a Bull Arab Cross. They bought Angus as a family pet.

I’ve read parts of the book and was impressed by the checklists and suggestions for prospective dog owners to ensure they choose the right dog for them. This covers what type of family home the dog owners have, unit, house etc. The descriptions of dog types and their needs, such as lap dog, hound or energetic hunting dog etc., so that a dog owner can decide on the right dog for their home. She goes on with training tips that are practical and easy to follow. The book is well written and clearly draws on her years of work in this field.

louise-harding-author-nose-to-tail-book bio pic

When Louise came to a Gold Coast Writers meeting to speak she had her audience spellbound even though she didn’t have a dog at her side, she conveyed her passion for training dogs and dog owners.

I think anyone with a dog or planning on getting a dog would benefit from her words of wisdom.


Book Review Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley reviewed by Jill Smith

cath crowley picLucy is in love with Shadow. She doesn’t know who he is because she’s never met him. But she’s convinced he’s her soul mate. She loves his graffiti and the way he paints. His art is all about town. Lucy is creative and desperate to meet Shadow. It’s the end of the year twelve. She blows glass as often as she can. Her boss tells Lucy he’s seen Shadow working.

Ed started painting right after he broke up with a girl. At the end of the school year party, he was with his friends. They were planning a big night.

Poet is Leopold Green and Ed’s best friend. He writes poetry to go with Shadow’s art.Graffiti Moon cover

The party gets a bit crazy with the girls, Lucy, Daisy and Jazz going to the toilet to talk. When they announce they want to go into the night and search for Shadow and the Poet. Ed drags Dylan and Leo into the toilet to have an in-depth talk too. ‘I’m not going into the night to search for ourselves!’

I love how Cath Crowley introduces imperfect characters in perfect ways. Their faults and frailties making them who they are, the guys may appear though, their exterior may be rough and ready, burly and bullish, but underneath they are poets and artists, while the girls, maybe highly strung and intense, over the top and dizzy, but underneath creative and caring giving depth to all the characters.

The reader is drawn into the world of graffiti artists, out of control parties to celebrate the end of school, going to a dark night in the park being attacked by some very bad people. Cath makes real the young people who are celebrating finishing year 12 complicated. Growing up is never easy.

This is a great YA book.

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McAllister by Jenny Old reviewed by Jill Smith

McAllister coverThis memoir covers an eighteen-year span of Jenny’s life from her meeting and falling in love with her man who took her to a property that was as remote as any can be in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

It is a testament to her love for her husband, the property and the firm friendships she made with people who offered generous hospitality and advice. Her love for her man and their determination to make McAllister into a working property that was sustainable and profitable. She learned to work hard on horseback, cooking for her own and extended family and friends, creating a garden and much more. Jenny was very adaptable and capable.Jenny-Old bio pic

Together they battled the climate of flooding rains, droughts and the bust in beef prices which threatened to make them sell. Rick her ever enterprising husband found new ways to make their lives work by always seeing new ventures as a challenge. She worked hard and when diversification by creating the Burke & Wills Roadhouse to service travellers through the remote community, she rose to the challenge.

Her steadfast and resilient nature ensured they created from nothing but a shed and 50-gallon drum, a thriving property with lush garden, lawn and rose bushes. Jenny raised her two boys on the property becoming a parent-teacher by necessity and always relying on their two way wireless as communication. No such thing as a telephone for remote homes and their innovative nature rose to the surface in ensuring the property became a Jenny Old McAllister bookfocus of parties with a steady stream of visitors arriving unannounced.

Their families were a tremendous support but lived far south and on the Gold Coast. Places only visited on rare holidays. Pictures in the centre pages show happy faces of friends and neighbours, their dogs and mustering. Their sons Anthony and Ben had a free from television and telephones upbringing.

It was only after the property became successful, their roadhouse a thriving business and saleable, their two sons grew old enough to attend boarding school, another necessity due to their remote location, that they considered selling McAllister.

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Friday Barnes Girl Detective by R A Spratt, Book Review by Jill Smith

Friday Barnes Girl Detective cover

Book Review by Jill Smith©Aug18

Title: Friday Barnes Girl Detective

Author: R A Spratt

Publisher: Random House Australia

Friday Barnes is the youngest of five children. She’s not a happy child and she tries very hard not to be noticed by anyone. Her parents are very systematic and an unexpected child nine years after their youngest of four planned children was entering high school, was not in on their agenda. However, they discovered they could just manage to fit in a birth, after a PowerPoint presentation her mother gave when her waters broke. Then her parents and family continued to live their lives as though Friday did not exist.R A Spratt at Somerset best

By the time Friday was eleven she was so good at being unnoticed by everyone that she discovered she had a problem. She was going to have to go to high school.  Friday was cleaver and well read. She loved to read everything, particularly detective stories. Her Uncle Bernie was the only relative she knew who she could ask for advice. He was an ex-policeman who babysat her once a week and turned on the reality TV for her to watch when he was there. He was an insurance investigator and he had a problem with a case he couldn’t solve. Friday had tried various ways to get out of going to high school so when her uncle shared his problem she offered to solve it to gain the $50,000 reward.

R A Spratt bio picNow you would think being awarded $50,000 for solving a baffling crime would be a blessing for Friday. She decided to spend the money enrolling in the most expensive boarding school in the whole country. Her motives were practical. The school was based on profit-making and she would be able to bribe the PE teachers so she would never be forced to run a cross-country again.

As you can tell Friday was socially inept because she’d kept herself so distant from everyone to remain unnoticed. This created a new problem for Friday. She’d never been nervous about starting school before, and she’d never had to conform to wearing a uniform. Her brown cardigan was usually a way of ensuring she was ignored. At this school, she realised it made her stand out.Friday Barnes alternate cover Girl Detective

I won’t go on with the rest of the plot except to say that it’s full of hilarious situations. I chortled through the whole book. I was thoroughly impressed by R A Spratt when I saw her deliver a constant stream of engaging chatter to a group of students at Somerset Literary Festival. Rachel Spratt is bold, loud and over the top. This is the start of a series by this comedy writer. I could hear the author’s voice in every sentence and will happily recommend this book to any adventurous young adult.

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The Ten Penners out and about…

The Ten Penners out and about…

burleigh-heads-ss-MarionThe Ten Penners represented by Marion and Jill will be at Surfers Paradise State School on the 27th August.

We’re looking forward to again presenting our books and having a bookmark making exercise with an engaged audience of children.

Burleigh-heads-ss Jill

It should be another fun day!

We’ll be taking some friends with us to explain where we get ideas from for our characters.

Here’s Red Beard


Red Beard

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Romance writer Ally Blake…

On the 7th July 2018 at Broadbeach Library I attended a Romance Writing presentation by Mills & Boon author Ally Blake.
ally blake at Broadbeach LibraryWriting tips have a way of being applied to all genre’s so I really enjoyed the information she shared.
It was comprehensive covering all the components that create a romance novel.
What is a romance novel?
What’s the Big Idea?
Plotters and Pantsers
Once Upon a Time
Character, Character, Character
He Said, She Said
Goal, Motivation & Conflict
Sensual Tension
The Black Moment
Long Dark Night of the Soul
“I Love You”
Happy Ever After
The End
As the workshop was a powerpoint display and all covered by copyright I can only say that it was in depth and could easily have gone on all day with her audience lapping up everything Ally had to say. So naturally, I asked Ally if she would agree to do an interview with me so I could share some of her insights with my readers.

1 – When did you start writing?

The moment I picked up a pen. English was my favourite subject at school.  I did a double English major at Uni. I’d write even if nobody read a word of it.

2 – Did you always write romance?

Always.  Love to write it, love to read it, love to watch romantic movies and TV shows too.  Bliss!


3 – Do you have an agent?


4 – You admit to being very organised, has this been a developed writing habit you’ve formed over the years?

Oh no, I’m completely disorganised and distractible.  Which is why I am veeerryyy interested in being organised. So much so I’ve done talks about it. And run a website and a Facebook page called The Organised Writer. I am constantly on the lookout for ways to be more efficient. To squeeze more value out of my writing time.

5 – Do you have a special writing place?

Cafes.  I consider them patrons of the arts.  I’ve never had a problem renting a table for a couple of hours for the price of a coffee.  My local now gives me staff discount 😊.  Libraries are brilliant too. Somewhere to plug in for as long as you need and all those words surrounding you to uplift and inspire!cover-FakingItToMakingIt-AllyBlake-HarlequinKiss-200px

6 – Mills & Boon editors, do they recommend changes? Or, are you now able to hand over a more polished manuscript, after having written so many books.

I’m working on book 37 right now and I can honestly tell you every book is different.  My last book has very little in the way of revisions – pretty much “it’s a little too long, so cut a bit, please.”  The book before that needed a whole ending re-write. (And those editors of mine know what they are talking about.)

But I loooove revisions. To me, that’s where the real work is done. The honing and tightening and polishing and plucking off all the threads of the story until a cumbersome, overworked,under-conditioned collection of concepts and one-liners become a neat and shiny totality.

7 – You mentioned your contracts are two or three books at a time. Was the first book a once only acceptance or did they indicate a series should follow?

As soon as my first book was bought their next question was “What’s next?”  A publisher is not looking for a one book wonder. They are looking for a career author they can invest in and build.

ally blake bio pic8 – Have you changed your style of writing to suit Mills & Boon?

Not a jot!  I was born to write fun, flirty romcoms and so that’s what I do.

9 – Would you ever consider writing another genre?

Sure, if the idea grabbed me enough.

10 – Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

I don’t really ever like to think that far ahead.  The same reason why I don’t plot.  If I know how the story is going to end then it’s no longer interesting to me.  So, as Hagrid said, “What’s comin’ will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.”

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The books I bought at Somerset 2018

A-Corner-of-White coverThe first book I bought at Somerset,

I’ve already read and reviewed and it’s on the Book Reviews Children’sYA-older tab:-

Jacklyn Moriarty bio black and white

A Corner of White by Author: Jaclyn Moriarty

The second book I bought was:-

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

cath crowley picBrief Goodreads review

This is a great YA book.

I love how Cath Crowley introduces imperfect characters in perfect ways. Their faults and frailties making them who they are, the guys may appear though, their exterior may be rough and ready, burly and bullish, but underneath they are poets and artists, while Graffiti Moon coverthe girls, maybe highly strung and intense, over the top and dizzy, but underneath creative and caring giving depth to all the characters.

The reader is drawn into the world of graffiti artists, out of control parties and a dark night in the park being attacked by some very bad people. Cath makes real the young people who are celebrating finishing year 12 complicated. Growing up is never easy.

The third book I bought was:-

Goodbye Mr Hitler by Jackie french coverGoodbye, Mr Hitler by Jackie French

brief Goodreads review

This was a moving and gruelling tale. The story shows howfrench-jackie-bio pic love can replace hate even after it has been ingrained by torture and mistreatment. I’ll have a full review shortly.

The Fourth book I bought was:

Friday Barnes Girl Detective coverFriday Barnes Girl Detective by R A Spratt

Goodreads brief review

I’ve just finished Friday Barnes Girl Detective and chortled R A Spratt bio picthrough it. As R A Spratt spoke to her audience at Somerset I knew I’d love it. Rachel Spratt is bold, loud and over the top, but Friday Barnes prefers to be ignored and to go unnoticed.

I’ll have a full review shortly but will happily recommend this book to any adventurous young adult.

Books I’ve bought and read since Somerset

girl saves boy by Steph Bowe

girl saves boy steph bowe novel coverWho would know that Nina doesn’t have a normal family? Why would Spencer even suspect Nina of being anything other than an enchanting new girl at school? This story revolves around how Nina and Spencer keep their daily lives secret.

Nina hates the life she has. She’s counting down the days until she reaches eighteen and can leave her family for good. She doesn’t want to keep doing what her crazy mother wants her to do. She doesn’t want her younger brother to be going through the same brainwashing. Her father is a good teacher and he loves teaching. Why does he let her mother call the shots? She literally wants them to continue to rob banks. She trains Nina and her brother to pickpocket and break and enter cars. Nina feels the strain of constantly moving towns when all she really wants to do is settle down into a normal house, with normal friends going to a normal school. She really does like Spencer but she always has to be on guard. No one can know that the family she is part of, is one step ahead of the law. She also knows they are only in this town for four months, so it’s no good getting too involved with anyone.
Steph Bowe bio pic 2
Spencer has a normal family, school and home. His gregarious and wild friend Bridie, sticks with him through thick and thin, except when they go out and Bridie goes for the latest Base guitarist in the band. His sister Monica hasn’t spoken a word in months only communicating through Conversation Hearts. His father is like a walking zombie. All happened after arguments between his mother and father and his mother leaving them to live in Fiji with a younger he-man. Then he meets Nina, and he thinks things are starting to look up. He’s shattered when she leaves one day out of the blue.

The collision course Nina and Spencer are on moves this story to the next level and makes it a real page-turner.

Steph is young herself and draws on her own experiences to write close to the bone adolescent feelings. I loved this book and will now go to read her other two books, Boy Saves Girl she wrote when she was fifteen, and Night Swimming her latest release in 2017

The next event I attended was a View Club Literary Luncheon with Josephine Moon and Jenny Old who wrote McAllister which has now been re-released as Back of Beyond.

I purchased The Beekeeper’s Secret by Josephine Moon as I’d already acquired a copy of McAllister at a Gold Coast Writers meeting. I’ve yet to read this.

Brief Goodreads review:-  The Beekeeper’s Secret by Josephine Moon

the beekeeper's secret josephine moonThis is a delightful book about family conflict, guilty secrets and appalling cover-up of sexual misconduct by Catholic Priests. The book reads like one best friend chatting to another.josephine moon bio pic Its charm and the comparison between bees and people a tangible cohesive layer to the story.

I’ll have a full review shortly and will endeavour to read all of Josephine Moon’s books.

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