Thanks a Bloody Lot!

81PvhBMYibL._SL1500_So I’m meant to be writing. I’m meant to be spending my days off luxuriating in the divine pleasure of immersing myself in my work. I’m meant to be improving my awful social media skills. The one thing I am most certainly NOT meant to be doing is living on the couch with my nose pressed into someone else’s work!

So my troubles started when a friend of mine recommended J.R.Wards Black Dagger Brotherhood Series. I bought the first one (Dark Lover) for a bit of light before bed reading. Trundling through the next day on almost no sleep was certainly a challenge, but I went right out there and bought the second book in the series. Silly me.

If not being able to put the book down wasn’t crippling enough, the depression left by her superlative metaphors and similes certainly was. Her character development was sublime, and her original twist on the tired vampire genre truly inspired. And then there were the love scenes … need I say more?

Anyhoo, I am currently reading number seven in the series and I would just like to send out to J.R.Ward (nup – couldn’t get her full name even from her own website) a big, fat, thanks a bloody lot.

To check out book one in the series DARK LOVER, click HERE and enjoy.

The Maxwell Sisters

The Maxwell SistersWhen Random House asked me to take part in a blog tour for the release of The Maxwell Sisters I jumped at the chance. While I always love to help out fellow writers, Loretta Hill is a fellow Perth author, which made this book release more special.

I have to admit, what with everything going on (writing the first draft of my new book, Christmas, New Year, getting an honourable mention in the London Book festival ((Sorry, had to slip that one in!)) enough house guests to necessitate tents in my back yard, a motorbike accident in which the Pilot broke his foot and his brother broke his leg, and said carer’s duties from said accident), that I kind of left reading the book till the last minute. I approached it in a mild state of panic with only 48 hours left till my review was due. And I may have spent more time running around the house shrieking about how I had to be left alone so I could read, than actually picking up the book. But eventually I found the time, in between preparing meals, changing dressings and wheeling the Pilot down to the park, to start.

From the first page I was hooked. Loretta effortlessly weaves us into her story with descriptions that flow and characters that captivate. Intrigue springs from every page, and love and loss, betrayal and courage, and wisdom and laughter are the simmer sauce that binds it all together. Before I go any further, here’s the synopsis:

All families have their problems. No more so than the Maxwells of Tawny Brooks Winery. Situated in the heart of the Margaret River wine region, this world-renowned winery was the childhood home to three sisters, Natasha, Eve and Phoebe. Today all three women are enmeshed in their city lives and eager to forget their past – and their fractured sibling relationships. Until Phoebe decides to get married at home . . . Now the sisters must all return to face a host of family obligations, vintage in full swing and interfering in-laws who just can’t take a hint. As one romance blossoms and others fall apart, it seems they are all in need of some sisterly advice. But old wounds cut deep. Somehow, the Maxwell sisters must find a way back to one another – or risk losing each other forever.

So you get the gist from reading that – the story is about three sisters who have grown apart and how the wedding of one becomes the crucible for the healing of their grievances. But there is so much more than that to this tale. There is humor, grief and happenstance, working to bring the fractured Maxwell family back together.

Without providing any spoilers – a love letter, written long ago, makes an appearance and leads the characters on a merry dance. An overbearingly loving mother wades into wedding-battle with the mother of the groom. A hunky wine maker makes a play for one of the daughters and while all this is happening the girls themselves are having relationship problems of their own. All of this occurs under the watchful eye of the madcapped father, who bestows wine-linked wisdom on his daughters.

Now what I didn’t see coming (and I pride myself on being able to spot these things), was the delicious twist at the end. The final straw to break the back of the sisters’ rivalry and bring them together again was so cleverly woven through the story that I never even suspected it was there.

I enjoyed the development of the relationship between the wine maker (Adonis) and Eve, one of the daughters. The dialogue between these two was fun and witty and danced off the page. A negative for me was that the eldest daughter Tash’s problems started to annoy me after a while. She realised early on that her husband had been suffering as much as she, and that he had a different way of dealing with grief than she did, but then kept holding firm to her belief that their relationship was flawed. The development between the two of them was perhaps a little off, the timing not quite right to make it flow smoothly throughout the book. I did, however, love the dad. His ability to rise above the petty fighting of others and view the proceedings through rose-coloured glasses didn’t cease to amuse me. Especially when he started keeping score on the battles between the mothers of the bride and groom.

All-in-all The Maxwell Sisters was a heart-warming and endearing tale that managed to put a fresh spin on a well-used plot. I gave it Four Stars.

 

About Loretta Hill:

Hill, LorettaLoretta always wanted to be a writer. As a kid she filled pages of exercise books with stories to amuse her friends. Her father, who never wasted his time on fiction, didn’t see much worth in this pass time and pushed her to pursue a ‘sensible’ career. Fortunately, she had inherited some of his talent for numbers and decided to give it a go. She graduated from the University of Western Australia as structural engineer and took her first job with a major West Australian engineering company.

A few years later she met a lawyer at a Black Friday party hosted by a friend. She was dressed as the devil and he just came as himself. They are now happily married and living in Perth with their two young sons and infant daughter.

Despite her career in engineering, her interest in law and her journey into motherhood, Loretta continued to write. Not because she had a lot of time but because it was and always had been an addiction she couldn’t ignore.

 

The Maxwell Sisters is available in eBook and paperback and can be purchased at Amazon or Random House as well as your local bookstore.

Want to follow the blog tour for The Maxwell Sisters? Here’s tomorrow’s link:

http://1girl2manybooks.wordpress.com/

 

 

Faery Born On Sale

For one week only, starting today (Sunday 19th Oct.), I will be pricing my new book, Faery Born, at the bargain price of 99c. It’s the first in a fantasy trilogy about a young witch, Isadora Scrumpleton, and is suitable for adults and young adults. I haven’t got many reviews on it yet but the ones I have are great. (Which I am very excited about!)

Here’s what one of them (A reader) had to say:

For those who love fantasy, magical creatures, action and romance, you’ll find it all here packed into an exciting storyline. The story drew me in from the start and the pace picked up quickly making it hard to put down. Ms. Usher shows great imagination in creating an entirely new fantasy world filled with witches, faeries, goblins and assorted other supernatural creatures. She sets up a conflict between two co-existing magical factions, while at the same time seamlessly weaving in the romance between the very likeable main characters – Isadora (Izzy) and Aethan. Although there is fighting and violence, Ms. Usher handles it adeptly and does not cross the line into overdone grisly gore that could distract and turn off the reader from her very interesting plot. I also thoroughly enjoyed the bits of humor sprinkled in throughout that lightened the mood when necessary. Bottom line: very well written and imaginative. Looking forward for Book 2 of this trilogy.

To check it out on Amazon click HERE.

I am also very excited to be working with eBookSoda to promote this sale. EbookSoda are a new reader’s site. They send you ebook recommendations tailored to your taste. If you are interested in signing up with them to get their emails, their site is – www.ebooksoda.com

Faery Born Available For Pre-Sale

Well it’s been a long time coming but Book One in The War Faery Trilogy - Faery Born, is finally available for pre-sale on Amazon. Put your order in now and the book will automatically be delivered to you on the 11th of September.

Word of warning to all my fans – although Faery Born embodies my normal writing style and sense of humour, this is a fantasy book suitable for YA readers. It contains some romance, but it also has witches, faeries, goblins, fighting and magic. Here’s the blurb:

It’s been thirteen years since the Dark Years ended. Thirteen years since the mad War Faery responsible was imprisoned in stone. Now, with goblin attacks on the rise it seems Galanta, the Goblin Queen, is intent on returning the land to chaos and terror.

Isadora Scrumpleton is trying not to think about the Dark Years. She’s just been chosen by her ‘familiar’, found out she’s half faery, and discovered she’s dating the second-in-line to the Faery Throne. That’s enough for one teenage witch to handle. But when goblins attack her village, Izzy is forced into action, ultimately joining the elite Border Guard and attracting the attention of the Goblin Queen.

As Galanta weaves a web of deceit, Izzy struggles to control her powers. Will she be able to stop the Goblin Queen in time, or will the world be plunged into a dark new reality?

 

Sound like something you might like? Click HERE to go to Amazon to order your copy. Not sure? I’d love you to try it, but feel free to refund it if you don’t enjoy it.

Faery Born Cover Reveal

faeryborn1.529BIt’s 11.30pm and I should be fast asleep because I have to go to work tomorrow, but I’m too buzzed to sleep. I’ve just finished my rewrite of the first book in The War Faery Trilogy – Faery Born. And although I know there’s still a long way to go till it’s published (like four rounds of editing), I’m extremely excited. So, I wanted to share with you the kindle cover that the brilliant Derek Murphy from creativindie has designed for me.

As you can probably guess by the cover, this one’s a little different from my chicklit/women’s fiction/cosy mysteries. It’s a young adult fiction fantasy novel about a witch, and I’m hoping you’ll all give it a go.

All going well, it should be available on Amazon by the end of August. So watch this space for more information.

Cocoa and Chanel Takes Gold.

I loved writing the first book in the Chanel Series – Cocoa and Chanel, so I was very excited to find out that it had placed first in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards for the Ebook Fiction Category. Imagine my excitement when a couple of weeks later I found out it had also won the Humor Category in the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards.

Yay to Chanel and her crazy friends!!

Book Two in the Series – Goons ‘n’ Roses – is doing really well, so as soon as I have finished with my current project (Book One in the War Faery Series – Faery Born, a YA Fantasy novel) I will get cracking on the next installment of the Chanel Series, Tess’s Tale.

Big thanks to the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards for the chance to show that Indie Authors can shine, and to their judges for all their time and hard work.

 

And The Winner Is…

Thanks to everybody who entered my Cocoa and Chanel review competition. Unfortunately there can only be one winner. And that winner is Kieran O’Brien.

As Kieran is also on my subscriber list to find out when my books are released she wins a $30 voucher. A huge thanks goes out to the rest of you for your enthusiasm and your lovely reviews.

Goons ‘n’ Roses

goonslightblueI am so excited and pleased to announce that my latest novel, Goons ‘n’ Roses, is now available in eBook form from Amazon. It’s the second book in The Chanel Series so we are re-united with Chanel and her crazy crew in another adventure. There’s also some new faces on the block, including bad boy Billy.

It’s been 3 months since Chanel’s world fell apart and now she’s ready for a vacation. Unfortunately, her all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas is not turning out as she had hoped. Within hours of arriving, her mum, Lorraine, is kidnapped. Then Trent, her boss and Lorraine’s boyfriend, disappears; but not before he imparts information about an Interpol investigation into missing girls in Las Vegas.

When Chanel hooks up with local bad boy, the seriously sexy Billy, in a bid to get information, things only start to get worse. As she and Martine search for answers they are thwarted by obstacles and pursued by ruthless killers.

Who really kidnapped Lorraine? What happened to the missing girls? Can the delicious Billy be trusted? These are all questions that she needs to find the answers to, before the answers find her.

Want to read some of it? Follow this LINK to Amazon.

The Wardrobe Girl

It’s not everyday that you get to read a book you find hard to put down. But I’m pleased to say that that was what I got when I delved into The Wardrobe Girl. It is Jennifer Smart’s debut novel and it’s a ripper.

Read on for more information on The Wardrobe Girl, my book review and an author interview with Jennifer Smart.

81m3GHSDWPL._SL1500_The Wardrobe Girl – Book Review

When Tess Appleby flees England, in a bid to escape a relationship disaster, she ends up slumming it as a wardrobe assistant on Pretty Beach – Australia’s iconic soap opera. Safe in Sydney, she thought her only troubles were going to be dealing with her frustrating sister and melodramatic mother.

Then Sean, the show’s serial-cheater and boyfriend to Bree, Pretty Beach’s lead actress, turns his eye on her, and she finds herself the hottest property in the newspaper’s gossip column. A veteran of messy public break-ups that was not the sort of attention she was after.

Her attempts to gain anonymity both on and off the set of Pretty Beach fail when Jake, her ex-fiancé, shows up as the new director and adds both her sister and mother to the cast.

Into all of this mix: an old flame of her mother’s; the antics of the cast and crew; Bree’s continuous attempts to slander her; the realisation that she still loves Jake; and her own innate ability to sabotage herself, and Tess becomes one hot mess.

The Wardrobe Girl offers a fascinating insight into the behind-the-scene workings of a soap opera. It made me laugh, and it made me cry, and with its witty dialogue and quirky characters it had me glued to its pages for the entirety of the story.

One of the things I particularly liked about this tale was its deviation from the typical underlying storyline in which the girl cannot be happy without a man. Instead of our heroine falling immediately into the hero’s arms, she realises what a disaster she is and removes herself from the situation, seeking help in solving the issue really at heart – herself. Finally she is able to realise that although she can be herself, be by herself, her life will be better with the man that she loves.

‘He was my North Star. The steady, shining light that guided me and helped me navigate through life. I could do it without him, I knew that, but it would be a darker, murkier voyage.’

I give The Wardrobe Girl four stars and look forward to reading more about Tess Appleby.

 

JENNIFER SMARTJennifer Smart  – Author Interview

 

Thanks so much for joining us today Jennifer. I want to start by saying how much I loved The Wardrobe Girl. I know you’ve spent some time as a scriptwriter on Home and Away, but is this the first novel you’ve written?

Yes, The Wardrobe Girl is the first novel I’ve written.

Apart from having a great storyline, The Wardrobe Girl gives us a fascinating insight into the making of a soap opera. Is working in the film industry similar to working in the television industry?

The TV and film industries are very similar, but they have some key differences. The pre and post production periods on films are much longer then they are for TV. The shoot days on film are usually a much slower pace than they are for TV. This is because the more complex lighting set ups for film require considerably more time. The camera moves on film may be more complicated and the use of film as opposed to digital/tape also has its own set of problems. So, on a show like Home and Away, they might film 15- 20 minutes a day, whereas a film may only shoot as little 30 seconds! Otherwise, the departments and the crew roles are pretty much the same.

Tess is such a loveable, klutzy, damaged character. I think we can all relate to her at some stage in our life. How did you come up with the idea for her and why did you choose to make her the wardrobe girl?

I chose to make Tess a wardrobe stand by because of the relationship and access she would have to the cast members. It’s a working relationship that involves a degree of intimacy, much like make-up or going to see your hairdresser. I also really like fashion and clothes and thought it would be fun to write about. As for how I came up with Tess, I’d have to say that I think she found me. Once I started writing, she such a clear voice, all I needed to do was listen.

Are there any more adventures ahead for the Appleby’s or will this be a stand-alone novel?

I am working on a sequel. Life will probably always be pretty interesting for Tess!

I notice that you live in Sydney. There are so many beautiful places there, what is your favourite one and why?

I live in Balmain and I love living here because of its proximity to the city, the gorgeous harbourside parks and its vibrant, creative community. Sydney is full of so many amazing places, but one of my favourites spots is Wendy Whitely’s Garden in Lavender Bay. I catch the ferry across from Balmain, hop off at the Luna Park wharf and wander around the bay to the garden. It’s so quiet there, with paths that lead to different terraced levels and private corners, glimpses of the Harbour Bridge and water. It has some beautiful sculptures installed throughout. I also love what it represents – a garden paradise nurtured from a wasteland of disused rail sidings as a way to help heal Wendy’s grief at losing her husband, the artist Brett Whitely and their daughter, Arkie.

What projects are you currently working on?

Currently I am working on book 2 and a children’s book about a ‘princess’ who lives in Balmain.

When you’re not working or writing, what do you like to do?

I have lots of interests. I adore the theatre, ballet and contemporary dance performances. The Art Gallery of NSW is one of my favourite haunts. I love movies, binging on DVD series – most recently Season 1 of The Killing (the Danish version). I knit, I tweet, I go to yoga and naturally, I read every day.

What’s the one thing you wish you were brave enough to do?

I wish I was brave enough to take Hip Hop classes at the Sydney Dance Co., – but the students & teachers are all so young and very cool.

Okay so you can’t come on my blog without undergoing a pop quiz. Here it is:

Butter or margarine?

Butter

Dessert or cheese?

Cheese

Cats or dogs?

Cats

Beer or wine?

Champagne

Swim or sunbake?

Swim

Misty mountains or tropical beaches?

Beaches

Ice-cream or gelato?

I’ve quit sugar, otherwise gelato

Kids of fur-kids?

Kids – 3 daughters

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Paris

If you had to be reincarnated as an animal which would you choose and why?

I’d like to be a cat – one of my cats!

Once again Jennifer, thanks so much for taking the time to let us get to know you a little better. I wish you all the best with the launch of The Wardrobe Girl. I am sure it will be incredibly successful.

Interested in purchasing The Wardrobe Girl? Click HERE to check it out on kindle.

 

 

 

 

 

Win a $20 Amazon Voucher.

Okay – I’ll admit it. The main goal of this competition is to gain more reviews for Cocoa and Chanel. It’s been sitting pretty at 73 for a while now and I’d like to see it hit 100. But my other reason for putting an Amazon voucher up for offer is that I’m celebrating the imminent release of book two in The Chanel Series – Goons ‘n’ Roses. I’m feeling pretty excited and I’d like to share the love.

I am not, in any way, shape or form, asking anyone to place fake reviews. What I want is honest reviews, and even if you gave me one of those two stars (Really? A two star??) and follow the steps below, you can go into the draw. What I am trying to do is to encourage those of you who’ve read Cocoa and Chanel to find the time to review it.

Rules of the Help Cocoa and Chanel Hit 100 Reviews Competition:

1. Anyone who has placed a review on Amazon for Cocoa and Chanel can enter. (Yes Mum, if it makes you feel better you can enter, but you won’t win.) It can be an old review (thank you, thank you, thank you!) or one placed after reading about the competition.

2. Email the link to your review on Amazon, to me at donnajoyusher@yahoo.com.au

3. If you are also on my subscription list to find out when my new books are released (see the box at the top right of this page) and your name gets drawn, your prize will increase from a $20 voucher to a $30 one. (Make sure that the email you use to send me the link is the same one you have used to subscribe.)

4. I will draw the winner on Sunday the 30th of March. I will notify the winner by email and it will also be on this blog.

So that’s it. Simple really. Let me know about the review and I’ll enter you in the draw.

Good luck and happy reviewing.