Interview and Giveaway: Almost Dead by Kaz Delaney

I’m honoured today to share with you all an interview with the author of Almost Dead, Kaz Delaney. Kaz has generously given her time to answer some of my questions about her book, writing and her life as an author. I had a great time reading Almost Dead and I loved reading Kaz’s answers to my questions. You can find my review for Almost Dead here. I also have a copy of Almost Dead to giveaway to one lucky person so make sure you keep reading to the end of the post for more information on how to win. 

Almost Dead

Interview with author Kaz Delaney!

Macey, the main character in Almost Dead sees ghosts and another character, Zordastramus (that name is brilliant!), has psychic abilities. Do you believe in spirits and supernatural phenomenon?

Thank you for having me here Kate! And yes, I do! I’ve had a few spooky things happen that have been way too specific to be random. Once I awoke to a bright light beside my bed and I yelped. It wasn’t there for long, but in it was the image of a child just hovering beside me (children and young people feature a lot in my experiences) – but it was a child from a long ago time. It seemed to be wrapped in swaddling. Frankly, a bit scary. It disappeared very quickly and suddenly the room seemed very black. Anyway, I finally chalked it up to a dream and tried to get back to sleep. However the next morning, our teenage daughter whose room is adjacent to ours asked if I was okay. She said she’d been woken by a bright light coming from our room and heard me cry out. When the light went out again, she figured everything was okay. When she told me that, I knew I hadn’t been dreaming.

Another time during a reading, a psychic kept reassuring me that a friend (distant) with a very unique name, was going to be okay. She was annoyed because I wasn’t reacting strongly enough to the prediction and so kept repeating it over and over with urgency. It meant little to me, and really? I just wanted her to move on and get back to me! 😉 I mean, this friend wasn’t someone I was very close to. I was glad for her that she was going to be okay, but what more did the psychic want me to say? I went home puzzled. The next day, however, I got a phone call from another friend to ask if I’d heard any news reports. She had – and she’d just heard that our mutual friend (the one mentioned in the reading) had been involved in a serious accident. Wow. That was very sobering. (And yes, I did feel the most horrid remorse for being so cavalier. And yes, the prediction was right – she survived and thrived. Thank goodness.)

These are just two random things I remembered, but there have been many. Too many for me to brush them aside. So yes, I do have an open mind about such things. But all that aside – it’s fabulous, fabulous fun to write about!

As someone who grew up on the Gold Coast – I loved the setting! Was it hard for you to decide on the location for Dead Actually and Almost Dead?

You are so lucky! The Gold Coast is one of my favourite places in the world. I love the colour – and the way the natural light makes everything shinier and brighter. I love the buzz; the energy! The atmosphere. I feel alive when I’m on the Gold Coast and had always wanted to set a book there (and NOT just so I could claim my trips as expenses!!! 🙂 ), so it was a no brainer for me.

When I’m there I spend a lot of time people-watching, hopefully not in a creepy way (!) and some of the ideas came from watching young people just having fun, being themselves. When I created the cast and had the outline for Dead Actually, the first in these loosely connected series, I knew the GC was the perfect setting. And it’s proving to be a great choice. So many people can relate to it – even if they’ve just seen it on the telly! It’s just such a cool place!

Kaz Delaney

Author of Almost Dead, Kaz Delaney

Are there any similarities between you and Macey? 

Oh wow – I’d love to answer with a resounding ‘YES!’. I mean, Macey’s so cool. She’s so strong and feisty and sassy. She’s takes no prisoners and she’s so self possessed! Most of us like to think we can rise above what people think about us – but secretly, we do care. And it makes us vulnerable. Macey is one of those rare beings who really doesn’t care. Not in an ‘I-am-so-cool-and-you’re-not’ way, but just because she doesn’t waste time on that kind of trivia.

So, yes, of course, I’d love to say ‘Yes!’

But truth be told, I’m way more of a doormat. I stress over what people think and so I try hard to make people like me. (By the way – would like a back massage with this interview??? 🙂 ) Actually, I truly just believe in being nice to people – that’s my nature.

But we are alike in two ways: Fashion. O.M.G. – I love it. And it’s such amazing fun to have that as a component of these books. Although, it does require serious sacrifice. I mean, do you know the effort involved in trawling designer sites to see what’s happening and who’s designing what??? And the shoes? I have worn my fingers to the bone researching designer shoes! It’s a tough job but thankfully I could steel myself to do the hard yards. True! Do you doubt me? (Excuse me while I untangle myself. It’s not easy typing with your fingers, toes and fallopian tubes crossed…)

Second likeness? We both have a shut-down button. I am much more tolerant and forgiving than Macey, but neither of us suffers fools lightly. It might take me longer to get there, (a LOT longer) but ultimately, we’ll both roll out the spike strip if you’re speeding headlong into stupid-ville. (The difference is that I’ll probably make you a cuppa and point out the error of your ways. Macey will leave you stranded to work it out for yourself. )

Can I just add here though, that Macey is vulnerable like the rest of us. Her vulnerabilities are just buried deeper and therefore much painful when we reveal them throughout the story.

Many authors are categorized as being either plotters (having plotted their novels out in advance) or pantsers (writing by the seat of their pants). Would you consider yourself to be a plotter, a pantser or a little of both?

Definitely both. I ‘have’ to know where the story is going. That’s my safety net. But how I get there is a journey that takes us on many side roads; the scenic route. So, I’m a good mix.

Did you always know you wanted to write?

Absolutely. I had my first work published in the Sun Herald when I was nine years old. Writing has always been my passion. In fact when I was a kid I used to think it was all I could do well. I’m not sure why, because I was a fairly good student – but writing was always the thing I felt most confident about. I don’t think there was ever a time in my life when I considered that I wouldn’t one day write for a living.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

It’s fairly busy, actually. Number one, naturally, is reading. I read at every opportunity. I teach, so that takes a fair bit of time. I’m a trivia nut, so I play pub trivia once a week in a team that’s been together for hundreds of years. (At least twenty. 🙂 ) To unwind and keep fit(ish) I walk by the lake and just recently I’ve discovered kayaking! So, I’m so thrilled you asked that question because I get to give an answer that makes me sound really fit and sporty! LOL.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished the gorgeous ‘Cinderella Moment’ by Aussie YA author Jennifer Kloester. Loved it, loved it. Such a sweet story with so much heart. But now I’m reading a book I found on the back of my shelves entitled ‘The List of Seven’, by Mark Frost. It fictionalises Arthur Conan Doyle on a quest against the so-called ‘dark arts’ – spiritualism, psychic prediction etc. I’m not far enough into it to pronounce judgement, but I’m sure it’ll be brilliant once I get into my stride with it.

Dead, Actually

Dead, Actually – a companion novel to Almost Dead

I’ve just finished a mid grade novel that was heaps of fun about kids with special abilities, and have gone back to working on another book in this loosely connected series that will shortly head off to my agent and publisher. Can’t say too much just yet, but it features Flick and a country girl who is suffering the whole fish out of water thing. Macey and Willow both have cameos. After that, is a YA that’s completely different and new, that begins in Paris and ends up (ultimately) in Australia.

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

I’d love to tell the readers that they must never forget how important they are in the scheme of books and publishing. Without readers, we don’t have an audience – we don’t have an industry!
So, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for supporting us and reading our works so that we can continue to write stories that you will (I hope) love.

Almost Dead is a story I love. It’s one of those special books for me that, as an author, I am so proud of, that I want to burst. I sincerely hope you enjoy it as well. I hope you laugh and cry with Macey and Finn. And I wonder if you will solve the mystery before you get to the end? Mwahahah!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Kaz. I enjoyed reading Almost Dead and loved getting to witness Macey’s story!

Thank you Kate! This has been a brilliant interview with loads of fun questions. Clever girl! I am humbled and grateful for this opportunity to talk about ‘Almost Dead’. Thank you, again!

 

 

Giveaway!

 

Thanks to Allen & Unwin

I have

1 print edition of Almost Dead by Kaz Delaney to giveaway

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Book Review: Almost Dead by Kaz Delaney

Almost Dead

Title: Almost Dead
Author: Kaz Delaney
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Ghosts, Paranormal, Mystery, Young Adult
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: January 2014
Pages: 400
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Macey’s life has been turned upside down. Her mother has left, her father is absent and her two best friends (her brother Seth and his girlfriend Willow) are MIA. On top of that Macey is being visited by ghosts who need her help to ‘move on’. But as wild as all that sounds, it’s all under Macey’s control until a rakish, good-looking spirit called Nick turns up … in her bedroom!

Nick’s a spirit with spirit who insists he’s not dead, he’s astral travelling and has a message for Macey: someone is out to get her. Macey’s biting wit has got her in trouble before, so she’s not surprised but when the threatening notes start turning up, she’s seriously shaken. Does someone want her dead?

It’s all rather disturbing but she’s finding it hard to focus on who could mean her harm with the annoyingly handsome surf god Finn turning up at the most inopportune times and a father with a rather large surprise of his own.

Is it a case of bad timing? Or are these things somehow connected? And if they are, what on earth should she wear when she’s solving the mystery?

My Review:

Power, love, hate, bad language tears and great shoes. Just another day at RTHS, really…

Macey Pentecost is getting used to seeing ghosts. When the spirit of a cute almost rock star Nick appears in her bedroom, Macey learns that is more than just ghosts out there. Nick isn’t dead. He’s had an accident and is in a coma but feels that he needs to protect Macey from something out there. Threats aside, Macey’s family life is in turmoil. Her mother has abandoned her and her father has some secrets of his own. Lucky for her, Macey meets Finn – surfer god extraordinaire who is willing to help get to the bottom of who is tormenting Macey and just how Nick is connected to it all.

I thought Almost Dead was a fun read. There is mystery, ghosts and romance topped off with plenty of high school drama. Macey is a privileged and feisty seventeen year old (on first impressions, she’s a bit of a mean girl) who has many vulnerabilities deep down. When creepy things start happening to her, she doesn’t run and hide but uses all the resources at her fingertips to try to track down the villain. It took me a while to warm to Macey. She’s blunt and (dare I say) a tad spoilt but after getting into the story and coming to understand her I realized that her frank ways are a defence mechanism. She’s loyal to her friends and (after a while) acts rather maturely in very difficult family circumstances.

The secondary characters are interesting and I liked how they interacted with Macey – I adored how Nick didn’t bow down to Macey and didn’t allow her to dismiss him. Felicity, Finn and Madame Zordastramus all add something extra to the story and I enjoyed getting to know more about them as Macey’s story unfolded. The mystery in this book was great. It’s one that I didn’t see coming till right near the end but once everything was explained it made perfect sense! The supernatural elements of ghosts and spirits was handled with humour and were entertaining to read.

Almost Dead is a companion novel to Dead, Actually (also by Kaz Delaney) and as such shares a setting and many characters but you don’t need to have read Dead, Actually in order to enjoy Almost Dead.

 

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: The Inevitability of Stars by Kathryn R. Lyster

The Inevitability Of Stars

Title: The Inevitability of Stars
Author: Kathryn R. Lyster
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Realistic Fiction, Grief
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: August 2013
Pages: 304
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
A modern-day Romeo and Juliet set amongst the beauty of Byron Bay and the grind of Sydney.

Rip and Sahara have always been together. Primary school friends to high school lovers, their ties to each other are as intertwined and inescapable as the roots of the Byron Strangler Fig. But like that same tree, the tendrils of their love are beginning to stifle and choke, and soon, Sahara finds she must leave — moving to Sydney to pursue her career as an artist.

In Sydney, Sahara draws the attention of Sean, a charismatic entrepreneur, and is quickly drawn into his expensive and glamorous world — so very different from the quiet, simple place of her youth. But even as she creates a new life, and a new version of herself, Sahara cannot seem to leave Rip behind.

Back in the Byron hinterland, Rip moves to a working farm to recover from the wounds Sahara left. It’s here that he begins to understand his past and reimagine his future. But as Rip rebuilds, Sahara unravels, losing herself in Sean’s shiny, but meaningless world and plagued by visions of her previous life and lover.

Heartbreaking and haunting, The Inevitability of Stars is a poignant novel about the burden of fate, the viscosity of reality and the resilience of love.

My Review:

This book starts with heartbreak and for the characters, things are downhill from there on. Rip and Sahara have always had each other in their lives. Even when Rip’s mother died – he has always had Sahara. But she had dreams for more than small town life. So she flees to Sydney to paint and leaves a grief-stricken Rip to try to make his way in the town he’s always lived in without the girl he thought would always be there. Without Sahara, Rip doesn’t want to live. Sahara learns that life without Rip is harder than she thought and begins to lose herself in a world of glitz, glamour and high-profile socialites.

I wasn’t expecting this book to be so spiritual. Rip finds himself on a farm where his work there leads him to discover himself and how to heal his soul. Lead by a collection of quirky characters, Rip finds who he can be without Sahara. And she learns how to survive in a world so different from the small town she grew up in – and without the boy she still loved.

All of the characters are interesting to read – and I liked that they were well-formed and had a life outside of facilitating the journeys of the two main characters. The switching point of view worked well to show how deep Rip and Sahara’s feelings for each other were. The speech took a little getting used to with dialogue being italicized and thoughts being in quotation marks but as I got further into Rip and Sahara’s story I got used to it.

This book is beautifully written and I loved how the story flowed. However I did find the character of Sahara very hard to like and connect with. The settings – of both Byron Bay and Sydney – contrast each other well and the author did a great job of using the environment to show the mental state of the characters. There were small details like the gardenias and Rip’s song that I really enjoyed and thought added an extra something special to their story.

The Inevitability of Stars is a story about the spiritual journeys that two lovers must take when they’ve lost each other. Written beautifully, and yet at times confusing, it’s a lovely book that was nothing like I was expecting from the blurb and yet I’m glad I read it.

Thanks to Harlequin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Book Depository | Booktopia | Bookworld

Also available on Harlequin Books


Book Review: Every Breath by Ellie Marney

Every Breath

Title: Every Breath 
Author: Ellie Marney
Genre: Contempoary, Mystery, Suspense 
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 352
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Rachel Watts is an unwilling new arrival to Melbourne from the country. James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old genius with a passion for forensics. Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. And when Watts and Mycroft follow a trail to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den – literally.

A night at the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again…

My Review:

If Sherlock Holmes can have a Watson, then stands to reason that James Mycroft can have a Watts. Right?

Rachel Watts and James Mycroft – neighbours, friends and now amateur sleuths. When the pair stumble upon a crime scene, Mycroft’s inquisitional nature and passion for forensics urge him to investigate further – and drag Watts along with him. In a quest to find justice for their friend Homeless Dave, Watts finds herself falling deeper into the deadly mystery and makes her question her relationship with the secretive boy who lives next door…

As a Sherlock Holmes fan I was excited to read this book. From Arthur Conan Doyle to the BBC show, Sherlock, I love the stories about the famous fictional detective. And whilst I was expecting this to be a modern take on the classic story, I was thrilled by Ellie Marney’s debut novel. This is no retelling but rather it’s an exciting new story about Mycroft and Watts – two teens who both don’t quite fit in. Watts is a recent transplant from the bush and hates every moment she spends in the city. Mycroft is a little eccentric and has problems with mainstream society. But somehow they fit each other perfectly. I loved the references to Sherlock Homes sprinkled throughout the book – like Diogenes and Baker Street.

I liked Watts and Mycroft as characters. They are so different and yet rather similar. They are both a little angry and hurt and are frustrated by their family situations and their ways of coping are vastly contrasting. And the chemistry between the two is great to read. Somehow they are friends and they both go ahead with the other’s schemes and as a result they balance each other out perfectly. Mycroft is slightly insane. And his antics? Crazy. But overall he’s a well-meaning and likeable lead. Secondary characters like Watts’ family, Mai and Gus are interesting enough and help the story along as Watts and Mycroft get deeper and deeper into the mystery.

I love a good whodunit murder mystery and Every Breath delivered an entertaining plot. There’s a lot of action but also a lot of character, humour and even a dash of romance to keep things flowing. I also enjoyed how Melbourne was utilized as the setting. The streets, the trams and the Zoo were all fantastically incorporated to add to the whole Australian vibe of this novel.

This was a great read and I loved Marney’s take on the murder mystery. Every Breath kept me hooked until the last page. I couldn’t wait to find out if my suspicions of who did it were correct! Zany characters, great plot and a fantastic setting in the city of Melbourne. I loved this book and there is no doubt – I will definitely be checking out the two sequels, Every Word and Every Move when they are released in 2014 and 2015.

 

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

 Book Depository

PS. I love Melbourne Zoo. My parents used to take me all the time when we lived down there and I went when I was in Melbourne just after Christmas last year. As I love any chance to show off my awesome photography skills (wink wink) I thought I’d share some of my favourite Melbourne Zoo photos to help get you into the vibe for this book!

Sleeping Lion. I have a copy of this picture on my bedroom wall!

Reptile House! I love the colours in this lizard. And yes – I did try to talk Parseltongue at the snakes…

That’s me in front of some Giraffes and Zebras. 🙂


Book Review: An Endless Summer by C.J. Duggan

An Endless Summer banner

Today is whYAnot Review’s stop on the Endless Summer blog tour! An Endless Summer is the second book in the Summer series by C.J. Duggan. The first book, The Boys of Summer, was a great New Adult contemporary romance novel and I was delighted to read An Endless Summer. I have a huge soft spot for books by Aussie authors set in Australia! There’s also a tour wide giveaway towards the end of my post so don’t forget to check that out too!

Title: An Endless Summer (Summer #2)an endless summer
Author: C. J. Duggan
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Publisher: Self published
Publication Date: 11 July 2013
Pages: 311
Rating: 4.stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Sean looked out over the lake, squinting against the sunlight. He turned to me, his expression sobering as his eyes flicked over my face in a silent study.

“Come on Amy, I saved you once, I’ll save you again.”
I met his stare unflinchingly. “I don’t need saving.”
A wicked grin formed slowly. “Don’t you?”

After a rebellious summer night that almost claimed her life, Amy Henderson – the Onslow publican’s only daughter – is sent away to suffer a fate far worse than any other punishment:

Boarding School.

Three years on, a now nineteen-year-old Amy returns to Onslow for the summer. What once was a cauldron of activity with live bands, hot meals and cold beers, the Onslow Hotel now lies dark, deserted and depressing. All fond childhood memories of loitering on the hotel stairs and eavesdropping on customers’ colourful conversations are in the distant past.

How had her dad let it come to this?

With the new threat of putting the Onslow up for sale, Amy reluctantly turns to a local tradesman for help: Sean Murphy, the very same Onslow boy who saved her life all those years ago. With his help and that of some old friends, the task is clear: spend the summer building the hotel back up to its former glory or lose it for good.

In an endless summer, Amy soon realises that sometimes in order to save your future, you have to face your past, even if it’s in the form of a smug, gorgeous Onslow boy

My Review:

Oh, those Onslow boys strike again! In An Endless Summer (which can be read as a standalone novel) , Amy Henderson finds herself back in the small rural town of Onslow. But she never thought she’d be returning to ruins. Her father’s pub is now falling down around her so she enlists Sean Murphy’s handyman skills to help her restore the Onslow back to the pub she grew up in and loved.

I have to admit that after reading The Boys of Summer, I was all prepared to continue on not liking Sean. There was something about him that rubbed me the wrong way. Seems I wasn’t the only one. Despite saving Amy’s life more than once, Amy also seems to be irritated by the gorgeous tradesman. They have great chemistry and I was rooting for them by the end of the book. In fact – I loved how the romance developed over time. They take a while to get there but by the time they do I felt like both had earned the other. My favourite kind of romance!

Amy was another surprise. At the start of the novel she’s rather selfish and tends to be a little egocentric. But as she gets into fixing up the old pub and learning about it, she learns about herself and really grows as a character. Sean is a bit mysterious and perhaps his self-evolution wasn’t as profound as Amy’s but still enjoyable to read.

I’m not a huge fan of New Adult as a genre but it’s books like this that are changing my mind. This really is the story of a girl finding herself and who is she as a person. Amy’s journey from teen to a strong independent adult was a pleasure to be a part of and the romance was fantastic to read too.

 

 

About the Author

cj duggan

C.J Duggan is an Australian author who lives with her husband in a rural border town of New South Wales, Australia.
The Boys of Summer is Book One in her Mature Young Adult Romance Series.

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***GIVEAWAY***
1 Signed paperback copy of either The Boys of Summer or An Endless Summer (INT) and 5 ebook copies of The Boys of Summer or An Endless Summer (INT).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon U.S || Amazon U.K || Amazon Canada

 

The Boys of Summer (Summer #1) is also just 99 cents from Amazon at the moment!

the boys of summer

 

Amazon U.S || Amazon U.K || Amazon Canada