Paris Syndrome by Lisa Walker

Veronica (Happy) Glass is a 17 year old who has just moved from Sydney to Brisbane after her parents separated. Happy misses her BFF back home and is adjusting to life in a new city. As a serious Francophile, she enters a French Essay competition, and wins. She meets the first Alex, (Alex One) and Professor Tanaka. The professor advises Happy that she’s won the competition because she clearly suffers from Paris Syndrome, an affliction mainly affecting Japanese tourists. It happened to the Professor and she doesn’t want anyone else to suffer like she did. So Happy and Alex One conduct a study of all things French to determine if they can combat this syndrome and avoid their own suffering given their love for France. Along the way Happy meets Alex Two, a French boy whom she likes.

This is a coming of age story of an adolescent during a Brisbane summer, meeting new friends, coming to terms with past losses and trying to navigate her way into adulthood. It’s marketed as a young adult novel but would suit all ages. It’s an absolute treat for lovers of all things French with references to food, movies, books and more. And yes, Paris Syndrome is a real thing! Who knew!


The Teacher’s Secret by Suzanne Leal

This is the story of Terry Pritchard, an older male teacher in the small coastal town of Brindle. The story spans a school year and starts with the first day of the new term. The long-standing Principle has taken a leave of absence and Laurie Mathews has replaced her. She’s young and self-righteous and has a clear code of how schools should operate. Having come from a background of child protection, Laurie has her eye on Terry who she finds in compromising situations with students. Terry is a much-loved teacher and member of the community. However, his behaviour results in his forced retirement and this is the secret theme that runs through the book. Is Terry as sinister as Laurie makes him out to be? Whilst it is Terry’s story, there’s a cast of characters attached to Brindle. Nina is the teacher who replaces Terry and has just separated from her husband moved to the area with her young daughter. Sid is the school handyman and finds out it is never too late to fall in love. Joan is alone after her mother died and lives a shy and quiet life, until she meets Sid. There’s Rebecca, a refugee from Africa and Mel who married young and has never left Brindle. The event that binds them together is the end of year play.

The author is a lawyer and she brings authenticity to the child protection and refugee storylines. With a big story and a multitude of characters, it was a slow burn to the action but it’s a nicely told tale with an appropriate level of drama and suspense.

Melt by Lisa Walker

Summer Dawn Rain Wright is a hippie chick from Nimbin trying to turn her life around. Luckily, she has project manager boyfriend, Adrian to assist her design her spreadsheets and goal plan on a daily basis. But even Summer will concede, life is boring. That is, until Adrian dumps her for Cougar, the star of the TV show she works for. To add to her misery, she’s forced to impersonate Cougar for the show whilst it’s filming in Antarctica, of all places.

In Antarctica she meets bearded climate change scientist, Lucas and sparks fly even though she’s doing a terrible job of pretending to be Cougar. Then Adrian turns up as the Assistant to an anti-environment Politician. The freezing temperatures and isolated setting plus her acting as someone she isn’t makes for hilarious reading.

Summer just wants to write scripts for soap operas and explore who she really is and follow her dreams. She thinks stable and dependable Adrian is the key to her future, but what about Lucas?

Whilst this is a funny and quirky romantic/comedy, it is so much more than that. Walker delves deeply into the issue of climate change and life in Antarctica and it is obvious these are subjects she knows and cares about. She adeptly applies this knowledge to her story and it works. Plus, there’s a heartbreaking storyline about her brother, but no spoilers here.

It’s quirky, funny, romantic and serious all at once.  I’d recommend it.

Review of Fearless by Fiona Higgins

This is my first Fiona Higgins novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. What you think is going to be a pleasant journey of self-discovery and facing of fears for one group of Bali tourists, turns out to be a whole lot more than that.

Six strangers travel to the tropical lushness of Bali to participate in the Fearless retreat. It is a course designed to help participants face their fears. The members are as culturally diverse as the terrors they have come to address.

We meet Australian, Janelle whose fear is flying but really she’s simply lost in her own mundane life. American, Annie is alone after her husband died and has lived the past years in Bali rescuing and nurturing their neglected dogs. Her fear is snakes after her husband was killed from a fatal strike. Henry is an English bird lover and has travelled to Bali to spot the exotic and rare Bali Starling. He stumbles across the retreat and agrees to join. Then there is Frenchman, Remy who is afraid of heights and Italian, Lorenzo who is helping his wife fall pregnant and will do anything to make that happen. Of course, they all have colourful backgrounds and lots of baggage.

These characters are complex and deep and well-drawn and Higgins does a great job of allowing us to get to know them very well. I thought the interaction between them during the retreat and their development was enough for an entire book, but I was wrong. There is a traumatic event near the conclusion that I certainly couldn’t have imagined.

There are some hilarious scenes during the Fearless retreat, like the vagina spa ritual for the women and the teeth filing ceremony for the men. Add these to the passion sessions, pow-wows and intimacy workshops and there are laugh out loud moments.

Higgins has previously lived in Indonesia and her intimate knowledge of the area and its customs comes through vividly in the book.

This book was a really lovely surprise. I loved the mixed up bunch of characters and the colourful locals. It is the authenticity of the characters and setting that make this a great read.


My debut novel, Unexpected Delivery is coming out very soon! I’m very excited.

It is the story of Vivienne and Daniel….

Lawyer, Vivienne Greene is pulled from her comfortable office job to a temporary position in the country to conduct property foreclosures. Vivienne knows she’s in trouble when her first day goes horribly wrong and she’s dragged into delivering a calf by the handsome dairy farmer, Daniel Beckett.

Single father, Daniel Beckett, has adopted radical, robotic milking and he’s unimpressed by the city girl who tries to take his farm away. At the same time, the attraction to her is immediate.

Will Vivienne let love win and risk her job and succumb to the attractive dairy farmer? Can Daniel forgive Vivienne for trying to take his livelihood away?

Stay tuned for download and purchase options.