The Mothers Group by Fiona Higgins

‘All those things no one ever tells you about motherhood. It’s like secret mothers’ business. Lots of my friends had babies before me, but not one of them ever told me it would be this hard…It’s like a code of silence.’

The Mothers’ Group tells the story of six very different women who agree to meet regularly soon after the births of their respective babies.

Set during the first crucial year of their babies’ lives, The Mothers’ Group tracks the women’s individual journeys – and the group’s collective one – as they navigate birth and motherhood as well as the shifting ground of their relationships with their partners.

The Mother’s Group is brilliant. From the first pages the story drags you in. From its brutal honesty about motherhood and all its challenges to the uglier sides of our own personalities. This book really doesn’t hold back. At times its easy to put your judgemental hat on and feel quite superior about how far above this group you are. Until you realise with somewhat disturbing clarity; you are in fact exactly like these women.

You do the wrong things, you make the wrong choices, you feel downtrodden and as though the world is against you. And you definitely judge. But the beauty of Fiona Higgins writing is that even with all that recognition, it never makes you feel bad, just human.

As the story evolves you are drawn into the complex and at times very confronting lives of this group of women. They are not women who would choose to be friends. They are thrown together through circumstance, motherhood is the one tie that binds them together but it could also be the one thing that will drive them apart.

From the first few chapters The Mother’s Group has a sense of impending drama and it doesn’t disappoint in that department. This is in its simplest form, a book about relationships, but it is so much more than that too. It has everything you could want from a really great thrilling read. It hurtles a long at an astonishing pace and doesn’t let up, all leading to a blinding climax that you will not see coming. There are so many twists and turns that it feels as though the book has nothing more left to shock you with but it just keeps delivering.

I cannot recommend this enough. As a mother to a young child this resonated on so many levels. As a woman it did too. The combined effect was mesmerising. I couldn’t stop reading Fiona Higgins and you wont either. This is one début author who will be around for a long time to come.

Courtney for TLC Books

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An unexpected love affair….

…with Stephanie Laurens.

I can see you judging those romance covers; “look at the chiselled abs” you say, “what kind of a name is On A Wicked Dawn you mock. Three weeks ago I would’ve been right there with you, probably daring you to flick through the pages and find a reference to someone’s member. My reading tastes err more towards science fiction, fantasy and horror – the grislier the better. So when started reading my first romance novel I admit my hopes were not high. I expected nothing more than some swooning, a few unrealistic protagonists and predictable plot lines. Oh how very wrong I was.

I took a leap and bought  What Price Love by Stephanie Laurens.  From the first page I realised why Laurens is a best seller. Adventure, spies, murder, passion, action, conspiracy, deception and of course mushy, mushy love are just some of the reasons why you find yourself awake at 3am, not caring that you’ve got to get up in five hours, only that you find out what happens in the end.

The very next day I came into work I ordered the rest of the author’s books. The first one was so amazing that it didn’t even occur to me until later how risky it was ordering and buying in all her other books the next day, just from the impression one of Laurens’ book made. It wasn’t even the first in the series, which amazed me even more. Lauren’s writes her novels in such a way that it’s not imperative to read in chronological order – each book makes a great stand-alone novel.

These are not your typical “Oh I love him, even though he treats me horribly *swoon* I’ll just go over here and pout and wait for him to rescue me”.  No, no and no. These heroines have backbone to spare! Even when contrasted with domineering male protagonists – perhaps even because of that – these characters show an amazing amount of depth and substance. Combine that with murder plots, jealous conniving women and of course romance and you have a winning combination.

My foray into the world of romance novels has definitely been a rewarding one – I thoroughly encourage anyone brave enough to accept the challenge and be seen with a romance novel in their hands. Laurens’ will make it well worth your while.

Neek for TLC Books


The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

I started reading this book and within the first four pages I knew I would be driven to distraction trying to finish it as quickly as possible. This is the sort of book that eclipses anything else you may be doing or should be doing. Do not be fooled into thinking you will be able to put it down, you won’t. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is the sort of book that will have a lasting impact on anyone who reads it. This is definitely on my top ten list for 2011.

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The Language of Flowers is Victoria Jones’ story. Orphaned as a small child she has spent the majority of her life being shuffled between institutions and foster homes. This upbringing has born in Victoria many fears, the main being a mistrust of anyone and anything. Unable to get close to anyone she communicates in the language of flowers. Honeysuckle for devotion, azaleas for passion and red roses for love. Using this strange and ancient language she conveys her feelings to those around her never knowing if she is understood or not.

Now eighteen years old Victoria has been kicked out of the system and is finally facing the world on her own. Alone, afraid and with nowhere to go, Victoria takes up residence in a public park. She plants a small garden of her own within the park and begins to attempt to make her way in the world. Looking for work she comes across a local florist and asks for any work the florist may have for her. So begins the next chapter in Victoria’s life.

She thrives on the thrill of matching customers with the perfect flower to match their needs and it is this new beginning that will bring her to meet the person that could change everything. A mysterious flower vendor working at the market place, a man who will make her face the demons of her past and finally get her to ask herself the questions she has run from for so long.

The story switches from stories of Victoria’s past to the present. Back and forth as the mystery of her life unravels and the two parts of the story become one. Take the journey with Victoria, and sit alongside her as she discovers insights about herself and her life she had never considered.

Richly woven, dark, menacing and oftentimes heartbreaking this is a novel of redemption, love, loss and the beautiful language of flowers. A truly beautiful literary novel, this is a book to get lost in. I did not want this book to end and I cannot recommend it enough.  Make sure you add this to your “to be read” pile.

– Courtney for TLC Books


Daughter Of Smoke And Bone by Laini Taylor – a release we are REALLY excited about

Necklaces made of wishes, black markets of teeth and a wishbone on a cord. Nothing is as it seems here. Wishes are not granted by genies and lamps. Karou is not the love-crazed protagonist. And this book is like nothing you’ve read before.

Karou has been the apprentice to the wishmonger her whole life and working for this chimera can mean dealing with some interesting individuals – both human and otherwise. Hidden from the human world are her adoptive family of chimera who deal in wishes and for reasons unknown require copious amounts of ill-gotten teeth. When she’s not trading wishes for molars, Karou is just like any other seventeen-year-old art student in Prague…with blue hair that grows that way naturally.

There is more to this story than sketchbooks filled with monsters and underground markets of teeth. Someone is tracking Karou. Something is hunting the chimera. Somewhere Karou’s home is burning and the answers to the mysteries of her life seem to exist in a place she can’t get to.

Past, present and future collide into a collage of devastation as all begin to realise that some secrets should remain hidden. Lives will be lost and others found. Friend will resemble foe and sanity becomes insane in a war where there can be no victor. Love may just find that it has no place in a world that is burning.
An epic adventure, tear wrenching heart-breaker, laughter-fit inducer and so very, very much more, this book has it all. Taylor has certainly set the bar high for this trilogy and I have every confidence that she will exceed the standard in the books to follow.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is, dare I say, perfect. I’ve not encountered a fantasy work like this in such a long time I’d almost forgotten that originality still exists. This book is the Luke Skywalker of fantasy – our saviour from a literary world full of clipped angels and vampires with glitter problems.

-Neek for TLC Books

Want some more info about the author? Check out her website: http://lainitaylor.blogspot.com/


Author Interview with Natasha Solomons

This week we also managed to interview the lovely Natasha Solomons. Natasha is a very popular author at TLC Books, when her first novel, Mr Rosenblum’s list, was released last year in March 2010 it was our top-selling book of the month and was in our top ten selling fiction books of the year. Not a bad effort for a début author!

The Novel In The Viola is Natasha’s second book and we are just as excited about it. A wonderful tale of an Austrian girl displaced during the onset of WWII, a Jewish girl, who takes refuge in England as a domestic worker for a family (of sorts) in a grand old home in Tyneford on the Dorset coast.

The book  gently and beautiful written and you are quickly drawn into Elise’s life and the life of the village in Tyneford. I know we have another bestseller on our hands and we are delighted that Natasha took the time to answer our questions. Even the really personal ones!

Thank you so much Natasha Smile

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Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself as a writer?

As well as writing novels, I also write screenplays with my husband. I think that means while my work is ‘literary fiction’ it is very plot driven. I visualise scenes – Kit meeting Elise on the beach while she’s in her knickers and cursing at the sea, the party scene in Vienna, Elise and Mr Rivers drinking pink gin before the last dance at Tyneford… I use these scenes to then tell the story.

My editor once told me that my books are carefully lit. In a movie that is the job of the director/ director of photography but this is the pleasure of novel writing – I can write, direct, cast, find the perfect location and even light the scene. And the fabled ‘golden hour’ at sunset can last as long as I want it to!

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

I live with my husband, a writer, in rural Dorset. We love tramping across the fields and chatting through the plot of whatever we’re working on or about the books we’ve read or the films we’ve been watching. I’m basically a story-monster so my favourite pastimes involve stories in some form. Or cooking as I’m also a big fan of food. I love slow cooked stews – basically anything that’s hard to burn as I tend to forget what I’m doing half way through. I forgot some rhubarb yesterday and welded it to the bottom of a pan.

Do you have any rituals or processes for writing your novels?

In spring or summer I take my laptop down to the summerhouse at the bottom of the garden. There is no phone, no internet – just the squawk of the pheasants and the sound the of the bees. If it’s cold, I work in my study under the eaves and if it’s very cold, I write by the fire.

mr-rosenblum-hbI have to say, readers at TLC Books fell in love with Mr Rosenblum’s List, have you had very much feedback from readers?

I’ve had so many gorgeous letters and e-mails from readers. It’s been just amazing. A note from a reader who has really connected with my writing, absolutely makes my day.

You have a blog at natashasolomons.com, does that connection with your readers influence your writing at all?

I actually find that while I’m writing, I need to disconnect from the world for a while. I read and read and take long walks, as I need to allow the real world to take second place to the imaginary one that I’m starting to create. I think it would be dangerous to try and write what I believe readers to want. I have to write the stories that excite and challenge me. I need to be a little frightened before I start.

What was the inspiration for The Novel In The Viola?

I’d always wanted to write something set in the ‘ghost village’ of Tyneham, which was requisitioned by the War Office in 1943. The villagers were forced to leave their cottages on Christmas Eve. They left pinning this note to the church door:

Please treat the church and houses with care; we have given up our homes where many of us lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.’

But, they were never allowed back and the village is now a ruin. It is situated on one of the most beautiful stretches of England’s coast – but the land is still owned by the Ministry of Defence and visitors are only allowed occasionally.

While I was pondering Tyneham, I read an article in a magazine about Jewish women who managed to escape Nazi Europe by becoming domestic servants in Britain. Many of these women had led privileged lives with servants of their own and had to come to terms with their new positions. In a ‘eureka moment’ I realised that I needed to tell the story of Tyneham and the last days of an English country house, through the eyes of an outsider and a servant– a young Jewish girl from Vienna.

The novel is also influenced by books like Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’, ‘Remains of the Day’, ‘Atonement’ and of course, the quintessential ‘young girl in a country house’ story, ‘Jane Eyre.’

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If you’re willing to share… love and falling in love features heavily in The Novel In The Viola, what age were you when you first fell in love?

I pined for a beautiful boy, who looked rather like Kit. I was very young, probably only eleven, and I used to watch this tanned boy skimming pebbles on the beach. I felt so pale and plump and ordinary beside him.

Both of your books deal with new immigrants to the UK finding their feet and themselves, is it an issue close to your heart or a coincidence?

My grandparents were immigrants from Berlin, arriving in the UK shortly before WW2. I think their stories as well as those of other refugees have inspired me.

Out of all your characters, whom would you want to know in ‘real’ life?

I feel that I do know them. They are as real to me as my own family.

Finally, do you play a musical instrument at all?

I play the flute really badly. In fact, I can’t play at all if I think someone can hear me. I spent 7 years miming in the school orchestra. The oboes who sat at the next desk used to laugh at me.

Tanya Caunce for TLC Books


Mama Couture by Moya Kate

Moya Kate has done what many could not, she has written a hilarious, fun-filled story about the ups and downs of motherhood and made it stylish. Mama Couture is fantastic. For anyone who has had children, is pregnant or one day dreams of children this book is a must read for you.

Mama Couture is the story of Til Fisher a woman who has it all, the perfect job, a wardrobe full of designer clothing and a social life that most would envy. But on New Years Eve Til makes the greatest fashion faux pas: teaming sexy stilettos with way too many champagnes and a gorgeous virile man in a suit. When the haze of New Years Eve passes Til discovers she is pregnant, in all its sickness inducing hormone crazed madness. Nine months pass as Til swells to epic proportions, and then out of the blue Til discovers she actually loves being with her baby, in spite of the screaming, nappy changing and mess she is actually dreading the end of her maternity leave. The decision Til makes sets her on a path she never dreamed of, a decision that will take her around the world and set her on a path she never anticipated.

Woven with incredible facts about pregnancy and the first year of motherhood, Mama Couture takes an honest and unflinching look at one woman’s journey into parenting and beyond. Told in the style of such great women writers as Kathy Lette and Maggie Alderson, Moya Kate will have you laughing till you cry and wishing you could be Til even if it was only for a week. This story is real, it’s funny, it’s honest and most of all it is hilarious. Few people can make parenting so funny without resorting to the usual nappy changing jokes but Moya Kate has done exactly that! Not only that, but she has given women everywhere a voice that says yes; you can be a mother, but you can also be a million other things as well and you can do it all while wearing a fabulous pair of stilettos.

I hope that every woman who reads Mama Couture loves it as much as I did, being a mother to a little girl myself this book spoke to me like nothing I have ever read before, part comedy, part mothering manual, part business guide, Mama Couture is the modern anthem for women everywhere, It’s Bridget Jones’ Diary meets Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman, with stiletto shoes and designer clothes.

TLC Books will be hosting the launch of Mama Couture, Monday the 2nd of May at 6.30pm. Come and toast this great book with the author, champagne and cupcakes will be in abundance as Moya Kate shares about writing the book, the creation of Til Fisher and the trials of motherhood and business!

Tickets are free, please RSVP by facebook, email info@tlcbooks.com.au or ph: 33935130 as places are limited.

Courtney Nicholas for TLC Books