Introducing… Book Muster Down Under
Tell us a little more about Book Muster Down Under:
My name is Marcia, I’m 41, a wife, a mother, originally from South Africa but now a very proud Australian. At this stage I’m only a part-time reviewer as I hold down a full-time job with the Qld Govt, but Book Muster Down Under was created by me almost 2 years ago (wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long) after I took an online Creative Writing Course with the Sydney Writers’ Centre. We’d lived in Australia for 4 years by then and I’d come to realise that we have an untold number of talented Aussie authors, so I try my very best to dedicate most of my reviews to their books, although, from time to time, you may find reviews from overseas authors (I think that’s only happened once because our Aussie publishers keep me going with great Aussie books).
What prompted the creation of Book Muster Down Under?
My love of reading which was sparked by my Mom at a very young age and a recommendation by a lovely friend of mine on Goodreads who enjoyed my reviews and suggested I start my own blog – which I didn’t think was a bad idea at all as I felt it could contribute to getting our Aussie authors “out there” so that they can succeed in what they have set out to achieve. The other thing I found once I started reviewing was that it offered me an outlet (I suffer with post-natal depression which has gradually morphed into clinical depression) in which I could share my feelings about what I’ve read. This in itself is a cathartic release, especially when I read novels with darkish psychological themes, allowing me to reflect and appreciate that there are so many others who (whilst they may be fictional), have not had it as good as me.
What can readers expect when visiting Book Muster Down Under?
Every now and then I host book giveaways but mostly you’ll find book reviews, author interviews and lately, some really great guest posts by authors. I’ve also recently updated the blog with a new template which I find so much more refreshing than the previous drab brown I had – so now, when people visit, they are greeted with a fresh new look. You also won’t find any negative reviews on my blog because I don’t believe that any author out there deserves scathing rhetoric after they have put their heart and soul into their published work. After all, I didn’t set out to be a “critical” reviewer and I wouldn’t want my blog to become a source of discontent. Maybe I’m being a bit naïve, but I don’t see the purpose in publicly finding fault with a work that an author has worked so hard to produce. If I find after the first two chapters that I don’t like a book, I simply don’t read it! There are far too many great books out there to waste our time on ones that don’t engage us.
Can readers become involved with Book Muster Down Under?
Absolutely. I might be a bit of an introvert, but I welcome all kinds of interactions from comments on my blog posts to entries into my book giveaways as well as by way of my Twitter handle and Facebook page.
What’s next for you/ Book Muster Down Under?
Hmmm, I’ve been asking myself that question for a while now. I’d like to take my blog a little further, but my spare time is pretty much limited with a full-time job as well as a home to run with a wonderful husband and two children to see to (you don’t want to see the state of my house). Although … I’ve recently introduced a new form to my reviews in that I don’t “star review” them – I find that, as a reviewer, it’s not my place to give them “stars” as the reader should be able to see, just from my review, whether they will like the novel or not. I’m also hoping to introduce some “blogger insights” within the next few months as well as try to source someone who can create a gorgeous header just for me. Watch this space!
What are your top five favourite Aussie romance books of 2014 so far?
So far, I have read a number of wonderful books this year and I feel awful having to choose, but here goes (and they’re in no particular order):
The French Prize by Cathryn Hein
A romantic adventure with a delicious albeit enigmatic Frenchman as the leading man
Luna Tango by Alli Sinclair
A story with a parallel timeline giving us two love stories in one set against the backdrop of Argentina with the passion of the Argentinian Tango
Simmering Season by Jenn J McLeod
Whilst I wouldn’t class this as straight romance, I can’t help but be drawn to the beautiful town of Calingarry Crossing. There’s a lot simmering in this novel and that includes a bit of low-key passion!
Fairway to Heaven by Lily Malone
A love story with a difference that gives a thoughtful and insightful look into a female medical problem
Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein
Starring a guilt-ridden heroine and a sexy, charming and gentle hero with a disfigurement
All-time favourite character?
This has to be Jo from Little Women. I loved that book so much that I read it again and again probably because I felt such a connection with her. Like me, she loved reading and writing, was very stubborn, had a hot temper and was just a little rebellious. Seems like I might have to re-visit this one and write a review.
One thing you’d like readers to know about the romance genre…
Our Aussie romance writers have got so much talent that you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t read them.
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Oh, if only! Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? I would give myself a stern talking to (like I’ve given to my children) about the negative effects of smoking and how you should never start.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list:
Oh no! I think that list gets longer by the day, but the one thing I’d really love to do is to visit Portugal, the home of my maternal great-grandparents.
About Book Muster Down Under:
I live in Toowoomba, which lies on the crest of the Great Dividing Range in South East Queensland. Originally from South Africa, my husband and I, along with our two children, Nikita and Jarod, immigrated to Australia in November 2008 – and wow, what an adventure it has been. From never having flown in an aeroplane to 3 flights within a week – one of those international – and traipsing half-way across the world to begin our new life, it was overwhelming to say the least. We have integrated well into Australian Society and will always be thankful to our adopted country for giving us a second chance at life with “no worries” (well, not exactly no worries, but you know what I mean) and, on the 25th October 2013 took a very important step in our journey, by becoming Australian Citizens. I work full-time for the Queensland Government but am an avid reader – thanks to my Mom who introduced me to the world of books at the tender age of 2 – and during breaks at work, you will almost always find me sitting under the trees with a book. I joined Goodreads in about April 2012 after a work colleague recommended it and started this Blog for my book reviews which also get posted to Goodreads and The Reading Room – I thought it would not only be great to “get myself out there” as a Book Blogger but also to promote the untold number of Australian Authors in our midst.