Reviews Published

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy 2014!

To all my readers: may 2014 bring you everything you've ever wished for, and more. Good health and happiness, pink balloons and limo rides, exotic travel and kind bosses, perfect weather, lots of family time and enough me-time, love, friendship, kindness, patience, chocolates and champagne.

To me: may it bring me lots of sold copies of OPERATION GENOCIDE.

Friday, December 20, 2013

My Christmas Gift To You

To celebrate Christmas, I'm giving away sacks of semi-precious stones from South Africa. No, not diamonds, LOL, and not very big sacks - about five gems in each.

Simply buy my book, OPERATION: GENOCIDE, and email yve at xtra co nz with the heading semi-precious stones. Remember to include your postal address!

Friday, December 13, 2013

The country Nelson Mandela fought

You won't be able to open a newspaper or browse the Internet this week without seeing the smiling, benevolent face of Nelson Mandela. You will hear people who used to have him on their terrorist lists praise his life's work. You will hear people who supported him mutter that his presidency left the country's poor no richer. You may even come across those who openly point out Nelson Mandela's violent past and the fact that he supported South Africa's armed struggle throughout most of his life (more details here).

What I want to talk about today, though, is the context. I want to tell you about the South Africa that Nelson Mandela was fighting. It was a beautiful land, a land impossible not to love, and you only need to read Alan Paton's classic CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY to feel it. But it was a land of many facets, many faces. Some people hated it, or thought they hated it (read about hating the South African flag here). Others were willing to die in its name.

And that's what my latest book, OPERATION GENOCIDE, is about: the government Nelson Mandela opposed, the people on either side of the barricades who didn't know better, and about the country that evokes political passion.

Read it. Think about it. And tell me what you thought.

Book trailer:

Friday, December 06, 2013


"Sail" by James Patterson gets 5/5 for pacing from me, but only 2/5 for character development. Try as hard as I did, I couldn't really care about the heroine, her brother-in-law, or her children. The antagonist didn't have any redeeming qualities, either, no softer side that made the reader sympathise with his point of view. I read the book to see what else could go wrong (everyuthing), but all the time it felt as though I was reading the second draft of the novel, and the fleshing out of the events and characters was still to come. It didn't. From a bestselling author, I expect a lot more.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Long Walk To Freedom - The Movie

As the movie "Long Walk To Freedom" continues to gather reviews around the world, people continue to want to learn more about South Africa and the country it was while Nelson Mandela was in prison. The thriller "Operation Genocide" will take you on a journey into the apartheid South Africa of the 1980s. Read it today.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Joneses

This is supposed to be fiction, but is it? A seemingly perfect family moves into a flash mansion. Soon the neighbours covet their lifestyle: the gadgets, the cars, the clothes. They choose to believe that all those material possessions will help their families become as happy as the Joneses. Now how is that different from our reality? Every magazine advert is designed to make the consumer believe that we will be prettier, slimmer, healthier and happier if only we use a particular lipstick or drink a particular protein shake. An enjoyable movie with an important message, but personally I was hoping for a bit more bang.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cloudy Cloud Atlas

Anybody else confused by Cloud Atlas, the movie? I couldn’t get through the book (the narration style didn’t suit me), and I watched the first half of the movie with avid interest and a complete lack of understanding what on earth was going on.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the acting, loved the settings, was riveted by the various threads of the story (the futuristic Seoul being my favourite), but as far as putting them all together went, no luck.

Here are some links to help you decipher this brilliant yet baffling story:

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Writer's Musings On Le Lagon (Port Villa)

It’s been almost a month since our get-away break at Le Lagon in Port Vila, Vanuatu, and still, the memories linger. As far as tropical island holiday resorts go, it’s one of the best this side of the equator. 

Here’s why:
·         The property is vast, it’s almost like a village all to itself, with spotlessly clean bures hiding in  immaculately maintained gardens. It really is like living in paradise, even if you don’t pay extra for a private villa or an over-water island bure.
·         The property is outside the actual city of Port Vila – close enough that a taxi ride takes just a few minutes, far enough that you don’t hear the noise.
·         The staff are all super friendly and super helpful. When my son hurt his finger during our excursion to the waterfall, a concerned Le Lagon receptionist called us to find out how he’s doing.
·         The food at the resort’s Wild Ginger restaurant is out of this world. Seafood and Asian influences dominate, but you also find French influences here when it comes to Crème Brûlée and the general presentation of the courses.
·         The poolside bar will serve you drinks inside the pool. There are even bar stools under the water for your convenience.
·         The spa pool is huge and a welcome relief on cooler evenings.
·         The beach is the perfect place to look at the starfish, hire a kayak or lounge with a book.

I can't wait to go back. Oh, and my latest novel was born there. My daughter was having braids put into her hair (it took two hours as her hair is long and thick), so while I waited, I started to scribble. Watch this space...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumping Up Sales For November 2013

I have a dream. I'd like to see OPERATION: GENOCIDE on the Stairway Press bestseller list in November. But, you may ask, what's in it for you?

Plenty. Buy OPERATION: GENOCIDE between now and the end of November 2013 and:
  • e-mail me on with the title "Bought OPERATION: GENOCIDE" and I will send you a free copy of my collection of murder mystery stories, SHORT OF CRIME;
  • I will also send you a free copy of my SF collection, SEX LIES AND HERE BE DRAGONS;
  • and I will send you a $5 Amazon gift voucher;
  • if the sales reach 100 - see, I'm not at all ambitious here - I will send one lucky reader a $100 Amazon voucher.
If you buy more than one copy (OPERATION: GENOCIDE makes a solid Christmas present), your name will be entered in the $100 draw for every copy you purchase. And of course you will receive a $5 Amazon voucher for every copy you buy.

This offer is valid for the paperback version as well as the Kindle version. If you do the math... ok, I'll do it for you :-) :
  • the Kindle copy of OPERATION: GENOCIDE is $7.95
  • the two free books you'll get add up to $1.98
  • and you get a $5 gift voucher
  • so OPERATION: GENOCIDE will only cost you 97 cents in Kindle.
If you buy the paperback, which is only $14.84, it'll actually only cost you $7.86 - less than the Kindle version.

Makes sense, doesn't it? And, and, you can have the wonderful glow-y feeling of altruism, knowing that your purchase brought me a step closer to achieving my dream.

Thank you in advance. And in anticipation. Oh, the link is here.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

About hate-reviews

Here is my guest contribution on Martin Edward's blog. Hate-reviews: good or bad? Find out.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

Never Go Back – Lee Child

Lee Child has done it again - created a masterpiece of a page-turner in NEVER GO BACK.

Now, in a traditional thriller, the reader keeps reading because the hero is in jeopardy, or his world is in jeopardy. The Jack Reacher series is unique in that you never really worry about him. He’s like a super-realistic superhero: his wits, training, experience and sheer physical superiority combined make us trust him to get himself out of any situation. As I mentioned before on this blog, he will figure a way to scale a fence using a water bottle and a piece of chewing gum, or blow up the baddies with a cell phone, or make a helium balloon  into a deadly weapon – and I’m only exaggerating a tiny bit. In fact, the cell phone example is true.

So, as I said, you never have to worry about Reacher. What’s more, the plot of NEVER GO BACK doesn’t rely on a deadly virus being released into the population or an asteroid hitting the earth. So, contrary to all thriller rules, there is no immediate danger. And yet, the way the book is written, you keep on reading. You want to solve the mystery, you want to know how things will work out with Susan (if you don’t know who Susan is, read 61 HOURS), you want to spend time in Reacher’s world.

Lee Child is known for the brevity of his writing style. He can have a page-long conversation full of he said / she said. His descriptions are factual, often with exact metrics, often noting the absence rather than the presence of objects. This usually works well and serves as a Lee Child signature. In NEVER GO BACK, he goes a step further. Without compromising his voice, he adds an extra layer of detail to his narrative, making it easy for the reader to sink into the book with all five senses.

If I had to pick my favourite Lee Child book, it would be this one.

Friday, September 20, 2013


An inhuman agenda…
A clandestine organization…
And the killing isn’t over yet…

Yvonne Walus’s latest book discusses the uncomfortable issue of atrocities committed by both sides of a battle for freedom.

In 1982, Annette Pretorius lives a life of privilege afforded to those of European descent in South Africa, but when her husband is murdered, she discovers a shattering secret: he’d been commissioned by the whites-only South African government to develop a lethal virus aimed at controlling the growth of the black population--already oppressed under the cruel system of apartheid and fighting back with everything they have.

Operation: Genocide is different from other books on the topic in that it presents opposing views: both those of the racist government and those fighting to overthrow it. The book has already attracted negative reviews for portraying the apartheid regime as a monster, and it is on the fast track to become one of those controversial books everybody will read just to be able to form their own personal opinion.

Yvonne is an award-winning author who lived in South Africa during the 1980s and 1990s. Her outsider’s perspective helped her see the country in a unique light. Although the plot details of Operation: Genocide is fictitious, there really did exist a secret government organisation dedicated to discovering scientific ways of killing the country’s enemies.

Buy it in paperback or e-book.

Operation: Genocide
by Yvonne Walus
Publisher: Stairway Press
Release Date: 17 September 2013
ISBN: 9780984907076

Friday, September 13, 2013

Desolation Row - Excerpt

“Deception, intrigue  and authentic sixties nostalgia. Those who remember this turbulent time-gone-by will connect with the tension and conflict of the passionately anti-war generation that hoped  to give peace a chance, but in this entertaining mystery, wound up with murder instead.” 

    -Hank Phillippi Ryan, Anthony, Agatha and Macavity award-winning author 


The telephone was ringing when Austin entered the apartment. She rushed to answer, hoping for good news about David.

“Austin Amelia, it’s time for you to pack up and come right home.” Mother spoke without preliminaries.

Austin’s teeth clenched, and her stomach tightened in knots.

Mother pressed on, not waiting for a response. “Your father and I agree that’s the best thing to do. We‘ll wire the money for a plane ticket tomorrow. How soon can you be ready to leave?”

The moment she heard the words “Austin Amelia,” Austin had prepared for the thousandth battle with Mother in their ongoing war. Her middle name irritated Austin since it was Mother’s first name,
making it harder for Austin to ignore her connection with the woman who’d tried to control her since time immemorial. Or at least for as long as she could remember.

How wrong Austin had been, thinking she’d won independence by marrying David. Mother merely changed the nature of the war and moved to another battle, one called “how a young matron should behave.”

The distance between Cuero, Texas, and Toronto, Ontario, was seventeen hundred miles, but unfortunately, the mail and the telephone could bridge that gap. She focused on the provocations pouring from her phone.

“Your father’s very concerned about this turn of events.”

“Naturally Daddy’s upset, and who wouldn’t be? Don’t you think I am?” Austin’s anger was reaching gale force. “This is no picnic for me either, you know.”

“My point is that you don’t want to upset your father, do you?” Mother’s tone was civil, but nevertheless she’d upped the stakes of the current battle by deploying her not so secret Daddy weapon. It was obvious to everyone—especially to her mother—that Austin adored her father, a fact that infuriated Mother.

And it was always Mother—never Mama or Mommy. But Daddy got the loving endearment.

“Where’s Daddy? Put him on and I’ll tell him why I can’t leave Toronto.”

“He’s not here. He’s sitting on another well and won’t be back for days. But I know what he’d say if he were here.”

Austin’s family ran an oil production company, and her father and uncle were often out in the field while new wells were drilled. How she’d envied their freedom. 

“Mother, you’re the one who always told me that a woman’s place was beside her hus—”

“Not if he’s in jail.” Her mother’s voice went up an octave, and the word squawk leapt to Austin’s mind.

“All the more reason to support David,” Austin said. “He’s been wrongly accused.”

“And what makes you so sure, Austin Amelia?”


Austin banged down the receiver, then looked in awe at the phone. That was a first. She doubted anyone had ever hung up on Amelia Starr before. She allowed herself a smile. She was feeling better already. If only she’d remembered to ask Mother to send boxes of grits before she hung up on her.

She ran to the refrigerator and opened the freezer compartment. She unwrapped a package of  brownies, used a butcher knife to separate them, and began gnawing on one. She immediately relaxed.

Thank God for baked goods and chocolate.

The freezer in her parents’ garage held leftovers from their daily desserts. The freezer was padlocked, ostensibly so no one could sneak into the garage and steal her mother’s prized baking. Austin
knew the real reason had been to keep her from doing the sneaking. The goodies were meant for Daddy, who loomed large at six feet five inches, but Austin always wanted to eat as many cookies as he did.

“Little ladies do not eat like that,” Mother would say, the words often intermingled with the warning, “No boy will want to marry you if you’re fat.”

Alone in her rental kitchen in Toronto, grinding through frozen brownies, Austin recalled hunting for the freezer key she’d known was secreted in the garage. She eventually found it but until she had, she’d obsessed over the mystery.

Right now she felt the same. Obsessive.

Someone had murdered the senator’s son, and that someone wasn’t David. Austin had no choice but to track down the killer. All she had to do was find the missing key.

Want to read more?

Friday, September 06, 2013

Interview With Kay Kendall

Yvonne: Welcome, Kay! Please tell us the title and genre of your book and its tagline.

Kay: Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery. In 1968 a young bride from Texas uses her CIA-honed skills to catch the real killer when her husband lands in a Canadian jail for murdering the draft-resisting son of a United States senator.

YW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

KK: My primary audience is female baby boomers—readers drawn to mysteries set in a tumultuous era they
lived through. Also, younger readers are having fun learning about hippie times. On the cover of my
book is a recommendation from bestselling thriller author Norb Vonnegut, who said “Kay Kendall is one author who knows how to burrow into your heart.”

YW: How did you come up with the title of your book?

KK: My amateur sleuth Austin Starr is a fan of Bob Dylan’s music so each mystery featuring her has a title that comes from one of his songs. The titles do double duty. To those who know the music from that time the titles signify the era without having to say something dull like – “a mystery from the sixties,” or some such. Future titles are Rainy Day Women and Tangled Up in Blue.

YW: Tell us about your cover art.

KK: When I brainstormed with my publisher and publicist at Stairway Press, we wanted an image to connote the time of the Vietnam War without being too hard-edged. I didn’t want to use peace signs or protest scenes because I thought those would be a turnoff and also they didn’t represent what the book is about. Really, this mystery is propelled by a love story. A young recently married couple far from home is pulled apart by mistakes of the American and Canadian authorities.

We decided to show a young woman with a slightly hippie vibe and I found the photo. Everyone loves the
cover, and I’m very pleased with it. One of the benefits of working with a smaller press is that an author gets much more input into all aspects of the publishing process than she would have at a huge publisher.

YW: Give us an interesting fact about living during the Cold War.

KK: The Cold War was the background theme of my childhood.  An intercontinental ballistic missile was housed in a silo on the outskirts of my hometown, and I thought that was very exciting. I took entrance exams for college during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and I remember driving to the tests thinking it wouldn’t matter if I bombed on them or not, since the world could blow up the next day. It was so surreal that I didn’t expect it but I did think about it. War was everywhere, and the mass media was still uncovering facts about World War II, and almost all our fathers had fought in that huge conflict. I went straight from reading Nancy Drew mysteries to suspense stories set during World Wars I and II. On the Beach was required reading in my high school English class. Published in 1957, the novel was a bestseller for a decade afterwards. Its subject was nuclear annihilation, with only parts of Australia had survivors, but they were doomed too. This was all thrilling to me, and I wasn’t scared as many said they were. It was too terrible to have happen so I treated it all like fiction.

YW: Do you have any unique hobbies?
KK: My husband and I have house rabbits—five of them currently. We belong to an organization in Houston, Texas, called Bunny Buddies. This is a rescue organization that saves at-risk rabbits that get abandoned and taken into shelters. We’ve had bunnies for almost twenty years now, and they are charming pets. The one that I hold in my author’s photograph is Dusty, and the other four are jealous. He was chosen
because he could hold still for a pose the longest. We also have a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named
Wills, but he doesn’t get to play with the bunnies since he’s too frisky. Rabbits are very nervous since they are preyed on by almost all other creatures. They have been called “the cheeseburger of the forest” to illustrate that they are snacks for all other animals. It’s terrible but true.

YW: How can we contact you and find out more about your book?
KK: You can email me at and I’m on Twitter @kaylee_kendall.  My website is and find me here too –

YW: What can we expect from you in the future?
KK: Desolation Row will soon be available as an audio book, in addition to paperback and E books. Online sales will be by,, and iTunes. The narrator is Tatiana Gomberg, an amazing young actress in New York City. She does a fabulous job, especially with all the different accents in my book—like Texan, Scottish, Russian, and New Jersey! I’m also working on the second mystery in the series, Rainy Day Women. It’s set in rainy Vancouver, Canada, in 1970. This time murder takes place in a women’s liberation group, and Austin’s best friend is the prime suspect.

YW: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
KK: Great question! Readers who enjoy my book can leave reviews on the usual online spots—like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Goodreads. My page on Goodreads has lots of information about my book and about me. I’m pleased to say that at this point in time my average rating out of five stars is 4.8. Also, multi awardwinning author Hank Phillippi Ryan says about my book, “Deception, intrigue and authentic sixties nostalgia.  Those who remember this turbulent time-gone-by will connect with the tension and conflict of the passionately anti-war generation that hoped to give peace a chance, but in this entertaining mystery, wound up with murder instead.” I hope my new readers will like Desolation Row just as much as she did.

Six Days Earlier

For people who've read EVERY DAY:

It's not as good. But it's still wonderful to go back into that world for six more days.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Every Day by David Levithan

EVERY DAY by David Levithan is a speculative YA that can be enjoyed by adults as much, or perhaps even more. It's an original idea. The writing style is entertaining. The book makes you think.

And, you know what? In a way, it's as sad as THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

Here's the blurb:

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.
There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.
It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I left my heart in Africa...

OPERATION: GENOCIDE (Stairway Press, 17 September 2013) is a book close to my heart. Very close. So close, it could have been written on the walls of my left ventricle, the life-giving one that one that receives oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium and pumps it through to the entire body. 

It’s because in Africa I feel truly alive. The continent feels both totally exotic and totally like home. When I set foot on the sizzling tarmac of Johannesburg’s international airport as an impressionable 12-year old....

Read more

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Insert Name Here

Red Rose Publishing
August 2013


This is my To-Do-Before-I-Turn-30 list:
•         Eat an ostrich egg. Check.
•         Play with a cheetah cub. Check.
•         Swim with a dolphin. Check.
•         Scuba dive in a foreign country. Double check for doing it at night.
•         Skydive. Check, bonus points because I wasn’t scared.
•         Dare to love again. Nah, cross it out. So not going to happen. I’ve learned my lesson.
•         Make love on a yacht.
•         ... With a stranger for extra points.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not into one-night stands. The idea of getting close and intimate with someone I’m not emotionally involved with gives me the creeps. I only included it in my to-do list because I was hurt and devastated and not thinking straight.
Getting dumped wasn’t on my to-do list. Neither was an impromptu trip to Africa. When my now-ex-boyfriend broke up with me, I simply sold my engagement ring and booked the first holiday package I found. My Before-I-Turn-30 list was born on the long flight towards the Black Continent.
And now I’m in Africa. The sun is hot. The air is hot. My energy levels are up there with over-boiling. In just two short weeks, I managed to put a big fat checkmark next to five items on my bucket list. Beats choosing the wedding cake, that’s for damned sure.


Friday, August 09, 2013

I blame Lee Child for my recent food cravings...

I blame Lee Child for my recent food cravings. No, he didn't make me pregnant. It's just that I’m re-reading THE AFFAIR, and every time Jack Reacher goes into the diner for that enormous cheese burger and the squirrel’s nest of shoestring fries, my mouth starts watering.

Doesn’t help that elsewhere in this book there is the most explicit sex scene Lee has ever written. And for some bizarre yet totally cliché reason, it makes me crave gooey chocolate fudge.

It’s a mark of a great writer to immerse the reader in the book so thoroughly. My only hope is I’m different enough from Reacher not to walk around hitting people. Mind you, if I don’t sink my teeth into a fat cheeseburger soon, I might just start wanting to…

That scene, BTW, it’s good. I know it was nominated for the 2011 worst published scene award, but I disagree. We got the tension and the delay before, we got the distrust after, we got some great visual and auditory effects during. For those who feel there was a lack of emotional reaction, well, that’s Reacher for you. You don’t see him get emotionally involved in a fight, do you?

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Cooking at Midnight

If you’ve seen the movie “Julie and Julia”, you will remember the scene in which Julie Powell is cooking the famous Boeuf Bourguignon in the middle of the night. I can relate to that. My family’s recent schedule is so hectic, I sometimes end up cooking dinner the night before. And I do mean the _night_ before. As in midnight, or two in the morning. The difference between me and Julie Powell? I’m not cooking Boeuf Bourguignon. Far too time consuming! In my desperate drive to be done cooking and catch some sleep, I’ve perfected the art of making lasagne in 10 minutes – ready to eat immediately or to reheat the next day.
Another difference between Julie and me? Nobody’s rushing to make a movie about Yvonne Walus.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Before Midnight

What is it about the movie BEFORE MIDNIGHT that makes it so good? Yes Ethan Hawke. Yes Julie Delpy. Yes the Greek setting and yes the quirky dialogue and yes the raw honesty of what love looks like after nine years.

But you know what else? It's the assumption that the female characters are all intelligent and they have something to discuss that's not shoes. It reminded me not only of its predecessors BEFORE SUNRISE and BEFORE SUNSET, but also of a Canadian classic, THE FALL OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE.   Go see BEFORE MIDNIGHT. Twice.   

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Replay by Ken Grimwood is a novel worth reading. I wonder whether that's where Stephen King got his idea for 22/11/63. Yes, it's about travelling back in time, replaying bits of your life. Personally, I preferred King's version (I could actually see the railway lines and taste the root beer), but I'm glad I read Replay.

Here's what the Wikipedia says about it: "Replay is the account of 43-year-old radio journalist Jeff Winston, who dies of a heart attack in 1988 and awakens back in 1963 in his 18-year-old body as a student at Atlanta's Emory University. He then begins to relive his life with intact memories of the next 25 years, until, despite his best efforts at cardiac health, he dies of a heart attack, again, in 1988. He immediately returns to 1963, but several hours later than the last "replay". This happens repeatedly with different events in each cycle, each time beginning from increasingly later dates (first days, then weeks, then years, then ultimately decades). Jeff soon realizes that he cannot prevent his death in 1988, but he can change the events that occur before it, both for him, and for others."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Nine Fold Heaven - A Guest Post By Mingmei Yip

In China, there are many woman spies – their activities range from stealing political secrets to toppling governments. What I discovered during my research of writing my previous novel Skeleton Women (femmes fatales) and my new novel The Nine Fold Heaven is that spies usually end unhappily. Most spies, no matter how cautious smart, scheming, or ruthless, in the end could not beat fate. Because the world they lived in had too much uncertainty and evil.

All a spy is allowed to possess is the “four nothings,” no friends, no identity, no emotion, no scruples. In China, there were many woman spies who will use their beauty, talent, and scheme to eliminate their target. This is called the beauty strategy, or honey trap, recorded in the famous Thirty Six Stratagems two hundred fifty thousand years ago.

Simple in principle and timeless in effectiveness, it involved sending beautiful women to eliminate anyone from lord to emperor. Twenty-five hundred years ago, during the China’s chaotic era known as the Warring States, King Goujian of Yue used it to defeat King Fuchai of the State of Wu. King Wu won the first battle and so King Yue sent him ten carts of priceless treasures as tribute. But cleverly he also included eight of the most beautiful women in his state as peace offerings. As intended, King Wu and his ministers had become so immersed in dalliance that they neglected state affairs. Tipped off by his spies, King Yue sent his army and easily defeated King Wu. Though Wu offered Yue his country and all its treasures, the victor was merciless. Yue was ordered to commit suicide in front of the very women who had brought about his ruin.

Even the most cunning man becomes a fool for a beautiful woman. Friends’ warnings fall on deaf ears. They blind themselves to the schemes behind the pretty face and the poisons in the beloved heart. When clothes come off, thinking stops.

However, there are also spies who failed at their last step to succeed because at the last minute, they could not pull the trigger. We imagine this is especially true for women. They may fall in love with their target and find themselves unable to kill.

This is what happens in Eileen Chang’s novel, Caution, Lust. When the female protagonist finally lured her victim to the place planned for his assassination, she didn’t have the heart to kill him and told him to run.

A Chinese saying, “It’s difficult for a hero to resist a beautiful woman’s love.” Thus the ever popular honey trap. But this also applies when a women meets a handsome, caring man. 

Come along with an ex spy as she returns to Shanghai where she’s a wanted woman – but she has to search for her baby and her lost lover. Is her baby really alive? Will she be able to find her lover? Can she elude the police long enough to find them? Learn much more about Nine Fold Heaven and Mingmei Yip at and get your copy of this exciting and exotic novel at

Nine Fold Heaven is part of a series about Camilla the songbird and female spy – you can also read Skeleton Women, the first book about Camilla.

About Nine Fold Heaven

An ex spy and nightclub singer who undertakes an emotional and dangerous journey to reunite with her lost lover and the baby she was told was stillborn, and to discover the secret of her parents’ murder.

About Mingmei Yip

Mingmei Yip has been writing and publishing since she was fourteen years old and now she has twelve books to her credit. Her five novels are published by Kensington Books and her two children’s books are published by Tuttle Publishing. Mingmei is also a renowned qin (ancient string instrument) musician, calligrapher and painter. In Hong Kong, she was a columnist for seven major newspapers. She has appeared on over sixty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and the US. Visit Mingmei at:

Thursday, July 04, 2013

The Rook

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley is a debut novel with a lot of oomph. Imagine a speculative fiction thriller, and you're partly there. Add a lot of humour, original ideas and great writing, and you're beginning to imagine what the book may be like.

Something about it reminds me of Terry Pratchett in his early days. I read it, loved it, can't recommend it often enough. And Book 2 is finished, awaiting publication.

For those of you who need a blurb:

"The body you are wearing used to be mine." So begins the letter Myfanwy Thomas is holding when she awakes in a London park surrounded by bodies all wearing latex gloves. With no recollection of who she is, Myfanwy must follow the instructions her former self left behind to discover her identity and track down the agents who want to destroy her.

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain. She also discovers that she possesses a rare, potentially deadly supernatural ability of her own.

In her quest to uncover which member of the Chequy betrayed her and why, Myfanwy encounters a person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter her dreams, a secret training facility where children are transformed into deadly fighters, and a conspiracy more vast than she ever could have imagined.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

Trade the Day

Trade the Day:

Spotlight on Team Alaina and the Leukemia Lymphoma Society

24 hours, 23 guest authors, 1 book, 1 goal…a cure.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Not enough SF movies get made. And too many of the ones that do get made think they have to be all action and not enough mood and setting and plot. So I'm very pleased to report that Oblivion with Tom Cruise met all the criteria for a good SF story, with amazing visuals as a handy bonus.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Time Fall by Timothy Ashby

TIME FALL by Timothy Ashby is a speculative novel of what-if and time travel. What if a group of USA soldiers fighting in World War Two got carried forward in time to the present day? What if they parachuted out of their plane in April 1945 but landed in today's Germany? What if they set about carrying out their military sabotage without realising they are now living in the distant future? What if they meet Nazi officers who've grown old and frail? What if they cross paths with Islam terrorists?

One of the features of a good book is that it means different things to different readers. The message I got from TIME FALL is the poignant observation how futile war is. Governments send our young men on missions to kill other young men, they send them to destroy cities and ruin the countryside, they send them to bring about chaos and tragedy. Sometimes the young men come back, damaged forever by the things they've seen. Sometimes they don't come back at all. It may be a comfort to imagine that - like the characters in TIME FALL - they have simply been transported to the future and are stuck there, perhaps a bit bewildered and confused, but at least still alive.

Here is my favourite non-spoiler quote from the book:

... the horrors experienced by teenage boys who had been drafted to “defend America against international communism.” Like all those dead and maimed boys he had known in ‘Nam. And now half the fucking crap for sale at Walmart was from Vietnam and the other half was from “communist” China. Shaking his head, he left the office and walked down the street to a Frank & Stein.

And here is some information about TIME FALL:

Publisher – Author Planet Press
June 2013

ISBN-10 1481026674
ISBN-13 978-1481026673

Filled with historically accurate details, Time Fall is a complex military tale that keeps readers riveted through every surprising twist. Read an excerpt and to enter to win a FREE copy of Time Fall, visit For your copy, visit You can also get your copy at all major book retailers.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Trade by Colby Marshall

Stolen lives…

Reporter McKenzie McClendon is on the trail of her next hot story, tracking a sadistic serial killer known as The Cradle Robber. This brutal murderer preys on pregnant women, slicing their infants from their wombs, leaving the helpless women to die while he disappears with their babies.

The trade of innocents…

Jonas Cleary is out of options. McKenzie, his former sweetheart, is his last hope. Jonas believes his slain wife was The Cradle Robber’s first victim and that his son is still alive, lost in the underground world of the black market baby trade, where ruthless people are happy to prey on the desperation of those willing to pay any price to have a child, and infants are just another commodity.

Before another one dies…

Aided by former Navy SEAL Noah Hutchins and a clever FBI data specialist, McKenzie races to unravel the web of lies, drawing dangerously closer to the ruthless, brilliant surgeon at the heart of the maze. With a child’s future hanging in the balance, the lives of five people careen toward a terrifying collision. It’s up to McKenzie to discover which key will unlock the puzzle, and which will get her killed.

Watch the official book trailer for The Trade

The Trade by Colby Marshall is currently available for pre-order on with free shipping, and until its release date on June 11, you can pre-order The Trade together with a copy of Chain of Command and get BOTH for only $19.99 (over $31 separately)! Will be available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and other major e-readers June 11, 2013.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Books I'm Waiting For

I'm currently reading a few advance review copies, and I'll post the reviews in due course, but for now, here's my wish list for the books I'd love to see on my to-read-pile:
  1. Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl - the copy is doing the rounds at my book club, and I'm awaiting my turn
  2. Lee Child's Never Go Back (Jack Reacher #18) - it will hit the shelves in August 2013
  3. Veronica Roth's Divergent - the library will let me know when to collect it, I hope it's before the movie gets released, LOL
  4. A new novel by Nick Hornby - sadly, I don't think there's any fiction coming from him soon
  5. A rewrite of Hunger Games Book 3 - I won't say why, for fear of spoilers
  6. And, of course, my very own Operation Genocide - I won't read it again, that's for damned sure, I just want to see it on my bedside table. Roll on, September 2013!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Novel I'm Not Allowed To Blog About

Have you ever wondered how books get all those glowing reviews just minutes after they become available on Amazon? It's because some advance copies are sent out to reviewers ahead of time, of course. Simple when you think about it.

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of reading an advanced review copy of SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY by my favourite author, Joshilyn Jackson.

The upside? It's the best book I read this year (and that's including gems like MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS). Possibly the best book I've read since Joshilyn Jackson's previous novel, A GROWN UP KIND OF PRETTY.

The downside? I'm supposed to wait till November before I write the review.

So for now, take my word for it: you want to buy the book. Although it discusses difficult themes, it won't rip out your heart and stomp on it. What it will do, it'll fill you with the beauty of its words and the beauty of its world.

Diarise 19 November 2013 - that's when SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY comes out.

You can't wait. Trust me.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Breaking Silence

"... initially banned from major book chains after a 50,000 strong Facebook boycott campaign ripped across New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the UK protesting its publication.Breaking Silence uses the life story of mother Macsyna King as the narrative to explore the problem of intergenerational child abuse and its impact on modern society. "

A difficult topic. A highly controversial issue. A brave book. It changed my perspective and confirmed that newspapers often get the wrong end of the stick. The book won't tell you what really happened, but at least you'll find out what didn't happen.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Crime Fiction I Love

Today I thought I'd try something different: a Pinterest post about crime novels I like. Have a look. (Shameless plug included!)

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Fault In Our Stars

If you've been following this blog for some time, you know I don't, as a rule, read sad books. None in which children die or get hurt. It's an emotional journey I consciously choose not to embark on, an emotional experience I hope to live without.

Consequently, my book club has a time and a half trying to convince me to read a book "in which something bad happens". I will ask a lot of questions: is it ultimately uplifting, do you feel enriched for having read the book, are the emotional scenes heart-wrenching, is it so good you'd read it again, does it ultimately have a rewarding ending (not necessarily a happy one, just rewarding).

John Green's The Fault In Our Stars ticks all the boxes (including the "no"-box under "are the emotional scenes heart-wrenching"). It's a beautiful book, totally worthy of reading, and I won't tell you what it's about for fear that you won't want to read it. For it is a grim topic, well handled with just enough humour and irreverence, and with a lot of heart.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spanish Degustation Dinner

Think Spanish wine and, chances are, you're not going to think very long. In New Zealand, we usually drink wine from New Zealand and Australia. In South Africa, we drink South Africa, French and Australian. In Poland, we drink vodka.

And yet, Spain is the third largest wine producer in the world, after France and Italy. Did you know that? I didn't. Just one of the many things I learnt at last night's dinner, a lavish 6-course affair with Spain's cooking, matched with Spanish wine.

My favourite dish was probably a goat cheese croquette with Iberico de Bellota ham (made from free-ranging black pigs fed on a diet of acorns). I liked the Chardonnay matched with it, but my favourite wine of the evening was Papa Luna Garnacha / Shiraz. There's just something about Shiraz, no matter where it's made...

All of this at our local restaurant, an easy walk from the house. Next time, we'll leave the car at home, even if it rains. Five small glasses of wine may not put me over the legal driving limit, but I certainly felt the buzz!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Go Forth And Hibernate

April in New Zealand means the first breath of winter. The air is still warm, the leaves only starting to turn from green to gold, but my body is telling me it's time to fatten up and go to sleep. For real!

The urge to lie on the sun-drenched sofa is overwhelming. With a strong cup of tea and a biscuit. And perhaps a book I've read before, so I don't mind if my eyelids get droopy and I... drift off... to Nap Land....

Yawn. See you next week. Maybe.

I do want to tell you about this thought-provoking novel, Save Me. But today, I'm a bear.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Operation: Genocide - the blurb

An inhuman agenda…

In 1982, Annette Pretorius lives a life of privilege afforded to those of European descent in South Africa, but when her husband is murdered, she discovers a shattering secret: he’d been commissioned by the whites-only South African government to develop a lethal virus aimed at controlling the growth of the black population--already oppressed under the cruel system of apartheid.

A clandestine organization…

The murder came with a warning to Annette from a secretive organization: keep our secrets or you too will die. Captain Trevor Watson, Annette’s former boyfriend, is appointed to lead the investigation. Watson’s loyalty is tested as the evidence stacks against his high school sweetheart.

And the killing isn’t over yet…

When the investigation points in a terrifying direction, Annette and Watson face a wrenching choice: protect those they love or sacrifice all to save innocents from racial extermination.   Operation: Genocide by Yvonne Walus. Coming out soon from Stairway Press.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Excerpt from Red Herrings:

Jean McLennan:

A new development in forensic science will provide real and contemporary fi citious detectives with another tool in the fight against crime. Until now the challenge has been to obtain clear footprints from a scene of the crime where they have been left on fabric, such as carpet or clothing. (...) By adapting existing visualisation techniques, Doctor Kevin Farrugia of Abertay University, Dundee has developed a method of obtaining detailed images of latent footwear left on fabrics. These images will give investigators information about the brand, style and size of the footwear, but more than that, because an individual’s gait varies, the wear on a pair of shoes is subject to random and individual characteristics. The print can identify the wearer. The technique will work equally well on old prints as new and will be used in the re-examination of unsolved crimes.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Operation Genocide

Operation Genocide, a thriller published by Stairway Press, will hit the shelves in 2013. Here is the cover.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Edge by Jeffery Deaver

Behind the well-known U.S. security organizations-- the FBI and CIA among them--lies a heavily guarded, anonymous government agency dedicated to intelligence surveillance and to a highly specialized brand of citizen protection. Shock waves of alarm ripple through the clandestine agency when Washington, D.C., police detective Ryan Kessler inexplicably becomes the target of Henry Loving, a seasoned, ruthless "lifter" hired to obtain information using whatever means necessary. While Loving is deft at torture, his expertise lies in getting an "edge" on his victim--leverage--usually by kidnapping or threatening family until the "primary" caves under pressure.

What I loved about this book:
  • The protagonist is passionate about board games.
  • He's intelligent and can think strategically.
  • He's tough yet emotionally vulnerable.
  • Great dialogue.
  • Ever-twisting plot.
  • Fast pace.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Announcing: Operation Genocide

It is my tremendous pleasure to announce that my thriller "Operation: Genocide" will be published by Stairway Press later this year.


Whether you’re a monster or a hero depends on who will write the history books. Back in 1982, Annette Pretorius discovers that her secret agent husband developed the HIV virus as a commission from the whites-only South African government. When her husband is found dead with a carving of a white unicorn in his clenched fist, it's a warning. To protect her family, she should bury her husband's national secrets with him. But can she stand back and let the innocent millions suffer?

Heading the investigation is Captain Trevor Watson, Annette's ex-boyfriend. Six years before, he was driving an armed vehicle whose crew was supposed to shoot bullets into a crowd of protesting black schoolchildren. Watson went against orders and turned the vehicle around. His decision cost him his religion, many friends and as many promotions. In the Pretorius murder case, Watson’s loyalty is being tested again when all the evidence stacks up against his high school sweetheart.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

This blurb is spot-on. From me I'd like to add: it's a fun, crazy book, with unpredictable twists and turns. Enjoy the journey!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

Budo is Max's imaginary friend. But though only Max can see him, he is real. He and the other imaginary friends watch over their children until the day comes that the child stops imagining them. And then they're gone. Budo has lasted a lot longer than most imaginary friends - four years - because Max needs him more. His parents argue about sending him to a special school. But Max is perfectly happy if everything is just kept the way it is, and nothing out of the ordinary happens. Unfortunately, something out of the ordinary is going to happen - and then he'll need Budo more than ever...

So much for the Goodreads blurb of Memoirs Of An Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks. While the premise in itself is original and intriguing, the blurb fails to capture the beauty, quirkiness and heart of the novel. I loved it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day And Chocolate

Because it's almost Valentine's Day, Here is a give-away from Eve Summers: a box of chocolates to a lucky reader (or two, or three). Simply buy an e-copy of "Not Complicated" and send the invoice number to bestseller at xtra dot co dot nz (email subject: Love Romance!).

For every 10 emails, 1 lucky winner will get chocolates. So your chance to win is 1 in 10 (or 1 in 5, or 1 in 2, depending how many entries I get). Plus the book you buy. Not bad for 99c, huh?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Top 5 Movies 2012

What are your top 5 movies for 2012? Without using Mr Google to prod my memory banks, I can thing of... one... come on, come on, I spent thousands of dollars in the cinemas last year... Life Of Pi can't be the only great movie I got for my money... I remember Wimpy Kid and the latest James Bond, neither of which deserves the Top Five slot... And now that I think of it, Life Of Pi was made in 2012, but it was released in New Zealand in 2013....

OK, I give up.

Right. It's all coming back to me now.

  1. Safety Not Guaranteed
  2. The Hunger Games
  3. Madagascar 3 (what is it with the children's movies?)
  4. The Pirates - Band Of Misfits (ditto)
  5. Ruby Sparks - I haven't actually seen it yet, because when it was on I had too many deadlines to go out, but I've no doubt that it would have been awesome
Not a great year. What am I missing?