Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Blue Skies by Fleur McDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 Stars

Book Blurb:
In the tradition of Rachael Treasure and from the bestselling author of Red Dust, Blue Skies tells the inspirational story of a young woman battling to save the family farm no matter what it takes. Armed with a degree in Agribusiness, Amanda Greenfield dreams of employing all the skills she's learned in college to help her father turn the family farm from a debt-ridden, run-down basket case into a thriving enterprise. Then tragedy strikes with the death of Amanda's mother in a car accident. Wracked by grief and guilt, and wearied by the long struggle to keep Kyleena a going concern, Amanda's father argues that they should sell up and get on with their lives away from the vagaries of drought and fluctuating stock and crop yields. Having inherited half the farm from her beloved mother, whom she also grieves for, Amanda determines to summon all her strength, grit, and know how to save Kyleena. Along the way she faces mixed fortunes in both love and life.

My review:
I recently read and reviewed Red Dust by this author and I'm seeing her speak so I wanted to read more of her books to get a feel for what she's like and so I can get the most out of her presentation. 

In the acknowledgements at the end of this book the author states she had a difficult time writing this one. I hate to say it but that shows. This is not a bad book, and it is worth the read, but it lacks something. It seems to me that Fleur could not find an emotional connection with her lead character Amanda, therefore Amanda lacks an emotional connection with the reader. 

This book does contain the necessary elements of a good story. There is suspense, danger, intrigue, but it just seems to lack emotion. Even in Amanda's relationships with both Adrian and Jonno we are told there is feeling, but we don't feel it. 

The other issue I had with the book is that at one point Amanda is put on anti-depressant medication and the book makes a point of having her friend Hanna tell her not to drink while on the meds. Yet, following that conversation no further mention of the medication is made and there are frequent references to Amanda drinking wine or beer. Not a big deal, just an inconsistency that bothered me.

The book also seems to lack the all around Aussie-ness that made Red Dust so enjoyable.

Again, it is a book worth reading, but it isn't one of Fleur's best. 

About the author:
Fleur McDonald is one of Australia’s leading female rural literature authors and inspiration strikes at the strangest of times.

Usually it comes while she’s working on the 8000acre farm she owns and runs with her husband in south-east of Western Australia. Farms are labour intensive and all-consuming so Fleur snatches precious writing moments whenever she can ... in the cab of her farm ute, between runs on the chaser bin, or during a lull in cattle work.

She had a two-book deal in Germany before Red Dust was even finished. In 2009 Red Dust was the highest selling novel for a debut author. In 2010 Red Dust was short listed for the Australian Book Industry Awards as Newcomer (Debut) Author of the year and the R*BY awards. Next came Blue Skies and now her latest novel, Purple Roads.

Her stories are set in rural Australia and feature strong female characters and solid, no nonsense, country men. Fleur’s characters are inspired by the tough, complex and genuine people she’s met during a lifetime living in remote Australia.

To learn more about Fleur McDonald check out her website

Want to contact Fleur?
Fleur can be contacted via email: author@fleurmcdonald.com
Facebook: /FleurMcDonaldAuthor
Twitter: @FleurMcDonald

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