Try one of Escape’s Rising Stars of Romance – for Free!

Apple iBooks Australia is promoting the Rising Stars of Romance for the next two weeks, and many Escape Authors are featured. The best part? You can get the first book in one of their series for free!

Most of these titles are also free on Amazon AU. So check them out!

House on Burra Burra Lane – Jennie Jones


Just ten days after her fresh start in the isolated Snowy Mountains, Samantha Walker trips over a three hundred pound pig and lands in the arms of Dr. Ethan Granger — and the firing line for gossip. It was hardly a ‘date’ but sparks of the sensual kind are difficult to smother in a community of only 87 people. Now there’s a bet running on how long she’ll stay and what she’ll get up to while she’s in town.

Ethan has his own issues — Sammy’s presence in his childhood home brings with it painful recollections of family scandals and a bad boy youth. When the gossip around them heightens, his life is suddenly a deck of cards spread on the table for all to see. Then Sammy’s past catches up with her… and it looks like all bets are off.

(Amazon AU)

In Safe Hands – Lee Christine


She thinks she needs him, but she doesn’t know the secrets he keeps…

Threatened with the publication of naked photographs taken in her law student days, defence attorney Allegra Greenwood enlists the help of former SAS Commander Luke Neilson, unaware of his involvement in her brother’s death in Afghanistan.

In a race to stop the photographs appearing on the Internet, Luke battles a hidden enemy, his growing feelings for Allegra, and his conscience, which demands he protect a fallen comrade’s sister. As the stakes increase and more sinister motives unfold, Luke not only has to fight to save her career, he has to fight to save her life.

(Amazon AU)

Treasured Secrets – Kendall Talbot


From Romantic Book of the Year winner Kendall Talbot comes an adrenaline-fuelled new series with sexy characters, exotic locations, and action-packed adventure.

The last place Rosalina expected the clue to a 700-year-old mystery to lead is back into the arms of Archer, the one man who broke her heart. But neither can solve the puzzle without the other, so together they set off on a new adventure, weaving from Tuscany’s underbelly to Archer’s luxurious yacht in the Greek Islands, trying to ignore the sparks that still fly unhindered between them.

Archer desperately wants to salvage the relationship he shattered years before, but fighting for Rosalina’s love soon takes a back seat to fighting for their lives. They aren’t the only one on the trail for the treasure, and their competition isn’t bothered by ethics and morals to achieve their goals. With evil close on their trail, and Archer wrestling with the remnants of a childhood tragedy, Rosalina begins to wonder if perhaps there are some secrets that were never meant to be revealed.

(Amazon AU)

A Life Worth Living – Amanda Canham


For lovers of Marion Lennox and Fiona Lowe comes a sweet, touching novel about secret desires and second chances, set in the intriguing world of sleep medicine.

Dr Cameron Lewis has been running from his past for a long time, so when a career opportunity opens up in his hometown of Brisbane, he takes it as a sign to move home and pick up the pieces of his life. But his vow to never have a child remains steadfast — it’s the one thing he can’t compromise on.

Nurse Stacey Carter has always craved a family of her own, and, following a bitter divorce and the death of her mother, she finally decides to make her dreams come true. She doesn’t need a man to help, but she can’t help thinking that the new doctor in the Sleep Medicine ward might be the ideal alternative…

(Amazon AU)

Bound By Her Ring – Nicole Flockton


Luciano Morelli has perfected a plan to get revenge on his runaway wife; confronting her at the opening gala for her father’s hotel. What he didn’t plan on was the flaring of emotions the moment he sees her again.

Jasmine Anderson has no memories of her husband. Her only link to him is the wedding rings she wears. Luciano storms back into her life announcing he is her husband, demanding she join him on a business trip or see her father’s livelihood crumble.

Passion reignites as they rediscover what first drew them together. But more than just memories are lost. Can their bond be rebuilt or will secrets infect their already shattered trust?

(Amazon AU)

The Chieftain’s Curse – Frances Housden

8883 (1)

Nominated for the 2014 RITA Award for Best Historical Romance
Euan McArthur is a chieftain in need of an heir.

While still a young a warrior, Euan incites the fury of a witch. She retaliates with a curse that no wife will ever bear him an heir. As he buries his third wife and yet another bonnie stillborn son, Euan can no longer cast her words aside.

Morag Farquhar is a woman in need of sanctuary. With a young relative in tow, Morag flees the only home she has ever known to escape her brother, Baron of Wolfsdale, and find sanctuary in the MacArthur stronghold. Pronounced barren by a midwife, Morag is of little value to her family, but a Godsend to Euan, a lover he can’t kill by getting with child.

Years ago, chance drew them together, and tangled their lives in ways they could never have imagined. This time their destiny lies in their own hands, but it will take courage and strong hearts to see it through to the end.

(Amazon AU)

Insecure – Ainslie Paton


The worst thing a man can do is not be with the woman he loves.

She could have him sacked quicker than licking her lips. He could ruin her reputation with an email.

Jacinta was the CEO in waiting. Mace was the geek from IT. She had an office suite on the top floor. He worked in cubicle hell.

She had power, influence, her life mapped out. He had big dreams, and an appetite for risk.

They had one hot night written all over them, except the city conspired to turn that night into a weekend of unexpected passion and deep connection.

Will love be enough when Jacinta’s star falls and Mace’s dream takes flight, or will ambition, expectation and insecurity pull them apart?

(Amazon AU)

By The Sword – Alison Stuart


From award-winning author Alison Stuart comes a stirring historical trilogy about soldiers, spies, and the strong women that love them. 

England 1650. In the aftermath of the execution of the King, England totters once more on the brink of civil war. The country will be divided and lives lost as Charles II makes a last bid to regain his throne.

Kate Ashley finds her loyalty to the Parliamentary cause tested when she inherits responsibility for the estate of the Royalist Thornton family. To protect the people she cares about, she will need all her wits to restore its fortunes and fend off the ever-present threat of greedy neighbours.

Jonathan Thornton, exiled and hunted for his loyalty to the King’s cause now returns to England to garner support for the cause of the young King. Haunted by the demons of his past, Jonathan risks death at every turn and brings danger to those who love him. Finding Kate in his family home, he sees in her the hope for his future, and a chance at a life he doesn’t deserve.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester, Jonathan must face his nemesis, and in turn, learn the secret that will change his life forever. But love is fragile in the face of history, and their lives are manipulated by events out of their control. What hope can one soldier and one woman hold in times like these?

(Amazon AU)

The Secret Diary of Lady Catherine Bexley – Viveka Portman


In the vein of Portia Da Costa and Charlotte Featherstone, Regency England gets just a bit raunchy in this novella about a gently-raised lady who wants to feel like a woman…

“I have never seen fit in my life to divulge my secrets in a diary, yet now, after today’s proceedings, I do…”

Lady Catherine Bexley is new to marriage and the marriage bed, but surely there must be more to it than this? Her husband is proper and perfunctory — treating her with careful respect but leaving her aching for more.

When she witnesses a gentleman disciplining a maid at a house party, the ache explodes into ravenous desire. She finds herself no longer willing to wait for her husband’s stiff and passionless attentions — and soon develops a naughty plan to finally get what she wants.

(Amazon AU)

Words Once Spoken – Carly Drake


YA meets high fantasy in this lush series debut about a girl who never quite fit in — and the reason why…

Evelyn might not love the confines of her village life, but she takes her small freedoms where she can get them. But everything changes when her parents decide it’s time for her to wed. Suddenly she loses her tunic and breeches, her bow, her horse, and gains rigid gowns, restrictive manners, and carriage rides.

The best way to escape is through her dreams, but as they become more and more real, Evelyn begins to worry that she is losing her grasp on reality. It is only when she makes two new friends that the truth is revealed: she is destined for far, far more than even she could imagine.

(Amazon AU)

King Hall – Scarlett Dawn


A fresh, meaty, sink-your-teeth-in-and-hold-on-tight new adult fantasy series kicks off with King Hall…

King Hall — where the Mysticals go to learn their craft, get their degrees, and transition into adulthood. And where four new Rulers will rise and meet their destinies.

Lily Ruckler is adept at one thing: survival. Born a Mystical hybrid, her mere existence is forbidden, but her nightmare is only about to start. Fluke, happenstance, and a deep personal loss finds Lily deeply entrenched with those who would destroy her simply for existing — The Mystical Kings. Being named future Queen of the Shifters shoves Lily into the spotlight, making her one of the most visible Mysticals in the world. But with risk comes a certain solace — her burgeoning friendships with the other three Rulers: a wicked Vampire, a wild-child Mage, and a playboy Elemental. Backed by their faith and trust, Lily begins to relax into her new life.

Then chaos erupts as the fragile peace between Commoners and Mysticals is broken, and suddenly Lily realises the greatest threat was never from within, and her fear takes on a new name: the Revolution.

(Amazon AU)

Legend Beyond the Stars – SE Gilchrist


Seeking redemption from a mission gone terribly wrong, Captain Alana Knight volunteers to aid a dangerous operation to transport colonists between Earth and alien traders. But on board the spaceship, she learns of a galactic war raging for power. A power that can be transformed into a terrible weapon.

When the colonists are betrayed and sold, Alana’s mission is re-defined. Nothing will stop her from keeping those in her care safe and finding a passage home. But her new captor is nothing like she expects…

Commander Tarak El Rajan is human, male and equally determined to retain his payload. With his race on the brink of extinction he is under strict orders to transport all females to the planet Isla for research purposes.

In a world of uncertainty, where the wrong decision could mean the death of an entire race, the last thing either of these two soldiers expects or needs is to fall in love.

(Amazon AU)

Out of Rhythm – Shona Husk


They might be one of the hottest up-and-coming bands in Australia, but the members of Selling the Sun have a lot to learn about life, love, sex, and each other.

Coming off a successful Australian tour and prestigious industry award nominations, Gemma Field’s life should be perfect. Instead her parents want her to get a real job, the second album isn’t coming together, and her best friend, Kirsten wants nothing to do with her.

Falling for her best friend was never going to make life easy. After an almost accidental drunken kiss almost six months ago, they aren’t even talking. Gemma can’t even talk about it with anyone – not her family, not her bandmates, not even the one person she used to share everything with. Instead she lives in a space of indecision and pain, and it’s affecting all aspects of her life, including the band.

Kirsten Vincent missed Gemma like crazy, but did she miss her as a friend or as something more? She’s confused and Gemma is hurt, and the consequences of a bad decision will affect more than their personal lives. Will another kiss, a sober kiss, a kiss with intent, do more damage, or could it be the start of something more?

(Amazon AU)

The January Wish – Juliet Madison


From Escape’s queen of ro-magic comedy comes a sweet, emotional contemporary romance about the pleasures of making a wish and seeing it come true.

When Dr Sylvia Greene makes an impromptu wish at the Tarrin’s Bay Wishing Festival, it’s the most out of character action she can think of. Hers is not a life of wishes. Hers is a controlled life of order, plans and preparation…of science and research and diagnosis and treatment. But her past has been weighing on her mind, and decisions made long ago have far-reaching consequences.

A week later, the daughter she secretly gave up for adoption at sixteen arrives in Sylvia’s small coastal town with secrets that can’t be shared. Between feelings of guilt, gossip, and a growing attraction to an emotionally unavailable colleague, Sylvia’s well-ordered life is soon thrown into chaos. She is no longer alone, and for the first time she feels as if her world is open to possibilities.

They say be careful what you wish for, but, for Sylvia, the unexpected consequences may be just what the doctor ordered.

(Amazon AU)

Children of the Mist – Jenny Brigalow


An original paranormal YA about an unconventional girl, an unconventional boy, their extraordinary transformations, and the secrets of the Scottish Highlands.

When skater girl Morven Smith turns sixteen, she develops boobs, acute appendicitis…and a pair of pointy teeth. While she is stunned by her metamorphosis into vampire, her best mate, the enigmatic Zest, is not. For the young werewolf, Morven’s transformation is an answer to his lonely prayers.

But they are unable to celebrate their mutual paranormalcy for long — there are too many dangers, too much suspicion, and too many questions. It’s only in Scotland that Morven can learn the truth about her past. But she discovers more than she bargained for when she meets her birth family — an ancient feud between vampires and werewolves. They may both be Children of the Mist, but only one species can survive.

(Amazon AU)

Beckoning Blood – Daniel de Lorne


A gripping,  blood-drenched saga about twin brothers, the men they love, and the enduring truth that true love never dies  — no matter how many times you kill it.

Thierry d’Arjou has but one escape from the daily misery of his work at a medieval abattoir — Etienne de Balthas. But keeping their love a secret triggers a bloody chain of events that condemns Thierry to a monstrous immortality. Thierry quickly learns that to survive his timeless exile, he must hide his sensitive heart from the man who both eases and ensures his loneliness…his twin brother.

Shaped by the fists of a brutal father, Olivier d’Arjou cares for only two things: his own pleasure and his twin. But their sadistic path through centuries is littered with old rivals and new foes, and Olivier must fight for what is rightfully his – Thierry, made immortal just for him.

(Amazon AU)

Synopses, Decoded

by Kate Cuthbert

At this year’s RWAus Conference, Ainslie Paton and I did a workshop on blurb and synopsis writing. We thought we’d share some of the slides and wisdom here, for those who weren’t able to make the session. dark art

The workshop will be split over two blogs. Without further ado: the synopsis!

A good synopsis will include the following:

  • A comprehensive overview of your plot, characters, and development
  • No point-by-point, just the highlights
  • Follows the narrative of your story
  • Not a time for coyness
  • Keep it lean, clean, and powerful – a synopsis is also an example of your writing
  • Provides a snapshot to editors of your story:
    • Genre conventions – does it meet the parameters of the genre?
    • Originality – what is new and fresh?
    • Any major plot conflicts – what is driving the story?

In every synopsis, there are must-haves to add punch to your synopsis:

  • Must HavesCore conflict
  • Characters – who we’ll love, who we’ll hate
  • The stakes (physical, but also emotional)
  • The resolution

There are also things to avoid:


  • All the characters!
  • All the plot!
  • All the details! – keep it to the highlights, and keep it lean
  • Writing blurb instead of synopsis – “all of a sudden!”, “but if she’d only known what would happen next!”, etc. This goes back to being coy – you need to share the whole story.

What makes your story a crowd-pleaser?


  • Original concepts or premise
  • What makes your main character interesting
  • Topical or intriguing subject matter or themes – anything cultural or political that makes your story timely and relevant

A basic example of a synopsis:


(SETTING)2015, a romance writers convention – a stunning and brilliant young editor (PROTAGONIST) gathers a group of writers together in a room, ostensibly to discuss blurbs, but really to recruit them into a super-secret spy agency that aims to bring great books to every woman in Australia. (PROTAGONIST GOAL)

But before she is able to complete the recruitment process, the narcissistic and underhanded Self-Doubt (ANTAGONIST) enters the room, and provides a compelling counter-argument: that the writing isn’t good enough, that the genre is clichéd, that great sex is not only unrealistic, but damaging to female readers. Self-Doubt leaves the room, but her words echo in the minds of all the writers, undermining the editor’s recruitment and slowing the writing process. (CONFLICT)

depth of conflict

 The Editor knows that the only way she can rebuild the writers’ confidence and get her plan for good-book domination back on track is by hunting down the evil Self-Doubt and stopping her forever. (QUEST)

Along the way, she is helped by her companions: writers groups, motivation, self-belief, and good friends. Together they face a number of challenges and go on all sorts of adventures*(SECONDARY CHARACTERS, *CHRONILOGICAL SEQUENCE OF EVENTS PROVIDED IN DETAIL)

Self-Doubt is stronger than any of them expect, and each character will face their own battle with her. The Editor will struggle hardest as all, as Self-Doubt attacks her from all angles, turning her army of writers into cowards, weakening their defences by scattering them, denying them group strength and support. The Editor will face her own loss of self-belief and crisis of confidence when she comes face to face with her own failures. (STRENGTH & DEPTH OF CONFLICT)

 Finally, the Editor is able to use the magic power of the internet to band the writers together, even when they are physically apart. With each writer hooked into their own support network and able to connect with each other whenever they need shared strength, they are finally able to group together and defeat Self-Doubt forever. They move forward together, ready to paper the Australian landscape with great books. (RESOLUTION, PRIZE)

Go forth and conquer the synopsis!

Romantic Book of the Year – Risky Business by Amy Andrews!

Photo courtesy of Ally Blake

Photo courtesy of Ally Blake

Photo courtesy of Amy Andrews

Photo courtesy of Amy Andrews

Photo courtesy of Amy Andrews

Photo courtesy of Amy Andrews

Click through to the Romantic Book of 2015

21489From USA Today best-selling author Amy Andrews comes a new single-title romance about putting pleasure before business, and the risks we all need to take when we find someone worth risking everything for.

Samantha Evans’s life is going to hell. Not only has she rage-quit her beloved, high-powered job, but she is suddenly afflicted by hormones, free time, and an unavoidable, unignorable, undeniably gorgeous irritant in the form of Nick Hawke, her extreme sports star neighbour, who has come home to take over the reins of his grandmother’s second-hand bookshop. Sam needs something to keep her from begging for her old job back until she’s good and sure her boss understands how wrong he was, and taking a low-risk, low-stress job helping Nick at the bookstore might be just the thing.

After all, it’s not like Nick is the right guy to help her with her hormones. He’ll just be fun to look at while she searches for the one.

Nick has six months to get over an injury before Everest and a big, fat contract beckon. That means no sports, no danger and, above all else, no risks. It means playing it safe. And Nick Hawke doesn’t do safe. So he’s going to need something to stave off the boredom while selling books he doesn’t read to people who wouldn’t know a carabineer from a crochet hook. What could be safer than hiring a cranky, unemployed accountant to help run the bookstore? Sam is efficient and methodical and messing up her neat, post-it note world could be a fun way to pass the time….

Feed Your Reader: New Releases Available Today!



Sometimes the only way to forgiveness is through love…from the ground-breaking pen of Ainslie Paton comes a homeless guy, a government chick, and a cave on the edge of paradise.


The Lawmen of the Republic: fierce, honourable, soldiers, men. But what happens when all that they’ve been told turns out to be lies?

Congratulations – KORU Nominations

We are so delighted to announce that Frances Housden is nominated for a 2015 KORU award – the award of excellence presented by the Romance Writers of New Zealand.

We also congratulate the other nominees, and you can find the whole list here.

The KORU awards are handed out on 29 August, at a gala dinner held as part of the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference.

22037From the best-selling, RITA-nominated author Frances Housden comes the gripping, sensual, suspenseful follow-up to The Chieftain’s Curse

Gavyn Farquhar’s marriage is forged with a double-edged blade. Along with the Comlyn clan’s lands, a reward from the King, he is blessed with an unwilling bride, Kathryn Comlyn, and an ancient fort with few defences that desperately needs to be fortified before it can act as a sufficient buffer between Scotland and the Norsemen on its northern borders.

Gavyn needs wealth to meet his king’s demands, and he knows of only one way to get it — with his sword. Leaving his prickly bride behind in the hands of trusted advisors, he makes his way to the battlegrounds of France and the money that can be made there.

Two years married and Kathryn is still a virgin. A resentful virgin, certain that, like her father before her, she is perfectly capable of leading the Comlyn clan. In her usurper husband’s absence, she meets the clan’s needs, advising and ruling as well as any man.

But she is an intelligent woman, and she knows the only respect and power she will ever hold will be through her husband. And to wield it, she needs to make him love her. An easy task to set, but impossible to complete, when said husband has been gone for two years, and there is no word of his return. But Kathryn is undeterred. After all, a faint heart never won a Chieftain.

Bek and Char Review: Terminator – All of Them

bek and char



Bek: One of the greatest romantic movies of all time. Directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn, this is a love story co-starring a killer robot (Schwarzenegger). I had a huge crush on the hero of this movie, Kyle Reese (Biehn) when I was a teenager. I mean, how can you not fall for a hero who has the line: “I came across time for you.” I mean *sniff* there’s all the feels right there.


Bek: An original concept with the pace is fast and furious, the story compelling. And even better, because the movie is done mostly through Sarah Connor’s point of view, you go on the journey with her and feel involved in the story.

Char: Yes. I also loved Kyle Reese. He’s the ultimate tragic hero – selfless, tough, ruthlessly on mission, but undeniably and vulnerably human – and it’s easy to believe he’s from a starving and desperate future time. For a number of years, I’d turn it off before Sarah finds he’s died at the end, because it was too sad. I loved all the subtle depth in the romance that interweaves with the time paradox – the photo of Sarah that he carries for a time was given to him by John (his son, which Kyle doesn’t know) and it’s the same photo that gets taken of Sarah right at the end when she’s thinking of Kyle. I’ve always also been kinda bummed that it’s Sarah’s actions that ultimately kill him. *blubbers quietly in a corner*


Char: *sucks emotions back in* BUT! beyond that, the story is tight, the killer robot villain is an excellent example of “if your enemy isn’t stronger than you, there’s not much of a story”. Kyle even says, at the moment Sarah believes him and asks if he can stop it, “I don’t know. With these weapons? I don’t know.” Still gives me chills. Also, full points for the gritty 80s feel, complete with synth music, shaggy mullet cuts, tie dye, and Bill Paxton playing a punk at the start.

Bek’s Grade: 10 killer robots out of 10
Char’s Grade: 10 uzi 9mms out of 10


Bek: The blockbuster sequel that made Schwarzenegger’s career. Directed by James Cameron again, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong. This is the first movie I saw in the cinemas and it make a huge impact on me and my desire to tell stories.

Char: Yeah, I remember my friend’s dad taking us to see it at the drive-in, and it was the first movie I’d seen there. I would have been 11, maybe? Ahem. Anyway …

Bek: The Terminator is sent back to save young John Connor (that little snot, Furlong) from Liquid Assassin-Terminator. Meanwhile, Sarah Connor has been locked up for being crazy fit. I mean, just crazy. The Terminator and Little Snot rescue her, Liquid Man tries to kill them all.

the one, the only

Bek: What I thought was so great about this movie was how Sarah Connor was such a huge role: she’s strong, flawed, tormented and dynamite on-screen. She’s the type of complex female character I feel is missing in many modern action films, though recently we’ve seen a small surge in interesting women characters who can hold their own.

Char: Totally. Her transformation from the soft, vulnerable Sarah of T1 into the warrior mother of T2 (which Kyle describes to her in T1) is really believable. And the depths of her conversion often lead her to do somewhat desperate and stupid things, which actually undermine her objectives, and therein is the complexity. Plus, I spent years wanting to be able to do chin-ups like that.

Bek: There’s also heaps of repeat imagery from the first film, but with a massive budget for impact. Unfortunately, lacked Kyle Reese factor.

Char: Yes, it’s a different kind of movie. It’s a survival film, not a love story. Kyle actually does appear in the director’s cut (which actually is kinda nice, because it marks the transition from Sarah being a moth bashing herself on the inside of the prison walls to focusing her determination into clever, cunning, escaping Sarah – that sequence is one of the best pressure convergences I’ve seen in film) but otherwise, it’s about how Sarah deals with a huge responsibility, that she never wanted, all on her own.

That aside, it’s totally iconic (even with the corny lines), pushed visual effects of the time to new places, and again had a villain so much stronger than the heroes. Also launched Edward Furlong’s descent into the former-child-star-wasteland, which is a shame because of all the castings of John Connor, he’s the one I believe the most.

Bek’s Grade: 10 Sarah Connor chin-ups out of 10

Char’s Grade: 10 screechy Axl Rose theme songs out of 10


Bek: Third instalment. This time directed by Jonathan Mostow (Breakdown, U-571). This movie is set 10 years from where the last Terminator left off. Staring Claire Danes and some weedy kid, Arnold Schwarzenegger and some chick playing a new sparkly Terminator. In this movie, a new lady Terminator shows up to kill a grown up John Connor and … zzzz…..


Char: This movie can eff-off, quite frankly. They made so many mistakes. Claire Danes and the some-guy are terrible castings, they didn’t have Sarah Connor (she’s this franchise’s version of Ellen Ripley, so WTF? – her “death” wasn’t even canon), and they decided to make the villain a woman just because, it seems, we hadn’t done that yet.

Bek: The only thing I remember clearly about this movie, is when the Liquid Terminator Lady is pulled over by cops and she makes her boobs big to get away without paying a ticket. Lame. Worse than lame, this movie bored me to tears. And if there’s one thing guaranteed to upset cinema ushers, it’s weeping patrons.

exactly how I felt

Char: That’s what I remember, too, and that her “amazing weapon” (arm-rocket-thingie) gets disabled early. Double lame. She’s basically a hybrid of the original terminator and the liquid metal terminator – in being both, she is lesser than either. Awful villain. Boring movie. I was disappointed they didn’t all die at the end.

Bek’s Grade: 1.3 Bored Beks out of 10

Char’s Grade: 1 Judgement Day out of 10 deserved


Bek: Set in the year 2018, this is the fourth instalment and I don’t care who directed it. Follows the adult John Connor (played by Christian Bale) in the future as mankind’s salvation and … oh, sorry, I dozed off again there ….

Okay. This was a horrible movie. Two men and robots. No cool female characters for me to relate to, no brains, no plot. This movie was frustrating and it bored my pants off. And if there’s one more thing guaranteed to upset cinema ushers, it’s pantless patrons.

Char: Agreed. My anticipation of seeing a movie set in the post-Judgement Day future (which was always so enticing when shown in snippets in T1) made it even worse. Wasn’t Sam Worthington in it, too? How did that happen? Connor is also completely uninspiring – go find the guy who played Connor in the opening sequence of T2 and cast that guy. Bale is too soft! They’re all too soft!

I’m actually going to be heretical and say I didn’t mind the kid cast as a young Kyle Reese – I thought they’d managed a good likeness. But the script was horrible, like they wrote one draft and decided to film it. I succumbed to angry muttering in this film, which would have been angry yelling in my lounge room.

The old-and-new

Bek’s Grade: 1.1 Pantless Beks out of 10

Char’s Grade: 1 compound super-profanity out of 10


Bek: Fifth instalment of the franchise. Directed by Alan Taylor, and starring Emilia Clarke (From Game of Thrones – Khaleesi!), Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney and You-know-who (Schwarzenegger, for those who don’t). This movie is about Kyle Reese going back in time to save Sarah Connor. But everything is different now (I’m still not sure why) and instead of Sarah being a waitress in need of rescuing, she’s a gun-toting warrior woman.

I watched the first half through squinty eyes. Really, I say? That’s John Connor now? That’s Sarah Connor? Really?

not-kyle-reese and mother of dragons

Bek: Anyway, the movie has a super complicated plot with pithy techie explanations that I suspect would give the more science-savvy Char a rage stroke. Fortunately, about half way, I decided to just go with it and by the time credits rolled, I didn’t mind how everything was put together.

Char: I must admit I’m still anticipating my rage-stroke. Due to a combination of baby sleeping cycles and the unfriendly session times at my local, I’m yet to see this one. But that won’t prevent me passing limited judgement on a few things. Firstly, WTF is Jai Courtney doing as Kyle Reese? Did the humans discover some secret stash of protein powder and human growth hormone in the future? You’re supposed to be a desperate, starving freedom fighter, dude!

Really that guy

Bek: I also think this movie might have done better if they’d kept one very big spoiler out of the trailers, which I won’t reveal for those who are still going to see. But I mean, talk about giving a big twist away. Either way, it’s a reasonably good addition to the Terminator franchise.

Char: And I don’t mind the likeness of the Sarah Connor, but she’s awfully pixie looking. But those things aside, the trailer did look kind of interesting, and I’ve heard from die-hard fans of the series that they didn’t hate it. That sounds like at least a draw.

Bek’s Grade: 6 Mother of Dragons out of 10
Char’s Grade: [Witholding Judgement Day].

Kate’s Travels Continue: Estonia

The Estonian flag has flown there for decades - even during the Soviet occupation

The Estonian flag has flown there for decades – even during the Soviet occupation

Tallinn's Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Tallinn’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Estonia only has 1.5 million people - and it enforces internet as a human right.

Estonia only has 1.5 million people – and it enforces internet as a human right.

It's also very pretty

It’s also very pretty

Tallinn's Old Town Square with Russian Orthodox Church

Tallinn’s Old Town Square with Russian Orthodox Church

We were treated to some traditional music...

We were treated to some traditional music…

...and some traditional dance!

…and some traditional dance!

Aprons = married. No aprons = single, and ready to mingle!

Aprons = married. No aprons = single, and ready to mingle!

Tallinn used to be a walled city. This is part of the ancient wall, helpfully called 'the wall that leads to the monastery'

Tallinn used to be a walled city. This is part of the ancient wall, helpfully called ‘the wall that leads to the monastery’


Kate’s Travels Continue: The Final Days

Stockholm – we only had a few hours in Stockholm, so we stuck to the palace and old town.

Stockholm was a bit grey the day we were there

Stockholm was a bit grey the day we were there

The Palace in Stockholm, unlike all the others we visited, is still in use by the royal family and the Swedish parliament

Inside the chapel, where all Swedish royalty is baptised

The Palace in Stockholm, unlike all the others we visited, is still in use by the royal family and the Swedish parliament

The Palace in Stockholm, unlike all the others we visited, is still in use by the royal family and the Swedish parliament

The Throne Room

The Throne Room 

This is where parliament meets (it used to be a dining room)

This is where parliament meets (it used to be a dining room)

Functional doesn't mean it can't still be pretty - paintings and sculpture in the ceilings

Functional doesn’t mean it can’t still be pretty – paintings and sculpture in the ceilings

The Hall of Light - lots of windows, lots of mirrors, lots of chandeliers...lots of light! Even on the cloudy day we were there.

The Hall of Light – lots of windows, lots of mirrors, lots of chandeliers…lots of light! Even on the cloudy day we were there.

The Swedish Changing of the Guard

The Swedish Changing of the Guard

Helpful cherubs...

Helpful cherubs…

That concludes Kate’s travel journal – I hope you’ve all found some inspiration, or just enjoyed the photo spread :)

Kate’s Travels Continue: St Petersburg Sights

The Peterhof Palace Gardens

talk about a backyard built for entertaining

talk about a backyard built for entertaining

Man v fish

Man v fish

One of the cascades

One of the cascades

Gold is also useful in outdoor decor

Gold is also useful in outdoor decor

The Grand Cascade

The Grand Cascade

The Peterhof Palace

The Peterhof Palace


Grand Cascade and Peterhof Palace

Around St Petersburg

A monument to the Russian soldiers who died during the Siege of Leningrad

A monument to the Russian soldiers who died during the Siege of Leningrad. This siege is still very present in the memories and lives of the St Petersburg people, for all that it happened 70 years ago. The siege lasted from 1941-1943 (St Petersburg refers to it as the 900 nights), where, under Hitler’s orders, the Nazi army laid siege to the city. Hitler had no intention of taking the city – if he did, he became responsible for the people. Instead, he planned on starving the entire populace to death, then taking the city once all of its pesky inhabitants had gone. More than 1 million people died in that time, and the atrocities are still very present for St Petersburg.

A tribute to the sailors - a monument displaying ship prows

A tribute to the sailors – a monument displaying ship prows

One of the canals off the Neva river

One of the canals off the Neva river

Kate’s Travels Continue – The Catherines’ Palaces

The Hermitage – Catherine’s winter palace

Actually, 2 palaces, 1 theatre, and 1 private art museum, but now all four together make the Hermitage museum

Actually, 2 palaces, 1 theatre, and 1 private art museum, but now all four together make the Hermitage museum

Inside Catherine's Winter Palace

Inside Catherine’s Winter Palace

The Grand Staircase

The Grand Staircase

It's very opulent (just look at the this ceiling!)

It’s very opulent (just look at the this ceiling!)

Throne room

Throne room

More gold

More gold

Some of the grand rooms are used to host art exhibits now

Some of the grand rooms are used to host art exhibits now

Malachite also features prominently in the decor

Malachite also features prominently in the decor

Catherine’s Palace – outside of St Petersburg

The Gates - the Catherine Palace was taken by the Nazis during the siege of Leningrad, and was very, very badly damaged. It's been mostly restored since then.

The Gates – the Catherine Palace was taken by the Nazis during the siege of Leningrad, and was very, very badly damaged. It’s been mostly restored since then.

Many assume the palace is named for Catherine the Great, but it's actually for Catherine the 1st, Catherine the Great's grandmother-in-law. Her mother-in-law, Elizabeth razed the original palace and rebuilt it to her own taste.

Many assume the palace is named for Catherine the Great, but it’s actually for Catherine the 1st, Catherine the Great’s grandmother-in-law. Her mother-in-law, Elizabeth razed the original palace and rebuilt it to her own taste. Catherine the Great thought the decor was old-fashioned.

Opulent. Very opulent.

Opulent. Very opulent.

It was hard to capture everything, but the ceilings were especially tricky.

It was hard to capture everything, but the ceilings were especially tricky.

Gold - it's always in fashion

Gold – it’s always in fashion

the dining room

the dining room

this room is decorated in the 'roman' style

this room is decorated in the ‘roman’ style

Pink and green - very Roman

Pink and green – very Roman

One of Elizabeth's gowns

One of Elizabeth’s gowns

Servants never lived in the palace. They had their own quarters. Interestingly, the Royal Family often used these palaces for entertaining only - when they were on their own, they'd stay in much more modest surrounds.

Servants never lived in the palace. They had their own quarters. Interestingly, the Royal Family often used these palaces for entertaining only – when they were on their own, they’d stay in much more modest surrounds.