Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mr. Right and Other Mongrels by Monique McDonell (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with CBLS Promotions, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Monique McDonell, author of Mr. Right and Other Mongrels!

Author Guest Post

Sydney As A Character In Mr. Right and Other Mongrels

Mr. Right and Other Mongrels is set on Sydney’s Northern beaches, specifically at world famous Manly Beach. It’s a place where surf lifesavers, tourists and hard-core surfers mingle on the sand year round.

If you come to Sydney there is a wonderful ferry – aptly named the Manly Ferry – that travels from across Sydney Harbour back and forth to Manly all day. The ferry ride starts at Circular Quay which is nestled between the Sydney opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge and crosses heads down the Harbour, north through The Heads and over to Manly. It’s a beautiful journey and in rough seas doubles as a small roller-coaster ride.

Once you reach Manly you walk down a Promenade from the Harbour to the Manly Beach where you can learn to surf, have a swim between to flags, walk around to Shelley Beach or just sit by the water and have fish and chips.

I set the book in Manly because I live quite close by and visit often. In fact, I used to catch the Manly Ferry in and out to work for a couple of years.  Part of what inspired me was that it’s an iconic location here in Australia that I thought international readers might know a little about but like to get to know better.

Also as a tourist we sometimes forget that those iconic destinations have whole communities of people who live and thrive there day in day out, just like Allegra and her friends in Mr. Right and Other Mongrels.

I love reading books set in places I’ve never been to because it feels like I get to visit without leaving home. That’s one of the wonderful things about books, as far as I’m concerned, their ability to transport you to somewhere new, whether it’s real or imagined. It’s a way to explore without ever really leaving home.

When I do travel I always try to read a book set where I’m going. When I did an internship in Singapore I read A Town Like Alice for example. I also love reading about books set in places I know or have visited. I lived near Salem, Massachusetts for a while so I love reading books set in that area.

Many of my Sydney readers said they enjoyed reading about places they knew so well in Mr. Right and Other Mongrels and some overseas folks have said how much they now want to visit.

I hope you enjoy reading about my home town in this book. I felt like it was really another character in the book and like most of my characters I want you to like her (or him!)

Manly Beach

About The Author:

I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women's fiction including chick lit and romance. I live on Sydney's Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter, and despite my dog phobia, with a dog called Skip.

I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards I was busy working in public relations. I didn't write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)

When I began to write again I noticed a trend - writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since. I began a year-long writing course at the NSW Writers Centre and (thank goodness) its members morphed into a writing group known as The Writer's Dozen. We published a highly successful anthology, Better than Chocolate, in 2008.

In 2008 I was also selected for the QWC/Hachette Livre Manuscript Development Course for my novel Mr. Right and Other Mongrels. In 2009 I received a Highly Commended in the Romance Writers of Australia's Valerie Parv Awards for my novel Hearts Afire.

These are the first two books I will be e-publishing in 2012 along with a third novel, A Fair Exchange. I'm not really like the characters in my books at all although I do share something in common with each of them - Allegra (Mr Right and Other Mongrels) has a dog phobia like me, Cassie (Hearts Afire) falls in love on a tropical island and I met my husband that way and Amelia (A Fair Exchange) was an exchange student who is now all grown up.

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

* Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway *

Win 1 of 3 eBook Copies of Mr. Right and Other Mongrels

Follow Monique McDonell's Mr. Right and Other Mongrels Virtual Book Tour and enter the tour-wide contest at each participating stop for a chance to win one of three eBook copies of Mr. Right and Other Mongrels. More entries = more chances to win!

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Book Review

Mr. Right and Other Mongrels by Monique McDonell
Published By: Redfish Publishing
Release Date: May 26, 2012
Format: eBook - 280 pages / Kindle - 338 KB
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Chick Lit / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Mr. Right and Other Mongrels

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by CBLS Promotions.

Book Description: 

Blissfully happy in her own universe Allegra (Ally) Johnson is the sweet best friend everyone wants to have. Quietly and independently wealthy she runs a charming second-hand bookshop in beachside Manly. Heck, sometimes she even goes downstairs from her flat to run the shop in her Chinese silk pyjamas. It sounds like bliss. But is it enough?

When dog-phobic Allegra is rescued from an exuberant canine by the chivalrous Teddy Green, Australia’s hottest TV celebrity and garden make-over guru, her life begins to change. Dramatically!

Unaware of Teddy’s fame Allegra finds herself falling for him, despite her best attempts to resist his charm. Supported by her eccentric family and her fabulous gay friend Justin, Allegra embarks on an on-again off-again romance with Teddy, complicated by his jealous ex-girlfriend, fashionista Louisa and her own narcissistic hippy mother Moonbeam.

Will Ally be able to overcome her insecurities and find happiness with this possible Mr Right or will Teddy’s celebrity lifestyle prove to be too much? Mr. Right and Other Mongrels is a light-hearted story about how one chance encounter can change your life.

Book Excerpt:

First of all there is something you need to know about me. Dogs and I do not get along.

It’s not that I don’t like them, exactly. In theory, I love them.

In reality I have a full-blown hysterical dog phobia.

Ok now. Wait. Don’t just decide you dislike me based on that.

I know how dog people are. They simply don’t like people who don’t like dogs, but honestly it just isn’t that simple. That is like saying you hate all Mormons when that’s not possible and really how many do you actually know?

The thing is when I was a child there were a few dog-related incidents that led to the dogs charging at me with teeth bared. Once when I was about eight, I was forced to throw myself in front of a two-year-old and offer my leg as a snack to a Doberman, so that the dog wouldn’t rip into the smaller child’s face. Now objectively I know that was just bad luck and I came across the wrong dog. But honestly, it wasn’t just the once…anyway, more about that later.

It’s because of the dog phobia that I first met Edward Green, also known as Teddy Green, television celebrity and garden guru, but of course I didn’t know that at the time.

I was walking along a nice tree-lined street in Sydney’s lush eastern suburbs minding my own business. I’d been shopping with my friends Lisa and Caroline in Paddington and I’d parked back in Woollahra to save myself a cab-fare home. Ordinarily I would still have been sitting in the pub with the girls but I had a family event to get to. We don’t have functions or dinners in our family, everything is an event.

OK, so I start walking along the street and out bounds an over-excited Old-English Sheepdog who decides to lunge at me...don’t laugh because I know they are considered really cute but they are also very big, quite stupid and not very good at listening to an hysterical woman who is screaming.

“Please go away! Good dog. Go home! Go home.”

So in the absence of anyone else on the street, and anyone who has walked the streets of Woollahra on a Saturday afternoon knows how rare that is, I found myself climbing into the back of a Ute to get away from the dog. After 10 minutes of barking and jumping and panting the dog lay down behind the vehicle on the warm asphalt and fell asleep, thus blocking my exit.

Meanwhile I was left standing in the flat bed of the UTE wondering how I could make my escape. To add to my stress every so often the dog would twitch as if he was in the middle of a rather exciting dream or scratch himself behind the ear. As I was trying to work out what to do to make my escape, help arrived in the form of a cute, brown-haired guy who just happened to be Mr. Teddy Green, national icon and UTE owner.

He sauntered out of the front gate of a terrace house, listening to his iPod, and came from the front of the car and got in. Why he didn’t see me I have no idea. He was about to drive off when I began banging furiously on the rear window of the cabin. Eventually the vibrations and noise got his attention and he climbed out. 

Uhmmmmm Hello… You’re in my UTE.” Very articulate.

“Yes, this dog chased me in here and I have a bit of a dog phobia and…” Then I burst into tears. Now I must tell you that at this time I didn’t know who he was…I don’t own a TV…so I didn’t know that I should have been feeling even more embarrassed and pathetic than I was.

Just then the dog woke up and leapt at Mr. Green.

“This is the dog you are scared of?” he looked quite incredulous. He ruffled its fur and tickled it behind the ears.

“I’m scared of all dogs…but right now, yes THIS is the dog.” I was also searching in my bag for a tissue.


“If you just move it away then I can get out of your truck and go home. It got out of that gate,” I pointed and indicated.

So he walked the dog back and shut the gate, the same gate Teddy had just come through and I climbed down. I patted my eyes and was thankful that at least, if nothing else that day had gone right, I had worn waterproof mascara. 

He swaggered back and smiled.

“Thanks so much. Sorry if I held you up.” I said as I started to walk off.

“Does this happen to you often?” he asked 

“The dog part or the UTE part?”

“Both I guess.”

“The dog part is common. The UTE part is an embarrassing new low. Thanks for rescuing me.”

And that’s how it all began.

My Book Review:

An unconventional free spirit with a serious dog phobia ... an over-excited Old English Sheepdog ... a dashing rescuer who is a national media icon and successful landscape designer ... and a whirlwind romance in a span of one month ... has Ally Johnson found her Mr Right?

Allegra "Ally" Johnson is a twenty-six year old free spirit who owns a second hand bookstore in Manly, one of Sydney, Australia's popular beachside communities. Born into an unconventional hippie family, Ally is content to live her solitary life in an apartment above her bookstore.

Edward "Teddy" Green is a national TV icon with a popular home and garden show and author of landscape design books.

While walking down the street, Ally encounters an over-excited Old English Sheepdog, and because she has a serious dog phobia, she goes into a full blown panic attack and jumps into the bed of a truck to get away from the dog. The owner of the truck and Ally's rescuer is none other than the national celebrity, Teddy Green. Ally doesn't know who Teddy is, she had gotten rid of her television years ago when her life began to revolve around her favorite shows. Teddy likes that Ally is unpretentious and not all into his celebrity status, he finds it refreshing.

A mutual attraction takes place between Ally and Teddy, but Louisa Lane, Teddy's jealous ex-girlfriend is determined to nix this budding romance and get back together with him. What happens next is a whirlwind romance in a span of a month, and Ally questions why Teddy chose her and how she could fit into his world, while he sets out to show her that he is her Mr. Right.

Mr. Right and Other Mongrels is an entertaining, flirty and lighthearted romance story. Written in the first person narrative, Ally Johnson takes the reader on a fun ride as she tells her story about her unconventional life, dog phobia and finding Mr. Right. Rich in detail and vivid descriptions, the story takes place in the picturesque coastline of Sydney, Australia. I was sold on the wonderful description of Ally's bookstore, I love vintage secondhand bookstores, the eclectic mix of books and furnishings provides a warm and inviting environment. The author has created a quirky cast of characters that the reader can relate to, and they are just plain fun to get to know. I found the author's writing style to be interesting as she utilizes the local dialect of Australians into the dialogue. As an American not used to the Australian dialect, I found myself thoroughly entertained by the difference in the dialogue. The author weaves a fun tale about the quirky and sometimes tricky dynamics of unconventional families, individuality, insecurities, relationships and dog phobias. I really enjoyed the humorous tone of the story, it made the story an easy and enjoyable read.


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