Noisy Nights, by Fleur McDonald & Annie White

The animals on Farmer Hayden’s farm talked a lot at night.
The crickets chirped.
The dogs barked.
The cow moo-ed
and the sheep maa-ed.

With all the animals on the farm making so much noise every night, Farmer Hayden is struggling to get any sleep. He calls out to the animals to be quiet – but it’s no good, because they are making so much noise they can’t hear him. Finally, on the verge of giving up, Farmer Hayden goes outside to sit on his verandah. As he looks out across the farm., he sees his sheep jumping a fence. he starts to count them. Soon, Farmer Hayden and all the animals are fast asleep.

Noisy Nights is a humorous picture book title featuring lots of farm favourites, and noises which youngsters will enjoy echoing. The solution, too, will bring smiles, with its play on the old idea of counting sheep to get to sleep.

The illustrations, using water colour with pencil outlines are also filled with gentle humour.

Lots of fun.

Noisy Nights, by Fleur McDonald & Annie White
New Frontier, 2016
ISBN 9781925059663

Emerald Springs, by Fleur McDonald

She hoped that the vehicle would pass her and race off into the darkness. Just some idiot anxious to get home. She saw a flash of orange and realised it was an indicator. The vehicle – it was a ute. she thought, a big one, highset, a dark colour, with tinted windows – was pulling out to overtake. She started to breathe a little easier, her shoulders relaxing…
…until the other ute veered straight in front of her, cutting her off and hitting the brakes.

When she asked to take on the role of treasurer for the local rodeo, Amelia Bennett is flattered. She is a qualified accountant, and knows she can do the job well, but she is surprised people trust her, having been regarded as flighty in her teenage years. Throwing herself into the role, she is determined to di it well. But on rodeo night, as she transfers the takings to the bank, she finds herself in more trouble than she could have imagined.

Meanwhile,Detective Dave Burrows has been sent to Torrica to investigate a string of crimes in the area – thefts of fuel and equipment have escalated into bigger robberies. He doesn’t mind being there. It’s a chance to look up his old flame, Amelia’s Aunt Kim. But once he’s there, he’s thrown into investigating Amelia’s hold-up and more.

Emerald Springs is an absorbing rural story – part romance and part mystery, with plenty of both, and lots of action to keep the pages turning. Set in rural South Australia and featuring a strong female lead in Amelia, the story also touches on many issues facing rural communities – debt, drought, family stresses and more.

A cracking read.
Emerald Springs, by Fleur McDonald
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781743315323

Available from good bookstores and online.

Crimson Dawn, by Fleur McDonald

Sean cleared his throat and stood up. ‘Laura, we know how much you love farming and Nambina. It’s that sort of love I have never understood or had, and it’s why today we are passing the reins of it over to you, darling girl….I believe you are destined for greatness within the ag industry…we can’t wait to watch and see what happens and where it ends up.’

When Laura Murphy is handed the reins of the family property, she hopes that she can justify the trust placed in her. She sets to work building her breeding program and establishing a school to teach young women farming and property management skills. She is independent, strong and determined to succeed.

Not everything is perfect though. Laura is haunted by a personal tragedy which cost her a friendship and broke up her relationship with Josh, from the neighbouring property. Her latest batch of students have started off strongly, but seem to splintering as a group as the year goes by. And a solicitor has notified her that someone else has a claim over Nambina. It’s going to take all her strength to keep it all together.

Crimson Dawn is a rural novel of courage, family and survival. With elements of mystery and romance, and a slit narrative which gradually reveals the details of the family split which lead to the property claim, there is a lot happening in the story, but McDonald weaves the varying threads together strongly.

An absorbing, satisfying story of outback life.


Crimson Dawn, by Fleur McDOnald
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9781743315316

Available from good bookstores or online.

Purple Roads, by Fleur McDonald

Matt’s hands trembled so violently the tea slopped over the rim. The scald hardly registerd but he let the man take the cup from him and hold it to his mouth.
‘How am I going to tell her?’ he kept saying, over and over. All he could think of was his future – and that of his family – lying in the charred ashes on the road. It took a little while before he realised the guttural moans he could hear came from himself.

Anna and Matt had a lot going for them – childhood sweethearts, they’d worked hard to buy their own farm, and weren’t afraid to keep working to make it profitable. But events beyond their control start to take their toll: he seasons are unkind, then Matt’s truck catches fire and then, when the saving rain finally comes, their precious fertiliser is stolen, making it impossible to continue.

With the farm gone, Anna is determined to rebuild their life, even though it is nothing like they had dreamed of. They can start again, she is sure, even if just for the sake of their daughter. But Matt isn’t convinced. He is caught up in searching for answers. He is going to solve the mystery of the stolen fertiliser and put the wrong to right. As each works to follow their hearts, Matt and Anna’s relationship starts to crumble. Perhaps it will be too hard to put it back together again.

Purple Roads is a rural fiction tale which is an interesting blend of romance, mystery and contemporary fiction. There’s a lot going on, with Anna being revealed as a strong, resilient type who can overcome adversity and work for change, and Matt’s struggle with depression and financial adversity being explored. Both characters are well developed as are other minor ones.

An entertaining read which will appeal to those for a taste for realistic rural fiction.

Purple Roads

Purple Roads, by Fleur McDonald
Allen & Uniwn, 2012
ISBN 9781742374819

Available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Blue Skies, by Fleur McDonald

Amanda sat next to her father in the church, her mother’s coffin resting on a gurney in front of them, her uncle speaking at the pulpit. Although cheerful flowers matched her mother’s vibrant personality, Amanda had to close her eyes against the pain she felt looking at them atop the coffin. She could hear her mother’s laughter, see her flashing eyes and feel her arms around her.

Amanda has long dreamt of returning home to put her university studies to use and help on the family farm. But when her beloved mother dies suddenly, things start to change. Her father, unable to cope, wants to sell the farm and, in financial crisis, it seems there may not be much choice. But Amanda is determined to keep Kyleena and make it a successful business once more.

As she struggles, without her father’s help, things start to look up, until a series of unexpected obstacles look set to pull her even further down.

Blue Skies is a tale of life on the land, with a strong female lead character, some elements of romance and mystery and plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and turning pages.

Set in rural Western Australia.

Blue Skies

Blue Skies, by Fleur McDonald
Allen & Unwin, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond . Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.