About The Author:
Carla Caruso was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day, Cleo and Shop Til You Drop. These days, in between writing romantic comedy novels (sometimes with a touch of cosy mystery), she plays mum to twin sons Alessio and Sebastian. Her books include the ‘Astonvale’ rom-com mystery series (kicking off with A Pretty Mess), Catch of the Day, Second Chance, and Cityglitter. She’s also an editor of the Romance Writers of Australia journal, Hearts Talk, and has a foodie blog. Plus, she’s obsessed with running, horoscopes, fashion, up-cycling vintage finds, trashy TV, and cats.
In my early years…
Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi
About an Italian-Australian schoolgirl, caught between two cultures—was pretty pivotal for me. I’d never read about a character before whose life was so like my own. And I don’t think I’ve read any books like it since, and that was back in 1992!
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
This YA novel tackled the typical issues girls face going through puberty, like buying your first bra, getting your period, and having boy crushes. Little wonder my gal pals and I lapped it up! I also remember my mum stealing Blume’s Tiger Eyes off me to see if it was ‘appropriate reading’. Plus, thinking that Forever was super-exciting/risqué because the teen heroine loses her virginity!
Nowhere Girl by Gilly Lockwood
Remember Dolly Fiction? I was a huge fan. And this story about a Perth lass, who winds up working at her uncle’s truck-stop café in the middle of the Nullabor Plain, remains a fave. I recently reread it and it was just as good and still deserving of a place on my bookshelf! One day I hope to dabble in YA and write a tale just as memorable…
Best Friends by Francine Pascal (in the Sweet Valley Twins series)
I blame my older sister, Natalie, for buying this book and kicking off my addiction with all things Sweet Valley! Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley University, the TV series—I loved it all! Who knew I’d one day have twins of my own (albeit boys)? Other series I loved in my youth were The Baby-Sitters Club and Point Thrillers. I turn 40 in January, so I think I’m showing my age!
The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
And The Wishing-Chair, and the Famous Five and the Circus Series… Whatever Blyton wrote basically, I would read it. Sometimes in one sitting, curled up in an armchair!
In my twenties and beyond…
Pants on Fire by Maggie Alderson
This book encapsulated everything I coveted at the time—set in magazine land in Sydney, and written by a former mag editor. It probably (definitely) even encouraged my move from Adelaide to Sydney for three years! (Air Kisses by Zoe Foster Blake also rates a mention. To me, chick-lit isn’t a bad term!)
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
I can also blame my older sis for kickstarting another addiction of mine—with Ms Kinsella! I’m particularly fond of this tale of hers, about a workaholic attorney who makes a mistake and goes into hiding as a housekeeper in the middle of nowhere. Expect a lot of laughs and fun!
Liar Bird by Lisa Walker
This yarn, about a glitzy PR whiz who winds up in a small town, introduced me to the quirkiness of NSW’s Walker, and I haven’t looked back! (Another similarly witty Aussie author, who I also adore, is J.D. Barrett!)
Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty
I was motivated to read this book about triplet sisters when I was pregnant with twin boys! And so began my Moriarty fandom. (I’ve also recently discovered fellow Aussie Sally Hepworth, who writes about motherhood and dark secrets, just as successfully!)
Who’s Afraid of Mr. Wolfe? by Hazel Osmond
I remember reading this rom-com—about a Brit couple who meet at an ad agency—while holidaying in Europe and not wanting to put it down to sightsee! It definitely got me through any airport queues and flight delays and made me fall in love with books with a strong romance plotline.