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Friday, January 8, 2016

Review, Interview & Giveaway: Riding On Air and This Is Now by Maggie Gilbert

About Maggie Gilbert

Maggie Gilbert can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a writer, even when she was otherwise occupied. She’s been an executive editor, an equestrian journalist and worked with horses for the Modern Pentathlon event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

She has an Equine Science Degree and wrote for Hoofbeats Magazine. Currently she’s a communications officer by day and a writer of coming of age romance stories whenever she grabs the time. She also runs very slowly, plays the cello not well at all, and is an episodic (and thus pretty terrible) gardener. Much to the trepidation of her family, she has recently decided to learn to cook.

Maggie lives on a property in country NSW with her husband and her dog, and enjoys the irregular visits from her grown stepdaughters.

Book reviews

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Review by Suze
Melissa has Rheumatoid Arthritis which mainly affects her hands. She wants to ride her horse Jinx, because she thinks he's got amazing potential. Because of that she has to keep secrets from the people who love her. William often helps her out and when she falls he's by her side. When Melissa has the chance to go to an exclusive training camp it's a dream come true. Will she actually manage? And what will her decisions mean for the relationship she has with William?
Riding On Air is a beautiful story about a girl who struggles with chronic pain and swollen joints. I know what it's like to be in pain and I think Maggie Girlbert has described it perfectly. Melissa is strong, she's determined and she's fierce, but that also means suffering consequences on a regular basis. It's tough to cope with a chronic illness, especially at such a young age. It was great to see how Maggie Gilbert gave Melissa a lot of personality and didn't make being ill the sole thing that defines her main character.
Melissa has to deal with a lot of things that are very real. I was impressed by how Maggie Gilbert describes what it's like to be young and ill. Melissa struggles with realistic and perfectly explained demons. Besides the Rheumatoid Arthritis there's a lot more going on in Melissa's life. Her horse Jinx is special. He's stubborn, but he's also very talented. I loved reading more about riding, about horses and about the competitions. Riding On Air is a very sweet love story. I really enjoyed reading this book and think it's absolutely fantastic.

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    Review by Anniek

Jess is a hardworking young girl. Her goal is to make a better life for herself than her mother did. Living with her alcoholic mother and her two brothers who are not exactly working she doesn't have good role models. Jess learned early on to not disturb her mother during the day and to keep her mouth shut to the police when the law is looking for her brothers again. She dreams about being an architect but her dreams come with a cost.

Sebastien is a very known cello player. He has worked very hard to be where he is now. What money is concerned Sebastien hasn't had a rough life. He lives in a big house and money is no object for his family. When he meets Jess after one of his concerts he is blown away by her appearance. He wants to get to know her, the real her.

Jess is such a sweetheart. In the beginning you don't notice that, but when you keep on reading you find out that she is nothing more than an insecure young girl. All her life she's been told that she is not good enough, that there is nothing else in her future but an ordinary life with a criminal for a husband. She chooses to become more than that, to become what she has always dreamed of. I felt so sorry for her every time she thought she wasn't good enough or when she was put down by family, friends or teachers who only see the worst in her.

Sebastien never had any problems money wise, but even though he is looked at as the rich kid he is actually a hardworking musician. He worked hard for his accomplishments and his parents are rightfully proud. His story shows us that you never know what kind of struggles someone has. Money can't solve everything and won't promise you a life without hurt. I loved his character. He is caring, understanding and takes his time to get Jess to trust him instead of jumping on her immediately.

Maggie Gilbert has written a story that everyone will love. Good boy meets bad girl, at least so it seems... I found it easy to relate to the characters. We all have been insecure about something at some point in our lives. The subtle changes in Jess and Sebastien and the ending made my heart fill with love. This story proves that even though someone lives on the wrong side of the track and maybe made a few bad mistakes it doesn't define who a person is or will become.


 Questions by Anniek

 1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

 I’m Australian and have never lived anywhere else. My favorite animals are dogs and giraffes although otters are climbing my list, they are just so damn cute. I’ve been married for ten years and my husband is actually far more romantic than I am even though I’m the romance writer. I don’t exercise enough but when I do I like to run. I think walking is one of the most boring activities on the planet.

2. You still have a day job. What does your daily schedule look like?

 Monday to Friday I get up early, feed my dog, make myself a coffee to wake up with while I take her outside. Then I drink a smoothie that my husband makes for breakfast, shower etc. and head off to work. I work full time so I don’t get back home until the evening and there really isn’t a lot of time left in the day. I’m studying a Masters Degree at the moment, so I mostly do assignments when I get home. Right now writing gets fit in around everything else. I LOVE the weekends!

3. Where do your ideas come from?

 Just about everything I am exposed to each and every day gets shoved into some weird kind of ‘mixing machine’ in the back of my head, I think. That machine then ruminates over all that stuff and occasionally spits something interesting out, usually when I am doing something boring like hanging clothes on the line or washing my hair.

4. If you could make one daydream come alive which one would that be?

 To give up my day job and write full time.

5. What is your top 3 of favourite Australian books?

 Three faves are: Limbo by Amy Andrews, Desperate Deception by D.B. Tait and Man Drought by Rachael Johns.

6. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

 Join a professional organisation like Romance Writers of Australia. That is your best chance of getting the professional development you need to increase your odds of being published and of being able to make the most of it when it happens.

7. If your dog could talk what would she say about you?

My dog is a Fox Terrier cross Jack Russell Terrier named Hannah. She’s a very small and excitable dog. She would probably say that I give her great belly rubs but I should give her more treats (she gets fat easily so any extras are strictly rationed).

8. What are the things you like best about Sebastien and about Jess?

 I love that Sebastien sees Jess for who she is. The first time he meets her she has bright crimson hair and she’s wearing a clubbing outfit that includes a tight black corset top, tights and boots. But he sees right past that straight away, to the intense and passionate girl underneath. My favourite thing about Jess is that below all those top layers of insecurity and fear, she still manages to have hope for a better future.

Questions by Suze

1. Animals play an important part in your stories, why are they so important to you?
My family always had pet dogs and cats when I was growing up and for many years I had horses, too. My animals are part of my family, so that does mean they play a very important role in my life. I love that my dog is always happy to be with me, always excited when I come home, will curl up with me when I’m sick. Animals are a great source of comfort and companionship and they never judge. I try to reflect that in the animal/people relationships I include in my stories.

2. In Riding On Air you write about chronic pain. Where did you find inspiration for that?

 I’ve had chronic pain syndrome (in the past, thankfully) and it’s incredible how unrelenting pain can wear you down, so I drew on that for writing about Melissa’s disease.

3. You write about teenagers who don't have an easy life, why have you chosen this topic?

 It’s hard being a teenager when everything is so new and intense and you’re constantly being exposed to situations and emotions you’ve never experienced before. As a result teenagers are prone to such emotional extremes and I wanted to write about remaining hopeful and not giving up even when things are going wrong.

4. What do you like best about Australia?

 I haven’t lived anywhere else so I can’t really compare. But from what I understand from seeing the news and reading and watching movies etc, compared to other places in the world, we have a great deal of space and freedom here, and I do appreciate that.

5. What is your biggest dream?

 To see one of my books made into a movie. That would be awesome.

6. What are the things you like best about Melissa and about William?

 I love that Melissa fights so hard for what she wants. Also that she has retained that sweet nature even though she endures almost constant pain and struggles with things other people take for granted, like brushing her hair or buttoning a shirt. With William, he is a true young hero, loyal and honest even when being truthful risks personal loss. He treats Melissa like she’s an ordinary girl but precious to him and that’s the most wonderful gift he could give her.

7. Your main characters have dreams, but life doesn't always work out the way they want to. Which advice would you give teenagers who are in the same situation?

 Sometimes, no matter how hard you try and how much blood, sweat and tears you invest in something, it isn’t going to work out the way you want. You might come second, or even last in the race; you might fail an exam or not be accepted into the school you’ve set your heart on; you might have to give up doing something you love. When you are young this can seem like the end of the world and make you feel terrible, like nothing will ever go right again. But remember this: life doesn’t always work out the way you planned, but sometimes there really is something else waiting for you that’s wonderful, even though you can’t see it just yet.

8. What are your plans for the future?

 To take my own advice and keep writing, whenever I can. Even if that isn’t as much or as often as I’d like.
One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive kindle copies of This Is Now and Riding On Air.


  1. Great review. The book certainly sounds different and very moving. Loved the questions you asked x

  2. Great review. The book certainly sounds different and very moving. Loved the questions you asked x

    1. Thank you Tanya! I loved This is Now and I know Suze loved Riding on Air.

  3. Question to the author: Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?

    1. Hi Mai,

      The books are only out as digital editions, so that's what will be provided.



  4. Loved Suze's review. This story about pain, achievement, resilience and strength made me very eager to read the book! :D
    As for the other book, it seems darker... tough lives... :(

  5. Really interested in the first book from what the review says the main charater suffers chronic pain. I suffer from fibromyalgia which means Im always looking for someone to relate to and books that tackle different topic.

  6. interesting sounding characters

  7. Great reviews guys! I loved the interviews too. :) And Maggie, I just have to say, your dog sounds adorable!

    1. Hi Kaela,

      Yes she is pretty cute. You can see some pics of her on my Instagram @magsgilbert if you're interested :-)


    2. She's adorable! And you now have a new follower on Instagram. :)

  8. Both of these books sound fantastic. Thanks so much for the giveaway.

  9. I love reading and I love how the author answers naturally! Excited to read even if it's digital!