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Showing posts from March, 2013

Review: Bared to You by Slyvia Day

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A review on the back cover of Bared to You notes that this is the book that Fifty Shades of Grey could have been and in many respects I have to agree. The parallels between the two novels are many, though Bared to You is (slightly) more sophisticated than its more famous counterpart. Originally self-published in early 2012, Bared to You pretty much hightailed it to the waiting arms of a traditional publisher and the best seller charts thanks to the success of its more famous counterpart. Bared to You tells the story of two wealthy and emotionally damaged people who meet. Eva Trammel is a wealthy university graduate who moves to New York to escape her interfering mother and the memories of her childhood. Gideon Cross is a billionaire who has some terrible childhood secrets of his own. The pair meet outside Gideon's building, an 'instant' sexual attraction is felt and an unhealthy, obsessive relationship with each other begins. At least this time around, the auth

Noughties Nostalgia: The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic

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Wow. Who would have thought this book is now old enough to count as nostalgia? Since its release in 2000, The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic  (published as Confessions of a Shopaholic in the United States and Canada,) has gone on to spawn an entire series of novels and a somewhat lackluster film that has little in common with the book. (Well, apart from the lead character's name and spending habits.) The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic was the first novel to be penned by UK author Madeleine Wickham under her pseudonym Sophie Kinsella and told the story of Becky Bloomwood a university graduate who, despite working for a financial magazine, was unable to control her spending habits. Much of the comedy revolved around Becky's compulsion for shopping and her inability to pay off her debts. Each chapter of the novel began with a letter from Becky to her bank, explaining why she was unable to pay back the money owed. As the novel wore on, Becky's attempts at altern

Feature Follow Friday + Giveaway

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Time once again for Feature and Follow Friday, that awesome weekly meme hosted by those stars of the book blogosphere Parajunkee and Alison Can Read  . This week's question is: Q: Tell us about the most emotional scene you’ve ever read in a book – and how did you react? Probably when Beth dies toward the end of Good Wives (published as the second volume of Little Women in the US and Canada). But if I can have a second choice, it would probably be the moment in Anne of Green Gables where Anne discovers that Marilla and Matthew had never intended to adopt her and that they had wanted a boy instead. It sounds silly, but I felt so sorry for her, after she had her hopes up thinking that she was going to have a home and a family of her own, discovering that she was unwanted after all. Of course, Marilla eventually changes her mind ... Anyway, in happier news, this week I've got a signed copy of my novella Best Forgotten to give away to one lucky reader. (It has

Review: A Ring Through Time by Felicity Pulman

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Okay, I have a confession to make. I choose this book from Netgalley based purely on where the book was set. What I got was an intriguing ghost story, tale of Norfolk Island history and a moral on how sometimes people can twist history to suit themselves. A Ring Through Time  tells the story of Alice 'Allie' Bennett a sixteen-year-old only child who has moved to Norfolk Island with her parents. For her Dad it is a chance to find out more about his family history, as one of their direct ancestors was a governor of Norfolk Island. For Alice, it is a chance to start afresh after a traumatic experience. Alice finds fitting in with the local kids difficult at first and even more so when she begins to see ghosts. At least she has made one friend, Noah O'Brien. Then Alice makes the mistake of mentioning her family history at school. Her ancestor, it turns out, were considered to be the most brutal ruler on the island and responsible for the death of one of Noah's direc

The Peanuts Gang and Unrequited Love

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As all Peanuts fans will know, unrequited love is one many recurring themes of the comic. The most famous recurring storyline has Charlie Brown all hung up on the Little Red Haired Girl, a girl who we never see and whose name remains unknown. Other characters have their own unrequited loves. Lucy has Schroeder, Sally Brown has Linus and just to make the comic complete, Peppermint Patty has a crush on Charlie Brown. Each of these stories are usually handled individually and very much in keeping with the characters. The crabby and headstrong Lucy for example, continues to pursue Schroeder despite the fact that he has told her repeatedly that he is not interested. A typical Schroeder/Lucy interaction works like this: Sally and Linus are slightly younger than some of the other characters and this is reflected in their interactions. Often Sally will pursue a reluctant Linus, not getting the hint until he finally blows up and yells at her. And a typical Sally Brown response? De

Review: The Day We Had Hitler Home by Rodney Hall

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I first encountered this one more than ten years ago, when it formed part of the book list for an Australian Literature class I was taking at university. The concept is as brilliant as it is memorable. What if, at the conclusion of World War One, a young Adolf Hitler (who was temporarily blind due to injuries,) stepped on the wrong boat and eventually found himself in New South Wales? What follows is not only the story of how a solidier (who may or may not have been Hitler, Hall never quite lets on,) is quietly returned to Germany by the Australian family who finds him, but also a coming of age tale and a study on the many complex elements that would eventually give rise to World War Two. The prose is a little highbrow and there are a number of subtleties that can be easily missed, but it is still an interesting musing on an important time in history--Germany in the period between the two world wars. 

1980s Nostalgia: Marcie

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After writing a piece on Peppermint Patty last week it occurred to me that no comic character worthy of his or the position in the funnies pages goes without some kind of companion. Garfield has Odie, Dagwood has Blondie, hell even April from For Better or For Worse had the annoying and spoiled Becky. In the comic world, a companion is often an extreme opposite to the star in some way. For example, Odie is as loyal and dumb as Garfield is smart and malevolent. In the Peanuts world, we have Lucy Van Pelt to offset Charlie Brown and (to a lesser extent,) the pairing of sweet Linus Van Pelt and somewhat self-serving Sally Brown.  And Peppermint Patty has Marcie. Marcie (whose surname is never revealed in the comics but was cited as Johnson in TV special,) is intelligent and rigid in the way that she processes information. She is the only character to wear glasses (her eyes can never be seen,) and has little interest in or understanding of sports. She and Peppermint Patty init

Harry Potter vs Twilight

I was surfing Yahoo! Answers today (good old Y!A remains one of my favourite time wasters, though I have far less time for it now than in days gone by,) when I came across a question that basically resurrected the whole Twilight vs Harry Potter debate. Now that some time and distance has passed since I have read both books, I was able to provide a fair answer. I liked it so much, I thought I would duplicate it here:  [W]hen Twilight first became popular, a lot of misguided people in the media dubbed it as, "the next Harry Potter." This was due to the fact that the books had a large teenage fan base. As I said, this was misguided, as 1, Harry Potter was popular with people of all ages, whereas Twilight appealed mostly to early teens and female twenty-somethings and 2, The content and quality of writing were quite different.  Harry Potter fans were, naturally, annoyed to see what they felt was "their" book being constantly likened to something that was quite dif

What's Wrong With V.C. Andrews?

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Now, lets get one thing straight. I am a big fan of V.C. Andrews. Huge. In fact, I can still remember the day my teenage self found of a copy of My Sweet Audrina  in my high school library and not only read, but devoured the book in the space of a few days, much to the ire of my English teacher Ms Richards. Hell, this was even the famous book that I got caught reading under the desk in the old CBHS "focus room". (Other high schools had Withdrawal Rooms. We had a Focus Room. Same as we had "Pastoral Care" first thing in the morning, the two campuses were known as the East and the West with the train line serving as a pseudo Berlin wall and when we addressed our principal as Mr Cock we were not, in fact, being rude or swearing. But I digress ...) Anyway, over the next three and a bit years I would devour all of the titles written by the original author (who was always known as Virginia Andrews in Australia and her books were published by HarperCollins UK,) and

Review: Cora's Heart by Rachael Herron

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In recent times, I have read and reviewed a few Australian rural romance novels, but Cora's Heart is the first book in the genre that I have read that is set in America. Cora's Heart is the fourth in an interconnected series of novels (in other words, it can be read as part of a series or as a stand alone novel,) set in Cypress Hollow and features characters who both enjoy knitting and are somehow connected with a lady named Eliza. For me, this was my first visit to Cypress Hollow, so it was read as a stand alone novel. Cora's Heart was an interesting lightweight romance. It's one of those novels, where the reader knows that everything is going to work out in the end, but what keeps the pages turning is the how. The heroine is Cora, a young widow who often worries about the what-ifs in life. Cora was abandoned by her parents at a young age, grew up in foster homes and had a husband who was somewhat unreliable, though she is reluctant to admit that last part t

1980s Nostalgia: Peppermint Patty

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Today I thought I would pay tribute to another of my favourite characters from Schulz's brilliant Peanuts comic strip, Peppermint Patty. As crazy as it sounds, Peppermint Patty was actually my hero for a little while, when I was about eight or nine years old. (In fact, once at school my teacher, that darned Mrs Pettingill asked us to each draw our self-portrait. I remember all the other boys and girls in the class drawing these beautiful portraits of themselves. I drew a picture of myself looking somewhat like Peppermint Patty. Loyal followers of this blog will not be surprised to learn that this led to a showdown between me and Mrs Pettingill who, as usual, failed to understand my artistic sensibilities. Then again, what did I expect from a primary school teacher who point blank refused to admit salt is sourced from seawater?)  Looking back, I think what I loved about Peppermint Patty was that she was not a stereotyped little girl. Peppermint Patty was a tomboy, she made m

Review: Waking Beauty by Elyse Friedman

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I first encountered Waking Beauty in 2009 when I recovering from swine flu. Stuck at home with a runny nose and cough that was seemingly never going to end, I picked up this strange little book that had been sitting on my to-read pile for some months. What I got was an odd tale of an physically unattractive young woman with a good personality who one day wakes and discovers that she now has the body of a supermodel. And so she spends the course of the novel trying to get revenge on all of the people who treated her like dirt (including her adoptive mother,) because of her looks, until eventually she tires of the way the general public will lavish attention on her because she is gorgeous. And the moral to the story? Looks do matter.  The heroine, Allison Penny, is no saint and is difficult to like or feel sorry for. I suspect a low self-esteem is the real cause of most of her problems early on in the novel and it certainly drives her revenge in the chapters that follow. She

Review: Forbidden Sister by VC Andrews

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The release of a new VC Andrews novel is an exciting time. For diehard fans like me, there is always that tiny spark of hope that finally, this will be the novel that lives up to the legacy created by the original author, despite the number of disappointing releases that have flooded our shelves for the past few years. Capturing Angels, Into the Darkness, Cloudburst, Daughter of Darkness, the two novel Heavenstone series ...  Fortunately, Forbidden Sister  is not another disappointment. Set in New York, Forbidden Sister tells the story of Emmie, a fifteen-year-old from a strict family. Emmie has an older sister, Roxy, who she is forbidden to speak about since her father cast her out of their home. When Emmie learns that Roxy is living nearby and working as a high class call girl she cannot resist learning more about her older sister. While by no means perfect, I found Forbidden Sister to be one of the most enjoyable V.C. Andrews novels I have read since Into the Garden  w

Best Forgotten by Kathryn White

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Exciting news. This month, I am relaunching my novella Best Forgotten with an awesome new cover. The reason for the relaunch and new cover is pretty simple--when I was searching for photographs to include on the front cover of my upcoming novel Behind the Scenes  I stumbled across the photograph of this gorgeous blonde standing beside a mirror and instantly thought of Best Forgotten. I knew the photograph was perfect for the novel, so I thought, why not? Anyway, there's a new blurb to go with the updated cover, which reads: An intriguing tale of murder, amnesia and the lies we tell ourselves.  A young woman wakes in hospital, unable to recall the past eighteen months. Once an awkward, introverted teenager battling Anorexia Nervosa, Kellie-Sue discovers that she has blossomed into a beautiful woman with a loving husband. But what secrets are lurking beneath the surface? Why is Kellie-Sue haunted with memories of the bruised and bloody of her abusive ex-boyfriend

Review: Gabriel's Rapture by Sylvain Reynard

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I'm not a fan of the whole "obsessive love" genre that was sparked by Twilight a few years ago and soon moved into the realm of erotica with the likes of Fifty Shades of Grey, so I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up Gabriel's Inferno by Sylvain Reynard a month or so ago. While the book still contained many of the same elements that bothered me about both aforementioned novels--a naive young woman meets an emotionally damaged and brutish man who proves his love by showering her with gifts and controlling her every move-- Gabriel's Inferno at least had an interesting and well researched back story, good writing and characters that I actually cared about. And with this in mind, I happy picked up and paid for a copy of the sequel. And what did I get? Well .... It isn't that Gabriel's Inferno is by any stretch a bad book--I found it decently written--but the story itself a little soap opera-like and unbelievable. Inferno  basically tells the s

An Update ...

Wow, just wow. I cannot believe how much is going on in my little corner of the web at the moment. I was thrilled to be chosen as a feature blog for Feature and Follow Friday and have been completely overwhelmed by the number of new followers (and hopefully friends) that I have made. I haven't had a chance to return the favour and visit everyones FF yet, but I hope to do so in the next few days. In other news, congratulations to Ruty, the winner of the Being Abigail giveaway, who has already been contacted via email. Thanks to everyone who entered. I received a proof copy of Behind the Scenes on Saturday. It looks good so far, so hopefully the official launch can go ahead in April. Keep your eyes peeled for a possible giveaway ... In review related news, I received a copy of Forbidden Sister by V.C. Andrews in the mail today, which I am looking forward to reviewing. Word is, this one is better than some of the recent V.C. Andrews novels, so fingers crossed I'll be abl

Feature and Follow Friday Feature blogger!

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Good grief! It's 8am, I've just jumped on the bus, checked my emails and discovered that I'm one of this week's Feature and Follow Friday feature bloggers! So, welcome everyone, and thanks heaps to Parajunkee and Alison Can Read ! This week's question is:  Confess your blogger sins! Is there anything as a newbie blogger that you've done, that as you've gained more experience you were like -- oops? For me, probably being a bit too hard and critical in my reviews than what the author deserved. I used to think that I was failing as a reviewer if I didn't point out at least one thing that was wrong with the book. As I've grown more experienced, I've realised that sometimes that said more about my skills as a reviewer/critic than it did about the authors work.