Guest Book Review by Margaret Lynette Sharp: Indulge: Sensual Tales of Steampunk and Fantasy by Jenny Schwartz

Margaret Lynette Sharp has been kind enough to share her review of Indulge: Sensual Tales of Steampunk and Fantasy by Jenny Schwartz. You might remember Margaret from her guest author interview earlier this month and I have also recently reviewed Margaret’s novel Of Love and Secrets. Thanks for sharing your review with us Margaret!

Title: Indulge: Sensual Tales of Steampunk and Fantasy Indulge: Sensual Tales of Steampunk and Fantasy Cover

Author: Jenny Schwartz

Published: October 29th 2014 by Jenny Schwartz

AISN: B00P1T54H4

Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 300

Description from Goodreads:

Angels and djinn, steampunk pilots and lady inventors, shifter courtship and romantic suspense with impossible heroes. This is a collection to delight, tantalise and entertain; a wonderful mix of novellas and short stories with guaranteed happy ever afters. But that’s the only guarantee. In this collection, anything is possible.

Indulge includes:

The Lion and the Mouse
The Were Kiss
Phoenix Fire
Befogged
Fantasy Man
Dark Oasis

Margaret’s Rating: 5/5 Stars

Margaret’s Thoughts:

This engaging collection of stories of yesteryear demonstrates Jenny’s considerable talent as an author. Rich in historical detail, Jenny Schwartz weaves tales of intrigue and love, often with quite surprising twists. The characters in each story flesh out into real people as the tales unfold, and sometimes we as readers may be surprised to find our feelings about people change as we get to know them better. Five stars

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Are We Really Fat Shaming Colleen McCullough The Day After She Died? Really guys??

Colleen McCullough
Colleen McCullough
Source: http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2011/11/22/3373334.htm

World renowned Australian author Colleen McCullough sadly passed away yesterday, 29/01/15, at the age of 77.

Here is part of what The Australian newspaper decided to write in her obituary:

COLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth. In one interview, she said: “I’ve never been into clothes or figure and the interesting thing is I never had any trouble attracting men.”

You can read the full article here if you don’t believe me. It seems pretty crazy right?

Well, I’m sorry to say, this isn’t a joke. This is a real obituary in a real newspaper. I suppose this is just the kind of thing that happens when the majority of a country’s media is owned by two people. They can write whatever they like and we have to read it. I may be forced to read it but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to speak out when I disagree with what has been written.

Colleen McCullough is Australia’s best selling author. She is most well known for her brilliant novel, The Thorn Birds. She wrote 25 novels, 5 of which had screen adaptations. She was a brilliant story teller and a dedicated researcher. She was also a neurophysiologist! From what I know about Collen McCullough, she also seemed like she was a nice person.

I’m writing this blog post to speak out and say that I’m not ok with The Australian feeling the need to tell us all that Colleen was fat in her obituary. This is fat shaming of the highest order and completely unnecessary. I never once cared about what she looked like when reading her novels. I never care what the author of the book I’m reading looks like. How on earth could that ever be relevant to the enjoyment of a book?

Vale Colleen and thank you for all of the wonderful stories that you were kind enough to share with everyone.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Book and Movie Review

Gone Girl Book Cover
Gone Girl Book Cover

Title: Gone Girl        

Author: Gillian Flynn

ISBN: 0553418351

Published: 1st published January 1st 2012,   Broadway Books

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Pages: 560

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Description from Goodreads:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

My Thoughts on the Book:

I think most bookworms have probably read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn by now, so I’ll keep this review a fairly short one. I read this novel when it first came out and I enjoyed it just as much the second time around this year. I decided to read Gone Girl again before I watched the movie. I know, the movie has been out for ages, but I’m really bad at watching movies the second that they are released these days!

I thought that Amy was such a fascinating character. The more I read of her, the more interesting she became. What a psycho, hey! But then when you learn more about her parents and their books, ‘Amazing Amy,’ you can kind of understand how she became so crazy. I know that if my parents were writing about my amazing alter ego with all of the jabs the seemed to direct at Amy I’d probably go a bit loco too.

The twist in Gone Girl is why I had to give this novel 5 stars. When I read Gone Girl the very first time I had no idea what was coming. I love a novel with a good twist! I was surprised that I still felt a little bit shocked by the complete 180 on my second reading. I felt this was because it was done so well and I’d been sucked into the story so deeply all over again. Gillian Flynn is definitely a skillful story teller and I am looking forward to reading her other novels. I haven’t read them yet, so no spoilers please!

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My Thoughts on the Movie:

Gone Girl Movie Poster
Gone Girl Movie Poster

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Ok, so in my opinion, Gone Girl is 110% a novel that you must read before you watch the movie. The diary style, first person narrative, is what really made the novel work for me. I find that this kind of narrative never translates well in movies (in my opinion) and they had to cut a lot of it out of course.

Ben Affleck as Nick didn’t work for me either. Nick frequently tells us in the novel that he is so classically handsome that he has to work hard to convince people that he’s not a jerk. I really don’t think Ben Affleck fits that description. He’s not bad looking, but he doesn’t look or seem like Nick to me at all.

On the other hand, Rosamund Pike was the perfect, or amazing if you like, Amy. She was definitely my favourite part of the entire movie. It’s funny, because I would have thought that Amy would have been the most difficult character to cast, but Rosamund Pike was exactly how I expected her to be.

I did enjoy the Gone Girl movie, but definitely not as much as I loved the novel.

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Book Sale! The Black Swan Inheritance by Marigold Deidre Dicer is now FREE on Smashwords

The Black Swan InheritanceThe Black Swan Inheritance by Marigold Deidre Dicer has a brand new cover (which I think looks great by the way!) To celebrate the author is offering readers the chance to download themselves a copy from Smashwords for FREE until the 6th of February.

To snap yourself up a copy all you need to do is follow this link:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/497280

Description:

The striking Black Swan is native to Australia, unrelated to the seemingly pure White Swan of Europe. She is found in the strangest of places – from ugly mines to cultivated farms, peaceful bushland to violent coast.

Yet, she always shies away from humanity.

The Black Swan is always beautiful, surprisingly resilient and very, very powerful. Most Black Swans are wise enough not to use that power to challenge the status quo.

Most…

Anita had the kind of reputation in high school that no one wants to carry into adulthood, especially since she wants to be a doctor like her dad. Now at university, she is determined to be good, but one little end-of-semester celebration can’t hurt, right? Well, it can if she ends up having a one-night stand with a werewolf that triggers a dark awakening. Turns out Anita’s over-active libido has become more than something hormonal – it’s magical.

The Black Swan is a powerful legacy that brings both temptation and danger. Having now inherited the title and all that comes with it, Anita finds herself beset upon by ancient abominations that won’t take no for an answer. No wonder the Black Swan had been driven to seclusion and banishment in the past. But Anita is determined not to run away – she is here to help, whether the medieval dragon-wolf or the undead cultists want it or not.

She will be no one’s pawn. She will rise to the challenge.

If she can just manage to deal with her own flaws first. Anxiety, panic-attacks, and bouts of bitchiness does not a successful diplomat make.

DISCLOSURE: PLEASE NOTE
This New Adult Paranormal Fantasy includes regular coarse language, violence, sexual references and sex scenes.
There is also reference to rape. Not in any detail, but there is reference to it.
END DISCLOSURE

Book Review: Of Love and Secrets by Margaret Lynette Sharp

Title: Of Love and Secrets

Of Love and Secrets cover
Of Love and Secrets

Author: Margaret Lynette Sharp

Published: January 5th 2015 by Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Description from Goodreads:

This is the story of an eighteen-year old woman as she battles for autonomy and a life of her own. Still living at home, under the ever-watchful eye of her domineering mother, Jenny struggles to build a life and find love. What is her destiny?

My Thoughts:

I received my copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Of Love and Secrets by Australian author, Margaret Lynette Sharp, is a lovely contemporary romance novel, set in beautiful Sydney, Australia.

Jenny has just turned 18, has been dumped by her boyfriend, and feels like her mother still treats her like a child. She jumps at the chance to get out of her stifling home to go to a party with her friends where she meets the handsome older man, Richard.

Jenny and Richard begin to spend all of their time together and seem to fall head over heels in love with each other. Jenny believes that she is old enough to make her own decisions. Richard is only in his early 20’s, appears to really like her, and even her Dad seems to like him, so what’s the problem?

Jenny’s mother has all kinds of problems with the relationship. She thinks that Jenny is too young and that Richard is only interested in taking advantage of her. This makes things very tense at home, but when Richard starts to talk about moving to Melbourne Jenny begins to wonder where exactly their relationship is heading.

Jenny was such a likable, if a bit naive, character that I found myself really hoping that things would work out between her and Richard. I was really hoping for her to stand up to her overbearing mother, although I could also see things from her point of view at times. Even when you’re 18 it is quite rude and irresponsible to be staying out til all hours without letting your parents know and 18 is still too young to know for sure that you’ve found the love of your life. (In my opinion.) However, one of the most difficult aspects of parenting must be knowing when to let go and allow your children to make their own decisions, good or bad.

I really enjoyed Of Love and Secrets. It was much more than just about romance, it was about families, relationships, and the struggles of growing up and finding your own place in the world.

Check out Margaret’s Guest Author post here from earlier this month!

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Birthday Reflections

birthdayballoons
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brianglanz/1094844245

Its my birthday today! Birthdays don’t really hold the same excitement as they used to once you hit your 30’s, but nevertheless, this has been a pretty amazing year for me, so I decided that today was a good occasion to share some of the best moments of the past 12 months with you all.

  • I finally went back to school! This was something that I had been talking about doing for years. Well, last year I finally did it! Uni life has it’s ups and downs of course, but I’m so proud of myself for proving that I could actually do it. I’ve passed every single subject so far and have even managed to get a couple of High Distinctions. The most exciting part is that I finally have a really good idea of what I would like to be when I grow up and I’m actually really excited about it.
  • I finally started a blog! Duh, you’re reading it right now 🙂 Starting a blog is another thing that I talked about doing for ages and never got around to it. Silly me, because its awesome! I honestly can’t believe how many amazing and clever people I have met through this blog. Thank you all for being so friendly and helpful to this newbie blogger.
  • My rescue cat has finally started to settle down a bit! Poor old Zeus didn’t have the best start to life, so when we adopted him about a year ago he was a bit of a nervous wreck to be honest. Lots of love and a happy home has worked wonders on him though, and seeing him come out of his shell and become the loving, cheeky, confident, crazy cat that he’s meant to be has been one of the best parts of my year.
  • I’ve met lots of lovely new people! Some I’ve met at uni, some are just those people you meet randomly, some of you are right here 🙂 Either way, some wonderful people have come into my life this year.
  • I’ve had a lot of laughs! And tears, and angry grumbles, and everything in between. Good or bad, I’ve had a lot of memorable moments this year but even the bad ones have helped me learn and grown. And everything worked out ok in the end.

I will be spending the afternoon with my Mum at a winery in the sun today and then heading out for dinner with my other half. I hope all of you have a wonderful January 21st too!

Taking a short break from accepting new novels for review

I have been honoured to accept a number of novels for review over the past few weeks and I have a TBR pile that has become slightly out of control. My uni semester has recently hit the half way mark which means my workload is about to get huge, so I need to take a short break from accepting new ARCS for review.

This doesn’t affect any of the reviews that I have already agreed to, so if I have already made arrangements with you I will still be reviewing your novel shortly. As soon as I can get my TBR pile a little bit smaller I will be able to accept some new ARCS.

Thank you so much to all of the wonderful authors and publishers who have offered to send me their novels for review, I’m looking forward to reading them all!

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children peregrine

Author: Ransom Riggs

Published: June 7th 2011 by Quirk

ISBN: 1594744769

Genre: YA, Paranormal Fantasy

Pages: 352

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

My Thoughts:

I purchased my copy.

I have been meaning to get around to reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs for what seems like forever now. Well, I’ve been missing out for quite a while now because I really enjoyed it. Paranormal fantasy can be a bit hit or miss for me, but this novel had a lot more hits than misses.

Jacob’s Grandfather has always told him fairy-tales, but these stories were a lot different from the usual run of the mill children’s stories. They were full of monsters and magical children who lived at a home run by Miss Peregrine that Grandpa lived at as a child when he lost his family from Nazi Germany. He even had photos to prove it.

When Grandpa seems to be killed by the monsters from his stories Jacob travels to the isolated island in Wales to find Miss Peregrine and discover truth about his Grandfather and the monsters that were now haunting Jacob.

He discovers that his Grandfather was telling the truth after all and that Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children were still there, living in a kind of groundhog day situation called a loop. To protect themselves from the monsters that eventually killed Jacob’s Grandfather the children were forced to hide in their loop, living out the same day on earth over and over again and never aging.

Of course the monsters turn up eventually, but I shouldn’t get too far into that at the risk of spoiling the story. Unless I’m the only person who hasn’t already read this novel? That could be a distinct possibility!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children had quite a dark and Gothic feel to it and that feeling was enhanced by the inclusion of original photographs. I highly recommend purchasing a physical copy of this novel to truly appreciate the creep factor of them. Its also fascinating to note that ‘photoshopping’ images is such an old practice. I think its something that a lot of people consider to be a new thing, but people have been photoshopping weird things into their photos for a long time! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and am eagerly anticipating the sequel, Hollow City.

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Book Review: Amnesia by Peter Carey

Title: 22930198Amnesia

Author: Peter Carey

Published: Penguin Books Australia

ISBN: 1926428609

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller

Pages: 385

My Rating: 4/5

Description (from Goodreads):

It was a spring evening in Washington DC; a chilly autumn morning in Melbourne; it was exactly 22.00 Greenwich Mean Time when a worm entered the computerised control systems of hundreds of Australian prisons and released the locks in many places of incarceration, some of which the hacker could not have known existed.

Because Australian prison security was, in the year 2010, mostly designed and sold by American corporations the worm immediately infected 117 US federal correctional facilities, 1,700 prisons, and over 3,000 county jails. Wherever it went, it traveled underground, in darkness, like a bushfire burning in the roots of trees. Reaching its destinations it announced itself: THE CORPORATION IS UNDER OUR CONTROL. THE ANGEL DECLARES YOU FREE.

Has a young Australian woman declared cyber war on the United States? Or was her Angel Worm intended only to open the prison doors of those unfortunates detained by Australia’s harsh immigration policies? Did America suffer collateral damage? Is she innocent? Can she be saved?

Peter Carey’s masterful new novel, AMNESIA.

My Thoughts:

I received my copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Amnesia by Peter Carey was not quite what I expected from the blurb, it was so much better. Rather than simply telling us the story of how an Australian hacker ‘Fallen Angel’/Gaby Baillieux hacked Australian prison systems to release detainees, Carey delves deep into Gaby’s and Australia’s political history to explain why a girl from Melbourne would decide to become a ‘hacktivist’ in the first place. The premise of the novel and inspiration for the name comes from the idea that America has at times been a bit of a bully towards Australia and Australians seem to just forget about it.

Gaby is accused of infiltrating the Australian prison system to release immigrants who have been detained in Australia which also inadvertently affects many American systems. The American government sees this as an act of terror and immediately demands that Gaby is extradited to face terrorism charges there. Peter Carey says that he drew inspiration for Amnesia from the Julian Assange case when he discovered that Assange’s mother was a Labor supporter (lefty) in Australia during the 70’s and began pondering the implications that this might have had on his political motivations. Read the interview in The Australian here.

Amnesia is told through the eyes of Felix Moore, a journalist and long time Labor supporter, who has recently been disgraced for falsifying stories. His career is effectively over and his marriage is on the rocks when he is offered the opportunity to write Gaby’s biography in an attempt to proclaim her innocence.

Gaby is the child of an actress and a Labor minister. During her teen years she is exposed to some very radical Labor followers and falls in love with a hacker who teaches her all of his tricks. This combination means that she is almost destined to become a political activist.

Carey discusses real historical events to describe the ongoing relationship between Australia and America, particularly the dismissal of the Whitlam Government in 1975 by the Governor General. The history books provide a number of factors that contributed to Whitlam’s dismissal, but in Amnesia, Carey claims that the CIA was behind it due to Whitlam attempting to take control of ASIO (Australia’s version of the CIA) and threatening to cease the agreement for the American army base at Pine Gap.

I’m not too sure on my thoughts about Carey’s claims but I do agree that Whitlam was an extremely radical prime minister and I can easily imagine that his policies would have threatened a lot of politicians, so I can believe that many politicians at the time would have wanted him gone. Some of Whitlam’s notable achievements while he was in office include the termination of military conscription (another factor that would have gotten him offside with the American government I would imagine,)  institution of universal healthcare and free university education. As a side note, I find it extremely hypocritical that the politicians who are currently campaigning so vigorously to increase Australian university fees didn’t pay a cent for their educations thanks to Whitlam. I wonder if they would be so determined if they were asked to pay for their fees retrospectively?

I feel that Amnesia was published at a perfect time for me as I am currently studying a news and politics subject and it certainly gave me cause to ponder many issues from a different perspective. I also loved the many references to Melbourne suburbs and landmarks, although people from outside of Australia may find them a bit confusing or irrelevant. Amnesia was a thought provoking and extremely well written novel and I would recommend it to anyone interested in Australian history. Even if you are well versed on Australian history you will find yourself thinking about events in different ways and if you aren’t you will most likely be inspired to find out more as I was.

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Guest Author Margaret Lynette Sharp

Margaret Lynette Sharp is joining us at Scatterbooker today. Margaret is the author of Love, Desire and Betrayal and Of Love and Secrets as well as over 150 short stories. She lives in Sydney with her husband, Ronald Sharp, who is the very highly regarded creator of the Grand Organ in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House.

Of Love and Secrets and Love, Desire and Betrayal are both on my current reading list and I will be reviewing both novels in the next few weeks.

Margaret Lynette Sharp image
Margaret and her Maltese Cross, Chicki

Where do you find inspiration for your novels?

My new release, ‘Of Love and Secrets’ is my longest work. I really don’t know where the inspiration for it, or any of my stories, comes from. It’s a matter of making the decision to start a new project, and then tossing around ideas in my head, jotting them down as they appeal to me. I’ve written over a hundred and fifty short stories, so I guess I have a considerable store of ideas tucked away in my subconscious.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I’ve never had it. If I want to write, I write.

Which of your characters, if any, are most similar to you?

There is a little bit of me in many of my characters.  I share Michaela’s love of music and Amelia’s desire for success (each in different novellas in the collection entitled ‘Love, Desire and Betrayal’). As a young woman, I was a little naïve like Jenny in ‘Of Love and Secrets’.

Which of your characters has been the most difficult to write?

No-one stands out particularly. If I’m pressed for an answer, I’d say Steven (of ‘Amelia’s Call’, a novella in ‘Love, Desire and Betrayal’.) He is not like anyone I know.

What is your favourite thing to do to relax?

That’s easy: swimming. I love it! I’ve been involved at local competition level for over thirty years. But I love recreational swimming best!

Which book do you wish that you had written yourself?

There are many books and authors that I truly admire, especially in the classics, but I don’t consciously *wish* that I’d written them. They are each written in their author’s unique voice.

What is your greatest achievement (so far)?

In the literary sense, I think it’s the completion of ‘Of Love and Secrets’. I wrote it to achieve my ambition of writing a longer work.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

I am always working on my blog, but at present I have no plans to write any more books. But that may change, if ‘Of Love and Secrets’ is well received.

To find out more about Margaret and her writing you can visit her blog https://margaretlynettesharp.wordpress.com/ which contains book information, book reviews and some stunning photos taken by Margaret around Sydney.

You can also find Margaret on Twitter @MargaretLynett1 and Facebook

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