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: Kings and Queens by Terry Tyler

Title: Kings and Queens kingsandqueens

Author: Terry Tyler

Published: April 24th 2014 by Cranium X

Genre: Romantic Drama

Pages: 387

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

Terry Tyler’s seventh novel is a romantic drama spanning the years 1971 – 2007, with an unusual echo from history …

“KINGS AND QUEENS” tells of the life and loves of charismatic Harry Lanchester, which just happen to mirror the story of Henry VIII and his six wives. All the passion and suspense of the Tudor court, but set in modern times.

Harry’s realm is his South of England property developing company, Lanchester Estates, while his ‘wives’ are the twentieth century sisters of their historic counterparts: Anne Boleyn is reincarnated as the equally intriguing Annette Hever, and Henry VIII’s fifth wife with the risqué past, Catherine Howard, lives again in 1999 as Keira Howard, a former lap dancer.

The saga is narrated by each of the six women, in turn, interspersed with short chapters from the point of view of Harry’s lifelong friend, Will Brandon.

Don’t worry if you know nothing of this period in history – “Kings and Queens” can be enjoyed as a contemporary family drama, very much in the vein of Ms Tyler’s previous novels. Readers with an interest in the Tudors, though, will pick up on many similarities, references and metaphors, some quite amusing. For those non-Tudor fanatics who would like a brief look at the life of Henry VIII before reading, the author has included, in the Kindle book, a link to a mini-biography on her blog.

A sequel, following the lives of Harry’s three children, is already planned

My Thoughts:

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

Kings and Queens was my very first Terry Tyler novel but it definitely won’t be the last! Kings and Queens tells the story of Harry Lanchester, property developing magnate, whose life is very similar Henry VIII, except he lives in modern times. Kings and Queens begins in the 70’s when Harry is a teenager and runs all the way through to 2007. I’m a big fan of Henry VIII novels, such as The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory, so I was very interested to see how he would translate to the present. My biggest question was ‘how would he get rid of all of his wives when he can’t just behead them?’ I certainly wasn’t disappointed!

Terry Tyler clearly has an extensive knowledge of the Tudors which was evident in all of the subtle and quite funny references to real people and events. I don’t think that knowledge of the Tudors is necessary to enjoy Kings and Queens,  but the renames and references to the past were done so skillfully that I did have a laugh at most of them. The author also includes a mini biography on Henry VIII for anyone who would like to brush up on the real Henry as well, which was a very thoughtful touch.

Kings and Queens was written in first person narrative from the perspective of all of Harry’s wives and these were broken up by entries by Harry’s best friend, Will Brandon/The Duke of Suffolk. I think it added to Harry’s mystique that we never heard his perspective throughout the novel. He certainly is a fascinating character!

Each of the characters that we do hear from has their own distinct voice and each time the perspective changed I would find myself taking their side in things, even though that required a complete 180 from the previous chapter. I’ve never changed my mind so many times in one novel! Every single character was developed so well, with just the right balance between acknowledging their historical counterparts and making them a brand new character who lives only in this novel. I could definitely ‘hear’ each character in my mind while I was reading.

Kings and Queens also had quite a few funny moments. I loved all of the bad fashion descriptions from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and there was just the right amount of British slang to be funny, not contrived.

As you can probably tell, I loved Kings and Queens. Fans of Henry VIII will enjoy the nods to the past, but anyone who likes a good romantic drama or interesting and well developed characters and story lines should add Kings and Queens to their TBR pile. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Last Child, which is coming out soon!

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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!