My Book Review of THE CURSE OF TIME (Bloodstone #1) by M.J. Mallon @Marjorie_Mallon

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THE CURSE OF TIME (Bloodstone #1) by M.J. Mallon

 

Goodreads Description

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who’s imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house. When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden pathway where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, but perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set, and some crystal wizard stones she discovers the truth about a shocking curse that has destroyed her family’s happiness.

My Review

Amelina’s family is very unusual. Her parents seem to be cursed, especially after her father mysteriously disappeared and returned. A girl who used to go to school with Amelina is imprisoned in the mirrors of the family home and the family’s black cat seems to know far more than he should. When Amelina receives and invitation to visit the magical Crystal Cottage she meets a mysterious stranger and discovers the truth about her family.

I loved the main idea and concepts of this story. There are lots a of crystals mixed in with folklore and myths. I found that the book jumped around from one idea to the next a bit too suddenly and it was often difficult to keep up with what was going on. These issues could definitely be cleared up with another round of editing and proofreading.

THE CURSE OF TIME is a great concept for a young adult fantasy novel and a fantastic effort from a debut author. Many thanks to the author for sending me a review copy.

About the Author

 

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M.J. Mallon author of THE CURSE OF TIME (Bloodstone #1)

 

I am a debut author who has been blogging for three years at my lovely blog home Kyrosmagica: https://mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. I write Fantasy YA, middle grade fiction and micro poetry – haiku and tanka. I love to read and have written over 100 reviews: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheroes! I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit,) second child and only daughter to my proud parents Paula and Ronald. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with my elder brother Donald. My parents dragged me away from my exotic childhood and my much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. In bonnie Edinburgh I mastered Scottish country dancing, and a whole new Och Aye lingo.

As a teenager I travelled to many far-flung destinations to visit my abacus wielding wayfarer dad. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters. After such an upbringing my author’s mind has taken total leave of its senses! When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes me I snorkel with mermaids, or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.

 

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THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE by Muriel Spark #bookreview #tuesdaybookblog

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THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE by Muriel Spark

Goodreads Blurb

‘Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life…’

Passionate, free-thinking and unconventional, Miss Brodie is a teacher who exerts a powerful influence over her group of ‘special girls’ at Marcia Blaine School. They are the Brodie set, the crème de la crème, each famous for something – Monica for mathematics, Eunice for swimming, Rose for sex – who are initiated into a world of adult games and extracurricular activities they will never forget. But the price they pay is their undivided loyalty …

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a brilliantly comic novel featuring one of the most unforgettable characters in all literature.

My Review 

Miss Jean Brodie is an eccentric Edinburgh teacher in the 1930s. She selects a set of six girls who are each famous in their own ways – Monica for mathematics, Eunice for swimming, Rose for sex – to take under her wing throughout their school years. Her ways of interacting with the girls begins quite unconventionally and progresses to extremely adult and inappropriate extracurricular activities. In return for Miss Brodie’s special treatment and the added style and popularity the girls receive as being part of the exclusive Brodie Set the girls remain completely loyal to their mentor until one of them betrays her in the worst possible way.

THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE is only a short novel, but I still found it a bit of the chore to read. Jean Brodie did have many comedic moments, but I just found her to be an incredibly irritating character. She was often cruel and childish and I could never figure out why she was so invested in her girls. I also wondered why none of the other teachers or the girls’ parents didn’t seem to notice there was something off about her.

This book is part of the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

1. 1984

2. The Great Gatsby

3. The Gnostic Gospels

4. A Clockwork Orange

5. Lady Chatterley’s Lover

6. The Art of War

7. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Links

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Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s taken me ages to be able to sit down and write a review for this book. I just couldn’t eatpraylovedecide whether I loved it or hated it! I’ve decided to meet myself halfway and am rating Eat Pray Love 3 stars, because there were parts I enjoyed and parts that I really hated.

Elizabeth Gilbert is in her 30s and having a bit of a breakdown. She appears to be living the dream New York lifestyle with a successful career, nice house and marriage, but she finds herself depressed and searching for God on the bathroom floor. This seems to be the catalysis for her quest, but it’s difficult to relate to her here, because she refuses to discuss the issues with her marriage at all.

So, she decides to take off for 12 months to find either God or herself. I’m still not really sure which one! Her itinerary includes Italy (to eat), India (to pray), and Indonesia (to love).

In Italy she learns Italian and eats a lot. This was my favourite section!

In India she prays at her guru’s ashram. This was the most boring section for me. The concept of a ‘guru’ who she never even meets is a bit far-fetched! Plus there was far too much navel-gazing and discussion of all the totally crazy thoughts that went through her mind here. I’ve got too much going on in my own mind to worry about anybody else’s! Although I did practice a little bit more yoga and meditation while I was reading this section, so that’s a bonus.

In Indonesia she apparently learns about love from a medicine man, raises money for an Indonesian woman to buy a house, and falls in love. I enjoyed Indonesia until Gilbert met her now husband. I feel like it took away from the empowering message the novel was attempting to convey by ending it with the author seemingly happy now because she’s found a man.

What I enjoyed most about Eat Pray Love was the writing style. Gilbert is a good writer and quite funny and endearing in parts. Although some parts really did tend towards narcissism, I don’t think that was the intent. I felt as though the novel was written with good intentions.

The biggest issue for me is that Gilbert’s lifestyle is so unattainable for the majority of the millions of people who have read Eat Pray Love. I’m sure everybody suffering from depression would love to take a 12 month paid vacation to travel around the world and then make millions of dollars by writing about their trip, but that’s just not going to happen for everyone. I would also like to point out that you really don’t need to go to so much effort to do similar things for yourself. You can treat yourself right where you are. Take a class at your local community centre, read a good book, listen to your favourite music, eat good food etc. You learn more about religion, yoga, meditation etc in your own city. And love the people you’re with right now. You also do not need a partner to be able to love yourself!!

Description

In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want–husband, country home, successful career–but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.

Details

Title: Eat Pray Love

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Published: Riverhead Books, 2006

ISBN: 0143038419 (ISBN13: 9780143038412)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Travel, Spirituality

Pages: 334

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 3/5 stars

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Book Review: The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan

Title: The Girl in the Photograph the girl in the photograph

Author: Kate Riordan

ISBN: 1405917423

Published:   January 15th 2015 by Penguin Books

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Gothic

Pages: 448

Source: I received my copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Description:

The Girl in the Photograph is a haunting and atmospheric novel that tells the tales of women in two different eras – the 1890’s and 1930’s – and how their lives seem to be entwined by fate. Kate Riordan’s novel is a beautifully dark and beguiling tale which will sweep you away. It will appeal to fans of Kate Morton and Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.

My Thoughts:

‘The Girl in the Photograph’ by Kate Riordan began with great promise but I thought the pace a little bit too slow and that it wound up fizzling out a bit towards the end. The story is told by two women, Alice in 1933 and Elizabeth in 1898, who both live at the Gothic and secluded English country estate, Firecombe Manor. When Alice became pregnant to her married boyfriend her mother sent her away to stay with her childhood friend, Edith Jelphs, who works as a maid at Firecomb Manor.

Alice soon discovers Elizabeth’s old diaries and begins a quest to discover all of the mysteries that Firecombe Manor holds. Even though Edith worked for Elizabeth she is reluctant to speak about the past, so Alice is left to do most of the investigating on her own, with a bit of help from a local historian.

I particularly enjoyed the chapters of ‘The Girl in the Photograph’ which were told from Elizabeth’s perspective. They had a real mysterious and Gothic feel to them and I was really interested to find out what happened to her and her children. I did feel though that Alice’s chapters dragged on a  bit and that the ending was rather anticlimactic, but these are all very likely just a matter of my own personal preferences. The story was well written and the mysteries are subtly, although slowly, revealed in a way that will appeal to readers who enjoy Gothic mysteries.

The Girl in the Photograph was published in the USA under the title Firecombe Manor.

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Book Review: Daughter by Jane Shemilt

Title: Daughter  daughter

Author: Jane Shemilt

ISBN: 9781405916516

Published: Published August 28th 2014 by Penguin

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 392

Source: I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Description:

Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon.

But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, Jenny’s seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.

As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios—kidnapping, murder—seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers—and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.

My Thoughts:

Jenny Malcolm thinks she has the perfect life until the day that her beloved fifteen year old daughter, Naomi, goes missing. Jenny has the perfect career as a GP, a perfect neurologist husband and three perfect children and prides herself on managing it all without any dramas. Then one evening Naomi heads off to perform in her school play, never to return again. During the course of the year long investigation to find Naomi, Jenny’s entire perfect life begins to unravel before her very eyes and she discovers that she doesn’t know any of her family members quite as well as she thought she did.

While I thought Jane Shemilt’s writing was superb, particularly for a debut author, I found Daughter to be a little bit slow in parts for my liking. It went between the time when Naomi went missing and 12 months after and I found the chapters set 12 months after were perhaps a little bit drawn out. I would have enjoyed hearing from some of the other character’s point of view as well, I think it would have added to the story to hear from them.

I thought Jenny was a difficult character to sympathise with, despite the fact that she went through such an awful time. She seemed so disinterested in her children and husband throughout the entire novel, almost as though she just wanted them to be the perfect accessories for her perfect life. I’m not saying that women can’t have great careers as well as children or that teenagers should have absolutely no secrets from their parents, but you do need to make the most of the time that you do get to spend with them and perhaps answer your children’s phone calls occasionally.

The twists and turns of Daughter definitely kept me guessing. Everybody in the Malcolm family had their own secrets which were gradually revealed throughout the course of the novel. I’m not too sure how I feel about the ending, but I certainly didn’t see it coming.

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Book Review: A Kirribilli Christmas by Louise Reynolds

Title: A Kirribilli Christmas                                                                                          Akirribillichristmas

Author: Louise Reynolds

Published: 2 Dec 2014, Penguin Books Australia/Destiny Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 54

My Rating:  3/5

Description: From the publisher

Eight years ago Shelby left Sydney for LA, determined to set the world on fire. Now she’s nearly broke and her boyfriend has left her alone at Christmas. Lonely and miserable, Shelby finds herself drawn back to the childhood home she thought she’d left behind . . .

Frangipani House now belongs to Dan Sayers, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who found a new start in Kirribilli. When he spots Shelby dragging her suitcase up the front steps on Christmas Eve, he can’t believe his eyes. It’s been four years since he last saw her. Then, she’d been aloof, a stranger in designer sunglasses and killer heels, barely acknowledging their shared past.

As Christmas unfolds, Shelby and Dan grow closer than ever before and Shelby begins to see her ramshackle home in a new light. But before she and Dan can have any hope of a future together, they must first confront their past.

My Thoughts:

A Kirribilli Christmas is my 8th and final novel that I have read as part of the Aussie Readers Christmas/New Year themed December challenge. I’ve really enjoyed reading Christmas themed books this month, it’s a great way to get into a Christmassy frame of mind.

Shelby left Kirribilli, a suburb of Sydney Australia, to become a famous actor. It’s not working out so well for her though. She’s only had a handful of of bit parts and a rich jerk of a boyfriend to show for all of her efforts. When he makes it clear that she isn’t invited to spend Christmas with his family she takes up his offer to fly home to Kirribilli for the holidays despite the fact that since her mother passed away and she has no family left.

Her family home which is called Frangipanni House (maybe a little bit too ‘Australiana’ cliche for my tastes) is now owned by Dan, one of the many foster children that Shelby’s mother took in over the years. There seemed to be all kinds of tension between Shelby, Dan and the rest of the foster children who still get together every year for Christmas. I really felt like the tension between Shelby and the others needed to be explained more clearly. They were far too hostile for the brief explanation that was given. I think perhaps the novella was just a tiny bit too short and could have done with being a tad longer to explore those relationships more thoroughly.

Another thing that I found a little bit difficult to swallow was the location for this family. Kirribilli property is expensive, and I mean really expensive, so I’m not sure how a single mother with a hoard of foster children could have afforded such a large house there on her own even 20 years ago. And there was no way that I could imagine that anyone would be able to make a decision on whether to sell a property or not in that area on a whim. This detail is entirely irrelevant to the enjoyment of the book, especially for readers overseas but it was something that stuck out like a sore thumb for me.

Overall, A Kirribilli Christmas is a nicely written contemporary Australian romance, set on the lovely shores of Kirribilli (Sydney). The characters and story line are quite interesting and it’s a little bit deeper than the usual Christmas themed novella.

Now, this is where my review would have ended if I hadn’t turned the page and read Louise Reynolds’ author bio. I’m a born and bred Melburnian (a person who is from Melbourne) so I took particular exception to the following sentence:

“After one look at Melbourne beaches she got a library card and started to read.”

I usually steer well clear of the Sydney vs Melbourne debate but it is well documented here, here and here, as well as thousands more. But I will say that there are many reasons why Melbourne is regularly voted one of the most livable cities in the world and Sydney the most expensive. I believe that Sydneysiders are always going to prefer their home town and Melburnians are going to prefer theirs and will usually leave it at that but disparaging Melbourne’s beaches in an author bio is probably not a good way to go about things. I would have thought Melburnians would have made up a far chunk of Louise’s readers so it might be a better idea to speak about both towns in a positive light, especially since she lives here now.

Louise, you also don’t need to wear so much black, that’s just a tired old stereotype and you know that Melbourne’s fashion is better than Sydney’s. I think that most people would agree that there is so much more versatility during the colder weather that we get here during winter.

And if you have been looking for lovely beaches in Melbourne’s northern suburbs you have been looking in the wrong place! I’ve decided to help Louise out but showing her a few of my favourite Melbourne beaches.

Here we have Brighton Beach, just a 30 minute drive south of the CBD. These beach boxes there are worth quite a lot of money and the houses along the beach here would match or top the Kirribilli property market.

Brighton Beach image

Image uploaded to Flickr by Reinis Traidas and shared under the Creative Commons License. Visit here to view the original image.

Here is my favourite beach in Sorrento which is just down the road from my home town. This beach is virtually empty all of the time because the only way to get there is to drive down several roads with signage stating ‘no beach access’ and then walking the rest of the way over sand dunes. (There is no way that I will tell you how to get there, sorry!) Sorrento is a 1.5 hour drive south of Melbourne’s CBD.

sorrento beach

Image from my own personal collection

And here are the famed 12 Apostles which are along the Great Ocean Road, a top tourist destination. The 12 Apostles are about a 3 hour drive west of Melbourne’s CBD but it is well worth the trip and while you are there you might as well visit other beautiful and world renowned beaches such as Lorne, Torquay and Anglesea just to name a few.

12apostles

Image uploaded to Flickr by Stephenk1977 and shared under the Creative Commons License. Visit here to view the original image.

This could be asking for trouble, but feel free to share your thoughts on Melbourne Vs Sydney as long as you keep it reasonably nice!

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Book Review: Bah, Humbug by Heather Horrocks

Title: Bah, Humbug                                                                    bahhumbug

Author: Heather Horrocks

Published: September 9th 2011 by Word Garden Press

Genre: Romance, Chick Lit

Pages: 96

My Rating: 3/5

Description: From Goodreads

Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller.

For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block – until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes this is the perfect place for his villain to hide the weapon. He digs into the snowman to discover two things: the weapon fits int he body just under the head, and the snowman was supposed to be the back drop for Lexi’s next show.

From this improbable beginning comes friendship. Can there be more for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood?

Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

My Thoughts:

I downloaded my copy as a free download from Amazon.

As most of you know I have been reading Christmas themed novels as part of the Aussie Readers Group December Challenge at Goodreads. I put the call out to my readers to choose my next Christmas read here and Bah, Humbug was the hands down winner. I think everyone was very intrigued by the name. Thank you Holly, Delia and Marjorie for the input!

Bah, Humbug tells the story of Lexi Anderson, the next Martha Stewart, who has recently moved next door to her children’s favourite author, Kyle Miller, just before Christmas. At first she is horrified to discover that Kyle is a bit of a Christmas Grinch but she soon discovers that he has his reasons to dislike Christmas so she conspires to save Christmas once and for all for Kyle and his family. How does she do that? With lots of decorations and food of course!

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and this is definitely the case for Kyle Miller. I find that my boyfriend is generally especially nice to me if I cook any of his favourite foods so I think that Lexi could be on to something here! Kyle starts to realise that he is falling in love with Lexi but will she reciprocate those feelings or fall for the charms of Kyle’s handsome and charming brother?

Bah, Humbug is a nice and easy Christmas themed novella. I would recommend it for anyone who loves the romance or chick lit genres or for anyone looking for a short, Christmas themed read that is easily read in one sitting.

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