Book Launch: ‘The First Year’ by Genevieve Gannon @Gen_Gannon

About the Book

‘Genevieve Gannon writes with a fresh and funny narrative voice … chick lit at its very, very best’ Tess Woods, author of Love at First Flight

The first year of marriage is hard no matter what. Throw in jealous exes, high-pressure careers and two wildly different families, and the degree of difficulty goes up a few more notches. Determined to beat the odds, one couple comes up with a plan to keep their romance alive – but life has other ideas.

Saskia is an up-and-coming jewellery designer, waiting tables at a trendy cafe to keep her fledgling company afloat. Andrew is a corporate lawyer who wants to be known for more than his family’s money. They’re passionate about their work and each other, but with Andy’s job in jeopardy and Saskia’s jewellery label taking off, the pressure is taking its toll.

As life pulls them in different directions, the two of them are forced to decide: Just how important is their marriage? And how hard are they willing to work to protect it?

‘A clever and entertaining read-into-the-wee-hours-of-morning story about love, creativity and the things that make us tick. Genevieve Gannon writes with passion and wit in a story you’ll relate to whether you’ve struggled through love, art or the wrath of public transport ticket inspectors.’ Claire Varley, author of The Bit in Between

Details

Title: The First Year 

Author: Genevieve Gannon

ISBN: 9781460708460

Published: April 24th 2017 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Genre: Chick Lit, Romance, Romantic Comedy

I’m looking forward to reading this one with a nice coffee or two!!

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Conjuror #bookreview

conjurorI have to admit that I am a massive Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Captain Jack Harkness fan, so I was a little bit geeked out to have the opportunity to read John Barrowman’s latest novel written in collaboration with his sister, Carole E. Barrowman.

There were a lot of features that I loved about this novel. First of all, there was a really great mix of diverse characters. Considering that Conjuror’s target audience is mostly teenagers, it made me smile to find a bad ass female Indian policewoman, an African American teenager, and LGBT characters all in the one book like it was no big deal.

Secondly, combining magic, mystery, art, and music into the same book is a pretty interesting concept and not something you come across every day.

I did feel as though I had missed out on some of the general background of the characters, especially the twins, although I have recently discovered that they appear in the Hollow Earth series also, so that’s probably why I felt their stories just jumped right in.

I would recommend Conjuror to fans of YA fantasy. It was an enjoyable and quick read, with some really interesting and diverse characters and concepts. I will definitely be hanging out to read the second installment because I’m dying to find out what happens next!

Description

Sixteen-year-old twins Matt and Em Calder are Animare: they can bring art to life, and travel in time through paintings. They work for Orion—the Animare MI5—protecting the secrecy of their order and investigating crimes committed by their own kind. It’s dangerous work. But when they are sent to Edinburgh to find a teenage boy who can alter reality with his music, they are drawn into something more dangerous still. For this boy, Remy, is the Conjurer’s Son. And he carries something that could change humanity forever.

Details

Title: Conjuror (Orion Chronicles #1)

Author: John and Carole E. Barrowman

ISBN: 9781781856376

Published:  April 21st 2016 by Head of Zeus
Genre:  Science Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy
Pages: 320
Source: Review copy from publisher (HarperCollins Australia)

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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Review: The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

The Yearbook Committee is being described as this generation’s The Breakfast Club and I theyearbookcommitteecovercan see why! The setting for this novel takes place in a private school. Five Year 12 students are thrown together onto the yearbook committee and we get to read about their progress over the entire school year.

The story is told from the perspective of each of the members of the yearbook committee who are all dealing with their own personal issues while they are completing their final year of high school. Despite the fact that almost none of them are on the committee by choice they gradually form friendships with each other and put together a pretty amazing yearbook.

The Yearbook Committee tackles some serious issues. Bullying is a major theme, and it’s the kind of insidious, relentless gossip that is unfortunately far too common among females. It can be so difficult to pinpoint or deal with and I think Ayoub did a brilliant job of depicting it realistically. This kind of bullying has always been around in high schools (and some workplaces!), but it can be so much worse when it moves online. The problem with the internet is that everything on it is permanent and public. So, unlike the pre-internet days when you could go home from school and it didn’t exist bullying now follows teenagers everywhere they go, even when they graduate! Apologies for the rant here, but it’s a subject dear to my Internet Communications geek heart. Getting back on topic, brilliant job by the author to raise such an important issue in the language that teenagers will pay attention to!

This novel also tackles such issues as family and peer pressure, mental illness, self-esteem issues, gender stereotyping and questions about friendships, decency and life after school. And it is all presented in a non-preachy and brilliant story with interesting and well-developed characters that teenagers and YA fans will fall in love with. Bonus points from me because it was set in Sydney with many references to my hometown, Melbourne. And yes, Charlie should definitely visit Lord of the Fries when she goes to Melbourne for the weekend, but not with Pete because he’s a jerk!

Description

‘smart, funny and relevant’ – Melina Marchetta, bestselling author of LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI, SAVING FRANCESCA and ON THE JELLICOE ROAD

Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.

The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?

The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …

The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.

The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?

The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.

Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?

Details

Title: The Yearbook Committee

Author: Sarah Ayoub

Published:  29 February 2016 HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9780732296858

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Pages: 304

Source: Review copy from HarperCollins Publishers Australia

My Rating: 5/5 stars

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Review: Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman

 Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again… rebecca

Rebecca’s Tale is an unauthorised sequel of Daphne du Maurier’s classic Gothic mystery. The year is 1951 and Colonel Arthur Julyan, long-time friend of the De Winter family, is still haunted by the circumstances of her death. With the help of his daughter, Ellie, and mysterious newcomer, Terance Grey, he determines to uncover the mysteries surrounding Rebecca’s death and her life before Manderlay.

The novel is told from multiple points of view, Colonel Julyan, Ellie, Terrance Grey, and Rebecca. During the course of their investigations Rebecca’s journal is discovered! Her journal details her childhood and why/how she came to marry Maxim De Winter and come to Manderlay. I loved reading from Rebecca’s point of view, even if she is proven to be an unreliable narrator, along with everybody in this story.

A lot of people have posted negative reviews of this novel. I think the biggest issue is that this version of Rebecca doesn’t match the way they see her. The author does use quite a lot of poetic license to create her version of Rebecca and the other characters. I really love this novel, though. It’s not quite as atmospheric or mysterious as the original, but it was still a very enjoyable read.

Description

April 1951. It has been twenty years since the death of Rebecca, the hauntingly beautiful first wife of Maxim de Winter, and twenty years since Manderley, the de Winter family’s estate, was destroyed by fire. But Rebecca’s tale is just beginning.

Colonel Julyan, an old family friend, receives an anonymous package concerning Rebecca. An inquisitive young scholar named Terence Gray appears and stirs up the quiet seaside hamlet with questions about the past and the close ties he soon forges with the Colonel and his eligible daughter, Ellie. Amid bitter gossip and murky intrigue, the trio begins a search for the real Rebecca and the truth behind her mysterious death.

Details

Title Rebecca’s Tale

Author Sally Beauman

ISBN 006117467X (ISBN13: 9780061174674)

Published 2000

Pages 464

Genre Mystery, Suspense, Historical Fiction, Gothic

Source Own Copy

My Rating 5/5 stars

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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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Fetish by Tara Moss

Fast-Paced Australian Thriller

fetish
Img Source: Goodreads

Makedde (Mak) Vanderwall is a Canadian model and psychology student. When she arrives in Sydney, Australia for a modelling shoot she discovers that her best friend, Catherine, has been horrifically murdered. Mak is determined to catch her friend’s killer, but will she find him before he makes her his next victim?

I have been meaning to check this series out for ages and finally picked up a copy at my local second hand bookstore. Fetish is the first novel of Canadian born Australian model, Tara Moss, and first in the Makadde Vanderwall series. I can see there a lot of similarities between Moss and Mak, so the insights into the modelling world really interested me.

Fetish is a fast-paced thriller and liked the main character, Mak. A fantastic first novel, and I would be interested to read the next book in the series.

Description

Mak is young, beautiful- and in grave danger. An international fashion model, she arrived in Australia on assignment, only to find her best friend brutally murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer with a very deadly fetish. Before she knows it, Mak herself is caught up in the hunt for the killer .and trapped in a twisted game of cat-and-mouse. Who can you trust and where can you turn when you are the dark obsession of a sadistic psychopath?

Tara Moss began modeling at fifteen and worked as a top model around the world for the years before becoming a full-time crime novelist.

Details

Title: Fetish

Author: Tara Moss

Published: Leisure Books January 1st 1999

ISBN: 084395633X (ISBN13: 9780843956337)

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Australian

Pages: 325

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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1984 by George Orwell

I’ve decided to post a review of 1984 by George Orwell to kick off my David Bowie top 1984100 books reading challenge because it also happen to be one of my own favourites. I have read this novel many times, most recently in November. I wrote an essay about George Orwell’s Why I Write, blogging, and the collapse of the private and public spheres. It was just as heavy as it sounds, but do have a read of Why a Write if you haven’t already!

I have no idea how to write this review without including SPOILERS, so please stop reading immediately if you haven’t read 1984 yet.

1984 was the very distant future at the time it was written in 1948…see what he did there? Obviously the world hasn’t turned out exactly the way Orwell imagined, but I often suspect that he wasn’t too far off the mark either.

Point 1: Orwell claimed that technologies such as TV and radio would be used to spy on and control citizens:

Not TV and radio so much, but the Internet obviously has an enormous amount of privacy concerns. Privacy is certainly a different concept now than it was in 1948.

Point 2: The media will be increasingly used to influence public opinion:

I think that’s obviously pretty accurate these days.

Point 3: The world will constantly be at war, but there will be no world wars or use of atomic bombs:

Spot on.

Point 4: Countries will become allies with former enemies and vice versa.

True again

I’ve heard a lot of people complain that 1984 is too slow paced, but I think this was intentional. Living in a dystopian world such as Winston’s would be a grim and dull existence. I know we’re used to a bit more excitement and action these days, but Orwell wrote this novel with one purpose in mind. To deliver a strong political message and voice his concerns about the way he saw the world heading.

Believe it or not, I can see similarities between Orwell and David Bowie. They both wanted to make the world a better place and used art to deliver their messages. Orwell was obviously much more abrasive and in your face than Bowie though!

As the line in Space Oddity goes:

Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.

I see this to mean there are some truly awful and horrific things in this world. Make yourself aware of what’s going on around you, but that is often all we can do. Look for the good and the beautiful anyway.

I consider 1984 to be a must read. I have too many favourite books to have one book I would call my favourite, but 1984 is definitely a contender if I had to choose just one. Please don’t ask me to choose though!

Description

The year 1984 has come and gone, but George Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. 1984 is still the great modern classic of “negative utopia” -a startlingly original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

Details

Title: 1984

Author: George Orwell

ISBN: 0451524934

Published: 1949

Pages: 268

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fantasy

Source: I own my copy

Rating: 5/5 stars

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