All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review/Random Thoughts On: The Red Queen by Isobelle Carmody

Red QueenThe Red Queen (The Obernewtyn Chronicles #7)
Isobelle Carmody
Penguin Books AUS
2015, 1108p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {courtesy the publisher/}:

After years spent struggling to balance her desires with her responsibilities, Elspeth Gordie has fully embraced her role as the Seeker. Battle-scarred and lovelorn, haunted by memories of her beloved Rushton, Elspeth is not prepared for what she finds at the end of the black road she travels: the Compound, a lost community with a startling secret. As Elspeth strives against her captors, she learns that Rushton and her friends have fallen into the hands of the deadly slavemasters that rule the Red Land. And worst of all, as Elspeth stumbles, the Destroyer creeps ever closer to his goal: awakening the cataclysmically destructive weaponmachines that Elspeth has been charged with stopping. Has all her sacrifice been in vain?

Full of romance, action, and suspense, The Red Queen is a worthy finale to such a breathtakingly elaborate series.

Please note: This review probably contains a ginormous amount of ***SPOILERS*** for the previous books in The Obernewtyn Chronicles and assumes a pretty deep familiarity with the overall plot. This is also not really a *review* so much as a brain dump upon finishing this series. 

So it is here, it is here, it is finally here. As I’ve mentioned several thousand times, one of my few reading friends recommended this book to me when I was 14 and in year 9 in high school, waaaay way back in 1996. This girl and I had met in primary school and when I moved away, we communicated by writing letters where we talked about books we were reading, high school dramas and whatever else we had going on. At that time, the first three books were published and I never dreamed I’d be waiting 19 years for the conclusion. I think at that stage, there were only meant to be four or five books! That turned into 7, several of which are massive 1000+ page behemoths.

It was released on a Thursday and I trekked to my local shopping centre to track a copy down. I didn’t have much hope – we have one local bookstore that to be honest, is a bit random with what it carries. Lots of “bargain” stuff, a good selection of older fiction but “new releases” can be up to a month or two old. I asked but they told me although it was on order, it hadn’t been sent from their supplier yet and would be at least a week. Did I want to order a copy? No thank you, I was determined to get it before that. There are 3 department stores in the shopping centre so I tried those too although with even less confidence. Then I took to twitter to see who could get back to me the quickest about definitely having it in stock. The winners were the fab people at Dymocks Geelong who put a copy away for me. We’re off to Geelong, I told my husband, who pulled a face at the prospect of this 90min round trip. Luckily he’s a reader too so although he wasn’t entirely thrilled, he got it.

When I had it, I was surprised by my reluctance to actually start it. When you have been waiting for something for so long, it builds up to incredible heights in your mind. I wanted so many things from this book, what if it didn’t give me all of them? Or actually, any of them? What had I been spending the last 20 years waiting for? I was also going away over the weekend and not planning on taking it so on Friday, I settled on the couch with the intention of getting through as much of it as possible.

This book encompasses misfit Elspeth Geordie’s final mission to destroy the weaponmachines and also return the Queen of the Red Land to her people. It’s a long and quite winding story during which we learn a lot about the Beforetime and even more about Cassy and Hannah Seraphim and Jacob Obernewtyn. For someone who loves post-apocalyptic stories as I do, the section on Habitat (which is, no denying, extremely length, it was far longer than I expected it to be) was extremely interesting. I thought it was a very thorough study on what might happen to an isolated society as it evolved over a long period of time. In some ways, it would’ve made an excellent book all on its own but in terms of being shoehorned into this one, it served a purpose in many ways and in others, provided a bit of distraction.

The whole series has been moving towards Elspeth’s final showdown with the Destroyer and much has been made of who the Destroyer is and how Elspeth was going to defeat them. I have to admit, I’ve had lots of theories about the Destroyer over the years but never once did I touch upon who it actually turned out to be. Perhaps because I dismissed that character from my mind almost 20 years ago but since reading The Red Queen I went back and re-read quite a bit of the book that introduces the character who turns out to the Destroyer and it’s actually quite well planned and clever in the way that it plays out through orchestrated manipulation. There’s no denying though that even though I thought that part was well planned I’m not overly sure it was as well executed as it could’ve been. It seemed almost rushed compared to the rest of the book where Elspeth took forever to escape Habitat and forever to get to the Red Land and forever to get to the showdown. I expected that to last much longer, to be a bigger portion of the book considering it was one of the end games, so it was a little surprising that it took the time that it did. It was full of interesting revelations and I wish I’d almost had more time to let them sink in, to stop and examine them instead of rushing.

I can’t talk about this series without talking about Elspeth and Rushton and how I’ve longed for them to finally be happy! The poor things, they’ve had quite the courtship – first poor Rushton had to deal with thinking Elspeth was dead (probably more than once), then she ran away from him every time he tried to talk to her and he thought she disdained him because he can’t access his powers or really use them in any useful way. By the time Elspeth figured she was ready, she thought Rushton had moved on, then he was kidnapped and tortured by Ariel and programmed to kill her. Then when they finally do get a chance to connect properly and physically, he asks her to bond with him officially and she has to leave on her final journey, the one that he knows nothing about because she’s forbidden to tell anyone. I re-read all their interactions as well since finishing this book and they take up a startlingly small amount of page space. In this one they don’t even cross paths until almost the end of the story and it makes me wonder how something has had such a major impact on me. But it has! Somehow Isobelle Carmody can say something in a couple of pages that has the impact of a thousand pages. The two of them are one of my favourite couples in literature and they needed  to be together.

I knew with a book like this, the ending was never going to be neat and tidy. There would be sadness, there would be some regret and some confusion. There are things that are tied up well and you can get a glimpse of how things will be in the future but there are a lot of things I wish I knew, that I wish I had more clarification on. Nevertheless, the ending satisfied me overall, even though I had questions. In finishing such an epic saga there will always be questions I think and those little things that you wonder about. I know one thing – I finished this book and immediately wanted to start it from the beginning again. To read it slower and more thoughtfully because I know I raced through it looking for the end and the answers to the questions I had before starting it. I want to be able to read the whole series as one, to put together all the little hidden clues and keys, the information at hand at one time instead of trying to remember or searching for it. A lot may complain about how long this book took coming but there’s no denying that it’s been an epic journey, one of the more richly detailed stories I’ve ever read. You only begin to realise how much detail there is late in the piece – it seems really quite simple when you first start out. Each volume gets a little more complex, a little more deep until the big picture is quite ginormous.

It’s been a fun ride. It’s taken up a large portion of my life, reading these books and awaiting the next installment and it honestly feels quite weird that it’s over now. I see that there is more than one door left open for Isobelle Carmody to revisit this world in the future, be it the Beforetime, the time of these stories or even the future, should she so choose and I’d be happy to pick up anything relating to this world. I’ve never gotten around to reading her other series, I believe fans of that one have been waiting almost as long as fans of Obernewtyn for its conclusion. Perhaps when it’s done, I will dive into it. There’s no denying that this is my biggest literary commitment – I doubt I will ever wait 20 years in the future to ever finish another series. It’s been many things – frustrating, heartbreaking but above all, pretty damn wonderful. It will always remain one of my favourite ever series of books and I think it says a lot that it’s held my interest for so long, from the time I was a teenager to being a woman in her thirties. I’m glad I got to experience it, the highs and lows.


Book #171 of 2015


The Red Queen is book #69 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge

1 Comment »

Review: Spirits Of The Ghan by Judy Nunn

Spirits Of The GhanSpirits Of The Ghan
Judy Nunn
Random House AUS
2015, 359p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {courtesy of the publisher/}:

It is 2001 and as the world charges into the new Millennium, a century-old dream is about to be realised in the Red Centre of Australia: the completion of the mighty Ghan railway, a long-lived vision to create the ‘backbone of the continent’, a line that will finally link Adelaide with the Top End.

But construction of the final leg between Alice Springs and Darwin will not be without its complications, for much of the desert it will cross is Aboriginal land.

Hired as a negotiator, Jessica Manning must walk a delicate line to reassure the Elders their sacred sites will be protected. Will her innate understanding of the spiritual landscape, rooted in her own Arunta heritage, win their trust? It’s not easy to keep the peace when Matthew Witherton and his survey team are quite literally blasting a rail corridor through the timeless land of the Never-Never.

When the paths of Jessica and Matthew finally cross, their respective cultures collide to reveal a mystery that demands attention. As they struggle against time to solve the puzzle, an ancient wrong is awakened and calls hauntingly across the vastness of the outback . . .

About four years ago I attended an author event with Judy Nunn at my local library. She’s a passionate and engaging speaker and I bought four of her books that day and acquired another 4 not long after. When I read that her latest book was going to be about the Ghan railway which finally connected Adelaide and Darwin by rail in 2004 I knew that I had to read it. I would love to travel on the Ghan – it takes 54 hours to go from Adelaide to Darwin and I can only imagine how different most of scenery when travelling through the middle must be to everything I’ve ever experienced. Like the east to west train the Indian-Pacific, travel on the Ghan is pretty pricey – enough to put it out of my price range. The cheapest option Adelaide – Darwin is about $2000 and considering I can fly to Darwin for probably less than $200 on a good day, the Ghan is clearly not about getting from A to B. It’s about the experience so onto the bucket list it goes, for hopefully one day when I can do it properly.

The extension of the railway from Alice Springs in the middle of Australia to Darwin in the north would’ve been a delicate operation probably not faced by the construction of the Adelaide to Alice section due to the negotiations that took place with Aboriginal elders. The tracks crossed through land given back to the indigenous people and there had to be numerous discussions about places of spiritual importance. The role of Jessica in the book is such a negotiator, a liason between the local people and the engineers and surveyor teams.

I found Jessica a fascinating character – a half Aboriginal, half Irish girl raised in Sydney’s inner west in the late 70s and 80s but also taught her mother’s mother tongue of Arunta. Described by her father as an ‘exotic mix’ Jess lost her mother at a young age but her father continued to foster her appreciation and connection to her heritage, taking her to find her mother’s relatives when she finished school. She’d already made the decision to study her culture at university and becoming more connected to it was just confirmation that she was doing the right thing. I really enjoyed learning a little bit about some of the culture of the local indigenous groups, such as the way in which courtesies were observed during meetings as well as some of the things they found important and sacred.

Woven in is the tale of an event that happened in the late 1800’s and the way in which it comes to impact on the modern day story was really interesting. At first I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my sort of thing, because I tend towards practicality rather than spirituality but the way in which it unfolded just became so intriguing that I ended up getting right into it. I appreciated the different elements that Nunn incorporated into this part of the story, such as the Afghan cameleers who are such a big part of the history of central Australia.

Spirits of the Ghan is written with sensitivity and respect to Aboriginal beliefs and culture. The setting is vividly described  – despite having never visited the centre I found it easy to picture the construction of the Ghan as well as what some of the sacred sites described might look like. I liked Jess and Matt’s interactions, although it does take a while for their parts of the book to come together.

Now I really need to get to the rest of my Judy Nunn books, which are still sitting patiently on my TBR shelf. It’s so hard to find time to read old books when new ones keep showing up! But with every book of hers I read, I realise how well she can construct a story and I definitely need to get to the others. Going to make it a reading resolution for 2016 to read a couple from her backlist!


Book #169 of 2015


Spirits of the Ghan  is book #67 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015


Leave a comment »

Review: If I Kissed You by Louise Reynolds

If I Kissed YouIf I Kissed You
Louise Reynolds
Penguin Books AUS
2015, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {courtesy the publisher/}:

Raised by a pair of hopeless hippies, Nell Connor had to grow up quickly. But now her father, awash in whisky, has handed her the reins of his Irish pub. After obliterating every trace of Ireland, Nell has transformed it into a smart, and trendy bar. Business is booming but, outside of work, things aren’t going so smoothly.

When gorgeous musician Declan Gaffney arrives, it’s clear he’s definitely not Nell’s type. He’s Irish (therefore must be feckless and unreliable), he sings romantic Irish ballads (which Nell hates) and his nomadic lifestyle reminds her of some of the most painful parts of her childhood.

After Declan helps Nell out of a tricky situation, her father takes a shine to him and starts matchmaking. And when her aura-reading mother turns up, Nell’s carefully ordered life is thrown into chaos. She’s losing control but the biggest shock of all is yet to come …

In a story that shines a light on the unusual forms family can take, Nell must accept that sometimes love takes you in unexpected directions.

Romance is always my “go-to” when I’m not sure what I want to read so I requested this from NetGalley thinking it would be perfect for my mood – and it was! It’s set in Melbourne, where I live in a suburb I’m pretty familiar with and enjoy going to.

Nell has been handed the keys to her father’s old pub but she’s made sure that she’s changed it completely. No longer a place for drunken fights and old blokes propping up the bar all day, it’s now a smart pub with a good chef and entertaining live music. She’s proud of what she’s achieved and how she’s managed to move on from the days when the police were regular visitors. Nell’s dream does wobble a little when Declan Gaffney turns up instead of the musician she had booked. Declan is Irish – fiddle, blarney, lilting words Irish and Nell doesn’t want any of that. He’s also incredibly good looking and as she finds out, can handle himself in a scrap when a couple of drunk businessmen cause trouble.

But more than anything, Nell craves security and stability. Her father is a slave to the drink, always misty-eyed and dreaming of Ireland despite the fact he wasn’t actually born there. He wallows in the culture of Ireland, reading Irish literature, drinking Irish whiskey and waxing lyrical about the music and how it brings a tear to the eye. Nell’s mother is a ‘free-spirit’ who flits in and out changing her name with each new fad that she embraces. Nell’s childhood was disrupted and erratic and now that she’s an adult she seeks to distance herself from all of it. She has a respectable, classy establishment and a respectable and hard working boyfriend. Okay, so they don’t see each other that often but they both work hard and have goals.

Declan threatens Nell’s ideals. He’s Irish, which she wants to avoid like the plague and Declan hasn’t told her exactly what sort of Irish he is which is even worse. Declan has never really put down roots, something that frightens Nell enormously, having been dragged around by her mother who doesn’t believe in roots either. I liked the way Declan challenged Nell to step outside of her comfort zone and the safe life she had built for herself. I understand her need to have that security but it was clear that it was also at the expense of anything wild and fun as well. Declan encourages Nell to live a little, to embrace her fun side. Not everything is about work and building the future, sometimes it’s just about the now and the having a good time…and that sort of stuff can lead to more. I felt for Nell, her mother is truly a despicable sort of person, utterly self absorbed and uncaring of the impact that selfishness had on Nell as a child and still was having as an adult. Nell’s father had his flaws too and the Irish stuff was laid on a bit thick but I think that at least he cared for Nell’s wellbeing and happiness and he wanted good things for her. He also knew that mistakes had been made in her upbringing and was willing to shoulder the responsibility for some of those. He was a bit of a wily old bloke and the scene where he ‘falls’ and needs specific sort of help, setting poor Nell up, is very funny.

Not only is this a super enjoyable read but I learned quite a bit too about the Irish travelers. It was great to read about them, don’t come across them too often in contemporary fiction and it made for an interesting point of potential conflict between Declan and Nell.


Book #166 of 2015


If I Kissed You is book #65 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015


Leave a comment »

Review: Rain Music by Di Morrissey

Rain MusicRain Music
Di Morrissey
Pan Macmillan AUS
2015, 384p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {courtesy of the publisher/}:

Di writes about the Australia she knows, she loves, she’s explored.

Rain Music is inspired by her adventures in far north Queensland – its characters, its forgotten history, its modern dilemmas.

A brother and sister, Ned and Bella Chisholm, are struggling with a family tragedy that has set them on opposite paths. After Ned takes off to pursue his musical dreams in far north Queensland, he disappears. When Bella goes in search of her brother, she ends up in remote Cooktown and both their lives are dramatically changed in the isolated, little-known far north of Australia.

One story through two sets of eyes.

Although I read a lot of Australian authors (and specifically, a lot of Australian female authors) I’ve had a bit of a goal to attempt to broaden the locations of books I’m reading. There are always plenty of books set in Melbourne or Sydney but I’m always looking for ones set in places I’ve never been. Di Morrissey’s books are pretty much always good for that. She chooses many and varied local settings and her latest book, Rain Music is no exception, set in the lush tropical north part of Queensland around Cooktown. For the uninitiated, Cooktown is about 2000kms north of Brisbane.

Bella Chisholm lives in Melbourne and her deceased father is about to receive a great honour. She desperately wants her brother Ned, a drifter musician to return to Melbourne for the event but Ned is proving extremely elusive to track down via phone. Bella decides to take some annual leave and travel north to find Ned, unaware that the journey she takes will also help her find herself.

Bella and Ned provide alternating points of view in this story, each with their own very distinctive voice and personality. They were once close siblings but time and distance has stretched their relationship. Both of them are quite different – Bella has always done what was expected of her, she has a steady job and lives not too far from their widowed mother in Victoria. Ned on the other hand shrugged off their surgeon father’s expectations and threw his life into music. Although he’s produced one CD, he now spends most of his time travelling around playing gigs in pubs and the like, although recently he’s been motivated to really write something with meaning. He plans to use his time spent in the remote north to accomplish this and has little interest in returning to Victoria for the ceremony honouring his father.

The furthest north I’ve ever been is the Sunshine Coast, which although feels quite far given I now live in Victoria all the way at the bottom of the country, still leaves a lot of unexplored country. I really enjoyed reading about Cooktown and some of the surrounding areas as well as some of the places Bella visits as she makes her way north in her attempt to find Ned. There’s quite a lot about the history of the area dating right back to the days it was mostly plantations and a way for the masses rushing in for the goldfields. Woven into the modern day story is a historical one which unfolds through a series of letters that Ned encounters at a local museum as well as a story told to Bella by a local. When Ned and Bella eventually meet up they begin to put the pieces they have together to come as close as they can to the whole.

Having a brother myself and living some distance away from him (about 1200kms) I found myself relating quite well to the sibling relationship between Ned and Bella. I at times, understood Bella’s frustration at Ned’s disappearing and his lack of keeping in touch but at the same time, I also understood Ned’s need for freedom and the strong conviction he had to follow his own path and do what he wanted to do. It becomes quite obvious quite soon on that Ned has a specific reason for not wanting to attend the ceremony and it’s something he wishes to shield Bella from, should she allow him. Bella however is quite the terrier, demanding and picking and needling Ned until he confesses to her, knowing that what he tells her will change her perceptions and feelings on many things. From that however, the two of them do reach a new place, no secrets and a better understanding of the choices they have each made. I also really liked Bella’s journey of her own self-discovery, allowing her to finally make decisions about her own future.

Rain Music was a very engaging story that did a wonderful job of showcasing its setting. I enjoyed it a lot.


Book #167 of 2015


Rain Music is book #66 of the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015

Leave a comment »

Review: Summer And The Groomsman by Cathryn Hein

Summer And The GroomsmanSummer And The Groomsman
Cathryn Hein
2015, eBook
Copy courtesy of the author

Blurb {courtesy the author/}

It’s Levenham’s wedding of the year but unlucky-in-love Harry Argyle has more on his mind than being groomsman.

After yet again nearly colliding with an escaped horse while driving home to the family farm, Harry Argyle comes face-to-face with its pretty owner, and doesn’t hold back his disapproval.

Confronted by a bad-tempered giant on a dark country road, beautician and new arrival in town Summer Taylor doesn’t know who to be more afraid for: herself or her darling horse Binky. It’s not her fault Binky keeps escaping. The alcoholic owner of the paddock she rents won’t fix the fence and Binky can be sneaky when it comes to filling his stomach. But no matter how big and muscled the bully, she refuses to be intimidated.

When Harry’s wedding party book a session at the day spa where Summer works, both she and Harry are horrified to be paired together. Grudgingly, they agree to make the most of it – only for the session to spiral into disaster. Realising he’s made a dill of himself in front of sweet Summer yet again, Harry vows to set things right.

Summer isn’t about to easily forgive the man who called her horse stupid, no matter how brave and kind, but with everyone on Harry’s side, even fate, resistance is hard. Can these two find love or will Summer’s wayward horse put his hoof in it again?

Aussie rural romance author Cathryn Hein steps into the self-publishing arena with this sweet little romantic novella set in a world with some familiar faces for regular readers of her books.

The characters in this novel are so fun and it was awesome watching them evolve, even though the story is quite brief. Harry Argyle is less than impressed when he finds a horse on the road late at night and he doesn’t waste much time letting the horse’s pretty owner have it. Despite this early introduction into Harry’s temper, he’s really quite a softie and almost immediately regrets his outburst and wants to make it up to Summer, the horse’s owner. Before he can however, he finds himself at Summer’s mercy when the men of the wedding party Harry is participating in are booked in at the local spa and Summer is one of the beauticians.

Even though I kind of suspected what might happen to poor Harry in this scene but it was still so hilarious to read and it played out really well. The scene is kept light and funny with just a touch of the humiliation for poor Harry but it also helps them find new ground and begin to move forward from their previous encounter on the road at night. What follows is a very sweet, awkward and realistic courtship in a way. That’s quite an old-fashioned word to use for a contemporary romance but it fits. Harry is lovely, definitely a typical Hein hero, very much a country boy with a very gentle nature who gets embarrassed quite easily!

Summer Taylor is new in town and just wants a safe option for her beloved horse when she’s at work. I thought the story of the man who owned the property Summer agisted her horse on was very well woven into the story and he became a character you really came to care for the more you read about him. Summer had her reasons for wanting to look after him, perhaps going that extra mile when a lot of the other locals had dropped off, however some come to rally around to help when he really needs it and it became an integral part of the story that helped bring Summer and Harry closer together as well as showcase more of the small community.

I really enjoyed this cute and fun little romance with a very professional polish. Summer and Harry are amazingly sweet and very easy to relate to and it was nice to see those few familiar faces and get to be a part of something special with characters from a previous story.


Book #156 of 2015


Summer And The Groomsman is book #64 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2015

1 Comment »

Review: Harlot by Victoria Dahl

Victoria Dahl
2015, eBook
Copy courtesy of the author via NetGalley

Blurb {courtesy of the author/}:

He came home to marry an angel…
After working in the gold fields of California for two years, Caleb Hightower has come home to marry his childhood sweetheart, Jessica Willoughby. But when he returns, Caleb learns his refined bride-to-be is now a whore. Enraged by her betrayal, he can’t reconcile this shameless woman with the sweet innocent he once deeply loved—but Caleb knows what to do with a harlot. He’s determined to get everything from her that she’s sold to other men. And he’s prepared to pay for the pleasure of his revenge.

But all he found was sin.
Left penniless after her father’s death, Jess made a deal with a devil. Now she must face her first love, whose scorn is no match for her regret. To make amends, she’ll let Caleb quench his rage with her body. Their bargain strips them down to searing passion and naked vulnerability, and Jess can still glimpse her loving Caleb buried deep inside this rough cowboy. In the end, an unbearable truth emerges that could push them toward forgiveness…or could destroy their fragile bond forever.

I quite enjoy Victoria Dahl’s contemporary romance novels so when I saw this I was intrigued. The title is quite attention-grabbing and a switch in genres to erotic Western also piqued my interest.

Caleb and Jessica had a teenage understanding, despite their different upbringings. She was the daughter of an educated doctor, refined and elegant whereas he had worked the land from the time he was a boy. Despite Jessica’s protestations, he leaves her to seek his fortune working the goldfields in California so that he might be able to keep her in the lifestyle to which she has been accustomed. At first Jessica wrote to him and when the letters ceased, he decided that he’d better get back and find out just what is going on with his girl. It takes him a while, but there’s whispers that his beloved Jessica is now a whore, working at a house on the outskirts of town where a man had better have good coin to afford it.

Caleb is understandably horrified that his love has taken up this new role – but that doesn’t stop him wanting to buy what the marriage bed would’ve given him for free. He wants to punish Jessica, degrade her in every way possible but as he doesn’t understand the circumstances behind Jessica’s choice (and doesn’t really stop to ask at first) all he manages to do is show them both that their feelings for each other are still strong and even as he’s trying to hate her, he’s still loving her.

This isn’t a very long story and because of that, it was difficult to really develop the conflict. Everything moves at quite a rapid pace and instead of the reader being given a really fleshed out background with Jessica and Caleb, all we get are a few vague memories. I quite liked Jessica and I think she was portrayed as a strong character who knew she had little in the way of options and after her father died and did what she could to stay with her head above water. However I definitely think she could’ve been explored in more depth – her best scenes come at the end of the story when she’s questioning Caleb on his choices and prejudices and it’s there where her strength really shows. For most of the rest of the book she’s definitely more submissive to him, perhaps this is driven by guilt, that she’s made this choice based on information she was given. I think that a lot of Jessica’s story was glossed over, especially the impact on her on what it must’ve been like after she lost her father, her changed circumstances and the way in which she was treated.

Caleb was less likable but as a reader, you have to try put yourself within the context of the story and the ‘wild West’ as such is a very different time to what we know with incredibly different attitudes and roles for men and women. It takes him a while to see how few Jessica’s options truly were and how hypocritical his own behaviour is, even when called out on it by Jessica. To his credit though, he does eventually see although I’m not overly sure how realistic that is for the time and setting. When he finds out the true extent of what has happened to Jessica to force this decision upon her, he also doesn’t indulge in victim blaming and he knows exactly who is that has brought about these events. Quite a lot of angst could probably have been avoided if Jessica had been honest with Caleb from the very beginning about her circumstances, instead of keeping quiet on it and leaving Caleb to discover the truth himself. But in order for Caleb to buy Jessica’s services, he had to believe the stories being put around about her.

I thought this was certainly an interesting take on an erotic romance and I enjoyed it for its differences from the sort of romances and erotic stories I’d been reading. I think the opportunity was there to go a bit deeper though and flesh out both the main characters a little more.


Book #165 of 2015

Leave a comment »

Review: Operation Foreplay by Christine Hughes

Operation ForeplayOperation Foreplay
Christine Hughes
Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
2015, 352p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {courtesy of the publisher/}


Melody Ashford hates waiting for anything-especially sex. But after a disastrous affair and a one-nighter with Mr. Micropenis, Mel realizes she’s suffering from some bad bedroom juju. And no amount of hot, casual, or friends-with-benefits hookups is going to fix it. Instead, Mel’s decided to resist the demands of her ladyparts.

Saying no might have been no problem . . . except that her temporary roommate, Jared Myers, is all kinds of hot male sex on a stick. Now Mel is consumed by all manner of dirty thoughts, and remembering why she decided to “go slow” is getting harder and harder . . .

I picked this to read because it looked fun but I ended up struggling with it quite a lot. If I never have to hear the term “lady-boner” again in my life, I will be happy. Obviously the author heard it somewhere and thought it was hilarious – and maybe it is, dropped once or twice.

Melody Ashford loves sex and has quite a lot of it – good for her. Most of the sex she’s having is with her married boss, not so cool. In an attempt to get over that she picks up random strangers in bars, including the one with the referred to Micropenis. Melody’s friends seem a bit bored with her sex life and they challenge her to take it slow, to give up sex for a while and just enjoy the foreplay, the build up. In other words, stop gorging yourself on McDonalds and maybe go out for a nice steak.

Melody’s friend dumps her brother on Melody while her apartment is being fumigated without even asking her, giving her brother a key to Melody’s one bedroom apartment and when Melody comes home, it’s to be greeted by a naked Jared. I think this scene is supposed to be funny but it kind of just struck me as all types of wrong. You’re a guest in her apartment….and neither you nor your sister had the decency to actually ask her properly before just moving in. Rude. And then you wander around the place naked, which is not exactly how it’s polite to behave in someone else’s home. But it’s billed as okay, because Jared is hot. Like, super hot. Really, really hot. TOTALLY HOT. I get it, but I still don’t think it makes much of a difference. It was weird. And a bit creepy.

For a sex freak, Melody reverts to a shrieking Victorian virgin when confronted with naked Jared and there’s a clumsy attempt to make her reluctant to hook up with him because she might possibly like him. The thing is Melody and Jared bicker like thirteen year olds and it’s really annoying. Also, Jared continually references how much Melody secretly wants him which is pretty much the least attractive thing that anyone can do, ever.

Whilst I thought the idea of slowing down, enjoying the build up and holding off on the actual sex was fun, it was so overblown in practice that it just makes me laugh. Melody says she won’t have sex until her birthday which is about two weeks away but you’d swear it was about two decades the way she carried on. She complained like it was air or water that she was being forced to go without and the constant whining about how horny she was and her lady-boner just got on my nerves. It really took away from any chemistry that might have been established because it was all about the desperation to have sex and how agonising it was to wait this looooooong period of time, not to just enjoy the journey there.


Book #159 of 2015

Leave a comment »

October Reading Wrap Up

Total Books Read: 18
Fiction: 18
Non-Fiction: 0
Library Books: 0
Books On My TBR List: 0
Books in a Series: 10
Authors I’d Never Read Before: 9
Male/Female Authors: 0/18
Kindle Books: 13
Books I Owned or Bought: 9
Favourite Book(s): Every Move by Ellie Marney, So Far Into You by Lily Malone
Least Favourite Book(s):  Operation Foreplay by Christine Hughes, Wrong by Jana Aston
Books That Qualify For Challenges: 6

Well it’s been a while since I did one of these. In fact, scrolling back through my archives I haven’t done a wrap up post since April’s reads. Blogging kind of fell by the wayside in June for a few months but I’ve been attempting to get back to some sort of regular posting schedule in the last couple weeks. I’m not quite there yet as there are still a lot of external things going on with my husband’s health but hopefully in the next couple of weeks we should know more about what’s going to be happening.

I have still been reading but I’ve found my attention span a bit lacking and so I’ve been raiding iBooks and the like for the freebies. My tastes at the moment have been running to quick stories I can finish in one sitting and move on from and that is sometimes good, because you can score some really good freebies when there are deals and the book of the week but sometimes it’s bad because to be honest, there’s a lot of rubbish there and you kind of have to wade through and see what works for you and what just needs to be clicked into oblivion right away. I can’t tell you how many books I downloaded, started and then discarded because I disliked them intensely.

However it wasn’t all bleak – I did read a handful of really good books in October: After You, by Jojo Moyes the follow up to her wildly successful and utterly heartbreaking Me Before You, Charlotte Wood’s creepy The Natural Way of Things, the very sweet romance So Far Into You by Lily Malone and the brilliant Every Move by Ellie Marney which rounded out the Every trilogy which I loooved. So yay for the bright spots.

November is going to be fantabulous for at least one reason already. In just over a week, The Red Queen by Isobelle Carmody will arrive in bookstores and the Obernewtyn series will finally be complete. I’ve been reading these books since I was 14….which is, quite horrifyingly, almost 20 years. There are many who have been reading them longer than me. I cannot wait to see how it all ends and I’m hoping that my little local bookstore will have copies I can go and get on release day. In fact I’m going to drop in and ask if I pre-order it, will it be here on release day. And then I will spend however long it takes me to devour that 1000p behemoth without being disturbed. Well okay not really, because these days I have kids and stuff and they have annoying needs like food and whatever.

Onward to a good reading month and hopefully, more blog posts! My goal is to get at least 2 reviews up a week for this month. Let’s see how I go!



Review: Carry On By Rainbow Rowell

Carry OnCarry On
Rainbow Rowell
Pan Macmillan AUS
2015, 517p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {courtesy of the publisher/}

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

If you’ve read Rainbow Rowell’s novel Fangirl then you might remember that main character Cath was writing fan fiction whilst awaiting the final novel in a fantasy series that she and her sister had been reading since they were children. Although I’ve never read Harry Potter, the series of novels Cath had been reading seemed quite similar but Cath and many others in the fandom were rather devoted to a romance between the series’ protagonist Simon Snow and his sort of nemesis/the antagonist, Simon’s room mate Baz. There are some lengthy scenes in Fangirl, from Cath’s fanfiction work which enabled readers to piece together a lot of the Simon and Baz story and it seems those characters stayed in Rainbow Rowell’s mind because in her latest novel, Carry On, we get the final chapter of the Simon and Baz story.

I have to admit, I did have a few reservations about this one. When I heard that Rowell was writing it, I figured that it was a bit too meta – a book based on the fan fiction series of another series loosely based on a set of books within another book by the author. But when it turned up I figured hey it’s Rainbow Rowell and I’ve loved nearly everything I’ve read from her before (with the exception of Landline, which really was a disappointment to me). So I gave it a go and in some ways, I was pleasantly surprised. I found Simon an engaging voice, his clumsiness and mistakes and awkwardness were real and he was sort of the least likely hero – like an average person who happened to randomly have magical ability.

However, because this is supposed to be an established world, it did take me a little bit to figure out what was going on and where Simon was going and what was happening and why were things trying to kill him. It’s been a couple of years since I read Fangirl and I probably should’ve skimmed it to refamiliarise myself with the Simon and Baz story, which was really only a bit-part to Cath’s journey. There’s some referencing to past moments and events in the first 100 pages, things that we are supposed to already know so you kind of have to muddle your way through a bit of that. Because of that, Carry On is a pretty long novel – over 500p. Also Baz is missing for the first 170+ pages or so of this book and I’m not entirely convinced that really worked. Simon comes off as almost unhinged in parts of those 170+ pages obsessing over where Baz is and basically devoting every waking thought to him but there’s a distinct lack of understanding about why he is so obsessed with Baz. Baz (when he appears) at least knows why he’s obsessed with Simon and making his life a misery and wallowing in it. But Simon is utterly oblivious, right up until the moment which was a bit weird.

I really enjoyed the chapters from Baz’s point of view – in fact they were by far my favourite parts of the whole book. I love that Rowell gave us such a glimpse into his character and his feelings, because for the first 170p while he’s not around, you only have Simon’s deep-seated obsession to go on and the fact that Baz has tried to kill him a few times in the past. Then he arrives and you get to be in his head and he’s really interesting. I actually wish his thoughts made up more of the story. I liked Simon as well, but I found Baz a more complex character, a little bit ‘meatier’ and more enjoyable to analyse. Simon was so straight forward, like here I am, I’m a bit of a mess! but Baz had lots of layers to him. I didn’t expect to like him all that much, but I ended up loving him.

I enjoyed the story, despite feeling as though I was missing part of it at times. I just feel that there was some wasted opportunity with this book. If Rowell was going to give a Simon/Baz story, there could’ve been more. More scenes from the beginning, more of their antagonistic battles, more of Baz and his struggle. It felt like a lot of things were merely glossed over when there was opportunity to dive in and really explore. This book is so long but really, there are huge patches where nothing really happens – like the first 170 pages where Simon basically spends 6wks wondering where Baz is and why he hasn’t returned to school. I didn’t feel like we were given enough a lot of the time and that the reader was just kinda supposed to fill in the blanks. I’m not saying I didn’t like it, I think it was a solid read and I enjoyed it whilst reading but since I finished I’ve been reflecting on it a lot while I was thinking of what I was going to write in my review and I’m seeing more and more where the author could’ve built the world in more detail and fleshed out the characters and the conflicts a little more. Simon’s girlfriend felt like literally a waste of space and there were various others that were little more than cardboard cutouts.


Book #157 of 2015

Leave a comment »

Review: Bound By Their Love by Nicole Flockton

Bound By Their LoveBound By Their Love (Bound #3)
Nicole Flockton
Harlequin Escape Australia
2015, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Blurb {courtesy of the publisher/}

Reclusive, exclusive and world renowned, Jeffrey Courteux might get a lot of attention for his exquisite jewellery, but he keeps his personal life under tight wraps. His solitary life fuels his creativity and keeps him sane, and he’s not willing to give it up — until a pair of sexy legs in killer heels makes hiding away less appealing than it used to be…

Smart, driven and ambitious, Greta Adamas knows she’s the only suitable candidate for vice president of her family’s advertising firm. Landing the Jeffrey Courteux account for his new line of jewellery will only catapult her to the upper echelons of the advertising world, and nothing will keep her from achieving her dreams — not even the overwhelmingly attractive designer who won’t leave her thoughts…

Mixing business with pleasure is always a potent cocktail, but one with consequences. What happens when two people who know what they want suddenly want something completely different — and completely out of their reach?

Bound By Their Love is the third in Nicole Flockton’s ‘Bound’ series. I’ve read the first book before but I somehow missed the second book but overall, it doesn’t really matter. Although characters from the previous two books do appear in this one, you can quite easily read it without having read any of the others. Given I read the first one, it was rather nice to get a glimpse of Luciano and Jasmine again.

But this isn’t their story, it’s the story of Luciano’s friend Jeffrey Courteux, a jewelry designer and Greta Adamas, who works for her father’s advertising firm. Greta has been striving to prove herself to her father ever since she joined the company but her father always seems to overlook her in favour of another (male) worker. Greta has the opportunity to pitch for a huge account, going against her co-worker and she’s determined to land this and show her father that she deserves to take over when he retires.

Greta is smart and ambitious but her father seems to just pat her on the head like she’s just coloured in a particularly pretty picture and then walk away. He has highly outdated and quite sexist views of women in the workforce and seems to be merely indulging Greta with a job until she gets married, quits and pops out babies “as women always do”. Greta doesn’t have much desire to do either and spends a lot of her time trying to convince her father she’s a good choice.

Jeffrey is a reclusive designer who is showcasing a special collection at the request of his friend Luc and both he and Greta are rather surprised at Greta’s pitch to realise that they’ve met before without realising who the other was. Although it was an instant attraction, it was complicated by certain things and now Greta is paranoid that her colleague will have personal ammunition to use against her with her father. Greta’s campaign is by far the most imaginative and creative and when Luciano and Jeffrey make their choice, they both know that they’ll have to work closely with Greta to avoid any interference from her father and her colleague. That throws Greta and Jeffrey into very close contact and it seems that both of them are incapable of resisting mixing business with pleasure.

Although I felt their early interaction was quite brief before what resulted, I quite enjoyed the aftermath when they discover each other’s identities and then Jeffrey arranges for Greta to come and work on aspects of her campaign up where he designs and creates his jewelry. It’s very remote and the two of them get a chance to learn more about the other, including the terrible secret that haunts Jeffrey so much and is the reason for a lot of his self-imposed isolation. They really do connect but it’s also not without issues and complications, several of which are furthered when Greta returns to Perth from Jeffrey’s home and I thought that all played out very well. Greta’s frustrations and disappointments in her father are written with sensitivity and her desire to prove herself wars nicely with her fear that people may assume she got the job showcasing Jeffrey’s jewelry for all of the wrong reasons.

Bound By Their Love is a polished romance with enjoyable characters with well fleshed out backstories. I really liked Greta and Jeffrey the further I got into the book and the complications of Greta’s father and Jeffrey’s secrets made for just enough to give the couple conflict but not enough to take over the story. The little hints we got in this book of Nick and Pamela’s story (book #2) has made me definitely keen to go back and read that one now. Will have to track it down.


Book #152 of 2015


Leave a comment »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,871 other followers