Thursday, 5 March 2015

Review: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

After four years (more if you count the original Vampire Academy series,) Richelle Mead's Bloodlines series has drawn to a close. Sydney and Adrian have now married, their relationship just barely accepted by the Maroi, who are forced to provide shelter for Sydney, who is wanted by the Alchemists. Meanwhile, Jill has been kidnapped and the only person who knows where she is being held is an old enemy of Sydney and Jackie Terwilliger ...

I found The Ruby Circle to be well, a bit of an anti-climax. Although at least some of the endings were appropriate (yay for Eddie and Jill,) but I feel that there were a few too many subplots and none of the major themes of the series were addressed nearly as well as they could have been--Adrian's use of Spirit being perhaps the most obvious example. That said, there are some fun moments, such as when Sydney is turned into a cat. And we also make a surprise discovery about Dimitri. 

Not my preferred ending to a much-like series, but recommended to those who have read the series from the beginning. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Ian Lipke

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I am chatting with Australian author Ian Lipke. 

Tell me a bit about yourself …

I became a teacher of primary children in 1958, transferring to secondary schools in 1964. I have taught in schools in remote and metropolitan areas of Queensland, Australia.

I left school teaching in 1977 to lecture at the University of Queensland and at Queensland University of Technology.

Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s I was a deputy principal at several high schools, before retiring to run my own tutoring business.

In 2006 I returned to postgraduate studies through research at the University of Queensland, gaining an M.Phil in the process.

I have co-written two textbooks for older school children, and at the time of writing, I am the immediate past president and current secretary to the Management Committee of the University of the Third Age, Brisbane.

I am also the editor of the ‘words’ section on Reviews – Media Culture a publication of QUT's (Queensland University of Technology) Creative Industries Precinct.

I have a wife, two children, and two grandchildren.

My self-published novels include Nargun and Nathan, a two part series focused on Australian aborigines in the nineteenth century and their troubled relations with white settlers, crime procedural novels called Lest Evil Prevail and A Killer Calls. I have an unpublished boy meets girl meets monster type novel called Trickle.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

This is A Killer Calls. A girl, daughter of an anal-retentive father is forced into teacher training by his indomitable will. She meets Blue, a policeman in training and falls in love. She ditches teaching and becomes a police constable attached to a suburban police station. She is raped on the job. Blue and his girlfriend Michelle, investigate. The tale becomes a dig beneath the surface of a city to find the muck that law and order rest on. Searching through the gangsters and the conmen, Blue and Michelle find a murderer much closer to home than they could have imagined.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

Omitting the textbooks my first book published was Nargun, the story of a fictitious aboriginal warrior who led the fight against early nineteenth century white settlers. It is a love story and a study in cross-cultural relations too. Five years in the writing, ten years in a drawer, the book was resurrected by a friend who insisted I self-publish.

As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?

My answer to that would have to be Lest Evil Prevail. Several critics gave it a big thumbs up. One has included his critique on Amazon. The book generated a small amount of interest when it was published by a press in the USA. It has gained greater sales since I moved my books to and CreateSpace.

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

Just this morning I finished Trickle, a story of a little dog whose fighting qualities inspired a boy and a girl to stand against evil, and overcome a monster that had escaped from the pages of Greek mythology to bring evil to the modern world.

Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?

Paper books every time. I love the smell of a newly opened book, and I love to sit and marvel at the books I have in my extensive library.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Traditional publishing…but I have never been lucky enough to have a publisher accept my manuscript. The competition is ridiculously tight. We’re forced into indie publishing.

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

Musth by Australian writer Fred Guilhaus. It is fresh and original, and is home grown.

Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

Love, sex and a sense of adventure are the key elements in a good fictional story. Adelaide is especially blessed because Wakefield Press is on your doorstep. This publisher produces fictional books that serve up all three human emotions and, what is more, they produce non-fictional books of world standard…if only they would publish my books.


Lest Evil Prevail:



A Killer Calls:

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Review: Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis

A nation with a rich history and a deep sense of culture that is sadly eclipsed by war, politics and religious fundamentalism makes for an interesting backdrop for this story of two young women who follow their hearts and pay a heavy price for love.

The year is 1988 and the place is Iran. For many years now, Iran has been at war with Iraq and the Iranian government keeps strict control over their people. Fifteen year old Farrin has lived a relatively privileged life compared to her peers. She is the daughter of a wealthy builder and her mother is a r has decided to remain loyal to the over-thrown (and dead,) Shah. Farrin is able to access many banned things through the black market and knows that she must keep a low profile at school, lest her family's secrets be discovered by the revolutionary guard. But Farrin's life changes unexpectedly when she is befriended by a new girl at school. Soon, their friendship blossoms in to something much more deeper and unexpected ... but in Iran homosexuality is illegal and the punishment is death.

Although this one is pitched at a younger audience (early teens,) I found myself drawn to it almost immediately and both intrigued and saddened by a story where two beautiful and intelligent young women have their lives ruined by a misplaced sense of right and wrong. Canadian author Deborah Ellis paints a vivid portrait of Iran--a country with such a deep and rich history and culture, but where the residents day-to-day lives are governed by strict rules and regulations. Diversity is not welcomed and obedience is important. The ending was utterly heartbreaking--two lives are ruined, two intelligent and hard working young women who could have gone on to do great things--through the lawmakers fear of anything or anyone who is different. Ellis is an engaging storyteller, who was apparently inspired to write the book after she was approached by a woman who had spent her early years in Iran. 

A beautiful and engaging read. Highly recommended.

This book was read as part of the Eclectic Reader Challenge 2015 

Category: Featuring Diversity

Progress 2/12

Monday, 2 March 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

Visitors to Glenelg will be familiar with this monument which stands tall and proud at the western end of Moseley Square. The monument is to celebrate--or perhaps commiserate, remember many wrongs were done to the traditional owners of the land--the day that South Australia was proclaimed a colony on 28 December 1836 at this place. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Newsflash! Poison Ivy Now Available For Sale

Great news. My seventh novel, Poison Ivy is now available for sale. Poison Ivy is a short, engaging YA novella about a young woman who, in a fit temper, does the wrong thing and finds herself arrested and charged. In the story, Ivy goes back and recounts the events that led up to her actions and we discover that there is a real back story leading up to the event. What I enjoyed about writing this one was coming up with a character who may have done a bad thing, but who was not in herself a bad person and had suffered a surprising number of setbacks for a young woman who had lived a supposedly privileged middle-class existence. 

A few deeper issues play in the background--Ivy's mother is living with HIV, her younger sister was also HIV positive and died after she became depressed and secretly stopped taking her medication. Sexuality is another theme--although Ivy is comfortable with her sexuality, many of the people around her are not, including her former best friend and her sister's new boyfriend--and this discomfort from both--and how they react to Ivy--forms the foundation that leads up to the terrible event. 

There is also a bit on books and book reviewing in there, which might seem surprising, given the other themes in the book. (Ivy writes a less than stellar review of a book and leaves it on a popular website and the author of the book--who is her sister's boyfriend, comes to her house and demands that she takes it down.) I've been wanting to write something on book reviews for a while, because they are so personal, and so subjective. Reviews are, of course, essentially based on opinions and experiences. Sometimes we agree with other people's reviews and sometimes we disagree. For a reviewer, there is nothing more insulting than being asked to remove a review. On the other hand, Henry, who has authored the book, has to go through his own experiences of learning and understanding that other people may not necessarily value his book nearly as much as he does, which is a tough learning kerb for him. Anyway, I think that the ending is appropriate and will be interested to see whether readers agree or disagree with me on that one.

Poison Ivy is now available to purchase as both print and as an eBook from Amazon and should be available from other retailers in the next few days.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

1980s Nostalgia: The Twits by Roald Dahl

I decided to pick up Roald Dahl's clever The Twits again and go on a bit of a nostalgia trip after reading Danny Champion of the World recently and also Dahl's autobiography, Boy. In this short, clever book for children there is a lot of humour as Dahl depicts the gross and ghastly behaviours of Mr and Mrs Twit. Dahl dislike of beards is obvious (Mr Twit has a shocker,) and the eventual revenge that both the monkeys and the birds get on this horrible pair is as perfect as it is hilarious. And so too are Quentin Blake's illustrations.

I wish that I could add more to this one, but it is what it is. Some books don't require in depth discussion and recommendations, they exist to be enjoyed. Anyway, this one is great for a nostalgia trip and also great for sharing with primary school aged children.

Highly recommended.