Sunday, 29 November 2015

Off Topic: Socially Awkward Men

Okay, hands up! Who remembers that classic Bond film that opens with our beloved employee of Her Majesty's Secret Service singlehandedly shooting half a dozen powerful Russian spies before returning to headquarters where he encounters the plainish yet intelligent Moneypenny who is, of course, completely smitten with Bond, despite the fact that she's not really his type and their relationship is strictly professional. Of course, Moneypenny swoons when she sees Bond who--wait for it--stares at her, laughs and makes some vomiting noises before shouting, "Spew, Moneypenny wants me!" and running out of the room in complete and utter terror.

Of course, you have not seen that Bond film. Because such a thing would never happen. Bond is the ultimate fantasy of an alpha male. He's tough, smart and--perhaps this is the most important bit--Bond has class.

Bond is also not real, which may explain why some men have difficulty following his example.

It never ceases to amaze me how many grown adults actually fear the thought that somebody who they are neither interested in, nor attracted to, might be attracted to them. Granted, there are many, many more people out there would could not give a shit that someone is attracted to them, or who have the capability to take it all in their stride (ie like Bond,) but there are a chosen few who turn back their internal clock and start trying to resolve the matter by acting behaving like a confused and socially inept eleven year old who has just been placed in a particularly awkward situation. 

A few years ago, I had some vague crush on a man who did not return my feelings. I know that I never confessed my crush to anyone, let alone him, but I'm fairly certain that he got hint of it, because he went from being a reasonable man to a bumbling fool who would run away whenever he saw me. I never quite understood what it was that he expected that I would do if I did speak to him? Destroy every last shred of his street cred by, shock! Horror! Asking him out, an offer that is effectively a yes or no question and the answer to which is entirely at his discretion? 

The thing is, by running away, he effectively killed my feelings for him. And not only that, but he killed something else that I had for him. Respect. 

Friday, 27 November 2015

Friday Funnies: Bert's Chilling Discovery

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Review: This Girl by Colleen Hoover

In fiction, the course of true love never runs smoothly, not even when the heroine and her hero are on their honeymoon. In This Girl, the third and final book in the Slammed series, Will and Layken's honeymoon is spent talking, kissing and occasionally bickering, while Will tells Layken his side of the story about how they first met and those excruciating, heart wrenching few months when circumstance forced them to be apart. There are a few surprise confessions, but overall this one is everything that it promises to be--a retelling of Slammed from Will's perspective.

I enjoyed reading this one, though I suspect that I probably would have enjoyed it more had I waited for a while and not read it so soon after I had read Slammed and Point of Retreat--I think that I have definitely had my fill now of the characters and their story! Still, Hoover is very clever, and very much an artist, I think, in the way that she incorporates performance poetry into her writing. The story and writing itself remains very true to the genre.

If you've read and love the other two books in the series then chances are, you'll love this one. Recommended.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Maggie Christensen

Welcome friends, readers, followers and guests to another great Writers on Wednesday post. This week I am chatting with Australian author Maggie Christensen ...

Tell me a bit about yourself …

I began teaching primary school in Scotland and emigrated to Australia in my mid-twenties lured by ads of a semi-naked man in gown and mortarboard and the slogan ‘Come teach in the Sun’ I’m still looking for that guy!

When I drew close to retirement from a career in education, I started to write the sort of books I enjoy reading – books which feature mature women facing life-changing events with a dollop of romance included and the inevitable HEA.

I’m often asked why a Scot living on the Sunshine Coast set a series of books on the Oregon Coast in the USA.

I’ve already written two novels in my Oregon Coast Series – The Sand Dollar and The Dreamcatcher. It all began over 30 years ago when I was working in Higher Education and took a forced transfer to teach in a country town university in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. I didn’t want to go the country. I wanted to get back to the city – to the bright lights of Sydney. However to Wagga Wagga I went and there, to my surprise I met this hunk of a gentle giant who’d moved there from USA to teach in the same faculty as me. At the ripe old age of 37, I’d almost – but not quite – given up hope of meeting my soulmate. Here he was and still is. We moved to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast three years ago and love the laid-back lifestyle here.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

Broken Threads re-introduces the reader to characters first encountered in my first book, Band of Gold. It takes the reader into the shoes of Jan, sister to Anna from Band of Gold. It’s a little different from my earlier books – my beta readers suggested that readers should be provided with a box of tissues! It’s a story of loss, grief and the struggle to survive against adversity.
Jan Turnbull’s life takes a sharp turn towards chaos the instant her eldest son, Simon takes a tumble in the surf and loses his life. Blame competes with grief and Jan’s husband turns against her. She finds herself ousted from the family home and separated from their remaining son, Andy. As Jan tries to cope with her grief and prepares to build a new life, it soon becomes known that Simon has left behind a bombshell, and her younger son seeks ways of compensating for his loss, leading to further issues for her to deal with. Can Jan hold it all together and save her marriage and her family?
Living on the coast, surfing is a popular sport, and all too often we forget the dangers involved. Broken Threads examines how the tragedy of a young boy losing his life in the surf affects the whole family and their struggle to overcome their grief.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

Although I’ve written various things all my life, it wasn’t till I published my first novel in 2014 that I really felt I was a writer.  Now on book four my dream of being a published author has come true. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of seeing my words in print and holding my babies in my hands.

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

The pleasure which readers get from my books. It’s so rewarding to have readers tell me how much they enjoy my books, that they’ve been inspired by them and that they give them hope.

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

I’m currently writing what will be book three in my Oregon Coast Series about a woman who flees Australia to settle in Florence. As yet it’s untitled, and readers will meet their favourite characters from the first two books in the series. This will most likely be the final Oregon Coast book. I’m also working on a book set in Noosa and featuring a minor character from The Sand Dollar, Rosa.

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

Although I read both, I much prefer paper books. They’re so much more fun to cuddle up with. However I always have my Kindle in my handbag and it’s useful for travelling.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

I support and read both. I’ve gone Indie and enjoy the freedom and sense of control it gives me. That said, I feel it’s important for a self-published author to find a good editor and cover designer. I have both and am happy with my team.

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

Keep reading. Recommend books to your friends. Write reviews. Support your local bookshops and libraries. And don’t be afraid to contact your favourite authors. We love to hear from you.



Twitter:                  @MaggieChriste33

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

I am going to be brave and admit that, initially, when I read the first few sections of this book it did not really appeal to me. Because of the era that this book is set in--1999--it initially came across as very dated. Also, to me, Rainbow Rowell's books have been a bit hit and miss, I loved Fangirl, but I had difficulty relating to Landline and opted not to review the book on this blog after I finished it. I was worried that Attachments was going to follow the same path, but I was soon pleasantly surprised by how I soon got caught up in the story of Lincoln, a shy IT professional who works at a newspaper monitoring emails and the way that he admires Beth, a movie critic, who he has never spoken to, and who has her own relationship troubles with the irresponsible and (perhaps) unintentionally self-centred Chris.

Attachments proved itself to be a solid and surprising romance that centred around some fairly shy and introverted characters, whose problems proved easy to relate to. Lincoln was a bit of a late bloomer, and that certainly added to the charm of his character, and it was interesting when the reader finally gets to meet Beth, rather than just her emails, and see the differences between how she comes across as a person and how she comes across in her writing. This is a thoroughly likeable and realistic love story about two underdogs--Lincoln and Beth are neither rich nor conventionally beautiful--and nor are there any great dramatic moments and the story is better for it. The story also subtly captures some of the forgotten fears of the late 1990s, the Y2K bug and the paranoia over misuse of workplace email.


Monday, 23 November 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)

Some more bright and colourful seats (and a colourful pavement) on Pirie Street

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Review: Bittersweet Dreams by V.C. Andrews

One of the most surprising--and successful--literary phenomenons to emerge from the twentieth century is, without a doubt V.C. Andrews. A wheelchair bound and softy spoken artist who lived with her mother, who had a penchant for writing shocking yet sympathetic novels that featured taboo subjects, V.C. Andrews found a second career as a best-selling author during what was to be the final--and perhaps happiest--decade of her life. But what followed her death was equally surprising--her books had become so popular, and so loved by readers--that they continue to be written and released twenty-nine years after her death with the assistance of a ghostwriter. Ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman (a successful author of horror and romantic suspense in his own right,) has written anywhere between 69 and 74 of the novels released following the death of V.C. Andrews (the true author of Garden of Shadows and the final three books in the Casteel series, remains hotly debated by fans.) Many of these ghostwritten novels have gone on to be bestsellers, some have been loved and embraced by fans and others are well ... 

Well, every author has their off days.

Bittersweet Dreams tells the story of Mayfair Cummings, an exceptionally gifted teenager who has an IQ of 180. Mayfair has trouble relating to the people around her, particularly her vile classmates and her stepmother who appears to be as abusive as she is vapid and vain. When Mayfair is taken advantage of by a sleazy teacher, she vows revenge and finds a way to punish everyone who has hurt her.

I found that this novel was big on ideas, but the ideas were not executed as well, as cleverly, or as sympathetically as they could have been. What could have been a literary version of the MTV series Daria was let down by a heroine who lacked empathy for others (and who had an irritating habit of correcting other people's speech, with a complete disregard for the concept of colloquial irregularities,) and a cast of supporting characters who remained as undeveloped as they were completely unlikeable. (Consider that one of the main themes of Daria is of the heroine learning to accept the people around her, and that most of the other characters are basically good people, though somewhat flawed and that only one or two--such as Ms Lee--are genuine and unredeemable arseholes.) 

There are some real gross out moments--such as (spoiler alert) Mayfair getting revenge on her stepmother by telling her psychiatrist that her stepmother bought her a vibrator. 

Mayfair's ultimate--and final--act of revenge involves her taking advantage of her thirteen year old stepsister so that she can humiliate a number of other people who have hurt her overlooks the question of whether the means justifies the ends, rather than addressing it. 

Fans of the Wildflowers series will be amused to know that Dr Marlowe makes a surprise appearance in the novel as a minor, but important, character.

While Bittersweet Dreams may provide readers with a few so-bad-it's-good moments, this novel was not a winner for me.

Recommended only to die-hard fans.