Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Review: The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings by Natasha Walker

Smut. Pure smut.

Fortunately, the first in a serious of novels about a woman named Emma who values sensuality above all things, doesn't pretend to be anything more than what it is. We know this isn't a romance. We know that we're not reading a heavily romanticised account of BDSM. We're reading a sexually charged novel about a thirty-something housewife who seduces the eighteen-year-old boy who lives next door. The writing focuses heavily on actions and body parts. (Make of that what you will.)

In all honesty, this book probably would have passed me by had it not been for an article that I read I read in Adelaide's Sunday Mail a few weeks ago, which not only revealed the true identity of the author, but hinted that the book might, in some ways, be far more awesome than the many erotic novels that have been published or republished since Fifty Shades hit the best seller lists mid-last year. Natasha Walker, is actually a pseudonym for John Purcell the head book buyer and marker for an awesome Australian online bookstore that some of you may know already, booktopia.

Anyway, while for me smut remains an occasional distraction rather than being anything of value, I cannot say that I was dissatisfied or unhappy with this short novel as a whole.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Today I did something that normally, I never do before posting a review on a new release book. I stopped by Goodreads and read what other reviewers were saying before I posted my own review. Now I remember why I never do this. Reading other people's reviews can sometimes unduly influence my work. And in this instance, I felt myself wanting to start with this: 
Dear Reviewers. Richelle Mead may have written a series about vampires in the past (two if one is to count Bloodlines as a separate series,) but this does not mean that she owes you any more vampires. Ms Mead is a very talented lady and she can write about any subject matter that she pleases. I'm sure she's thrilled that you enjoyed her previous work and has spent her royalty payments wisely. However, that does not mean that she automatically owes you vampires. If you were nearly as a loyal readership as you claimed to be, you would accept the authors desire to grow and develop as a writer and her wish to tackle new subject matter. Can I just add here that she does not owe you more vampires.
Then again, it is their review and they are entitled to their opinion. It just bothers me when a perfectly good book is dismissed, simply because some readers are disappointed that the author have moved in a different direction. Then again, I guess it is no different to when JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy was dismissed by many loyal Harry Potter fans who were unable to understand or comprehend a book that was very different to the authors previous works. Anyway, Gameboard of the Gods is a combination dystopian/supernatural novel pitched at adult readers. Set in a future North America where religion has been banned and many have been wiped out by a genetic disease (which the government is trying to breed out of the population,) the main characters are Mae (a solider with perfect genes,) and Justin, a disgraced government employee. Together, the pair are investigating a series of ritual killings, which soon leads to the discovery of things that cannot easily be explained ...

I, for one, really enjoyed reading Gameboards of the Gods and was thankful that the whole thing didn't play out like a teen romance with slightly older characters. Mead is talented writer capable of many things and I am looking forward to the next instalment in the series.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Happy Birthday Garfield

I'd just like to take the opportunity to wish Garfield a very happy birthday and Jim Davis a very happy thirty-five year anniversary for the comic. All the best, Mate.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Review: Intuition by Jayne Fordham

Intuition is the first book in the Elite series and tells the story of a young psychologist, Olive Morgan, who has a rare talent. Olive, it seems is able to see the memories of anyone that she comes into contact with. And when Sydney is rocked by a terrorist attack, Olive discovers that her talents are being sought be the government who want to put together a elite team of people, each of whom have a unique talent, to help discover who has made the attack and why.

I purchased Intuition a few weeks ago, as I was looking for something different to read that was one, set in Australia, and two, featured characters who were young but not necessarily teenagers. And while I was reading some of the posts over at the Australian Bookshelf I saw the page for Intuition and thought that it fitted my requirements nicely. (For those of you who don't know, Lauren Murphy who runs the Australian Bookshelf blog sometimes writes under the pseudonym of Jayne Fordham.) On the whole, I found Intuition to be an enjoyable read and found myself getting caught up in the story--particularly the climatic ending that was set inside Sydney's Central Station. Less enjoyable was the subplot that involved Olive and her unlikely romance with Trent--it was a little too clear from the start that Olive and Trent were mis-matched and that one of her Elite colleagues was a much better suitor. I was also intrigued by the diverse set of talents that the Elite group--while Olive can access memories her three colleagues Canan, Zac and Hope could feel the emotions of others, persuade them and see their futures. We also meet other young people with some interesting talents.

Intuition is fun, light reading.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Friday Funnies: Wise Words From Peppermint Patty ...

As some of you are no doubt aware, I had my heart broken last year thanks to an unrequited love. And you know, I've thought about it, blogged about it, thought about it some more and blogged about it and tried to come up with all kinds of complicated answers to what felt like quite complicated questions such as how and why. And, then, I discovered through reading a Peanuts comic that the answer to my problems was quite simple all along:

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Little Red Riding Hood: A Philosophical Approach

Last Saturday, I had the privilege of attending the wedding of an old friend of mine. Flamy and I were pretty good friends throughout the "bookends" of high school--we met and chummed up in year eight, got separated after a war between mutual friends, and eventually became good friends in year twelve and have stayed in touch in the thirteen years following the graduation ceremony that neither of us bothered to attend. Anyway, it was wonderful to see her marry a totally awesome guy and see both start their new lives together. I was also lucky enough to be the single lady who caught the bouquet. Funnily enough, it was only as I was leaving the wedding that I realised something odd. It was a year to the day that my heart had been broken, quite possibly intentionally, by an unrequited love. And not only that, but I had gone through an entire wedding without thinking about the idiot once. (But hey, why spoil someone's special day by thinking about that idiot?)

Anyway, the whole thing made me feel a little bit philosophical about life and about the roads that we are meant, and are not meant to travel along. My friend, Flamy, quite clearly, has found the road that she's meant to be travelling on. I'm still at a bit of a crossroad--certainly my writing has come along in leaps and bounds this past year, while my personal life is a little, well, confusing at times and I hope someone out there knows what the fuck is going on with my day job and the roster, because I'm sure I don't. And suddenly I'm thinking about those metaphorical roads I am meant to travel down or not travel down and the story of Little Red Riding Hood pops into my head. And then I think about it. Really think about it.

Little Red Riding Hood, as I'm sure most of you know already is a fairy tale of French origin that later became part of the Grimm Brother's collection of tales. It tells the story of a young woman or a young girl (depending on the version,) who is on the way to visit her sick grandmother. As she travels to her grandma's house, she encounters a wolf who befriends her with the intention of gaining her trust so that he may snack upon both her and her grandmother later on. He tells Red Riding Hood of a shortcut to her grandmothers house (which, of course, turns out to be a longer route,) and then races to the house where he eats her grandmother and then puts the old woman's nightdress on (presumably not the same one that she was wearing when she got eaten,) and then poses as grandma when Red Riding Hood comes to visit. And, of course, when Red Riding Hood notes that grandma's mouth has become significantly larger since the last time they spoke, Red Riding Hood is promptly gobbled up. And then, because it's a children's story, a lumberjack comes along and rescues the pair who are still alive inside the Big Bad Wolf's Stomach. (I guess his teeth just weren't that sharp after all.) The trio then fill the Big Bad Wolf's tummy up with stones.

The moral to the story is that the woods are a dangerous place and that you shouldn't talk to strangers and give out personal information. (And this is a moral that damn well holds true today, though you could probably substitute the word "woods" for "facebook".) But it is also a story of how, when travelling through life, it can be very easy to mistakenly take the wrong path or one that is not intended for us. Red Riding Hood starts out with the purest of intentions. She wants to visit her sick grandmother. This is her destination. To get there, however, she must travel through along a path where she has never been alone before, the woods. In the beginning, this is quite an enjoyable journey. And then she encounters the Big Bad Wolf. And here is the thing. We, the readers, know he's a complete bastard. Red Riding Hood doesn't. She thinks he's a nice guy who wants to talk to her about her sick grandma. And you know, she's having such a lovely morning and she's met someone who seems like a nice guy, so she has no problems chatting to him. And presumably he has a a pretty charismatic personality and convinces her that they are friends. Now here is the interesting thing. The Big Bad Wolf could have eaten Red Riding Hood then and there. In fact, he would have had a better chance at getting away with the crime if he had. But because he's such a crafty, cunning little bastard, he sees not only the opportunity to get two meals (Grandma as well,) but he can have a good time messing with Red Riding Hood's head at the same time. So he leads the poor girl off her chosen path, into a deeper and darker part of the woods, and runs on ahead to gobble up her grandmother. So poor Red Riding Hood is not only about to meet a deadly fate but, the Big Bad Wolf going to have some fun fucking with her head first. He leads her along the path that she isn't supposed to travel down. And because Red Riding Hood is young and innocent, she believes that everything that he has said has been done out of friendship. I'm fairly certain now that the tale was originally written by someone who had been screwed over pretty badly by some kind of con-artist. 

Red Riding Hood ventures along a longer and darker path than what she is supposed to, seeing and passing a whole lot of crap that she doesn't really need to see or pass along the way. She finally reaches her destination and despite having a pretty shithouse morning, is oblivious to the fact that the person in the bed is not her grandmother. Now here comes the most depressing part of the story. It is only when she starts to wise up and make a few enquiries as to why "Grandma" has so dramatically altered that she gets eaten. The Big Bad Wolf knows that the whole mind-fuck is almost over so its time to make his meal before the somewhat wiser Red Riding Hood runs away. 

And then comes the final part of the story. The lumberjack comes to the rescue, cutting Red Riding Hood and Grandma from the Big Bad Wolf's stomach. Both emerge, still alive, but wiser from their experiences. Red Riding Hood has learned a valuable life lesson--that you cannot trust everyone and sometimes people have ulterior motives. And in some ways, this is the lesson that I learned a year ago. I veered off my chosen path, wasted a whole lot of time and put my faith and hope into something that was not meant for me. So what do I do? Mourn? Dwell on it? Or, perhaps like Red Riding Hood, I'll stop being attracted to the charismatic Big Bad Wolf and see the value in a humble lumberjack instead...