Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Review: The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton

The northernmost part of Alaska in late November is the setting for The Quality of Silence a surprising new novel by British author Rosamund Lupton. Yasmin has just arrived in Alaska on the twenty-fourth of November, in time to see the sun set, knowing that it will not rise again for another fifty-four days. With her is Ruby, her ten year old daughter who is deaf. Yasmin's husband is not there to greet her at the airport, instead she is met with some terrible news. Unwilling to believe that her husband is dead, Yasmin soon finds herself on a dangerous journey, where she and Ruby battle the harsh climate and a deadly enemy of a different kind ...

The Quality of Silence has two great selling points, the unusual and quietly menacing setting, and the author's brilliant and sympathetic portrayal of Ruby, an innovative child who is wise beyond her years. The sense of place feels very real. The is a real sense of wonder about the natural environment and how it is both fragile and vulnerable against human greed. There are some very credible arguements against fracking.

Although easily a page turner, the story itself stretches the bounds of credibility on multiple occasions and I found the ending to be quite frustrating, though I suppose in many ways it also serves as an interesting metaphor--just as the lives of certain key characters are left in the balance, and they are relying on others to believe them and act quickly, what will to the environment if we don't believe those who speak out against things which destroy out planet like fracking and act quickly?  

An interesting enough read, but a few too many unrealistic plot twists leave it a few steps away from greatness. 

Big shout out and thank you to Hachette and The Reading Room for my ARC. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


On Hindley Street, just beside the entrance to Station Arcade is a plain white wall, which has been decorated with this beautiful artwork and story about a family and their life before they came to Australia as refugees. It is part of a daring artwork project, where the works are placed on construction sites around the city, and are real stories, told by refugees in detention to the artist. 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Review: Dragon's Lair by Chantal Fernando

Bad boys, outlaw motorcycle gangs, bad-ass romances, melodrama and sizzling, sexy situations come together in Australian author Chantal Fernando's best selling erotic romance novel Dragon's Lair. Fitting perfectly into the so-trashy-it's-good genre is this tale of Faye, a good girl and high ranking university student who has been dating the boy next door for years. That all changes one day when Faye catches her boyfriend Eric with one of her so-called friends and she storms off and ends up having a very hot one-night stand with Eric's motorcycle outlaw bad-boy half brother Dex, which ultimately results in a pregnancy and Faye being kicked out of home by her somewhat cold and uptight parents. As soon as Dex discovers that Faye and his unborn child are homeless, he provides them shelter ... at club headquarters. Can a nice girl like Faye survive in such a dangerous place? And more to the point, what is her relationship with Dex?

I am not going to pretend that this book is well written because, quite frankly it isn't. The prose is functional at best, characters remain underdeveloped and the whole situation is completely and utterly ludicrous. But, as an escapist piece of trash, it has a certain charm to it and I found myself continuing to turn pages and wanting to know what would happen next. This one is what it is, and the author already appears to have a large following, most of whom will no doubt be looking forward to the next book in the series, Arrow's Hell, which puts a spotlight on a different bad boy from the Wind Dragon's Motorcycle Club.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Friday Funnies: Advice from Morticia Addams





Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Review: The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine by Krissy Kneen

The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine is a hilarious and scorching hot read about a young woman who is discovering her sexuality set against a sci-fi backdrop. In some parts the plot is absolutely ridiculous but the whole thing is done so well and comes together so nicely in the end that most of the oddities are quite endearing. Holly White is a nice girl from Brisbane who does not believe in premarital sex and who wears who pledge ring with pride. She has a clique of girlfriends who have similar morals. She's clearly a bit too good for her boyfriend, Jack, who is not the honest guy he passes himself off to be, but Holly cannot see that and has her own reasons for wanting to keep her virginity, which comes in the form of well ... something neon blue. (I'll let you discover that one for yourselves. But it's great. Really.) Anyway, one day one of Holly's classmates from uni invites her to a secret book club and Holly is surprised to discover that this club is devoted to discussing erotic classics. And with a little help from the books--and from some other unexpected places--Holly soon finds herself on a journey of sexual discovery, and along the way, a discovery of herself.

I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed this quirky novel. Kneen's writing is fresh, funny, sexy and utterly addictive. Some of the situations may be depraved--Holly losing her virginity to a stranger in a phone booth in Paris for example--but the writing and storytelling are not. Each chapter is given the title of an erotic classic and that chapter relates to the named classic in some way. The ending is a bit strange (though I love what happens to Jack--what a way to rid the world of a lousy ex,) and it took me a second reading to catch on to just how fitting that ending was for the book. 

Highly recommended, but not for the prudish, or easily offended. 

Monday, 22 June 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


This old rotunda sits proudly on The Parade at Norwood, just metres away from the football ground that for many years (until blatantly commercialism got in the way,) was known to locals as well, The Parade. Although I have never been a Redlegs (or Norwood) supporter, I have to admit that their homeground is one of the most beautifully kept in the Adelaide metro area. 

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Review: Remembrance of the Daleks by Ben Aaronovich

Remembrance of the Daleks is the novelisation of one of the best Classic Doctor Who episodes. Made specifically to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Doctor Who in 1989 the story has the Doctor, accompanied by Ace, return to Coal Hill School in London in 1963--which is, of course, where the television series began. There is a showdown with some very unusual Daleks, we see a Dalek ascend stairs for the first time and the ending the points very much toward the direction of which the modern day television series would take, some sixteen years later. 

The novelisation of all of this is pretty damn good in its own right too. I never knew of its existence until a couple of years ago when it was reprinted to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who. Although a little pretentious at times, the novel stays faithful to the scrip while adding in its own intelligent edge and spin on the story. We get a little bit more of a sense of Ace's own backstory and the author does well, seamlessly translating scenes from the show onto the page. 

An excellent choice for Doctor Who fans, old and new. 

Friday, 19 June 2015

Friday Funnies: HAPPY BIRTHDAY GARFIELD!


As is traditional on this blog (and quite the in-joke for those who are in the know,) I would like to take this opportunity to wish Garfield a very happy birthday. Garfield debuted on 19 June 1978 and every year since then, his creator, Jim Davis, has devoted a special birthday comic strip to the grumpy, tabby cat. Below are a few of the best:














Thursday, 18 June 2015

Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

The first YA novel from bestselling British author Sophie Kinsella (best known for the Shopaholic series,) is easily one of her best in recent times. Through the story of Audrey, a fourteen year old girl with Social Anxiety Disorder who no longer attends school after a bullying incident, the author expertly mixes in some dark themes with her trademark lightweight and humorous writing style. Audrey makes for an interesting heroine as she navigates her way through a serious illness, her first teenage romance and a dysfunctional but ultimately loving family. 

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this one. I have been a bit disappointed with some of Sophie Kinsella's books of late, but those one was an absolute winner for me. The mix of darker and lighter themes seemed to work well. The author absolutely nailed one of the darkest aspects of schoolyard bullying--which kid is likely to become a victim. Audrey is a good kid. She is smart, kind and she never really steps out of line in any serious or meaningful way. She also has a mental illness. Sadly it is often the case that kids like Audrey who get chosen by bullies--good kids, who just happen to be a bit vulnerable than some of the others. The author also has a lot to say about the role of the school and the parents of bullies and most of it is far more honest than it is complimentary.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that there is a real truth in there to Audrey's story.

There is also a great B storyline about how Audrey's react to her older brother, Frank, and his enjoyment of gaming, and how, despite her best efforts, their mother doesn't always get things right and that both parents can sometimes be quite hypocritical, even when they think that they are doing what is best for their children. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this one and read most of it in one sitting. 

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Kristina Dryza

Welcome back to another great Writers on Wednesday post. This week, I am chatting with South Australian author Kristina Dryza ...



Tell me a bit about yourself …

My name is Kristina Dryza and I’m a consumer trends expert advising the world’s biggest companies on emerging social and cultural trends. I’m also a keynote speaker on creativity, innovation and the future. Studying the patterns of economic cycles and consumer behaviour led me to become interested in the patterns of nature; specifically seasonal, lunar, tidal and circadian rhythms. It became apparent that the very nature of life is expressed and experienced as rhythm and it’s around this theme that my book Grace and the Wind is based.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

Grace and the Wind is really a handbook for life. It’s an allegorical novel about a teenage girl, Grace, and the friendship she develops with the Wind. [I chose to tell the story of the emotional and metaphoric influence of nature via fiction, as we interpret and understand the world through stories – not facts.] The Wind teaches her how to align with universal cycles and patterns so she can flow through life, and in doing so, becomes the embodiment of her name. By embracing the wheel of time and aligning with the continuous ebb and flow of life, she experiences less struggles and more grace.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

I’ve had many articles published over the years (I used to be a writer for CNN) but nothing compares to the first time I saw my book on a bookshelf (both at a friend’s house and in the bookstore).

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

Being given a platform to talk about the concepts in the book, run workshops on the material – but more than that – it’s been helping others remember, feel and experience the patterns and cycles of nature. The rhythm of life comes from within and then enters into the constitution of all things. Discussing with others how to tap into the rhythm underneath each moment and sharing how we can honour this cadence as we go about our lives, is what I’m most proud of. Giving permission for others to create space for grace, stillness and beauty is really the gift of the book.

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

I don’t want to give too much away about the next book, suffice to say, I’m fascinated by the symbols of the unconscious realm: myths, metaphors and archetypes and my new book focuses on this world.

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

Paper. I am that person who turns down the corner of the page instead of using a bookmark and scribbles notes in the margin and highlights meaningful phrases.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Either. A story that needs to be shared requires as many publishing vehicles as possible.

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

Momo by Michael Ende.

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

Thank you so much for your support. Thank you for purchasing Grace so that Dymocks keeps reordering!!! Thank you to all those who write and tell me the effect Grace has had on your lives, how you’ve been changed by the story and now perceive the world with different eyes. It is for you that the book was written.

Links



Dymocks (available at all branches): https://www.dymocks.com.au/


Grace and the Wind: http://www.graceandthewind.com/

Monday, 15 June 2015

Garfield Hates Mondays (And Monday Hates Him)


This week, the worlds favourite tubby orange tabby with a whole lot of attitude (Otherwise known as Garfield) is turning 37, so to celebrate, I'm going to look back at one of my favourite themes in the comic, Garfield's combined fear and hatred of Mondays.

1980
... is the earliest example I can find of Garfield hating Mondays.

Source: Go Comics

1987 
... was a bad year for Mondays, for Garfield as we can observe from some of the comics below...

Source: Go Comics
Source: Go Comics

Source: Go Comics


2014
... was the year that Garfield encountered a Monday that just wouldn't die ...

Source: Go Comics


Saturday, 13 June 2015

Review: Secret Brother by V.C. Andrews

As fans of V.C. Andrews and followers of my reviews will already know, recently, V.C. Andrews ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman began working on the Diaries Series, a spin-off, or companion series to the Dollanganger Series which is best remembered for its haunting first novel Flowers in the Attic. In the Dollanganger series, we read as four children were kept in an attic by their cruel grandmother and were eventually poisoned by their mother. When Cory, one of the younger children dies, the other three realise that they must escape. The sequel Petals on the Wind tells the story of how narrator Cathy and her surviving siblings Christopher and Carrie adjust to life outside of the attic, along with Cathy's thirst for revenge and two further sequels If There Be Thorns and Seeds of Yesterday introduce the next generation of the family, who too inherit their own share of problems and are haunted by the deep shadows cast by their ancestors. The saga is rounded out with Garden of Shadows, which goes back in time to tell grandmother Olivia's own story. While the first four novels were written by V.C. Andrews, Garden of Shadows was written by ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman based on the notes left by V.C. Andrews (who had, at that time only recently passed away,) and with help by V.C. Andrews trusted editor Ann Patty, and offered the perfect ending to the series, explaining how Olivia turned in to the monster that we see in Flowers in the Attic

The Diaries was a surprising spin-off from the Dollanganger series that had a young woman who was a distant relative to the family discovering a diary that had been kept by Christopher about his stay in the attic. Secrets of Foxworth and Echoes of Dollanganger were fascinating in the sense that it felt very much like re-reading and re-discovering Flowers in the Attic all over again. Sadly, in Echoes of Dollanganger protagonist Kirsten became marginally less interesting and her relationship with her boyfriend, Kane, a little creepy (there was some roleplaying that involved wigs,) and fans questions of how Kirsten was related to the Foxworth clan remain unanswered. The novel did, however, end on a very surprising cliffhanger, though, suggesting that Cory Dollanganger actually survived his mother's attempts of poisoning him and had gone through life under an assumed name. And while it does not quite fit with Cathy's chilling discovery in the attic Petals on the Wind (a child's body,) which, when revealed sets Corrine in such a fit of rage that she burns down Foxworth Hall (her actions are totally consistent with someone whose lies have not been believed,) it is certainly an interesting spin on what could have been. 

Secret Brother takes readers back in time to 1960, or to the second Saturday in October 1960 to be exact, and to a happy family home in Prescott, Virginia. Clara Sue Sanders and her younger Brother Willie have lived with their wealthy Grandpa Arnold ever since their parents died in a tragic accident, and Grandpa has done his best to give them both full and happy lives. However, on that afternoon, eight year old Willie is hit by a truck and dies in the hospital. While the family is there, Grandpa Arnold learns that another boy, the same age as Willie, has been poisoned and dumped there by a strange man. The boy has no memory and with no one there to claim him, Grandpa Arnold decides to adopt him, much to the horror of Clara Sue, who does not like the idea of her Grandpa replacing her much-loved brother with another little boy. 

On its own merit, as a stand-alone story, Secret Brother is quite good. Clara Sue is a feisty young woman faced with a horrible predicament. While she does not necessarily want the poisoned boy not to be loved and cared for, she is, understandably, unhappy with the idea of the boy being given her young and recently deceased brother's name, and it's not really fair that she is being pushed aside by her grandfather for another kid when she needs his love and support. Fortunately, she's a pretty loving and resourceful young woman, who finds her way around the situation (she nicknames the boy Count Piro, so that she does not have to say her brother's name and he responds well to this,) and along the way learns some valuable life lessons, including some harsh ones that involve a smooth talking boy named Aaron, who eventually gets what he deserves. One of the most pleasing elements to ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman's writing is that in Clara Sue he has created a young women who stands up to the boy who treats her badly--something that many contemporary authors would do well to take note of. There is also some interesting--and sensible--talk about virginity and it being a personal choice. On the negative side, I don't think that the author got the era and the fashions quite right and I'm not sure that the Epilogue was the most appropriate place for Grandpa Arnold's revelation about Cory/William's true identity. I also got the feeling that Grandpa Arnold's intentions may not be as noble as he made out--it seems odd that knowing Cory had three siblings, including a twin sister, that he would not have any interest in finding the other children and making sure that they were okay.

As a sequel to Flowers in the Attic I think that Secret Brother has its flaws which is quite off-putting, however, as a stand-alone novel I found it to be an interesting concept. It's a shame that it does not answer the questions of how Cory grows up to become the mysterious old man who purchases Foxworth Hall and whether he ever wondered what happened to his siblings. Did he know of Carrie's passing? Did he ever see Bart on television after he become an evangelist? What happened when Foxworth Hall burned down the first time? And, a big one, seeing as they had the same psychiatrist (as mentioned in Echoes of Dollanganger,) is it possible that Cory even met Corrine before she died? (Just a thought.) And who did he marry? (Is it possible that one day, when they were both grown up that he and Clara Sue married--okay, I'm probably romanticising the whole thing a bit now.)

An interesting concept, but would have been better as a stand-alone.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Friday Funnies: How to Answer a Sleaze, Daria Style


Thursday, 11 June 2015

Review: Penguin Little Black Classics + Giveaway

Some of you may remember that I posted a press release recently about Penguin Little Black Classics, these awesome little pocket sized books that are 64 pages each, and just $1.99 each. Penguin Books Australia was kind enough to send me a few of these books to review, and a few more to give away. Anyway, I've had a great time reading a few of these titles--it has proved to be a great way to reconnect with some favourite classics and to wet my appetite for the authors that I knew little about. 


The Wife of Bath by Geoffrey Chaucer
Penguin Little Black Classics No. 28

The first classic I dipped in to was The Wife of Bath by Geoffrey Chaucer, which, of course, is part of the Canterbury Tales. I remember studying some of the Canterbury Tales as a young adult, and being a little intrigued by these occasionally sordid tales. The Wife of Bath, or The Wife of Bath's Tale is a tale of sex, attraction and monogamy, while also examining the role of women during medieval times. Or, to be more specific about it, the role of women within a marriage. The introduction is longer than the tale itself, though the story is entertaining enough.

Sindbad the Sailor
Penguin Little Black Classics No. 54

Easily my favourite of the little black classics that I have read so far, Sindbad the Sailor was taken from One Thousand and One Nights (often known as Arabian Nights,) and tells the surprising adventures that Sindbad the Sailor had whilst on his travels--from meeting giants, to accumulating riches, to being buried alive with his dead wife. Although his travels are unpredictable and fraught with danger, Sindbad seems to make it out okay. I enjoyed this one so much that I ended up buying a copy of One Thousand and One Nights.  

On the Beach Alone At Night
Penguin Little Black Classics No.10

A lovely collection of verse from American poet Walt Whitman.

Giveaway! 

I have a number of Penguin Little Black Classics to give away to one lucky reader. To enter, comment below and tell me the name of your favourite classic. Competition closes Sunday June 21. Competition is open to residents of Australia only. (Sorry.) 

Winners chosen by randomresult.com


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Review: Paradise City by CJ Duggan

Paradise City is an Aussie YA/NA romance filled with sand, surf, school and sexy shennanignas. And some very hot boys. Seventeen year old Lexie Atkinson has grown up in a small outback town, but her parents have decided to send her to Paradise City (basically a warmer and more surfed up version of Melbourne's St Kilda,) to finish her education. Living with her Aunt and Uncle, she has to put up with her nasty cousin Amanda and adapt to high school life. When Lexie meets sexy bad boy Luke Ballentine, sparks soon begin to fly ...

This novel is a great escapist read that brought back many memories of high school. Ahh, all the little unspoken protocols, the horrible ways that teenagers treat one another in a effort to be cool, and the thrill of buying chips and flavoured milk from the school canteen. (In the book, I notice, they bought Samboy chips and Big M milk. At my school, we always had Smiths crisps and Farmers Union Iced coffee. Then again, I suppose I did attend high school in South Australia and not Victoria.) There are detentions, scenes where Lexie and Amanda sneak out of their bedroom windows to meet boys and some (predictable) romantic misunderstandings. While the story is light and fluffy fun as it is, there is one thing about the book that I found greatly disappointing.

Lexie is never shown to have any interests outside of her relationship with Ballentine.

Lexie and Amanda follow the boys around. They watch them surf. They fetch the boys food from the canteen. And, sadly, they are never shown to have any interests apart from the boys. The pair are perfect little Stepford Wives in the making, reading to sacrifice themselves and to serve the boys. And you know what? That sucks. That sucks massively. I know that this book is supposed to be light reading, with a good old dash of wish fulfilment in there as well, and I know that there is nothing wrong with any of that--the book doesn't claim to be any more than that, but still it is disappointing.

A light and sexy escapist read, with very little in the way of character development. 



Monday, 8 June 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


Not so far away from Sempahore's iconic clock with the angel on top lies this historic old anchor ...

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Video: Tom Houghton by Todd Alexander

Today, I am sharing a video for an upcoming book release, Tom Houghton by Todd Alexander, which will be published by Simon and Schuster Australia in October. I had not heard much about this one, which is unsurprising, considering that one, it will not be released for a few months yet, and two, because I've been rather busy in my personal life of late and much book news seems to have passed me by. Anyway, last week, I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Tom Houghton and I was immediately intrigued by the concept--of a boy who is bullied, and the brilliant way he tries to escape from that via his love of film. The trailer for this book is quite intriguing as well ...




Saturday, 6 June 2015

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Magazine Dismisses Female Actor's Age As 'Irrelevant'

NOWHERESVILLE, AUSTRALIA--The editor of a leading women's magazine has refused to comment on the age and marital status of a popular female actor, creating headlines right across the nation. 'I don't see what the big deal is,' Suzie Sams, editor of Aphrodite Magazine told our reporter. 'The actor was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about her role in a new big budget television series. We were quite interested in hearing about her work on the series, and, to be honest, it seemed rather rude to just start talking about her age.'

The resulting article also failed to mention the actor's attire, current weight and her marital status and there were no juicy tidbits about her personal life. 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Friday Funnies: Grey by E.L. James



Unfortunately, this Fifty Shades retelling from Christian's perspective is not a joke ...

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Review: Puffball by Fay Weldon


Puffball, the iconic novel by British author Fay Weldon is a deliciously dark comedy about marriage, pregnancy and change. Although it was first published in 1980, many of the themes feel very relevant to modern readers. It tells the story of Liffy and Richard, a young and fairly innocent couple whose lives are thrown into disarray after Liffy decides that they should move to the country. Thanks to the interference of their supposed friends, as well as that of their new neighbours, Liffy soon finds herself pregnant and alone, while Richard is busy trying to bumble his way through his new life--and many new women--in London.


Puffball is not a book for readers who are looking for likeable characters and lovely descriptions of the British countryside. Rather, it is a criticism on human nature--on the often cruel way that women treat one another, while they fight for the attention of men who hardly deserve it. Liffy is a fairly decent character who means well most of the time, even if she is a little naive, and for that reason, all of the other character behave badly toward her. Her friend cheats on her with Richard, Richard's secretary fails to pass messages on and attempts to create more trouble in a marriage that is already going through a rough patch in the hope that she can continue her own affair with Richard, and her friend Helen completely destroys Liffy's London flat and refuses to move out. Then there is Liffy's mother who wants hardly anything to do with her. The worst behaved female, however, is her neighbour, Mabs, who not only encourages her husband to have an affair with Liffy (because she believes that it is inevitable anyway,) and who then practices witchcraft against Liffy with the intention of harming her unborn child. Cleverly, and subtly, Weldon shows how each of the women are jealous of Liffy, though that seems to ease off toward the end as soon as it is clear that Liffy is now a single mother. The male characters, meanwhile, seem to be foolish, interested only in sex and unable to understand the women around them, and not one can accurately see how each women is affected by their actions. As a criticism of human nature, it is a little dark, a little exaggerated and surprisingly funny. There is also some graphic detail about the changes in Liffy's body as her pregnancy develops, suggesting that everyone is taking an extremely personal interest in one woman's pregnancy.

An enjoyable dark comedy. Recommended.


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

Category: A book published before you were born.

Progress 8/12

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Writers on Wednesday: Margaret R Blake

Welcome to another great Writers on Wednesday interview. This week I am chatting with Australian author Margaret Blake ...



Tell me a bit about yourself …

I was born in the northern hemisphere, immigrating to Australia with my family when I was almost ten years old. I’m a jack of all trades when it comes to my work-life, trying my hand at car detailing, machining, commercial artist, fabric designer, waitressing and have even been a farm hand. I’ve had a go at playing piano and guitar, done some time on stage, was a co-founder of a Camp Quality group, raising money for children living with cancer. I love reading and have written book reviews for a local newsletter, as well as been a teacher’s aide with kindergarten and grade one/two children. In between all that I was married for a while and have two grown-up children. After spending thirty three years living in Tasmania I now reside in Queensland. I’m retired and spend a lot of my time writing.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

I am in the process of releasing a children’s ‘read alone or read to me’ book of short stories entitled, RIVERBEND; A Collection of Fairy Tales and Other Short Stories - available now on Amazon (only in ebook at the moment). The writing of it was inspired by a property that I bought together with my brother, Terence and his new wife, Tonya. This book is to be followed very soon by the release of Sword of Stone, the second book in my Merlins’s School for Ordinary Children series. The first book The Ring of Curses is also available on Amazon in print and ebook format.

Riverbend is a real place, 12 kilometres west of Tiaro in Queensland, Australia. It is 28 acres of beautiful bushland, with a winding seasonal creek; an enchanted place where once a dragon came. He lies there still, infusing the land with his magic. Because of this Riverbend is now a locale where fairies dwell and leprechauns visit, where trolls take an evening stroll and a witch once lived, casting spells and curses!

Tell us about the first time you were published?

I was so excited when I got my contract that I burst into tears then rang my best friend Barbara. We opened a bottle of champagne and in amongst flat out chatter and giggles we got tiddly. Then it was down to business. I’d often wondered why it took so long to get a book to the market … well now I know … with editing and proofing and working with your publishing the months fly by. I must admit I love the process and I think it will be a long while before I give up writing.

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

Seeing my book in print. While I have sold many books I think this part is a bonus as a new author on the block. It was holding my book in my hand that has given me the biggest buzz so far. Who knows … in time it may be something else.

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

I have three books on the go at the moment. As I mentioned before I am writing a series. I am currently working on book number three for this, The Grail and Back Again, as well as a couple of books in slightly different genres; one for YA and another for adults. The YA one is humour/horror the other is fantasy/fiction with an historical background. As I am just into these I will keep my cards close to my chest for the time being.

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

I prefer paperbacks any day. I love the feel of a book in my hand, and I love the fact that it is real. I do own a kindle but I find the battery usually goes flat before I get around to reading anything on it.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Both! As long as with Indie publishing the books are edited, formatted and proofed correctly. I have found that so many writers let themselves down by publishing a book which hasn’t had these things applied. If I come across a shoddily presented book I will not read it and this can be a shame for the author as a lot of them have great story ideas. Also … I know how much hard work goes into the creation of a book.

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

That’s a hard one … I’ve read too many great books to be able to pin-point one.

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

Thank you for your support for without it an author has no following. I hope also that you enjoy my book/s. I would love to hear from you.

Links …



Ring of Curses : Merlin's School for Ordinary Children Book One. by Margaret R. Blake. Category: Fiction / Children's / Fantasy ISBN: 978-0-9925095-5-2                            

The Ring of Curses: Merlin's School for Ordinary Children Book One. Blake, Margaret R. and Ormsby, M. J.. Published by LIGHTNING SOURCE INC 01/10/2014  ...



.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Review: The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

The Mountain Story is a surprising--and unlikely--tale of survival and the triumph of the human spirit. Opening with a letter from father to son, it tells the story of Wolf Truly, a young man who travels to the top of a large mountain peak in Palm Springs with the intention of never coming home. Along the way, he finds himself on a mission of survival with three very different women, who are on a mission of their own and who have their own interesting life stories. Over the course of five days, while they brave the elements and impossible situations, Wolf and the others reflect on their lives and make some surprising discoveries about themselves.

I picked this one up from my reading pile, not quite sure of what to expect. What I got that was a story of a young man who is not only battling the elements and the most unlikely of circumstances, but an abundance of believable human drama. Wolf's own family story is heartbreaking, while it was lovely to read about Nola, Bridget and Vonn slowly work out their differences, and discover a better and healthier amount of respect for one another. The final parts of the book are quite touching and there are some questions raised about what makes a family. 

Although aimed at adult readers, I think that The Mountain Story would also appeal to advanced teenage readers for some of its themes about family and coming-of-age under trying circumstances. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my reading copy. 


Monday, 1 June 2015

Around Adelaide (Street Art)


At the back of the Adelaide's iconic Festival Theatre and overlooking the River Torrens and Elder Park is this funny little ball themed sculpture. I am unable to find more information about this one, but if anyone knows anything about the title, artist or history (I'm guessing it's a fairly recent work,) please let me know in the comments section.