Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Review: Ruin & Rule by Pepper Winters

This book was completely fucking ludicrous, lacked depth and was completely full of smut. And maybe that is why I loved it. Ruin & Rule is one of those books, an emotionally charged page turner full of good looking people. This one was published a couple of years ago, when contemporary romances set in illegal motorcycle clubs was a thing. (Seriously, what is it with contemporary romances and trends? At one point, the heroes were all rock stars. At another point in time they were all wealthy businessmen. Then there were the rural romances. What next? Will we soon all be reviewing contemporary romances that praise the swoonworthy qualities of dark and brooding Formula One car drivers? Or what about Sam, the hunky bad boy emergency services worker who is the male lead in Dial Triple Zero My Panties Are on Fire?)

Anyway, this one opens with a female lead who has just been abducted. She's suffering amnesia. She has no idea who she is, but she knows that she's been abducted by the Pure Corruption Motorcycle Club and they intend to traffic her. Then she meets Kill, the angsty but extremely attractive president. There's something familiar about him, something that she cannot quite understand. Meanwhile, Kill is treating her with a mixture of horror and delight. For it turns out, she bares an uncanny resemblance to a girl from his past, a girl he loved fully and completely. A girl who is dead.

When he takes her home, our female lead soon begins to realise that the girl he loved may not be dead after all ...

I'm not going to bother adding a spoiler alert here, because the twist is pretty obvious. What kept me reading was wanting to know how the story unfolded and how those truths would be revealed. Would love be enough to conquer all?

This one is what it is. It's a romance with a bad boy lead and some scorching sex scenes. It's a romance with a plot that is pretty out there.

It's also, as it turns out, the first book in a two part series so after four hundred pages I learned that I had worked my way to a cliffhanger ending. Will I be back for part two? Probably.

Sidenote: I was a bit confused about the nationality of the author as although the novel was set in the United States, the female lead was a duel British/American citizen, and parts of the novel leaned toward the possibility that the author was British. After a search on wikipeadia, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that she was born and raised in Hong Kong.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Review: The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl

The Magic Finger was another of Dahl's books that never seemed to be around when I was a kid--I don't know if it was out of print, but I do know that my primary school library didn't have a copy and neither did our local council run library. Apparently, it was reissued with new illustrations in 1995, which would have been the exact point in time when I would have considered myself too old to be reading children's books and probably would have felt very grown up and sophisticated as I picked up a seemingly grown up novel by Christopher Pike instead. (Yeah, who?)

Anyway, I was a little surprised and a lot delighted when I found a copy of this one on sale for $4.99 at my local QBD. (Apparently it was surplus stock from a recent promotion by News Corp.) 

Anyway ...

The Magic Finger is a short, fun tale that tells the story of a little girl with a strong sense of justice and a finger that is able to perform powerful magic when she gets angry. And there is nothing that makes her angrier than seeing her neighbours, the boorish Gregg family, hunting and shooting defenceless animals for sport. And when she points her finger at the Gregg family, a powerful spell is unleashed, which turns the tables on them and teaches them a powerful lesson.

This one is an amusing tale with a strong sentiment about caring for, rather than hunting and hurting, animals. Like all of Dahl's tales, things get strange in the most amusing of ways, and there is a strong notion of people getting their just desserts. The story itself is very short--more of a short story than an actual novel. My copy also included a sample chapter from James and the Giant Peach. 

Lots of fun. Highly recommended.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Friday Funnies: Roald Dahl

Morbid, probably not true and completely befitting of Dahl ...

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Review: A Superior Spectre by Angela Meyer

A Superior Spectre is a haunting novel about secrets, shame and a sense of self. It opens with Jeff, a man living sometime in the not-too-distant future who is both dying of cancer and struggling with the burden and shame of his sexual desires. He has fled his family, and home, in Melbourne for Scotland. Armed with a special piece of technology, he is able to enter the mind of Leonora, a young woman living in the Scottish Highlands in the 1860s. Jeff is warned only to use this technology three times, but he decides to take matters into his own hands, and soon, Leonora is plagued by visions and a strange feeling of darkness ...

This was an intriguing read, with a gothic feel that reminded me so, so very much of one of my favourite authors, Daphne du Maurier. The writing is crisp, and clever and I could not help but get drawn into the life of Leonora, the introverted young woman who is sent away from her beloved home due to her fathers not entirely unwarranted fears that she is about to be taken advantage of by a nobleman who will not marry her. I struggled however, with Jeff's story, in particular the fact that he was a grown man who was attracted to teenage boys. While I appreciate the deep sense of shame the character felt for his attractions, it made for a very confronting read for me. Obviously, there are some deeper themes at work here, of sexuality and of the agency that one has over themselves, and over the lives of others.

Although this was well written novel with an interesting concept, clear prose and much to say about human suffering, this one did not work as well for me as I had hoped. 

Thank you to Ventura Press for my ARC of A Superior Spectre

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2018

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Imagine watching someone shoot your best friend. The friend you grew up with. Imagine if that same person then kept a gun pointed at you until an ambulance arrived. Imagine if this wasn't the first time that you'd seen one of your closest friends shot.

Imagine if the person wielding the gun was a cop.

That's the premise of The Hate U Give.

Starr is a sixteen-year-old from the Garden District, a poor area, regarded by many as a ghetto. Her parents have found a way to send her and her brothers to a private school forty-five minutes away from home that's filled mostly with wealthy white kids. From the age of ten, Starr has found that she acts one way at school, and another at home, but when Starr's best friend Khalil, is shot by a police officer, she finds herself struggling, not only with a huge sense of injustice at the tragedy that has occurred, but with the idea that perhaps she hasn't been as true to herself and the people she loves as she could have been. The Hate U Give cleverly breaks down stereotypes about life in the ghetto while telling the story of a young woman who, in the midst of a heartbreaking and unjust situation, finds her voice.

This was a heartbreaking read, one that offered an insight into what it truly means to not be considered equal—to the point where someone is considered dangerous and their life utterly disposable based purely on their race, and the disgraceful cover ups that can occur when people are called out on their blatant prejudice. Starr is character who is easy to like, due to her bravery and self belief that doesn’t waiver through adversity. 


Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Review: Providence by Caroline Kepnes

Fans of H.P. Lovecraft are almost certain to be intrigued by Providence, the latest offering from bestselling author Caroline Kepnes (You, Hidden Bodies.) The novel opens with Jon and Chloe, two kids growing up in a small American town, who are slowly falling in love. Jon is a bit well, different from the other kids in town and, consequently, becomes prey for the local bully. Chloe is a bit different as well, but she hides it by trying to fit in. It's a plot within itself, but as the blurb promises, this is a Caroline Kepnes novel and the worst is yet to come. And it does, in the form of a nutty substitute teacher who has been unduly influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Jon is abducted by his teacher, made the subject of a strange experiment and is released four years later--and with newfound powers that allow him, very passively, to inflict great harm on others. From there we have a story about the mayhem that unfolds with a young man struggles to understand his newfound and unwanted powers, the young woman he loves struggling to reconcile who she is and who she wants to be with (Jon, who allows her the freedom to be herself, or bully Carrig who can offer her a straightforward relationship and life, but who will deny her a sense of self,) and a cop with a troubled personal life who is trying to hunt them down.

Twisty, yet surprisingly slow in places, I found Providence to be a novel that remained subversive of stereotypes as it tells the story of someone who has unwanted superpowers. Don't expect Jon to turn into the next DC or Marvel superhero. Don't expect Chloe to become Lois Lane. The Lovecraft references are quite amusing, though I suspect that I would have got more out of them had I been a little more familiar with the author and his work. There are some interesting questions raised about the level of agency that people have over themselves. There are various cruel twists of fate. The sting with this one is while there are some great moments, the novel as a whole became quite tiresome as I felt that the plot didn't always come together as neatly as it should. Or to put it another way, the novel's greatest strength--it's subversiveness--sometimes felt like its greatest weakness. The prose itself, as with Kepnes previous offerings, is very well done.

Recommended for those times when you're looking for something a bit different.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my ARC of Providence.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Saturday, 21 July 2018

New Short Story Out Now: Abigail's Voicemail

Did you know that there is a new Abigail short story up on Amazon? In this companion piece to Being Abigail we learn of all the mayhem that went on back home while Abigail was away in Sydney through a series of hilarious voice mail messages from Samuel, Ursula and a few other characters. Find out about how Cedric was abducted by a crazy old lady, what almost ruined Ursula's Christmas Lunch and who um, accidentally propositions Abigail in this short story which is exclusive to the Amazon Kindle Store. (Yep, that means it's free to read for anyone with Kindle Unlimited.) It's a lot of fun, there are plenty of laughs to be had and I hope you will read it.

Anyway, the links are below:

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2zAXtHN
Amazon Australia: https://amzn.to/2zNt09B
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2KUU7Vg

Monday, 16 July 2018

Around Adelaide (Best of Kathryn's Instagram)

A post shared by Kathryn White (@kathrynsinbox) on

Friday, 13 July 2018

Friday Funnies: Bert's Paper Clip Collection

Ahh, who could forget that classic Sesame Street moment when Ernie uh, pretended to lose Bert's beloved paper clip collection?

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Review: Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills

Imagine waking up in a small coastal town in Australia and discovering that the sea has disappeared. Imagine if one of the local children had been seeing visions of such an event--and it's fallout--for years. That's the premise of Dyschronia, a solid work of Literary Fiction that has three different narratives. There's Sam, the young woman who had the premonition and is now living through the fallout, a collective "we" who make up the residents of the town who speak of the event directly after it happens and a younger version of Sam, who is having her premonitions and trying to work out what they mean. Together, they form a story that is circular in nature, one that is about to happen, one that his happening and one that has happened. It's a bold storytelling device, lending itself to all kinds of interpretations and it works quite well.

The story and narrative itself is quite unsettling, though this is to be expected given the eerie subject matter. Overall this is a novel that is bold, enjoyable and different.


This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2018

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Review: The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh

Did you know that over its thirty year run, the writers of The Simpsons have managed to insert, well, numerous mathematical jokes into the script. This is no surprise, given that many of the team are also expect mathematicians. In The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, mathematician Simon Singh explains some of the mathematical concepts to the layperson, lets the reader in on some of the jokes that they may not have noticed and adds in some of his own mathematical humour.

This was a great read for me. I'm a massive fan of The Simpsons (and have been since the age of nine, when it debuted in Australia,) and I've loved the show for its depth and the fact that it often the script will cause different viewers to laugh at different things. As someone who does not come from a mathematical background (I never studied Maths in my final year of high school,) I was unaware of many of the maths jokes that had appeared in various episodes, and enjoyed having them explained to me. It was also the first time in many, many years that I had Maths explained to me in a way that is fun and accessible. There is also a section of that other show by the makers of The Simpsons, Futurama, and there is a lot of insight and fun to be had in that chapter as well.


Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Review: A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews

A Thousand Perfect Notes tells the story of a young man who is tortured and abused by his obsessive stage mother. Beck--short for Beethoven--is expected to become a famous concert pianist so that he can carry on a family legacy that was cut short after his once-famous mother suffered a stroke. Unable to play, Beck's mother relocated him from Germany to Australia where he has has spent his childhood forced to practice at the piano for hours at a time. The premise, which is slightly reminiscent in places to the Scott Hicks/Geoffrey Rush film Shine soon veers into YA romance territory when Beck meets August, a free spirited teen who may just help him play his own tune. 

This one was an entertaining read with some well, interesting characters. Beck is the epitome of a downtrodden teen who only wants to be himself, his mother is almost cartoonishly evil in places and his baby sister is surprisingly articulate for a preschooler. As for August, she was certainly quirky and pivotal to the story, she lacked depth and the character came across as underdeveloped. That said, the descriptions of the abuse Beck suffered at the hands of his mother are quite raw, particularly that ending. (Readers would have to have a heart of stone if they didn't feel anything for Beck.) There are some descriptions of cake that were quite pleasurable to read. This one was a bit average for me, but plenty of other readers have reviewed this one favourably. 

Recommended to readers looking for a short, heart wrenching YA read.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2018

Monday, 9 July 2018

Friday, 6 July 2018

Friday Funnies

Seeing as I shared a Yogi Bear joke last week, I figured that it was only fair that I shared a short clip featuring the real Yogi this week. When I was about nine or ten, I used to think this was the funniest cartoon ever, now I'm not so convinced ...

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Metaphors of The Artisan Heart: A Guest Post by Dean Mayes

Hi All, today we're lucky enough to have author Dean Mayes stop by the blog with a guest post about his upcoming novel, The Artisan Heart. I really enjoyed this post about the metaphors in his latest work, and I hope you will too ...

The Metaphors of the Artisan Heart
A guest post by Dean Mayes

The use of metaphors in story telling is as old as story telling itself. As a refresher to what metaphor actually is, I found a great explanation of story telling metaphor from Susan Perrow in an article for the National Storytelling Network

“I simple terms, a metaphor shows us one thing as another, and in doing so extends the way we see the world, also often refreshing and enlivening our perception.”

I have long been drawn to the use of subtle metaphors in my writing and I have continued this trend in The Artisan Heart as a way of illustrating meaning for narrative and artistic effect. I was mindful of doing it in such a way that may not seem immediately apparent to the reader but the significance of it is there for the reader to discover for themselves. 

While there are several examples to be found throughout the story, I wanted to hone in on a specific one for the puropses of this piece. It can be found in Hayden Luschcombe’s arrival at his parents moribund cottage in the former gold mining town of Walhalla in Australia’s southern mountains. The cottage has been left to Hayden by his long passed parents, though it has stood neglected for several years owing to the fact that Hayden lives half way across the country in Adelaide when the story opens.

(British actor James Norton served as the inspiration for Dr. Hayden Luschcombe in The Artisan Heart.)

Hayden’s life in Adelaide is characterized by frenetic days as a dedicated Paeditriac Emergency Department Doctor in a busy, inner-city hospital, followed by a seemingly endless procession of parties and functions hosted by his event planner wife Bernadette, which he is required to attend in support of her. He is barely juggling the two lives and often falls short of Bernadette’s high expectations. So much so that it isn’t long before he fails her one time too many. 

When Hayden’s life is turned upside down in the beginning of the novel and he loses everything, it is to this cottage in the mountains that Hayden retreats. As a metaphor to Hayden’s station at this point, the cottage stands alone, forgotten and under threat of falling down. As Hayden disappears inside the cottage and locks the door, he is submitting himself to a metaphorical hell.

Little does he know, the cottage will eventually play a role in Hayden reinventing himself. 

At a moment in the story, when Hayden is at his lowest point, a silent voice - unseen, almost spiritual - compels him to pull himself from his metaphorical hell. After the passage of some time, a spark ignites inside him and he realizes the self destructive path he is on is futile.

(Phillips Cottage served as the inspiration for Hayden Luscombe’s cottage in The Artisan Heart.)

The path to Hayden’s reinvention begins with him clearing long dead coals from the hearth of the wood fired oven in the kitchen. He lights a fire and brings warmth to the cottage once more. The action is a simple one but it has a profound effect on Hayden. The restorative power of a fire’s warmth is significant, especially when one has been subjected to (or has subjected themselves to) biting cold, such as that, which Hayden experienced on esconcing himself in the decaying cottage.

Hayden proceeds to repairing a hole in the roof of the cottage, through which rain had been allowed to fall and cause all sorts of trouble for Hayden. This action is a signficant one because we are privvy to previous admonitions from Bernadette who would often ridicule him for attempting – and often failing at – home repairs on their home in Adelaide. By successfully repairing the damaged roof, Hayden proves to himself that he can do a good job at something like this. He also retrieves a little more of his self worth in the process.

Shelter. Warmth. Self worth. These are small things. But in the context of a person who has had everything taken away, they become crucially important. 

I’ve made no secret of the fact that the I’ve made the cottage in The Artisan Heart as much a character as its human counterparts. I’ve cast the relationship between the cottage and Hayden as a symbiotic one so that, how events in the story affect one also affect the other in important ways. By tending to the cottage, by breathing life back into it, Hayden breathes life back into himself. Further, he discovers a new self that was not evident to him in his life in Adelaide, buried as he was, in the demands of an all consuming career and constantly falling short of the demands of his ambitious and unforgiving wife.

I enjoy the use of metaphors in my story telling. In weaving them into the narrative structure of my works, I hope coax an active reading experience and to stimulate further discussion among readers as to what they might mean. How those metaphors affect the trajectory of the characters and how they contribute to an engaging experience overall are important markers for a successful story.

Like to know more about Dean Mayes and The Artisan Heart? Follow these links below:

My Twitter is;

My Goodreads Page is;

My Official Site is;

And The Artisan Heart is available for pre-order at Amazon;

And at The Book Depository;

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Review: The Phantom ... For Those Who Came in Late

For Those Who Came in Late is the first trade paperback to be published by Frew and it's a fitting tribute to their most beloved superhero, The Phantom. (For those who are wondering, yes, Frew published other comics, in Australia the most notable of which are Popeye and Mandrake.) Anyway, this publication includes all of the comics that make up the stories behind the legend, and explains everything, from how the current Phantom inherited his title following the death of his father, to the origin of the infamous skull ring and for those of you who are wondering, yes, we do get to see when the Phantom, or Kit Walker, met Diana Palmer for the first time.

This is a great collection, sure to please old fans and an excellent (and comprehensive guide,) for new fans of the comic. For those of you reading this from overseas, you should probably know, The Phantom is one of the most successful and enduring comics to be published in Australia--in fact, it's one of the few that is still published here and is readily available at most newsagents and corner stores. (And it usually only costs about $3.50 for a regular issue. Specials cost a little extra.) 


Monday, 2 July 2018