Tag Archives: #aww2013

Review: Almost Mine

almostAlmost Mine by Lea Darragh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Escape Publishing via NetGalley

To be honest, just from the blurb, I would not have come near this book at all. However, when I inadvertently won a preview from a giveaway, I could hardly refuse to, at least, have a quick read. My reluctance doubled at the end of the first chapter as the scene is set for something achingly heartbreaking though I kept pushing on for a few more chapters before I reached the breaking point. The only way that I’m going to continue to read it is if the ending is worth it soooo…. Yes, I had a squeeze at the epilogue.

My hesitation to read this book is this part of the blurb, “Cate has always taken Nick for granted… She knows he loves her, but she can’t love him back… She has darkness in her that can’t handle that much light.” And as soon as I’ve read the first few chapters, I knew that this was just too close to my own personal concerns and I really didn’t need to have that fleshed out in what I’m reading. Nevertheless, I did think the ending was worth the effort so I ploughed on and finished the book.

Cate was one confused girl and it started in childhood when she witnessed her parents’ broken marriage. She began to struggle with her identity, her self-worth, and looked for it in all sorts of places. Through all this, however, Nick, was always there for her. He loves her and promises to always be there for her. Is Nick and his love enough for Cate to find herself? Is he patient enough for her to finally realise what he means to her?

Aside from my initial hesitation, I found that it was exacerbated by the first chapter being set in the present time and for the chunk of the book to being flashbacks which spanned many years. You’d have to read through all these years before finally coming back to the present (the last 2 chapters). This makes a slow reading but all the cheesy romance kind of made up for the slowness. Remember Persuasion by Jane Austen? The first reading feels so slow but that’s because we’re set up for a delicious suspense.

I love Cate and Nick because of their steadfastness to each other. I could really sympathise with Cate and was cheering her on when she’s fighting hard to keep the future bright for both of them. I love Nick for his faithfulness to Cate throughout the years and for his adoration of her. Who wouldn’t want to have their own ‘Nick’ if this is how he thinks / sees of you…

‘…when I see you, my heart races and when you leave it stops. When you smile I smile and when you cry I want to bring hell down on the reason for your tears. All I know is that I would stop at nothing to give you everything, and I’d do this because I know that every need that you have comes from the deepest part of your heart, and not from an entitled want. You’re breathtaking when you daydream as you watch the wind blow through the tree tops, and when you use the very tips of your fingers to tuck your soft hair behind your ears and when you dip your chin and blush when someone gives you a compliment–.’

Yeah… cheesy…. *sighs* but I’d definitely fall for it every time ;D

Almost Mine is most definitely a romance novel though as I identified with Cate so keenly, it has dug deeper into my soul. I feel for Cate as she went through each of her ups and downs, the angst, the guilt, and finally acceptance. To learn that to love is to forgive and to forgive is to love… I am utterly relieved of having finished reading though I want to read it again.

This was meant to be a book review though it turned out to be rather of a self-introspection but I’m posting this anyway because I’d like the author to know that she’s touched at least one random soul in the world

Thanks to Escape Publishing via NetGalley for copy of eARC

Ps: FYI, I am happily married and I have just made sure (again!) that hubby knows I love him (I do!) though he knows, by now, that acts of service is my love language so I think we’re sorted 😉

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Review: Nobody But Him

nobodyNobody But Him by Victoria Purman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: ARC courtesy of Harlequin Books Australia

I’m a city girl through and through. I was born and grew up metropolitan cities. There would be days though when I love the thought of a Seachange. We love the beach and would happily live by the beach. Then again, I can’t really picture that particular type of life. For me, it’s a Dream; the city is my home. I am surrounded by my friends and family.

The main appeal of this romance is the encounter with your first love once again. Don’t we all have that little bit of wonder in us, how did her turn out to be? Will there still be an attraction? Can we still hit it off? Even if, your heart was broken it was first over. The possibility of a second chance –not only for love, but for life.

Julia Jones ran away many years ago and still is running. Even the encounter with her first love wasn’t quite enough to convince her to stop until something happened which made her face what it is she’s running from and to realise what ‘home’ really means for her.

It’s confession time and I have to admit of having flicked through the ending about midway through the novel. I was determined to be good and go to bed on time and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep without knowing what’s going to happen sooooo… I took a peek :p In turn, this made me totally impatient in reading the second half of the novel even after knowing the ending! I was impatient to find out when “that” moment will hit Julia, to read “that” moment they’d finally sit down and talked like sensible people, to finally close the novel with “that” feeling of satisfaction and contentment.

I loved that it’s set at an Aussie beachside town including the good ol’ pub. It touches slightly on what life is like at a small town, the good and the bad, though of course, mostly in how it affects the main characters. I very much liked that Ry took the first mature step and I loved the way all was resolved.

This was totally a feel-good sort of story to fulfil my romantic craving. As with all romance novels I read, I also got frustrated with how the plot twists and turns but that’s what romance fiction is all about –the sparks, the tension, the epiphany, and HEA. Nobody But Him is the first instalment of Victoria Purman’s Boys of Summer series and I look forward to her next instalment with great anticipation.

My thanks to Harlequin Books Australia for the ARC copy of book

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Review: Cassandra

cassandraCassandra by Kerry Greenwood

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of Poisoned Pen via NetGalley

The main attraction to this novel was, of course, the author. Who doesn’t know Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher? I have read quite a few of her works; Phryne Fisher series (though not quite up to date), Corrina Chapman series, and the standalone Out of the Black Land  –an Ancient Egyptian novel. I quite enjoy the ancient world and I thought this book which was loosely based on a Greek tragedy could be a good read.

I tried to read the first book, Medea, first (since I’m slightly OCD and cannot face reading book 2 before book 1) but I just couldn’t finish it. I just wasn’t in the mood for tragedy at the time plus then I realised that the series is really a series of stand alone books based on classic Greek tragedies. Truthfully, I almost gave up on Cassandra too. There were too many annoying characters for me to enjoy it.

Firstly, the gods and their fickleness. I feel like they needed to be slapped thoroughly and taken down quite a number of notches. Then again, Greek gods were fickle so I supposed this is kinda true to character. I think I also found it difficult because I just finished Antigoddess, where some of the gods are actually likeable plus it was linked to this particular tragedy so closely that I was torn between them two.

The story was told from 2 perspectives, Cassandra and Diomenes, and they tell their own stories from opposing worlds. Cassandra, whilst a strong female character, I did not find to be at all charming –mostly because she’s strong from stubbornness and at times, spite, rather than anything else. I quite liked Diomenes to begin with until tragedy hit and I wanted to shake him too. Individually, however, they did not actually meet until fairly close to the end and even then, there was not much ado. Not long after their meeting, the story closes.

It was an interesting read of Kerry Greenwood’s attempt at retelling an ancient story but it really lacks the sparkle of Phryne Fisher’s and / or the zest of Corinna Chapman.

Thank you, Poisoned Pen for copy of eARC via NetGalley

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Blog Tour: Poisoned Waters -a Review

bannerblogtour copy

Welcome to today’s stop where I will be reviewing this amazing mystery book by Ermisensda Alvarez.  Firstly, a bit about the book, if you don’t yet know anything about it.  If you do, just skip down to the review 😉

About the Book

Book-Cover-Poisoned-Waters

Poisoned Waters by Ermisenda Alvarez

Bloody mistakes, ugly scars, and beautiful lies. A tale of corruption.

Helen Gardener is murdered on a trans-Atlantic cruise. The Diamond Royale sails from Southampton to New York with her murderer aboard. Set in the 1950s, Poisoned Waters follows the stories of seven unfortunate characters and how they are affected by her death. Was it merely an accident? Mr Phillips, the owner of the ship, and sponsor of the cruise, rules with an iron fist, in search of something or someone.

Lies spiral out of control as the suspects try to survive the final days on board. Conflicted by their sense of morals, greed, and lust, they realise what kind of people they really are. Who will rise? Who will fall? Who was Helen’s murderer?

My Blurb

For some reason this book reminded me for Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.  It’s not quite of the same calibre but it is dark and sinister and played upon that particular human nature which proved too great a temptation to many of us.  It is mostly their settings which are somewhat similar in that they are isolated and outside assistance is not available.

Set in the 50s on a trans-Atlantic cruise ship, the scene first began with a dinner where the first class passengers are dressed to a t.  I can just imagine the glamour, the backless shimmering dress, the bright red lipstick, the black & white contrast of the gents’ tuxedos, the tinkling of polished cutlery, the vivid redness or sparkling clearness of wine in glasses… what a beautiful world to be in!  Unfortunately, things very quickly deteriorated as darkness descended upon these passengers.  A woman was murdered, an investigation instigated, and no secrets can remain safe.

There were so many things happening and so many greatly flawed characters that it was hard to decide if there is one thing to focus on.  I think the most amazing thing about this book was that each character from different walks of background was confronted with their own brand of temptation and was faced with a choice and for some, deadly choices.  I wasn’t expecting this book to be so sinister, so heartbreaking (despite the blurb) because this is so much more than a murder mystery.  It’s about the dark-side of human nature which comes to light when overcome with temptation.

Humanity was like any animal under pressure, whether it was for love, money, or life.  When it counted, the dark monsters inside of ourselves, the part of us we denied, would shed our compassion, feast on blood, and consume our hearts.

4 out of 5 stars

About Author

Author-Photograph-Ermisenda

Along with numerous solo works, Ermisenda began writing on role play sites at fourteen and completed her first crime novel at fifteen. Driven by the desire to evoke the kaleidoscope of emotions her favorite authors are able to, she kept writing. Growing up bilingual amongst her Spanish family in Australia, she found a love and deep appreciation for language and the power it wielded.

Now she’s working on a joint project with coauthor Eliabeth Hawthorne. Ermisenda has written Leocardo’s perspective of Blind Sight #1, the first book in an urban fantasy series that changes depending on whose perspective you’re reading.  So the question is, “whose eyes will you read through?”

bannerblogtour copy

This post has been part of the Poisoned Waters Blog Tour. Poisoned Waters is a thrilling mystery set on a trans-Atlantic cruise where a murderer walks amongst passengers.

preview on Amazongoodreadsmark copy

Review: Peace, Love and Khaki Socks

peacePeace, Love and Khaki Socks by Kim Lock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Gifted by author

Of my first glimpse of this book I remembered thinking, hhmm… interesting title – bit hippie but yea… maybe… and I moved on. I am thankful though that Kim Lock approached me for a review as it prompted me to a closer look and acceptance. It was such a lovely, heart-warming book and I found myself (unconsciously) smiling all the time whilst reading it. I could barely wipe the smile off my face and it wasn’t because it was funny but because it was all so… relatable to myself as a mother.

Amy Silva has not thought about starting a family and definitely had no idea with what it will involve or what she’d need to do. So when she found herself to be with child, she was absolutely gobsmacked and lost. She tried to seek advice from a GP and then later her obstetrician as she tried to come to terms with her pregnancy but instead of feeling empowered, she felt merely incompetent. It seems that pregnancy just does not agree with Amy Silva.

Amy herself is very lucky in the love department. She is living with the love of her life and whilst their relationship isn’t without its rough patches, they are confident of each other’s love. As Amy struggles to understand pregnancy, its immediate and future consequences, she is really struggling to understand who she really is. Whilst this is not a ‘coming-of-age’ book as its standard definition, in a way it is similar to that or better put ‘coming-of-womanhood’.

Peace, Love and Khaki Socks is a book you can easily dive into and just continue on reading. You’d actually forget to surface to take a breather until something totally startling shocked you out of it. And when it did, I always found that I have unintentionally smiled the whole way through (sorry, train commuters, I swear I’m not a lunatic!). Whilst I couldn’t really relate to Amy’s concerns on pregnancy (I had different concerns), it reminded me so much of what I have forgotten in the experience of pregnancy and birth. There were times, however, that I thought this would’ve been ‘TMI moment’ if I haven’t gone through the same sort of experience. But since I had, I just found it hilarious.

I would recommend this book to all mothers out there –may it bring you many happy memories, and to all non-mothers (if you dare) –may it open your mind to possibilities.

I received an eCopy of book courtesy of author, Kim Lock, in exchange of an honest review (apologies for the delay). Thank you, Kim, for the smiles, reminiscences, and even some tears. Am awaiting your next work with great anticipation.

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Review: A Corner of White

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia and The Reading Room -get your own copy from The Book Depository

The front cover of the book quoted Markus Zusak, “Perfectly strange, and absolutely comical and heartfelt… Jaclyn Moriarty is one of the most original writers we have.” And I completely totally 100% in agreement with Zusak right there.

It is one of the strangest books I’ve read but in a good appealing way that somehow makes sense. I also found myself chuckling right from the very beginning and found some passages to be so touching that I found myself teary. A delicious read that led me on to sleeping late which resulted in a malfunctioned brain later on in the day.

‘She’s keen on you, Elliot,’ his mother told him. ‘I saw it clear as you like the other day when they were over.’
Elliot was quiet now, watching his friends disappear around the corner.
‘Don’t go starting something, will you? You’ll just go and break her heart. You’re perfect, see,’ his mother explained, ‘and that can be a flaw of its own.’
Elliot laughed. ‘Ah, perfect is like to a runaway palm tree with a head cold, or a dandelion uprooted in some other bizarre, unrelated thing. I’ll ge you the muffin from the truck.’

We follow 2 characters from 2 separate worlds with crack, just big enough for letters, between them. Elliot lives in the Kingdom of Cello where colours are to be feared –enemies that can affect your emotions, kidnapped you, killed you… A boy much-loved yet one who is suffering from the loss of a father. He would risk all to find and save his father.

Madeleine, on the other hand, lives in our world. Or at least, I think she’s supposed to be living in our world though the world from Madeleine’s perspective is so very strange. Being homeschooled with 2 other teens frees you up a lot but then again, Madeleine’s not short in imagination. I found her a bit hard to grasp to begin with but not until all was revealed near the end that I started to really liked her. Madeleine, Jack and Belle lived in a wonderful world of their own.

‘Do you actually believe in reincarnation?’
‘Of course I do. Have you not listened to a single word I’ve said? All of us are reincarnated. We all come back under the twelve different signs of the zodiac so we get to draw on the twelve different elements of our character, and I happened to be a Scorpio when I was hanging with Byron.’
‘I thought you were a guinea hen.’
‘Not a scorpion, a Scorpio. A Scorpio guinea hen, and there’s nothing hilarious about that, a guinea hen is a noble creature and I held my head high when I was one. It’s true that I don’t have exact memories of my former lives, but I’ve got glimpses and sensations and so on, and if you would ever, sort of like, listen to your heart, you might get glimpses of your own past lives too. You might even meet yourself from a former life, so, you know, be ready to be polite.’
‘OK, that part makes no sense.’
‘Sure it does,’ said Jack. ‘You never listen when I talk, do you? Time is crumpled, see. I’ve told you that before. It’s sort of folded on itself – there’s really only one time and it’s now, and Rhani’s goldfish there could easily be you from a former, or even future, life.’

Elliot and Madeleine started to correspond accidentally. This concept kind of remind me of The Lake House (an adult movie starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves) and especially, one moment in the book with the ‘instant’ correspondences. I had to watch the movie again right after I finished reading, of course, I loved the movie and I adore this book… can’t wait for the next instalment!

Thank you Pan Macmillan Australia and The Reading Room for providing a copy for me to read (what a pleasure!) and review

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Review: The Women in Black

The Women in Black by Madeleine St. John
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: My local library – get your own copy from The Book Depository OR direct from Text Classics.

This book tells the lives of the Sales Assistants in Ladies’ Cocktail Frocks of the posh F.G. Goode department store. There are Patty, Fay, and Magda (a Continental in charge of Model Gowns –one of a kind gown available in one size only). Lisa (aka Lesley) had just done her Leaving Certificate (ie. HSC) and is looking to earn some pocket money during the Christmas / New Year’s period. These ladies are required to dress in the uniform black dress (cut in 1930s style).

They are heart-warming stories that tickle with endings to melt your heart and make you smile in remembrance. From Patty’s cold & childless marriage, Fay’s failures for love, to Lisa’s yearning to be grown up, there are anecdotes there for readers to identify with and sympathise. The chapters are very short and made this book to be very quick read (only a couple of hours) but really enjoyable. If you’re looking for a relaxing beach read – I’d totes recommend this book.

‘I’ll see,’ she said. ‘But Lisa! Lisa! How could you such a thing? To change your name like that, and not a word to me. It’s so sly.’
‘Oh Mum,’ said Lisa. ‘I didn’t mean to be sly, I didn’t. I just wanted – I wanted a real girl’s name. Lesley is a boy’s name.’
‘It’s a girl’s name too,’ said her mother. ‘It’s spelt differently for a boy.’
‘But it sounds the same,’ said Lisa, ‘ that’s what counts. I wanted a proper girl’s name, for when I grew up. I’ve been a child for so long now; I want to be grown up.’
‘Oh Lesley—‘ said her mother, ‘Lisa. If you only knew what being grown up can be like, you wouldn’t want to do it any faster than you have to.’

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Review: Playing Beatie Bow

Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It looks like I’ve got a really good start, this year, in catching up with the Aussie lits. This is another classic which pretty much everybody has read but me! Seriously, looking at the cover, I thought it’d be something creepy (a quote at the back of the book reads, “It’s Beatie Bow – risen from the dead!”) but it’s not at all creepy! It’s a time travel tale which I adore and I love this book!

Abigail Kirk is not perfect. She was hurt deeply years ago and has never let go. She felt that she should and she wanted to but she doesn’t know how. It took a trip in time for her to learn about love and what it means to love. The ending, whilst pretty predictable, also carried a twist which I didn’t expect.

The story is set in Sydney’s Rocks area and I had in my head through the book the images of cobblestones paths, sandstone buildings, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge… One of the loveliest places around! This is one of the factor of my loving this book because I can see it clearly in my head as I know the place well 🙂

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