Wednesday, 31 July 2013

WWW: 31 August


Morning all, I don't have much to report today as you will see as I answer MizB's questions.

What have I finished reading?

Sadly, this is the first week this year that I haven't completed a book. It feels so weird, but I blame this:


My furniture left for England yesterday. Needless to say, the week has been hectic, stressful and horrible getting it all ready. I will be following it in a couple of weeks. 

What am I reading?

Two books actually, one for a blog tour I'm part of and one for love.

The blog tour first:
Dragonwitch (Goodreads) 
I remembered yesterday (moments before the container arrived to take all my wordly junk) that I have to post a review for this on the 4th of August. So I started it yesterday, reading in snatches. It's not a good book to read in snatches. Too many complicated names so beloved by some fantasy authors. So I will start it again today to give it a fair hearing! Review will be up by the 4th.

Forged in Blood II (Goodreads)
I'm so sad to have to put this on hold for my review commitment, because I am loving it. It's the final book in the Emperor's Edge series (Goodreads). Will be sad when it's over.

What am I reading next?


My Own Mr Darcy (Goodreads)
I have another blog tour coming up for this, so I will dive in as soon as I finish Forged in Blood II

So that's me. Leave a link and I will call on you.

cheers
Gwynn

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Monday, 29 July 2013

Oh dear me, trouble under the sea! Of Triton by Anna Banks


Of Triton (Goodreads)

Okay, let me begin by saying that while the book was hardly Shakespeare, I did enjoy Of Poseidon, the first in this series. Review here. It had lots of sexism, was as shallow as a teaspoon, but it was also fun. And it was my first foray into the murky waters of the merfolk - know as Syrenas in this series. So I was looking forward to a similar swim with Of Triton.

Umph . . . I wish I could say the book delivered, but somehow it fell short.

The first part, where Emma and her mom are on the run from Galen and the other Syrenas was exciting enough, but once discovered, the book quickly spiralled down into two star read for me. I found Emma whiny and childish. (She freely admits to this, but that doesn't make her any more endearing) Galen lacked his usual sexist charm. (If you can call it charm) And the story very soon became bogged down with an under-water tribunal at which the two royal houses are on trial. Instead of keeping me hanging onto the edge of my coral with courtroom drama, I found it quite boring.

Added to that, we have a wonderful cliche thrown into the mix . . .  a special gift, lost for eons to the house of Poseidon, miraculously appears in two of the characters - just in time to save the day. Also the ending, which should have been really exciting, just felt forced and flat - as if Anna Banks was trying to tie up loose ends.

The only surprise in this book - a very unexpected one -  was the death of a major character. I'll give Anna Banks her due, I didn't see it coming. That twist lifted the book from awful to okay. What does it say about me that it takes a death to change my mind? I think that will have to be the subject of a another post on another day. . .

I see on Goodreads that there is supposed to be a third book in this series: Of Neptune expected in 2014. I cannot for the life of me imagine what more Anna Banks can bleed from this story. (As previously pointed out, the plot was already as shallow as a teaspoon)  I, for one, will not be reading it.

Now I know I'm in the minority here given that Of Triton is enjoying a stunning 4.8 worth of stars on Goodreads, but for me it remains a wishy-washy two star book. Have you read it? What did you think? Leave a comment and let's chat.

Cheers
Gwynn

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Friday, 26 July 2013

Frivolous Friday: I'm better at hello than goodbye



In the movie, Out of Africa, Karen Blixen, one of my all time greatest heroines, immortalized the phrase: "I'm better at hello than goodbye."

I know how she feels. With my move to the UK now imminent, I'm suddenly so aware of what I'm leaving behind on the African continent. I don't even want to mention my friends or my beloved aunt and mother-in-law, my last remaining family here. The loss of you all is just too painful to consider. So, I allow my mind to drift to other, less tangible things, but no less painful . . .

That eerie royal-blue sky just before a thunderstorm when the light is so vivid all the colours stand out in bold relief. The Jacaranda trees, shining purple and almost too brilliant to look at against that sky . . .

The smell of the dust when the first raindrops, the size of shiny coins, splatter the ground. A burnt smell, almost like ozone after a lightning strike . . .

Lightning . . . that incredible cosmic pyrotechnic display that entertained me as a child and thrills me as an adult . . .

Catching the first whiff of the evening campfire, that indescribable smell of burning mopani or camel thorn wood, that spells closure of the day . . .

Insane sunsets . . .  purple, orange, pink, red, black and blue. Yes blue, as the day fades and the night claims the sky. Venus, always first, looks down on us, cold and uncaring . . .

Steak cooked on the coals. The aroma of bread or a cake baking . . . Birthdays spent in the bush, complete with frosting on the cake, balloons and candles . . .

Long evenings around the fire. Laughter. Songs. Every world problem solved . . .

Even longer walks into the bush to see the stars. All sixty billion spangled galaxies there on display in a sky unpolluted by anything but dust . . . Humbling. Uplifting. Inspiring . . .

The heady scent of wild sage perfuming in the night air . . . Nights filled with the promise of hyena, genet and other noctural visitors to the campsite . . .

The smell of elephant dung, shouting wild, free, open spaces in a language that is unequivocal . . .

The azure sky - not milky-white as one sees so often in the northern hemisphere - arched above, stretching on forever, home to soaring eagles and squabbling sparrows. Endless. Unchanging.
Home . . .


Have a wonderful weekend.

Cheers
Gwynn





Wednesday, 24 July 2013

WWW: 24 July


Welcome to Wednesday! And, of course, WWW, hosted by MizB. Thanks you MizB, as always!

I'm delighted to say that I'm through my reading funk. 
I think it was caused by too many review commitments. Darn that Netgalley! 
I've decided I hate having to read under pressure to get a review out. 
Lesson learned? 
I'm only requesting books I'm absolutely drooling over. The hard won experience of a book blogger!
 Thus the sun shines again on my world!

So what have I been up to?

I've just finished . . . 

 Of Triton (Goodreads)
I will be posting a review of this next week. In the meantime, let's just use that wonderfully expressive word: meh.



Shades of Earth (Goodreads)
In a word: Brilliant. You can see my review here.

What am I reading now?


Forged In Blood II (Goodreads)
This is the final book in this brilliant series. I'm taking it slow, savouring every morsel.

Next on my plate?

I'm not sure. 
I might pick up on a couple of my other unfinished reads: 

Touch (Goodread)

A Study in Silks (Goodreads)

Or I could do something totally new and fresh. That's the joy of no reading pressure.

I'm excited to see what you are doing. Leave the usual link, and I'll pop round.

Cheers
Gwynn
PS. I'm running another giveaway for a $15 Amazon Gift Card or a book of your choice to the same value from The Book Depository. Feel free to enter.

Lazy Days of Summer Spontaneous Giveaway Hop


I cannot resist spontaneous, so here's another quick giveaway. 
Thanks Kathy and Colormetry for hosting.

My prizes?

You can win either a 

$15 Gift voucher from: 



OR

A book of your choice to the same value from:



Have fun entering

Cheers
Gwynn
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 22 July 2013

US versus UK covers: Across the Universe Series by Beth Revis

The same books. . . Such different covers
Which do you prefer? 


Across the Universe (Goodreads) is the first book in the series, and I must say I far prefer the UK version. Someone said it looks like two fish kissing, but I don't see that. I see romance amongst the galaxies, which is exactly what the first book in this Sci-Fi series is about. 
The US version reminds me too much of the US cover of Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.


A Million Suns (Goodreads) is the second book in the series. These are the covers it has been graced with. Again, I far prefer the UK version (The book I have in my shelf) I think it is more evocative and compelling than the US version.



Shades of Earth (my review) is the final book in the series. Again, I think the UK cover far outshines (excuse the pun) the sludgy picture that appears on the US version. I am so glad my bookstore stocked the UK version. The US one would have ruined my whole look!

But these are just my opinions. What do you think? Leave a comment and let's chat covers.

Cheers
Gwynn

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Saturday, 20 July 2013

A brilliant ending to an amazing series: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis


Shades Of Earth (Goodreads)

For pure originality, depth of characters and imaginative world-building you cannot beat the 
Across The Universe series. (Goodreads

In this, the final book in the series, Amy and Elder and fifteen hundred of the Godspeed residents land on their new home, planet Centauri-Earth. Unfortunately, they quickly discover that the planet is far from welcoming. Hostile is how I would describe it. The stories they had been told before leaving the Godspeed about 'monsters' are real. They are being picked off like flies, with someone dying - often brutally - every day. But before Elder can even establish his leadership, Amy immediately sets about unfreezing her parents and the other military personnel and scientists. This brings instant conflict. So instead of working together, the Earthborn and Shipborn fight each other instead of their common enemies - the aliens who already inhabit the planet.

So what did I think of Shades of Earth? 

I admit it took me a while to get into. But that was for a very simple reason: Amy made some early decisions that made me really cross. (I tend to get very invested in books I love) But in hindsight, if she hadn't been so selfish and stupid I suppose we wouldn't have had such a thrilling read. So I guess I forgive her. Elder did, so how can I be so hardhearted?

The pace is fast, the tension high, and the characters hopped off the page. 

Beth Revis needs a round of applause for her world-building. 

As she says in the acknowledgement section of the book: 
"the problem with discovering a whole new world is that it could be anything, and without the guidance of Ben Schrank and Gillian Levison, Centuri-Earth would be nothing but a pale imitation of what it is now. They made me dig into the sandy soil and uncover what lay beneath the surface of the planet; they tilted my head to the skies so I could see the pteros flying there, and they led me to the poisoned heart of the world and helped me to discover a way to cure it."

And what a thrilling ride that journey was.

 Once over my fit of pique with Amy, I sucked Shades of Earth up like I was there.  I felt every bit of tension, every pain, every loss (and trust me, people die in this book. There are no sacred cows. If a character needed to die to move the plot along, then . . . off with their heads)

The book definitely showed us the seamy side of human nature. Greed. Prejudice. Fear. Beth Revis asks us to decide what really makes a person a human being. Very thought-provoking.

The Heroes?

For me, the real hero of this story is Elder. He became a man in this book, a leader anyone would be proud to follow. Amy? She got off to a slow start, but by the end she had found her place in the world and became a person of real substance. I salute what she made of herself, despite the horrendous challenges she was put through.

The Love?

The romance was there, but it definitely took a back seat to the action. And that suited me fine. A love triangle threatened, and for a moment I thought Amy was going to do something really unforgivable, but her love for Elder held true to the end. I was very pleased about that. I think I would have coughed up a pteros egg if a love triangle had developed.

Stars?
Five gleaming galaxies. 

Other series Across the Universe competes with

If you love the Under the Never Sky series (my reviews here and here), then you will enjoy this too. Other brilliant series which also run neck to neck with Across The Universe are: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (My reviews here and here) and The Grisha. That gives you an idea of how amazing these books are.

Have you read the series? If so leave a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

cheers
Gwynn
P.S.  In case you're wondering, I own two copies of this book: The Kindle version and the paperback. I bought both. Why the paperback? I had to complete my paper collection. I love looking at the covers!

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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

WWW: 17 July


I am very much in the market for new reads, so I'm excited about this week's WWW hosted by MizB. I can't wait to see what you are reading. Me? It's been a patchy, hop-around, can't settle anywhere sort of week as you will see from my post.

What have I finished reading?

I've had such a sloooooooooow reading week, it's just not funny. All I managed to complete was:

Blue Eyes and other Teenage Hazards (Goodreads)

This was a fun, quick and a contemporary romance. The characters made me smile and the romance was totally unpredictable. I liked that. It also has a bit of a Katie McGarry feel to it which added a sparkle. I did enjoy it.
Stars: four

What am I currently reading?

Oh man, this is where my wheels fall off.
I'm like a grasshopper at the moment, completely unable to settle and finish anything.
Someone please tie me to a chair, put one of these books in my hand and don't let me get up until it is finished.
The books are - in no particular order:

Shades of Earth (Goodreads)
I love this series, but so far I'm not enjoying Amy, one of the MCs, so the book languishes . . . 

I've wanted to read this for ages. Now I've just started it and Deznee, the narrator, is a bit rough around the edges and she's taking some getting used to.

Of Triton (Goodreads)
Oh dear me, trouble under the sea!
I'm not sure why I'm struggling with this one. I mean, it's not as if it's rocket science . . .

A Study in Silks (Goodreads)
This has so much going for it. Great character. Interesting plot. What's the matter with me?

So please help
Tell me which of these to finish.

What am I reading Next?

One of the above. Please tell me which it should be!
Thanks you. I can't wait to read your comments.


Cheers
A very confused Gwynn
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Monday, 15 July 2013

Call me a Mother Grundy but . . .

I have decide to join a new weekly meme, so welcome to my first . . . 


Musing Mondays hosted by MIzB asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it! 
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!



My Booking Musing?
 Sex and bad language in books loosely labeled Young Adult and New Adult. 
I know by writing this post, I'm laying myself open to accusations of being a Mother Grundy. Oh well, my shoulders are broad, (far too broad given that I've put on about ten kilos recently), so I can take it.

Now, I know how liberating Fifty Shades was for very many people, knocking the pornography versus art debate out of the corner and into the ring. But, sadly, Fifty Shades has not only 'liberated' adult fiction. It has also torn the lid off all literature. It's now okay to write detailed descriptions of sexual encounters in books aimed at a younger audience that a year ago would have been taboo. In the Young Adult genre most us love, we have now even had to accommodate a new sub category to cope with the sex and language. We call it New Adult - and boy oh boy, it seems that just about anything goes in some New Adult.

I've just finished reading two New Adult books - I won't mention the names because I don't want them to sell more copies. One was set in Paris with two horny college students and one was in a high school. Honestly, after reading them I came away shell-shocked. The language and sexual descriptions were just OTT. (Over The Top for those unfamilar with the acronym) Back in 1914 when the term OTT was coined (and from when my values obviously date) going OTT meant getting your head shot off. Today, OTT in YA and NA literature just means more book sales. Sorry, but I'm not buying it. Somewhere a line must be drawn.

Yes, human beings of all ages have sex and use bad language. In fact, in some places in South Africa (thankfully not in my neighbourhood) parents send their daughters (often as young as six) to school wearing female condoms because rape is so prevalent. Even babies as young as six months frequently hit the headlines due to brutal rapes. So I really get the concept that sex is part of life. All one can hope is that sex can also be a normal part of life. One where children are protected. 

And that is where my moan comes in. When does it become acceptable to expose children (and I include most teenagers in that category) to sexual activity? For me it's marriage. For you it may be something else. But does that mean we have to titillate the rising generation with moans and thrusts in the books they read? Do we have to turn every romance into a how-quickly-can-I-get-into-a-compromising-situation-with-him event?

I know many of you will disagree with me. I may even see a drop in my readership. You might even shout at me in the comments, telling me to get real or to change my reading habits. All that is cool. You are entitled to your opinion, just as I'm entitled to mine. And my opinion is that I'm tired of feeling I need a brain flush after reading YA or NA books loaded with foul language and explicit sex. I read this genre precisely because I want to avoid those things. And it really ticks me off that it's becoming harder and harder to find great reads that don't descend into sex and profanity to sell stories. And the truth is, explicit sex isn't necessary to create a bestseller. Think about The Hunger Games, The Iron Fey series, Through the Ever Night series, Divergent, Throne of Glass, The Emperor's Edge  . . .  the list goes on. So why do authors do it?

Oh well, maybe I'm showing my age or my 1914 values. But that's me. But in my heart, I honestly believe that I'm not the only woman out there who feels this way. Or am I? Maybe it's time to weigh in on the debate. Please leave a comment, I'd love to know your views.

Cheers
Gwynn



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Sunday, 14 July 2013

Books that don't walk-the-walk-and-talk-the-talk AKA Don't match the hype.

I think I'm jaded. Yup. I've admitted it. Jaded. Burnt out. Ticked Off. Call it what you will, but I'm really struggling to get excited about my current reads. Cleverly, my judgement is off because I'm curling my lip up at books everyone else is raving about. 

Or, just maybe, everyone else is wrong and I'm right and the books are just too hyped and don't deliver. I'll leave it to you to decide. 


So what book got me going this time?





Eleanor and Park (Goodreads)


Come on, how can one not get excited about a blurb that says:

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet? 
Shallow, confused, then dead. 
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers. 
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be. 
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

Well, I got excited when I saw it. Very. A contemporary romance set in the eighties! That's my era! I know exactly who Bono is! And that stuff about Romeo and Juliette - hey, I'm there!!!! 

So I dumped my entire TBR, rushed off to Amazon and, one click later, was cuddled up in bed with Eleanor and Park. Now, I won't go as far as to say that I promptly fell asleep, but it was close. 

What went wrong?
Maybe it was the hype. I was expecting SO much. Every review, every post I'd read about it shouted Katie McGarry at me (Pushing The Limits and Dare You To), so I was expecting something amazing. And it wasn't. It just wasn't. 

Eleanor and Park are both endearing wackos (two weirder misfits you'll be hard pressed to find) and their love is very tender, but the book was boring. There I said it. I kept waiting for something dramatic to happen, but all they did was spend a year riding on the school bus together. And for the first six months of that year they didn't even talk to each other!!!!! Go figure.

And then enter the evil stepdad . . . the Katie McGarry twist. Ho-hum. Maybe I am jaded, but all he did was ensure the book had a rotten ending. Urgh . . . that's me spitting out a hairball. I'm sick of books with horrible endings . . . see my post here on that subject.

Also, I get the New Adult genre. It's for authors who want to write books just a little steamier, just a little racier, and maybe with the odd bit of bad language thrown in that would never glide by in Young Adult. I'm okay with that - up to a point. But for me, the rapid fire of F's in the first three pages of Eleanor and Park overshot the limit by a mile. Really nasty language. 

Dare You To by Katie McGarry is not exactly tame when it comes to language, but it fitted the characters and the context. I felt in the beginning of Eleanor and Park it was used for shock value to show just what a jerk the school jock and his crew of merry men and women were. But honestly, I'm sure that with a little bit of creative thinking, Rainbow Rowell could have come up with something more engaging than pages of dialogue peppered with the Fword. And stepdad's contribution? Well, I think there are other, far less offensive words that could have done the same job. Yuk. I think I'll just give my brain a quick flush.

So, all told, the book was a fail for me. Stars? Two. Aren't I the were sad one?

I would love to know your view. Leave a comment and let's chat.
cheers

Gwynn


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Friday, 12 July 2013

Frivolous Friday: Elephant Hugs

It's a week ago since I abandoned the family and shot off down the coast to Knysna to see my aunt. See post explaining all here. Anyway, while I was there, we visited the Knysna Elephant Park. The Tsitsikamama Forest near Knysna used to be home to hundreds of elephants, but poaching and hunting have brought the natural herd to the point of extinction. (There are still wild elephants in the forest, but in numbers so small you can probably count them on one hand) So, enter the Knysna Elephant Park. 

At this sanctuary rescued elephants are ambassadors for the entire ellie species. Visitors, like us, are able to touch these giants. You can even get an ellie cuddle - like I did from this six-year-old baby boy. Standing next to him, rubbing his leathery, bristled skin was thrilling. 

Me, getting hugged by an elephant

Being shadowed by his giant matriarch Sally? Not such fun. 

Me and Sally
That was just plain intimidating. She is HUGE. Her legs are like oak trees  - and you can imagine if one of those fell on you.

South Africa has one of the largest, most viable elephant populations left in the world, but due to limited habitat and elephants natural tendency to wreck their environment, the South African Wildlife Department run regular culls to keep the herds healthy. This controversial programme does result in orphans. The Knynsa Elephant Park is just one place where these babies find homes. 

Do I agree with culling? 
I believe elephants are akin to dogs, dolphins and whales when it comes to pure intelligence. I lived for a year in the Okavango Delta in Botswana where wild elephants were as common as sparrows. They visited my home daily, ripping up trees, threatening to flatten my house, entertaining Andrew and my guests with their incredible - and often dangerous - antics. I adore them. They are without doubt my favourite wild creature. 

But I have also seen them amble through a forest, snapping the trees like they were matchsticks, moving on without even feeding, leaving total devastation behind them. This natural behaviour seriously threatens their own and other animals viability. In the day when Africa was theirs, it didn't matter, but now with people, governments and borders, that lifestyle just isn't an option. So, sadly, yes, I do believe in controlled culling by humane wildlife experts. And thank heavens for places like Knysna Elephant Park who step in and help with the casualties when things go terribly wrong.

Hope you like my pics. Have a happy weekend.

cheers
Gwynn
PS. Don't forget to drop in and visit Elisa for her Frivolous Friday.




Wednesday, 10 July 2013

WWW: 10 July


And so the weeks shoot by . . .  
Thanks to MizB for hosting. 

To be honest, I'm in a bit of a reading funk at the moment. I'm pretty stressed out by my impending move to the UK, which is playing havoc with my mind. Getting my family together for that epic adventure is a bit like herding cats . . . Also, when I get stressed, I usually bury myself in my own writing, which I have been doing a lot of lately. Obviously, for an author, that is a good thing. I will be sharing more about that journey with you in later posts. But in the meantime, let's play . . .

What Have I finished reading?

You can read my review here

And

Eleanor & Park (Goodreads)
My review for this will be posted next week. In the meantime, let me say that the word 'underwhelmed' springs to mind!

What am I reading Now?

A Study in Silks (Goodreads)
I've just started this Seam Punk fantastical mystery, and am really enjoying it. 

What will I be Reading Next?

Shades of Earth (Goodreads)
I started this some weeks ago, but had to put it aside due to review commitments. Can't wait to get back to it. (And it will soon be the subject of a US versus UK cover comparison)

So that's me. Can't wait to see what you've been up to.

cheers
Gwynn

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And the Winner Is . . .


An enormous thank you to everyone who entered my Freedom to Read Giveaway. The best part of the fun for me was reading your comments on my various posts. I hope everyone who entered and poked around my blog found something interesting and worth coming back for. If you did, then I consider us all winners even if you didn't snag the actual prize. I am also grateful to all my new Twitter followers. I hope my inane tweets will keep you entertained too.

So who did win the $15 voucher?
Congratulations to 
Caroline McMaster
I have emailed you, and as usual, you have thirty six hours to claim your prize.

Have a wonderful day everyone.
Cheers
Gwynn




Monday, 8 July 2013

Grumble Grumble: Books With Unsatisfactory Endings

We've all read them. Books which start off great, sucking you in, leading you along a happy path of escapism, only to dump you with a resounding thump at that the last page. Grrrrr. I've just had a run of them and it's left me feeling justifiably ticked off. So I thought I'd share a little rant with you about two such books that really got up my nose. The first is:

Saving Wishes by G.L Walker-Smith (Goodreads

Firstly, who wouldn't be intrigued by a book with a cover like this?
Then the blurb . . . 
For Charli Blake, being seventeen is a tough gig.
She's been branded a troublemaker, her reputation is in tatters and she's stuck in Pipers Cove, a speck of a town on the coast of Tasmania. Thankfully, it's temporary. 

Her lifelong dream of travelling the world is just months away from becoming reality. All she has to do is ride out the last few months of high school, which is easier said than done thanks to a trio of mean girls known as The Beautifuls. When Adam D├ęcarie arrives in town, all the way from New York, life takes an unexpected turn. His arrival sets off a chain of events that alters her life forever, convincing her of one thing. Fate brought him to her. Saving Wishes is the story of a girl who doesn't quite fit the life she's living, and the boy who helps her realise why.

Sounds great, doesn't it? 
It is. 
I really enjoyed it because:

Tasmania is such a fresh setting.  
I've never read a book set in Tasmania before, have you?

The characters are fun and interesting.
Especially Charli. She's an intriguing girl, definitely scarred by her strange upbringing (She lives with her brother) All she wants is to leave her tiny life to explore the world with her best friend. 
And then there's Adam. He's pretty special too. Trouble is, he couldn't be more different to Charli if he had landed here from Uranus. 

And that's were the ending started going pear-shaped for me.  

How can an author write a book with such disimilar characters who fall so plausibly in love, but with no possibility of a happy ending?  That's what Saving Wishes is all about. 

As I say . . .  grrrrr.

It really felt that G.J. Walker-Smith was setting up a series and it didn't matter how she twisted her reader's emotions to get the much needed book two out of the plotline. So, I got to the end of Saving Wishes wondering why I'd bothered reading it. But if I could have left it there it would have been okay, but I can't. I'm now so invested in Charli (as I say, I really liked her) that I have to find out if it all works out for her. And I just hate that because I feel I've have been deceived and now I have to go via Zurich to get to Amsterdam, to find out what happens, if you know what I mean. 

So I say again . . .  grrrrrrr. 

Perhaps the only Saving Grace of Saving Wishes is that I didn't part with hard-earned cash for it. I got off Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

But I did purchase the next book on my grip list. 

In fact I bought the entire series . . . but the book that had me screaming blue murder and threatening to slit my wrists was  . . . 

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa (Goodreads)


Don't get me wrong, I think Julie Kagawa writes a brilliant book, with magical characters and INCREDIBLE world-building (Yes, I did just scream that a you). But the trouble is, after wading through The Iron King (my review here) and then The Iron Daughter (Goodreads) - both of which are essentially about a love triangel between Meghan, Puck and Ash - to finally get to The Iron Queen where I discover that Meghan and her chosen love are doomed and can never be together . . .  Arghhhhhh. This is me screaming. 

Why, I demand, stamping my foot? 
How is it possible I fell for this? 
But no matter how angry I feel, fall for it I did.

So what's the solution? 
I immediately rushed to the bookshop, spent more money and bought the final book in the series: The Iron Knight (Goodreads)

Brilliant marketing strategy Julie Kagawa and co. 
Thankfully, I had come to The Iron Fey party late so it was at least available for purchase.
Imagine if I'd had to wait a year? Grrrrrrr of note! 

But, I hear you say, it is a series, Gwynn, and you know series often end on cliffhangers. Yes, I know, grumble, grumble, but that doesn't make it right!

So did I enjoy The Iron Knight? Yes, I did. 
Did I get my money's worth? Sure. 
Did it work out to my satisfaction? Begrudgingly. 
I still don't like the Ice Boy much  . . .  Team Puck all the way . . . but that's not the point. 

Clever marketing and crafty writing left me hanging in a state of royal dissatisfaction at the end of a book and that's the point of this post.

So now it's your turn . . .  tell me about books that have left you high and dry, wondering why you even bothered.

Cheers
Gwynn


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Friday, 5 July 2013

Frivolous Friday: Flying The Coop!

Welcome to the weekend! And what a good weekend it's going to be. I'm abandoning my family to Andrew and am heading off down the coast for some R&R. My aunt lives in a gorgeous coastal town named Knysna (silent K), where artists, writers and dreamers collect. It's where I'm headed. (My aunt also happens to be a brilliant cook. Even better!)

The Knysna coastline, known locally as the Garden Route, is one of the most beautiful in the country. Pity my pics don't do it justice!

The Heads at Knysna


A lonely Beach below the Heads in Kysna

And the Knysna food speciality? Oysters. Great . . . if you like snot in shells.

Bordering Knysa is the Tsitsikamma Forest (don't ask me to explain the pronunciation of that San Bushman name) home to the elusive forest elephants. Tsitsikamma also hosts many fascinating myths and legends, some of which have been immortalized in the powerful writings of Daleen Matthee, one of South African's greatest storytellers.

So here's to the weekend. I won't be posting for a while because this is me signing out until Monday.

cheers and be happy
Gwynn



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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

My Wolf's Bane by Veronica Blade

  
  Different species. Mortal enemies. It'll never work, but they'll die trying.

Are you looking for a fun, light-hearted paranormal romance for the summer? Or winter, if you're in the southern hemisphere? Yes. Then My Wolf's Bane (Goodreads) would be a good choice if you're not too picky about originality of plotline. This is a typical school-based paranormal where the girl - Autumn Rossi - meets the strange new hottie - Zack de Luca - and (surprise, surprise) they fall passionately in love. 

Okay, maybe it's not quite so straightforward . . .  

Like all angst-filled teenage romances, Zack first takes an instant dislike to Autumn. He acts like he hates her, yet he keeps bailing her out of trouble. Not only is Zack both insufferable and irresistible, he seems to sniff her anytime he gets close. And that is the key to the story . .  . Zack is a werewolf. And Autumn? I'm not telling you other than to say she can suddenly outrun every critter in the forest, making her wonder if she’s even human. 

The problem is that her 'species' and weres are mortal enemies. But like all headstrong teenagers that little fact doesn't stop their passions flaring. As it hots up, Autumn isn’t sure which is more dangerous: her psycho ex-boyfriend, or falling for Zack — who’s risking his life just by being near her. Although the plot is achingly familiar, the writing is good and there was enough action to keep me engaged.

The publisher is very clear on the My Wolf's Blane Goodreads page that this is a romance, meaning it's romance first and everything else is second. 

So, how did the romance do? 
I'm not sure romance is quite the word I would use to describe My Wolf's Bane. Lust works better, and Veronica Blade definitely knows how to write toe-tingling lust. She skillfully crafted the sexual build-up between them, peppering it with a healthy measure of misunderstanding and mutual embarrassment. The publisher rated My Wolf's Blane PG-13 for sexual situations and mild profanity. Being sensitive to steamy sex (I avoid it), I was pleased that the book remained a fairly clean New Adult read. I would have no problem letting my teenagers at it. 

And the characters? 
I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with Autumn and will seek her out in subsequent books. Veronica Blade also has two free novellas/segments written from Zack's POV which I read and really enjoyed. Lone Wolf - The Complication (Goodreads) and Lone Wolf - The Beginning (Goodreads) The fact that I hunted them down is testament to how much I liked Zack.

Any objections? 

Yes. In the beginning of the book, Autumn's parents are suffocating, even messaging her when she's in class. Then, suddenly, they agree to go away on an extended business trip, leaving her all alone. I'm sure that bit of out-of-character weirdness will be explained in subsequent books, but it detracted enough from the story to rob it of half a star. It felt like a typical YA plot device to get the heroine and the hottie alone together. Still, reading My Wolf's Blane was fun with a capital F. 

So how many stars? 
3.5 shaggy, black wolves howling at the moon.  

Just so you know, I won a copy of this book.

Cheers
Gwynn

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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

INDIEpendence Day bloghop from 2 - 5 July



Indie-authors? Some of us love them. Other won't touch them. 

Me?

I have read as many awful traditionally published books as I've read indie. 

And I've read as many brilliant indie books as I have read traditional. 

So as long as the indie book has been properly edited, I'm there, happy to dive in and enjoy the ride.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let's chat.

In the meantime . . .


This week, as part of INDIEpendence Day (hosted by the Indelibles), I'm sharing my all-time favourite indie author with you: Lindsay Buroker.


If you're new to my blog, you probably don't know that I'm involved in a passionate love affair with Lindsay Buroker's Emperor's Edge series (Goodreads). For my previous raves and to read my review of the first book click here and here


Today, it's the turn of Book Two - Dark Currents, (Goodreads) - to be loved. 


But first, what's it about? 
The Goodreads blurb sums it up beautifully . . .

It's been three months since former enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon and the notorious assassin Sicarius thwarted kidnappers and saved the emperor's life. The problem? Nobody knows they were responsible for this good deed. Worse, they're being blamed for the entire scheme. With enforcers and bounty hunters stalking them, and the emperor nursing a personal hatred for Sicarius, it's going to be hard to earn exoneration. When Amaranthe's team discovers mutilated bodies in the city aqueducts and a mysterious illness incapacitates thousands of citizens, she and Sicarius see an opportunity to solve the mystery and prove their loyalty. But they'll have to defeat vengeful shamans, man-eating predators, and deadly mechanical constructs, all while dodging imperial soldiers who would rather kill them than accept their help. Nobody said exoneration would be easy.

 Okay, with that out the way, let me tell you why I loved Dark Currents.

1. It's written from two POV's.
Amaranthe and Books, the disgraced history profession turned outlaw, share the stage.  
This adds real depth because not only are we following the main adventure, we also learn about Books, his background, fears and weaknesses. His sub-story adds to the richness of the plot. I'm glad Buroker chose to highlight him first because he seemed to me to be the weakest character. Not anymore. After Dark Currents, he's a vital asset to the team. And what would Maldynado do without Books to tease?

2. The plot and the setting are so original. 
Come on, high fantasy (which I love) set against an era of steam! How can that not thrill? Then you throw in the crazy magic with soul constructs and amazing mechanical devices and you're off to a hectic ride. 

3. More twists and turns than a spiral staircase. 
Honestly, the plot grabs you by the throat from the first page and doesn't let go until the last, leading you along such a convoluted path that it's impossible to second guess what will happen next. The tension is unremitting, broken only by the relentlessly funny dialogue.

4. The dialogue.
It's so sharp with endless one-liners which left me laughing out loud. Lindsay Buroker writes brilliantly.

5. The characters.
As I've said before, they're so real, I swear they live and breath in a parallel universe. 

Now, I'm not the only obsessed idiot out there. There's vibrant Fan Art page on Pinterest where other (more talented) hopeless cases like myself have created some stunning pics of the characters. I share three of these with permission from Lindsay Buroker. 



A great new Emperor's Edge group scene from Vaudevillian on the EE forum: the-emperors-edge... #fantasy #steampunk 

Amaranthe (in front) Sicirius (in monochromatic black) Books (leaning over the manuscript) Maldynado (disowned aristocrat, turned gigolo, turned outlaw) with his outlandish hat. Aksytr (wannabe magician . . . I mean Practitioner) pouring over a Made (Magical) Construct. Bald-headed Basilard.

Now for a look at the two POV characters in Dark Currents . . .





Our heroine, seen through the eyes of Jennifer, EE Fan Artist. 
I think it's a pretty good rendition of what the kick-butt Amaranthe looks like.



I must admit, this is not how I pictured Books. 
I saw him as much older and  . . .  fussy, almost like an old woman with wet knickers. By the end of Dark Currents, I held him in much higher esteem!
Pity the artist didn't leave a name. 

Well I think that's enough raving for one day. Anyone would think Lindsay is paying me to say all these nice things. I promise you, she isn't! I bought this book with own hard-earned cash. 


Stars?
Need I say it? Five, of course.


Where can you buy Dark Currents?

Firstly, I must tell you that book one, Emperor's Edge, is free everywhere.
Dark Currents is available on AmazonSmashwords/ Barnes & Noble


TO FIND THE OTHER BLOGS ON THE HOP, CLICK HERE

Cheers
Gwynn
PS.  The next EE series review will be of Deadly Games (Goodreads) which I will post next week. As a special treat I have an interview with Lindsay Buroker that I'm excited to share with you. I will also be posting a couple more pieces of fan art. In the meantime, don't forget to check out the link on Pinterest.


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