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Showing posts from January, 2015

What About the Cover?

Never judge a book by its cover, they say. But we do it every day, ignoring the boring thumbnail on Amazon, leaving the uninteresting spine on the bookstore shelf. But most of my books are read on kindle and kobo, given by authors or friends or friends of friends, and weighted with promises to review. The cover's the bit I rarely even notice, if at all. In fact, my review list is so long now, I rarely even remember the back-cover blurb by the time I start to read, and every tale is a brand new picture writing itself to the page.

That said, while reviewing in the presence of my mum, I've paid more attention to what the books look like. So here are some quick reviews, coffee recommendations, and comments on the covers:

Starting with Adelita's Secret by Christopher Cloud, a young adult novel that starts like any other teen romance, then flies with delightfully innocent time travel into heritage, honesty and hope. I loved the book (well, apart from its slow start), but the cov…

What was New Zealand really like in colonial times?

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Today I'm welcoming award-winning short-story author Rebecca Burns to my blog. Her latest book, The Settling Earth, was published in December by Odyssey Books, a small publisher based in Australia. It contains an interconnected collection of stories set in colonial (historical) New Zealand - a fact which immediately makes this ex-pat want to read them. I'm delighted to have the book on my virtual bookshelf, and I'm eagerly awaiting some real time to read. So... over to you Rebecca. Just what was nineteenth century New Zealand like?


The Settling Earth – life in nineteenth-century New Zealand by Rebecca Burns In the nineteenth century, a section of middle-class British society was faced with a difficult choice. Unmarried women, with little hope of meeting a future husband, either had to face social disdain by going out to work, continue to be reliant on elderly parents, or, as many brave souls did, take a leap into the unknown and emigrate. Indeed, the nineteenth century saw th…

The Languages of White Swans

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Today I'm delighted to welcome author Annamaria Bazzi back to my blog. Her new book, White Swans, A Regency World, has just come out, and we're sitting here drinking coffee and eating chocolate chip cookies (gluten free of course), so please feel free to join us.

Hi Annamaria, and welcome to my blog. Having learned that you speak English, Italian and Spanish, I'm wondering what other languages you speak, and whether you think being multilingual helps you write.

The only other language I speak is Sicilian, the dialect from the province of Agrigento. The language is completely different from Italian and I still have a bit of a hard time sounding out the words when I read. Does speaking other languages help my writing? Not really, the only advantage I’ve found is that when I need to use some Spanish in my novels I don’t need a dictionary of translator. I’ve used both Spanish and Italian in Incantation Paradox, although I’m not sure if readers appreciate it.

I guess when you do n…

Johnny Nothing and A Writer's Life

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Today I'm delighted to welcome author Ian Probert to my blog. His first children's book is Johnny Nothing, and he's here to share his experience of a Writer's Life -- what happens next when your heartbreaking work of staggering genius starts breaking your heart. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure this is quite what happened next -- hey, I've looked on Amazon and Ian Probert has lots of great reviews -- also lots of books. But hey, you can judge for yourselves; there's an excerpt from Johnny Nothing (with pictures) at the end of this post, and there's a contest too. So read on. Welcome to my blog Ian, and thank you for visiting me with your heartbreaking tale of well-staggered genius.



A writer’s life – the reality by Ian Probert
You’ve written your first book. You’ve sent it off to a dozen agents and one of them has liked it and decided to represent you. Said agent has suggested changes, which you wordlessly resent but grudgingly acquiesce to. Your rewritt…

Resting my eyes and reading, or maybe drinking coffee.

My Mum had her cataracts removed a few years ago. The operation went really well, and she was enormously excited at being able to see again. Still, when she visited me, I would always be the one who could find my way around the local supermarket. Familiar aisles combined with my younger eyes and faster reading speed I supposed... and so I continued to suppose until this year. But now it's Mum who says, "Sheila, the milk's over there," and, "It says hair products are on that aisle," as we wander in search of shampoo. It doesn't seem fair.

I went to the opthalmologist again yesterday and learned my "not yet ripe" cataract has a spur that's growing through the center of the lens. Nobody's sure, but that could be why I'm starting to struggle so much. So here I sit today, after all those tests, with itching eyes well-washed with sandpaper, a headache that says don't try to look too closely at anything, decisions to make about whethe…

Suddenly space

I've taken down the ornaments, removed the lights, and taken out the most wonderful tree we ever had. The season's over, and it's sad. But Mum's still here and sons still promise to visit and life is good. It's just hard not to mourn the passing of that beautiful, beautifully decorated, beautifully scented piece of wood that has dominated our living room. Suddenly space... and maybe time to read.

With my apologies for late posting of these book reviews, promised last year, posted in this...

And with the sincere hope you'll find a cup of coffee as well as a good book to your taste.

First is a Christmas story - late I know, but with a message for all seasons. A Christmas Gift from the Past, by S.A. Molteni is a sweet short seasonal story, told in a convincing conversational style with complex sentences, drifting memories, and a beautiful message for all seasons. Enjoy with a lively easy-drinking 2-star coffee.

Hearts at Play, by Melissa Foster is a sweet romantic …

Do Rubbermen read YA Dystopias?

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Today I'm delighted to welcome author Joseph Picard to my blog as he enjoys a tour with http://www.ladyreader.net/. We're enjoying a virtual snack and talking about the joys of Young Adult fiction, dystopias, and the Rubberman's Cage, so please pour a cup of your favorite beverage and join us. 

Me: What's your favorite YA novel or series, and why?


JP: Does Harry Potter count?

Me: Absolutely!

JP: It feels like HP preceded the YA label, and kind of doesn't slip super-neatly into the category... but I'll go with ole' Harry. I'm not a big fan of writing magic, but I can read it pretty happily. And many of the characters have very believable coming-of-age arcs.

Me: What do you consider was the most influential dystopian novel written to date, and why?

JP: I'm going to have to go with 1984. It's bloody iconic. Even people who don't give a second thought to the word 'dystopia', or even know what 1984 is, know that Big Brother is something to be w…

The Steampunk Garden

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Today, as part of the b00k r3vi3w tours celebration, I'm spotlighting a steampunk, middle-grade novel inspired by the Secret Garden. I thought it sounded a pretty intriguing idea. And now I've seen the cover, well, I'm definitely intrigued.

 ABOUT THE BOOK Inspired by the classic novel The Secret Garden, Jane Yates introduces us to a steampunk world of bio-domes, robots and mysteries. Eleven-year-old Aberdeen is so used to being by herself that all she has to fill her thoughts are stories of mighty dragons and grand castles. Aberdeen’s world is soon thrown into disarray however; her parents murdered.
Having no choice, Aberdeen is sent to live with her uncle back on Earth where her fascination into her new surroundings begin to take hold. Untrusting of new people at first, it isn’t long before Aberdeen comes across 3 other children, and taking a risk, befriends them as she tries to adjust to her new home. And yet, along with Maisy, Peter and Lenard, Aberdeen comes across a r…