Sunday 29 December 2013

Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014

So I have decided to sign up or the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014. Admittedly I am not very good when it comes to challenges but I told myself that in 2014 I would join some and try my best to complete them so here I am signing up for my first challenge of 2014.
Here is some information about the challenge (for more info please go here.)

What is it?

The 2014 Australian Women Writers Challenge was set up to help overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women. The challenge encourages avid readers and book bloggers, male and female, Australian and non-Australian, to read and review books by Australian women throughout the year. You don’t have to be a writer to sign up. You can choose to read and review, or read only.

Choose your level:

Stella: read 4 – if reviewing, review at least 3
Miles: read 6 – if reviewing, review at least 4
Franklin: read 10 – if reviewing, review at least 6
Create your own challenge: nominate your own goal

I am choosing Miles, which I think will be a level that will be achievable for me.
If you would like to join in the fun you can sign up here.

Friday 27 December 2013

Captivate by Vanessa Garden

Title: Captivate
Author: Vanessa Garden
ISBN: 9781743566114
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: January 2014


In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems...

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko...the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets...

My Thoughts:

Captivate is a wondrous tale that is reminiscent of a childhood fairytale, a beautiful girl, a handsome prince (or in this case, a king) a kingdom in need of saving and plenty of secrets to keep you guessing.
 The concept of an underwater city is one that I adore and Garden's carefully crafted world and descriptive writing transports the reader to a glistening hidden paradise.
The characters are well written, with strong and complex  personalities, making them easy to connect with. All of the main characters evolve nicely throughout the story
The only part of Captivate that I had a problem with was the romance between Marko and Miranda, it felt rushed. I think it needed a bit more time to develop.
Captivate, as it's name implies, is a captivating read that is beautifully written. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for the ARC.

Friday 20 December 2013

Pawn by Aimee Carter

Title: Pawn
Author: Aimee Carter
ISBN: 9781743564974
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: December 2013



For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.

My Thoughts:

I did not really know what to expect when I started reading Pawn, I have not any of Aimee's other books so I was not familiar with her writing style, but I have read my fair share of dystopians. As far as dystopians go Pawn does not shine out as being completely original. Does this make it bad? No, after all corrupt governments and underground rebellious groups are one of many things that make dystopians what they are.

I found the main character, Kitty, to be tolerable, at best, she is strong, smart and brave but I did not find her to be a very believable character. She makes some horrendous decisions that anyone (especially someone of only seventeen) would take a long time time and think very seriously about. . On the other hand, the secondary characters, especially the 'villains' were great. They were well written and their motives were not just black and white, but included lovely shades of grey.

Aimee's writing style is not overly complex with rapid pacing, making Pawn an easy and relatively quick read, even for a fairly slow reader like myself. I really enjoyed how, as the title implies, the story plays out much like a game of chess.

Overall, while Pawn was not an outstanding read it was enjoyable and I am interested to find out what happens next.

Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for the ARC.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Right As Rain by Tricia Stringer

Title: Right As Rain
Author: Tricia Stringer
ISBN: 9781743564653
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Publish Date: December 2013


Mackenna Birch thinks she's met the man of her dreams while on holiday in New Zealand. Adam Walker is funny, kind and loving but he walks out on her, or so she thinks...

Hiding from a broken heart, Mackenna returns to the family farm in Australia. Then, out of the blue Adam returns. He’s made the trip Down Under to visit his sick grandfather and to track down Mackenna.

When he turns up on her doorstep to profess his love and find out why she ran out on him, Mackenna finds herself questioning his love for her...

My Thoughts:

I really seem to have jumped on the Australian rural romance bandwagon, although perhaps a lot later than most, and as they say, 'better late than never!' I am yet to find a rural romance that has disappointed me and I am happy to say Tricia Stringer's 'Right as Rain' has kept this streak running.
There seems to be a talent among the Australian rural romance authors of capturing the essence of country Australia and transporting into written form and Tricia Stringer is no exception. The Birch family's sheep farm, 'Woolly Swap' is portrayed beautifully, you can almost picture the sheep grazing in the paddocks and feel the anticipation of waiting for the rain. I loved the 'Gatehouse.' The whole paddock to table situation and being able to sample produce in the place where it is grown is seriously a winner. I know vineyards have been doing it or decades, but meat, vegetables and even fruits, what a great idea. Seriously if these places exist (and maybe they do and I have just been living under a rock!) someone please let me know!
Don't be fooled by the wonderful setting though, the best part of this novel is the dynamics between the characters. The tension between Mackenna and her family as they try to decide the fate of the family farm, the close bond between Mackenna and her childhood friend Hugh and the friction created by the unexpected appearance of the man who broke Mackenna's heart, Adam, make 'Right As Rain' a great read.
'Right As Rain' is a story of love, family and having the strength to stand up for yourself and your dreams. A fantastic read, perfect for a lazy summer afternoon.

Thanks to Harlequin Australia for the ARC.

Sunday 1 December 2013

What I Read - September, October & November 2013

It's been a while since I have done a 'What I Read.' I have been increasingly busy lately with Christmas on the way making work busier, and the warmer months has made me want to venture outside more to take care of my garden and going walking. So here is a rundown of what I have read in the past three months.

by Carly Drake
(ARC thanks to Harlequin Australia and Netgalley)

by George R.R. Martin

by Andrew Pyper

by Gena Showalter

by Patrick Ness

by Michael Adams