Review: This Is Not A Book About Benedict Cumberbatch- Tabitha Carvan

This is Not A Book About Benedict Cumberbatch

Tabitha Carvan

Fourth Estate

Harper Collins

ISBN:  9781460760659

RRP $32.99

Description:

If you feel that sense that there is something missing from your life, some gap between who you are on the inside and who you are on the outside – then this is the book for you.

This is, as the title says, not actually a book about Benedict Cumberbatch.

In fact, it’s a book about women and what we love, about what happens to women’s passions after we leave adolescence and how the space for joy in our lives is squeezed ever smaller as we age, and why. More importantly, it’s about what happens if you subvert that narrative and simply love something like you used to.

Drawing upon her personal experience of unexpectedly falling for the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch while stuck at home with two young children, Carvan challenges the reader to stop instinctively resisting the possibility of experiencing pleasure. Hers is clarion rallying cry: find your thing, whatever it may be, and love it like your life depends on it.

Funny, intelligent, transporting and liberating, this book is a total joy.

Witty, erudite and fierce in its message – that women should seek joy and find fun. Happily, this book provides both in abundance. I loved it.‘ Jacqueline Maley

You know when you bite into a chocolate, and unexpectedly discover it’s filled with delectable cherry kirsch that explodes into your mouth and oozes everywhere? That’s this book. Original, highly entertaining, fast-paced, personal read that contains unexpected revelations at every corner. It’s funny, it’s smart, it’s compelling. But most of all, it’s a battle cry: sit up, pay attention and follow your heart and find joy. After all, our time on this earth is short. C’mon. The clock is ticking.‘ Ginger Gorman

‘Intimate, self-deprecating … like an Australian Caitlin Moran or Dolly Alderton … an easy, lighthearted read about serious subject matter: feminism, passion, relationships and creativity, and owning the strength of the passions felt in childhood and adolescence.’ Books+Publishing

My View:

Let’s start with 5 star read. Wonderful cover art. A surprising, evocative, provocative and thoroughly enjoyable read. In fact I might even read this again and again. And that says something.

I picked up this booked – for two reasons- I do love the cover art and I am a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch since I discovered this video. I love his voice. Check this out. He “reads” poetry, letters….I would listen to him read a shopping receipt. 🙂

But I digress. 🙂

The book, though it does rave and gush about the wonders of the man Benedict Cumberbatch (to illustrate a point 🙂 ) it is actually a book about finding passion, finding yourself, acceptance and love. It is about discovering or rediscovering feelings, rediscovering self, honoring your self.

It is a fun, witty, intelligent and thought provoking read.

I loved this book.

Review: Game On – Tempting Twenty-Eight – Janet Evanovich

Game On

Janet Evanovich

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781398510135

Description:

Stephanie Plum returns to hunt down a master cyber-criminal operating out of Trenton in the 28th book in the wildly popular series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.

When Stephanie Plum is woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of footsteps in her apartment, she wishes she didn’t keep her gun in the cookie jar in her kitchen. And when she finds out the intruder is fellow apprehension agent Diesel, six feet of hard muscle and bad attitude whom she hasn’t seen in more than two years, she still thinks the gun might come in handy.

Turns out Diesel and Stephanie are on the trail of the same fugitive: Oswald Wednesday, an international computer hacker as brilliant as he is ruthless. Stephanie may not be the most technologically savvy sleuth, but she more than makes up for that with her dogged determination, her understanding of human nature, and her willingness to do just about anything to bring a fugitive to justice. Unsure if Diesel is her partner or her competition in this case, she’ll need to watch her back every step of the way as she sets the stage to draw Wednesday out from behind his computer and into the real world.

My View:

Very possibly the best book in this wacky and entertaining series! This is escapism at it very best – I love this series and look forward to the new Recovery Agent series that will be published early next year – this one looks like my type of read (at the end of Game on is a sneak peek of the first chapter in the new series).

Game on is a fabulous, light, entertaining, romantic ( this is how I like to read romance 🙂 🙂 🙂 ) slapstick read. Perfect to end this tumultuous year on.

Review: Fortune and Glory – Janet Evanovich

 

Fortune and Glory

Stephanie Plum #27

Janet Evanovich

ISBN: 9781472246196

Headline Review

Hachette Australia

 

Description:

The twenty-seventh entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series isn’t just the biggest case of Stephanie Plum’s career. It’s the adventure of a lifetime.

 

When Stephanie’s beloved Grandma Mazur’s new husband died on their wedding night, the only thing he left her was a beat-up old easy chair…and the keys to a life-changing fortune.

 

But as Stephanie and Grandma Mazur search for Jimmy Rosolli’s treasure, they discover that they’re not the only ones on the hunt. Two dangerous enemies from the past stand in their way—along with a new adversary who’s even more formidable: Gabriela Rose, a dark-eyed beauty from Little Havana with a taste for designer clothes. She’s also a soldier of fortune, a gourmet cook, an expert in firearms and mixed martial arts—and someone who’s about to give Stephanie a real run for her money.

 

Stephanie may be in over her head, but she’s got two things that Gabriela doesn’t: an unbreakable bond with her family and a stubborn streak that will never let her quit.

 

She’ll need both to survive because this search for “fortune and glory” will turn into a desperate race against time with more on the line than ever before. Because even as she searches for the treasure and fights to protect her Grandma Mazur, her own deepest feelings will be tested—as Stephanie could finally be forced to choose between Joe Morelli and Ranger.

 

My View:

Another entertaining, fun and at times, salacious read. Stephanie Plum falls, drops out of windows, headbutts the bad guy, runs through rat infested tunnels and generally attracts chaos and mayhem where ever she goes.  This is a fun light read that is guaranteed to make you smile and think about Ranger (or Morelli  or both) 😊

 

 

#FridayFreebie : Better Luck Next Time – Kate Hilton

Better Luck Next Time

Kate Hilton

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760878085

RRP $29.99

Description:

A generational family comedy for fans of EligibleThis Is Where I Leave YouHeartburn and television’s This Is Us

It isn’t easy being related to a feminist icon, especially when she’s celebrating the greatest moment of her storied career.

Just ask the daughters of Lydia Hennessey, who could have it all if only they’d stop self-destructing. Mariana, the eldest, is on the verge of throwing away a distinguished reputation in journalism, along with her marriage. Nina, the middle daughter, has returned from a medical mission overseas as a changed woman but won’t discuss it with anyone. And Beata, the youngest, has a hostile teenaged son who just discovered the existence of a father who didn’t know about him either. Meanwhile, their cousin Zoe is making divorce look like a death match, while her brother, Zack, is grappling with the fallout from his popular television dramedy, which is based far too closely on Lydia herself.

It might be easier to find their paths if they could step out of Lydia’s shadow—but the biggest women’s march in history is underway, and Lydia and her family are at the centre of it.

Over the course of an eventful year, the Hennessey children contend with the big struggles of midlife: aging parents, raging teens, crumbling marriages and bodies, new loves and the choice between playing it safe or taking life-altering risks. And as they inch toward a new definition of happiness, they might even persuade their parents—and themselves—that they’re all grown up.

 

**Giveaway ** I have 2 copies of this engaging, sometimes hilarious, honest and entertaining read to give away.  Its easy – in the comments tell me the name of the eldest daughter. I will randomly select and then email 2 winners – entries close 26th June 2020   **This giveaway is for Australian residents only**

 

 

**Winners have been notified and copies of the book posted out by publisher.**

 

 

 

Review: Mammoth – Chris Flynn

 

 

Mammoth

Chris Flynn

University of Queensland Press

ISBN: 9780702262746

 

Description:

Narrated by a 13,000-year-old extinct American mastodon, Mammoth is the (mostly) true story of how the skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a pterodactyl, a prehistoric penguin, the severed hand of an Egyptian mummy and the narrator himself came to be on sale at a 2007 natural history auction in Manhattan.

 

Ranging from the Pleistocene Epoch to nineteenth-century America and beyond, including detours to Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany, Mammoth illuminates a period of history when ideas about science and religion underwent significant change. By tracing how and when the fossils were unearthed, Mammoth traverses time and place to reveal humanity’s role in the inexorable destruction of the natural world.

 

My View:

This is not my usual sort of read – in fact it is probably unlike anything I have read before or will read again😊. The narrator is the voice of an extinct mammoth – one with a very droll sense of humour and a melodious story telling style. Simply put, I felt like I was a child, snuggled in a chair (or bed) being told a rambling bedtime story about the world as it was and how the hominids wreaked havoc and destruction on the environment.

 

The book is full of thought provoking and enlightening anecdotes, one that is a standout is the mammoth’s reflection on ownership. “Ownership is a strange, uniquely human notion. The bipeds are obsessed with staking their claim over places, people and things. I cannot understand it. No beast of air, land or sea ever asserted the right of possession over another creature, except to devour it. The hominids don’t even eat each other anymore.” p37.  Such a simply stated yet relevant observation, Mammoth is such a brilliant observer.

 

To complete this unusual read is a cast of curious (deceased, extinct, mummified or fossilised) creatures; the skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a pterodactyl, a prehistoric penguin, the severed hand of an Egyptian mummy. I particularly liked the irreverent voice of the Tyrannosaurus bataar.

 

This unusual book is the perfect read for these unusual times

 

 

 

Review: A Year in the Mud and the Tea and the Toast, My (Semi) Rural Kind of Life – Georgie Brooks

A Year in the Mud and the Toast and the Tears

Georgie Brooks

Bad Apple Press

ISBN: 9780648556916

RRP$27.99

Description:

After buying an old cottage in the Adelaide Hills, Georgie and her young family are transfixed with dreams of becoming hobby farmers, tending chooks, sitting by log fires, growing their own veggies and generally immersing themselves in the joys of nature. However, a stubborn cow named Ginger, acres of mud, a feral crop of artichokes, the coldest winter of the decade and a husband whose job means he is away from home most of the week but leaves him time to repeatedly bog the tractor on the weekends does not make their introduction to rural living ideal. Surely things can only get better from here …?

 

For anyone who has either made the escape from city living or dreams of doing so, A Year in the Mud and the Toast and the Tears is an entertaining and humorous story about a tree change with more than a rocky start.

 

My View:

This is the perfect tonic for these trying times. There are many genuine laugh out loud moments and situations that I could identify with. Let me share a few with you:

In this instance the water pump has stopped working ( the house relies on a rain water tank for its water supply) After unsuccessfully trying to solve the issue herself Georgie rings her husband who is at work (a doctor): pps82,83

Husband: “OK where are you?’

Georgie “Out by the water pump thing.”

Husband: “Have you turned it off and on again?”

“Yes,” through clenched teeth.

“Right, well, you’ll need to check the valves. Go and find the black most westerly valve on the eastern pipe.”

‘Trumping through the long grass looking desperately for pipes.’ “I can only find one pipe.”

“Is it far east?”

“I don’t know which way is east.” ( Yep that’s me 😊)

“Is it pointing to the big pin oak?”

“It sort of points between the two pin oaks?”

“Okayyy….” Muffled sigh. “Can you see a valve on it?”

“There are two black plastic turny things.”

“They control the valves. Can you turn the westerly valve off?”

Wait for it….I can just imagine having this sort of conversation with my husband…😊

“I don’t know which way is west.”

 

And so on…you can tell this is probably not going to end well. 😊

 

Then we get to the story of Portuguese Millipedes.  I thought this phenomenon was only local to the Perth hills and south west of Western Australia, I was wrong, South Australia suffers from them too.  “The millipede is small, black and shiny and looks a little like a centipede (except its named for its supposed thousand legs, rather than the centipede’s hundred legs). You have to peer very closely at it to work out the front form the back, but there’s a tiny pair of black antennae differentiating the front engine of the millipede/ Millipedes are about 2 centimetres long with a dense row of grey legs, and a little moustache like, underneath. They are attracted to light and to white things and when disturbed roll into a spiral. At first, we thought just see a few millipedes.  In fact, the baby is munching on the odd millipede and spitting it out in horror as she makes her way over the floor tasting everything in her path, is the first way I realise that the millipede is coming. Millipedes have a horrible smell and when you crush them this becomes even more potent. The baby soon stops putting millipedes in her mouth. Apparently, the millipede’s terrible taste and smell is part of its cunning plan for world domination, as nothing else on the planet wants to eat the millipede. They don’t seem to have a part in the food chain or any reason for their existence, except as a reminder of how minor irritations can overwhelm your life…It is as if some seasonal signal has awoken a zombie army of millipedes. They literally swarm into the house…”  (p92/93)

This problem is real. I feel Georgie’s pain as I sit here typing in the almost dark, too frightened to turn on the light in case I am assaulted by a million tiny wriggly legs… every morning walking around the house with a dust pan and brush (or vacuum cleaner) to sweep up a carpet of these pests. I hear you Georgie 😊

 

And then we have stories of uncooperative cows, gardening 101, the driveway (or rather ski slope to the road), renovations etc etc. But its not all hilarious gloom (if there is such a thing I think Georgie invented it) , Georgie peppers the tales with laughter, a good dose of Aussie self-depreciation, and with observations of the beauty of nature and her new life in the country.

 

This read is the perfect pick me up, the laugh you need right now. Thanks Georgie for sharing your warts and all tree change story.

 

 

 

 

 

Best Reads of 2019 – Romance/Life Lit/Womens Lit/Rural Fiction

In this category I prefer to read romance with a twist – a twist of social issues, a twist of crime or mystery, a twist of ….humour and fun.  Here are a couple of my favourites from 2019:

 

Love Song

Daughters of the Outback #3

Sasha Wasley

Penguin Random House Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143784562

 

 

When it All Went to Custard

Danielle Hawkins

HarperCollins

ISBN: 9781775541417

 

 

 

 

Review: When it all Went to Custard – Danielle Hawkins

When it All Went to Custard

Danielle Hawkins

HarperCollins

ISBN: 9781775541417

 

Description:

Odds of saving marriage – slim. Farming expertise – patchy. Chances that it’ll all be okay in the end – actually pretty good …

 

 

I wasn’t enjoying the afternoon of 23 February even before I learnt that my husband was having an affair …

 

The news of her husband’s infidelity comes as a nasty shock to Jenny Reynolds, part-time building control officer and full-time mother – even though, to her surprise and embarrassment, her first reaction is relief, not anguish. What really hurts is her children’s unhappiness at the break-up, and the growing realisation that, alone, she may lose the family farm.

 

This is the story of the year after Jenny’s old life falls apart; of family and farming, pet lambs and geriatric dogs, choko-bearing tenants and Springsteen-esque neighbours. And of just perhaps a second chance at happiness.

 

 

My View:

I cannot get enough of this authors writing! (I am still looking for a copy of Dinner at Rosie’s if anyone has a copy on their shelf somewhere).

 

Danielle Hawkins writes rural fiction with charm, wit, humour and engaging contemporary issues. Take a peek at the lives reflected here and you will see situations, landscapes (albeit New Zealand landscapes but they do translate well to Australian settings), and characters that remind you of places and people you know.

 

Danielle’s books always light up my day. More please.

 

 

An Insiders Perspective…Book Publishing: (Definitely) The Best Dogs of All Time

The Best Dogs Of all Time

(Definitely the Best Dogs of All Time

Jadan Carroll

Illustrations by Molly Dyson

Scribe Publications

ISBN:  9781925713510

Jadan Explains:

It happened in an all staff meeting in February this year. We were discussing our end of year list when Henry, our publisher, mentioned that he was looking for light-hearted gift books to publish in November for Christmas, and finished by saying ‘So if anyone has any ideas…’

He may have meant that comment to be taken rhetorically, but I took it quite literally.

Dogs are the best. There are, and have been, so many great dogs in this world. I reeled off a list of my favourite dogs from throughout history and suggested that we publish a humorous illustrated gift book about the best dogs of all time and call it (Definitely) The Best Dogs of All Time. I was happy enough just to make the rest of the office laugh, but everyone seemed to be very on board with the idea. I took a couple of nights to write up a proposal and it was jointly commissioned by our Senior Commissioning editor Marika Webb-Pullman and our Art Director Miriam Rosenbloom the following week.

The whole thing was turned around very quickly; I researched and wrote it in about three months at night or on weekends. Miriam Rosenbloom, our art director, suggested approaching Molly Dyson to illustrate it, I already knew Molly and was a huge fan of her work so I was quite thrilled by that happy coincidence and even more so when she said yes. She did such an amazing job working to a very tight schedule and the finished book looks amazing. She has such a unique style, and is fast becoming a highly in-demand designer and illustrator in the music and arts scenes in both Australia and Germany, so I felt very lucky to have her involved.

Our production manager Mick Pilkington described it as ‘shot-gun publishing’ and this seems like an apt description. It was such a fun project to work on and I’m very proud of it.

 

My View:

This is a fun and interesting read, the perfect gift for all dog lovers- however as the English Staffordshire Terrier is not represented on these pages – I have rectified that omission with this image of Bob the Dog – our furbaby and best friend.

Bob the Dog

 

 

Review: Restoration – Angela Slatter

Allow me to introduce to you a fantastic, Australian, new to me author, (and I ask WHY haven’t I heard about this author before now???)

angela slatter

Angela Slatter is the author of the urban fantasy novels Vigil (2016) and Corpselight (2017), and Restoration (2018) as well as eight short story collections, including The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, and A Feast of Sorrows: Stories. The third novel in the Verity Fassbinder series, Restoration, will be released in 2018 by Jo Fletcher Books (Hachette International). Vigil has been nominated for the Dublin Literary Award in 2018.

Angela is represented by Meg Davis of the Ki Agency in London: meg@ki-agency.co.uk

She has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, a Ditmar, an Australian Shadows Award and six Aurealis Awards.

Angela’s short stories have appeared in Australian, UK and US Best Of anthologies such The Mammoth Book of New Horror, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, and The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction. Her work has been translated into Bulgarian, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Polish, French and Romanian. Victoria Madden of Sweet Potato Films (The Kettering Incident) has optioned the film rights to one of her short stories (“Finnegan’s Field”).

Vigil has been nominated for the Dublin Literary Award in 2018.

She has an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing, is a graduate of Clarion South 2009 and the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop 2006, and in 2013 she was awarded one of the inaugural Queensland Writers Fellowships. In 2016 Angela was the Established Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre in Perth. She has been awarded career development funding by Arts Queensland, the Copyright Agency and, in 2017/18, an Australia Council for the Arts grant. (http://www.angelaslatter.com/)

She is the author of the novellas, Of Sorrow and Such (Tor.com) and Ripper (in Horrorology: The Lexicon of Fear).

And all of the above is why, when I was offered the opportunity to read the new release Restoration (part 3 of the Verity Fassbinder series) I leapt at the chance. Angela Slatter is possibly the most awarded writer I have ever had the pleasure to review.

 

 

           Restoration

Verity Fassbinder #3

Angela Slatter

Hachette Australia

Jo Fletcher Books

ISBN: 9781784294380

The Verity Fassbinder series is what may be compartmentalised as urban fantasy or paranormal fiction; looking closely, this called also be  called an engaging, quirky, Australian narrative about love, family, reconciliation, retribution and tolerance – yes there is a lot happening in this novel. Did I love reading this book, this series? Yes I did.

Snappy, sharp dialogue with contemporary pop culture references ensure this above all else this is a fun read. Larger than life characters, escapades, a few deaths, Verity Fassbinder’s life is busy. Add to the mix a new boyfriend, an ex she still works for and uncle with a third eye in the back of his head all living in downtown Brisneyland, Queensland, Australia and you have a cast and locations that will keep you entertained for hours!   (*Authors Note – The city is not the city. Though I do live in Brisneyland and have used as the backdrop…I must confess that I have played fast and loose with some of the details. I’m sorry West End and I am really sorry Gold Coast.  I’m a writer. It’s fiction…while the reader will recognise certain landmarks and suburbs, Verity’s city is not quite the city you know. It just looks a bit like it, seen through a glass darkly. Enjoy the journey) *Authors Note – page 7 Vigil

 

Reading this series reminds me that I have not read much in this genre since the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris. I did enjoy that series, for the most part, but Verity Fassbinder series is so much more. The snappy dialogue dripping with sarcasm, the locations,  the intrigue and above all – the honest and grounded character that is Verity Fassbinder make this a fabulous must read. I am sure you will enjoy it too.

 

Angela Slatter can be reached  here: me@angelaslatter.com