About: Buying Thyme by TJ Hamilton


Title: Buying Thyme {Thyme Trilogy #1}

Author: TJ Hamilton

Published: Harlequin AU October 2015

Status: Read from October 27 to 30, 2015 — I own a copy

What else comes at a price?
Miranda is a high-class escort at an infamous agency in Sydney, and always in demand from their top clients. Although it’s a life she never imagined for herself, Miranda has mastered the art of seducing men and makes a good living from it.
Joe Tench, rich, powerful and alluring, owns the majority of the nightlife in Sydney and is a regular client of Miranda’s. He’s demanding, dominating and dangerous, but Miranda finds herself falling for his unexpected, yet enticing charm.
That is, until she meets the mysterious Tom Smythe, heir to a wealthy mining company, and becomes caught between her feelings for these two very different men.
But neither is what they seem, and when tragedy forces Miranda to embark on a journey of discovery she will find it difficult to escape from. What price will she pay for freedom?

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Review: All I Have in This World by Michael Parker


Title: All I Have in this World

Author: Michael Parker

Published: Algonquin Books March 2014

Status: Read from March 13 to 16, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I’m left fairly underwhelmed by this novel which takes almost half the book to get to the point where it reflects the precis provided by the blurb.

The narrative shifts between 1994 and 2004 revealing the protagonists defining life moments. For Maria this is fleeing her hometown at seventeen after an abortion and the subsequent suicide of her boyfriend. For Marcus it is the failure of his dream, forcing him into bankruptcy and robbing his sister of her rightful inheritance. They are strangers when they meet in a car yard (nearly halfway through the book) and inexplicably decide to jointly purchase a sky blue, low slung Buick Electra.

The main themes of the novel explore regret, forgiveness and redemption but I had trouble maintaining my interest in two such introspective characters. Their angst about their individual circumstances seemed repetitive at times and the streams of consciousness were tiring. One sentence ran over three pages (p220-224) and it was not the only one.

I did like the vignettes that shared the history of the car and its previous owners and I would have liked more of these to provide additional interest.

All I Have In The World is the sort of novel that will likely gain praise for its literary style and I have to admit the imagery is often wonderful but it didn’t really work for me, in retrospect I probably should have put it aside instead of pushing through.

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Review: Confessions of a Wild Child by Jackie Collins

Title: Confessions of a Wild Child: Lucky-The Early Years

Author: Jackie Collins

Published: Simon & Schuster Au September 2013

Read an excerpt

Status: Read from October 12 to 14, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

It has been years since I have read anything by Jackie Collins but I have fond memories of the early books that featured Lucky Santangelo. I think I was maybe eleven when I discovered Chances and was immediately enthralled by the glitz, violence and sex, a heady combination for a young suburban girl half a world away from Las Vegas. Lucky was wild, powerful and rich and I vaguely remember thinking I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. So, when I was offered the chance to read and review Confessions of a Wild Child: Lucky-The Early Years I simply could not resist.

This book begins as Lucky, just shy of fifteen years old, is sent to an exclusive girl’s boarding school with her father, Gino, intent on making his daughter into a lady in preparation for marriage and motherhood. But boarding school gives Lucky an education neither she nor her father expected,

Confessions is written from Lucky’s first person, present tense perspective. It reads as if a teenager wrote it with simple language and breathy dramatic asides “No more little Miss Innocent.”. It didn’t really work for me, the experience is not unlike reading your own teenage diary twenty years or more after the fact, without the rosy glow of nostalgia.

If you have read Chances or Lucky there won’t be any surprises in this book, Lucky’s youthful antics have already been covered there. The plot is shallow with the focus on Lucky discovering the power she wields with her burgeoning sexuality, on her terms. There is plenty of sex, though little that is actually explicit. Lucky is all about ‘Almost’, though friends Liz and Olympia aren’t so discerning. The story ends on the eve of sixteen year old Lucky’s marriage – you’ll have to read Chances to find out what happens next.

I have no idea who the audience for this book might be, I wouldn’t hand this over to a teenager (hypocritical I know) and for fans of the Lucky series, Confessions has nothing new to offer. While it was sort of nice to be reminded of my first experience reading Jackie Collins, Confessions itself was a disappointing read.

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Review: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

Title: Big Girl Panties

Author: Stephanie Evanovich

Published: William Morrow July 2013

Status: Read from July 08 to 09, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Edelweiss}

My Thoughts:

As the niece of Janet Evanovich, I was more than willing to give debut author Stephanie Evanovich the chance to impress me. The premise of this romantic comedy, Big Girl Panties, seemed promising. I much prefer a protagonist with average attributes and I looked forward to Logan shedding his bias to recognise that beauty is more than skin deep.

Sadly, while I think the writing was fine in general, I really struggled with particular elements of the story.

Primarily I was disappointed at the negative messages inherent in the relationship between Holly and Logan. Though the author makes an attempt to frame the issue of Holly’s weight with reference to health rather than attractiveness, it is a half hearted effort. At its core, the story still relies on the stereotype of the fat (and therefore ugly), lonely, jolly girl who, only after losing weight, becomes someone worthy of sexual attention and happiness (and the hot guy).

What had me almost toss the book aside though was the scene (just after the halfway mark) where Logan, with the encouragement of Chase, decides to spank Holly for talking back to him. Spanking is supposed to be a consensual activity within the terms of a loving and trusting relationship for the purpose of sexual arousal, it is not about disciplining a woman for a perceived slight. This scene not only soured me on Logan (and Chase and Amanda’s relationship) but also Holly, as while she slapped him in outrage, minutes later she is ashamed and embarrassed because ‘Logan has done nothing but help her’ and then the scene segues into their first sexual encounter – ugh!

Despite the temptation to put the book aside I kept reading hoping that Evanovich would turn things around somehow. Unfortunately, while Logan may eventually fall in love with the curvy Holly, there is no evidence that he has changed his attitude regarding ‘fat’ and should Holly ever gain back a few pounds I’m not convinced the relationship would survive. Meanwhile, Holly ends up staking her entire happiness on Logan’s acceptance of her and that is never healthy.

While I think Stephanie Evanovich was aiming to present an entertaining romantic comedy, in the final analysis, for me, Big Girl Panties was a disappointment.

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Review: The Last Victim by Karen Robards


Title: The Last Victim

Author: Karen Robards

Published: Random House August 2012

Synopsis: Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Charlie regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. Obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes, Charlie desires little else from life—no doubt because when she was sixteen, she herself survived a serial killer’s bloodbath: A man butchered the family of Charlie’s best friend, Holly, then left the girl’s body on a seaside boardwalk one week later.
Because of the information Charlie gave police, the Boardwalk Killer went underground. She kept to herself her eerie postmortem visions of Holly and her mother. And even years later, knowing her contact with ghosts might undermine her credibility as a psychological expert, Charlie tells no one about the visits she gets from the spirit world. Now all-too-handsome FBI agent Tony Bartoli is telling Charlie that a teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. Bartoli suspects that after fifteen years, the Boardwalk Killer—or a sick copycat with his M.O.—is back. Time is running short for an innocent, kidnapped girl, and Bartoli pleads for Charlie’s help. This is the one case Charlie shouldn’t go near. But she also knows that she may be the one person in the world who can stop this vicious killer. For Charlie—whose good looks disguise a world of hurt, vulnerability, and potent psychic gifts—a frantic hunt for a madman soon becomes a complex test of cunning, passions, and secrets. Aiding Dr. Stone on her quest to catch a madman is a ghostly presence with bad intentions: the fiery spirit of seductive bad boy Michael Garland who refuses to be ignored, though in his cat and mouse game they may both lose their hearts. Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. And she sees the Boardwalk Killer coming for her. Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on August 04, 2012 {Courtesy Random House/NetGalley}

My Thoughts:

I jumped at the chance to read the first book in Karen Robard’s newest series with its intriguing premise. Dr Charlie Stone studies serial killers, the motivation her own narrow escape from the Boardwalk Killer as a teenager. It has been 15 years since that terrible night but it seems the Boardwalk Killer, or a copycat, has surfaced and the FBI need Charlie’s help if they hope to save his latest victim. Using her expertise in profiling, and her hidden ability to see the spirits of the newly dead, Charlie assists the FBI team to piece together the clues that may end up leading her right into her worst nightmare.

I have no way of justifying my assessment of this novel without possibly revealing a spoiler related to the romantic element of the story, so read on at your own risk…

There was a lot that I enjoyed about this novel but within the first few pages when Dr Charlie Stone describes a serial killer, Michael Garland, sitting across from her during a clinical assessment, as ‘hot’ I was taken aback. Despite being jarred by what seemed to me to be a totally inappropriate descriptor, I dismissed it and kept reading. A few pages later and Garland is stabbed as he returns to his cell and despite her best efforts, Charlie is unable to save him. While I admired Charlie’s determined effort to save Garland despite his obvious fatal wound, I was a bit disturbed by the depth of her pity for a man convicted of murdering seven women as she witnesses his spirit being pulled into a purple mist, but again I chose to brush it aside. Yet from there the relationship between Charlie and Garland took a path I was even less comfortable with as Garland’s spirit attaches itself to her. Between Charlie’s repeated admiration of the dead man’s physique, charm and her inexplicable sympathy for him I was incredulous, however I held on, thinking that we would discover that in fact Garland wasn’t responsible for the murders after all, he was wrongly accused or framed or something. Garland certainly denies his guilt, but the lack of ‘the light’ and the presence of the ‘screaming mist’ seems to at least confirm the man has done something unsavoury and by the end of the novel there is no evidence that Garland was anything but a serial killer, abusive childhood non withstanding.
I just couldn’t deal with this relationship, especially when it becomes sexually intimate, which I thought was wrong on so many levels. Even if the author reveals in later books of the series that Garland is innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted, it will be too late for me.

It’s a shame because there were other elements of the story I enjoyed yet I can’t get past the romantic relationship and I can’t recommend The Last Victim for that very reason, though others seem happy to overlook it, given its average 4 star rating on Goodreads. It’s not for me though, you will have to make up your own mind.

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Review: The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

Title: The Cookbook Collector

Author: Allegra Goodman

Published: Atlantic Books June 2012

Synopsis: At the turn of the last century, two sisters are following very different paths. Twenty-eight-year-old Emily is a CEO of an internet start-up; twenty-three-year-old Jess is a grad student in philosophy, a vegan who rejects the rampant capitalism that surrounds her. Pragmatic Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley while capricious Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily’s boyfriend is fantastically successful; Jess’s boyfriend is an environmental activist. But as the burst of the Dotcom bubble looms and the falling towers of the World Trade Center cast a dark shadow over America, both sisters are torn between two loves, two lives. The Cookbook Collector serves up a lively stew of characters: bold young software titans, Berkeley tree-huggers, bibliophiles and a pair of investment savvy rabbis. In an increasingly virtual world, in an era of electronic organizers and onscreen identities, Allegra Goodman reminds us that the one thing that keeps us human is love.

Status: Read on June 23, 2012 {Courtesy Allen & Unwin Australia }

My Thoughts:

Actually this won’t be much of a review because after trudging through the first half of the book I basically skimmed the last, as I found that I had lost interest somewhere along the way. This novel revolves around two sisters, dotcom executive Emily and hippie philosophy student Jess, and takes place between the autumn of 1999 and the spring of 2002, against the backdrop of the tech boom and bust and September 11, set primarily in California. The novel compares the  paths the two sisters take in their relationships and career, contrasting their differing approaches to life and its challenges.

I’m not sure exactly why I failed to connect to the sisters, I found Jess more interesting than Emily, but only marginally and primarily because of her work in a rare bookstore. The story is cluttered with minor characters who are given too much importance through in some cases only a tenuous connection to the sisters.

I felt the plot had little in the way of action or drama, circling around the imminent public offering of Emily’s company for far too long and failing to move either character forward in the first half. What I would consider the pivotal plot points (family secrets revealed, Emily’s fiance’s betrayal, the dot com collapse, 9/11) are primarily crammed into the last 100 pages or so though there are multiple threads that don’t really seems to go anywhere.  I also thought he title of this novel misleading, it had very little to do with either the characters or the plot, except in the most oblique way.

This is not a novel that worked for me, but if you are considering reading it, it does have several positive reviews on Goodreads and Amazon so I encourage you to get a second opinion, and if you have one, feel free to leave the link to your review in the comments.

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Review: Demons Like It Hot by Sidney Ayers

Title: Demons Like It Hot {Demons Unleashed #2}

Author: Sidney Ayers

Published: Sourcebooks Casablanca Dec 2011

Synopsis: Serah SanGermano runs a successful catering company in a Midwestern town. After she inadvertently helped her friend unleash a legion of demons, she’s been trying to hide her own newly discovered powers. Matthias Ambrose, a mysterious demon mercenary sent to protect her, has his own secret— one that will embroil them both in the scandal from hell.

Status: Read from November 23 to 25, 2011 — I own a copy (Courtesy Sourcebook/NetGalley)

My Thoughts:

I was tempted by the premise of this paranormal romance novel, it sounded fun, the cover is great and I am happy to give a new series a try. Unfortunately within a few chapters I realised it wasn’t going to for me, even though I forced myself to finish the book, determined to give it a chance.
For my tastes there was entirely too much angsty ‘I can’t/I can; I hate/I love’ going on. The heroine was in serious denial about every. single. thing. and there was barely any room for a plot in between the wailing monologues. I also thought was a lot of repetition in both information and phrasing.
The talking cat with the incomprehensible Scottish brogue was a step too far for me. On the up side, I liked several of the minor characters like Kalli and Edie and the idea to feed the demons colloid silver was inspired.
While Demons Like It Hot didn’t work for me, if you are a fan of paranormal romance then take my opinion with a grain of salt.

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Review: The Christmas Cookie Chronicles: Carrie by Lori Wilde

Title: The Christmas Cookie Chronicles : Carrie (A Twilight, Texas Story}

Author: Lori Wilde

Published: Avon Impulse Nov 2011

Synopsis: Come join a meeting of the First Love Cookie Club! “On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your own true love, he will be your destiny.” Carrie MacGregor doesn’t believe this—not one bit. She might be a “paid up” member of the Cookie Club and the local Sweethearts Knitting Club, but she’s not about to give in to the forced ho-ho-ho of the season. And why? Mark Leland. When he left town he broke Carrie’s heart. Now, the local-guy-made good is back, hosting the reality show “Fact or Fantasy.” Fact: Mark broke her heart. Fantasy: her friends think they’ll be getting back together. But could the magic of a Twilight, Texas Christmas make Carrie’s secret dreams come true?

Status: Read on November 23, 2011 — I own a copy {Courtesy Harper Collins/NetGalley}

My Thoughts:

Since the season is nearly upon us I couldn’t resist the lure of this title when it was offered. It sounded like a sweet and easy holiday read, which it was, kind of, but in a empty calorie kind of way.
There was no mention of it being a novella in the description so this was an unexpectedly short read with not a lot of substance. There was simply no time for anything but vague characters and a bare bones plot and I repeatedly felt like I must have skipped a dozen pages here and there. I can only surmise that the actual intent of this story is to introduce the cast and setting for the actual series, a teaser if you like. I would have preferred to know that going in though because I was disappointed it wasn’t the full length novel I was expecting.
I also discovered I was very distracted by the town being named Twilight (especially having seen Breaking Dawn just a few days ago), I kept waiting for a Bella or Edward to appear, unfair perhaps but the association is unavoidable I think.
Personally I read The Christmas Cookie Chronicles: Carrie in less than a half hour so it would make for a quick lunchtime or commuter read. If you are a fan of romance then this is a way to sample Wilde’s Twilight, Texas series and get into the festive spirit as well.

This title is currently available for FREE at Amazon.com. Click HERE to download it for your Kindle, Kindle PC or Kindle App

Review: Elf Girl by Rev Jen

Title: Elf Girl

Author: Rev Jen

Published: Gallery November 2011

Synopsis: From the acclaimed author of Live Nude Elf, Rev Jen recounts her rise from art school misfit to “patron saint of the uncool” in this wry, irreverent memoir. Artist, mail-order Reverend, and all-around creative type Rev Jen is known for sporting elf ears and being curator of a Troll Museum inside her sixth-floor walkup apartment on the lower east side of New York City. She counts among her accomplishments being creator and host of “Anti-Slam,” an open-mike series where everyone gets a perfect ten (which The Village Voice calls “performance meets cry for help”), and working as a Christmas Elf at Bloomingdales. Now, this anti- Sex and the City girl and cheerleader for nonconformists, geeks, and oddballs of the world delivers a funnier, quirkier version of I Was Told There’d Be Cake or The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club . She’s zany, eccentric, and hopeful, and her unchecked candor makes her impossible not to love, as she recounts various tales from her colorful life.

Status: Read on October 26, 2011 — I own a copy {Courtesy Simon & Schuster}

My Thoughts:

I had never heard of Rev Jean but the blurb of Elf Girl promised humour and wry observation and I was hoping for something lighthearted from this memoir as I needed a break from some recent somber reads.
I did smile in a few places, but shook my head in a lot more and a little psych 101 may be the saboteur in this case, because mostly I felt a sort of pity for Rev Jen. This is an autobiography of a persona that has devoured it’s host, and while she seems to believe it is all wildly exciting and special it seems to me that she is mostly lost and directionless. Jen’s love life is a series of shambling disasters, she drinks and drugs more often than she eats and subsists in poverty.
Constantly striving to outdo herself Rev Jen takes maniacal glee in creating shock and awe amongst her friends and strangers. Art may well be subjective but just as I find Jason Pollock’s supposed genius inexplicable I fail to see the the artistic merit in pancake batter, painting a penis purple on stage or pretending to be a fifth teletubby. There is no sense of irony here either, the Anti-Slam participants take them selves incredibly seriously despite the sheer lunacy. I imagine some of it is fun when you are in the midst of the craziness and have a bit of a buzz going but as an outsider I view it as mostly just bizarre and desperate.
The epilogue is probably the most revealing and honestly introspective section of the book. Despite being of similar age to Jen my life has taken a completely different direction and while she talks of the freedom of being an unconventional artiste I actually think she may have less, tangled up in “panic, anxiety, low self esteem, hypomania and Budweiser” as she is.
Unfortunately I couldn’t lose myself in the antics of Rev Jen and friends to enjoy this book. Perhaps the current crop of restless twenty somethings will admire her irreverence, I can only wish her a happy life, whatever that means to her.

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Review: Lucinda’s Web by Dorothy Morrison

Title: Lucinda’s Web

Author: Dorothy Morrison

Published: Willow Tree Press August 2010

Synopsis: Magic With No Expiration Date Can Be A Dangerous Thing…Tess Logan knows magic. She knows how it works, why it works, and what it takes to make it work. But that’s not all. She also knows how to make it happen. It’s simply a part of who she is: For Tess Logan-despite all the other attributes that make her such a thoroughly modern woman-is a thoroughly modern Witch.
No amount of magical experience or expertise, though, could have ever prepared her for this. In fact, she never even dreamed it possible: A living, breathing set of spells cast more than a hundred years ago with enough stamina to follow her into the present day. Yet, here it is, writhing and twisting with activity, permeating every sector of her life, and slipping its tentacles into the lives of everyone she holds dear. Now, she’s faced with having to disentangle each slippery strand and destroy the magic without destroying those she loves-or herself.

Status: Read from August 08 to 10, 2011 — I own a copy {Courtesy Willow Tree Press}

My Thoughts:

A hundred year old curse reaches out from the grave to ensnare Tess Logan in a tragic cycle of love, lust, betrayal and murder in Lucinda’s Web. A bitter rivalry for affection led to the laying of spells whose power reignites when Tess moves opposite a cemetery, and then meets Luke Benson. As the curse strengthens, Tess’s friends are drawn into it’s web with each having a part to play in the unfolding drama. Unless they can solve the century old mystery and destroy the charmed objects they are all at risk of forfeiting their lives to the past.

The main thrust of Lucinda’s Web is interesting and well thought out. As a practicing Wiccan Priestess, author Dorothy Morrison uses her knowledge of the occult to include magic, hoodoo, reincarnation, possession and more to develop a creative story. After a somewhat slow start there is plenty of tension as the curse tightens and the ending has a chilling twist but I think that the plot was almost overwhelmed by Morrison’s technique of using several of her characters to tell the story, in both first and third person points of view. The transitions were not always easy to follow and for me, the story often felt disjointed and crowded.
Morrison’s characters are all very strong personalities. Tess smokes like a chimney, drinks copious amounts of coffee, swears like a sailor and has the temperament of a cut snake, all unusual traits I would have thought for a Wiccan witch and her tendency to take offense at almost everything annoyed me. An aggressive tone is present in many of the other characters as well, even in the most benign of interactions there are a lot of exclamation marks, capital letters and italics used. I struggled to relate to any of the cast which affected my enthusiasm for the story.

There are not currently a lot of reviews for the book but it has earned high praise from other readers. While I think the book had a strong concept and the writing was of a good standard, unfortunately Lucinda’s Web didn’t really work for me. I picked it up and put it down several times over a few days and had I not been committed to reviewing it, I’m not sure I would have finished.


About the Author

Dubbed by Publishers Weekly as “a witch to watch,” Dorothy Morrison has garnered numerous awards for her writing, including the 1999 COVR Visionary Award for Best General Interest Book (awarded for Everyday Magic), the 2000 COVR Visionary Award – Best Biographical Memoirs (awarded for In Praise of the Crone: A Celebration of Feminine Maturity), and the 2008 COVR Visionary Award – Best Wicca/Paganism Book (awarded for Utterly Wicked). Morrison’s other works – The Craft, The Craft Companion, Bud Blossom and Leaf, Yule, The Whimsical Tarot, Enchantments of the Heart, Magical Needlework, Everyday Tarot Magic, Everyday Moon Magic, Everyday Sun Magic (the highly anticipated fourth book in the Everyday Magic Series) – have consistently won her the high praise of readers and critics from all walks of life.

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