life can often feel like we're falling down a rabbit hole, into the unknown. it's a curious feeling. my name is annabel. i'm trying to navigate that rabbit hole, with the help of alice, who came before me.
What goes through your head when the person you love leaves you? What do you do with your life when you have to start it all over again? Do you make it up? Nata’s world fills with unanswered questions when Beto leaves her. But time doesn’t stop, and the stories that Nata begins to tell herself about her own life lead her to a place where everything becomes possible again.
I received a copy of The Imaginary Life by Mara Torres in exchange for a review and my honest opinion.
It took about three pages to fall into the world of this book. For a moment, I was confused – who was talking to who, where were we, what was going on? But then everything clicked into place, and my heart broke for Nata.
When her boyfriend decides that they need to go ‘on a break’ after drifting apart, Nata’s friends consider her single – after all, she hasn’t heard from her Alberto in months, and they’re pretty sure ‘on a break’ has become ‘broken up’. So, having exhausted her shoulders to cry on and people to vent to, Nata retreats to her journal and her imagination. Imagining what Alberto might be doing, writing him letters, trying to fall for another man, trying to rejoin the single social life…
Written in a deliciously quirky way, The Imaginary Life felt like an indie movie in words. Nothing is lost in translation for Spanish author Torres – in fact, I think a hint of Spanish flair added to the overall zest of the novel. Perhaps one reason I liked this book so much is because I could so easily put myself in Nata’s shoes… I, too, struggle to let things go, and can hold on to people too long. I know all too well what it’s like to exhaust your list of people that you can talk to about someone, and be left inside your head, imagining what could have been if only this or that had been different.
This book is definitely all about Nata, so if first person, introspective, somewhat self-obsessed books aren’t your thing, then give this one a miss – but for lovers of quirky romance stories, this is definitely worth a read!
Life is Swede
Travel Fiction / Thriller
Regan moves halfway across the world to start a new life with holiday fling Anders, and blogs daily about her ups and downs settling into Stockholm and struggles to connect with Anders' tight knit group of friends.
When one of them is found dead during a weekend away in a remote cabin, the police quickly zero in on Anders as the killer. Regan sets out to clear his name, and details her investigation for her fascinated readers - unaware that the killer is reading her blog, and watching her every move.
I received a copy of Life is Swede by Claire Duffy in exchange for a review, and my honest opinion.
If readers picked this book up without reading the blurb, they could be forgiven for thinking that Life is Swede was expat-fiction. In fact, it isn’t until halfway through the novel that the psychological thriller aspect came into play. However, weirdly, it worked!
Written in blog post form, and in part (the non-murder part!) derived from Duffy’s own experiences as an American expat living in Sweden, the reader gets an immediate insight into Regan’s thoughts. Her blog also evolves with her as the story progresses; gradually the anonymity she initially tried for falls away and nicknames give way to real ones. I found Regan’s introspection very interesting; she often looks back over what she has blogged, and considers how her view of a situation at the time influenced her perceptions of people she met.
Having experienced Sweden myself, I found myself smiling as I recognised the thought that the Swedish people are insanely beautiful – there really are a huge number of tall, blue-eyed, blonde people.
Just as Regan begins to settle into Swedish life, people start dying, and her boyfriend is arrested. Suddenly everyone is under suspicion.
Duffy kept me guessing until the very end; I wasn’t sure who the bad guy was (although I had my suspicions), and I definitely didn’t expect the twist that she threw in at the very end – Duffy kept it fresh!
This was a great first novel. I’m excited to see what Duffy comes up with next (she’s currently releasing another psychological thriller in parts, called Identity). In the meantime, she can be found blogging over at The Grass is Dancing!
Weekly Wishes is a link-up run by Melyssa from the Nectar Collective (one of my blogging idols, FYI). We bloggers have lots of ideas and usually about a dozen balls in the air at any one time. Sometimes, we need to set out our goals in writing – and it never hurts to have some fellow bloggers to watch your back and keep you motivated! That’s what the Weekly Wishes link-up is all about!
August was a pretty hectic month for me, and the blog had to go on the back burner – but hopefully September is a fresh start!
I’m all moved in to my new house, and I’ve more or less unpacked. Tomorrow I’ve got my first day as assistant manager at the cafe I work at (a reluctant promotion, as the manager has gone away for a few months), which means 5am starts and grumpy help, as we’ll be a man down in an already busy cafe! Plus, I’ve got a few million jobs to do around the new place, like fixing the hot water so that I can actually wash my hair before it runs out!
That said, after a month of balancing work, bills, tradies, and a pinched nerve in my neck that means I can’t turn my head to the left (incredibly painful, but somewhat hilarious, as I have to turn in a full circle to the right to see things behind me on the left…), I’m slowly getting a handle on things, and can hopefully return to more regularly scheduled programming – or blogging, as the case may be.
My goals for September aren’t too lofty;
1. Set up my September editorial calendar and STICK to it!
While working out my new finances, working long hours at work, keeping on top of my book reviews and trying to see my partner at least occasionally… well, sticking to an editorial calendar is going to be challenge enough!
I hope you’re all enjoying the first day of spring! I’m off to go to bed, before my 5am wake up!
When Girlfriends Let Go
A novel about love, self-discovery, and realizing sometimes you have to let go.
Jackie Kittredge is the consummate drama queen living the charmed life. She’s enthusiastic, outspoken, and is always looking for a good time. At twenty-seven she’s got a swanky Seattle townhouse, a wealthy husband, a designer wardrobe, the best of girlfriends, and a calendar filled not with meetings and deadlines, but spa appointments and happy hour reminders. On the outside, she’s got it all.
On the inside, though, Jackie’s charmed life isn’t as it seems. She’s seeing a therapist, battling the demons of coming from a broken home and a past of promiscuity and heavy drinking. She can be selfish and demanding, sometimes even wearing her best friends thin. And now her marriage—what she thought could be her solid foundation—is on the rocks. Her husband Andrew spends nearly all his time at the office (and possibly with his secretary), and apologizes for his absence with lavish gifts and empty promises.
Miserable and desperate, Jackie questions if her marriage is worth fighting for. Then a string of events begins to put things into perspective…into a perspective she didn’t quite anticipate. With her best friends by her side and some tough love, Jackie finds herself not only asking if she’s where she belongs, but if she’s who she’s supposed to be.
This is a passionate story about having to answer some of life’s most important and difficult questions. It’s a story about fear, courage, and personal growth. About what happens when girlfriends let go.
I received a copy of When Girlfriends Let Go by Savannah Page in exchange for a review and my honest opinion.
Another instalment in the “When Girlfriends” series, When Girlfriends Let Go follows the first five books that chronicle the lives of six girlfriends in Seattle. All very different, each book focuses on one girl and the dramas she is facing at the time. This book centred around flighty, loyal, self-involved Jackie – and her fear that the only solution to her marriage trouble could be divorce.
Having read and reviewed the fourth book in the series earlier this year, I’m glad that I was already familiar with the characters. Otherwise, the many distinct characters would have been quite confusing. That said, I didn’t really connect with Jackie. Throughout the series, she is described as selfish and spoiled, in part due to her difficult childhood. While I can empathise with her past and how it may affect her personality, I struggled to come to grips with her lack of desire to do anything other than shop and socialise. That frustration overcame my understanding of her desire to fix her marriage. All too often it seemed like she was being childish and creating drama for dramas sake.
My other issue with the book was its length. Page took a long time getting to the crux of the story, and was at times overly descriptive, describing every outfit worn, etc. I think the book could have benefitted from being a little shorter.
On the whole, as a part of a series, this book is a good chick lit read. I’ll be picking up the seventh and final instalment, as I really like some of the other characters and want to find out how the girls are going. But, as a stand-alone novel, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Two women worlds apart ... one secret that changes everything.
Erin and Laura are cousins and best friends who share a love of languages and travel.
Erin, a French teacher in Dublin, reaches crisis point and drops everything to move to Australia. In Sydney, not only does she land the perfect job, but she meets the perfect man. Finally, her life is falling into place. Except Sydney isn't home, and never can be.
Back in Ireland, Laura is struggling. Her husband appears distant, her work life is spinning out of control and her daughter's strange new nanny is undermining her at every turn. She longs to travel in Erin's footsteps, to drop everything and run far away. But these are dangerous thoughts for a mother and wife.
As Erin and Laura desperately try to find their place in the world, a shocking family secret comes to light, and nothing will ever be the same again.
I received a copy of this Worlds Apart by Ber Carroll in exchange for a review and my honest opinion.
Worlds Apart captivated me from the first page. Written from the perspectives of cousins Erin and Laura, the girls are struggling to find their place in life.
When Erin begins to crumble under the pressure of what ‘could have been’. What if her mother and father hadn’t fallen ill, and she hadn’t spent the last decade putting her life on hold? She takes a leap of faith, moving to Australia in the hope of finding where she is supposed to be in life. Laura, who loves her company and her little family, is surprised and ashamed to feel desperate to escape too. Overwhelmed by the hectic demands of busy life, her relationships start to suffer and she struggles to find balance and happiness.
Their stories are told in parallel, Erin in Australia and Laura in Ireland. Both women share a love of languages that influences their actions throughout the book; in many ways, their lives echo that of their mothers, who once escaped Ireland to live in the glamour of Paris, but are now both back in Ireland and have an intense impact on the girls. Herself a transplant from Ireland to Australia, Carroll captures the essence my home perfectly. I love it when Australia makes an appearance in a novel!
Beautifully written, Worlds Apart is a captivating novel; the characters are brought to life and immediately the reader feels a connection with them. As their stories unfold, and more of their past is brought to life, we see the girls make decisions that will shape the rest of their lives – I felt a kinship with both of them, myself being unsure of exactly what it is that I should be doing with my life! It was reassuring to read about these two women, after some heartache, working it out.
I would definitely recommend this book to those looking for a more mature version of chick lit; a bit deeper, a little longer, and a tad more thoughtful.
An Allison Campbell Mystery
An eccentric Italian heiress from the Finger Lakes. An eighteen-year-old pop star from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Allison Campbell's latest clients seem worlds apart in every respect, except one: Both women disappear on the same day. And Allison's colleague Vaughn is the last to have seen each.
Allison's search for a connection uncovers an intricate web of family secrets, corporate transgressions and an age-old rivalry that crosses continents. The closer Allison gets to the truth, the deadlier her quest becomes. All paths lead back to a sinister Finger Lakes estate and the suicide of a woman thirty years earlier. Allison soon realizes the lives of her clients and the safety of those closest to her aren't the only things at stake.
I received a copy of Deadly Assets by Wendy Tyson in exchange for a review and my honest opinion.
From the book summary that I received, I was under the impression that impeccably groomed Allison Campbell was a female detective. In fact, she is an image consultant! I thought that was a pretty interesting job to have, especially when it involves the occasional crime fighting on the side!
I found the mystery that unravelled in Deadly Assets to be fascinating; I was drawn into the complicated webs woven between the characters and didn’t know who the bad guys were and what their motives were until the very end. I consider that the mark of a successful crime novel!
I’ll admit that I didn’t feel a huge connection to the characters; perhaps it was because this was the second book in the series and Tyson didn’t waste words giving much backstory, which meant I may have missed some of the nuances in a few of the relationships. I felt Allison was a bit stiff (and had lots of unexplained headaches), but that could of been a part of her persona as image consultant. Overall, I appreciated the mystery more than the characters themselves.
Earlier this year, I read and reviewed another mystery by Tyson, called The Seduction of Miriam Cross (A Delilah Powers Mystery). The mystery was equally riveting, if not more so, and I found the characters a little more interesting. I think I preferred that book over this one, but would happily pick up the next book in either series! I’d be quite interested to see how Tyson develops her characters in subsequent books.
Thank Goodness it’s Friday! I’m sure you’re all equally glad that the weekend is here, and what better way to celebrate than with free things!
Seeing as the beautiful Meg from River and Roads turned 26 yesterday, she rounded up some blogger buddies to celebrate – because free things!!!
We’re giving away three of Meg’s absolute favourite things to one lucky winner!
1 | A large Vera Bradleyduffel bag. Meg was given this bag for a birthday a few years ago and it has been her go-to getaway bag ever since! It is the perfect bag for a long weekend getaway to the mountains, the beach… It is incredibly spacious and the shoulder straps make it easy to carry. I want one Meg!! Colour of your choice.
2 | A pair of Chacos. Meg is obsessed with Chacos. As an Australian, I have no idea what she’s talking about :p But apparently, they’re super comfy, wear-anywhere shoes that last forever. If you win this competition, I want to know more about your Chacos! *Colour of your choice.
3 | And because all bloggers are obsessed with coffee, we’re throwing in a $15 gift card to Starbucks so you get a big caffeine fix! Maybe take a friend for a fun coffee date! Don’t forget to “Cheers” Meg for her birthday!
HERE’S YOUR CHANCE TO WIN! This giveaway is run via Rafflecopter with several ways to enter! In exactly one week the giveaway will close, one winner will be selected at random and announced! The winner will be contacted by email. All entries will be verified, so please play by the rules!
One man obsessed with power. One woman prepared to sacrifice everything to stop him. One war that changed the world.
"World War Three lasted twelve days. Twelve days was all it took for mankind to devastate the planet and almost eradicate the human race. No victor emerged from the ashes and billions lost their lives. We survivors lived through the bleakest of winters. A primal existence became the new order, and the little that remained of our humanity hung in the balance. Then one man stood up and changed the world.
I believed, as did everyone else, that he was the hero of our time, the man who had saved us from our own demise. His name is Eric Dane and he is the President of the New United States of America. He is also my husband, and my greatest enemy.
I grew up oblivious to the truth, until my father found me when I was nineteen years old. He told me about the many horrifying facts that our new leader kept hidden from us. And he told me that beyond the borders the Resistance grew and fought for freedom from the oppression that Eric Dane had imposed on us. My name is Rebecca Davis. I am twenty-six years old, and in me the Resistance has found the ultimate weapon.
I received a copy of The Legacy by Melissa Delport in exchange for a review and my honest opinion.
Although the book world has been flooded with Dystopian books of late, thanks in part to the overwhelming success of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (and subsequently, Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy), many book lovers are getting a little sick of the genre. However, from the moment I dove into The Legacy, my faith in the genre was restored.
Delport quickly sets the scene; World War 3 saw the United States decimated by nuclear attack. Cleverly, she writes with enough detail to paint a picture that could be hard to imagine – a world power reduced to helplessness overnight. Once the worst of the fallout has passed, humanity begins to rebuild society. However, one man has a vision and a thirst for control. Eric Dane, soon-to-be President of the New United States of America, fences off several prosperous states, and convinces the inhabitants that only deformity and starvation lie outside of the boundary. Longing for stability, nobody questions him. That is, until Rebecca’s father, believed dead for the last twenty years, arrives to tell her the truth.
The story grabbed my attention immediately. Within the first few chapters (granted, I’m feeling particularly emotional today), I was stressed about the rebels getting the upper hand, Rebecca’s cover being blown, and her relationships panning out. Delport did a great job at walking the fine line between using too much description and boring me, and using enough detail to flesh out the characters and setting.
I whipped through the book (I won’t give away any of the plot twists!), and was stoked to find both The Legacy, and the sequel already available on Amazon. After devouring the first, I’m on tenterhooks to find out what happens in the second – I’m just holding my breath for a happy ending, because I can’t stand a love triangle gone wrong!!
I don’t know about you, but often the music that I listen to while reading a gripping series often becomes its soundtrack, and forever reminds me of the story whenever it comes on the radio. It seems like the lovely Melissa Delport knows what I mean, and has been kind enough to send me her Legacy writing playlist to share with you! Here’s what she had to say about the soundtrack to this book.
I am a big lover of music – I always have been, and remember the very first tapes my mom bought me when I turned 11 – The Best of Dolly Parton & Kenny G! Personally, I think she underestimated my desire to own my own music and thought it was simply a childish whim, so she bought music she could listen to when I moved on to my next obsession. That didn’t happen – in fact, in the absence of anything better, I stretched those tapes from playing them so much that they were no use to anyone within a few short months.
Everybody knows that music inspires emotion, and a movie’s soundtrack is almost as important as its casting. I have my own ideas as to what music would go well with certain scenes in The Legacy, but as I do not want to disclose any “spoilers” I will simply list my Movie Soundtrack, in no particular order.
See if you can guess what song matches which scene:
Imagine Dragons Radioactive
Florence & The Machine Never Let Me Go
Depeche Mode Precious
Madonna: Die Another Day
Jason Walker Down
Taylor Swift The Last Time
Linkin Park Burn it Down
Damien Rice 9 Crimes
Creed My Sacrifice
Ben Howard Oats in the Water
Sam Smith Stay With Me
A few of these songs definitely match up with the scenes that were playing out in my head during the book. Are you a reader (or writer!) that always has a soundtrack?
Love Like the Movies
Victoria Van Tiem
In this irresistible romantic romp, movie fanatic Kensington Shaw is thrown into love—Hollywood-style—when her gorgeous ex presents a series of big screen challenges to win back her heart.
What girl wouldn’t want to experience the famous Pretty Woman shopping scene? It’s number two on the list. Or, try the lift from Dirty Dancing? It’s number five. One list, ten romantic movie moments, and a handful of shenanigans later, Kenzi has to wonder…should she marry the man her family loves, or risk everything for a love like the movies?
Victoria Van Tiem sounds like a pretty kick-ass lady (think artist, blackbelt, mum, and pig-owner), and I was super excited to read and review her novel, Love Like the Movies for you today – but, thanks to the snail-like pace of the postal system, my copy hasn’t arrived! So, you can expect a review as soon as it graces my letter box, and until then you’ll just have to wait!
I’ve found myself comparing my love life to those that I see in the movies on more than one occasion, so the premise of this book immediately caught my eye. I think the idea of recreating those famous movie moments would be lots of fun! I’m looking forward to reading about how everything pans out for main character, Kensington.
While you wait – on the edges of your seats, I’m sure -for my review, you can check out my Twitterand enter to win a copy for yourself. Or, you can get a copy via Amazon. If your copy arrives before mine, don’t give anything away!!
There’s a beautiful thing that happens in the blogosphere. Sometimes, almost overnight it seems, a new blogger award will burst onto the scene. These blogger awards may, to some, seem a little meaningless and insignificant. But, to many bloggers, they’re a sign of the connections we make with others in the blogosphere, and a touch of reassurance that the words we’re typing are reaching someone on the end of a computer screen.
Recently, I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger award, by the lovely Emma from It’s Emma Elise (who is also currently taking up residence on my sidebar!). This was an exciting award to be given, as I often agonise over the fact that I haven’t picked a specific blog niche – it’s nice to be rewarded for being versatile!
At the time Emma nominated me, there was some confusion about WHICH award was being given – at first, it was the Inspiring Blogger award! The challenge, for both awards, is to post 7 facts about yourself. Then, to pass the award on to other bloggers who you think are deserving.
Personally, I think that many of the blog-ladies I have met recently are an inspiration – it isn’t always easy running a blog. It’s not as simple as throwing some words onto a page, and calling it a blog post! There’s design, editing, social media, reader interaction and a whole lot more to think about! Not to mention the daunting task of putting your thoughts out there to be dissected by virtual strangers.
So, today, I’ll be sharing some little known facts about myself with you, and then I’m going to nominate a group of amazing women who I think deserve an Inspiring or Versatile blogging award. At the end of the day, the aim of these awards is (as the award itself says) to help make the blogosphere a more beautiful place!
SEVEN LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT ME
* I’ve needed glasses since I was about seven years old. By the time I was 12, I had to wear them constantly, and I started to wear contact lenses – which I pretty much lived in for the next 13 years. Up until last April, when I had Lasik sugery! Now, I have 20/20 vision for the first time I can remember. It’s still bizzare to me, and I forget sometimes that I don’t need to take my contact lenses before bed!
* My family has always had cats, and they’ve always been a little unusual. For example, one of our cats at the moment has decided that if knocking on the front door is the best way for them to get inside, then it’s the best way for him to get inside. So, instead of using the cat door, he hooks his paw into the gap under the door and knocks repeatedly (at all hours of the day and night) until Mum lets him inside.
* I’m a singer. I have been in choirs and had voice lessons all through school, was in various musicals, and am in the band at my church. I LOVE to sing, and have a good voice, but am still fairly self-conscious about singing in front of people. I give pretty awesome performances singing along to the car radio though!
* I am a lover of lists. My ‘to do’ list currently fills three columns on an A4 page. It helps me stay organised, but writing out everything that I need to do also calms me down. It’s good to see it all on paper and cross things off as they get done!
* Today, the contract for the unit that I bought was settled – I am officially a home owner! It’s mildly terrifying, but I’m excited to make the place into my own space, with my own style.
* I have had a serious Wanderlust-ing flare up recently. It’s been two years since my last trip, which is about as long as I can handle before getting really antsy. As soon as I’m settled into my new place, I’ll be saving up for some travel, that’s for sure.
* I get overly emotionally attached to fictional characters in books or on TV, and reality TV contestants. Sudden deaths, unexpected eliminations, sad children… all have the possibility of ending in floods of tears!
Nominations for Inspiring & Versatile Bloggers
Michelle, from Trials & Tribulations, is the definition of an inspiration. She just walked 100km in 30 hours, to raise money for Oxfam. I know I couldn’t do that! You can read about the event on her blog, or you can sponsor her in her amazing campaign here!
Outspoken Talia blogs at Star of Davida, and openly shares her thoughts on many controversial topics. I admire her honesty, and candour – and I agree with her more often than not!
Glennie from Opinyonada is a beautiful 16 year old Filipina girl, who blogs regularly with beauty and life tips. It’s admirable how well and how consistently she blogs!
Not only can Victoria rock coloured jeans, but she also shares some pretty deep thoughts about living your best life over on her blog, Creatively Victoria.
Hannah is a health nut, who blogs at Today Will be Delicious. Her blog is filled with healthy tips and treats (alongside updates about her super cute dog), to inspire us all to eat a little healthier.
Miamian Rebecca blogs about fashion and Miami life at her blog, The City Slicker.
Renee, the Good Hearted Woman, blogs about good food and good times, encouraging all of us to enjoy the same!
Zoe, from La Vie en Zoe, is a girl after my own heart, seeking inspiration from the world around her. She’s about to head of to France for a few months, to explore new surrounds.
Cailin is both a beauty blogger, and brand expert. Her emphasis on positive self-image, at Sassy Dove, helps guide women to being both classy and sassy!
Gorgeous Jessica blogs at Seeking Individuality. She is a girl after my own heart, making her way though life with some trial and error, and looking to incorporate imagination and creativity along the way.
Desiree blogs at Desire Plus an E. She is a girl after my own heart – aspiring blogger, DIY-er and cook.
Brave Alaska (also known as Alyssa), from Sincerely, Alaska, is many wonderful things. She is also one of the many people who suffers from anxiety and depression. What sets her apart from them, is that she has spoken openly about her condition and anyone who does that is a huge inspiration to me.
Carly, from the Puzzled Pallate, is going gluten free with her family, with hopes that it will help her daughter manage her Asperger’s symptoms. Making big changes for the good of your family is definitely an inspiration.
Sometimes, Ali does Silly Things, but who doesn’t?! To me, Ali seems like an admirable young woman who proudly shares her faith with the blogosphere – not an easy thing to do, believe me!
Katherine, from Katherine, Here, is a woman seeking a better world, and trying to play her part in creating it.
It may seem like I'm a strange mix of creative and straight-laced. I'd probably have to agree with you. Not knowing quite who I am, or what I'm doing, makes me feel like I'm stumbling headfirst into the unknown.
It reminds me of a girl named Alice, tripping down the rabbit hole. So, I'm taking inspiration from her: keep moving, keep dreaming, and always take advice from giant caterpillars smoking shisha.