Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Heartbreakingly good!

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Despite the numerous reviews saying that this book is not about cancer or dying, let's be very clear that it is, without any doubt, about cancer and dying. But before you decide that it is not for you, it is definitely a must read. Your life would be the poorer for not having been introduced to Hazel Grace and Augustus, who are two of the most likeable characters I have encountered. This is not a sentimental portrayal of dying teenagers, but rather a very real look at what it means to be a teenager with cancer. Despite the seriousness of the subject, there is still loads of humour in the book, but be warned, it is heart-breaking!

John Green is a talented writer and each sentence is brilliantly constructed. It is impossible to read this book and not feel admiration for his skill.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Romance Novels - Junk Food for the Brain

Whenever I feel like my life is spinning dangerously out of control I find myself reading loads of schmaltzy contemporary romances. In my opinion (and this is my blog so I can voice it!) romance novels are a bit like junk food – completely lacking in substance but almost impossible to avoid completely. Just like their gastronomic counterparts, romance novels can be devoured in a single sitting with very little effort.

The truth is that whilst I wish that all my meals were cooked to perfection by the chefs at my favourite restaurant (Mrs Simpsons in Dullstroom South Africa, for those that are interested), and unhurriedly savoured over several bottles of a good Sauvignon Blanc, there are more opportunities for devouring MacDonalds burgers whilst catapulting through this thing called life.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Beautiful RuinsBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am still reeling from the sheer magnitude of this novel. Beautiful Ruins SHOULD NOT WORK, but it most definitely does! Jess Walter hurtles you through different time periods and storylines whilst introducing you to a multitude of diverse characters. It is a bit like an epileptic fit, which would normally be a recipe for reader confusion, but somehow this gifted author manages to keep it all together in the most remarkable way.

The story starts and ends with two characters, Pasquale Trusi and Dee Moray (aka Debra Moore). Pasquale, the instantly likeable proprietor of “Hotel Adequate View”, is mesmerized by the seemingly fragile Dee Moray, when she arrives at his hotel. She believes that she is suffering from stomach cancer which has forced her to abandon her supporting role in the film Cleopatra. These two characters together form the golden thread which brings together the other plots and characters in the novel. Every character, no matter how brief their appearance in the novel, is either directly or indirectly linked to Pasquale and Dee.

Fifty years after their initial meeting at the “Hotel Adequate View” the story ends with Pasquale and Dee back in Italy, but the journey that Walter takes us on between these two defining scenes can only be described as a rollercoaster ride of immense proportions!

Beautiful Ruins is an intricate weaving of disparate tales into one incredible story about life. The writing is witty and hard hitting, the descriptions are wonderful and the characters are captivating. To put it simply - I loved it!

I listened to the audiobook version of this novel, which was superbly narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. He made the novel come alive and my trips to and from work have been an absolute pleasure for the last couple of weeks. In fact, I feel somewhat bereft that I will not be engaging with the novel’s characters tomorrow morning and welcome any suggestions on what I should be listening to next!

Visit my Blog Another Book Blogger for more of my reviews.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

The Joy of Audio Books

I have, for the past fourteen years, had the wonderful benefit of a chauffeur. Most unfortunately, this is not because I am married to one of the obscenely rich, but frighteningly dysfunctional, heroes typical of the Romance books that I can’t seem to stay away from, but rather because my very functional, and definitely not disgustingly affluent husband, works for the same company as I do. Up until April this year we worked within spitting distance from each other and thus I have been driven to and from work for all these years. No prizes for guessing what I did to fill the 45 minute journey (one way) every day – that’s correct, I read!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Watching Bon Jovi live is just as satisfying as reading a good book!

Last night I had the absolute privilege of going to the Bon Jovi Because We Can Concert at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. Despite the fact that we were in the "cheap" seats and Jon Bon Jovi was approximately the size of my thumbnail from where I was sitting, I was completely mesmerized by his performance, from beginning to end. What an end it was, with Jon Bon Jovi and his band repeatedly succumbing to the crowd's loud screams for MORE! I genuinely felt that Jon Bon Jovi wanted to continue entertaining us as much as we wanted him to stay on stage. The result - a three hour concert from an exceptional performer! Johannesburg was  treated to an amazing night of Rock and Roll in true Bon Jovi style.

Review Johnny Be Good Paige Toon
Revew Baby Be Mine Paige GoonAs a voracious reader, it is almost impossible for me to have a life experience that doesn't remind me of a book. Last night, the books that came to mind are part of a 2 book series written by Paige Toon, Johnny Be Good and Baby Be Mine. This series explores the overwhelming highs and lows of a celebrity singer and in true Chic Lit fashion, the one romance that survives it all. I have reviewed these books in the past, so feel free to click on the book titles or images to read my reviews of these great books.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The only disappointment in an otherwise successful week!

I have been away from home on a business trip for the past few days, launching a new project for my company. Despite the long hours and the stress of managing a project that DARE NOT FAIL, the trip was an absolute delight, thanks to my amazing travelling companions. We worked hard and played just as hard. Most importantly we laughed and laughed and laughed!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What can I say that hasn't been said before?

There is so much that has been written about this book, that it almost seems futile to add my opinion to the overwhelming discussions that have been prompted by this truly astounding book. However, as promised, I am reviewing all books that I have given a 5-star rating to and, since this book is so memorable, I thought it would be a good place to start.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me begin by saying that I started and abandoned this book 3 times before I managed to muster sufficient courage to get past the opening chapters where the shocking details of the Hunger Games were described. The concept is beyond harrowing and, as a mother, I found it almost impossible to continue.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

5-Star Ratings

I have decided that if a book is worthy of a 5-star rating, then it is worthy of a review. So, I am going to go to all my 5-star ratings at Amazon and Goodreads and systematically write reviews for them. If I cannot remember the books, I will re-read them and if necessary re-rate them.

This decision was sparked by my recent re-read of, an all time favourite, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, which I rather nervously reviewed below:

Pride and PrejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I admit it! I am smitten by Darcy and have been since I was 13 years old. I return to him and Lizzy at least once a year, usually at a low point in my life when I am in dire need of simple pleasures. A re-read of Pride and Prejudice is guaranteed to revive my spirits and firmly knock me out of any thoughts of wallowing in self-pity or doom and gloom.

Everybody needs a Silver Lining

The Silver Linings PlaybookThe Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read many, many, many books. I am happy to read anything from classic fiction to pure escapist chic lit. I don't mind mediocre writing, gratuitous sex scenes or week predictable plots since the authors allow me to enter another world for a one or two hours every day, and for that I am grateful.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Opal (Lux, #3)Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I am so tired of cliffhangers. There are more and more authors who seem to be more concerned about the sale of the next book in the series than about the quality of their writing. It feels like manipulation and annoys me immensely! Don't read it, it will just frustrate you.


Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2)Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Walking Disaster is a thoroughly confusing rewrite of Beautiful Disaster from Travis's perspective. I really enjoyed the first book, but this was terrible.


Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really expected to enjoy this book, as I loved Graceling and Fire. However, Bitterblue was disappointing. The story didn't seem to go anywhere, there were too many characters for any to be properly developed, and the harrowing details of Leck's reign left me feeling sick, without any satisfaction of justice being served or believable healing.


Seduction and Snacks (Chocolate Lovers, #1)Seduction and Snacks by Tara Sivec
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A story line with potential and some really funny moments. However, in the end the characters are crude and vulgar and have very few redeeming qualities. The interactions are so tasteless that they start to lose the intended comic effect and just become trashy!

Definitely in my Top 10

Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is firmly positioned in my top 10 best reads ever. A riveting plot with full, rich characters (including the animals), written in simple yet powerful prose. The way in which the two storylines (old Jacob and young Jacob) are intertwined is masterful, and the conclusion of each, equally satisfying. A truly wonderful book.

Better than most in this genre

If You Stay (Beautifully Broken, #1)If You Stay by Courtney Cole
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another dysfunctional hero is saved by a heroine who embodies all that is good.

Despite having read a lot of books with this theme, I enjoyed this one more than most. Pax is not the usual "dark and brooding" hero, and has to work hard to overcome a shocking and very disturbing childhood experience.

Just couldn't relate

Lover At Last (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #11)Lover At Last by J.R. Ward
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Reading J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood books is pure escapism to a world you know intellectually cannot possibly exist, but almost wish it could. The relationship between the brothers and their single-minded devotion to their "mates" is what keeps me going back for more.

Another Dysfunctional Hero

Wait for You (Wait for You, #1)Wait for You by J. Lynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A common theme in the Young Adult or New Adult Genre, where one disturbed character having experienced a life-changing and appalling event, is rescued by another strong character with the obligatory family support system.

An unexpected delight

Johnny Be Good (Johnny Be Good, #1)Johnny Be Good by Paige Toon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have recently started browsing reviews of my fellow-readers, whose opinions of books are similar to mine. This is how I found this book and I am really pleased that I did.

A most satisfying ending!

Baby Be Mine (Johnny Be Good, #2)Baby Be Mine by Paige Toon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Johnny Be Good was an unexpected delight and I eagerly started reading the sequel Baby Be Mine moments after completing the first part of Johnny and Meg's journey. When I started reading these books I expected light, fun reading, typical of the Chic Lit genre.

What a great read

Poughkeepsie (Poughkeepsie, #1)Poughkeepsie by Debra Anastasia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a great book! Poughkeepsie has a bit of everything - romance, drama, suspense, comedy and so much more. You will experience every single emotion and will definitely fall in love with the diverse group of characters as you read this book.