14 October 2015

Review: Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle

Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle is a collection that includes personal and private letters from some great names in history and literature, including: 

- King Henry VIII (writing to Anne Boleyn)
- Mozart (writing to his wife)
- Napoleon writing to his wife Josephine
- Beethoven (writing to his Immortal Beloved)
- Mark Twain (writing to Olivia Langdon)
- Oscar Wilde (writing to Lord Alfred Douglas)
and more!

A short introduction is given to each letter which was concise and welcome background setting the scene.

Some of the letters were beautifully written, some poorly written (but all reproduced in type font, so don't worry, you don't have to read their handwriting) and some just down right possessive. I'm talking about you Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Page 37):
But I should not like you to take long walks without me. I entreat you to follow my advice exactly, for it comes from my heart.

So, it turns out Mozart was possessive, jealous and just a tad bossy. Who knew?

For more insights into the love lives of 41 men from history, check out Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

13 October 2015

Review & Blog Tour for The Patterson Girls by Rachael Johns

* Copy courtesy of JAM PR *

Popular Australian author Rachael Johns is best known for her rural romance and farm-lit novels, however The Patterson Girls is her first foray into a genre she herself calls 'contemporary life lit'.

Basically it's a story about four sisters, who grew up in a motel run by the family in a small town 3.5 hours from Adelaide, near Port Augusta.

Grieving the loss of their mother six months earlier, each sister has their own unique personality, one living in London, one in USA, one in Melbourne and the other in Perth. 

I think my favourite part of The Patterson Girls was the fact they all grew up in a motel. I grew up in a small town general store and could definitely relate to their upbringing. The motel in the novel has seen better times, and I was really hoping for a 'makeover.' This is one of my favourite sub-plots in a book, where a run down building is cleaned up and renovated. I won't spoil the story, but my needs were satisfied here as well.

The sisters aren't a cohesive and trusting unit in the beginning and their dynamics and personal troubles were interesting to discover. In fact, I found myself enjoying The Patterson Girls much more than I'd expected, having been initially concerned there might be too much romance. The ending was also satisfying and who doesn't love a family secret or a family curse?

My only reservations were that the sisters drank too much wine (oh well, no harm there right?) and I think the title should have been Patterson's Curse instead of The Patterson Girls.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

If you want to find out which of the four Patterson sisters you are most like, take the quiz here. (I just took it and I'm Madeleine, the oldest of the four, driven and very intelligent. Sounds about right doesn't it? lol)

Feel free to visit Rachael’s website, follow her on Twitter or like her Facebook page.

11 October 2015

Review: Frankenstein - Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz

If you've been following my reviews here for a while, you'll know I'm a big fan of Dean Koontz. I've read 27 books by Koontz, reviewed 18 of them and Frankenstein - Prodigal Son is the 28th.

The first in a series, Frankenstein is a mash-up of genres, including crime, science fiction and supernatural elements and while the character of Deucalion intrigued me, the story fell kind of flat.

Having said that, here's a great quote from page 41:
"Anger, like a long-repressed hunger, rose in Deucalion. Once anger had been his meat, and feasting on it, he had starved."
Prodigal Son is the first in the Frankenstein series, which contained five books at last count, but unfortunately I don't think I'll be reading any further.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

09 October 2015

Friday Freebie: WIN a copy of illustrated children's picture book Wow! The Wonders of Our World

*Copy courtesy of Quikmark Media * 

You asked for it, and so I bring you a children's book giveaway. Enter below to get your hands on a copy of Wow! The Wonders of Our World (valued at $19.95) before it's published.

Blurb for Wow! The Wonders of Our World
In an era with rapidly changing technology, it’s important to remind children of just how far we have come. To develop a thirst for knowledge. To learn more about our planet and the amazing things it offers, and never take it for granted.

In the upcoming illustrated children’s picture book, Wow! The Wonders of Our World, authors Joy Noble and Fiona Johnston have written an engaging book that aims to help children discover more about the world around them, and develop a sense of curiosity.
Published 15 November 2015
RRP $19.95

Through the pages younger readers will learn about things such as:
  • How technology has changed the world (& how it was before)
  • How our awesome bodies work
  • The world of sport and why we need it
  • The power of music and its impact on the world
  • Different animals and their roles
  • An introduction into Multiculturalism
Educational and fun with lots of great illustrations, Wow! The Wonders of Our World is an engaging read for parents and caregivers looking to show kids just how amazing the world really is.

About the Authors
After working as a social worker and administrator in South Australia and New Guinea, Joy Noble has had many books published. She was awarded an AM for the development of the principles and practice of volunteering. Until her recent retirement Fiona Johnston was a freelance editor and writer.

Lucy Buxton is a children's book illustrator based in Melbourne. She has studied Visual Arts, where she majored in Printmaking, and post graduate studies in Arts and Community Engagement. Wow! The Wonders of our World is her first book.


08 October 2015

Review: Swimming To The Moon by Robert Drewe

Swimming to the Moon by Robert Drewe is a collection of articles published in his column in a WA newspaper. They contain observations on life in WA and Australia and what it's like to grow up on the coast.

Most of the pieces (all of which can be read as a stand-alone or in any order) have a sense of nostalgia about them, however reading the columns back to back, I was aware of a little repetition that original readers may not have noticed.

Drewe's writing is biographical and sentimental with a touch of humour; but certainly not the 'hilarious snapshots' that were promised in the blurb.

All in all, I'd probably have enjoyed his newspaper column at the time of publication, however reading them back to back in this collection just didn't do that much for me.

In fact, the best part about reading Swimming to the Moon was that it qualified in two reading challenges: the Aussie Author Challenge 2015 and the 2015 Nonfiction Reading Challenge.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!

06 October 2015

HFVBT Spotlight of Steering to Freedom by Patrick Gabridge

Published by Penmore Press,May 2015
In this spotlight, brought to you by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (HFVBT), we take a look at a historical novel based on a true story: Steering to Freedom by Patrick Gabridge.

Blurb for Steering to Freedom by Patrick Gabridge

A troubled country, a courageous heart, and the struggle for freedom. In May 1862, Robert Smalls, a slave and ship's pilot in Charleston, South Carolina, crafts a daring plan to steal the steamship Planter and deliver it, along with, the crew and their families to the Union blockade. After risking his life to escape slavery, Robert faces an even more difficult challenge: convincing Abraham Lincoln to enlist black troops. 

Based on a true story,
Steering to Freedom tells the powerful and inspirational story of a young man who becomes the first black captain of a US military ship, while struggling to navigate a path to freedom for himself, his family, and his people.

About the Author

Patrick Gabridge is an award-winning playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. His passion for history extends to the stage, and his historical plays include work about the creation of the English Bible (Fire on Earth), the astronomers Kepler and Tycho (Reading the Mind of God), a volcanic eruption on Martinique (The Prisoner of St. Pierre), 19th century Boston publisher Daniel Sharp Ford (None But the Best), and the 1770 Boston Massacre (Blood on the Snow).
Patrick has a habit of starting things and has received numerous awards for his work, including fellowships from the Colorado Council on the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Commission. 

His other novels include Tornado Siren and Moving [a life in boxes]. For more information visit Patrick Gabridge's website or his blog The Writing Life x3. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
Author Patrick Gabridge

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 5 
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection 

Tuesday, October 6 
Spotlight at Carpe Librum 
Spotlight & Excerpt at The Never-Ending Book 

Wednesday, October 7 
Review at Book Nerd 
Spotlight at Broken Teepee 

Thursday, October 8 
Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews 

Friday, October 9 
Spotlight & Excerpt at What Is That Book About 

Saturday, October 10 
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More 

Tuesday, October 13
Excerpt & Giveaway at Unshelfish 

Thursday, October 15 
Spotlight at Genre Queen 

Friday, October 16 
Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog 

Wednesday, October 21 
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation 

Thursday, October 22 
Excerpt & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books 

Sunday, October 25 
Review at Carole's Ramblings 

Monday, October 26 
Review at Worth Getting in Bed For 

Tuesday, October 27 
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews 

Friday, October 30 
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

04_Steering to Freedom_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

05 October 2015

Winner of the Good Money giveaway announced

Thanks to everyone who entered last week's Friday Freebie to win a copy of Good Money by J.M. Green thanks to Scribe Publications.

This Australian crime fiction giveaway was popular with a total of 53 entries. The giveaway closed at midnight on Friday 2nd October, and the winner was drawn today:

Congratulations Joe S.!!

Congratulations Joe, please email me with your postal address, and your book will be sent to you directly from the publisher. (Please note you have 5 days to provide a valid postal address before your prize is forfeited).

I'd like to thank Scribe Publications for providing the giveaway, and all of you who entered, shared and tweeted. If you missed out, I'll be giving away a children's book this Friday, so feel free to enter and good luck!