27 September 2013

Review: Dark Horse by Honey Brown

Dark Horse by Honey Brown book cover
Long term followers of my book blog will remember me raving about Red Queen by H.M. Brown in November 2010. 

Well, since then, Honey Brown has gone on to publish a number of bestselling novels - including The Good Daughter and After The Darkness - and is now one of Australia's prominent and successful authors.

I also had the privilege of participating in a Google Hangout with Honey Brown in June this year and just couldn't wait to read her latest novel Dark Horse.

Set in the Australian bush, this is the story of Sarah, a divorcee who appears to set out on horseback for some 'alone time' in the Mortimer Ranges on Christmas morning.

Bad weather soon springs up and flash flooding takes out the bridge and most of the riding tracks.  Sarah takes her horse to high ground, setting up camp at Hangman's Hut.  All is relatively calm until a handsome and well-built man walks out of the bush and turns the story on it's head.

Where did he come from?  Why doesn't he have any supplies and why is he behaving strangely?  All these questions will be answered, but not in the way you expect.  Dark Horse is a thriller of the highest order, and the twist totally blew my head off! I definitely did not see it coming.  

Author Honey Brown is able to create a realistic scenario where two characters are essentially trapped in the Australian bush while her descriptions of the bush are both eerie and impressive at the same time.  

Readers who love horses will enjoy the role Sarah's horse Tansy plays, although by the end of the novel I must admit I was a little tired of the horse and the name Tansy.  That's my only complaint though, and thoroughly recommend Dark Horse to readers who enjoy a good thriller, a twist they don't see coming and of course novels by Aussie authors!

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
23 September 2013

Review: Sweet Damage by Rebecca James

Sweet Damage by Rebecca James book cover
After devouring the debut novel Beautiful Malice from Australian author Rebecca James a few years ago (and giving it 4 stars), I was very excited to read her latest novel, Sweet Damage published early this year.

Set in Syndey, Australia, the novel opens with Tim living with his ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend. In an effort to improve his living situation he replies to an ad for a cheap room in a huge house in an expensive part of town.

Anna is the owner of the house and appears to have no social skills, however, the fact that she is a little 'weird' seems to be the only catch. As Tim slowly gets to know her though, strange things begin to happen in the house.

Sweet Damage is an entertaining read, and once again is great for YA readers. There's a real sense of Sydney on the page, my favourite quote being: 
"...the water [was] tinted an unbelievable shade of Brett Whiteley blue..." Page 111.
I can easily imagine Sweet Damage being made into an Australian thriller movie, although I'd have to look away from the spider scene.

You can read the first 14 pages of Sweet Damage for free, by clicking here.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
21 September 2013

Review: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert book cover
* Provided by The Reading Room for review *

Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of the No. 1 bestseller Eat, Pray Love, and her newest book The Signature Of All Things is being released next month, in October 2013.

I was lucky enough to receive an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) from The Reading Room along with a lovely letter from the author.

The Signature Of All Things is a big novel and tackles many themes and ideas, contains complex and likeable characters and the covers the progression of botany and science in the time of Charles Darwin. I don't really know that much about botany, and couldn't say I was ever excited by the topic, but when seen through the eyes of Alma Whittaker - the genius main character of the novel - I was enthralled.

Alma is born in 1800, and we learn about her Father's rise to success before learning more about the real star of the novel, his daughter Alma. She is a born genius and with encouragement from her parents chooses a life of science; very rare for a woman in this period.

Much of the novel is spent in America, however the author also takes us to Tahiti and Amsterdam in addition to other locations in this worldly novel. The pursuit of knowledge is a common theme in this fictional novel and the library at the family mansion sounds magical. The reader is also privy to Alma's sexual desires and love life which was fascinating; some of the scenes were surprisingly racy despite the lack of regular sex in her life.

I looked forward to reading The Signature Of All Things every night, and was surprised by the twists, turns and revelations along the way. I would thoroughly recommended this historical fiction novel for the 'thinking' reader and those who enjoy a sweeping adventure story with many life themes along the way.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
04 September 2013

Tracey from Carpe Librum blog is interviewed by Pages Abound

Today I'm very excited to see my interview with Briana from Pages Abound published online.

It was fun being the one interviewed for a change, and Briana asked some fabulous questions:

Q. What fictional character would you most like as a sibling?

Q. What book’s movie would you most like a role in? 

If you'd like to read my answers, you can check out the interview in full, by clicking here.

Carpe Librum!

01 September 2013

Review: O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell book cover
I've been a fan of Robin Maxwell's writing for some time now; having read the following novels already:
  • Virgin - Prelude to the Throne
  • The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn
  • The Queen's Bastard: A Novel
  • The Wild Irish
  • To the Tower Born
As the title suggests, O, Juliet is the re-telling of the famous tale of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in a novel format with some small changes to the original plot.

Juliet and Romeo both adore the work of Dante, and this forms a great part of their falling in love. They enjoy quoting poems to each other and they clearly share an adoration of the written word.  In fact, Juliet is represented as quite the poetess; a quality Romeo admires.

The famous feud between the two families was expertly told and unfolded in a logical and relatable way, although different to the original.

O, Juliet is heavy on the romance and the character's longing for each other - which isn't usually my thing - but is generally what you expect from such a classic tale. This is the only reason I didn't enjoy O, Juliet as much as her other novels, and is the problem of the reader, not the author.

I definitely recommend O, Juliet for fans of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, or those who would like to get to know the family members surrounding the famous couple in a more intimate manner.

My rating = ***