Book Review; The new romantic comedy

I must admit I have actually enjoyed the recent miserable weather we have experienced over the last couple of days. It has given me an excuse to stay indoors and catch up on some reading. As an avid reader, I find that people love to recommend me books on every genre and quality, so I constantly feel as though need to ‘catch up’ on my reading. Even though realistically I don’t think that is possible, because each day and week I discover a new book that I must read. I am just a person with a big pile of books on her bed side table.

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So, I was ill prepared for the book at the top of that pile, an unconventional romantic comedy, Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project was a novel I could not put down. Rarely do I find male protagonist like Don Tillman, uncomfortable and heartwarmingly cringeworthy. He reminded me of Sheldon from TV show The Big Bang Theory, as he applies his analytical thinking and research background in genetics to find a wife, resulting in the most comical approach.

Love according to Sheldon Cooper

Enter Rosie, the polar opposite of Don encapsulating everything that he deems to be an undesirable characteristic of the future Mrs Tillman; smoker, vegetarian (excluding sustainable seafood) and not at all athletic. Meanwhile, Rosie is on a project of her own, to find her biological father, through a relationship of coincidences Don is able to bend his ethics, against his better judgement and for reasons unknown to him to assist Rosie on her quest.

With no understanding of social cues and an inability to decipher basic female seduction techniques, (note to any gentlemen readers – a girl asks if you think she is sexy, and you think she is, say yes) he begins to realise love has no method or reason.

A must read for summer, light and fun to throw in your beach bag and read on the sand, the perfect holiday novel or simply for a rainy day. So put it on your book list and you won’t be disappointed with this delightful read inspiring the inner romantic inside all of us.

SS x

Sunday & Monday Reading Session; Sister and Tampa

A lazy day and some miserable Sydney weather, has lead me to enjoy some quality time by myself with a couple of good books. After an early run and a stroll up the street to collect my coffee on Sunday morning, I found my comfy spot on the couch and didn’t plan on leaving for the rest of the day. Finishing two books over two days, for me is quite an achievement, as I usually tend to always be out during the day and come home to zone out/fall asleep in front of the TV of a night time.

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Me, my couch and some good books

My first novel was Sister by Rosamund Lupton, which can only be described as when crime meets literature. The blurb on the back of my book threw me a little, but post reading and after further investigation I found that the blurb was changed to one that more accurately represents the plot. Beatrice returns home to London, after a call from her mother to tell her that her carefree sister, Tess is missing. But when Tess is found dead Bee is convinced she was murdered, despite the surrounding circumstances that lead the police and family to believe Tess committed suicide. Bee moves into Tess’ apartment to go in search of the killer that took her sister from her.

Sunday Reading - Book 1. Photo via

Sunday Reading – Book 1. Photo via Hachette Australia

For me this was a slow starter, having picked this novel up over two weeks ago I was reading at a snail’s pace. Usually the psychological thriller is right up my alley, being my guilty pleasure novel of choice, but if you can hold on until you are five or six chapters in, the intrigue will make you want to finish. I was only a third of the way through when I re-started on Sunday and I think that forcing myself to sit down with no surrounding distractions made me give Sister the attention it deserved.

My second novel, was Tampa by Alissa Nutting. You may remember me talking about this novel, a couple of months previously I was caught up in the excessive media hype that Nutting had received and was unsure as to whether or not I would read it. The novel had been described in the media as controversial and explicit, being banned from several bookstores across Australia.

This weekend I decided to give it a try, thinking that if I walked away from this novel now I would never pick it up. But truthfully from the first page I was hooked. Although its subject is taboo and disturbing, it is so well written Nutting hooks you in from the very first page.

Contorversial Book Cover - Tampa By Alissa Nutting

Controversial Book Cover – Tampa By Alissa Nutting

Celeste, although a clear sociopath, is an incredibly well developed character. The way that Nutting describes her and her every action is well thought out and planned that it sometimes makes it hard to believe this is a work of fiction. Nutting offers an exploration into the psyche of a female predator, as we see Celeste manipulate those around her and prey on the innocence of young Jack. The ability to portray the mindset of Celeste as a remorseless sexual predator is quite astonishing. We, as the reader, get to observe the inner thoughts of Celeste, as her every outward expression is meticulously planned to help her achieve her ultimate desire (a fourteen year old boy); from the husband who veils her true self to her career as a teacher that provides her with unlimited access.

I finally finished Tampa on Monday night in bed as the rain pounded down outside, the perfect night in to read. Not really having a suitable cover for the daily commute, I was busting all day to go home and continue reading and with only 70 pages to go I knew I would be finishing it tonight. I am quite embarrassed so say, but I loved this book, I am not sure if it because it delves into a topic that is not openly discussed or written about, or because the characters, Celeste in particular, are so well developed that I found it quite hard to put down.

I understand that Tampa is definitely not for everyone, I would never recommend to my grandmother or mother despite both of them being quite open-minded, as it is extremely confronting but I would recommend it for those of you are looking for a challenge and something very different.

I would love to hear any book recommendations, as I am always on the hunt for something new.

SS x

Book Review: The Light Between Oceans

As a daily commuter, I notice the majority of my fellow travelers are plugged in to the latest device, I use this time to read. Although I may recommend reading, The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman, in a less public a place as it brought tears to my eyes. For me there is something magical about reading an authors first novel, as it feels as though it is the story they have always wanted to tell and I hope it is the first of many for Stedman whose literary tone has me captivated from the first page.

The Light Between Oceans Photo Via: Harper Collins Books

Must Read: The Light Between Oceans Photo Via: Harper Collins Books

The Light Between Oceans, is a thought-provoking Australian story of love, loss and the heartbreaking consequences that follow a single moment. Set in Western Australia where Stedman was born and raised, the story of Tom Sherbourne unfolds, who returns from WWI a shattered man believing he should not of survived when so many good men never returned home. Tom, haunted by his past, adopts the solitary life of a Lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the coast of Western Australia, called Janus Rock. Before leaving the small town of Partageuse for Janus Rock, Tom meets an adventurous and free-spirited, Isabel, whose long-distance courtship blossoms to love.

Tom and Isabel live a quiet life separated from the rest of the world on Janus but their happiness is not complete, struggling with the loss of three unborn babes. Until the cries of an infant child on the wind lead Isabel to discover a small boat washed ashore, carrying a dead man and crying infant. Convinced that the child was sent to the couple as a ‘gift from God’ Isabel persuades Tom to make a choice, that years later, as the baby’s real story unfold,s leads the couple to wrestle with morality, heartbreak and a parents unwavering love.

As a person without children, Stedman makes the reader experience the unrequited love of a parent for their child and their longing to protect them no matter the consequences. Capturing the raw emotions of each character so well that and your heartbreaks for each of them and the pain you feel could be your own. Stedman portrays what I believe to be a true representation of what each individual would each in these circumstances, as a mother, father, grandmother or friend.

As the winner of three prestigious ABIA awards including ‘Book of the Year’ and also, the Indie Awards ‘Book of the Year’, The Light Between Oceans is a must read for any book lover, an absolutely outstanding debut novel. This story will call to question what is right and wrong, and challenge your own moral compass. I am making a big call but if you read one book this year, Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans should be it!

SS x

For the love of books – Part 2 – Book Lover’s Day

With the increased adoption of technology and the latest ‘must-have’ gadgets; you are bombarded with information and updates where ever you look. Everyone seems to always be checking in and no one is checking out for that me time to relax and reset. So if you are going to ever take a day to yourself and head out to a peaceful spot with a good book, today is that day. August 9th is International Book Lover’s Day celebrating the shared love of literature. Encouraging readers of all ages to grab a book, find a secluded spot and let your imagination take you on a journey.

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Happy Book Lovers Day

Reading for pleasure is one of the world’s most recognised pastimes; offering benefits including expanding your imagination, increased memory and analytical thinking, stress reduction, and improved vocabulary. Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, crime or romance, hard backs, paper backs or e-book, today is the day to fuel that passion for books.

So I thought I would use this opportunity to share part 2 of my ultimate book list for all my fellow book worms:

1. Temple – Matthew Reilly. Action packed from the first page with a fast paced plot and twists upon twists.

2. The Happiest Refugee – Anh Do. Funny and inspiring, Anh Do, is charismatic and charming you can’t help but love him. There is a definite reason why this book is still appearing in the best seller list.

3. The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe – C. S Lewis. A children’s classic, Narnia is enchanting making every child wish their wardrobe was a door to another world.

4. 11.22.63 – Stephen King. Not you typical King novel. What would you do if you could prevent the assassination of J.F.K and change history.

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For the Love of Books – Part 2

5. The Light Between Oceans – M. L Stedman. A incredible story of right and wrong, and how sometimes they look the same.

6. The Sandalwood Tree – Elle Newmark. Adapting to a new life in India, 1947 and the discovery of hidden love letters that threaten to consume Evie’s already fragile existence. Two amazing stories from a hundred years apart that become woven together.

7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larson. Never judge a book by its movie!!!

8. Dracula – Bram Stoker. Before vampires sparkled in the sunlight they were bad-ass!

9. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society – Mary Ann Shaffer. A charming novel written exclusively as series of letter correspondences to the people of the small island of Guernsey post WWII.

10. The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom. When Eddie awakes in the afterlife, five people set to explain his life and reveal the answer to the eternal question: “why was I here?”

So please do not disturb me today, and if you must you may find me here…

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My Not-So-Secret Spot

SS x

Read Part 1 of For the Love of Books for more of Must Read Books.

Tampa: To Read or Not to Read – That is the Question!

When you position something as controversial in any media space the appeal spirals to dizzying heights… and literature is no exception. I remember as recent as a couple of years ago going through my old books and deciding to donate a series of old Babysitters Club novels to my local second hand book store. Only to be knocked back by the lady behind the counter who stated they didn’t support that kind of literature. I was quite taken a back that this mid-80s book series Babysitters Club was considered risqué.

Upon retelling this story to my book buddy recently, our conversation turned to scandalous books and the new novel, Tampa by Alissa Nutting, and it’s recent ban from several Australian bookstores was the topic of conversation.

Contorversial Book Cover - Tampa By Alissa Nutting

Controversial Book Cover – Tampa By Alissa Nutting  Photo Via: Faber

People are definitely judging this book by its cover, which suggestively alludes to what is to follow inside. The novel follows Celeste Price a 26 year old high school teacher and sexual predator who is obsessed with 14 year old boys. The school yard provides unlimited access to her sexual obsession and is Celeste’s sole reason for becoming a teacher. Tampa has created a lot of buzz within the Australian book industry with its confronting positioning of females sexual predators, making it easy to hate and having been publicised as one of the most controversial books of the year.

The truth is controversy sells… and 50 Shades of Grey is the proof. Despite criticisms due to the detailed sexually erotic exploits of Christian Grey and many reviews stating it being poorly written, 50 Shades of Grey has topped best-seller lists the world over with the series selling over 70 million copies worldwide and a film in the pipeline for 2014.

Which puts me in a bit of a predicament. I am currently undecided as to whether or not to read this novel, this won’t be a book for everyone but can I challenge myself into reading this. I am intrigued… for me it’s the controversial nature of the topic of female sexual predators being something that isn’t really written about, combined with the power of the media and the sheer volume of attention this book has received, makes me question… To read or not to read?

Watch this space…

SS x

Book Review: The J.M Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society

Barbara J. Zitwer’s, first novel, The J.M Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society was a book that came across my desk by chance. With the majority of my girl friends working in the media industry, having products and books sent to you is one of the perks of the job.  As a lover of the magical place Neverland this book was meant for me, from cover to cover it was an unexpected delight. The classic tale of Peter Pan has been read to children years over and has been recreated in many forms, multiple plays and movies…even a ride. Zitwer’s novel offers a glimpse into the historic location where it all began and the lives that the story has influenced.

Dive right in!

Dive right in!

For a small group of women in Cotsworth, England, the author of the classic tale of the boy who never grew up, J.M Barrie, has inspired a gathering of lifelong friends to hold onto their youth by taking a daily dip in their own private Neverland (no matter the temperature). Joey Rubin, is an overworked woman in a male dominated architectural firm in New York, whose whimsical presentation and passion leads her to travel to England to oversee the restoration of Stanway House, the location that inspired J.M Barrie to write the literary classic. Challenged by the people of Cotsworth and the disgruntle caretaker of Stanway House, Joey discovers that the women of the J.M Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society may be onto something wonderful.

I adored, Aggie, reminding me of my own grandmother, whose sharp-witted manner and heartfelt spirit makes you want Aggie as a life long friend. And the women of The Ladies Swimming Society share a Peter Pan like spirit, I definitely cannot imagine myself diving into an icy lake in the middle of an English winter, these women prove that you are never too old to live the life you desire. The cast in this novel will surprise and delight all readers, a story of honest friendship, love and self discovery.

This novel captures one of my favourite quotes from Peter Pan, ‘The world is made of faith, trust and pixie dust.’ A warm and easy read that I couldn’t put down.

Enjoy.

SS x

For the love of books

Both of my grandmothers and mother have ingrained in me a love of books, raising me on literary icons like Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. I have probably read, Blyton’s Folk of the Faraway Tree, about fifty times and it is still on my personal list of the top reads of all time. Now as an adult, I always need to be reading something and my slightly OCD manner means that I can never leave a book unfinished. Truthfully I will pretty much read anything but I have a particular affinity for mysteries (probably because I read so many Nancy Drew books in my tweens) and fantasy literature, having read the entire Game of Thrones series in two weeks.

Reading fuels my soul

Reading fuels my soul

I consume books like they are keeping me alive. So in order to try to keep track of every novel that sparks my fancy, my sister and I created the ultimate book list, of classic novels, recommendations from friends and new releases, and I can’t seem to cross things off fast enough as the list continues to grow.

To me a great novel is something to be shared, so here are some of my favourites to add to your own lists:

1. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts. The story of one of the most wanted man in Australia escapes from prison and flees to colourful Bombay, India.

2. All that I Am – Ann Funder. Based on real people and events, the story of friends uniting against Nazism during Hilter’s rise to power.

3. The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield. A suspenseful story of secrets. Do you believe in ghosts?

4. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn. What would you do if you found out your wife was gone without a trace?

5. The Burial – Courtney Collins. Australian literature at its best, a beautifully written debut novel, of the last female bushranger.

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A few of my favourites.

6. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak. Death is the narrator of this story situated in Nazi Germany, need I say more.

7. The Tigers Wife – Téa Obreht. A young woman’s grandfather tells her his story of life in the Balkans, the ‘deathless man’ and a deaf-mute girl who befriends a tiger.

8. The People of the Book – Geraldine Brooks. A piece of historical fiction following a piece of history through history.

9. The J.M. Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society – Barbara J. Zitwer. A celebration of life, love and proof that age holds no limits.

10. Magician – Raymond E. Fiest. After nine companions journeyed to Mount Doom and before the battle for the Iron Throne, was the story of a young magician. The ultimate fantasy lovers book.

I would love you to share your recommended reads and thoughts on books you have read and loved. Happy reading.

SS x