Review: “Irrepressible You” by Georgina Penney. I’m in love!

“Irrepressible You” is the comical and un-put-down-able work of Georgina Penney.  I snagged myself a copy of this truly wicked read this week after both spotting it at a promo price of $0.99 on Amazon and iTunes (still happening people!) and reading the stellar reviews on Goodreads.

You don’t become a notorious British celebrity without rubbing a few people the wrong way, which is why writer and comedian Ben Martindale has decamped to Australia until the latest media frenzy dies down. Continue reading

Aussie Book Review: Flame Tree Hill – Mandy Magro

flame-tree-hill-by-mandy-magro

Flame Tree Hill, written by Mandy Magro, is the story of 25-year old Kirsty: her love for teenage-crush Aden – who happens to be her big brothers best friend, her passion for the country life, her personal battle with breast-cancer and her soul-crushing guilt over an accident from long ago.

That’s a lot to cover.

It’s no secret that I am an aspiring writer, and I take a lot from the books I read, sometimes I can be quite critical while I am analysing every fibre of the book, looking for ways to learn. As such I always review books with the element included of how I read the book from this perspective. So with that in mind…

I noticed a bit of backstory in the opening pages, something that I have been warned against in many blogs and books about writing. I feel like I am being told the background and relevant pieces of history; despite the fact they help me to understand what is happening right this moment, they are almost dumped in the beginning, rather than being revealed to me.

I noticed there are some very minor inconsistencies with the tense. I found some sentences were prevented from flowing freely due to the confusion. However I found this seemed only be in the earlier parts of the book, the rest flowing freely, allowing me to let go of the analytical reading style I usually adopt and lose myself in the story – which is the best part. When I lose myself, I know I am enjoying both the writers style AND the story.

There were a few scenes that I felt kind of skipped the moment. What I mean is, a scene would end and I would expect it to unfold further in the next scene, instead it would skip ahead and only refer back to the incident I wish I had read about, almost as an afterthought. Especially near the end there was one scene in particular I wish had been written. I know this is vague but I can’t go into more detail without some spoilers. As I said in the beginning though: there is a lot to cover. Perhaps if any of these scenes had been expanded the novel would have run way too long.

At times I found the dialogue to carry very heavy Australian accents, “Australian-ness” (or “sounding ‘occa'”) if you will, which is not a bad thing, I just found myself wondering if it was a bit too much. HAVING SAID THAT – I’m a coastal city girl, and I find in these areas the “australian-ness” of an accent is slightly less pronounced than in other areas. Sometimes when I thought to myself that I found the dialogue to be quite full-on, I realised I was reading it with my “coast” voice. I grew up in a town, and still sometimes utter a well-rounded “bloody oath!” I have worked with many different people all over Australia, and have in a fair few pubs, so once I adjusted my tone a touch, I could see the voices are genuine to the characters, and that made me fall for them even more. Side note: do you find you read books in your own voice or in the voice the book is set in? Eg: Old english, American, outback Australian?

There is a very serious topic that is dealt with in reference to Kirty’s past. I had read a review that said they didn’t see the twist coming, whereas I did see it coming, it was only a matter of when and how it was to unfold. Some reviewers also felt that this twist changed their whole outlook on the novel and its characters. From a technical point I can say it was revealed perfectly, the timing worked for me. Personally? It is a heavy topic. Magro has guts for bringing it into her story. I could feel the anguish and guilt Kirsty felt over her past, it was real to me. I imagine I would likewise be overwhelmed by the same feelings were I in her shoes. But I felt the resolution was slightly glossed over. For something so…dark, Kirty managed to get off quite easily.

I liked the technical / medical knowledge and emotional depth to the battle with cancer. So many things were revealed that I didn’t understand myself before hand. The account was painfully real, and I felt so much for Kirsty. I felt I was being able to peer through a looking glass at something I couldn’t fathom, glimpsing a world so real it almost hurt.

Mandy Magro has a talent for describing scenery in vivid and delightfully prosed detail. At times the words had a rhythm and melody of their own, it was like a lyrical scene from fantasia, with graceful movement and delicate colour. I found myself stopping and being somewhat awed at Magro’s skill, wishing I could one day write such poetry, woven so deliciously into the story.

I loved the characters. All of them felt so well-rounded. They had personality, voice, colour all of their own. The characters reflecting this the most were the leading loves – Kirsty and Aden, and also Kulsoom, who I found to be a beautiful soul indeed.

I liked the photography element. This gave Mandy opportunity to display the aforementioned ability to bring the country to glorious life, while building Kirsty’s personality and giving her motivation throughout her battle.

When reviewing I like to find out what I learned from reading the novel, from both a writing sense, and on a personal level. It’s clear to see I have learned I still have a ways to go in developing my scene-setting descriptive abilities. On a personal level I feel I have learned more about a disease that has affected members of my extended family, and some friends families, but never myself directly (praise be). I have always had compassion for people who have been through it, and seeing the affects breaks my heart, but I have a new-found understanding of how the treatment affects it’s sufferer’s – mentally, physically and emotionally, and a new-found respect for their courage to fight it.

Thank-you Mandy Magro, for bringing this story of courage, suffering, heart-break and unconditional love to life.

Ahhhhh, GREAT LITERATURE! Thank-you Oscar Wilde!

I have not yet finished ‘The picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde, but it is inspiring in me feelings that arise when reading something truly well written. I am captured by the prose, the dialogue, the characters – I want to fist-pump the air and say “YES! This is why people read!”

A remarkable quote that captured my interest this morning goes as follows:

“That is one of the secrets of life. Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.”

 – said by Lord Henry Wotton. Continue reading

Book #39: Rabbit, Run. John Updike, 1960. Fail.

Rabbit-Run

John Updike’s novel “Rabbit, Run” is depressing. I am finding that I can only read a few pages at a time before I am not longer in the mood to read and I put it down. This is making a massive dent in my allotted time to complete this challenge. And I know I said I have to finish every book but this one is paining me! It’s only 264 pages – I should have been able to finish this in one sitting! 

Why is it so hard for me to read?

Right now I have no compassion for this man, I have no empathy for him. Excuse my blindness but so far I am reading about a man who looks back to his glorious high-school days and pities the life he has now. Running out on his pregnant wife and child to have sex with a hooker… the thoughts he has and the way he speaks and thinks…. What do I feel for him? He is embodying things I hate. Continue reading

Book #40: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813

The Great Literature 52 week, 40 book challenge. austen

Book #40: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813.

Overall Summary (in my words):

Eligible bachelors come to a country-town in England in the early 1800’s, and a family of un-wed, middle class sisters of varying beauty and intelligence vie for their attention (along with every other female in town). Or in the case of the second eldest, graced with both handsomeness and a clever mind – reject the attention of one bachelor in particular on the basis of pride and opinion. Elizabeth Bennet makes judgements based on perceived knowledge, not actual, and the discovery of truth leads her to be confronted by her own pride. Will she have the courage to admit to her own misgivings, and even if she does will it be too late? Continue reading