Thursday, August 29, 2013

THE KINGMAKER'S DAUGHTER by Philippa Gregory ★★★★

Reviewed by Emily Barber

‘The Kingmaker's Daughter’ by Phillipa Gregory is the gripping story of the daughters of the man known as the "Kingmaker," Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick: the most powerful magnate in fifteenth-century England.  Without a son and heir, he uses his daughters, Anne and Isabel as pawns in his political games, and they grow up to be influential players in their own right.
At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Married at age fourteen, she is soon left widowed and fatherless, her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Anne manages her own escape by marrying Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but her choice will set her on a collision course with the overwhelming power of the royal family and will cost the lives of those she loves most in the world, including her precious only son, Prince Edward. Ultimately, the kingmaker's daughter will achieve her father's greatest ambition.
First of all a disclaimer of sorts: I love Sharon Kay Penman's ‘The Sunne in Splendour’ set in the ‘War of the Roses’ period and I have read it multiple times. So my reactions whilst reading ‘The Kingmaker's Daughter’ are coloured by that. There were multiple times whilst reading I found myself saying "Wait, that's not right" and I had to remind myself that both books are novels and no one can know the truth about character and motivations. However, most readers won’t know this.
In saying that I did enjoy this book and Phillipa Gregory deserves much praise for this series. I highly recommend this book, but I have to warn readers that this is an intense and dark part of history and there is no happy ending.

My review copy of THE KINGMAKER’S DAUGHTER thanks to the very wonderful people at Simon & Schuster Australia.
Release Dates: Australia and New Zealand: August 2013

Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the internationally bestselling novel The Other Boleyn Girl. Now she is looking at the family that preceded the Tudors: the magnificent Plantaganets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds.
Her other great interest is the charity that she founded nearly twenty years ago: Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells for the primary schools of this poor African country. A former student of Sussex university, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire.
She welcomes visitors to her site

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Shining Girls Lauren Beukes ★★★★½


    Lauren Beukes said in an interview that the only way she could write her horrific, serial killer Harper was to hurt him at every opportunity possible. And injure him quite often she does which only makes him more frighteningly real.
     She also didn’t want to glorify violence against women. So each victim of Harper’s is given a full life before Harper whisks it away.  They are women who are Mothers, journalists, nurses, social advocates and their lives are revealed within their eras in fascinating detail.
     The Shining Girls is an extraordinary book in that it crosses genres.  It’s a crime thriller but also a work of science fiction.  And it’s about as complicated as a time travelling book can be as the killer leaves victim’s personal objects from one era on the body of another victim in another decade.
     Beukes kept meticulous charts on her wall, while writing the book, showing where and when objects were taken and then placed, where Harper was injured, how long before he healed, along with the timeline of victim’s lives and deaths.
     Harper living in 1926 is drawn to an abandoned house that works as a portal into the future. Any time he thinks about he can travel to.  He has a compulsion to kill and particularly enjoys visiting his victims as children in order to confirm they are his shining girls. Behind their eyes he can see a glow.
     Kirby is the only victim to survive an attack. Years later, interning for the Chicago Sun-Times, Kirby teams up with a reporter who covered her attack and slowly they discover connections between her and numerous murders in the past. 
     We all know Harper is the killer. The real thrill is watching characters discover the truth.  Beukes is a gifted author who works seamlessly in the complex time travel arena.   Just like Audrey Niffenegger’s ‘Time Traveler’s Wife’ this book will haunt you with the possibilities. You will marvel, too, that an author with such a moral compass can write one of the truly most evil killers ever put to page.

My review copy of The Shining Girls thanks to the shiny people at HARPER COLLINS PUBLISHERS Australia

Release Dates:
Australia and New Zealand: May 2013
Purchasing details:      Click here
Author’s Website:        LAUREN BEUKES
Sample Read:             Click here

     Lauren Beukes is a novelist, TV scriptwriter, documentary maker, comics writer and occasional journalist. She won the 2011 Arthur C Clarke Award for her novel ZOO CITY, set in a fantastical Johannesburg where guilt manifests as spirit animal familiars. Her previous works include MOXYLAND, a dystopian cyberpunk thriller set in Cape Town under corporate apartheid. She helped create South Africa’s first half-hour animated TV show, URBO: The Adventures of Pax Afrika, and has written kids animated shows for Disney UK and Millimages in France.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns by Lauren Weisberger

She’s Baaaaaack!

Reviewed by Mel Hearse

      I’m a fan of Weisberger’s work—Last Night at the Chateau Marmont is my personal favourite, and while her latest, the hotly anticipated sequel to the best selling Devil Wears Prada, fails to knock it off the number one perch for me, it’s certainly a great read.  
      Following on from the original Devil, Revenge Wears Prada sees Andy at the newly turned age of thirty, now an incredibly successful magazine editor, and working closely with her best friend Emily, another Runway survivor (yes, THAT Emily). She’s about to be married and has been careful to stay clear of Miranda Priestly, her dreadful first boss. But Andy’s luck is running out. Miranda Priestly isn’t the kind of woman who hides in the background.
      In the words of the book’s blurb—Miranda’s baaaaack...and more devilish than ever.
      If I have a complaint about the sequel, it’s that there wasn’t much of the Devil herself, and where she did appear there was a slight feeling that it was really a tack on moment, included simply for continuity or a sense of obligation to the franchise. The strength of the book is Andy.        Her story line is interesting enough to class this book as a masterpiece in its genre (Hey, literature it ain’t, but as a good chick-lit novel it excels.)
      Overall, the book is a great read, any issues are no more than niggles.  The book is aspirational, glossy and all the basic things you want in a good beach read.  
       I give it three stars for execution, four stars for delivering the fun factor.

Our review copy of Revenge Wears Prada thanks to the stylish people at HARPER COLLINS PUBLISHERS Australia

Everything′s in place for the season′s hottest launch:
Tall latte (with two raw sugars)? Check.
Gucci trench (draped over desk)? Check.
Outrageous, unreasonable demands? Check.
Andy has just turned thirty and is an incredibly successful magazine editor, working closely with her best friend Emily, another Runway survivor. She′s about to get married - life′s on track and she's been careful to stay clear of Miranda Priestly, her dreadful first boss. But Andy′s luck is running out. Miranda Priestly isn′t the kind of woman who hides in the background.
She′s back... and more devilish than ever.

Release Dates:            Australia and New Zealand: June 2013
Purchasing details:      Click here
Author’s Website:        LAUREN WEISBERGER
Sample Read:             Click here

      Lauren Weisberger is the author of the mega success The Devil Wears Prada. It is almost autobiographic, since Lauren did start her career as an assistant to Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, Anna Wintour. She then moved to Departures magazine where she began writing both for the magazine and in writing classes by night. She debuted with The Devil Wears Prada, which exists in more than 4 million copies and became the Golden Globe award winning motion picture starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway.
      With her second book, Everyone Worth Knowing Lauren Weisberger proved that she was not just a one hit wonder, with more than a million copies in print to prove it. .
Lauren Weisberger is now married to Mike Cohen who is also a writer.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Australian Women's Weekly FOOD WE LOVE ★★★★★


When I think of The Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks I think of my first attempts, over thirty years ago, at cooking and my first ever cookbook, The Women’s Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook.  I loved it so much because until I owned that book everything I cooked was a disaster.  They had fabulous pictures of every step of the process and a picture of how the dish was meant to look at the end.  I truly learnt to cook with that book. Until a recent house move that book sat on my shelf for three decades. 
Of course, over the years you add more and more books to your collection and most of mine were Women’s Weekly.  Any time favourite cookbooks are mentioned amongst friends there is usually the comment, “You can’t go wrong with a Women’s Weekly.”
The Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook series has been around since 1976 beginning with Best Ever Recipes.  After that one book a year was released and they have now sold over 75 million copies worldwide across 100 countries. 
Enough of history though, you want the review part don’t you?
So, when my The Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Food We Love’ (favourite recipes from the AWW Test Kitchen) arrived, I took one look and fell in love.  This book was first published in 2006 and this is the latest 2013 edition.
In Food We Love 90 past and present staff of the AWW Test Kitchen have gathered together their favourite recipes. Even though some of the recipes are years old, these are recipes they helped develop and are still cooking today for their family and friends.
Let me be honest, despite my cooking experience—some say I am not bad—I am not a baker.
Muffins, yes!
Biscuits, rarely!
Ice-cream with a banana for dessert, mostly!
I blame the oven every time a cake failed.  Of course, said my friends nodding, while probably thinking she can't bake.  It’s always the oven, right?  Eventually, I gave up and brought salads or Tim Tams to gatherings .

So the first section I turned to in Food We Love was ‘Baking’. Here is the real test of the success of a cook book for me. Can I bake something from it and not watch my family chew for far too long on the initial bite?
Results:  Moist orange cake. Yes! “Please make another,” said the 10 year old. 
Moist coconut cake with coconut ice frosting.  Yes! “Wonderful and different,” congratulates the husband.
Carrot and banana cake.  Yes! “Please pack extra for my lunch,” said the two boys who normally will only take those horrible, deadly, sugary muesli bars you buy from the shop.
Cinnamon teacake. Yes! Yes! Yes! Everyone loved this big, yummy, donut-tasting cake which my fussiest son devoured after first licking—yes licking—the side nervously having experienced my baking for years.
And this is only some of the baking section. There are finger foods, soups and starters, and mains; broken into the usual meats, pasta & rice, seafood, salads, and accompaniments.  Then desserts, baking (wonderful baking) and even Christmas fare.

It’s bright and breezy and basic—with a beautiful picture of the result—which is what we average cooks want.  In the side column of the recipes there is also a little blurb from the test kitchen employee who chose the recipe.  They tell you who they are and why they love this recipe.
The Australian Women’s Weekly Food We Love is now the cook book I love.  I could write so much more about this book but I have a lemon sour cream cake in the oven and …

Review copy thanks to my delicious friends at Bauer Media
Please click here for purchasing info and further details.
More Women’s Weekly Cookbooks to check out HERE

Published: June/2013
Page extent: 240pp
ISBN: 978-1-74245-385-9
RRP: $29.95

Saturday, August 3, 2013

NIGHT TERRORS ANTHOLOGY edited by Karen Henderson

Since the rise and rise of eBooks, short stories and novellas have become increasingly popular.  I think of short stories as a sorbet between longer books; something to refresh your palette before moving on to that six hundred page tome or if you are a Stephen King fan one thousand plus page doorstop.
The “Night Terrors Anthology” edited by Karen Henderson of Kayelle Press is a creepy little anthology of all things nasty with an abundance of demons, vampires, ghosts and the undead.  Inside are seventeen top-notch horror stories from international authors; many of whom are award winners.
The quality of the stories ranges from very good to exceptional.  The first of the anthology, “A World Not Our Own” by J.C. Hemphill proves you can’t trust vampires and is as far from “Twilight” as a good vampire story should be. 
Now the publishing and film and television world have fallen in love with zombies, zombies have become the new black.  Move over Edward. Read “Share the Love” by Chris Donahue to get your quality zombie fix.  
“White Lines, White Crosses” by Andrew J. McKiernan could have been written by Stephen King.  It is a cool little ghost story about a teenager’s desire to fit in and the price he pays when the peer pressure comes from the other side of the grave. It is seriously dark and beautifully paced.
There is also a few classics thrown in for good measure. They are just as fresh today and fit right in with their modern counterparts;  Edgar Allan Poe’s “A Tell-Tale Heart, “The Dead Girl” by Guy de Maupassant and “A Ghost Story” by Mark Twain.
The “Night Terrors Anthology” is a solid collection with some truly enjoyable, clever tales that will stay with you whether you want them to or not.   The “Creepy” Badge of Honor is awarded to Editor Karen Henderson for having a great feel for a good story.

Thank you to Kayelle Press for our e-review copy of Night Terrors Anthology.
 This book is available in paperback and e-book format
Visit for more details and to purchase.


Based in Australia, Kayelle Press is a new independent publisher of speculative fiction, which includes fantasy, science fiction and horror. We will publish books for young readers, young adults and adults that will tempt your imagination and allow you to escape into unknown worlds.

Most of our books will be available in paperback and various digital formats. They can be purchased through this website or from your favourite online book store. Alternatively, you can request an order form through email and send the order through the post with a bank cheque, money order or international draft. Refer to our How to Order page for more information.