The Week: 17th- 23rd June

My book is done! I’ve passed it back and forth with my editor six times, and now she has sent it off to the publisher. I plan to never read it again, in case I find glaring mistakes!

I was, however, rather excited to see myself popping up in advertising alongside some pretty big-name authors this week:

Sonya Heaney on Romance.com.au Coming Soon

On My Radar: The Last Days Of The Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner

The Last Days Of The Romanov Dancers by Kerri Turner

My review of The Greek’s Pregnant Cinderella (Cinderella Seductions #2) by Michelle Smart

The Greek's Pregnant Cinderella (Cinderella Seductions #2) by Michelle Smart

Jennifer Weiner on the Power of Women’s Stories and Killing ‘Chick Lit’

Jennifer Weiner on the Power of Women's Stories and Killing 'Chick Lit' Mrs Everything.

Jennifer Weiner on the Power of Women’s Stories and Killing ‘Chick Lit’

Jennifer Weiner on the Power of Women's Stories and Killing 'Chick Lit' Mrs Everything.

There’s an excellent – and lengthy – interview with author Jennifer Weiner that is worth checking out over at Goodreads at the moment. She talks about her new book, writing in the era of Donald Trump, and evolving genres:

Jennifer Weiner on the Power of Women’s Stories and Killing ‘Chick Lit’

(I’m not sure if you need a Goodreads account to see it.)

 

 

Midsummer Dreams by Alison May

Midsummer Dreams by Alison May

Four people. Four messy lives. One night that changes everything …

Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect.
Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself.
Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers.
Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach.
At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice is not always the right one.

Midsummer Dreams by Alison May

My first experience with Shakespeare came at age eight, when I was the Changeling in the Queensland Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I grew up and moved onto adult roles in various productions of the play, and so I feel like I have a special attachment to the story (and to the character of Hermia in particular – or Emily as she is here).

I didn’t know what to expect from this book, but I was willing to try almost anything. It turned out to be much better-written than I was expecting, with realistic characters and believable situations and dialogue.

There were some genuinely funny moments, which came from the realistic conversations between the characters. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

I like that not everything is revealed immediately, and I liked how flawed the characters were.

There is head-jumping going on in this story, as you would expect with more than one featured character. I did struggle a little bit with the changes, however. From first to third person never really works for me, in any book.

That said, if you’re a fan of this play, then I think you should give this book a go.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

How about some misogyny with that review?

Outlander 1x06 The Garrison Commander Claire Ending Sonya Heaney Sceenshot

I have a question: if Joanne Rowling had published a book with a young witch name Hermione Granger as her protagonist, would it have been the massive global success J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was?

I’m going to take a guess and say NO.

The reason I got to thinking about this recently was because of Diana Gabaldon’s book, Outlander. Now a popular television adaptation exists of course more people are hearing about the story and picking up the book.

Now, I’m not the series’ biggest fan, nor do I think much of Herself (as the obsessive fans refer to the author). In fact, the reason I was reading Outlander reviews was because I was interested to see what new readers thought of the spousal abuse – which will be coming up in the television version right after the mid-year break.

Fans will defend the abuse in this book to the death, and – yes – it infuriates me.

However, there’s a difference between picking at the major flaws in Gabaldon’s work, and being a misogynist because you think it makes you look smarter than those silly women.

I’m not sure why so many men (and some women) think it’s okay to pick up something written by a woman and/or with a female protagonist with the intention of insulting it. You can dislike Outlander all you want, but to review the book by saying, “This is the most stupid thing I’ve ever read! I think I lost IQ points reading it! It’s the kind of thing women will like!”…

…You see my problem?

Just before the television version started, I read an article that essentially said men are conditioned to expect to see themselves as the star and hero of every story. They’re conditioned to think something isn’t interesting unless a man is at the star of it, and they’re conditioned to immediately dislike something if a woman wrote it (unless they’re tricked into it a la Harry Potter).

And you know what? I’m so, so tired of it. I’m so tired of anything a woman does being, “It’s just chick lit! Why didn’t anybody tell me this was a woman’s thing! It’s so stupid!”

I’m sorry guys, but misogyny doesn’t cut it in the 21st century. Or at least it shouldn’t.

Cover Wars

I’ve had so many debates about book cover differences from country to country. I don’t go for Torso Guy covers.  All too often it makes the books look cheap and nasty – and it’s downright embarrassing, to be honest.

But because pretty much every book written by a woman and published in America gets Torso Guy slapped onto it, I always seem to lose arguments with most readers over other designs versus, well, abs.

I think I can win the argument with this one, though.

I read Star Attraction before its Australian release some time ago. With this cover:

 Star Attraction Vanessa Stubbs Original Australian Cover

When I was looking through NetGalley for review books recently, I came across this God-awful thing and thought to myself, Ugh. No way! I went ahead and read the blurb anyway, and thought it sounded familiar. But I’d never have thought that the humorous, quirky, chick lit/romance I read earlier could possibly ever be punished with THAT for its international release.

Star Attraction Vanessa Stubbs

Would readers seriously pick up 80s-Hypercolor abs over the much classier original cover? I guess the publisher thinks so.

Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney

Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney

“I’ve been single for my entire life. Not one boyfriend. Not one short-term dating situation. Not one person with whom I regularly hung out and kissed on the face.”

So begins Katie Heaney’s memoir of her years spent looking for love, but never quite finding it. By age 25, equipped with a college degree, a load of friends, and a happy family life, she still has never had a boyfriend…and she’s barely even been on a second date.

Throughout this laugh-out-loud funny book, you will meet Katie’s loyal group of girlfriends, including flirtatious and outgoing Rylee, the wild child to Katie’s shrinking violet, as well as a whole roster of Katie’s ill-fated crushes. And you will get to know Katie herself — a smart, modern heroine relaying truths about everything from the subtleties of a Facebook message exchange to the fact that “Everybody who works in a coffee shop is at least a little bit hot.”

Funny, relatable, and inspiring, this is a memoir for anyone who has ever struggled to find love, but has also had a lot of fun in the process.

Never Have I Ever by Katie Heaney

I requested this book for review for one reason: I saw it mentioned online and got excited about an author with the same surname as me.

That is truly, honestly the reason I got it, so I went in with no idea and no expectations.

If you like Bridget Jones sort of stories, this is a book you’ll probably enjoy. It’s a memoir of a woman in her mid-twenties who has been single all her life. The author writes in a light-hearted tone, not presenting her situation as someone who is depressed about their issues as much as baffled.

I’m a bit older than the author, but I could identify with some of her flashbacks to the 90s, and if you’re her age I’m sure you’ll find a lot to identify with there.

However, I have to say I wasn’t as interested in her memories from primary school crushes as I was in things that happened later on in her life. I think the second half of the book was more interesting than the first.

This is a very light, fluffy read.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 11th – 17th November

Miserable Sydney 16th November 2013 Sonya Heaney

The closest thing to blue sky Sydney had to offer!

We just got back from Sydney, where we went to see The Australian Ballet (and also ate at Café Sydney – the setting for one of Sarah Mayberry’s books!). Good God does it rain a lot in Sydney!

More Than One Night by Sarah Mayberry

I’ve gone through a lot of books this week, in an effort to try and catch up with all my review books. I’m doing okay so far.

My review of Provocative in Pearls by Madeline Hunter

Provocative in Pearls (The Rarest Blooms #2) by Madeline Hunter

What in the world happened to Bridget Jones?

Bridget Jones Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

My review of The House on Main Street by Shirlee McCoy

The House on Main Street by Shirlee McCoy

My review of Dancing On Air by Nicole Hurley-Moore

Dancing On Air by Nicole Hurley-Moore

Bridget Jones – still going? Jumped the shark?

Bridget Jones Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

I’m going to admit to jumping on the Bridget Jones bandwagon over a decade ago. I was living in central London, in a strange place with strangers, and I developed a bit of an obsession with books and movies about my surroundings. Notting Hill was a recent movie, and Ms Jones was gallivanting around the same parts of the city I was.

I went to see the first movie metres from some of the movie locations. I wasn’t yet old enough to identify with some of Bridget’s dilemmas, but I felt connected with her.

Sure, the books weren’t great literature, but they were very much of the moment, and Brits take to chick lit more than people anywhere. Jones was a Big Deal, and I believed it as much as anyone.

Of course all fads pass, and here we are in 2013, the lady with the weight and man problems wiped from most people’s minds. This is why I was surprised to pick up the weekend newspaper a couple of weeks ago to discover a (negative) review of another Bridget Jones instalment.

When did this happen? How did I not know about it?

I don’t consider it a spoiler (as it’s freely mentioned everywhere the book is mentioned), but here’s the thing: in this new book Bridget is in her fifties, and Mark Darcy, the man she fought hard for, is dead. Yes, DEAD.

bridget_jones_narrowweb__300x320,0

I could be wrong, but isn’t this guy one of the reasons this series was a success? Isn’t the casting of Colin Firth one of the main reasons the film was such a success?

This particular brand of chick lit is sold as happy-go-lucky, women in the city, cheesy ending type fiction. Fun, and ultimately satisfying. Sure, Helen Fielding can make whatever decisions she wants about her own characters, but all I can think is, WHY?

Why would you do that? The series was very much of its time, and something I looked back on fondly, even if I had no particular interest in it anymore. Why not let a ‘classic’ (yes, I’m using the term strangely!) be instead of dragging it on and on?

I’m going to call this a serious, serious case of an author not knowing when to let something go. Instead of adding to the fun of the earlier books, the author has killed – literally – one of the best things the story had going for it.

Now, you may have noticed I didn’t say I’d read the new book. For all I know, I might love it. However, I’d rather keep Mark Darcy alive than read something likely to destroy an iconic story of a decade and a half ago.

Currently Free: Mr. Love by Sally Mason

Mr. Love by Sally Mason is free at the moment.

Mr. Love by Sally Mason

The pen name is deadlier than the sword.
Desperate for money, literary author Gordon Rushworth writes a romance novel and self-publishes it under a female alias. To his astonishment it becomes a mega-bestseller, sparking a feeding frenzy in New York publishing and hit-hungry Hollywood. Soon a gorgeous and ambitious young Manhattan agent, Jane Cooper, arrives in Gordon’s Vermont village hunting the mysterious “female” novelist, forcing him to concoct a desperate plan to conceal his identity–a plan that pitches him into an increasingly hilarious spiral of lies, lust and love.