Shelleyrae

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Smashwords book reviews by Shelleyrae

  • All that you can leave behind on Dec. 12, 2010

    All That You Can leave Behind is the story of Sage who is struggling to survive an abusive father, a disinterested mother and social isolation in the midst of a Carribean paradise. Written in the first person, Thyssen has captured his protagonists voice with an astonishing authenticity. Sage is a troubled thirteen year old boy and his thoughts and actions reflect that. Thyssen communicates the complexity of a teen’s thought processes and emotions along with the way they view the world. It’s easy to empathise with Sage even if your own experiences are dissimilar. I ached for this lost boy and felt his pain and confusion and desperate need for love deeply. Thyssen was creative and clever in using a blog to give his character his voice. The immediacy of his point of view is crucial to the realism of his character. I did feel that at times that there was some repetition of information that may have been true to Sage but was a minor irritant to read. I felt that the secondary characters were also well developed espcially given we only have Sage’s point of view to show what he knows and thinks about them. I wanted to slap his mother more than once and thank John and his wife for their decency. The themes of the novel can be confronting but are handled with a raw honesty. It is Sage’s voice that ensures that the details of his experiences, while often shocking, are never salacious. Everything is layered in strong emotion that both highlights and cushions the bad and the good. There is a thread of hope that Thyssen nurtures that stops the story becoming overwhelmed by the darker aspects. All That You Can Leave Behind is well written with an unique protagonist and thought provoking premise. Challenging, yet ultimately uplifting, this semi biographical work of fiction is a worthy read.
  • The Only Thing I See on Feb. 13, 2011

    Jessica Barksdale Inclan is a romance novelist with a dozen traditionally published books, including the Being and Believe trilogies. Along with her success with traditional publishing houses, Inclan has chosen to explore self publishing and has plans to release a selection of new and backlist works in electronic format. The Only Thing I See is a contemporary story of complicated relationships. Annabelle Cousins can't seem to find the passion she once had for her career as a wedding photographer. As she looks through her lens she is suddenly seeing more than she expects. Instead of bringing clarity to her life, Annabelle finds her heightened sense are clouding her judgement. She is taken by suprise when her fiance leaves, and confused by her attraction to a groom to be. Her carefully planned life is crumbling around her. Despite the veneer of romance, this novel is focused on exploring Annabelle's journey towards emotional maturity. I found Annabelle to have a passive nature that highlights her poor self esteem. Self pity is rarely an attractive trait in a romantic heroine yet Annabelle does attract sympathy as she struggles with finding her way towards fulfillment. Most women can empathise with the devastation after the break up of a long term relationship, no matter how appropriate the decision. Inclan captures her hurt, confusion and eventual acceptance deftly. The romantic relationship is complicated by an obvious obstacle that would usually preclude a developing relationship. I felt sorry for Nadine even while accepting the idea that her relationship with Robert was not meant to be. Inclan has very carefully navigated the path it takes but it's a difficult task and I wasn't wholly convinced. The circumstances don't inspire confidence in the traditional HEA ending yet I was left with the hope that Annabelle would find happiness. The source of Annabelle's intuition is never fully resolved. Inclan leaves it to the reader to interpret with a deliberate sense of mystery. This thread, and the tarot readings, underscore the idea of fate and destiny and its inevitability that is a major theme in the novel. A quick and satisying read, The Only Thing I See is a thoughtful story that examines complicated relationships in modern times with original elements and likeable characters. Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out www.bookdout.wordpress.com
  • To Kill A Warlock on March 01, 2011

    I was pleased to win a copy of To Kill A Warlock at a blog giveaway since I had been seeing it everywhere, I’m just sorry it took me so long to get to it. Dulcie O’Neil is no sparkly sweet fairy, she is a Regulator – keeping the paranormal creatures that have seeped into our world in line. With a kickass attitude and handful of fairy dust she is recruited by Knight, from the Netherworld Headquarters, to investigate some gruesome deaths suspected to be related to an illicit potion trade. The storyline has a little bit of everything, magic, romance, mystery and action, its light hearted yet there are a few shadows lurking. Dulcie is sassy, fun and smart(except for her blindspot where men are concerned) and I liked the fresh twist with her fairy magic abilities. I also like how Dulcie has more mundane concerns like money, bad relationships and her self conciousness about her pointy ears, which makes her easier to relate to. I have to admit, the wannabee author thing didn’t appeal to me but it is only a minor issue. There are an awful lot of male’s in Dulcies life – I thought perhaps it was a few too many panting over her. Knight is the obvious hero, and Mallory managed his ambiguity well, I was never quite sure just which side he was going to come down on. A Loki is something new so that added interest for me, and I enjoyed his chemistry with Dulcie. I liked Sam though we didn’t see much of her, and I can see the potential storylines where Dagan and Quillan are concerned. I found To Kill A Warlock a fast and entertaining read and I am interested in seeing how her other book Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble compares.
  • Twenty-Five Years Ago Today on March 02, 2011

    Twenty Five Years Ago Today is a contemporary mystery by Stacy Juba. Haunted by the murder of her cousin, Kris Langley is drawn to a twenty five year old unsolved murder case she discovers in the local newspaper archives. Diana Soares was 21 when her body was discovered in the woods and despite the police identifying several possible suspects, her killer was never brought to justice. Intrigued, Kris approaches Diana’s family and offers to investigate. Her good intentions become complicated when the investigation takes an unexpected turn. The plot is solid, with the conclusion a striking twist. I did feel that the story needed more tension to sustain momentum as I didn’t feel the suspense began to build until more than halfway through. Kris has an interesting background which works as a catalyst for this story. I thought this was an interesting layer to her character but I admit I didn’t really warm to her. I felt there were some inconsistencies in her personality and behaviour that were minor but they niggled me, particularly her actions when she identified the killer. The other characters that take part in the story are developed well, though I found it difficult to distinguish between Cheryl and her mother on occassion. Kris’s family members and their dynamic add interest to both her character and the storyline.The relationship between Kris and Eric provides a romantic subplot and I appreciated the epilogue that gave some closure to that thread. The author has worked as a reporter and uses her experience to flesh out the details of the newspaper office and Kris’s role as an editorial assistant who writes mostly obituaries and community announcements. I liked Juba’s “25 Years Ago Today” segments that headed each chapter, and how the book was concluded through a series of “articles”. Twenty Five Years Ago Today is a solid mytery debut by Stacy Juba and the E edition offers some interesting bonus features. The author has included two essays on writing the book, an interview with her main character, book club discussion questions, and original scene altered by the editing process. There is also an excerpt from Stacy Juba’s newest novel Sink or Swim, an excerpt of Hit List by Darcia Helle and a short story, The Artist by Maria Savva.
  • Trevor's Song on March 02, 2011

    Susan Helene Gottfried has given the readers of Trevor’s Song an all access backstage pass into the scenes of a touring rock star band and the complex life of a man on the edge. Trevor Wolff is on the edge of super stardom, the edge of self destruction, the edge of life and death. As the man who brought together the band, Shapeshifters, it is a matter of pride that the popular heavy rock band is soaring to super stardom status. Trevor may not be a talented bassist but he is enjoying the benefits of the band lifestyle, women, money, status and well, more women. His childhood friend, Mitchell, is the front man with the looks and talent. Mitchell’s family helped Trevor to survive his abusive childhood, and though the scars remain Trevor is mostly content. Then Mitchell meets Kerri and Trevor struggles with the changes that brings to his relationships. Gottfried explores Trevor’s internal conflicts, with humour and honesty. He is happy for, but deeply envious of, the new couples happiness. He wants to hate Kerri but instead is in half in love her. He would never betray his friendship with Mitchell, and Kerri isn’t interested, so Trevor finds himself having to negotiate this new situation. It’s not an easy thing to do for a man whose idea of love is transient at best. However the newlywed’s show Trevor a possibility he hadn’t really considered before, love and commitment that makes each half of the relationship a better person. It’s both intriguing and fun to watch Trevor essentially discover maturity by observing Mitchell and Kerri. Trevor is such a unique character and it is to the authors credit that the author is able to reconcile his complicated personality and emotions in a way that is genuine and sympathetic. Having witnessed Trevor’s growth during the course of the novel, his medical crisis is a threat to a character that is only just starting to find his way. Gottfried’s experience in the music scene shows in the details. It’s a unique setting in that Shapeshifter’s doesn’t have the glamour that is usually exploited as a celebrity lifestyle. Tour buses are cramped and without privacy no matter how expensive they are, and concerts are not just about the music but high pressure situations that demand all the band members can give every time. Gottfried has a natural style of writing and dialogue that suits her story and characters. There is some language and explicit sexual encounters though they are not gratuitous. I felt that perhaps the pace could have been a smoother, a lot of time in the first half is set on establishing the characters but there isn’t enough happening . Seeds of the events that happen in the second half could have planted earlier to hint at the things to come. I also felt that too much of the first half is Mitchell’s story to tell rather than Trevor’s. Though the relationship between Mitchell and Kerri is an essential part of Trevor’s character growth, I think the approach could have been skewed a bit more to ensure that Trevor’s perspective stayed central. Trevor’s Song is Trevor’s story, he is a complex individual that Susan Helen Gottfried brings to life with cheeky humour and emotional depth. This novel is a well written, contemporary story with unique and appealing characters. Gottfried is currently working on a sequel and so Trevor’s refrain will continue. Shelleyrae www.bookdout.wordpress.com
  • Shadow Cat - The Striped Ones: Book 1 (Shapeshifter Romance) on April 10, 2011

    Shadow Cat is a paranormal romance with an exotic setting and intriguing myth that gives it an edge in this crowded genre. In the lush tropical rainforest of Malaysia, clans of wehr-tigers defend their territory against human encroachment. Berani, a female ‘orang belang’, is incensed by the encampment of humans who have destroyed a section of the jungle and is determined to drive them away. Eric has inherited his grandfather’s pharmaceutical company and is desperate to prove himself in his role as CEO and fend off his rivals. He is pinning his hopes on the research team in Malaysia making a discovery that will cement his position, but the unsanctioned clearing of the rainforest puts the project in jeopardy. With his right hand man, and best friend, Bryan, Eric heads to Malaysia to rescue the situation. An accidental confrontation between Berani and Eric results in startling changes for them both. Shadow Cat has a lot to recommend it and a real strength of this book lies in Jacobs seamlessly weaving Malay legends that center around the ‘orang belang’, which translates as the ‘Striped Ones’, and the soul destroying demons known as ‘pennangalan’ into a contemporary setting. Jacobs maintains the truth of her world by incorporating the legend and language of Malaysia in a way that is credible and demonstrates careful research. The storyline is well thought out and interesting. The relationship between Berani and Eric is integral to the story but doesn’t overwhelm it. As this is a series debut, I recognise that this first book plays a crucial part in grounding further installments but it does result is a pace that is a little uneven. Most of the action was reserved for the second half of the novel and I thought there were instances of repetition of information in the first half that could have been dropped or condensed to improve the flow. Berani is a strong character who is immediately appealing. She is tough but also has an emotional vulnerability and is likeable. Eric is less attractive, his arrogance is off putting and while that trait never really recedes, he does become more rounded as the story progresses. The development of their relationship is well handled, initially it is heavily based on lust and the instinctual pull of mating with some well written erotic scenes. Berani doesn’t speak nor understand, English so her communication with Eric is primarily through body and sign language when the two are alone. Love, or rather lust, is an universal language of course, but Jacobs is careful to develop their relationship in a manner that is believable and also cultivates the emotional connection. What I particularly appreciated in terms of character is that neither partner has to compromise their strengths for the sake of the romance. The book is well written with wonderful use of imagery and language. Jacobs uses Malay terms naturally within the story, and while she includes a glossary at the back, it is not necessary to refer to it (though it is interesting). Shadow Cat is an impressive self published debut by Reena Jacobs with an unique setting, myth and appealing characters. I would recommend Shadow Cat to readers who enjoy a sensual paranormal shifter romance with a compelling storyline.
  • Credo's Hope on May 22, 2011

    Credo's Hope is the first in an entertaining series featuring police detective Alexandra Wolfe. Part police procedural, part mystery with deft touches of comedy, this is a well written novel with an interesting story and likeable characters. Alex, and her partner Casey, are called to a case where a prostitute has been shot, a young girl injured and the suspect is in the wind. It's going to take hard work and a bit of luck to track him down, but Alex can't resist her best friends plea to take on a cold case involving a death row inmate. Investigating on her own time, Alex manages put her boss offside and to step on a few toes, including those of the Prada shod mafia boss, Giannina Angelino. Despite being assaulted, shot at, kidnapped and harassed, Alex is determined to follow every lead and see justice done. I enjoyed the multi layered plot spear headed by Alex's official and unofficial investigation. Holt's own experience as a police officer is evident in the details, from the investigative process to the physical confrontations. There are also some interesting subplots, such as Casey's ongoing argument with another detective, Mrs Highland and Alex's accidental involvement with the local mafia. There is no sense of crowding despite all the action and the pacing is well handled. The dialogue is well written, snappy and realistic and generally the standard of writing is high. There were a few occasions where I thought the writing could be a little tighter, I think it would benefit from an experienced editor just to provide a final gloss of professionalism to the manuscript. Holt displays real strength in developing a cast of realistic, dynamic characters all of which are appealing. Alex is smart and grounded with enough attitude to make hard choices for the right reasons. Her phone calls with her mother give us some idea of where she has come from but it is her interaction with her friends, colleagues and dog, Tessa, that tell us who she is. Alex believes in her job, evidenced by her determination to follow her cases wherever they may lead, despite any threats to herself. It's a mix of stubborn bravery and dogged resolve that makes Alex an admirable detective and loyalty and sass that makes her an appealing protagonist. As Alex's best friend, Megan provides a lot of the laughs but also reveals Alex lighter side. She is a wonderful foil to the more serious aspects of the story, and provides a believable impetus for Alex to involve herself in the Brian McClelland case. I also enjoyed many of the supporting characters including Alex's beleaguered boss, Kate, and nurses Maddy and Carlo. Credo's Hope is a great read and an impressive start to this self published series. I'm really glad I took a chance on it and recommend it unreservedly to fans of the genre. I'm hoping to read the second installment Credo's Legacy as soon as I have the opportunity.
  • Half-Inch on July 11, 2011

    After suffering for years in an abusive marriage, Pammy is nothing but relieved her husband has finally moved out. Her freedom is an illusion however, as her husband continues to intimidate her, and Pammy knows she will never escape his brutality. Pushed beyond her limits, Pammy decides that only his death will allow her to live and devises an elaborate plan to rid herself of him once and for all. It's a challenge in stories of novella length to establish a character that the reader to connect to but Griffin achieves that easily. My allegiance immediately lay with Pammy as she described her life as a victim of domestic violence. Her situation is inherently sympathetic but it is to Griffin's credit that, even as Pammy schemes to murder her husband, I continued to support her. Pammy's husband has no redeeming qualities so I had real concerns about his impending demise, though it would never be something I would condone in real life, but I did experience a twinge of regret when Pammy decides he should not go to his grave alone. I was intrigued by the moral ambiguity that Griffin provoked with her characterisation and thought provoking plot. While the premise of the story is quite simple, it has a surprising moral and ethical complexity. Griffin deconstructs the development of Pammy's relationship with her husband, illustrating the warning signs of an abusive relationship Pammy had ignored. While the blame for violence rests squarely on the abuser, Griffin doesn't excuse the contribution Pammy made in making herself a victim. It's a subtle yet thought provoking undercurrent that I did not expect in a story described as Chick Lit Noir by the author. Similarly, Pammy's choice to murder her husband, has unexpected consequences which I thought was a very clever twist to the story and was a satisfying and balanced conclusion. A tale of revenge and it's consequences, Half-Inch is a well crafted novella that I thought entertaining and clever. Short, yet sharp, I'm happy to recommend it.
  • Bob Moore: No Hero on July 13, 2011

    Bob Moore is a private investigator with a select clientele - 'Super's',those with special powers who are a part of everyday society. He reluctantly takes on a case to investigate the alleged disappearance of Doc Arts patients despite the general skepticism and his dislike of the man. Just as Moore decides to quit he witnesses a gruesome death and Moore is determined to find the callous murderer. Bob is a traditional PI in a nontraditional world and the juxtaposition is entertaining. As a 'tippy', an ordinary human, his job pits him against surveillance targets who have the ability to kill him without breaking a sweat. Bob uses a combination of his wits and some handy gadgets created by Ted (The Tinkerer) to do his job. However I was a little disappointed that Bob doesn't actually do a lot of investigating in this story, he hands out trackers and consults the Mind (a super computer) but solves the case by accident. In the Afterword, Andry explains that he could have stretched the book out by having Moore follow Doc Arts but regarded it as 'filler' where as I would regard it as crucial investigation. There are never any suspects or red herrings in play which are vital elements of a mystery. For me, the mystery fell flat because no-one else was invested in the outcome - no wrongly accused suspect, no one in imminent danger, no surviving victim needing closure - the victims were incidental. The story would have had more impact if the outcome threatened Bob personally, for example his ex-wife Gale or assistant Khan could have been at immediate risk if the mystery was not solved. Despite the flawed mystery, Bob Moore: No Hero is an entertaining novella - the characters are appealing and the general premise is engaging. Offered for free download , it lends itself to a series and Andry has announced plans to release a full length Bob Moore novel in August, which I'd certainly be interested in reading.
  • Northwoods Deep on Aug. 20, 2011

    I used to delight in scaring myself with tales of horror, I devoured Stephen King, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, James Herbert etc but at some point the real world became scary enough, without the disturbed imaginations of authors and I put the genre aside. When Joel Arnold approached me with a review request for Northwoods Deep however I was impressed by the excerpt and decided that perhaps it was time to rediscover my enjoyment of the genre. What I learnt is that you are never too old to need a night light. Arnold deftly weaves a tight plot that takes the worst of twisted human impulses and exaggerates them under the influence of a supernatural evil. Apprehension rises with each turn of the page as the story unfolds, the author skilfully manipulating events in a way that never feels contrived. I was totally engrossed in the story which is complimented by well developed characters. The imagery is strong and the standard of writing high. It's fair I think, to warn of some graphic and sexually explicit scenes that are appropriate for a horror novel but nevertheless can be uncomfortable to read. With inspiration drawn from a North American Indian tribal legend, Northwoods Deep is a chilling tale of human failings exploited by an ancient evil. A horror story that managed to both scare and ensnare me, Northwoods Deep is an impressive novel by a talented author.
  • Vampire General: Intern with the Vampire on Sep. 17, 2011

    I was really intrigued by the premise of Intern With the Vampire when I read it. As a urban fantasy fan who also enjoys medical drama/thrillers I thought the idea original with lots of potential and this brief novella is an excellent introduction to a new series. In fact really my only complaint is that at just 152 pages, Intern With the Vampire is too short. Iwasaki places her protagonist doctor in training, Aline Harman in a familiar setting with a paranormal twist. Dismissed from her residency Aline's options are limited so when Dr Rocque offers her a position at a private hospital she has never heard of, Aline is wiling to at least take a look. As she steps into the frantic ER of Grace General Aline discovers the hospital has a very select clientele and is both terrified and fascinated as she is introduced to a host of supernatural creatures she never imagined really existed. During her very long shift she treats a senile vampire, an injured mermaid and a zombie while dealing with a black widow surgeon that has taken an instant dislike to her and a doctor whose pheromones make her vulnerable to his deadly charms. The blend of the familiar hospital environment and the absurdity of it's patients and staff works surprisingly well. There is an authenticity to the structure of the ER and the treatments which I am sure comes from the the author's own experience in the medical field and the details really help sell the idea. From the start Aline lurches from crisis to crisis and she barely has time to reflect on her strange new environment. The fast pace of the storyline keeps the reader immersed in the action and the imagination engaged. I was fascinated by the characters who despite being supernatural have very individual traits. The author's characterisation is deft and clever and I love how she gently pokes fun at some of the stereotypical characters in a medical drama. The lead surgeon for example is gorgeous but also a vampire who could potentially suck her dry, it certainly creates an interesting workplace for Aline who has to pretend she is not human to keep her job. Intern With the Vampire is a well written, creative novella and I admit to being surprised at both the quality and the execution. The world of Grace General is imaginative and intriguing and I am looking forward to reading the next installment, Slash and Burnthough it is sadly already several months over due for publication. I really hope the sequel eventuates.
  • SHIFT (Shift Series #1) on Sep. 18, 2011

    While YA paranormal titles are dominated by werewolves, vampires, angels and witches, in Shift the protagonist, Leah has inherited the ability to change her physical appearance at whim. It's a fresh idea that offers something different in the genre. The detailed blurb summarises the storyline well. It's a well conceived plot and a solid introduction to the series, establishing the main characters and the rules of their world. The story is told from the point of view of seventeen year old Leah and most of the conflict in the story is emotional as Leah learns to accept her genetic heritage as a shape-shifter. Slower to accept her new circumstances than I would have liked, initially I was concerned that Leah's anxiety and confusion after discovering her ability would define her character. Thankfully the author fairly swiftly moved Leah past her denial and allowed her to explore her new skills. Leah naturally has to make some big adjustments as a shape-shifter and I liked how the author explored both the emotional and social implications Leah was confronted with. Leah finds herself thinking with an Us vs Them mentality which she has to try and reconcile with her desire for nothing to change. The new aspect of her identity also changes her relationship with her best friend which Leah struggles with even as she makes new friends in fellow shape-shifters Ferris and Drake. The romance that develops between Leah and Drake has a touch of soul mate magic but it works within the context of the story. It's quite sweet really however the relationship is a mature one, and while handled well by the author, it may not be appropriate for younger teens. The story really only hints at the threat of rogue shape-shifters. There is if not exactly a cliffhanger, then a somewhat abrupt, conclusion to Shift and I expect that particular arc will be more fully explored in the sequel. Shift is an entertaining paranormal series debut balanced with a coming of age story that older teens can identify with. Well written and original I was frankly surprised at how engaging I found it. If you enjoy young adult novels with a paranormal twist then Shift may be just what you are looking for.
  • The Jesus Fish and Slaughter Bird on Nov. 20, 2011

    Despite the abbreviated format, Casey manages to pack a lot of story into this amusing novella. It begins when a pair of 'New Yawk' mates, Rosco and Vesper (aka Leonardo), pick up two girls they tag the Jesus Fish and the Slaughter Bird in a Manhattan bar. in a series of short, sharp chapters we follow the four characters and their relationships over the next twenty years. Without any real idea what to expect I was quickly drawn into this well written, compact story. The Jesus Fish and Slaughter Bird is, perhaps surprisingly, a satirical romantic comedy but with it's own quirky style. For me, it wasn't the type of story you laugh out loud with but it's certain to raise a smile or two and for native New Yorkers it might resonate more strongly. I was impressed that the author was able to create such fully rounded characters that live complete lives within the novella's pages. The journey of the protagonists is both entirely ordinary and slightly absurd involving artistic aspirations, pool hustling, erotic dreams, the millennium bug and love. There are plenty of diversions but eventually Rosco gets his Jesus Fish, though the Slaughter Bird and Vesper don't fare quite so well. At just under 19,000 words (about 60 pages) The Jesus Fish and the Slaughter Bird is quick, unusual but very readable novella to enjoy.
  • A Memory Of Grief on Nov. 20, 2011

    A Memory of Grief features Zack Taylor, a man who has drifted through life in a haze of self recrimination and grief until his best friend, Ben, dies and Zack refuses to accept it was a suicide. Determined to find the truth, Zack travels to Maine and begins his own investigation into the circumstances of Ben’s death stepping clumsily on the toes of the local police force, a martial arts expert, a gang of bikies and a drug dealing operation. A hardboiled mystery with a noir-ish edge, there is plenty of action but Phillips also explores deeper themes like guilt and redemption and there is a touch of romance and even humour amongst the gritty realism of violence. The story gets off to a bit of a slow start, as Phillips establishes his characters and circumstances, but soon picks up the pace building suspense as Zack hunts for the truth. Zack is an interesting protagonist, his life has mostly been a morass of alcohol, violence and questionable associations. It is Ben’s tragic death that finally provides him with purpose and Zack attacks his investigation with the aggressiveness that has long been part of his life. Despite Zack’s rough edges he is a likeable guy who sincerely wants to do the right thing by his friend. I liked his persistence even though his choices were largely unwise and avidly cheered him on as he meted out punishment to the guilty. Memory of Grief is an exciting and strong series debut by Dale Phillips whose writing experience shows in his well crafted prose. I enjoyed being introduced to Zack and look forward to A Fall Of Grace due out in the next few weeks.
  • Stuck in Estrogen's Funhouse on Feb. 07, 2012

    In this lighthearted novel, Marti MacCale is being led astray by her out of control hormones. Marti loves her job tending bar, her husband, Spencer, and at twenty five is enjoying life. When she begins to feel nauseous, tired and moody, pregnancy tests prove negative and her doctor diagnoses her as going through a second puberty. With her hormones raging, Marti finds her life turned upside down, craving pans of lasagna, octopi pancakes and flirting dangerously with a cute college grad. With plenty of humor this contemporary story unfolds in Marti's distinctive first person voice. Gier has created a likeable protagonist, Marti is young, bright and fun. As her hormones start to go haywire it's easy to empathise with her symptoms - not unlike bad PMS or early pregnancy. Anyone who has experienced either, will relate to Marti's weird food cravings, inexplicable exhaustion and even her appreciation of Erik's flirtation. With her mood in constant flux, Erik is a temptation and despite her best intentions, Marti isn't sure she can resist. Her best friend, Crystal isn't much help, commitment is an anathema to her, though she is good for a laugh. She is a fun character and has her own small subplot. Luckily Spencer is completely in love with his wife and remarkably patient with Marti's foibles. He is a good guy and he definitely garners sympathy as he comes under sustained attack from Marti's odd behaviour. The plot of Stuck in Estrogen's Funhouse is uncomplicated, making for a quick and easy read. There are a few errors in the text and some of the sentence structure makes for awkward reading but a little professional polish could easily overcome those issues. I really like Gier's first person writing voice which is distinctive and appealing. Funny and entertaining, Stuck in Estrogen's Funhouse is sure to provide a giggle or two.
  • Misconception on March 03, 2012

    When Pace complained of feeling ill she was not expecting a blood test to show she was pregnant, especially when her husband had a vasectomy three years before. While Pace is convinced it is all a mistake, Jason's faith in his wife is shattered, especially when she lies about the doctor's report. In short order, their happy marriage begins to disintegrate into a morass of suspicion and resentment. While Pace and Jason don't believe their relationship can survive without trust, Pace's mother is trying to ignore yet another of her husband's infidelities. Victoria has long ago lost trust in her husband but clung to the marriage for the security it offered her. His latest fling though is a 20 year old intern, the daughter of a friend, and when Colin's secret becomes public, Tori is finally forced to make a choice, but can she trust herself? Misconception is an emotional domestic drama exploring the issues of trust, communication and fidelity in a marriage. Hayes contrasts the relationship between Pace and Jason with that of Pace's parents, examining the issues the couples face and the differences in how they choose to deal with them. Pace and Jason are characters that are easy to relate to, married for a few years they are happy but under pressure with children and work and the intimacy of their relationship is a casualty. Realistically, I think Jason's reaction to Pace's unexpected pregnancy is understandable, even in the most ideal of marital circumstances and Hayes captures the doubts, fears and resentments caused by the situation perfectly. The relationship between Victoria and Colin also has the ring of truth and I thought Hayes demonstrated Tori's conflict about the state of her marriage credibly. There is no mention of this plot in the blurb which is a bit odd since it does have quite a lot of significance. While the two plots intersect nicely, I think they could have perhaps been meshed a little more. The writing is solid and Hayes demonstrates a good grasp of realistic dialogue. There were a few minor errors in the text but they are barely worth mentioning. The pace is good and I found it an easy and fairly quick read. I must mention that the title is an inspired choice with it's dual reference. Overall, Misconception was a pleasant read with an interesting scenario that had me considering what my reaction would be in similar circumstances. Commitment is just a concept until it is truly tested.
  • Misconception on March 03, 2012

    When Pace complained of feeling ill she was not expecting a blood test to show she was pregnant, especially when her husband had a vasectomy three years before. While Pace is convinced it is all a mistake, Jason's faith in his wife is shattered, especially when she lies about the doctor's report. In short order, their happy marriage begins to disintegrate into a morass of suspicion and resentment. While Pace and Jason don't believe their relationship can survive without trust, Pace's mother is trying to ignore yet another of her husband's infidelities. Victoria has long ago lost trust in her husband but clung to the marriage for the security it offered her. His latest fling though is a 20 year old intern, the daughter of a friend, and when Colin's secret becomes public, Tori is finally forced to make a choice, but can she trust herself? Misconception is an emotional domestic drama exploring the issues of trust, communication and fidelity in a marriage. Hayes contrasts the relationship between Pace and Jason with that of Pace's parents, examining the issues the couples face and the differences in how they choose to deal with them. Pace and Jason are characters that are easy to relate to, married for a few years they are happy but under pressure with children and work and the intimacy of their relationship is a casualty. Realistically, I think Jason's reaction to Pace's unexpected pregnancy is understandable, even in the most ideal of marital circumstances and Hayes captures the doubts, fears and resentments caused by the situation perfectly. The relationship between Victoria and Colin also has the ring of truth and I thought Hayes demonstrated Tori's conflict about the state of her marriage credibly. There is no mention of this plot in the blurb which is a bit odd since it does have quite a lot of significance. While the two plots intersect nicely, I think they could have perhaps been meshed a little more. The writing is solid and Hayes demonstrates a good grasp of realistic dialogue. There were a few minor errors in the text but they are barely worth mentioning. The pace is good and I found it an easy and fairly quick read. I must mention that the title is an inspired choice with it's dual reference. Overall, Misconception was a pleasant read with an interesting scenario that had me considering what my reaction would be in similar circumstances. Commitment is just a concept until it is truly tested.
  • Ones a poner time on March 17, 2012

    I first discovered Ilsa Evans books when I picked up a copy of Spin cycle at the library. I enjoyed the book so much on my next visit I searched for more of her titles and was delighted to discover Spin Cycle was the first in her lighthearted short series which also included Drip Dry and Odd Socks and found two other books as well (Each Way Bet; Flying The Coop: A Free Range Tree Change or Has She Made the Worst Mistake of Her Life, all of which I read in a week. It was a some time later I believe before I stumbled across Broken) which was a marked departure from her previous novels, dealing with domestic violence, followed by The Family Tree and Sticks and Stones with similarly serious themes examining family tragedy. 'ones a poner time' gives some context to the seemingly radical shift in focus for Ilsa's fiction. A melange of humour, tragedy, joy and sorrow, Evans reveals her phobia of hair ribbons, the nightmare of an abusive marriage, her grief at the loss of much loved family members and and her pride in raising three lovely children on her own. The book is divided into titled chapters providing a glimpse into Ilsa's life. Some of the vignettes had me laughing in recognition and sympathy such as when Ilsa was caught truanting by her mother, cowering on the floor of the bus, defrosting a guinea pig who miraculously survived a flooded pen and the trials (offset by the joys) of motherhood. I can see how these types of events were the genesis for Evan's lighthearted family fiction. Evans is very candid about the more difficult parts of her life including her father's tragic illness, an abortion and miscarriage, a chilling childhood abduction attempt, and most notably her experience of domestic violence. It seems to me that her later published work, is a way of processing the emotions and memories of these events, perhaps buoyed by the confidence gained in her earlier publishing success. Evans is quite matter of fact about the tragedy she has experienced, sharing it not to garner sympathy but to acknowledge that she has moved past these seminal events to become a stronger woman. A collection of 'memories and musings' this self published title tells the story of Ilsa's past, and how it has shaped her present as a woman, a mother and an author. Well written and very readable, I found 'ones a poner time' entertaining and interesting and recommend it, especially to fans of this talented writer.