Review: A Private Affair

Note to the reader: this book isn’t about a holiday on the beach like the cover suggests. At all.

If you’ve picked up this book (like I did) with the guise that it’s about a bunch of girls who meet on a tropical holiday resort and talk about boys and get into all sorts of drunken shenanigans… you would be wrong. In fact, the cover could not be any more misleading.

A Private Affair by Lesley Lokko is actually a story that follows four very different women with one very big similarity: they have been army wives or girlfriends at one point in their life. Samantha Maitland, a no-nonsense business woman who grew from ugly duckling to beautiful swan meets a mysterious army man on her holiday; Meaghan Astor runs away from her abusive home and finds solace in the handsome Australian army man Tom; Abby Barclay who grew up in an army home, is now the perfect army wife; and Dani Kingsley-Safo, the young and stunning Sierra Leonean with a dark past regarding a mysterious army man.

Misleading, right?

Misleading, right?

I’ll start by saying that I’ve heard some pleasant things about Lokko and her writing so I was expecting pretty good things by this book, especially because it is a very thick read. However, I was pretty let down and I was pretty disappointed by this book in general.

Besides the fact the cover is misleading, I just thought some of the scenes in the book very irrelevant to the overall storyline of the novel. The flashbacks for all four characters were to set their story and describe the type of person that they are, and most of it did that, sure. But some of the scenes were just pointless and some stories were told for no ultimate reason.

Regarding the characters, the only character I really connected with was Meaghan and that was because she’s Australian. The closest character I even remotely felt something for was Nick Beasdale. I didn’t feel a single spark with any other main character and thought they were bland. Dani was annoying and I genuinely resented reading her parts of the story; Samantha was a pain in the arse and fell for a guy straight away because he looked at her; and Abby was a selfish mutt. I would like to say why, but it’ll spoil the story. But that’s just my opinion.e

This book was really hard to get into and it took me well over three months to finally put the book down and declare it finished. Granted, there were some saving graces about the book (Meaghan and Tom’s cute relationship anyone?) but I thought the novel overall was rather uninteresting. I will say that it did shed some interesting light on a topic I had no prior knowledge on but wish I did: being an army wife. I never imagined it’d be as difficult or as lonely as this book had described and sympathised with Meaghan and Abby as they would go days or sometimes months without seeing their better half. It also gave a brief insight onto what it’s like in the army, and that to me was pretty great.

Storyline: 5/10
Style of writing: 5.2/10
Overall: 5.1/10

The misleading cover may have put this result to bed but the disappointing storyline put the nail on the coffin. Being my first Lokko book, it is sad to admit that this is my first impression of her. But, alas, like a good reader, I won’t let that stray me away from reading her other stuff.

– by Noah La’ulu

Review: Temptation

This just in: Alexis Summers is a dumb bitch. Hold on, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The latest novel to be reviewed by The Black Widow is an adult romance novel entitled Temptation by K.M. Golland, which is the first in a series. The premier novel in this series introduces the heroine named Alexis Summers, who is a married woman in her mid 30s with two kids. Sounds peachy, right? Well…

"If you love two people at the same time, choose the second. Because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn't have fallen for the second.” - Johnny Depp

“If you love two people at the same time, choose the second. Because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn’t have fallen for the second.” – Johnny Depp

After nine years of being a stay-at-home mum, she’s happy to get back into the workforce as a hotel concierge in Melbourne, working for the typically drop dead gorgeous male protagonist, Bryce Clark. Sparks fly and Alexis is challenged: should she give into temptation – pun intended – or stick with her loving husband Rick?

Now, where was I? Oh right. Alexis is a dumb bitch.

I found the character of Alexis completely repugnant and I did not at any time throughout this novel ever sympathise with her whatsoever. She was hypocritical, annoying (almost as annoying as Ana from Fifty Shades, and that’s saying something) and just hella inappropriate. And she fell way too easily for Bryce. She literally sets eyes on him and is all like “OMG I LOVE YOU GET IN ME”. Girl bye.

On the other hand, however, I will say that I didn’t mind Bryce. After you’ve read as many raunchy adult novels as I have, the “attractive, wealthy and witty” male protagonist effect kind of wears off, but I still found Bryce quite likeable. There’s something about a man that knows what he wants kind of attractive, even if it is someone else’s wife. Hey, I’m not here to judge. Even though Alexis is a dumb bitch. Golland certainly wrote her characters pretty well.

In saying that, however, there were some scenes throughout the novel that I found really unnecessary. Some parts of the story weren’t actually germaine to the story, and that to me was a bit of a turn off. I will say that Golland did plant the seeds of a very interesting series and I will definitely be getting into the next crop once my skyscraper high pile of “books waiting to be read” dies down a bit. The language she used was very easy to read and it made for one of those books that you could read at the beach, in a bus or in the comfort of your own bed. I think I read the second half of the novel in one go and refused to put it down.

Style of writing: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

If you’re looking to have your fancy tickled after having it chained and whipped by Fifty Shades, then I suggest you pick up this novel and the rest of the series. I’m sure it’ll tide you over for when the Fifty Shades film comes out on Valentine’s Day… or Anti-Valentine’s Day, if you’re like me.

– by Noah La’ulu

Review: Dorothy Must Die

I must give a warning: if you have a lovely, positive picture of Dorothy from the land of Oz in your head, I suggest you look away now. And don’t read this book.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige takes a whole new approach on the land of Oz – one that isn’t seen in the likes of The Wizard of Oz or the broadway musical Wicked – and tells the tale of ordinary Kansas girl Amy Gumm who, after sitting idly in her trailer, is blown away to the land of Oz.

Sounds familiar, don’t it?

Romeo, Dorothy... same thing.

Romeo, Dorothy… same thing.

The land of Oz that we know it isn’t exactly the same; for starters, the good guys are the bad guys and the bad guys are kinda good but not entirely heroic. Confused? Well, for example, Dorothy isn’t a cute braided little girl with a modest gingham dress and a dough-eyed look anymore; she’s, well, an evil witch to be blunt. And a bit of a ganga, if her description suggests so.

The fact that Paige explores this part of the story – “the other side of Oz” I guess you could say – is the first thing that drew me to this story, and boy did it live up to my expectations. This was one of those “I can hardly put you down” books and I kept reading on and on into the night. I believe I finished this novel in about two or three days and when I finally put it down, declaring it finished, it was well into the morning. The twists and turns – and the “oh no you didn’t” moments – surely made for a delightful story.

This novel was easy to follow and the descriptions that Paige used painted a pretty clear picture in my head. I could easily imagine Glenda waving her wand around, a sickly up-turned smile on her face courtesy of “perm-a-smile”, and I could see the evil-turned-good flying monkeys as if I had seen one casually in the past few days.

Paige’s own take on the characters from Amy’s perspective were interesting to say the least, and it was rather exciting to see how Dorothy’s three companions – the scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion – turned out. There were a few characters introduced into the story that I wasn’t previously aware of so I’d be lying if I said I were interested in them; I was more curious to see how the characters I knew as a child turned out.

A part of the storyline I thought was a bit how ya goin’ was that Amy, an ordinary girl from Kansas, was all of a sudden trained into being this warrior trained with magic and other swordfighting. I know she was “the chosen one” and all of that, I just find it a bit difficult to grasp that fact. A transformation that quick and that random? Hmmm.

Storyline: 8.2/10
Style of writing: 8/10
Overall: 8.1/10

This book wasn’t a let down from my expectations and I’m glad I “accidentally stumbled” into the book store and then “accidentally wandered around to look at a few books on the shelves”. I can’t wait to “accidentally buy the next installment of the series” to see what happens next in the land of Oz.

Amy vs. Dorothy. Round two. It’s on.

– by Noah La’ulu

Review: Beautiful Oblivion

Bear with me, as I actually read this novel over a month ago during SolSat’s absence.

Jamie McGuire is back (and not soon enough, if you’re as thirsty as me when it comes to the Maddox boys) and she’s come with the love story of another Maddox boy and his girl. Because, if you’ve followed the series closely, you know that when a Maddox boy falls, he falls hard.

It's that good, I get teary just looking at this cover.

It’s that good, I get teary just looking at this cover.

Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire thrusts the reader into the perspective of Camille “Cami” Camlin, a bartender at the infamous Red Door club. Interesting note: Cami made brief appearances in the other Disaster books. She’s in a steady relationship with a man named TJ, and her love life is on the rocks when Travis’ older brother Trenton begins to court her, regardless of her long-distance relationship and constant declining of his advances. Can the troubled Cami tame this Maddox boy, and can Trenton win the girl of his dreams?

Okay. I’m going to say it. Jamie McGuire can do, like, no wrong in my eyes. Beautiful Oblivion had me hooked from cover to cover, and I’m not just saying that. I remember drinking a lot of energy drinks one day, and I was consuming one in the middle of my pole dancing class, and my instructor asks me “Are you going somewhere after?” to which I replied with “No, I just want to finish this book before I go to sleep tonight.” True story. Like most (if not all) romance novels, the destination is always easily predictable and “the same”, but you don’t read a romance novel for the destination: you read it for the travel, and boy, was this travel ever exciting! The interactions between Cami and Trenton were always amusing and entertaining to read, and it was just the cherry on top of an already perfect highly-stacked cake.

It must be a Maddox thing, but I found Trenton to be incredibly interesting as a character: he was charming, witty, funny, and all of the above, but he had that Maddox fault about him where he was desperate and troubled and tortured to an extent, and those imperfections are what make him and Travis so real. McGuire has done an excellent job in making these really outstanding men seem real and almost attainable. I found Cami to be more bearable than Abby – another book heroine who suffers from “my first name and my surname sound the same”-itis – and thought she was interesting to say the least. Her juggling of Trent and TJ did piss me off, however. It was made better by the fact that she is fiercely loyal to her family, even if they don’t deserve it.

McGuire writes Beautiful Oblivion with the same easily read vibe that made her other Disaster books so damn great. She writes with this hidden flavour of “OMG I need to know more now” and that’s what really makes an author great IMSAHO.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on that swerve on the end. I can’t even handle it.

Storyline: 8.5/10
Style of writing: 8/10

For anyone who’s read the Disaster books, or even if you haven’t, Beautiful Oblivion is definitely a book I can see myself reading again, and again, and again. Another top read by McGuire with only more to come hopefully.

– by Noah La’ulu