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.

Solst-o-meter
Storyline: 8.5/10
Style of writing: 8/10
Overall: 
8.25/10

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

Kindle… Schmindle

I don’t trust you Kindle users. I’ve seen you around and to be honest, I look at you askance. Askance, and with something akin to pity in my eyes. Or maybe it’s just thinly veiled contempt.

Books come in all shapes and sizes, they have nice covers, you can flick through them and even write in them. Unless it’s a library book… you can’t write in a library book. Book rhymes with “nook” and “cook” and “rook” unless you happen to hail from Yorkshire in which case it rhymes with gobbledygook.

Kindle… dwindle… swindle… schmindle.

The word Kindle, meaning “to set light to” or “to set on fire” seems an ominous sort of  name. Are they suggesting some metaphorical book burning is in order to clear the way for their electronic witchcraft? I remember another chap who didn’t like books and in fact used them as kindling for other books and by all accounts he couldn’t write worth a shit either.

There are books out there I have searched for years to find and to no avail. I’ve trawled through bookstores and op-shops with the vain hope that I might find a second-hand copy of some Kurt Vonnegut title or other. And when I found it, away I would steal, like Roald Dahl’s BFG off to the Land of Dreams… Surely you’ve seen the Quentin Blake illustration of the famous giant? Ah, you read it on a Kindle. Tough titties.

'You is never doing anything unless you tries' BFG (SOURCE: Global Panorama's Flickr photostream)

‘You is never doing anything unless you tries’ BFG (SOURCE: Global Panorama’s Flickr photostream)

When I arrive home with my brown paper bag crinkling against my tweed weskit I slide my papyrus trophy to nestle against her fellow brothers and sisters of the printing press. And there may she wait in silent, bookish contemplation until finally reanimated by human curiosity.

“Do you accept Kindle’s terms and conditions before you continue?’

“Nay, damn you I accept neither. Nor your right to demand any such acceptance, you swine.”

You may laugh at me moving house, weeping with the effort of dragging box after box of words. Me, forcing the unyielding bastards into the back of the car, whilst you charge your Kindle with the cigarette-lighter in the front. Your laughter will turn to bitterest tears when your flimsy Kindle is trapped between a box of my literary heavy weights and a George Foreman grill (he’s so proud of it he put his name on it).

Have you even considered the humble librarian? Proud literary custodians since days of yore. Where’s your sense of mystery, your sense of occasion? Where’s your sense of common human decency? Have you even considered the librarian at all? For shame…

The librarian is a bibliophile first and foremost. They care for all the books from Douglas Adams to Markus Zusak (who wrote The Book Thief not “The Kindle Swindler”). They care for them all without passion or prejudice whether it be Jane Eyre or Edward Cullen, Harry Potter or Beatrix Potter, Dorian Grey or Christian Grey. The librarian abides. However I like to think that when the stoic chronicler is confronted with the image of you squinting at Dan Brown on that spineless auto-cue you call an “e-book”, they shed a single tear. What was it J.M Barrie said? “Every time a child reads a Kindle there is a little librarian somewhere that falls down dead.” Something along those lines anyway.

Before you try to get smart with me, I wrote this on a type-writer before sending it by pigeon to an alchemist who transformed it into this format. You may well call me a Luddite and  I very well may be but were I alive in the days of Neil Ludd I’d be on the side of the workers and you’d be a “Fat Cat” trampling us and starving our families in the name of profit and progress. You’d probably have gout.

Bloody kindles…

– by James Andrews

Review: Red Hill

As if surviving a zombiepocalypse wasn’t enough, I have another zombie related post for you!

Jamie McGuire, who is probably most well known for the Beautiful Disaster series, decided one day to venture out of her comfort zone and write a zombie apocalypse novel with several different concepts featured in it. The result? Red Hill. Will this measure up to the perfection that is Travis Maddox and his ungrateful lover?

photo 2 (1)

Instead of “Red Hill”, it should be called “Red Hill with kinda green grass”.

Red Hill is a post-apocalyptic novel which follows the lives of three characters: Scarlet, Nathan and Miranda. Scarlet is a divorced mother of two who dedicates her life to her children and her work. Nathan is an unhappily married man who soldiers on through his marriage and his unfulfilling job for his daughter. Miranda is a college student with a lanky boyfriend and some serious daddy issues. The three characters events and journeys to the deftly named hill are detailed in this novel along with how they survive and… romance! OMG! I didn’t know there was such thing in a zombiepocalypse!

I could not put this book down. Seriously. I think I finished it within 24 hours of purchasing it because I loved it that much. Maybe it’s because I’ve never read a zombiepocalypse novel before and this is my first time so I had no expectations – or Jamie McGuire is just that darn brilliant – but I actually loved Red Hill. The story was so captivating and the mix of survival, mateship and romance blended in together in this novel was pretty phenom.

The one negative that I would have to attach to this novel are the characters. I found it difficult to really connect to some of the characters (with Nathan and Miranda, to an extent being the exceptions). I found Scarlet to be somewhat unrealistic as she went from a panicky single mother who works as an X-ray technician to this total survivalist badass babe who rivalled Oliver Queen when it came to long-distance aiming. She was also really annoying. I thought Nathan’s character was definitely relatable and his dedication to his daughter would’ve made me cry if I had a heart. Miranda was a hit or miss. I liked her and kind of related to her with what she was going through (spoilers!) but at the same time, I don’t understand the purpose of going in her perspective. If I read the book solely from Scarlet and Nathan’s perspectives, the story would’ve been the exact same and I wouldn’t have missed out on anything.

Let it be known that my favourite character was Joey. ♥

McGuire wrote this true to her own writing style and it made it very easy. The descriptions used in the novel were easy to follow and the language used was easy to understand so the novel was open to the casual reader and also the extreme novelist.  If there was one thing to criticise about the writing – or the storyline, not really sure where to fit this – was Scarlet and Nathan’s interactions with each other. So not to spoil it for anyone, I found it to be unrealistic and a bit how ya goin’.

Solst-o-meter
Storyline: 8.5/10
Style of writing: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Overall, I highly recommend the purchasing of this book as it appeals to the romance reader but also to the extreme action reader. And to those who are just as obsessed with zombiepocalypses like I am. Not that I ever want it to happen.

– by Noah La’ulu

Review: Forbidden Sister

With a title like this and a book cover like that, I was expecting big things from this novel. I had heard of Virginia Andrews’ novel legacy but had never read any of her stuff so I was keen to dig in.

Forbidden Sister by Virginia Andrews follows the life of Emmie Wilcox, a young impressionable teenager who was pretty much raised as an only child after her stern military-esque father kicked out her older, rebellious sister Roxy. Emmie’s interest in her sister piques when she finds out that she is a high class escort who lives in the same city. Watch out Emmie… curiosity killed the cat…

Look at that seductive book cover...

Look at that seductive book cover…

I was satisfied with the book. It was very well written and the character of Emmie was semi easy to relate to.

But…

There were an awfully large amount of rhetorical questions posed in this book. I get that a few here and there can be very effective in conveying a message across, but there just seemed to be way too many rhetorical questions used on almost every page of the novel. The language Andrews used was very strong and sophisticated and it gave me as a reader a good sense of what to feel and what was going on. Other than the over-usage of rhetorical questions, I quite liked Andrews’ style of writing and would pick up another book of hers based on the name.

The storyline in Forbidden Sister confused me. I personally didn’t understand the main point of the book; it just seemed as if things would just constantly happen to Emmie but none of those things or “events” particularly stood out as the main point of the book. Don’t even get me started on the epilogue which didn’t give me closure at all. In fact, it left me hanging for more and left me with even more questions than before. I get that one of the main points of the book was Emmie finding her sister and re-establishing that sibling bond but I felt as if that point of the story was nearly overshadowed by other events in the book.

Emmie as a character was truly original when it comes to novels of the same genre and that made me like her; while I don’t know what it’s like to grow up with a military-esque father (or maybe I do, depending on how you look at it) I felt as if I could truly empathise with her need to succeed and achieve to please her parents. Being 15 was a good six years ago for me so going back to my young teenager years, I understood what was going through her head and why. Roxy, however, was the more intriguing character in my sweet and humble opinion; having watched Secret Diary of a Call Girl, I had a fair idea of what escorts personalities were like and what they did and how they would react to certain situations… or at least how Billie Piper would. The aura of mystery Roxy carried, coupled with her no-nonsense attitude, made her the star of the book.

Solst-o-meter
Storyline:
6.5/10
Style of writing:
7/10
Overall:
7/10

Overall, I found Forbidden Sister to be a good read. It didn’t really let me down (besides the epilogue but that’s a different story) but in saying that, it didn’t wow me. It was just a good read. I really hope that is not the end of Emmie and Roxy’s story… or stories.

– by Noah La’ulu