Friday, December 16, 2011

What I'm loving this Thursday....

"To Kill A Mockingbird" - it's the third time I'm reading it, and the story's magic still manages to catch in my throat.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Not a thriller, not chick lit, yes a good read

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson is one of those novels that agents find it difficult to pitch. Too slow-paced for a psychological thriller, too simple to be called literary, not a romance, kind of a non-murder mystery.

I liked it a lot, and the second half I read in almost one sitting, though I do confess that I almost gave up about a third of the way in because of the thoroughly dreary atmosphere.


Thursday, December 01, 2011

There is something about the Old South....

Having absolutely loved "The Help", I turned to "The Secret Life Of Bees". It was a slow, uncomfortable read at the beginning: I couldn't connect to the heroine, and I positively abhorred her father and the things that happened to her in the past.

What kept me reading was the beauty of the writing style and the clever parallels between the lives of bees and the story line. A few paragraphs were so poetic, I'd like to have the book on my shelf just for the pleasure of leafing through it from time to time.

I'm re-reading "To Kill A Mockingbird" now.....

Friday, November 25, 2011

BONES versus DEXTER

Yes, another TV post. I used to feel guilty and self-derogatory about watching TV... until this morning. This morning, I read the advice of a Harlequin author, who said every writer should get immersed in stories, be they books or TV (see the article here). So immediately I stopped dealing with my email and watched the next episode of Bones.

Sometimes I wonder what a squeamish person like me is doing with TV series such as Bones and Dexter. Gruesome is the only way to describe them, and I would seriously prefer them to clean up that aspect of their show identity. And yet I keep on watching.

Why? In Bones, I love the heroine and her co-workers. Sadly, the hero does nothing for me looks-wise, although I love the sexual banter and tension between them (mind you, I'm only on season 1, and I'm told this may change). The episode-long puzzles are so-so, the long-term puzzle (what happened to her parents) is probably what keeps me watching.

Given the choice, though, I'd still vote for Dexter (to see what I think about this show, have a look here).

Friday, November 18, 2011

That Guernsey Pie

I'd heard of the book before and I remembered it. Who wouldn't, with a title that's too long to fit on the spine? Ok, if truth be told, I forgot the title several times, though I did recognise it whenever somebody mentioned it. Oh, yeah, the Potato Peel Pie book. Any good? No thank you, not for me. It's about the war, right? I don't do war.

I indeed don't do war, having been brought up on movies, TV series, radio programs and readers about WW2. I get it why we shouldn't forget, but honestly, is concentration camp material suitable viewing for a 6-year old?

Eventually, sick of my fast-food genre reads, I did give "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" a try. Glad I did. Easy to swallow and digest, and it lingers long in the memory.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Autographing books on Kindle

As weird as science fiction, but true. I can now autograph your e-book with a personalised message. Simply go to Kindlegraph and look for Yvonne Walus books, then request an autograph. Or click here directly. How easy is that?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Left Handed

I'm typing this left-handed: can you tell from the wobbly letter formation? ;-)))

Following a minor injury (fighting a stray tomcat), I'm prohibited from using my right hand for a few days. Mousing left-handed is a breeze and typing not too bad. Placing a signature, putting away a heavy box, opening the bottle of antibiotics - almost impossible. Stacking the dishwasher is all right, cutting vegetables for dinner - no go.

All my male friends listen to my tale of watching TV all day while the hubby does the chores and they steer their wives away from me. All my female friends want to borrow the stray cat....


Friday, October 28, 2011

Imperial Russian Ballet

Ballet is a tricky art form: done adequately or even done well is simply not good enough. It has to be exquisite, seemingly effortless, with every movement like liquid silk and every step a freefall glide... or something to that effect.

The Imperial Russian Ballet company achieved just that when performing their festival in Auckland last Wednesday. Exquisite. Effortless. Liquid silk. All that.

There was sheer beauty (Don Quixote), laughter (Can-Can), thunder and lightning (Bolero). A must see.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Twice and a 1/2 Upon A Time

Yvonne Walus is proud to present "Twice and a 1/2 Upon A Time", published by Pipers Ash (UK). Now on Kindle!


Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Help

Last week I finished THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett (published by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam). In a word: brilliant.


Before I started reading, I worried it would be too political, too moralistic, too sweet, too upsetting, too patronising to the reader. Nothing of the sort. The voices are realistic, the characters worthy of knowing, the message poignant without resorting to saccharine or gall.


Now, the only problem is, the experience has spoilt me for other books. I don't feel like chick lit, or a murder mystery, or a thriller. I just want to read THE HELP all over again.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Yvonne Walus is Reading Today

I often read multiple books. The one that's foremost in my mind is "The Help" (the book, not the movie) by Kathryn Stockett. Brilliant.



I'm also browsing through The Overscheduled Child and listening to Nick Hornby's About A Boy.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What I'm Reading At The Moment

"Think Before You Swallow - The Art of Staying Healthy in a Health-Obsessed World", by Noel O'Hare.

So far, what I got out of it is: we have to slow down. Take more time to savour food, enjoy our families, do what we're passionate about.

Oh, and the best news for a couch potato like me: even though regular exercise lets you live longer, it only increases your life span by 2 years. Now I still have to do my maths, but it seems to me exercising regularly throughout your lifetime adds up to more than 2 wasted years....


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Room


It's simple, it's complex.
It's heart-wrenching, it's uplifting.
It's beautiful.

It makes you see the world differently.
It made me want to be a better mother.
It made me want to be a better writer.








Thursday, September 01, 2011

A Convert to Medical Thrillers

When I met Tess Gerritsen at the RWNZ conference last month, I fell in love with her author persona on the spot. When she speaks, she fills the room with tranquil energy (that's not an oxymoron), humour and a desire to read her books.

Tess is an internationally bestselling author of medical thrillers and the creator of two popular characters: cop Jane Rizzoli and forensic pathologist Maura Isles. Now, before I met Tess, I had never read a medical thriller, nor had I any desire to do so. Even knowing I'd be meeting her at the conference did not entice me to page through her books, put off by a blurb that described a Ripper copycat.

Post conference, I burrowed into the book she signed for me, THE KILLING PLACE, and I have since ordered everything she's written. While parts of her stories definitely have the eeeeew factor (see footnote), her writing style is both compassionate and entertaining, her plot lines intelligent and her characters captivating.

It's always a thrill to discover a new author. If you haven't read Tess Gerritsen yet, give her a try.



(Footnote: Not as eeeew as Lee Child, whose books I also adore.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Literary Critics - Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid?

The theme of today's post is "demystifying the scary book reviewer". Many novelists are petrified of those who can make or break our book on the pages of literary magazines. I'm no exception.

And so it may come as a surprise to you to see with us in the virtual studio today, an acclaimed literary critic, Nicholas Reid.

Q: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Nicholas. You read for a living. How did you land such a prestigious and pleasurable job?

It’s certainly true that I spend much of my life reading, but it’s not quite true to say that I read for a living. In the last ten years, I have written and had published five substantial books including biography (James Michael Liston – a Life, Victoria University Press 2006) and institutional history (The University of Auckland – The First 125 Years, Auckland University Press 2008), as well as writing the poems that make up my first, and forthcoming, collection ( The Little Enemy, Steele-Roberts 2011). I have also had one stint as a Research Fellow at a New Zealand university, and three stints as a short-term contracted lecturer in History at three other New Zealand universities (so I’ve done teaching time at Vic in Wellington, and at Otago, Auckland and Waikato.)

So much of the reading I do is for historical research and in order to prepare lectures and write articles.

Having said that, I also do an immense amount of reading for pleasure and I certainly do enjoy getting as much book-reviewing work as I can.

I do not wish to disillusion anybody, but I have to point out that there’s not a great deal that is “prestigious” about book-reviewing. I think most reviewers like me get what work they can; but (unless one is a books pages editor for some publication), it is not really possible to make a living in New Zealand as a book-reviewer. The work is freelance and while what I or any other reviewer is paid is generally reasonable, it certainly isn’t enough to live on. To the best of my knowledge, everybody in New Zealand who does book-reviewing does it as well as a day job. (Apart from a few who might have a wealthy spouse of partner to support them.)

As for ‘landing’ the reviewing job, I suppose it was simply a matter of asking editors if they would take me on to their roster of reviewers and then showing that I could write a competent review. It really is one of those jobs where you get work only by daring to make the personal contact. Nobody ever advertises for books reviewers. However, I already did have a reasonable media profile before I took to book-reviewing, because for quite a few years I had been a film reviewer, and had written the first book-length study of the revived New Zealand cinema (A Decade of New Zealand Film, John Mcindoe publisher 1985). So I already had contacts in the media and publishing world.


Q: << Swallowing disillusionment>> Who are your favourite contemporary authors?

Oh dear! One of those questions that I always hope nobody will ask me. I am constantly reading new works of fiction and non-fiction, but I am also a frequent reader of older and even “classic” works. If you were to ask me my favourite novelists of all time, I would easily make up a long list that included Balzac, Conrad, Cervantes, Nadine Gordimer, Dickens, Zola, George Eliot and so on and so on through many illustrious names. But when you ask me about contemporary authors I freeze up, because committing yourself to one always seems to pigeon-hole you. Let me say that I admire the wit of David Lodge, and I think that Philip Hensher writes prose as good as any in English at the present day. (In a review I warmly recommended Hensher’s King of the Badgers this year, but I did warn that it had explicit sexual content.) I am impressed by China Mieville’s weird fantasies, which have a real adult intelligence running them (unlike most books that are listed as “fantasy”). Among New Zealand writers, I like the close, humane observation of Owen Marshall, the tart, acerbic irony of Charlotte Grimshaw, the bold experiments in narration of Charlotte Randall, and a number of up-and-coming younger writers who have shown they can write about the past without patronizing it. But I won’t say any more or I’ll hang myself on my own recommendations.


Q: I'll look out for China Mieville’s work, "weird" is enough of a recommendation for me. Many people's view of today's literature is that it's dreary and depressing. The language may be beautiful, but we don't want to read about war atrocities, rape or SIDS. What is your personal take on the topic?

I am never depressed by a well-written book, even if it is on atrocities, rape etc. If it is well-written and thoughtful, then I am heartened to know that there are other people in the world perceptive and articulate enough to consider these matters without sensationalism. I am depressed only by sensational trash and by genre-writing that shows neither originality nor flair. (Nothing wrong with a good thriller or police procedural or fantasy or love story – but most of the ones that are published look as if the were written by computer programme).

It may be possible that current novels are somewhat split between high-end ‘literary novels’ that repel a broad readership; and lower-ed genre and airport lounge stuff, which is fairly unreadable if you respect your own intelligence. If some readers are discontented with the modern scene it may be because, on the whole, we no longer have those long, capacious novels that had both high literary AND broad mass appeal. (I’m thinking of Dickens, of course.) But then maybe such novels were always the minority.


Q: Never depressed by a well-written book? That's a challenge for me, having been depressed by a number of award-winning novels. To change the subject a fraction, what do book critics do when not reviewing? Tell us about Nicholas Reid, the writer.

My wife and I are fully aware that we are demographic freaks for our generation. We have eight children, the three youngest of whom still live at home with us. Also, although we are both still in our ‘50s, we already have ten grandchildren. We are both active parents and grandparents. So as you may imagine, much of my life is taken up with family (which also includes one pet cat and one pet rabbit. I seem to be the only one who feeds them!).

Family matters are the main things I do when not book-reviewing. However – as well as the commissioned writing and teaching that I’ve already mentioned - I also have a number of hobbies that are important to me. My wife is a music teacher, all our children have received or are receiving a musical education. I myself cannot read music and have never played an instrument. But I love many varieties of music, especially jazz, what is loosely called ‘classical’ music, and opera. On Sunday afternoon you will usually find me glued to Concert FM listening to the weekly opera broadcast, and as often as I can I write programme notes for Opera New Zealand productions.

I also aspire to be a poet, and have twice guest-edited the magazine Poetry New Zealand, as well as getting a least some of my own poems published, including the forthcoming volume. I like being part of that culture, but have been part of public readings only a few times.

Then there are walks on the beach, walks around the block, idling, socializing, and lobbying or whatever commissioned work I can get. It’s a full life. Reviewing is part of it.

I also take pleasure in producing my blog, on top of all the reviewing I do. Check it out at http://reidsreader.blogspot.com/.

(From the interviewer: Do check it out. A few posts down you'll see a fascinating discussion on the etymology of the word "utopia".)





Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Too Gutted To Speak Myself

This guest post is by Jane Beckenham:

It is my great sadness to advise our writers (particularly those in
Auckland) who would have known her, that Norah Hansen-Hil, has passed away.
Norah has suffered an illness for many years and has fought an extremely
brave battle with courage and determination and a resilience and always a
smile. I considered Norah an exteremely good friend, one I cherish and will
sorely miss. I am devastated. Yvonne Walus and I would meet up monthly
with Norah, talking writing and books and men! Norah and I would talk
daily, often 2 or 3 times a day.

For those that may want to pay their
respects, here is the notice.

Go with my love, sweet Norah
Jane Bekenham


video

Thursday, August 18, 2011

RWNZ Annual Conference - Love and Other Crimes

The conference is upon us. This year, it's my privilege to help organise the raffles, and the prizes are fan-ta-bulous! I'm almost ready, too:
  • cold reads, check
  • money for the raffle tickets, check
  • credit card for new books, check
  • black V to keep me awake driving to the conference at 6.30AM, check
  • pitches to editors... er... I guess I'll have to wing it
Weekend of writing, here I come!



Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ghost-hosting Nicholas Reid

I haven't interviewed Nicholas Reid yet. For the time being, I'm circling around him. Not a vulture. More like a cat gauging the safety levels of the encounter. His columns in The (prestigious) Listener impress. His blog amuses. But who is he, really?

Writer, reviewer, poet, historian. A connoisseur of literature and wine. Somebody who can see the value of reading a Perry Mason novel sandwiched between Joyce and Akhmatova (as you can read in his delightful blog, THE USES OF WHITE BREAD AND WATER). Somebody whose views I can readily adopt (DO WE REALLY TEACH LITERATURE?). Somebody I'd like to get to know better as a colleague.

In a way, I feel a little like a student writing an essay on contemporary New Zealand writers. I've done the Google thing. Now it's time for the inter-personal thing. Watch this space for the interview.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Arranged Marriages - an interview with novelist Shobhan Bantwal


Award-winning author Shobhan Bantwal calls her writing “Bollywood in a Book”—romantic, colorful, action-packed tales, rich with elements of Indian culture—stories that entertain and educate. Her latest novel, "The Full Moon Bride", is a compelling story that explores the fascinating subject of arranged marriage, as young Indian-American attorney Soorya Giri navigates the gulf between desire and tradition.



I'm privileged to host Shobhan on my blog this week, as she answers questions about love, romance and marriage.

Q: The book's blurb starts with "What makes a marriage-love or compatibility? Passion or pragmatism?" Shobhan, what is your own view about the foundation blocks of a good marriage? Do romance books mislead us about true love and the happy ever-after?

My latest book, The Full Moon Bride, revolves around the conflict in a young Indian-American woman's mind about choosing between arranged marriage and finding a mate on her own.

Having had a happy arranged marriage that is now in its 38th year, I have faith in the old-fashioned belief that love, passion, pragmatism and compatibility can and do co-exist simultaneously and harmoniously within a good marriage. In fact, they are the foundation blocks of a solid marriage along with mutual respect, compromise, and sacrifice.

I am a hopeless romantic, so I honestly can't say that romance books mislead us about true love and the happily-ever-after. We all need romance in our lives and romance books give us that much-needed break from the mundane nature of daily life. This is one of the reasons I write books with romantic elements, what I call "Bollywood in a Book". However, some of the more formulaic romance novels tend to romanticize physical love to the point that impressionable readers like teenagers and young adults can mistake sex for love. While sexual desire is a vital component of love between a man and a woman, true love transcends the physical.

The commercialization of Valentine's Day and other holidays, flowers, jewelry, chocolate, wine, and candlelight as symbols of love by the retail industry further impact upon man-woman relationships. To me, true love is about two people being there for each other through the worst of circumstances as well as the best. All the above-mentioned tokens, although cute and touching, are merely that: tokens.

Q: What are some advantages and disadvantages of arranged marriages?

The most significant advantage of arranged marriage is the discreet but intense research done by both the bride and the groom's families before an alliance is made, making sure that both partners come from similar social, economic, and religious backgrounds (caste in India). This makes for minimal adjustment, a fact that is often overlooked in non-arranged marriages, and can be the major factor in many divorces. Falling in love sometimes makes couples blind to the more mundane yet significant aspects of marriage and family, something that arranged marriage pays serious attention to.

The disadvantage obviously is two strangers coming together in a life-long relationship that is a bigger gamble than the average American-style marriage, where two people have known each other and come to love, before tying the knot. Also, in arranged marriages in conservative cultures like India, family and honor always come first, which places undue amount of pressure on a couple to stay together even when the marriage is unhappy or abusive.

Q: And the question you've been dreading: what made you choose this topic?

By its very nature arranged marriage is an intriguing and sometimes controversial topic that can trigger interesting debates. The subject matter is great fodder for a juicy storyline and therefore ideal for book clubs and women's fiction with romantic elements. I enjoy bringing more awareness to this custom, which still flourishes in India and other Asian cultures.

Besides, having raised a daughter in this American culture, and observed her dealing with the challenges of fitting into two diverse cultures in her youth, I was compelled to write a story about second-generation immigrant life. Most young men and women whose families have settled in the U.S. for generations are unaware of the unique cultural conflicts that their immigrant counterparts experience. I felt this story would bring to light some of those rare experiences.

Readers can find my books, events, contests, photos, recipes, and contact information on my website: www.shobhanbantwal.com/ or visit my facebook page: www.facebook.com/ShobhanBantwal.author

Thank you for a great interview.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

1. Who is Yvonne Eve Walus and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

To read this interview with Yvonne Walus, do the deed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vodka Martinis with Jeffery Deaver

A week ago, I did a spur-of-the-moment thing: I booked a ticket to attend a talk with Jeffery Deaver that very night. Usually I um and er about outings, particularly if they're to happen the same day. I consider the price. I consider the traffic. I consider, very considerately, my family abandoned to cook dinner for themselves as I swan out to hobnob with bestselling authors.

But abandon and hobnob I did. I had cocktail snacks. I drank a martini and a glass of bubbly. I listened to Jeffery, talked to the media and bought Carte Blanche.


Better than cooking dinner? You bet!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review of Dead Red Heart

(Dead Red Heart is an anthology of vampire tales in Australia, which features one of my short stories, "Just a Matter Of Economics")

Excerpt from the review by She Never Slept:


"I have been fortunate in this volume not only to be entertained but to actually learn something as well. I recommend Dead Red Heart for readers without a fixed notion of what monsters should be like (or at least the ability to put those notions aside). Non-Australian cultures contain similar themes and myths (Adolf Bastian, a 19th century multidisciplinarian or polymath, called these commonalities in Elementargedanken or “elemental ideas”), but, due to regional proximity, these have their own heritage stamp.

These are cool stories and I believe anyone with an interest in world cultures will enjoy the folkloric as well as the modern ideas in this book. I give this collection 4 out of 5 tentacles."

Read the full review

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Write A Review And Get...

Please post a review of MURDER @ PLAY on Amazon and let me know. I will send you an Yvonne Walus e-book of your choice.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dexter

I'm an impatient viewer: sometimes it takes me less than 5 minutes to make up my mind that I don't want to watch a particular movie or TV series. Most of the time, I'm right. With Dexter, I was wrong.

My tolerance for violence and disturbing topics (be it on the screen, in newspapers or in books) is rather low, so as soon as I saw flashbacks of teenage victims, I made up my mind it's not a program for me. Months later, having heard so many good things about the series, I decided to close my eyes during the flashbacks and to give Dexter another chance.

Glad I did. I love the intelligence with which the script's been written, the unpredictability and the quirky humour. The dialogues are good, the acting's good, the plot's brilliant. I can't understand how the writer did it, but - unbelievable as it may seem - she made me care about Dexter.

I still close my eyes and my mind during the gory bits.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

If you like Harlan Coben and Terry Pratchett....

I have a problem: a tall to-read pile and nothing to read. Perhaps it's the mood I'm in (and have been in for the last year or so). Perhaps I've grown tired of fiction. Perhaps as a novelist I now know the craft so well I read over-critically.

Whatever the cause, the result is: I'm desparate for something to read.

Google is no help. All the "if you like Terry Pratchett books, you will also like" sites assume I like fantasy. All the "if you like Harlan Coben books, you will also like" sites assume I like thrillers. And yet what I like the Coben books is the human nature aspect, the moral dilemmas, the pacing. (I also like the sexy Win, but I'm prepared to read books without him as a character.)

I want good prose, characters I care about, a clever plot and issues to think about long after I finish reading. Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Calling All Lee Child Fans! Who should play Jack Reacher?

Unbelievable as it may seem at first to those who know Lee Child's work, Tom Cruise is in talks to play the six-foot-five protagonist, Jack Reacher. And yet, The Guardian reports that Child himself has expressed eagerness for Cruise to take the part. "Reacher's size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way," said Child, in answer to fans who felt Cruise might be too diminutive for the role.


Personally, I think this could work. Tom Cruise is more than a pretty face (which, incidentally, is nowadays lined with character), he's also a pretty damned good actor. Anybody who doesn't know it yet, should watch the arty drama Magnolia (1999) in which Cruise plays a bad-ass bad ass. And Rainman (1988), for which he should have got an Oscar. And Born On The 4th Of July, for which he got an Oscar nomination as well as the Golden Globe Award.

Jack Reacher is a complex character. He's a Batman-style vigilante, a logical strategist, a champion shooter, a loner, a compassionate man, a cold-blooded killer. Now I ask you this: who can portray all that on the silver screen, without looking like all brawn and no brain, without appearing a wimp or a killing machine or an action hero?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

An ace up your sleeve

I've just read the article "The Unfair Advantage" by Graham McGregor (not to be confused with Ewan). Graham is a marketing consultant and his advice is good solid lateral thinking stuff. It's about going the extra mile for your customer, and in doing so, exploring niches that your competitors failed to spot.

To his list of ideas, I'd like to add a few of my own.

Turning "fail" into "sale"
The other week, dissatisfied with the quality, I returned a pair of children's shoes to Pumpkin Patch. After a summer of wear (perhaps 30 times all in all, and for a few hours at a time), the soles had developed holes and had separated from the upper shoe. Some shops might have tried to argue "wear and tear", but Pumpkin Patch simply gave me my money back. I didn't even have the receipt - they just relied on the fact that the shoe line was less than a year old and was only sold through them. Did they manage to retain me as a customer? Did I spend more money at Pumpkin Patch that day than they refunded for the shoes? You bet. And, you bet.

Go below your quote
My local panelbeater, Trevor Hanson of the Trevor Hanson Collision Centre, deserves all the customers he can cope with. Not only did he honour a quote that was more than 6 months old (what can I say, I'm slow to care for my car), he also managed to complete the job for about 25% less than agreed.

Give free advice
This happened to me more times than I can recall, so I'll just quote one example. An insulation expert told me exactly how to insulate the front door, where to get the materials and how to glue them on. The result? Satisfied that he knew exactly what he was talking about, I paid him to do the job.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Books we love

Of course, there can be no consensus. Not ever. My father had a saying to illustrate the fact that people's taste vary: "Some men," he'd say, "prefer blondes; others prefer whisky."

With that in mind, I almost hesitate to write a post about books we love. We did a quick poll in my book club group, and we discovered that, no matter which book we mentioned, for every two members who enjoyed it, another member would hate it. I guess two to one are not such bad odds... if everybody on the planet bought my books and only 33.3% disliked them, I'd be very happy (not to mention fabulously rich).

Still. The books in which I personally found magic enough to keep them on my shelves, include:
  • everything by Joshilyn Jackson, because of their quirkiness and the beauty of language
  • "Gone with the wind", because I admire the heroine
  • "I don't know how she does it", because I identify with the heroine
  • "We need to talk about Kevin", because I dislike the heroine
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld, because of the ideas and humour
  • Harlan Coben's thrillers, because I love his voice
  • Nick Hornby's fiction, because it speaks to me
By the same logic, some books I put away unfishined, even though they are humorous and I like the heroine. No matter how beautiful the language, I refuse to read about sad things (the Kevin book excluded), which automatically crosses almost all award-winning fiction off my bedside table. In that, I suspect, I'm a majority, though you wouldn't know it judging by the number of tear-jerking, twisted, desolate literature that gets published year after year.

Oh well. Eclectic tastes are not always a blessing.

Incidentally, I'm not a man and I prefer whisky. Single malt.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chapter Short Story Competition

I'm delighted... nay... try jumpring up and down screaming EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! ... to have won the RWNZ short story competition sponsored by Chapter Book Store.

Yvonne Eve Walus...

... is reading Malcolm Gladwell's BLINK (The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking). Perhaps not as gripping a read as OUTLIERS, the concepts are fascinating nonetheless. Watch this space for more details.

(now how's that for a blog Facebook-style?) 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My guest blog on writing

I'm blogging at Savvy Authors today. Come check me out!

"If I were to tell you that you should write with both sides of your brain, you’d get offended, right? Of course, we all use our brain, both sides of the brain, all the time, whether we’re driving or cooking or writing. Still, most people will have a tendency to favour one hemisphere over the other." more

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ten Digital Diet Rules to Live By

Today we're hosting Daniel Sieberg, the author of THE DIGITAL DIET: The 4 Step Plan to Break Your Tech Addiction and Regain Balance in Your Life


This book is for anyone who is finding that technology is taking over their life – cell phones, computers, social media, and so many other items. Are you finding that you can’t communicate with your friends without sending a text message? Do you postpone plans to harvest your crops on Farmville? These are extreme examples, but we all know people who seem to be tied to their technology. But there is a way to get this situation under control and Daniel Sieberg shares his 4 step plan to help people with their tech addiction. It is not anti-technology, but can help us get our use of technology under control and take back our lives.



Daniel's 10 rules to help you with your e-addiction:


1. Avoid tech turds. Don’t just dump your smart phone on the table at a restaurant or at home. Keep it in your pocket or purse unless it’s critical to have it out. If you must have it out, acknowledge its presence and inform your companions that you’ll check it only in an emergency. It’s a courtesy that you’d appreciate, too.






2. Live your life in the real world. If you must post a status update or tweet or blog about something in your life, then make sure it’s something you’d be willing to announce to anyone you know face to face.






3. Ask yourself whether you really need that gadget. There are tons of cool stuff in the tech world, and some of it might even improve your or your family’s life, but don’t feel compelled to buy every new toy that comes out. Before you make a digital purchase, question its necessity.






4. Seek tech support. Navigating the wilds of the wired world can sometimes be too much to handle alone. It’s okay to ask for help and it’s also okay to use technology to help “outsource self control” when needed. Check out the many programs that can assist with budgeting your time online.






5. Detox Regularly. Once you’ve completed the Digital Diet, return to the detox phase one day a month. You can do this as a family, too. Use that day as a touchstone to remember what life can be like without technology.






6. Sleep device-free: Move your chargers out of the bedroom to another room in the house, and let your devices live there overnight. They need a break from you, too.






7. It’s either the human or the device. Work toward choosing people over the device. Yes, there’ll be times when it’s tricky or nearly impossible to choose between your smart phone or laptop and paying attention to your child or your loved one or your friend, but try to use your devices more on your own time rather than during the time you share with others.






8. Remember the “if /then” principle. Choices that you make in the virtual world can have an impact in the real one. For example, if you don’t find the time to put down the gadgets and log out once in a while, then you might lose the ability to appreciate the finer moments in life.






9. Structure your e-day. Work toward a finite beginning and end to your connectedness. In other words, dive into the gadgets and the e-mail and the texts only when you’ve composed yourself in the morning. When you’re ready to unplug in the evening, do it without reservation and focus on what—and who—is immediately around you.






10. Trust your instincts. If you think you might be spending too much time being a voyeur on social networks or playing online games or endlessly texting, then you probably are. That little voice knows when it’s all become too much. Listen to it. Pursue the ultimate goal of balance and awareness.






For much more information about Daniel Sieberg and The Digital Diet: The 4-Step Plan to Break Your Tech Addiction and Regain Balance in Your Life visit http://www.danielsieberg.com/. For your own copy, visit http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Diet-4-step-addiction-balance/dp/0307887383 (print) and http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Diet-addiction-balance-ebook/dp/B004J4WM3G (Kindle)






Thursday, May 05, 2011

Reddit!


I liked "Live Wire" well enough, though I'm not sure I like where the story's gone or - indeed - going. SPOILERS AHEAD, so please click here if you haven't read the book yet.

SPOILERS:
  • Yummy Win with reading glasses is still every bit as f***able as ever, though I confess I worried about his chances of winning a fight for the first time ever.
  • While his devotion to Mee is charming, why can't he get it on with Wendy from Caught?
  • I don't think what he did in "Live Wire" is any worse than what he'd done in previous books. Come back, Win, all's forgiven. Myron's an idiot....
  • ... OK, no more criticising the plot line. I loved the twist on Wire and his sidekick.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mrs. Perfect

I like Jane Porter books. They are more complex than romances and less depressing than literary novels. Somehow, they manage to strike the balance between being issues-driven and character-driven. Perhaps it's because they discuss issues so close to the heart of women married with children, but I find myself reaching for Jane Porter books the way one reaches for a box of finest Swiss chocolates. And it's not the gourmet 99% dark chocolate that you're supposed to oooh and aaaah over - her fiction is the lovely smooth milky chocolate that really hits the spot. (see footnote)

MRS PERFECT is the sequel to ODD MOM OUT, and I love the way we now root for the woman we disliked in the first book. Turns out it's all a matter of perspective, and it's a lesson well worth remembering in real life.

Other issues I found memorable include:
  • women who love designer labels may be deeper than I give them credit for
  • juggling a job and motherhood sucks
  • the job market doesn't appreciate experience or real-life skills
  • money doesn't buy happiness (ok, I knew that, but it's nice to have it confirmed).
Oh, and it's fabulous to read a "married couple" love story.

Footnote: I loved the way the author pokes fun at book clubs in MRS PERFECT. Having tried book clubs myself, I know how the heroine feels about the highbrow award-winning novels....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eve Summers Strikes Again!

Red Rose Publishing is about to release the second book in the Cruise Ship Adventures Series by Eve Summers. Following on the hot sales of "Dance Like Everyone Is Watching", "Elevator With A View" offers a unique (if spicy) view of cruising.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Intensive care unit in the sky

Creative Learning is a proud sponsor of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, a New Zealand accident and emergency rescue and transport service operated.

They provide a dedicated 24-hour, seven day a week service. This service often makes a life or death difference for thousands of New Zealanders. A Rescue Helicopter is necessary when:
  • a patient is very sick or badly injured
  • medics think getting to hospital quickly will make a big difference
  • an accident has occurred in a difficult location.
The Rescue Helicopters are like a fully equipped intensive care unit in the sky. From a defibrillator for a premature baby to full life support systems, they can deal with any situation.

The Auckland Trust operates two helicopters and they do a total of about 2,000 missions per year. The aircraft and crew are trained and equipped to operate day and night, their missions range from emergency/accident casualty transport, to medical transfers/medevacs to rescue searches and airlifts.
 
The Trust does school visits on request, complete with landing the helicopter in the school grounds and telling the children about the rescue missions.
 
To support the Helicopters, please click here.
 

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Stieg Larsson and I

Way back before the world had heard about "The girl with the dragon tattoo", I read about Stieg Larsson in Crime Writers' Asssociation newsletter. The article mentioned his death and the three unpublished manuscripts, together with a fourth one, 75% completed. I found the image poignant.

Since then, I learned that his partner wants to finish writing the fourth book, and that his translator is capable of writing in Larsson's style but has no ideas. It made me wonder what would happen to my work in progress if I suddenly was no longer here to complete it. A small thing to worry about, but it made me feel a flicker of comeraderie for Stieg Larsson. So I looked him up on Wiki and here are some facts I found interesting:
  • He was the editor of Echo, a controversial newspaper. Mikael Blomkvist, anybody?
  • Larsson's first name originally was Stig which is the standard spelling. In his early twenties, he changed it to avoid confusion with his friend Stig Larsson, who would go on to become a well-known author well before Stieg did.
  • Larsson's first fiction writing efforts were not in crime fiction, but in science fiction.
  • He was the second best-selling author in the world in 2008, behind Khaled Hosseini. By March 2010, his "Millennium series" had sold 27 million copies in more than 40 countries.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Contests for Writers - the BNZ Literary Awards

The BNZ Literary Awards are for both aspiring and established New Zealand writers. more
impression by Anne Estelle Rice

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Future - Books in 2015???

First, bookworms were able to buy digital books on electronic readers; now a New Zealand company will print out a single copy of that book and mail it to your front gate.... more

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quality without Marketing....

.... Oh, look, here's another pig flying past the window!


Seriously though. I found this post quite poignant, particularly the bit about quality being recognised without the need for marketing... 

Who reads books nowadays?

I'm blogging today at Happy Endings about this topic. Stop by and leave a comment....

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Adding my post on the Christchurch Earthquake topic...

Since 22 February 2011, the media have served us images of destruction, hope and despair. We've heard moving stories of heroism and disturbing stories of opportunistic crimes and desperate cries of help from the survivors. We're read opinions on what to do with the ruined cathedral, unsafe suburbs, the OCR, the taxes and the portable toilets.

The noise made me reluctant to comment. Still, this blog can't exist in a vacuum.







Thursday, March 03, 2011

Judith Orloff's Emotional Freedom

“Emotional Freedom is a must-read for anyone who's tired
of feeling frustrated, lonely, or stopped by fear."
-Deepak Chopra


Judith Orloff MD is a UCLA psychiatrist and a pioneer who bridges mainstream medicine with intuition, energy medicine, and spirituality. She invites you on a remarkable journey where you can embrace more happiness and mastery over negativity than you may have ever known. Our world is in the midst of a meltdown. She describes how to stay intuitively and spiritually centered in our times.

Dr. Orloff celebrates the exciting paperback launch of her New York Times bestseller Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life. “I’m presenting the unique process I use with patients and in my own life to view emotions as a path to spiritual and intuitive awakening (not EFT). I synthesize traditional medicine with energy medicine to offer you new tools to master emotions and become heroes in your own life. Inner peace leads to outer peace in the world.”

Publisher's Weekly’s review of Emotional Freedom says:
“Superbly written..Dr. Orloff regards emotions as a training ground for the soul, and views ‘every victory over fear, anxiety, and resentment as a way to develop your spiritual muscles.’”

In the book, you will discover:
• Four questions to transform fear with courage
• What your emotional type is
• How to stop absorbing the emotions of others
• How to combat emotional vampires with compassion
• The spiritual meaning of depression and hope

Purchase book and claim your "Celebrate Joy" special gift collection at:


Friday, February 25, 2011

Books That Are Out There - Romantic Suspense

When Love Won't Die by Jacqueline McMahon




This is Jacqueline's first romantic suspense novel. Surprisingly enough, it does not have a hero. "The heroine ends up defeating the villain," says the author. "She learns to trust people and she realizes that lies only make things worse."


The book is set 45 minutes out of Thunder Bay, a city of 110,000 located on the shores of Lake Superior, with lots of forested areas. This part of NW Ontario is very picturesque and lends itself to great chase scenes in isolated woods.


Who should play the heroine in a movie? Why, Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls/Parenthood), of course!



Blurb: 
Eleanor Bennett has an idyllic life.  Married to a handsome and successful lawyer, she spends her days writing novels in their beautiful Victorian home, nestled onto a picturesque piece of property in the country.  As a bestselling author, Eleanor appears to have everything.

But what no one knows, not even her husband Michael, is that Eleanor hides a dark secret, one she vowed to take to her grave.  Unfortunately, for Eleanor, some secrets refuse to remain hidden forever.  With the arrival of one individual from her past, Eleanor’s world is about to come crumbling down around her.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jane Porter books

What I like about Jane Porter books:

  • they are love stories about thinking women for thinking women
  • the heroines want more from life than a rich husband
  • the themes make you think - how much would you be willing to sacrifice for a younger lover? how far would you go to fit in with other moms? would you go against all your beliefs to keep your dream job?
  • I love the first person present tense style
  • the author is a lovely person who's not afraid to admit how much work she puts into her novels.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

LIVE WIRE - jumping the gun

OK, OK, so I know it's not March yet. But you know, the way time whooshes by me, it's bound to be March about two days after I post this, LOL. Or at least it'll feel like only two days. It was Christmas last week, wasn't it? My point exactly.... I'm not sure why shops are displaying Valentine Cards!

So, Harlan Coben and LIVE WIRE. I can't wait because I have a huge crush on Win and Mr Coben kindly promised to feature more of him in his latest book, which I know is going to be a bestseller just on pre-orders! I sure hope we get to see a lot more of Win. I'm happy to look through the keyhole....

BTW: did you know you can be friends with Harlan Coben on Facebook?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Eve Summers: Chat this weekend

Eve Summers: Chat this weekend: "Come join me at Love Romance Cafe this weekend, hear me chat about my books and win a give-away or three.... In the USA, the time of the cha..."

Cyclone Yasi

I'm not usually one for watching the news. Too depressing. Too time consuming. But I have friends in Townsville, and I've holidayed off the coast of Cairns as well as in Townsville, so Cyclone Yasi is of personal interest to me.

My heart goes out to the communities affected. It must be hard to leave your home carrying only the valuables and emergency supplies. It must be harder still to hanker down in a shelter with masses of strangers, wondering what is going on outside, whether you're safe from both the gusting wind and the king waves, trying not to imagine what is happening to your house.

The last I heard, Townsville had lost electricity. Please, please, please, let everyone be safe and comfortable.

See more here.