Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing by Lisa Walker

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Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing by Lisa Walker

Publication Date: February 2, 2015

Pages: 352

Thank you to Net Gallery, Random House Australia & Bantam Australia for allowing me to read and review this ARC.

Synopsis

A delightfully funny and inspiring novel about a very modern pilgrimage, and one woman’s chance to rediscover what she’s lost.

‘I watch the highway go by and ponder my situation. I am on the run from my husband’s divorce lawyer, my mojo is still missing in action and my demon ex-lover is lurking . . . But, all things considered, my pilgrimage is going well . . .’

Arkie used to be a trendspotter, running a successful business advising companies on ‘the next big thing’. Until she lost her marriage and her mojo along with it.

Her eccentric new friend Haruko suggests a pilgrimage in Japan. But funds are tight, so instead Arkie’s going on a very Australian trip, to all the ‘Big Things’.

With Haruko as her guide, magic is everywhere. A Buddha appears next to the Big Redback, the Big Macadamia rises from the jungle like a lost temple and inside the Big Shell she can hear a tinkling voice, reminding her of the child she never had.

As her improbable adventure unfolds, realisation dawns: could it be that, despite her celebrated foresight, Arkie’s been missing what was right before her eyes?

 

My Thoughts

 The book opens and we find 41 year old Arkie Douglas (female) about to attempt to commit suicide on the one year anniversary of her husband leaving her, which also happens to be New Year’s. She decides that it’s all too much to bear and is going to throw herself in front of a train.

Enter a hip 20 year old Japanese holiday maker by the name of Haruko (female). They spend New Year’s together waiting for a train that doesn’t come, they later discover it stopped running ten years prior.

Arkie offers Haruko a Job after only knowing her for 36 hours, hoping she’ll help her get back into the trend spotting game. Arkie was a big shot trend predictor before her marriage fell apart and she feel to pieces.

That may all sound a bit far-fetched, but a found those initial chapters quite entertaining.

We go on to find out that Arkie’s ex-husbands name is Adam and her ex-lover’s name is Ben. This is where the story started to lose me as I couldn’t feel sorry for Arkie anymore.

If you ignore the infidelity and just look at it as being destroyed by heartbreak and rebuilding ones self, then there are bits and pieces in the story most of us can relate to.

I quite enjoyed reading about the pilgrimage and the big bad lawyer being after Arkie. I didn’t mind reading about Arkie reminiscing about Adam, I liked Adam. The reminiscing about Ben annoyed me, probably because I thought Ben was an Oily Snake and he did prove he was just that when he went on and became a politician.

The water child weirded me out at first, mainly the name. I think if she’d been named Prue or Alison for example I probably wouldn’t have minded Arkie talking to the imaginary child she never got to have. The name “water child” makes me think of some demonic little girl trapped down a well in a Steven King novel. But once the deeper meaning of the Water Child was reviled, I felt guilty at finding her weird and ached at Arkie’s stupidity and loss.

The ending was a little anti-climactic. Yes she gets back with her husband, but I would have loved in the epilogue to see her with the child she so desired, be it as a foster mother or whatever.

If you enjoyed reading Eat Pray Love, then you’ll love this book (with added Aussie bonus). I give it 3.5 stars, it loses half a star as the ending didn’t satisfy me.

See lady’s we don’t need to go to Italy or an Ashram in India to find ourselves, after a mid-life crises we can get lost in ourselves and a simpler time enjoying Australia’s Big Things.

I’m going to go see the big Scotsman next time I’m in Adelaide, just to say I’ve been to the original.

Author’s Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/lisawalkerhome

Author’s Twitter – https://twitter.com/lisawalkertweet

Author’s website – http://www.lisawalker.com.au/

Publisher’s Website – http://www.randomhouse.com.au/books/lisa-walker/arkies-pilgrimage-to-the-next-big-thing-9780857984401.aspx

Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop Winner!

To celebrate Australia Day this year I partook in the Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop. The prize I offered was up to AU$20 worth of goodies from the Book Depository.

I’m happy to announce that the winner was a lucky lady by the name of Robin Dawson from NSW.

So congrats to Robin and to the rest of you that entered, thank you for taking part and better luck next year 😛 :-).

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi.

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It’s the Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop!

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Welcome to the Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop!

To celebrate Australia Day on the 26th I am giving away AU$20 of Book Depository Awesomeness (as in your choice of $20 worth of goodies from the Book Depository)

I will be drawing the winner via Random.org

Put your details in the below form to go into the draw (Australian residents only).

After you have entered my giveaway, make sure you follow the link at the bottom of this post to check out other Aussie Blogs participating and for more chances to win!

It would be really awesome if you would also check out my blog, maybe leave me a comment to say hello, or Follow me, but no pressure – you can enter without doing these things.

Entries close at midnight on Tuesday January 27th. The winner will be announced Thursday January 29th.

Click the link below to hop around the blogs of the other Australian’s celebrating with me!

https://bookdout.wordpress.com/2015/01/24/its-the-2015-australia-day-book-giveaway-blog-hop/

Trial of the Heart by John Swan

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During the Fourth Age of Aldaya, one of their own defied the Esme’s most sacred law. All the great powers – both divine and mortal – have been summoned to judge Izman’s guilt or innocence. The verdict will set in motion a chain of events whose consequences will ripple through Aldaya for centuries, affecting the lives of Eolan and Min two ages into the future, and set the stage for the final confrontation between good and evil.

 

My Thoughts

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to read and review In Your Dreams by John back in July 2014 and I was thrilled when I got an email from Natalie (John’s Publicist) asking if I’d like to read and review this Novella.

Having been six month since I read In my Dreams, I had forgotten what a complex and thorough story John weavers. I was instantly transported with his vivid descriptions to Proveglia to nervously wait with Bronwyn for the trail of Izman.

This novella is set well before Eolan and Min’s time and we get to learn Merope’s background story and witness the twisted dark creator that is Izman. I really enjoyed finding out how Merope became the way she is, as she is the evil “bad guy” in which Min is running from in In Your Dreams.

This novella is quite a quick read and a perfect snippet to tie me over until the next novel.

**Here is a LINK to my review of ‘In Your Dreams’**

**Goodreads LINK Novel #1 of The Aldaya Series – In Your Dreams**

**Goodreads LINK Novella #1 of The Aldaya Series – Trial of the Heart**

 **Amazon Kindle “Trial of the Heart LINK” Currently this is $0.99 via amazon**

js-53-web-rgbFor More about John

  **Website LINK**     **Facebook LINK**    **Twitter LINK**

 **Google+ LINK**    **Fans’ Mailing List LINK** 

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Publicity Inquiries > Contact: Natalie Spasic > publicity@nataliespasic.com

I was Here by Gayle Forman

18879761Synopsis

Cody and Meg were inseparable.

Two peas in a pod.

Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

My Thoughts

I will just say that Gayle Forman is a phenomenal writer; this story flowed beautifully and was extremely easy to read. I received this free advance reading copy of ‘I Was Here’ thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia, with its official release being the 1st February.

…he has this expression on his face –it’s the particular contortion when fury meets guilt. And I know that look. I see it every day in the mirror.

Throughout this book we see Cody struggling to come to terms with the sudden and surprising suicide of her life long best friend Meg –Meg who she’d always held up on a pedestal –and struggling to come to terms with being left behind. Cody’s pain is natural and it feels real. Cody is wracked with the “it’s my fault” syndrome and is desperate to find someone to blame. In her effort to deal, she digs deep into the life that Meg tried to hide, enlisting the friends she meets along the way and uncovering some very disturbing truths.

To start off with we see Cody push everyone away. She is weak, scared, and a pretty crappy friend. But slowly we see her step out of her comfort zone and come to life with the determination (as she sees it) to avenge her fallen friend. We see Cody finally come to terms with Meg’s death and finally have the courage to forgive Meg and exonerate herself.

The romance between Cody and Ben is very cliché and unnecessary, but Cody’s love for Meg and her growing friendships with the other characters are more than strong enough to pull the story along.

Lastly we see Cody move on with her life, taking the lessons learnt with her.

I give it **** Four Stars (It’s quite a hard book to review as it’s a hard topic to deal with – I really don’t think my review has done the book justice).

Goodreadsauthors website

Crying Babies

“Why is it that I am always the only one who hears our son crying in the night?” I ask for the millionth time.

I wake even when my son makes the slightest carry on, but my husband sleeps soundly on. Well he sleeps soundly on unless it’s the second time my son’s woken up during the night and I elbow my husband in the ribs until he wakes up, then inform him it’s his turn to check on the baby (I say baby even though he’s eighteen months old now and I’m not sure if he’s technically still a baby). To my husband’s credit, if I wake him and tell him to go check on our son, he normally does it with minimal grumbling.

It used to be that my son would wake up and just want a hug or bottle then be happy to go back to sleep, but in the last 6 months or so it’s been more like he’s having nightmares. You go in to check on him and he’s still asleep. It is rather disturbing seeing my baby boy tossing and turning, screaming with tears rolling out of closed eyes. Thankfully just picking him up or patting his back or tummy does the trick and he goes back in a calm sleep.

I remember reading somewhere that it’s hardwired into a woman’s brain to register those high pitched distressed tones of one’s offspring. But dang it, I tell you I’d like a night where I sleep through and my husband wakes up.

^ Riley awake and happy In his cot ^

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^ Shane, Riley and I ^

Arcane (The Arinthian Line, #1) by Sever Bronny

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Synopsis

Warlocks before their time …

Fourteen-year-old Augum and friends Bridget and Leera dream of becoming warlocks. But with a kingdom in total chaos, it will take courage, sacrifice, and an iron will to make that dream come true.

The Lord of the Legion, a vicious tyrant, has overthrown the king in a relentless and murderous quest for seven mythic artifacts–and Augum’s mentor, the legendary Anna Atticus Stone, possesses one. While Augum struggles with demons from a painful childhood, a betrayal puts him, his friends, and his mentor through a harrowing ordeal that threatens to destroy them all … and change the course of history.

Arcane, the debut novel in the fantasy adventure series The Arinthian Line, follows three friends as they navigate an ancient abandoned castle, endure grueling training, challenge old mysteries, and learn that a bond forged in tragedy might just be the only thing to save them from a ruthless enemy.

 

My Thoughts

I received a copy of this book from the author, through the Goodreads Group “YA Lovers” in exchange for and honest review. So first, I am going to say Thank you!

Augum; I really liked him. He had it tough as an abused orphan slave boy, until he ended up in the care of Sir Tobias Westwood. Westwood taught Augum to read, hunt, etc. and it is thanks in large part to Westwood that Augum survives to end up with Mrs Stone. Augum has spent all of his life ridiculed and beat up on for being a gutter born orphan and it is beautiful to see that turn around for him as he finds true friendship.

Mrs. Stone; the awesome elderly super powerful bad arse Mrs. Stone. I loved her. Go Grandma, Go, Go. I think it is probably the mother in me that loved her as the hero / saviour in this novel so much (I would be interested to see a teenage boy’s response to her character)

Bridget & Leera; Augum’s back up besties. I quite liked the girls and think that they balanced Augum out nicely. Leera got to kick some butt in the book alongside Augum and I hope that in the future books they get their chance to shine independently.

Prince Sydo; I have to mention him as, Sydo is nasty spoiled foul mouthed brat and I hated him. I think you are meant to hate him, but I found him really disrupting my enjoyment of the story at times. I hope he wakes up to himself in the next book.

The story follows 14-year-old Augum. I found the story a bit hard to get into at first and some of the chapters lagging early on and towards the middle as we are getting crammed with background information. There are some cool plot twist along the way and we get a new style of magic with the Arcane discipline. Once I got into the vibe of the book and stomached all the world building, I really started to enjoy the story, but I cannot really say too much about the story without giving all the twists away.

So I will just say the Last 20% of the book was a fantastical rush. The end of the book is an exciting frantic flurry of action, with a brilliant ending, bring on the next instalment Mr Bronny.

Goodreadsauthors website

I am going to knock this up as number one for my Debut author challenge; it is Mr Bronny’s first book and was published last year. I was intending to purchase any of the books I read for the debut author challenge and I was given this one, but I think as I am going to buy the next book Riven (The Arinthian Line, #2) due out in February that it counts.

Debut Author Challenge Button

Phillip: Friday Fictioneers 100 word story challenge

Phillip was staring at a Route 66 sign and he was feeling rather sorry for himself.

He had just convinced the lady behind the counter to give him a cup of tea, when he felt the room shake; his vision twisted and blacked out.

His ears popped and his vision returned. He was standing in what appeared to be a dirt hut.

“Not again” he moaned to himself “I’d only just figured out where I was, again”.

Furious with the fate he had been given, he stomped out the door to try and discover where he’d ended up this time.

 PHOTO PROMPT – © Copyright Jean L. Hays

Begin the Route

Friday Fictioneers is a challenge set by Rochelle Fields where writers around the world create 100 word stories inspired by the one image. For more information see:

http://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/2-january-2015/

The Griever’s Mark by Katherine Hurley

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Synopsis

Astarti would bet her life on one thing: she will never escape her master Belos.

After Belos found her as an abandoned infant, he planted within her a Leash, which he uses to control her power. Astarti is a Drifter, able to manipulate the energy world of the Drift–to shape weapons, to bind others, to travel great distances in mere seconds. Astarti’s job is to strike deals with desperate souls who would Leash themselves to Belos for political or personal gain. Her other objective is to kill any Earthmaker–those who wield the power of the elements–whenever possible.

But when Astarti lets one handsome Earthmaker escape, she sets into motion a chain of events that will lead her to question everything she knows about herself and her power. Even her Griever’s Mark tattoo, the symbol of her mother’s abandonment, may not mean what Astarti has always been told.

My Thoughts

I received a copy of this book from the author, through the Goodreads Group “YA Lovers” in exchange for and honest review. So first up I’m going to say Thank you!

The more I like a book a book the harder I find it to say anything about it without gushing like a school girl high on sugar holding hands with her crush for the first time. So I will try to contain myself.

I dived into the world that Ms Hurley created and was in love. She gives as an immensely rich world with forbidden love (My favourite kind of love) earth magic (my favourite kind of magic) evil twisted bad guys, treason, turf wars and a heroine with a dark and mysterious past. Yes please, give me more! I can’t say too much about Astarti, her mother, The Drift, Logan or Earth Magic without giving away the big plot points of the story.

As this is the first book in a series there is a lot of world building and background information given to us, but Ms Hurley makes it all flow beautiful into a enthralling story. In this book we met Astarti and through her adventures we learn all about her life and discover her secret family history with her. We also get to meet Logan the delicious earth maker as she does. We learn a little about Logan and his world in this book, but at the end of the book we are left with questions of his heritage and what his fate will be. So yes we are left with a cliff hanger; the ending brings a whole load more to be answered in the next book and plenty more adventures for Astarti to tackle.

I am looking forward to reading the next instalment.  Five Stars.

Goodreads authors website