Recently a friend, after a few drinks, confessed she and her husband were experimenting with 'swinging'. I have to admit I was pretty shocked but as s Recently a friend, after a few drinks, confessed she and her husband were experimenting with 'swinging'. I have to admit I was pretty shocked but as she shared some of what she and her husband had learned about the lifestyle, I was intrigued, not only with the logistics of it, but why and how they made the decision. I didn't want to ask too many questions though - lest they mistake my intellectual curiosity as an angling for an invitation to join them - so when I discovered A Modern Marriage I felt compelled to pick it up.
Written by Christy and Mark Kidd, A Modern Marriage is a memoir of their experiences as a couple who have embraced the swinging lifestyle. They stumbled upon the scene at a New Years Party in New York and were both titillated and curious about what they witnessed. After a lot of discussion, some googling, and the laying down of ground rules, they decided to take the plunge. Christy and Mark experienced several false starts with seedy clubs and unreliable partnerships before finally getting in the swing of things.
I think Christy and Mark are quite honest in their telling. They share a little of their backgrounds, both Texas born and raised by mother's who had multiple partners during their childhood (Christy's mother was married 5 times, Mark's mother 4 times). They met, through their work as accountants, when they were both seriously involved with other partners but couldn't resist one another, and by the time they decided to explore swinging had been married for five years. Though Christy and Mark are clearly advocates for the lifestyle they don't entirely gloss over its possible pitfalls, exploring issues such as jealousy, attachment and even the dangers of addiction. They place great emphasis on the need for a strong marriage, honest communication and sensible rules, to partake in the lifestyle without damaging the relationship.
A Modern Marriage is sometimes explicit but not really in a pornographic way. The tone is conversational, and encounters are related largely in a matter of fact manner with the focus more on what the couple was thinking rather than feeling.
I know the swinging lifestyle is not right for me, for so many reasons, but A Modern Marriage satisfied my curiosity about why some couples make the choice. I'm not convinced it will work out for my friend but it seems it is possible, Mark and Christy have now been married for 14 years and are still swinging.
I first discovered Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix on Leeswammes Blog where the quirky cover, designed to imitate a IKEA catalogue, caught my eye. I was f
I first discovered Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix on Leeswammes Blog where the quirky cover, designed to imitate a IKEA catalogue, caught my eye. I was further intrigued when I learned she had given it five stars and I immediately added it to my wishlist based on her recommendation.
After the staff of IKEA ORSK repeatedly find soiled furniture, broken glass ware and other damaged products each morning with no evidence of an intruder, store manager Basil recruits two of his employees, Amy, a reluctant floor leader, and Ruth-Ann, an ORSK lifer, to work an overnight shift. His plan calls for hourly sweeps of each floor and when they stumble across a homeless man hiding under a bed, and two colleagues making out on a couch, they believe they have solved the mystery. But the man vehemently denies he is responsible and Amy's colleagues, aspiring ghost busters, Trinity and Matt persuade them to take part in a seance, and suddenly the 'Bright and Shining Way' is a dark path to an unimagined hell.
Really I am surprised it has taken so long for someone to set a horror novel in a big box store like IKEA which, with its funneled walkways, empty staged rooms, and horse-meat meatballs, has a creep factor even on an ordinary day. It is easy to imagine the magnified eeriness of the echoing spaces at night, especially if you believe someone, or something, is out on the floor stalking you.
The format of Horrorstör includes chapters prefaced by the familiar innocuous blueprints and product descriptions of furniture with names like Müskk (a bed) and Liripip (a wardrobe) which grow increasingly bizarre however as the story progresses. These add a humourous touch which offsets the dawning horror. Also included is an order form, a map and even staff evaluation forms.
Horrorstör is a quick, entertaining read designed to elicit a chill or two in the same way that the store is designed to encourage you to purchase a bookshelf or two. A horror novel with a touch of the absurd, you will never look at IKEA in quite the same way again.
PS. If you need more convincing that IKEA is the perfect setting for a horror novel, check out IKEA Singapore's TV ad to promote its late night opening hours - a tribute to The Shining....more
Forbidden Fruit is the third fabulously entertaining book in Ilsa Evans' cozy mystery series set in the small fictional Australian town of Majic, feat Forbidden Fruit is the third fabulously entertaining book in Ilsa Evans' cozy mystery series set in the small fictional Australian town of Majic, featuring the middle aged accidental sleuth, Nell Forrest.
Forbidden Fruit picks up not long after Ill-Gotten Gains left off. Nell has moved into her newly purchased and renovated home, once the storefront for her absentee father's butcher shop, and is digging a hole to plant an apple tree in her backyard when she uncovers human remains. The body is eventually identified as a young wife and mother who once lived in the adjoining premises and disappeared in the early 1970's. The police suspect Nell's father murdered her, prompting his return from England where he has been living for over thirty years, but Nell is convinced they have it wrong and sets out to prove his innocence.
Nell has her hands full in Forbidden Fruit what with two of her five daughters about to give birth, new in-law's-to-be to entertain, her part time lover, Detective Ashley Armistead, demanding a commitment, and her ex husband parading his newborn daughter around town, yet she can't help but get involved in the investigation when her father is charged with murder. Aided by her sister, Petra, and with clues provided by the gossipy residents of Majic (including Grace June Rae - the character I won naming rights to), Nell uncovers some disturbing secrets about the early years of her parents marriage, and unmasks a killer.
The mystery is well plotted with a trail of red herrings and surprising twists. It was well over halfway before I figured out the identity of the real killer, though not their motivation until the final scenes.
I have loved the humour in this series, from the 'fan' letters (Nell writes a syndicated newspaper column called Middle Aged Spread) that preface each chapter, to the exasperated snark Nell mumbles under her breath. The barely restrained chaos of Nell's family life is a real feature in all three books, as is the eccentricity of the residents of Majic.
Forbidden Fruit, like the entire series, is a delightful blend of mystery, humour and domestic drama. Sadly this will be the final installment in the Nell Forrest Mystery series unless Nell finds a stronger audience. I implore readers whose interest is piqued to purchase a copy from your favourite ebook retailer.
* As of Nov 2014 the first book, Nefarious Doings is free to download from Amazon and both books 2 and 3 are just a few dollars ...more
In 1989, Samantha Platt, a nineteen year old American arts student, was traveling through Europe with her best friend, Tracey, when, on their second t In 1989, Samantha Platt, a nineteen year old American arts student, was traveling through Europe with her best friend, Tracey, when, on their second to last day in Paris they met two handsome young Frenchman, Jean-Luc and Patrick. Though their time together was brief, Samantha and Jean-Luc both admitted to feeling a strong connection, and though Samantha chose to continue their planned journey leaving Jean-Luc behind, she did so with no small amount of regret.
Twenty odd years later, Samantha has been made redundant and her marriage is disintegrating when Tracey reminds her of their summer in Paris and the seven letters full of romance and longing she received from Jean-Luc after her return home. Wondering 'what if?', Samantha gathers her courage and decides to contact Jean-Luc, awkward emails soon became more intimate, leading to long phone calls which eventually results in Samantha accepting Jean-Luc's invitation to visit him in Paris. It is a chance Samantha feels she has to take...
Seven Letters From Paris is the true tale of an extraordinary second chance love story. Twenty years after their day long romance in Paris, Samantha and Jean-Luc are reunited, and less than 12 months later are husband and wife.
Samantha's story may have a fairytale ending, but it is a life and love hard won. She has dealt with an absentee father, a difficult divorce and bankruptcy to then moving to France with only rudimentary language skills, and becoming not only a wife, but also a full time stepmother of two young children.
Written in a friendly, almost conversational tone, Seven Letters From Paris is an easy read. Romantics will swoon over the seven letters Jean-Luc sent Samantha in 1989, francophiles will enjoy reading about Samantha's new life in France.
As my own love story is entirely prosaic - he was 20 and a co-worker of a friend, I was just 16 and still in high school when we got together, we married when I was 22 and next week we will celebrate 19 years of marriage - I appreciated the romance of Samantha and Jean-Luc's relationship and their almost too-good-to-be-true reunion.
My French is very rusty but: Je vous souhaite de nombreuses années de bonheur (I wish you both many years of happiness)
*Please note: I choose not to rate memoirs*...more
A sweeping saga spanning three generations, and two continents, Nicole Alexander's fifth novel, The Great Plains, is an absorbing tale of love, loss, A sweeping saga spanning three generations, and two continents, Nicole Alexander's fifth novel, The Great Plains, is an absorbing tale of love, loss, betrayal, belonging and freedom.
The story begins in Dallas, Texas in 1886, before moving to the plains of Oklahoma, and then to the Queensland bush, nearly fifty years later. It follows the trials of three generations of beautiful and strong willed women, Philomena Wade, abducted and raised by Apache Indians, her granddaughter Serena, claimed by her wealthy uncle, successful Texan business man Aloysius Wade, and Serena's eldest daughter, Abelena, whose fates are inextricably entwined with the obsessions of three generations of Wade men.
The Great Plains is a multi-layered novel with complex characters believable for both their virtues and their flaws. The major theme of the novel is the notion of belonging with Alexander exploring the bonds created by family, and within that the debate of 'nature versus nurture', the spiritual attachment to the land felt so deeply by the indigenous peoples in both North America and Australia, and finally the idea of belonging to oneself.
The story references some of the historical events of the time including the development of the Wild West, the abolition of slavery, the Great Depression and World War 1, as well as key figures, most notably the legendary Apache Indian, Geronimo. Alexander also explores several social issues and beliefs raised by both time and place.
The Great Plains is grand and involving fiction blending history and family drama, skillfully crafted by a consummate storyteller.
Our Kind of Love is the third and final book in Victoria Purman's wonderful coastal romance trilogy, The Boys of Summer, set on the Fleurieu Peninsula Our Kind of Love is the third and final book in Victoria Purman's wonderful coastal romance trilogy, The Boys of Summer, set on the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia.
This sweet and sexy installment sees Joe, Lizzie's brother, who has recently returned to Middle Point after his wife left him for his best mate on the same day that he was made redundant from his job as an investigative newspaper journalist, fall hard for Dr Anna Morelli, a 'good Italian Catholic girl' reeling after discovering her husband has been cheating on her for most of their marriage, who breaks all of her own rules when she spends the night with Joe after Ry and Julia's wedding.
Joe and Anna's story is all about giving love a second chance. There is plenty of chemistry between them, illustrated by a couple of toe-curling encounters, but their romantic path is strewn with obstacles. With the romance genre, it's important to me that I believe in the reasons for conflict between the couple. I felt that Purman managed this well, creating realistic emotional and practical issues to divide Joe and Anna, and as the story is set over a period of about nine months or so, the relationship is given the time to evolve naturally.
I love that Julia and Ry (Nobody But Him), and Lizzie and Dan (Someone Like You) play such a big part in this novel. It's lovely to see how their relationships have developed past their 'happy ever after' endings.
Our Kind of Love is a delightful read and I have enjoyed the romance, drama, humour and heat that has characterised the trilogy. I'm a little sad to say goodbye to The Boys of Summer but I am excited to learn what we can expect next from Victoria Purman....more
“Your future is to become a respectable housewife and mother. Women belong in the home, and inside some man’s home you’ll stay.”
Set in the year 1900, “Your future is to become a respectable housewife and mother. Women belong in the home, and inside some man’s home you’ll stay.”
Set in the year 1900, seventeen year old Olivia Mead is a bright girl dreaming of one day going to university, but in Portland, Oregon 'respectable' women are still expected to desire little more than becoming wives and mothers. Olivia supports the voices of the suffragettes clamouring for the right to vote, to wear bloomers when they ride their bicycles, to choose education and independence but her father, a dentist, is appalled by his daughter's rebellious attitude and hires a young traveling hypnotist, the renowned 'Henri Reverie' performing in town to 'cure' Olivia of her 'unfeminine' dreams.
The Cure for Dreaming is an unusual tale combining a specific historical issue and era with a twist of the paranormal. Aimed at young adults, the plot and characters are fairly simplistic, yet it is a thought provoking read, sprinkled with an appealing mix of romance, horror, magic and mystery.
Henri modifies Olivia's father command for his daughter to accept society's demands of women somewhat by telling Olivia she will wake and the see the world as it truly is. Her new perspective is frightening and far from supporting her father's world view it shows faded and caged women, men with red eyes and sharp teeth and simply makes Olivia's belief in female emancipation even stronger. With help from a contrite Henri, Olivia eventually reclaims her voice and her dreams.
The setting is vivid and atmospheric and supported by the inclusion of half a dozen photographs from the period. For much of Winters' young adult audience the history about the rights of women is sure to be an eye opener.
A quirky and quick read, I think The Cure For Dreaming would be a wonderful choice for any mother/daughter book club in particular. ...more
There is nothing I love more than freshly baked bread. My one weekly indulgence is buying bread from my local bakery instead of plastic wrapped loaves There is nothing I love more than freshly baked bread. My one weekly indulgence is buying bread from my local bakery instead of plastic wrapped loaves from the supermarket. Occasionally I will also make my own dough to bake but since I don't have, and can't afford, a decent stand mixer it is a laborious process, made more difficult by the time it requires to serve up fresh baked goods exactly when you want them.
Make Ahead Bread by Donna Currie aims to make baking easier by dividing the process into two parts, allowing you to prepare the dough and then refrigerate it until a day or two later when you can bake it. This is a much more convenient method for busy people who don't have an entire day to devote to baking.
Currie begins with some useful advice about ingredients, equipment and methods to get the best from her 100+ recipes. The first chapter of the book starts with her recipes for loaf breads using wheat, sourdough or rye, both sweet and savoury flavoured such as Fresh Corn and Cheddar Loaf and Peanut Butter Spread with Raspberry Swirl. The next chapter explores Buns, Rolls & Breadsticks, then Flatbreads like focaccia. Her recipes for Pastries include Lemon Danish and Cinnamon Croissants. The final sections offers recipes to use with leftover bread like a Cherry and Goat Cheese Strata and recipes for flavoured spread combinations like Orange and Ginger, Cinnamon Honey and Wine Jam. NB: You can see a complete recipe listing HERE
The recipes are well laid out (even in my digital version) with clear instructions and ingredients lists. Not every recipe is accompanied by a photograph of the result, which is a bit of a shame I thought.
I've bookmarked quite a few recipes I plan to try like the Strawberry Jam Swirl Loaf, Pre baked Herb and Cheese Buns and Pineapple Sweet Cheese Danish. I will actually be making the Maple, Bacon and Onion Loaf later on during the week to contribute to a friend's BBQ - I'll have to retro post pictures.
There are only a couple of gluten free recipes so this cook book is not suitable for those with gluten intolerance. Some recipes seem quite simple, others fairly complex so I think it would suit a range of people from the first timer to the regular home baker interested in Currie's make ahead method.
Presented wholly in epistolary form, Dear Committee Members is a short, witty novel exposing the weary cynicism of an aging college English and Creati Presented wholly in epistolary form, Dear Committee Members is a short, witty novel exposing the weary cynicism of an aging college English and Creative Writing professor under siege from budget cuts, rampant bureaucracy, renovations, online forms and desperate students.
Over a year Professor Jason Fitger writes many letters, spurning the modern day convenience of email where possible, to complain about the lavish renovations occurring on the floor above him in the Economics department while the Humanties department slowly suffocates among the dust, to lobby whomever he can think of, enemy or no, to grant his favoured writing student a fiduciary break, and to recommend both past and present graduates, some of whom he has never met, for jobs they are wildly over qualified for.
Into each missive creeps increasingly brutally honest snippets of Jay's frustrations with his stalled writing career and his disastrous love life, his contempt for university politics, and his dismay at the dwindling esteem for language and literature. Though painted as an opinionated, surly curmudgeon, it becomes obvious that Fitger is also a passionate and dedicated teacher whom wants the respect he feels his department and its denizens deserve.
Bitterly funny and surprisingly poignant, Dear Committee Members is a scathing commentary on the foibles of academic administration, and an eloquent argument for the rescue of Humanties studies....more