Recommended Reads For The Modern Gal Monday, Aug 16 2010 

There is absolutely nothing that beats the luxurious experience of reading a good book. A book can offer escapism, knowledge, fantasy and fun. It can save you from a bad mood or monotonous day in one articulately written sentence. It can also give you access to thoughts and ideas that you have never touched on before, and at times things that not only teach you but can make you a better person.

Now, I’m not going to go on to tell you to read Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Emily Brontës Wuthering Heights (though both true gems and are classics for a reason!) I am here to recommend a few books that I believe most young women should read – for different reasons.

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella (NZD$24.99 from Fishpond)

This is a hilarious, fluffy read for the “in-between” girls out there that are no longer teens, but not yet saddled with a mortgage/husband/2.5 kiddies etc. The heroine, the incorrigible Emma Corrigan, is a bubbly, early twenties girl with aspirations of a perfect life. There’s one problem – she tells little white lies to everyone she knows. To her boyfriend (he thinks she is several sizes smaller than she actually is), to her parents (she killed their goldfish, but replaced it before they cottoned on!), to her colleagues (never admits that it’s her that keeps breaking the photocopier) and so on and so forth. This is a fabulously funny book, adorably romantic but also highlights the failings of our society on the up and coming generation. The fact Emma can’t admit the small flaws to herself and the people around her, that she needs to skew things to make herself feel more of a success, is something I see in people every day. This is a good rainy day read, not too heavy, but I think has a good message to it.

Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-up Artists by Neil Strauss (NZD$39.99 from Fishpond)

Now, you may be wondering why the hell I would recommend this kind of book to women. Basically, knowledge is power, right ladies?

I heard about this particular book during a conversation with a male friend. He told me about Neil Strauss, a nerdy writer who couldn’t find love and so took it upon himself to meet the Masters of Seduction around the world. This book tells the story of how he became a part of this bizarre secret society, who he met and what he learned. (There are other books by Strauss that are more dating self-help types, but I think this one gives the better picture.)

Basically, this book goes through how a society of men have developed ways to manipulate women into sleeping with them. Ugly, boring, nervous, creepy, skinny, fat, sleazy, shy – no matter what the drawback of the male, these Masters of Seduction were able to show these ill-equipped men how to bed hot ladies that normally wouldn’t notice them. I read this book with utter fascination – was it possible for women to be manipulated this way? Certainly tricks and lines, gestures and clothing couldn’t get us to fall for someone totally not our type – right?! Well, as I read, I got that sinking gut feeling. Though not all of the tricks would work on all of us, there was real merit in what he was saying. I am glad I read this book – purely so I now know what to look out for! Ladies, beware.

The Game by Neil Strauss

He’s just not that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (NZD$23.99 from Fishpond)

I would be extremely surprised if you haven’t heard of this book already. It was a phenomenon a few years back, even made it onto Oprah! There has also been a movie made about it, and many a female discussion revolving around it’s teachings.

Basically, this book goes on the list because I know too many gals that haven’t read it when they really should have. This is a must read. A dating bible if you will. It’s not heavy, it’s not all about loving ones inner self. It’s a friendly prod to say – Girl, you are great, but if that guy isn’t asking you out? He DOESN’T WANT YOU! A little bit harsh, perhaps. But sometimes we need a bit of a slap in the face. I know too many girls who justify not getting a text from “that guy” for weeks, because maybe he lost his phone, or maybe he’s really busy, or or… You get the point. This book is brilliant. Makes you laugh, makes you cringe with self realisation, makes you open your eyes to the realities of dating. If he doesn’t call you, he doesn’t like you. If he only calls you at 3am for a drunken stopover after town, he just wants to f#%& you. Plain and simple. You’d think we could figure all of this out on our own, but sadly, when you mix emotions in with a woman’s thought processes, everything goes a bit whack. Hence, why all ladies should read this book!

Seriously!

He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

So there you have it… One book that is light and fluffy, one that depicts the inner workings of seriously screwed up men, and one that guides us poor ladies into the dating light (if you will).

Enjoy! More to come…

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Christine Feehans Books Thursday, Jan 7 2010 

Christine Feehan is, easily, one of my top authors. She writes fantasy so well that whenever I finish one of her amazing books, I go straight online to her website to find out when the next one is due out and pre-order it. (From MightyApe of course!)

Ahhh, where do I start? So many good series… 

The Drake Sisters:

Okay, one of my most beloved of all the series is the Drake Sisters. Seven sisters, born in Sea Haven and each with her own legacy and mystic powers. They come from a long line of witches – the seventh sister gives birth to the next seven sisters to continue the line. Each book follows one sister (from oldest to youngest) as they find their destiny – their one true love. Yes, these are romance books, but they are also filled with intrigue, action and fantasy. 

The sisters all live together, for the most part, in their family mansion atop the cliffs of Sea Haven, overlooking the sea. This mansion itself is magic, filled with the power and prophecy of the Drake line. As each sister finds the man they are destined to spend their lives with, the house welcomes them, protects them in much the same way as it does the sisters. As disaster invariably strikes, the sisters bind together and use their magic to fight evil and to keep their family, and town, safe.

What really makes these books great, apart from the prolific writing, are the characters. Each sister is insanely different. Their careers are extremely broad – marine biologist, model, singer, author, spy, doctor etc – and each of them are endowed with different magic powers, except for the youngest who inherits all of the magical traits. Their personalities are also completely different from each other, and yet together, they create such a fantastic family you wish you were part of it. The leading men in the books are also not typical – they have as many flaws (physical, emotional, morally) as they do strengths. But this causes each book, each interaction to be intensely enthralling. 

These books are about love despite the odds. Love for your soulmate, love for your family, love for your community and love for yourself. These books are so good, you just wont put them down. A truly MAGICAL read. 

The Drake Sisters Series

 

The Ghost Walkers:

This is a series that is as much thriller as it is romance. Millionaire scientist Peter Whitney has spent his entire life crossing all moral lines to achieve his goals –  going so far as to kidnap, torture and murder. Whitney supposedly dies, but with so many questions hanging around, it seems possible he has gone into hiding to stop the truth from coming out. When his daughter, Lily, finds out she was part of a group of girls kidnapped from an orphanage years ago by the man she thought was her loving father, she joins forces with Ryland, an elite soldier genetically modified by Whitney to find out exactly what her father and the U.S. government has been up to. 

What comes to light is that Whitney collected a group of girls over the years – girls that showed psychic abilities. He then modified them genetically, adding to their abilities as well as giving them new ones. He then threw these girls back into the world, in many different situations, to monitor how they coped. His second project was taking elite soldiers and modifying them – both genetically and psychically. Whitney’s cruel and calculating mind destroys basically everybody’s lives and yet…

Lily and Ryland go about finding all of the lost girls that were so severely mistreated and abused by Whitney, using the elite soldiers to track them down. Each book focuses on one of the “lost girls” and their trials and tribulations – until they meet the one thing that can make it all worth it. A man, a soldier, who can change their life, and heart, forever. 

So action packed, full of twists and turns – totally not your typical romantic read! These books are as detailed, smart and thought-provoking as they are sexy, romantic and heartwarming. You can’t help but feel close to each of the characters – each of them so hurt, so abandoned in their own way that you jump for joy when they are able to find happiness. There are eight books in this series so far, with (hopefully!) many more to come… I CAN’T WAIT!

Ghost Walker Series

 

Ghost Walker Series: Mind Game

 

Christine Feehan has a lot of other books too, that are just as wonderful as the two series I just mentioned. But, alas, I don’t want to rattle one too much… Just look out for the Dark Series (also known as the Carpathian novels) which are a new twist on vampires, and the Leopard Series. There are single titles too – have a look at her website! I promise you, if you like paranormal romance, this is the author for you!

Books by Rachel Gibson Tuesday, Jan 5 2010 

I’m a girl, and so to go with all of the stereotypes, I love romantic reads. One of my most loved authors of this genre is Rachel Gibson.

She has a whole series of books which are single standing, but each story is connected somehow to the other books, by either characters or places. 

Sex, Lies And Online Dating is one of the first of Gibsons novels I ever picked up. In it, Lucy is writing a dating novel and is doing research by going on random dates with men she has met online. She meets hilariously hapless losers, vain weirdos and lovelorn men with mummy issues. Then, on one impulsive date, she meets Quinn, a self proclaimed plumber who has yet to find “the one”. Lucy is blown away – she never expected to find a seemingly nice, normal guy (and especially not one so hot!). But Quinn has a secret: he is actually an undercover cop, trying to solve a murder case. There has been a series of murders that all lead back to certain online dating sites – and Lucy. Both of them continue this dance, neither of them trusting the other, while danger ensues. Men Lucy has been on dates with turn up dead, and Quinn starts to suspect her, despite falling for her at the same time. Lucy feels as though her life’s in danger, but can she trust Quinn? He has more secrets than knowledge on plumbing, but she can’t stop thinking about him. A modern day love story, mixed in with crime and drama and boatloads of humour. Buy this book – it’s a gem!

See Jane Score is another book that had me hooked. Jane is a petite, non-flashy journalist who is given the job to follow the Seattle Chinook hockey team for the season. Not a sports fan by nature, she studiously throws herself into learning everything “hockey”. The team doesn’t want her there – in their eyes, she’s a parasitic reporter and a woman – both things that apparently impact on the teams luck while playing. (Silly, superstitious men!) Luc, one of the hardest nosed players, especially resents Janes presence. She isn’t the kind of woman he normally likes – blonde, curvaceous and eternally slutty. Jane is small, a little plain, and has more brains than all of Lucs exes put together. They clash, Luc believing Jane is an uptight little girl with no imagination. Jane finds Luc absolutely frustrating and pig-headed, albeit gorgeous. As the team comes to accept her, and she gets to know the sport and its lifestyle, Jane finds fodder for her secret life – as Honey Pie, the magazine columnist that writes scandalous and sexy pieces for a popular magazine. An apples and oranges story, one filled with twists and turns and plenty of characters flaws – but wow! The love-hate magnetism between the two lead characters! And what’s sexier than a hockey team, coupled with a woman who isn’t your typical sex symbol but still manages to be every mans dream? Great book.

There are a whole heap of books just as good as these two – all funny, with strikingly different characters and wonderfully colourful plot lines. Go, buy, read – ENJOY! You can buy her books from most bookshops, or even buy online at Fishpond or MightyApe

Rachel Gibson and her Books

Evermore by Alyson Noel Monday, Jan 4 2010 

I love books. All kinds of books – which is why I also find myself reading the odd bit of young adult fiction. I went out the other day and spotted a book called Evermore by Alyson Noel, an author I had never heard of before. Reading the back, it seemed a little Twilight-wannabe, but I thought “Oh, I’ll give it a go.”

So I bought the first book (in a series of three, so far) and took it on holiday with me. I wasn’t expecting too much, but I really enjoyed it, and as soon as I could I ordered the next two on MightyApe.

Evermore is about a sixteen year old girl called Ever Bloom, who is the sole survivor of a horrific car accident that killed both of her parents and her little sister, Riley. Ever goes from a blonde, cheerleader type with a great life to a guilt-ridden, baggy-clothing wearing freak that lives with her rich but detached Aunt. Oh, and did I mention that since the crash where she sustained a massive head injury, she’s been psychic? 

She hears every single persons thoughts, more so on touch. She sits in school with her hood up over her head and her iPod on full blast, trying to drown out the nastiness of high school, the pain, the personal agonies. She cannot switch off her ability, sometimes finding the world too much to handle. Her two best (and only) friends, are Haven and Miles. Haven is a goth-emo-punk wannabe that just wants to be loved, and Miles is a fun, over the top gay guy. The three of them are the schools “losers”, but Ever doesn’t care. Her life is over, in her mind, as she holds herself responsible for the crash and wont forgive herself. The highlight of her day is that her dead sister Riley still visits her, still being as annoying as always, but will not inform Ever of where their parents are. Life continues on like this for a while…

Then one day, along comes Damen. Gorgeous, sexy, confident, worldly. Every female (and Miles!) jumps up and down for joy at the sight of this newcomer, except for Ever. Oh yes, she can’t help but drool over him too, but there is more to Damen than everyone else see’s. When Damen is around, when he touches her, the psychic voices fade away to nothing. He pulls flowers out of thin air, moves faster than should be humanly possible. Every little thing is noted by Ever, and even though she is suspicious of him, she falls very quickly in love.

Then things start to get dangerous, dark. People start to die, a woman from Damons past (Drina) turns up and steals away Haven, and Ever hits rock bottom and turns to alcohol to dull the pain of her life.

This book is for teens, yes, but it’s not soft and fluffy. It’s not an easy love story, and it’s not your typical Vamp page-turner either. It’s well written, you really feel for Ever and everything she has to go through, and the twists and turns are ones you would never guess. The characters aren’t perfect, but that makes it easier to relate to them. It’s a modern take on supernatural love, with mention of iPhones, The TV show Friends and MP3 players. 

If you have a teen queen (or king!) that loved Twilight, L.J. Smiths books or anything similar – then buy this series. If you are like me and find merit in just reading good books, no matter what the target audience is, then here’s the books for you! 🙂

Evermore by Alyson Noel

It’s Called A Breakup Because It’s Broken Saturday, Dec 5 2009 

Almost everyone goes through breakups. Whether it be because you have moved on, or they have, or because the other half is an a$#hole and cheated on you with someone else, it happens to the best of us. It hurts. It’s depressing. It’s completely consuming.

A few years back I went through a breakup and was having a hard time, when I stumbled across the book It’s called a breakup because it’s broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. This book is the BEST thing to read when you are nursing a broken heart.

It’s a self-help book, yes. But it’s not a rambling, over the top philosophical or even psycho-babble type read. It is a strangely honest, funny and awkward look into breakups and how they affect us. Both of the authors talk of their humiliating past breakups, of the idiotic ways they reacted and how it led them down a path of even deeper depression. But there are also letters from the public, sharing their stories and hurts, making you feel less alone and happy to have something to relate to. You don’t feel quite so pathetic, either, when you realise everyone else struggles to cope, too. 

The book advises you on what and what not do do after a breakup, from not calling them when you get lonely at 2 AM to getting fit and healthy, as opposed to drinking yourself stupid. The tips are really great, helpful to the nth degree. 

The authors main goal, and you can tell this as you are reading, is to make you feel like a sexy, wonderful person. They basically say – their (the ex) loss is someone else’s gain. They don’t tell you its silly to be in so much pain. They don’t tell you to just get over it, like some people in your life are inclined to do if they don’t understand the agony of heartbreak. They gently, and humorously, guide you through the steps to help you heal. They make you laugh, make you cringe at the mistakes of others facing what you are facing, and also help you move on without embarrassing yourself to that jerk, err, one that got away. 

So if you are getting over a breakup, or you know someone who is, I recommend buying this book. It isn’t expensive, and it does help. It’s funny how you can rationalise your actions when you are so emotional. Seeing some of your thoughts and actions written down in the stories of others snaps you back to reality quick-smart, and helps you move away from that dark place.

It's Called A Breakup Because It's Broken

Gentry Does It Tuesday, Nov 17 2009 

I love books that are embroiled in fantasy – supernatural creatures, other worlds, you name it, I love it. One of the best authors in this genre (In my opinion, of course) is Laurell K. Hamilton. 

Laurell has written a massive series about a vampire slayer called Anita Blake (17 and counting) This is no Buffy wannabe series. Anita is a short, impatient necromancer (raises the dead) who also works for the police. She carries a gun, she hates girly things and she is absolutely against dating men of other “species.” She goes on to fall for both a powerful vampire and an alpha werewolf. Life isn’t simple for Anita. She fights for her life, bones are broken, scars are earned and friends are lost. Every book leads her dangerously into a world she can never escape from. 

Thats one series by Laurell K Hamilton. The other, is about a woman named Meredith Gentry. She works for a fey detective agency in the human world. In this series, there are also faeries. The Fey, the Sidhe, the Seelie. The world knows of them, treats them like royalty, like celebrities. There is the Dark Court and the Light Court. Meredith is a Princess from the Dark Court, and ran away to the human world to escape the vicious full-powered fey from her court. Meredith’s powers are little and few, and she finds her life threatened in her mythical world. But then she is hunted down by both courts and is dragged back, given the opportunity to become Queen of the Dark Court if she can get pregnant and finally give the Fey fresh blood.

These books are gorgeously dark, violent and filled with sex. This is a series about a people who have been around for thousands and thousands of years – with histories unlike any we could ever imagine. There is beauty and horror, love and betrayal, pain (Lot’s of pain) and pleasure (Lots of that too!). Eight books in this series so far, and not ONCE do you get bored. Not once do you think “Oh this has been done”. This is so amazingly different, so well written and so powerfully character driven that I hop up and down with excitement whenever I hear a new installment is coming out. I never know which direction Meredith is going to go in this story. She isn’t perfect, and with so much threatening her, things get confused and change quickly. But you just can’t help but read on to find out what happens next. Will she live or die? Will she get pregnant before her sadistic cousin Cel knocks up someone else and kills Meredith just for kicks? Who is more evil? Meredith’s Aunt, the Queen of the Dark Court or Meredith’s Uncle, the King of the Light Court? Who should she trust? Who should she help?

Absolutely wonderful, beautiful, enthralling writing that changed my literary life. I advise anyone who enjoys reading, especially this genre, to give it a go.

Laurell K Hamilton's Books

Waiting for the New Moon Sunday, Nov 8 2009 

Okay, so the world is split into two fractions when it comes to this topic. Stephenie Meyers Twilight saga about the vampire Edward Cullen and the human girl he falls in love with, Bella Swan, has swept around the world drowning the likes of tweens and even their mothers with lust and fantasy.

Did I succumb? Damn bloody straight!

I first read Twilight (the first book in the series) when I was working in retail years back. I worked in a bookstore and all of the book reps knew I was into fantasy fiction. They would give me pre-copies that weren’t available yet to buy, and I’d let them know if I thought they were worth their salt. When I got given Twilight I was told it was teen fiction. With only the tiniest bit of interest I accepted it and it sat on my bookshelf for a few weeks, forgotten. Then, one friday night I came home from a party still wide awake and looking for something to keep me occupied. My eyes landed on Twilight and I picked it up. Well, I never put it down. 

I am not here to convince non-Twilight fans to give it a go. The furor over it is commonly known, and people can make up their own minds. But for me, the books (I of course bought each one as they came out) truly enriched my life. I adore the supernatural, and romance, so this saga spoke to me in great depth. 

The movie Twilight was the first time I loved a movie made from a great book. Is the movie better? No, of course not. But surprisingly, for the only time in my life thus far

New Moon Poster

The second movie in the Twilight Saga

, it didn’t matter. The low-budget flick with unknowns cast as my favourite literary characters gave me an escape to a place inside me that wishes for that kind of romance. The passion, the love, the absolute strength of the heart despite both the ordinary and extraordinary. 

Many of my friends, co-workers and family members feel the same way. As do hundreds of millions of people around the world. And guess what? This month, on the 20th, New Moon comes out at the cinemas. New Moon is the second movie adaptation of the saga, and I am bursting with excitement. Once again I get to transgress into the person I was when I was thirteen years old. The simple and utter elation I used to get when I was that age, over a first crush or some movie heart-throb, is similar to how these books/movies make me feel. I get to forget about the serious intricacies of my adult life. I let myself be washed away by a wonderful story about love, about insecurity, mortality and immortality. 

Does this make me a bit geeky? Perhaps. But to each their own and in a world filled with the horror of war, financial struggle and human evil, I find it marvelous to find something so wonderful and fresh. Something that makes me smile and reminds me to hope. To strive for passion in my own life.

Not such a silly series of books if it can do all that, don’t you think?