Wild One by Jessica Whitman

I received a copy from the publisher for review

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Title: Wild One

Author: Jessica Whitman

Genre: Popular Fiction

Publisher: Allen & Unwin Arena

Published: 24th August 2016/September 2016

RRP: $29.99

Format: Trade Paperback edition

Pages: 320

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: Love, scandal and seduction in the glamorous world of polo

 

When Katherine ‘Kat’ Parker wrote and directed a blockbuster movie she became Hollywood’s ‘It Girl’ overnight – until with one flop she wasn’t. Now Kat is back living in Florida trying to find the inspiration to write what she hopes will be her comeback screenplay.

 

Despite being an exceptionally talented polo player, Sebastian Del Campo has never shared his famous family’s intense passion for the sport. He has, however, excelled at other polo-related activities – like partying hard and having liaisons with beautiful women.

 

When Sebastian meets Kat he finds her down-to-earth attitude refreshing. Keen to get to know her better, he regales Kat with stories of his trailblazing grandmother, Victoria, who was a pioneering polo player.

 

Kat’s imagination is fired by Victoria’s story and she realises she’d make a great subject for a screenplay. Seb agrees and the pair head to Hollywood to seek out funding for a film that could make or break both their careers – and their growing feelings for each other . . .

 

Fun, sexy and entertaining, this novel is about taking a risk to follow your passions in life – and love.

 

~*~

 

Usually, I am not a big reader of romance, at least when it is the main plot. Kat’s story opens with a meeting with someone in the movie business as she is trying to re-establish her name in Hollywood after a flop at the box office. She returns home to help her parents, where she meets the Del Campos, a wealthy family in Florida involved in the polo circuit. Kat’s first encounter with the talented Sebastian Del Campo comes rather quickly, and a relationship begins to build, with Kat trying to focus on writing a new screenplay that will hopefully get her back into the good graces of the film-making industry. This is the plot point that appealed to me, and that I really enjoyed reading and wanted more of. It had a lot of promise and potential to create a great story and evolution of the characters. I also wanted more of the story behind Kat’s story – the story of Sebastian’s grandmother and her time as a polo player. I wanted to see this in action, maybe through flashbacks.

This is the perfect novel if you enjoy romance novels or if you just want a quick read. The length of the chapters had me reading so fast, I didn’t realise it, but the pacing felt right for the novel and its style and genre. It may not have suited my tastes, however, but this is a personal decision. What was refreshing was that the initial description of Sebastian sets him up to be the bad boy trope. He isn’t really a bad boy, however. He doesn’t want to hurt Kat once he has met her, and perhaps this is one redeeming feature – that the heroine doesn’t feel the need to chase him or fix him.

There are other aspects that are good: the characters want things to work out for the best; they don’t want to hinder anyone, or ruin things. As a romance novel, it was refreshing to see that some tropes and stereotypes were avoided, but not all. It would still fit comfortably on a shelf of romance novels, though, and has been properly geared towards the intended audience of the novel.

I would recommend it for avid romance fans, or people just looking for a few hours of escapism – it fits into both of these categories nicely.

 

 

The Farm At The Edge of The World by Sarah Vaughan

isbn9781444792294

 

 

I received a copy from the publisher for review

 

Title: The Farm At The Edge of The World

Author: Sarah Vaughan

Genre: Fiction/Historical Fiction

Publisher: Hachette/Hodder and Stoughton

Published: 28/6/2016

RRP: $32.99

Format: Paperback

Pages: 400

 

Synopsis: 1939, and Will and Alice are evacuated to a granite farm in north Cornwall, perched on a windswept cliff. There they meet the farmer’s daughter, Maggie, and against fields of shimmering barley and a sky that stretches forever, enjoy a childhood largely protected from the ravages of war.

 

 

But in the sweltering summer of 1943 something happens that will have tragic consequences. A small lie escalates. Over 70 years on Alice is determined to atone for her behaviour – but has she left it too late?

 

 

2014, and Maggie’s granddaughter Lucy flees to the childhood home she couldn’t wait to leave thirteen years earlier, marriage over; career apparently ended thanks to one terrible mistake. Can she rebuild herself and the family farm? And can she help her grandmother, plagued by a secret, to find some lasting peace?

 

 

This is a novel about identity and belonging; guilt, regret and atonement; the unrealistic expectations placed on children and the pain of coming of age. It’s about small lies and dark secrets. But above all it’s about a beautiful, desolate, complex place.

 

~*~

 

The Farm at The Edge of the World tells a dual story about the same family. Maggie’s story spans seventy years, and is intermingled with the contemporary story of her granddaughter, Lucy. Lucy has escaped to the farm after a relationship breakdown and is on leave from work after making an error that could have had disastrous consequences.

The intrigue of the novel is woven throughout the narrative, switching back and forth at the right time to keep the reader engaged. The use of different tenses for the different time periods is effective, allowing the reader to take note of the past versus the present. As Maggie recalls the days of the war and the presence of the evacuees, Will and Alice, and what led to a betrayal that could never be forgiven, Maggie’s granddaughter, Lucy, hopes a visit to the farm will help her work out what she needs to do with her life, and help her heal some wounds from a broken marriage and near-tragic mistake.

Over the course of the book, both Maggie and Lucy grapple with secrets and struggles that have made them who they are, and impact their emotions in the book. The opening of the book invites the reader into the mystery, wanting to know more as the story unfolds. As the book climaxes, and secrets come out, the family begins to heal and understand what has driven Maggie to want to keep the farm, rather than sell it. When reading this story, I was transported to a part of the world I wish to visit, and to a past time when expectations were different, when war plagued the world but human emotions and desires were very much the same.

Reading this book was a joy, and not quite what I expected, but in a good way: it had history, romance, conflict – a variety of themes that created a well-rounded story, that had more motives for the characters to give them more drive, which made reading it a delight and far too easy to keep reading late into the night. Sarah Vaughan has written a beautiful novel. Using World War Two, and the evacuee situation as a backdrop made the novel enjoyable.

E-books versus paperbacks: Which is better?

I wasn’t going to write a post on this because if people are reading, does it matter if it is a paperback, hardcover or e-reader? I come down on the side of no, because I read all formats. I rarely read e-books, only if I am reviewing for someone and I have a couple to read and review, or when travelling. However, an e-book takes me longer to read than a paperback and here’s why:

I spend up to four hours a day between Monday and Friday each week reading and writing for university online, so at least three articles, typing notes, typing journal entries and writing exercises and any additional assignment work and discussion board work. This is the way my study is structured and it is fine, but then I need a break from the screen. It’s as though after some time reading on a screen, my brain and eyes just don’t want to do it anymore and the words start to move and swim.

So I turn to my physical books. These give me a nice break from the screen. And I don’t have to charge them. I found that e-book reading can limit me in reading time – I have to wait for my e-reader to charge to use it once the battery is flat – I have tried reading whilst it charges and it tells me to wait. If all my books were on a device, I’d feel very lost if I couldn’t read. Charging is temporary and easily done but what happens when the device no longer works? How do we read when we have no other options if we are waiting for it to be fixed or replaced? Surely those avid readers would never be able to cope without their books.

This is why I have a collection of e-books, paperbacks and hardcovers. I have no audiobooks – at first they never appealed to me, and I have also found none that I want. There is also the chance that I would get distracted by other things if listening to them – I’m not sure why as I can watch TV and read. But e-books and paperbacks – if I have a choice, always the paperback, and always from a bookstore – even online ones if I need something specific or want a specific store I have no access to. In-store is preferable though, and I am cultivating a good relationship with the manager at least of my local bookstore, always happy to chat and get in an extra copy of that new release I want if they aren’t getting many copies.

The answer? I’m not sure there is a winner, just personal preferences. Paperbacks have the benefit of being able to lend them to people and you still have something to read. If a household only has one e-reader and several people want to read the same book or series, you have to wait in line and not read whilst other people are using the device. This is definitely something that could work against the e-reader.

My personal preference is physical books. I’ve only recently, in the last few years, read e-books so for over twenty years, only had physical books, apart from a few text books on the old CD ROMs for school that were terrible to use and probably why I’m not a huge fan and convert to e-books, and maybe why I would get defensive when told I should just have all my 1000 plus books on e-book. My other issue is that there might be some books not in e-book just yet – for whatever reason and having physical books when writing an essay is much easier than jumping between multiple windows.

In the end though, if a format works for you as a reader, then it works for you. We can’t say what will work for everyone finitely because we all read differently. I hope to be able to keep my paperback collection for years because it’s part of who I am, it’s how I learnt to read, and if I am truly honest, I feel I pay better attention to the paperbacks than the e-books because I feel like I skim more when reading the e-books.

Verdict: Don’t let anyone tell you the right or wrong way to read because you know what works for you.