Welcome to my Den of Delights! Please make yourselves comfortable.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I'm a HUGE fan of Lisa Kleypas - she's one of my absolute favourite authors - and am very excited for her new Friday Harbor series book coming out in February 2012, RAINSHADOW ROAD!!!
LOVE the cover!  I love butterflies, and they have been a symbol of growth and hope to me for many years. I love the symbolism of how out of something ugly, with walls around it, something can be broken and out of it comes something beautiful. Reading the blurb for Rainshadow Road, especially the part below, I think this cover is symbolic:

“Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life—even after being broken—can be made into something new and beautiful.”
I also love blue/aqua and the ocean and so this cover is extra special to me...besides the fact that it's a new Lisa Kleypas book! *SQUEEEE!!!*
Please click on this link for a SNEAK PEAK of RAINSHADOW ROAD!!! http://www.lisakleypas.com/bookRainshadowRoad.asp 
I consider myself one of "Lisa's Divas" ...even though the official one, "a group of select fans who share info & content related to Lisa's novels and get sneak peeks & swag in return",  is unfortunately only open to US residents. :-( That won't stop me from spreading the word! :-)
To view my review for the first story in Lisa Kleypas' Friday Harbor series, a Christmas novella titled Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor, please see here:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

REVIEW: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

5 of 5 Stars

A Super Thank You to my dear friend Jennifer from San Francisco for bringing me this book on her trip to Australia!!! How appropriate that this book is set in San Francisco. ^_^ I loved the setting! Having been to San Fran 2 years ago, I liked that I had images of some of the places mentioned in the book, from experience, not just from seeing it on TV.

Oh. My. Anna and the French Kiss (Anna) was such a wonderful read – one of my favourites of this year – so I thought it highly probable that I would also enjoy Lola and the Boy Next Door (Lola). I was wrong. I freakin’ LOVED it!!!

What started off as an engaging and enjoyable enough read – I’ll be honest, I was thinking it was more of a 4-Star read for about the first half – had me up until after 2am, on a worknight, as I just HAD TO finish it . I was literally grinning from ear to ear and feeling elated and giddy as I drifted off to sleep. Dare I say it that I think I may even love it more than Anna? Hmm…Though I may change my mind again when I re-read Anna. Because I was certainly grinning silly after finishing Anna, too!

Lola is a sort of “sequel” to Anna. In Lola, we get to see Anna and Etienne, as secondary characters, in San Francisco attending college. Anna works with Lola at a movie theatre and Etienne St. Clair is, of course, wherever Anna is. These two are so cute together. I really wish the author didn’t have to keep reminding us readers, though, that St. Clair is short. We get it. He’s super cute and charming, with his adorable British accent…and short. Being someone short, myself, I just felt, is mentioning his height so often really relevant? Or maybe that’s just my own height issues coming out…Hmm… ^_^

Anyway, back to Lola…Lola is into costumes, in a big way. Every day is an opportunity to be different and she dresses in colourful outfits and wigs. Her dream is to one day win an award for Costume design for films. Her best friend, Lindsey Lim, is a Nancy Drew aficionado and wannabe. I liked how Lola and Lindsey were not your usual high school girls. They were different and interesting characters, but still relatable in their teen confusions and fears about love and relationships. Lola, attempting to assert her independence by going out with a twenty two year old rocker that her gay dads do not approve of. And Lindsey, determined not to get involved in relationships as it would distract her from her goals.

The story begins with Lola’s neighbours, the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, moving back into the neighbourhood. Lola and Cricket have history and their unresolved feelings shake things up for Lola.

I LOVED Cricket Bell … well, except for his name. ^_^ He is sweet, smart, adorable, caring and just so NICE....and not in a boring "he's nice" way but in a "how-can-you-not-love-him?!" nice way. He’s an inventor. It’s in his genes, being a descendant of the famous Alexander Graham Bell, who is credited with inventing the telephone. I really liked finding out some interesting alternate history in relation to Bell.

Cricket is 6’4’ (without taking into account his high hair) and lanky, though he’s filled out somewhat since Lola saw him 2 years ago. And we were told many times that Cricket is “tall”. Strangely, this didn’t bother me as much the mentions of Etienne being “short”. Hmm…It really MUST BE my own “short issues”, then, rising to the fore! :-P

I loved seeing Cricket come out from the shadow of his Olympic hopeful figure skater sister, Calliope. I liked how deftly Ms. Perkins enabled me, as a reader, to go from really disliking Calliope to actually sympathising with her.

Cricket is so romantic, in an unintentional way. He is so “there” for Lola and understands her and loves her for the colourful and creative person she is. There are some scenes about the moon and stars in here that some may find cheesy but had me positively sighing and swooning.

I loved how Lola understood Cricket, too, and how they both helped each other see that what they saw as inadequacies in themselves were the things that made them special and was what they loved about each other.

I loved how Ms. Perkins portrayed Lola’s and Cricket’s friendship, and their physical attraction and emotional connection to each other. I loved their dialogue and all their conversations across the space between their bedroom windows. Stephanie Perkins is adept at building the tension and longing between Cricket and Lola and she electrifies a scene with the significant looks and little touches between Lola and Cricket.

"And then...I'm aware of another presence.
Cricket stands behind me. The faintest touch of a finger against the back of my silk kimono. I close my eyes. I understand his compulsion, his need to touch. As my parents burst into congratulating Calliope, I slide one hand behind my back. I feel him jerk away in surprise, but I find his hand, and I take it into mine. And I stroke the tender skin down the center of his palm. Just once.
He doesn't make a sound. But he is still, so still.
I let go, and suddenly my hand is in his. He repeats the action back. One finger, slowly, down the center of my palm.
I cannot stay silent. I gasp."
Like Anna and the French Kiss, Ms Stephenie Perkins penned yet another sweet romance with likable characters.

I must say, though, that I do wish that YA book writers and/or publishers would stop with the “love triangles” already. It seems like it’s a “must” in YA books now and I really wish it wasn’t. Lola’s boyfriend, Max, starts out as a nice enough guy but turns into a real jerk in this book (which was a bit too easy), so there was no competition and no “teams” to take in this one. My main issue is that I don’t like having one of the characters being in a relationship with someone else when they are in love, or falling in love, with another. It takes away from my full enjoyment of the story as I don’t like reading about cheating. While there is no overt physical cheating going on in this story, there are emotions involved. And even if one of the characters in the relationship is a total jerk, it doesn’t make me feel any better about the situation.

I did, however, appreciate how Stephanie Perkins dealt with this from the point-of-view of having Lola realise she had done wrong by Max (and herself and Cricket) by being in denial of her feelings for Cricket and hiding her friendship with Cricket from Max. I loved how Cricket was such a gentleman, but he really struggled to keep away from Lola and wanted to be her friend, even though it killed him.

One other part in the story that I really appreciated, and which showed Lola's growth, was how Lola realised that she wanted to be "whole"/"full" before she could be in a relationship with Cricket, and I loved how understanding and patient Cricket was. I just love Lola and Cricket together!

Anyway...I suspect “love triangles” may be around for some time yet in YA, but I do hope it won’t be in Isla and the Happily Ever After! Pretty please, Ms. Perkins!! With Belgian chocolate on top? ^_^

That being said, did I mention that I LOVED this? Now I just hope I haven’t hyped it up!! This may not be a perfect book but it was a perfectly splendid book for me, right now.

Hmm… I better get to finally writing my review for Anna and the French Kiss now, hadn’t I?

On a more serious note, this particular scene below made me so teary and was scary because it is so true:
"Because that’s the thing about depression. When I feel it deeply, I don’t want to let it go. It becomes a comfort. I want to cloak myself under its heavy weight and breathe it into my lungs. I want to nurture it, grow it, cultivate it. It’s mine. I want to check out with it, drift asleep wrapped in its arms and not wake up for a long, long time.”
I know this feeling all too well.

P.S. I love the message in the Acknowledgements to the author's husband, and how he was her real life inspiration for a scene in this book in relation to Cricket and also Lindsey and her red Chucks. So cute! ^_^

My Lola (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) And 
My Cricket (Arthur Sales)
Lola, Costumer Extraordinaire.
Cricket, the cute, sexy inventor, and childhood sweetheart.

Lola is disconcerted when Cricket returns to the neighbourhood.
Lola's heart lurched the very first time she saw Cricket in pants. In nice pants. (She's also partial to his "difficult equation face" ^_^)
It hurts to look at Cricket looking so good in pants. ^_^

When she isn't wearing a wig, Lola is a brunette.

Cricket, he's sweet, reliable and his hair defies gravity.

And, boy, does he look good sleepy and disoriented, when Lola wakes him in the early hours by chucking bobby pins at his bedroom window.


Monday, November 28, 2011

REVIEW: A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

2.5-3 of 5 Stars

Did Not Finish

*WARNING: This review contains a SPOILER of a particular scene in the book which I had an issue with.*

This is a Cinderella re-telling.

I still haven’t finished this, after putting it aside for several months, and I’ve finally accepted that I don’t think I feel like finishing it. *sad sigh* :-(

I'm sorry, friends, I have tried to pick it back up a few times but just can't seem to keep reading.

I don’t know what happened. I think I just didn’t CONNECT with the characters in this book. I know a lot of my GRs friends really enjoyed this, though, and I’m going against the grain here… and not to detract from others’ love of the book… but I struggled with it.

I'm sorry, friends, I have tried to pick it back up a few times but just can't seem to keep reading. 

It was enjoyable enough to start off with; was pretty cute, in fact, but at the same time was all too easy for me to put down. And then… Well…I didn’t like that the prince was going to seduce, and had the heroine waiting in his room, while he had to go and entertain his betrothed princess at the ball. It made me incredibly uncomfortable.

I have forgiven cheating in books, before, because I had truly connected with the characters, felt really strongly for them, and was able to forgive them a grave mistake. But with this? I really don’t know…I just really didn’t like the thought of the prince actually having the woman he had fallen for waiting for him, in his bath, while he went off to meet and dance with another woman; the woman he was going to marry, out of duty. It did not sit right with me. I just didn't feel it fair to any of them. And I hadn’t really realised, at the time that I set it aside, how much this actually bothered me. But now when I think of this book, it's all I can think about, so I find that just can’t bring myself to continue reading to get to the actual love scene between Prince Gabriel and Kate.

This is MY issue and I feel bad for giving up on this book, but with all the books out there I want to read – there are SO MANY! - I just can’t bring myself to continue.

I also feel bad for giving it 2.5-3 Stars, but my rating is based not on an assessment of the author’s writing abilities, but rather on my own level of enjoyment of the book.

I’m sorry, Eloisa James. I will give your other books a go, though.

If you are a reader who hasn’t read this book, as I said, many loved/liked it, so you may, too.

I did, however, love these quotes (below) that Quinn had shared in her status updates On Goodreads and which enticed me to read this. There were some tingly moments between the hero and heroine, but just not enough interaction between them, for my liking, for me to connect with them and care about seeing their Happily-Ever-After.
‘"Do tell," Gabriel said. "Were they kissing the way we do?"

He had pulled off his cravat, and his shirt revealed a triangle of chest. It was vastly improper. Kate pulled her gaze away. "
We don't kiss in any particular way," she corrected him. "We may have exchanged a few kisses in the past, but --"

"We kiss as if the bloody room had burst on fire," he interrupted. "We kiss as if making love didn't exist and kissing was all there was.”’

‘He took the word from her lips. Their kiss was as untamed as the garden they stood in. It was the kind of kiss that skirted the edge of propriety even though his hands stayed at her back, and hers around his neck.

It skirted propriety because they both knew the kiss was like making love, that there was an exchange, a possession and a submission, a giving and a taking, a forbidden intimacy.’

Great quotes.

P.S. The “bosom friends” were funny. ^_^

P.P.S. Maybe one day I’ll go back and finish this, and maybe I’ll feel differently about it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Poetry: I Must Hide This Pain Away...

I Must Hide This Pain Away…

You told me the news,
I felt like I couldn’t breathe,
This sorrow buried inside,
Had its trigger to seethe;
This news should bring joy,
But I feel such immense sadness,
“Their having another baby”,
Was news that should have brought gladness;
It shouldn’t make me burst into tears,
But when we were pregnant first,
And lost our little one…
The day just felt,
Like my world had lost its sun;
Now, every single time,
News like this comes,
I hear a roar in my ears,
And my heart beating like from a distant drum;
It’s like my body is in shock,
It misses you, our sweet little Hope…
After almost three years now,
I should be able to cope;
But the tears can’t help but fall…
I remember when we were so excited to see,
Your little shape like a lentil,
Then, from such heart-filling joy,
It plummeted to a pain with a force so elemental;
 “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.”
“It’s not a viable pregnancy.”
“Not. A. Viable. Pregnancy.”
“NOT. Viable….”
My heart just stopped in that moment,
And in this present moment, I keep wondering, “When???”
When can I feel the happiness I want to feel for others?
When can I react normally once again?
Instead of feeling like I can’t breathe,
I hate feeling this way!
I’m so sorry to my joyous family and friends,
So I must hide this pain away…

~ By Jayne Michellane a.k.a Lady Jayne, 25 November 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Lest We Forget...Remembrance Day a.k.a. Poppy Day 2011

"Lest We Forget...
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old, 
Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn, 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, 
We shall remember them."

~ The "Ode of Remembrance" is an ode taken
from Laurence Binyon's poem "For the Fallen"

Today, on Remembrance Day a.k.a. Poppy Day, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (and the 11th year of the 2nd millennium) we remember all those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the official end of World War I on that date in 1918; hostilities formally ended "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.

I've always wondered why Remembrance Day is also called Poppy Day and decided to find out. 

In Australia, the red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields". These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war. 

Below are some very poignant and beautiful images I found for Poppy Day. I see the first image of the lone red poppy against a grayscale field as representing the stark aloneness that the fallen soldier must have felt on the field of battle. The second is our War Memorial in our capital, Canberra, with the names of the brave soldiers and the poppies left by the future generations to remember them for their blood spilled.  And the third is a field of poppies with the beautiful sun rays, to me, symbolising all these fallen soldiers in beauty of the Afterlife. 

The poppy has become a truly powerful image of the sacrifice for freedom to me now.

We will remember them...


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Inspiration of the Moment - Risks

Hi All,

I'm sorry that I've been MIA for a while. Been super busy - Had my parents visiting from overseas, and have also been busy planning for a trip to Melbourne and then along the Great Ocean Road back to Adelaide with some lovely friends from overseas, who I'm very excited to see, soon. I can't believe I didn't post at all for the whole month of October! Where has time gone? Anyway, I'm so behind on my reviews, so I thought I'd ease back into my blog with a great quote.

I'm a planner. I make lists for everything. I think it's because I like having control over parts of my life that I can have control over. I like to be prepared...and... I admit it, I have a fear of the unknown. Like this upcoming trip, I have such a detailed plan of the places we're going to, a list of all the dining options and all the driving times to each place... I even have pictures of all the places! LOL I like having my visuals, what can I say. ^_^

I've never driven along the Great Ocean Road before, myself, and I just want to get in as much of the sights as we can; to make the most of it for my overseas friends, who are coming to Australia for the first time. But that doesn't mean I'm not willing to be spontaneous and go off the planned path if it's necessary or if it feels right. Plans are just guides...and things do not always go as we expect. Sometimes, we need to take a risk... Which brings me to my quote/inspiration of the moment...  

"Risks... How we feel about them, says a lot about us. Every day, every moment, we calculate and assess, debate and decide. But when you get right down to it, the truth is, that when it comes to risk, the only thing that matters is that you take the ones that are right for you." 
~ Erica from Being Erica (TV show)