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Review: Enchant: Beauty and the Beast Retold (Romance a Medieval Fairytale #1) by Demelza Carlton

A beastly prince. An enchanting beauty. Only love can break the spell.
Once upon a time…
The wicked King Thorn forced the enchantress Zuleika to cast a terrible curse. She fled his court to travel the world, helping those who need her magic most. Until a search for her merchant father’s lost ships leads her to an enchanted island, where Prince Vardan, the island’s ruler, is afflicted by the most powerful curse Zuleika has ever encountered. She’s not sure she can reverse the spell, but she’s determined to try. After all, a prince who fights pirates can’t be all bad…no matter how beastly his appearance.
Together, can the enchanting beauty and the beastly prince break the spell?

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With the live action film Beauty and the Beast set to hit screens in only a few short weeks (yes I have my Chicks at the flicks tickets already) I was excited to read this retelling of a much loved old tale. Now I do not know about you, but when I read a name, I often read it all kinds of wrong. The MC of this story is named Zuleika, now this was not an easy name to wrap my head around, my brain read it as Zoo-lee-ka, I hope that is right. If not, my apologies to Demelza Carlton.

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Zuleika is the ‘Belle’ of this story and a witch, the same witch that is responsible for the curse on the prince. This twist was a fantastic set up to the story, and her conflict with the king was a fantastic way to steer the story towards the prince without feeling like you were just going through plot setup.

About 1/3 in, Zuleika is faced with the beast and the town he lives in, and it is then that she should have known it was her curse immediately, but for some reason she doesn’t figure it out herself till much later on. I would have liked to have her acknowledgement of her curse to herself as soon as she sees the beast and the town. Then the conflict with trying to figure out if she should, or how she can remove the curse could unfold in a more believable timeline.

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In all stories we need to get a feel for who the MC is and what drives them, I would have loved to get to know Zuleika better before being thrown into the Belle/Beast plot line, but Demelza has still managed to create likable characters that are both believable and engaging none the less.

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I enjoyed the overall plot, but did feel like it was missing some heft in the middle of the story.  Perhaps another 10,000 words could have helped me to feel stated, but that does not mean I did not enjoy it. A good book should have you wanting to read more, but a great book has you feeling like the story was played out and wishing you could go back to a time where you had not began the story, just so you could start over and experience it all again for the first time.

A solid 3.5 stars. I took one star off for the unfulfilled potential of the story itself, and a half star off for the title. ‘Enchant’ though on the cover looks really pretty, the word itself is a little too sharp for me, especially with such a heart warming story. Read it if you love retellings, or just need a Beauty and the Beast fix before the live action hits us in a few weeks.

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 Rebecca Bosevski is the author of Enchanting The Fey, a fairy tale for grown-ups. She lives on the sunny coast of Australia with her husband and three children. When not writing she will often be found with her nose in a book. you can find her on Facebook here.

Bring Back the Romance!

Love Tree

Lately, I’ve been looking for good, old fashioned romance. Stuff where you go “Aww” and when you’re done, you feel lighter, and like the world isn’t such a bad place after all. Like Meg Ryan films.

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But instead, everywhere I look is sex, sex, insta-lust, and sex.

I’m a huge believer that love is more than butterflies and head spining excitement. Sometimes love is boring, and gross, and downright hard. But true love, the kind that endures, is made of those crappy moments and how people overcome them.

When reading books, I read to escape the crapy-ness of life. I want a romance that’s realistic, but ends with a promise of happily forever after. Not issues. Not abuse. Not sex. Real romance, real love, is about dignity, respect, loyalty, integrity, selflessness, and forgiveness. But it’s like everyone has forgotten that because “sex sells.” Bah! No wonder kids today are so screwed up.

So share all the sweet, heart melting, never-ending love romances my way, books, movies, whatever. I think it’s time true love was given it’s real meaning back.

Young Couple in love

 

 

Katie Teller

Katie Teller is a writer of NA fiction. Her debut, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, has sold more than 50,000 copies. You can find out more about Katie, the Kiya trilogy, and her other books on twitterfacebook, instagram or at her own blog.

For the Love of Libraries

To celebrate V-Day, here at Aussie Owned, we’re dedicating the month to love. And how can we talk about things we love without giving libraries a mention?

Most book worms can track their love of reading (or writing!) back to these houses of art. Growing up, Heather used to BEG to go to the library, so her Mum caught on pretty quick and this became her good-behaviour treat.

Heather’s local library was a standard, small space, with mostly donated books and little government funding. The shelves were a definite safety hazard, the books were falling apart, and the whole place had that funky kind of smell that hangs around a constantly damp place.

And she loved it anyway.

Rebecca grew up with much the same in way of her local library, but she never had to beg to go there. Her mother was quite happy to take her and her two sisters at least once a week; she shared in Rebecca’s love of books, often borrowing on Rebecca’s card when her own had maxed the ten per person limit.

Libraries have forever been a place full of hope. Full of magic. A place where we could go and escape the horrible things in the world.

Below are some pics of our favorite libraries that not only house magic, but seem to generate it as well. A far cry from the ones many of us grew up with.

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Heather – Recognise this one? Okay, so it’s not real BUT we don’t know a book worm alive that didn’t grow up coveting this very room. When my hubby turned a room of our house into a study/library, complete with globe, I felt just like Belle. (Also, It looks nothing like this. But I pretend.)

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Heather – *sigh* Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a favourite of mine during those awkward teen years. Having always heard that loving books made you a nerd, this was the first time I was confronted with a beautiful, strong, fun woman, who liked to read. Audrey gave me the confidence I needed to shrug off the haters.

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Rebecca – This is the Library I coveted growing up. My school library was NOTHING like this. Do you recognise it? I will give you a clue; It ‘slays’ me how awesome libraries are, even if not a lot of school borrowing took place in this one.

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Rebecca – This is my dream home study/library. The wall to wall shelves, the fireplace, the second floor complete with intricate ballastrade and the wingback chairs all invite you in. Don’t you just want to grab a book and curl up and read by the fire?

Now we have shown you ours, what libraries do you love? Were you one of the lucky few who has ventured to their dream libarry, or have you created your own at home?

Are you an Aussie YA writer?

If so then we want you!

It’s not often a contributor place opens up on an established blog, but that’s exactly what has happened here at AO&R. With several changes at the end of last year, we’ve found ourselves a blogger short and because we want to make sure there’s a steady supply of fresh material for our readers we’re looking to fill the hole.

It’s a monthly gig and you need to meet two criteria to jump on board.

  1. You need to be an Aussie, because well … we are Aussie Owned.
  2. You need to be a writer of either young adult or new adult fiction, because that’s what we’re all about.

If you think this sounds like you please get in contact with us at aussieownedandread [at] gmail {dot] com Except you know, without the brackets and spelled out “at” and “dot”. 😉

We can’t wait to hear from you!

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Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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I am, you are, we are Australian

Today, in celebration of Aussie Owned and Read’s fourth birthday, we’re talking about being an Aussie author — why we love it and why we set our books where we do. (Note: The feature image above is from Shutterstock and is used under licence.)

Rebecca Bosevki

Australia has a plethora of inspirational people and places. We are a mostly relaxed culture and that makes for an optimal writing environment. I love reading stories and recognising an Australian landmark, and so too love to put such things in my writing. For those who live here they can see instantly the environment I write about, and for those who don’t, I love being responsible for instilling an impression of what our county is like …even if we don’t really have portals to magical lands hidden in our public parks.

Heather M. Bryant

All the fantasy worlds I create are set in fictional cities that exist within a greater real-world setting. I have two set in America, one set in the country Georgia, and another planned out and set in Australia. I love experimenting with these worlds because I get to research countries and places I previously knew nothing about, and then use those cultural influences to create a world purely my own. I like to think of it as a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario.

Lauren K. McKellar

I love being an Aussie author for many reasons! Firstly, in our country, there are many opportunities to sub to major publishing houses without first acquiring an agent, making access that much easier (although having an agent sure doesn’t hurt!).

Secondly, as our writing community is rather small, it’s quite supportive. I’ve met so many lovely authors and writers who are absolutely lovely and happy to talk to you based on the fact we’re all from the land down under — how cool is that?

Thirdly, if you’re looking for location inspiration, we have it in bucketloads! From beaches to rainforests to deserts to cityscapes, we have it all, making for lots of exotic and interesting places to write about.

I always set my stories locally for this reason, and a few others. They say ‘write what you know’, and I’m confident I know this country well! I also like setting novels here as a way to introduce those from overseas to Australia and our beautiful beaches. In some ways, we’re a great relatable choice — far enough away to be foreign, but similar enough to the UK and USA to have a sense of the familiar, like sliding into a nice warm bath. Although at this time of year in Australia, you sure don’t want to be doing that.

Overall, I love my country and I love writing here. While we may not have some of the opportunities those overseas do, I think we’ve got it pretty darn great.

Stacey Nash

When asked for a paragraph on why I set my books where I do I was a little stumped on how to answer. You see, as well as the two series I have published I have several works in progress that are more in the vein of the Collective Series than my contemporary NA, the Oxley College Saga. Most of my writing falls into the speculative fiction basket — fantasy worlds and distant planets, sometimes both at once.

I find there’s a certain freedom to explore and discuss some of the big world issues in these fantasy worlds that just isn’t possible in a real world setting. Plus, writing in a hundred per cent fictional setting gives me so much creative license. You want a red sky and green sun? Got it. Giant bell shaped plants that eat people in a single gulp. Done. How about a night that lasts for a week? Easy peasy. My imagination is limitless with speculative settings and I love it!

But then sometimes all that imagining gets a bit too much and that’s when I turn to my Aussie-set new adult series. Writing new books set in a familiar environment, with established rules, feels like a breeze and that is just the reprieve my tired muse sometimes needs.

Beck Nicholas

The more books I write, the more my stories become firmly set in Australia. It’s part of my voice and my experience. My next story includes a road trip along the Great Ocean Rd (a trip I’ve done myself a few times) and I’m reminded what a great country we have. The beaches in particular have always been a part of my life and feature often in my books. I’ve spent some time on a farm too and there’s that particular country feel in Australia that is unlike anywhere else. My first readers are Aussie teens and I want to speak to them; however, I’ve also head great feedback from readers the world over who love Australian settings. It’s my home and I love it. I adore travelling and will definitely include more of my experiences in coming books, but I know myself and my writing will always have a link to home.

Cassandra Page

I’m a speculative fiction writer, but five of my six completed novels have been urban fantasy — and all five have been either partially or fully set in Australia’s capital, Canberra. There’s a certain amount of ‘write what you know’ behind that decision, as well as a love for the city that means I want to see more of it in fiction. I love Canberra’s  wide open spaces; the grassy nature reserves throughout the city provide a perfect avenue for more nature-loving supernatural types to get around (a factor when I wrote the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy). And over the past couple of decades the city has become a lot more cosmopolitan, so there are avenues to tell maturer stories like Lucid Dreaming. Also — and I’m getting super-braggy here — Canberra one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. The manicured lakes, the glorious sunsets over the Brindabella mountain ranges, the national monuments — I’ve been inspired to set particular scenes in places all over the city.

And no, I haven’t used federal politics as a plotline in any of my books! Boooor-ing. :p

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Review: Tainted Blood (Dramir #1) by Yajna Ramnath

Welcome to Dramir, a city where the blood never stops flowing

The streets of Dramir have always been protected under the rule of the reigning King. It was all because of his not so secret weapon.

A weapon they called the assassin. A weapon with long-dark hair, savage soulless eyes and a body built for sin.

She wielded a sword as one would breathe air. She danced in blood as one would dance in rain. She laughed in the face of death as one would laugh at a bad joke.

It was believed that the day the assassin experienced emotion, the world of Dramir as they knew it would crumble under the force of her shattering heart.

How could you break the heart of someone who had long since lived without one?

How could you fight against the darkness when she forced light to do her bidding?

Most importantly how could you hide, when she came looking for you?

 

Tainted Blood is fantastic. I did not know that it had been previously published and then rewritten before being released under this title, and to tell you the truth, I prefer this title, cover image and story line better than the original.

Atalia is a likable MC and her voice is consistent throughout. A kick-ass warrior type, she cuts off heads without a second thought and goes right back to what she was doing prior, no hesitation and certainly no remorse. Ramnath does a fantastic job of portraying Atalia, her lack of emotion and her overall queen-of-cool self.

Nathaniel Drake I did not like from the beginning and enjoyed the end of his story-line immensely. However, I thought there could have been a few more interactions with him throughout the story before the final chapter.

Cassius is one of those characters you think you have a handle on, but then realise at the end of the book, that you really don’t know all that much about them. This doesn’t distract from the likability of the character, but does leave me hoping his story is explored more in any sequel that may follow.

Shayur is even less memorable, and I feel his character could have been combined with his father’s with little to no effort or effect on the overall story-line.

The other characters played their parts well enough to push the story forward, but didn’t stand out to be overly memorable for any particular reason. This is not a bad thing. The story focuses on Atalia for the most part, and though at times Ramnath glossed over parts of the story where I felt like there could have been more, the end result was an enjoyable read, and I will recommend it to all those who is in need of an explosive fantasy fix, that mixes vampires, shifters and witches with gods and mythology.

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Overall a 3.5 star book bordering on 4 stars. I hope to see more from this author in the near future.

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 10.45.01 PMRebecca Bosevski is a speculative fiction author living on the east coast of Australia. Her debut novel, Enchanting the Fey, is the first in a trilogy and combines old world Fey magic and a sassy contemporary main character.

 

 

Celebrate the End

We’ve just about hit the end of the year. I’ve just finished writing a book and I’ve just had to say goodbye to my beloved 17yo dog Matty. Lots of ending happening here.

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I tend to find endings bittersweet as an author and reader. Saying farewell to the characters (forever or for now) can be sad. Like this year, I tend to race to get to the end then wonder where the time/book went.

So today I wanted to share five awesomeness things about book endings (and hope you guys can help with more):

  1. The chance to reflect on the story as a whole as the author intended instead of only seeing a fraction
  2. The satisfaction of knowing who done it/how the character got out of or not the messy situation. Hopefully there’s that sigh as I close the final page…
  3. The ability to once again visit (briefly) the real world (I tend to get a little book obsessed)
  4. No one can spoil it for you anymore
  5. THE NEXT BOOK (of course)!

Any other thoughts on why we should like endings?

🙂

Beck

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I always wanted to write. I’ve worked as a lab assistant, a pizza delivery driver and a high school teacher but I always pursued my first dream of creating stories. Now, I live with my family near Adelaide, halfway between the city and the sea, and am lucky to spend my days (and nights) writing young adult fiction.