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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Just Finished Reading … The Revenge Club by Kathy Lette. London: Head Of Zeus, 2024

 Four women, university friends, have reunited after many years. They have all become successful professionals. Jo is a special effects artist in Hollywood who has returned to London to work at Pinewood. Penny is a highly successful TV journalist who has been in war zones. Cressida was an actress until her ambitious  lawyer husband Rupert persuaded her to throw her energies into his career instead. Matilda, the Aussie of the group, is a novelist with fifteen successful books behind her, and a new one she is expecting to get a contract for, as usual. They are all very good at what they do. 

Unfortunately, they have all committed the crime of reaching middle age in a man’s world. 

Jo, who knows all about special effects, experiments with living as a man. She hasn’t transitioned, she just wants to see what will happen if she applies for the job she lost, as a man. 

It works. Now she has met her old friends, all of whom have lost their jobs because they are no longer young and attractive to their bosses, and one of whom, Cressida, has found her husband in bed with a pretty young thing. He doesn’t want a divorce, as that will spoil his chances of getting a job in the High Court, and makes her life difficult, to stop her divorcing him. 

This is the start of the Revenge Club, when the four meet to plot ways to make the men who wronged them pay for what they have done…

Kathy Lette is best known in Australia for the book Puberty Blues, written with Gabrielle Carey, which became a film and a TV series. She has written a lot more since then, but this is her most recent novel. I bought it after hearing the author interviewed on the radio. 

The novel is good fun, with an over the top story. I read it in a day and a night. I don’t read much mainstream fiction, but thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Definitely a story for anyone who enjoyed the film The First Wives Club

It has just been released, but should be available everywhere soon.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Just Finished Reading…Two Can Play That Game by Leanne Yong. Melbourne: Allen And Unwin, 2023


Teenager Sam Khoo has always dreamed of becoming a games designer. Her passion has kept her working in her room every spare moment, along with her best friend Aneeshka, also a games designer. One day, the two of them will move from Brisbane to start a studio together in Sydney. And she has a wonderful game, Vinculum, which she wants to show at a workshop with her favourite publishers. The only way she can get there is via a ticket in a limited edition game - and the last copy is snatched first by that dreadful boy, Jay Khua! But Jay is fair; he agrees to play a series of games with her. The winner will get the ticket.

The novel proceeds with the two of them playing those games and, along the way, getting to know each other and their delightful Malaysian families. The Malaysian community is pretty much like other ethnic communities - everyone knows everyone else, gossips and, in this case, decides Sam and Jay are dating, and plans out their future wedding…

Sam has a university scholarship which she wants to ditch in favour of spending a year working with a publisher on her games. Her parents want to see her with a backup that will let her get a steady job, marry Jay and maybe do games then if she wants. How does she tell them?

The characters are all likeable, no baddies in this book. Jay has a very good, unselfish reason for wanting that ticket. Because this is a YA novel, of course, it’s enemies to lovers. And Jay is worth having, as Sam discovers in the course of the story.

At the same time, she is justified in feeling that female game designers have a right to do what they’re good at. In the real world, female game designers do suffer from male harassment, such as the misogynistic Gamergate harassment campaign. However, that isn’t really Sam’s issue, though she and Aneeshka have been sneered at by male gamers in the past.

I enjoyed very much the introduction to gaming. The author knows her gaming and even shows the names of real life counterparts of the games in the book. Leanne Yong, an Australian of Singaporean and Malaysian background, works on escape room games as her day job and has done very well internationally. This is her first novel. It’s to be hoped there will be more. 

I bought this as a print book, but you can buy it in ebook or in your local good bookshop.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Just Been To See… Jay Kristoff


Tonight I went to the Wheeler Centre, which is located at the side of the State Library in the Melbourne CBD. It was the launch of Jay Kristoff’s new novel, Empire Of The Damned, sequel to Empire Of The Vampire, which I confess I have just started reading, when I heard this event was on. I have only read a small amount of his fiction before, but I’ve heard him speak at a library conference, and liked what he said. And the $45 to attend included a copy of the new book, which is not out yet; the date on the ebook is the 29th February. It has a beautiful cover. Here it is! 

I’m going to make sure I finish reading the first book now, after I finish a YA novel, Two Can Play That Game, which I’ve nearly finished and want to review.

As the titles suggest, the series is about vampires, but not vampires hiding from the sun and slayers - these vamps are running the country, in a version of France in what I think may be the 18th century, judging by the tricorn hats. However, he did say that “daysdeath”, in which the sun is hidden, was based on a true event in seventh century Russia. 

He began by entering the hall and walking down the aisle taking photos of the audience! 

At the end of the session he asked the audience to hold up their copies so he could take a picture. We all had one, of course, as it was part of the deal, so all of us held them up. I think he was quite thrilled to see so many fans in the hall - and there were plenty of fans, cheering for him as soon as he arrived. He said it was the biggest hall he had ever done a gig in, and it was fully booked. This is a writer whose books sell in the millions! 

He said some of his inspiration for his first novel was from Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire, only in his novel it was a vampire doing the interview! The novel begins with Gabriel, the protagonist, being condemned to death, but the historian of the vampire court, Jean-Francois, wants to interview him about his life.

I didn’t stick around for the signing, because it was going to take a while and to be honest, I am no longer into autographs. If I don’t like a book I can give it away without feeling guilty. Also, the trams are not heading my way due to track work and I had to get to the train station before it was too dark. But it was a nice evening. I did go to the nearby Max Brenner chocolate shop on the way, and had a very nice mocha before heading for the station. 

I suggest if you are interested you grab a copy of the first book before checking out the second. It should be available at your favourite web site. 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

A Guest Post by Author Jason Yachanin

 Recently I received an email about these books, two of a planned trilogy, and thought you might find the theme as interesting as I did. 


I’ll let Jason tell you about them. Go, Jason! 

A Guest Post by Jason Yachanin

I certainly never thought of myself as a writer. After graduating from a small Liberal Arts college in Ohio with a degree in Theatre, I moved to New York City with only one goal in mind: To become a working actor. From 2003 - 2015, this is exactly what I attempted to do. I had some success, but nothing that ever broke me through to that next level. The last job I booked was in 2015 when I landed a guest appearance on the popular CBS TV drama, Blue Bloods. I only had one line, but it was in a scene with Tom Selleck. That’s right… Magnum, P.I. himself!  

This is it. This is how I finally break through. Or so I thought… 

Fast forward two years later to 2017. Not a single acting job in the last two years, no auditions, and every agent I was freelancing with at the time decided to drop me from their roster. Needless to say, I was in a pretty dark place. It was my wife who finally encouraged me to go talk to someone professionally about this hole that I could not seem to dig myself out of. Thank GOD I listened to her, because It was the BEST decision I ever made. To quickly sum up my therapy sessions, he presented me with a challenge: 

If you really think you are meant to be doing something creative, but no one is hiring you, then you need to make a choice: Continue to wait for the phone to ring and, if it doesn’t, be miserable, or decide to create something for yourself. What’s it going to be? 

And this is how The Mysterious Happenings at 2 Morningview and The Mysterious Happenings on Hyde Avenue came to be. (With one more currently being written to complete the trilogy).  

As nervous as I was to create something entirely on own, there was something so freeing in the process. Not only was it great for my own mental health and keeping those creative wheels greased, but suddenly, I had total artistic control. This was something as an actor I was not really used to. I was so accustomed to getting my sides, going into the audition room, reading them a few times, and then waiting to see if I got a callback or not. I could have been the best one to audition that day, but it didn’t always matter. The final decision was never up to me. I could simply be passed over for a job because they wanted someone with curly hair and I have straight, spiky hair. Or, they wanted someone who was 5’10” and I am 5’9”. You just never knew why you did or didn’t get something - which could be frustrating. But now, for the first time ever, I wasn’t relying on anyone or anything other than my own imagination. And THAT has been so rewarding from a creative standpoint.    

The whole core of the story is based around my actual mom and dad’s strange nocturnal habits of staying up until around 4AM every single night. As a kid, and even as a teenager, I would always wonder: what the hell are they doing downstairs all night? Using this as the springboard to create my supernatural mysteries, book 1 (Morningview,) begins with my attempting to sneak downstairs one evening to spy on them, only to find that they are both inexplicably absent from our small suburban home. In fact, upon further investigation, my brother and sister are both gone as well. The only thing I can find is a strange eerie blue glow coming from under the door of my brother’s bedroom, and my father’s wedding ring, etched with strange markings that look like symbols of some lost, forgotten language…

I don’t want to give too much away, but I hope this will be enough to entice you to unravel the mystery for yourself. The trilogy is a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, set in 1996, my sophomore year of high school. If you are a fan of 80’s & 90’s pop-culture, punk music, skateboarding, and even a little bit of high school romance tossed into the mix, I really think you’ll enjoy my series. 

If you are a fan of horror films and would rather experience some of my work in that medium, you can find me in the indie-horror anthology, V/H/S, or the cult musical comedy, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.

 I want to thank Sue for allowing me to share my story with you. 

Stay Spooky!

~ Jason Yachanin

Instagram: @jasonyachanin23

Here are some links to sites where you can buy the books!

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