Book reviews, Womens fiction

Joan Smokes by Angela Meyer – Book Review

PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Winner of the inaugural Mslexia Novella Award (2019). 

She used to be someone else, but now she’s arrived in Vegas, where she can start again. It won’t do to let the past leak in. It’s the Sixties now. She’s going to become … Joan. She makes a list: Buy a new dress (fitted, floral). Dye her hair (dark). Curl it. Buy red lipstick. Buy cigarettes and a lighter, too: Joan, she decides, is a smoker.

There’s no need to dwell on why she’s here, what went before. She is just moving forward, one foot in front of the other, becoming that new person. Joan. This city of flashing neon, casinos and shows is full of distractions. Finding a job will be quick and easy. Things to do. New people to meet. A clean sheet. She’s certainly not thinking about Jack, or … No. Not anymore. Her new life starts right here, right now

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MY REVIEW 

“How does the mind learn to let things go?”

Set in the 60’s, an unnamed woman has arrived in Vegas, she’s calling herself Joan …and Joan with her floral dresses and dark hair …smokes, it’s what a Joan would do!

She will not think about the past, just walk to the future, one small step at a time…

What is Joan running from? What is so terrible, she hasn’t even found the right words yet to write to her mother in Australia?

This is a tiny book, a 68 page novella, but don’t let that fool you …this is something special. The tale of a woman on the edge of a breakdown, who thinks if she changes herself she can forget….it never happened did it? That was someone else? 

Incredible, sophisticated and emotion packed literature.

Thank you to Ruth Killick Publicity for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

due for publication December 2019

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Angela Meyer’s Joan Smokes won the inaugural Mslexia Novella Competition in 2019. Her short fiction has been widely published, including in Best Australian Stories, Island, The Big Issue, The Australian, The Lifted Brow and Killings. By day she works as a publisher for Echo Publishing, an Australian imprint of Bonnier Books UK, and in this role has discovered and developed a range of award-winning, globally published and bestselling talent, including global number one bestselling author Heather Morris. A Superior Spectre, Angela’s debut novel, is already shortlisted for a number of prestigious awards.

 

Angela Meyer is @literaryminded on Twitter and Insta. @literarymindedblog on Facebook. You can find her online at literaryminded.com.au where there are also some book club questions for A Superior Spectre.

Saraband is @SarabandBooks

 

Book reviews, Historical fiction, Science fiction

A Superior Spectre by Angela Meyer – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

 

“A brilliant, deeply unsettling work.” Books + Publishing

 

Jeff is dying. Haunted by memories and grappling with shame, he runs away to a remote part of Scotland with a piece of beta tech that allows him to enter the mind of someone in the past. Instructed to only use it three times, Jeff – self-indulgent, isolated and deteriorating – ignores this advice.

In the late 1860s, Leonora lives in the Scottish Highlands, surrounded by nature. Contemplating the social conventions that bind her, her contented life and a secret romantic friendship with the local laird are interrupted when her father sends her to stay with her aunt in Edinburgh. But Leonora’s ability to embrace her new life is shadowed by a dark presence that begins to lurk behind her eyes, and strange visions.

A Superior Spectre is a novel about curiosity, entitlement and manipulation. It reminds us that the scariest ghosts aren’t the ones that go bump in the night, but those that are born and create a place for themselves in the human soul.

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MY REVIEW

Jeff leaves his life behind in Melbourne, Australia to travel to Scotland with his Andserv robot helper and companion. He is dying, but has declined medical treatment.

He has, and uses tech that assigns you a hosts mind in the past, where you can see and feel what they feel, but they are unaware. He visits Leonora in the 1860’s…..in her mind …a time travelling parasite. I have to admit to disliking Jeff, as he was a self-indulgent, yet self pitying man whose desires control everything he does…with little thought for the effect he is having on Leonora’s mind.

Leonora is a simple kind soul, with a secret romance with the local laird, William. But her life is one of hard work and oppression as a woman in the 1860’s. The descriptive writing really brings this to life.

Jeff uses his invasion of Leonora’s mind to pass his own desires to her…..an abuse,  of male domination and as a result she feels she is possessed. It also shows society’s double standards when it comes to female sexuality, and promiscuity is seen as a mental illness.

A beautifully written, almost poet mix of historical, gothic fiction and sci-fi with real atmosphere and both likeable and reprehensible characters. Thought provoking and something rather special. I’m sure this will be a favourite amongst Book clubs everywhere. A definite must read.

Thank you to Ruth Killick Publicity for the opportunity to read this marvellous book for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

You can buy a copy here 

https://amzn.to/2N0LKrO

 

About the author:

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Angela Meyer’s Joan Smokes won the inaugural Mslexia Novella Competition in 2019. Her short fiction has been widely published, including in Best Australian Stories, Island, The Big Issue, The Australian, The Lifted Brow and Killings. By day she works as a publisher for Echo Publishing, an Australian imprint of Bonnier Books UK, and in this role has discovered and developed a range of award-winning, globally published and bestselling talent, including global number one bestselling author Heather Morris. A Superior Spectre, Angela’s debut novel, is already shortlisted for a number of prestigious awards.

Angela Meyer is @literaryminded on Twitter and Insta. @literarymindedblog on Facebook. You can find her online at literaryminded.com.au where there are also some book club questions for A Superior Spectre.

Saraband is @SarabandBooks