Ayesha’s Gift is a book that could also be called “Ayesha’s Curse” because it is brimming with sorrow. It’s the fictionalised account of the real-life events that saw Philomena author and former BBC foreign correspondent, Martin Sixsmith assist in investigating the death of a British-Pakistani man. The book is ultimately a rather multi-faceted detective tale where a murder is solved, cultures collide and a kind of quiet respect, empathy and trust is forged between two unlikely main characters.

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If you’re looking for a wonderful romance novel to consume on Valentine’s Day then To Capture What We Cannot Keep is a worthy candidate. This historic fiction book by Beatrice Colin is a good, old-fashioned love story set in the 19th century in Paris after building has commenced on the Eiffel Tower. Some of the real-life characters star in this novel and at the end of the day it’s the kind of tale that makes you realise why Paris is considered the city of love.

The story’s main character is the complex but likeable, Caitriona Wallace. She’s a young and mostly smart widow from Scotland. Her husband succumbed to an untimely death so in order to make ends meet she agrees to chaperone two annoying, little rich kids to Paris. Nice work if you can get it!

Catriona’s charges are the disorganised, lazy and privileged lady’s man, Jaime and his flighty younger sister, Alice. The latter is silly and quite often obsessed with appearances and keeping up with the Jones’s. There are quite a few occasions where Alice feels like she could be considered Lydia Bennett’s (Pride & Prejudice) Scottish clone. The similarities to Austen’s novel do not end there, as Colin’s work is also a multi-faceted one where love, revenge, lies, society and manners are all deftly-tackled, albeit in a historic setting.

This story looks at the burgeoning romance between the low-class, Caitriona and Emile Nouguier, a Frenchman who is an engineer working on the Eiffel Tower and a member of high society. The two have to keep their courtship a secret due to their marked differences in social standing. There is also pressure from Nouguier’s elderly mother because she wants her son to be betrothed to the “right girl.” These ingredients make for a beautifully-written slice of sexy escapism where rules are broken almost as often as they’re followed.

To Capture What We Cannot Keep is a novel that’s as vibrant, charming and atmospheric as the city of Paris itself. It also shares a few things in common with great romance stories by Austen or more recently Natasha Lester’s A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald. To Capture What We Cannot Keep is an absolute treat, an evocative and easy read where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the warm embrace of a sumptuous historic drama and a beguiling romance that is tres magnifique.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit:




Brisbane four-piece, Belltalk should be called “Beautiful”. Their sound is gorgeous, the members are young and attractive and the lyrics are personal and evocative. On their debut EP, Lights, they offer a varied sound across five tracks that will hook the listener in from the first breath.

It should come as no surprise that this set of songs was recorded in Ian Haug’s(Powderfinger) studio and was mixed by Sean Cook (Yves Klein Blue). The youngster’s songs reference the two gentleman’s bands plus other self-proclaimed influences like Joni Mitchell and Radiohead. Some research reveals that this band started with two friends jamming between classes at university and that various members have also studied jazz, classical and opera music.

“Remote Control” could’ve been on any one of Tigertown’s EPs. The sound is not overly original but it is sweet and epic. It’s a folk number that’s been layered with lush melodies while Caitlin von Berky’s smooth voice fills in the gaps. Von Berky’s voice is a rich one that can easily float above the chords and sweep you away and at other moments command you to sit up and listen.

On “Depicture” she asks: “Can you tell me what’s wrong with this picture?” Here the group combine some fuzzy and distorted guitars with some soul-searching and a swirling piano. Single, “Bright Lights” meanwhile, started life out as a drug-referenced song but underwent significant changes.

Von Berky decided to keep the riff and the band have added an urgency and passion to the percussion. It means the final product is full of an enthusiastic punch and it is ultimately an ode to never wanting to settle down. It’s a different vibe to the closer, “Treat You Kind”, which is a slower, mournful break-up ballad that will make your eyes water.

On Lights, Belltalk do just as the package describes; with some light and airy pop music that sits somewhere between the work of George and Sarah Blasko. The music is kept serene and atmospheric and things are sweet without being too overpowering. In short, it’s a multi-faceted collection of warm pop tunes best served up while dancing under a balmy sun.


Originally published on 12 September 2013 at the following website:

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