Joelene_tnJoelene and Belinda are representing The Escape Club at a Laini Taylor/Hachette event in Sydney.

With Bel doing her part to make our Sydney trip fantastically memorable, I’ve decided to pull my boots up and make sure that I have everything in order too. Not wanting Bel to show me up yet again, I considered making a video of my efforts, but I fear that watching me read is somewhat less fascinating than curling hair. And Bel’s hair-curling video really is fascinating. She’s achieved the classical vintage look with seemingly no effort – bonus for getting to watch her sing in the mirror!

So, my copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone arrived. I nearly squealed with happiness, which would have likely caused my customers some distress, but managed – just – to hold it in. Obviously, I started reading it in my break because I am dedicated to the YA bloggers’ night! All altruism here; no ulterior motive.

Joelne's dressAnd wow. If you haven’t read Daughter of Smoke and Bone yet, you should. My paltry ten minute break was more than enough time for me to fall into the pages and wish never to emerge. It was also enough to keep me glued to the pages for at least ten minutes too long and receive disapproving stares from my manager when I did emerge.

Maybe it’s just me, but something about a novel set in Prague featuring an art student with peacock-blue hair demands to be read. I put the book down just to come and write this, by the way. I am obviously so dedicated, and sort of hate my computer a little bit right now because it’s keeping me from my book. I was up to a really good part too. I tried to get to a part that wasn’t good, but it was an exercise in futility. They’re all good parts. Seriously, get this book!

Now, I’m sure that some very unkind Burn Bright readers will think that reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone is just another way of procrastinating, so I made alternative attempts to organise. And also, no. Reading great books is in no way a pleasure to me. It’s all for the cause!

I went dress shopping! I bought dresses, and skirts. Now I have too many options rather than too few so I’ll have to try everything on multiple times and demand second opinions.

I have also figured out cost-cutting measures for accessories. It’s a slightly dangerous venture but again, dedication, I have it. If I wait until late enough at night, I can raid my sister’s stash of necklaces, bangles and earrings. It will require bypassing her bad-tempered cat, but I think it can be done.

Now all that I have to do is hope that Days of Blood and Starlight arrives in store soon, so that I’m not stranded without the second book when I finish the first. Also figure out make-up. This may just require another shopping trip…

Joelene_tnJoelene Pynnonen love a good kids movie.



the-lego-movie-posterEmmet Brickowski is an ordinary construction worker, living life by the manual, when he finds a woman called Wyldstyle illegally searching his construction site. She’s mesmerising, and for once Emmet goes against the manual, following her rather than reporting her. Stumbling into a chasm, he finds the Piece of Resistance, the only object that might stop the evil Lord Business’s super-weapon, the Kragle.

Years earlier, it was prophesied that a person called “The Special” would be the one to locate the Piece of Resistance, which makes Emmet, Lord Business’s number one target. When he is captured by Lord Business’s lieutenant, Bad Cop, Wyldstyle steps in to save him. Now it’s up to him to find the powerful master-builders and convince them to launch an attack on Lord Business’s empire before he uses the Kragle to destroy them all.

I love kids’ movies, especially the ones that have been released in the last few years and are targeted at a wider audience. Even so, Lego Movie was not something that I was interested in when the trailer came out. Now, I’ve played several of the Lego games and am well aware of how fun they are. I just didn’t think that it would translate well to the big screen. Fortunately, my brother twisted my arm until I agreed to see it.

From the out-set Lego Movie is a fast-paced and laugh-out-loud funny film. There’s plenty of slapstick comedy for kids, but this is interwoven with subtler social-commentary humour and pop-culture jokes. The combination works so well that you’ll have to watch the movie more than once to appreciate all of the jokes.

This is one of those movies that combines its elements perfectly to create a fun and exciting film. The animation is wonderful, not quite losing the authentic feel of a stop motion film even though it is CGI. Voice acting is equally flawless. There are too many amazing performances to list, but Liam Neeson’s role as Good Cop/Bad Cop is superb.

While Lego Movie is a fantastic film, it is let down by the ending, which introduces a theme that has been done before – and better – by Pixar. The movie is entertaining enough to carry itself without needing a deeper meaning, and would have been stronger for it.

Lego Movie is another animated film that is transcending age. The plot is simple, but the execution is clever. 

Joelene_tnAs I’ll assume everyone knows, Bel and I are off to Sydney in September for an amazing night of Hachette-induced fun. We have been promised YA, Laini Taylor, and fellow bloggers, so obviously we are nearly delirious with happiness.

Bel is already wonderfully organised and prepared and she will do the Burn Bright team proud. Me – not so much!

Taylor_Smoke and BoneMy preparations thus far have extended to taking Bel’s travel itinerary for my own. Time-management, people, I have it! I’m frantically ordering Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series because I may be late on the band-wagon, but I’m not going to miss it completely; and checking Hachette’s latest YA offerings–you may call it procrastination, but I call it research.

A YA event with Hachette is probably about the most exciting thing in the world right now, and not only because it gives me a chance to gush about books without people backing away slowly, it’s also because one of Hachette’s imprints, Little, Brown, will be releasing books from some of my favourite authors in the next few months.

Lair of Dreams, the second book in Libba Bray’s Diviners series will be out mid-next year. The third book in Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series will be released in November. And Holly Black’s Darkest Part of the Forest has an early January release date.

With these amazing titles set to be released so soon I can’t wait to find out what else Hachette has coming out for Christmas. Hopefully we’ll be able to get all the goss early September, so we can pass it on! Until then I’ll be reading Laini Taylor.


Joelene_tnJoelene Pynnonen says: ‘I’ve always stayed away from caramel slices, thinking that they were well out of my cooking ability. This recipe, however, is incredibly easy and delicious.’



caramel sliceBase

1 cup plain flour

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup desiccated coconut

125g melted butter

Pinch salt



2 tins sweetened condensed milk

4 tbs golden syrup

120g melted butter



125g dark chocolate



Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease and line a deep, 28 x 18cm pan.


Mix all base ingredients well. Press tightly into prepared pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven. Cool.


Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for 8 minutes. Pour over cooled base. Bake for 12 minutes in 180° oven. Cool completely. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.


Melt chocolate. Pour over caramel. Refrigerate to set. Cut into squares to serve


Joelene_tnJoelene Pynnonen reviews TV series Revenge and enjoys it with popcorn.



Revenge_Sezon_2The Hamptons might be a place of glitter and sunshine on the surface; but once scratched it reveals a seething mass of secrets that people would kill to protect. When Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) arrives in the sunlit piece of paradise that the affluent Graysons call home, she plans to scratch deeply.

When she was a child her father was framed by the people he had trusted most. Now, grown up and with a different name, Emily plans to break everyone who contributed to her father’s downfall, working her way up to the Graysons.

Everything in Revenge works perfectly together. It’s not frivolous, nor does it get mired down in angst. The assembled cast is amazing with Madeleine Stowe in the role of Victoria Grayson, the self-styled ‘Queen of the Hamptons’; Gabriel Mann as Nolan, Emily’s self-appointed vengeance assistant; and Nick Wechsler as Jack Porter the man that Emily knew as a child and is still in love with. All of the roles in the series are nuanced, and each character has their own secrets.

While this seems like the kind of idea that could germinate an amazing movie, I wasn’t sure that it would work well for a long-running TV series. The first season alone was enough to change my mind on that score. While Emily’s vengeance is the heart of the show, as the other characters develop, a myriad of deeper plots unfold, each of them as compelling as the main one.  Emotionally too, the series grows, the characters gaining depth as their secrets begin to unravel.

Revenge is a sumptuously indulgent series to lose yourself in. Morals and characters aside, it has a wonderful soundtrack featuring Australian folk-duo siblings Angus and Julia Stone. The filming locations are also gorgeous. From sunlit beaches to lavish parties and opulent mansions, the Hamptons of Revenge are a wonderful place to visit for an hour every week.

Everyone loves a good revenge story. There’s something about it that satisfies society’s moral conscience without breaking its rules. Revenge manages to do this in a creative and fun way. It’s the perfect show to curl up and eat popcorn to.

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