Book battle: Dobell vs Overington

I haven’t done a book battle in a while and for today’s effort, I have really drawn the finest of threads. I am also about to put my slightly eclectic reading tastes on display for everyone to see.

So, what exactly do these two books have in common that make them suitable to go into battle? Well they are both written by Australian authors. And I read both of them in two sittings.

What? You want more commonalities? Well … erm, I follow both authors on twitter and they’re both lovely. There you go.

On to the books!

Alice’s Wonderland by Allison Dobell

This book is actually written by two Allisons (hence the ‘Dobell’ … geddit?!) and I may or may not know one of them. Now I am not a huge consumer of erotic fiction but I do enjoy it here and there. After reading 50 Shades of Grey so I could take part in the water cooler conversations, I needed something to restore my faith in the genre.

I started reading Alice’s Wonderland on a Friday night and a neat combination of tidy writing and end of chapter cliff hangers keep me going well past my bedtime. This meant I had to finish it the next day because I couldn’t afford another late night (I am pregnant people)!!

Now I am not one to give people a plot run down when I write reviews (as I personally like to read a book knowing nothing about it) but if you want to get an idea about what Alice’s Wonderland is about, here is the Amazon blurb:

When journalist and notorious womanizer Flynn O’Grady publicly mocks Alice Mitchell’s erotic luxury goods website, the game is on. Determined to change his mind about sex toys and the people who use them, Alice decides to wrap her high-end silken blindfold over his eyes and teach him a thing or two. They soon find themselves locked in a game where Alice must step up the spice night after night as, one by one, Flynn’s defences crumble. To win, she must prove to Flynn that changing the routine, rather than the partner, can be the greatest adventure of all.

So who’s going to like this book? Well if you enjoyed 50 Shades of Grey then you will enjoy Alice’s Wonderland. If you didn’t enjoy 50 Shades of Grey and it made you want to stab your eyes out if you heard the phrase ‘inner goddess’ ever mentioned again … then you will enjoy Alice’s Wonderland. If you like your erotic fiction to involve hard core, wall-to-wall raunch, then this book is probably not for you.

For me, I enjoyed the fact that there was actually a plot, character development, a little bit of mystery and a bit of romance mixed in with the erotic stuff. It was a super easy read and definitely a good one for the holiday season.

Sisters of Mercy by Caroline Overington

Sisters of Mercy by Caroline Overington is the haunting story of two sisters – one has vanished, the other is behind bars…Snow Delaney was born a generation and a world away from her sister, Agnes. Until recently, neither even knew of the other’s existence. They came together only for the reading of their father’s will – when Snow discovered, to her horror, that she was not the sole beneficiary of his large estate. Now Snow is in prison and Agnes is missing, disappeared in the eerie red dust that blanketed Sydney from dawn on September 23, 2009. With no other family left, Snow turns to crime journalist Jack Fawcett, protesting her innocence in a series of defiant letters from prison. Has she been unfairly judged? Or will Jack’s own research reveal a story even more shocking than the one Snow wants to tell? With Sisters of Mercy Caroline Overington once again proves she is one of the most exciting new novelists of recent years.

And so we go from erotic fiction to what I guess you would call crime fiction. It’s a bit hard to review this book without doing a major spoiler alert for the ending so I am just going to put it out there now … *spoiler alert*

This book is incredibly compelling and you will need to free up a fair amount of time in your schedule for two or three days because you won’t be able to put it down. And when you get to the end, you may want to throw the book at the wall in a fit of pique (sorry Caroline!)

But once you get over that you will cast your mind back over the book. And now that your mind has slowed down a bit from the pace of the book, you will be able to truly appreciate its depth and its message.

On the surface it is a murder mystery but look below and you will see that it is much more the story of one very damaged individual. Which makes for disturbing reading because you get to see exactly where the damage comes from.

The book is also discomfiting because it makes you look in the mirror and what you see reflected back at you is a small measure of relief that people like this individual exist. People who take care of the ‘problems’ that society doesn’t really want to deal with. People whose undesirable practices are tacitly supported by overwhelmed welfare systems. It provides biting commentary about the way our society cares for those who most need it.

There is also insight into the fact that there is always more to a newspaper story than snappily delivered media sound bites can ever convey (as evidenced by the way Snow corrects many of the assertions that appear in Jack’s articles.)

So who will enjoy this book? Anyone who likes reading really. I know this sounds disingenuous but I honestly can’t think of any fellow book lover who won’t be instantly drawn deep into the narrative. It is utterly compelling and also very easy reading (and fyi, easy reading is hard to write). There are no hard concepts to process or ponder … you just get sucked right into the story and when you emerge (unless it’s right at the end), it is with great reluctance.


Have you read Sisters of Mercy? Did the compelling nature of the rest of the book make up for any angst you felt at the end?!

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  1. says

    I couldn’t read your thoughts on Sisters of Mercy because I really want to read it and was grateful for your spoiler alert. I will be reading Alice’s Wonderland and hope that there is also a sister of mercy looking over it!!!! x

    • says

      LOL – I can’t wait to talk about Sisters of Mercy with you once you’ve read it!

      And when you’re reading Alice’s Wonderland … I think you will giggle to yourself because there are certain bits in there where you will think “I know Al wrote that bit!”

  2. says

    I had to skip your spoiler alert too! I really enjoyed Caroline Overington’s last book, I find her background quite fascinating so I’m really looking forward to reading this one :)

    • says

      Clear your schedule before you pick up Sisters of Mercy to read C – you won’t be able to put it down till it’s finished! Can’t wait to hear what you think about it!

  3. Zohra says

    I have just bought Sisters of Mercy for my iPad, so haven’t really got stuck into it, as reading on the iPad is still a novelty for me. I’m spurred on now by your comments, and will make sure I set aside time to read it every day.. will let you know what I think of it when I’m done.

    • says

      Zohra I defy you to only read a bit of it every day! It is just so compelling you won’t be able to put it down :)

      I’ve been reading on my iPad for a while now and while it’s not the same lovely experience as a book, gosh it makes for easy buying!

  4. Zohra says

    Kelly, I did finish it overnight, I was compelled to keep going, so you were right there!
    Whilst i found it a real page-turner, I was a little disturbed by the content. I also felt there was too much emphasis on the storytelling of Snow’s shocking exploits, without exploration of the realtionships that were part of her journey. I was also put out that the chapters kept flipping back and forth from Snow’s perspective to the journo’s, as i would just get to the point where the story was developing to a turn, and then the voice would change.
    Just my thoughts, but I did enjoy the experience of staying up till late to finish a book. And the images did haunt me for a few days..
    My next book on my iPad is “The Light between the Oceans”. Have you read that?

    • says

      Hey Zohra I found the content VERY disturbing and finished the book feeling a bit frazzled and ‘dirty’! I love hearing your thoughts and it’s interesting you didn’t like the flipping back and forth between Snow and the journo. I found the differing perspectives of the flipping quite interesting!

      I haven’t read The Light between the Oceans but am going to go look for it now!

  5. Karla says

    Thanks for recommending Sisters of Mercy Kelly, it magically appeared on Xmas day (after I sent the link to my hubby saying – this would be nice for Xmas) I read it in one day, a stinking hot day in early January when we were holidaying down south, 30 weeks pregnant, all I could do was lay about and read, sleep, wake up and read some more….I feel relaxed again just writing that ! I loved the book, obviously, and have recommended it to many friends since.