The Date Arrangement by A. Zavarelli

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Original post from my IG @booksofthemuggleborn

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• BLURB •

Australia

A romance anthology with over THIRTY original, never-before-seen stories from bestselling and award-winning authors. Each piece was written for this anthology to benefit firefighters and wildlife in Australia. AUSTRALIA is only available for a limited time, so one-click your copy before it’s gone.

AUTHORS INCLUDE: Penny Reid, Meredith Wild, Carly Phillips, Sierra Simone, Emma Scott, Susan Stoker, Kennedy Ryan, Willow Aster, Skye Warren, Kylie Scott, Aleatha Romig, Willow Winters, AL Jackson, Julia Kent, Rebecca Yarros, Nana Malone, Giana Darling, Emma Hart, Chelle Bliss, Noelle Adams, A. Zavarelli, Jenika Snow, Dylan Allen, Kayti McGee, Robin Covington, Mary Catherine Gebhard, Melanie Moreland, Parker S. Huntington, Nana Malone, Jewel E. Ann, Annabel Joseph, Celia Aaron, Michelle Heard, Brighton Walsh, Tamsen Parker, Pam Godwin, Kayti McGee

All royalties from this project will be donated to relief funds in Australia, with 50% going to a firefighter charity and 50% going to a wildlife charity. We aren’t affiliated or endorsed by these charities. We are simply authors who want to support an important cause.

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• MY REVIEW •

This review is for The Date Arrangement by A. Zavarelli only!

First off, as an Aussie, I want to say how incredibly kind-hearted and thoughtful these amazing group of authors are for thinking of Australia during the bushfire crisis that occurred the past summer, and for generously donating the proceeds from this anthology to charities.

I may be a little late in reading this anthology (as it’s been sitting in my kindle since last year), I figured one year late and with Australia Day here, it’s no better time to crack it open.

This review is for one of my all time favourite romance authors: A. Zavarelli. Her story The Date Arrangement was the one I wanted to read the most out of the collection… hence this review now.

Let’s get down to the most important detail, shall we? Did I like it?

Yes. Yes I did! 😁

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I’ve read a few of Zavarelli’s novellas and short stories in the past and I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed with this one. She has a knack for getting you to feel and connect with her characters in such a short time frame.

This story was no different. It’s technically insta-love romance but Zavarelli effortlessly writes it in a way where you get some world-building, character backstory, and a budding relationship between our hero/ heroine before they hook up.

The Date Arrangement is about Daxon, an Aussie bloke who runs his family’s successful winery. Willow is hired to be Daxon’s date for an event at his estate celebrating his winery. She’s an American actress backpacking across Australia, and whilst this isn’t in her usual job description, she figures why not? She could use the money. It’s just one date. Nothing to it, right? Only, when she turns up to the event to meet Daxton, things are not exactly what they seem.

They’re both apprehensive at first but as they start conversing, they realize there’s a sense of comfort between them. I appreciate the fact that before they took a chance at anything romantic, they got to know each other a little first. It gives this novella some substance. It’s a big reason as to why I enjoy Zavarelli’s short stories as I do her full-length novels. It’s never fluff and you find yourself easily connecting with said characters and investing in their developing relationship.

They’re both instantly attracted to one another but there’s also a subtle but obvious click between the two when they’re talking. The chemistry only gets zingier from there. Both Dax and Willow give you an insight to their upbringing and their lives now. Their conversation felt very organic and realistic.. and if I may say so, had pretty good first date vibes!

It solely focuses on our lead characters, but there’s a few secondary characters that give this story some dimension. The addition of Dax’s grandfather displays his family upbringing, and his two best mates add the Aussie vibe into the mix.


“I’m Dave. This is Bazza. We’re Daxo’s mates.”


😂😂😂

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Zavarelli did a relatively good job at getting her Aussie slang down pat. I even snort-laughed at the nicknames of her characters. It couldn’t get more Australian with a name like Bazza! LOL.

It’s a cute character-driven romance. A little predictable in the end but who cares? Although, I would’ve loved another paragraph or two just so the ending didn’t feel as rushed as the rest of the story. But overall, it’s a great in-between read and I was left in a happy sigh!

Zavarelli’s contemporary romances are just as gripping as her dark romances, and if you’re a fan, this one is not to be missed!

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐¾

🔔 Interested in reading the Australia anthology? Grab the paperback here: Amazon


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A safe and peaceful Australia Day to my fellow Aussies.

Happy reading to all, and as always, catch you in my next one! Xo

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Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Play

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Hiya guys! So, if you haven’t guessed by now I am a bit of a Harry Potter fan 🙂

Last week (after years of hoping and waiting for it to come down to Australia) I finally got to see The Cursed Child here in Melbourne!

I know this isn’t exactly a book review but I figured it’s Harry Potter, and I still wanted to share my thoughts and experiences of the day.

The entire Cursed Child team are very adamant about not sharing any spoilers aka #keepthesecrets of the magic that is the production, so you can all relax.. this is a SPOILER FREE review!

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So. Let’s begin.

Ok. As some of you may know. When buying tickets to The Cursed Child, you have the option to watch both parts one and two on the same dat, OR you can watch each part on separate days. I went with family (we’re all big HP fans), and we got tickets to see both parts in the one day.

Now. Based on my experience, there’s pros and cons to seeing the entire thing in one day.

PROS: Well, you get to see the entire thing in ONE day! Hehe. You don’t want to wait to see the conclusion to The Cursed Child because it won’t have the same feel. It’s like watching the first half of a movie one night and seeing the other half the following.  

CONS: It’s tiring! The first part started in the afternoon, went on for a couple hours then we had the break. We had three hours to kill (which we took advantage of by having an early dinner) before we had to head back to the theatre for the second part (by then it was nightfall), another couple of hours past then it was officially done. Add in the travel time to and from (if you’re like me coming into the city from an hour away)… and there you have it: TIRING!  

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Now. On the day we went, we were lucky (I guess?) enough to get the entire official Australian cast (so no alternates). Here they are below:

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I wasn’t a complete fan of the screenplay when I read it. I gave it 3 stars (read my review here: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by JK Rowling) but what I do remember loving from that story was Scorpius. So, I was excited to see how he would be in this play.

First impressions?

Uggggh. I was so disappointed. He was portrayed nothing like how I thought he was from the book. Scorpius in the play was jumpy, frazzled and a little off-putting. I think I actually hated him for the entire first part. 

Buuuuuut wait! He did eventually grow on me by the second half. He had a few out of nowhere hilarious moments I couldn’t help but laugh at and by the end Scorpius was like his book counterpart – the saving grace of the entire story!

This is going to sound completely snooty but I don’t care, I can’t help it. It was my thoughts the entire time.. I hated.. the actors/ actresses who played Scorpius’, Ginny (ugh especially Ginny), and Hermione’s voices. Picture high-pitched screeching through a microphone.

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I’m actually curious to see the UK cast and how each actor/ actress portrayed their character. And if the Australian cast was similar or completely different from the other Cursed Child productions around the world. 

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How about the production itself?

PROS: The sets, the lighting, the props and the “magic” were amazing!

CONS: Lots of unnecessary bits included that dragged the story, and I felt were big time wasters. It had me questioning why they kept doing it. 

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But whatevs. I’m sure it was to serve a purpose to the cast and crew and the transitions from scene to scene. I just wasn’t liking it.. *shrugs*

Oh. But don’t think I didn’t entirely enjoy any of it. I did have fave parts. I swear! 😉

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Check out this photo and more from:  Official Visit Melbourne

The second part was most definitely the saving grace! After almost dozing off for most of the first half, it was the action-packed, faster paced second half that had me sitting up and soaking in all that dark goodness! The scene pictured above was probably my fave part! It was enthralling, captivating and had me “oohing” and “aahing” from start to finish. They executed that scene perfectly and gave me serious Durmstrang entrance (from Goblet of Fire movie) vibes! The scene alone made the entire day and expensive ass tickets worth it!

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I think my biggest annoyance was the seating itself. It’s great that Melbourne won out the bidding to have The Cursed Child playing there but (IMHO) the theatre was all wrong. Although the theatre was recently renovated, the ceilings are low and having sat in the seating, I (and I’m sure a lot of those around me) did not have a very good view of the stage or the cast. And we certainly did not have a view of the back of the stage.

Before you say anything – yes, there were things occuring at the back of the stage in some scenes that would’ve been nice to see. Add the fact that I had a couple of giant heads sitting right in front of me blocking 80% of what little view of the stage I had. I came away from that $400 out of pocket to see said “giant heads”, hear the live orchestra and see half of the cast.

There was only one thing I could think of that made sitting in the upper seats fine. But I can’t share it with you guys. Sorry, but #keepthesecrets and all that. Just know, it was pretty cool to see! All I’ll say is it’s another “ooh” and “aah” moment 😛

So if you’re planning to see it in Melbourne, try and grab seats on the lower level. None of the seats in the theatre are elevated so you might as well try and grab seats on the same level as the stage.

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In conclusion. Do I think spending about AU$200 for each part worth it? Nope. If I could, I would’ve skipped the first half and just watched the second (especially since I’d already read the book). But that’s just my opinion based from my experience.

I have no doubt people enjoyed the entire thing (hey, the play wouldn’t have gotten raved reviews it wasn’t enjoyable, right?)

And the crowd I was with, I was surprised that the majority had not read the book because when the “plot twist” had finally arrived, the amount of gasps I had me chuckling in reaction. LOL.

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Let’s move on and talk about The Cursed Child merch!

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Were they expensive? Hell yes. But it is a once in a lifetime experience and with the expensive tickets I doubt you’ll go back and see it again, so you might as well buy a momento or two.

Whenever I go watch a play, musical or concert, I always try and get the program book. Which I did here. It was AU$25 and that’s to be expected.

They were also selling house merch – like beanies, scarves, mugs, pens, totes, badges, hoodies and shirts.

But if I were you, I would buy the official Cursed Child merch that has the logo on it. You can grab HP house merch just about anywhere these days but it’s rare to see any The Cursed Child merch. I hear you can order the merch online, so there’s that at least (but remember shipping costs included). Remember, these are pretty pricey merchandize.

RATING: ♥♥♥/5

Overall. The same as the book. Meh, okay. It wasn’t the best play I’d seen, and certainly not the best acting.. but it’s friggin’ Harry Potter! I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!