Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sword of Darkness by Kinley MacGregor

The new king of Camelot wears no shining armor: Arthur and his knights have fallen and a new king rules.

In the darkest forest...

A scared, forsaken youth has become the most powerful -- and feared -- man in the world. Ruthless and unrestrained, Kerrigan has long ceased to be human.

In the heart of London...

A spirited peasant mired in drudgery, Seren dreams of becoming her own woman, but never expects that by fleeing her fate, she will meet her destiny.

Their worlds are forever changed...

Kerrigan's goal is simple: barter or kill Seren to claim Arthur's Round Table. Yet she is the one person who holds no fear of him. More than that, her nobility sparks something foreign inside him. In his nether realm, kindness is weakness and a king who harbors any sort of compassion loses his throne.

For countless centuries, Kerrigan has lived alone in the shadows. Now Seren's courage has forced him into the light that will bring either salvation to both of them...or death.

It took me a long time to get into this book. I'm not sure if that is because I don't tend to read a lot of fantasy or Arthurian books and therefore for me it took a little while to get used to the concepts or because it just wasn't that good!

Given that this book was the first book in the series, there was practically no world building at all. I guess that the author was working on the assumption that everyone knew the Arthurian legend and would therefore understand what was going on, but I spent the first half of this book confused. The main thing that I didn't really get until the end was the fact that all the Lords of Avalon can time travel, but this wasn't really explained until after there had been a few twentieth century references, such as the fact that Morgen (Queen of the Fey who has taken over Camelot following the demise of her brother, King Arthur)loves INXS and plays it regularly, as well as a couple of phrases that were used at various points in the first couple of chapters that really threw me. It wasn't until much later in the book that I got it, and that it didn't just feel like convenience for the author to be able to use modern cultural references instead of having to work a little harder and give us enough details to take us to their time.

Anyway...onto the characters. Our hero Kerrigan is truly evil, King of Camelot and owner of the Sword of Caliburn, which makes him virtually undefeatable. When he "rescues" Seren from the Knights of Avalon, she has no idea that she has just made a huge mistake that might cost her her life. I liked Kerrigan...he was no rake who can be redeemed - he was confident in who he was, and if he was lonely he didn't really take too much time to think it through. When he meets Seren, he is struck by her innocence and her goodness, and it doesn't take him too long to take advantage of one of those (although to be fair she does basically offer it to him on a platter). For me though, the relationship developed far too easily for Seren, and far too completely, in a much too short a time. Within pages we learn of Seren's destiny, but until about two thirds of the way through we didn't know why that was her destiny, and why she needed to take her place in either Camelot or Avalon.

The end of the novel was very abrupt as well, but it is a bit hard to say more about that without spoiling, so I will leave it at that for the moment.

There were some very clever ideas, and it will be interesting to see how MacGregor follows these ideas through in future books. Hopefully, now that I have read this book I will have more of an idea of what is going on earlier in the next book.

In the meantime, I will be waiting for the next Brotherhood book.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, July 27, 2006

In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant

My lady, Fiammetta Bianchini, was plucking her eyebrows and biting color into her lips when the unthinkable happened and the Holy Roman Emperor's army blew a hole in the wall of God's eternal city, letting in a flood of half-starved, half-crazed troops bent on pillage and punishment.

Thus begins In the Company of the Courtesan, Sarah Dunant's epic novel of life in Renaissance Italy. Escaping the sack of Rome in 1527, with their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed, the courtesan Fiammetta and her dwarf companion, Bucino, head for Venice, the shimmering city born out of water to become a miracle of east-west trade: rich and rancid, pious and profitable, beautiful and squalid.

With a mix of courage and cunning they infiltrate Venetian society. Together they make the perfect partnership: the sharp-tongued, sharp-witted dwarf, and his vibrant mistress, trained from birth to charm, entertain, and satisfy men who have the money to support her.

Yet as their fortunes rise, this perfect partnership comes under threat, from the searing passion of a lover who wants more than his allotted nights to the attentions of an admiring Turk in search of human novelties for his sultan's court. But Fiammetta and Bucino's greatest challenge comes from a young crippled woman, a blind healer who insinuates herself into their lives and hearts with devastating consequences for them all.

A story of desire and deception, sin and religion, loyalty and friendship, In the Company of the Courtesan paints a portrait of one of the world's greatest cities at its most potent moment in history: It is a picture that remains vivid long after the final page.

Having read and loved Birth of Venus, I was really looking forward to getting hold of this book. I picked it up from the library not long after it was released but then it sat on my shelf for three months until I had no choice but to read it as I couldn't extend it any further. I am not really sure that there was a reason why it took me so long to actually get to this, except that other books kept on getting in the way.

Fiammetta is one of the most sought after courtesans in all of Rome, numbering men amongst her clients who are cardinals and politicians amongst many others. However, when she is forced to flee Rome when it is attacked, she ends up taking a few jewels and her companion and pimp, Bucino, with her. She flees to Venice where she will have to start from scratch and try to build up her client base in a new city. Before she can start that she will need to recover from the wounds that she received, and from the months of deprivation that she had to endure as they wandered from one place to another trying to survive. To aid her in her recovery she calls on the services of the renowned La Draga - healer, and possibly witch. The most striking thing about La Draga is her appearance. She is a clever woman stuck inside a twisted body and blind, meaning that the fact that she heals by touch is quite remarkable.

As Fiammetta's body and mind heals, Bucino starts to make plans to put them back in business, for which they must rely on the assistance of one of their former adversaries. And yet, just as it seems that they have achieved their aims, there are divisions between Bucino and Fiametta, betrayal from an unknown source, and broken promises that threaten to destroy the partnerships. In many ways this novel was a study of a time long past, but it was also relevant today as a study of ambition and desire, friendship and love and betrayal.

There was quite a large scope in this novel in terms of the setting and the characters. Set predominantly in Venice, Dunant was able to transport me there most of the time during the novel, bringing back memories of my own time in Venice! (I love it when a book does that!). She vividly bought the colours of the festivals and the traditions of a very proud city without being guilty of info dumping too much.

In terms of the characters, the cast was bold and challenging, using Bucino as the narrator which was quite an interesting choice - I certainly had not given much thought to the ways of courtesans who liked to keep dwarves as pets at times, and yet Bucino was an extremely shrewd and successful businessman. With a passing parade of characters that include one of the most famous artists and a famous wordsmith, I was surprised at how many of the characters seemed real to me.

And yet, having said all of that, I was not completely blown away by this book. It was an entertaining read, and I am glad that I have read it, but if I had to choose between this book and Birth of Venus I would choose the latter every time. I am beginning to think that either my own standards have gotten higher, or I am in a bit of a slump where I am happy to read books but none of them have really captured my imagination in the way that I really want them to. I will have got a few more Sarah Dunant books to track down and read, which I will do eventually, and I will be keeping an eye out for any new books from her.

Rating: A solid 4/5.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Reality Chick - Buzz the Book Contest

I think I got this from Valeen, who got it from Karen S who got it from Angie W, who got it from Lauren!




(1) Your choice of either an iPod Shuffle, OR a fifty dollar gift certificate
(2) An autographed copy of REALITY CHICK by Lauren Barnholdt
(3) A copy of the August issue of Teen People, which lists REALITY CHICK as a Can’t-Miss Pick for August
(4) Free tuition to a session of Lauren’s YA writing class


STEP ONE: Simply copy and paste this whole message (including the info about the contest) into any blog, message board, email list, myspace bulletin, or anywhere a lot of people will see it!

REALITY CHICK by Lauren Barnholdt is NOW IN STORES!

Going away to college means total independence and freedom. Unless of
course your freshman year is taped and televised for all the world to
watch. On uncensored cable.

Sweet and normal Ally Cavanaugh is one of five freshpeople shacking up
on In the House, a reality show filmed on her college campus. (As if
school isn’t panic-inducing enough!) The cameras stalk her like
paparazzi, but they also capture the fun that is new friends, old
crushes, and learning to live on your own.

Sure, the camera adds ten pounds, but with the freshman fifteen a given anyway, who cares?
Ally’s got bigger issues — like how her long-distance bf can watch her
loopy late-night “episode” with a certain housemate…

Freshman year on film.
It’s outrageous.
It’s juicy.
And like all good reality TV, it’s impossible to turn off.


Check out Lauren on the web at www.laurenbarnholdt .com or on her myspace at

STEP TWO — Email Lauren at lauren (at) and let her know you’ve posted about the contest and the book, and you’ll be entered to win the prize pack! The winner will be picked at random on September 1st. The more places you post, the more entries you get. Have fun and good luck!!!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer

In this funny and big-hearted story by the author of The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives, three best friends make a pact to transform themselves into the glamorous women they've always wanted to be.

Nola Devlin has a secret identity. By day she is an overweight, frumpy, and overlooked editor, but by night she slips behind her keyboard and into her alter ego: Belinda Apple. Belinda is thin, gorgeous, and the author of a glamorous advice column, "OnBeing Fab!" Not even Nola's two best friends or her jealous sister (who worships Belinda as the "sister she never had") know her secret.

Nola is shocked when Belinda receives a desperate letter from Deb, her best friend and former cheerleading captain, now also overweight and depressed. Nola resolves to help her friend, and together with their pal Nancy, the trio form the "Cinderella Pact"-a promise to be their own fairy-godmothers and help change one another for good.

But things don't turn out the way the three friends expect. Deb's formerly devoted husband drifts further away with every pound she loses, while Nola finds herself caught between a crush on her dreamy boss and the attentions of a charming British reporter. But which of them loves the real Nola? Only when her secret identity is revealed will she find out which man is right for her, and if her two best friends can forgive her deception.

So it might surprise you to know that in some ways this is a retelling of the Cinderella story. In this case our poor Cinders is Nola Devlin, editor at a women's magazine. When the publisher decides that they need an Ethics Columnist (aka Agony Aunt) Nola submits her piece, but her boss doesn't even look at it. Nola is convinced that it is because she is overweight and frumpy, and so in order to prove her theory, she decides to create a fab new persona and Voila! Fiona Apple is born! With her sassy responses to leaders letter she becomes an instant sensation, but her duplicity starts to catch up with Nola when her friends decide to change their lives by losing weight when Fiona Apple says that it is easy to lose weight.

The three friends form The Cinderella Pact - they will lose weight within 6 weeks. The three women choose vastly different paths to weight loss. Deb has already investigated the possibility of surgical intervention and Nancy hires a personal trainer, whilst Nola takes to sensible eating and regular exercise.

At the same time as losing weight, Nola meets Chip and she begins to fall in love, but things are not as they seem. We see Nola go through her personal journey of losing weight and finding herself, whilst at the same time undergoing an investigation at work as they try to work out if their Ethics columnist is who she says she is, or has herself broken ethics!

There were a lot of things to like in this book. The author for the most part tried to avoid the cliche of saying "If you lose weight you will be happy!", and it was an entertaining enough read.

One thing I didn't like was a couple of the cameos. Bubbles made a cameo appearance in this book, and whilst it was okay, it was possibly a bit over the top, as was the over the top gushy reaction to Nola meeting Harley Jane Kozak, who is one of the author's blogging buddies over at The Lipstick Chronicles. Other than that, this was for the most part an enjoyable read!

I have read all of Sarah Strohmeyer's books now, and one of the things that I am still waiting for is the book that really blows me away.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Courtesan by Susan Carroll

For something a little bit different, Kailana and I decided to read a historical fiction novel together. This is the sequel to The Dark Queen, which I read and reviewed a while ago (Wow...where did the last six months go?).

Kailana is writing in black, and I am writing in blue:

Anyways, we are coming towards this from two different backgrounds. As I said with the last one, there is a lot of romance in these books. I don't particularly like romance novels, while Marg on the other hand is a very big romance reader. This should offer two different views on how we took the novel.

From the back:

Skilled in passion, artful in deception, and driven by betrayal, she is the glittering center of the royal court - but the most desired woman of Renaissance France will draw the wrath of a dangerous adversary.

Paris, 1575. The consort of some of Europe's most influential men, Gabrielle Cheney is determined to secure her future by winning the heart of Henry, the Huguenot king of Navarre. As his mistress, Gabrielle hopes she might one day become the power behind the French throne. But her plans are jeopardized by Captain Nicholas Remy, a devoted warrior whose love Gabrielle desires - and fears - above all. She will also incur the malevolence of the Dark Queen, Catherine de Medici, whose spies and witch-hunters are legion, and who will summon the black arts to maintain her authority. With the lives of those she loves in peril, Gabrielle must rebel against her queen to fulfill a glorious destiny she has sacrificed everything to gain.

Alive with vivid detail and characters as vibrant as they are memorable, The Courtesan is a sweeping historical tale of dangerous intrigues, deep treachery, and one woman's unshakable resolve to honor her heart.

I really enjoyed the first book in the trilogy. So much so that I gave it to my mother to read, in the hopes that she will one day read something other than Nora Roberts. She had been saying that she read a book by Nora Roberts that wasn't up to par, so I thought maybe she would give this book a try. Me and her rarely ever read the same sort of books. I too enjoyed the first book in the trilogy. In fact, the day after I finished reading it, I went and bought this book, and ordered The Silver Rose. I had good intentions of reading them pretty much straight away but it didn't really happen. By the way....I've enjoyed the Nora Roberts books that I have read!

Anyways, to the review. I think the thing about this book we all have to remember is that it is called "The Courtesan". That betrays what the main character in this book is all about. You see, it is Gabrielle, Ariane from the first books younger sister. Gabrielle has had a rough life. The thing that is essential to who she is at this time in her life is that one "honourable" knight took advantage of her, and Gabrielle has never been able to get over it. If anything, she thinks that it is her fault and she feels the compulsion to take on the scars this man left her with as all she is worthy of. She could annoy me in the first book, but she grows on you in this one, and I actually found myself both wanting to interject to tell her that she's foolish, but I also felt bad for her. She is living in Paris now, a life of a Courtesan. It is not until ghosts from her past make an appearance that she starts to second guess her life. In The Dark Queen, Gabrielle was portrayed as a completely disenchanted character. We knew that Nicholas Remy had fallen for her, but Gabrielle had so many walls built up around her because of her previous bad experience that he was really not allowed to get all that close. Fast forward three years and shift to Paris, and into the French court, and Gabrielle has left behind all that she knows and loves and has become one of the most famous and desired courtesans. Yet behind the glamorous facade, there is a very lonely woman, who is haunted by the ghost of a supposedly dead man - Nicholas Remy. When it is revealed that Nicholas is not in fact dead, but is plotting to get into the French court to try and arrange for his king to escape, it soon becomes clear that Gabrielle and Nicholas are not necessarily on the same side...and yet they are extremely attracted to each other.

I found this novel to have more romance than the first one. I don't even think it was any different, but for some reason it felt like more. Once Gabrielle starts to get her life back on line and give her heart to the man that she loves, they spend a lot of time leading up to and then in bed together. It just seemed like once they made it to the bed, that was a central occurrence for the next little while. The sex scenes are tasteful. For example, there are a few scenes with Ariane and Renard, and we finally learn that he has brown hair - a fact that was left out in the first book, or so most people believe (we had a big discussion about this over at Historical Fiction Forum a while ago!). So, the scenes are not all about the action, like a romance novel, so I didn't find them distasteful, which is always good. I actually wonder whether you are confusing romance with sex? There is definitely a more romantic storyline in this book, and in many ways less of a focus on historical events. In The Dark Queen, one of the key events was the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre, and there are many references back to the events of that day here, but in this book there was more a historical context as opposed to actual historical events. Whilst the sex is there, and there is a section where there is a strong emphasis on the development of the physical relationship between Gabrielle and Nicholas, this is something that was necessary to enable Gabrielle to move on from her emotional and self esteem issues, to go back to finding herself. Sex and romance are both the same to me. I read books that rarely have any romantic or sexual scenes, so this book had a lot more of everything than I was used to

A bit more background information. Simon, the witch hunter apprentice from the first novel makes a court approved appearance. It has been prophesied that the Dark Queen's power is waning, and there are moments when she does not seem to have her son the King under her command. Ariane and Renard are married, but Ariane is suffering through some unhappy moments because of her desire to have a child. She also does not like it when her sister runs off, she is protective of her little sisters. Miri follows Gabrielle to Paris in the hopes of keeping her sister safe, and enchants a young boy affectionately called 'the Wolf'. I am hoping we will learn more about him in the third book that centres around Miri. I have made reference in previous posts to the fact that I love a series, so for me it was great to revisit Ariane and Reynard, and the build up is definitely there for Miri's story in The Silver Rose. I do however have one concern for the next book, and that is that I really liked Nicholas's offsider Wolf. It would appear that it is not his fate to end up with Miri, but I really hope that he does get some Happy Ever After.

This is a very engaging novel. I never though I would say it. I didn't like it as much as the first one, but it was still a very worthwhile read. I enjoyed the first book more too, mainly because it was more of an intriguing mix between historical fiction, fantasy and romance. This book was more like straight romance, with a historical context and a bit of magic thrown in. I would say however that this one flowed a bit better. There were the odd occasions during the first book that parts dragged as there was a bit too much infodump. However, on the down side for this book, it felt as though there were a few storylines that were introduced that were either not resolved, or resolved very quickly and conveniently. Maybe this will be resolved during the next book. The thing I have noticed about these books is that I don't feel like you have to read them in order to understand. Susan Carroll does a very good job making each book look more like a stand alone. Whilst I guess you don't HAVE to read the books in order, I would think that it is far more rewarding to do so. For example, if you haven't read The Dark Queen, you would not understand the significance of Simon being the main witch hunter in this book, and then in whatever role he is in in the next book. Even though these books contain more romance than I normally would seek out, I can not wait until I get book 3 from Random House and can see how the story continues. Me and Marg are discussing maybe reading that one together too. We will see how it goes. I am planning to read The Silver Rose pretty soon, but then again, it did take me six months to pick this one up!

Kailana's rating 4/5
Marg's rating 4/5

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Runaway Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

The fourth book in the popular Elm Creek Quilts series explores a question that has long captured the imagination of quilters and historians alike: Did stationmasters of the Underground Railroad use quilts to signal to fugitive slaves?

In her first novel, The Quilter's Apprentice, Jennifer Chiaverini wove quilting lore with tales from the World War II home front. Now, following Round Robin and The Cross Country Quilters, Chiaverini revisits the legends of Elm Creek Manor, as Sylvia Compson discovers evidence of her ancestors' courageous involvement in the Underground Railroad.

Alerted to the possibility that her family had ties to the slaveholding South, Sylvia scours her attic and finds three quilts and a memoir written by Gerda, the spinster sister of clan patriarch Hans Bergstrom. The memoir describes the founding of Elm Creek Manor and how, using quilts as markers, Hans, his wife, Anneke, and Gerda came to beckon fugitive slaves to safety within its walls. When a runaway named Joanna arrives from a South Carolina plantation pregnant with her master's child, the Bergstroms shelter her through a long, dangerous winter, imagining neither the impact of her presence nor the betrayal that awaits them.

The memoir raises new questions for every one it answers, leading Sylvia ever deeper into the tangle of the Bergstrom legacy. Aided by the Elm Creek Quilters, as well as by descendants of others named in Gerda's tale, Sylvia dares to face the demons of her family's past and at the same time reaffirm her own moral center. A spellbinding fugue on the mysteries of heritage, The Runaway Quilt unfolds with all the drama and suspense of a classic in the making.

This is the book that made me want to start reading this whole series, and whilst I wasn't really sure what to expect it was still a very good read.

I really admire the fact that the author was able to completely change the focus of this book and yet it still very firmly feels like part of the series. The previous three books in the series havefocusedd on a group of women and their lives as they come together and makes friends. In this book, Sylvia meets a lady who has an old quilt that they have been calling the Elm Creek Quilt which prompts the ladies to ask whether they are maybe connected. When Sylvia decides to look through all the contents of the attic, she finds a chest that contains several more quilts, and more importantly her great-great aunt Gerda's diary.

As Sylvia reads through the journal, she finds that things that she believed about her family's past were not necessarily as true, or at least as clear cut as they appeared to have been. The journal also helps Sylvia focus on her life and her relationships in her current life.

For me, the most interesting parts of this book were the parts that related to the participation of the Sylvia's forefathers in the Underground Railway, providing shelter to escaped slaves prior to, and during the Civil War. The book also covers how difficult it was during that time as there were people from the same town who took different sides of the abolitionist debates, pitting employee against employer.

For me it will be interesting to see what directions the author goes in in future. Will she continuing looking back in the past, will she refocus back on groups of women and their trials and tribulation. Either way, I hope that the series continues to go from strength to strength.

Rating 4.5/5

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Dr Juvenal Urbino, most distinguished physician along the Caribbean coast, illustrious for civic achievements and artistic patronage, died aged eighty-one-and-a-half of a broken spine when he fell from the branch of a mango tree as he tried to catch a parrot.

His widow, the once breath-taking Fermina Daza, was enraged at the emptiness which lay before her. She instinctively recoiled from the one hand extended to steady and comfort her - a hand which for her long life had always been within reach but which, in her haughtiness and guilt, she would not acknowledge: the hand of Florentino Ariza.

For his part, Ariza's desolate vigil of devotion had begun half a century before, on Fermina's afternoons of embroidery under the almond trees in Los Evangelio's park. His secret obsession had led him into an enigmatic existence and shadowy social reputation despite his renown in business. In the city consecrated to the cult of the Holy Spirit, one Pentecost, love found a new tongue with which to speak.

In a novel unequalled since his masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude, Marquez tells a love story which will haunt and inspire his readers for generations.

I don't know what it is about Marquez's writing. It isn't easy, but it is oh so rewarding.

His style is one of a wanderer. The storyline moves backwards and forwards through time in a meandering fashion, almost as though the author is mortally afraid of following a straight line, and yet the story moves steadily forward. Marquez is also a known master of magical realism, and there is plenty of that within this novel, along with laugh out loud humour. For example, at one point we learn that Fernanda and her husband had not spoken for several months because they were having a fight about whether or not there was soap in the shower - a completely inane thing to be fighting about, but portrayed in such a way that it was possible to believe that it could be real - as real as when dealing with larger issues such as infidelity.

In this book, the story is really a love story...a grand passion that lasts for decades and decades, despite the fact that it is unrequited for most of that time.

I did find it somewhat amazing that by the end of the book I still felt compassion for the main characters, especially Ariza, because he was a far from likeable man. Or maybe there was just one episode that made me feel that he was unlikeable.

This is the kind of novel that makes it possible to believe in impossible love and of sailing into the sunset with the one that you love! It is also the kind of novel that you know you will find new things in each time that you read it! Really, really enjoyable.

Rating 4.5/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Chris @ Book-a-Rama

Things Mean a Lot

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Simon Basset, the irresistible Duke of Hastings, has hatched a plan to keep himself free from the town's marriage-minded society mothers. He pretends to be engaged to the lovely Daphne Bridgerton. After all, it isn't as if the brooding rogue has any real plans to marry—though there is something about the alluring Miss Bridgerton that sets Simon's heart beating a bit faster. And as for Daphne, surely the clever debutante will attract some very worthy suitors now that is seems a duke has declared her desirable. But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, she soon forgets that their courtship is a complete sham. And now she has to do the impossible and keep herself from losing her heart and soul completely to the handsome hell-raiser who has sworn off marriage forever!

I added this book to my TBR list after the girls over at Sanctuary's Finest started reviewing the Bridgerton series not too long ago. Prior to this I had only read Julia Quinn in a novella in the Where's My Hero anthology. Another reason I picked up this book is because I am sucker for a series!

So this is the first in the Bridgerton series of book, featuring a family where the children conveniently get named in alphabetical order! This book featured Daphne, fourth oldest child, and a young lady in danger of being left on the shelf as far as the marriage mart that is the ton is concerned. She is in her second season, and has had several offers that she has turned down because she wanted a man she could love, like the love that her parents had, and to have lots of children.

After meeting Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, she agrees to a sham engagement with him. For her, this should mean that the other eligible men of the ton should see beyond her reputation as a good friend, and for him, it should mean that he will be free from the buzzards that are the mothers of young unmarried ladies who would love to catch themselves a duke! However, the more time they spend together, the more attracted to each other they become, until eventually the plan goes awry when they are caught in a compromising situation by her eldest brother Anthony, and Daphne and Simon have to marry.

The only thing casting a shadow over their marriage is the fact that Simon has issues left over from his terrible childhood, and this leaves to a really big problem for them, particularly around the issue of children. For the most part though I liked Simon. He seemed pretty honourable and a fairly nice guy, and was certainly a good match for Daphne.

As for Daphne, I did like her quite a bit. She was a likeable character, although VERY innocent, having absolutely no idea of what happened between a man and a woman. There is one thing though that she did that I really did not like, and whilst I understand her reasons, it seemed very disrespectful and deceitful for her to do what she did. I guess, though, now I think of it, Simon was no better, so why did I like Daphne less for what she did than Simon. Hmmm....something to think on!

I really like that this story was at it's very core, just a suspense subplots or anything like that to distract.

Overall, an enjoyable read, and I will definitely be reading more about the Bridgertons in the not too distant future.

Rating 3.5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Bookworms and Tea Lovers

Monday, July 17, 2006

Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James

This is the fourth book in the Duchess quartet following on from A Wild Pursuit.

Helene, the Countess Godwin, knows there is nothing more unbearably tedious than a virtuous woman. After all, she's been one for ten long years while her scoundrel of a husband lives with strumpets and causes scandal after scandal. So she decides it's time for a change -- she styles her hair in the newest, daring mode, puts on a shockingly transparent gown, and goes to a ball like Cinderella, hoping to find a prince charming to sweep her off her feet...and into his bed. But instead of a prince, she finds only her own volatile, infuriatingly handsome...husband, Rees, the Earl Godwin. They'd eloped to Gretna Green in a fiery passion, but passion can sometimes burn too hot to last.

But now, Rees makes her a brazen offer, and Helene decides to become his wife again...but not in name only. No, this time she decides to be very, very wicked indeed.

I think I remember reading somewhere that Eloisa James wrote this book due to popular demand. Now, I am not sure how true that is given that this book was published pretty soon after A Wild Pursuit, but in some ways it does feel a bit disconnected from the other books. In other ways it feels almost as connected to the current series as it was to the other Duchess books. Maybe it really is an in between book!

For me, the biggest down side of this book is that Esme and Sebastian's story that was interwoven within the previous three books was all resolved and so whilst they did make some appearances, they really seemed to me to be just there for the sake of it.

Anyway...about this book. Helene and Rees have been separated for years and she has basically had enough. She has decided that she no longer wants to have a pristine reputation, she is going to take matters into her own hands and find herself a man so that she can have a baby. She decides to revamp her look, and makes an appearance in society with scandalously short hair and dresses. Suddenly, there are suitors, most notably Mayne (who goes on to make a pivotal appearance in Much Ado About You)

All through this series, much has been made of the fact that Helene and Rees can't stand each other. So when Rees decides that if Helene is going to have a baby it might as well be his baby, it was quite surprising. Almost as surprising as the deal that Helene agrees to move back into his home even though his mistress was still going to be there, and slowly the feelings between the two spouses (does that make them spices?) starts to change.

Whereas in the other three books, Esme and Sebastian's story was woven into the background, this time it was the story of Rees' brother Tom and Rees' mistress Lina that provided the alternate story.

I felt that James had to work really hard to redeem Rees from the role that he had in the previous books, and also to suddenly make Helene so completely compelling that she would have two men who both wanted her so badly. She mostly succeeded, but for me the story was not one that captured my imagination in the way that I would have really liked.

Overall I enjoyed these books, and will be reading more by James, but I haven't been completely blown away by the ones in this series. I will need to go back and read the Pleasures trilogy and see how that one links into this series.

Rating 3.5/5

And now for something completely different....Music

So I was tagged by Fiona, and I started the list, but it has taken me a little while to finish it! Been an interesting week here. My sister has just been released from hospital because she cracked her kneecap into two pieces. Can anyboday say OUCH! I also nearly resigned from my job because I was offered another one but common sense prevailed. All round busy week!

I've been having a bit of an 80's revival over the last couple of weeks. There's also a couple of Aussie songs, a little bit of country. The other thing is I tend to listen to albums that I have saved on my PC while I work as opposed to on my MP3 player. That actually has audio books on it more regularly than anything else!

1. Someday, Someday by Thirsty Merc - not too fussed about their other stuff by love this song.

2. Tip of My Tongue by Diesel - Early 90s Australian classic. This was a single on the Hepfedility album which is still a good listen!

3. And We Danced by The Hooters - probably my favourite song ever!

4. We're Not Ready to Make Nice by The Dixie Chicks - this album is probably my most played over the last couple of months

5. Keith Urban...doesn't really matter which song or album!

6. Tea and Sympathy by Bernard Fanning - his whole album Tea and Sympathy is absolutely fantastic

7. The Veronicas by relatively new Aussie band, a bit teeny bopper but great to sing along to.

8. No. 1s by The Beatles

9. Feeler by Pete Murray - Fantastic Sunday afternoon music

10.Diamonds on the Inside by Ben Harper - Love all of it, well, except for one song!

I don't know who is left to tag how about anyone who hasn't already done this!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Bibliomaniac's Prayer

Sarah over at Reading the Past has a prayer up for book lovers everywhere, especially those of us that are addicted to buying books!

Go take a look.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Found this information over at Bookwritingblog.

Seems that one of Australia's most famous writers, and a Nobel prize winner, wouldn't get published today. A chapter of Patrick White's The Eye of the Storm was submitted to several major publishers and not one of them has accepted. The fact that the work was submitted under the name Wraith Picket should have been a dead giveaway that something was up surely?

The most interesting line to me?

In his rejection letter Nicholas Hudson of Hudson Publishing said the writing left him perplexed.

"We regret that we cannot make an offer for publication. Why? The first and easy answer is that we try to curb all desire to publish novels. This is a matter of self-preservation: the Harold Park Trots are by comparison a rational way of earning a living."

Makes me wonder what other authors there are out there that wouldn't be able to get their books published in our time. Tolstoy? Steinbeck? Austen?

Who knows, but it does make you think!

A Wild Pursuit by Eloisa James

The third book in the Duchess quartet, following on from Fool for Love.

It is whispered behind the fans of London's dowagers and in the corners of fashionable ballrooms that scandal follows willfully wild Lady Beatrix Lennox wherever she goes.

Three years before, the debutante created a sensation by being found in a distinctly compromising position. Now, the ton has branded her as unmarriageable, her family has called her a vixen, and Beatrix sees no reason not to go after what and who she wishes.

And she wants Stephen Fairfax-Lacy, the handsome Earl of Spade. Beatrix, with her brazen suggestions and irresistibly sensuous allure, couldn't be more different from the earl's ideal future bride. Yet Beatrix brings out a wildness in the earl he has tried to deny far too long. Still, he's not about to play love's game by Lady Beatrix's rules. She may be used to being on top in affairs of the heart, but that will soon change.

Lady Beatrix Lennox is now the companion to the aunt of Esme Rawlings who we met in the previous two books in this series. When Esme is approaching her time of confinement her aunt descends on her with all her people, and there is aimpromptutu house party. For all that Esme is trying to live a scandal free life for a change, having a house party during confinement is not really the done thing in the ton.

One of the people that Esme's aunt has invited is MP Stephen Fairfax-Lacy, with a view to marrying Esme off to him. There are, however, others who have ideas in relation to Mr Fairfax- Lacy, and before he knows it, he finds himself engaged to one woman, supposedly having an affair with another married woman, and desperately attracted to Beatrix. As for Beatrix, she is willing to have a short fling with him, but when he wants more from her, she is not sure that she can do that.

I had a few issues with this book. The first and most pressing is that I didn't really care about Stephen and Bea. I didn't really get the attraction between them, or feel it when they decided that they could have a HEA only with each other, although I did like the epilogue that had him defending her long lost honour. Strangely enough there were two epilogues in this book...something I don't think I have seen before. Anyway, I digress. The main reason why I didn't really care for Stephen and Bea was that I really wanted to read Esme and Sebastian's story. Their story has been interwoven in the three books of this series so far, and yet it is the story that has most captured my imagination and felt emotionally attached to.

The second issue I had relates to the virginity question.

******SPOILER ALERT******

Beatrix had been compromised at a very young age, and had gone on to be a scandalous persona within the ton, openly flaunting her body, and supposedly her affairs. For all that, she had only had 3 lovers which is fine, and with each of those it only happened once and she had never enjoyed the experience. However, when she finally makes love to Stephen Fairfax-Lacy, his heart sings because she really is a virgin in every sense of the word. HUH? Why would it be so bad for her not to be a virgin. I know that it is important at that time, but he knew that she had been compromised, and this time it was an opportunity for the female equivalent of a rake to be reformed by the love of a good man. Why couldn't it just have been left at that.

******SPOILER OFF******

I would have loved to have a book just for Sebastian and Esme. Sebastian's devotion to Esme was so heart rending, and for me I would have enjoyed this book much more if that had of been the main story. As it is, I have to take marks off because of Stephen and Bea and the virginity thing.

Rating 3.5/5

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Rapture in Death by J D Robb

This is my read for the July TBR challenge, which for this month was to read romantic suspense. As noted in a previous post, I am not really a romantic suspense read but I am working my way through the JD Robb so I have chosen to do Rapture in Death as my TBR challenge book. I have however added all of your suggestions onto my TBR list.

Kailana from The Written World and I are reading at least some of this series together so this is another joint review for us, following on from the one that we did for Immortal in Death. My opinions are in black, and Kailana's in blue.

They died with smiles on their faces. Three apparent suicides: a brilliant engineer, an infamous lawyer, and a controversial politician. Three strangers with nothing in common - and no obvious reasons for illing themselves. Police lieutenant Eve Dallas found the deaths suspicious. And her instincts paid off when autopsies revealed small burns on the brains of the victims. Was it a genetic abnormality or a high-tech method of murder? Eve's investigation turned to the provocative world of virtual reality games - where the same techniques used to create joy and desire could also prompt the mind to become the weapon of its own destruction . . .

Title: Rapture in Death

Author: J D Robb

Year published: 1996

Why did you get this book? I only started reading this series a little while ago, and so I am now working my way through the series. I got this book because it is totally different. I am not a romance reader, my genres are normal fantasy, historical fiction, and Canadian literature, so this series is something new for me. Plus, my friends read her, more so than some of the other authors I read, so I have a topic to discuss.

Do you like the cover? I had a completely different cover, which featured a noose and a blue woman on a gold background. Whilst it fitted the story in a way (and no there were no blue women in the book!) it wasn't terribly attractive. Yep, it is a very descriptive cover, but at the same time there is something artsy about it. Something else liked my cover too, because there is something sticky on it... Have to wash that off.

Did you enjoy the book? I did! I am going to be hopeful and say this is a series I will read all of, but one never knows. I enjoyed this book and hope to go on enjoying them!

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? No and yes. I've already been to the library to pick up the next book in the series. Not a new author, no. This is my fifth book by her (remember, I snuck ahead for the first one). I plan to read book 5 as soon as Marg has her's from the library. I've already got it Kail!!!

Are you keeping it or passing it on? It's a library book so keeping it isn't really an option. If I was buying this series so far they are all keepers. A keeper. I have been buying this series second hand, and so far I have not found that I haven't got my moneys worth.

Anything else? -I really liked the fact that Peabody seems to be taking a much bigger part in this novel, and the fact that there is a friendship developing between Eve and Peabody helps to take some of the hard edges off of Eve. I imagine that Peabody was added just for that, to add some humour to what could be seen as a dark series of novels. There was humour before, but it was not central to the novel. I think Peabody as the comic relief was a good idea on Robb's part. I do hope though that Roarke doesn't keep on being suspected of being connected to the murder in every one of the remaining books. I like Roarke being the suspect, remember, I don't like romance novels, so when he isn't being the suspect he is generally at it with the main character, so it is nice to see him in roles that don't happen in bed. I think you really got to know Roarke in this book by the things that happened to him! I like that Lt. Dallas isn't the only one that is getting built up, we are learning about other characters as well. One thing that does bother me a little bit about some of these books is that there doesn't actually seem to be any real clues dropped along the way to help the reader guess who the murderer is. In this book it was obvious that the person that was the main suspect wasn't the killer because there was so much focus on that person, but I don't know that there was anything that could have given the game away as to the identity of the real killer. I have to disagree, I found the killer obvious. There was a moment where I doubted it, but then something happened and I knew I was right before the end of the book. I don't know if it was obvious or I just got lucky, but the person that ended up being the killer just made sense to me, and I think there were little clues. I did guess a few pages before it became clear (and then I peeked at the end to be sure! (Peeking is cheating! I don't know how you do it, I would hate to know the end before it is time. That's why I rarely read prologues, they give too much away!)) but it felt to an extent that the solution came completely out of the blue. I do like the way that the world building is happening, and how she puts in little facts such as the fact that someone has a tobacco license but that they had to have an anti-cancer innoculation in order to get that license! I think that Robb is trying to make a "perfect" world by this series. Perfection is not ever perfect, though, it is unattainable, but she shows that there are different ways to define perfect with this series. A lot of the stuff happening in this book I wish we had, though, I know that much. (Including Roarke!)

Rating 4/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Passion for the Page

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Cross Country Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini

The third book in the Elm Creek Quilts series following on from Round Robin.

Readers of The Quilter's Apprentice and Round Robin have been enchanted by Elm Creek Quilt Camp, where women gather each year for quilting, friendship, and fun. The third in the Elm Creek Quilts series introduces the Cross-Country Quilters, a group of far-flung friends who pledge to complete a "challenge quilt" -- symbolic of each woman's personal goals -- in one year's time.

These five women arrive at Elm Creek Manor hoping to find in their quilt lessons an escape from the problems they left at home. Julia, an aging starlet, has pinned her hopes to a plum role in a historical epic whose director is under the mistaken impression that Julia already knows how to quilt. Megan is a successful engineer who has won prizes for her miniature quilt designs. The one challenge she has yet to master is single motherhood. Donna, a mother of two, must hasten to teach her daughter independence and self-esteem -- lessons she, too, must take to heart. Grace is a renowned curator of antique quilts, whose creative flair is waning for reasons she is unwilling to reveal -- even to her closest friends. Vinnie, the senior member of the group, is a sunny soul with a tragic past. Her overwhelming desire is to bring happiness into the lives of those she loves.

Although the Cross-Country Quilters share a common creative goal, as the year goes by their bonds are tested by the demands of daily life. But despite differences in age, race, and background, the friends' love for quilting and affection for one another unite them in a patchwork of caring and acceptance. The quilt they make reminds them of an everlasting truth -- friends may be separated by great distance, yet the strength of their bond can transcend any obstacle.

At first when I picked this book up I was a little disappointed that the series was shifting focus from the main characters of the first two books, with only Sylvia having anything more than cameo appearances, and even then her appearances are very limited as well. In the end though I guess bringing different groups of people through the series will give it more longevity and less trite storylines than there would be if the same characters continued.

Another difference this time was that the story took place over a year. It opened with a group of strangers getting to know new people at a quilting camp and then followed them as individuals throughout the year until they came back to camp the next year. The challenge quilt that the new friends decided to make was meant to help them deal with their problems as individuals before they came back together as a group. For Megan that meant trying to get over her ex who left her to look after their son, for Donna it involved dealing with her daughter's upcoming marriage and either accepting it or doing something about it. The other characters were as interesting and well developed, although I would have to say that the aging Hollywood star, Julia, was probably my least favourite.

Once again this was an enjoyable read where friendship between women is the focus. Chiaverini knows how to tug at the heart strings without making you feel as though you have been manipulated. So far these books have been very consistent in terms of writing quality as well which is great when you have a long running series.

I am wondering though if I have been a little nasty in playing the library game for the next books in this series. Generally, as soon as I have finished a book in a series I go and put a request in for the next book in the series. This time, I have put the request in for the next two so that I can try and leapfrog the person who is reading the series in front of me. Is that bad??

Rating 4/5

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch sees an ancient prophecy come to life in her dazzling web of dreams and visions. Now the Dark Kingdom readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, a Witch who will yield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But she is still young, still open to influence - and corruption.

Whoever controls the Queen controls the Darkness. Three men - sworn enemies - know that. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love...and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining...

I'm not really sure what to say about this book! I enjoyed it immensely. I finished it at 3 o'clock in the morning, and got up out of bed to check whether the next book in the series was available on the library website, so that's a good sign.

Maybe the reason I am a bit stumped is that I am not really much of a fantasy reader, and so for quite some time it was a bit like hard work to get into all the world building straight in my head, and what all the various levels of jewels meant but once I got into the book I was in. In a lot of ways Bishop has taken the world as we know it, and turned it upside down. The good guys live in Hell, women are the power mad rulers whose every whim is to be catered too, and I have to say that the obedience ring sounds completely scary! Glad not to be a bloke in Bishop's world I can tell you!

The characters were interesting, and I can't wait to meet up with Lucivar and Daemon in particular again in the next book, in particular to know whether Daemon actually can find a more equal relationship than he has with any of the women that he has to service (for want of a better word!)

The main storyline for this first book is the introduction of Jaenelle as Witch - destined to rule the world and an incredibly powerful witch. To her family, she is emotionally unstable. To all her friends in the various countries of the world that she travels to by web (basically seems to be a large spiders web with different paths depending on the colour of the jewel that you have!) she is a character that brings laughter and light, freshness and hope!

I am really looking forward to reading more of this series!

Rating 4/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Just Add Books

Romance Rookie
All Booked Up

Friday, July 07, 2006

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

The third book in The Southern Vampire series featuring Sookie Stackhouse, following on from Living Dead in Dallas.

There's only one vampire Sookie Stackhouse is involved with (at least voluntarily) and that's Bill. But recently he's been a little distant -- in another state, distant. His sinister and sexy boss Eric has an idea where to find him. Next thing Sookie knows, she is off to Jackson, Mississippi to mingle with the under-underworld at Club Dead. It's a dangerous little haunt where the elitist vampire society can go to chill out and suck down some type O. But when Sookie finally find Bill -- caught in an act of serious betrayal -- she's not sure whether to save him ... or sharpen some stakes.

Things aren't great between Bill and Sookie, but when he lies to her about where he is going and what he is up to, Sookie is devastated. When she is contacted by Eric and the other vampires because they are concerned that he has gone missing, Sookie is willing to help in any way but she is torn about whether when they find him she will be happy to see him or not.

Eric gives her an in to the supernatural community of Jackson, Mississippi, and we are introduced to Alcide Hervaux, a shapeshifting surveyor whose family owes Eric a favour. I have to say....I like Alcide as a character. Where Sookie didn't date normal men, she certainly has supernatural men falling over themselves to be with her, and Alcide is certainly amongst them, but he is a man who seems to treat Sookie quite well, the same can't always be said for some her other men friend.

Anyway, Sookie goes to Jackson, ostensibly to search for Bill, and she finds him, but not before we meet an old enemy and Sookie is seriously injured. This gives Eric an excuse for Sookie to take more of his blood, making his link to her even stronger. After rescuing Bill and generally saving the day again, Sookie returns home, and I was glad to here the decision that she made in the last few pages of the book. Good on you Sookie!!

This was quite dark at times, but still funny and entertaining. I can't wait to read more and see what role Bill, Eric, Sam and Alcide have in her life in the future!

Rating 4/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts;

Melissa's Bookshelf

Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier

This book is the July Book of the Month in Historical Fiction Forum.

January 1901, the day after Queen Victoria's death: Two families visit neighbouring graves in a fashionable London cemetery. One is decorated with a sentimental angel, the other an elaborate urn. Separated by social class as well as taste, the Waterhouses cling to tradition while the Colemans look ahead to a more modern society. The families are inextricably linked when their two girls meet behind the tombstones and become friends - and worse become involved with the gravedigger's impetuous son.

As the girls grow up and the new century begins, as cars replace horses and electricity outshines gas lighting, the nation emergres from the shadows of oppressive Victorian values to a golden Edwardian summer. It is then that the beautiful frustrated Mrs Coleman makes a bid for greater personal freedom, with disastrous consequences, and the lives of the Colemans and the Waterhouses are changed forever.

The only other Tracy Chevalier book I have read was Girl with a Pearl Earring, which I absolutely loved! When I read that one I picked it up with the intention of just reading the first couple of pages. Two and a half hours later, I had finished it and was blown away. This book never really grabbed my attention in the same way, although it was an entertaining enough read.

On her website, Chevalier talks about wanting to write a book about the mourning etiquette and social restrictions in place in Victorian England, and the changes in society that started to take place during the reign of Edward VII, and whilst it is that, for me, it was also about the way that secrets can destroy families and relationships.

When the two young girls meet behind the headstones of their family gravestones, they are instant best friends. They also become instant friends with Simon, the gravedigger's son, a young boy who they would never have met during their normal day to day life as he is very definitely a working class boy.

The two girls don't see each other again until the Waterhouses move into the house behind the Colemans and they are reunited. Throughout their childhood they spend a lot of their time playing at the cemetery, firstly being accompanied by Jenny, the Colemans maid, and then later by Maude's mother, Mrs Coleman. Both Jenny and Mrs Coleman visit the cemetery for their own reasons, and have their own consequences, but for the Colemans those consequences are far reaching, when Mrs Coleman becomes ill.

As Mrs Coleman finally recovers from her malaise, she becomes heavily involved in the suffragette meeting following a chance meeting with a suffragette at the opening of the local library. Her husband has no idea who involved until she is arrested and ends up spending time in jail. Whilst this would be hard for a young girl to deal with, Maude has actually been coming second to the cause for quite some time, so whilst it is difficult it is not impossible for her to cope.

Once Mrs Coleman is released from jail, she throws herself into the cause almost with abandon, and with her focus on the cause there are tragic consequences for both families.

As a commentary on some of the major changes that started to happen in the 10 years between the death of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII this was very interesting. Some of the changes included the introduction of electricity to homes, the replacement of horses with cars, and of course the suffragette movement.

Overall, an entertaining enough read, although not as good as Girl with a Pearl Earring. I do plan to read her other books before her new book comes out early next year.

Rating 4/5

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

A friend of mine originally read this book several months ago and loved it, and I intended to read it eventually, but it slipped my mind. When Heather reviewed it more recently, it jogged my memory and I went and borrowed it and actually got around to reading it this time!

Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane's child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

A graphic novel, the story is quite simple, telling the story of Marjane's childhood in Iran, particulary focussing on her life between the ages of 10 and 14, at an incredible turbulent time in her country's history. A young girl, Marjane is trying to understand the changing political and religious landscape, including the loss of freedom and the imposition of the veil, and then the war with Iraq.

I was so surprised by the emotions that this book generated. Whilst I was expecting to like this book, it really touched me in ways I did not expect. I was tearing up on the train, I physically cringed as I saw and read about her uncle, and I laughed at the idea of her parents smuggling in Kim Wilde posters.

Very powerful, and highly recommended.

I can't wait to pick up Persepolis II!

Rating 4.5/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Hidden Side of a Leaf

Things Mean A Lot
B & b Ex Libris
The Bluestockings
Katrina's Reads

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Library crazy

It's been a while since I had one of these posts...but things haven't gotten any better! Whilst I have three books to return to the library, by tomorrow night I am going to have five more to pick up! Always seem to be going backwards!

The items I have out are:

Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts

Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith (one of the ones that I can take back soon)

The Cup of Ghosts by P C Doherty

Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier

Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke

Household Gods by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove (another one I can take back)

In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant

Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

The Last Camel Died At Noon by Elizabeth Peters

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris (this one can go back too!)

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Mewtwo Strikes Back by Tracy West (Pokemon not mine!)

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

Resolution by Denise Mina (I HAVE to read this soon...I can't extend it any further!)

The Tidal Poole by Karen Harper

The White Mare by Jules Watson

A Wild Pursuit by Eloisa James

The books I am going to pick up tomorrow:

Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

The Cross Country Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir

Sarah by Marek Halter

That will still leave 10 items on request....hopefully no more of them will come in this week!

Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

In this latest installment in the internationally best-selling, universally beloved series, there is considerable excitement at The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. A cobra has been found in Precious Ramotswe’s office. Then a nurse from a local medical clinic reveals that faulty blood–pressure readings are being recorded there. And Botswana has a new advice columnist, Aunty Emang, whose advice is rather curt for Mma Ramotswe’s taste.

All this means a lot of work for our heroine and her inestimable assistant, Grace Makutsi, and they are, of course, up to the challenge. But there’s trouble brewing in Mma Makutsi’s own life. When Phuti Radiphuti misses their customary dinner date, she begins to wonder if he is having second thoughts about their engagement. And while Mma Makutsi may be able to buy that fashionably narrow (and uncomfortable) pair of blue shoes, it may not buy her the happiness that Mma Ramotswe promises her she’ll find in the simpler things—in contentment with the world and enough tea to smooth over the occasional bumps in the road.

I really love this series - it's such a fantastic way to spend a pleasant few hours, lost in Botswana, sitting in the shade with a cup of bush tea.

The thing about these books is whilst things happen, they are like a series of little events as opposed to a couple of huge story arcs. Amongst the issues that are of concern to Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi this time around are a doctor who appears to be providing incorrect medical advice to his patients, a bad feeling at the wild life refuge, a blackmail scheme, Mma Ramotswe going on a diet and some very nice, but ill fitting blue shoes.

What McCall Smith is so good at is taking really small events, and making them really entertaining little episodes, that are usually extremely entertaining. They can be unusual, as in the case of the cobra which got into the office of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, or everyday, such as where Mma Ramotswe laments the skills of drivers in modern Gaborone. Whatever the case, each episode is given to us with a full measure of wit and charm, served up with a side of the heat, sounds and smells of Africa.

Very enjoyable read!

The books in this series are:

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency
Tears of the Giraffe
Morality for Beautiful Girls
The Kalahari Typing School for Men
The Full Cupboard of Life
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
Blue Shoes and Happiness

Rating 4.5/5

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

The second book in the Southern Vampire Novel series featuring Sookie Stackhouse, following on from Dead Until Dark.

Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse is on a streak of bad luck. First, her coworker is murdered and no one seems to care. Then she's face-to-face with a beastly creature that gives her a painful and poisonous lashing. Enter the vampires, who graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn't enjoy it).

Point is, they saved her life. So when one of the bloodsuckers asks for a favor, she complies. And soon, Sookie's in Dallas using her telepathic skills to search for a missing vampire. She's supposed to interview certain humans involved. There's just one condition: the vampires must promise to behave--and let the humans go unharmed. Easier said than done. All it takes is one delicious blonde and one small mistake for things to turn deadly. . .

From having never read a vampire novel, this was my third one in a month. I guess I haven't really got to any hardcore ones yet though.

When yet another one of Sookie's coworkers is murdered, and Sookie is the one to find the body stuffed in the back of one of the local policemen's car, it's bad enough. But when she is attacked by a maenad and ends up with poisonous wounds on her back, and all so that she can give a "message" to Eric, you know that Sookie's in for a rough ride.

It has been agreed that Sookie will be hired out to a nest of vampires who live in Dallas. One of the vampires has gone missing, and it is up to Sookie to question the humans who hang out with the vampires to see what they know. Sookie has agreed to do this only on the condition that the humans won't be harmed once they have been finished with.

Sookie and Bill head off for Dallas, not realising that they are heading into a lot of danger. There is a radical anti-vampire movement there that is masquerading in the form of a fundamentalist church, known as the Fellowship of the Sun.

The fellowship has a vampire in their midst who is determined to commit suicide by exposing himself to the sun's rays. That is not enough however....the leaders of the fellowship want another vampire, and maybe even a couple of humans to make the show really exciting!!

Along the way, Sookie meets another telepath, some shapeshifters and many more vampires, and in more danger than she really wanted to be! Can't a girl just live a quiet life with her vampire boyfriend. Even once they return home, there is still more drama, as Sookie sets out to assist in solving the mystery of who really killed her friend and co-worker.

Once again, I really enjoyed this read. There were several laugh out loud moments, and the relationship between Bill and Sookie seems to be developing very nicely indeed! It will be interesting to see how the continued presence of Eric impacts on their relationship in future books! I guess because I had more of an idea what to expect I actually enjoyed it more than Dead Until Dark. Hopefully I will be picking up the next book in the series tomorrow, so I will soon know if the high standard has been maintained or not.

Rating 4.5/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Melissa's Bookshelf

Monday, July 03, 2006

Household Gods by Judith Tarr and Harry Turtledove

Nicole Gunther-Perrin is a modern young professional, proud of her legal skills but weary of childcare, of senior law partners who put the moves on her, and of her deadbeat ex-husband. Following a ghastly day of dealing with all three, she falls into bed asleep...and awakens the next morning to find herself in a different life, that of a widowed tavernkeeper in the Roman frontier town of Carnuntum around 170 A.D.

Delighted at first to be away from corrupt, sexist modern America, she quickly begins to realize that her new world is a complicated as her old one. Violence, dirt, and pain are everywhere - and yet many of the people she comes to know are as happy as those she knew in twentieth-century Los Angeles. Slavery is commonplace, gladiators kill for sport, and drunkenness is taken for granted - but everyday people somehow manage to face life with humor and good will.

No quitter, Nicole manages to adapt to her new life despite endless worry about the fate of her children "back" in the twentieth century. Then plague sweeps through Carnuntum, followed by brutal war. Amid pain and loss on a level she had never imagined, Nicole finds strength she had never known.

Having never read either of these two authors before, I came to this book without any preconceptions about the characters, the story, or anything like that. I was attracted to reading a story about finding yourself in a different time and place, and given that I tend to read historical fiction based in England, Ancient Rome was certainly a fresh focus for me.

Firstly, what did I like about this book? Reading about the life of an ordinary Roman woman was very interesting, along with many very interesting little tit bits, like the fact that many of the Roman statues were actually painted in very gaudy (and not necessarily tasteful) colours. The description of the smells and sounds of a busy Roman town were very vivid, as were the descriptions of the hardships that Nicole faced as she lived her life in the body of Umma, tavern keeper.

So, if those were the things that I did like, what didn't I like? Well, unfortunately, I didn't really ever warm to Nicole. During the first part of the book when she was in Los Angeles, I wanted to slap her, and say "Look, you aren't the only single mum out there trying to deal with all these issues". Then, when she got to Carnumtum, I wanted to slap her even more, if that's possible. The 20th century Nicole was pretty uptight a lot of the time, and she took that to the nth degree in 2nd century life. Her father had been an alcoholic and so she had never had a drink in her life, so when her slave Julia presents her with a cup of wine she thinks nothing of pushing it away and drinking water, and making "her" two children, also drink it, meaning that they all got sick. She was constantly making reference to the lead in the water pipes, in the makeup, and hygiene conditions in the town. Now, if someone was to really end up at that point of time, I am sure that they would be appalled by the conditions in the same way as Nicole was, but it felt as though I was being hit over the head over cricket bat over and over and over again with all the mentions of those types of issues.

It was interesting to watch as Nicole got to know all of the people that the previous Umma already knew, including her family, her slave Julia, her children and her boyfriend.

I guess for me the fact that I couldn't get to like Nicole all that much is a really big problem for this, so my rating reflects the fact that whilst I did like quite a lot about this book, there was one major flaw. Another less major flaw was that we found out what happened to Nicole's body while she was in the past, but there was never any mention at all about what happened to Umma whilst Nicole was being her. It would also have been interesting to watch Umma try to work out exactly what Nicole had done whilst she was Umma - like inexplicably being able to read Latin, and then when they were returned to their normal states, the fact that Umma once again wouldn't be able to read, and most particularly Umma's thoughts when she realised that Nicole had freed her slave.

One interesting thing, if you google for Carnumtum you can see images of the ruins of this actual Roman settlement which are located not too far from Vienna in Austria.

Rating 3/5

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Romantic Suspense

So I signed up for the July TBR challenge, which is to read a Romantic Suspense title.

No problems, right? Well, no. Except for the fact that I have only read a couple of romantic suspense titles, and have very little romantic suspense on my TBR pile. There are a couple, although I am not terribly inspired to read them at the moment. So, I am seeking recommendations.

Which romantic suspense titles should I be reading?

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balance precariously on the point of a knife -- between desire and danger.

Deeply romantic and extraordinarily suspenseful, Twilight captures the struggle between defying our instincts and satisfying our desires. This is a love story with bite.

I wish I could remember where I first saw this book mentioned so that I could thank them! Being a relative newcomer to vampire books (only having read one other), this book was completely fresh to me.

When Bella Swan moves to Forks, she goes from being a non entity in Phoenix, to being mega popular in her new school. Unfortunately the only boy she is interested in is Edward Cullen, and well, he's not really a boy. The fact that he disappears on sunny days, and never seems to eat anything, are the first clues as to his, identity I guess!

As for Edward, he is instantly attracted to Bella, and goes out of his way initially to avoid her, because when you are attracted to someone, that tends to end quite badly! Gradually though, Bella and Edward gravitate more and more to each other and Edward begins to learn that he has more control over his desires than he initially thought. As Bella gets herself into more and more scrapes Edward becomes almost like her bodyguard.

Whilst most of the town of Forks has no idea that the well respected Cullen family are anything other than the fine standing citizens that they seem, albeit with very impressive cars, there are certain people who do know and who are trying to warn Bella away from Edward. Edward is also dealing with some resistance from within his own family, but gradually they begin to accept her. However that acceptance nearly turns to a tragedy when some newcomers come to town and find Bella with the Cullens.

The characters in this book are delightful, and there are several very funny moments, including some charming moments when there is a sense of tiredness around living as an immortal. For example, at one point Edward is talking to Bella about two of his brothers and sisters, who have chosen to be each others life partners, and he says something along the lines of "I suppose we'll have to go to their wedding in a few years...again".

Edward and his family are able to be integrated into society as the vampires in Meyer's world don't have to sleep all night in coffins, can be seen in the sunshine and can live on something other than human blood. Having so integrated has the added benefit of allowing them to occasionally take on very human traits.

This was a very enjoyable read, and am looking forward to reading more about Bella and Edward when the sequel is issued later this year. Oh, and both this book and the sequel (called New Moon) have really nice covers in my opinion.

Rating 4.5/5

Other Bloggers Thoughts:

The Bookworm - Naida

Passion for the Page
Not Enough Bookshelves
Katrina's Reads
Sophisticated Dorkiness


Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP