Saturday, September 30, 2006

What an Earl Wants by Shirley Karr

Shirley Karr was author of the month in, I don't know, about July in my Historical Romance Chat yahoo group - I'm only a few months late! LOL!

What's a lord to do?

The devilishly attractive Earl of Sinclair is having trouble holding onto servants, what with so many of them pairing up and running off to be wed. Luckily, his able new secretary, J. Quincy, seems scrupulously loyal, and possesses the invaluable ability to flawlessly forge the master's signature. But imagine Sinclair's surprise when he discovers the "J" stands for "Josephine." His cherished employee is, in actuality, a quite delectable lady in disguise!

Jo desperately needs this position, and never actually lied about her genderĂ‚—though she didn't expect Sinclair's keen eye to expose the truth so quickly. If the ton finds out, the scandal could be devastating. But Jo believes she can still be of service to the dashing lord. The greatest difficulty, however, will be keeping her mind on business with Sinclair standing so tantalizingly, intoxicatingly close. And what this earl wants, he usually gets!

I'm going to state straight up that I gave this book a rating of 3.5/5, but as I sit here thinking about what to write I can't help but think I have been a bit harsh, and yet.....not really.

The thing is that I have read most of this book, or more precisely the ideas in this book, more than once before and it didn't feel really fresh at all. There are some authors who can write cliches and they are still fresh as a daisy, and others where it doesn't. That's not to say that this book wasn't enjoyable, because it was. The relationship was satisfying enough. Maybe my issue was really about the pacing which was quite up and down. There were long parts of the books where the characters were gallivanting around the place, and then long stretches where there was little movement, because Sinclair had to recover from his injuries.

I don't think I really get the whole woman dressed as a man thing either - a gorgeous woman isn't recognisable at all when dressed as a man. Hmmm. The other thing was that Jo was one of those heroines who has given up all hope of a future because she is making sacrifices for her family. Yes, it undoubtedly happens, but it was laid on a little thick for my liking!

I didn't dislike this book at all really. There were some fun ideas in it, like the fact that the heroes staff kept on pairing up and leaving him. I liked it enough to have already got the author's next book out of the just wasn't exceptional for me.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

A compelling emotional mystery in the timeless vein of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, about family secrets and the magic of books and storytelling.

Margaret Lea works in her father's antiquarian bookshop where her fascination for the biographies of the long-dead has led her to write them herself. She gets a letter from one of the most famous authors of the day, the mysterious Vida Winter, whose popularity as a writer has been in no way diminished by her reclusiveness. Until now, Vida has toyed with journalists who interview her, creating outlandish life histories for herself - all of them invention. Now she is old and ailing, and at last she wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. Her letter to Margaret is a summons.

Somewhat anxiously, the equally reclusive Margaret travels to Yorkshire to meet her subject - and Vida starts to recount her tale. It is one of gothic strangeness featuring the March family; the fascinating, devious and wilful Isabelle and the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline.

Margaret is captivated by the power of Vida's storytelling. But as a biographer she deals in fact not fiction, and she doesn't entirely trust Vida's account. She goes to check up on the family, visiting their old home and piecing together their story in her own way. What she discovers on her journey to the truth is for Margaret a chilling and transforming experience.

I first saw a post about this book over on Heather's Blog, and as soon as I saw it, I added it to my list and requested it from the library!

There is a lot of hype around this book around the place, with even Barnes and Noble making it their first ever "Barnes and Noble Recommends" book. The danger of books with this much hype is that the book will not live up to it - fortunately this one does, both for me and just about everyone else who has read it. I think I am yet to see a review from someone saying that they really didn't like it.

The overriding story is a simple one - a reclusive author decides to finally tell the truth about her life. In the past when Vida Winter had been interviewed she had given a variety of different answers, but now it is time to reveal her story. It is the undercurrents lying beneath this simple story that make this book compelling - the mysterious events at Angelfield, the strange and compelling relationship between the twins Emmaline and Adeline, the life and in some cases deaths of those who are charged with taking care of them, and the relationship of all of these people and events to the life of Vida Winter.

Also threading through the story is Margaret's search for the truth about her own birth and relationships with her parents, especially her mother who has been withdrawn for as long as she can remember.

The author does an amazing job at creating an atmosphere where trying to find the truth is bound to uncover many surprises and maybe some unwanted secrets.

Populated with a cast of lonely characters searching for their own truths, this book is an amazing read, and well worth picking up!

Rating 5/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Mog's Book Blog
A Striped Armchair
Chris @ Book-a-rama
Maw Books
Some Reads
Melody's Reading Corner
Things Mean a Lot
Bold. Blue. Adventure
Books and Other Thoughts

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's my baby's birthday!!

Well actually he's 8 so he's not really my baby anymore!!!

My sister made the cake...and she did a fantastic job don't you think?

The only bad thing about his birthday is that it means that I have been talking to the ex in the last couple of days. I have already arranged vacation care for Dear Son (DS) for all of the week, and he announced today that he is coming over Friday and expects me to make new arrangements and be able to take DS to meet him, and pick him up when he is done.

That's after we had a big discussion about how an IPod is probably not the best present for an 8 year maybe if he called more than 3 or 4 times a year then that would be a better present!!

Today he texted me to ask what time would be a good time for him to call tonight...I said 8pm, and somewhat stupidly had DS holding the phone for when it rang. 10 minutes later, still no call, so I texted him to say that DS was waiting. He was very polite and thanked me for reminding him.....I was livid...surely he can remember to call himself!

Anyway enough of that!!!

P.S. I am still posting a bit all over the place at the moment. Scroll down for reviews of Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas, the Wish List anthology.

There are still reviews coming of Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes and Vengeance in Death by J D Robb, and in the next couple of days I will post a couple of pictures from when we were away!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes

The second of the books following the ups and downs of life for the Walsh sisters, following on from Watermelon. Coincidentally it is also the Bitches Book Selection for this month over at The Book Bitches.

'How did it end up like this? Twenty-seven, unemployed, mistaken for a drug addict, in a treatment centre in the back arse of nowhere with an empty Valium bottle in my knickers...'

Meet Rachel Walsh. She has a pair of size 8 feet and such a fondness for recreational drugs that her family has forked out the cash for a spell in Cloisters, Dublin's answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. She's only agreed to her incarceration because she's heard that rehab is wall-to-wall jacuzzis, gymnasiums and rock stars going tepid turkey - and it's about time she had a holiday.

But what Rachel doesn't count on are the toe-curling embarrassments heaped on her by family and group therapy, the dearth of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll - and missing Luke, her ex. What kind of a new start in life is this?

Marian Keyes writes books about subjects that aren't very funny (and shouldn't be treated lightly) but manages to inject the books with charm, humour, and meaning without making the books seem preachy or condescending...not an easy task I am sure!

Rachel Walsh is a good time party girl....who unfortunately doesn't seem to have a very good idea of self. When her family and friends decide that drastic action is required because her drug taking has gotten out of hand, Rachel seems genuinely bemused. There's no way she's an addict - no way known, especially once she gets to Cloisters and sees some of the other patients there. It is only Rachel gets to know her fellow patients and here's there stories, that she begins to see that there are still some aspects of her behaviour that she shares with them.

It is not until she is confronted by some of the people that she has been closest to that it really becomes clear to her just how much of a problem she really does have.

Sounds gloomy huh? But it really isn't. The Walsh sisters are an eclectic bunch of young ladies, and it is interesting as Rachel dwells on what role her family have played in her issues that have led to her addiction. Rachel is not always likeable...which is particularly evident when we look at the origins of her relationship with her ex Luke, and the ways that she treated him and the others around her. Her time in New York is told in a series of flashbacks as Rachel contemplates the choices that she made.

As her self awareness increases, Rachel needs to start looking forward to the future, and a life without drugs and alcohol, but that may still mean that she needs to face some of her old demons.

In closing I'd just like to say........I want a Luke!!! He was so lovely!!!

Rating 4.5/5

Friday, September 22, 2006

Future of reviewing?

Is this the book review of the future??

I might need to learn some new skills if it is!!

Good job Jane!

Persepolis Film News

Saw today on the Powell's Book blog that Persepolis is being made into a film - written and co-produced by Marjane Satrapi. I wonder if this film will make it here. You can have a look at some stills from the film here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

The fourth book in the Wallflowers series following on Devil in Winter.

After spending three London seasons searching for a husband, Daisy Bowman's father has told her in no uncertain terms that she must find a husband. Now. And if Daisy can't snare an appropriate suitor, she will marry the man he chooses -- the ruthless and aloof Matthew Swift.

Daisy is horrified. A Bowman never admits defeat, and she decides to do whatever it takes to marry someone . . . anyone . . . other than Matthew. But she doesn't count on Matthew's unexpected charm . . . or the blazing sensuality that soon flares beyond both their control. And Daisy discovers that the man she has always hated just might turn out to be the man of her dreams.

But right at the moment of sweet surrender, a scandalous secret is uncovered . . . one that could destroy both Matthew and a love more passionate and irresistible than Daisy's wildest fantasies.

With Daisy's story, we round out the tales of the original Wallflowers that we first met in Secrets of a Summer Night. Thankfully this book isn't just an excuse to wheel out the couples from the first three books. They are all here, but I think that they definitely fulfill varied roles within the stories and aren't just included for the sake of being included.

Daisy is the only one of the Wallflower's to have not yet got married, and after a couple of years in London her father is getting impatient. He gives Daisy an ultimatum...find a husband within the next few weeks or marry the man of his choice.....his business partner Matthew Swift. Daisy is mortified - there is no way she is going to marry Matthew Swift, but what she doesn't know is that the awkward young man that she knew before has filled out into an impressive figure of a man, in more ways than one.

As for Matthew, he has been summoned to England and responded accordingly, without being aware of what Mr Bowman's intentions are. Matthew has been half in love with Daisy for a very long time, but there is a secret from his past that means that Matthew is reluctant to acknowledge or act on his feelings for Daisy.

So, what didn't I like about his book. I don't think I will be the first to say that Lilian was a bit too overbearing throughout this book, although I guess she was just being a bit of a mother hen. There were times that I wished that Marcus would just tell her to go and rest or something! LOL!!

There wasn't enough Sebastian...then again, maybe I have to go and reread Devil in Winter in order to get my fill!

In terms of the main characters I liked Matthew a lot - in fact as I sit here trying to work out what order I would rank the hero's in the series in I really struggle. Well, after putting Sebastian at number 1, then I struggle with the others because I really liked them all! Daisy was alright as well, although I am not very heroine focused a lot of the time!

Another thing that I didn't really like was the whole crisis that occurred at the end of the book revolving around Matthew's past, but Daisy's reaction to the events portrayed was really well written. I guess you can't really have one without the other, so I guess it is just a minor gripe!

Overall this was a good ending to this part of the story. I can't wait for the next Wallflower's story to be release, which is supposed to be Cam Rohan's story. He actually shared a steamy kiss with Daisy in Devil in Winter...can't wait to meet the heroine who is deemed a good match with this sexy gypsy!

Rating 4/5

Wish List Anthology

I picked this book up for one story and one story only - that of Lord Andrew Drake - half brother of Logan Scott from Because You're Mine. Of the other authors, I had read Lynsay Sands before, but the other two were new to me.

The first story in the book is the Kleypas novella, I Will. It features Lord Andrew Drake, half brother to Logan Scott, notorious rake and a man who has just been disowned by his own father. In order to get undisowned (if there is such a word!), Andrew needs to prove to his dying father that he has changed his ways, so that he can then inherit everything the Duke has. Andrew sees that the only way he can achieve this is if he pretends to be interested in a well mannered, well connected young lady of the ton. Enter Caroline Hargreaves who meets both of those criteria, but who also wants to stop her brother, who is one of Andrew's gambling buddies, from destroying himself, and the family. When Andrew asks her to allow him to pretend to court her, Caroline agrees but the price is that Andrew must ensure that her brother is no longer able to gamble his life away.

Inevitably, the more time they spend together the more that Caroline realises that Andrew is really a much better man that she originally thought and they gradually fall in love. However, the path of true love rarely runs smoothly and just when Caroline thinks that she is going to get her man, Andrew starts to ignore her. Caroline takes matters into her own hands, and all's well that ends well!

Except for two things I really enjoyed this story - the blackmail twist at the end of the novel was probably a step too far. A lot happened in a short space of time in this novella and this aspect of the story could probably have been done without. The other thing was where Caroline takes matters into her own hands, which I really felt a little uncomfortable with (can't say a lot more without spoiling!)

The second story was Puddings, Pastries and Thou by Lisa Cach. Vivian Ambrose was orphaned at a young age, and from that time she has been shuffled from one distant relative to another. Having spent the previous few years as a companion/carer to a now deceased relative, Vivian arrives at the home of the Twitchens, who seem to think that the best course of action for her would be for her to have a season and marry for herself. The Twitchen's daughter Penelope is not best pleased as she doesn't want any competition for when she comes out in society herself, so that stage is set - Vivian needs to get married, and it needs to happen quickly!

Vivian meets Richard Brent, who for reasons that become clear later in the story is deemed to be unsuitable, and they are instantly attracted to each other, but with Vivian's aunt and uncle opposed to the match, it is not easy for the two to be together.

What did I like...well, I liked one of the very last scenes. The Twitchen's take desperate measures to protect Vivian's reputation, but it doesn't seem to be enough, and the moment when they realise that is classic. I really, really liked Richard - a man who doesn't necessarily meet the ton's standards of honour, but certainly did the right thing in most circumstances in his life.

What didn't I like - Vivian's constant eating. It was cute at first, but it wore a bit thin after a while. Or maybe I was a bit jealous...if I ate like Vivian ate then I would be massive!

The third novella was Union, by another new to me author Claudia Dain. Another young lady who needs to get married in a hurry, Clarissa Walingford has decided that she needs to find an eligible Irish man, but seeing as wealthy titled Irish men are pretty thin on the ground then she will settle for an English man who happens to have property in Ireland, with the idea that her husband can stay in England and she can go and live in Ireland.

She makes a list of the men who meet her criteria. Originally she meets Lord Montwyn and won't consider him, but as soon as she finds out that he does have Irish land then he is in!

I didn't really like this story. We are given no reason why Clarissa is in such a hurry. Eventually details are provided of why Clarissa is so desperate to go back to Ireland but you know I wasn't really convinced by them, and I thought that the ending where it was contrived and completely unnecessary. The author gave Clarissa nine brothers...I wonder if she was hoping to start a series featuring the Walingfords. It would take a lot for me to want to read that series I'm telling you!!

The final story in the anthology was All I Want by Lynsay Sands. The last time I read this author I was pretty unimpressed and I can't say that it worked for me in this story as well.

Ever since Prudence's brother died, her father has been drinking and gambling away the family fortune, to the extent that the vast majority of the servants have been let go, there are debt collectors knocking on the door every day, and their furniture is beginning to get sold off. Prudence has tried to talk to her father but he avoids her, so she decides to go and talk to him where he the gaming hall he frequents. After not being allowed in by the club's owner, Lord Stockton, Prudence tries again and again to get into the club, causing disaster after disaster within the club. And what is Lord Stockton's reaction......why, he falls in love with her, despite the fact that her antics are causing him to lose money left, right and centre.

The thing that was really annoying to me was how easily the gambling issues were resolved, both for Prudence's father and in relation to Lord Stockton owning a gaming hall.

Overall, one good, one okay, and two stinkers. I sometimes wonder why I continue to read anthologies because most of the time I don't really find them all that satisfactory!

Rating 3/5

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Links to reviews!

Until I get a bit caught up, some of my posts are going to be all out of order. I will therefore put the links to any reviews that will be appearing out of order here until I get things under control again!

Here is a link to my review of The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde and this takes you to my review of Dark Lover by JR Ward. My review of Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop is here and here is Simply Love by Mary Balogh.

Oh the shame!

I did something the other day that I don't normally do! I actually had to take some books back to the library unread because I couldn't extend them any further, and I just wasn't going to get them read anytime soon.

The ones I took back unread were Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron, Cup of Ghosts by PC Doherty and Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke. I actually have to take back The Twylight Tower by Karen Harper as well...better get onto that! I also moved the three books my son had on my card onto his card thinking that that would help reduce the number of books that I had out, but I had six more books waiting for me!!!

So, my library list at the moment looks like this:

The Ballad of Desmond Kale by Roger McDonald (can't extend this one so need to get onto it pretty soon!)
The Dawn Stag by Jules Watson
Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
Dreaming the Eagle by Manda Scott
The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan
Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop (can take this one back now)
Holiday in Death by J D Robb
Ill Wind by Rachel Caine
In the Prince's Bed by Sabrina Jeffries
The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander (brand new book! Yay!)
Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir
Light in Shadow by Jayne Ann Krentz
Midnight Angel by Lisa Kleypas
The Murders of Richard III by Elizabeth Peters
The Observations by Jane Harris
The Pirate Prince by Gaelen Foley
The Quilter's Legacy by Jennifer Chiaverini (Started this but haven't been able to get into it like I did with the other books in the series)
Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes
The Rake by Suzanne Enoch
Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
Sarah by Marek halter
Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas (this is a high demand book so can only have it out for two weeks and can't extend it)
The Snake, the Crocodile and the dog by Elizabeth Peters
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (about half way through this one - must pick it up again)
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (Brand new book...yay! But can't extend)
Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik (Brand new book..yay!!)
The Twylight Tower by Karen Harper (Must, must take this back!)
What an Earl Wants by Shirley Karr
Wish List anthology (finished this already)
Excalibur anthology
Mirabilis by Susann Cokal (started but couldn't get into it)

On my hold list I have:

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory (ready to pick up, but I will have to read it quickly because I can't extend it)
Angel Fall by Nora Roberts (no. 17 in the queue)
Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts (no. 15 in the queue)
Motor Mouth by Janet Evanovich (no. 12 in the queue)
Queen of Swords by Sara Donati (no. 1 but it's not out yet)
Stolen by Kelley Armstrong (no. 1)
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (no. 1 but it's not out yet)

The good thing about those is that there is only a couple that can come in in the next couple of weeks.

Aside from the books mentioned I still haven't started my TBR challenge book, or She's Come Undone for one of my groups...might be skipping that one this month! LOL!

When I was at the library, my son was reading all the titles that I was booking out and checking how many pages were in each book (because he likes to do that!). When he got to Scandal in Spring he looked at the sticker that was on the front that says "High Demand" and he read "High Demon". Had us all in stitches. The librarians wanted to know what a low demon book might look like! Maybe he knows that Lisa Kleypas has plans to move into paranormals next...inside knowledge or something!!

The only reason why I am looking forward to going back to work next week is so that I can have 3 hours reading time every day on the train so that I can make a dent in this pile!

Simply Love by Mary Balogh

New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh returns to the elegance and sensuality of Regency England as she continues the enthralling story of four remarkable women- friends and teachers at Miss Martin's School for Girls. At the center of this spellbinding novel is Anne Jewell, a teacher haunted by a scandalous past...until she meets a man who teaches her the most important lesson of all: nothing is simple when it comes to love....

She spies him in the deepening dusk of a Wales evening- a lone figure of breathtaking strength and masculinity, his handsome face branded by a secret pain. For single mother and teacher Anne Jewell, newly arrived with her son at a sprawling estate in Wales on the invitation of an influential friend, Sydnam Butler is a man whose sorrows- and passions- run deeper than she could have ever imagined.

As steward of a remote seaside manor, Sydnam lives a reclusive existence far from the pity and disdain of others. Yet almost from the moment Anne first appears on the cliffs, he senses in this lovely stranger a kindred soul, and between these two wary hearts, desire stirs. Unable to resist the passion that has rescued them both from loneliness, Anne and Sydnam share an afternoon of exquisite lovemaking. Now the unwed single mother and war-scarred veteran must make a decision that could forever alter their lives. For Sydnam, it is a chance to heal the pain of the past. For Anne, it is the glorious promise of a future with the man who will dare her to reveal her deepest secrets...before she can give him all her heart.

When Anne Jewell is convinced to go on holidays with the Marquess of Hallmere (her son's cousin and self appointed guardian angel), Anne is determined that she will in effect be like a companion and act as a servant. When it appears on her first night that her hosts have other ideas, she is mortified, and decides to go for a walk. Whilst out walking she catches her first glimpse of Sydnam Butler. At first captivated, when he turns to face her she sees the scars on his face and flees. Mortified by her own terrible behaviour she returns to the spot within minutes but the mysterious man has disappeared.

When she meets him again, Anne apologises, and is then drawn to spend time with Sydnam, finding another lonely soul, with a similarly scarred psyche. Whilst Sydnam's scars are very visible (along with the inner ones he has), Anne's are invisible, but still very much affecting her daily life. As Anne and Sydnam continue to spend time together there is a growing sexual tension between them.

The first half of this book where the couple get to know each other was really good. The dialogue, both internal and external, was well written and completely believable. Given that we had met both of these characters before, there was already a sense of knowing them, at least a little, as I was going into the book and I think that helped with my enjoyment. Sydnam is the brother of Kit Butler who was the hero in A Summer to Remember, and Anne first was mentioned in Slightly Scandalous, and then appeared again in Simply Unforgettable.

The only thing I have felt a couple of times recently with Mary Balogh is that I have read the story before. The scarred war hero had echoes of Adam from The Secret Pearl, although I liked Sydnam from the get go, not like Adam, who I had to get to like eventually throughout that book!

I actually had a couple of issues with the turns that the book took in the second half, and also overall with the characters, oh, and the copyrighters who wrote that back cover blurb!!!

Firstly, my issue with the characters..........this book was like a passing parade of characters from Balogh's previous books. All of the Bedwyn's were present and accounted for - along with their spouses, children, and in some cases their in-laws. Yes, some of them performed a role within the story, but maybe it is time to give some of them time to live quietly in the country and not be dragged out into the spotlight in every book. Then, when the Bedwyn's temporarily exit (stage right), in come all of the Butler's from A Summer to Remember, oh, and a mention of the characters from One Night for Love for good measure. And then, change of location, and role in the characters from Simply Unforgettable.

Secondly, my issue with the storyline. Please be aware that there will be SPOILERS in the following couple of paragraphs.


Why, why, why did the author have Anne Jewel get pregnant from her one sexual encounter with Sydnam. The poor woman has had sex twice in her life (one being a rape) and she has ended up with two pregnancies. Yes, I understand that that meant that Sydnam would do the right thing and marry her thus moving the story forward, but surely it would have been a more romantic story had they been so drawn to each other that they continued some kind of communication eventually leading to their getting together. Yes, I know that it could happen (after all my own mother must have only had sex three times!!) but to me it felt very manipulative way of making the story go where it needed to go.

Secondly, the copyrighters. "Anne and Sydnam share an afternoon of exquisite lovemaking". Did they read the book? One of the things that I thought the author did do very well was in the portrayal of the sexual issues that a woman that has been raped or abused feels. Whilst Anne was a very willing participant initially, the lovemaking was not exquisite for her, and Sydnam knew it! Of course, he thought it was about him when it wasn't but still!

*********End SPOILERS********

If it was just Sydnam and Anne's story then I would have rated this higher, but because of my issues I have had to mark it down just a little.

Rating 3.5/5

Monday, September 18, 2006

Vengeance in Death by JD Robb

He is an expert with the latest technology . . . a madman with the mind of a genius and the heart of a killer. He quietly stalks his prey. Then he haunts the police with cryptic riddles about the crimes he is about to commit - always solved moments too late to save the victims' lives.

Police lieutenant Eve Dallas found the first victim butchered in his own home. The second lost his life in a vacant luxury apartment. The two men had little in common. Both suffered unspeakable torture before their deaths. And both had ties to an ugly secret of ten years past - a secret shared by none other than Eve's new husband, Roarke.

Eve is looking forward to going home on time after having wrapped up a relatively straight forward case, when she is contacted personally and given a riddle to solve that leads her to find the badly mutilated body of a man in his luxury apartment. When another man is killed, this time in one of Rourke's empty rental properties, it soon becomes clear that whoever is killing these people is working his way towards Eve and Roarke himself, and along the way seems determined to make it appear as though Summerset might be involved in the deaths. As much as Eve dislikes Summerset, she finds it hard to believe that he would murder people, so as she deals with the killer, she has to find ways to either prove that her husband's close friend and butler is either guilty or not, as the case may be.

I really liked in that book that Eve and Roarke went back to the mean streets of Dublin to meet some of the people from Roarke's past, reiterating that he is human (every now and again he seems to be almost too good to be true...just a little bit!).

This book also sees the introduction of a new character that was given a lot of page time, so I presume he will be back. At the end of the last book, Captain Feeney was invited to take his family to Roarke's home in Mexico. When Eve needs technical assistance, she is assigned a newcomer by the name of McNab. I think we are going to see more of him, and I will be glad to. He seems to have a little chemistry going with Eve's offsider Peabody.

What amazes me with Nora Roberts in both her books written under the JD Robb and the Nora Roberts name is that she seems to have the ability to produce a lot of books, at a remarkably consistent quality. At the moment I am averaging one JD Robb book a month, and I am definitely enjoying the ride!

Rating 4/5

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop

This is the second book in the Black Jewel Trilogy by Anne Bishop following on from Daughter of the Blood.

Dreams Made Flesh

The Blood have waited centuries for the coming of Witch, the living embodiment of magic. But Jaenelle, the young girl prophecy spoke of, is haunted by the cruel battles fought over her future power.. for not all the Blood await her as saviour. Some dismiss her as myth. Some refuse to believe. And some would use her, making her a puppet to their whims.

Only time, and the love of her guardians have healed Jaenelle's physical wounds. But her mind is still fragile, amnesia providing a shield from the terrors of her childhood. Nothing, however, can shield her from her destiny. And soon the day of reckoning will come. When her memories return. When her magic matures. When she is forced to accept her fate.

And on that day, the dark Realms will know what it means to be ruled by Witch.

THIS is the book I read while I was on holidays!! Which is kind of funny I guess because it wouldn't be my normal kind of vacation read - mainly because it is a book that I had to think about as I read it, particularly in the beginning parts.

This book takes up where the first book begins, so there may be a few spoilers for Daughter of the Blood in this review.

Jaenelle's body is healing but her spirit is still wandering in the abyss following on from the traumatic events at the end of the last book. This book is really the story of her gradual recovery, both physically and mentally, her gradual rebuilding of her friendships with the other young queens in the realms that will eventually help form her power base and also her realisations about what really happened to her, and who saved her life.

Lucivar plays more of the starring role in this book, and Daemon is much less present (and I missed him). It enable Jaenelle and Lucivar to form a stronger relationship that I am sure will be an important element of the next book. I do however really hope that Lucivar gets to find a mate in the next book.

I think that reading this book has really helped get my head around the world that Bishop has created. I think I said in my review of Daughter of the Blood that there were things that I found confusing in relation to the world building in the first book. In this book because there was actually less world building as opposed to just living in the created world it was much easier to follow the intricate webs between worlds and different levels and things within the realms. I am glad that I didn't leave too much time between reading the two books.

There was still plenty of tensions within the story as some tried to get to Jaenelle to destroy her and stop her from reaching her fated position of Witch. The stage is set for a fantastic third book, for Daemon to reenter the story, Jaenelle ready to be who she is fated to be and the world ready for the show down between good and evil.

Rating 4.5/5

Other Bloggers Thoughts:

Just Add Books

Back...kind of!

Got back from holidays today....had a great time! Only read one book, I am all theme parked out, and I am tired but relaxed! Unfortunately I am also pretty sick so it is going to take me a couple of days to get back into the swing of things!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Dark Lover by J R Ward

JR Ward was chosen as Author of the Month over in my Historical Romance Chat Yahoo group! Nope, not historical, but that's okay, because it made a nice change, and meant that I moved another new to me author I have been wanting to read up the list!

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly turf war going on between vampires and their slayers. There also exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Among them, none relishes killing their enemies more than Wrath, the leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood...

The only purebred vampire left on the planet, Wrath has a score to settle with the slayers who murdered his parents centuries ago. But when one of his most trusted fighters is killed- orphaning a half-breed daughter unaware of her heritage or her fate - Wrath must usher the beautiful female into the world of the undead…

Racked by a restlessness in her body that wasn't there before, Beth Randall is helpless against the dangerously sexy man who comes to her at night with shadows in his eyes. His tales of brotherhood and blood frighten her. But his touch ignites a dawning hunger that threatens to consume them both…

Yes I know that everyone in blog world is busy reviewing Lover Awakened...what can I say...I'm behind the times!! Actually I have only started reading paranormals in the last few months, so for me this whole world that JR Ward has created is pretty fresh - no comparisons to Alcheron (whoever he is) for me!! I'm not going to go into a whole description of the plot (there is one hereif you would like to read it)

So where to start? Well...I liked it a LOT. So much so that I went into just about every bookshop I went past while I was on holidays just to see if any of them had it. They didn't! So I still haven't got hold of Lover Eternal, but I will! I liked the characters, the tensions between them, especially once the human cop Butch was added to the mix. I did kind of wonder how a blind vampire could be a kick-ass fighter, but what do I know!!! I was creeped out by the Lessers, as I was supposed to be I would guess and at times freaked out a little by some of the Brothers, but my overall impression was a good one! I don't know that I am on my way to becoming a JR Ward fangirl (from what I hear she has enough of those already) but I will continue to read her books, and hopefully enjoy them!! Heck, I will probably end up buying her books, and I am really trying not to buy any books at the moment!

I loved the way that Wrath was able to let himself show Beth how much he loved her, and also that Beth was able to be the one that protected him at some points instead of it all being a one way relationship. I do have to say that the mating ceremony seems a bit extreme though!! Maybe because like Beth (Elizabeth) I have quite a long first name! Can anyone say Ouch!

With more Black Dagger Brotherhood books already out, and more planned, it looks like I will be spending more time in Caldwell, New York in the future.

Rating 4.5/5

A dilemna

I am going on holidays tomorrow for a week. In theory there will be warmer weather and sunshine...yay!!! That means me in my beach gear....not so yay!

So have I started packing my stuff? Nope.

How about my son's stuff? Nope.

Thought about games and entertainment and things to keep two 7 year olds entertained on a plane and at nights? Nope.

So what's the hold up? Well......I can't decide what books to take with me. In my head I have changed the list of books that I am taking with me at least three times. And that was before my friend rang me and said "Can you bring me some books to read too?". I have no idea what she likes to read!! The pressure is on!

What's that you say? My priorities are a bit wrong? Maybe, but what can a say...I'm a reader!!!

Oh, and I have one more review to write before I go, but I probably should do that later tonight when everything else is ready to go!

I might see you before, but if not.....see you next week!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde

The Gingerbreadman - psychopath, sadist, genius, convicted murderer and biscuit - is loose in the streets of Reading.

It isn't Jack Spratt's case. Despite the success of the Humpty Dumpty investigation, the well publicised failure to prevent Red Riding Hood and her Gran being eaten once again plunges the Nursery Crime Division into controversy.

Enforced non-involvement with the Gingerbreadman hunt looks to be frustrating until a chance encounter at the oddly familiar Deja-vu Club leads them onto the hunt for missing journalist Henrietta 'Goldy' Hatchett, star reporter for The Daily Toad.

The last witnesses to see her alive were The Three Bears, comfortably living out a life of rural solitude in Anderson's wood. But all is not what it seems. Are the unexplained explosions around the globe somehow related to missing nuclear scientist Angus McGuffin? Is cucumber growing really that dangerous? Why are National Security involved?

But most important of all: how could the bears' porridge be at such disparate temperatures when they were poured at the same time?

It is probably fair to say that I am a bit of a Jasper Fforde fangirl. I started reading the Thursday Next series of books a couple of years ago, and then had to wait patiently for his next book (The Big Over Easy) to come out, and then more patiently for this one! I do have to say though that I was actually a bit disappointed by The Big Over Easy, maybe just because it wasn't a Thursday Next book! Thankfully, Fforde has another winner on his hands with this book, and now I have to wait even more impatiently for the next two books - one to be published next year called War of the Words is another Thursday Next book, and the next Nursery Crime book after that!

I actually finished this a couple of weeks ago, so please forgive me if the details are a bit thin on the ground. Actually, they may have been that way anyway given that there was so much going on in this novel - Jack and his wife having issues because she doesn't seem to be aware that he is a Nursery Rhyme character, exploding cucumbers, a psychopathic killer Gingerbreadman on the loose (is he a cake or a biscuit?), a missing investigative reporter by the name of Goldie, Jack getting suspended from work, porridge as a restricted foodstuff and an out of this world experience for one of the characters amongst other things! Fforde manages to include these and many other ideas that range from just plain silly to laugh out loud funny, and yet the story still works as a mystery, with red herrings a plenty, clashes with authority and a terrific finale.

The characters of Jack and Mary Mary are much better defined in this novel, as are many of the other characters including the other members of the Nursery Crime Division, especially Ashley. The scene where Mary Mary meets his parents is very, very funny.

A fair indication of Fforde's humour can be gauged from the opening paragraph in the book:

The little village of Obscurity is remarkable only for its unremarkableness. Passed over for inclusion in almost every publication from the Domesday Book to Thirty Places Not Worth Visiting in Berkshire, the small hamlet is also a cartographic omission, an honour it shares with the neighbouring village of Hiding and Cognito. Indeed, the status of Obscurity was once thought so tenuous that some of the more philosophically inclined residents considered the possibility that since the village didn't exit then they might not exist either, and hurriedly placed 'existential question of being' on the parish council agenda, where it still resides, after much unresolved discussion, between 'church roof fund' and 'any other business'.

I just wish that Fforde could get all his crazy ideas on paper and have those new books out a bit quicker!! In the meantime there are always lots of fun things on his websites ( for the Nursery Crime books and for lots of things related to both series!)

Rating 4.5/5

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

In Persepolis, heralded by the Los Angeles Times as "one of the freshest and most original memoirs of our day," Marjane Satrapi dazzled us with her heartrending memoir-in-comic-strips about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Here is the continuation of her fascinating story.

In 1984, Marjane flees fundamentalism and the war with Iraq to begin a new life in Vienna. Once there, she faces the trials of adolescence far from her friends and family, and while she soon carves out a place for herself among a group of fellow outsiders, she continues to struggle for a sense of belonging.

Finding that she misses her home more than she can stand, Marjane returns to Iran after graduation. Her difficult homecoming forces her to confront the changes both she and her country have undergone in her absence and her shame at what she perceives as her failure in Austria. Marjane allows her past to weigh heavily on her until she finds some like-minded friends, falls in love, and begins studying art at a university. However, the repression and state-sanctioned chauvinism eventually lead her to question whether she can have a future in Iran.

As funny and poignant as its predecessor, Persepolis 2 is another clear-eyed and searing condemnation of the human cost of fundamentalism. In its depiction of the struggles of growing up--here compounded by Marjane's status as an outsider both abroad and at home--it is raw, honest, and incredibly illuminating.

I read Persepolis a while ago, and it was always my intention to read the follow up to it. And this week I did!

This book picks up where Persepolis left off. Marjane has moved to Austria to go to school, but she struggles over a long period of time to deal with the fact that she is an outsider there. She has to deal with prejudices and loneliness, and find herself drawn to the fringes of society, to the point that she eventually finds herself homeless.

Upon returning to Iran, she once again finds herself the outsider - she is seen as too Western, and eventually finds herself conforming to the expectations of Iranian society.

As a study of young girl trying to find her way in two different cultures, two completely different worlds, this is a very touching and emotional read. Having said that there were some true laugh out loud moments!

Highly recommended...but start with Persepolis first!

Rating 4.5/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Things Mean A Lot
B & b Ex Libris
Katrina Reads
The Daily Pugle (The Complete Persepolis)

The White Mare by Jules Watson

AD 79. Agricola, the ruthless governor of Roman Britain has just subdued the Welsh. Now he has turned to the last unconquered territory in Britain - Alba, Scotland.

For Rhiann, an Alban priestess and princess, the thread of invasion changes her life irrevocably. The king, her uncle, has no heir, and it is her duty to submit to a political marriage. But she is emotionally scarred from a terrible trauma, and can imagine nothing worse than matrimony. Desperately, she looks for a way out, but sees only the Romans closing in.

Into this volatile situation sails an Irish prince, Eremon, exiled from his home by familial treachery. His aim is to win renown and regain his throne, but first he has to deal with an unexpected alliance, prove himself a military leader, and unite the feuding tribes of his adopted country.

Against this backdrop of looming war Rhiann finds herself embarking on an unexpected journey of love and loss that will the true purpose of her life.

The White Mare is the first novel in the Dalriada Trilogy and marks the arrival of an exciting new talent in historical fiction. In the grand tradition of the saga, it is a tale of heroic deeds, of kinship and kingship, and the struggle for power, honour, freedom, and love.

One of the things I love about reading is the way that you can travel to other places and/or times, without actually leaving modern comforts behind!! This book transported me to Scotland (Alba) in AD 79. The Roman forces are massing in the south of Alba waiting for the order to be given to conquer the wild tribes of the north once and for all, given Rome control over the whole of the mainland Britain.

With the prospect of war looming, Eremon arrives. He is fleeing from a usurper that has taken his rightful place as King from one of the tribes of Ireland, and is looking for a place to spend time regrouping until he can go and take back what is rightfully his. His plan is to make a name for himself, and one way that can happen is if he becomes war leader of the tribes. However, that will take some doing, because the tribes of Alba are notorious for their ongoing feuds and battles. Eremon sees that the only way to defeat the Romans will be to be fighting as one cohesive unit, and works his way towards that girl.

Rhiann is a princess and also a priestess, and she has one pressing duty - to provide a royal heir. Quite interestingly, author chooses to have the crown pass through the females of the family, so that if Rhiann has a son, then he will become King, instead of the more traditional way of passing the crown from father to son. Rhiann is a leader of her people and a very strong woman, in all ways except one. She is traumatised from events that happened several years ago where her foster family was all killed, and she herself suffered terribly. These events have left her with a terrible distrust of men, and warriors in particular.

When it is agreed that a political match be made between Rhiann and Eremon, she is terrified of what is to come, and for a long time after the wedding she maintains a completely distant persona. Gradually though, Eremon and Rhiann begin to work together for the good of the people of Alba, although it is fair to say that there are setbacks along the way. They also work together towards healing of both their relationship and their minds.

The author doesn't back away from the faults of the characters, moving the story forward through the mistakes and errors in judgement that occur.

With a strong emphasis on the role of fate and on the role of religion during those times, there is almost a mystical feel to this book. It has to be said that I haven't read a lot about Roman times, or the tribes of the time, so I have no idea how feasible some of the ideas are that are presented in the book, but they seemed reasonable enough to me as I read it. What I look for in a book is readability, and for a story that hooks me in and makes me want to keep reading. Using these two as measurements, this sprawling sage is a winner!

I enjoyed it immensely and I will definitely be reading the sequel, The Dawn Stag, and the final book in the Dalriada trilogy, which is due out early next year.

Rating 4.5/5

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

Love in a Stranger's Eyes

In town, they call her "Crazy Widow Dinsmore". But Elly was no stranger to their ridicule - she had been an outcast all her life, growing up in a boarded-up old house under the strict eye of her eccentric grandparents. Now she was all alone, with two little boys and a third child on the way.

He drifted into Whitney, Georgia, one lazy afternoon in the summer of 1941, hoping to put his lonely past behind him. He yearned for the tenderness he had never known, the home he'd never had. All he needed was for someone to give him a chance.

Then he saw her classified ad: WANTED - A HUSBAND. When he stepped across Elly Dinsmore's cluttered yard, Will Parker knew he had come home at last...

This author was chosen as Author of the Month for June in my Historical Romance Chat group, but I have only now got around to reading it. Very slack..I know!

Reviewing this book is actually quite difficult for me because in the end I did really enjoy it, but oh my goodness it took me forever to get into it. I am not really sure why that was. It is actually a pretty unusual setting for me. Normally the historicals that I read are set in England around the time of the Regency and feature lords and scoundrels and rakes. This book is set in small town American South in the early 1940's, just before America becomes involved in WWII. Having said that I love a good war story - especially one written with a focus on the relationships that happen with a background of war. Maybe part of the reason for the slow beginning was that both Will and Elly are very cautious people, both trying to protect themselves from past hurts, and the novel proceeded in a similarly cautious pattern.

Having said all of that, when I really got hooked, that was it, and I loved the rest of the book. This book was originally published in 1989, and I wonder if that is also part of the reason why this book was a little different to other romances that I had read. I did start to wonder how many more ways the author could possibly torture our main characters though! She did use a very effective tool at one point...moving the story along through the use of a series of letters between several characters - given the setting, and the content of the letters it was a great way of communicating events without having to spend pages and pages explaining action that had actually happened to speak!

As for Elly and Will - I completely understand their fears, and their issues, but I did wonder if Will may be a fraction too good to be true. Everything he turned his hand to he could do - become a bee keeper...sure. Fix the bathroom and the porch, and the car ... no problem. He was however a very likeable character - a decent man, and I liked him a lot.

There were a lot of times where we were privy to what they both were thinking, and there was more than once when I just wanted to shout at the two of them to just talk to each other. Life would have been so much easier if they had...but the book would have been significantly shorter!

Overall, this romance was quite a lot deeper than a lot of others that I have read, and included some very unusual storylines, especially involving giving birth. Ultimately it was a satisfying that I nearly missed out on because I was very tempted to put the book down and not come back to it because it took so long to hook me in.

Rating 4/5

A Little Hasty

So, it's 3am and I've just finished Morning Glory. Maybe I was a little hasty earlier when I said it wasn't really grabbing me!

Will say more later. Now....I am off to sleep!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Reading schedule

These are the books that I need to read over the next month. Somehow I need to figure out how to fit them all in, bearing in mind as soon as I get a list together I tend to read something that was never on the list in the first place!

I have a gazillion books out from the library, but the ones below are the ones I need to get through first:

The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde (someone else has this on request so I can't extend it)
The Ballad of Desmond Kale by Roger McDonald (I have to go and pick this up today, but I already know that I can't extend it any further because there are other people on the request list).

I can't extend any of these ones any further so I either need to read them, or take them back.

Cup of Ghosts by Paul Doherty
Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke
Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
(I have started this but I can't seem to get into it)
The White Mare by Jules Watson (about half way through this one and really enjoying it)

Reading for groups - somehow I seem to collect groups of people to read along with so easily!

Dark Lover by J R Ward
Mirabilis by Susann Cokal
(need to have this read by 10 September ready for discussion)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Trust Me on This by Jenny Crusie

Books I really want to read soon for no other reason than I just want to, and I am meant to be reading along with someone:

The Silver Rose by Susan Carroll
Heir to the Shadows by Anne Bishop

This list doesn't take into consideration any books that I have on request that I get hold of, and that other people have also requested so I only have the normal borrowing time to read them in, or any new books that come up that I just HAVE to read, and it also doesn't take into consideration any of the series that I am part of the way through and that I want to continue reading soon!

How do you decide what you are going to read next? Do you keep lists? Do you stick to the reading order you have decided or does that start out as just a starting point and you could end up anywhere?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tied to the Tracks by Sara Donati

Seemingly out of the blue, tiny documentary company Tied to the Tracks is handed the opportunity of a lifetime: a personal invitation from reclusive literary legend Miss Zula Bragg to make a film about her life. For Angie Mangiamele and her award-winning team, it's almost too good too be true - and impossible to pass up.

But for Angie, the prospect of visiting Miss Zula's home town in the Deep South is a mixed blessing because it means coming face to face with the man she once thought was the love of her life. Now head of Ogilvie University's literature department, John Grant is engaged to local beauty Caroline Rose. In a small town rich in tradition and rife with gossip, the sparks that fly when the two former lovers meet again can't escape the attention of the closeknit community, mind Caroline's four sisters and the overbearing Aunt Patty-Cake, who aren't about to let any strangers from the city interfere with the impending nuptials.

Beautifully drawn with a vibrant cast of characters more than ready for their close-ups, TIED TO THE TRACKS a sharp, witty and grown up love story.

I have been reading Sara Donati for a couple of years now having initially been introduced to her Into the Wilderness series after reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I can't wait to read the next book in the ITW series which is due out in October. When I heard that she was writing a contemporary book I was quite keen to see how it was. She has written another contemporary novel called Homestead which was published under the name of Rosina Lippi but I have never been able to find that book here.

The novel starts when a small, independent film company unexpectedly gets a contract to film a documentary about a reclusive literary treasure by the name of Miss Zula Bragg. The documentary was requested because it is coming up to the 150th anniversary of the founding of Ogilvie University and the 50th anniversary of Miss Zula's graduation from there. It seems that Miss Zula has specifically requested Tied to the Tracks be the company that does the documentary. Whilst the idea of work is definitely attractive, for one of the three stakeholders in the company there are complications because it means spending the summer in Ogilvie, Georgia. For Angie Mangiamele, this means that she will have to share a town with John Grant - aka the one that got away. John has recently returned to Ogilvie with his fiancee, Caroline Rose, darling youngest daughter of another of the town's most influential families.

As soon as Angie and John meet again, it is clear that there is still chemistry between them, and the author does a fantastic job at building the tension between the two characters as they grapple with their emotions from the past, but also with the new ones that are building between them. As their lives are changed irrevocably, the opening quote of the book becomes increasingly relevant - Happiness is the china shop: love is the bull.

John is forced to look at his current relationship and realise that things probably aren't as they should be for a couple who is about to get married. It is, however, difficult to sort these issues out when the prospective bride does a disappearing trick just days before the wedding - much to the consternation of her posse of older sisters.

At least superficially, this book is about what happens when the one that got away comes back into your life, but in reality it is also about the complex nature of relationships in families, in small towns, and about the secrets that we keep, even from those that love us most.

Other themes that are touched on are the significant changes that have happened in society, particularly in relation to racism and the acceptance (or otherwise) of homosexual relationships.

Most of the other major characters are well drawn and distinct, and there is a cast of the quirky and not so quirky characters that abound in literature that features a small town - but not to the point of becoming completely cliched.

Whilst it is not all that unusual for books to have different titles for different markets, somewhat unusually this book is published under a different author name here in Australia. In the rest of the world, it was released under the author name of Rosina Lippi, but here they decided that they wanted to cash in on the already established name of Sara Donati instead of trying to introduce a new name into the market.

Rating 4.5/5


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