Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

As winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Canada’s Dove River in 1867, a man is brutally murdered and a 17-year-old boy disappears. Tracks leaving the dead man’s cabin head north toward the forest and the tundra beyond.

In the wake of such violence, people are drawn to the township—journalists, Hudson Bay Company men, trappers, traders—but do they want to solve the crime or exploit it? One-by-one the assembled searchers set out from Dove River, pursuing the tracks across a desolate landscape home only to wild animals, madmen, and fugitives, variously seeking a murderer, a son, two missing sisters, a forgotten Native culture, and a fortune in stolen furs.

In an astonishingly assured debut, Stef Penney weaves adventure, suspense, revelation, and humour into a gripping historical tale, an exhilarating thriller, a keen murder mystery, and ultimately, with the sheer scope and quality of her storytelling, one of the best books of the year.


This book is being sold in the bookstores here with a "Good Reading Guarantee", and that if you didn't enjoy it you could get your money back. If I had of bought it, for the first couple of hundred pages I would have been seriously considered taking advantage of that guarantee. It's not that it wasn't a good read, because it was...eventually. Maybe it was just the way that I was feeling, but every time I opened this book and read a few pages I just wanted to go to sleep. Once I got past a couple of hundred pages it was okay, and I no longer felt the need to sleep through the book but it did take me a very long time to get to that point.

Part of the issue for me was the sheer number of characters there were and how the action followed so many of them. We started out with the people who lived in the town of Dove River, particularly those who were directly affected by the murder of a French trapper. Then, the chief investigators enter the story - a couple of the upstanding gentlemen from the next town over, plus several men from the Hudson Bay Trading Company. Then a couple of other people vaguely connected to the case come into town as well. And then, everyone starts leaving again, in groups of ones and twos, ostensibly to try and track down the young boy who may or may not have killed the trapper. No one knows why he would do this, but still he has disappeared and that would make him appear guilty.

As many of the characters leave Dove River, they enter the wilderness in the middle of winter making travelling hazardous and drawing unlikely travelling companions closer together. Eventually the travellers arrive at a small religious settlement, where yet more characters and subplots are introduced to the book, and then again when they travel on to a small company outpost a little further on.

With the narrative following all the different characters as they arrive in Dove River and then leave in groups of two or three, the story switched too many times even within single chapters.

In the end this was an okay read. I think that there were probably a couple too many strands of the story than there really needed to be and therefore it was difficult to draw them all back into a cohesive finish, but there was certainly a good story to be told in there, and definitely signs of a good writer.

Rating 3.5/5


Other Bloggers Thoughts:

Katrina's Reads

In Spring it is the Dawn
Reading Room

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood

It's the end of the roaring Twenties, and the exuberant and Honorable Phryne Fisher is dancing and gaming with gay abandon. But she becomes bored with London and the endless round of parties. In search of excitement, she sets her sights on a spot of detective work in Melbourne.

And so mystery and the beautiful Russian dancer, Sasha de Lisse, appear in her life. From then on it's all cocaine and communism until her adventure reaches its steamy end in the Turkish baths of Little Lonsdale Street.


One of my reading goals for 2007 is to read some more Australian authors, something I haven't done very much of at all this year! Kerry Greenwood lives in Melbourne, like me, and uses many locations in Melbourne as part of her books.

This book is the first of the Phryne (pronounced Fry-knee to rhyme with briny) Fisher mysteries that are set in the latter stages of the Roaring 20's. The author does a fantastic job of bringing a sense of time and place to the story, with both the locations that are still in the city (like the Windsor Hotel where she bases herself on her arrival from England) and the others that are no longer there like the Turkish baths of Little Lonsdale Street.

Phryne is a young, wealthy and independent young lady, but she hasn't always been that way, having been born in a poor suburb in Melbourne. Her family came into wealth when some distant family members died, and suddenly her father found himself a member of the aristocracy. Life changed dramatically for Phryne, but she still remembers what it was like before, and this gives her a heart for the destitute, the deprived. Within days of arriving in England, she has found herself a young lady to be a made, become friends with a couple of lovable larrikins with a decided bent towards communism who come in very handy at several stages throughout the book.

It is only when she realises that she is being framed for drug possession that Phryne realises how much danger she may really be in, but it doesn't stop her from taking loads of risks in trying to expose the Mr Big of cocaine smuggling.

A very entertaining read. I am very much looking forward to reading more in this series.

I really like the Phryne Fisher website as well - it gives a very good feel to the setting of the 1920's!

Rating 4/5.

Chunkster Challenge 2007

You may have already seen something around the place for this, but Bookfool is hosting the Chunkster challenge 2007. The challenge runs from January to June 2007 and it's really very flexible. Click on the link above to get all the details.

I was actually resisting joining in on this challenge, not because I don't like Chunksters (I love them) but just that I am doing so appallingly at challenges at the moment. I haven't even read my November challenge books yet, let alone the From the Stacks books that are listed in my sidebar. Actually, I have read one of those, I just haven't written my review for it yet. I do have quite a few books here that would qualify as well.

And so, I find myself irresistably drawn to the light of another reading challenge, and am now declaring that yes I am participating. I think I am going to set myself four books, and I may later cheat and actually have some books that cross challenges, but for now my four books are going to be:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Hmm...another book challenge with a decidedly strong Historical Fiction flavour...yay!

I might throw in a couple of extra chunksters in there for good measure, but that will do for now.

The Invisible Ring by Anne Bishop

This is my read for the December TBR challenge, which for this month was to read a book published prior to 2006. Whilst I might have only just scraped in for the deadline to post, I actually finished reading it quite early in the month on 11 December.






Jared is a Red-Jeweled Warlord bound as a pleasure slave by the Ring of Obedience. After suffering nine years of torment as a slave, he murdered his owner and escaped - only to be caught and sold into slavery once again.

Purchased by a notorious queen, Jared fears he will share the mysterious fate of her other slaves - never to be seen again - and so prepares himself for death. But the Gray Lady may not be what she seems and Jared soon faces a difficult decision: his freedom or his honour....


Title: The Invisible Ring

Author: Anne Bishop

Year published:
2000

Why did you get this book?
I have read the Black Jewels trilogy and can't get enough of them so at the moment I am trying to get anything I can that is set in that world.

Do you like the cover? It's okay.

Did you enjoy the book?
Yes!

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? No, the author wasn't new to me and yes I would definitely read other things by this author. I actually have Dreams Made Flesh here to read at the moment - more stories set in the same worlds as the Black Jewels trilogy.

Are you keeping it or passing it on?
The library wouldn't like me anymore if I kept it so I took it back. If it had of been mine in the first place I would definitely have kept it!

Anything else? This is in many ways a prequel to the Black Jewels trilogy but I am glad that I read it in published order as I could just sit down and enjoy it already understanding the way that the world worked. A very enjoyable read.

Anne Bishop is definitely one of my finds of 2006. I can't wait for the next Black Jewels book to come out!!

Rating 4.5/5

Kiss From a Rogue by Shirley Karr

A woman of the night . . .

Her inherited estate is bankrupt, but Lady Sylvia Montgomery will never allow the townsfolk who depend on her to starve. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the plucky beauty reluctantly assumes the leadership of a smuggling operation—a mantle that fits her surprisingly well. However, the perilous enterprise may be more than one resourceful, genteel lady can manage alone. Luckily, help is on the way—in a most deliciously enticing masculine form!

A rogue in training . . .

Stripped of all familial responsibilities when his brother, the earl, returns from war, Anthony Sinclair has decided to become a rakehell. His pursuit of pleasure has led him to a village with a secret—and to an intoxicating lady involved in criminal activities. By rights, he should simply seduce the wench, have his way with her, then vanish. But the bewitching Sylvia has captured Tony's heart. And to win her love he will join her in turbulent and dangerously exciting waters where no true rake would ever venture.


I originally read Shirley Karr's What an Earl Wants when she was Author of the Month for one of the groups that I am in. When I noticed that this was at the library I thought I would give it another go, not realising that in effect it was a follow up from the first book. Tony Sinclair is the brother of the hero in What an Earl Wants.

I am tempted to say that there was nothing new in this book that I haven't read before, but then as I think about it a bit more there actually were some unique elements. Having said that all the parts that weren't completely original were very well written and overall the book was an entertaining read. Entertaining enough for me to want to read the next book which is another spinoff from this book I believe.

Sylvia was a bit of a doormat, but mostley because she loved the people who surroundered her and felt responsible for them and so would do absolutely anything to help them. The cast of secondary characters was quite large but they were all quite distinct characters who didn't merge into each other in the way that secondary characters sometimes do.

I really liked Tony. Then again...I am always quite partial to a good looking hero!!!

I originally finished this book on 5 December.

Rating 4/5

Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

As a person with few living relatives, Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse really hated to lose one. But she never guessed that it would be her cousin Hadley - a consort of the vampire queen of New Orleans. After all, technically speaking, Hadley was already dead. And now, as unexpected heir to Hadley's estate, Sookie discovers the inheritance definitely comes with a risk.

Someone doesn't want Sookie looking too deeply into Hadley's past - or for that matter, Hadley's possessions. And they're prepared to do anything in their power to stop her. But who? The range of suspects runs from the rogue weres who reject Sookie as a friend of the pack to the vampire queen herself, who could be working through a particularly vulnerable subject - Sookie's first love, Bill.

Whoever it is, they're definitely dangerous - and Sookie's life is definitely on the line...


Read it, liked it. Will that do as a review?

This is the sixth book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, after Dead as a Doornail and I liked that there seemed to be some closure on a couple of Sookie's relationships. It was getting a bit ridiculous that every paranormal bloke in town was hot for her, although I did find it interesting that this attraction was explained a little in this book.

I liked Quinn...a lot! And I liked the way that the relationship was building up between the two of them.

Once again Sookie was badly injured, but I suppose that it is to be expected really. She does get tied in with some seriously unpleasant business with the Queen of Louisiana that I am sure will be explored a bit more in future books.

Can't wait for the next Sookie book to come out in May I think! You can read the first chapter of All Together Dead here.

Rating 4/5 (Finished reading this book on 4 December 2006)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Our final stop on the 2006 Blog Tour is...

.....over at Ag's blog. She is going to be putting up some video of her choir's performances over Christmas. Sounds like a great way to finish off!

I really wanted to thank everyone for their participation. I had a great time visiting everyone's blogs and reading about different traditions, recipes, jokes and the odd picture or two as well!

Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts

As a storm rages, the tale of a powerful vampire's lust for destruction-and of the circle of six charged by the goddess Morrigan to stop her-begins. One of the chosen is a medieval sorcerer whose quest will take him through time-and into the arms of a woman courageous enough to link her destiny to his own.



This book is Nora Robert's first foray into full-on paranormal romance, although there have been a few books that have had paranormal elements. In a way it would seem that she hedged her bets a little by having several different types of paranormal characters involved in this trilogy. There is a vampire, a witch, a wizard, a shapeshifter, a vampire hunter and a queen of a faraway realm.

Much of the first part of this book is spent in bringing five of the six central characters together, with the assistance of a god, Morrigan. Hoyt is the wizard. With the assistance of Morrigan, he is drawn to modern day New York in a search for his brother Cian who was turned into a vampire hundreds of years before. Cian is somewhat jaded as a vampire - no longer relying on human blood to survive, and having amassed quite a fortune over the years. Whilst in New York he meets Glenna, the witch. With there traditionally being a lot of distrust between witches and wizards, Hoyt and Glenna must find a way to work together, especially as their attraction grows stronger and stronger, as does their magic.

When the action moves to Ireland, the warriors who are gathered start training for the fight of their lives - against the queen vampire, Lilith, who coincidentally is the vamp who turned Cian. Lilith is the antithesis of all that is good - she wants to increase her own power by basically destroying the world. Joining them in Ireland are two more warriors who have been called to the battle by Morrigan who come from Geall, a realm that exists in a different world to our own.

As the six who are gathered start training and working together for the upcoming battles there is love and loss, new friendships to be built and several worlds to save.

As usual, what Nora does well is the developing relationships - between brothers, between new friends, between burgeoning lovers. I did feel as though there were parts that were a bit unevenly paced throughout this book - very dialogue heavy in parts where Hoyt needs to convince firstly Cian and then Glenna to accompany him and the magnitude of the task but in the end it is a satisfying read with well written characters.

Whilst I wouldn't say that this book is an exceptional read, it was certainly entertaining and I definitely will be following this series through to it's conclusion!

Rating 4/5

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Boxing Day

For the origins of Boxing Day there is a post up at Dishing with the Divas. These days, Boxing Day in Australia means 3 things:



The start of the Boxing Day cricket test in Melbourne.

The start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The start of the post Christmas sales.




This year the cricket is against the old enemy - England. Having already won back the Ashes, the focus yesterday was on whether or not Shane Warne would get his 700th test wicket...which he did. It was a pretty good day all round for Australia really. Pity that it was so cold here in Melbourne, but I am sure a good time was had by all 90000 people that went to see it live. I was happy just to watch it on TV!

The Sydney to Hobart yacht race provides some amazing pictures as all the yachts compete for space on Sydney Harbour with all the pleasure yachts as the race starts. There have been reports this morning that there are some problems out in the ocean, with some wounded men. Hopefully no one is seriously injured. A few years ago several men died while competing in the race.

As for the Christmas sales, we went to a book clearance warehouse and I bought a few books. We did go to one of the big shopping centres but the car parking was horrendous! I was happy just to come home and relax.

So what else did I do - I cleaned out the fridge and freezer....I know how to celebrate!

And now back to work. I was so looking forward to a four day weekend, but it has once again so quickly and I am not quite ready to go back to work.....do I have to go??

Sunday, December 24, 2006

He's nearly here!!!!

The carrot and the bowl of water is out ready for the reindeer.

The milk and cookies are out for Santa.

We've been tracking Santa for the last couple of hours! It's nearly time.

The problem of how Santa gets into the house when we don't actually have a chimney has been resolved.



Now I just need to finish wrapping the presents and we'll be right! LOL!!




Happy Holidays everyone!!!

Blog Tour day 15

Today we have not one, but two places to visit! Seems fitting as it is very nearly Christmas Day. Enjoy your visit to Carl V's blog and a Christmas joke from Dance Chica.

In the Prince's Bed by Sabrina Jeffries

From bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries comes the first dazzling novel in a sexy new series featuring three half brothers. Bound together by the royal father who denied them, they've formed a pact to help each other achieve their every desire...including the women of their dreams.

Miss Katherine Merivale is desperate to make a respectable match — if only her childhood sweetheart would propose! Until he does, she can't touch the fortune she's inherited. So the last thing she needs is notorious rogue Alec Black putting her proposed marriage at risk with his distracting, smoldering gaze and moonlit kisses.

Alec, the Earl of Iversley — and one of three bastard sons of the Prince of Wales — is secretly searching for an heiress bride to pay his debts. Fiery Katherine seems the answer to his prayers, and her passionate response to his practiced seduction soon assures him that she is his. But Alec knows Katherine is looking for a love-match, and he wonders...what will happen when she discovers his deception?


This was the first Sabrina Jeffries book that I have read, and I will be definitely going back for more! I really liked Alec, although I did wonder at times why Alec didn't just come out and tell Katherine the truth. I loved the scene at the poetry reading where he kept making smartass comments and had her laughing. I was so glad that Katherine didn't end up with the childhood sweetheart who's name I cannot remember! I have to admit that I felt almost as though Katherine was a cookie-cutter heroine - read her story in numerous books before, that is until we got to the circus act scene. That scene was so unusual and fun and I think the fact that she went ahead with it kind of bought Katherine to life for me. It is the thing that sticks in my mind clearest about this book. I was kind of surprised by the

I finished it on 30 November, so quite a few other things have become a little hazy. I do know that I am looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series though!


Rating 4/5

Light in Shadow by Jayne Ann Krentz

Zoe Luce is a successful interior designer in the Arizona town of Whispering Springs who's developed an unusual career specialty - helping recently divorced clients redesign their homes, to help them forget about the past and start anew. But Zoe knows that some things can't be covered up with a new coat of paint. And when she sense that one of her clients may be hiding a dark secret, she enlists P.I. Ethan Truax to find the truth.

Working together, they solve the mystery...and barely escape with their lives. But Ethan's exquisite detection skills are starting to backfire on Zoe: she never wanted to let him find out about her former life; she never wanted to reveal her powerful, inexplicable gift for sensing the history hidden with a house's walls; she never wanted him to know that "Zoe Luce" doesn't really exist. She never wanted to fall in love with him.

Now, no matter how much she resists, Ethan may be her only hope - because the people she's been running from have found her. And just when Zoe dares to dream of a normal life and a future with the man she loves, her own past starts to shadow her every step - and threatens to take her back into a nightmare.



This is the first of my mini-reviews. I actually finished this book on 30 November. That's how far behind I am!! LOL!

Having only read one Jayne Ann Krentz book previously and being somewhat underwhelmed by it, I was quite happy to let it go. However, with some persistent nagging from certain people I was convinced that I really ought to give her books another go. The books that were highly recommended were Trust Me, Perfect Partners, Absolutely Positively and Family Man. So why did I pick this one up? You know, I honestly can't remember. I think I just have some days where my brain just doesn't quite connect up properly...and the day I picked up this book was one of those, otherwise I would have got one of the recommended books I am sure! The other thing is I don't really read a lot of romantic suspense either.

I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit. I did think the fact that Ethan had been married 3 times but his sister in law was still saying 'oh no, he definitely doesn't have commitment issues - they were just the wrong women' a bit much, but other than that I thought he seemed quite sexy. As for Zoe, I thought that her portrayal as someone who was struggling to understand her 'gift' and find justice for her dead husband and for herself was quite good.

I liked the two side relationships that seemed to be developing between Ethan's sister in law and the bookshop owner, and between Zoe's friend and the other detective and hope to see more of them in the sequel, Truth or Dare. I already have this one out of the library. Then I will go and read one of the books that was recommended in the first place!

Rating 4/5

Blog Tour day 14

Go check out Melrose Plant's blogto see what Christmas treats are up for today!

As for me, I am off to do battle at the shops for the last time. Should probably do some grocery shopping as well. Last year on Christmas Eve I got half price prawns and just sat down and gobbled them down for dinner...just prawns and seafood sauce! Yum! Mabye I will get lucky again!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Woo-hoo!!

I won one of the books being given away at Twisted Kingdom! So Archangel by Sharon Shinn will be winging it's way to me soon!! Yippee! Got to love getting a free book!

So here's the thing right....

I am approximately 20 book reviews behind. It's not that I am in a reading slump, because I have been reading as much as ever - just in a 'I'm so far behind I don't know where to start' blogging slump. So in order to get caught up, I am going to start doing some mini reviews - particularly for those books I read ages ago where I remember the story but not enough to give a proper review. Hopefully, by doing this I will be able to start the new year with a clean slate.

Blog Tour day 13

Today we go back to Kailana's blog, this time for a post by Chris (who seems to now be known as 'The Button Guy'. Guess there are worse things he could be called!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Another book giveaway

The girls over at Sanctuary's Finest are giving away books - and you get to choose your won! Pop over to Sanctuary's Finest and have a look!


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Blog Tour - day....well 12 I think!

Seems I can't count! So whilst yesterdays post said it was for day 10, turns out it was actually day 11, therefore today is day 12. Confused...apparently so am I.

Anyhow, today we are off to Susan Higginbotham's blog where she has a fun post up about what might have been said to Richard III at Christmas time in 1483!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

2006 Blog Tour - Day 10

Wow, Christmas is coming up so quickly! Who's ready? I'm nearly there, although there are a couple of things that I am going to cross off my list as never going to get done so might as well not worry about that!!

Today on the blog tour we are off to see what treats Bookwormomhas in store for us!

Blog Tour

So this is the list for the Blog Tour as it stands at the moment! It's still not too late to join in the fun. If anyone else is interested in joining in then we will double up on the days. Just leave a comment and we will add you to the list! I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!


19 December - Elysabeth
20 December - Bookwormom
21 December - Susan Higginbotham
22 December - Chris, the button guy, posting on Kailana's blog
23 December - Melrose Plant
24 December - Carl V, Dance Chica
28 December - Ag


Don't forget to drop by and visit Elysabeth and see what treat she has for us today.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Blog tour - days 8 and 9

Okay, so I disappeared offline for a couple of days. Wish there was a good reason but there really isn't! I am surviving on 2 hours sleep today, and yet I am somewhat surprisingly quite energetic given that it is nearly 11pm! Even managed to get some housework done tonight! Now that is unusual!

Anyway.....our blog tour visited Mailyn on Day 8 and on day 9 we are off to visit The Observer! Hope you are enjoying the blog tour...we certainly are!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Right Attitude to Rain by Alexander McCall Smith

This is the third book in the Isabel Dalhousie series of mysteries, following on from Friends, Lovers, Chocolate.







The key to contentment in the Scottish climate is the right attitude to rain - just as in life the key to happiness lies in making the best of what you have. Bruised in love by her faithless Irish husband, Isabel Dalhousie is a connoisseur of intimate moral issues: she edits a philosophical journal and spends a great deal of her time considering how to improve the lives of those around her. There is her housekeeper Grace, whose future she must secure; her niece Cat, who is embarking on a new relationship with a dubious workaholic mummy's boy; and even an American couple newly arrived in Edinburgh on a tour. And then there is Jamie, Cat's ex-boyfriend, a handsome, gifted musician fourteen years Isabel's junior, with whom she is slowly and hopelessly falling in love. Intensely thoughtful and consistently entertaining, THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO RAIN is shot through with compassion and unassuming intelligence.


In my review for Friends, Lovers, Chocolate I talked a bit how I was a bit underwhelmed by this series, particularly the first book, but I think I have caught onto it's tone and pace now. This one was quite enjoyable!

I'm sure that I have mentioned here before that I am the kind of person who will read a couple of pages in a book and then turn to the end of the book and read the last page or so, and then go back to the front and keep reading. I can only think of two books in recent times where I have really seen a huge spoiler that changed my reading experience. The first time it happened was when I read My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. The second time was this book! I read the last page and a half, and something so surprising happened that I had to quickly skim through the book to find all the parts relating to that event, and then once I knew what led to that, I could then go back and read the book properly.

Once again, there isn't really a mystery in this book, or at least there isn't a body with an unknown killer. There is a possibility of a murder in the future that Isabel concerns herself with, but in the most part this book is about Isabel, and the perceptions others may or do have of her as a result of a decision she makes about her love life. Given the huge development at the end of this book, I cannot wait to read the next Isabel Dalhousie novel. Now that's a sentence I didn't really ever expect to write!! LOL!

A comment about the cover that was on my book - as seen above! How horrible is it! To me it doesn't feel as though it fits with the feeling or style of the book at all. Or maybe it is because this cover is completely different to the covers I have had on the first two instalments in this series that were much more in keeping with the tone of the books. I much prefer the US cover of the book.

Rating 4/5

Santa, Baby Anthology

Get ready for a holiday season you'll never forget with three of today's most sensational writers who know what every woman wants for the holidays. You'll believe in Santa all over again with these seductive stories from:

JENNIFER CRUSIE: Mayhem ensues under the mistletoe as a determined shopper grabs the very last hot toy action figure off the shelf, only to find herself plunged into the middle of a real-life spy game--in the arms of a sexy secret agent. . .

LORI FOSTER: Two dedicated coworkers with a lot of secrets (and fantasies!) between them must plan a Christmas party side by side--and discover a love worth celebrating--in this steamy office romance.

CARLY PHILLIPS: A "mistletoe moment" begins when a no-nonsense lawyer intent on seducing her boss meets his twin instead--after giving him a scintillating kiss that leaves him begging for more. . .
I was going to write a proper review for this one, but then I thought..well, there are other opinions out there that echo my own. So instead I would suggest going to read Dear Author's review. I pretty much agree with their take on the stories in this anthology. For another opinion, visit Jennie for her thoughts.

In summary, my thoughts are:

Santa Baby - Trudy and Nolan are our couple - In the only newly published story in this anthology by Jennifer Crusie, this story didn't really get off the ground for me!

All I Want for Christmas - Maggie and Eric - Eww, eww, ewww. And they weren't organising a Christmas party for goodness sake! I've never read any Lori Foster, and this didn't inspire me to rush out and get it. Basically this was a shell of a storyline around lots of sex!

Naughty Under the Mistletoe - Toni and Max - Carly Phillips is another new to me author, but unlike Lori Foster's story, I enjoyed this one, and will keep an eye out for other books by this author. For me this was the strongest story in the collection.


Rating 3.5/5

2006 Blog Tour - Day 7

Today our tour takes us to Carla's blog, where she has a recipe for what she calls Stockbrokers Pudding. At first I thought that meant that there would be more money in it than the traditional pennies...but apparently not! Be sure to check it out!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Night Pleasures by Sherrilyn Kenyon

The fourth instalment in the Dark Hunter series, following on from Dragonswan, this book is one of the books of the month for October and November over at Book Bitches.








Dear Reader,

Have you ever wanted to know what it's like to be immortal? To journey through the night stalking the evil that preys on humans? To have unlimited wealth, unlimited power? That is my existence, and it is dark and dangerous. I play hero to thousands, but am known to none. And I love every minute of it.

Or so I thought until one night when I woke up handcuffed to my worst nightmare: a conservative woman in a button-down shirt. Or in Amanda's case, buttoned all the way up to her chin. She's smart, sexy, witty, and wants nothing to do with the paranormal-in other words, me.

My attraction to Amanda Devereaux goes against everything I stand for. Not to mention the last time I fell in love it cost me not only my human life, but also my very soul. Yet every time I look at her, I find myself wanting to try again. Wanting to believe that love and loyalty do exist.

Even more disturbing, I find myself wondering if there's any way a woman like Amanda can love a man whose battle scars run deep, and whose heart was damaged by a betrayal so savage that he's not sure it will ever beat again.

Kyrian of Thrace


So chances are that I am not going to catch up on my reviews unless I actually start writing some right? I actually finished this book on 27 November, so it is stretching my memory a little bit, but we will see how we go! In fact it was stretching my memory so much that I had completely forgotten that when I tried to get this book out from the library it said that it was checked in, but I couldn't find it anywhere on the shelves. I put a request in for it, and after several weeks they still couldn't find it. In the end I read it in e-book form on my PC something quite unusual for me, and I don't know how it would have been if I hadn't been really interested in reading the story. The thing about reading at the PC for me is that I get a bit distracted. Someone comes on to chat, or I think about the website that I have been meaning to check out for a while, or I think maybe I should check Bloglines or one of my groups! The list of possibilities in terms of distractions is endless! Actually....the same thing happens when I am writing posts! Except I am trying to cook dinner as well! I apologise if I drop any spaghetti sauce anywhere through the post!

So what am I meant to be writing about? Oh yes, that's right. We heard a bit about Kyrian of Thrace in Fantasy Lover, in his capacity as the best friend of Julian. Julian believed that his best friend had died hundreds of years earlier, but it turned out that Kyrian had been betrayed by someone he loved, cruelly tortured and then he became a Dark Hunter. It has left him with trust issues, and with terrible memories that can manifest themselves at the most inopportune moments.

Amanda Devereaux is the only normal one in her family. Her sister is a vampire hunter, and her other sisters are also heavily involved in the paranormal, but the fact is that Amanda has a Gift that she has been ignoring for many years.

Amanda and Kyrian had great chemistry, although I do have to admit that there were a couple of times that I was wondering where something was going - the first being where Amanda decides to give Kyrian new memories, and the second time was in the scene where she had to claim him so that they could be together forever. In the end both scenes were fine, but I did wonder for a little while there!

In Fantasy Lover, the main thing I didn't like was the heroine, but in this one I liked Amanda. I did very much get the feeling that Kenyon was building her world gradually, with lots of detail regarding the Squires that help out the Dark Hunters, the hierarchy and the way that the Hunters all keep in touch. I am so looking forward to see the way that the author continues to build this series.

I was kind of surprised by one thing though. A while ago, there was a bit of a mini kerfuffle about the fact that Sherrilyn Kenyon gave a cover quote to a Kinley McGregor novel, when that is her own alter ego identity. The reason why I mention this is that Amanda was reading a Kinley McGregor novel at times throughout this novel, so it isn't the first time that that kind of thing has happened!

All in all, a really good read. I can totally see why this series is so popular.

Rating 4.5/5

2006 Blog Tour - Day 6

So today's stop is at Cindy's blog. The post is already up, and it is another good one!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Free Books anyone?

The lovely, slightly twisted ladies over at Twisted Kingdom are giving away some books!!

They are giving away Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop, Poison Study by Maria V Snyder, Ill Wind by Rachel Caine and Archangel by Sharon Shinn. Now there is only one of those that I haven't read (not bad for someone who isn't a fantasy reader!!), but I would love to own any of the others as well!

To be eligible you just need to post their banner thingamajiggy on your blog and provide a link! Easy huh? Or alternatively, copy their whole post, and then leave a comment to let them know that you have done it!

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

This book first came to my attention when it was chosen by The Book Bitches to be their Book of the Month for June. Yes, I know I am about six months too late in reading it. What can I say...I have had lots of other books on the go!







Meet Rachel White, a young attorney living and working in Manhattan. Rachel has always been the consummate good girl - until her thirtieth birthday, when her best friend, Darcy, throws her a party. That night, after too many drinks, Rachel ends up in bed with Darcy's fiance. Although she wakes up determined to put the one night fling behind her, Rachel is horrified to discover that she has genuine feelings for the one guy she should run from. In her wildest dreams (or worst nightmare?) this is the last thing on earth Rachel could ever have imagined happening.

As the September wedding date nears, Rachel knows she has to make a choice. In doing so, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren't always neat, and sometimes you have to risk all to win true happiness.

Something Borrowed is a phenomenal debut novel that will have you laughing, crying and calling your best friend.




Now bear in mind when you read this post that I actually finished this book on 25 November. Yes, the distinct lack of book related posts over the last couple of weeks or more is not because I haven't been reading - just that I haven't been reviewing! And now I am looking at my backlog and it is scaring me so I am determined to catch up soon!!

Rachel has been living in the shadow of her best friend Darcy for years. Darcy is gorgeous, fun, generous and has a fantastic job that she just seemed to fall into. She basically could have any bloke that she wanted, but she is engaged to Dexter - a man that was friends with Rachel, and then hooked up with Darcy. The wedding is coming up, and Rachel is looking forward to the wedding, or at least she was until she had sex the groom on the night of her thirtieth birthday, and then did it again a few days later, even though they both promised that they weren't going to! From there the novel becomes one of Rachel's angst as she both wonders whether she is always going to be the other woman, or if Dex will finally grow enough courage to tell Darcy that the wedding is off, if Rachel and Dex are going to be able to pull off the deception required to continue their clandestine meetings or if they are going to get caught.

Another focus was Rachel considering the nature of her friendship with Darcy. Darcy seems to be one of those friends who loves to participate in oneupmanship - you know the ones where you say "gee my knee is hurting today", and they will go off on a convoluted story about how they had to have an arthroscope just yesterday. Maybe a little bit far fetched as an example, but you know the type I mean!

Throw in a sudden side trip to London, and that's pretty much it. The ending felt somewhat rushed to me, especially in the resolution, but it does leave space for the sequel.

I've read a fair to middling range of chick lit over the years, and quite enjoy quite a few authors (for example Marian Keyes), and I liked this book - to an extent. Whilst the voice was fun and chatty, there was an appropriate level of brand name dropping and female angst, what there wasn't was likable characters. I didn't really like Rachel, I didn't like her best friend Darcy, and I didn't really like Dex, who started the book out as Darcy's fiance. So why, if I didn't really like the characters, do I really want to read the sequel, Something Blue. The only explanation I can think of is that I have to know if the characters can all be redeemed into something less...less....selfish is not necessarily the right word...maybe self obsessed.

This was an okay journey into chick lit. I'm hoping for better next time around!

Rating 3.5/5


Other Blogger's Thoughts

Blue Archipelago

2006 Blog Tour - Day 4

Ladies and Gentlemen...today our blog tour takes in the blog of Booklogged. Be sure to drop by and see what special treats she has in store for us!

2006 Blog Tour - Day 3

Today's stop on our blog tour is over atJennie's blog. Be sure to stop by and see what she has to offer us.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

2006 Blog Tour - Day 2

I'll be back a bit later to post a little bit about what it is like to have Christmas in the middle of summer.

In the meantime, here's a link that shows some images of Australia set to a humourous Australian Christmas song that attempts to show a little what it is like!

Monday, December 11, 2006

2006 Blog Tour - Day 1

Our first stop on the blog tour is over at Kailana's blog. Be sure to drop by there and see what treats she has in store for us all.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Only one day to go....

So this is the list for the Blog Tour as it stands at the moment! It's still not too late to join in the fun. If anyone else is interested in joining in then we will double up on the days. Just leave a comment and we will add you to the list! I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!



10 December - Kailana
11 December - Marg
12 December - Jennie
13 December - Booklogged
14 December - Rosario
15 December - Cindy
16 December - Carla
17 December - Mailyn
18 December - The Observer
19 December - Elysabeth
20 December - Bookwormom
21 December - Susan Higginbotham
22 December - Chris, the button guy, posting on Kailana's blog
23 December - Melrose Plant
24 December - Carl V, Dance Chica
28 December - Ag

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Joint review of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Occasionally Kailana and I like to do joint reviews on books that we are both intending to read at roughly the same time! Her thoughts are in black, and mine are in purple. I hope you enjoy this one!








THE GLASS CASTLE is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeanette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.


The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

THE GLASS CASTLE is truly astonishing - a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar, but loyal, family. Jeanette Walls has a story to tell, and tells it brilliantly, without an ounce of self-pity.
I have to admit, this book has been recommended to me several times, but I avoided it. Following all the uproar following A Million Little Pieces, I was very wary about memoirs. Then, I started to really be told that I would like it, and I should read it, so I broke down and bought it. It was a very worthwhile read! During November, when I first had a reading lull and then was too busy to read, I read this book in a few short days.

The reason why I read this book is that it was selected as Book of the Month in one of the groups I was in. I didn't end up reading it with the group, but it's selection had piqued my interest enough to make me go out of my way to find it. I have definitely read more autobiographies and other non fiction books this year than I have in previously years, and this one is definitely one of the better ones!

The memoir captures your attention from the beginning. The novel opens with this paragraph:

I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster. It was after dark. A blustery March wind whipped the steam coming out of the manholes, and people hurried along the walks with their collars turned up. I was stuck in traffic two blocks from the party where I was heading.
So begins the story of Jeanette Walls and her family. An amazing story it is too. It makes your appreciate your warm beds, that's for sure. In one of the Jeanette's earliest memories, she is cooking for herself and catches her clothes on fire. She's three. That is just the beginning of the adventures that this family goes through. They cannot pay Jeanette's health bills, so they steal her from the hospital one night and make a run for it.

In many way the early years of Jeannette's childhood were idealised a lot. Dad was always convinced that he was on the brink of discovering the next big thing, and yet somehow they managed to skedaddle from one town to the next, keeping one step ahead of the law and debtors and goodness knows who else. And yet for the children, they had an almost idyllic childhood, in terms of being allowed to basically do what they wanted, in environments that ranged from an old railway station being used as a house, to a house in Phoenix, to a ramshackle, almost falling down dump in coal country.

The images of Jeannette's early memories are the themes to her life. She has a family where her mother gets depressed if she has to go to a regular job. She has a father who can only hold a job as long as he can stay sober. The children are allowed to do pretty much whatever they want. If they seriously injury themselves, many times they are just treated at home and sent back out to play. They are also almost always running from something. They have lived in countless houses during the course of the memoir.

The most telling quote for me from the book is relating to the mother - many times Jeannette and her siblings are basically starving with the money for food being spent by dad down at the pub, and quite often they have to prepare what little meals they have on their own, because their mother's philosophy is "Why should I cook a meal that will be gone in an hour when I can do a painting that will last forever?" As the children get older it falls to them to in effect be the parents. When their mother is employed for brief periods of time, it is the older kids who make sure that she is up in time to go to work, it is the kids who assist with the grading of papers and what have you. As they get older it becomes clearer to them that actually their life isn't ideal, and yet, the older three in particular end up being very responsible, and quite successful in their chosen fields. It was interesting to think about the dynamics of how some people can escape from the poverty trap, and what drives those people to become the people they are.

The interesting thing about Jeanette's family is that even though her parents have breaks where they are actually living with food and a roof over their house, they often get bored and go somewhere else. And then in New York, the children are making a name for themselves and their parents choose to be homeless. Her mother likes adventure, she is always saying. A safe home and food on the table is too save for her, she would rather live more dangerously, which happens many times during Jeannette's life.

Jeannette's mother interested me. She was a trained teacher, who married a man who basically rocked her world, despite the fact that she was often reliant on her family to keep what little food her children had. Whilst she was a passionate artist, she couldn't make a living from it, and she certainly struggled with holding down a normal job. She then made decisions, that lead to her ultimately being homeless, and yet, whilst she was cash poor, she was actually quite a wealthy woman. How is it that some people are completely materially focussed and yet others have wealth, and yet cannot seem to provide for themselves - there are lots of little things to contemplate as you read through this book!

I remembered hearing something about this woman when I started reading the book. I must have seen it somewhere or heard her story on the television because as I was reading it I found the story familiar. (I hadn't heard of her at all until I started hearing about this book). I think it is a very brave thing to tell people about your past. It is often something that you would just like to forget, and there are many times where she does just that; tries and pretends that she lived a different life.

It is an interesting thing about life. People wonder why the news is full of bad news and memoirs cover depressing topics, but it is really that they sell better that way. People would rather hear the bad things so that whatever is happening in their own lives does not look that bad in comparision. Some people may have bad childhoods, but the Walls children spent nights sleeping in the desert. For them though, sleeping in the desert was not a hardship - it was an adventure. Whilst they were young I think the family had a "life is what you make it" kind of theme. It was only as they grew older that they began to realise how different their family was, about how they needed to work hard to give them the means to escape from their world to something much better. I also think that the title is a very fitting one. Although, Jeannette's father always claimed he would one day build a glass castle, in truth the words go well to describe the life that Jeannette and her siblings lived through. Glass is fragile, and for many instances in their childhood, things were very likely to be broken.

This really is a book that should be read!

Kailana's rating: 4.5/5
Marg's rating: 4/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

B&B Ex Libris

Links to reviews!

One of these days I will get back to posting in order! Here's a link to my review of To Sir Phillip with Love.

Blog tour recap

What a great response! All the days have at least one person signed up, but don't despair, if you aren't on the list, you still can be!

We will still take sign ups either here or on Kailana's blog, and we will do double ups starting on the days closest to Christmas (so starting at 24 December and working our way back again). As they say...the more the merrier!

As to how will it work, well, each day we will post a link to the who's day it is, and we will all traipse over and have a look at what treat has been posted there!

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone is going to come up with.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Why?

Why when kids decide to cut their own hair do they cut the bit that is most visible at the front of their head?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Joint review and coming soon to a blog near you...

Kailana and I are reading the In Death series of books together...well kind of together! My review of Vengeance in Death is buried in the archives, but Kailana has taken my review and added her thoughts to them here.

There will be another joint review coming up for The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls in the next couple of days so keep an eye out for that as well!

Also coming up in the next day or so are some more details on the 2006 Christmaas Blog Tour....just too tired to do it tonight!

Sometime in the near future I have reviews for about 10 other books as well. I am so far behind on my reviews it isn't funny! Fortunately Blogger seems to have finally fixed itself so that should at least help!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Blog tour - Christmas 2006 Advent Calendar


Kailana and I thought it would be fun if we had our own virtual advent calendar. Why should the kids get all the fun of opening a box on the advent calendar and finding a little treat in there!!

So Kailana and I are going to cohost a blog tour! Each day anyone who wants to participate could take turns sharing a little treat with our friends here in blogland. For example it could be something about a holiday tradition (and it could be whatever holiday you celebrate if you don't do Christmas), or a recipe, or a picture of a hot guy, or a favourite Christmas memory, movie, song...anything you like.

We will create a list of links so that as people express interest we will add them to the list, and then we will post a link directing visitors to the appropriate blog. To give people a chance to get organised, we will start on Sunday 10 December. If there are more people than there are days that's fine too.....the more the merrier!

So do you want to see a little treat each day?


10 December - Kailana
11 December - Marg
12 December - Jennie
13 December - Booklogged
14 December - Rosario
15 December - Cindy
16 December - Carla
17 December - Mailyn
18 December - The Observer
19 December - Elysabeth
20 December - Bookwormom
21 December - Susan Higginbotham
22 December - Chris, the button guy, posting on Kailana's blog
23 December - Melrose Plant
24 December - Carl V



And a very special note of thanks goes to Kailana's friend Chris, who made the gorgeous button for us!

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