Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier

Will Cooper's search for identity and home begins at the age of twelve, when he is given a horse, a key and a map, and sent to the edge of the Cherokee Nation to run a trading post as a bound boy. With a Cherokee chief named Bear and the mysterious and beautiful Claire Featherstone, Will finds the passionate connections and the complications of manhood that will forge his character and shape his life. As his fate becomes intertwined with the destiny of the Cherokee, Will travels to Washington City to fight against the Removal of the Indians from their land to protect Bear's people, their culture, and way of life.

In a voice filled with insight, humour and regret, Will tells of a long life's journey, from the beautiful forests and mountains of the Nation across the South and up and down the Mississippi River, and on into the twentieth century. Thirteen Moons is a novel of breathtaking power and beauty, by an American master.

I like to read the back cover copy sometimes just for the spin they try to put on things. Can Charles Frazier be an American master after only one previous book? Did they read the same book that I did?

I have owned Charles Frazier's first book, Cold Mountain, for at least two years. If I recall correctly I got it off of the 3 for 2 table at Borders because (a) I had heard of it, (b) I didn't own it yet, and (c) there were two other books that I really wanted to get so I might as well get a third one for free right? I have never even picked it up off the shelf, and yet, it's setting is certainly one that I should love.

Our main character is Will Cooper, a young boy who is cast out into the wilderness to serve as a bound boy at a trading post. Before he even gets to his destination, he meets some shifty characters, and also a young girl named Claire Featherstone, who all end up playing pivotal roles in his life. Once at the outpost he is taken under the wing of a Cherokee chief by the name of Bear, and between them over the years they fight to keep Bear's people on their land, and not be sent to the new reserves in the west. The story then continues through telling us of the events of his life until his current age of about 90.

If I had to choose only a couple of words to describe this book they would probably be slow and ponderous. Now that isn't always a bad thing, but it isn't necessarily a good thing either.

Even though lots of things happened in this book including madly passionate love affairs, fortunes won and lost, duels, the Civil War, the coming of the rail road, the Trail of Tears and even though many well known historical figures make appearances including Davy Crockett and President Andrew Jackson, the book feels inordinately slow and, well, slow.

There were certainly beautifully written sections, with the author labouring over the descriptions of the beauty of the land and the passing of time but they weren't enough to make this a beautiful read. Given the adventures of Will Cooper, this book could have been amazing, but to me personally, it just wasn't!

By reading this book I certainly haven't been inspired to pick up Cold Mountain any time soon. Maybe one day I will, but in the meantime I have plenty of other books on my TBR list to get to.

To quote the Washington Post review (quite an entertaining read in itself) that is up on Amazon for this book: "Thirteen Moons is going to be putting a whole bunch of people to sleep".

Rating 3/5

Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine

Please note that there is a Spoiler for the first book in this series (Ill Wind) in the synopsis and throughout the review

Accused of murder, Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin was chased across the country - and killed - by a team charged with hunting down rogue Wardens.

Five days later, Joanne had a lovely funeral and was posthumously cleared of all charges. Her human life was over, but she had been reborn into Dijinnhood. Now, until she masters her enhanced powers, Joanne must try to avoid being claimed by a human. But when a hazard that only a Dijinn could sense infiltrates Earth's atmosphere, Joanne must somehow convince someone to do something about it or the forecast will be deadly.

So who said being all-powerful was going to be easy?

This is the second book in the Weather Warden series after Ill Wind, and the story takes up practically where it left off at the end of that book.

Joanne has been reborn as a Dijinn - kind of. It turns out that the really lovely David has made her into a Dijinn by drawing off some of his own power. What a guy! That now means that they are able to have a look at all the strange stuff that is going on in the atmosphere. What is it? Where does it come from? And is there anyway to stop it?

Then there is also the matter of Dijinn training and not getting claimed by a different Warden and therefore losing her freedom and autonomy. Joanne has only a short time to learn enough to keep her alive, which isn't going to be easy in itself seeing as it seems as though a couple of the big men in dijinnhood aren't exactly fond of her.

Whilst this book was still entertaining,including some very funny moments, and the author does a great job of setting up the story for the next book, I struggled with this a bit compared to Ill Wind....amazing how hard it is to read properly when you had no sleep the night before! And now I can't remember what it is that kept me up all night. Oh wait...yes I can. Hmmm.

Overall I am giving this one a slightly lower grade - not sure if it is because I was too overtired to comprehend, or if it was the book. Either way, I will be continuing to read this series going forward.

Rating 3.5/5

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Silent Night Anthology

In J.D. Robb's "Midnight in Death," Lieutenant Eve Dallas must postpone her first Christmas with her new husband, Roarke, to hunt for an escaped serial killer -- but she and Roarke still manage to find ways to celebrate...Susan Plunkett's "Christmas Promises" brings a woman and her ex-fiance together after four long years as they search for a missing child -- and make up for broken promises of Christmases past...In Dee Holmes' "The Unexpected Gift," Sabrina McKay and her five-year-old son are coping with the first Christmas since her divorce when her son finds a "body" in the yard -- and unexpectedly they rediscover the true spirit of the holidays...In Claire Cross's "A Berry Merry Christmas," a mysterious nanny has a special message to deliver to a young orphan and her uncle who long to feel the joy of Christmas in their hearts once again...

Wow...another one that I finished ages ago. I think I can remember what I thought of it! For the most part it was one of the better anthologies that I have read.
The four stories are actually pretty different in tone and in some ways you could probably argue that they don't fit together all that well, but perhaps that is why they do go together.

With Midnight In Death you get what you expect - death, darkness, humour, sexiness, all mixed in with Eve feeling uncomfortable about Christmas. A man that Eve helped put behind bars three years ago escapes, Eve is on the case to try and figure out where he could have got to. David Palmer is murdering everyone who helped put him away, and Eve is on his list. She needs to try and keep the others on the list safe, including one of her closest friends, and without getting injured, or worse, herself. Lucky Roarke is around to assist as much as he can...even when it really annoys Eve.

Christmas Promises by Susan Plunkett is another suspense type story, with Jake Rimsa reunited with his ex fiancee Marne York, just before Christmas. The high society girl that Jake left behind is gone, and in her place is a tough women and children's advocates - fighting for the rights of battered women and children in one of the toughest areas of the city, and Jake's old stomping ground. When one of her client's is nearly killed by her husband, his next target is Marne, and the suspense is built up as you try and figure out which of the police assigned to the case is on the good side, and who isn't. How have the events of four years ago changed Marne, and why didn't she share the secrets with Jake all that time ago, and do they have a future. This was a really well developed story, and it was therefore surprising to find that there was really very little else written by this author in recent times. It does seem like there was a new hardcover out last year co written with another author, so I might add that to my list.

The other two stories, starting with Claire Cross' A Berry, Merry Christmas, feel more like straight romance than romantic suspense, but in the case of this story, this works fine. It is a rather delightful, fanciful story of a Christmas Elf named Holly Berry. She just doesn't quite fit in at the North Pole, so Santa sends her on special assignment. A little orphan girl named Natalie has been living with her Uncle Drew since the night when she was nearly killed, and her parents did die, in a fire that started because of faulty Christmas lights. Drew is doing everything he can to protect her from the memories, including not celebrating Christmas, but Holly soon starts to shake things up a bit after she is hired as Natalie's nanny. Natalie has secretly sent a letter to Santa asking for a wife for Uncle Drew, and Holly is there to make sure that that happens. when she meets the lucky lady though, Holly realises that she is attracted to Drew and despite her every effort, she can't help but fall in love with him. A really nice, fun read, full of Christmas magic.

The other story in the book was An Unexpected Gift by Dee Holmes, and for me, it was the weakest of the book. It is the first Christmas after her divorce for Sabrina, and she is planning to spend it quietly with her son. Everything is going according to plan until her son finds a body in the front yard. Turns out it is her high school sweetheart, Zach, and whilst he isn't dead, he is passed out. And from there, we basically have instant attraction, nearly instant love. Whilst the story is nice enough, it is all very sudden, and the plot isn't helped at all by the reappearance of her ex husband wanting Sabrina back. In the end, there is a lot of discussion about the meaning of Christmas and a HEA, but for the most part this story was missing something that was definitely present in the other stories.

Three good stories out of four is pretty good in an anthology, so I am happy, especially seeing as I only got it because it had the In Death story in it!

Rating: 4/5

In My Heart by Melody Thomas

A Breathless Passion

After a whirlwind courtship and elopement, Lady Alexandra Marshall watched helplessly as her husband was shipped off by her irate father. An annulment followed, and though Alexandra waited with packed bags, Christopher never returned for her. She has tried desperately to forget the only love she's ever known and now devotes herself to the British Museum…until she discovers that someone has pilfered a fortune in jewels.

His scandalous marriage to Alex had hardened Sir Christopher Donally against the aristocracy that labeled a man's worth by the titles he carried rather than by his deeds. Now with a new bride in his future and a sister who is about to enter Society, Christopher is determined to put the past behind him. But when Alex asks for his help in finding a thief, he agrees, in exchange for her support in launching his sister. Though running into Alex was not planned, nor his emotional reaction welcomed, he can't help but be undone by one single, soul-stirring kiss…

When Melody Thomas was chosen as Author of the Month for a group that I am in a while ago (maybe November...yes, late again), I had to confess that I had never heard of her before. After finishing her book I am wondering....why not?

I must confess that it did take me quite a while to get into the story. The heroine, Alex, works at the British Museum, and discovers that many priceless exhibits appear to be missing, having been replaced with paste copies. As soon as she brings it to management's attention it becomes clear that she has either been involved in the swindle, or at the very least is about to be framed for it. After trying unsuccessfully to get assistance from the other members of the Museum board, there is only one person left to ask - Sir Christopher Donally - the man to whom she was married many years previously, only to have had her marriage annulled.

At first I found Alex quite difficult to get to know and like, but gradually the author built the relationship between Alex and Christopher, as well as with his family, to the point where it rang true. At the same time the disintegrating relationship with many of the people around her forced her to become something more than just a high born lady with a job. As the secrets of the past are revealed, the chemistry between Alex and Christopher builds nicely and leads to a satisfying conclusion, after a heart wrenching confession.

I normally focus a lot on the heroes of the romance novels I read, and Christopher was certainly a good hero, but quite unusually for me, it was the heroine of this novel that made it for me, once I got past the brisk, academic exterior.

I will definitely be reading more from this author.

Rating: 4.5/5

Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich

From #1 blockbuster bestselling author Janet Evanovich comes a Stephanie Plum novel that takes adventure, action, suspense (and maybe even true love?) to new heights.

Watch your back…
Look both ways…
Because love is in the air…
And that means big trouble!

Mysterious men have a way of showing up in Stephanie Plum's apartment. When the shadowy Diesel appears, he has a task for Stephanie -- and he's not taking no for an answer. Annie Hart is a "relationship expert" who is wanted for armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Stephanie needs to find her, fast. Diesel knows where she is. So they make a deal: He'll help her get Annie if Stephanie plays matchmaker to several of Annie's most difficult clients. But someone wants to find Annie even more than Diesel and Stephanie. Someone with a nasty temper. And someone with "unmentionable" skills. Does Diesel know more that he's saying about Annie Hart? Does Diesel have secrets he's keeping from Stephanie and the two men in her life -- Ranger and Morelli? With Stephanie Plum in over her head, things are sure to get a little dicey and a little explosive, Jersey style!

Given that I actually finished this book I am going to keep this brief.

This was billed as a between-the-numbers Plum book with a holiday theme (this time Valentine's Day), somewhat similar to the abysmal Visions of Sugar Plums (Christmas), and features one of the characters from that book, Diesel. Fortunately, I have to say that this second book featuring this character was a much better read.

First things first though.....where were Joe and Ranger? Both of them received a minimum of mentions throughout this book. I think Stephanie spoke to Joe on the phone once and received a message or something from Ranger if I remember correctly. Never fear though, Diesel lusts after Stephanie as well. It must be tough being irresistible.

This was more Stephanie Plum, with all that that means - Grandma Mazur, Lulu, and Stephanie's sister Valerie, her fiance Albert Kloughn and the kids were all there. I have to admit to getting a bit panicked when Valerie and Albert started getting involved because the last time they played a major part in one of the books I found them really annoying. This time though, they were in there, but they were there for a reason, and there was at least some resolution around their storyline!

The idea of Stephanie as a relationship consultant was a fun one as well. All in all, I am glad that I picked this one up. I thought about not doing so after the last holiday novella debacle, but this time around it wasn't too bad at all.

Rating 4/5

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Lover Awakened by J R Ward

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there’s a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Of these, Zsadist is the most terrifying member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

A former blood slave, the vampire Zsadist still bears the scars from a past filled with suffering and humiliation. Renowned for his unquenchable fury and sinister deeds, he is a savage feared by humans and vampires alike. Anger is his only companion, and terror is his only passion—until he rescues a beautiful aristocrat from the evil Lessening Society.

Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for one another begins to overtake them both, Zsadist’s thirst for vengeance against Bella’s tormentors drives him to the brink of madness. Now, Bella must help her lover overcome the wounds of his tortured past, and find a future with her…

I bought this book in November last year, straight after reading Lover Eternal, with the intention that I would read it sooner rather than later. Of course, we all know about intentions! Anyway, given that the release date for Lover Revealed is rapidly approaching I thought I should probably hurry up and get to it...and I am glad that I did! I think that this ended up being my favourite Brotherhood book so far.

I'm sure I have mentioned before how much I love a tortured hero, and Zsadist is right up there with the most tortured heroes I have ever read - scarred, former sex slave who has never willingly made love to anyone, who hates himself and practically everyone around him, illiterate....the list is endless!

The opening events in the book follow closely on from the final events in Lover Eternal. Bella has been kidnapped by a lesser, who is convinced that she is the love of his life. He has managed to create a prison where even vampires cannot escape. Zsadist felt a connection (that he wanted to ignore) when he first met Bella, and when she is kidnapped he is determined, to the point of self destruction, that he will be the one to find her and rescue her! Bella too felt the connection and when she is rescued all she wants it to be close to him - difficult for a man like Zsadist to deal with at the best of times, and even more difficult for him to accept, to the point that he keeps on trying to pass Bella on to a better guy, even though he knows that his bonding to her may have begun.

What about Bella? I don't think that one of JR Ward's strengths is her heroines. She writes fantastic heroes, but her heroines are less stellar. I really struggled with Mary in the last book, but Beth and Bella were both just okay in my opinion.

Without give too much away, (for the few people out there who haven't read this book!), I did love the ending as far as Zsadist was concerned. His determination to accept and improve himself was beautiful, and reflected in the quote below:

I was dead until you found me, though I breathed. I was sightless, though I could see. And then you came....and I was awakened.

There was a lot going on in this story, and after reading this I want to follow John stories, I want to read Phury's story, and Vishous' story, and I want to know what happened to poor, poor Tohrment, and...well, you get the idea. I'm hooked to this series. And that is despite the fact that there are some flaws, included the constant brand name dropping, the constant reference to shit kickers, and numerous other things. Doesn't matter to me - I can accept those things because I am so heavily invested in the main characters and the series as a whole. You might notice that Butch wasn't in my list of characters I want to read about? Well....I do want to read his story, just not as much as I want the others.

I have been pimping this series to one of the girls from work and had to take this book in for her to read a few weeks ago. As I sat on the train I flicked through this book, taking a few choice sections and reading them instead of the book that I was already reading. I ended up crying my eyes out on the train....just picking it up and reading some of the sections were so moving and emotional. A little embarrassing really!

It is my intention to order the next book and read it relatively soon after it is arrived. Of course, it could then take me a month to finish the review like it did for this one!

Rating 4.5/5

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dreams Made Flesh by Anne Bishop

Now return to the realm of the Blood in Dreams Made Flesh - featuring four revelatory all-new adventures of Jaenelle and her kindred...

Jaenelle is the most powerful Witch ever known, centuries of hopes and dreams made flesh at last. She has forged ties with three of the realm's mightiest Blood warriors; Saetan, the High Lord of Hell, who trains Jaenelle in magic and adopts her as his daughter; Lucivar, the winged Eyrien warlord who becomes her protector; and Daemon, born to be Witch's lover. Jaenelle has assumed her rightful place as Queen of the Darkness and restored order and peace to the realms...but at a terrible cost.

In Dreams Made Flesh, discover the origin of the mystical Jewels, and experience the forbidden passion between Lucivar and a simple hearth witch. Witness the clash between Saetan and a Priestess that may forever change reality. And learn whether the sacrifice of Jaenelle's magic has destroyed any hope of happiness between her and Daemon.

Weaver of Dreams

The magic of the Darkness is passed from one race to another as new caretakers for the Realms are chosen in this tale of the origin of the Jewels of power...

Weaver of Dreams is a short story, coming in at only 10 pages. It tells the story of how the Blood comes into being. I have to admit that I read this story twice and was still a little lost. However, having said that, we do get some understanding of who Draca is, who is one of the significant secondary characters that appear in the first three novels.

The Prince of Ebon Rih

Under the cold eye of his aristocratic mother, Eyrien Warlord Prince Lucivar Yaslana struggles with his feelings for his housekeeper, the hearth witch Marian...

The Prince of Ebon Rih is a novella length story that is set between Heir to the Shadows and Queen of the Darkness. It tells the story of Lucivar and Marian - her background, her skills, how they fall in love. It was a really romantic tale, showing us again how strong the family bond is between Saetan, Lucivar and Jaenelle, as well as exposing Jaenelle's sense of fun and perceptive nature. We are also introduced us to a character who plays a significant role in the fourth story in this book.


The Queen of Zuulaman believe they can coerce Saetan into doing their bidding by threatening the life of his child - only to unleash the High Lord of Hell's incalculable fury.

Another short story, this time about 30 pages long, that shows just how powerful The High Lord of Hell is when he loses control of his power when a couple of Queens who should know better cause him unspeakable pain. Frightening. Even more frightening is the fact that Daemon seems to have even less self control. This story also explains some background information regarding the relationship between Saetan and Hekatah. All through the trilogy, Hekatah is one of the thorns in Saetan's side, but their original source of hate has not been explained until now - and boy does she deserve it!

Kaeleer's Heart

Daemon fears Jaenelle will never recover from sacrificing her Black Jewels to purge the Realm of the corrupt Queens. He desires nothing more than to heal her, body and soul - and help her unravel the secret of Twilight's Dawn, the Jewel Jaenelle now

Another novella length story, this time focusing on the relationship between Daemon and Jaenelle. As Jaenelle is recovering from the incredible strain and toll that was placed on her to stop all out war between the territories, Daemon is anxious to ensure that he does nothing to hurt her or harm her in any way. As he treats her as an invalid, she is looking for confirmation that he still wants her, the way she is now, as opposed to her previous all powerful Queen status.

It doesn't help that a lady has decided that Daemon is hers and that she must free him, any way she can and at any cost, so that he can be with her.

Does Daemon actually possess the self control required to be a fair and just leader. This is where he is put to the test.

Another romantic tale, also featuring Saetan, Surreal and Lucivar, and several other secondary characters.

Overall this was an entertaining return to the world of the Black Jewels trilogy. There is apparently going to be another Black Jewels book sometime in the next year or so, and I will definitely be getting it as soon as I possible can after it comes out. Now I am going to try her other trilogy and see if I find it as enjoyable as I did this one!

Rating 4/5

By the way...it's always interesting doing spell check on a post like this....so many spelling errors...according to blogger anyway! LOL!

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Things Mean a Lot

Monday, February 19, 2007

Historical Fiction meme

Susan Higginbotham has adapted a meme that has been going around for those HF fans around the blogosphere.

Straight Historical, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Historical Romance, or Time Travel?

You know, I really am not fussy, although I probably read the most of Straight Historical and Historical Romance.

Historical Figures as Main Characters or Purely Fictional Characters in Historical Settings as Main Characters?

Maybe this wasn't such a good idea - I really am happy reading either of these as well.

Hardback, Trade Paperback, or Mass Market Paperback?

My preference is Trade Paperback, then Mass Market Paperback. I buy very few Hardbacks.

Philippa Gregory or Margaret George?

I have only read one Margaret George, which I really liked, but I will have to go with Philippa Gregory seeing as I have read a lot more of her books.

Amazon or Brick and Mortar?

Hmm. The reality is that my answer would probably be neither because I get most of my books from the library. I don't get to browse through the bookstore anymore when I go because usually I know exactly what book I am going to get when I get to the bookstore, so I guess I will go with Amazon.

Bernard Cornwell or Sharon Penman?

No question here for me. Sharon Penman all the way!

Barnes & Noble or Borders?

Borders, because we don't have Barnes and Noble here.

First Historical Novel You Ever Remember Reading?

I am going to go with Jean Plaidy. I can't remember exactly which ones I read but I went through a glom (even though I would never have known what that meant at the time!) of her work when I was in early high school.

Alphabetize by Author, Alphabetize by Title, or Random?

Kind of random really. I arrange all of my trade paperbacks together and all of my mass markets together, group books together by author but don't alphabetise.

Keep, Throw Away, or Sell?

Keep...except if they are library books. I find it really hard to get rid of books.

Jean Plaidy or Norah Lofts?

Jean Plaidy. Never read any Norah Lofts.

Read with Dust Jacket or Remove It?

On the odd occasion when I am reading a hard cover that isn't from the library I would leave it on.

Stop Reading When Tired or at Chapter Breaks?

Chapter breaks for me, preferably at the end of a chapter that is divisible by 5.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?


Buy or Borrow?


Posie Graeme-Evans or Pamela Kaufman?

Well, I've never read Kaufman. I have read two of Posie Graeme-Evans and have the third book here to read one day, but I did have some issues, particularly with the first book.

Buying Choice: Book Reviews, Recommendations, or Browsing?

Recommendations usually.

Dorothy Dunnett or Anya Seton?

I have read a couple of Seton, but I have every intention of reading more of her and Dunnett also......can I defer this answer for now?

Tidy Ending or Cliffhanger?

Tidy ending, tied up in a big bow.

Sticking Close to Known Historical Fact, or Using Historical Fact as Wallpaper?

Sticking Close to the facts, although as long as the author includes a note to explain where they have deviated from known history and why I will be happy.

Morning Reading, Afternoon Reading or Nighttime Reading?

All of the above, but mostly on the train.

Series or Standalone?

I'm a sucker for a series.

Favorite Book of Which Nobody Else Has Heard?

Hmmm...don't know. I'll go with Noel Barber. I think he was probably very popular in the late 80's, but I never see anything about him anymore. I love his multigenerational family sagas!

Happy Chinese New Year

Yesterday my son was watching Disney, and they were having a Chinese New Year special, which involved them showing back to back episodes of some cartoon featuring a boy who is also a dragon! Anyhow, he came to see me and says:


Happy Chinese lettuce....hmmmm. Made me laugh!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Oh good....more commuting time!

At work today they announced that we are all moving buildings - only 10 minutes further out from the city than we are already.

For me, this means that on a day when all the connections work it is going to take me an hour and twenty minutes on the train each way. Note that this doesn't count the time it takes to drop off or pick up my son or driving to the train station.

On a day when all the connections don't work, it is going to take me nearly an hour and three quarters.

It does mean more reading time again.....but I am not sure if it what I really, really want!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Taking Liberties by Diana Norman

She had been a dignified wife, ever mindful of her husband's status, even if she could not respect the man. But when a letter arrives - on the day of the Earl's funeral - asking her to find a young American captured in British waters, she feels free to respond whatever her family's opinion.

Diana Stacpoole's quest takes her to Plymouth, where she meets Makepeace Hedley, a very different woman, who is trying to trace her young daughter - a passenger on one of the captured ships. All the two women have in common is their search and their growing outrage at the conditions in which the captured Americans are kept, deprived of rights given to other prisoners of war. Reluctantly the aloof Diana, with her belief in privilege and the respect due to the nobility, and the outspoken Makepeace, former innkeeper but now one of England's richest females with her passion for liberty for all, are forced into an alliance to find their missing persons and improve the men's conditions.

A remarkable friendship is born as they face social outrage, public scandal and even arrest, and become embroiled with French prisoners, American escapees and English smugglers. Helping others to liberty leads them to splendid liberty for themselves.

Taking Liberties is an unusual novel and a delight to read. It may have a historical setting, but the contemporary echoes are vivid and clear. Diana Norman has written as excellent successor to A Catch of Consequence.

Having read A Catch of Consequence a while ago, I was pleased to get to this book, which picks up the story of Makepeace Burke several years after the ending of the first book.

When Makepeace's young daughter is on a ship that is captured during hostilities between the Britain and the fledgling colonies of America, Makepeace rushes to Plymouth. On arriving there she finds that one of her close circle of friends has been captured and put into jail, when being put into jail often means a death sentence because of the horrific conditions.

Diana has also made her way to Plymouth to try to release a young man from the same prison as a favour to a friend from her youth. When she sees the conditions, Diana is immediately moved to try to do something for the prisoners, a cause that is both unpopular in the corridors of power and with her family.

With Diana and Makepeace working together, what hope is there that the authorities won't eventually capitulate. Well, it's not as simple as that sounds. Whilst having some of the settings within the dingy and dangerous prisons, other parts of the novel are set in a tiny fishing village where they supplement their income with a little smuggling. Along the way we meet dashing French smugglers, evil Revenue men trying to stop the smuggling trade and the gritty and realistic characters that make up the village life. In some ways, Makepeace comes full circle in this book. The only thing that I would have liked to see in relation to Makepeace was more of Andra. He was stuck in France for most of this book, and she was portrayed as not being quite as confident without his love and him to back her up at times. Their relationship has definitely bloomed from business partners to love to life partners during these two books, and was lovely to read.

As the links between these two worlds are established and bought closer together, the end result for some of the characters may well be freedom, not only for prisoners, but also from memories and marriage and yet for others there may be even less freedom than they currently have.

I really did enjoy this book. Diana Norman write complex and yet simple stories with good characters, out of the ordinary settings and view points and has the ability to move me both to tears and laughter. My thanks again to Jayne from Dear Author for bringing this author to my attention. You can read her thoughts on this book by clicking on the link. I am off to nag my library to hurray up and buy the third book in this series, The Sparks Fly Upwards.

Rating 4.5/5

Bite Anthology

Feel the Touch of Darkness. . .

Follow a vampire who can be as deadly as her prey. Meet a down home southern girl who's found out, much to her chagrin, that vampires are her type. Feel the euphoria of fear in the shadow of a reluctant Queen of the Undead. Step closer to the hot-blooded edge of passion as a strange new mythology of the night is unveiled.

The bite is back in vampire fiction as today's most provocative authors of vampire fiction cast their irresistible spells on you . . .

The brightest and hottest authors --including New York Times best-selling authors Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris--tell all-new tales featuring their best known and loved characters.

I added this book to my TBR list because it was the only Sookie Stackhouse story that I hadn't read previously. I do have to say that when I read the book I was kind of surprised that Laurell K Hamilton and Charlaine Harris were the headline acts in the book because between the two stories by them, they covered only 58 pages out of the total of 294 pages in the book.

* From Laurell K. Hamilton, a never-before-published Anita Blake story in which Anita, temporarily separated from her vampire lover Jean-Claude, must go to him for help on a case. Where she finds herself once more falling under his erotic spell. . .

I haven't read any LKH before, so this was my first exposure to Anita Blake, and based only on this story I am not convinced that I need to read more from her. The story itself felt more like an epilogue and a first chapter than a complete story. Eventually I guess I will get to her, maybe after I finish catch up with all the Sherrilyn Kenyon books.

* A brand-new, Southern Vampire story by Charlaine Harris features Sookie Stackhouse and the vampires who have come to define her romantic life, and have ended her hope of a normal one. . .

You know, I don't recognise the story I read from the blurb above. Basically, this very short story fits in between the last two Sookie Stackhouse books,Dead as a Doornail and Definitely Dead and is about Sookie finding out that her cousin Hadley has died and left her a legacy. This explains a couple of things that happened in Definitely Dead a bit better.

* Newly crowned Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor reluctantly assumes her royal duties in Mary Janice Davidson's brand-new novella.

This is another new to me author that is pretty popular. I was actually pretty surprised when I looked on her website by two things - the first was how many different types of books she writes, and secondly how amateur the website looks. Anyway, Dr Sophie Tourneau has been the local vet in Embarrass, Minnesota for many years. If anyone realises that she is a vampire then no-one is saying anything. She used to have a special friend that she fed off, but he died some time before and she has been lonely for a long time.

Liam Thompson is one of her clients, but he has been secretly in love with her for years. The only problem he is human, but when Sophie realises that there is a rogue vampire on the loose killing young girls, he's there to assist her in anyway she can. Gradually she realises that maybe she could do with Liam's company.

Of course, in a novella 60 pages long, the romance was rushed, but it wasn't too bad. Overall, this book was okay. I might add some more of this authors books to my TBR list eventually. Any recommendations?

* Introduced in the anthology Hot Blooded and the romance Master of the Night, Angela Knight has created a fascinating universe melding Arthurian lore with erotic vampirism . . .

Whilst I enjoyed this one, I did feel a little overwhelmed with understanding the world that the story was set up in, given that haven't read any of the other books in the series. It is a kind of mix of several different stories. The above blurb tells you nothing, so I got the following off of Angela Knight's website.

When brand-new witch Caroline Lang has a vision of demons, evil vampires, and unholy grails, she finds an ally in Galahad, immortal knight of the Round Table.

Galahad is a veteran of the Magekind's magical battles of good against evil, but Caroline is like no partner he's ever had. Sexy, smart-mouthed, and irreverent, it doesn't take Caroline long to get under his skin.

But even as their partnership heats up, dark forces conspire to strip them of their power and kill them. If Galahad and Caroline don't defeat them, mankind will pay the price...

I will definitely be reading more of this series!

* Finally, in the romantic novella "Blood Lust", popular romance author Vickie Taylor brings her own unique spin on vampires . . .

I don't recall hearing about this author before, but she is definitely on my reading radar now.

Daniel Hart has been working to try and develop synthetic blood, something that has the bigwigs in the local vampire community very interested. So interested in fact that they are willing to steal his formula and beat the crap out of him to get it. Fast forward a couple of months and Daniel is determined to exact revenge, not only in respect of his work, but also his fiance who was left undead by them. In order to get revenge he needs to get himself turned into a vampire as well, and this is where Deadre Rue. She is very reluctant to bring him over, especially seeing as she thinks that she has a pretty miserable existence - especially there has been so many restrictions on who she can feed from.

This novella was really good, and I have added this author to my "I am going to read more from this author one day" list!

Overall, I have added a couple of new authors to my list and I have now caught up with all the Sookie Stackhouse stories (I think).

One interesting thing is that this is the fourth anthology I have read so far this year. I only read 6 in total last year. What this does have the effect of doing is increasing the number of new to me authors I have read. So far this year, I have read 19 books, and been introduced to 16 new authors!

Rating 4/5

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Contest with a difference

Susan Grant is having a contest with a difference!

Want revenge on your ex? Here's your chance. I have to edit out the name of my current character's ex-husband in How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days because his name is too close to the hero's name (Reese versus Reef), so now that slot is up for grabs. He's petty and nasty and gets his comeuppance in the end. Mwahaha. So come on and share the love. Give me a first name, and WHY you think your ex (husband, boyfriend, partner) deserves such a (dis)honor. I'll pick one right before the edits are due, and your ex will be immortalized in a book!

(EDITED ORIGINAL POST: The intent was to have fun and blow off steam, but some of the mail I was getting (mostly private) had some really sad stories, truly nasty exes. Ugh! There (myspace) you can't post anonymously, but over here you can. Feel free to share if you like and at the end of the month I'll pick a name.

Just click on the link above to get to the original post.

10 Weird Things About Me

I was tagged by Bookwormmom to do this meme. The thing is, I actually struggle to find 3 interesting things about myself as opposed to 10 weird things, but here goes:

1. I am not a shoes and handbag kind of girl. I hear people gushing over shoes and the like and just don't get it. In fact I own about 10 pairs of shoes, but only really wear two pairs, and those I will wear until they are just about dead and then, and only then, I will go and get new shoes.

2. I don't really like shopping for clothes either. Put me in a bookstore or a papercraft store and I am happy. Other than that, forget it!

3. I don't like any kind of melon. When my mum comes over I buy her some rockmelon but I have to completely clean the fridge out when she is gone because I can't stand the smell of it. I don't eat watermelon but I can live with it in the fridge.

4. Here's one some of you already know about - I have to read a series of books in order. It freaks me out if I can't.

5. I usually visit my library at least twice a week. I currently have 44 books out - although I will be returning at least 6 early next week.

6. If the phone number doesn't display on my mobile phone I won't answer the call.

7. I swear like a trooper at work, a lot less at home. Nothing wrong with this picture except I work for a major church based organisation!

8. I love watching sport...any sport really. Haven't played any myself for about 12 years.

9. I am addicted to Coca Cola.

10. My ex left 4 and a half years ago. In that time I haven't met anyone, given anyone my phone number, kissed anyone, held hands or anything! Of course, he has basically been the opposite. Oh well.

Apparently now I need to tag 10 people, but I have no idea who has or who hasn't been tagged, so whoever wants to do it can!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Shows how little I know

I was a little surprised to hear that Stef Penney won the Costa Prize this week for The Tenderness of Wolves. Whilst it was an okay read, I wouldn't have thought it was a prize winner!

Shows how little I know really doesn't it!

Princess by Gaelen Foley

Dear Reader,

I'm so proud to introduce Gaelen Foley, a captivating new writer who will sweep you away with this unforgettable story of forbidden love and wondrous destiny.

Darius Santiago is the King's most trusted man, a master spy and assassin. He is handsome, charming, ruthless, and he has one weakness—the stunning Princess Serafina. She is all he has ever wanted and everything he cannot have. Serafina has worshipped Darius from afar her whole life, knowing that deep in the reaches of her soul, where she is not royalty but a flesh and blood woman, she belongs to this dangerous, untouchable man. Unable to suppress their desire any longer, they are swept into a daring dance of passion destined to consume them both until a deadly enemy threatens to destroy their new love.

PRINCESS is historical romance at its best—full of adventure, intrigue, and pageantry—from an amazingly talented new author whose storytelling career is just beginning. . . .


Shauna Summers
Senior Editor
The Ballantine Publishing Group

This is the follow up book to The Pirate Prince which was the first Gaelen Foley book I read. In an endeavour to actually get up to date this is going to be a very short review!

Because I was in a bit of a slump when I started reading this, it took me ages to get into it. Darius was dark and brooding and handsome - just the way I like them, but I did find Serafina a bit difficult to get to like because she was a typical spoiled princess. I do love the scope of the two books I have read, despite the fact that a couple of the plot twists were pretty far fetched! The other thing that I felt was a bit far fetched was the ending which seemed to be a completely different Darius than the one we had gotten to know previously, although I do understand that it was designed to show how far he had come! There was quite a bit of action throughout this book, but it was well balanced with sections where Darius and Serafina were alone that were really nice too.

Lazar from Pirate Prince played a fair part in it, although in many ways he seemed quite strict and rigid compared to how he was portrayed in his book, but Allegra was reduced to cameo appearances - seems unlikely from the feisty girl we met in the first book.

The next book in the series features Serafina's brother Rafe. I am not quite sure what to make of Rafe yet - guess we shall see in the next book!

Rating 4/5

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Zipporah by Marek Halter

Set over three thousand years ago, a passionate love story divides an ancient world.

Her name is Zipporah.

A black child, she was found on the shores of the Red Sea, and given a name that meant 'bird'.

But, because of the colour of her skin, no man wanted her as his wife. Then, as she was drawing water at a well, she met a stranger. An outcast like herself, he was a fugitive.

His name was Moses.

A beautiful woman and a generous lover, Zipporah was to share Moses' destiny. Together they set out on an epic journey across the desert to Egypt, where they would confront the Pharaoh and beg him to set their people free.

But Zipporah's love for Moses condemned her too: for among the Hebrews of the Exodus her status as a black woman was to have catastrophic consequences.

This is the second book in the Canaan trilogy by Marek Halter, following on from Sarah, and once again the author is focusing on an important figure in the Old Testament, Moses, and his wife Zipporah.

As far as the characters go, Halter made some quite interesting choices in relation to Zipporah - there is very little known of her in the Old Testament, other than how she met Moses at a well, and that she is the daughter of Jethro. In this book, Halter chooses to make her a Cushite, so that she is much darker skinned than the people around her, and makes her the adopted daughter of Jethro - the daughter of his heart - therefore causing jealousy within her adopted household. This also has the effect of making her a stranger among the people, a theme that is mentioned more than once, particularly with Moses' experiences initially when he comes to live with the Midianites, and then later again when he returns to Egypt. It also introduces the spectre of racial issues and of familial disharmony that is echoed later as Zipporah meets Moses' true family.

The initial meetings and courtships of Moses and Zipporah were well written, and the chemistry between the two was quite strong but this was not strong enough to carry the whole book.

There were several things in this novel that did not quite sit right with me - for example Moses' and Zipporah's relationships seemed kind of unusual because they were not married until quite some time after they had had children, and also in the events at the conclusion of the novel. It also seemed that the author was trying too hard to keep on trying to mirror Zipporah's experiences in Moses' life and vice versa.

I wondered at times when reading this story if at times the novelist couldn't quite decide if he was really telling Moses' story or if he was more interested in Zipporah's story - not that those two aspects were incompatible - but just that the two threads didn't seem to be connected all that well, particularly in the second half of the book when the story seemed to lose a bit of steam in some ways, with some parts of the story being quite simplistic at times.

I guess the bonus in taking the characters like the women of the Old Testament is that so little is known about them, so there is a fair amount of freedom to write stories within the restrictions of the little that we do know of them, and the well known stories of their men folk.

Once again, reading this story did make me want to pull out the trusty Bible, which last saw light of day when I read Sarah, and have a quick read to see what was known and what was completely fiction.

For me, whilst this book was interesting, it wasn't great, and I think that there were some issues with pacing, and tying the major strands of story together. There is one more book in the Canaan trilogy, called Lilah, and I am sufficiently interested to want to read it. Hopefully there won't be the same kind of issues in the next book.

Rating 3.5/5

Edited to correct an error...thanks Zeek!

Doing the "I just won a book" happy dance!

I just found out that I have won a book from Nalini Singh. It is supposed to be Bound by Marriage, but I have already ordered that so I will get one of her other books. The only book I have previously read by her was Slave to Sensation and that was a really good read, so I am looking forward to giving another one of her books a go!!