Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Twylight Tower by Karen Harper

It is May 1560. As sinister storm clouds gather overhead, twenty-six-year-old Queen Elizabeth dispatches William Cecil, her most trusted adviser, to Scotland for crucial negotiations. Handsome, ambitious Lord Robert Dudley is at her side. But their leisurely midsummer idyll is cut short when the court’s master lutenist plunges to his death from a parapet beneath the queen’s window. The loyal retainers of Elizabeth’s privy council do not accept the official verdict of accidental death. Their fears are borne out when another tragedy rocks the realm, and points the way to a conspiracy to bring down Elizabeth and seize the throne. As ill winds of treachery swirl around the court, and suspicion falls on those within Elizabeth’s intimate circle, a vengeful enemy slips from the shadows...a traitorous usurper who would be sovereign.

With The Twylight Tower, Karen Harper brings a legendary era to life, drawing us into an intoxicating world of majesty and mayhem, political intrigue and adventure...where danger is everywhere...and where a young queen journeys to greatness in the long shadow of her bloodstained past.

This is the third book in the Elizabeth I series, following on from The Poyson Garden and The Tidal Poole. The story opens with the death of the Queen's lute player when he tumbles from the tower. At the beginning, Queen Elizabeth doesn't think that it is murder, even though many of her close companions think otherwise. Elizabeth herself is too busy in her relationship with Robert Dudley, to pay attention to a possible murder, let alone the affairs of state. However, when there is another death, and this time it is in circumstances that could have seen her injured herself, she is ready to pay a bit more attention.

What this book did have was a really interesting mix of actual characters and events, and fictional characters, and the story itself was quite interesting. What the above blurb does not show is that this book is also another theory on the age old question - who killed Amy Robsart, wife of Robin Dudley.

So why isn't this book graded higher...well, it really seemed to drag a little, and the resolution, including of the 'who killed Amy Robsart' seemed a little too unusual for me, but the relationships between the queen and her circle of friends were very well developed, with threads of storyline continuing from earlier books.

Now I have to decide whether I want to continue reading this series, because my library doesn't have any of the next five books in the series, although I suspect I could probably get an inter library loan if I really wanted to read the next one at least.

Rating 3/5

Friday, January 26, 2007

Magic Study by Maria V Snyder

You know your life is bad when you miss your days as a poison taster . . .

With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she'd been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can't help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways -- and her newfound friends and relatives don't think it's for the better . . .

Despite the turmoil, she's eager to start her magic training -- especially as she's been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia's throne for a lost prince -- and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.

If that wasn't bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies . . .

I have been eagerly anticipating getting hold of this book. The first book in this series, Poison Study, was one of the few 5/5 books I read last year.

After her adventures in Ixia, Yelena is now is Sitia, getting to know a family that she has no recollections of, and trying to adapt to a completely foreign way of life to her. There are strange clothes, strange food, strange feelings of anxiousness, animosity from her brother, as well as a new life at the Citade (a kind of magician's school) that she now has to attend in order to meet her promise to Irys, who she met in the previous book.

There were many, many things to like about this book - the setting, the different areas of Ixia that had such variable conditions and people, the suspense.

There was just one thing that drove me a little insane, and that was in relation to Valek. Once Yelena and Valek were reunited he always called her love...drove me nuts, and didn't really fit my idea of his character that I had built in the first book. As an occasional endearment it's fine, but ALL of the time was a little bit too much!

Overall, a satisfying follow up to Poison Study, and I can't wait for Fire Study to come out!

Rating 4.5/5

Rules of Seduction by Madeline Hunter

Dangerous. Sensual. Handsome as sin. Meet Hayden Rothwell, the shamelessly erotic hero of The Rules of Seduction and author Madeline Hunter’s most irresistible alpha male yet: a man of extraordinary passion and power, a man who can bring out the seductress in any woman...

He enters her home without warning or invitation -- a stranger of shadowy motives and commanding sensuality. Within hours, Alexia Welbourne is penniless, without any hope of marriage. Until Hayden Rothwell takes her to bed. When one impulsive act of passion forces Alexia to marry the very man who has ruined her, Hayden’s seduction of Alexia is nearly complete. What Alexia doesn’t know is that her irresistible new husband is driven by a secret purpose -- and a debt of honor he will risk everything to repay. Alexia is the wild card. Reluctant to give up their nightly pleasures, Hayden must find a way to keep Alexia by his side...only to be utterly, thoroughly seduced by a woman who is now playing by her own rules.

Madeline Hunter is a completely new to me author. I don't recall having even heard of her until I read some reviews of this book over at, and as soon as I read those reviews, I HAD to go and get this book, and boy, am I glad I did!

Hayden was almost the ultimate man of honour, allowing people (including his wife) to think the worst of him rather than spill the secrets that he holds about certain people. I totally bought the growing feelings between him and Alexia. She in turn was intelligent, feisty and realistic - she was the poor relative, but she was not a martyr, not willing to sacrifice on the altar of marriage just to save her family. She also realised that by making the choices that she made she was going to alienate some people that she loved, and made considered decisions accordingly. The background story was extremely interesting, although I did cringe at just one aspect about Alexia's cousin Ben, who she thought was going to offer for her before he died whilst fighting another country's war.

There were interesting secondary characters, particularly Hayden's brother and Alexia's friend and her cousin as well. I love a series, so here's hoping we will get to see more of these characters. It looks as though there is a connected book due out in September called The Lessons of Desire.

For a much better review, click here and here for the two Ja(y)nes thoughts.

One indication of how much I enjoyed this book is that as I sit here thinking about what to say I find myself wanting to reread this book, even though I only finished it on 3 January. I don't really do rereads - in fact last year I only reread one book, and that was a book I read in high school.

I will definitely be reading more by this author!

Rating 4.5/5

Australia Day 2007

On this day, 26 January 1788, the first ships carrying colonists arrived at Sydney Cove. Those early days of colonisation were very difficult - we've come a long way since then.

So today is Australia Day. Generally we don't get too involved in doing anything special, although it is a public holiday so if I wasn't already on holidays I would be having a day off. I might go and buy some lamingtons a bit later!!

I've been off work for two weeks now, and yet I still haven't managed to get everything done that I wanted to do. One of those things was to catch up on reviews...instead I find myself falling further behind!

I have managed to do a couple of things that have been hanging around forever though, and on Monday I have a couple of workmen coming to have a look at some things for me. Hopefully by the time I go back to work on Wednesday I will have done all the things I wanted to do.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Joint review - The Silver Rose by Susan Carroll

Kailana and I were meant to do a joint review of The Silver Rose by Susan
Carroll ages ago. She has just read it and she has added her thoughts to mine on her blog. Her post can be found here.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Midnight Pleasures Anthology

Handsome and sensual, surrounded by an aura of danger, mystery, and the forbidden, a lover steps from the shadows. But is he mortal? Or is he an ancient god, a sorcerer, or a mythical beast who can possess a woman's heart...and her very soul?

Four of romance's most popular authors have created this spellbinding collection of stores filled with dark passion and desire. Under the cover of darkness, their heroes inhabit worlds haunted by ageless hungers and deadly forces stronger than any seen by day...and vanquished only by the power of love.

Now travel into realms where dazzling wonders roam the night, where magic replaces reason, and where a kiss unleashes a raging fire in the blood. And here, if you dare, discover the seduction that begins at the bewitching hour when a man and woman partake in...Midnight Pleasures.

I finished this anthology last night and whilst I normally like to review books in the order that I read them in. However, with this one I wanted to write the review straight away because otherwise I knew that I was going to forget some details! I originally got this book from the library so that I could read the novella Phantom Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon as I continue glomming the Dark Hunter series. I had never read any of the other authors in the book. As soon as I got it, I read Phantom Lover and then I tried to start the other novellas.....and now I am not even sure where to start!!

The price of saving her dying mother is Channa's promise to spend a year at the castle of the tormented nobleman, Lord obey him as his servant, or as his secrets are revealed, or become his salvation. And her own.

The first story in the book was Darkfest by Amanda Ashley. I am not sure how to say this any other way but........WHAT A STINKER! Starting from the characters names - the hero's name is Darkfest and the heroine is Channa Leigh! Now Darkfest is a wizard - to me it sounds more like the name of a convention of warlocks and wizards, not an individual!! Now, not only is he a wizard, he can change into a wolf. Channa Leigh is blind but can see when she is touching the wolf.

In exchange for her mother's life, Channa Leigh has to spend a year with Darkfest, and then when that year is over, she will be able to go and marry her betrothed Ronin. Now things get really silly when Darkfest turns Ronin into a frog. Also featuring in this story is a dragon, and then I did wonder if Darkfest was also going to turn into a vampire as well because he seemed to have an aversion to sunlight as well that either wasn't really explained or I just skimmed over what explanation was there. There were a couple of really squikky moments when he was a wolf and ....well, you get the idea. If I could put a book down when I wasn't enjoying it, I wouldn't have finished this one, but I can't so I did, and I tell you it was a relief when it was over!!! If I was rating this story I would give it a 1/5.

Haunted by recurring nightmares of terrifying beasts, Erin McDaniels is afraid to sleep - until a hero arrives in her dreams to save her....and makes erotic, incredible love to her. But can she find him again when she is awake?

Phantom Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon was the first novella that I read out of this book, and I really enjoyed it. This short story introduces the Dream Hunters into the Dark Hunter series, and so whilst it really could be read alone, I suspect that this novella provides yet another platform in the series.

The hero is V'Aidan, who is not necessarily the good guy at the start, but something about Erin reaches his feelings, something that he is not supposed to have as a Skoti:

Skoti are not supposed to have any creativity of their own. They're not supposed to want love. Not supposed to want anything except a single night of dream surfing, hopping from one person to the next.

I really enjoyed this story, and it was very, very steamy! It will be interesting to see where the Dream Hunter story lines go in the future.

A consultant for a TV series about one gorgeous witch, "white witch" Melissa St. Cloud plans to make the show authentic. But once on the set she is pulled into the arms of a man who opens up a doorway to the dark side and chilling peril.

Next up was Under Her Spell by Maggie Shayne. As soon as Melissa St. Cloud meets Alexander Quinn she is irresistibly attracted to him, but she is also immediately aware that there is some kind of darkness around him. As the story progresses we get to find out more about him, and where that feeling of darkness comes from. As part of that we find out about a 30 year old mystery, and the influence of the father that Alexander never actually met over his life.

Whilst I didn't mind this story, there was a bit too much info dump in it, especially around the spells and what have you. It wasn't a bad story I guess.

Running away from an arranged marriage, Elise steals aboard a wagon in a traveling circus and finds herself in the bed of the Beast Tamer, Sterling Wulf, who is something other than he seems....and suddenly all Elise desires.

The final story was A Wulf's Curse by Ronda Thompson, and to be honest, this is the only author out of the three new to me authors in this anthology that I will read again. All of the males in Wulf's family have been cursed - if they love, then they will be destined to become werewolves whenever there is a full moon. For this reason, Wulf has basically withdrawn from the world, and women in particular, but when he finds runaway Elise Collins in his bed, suddenly he realises that he hasn't withdrawn far enough away. As Elise negotiates to stay with the circus until they get to Liverpool where her aunt lives, it is agreed that it is under the condition that she will work for her keep, and in a circus that means performing. In order to try and scare her away, it is suggested that she will do the Dance of the Veils, something that should mortify a well bought up young lady of the ton, but fear is a powerful motivator, and Elise is terrified of being found by her uncle and forced into marriage with the man of his choice. As Elise and Wulf spend more time together their feelings grow stronger, until the secrets that they both have are revealed.

This seems to be an introductory story in a new series, and having read this, I have added the other three books featuring the Wulfs to my TBR list.

So overall, one stinker, one okay read, and two pretty good reads.

Rating 3/5

Flying Too High by Kerry Greenwood

The second in the classic Phryne Fisher series from Kerry Greenwood, featuring the irresistible heroine Phryne. Whether she's foiling kidnappers, seducing beautiful young men or simply deciding what to wear for dinner, Phryne handles everything with her inimitable panache and flair.

Danger, excitement and love - this is how the glamorous Phryne Fisher is determined to live her life in her second enticing adventure.

Walking the wings of a Tiger Moth plane in full flight ought to be enough excitement for most people, but not Phryne Fisher, amateur detective, woman of mystery, as delectable as the finest chocolate and as sharp as razor blades.

In this, the second Phryne Fisher mystery, the 1920s' most talented and glamorous detective flies even higher, handling a murder, a kidnapping and the usual array of beautiful young men with style and consummate ease - and all before it's time to adjourn to the Queenscliff Hotel for breakfast. Whether she's flying planes, clearing a friend of homicide charges or saving a child from kidnapping, she handles everything with the same dash and elan with which she drives her red Hispano-Suiza.

Finally!! I am up to reviewing books that I have read this year!

This is the second in the Phryne Fisher series after Cocaine Blues and once again she is completely embroiled in mysteries. This time there are two - the death of a successful business man whose son has been accused of being the murderer and also the kidnap of a young girl.

Phryne is a completely exuberant character -as an example, in the first few pages of the book she goes walking along the wings of a Tiger Moth aeroplane for fun.

During this book we get to meet a few more of the people who I suspect are going to become regulars in the series, including her new housekeepers, as well as some that we met in the last book like Dot, her maid. Phryne has moved out of the Hotel Windsor and into her own home, and her new servants must get used to the quite liberal lifestyle that Phryne indulges in, including a handsome young doctor, and a passionate Italian sculptor.

Once again, Kerry Greenwood has done an excellent job of portraying the setting of the latter days of the 1920s, and the times of an exuberant, independent woman living life to the fullest! There were also the familiar settings of Melbourne and Geelong as an added bonus!

Rating 4/5

Very strange

Some of you may know that just before Christmas I started doing card making. I'm not really a crafty person so whilst it is fun it is also quite challenging for me.

Starting last Friday night, I have signed up for a monthly card making workshop where a group of us will get together, learn new things and just have a chat and some wine or stuff.

Anyway, a couple of days before the first workshop, we got an email saying having a think about what we had coming up, and we may have some free time where we could make birthday cards etc. So I was thinking about what I have coming up and was compiling a list (couple of birthdays, an engagement etc).

So I went to bed thinking about my list, and I dreamed about the list of cards that I needed to make, and I very vividly dreamed that I needed to make a With Sympathy card. Even when I woke up it was very clear that I needed to make one, but I had no idea why or who for. We didn't end up having very much free time, so I didn't make it.

Today, a family that I have been friends with for 20 years have rung and said that they were on their way over from Adelaide to Melbourne because his grandmother has died, so we are going to have lunch with them today. My sister was like "so this is who you needed the sympathy card for".

Very strange!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

50th Birthday card

I made this for a friend of mine who turned 50 recently. I'm pretty happy with the way it worked out!

Card Making Workshop - January 2007

Someone I know is starting to have monthly cardmaking workshops - each month will be a different theme, and tonight's was Special Occasions. Very timely for me, as my cousin got engaged a couple of weeks ago! My sister and I are both doing the workshop though so we ended up having to decide who was sending which card, so she is sending her version of the black card and I am sending the white and pink card.

I didn't follow instructions properly so my purple card ended up being a horizontal card instead of a vertical card...but it still looks pretty good (well,except for the fact that I didn't get the stamps lined up properly, but it's easy to be critical.)

If nothing else we had a lot of fun, which is what it's all supposed to be about right?

More Christmas Cards

I've mentioned a couple of times that I had some more pictures of Christmas cards, and finally I am getting around to uploading them!!

This card was inspired by something I saw over on Hero Arts. I bought a five pack of Christmas stamps and this is using just one of them.Of all the cards I made this Christmas, this was one of my favourites.

These three were once again inspired by the same set of stamps that I bought and an idea I saw over on the Hero Arts website. I much prefer the bottom two.

This was actually the first card I ever made. It was made at a Crafty Kidz workshop so it was really just following the instructions we were given!

This one was one that my sister's mother in law learnt at a Crafty Kidz workshop and then tried to impart to me!! It looks really effective, but let me tell you that trying to get the pieces back into the triangle shap after they had been cut up was very tricky!

These are actually both the same cards. I really liked the way that the stippling thought the punched out stars left the shapes on the inside of the cards. I wasn't overly happy with the middle line of the card....never mind!

So there you have it!! At least I made some cards!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Expensive day out

I am on holidays from work at the moment, spending two weeks of the holidays with my son. Today we decided it was a good day for an outing so we decided that we were going to go to the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre and go for a swim. In order to get there we need to go past the city so I decided I would drop into the romance bookstore and pick up a couple of books (The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason and Demon Angel by Meljean Brook) that I had waiting for me. Because the store is right in the city I don't normally drive, but today I did.

I got to the store and there were no parking spaces, so I parked in the 15 minute loading zone. I was in the store for 7 minutes tops, and came out to find that I had got a parking ticket. $107 fine......would have been much cheaper to just get the two books sent to me! I am going to try to appeal - after all I was loading (right?), and I was less than 5 minutes! What do you think my chances are? What's your most expensive trip to a bookstore been?

To top it all off, my son fell over and landed on his butt on the pool deck, banged his head on the waterslide on the way down and caught his fingers in the back door a little while ago. Maybe we should have just stayed in bed!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovich

When Megan Murphy discovered a floppy-eared rabbit gnawing on the hem of her skirt, she meant to give its careless owner a piece of her mind, but Dr. Patrick Hunter was too attractive to stay mad at for long. Soon the two are making Thanksgiving dinner for their families.

And this was the last book I read in 2006...phew! Now I can start writing about the books of 2007!

As always, these re released romances of Janet Evanovich's are good brain candy. The storyline was probably a little unrealistic, what with a baby being left on his doorstep (he's a paediatrician) and therefore him needing Megan to help look after the baby. Soon the two are playing house and things begin to heat up!

It was a fun little read, as they all are, although this was better than some of the others that have been re released over the last couple of years.

Rating 4/5

Finished Reading on 30 December 2006


I went to the letter box today and found that I had received two books!

One was Archangel by Sharon Shinn which I won from Twisted Kingdom not too long ago and the other was the School for Heiresses anthology that a friend from one of my groups sent me!


Thanks guys!

I'm so excited!!

Been a while since I posted, but I am still buying things for the card making. Just today I went and bought some new papers and an embellishment! One of the scrapping stores near me has packs out every month which include some papers and something else. I bought one in December and today I bought another one. The main reason why I am buying them is because they have different coloured papers and the like that I never would choose if I was walking into the shop and the plan is that this will help me expand my horizons a little!

One of the things that I am going to be doing this year in terms of cardmaking is to attend monthly workshops with a trainer and the first one is Friday night! She is going to be imparting various techniques and I am hoping to get some really good ideas.

At the moment I have a couple of cards to make - an engagement card for my cousin, a 50th birthday card for a friend, a 30th birthday card for a work colleague and my sister's birthday is coming up as well.

Will be interesting to see what I learn.

I do have some more photos to post soon, when I get around to it!

Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes

'I had to go back to New York and try to find him. There was a chance he mightn't be there but I had to give it a go because there was one thing I was certain of: he wasn't here.'

Anna Walsh is officially a wreck. Physically broken and emotionally shattered, she lies on her parents' Dublin sofa with only one thing on her mind: getting back to New York. New York means her best friends, The Most Fabulous Job In The World and above all, it means her husband, Aidan.

But nothing in Anna's life is that simple anymore!

Not only is her return to Manhattan complicated by her physical and emotional scars - but Aidan seems to have vanished.

Is it time for Anna to move on?

Is it even possible for her to move on?

A motley group of misfits, an earth-shattering revelation, two births and one very weird wedding might help Anna find some answers - and will change her life forever.

Hilarious, heartbreaking and life-affirming, Marian's unforgettable new novel is as epic as it is entertaining.

Oh my goodness, what a book!! I am officially a Marian Keyes fan girl. This book is the latest book in the Walsh sisters series, and in my opinion it is one of the best I have read by her, rivalling even Last Chance Saloon.

I've said before, and I will say it again I'm sure, that one of Keyes' skills is to take a very serious topic, and not only work through it, but make it funny and entertaining, and emotional and heart breaking. I cannot tell you the number of times that I cried during this book.

When we first meet Anna again, she is staying with her parents, who are as kooky as ever. She is scarred and has broken bones, and yet we don't really find out what has happened to her until a fair way into the book. Anna is also desperate to talk to her husband Aidan. We get to hear the story of how they met, and their life together in New York, where she has what appears to be the perfect life. Of course, not everything is perfect, and there are some surprising revelations, especially at the end of the book, but they definitely still fit the things that we knew about the characters in the book.

As Anna returns to work, her desperation to speak to Aidan increases until finally we find out where he is. It's not possible to discuss this book without major spoilers, so I will leave it at that, but I do really, really highly recommend this book.

There are lots of appearances by the other Walsh family members, but it was most fantastic to see the interactions between Anna and Rachel, and the super cool Luke from Rachel's Holiday, along with his friends The Real Men.

This was the second last book I read in 2006, and it was one of only five 5/5 reads for the year - definitely one of the most enjoyable and most memorable books of last year! Have I gushed enough yet?

Oh, and I am not alone in my enjoyment of this book! Clare from Confessions of a Book Addict gave it a 6 out of 4!

Rating 5/5

Finished reading on 30 December 2006

The Master Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Master Quilter opens with the sound of wedding bells ringing in the ears of the Elm Creek Quilters. The close-knit group can hardly believe that their own Sylvia Compson planned her holiday wedding to sweetheart Andrew in complete secrecy, without the help of even one of her friends. Eager to honor the newlyweds, the Elm Creek Quilters hasten to stitch a bridal quilt for their favorite Master Quilter. Until the time comes to unveil the surprise gift, they reason, Sylvia will be the one in the dark.

Such little white lies seem harmless enough, especially in the service of future happiness. Yet Elm Creek Manor, and the quilting retreat established there by the Elm Creek Quilters, thrives on the strength of women sharing their creativity, their challenges, and their dreams. Somehow, in the race to commemorate in Sylvia's bridal quilt all that they hold dear about her wisdom, skill, and devotion, they forget to give honesty its pride of place.

As the quilt blocks accumulate, the Elm Creek Quilters celebrate the joy of new beginnings and the ongoing success of their business -- until forces conspire to threaten their happiness and prosperity. Two among them falter in their personal relationships, yet they are too proud to share their pain. The financial problems of another leave the quilt project vulnerable to a malicious act that may prevent its completion. And as two others weigh the comfort of the present against dreams of a future far from Elm Creek Manor, closely guarded secrets strain the bonds of friendship with those who may be left behind.

The Dallas Morning News has praised the Elm Creek Quilts series as "classics of their kind," and The Master Quilter is Chiaverini's latest gift to readers.

I my review of the last book I read in this series, (The Quilter's Apprentice)I said that it took me a long time to get into the book, and that it wasn't as good as the earlier books in the series, and I am sorry to report that the same is true of this entry in the series. In fact, I enjoyed this one even less than the last one.

When trying to think why, I think it was because the focus shifted again from the past and returned to the original characters that were featured in the The Quilter's Apprentice, but instead of an affirming story of friendship, there was conflict, and secrets amongst other things. Some of the topics were also much bleaker including the very volatile breakdown of a marriage and old rivalries that came to a confrontation. So whilst the book was much darker in tone, and more realistic I guess, I am not one hundred percent sure that this is what I wanted to read at the time - so some of my issues about this book are probably more about me than the book really.

Yes, in the end, there was resolution, and there are changes afoot at Elm Creek Quilts. The writing was still good. I do have the next book in the series to read. Hopefully the next book will meet my expectations a little more.

Rating 3/5

Finished reading 29 December 2006

The Wedding Trap by Tracy Anne Warren

From ugly duckling to beautiful swan

Eliza Hammond has always been quiet and reserved- hardly the best qualities for finding the man of her dreams and living happily ever after. A new heiress, Eliza is financially secure, courtesy of her aunt's fortune, but even great wealth has its drawbacks since every greedy, fortune-hunting bachelor suddenly finds Eliza irresistible.

To help her best friend, Violet takes Eliza's romantic dilemma into her own hands, enlisting the social skills of her brother-in-law, Lord Christopher "Kit" Winter. Kit helps transform Eliza into a stunning belle, certain to attract a worthy beau. There's just one problem: Eliza has always been head over heels in love with Kit, the very man who is trying to find her a husband! But during Eliza's sometimes-comic extreme makeover, and with a few secret love lessons from Kit on the side, sparks- and passionate kisses- begin to fly. Kit soon finds himself completely overcome by an all-consuming desire for Eliza. But if he fails to realize his true love for her, he may lose this fair lady forever.

The culmination of the Trap trilogy, this book features the younger brother and the best friend of the hero and heroine from The Husband Trap.

Eliza is a perennial wallflower, but now she is a rich wallflower and Violet Wyndham has taken it upon herself to find the best match that she can for her friend. Kit becomes involved after he offers his opinion on the unsuitability of a couple of the potential husbands, and suddenly he finds that he has volunteered himself to become the tutor to Eliza. Eliza is extremely uncomfortable, for no one realises that she has been secretly in love with Kit for years. He had been overseas and she had finally convinced herself that she had no more feelings for him, so to have to be in such close proximity to Kit now shouldn't be a problem right?

First things are a change of appearance and wardrobe, then a brush up on dancing and social skills. Inevitably, the attraction between Kit and Eliza starts growing and when Eliza asks for a lesson on kissing no one is more surprised than Kit to feel the sparks between them.

Meanwhile, Eliza's cousin has designs on her fortune and comes to ask Eliza to marry him, an offer that she does not hesitate to turn down. His brooding presence is never far away, and he plays a big part in the final part of the book.

There were many examples of humour running through this book, not least the hairdresser that gave Eliza a makeover who would have given many of today's most flamboyant stylists a run for their money. Eliza's emergence from wallflower to femme fatale was a relatively slow but charming emergence. Before long though, Eliza is attracting all sorts of attention, including offers of marriage from an eminently suitable candidate. Chances are we will see more of Lance Brevard in a future book.

Kit is perfect hero material - definitely not an alpha hero, but he was funny, handsome and charming. He was also a bit slow in realising how he felt, but it all came good in the end. I did like the very ending.

Oh, and a note about Jeanette! Yes, she was still haughty, but she certainly seems to have calmed down and we saw more of her playful side in this book.

I am glad that this author was recommended as Author of the Month for December, and I will definitely be looking for her next books! The three books in the series have been very consistent in quality and tone. Oh, and once again, the cover of this one is much nicer in real life than it is in the pictures that are available on the net.

Rating 4/5

Finished reading 27 December 2006

So that's how it happened!!

A couple of months ago, I mentioned that all of my library books had mysteriously had all of their due dates extended and I hadn't done it! Same thing happened today, but today I know that it is because I asked the librarian about a book that is on my list that I had never heard of before let alone borrowed, and she very helpfully extended everything, even those books that I couldn't have extended again even if I wanted to! So now, I have a load of books that are due back on 14 February - in fact all of them except for a couple where there are requests on them. Means I might have to rethink my reading order!

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Wife Trap by Tracy Anne Warren

Your presence is requested at a wedding deception.

After orchestrating a scandalous high-society ruse, Lady Jeannette Brantford is banished from her family’s estate in England and sent to live with boring elderly cousins in the Irish countryside. But Jeannette’s exile is surprisingly eventful. En route to her dreaded destination, she encounters Darragh O’Brien, a devilishly handsome architect who transforms Jeannette’s punishment into a delicious whirlwind of wits, words, and undeniable passion.

Although no less than a duke could satisfy a lady of her status, Jeannette is unable to extinguish the burning desire she has for Darragh’s smoldering looks and sizzling kisses. Little does she know, her dashing Irishman is no commoner. He’s the eleventh Earl of Mulholland–and he’s thoroughly enjoying the irresistible game of hard-to-get. But before he reveals his true identity, a little temptation and trickery are in order to teach his fair lady a lesson or two about love.

I mentioned in my review for the first book in this trilogy, The Husband Trap, that Jeanette Brantford was one of the most selfish and horrible female characters that I had read, and that the author would have to do a fantastic job to redeem her in my eyes.

Jeanette was the Incomparable of her year - the one that all the other girls making their debuts wanted to be like, the one that all the men wanted - and quite frankly a shallow girl for whom the only thing that mattered was being popular, even if achieving those aims meant hurting those around her, including her sister.

After being packed off in disgrace, the only possible thing that can make matter worse is to meet a common architect who is completely insensitive of her need to sleep past 10am each morning. What ensues is a war of wills that gets very, very dirty with practical jokes included, and a growing attraction that they cannot seem to fight.

Darragh realises quite early on that he is quite attracted to her, and attempts to tell her who he is, but she is unwilling to listen and so he decides to keep his identity to himself. Darragh is a really good hero - smart, funny and sexy. I would have been happy to read Darragh in any book - very nice indeed, and the grading that I have given this book is marked up as a result. This book once again proves that I can live with a heroine that I have issues with as long as the hero is really, really good! The only issue I have is that I am not sure that teaching someone a lesson is really a great foundation for a relationship!

Jeanette...well...I guess the author came close to redeeming her, but it wasn't a total redemption. From being a completely unlikeable character in The Husband Trap, Jeanette for me got to the point of being bearable. She will always be attracted to society and all that means, but she is also beginning to realise that maybe a bit of balance won't go astray. A few more years of lessons with Darragh and I am sure that eventually she will get sorted out!!

One interesting thing about Jeanette is her past. It was quite interesting

I commented on the cover of The Husband Trap, and said that it wasn't quite so garish as it looks in all the pictures, and that is true of the green in this cover as well. The green stripes are actually much more muted than they appear to be above!

Rating 4/5

(Finished reading on 26 December)

Darn it!

If I had of looked at the Reading Victoria website earlier I could have gone and listened to Kerry Greenwood talk about the Phryne Fisher books last night!

Oh well...

20 Novels Set Close to Home

The State Library of Victoria have a program going at the moment called Reading Victoria: 20 Novels Set Close to Home.

Reading Victoria is a summer reading program that will take you on a journey around the state. We have selected 20 contemporary and classic novels set in Victoria for you to read, discuss and enjoy this summer.

20 Novels about Victoria
A sense of place is one of the most important elements in many works of fiction, and Victoria has inspired great stories over the years. Interesting places in the state have been written about in some of our most loved books, many of which are on the 20 novels set close to home list.

It's an interesting list of books - many of them are books I had never heard of before, so I have added more books to my ever growing TBR list! As a bonus, if I ever get to reading any of them then I will at least be meeting my "read more Australian authors" reading resolution!

The twenty books chosen are:

Shadowboxing by Tony Birch - never heard of it.

Monkey Grip by Helen Garner - I have read another book by Helen Garner, called Joe Cinque's Consolation, which was quite an interesting look at a real life murder of a young man by his girlfriend.

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey - probably should have read Peter Carey by now, but I haven't! Just call me a bad Australian...I don't like Vegemite either!

Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood - read this not too long ago!

The Art of the Engine Driver by Steven Carroll - never heard of it!

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham - haven't heard of this one before either!

The Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel Richardson - now this is supposed to be something of an Australian classic. I was supposed to read it with an online club a couple of years ago, but I was a bit unwise and didn't do so! Get it...unwise...oh, never mind!

My Brother Jack by George Johnston - I remember watching the mini series that was made of this book years ago and loving it, but never read the book!

Power Without Glory by Frank Hardy - apparently this bloke is an important Australian literary figure...apparently!

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsey - now this is an Australian classic, and a very good book. Also made into a very creepy movie. Hanging Rock isn't actually all that far away from where I live. One of these days I will go and visit it.

Of a Boy by Sonya Hartnett - I haven't read this book, but I did read Thursdays Child and thought that it was a very good read.

Stiff by Shane Maloney - I had heard of this book at least!

Sunnyside by Joanna Murray-Smith - another one I had never heard of before.

The Broken Shore by Peter Temple - or this one!

Three Dollars by Elliot Perlman - or this.

Everyman's Rules for Scientific Thinking by Carrie Tiffany - this book was nominated for the 2006 Miles Franklin Award, which is one of the more prestigious Australian literary prizes. It was up in competition against The Secret River by Kate Grenville and the eventual winner, The Ballad of Desmond Kale by Roger McDonald.

On the Beach by Nevil Shute - I have read A Town Like Alice by this author.

Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas - another one that I had never heard of before.

Players by Tony Wilson - and again

Cafe Scheherazade by Arnold Zable - I have vague recollections of hearing of this author before.

Dance of the Gods by Nora Roberts

As the circle of six prepares for its final clash with the dark army of the vampire Lilith, the battleground shifts. In Ireland, a stone circle serves as the portal to another land and an ancient time. To complete preparations and round up forces to fight, the circle travels through time to Larkin's world, where Blair Murphy must choose between battling her overwhelming attraction to him - or risking everything for a love that can never be.

It's interesting to me how you can read a book, finish it and grade it, but then later think "why did I give it that grade". For me, this is one of those books. I finished reading it on Christmas Day, and graded it as 4 out of 5, which is a pretty good grade really. And that is fair enough because it was a pretty good read. Can you hear the but coming??

But here's the thing - the events of this book are completely fuzzy in my mind after less than three weeks, which normally doesn't happen. If I apply myself I can remember what happened but it does take a little bit of effort on my part. So if I was going to be grading this book now, I would probably rate it about a 3.5 as opposed to a 4.

To start with the romance - whilst it was obvious that the romance was coming the onset of the relationship between Blair and Larkin seemed really, really quick to me. There didn't seem to be enough build up between the two of them. I did enjoy some of the humour, like Larkin's addiction to Coke....know that feeling well!!

As individuals I didn't really empathise with Blair's daddy issues, so found her a little difficult to understand. Loved Larkin though. The idea of him being able to shape shift at will into creatures like dragons was very cool.

I thought that some of the ideas that were presented in respect of the enemy Lilith were quite interesting, and I am keen to see where some of them lead.

I did enjoy the tension that is building up between Cian and Moira. After all this time I am number 3 on the hold list at the library for Valley of Silence, and I am looking to see how this series gets resolved.

Overall, this was an entertaining enough read, with a good lead in to the third and final book in the trilogy, but it hasn't left a terribly strong lasting impression.

Rating 4/5

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Fforde ffans?

I just found out today that the next Thursday Next book that is due to be released in July has undergone a title change. Instead of War of the Words it is going to be called First Amongst Sequels.

I cannot wait for it to come out....whatever it is called!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis

Rome, AD 70. The city melts under a scorching August sun. For Marcus Didius Falco, hard-bitten private investigator the summer holds few prospects other than spying on the faithless wives of the Empire's senators - and his broom-wielding mother sweeping out the latest rope dancer with the dust from his seedy sixth floor aparetment.

One day in the Forum, Falco comes across the very young, and very beautiful, Sosia Camillina. Saving her from the unwelcome attention of two jelly-brained thugs with kidnapping in mind, the chance encounter seems to open new horizons. But Rome is going through a critical and turbulent period. And somehow working on Sosia's behalf proves to be less straightforward that Falco could possibly guess. The appearance of a stolen silver pig (a silver-bearing ingot of lead) leads Falco to a plot to overthrow the new Emperor, Vespasian. Not that Falco cares over much for those who run the state, but th eprospects of Sosia and incoming funds proves irresistible.

Then a murder which dents even Falco's well-worn cynicism makes discovery of the conspirators his only reason to live - even if it does mean the dismal prospects of a country he had hoped to never see again.
Britain in winter, the Mendips lead mines. Disguised as a slave, Falco is treated with harsh contempt and cruelty, putting his life in danger as he discovers how, and by whom, the ingots are smuggled. Add to that the firy pride of Helena Justina, the disdainful daughter of Sosia's senator uncle, and Falco's hardships double.

The discoveries Falco makes in this bleak land draw him inexorably into the heart of treachery and conspiracy at the highest levels. His return to Rome leads him further into the labyrinth of political greed - and love.

Written with the same dry humour as an American gumshoe novel and with an unerring eye for historical detail, The Silver Pigs introduces a serial hero in Marcus Didius Falco who could be Ancient Rome's answer to Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade.

And you thought that those books that I have listed for the From the Stacks challenge were just there to look pretty. Nope. It really IS my intention to read them.

Having said that, I am going to cheat big time and link to Rosario's review of this book. It is soooo darn hot here I can't think, and it is going to stay this way for at least another day. No sleep here tonight unfortunately!

I will say that one of the criticisms that I have heard from a couple of people about this series in general is that the main characters sounds too much like a modern American gumshoe detective, and he does, but that is completely part of the charm for me! He's so self deprecating and funny that you can't help but fall a bit in love with Marcus Didius Falco!

My rating: 4/5

This is a true story....

It happened to a friend of a friend of mine.

Well, actually it didn't! It happened to a work colleague earlier this week and it still makes me laugh just thinking about it.

On Monday, my colleague (we'll call her Poppy for want of a better name) came into work and was very proudly showing us her new shoes. They were very nice - quite high but with a wedge heel type thing (I am so not a shoe person, but you'll get the idea!).

Just after lunch she said, "look at that my shoe's sole is coming off of the heel already and these are practically new shoes."

She was not happy. So she trots off to the convenience store and comes back with not one tube, but 8 tubes of super glue, and proceeds to take her shoe off, and glue the sole back on.

No problem with this whatsoever until about 5 minutes later when she frantically starts waving me over to her desk and tells me that she has accidentally stuck herself to the carpet!!

She had glued the sole back on the shoe and then put her foot down on the floor to help it bond. It had bonded alright....straight onto the carpet!! We were laughing so hard as we tried to pull the shoe up off the floor.

Of course, when she got home her husband told her that after all that she hadn't fixed the sole properly anyway, so he was going to have to do it again!! Funny thing is, she lives about a five minute walk away from work, so she could have just gone home and changed her shoes. We wouldn't even have really noticed she was missing before she got back again!!

Poppy is such great value!!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Note to self

Never try to write a post when you are so tired that you are just about falling asleep! It never works!!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

With her New York Times bestseller Spell of the Highlander, Karen Marie Moning brought a world of ancient magic and timeless love to life. Now, Moning embarks on a fantastic new series about a woman drawn into a seductive other-worldly realm-only to be caught up in a universe-altering battle. A sizzling spin-off from the popular "Highlander" series, Darkfever is filled with captivating characters, paranormal elements, and unparalleled sensuality and heat.

Darkfever opens approximately three and a half years after Spell of the Highlander ends. MacKayla O'Connor's life is good. Or so she thinks until something extraordinary happens... When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death - a cryptic message on Mac's cell phone - Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister's killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She soon is faced with an even greater challenge - staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed - a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae. As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister's death, the ruthless Vlane - an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women - closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac's true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book... because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands.

This is going to be a very short post because I finished this book on 20 December and as I sit here trying to think what to write I realise that it hasn't really left a lasting impression on me. I guess I enjoyed it well enough, but I wonder if there possibly wasn't too much world defining in the form of info dump through out the book for me to really enjoy the story - even if there was quite a lot of action throughout the book.

There were some interesting ideas in the book with all the different types of fae who have all different ways of behaving and appearing - with some of the ways to die seeming truly horrific!

What there isn't in this book is romance, and whilst the author has been quite open about this I suspect that there might be some people who are somewhat disappointed by this.

Overall, this was a solid start to a series that I am still interested in reading but I am glad that I borrowed this book from the library and that I didn't spend my hard earned cash on it.

Rating 3.5/5

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sizzle by Jennifer Cruse

Emily Tate is something of a marketing whizz kid, with her last campaign being wildly successful. One thing she is not good at is keeping to her budgets and so the company brings in Richard Parker whose job it will be to keep tight reins on the money side of things. Of course Emily and Richard clash immediately, but it isn't long before their attraction to each other can't be denied, and something will definitely begin to sizzle!

Whilst Jennifer Crusie doesn't deny that this book is in existence, she doesn't exactly proudly claim it as the following quote for the FAQ page of her website shows when asked if there will be reprints of some of her older books:

DO NOT ASK FOR A SIZZLE REPRINT. That damn book is following me around the way early porn films follow actresses.

Whilst I can see where she is coming from, because there are definitely some major flaws in the book (or more precisely novella given that it is less than 100 pages long), I am glad that I tracked it down. The heroine is smart, attractive and funny, a Jennifer Crusie prototype for some of her later heroines if you like.

One of the major problems in the book is that Richard is never given his voice - the whole story is told from Emily's point of view and therefore Richard comes across as somewhat two dimension, or almost like a characiture of a hero in some ways. He was also a bit of a one joke heroine - that being that he never seems to really listen to Emily's point of view. Having said that the picture I have in my mind is of a really sexy he wasn't a complete failure character wise.

One of the differences between this book and many of her others is that this one is a whole lot hotter and sexier. The sex in this one was a lot more explicit than I remember many of the others I have read being, although that could be a case of selective memory in my case. There are a couple of desk scenes in particular that are very steamy!

I am not sure that I completely like the idea of a perfume that heats up on your skin either, which is where the title of the story comes from, but overall it was a fun, very short read, that is worth going to the trouble of tracking down if you are a fan. I'm glad I didn't pay 20 or 30 dollars for it though!!

Oh, and just in case you think that I have lost the plot completely, I am aware that I have put a picture of the cover for Anyone But You in this post, but there is a reason I promise you! A while ago Harlequin Australia rereleased Anyone But You with this horrible green cover, but they also included Sizzle in with the book. There is however no mention of this on the front cover, so if you are looking for Sizzle and see this horrible cover on Ebay and it's going for cheap it might be worth getting hold of it just to read Sizzle. That's what I did and it definitely wasn't a waste of the $5 it cost me! Who knows, one of these days I might even reread Anyone But You now that I own it!!

Rating 3.5/5

The Husband Trap by Tracy Ann Warren

Here comes the substitute bride. . . .

Violet Brantford has always longed for the passionate embrace of Adrian Winter, the wealthy Duke of Raeburn. Problem is, he's set to marry Violet's vivacious, more socially polished look-alike twin sister, Jeannette. But when Jeannette refuses to go through with the ceremony mere minutes before it is to begin, soft-spoken Violet finds herself walking down the aisle and taking vows in her sister's place. Soon shy Violet is a high-society wife, trying to keep her real identity a secret while living out the fantasies of her wildest dreams.

Adrian thinks he knows exactly what he's gotten himself into: Jeannette may be flighty and, well, a bit self-involved, but she's the picture-perfect wife to carry on the Winter name. Yet this marriage of convenience brings the groom more than he bargained for when he finds his sweet, innocent wife surprising him at every turn. And though he never planned on true love, Adrian is definitely in danger of losing his heart.

Tracy Anne Warren was chosen as the Author of the Month for December over in the Historical Romance Chat group on Yahoo, and for once I managed to read the book in the month that I was meant to, having finished this book on 19 December! I have to admit that this wasn't an author name that I had never really taken much notice of before - I won't say that I had never heard of her before, but I certainly couldn't remember reading much about her or her books.

Normally I am pretty strict on myself in terms of what I will or won't buy as opposed to borrowing from the library, but I was out at the shops one day and wanted to have something to read while I ate my lunch, and for some reason I didn't have a book in my bag so I went in and bought this one. After reading this one I very quickly ordered the next two in the series!

This books starts out at the wedding of Adrian Winter to Jeanette Rose Brantford, or at least that is who he thinks he married at least! In reality he has married Janette Violet Brantford, called Violet by everyone who knows her, and Jeanette's twin sister. Violet has been in love with Adrian for as long as she can remember and therefore agrees to swapping with Jeanette. Luckily she only has to remove her glasses to be almost identical to her sister.

With the wedding out of the way, Jeanette (masquerading as Violet) is packed off to Italy as a companion to her aunt, and has to behave like Violet, whilst Adrian and Violet go off on their honeymoon, and start to get to know each other. Adrian is somewhat surprised by the almost complete change of personality his bride has had but he attributes it to the fact that she is putting on a performance when in society to be ultimate society Miss, and that this is her real personality - in a way I guess he wasn't too far off.

In the end it is Adrian's brother Kit who sees through the facade and realises that things are not quite as they seem. Adrian realises soon enough that there is something amiss and it is only a matter of time before the truth comes out.

Violet was an extremely likable character - she has been the quiet, bookish younger sister of ultra popular Jeanette, but as she grows more confidence she shows herself to be intelligent, witty and poised and more than good enough to be Adrian's duchess. The only thing about Violet is the ease with which her sister can manipulate her into doing things that she doesn't want to do. There is one too many episodes of swapping places within the book for my liking!

As for Jeanette, she is one of the most selfish and manipulative characters I have read in a long time. She is the heroine of the second book in the trilogy, and to say that the author will have had to work hard to redeem her is probably an understatement. At one point after Adrian and Violet have been happily married for months, Jeanette decides that she actually does want to be married to Adrian and tries to swap places back again - what a bitch!!

Adrian was a good hero, if not exceptional. It took him a while to actually catch on to what was happening around him, and having fallen exceptionally hard for his lovely new while, it took him a long time to come to his senses, but overall he was a very drool worthy hero! As for his younger brother Kit, having already finished the third book in the trilogy I can tell you that he pretty much fulfils the promise shown in this book!

Just a comment on the cover - all of the cover pictures I could find, including the one above show the book with almost candy pink stripes - in reality the pink was a lot more subdued, and was almost metallic in finish. Nowhere near as gaudy as the pictures look!

Whilst there probably wasn't anything truly earth shatteringly original in this book, it was a well written historical romance with strong characters and an engaging storyline!

Rating 4/5

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, swindlers and misfits in a second-rate struggling to survive.

A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that Jacob meets Marlena, the beautiful equestrienne who is married to August, a charismatic but violently unpredictable animal trainer. Jacob also meets Rosie, and elephant who seems unmanageable until he discovers an unusual way to reach her.

Water for Elephants is a story that has it all - warmth, humour, poignancy and passion. It has an energy and spirit like the feeling under a big top when the show is about to begin. It is a novel that will win your heart.

Recently, in one of the groups I am in, we have been having a discussion about the nature of reviewing, and a comment was made that it is much easier to write reviews for books that you either loved or hated, as opposed to those kind of books where your reaction was just somewhat meh! In theory, I agree...but that doesn't explain why I had so much trouble getting motivated to write the review for this book that I finished on 18 December and absolutely loved!

Whilst this book is the story as explained in the blurb above, it is also something much more than that as well. It is a book that explores the dark side of circus life in the late 1920's, when money was tight all round, and a solution to having too many circus staff could well be to have some of them disappear off of a moving train in the middle of the night. From egotistical circus masters who wants to be Ringling, to delicate horse riders, maniacal animal trainers to dwarfs and fat ladies, the cast of characters is interesting and varied. Whilst the glamour of the circus is portrayed, it isn't over the top, and the reality of a tough life spent travelling from one town to the next, not knowing if you were going to be run out of town or not, is not backed away from at all.

Another aspect of the story is about the experience of getting old. When we meet Jacob he is an old man who lives in a nursing home, and the book relates his experiences of losing his independence and his dignity. The arrival of a modern circus near the nursing home triggers memories for Jacob of his arrival into the circus, and the subsequent events. At first he seems disinterested in the circus, but in the end he decides that he does want to go, and then scenes as he waits anxiously for his family to arrive so he doesn't miss the opening act are quite heart wrenching.

From another point of view this is also a love story - between humans, and between humans and animals. The interactions between the animals and humans provide many of the funniest and many of the more gruesome incidents in the book, from the elephant who appears not to understand any commands to the little performing dog that is strongly connected to his owner trainer.

This book is richly layered and complex story that is held together by strong characters and fascinating history. In the author's note, she tells that some of the stories that may have seemed a little outlandish were in fact based on events that really happened. Just thinking about it is almost enough to prompt me to go and see whether there are any circuses in town. An extremely enjoyable read.

There really was only one small thing that prevented me from giving this book the perfect 5/5 score, and that was the ending, which seemed completely improbable. Then again, I'm not really sure how else the book could really have ended without having Jacob die or the book just fizzle to the end!

Rating 4.5/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Random Field Notes
3R's: Reading, 'Riting and Randomness
So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Maw Books
The Inside Cover
Some Reads
Passion for the Page
An Adventure in Reading
Blue Stocking Society
So Many Books, So Little Time
Subliminal Intervention

Slave to series!

One of the recent release books that I want to buy as opposed to get from the library is the School for Heiresses anthology that features novellas by Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, Julia London and Renee Bernard, but I do have a bit of a dilemma, and it is one that will come up more and more I think as I read more and more series.

The stories in the anthology are part of series (actually I don't know about the Renee Barnard one, but the others are). The Sabrina Jeffries follows on from the two books in her current School for Heiresses series, which I haven't read. I have only read one of her books and have another one out from the library at the moment, but they are part of the Royal Brotherhood series not her current series.

Next up, the Liz Carlyle is like an introduction to her upcoming trilogy so there is no issue about reading that.

With the Julia London, her novella features characters that are introduced in The Hazards of Hunting a Duke, which I own but haven't read yet.

So my dilemma is how to read this anthology without buggering up reading the series - if I only read the two stories that aren't part of series how do I count that on my reading stats, and can I cope with only reading half a book now and then another bit later, and then another bit later than that!

What?..............................Anal you say? Well, they're important issues to me!!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Holiday in Death by J D Robb

No one likes to be alone during the holidays. For New York's most posh dating service, Personally Yours, it is the season to bring lonely hearts together. But Lt. Eve Dallas, on the trail of a ritualistic serial killer, has made a disturbing discovery: all of the victims have been traced to Personally Yours. Eve soon enters an elite world of people searching for their one true love - and one killer searching for his next victim. A world where the power of love leads men and women into the ultimate act of betrayal...

Kailana and I are continuing our series of joint reviews for the In Death books. My comments are in black and Kailana's are in blue. I actually finished this book on 10 December.

The next instalment in the In Death series after Vengeance in Death finds Eve just returning to work after recovering from injuries sustained in the line of duty just in time for the holidays. The thing preying on her mind most though is what to get all of her friends for Christmas, especially Roarke in their first Christmas together. It is rather funny, every time she runs into people she knows, she has to ask them if she should buy them a Christmas present. Christmas is a new thing for her, she has never had people to buy for before, so it is an experience reading her thoughts on the holiday gift giving

Before she can even think about that, she has to deal with a serial killer who has decided to visit his victim dressed up as Santa Claus and who is planning to make each of his victims have some connection to the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. This means that before he is done, there will be twelve victims, one for each day of the song. The killer leaves behind his trademark on each victim, a holiday ornament pertaining to the days of Christmas.

Soon the connection between the victims becomes clear - they have all been clients of an exclusive dating agency. Now it is a case of trying to infiltrate the agency and work out who the perpetrator might be as well as who his next victim will be - even if that means putting one of their own on the line. This book has Peabody's first undercover mission, which is interesting to watch. She does not appear to do blind dates very often, because she leaves one guy out of the running for quite some time. Have to read the book to see exactly what happened, though, of course.

I really enjoyed the way that the author managed to infuse some humour into this book. The scenes where Eve had banned Peabody from going shopping and yet kept on finding things to buy for herself were laugh out loud funny. It certainly helped balance out what could have been a very dark book indeed. This book did have more humour than the others, and I also enjoyed reading it. Robb seems to be adding more comical characters at this point in the series, anyways, which is making for interesting reading.

For me, this was the best book in the series so far. Same here! I really enjoyed this installment. I think that Robb has gotten more confident in the series at this point. I also read the other holiday story, Midnight in Death, which carries on the interest. I think I will enjoy the series even more if all the future ones are like this one.

Marg's Rating 4.5/5
Kailana's Rating 4/5

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

And have you ever wondered...... one person can have such incongruous thought patterns in one night!

From erotic romances to Bible smuggling.

Not my most normal night of blogging! LOL!!

Do you ever wonder... people who grew up in a very similar environment to you end up in a completely different life situation?

I grew up in a relatively conservative Christian environment...wait, that's not exactly true...I spent a lot of time involved with church activities including leadership. Home was a different matter, and now I work for a church but I don't go to church and I certainly don't live that lifestyle at all.

Anyway, my point is - here I am in my average, average life when there are others who come from a similar background to me who are busy smuggling Bibles into China! The contrast is immense!

Maybe it is just the time of year, or the fact that it is nearly 1.30 in the morning and I have to get up and go to work in just over 4 and a half hours, but this is what I have been thinking about for the last couple of hours or so.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Free Erotic Romance E Book

One sub-genre of romance that I haven't got into all that much is erotic romance - I don't think I have ever read any. Another thing that I don't often do is e-books. Always willing to try new things, I think I am going to take advantage of the free e-book of erotic romance that is available from here. I figure it is also a good way to try 10 completely new to me authors as well.

Night Embrace by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Dear Reader,

Life is great for me. I have my chicory coffee, my warm beignets, and my best friend on the cell phone. Once the sun goes down, I am the baddest thing prowling the night: I command the elements, and I know no fear. For centuries, I've protected the innocent and watched over the mankind, making sure they are safe in a world where nothing is ever certain. All I want in return is a hot babe in a red dress, who wants nothing more from me then one night.

Instead, I get a runaway Mardi Gras float that tries to turn me into roadkill and a beautiful woman who saves my life but can't remember where she put my pants. Flamboyant and extravagant, Sunshine Runningwolf should be the perfect woman for me. She wants nothing past tonight, no ties, no long-term commitments.

But every time I look at her, I start yearning for dreams that I buried centuries ago. With her unconventional ways and ability to baffle me, Sunshine is the one person I find myself needing. But for me to love her would mean her death. I am cursed never to know peace or happiness-not so long as my enemy waits in the night to destroy us both.

--Talon of the Morrigantes

Mmmmm...Talon. Kenyon does such a great job of creating drool worthy heroes, whether they be blonde or dark. (Big sigh)...just taking a moment there! One thing that is interesting to me is that most of the heroes so far in this series have a past where theyhave been in love or married. Yes, that happiness has probably been taken away in tragic circumstances, but they have known that happiness once.

As for her heroines, well Sunshine Runningwolf is another heroine of hers that I just want to slap. She's not the first, not only in this series, but also in the Brotherhood series written under the name of Kinley MacGregor, but her ditziness was a little too overwhelming for me. I was a little surprised at the little twist at the end in relation to Sunshine's family heritage, but I guess it keeps the rest of the Runningwolfs in the series for a bit longer as well!

I love the way that the Dark Hunter world is building up with each book including the cameo appearances from heroes from the earlier books, and the introduction of more and more prospective heroes! Looking forward to reading more!

Rating 4/5 (Finished on 16 December 2006)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Library crazy

Haven't done one of these posts for a while, so thought 1 January is as good a day as any to post my list of what I have out from the library or on request from the library at the moment.

The books I currently have out are:

The Twylight Tower by Karen Harper
Zipporah by Marek Halter
The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes
Children of Destiny by Elizabeth Chadwick
In My Heart by Melody Thomas
Princess by Gaelen Foley
Taking Liberties by Diana Norman
Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen
Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong
The Keep by Jennifer Egan
The Ballad of Desmond Kale by Roger Macdonald
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Hippopotamus Pool by Elizabeth Peters
Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine
Shadowbrook by Beverly Swerling
Prince of Dreams by Lisa Kleypas
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
Dreaming the Eagle by Manda Scott
Truth or Dare by Jayne Ann Krentz
Something Blue by Emily Giffin
To Pleasure A Prince by Sabrina Jeffries
Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund
Dreams Made Flesh by Anne Bishop
Bite - Anthology
Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith
When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn
Magic Study by Maria V Snyder
Silent Night - Anthology
Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
The Course of Honour by Lindsey Davis
A Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley

I have the following books on request:

My Seduction by Connie Brockway (ready to pick up)
The Family Frying Pan by Bryce Courtenay
The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris (strangely enough they have this book in the system but not Grave Sight which is the first book in the series)
The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urre
Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes
The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B by Sandra Gulland
Midnight Pleasures - anthology
Rebel Angel by Libba Bray
The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick
Simply Magic by Mary Balogh
Sugar Camp Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
Sylvia by Bryce Courtenay
Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
Valley of Silence by Nora Roberts

I also have an ILL request in for Shadows in Bronze by Lindsey Davis.
There should be enough there to keep me going really shouldn't there!

Reading resolutions for 2007

I have given a little thought to my reading resolutions for this year, but I am afraid a couple of them are going to be a little vague. I am hoping to tighten up on them during the year.

For 2007 my reading resolutions are:

Read 200 books - this is actually less than I read last year, but there is a reason for this! I am hopeful that sometime this year I am going to be able to change my job and actually be based much closer to home. If that happens then I will lose my 2 and a half to 3 hours of reading time every day so 200 will be a real stretch without that.

Read 15 books that I already own as at 1 January 2007 - Last year, I borrowed a lot of books from the library - most of what I read in fact. Given that I have 136 books that I own at the moment that I haven't read, I figure I will be doing well if I can read just over 10% of them.

Read Dorothy Dunnett - every time I see a post from someone that is reviewing a book by Dorothy Dunnett, I post a comment saying something along the lines of "I really want to read her". This year I am going to. In order to kick start this I have just requested The Game of Kings from the library.

Read more Australian Authors - Unless there are some authors that I didn't know are Aussies, I only read 5 books by Australian Authors in 2006. Pathetic - must do better. If I can double that number then I will be happy.

Shortlists - it is my intention to read the shortlists for the Booker and either the Orange Prize or the Pullitzer Prize.

Blogging - try not to get so far behind on reviews, or to put pressure on myself when I do get behind!

Looking at it all written down like that I am a bit concerned that I haven't left myself a lot of room for reading for fun, but we will see how we go!

2006 Year in Review

My goals at the beginning of this year were to:

Read 200 books

Of those 200 at least 25 books needed to be books that I already owned

Maintain my blog

and to read across a variety of
genres. did I do? Well, I ended up reading 226 books in the year, so I exceeded this target quite easily. In 2005 I read 168 books so that is quite a jump for me.

I didn't do so well on the second challenge - I ended up reading only 10 books that I already owned as at 1 January 2006.

I think I did okay at maintaining my blog, although as you may have already noted me saying...I am a bit behind in my reviews at the moment!!!

As for reading across a variety of genres, I actually think that my reading habits changed quite significantly over the last 6 months in particular. In June I picked up the first book in the Sookie Stackhouse series of books, and since then I have been reading vampire and other paranormal stories quite a lot - really surprising to me. I have also read a lot more fantasy this year than I would ever have thought I would read! I think 86 new authors in a year is a pretty good effort.

There were only five books that I marked as 5/5 reads. There were certainly lots more that were 4.5/5 reads, and some that stick in the mind even though they may have been graded as less than that. The five books with top marks were:

Donnelly, Jennifer - The Winter Rose. This was the sequel to The Tea Rose, and was a much better book in my opinion.

Setterfield, Diane - The Thirteenth Tale - Moody and gothic, improbable but still an engrossing read.

Snyder, Maria V - Poison Study - It was a complete surprise to me how much I enjoyed this book!

Bishop, Anne - Queen of the Darkness. It took me just about all of the first book in this series to understand the world, but once I was there I was completely hooked. This is one example of a book that I wouldn't have read if I hadn't of seen positive reviews of it out in blogland.

Keyes, Marian - Anybody Out There? - This was the last book I read for the year and I thought it was so good!! Haven't got around to writing a review, and may in the end not write a complete one, but seriously, this is an excellent, excellent book! I am so glad that I finally read all of the Walsh sisters books, and I can't wait for the last of them.

I'll be back with a more in depth analysis of my reads in the next couple of days! Can't wait can you??


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