Saturday, March 31, 2007

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as romance heroes?

Or.....the kind of things that show the way my brain works when it isn't fully occupied!

I took my son and his friend to the drive in tonight....yes, we still have drive ins here, although not many! My son and I enjoy going, although now that we have moved from being about 10 minutes away from it, we don't go as often as we used to, despite the fact that it is much cheaper than going to the cinemas! Anyway, tonight I had the good fortune of kind of seeing TMNT - the current incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! What a load of rubbish!! Fortunately, I don't think that I am really the target demographic for this movie...the 8 year olds loved it.

I have to admit though that I did go prepared not to really like it. I took my MP3 player with me, tuned it into the footy (yay...footy's back!) and was listening to that, but I could both hear and see TMNT. I tried to close my eyes for at least some of it, but it is hard when you are not tired to keep your eyes closed in the face of two lots of loud noise!

Anyway, a sign of how uninspired I was by this movie is the fact that I had sufficient time to analyse how the current version of TMNT has characterised the turtles in such a way as to echo some of the romantic stereotypes for heroes. And then I even came home and thought about it some more.....why? I don't know! So's my take:

Leonardo - started the movie in a jungle deep in South America tormented and tortured by the fact that he had failed his brothers = classic tortured hero

Michelangelo - doing kids parties, and generally having a good time = classic nice guy hero

Donatello - electronics specialist/computer geek = classic geek/nerdy hero

Raphael - starts the movie disguised as a lone crusader for justice, trying to ensure the safety of the world without letting anyone know who he really was - dressed in lots of black leather and armour = classic bad guy with a heart of gold!

Too much time to think! Absolutely! Then again, I went to the official website page for this movie, thinking that I would get a picture of each of them to put up - just for fun- only to find that each of the turtles have their own Myspace page! Maybe I am not the only person around with too much thinking time!

Warning - Jasper Fforde Ffangirl behaviour!

I noticed when I was on Amazon UK tonight that the new Thursday Next cover and blurb is now up for the UK version. This is the version that we will most likely get! Can I just say.....I cannot wait to get this!!! It doesn't come out until July though.

Fourteen years after Thursday Next pegged out at Superhoop '88, her Jurisfiction job has been downgraded due to a potential conflict of interest, since her previous adventures are now themselves in print. Thursday's time is spent worrying about her teenage son Friday and tutoring new recruits. This being fiction, however, jeopardy is never far away. Sherlock Holmes is killed at the Rheinbach falls and his series is stopped in its tracks. Before this can be righted, Miss Marple dies in a narratively inexplicable car accident, bringing her series also to a close. Thursday, receiving a death-threat clearly intended for her written self, realises what is going on - there is a serial killer is loose in the Bookworld. Meanwhile, Goliath have perfected a 22-seater Prose Portal Luxury Coach, and plan on taking literary tourists on a holiday to the works of Jane Austen. Thursday alone realises the true intent of Goliath's unwanted incursions into fiction, but she can't fight all these battles on her own. She must team up with the one person she really can't get along with - the written Thursday Next, currently starring in The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco. But it's no time to be picky...

Reading that blurb makes me want it NOW! Good thing it is already on request at the library and I am no. 1 in the queue!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

History takes flight....Naomi Novik's deliciously addictive Black Powder War skilfully layers the history of the Napoleonic War with breathtaking imagination.

After their adventure in China, Capt. Will Laurence of His Majesty's Aerial Corps and his extraordinary flying dragon, Temeraire, gratefully anticipate their voyage home..

But before they set sail, they are waylaid by urgent new orders. The British Government, having purchased three valuable dragon eggs from the Ottoman Empire, now require Laurence and Temeraire to make a more perilous over-land journey instead, stopping off in Istanbul to collect and escort the precious cargo back to England - and time is of the essence if the eggs are to arrive before they hatch.

A cross-continent expedition is a daunting prospect, fraught with countless dangers. The small party must be prepared to navigate frigid mountain passes and cross sterile deserts to evade feral dragons and Napoleon's aggressive infantry. And they will also have to endure an unexpected menace, for a Machiavellian herald precedes them, spreading political poison in her wake.

Lien, the white celestial dragon, absconded from the Chinese Imperial Court shortly after the humiliating death of her beloved princely companion. Fervently believing Temeraire to be the architect of her anguish, she has vowed to ally herself with his greatest enemy in order to exact a full and painful revenge upon everything and everyone the black dragon holds dear.

This is the third book in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, following on from Throne of Jade and on the whole it is a pretty good read.

In some way it felt like a book of two parts as opposed to one whole book. The book follows on from the closing events in the previous book, with Laurence, Temeraire and the rest of the crew waiting for the opportunity to start the long journey home to England. After a disastrous fire on board their ship, Laurence receives orders to make his way to Istanbul to pick up two eggs and make their way to England. It will not however be an easy journey, making their way across China and through to Turkey. Along the way they face hardship and feral dragons amongst other things. Their arrival in Istanbul isn't quite as warm as they may would like, and there are several occasions where the clash of cultures is explored to a degree.

After taking desperate action, the journey towards home continues, but unfortunately this means going through Austria, a land where the Prussians are currently experiencing a fight for their very survival against the might of Napoleon. Laurence and Temeraire soon find themselves forced to take part in the Prussians defence, at great risk of danger and death to themselves and their crews.

With the first half of the book concentrating on the journey from China to Turkey, there was, in my opinion, a stark contrast to the events in the second half, which were very political and more strategically based than we have seen before. It was interesting that Novik took the known facts of the Napoleonic War's 1806 offensives and tweaked them just enough to fit the dragons in, whilst still staying true to the main historical points and outcomes.

If anything, I would say that there was a little less humour in this book, although the addition of a new dragon named Iskierka (a very feisty young lady indeed!), there were still plenty of humourous moments to be had in amongst the darker parts of this book. I was, however, relieved to see that there was less evidence of Laurence referring to Temeraire as "darling" in this book. Not that it didn't happen, but just not as regularly and annoyingly as I found this term of endearment in the previous books. Lien once again provides a looming dark presence within the story, and the alliance that she forms, and her subsequent actions were interesting of themselves.

I would say though, that it does appear as though Novik has backed away from some of the themes that she started to introduce regarding the rights of dragons. I will wait to see whether or not this is a theme that she picks up and follows through with in the next book or not.

The fourth book in the series is out in September, and is to be called Empire of Ivory. Can't wait to get to read it!

Rating: 4/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Finding Wonderland

Library with no books

Danielle posted about an article that appeared in one of the Australian newspapers in the last couple of days, about a new school that is opening with no books in the library.

I used to live in the area where this school is and I can tell you that I wouldn't have been best pleased if my child had gone to a school with no library books. Yes, I understand that most of the information that children require is available on the net, but to have no books at all seems completely unbelievable to me! Or maybe, just maybe, it is the way of the future. What do you think?

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Lover Revealed by J R Ward

Butch O'Neal is a fighter by nature. A hard living, ex-homicide cop, he's the only human ever to be allowed in the inner circle of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And he wants to go even deeper into the vampire world to engage in the turf war with the lessers. He's got nothing to lose. His heart belongs to a female vampire, Marissa, an aristocratic beauty who's way out of his league. If he can't have her, then at least he can fight side by side with the Brothers...

When Butch sacrifices himself to save a civilian vampire from the slayers, he falls prey to the darkest force in the war. Left for dead but found by a miracle, the Brotherhood calls on Marissa to bring him back, though even her love may not be enough to save him.

Never let it said that I don't come late to the party! Weeks after everyone else has done their reviews I am finally ready to do mine! There are a couple of factors as to why I am so late. The first is that my book took a week more to get to me than it did to everyone else (or at least that is the way it felt!) and then it took me just under a week to actually pick it up. Then when I did pick it up, I did so on a night when I was really exhausted, and had gone to bed at 8.30pm. I thought that I might just read a couple of know...just a few pages. At 1am I put the book down having read 400 pages, and then I finished it the next morning on the train!

Enough on the preliminaries! I will start by saying that I wasn't really a Butch fan before I read this book, and whilst he was fine in this book, there is no way that this book surpasses Lover Awakened for me. The highlights in this book for me were to see what is going to happen with Vishous, to see the development in John Mathew's story, and to see the continued development of Zsadist! So those were the highlights, but I did think Butch was okay. It was interesting considering the bond between Butch and V how they ended up being vital to each other in the bigger scheme of things.

For once, I do think that we saw some development in the female characters, prompted by Marisa. I was particularly glad to see this for her because otherwise her role would have been limited to shallow high society woman, and I love the idea of the women sticking together.

Butch and Marisa seemed to fall in love very hard and very fast, but their chemistry was pretty good. The fact that Butch is human and Marisa not was resolved in a pretty obvious way, although the events that happened to him earlier in the book made me wonder how the author was going to manage to resolve the issues, but she did it well in the end!

I have to say that I didn't notice the language as much this time round as I have in other books in this series, but the proliferation of label names, even in one of the love scenes, seemed to be more full on this time around.

Once again, this was a really hard to put down book, as they all have been, and the story arc that is going throughout the series was definitely developed more this time round. it too early to start counting down to Vishous' book? The excerpt and all the little titbits that have been said whilst JR Ward has been guest blogging around the place really make me want to read his story NOW!

Rating 4/5

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason

Beneath the glitter of dazzling nineteenth-century London society lurks a bloodthirsty evil...

Vampires have always lived among them, quietly attacking unsuspecting debutantes and dandified lords as well as hackney drivers and Bond Street milliners. If not for the vampire slayers of the Gardella family, these immortal creatures would have long ago taken over the world.

In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy of vampire slaying, and this time, Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the eve of her debut, to carry the stake. But as she moves between the crush of ballrooms and dangerous, moonlit streets, Victoria's heart is torn between London's most eligible bachelor, the Marquess of Rockley, and her enigmatic ally, Sebastian Vioget. And when she comes face to face with the most powerful vampire in history, Victoria must ultimately make the choice between duty and love.

You may remember a few weeks ago I was off work with my sick son. This book was one that I tried to read while I was off work. What I don't understand is why can't I read when I am not working. When other people go on holidays they say things like "I am going to get through so many books" or "I am just going to read and read", but I just can't seem to get through many books at all when I am not going to work. Very strange.

Colleen did such a great job of raising the profile of this book, and in making sure that it was out there, with even non romance readers reading it and enjoying it. I was so excited about getting this book but maybe because I was feeling sick and tired it wasn't really grabbing my attention. I did enjoy many aspects of the story - the colour coordinating stakes that doubled as stakes were particularly ingenious and a lot of fun! I did like the two mysterious men that are part of the storyline. I am sure that we will get to see a lot more of Max and Sebastian.

Interesting that there were multiple hero possibilities but it wasn't really a romance in my opinion, and I think that that was something that the author was very clear about when talking about this book. There were romantic elements but not exactly a HEA, I think partially because this is planned to be a true series and there is therefore a longer story arc...not just books that are connected by recurring characters.

I'm not sure that I can verbalise what exactly it was that didn't work for me during this read. In a way it felt like I was reading the surface of a really good story, but didn't really get the depth that I would like to read normally. Having said that, I will definitely be getting the next book in the series, Rises the Night, when it comes out in June, so I was sufficiently hooked to want to go on with the series!

I guess this is definitely a case of where my mood has definitely put a dampener on a book that I probably would have enjoyed more had I been feeling better.

Rating: 3.5/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Stephanie - Confessions of a Book-a-holic
Bold Blue Adventure
Melody's Reading Corner
Hey Lady, Watcha Reading?
Romance Rookie

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams by Alexander McCall Smith

Dreams to see, find dreams to sell...

Dream Angus comes to you at night and bestows dreams - you may spot him skipping across the hills, his bag of dreams by his side. Just the sight of him may be enough to make you lose your heart , for he is also the god of love, youth and beauty. Divine Angus is adored by all, but fated to love only the beautiful Caer, swan maiden of his own dreams.

Five exquisite fables of modern dreamers unfold alongside Angus's search for Caer. Mesmerically weaving together the fairy tales of the Celtic Eros and his contemporary alter egos, Alexander McCall Smith unites dreams and reality, leaving us to wonder: what is life but the pursuit of our dreams.

This book is part of the Canongate myths series, which is focusing on the retelling of some myths and fables, and features some pretty big names. Some of the books that are part of this series include The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (the story of the Odyssey from Penelope's point of view), Weight by Jeanette Winterson (about Atlas and Hercules), The Helmet of Horror by Victor Pelevin (Theseus and the Minotaur), Lion's Honey by David Grossman (the story of Samson), with more books coming from authors like Donna Tartt and Chinua Achebe. More details can be found here.

Enough about this series, and more on the book! Angus is apparently a big deal in Celtic myths - the god of dreams and love. This story tells the story of Angus' birth to a water nymph who is tricked into making love with a god, and then from his childhood through to his own romantic chase the lovely girl Caer, who is cursed into turning into a swan. Interspersed amongst the stories about Angus, are 5 short stories which feature people whose lives have been touched by Angus in their dreams. Sometimes his influence is subtle, but other times not. The stories themselves are almost fable like - a young lady who falls in love with a man who works in a test laboratory and he refuses to let one of the pigs be killed, a tale of love gone wrong, another of two brothers separated through circumstances.

As I was thinking about what to write about this, I thought that an Alexander McCall Smith, no matter what it is about, is like a glass (or bottle!) of good red wine. It is a smooth read, and it goes down easy, and this book is no exception. It is very short but very well written. I am hoping that I might read more in this series in due course!

Rating: 4/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Valentina's Room
Things Mean a Lot
Rhinoa's Ramblings


Are the books in the In Death romantic suspense, or more mystery? How would you classify them?

I've labeled them as both, but I am thinking that they really are mystery.

Truth or Dare by Jayne Ann Krentz

Zoe is an interior designer with a unique sense of style. But even more uncanny is her sense of what's going on under the surface, the secrets a house can hold.

At the moment, though, Zoe is more concerned about what's going on in her own house in Whispering Springs, Arizona, where she lives with her new husband, private investigator Ethan Truax. Thrown together by murder, they've gambled on commitment after a whirlwind courtship, hoping that their powerful attraction can help them learn to live together despite their opposite personalities.

But newlywed life is suddenly interrupted when a shadowy figure from Zoe's past shows up in Whispering Springs, and her closest friend is put at terrible risk. For Zoe and Arcadia Ames share a shocking secret. And as they seek to protect the truth, they must join together, and with Ethan's help, accept a very dangerous dare...

This is the follow up book to Light in Shadow which I read last year, and to be honest my feelings about this book was pretty the same. I know that there are lots of Jayne Ann Krentz fans out there, but the three books that I have read so far have been kind of underwhelming for me! I am not sure if that is because I am not really a romantic suspense reader, although I have read and enjoyed some RS before.

That doesn't mean to say that I didn't enjoy reading this book, because I did. It just means that I am waiting to be completely blown away by one of her books as so many other people have been. Maybe the next one will be the one to do it for me!

Given that this was a sequel a lot of the threads of storyline did flow onto this book. The main focus was once again the relationship between Zoe and Ethan, a relationship very much still at the beginning despite the fact that they had already gotten married in the previous book. Ethan in particular struggles to try and ascertain whether this is a true marriage or if Zoe is going to leave him because it was convenient to get married at the time! His insecurities were nicely written, not only about that, but also about the death of his brother.

In addition to that storyline, there were also threads featuring Ethan's sister in law Bonnie and the bookstore owner/internet expert Singleton, as well as Zoe's friend Arcadia and Harry. The friendships and relationships angles were well done, but I didn't feel as though the suspense angles were that great in this book.

Overall, a pleasant read...and next time I am actually going to read one of the books that I was told to read in the first place, and see how I go with that!

Rating 3.5/5

Did you hear?

The girls from Dear Author have started a forum for romance readers!

So if you want a place to chat about romance and other stuff, check it out! Not that I need another group to check in all the time....but I've signed up already, along with quite a few others! LOL!

Conspiracy in Death by J D Robb

As with previous In Death books, Kailana from The Written World and I have done a joint review for this book. Kailana's thoughts are in red, and mine in black.

With the precision of a surgeon, a serial killer preys on the most vulnerable souls of the world's city streets. The first victim: a sidewalk sleeper, found dead in New York City. No bruises, no signs of struggle. Just a laser-perfect, fist-sized hole where his heart had once been. Lieutenant Eve Dallas is assigned to investigate. But in the heat of a cat-and-mouse game with the killer, Dallas's job is suddenly on the line. Now her hands are tied...between a struggle for justice - and a fight for her career.

Conspiracy in Death is following on from Midnight in Death if you read the short stories, or Holiday in Death if you do not. (Click on the titles for links to the earlier reviews!) It is still the winter months, as snow is mentioned several times through the course of the book, there is even one scene where Dallas and Roarke make snow people! Very cute little scene. Anyways, so a few weeks have passed since the last time Eve found herself in trouble, and she is on the move again.

This is the story of a very unusual case for Dallas. She responds to the death of a street sleeper, not exactly the high profile case that Eve normally finds herself on, but this is Eve and she speaks for the dead. She is determined to put this murderer to rest, and when other similar cases start popping up, she finds that she has a lot of dead to speak for. Only she did not bargain with the power of the murderer, he knows how to push the right buttons and take away the thing that Eve needs most.

Another In Death story...another great read.

For me the most interesting part of this novel was the effect on Eve when there was a chance that she could no longer be a police officer. It was very emotional to read this strong woman basically falling apart as the thing that she thinks makes her who she is taken away from her. There have been times in the earlier novels where we have seen Eve's feelings hurt, but this time it was more than that, it was a complete collapse that Roarke had to try and fight both for her and with her. This book is a growing book for Eve. She had a troubled childhood, and being a cop is the way that she has rose above her past. To Eve, her badge is who she is. If Roarke was not also a part of her life, it would be hard to see her surviving this aspect of her life, but Roarke knows the buttons to push to get her back up kicking butt.

I think it was interesting that the author chose to use Eve's professionalism as a police officer against her in this novel, especially in relation to the inept policewoman who makes the allegations against Eve. I have to admit that when a young policeman called Troy Trueheart entered the story, I actually thought that he was going to be a murder victim, but in the end it didn't happen! I guess it doesn't mean to say that he won't make appearances in future books! Troy Trueheart is a pretty funny name to include, but it offered a laugh. It was interesting for this book to show attacks on Eve's methods because she has been on the job something like eleven years, and this is the first time anything has ever happened to mark her record. It is hard when you reach the top and people resent you for it. I think Eve wrestled with a lot through this book.

This was very much an interesting book to read. In the other books, Eve might have her problems, but she is always at the top. In this book, she finds herself a very different one, and we see her grow as a person. It is impressive to see just how close she has come to the people that she works and interacts with after spending so much of her life alone and fighting to survive. This book is a typical Eve Dallas book, but at the same time, it more sentimental and inspiring than previous ones.

I look forward to reading the next one.
Me too!

Rating: 4/5
Rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Not only is the Orange long list out today, also out this week was the long list for the Miles Franklin Award, which is the most prestigious Australian literary award.

The long list for the Orange award is as following:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Half of a Yellow Sun
Clare Allan - Poppy Shakespeare
Rachel Cusk - Arlington Park
Kiran Desai - The Inheritance of Loss
Patricia Ferguson - Peripheral Vision
Margaret Forster - Over
Nell Freudenberger - The Dissident
Rebecca Gowers - When to Walk
Xiaolu Guo - A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
Jane Harris - The Observations
M J Hyland - Carry Me Down
Lori Lansens - The Girls
Lisa Moore - Alligator
Catherine O'Flynn - What Was Lost
Stef Penney - The Tenderness of Wolves
Deborah Robertson - Careless
Rachel Seiffert - Afterwards
Jane Smiley - Ten Days in the Hills
Anne Tyler - Digging to America
Melanie Wallace - The Housekeeper

The only one of those I have read is The Tenderness of Wolves, although there are several others on the list that I have been wanting to read for a while!

The long list for the Miles Franklin is as below:

Beyond the Break by Sandra Hall
Careless by Deborah Robertson
Carpentaria by Alexis Wright
Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones
Silent Parts by John Charalambous
Theft: A Love Story by Peter Carey
The Unexpected Elements of Love by Kate Legge
The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan

I have actually only heard of a couple of those. Interestingly enough, last year all of the shortlisted books were Historical Fiction. This year, I don't think any of these books are HF!

The plan is to read the shortlists of some of these awards as the year goes on! We will see how we go.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Puritan Bride by Anne O'Brien

A woman of unexpected passion

England 1663: The sexual games at the Restoration Court of King Charles have turned Marcus, Viscount Marlbrooke, into a cynic. While he doesn't believe that love lies within matrimony, he does need to secure his claim to Winteringham Priory.

Marriage to the spirited Puritan Katherine Harley is the key and, given his unexpected response to her, perhaps their marriage needn't be as bleak as he fears. Because, beneath her solemn exterior, he senses a bride of surprising passion.

When I realised that this book was set during the reign of Charles II (the Restoration) I was quite pleased. After all it was an unusual time setting. On reading the book, that was not the only element. There was also, witchcraft, ghosts, echoes of the wars of the mid 1600s, family betrayals, a duel just as the highlights!.

The hero, Marcus, Viscount Marlbrooke is anxious to marry Katherine Harley to secure his ownership of Winteringham Priory. Originally the priory was the home of the Harleys, until they fought on the wrong side of the the Civil War and had their land taken off of them. The land was given to Marcus' family, and due to his friendship with Charles II he has been allowed to keep it when Charles is instated to the thrown. The only thing left to do is to get permanent ownership transferred to him, and the only thing that can stop that is if the true heir to Winteringham Priory makes a claim. Given that the will of Katherine's father, advising who the true heir is, has never been found, and is rumoured to have been hidden within the Priory itself, the race is on between several possible heirs to find the will and to state their claim.

To complicate matters, Katherine believes herself to be in love with her cousin Richard, and yet she is basically given no option by her uncle but to marry Marcus when he offers for her. She is fleeing to her strange aunt's home to try and get some answers when she has an accident and as a result has amnesia. Marcus is the one who finds her, and not recognising her as his fiancee, takes her into his home, christens her Viola, and she gets to know both Marcus, his mother and her grumpy maid, becoming an integral part of the family. Once her true identity is revealed then things become a little more complicated.

The fact that Kate is a Puritan really forms no real part of the plot, other than to explain why she was overwhelmed by the glamour of the Restoration court when they visited London. Of course, the fact that she was a Puritan was one of the things that she could not remember when suffering from amnesia! The occasional question about is it wrong to be enjoying this or to feel pleasure is about the strength of the puritan part.

The fact that the heroine had two names during the novel became quite annoying after a while. When she had amnesia, they decided to call Katherine Viola. Once she knew who she was again then they would sometimes still call her Viola and sometimes Kate. The other thing that I actually didn't like was when Marcus called her little's one endearment that I find really difficult to deal with between two adults. Yes, she was supposed to be extremely petite and he well built, but please don't call her little one. Totally squicky!

Other than that, I did like Marcus. He had a fairly strong sense of honour. I did feel as though maybe he fell too hard, too quickly for Viola, but I guess he's not the only romance hero ever to have been guilty of that! There was one moment between Marcus and Katherine/Viola where I wondered how far the author was going to take things but that possible confrontation was stepped back from before it went too far.

In the end I would classify this as an okay read. It didn't help that the book was overlong, and there were probably too many plot lines that the author was trying to resolve quite quickly at the end, adding unnecessary drama in my opinion.

This was actually the other book that was in the Quills book along with The Reputable Rake by Dianne Gaston.

Rating 3/5

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Twisted Kingdom relaunch

The lovely ladies over at Twisted Kingdom are relaunching the blog, and to celebrate they are having a couple of competitions.

The first couldn't be easier....just help spread the word of the relaunch on your blog and you could win a book.

The second gives people the opportunity to be a guest reviewer over there! Be sure to go on over to Twisted Kingdom and have a look!

Dreaming the Eagle by Manda Scott

With a novelist's grace and a historian's power, critically acclaimed author Manda Scott brings her immense storytelling gifts to an epic work of historical fiction. Dreaming the Eagle breathes life into history, creating a vibrant portrait of the early years of the Celtic queen, Boudica. With haunting images and unforgettable characters, Scott draws us into a completely different world...a world of myth and heroism, beauty and brutality...where a young woman journeys to greatness at the crossroads of history...

She is Breaca nic Graine, born to the Eceni, a tribe of dreamers and hunters, storytellers and artisans. While fierce in battle, they are a peaceful people, men and women of pride and mystery, in whose lives the real and the fantastical exist side by side. But theirs is not a peaceful world; it is a world of bloody conflict, where neighboring tribes war among themselves while a greater enemy gathers strength across the ocean.. Against this seething backdrop, Breaca will come of age and prove her brilliance in battle, catapulting her to the forefront of her tribesmen, who will rename the copper-haired warrior: Boudica:"She Who Brings Victory."

Many will share in Breaca's extraordinary destiny... Eburovic, the beloved father who always knew that his impetuous firstborn was destined for greatness... Caradoc, the legendary warrior whose love for Breaca is rivaled only by his hatred of Rome... Corvus, the Roman soldier who will become a powerful - and unlikely - ally. Soon as violence and treachery threaten a fragile peace, as an emperor named Caligula rises to power in a distant land, Breaca will once again be called to battle. And this time, the future of a people will rest in her hands as she faces a near-impossible task: to rally the splintered Celtic tribes against the encroaching might of Rome.

Filled with breathtaking sights and sounds - from the beauty of an ancient tribal ritual to the blood lust of a gladiator's arena, from the deafening roar of battle to the quiet passion of lovers - and brimming with raw adventure and vivid historical detail, this magnificent novel has it all: mystery, passion, hatred, lust, war, romance, miracles. It is a work of masterful storytelling by one of the most exciting and original new voices in historical fiction.

Wow...that is an extensive inside cover flap copy, and to be honest I am not going to regurgitate any of the story because this covers it mostly adequately.

The book is broken into four parts. I found the first part quite slow going, where the author was setting up all the meaning of the dreaming, the way that the tribes interacted with each other, and with their animals, and the basis of the warrior training that Breaca received. Once the story moved into the 2nd part and beyond, the story picked up pace and it was easier to get sucked into the story.

There are a couple of things that I think that were misleading in the blurb above. The first is from the final paragraph, where it talks about the "quiet passion of lovers". If you go into this book expecting to read a balance between the history, and the romantic attachments of the main characters then you will be disappointed. The romantic outcome is telegraphed from very early in the book. By the time I was getting towards the end of the book I was actually expecting that this part of the story would be carried into the next book, instead of the inevitable happening in this book.

It is also interesting that there is no direct mention of Breaca's brother Ban in the blurb either, because in many ways his story is the counter balance to Breaca's own. He is a major character, and there were significant chunks of the narrative where the focus was on Ban, and not on Breaca.

There were many, many characters, and at times I really had to struggle to keep track of some of them, and to be honest I think the author did too. There was one fairly major protagonist who was dealt with, but there was absolutely no reaction whatsoever from any of the other characters, which given his role in things was very, very surprising at least to me.

This is no light and fluffy account of what have may have happened - it is in turns gruesome and harsh, mystical and reverent and very believable.

For me there is an inevitable comparison to be made to the Jules Watson books I have read, The White Mare and The Dawn Stag. The settings are not identical but I would think it is fair to say that the tone and intentions of the books are very similar, even though there are several distinctions between them. I think that Jules Watson's books are better able to sustain an emotional involvement on the part of the reader, but there is less reliance of the fantasy elements in this book. It is not that the fantastical, mythical parts of the story aren't there, but I do think there is less reliance on them to move the plot forward.

The hook at the end of the story for the next book is definitely well and truly there, and I for one have been caught on it! The next book has already been picked up from the library!

Rating 4/5

Something Blue by Emily Giffin

Darcy Rhone thought she had it all figured out: the more beautiful the girl, the more charmed her life. Never mind substance. Never mind playing by the rules. Never mind karma.

But Darcy's neat, perfect world turns upside down when her best friend, Rachel, the plain-Jane good girl, steals her fiance, while Darcy finds herself completely alone for the first time in her life...with a baby on the way.

Darcy tries to recover, fleeing to her childhood friend living in London and resorting to her tried-and-true methods for getting what she wants. But as she attempts to recreate her glamorous life on a new continent, Darcy finds that her rules no longer apply. It is only then that Darcy can begin her journey toward self-awareness, forgiveness, and motherhood.

Something Blue is a novel about one woman's surprising discoveries about the true meaning of friendship, love, and happily-ever-after. Its a novel for anyone who has ever, even secretly, wondered if the last thing you want is really the one thing you need.

When I read the earlier book that is connected to this one, Something Borrowed, I didn't really like any of the main characters. There didn't seem to be a lot of integrity in any of them. I was however sufficiently hooked in the story to want to know what happened then!

The first portion of this book covers a lot of the same ground that was covered at the end of Something Borrowed, but instead of being from Rachel's point of view, it was from Darcy's perspective, and I have to say that I still did not like Darcy at all. She was annoying, bitchy, shallow, hypocritical, particularly in her relationship with Marcus, focusing completely on the fact that her ex fiancee had cheated on her despite the fact that she had done the same with Marcus, to the extend of getting pregnant by him. I did wonder if the author had gone too far and therefore would not be able to redeem this woman at all!!

Having said that, once we got beyond the actual events that occurred in the first book, things picked up. Darcy was left basically with a baby on the way, no boyfriend, hardly any true friends, had fought with her parents, and felt that she had no option but to go and live in London with the childhood friend to both Darcy and Rachel, Ethan. Poor Ethan. He had to put up with a lot from Darcy, but once he gave her an ultimatum about her behaviour, particularly in relation to her burgeoning pregnancy, things got better, and of course being chick lit, Darcy was finally redeemed and found the kind of true happiness that can't be found in designer brand handbags, although they certainly accessorize happiness well! I did like that there was some kind of resolution found between Darcy and Rachel, but I was glad that the author didn't go the most obvious total and fabulous reconciliation between the two of them. There had been too much pain and hurt to ever go back completely, so it would have been unrealistic in my opinion to have done so!

I did like what little we saw of Rachel and Dex (Darcy's ex fiance) in this book. It seemed that despite their tumultuous beginning they did indeed develop a great relationship and partnership.

Given how little I liked the main character in both the last book and the early parts of this book, it did surprise me that I really enjoyed this book. I think probably because I actually was in the mood for reading some chick lit. I was reading something else, and rather optimistically thought I might finish that book and therefore put this one in my bag. I had read one page of the other book, and then thought "you know what...I don't want to read this", so started reading this book, and enjoyed it so much that I basically couldn't put it down and finished it in a day!

Really enjoyable read.

Rating 4.5/5

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

One of the most talked about books of the year . . . Bit by bit, the ravages of age are eroding Marina's grip on the everyday. And while the elderly Russian woman cannot hold on to fresh memories—the details of her grown children's lives, the approaching wedding of her grandchild—her distant past is preserved: vivid images that rise unbidden of her youth in war-torn Leningrad.

In the fall of 1941, the German army approached the outskirts of Leningrad, signaling the beginning of what would become a long and torturous siege. During the ensuing months, the city's inhabitants would brave starvation and the bitter cold, all while fending off the constant German onslaught. Marina, then a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum, along with other staff members, was instructed to take down the museum's priceless masterpieces for safekeeping, yet leave the frames hanging empty on the walls—a symbol of the artworks' eventual return. To hold on to sanity when the Luftwaffe's bombs began to fall, she burned to memory, brushstroke by brushstroke, these exquisite artworks: the nude figures of women, the angels, the serene Madonnas that had so shortly before gazed down upon her. She used them to furnish a "memory palace," a personal Hermitage in her mind to which she retreated to escape terror, hunger, and encroaching death. A refuge that would stay buried deep within her, until she needed it once more. . . .

Seamlessly moving back and forth in time between the Soviet Union and contemporary America, The Madonnas of Leningrad is a searing portrait of war and remembrance, of the power of love, memory, and art to offer beauty, grace, and hope in the face of overwhelming despair. Gripping, touching, and heartbreaking, it marks the debut of Debra Dean, a bold new voice in American fiction.

Being such a huge fan of The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons, I am always very interested when I find a book that has as it's setting Leningrad during the siege during World War II. And then as I start getting closer to actually starting to read the book, the doubts start. Mostly those doubts centre around the fact that I know that there is no other book with a similar setting that will come close to being anywhere near as good as The Bronze Horseman. What I do find though, is that some of these books do have their own place, where they help fill in a bit more of the gaps that there are about what life may have been link in Leningrad during the Siege.

For example, in The Bronze Horseman one of the scenes is where Tatiana and Alexander are walking past the Hermitage and they notice that the museum curator is overseeing the loading of many of the priceless pieces of art into cartons and getting them shipped out of Leningrad so that they will not be damaged during the sustained bombing raids. This book, focuses a lot on that process, and then about what life was like in The Hermitage after all of the art was gone, and the skeleton staff that remained were living in the basement. As Marina goes about her daily work she creates a Memory Palace in her mind, so that even though the walls are bare, with just the empty frames in place, when she walks into any room in the museum she can still 'see' the pictures on the wall in her mind, to the extent that at one point she gives a group of people a tour of some of the highlights using just her memories to feed their imagination.

And yet, this book is also as much about the pressure that a family has to deal with as Alzheimer's sets in ravaging the mind of Marina. They find out things about their mother that they never knew, and in some cases that helps them identify things in their own lives. For example, Marina's daughter Helen is an artist, and yet she never knew where her love of art came from, so it is a huge surprise to her when she finds out that her mother had studied the arts and had been a tour guide in the world famous museum. It helps Helen to piece together a few pieces of her own identity, even while at the same time she understands that her mother is slowly losing her own current identity.

For the most part this book works. The narrative does alternate between Leningrad during World War II and current time America very smoothly, and the sense of desperation and deprivation was adequately portrayed through out the book. Where it did fall down a bit though for me was that there were several things raised that we never got answers for, and there were significant events that were just explained in a paragraph and that was it! For example we find out that Marina's husband had been a Prisoner of War, and there is literally a one sentence explanation of how Marina and he had been miraculously reunited completely by chance at the end of the war.

Despite the inevitable comparisons to The Bronze Horseman, this is actually a much different book, with a completely different focus, and so it is probably unfair of me to constantly compare, but I can't help it!

For the most part this was an enjoyable read. If there weren't those unanswered questions that were left hanging at the end of the book, I would probably have rated this book higher.

Rating 4/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Booking Mama

Out of the Blue
A Life in Books
Lesley's Book Nook

Must Have Been the Moonlight by Melody Thomas

To want him was madness ...

Far from home was the last place Brianna Donally ever imagined she'd find the one man she'd desire above all others. When Major Michael Fallon, the dangerously seductive British officer, rescues the bold beauty from certain doom, Brianna discovers a reckless passion she is unable to resist. But a fiercely independent female photographer could never make a proper bride for the grandson of a duke. And a bitter betrayal has locked love away from Michael's heart forever.

... to deny her was impossible.

And yet ... Michael cannot disregard these sensuous stirrings. Could it be the moonlight that has bewitched him ... or the intoxicating scent and touch of this remarkable, infuriatingly "modern" woman? Scandal would be the least consequence of their consummated passion—there would be perils as well. For Michael will never settle for anything less than a true, intense, and all-consuming love.

When I read In My Heart not too long ago, my initial thoughts were as follows:

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?

Having now read this book, I ask the same question.

This novel features Brianna Donally, sister of Christopher Donally, the hero of the first book, and the first part of the book at at least is set in Egypt. The book opens with Brianna and Alex (heroine from the first novel) being chased through Egypt. After an unfortunate encounter with Major Michael Fallon, where she nearly kills him, he leads the two ladies out of the desert, but not before they have to face a sandstorm together.

On return to Cairo, Brianna and Michael constantly find themselves searching each other out. Michael is fascinated by her independence and she is irresistibly attracted to him.

I really liked Brianna. She is portrayed as a modern woman of her day and somewhat shockingly she has a real job as a photographer. Having been sent to Egypt in disgrace after publishing a shocking book showing the conditions for some of the poorer people in England, she has decided to use her skills as a photographer to assist her sister in law, who is a historian, in publishing her own book.

I have to say that up until about two thirds of the way through the novel I was completely infatuated with Major Michael Fallon myself. He was macho, and tough and all different kinds of abrupt and anti-authoritarian, but gee he was a lot of fun to read.

Then, there was a fundamental change in circumstances. I understand that it was necessary in order to get the characters back to England and into a different situation but the book lost a little momentum when that change happened, although it was interesting to see Brianna locking horns with Michael's mother and his niece!

Overall this was an excellent read, and I managed to read it in a day - something I haven't managed to do with any other books all this year I believe! I have already picked up the next book in the series, and I hope I enjoy that one just as much.

Rating 4.5/5

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

It's the end of the year, and Gemma's looking forward to living it up in London. Balls, fancy gowns and dancing with the handsome Simon Middleton beckon. Best of all, it's time away from Spence Academy - and from the Realms.

But the lure of the enchanted world is strong, and the magic flows freely. Gemma's visions intensify - visions of three girls dressed in white, suffering horror and menace. Clearly all is not well in the Realms - or out of them.

Set against the rich backdrop of Victorian London, a place of shadows and light, in a time of strict morality and barely repressed sensuality, this compelling gothic sequel reveals that inside great beauty can lie a rebel angel...

Having read and enjoyed A Great and Terrible Beauty last year, I have been patiently waiting for this book to come into the library, and so was very excited when finally, not too long ago, it finally came onto the library catalogue.

So, after all that anticipation, was it worth the wait? Well yes, and no.

The school year is coming to an end for all of the young women at Spence Boarding school, and Gemma and her friends are looking forward to spending Christmas in London - after all what girl wouldn't love all the balls and the opera and all those tea times. Even young Anne manages to get an invite to London, only by making up an incredible story about her identity, but all three girls eventually find themselves in London.

Gemma's visit to London starts really well when she meets the deliciously eligible and dashing Simon Middleton - a member of one of the best families in London. Simon has taken a liking to Gemma, and she to him, but she must not allow herself to get too distracted - after all she still has to track down the mysterious Circe, bind the power in the realms and keep up all the necessary appearances of a very proper young Victorian lady.

One of the benefits of moving the setting away from Spence for most of the book is that there are a wide variety more settings that are available to the author - from the dingy parts of London where no proper young lady would ever go, to the opera, to Bedlam, to shopping in strange little book shops. There is also more scope with interaction with other characters such as the families of the girls, where some time was spent on some quite sensitive issues including but not limited to addiction.

Within the realms as well the story was expanded during this book. When the white door opens to Gemma and her friends they do find themselves in the part of the realm that they are familiar with, including Pippa, their friend who was left behind - but are things really the same. Gemma has found a young girl in Bedlam who has some knowledge of the realms and she and others are constantly warning Gemma to find the Temple and bind the magic, but to be careful of who she trusts, particularly as everything in the realms is out of balance at the moment. As the girls travel further into the realms they find more and more interesting tribes, some of whom are more interesting than others, and some who are far more dangerous than others. Can Gemma and her friends find the temple and bind the power before Circe does, and if they do, who should they bind the power in the name of . Is the Order to be trusted, is there another one who should be holding the power, or perhaps should it be shared.

Along the way Gemma needs to figure out who she can trust. Can she trust Simon to love her no matter what her strange powers may be? Can she trust Kartik, or is his first loyalty to others? And can she trust herself with the power that she has, or will it overwhelm her?

I think that this book was more fast paced than the first one, with lots more situations where Gemma and her friends could have found themselves in danger. In particular they spent a lot more time in the Realms in this book. In my opinion the book was less balanced than the first one was and in some way I think that this affected my concentration. To be honest, I think that once again this was more about my frame of mind as opposed to the book, but that's what I felt so therefore that is what I am basing my review and rating on!

I did enjoy it, but not quite as much as I enjoyed the first one. I am however just as eager to get hold of the new book, The Sweet Far Thing, which is due out in September.

Rating 4/5


Just the other day, Sybil had a post up which basically asks which books do you reread. It's a question that comes up pretty regularly on message boards on the like, and my answer is always the same....I don't. Not often anyway.

That's not to say that I wouldn't like to reread. I mean, that's why I don't get rid of the books that I do buy, because I do want them there because there are often days when I think "Gee I would like to reread that book" but I don't usually get to it. In fact, out of the 227 books I read last year, there was only one that was a reread and that was Summer of My German Soldier - a book that I first read in early high school.

The reason why I don't reread is that there are too many good books out there that I haven't read yet. I have about 35 books out from the library, as well as over 140 books that I own that I haven't read yet, and yet more on my TBR list that I haven't gotten around to either buying or borrowing yet.

The other thing is that on those odd occasions that I do start a reread I end up getting distracted, putting the book down and never picking it up again, even for things like discussions. Recently I was supposed to read a book again for a chapter by chapter discussion. I even went and bought the book so that I could because the first time I read the book I had borrowed it from the library, but I got up to about chapter 9 and just haven't picked it up again.

So a couple of questions. Are there other readers out there that don't reread? And to those people who do reread all the time, do you read the whole book again or do you just skim through and read certain parts?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Easter Cards

The workshop that I am going to once a month has a set challenge each month, which I think I have mentioned before. This month was supposed to be stamping, but now that is being changed to next month, and this month's challenge is going to be Easter.

I don't have a problem with changing challenges but my question people give cards at Easter? I don't think I have ever given or received, or seen anyone else give or receive!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

It's the night before Hogwatch. And it's too quite.

There's snow, there're robins, there're trees covered with decoration, but there's a notable lack of the big fat man who delivers the toys....

He's gone.

Susan the governess has got to find him before morning, otherwise the sun won't rise. And unfortunately her helpers are a raven with an eyeball fixation, the Death of Rats, and an oh god of hangovers.

Worse still, someone is coming down the chimney. This time he's carrying a sack instead of a scythe, but there's something regrettably familiar....


It's true what they say.

'You'd better watch out'

Many moons ago I read quite a few of Terry Pratchett's books, and I knew some things for sure....

I would find myself laughing out loud numerous times throughout the book, regardless of where I might be at that moment.

My favourite character is Death. I just love the way that he TALKS!

I love the fact that Pratchett takes common things and twists and turns then until you end up with something completely silly and inane and yet it makes sense.

So this book should have been great shouldn't it! I mean, it featured Death, and he was having to fill in for Santa Claus, and....and it just wasn't. So does that mean I have grown out of Pratchett? Um, I don't think so. I mean it was only 18 months or so ago that I read Going Postal and I enjoyed that.

Could it have been a silly idea to read a book with a Christmas setting in February...maybe. Maybe I was just all holiday seasoned out.

Or maybe, just maybe, this book didn't work for me.

My first stumbling block was that I really, really don't like books with no chapters. I know I have said here before that I can't put a book down unless it is a chapter break, and that it is preferable if the chapter number is either divisible by 5, or that the number of chapters remaining in the book is divisible by 5 (don't ask my why...I don't know!). When a book has no chapters it really, really bothers me!

The holiday hangover theory may have some validity though. I was disappointed for the most part. There were lots of repetition of the same jokes but there were also some clever ideas that just weren't executed.

There were some laugh out loud moments - such as the manager of a very posh restaurant creating an entire meal for a restaurant full of people out of mud and old boots after DEATH decided to give the real food to a group of beggars! And the idea that there was a god of hangovers!

It was my intention to eventually start from the beginning of the Discworld series, but I do have to say that my keenness to do so is a little deflated right now. Maybe I should just reread one of the books that I do have here to decide whether it was me or the book!

Rating 3/5

A Reputable Rake by Dianne Gaston

Cyprian Sloane's reputation is of the very worst. A gambler, smuggler, rake and a spy, he now faces the greatest challenge of all - respectability. He will force society to accept him. Nothing with stand in his way!

But then he meets Morgana Hart whose caring nature thrusts her into the company of ladies of the night and risks a scandal that will destroy them both. To become a gentleman Cyprian must sacrifice the lady. Or is there a way for the rake to save them both.

As soon as I saw this cover last year, I wanted this book! Couldn't care less if the hair or the costume was wrong...or anything else for that matter, I just knew that I wanted to read it! Unfortunately, this wasn't the book cover that I had (more on that later!), so luckily I liked what was between the covers as well as what was on the cover!

Cyprian Sloan has a well developed reputation as a rakehell, gambler and smuggler. Some of those labels may be well deserved but others were labels that were earned during his time as a spy for the Crown. Now, his days of spying for the Crown are over, and now that he has a nice fortune set aside, it is time to change his ways and become a respectable man about town. That, of course, means that he must also find himself a wife, and he knows just the girl. It also means that if there is any opportunity to cause his estranged father grief, then he will take advantage of that as well.

Unfortunately, after saving a group of ladies in distress in the park, he comes to know the young lady's cousin, Miss Morgana Hart. Now Miss Hart may have been practically ignored by the men of the ton, but Cyprian recognises straight away that she is a very uncommon woman - one who is above the small talk about the weather that seems to dominate every drawing room, who is willing to take a risk, a woman of passion perhaps.

As a result of the set-to in the park, which occurred as one of her servants had decided to run away to become a prostitute, Morgana decides that in order to save her servant that she must teach her to become a courtesan, to at least provide her with some better life than a young girl could expect on the harsh streets of London. Cyprian once again becomes involved when he has to save her from another difficult situation.

To Cyprian's horror, he finds that his agent/servant has managed to procure him a lovely London home....right next door to Morgana Hart. Once he figures out what she is up to, he is extremely concerned that it will cause damage to his own reputation to be living next to her, let alone what will happen to both of them should anyone figure out what is going on. And yet, he cannot stay away and is soon visiting on a regular basis, ostensibly as a dance partner for the young ladies, but in truth to see Morgana as well.

Adventure, danger and love follow as the young ladies make their debuts (albeit masked), with varied results and Cyprian and Morgana fall in love.

I really loved Cyprian. He was just the right mix of rake and man of honour, finding himself drawn into a situation that he could well have done without, and drawn to a woman he found irresistibly attractive.

Morgana was good too. Whilst there were probably some things that she did throughout the story that may have qualified her as almost TSTL, she did them for the right reasons, and with her heart in the right place.

All of the secondary characters were well rounded and played integral roles in the story. I particularly liked Cyprian's nephew as he provided a nice counter balance against his father and brother who hated Cyprian with a passion. Even Cyprian's name was a reflection of the passion with which he hated Cyprian, who may have been his wife's son, but was certainly no seed of the Earls!

I am pretty sure that I have never read of a heroine setting up a courtesan's school before, so Diane Gaston deserves kudos for originality at the very least. I had never read anything by her before, but I have added all of her books to my list after reading this one.

I did say that I would come back to the book cover thing! It appears as though there are quite a few Harlequin Historicals that are being released in two book volumes here in a series called Quills, so the book I actually got from the library had the cover shown to the right. I will be reviewing the other book that was included, The Puritan Bride by Anne O'Brien, in due course. Other authors to be given the Quills treatment who I have wanted to read include Michelle Styles and Terri Brisbin.

Rating 4/5


I have put up most of the link in my blog roll I think, but I am sure to have forgotten someone! If it was you...I apologise. It wasn't deliberate. Please let me know if I have missed you!

Oh, and I haven't had a chance to check them all yet, so if you click on one and it doesn't take you to where it should have, could you please let me know so I can fix it!


New look

They say a change is as good as a holiday!

With my last template I intended to eventually put a blogroll in, but never got around to it! I started today but I have a load more links to put in. Of course, it is taking longer now that my right mouse key doesn't seem to be working and I am having to type them all in manually! What a job!

Two in one day

I actually made this one on Friday as well as the one in the last post. This one was made using the papers in the packs that I buy, and will be used for the stamping challenge.

Somewhat surprisingly, I am actually pretty happy with this one. The only thing I should have done differently is inked in blue around the edges of the green card, but you know, that's pretty good for me to find that as the only thing I could have done differently!

My son has gone a bit card making mad over the last two days, even making me a birthday card.

My birthday isn't until June!

Pleasure for Pleasure by Eloisa James

Normally I do try to write my thoughts without too many spoilers (note the way I say try!) but this time I am afraid I am not able! So.........spoilers galore below!

Fueled by the knowledge that notoriety is better than failure, witty, unconventional Josie does what no proper young lady should-she challenges fate. She discards her corset and flirts outrageously. She attends the horse races and allows an arrogant rakehell to whisk her behind the stables for a surreptitious kiss . . . and is caught!

She doesn't want to marry the young hellion-but who's to help? Her chaperone keeps disappearing for mysterious appointments; her guardian is on his wedding trip; and his friend the Earl of Mayne is too busy staring into the eyes of his exquisite French fiancée.

Can a marriage forced by stuffy convention and unwilling desire become the match of the season?

The fourth and final story in the Essex sisters series, following on from The Taming of the Duke. And here I am, saying oh dear, another Eloisa James novel that just didn't quite do it for me, for a few reasons. The thing with her novels is that I feel like I should like them a whole lot more than I do, and I don't know why I don't!

The youngest Essex sister has made her debut into the ton, but it hasn't exactly gone smoothly. She has been christened The Scottish Sausage, and the only people who are willing to dance with her are people who have been coerced into it by her friends and family. Finally convinced to rid herself of the terrible corset contraption that she had been wearing, Josie has decided that the best way to get herself a husband is to do something completely unorthodox, exactly as her sisters have done. With Mayne prepared to teach her how she should walk and talk, how could she go wrong. The fact that Mayne donned her dress in order to do so was somewhat strange, to this reader at least.

Anyhow, after a few different escapades everyone is off to the races, and Josie is waylaid by a scoundrel who really just wants to upset her more than anything. Things don't exactly go as plan and Mayne finds her in a dishevelled state in the stables. Thinking that she has been ravaged there is no option but to find her a husband and quickly, before there is a scandal. As to dealing with the scoundrel, well, Josie has that well in hand herself, but her close knit family also come to her defence.

So, first let's talk about Josie. I did like Josie. I understand her body image issues and her desperation to catch a husband. I liked that in the end she provided Mayne with the means to give his life some depth and meaning, although I do have to say that this story once again had too much horse stuff in it. I think that I said something similar about Much Ado About You. I like horses, but don't love them, and it was too much of a good thing IMO.

And now for Mayne. What to say about Mayne. Well let's start with...I was disappointed for him. Mayne has been a character in at least five of Eloisa James' books. His identity as a disaffected rake has been sculpted over a long period of time. He was also engaged to Josie's sister Tess, her other sister Imogen wanted to have an affaire with him, and there was something about him with Anabelle as well. So basically he has gone through all of the Essex sisters before getting to Josie......ewwww. And then there is the age difference. Josie is barely 18, and Mayne is much, much older. Even that is not an insurmountable obstacle really I guess. What I wanted for Mayne was a grand passion that swept him off of his feet, and I don't think that we really got that. Yes, the author tried to convince us that he did, but I just didn't feel it!

When we first meet Mayne in this book he is engaged to a beautiful French aristocrat, and seemingly madly in love with her. She is a little less besotted, and has some definite ideas of what is expected from the perfect husband. After a huge fight which Josie witnesses, the engagement is off, and that night Mayne marries Josie. Huh? There was very little build up in the relationship between Mayne and Josie, but very, very quickly it is supposed to appear as though Josie and Mayne are in love with each other.

What else? Well, there were some aspects that I did like in this story. I was so pleased that Mayne's sister Griselda finally got some action, and loved the secondary romance between her and Darlington. This isn't the first time that I have preferred the secondary romance in one of James' books, and I suspect it won't be the last time either!

Having said all of that, I was just sitting here flicking through the book to look for something, and I found a scene and read it again, and thought it was just lovely. I hope you aren't reading this wanting to know what I thought about this book because apparently I can't decide myself properly!

Oh, and in the Reader's section on her website, Eloisa James. has just put up an extra chapter to this book. To me it feels more like an epilogue to the whole series, but whatever you want to call it it was really nice. Made me cry my eyes out. And I was so glad that she chose not to make life for the four Essex sisters all sugar coated and perfect.

I do wonder if these extra chapters are a thing that she will continue. I did feel as though the extra chapter for Taming of the Duke should not have been necessary if the book itself had of been clearer about what happened where, but this one didn't feel necessary, just an added extra.

Wow...I've ended up writing quite a bit in this review. Not bad seeing as I am pretty torn between really liking parts of it, and really not feeling other parts!

Rating 3.5/5

Friday, March 09, 2007

I may have created an issue for myself!

My son seems to have discovered the joys of EBay over the last couple of days. Not that he is bidding for himself but just going and searching for items that he might like and then nagging me to come and have a look at them.

And now that we have won two auctions it may well be that this won't be the first time that we have the conversation about not having to buy everything we see.

Of course, that's not how the conversation really goes - it's more usually along the lines of "can you pick up your crap from all around the house" followed by "well you certainly don't need any more toys if you don't have enough room to keep all the ones that you do have tidy!"

Something I whipped up earlier

Well, not exactly, but you know...

I am going to be sending a book to a friend of mine soon, and she really liked lighthouses, so I was trying to make a card that featured one. In the end I ended up with seashells as opposed to lighthouses, but you know, things don't always end up precisely how you plan! So, the lighthouse is on the inside of the card!

The other thing is that for the workshop thing that I go to each month we have a theme for things that we need to do, and this month's is stamping. I wanted to try stamping on vellum, so this seemed like as good a opportunity as any.

As usual I am not 100% happy, but I am not sure that I ever will be. Most of the time I end up thinking that the cards I make need something...something a bit extra, but I still haven't quite worked out what that something is!

The papers are actually from some packs that I got from some packs that my local scrapbooking shop puts together each month. The owner puts together 4 packs that contain a few different pieces of coordinating papers, plus some embellishments of some kind. I've been buying them for the last couple of months, simply because I am not very adventurous when it comes to putting different packs of paper together, so in theory I am using them to get some inspiration. In reality, I like to sit there and look at them for a little while when I pull them out to look at them. This is the first time I ever got around to using any of them! In addition to the three different papers that I used there is also a brown card that goes with the pack that I couldn't really fit into this card.

Of course, as soon as I start making a card my son decides that he wants to make one as well. This time he was remarkably self controlled and didn't go completely overboard. And he managed to use the lighthouses!

Thursday, March 08, 2007


I hate waiting in doctor's surgeries.

I had to take my son back for a check up today to see how his illness was clearing up. We did the right thing and got there a couple of minutes early.


I read three chapters of my book and then put it away thinking that it can't be much longer.

Waited some more.

Flicked through a magazine from last year.

Waited some more.

Started checking the time on my phone.


Went up and said "Excuse me, are we going to be seen soon. We have been waiting 40 minutes". "Oh yes, you are in next." Well, I would flipping well hope so!


Finally, after an hour of waiting, I finally got called into the doctor where he stressed the importance of attending follow up appointments because he had recorded us as a Did Not Show. I've been sitting out there for a *#@*% hour!!!

Apparently, the computer in the receptionists area showed that we were next in queue, but we weren't showing up on the doctor's list at all. "Just a glitch...sorry". They could all see me sitting there. Unless of course they regularly have people who just come and sit in the surgery for an hour at a time for fun.

And now I have to go back again on Tuesday.


To Pleasure a Prince by Sabrina Jeffries

Bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries pens the sizzling story of one of three half-noble half brothers, who makes a most unwelcome entrance into society...and a most unexpected match.

Beautiful Lady Regina Tremaine has turned down so many suitors that she's called La Belle Dame Sans Merci. The truth: she won't marry because she carries a dark secret. She sees no good reason, however, why her brother shouldn't court the lovely Louisa North — even if the girl's brother, the notorious "Dragon Viscount," objects.

Marcus North, Viscount Draker — bastard son of the Prince of Wales — is rumored to be a monster who holds women captive in his dark castle to have his way with them. He has been exiled from polite society for years. But when Lady Regina makes a plea on her brother's behalf, Marcus proposes an outrageous deal: her brother can court Louisa so long as Marcus can court Regina. Can the beauty and the beast survive a proper courtship when the devastatingly improper passion between them threatens to cause the scandal of the century?

When I finish a book, I add the details to the two spreadsheets I maintain, start a blog post and just write a couple of sentences of my initial thoughts, and then much later down the track (depending on how far behind I am on reviews) I write the actual review. These are the two sentences that I wrote in respect of this book:

Never really got the chemistry between H/H. Dragon thing got a bit old after a while.
The funny thing is that as I sit here 3 weeks after finishing it, I actually think that I really did like it more than I did when I finished it straight away. Sure the dragon thing did still get old, but I do think that maybe I was a little harsh about the chemistry, and I am certainly anxious to get hold of the spin off story that is going to be told in Only a Duke Will Do. Doesn't really make a lot of sense, and is not really all that usual for me to have this kind of delayed reaction.

Lady Regina Tremaine is known as La Belle Sans Merci because of her ruthless attitude towards marriage - there is no way known that she will be marrying, because of the defect that she believes that she has. She is determined that no one will ever get close enough to her to find out the truth about her, and that that is the way it is going to stay. When she goes to visit Viscount Draker alone and unannounced, she does so to ask for Marcus' permission for her brother, Simon Tremaine, to court his younger sister, Louisa. She is currently enjoying her coming out season in London, hosted by Marcus' half brother, the Earl of Iversley, whose story was told in the first book in the series, In the Prince's Bed. At first Marcus is reluctant, but eventually he agrees, but only on the condition that Louisa allows herself to appear to be courted by him.

At first Louisa is mortified...after all, Marcus is known as the "Dragon Viscount", and his appearance and manners could definitely use some improvements, but for the sake of her brother, she accepts. And soon, she realises that he is more than just the Dragon Viscount. He is fiercely protective of his sister, and in particular relation to any rumours about her possible parentage, and he is sure that Simon Tremaine is in league with the Prince of Wales, and not in love with his sister at all.

Eventually Louisa sees beneath the bluster to the man underneath, and he founds out about her condition. I did think that the resolution of this matter was solved far too easily and quickly, but it is certainly a different dilemma for a heroine to have.

The dragon symbolism was overdone in my opinion, particularly towards the end of the novel. I am very interested in reading Louisa's story. And because I need to read in order, that means that I will read the next half brother's story, although I am not terribly excited by the prospect of doing so.

If I was to rate this book today, I would probably rate is as 3.5/5, but at the time that I finished it, I gave it 3/5.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn

Everything was so much simpler…
When he was wicked.

In every life there is a turning point.

A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one's life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London's most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton.

After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca's surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer — the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin.

But that was then…Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love…until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms, and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets…

After being somewhat disappointed with To Sir Phillip With Love, I have to admit to being slightly apprehensive about reading this one. Could it be that 8 books really is too many to have in a series. Fortunately this book (number 6) was a return to the strong romances that Quinn writes so well...thank goodness!

This book was basically written in two parts. The first part of the book focused on the friendship between Michael and Francesca in the context of her marriage to his cousin John. When he dies unexpectedly, instead of being bought together in grief, they are torn apart, and Michael finds himself leaving the country instead of facing his new responsibilities as Earl of Kilmartin.

Whilst he is away, Francesca assumes the responsibility for the stewardship of the lands connected to the title, but after 4 years of looking after things, Francesca has decided that it is time - time for her to remarry. Just as she reemerges from mourning, Michael returns to London, ready to take on his responsibilities, and he too has decided that it is time to marry, however, he is suffering from malaria, and needs Francesca's assistance to keep that secret from both his family and society.

Gradually as they spend more time together, Francesca gradually starts feeling an attraction towards Michael, and they both need to come to terms with what that means in terms of their previous friendship, and also with how that fits in with their feelings about Francesca's previous husband.

I cannot tell you how many times I cried whilst reading this story. Yes prior to going away, Michael was a notorious rake, but really his heart had been true to Francesca for such a long time, that he had decided that the only way to keep his love for her from overwhelming him and his relationship with his cousin was to play the field. Upon his return, and once his feelings for her were revealed, we see that the love that

And Francesca was not the virgin widow that is so common in romances. She and John had had a loving and healthy relationship which was lovely to see, although she was a inexperienced in comparison to Michael. I loved that he bought her to new levels of sexual fulfilment without there being any sense of ignoring the experiences that she had had previously. The new sexual experiences that she had were built on the satisfactory, if not spectacular, life she had had with John instead of the more common "I hated sex with my previous husband" that we normally see in romance novels.

The fact that we got to see Francesca with John, and then in her grief, and then finally finding happiness again was really nicely done, and the way that their doubts were portrayed over John were beautiful.

One interesting thing about this entry in the Bridgerton series is that this novel was very much about Francesca and Michael and John. There were some mentions of parents, and aunts and the like, but there were hardly any appearances by her brothers and sisters, or their myriad children! I'm sure that they will be back, particularly in the last book in the series, but in this book, with it's much more serious tone and issues, it would have been too much to have all of the Bridgerton's stomping through the book all the time!

Another fantastic read in the Bridgerton series! Now I am looking forward to the next one!

Rating 4.5/5

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