Friday, February 29, 2008


Is there an easy way to convert tracks on an audio CD to MP3 files. I want to put some tracks off of a CD that I own on my MP3 player.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


This weeks Booking Through Thursday question:

Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)

Well this looks like an easy question doesn't it! And yet it is not. How to go through the characters who live in my memories and pick just a few of them. That task is not helped by the fact that I definitely am more hero centric in my reading, particularly in romances. A lot of times if the hero is to die for, the heroine can be kind of wishy-washy and it will not bother me at all. Unfortunately the same can not be said if it the characteristics are the other way around.

Onto the actual question then!

Eleanor of Aquitaine - as portrayed by Sharon Penman in When Christ and His Saints Slept and the Justin de Quincey novels, and by Elizabeth Chadwick in her William Marshal novels. Passionate, feisty, powerful, only woman to be queen of both England and France - what a woman!

I have to confess to being fascinated by Eleanor and even just the smallest of glimpses of her in a novel make me extremely happy!

Others that I thought about mentioning for a variety of reasons:

Claire Randall from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

Tatiana from The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons

Amelia Peabody from the Amelia Peabody series by Barbara Peters

Eve Dallas from the In Death series by J D Robb

Surely it's no coincidence that these strong and fascinating women have equally strong and fascinating men in their lives?? Just in these cases the author manages to give both characters balance in their books!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about.

If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine-year-old boy called Bruno. (Though this isn't a book for nine-year-olds.) And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence.

Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to encounter such a fence.

I actually finished reading this book about 3 weeks ago, but every time I sat down to think about writing a review I was really undecided about what I was going to write about.

The main reason for this is that in discussing even the basics of the plot, you will be giving away major pieces of information about the book itself, and by even knowing just those small things the reading experience will be changed. That is quite unusual in itself because normally you can at least give some details of setting, time frame, basic plot details etc without giving too much away, but with this book you really can't.

There were several times during this YA novel that I had moments where I suddenly got whatever it was I was reading about. For example, it took me about 30 pages to realise exactly what the perspective was that the story was being told from. That may well be a little slower than some readers, but given that the last book I read about a similar time frame had some details in it that I 'thought' might be related to what I was reading about, I am not going to beat myself up about it.

Ultimately, this was a very powerful novel, despite the fact that it is only 180 pages long. There are surprises littered throughout - surprising friendships, surprising discoveries and definitely a surprising ending.

There were times that certain aspects of the writing style got a little irritating - there was a particular phrase that was used to describe the main character's older sister over and over again. As long as you can allow those few flaws to be overlooked, this is a short, emotionally packed young adult story that adults can be challenged by and enjoy.

This is definitely a book to be added to your To Be Read list.

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Maw Books
Blue Archipelago
Books Love Me
Melody's Reading Corner
Out of the Blue
A Reader's Respite

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

At a cafe table in Lahore, a Pakistani man begins the tale that has led to his fateful meeting with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful meeting....

Changez is living an immigrant's dream of America. Top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by Underwood Samson, an elite firm that specializes in the 'valuation' of companies ripe for acquisition. He thrives on the energy of New York and the intensity of his work, and his infatuation with the elegant, beautiful America promises entry into the Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back home in Lahore.

For a time, it seems as though nothing will stand in the way of Changez's meteoric rise to personal and professional success. But in the wake of September 11, he finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned, and his budding relationship with Erica eclipsed by the reawakened ghosts of her past. And Changez's own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power and maybe even love.

With echoes of Camus and Fitzgerald, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a riveting, devastating exploration of our divided yet ultimately indivisible world.

I can not tell you how surprised I am at how much I really loved this book especially given the way that the story itself is told.

The main character Changez offers assistance to an unnamed American tourist one afternoon. After shepherding the tourist to a small cafe, so begins a long afternoon/evening where Changez tells his tale. The interactions with the other characters are only show as they are reflected through Changez's own speech. At no time do we hear from the tourist, or the waiter or any of the other characters of whom we generally only see fleeting glimpses.

The story that Changez tells is one of searching for identity and belonging and love. Changez had spent many years in America studying at Princeton, getting top grades and eventually recruited to one of the most sought after jobs following graduation. Everything is going well for Changez. Not only does he have the job of his dreams, earning loads of cash, travelling first class, but he is also falling in love with the beautiful Erica who introduces him to the creme de la creme of New York society.

Then comes 9/11, and while at first there is little change for Changez gradually he begins to look at the implications of the political decisions that are made, and wonder about his own identity in relation to these events. He also begins to understand that Erica's seemingly confident grace is a barely there shell over a fragmented and tortured psyche.

As he tells the stranger his story and they share a meal and drinks, we get to see small glimpses of clues about what kind of man it is that Changez is dining with and what he might be doing in Lahore, but a lot of the information we are given is implied rather than presented to the reader on a platter.

The fact that all 180 pages of this book are portraying this one meeting, and that there is so little interaction and clarity around the other characters would normally be something that would drive me nuts, but in this authors capable hands, there was no question of impatience on my part. I was prepared to let the details unfurl at precisely the speed that the author was ready to reveal them and to savour the skill involved in telling such a strong story from such a limited perspective.

Quite often books that are nominated for prizes can be a bit inaccessible and can feel like something of a labour to get through, but not this one! Every now and again there is a gem that is profound and yet completely readable, and this is one such case.

Totally loved it!

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Bold. Blue. Adventure


Bloglines is down or it is VERY quiet in blogland!

Or maybe it is that everyone else in the world has something better to do than I do!

It's Done Now

If I have inadvertently left anyone off the blogroll, please let me know and I will fix it straight away.

I don't know why I always leave this things to so late at night, but it is now nearly 12.30 in the morning and it is time for me to sleep!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Courting the Countess by Barbara Pierce

A scoundrel whose fame as an artist, libertine, and notorious seducer of beautiful women is ongoing fodder for the ton, Mallory Claeg has a secret obsession-Brook Meylan, Lady A'Court, a beautiful widow who abandoned London two years earlier, deliberately severing all ties to her past. Under the pretense of his interest in the primitive landscape of the Cornish coast, Mallory watches her, fascinated and utterly mesmerized by her beauty...

Brook tried to escape the gilded cage of the ton's merciless gossip, the memory of a cruel husband, and the pity of well meaning friends. But meddling relatives and unwanted suitors shatter her peace. At first, Mallory Claeg was another intrusion. Yet his sinfully handsome face and irresistible charm bring both temptation and torment. Now Brook must choose between opening her heart-or sealing it off forever...

This author was Author of the Month for November in the HistoricalRomanceChat group that I belong to. Prior to that I had seen her name around but had never had any inclination to pick up anything by her. And it seems that that inking was with good reason!

What happens when an author gets one thing really right in a book, but the rest just doesn't do it for you. Well for me, it means that the book ends up being really, really average!

Brook Meylan, Lady A'Court has been living out in the country away from the ton, after there was a huge scandal surrounding her husband's early demise. Her family is now trying to convince her to return to the bright lights of London, and her husband's heir, his cousin, is trying to convince her to become his bride. Brook has said that she will not marry anyone, leaving her unwanted suitor a little vexed.

One day, as she is walking along the cliffs near her home she meets notorious rake and artist Mallory Claeg. Over a period of months Brook and Mallory begin to have a friendship, that explodes into passion, usually played out in out of the way locations in woods and things like that.

The romance between Brook and Mallory would have been fine by itself, but instead there is so much back story here that the heart of the novel gets a little lost. Both Brook and Mallory have terrible secrets from their past - hers in the past treatment by her husband, loss of her child, and the ongoing treatment by her mother in law. Mallory is also carrying the memories of how his first wife died. In addition, every time we were introduced to characters from earlier books in the series (which I haven't read) there was inevitably their emotional baggage to be sorted through. Too much!

For a while it wasn't clear exactly who the villain of the piece was going to be. In the end it was someone from his past, but Brook's suitor certainly seemed to be a likely candidate for a little while there. And then there was the figure from Mallory's past, but it could well have been his harridan of a former mistress as well.

The first thing that really threw me in this book was the names - Brook and Mallory. Maybe it was just the mood I was in, but for me Brook is definitely not a name for a historical romance (too many Bold and the Beautiful connotations) and Mallory...well enough said!

From the epilogue it does seem as though there was meant to be a further book in this series, but from what I can tell it was never written. That in itself closes the book on a strange note too.

Actually, of everything in the novel, Mallory was the thing I liked most. Whilst he was most definitely a rake-like character, he also had a sense of purpose, a sense of passion for something outside of himself, and I had no doubt that he had fallen for Brook completely - as to why....well, I never really felt very strongly about Brook myself, so I just couldn't see it, but to be fair, I have said here on numerous occasions that I am all about the hero when it comes to romances!

One other thing that is relatively positive - the cover is very definitely representative of a scene in the novel, which isn't always the case.

This is the only book by this author that my library currently has. There would have to be a lot of buzz around the place for me to even think about handing over my hard earned for any of her other books.

Book Giveaway: Joshilyn Jackson's The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

I have been meaning to try reading Joshilyn Jackson's books for years, but never quite managed to get onto it! Maybe winning it will be the shove that I need. You too can win it by visiting Dee's Book Dish and participating in a couple of contests!

Laurel Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty, whether she's helping her mother make sure the very literal family skeleton stays buried or turning scraps of fabric into nationally acclaimed art quilts. Her estranged sister Thalia, an impoverished Actress with a capital A, is her polar opposite, priding herself on exposing the lurid truth lurking behind middle class niceties. While Laurel's life seems neat and on track--a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, and a lovely home in suburban Victorianna--everything she holds dear is suddenly thrown into question the night she is visited by the ghost of a her 14-year old neighbor Molly Dufresne.

The ghost leads Laurel to the real Molly floating lifelessly in the Hawthorne's backyard pool. Molly's death is inexplicable--an unseemly mystery Laurel knows no one in her whitewashed neighborhood is up to solving. Only her wayward, unpredictable sister is right for the task, but calling in a favor from Thalia is like walking straight into a frying pan protected only by Crisco. Enlisting Thalia's help, Laurel sets out on a life-altering journey that triggers startling revelations about her family's guarded past, the true state of her marriage, and the girl who stopped swimming.

Non-Fiction All the Way?

Now there's a post title I would NEVER have expected to see on my blog!

Gautami has started a new meme about non-fiction, and I have had it sitting in my draft for about a week! I am so sorry that I didn't get to this earlier Gautami.

What issues/topic interests you most--non-fiction, i.e, cooking, knitting, stitching, theatre infinite topics that has nothing to do with novels?

For me, I am most likely pick up books about history, cooking or biographies/autobiographies/memoirs. Actually, when it comes to cooking I am most likely to buy magazines, and never actually get around to reading them but I am partial to a beautiful looking cookbook as well.

Would you like to review books concerning those?

In theory, if I read the book, I review them, although you all know that I am notoriously behind in my reviews! I am keeping up to date with the ones that I am currently reading but not making much impact on the backlog I have.

Would you like to be paid or do it as interest or hobby? Tell reasons for what ever you choose.

Whilst it would be nice to be paid to review, many of my reviews are purely based on my gut reactions to what I read and therefore can be changeable which I don't think bodes well for doing it professionally. In terms of being paid, I am still at the point where I am thrilled when I receive a package contains free books, so I am still happy with that for the time being. If anyone wants to give me money as well I am all open for that too!

Would you recommend those to your friends and how?

Mostly word of mouth. Luckily the girl I sit next to at work is a reader too, so we often have a chat about a variety of things including what we are reading, books we have loved etc.

If you have already done something like this, link it to your post.

Here's a link to everything that I have tagged as non fiction on my blog.

Please don't forget to link back here or whoever tags you.

Given that most people have already done this (again, sorry for being so slack!) I am not going to specifically tag anyone, but if you are interested please feel free to do it!

Top 50 Children's Books

A UK charity called Booktrust recently surveyed 4000 people to ascertain what the top 50 kids books were. Here are the results (with kudos to Daily Mail)

1. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
3. Famous Five, Enid Blyton
4. Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne
5. The BFG, Roald Dahl
6. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
7. The Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
8. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
9. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
10. The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson
11. The Tales of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter
12. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
13. Matilda, Roald Dahl
14. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
15. The Cat in the Hat, Dr Seuss
16. The Twits, Roald Dahl
17. Mr Men, Roger Hargreaves
18. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
19. The Malory Towers series, Enid Blyton
20. Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie
21. The Railway Children, E. Nesbit
22. Hans Christian Fairy Tales, H.C. Andersen
23, The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
24. The Witches, Roald Dahl
25. Stig of the Dump, Clive King
26. The Wishing Chair, Enid Blyton
27. Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell
28. The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Judith Kerr
29. Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jan Brett
30. James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
31. A Bear Called Paddington, Michael Bond
32. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
33. Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
34. Aesop's Fables, Jerry Pinkney
35. The Borrowers, Mary Norton
36. Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling
37. Meg and Mog, Jan Pienkowski
38. Mrs Pepperpot, Alf Proysen
39. We're Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen
40. The Gruffalo's Child, Julia Donaldson
41. Room on a Broom, Julia Donaldson
42. The Worst Witch, Jill Murphy
43. Miffy, Dick Bruna
44. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
45. Flat Stanley, Jeff Brown
46. The Snail and the Whale, Julia Donaldson
47. Ten Little Ladybirds, Melanie Gerth
48. Six Dinners Sid, Inga Moore
49. The St. Clare's series, Enid Blyton
50. Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey

My favourite kids books were the Magic Faraway Tree books and the Wishing Chair books by Enid Blyton. When I was young reading was all about escape for me, and what better way to escape than to be able to go to different lands on adventures.

When I was a little older it was Trixie Belden books - but that is because I had a thing for Jim!

Are your favourite kids books on the list?

BTW, I have already posted this video once this month, but seeing as it is number 45 on the could I resist??

ETA - The Flat Stanley video has been removed from Youtube, so instead I bring you I'm Not Going Out There!

Island in the Sea of Time by S M Stirling

During a perfect spring evening on Nantucket a violent storm erupts and a dome of crawling, colored fire blankets the island. When the howling winds subside and the night skies clear, the stars appear to have shifted. The mainland has become a wilderness of unbroken forest, where tools of bronze and stone litter the beaches, and primitive natives scatter in terror.

A startling phenomenon has occurred: The island of Nantucket has been swept into the long-ago past. With its inhabitants adrift in the year 1250 B.C., there is only question to be answered: Can they survive?

A provocative and endlessly inventive spin on the classic adventure story. Island in the Sea of Time takes you on a journey of wonder, discovery and imagination.

I first heard about this book on one of the forums that I frequent, when some members started talking about the trilogy, and I thought I would give them a go even though science fiction/alternative history is not really my thing. I don't mind a bit of time travel occasionally though, although travel sort of indicates to me that there is some kind of onward (or return) journey after the initial travel, which for the characters there really isn't in terms of time at least.

My decision to request this book from the library was sort of endorsed when not long after Carl V announced The Sci-Fi Experience and I decided to participate by reading this book.

So I'll start by talking about my experience. I will confess that I struggled a little bit with the reading of this book. At 600 pages long it is a chunkster and so it would have normally taken me at least 4 days to get through at the best of times, but this time it took me well over a week. I think part of the reason for that is that this was a book that had lots of technical jargon and descriptions within the text. It wasn't too bad first thing in the morning when I was awake, but in the afternoons coming home on the train, I really struggled to get through certain sections within the book. I kept on losing track and getting distracted from reading, which doesn't happen all that often.

I do now find myself wondering what my sci-fi experience would have been like had I read a book by a female author, because to me, as I read this book, it was very obvious to me that this was a book written by a man. There are three main romantic relationships that happen within the book, and all of those were practically instantaneous developments. There was also lots of description about creating usable weapons and salvaging items from the 2oth century and making them usable in the new now, body armour and the like, lots of martial arts talk and plenty of battles. Not that you don't get those things in books by female authors, just that maybe the ratio of time spent describing those things would be different.

One of the things that I did find myself wondering is about how book genres are decided. This book, for example, hinges on one event that is completely unexplainable at this point in the series (so is that what makes it sci-fi?) but then for the most part it seemed to me to be something of an alternate history, a story of human endurance and flexibility in terms of being able to survive, and exploration (albeit made easy by the fact that the characters had 3000 years of history at their fingertips). So was it the time travel element that made this sci-fi, and if so does that mean that time travel romances are sci-fi, or perhaps time travel is only one aspect and it really depends on what else is in the book.

The whole premise of the book hinges on the fact that one night there was some kind of unusual electrical storm and suddenly the whole island of Nantucket plus some of the waters around it, is thrown back in time to 1250BC. Luckily there is an astrologer on the island who is able to calculate this for them, along with a Professor of Classical history and just the right people with handy hobbies that will definitely help the marooned island to survive and eventually maybe to prosper. The chief of police quickly becomes the leader, with the role of military leader taken over by the captain of the US Coast Guard who was caught up in the Event as well. As time passes a rudimentary governing system must be agreed on and implemented with more solid hierarchical structures required later to enhance the stability of the economy and the relationships within island life.

When a flight over to the mainland confirms that where the city of Boston should be there is nothing but forest, people on the island begin to comprehend what has happened to them. Their most immediate concern is how to survive - how to produce food and keep whatever resources they have available to them (like fuel and electricity) going for as long as possible.

Once it becomes clear that there is no way known that the island can support all the people on it, the leaders know that they are going to have to start trading and that they are also going to need to do things like start outposts in some far off places so that they can get what they need - for example, they know that in order to have salt that they are going to have to have people harvesting natural salt flats in Central America as there is no way to get any from the island itself.

One of the major issues though is that any exposure to other peoples brings major risk - exposure to 20th century diseases that could wipe out single tribes in a matter of days, difficulties in communicating in unknown languages that could lead to war as easily as friendship, and how does everything they do affect the history that has already been but not already been....if you know what I mean.

Within the group of island people there is inevitably dissent for whatever reasons, and there are also people who want to take certain steps for their own purposes. After the Americans manage to do some trading with some people in what is now Southern England, one of the more ambitious and morally suspect members of the crew decides that he wants to set himself up as a kind of warlord, using the advantages that he has in terms of 20th century technology that can be applied to various aspects of life, most particular in the way the tribes of the area fight wars, and much of the drama in the novel is based around the confrontation between good and bad.

There are moments of genuine fun sprinkled throughout the novel - at one point as he rides into battle, the bad guy breaks into a chorus of Bad to the Bone - completely nonsensical to all the tribesman around him, with the exception of those of the modern day characters that followed him to the dark side, willingly or otherwise.

A lot of the characters are somewhat two-dimensional, and some of the relationships are a little cliched, but overall it's an interesting exercise in the what-if line of conjecture.

I am planning to read the next book in the trilogy, so perhaps my summary should be something along the lines of reading this book didn't make me want to say I am never reading sci-fi again, so that's a positive thing right?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley

After years of preparation, he has baited his trap well, luring the depraved members of Society into his devil's playground so he can earn their trust and uncover their secrets.

Yet no one in London suspects that Lord Lucien Knight is England's most cunning spy, an officer who has sacrificed his soul for his country. Now an unexpected intruder has invaded his fortress of sin, jeopardizing his carefully laid plans - and igniting his deepest desires.

Beautiful, innocent Alice Montague finds herself at the mercy of scandalous Lord Lucien. But as he begins his slow seduction to corrupt her virtue, Alice glimpses a man tormented by his own choices, a man who promises her nothing but his undeniable passion...

This book is the second book in the Knight Miscellany series by Gaelen Foley. With the first book in the series (The Duke) I apparently quite liked it when I read it, but couldn't remember a darned thing about it when it came to writing the review. Even when I was reading this book, there would be a mention about Robert and Belinda, and I seriously could remember very little. I have to say...there is not much chance of not being able to remember this book.

Gaelen Foley has written a historical romance that features spies the way spy romances should be written. Many times it feel as though the spies that we meet in romances are spy drama - the lite version, but that was definitely not the case here.

Lucien Knight has captured my imagination - the man is everything I like my heroes to be. Dark, tortured (literally), struggling with the darker side of himself whilst falling deeply in love with his heroine. The fact that he basically blackmailed Alice to stay with him, and tried to then corrupt her only to suddenly find that he wanted more than he thought he did from her was well done, and the scene where he finds himself unburdening himself to Alice, stepping out from the facade of invincible spy was really well written.

Alice has a few moments that border on TSTL - if I was in a strange house, the very first thing I would do is to follow the crowds who are all hiding their identities, get into a boat and follow a stream, and then stay in the midst of what would appear to be an orgy. Other than those moments, she was definitely a match for Lucien, prepared to walk away from him when he will not be honest with her, despite knowing that she could well be ruined, and would be totally heartbroken.

The villain in this one was definitely not cardboard cut out as so many romance novel villains are, and there were definite consequences for all the characters as the events unfolded.

i can't wait to read the story of Lucien's twin brother, Damien. I loved reading about the relationship between the brothers - estranged by circumstance and choice but still connected to each other in many, many ways.

If you like historical romance novels that feature dashing and daring spies, then this one could well be worth a read.


This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And why?

I don't buy a lot of hardcovers, and I do buy a lot of mass market paperbacks, but it is the larger size trade paperbacks that are my favourites. They aren't so heavy to carry around in my handbag as hardcovers, and are a bit better quality than the smaller, cheaper paperbacks.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Two Elm Creek Quilt reviews

When Christmas Eve comes to Elm Creek Manor, the tenor of the holiday is far from certain. Sylvia Bergstrom Compson, the Master Quilter, has her own reasons for preferring a quiet, even subdued, Christmas. Her young friend Sarah McClure, however, takes the opposite view and decides to deck the halls brightly. As she explores the trunks packed with Bergstrom family decorations that haven't been touched in more than fifty years, Sarah discovers a curious Christmas quilt. Begun in seasonal fabrics and patterns, the quilt remains unfinished.

Sylvia reveals that the handiwork spans several generations and a quartet of Bergstrom quilters — her great aunt, her mother, her sister, and herself. As she examines the array of quilt blocks each family member contributed but never completed, memories of Christmases past emerge.

At Elm Creek Manor, Christmas began as a celebration of simple virtues — joy and hope buoyed by the spirit of giving. As each successive generation of Bergstroms lived through its unique trials — the antebellum era, the Great Depression, World War II — tradition offered sustenance even during the most difficult times. For Sylvia, who is coping with the modern problem of family dispersed, estranged, or even forgotten, reconciliation with her personal history may prove as elusive as piecing the Christmas Quilt.

Elm Creek Manor is full of secrets, from a Christmas tree with unusual properties to the sublime Bergstrom strudel recipe. Sylvia's tales at first seem to inform her family legacy but ultimately illuminate far more, from the importance of women's art to its place in commemorating our shared experience, at Christmastime and in every season.
I must confess that I do much prefer my Elm Creek Quilts novels to be historically based, rather than the present day ones because the present day novels can tend to be a little sickly sweet and are heavily oriented towards women's fiction, whereas the historical ones are more story oriented if that makes sense.

This one is a bit of both, more so than most of the previous books have been, and for me as a reader it didn't really work. It doesn't help that the setting of this book is Christmas past and present, which as a subject can get a bit preachy at the best of times. It also didn't help that this book actually appears to have been published out of chronological order in relation to the other books that have contemporary settings within the series.

The Christmas past aspects of the story were quite charming, as Sylvia shares some of the Bergstrom family traditions, from the choosing of the Christmas tree each year, to the making of the famous strudel, and to the breaking of the treasured family Christmas tree topper. Along with the pleasant memories though are the not so pleasant memories of Christmas past - the arguments and the estrangements between family members, some of which were never to be rectified.

In the present perspective, Sylvia is trying to deal with the repercussions of her decision to marry Andrew, and the difficulties that that has presented within his family. Meanwhile Sarah is quite stubborn in her refusal to make amends with her own mother, much to Sylvia's disappointment.

Contrasting the ways of the past with the ways of the present could have been very interesting, but in this case it was just a bit lack lustre.

Elm Creek Quilts, the thriving artists' retreat stakes its sterling reputation on the palpable creative energy and collective goodwill of its teachers and students. But when two of its founding members decide to leave the fold, the Elm Creek Quilters face untold change. Who can possibly take their place?

Among the candidates are Maggie, whose love of history shines through in all her projects; Chef Anna, whose food-themed quilts are wonderfully innovative; Russ, the male quilter whose pathbreaking style could lend Elm Creek Quilts an intriguing aesthetic departure; Karen, a novice teacher whose preternatural gifts complement her deep understanding of the quilters' mission; and Gretchen, the soulful veteran with a legacy steeped in quilting tradition.

Cherished memories resurface and inspiring visions take shape in careful deliberations. Only by understanding the meaning of what their own labors have wrought can they select the ones who have earned a place among the Circle of Quilters.

I can't remember which book it was in, but at the end of one of the previous books in the series, two members of the Elm Creek Quilts group have decided to move on, so an open call goes out to offer quilters an opportunity to join the team. This book focuses on five of the applicants, telling us their background, how they learned about the vacancy. We then share their journey to Elm Creek and their interviews for the position, including small moments of interaction between each of the applicants as they cross paths either before or after the interview.

I guess what the author was striving for with this book was really background to the new members so that when they appear in future books there is no need to really introduce them again. Other than that this book really doesn't move the series forward at all.

The first person we are introduced to is Maggie. She works in aged care and is introduced to the world of quilting when she finds an old quilt at a garage sale. She begins to research the history of the quilt that she bought, and gradually begins to recreate panels, eventually beginning to teach quilting based on the traditional blocks in her quilt.

Next up is Anna. She works in the food services area of the local college, and is good at what she does. In her spare time she quilts. She has tried very hard not to bring food patterns into her quilting but what's a girl to do when there is so much beautiful food about. One thing she could do is get rid of her academic boyfriend who seems to feel that Anna is inferior because she is not academic at all.

Russell started quilting quite late in life - and is a minority figure in that he is a man who quilts. He is also not as constrained by many of the traditional aspects of quilting.

The fourth contender is Karen. She is a stay-at-home mum who is feeling unappreciated and undervalued and who decides that getting a part time job at Elm Creek could be just the thing she needs to be able to feel as though she is happier.

The final contender is Gretchen - a life-long quilter who is a partner in a quilt shop. Only problem is the other partner is a bit of a bitch frankly, and is undermining Gretchen any way she can. Gretchen is thinking that a change of location is just what she and her husband need and maybe this is the perfect opportunity for her.

Of all the contenders the story that I was most affected by was Russ' but then again, it doesn't take much to get me emotionally involved to the point of tears! Chiaverini takes great care to ensure that all her story lines are nice and tidy by the end of the book and each of the new characters gets to be happy by the end, even though obviously not all of them will end up with the job at Elm Creek.

One other comment - one of the existing members of the group was a woman named Diane who has featured in earlier stories in the series. She is never my favourite character, but I really wanted to slap her during this book! Of course, so did some of the other characters, but please, let her not be such a conniving bitch in the next books!

I don't quilt, and I don't really have any inclination to start any time soon, but I have for the most part enjoyed the whole series. It does seem to me though that the series is losing a bit of impetus, which is disappointing.

6 Unimportant Things About Me!

Kris from The Reading Spot has tagged me for a meme.

The rules are:

1. Link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share six unimportant things about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your blog entry.
5. Let the tagged people know by leaving a comment on their blogs.

I have never read Jane Austen. Don't ask me why...just haven't.

Whenever I see a mention of a book that sounds the slightest bit interesting I add it to my TBR list. Sometimes, if it sounds very interesting, I will add every book by that author to my TBR list. My TBR list currently has 2134 items on it!

I am REALLY bad at opening my mail...unless it is obviously a book or from a friend!

I have been bungee jumping, jet boating and white water rafting.

I work for a church based charity. Whilst I don't swear at home at all (okay....very rarely) I swear like a trooper at work!

The first thing I do in the morning when I get up, and as soon as I get home from work is check my emails, groups and favourite blogs. Then, after dinner I will visit read through all the rest of my blogfeeds. I spend far too much time online!

Now...who to tag! Lots of people have already done this, but how about Daphne, Teddy Rose, Zeek, Ana, Rhinoa and....You!

100+ Reading Challenge

J. Kaye is host the 100+ Reading Challenge - read 100 books in one year.

In the past I have exceeded this amount, so I think that this is a reachable target for me. So far, in this calendar year, I am reading books number 26 and 27, and listening to book 28.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Well that was a waste of time!

Every six months or so, I go through a phase when I decide that I want to change my blog template. I spend hours and hours looking through templates to see if I can find the perfect one. As a result of being completely paranoid about buggering everything up I have a private test blog so that I can see what everything is going to look like before I update it.

On Friday night around 8.30pm, even though I was exhausted from a week's work, I decided that it was a perfect time to actually install a new template. A long time I had decided that I really want a three column template and I found one, which although not 100% what I wanted, I liked a fair bit, so I start the download process.

First problem - did the download, but when I did a preview it looked completely stuffed. Go back and read the instructions and realise that there is the way I did it, and then there is the proper way, which includes changing over to Blogger Beta. No worries...

Second problem - the designer of the template quite fairly is asking for people who use the templates to host the images on their own account. Try uploading them into Photobucket, which is fine except for the javascript and icon thingies. Back to instructions and notice that it says to host them on your own Google page. Fine.

Third problem - In order to have a Googlepage you have to a GMail account. Fine...I'll sign up for a Gmail account

Fourth problem - Once I figure out how to load the pictures onto the googlepage account all is going well, until I realise that I cannot figure out how to get that page to host the javascript and icons.


Find a second template that loads like a dream into the test blog, but thing it might be a bit plain so decide against it.

Find another template. It downloads easily, no worries about hosting pictures etc etc. Decide that I will take the opportunity to clean up my links - take out a few, add a few, reorganise sections - add all the page elements that I want. In order to add all the links I sit there and add every single one of them individually.

Look at the test blog and think...yep....happy with that. Note the time as being 12.10am and think, well it won't take very long to copy the codes over into the actual blog will it?

Copy said code to the blog, press publish and then voila!

Only one problem.....even though I went and added all the content in the page elements in the test blog, it doesn't transfer over to this blog. In order to get them all on this blog I would have to readd them all individually again. At this point I notice that it doesn't have the Blogger Dashboard thing up the top of the page, which I use all the time, so that was that!

12.45am - I KNEW this was a bad idea....stomp, stomp, pout.

So I am stuck with this one for a while I guess. I am certainly tempted to get a professional to do it if I really want to change my template again!

And as the icing on the blogger crappy cake...Now that I have a gmail account Blogger won't send any comments or anything to the email account that I normally use. It is sending it all to the Gmail account instead. When I look in settings it gives me the option to delete my normal email account but not the Gmail account!



Jodie had this up on her blog - I can honestly say that I would never paint that...then again....I don't paint! LOL!!

Click here to create your own painting.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What Be Your Nerd Type?

I'm shocked.....shocked I tell you!

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.

It's okay. I understand.

Social Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Drama Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Anime Nerd
Artistic Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

Saw this at Bonnie's and given how many questions there were felt that it was the least I could do to actually post the results.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

After the Honeymoon

This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

I had a post ready for today, but I liked this suggestion from Chris even better, so … thanks, Chris!

Here’s something for Valentine’s Day.

Have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite author? Was the last book you read by the author so bad, you broke up with them and haven’t read their work since? Could they ever lure you back?

You know...I don't think there is really! The thing with me is that if I enjoyed a few books by an author and then I start not really enjoying them, then I will still keep reading them because there is a chance that the next book will be the just as good as the ones that I did enjoy! I have a similar reason when I keep reading a book even if I am not really enjoying it - it could start to get really good in the next 10-15 pages!

The keep on reading an author regardless is especially true if I am part way through a series. Even if I am hating it, I find it really difficult to not read a series until the very end. The only time I can think of that this wasn't the case is if the series is one that I was borrowing books from the library to read, but then in order to keep reading I would start having to buy the books myself. One of the few things that is worse than giving up a series part way through is only owning bits and pieces of a series!

Loved the question this week!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Two Kelley Armstrong reviews

Another two reviews in one post! If nothing else it means I will get caught up on the reviews for series I am reading!

Meet the smart, sexy — supernatural — women of the otherworld. This is not your mother’s coven...

Kelley Armstrong returns with the eagerly awaited follow-up to Dime Store Magic. Paige Winterbourne, a headstrong young woman haunted by a dark legacy, is now put to the ultimate test as she fights to save innocents from the most insidious evil of all.. . .

In the aftermath of her mother’s murder, Paige broke with the elite, ultraconservative American Coven of Witches. Now her goal is to start a new Coven for a new generation. But while Paige pitches her vision to uptight thirty-something witches in business suits, a more urgent matter commands her attention.

Someone is murdering the teenage offspring of the underworld’s most influential Cabals — a circle of families that makes the mob look like amateurs. And none is more powerful than the Cortez Cabal, a faction Paige is intimately acquainted with. Lucas Cortez, the rebel son and unwilling heir, is none other than her boyfriend. But love isn’t blind, and Paige has her eyes wide open as she is drawn into a hunt for an unnatural-born killer. Pitted against shamans, demons, and goons, it’s a battle chilling enough to make a wild young woman grow up in a hurry. If she gets the chance.

I am not 100 percent sure why, but I always seem to forget exactly how much I enjoy these books. Even as the books start I find myself wondering why I am continuing with the series, and yet by the end of the book I am really eager to get the next book and see what happens. These two books proved to be no exception to that.

Paige and Lucas are now living together in Portland, Oregon and Paige is trying to create a new coven of witches - women who are willing to learn more powerful magic and who are willing to be part of something less structured and formal than the more traditional witches coven. The fact that Paige is living with a sorcerer (mortal enemy of witches) who also happens to be the estranged son of one of the most powerful cabal families (think organised sorcery instead of organised crime)) and she has almost no hope of getting her new coven off of the ground.

As always Lucas' father Benicio is trying to be a part of his life - and now that that includes Paige he is definitely interested in meeting her as well. Unfortunately, other family members are not so keen on seeing either Paige or Lucas. When someone, or something, starts killing the children of the various Cabal leaders, Benicio asks Lucas to investigate and to get justice for the murdered kids.

Many of the characters from earlier books are back including Elena and Clayton, the vampire Cassandra and others, and also what seems like a major new character by the name of Jaime Vegas. I know that she featured a lot in Haunted, and I am very much looking forward to reading her book!

Whenever I finish one of these books I am almost surprised by how much I enjoyed them, and this one is no exception. Paige and Lucas are great as a couple, and despite a slow beginning to their relationship in the previous book I totally see them together now!

Former supernatural superpower Eve Levine has broken all the rules. But she's never broken a promise - not even during the three years she's spent in the afterworld. So when the Fates call in a debt she gave her word she'd pay, she has no choice but to comply.

For centuries one of the ghost world's wickedest creatures has been loosed on humanity, thwarting every attempt to retrieve her. Now it has fallen to Eve to capture this demi-demon known as the Nix, who inhabits the bodies of would-be killers, compelling them to complete their deadly acts. It'a mission that becomes all too personal when the Nix targets those Eve loves most - including Savannah, the daughter she left on earth. But can a renegade witch succeed where a host of angels have failed?
One of the smartest things that Kelley Armstrong has done in relation to this series is that she doesn't limit the characters to just any one type of paranormal group - we've had books on werewolves, we've had a bit of focus on witches and sorcerers, and this time the focus is on ghosts, angels and demons, with undercurrents of witchcraft and sorcery as well.

This time there was another level to that variety - with the vast majority of the action taking place in the ghost realm, and not on earth, there really were not too many rules that had to be followed in terms of the characters actions. For example, do you want your characters to have to dress up as pirates in one scene and then not long after send them to Alaska - go right ahead. There's nothing to say that you can't do that! Want to have your main characters scare the crap out of some mean boy ghosts - absolutely! Want to send your main character to a really creepy village filled with crazy homicidal killers and have her be chased by said killers - sure....why not. And yet, with all this freedom Armstrong never seemed to forget the purpose for putting her characters in these places. They were fun interludes within the book (well maybe not the homicidal village) but they definitely moved the story forward.

Eve has always been the kind of witch who did things her way. Not for her the minor magic practiced by the covens - she had gone dark, and had learned many of the much more powerful spells of sorcerers. She always was a bit different from the other witches anyway, given that she was a half demon as well. After death, she really was no different. She was not the kind of ghost who would spend time studying to understand the world that she had now become part of. Her main goal was to be able to have some meaningful interaction with her daughter Savannah and most importantly to try and protect her. For three years she has been unsuccessful but that doesn't mean that she won't keep on trying.

Then the Three Fates decide to give Eve a task to complete - she needs to catch the Nix - a demon that can inhabit human bodies and encourage or drive them to commit heinous crimes. The Nix has almost been caught before, and the Fates think that Eve is just the woman to try again - despite enormous risk to herself. Suddenly Eve has to take a crash course in the ways of the ghost realms. Luckily she has Kris to help her as well as an angel called Trsiel - I really hope that we see more of him in future books! What the Fates haven't told Eve is that there is another agenda behind giving her this task, and that the price of success may be one that she is not willing to pay.

At first, I was a little nonplussed by the relationship between Eve and Kris. I understood that they had a shared past on Earth, and that Kris already knew that he wanted Eve back, but for a large part of the book he seemed a little bit like a lapdog (imagine how horrified a sorcerer who comes from one of the biggest cabals in the world would be to hear me say that!). Eve would need assistance, and Kris would come running. Gradually though, I understood that Kris really wanted Eve to get to the point where she would come to him. Kris has his limits though - and one of these is that Eve really needs to let go of her obsession with Savannah.

I did think though that the very end was a little bit of a cop-out in that as the Fates were slowly divulging more and more information about their proposed plan for Eve that Armstrong found herself painted into a corner with no way of getting a resolution for Eve and Kristoff and getting the ending that she wanted. What will be interesting is to see whether the compromise that was reached is used in future books!

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Romance Rookie


Today was quite a momentous day in Australian political history. For the first time, the government has apologised for removing many Aboriginal from their families and placing them either in institutions or with white families. This has been quite a contentious issue for a long time, and it is seemly that this time has come to acknowledge the wrongs that were done. Below is the text of the apology delivered by our Prime Minister in parliament today to the Stolen Generation.

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.

Now the major thing is how are we going to move forward. This is a great first step, but there is much, much more to be done.

Image from

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts

This is the first book in the Sign of Seven trilogy.

Caleb Hawkins can never forget what happened at The Pagan Stone twenty-one years ago - and neither can Hawkins Hollow. For every seven years in July, the locals do unspeakable things, and then don't remember them. The collective madness has given the town the reputation of a village possessed, and draws reporter and author Quinn Black. Cal, descendant of the town founders, has agreed to talk to her. It is only February, but he has already sensed the stirrings of evil. The signs have never been this strong before. He will need help, from his best friends Fox and Gage, and from Quinn.

I want to start this with a comment about the names or more precisely about one name - Quinn. I could have sworn that I have read a novel by Nora Roberts that had a character named Quinn it. I was sure that it was a male character (and I was pretty sure that it was in the last trilogy), and as I read this novel it really distracted me to think that an author would recycle a name in books that were published so closely together. Quite frankly, I should have known better than to doubt Nora Roberts - it was me that was an idiot! The vampire in the Circle trilogy was Cian (note...not Quinn), there were no main characters called Quinn in either Angel Falls, High Noon or The Three Fates, or in the In the Garden trilogy or the Born in Trilogy. The only thing I can think of is that I was getting confused with another character from another author's book maybe from the Sookie Stackhouse series (unlikely), or the other possibility is that I was getting muddled with the surname of the boys from the Chesapeake books by NR. (Mmmmm....Cam Quinn!) Whatever it was, it really bothered me all the way through this book.

So far I have enjoyed just about every Nora Roberts book I have read. I love the relationship that build between the hero and the heroine, I love the friendships between the other characters, I love the family dynamics. In some ways I wonder if I love the comfort of a Nora Roberts book. What I did feel this time though, was that I had read parts of this book before, most particularly in the Circle trilogy. We had a group of people coming together to fight a paranormal fight where they had to learn not only about each other. They become isolated from others, and basically have to learn to rely on themselves as they fight. They quickly and neatly pair off into couples who share either similar or complimentary skills or talents, and it certainly feels as though there was a showdown against the enemy at the end of this book, and I am expecting one in the next book, before there is the almighty showdown at the end of the trilogy.

And yet, this book is different in many ways as well. Where the aforementioned Circle trilogy was definitely a foray into the paranormal, this has more of a horror feel to it - both supernatural but with different elements. Even just in this book there were some truly horrible things happening to the characters and to the town. I can't wait to see what she has in mind for the next two books. Fortunately many of the people in the town cannot see what is really happening...otherwise real estate prices would be going way down really quickly!

Caleb, Fox and Gage are more than just best friends - they are blood brothers. Unfortunately when they swore their oath to each other at Pagan Rock in the woods near their hometown, they let loose an entity that visits again each seven years, causing a temporary madness to descent into their small hometown of Hawkins Hollow - a temporary madness that leads to death and chaos all round. With the next seventh anniversary almost upon them, the signs are already there that this is going to be the worst visitation yet.

Into this world comes Quinn Black. She is an author/writer who specialises in writing about those small towns that seem to be just a little off-centre, for whatever reason. Now, she wants to write about the events that happen each seven years in Hawkins Hollows.

The relationship between Quinn and Caleb is well characterised. I totally bought Caleb as someone who had in some ways held himself distant from love because he didn't want to take the risk of having someone in his life too precious to lose during that one strange week in July. In the trilogies I have previously read by Roberts there has usually been some sense of build up in the tension between at least one of the other couples, but I really didn't feel it all that much in this book. Maybe a little instant attraction between Gage and Cybil, but really not a lot between Fox and Layla. I am sure that that issue will be resolved in their own books!

Aside from the fact that I had name issues, I did really enjoy this book. The one downside now though is that I have to wait for months for the next book in the trilogy to come out. I really should have waited until they had all been published to read this!

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Passion for the Page

Monday, February 11, 2008

Two In Death reviews

If you only know how far behind I am in reviews......well, I think I have mentioned it once or twice so I won't go on with it this time, but seeing as I finished Interlude in Death today, I thought I should probably post something about the last In Death book that I finished back in November.

At the luxurious Roarke Palace Hotel, a maid walks into suite 4062 for the nightly turndown - and steps into her worst nightmare. A killer leaves her dead, strangled by a thin, silver wire. He's Sly Yost, a virtuoso of music and murder; a hit man for the elite. Lieutenant Eve Dallas knows him well. But in this twisted case, knowing the killer doesn't help solve the crime. Because there's someone else involved. Someone with a very personal motive. And Eve must face the terrifying possibility that the real target may, in fact, be her husband, Roarke...

For once, Eve should have a relatively easy case. Within hours of a young maid being murdered Eve knows exactly who the murderer is. What she doesn't know is why, and more particularly why he appears to be targetting people connected to Roarke. What does soon become clear is that at some point or another it is likely that Roarke is going to be one of the targets. So Eve needs to figure out how to stop a murderer, a man who seems to have the ability to come and go at will, before he gets to Roarke. Of course, Roarke being Roarke, he doesn't exactly start hiding. One of the more attractive things about Roarke is his supreme confidence in his abilities, whether they be to keep out of trouble, to be able to skirt around the edges of the law to get what he wants, or to take care of Eve. Not sure I would want to live with a man like that...but he is certainly ace to read about!

The gang is all here, Peabody and McNab, Feeney, Mavis. Amongst all the gruesome police procedural information, Robb still manages to make me laugh - especially at the antics of Peabody and McNab, and at Eve's reaction to the on-off relationship between them. The fact that Robb can do this throughout most of the In Death books is a real testament to ability to balance the crime and police aspects with the romance of the relationship between Eve and Roarke, the growing comraderie between the recurring characters and the necessary humour to stop the books from being bogged down and too clinical.

Added into the mix this time, a blast from the past in the form of Roarke's old friend, Mick, and we see a little more of the Roarke that owns nearly everything, more of the man who used to operate outside of the law but now has scaled back his operations in those kind of activities.

Another winner from J D Robb. Now I just need to start reading the books faster than she puts them out, which is a challenge in itself!

Number-one New York Times best-selling author Nora Roberts, writing as J.D. Robb, has taken romantic suspencse to an electrifying new level in her In Death series. Now she takes Lieutenant Eve Dallas off-planet, where she just might lose the man she loves....

Eve is resigned to the fact that she's been ordered to give a seminar at a police conference - and that she'll have to leave Earth to do it. But dedication to her job only goes so far, and when a legendary commander sets his sights on taking down her husband, Roarke, Eve will do everything in her power to stop him...

This is one of those books that was put out a few years ago, where you pay a small price for a novella that was previously published as part of an anthology but now it is being published by itself. I actually quite like these books when I get them from the library but I tell you what, the typeface in this one was tiny!

Given that the book was only 88 pages long I don't want to spend all time writing about what happened in the story, apart from to say that Nora Roberts/JD Robb has again done what she does best...write absorbing stories about fascinatingly complex characters, and makes many readers very happy.

Eve has been forced to give a speech at a crime fighting conference that just happens to be being held at one of Roarke's off world resorts. Roarke is hoping for an opportunity for a brief holiday while they are there, but firstly it takes Eve quite a while to recover from the inter planetary travel, and then, there is the body that is found in the hotel. It soon becomes clear that whoever the murderer is they are trying to frame Roarke. The fact that one of the legends of the force has decided that he is going to bring down Roarke once and for all can't be anything more than a coincidence can it?

There is quite a bit of discussion in this story about the relationship between fathers and their children, in particular their sons, which certainly helped to bind this short story into something more than we have a body, and now we need to find out who did it!

Many of the elements that I love about the In Death books were here. Eve is surrounded by her make that friends...including Feeney, Mira and Peabody (no Mavis and only a small mention of Summerset in this one (although of course, he is most definitely NOT one of Eve's friends)). Eve also butts head with the head of security, another strong and capable woman, and her wits are tested to the extremes, especially against a man who believes that women should not be in the police force, and who intimates that he has the power to either stall her career, or to advance it...for a price. A very high price.

JD Robb certainly manages to pack a lot into 88 pages!

I am sure I have commented on this before, but it is amazing to me that Nora Roberts is so prolific, and yet, for the most part, the quality of her storytelling doesn't suffer at all.

I am reading one of these books about every three months! Next up....Seduction in Death.

What City Do You Belong In?

Saw this at Ana's and thought I would see what I came up with.

You Belong in London

A little old fashioned, and a little modern.
A little traditional, and a little bit punk rock.
A unique soul like you needs a city that offers everything.
No wonder you and London will get along so well.

I loved living in London and visiting it, so I'm happy with that!

Can you feel the love tonight?

Coversgirl from Between the Covers was gracious enough to give me a MWAH award!

This was the original sentiment behind this award.

"So, the point (and I do have one) to this post is motivated by my desire to hand some of that love and kindness back around to those who have been so very, very, very good to me in this bloggy world. My hope is that those who receive this award will pass it on to those who have been very, very, very good to them as well. It's a big kiss, of the chaste platonic kind, from me to you with the underlying 'thanks' message implied. I really do appreciate your support and your friendship and yes, your comments. ... Mwah!"
Now I just have to figure out who I am going to tag.

I think I will start with Katiebabs and KristieJ over at Ramblings on Romance for their passionate enthusiasm about lots of things - most especially the crusade. Entertaining and making the world a better place at the same time!

Next up, Rosario because not only did she originally inspired me to start blogging, but now I am also living vicariously through her travel blog.

Ana from Aneca's World. One of my fellow blog members at Historical Tapestry!

Finally to the girls at Book Binge - especially Holly who is getting married soon and is frantically trying to organise her wedding!

In the same vein, Clare from Confessions of a Book Addict, Chris from Book-a-rama and also Bonnie from Bonnie's Books (and the group blog Book Buddies) have all given me a You Make My Day Award and now I need to pass it on to ten more people! SoI'd like to share this award with

Darla from Nichtszusagen
Teddy Rose

There are so many other people I could have named because I do enjoy reading everyone's blogs. I tried to tag people who had't necessarily been awarded this blog award before so hopefully I have been successful in that!

And now, just because I alluded to it in the post title, here is an Elton John/Lion King moment!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another long term challenge

I am joining in on The Orange Prize Project. The blurb from the site is:

This reading challenge is a long-term project in which the participants will read all books that have won or been short listed for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction AND the Orange Broadband Award for New Writers. There is no time limit.

In case anyone doesn't know what The Orange Prize is:

The Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction is awarded to women of any nationality who have written the best, eligible full-length novel in English. Eligible works must have been published for the first time in the United Kingdom between 1 April of the year before the prize is awarded and 31 March of the year in which the prize is awarded.

Translations of books originally written in other languages are not eligible for the prize.

So here's the list of shortlisted titles since The Orange Prize began. I have highlighted the seven books that I have read (in orange of course!)


Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - WINNER
Arlington Park, by Rachel Cusk
The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, by Xiaolu Guo
The Observations, by Jane Harris
Digging to America, by Anne Tyler


On Beauty, by Zadie Smith - WINNER
The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss
Beyond Black, by Hilary Mantel
The Accidental, by Ali Smith
Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living, by Carrie Tiffany
The Night Watch, by Sarah Waters


We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver - WINNER
Old Filth, by Jane Gardam
The Mammoth Cheese, by Sheri Holman
Liars and Saints, by Maile Meloy
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka


Small Island, by Andrea Levy - WINNER
Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood
The Great Fire, by Shirley Hazzard
Purple Hibiscus, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ice Road, by Gillian Slovo
The Colour, by Rose Tremain


Property, by Valerie Martin - WINNER
Buddha Da, by Anne Donovan
Heligoland, by Shena Mackay
Unless, by Carol Shields
The Autograph Man, by Zadie Smith
The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt


Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett- WINNER
No Bones, by Anna Burns
The Siege, by Helen Dunmore
The White Family, by Maggie Gee
A Child's Book of True Crime, by Chloe Hooper
Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters


The Idea of Perfection, by Kate Grenville - WINNER
The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood
Fred & Edie, by Jill Dawson
Hotel World, by Ali Smith
Homestead, by Rosina Lippi
Horse Heaven, by Jane Smiley


When I Lived in Modern Times, by Linda Grant - WINNER
If I Told You Once, by Judy Budnitz
Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
The Dancers Dancing, by Eilis Ni Dhuibhne
White Teeth, by Zadie Smith


A Crime in the Neighborhood, by Suzanne Berne - WINNER
The Short History of a Prince, by Jane Hamilton
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
Paradise, by Toni Morrison
The Leper's Companions, by Julia Blackburn
Visible Worlds, by Marilyn Bowering


Larry's Party, by Carol Shield - WINNER
Lives of the Monster Dogs, by Kirsten Bakis
The Ventriloquist's Tale, by Pauline Melville
The Magician's Assistant, by Ann Patchett
Love Like Hate Adore, by Deirdre Purcell
The Weight of Water, by Anita Shreve


Fugitive Pieces, by Anne Michaels - WINNER
Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood
One by One in the Darkness, by Deirdre Madden
Accordion Crimes, by E. Annie Proulx
Hen's Teeth, by Manda Scott
I Was Amelia Earhart, by Jane Mendelsohn


A Spell of Winter, by Helen Dunmore - WINNER
The Book of Colour, by Julia Blackburn
Spinsters, by Pagan Kennedy
The Hundred Secret Senses, by Amy Tan
Ladder of Years, by Anne Tyler
Eveless Eden, by Marianne Wiggins

I haven't read any of the books that have been nominated for the The Orange Broadband Award for New Writers. The eligibility rules are as follows:

The Orange Broadband Award for New Writers is open to all first works of fiction written by women of any age or nationality and published in the UK between 1 April of the year before the prize is awarded and 31 March of the year in which the prize is awarded. Emphasis is on potential and emerging talent.

Short story collections and novellas are also eligible.

and these are the books that have been shortlisted so far:


The Lizard Cage, by Karen Connelly - WINNER
Poppy Shakespeare, by Clare Allan
Bitter Sweets, by Roopa Farooki


Disobedience, by Naomi Alderman - WINNER
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, by Yiyun Li
The Dream Life of Sukhanov, by Olga Grushin


26a, by Diana Evans - WINNER
Lucky Girls, by Nell Freudenberger
How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff

Saturday, February 09, 2008

More North and South!

Actually, it's a bit cheeky of me to call this post More North and South, because this time I am talking about both versions!

I went to the store today to try and buy 2 copies of the BBC's version of North and South. One was to give to my sister, so that she could share in the drooliness (although I am not sure that she is a drooler really...then again I never used to be either). The other copy was to give to her father in law - a man notoriously difficult to buy for. When he was in the UK last year though he did mention seeing Cranford, which is another BBC translation of a Gaskell book so I thought I would try my luck with N & S. The shop I went to didn't have any copies, and apparently didn't have any reference to it on their databases, which is very strange indeed seeing as it is the same place that I bought my copy just before Christmas.

Anyway, getting to the point, they did however have the other North and South on their database, the one based on John Jake's book of the same name. Apparently it is coming out here on DVD for the first time in a few weeks time! Yay!!! I remember watching that series when it showed on TV and absolutely loving it! I hope that I enjoy it when I watch it again, because I am definitely planning to buy it and see!

In the end I have bought my sister a different DVD, and will just have to lend her my copy to watch...when I have worked myself up to letting it out of my sight.


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