Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Broken by Kelley Armstrong

In this thrilling new novel from the author of Industrial Magic, a pregnant werewolf may have unwittingly unleashed Jack the Ripper on twenty-first-century—and become his next target. Ever since she discovered she’s pregnant, Elena Michaels has been on edge. After all, she’s never heard of another living female werewolf, let alone one who’s given birth. But thankfully, her expertise is needed to retrieve a stolen letter allegedly written by Jack the Ripper. As a distraction, the job seems simple enough—only the letter contains a portal to Victorian London’s underworld, which Elena inadvertently triggers—unleashing a vicious killer and a pair of zombie thugs. Now Elena must find a way to seal the portal before the unwelcome visitors get what they’re looking for—which, for some unknown reason, is Elena.

The focus in this novel turns back to Elena and Clay much as it was in the first two books of the series, Bitten and Stolen. The other supernatural/paranormal characters that we have met through the later books are mentioned, but not really at the forefront of the story as they have been. Also introduced is a new vampire, and Jaime's (the celebrity necromancer's) plays a fair role in this book as well.

Elena and Clay's relationship has moved into a pretty content and settled place, very unlike the Elena and Clay that we were introduced to. Elena is pregnant, and so everyone in the pack is jumpy to say the least. With Elena being the only female werewolf, and no one having had pure werewolf babies, everyone is on high alert. With Elena and Clay being so settled, any conflict is going to have to come from outside of that relationship, and it comes in the form of rotting zombies, infected rats and possibly, Jack the Ripper. It soon becomes clear that whoever it is that has escaped from a time portal possible held within the From Hell letter allegedly written by Jack is targeting Elena. The questions to be asked are why, and how to protect her and her pregnancy.

I did like the fact that we got to see the members of the Pack in this book, and I am hopeful that before too long we get to see Nick find a mate for himself.

Whilst the story in itself was entertaining, this wasn't one of my favourite books in the series. I don't really know why that is - maybe because the action was very dark this time around. These books often are quite dark, but whereas there have been some moments of genuine amusement in most of the books, this time the gruesomeness felt more consistent and to a certain extent overwhelming. What few lighter moments there were came early in the book and mostly featured Jaime.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, which I think features more of Jaime and Jeremy. I think I only have that book and then one more and I am all caught up with this series. I can tell you that I will definitely be waiting impatiently for each new book in the series!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Which Twilight character are you?

Saw this over at BookNut and had to give it a go!

Which Twilight novel character are you?

You're Bella Swan - You are intelligent and kind but not quite sure what you want out of life yet. You have a feeling there's something more out there for you. You're attracted to those who are real and avoid the fake. Sometimes you're a bit accident prone, but your true friends will always be loyal to you and come to your aid when you need it.
Take this quiz!

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Sleeping with the Fishes by Mary Janice Davidson

Fred is a mermaid. But stop right there. Whatever image you're thinking of right now, forget it. Fred is not blonde. She's not buxom. And she's definitely not perky. In fact, Fred can be downright cranky. And it doesn't help that her hair is ocean coloured.

Being a mermaid does help Fred when she works at the New England Aquarium. But, needless to say, it's there that she gets involved in something fishy. Weird levels of tozins have been found in the local water. A gorgeous marine biologist wants her help investigating. So does her mer-person ruler, the High Prince of the Black Sea. You'd think it would be easy for a mermaid to get to the bottom of things. Think again...
This book is labelled as paranormal romance which did make me wonder are mermaids paranormal, but maybe that is too big a question to be asking this early in a post.

The only reason why I picked this book up, is that Mary Janice Davidson is one of the big name authors who have been confirmed as coming to the first Australian Romance Readers Convention next year, and I hadn't really read much from her, so I wanted to give her a go and see what I thought. Before this, I had only read a short story in an anthology that was part of her popular Betsy the Vampire series.

So, enough about the why of this book and onto what I thought of it. Unfortunately, I was pretty underwhelmed by it - really starting from the dedication and the going all the way through the acknowledgements.

The premise is potentially fun - a half mermaid works at the New England Aquarium (cue conversations with the fish, especially when the fish decide that they only want to listen to Pet Shop Boys music) and basically her work is her life. She hasn't been on a date for years, despite the best efforts of her best friend who is the only person in the world outside of her family who knows what she is. Then, not one, but two handsome men show up, both trying to get to the bottom of some toxic water. One is Thomas who is hunky marine biologist who has always known that mermaids were real, and the other is Artur, the High Prince of the Black Sea who has been sent by his king to investigate with Fred's assistance.

There are genuine funny moments, which I would tell you, but you know then you would only be left with all the not so funny bits.

During the course of the investigation, you of course discover who the bad guy is who is polluting the ocean, and in this case, the bad guy was in effect a cartoon character villain. His motivation was flimsy at best, and the showdown felt contrived and somewhat silly.

Like so many other current romance novels, particularly in the urban/paranormal romance subgenre there is little resolution in the love triangle, and I guess I will probably read the next book in due course just to see what happens. I have no idea how many books there are planned for the series, but I presume that we will get the HEA over the whole arc of the series.

I won't lose any sleep if I don't read the next book all that soon though.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry

Here, is the eagerly awaited prequel to Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Lonesome Dove. In Streets of Laredo he bought the story ahead, giving us Woodrow Call in his old age; in Dead Man's Walk, he takes the reader back, to the days when Woodrow Call and his friend Gus McCrae - surely two of the most beloved figures in American fiction - were young Rangers, first confronting the wild frontier that will form their lives. Danger, hardship, sacrifice, pain and fear test them to the limits of endurance; friendship, comradeship, courage and love give them the strength to survive and be cheerful against fearful odds.

In Dead Man's Walk Woodrow and Gus are not yet twenty; young Rangers in the days when Texas was still an independent republic. Having volunteered to join the forces of the capricious land pirate Caleb Cobb in a foolhardy attempt to seize Santa Fe from the Mexicans, they experience their first great adventure, in the barren, empty landscape in which shocking violence appears out of nowhere, whether from nature or Indians. Though their eyes, we meet the great Comanche war chief Buffalo Hump (one of McMurtry's most compelling creations), his companion Kicking Wolf, who specialises in prolonged torture, the deadly Apache child-stealer Gomez. It is these formidable figures - cruel, swift and almost invisible - who confront and eventually defeat Caleb Cobb's expedition, plus most of the Mexican army. Woodrow and Gus's companions include Matilda Roberts, a whore known as The Great Western, and Bigfoot Wallace, the famous scout. The wildness of the Frontier and the men who live there - the Indians defending it with savagery, the Texans attempting to seize and 'civilize' it, the Mexicans threatened by both - are at the heart of Larry McMurtry's extraordinary novel, at once a profound work of literature and one of the most riveting adventure stories of all time.
I first read Lonesome Dove years ago, not long after the mini series came out in fact, so that makes it..what..nearly 20 years ago. Since that time, I either didn't hear that Larry McMurtry had gone on to write further books in the series or just didn't take any notice. With my participation in the Pulitzer Project where the goal is to read all of the Pulitzer Prize winners, I figure now is as good a time as any to reread Lonesome Dove (hereafter referred to as LD) which one the award in 1986, but if I was going to do that, then I wanted to be sure to have started at the beginning of the story, and so I found myself reading this book.

Part of my difficulty in writing this review, is that I am comparing the writing and atmosphere in this book to a book I read so many years ago and remember absolutely loving, but not remembering much else in terms of specifics. It could therefore be that some of the issues that I had in reading this book were already present in LD and I just didn't remember them.

The narrative in Dead Man's Walk takes us back, way back, to where Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call are very young men - twenty years of age - and they are just setting out on their first adventures as Texas Rangers. Gus is impulsive, smooth talking and restless, Woodrow more of a thinker and less hotheaded but when he loses his temper he really loses it. Also travelling with them are a number of other colourful characters including the whore Matilda Roberts (known as the Great Western) who alternates between a prostitute and a mother figure during the novel (but is portrayed to have such bravery and put up with an awful lot), various trackers and Indian hunters.

After a disastrous first trip where the Rangers find themselves hunted by the vicious Indian chief Buffalo Hump, the boys join up for another adventure - this time a raid against Santa Fe which at that time was held by the Mexicans. This time they have not only Buffalo Hump and his cohorts to deal with, but also Gomez (an Apache warrior) and Mother Nature, all the while being lead by a man who only had marginally more experience than themselves.

In many ways the events in this book try and include as many of the things that we have come to expect from Westerns - there are Indian raids, scalpings, there are crazy Ranger leaders, there are whores (oh my...are there whores - Gus in particular is constantly obsessed with them), there are Mexicans, wild animals, wild weather. In fact, you name it. Anything that could go wrong on a journey across the wilds of colonial America does and McMurtry doesn't skimp on any of the gruesome details. He also has no heart for the minor characters he has created as he kills them off with reckless abandon - each method of death more and more gruesome.

Then there is an ending which whilst is has the desired effect of getting our two heroes out of the predicament that they found themselves in, seems a somewhat strange resolution to that problem.

For me, whilst this was an interesting read, it wasn't the compelling, touching tale that I remember LD to be. There are definitely glimpses within the characters of Gus and Call where you can see the men that were loved by so many in LD, and the colours and drama of the Wild West definitely came to life, but maybe in a slightly too surreal fashion.

I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series, which I believe is Comanche Moon.

Crossposted at Historical Tapestry

Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas

The New York Times bestselling author of Sugar Daddy is back with her most breathtaking, hot-and-bothered novel yet!


His name is Hardy Cates. He's a self-made millionaire who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. He's made enemies in the rough-and-tumble ride to the top of Houston's oil industry. He's got hot blood in his veins. And vengeance on his mind.


She's Haven Travis. Despite her family's money, she refuses to set out on the path they've chosen for her. But when Haven marries a man her family disapproves of, her life is set on a new and dangerous course. Two years later, Haven comes home, determined to guard her heart. And Hardy Cates, a family enemy, is the last person she needs darkening her door or setting her soul on fire.


Filled with Lisa Kleypas's trademark sensuality, filled with characters you love to hate and men you love to love, Blue-Eyed Devil will hold you captive in its storytelling power as the destiny of two people unfolds with every magical word.

I don't think it will be a surprise to anyone who reads this blog if I was to say that I am a bit of an Lisa Kleypas fan girl - not a rabid fan girl though - just a person who really enjoys nearly everything that she writes, and who looks forward to her next book all the time.

It should also therefore not be a surprise if I was to say that I really, really enjoyed this book! Before I read Sugar Daddy (the prequel to this book), I was a little skeptical about LK's change from writing purely historical romances to doing both contemporary and historical novels. Fortunately, she has handled that transition very well, and there was no need for any concern on my part. (I am sure that she will be relieved to know that!)

Once again, this novel is not a pure romance in that Haven spend much of the first part of the novel married to another man - in this case an abusive and violent man. When she is rescued by her brother Gage and comes home, she has many, many issues to deal with as a result of her marriage. The last thing she needs is to fall in love with Hardy Cates, especially with the opposition to the relationship from her overprotective family.

Hardy is a man who knows what he wants, and who gets what he wants. What he wants for most of this novel is Haven. What he doesn't realise is that she has lots of emotional baggage that she is carrying around with her, and yet, in the end, it may well be his emotional baggage from his childhood that ultimately comes between the two of them.

The author pulls no punches in relation to Haven's past and the events that happened within her marriage - we get to see what she had to deal with in detail - and yet, as horrifying as those events were, the book is so well balanced, that it didn't have the effect of bringing the reader down or lessening the emotional richness of the book.

Hardy is in many ways the modern equivalent of many of LK's best historical romance heroes - a self made man who has pulled himself up from the bootstraps and now finds himself involved in a world of rich and powerful men, and holding his own in that world.

This is another entertaining read from Kleypas, and one that I basically devoured in one session yesterday. I even read it instead of paying full attention to my football team playing a winning game!

Favourite Authors A-Z

I first saw this over at Danielle's blog, but since then have seen it on a number of others, and thought I might give it a go myself. The idea is to list your favourite author and your favourite book by that author, but I might cheat especially if their books are all interconnected. I was feeling a little smug thinking that my spreadsheets would help make this relatively easy, but then I started with the letter A and had three possible authors to put down, so it isn't as easy as you think! So here goes:

A - Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld series)
B - Anne Bishop (Black Jewels series)
C - Susan Carroll (Fair Isle series)
D - Sara Donati (Into the Wilderness series)
E - Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum series)
F - Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next series)
G - Diana Gabaldon (Outlander series)
H - Khaled Hosseini (A Thousand Splendid Suns)
I - Uzondinma Iweala (Beasts of No Nations)
J - Eloisa James (Kiss Me Annabel)
K - Marian Keyes (Walsh sisters series)
L - C S Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia)
M - Stephenie Meyer (Twilight Saga)
N - Diana Norman (Makepeace Burke trilogy)
P - Sharon Kay Penman (Welsh Trilogy, Sunne in Splendour)
Q - Julia Quinn (Bridgerton series)
R - J D Robb (In Death series)
S - Paullina Simons (The Bronze Horseman trilogy)
T - Shaun Tan (The Arrival)
U - Luis Alberto Urrea (The Hummingbird's Daughter)
V - Elizabeth Vaughan (The Warlord Chronicles)
W - J R Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood)
Y - Peter Yeldham (Barbed Wire and Roses)
Z - Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)

There are a couple of those that I wouldn't necessarily count as absolute favourites, but they are definitely favourites of the books that I have read by authors whose surnames start with that letter!

I do wonder if anyone has managed to find an author for X? There must be some out there.

If you decide to have a go at this, let me know!

Weekly Geeks #1 - Discover New Blogs

Dewey came up with an idea a couple of weeks ago which takes the idea of participating in challenges (because goodness only knows that book bloggers love challenges!) and making the challenges only slightly linked to reading! This week is the first challenge week and it is to discover some new blogs from amongst the participants who have signed up to join in. You can get a much better explanation than that by reading Dewey's post.

One of the great things about book bloggers is that there are always new blogs to check out. It took me a while to narrow down my choices but in the end these are the following new to me blogs that I have chosen to spotlight:

Thinking of -

I chose this blog because they have recently read a book that I read as well - Pictures of Hollis Woods. The main difference is that where she has already put a review up, I am still um...working...on mine!

Reader Rabbit -

Chose this for no other reason than I liked the title! It is however also cool that it is run by two teenage sisters who share the reviewing duties!

A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore -

Another great blog name!

Some Reads -

Chose this one because her latest review is of Stardust by Neil Gaiman which is a book that I currently have out from the library to read in due course.

Bookworms and Tea -

Loved the header at this one!

So there we have it! First post for Weekly Geeks!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Teenage Song

Everyday when I pick up my son from school I ask him what he did today, and the answer "Can't remember". I guess that means I have lots more of this kind of thing to look forward too! LOL!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Anzac Day - The Last Post

One of the newer Aussie pilgrimages is to travel to Gallipoli - now called Anzac Cove - to see the site where our diggers fought so bravely so many years ago. Every year thousands of young Aussies and Kiwis travel there for the dawn service to remember our forefathers who fought so valiantly for our freedoms.

This video is of the Last Post being played during that dawn service last year.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

Well, here where I live, Spring is sprung–weeks early, even. Our lilac bush looks like it will have flowers by this time next week instead of in the middle of May as usual. The dogwood trees, the magnolia trees–all the flowering trees are flowering. The daffodils and crocuses are, if anything, starting to fade. It may only be April 24th but it is very definitely Spring and, allergies notwithstanding, I’m happy to welcome the change of season. What I want to know, is:

Do your reading habits change in the Spring? Do you read gardening books? Even if you don’t have a garden? More light fiction than during the Winter? Less? Travel books? Light paperbacks you can stick in a knapsack?

Or do you pretty much read the same kinds of things in the Spring as you do the rest of the year?

I think it is fair to say that the seasons don't affect what I read at all. I read what I read...regardless of anything! It never occurs to me to contemplate the seasons as I choose my next book to read!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

123 Meme

I've been tagged by Kerrie from Mysteries in Paradise!

I've had a clean up since the last time I was tagged for this meme, which does not mean that there are no books lying around within arms reach - just that there are different books! The books close by are Sleeping with the Fishes by Mary Janice Davidson (just starting this one), The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander (finished not too long ago), Churchill's Triumph by Michael Dobbs (just wrote a review of this one), The Rose of Sebastapol by Katharine McMahon (my reading on the train book) and the one that I am going to be posting from which is Dead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry (just finished today).

The rules are simple:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

Mr. Forsythe was pleasant to him, but vague about when his daughter might return.

"I can't predict her," he said. "She's like the wind."

I tag Nymeth from Things Mean a Lot, Ladytink from The Movieholic and Bibliophile's Blog, Sandy from Sandy's Reading Journal, Rhinoa from Rhinoa's Ramblings and Teddy Rose from So Many Precious Books, So Little Time.

Churchill's Triumph by Michael Dobbs

World War II is about to end when the world's three most powerful men gather at Yalta in the Soviet Crimea: an idealistic and exhausted Franklin Roosevelt, a dyspeptic and feisty Winston Churchill and a brutal Joseph Stalin. Once proud allies, they will lie and cheat and deceive each other. And, while doing so, they will change both the map of Europe and its destiny.

In this riveting historical novel, you become a fly on the wall of history. For those fatal eight days at Yalta, you are privy to the heart and mind of England's prime minister, who hopes he has enough strength to negotiate with the Russian dictator and enough whiskey to last the week. Carrying the burden of history, he becomes Europe's conscience, when, to save the peace agreed to at Yalta, he must decide whether or not to commit a devastating act of betrayal.
It's hard to tell from the number of reviews that I have been posting, but I am actually reading. In the last week or so I have read two books by Michael Dobbs about Winston Churchill. The first was Never Surrender (the second book in the Winston Churchill series) and then pretty much straight after I finished that book I read this one, which is the fourth book in the series. I really can't stand reading series out of order, but once I had finished this one it was off to the library to pick up the first book in the series so that I can finish it off!

The author follows a similar set up as he did in Never Surrender - taking a short period of time and examining the events, and then interweaving those historical events with the events taking place in the life of a fictional character.

In this case, the event that is being focused on is the Yalta Conference that was held between 4 and 11 February 1945 in the Crimea. The conference was a meeting between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill where decisions were made that affected the fate of millions of lives across Europe, and influenced the political landscape for many, many years.

The three most powerful world leaders are portrayed as all being very much concerned with their own agendas - for the ailing Roosevelt his main objective is to get the United Nations up and running, for Churchill it is try and prevent the march of communism across all of Europe and for Stalin it is gain as much land as he possibly can.

There are secret meetings, lavish and drunken dinners, spying on each other, and grand showmanship as each of the leaders tries to meet their own goals, and at times, it seems as though those ideals are worth a great deal more than the lives of the people that will be affected.

Churchill is also aware that the British star is fading a little, in terms of power and prestige in the eyes of the world. Whilst they can hold their head up in terms of their actions in World War II, in hindsight, it is clear that the seeds were being planted for the Cold War where the US and the Soviet Union were the super powers.

The fictional character is a young Polish man, who is trying to escape from the Soviet Union where a man can get arrested for no real reason at all. He has taken on a dead man's identity, and as we see him try to find a new life in the west, we are also privy to the events that are taking place in Poland, as firstly the German Army leaves the war devastated country and as the Soviet 'liberators' move in to take their place. Let's just say that neither army appears to have treated the locals particularly well.

Where this book did lose a little focus in my opinion was in the very beginning and very end where the novel moved forward in setting approximately twenty years, and Churchill, now a very old man, is taking a cruise in the Mediterranean and meets a ghost from the past. Whilst the initial drama is provided through a Churchill family argument, this initial theme seemed to get lost somewhat through the rest of the book. Maybe it was a carry on from the events in the third book. I guess I will only tell when I get around to reading the third book.

Once again this was another very interesting read, featuring some of the most famous historical figures from WWII, an era that I already find fascinating.

Sourcebooks are about to rerelease this book in the US. Thanks to them for the review copy.

Cross posted at Historical Tapestry.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Recognising yourself

After numerous requests I finally broke down yesterday and joined Facebook. I know that I am late to the party but I was conscious of not finding yet more ways to spend time online.

One of the things that I did was to find some of my friends profiles, which in turn led me to some old friends, which in turn led me to a group for the people who currently or formerly attended a specific church. Within that group, there are a whole heap of photos that people have added, and I was having looking through, seeing some people I recognised and others that I did not. Eventually I came to a photo which looked to be about the right period timewise fpr when I was involved, but I didn't recognise anyone in. When I ran my mouse over and saw the label that someone else had put on it, they had labelled it as being a photo of me, and I had to look twice to see that yes, it really was me! Very strange.

When I showed it to someone I work with today, they totally agreed that they would never have recognised that picture as being of me if I hadn't told them who it was!

When I look at that photo now, I realise that as much as I was already on the diet merry go round then, I would be mega happy if I looked like that now, compared to how I do look!

Would you recognise a photo of yourself from 20 years ago?


I haven't been doing all that well with Booking Through Thursday questions for the last week or so. Here's this week's Booking Through Thursday question:

I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?

Every now and again I come across a word that is new to me, and that I can't work out a meaning in context. On those occasions I will visit an online dictionary, but because I am usually reading during the commute to and from work that is often now accessible either, and by the time I get home I have other things to think about!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Never Surrender by Michael Dobbs

ETA...forgot to mention that this is my TBR day entry for this month.

This stunning historical novel brings you deep inside Winston Churchill's mind and heart as he becomes Prime Minister and takes on the terrifying challenge of halting Hitler's murderous invasion of France, Holland and Belgium with only his wits and his magnificent words. Only his courage stands between the people of the British Isles and advancing enemy armies as they drive his retreating soldiers onto the beaches of Dunkirk and into the English Channel. You will live at Churchill's side as he deals with his own feelings of inadequacy while contending with his fellow ministers, who plot to throw him out of office. And you will be the fly on the wall of history as he matches wits with Hitler in the most crucial battlefield of all, the battlefield of the mind.

Whilst I have read a number of books set in WWII where the main characters interact with many of the famous real life figures, this is the first time that I remember reading a book where the main characters are the real life historical figures. One of the advantages of this is that even though I have not read much about Churchill, for example, I very much already had a picture in my mind of the character, of what he looked like and yes, that also means some preconceptions about some of his characteristics.

This book is actually the second book in a series of four that concentrates on a number of incidents during the war to give us a picture of the man who led Britain during the darkest days of WWII. This book concentrates on the days just after Churchill finally became Prime Minister, and then follows the events as they unfold over the next three weeks, a period which includes the evacuation at Dunkirk, and the famous speech that was given in the House of Commons following the evacuation:

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!"

There were a number of things within the book which surprised me. I did not know that Churchill was so universally disliked by his political opponents, and yet it seemed that the tenaciousness that made him a challenging personal opponent was the very thing that Britain as a country needed to lead them against the deadly foe that was Hitler.

Don't get me wrong...this book is not some rosy eyed look at Churchill. This is a man who is portrayed as thinking nothing of giving a briefing to his staff whilst in the bath. A man who wanted to attack at all cost despite the disobedience of his generals, when in the end, it was only in retreating that the British even managed to live on to fight another day.

Whilst it is primarily a book about Churchill and WWII it is also a book about fathers and sons. Churchill seems haunted by his father - his political life and his personal relationship with him - always trying to act in such a way as to possibly exceed his father's seemingly low expectations for him.

In addition, threaded throughout the story, there is also a relationship between another father and son. Don Chichester is a non combatant stationed initially in Belgium, working in the Royal Ambulance Corp. As Churchill makes decisions as to where the troops must go, Don is the human face that portrays the effect of those decisions. He had joined up as a non-combatant, much to the shame of his vicar father, Henry, and the two have parted barely on speaking terms. Truth be told, this storyline was the weaker of the two major plotlines, but it did enable us to be part of the defense of Calais, the mad scramble to get to Dunkirk, and then to be on the beaches of Dunkirk waiting to see if the Navy was going to be able to rescue the thousands of troops there, who were basically sitting targets for the German fighter pilots.

I very nearly said that I didn't want to review this one when I was offered it last year, but definitely am glad that I said yes. Not long ago I was offered the fourth book in this series (which I will review in the next few days), so I thought I should hurry up and read this one, despite the fact that it isn't the first book! I am definitely planning to pick up the other books to fill in the gaps. Thanks to Sourcebooks for providing me with a copy of this book.

Cross posted at Historical Tapestry

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown Anthology

Lady Whistledown Tells All!

The new year has arrived in London, as the elusive Regency-era gossip observes in her ever-popular paper, romance is in the air....

In my quest to read everything connected to the Bridgerton books, I am left with just two more entries (not counting the 2nd epilogues that were put out online a while ago). Those two books are the Lady Whistledown anthologies, of which this book is the first.

Each of the stories feature commentary by Lady Whistledown, and revolve around a couple of different social events where the characters basically interact with each other, even if it is only in the form of knocking each other over whilst ice skating, attending the theatre or dancing together briefly at a ball. Other than that, all the stories are independent from each other. Of the authors in the anthology I have previously read Julia Quinn (obviously!) and Suzanne Enoch. The other two were new to me.

My favourites were from the two authors I have read before - Julia Quinn and Suzanne Enoch. My least favourite was from Mia Ryan but there were still glimmers in there to think that maybe she is okay as an author.

When the scandalous actions of his beautiful fiancée are recorded in Lady Whistledown's column, a concerned groom-to-be rushes back to London to win his lady's heart once and forever, in Suzanne Enoch's enchanting romantic gem.

The anthology gets off to a cracking start with the scandalous going-ons of Lady Anne Bishop. Lady Anne has been engaged to Max, the Marquis of Halfurst, since infancy, yet they have not spent any time together for a very long time. The lovely lady has been acting in a less than circumspect fashion and when her fiance reads about it in the society pages he decides enough is enough. It is time to claim his prize.

Society is abuzz when the Season's most promising debutante is jilted by her intended -- only to be swept away by the deceitful rogue's dashing older brother -- in New York Times bestseller Julia Quinn's witty, charming, and heartfelt tale.

When Susannah Ballister was dumped unceremoniously by Clive Mann-Formsby, she was heartbroken, so the thought of meeting up with Clive and his new wife terrifies her. At one time the only thing that might have terrified her more was the thought of meeting Clive's very sombre and serious older brother, David. Now that David is looking for a wife, it seems that he has decided that she is the one, even though he opposed her engagement to his brother.

Karen Hawkins captivates with an enduring story of a handsome rogue whose lifelong friendship -- and his heart -- are tested when the lovely lady in question sets her cap for someone else.

I am quite partial to the friends to lovers storyline, particularly in anthologies, because it means that the story can move forward quite a bit quicker than it can if the two main characters have only just met. When Liza Pritchard decides that she really wants to shed her spinster role, and sets her cap on marriage, Sir Royce Pendlebury realises that he wants something very different - he wants her. The dialogue between these two was quite good, again due to the fact that they were first and foremost friends....right up until the moment when they realised what they felt for each other.

A dazzling and delightful tale by Mia Ryan has a young woman cast out of her home by an insufferable yet charming marquis -- who intends to take possession not only of the house ... but its former occupant as well!

Lady Caroline Starling has been nursing very strong feelings against Lord Darington, ever since she knew that they were about to be evicted from their home by him. Yet when she meets him and feels an attraction for him, it seems as though there is much for her to learn, about the circumstances behind that eviction, and particularly behind Lord Darington's own war injury ravaged past.

I am expecting to read the second Lady Whistledown book in the next week or so! I hope it is as enjoyable as this one was. By the way, I should also confess that I am posting this review now because I am using it to enter the Fly It Forward contest at TGTBTU!

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Alpha Heroes

Only With Your Love by Lisa Kleypas

Celia Vallerand fears for her life as she stares into the deep, arresting eyes of the dashing man who purchased her from the brigands who had abducted her. But it soon becomes clear that it's her virtue, not her life, that's in danger. The rugged, powerful renegade known only as "Griffin" arouses desires in Celia as dangerous as they are forbidden. And though she knows she must resist him, she fears she may be unable to do so.

But the magnificent adventurer is a man trapped in a perilous deception. And the shocking secrets he guards could deny him the love of the fair captive lady who has enslaved his reckless heart.

I am gradually getting to the end of the backlist for Lisa Kleypas **sob**. Luckily I just picked up Blue Eyed Devil from the library, and I still haven't read Mine Til Midnight, otherwise I will get to the end and then what will I do!

This is one of the few historicals that Lisa Kleypas has written that isn't set in England. This time the setting is the deep south of America - Louisiana I believe - which brings me to my first question. What the heck do the swans on the cover have to do with this book? There's lots of mentions of swamps and bayou but no swans!

Anyway, Celia always believed that she was an unexceptional woman compared to all of her family. When she begins to be courted by a young doctor, Philip Vallerand, she is honoured and flattered and more than happy to wait for years for him to come and get her and take her to her new life as his wife. It is while they are on that journey to a new life that the boat that they are on is attacked by pirates and Philip is killed. Celia appears to be destined for a much shortened life where she will be a sexual plaything for a depraved member of the pirate crew, until she is rescued by Griffin and he delivers her to her husband's family who are a powerful Creole family. Unfortunately he delivers her only after taking her virginity. (I know...she was married, how could she still be a virgin? There's an explanation, which is barely plausible, but we'll let that slide!)

The next time that Celia meets Griffin, it is under much different circumstances, and when she is forced by fate to spend more time with him her feelings for him change from passion driven animosity to realisation that the feelings that she has for him are much, much stronger than those feelings that she had for her husband. At the same time, it begins to appear as though Celia really didn't know her husband all that well, leaving her with conflicted emotions all round.

I can't really say too much more without giving away major plot twists, but suffice to say the past comes back to haunt the Griffin, in the form of his pirate enemies, and he is forced to make a choice between his past and Celia, particularly after Celia does something a bit stupid and is captured by those same pirates.

I loved reading about Max Vallerand (Philip's father), and if I understand correctly, he is the hero of the Only in Your Arms, which I will have to track down at some point.

You can tell that this is early Kleypas, but the quality is still there in terms of the writing, and the spark between the main characters.

One Forbidden Evening by Jo Goodman

As a masked ball reaches its fever pitch, Cybelline Caldwell surrenders to the embrace of a midnight lover, a stranger who seals her fate. By morning the wanton seductress has been replaced by a determinedly sensible woman preparing to leave London -- and its memories. Yet temptation follows. For Christopher Hollins, Earl of Ferrin, the notorious rake she so brazenly challenged, vows to show her that one night was not enough.

It took some clever detective work, but Ferrin uncovered the identity of his mystery lover, surprised and intrigued to come face to face with Cybelline. Soon he discovers she is a woman of mystery -- and a woman in danger, stalked by a ruthless enemy. Unable to erase the searing memory of Cybelline in his arms, Ferrin knows he must discover the secrets that shadow her days -- for only then can he claim all of her nights.

Aaahhhh, the masquerade ball. Scene of many an indiscretion in historical romance novels. The thrill of being able to act in a way that is completely out of character without any risk of knowing who it is.

For Mrs Cybelline Caldwell the opportunity to attend a masked ball alone is a rare chance to be in society. As a widow, she has long been in mourning and therefore excluded from society, but the other issue is that she knows that it is not only that her husband is dead that prevents her from normally joining in in society, but it is also a lot to do with the way he died. Cybelline is however a lady with certain needs, and she has set her sights on an act of passion with a certain rake.

The only problem is that whilst Christopher Hollings, Earl of Ferrin has carefully crafted the persona of rake around town, he really isn't, and when their midnight rendezvous comes to an end he is determined to track down the identity of his lover.

Cybelline has decamped to the country, and is happy enough there. However, when she comes down with a terrible illness, she is most surprised to find herself being cared for by Ferrin, albeit with a different identity. As Ferrin and Cybelline spend more time together, their feelings grow stronger, although not only romantically. Often they clash, particularly with Ferrin becoming aware of a threat to the woman that he cares for.

The suspense sub plot in this novel was really well done. Quite often those subplots in historical romance novels feature completely over the top villains, who you can just hear laughing dastardly from the sidelines as the hero and heroine begin to fall in love. In this novel, the threat to Cybelline seems a little innocuous at first, building towards a tight and suspenseful climax.

There was also a delightful secondary romance that was just hinted at, never overwhelming the main romance in the book.

As to the characters, well, who wouldn't want a man like Ferrin. Handsome, assured, self sufficient, honourable, passionate. Mmmm...yes please! Cybelline was well written too, determined about what she wanted. You know that I am all about the hero though!

I will definitely be reading more by Jo Goodman. The only thing that I was a bit surprised by was that on her website this book looks as though it is standalone, but really it features characters from an early book (Cybelline's brother and his wife are from A Season to be Sinful) and it appears that the next book after this one was about Ferrin's step brother (If His Kiss is Wicked). I don't know why you wouldn't show that they are linked together.

By the way, the girls over at Book Binge have coincidentally announced that they are having a Read Jo Goodman Crusade where they are determined to bring this author to the attention of more readers.


This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

  • When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)
  • Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?

My initial reaction is definitely to think of the classics like Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Dickens, Bronte etc. Maybe my definition of literature would be books that I know that I should day! I do know that I really should read Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, War and Peace and all of those other classics, and I will...eventually.

In addition to those older books that have stood the test of time though, there is also the new literature that comes out. In this case I am thinking of authors such as Ian McEwan, Alan Hollinghurst. I have read some of them (for example the two mentioned) with mixed results. McEwan I don't mind. Hollinghurst writes beautifully but also with a pretentiousness that means that you can't read in a noisy place, you have to be able to concentrate word for word to be sure that you grasp the meaning.

Maybe another way that I define literature is by some of the prize lists - if a book makes the Orange Prize list I would expect it to be completely readable and absorbing but accessible. If however the book makes the Booker Prize lists then I would expect it to be somewhat less accessible to a normal reader (i.e me), more challenging but that would also be part of the reason why I would want to read it.

BTW, I just realised I didn't post last weeks BTT question - I'll put it up later today!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Australian Romance Readers Convention - ARRC 2009

And the winner is.....Melbourne! Oh, and the romance readers of Australia.

The venue for the first ever Australian Romance Readers Convention has been announced, and luckily for me it is Melbourne! The convention is going to be held in a hotel in Central Melbourne the weekend of 20-22 February.

The list of authors who have submitted an Expression of Interest form is awesome as well with some pretty big names amongst them. You can get all the details here.

I am very much looking forward to attending!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Enter the Duke of Shadows Sweepstakes

Just recently there have been quite a few historical romances that have had good buzz around the place. For a historicals fan like me that is such good news given that we were being told that the day of the historical was well and truly over. Here's some buzz about another one from Ann Aguirre, author of the non-historical Grimspace that has also been getting a lot of good reviews around the place. By clicking on the link above you can also read an interview with the author!

Enter the Duke of Shadows Sweepstakes

I've already added this to my TBR list. You should too!

Book Giveaways Galore

There seems to be loads of book giveaways going on around blogland at the moment - some because of book pimping, others because of BAFAB week, and still other just because! Quite a few of them require some blogging but there's so many that I am not sure where to even start, but we'll just start and see where we end up shall we!

First off, we will start at Maw Books. Natasha had the idea to try and collect a variety of reviews for the books she has either read, or wants to read shortly, and to collate them all in one place, and hence Book Bloggers Book Reviews was born! At the moment Natasha is running a giveaway for anyone who posts about BBBR, and there are quite a few books to choose from!

Nymeth is hosting a giveaway of your choice of one of five books to celebrate both BAFAB week, and her first anniversary of blogging. Click here for the details.

Tanabata is giving away one of three books by Japanese authors.

Dewey is giving away two books as well, with the promise of more to come in April.

Jenclair is giving away a Sharon Shinn book. Shinn is one of those authors that I know that I should have read...but just haven't yet!

Jaime at Bell Literary Reflections is giving away your choice of three books. I'm putting my name down for the Goodman.

Eva from A Striped Armchair is making people work to win her book giveaway with a Name that Book quiz.

I know there are others, but I seem to have misplaced my links! I am sure I will locate them again later though!

A Deep and Meaningful Winnie the Pooh Character Test

Saw this at Booksplease. Who could resist? It's long for one of these tests, but there are lots of great little snippets of Winnie the Pooh stories.

Your Score: Eeyore

You scored 14 Ego, 16 Anxiety, and 12 Agency!

"Do you know what A means, little Piglet?"

"No, Eeyore, I don't."

"It means Learning, it means Education, it means all
the things that you and Pooh haven't got. That's what A means."

"Oh," said Piglet again. "I mean, does it?" he
explained quickly.

"I'm telling you. People come and go in this Forest,
and they say, 'It's only Eeyore, so it doesn't count.' They
walk to and fro saying 'Ha ha!' But do they know anything about
A? They don't. It's just three sticks to them. But to the
Educated--mark this, little Piglet--to the Educated, not
meaning Poohs and Piglets, it's a great and glorious A.

You scored as Eeyore!

ABOUT EEYORE: Eeyore lives in his own thistley corner of the forest and wonders why people don't come to visit him more often. He is master of the Guilt Trip, and is always gently forgiving his visitors for neglecting him. Eeyore considers himself to be smarter than the other inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood, and is often exasperated by their habit of having adventures and general merriment.

WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are an anxious person, and you tend to expect the worst. Your friends find you somewhat cynical at times, because you have found that it is best to expect disappointment. You often feel unappreciated by the people you work with, but you rarely actually try and do anything to change that fact.

Your close friends admire you more than you think they do. They wish that you would learn to stop worrying so much and actually start trying to fix what is bothering you. If something is making you unhappy... change it!

Link: The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test written by wolfcaroling on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(wolfcaroling)

Apparently I am having an anxious day!


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