Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read

  • Open to a random page

  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

  • For the second week in a row my teaser comes from a book that is more than 800 pages long - I seem to have an affinity for very long books! Then again, that isn't exactly news to me.

    The book is The Sweet Far Thing, the third book in the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray, and the teaser comes from page 325:

    We're ushered from the hall in a crushing sea of excited people making their last-minute purchases. I try to keep a safe distance from McCleethy, holding fast to my friends' arms.

    Sunday, June 28, 2009

    The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

    The past won't let you forget...

    When bestselling author Carrie McClelland visits the ruins of Slains Castle in Scotland to research her new book, she is unprepared for the magnetic pull the local area has on her. Enchanted by the stark and beautiful Scottish landscape, she rents an old stone cottage near the windswept ruins and decides to set her new historical novel at the castle itself.

    History has all but forgotten the spring of 1708, when an invasion fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Steward in Scotland to reclaim his crown. Realising one of her own ancestors, Sophia Paterson lived around the same time. Carrie creates a fictional life for Sophia and places her at Slains to be a narrator for the events leading to the Jacobite uprising. It is a time seething with political unrest and there is no shortage of spies and clandestine meetings at Slains. Soon, the characters in her book come alive with almost frightening intensity and Carrie is shocked when she learns that Sophia was indeed a resident at the castle at the time. When further coincidences confirm her fiction is closer to fact, Carrie realises that this story is not entirely her own. As Sophia's memories draw Carrie more deeply into the intrigue of 1708, she comes to understand that a hitherto unrealised bond with her ancestor is providing her with an immediate window in to the true events of the time - and the two women have more in common than one might think.

    Mesmerising and rich in historical detail, The Winter Sea is a haunting tale of two women's experiences of love and personal betrayal in two different times.

    Every now and again you are lucky enough to pick up a book that fits your reading tastes perfectly. For me, this was one of those times. Within the first two pages I knew that I was going to love this book. The big question was could the enjoyment be maintained all the way to the end, and the answer was a resounding yes.

    Carrie McLelland is a best selling historical fiction author. When the story opens she has been living in France trying to research a little known character in history (to most of us anyway) who was involved in some of the early Jacobite attempts to restore the Stuarts to the Scottish throne. She is however struggling a little. On her way to visit her agent in Scotland she finds herself drawn to an old castle ruin called Slains.

    As a result of the visit, Carrie decides to make two significant changes. The first is to add a fictional female character to her book to give her a different perspective through which to view the events as they unfolded. She decides to name this character after one of her own family members that lived around the same time.

    The second is to relocate to the small town near the castle, and to live in a rustic cottage there whilst she writes. This is not really unusual for Carrie as she lives a some what nomadic life style, moving from place to place in order to enable her to research the stories she is writing.

    As soon as she is there, the story really picks up momentum. At first Carrie thinks that she is only dreaming her story, but as more and more things happen, and she is able to discover that her ancestor really was there, she realises that it is more than a dream, more like having shared memories. As she learns more about the events that happened during the events of 1708, the present begins to eerily echo the past.

    In the past, Sophia is a young orphan who has been sent to stay with distant relatives at Slains after the death of her guardian. Little does she know when she arrives there that her influential family members are Jacobite sympathisers who are playing a direct role in a plan to bring King James to Scotland to try to reclaim his throne, and to stop the Union between England and Scotland. Among those who visit her new home are two men - one a captain in the navy and the other an outlaw sent to Scotland to drum up support for the cause.

    One of the things that I really enjoyed about this novel was the fact that it was set in the earlier events of the Jacobite uprisings. Through my reading of other books and more famous incidents in history, I was relatively aware of the events that led up to the carnage at Culloden, and I vaguely knew that that wasn't the first attempt to bring the Stuarts back to the throne, but I really didn't know much more than that.

    In her own life, Carrie soon feels comfortable in the town with the assistance of her landlord and his two sons who have very different temperaments. If I had to choose which of the romantic story lines I enjoyed more, I would say it was Carrie's story but I am not going to say not much more than that so that if you do choose to read this book you will discover it for yourself.

    Normally if I am reading a book which has these two different time frames it will be the historical setting that I am most anxious to revisit, but with this book I was as engrossed in both settings. When I was with Sophia in 1708 I found myself wondering about Carrie, and when I was with Carrie I was wondering what Sophia was getting up to!

    The ending is possibly a little too convenient, but not enough to impact my enjoyment. It isn't often that I do this, but I am seriously considering buying this book. Normally if I read a library book I don't go out and buy it, but I suspect that this is going to be a book that I might want to immerse myself in more than once.

    I hope that I have been able to convey just how much I loved this book. I had not previously read any Susanna Kearsley, but you can be guaranteed that I will be reading more, and I will be making every attempt to read everything on her back list and looking out for anything coming out in the future as well.

    Please note that in some places this book is published under the title Sophia's Secret. This book was also nominated for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year 2009 which was eventually won by East of the Sun by Julia Gregson which I really enjoyed as well.

    It is not very often that I give a book full marks, but I have no hesitation in rating this book as a 5/5 read. Loved it, loved it, loved it!

    Other Blogger's Thoughts:

    Rosario's Reading Journal
    Jennie's B(ook)log
    A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore

    Saturday, June 27, 2009

    Fan girl moments and Michael Jackson

    I really need to think of a fun title to call those posts where I talk about all different things.

    First, two fan girl moments! This email was in my inbox this morning:

    Yes, I know, it's not really Richard Armitage, but still I think I might keep this email forever!

    Secondly, I was reading Sharon Penman's excellent blog last night and she mentioned that she had met quite a few of my favourite authors at the Historical Novel Society conference a couple of weeks ago, including Diana Gabaldon. Then she wrote this sentence:

    Since Diana’s book tour is going to cover everyplace but the Falkland Islands, you’ve all got a fairly good chance that she might be coming to a book-store near you! A slight exaggeration, but in addition to her U.S. tour, she’ll be visiting New Zealand and Australia and the United Kingdom and Germany
    Squee! Diana Gabaldon is coming to Australia in November. I hadn't discovered her books the last time she toured down here, but she is one of my all time favourite authors, so with the prospect of the new book coming out in September and then going to see her, I am one happy fan girl!

    When you combine that with the fact that there will be a new Paullina Simons book and most likely another Australian tour around that same time, I am going to be one happy reader!

    It's hard not to comment on the death of Michael Jackson. When it seems like the whole world is in mourning, and the news is focusing almost solely on his death. It has led to a couple of interesting conversations in my house.

    A couple of times my son has walked past the TV when they showed pictures of a very young Michael Jackson, and he has asked who it was and then they showed a later picture and he asked that same question and then another question. Why did he want his skin to be white?

    My son is mixed race, and he has what he calls brown skin, although he is pretty light coloured - I would call it dark olive tones maybe. (There are some pictures of him in this post. Click on the photos to enlarge them and you will see what I mean). As far as I know, it has never been a big issue for him, but that doesn't mean to say that it won't be in the future.

    My feelings on Michael Jackson's death - I really enjoyed a lot of his music, and so in terms of musical legacy he leaves behind a body of work that will continue to influence musicians for many years to come. In terms of the man himself there was too much other weird stuff for me to truly love him in the way so many other people seem to do.

    I must say some of the media coverage seems a bit skewed. I was watching CNN for a while last night and they were already talking about what happens in terms of the people who had bought tickets to his upcoming tickets? Huh? I would think that if those people loved him enough to have snapped up tickets, then they would be huge fans, and would be more upset at the news of his death, rather than the fact that the concerts are not going ahead? Surely that comes later?

    Weirdest take on the whole thing? Someone on Facebook provided a link to an article in The Onion where it was suggested that the real Michael Jackson died 18 years ago!

    Whatever the truth is, Michael Jackson really left his mark on the world musically, but was obviously a very troubled man, and like so many famously troubled people before him he died too young.

    RIP Michael Jackson

    Thursday, June 25, 2009

    Complete this sentence

    You know you are reading a good book when....

    Whilst there are any number of other answers to this question normally, tonight the answer is...

    All I can think about is getting back to my book and finding out what happens next!

    How about you? What would you answer to this question?

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009

    Library Loot

    Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and me that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

    I really wanted to thank everyone for their warm welcome to the co-host role for Library Loot. I got to visit a couple of completely new to me blogs, and I know that we had some first time participants last week as well. This week's Mister Linky will be over at Evas so be sure to add your link so we can all come and visit.

    I didn't have a particularly good week this week in terms of library use, not because of the number of books I borrowed, but more because of the number of books that I had to take back unread that were either due today, or already overdue. I think it is fair to say that I will be reborrowing most of them over the next few weeks.

    The books that I did pick up from the library this week were:

    Vexing the Viscount by Emily Bryan - this author was featured over at Royal Reviews in the last couple of weeks, and I thought I would give her books a go.

    Vision in White by Nora Roberts - I don't often buy any Nora Roberts books but I do put my name down at the library to get them when they do come out. This is the first book in the Bride Quartet series.

    Disco Boy by Dominic Knight - I added this book to my list after reading a review of it over at Book Thingo. A love story written by an Australian man who happens to be a fairly famous comedian seems like it might be an interesting read.

    The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - A few weeks ago this book was reviewed over at Book Smugglers, and Ana said "I don’t want to run into any rushed declarations but The Name of the Wind may well be the best book I read since The Book Smugglers’ inception." After a rave review like that I am pretty sure I wasn't the only person who added it to my TBR list!

    The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips - I have been meaning to read this book ever since it first came out but I have never borrowed it before now.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    Weekly Geeks/Once Upon a Time III challenge wrap-up

    It has been ages since I have done a Weekly Geeks post, but this week's topic seems very relevant to a Reading-Challenge-aholic like me!

    "Reading Challenges: a help or a hurt? Do you find that the reading challenges keep you organized and goal-oriented? Or, do you find that as you near the end of a challenge that you've failed because you fell short of your original goals? As a result of some reading challenges, I've picked up books that I would have otherwise never heard of or picked up; that, frankly, I have loved. Have you experienced the same with challenges? If so, which ones? Do you have favorite reading challenges?"
    I have a love hate relationship with reading challenges. I love to do them, but occasionally I do feel pressurised by them. I do think that I am a bit better at them as over the last year or so, I have worked what I need to do out that in order to make the challenges work for me, and not feel as though I am reading just for challenges or what feels a lot like "assigned" reading. The key for me is to only select books that are already on my reading list for any challenges rather than selecting new titles. One of the things that does tend to happen though is that I add a lot more books to the To Be Read list as a result of participating in challenges! That isn't a bad thing, but my list is getting really long already.

    In order to try and keep track of what challenges I am participating and what books I need to read, I now have a spreadsheet that I use to list the books that I am planning to read, along with details like whether they are going to fit for more than one challenge, and the due date to read them by. This doesn't always guarantee that I will meet the challenge deadlines but I get a lot closer than I was.

    So far this year, I have completed 11 challenges which you can see in my side bar) and I am currently participating in 6 challenges as well as 3 ongoing challenges. In fact, the main challenges that I am really struggling with at the moment are those ongoing challenges - The Complete Booker, The Orange Prize Project and the Pulitzer Project as I haven't read anything for any of them at all this year!

    I must confess to being a bit of a magpie when it comes to Reading Challenges. Whilst there are some challenges that I can see myself joining in on for a very long time (for example the Chunkster Challenge, and the Pub challenges), I am also attracted to new challenges particularly if they have very pretty buttons. I know that I am not alone in having 'oh, look at the shiny button!" moments.

    For me, regardless of crossing books off of the TBR list, or having pretty buttons, the best benefit of challenges is without doubt the opportunity to get to know other book bloggers. Even events like Bloggiesta last weekend showed me once again just how many new to me book bloggers there are out there in blogland!

    It seems fitting that in the final part of this post I talk about a challenge that finished in the last few days. Carl V always does an awesome job at the organisation of the three challenges that he runs each year and this year's Once Upon a Time III is no exception. The challenge ran from March 21 to June 20 and the focus was on fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology. I chose to read 5 books from any of the above characters. Since the start of the challenge I have read the following books which fitted the criteria:

    Superior Saturday by Garth Nix
    The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts
    **Marked and Betrayed by PC Cast and Kristin Cast
    Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon
    **Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
    The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
    The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson
    The Terror by Dan Simmons
    Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon
    Fish Out of Water by Mary Janice Davidson
    **My Big Supernatural Wedding anthology
    Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold
    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
    The Dreaming Place by Charles de Lint
    **Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur

    A couple of years ago I wouldn't have called myself a fantasy reader so that list of book actually quite impresses me!

    I thought I would comment on a couple of things. The books that I have masked with the ** are books that possibly fit better into the RIP challenge as most of them feature vampires or werewolves, but I guess they could come under the fantasy label. The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts and The Terror by Dan Simmons are probably more correctly classified as horror as well but I have included them for the purposes of this challenge.

    The reason why I include The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson in the list is because her excellent novel is a retelling of a Celtic myth and one of the main story lines in The Forgotten Garden by
    Kate Morton is about a book of fairy tales and the fairy tale aspect is integral to the storyline.

    So, Once Upon a Time III is over. Roll on RIP!

    Teaser Tuesday

    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read

  • Open to a random page

  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

  • MizB changed the wording for the Teaser Tuesday blurb ages ago but I have only just managed to change it here. Normally I just copy and paste the top bit each week and then do whatever in the rest of the post!

    So, this week's teaser comes from a chunkster of a book that I have been reading for a few days now. I am really enjoying it, and will definitely be reading more from this author but at 864 pages long it is going to take me a couple more train trips to get through yet! The book is A Hollow Crown by Helen Hollick, which is about Queen Emma and King Cnut, who ruled England in the early 1000s, and the quote comes from page 405:

    The tactic here was to kill or mortally wound as many English as possible, and to thrust through, direct and as rapidly as possible, to this bastard of a man who was calling himself King.

    A good tactic, but one difficult to perform, for the other side was trying the selfsame thing.

    Monday, June 22, 2009


    I was very fortunate last night to go and see Pink in concert with a couple of friends.

    I am not really sure why but Pink really seems to have an affinity with Australian audiences. Her songs regularly reach number 1 here, and there are huge album sales. Last time she toured there were all sorts of attendance records broken, and this time those records have been broken as well. I think she is performing something like 58 concerts in Australia, with about 18 of those in Melbourne alone. I think it is partly to do with the fact that she doesn't seem to take herself too seriously which is something that Aussies tend to like a lot.

    The support band was an Australian band called Faker, who I would say have had one mainstream hit and probably a few more alternative hits. I think we missed the one hit, which is called This Heart Attack but they weren't bad. Between Faker and Pink there was a DJ who played a really interesting mix of music, but it was obvious from the crowd that there was only one person who they were there to see! Here's Faker singing This Heart Attack from TV:

    Starting with a short video set to Pink singing a cover version of Highway to Hell, an Australian classic by AC/DC, the show was an interesting mix of high energy songs, more mellow tunes and a fair sprinkling of cover versions. And make no mistake, this was a show. A lot of musicians go and play music and maybe have some lighting effects and video behind them to add visual interest but there was a more musical theatre feeling to a lot of what was done, with outlandish costumes, a really interesting set and a few acrobat style tricks.

    For me the highlights were a really, really hot version of another Australian classic, I Touch Myself originally sung by The Divinyls, a totally awesome version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. For the high energy songs it is hard to go against So What? which had the whole crowd going crazy and there were plenty of quieter moments as well, including a spine tingling rendition of Family Portrait. I must confess I was pleasantly surprised by how strong her voice was.

    One weird thing was that we weren't allowed to take any water bottles into the stadium, not even the ones that were bought inside. If you bought a drink the servers had to pour the drink into cups before they could give it to us! The other things I learnt were how to use the zoom on my phone camera and that the flash is really, really bright! I really needed the zoom because we were sitting up the very back, so none of the photos are all that good, but it doesn't matter because we had a totally awesome time!

    By the time we got out of the car park and I dropped my friend off, I didn't get home until well after 12.30 which is a bit late on a work night, and I am feeling it quite a bit today! Oh well, it's not like it happens often, and it definitely won't stop me from trying to go to see her again when she comes back again.

    In the meantime, I am trying to find at least one of my friends who I can give some Keith Urban CDs too so I can go and see him if he tours here! I am almost tempted to go by myself but it would definitely be better to have someone to go with!

    Miranda's Big Mistake by Jill Mansell

    Miranda is thrilled with Greg. He's gorgeous, funny, and practically perfect. Greg thinks Miranda is great, but he hasn't told her everything about himself. After all, even the sweetest girl is likely to be put off by a man who's left his newly pregnant wife. But there's now way she'll ever find out... is there?

    When Greg inevitably breaks Miranda's heart, her friend Danny is there to cheer her up, and they quickly wreaks an unforgettable revenge. Miranda's now ready to move on to another affair - but will Danny get a chance to tell her he's in love with her himself...

    There are some days when you don't want to read something that is hard to concentrate on or just long! When I read this book, I was actually in the middle of reading The Terror by Dan Simmons. I may (or may not) have stayed up until 2am messing around on the computer and so was really, really over tired when I began my trip to work, and the thought of carrying around an 800 plus page opus that was somewhat heavy to read as well was the last thing that I would be able to stay awake for. So instead, on my way out of the door, I grabbed this book, and it was a perfect read for me. In the end I read it on the train trip to and from work, and then finished the last part of the book that night. It was exactly what I needed to read on that day! Probably could have done without tearing up on the train at certain parts of the book, but I like it when a book affects me emotionally.

    The two main female characters in this book are Miranda and Chloe. Miranda is a somewhat unique young lady who works as an apprentice hair dresser at a celebrity hair salon run by a very patient boss by the name of Fenn. She lodges with an older lady named Florence who is now in a wheelchair and is a little neglected by her family, unless of course they want something from her.

    Chloe thought she was happily married to a man named Greg, until she finds out that she is pregnant. Greg had told her that he didn't want children and left her as soon as he found out about the baby. Chloe works in an antique shop that happens to be owned by Florence's somewhat lame son. Unable to continue to afford her current flat, Chloe is thrilled when Florence offers her a room in her house at an affordable cost.

    Greg and his mate attend a celebrity function where he meets Miranda and they instantly click. Miranda falls hard for Greg and has no idea that he has been less than honest about his past. To the reader, Greg is clearly a cad, and when the truth comes out Miranda determines that she needs to teach him a lesson.

    To aid her in her ruse, Miranda enlists the help of not only Florence, Fenn and Chloe, but also the resources of her new friend Danny who is a journalist who has made Miranda one of the stars of the documentary he is shooting about the plight of homeless people in London.

    Whilst Miranda is recovering from her broken heart she meets grand prix racing driver Miles, and she again finds herself treading the path towards new love. With Danny on the sidelines, Florence providing advice and getting one up on her snivelling son and daughter in law, and Chloe beginning to find her own feet in her new life, there is a lot going on.

    I must confess I was very surprised at the twist in the tale of this one. When I read my last Mansell (An Offer You Can't Refuse), one of the things that I was a little critical of was how neatly all the loose ends were tied up at the end of the novel. The same is true of this one, all the loose ends are tidied up, but in no way would I call it a neat solution for all the characters.

    With a full cast of entertaining characters, interesting secondary storylines, a few tears and more than a few smiles and laugh out loud moments, this is definitely a book that I would recommend to anyone who likes chick lit, or who just wants a fun beach read.

    If you want to read for pure entertainment then so far Mansell hasn't disappointed. If I had to pick whether I enjoyed An Offer You Can't Refuse or this book more, I would probably have to go with this one, but it is a very close race! The next book to be released by Sourcebooks is going to be Millie's Fling which I read years ago along with another book called Good at Games . I have fond memories of both books and I am planning to reacquainting myself with more fun characters, and an entertaining storyline.

    My thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for sending this book to me for review.

    Other Blogger's Thoughts:

    S Krishna's Books
    Cindy's Love of Books
    Booking Mama

    Sunday, June 21, 2009

    Final Bloggiesta Update

    I was planning to get up this morning and sneak in a few more Bloggiesta activities but it didn't happen as I was out and about early to go to a papercraft show, Paperific. I haven't been to this show before, but I think I was expecting something a bit bigger. While I didn't spend too much money really, I did pick up a couple of new techniques that I might well be using shortly, and I will be able to show you some results as well.

    Bloggiesta has officially finished for me, but I have a couple of hours spare before I go out again, so I have done a couple more of the mini challenges. The first one I did was Bookish Ruth's Grade Your Blog exercise. By running my blog through Website Grader I got the following grade

    Don't ask me what that means though. The report that was generated was quite comprehensive and gave quite a few suggestions, so I will probably try to read it over a few more times over the next few days and see which recommendations I will take up and which ones I won't worry about at this time.

    The other thing that I have done this afternoon is to try and set up some Google Alerts as per Emily's Reading Room mini challenge. I think one of the difficult things that is a little challenging is to come up Google Alerts that will pick up the kinds of things I am interested in without bringing in an overwhelming number of alerts each days. At this point I have set up one for Reading Adventures and another for Historical Tapestry, and I am going to set up another about historical fiction but I haven't quite decided how to word this one just yet.

    Whilst I probably didn't get as much done as I would really have liked to during Bloggiesta, I definitely found the mini-challenges very interesting and worth while. I would have liked to have managed to get around and visit a few others who were participating but unfortunately the event coincided with a pretty busy weekend for me.

    Speaking of which, I did say that I would give another hint about the concert that I am going to go to tonight! I am not sure that posting a Youtube video is a hint exactly, because basically it tells you who it is! I am really looking forward to seeing the concert!

    Saturday, June 20, 2009

    Bloggiesta Update

    I am about to go to bed on Saturday night my time, but I thought I would just do a quick Bloggiesta update.

    So far today I have managed to clean out my links on the sidebar and also take a few of the things out of the right hand sidebar so it is a little less cluttered. I have spent a long time getting through the feeds in my feed reader. All up I have probably spent about 6 solid hours messing around. It has really been longer but I was doing other stuff (Facebook and chatting online etc) so I am rounding it down to 6 hours.

    I have created a new gravatar as per Trish's challenge. Now hopefully when I leave a comment you will see my little knight that is up there underneath my About Me section. I used to have a pile of books as my gravatar but I had had that for a number of years so it's about time for a change. I am planning to maybe get a favicon as well, but the site that I need to do that had exceeded its bandwidth earlier today so I will have to come back to it.

    Probably the most surprising thing is that I have managed to actually write not one, but two reviews! The first has been posted, and the second will be posted tomorrow at some stage.

    I am hoping to still do the mini-challenge which talks about Google alerts, and to visit 10 new to me bloggers tomorrow to leave comments. You know it always astounds me when I look at lists of book bloggers because the numbers just keep on growing and growing. I will have no trouble finding 10 new to me bloggers from the list of bloggers who have signed up for Bloggiesta.

    I will have limited time to spend on this tomorrow because I have a pretty big day lined up. In the morning I am going to Paperiffic which is a paper crafts exhibition/show with my sister and a friend, and then tomorrow night I am going to a big concert with another couple of friends. Maybe tommorrow I will give you a bit more of a hint as to who I am going to see!

    Why Shoot a Butler by Georgette Heyer

    Every family has secrets, but the Fountains are turning deadly…

    On a dark night, along a lonely country road, barrister Frank Amberley stops to help a young lady in distress and discovers a sports car with a corpse behind the wheel. The Girl protests her innocence, and Amberley believes her – at least until he gets drawn into mystery and the clues incriminating Shirley brown begin to add up…

    In an English country house murder mystery with a twist, it’s the butler who is the victim, every clue complicates the puzzle, and the bumbling police are well-meaning but completely baffled. Fortunately, in ferreting out a desperate killer, amateur sleuth Amberley is as brilliant as he is arrogant, but this time he’s not sure he wants to know the truth…

    Georgette Heyer is a name that I have always known as one of the most loved historical romance authors. I had no idea that she also wrote mysteries so when I was offered this book for review I jumped at the chance! Then I was without internet for what felt like an eternity and now I am trying to catch up with those books I have to review that I read during that time.

    In this book the main character is a cocky young barrister by the name of Frank Amberley. He is on his way to visit some family members when he comes across a vehicle that is stopped in the narrow roadway with a visibly distressed young woman nearby and a dead man at the wheel. The young lady is insistent that she didn't do it and Amberley believes her. He is soon drawn into the investigation at the invitation of the local police force chief, although it is fair to say not all the police are happy about that.

    What follows are a series of events that lead to more deaths, to other crimes, and to a complicated web of family relationships and servants faithfulness (or otherwise) that draws the readers into the upper class world of the English country house. Where normally the butler does it, this time it is the butler who got done, but who could possibly have wanted a butler dead, and how far will they go to protect their own identities?

    In many ways this was an interesting read but it was by no means a perfect book. There is a certain irony in the fact that for me the weakest aspect of this book was the romantic subplot that just sort of happened towards the end of the book and came out of left field. Once the killer was unveiled it was also not a really surprising reason, but it was certainly an interesting journey getting to that point.

    Whilst many of the secondary characters were pretty stereotypical, the main characters seemed to be overly brusque and arrogant and just generally unlikeable. The strange thing is that I can't work out whether it worked for me or not. Frank was arrogant, overly clever and patronising, and yet he also showed his family loyalties and was steadfast in his insistence that justice needed to be done. In a way Frank's characteristics kind of worked for this story, but for example I couldn't see a whole series being developed around him as a main character because he would just annoy too many readers - or this reader at least.

    There was however some cracking dialogue throughout the novel, and some interesting details about life in an earlier time although I daresay if I had of been reading these books at an earlier time nearer to publication I would not have even noticed. For example, at one point there is a chase with our intrepid main character driving his car at hair raising speeds and stopping in each town to talk to the traffic policeman to ask if they had seen the car that they were chasing. Images from a time long gone!

    I am glad that Sourcebooks are rereleasing so many of Heyer's books, and I am hopeful that I will continue to read more. I also really like the covers for a lot of their rereleased mysteries, some of which are show below. Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for sending me this book for review.

    Rating 3.5/5


    So this weekend is Bloggiesta weekend! So far today I have spent a couple of hours reading all the mini challenges, thinking about what it is that I am going to do to this blog, and then actually doing something!

    So far I have gone through my links list in the sidebar and cleaned out the out of date links and generally updated.

    There are quite a lot of suggestions for mini challenges so far - a couple of which I am intending to do. The first one I read was about cleaning out the feed reader. I have to say that it would take me more than a weekend to do that, but I really, really need to so maybe I will break it into sections.

    Some of the other challenges include:

    Thursday, June 18, 2009


    Kristie J is asking what do we all have as wallpaper. Mine used to be of my son, but it changed about 18 months ago and I have not yet found anything that I want to replace it with. My son does keep on hinting that maybe I should put another picture of him up, but you know, he might just have to wait a little while longer!

    I don't think a lot of people will be surprised to see who stars on my wallpaper!

    Wednesday, June 17, 2009

    Library Loot announcement

    You may have noticed that I am a pretty faithful patron of my local library. At any one time, I have a lot of books out and there always seems to be more waiting to be picked up. When Eva put out a call for a co host of the weekly Library Loot meme it made a lot of sense for me to volunteer my services, and luckily for me, Eva accepted, so from now on Eva and I will be co hosting Library Loot which I am very excited about!

    Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by myself and Eva that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

    I did mention a few posts ago that one of the things that I did while I was on my enforced internet break was get a new book case! I have been meaning to for at least 2 years, but it never quite seemed to be the right time! When I was at Ikea I did think that I was picking up the boxes for just a bookcase (with no space for a TV) but apparently not. I only figured that out as my friend and I were putting it together, but in the end I am thinking that I am pretty happy with it the way it was. So here is the new bookcase, you will see that there still seems to be a fair bit of space. In theory I should really reorganise the bookcase in the other room as that is stacked with books in every available space, but the books that are in here are all books that were sitting around in piles in the lounge room, precariously on top of the other bookshelf, or in my bedroom, or on the kitchen bench etc etc.

    My point in mentioning this now is Library Loot related because the three cubes on the right hand side are my library books shelves. I don't think that it looks too bad, until you realise that two of those three cubes are already double stacked!

    The only thing missing from this Library Loot post is the library books! I have literally just got back from picking up the following books:

    Winston's War
    by Michael Dobbs. I have expressed numerous times my aversion to reading a series out of order, but this is one series that I am doing it with. I have read the second and fourth books, and this is the first. I have borrowed this one a few times but never managed to actually get to read it. Maybe I will get to this time.

    Remember When
    by Nora Roberts/J D Robb - This is the next book in the In Death series which I really enjoy. From what I can gather this book is something of a hybrid between a normal Nora Roberts and the futuristic cop stories that form the J D Robb books. I have no idea how this is structured so it will be interested to see how she has managed it.

    Her Secret Pleasure by Gaelen Foley - I seem to have picked up quite a few romances this visit. This is the second book in the Spice trilogy.

    First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh - Another book that I have borrowed before but had to return because someone else had requested it. The first book in the Huxtable series.

    Dream Hunter by Sherrilyn Kenyon - next book in the Dark Hunter series.

    Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas - I have really enjoyed both of this author's previous books, Private Arrangements and Delicious, and this appears to be another unusual setting.

    Would you like to participate in Library Loot. Leave your link in Mr. Linky!

    Update to add: Mr Linky seems to working a little infrequently. If it isn't working for you, simply leave a comment.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Teaser Tuesday

    Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Should be Reading:

    • Grab your current read.
    • Let the book fall open to a random page.
    • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
    • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
    • Please avoid spoilers!

    I am very excited about my teaser this week, simply because I love Kelley Armstrong's writing, whether she is writing her Otherworld series, or anything else! This week's teaser comes from page 132 of Made to be Broken, the second book in the Nadia Stafford series which features a hitwoman as the main character. I am not sure that there are too many other authors around who I would trust to make a hitwoman a likable main character, but I definitely trust Kelley Armstrong.

    The voice startled me from my thoughts and I spun to see him on a bench beside the cenotaph. He lifted his lit cigarette, with a grunt that probably translated to "want some?" I did. I haven't officially smoked in years, but I'm not above talking a drag off Jack's now and then, especially if I could use the nicotine hit to calm my swirling thoughts.

    Monday, June 15, 2009

    A little bit of this and that

    I think that the world is trying to send me a cosmic message - catch up on your blogging! Not only is this weeks Weekly Geeks theme about catching up on reviews, Natasha from Maw Books is also hosting Bloggiesta this weekend. The idea of Bloggiesta is to "focus on blog content, improving/cleaning up your blog or working on your social network profiles". The sad truth is that I have so many reviews in draft that I will never catch up, but it does seem like a good time to go through and maybe clean up my links in the sidebar and write a couple of reviews. I do have a big weekend coming up but I am sure I can do something! If you would like me to add your link in to my blogroll please let me know.

    I meant to mention that one of the things that I have had to do in order to have anyhope whatsoever is mark a whole lot of blog posts as read. By the time I had a month of either limited or no internet access my Bloglines account had over 11000 unread posts. Whilst I did get through quite a few of them, in the end I decided that it will take me a week if not to get through the rest of them, and it would be time better spent for me to actually be posting as opposed to reading all the blogs entry. I really hate doing that because I always get the feeling that I might have missed out on something great! My apologies to those people who I had to do that to!

    One of the events that I missed out on over the last few weeks was the Mystery Read-a-thon. I didn't even hear about it until it was all over, but no danger of that happening this time. The second incarnation of this event is being held on August 8-9, and I am definitely planning on participating this time around.

    To finish off this post I thought that I would post the trailer for the upcoming version of The Time Traveler's Wife. I have seen it a couple of other places around blogs, but I quite like it. When I read the book in my pre blogging days I remember sobbing as I read the end. Not just tears rolling down the cheeks but ugly, ugly big crying. Now, I am a crier from way back, but the fact that I was already tearing up watching this trailer means that I will have to be careful about who I go to the movies to see this with!

    I have to say that normally Eric Bana doesn't do a lot for me but he looks quite good in this movie. Part of the reason for my ambivalent attitude is that I remember when Eric Bana was one of the members of an Australian comedy skit show and was really not hot. One of these days I will get over that early impression. He has done amazingly well and so is one of Melbourne's favourite sons! I do like him, I just don't normally lust after him. Here's an early comedy sketch:

    Sunday, June 14, 2009

    A pleasant Sunday afternoon

    I mentioned a couple of days ago that one of the things I got for my birthday was a Borders gift card. I don't really enjoy bookstore browsing these days mainly because I know that I can get almost anything that I want to read from the library. The other factor is that most of the time the books that catch my eye are the books I have already read.

    Yesterday I was getting a massage and was chatting to the girl who was doing it and she just happened to mention that there was a new Borders that had opened in Geelong which is a town about 40 minutes away from where I live. There is another Borders that is probably a bit closer but it is in a major shopping centre and the parking is a real hassle. It was also a pretty nice winter day here so I thought that it would be good to go for the drive down to Geelong and then I could pick up something. I really only had one firm idea of what book I was going to buy, and a couple of other vague ideas for other choices, but in the end I managed to spend all my birthday book money.

    The books I ended up buying were:

    The House of Special Purpose by John Boyne

    I am not sure why but it always seems to be something of a surprise to me to hear that John Boyne has a new book out. I am not really sure why there isn't any hype around them, but I found out ages after his Mutiny on the Bounty book came out (which I have out from the library but haven't read yet). The first I knew about this book was when I saw it on the new release shelf, but given that it features the Romanovs this was a pretty easy choice for me to make.

    Love at First Bite anthology

    This anthology is one that my library hasn't bought yet, and it contains the next Sherrilyn Kenyon story in her Dark Hunter series so this was a good opportunity to get it.

    It Happened One Night anthology

    Another anthology that my library hasn't bought, although thankfully it doesn't contain any entries in series that I am reading. I mainly got this for the Mary Balogh story, although it will also be a chance for me to read Stephanie Laurens as well. How a historical romance reader like me hasn't managed to read her is something of a mystery to me!

    The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    This was the book that I knew I was going to get. Since the first moment I heard that there was a new Carlos Ruiz Zafon book coming out I have been excited, even when I knew that there was still a year to wait for the English translation. Then I watched as loads of bloggers got to review ARCs and there was still no sign of it here, but now, I have my own copy. Now I just need to try and clear some space in the reading schedule to fit it in!

    Party in my Tummy (Yo Gabba Gabba series)

    For my nephew!

    And just like that $100 is gone! Books here are so expensive. The Boyne was $36.50 for the trade paperback, and that is the price that The Angel's Game should have been as well but it was reduced for this week. That's part of the reason why most times I do buy a book I will buy it from The Book Depository. Even with the exchange rates not being great, it is still usually cheaper for me to buy it from there than it is to work into a bookstore there. This time it definitely helped that I wasn't actually paying for the books really!

    Not sure if I would go to the Borders at Geelong specially again as it was a pretty small store, but there are other reasons for going down there. After shopping my son and I went for a walk along the foreshore at Geelong. When I first visited Geelong about 20-25 years ago, the foreshore was a bit of a dump really but they have really done a lot of work at revitalising the area. All along the main part there are lots of public spaces, restaurants etc and it is a real pleasure to wander along there.

    Something that is pretty unique to Geelong is a collection of bollards that have been taken from the former pier and wharf buildings and have been painted up by a local artist to give what the guide says is an "affectionate history" of the town. There are 46 different displays covering a couple of kilometres including over one hundred separate displays. We didn't see all of them but one day I intend to start at one end and walk (or perhaps ride) all the way along.

    I am still very excited by my new phone, so may have been a little snap happy but here are photos of some of the bollards that we saw during the day (click on the images for a larger picture):

    Peter Lalor is a famous Australian as he led a revolt on the goldfields known as the Eureka Stockade in the 1860s against the unfair mining regulations.

    Victorian bathers

    The Volunteer Rifle Band

    This is an early Geelong player of Australian Rules football.

    This bollard represents a dance hall and rollerskating venue that stood near the spot. One of the regular themes was dressing up and that is why this one appears as it does.