Sunday, January 31, 2010

My first Sunday Salon post (kind of)

The Sunday Salon.comI had decided that I was going to try and join in on the Sunday Salon posts. I know that there are hundreds of participants so they won't exactly have missed me when I haven't been participating, but I think that I need to have some kind of discipline so that I actually sit down and post something on the weekends. It also turns out that they are not accepting new members, but oh well, I will just post anyway! Maybe something similar will show up at some point that I can officially join in on.

On the weekends I think a lot about the posts that I intend to write, I just don't often do it! It's not like I don't just sit in front of the computer on the weekend - I do - but I spend most of that time either on Twitter or on reading other people's blogs, rather than actually writing for my own, or playing stupid Facebook games (damn you Bejeweled Blitz).

I often wonder whether other people do that too. If you sit down at the computer, do you read everyone else's blogs and then write your own posts, or do you write your posts and then go and visit other people?

So I should start writing about the topic I have chosen for my first Sunday Salon (kind of) post. I went to the hairdresser yesterday. Without getting too far off of topic before I even start properly, I gave instructions to say I liked what I had done last time. The girl who did it last time was on holidays, so I spoke to a new hairdresser about what I wanted, who then went home sick, and so my hair was cut by someone different again. The end result is that I my hair is shorter, blonder and cost more than I anticipated. Anyway....

Like many other people, I prepared for at least 3 hours of sitting in the hairdresser's chair by taking a book with me. I know that I am not the only one who does that because there were at least four of us in the salon who had brought their book with them. One of the girls was reading Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell, and actually ended up leaving her book behind when she left. One of the other girls was reading an absolute chunkster of a book that I couldn't quite read the title of. I really wanted to go and see what she was reading but I didn't think that the colourist would necessarily appreciate me getting up and walking around. I could have yelled out across the room, but (a) I am a lady (said in my best Little Britain voice) and (b) the music was pretty darned loud.

For the most part, I managed to get some pretty solid reading time in, especially once the foils were in. It got a bit tricky while they were being put in though. It was okay while the back was being done, but as the colourist started doing the side she was moving my head so I was on odd angles, and then she got someone to help her do the other side. At one point they asked that I take my glasses off, at which point I was very pleased that I was reading a large print novel that I had borrowed from the library and not one with normal size print. If I had to read a normal novel without my glasses for a good two hours I would have gone home with a headache for sure. Again I managed, until I was at really good points in the book and suddenly I kept on having bits of foil stuck in front of my eyes while they applied the colour. Because there were two of them doing it, at one stage I had a one centimetre gap that I was trying to read though, but I was not deterred from trying to read still!

Once they finished taking all the foils out, it was time for washing and cutting and styling, so my reading time was over, but it was nice to have a good couple of hours of mostly uninterrupted reading, which is more than I would have got if I had of been at home! And in case you were wondering, the book I was reading was Leonardo's Swans by Karen Essex.

January wrap up

How is it that when we were kids a month would take forever to pass? Now, a month is over in a blink of an eye, tomorrow the boy goes back to school after the Christmas holidays, and it is time to do my January reading roundup! Before I get started, I should make a note about the photo I am using for this post. I was searching around on Google for some kind of image to decorate the top of this post, when I had a sudden brainwave! I had a couple of photos on my phone which I took at the beach a couple of weeks ago. The main reason I took them was to be mean to Stephanie who was talking about all the snow she could see out of her window, when I was going to the beach! Luckily we have been friends for a long time!

In my December Reading Roundup, I talked about the fact that I thought my days of reading 18-20 books a month were over, and that I expected that my new normal would probably be closer to 11-13 books per month. So of course, I had to go and make a liar of myself and get through 18 books in January, and that's with only finishing one book in the last week of the month. Who knows what my new normal is, because I really, really don't!

One of the reasons why this month was a bit odd was the fact that I reread 3 books in January. Last year, I reread three books in the whole year. In 2008, I only reread one book, in 2007 I had no rereads and in 2006 there was only one. It's fair to say that I am not much of a rereader, so the fact that there have been three already in the first month of this year is a bit unusual. There was another odd thing as well. At one point this month I had four books on the go (not all that unusual), and not one of them was a library book. I can't remember the last time that happened.

So here is my list of reads for January, along with my rating out of 5:

The Sharing Knife: Passage by Lois McMaster Bujold 4/5
Love at First Bite anthology 4/5
The Awakening by L J Smith 4/5
Men of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong 4.5/5
Rumour Has It by Jill Mansell 4.5/5
The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien 4.5/5 (reread)
Hunted by P C Cast and Kristin Cast 3.5/5
Bravo Mr William Shakespeare presented by Marcia Williams 4/5
The Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters 3.5/5
Shadowfae by Erica Hayes 3.5/5
The Night They Stormed Eureka by Jackie French 4/5
A Dangerous Love by Sabrina Jeffries 4/5
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett 4.5/5 (reread)
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford 4/5
Disco Boy by Dominic Knight 4/5
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett 3.5/5 (reread)
Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale 4.5/5

One of the highlights of January blogging wise was Bloggiesta. Some times that bit of encouragement to get things done is exactly what is required. One of the challenges was the commenting challenge that was being hosted by Pam at MotherReader. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that it turns out that I didn't have a problem commenting on blogs, but I was surprised to find that in the last three weeks I have commented around about 285 times and that is without going out of the way to do anything out of the ordinary. In fact, if anything I have managed to do less blog hopping in that three weeks that I normally would. I would never have thought that I would have commented anywhere near that many times, but apparently I have. I am going to stop keeping track now, because it is a bit time consuming (and not to mention a bit anal to sit there and record every comment made!) but it was a useful exercise to do as a once off.

One thing I was pleased with in January was that I managed to get quite a few books read for the challenges that I signed up for. Not enough to finish any of them, but a substantial start at least!

Not only did I manage to read for a challenge, I also managed to watch something for a challenge as well! For the Period Drama Challenge, which I have been terrible at participating in, I watched and enjoyed all three parts of the mini-series adaptation of Larry McMurtry's Comanche Moon. I also watched another movie that I haven't quite decided if it qualifies as a period drama or not, and that was the movie Grey Gardens which stars Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange amongst others.  The movie covers the period from the late 20s through to the 60s or 70s, so might qualify. I am going to count it for now!

I also, finally, managed to start the L J Smith reading challenge by reading the first book in the Vampire Diaries series, The Awakening. I currently have the second book out of the library so look forward to more progress on that challenge!

I am pleased with the start that I have made for both the 100+ Reading Challenge and the Support Your Local Library Challenge, with 15 books and 11 books read respectively.

Historical fiction and historical romance are among my favourite type of books to read - anything with a historical setting and I am happy! So, when I looked at my list of reads in January and realised that half way through the month I hadn't read one that qualified for the Year of the Historical Challenge, I was a bit surprised. In the end I had a few books to choose from as the book for this challenge, but I think I will stick with The Night They Stormed Eureka by Jackie French. This book is a YA/time travel/historical fiction novel which was set during one of the most famous and influential events in Australian history - The Eureka Stockade. I do have a post half written about this book, so will hopefully be able to finish that post shortly and post a bit more about the book and the event.

I managed to read three books for the Romance Reading Challenge that is being hosted a Royal Reviews. The most pleasing thing about that is that I was able to read across subgenres. I read Shadowfae by Erica Hayes (paranormal/erotic), A Dangerous Love by Sabrina Jeffries (historical) and Virgin River by Robyn Carr (contemporary).  Given that I very rarely read contemporary romance except by Nora Roberts, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Virgin River, and will be trying to locate the next books in the series. It is kind of strange really. My library has the first book in the series, and then every book from the fourth book on, but not the second and third book. To be honest I am not quite sure how that happens so regularly. Next time I go to the library I am going to try to remember to ask for them. I know that they are available through interlibrary loan if my library isn't prepared to purchase the missing parts of the series.

Another challenge hosted by Royal Reviews is the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. A lot of the books that I read for this book will cross over into a couple of the other challenges I am reading for as well. This month, the books that I read that qualified for this challenge are The Night They Stormed Eureka by Jackie French and The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. I am hosting the blog tour for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet over at Historical Tapestry early in February, so I need to hurry up and write the review for the book!

The challenge that I made the most pleasing progress on this month (for me personally anyway) is the Aussie Author Challenge. Every year one of my goals is to read more Aussie authors. So far this year, I have managed to read three books by Australian authors - The Night They Stormed Eureka by Jackie French, Disco Boy by Dominic Knight and Shadowfae by Erica Hayes. It is fair to say that that is a pretty eclectic mix.

One challenge that I do every year, but always make a slow start on is the Pub Challenge. This year's is the 2010 Pub Challenge, where the challenge is to read books that are originally published in 2010. The one book that I read in January that qualifies for this challenge is Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale. If you like your romances historical, then this is one to look out for!

I should probably mention that I managed to read some books for my own challenge this month! (Very nearly forgot). After having not read any books for the Terry Pratchett reading challenge in it's first month, this month I managed to read two, and I have the next book in the series requested from the library. I also discovered some of the books that I don't own on my brother-in-law's bookshelf. I think we may have had a conversation about being Pratchett fans many years ago, but I can't remember talking about it any time recently.

You would think from looking at that list that I have more than enough challenges to keep my going, but apparently not! I am therefore going to confirm my sign up to two more challenges today as well. The first is for the French Historical Challenge: Oh-la-la! being hosted by Lucy from Enchanted by Josephine. I am aiming to reach the La Princesse level, by reading three historical books set in France

The last challenge that I have signed up for (so far) is The Michener Challenge, which is being hosted by Michelle from True Book Addict at The Michener Challenge blog. I have really fond memories of reading some of James Michener's epic novels like Mexico and Hawaii, and I would like to revisit some of them as part of the challenge. This is a perpetual challenge, so no levels, or time frames! I am looking forward to finding some books to read for it.

All that remains now for this month's reading round up is to award myself my NaJuReMoNo award! I read twelve books that qualified for NaJuReMoNo this year (rereads don't count, and neither do books that you had started before 1 January):


Phew! After finishing this challenge update I am ready to go for a lie down and read. In theory, I am going to write a Sunday Salon post today for the first time. Originally I was planning for this post to be that Sunday Salon post but then I remembered that I actually wanted to post about something else!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Library Loot - January 27 - February 2

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 wonder why it seems such a surprise how quickly time passes? It's nearly February already! Where does the time go?  Since the beginning of the year we have had a number of new participants join in on Library Loot. If you haven't already, please sure to stop by and say hi to the following bloggers:

Bonnie from Red Lady's Reading Room
Cat from Tell Me a Story
Colleen from Colleen's Reads
Cathy from Greyt Thoughts
Natalie from Reading2Learn
Natasha from Maw Books
Emily from Books, The Universe and Everything
JS Peyton from Biblioaddict
Trish from Trisha's Book Blog

If you would like to join in on Library Loot, just leave your link on this week's Mr Linky so that we can all come by and check out your loot!

My loot this week is a mixture of new loot and reloot, including a couple of books that I am really looking forward to reading:

Emperor: The Gates of Rome by Conn Iggulden (Reloot) - I really enjoyed the books in the Genghis Khan series by Iggulden, so now I am going back to read his earlier series about Caesar.

The Oak Apple by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles (Reloot) - The next book in the Morland Dynasty series.

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier - Juliet Marillier is one of those authors I have been meaning to read for ages. Every time I read a review for one of her books, it is always very positive and I finally got around to putting her on request. I originally requested another one of her books, but Angie from Angieville insisted that I really needed to start with this book!

Roses by Leila Meacham - Until a few weeks ago I hadn't anything about this book, then I saw it mentioned on the USA Today bookpages, and then I saw it mentioned all over the place! A sprawling saga set in the South sounds exactly like something I would enjoy!

Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig - The latest book in the Pink Carnation series, this time set in India! I am looking forward to reading this one a lot, as I have heard good things about it!

So there you have my loot for this week! I am guaranteed to have more loot next week. I currently have six items on hold waiting to be picked up, but only four spaces on my library card. Not quite sure how I am going to juggle that, but I am sure I will manage.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Lessons in French

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!

I wasn't sure which book to do a teaser from this week. I finished another Terry Pratchett book today, but I only just did a teaser from another of his books last week, so I decided against it. One of the other options is a book that I have just started, but then I looked on my nightstand for the book that I have been reading at night, and decided, that yes, something romantic might be in order. This week's teaser therefore comes from Lessons in French by much loved romance author Laura Kinsale. The teaser comes from page 181:

Hubert proved himself a splendid gentleman, worthy of his exalted lineage and genteel upbringing, in his transit from the kitchen to the front door. Following Callie and a trail of carrots, he moved one ponderous step at a time, his big head swaying gently under the replaced blindfold.

I probably should mention that Hubert is a prize bull. I possibly could have actually found a romantic passage, but this is the one that I opened the page on!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters

Who stole Egypt's priceless treasure? This question haunts the authorities after a distinguished British gentleman cons his way past a security guard and carries off a world-famous relic. The brazen crime bears all the marks of Sir John Smythe, international art thief and longtime "significant other" of Vicky Bliss. When John swears his innocence, Vicky takes a hiatus from her Munich art museum job and sets out with John for the Middle East.

Pursued by Interpol, the Egyptian police, gangs of antiquities thieves, and her inquisitive boss, Vicky is determined to find the real culprit. But each new clue raises even more questions for the intrepid Vicky, and when a ransom note arrives accompanied by a grisly memento, it appears murder most foul must be added to the equation.

There are some authors that you can forgive more than others for missteps. For me, Elizabeth Peters is one of those authors. For example, I have talked before about how I find the relationship between Harper and Tolliver in Charlaine Harris' Harper Connelly series a bit 'squicky', but it doesn't bother me if I am talking about Ramses and Nefret who share a similar degree of a closeness in the Amelia Peabody series. Another example, without giving too much away is that the characters from the Vicky Bliss series end up intersecting with the storylines from the Amelia Peabody series, which was fun. Not sure that every author out there could pull it off so seamlessly, but here it worked for the most part.

So given that I am highlighting things that did work for me, does that mean that there are things that didn't work so much for me? Unfortunately yes.

The first thing that I really struggled with when reading this book is the fact that it has a contemporary setting, meaning that the characters send and receive email, text messages, carry mobile phones. Why should that bother me? Actually it probably wouldn't have bothered me all that much except for the fact that in the author note at the beginning of the book, Elizabeth Peters acknowledged the fact that the first Vicky Bliss book was released in 1973 and had a contemporary setting. The last book in the series was released in 1994 and had a 'current' setting, and now this book was released in 2008, and again had a current setting. Vicky as a character has only aged a couple of years and in 35 years the world has changed a lot. The author talked about it being the 'current now', and basically says I don't really care about the timing issues as I am the God of the Vicky Bliss universe. If I hadn't of read the author note at the beginning, I probably would have started reading and not even really noticed the 'current now' issues, but because it was pointed out to me, every time one of these incidents happened in the first 100 or so pages, I was jolted out of the book. So every time on of the characters took out their cell phone to make a call, or checked their emails, or whatever it was, it took me a minute to get back into the story again, and most of the time it didn't add a great deal to the storyline anyway.

When I was sitting down to write this reaction (don't think it is really a review as such), I wandered over to have a look at the Amazon reviews, simply because I wanted to see if the next thing I was going to talk about bothered anyone else. Apparently not, so I must be on my own on this one. It's not the first time I have seen this in a book (I think it happened in Dan Brown's last book but I am not 100% sure) but I really, really don't like it when an author writes themself into the story as a character! I don't want to say too much more though. The only thing that had any saving grace in this case was that the appearance hinted at more Amelia Peabody books, but that didn't save the situation completely for me. In that same vain, having a character from of the series you write reading books from the other series that you right really isn't that good a move, in my opinion anyway.

It may sounds as though I didn't enjoy this book, but I really did. There were large sections of the novels where I was lost in the world that Peters has created, especially in the sections in Egypt, and seeing the contrast between the Egypt of the Peabody series (late 1890-1920s) to now. What I would suggest however is that this is not a place to start if you are interested in reading Elizabeth Peters. This novel assumes that you have read previous books in the series, that you understand the dynamics of the relationship between Vicky and John, and with the other minor characters, many of whom are returning for repeat appearances from earlier books in the series.

The best part in this novel was in relation to Vicky's lovable, eccentric and apparently very wealthy boss, Herr Schmidt who reveals a very handy talent in this novel, which is a lot of fun.

I guess to summarise, this book was obviously one that was written for the fans. I am not sure that this book needed to be written as the ending of Night Train to Memphis seems to really tie most of the loose ends up sufficiently. I am glad to read it, and to be honest, if Elizabeth Peters was to announce another Vicky Bliss novel, I would definitely still read it. The Vicky Bliss series is fun, but for me, the Amelia Peabody books are still my favourite Peters' books.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Alphabet in Historical Fiction: D is for Donati

It is time for the next letter in Historical Tapestry's Alphabet in Historical Fiction, and we are up to the letter D.  For the letters A and B I reposted reviews of books that I absolutely loved, and for C I posted reviews of Conn Iggulden's Genghis Khan trilogy, but this time I am highlighting a book that I haven't read yet, but one I am waiting for very impatiently. The book, The Endless Forest by Sara Donati, was actually released in the US last week, but I haven't seen it in any of the shops here yet. I suspect it will start to appear on our shelves after 1 February.

There are certain series that I read that I could not tell you how I started to read them. There are others that I know exactly how they came to be on my reading radar, and Sara Donati's Into the Wilderness is one of those series. I have posted previously about this (click on the link to above to read how), but to summarise, I read Diana Gabaldon's books, and then was hanging around with fellow Gabaldon fans I found out about several of my now favourite authors - Sharon Kay Penman, Paullina Simons, and Sara Donati included.

The Endless Forest is the sixth, and final, book in the Into the Wilderness series. Over the last six years I have enjoyed reading along with the Bonners of Paradise, meeting their family and friends, and along the way spending time in northern USA, Canada and New Orleans, but now it is coming to an end. Whilst I am excited at the prospect of seeing what happens next, I am also saddened to know that this is the end of the road for the characters that we have come to know and love in that time. Well, it's not really, but now they get to live their lives without having thousands of people reading over their shoulders to see what they all do next! It is even sadder knowing that Rosina Lippi (who writes as Sara Donati) has given up writing fiction for now, so there is no prospect of anything new from her pen in the immediate future either. I guess that means that I need to make more of an effort to go and track down the one book that I haven't read of hers yet, Homestead.

Maybe I am getting a bit ahead of myself in talking about The Endless Forest. I read the first four books in this series before I started blogging, and so there is only one review for this series on my blog. So here is a brief run down of the series (please note there may be brief spoilers in the descriptions for the previous books in the series).

The first book in the series is Into the Wilderness, and it was inspired by the movie Last of the Mohicans starring Daniel Day Lewis who starred as Hawkeye, which in turn was an adaptation of James Fennimore Cooper's book of the same name. Hawkeye is a character in the novel, but the main male character is Nathaniel Bonner, his son.  The story starts when a prim and proper English spinster arrives in Paradise to act as a teacher in the small frontier town. Her father has bought her to Paradise with the intention of marrying her off to the town doctor (without telling Elizabeth), but it is Nathaniel who catches her eye. Nathaniel has spent a lot of time with the Mohican, was married to a Mohican woman, and his daughter, Hannah, is half Mohican, meaning that there is an interesting mix of frontier storyline with a sympathetic portrayal of the Native American side of the story.

Ana recently reviewed Into the Wilderness over at Historical Tapestry.

The second book in the series is Dawn on a Distant Shore, and the action starts up not long after Into the Wilderness ends. Nathaniel and Elizabeth are now married, and Elizabeth gives birth to twins whilst she is accompanied only by her step-daughter Hannah. Nathaniel has gone to Canada to try and release his father who has been arrested by the British, but finds himself captured as well. Elizabeth now needs to go and get them both, and through a series of events, does so, but then the family finds themselves headed to Scotland, where a distant relative, the Earl of Carryck, has a mind to manipulate the family into doing what he wants to do.

A lot of this book is set on board a boat, and in Scotland. One of the most important things in this novel is the introduction of the character of Jennet, headstrong and beautiful, who plays an influential role in future books.

The third book, Lake in the Clouds, see the Bonners return to their home on Hidden Wolf Mountain, near the small town of Paradise, and the book is better because of the return to the original setting.

This book sees Hannah come to the fore as a character as she tries to find her place in a society where she is not fully white, and not fully Mohican. Her journey towards adulthood is further complicated by the fact that she wants to be a doctor. It is almost unheard of for a young woman to be a doctor, let along a young Native American woman.

Other themes in the book include the smuggling of slaves to freedom in Canada, and facing the dangerous men who chase those slaves, including a face from the past.

The fourth book in the series is Fire Along the Sky, sees Hannah once again playing a starring role, but also the twins come into age. Lily is another headstrong and beautiful young woman who wants to get out of Paradise and see the world, but the beginning of the 1812 war has interrupted those plans.

Ten years have elapsed between these two books, and there have been many changes, most notably for Hannah. In this book, Hannah is a shadow of her former self, having undergone enormous personal tragedy. It is only in caring for others that she is able to undergo some personal healing, and begins to find purpose and fulfillment.

The war looms large in this book, with Lily's twin Daniel enlisting to fight, only for fate to once again find a Bonner imprisoned in Canada. With the colourful Jennet back in the story, and yet more surprises in store, this is another good read.

The fifth book in the series, and in my opinion, the most satisfying, Queen of Swords, sees a lot of the action moving away from Paradise to New Orleans, where the 1812 War continues. This book starts at a rapid pace with the Bonners headed to New Orleans in pursuit of the kidnapped Jennet.

The highlight of this book character wise was definitely Ben Savard, a man who knows everyone, who can get things done, and who seems to have the key to Hannah's heart. If there is one thing that I am looking forward to in The Endless Forest it is getting to see Ben again!

This is the one Wilderness book that I have reviewed, so if you are interesting, click on the link to read more.

So there you have it, a brief journey through the Into the Wilderness series by Sara Donati, and my entry for D in the Alphabet in Historical Fiction challenge being hosted by Historical Tapestry. Writing this post has achieved two things. The first is to make me more eager to read The Endless Forest, an experience I am sure will be bitter sweet, and the second is to make me want to reread the series from the beginning!

Seeing as I wanted to highlight The Endless Forest, it seems only fitting to share the synopsis, as the closing part of this post.

With a master storyteller’s skill and a historian’s precision, Sara Donati has delighted readers and critics alike with her bestselling novels of the nineteenth-century New York frontier. Now she brings us The Endless Forest, set in the remote village of Paradise, where the Bonner family that readers first met in Into the Wilderness make their home.

The spring of 1824 is a challenging one for the inhabitants of Paradise N.Y. when a flood devastates the village. But for Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bonner, it’s also a time of reunion as their children return from far-off places: Lily and her husband from Italy, and Martha Kirby, the Bonners’ ward, from Manhattan. Although Lily is nursing her own grief, it is Martha, fleeing a crushing humiliation, who brings with her trouble that will reverberate in all their lives.

In the sudden peace that follows the storm, as families struggle to rebuild, childhood friends Martha and Daniel, Lily’s twin brother, suddenly begin to see each other in a new light. But their growing bond is threatened when Martha’s mother arrives back in Paradise a decade after abandoning her daughter. Jemima Southern is a dangerous schemer who has destroyed more than one family, and her anger touches everyone, as do her secrets. Has Jemima come to claim her daughter–or does she have something else in mind? Whatever happens, Martha and Daniel and all the Bonners must stand united against the threats to both heart and home.

Painful secrets and hidden sorrows, joy, heartbreak, and passion follow the Bonners through a season of change and renewal. A rich, passionate, multilayered portrayal of family strength and endurance in a fascinating place and time, The Endless Forest will be remembered long after the last page is turned.

I can't wait to read it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Library Loot - January 20-26 2010

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 don't have a lot of loot this week, but I do have a couple of books waiting for me to pick up at the library that I am very excited about, but more of that in next week's loot. Eva has the link this week, so head on over to her blog to add your loot to Mr Linky so we can all see what you have acquired from your library this week.

Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors

John Shors is a author I have wanted to read for a long time, ever since I saw the first reviews of his first book, Beneath a Marble Sky. My library still doesn't have that book, but when I saw that they did have this one, I snapped it up.

The Goat who Sailed the World by Jackie French

Recently I read The Night They Stormed Eureka by Jackie French, and liked it a lot. When I was looking at her backlist I noticed a series called The Animal Stars, which features animals that have been witness to major events in history.

The Lonesome Dove DVD Collection

Over the last few weeks I have been watching the mini series adaptation of Larry McMurtry's Comanche Moon, after having read the book last year. I have such fond memories of watching Lonesome Dove many years ago, and I hope that I am not disappointed when I watch it again. I haven't quite decided if I am going to watch it this time or whether I will just watch Dead Man's Walk and then return it. I read Dead Man's Walk a while ago, and I am planning to reread Lonesome Dove soon, so I might not watch Lonesome Dove until I have reread it.

And that's my loot for this week!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Two Teasers

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!

I thought I would share two teasers with you all today, one of the book I finished today and the other from the book I started today! The main reason why I wanted to share from the first book is that it was The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett, and my first read for the Terry Pratchett 2010 Reading Challenge. Of course, the only problem with this theory is that it is so darned hard to find the perfect teaser. Here goes a random opening of the book...nope. Flick a few pages...ah, yes, but it is more than two lines. Never mind.

This teaser comes from page 156 of The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett:

"You'll fight us both together?" said Liartes, a tall, wiry man with long black hair.


"That's pretty uneven odds, isn't it?

"Yah. I outnumber you one to two."
The second teaser comes from Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford which I am reading for an upcoming blog tour. I know that War Through the Generations has moved on from WWII to Vietnam, but I could quite happily read WWII books every year!

This teaser comes from page 6. I thought it was appropriate given that it pretty much sets up the premise of the book:

The new hotel owner explained that in the basement she had discovered the belongings of thirty-seven Japanese families who she presumed had been persecuted and taken away. Their belongings had been hidden and never recovered - a time capsule from the war years.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Better late than never: Bloggiesta wrap up

I know. I am very, very late with my Bloggiesta update! It's been a very busy week.

When I started Bloggiesta last weekend, I mentioned that I was doing a lot of thinking about things and not a lot of activity. In the end I did more than think though! The things I was thinking about included what to do about my Index of Reads, my About Me page, my badges, the blogroll and a domain change.

I have pretty much decided that I am going to move my index of reads here, and once I get my new layout set up will have a tab for that. Hopefully at least. Similarly for my about me page. It is also my intention to have a tab for the Terry Pratchett Challenge.

I didn't really get around to doing something about my Twitter badges, or my facebook badge. Actually, they both used to work so I am not sure why they aren't working now.

I am still seriously considering getting my own domain name, and I think I have come up with a name that isn't too expensive but also not too far removed from my current blog name. I did ask a couple of questions in my original post, and only got a couple of responses. For people who have changed over to their own domain, people mentioned that domain name is better than a .blogspot address because it looks more professional, is more fun, and gives more control. Anyone have any more reasons for or against to add?

So, what did I do?

I spent a fair amount of time cleaning out my blogroll and cleaning out my Bloglines account. It was actually a bit hard, because I removed some links from my feed reader for blogs that I have been following for years but who have been dormant for a while. I subscribe to far too many feeds though so it was time to be ruthless. I still have my biggest category of feeds to clean through, but I will get to it eventually.

I also did quite a few of the mini-challenges. I updated my About Me blurb, backed up my blog, amongst others.

The mini challenge I wanted to chat about was Pam from MotherReader's comment challenge. The idea was to keep track of your comments, and to comment on at least 5 blogs a day, with the idea that by January 28th you would have commented on 100 blogs.

So it turns out that I don't have a problem commenting on blogs. I try to get around and comment on all the Library Loot participants blogs each week, and also on the people who participate in the ABC's of Historical Fiction. Other than that I just comment on whatever strikes my fancy. In fact, I have barely been blog hopping this week, and my feed reader is getting bigger and bigger, but I have still managed to comment on more than the 5 blogs suggested. I haven't ever tried to keep track of my commenting before. In fact, it may be that I have the opposite problem - commenting too much. In the end I commented on just over 100 blogs up until Thursday. Just call me blabbermouth!

I spent a lot of time on Bloggiesta last weekend, and overall I am happy with the results. There will be more results of all that contemplation to come!

Vampire Music

It's been hard to miss how popular vampires have become over the last few years in popular culture. There are books, TV series, and movies, but I am not sure that it has made it into music just yet! Or at least I haven't noticed.

One of our radio stations here plays only 80s songs on Friday nights and they played this last night!

Normally if I think of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, it will be more likely to be Two Tribes or Relax that I think of. I had forgotten about this song!

I am sure that there must be other songs out there, but for now, enjoy!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Library Loot - January 13-19 2010

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 managed to squeeze a quick visit in to the library tonight, which was lucky because my holds were beginning to pile up! Be sure to share your link so we can all come and check out your loot!

Here's what I got this week:

Persuasion by Jane Austen - I mentioned in my goals for 2010 that one of the things I wanted to do this year was to read some Jane Austen. Aarti suggested that I start with Persuasion, and so I requested it. Hopefully I will get to it soon.

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien - I might have been a little excited when I finished reading The Hobbit last week. Not only did I read the book, but I also requested the graphic novel, which was illustrated by David Wenzel.

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien - This time the audio book. Beth from BethFishReads mentioned that the audio book version she listened to was awesome, so I thought I might try to listen to it again. The thing is, there is absolutely no information on the version I got from the library . This isn't the cover that I have, I don't know who the narrator is and can't even tell you whether this is an unabridged or abridged version. Guess it will all become clear eventually.

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong - This is reloot, and I hope to actually read this one this time! Another one that I have a different cover for from the library. Last time I borrowed the book it was this cover though!

Tempting Evil by Keri Arthur - The third book in the Riley Jensen series.

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Borrowed this in anticipation of the next part of the Lord of the Rings Readalong.

The Struggle by L J Smith - Next book in the Vampire Diaries!

Graceling by Kristin Cashore - Reloot! I have heard such good things about this author!

Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong - Next book in the excellent Otherworld series.

Reality Killed the Video Star by Robbie Williams - I was a big Robbie Williams fan from way back, although I wasn't all that fussed about what I heard from the last album. I am borrowing this one to see whether it is worth buying or not!

And just for the fun of it, here is the video of my favourite Robbie Williams song - Angels