Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vampire Voss by Colleen Gleason

Regency London – a dizzying whirl of balls and young ladies pursued by charming men.

But the Woodmore sisters are hunted by a more sinister breed: Lucifer's own.

Voss, also known as Viscount Dewhurst, relishes the sensual pleasures immortality affords. A member the Dracule – a cabal of powerful, secretive noblemen marked with a talisman that reveals their bartered souls – the mercenary Voss has remained carefully neutral ... until Angelica.

Angelica Woodmore possess the Sight, an ability invaluable to both sides of a looming war among the Dracule. Her very scent envelops Voss in a scarlet fog of hunger – for her body and her blood. But he is utterly unprepared for the new desire that overcomes him – to protect her.

Now Voss must battle his very nature to be with Angelica ... but this vampire never backs down from a fight.
One of the best things about Colleen Gleason’s Gardella Vampire series was that it was different. Yes, it was a series with vampires, but it was set in the Regency, the main focus was the vampire hunters rather than the vampire itself, and it was the female character who had the power.

In this, the first instalment of the Vampire Draculia trilogy, we are back in more familiar territory. Whilst there is a vampire hunter, who may become more important as the series progresses, it is the vampires that are the focus here, and it is the male vampire at that. The series is again set in the Regency,  but the things that made the Gardella series stand out a bit are missing.

The other thing is that where the Gardella series had a more urban fantasy feel, this first book at least is firmly in romance territory. Now, as a romance reader that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Gleason had a strong supporter base of readers who didn’t normally read romance and I am not sure that all of those readers will necessarily follow her past this first book.

The vampire mythology is pretty standard for the most part – need blood to feed, can’t go in the sunlight, can use his eyes to cast a thrall on his unsuspecting victims. There were a couple of twists that I thought were interesting, the first being that there is one item that weekends each individual vampire and that item is different for all of them, and if they are smart they will keep that weakness a secret lest someone take advantage of that knowledge. The other I can’t tell you about without spoiling, so you will have to read to find out what that is!

Voss Arden, Lord Dewhirst is 148 years old, and has been a vampir for the vast majority of that time. He is a man who lives by his appetites and has done for many years. He thinks nothing of feeding off of or bedding young misses of whatever part of society. He is also a loner, by choice. By not aligning himself with either of the vampire factions he provides information to both sides, at a price, and as a result if not exactly trusted by them he can gain access to both sides.

Our heroine, Miss Angelica Woodmore, is a young society miss with a difference. She has the gift of the sight, and by touching an item belong to someone she can tell how that person is to die. It is a very handy gift to have, especially when other young ladies in the ton ask her to tell her about the futures of prospective husbands.

When her brother goes missing, her elder sister Maia is extremely worried, especially when it turns out that he has made his sisters the ward of Dimitri , a man she has never met before. Angelica is not so worried. She knows what the scene will look like when her brother dies and it isn’t now. She carries the burden of this knowledge about her nearest and dearest.

Quite unusually she has seen the death of a man that she has never met before in her dreams. When he turns up dressed exactly as she saw him to a ball, she tries to warn his companions, one of them being Voss, and so their story begins. Voss knows that one of the  Woodmore sisters has the Sight. It is a question of which one. Being the mercenary he is, he wants information, and he will do whatever he can to get it. Unfortunately, the other major vampire group, headed by a vampire called Moldavia, also want the Woodmore sisters for the same reason, and they are likely to do much more than just gain the information.

Voss therefore feels compelled to ensure Miss Woodmore’s safety. Dimitri however thinks that Angelica needs to be kept safe from Voss, and therefore as Voss tries to protect her, Dimitri tries to keep her away from him, and other vampires circle trying to kidnap her too.

The biggest weakness in this book for me was Angelica. She has the Sight and it is used a couple of times during the first part of the book, but after setting up, this didn’t play a huge role in the later events in the book. She was just kind of there for a lot of the book, as an object of desire as seen through Voss’s burning vampire eyes.

Due to the fact that I can’t stop reading a series once I start it, and because I have requested the next two books in the series from Netgalley, I will read the rest of the trilogy. Maybe the move to a straighter romance structure will gain Gleason new fans amongst romance readers, but I am not sure that many of her other non romance reading fans will come along for the ride with her.

Sydney Book Blogger Meet up

I mentioned a couple of times over the last couple of weeks that I was off to Sydney for a couple of days last weekend. I actually flew up on Thursday morning even though the convention I was going to (Australian Romance Readers Convention) didn't start until Friday night. The main reason for going up early ... to attend the inaugural Sydney Book Blogger Meet Up! I had an awesome time so I was really glad that I made the effort to go up early!

I know there are a few people who are waiting to hear about the meet up so I will share a little bit!

We met up in the Arthouse Hotel. Not being from Sydney I had no idea that it was such a large venue and really quite busy for a Thursday night, so I was a bit worried when I got there. I had met a couple of people who were going to be attending before, but couldn't find them so I hovered around the door looking for people who looked like they might be looking for other people.

After a few minutes I thought I should probably try and give some clue that I was waiting for people, so I sat right near the door waving my book around (Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson in case you were wondering) hoping that might catch the attention of the right people, and it wasn't long before that strategy started to work!

All up, I think we had around about 18 people attend, which I have to say was an awesome turnout for the first time. I was also really happy that we had a good mix of Twitter peeps, blogging peeps, some publishing peeps, and several of those were new to me too which is awesome! The best thing though is meeting people who you have interacted with online and putting faces to names, and talking books with other people who you know share your passion!

Here is the list of people who attended (I haven't got the list of everyone who attended, but as soon as I get it, I will add anyone that I missed!)

Becky from Page Turners
Kat from BookThingo/@bookthingo
Decadence from BookThingo/@my_lheage
Nyssa @awritingjourney
Vassiliki from Shallowreader @VaVeros
Jacq from Book Bites/@obsidiantears
Beth @bethflatley
Gabby from Mills and Boon @MillsandBookAUS
Lina from Shallowreader @infogenium
Ali and Rosie @fangbooks
Sarah @hesitent_sarah
Wade @staticsan
Karin and Ashlea from Murdoch Books @murdochbooks and @pier9books respectively
Wandergurl @tsinelas

If I have forgotten anyone, I apologise sincerely! Let me know and I will add you to the list.

Here's some pics. You can see more here. Thanks to Kat for sharing her pics. I thought I had left my camera in the hotel room so didn't get any myself.

Sydney Book Blogger/Tweeter Meet-up @ The Arthouse

Vassiliki makes a point to Decadence, Ali, Wandergurl and Rosie

Sydney Book Blogger/Tweeter Meet-up @ The Arthouse

Kat, Karin, Ashlea and Becky

Sydney Book Blogger/Tweeter Meet-up @ The Arthouse

Lena, Vassiliki, Nyssa, Jacq, Maria

Sydney Book Blogger/Tweeter Meet-up @ The Arthouse

Maria, Beth, Marg (looking a little sunburnt I must say!), Wade

For the Melbourne folks, I am intending to organise a meet up here early in May, but I just need to come up with a venue. One thing we learnt from the Arthouse was that a popular bar is too noisy! I started losing my voice on Thursday night and I am only just getting it back now!

Finally special thanks to Kat and Jacq who did most of the organising! I hope this is the first of many Sydney book blogger meetups.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Library Loot: March 30 to April 5

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader 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!

This week the Mr Linky is at Claire's blog. Head on over to share the loot you got this week.

After all the books that I acquired this month you wouldn't think that I wouldn't need any more books in the house, but I still keep on visiting the library. This is what I got this week.

When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James - The latest book in the current series from Eloisa James.

From Notting Hill with Love ... Actually by Ali McNamara - This one is reloot.

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen - I got very excited when I saw that this one was waiting for me! The only problem is that once I have read it, I will have to wait another year for the next one!

Modern Day Addiction - Clare Bowditch. I have no idea what Clare Bowditch sings, but I have had so many people recommend her to me, so I thought I would try her.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Vampire Dimitri by Colleen Gleason

I forgot the book I wanted to start on the train this morning. Fortunately I had my ereader with me so I was able to read some more of this book instead! The teaser comes from page 34:

Not for the first time, Maia wondered if she'd made a mistake in selecting such a potentially scandalous costume. But she's loved it the moment the dressmaker showed her the design, and that was the whole purpose of masquerade balls - anonymously walking the line of propriety.

Please note that this quote comes from the egalley version of this book and may therefore change in the final printing.

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading. Head on over to find out all about it, and how to join in!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mailbox Monday: March edition (Part 1 of 2)

Normally I do one Mailbox Monday post each month, but after a very controlled month last month, this month was, well to be blunt, a bit out of control. So far out of control that I am going to have to split up the post into two parts, otherwise it is going to take forever to put together. So this is all of the books that I got in March, before I went to the Australian Romance Reader's Convention where I got a load more (as in around about 23 more)

The Company Articles of Edward Teach by Thoraiya Dyer/The Angaelian Apocalypse by Matthew Chrulew - I won this two-in-one book in a giveaway at Goodreads. It is my first Twelfth Planet Press book to own, but by the end of the month I have acquired two more!

The Cranford Novellas by Elizabeth Gaskell - Earlier this month I was pointed in the direction of Girlebooks where you can download a number of out of copyright books. I could have downloaded more, but I thought I would start with this one!

Genesis and August by Bernard Beckett - When I went to the Inside a Dog relaunch we were given a copy of August by Bernard Beckett, and I had heard good things about Genesis so I bought that one on the night.

Bumped by Megan McCafferty - This is a Netgalley book that I was very excited to be approved for.

Ember by Bettie Sharpe - Someone, and I can't remember who, recommended this book which is available from the author's website to download for free. I think it was recommended as a good read for a twisted fairy tale type story.

Best Little Stories of the Civil War by C Brian Kelly, The Highest Stakes by Emery Lee, Wild Sight by Loucinda McGary and The Immigrants by Howard Fast - These books were available as a special deal early in the month.

Sprawl anthology - This is the second book I got this month from Twelfth Planet Press. You can expect to hear a lot about this book over the coming month as part of Aussie Author Month.

Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster - I went to an author event at my local library for this author, so of course, I had to get at least one of her books! Sara will be guest posting on my blog as part of Aussie Author Month.

A Song for my Mother by Kat Martin - This was a surprise book that I wasn't expecting at all.

The Raven Queen by Jules Watson - I was participating in a blog tour but this book didn't turn up until the same day as I was supposed to be posting about it. It's a bit disappointing because I was really looking forward to it. Will have to try and fit it in some how shortly.

The Vampire Narcise by Colleen Gleason and A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine - both Netgalley books.

Glitter Rose by Marianne de Pierres - This is the last of the Twelfth Planet Press books I bought this month. I bought it in Sydney, and it was a lovely surprise when I actually started reading it and opened the title page and realised that it is a signed copy!

Mailbox Monday is on tour and for March it is being hosted at I'm Booking It. Head over there to share your links, or to see what everyone else has posted about this week.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Staying at Daisy's by Jill Mansell

Life is easy, it's men she'll never figure out...

When hotel manager Daisy MacLean meets cocky sports hero Dev Tyzack, it's a no-brainer - stay away. He is arrogant and sarcastic - but also incredibly sexy. Daisy tries her best to steer clear of him, yet soon comes to realize he is the one guest she can't bear to see leave.

Then she learns a devastating truth: most people are now who they seem to be, for better or for worse.

The other Saturday morning I woke up feeling pretty average. After cancelling the usual Saturday morning gym session, I lay in bed but couldn't get back to sleep, so I went and perused the shelves for a perfect pick me up read. When my eyes lit upon a Jill Mansell book, I knew I had found what I was looking for, and it helped that I knew that I needed to read it for a review. Three hours later I closed the book with a sigh. Of course, you don't need to be feeling sick to want to read this author, you can read them anytime. What I do know about the Jill Mansell books that I read is that I might cry but I will also definitely laugh. I don't mind if I am crying when reading a book because it means that I am emotionally invested in the characters to care! There is also something extremely satisfying about getting lost in a book so much that you can finish it in one sitting.

Daisy runs a successful high end hotel in a quintessentially English country village, and she is good at what she does - usually. Things don't quite go to plan when she meets the former professional rugby player Dev Tyzack in his capacity as best man at a wedding, especially given that their initial run in is due to her best friend Tara being caught in a compromising position with the groom on his wedding day. Dev is devastatingly handsome (no pun intended), charming and cocky, and Daisy knows that he is not only a former player, but he is something of a player when it comes to the ladies. There is no way that Daisy is going to open herself up to that kind of humiliation. She dealt with that with her former husband, and it is not going to happen again.

One thing that I love about Mansell's books are the supporting cast of characters, and once again we have the full set here. There is Daisy's completely over the top Dad, her lovable ex boyfriend, her best friend/chamber maid Tara, the new porter Barney who is an organ donor recipient who is looking for a new start, Mel, who has a secret that could change everything if it gets out, and Tara's aunt Maggie. One of my favourite scenes in the book is when Maggie gets fed up of dealing with incompetent tradies and takes matters into her own hands with hilarious results.

As Dev tries to prove to Daisy that he is not the type of man that she thinks he is, her father Hector is embarking on an affair with a famous film star, her best friend Josh comes to stay, and she finds out a secret to do with her dead husband that will devastate her completely, life in the hotel for Daisy must go on.

I don't read a lot of chick lit all that often anymore. When I do though, I like authors like Marian Keyes and Jill Mansell, who not only do the single woman looking for the right man storyline but who also deal with issues. Mansell is particularly adept at incorporating these issues into the storyline without losing the balance between them and the rest of the story elements. 

If I was going to quibble about one thing it would probably be only how neatly all the loose ends are tied up at the end of the book. Really though, that is a pretty minor complaint.

While I was thinking about what I wanted to say about this book, I read through some of the other reviews I have written of Jill Mansell's books and I realised that I was pretty much going to be saying many of the same things over again. What this tells me is that her books are consistently entertaining reads and so I will continue to read her books.

If you haven't ever read one of this author's books, or it has been a while, maybe now is a good time to pick up a Jill Mansell book to read.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for sending me a review copy of this book.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Once Upon a Time V

I am singing "it's the most wonderful time of the year", or maybe one of a couple most wonderful times, and no, I am not talking about Christmas!

It's time for Once Upon a Time V, hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings!

This year I am planning to participate in two different aspects of the experience.

Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

And this time, for the first time, I am also going to do:

This quest involves the reading of one or more short stories that fit within at least one of the four genres during the course of the any weekend, or weekends, during the challenge.

So here's the list of books that I will probably choose from:

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
The Vampire Dimitri by Colleen Gleason
A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

Bumped by Megan McCafferty
The Vampire Narcise by Colleen Gleason
Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
Monsters and Men by Patrick Ness
A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
Battle Royale by
The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
Gale Force by Rachel Caine
Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan (short stories)
Sprawl anthology (short stories)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Library Loot: March 23 to 29

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader 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 am getting ready for my big Sydney trip so, this week at least, a quick Library Loot is a good Library Loot.

Here's what I got this week:

Outback Legacy by Aaron Fletcher - The final book in the Outback Saga that I have been reading for the last few months

Russian Winter by Daphne Karlotay - I have borrowed this a couple of times now, but haven't read it. Now I have signed up for a tour so I will HAVE to read it.

Movida: Spanish Culinary Adventure by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish - I went to Movida for dinner the other week (and posted about it here), so I thought I would have a look at the cook book.

What loot did you get this week? Share your link in Mr Linky below:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Relentless Adaptations by Tansy Rayner Roberts

I don't read a lot of short stories, but today's teaser comes from Relentless Adaptations by Tansy Rayner Roberts which was published in the Sprawl anthology published by Twelfth Planet Press.

During the upcoming Aussie Author Month, I am planning on talking about quite a few of the short stories in this anthology, but this was the first one I read out of the collection, and I really, really enjoyed it! This teaser comes from page 10 of Sprawl:

The last tweet I read is from a bookseller who cites being forced to dress up as a vampire as an example of unreasonable workplace conditions. A call to arms: Take up the fight. Are you with fiction, or against it?

I am currently reading the ebook version of this, but I noticed that if you buy the print book there are illustrations. If I enjoy the other stories anywhere near as much, I am going to have to splurge for the print version I think!

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading. Head on over to find out all about it, and how to join in!

Don't forget to check out my current giveaway of the upcoming Geraldine Brook's release Caleb's Crossing.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Currently Reading: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

As a result of starting Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins this morning, I would now like to:

Be here:

Photo credit

Be reading this:

Be eating this:

Here's a fan made trailer, just for fun!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Salon: Aussie Author Month

Before I get into my post proper today, just a couple of reminders!

Firstly, are you a book blogger/tweeter/Goodreader etc who will be in Sydney this Thursday night? If so, you are invited to join us for an Sydney Book Blogger meetup! We are really pleased with the number of people who have signed up so far, but that doesn't mean that there isn't room for you. If you are interested, check out all the details here.

I will be there, and I am very excited about this get together!

Secondly, are you interested in winning a copy of Caleb's Crossing, the upcoming release from Geraldine Brooks? If you live in the US or Canada, you can enter the current giveaway that I am hosting. (Sorry about those restrictions. The galleys are being sent directly from the publisher, so those restrictions apply).

Okay, on with the main point of today's post!

April is going to be Aussie Author Month! I've started thinking about what I am going to be doing for the month, and I am very excited by it, but I suspect I am going to be exhausted by the end of it!

What is Aussie Author Month

Aussie Author Month is a cross-genre collaboration to support and promote Australian writing. During April, we'll be featuring bestselling and upcoming Australian authors, and highlighting some of our favourite Aussie

Special thanks to Alex from Le Canape for creating this button for us
What kind of things will be happening during the month?
  • Author interviews
  • Reviews of Aussie books (some sites may already have a full list of reviews to work on. Please do not contact us to review your book.)
  • Promotions/discounts/specials at bookstores/online
  • Start memes
  • Blog carnivals
  • Book/Writing competitions with prizes

How you can participate:
If you run a book blog or website…contact us and we’ll list you on our participating blogs pages. Nyssa will be managing the list, so you can contact her directly (see below), or you can leave a comment here and we’ll consolidate our lists. Please include your blog URL, the name of your blog and, if you have a specific focus, which authors you’ll be targeting.

If you’re an Aussie author…contact any of the bloggers below to organise a guest post, feature or giveaway, or you can give a book or two away on either your own site or our sites, and we’ll post links. Please try and target the right blog for your genre/category.

If you’re a bookseller…you can promote Australian books by having an Aussie book section display in your shop, or provide discounts on Aussie written books.

If you are a publisher…you can give a percentage of a books price to the ILP during the month (see below), or promote or giveaway your books through your own site or one of the blogs listed above. If you’re promoting books specifically for Aussie Author Month, please send us a link so we can blog about it.

If you’re interested in books…please feel free to link our Aussie Author Month posts to your blog or social media, buy Australian books and support the ILP.

    Who to contact

    Promotions and giveaways will be done through the most appropriate site.

    If the book is sff, you should contact A Writer Goes on a Journey.
    If the book is urban fantasy or paranormal romance, you should contact Fangtastic.
    If the book is romance or has romantic elements (happy endings only, please!), contact Bookthingo.
    If the book is historical or general Australian fiction, contact The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader.
    For all other enquiries, contact Nyssa at

    Support the Indigenous Literacy Project (Fundraising):

    Part of Aussie Author Month will also be to promote donations to the Indigenous Literacy Project. The ILP is a charity whose aim is to raise literacy levels among Indigenous Australians in rural and remote communities. The ILP works in partnership with the Australian Book Industry and the Fred Hollows Foundation.
    What we will be doing for the ILP is not only linking to their website, but will be actively fundraising for them through This will be set up closer to the start date of the project, so if you want to be
    involved, please email us and we will keep you updated with the appropriate links.

    How did Aussie Author Month come about and who are the organisers:

    Aussie Author Month started off with a tweet last year, and it’s been a collaborative effort between several bloggers:

    Nyssa at A Writer Goes on a Journey via the Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFFWA), who will focus on Australian sff authors,

    Ali and Rosie at Fangtastic, who will focus on urban fantasy and paranormal romance authors,

    Kat from Bookthingo, who will focus on romance

    and later joined by Marg at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader (that's me), who reads within and outside of romance and sff, including historical fiction.

    We hope that other Aussies will get involved in this initiative!

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Weekend Cooking: A mid-life passion?

    This week I found the following quote in Fleur by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, the second book of the Kirov Saga trilogy set in Russia and the novel was written in the early 1990s from memory.

    Fleur yielded without struggle to his charm. Polotski told her at once that she reminded him of his dear wife, and as she translated this correctly as the highest compliment he could pay her, they hit it off splendidly.

    Apart from his wife, his great passions seemed to be cooking, and jewellery. "Cooking is man's most truly creative art," he told Fleur in the course of their first long conversation. "It is the most aesthetic. All other art is contaminated by materialism. But with cooking, the end product is utterly ephemeral, and unique. It is an art which exists for its own sake alone."

    "I hadn't quite thought of it like that," Fleur said.

    "Of course not! What has a young lady like you to do with cooking? It is a passion for man's middle years, when other passions have cooled. You, so slender, so beautiful, may only sense it dimly. What can you know of the poetry of spices, of soured cream, of truffles? How can you appreciate the triumph of man over the forces of nature, as represented by the perfect souffle?"

    I should probably give a bit of context to this quote. The book is set in England and Russia just before and during the Crimean War (so in the 1850s ) and the speaker is a mature Russian gentleman.

    What I thought was interesting was the idea that cooking is a mid-life passion. I wouldn't necessarily say that is correct any more, at least in most first world countries, but it would be interesting to think about when exactly it was that cooking changed from a mostly functionary pastime to one that excites people across a variety of ages, incomes and cultures. Is it the onset of more leisure time that has been the overriding factor, or perhaps the fact that we are better off economically. Is the multi cultural nature of our society now? Is there some other factor that has contributed more to it? I should clarify in that I am not talking about people for whom cooking is just a vocation, but rather those for whom cooking is a passion as a hobby.

    Over the last couple of years there appears to have been a significant upswing in the number of young people who are interested in cooking, with cooking shows such as Junior Masterchef being both a product of that change, and an instigator of continued change as more and more kids get interested in cooking. Last year, for example, my son was showing a lot of interest (you can read about his efforts here) and so one of his Christmas presents was the Junior Masterchef cook book.

    When I look at my own experience, my mother is not interested in cooking at all, or in trying a lot of new things. She would be described, at best, as a functional cook. Personally, I have always liked the idea of finding a recipe, buying all the ingredients and then cooking it, but I really don't like Monday to Friday cooking.

    What do you think? What about the notion that cooking is man's most truly creative art?

    Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    The Novel in the Viola by Natasha Solomons (book trailer)

    One of my favourite books of last year was Natasha Solomons' Mr Rosenblum's List*, and so I have been keeping an eye out for news of her follow up book, The Novel in the Viola. I was very pleased to see this book trailer the other day:

    I was also on Twitter and noticed that the Australian launch details are up, and I was definitely going, until I noticed that the events are being held the weekend I am in Sydney for ARRC, so there is no way I can go! So disappointed!

    The launch event sound like a lot of fun too. There are going to be locations in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane where a special concerto, composed especially for the book will be performed live simultaneously.

    *In the US Mr Rosenblum's List was called Mr Rosenblum Dreams in English

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    India Black by Carol K Carr

    In the red light district of London, India Black is in the business of selling passion her clientele will never forget. But when it comes to selling secrets, India's price cannot be paid by any man...

    In the winter of 1876, the beautiful young madam India Black is occupied with her usual tasks - keeping her tarts in line, avoiding the police, and tolerating the clergyman bent on converting her girls. But when Sir Archibald Latham of the War Office dies from a heart attack while visiting her brothel, India is unexpectedly thrust into a deadly game between Russian and British agents who are seeking the military secrets Latham carried.

    French, the handsome British spy, discovers India disposing of Latham's body and blackmails her into recovering the missing documents. Their quest takes them from the Russian embassy to Claridge's Hotel, from London to the English coast, all the while dodging Russians intent to do them harm.

    But it is their own tempestuous relationship they will have to weather as India and French attempt to resist the mutual attraction between them - an attraction that can prove as deadly as the conspiracy entangling them...

    What is it about the Victorian era that gives us such smart, sassy, witty and readable women with a knack for amateur sleuthing? Move over Lady Julia Grey. Shove along Amelia Peabody and dance off towards the sunset Emily Ashton, because there is a new girl in town - India Black.

    I thought from seeing the cover that this looked like a book that I might like. Right from the start of the prologue, I knew I was going to enjoy it mainly because of the voice. Here are the opening two sentences:

    My name is India Black. I am a whore.

    If those words made you blush, if your hand fluttered to your cheek or your harrumphed disapprovingly into your beard, then you should return this volume to the shelf, cast a cold glance at the proprietor as you leave, and hasten home feeling proper and virtuous.

    The main question was whether the voice could be maintained through the novel without becoming annoying, and I am glad to say that it was.

    So what is the book about? India Black is the madam at the Lotus House. As she says herself "I'm out of the game myself  these days, but can set you up with a nice girl, any night after seven". One of the clients taking advantage of this deal is the man India calls Bowser, otherwise known as Sir Archibald Latham, important figure in the Disraeli government. When he dies in her establishment, India knows that it is bad new all round. With the assistance of the very enterprising urchin Vincent, India comes up with a plan to dispose of the body, but as she is disposing of the body she is approached by the spy only known as Mr French. A quick bit of banter and blackmail later and suddenly India finds herself involved in the spy game.

    It seems that Bowser had bought some important government papers with him to her house of ill repute, but now they are missing and it is a matter of vital national importance that they are recovered. The government wants them, the opposition wants them, and the enemy (in this case the Russians) definitely want them. And so India suddenly finds herself in all kinds of unlikely situations.

    It would be remiss of me to go much further without mentioning French. Strong, intelligent, handsome, relatively quiet, gets things done type of guy - be still my beating heart! I am so glad that this is the first of a series because I can't wait to find out more about French. At this stage he is so mysterious that neither the reader or India even know his first name. We are assured that it is not a run of the mill name like John or William and not totally outlandish. Perhaps we will find out in future books.

    I did notice in the back cover blurb (above) that it talks about a relationship between French and India but I didn't really feel the mutual attraction all that much. It was definitely there, and it is a good foundation to build the tension in future reads, but I didn't think it was as strong an influence on the storyline as it could have been or that it is inferred to be in the blurb.

    When a book has you laughing out loud on the train, you know that it is a good one, and it would be a perfect pick me up book! I will definitely be putting a request in for the next book as soon as I can, and the cover for the next book is gorgeous too!

    I was prompted to read this book in order to participate in the blog tour being run by Premier Virtual Author Book Tours, although I got my copy of the book from the library. To visit other stops on the tour, click on the link above. Thanks for the push. I really enjoyed the book!

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Library Loot: March 16 to 22

    Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader 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 was at my library for an author event tonight (with Sara Foster - potentially more about that later) so it was a last minute dash to the hold shelves to pick up the books that were waiting for me after the talk had finished. It was worth it though, because I had a couple of brand new books to pick up:

    Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss - Squeee! So excited about this one!

    The Woman He Loved Before by Dorothy Koomson - I haven't even read the last book despite borrowing it several times, but that doesn't mean I can't request the book that has just been released!

    Sinful in Satin by Madeline Hunter - Next book in the Rarest Bloom series.

    Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier - I have actually started reading this but had to return it unfinished as it was overdue. My plan is to pick it up again shortly where I left off.

    Claire has the Mr Linky this week, so please be sure to go and visit and leave your link so that we can all be nosy and see what loot you got this week!


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