Monday, 31 December 2007

The Magic Cottage by James Herbert

"We thought we'd found our haven, a cottage deep in the heart of the forest. Charming, maybe a little run down, but so peaceful. That was the first part of the Magic. Midge's painting and my music soared to new heights of creativity. That was another part of the Magic. Our love for each other - well, that became the supreme Magic. But the cottage had an alternative side - The Bad Magic." "What happened to us there was horrendous beyond belief. The healings, the crazy sect who wanted our home for themselves, the hideous creatures that crawled from the nether regions, and the bats - oh God, the bats! Even now those terrible things seem impossible to me. Yet they happened..."

This book was impossible to put down! Every time I did I just wanted to know what was going to happen next, so much going on and never a dull moment!

Mike and Midge are a couple living in a flat in London and find their perfect little cottage in the country, the cottage is being sold as the former owner died. Midge absolutely falls in love with it and although Mike sees the flaws they inevitably buy the cottage.

There is something very strange about the cottage with the animals coming to visit and Rumbo,a red squirrel he is so darn cute! Then they meet some people who appear at first nice but, later find out they are a cult, and the cult wants the cottage.

This was quite scary in places and the most disturbing for me was the bats, that really did make my flesh crawl - urgh!

This was only my third James Herbert book, my favourite is still Once but, this comes a close second.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

April Shadows by Virginia Andrews

APRIL HAD ALWAYS FELT LIKE AN OUTSIDER. Her older sister Brenda was tall, athletic, competitive, and sure of herself. But April Taylor was short, sensitive, and overweight -- and she couldn't bounce back from their father's cutting criticisms the way Brenda did.

April didn't know why their once-loving dad had become a coldhearted monster, but she was sure it had something to do with her. And she could see how his cruel behavior was tearing away at her gentle mother. But a glimmer of happiness returns when Brenda brings home her college roommate: beautiful, bewitching Celia. And April wonders if she might not be so different from Brenda after all.

It has been soooooooooo long since I read a Virginia Andrews book but, was in Books Etc and they had a 3 for 2 offer, I just couldn't find the last one so picked this up. The only others I read was the Dollanganer series and My Sweet Audrina.

This was quite different from the last series I read so nothing to compare, which is good. I found some of the characters a little irritating to start off with but, I guess that is just the way of them, I felt for April though but, Brenda was such a whinger!

The whole family for me seemed so pitiful but, there was something here that just wanted me to keep reading, the ending of the book was quite sad and I really felt (again!) for April so going to have to read the next one to find out what happens.

This book also dealt with homosexuality issues quite sensitively I thought, I have heard some reviews claim shock and covering this issue in this series but, Viriginia's past books cover incest and rape but, that's OK? Go figure ...

Its not a book I would highly recommend its quite an easy seemed almost a Young Adult read but, I like those so no complaints there, and it could also be quite depressing in parts so not one to read if your feeling down in the dumps!

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Reading Challenge for 2008

I have signed up to do a reading challenge in 2008! this is my first one ever ~woo hoo~ and you basically have to:

1.Read a minimum of 8 books published in 2008. (Library books are acceptable!)
2. No children’s/YA titles allowed, since we’re at the ‘pub.’
3. At least 4 titles must be fiction.
4. Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
5. Titles may be changed at any time.

On the outset I think it may be quite easy for me as I buy lots of books through the year but, thinking on it a lot of books I buy are paperbacks and as hardbacks usually get published first will just have to see what happens!

Copy & paste the link below to sign up:

Friday, 28 December 2007

High Noon by Nora Roberts

Police Lieutenant Phoebe MacNamara found her calling at an early age when an unstable man broke into her family's home, trapping and terrorising them for hours. Now she's Savannah's top hostage negotiator, defusing powder-keg situations and has a talent for knowing when to give in - and when to jump in and take action. It's satisfying work - and sometimes those skills come in handy at home dealing with her precocious seven-year-old, Carly, and her agoraphobic mother, still traumatised by the break-in after all these years. It's exactly that heady combination of steely courage and sensitivity that first attracts Duncan Swift to Phoebe.

After watching her talk one of his employees off of a roof ledge, he is committed to keeping this intriguing, take-charge woman in his life. She's used to working solo, but Phoebe's finding that no amount of negotiation can keep Duncan at arm's length. And when she's grabbed by a man who throws a hood over her head and brutally assaults her - in her own precinct house - Phoebe can't help but be deeply shaken. Then threatening messages show up on her doorstep, and she's not just alarmed but frustrated. How do you go face-to-face with an opponent who refuses to look you in the eye?

This was a fantastic book from Nora, although I have only read one of Nora's In Death series under her alter ego as JD Robb I got the feeling this was quite similar just not futuristic like In Death.

The characters were all great, for me I didn't find any of them weak and Phoebe was great I just wanted everything to go for her, I was a little disappointed with the ending as the final part was so nail biting for me then wham! it all seemed to be over but, I think that was more because I really liked the characters of Phoebe and Duncan and would loved to have known what happened afterwards.

Although lots of Nora's books always seemed to be tagged under the romance section I think her books are far more than that and find romance to be just a small part of her books, for me she is by far the best in her genre, I'm a huge Nora fan can't you tell!!

If you love 'In Death' I feel sure you will love this, personally I prefer her stand alone books to her trilogies as she seems to cram so much into them which makes them so much more interesting and absorbing.


Sunday, 23 December 2007

Witch Fire by Anya Bast

Mira Hoskins is the heroine of this book and the story begins with a warlock, William Crane sacrificing the lives and magicks of four elemental witches; each with power over fire, earth, water or air. This was the night twenty five years ago that Mira's mother & frather died ...

Mira has been raised by her aunt and is working as a waitress when one day a customer gves her some grief about wearing a pentacle, step in Jack McAllister, a fire witch, who defends Mira and later helps her to discover that she is a witch too, an air witch.

But, the magickal world wants Mira dead but, Jack has been sent to protect her but, they find themselves passionately drawn to each other which just wasn't mean't to happen! All the while Jack is keeping a massive secret from Mira one that will she ever find out?

This book was fantastic, you don't often find books about modern day witches, not in my experience anyway, Vampires and Weres yes ... anyway it was the Witch element that initially drew me to this book and it was a fun read, if you like paranormal romance books with a tiny smattering of sex, don't bother with this LOL! There is lots of sex but, it did not detract from the book in any way in fact it probably added to it.

This was the first book I read by Anya Bast and I loved it! This was the first in a new series and I will definitely be getting the rest, just hope the rest of the series holds the story as well as this one.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Septimus Heap by Angie Sage

Book One: Magyk

This is the story of the Heap family and the basis of the story is one sad night they lose their newborn son Septimus and then bizarrely acquire a new baby girl as a kind of replacement but, this is not just any ordinary girl, the girl they call Jenna is heir to the throne! However, there is an evil necromancer and he wants Jenna dead, this makes for the Heap family having to split up and hide and to somehow find how to get the throne back!

The Heap's 'lost' son is in fact the seventh son of a seventh son, and does he remain lost forever? Hmmm, well the series title probably explains he doesn't, and how he re-appears is very interesting!

This is a brilliant beginning to what I hope is a great trilogy, there is a wide cast of characters each added their own to the book, a brilliant easy young adult series which has sprinklings of similarities to another well known magical series ....

Book Two: Flyte

It's been a year since Septimus Heap, the seventh son of a seventh son, discovered his real family and true destiny to be a wizard. As Apprentice to ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand, he is learning the fine arts of Conjurations, Charms, and other Magyk, while his best friend Jenna (the adopted girl who lived with his family for ten years until it was discovered that she was royalty!) is adapting to life as the Princess and enjoying the freedom of the Castle.

But, as is the way with all good fantasy stories, something sinister is still afoot. The evil necromancer DomDaniel may have been has been disposed of, but something Darke is undeniably stirring. A Shadow pursues ExtraOrdinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand, following her every move, growing stronger every day. Septimus realises the danger but, before he can act, Jenna is snatched, taken by the most unlikely kidnapper. Could it really be his jealous brother Simon who is responsible? Septimus must rescue his sister but does not, at first, realise the nature of the threat apparent.

The second book in this series sees yet more characters and this one I found a little slow to begin with but, it soon picks up and with the Heap family growing up and branching off and with so many twists and turns and with DomDaniel believed to be dead Jenna is enjoying a peaceful life, for now. And with Simon (one of the Heap's sons) believing he is the apprentice of DomDaniel he goes to the Palace to upset Jenna's peaceful life.

A fabulous second book, though not as good as the first but, still brilliant!

Book Three: Physik

When Silas Heap unseals a forgotten room in the Palace, he releases the ghost of a Queen who lived five hundred years earlier. Queen Etheldredda is as awful in death as she was in life, and she's still up to no good. Her diabolical plan to give herself ever-lasting life requires Jenna's compliance, Septimus disappearance, and the talents of her son, Marcellus Pye, a famous Alchemist and Physician. And if Queen Etheldredda's plot involves Jenna and Septimus, then dark adventure awaits.

The third instalment from Septimus Heap deals with more Dark issues but, with the usual humour elements from Angie Sage it keeps it not too dark and yet again we see even more new characters making things more interesting. One of the new characters is Queen Ethelredda which while though maybe not one of the nicer characters of Septumus Herap I certainly found her very fascinating and amusing.

Overall a really good series, which I understand is far from finished with apparently at least another 2 instalments planned.

This series has drawn some similarities to a certain other series of magical books all I can say is if you enjoyed Harry Potter I am sure you will love this but, if you are a die hard HP fan you man not enjoy this as much. You may think the Heap are similar to the Weasleys, I personally didn't think they were that similar but, anyway read this and make your own decision.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

To The Tower Born by Robin Maxwell

This is a fictional account of the famous story of what happened to the princes in the Tower. With the sudden death of King Henry, the first in the Tudor line, and the ascension of his eldest son, 13-year-old Prince Edward, insidious power plays and conspiracies roil England. Before young Edward V can be crowned, Lord Hastings and Harry Buckingham lose their heads and the Duke of Gloucester connives to become Richard III. In the midst of the struggle, the two princes are abducted.

The sad story of the Princes is seen through the eyes of Nell Caxton, daughter of William Caxton, and Elizabeth (Bessie), oldest daughter of King Edward IV and is told as narrated to Bessie's son, Henry, who was to become Henry VIII. Nell was Henry's Godmother.

I think most of us know the story of the lost princes, and probably have our own idea of what may have happened, and I guess we will never fully know, as a murder mystery this is a great book but, as a historical fiction (and a big fan of historical fiction) this book was sadly lacking.

I didn't get a great deal of feel for the time period, and whilst historical fiction does not always have to be entirely true (hence the word fiction I guess!) there were just some parts that just didn't seem right.

I do find with some historical fiction of era's I am not too familiar with that I don't like them as much as era's I am familiar with and because I do not know a huge amount what happened other than the basic facts I think possibly that could be another reason why I wasn't too enthralled with this. It would probably have been better if I had read a factual book on this first, so will probably read Alison Weir's account and read this again some day.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Voice of Crow by Jeri Smith-Ready

This is the follow up to the fantastic Eyes of Crow and this one did not disappoint, the worst thing about this book was finishing and having to wait a few months for the next instalment!

Reading Eyes of Crow before this book is essential as you may not be able to follow the book and may get confused, the visualisation in this book is fantastic and you really can picture everything that is happening.

Rhia is the main character and as someone who can hear the dead is such a full of life character, Jeri has created an immensely likeable character, and as we follow Rhia and Marek we see them enhancing their powers during a very unsettled time. In Asmersos the battle has left survivors behind, and Filip and Kiril as two of those survivors.

Rhia gives birth to Marek's child (Marek being a man of Wolf) and this is where the main story picks up, although unlike Eyes of Crow the main focus is not always on Rhia and we see some new characters introduced, who all add their own appeal to this fantastic story.

This book, as the series is set in a Post Acoloyptic time and with the whole theme of this book similar to Native American beliefs, anyone interested in that will love this book, the basis of this particular book is the invaders who have lost their magical ability. This is mainly due to them living in the city.

If you have spiritual beliefs in connecting with animals you really will love this, and even if you don't it might just make you think!

This truly is a fantastic story, one of my favourites of this year!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert

There is an old, empty house in Devils Cleave, a deep gorge that leads from the high moors down to the harbour village of Hollow Bay. The house is Crickley Hall and its large and grim, somehow foreboding. Its rumoured to be haunted. Its thought to hold a secret. Despite some reservations, the Caleighs move in, searching for respite in this beautiful part of North Devon, seeking peace and perhaps to come to terms with whats happened to them as a family.

But all is not well with the house. They hear unaccountable noises. A cellar door they shut every night is always open again in the morning. They see things that cannot be real. The house is the last place the Caleighs should have come to, for the terror that unfolds is beyond belief. Soon they will discover the secret horror of Crickley Hall . . .

The Caleighs are a really nice family, you end up wanting everything to be OK for them they also recently had their young son Cameron go missing and the pain of this is all too fresh. Of course, everything is not going to be alright for them this is a horror book after all! The cast of characters were really good too from the 70 year old caretaker to the young psychic (scared to do readings, go figure!)

This is only the second book of James Herberts I have read and found this to be your typical haunted house story, I love horror books that really scare me but, sorry to say this didn't do that for me, I haven't found an author to beat Graham Masterton on that yet but, having said that it was a horror story and I'm sure if whilst reading this one of your locked cupboard doors comes flying open then it might give you the heebie jeebies!

This was a good story it just didn't have the horror factor I would have liked but, I will be reading more from James Herbert.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Birthright by Nora Roberts

When five-thousand-year-old human remains are found at a construction site in the small American town of Woodsboro the news draws archaeologist Callie Dunbrook out of her sabbatical and into a whirlwind of adventure, danger and romance.

Callie's ex-husband Jake is also on the dig which doesn't make for great news for Callie, and when Callie is interviewed on TV Suzanne Cullen recognises and thinks she is her baby, Jessica who was kidnapped almost 30 years ago. She approaches Callie and asks if she was adopted, and as far as she is concerned she isn't but, is that really true ...

I picked this one up after having immense difficulty getting into a book, Nora usually hits the spot so thought this would be a good one, and it was although the ending was pretty predictable.

The characters were pretty OK not the best characters we have seen from Nora but, mostly likeable and I didn't find anyone there I took a disliking to, there were many twists to the story too and not just the story of Callie's dig and her possible kidnapping.

Jake was a very interesting character although her ex-husband I didn't dislike him at all, and without wishing to spoil the storyline there were other characters within the story that although I liked the characters could have been more well-developed.

A good read but, far from one of Nora's best.