Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year

Well one of my tasks this year was to read 100 books, well I am sorry to say I failed my 10 books! Well I am on my 91st book as we speak but, I doubt I will finish that by midnight as I have to work until 4pm unless I can get in some sneaky reading at my desk!!

On the up side it was the most books I have read in a year and there are a few books that stand out for me this year:

Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell - I have read this previously but, its a fantastic book especially if you are interested in the mystery of Stonehenge.

The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George - This is a most definite stand out book of the year for me, I have to confess I did put off reading this for quite some time due to the volume of pages to be devoured! But, it was so engrossing it didn't seem that long at all, a definite read for Tudor fans.

Courtesan by Diane Haeger - I loved this book it was something different for me as mostly my historical fiction reading is based around the Tudors so this was great to learn about other people from history and a beautiful story as well.

The Well of Shades by Juliet Marillier - Juliet remains one of my favourite authors and this was no exception continuing the story of Bridei's Chronicles, I just love the worlds Juliet creates and whilst this was not as good as the Sevenwaters series (I don't think I will ever read anything to top those) this was a fantastic series which I hope continues.

2008 also saw me complete my first reading challenge I tend to not sign up for things like that because often I forget or there is something else I want to read but, have to read something else for a challenge but, maybe 2009 will see me signing up for more challenges.

Hopefully I will reach my target of reading 100 books in 2009 I also must finish the Kushiels Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey will also give me an excuse to re-read one of my favourite books ever - Kushiels Dart.

Hope you all have a fantastic New Year and an even better 2009.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Teaser Tuesday

I saw this on Marg's of http://readingadventures.blogspot.com/ blog and not sure if you have to be nominated to join in or tagged whatever or can just do it yourself so opted for the latter!

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Should be Reading - http://shouldbereading.wordpress.com/.

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

This is mine:

the body of the queen was lying. No one could quite believe it. The catastrophe had happened so quickly.

This is from Jane Boleyn by Julia Fox.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Don't talk back to your Vampire by Michele Bardsley

Broken Heart, Oklahoma, is now a center for paranormal activity of the vampire kind after a PTA meeting was disrupted by a sick vampire who turned every parent into one of his own kind.

Single mother Eva LeRoy is one of the new vampires, and her teenage daughter is adjusting. It helps that the whole town is vampire friendly, except for the renegade group that is trying to kill them. Eva is still testing her new powers when Lorcan, the vampire who transformed her, starts coming around.

She knows that he was sick with the taint and has forgiven him, but he has yet to forgive himself. Eva is drawn to Lorcan and relies on him to help keep her spirits up as her idea of normalcy is destroyed and her daughter's boyfriend turns out to be a vampire hunter.

This is the second book in this series and this time this story concentrates more on Eve leRoy who is the librarian of the towns library. Eve is a single and hasn't had a date in too long she can also communicate with animals.

This was every bit as funny as the first with a great mix of suspense & humour thrown into the mix.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

I'm The Vampire That's Why by Michele Bardsley

There's a new breed of soccer mom in town-with fangs.

Does drinking blood make me a bad mother? That's the question single mom Jessica Matthews faces when she wakes from a savage attack sucking on the thigh of Patrick O'Halloran, a super-hot Irish vampire who'd generously offered his femoral artery to save her from death...only to make her one of the undead.

Jessica can't rest until the beast that did this to her is caught. Meanwhile, she's having trouble committing to Patrick (in the vampire handbook, physical intimacy costs you several hundred years of being bound together) and keeping her kids in line.

This was a fun paranormal romance and reminded me of a cross between the Argeneau vampires and PC Casts books. If you can get over then cheesy titles and covers and if you love paranormal romances you will love this.

Jessica is a great character and aside from all the erotic side of this book there are parts with some really good Celtic history. This is a very un-serious book so no Anne Rice comparisons at all, this is as far away from the Vampire Chronicles as you can get but, I loved it!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

The Woman In Black by Susan Hill

SYNOPSIS
Proud and solitary, Eel Marsh House surveys the windswept reaches of the salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway. Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor, is summoned to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, the house's sole inhabitant, unaware of the tragic secrets which lie hidden behind the shuttered windows. It is not until he glimpses a wasted young woman, dressed all in black, at the funeral, that a creeping sense of unease begins to take hold, a feeling deepened by the reluctance of the locals to talk of the woman in black - and her terrible purpose.

MY VIEW
Firstly, the negative for a relatively short book I did find this rather slow moving - its brilliantly told don't get me wrong just rather slow!

But, thataside it is a very chilling shivers down your spine kind of book. It has all the typical traits of a typical ghost story - the lonely house no-one dares goes near but, for all its haunting and chilliness I did not find it really all that scary at least not scary in the way The Magic Cottage scared me!

Arthur Kibbs attends a funeral for Mrs Drablow and whilst there he is asked to go through the papers to find a benefactor. He goes to Crythin Griffin and it is when he gets here he enters Mrs Drablows house a house that seems totally isolated from the rest of the world!

If you love typical ghost stories then I am sure you will love this for an old well-loved classic I am sorry but, it didn't leave me as thrilled with it as I thought it would.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Sovereign by C J Sansom

SYNOPSIS
It was autumn, 1541. Following the uncovering of a plot against his throne in Yorkshire, King Henry VIII has set out on a spectacular Progress to the North to overawe his rebellious subjects there. Accompanied by a thousand soldiers, the cream of the nobility, and his fifth wife Catherine Howard, the King is to attend an extravagant submission of the local gentry at York. Already in the city are lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak. As well as assisting with legal work processing petitions to the King, Shardlake has reluctantly undertaken a special mission - to ensure the welfare of an important but dangerous conspirator being returned to London for interrogation. But the murder of a local glazier involves Shardlake in deeper mysteries, connected not only to the prisoner in York Castle but to the royal family itself. As the Great Progress arrives in the city, Shardlake and Barak stumble upon a cache of secret papers that holds danger for the King's throne, and a chain of events unfolds that will lead Shardlake facing the most terrifying fate of the age.

MY VIEW
The third instalment from CJ Sansom's brilliant Shardlake series was for me the best yet!

In this instalment we see Shardlake get as close to King Henry VIII than he ever has before and why? This time around Shardlake is working for Archbishop Cranmer and he has to go to York to meet with the King's progress.

At first Shardlake thinks he is just assisting a fellow lawyer but, as always not everything quite goes the way it should. In this instalment Shardlake's assistant is Barak who portrays a brilliant supporting character. Based in York rather than London this time makes for a wonderful descriptive tale.

This is longer than the previous two books but, not noticeably so as it kept me gripped right to the very end, I love these books and will be delaying reading Revelation, which I think is the last or at least is the last of the series in print at the moment, lets hope it continues for many books to come!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

My Lady of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes

SYNOPSIS
My Lady of Cleves reveals the mesmerizing story of Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's fourth wife, one of the rare women who matched wits successfully with the fiery king and lived to tell the tale.

Written by world-renowned historical novelist Margaret Campbell Barnes, My Lady of Cleves gives readers an intimate portrait of the warm, unpretentious princess who never expected to become Queen of England. Knowing the king's ravenous desire for a son, and aware of the disastrous consequences of not bearing an heir, Anne of Cleves bravely took on the duty of weathering the Tudor King's temper, whims, arrogance, and irresponsible passions - and won the hearts of his subjects in the process.

A treat for readers of Tudor fiction and those fascinated by the complex relationships of Henry VIII and his wives, My Lady of Cleves leads readers into a world of high drama and courtly elegance.

MY VIEW
This was a very interesting account into the life of Anne of Cleves. The majority of Tudor books I have read focus mainly on Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard etc and with very little on Anne of Cleves, with possibly the exceptioon of The Boleyn Inheritance so to have an entire book dedicated to Anne of Cleves was IMO brilliant!

This was very well written and as I always check reviews before I read books I wasn't expecting a great deal as the one review gave this just a one star review which I did think was a little unfair but, of course we cannot all agree on everything!

This book covers Anne's life right from just before she married Henry right up to his death in 1547. I would really recommend this book especially if you want to know more about Anne of Cleves, ok it is fiction but, I thought the historical accuracy was fairly good.

This is the second of Margaret Campbell Barnes' books I have read (the first being Brief Gaudy Hour about Anne Boleyn) and both have been excellent, she has another re-issue acoming out next year and that will definitely be on my wish list!

Loved it!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Loves of Charles II by Jean Plaidy

This is an omnibus of three books - The Wandering Prince, A Health Unto His Majesty, and, Here Lies Our Sovereign Lord.

Overall this is a great book albeit a long one but, it didn't feel after I had finished it that I had read three books. Of them all the last one was the best for me as it featured the lovely Nell Gywn.

The book starts with how Charles come to become Charles II and the relationship with his sister, I really liked this as though I have read a little of Charles it has mostly been about his later reign, the second book moves on to the telling of Charles wife, Catherine (I believe Jean Plaidy has written a book about her seperately which I intend to get so hope its not too much a repeat of this), though being an admirer of Nell Gywn I never knew a great deal about Catherine but, I really rather felt for her as she had trouble bearing Charles an heir.

Here Lies Our sovereign Lord as I said was my favourite of the three and focusses mainly on Nell though also Moll Davies.

Charles was a very colourful king and it is easy to see why he was so popular, this is a big read but, it really doesn't seem it - if you love this period of history (which I do, I would love to have lived in London during this period, much nicer than it is now!!).

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Courtesan by Diane Haeger

SYNOPSIS
Amid the disapproving gossip of the Court, a royal romance defies all obstacles.

The Court of François I is full of lust, intrigue, and bawdy bon temps—a different world from the quiet country life Diane de Poitiers led with her elderly husband. Now a widow, the elegant Diane is called back to Court, where the King’s obvious interest marks her as an enemy to the King’s favourite, Anne d’Heilly. The Court is soon electrified by rumors of their confrontations. As Anne calls on her most venomous tricks to drive Diane away, Diane finds an ally in the one member of Court with no allegiance to the King’s mistress: his teenage second son, Henri.

Neglected by his father and disliked by his brothers, Prince Henri expects little from his life. But as his friendship with Diane deepens into infatuation and then a romance that scandalizes the Court, the Prince begins to discover hope for a future with Diane. But fate and his father have other plans for Henri—including a political marriage with Catherine de Medici. Despite daunting obstacles, Henri’s devotion to Diane never wanes; their passion becomes one of the most legendary romances in the history of France.

MY VIEW
Although in historical fiction circles Diane Haeger is not regarded as one of the best historical fiction authors this was a darn good read. The story of King Henry II of France and Diane de Poitiers, his mistress. This is a royal romance I know very little about in fact I only found out about it after Googling Diane to find a little background about the book. So that means I don't know if there were any historical inaccuracies, although from other reviews I believe there was although some say there wasn't.

But, whether or not there were lots of historical accuracies the love Diane and Henri shared seemed so powerful and a really beautiful love story. Diane did seem to be portrayed as quite perfect, whether she was in reality I don't know. I think possibly the author was very sympathetic to Diane as we have seen in other authors who are sympathetic to their subject.

It is a beautiful telling of a 30 year love affair with a woman and a man 16 years her junior, I would love to read more about them I understand there is another book about them by Princess Michael of Kent but, apparently its awful, pretty much like the woman herself (my opinion!)

Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Gift by Cecelia Aherne

SYNOPSIS
Step into the magical world of Cecelia Ahern If you could wish for one gift this Christmas, what would it be? Everyday Lou Suffern battled with the clock. He always had two places to be at the same time. He always had two things to do at once. When asleep he dreamed. In between dreams, he ran through the events of the day while making plans for the next. When at home with his wife and family, his mind was always someplace else. On his way into work one early winter morning, Lou meets Gabe, a homeless man sitting outside the office building. Intrigued by him and on discovering that he could also be very useful to have around, Lou gets Gabe a job in the post room. But soon Lou begins to regret helping Gabe. His very presence unsettles Lou and how does Gabe appear to be in two places at the same time? As Christmas draws closer, Lou starts to understand the value of time. He sees what is truly important in life yet at the same time he learns the harshest lesson of all. This is a story about people who not unlike parcels, hide secrets.They cover themselves in layers until the right person unwraps them and discovers what's inside.Sometimes you have to be unravelled in order to find out who you really are. For Lou Suffern, that took time.

MY VIEW
As one of those people who absolutely adores Christmas I couldn't not get this book! The only thing I regret is not leaving it until Christmas to read it. The way the book is marketed is quite cute just like a gift with a red ribbon.

Now on to the actual book I have been just a little disappointed with cecelia's books of late and haven't found anything to match Where Rainbows End and PS I Love You and whilst this still isn't as good as those I definitely preferred it to the more recent ones.

This book has a story contained within another story we start of seeing a child throwing a turkey at his fathers house and the second story is of the policeman telling the story to the child. The story follows throughout the Christmas period and whilst it may not sound very exciting it really is a brilliant story.

I always find with Cecelia's books that though they can be quite light hearted and easy to follow there is always an underlying message for us all especially at the festive time of year.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Captive Queen of Scots by Jean Plaidy

SYNOPSIS
Scotland has been torn apart by civil war and the young and passionate Catholic Mary Queen of Scots is in the hands of her enemies. Under duress, Mary abdicates in favour of her son, James VI, and fleeing to England she boldly seeks refuge from her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. But Elizabeth has never trusted the ambitious Mary, and consequently has her imprisoned. So begins a treacherous battle between two of history's most powerful and ruthless women. Without once meeting her cousin, Mary is held captive for nineteen years, whilst Elizabeth rules in the shadow of countless Catholic plots against her life...

MY VIEW
As an admirer of Elizabeth I this book (and its predecessor) is rather biased towards Mary QoS however, having said that it was rather interesting to see things from Marys side I did find myself sympathising with her. I found Elizabeth in this book to be portrayed as rather jealous, if she was really like that I do not know but, possibly.

I did find this book a little drawn out in places and somewhat tedious but, overall it was as I said interesting to see things from Mary's side. I have yet to read Margaret George's fictional account of this story so will be moving that up my TBR list quite a bit as I do find Mary QoS rather intriguing.

And you cannot help but, feel sad at the end of this at Mary's beheading and her poor little dog who never ate after her death!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Royal Road to Fotheringay by Jean Plaidy

SYNOPSIS
At just six days old, Mary Stuart became Queen of Scots. At just six years old she was betrothed to the Dauphin Francois, the future King of France. Reluctantly leaving Scotland, Mary is raised in the decadent French court in preparation to become the Queen of France. But her reign with Francois is short-lived. Widowed at just eighteen years old, Mary is once again forced to leave her home to return to Scotland. Now a Catholic queen of a Protestant country, Mary must rule with caution and choose her next husband prudently...

MY VIEW
Royal Road to Fotheringay is the telling of Mary, Queen of Scots childhood and her early days as Queen.Having moved to France Mary became the King's little darling and then marrying the Dauphin only for him to die so tragically young and for Mary then to flee back to Scotland but, Mary was every inch the little young french lady and remained so something which was disapproved of by so many.

Later Mary marries Darnley who was probably not right for her from the outset and I think we all know how Darnleys life came to end.

I have to admit I do not know a huge amount of info about Mary, Queen of Scots except the main facts of her story so this was a very interesting insight into her life and though I have a huge interest and fascination for Elizabeth I Marys life was so tragic and I felt for her so much.

This was an amazing book and loved it, of all the Jean Plaidy books I have read so far this has to be one of my favourites.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

The Firemasters Mistress by Christie Dickason

SYNOPSIS
In the troubled year of 1605, Papist plots are rife in the gaudy streets of Shakespeare's London as the fifth of November approaches ! Francis Quoynt, Firemaster, is recently returned from Flanders and dreaming of making fireworks rather than war. Instead, Quoynt is recruited by Robert Cecil, First Minister, to spy on Guido Fawkes and his fellow conspirators. Meanwhile, Sir Francis Bacon is scheming for high position and spying on Quoynt. Kate Peach, a glove maker, was Quoynt's lover before war took him away. Now living in Southwark, she is brought into grave danger. She is a secret Catholic. A fugitive Jesuit is concealed in her rooms. While Francis hopes to prevent the death of King James I and everyone in his parliament, Kate will have to save herself !

MY VIEW
Based on the famous Gunpowder Plot to try and blow up James I and his parliament, the two main characters being Francis & Kate, Kate Peach is a glove maker and Francis Quoynt is hired to prevent the Gunpowder Plot from happening.

But, of course the story is more than that and it is so brilliantly weaved, if I am totally honest I didn't think this book would be that great and in fact I only bought it because it was on a 3 for 2 in Waterstones and was frantically searching for the third when I saw the cover and Philippa Gregory quoting her thoughts on the book and thought it had to be a winner, I never even read the blurb on the back before buying it!

This book for those who like me only know the basics of the details of the Gunpowder Plot is really interesting to see the details more in depth and the background of how the Gunpowder Plot came about and what happened before and after.

I loved this book from beginning to end and was so engrossed a really brilliant historical fiction novel!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Dark Fire by C J Sansom

SYNOPSIS
From the acclaimed author of Dissolution comes a new sixteenth-century thriller featuring hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake. In 1540, during the reign of Henry VIII, Shardlake is asked to help a young girl accused of murder. She refuses to speak in her defense even when threatened with torture. But just when the case seems lost, Thomas Cromwell, the king's feared vicar general, offers Shardlake two more weeks to prove his client's innocence. In exchange, Shardlake must find a lost cache of "Dark Fire," a legendary weapon of mass destruction. What ensues is a page-turning adventure, filled with period detail and history.

My View
Again another brilliant view of Tudor London and the life of the hunchbunk lawyer Matthew Shardlake. It took me a little longer to get into this one than it took me to get into Dissolution and I didn't enjoy this one as much I felt it was just a little too long however, still a very good book.

This book begins three years after Dissolution ends and we see Shardlake back working for Cromwell who is slowly falling from the King's favour after his disastrous marriage to Anne of Cleves. The mix of fact and fiction works so well and despite feeling it was a tad too long it was still very enjoyable and a fantastic murder mystery that keeps you guessing right up to the end!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Dissolution by C J Sansom

SYNOPSIS
Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved. But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell's Commissioner Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege - a black cockerel sacrificed on the alter, and the disappearance of Scarnsea's Great Relic. Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death. But Shardlake's investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes ...

My View
Shardlake is a humpback investigator who works under Thomas Cromwell and is sent to investigate initially a murder at a monastery in Scarnsea, he takes with him a young assistant, Mark who gets rather friendly with Alice who works at the monastery which makes Shardlake rather jealous.

Set in one of the most interesting periods of English hisory makes for a very interesting backdrop, though if Iam honest one of my primary reasons for reading this was because it was set in Tudor times, C J Sansom paints a very believable and interesting scene of life back then.

I loved it, the characters were really good especially Shardlake I did feel for him sometimes!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

A Visit To The North

I will be away after today on my bi-annual trip to the lake district, one of my favourite places in the UK, I work in London all week so you couldn't get further away from the environment I work in to the environment I will be going to.

I am a very keen photographer as some of you may know and there are a million opportunities for photo's up there so I may well post some when I get back, I doubt I will get much reading done up there so will have to catch up when I get back.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Tribute by Nora Roberts

SYNOPSIS
Sometimes those closest to us can do the most harm ...The granddaughter of world famous movie star Janet Hardy, Cilla McGowan has long accepted that her own talents lie elsewhere. She's persuaded her mother to sell her Little Farm, which was Hardy's retreat from the cut-throat world of Hollywood. Cilla is determined to restore the house to its former glory, in tribute to her grandmother. Janet Hardy was a screen legend - glamorous, brilliant and deeply troubled - and she died in mysterious circumstances at the farm. As Cilla settles in, she finds herself dreaming of the grandmother she never really knew and wondering exactly what happened to her. But someone else in the community wants Cilla to leave the past alone, and she becomes the target of several brutal acts. Together with her neighbour, Ford Sawyer, she must find out who is trying to threatening her and why ...

My View
After Nora's last few romance thrillers I found this to be a bit of a letdown, it is the usual male/female romance we see in most of her stand alones (High Noon, Angel Falls etc) but, this one for me lacked the punch a little.

Much of the book is about Cilla restoring her grandmothers house to its former glory, which if your interested in that type of thing you will probably love but, in all honesty I did find it a little tedious.

Nora remains one of my favourite authors, indeed if I'm ever in a book reading rut and not sure what book to read next 9 times out of 10 I will reach for Nora but, this one just didn't cut it I am afraid. :(

Sunday, 5 October 2008

The Sweet Scent of Blood

SYNOPSIS
Genevieve Taylor is a Sidhe, one of the noble fae, and she's unusual, even in present-day London where celebrity vampires, eccentric goblins and scheming lesser fae mix freely with the human population. Genny is a rising star at Spellcrackers.com, where she finds the M' in magic - and that invariably leads to mischief, malice and - too often - murder.

Spellcrackers.com is affiliated to the Witch Council, whose ancient tenets prohibit any contact with vampires. Genny also works as a volunteer at a clinic which treats victims of vampire attacks. Then there's her extra-curricular activity, extracting vulnerable fae lured by the local fang gangs. Genny certainly doesn't wants any closer involvement with the vampire community. But when Mr October, one of the hot calendar pin-up vamps, is accused of violently murdering his girlfriend, Genny's called on to repay an old debt and prove his innocence. And that means consorting with some of the sexiest vamps in London!

My View
This was great, I only picked it up after looking for a third book on a 3 for 2 in Waterstones, anyway ...

This was interesting and if you love Vampires just get it! Most of the Vamp books I have read have been based in USA so was an interesting slant to read a UK based one. Genny is an interesting character, some of the supporting characters were a little boring in places but, overall a pretty good read.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Solstice at Stonewylde by Kit Berry

Synopsis
The "Stonewylde" series, now into its third title, has developed a huge cult following. It's enjoyed equally by men, women and teenagers, and retailers find it hard to decide where to position the books in-store. The series defies categorisation because it has something for everyone and spans several genres. But above all, it has the secret ingredient essential to a best-selling series - an absolutely riveting plot that makes the books "unputdownable". "Solstice at Stonewylde" continues the story of Sylvie and Yul, their developing love for each other, and their battle to survive the cruelty and domination of Magus. Yul was left hovering at the gates of death in the last book - now he is subjected to a terrifying ordeal in the Stone Circle at Samhain (Hallowe'en) as Magus attempts to negate the old prophecy.The Villagers rally around Yul and ill-feeling towards Magus grows, fuelled by his appalling treatment of his own son. Desperate to keep Sylvie safe from Magus at the full moon, Yul inadvertently harms her himself, which destroys her faith in him. Their young love falters as Sylvie becomes entranced by Magus' charms.
Magus has been grooming Sylvie carefully, heaping luxury and privilege on her so that his true intentions are masked. Mother Heggy, the old crone, helps Yul to maintain his resolve - to overthrow Magus at the time of the Winter Solstice. But the wise woman has her own worries. She repeatedly sees five in everything, and knows that there will be five deaths at the Solstice.The question is - whose? Sylvie, glittering with diamonds and starved into submission, realises her mistake in trusting Magus. But too late. She's in his clutches and then his real unspeakable intentions are revealed. Clip rallies round and finally learns to challenge his evil half-brother, but is it too late? Is Magus unstoppable, now that his clever manipulation of the situation has ensured Sylvie's compliance?As the Winter Solstice approaches the tension mounts unbearably. The reader is held on a knife-edge as the plot gallops away, drawing in the characters towards a truly explosive climax. And as for those five deaths - they're not who the reader would imagine and come as quite a shock.

My View
The final published book (though there are 2 more to follow I believe) and I had to pick this up straight away @MoonDance' was left on such a cliffhamger and if you do get to read this don't do what I done before the book and read the note from Kit at the back, it didn't totally ruin it for me but, I would rather not have known, my fault totally!

Anyway, this just gets better and better the first two were fast paced this was like a roller coaster ride. Set around one of my favourite times of year the winter solstice again evoking great pictures in my minds eye of that time of year.

Definitely the best book out of the three, so much going on! We see Sylvie staying with someone I hadn't expected her to, I won't say anymore as it may spoil it for you but, I am sure you will be saying much the same things I was if you sympathise with Sylvie's character.

The series could definitely have wound up with this book but, I am really glad the series is continuing can't wait for the next instalment!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Moondance at Stonewylde by Kit Berry

Synopsis
"Moondance of Stonewylde" is the second in this series of five titles, and follows on from "Magus of Stonewylde". The story is picked up again at the Summer Solstice, where Yul has incurred Magus' wrath by challenging him for the leadership of the community. The sunrise ceremony amongst the great standing stones was a disaster for Magus, with Yul lighting the Solstice Fire and receiving the powerful earth energy in his place. But Magus still holds the power, and embarks on another attempt to subdue the rebellious Village boy. The story unfolds throughout the glorious summer at Stonewylde, where crops are grown organically and the people are self-sufficient and productive. Beautiful descriptions flow of this idyllic place, a community steeped in magic and time-honoured traditions. There's an exhilarating cricket match on the Village Green at Lammas, and the harvesting of wheat in honour of the Corn Mother.Yul proves worthy of the wise-woman's prophecies, hardening himself to the brutality that Magus inflicts so casually, and waiting with growing impatience for the time when his destiny can be fulfilled.
But Magus discovers Sylvie's secret gift, bestowed during the rising of each full moon, and sees a way to exploit her to boost his own waning power. His attempts to harness the young girl's magic are aided by his shaman half-brother, who is weak and easily bribed with the addictive hallucinogenic cakes that are part of every pagan festival at Stonewylde. Sylvie grows fragile and thin again, and Yul seems powerless to save her from Magus' cruelty. The Autumn Equinox sees the harvesting of apples in the great orchards at Stonewylde, and Sylvie realises she has a rival for Yul's affections.Her innocent and evocative relationship with the boy is developing into something more adult, and both struggle to control their powerful feelings for each other. Meanwhile Sylvie's mother Miranda remains besotted with Magus, his baby growing inside her, and abandons any attempts to protect her daughter from the man's exploitation. As Samhain (Hallowe'en) approaches, the tension notches even higher when Yul makes a disastrous attempt to rescue Sylvie from the clutches of the two men. By the end of the book, his life hangs by a whisker as Magus gives free rein to his excesses.The reader is left feverish to discover what happens next.

My View

A fantastic sequel to 'Magus', I enjoyed this instalment even more, and I did not think that was possible!

The book starts practically where 'Magus' left off.The same great storytelling as 'Magus', completely had me gripped! I won't bore you by explaining the story as it is summed up in the Sypnosis suffice to add Sylvie is getting more interesting, I was a bit concerned at first that she would just beome another whiny teen but, she isn't and I really love her character.

Although this and the others are based heavily on Paganism I don't think you need to be a Pagan to read this, after all there were millions who read Harry Potter that were not Wizards, and who knows it might make you more interested in the way of a Pagan.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Magus of Stonewylde by Kit Berry

Synopsis
"Magus of Stonewylde" is the first title in a series of five. Written in an untapped genre, it's contemporary fiction set in an authentic pagan context. The book appeals to both males and females, from young teens to senior adults. Stonewylde is an alternative community, a vast country estate hidden away in Dorset and enclosed behind high boundary walls. Ruled by the charismatic Magus, life here is simple and seems idyllic. Into this magical world come Sylvie and her mother, trying to escape the stresses of modern inner-city life. Sylvie suffers from chronic eczema and a strange malaise, but soon begins to heal in the peace and tranquillity of the beautiful Dorset countryside. She and her mother are entranced, both by their new life in a place where time seems to have stood still, and by their attractive benefactor.But then Sylvie befriends Yul, a dark and rebellious Village lad, and slowly she begins to see that Stonewylde, and particularly Magus, are not quite what they appeared to be. Why is Yul so damaged? What secret is he trying to protect?
And is the old crone on the hill a powerful wise-woman or simply a demented hag bent on destroying the equilibrium with her wild prophecies? Sylvie and her mother Miranda are initiated into the community at Beltane, which is celebrated in a great Stone Circle hidden amongst the oak trees. They take part in the pagan festivals that are an element of everyday life here, and Miranda is introduced to the full moon rituals by Magus himself. Sylvie has her own problems to contend with at the full moon, which has always affected her in a strange way. She discovers a special standing stone where the hares dance to the moon and with Yul's help realises that she is in fact moongazy.But this brings the wrath of two men on Yul's head, and the boy is taken away for punishment of a barbaric kind. Sylvie must learn to fight, and Yul must learn to bide his time. As the young pair's friendship deepens into something more, Miranda realises she is expecting Magus' child. The old crone's ramblings take on a new meaning and Sylvie realises the full extent of Magus' ruthlessness, and just how much danger Yul is in. Only she can save him.

If not, the boy will be destroyed by the dark forces that Magus has at his command.The first book in the "Stonewylde" series ends in an exciting and satisfying manner, and yet leaves the reader longing for the next book to take the story further. Meticulous research ensures authenticity to every detail of rural Dorset life, which makes the dazzling setting seem so real. Earth energy, moon magic - strange stuff, and yet all seems possible at Stonewylde.

My View
This book has had amazing reviews on Amazon and I was a bit dubious at first as I always feel let down by overhyped books but, totally not here!

Kit Berry has created an amazing story, there are sadly few books around that capture the true Pagan way of life in the way Kit has and which Pagan would not want to live in Stonewylde I know I would.

Sylvie is a great character it did take me a little while to warm to her but, over the three books her character really does develop, all the characters were brilliant and unlike some books I could not guess where the plot was going which was good.

The descriptions of all the Pagan festivals were brilliant really capturing the sense of the occasion.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

SYNOPSIS
At the centre of this novel is Mary Queen of Scotland, forced to flee into England. Mary, a devout Catholic, is, of course, a living threat to the rule of her cousin Elisabeth, whose Protestant reign is uncertain. We’ve been here before, of course, in various books and films. But Philippa Gregory’s story this time has a different emphasis: Elizabeth’s chief advisor, Cecil, formulates a plan in which the destabilising Mary will live under guard with his faithful friend, Bess of Hardwick. Bess is a remarkable woman herself; someone who has forged her own destiny, and is now in her fourth marriage, to the distinguished Earl of Shrewsbury. But soon Bess and Mary find themselves plunged into very different personal crises – with Bess’s marriage under considerable strain.

MY VIEW
Philippa Gregory is one of my favourite authors, it was she who brought me to the wonderful genre of historical fiction and I have loved pretty much all of her books some of course are better than others but, never have I come across one of her books that have bored me and it pains me to say that frankly I was glad to get to the end!

The characters I feel were not very well developed and Bess irritated the hell out of me, I found her extremely shallow, I wanted to feel for Mary but, I really couldn't it got to the point where I couldn't care about what happened to any of the characters.

George was really not a great deal better, overall I guess the book wasn't terribly bad (compared to Suzannah Dunn's lastest offering this was better) but, compared to Philippa's usual standard this was not really good, I absolutely loved her last book (The Boleyn Inheritance) but, sad to say this will not be one I will re-read.

Sorry Philippa :(

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir

Synopsis
Alison Weir was already one of Britain's most popular historians when she wrote her first novel, "Innocent Traitor", which hit the "Sunday Times" bestseller list to a chorus of praise. Now, in her second novel, Alison Weir goes to the heart of Tudor England at its most dangerous and faction-riven in telling the story of Elizabeth I before she became queen. The towering capricious figure of Henry VIII dominates her childhood, but others play powerful roles: Mary, first a loving sister, then as queen a lethal threat; Edward, the rigid and sad little King; Thomas Seymour, the Lord High Admiral, whose ambitions, both political and sexual, are unbridled. And, an ever-present ghost, the enigmatic, seductive figure of her mother Anne Boleyn, executed by Henry, whose story Elizabeth must unravel. Elizabeth learns early that the adult world contains many threats that have to be negotiated if she is to keep her heart and her head.


My View

I totally loved this book, as a fan of Elizabeth I this was such an engrossing read, detailing Elizabeth's life from very early childhood up until when she was crowned Queen. Very detailed and beautifully descriptive.

Most books that I have come across concentrate for the most part on Elizabeth's reign as Queen so it was refreshing to read a fictional account of Elizabeth's story before she became Queen. Depending on your view of what happened during the course of this book you may or may not think it is historically accurate particuarly regarding Elizabeth's relationship with Thomas Seymour and whether or not she became pregnant.

All that said I did prefer An Innocent Traitor and the way it was laid out from each different viewpoint but, still brilliant and can't wait for Alison't next fiction work!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon

Synopsis
Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century - and a lover in another...In 1945, Claire Randall is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon in Scotland. Innocently, she walks through a stone circle in the Highlands, and finds herself in a violent skirmish taking place in 1743. Suddenly, she is a Sassenach, an outlander, in a country torn by war and by clan feuds. A wartime nurse, Claire can deal with the bloody wounds that face her. But it is harder to deal with the knowledge that she is in Jacobite Scotland and the carnage of Culloden is looming. Marooned amid the passion and violence, the superstition, the shifting allegiances and the fervent loyalties, Claire is in danger from Jacobites and Redcoats - and from the shock of her own desire for James Fraser, a gallant and courageous young Scots warrior. Jamie shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire, and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

My View
This is one book I have heard so much about and so many seem to love it, sometimes that puts me off a book as in the past I have been so disappointed by a book that I have maybe expected too much so I kept putting this one off and also its quite a chunky book too but, wow it was brilliant!

Its deemed to be historical fiction though in this book how much of it is accurate I do not know as its not an era I have a huge amount of knowledge about but, its a brilliant story and the only thing that disappointed me was after Claire goes through the stone circle you don't get to find out what happened to Frank (until the next book) but, as the book is Claire's story I guess you wouldn't!

Jamie is a very interesting character and extremely likeable! The tender scenes of Claire & jamie''s first night together were so beautifully written and worded.

Yes it is a long book and very descriptive but, then I love books like that I am a massive fan of Cecilia Dart-Thornton who writes very long descriptive books so there you go! That said I didn't think the story was slow moving which is what sometimes can happen with descriptive books.

I'm so glad I loved this seeing as I have the rest of the series awaiting to be read!

Date read: 9-12 September 2008

Rogue by Rachel Vincent

Synopsis
Okay, so cats don't always land on their feet

I know that better than most. Since rejoining the Pride, I've made big decisions and even bigger mistakes: the kind paid for with innocent lives. As the first and only female enforcer, I have plenty to prove to my father, the Pride, and myself. And with murdered toms turning up in our territory, I'm working harder than ever , though I always find the energy for a little after-hours recreation with Marc, my partner both on and off duty.

But not all my mistakes are behind me. We're beginning to suspect that the dead are connected to a rash of missing human women, and that they can all be laid at my feet--two or four, take your pick. And one horrible indiscretion may yet cost me more than I can bear...

My View
After reading (and loving) Stray I could not wait to read this, lucky for me I packed both of them in my suitcase!

Rogue starts just a few months after Stray has ended. As good as the previous, which for me is rare I often find the middle books of series the weakest, and this one is a lot less like Kelly Armstrongs series than the previous. Faythe's boyfriend Marc is a great but, he derserves a medal for putting up with Faythe!

Again fast paced and not as long as Stray you will find yourself zipping through this one only to get to the end which is left with a cliffhanger making you desperately want to read thre next instalment, Pride which is not released until 2009 - damn!

Date read: 5-7 September 2008

Stray by Rachel Vincent

Synopsis
Faythe Sanders likes to pretend she's a normal college co-ed, but that's only half the truth. It's the other half that matters when her former lover appears on campus, sent to pull her back into a life her classmates could never understand, or even imagine. He has come to take her home, to where hunting doesn’t involve guns, the night isn’t for sleeping, and fur is much more than just a fashion statement.

Female werecats are disappearing from all over the south, and the Pride is helpless to find its missing members and stop the stray responsible. Confined to home for her own protection, Faythe must face everything she went to school to escape: the family she left behind, the love she turned her back on, and the destiny tradition says she's bound to fulfill. And when it all becomes too much to handle, an emotionally charged error in judgment leads her into the unsheathed claws of the stray himself. Now, armed with nothing but animal instinct and a serious attitude, Faythe must free herself and stop the kidnappers before their horrific plot robs her Pride of its most valuable asset: its own continued existence.

My View
This was brilliant yes I guess there are quite a lot of this genre of books out there and it is pretty easy to overlook this one but, don't! I found it quite similar to the first books of Kelly Armstrong's Otherworld Women series which I loved and this is equally as good and just a tadge different.

Faythe Sanders is an interesting character she is far from perfect (as if any of us are!) she is also quite feisty and there is really never a dull moment here, even though the book is 618 pages long because I felt it was very fast paced it seemed more like half that.

Faythe is one of the last eight breeding werecats and a stray attacks Faythe and she gets pulled back home, more for her safety than anything. Faythe is in her late teens so does come a cross as a bit of a whinger at times but, that doesn't make her any less likeable as she is a great character.

Just read it!

Date read: 2-4 September 2008

Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella

Synopsis
From Kinsella (Shopaholic & Baby, 2007, etc.), a rags-to-riches fable with a twist.Self-proclaimed "sucker" Lexi Smart has a thankless job and a boyfriend known as "Loser Dave." When the book opens, our plucky-in-spite-of-it-all heroine is wrapping up a night out with gal pals in London. Struggling to find a taxi in the rain to take her home, Lexi slips on the slick pavement and wakes up with retrograde amnesia three years later. Seems Lexi has been busy in recent years - too bad she remembers none of it. When she opens her eyes, she's in a first-class hospital room, the victim, doctors say, of a car wreck in her Mercedes. No longer a working-class drone, Lexi now has a Louis Vuitton handbag, and her previously humdrum body is toned and tanned. As she switches into freak-out mode, her sister notifies Lexi that she is also married - to a square-jawed, hunky millionaire. Talk about getting lucky! Hilarity ensues as Lexi attempts to reclaim her past and negotiate her dazzling present, while contemplating an even more wondrous romance with a black-jeans-clad architect. That Lexi discovers that her transformation from worker to boss turned her from good buddy to bitch adds a bit of morality-tale vinegar to this sugar-shock tale.Cute.

My View

I loved this, we see a new character from Sophie in the shape of Lexi Smart, I was a bit dubious at first wondering if she could top the Shopaholic and Domestic Goddess and whilst I don't think she has done better with either of those here this was still a fabulous read!

Yes maybe the story is a little too far fetched but, thats why we read isn't it to escape from real life? Its funny, it moves you and its easy to read. The characters were great and added to the story.

The book has had lots of mixed reviews but, personally I loved it I think its probably one of those books you will either love or hate.

Date read: August 31st 2008.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Hasta La Vista

After months of anticipation in about 10 hours time I will be leaving for Gatwick en route to Mexico!! I cannot wait so after a nice warm day in Kent, it was about 26c it was a nice pre-cursor to the lovely 36c I will be experiencing this time tomorrow!! Although not so much looking forward to the 10 hour flight but, on the plus side tomorrow is my birthday and instead of a 24 hour birthday I get a 30 hour one!

So have all my books packed, hubby has moaned and said do you really intend to read all those books? (Er, yes!) and the excitement is too much I have wanted to go to Mexico for so so long, Hasta La Vista!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Into The Green by Charles de Lint

SYNOPSIS
The harp was a gift from Jacky Lantern's fey kin, as was the music Angharad pulled from its strings. She used it in her journeys through the Kingdoms of the Green Isles, to wake the magic of the Summerblood where it lay sleeping in folk who had never known they had it.

My View
Having read a few of CDL's books I can categorically say this is my most favourite that I have read to date! This story revolves around Angharad who was grew up as a tinker she is now a witch having been taught the ways of a witch. This is a precursor to a mission she is sent on to help instil the magic to those who have the ability.

Two witches tell Angharad that through her veins runs the Summerblood, inherited from the kowrie and their lord Hafarl, the ancient fey who still live in the world beyond our sight. Those with Summerblood can see into that world, "into the green," and speak the languages of animals and trees. To the ordinary housey-folk, however, such people are called witches, and they are feared. And sometimes hunted.

This is such a beautifully written book as I said it is my favourite so far, it is very fast paced and with a cast of characters that are easy to follow, some books have so many characters that you can get lost, well I do at times.

A really beautiful magical fairytale.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Lord Robert by Jean Plaidy

Synopsis
In the grim recesses of the Tower of London, two captives begin a passionate love affair that will last years but is destined to destroy them; one is Robert Dudley, the other is the future Queen of England, Elizabeth I. Pardoned by Queen Mary, Dudley and Elizabeth are freed, but their mutual longing must be from a distance: Dudley is married, and as the next heir to the throne, Elizabeth must tread carefully...

My View
This book was brilliant, I was quite surprised to see it rated only 3½ stars on Amazon but, I guess we can't like the same things! A wonderful portrait of Robert Dudley and whilst there have been comparisons to The Virgins Lover by Philippa Gregory I wouldn't say it was either better or worse just maybe a bit different.

It was quite fast moving and some areas were a little rushed but, there was so much to cram in, I always think Jean Plaidy's books are like a non-fiction book and if nothing else I learn a lot from them this was no different and it was good that we learned more about Robert from when he was born and when he met Elizabeth etc..

Fiction books on Elizabeth never fail to disappoint and she was portrayed really beautifully here whereas in TVL I found her just a teensy bit weak than I imagined her to be.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

The Sixth Wife by Jean Plaidy

Synopsis
Katharine Parr has unwittingly become the last pawn in King Henry VIII's ambitions for an heir. Already twice widowed, Katharine finally dared to hope that she might find love with the dashing Thomas Seymour. But Henry has decided he must have a sixth wife and Seymour's intentions to marry Katherine have not gone unnoticed. Unable to refuse the King of England Katharine becomes his reluctant bride. Once again it seems only a matter of time before another wife's fate leads her to the Tower of London...

My View
Loved this, not to be confused with Suzannah Dunn's book of the same name this is a brilliant portrayal of Henry's sixth and last wife. I don't think I need to tell you the background to this story as most of us know the history surrounding Henry's wives but, this was beautifully told. The part about Anne Askew was rather disturbing describing what happened to her on the rack was just awful! But, very well described at the same time.

I did really feel for Katherine towards the end of her life and what must have been going on in her head with regards to her husband and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was portayed here as probably not someone who I would like very much, its always interesting seeing how different authors portray Elizabeth.

A brilliant example of great historical fiction IMO.

Sometimes I look upon Jean Plaidy's work as historical non-fiction fictionalised if that makes any sense!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

The Queen's Sorrow by Suzannah Dunn

Synopsis
A queen brought low by love compromised and power abused -- the tragedy of Mary Tudor. Plain, dutiful and a passionate Catholic, Mary Tudor was overjoyed by joy when she became England's queen. After the misery of her childhood, when her father had rejected her mother, and effectively disowned his daughter, Mary felt at last that she was achieving her destiny. And when she marries Philip of Spain, her happiness is complete. But Mary's delight quickly turns sour as she realises that her husband does not love her. In fact he finds her devotion irritating. Desperate for a baby, she begins to believe that God is punishing her. Her people are horrified at the severity of the measures she takes and begin to turn against their queen who is lonely, frightened -- and desperate for love. Rafael, a member of Philip of Spain's entourage, is a reluctant witness to the unfolding tragedy and as the once-feted queen tightens her cruel hold on the nation, Rafael becomes closer to Mary and his life -- and new-found love -- are caught up in the terrible chaos that follows.

My View
I always felt the reviews I read of Suzannah Dunn's books really gave her a raw deal while yes she is not the greatest historical fiction writer she is (was?) far from the worst but, this book really was dire.

Basically the story of Mary Tudor is told through the eye of a member of her husband (Prince Philip of Spain's) entourage. It doesn't even really tell the story, actually at the beginning I thought it was going to turn into a pretty good book but, nothing ever seemed to happen. This book was mostly about someone who is really not very interesting.

I am sorry to say that I probably won't read another of Ms. Dunn's books unless I see it get really rave reviews - this really is the worst yet, her previous book on Katherine Parr really was not too bad and the previous was OK.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Elizabeth & The Prince Of Spain by Margaret Irwin

Synopsis
Philip of Spain, unwilling bridegroom of Queen Mary, has been warned about the Queen's half-sister, the young Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn. According to all reports, she is a heretic, a rebel and a potential enemy with 'a spirit full of enchantment'. But Philip is not deterred, and Elizabeth must advance warily towards her destiny, running the gauntlet between Bloody Mary's jealousy and morbid outbursts of hate, and Philip's uneasy ardour...


My View

The final instalment of Margaret Irwin's brilliant Elizabeth trilogy, as I have said before the descriptions here are brilliant and that continues in this book, I would say this is probably the weakest book of the three not that that is a bad thing as this was a very good series I just felt it didn't keep my interest as much as the others.

As far as a portrait of Elizabeth goes this was not the greatest I think I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles and Queen of this Realm by Jean Plaidy are very hard to beat but, then this is a different kind of storyline, that said still a brilliant Elizabethan saga and very well written.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Elizabeth, Captive Princess by Margaret Irwin

Synopsis
In July, 1553, sibling rivalry has never been more tumultuous and perilous than between the daughters of King Henry VIII. Queen Mary Tudor has just won possession of the throne, but her younger half-sister - the beautiful and vivacious Princess Elizabeth - holds the hearts of the people. Knowing this, Mary banishes her sibling to a country retreat, determined to keep her as far away from court life and any powerful supporters she has there as possible.But Mary's health is fading fast and her power beginning to crumble. The people of England are crying out for a new monarch and it seems, at last, they may have their wish and crown their beloved Bess as queen...But Mary refuses to relinquish the throne, determined to rule to the absolute end as her father did before her. In a final show of strength, Mary orders Elizabeth's imprisonment in the Tower of London, there to await her execution. In these treacherous times, when all about her there is secrecy and deception, Elizabeth must rely on her faith and courage if she is to survive her ordeal and rise to fulfil her destiny.

My View
This is the second in Margaret Irwin's Elizabeth trilogy and the same excellent writing that we saw in Young Bess is prevelent here. This book covers the period when Elizabeth's half-sister Mary Tudor was on the throne. Beautifully descriptive this really gives you the feel for the time period, I think descriptions of clothing, houses etc are so important with historical novels and they were such brilliant descriptions.

For me Elizabeth I was along with her mother one of the most fascinating and interesting of all historical people and I cannot read enough books about either of them, this was very addictive reading and well worth a read if you love the Tudor period.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

The Well of Shades by Juliet Marillier

Synopsis
In this captivating third installment in Marillier's historical fantasy series (after 2006's Blade of Fortriu) set in the sixth-century Scottish Highlands and Ireland, Faolan of the Uí Néill clan—bard, assassin, spy and adviser to the Pictish King Bridei of Fortriu—must complete three difficult missions. For Bridei, he must track down a cleric named Colmcille. For his own peace of mind, he must return home to Erin and confront his past. (Ten years earlier Faolan faced an impossible choice that shattered his family and left his eldest brother dead.) For his deceased comrade Deord, he must bring news of the warrior's death to the man's family in Cloud Hill, a task that lands Deord's impoverished 16-year-old daughter, Eile, and her toddler in Faolan's care. Faolan brings Eile back to the court of King Bridei, where they find themselves enmeshed in a plot against the king's half-fey son, Derelei. Despite some anachronistic instances of liberated female behavior and a few discordant modern colloquialisms, this episode will appeal to series fans and new readers alike.

My View
This is the third in the brilliant Bridei Chronicles, and takes place almost immediately after where Blade of Fortriu ends. Faolan returns to his homeland to complete a mission for Bridei. As he informs Deord's family of his death into his life comes Eile, Deord's daughter. Eile helps a heartbroken Faolan to heal.

New characters are introduced in this volume as well as the old characters of course. I would have to say, and I have read pretty much all of Juliet's books that Eile and Faolan are two of the best characters she has ever created they gave so much to this instalment both having been through so much.

A brilliantly developed and fast-paced novel, I hope this is not the last of Bridei's chronicles.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Vampire Interrupted by Lynsay Sands

Synopsis
In over 700 years of existence, Marguerite Argeneau has never held a job. Her fledgling career as a PI seemed like such a simple plan - track down Christian Notte's father and convince him to give up the name of his son's mother. But, the best laid plans...Julius Notte has loved Marguerite for a long time - a very long time. When she turns up on his doorstep, demanding answers to very sensitive questions, it's clear that something is wrong. Certain he's the only one who can save her, Julian is determined to rekindle their love. But, someone is standing in their way; someone who will stop at nothing - not even murder - to ensure that Marguerite's past stays in the past.

My View
Finally Marguerite's story! Marguerites husband is dead all her children have found their lifemates and only Marguerite hasn't ... until now! Christian Notte believes his mother to be dead and has believed that for the last 500 years but, he sets out to find out her name and hires Marguerite to help him. The more the story goes on the more you find out Marguerite is not the quite headstrong vampire she would have us to believe.

I loved the ending and though all of Marguerites children have found their lifemates it still leaves a little there for other characters to find theirs so hopefully that will mean more books, I was very sad to come to the end as I have loved each and every book from this series.

Just one tip if you don't want to know how the story pans out DO NOT read the 'helpful' family tree at the beginning of the book!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Witch In The House by Jenna McKnight



SYNOPSIS
Jade Delarue is determined to find the man of her dreams, so the sexy witch casts a spell that brings a gorgeous man to her door. But private detective Mason Kincaid isn't looking for love. Jilted by his last girlfriend, Mason's thrown himself into his work. He's visiting Jade on official business, and not even the blizzard raging outside her house—or her spellbinding beauty—can distract him.

Then Jade realizes the mistake she's made in her spell, and she wants him gone. But there are charms to spare in Mystic Manor, showing Mason that the witch in the house might be the woman he's been waiting for. Convincing her, though, means coming up with a little magic of his own.


My View
I found this book from my recommendations on Amazon and whilst this is not the greatest book you will ever read it was certainly fun.

The descriptions of the witchy things were quite good I loved the descriptions of Imbolc and spells etc. Jade does 3 spells which end up being sort of linked - firstly the spell she does for a woman called Brenda ends up with Brenda jilting her husband-to-be at the altar, so then she does a spell for the jilted man to find love and then one for herself because after six years since her husband died she is getting kind of lonely! Then an ill wind makes the candles all melt together.

This was a very humourous cutesy kind of romance think a witchy chick-lit!

Very cute and nice to read!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Vampires Are Forever by Lynsay Sands


SYNOPSIS
Ines Urso is not pleased. After dragging herself out of bed and running to the airport at 5 am, Thomas Argeneau has the nerve to ignore her! Here she's gone through all this trouble, and disrupted her carefully planned life, and he acts like she's not even there. Once she tracks him down, she's going to give him a piece of her mind - if she can ignore his charming good looks long enough. When Thomas opens his hotel room door to an irate woman, he knows he's in big trouble. But it's not his fault no one told him he was going to have a partner! He's determined to make it up her though, because he's starting to believe she's going to have a permanent place in his life. On a wild search to track down his aunt and with his entire family descending upon them, Thomas and Ines are finding out that when it comes to happily ever after, no one does it quite like the Argeneaus.

My View
The main objective of this book was finding a missing vampire not just any vampire though, Marguerite Argeneau!

Thomas Argenau is the centre of attraction on this instalment and when he meets the Portuguese Inez he realises almost straight away that she is his lifemate, she is also an employee of Bastiens, Thomas's cousin. Because Thomas is trying to find Marguerite this makes his attentions not wholly on Inez and they travel to Amsterdam and then to York, UK to try to find Marguerite but, someone is on their trail and keeps trying to wipe Inez's memory ...

Another good instalment but, sadly not a great one, the plot seemed to waver off a little and seemed a little incomplete as if nothing got resolved. Thomas and Inez were great characters but, just wish they had been given a meatier styoryline.

Still essential reading if your planning on completing the Argeneau series.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

The Accidental Vampire by Lynsay Sands

SYNOPSIS
FATE GAVE HER FANGS . . .

Ever since an accident turned her into a knockout vamp, Elvi Black’s been catching her z’s in a coffin, staying out of the sun, and giving up garlic. She knows there’s more to being undead than what she saw in Dracula, but she can’t very well ask her mortal friends about proper biting etiquette. But when her neighbors placed a personal ad for her in the local paper, she never imagined she’d meet Victor Argeneau, a vampire who could have his pick of any woman—dead or alive.

HE’LL SHOW HER HOW TO USE THEM . . .

Rich, powerful, and drop-dead gorgeous, Victor’s the perfect man for a novice neck-biter like Elvi. He’s willing to teach her everything he knows, but he’ll have to do it fast. Someone’s out to put a stake through her new vamp life, and only Victor can keep her safe – and satisfied – for all eternity.

My View
This series just gets better and better, this one focusses on Victor, one of the eldest of the Argeneau's. Victor heads off to Port Henry in response to a lonely hearts ad, the ad at first Victor is not going as a prospective suitor but, things soon change . Elvi, meanwhile is very confused as to what it means to be a vampire and believes all the typecast vampire myths and sleeps in a coffin and hasn't eaten since she was turned. But, someone is out to attack Elvi.

This was very funny, and brilliantly written by Ms Sands, I keep thinking I am going to start to get bored with this series soon and I never do, I have a few Vampy books at home to read after these and they are going to have a hard time living up to these fun vampires!

Friday, 11 July 2008

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

The first book in the Darkest Powers trilogy - a brand new series by bestselling author Kelley Armstrong. All Chloe Saunders wants is a life like any normal teenager - the chance to get through school, make friends, and maybe meet a boy.

But when she starts seeing ghosts, she knows that life will never be normal again. Soon ghosts are everywhere, demanding her attention. When Chloe finally breaks down, she's admitted to a group home for disturbed kids. At first Lyle House seems okay, but as she gets to know the other patients - charming Simon and his ominous, unsmiling brother Derek; obnoxious Tori; and Rae, who has a 'thing' for fire - Chloe begins to realise that something strange and sinister binds them all together, and it isn't your usual 'problem kid' behaviour.

And they're about to discover that Lyle House is not your usual group home, either ...

This is a Young Adult book but,a very grown up one, some YA's can seem a little childish at times but, not this. Chloe is very interesting yes a little disturbed and at times disturbing but, a brilliant character.

Even as a young toddler Chloe could see ghosts and in the house she lived in were ghosts in the basement which just scared her, when she was 8 Chloe's Mum died.

Chloe lives in Buffalo, although she lives with her dad he is away a lot so is mostly brought up by housekeepers - Chloe sees ghosts. The ghost she sees is quite terrifying and this is what ends up with Chloe being sent to the group home, Lyle House. Mostly the House's residents are mid-teens with as amany if not more, problems than Chloe has.

I love Kelley's books and this is another great addition, whilst not as agood as the Women of the Otherworld series this is brilliant and going by the ending I am presuming this is just the beginning of a great new series, look forward to book 2!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Carnal Innocence by Nora Roberts

Synopsis
Roberts ( Genuine Lies ) plunks a pair of likable lovers into an equally likable rural Southern community; she then keeps the story from turning sweeter than blackstrap molasses by setting loose a serial killer. World-class violinist Caroline Waverly, recovering from a breakdown and an affair gone bad, arrives at her grandparents' house in Innocence, Miss., looking for peace and quiet; what she discovers is the naked, mutilated corpse of Edda Lou Hatinger. Only days earlier, Edda Lou had thrilled local gossips by publicly blowing up at Tucker Longstreet: he wanted out of their affair; she wanted marriage.

Edda Lou is the third woman stabbed to death recently, so local police call in Matthew Burns, a federal investigator who specializes in tracking serial killers. In the meantime, Tucker decides to be right neighborly to Caroline, and after her initial resistance crumbles, she responds to his Southern charm. Tucker is on Matthew's list of suspects, and soon a fourth dead woman is found on the Longstreet family property. Caroline, too, faces the knife as she is drawn into a confrontation in which she learns who is behind the deaths.

My view
Wow, wow! This book was brilliant a brilliant whodunnit with some romance to boot! I have to say the cover is not so exciting but, don't let that put you off (I have a fascination with covers!).

The female lead character is interesting whilst not weak I didn't find her particuarly strong, Caroline is a famous violinist and has come to Innocence to stay at her Grandmothers house to take a break from her hectic life and upon arriving she first comes across Tucker Longstreet.

The main plot of course is the murders and Tucker Longstreet becomes a suspect once you get to the end it is a huge surprise who the murderer is, I thought I guessed but, was so wrong!

Another excellent novel from Nora and I see this is shortlisted to be made into a TV movie next year, hope this one makes it as I would love to see how it is portrayed on screen.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

A Charmed Death by Madelyn Alt

Maggie O'Neill was just your average small-town girl, stuck in a dead-end job until she started working at Enchantments, Stony Mill's finest antique shop with a unique mystical secret. Now Maggie is Indiana's newest witch. Learning to cope with her newfound powers is tough enough, but add to that keeping the stock at Enchantments organized, keeping the peace with her somewhat controlling mom, and remembering to tape reruns of her favorite show, Magnum, P.I., and Maggie's got a full plate.

But when a second questionable death occurs a scant two months into her store tenure, she can't turn her thoughts away from all the town gossip about the teenage princess and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the girl's charmed life and death. While the police get caught up in procedure and logic, Maggie uses every trick, charm, and intuition she can summon, with the assistance of her favorite witchy boss Felicity Dow, to get to the heart of this spellbinding murder.

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

In this case? Get witchy!

This book starts 2 months after the ending of Trouble With Magic. And while Maggie's boss Liss recovers from her sisters murder Maggie is left to hold the fort at Enchantments.

Three girls from the local high school go into Enchantments and one of the girls, Amanda buys an antique clock, she subsequently ends up murdered!

Not as fast paced as the first book and I find Liss more exciting to read about than Maggie but, overall an enjoyable read.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Book Blowout - Mini Challenge

Mrs S posted a mini challenge for all the participants of the July challenge:



http://www.clareswindlehurst.com/bookreviews/2008/07/01/book-blowout-mini-challenge-1-introductions/


So here are my replies!


1. Describe yourself in one sentence - I am a married thirty something female, no children working in the crazy world of Canary Wharf!!

2. What book will you start the challenge with? I started with Dead Girls Are Easy by Terri Garey.

3. Where is your favourite place to read? Anywhere! Mostly i read on the train, on the sofa and in bed.

4. What is your favourite book of all time? Oh too many but, two that stand out are Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier and Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey.

5. Remind us all of your challenge target - its 10 (currently on my third so fingers crossed!)

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The Trouble With Magic by Madelyn Alt

Bringing a little culture to Stony Mill, Indiana, Enchantments is one of the area’s finest antique stores. But shop clerk Maggie O’Neill and her employer Felicity Dow do more than conjure up curios for the locals—they each possess a talent for spellbinding sleuthing . . .

Bored with her office job, Maggie jumps at the opportunity to work at Enchantments. She was a little weirded out when Felicity described herself as a witch, but if her boss wants to play with broomsticks and cauldrons, where’s the harm? However, Maggie’s first day on the job may turn out to be her last when Police question Felicity in the murder of her estranged sister.

With everyone in town proclaiming Felicity’s guilt faster than the Salem Witch trials, Maggie finds herself wondering if she’ll also be tied to the stake. And lately, she’s been receiving messages on a spiritual frequency guiding her to prove Felicity’s innocence—and to embrace her own "charmed" life.

Another great paranormal chick lit (just can't get enough of these!!), this one was brilliant keeping you in suspense until the end as to who killed Felicity's sister. An interesting cast of characters and if I was to mark this I would give it 3 out of 5, there are some magical elements but, not a huge amount it was really for me more of a suspence than paranormal however, we see more of that in the second so definitely a series I will be sticking with just love the descriptions of all the pagan things.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Dead Girls Are Easy by Terri Garey

There's something about almost dying that makes a girl rethink her priorities. Take Nicki Styx—she was strictly goth and vintage, until a brush with the afterlife leaves her with the ability to see dead people.

Before you can say boo, Atlanta's ghosts are knocking at Nicki's door. Now her days consist of reluctantly cleaning up messes left by the dearly departed, leading ghouls to the Light . . . and one-on-one anatomy lessons with Dr. Joe Bascombe, the dreamy surgeon who saved her life. All this catering to the deceased is a real drag, especially for a girl who'd rather be playing hanky-panky with her hunky new boyfriend . . . who's beginning to think she's totally nuts.

But things get even more complicated when a friend foolishly sells her soul to the devil, and Nicki's new gift lands her in some deep voodoo.

As it turns out for Nicki Styx, death was just the beginning.


Continuing with my current addiction for Paranormal chick lit, this one is a stand alone (I think!). This is the first of Terri Garey's books I have read and oh boy what a feast, never a dull moment as there are a lots of sub plots going on here too.

I did find lots of similarities with Victoria Laurie's Ghosthunter series (previous review) but, thats fine I loved that too!

This is not an intense fun its a lot of light hearted fun and nothing too taxing on the brain but, something I am loving at the moment, I hope there is more but, to be honest I am not sure as this was on my recommendations list on Amazon so off to find out more about Ms Garey!

Friday, 27 June 2008

What's A Ghoul To Do by Victoria Laurie

M.J., her partner Gilley, and their client, the wealthy, de-lish Dr. Steven Sable, are at his family's lodge, where his grandfather allegedly jumped to his death from the roof-although Sable says it was foul play. But the patriarch's isn't the only ghost around. The place is lousy with souls, all with something to get off their ghoulish chests. Now M.J. will have to to quell the clamor-and listen for a voice with the answers...

This was more of a kind iof Paranormal chick lit and I loved it!

MJ is a ghost hunter and I loved reading about that side of things as the author is also a medium so that was quite interesting. She works alongside her partner Gilley and they help souls cross over etc. Think Most Haunted (though not as crap LOL) with better characters!!

Dr Sable's english is not so good and some of the things he comes out with were really quite funny! Of course there is a romantic twist (MJ & Dr Sable) which was pretty much predictable (well it wasn't going to happen between MJ & Gilley) and the ending was quite cutesy!

This was a fun, light read nothing too intense here and MJ was a great character - this is the first book I read of Victoria Laurie and she has written another Psychic series as well as the follow up to this which I definitely will be reading.

So if you love anything ghostly and paranormal thats not too intense you'll love it!

July Book Blowout


I have signed up for my first book challenge - woo hoo me!!

I don't normally commit myself to challenges as I always panic I won't co mplete them and TBH sometimes if I have read too much of a certain type of book I find I can get bored with it, but, this one sounds fairly straightforward.

"The rules are simple - read as many books as you can between July 1 and 31 - and then by August 7 post a list of all of the books you read on your blog. Reviews are not required to take part".

I average between 7-9 books per month so decided to do 10 for this challenge and see how I get along. Wish me luck!

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Bite Me If You Can by Lynsay Sands

Once Bitten . . .

One minute Leigh is walking home in the early hours of the morning, and the next a vampire is sinking his teeth into her neck. Turns out it was a rogue vampire marked for termination, but it does Leigh little good because the damage's already been done. She's become one of them.

Lucian Argeneau, hunter of rogue vampires, has been alive for over two thousand years, and there's very little to excite him anymore. Food has become tasteless, sex is ordinary. Then Leigh drops into his life. Suddenly he finds himself craving coffee . . . and imagining the sassy brunette atop the black satin sheets on his nice big bed. It's Lucian's job now to enlighten Leigh on the inner workings of being immortal . . . and tutoring her is igniting a fire in him that hasn't burned in centuries.

But until they stop a renegade bloodsucker from destroying the human race, passion will have to wait!

Oh as if this series was not brilliant enough this one has to be my favourite out of the series so far!

Again like the last one this is a little darker than other books in the series.

Lucian can be a bit of an old grouch but, Leigh seems to make him less like that or she doesn't see it, and Lucian has not even kissed a woman for something like 1700 years!! Nothing excites him anymore until Leigh starts popping up into his sexy dreams! But, then he is one of the oldest members of the Argeneau family having been around for 3500 years.

Silly as this may sound I don't normally read books with covers like these but, preferred the previous cartoon covers but, the old adage definitely applies here "never judge a book by its cover".

This series just gets better and better and with only 3 left to read (although another is due) I will be very sad when I get to the last one.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

A Bite To Remember by Lynsay Sands

Rule #1: Never get involved with someone who won't be there for you when the sun comes up.

Once bitten, twice shy, and sexy PI Jackie Morrisey wasn't going there again. Vincent Argeneau may be the hottest guy she's ever met, living or dead, but she's here to stop a killer from turning this vampire into dust, not to jump into bed with him.

Rule #2: Never kiss a vampire . . . it can be a pain in the neck.

Okay, so Vincent's had four hundred years to perfect his kissing skills, and he does look rather tempting when he runs around the house shirtless. He's also charming, protective . . . did we mention he can kiss? Jackie needs to be on her guard, or else she'll have to come up with a new rule: If you're going to fall in love with a vampire, make sure it's a bite to remember.

I have to say of all the Vampire series out there (and there are quite a few) this has to be my favourite, I love love love the Argenau's. They are great and so funny and after the last one I was just a teensy bit scared that the books were goinmg the same way as the others hence why its a while since I read the last one.

But, no this one is a little different to the others in that it is a little darker - though I would say the female interest here - Jackie - I did not like as much as I did Rachel and Kate but, Jackie is ok just didn't find her terribly exciting!

Vincent on the other hand made the book IMO!

I don't want to give too much of the story away but, if you love fun light reads with Vampires this series is it - love it!