Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Moondance at Stonewylde by Kit Berry

"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

"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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.