Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Thornyhold by Mary Stewart

When Gilly's witch aunt leaves Thornyhold to her, a house in the middle of the woods, Gilly finds that she has inherited far more than she realized. Along with the house comes a cat, a still room filled with herbs (and a missing recipe book), an attic chamber with carrier pigeons (who have secret messages), and an attractive neighbor whose young son offers the sacred and unique blessing of friendship. But Thornyhold possesses far more than even these simple offerings. The place itself seems to convoke otherworldly gifts as well: Gilly cultivates the abilities to heal and to foresee the future once she makes Thornyhold her home.

The story begins with Geilis as a young girl living with strict religious parents with not even a friend but, her aunt is her fairy godmother of sorts who keeps an eye out for her and of course, when she dies leaving her Thornyhold.

This was a lovely step back to England 60 years ago, the only books I have read by Mary Stewart was the Arthurian series (which I must read again!) so compared to that this was nowhere near as good bu, as very different stories its not even worth a comparison.

This was very easy to read of a love story with a witchy twist, a sweet read but, probably wouldn't read it again.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

The Faery Reel by Various


This lively anthology brings together 17 original stories and three poems with the common theme of fairies and other nature spirits. Windling leads off with a fine introductory essay on the origins, varieties, and attitudes toward fairies in different cultures and, in particular, their treatment in English literature and art. Among the authors represented are Neil Gaiman, Patricia McKillip, and Gregory Maguire, though less-well-known writers contribute some of the most imaginative and edgy pieces. Most of the stories bring magical elements into modern settings, including New York City, an English village, a Brazilian city, a Japanese mountainside, a French farm, and L.A. Datlow and Windling, who edit the annual adult anthology The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, call this a companion volume to The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest (2002), which was published for teen readers. A rewarding choice for those who like the traditional with a twist.

My View

I loved this collection of "faerie" stories each one was so different and as with the Green Man we see those authors we may be familiar with but, also ones I certainly have never heard of. I wouldn't say I enjoyed this any more than I did the Green Man as they are both quite different but, I think if you have read and liked one of them you will definitely like the others, would be nice to see a Volume 2 of these type of books they are great to read all at once ort to dip into every now and then for a short story. Althopugh aimed at young adults I loved this and I am very far from a young adult!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Green Man - Tales from the Mythic Forest - by Various

One of our most universal myths is that of the Green Man—the spirit who stands for Nature in its most wild and untamed form. Through the ages and around the world, the Green Man and other nature spirits have appeared in stories, songs, and artwork, as well as many beloved fantasy novels, including Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Now Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, the acclaimed editors of over thirty anthologies, have gathered some of today’s finest writers of magical fiction to interpret the spirits of nature in short stories and poetry. Folklorist and artist Charles Vess brings his stellar eye and brush to the decorations, and Windling provides an introduction exploring Green Man symbolism and forest myth. The Green Man is required reading—not only for fans of fantasy fiction but for those interested in mythology and the mysteries of the wilderness.

This is a really lovely collection of short stories and poems based around the lore of the Green man. I'm not usually a fan of anthologies etc but, had this languishing on my bookshelf for a few months so thought I would pick it up. Although saying that I have discovered some really good authors from short stories collections which I may not have discovered otherwise.

There are some brilliant well known fantasy writers here such as Charles de Lint, Gregory Maguire and Tanith Lee and also some authors I had not heard of but, will definitely be looking them up to read more.

I won't bore you with descriptions of each and every short story but, suffice to say if you have any degree of fascination with the Green Man, trees etc this is one I am sure you will love - of course some of these stories are better than others but, this is a great book to pick up and dip into.

Monday, 14 April 2008

The Blue Girl by Charles De Lint


Imogene Yeck, former gang member and current fairy butt-kicker, is the cool "blue girl" at the center of Charles de Lint's urban fantasy novel.

Seventeen-year-old Imogene jumps at the chance to lose her bad girl reputation when her family moves to a new town. She purposely lays low at Redding High, only making friends with Maxine, a shy, studious girl who is Imogene's opposite in every way. Despite a few run-ins with the ruling football jock and his cheerleader girlfriend, Imogene keeps her temper in check and even lends some of her bravado to Maxine, who begins to come out of her straight-A shell.

Things are going well for the new friends--until the day Imogene meets Adrian, the benign ghost of a boy who died in the school's parking lot. Adrian and Imogene's unusual connection attracts the unwelcome attention of Redding High's resident Little People, or fairies. Affronted by streetwise Imogene's lack of belief in them, the fairies set into motion a malevolent prank that will not only turn Imogene completely blue from head to toe, but pit her, Adrian and Maxine against some of the most frightening beings of the Otherworld--the soul-sucking Anamithims.

My View

This book is part of CDL's well known Newford and is a stand alone, you don't necessarily have to read the others to read this, although there is a character from others of the Newford Tales. And whilst I guess this is primarily a young adult novel and based on young adults I think most adults into this type of genre will love this, if you like Holly Blacks's faerie series I am sure you will love that not that I am drawing on any similarities.

If you have not read any of CDL's book this is probably a good starting book but, be warned you will become hooked, Charles De Lint is one of my favourite fantasy writers, and if you are a fan of Brian Fround be sure to read The Wild Wood.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

This is the seventh book in the Southern Vampire Series (Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Bk. 1), Living Dead in Dallas (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Bk. 2), Club Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Bk. 3), Dead to the World (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Bk. 4), Dead as a Doornail (Southern Vampire Mysteries), Definitely Dead (Southern Vampire Mysteries)).

The most recent books of Sookie's adventures I have picked up I have thought its going to start to get stale and samey but, each time I am proved wrong I am happy to say!

This book is more about Vampire Politics but, still as addictive as the other books. The Queen of Louisiana has hired Sookie to assist at a summit and Eric, Pam, Bill & Quinn amongst others get to go too. Of course they would it wouldn't be the same without them. And of course, there is Sookie's relationship with Quinn ....

Its difficult to write a review of this without giving lots of things away so suffice to say we still see all our favourite characters as well as some new ones (including ones from one of Charlaine's anthologies).

Hurricane Katrina was mentioned a little here too and how it has changed the vampire world. And this biook is also quite different from the earlier books but, I think if the books had stayed along those lines it would have started to get a little boring whereas this book is anything but ...

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy


At the decadent French court of King Francois, the young Anne Boleyn grows into an enigmatic and striking woman, a temptation to many courtiers. But whilst Anne's ambitions are high, she has learned from her sister's unfortunate reputation. Unlike Mary, Anne refuses to become even a King's mistress. So when Anne returns to the English court of Henry VIII, it is the King who is led a dance by this mysterious young beauty. Before long Henry is lured away from his stale marriage to Katharine of Aragon. But the new Queen Anne is not loved by the people, and it is only a matter of time before Henry's patience runs out...

My View

This period with Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard is in my opinion one of the most fascinating in history and they are definitely two of my favourite of Henry's Queens.

I was rather expecting this to be a little different as in Anne's story seperate to katherine's but, we see Katherine appear from quite a young age and I really liked that, I've only in the past read books about Katherine shortly before she became Queen.

This is a riveting read but, there are some inaccuracies with saying that Anne slept with Henry before they married and Ms Plaidy's descriptions of Jane Seymour were a little bit much (IMO).

I am leaving the Tudors behind for a while as much I love this era I have saturated this part of Tudor history but, of courtse shall return!

Friday, 4 April 2008

The King's Secret Matter by Jean Plaidy


The personalities and intrigues of the English royal court are brought to vivid life in this tale of Katharine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII. The twelve-year marriage of Henry and Katharine has declined from an idyllic union into an uneasy stalemate.

The king's love for his aging queen has grown cold, and he is angry with her failure to give him the heir to the throne he desperately wants. When the seductive Anne Boleyn arrives at court, the king is captivated by her dark beauty and bold spirit, and becomes obsessed with his desire to possess her. With his chief advisor, Cardinal Wolsey, the king devises a secret plot to declare the marriage with Katharine null and void. But Katharine refuses to surrender to his wishes and fights desperately to retain her title and safeguard her daughter, Mary.

My View

The fourth in the Tudor series and I really start to feel for Katherine in this one, I loved the scenes of Mary with her mother, Katherine and how she doesn't want to be parted but, after a while she does seem to come across very clingy and also a tad annoying (I haven't read an awful lot about Mary Tudor so will have to soon!).

There seemed to be a lot going on in this instalment and I did find certain scenes rather drawn out in places, this being the final instalment in the Katherine trilogy I have to say I was not overly impressed I still did not get any involvement or feel I could get to know the characters (although of course we know much about the characters from history).

I have heard some say that Jean Plaidy's Tudor books can be a little dry and I would have a tendency to agree with that.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

The Shadow of the Pomegranate by Jean Plaidy

Whilst the young King Henry VIII basks in the pageants and games of his glittering court, his doting queen's health and fortunes fade. Henry's affections for his older wife soon stray, leaving the lonely Katharine to instead use her marital sway to dangerous foreign advantage. Overseas battles play on Henry's volatile temper, and whilst many his power, rumours of his fruitful affairs are notorious. With no legitimate heir yet born, Katharine once again begins to fear for her future...

England loved the young lovers, but hardly were they wed when powerful people in Henry's court were spinning webs of intrigue around the innocent royal pair.

Spanish spies, the Pope's men, the Queen's seductive ladies-in-waiting, and especially the King's brilliant advisor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey--all were obsessed with one question: Would Queen Katharine be able to give Henry the healthy son he so desperately needed? Everything depended on the answer, especially the destiny of Queen Katharine herself.

Jean Plaidy has never written more brilliantly of history's great women and men than in the bittersweet true story of young King Henry and his dear Kate, who wanted only to please her beloved husband but seemed fated to be thwarted at every turn. . . .

The second part of Katherine of Aragon's trilogy - I felt Katherine's personality coming through more in this book and of course this is the famous part of the story where Henry starts to cast Katherine aside after only having provided him with one healthy daughter.

But, of course there is more to the story than that - for me Katherine of Aragon is not one of the queen's I have very much fascination with, possibly because I liked Anne Boleyn and maybe saw Katherine as being in the way but, the more I read about Katherine the more I feel for her how scary it must have been coming from Spain to marry a man (boy!) she had never even met.

I did not enjoy this as the previous one, I do find with Jean Plaidy's books that you don't seem to get to know the characters as well as perhaps you could do and for me this book seemed to have a lot of flitting from one scene to the other but, that said still essential to read if your reading the Katherine trilogy.