Sunday, 27 December 2009

The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes

At 66, Star Street in Dublin, someone is watching over the lives of the people living in its flats. But no one is aware of it – yet... One of them is ready to take the plunge and fall in love; another is torn between two very different lovers. For some, secrets they want to stay buried will come to light and for others, the unveiling of those secrets will have tragic consequences. Fate is on its way to Star Street, bringing with it love and tragedy, friendship and heartbreak, and the power to change their lives in the most unexpected of ways.

This book was so different to anything Marian has written before and has quite a feel of Cecelia Aherne about it. There are lots of people written about and it would ordinarily be a tad confusing but, this was well written as is the norm with Marian.

Now this is no Watermelon (nothing will ever compare to that!) and it was almost like I wasn't even reading a Marian book, there aren't as many funnies slipped in as in her other books the characters at first glance seem very normal but, the more you read the more you realise actually they are not that normal at all and rather complex I think Maeve and Matt are the two people this applies to the most and I loved reading about them the most.

It was fun, entertaining but, I hope Marian writes a book on the Walshes next I miss them :-)

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Queen's Mistake by Diane Haeger

When young and beautiful Catherine Howard becomes the fifth wife of fifty year old king Henry VIII, she seems to be on top of the world. Yet her reign is destined to be brief and heartbreaking, as she is forced to do battle with enemies far more powerful and calculating than she could have ever anticipated in a court where one wrong move could mean her destruction. Wanting only love, Catherine is compelled to deny her heart's desire in favor of her family's ambition. But in so doing, she unwittingly gives those who seek to bring her down a most effective weapon, her own romantic past.

The Queen's Mistake is the tragic tale of one passionate and idealistic woman who struggles to negotiate the intrigues of the court and the yearnings of her own heart.

Of Henry VIII's six queens Catherine Howards story is my second favourite to Anne Boleyns story so I jumped on this as soon as I found it and seeing as it was Diane Haeger as I loved her story of Nell Gwynne and Diane De Poitiers and this was fairly OK, not the best story of Catherine Howards but, far from bad!

The story is told from the third person so seeing this story from other peoples perspectives was interesting. Comparisons cannot but, held to be made with Philippa Gregorys The Boleyn Inheritance (which is my favourote of Philippa's Tudor novels) and I would say this does fall far far short as a comparison but, Philippa's was written from three peoples perspective, I always find third p[erson narratives less engrossing but, that is just a personal preference.

This wouldn't be the first book I'd recommend if looking for a novel on catherine Howard, Jean Plaidy's Murder Most Royal is probably one of the best but, worth considering if you've read all the others on Catherine.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Aherne

The magical new novel from number one bestseller Cecelia Ahern. Tamara Goodwin has always got everything she's ever wanted. Born into a family of wealth, she grew up in a mansion with its own private beach, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and all that a girl could ever wish for. She's always lived in the here and now, never giving a second thought to tomorrow. But then suddenly her dad is gone and life for Tamara and her mother changes forever. Left with a mountain of debt, they have no choice but to sell everything they own and move to the country. Nestled next to Kilsaney Castle, their gatehouse is a world away from Tamara's childhood. With her mother shut away with grief, and her aunt busy tending to her, Tamara is lonely and bored and longs to return to Dublin. When a travelling library passes through Kilsaney Demesne, Tamara is intrigued. Her eyes rest on a mysterious large leather bound tome locked with a gold clasp and padlock. What she discovers within the pages takes her breath away and shakes her world to its' core.

I have found the last 3 or so books of Cecelia's to be just so I absolutely loved her first two books PS I Love You and Where Rainbows End but, found the books to come after to be seriously lacking. However, I find this to be a return to form although not as good as the two aforementioned books, not sure those will ever be matched.

The main character Tamara is really quite spoiled and lives a life most of us could only ever probably dream of that is until her father is found lying dead after committing suicide due to debt which is left she has gone from having everything anow has absolutely nothing.

When they go to the country to live with family after haviong lost their home Tamara is so bored until the day the travelling library drives through and when she discovers a large leather book which is locked she has to, of course break into it and what she finds changes her.

A brilliantly written book that draws you in, yes I guess this is chick-lit but, I don't think Cecelia is a chick-lit author per se and this sometimes is a tiny bit reminiscent of A Place Called Here only better!

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Kings Fool by Margaret Campbell Barnes

A Remarkably Intimate Tale of the Intrigue, Ruthlessness, and Majesty of Henry VIII's Court

When country lad Will Somers lands himself the plum position of jester to the mercurial King Henry VIII, he has no idea that he's just been handed a front-row seat to history.

With a seat near the throne and an ear to the floor, Somers witnesses firsthand the dizzying power struggles and sly scheming that marked the reign of the fiery Tudor king. Somers watches the rise and fall of some of the most enigmatic women in history, including the tragic Katherine of Aragon, the doomed Anne Boleyn, and Mary Tudor, who confided in the jester as she made the best of the fragile life of a princess whom everyone wished was a prince.

Based on the life of the real Will Somers, King's Fool is infused with Margaret Campbell Barnes' trademark rich detail and historical accuracy. This intimate peek into the royal chambers gives readers a unique view on one of the most tumultuous periods in English history.

First published in 1959 by world-renowned historical novelist Margaret Campbell Barnes, King's Fool is a remarkable insider tale of the intrigue, ruthlessness, and majesty of the Tudor court. When country lad Will Somers lands himself the plum position of jester to the mercurial King Henry VIII, he has no idea that he';s just been handed a front-row seat to history.

This book was fantastic! The closest I have come to reading about Will Somers was his little notes in the Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George so it was great to have a book dedicated to him. I have read a few of MCB's books and this is easily the best.

It was good to see a different side to Henry too, although I love reading of the period of Henry I'm not HIS greatest fan but, he came cross quite different here my only criticism is I wished the book was longer. I have sen some comments state that the narrative is a little old fashioned well firsty seeing as the book is set in the 16th century may contribute to that and although only recently-ish released this book was originally written in 1959.

If your someone who is not a big fan of Henry VIII definitely read this it may even make you change your mind, if you love Margaret Georges Autibiography of Henry VIII I think you will like this too, brilliant!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I by Jeane Westin

The daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I was profoundly aware of the dangers of mixing power and sex. Torn between opposing needs—to fulfill her destiny as a strong monarch and to follow her own sensual yearnings—she was fated never to experience true love…and became determined to thwart the romantic desires of all around her. Now, Elizabeth’s story is told as never before—through the eyes of two ladies-in-waiting who were closest to her…

The story is about 2 women who served Elizabeth I, the story covers Lady Katherine Grey's passion for Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford in 1562, and Mistress Mary Roger's affection for Elizabeth's godson, Sir John Harington, in 1599.It is 1562 and Elizabeth is approaching 30.

Katherine Grey is the sister of the ill fated Lady Jane Grey, Edward is an old flame and taking him back without the permission of her Queen could be fatal for Katherine. Mary Rogers grandfarther cared for Katherine in her older years.

Overall a good read I much preferred reading about Katherine than I did Mary, the characters are quite different inhow they came to serve Elizabeth, I love reading anything set in Elizabeths reign and have yet to find something I have not enjoyed, another brilliant Tudor story.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Tavern in the Morning by Alys Clare

At the end of a dark and dreary market day, Goody Anne's inn at Tonbridge is finally settling down for the night. But while Anne's serving maid and boy finish up their chores, a man lies dying in the guest chamber-poisoned by a piece of pie made by Goody Anne herself. Josse d'Acquin, a knight with a knack for solving mysteries, is troubled by the news of the stranger's death. Josse has been a regular visitor to Goody Anne's, and he hates to think that Anne-or her fine cooking-has fallen suspect. He rides off to the scene of the crime and starts his own investigation.
When Josse discovers wolf's bane in the remnants of the pie, he knows that someone must have tampered with Anne's cooking. And when he learns that a charming, handsome nobleman ordered a piece of that very pie, Josse is convinced that the poison was meant for this upper-class guest, and not for the poor stranger who died alone in Anne's guest chamber.

After failing to persuade the Sheriff that the death was suspicious, Josse turns to his old friend, the formidable Abbess Helewise. Weakened from a severe bout of fever, the Abbess nonetheless provides a thread of common sense as Josse follows the trail of murder into the ancient, mysterious Wealden Forest, and finds something there that will change his life forever . . . .


This was a big improvement on the previous books and started out well, I find towards the middle to the end I was getting a little bored as it seems to follow the same path as the others. They aren't massively big books at only about 200 pages or so, so to have boring parts in such a short book is quite disappointing.

Theres not much to add to the synopsis except to say its all rather predictable, I'm only sorry I have most of the other books but, will read them one day and hopefully they will improve as they go along, not overly impressed thus far.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Ashes of the Elements by Alys Clare

A grove of huge oak trees in the Wealden forest is felled. And, as if some ancient curse is being unleashed, the man who wielded the axe meets with a violent end. Abbess Helewise teams up with Josse d'Acquin to discover what really lies inside the darkness of the ancient forest.

Much similar to Fortune Like The Moon but, this was better as we have got to know the characters more of the story can develop. This is not what I would call a edge of your seat thriller more like a sit back and enjoy!

Again we see the brilliant Sir Josse and Abbess Hellewise join together to investigate who the axe murderer is. A little more Paganism in this one as there are Forest People who still meet there when the moon is full to practise their dark magic! But, are they responsible for the murder.

This is more a cozy type of thriller if your into magical goings on with a little murder mixed in and something not too taxing on the brain then you will love it!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Fortune Like The Moon by Alys Clare

Shortly before his unexpected coronation, King Richard passed a law letting all of England's prisoners go free. Shortly afterwards a young nun is found, gruesomely murdered. Richard swiftly employs an old military colleague of his, Josse d'Acquin, to unravel this hideous mystery. Who could have wanted to kill this innocent young novice, and, more worryingly, why?

Josse goes to Hawkenlye Abbey to find out the answers to these questions. He is having little success until meets the Abbess Helewise, a woman who quickly proves herself to be his equal, both as an amateur sleuth, and as a figure the community can rely on during this turbulent time for England.

This duo have to find the murderer, and find him quickly, or they'll have the King of England to answer to...

This was a great read very easy to follow, one of the reasons I read this was I heard some of the stories were pagan inspired, there wasn't a lot of that going on here IMO but, it was still a great read. Also its great to read fiction books set near where you live, I live about 30 minutes from where these books are based.

But, the story is a good one a nice whodunnit, based around Richard the Lionheart and his decision to release prisoners, everyone thinks its one of the recently released prisoners committing the murders but, is it?

The characters are great Sir Josse and Abbess Hellewise are brilliant central characters apparently the historical accuracy is good but, I'm not too knowledgable on this period so not too sure on that.

Great for a little transportation back in time.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Dragonspell: The Southern Sea by Katherine Kerr

CAUGHT IN A WEB OF PASSION, DESTINY AND MAGIC For years the provinces of Deverry have been in turmoil, but the conflict escalates to new heights with the kidnapping of Rhodry, heir to the throne of Aberwyn. Intent on rescuing him, his beloved Jill and the elven wizard Salamander infiltrate the distant land of Bardek, where Rhodry is held captive.
Tied to Deverry by bonds of obligation, the immortal wizard Nevyn begins to see that all its problems originate from a single source - his ancient enemy, a master of dark magics, backed by a network of evil that stretches across the sea. With this realization, Nevyn understands that he too is being lured to Bardek, and into a subtle and deadly trap...

Katharine Kerr's novels of the Kingdom of Deverry unfold in a world of stunning richness and depth, portrayed with unequalled imagination and realism. Now, with Dragonspell, she returns to this enchanted kingdom for the most powerful story yet in this epic series.


The final in the first segment of the Deverry series. Overall the series is extremely well written and I loved the first three books I will say though I did not enjoy this as much as the first three but, as I read them back to back that could just be overload.

This one was slightly easier to follow than the previous books as the whole book is set in the present day, as with all the others it is a slow journey to the heart of the book but, I love books like that as you get such a descriptive image of how things are happening and the characters etc.

Like I said it was the least favourite of the four but, still a must read if you intend on reading the whole series (which I do).

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood by Katherine Kerr

Over a thousand years ago the People of Deverry were driven from their splendid kingdom by their enemy, the Hordes, and forced to find sanctuary in the remote forests in the east of their lands where they eventually settled. Succeeding generations remembered these terrible events as the Burning - and they never forgot the cities, towns and marvels of the far, far west.

Dawnspell, the third compelling volume in Katharine Kerr's epic Deverry series, continues the bold saga of Nevyn, Rhodry and Jill as they battle with the evil forces threatening the world of Deverry in the decades that follow the Burning. Rooted in Celtic mythology, this dazzling novel offers a vision of an extraordinary universe of magicians, kings, elves and prophets, of a world where love is triumphant - even over death.


The third in the wonderful Deverry series and the characters are really getting settled for want of a better word. Nevyn is the wizard who lives on as the same person through the various incarnations. The main characters are Rhodry, Nevyn, and Jill with Jill being the main character.

Kerr's writing does take some getting used to and as someone who can get very distracted by reading I had no problems being distracted from this also the fact that this is Celtic based held my interest as I am a massive fan of Celtic fantasy.

If you like Marion Zimmer Bradley I think you will like this series and also Kate Elliott who is a huge influence on Kerr so I hear but, having never read any of Elliotts work (a few of her novels are in my massive TBR pile!) I couldn't really say!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Darkspell by Katherine Kerr

On the long roads of Deverry ride two mercenaries whose fates like hidden deep in that of their own land. But Lord Rhodry, exiled from the dragon court of Aberwyn, has yet to discover his true parentage, and his swordmaster-lover, Jill, has barely glimpsed her awesome powers. Meanwhile, the ancient sorcerer Nevyn, held back by his vows from boldly intervening in their lives, can only watch and wait as Rhodry and Jill move ever closer to danger. For as the two struggle to recover the Great Stone, the mystic jewel that guides the conscience of the kingship of Deverry, malevolent dark masters are weaving terrifying spells against them--and displacing messengers of death. Katherine Kerr has extensively rewritten Darkspell, incorporating major changes in the text, making this her definitive edition. Here the epic saga that began with the Daggerspell continues--a tale of might and magic, lust and glory, dark danger and poignant desires that echo from Deverry's sapphire waters to its secret mountain caverns. It's a spellbinding story destined to please fantasy lovers everywhere.

The 2nd book in the wonderful Deverry series, much like the first book you are reading in different time periods about the same characters albeit re-incarnated. Its not as difficult to follow as you may think and as I have said before the information at the back of the book is very useful if you lose track of which character is who but, you soon get used to it.

Daggerspell was more I felt introducing us to the characters and getting the feel of Deverry whereas with Darkspell I felt the story moved up a notch, here there are two stories going on the time-spanning reincarnations and the present dweomer war. The worlds created are wonderful I love the wildfolk which is Katherines terms for those we know as Dwarves, Elves etc.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Star Man by Sara Douglass

From Library Journal
Assuming his role as the Starman of the Prophecy of the Destroyer, the warrior-wizard Axis makes his way to his final confrontation with his corrupt half-brother, Gorgrael. Meanwhile, Azhure, Axis's wife, discovers her own powers as an Enchantress and learns the twin strengths of love and friendship. Douglass (Enchanter, Battleaxe) brings to the fore her world-building abilities and storytelling expertise in this satisfying conclusion to a fantasy epic set in a world of winged sorcerers and ancient races. A few loose ends pave the way for future novels featuring a new generation of heroes and villains.


This has to be one of the few fantasy trilogies where every one of the three books was quite simply brilliant! Even my beloved Sevenwaters trilogy by Juliet Marrillier I found the others didn't match up to the first book.

Now that said I did find the ending was a bit of an anti-climax and makes you want morte more more. Still I guess thats how things are so you go on to the next 3 books in the second part of the series.

Its so difficult to write a review without spoiling things and I don't like to do that I have this weird habit of reading the last line of a book before reading it and so many books I have spoiled for myself by doing that! So I know how it feels if someone includes a spoiler in the book so I'll try not to all I will say is Faraday I really felt for and Axis who was one of my favourite characters became a not so favourite but, thats just the way I guess.

If you love Fantasy do read this its brilliant, I will definitely be reading the second trilogy.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Daggerspell by Katherine Kerr

In a world outside reality, a young girl's spirit hovers between incarnations, knowing neither her past nor her future. In the temporal world lives Nevyn, who long ago vanquished the maiden's hand in marriage and forged a terrible bond between three souls. Now he must atone the wrong of his youth.

This book has been sitting on my shelf for so long I thought it was time to get cracking, this is quite a long series and I own all of them bar one (which is on its way as I speak/type) if I didn't like it it woyuld be a damn shame however, I am happy to say this book was brilliant.

The plot is the reincarnation of souls which at first might seem a tad confusing but, there is a little guide at the book of who is who and once you get used to it and know who is who its quite easy to follow.

It has quite a Celtic feel to it and is set in medievel times, Jill is the intitial central character along with Nevyn and her Father all 3 are reincarnated souls and its good to see how each of the characters (not just these 3) interact with each other in different lifetimes.

A great fantasy series (I hope) I'm already on the 2nd book and its every bit as good.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

A break with charity

Susanna desperately wants to join the circle of girls who meet every week at the parsonage. What she doesn't realize is that the girls are about to set off a torrent of false accusations leading to the imprisonment and execution of countless innocent people. Susanna faces a painful choice. Should she keep quiet and let the witch-hunt panic continue, or should she "break charity" with the group--and risk having her own family members named as witches?

I have only ever read one other fiction book of the Salem Witch trials and for the life of me I can't remember what it was called or who wrote it but, anyway I felt this one was much better written and although this book is aimed at 9-12 year olds (an age group I departed from much too long ago!) I quite enjoyed it!

Its not intense, and its very easy to read. Most of us know the history of the Salem witch trials so I won't repeat that but, if you have any interest in the witch trials this is good to read even if you don't it gives you a feel of how it was back then, definitely a time I would not have liked to live through.

Susanna English (the central character) is not a perfect Puritan her family are wealthy and its something that makes others not welcome her and though Susanna wants to join the circle of girls she does make frinds with Tituba - the Reverands slave, Tituba is skilled in the black arts and has used thios skill to entertain the circle of girls.

When the girls start having fits and ministers determine this is because they are being possessed by witches Susanna realises its just a game but, what can she do when people start being hanged for crimes and will her family be accused?

Monday, 21 September 2009

Enchanter by Sara Douglass

The stunning sequel to The Wayfarer Redemption

Axis is a true hero, in every sense of the word. On his shoulders lies the double burden of prophecy and war. Having fulfilled the first part of the prophecy by becoming the StarMan, he now must reunite the three races inhabiting his world.

It is his destiny to lead an army against his evil half-brother, to regain control of Tencendor, once the greatest land in the world.

It is his destiny to be caught between the two women he loves, one the epitome of gentility, beauty, and intelligence, the other a fierce warrior with a cunning wit.

And it is his destiny to be thwarted at every turn by the vicious Goragel, an insane monster bent on destroying all that Axis works to preserve . . .

Enchanter is the riveting sequel to Sara Douglass's spell-binding first novel The Wayfarer Redemption, and winner of the 1996 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Sara Douglass has taken America by storm with this powerful tale of love, prophecy, battles, and revenge.

Enchanter begins immediately after the end of the previous book, the only downfall is there was no synopsis to briefly outline what happened in the previous book though as I began this immediately after finishing the last one it was no big deal.

The story is told from the viewpoint of an unseen narrator which ordinarily I am not too keen on but, this seems to work here and even though you seem to jump from one character to the next I never found that confusing or more improtantly irritating.

I loved this every bit, if not more than the first book, the cast of characters are brilliant each adding their own to the storyline, of course I had my favourites (Axis & Faraday) and whilst this was grteat I did find the final conflict between Axis and his half-brother Borneheld a little less than enthralling but, overall another great instalment in what is becoming one of my favourite fantasy series.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Battleaxe by Sara Douglas


Epic fantasy in the tradition of Trudi Canavan, Fiona McIntosh and Robert Jordan. A thousand years ago, the people of Achar drove the Forbidden from their lands. But now the northern tribes of the Ravensbund are fleeing south again, with nightmarish tales of creatures who feed upon the terror of their prey. Winter has come early, and with it the promise of war. Axis, bastard son of the dead Princess Rivkah, is sent north to the battlefront at Gorkenfort with his elite Axe-Wielders. Once there, he must hand over command to his hated half-brother, Borneheld, Duke of Ichar and heir to the throne. But during the long journey Axis falls in love with Faraday - Borneheld's betrothed - and finds himself reassessing the very essence of his beliefs. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Axis must unite the feuding lands under one banner before it is too late and the evil rising in the north engulfs them all for good.


All I can say is WOW! Its been quite a while since I have read some really good fantasy and I would even go as far to say as this was almost as good as Juliet Marilliers Daughter of the Forest although a bit different to that.

This has a great cast of characters Axis is the 'Battleaxe' and he is the leader of the axe-wielders who are a religious army, he was born to a mother who died shortly after birthing him and his half-brother Borneheld is a heir to a childless king, Borneheld also hates Axis and wants him destroyed, just to twist things Axis falls for Borneheld's betrothed, Faraday.

Looking at some reviews this is very mixed but, all I can say is its one of those books you need to read and make up your own mind, its not complex its a very easy to follow fantasy. The blurb on the back compares this to Janny Wurts, David Eddings &Raymond Feist I don't know how this compares tho those as I haven't read any of their works (yet!).

Personally I think for some reason Australians write the best fantasy unless they write most of it and I haven't come across any others yet.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Pride by Rachel Vincent

The werecat council has three cardinal laws and headstrong Faythe stands accused of breaking two of them: infecting a human with her supernatural skills and killing him to cover her tracks. With the death penalty hanging over her head, Faythe has no escape route left. Until a shapeshifter informs the pride of a rash of rogue strays terrorising his land. Yet this threat is nothing like any they ve seen before. Only Faythe has the knowledge to save the pride, but can she prove her worth? Or will the council s verdict condemn them all?


This is the third book in this series preceeded by Stray and Rogue, both of which were fantastic books. Faythe is on trial for turning her ex-boyfriend into a Werecat and then killing him. This book starts some two months after the end of the last one.

Faythe's price to pay is the death penalty so she is on trial and has to prove she can partial shift. The trials of Werecats assume the defendant is guilty unless proven otherwise. Not only does Faythe have to deal with the trial but, also there is some problem with some local strays.

As I said the first 2 books were brilliant and Faythe did seem a bit whingy in those but, she seems to have grown up a lot in this one, I guess being on trial for murder would make anyone grow up a bit! Never a dull moment lots of action what with the trial and having to deal with the strays attacking hikers in the area.

Loved this even more than the first two, the next book is Prey not sure if thats the last one in the series or if there will be more, but hope it will be the latter ....

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Princess & The Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison

He is a prince, heir to a kingdom threatened on all sides, possessor of the animal magic, which is forbidden by death in the land he'll rule.

She is a princess from a rival kingdom, the daughter her father never wanted, isolated from true human friendship but inseparable from her hound.

Though they think they have little in common, each possesses a secret that must be hidden at all costs. Proud, stubborn, bound to marry for the good of their kingdoms, this prince and princess will steal your heart, but will they fall in love?

The main character here is George, which was surprising from the cover and the title you would think the Princess was thae main character but, hey ho ...

George is aprince and an heir to the throne and has magical animal powers. Anyone found to have these powers will be put to death. He is to marry beatrice a Princess from another kingdom and this should unite the kingdoms however, when he visits Beatrice she always appears to be with her hound and when they switch bodies (beatrice & the hound) and only George can put them back to their right bodies.

It all starts off quite well and leads you into the story, the middle part I found was quite laborious and tedious.

It is supposedly a re-telling of Beauty & The Beast, for me it does fall short whilst its an OK storyline I found the ending the best bit which says it all really ...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

How far will a woman travel to find a father - a lover - a destiny? Across seas - across time - across the grave itself. It began in Scotland, at an ancient stone circle. Claire Randall was swept through time into the arms of James Fraser whose love for her became legend - a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Two decades later, Claire travelled back again to reunite with Jamie, this time in frontier America. But Claire had left someone behind in her own time - their daughter Brianna. Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the stone circle and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she risks her own future to try to change history - and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past - or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong...

This has been a brilliant series so far, I want to stretch this out as far as possible and after this there are only 2 more books. This book was for me the best of the series so far.

This book focusses slightly more on Brianna than Claire, as the other books have. Brianna and her boyfriend, Roger discover a news clipping saying that Brianna's parents Claire & Jamie have died a premature death in a house fire. Brianna decides to try and save her parents so she & Roger find themselves at the stone circle to travel back in time.

I did find Claire's character seemed more laidback at times it seemed she wasn't even the same character but, I guess she's getting older and maybe more relaxed.

As usual the decriptions of life way back when are so vivd and realistic its so easy to picture how life was back then, I enjoyed the parts with the character of Lord John and I know there are a couple of other books based upon him which I don't have so will check those out to see if they are worth a read.

This series just gets better.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Merry Monarchs Wife by Jean Plaidy

Charles II is restored to the English throne, and his court is lively and even scandalous. The country is eager for succession to be clear and certain: The next king will be the son of Charles II and his queen, Catherine of Braganza. Yet Catherine, daughter of the king of Portugal and a Catholic, has never been popular with the English people. She is also having great difficulty conceiving an heir, even as many of Charles’s well-known mistresses are bearing his children with ease. Catherine is aware that courtiers close to Charles are asking him to divorce her and take another wife—yet she is determined to hold her title in the face of all odds.

The ninth novel in the beloved Queens of England series, The Merry Monarch’s Wife brings Catherine of Braganza to life and plunges readers into the tumultuous world of Restoration England.

I really liked this, I didn't think I would like it so much but, it was good! I liked how it started with Catherine as a child and this is a Queen I know quite little about only from the fiction and non books I have read about Charles II & Nell Gwyn.

Although I adore Nell I really sympathised with Catherine and all that she went through I thought that her story was quite similar to Henry VIII's Katherine of Aragon albeit Katherine had a daughter but, there were similarities IMO. This is told in the first person and I do love books like that rather than told in the third.

Good overall, maybe not one of JP's best books but, definitely worth a read.

Friday, 31 July 2009

The King's Favorite by Susan Holloway Scott

The acclaimed author of Duchess and Royal Harlot returns with the unforgettable story of a king’s last love and London’s darling…
BR>Nell Gwyn has never been a lady, nor does she pretend to be. Blessed with impudent wit and saucy beauty, she swiftly rises from the poverty of Covent Garden to become a sensation in the theater. Still in her teens, she catches the eye of King Charles II, and trades the stage for Whitehall Palace—and the role of royal mistress.

Even though she delights the king, she must learn to negotiate the cutthroat royal court, where ambition and lust for power rule the hearts of all around her. For beneath her charm and light-heartedness, Nell has her own ambition—to become no less than the king’s favorite.

First of all I have to thank Marg from who told me about this book on Facebook. Nell Gwyn is one of my favourite historical women and the restoration period is one of my favourite along with the Tudor era, there aren't enough fiction books of the Restoration period IMO!

Anyway, this book was fantastic. I have only ome across one other fiction book on Nell by Diane Haeger and whilst I loved that this was miles better. This is written in the first person from Nell's POV, I loved how the author wrote all the sayings it gave me a real feel for Restoration London and reminded me much of Anna Neagles film portrayal of Nell.

This is the first book of Susan's I have read and I have bought another 2 of hers since finishing this.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Black Hills by Nora Roberts

Lil Chance fell in love with Cooper Sullivan pretty much the first time she saw him, an awkward teenager staying with his grandparents on their cattle ranch in South Dakota while his parents went through a messy divorce. Each year, with Coop’s annual summer visit, their friendship deepens - but then abruptly ends.

Anyone who reads my blog reguarly will know I am a massive fan of Nora Roberts but, her last 2 one off releases have not been so great and have left me a little disappointed.

I'm happy to say this is a huge improvement ,anyway ...

Based in the infamous Black Hills of South Dakota Lillan Chance and Cooper Sullivan have a lifelong friendship - Lillian has a deep fascination with big cats and is a biologist and is the founder of the Chance Wildlife Reserve, Cooper is a cop having worked in NYC he returns to South Dakota years later after having broken Lillian's heart .... he returns after a colleague of his was murdered.

But, when Coop returns home he finds out there is a murderer about and the murderer keeps getting closer to Lillian so Coopp just has to protect her. But, Lillian still feels hurt after how Coop left her, so will she let him protect her?

A brilliant romance Nora style with lots of suspense that just leaves you wondering whats going to happen next.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Kitty & The Dead Man's Hand by Carrie Vaughn

Kitty Norville, the country's only celebrity werewolf, thinks she's finally got her life sorted. Her radio show is as popular as ever, and she and her cute lawyer boyfriend are the alpha pair of Denver's werewolf pack. Now she and Ben plan to tie the knot human-style - by eloping to Vegas. And just to make things more fun, she's going to do her midnight radio show live and on television from Vegas.

In between getting wed and going live on TV, she's also planning on sipping fru-fru drinks by the pool while she works on her tan. So what can possibly go wrong? Well, their hotel is the venue for a werewolf-hating bounty hunter convention. Elsewhere on the Strip, an old-school magician might just be wielding the real thing. The vampire community is harbouring a dark secret . . . and the irresistibly sexy star of a deeply suspicious animal act is determined to seduce Kitty. Sin City has never been so wild, and Kitty has never had to fight harder - to save not only her wedding, but her very life.

This series is one of my fave Supernatural/Paranormal series - Kitty is just fab! Anyhow ....

This follows almost straight from KITTY AND THE SILVER BULLET, Ben has asked Kitty to marry him and though at first her mum wants a lavish affair Kitty & Ben decide to do the deed in Las vegas nice and easy? Not in Kittys world, its all action not only does she go to Las Vegas but, shje also also performing her famous 'Midnight Hour' show live, Ben has a new talent at Poker which ends with almost disastrous consequences.

If you haven't read any of the previous books I don't think this is one you can just dive into as you would need to know a bit of background otherwise you might not understand some of the story but, really thats no big deal as all the previous books are brilliant and highly recommended.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Calling & Changeling by Cate Tiernan

Morgan has discovered much about her powers. But who are her friends and who are her enemies? And who really is she? Morgan is now seventeen years old and her powers have grown with her. But as she struggles to discover who she really is, terrible dreams of someone else, someone in trouble, haunt her. Are they the person Morgan needs to find to truly find herself?

The Calling is the 7th book in this great series and Morgan is getting strange dreams and has to go to New York but, not alone along with her goes Hunter, Bree, Robbie, Sky and Raven. Morgans aim is to find out about her real parents but, of course things aren't so straightforward and she finds things out that will change her life even more than events before have! This instalment was brilliant and even better than the last.

Changeling is quite sad as Morgan and Hunter have split up and not only that Morgan has to contend with the fact that the man she thought was her real father isn't. Eoifa, A witch from the council of witches turns up for a mission from Morgan which she hopes she agrees to.

I didn't find Changeling as engrossing as the others for some reason not sure why as its not as if there wasn't much going, overkill maybe so I will be leaving this series for a little while but, shall return ...

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Awakening & Spellbound by Cate Tiernan

More spoilers!

Morgan begins to understand something of her power and to move on with her life after the terrible betrayal of Cal, her first love. She realizes that Wicca can work for good or for evil as she fights the dark magick of Seline and Cal - and later David, who runs the store "Practical Magick".

Morgan was rescued from nearly being burned alive and emerges not knowing who she can trust. She found out Cal & Selene (Cal's mother) were practising dark magick and were only using her for her blood witch powers. To make matters worse the one place Morgan feels she can go the magickal store Practical Magick is in danger of closing as if tyhat wasn't enough of course after the ending of the last book Cal is no longer Coven leader life is pretty traumatic!

Not only that Hunter suspects David from the Practical Magick store is practising dark magick to help him keep the store Morgan doesn't believe him, he gained a injury on his hand but, Morgan thought it was doing something for the store - this was my fave in the series so far!

Morgan continues to discover her powers as a blood witch of the Woodbane clan. She can't forget Cal, her first love, who tried to kill her, but is surprised to feel a growing attraction for Hunter. Her powers are now so strong that she is in danger from others in her clan and it is important for her to learn to use her witchcraft responsibly. When Selene and Cal use her sister Mary K. to get to her, Morgan realises that she and her family are in real danger.

As if this series couldn't get any better this book was amazing!

This book has snippets at the beginning of each chapter by Selene, Morgan is getting closer to Hunter in fact most of the members of the coven are becoming romantically attached. Selene & Cal are gone yet when Morgan goes past Cal & Selene's former home she swearts she sees a lit candle at one of the windows, and later Cal calls Morgan by witch message.

After the exit of Selene & Cal there are a number of 'accidents' or are they dark magick worked by Cal and his mother. Morgan becomes on talking terms with Bree again but, things are never what they were before.

Oh so many things happen this book was even better than the last.And with the huge cliffhanger at the end I just can't step away from this series just yet.

There are some things in here that are a little unrealistic and things that wouldn't happen in real life but, this is great entertainment!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Blood Witch & Dark Magick by Cate Tiernan

Contains spoilers

Morgan continues to unravel her past and the story of her birth mother as her relationship with Cal develops. She begins to understand more about her power as a blood witch when she finds her mother's tools of magic. Morgan can't quite relax into her relationship with Cal and the rather mysterious Hunter begins to feature more in her life. Cal and Hunter fight and, when Morgan intervenes, Hunter falls over the edge of the cliff into the rocks and water below. The book ends as Morgan begins herseventeenth birthday convinced that she is responsible for Hunter's death.

Morgan has so much to deal with! After getting her hands on her mothers book of shadows she finds out her birth parents are Woodbane, which is an evil clan. And then we meet 2 new characters - 2 witches Hunter & Sky. Hunter claims to be Cal's half brother Hunter tells her Cal is dabbling in dark magick and Hunter believes Cal is just using Morgan.

Evil forces are after Morgan, forces connected with a dark wave of magick. And she knows something is wrong with the way Cal is acting, although she can't put her finger on it. Cal is definitely hiding something, but is he out to hurt her, as Hunter says?

Morgan thinks that she killed Hunter and is finding that so hard to deal with then Hunter comes back and she is ecstatic, Cal doesn't seem so pleased!

Hunter is still telling Morgan that Cal is no good she doesn't know who to believe or what to think. Cal and Hunter do a tath meanma on each other (read each others minds) and find out neither one of them is evil.

The book ending is quite traumatic for Morgan after the tath meanma she starts to doubt Cal and the ending has such a twist I was going to read something else but, just had to read on ...

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Book of Shadows & The Coven by Cate Tiernan


Fifteen-year-old Morgan thinks witchcraft is laughable when her best friend, Bree, drags her to a meeting of the Cirrus Coven. But during a ceremony led by Cal, a new and very attractive boy who's just arrived in the area, Morgan starts to feel strange. Does she have special power? She doesn't want to get involved in witchcraft but it seems as though she doesn't have a choice. Gradually she discovers things about herself and her family that throw her whole life into question.

At the time of writing this review I am up to book 5 in the Wicca series and I have to say its brilliant, this series is aimed at teens/YA readers thats not to say us older folk can't enjoy it!

This was quite sympathetic to the Wiccan way of life if Cate Tiernan isn't Wiccan she sure knows a lot about it!

The main characters and the case are brilliant very well developed and not immature like some characters in YA books can be in my experience. Morgan is so drawn to witchcraft and you will find out in book 2 why or if you read my next review!

This first instalment basically bases itself on Morgan and Bree's friendship and Cal who is the holder of a party that Bree takes Morgan along to, Cal effectively though not knowingly (as I thought at first) destroys their friendship, this series is highly addictive!

SYNOPSIS FOR THE COVENMorgan has discovered she is a blood witch - that means the people she thought were her parents and her sister are not related to her, that she was adopted. She confronts her parents who reluctantly admit the adoption. Morgan is determined to find out more about her birth parents but her family try to stop her - why don't they want her to know the truth? Morgan's story is intersperced with extracts from her blood mother's Book of Shadows (a witch's book of personal spells, etc.). At the end Morgan finds her mother's Book of Shadows in her boyfriend's mother's private library.

As the synopsis says Morgan finds out her parents aren't her natural parents and this causes a lot of emotions for her (as it would anyone) so Morgan goes to find out more about her natural birth mother.

I loved the little snippets at the beginning of each chapter from Morgans mothers Book of Shadows.

Not only does Morgan have to deal with knowing her parents are not her real parents but, also they don't want her having anything to do with Witchcraft which is nigh on impossible for Morgan as a Blood Witch.

Read this if you love anything Supernatural.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Helen of Troy by Margaret George

Bestselling novelist, Margaret George, here imagines the story of Helen of Sparta and Troy, one of the most amazing female mythical characters, ancient or modern. A war, which lasted for 10 years, was fought over her and nearly all the stories of the heroic age were bound into her story - a measure of her capacity to galvanise men into action. Using her unique gift for research and recreation, Margaret George brings to life a Helen who was a tantalizing enigma from the very first, flesh and blood certainly, but also immortal, as the daughter of Zeus. Her beauty is so overwhelming and dangerous that, as a child, she is protected from seeing her reflection. Kings and princes compete for her hand in marriage, and she marries Menelaus of Sparta, but before marrying him all her other suitors swear to help bring Helen back should she ever be abducted again. When she falls for Paris of Troy it is assumed that he has taken her by force, when her actions are far more complex. The suitors are obliged to honour their oath and so the Trojan War begins - the most pivotal event in the history of ancient Greece ...and the tragedy of these individuals.

I was totally gripped with this, I'm ashamed to say I don't know a lot about Helen of Troy and this was a great insight told from Helen's point of view.

As a child she is not to look at her own reflection also as the daughter of the God Zeus she had many wanting to marry her and settled with Menelaus and bearing him a daughter only at the age of 24 falling for the Trojan Prince, Paris and leaving her daughter and husband.

This has been reviewed to be not as good as the Autobiography of Henry VIII and yes for me it wasn't as good as that but, I can't help feeling did I not enjoy this as much because it is a story I am not as familiar with? Maybe but, either way whether this is accurate or not it was a brilliantly told story that has given me an interest to find out more about Helen.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Witch Blood by Anya Bast

Water witch Isabelle Novak must form an uneasy alliance with earth witch Thomas Monahan to hunt and destroy a demon of tremendous power, even though Thomas's very presence stirs deeper desires than she ever knew she had.

This is the 2nd book in the Elemental Witches series and I would recommend reading Witch Fire before reading this.

This book is about Isabelle Novak's revenge for the murder of her sister. She fails to find the demon in question and so attempts to take her revenge on the leader of the warlocks.

However, things don't quite go as planned and there is a more urgent mission in that more witches are being killed by the same demon who killed Isabelle's sister. Thomas Monahan is the leader of a local coven and he first appeared in the first Elemental Witches book, Witch Fire.

Lots of action, lots of sex and romance this one was not as engrossing as Witch Fire however, it still flowed along nicely and was a good read without having to think about it too much.

I have the next 2 books in the series very high up in my TBR pile, this is a really good series if your inot paranormal romance especially the witches side of things - makes a change from were's and vampires.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

This Charming Man by Marian Keyes

Lola has just found out that her boyfriend – charismatic politician Paddy de Courcy – is getting married. To someone else. Heartbroken, Lola flees the city for a cottage by the sea. But will Lola’s retreat prove as idyllic as she hopes? Journalist Grace wants the inside story on Paddy de Courcy’s engagement and thinks Lola holds the key to it.

Grace knew Paddy a long time ago. But why can’t she forget him? Grace’s sister, Marnie, might have the answer but she also has issues with the past. Her loving loving husband and beautiful daughters are wonderful, but they can’t take away memories of her first love: a certain Paddy de Courcy. What will it take for Marnie to be able to move on?

Alicia Thornton is Paddy’s wife-to-be. Determined to be the perfect wife, Alicia would do anything for her fiancĂ©. But does she know the real Paddy? Four very different women. One awfully charming man. And the dark secret that binds them all...

This book, I found was a little more deeper than Marian's other books as with all Marians books this was easy reading but, had a much darker side, TBH I wasn't expecting that at all.

I wasn't much keen on Lola maybe it was the way she was writing and I came so close to abandoning this but, as I hate to do that I persevered and am so glad I did. The other characters were far more engrossing and made the book for me.

I'm not going to say too much as I may spoil it for some but, if you love Marian read it, even if you don't you may like it too as its a little different to her usual fare.

Having said all that I still haven't found a Marian book to top Watermelon- I love that book!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

After 6000 years of stillness, Akasha, mother of vampires and Queen of the Damned has risen from her sleep. Her monstrous plan of ruling the worlds of the living and the undead must be stopped. The challenge is left to the vampire Lestat, for it was he who woke her from her sleep.

I was a bit dubious about starting this book which is possibly why I didn't read it when I read IWTV & TVL four years ago as this was described as universes within universes which I thought might be a bit confusing but, it wasn't at all in fact I found the different stories really engrossing.

All the characters get a turn here Armand, Marius, Louis, Pandora, Lestat of course to name a few. We also see a return of the young reporter who originally wrote Louis story.

This is definitely s good as IWTV if not better this really is amazing I couldn't get enough of it!

Having watched IWTV I know for sure I definitely won't watch QOTD as from the description it deviates a lot from the storyline in the book seeing some characters killd that asn't in the book - the film would spoil it forme for sure.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

'Ah, the taste and feel of blood when all passion and greed is sharpened in that one desire!' Lestat: a vampire - but very much not the conventional undead, for Lestat is the truly alive. Lestat is vivid, ecstatic, stagestruck, and in his extravagant story he plunges from the lasciviousness of eighteenth-century Paris to the demonic Egypt of prehistory; from fin-de-siecle New Orleans to the frenetic twentieth-century world of rock superstardom - as, pursued by the living and the dead, he searches across time for the secret of his own dark immortality.

The second ofthe Vampire Chronicles I read four years ago, here is my original review:

The follow-up to Interview With The Vampire, this is the story of LeStat. I have heard many people say that they were not fond of Lestat from IWTV but, changed their mind after this one. I agree with that, you see things from a different angle than before.

Lestat is the son of a nobleman from the 18th century. The first part of this book is basically Interview With The Vampire but, from Lestat's view, which personally I did find could have been a bit shorter but, I wouldn't say it detracts from this being a brilliant book, which it is.

It starts as Lestat as a rock star in the 1980s, then goes back to him being in Paris in the 18th century, then goes forward to present day.

I personally prferred IWTV but, this is brilliant, I have yet to read all the Vampire Chronicles so not sure yet which are my favourites but, this one is excellent, and essential if you plan on reading the whole of the Chronicles.

I enjoyed this heaps more this time around than originally not sure why that was but, that said I still don't think it was a patch on IWTV.

Anne Rice has created such an amazing world with these books and all other Vampire books pale into insignificance, these just seem more grown up and so sensual. I know Anne now writes religious books and heard somewhere that she repents the Vampire books she wrote I hope that wasn't true because these books are amazing.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice

In a darkened room a young man sits telling the macabre and eerie story of his life - the story of a vampire, gifted with eternal life, cursed with an exquisite craving for human blood. Anne Rice's compulsively readable novel is arguably the most celebrated work of vampire fiction since Bram Stoker's Dracula was published in 1897. As the Washington Post said on its first publication, it is a 'thrilling, strikingly original work of the imagination ...sometimes horrible, sometimes beautiful, always unforgettable'.

I have actually read this book before, a friend of mine was talking about Anne Rice on Facebook and I just thought I've only read the first two books and there are over 10 in the series and I must get cracking! I first read this about 4 years ago so thought it should be re-read, actually I am reading the omnibus of the first three books but, thought I would review them seperately rather than all in one hit.

My review of four years ago:

This book is based on four very different Vampires.This is the story of Louis who became a vampire after his brothers suicide, he tells of how Lestat made Louis a vampire for economic reasons and aside from that he also wanted a companion. Lestat has Louis as a vampire only because as far as Louis knows there are no other vampires he can turn to.

Over the years he turns to distaste for Lestat, and Lestat who in his efforts to keep Louis by his side he takes a young girl whom Louis had fed upon and makes her a vampire.He knows Louis would never abandon her.The girl is called Claudia, she seems to accept what has happened, she is just a young girl and can barely remember her childhood. She does manage to get away from Lestat with Louis and its on their travels to Paris they encounter Armand.

This is quite a depressive story, Louis is not a happy Vampire! This is a classic book that everyone should read most especially if you love horror or occult.

Having re-read the book even though I loved it first time around I seemed to enjoy it more this time, strange but, true. Since I originally read this I have read lots and lots of Vampire books and in all honesty there is nothing like this its amazing, its engrossing so sensual.

A lot of other vampire books have a bit of a chick lit edge to them (not all just some) this is more your grown up Vampire tale.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

The Knight of the Sacred Lake by Rosalind Miles

Last in a line of proud queens elected to rule the fertile lands of the West, true owner of the legendary Round Table, guardian of the Great Goddess herself . . . a woman whose story has never been told--until now.

As High King and Queen, Arthur and Guenevere reign supreme across the many kingdoms of Great Britain. Still, Guenevere secretly mourns the loss of her beloved Lancelot, who has returned to the Sacred Lake of his boyhood, hoping to restore his faith in chivalry in the place where he learned to be a knight. In a glittering Pentecost ceremony, new knights are sworn to the Round Table, including Arthur's nephews, Agravain and Gawain. After many years of strife, peace is restored to Guenevere's realm.

But betrayal, jealousy, and ancient blood feuds fester unseen. Morgan Le Fay, now the mother of Arthur's only son, Mordred, has become the focus of Merlin's age-old quest to ensure the survival of the house of Pendragon. From the east comes the shattering news that Guenevere may have a rival for Lancelot's love. A bleak shadow falls again across Camelot--and across the sacred isle of Avalon, where Roman priests threaten the life of the Lady herself. At the center of the storm is Guenevere, torn between her love for her husband, her people, and Sir Lancelot of the Lake.

With rare and intuitive magic, Rosalind Miles brings to life a legendary woman's bravery and passion, and all the pageantry, heartbreak, violence, and beauty of an age gone by.

Following on from Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country this is the middle book of the trilogy and I wasn't expecting any great shakes as personally I find middle books not that great! Actually, this was just slightly better than the first book ...

Arthur in this book seems like quite a weak character which is not how I imagined him to be and Guenevere seems a little more grown up than she was in GQOTSC. This book continues after Guenevere's affair with Lancelot and she has sent him away after Arthur's incestuous relationship with his sister, Morgan La Fay.

This book mainly covers Merlin's attempts in finding Mordred and Lancelot returning to Camelot, although the series is predominantly Guenevere's you do get the viewpoints of other characters thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country by Rosalind Miles

Last in a line of proud queens elected to rule the fertile lands of the West, true owner of the legendary Round Table, guardian
of the Great Goddess herself . . . a woman whose story has never been told -- until now

Raised in the tranquil beauty of the Summer Country, Princess Guenevere has led a charmed and contented life -- until the sudden, violent death of her mother, Queen Maire, leaves the Summer Country teetering on the brink of anarchy. Only the miraculous arrival of Arthur, heir to the Pendragon dynasty, allows Guenevere to claim her mother's throne. Smitten by the bold, sensuous princess, Arthur offers to marry her and unite their territories, allowing her to continue to reign in her own right. Their love match creates the largest and most powerful kingdom in the Isles. Yet even the glories of Camelot are not safe from the shadows of evil and revenge. Arthur is reunited with his long-lost half-sisters, Morgause and Morgan, princesses torn from their mother and their ancestral right by Arthur's father, the brutal and unscrupulous King Uther. Both daughters will avenge their suffering, but it is Morgan who strikes the deadliest blows, using her enchantments to destroy all Guenevere holds dear and to force Arthur to betray his Queen.

In the chaos that follows, Arthur dispatches a new knight to Guenevere, the young French prince Lancelot, never knowing that Lancelot's passion for the Queen, and hers for him, may be the love that spells ruin for Camelot.

Rosalind Miles is a great author I, Elizabeth was one of the best fiction books on Elizabeth I have read, so why has this been sitting on my bookshelf for over 4 years un-read? Well it hasn't had hugely great reviews and sometimes that makes me put any books further down my TBR list - this is a classic case of not listening to others but, making up your own mind.

Mists of Avalon will always be for me one of the best Arturian reads and whilst this was not as good it was a much easier read. This is not an action book so if your looking for that your not going to like this. Equally if you are looking for some really deep and something that needs 101% concentration on again it won't be your cup of tea - this would be a great book to start if your new to Arthurian literature.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Chalice by Phil Rickman

The magical Glastonbury Tor has been a lifelong obsession for Dianne Ffitch. But as the atmosphere of the place becomes soured by bitterness, violence and death, Dianne is convinced she is being warned of impending disaster. Could there be an anti-Grail in existence - the Dark Chalice?

This was my first book by Phil Rickman and whilst it was good I don't think I would be in a huge rush to read another of his!

It was good to see both sides of the coin with the new age folk and all the cynics and the descriptions of Glastonbury sound pretty good but, as I haven't been there I can't say how accurate they are but, going by the reviews it seems pretty accurate.

The characters too are pretty interesting but, I found there were too many sub-plots going on that when something happened it flipped over to something else.

This is probably more interesting if you have lived in Glastonbury etc. but, I did find it slightly tedious although I did find it slightly similar to Kit Berry's books but, there were better than this so would recommend those over this.

Sorry to anyone who loved this as I know its seems quite popular but, I just didn't gel with it ...

Thursday, 30 April 2009

The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson

In this lush, romantic retelling of one of the most enduring Irish legends, acclaimed Celtic historical author Jules Watson reignites the tale of Deirdre—the Irish Helen of Troy—in a story that is at once magical, beautiful, and tragic.

She was born with a blessing and a curse: that she would grow into a woman of extraordinary beauty—and bring ruin to the kingdom of Ulster and its ruler, the wily Conor. Ignoring the pleadings of his druid to expel the infant, King Conor secrets the girl child with a poor couple in his province, where no man can covet her. There, under the tutelage of a shamaness, Deirdre comes of age in nature and magic…. And in the season of her awakening, the king is inexorably drawn to her impossible beauty.

But for Deirdre, her fate as a man’s possession is worse than death. And soon the green-eyed girl, at home in waterfall and woods, finds herself at the side of three rebellious young warriors. Among them is the handsome Naisi. His heart charged with bitterness toward the aging king, and growing in love for the defiant girl, Naisi will lead Deirdre far from Ulster—and into a war of wits, swords, and spirit that will take a lifetime to wage.

Brimming with life and its lusts, here is a soaring tale of enchantment and eternal passions—and of a woman who became legend.

This was a totally amazing book, one of the quotes on back of the book was that Jules Watson doesn't jusr write the book she lives it (or something like that), how true the descriptions were utterly brilliant, the explanation of nature and everything - stunning!

I only discovered this book as a recommendation on Amazon whilst looking at Juliet Marillier books so if you love her books (as I do) I think you will most probably love this too.

Its so hard to write a review on books I love without spoiling it for someone who hasn't read it so I'm not going to say anymore about this book, I would even go as far as to say this is one of the best (if not THE best) books I have read this year.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Secrets of The Tudor Court: The Pleasure Palace by Kate Emerson

Beautiful. Seductive. Innocent. Jane Popyncourt was brought to the court as a child to be ward of the king and a companion to his daughters -- the princesses Margaret and Mary. With no money of her own, Jane could not hope for a powerful marriage, or perhaps even marriage at all. But as she grows into a lovely young woman, she still receives flattering attention from the virile young men flocking to serve the handsome new king, Henry VIII, who has recently married Catherine of Aragon. Then a dashing French prisoner of war, cousin to the king of France, is brought to London, and Jane finds she cannot help giving some of her heart -- and more -- to a man she can never marry. But the Tudor court is filled with dangers as well as seductions, and there are mysteries surrounding Jane's birth that have made her deadly enemies. Can she cultivate her beauty and her amorous wiles to guide her along a perilous path and bring her at last to happiness?

Basing her gripping tale on the life of the real Jane Popyncourt, gifted author Kate Emerson brings the Tudor monarchs, their family, and their courtiers to brilliant


I am a bit undecided about this book, it is very well researched regarding the taste and flavours of the Tudor court, Jane Popyncourt is not someone I had come across before (either in historical fiction or non) so that was interesting to find out something or rather someone who did exist rather than a fictional character.

It was enjoyable but, not something unputdownable it was good also seeing things from the other side ie. not directly King Henry or any of his Queens or children, I personally don't feel there are enough books about Henry's sisters and I loved reading about Mary.

Jane was an interesting character I did feel for her at times it was almost as if she didn't quite belong, there are also some interesting parts in the book regarding the family tree and at the back there is a description of all the different people at court which is helpful as it can get a bit confusing at times.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

The Spanish Bride by Laurien Gardner

The queen who married a Tudor and a tyrant.

Her name was Catherine. For over two decades, she was Queen of England, until her failure to bear the king a son, her advancing age, and King Henry VIII's obsession with Anne Boleyn cost Catherine the crown, her marriage, and her life. This is her story, told from the point of view of Estrella de Montoya, her trusted maid of honor, who traveled from Spain to England with her, and witnessed the triumphs and tragedies of her amazing life.

I am sad to say had I read this book first (of the three) I may well have not read the rest, so fortunate for me I read them out of order! I personally don't think its imperative to read them in order unless you are completely unfamiliar with the story of Henry's wives which I doubt.

I would add that of all the wives I would say Katherine is my least favourite but, thats not to say its the reason for not being completely bowled over by this book (I loved Philippa Gregory's Constant Princess) I think it has more to do with Estrella who is the narrater of this book, this book is written in the first person which is books I usually love but, Estrella was for me as dull as dull can be.

There are parts of this book which are quite dark and moody so not a book to be reading if you are depressed!

I liked (yes there were parts I did like) the fact it flitted back and forth between when Katherine was coming to England from Spain and when she first arrived in Spain to the later years, it was also good to hear about the journey coming over, most books on Katherine I have come across have started with her when she first marries Arthur.

Although as I said Katherine is not one of my favourite wives but, still I would like to read more on her so if anyone has any suggestions please feel free (with the exception of Philippa Gregory & Jean Plaidy).

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Maid Marian by Elsa Watson

An irresistible reimagining of the Robin Hood legend, Maid Marian brings to life the rollicking—and romantic—world of the Middle Ages.

An orphan and heiress to a large country estate, Marian Fitzwater is wed at the age of five to an equally young nobleman, Lord Hugh of Sencaster, a union that joins her inheritance to his. But when she is seventeen, Lord Hugh, whom she hasn’t seen in years, dies under mysterious circumstances. Marian is left alone again—a widow who has never been a bride. But now, like all unmarried young ladies of fortune, she is made the ward of King Richard the Lionheart. Since Richard is away on Crusade, Marian’s fate lies in the hands of his mother, the formidable Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. The bridegroom Eleanor selects will get Marian’s lands and, in return, pledge his loyalty—and silver—to the king. Marian herself is irrelevant and she knows it. Determined not to be sold into another sham marriage, she seeks out the one man who can help uncover the queen’s intentions: Robin Hood, the notorious Saxon outlaw of Sherwood Forest.

Marian is surprised to discover that the famed “prince of thieves” is not only helpful but handsome, likeable, and sympathetic to her plight. Robin’s men intercept a letter from Queen Eleanor, from which Marian learns, to her horror, that she is to marry her late husband’s brother. His family has a history of mysterious deaths, and Marian knows she is in danger. Once married, she can be easily disposed of—a fate she may have escaped once already. On the eve of her wedding, Robin Hood spirits Marian back to the forest. The Queen believes her to be dead, and Marian begins a new life with Robin Hood’s outlaws, who pledge to help her regain her fortune and expose the treachery of her enemies.

I adored this! The Marian created here was a brilliant character based of course, in the 1100s this is quite a fast read at a atouch over 300 pages and there were no boring parts it all flowed nicely.

I have not read many books based around the period of Robin Hood, in fact if any at all so this was a nice light introduction (I have Jennifer Roberson's on deck - hope they are as good!), firstly we see Marian as quite spoiled but, not irritatingly so but, as we go further along in the book she becomes worker in the field and becomes far less spoiled.

I loved how like the last book I read this was written in the first person and I do prefer books that way although sometimes you don't always get a good feel for the other characters but, I feel you do here.

This is Marian's story of course, and naturally Robin Hood is quite a central character but, more is based on Marian, loved it!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Plain Jane by Laurien Gardner

With a face better suited to a nun’s habit than a wedding dress, Jane Seymour has no suitors and few hopes. Then, her prospects brighten when she is granted a position at court as maid of honor to Queen Catherine. There, Jane watches as King Henry VIII ignores his aging wife, showering favor on the beautiful Anne Boleyn, the woman he would make his new queen.

But soon he tires of Anne and his wandering eye falls on Jane. Though she has feelings of affection for Henry, she cannot let herself be swept away by his attentions if she is to win not only his heart, but also the greatest prize of all—the Crown.


I really, really liked this. Jane Seymour is one of the wives not much written about in my experience and not that I am sure this is the greatest book but, it did provide me with some insight into this little known (to me) Queen, as I've said in other posts I mostly read about Anne Boleyn and I always just thought of Jane Seymour as the one Henry married so quickly after Anne died and who bore his only (legitimate) son.

I can't say as an Anne Boleyn sympathiser I had great sympathy for Jane but, although I understand this book is historically inaccurate I did quite feel for her with her parents in her early years not thinking so greatly of her and she did seem quite insecure.

A very easy to read and light book and I liked the fact is was written from Jane's POV.

Friday, 3 April 2009

The Friarsgate Inheritance by Bertrice Small

******** CONTAINS SPOILERS ***************
BOOK ONE: Rosamund
Rosamund Bolton is the heiress to the manor of Friarsgate in the wild Cumbrian border between England and Scotland. More than a splendid inheritance, Friarsgate will chart the fate of the orphaned beauty widowed at a precious young age. It will take her on an adventure that will test the limits of passion and betrayal, change the meaning of the word enemy, and turn even the most daring fantasy into true love...

At the age of thirteen Rosamund Bolton has been widowed twice her uncle Henry Bolton is desperate to get his hands on Friarsgate but, fortunately for Rosamund her late 2and husband has entrusted her to Henry VIII and it is there that she will find her third husband.

Much of this book, indeed the seies is set in my favourite English county of Cumbria and the rest in my favourite historical period and that of Henry VIII's court, Rosamund becomes great friends not only with Kathrine of Aragon but, also of Henry's sister Mary. They both feature quite alot in the first 2 books.

I wouldn't say if you love Tudor history you will love this as its not a historical fiction book per se but, if you love a good romance with asprinkling of history the ye go for it, personaly I love this book and the whole series I found it quite engrossing and it was quite an easy read nothing too taxing on the brain.

BOOK TWO: Until You


The time is the 16th century, and at the tender age of 22, Rosamund Bolton has been widowed three times and has three daughters. Lest her family marry her off a fourth time, she takes the girls and flees to her friend Meg, the Queen of Scotland. There she meets Patrick Leslie, a man in his 40s who sweeps her off her feet--and takes her away with him on a diplomatic mission to Italy. When they return, Rosamund wants marriage. Patrick agrees, but before they can manage to marry, England and Scotland go to war--and Rosamund must battle her enemies simply to stay alive.

Rosamund who has no been widowed three times finally founds herself completely and utterly in love with a much older man, Patrick Leslie who at 50 is much older than Rosamund.

A large part of this book takes us to San Lorenzo which I didnot find as fascinating as when it was based in Cumbria or King Henry's court and personally I found for me the amount of this book spent in San Lorenzo could have been shortened a little.

Rosamund has this thought that she and Patrick will not be together forever but, Patrick does not want to listen to that and can't bear to think about being apart from Rosamund, whether they will be together or not well ....

Of the four books I think this was the weakest although still enjoyable I much preferred the other three books.

BOOK THREE: Philippa
Philippa, Rosamund Bolton's willful eldest daughter, who couldn't care less about her mother's beloved estate. Even though she is destined to inherit Friarsgate, Philippa prefers to spend her time at court serving as one of Queen Katherine's maids of honor. When Philippa's fiance, Giles Fitzhugh, unexpectedly breaks their engagement, King Henry VIII and Queen Katherine send Philippa back to Friarsgate, mistakenly thinking she needs time for her wounded affections to heal. Fortunately, one of Philippa's favorite relatives soon arranges a new match with Crispin St. Clair. At first Philippa is certain she can convince Crispin to allow her to continue her service to the queen, but she soon discovers that she prefers spending time with her sexy, soon-to-be-husband rather than dallying at court.

Rosamunds eldest daughter Philippa who wants no part of the future of Friarsgate spends much time at the court of Henry VIII and in the service of Katherine of Aragon, the first part of this book Philippa comes over as quite difficult although in some parts quite funny (the part when Henry VIII & Charles Brandon find her with some others from the caght was particuarly amusing) Philippa also becomes briefly friends with Elizabeth Blount who she is caught with.

After the disappointment of the never to be of her intended marriage and meeting her future intended husband Philippa seems to change quite a bit she has a very passionate and sensual relationship with her new husband (check out the honey scene!!), Philippa is so scared of what will happen on her wedding night but, of course once it happens she wonders what she was so frightened about.

Philippa can be rather irritating so if you can get over that it is a good read.

BOOK FOUR: The Last Heiress
New York Times bestselling author Bertrice Small presents the conclusion of her highly acclaimed saga of Rosamund Bolton and her daughters with this dazzling tale of passion, intrigue, and seduction. Set against the glorious backdrop of King Henry's sixteenth-century court, The Last Heiress stars Elizabeth Meredith, the youngest Bolton daughter, who will risk everything to protect her beloved Friarsgate.

Elizabeth is the youngest of Rosamunds daughters and is the one who inherited Friarsgate from her mother after Philippa refused to take it, she is s at home there and has no interest of going to King Henry's court until her mother becomes concerned that there is no-one to inherit Friarsgate from Elizabeth. A husband must be found!

So to court she goes although she has little hope of finding a husband who will want to live at her northern Cumbrian estate, however she does make very good friends with the Kings future second wife, Anne Boleyn.

Although Elizabeth does not find a husband in the London court she does find a suitor although it is not all plain sailing but, it is towards the end that Elizabeth receives summons from he friend Anne who has now become Queen andis to be crowned Queen for she wants Elizabeth there and also until she gives birth to her first child. Elizabeth does not want to go and leave her precious Friarsgate but, of course she must.

Of course, she does return to Friarsgate and the ending is of course a happy one, whilst at court she made friends with Flynn a northern lad and it is he who brings the news of the demise of her good friend Anne - and I think we all know what happened.

This was a good series as I said earlier its very easy to read and though enjoyable probably not one I would read again great for a quick easy romantic read with a sprinkling of history!