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A Very Gothic Christmas (anthology)

The book contains two novellas.

After the Music by Christine Feehan

Synopsis (blurb): Terrified by mysterious threats, Jessica Fitzpatrick spirits away her twin wards, Tara and Trevor, to the remote island mansion of their estranged father, world-famous musician Dillon Wentworth. Ever since the fire that claimed his troubled wife’s life and left him horribly disfigured, Dillon has shut out the world. With Christmas approaching, the spark between him and Jessica might light the future, but there are those who shared Dillon’s wife’s love of the occult . . . and their evil machinations may plunge the family into darkness — unless a Christmas miracle occurs. . . .

Review: This was my first Feehan book not dealing with Carpathians and I don’t know whether I’m glad or sad to say that she hasn’t changed her ways. The heroine’s body is still soft and pliant and the hero is once more a predator – even if he comes in disguise of an ex-celebrity musician. In Feehan’s world, there is an order and you must adhere to it. Plenty of molten lava around as well, and she even managed to throw in a narrow ribcage, so nothing new here either.

I wouldn’t call the story Gothic, but there are some mysterious features on board. Hooded and cloaked figures looming in the dark, curious “accidents”, shadows from the past, a Gothic mansion on a remote storm-ridden island, it’s all there. The story dragged along though. Why, oh, why the couple waited for an eternity to follow their mutual attraction remains a mystery and annoyed me quite a bit. It was an ok read, the characters were nice and likeable, I just didn’t feel connected to them. However, for Feehan fans it is a must.

Lady of the Locket by Melanie George

Syopsis (blurb): The echoes of history and romance lure Rachel Hudson to Glengarren, the Scottish castle where her parents met many Christmases ago. But it is the portrait of fierce Highlander Duncan MacGregor that sparks an inexplicable yearning inside her. On a storm-tossed night, as lightning cracks across the castle’s turrets, Rachel finds herself face-to-face with MacGregor himself, astride a mighty stallion. Now, stepping into Rachel’s time — and her heart — the warrior from the past is pursued by an ancient, evil enemy. . . .

Review: This second story was a real treat. I have never read anything by Melanie George, but will definitely look for some of her books. You could literally feel the cold in that old Scottish castle and feel the mysterious atmosphere. The hero, Duncan MacGregor, was to die for, no wonder Rachel fell for him immediately. I personally like the soul mate theme, so the instantaneous connection between the two didn’t pose a problem for me.
I was somewhat dissatisfied with the end of the story. It turned out to be a real tear jerker (not bad in itself), but wasn’t resolved satisfactorily in my eyes. I don’t see how the author could have done it differently, but I just didn’t like it particularly anyway. It was a HEA of sorts, though.

I really liked the lyrics of the song that Duncan sang to Rachel and researched it on the net. The song was written in 1877 by Annie Fortescue Harrison with lyrics by Meta Orred. Thus it could have hardly been known by Duncan who died in Culloden in 1746. Admittedly the song fit wonderfully into the context, but inconsistencies like this could be avoided and just bother me in retrospect.

[rating:4]

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The heart breaker by Nicole Jordan

Synopsis: Sloan McCord needs a wife. Not for love but to take care of his infant daughter, to keep his household, to helm him campaigning and to warm his bed. Heather Ashford needs a husband to take care of her late father’s gambling debts. A friend of hers, Sloan’s sister in law, fixes them up and the deal is made. However, Heather falls deeply in love with Sloan who can’t accept this. He still loves his dead wife and is not interested in a new love and all its ramifications.

Review: OK, I loved the book, even though I can think of a lot of things that should have made me dislike it:

  • It starts with a sex scene which I hate. Sex without context does nothing for me. It turns out to be a dream of Sloan’s, but nevertheless.
  • Sloan is a real jerk. He thinks falling in love again is a betrayal to his wife (I can relate to that to an extent), but he sees no problem in sleeping with his new wife until the cows come home.
  • How he got a reputation to be a heart breaker I have no idea. He does seem to have some potential, but it hardly ever shows.
  • When drunk he makes Heather such an unspeakable offer, that I’d have left him for good – love or not.
  • Heather made him grovel way too little afterwards.
  • Heather was weak when it came to him. After their agreement not to touch each other again, it took virtually NOTHING to change her mind.

However, the story flowed smoothly for me and there were no stupid side plots that took attention from the main one. More than once I felt like taking Sloan and throttle him, but I liked him anyway. I loved the book, what can I say.

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Warrior by Cheryl Brooks

Synopsis: The story is about Tisana, the local witch, who gets a new patient. He is being brought in by Tisana’s ex, Rafe. His newly acquired slave is severely ill and he wants Tisana to nurse him back to health. The slave turns out to be a Zetithian, Leo, with whom Tisana falls in love pretty quickly – and vice versa. All would be good, if he didn’t belong to Rafe, who will come back and claim him again soon. When Rafe eventually comes back, he’s come for another reason though. He wants Tisana’s and Leo’s help in finding his two sons who have been kidnapped for unknown reasons. Together they get on their way on a rescue mission and at the same time on the mission to make Leo a free man once more.

Review: This is the second installment of Brooks’ Cat Star Chronicles after "Slave". I enjoyed the first book, but I enjoyed this one more, which was due to the heroine. Tisana wasn’t such a tough entrepreneur as Jacinth, which I preferred. The couple in the book was established pretty quickly, so there was not much angst on that part, but, of course, there was the problem of getting Leo out of the (virtual) clutches of Rafe’s wife, who wanted him for prestige reasons. That was dealt with not too early, but fairly easy I’d say, and from then on, it was all about rescuing the boys.

Usually I neither like books with children involved, nor with animals, but in this case I must make an exception. The children were marginal characters who served only as the reason for the mission in the first place. I don’t think they even uttered a word during the whole book. The animals on the other hand chatted nonstop, which was quite fun. Tisana has the psychic ability to converse with animals and that helped her a lot on her mission. The conversations between her and the various animals were quite amusing and added an entertaining touch.

The hero, Leo, was a good character, no uber-alpha, but a warrior and pretty self assured (not surprising considering his way with women, but I don’t want to give away anything). The heroine was compassionate, strong, down-to-earth. They were a perfect couple.

At the end the reader meets the couple from the previous book again, which was nice. However, Jacinth, and her business-like manner, in which she immediately wanted to take advantage of Tisana’s gift, really rubbed me the wrong way. Can’t she leave people alone for a minute, for crying out loud? She just met her and already proposes to make money out of her. She might be a space trader, but still, give it a little rest, won’t you?

Want to read more reviews?
This book has also been reviewed by Literary Escapism.

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Lord of Danger by Anne Stuart

Synopsis: "Lord of Danger" is the story of Alys and her sister Claire. Both are called to their half brother Richard the Fair’s castle where one of them is to be wedded to Richard’s advisor Simon de Navarre. Simon is feared by everybody. Due to his reputation of being a demon’s spawn and a Lord of the Dark Arts they call him "Grendel". When asked to choose between the two sisters he surprisingly chooses Alys, the somewhat drab but smart one, instead of Claire, the beauty. His plan to dispose of her in a convent as soon as she doesn’t suit his purpose any longer goes awry when he falls in love with her. And there is still Richard and his machinations to be considered…

Review: The books hasn’t been in my TBR pile for long, but I had been waiting to read it for a long while before I could finally get a copy. So my expectations were extremely high, additionally fuelled by the good reviews it got.

This was my second book by Anne Stuart and it will be my last. The book has a great story to tell and it was quite funny at times, but I just didn’t care for the way the story was executed.
I dislike books that deal with 2 romances in 1 and this is what Lord of Danger does. Claire’s love story takes up almost as much room as Alys’ and Simon’s – at least it felt like that for me.

Simon was a great hero, smart, strong, handsome and cunning and Alys a good heroine who doesn’t believe in Simon’s carefully crafted evil reputation. I liked that, but somehow the supposed tension between the two just didn’t show.
The scene on the parapet (two lovers meeting on the parapet in the midst of a thunder storm, you get it) that I had heard about beforehand was unexciting in spite of its potential and the ending, especially the last chapter, was rushed to the extreme. Simon’s "declaration of love", if you can even call it that, fit his character – I must give the author that – but was totally unsatisfying to a romance reader. For the real thing you had to revert to the secondary couple – not good!
Last, but not least, but this is a matter of preference, the love scenes were too tame for me. If the same story had been told by another writer, whose style is more to my taste, it would have been perfect, but as it is, it just wasn’t up my alley – at all.

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Shadow Prince by Terry Lynn Wilhelm

Synopsis: Ariel, a plastic surgeon, takes a job at a residential facility for people who need reconstructive surgery. One evening when she is out in spite of the curfew for patients and medical staff alike she meets a mysterious man, Jonah, who hides in the shadows. They become friends and slowly fall in love, even though Jonah never shows his face to Ariel.

Review: As a lover of Beauty and the Beast stories this was my kind of book. It becomes pretty clear from very early on who Jonah is, still, the reader is being left in the dark about his true story until late in the book. Ariel and Jonah spend a lot of time together on their daily outings in the evening, so there is plenty of time for them to get to know each other. Readers of romance books who need a lot of action, interfering relatives / well meaning friends, colleagues or other busybodies and misunderstandings between h/h that only get resolved on the last page of the book – be warned! No such thing in this book. There is no plot whatsoever apart from interaction between h/h and a bit of sleuthing (and that is already an exaggeration) on Ariel’s part to find out more about Jonah. A few patients and other medical staff thrown in for good measure and that’s it.
I like stories that center on the couple without a lot of distracting outside factors, so this was perfect for me.

The only thing that bothered me a bit was the very quick ending. I felt it was kind of rushed, as if the page count was up and it had to be squeezed in on the last four pages. But this is only a minor complaint which didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the book. For me it is a definite keeper.

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Lost Warriors by Rachel Lee

This is the first book I read for the winter challenge. The challenge was to “read a story that has a military or civil servant in it – any genre”.

Synopsis:

“Lost warriors” is part of Lee’s “Conard County” series.
Billy Joe Yuma has been suffering from PTSD for the last 20 years, since he came back from Vietnam. The heroine, Wendy, the daughter of the local sheriff, has been in love with him since she was 16 six years ago, but due to her age and his issues, Yuma kept rejecting her. Now she comes back into her home town to work as an emergency flight nurse and, as it happens, Yuma is the pilot of the emergency helicopter.

Review:

If you like tortured heroes, sensible and sensitive heroines, a good, but not overwhelming plot and no stupid misunderstandings between hero and heroine, then this is the book for you. The way Yuma and Wendy find to each other, how the hero deals with his issues and how the heroine helps him along is described beautifully. Also, the severe problems the hero has are not dealt with and discarded within a couple of days as is the case so often. The story seems just right all around.
This was my first book by Rachel Lee, but definitely not my last.

However, people who don’t like a large age difference between h/h might want to think twice about reading the story. Yuma is 20 years older than Wendy. If you decided not to read this book because of that age difference, you will miss out on a great story, though.

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“Wentworthiana” & more

It seems, Captain Wentworth isn’t as interesting as Darcy by far. Still, I managed to find a few books, plus a few of others featuring other heroes of Austen.

Amanda Grange:

  • Captain Wentworth’s Diary
  • Mr. Knightley’s Diary
  • Edmund Bertram’s Diary
  • Colonel Brandon’s Diary

Susan Kaye:

  • None But You (Frederick Wentworth, captain: book 1)
  • For You Alone (Frederick Wentworth, Captain: book 2)

Rachel Billington:

  • Emma & Knightley: Perfect Happiness in Highbury
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Fitzwilliam Darcy – you can’t get enough of him

I never knew how many books are out there dealing with Fitzwilliam Darcy – either as a bachelor or as a married man. Darcy seems to be the epitome of man, people just can’t let him rest. And after seeing Colin Firth as Darcy in the gorgeous BBC series, I can’t say I’m surprised.

I was looking up a Stephanie Barron book on Shelfari just before (the Jane Austen mystery series) and loads of other books turned up, one of them by a Carrie Bebris. I looked it up on amazon and was stunned to see all those other Darcy books around. There is even a name for that sort of book- Darcyiana

So, for future reference I’m compiling a little list here. If anyone has something to contribute, let me know.

Pamela Aidan:
(trilogy, same time as P&P)

  • An Assembly such as this
  • Duty and Desire
  • These three remain

Helen Halstead:
(sequel)

  • Mr. Darcy presents his bride

Linda Berdoll:
(sequel)

  • Mr. Darcy takes a wife (formerly self-published as "The Bar Sinister"), this was a DNF for me, I am sorry to say.
  • Darcy & Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley

Carrie Bebris:
(mystery series)

  • Pride and Prescience
  • Suspense and Sensibility
  • North by Northanger
  • The Matters at Mansfield

Phyllis Furley:
(sequel)

  • Darcys – Scenes from married life

Amanda Grange: 

  • Mr. Darcy’s Diary (re-telling of P&P from Darcy’s point of view)
  • Wickham’s Diary (ends where P&P starts)
  • Mr. Darcy, Vampyre (Mr. Darcy turns out to be a, you guessed it, vampire)

Maya Slater:
(re-telling of P&P from Darcy’s point of view)

  • Mr. Darcy’s Diary

Mary Street:
(re-telling of P&P from Darcy’s point of view)

  • The confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy

Jane Dawkins:
(sequel)

  • Letters from Pemberley
  • More letters from Pemberley

Rebecca Ann Collins:
(sequel)

  • The Pemberley Chronicles
  • The women of Pemberley
  • Netherfield Park Revisited
  • The Ladies of Longbourne
  • Mr. Darcy’s Daughter

C. Allyn Pierson:
(sequel)

  • And this is our life: Chronicles of the Darcy family

Marsha Altman:
(sequel)

  • The Darcys & the Bingleys

Elizabeth Newark:
(sequel)

  • The Darcys give a ball

Juliette Shapiro:
(sequel)

  • Mr. Darcy’s Decision

Diana Birchall:
(sequel)

  • Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma

D. A. Bonavia-Hunt:
(sequel)

  • Pemberley Shades

Regina Jeffers:
(re-telling of P&P from Darcy’s point of view)

  • Darcy’s Passions
  • Darcy’s Dreams (sequel)

Abigail Reynolds:
(variations of P&P – what could have been…)

  • From Lambton to Longbourn
  • The Last Man in the World
  • Without Reserve
  • By Force of Instinct
  • Impulse & Initiative

Kara Louise:
(re-telling in a different setting)

  • Pemberley’s Promise
  • Assumed Engagement (spin off with story going in another direction)
  • Assumed Obligation (sequel to Assumed Engagement)

Barbara Tiller Cole:

  • White Lies and Other Half Truths (not sure what exactly this is, but it seems to be sexy, LOL)

Marie Hogstrom:

  • Derbyshire (sequel)

That’s it for now. Next thing I’ll do, is collect some Wentworthiana (I’m sure there must be some out there)…

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Readers of Romance winter challenge 2008

I recently became a member of Shelfari and love it. As a passionate romance reader (I’m really getting into this now, LOL) I signed up for the Readers of Romance group and consequently signed up for the ROR winter challenge 2008. You are given some topics, authors or just fun criteria and then go and find a book to read that fits. We were given 15 items and within a couple of days I had my reading list ready. Oh, doesn’t that sound like a lot of fun?

Since I’m into paranormal stuff, I tried to fit as many PNR into it as possible, but had to put up with some regular romance as well.

You can find my list here.

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Serial Readers Challenge 2009

Beth, also known as the carpoolqueen, will start an interesting challenge in January 2009. I only discovered reading challenges recently and love the idea. A great way to read stuff out of your box (or make stuff that you want to read fit into a certain box that you are given, LOL).

So, the 2009 challenge is the serial readers challenge. No problem, I love reading series and I’ll find tons of new series to read or re-read old ones.  There are prizes to be had, but the real fun is the reading part of course.

I was thinking about what series I’d like to read and a few automatically come to my mind.

  • For the winter 2009 challenge (more about that later) I’m starting the Argenau series by Lynsay Sands. Don’t know whether I’ll like it, mabye it’ll be to humorous for me, but we’ll see.
  • Then I’m planning to read “Moon called” by Particia Briggs which might be the entry into her Mercy Thompson series.
  • Also for the winter challenge is “How to marry a millionaire vampire” which is the first book in Kerrelyn Sparks’ Love at Stake series. Maybe also to funny, but I’ll find out.
  • Plus, since Rhev’s book will be coming out next year and I HAVE to read it, I’ll definitely re-read all the BDB books before the release.

These are my ideas for now, but I’m sure I’ll come across a lot of others on the way.

My final list can be found here. 

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Previews in books

I understand the reason why often publishers put previews of other or upcoming books at the end of a book. That way word gets out about them. Fine with me. But then I wonder what is the thought behind putting a preview of let’s say “Rainbow dreams” (made up title, don’t look for it, LOL) into the back of the book “Rainbow Dreams”? Hasn’t the reader just read that book? Why does she need to read the preview at the end of it again? Isn’t that really strange?

My only theory is that publishers  think their readers are so thick that they have forgotten everything about a book the minute they finished it. So, by reading the preview they’ll think”Oh, that sounds like a good book, I must go and read it”, and thus are suckered into buying it again. Might even work for some…

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Words into hype

In the newsletter of The Book Depository I came across an excerpt of an article which is available on Harper’s Magazine. The full article is only available for subscribers, but what is there for everybody is pretty good, too. It is called Words into hype, part of The Offutt Guide to Literary Terms, by author Chris Offutt.

I particularly like the definition of

prose poem: either a poem with no line breaks or a lyric essay with no indentation. No one knows.

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The Time-Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The book is the story about Henry, a time-traveller, and Claire, his wife. Henry travels in time, totally unplanned and unintentionally. He can’t say when he will travel and where he will end up – and he can’t take anything with him, so he always turns up naked wherever he goes. They meet for Claire’s first time when she is around 6 and he is 36. They meet for Henry’s first time when Claire is 20 and he is 28. When Henry meets Claire when she is 6 he already knows that she will be his wife, since he’s already been married to her for a number of years. When Claire meets him when she is 20 and he is 28, she already has known him since she was 6 while he has never seen her before. With me still?

The book is written in form of vignettes that are set in all sorts of various times and from two points of view. So the reader has to constantly figure out what has already happened, and to whom. The ages of Claire and Henry in relation to each other constantly change, since Henry is sometimes coming from the past and sometimes from the future.

When I started to read the book I thought I had found the book that from now on I’m going to give as a gift to everybody I know, but I changed my mind later on. I loved the beginning, how Henry and Claire met in Henry’s present and how their relationship – that existed for Claire already for a long time – developed. However, I wanted the story to get a "Happily Ever After" and needless to say it didn’t have one. It was obvious from fairly early on that the ending would be sad and for me that just doesn’t do it.

The idea of the story is very original and if the story line had gone into another direction this would have been my favourite book ever – even though I must admit that I can’t imagine what positive direction the storyline could have taken.

Another point I found a bit disappointing was that the two points of view could only be distinguished by the fact that the author always started the vignettes with the name of the person and a colon. Without that you couldn’t have said who is speaking/thinking at the moment. Henry and Claire sound exactly the same – not very likely in my opinion.

I’d recommend the book because the time travel concept is an interesting and intriguing idea.

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Book vs. message board

Today I came across a link to a You tube video with an interview with J.R. Ward, which annoyed me quite a bit. I am a big fan of her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. Stupid name for a series, but nothing compared to the even more cheesy names of the brothers. It is not surprising that they usually refer to themselves as V., Z. etc. But that aside.

The book titles suggest a romance and that always is part of the book. However, in the last few books the emphasis has shifted from paranormal romance (the brothers are vampires) to urban fantasy. The storyline is very good, there is a war raging between the vampires and another group, and a lot of characters are recurring in every book. If you like vampires, urban fantasy and a story arc that stretches over the whole series, rather than independent books, this is for you.

However, J. R. Ward has a message board and a huge, enthusiastic fan base for whom she writes on her board as well. As long as those stories and texts are stories irrelevant to the content of the books, fine with me. Whether Jane or anybody else carved her name in R.’s back is of no importance to anybody, except some hard core cellies. What I don’t get at all is that there is vital information on the board that would be good to know. If you don’t frequent the board, though, you are left in the dark.

The last book in the series is book no. 6, “Lover Enshrined”. In that book a character appears for the first time, Lassiter. Never heard of the guy and neither has anybody else who only buys her books. On the other hand, if you are a message board reader you will find out tons about him. As J.R. Ward puts it in her interview: “Lassiter comes back…”….”as readers of the series know who are members of my message board…”. As far as the mere readers are concerned, he is not BACK, he just appears for the first time and they know nothing about him.

I find it quite disrespectful towards people who fork out money for books to make information available only to a limited number of people. And don’t come up with stuff like, you could become a member of the board…There are people who don’t go on the net (yes, I’ve heard they exist), there are people who hate message boards, there are people who don’t want to go through a trillion posts on a message board of one author to find some infos on a character in a book. These people still would like to know those things and they have a right to know, too.

For me, if something is not in the book, it doesn’t or didn’t happen.

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Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

I would never have thought that I’d read a book for young adults. I resisted Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series for quite some time, but since the 4th book came out and the discussion started to become lively again, I just had to give it a try. I was told you either hate or love the book(s) and I wanted to find out what it was for me.

Well, obviously times have changed since I was a young adult. Where young girls nowadays are reading Twilight (and go totally nuts about it) I was reading the O’Sullivan Twins by Enid Blyton, LOL. I don’t know whether I’d like my early teen daughter – if I had one – to read Twilight. Even though there is no sex in the book, for reasons other than the couple wouldn’t love to have sex, it is quite a sensual book.

The story is about a new student in Forks, WA, Bella Swan (what a name, can you get more obvious?), who falls in love with a fellow student, Edward. He and his siblings are outsiders in their high school, and Bella is intrigued by him. When Edwards rescues her with superhuman speed and power from an accident she suspects he’s more than meets the eye. You guessed it, he’s a vampire. They fall in love, face some adversary and come out on top – for now. Bella wants Edward to turn her into a vampire, but he refuses and they come to an impasse over this.

I don’t know what to think of Bella. She is a total klutz, Edwards continuously has to rescue her from one accident or other; how she survived her first 17 years is a mystery to me. She has no life whatsoever, apart from Edward. She has no hobbies. Since she is new in Forks, she only made a few friends right at the beginning, but neglects them very soon after she gets entangled with Edward and his vampire "family". Her father, who she lives with now, uses her as a housemaid, she cooks his dinner every night, tidies up, does the laundry…..Excuse me? He has been living alone for a number of years and now that Bella is here he doesn’t lift a finger any more?  I really hope that young girls don’t read this book and think that this is how a girl’s life should be.

I am a sucker for boring books without a lot of external interference and with a lot of internal monologue, so this book was written for me. I enjoyed reading it a lot and got the other three books in the series as well. I loved Edward, even though I could have done with a bit less Bella gushing over him. How often can you say that someone is gorgeous and perfect without being repetitive? I get it.

Oh, and about the glitter part that everybody is so up in arms about. Yeah, ok, Ms. Meyer’s vampire glitter when they go out in direct sun light. So what? Every author makes up their own little vampire world, and if for her, they glitter, what is it to me? Edward and the others have to be able to walk in daylight in order to make the story work. If she’s thrown in a little glitter without explaining why, who the hell cares? After all it is book targeted at GIRLS, and we all love glitter, LOL. I don’t want to read a scientific essay about the reasons for it.

The book is told in first person from Bella’s point of view, which I usually don’t care for. I’d rather see both sides. Stephenie Meyer had planned to write another book about the same story from Edward’s point of view, Midnight Sun, but some thief stole and posted the unfinished manuscript on the net. The book is on hold for now. Ms. Meyer has posted that manuscript now on her own site so interested readers can read the first 250 odd pages.

Want to read more reviews?
This book has also been reviewed at Literary Escapism.

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A concise Chinese – English dictionary for lovers

I picked A concise Chinese-English dictionary for lovers up during our vacation and read it right away within a day. A lovely story about a young woman from China, Zhuang, who comes to London to study English for a year. She meets an English man and falls in love with him. The story is told by Zhuang in English as she speaks it. In the beginning her English is pretty non existent, but gets better very quickly. The books is an interesting "East meets West" story and its ending is bittersweet. If you look for a HEA, then you have to look somewhere else. 

Libri Touches 

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Historical detective series

I’m still reading Anita Blake, but since I have nothing more to say about the books at the moment than what I have said already, I thought I’d list the first batch of my favourite historical detective series. They are set in different time periods and all have something that appeals to me one way or the other.

I always link to one or a few books in the series, but I’m not always sure which one is the first one to start with. Though the books are usually self-contained and can be read out of order. I’d recommend to read them in order, though, since you will get a bit of background knowledge about the various characters.

 

1. Aristotle detective by Margaret Doody

Only three books are out I think. This is quite an interesting series, since the detective is Aristotle with a student as his sidekick.

2. SPQR series by John Maddox Roberts

Not much sleuthing is going on in those books, but you just have to love them. Decius Caecilius Metellus is such a likeable character and his constant brushes with Clodius are just wonderful. The first book is "The King’s Gambit". The books are set in the time of Caesar (they start out when he is still a total nobody) and bring the people to life in a great way. The author sometimes takes real events and gives them a good spin, like inside views of the Catiline conspiracy or the incident when Clodius gatecrashed the rites of Bona Dea dressed as a woman.

3. Marcus Corvinus series by David Wishart

By far my favourite series of all. Marcus Corvinus is a great character. I love his whole household, including his nasty cook, and the whole setting. The time is during Tiberius’ reign and it all starts while Livia is still alive. The first few books center around real historical events. The first one is "Ovid", in which M. C. meets his future wife. The next book "Germanicus" tells the well known story of Varus partly from his own point of view.

4. Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis

I don’t like all of them, but some are just wonderful. Whereas Decius Caecilius Metellus is a Plebeian politician and Marcus Corvinus is a Patrician bon vivant, Marcus Didius Falco is a private detective who actually has to work for his living. The books are set in the time of Vespasian. My favourite ones are:

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Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton

Circus of the Damned is the 3rd book in the series. I have no idea why I’m still reading on, I must be under some sort of spell, I have no other explanation. Anita is starting to seriously get on my nerves. I want to slap her on at least every other page for being the tough girl that she is. What’s wrong with that woman?
Her constant denial of that she feels somewhat attracted to Jean-Claude is extremely annoying once more. She is a professional zombie raiser and necromancer, she continuously stresses her "affinity" towards the dead, yet going out with a "walking corpse" (i.e. vampire) is totally not her cup of tea. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t get that.
In the book two master vampires are fighting for supremacy in the city and she is (once more) getting caught in the middle of it all. The two masters in question are Jean-Claude, whom she knows to be a halfway decent fellow and a certain Mr. Oliver of whom she knows nothing whatsoever. She meets him once and finds he is a nice guy. Based on the one hour meeting – during which he shows remarkable power – she decides that she will betray Jean-Claude and give his identity and location to Mr. Oliver. Bad judgement because Mr. Oliver turns out to be not so nice after all, but then – when the shit hits the fan she does say to Jean-Claude that she is sorry. That must count for something, no? Only through her stout-hearted actions the evil ones are killed and Jean-Claude is rescued, so that makes it all good again. Why Jean-Claude doesn’t give that woman a wide berth after that incident is beyond me.

Apart from all those personality issues I find the idea of having Mr. Oliver dress up like a clown for the final showdown at the circus extremely trite. It just reminds me of Stephen King or maybe Batman. Why do the evil ones always dress up as clowns? Admittedly clowns are pretty frightening, but the idea is so old and hackneyed, it’s time to look for some other fancy dress.

And then Richard….What’s wrong with that guy being attracted to Anita? What on earth are they talking about while they are dating? My reckoning: the conversation centers around whether Anita prefers to carry her gun in a holster under her shoulder or at the small of her back and whether a Browning whatever is preferabe to a Firestar whatever. Then there is the important question to be answered whether to wear a cardigan or a shirt to hide the gun. God, the woman is so boring, it hurts.

BTW, if anybody is wondering about the book titles. They are all various pubs, bars and other locations in the area. Guilty Pleasures is Jean -Claude’s night club, The laughing corpse is a comedy club (owned by Jean-Claude) and the Circus of the Damned is a circus or rather supernatural freak show, managed by – you guessed it – Jean Claude. But hope is near, the Lunatic Café, the next book’s title, is not affiliated with Jean-Claude in any way.

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The laughing corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton

This book started the whole idea of this blog. I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a hero/heroine in a book this much. We’ve had  the whole Anita Blake series for a long time at home. John read them  – he’s all into that vampire stuff -, but stopped reading them when they started to turn into some sort of sex novel around volume no. 9 or 10. When I found out there was the Paranormal Romance genre out there I started reading some books and really liked them. Eventually John told me about LKH and I started to read the Anita Blake series.
“The laughing corpse” is the second Anita Blake book that I have read (after “Guilty pleasures”) and I am not impressed with it.
Anita Blake is a self-righteous, supposedly cool, totally unlikeable person. Her attitude is aggravating to say the least. She doesn’t know when to shut her mouth, pisses the wrong people off at the wrong time and still comes out of every confrontation unharmed.

The descriptions of the murder scenes in the book are gross. To describe the scene once is necessary, but to describe the same stuff again and again is redundant. I’m getting the picture after the first time.

The books are called “vampire hunter novels”, yet so far Anita hasn’t hunted any vampires. Not that I think that vampires need to be hunted per se, but a bit of vampire interaction would be nice. In the first book the “vampire hunter” actually worked FOR the vampires and in the second one there were hardly any vampires.
Jean-Claude was only put in as a minor supporting actor. The whole book deals with zombies of all kinds – a topic that doesn’t do it for me at all.

*SPOILERS*
What annoyed me most was:
– that Anita found out that raising a dead animator has very bad consequences and that that zombie can’t be controlled by the one who raised it. Nevertheless she doesn’t hesitate to raise a whole graveyard, meaning loads and loads of zombies she doesn’t know anything about. What if there are former animators among them?
– that at first Anita wants to bring down Dominga Salvador with legal means and only in case those would fail she would let John Burke deal with her. That resolution didn’t last for long, because as soon as she realizes that Dominga got out on bail (something which is pretty much inside the legal system, even though she obviously reached that by bribery) she decided it’s time to have her killed by the numeours zombies she just raised. Nice double standard.

Guess this book wasn’t for me. At. All.

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bookkeeper or book tosser?

I’m a bookkeeper. I never throw away books, even though sometimes I’d like to. Somehow I can never bring myself to toss a book into the trash can, even if I hated the book. Actually I only read a book the other day that annoyed me so much that I was compelled to write a review on amazon about it. I never did that before. And when I read yet another book in the series I got even angrier. That’s when the thought of creating this blog came up. I’m not planning to only complain about books here though, so stay tuned for some positive stuff as well, :-).