Sunday 30 October 2011

Halloween Read.....


It's the weekend, and the weather, for curling up by a roaring fire in order to read a spooky ghost story...this year to celebrate Halloween,  I  have decided to go for the mostly aptly named book in my arsenal....a book about Witches, Daemons and Vampires - what could be better.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it's an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent deaths of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she's kept at bay for years-one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana's discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford,among them enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn towards Matthew and in the shadowy world of half truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each pother deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels.....

I'll add my thoughts when I've finished reading and as it's quite a hefty book - it may take me the whole of Halloween to get through it.


๐Ÿ“– My Halloween Read 2011 ๐Ÿ“–

Research historian Diana Bishop is a witch from a long line of esteemed witches, and yet she refuses to use her skills. Whilst researching ancient documents in Oxford's Bodleian Library, she unwittingly unleashes the power of Ashmole 782 an ancient alchemical manuscript. But once unleashed, the catalytic effect of this ancient document will turn Diana's well ordered life upside down.

Meticulously researched, Deborah Harkness has created a world within a world, which is believable and utterly compelling to read.

I loved it, and can't wait until book two is published in 2012.


Tuesday 25 October 2011

World Book Night 2012

How exciting !

I am delighted that the chosen books have been revealed for the 2012 World Book Night Giveaway. The whole venture was a great success last year -and the chosen books for 2012 are even better. I'm delighted that so many of my favourite books are in the chosen list....

World Book Night 2012

World Book Night 2012 is 23 April - the designated UNESCO Day of the Book and this year for the first time the USA will be taking part. A designated US website will be launched in December.

These are my favourite books:

The Book Thief - Marcus Zusack
Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
Room - Emma Donoghue
The Alchemist - Paul Coelho
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

Monday 24 October 2011

Review - The Christmas Angel by Marcia Willett

When seasonal reads drop through your letter box it seems like Christmas is just around the corner. I fell for this book as soon as I saw the cover -

Reminiscent of the work of Rosamund Pilcher, Maeve Binchy, - it's a sweet story, and would make a perfect Christmas present for anyone who likes family sagas and wholesome reads.

The Christmas AngelThe Christmas Angel by Marcia Willett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4paws - too many dogs for his liking - but he loved Jakey !!

Five year old Jakey lives with his widowed father Clem, in an old coach house which is attached to the nunnery at Chi- Meur, in Cornwall. The four aged nuns, who live in the main house, are looked after by Janna, who lives in a caravan in the grounds of the nunnery, and who is the provider of the special picnics that Jakey finds irresistible. The idyllic landscape that surrounds the nunnery is under threat from an avaricious property developer, who wants to buy the nunnery and turn it into a hotel, but to do so would mar this tranquil site forever.

This charming book captures from the opening page, and gently ushers the reader through a myriad of emotions. Throughout the story there is an overwhelming theme of family, and the stability that comes from being loved and needed is expertly explored. The characterisation is excellent, not only is Jakey adorable, but also the supporting cast of nuns, family members and assorted dogs add a special richness to the story. The wild Cornish beauty is beautifully illustrated, and as with all Marcia Willett’s novels, the landscape forms an important part of the narrative.

Overall, there is a quiet gentleness to this story which belies its strength, and it is indicative of Marcia Willett’s skill as a writer, that such a delightfully warm story captivates without becoming overly sentimental.

On a personal level I enjoyed this story; it is very easy to read, and as its title suggests would make a perfect seasonal read.

I reviewed this book for newbooksmag

Thursday 20 October 2011

Review- The Painted Lady by Maeve Haran

Having recently read the excellent and bawdy restoration romance - The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell, I was interested to read another restoration rendition. This time by the English author, Maeve Haran.

The Painted Lady by Maeve Haran

Pan 2011

This well written historical novel tells the story of Frances Stuart, the beautiful ingรฉnue who captured the heart of a king.When sixteen year old  Frances arrives at the English court, her vulnerability and innocence acts as a magnet to a King who is well adept at getting what he wants from women, and yet he can't accept that this one women is beyond his reach. There was endless speculation at the time about "La Belle Stuart" and her relationship with the King, and the "have they, or haven't they" element to their romance added fuel to 17c gossip mongers.

Beautifully descriptive of the restoration period this book brings to life the glittering court of Charles II. The rivalry that existed between the king's mistresses is expertly captured, and yet it's refreshing to read a restoration romance that doesn't involve graphic descriptions of Charles II's sex life !

I enjoyed it, and hope that Maeve Haran continues to write such good historical fiction.


Sunday 16 October 2011

A little bit of knitting going on..

Well for those of us who like to make hand made gifts - I guess the countdown to Christmas is started ...

Here are my latest little bitty bags...

They are great fun to make and look good on their own or used as gift bags and filled with nice toiletries or a favourite book...

And Knitted Bags are on trend this year !!

Friday 14 October 2011

Review- The Dressmaker by Posie Graeme Evans

It's been five years since Posie Graeme Evans published a new story - here it is ....

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4paws

When tragic circumstances force Ellen Gowan, and her mother,Constance to leave their rural home and escape into Victorian London, it is inevitable that this move will be fraught with danger. Ellen is a very naive character, and on the premature death of her mother, she is easily seduced by an unscrupulous man, and is left pregnant and alone. However, her extraordinary skill as a dressmaker will prove to be her saviour, and will take her from despair, through to glittering success.

Initially the book gets off to a slow start, the description Ellen's early life as a curate's daughter in rural England is ponderous, but once the story moves to London and her adult life, the story really  takes off  and becomes reminiscent of the social commentary of Jane Austen, combined with the Victorian detail of Charles Dickens.

I've waited a long time for another book from Posie Graeme Evans and whilst this one didn't grab my attention quite as much as her previous War of the Roses trilogy, it does reiterate her skill as a talented story teller and I look forward to her next book - hopefully not too long away..

Monday 10 October 2011

Review - Now You See Me by S J Bolton

Now You See MeNow You See Me by S.J. Bolton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 4paws

This book is a slight deviation from S J Bolton's previous three novels, but soon into the story you realise that this is no run of the mill crime story, and Lacey Flint is not an ordinary detective.

The story is dark and brutally graphic from the opening page, and whilst the violent crime scenes are distracting, they are integral to the story, and vital for the development of the investigation.

As always the writing is excellent, Bolton has a great gift for macabre story telling - very few authors make me "jump" at shadows, but this book read late at night is guaranteed to cause a few anxious looks into dark spaces.

I'm delighted to learn that there will be a sequel to Now You See Me - featuring Lacey Flint and Mark Joesbury  - DEAD SCARED is due to be published in 2012

Thursday 6 October 2011

Outlander - 20 years on....

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Nearly twenty years ago Cross Stitch landed at my feet quite literally when I was searching the library shelves for a good book to read. Intrigued by the title, and more than a little curious to see just how a twentieth century nurse would fare in eighteenth century Scotland, I took the book home.

Captivated by the opening chapter and in love with Jamie by page 100, I read on until my eyes ached with weariness. Time, quite simply, ceased to matter; I existed in a parallel universe, one which was driven by passion and historical intrigue, alive with superstition and dangerously addictive. I devoured every word; I climbed the castle stairs at Leoch, I sat in the great hall and listened to the story teller, I watched with awe the beauty of two people falling in love, and then ranted at the injustice and cruelty of His Majesty’s dragoons. The raw beauty of the Scottish highlands came alive, and the hopes and dreams of a proud nation were expertly captured in the essence of a proud young warrior.

By the time the story was finished Cross Stitch was in the very fabric of my bones, it was in the beat of my heart, and I was obsessed, not just with Jamie, but with the whole Outlander experience. It is the benchmark by which I judge all other books, and the one book I would save if the house was on fire.

This book was released in July 2011 in time for the twentieth anniversary of its first publication, and now thanks to a bunch of wonderful American friends I have my very own copy,actually signed and dedicated to me by Diana Gabaldon.

......I am a very happy Sassenach....

Outlander is also known by the title Cross Stitch 

© Diana Gabaldon 1991


Monday 3 October 2011

Review- Before I go to Sleep by S J Watson

This book certainly got October off to a fine start.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
jaffa's rating 5paws - he loved this one too !

This tense psychological thriller grips you from the opening page and takes you on a roller-coaster of a ride until its thrilling conclusion.

Christine has severe amnesia, so that when she wakes everyday she needs to be reminded of her life. Her cherished memories have been wiped out, and nothing of what she holds dear remains in her mind for more than a few minutes. When she is encouraged to record her limited memories in a journal, she begins to doubt everything she has been told by her husband and strives to discover the truth.

What scared me about this book is how easily it could happen - and just how precious are our memories.

I loved it - this will be in my top ten reads of 2011. I am delighted to discover that the book has been acquired for film by Ridley Scott's production team, Scott Free. It will be a stunning film.

Read it if you can.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Blog Award..

Jaffa and I have been given a lovely blog award from Lindsay - What a great idea - Thank You - we are really delighted to be included as one of your choices.

The Rules are:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave the award to you

2. Share 7 things about yourself

3. Send it along to 15 other bloggers and let them know you have awarded them !

The 7 things you might not might not know about me are:

1. I enjoy walks in the countryside
2. Autumn is my favourite time of year
3.I love the colour Purple
4.My favourite meal is fish and chips
5. I love Darjeeling tea from proper china cups
6.I love cats
7. I love to read poetry

Now for the best part. The blogs I'm awarding are:

Thank you to everyone who reads our blog - jaffa and I are always happy to see you here....
Come back soon.