Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Losing time - P.R. Ford

Losing time by P.R. Ford
I have to admit that science fiction, which is what this book would probably be classified as, isn't something that I naturally reach for. Having said that, I do enjoy Dr Who, the odd Star Trek, Star Wars and similar, so it's not completely off the scale, but it's certainly not something I often read. The idea of this book though, interested me, so I decided to give it a go. 

Helen's father disappeared years before, when she was just a teenager, seeming to leave the world without a trace. Now in her 30's she suddenly receives a post card and other items that hint that he may have been in Ireland, she sets off to see if she can find any clues to where he went.

Strange things start to happen to Helen, she finds herself in different times and dimensions and it becomes clear that this is all somehow linked to what happened to her father and where he went. 

As Helen investigates and learns more about the alien people that she comes in contact with, it seems that she has more chance of finding where her father went and what happened. She also starts to learn more about who she is. At the same time, someone or something seems to be hunting her. Who are they? What do they want? What is it about Helen that they seem to need?

There was a lot going on in this book, new worlds and dimensions, as well parts of the book which took place in the past. It would have been very easy to get lost in the whole story and array of characters, but the story kept me gripped and wanting to know what was going to happen. There was a small section in the middle, which I felt was perhaps a little bit slow moving, and could possibly have benefited from being edited down a little bit to keep up the pace of the narrative, but it certainly wasn't enough to make me want to stop reading, and things soon picked up again.

The only real down side to the story, was that it left a lot of things hanging at the end, which of course just makes me want to read the next instalment, and sadly I'm going to have to wait for that to be written. A great first book though, recommended.

Monday, 22 February 2016

The Lake House - Kate Morton

The Lake House by Kate Morton
I hadn't read any of Kate Morton's books, prior to starting the Lake House, so I really wasn't sure what to expect. Although I read this as part of a mystery reading group that I'm part of, there was a lot more going on here than your usual murder mystery.

The story was spread across a number of different times and locations. It focused on the mysterious disappearance of the young son of a local family after their midsummer night celebration. The disappearance had a huge impact on the family, the effects of which are still felt decades later, with the two surviving sisters, who were in their late teens at the time, now being in their eighties.

Sadie Sparrow, a police detective, stumbles upon the mystery while holidaying with her Grandfather. She has been sent on enforced sabbatical after causing issues at work, she finds herself with time on her hand, and once she finds out about the story, she starts to investigate. 

The story switches between the inter-war years when the disappearance happened and modern day, with more details of what happened and why being revealed slowly. Although the sisters have had their own ideas about what happened all of those years ago, it becomes clear that there was far more happening than they first realised.

I loved this book as I read it, the detail and description were lovely. It painted a clear picture and feel of the time. There was a slight downfall towards the end of the book. Although I like to see all of the various threads tied up, this one was a little too neat. Everything seemed to weave together, even though there was no obvious connection before hand. For me, it was all a little bit too neat and convenient. There were sub stories that either became part of the main story, or in one case just glossed over and barely mentioned. It was a shame as I'd really loved everything that had come before, and then end just stopped it from being a really good book. Still worth a read though.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Her Wicked Proposal - Lauren Smith

Her wicked proposal - Lauren Smieth
Last year, I won a copy of the second book in Lauren Smith's League of Rogues series; His Wicked Seduction. I don't like starting a series mid way through, so I went back and bought the first book in the series; Wicked Designs. I quickly fell in love with both the League of Rogues and Lauren Smith's writing. Since then, I've been waiting for the third book in the series to come out, when it arrived a few weeks back on my kindle (having pre-ordered it as soon as I could) I had to start reading straight away. (In case you're wondering, I tend to be a couple of weeks behind in my reviews).

The League of Rogues are a group of handsome Rogues, who stick together through thick and thin, in Regency England. First meeting at Cambridge, they have been there for one another ever since. Indulging in all kinds of roguish behaviour, especially when it comes to women, one by one, the men find themselves meeting and falling in love with, their perfect women and doing what they thought they never would; marrying and settling down.

In book three, two of the Rogues have already found their partners. Life for Cedric, Viscount Sheridan though, hasn't been going well. Having lost his sight in a fire, he feels like a shell of his former self. No longer the dashing, confident man about town, he thinks that he no longer fits with his old life and lacks confidence when he goes out. 

Anne Chessley suddenly finds herself pursued by every fortune hunter in London, after the death of her beloved father. She approaches Cedric and suggests that they marry, saving her from the fortune hunters and him from his half life since the accident. Cedric agrees, but under the condition that it is more than a marriage of convenience, that they are fully husband wife in the bedroom, with all the passion that that implies.

Anne has a reputation of being an ice maiden, but there's far more to her than first appears. Not only have Cedric and Anne been drawn to one another since they first met, but Anne's stand offish temperament is down to a traumatic incident from her past. The threat that hangs over all of the League is still very much in evidence and threatens the couple, taking Cedric's eyesight was not enough...

I really love this series, although the second book is still my favourite so far, I love the stories and the way that the characters develop. There are still plenty of scenes with the previous couples that we've met and the other members of the league, which help give this series far more depth and story than many other regency romances have, without slipping into the ridiculous, as some less well written books have a tendency to do. 

I love Lauren Smith's writing style and she certainly knows how to write a steamy love scene and build a romance. While I've been loving her other books and series that she's been writing, it was the League of Rogues that I first fell in love with and like a first love, they'll always have a special place in my heart and be the ones that I look forward to coming back to the most. I only wish I didn't have to wait to read the next book in the series, I'm really looking forward to Ashton's story, especially after the little glimpses and hints of what's to come that we've been getting in this book.

League of Rogues and in this case Her Wicked Proposal? Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

A Midsummer's Kiss - Meara Platt

A Midsummer's Kiss - Meara Platt
I've read and loved the previous books in Meara Platt's Farthingale Series, so I was really excited when I found that book four was due out. If you haven't come across this series before, this series follows the romances of the Farthingale sisters. In the course of the books, we learn about each sister in turn and their journey to find their partner. 

It is a little unusual, as the series is running in reverse order, starting with twins Lilly and then her identical sister Dilly, moving onto next oldest sister Daisy. In this latest book we're up to second oldest sister Laurel. It is a little odd doing it this way around, we already know who everyone is going to end up with, as they are already with their husbands in the earlier books. I am tempted, as I've seen others suggest, to read them all again in chronological order when the fifth book comes out.

In each of the previous books, the Farthingale daughter in question finds their husband to be after a meeting in Chipping Way, where their London town house is located. For Laurel, this meeting takes the form of knocking over Lord Graelem Dane with her horse, and breaking his leg. Feeling remorseful, she quickly offered to do anything to make it up to him. Graelem has come to London to find a wife in order to secure his inheritance. If he doesn't marry by Midsummer's day, then he will forfeit his estate. As he is unlikely to be able to attend the social scene with a broken leg, he quickly takes Laurel up on her offer to do anything and says that he wants her to marry him.

Laurel (of course) feels drawn to this mysterious and handsome stranger, but doesn't want to be rushed into a marriage. She still feels incredibly guilty though about what has happened and spends time with him, finding herself drawn to him more and more.

Like the previous books in the series, the story is lovely and the growing romance between Laurel and Graelem works well. Of course, having read the other books in the series, you always know that they will end up together, although, of course, when it comes to the romance genre, we often know that in any case. It doesn't detract from the story or the way it unfolds though and it is great to get to know the characters that we've only had small glimpses of in the previous books. I'm looking forward to reading the next one in the series when it comes out.

Friday, 12 February 2016

When I Fall in Love - Wendy Lindstrom

When I fall in love - Wendy Lindstrom
When I Fall in Love by Wendy Lindstrom is a bit of an odd one, it's counted as number seven in the Grayson Brothers' series, but it is actually set before the other six. Not that a prequel is that unusual, but of course we know how this one is going to end. Having said that, this is a romance book, so I suppose the end is hardly a surprise in any case.

I have read and enjoyed the other books in the series, starting with the four Grayson brothers' stories, and then moving onto the next generation in novella form for book five and full story some years later for book six, so of course I couldn't resist going back to find out about how the parents got together.

The story begins with Hal Grayson, loosing his brother and work mate John, in an accident. Consumed with grief and a little guilt, he suddenly finds that his brother had arranged for the arrival of a mail order bride to be. Although he knows that he should send her straight back home, there's just something about her that makes him want to let her stay.

Nancy Mitchell has left her home and her family, to travel to a new town, and marry a man she has never met. Faced with the prospect of a marriage to man she could never love, but that her beloved sister does love, she feels that her only option is to get away and marry someone else. When she finds out that her intended is dead, she decides that she would rather stay and marry his brother Hal.

Of course, as is often the way with these things the course of true love never did run smooth, but Hal and Nancy fall for one another as they learn more about each other. Even so, Nancy is still hiding something from Hal, something she is worried that he will never forgive.

The whole story is well written and although quite sweet, it does have it's slightly steamier moments. I liked the idea of Nancy, who had come from a wealthy background, trying to learn about cooking and house keeping, throwing herself into the tasks willingly. The only slight problem with this, is that being a prequel, I already know what is in store for the couple further down the line, even if it is much further down the line, which does tinge it all with a slightly bitter-sweet feeling. But perhaps that's me just me being a bit silly? It wasn't my favourite of the Grayson Brothers' series, but it was certainly an enjoyable one that I'd recommend. 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

One Corpse Too Many - Ellis Peters

One Corpse Too Many - Ellis Peters
I told you that I wouldn't be able to resist starting the next Cadfael novel before too long. I had to reserve One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters and have a read. As I think I mentioned before, this is the book that many people suggest you start with. Unlike the first book, the story takes place in Shrewsbury and we are introduced to a number of characters which I think appear in later novels.

The story is set around the siege of Shrewsbury by the King, Stephen, while the leaders of that town were supporters of the Empress Matilda (also known as Maud), who had a rival claim to the throne. The town soon falls and after many men are executed (which isn't dealt with in any graphic way) Cadfael is sent to tend to the bodies of the men and arrange Christian burials for them. Among the bodies, is the body of a man who clearly was not one of the executed soldiers, and is one corpse more than should have been there.

Cadfael sets out to discover the identity of the body and find out what happened. But this is not all that is going on. He finds himself with a boy to help him with his herbs and garden, but this 'boy' is in fact no boy at all, rather a girl in hiding, something which Cadfael quickly spots. Not only must he keep her safe from the Kings men in the area, he must also hide her from the man she was previously betrothed to, Hugh Beringar.

As the story progresses Cadfael admires Hugh Beringar's cunning and skill and although he is not at all sure of his motives or if he is at all trust worthy, he certainly appreciates him as an adversary.

Again the story was entertaining to follow and although I did wonder as to the idea of the killer before the end, they were only one in a cast of many that I suspected before the final review. I think that I'll be reading another one in the not too distant future, I think that the Cadfael books are a series that I'll be following this year.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Think before you speak.

It's a wonderful thing the internet, you can find out all kinds of information, you can learn about different people, with different ideas, you can travel and experience different cultures without leaving the comfort of your armchair. Or, you can behave like a dick. 

The great thing about being on line, is that you don't actually see people, or interact with them in a way that you would if you were face to face, so it can give you the courage to say things that you might never say in person. You can have debates with people that you've never met before, and express your point of view about all manner of topics. The problem is though, that it can give you the courage to say things that you might never say in person and have debates with people you've never met before... you get the idea.

Every so often, things get blown out of all proportion, people get angry and feelings get hurt. Never a good thing. Often when this happens, someone will post a THINK meme. It's a great idea in theory, think before you speak (or type). It's even been turned into a little acronym. T is it thoughtful, H is it honest, I is it inspiring, N is it necessary, K is it kind. Now, I should say, before going any future, that I have no issue with actually thinking before you say anything, if nothing else, you're far less likely to make a fool or yourself, but this particular idea? I'm not keen on at all.

Think before you speak

T; is it thoughtful? To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what this even means, is it thoughtful? Meaning have you thought about it? Or thoughtful in the sense that it thinks of someone else. Really it does depend on where and what is being posted, but does everything we comment on need to be thoughtful? Valid and true, but if it's something that needs to be said or talked about, then I'm not sure about thoughtful.

H; is it honest? As with all of these things, it will depend on what's being talked about, but is it honest? Is it truthful, yes, it's best not to be making things up to back up your stance, I'm not sure that I'd call this being honest necessarily though. Of course being honest to yourself about why you feel like this is important.

I; is it inspiring? Now this one, I happen to think, is a load of rubbish. If I were only to ever write or say things that were inspiring, then I'd never say or write anything. Does something have to be inspiring to be valid? Of course not. Should you always try to be inspiring? Well, if you really must, although I suspect that you're more likely to sound as though you're full of yourself.

N; is it necessary? I can agree with this one a little bit more than the others. If you're having a disagreement or a discussion, then it's always worth thinking about if it's necessary. Do you really need to get into an argument? Are there things to be gained by it, or is the person that you're talking to just actually winding you up and you want to retaliate?

K; is it kind? I'm not going to suggest that you should be actively unkind, but being kind, or at least outwardly so, isn't always the best thing to do. Sometimes, things need to be said, or discussed, and it might seem very unkind to the person you are discussing them with to bring them up, but they might need to be said. 

Perhaps I'm reading too much into all of this, there's no doubt that some pretty nasty comments get made on facebook and other places on line, but I'm not sure that this nicey-nicey approach is actually all that much better. Yes, you should always think before you speak or post, but you should also be true to yourself and your ideals. Don't be afraid of standing up for what's important and what you believe in, just don't be a dick about it.

Monday, 1 February 2016

A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters

A morbid taste for bones - Ellis Peters
I have read some of the Cadfael books, many years ago, when the television series was on (which I also loved) but although I enjoyed them, it's a long time since I picked up one of them to rea. This was the first book in the series, although, it would seem that many people suggest starting with the second instead. 

The reason for this seems to be that this book, although featuring some of the characters from the later books, is in many ways a stand alone novel. Not set in Shrewsbury, for the most part at least, it instead follows Cadfael and some of the other Monks on a journey into Wales in an attempt to gain possession of the remains of Saint Winifred and claim them for themselves, or rather for their Abbey.

This is actually based on real events, the Monks really did go to the grave of this Welsh Saint and remove her bones, taking them to the Abbey at Shrewsbury and installing them in a shrine there. What the local Welsh population may have made of this at the time, I don't know, but I did enjoy Ellis Peters handling of the story. (I should perhaps here, make slight mention of the fact that Ellis Peters is in fact a nom de plume for Edith Pargeter, I wasn't actually aware of that prior to reading this book, and I'll be honest in saying that I hadn't come across her under her 'real' name prior to this, I'd just assumed that Ellis Peters was a man.)

We are introduced to the character of Brother Cadfael, a somewhat worldly Monk, who has taken orders later in life, having had much experience of man (and woman) and their faults before hand. He treads the line between the Church and secular Medieval life, It's this life experience that makes him ideal to be our detective and guide through the story, leading up to discover whodunnit and why.

There is something hugely likeable about Cadfael, perhaps his contentment with his life in the Abbey, without ever fully embracing every aspect or idea that goes with it? He is kind hearted, generous, understanding and wise. 

The story itself is, although perhaps a little slower moving that some other murder mystery novels, very interesting and entertaining, and the final explanation and reveal satisfying. I suspect that I will be reading more of these novels in the series before much longer.