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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Crimson Frost…ok, so I’m officially HOOKED!

I was a few pages into Crimson Frost and realized that as I owned  First Frost
and A Touch of Frost,  it would be smarter to read these first. In pursuit of the Mythos Academy story I jumped online and obtained Kiss of Frost and Dark Frost, and settled in for a two day marathon to bring me up to speed.


I'm glad I did because I just don't think I would have appreciated Gwen 'gypsy girl' and the Crimson Frost episode as much without having the back story. Maybe like me, future fellow readers will also zip online and beg, borrow or buy the previous titles.
Just a long hand way of saying I am really glad I started the life of Gwen from the beginning and that I definitely enjoyed this series!
Crimson Frost maintains the integrity of the previous books where Gwen, the flawed, feisty yet sensitive lead character, chooses her destiny despite the odds. She gains new friends at Mythos Academy, (a school for students from mythological warrior casts including Spartans and Valkyries). 
The students at Mythos are wealthy and indulged for reasons Gwen occasionally comments upon.  Gwen's magical gift is that of psychometry, of touching people and objects and knowing their full story, a mostly harrowing experience. Of course she is at odds with the hierarchy, various groups of fellow students, and is mostly always blamed for problems not of her doing. Gwen and her friends including the lovely Logan brutally clash with the reapers of the god Loki in this age old fight of good against evil. But the unassuming Champion of Nike battles through at great personal cost balanced by friendship and love. The girl without friends wins them the hard way. I enjoy the backchat that happens between her and her sword Vic, her relationships and her commentaries on the staff and students of Mythos. Her more insightful comments on the meaning and use of free will give an added depth to her personality. This series is a marvelous read. Crimson Frost certainly continues the tradition. And yes I cried too!

I have now joined the plethora of fans waiting for Midnight Frost to be released.

A Netgalley ARC

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An enticing quick read

Written with a lively panache and flair that reveals the wit and style of its author, this novel is a treat to read.
I just loved the characters of Louisa and Joseph.
They are a cut above the normal leading lord and lady.

Louisa is brimming with an intelligent sensitivity that’s accompanied by a wonderful sense of humor. Her often ungainly ways hide an astute mind and a heart ready for love.
Louisa however is a woman with secrets.
When we meet her Louisa is considering life as a spinster or failing that, settling for a husband who would want her for considerable dowry, convinced as she is about her unloveliness.
Will it be Lionel of the patchouli oil or the worm Grattlingly?
Joseph, the reluctant war hero is battle scarred and weary.
He is a man full of love and acceptance, a man who can quote poetry and appreciate the unusual. Joseph however is a man with secrets.
The story revolves around the peculiar courtship of these two and is a fun read. Both have big hearts. Both yearn for love. Both enjoy poetry. Both have their secrets.
Are their hearts big enough to handle each other's secrets with respect and integrity and forgiveness?
A joy filled and ultimately tender love story.

A NetGalley ARC

Friday, November 16, 2012

Moonlight and Mechanicals (The Gaslight Chronicles #4)

Great read! I loved this novel so much I bought the rest of the series!
Absolutely enjoyed this foray in the steampunk, paranormal world of the Gaslight Chronicles by Cindy Spencer Pape.

In Moonlight & Mechanicals there’s a dastardly plot afoot!
The queen is in danger!
On the streets of Wapping animals, and people between the ages of 15 and 30, are disappearing. But it’s Wapping. Who’s going to notice? Well, Wink does.
Once more the Knights of the Order are called into action.
 Are the circumstances, animals and people missing, linked?
This is Wink and Liam’s story.

The stories that began with Steam & Sorcery continue.
I loved this title so much that I bought the rest of the series!
A NetGalley ARC

Turn Right at Machu Pichu

…‘the truth is that Machu Pichu is always going to be something of a mystery’
Machu Pichu is on my ‘bucket list.’
My attention to this fabulous site was further piqued by the interview author Mark Adams did about his then, forthcoming book, Turn Right at Machu Pichu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time, with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.
(I had already been talking to friends who had visited there and researched times to visit and costs.)
When NetGalley had this title as an ARC I couldn’t resist it.
As many have said Adam’s work is a factual, entertaining and sometimes humorous read that inspires at least me, to hasten a visit to this fascinating site.
I would love to do it the way Adams did, in the footsteps of Hiram Bingham III.
Alas for me, those days have gone. I can however benefit from Adam’s travels, by increasing my understanding of Machu Pichu from his book, and by planning a less rigorous but satisfying experience of the ‘mysterious’ Machu Pichu. A great read!

So when Machu Picchu Doing It Yourself (Travel) by Alan Swanepoel was free on Amazon I also had to make sure I nabbed it.
My journey towards Machu Picchu goes forward.

Silk gowns and pirate boots!

This is a gem of a novel with all the desired accoutrements.
A strong, coltish female lead, a disfigured deadly stranger of the shadows, deep running magical plots, self-centered attractive women of ethereal slenderness and magical mayhem, and attendant invasive worlds. Great!
Our star is Ananna a pirate captain’s daughter who absconds rather than make a marriage of alliance with the son of a rival pirate clan.
Strangely thoughtful, Ananna has all of a young adult’s attendant awkwardness as she strives to workout her destiny.
I loved the description of her in her silk marriage dress and clunky pirate boots fleeing the wedding proposal with requisite camel.
Her refusal to the marriage means death by assassin.
‘Oh really!’ seems to be Ananna’s response.
She is a thief and a fighter who leaps from one situation to another, that she might later regret.
Throughout the story we are treated to her internal dialogue, liberally sprinkled with her pirate captain father’s advice and memory of her water magic mother’s abilities.
Ananna of course had no magic of her own.
So we have a wealth of situations, interesting characters, camels, deserts, magical islands and oh so much more.
Totally enjoying and now I’m craving the next installment!

A Netgalley ARC

A woman of all Ages for all ages

Set against the biblical background of the Battle of Jericho, Rahab the Canaanite’s story is written with grace, understanding and compassion. Rahab walks strongly across the pages of the book, and in doing so deepened my understanding of the biblical story. To take a well known tale as old as time, and to give a new and compelling vision to it is indeed a gift and Tessa Afshar is without doubt a gifted writer.
Rahab as a young girl is sold into prostitution by her beloved father, yet rather than being annihilated by such a betrayal she demonstrates a vitality of spirit, an awesome strength and intrinsically honorable heart. Rahab hears the voice of God and responds.
The tale of Rahab’s trials, her challenges and very human responses are given a new impetus in this retelling and places her squarely in the forefront of great women of the Bible. This is no woman of the past, of insubstantial being, but rather the story of one who represents the many faces of women throughout time, including today. Her story speaks for ordinary women who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Her response is that of heartbreaking courage.  Rahab is a woman of all ages for all ages. Afshar has given us a very accessible person in her portrayal of Rahab—a portrayal that has the ability to reach out, draw us in and touch us profoundly. An unforgettable story, superbly written, and well worth more than one read.  A great seasonal gift! Pass it forward.  

A NetGalley ARC

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sagara...never disappoints!

Cast in Peril  

‘The worst thing about having a roommate…was morning!’

(Well not counting a dragon for a roommate, an arcane bomb, and Dragons, the Barrani, and Hawk Headquarters in uproar).

And just like that we’re thrown into life with Kaylin Neya. Sagara continues to delight us with the differing facets of the world of Elantra’s Chronicles. The ongoing story of assassin turned Hawk, Private Kaylin and her various acquaintances and companions, drawn from the races found in Elantra, is as exciting today as it was from the very first read.
The wry and delightful humor that undergirds much of Kaylin’s interaction with her world is constantly present. Her relationship with the female dragon Bellusdeo, often bemoaned by Kaylin, is a treasure to be explored further.
We revisit known and loved characters in this continuing and surprising episode of Kaylin. Old friends take on new dimensions, as do old enemies—including ex barrani, now fief Lord, Nightshade, the barrani Hawk Teela, and oldest of friends Severn--a companion from the fiefs, one time Wolf, now Hawk. All frequently surprise, and are in turn surprised!
Kaylin of course remains the ingĂ©nue, from the wrong side of the tracks. The assassin turned Hawk, Guild Midwife, and anti hero, whose gigantic heart doesn't count the cost when helping those in need. Be they barrini, dragon lords, or the lowliest of orphans. More particularly it’s the children that reach into her heart every time. Race or class is no barrier to her.
The interesting acquisition of a familiar (or not as the case may turn out to be)--a small, smoky translucent, glass like dragon or lizard--by Kaylin is puzzling, frequently humorous, often an asset, and full of potential.
Once again, a fabulous addition to an exciting chapter in the being of Elantra!
I can hardly wait for the next book!
A Netgalley ARC

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Red Pole of Macau

The Red Pole of Macau by Ian Hamilton.

Excellent read. A fast paced modern thriller.
The action moves from Toronto to Hong Kong to Macau.
Ava, a forensic accountant, is drawn into her brother's affairs.
Saving the situation will save the family. Ramifications of funds and face are not to be underestimated.
Ava renews old acquaintances and makes new friends.
Well worth reading.

Loved The Red Pole so much that I read the 3 preceeding novels

In fact I've walked over to Avenue & Yorkville to determine where Ava's apartment might be. I think I have it pegged.
To get a further feel about Ava I looked at Brooks Brothers shirts online. If I were Ava's svelte build I'd invest.
Also looked at Shanghai Tang Happiness bags online. Loved the range. Wan't one but don't need one.
Re-lived times in Beijing. Hong Kong, Bangkok, Vancouver and London.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Senses explode!

Reading this novel A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar: A Novel by Suzanne Joinson is a kaleidoscope of colors, scents and times. I love the interplay of characters and times. The descriptive power is such that you are there in the dust and in the fountained gardens. Meeting the smells and sights through the author's word usage is a delight, a whirling evocative happening that evolves into a sustaining and satisfactory experience.
It's 1923 and two missionary women, sisters, travel to the city of Kashgar along the Silk Road, both for very different reasons. One has adventure in mind, the other missionary zeal.
Their story is juxtaposed against the modern day meeting of and Frieda and Tayeb, a refugee from Yemeni, whom Frieda first comes across asleep in her London apartment doorway.  The characters' stories are linked by Frieda inheriting the contents of an apartment belonging to an unknown woman. Times and situations merge into each other under the microscope of this magically crafted novel.
Highly recommended.

A Netgalley ARC

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

… ‘these odd circumstances where soul touches soul are Eucharistic.’

Remember Me by Penelope Wilcock (the 6th in the Hawk and Dove series) takes up and continues to follow the threads of life in the medieval monastery of St. Alcuin.
Father William struggles with the finances of the Abbey, struggles against his falling in love and agonizes over his vows. 
The unraveling of the scroll of life in St Alcuin’s is linked by splashes and splodges of the characters’ very humanness. These people are revealed. They are alive. Their pride, despair, humility, anger and gratitude are teased and held together by the gold of love as vibrant and real as those of the most precious of illuminated manuscripts, filled with precious moments such as Abbott  John’s musings about the Good Thief and the relationship of dismember to remember, in preparation for a homily to the community,
‘…if this life tears a man apart, dismembers him, the power and grace of Christ will remember him, make him whole…’
So enthralled was I by Remember Me, I had to purchase The Hawk and the Dove trilogy immediately.
Now I am able to continue wandering through across this wonderful medieval landscape that is the St Alcuin community.  I am gripped by the lives of those unveiled. I have laughed and cried my way through them and been amazed by Wilcock’s imagery that wrings these emotions from me. Even her simple descriptions of the kitchen gardens are of rendered so that one is present.
Certainly the discovery of new-to-me author, Penelope Wilcock, is a treasure.
I have purchased the 4th and 5th novels, The Hardest Thing to Do and The Hour Before Dawn.
One could go on and on about the revelations of life and wisdom held within these pages.  I won’t!
Read them for yourself. Enjoy!

A netgalley ARC

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

...and the Dynasty continues!

in a Seal in Wolf’s Clothing by Terry Spear.
...so it’s now time to tell the tale Hunter’s sister Marea’s search for a mate.
Finn is a great character and along the way, other interesting werewolves are introduced. There’s Ana, Bearwolf and more of Rauol (turned in Hunter’s story)
The development of the clan and the place of members within that group is the background to the torrid yet tender mating dance between the two main characters. Will they, wont they, should they, shouldn’t they. Will another take Marea?
I like the development of the group, the interplay of characters from one novel to the next. I feel like I’m reading the family chronicles supported by very personal and revealing diaries--and yet the plots are starting to blend into each other, and the differences just aren’t as exciting as the early novels in the series. That said, I will still continue to read any new offerings about this dynasty of which I have become so fond.

A Netgalley ARC

… ‘which was stronger, [Catarina’s] pain or her love for Ivano’

The House of Serenades by Lina Simoni is like a finely woven Italian tapestry. The threads weave in and out of the plot, sometimes woven in golden and crimson hues, at others, in the blackest of black. The interplay of tragic love story and wasted lives is high drama with dark secrets and hidden abuses. The story is at one a catalogue of attitudes to women and the treatment of women in early 20th Century Genoa.
Women of the upper class families are chattels to be bought and sold, to gain fortunes and alliances for their houses. Virginal daughters and sisters are fodder in the war of class, status and wealth.
It is not only fathers and brothers being unkind to wives, sisters and daughters but it is women being unkind to women--be they mothers, daughters or aunts.
This is a surprising story that invites reflection--what is, what could have been and what should have been. Throughout, the music of another century both seduces and repels with overtones of Wuthering Heights.

A netgalley ARC

Sunday, June 24, 2012

of ducks and swans and death and grief (Steampunk ... Yes!)

Have just finished reading, The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey.
Very Peter Carey-ish!

Think about the title as you read it. The words 'chemistry' and 'tears' reflect the novel's intricacies and dissections on a myriad of levels.

Went to hear Carey talk as part of the Luminato festival in Toronto
He was fantastic. Unfortunately eBooks are hard to write on so I had to have other titles signed.

... further thoughts on Chemistry of Tears. I had been hesitantly wondering about its relationship (somewhat tenuously) to the steampunk genre.
Really would have liked to ask Peter Carey about that--but you know how it is...
In the article, Of silver swans and steampunk, in Express Night (05/30/2012) by Stephen M. Deusneri, ! Asking questions in an auditorim full of others! Too theatening!
So imagine my surprise and feelings of vindication re my inuitve leaps when I came across this article where
Carey is quoted as saying that he,
“thinks his new novel, “The Chemistry of Tears,” might fall under the subgenre of “steampunk.”
“The notion, as I (Carey) understand it, is old technology in the modern world,” Carey says. His book has plenty of “old technology” — namely, 19th-century automata, incredibly intricate robots whose clockwork innards allowed them to (stiffly) simulate natural movement”
So, I'm feeling vindicated about my thoughts re steampunk and the novel.
The book showcases Carey at his pithy, puzzling best; relationally and historically, and leaves us with the disquieting reflection of the destruction of mankind by invention of the combustion engine.

Halifax horrors…

Tattooed by Pamela Callow
Lawyer Kate Lange is caught in the middle of clients, friends, painful deaths, past and present lovers, and personal tragedy. Kenzie Sloane’s return to community coupled with the release of the criminal, prison tattooist John McNally, ignites the spark to this racy thriller. All, including Kate are tied to the death of Kate’s sister, Imogene,
Kenzie Sloane is caught in the middle of past mistakes, painful family relationships, and a life made new.
A successful iconic tattoo artist, the person of Kenzie is displayed through her artistic endeavors and her own Japanese inspired body art –chronicling her life’s journey—personal and intriguing.
As Kenzie says to her mother, ‘with strength comes tranquility … and with tranquility strength … that was the idea.’ But can a bright future ever be built on dark deeds from the past?
Unknowingly, Kate and Kenzie are drawn together by a myriad of threads when a mummified body is found in a bog near Halifax, Nova Scotia.
I was fascinated when Kenzie is being questioned by the police in the she continually smoothes her fingers over her tattoos revealing that these are her mantra, her chi and her guide. They give her strength. Her art is her religion.
Complex relations weave in and out of the past and present as this story carries us inextricably forward.
I read the book straight through constantly wondering how the twist and turns would come to fruition.
A satisfactory read.

A netgalley ARC  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Music of the spheres?

The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie 

A Forgotten Castles novel. Book 1
Meet a Cinderella type heroine—even if she does own the crumbling castle, minus the wicked sisters etc. The castle comes with ‘ye olde retainers and loyal village inhabitants’. Our heroine, Alexandria Featherstone, is also the owner of disappeared, antiquities seeking parents who have gone off the map as it ‘were.
Add in a music loving bored duke, Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, appointed Cinders guardian, and the plot becomes intriguing.
Our duke’s sudden loss of hearing is devastating. Music takes a different turn as the story progresses with colors and music having an interesting affinity. I am guessing that this musical relationship will become even more important as the novels develop.
Alexandria undertakes a search for her parents whom the (Mad) King George has declared dead.
Felling that they’re been delayed in their quest, she sets off to find them despite her guardian duke’s command to come to London.
Along the way Alexandria collects protectors.  There’s an English Admiral, a giant Irishman, and a Lord. She also collects foes—two mysteriously dangerous Spaniards and other assorted ne’er do wells.
The story ended somewhat abruptly leaving me hanging for the next volume.  I hate that!
An intriguing storyline a cut above the usual regency romantic mystery … and yes I do want to read that next installment!

A Netgalley ARC

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Planet of the …? …Centaurs?

Centaurs, I thought. Great! The last book I read using horse mythologies was Robin McKinley’s Pegasus. (Read my review) But I must say that with Daughter of the Centaurs (Centauriad #1) by Kate Klimo, I felt like I’d stumbled into the centaur equivalent of planet of the Apes. (I noticed later that other reviewers referenced this as well)
Many, many times I wondered if Malora’s sympathy for centaurs is misplaced. I definitely don’t like them very much. Why, I kept thinking have you given up your horses, your independence for this lot?
I see in the Centaurs' attitudes, overtones of the nobility prior to the French Revolution. Yet it's Malora's very aloneness (is she the last human alive?) that forces her to seek companionship and approval even with those outside her ken, yet somehow close enough to draw strength from, although she is treated as some sort of exotic exhibit. The ability to communicate opens possibilities and lessens the solitude. At times this is an interesting read with promise, even if annoying.
I give it 2 ½ stars. I didn’t hate it but it just squeaks into ok by a mere thread.
I hope the Centauriad series develops its potential with an enlivened thrust and crosses that squeaky line, hanging by more than a mere thread, if I may mix my metaphors.

... dastardly deeds in dark forests

Prepare for a touch of The Illuminati meets the Knights Templar.  Set during the Regency era, the members of the Inferno Club, outrageous gentlemen of the first water, who in secret protect the realm from spurious enemies, are worried that one of their own had been damaged beyond recall and turned traitor by the torturous captivity he's endured.
Emily Harper, the Earl of Westwood's childhood friend and gamekeeper's daughter, believes in him with an unwavering and unflinching loyalty and love. She trails the Earl across Europe to give him what support she can. Naturally, the headquarters of the enemy faction is in a secretive forest area somewhere in a German/Bavarian type state.
Full of dastardly deeds by evil would be conquerors, Gaelen Foley's My Ruthless Prince, presents us with a strong heroine who seeks to rescue her childhood friend, and in doing so, his sanity.
Emily's innocent and unwavering support and love opens the way for a relationship that in society's eyes is seemingly impossible.  Of course the Earl realizes that Emily's very innocence marks her for the sort of heinous attention by the enemy that must be averted. In the depths of a darkly medieval forest, both physically and psychologically, danger is fueled by fear and love, and passion steams into being.
Reference to other stories in the series is made via the wives of members of the club.
A fairly predictable but okay read.

A Netgalley ARC

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Interwoven Biblical tenets from the muse of Austen!

A Jane Austen Devotional is certainly an unusual and pleasing work. It filters scripture through the eyes of characters and situations throughout Austen novels, and ultimately of course through Jane herself.
In opening scriptural direction and reflection for us via the understandings of Austen, her times and her characters, the publisher Thomas Nelson has combined two of the best of English literary achievements—the Bible and Austen to bring forth a bold and refreshing take on the nature of the Devotional.
I admit there are understandings and links that I would wish to challenge. For me that makes this such an interesting method of inspirational reading. I am able to dialogue with the work, to reflect and challenge my own scriptural explorations and understandings.
And I do this whilst revisiting my favorite Austen novels, characters and situations.
The devotional certainly tweaked my curiosity about Nelson’s other offering in this series, A Charles Dickens Devotional, Dickens being another of my favorite English Literature writers.
A fascinating new look at Scripture and Austen for Austen fans so minded.

A NetGalley ARC

Vive La France! ...and French cooking tips

I confess I have always been doubtful about slow cookers. I know people swear by them. But I’m a cook who loves to be in the kitchen stirring, tasting, adding this and that.
Certainly my experience of other’s Slow Cooking has been Mac ‘n Cheese, tough Chicken in some sort of Sauce, or beef gone wrong. Some good some bad all less than stellar!
In light of this, when the words ‘slow cooker’ surface, all I can think of is those horrific experiences, shudder and turn back to my trusty pots n’ pans.
But now! There is Slowing Cooking- a la gourmet style. Vive La France! (or in this case the French Cooks!)
My mouth watered as I read through The French Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone and I am almost convinced that this method will be for me. I say almost because I have to purchase the cooker. My slow cooker (that I used once and then it went the way of the Hard Rubbish Collection) had been bought at a garage sale and was nowhere near as swish and user friendly as those to be found in the chapter entitled Choosing a Slow Cooker.
The chapters are well laid out; explanations are great and recipes accessible. The lamb recipes, particularly Lamb Shanks are appealing (I am so…ooo a lamb lover). The other red meat recipes seem excellent also.
Had I had this book ages ago my household would have run differently and the children may have eaten before .  Now they all eat at so at least the grandkids aren’t starving or learning to snack or going to bed on full stomachs like they did.
This is a great book for those of us scared stiff by ‘The Slow Cooker’…Slow cooking with verve, panache and style. What more can one ask for.
A Netgallery ARC

Sunday, January 1, 2012

'the mist that had seemed a benevolent veil ... became a shroud, suffocating and dangerous.'

This early line sets the stage for the intricacies and complexities that follow in the captivating historical romance, The Price of Temptation by Lecia Cornwall.  That which is seemingly benevolent is malignant. Our heroine Lady Evelyn Renshawe is disgraced. She is an outcast in society through no actions of her own, but by those of her traitorous husband who has pretentions to the French courts and Napoleon’s friendship at a time when England and France are at war. Harassed on all sides, lady Evelyn contends with her society acquaintances’ disdain, her uncaring family waiting in the wings to dispose of her and her husband’s fortune, a despicable cad pretending friendship all the while seeking her wealth, and now the French wanting a flag, an important icon, stolen by her treacherous husband--as do the English! No wonder the hiring of Sam as a footman (in reality Captain Sinjon Rutherford who rescued her in the park), seems like a god send. Of course, Captain Rutherford has his own reasons for inserting himself into her household. Evelyn’s support until the advent of Sam has been elderly staff and one other friend whose husband it turns out is the King’s spymaster. The unraveling of the story surrounding this innocent woman, beleaguered on all sides, is a good let’s-get-away-from-it-all read. The storyline has nicely judged twists and turns, intrigues enough to take the book beyond the ordinary regency romance. Well read!
3 ½ stars!

A netgalley ARC