Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #7 Rules of Murder



"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm looking forward to  Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering. The blurb says Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie. OK, I'm in. A murder mystery in a 1930's country house... but this time the sleuth is the lord of the manor, a young heir who decides to try and solve the mystery by himself... along with a beautiful American debutante and houseguest. I read the excerpt at Amazon and liked it. Publication date is August but I think this is already available. I'm going to be all over this.  

I love that cover BTW. 

Rules of Murder

From Goodreads

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.
Soon, financial irregularities at Drew’s stepfather’s company come to light and it’s clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer–and trying harder to impress Madeline–Drew must decide how far to take this game

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Teaser Tuesday #7



Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading

To participate you grab your current read, open to a random page and share (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INLUDE SPOILERS (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others). Share the title and author too.

" ' All this "I have nothing to offer you and it is only right that I should release you from our engagement" is nothing but hog-wash. The truth is, he's tired of the girl and wants rid of her."

Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean p. 153

Bellfield Hall (A Dido Kent Mystery, #1)

This is a murder mystery set in a country house in 1805. A called off engagement, a body found in the shrubbery, and drawing room drama- what's not to like?

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's Monday. What Are You Reading? #5



It's Monday! What Are You Reading is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey and is a great way for others to  find out what you are planning to read this week and, best of all, see what others are reading.

Last week I finished

Letters from Skye: A Novel Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Reviews are here and here. I also participated in the High Summer Read-a-thon and that was a blast!

This week

 A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)


A Dance with Dragons- this is a reread for me and I'm taking my time with it, as I read other things. Always enjoyable though. I'm actually taking a few notes here and there, so I don't forget plot points. Never done that before!


Sunday, July 28, 2013

High Summer Read-a-thon: Wrap Up




















Well the High Summer Read-a-thon has come to an end- my first read-a-thon. It was fun and I'll definetly be doing these again. Thanks so much to Michelle at True Book Addict for hosting this, and for Laura at Booksnob for the challenge. Good job guys!!

So how did I do? I set a goal of 3-4 books and got through 3. I'm pretty happy with that. Here's what I got through this week.

Letters from Skye: A Novel

Reviewed on Tuesday.

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Finished this one Friday night.

The Land that Time Forgot: The Land that Time Forgot, The People that Time Forgot, Out of Time's Abyss

Finished this over the weekend. This one I snuck in because I wanted to get at least 3 in, how lame would it be if I only read 2?? So here it is... I'll be reviewing this next Friday for my occasional Old School review feature. A nostalgia read.

How did your read-a-thon go?

Sunday Post #4



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

It's been an interesting week. I reviewed Letters from Skye on Tuesday and had an opportunity to meet the author a day later. Good timing! And of course the High Summer Read-a-thon! Yay! I set a goal of 3-4 books and got through 3. I had a midweek slump but then picked up the pace a bit towards the end.

July 22nd   It's Monday. What Are You Reading?
July 23rd   Teaser Tuesday  
July 23rd   Review: Letters from Skye
July 24th   Waiting on Wednesday  
July 25th   Author Event: Jessica Brockmole 
July 26th   Feature and Follow Friday
July 27th   Review: Grave Mercy
July 27th   Saturday Snapshot

Coming Reviews:

Bellfield Hall (A Dido Kent Mystery, #1)

How was your week?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Snapshot #1

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at West Metro Mommy Reads

To participate in Saturday Snapshot post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a link to your post at Melinda's site. Photos can be old or new, and be any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes. How much detail you give is in the captions is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.











Review: Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers is the story of Ismae, a young girl who is more than she seems. For she is no mere girl- she is a handmaiden of Death. Born into a peasant family and sold by her father to an abusive husband, her future looks bleak. Things change however when she is spirited away to a convent- but this is no ordinary convent. For the nuns here serve Death as well.  

Ismae is to be an assassin. Plucked away from her old life of misery she is trained in combat, the art of poison, the ways of love. The convent serves Brittany but its ways are mysterious and shrouded in the pagan traditions of old. While the country is nominally Christian, the old ways are still followed by many and the old saints still hold sway. It is one of these old saints that gives the convent its authority.

The year is 1485, the place Brittany. The presumptive duchess is Anne, a twelve year old girl who has been betrothed to many of the princes of Europe and is beset on all sides by enemies. The French in particular are hungry to add the duchy of Brittany to their holdings, and due to a recent treaty they claim the right to approve any marriage she makes. Anne and her advisors are desperate to find a way to keep Brittany independent- but there is a spy at court reporting to the French regent, and the situation is dire.

Anne’s half brother Duval is her greatest ally and closest confidante, and she appears to trust him implicitly. When Ismae and Duval cross paths, the sparks fly. Ismae is on her first mission, to eliminate a traitor and she runs into Duval in the process. They appear to be working at cross purposes. Their paths cross a second time, and Duval comes to the convent to find out why the nuns are eliminating people he is trying to make contact with. The convent is loyal to Anne but they have their doubts about Duval. When it is decided that Ismae must accompany Duval to the royal court, to assess the situation and discover the truth of Duval’s loyalties, Ismae is not pleased… 

I liked this book a lot. It has action, intrigue, lots of plotting and great characterization. I do think Duval was portrayed at times as almost TOO honorable, in a time and place such as this could someone like Duval have existed? One hopes so. Ismae is skeptical as well, and as her and Duval grow closer by necessity, she becomes torn between devotion to Duval  (and Anne) and her duty to the convent.

The romance is a slow burn which I appreciated, Ismae and Duval come from such different backgrounds and their missions are so different that it makes sense. They do not trust each other at first, and even when they grow closer together there are twists and turns that threaten to tear them apart. Ismae is formidable and more than capable of holding her own, as she demonstrates on more than one occasion, so her and Duval are equals and I found this refreshing.

This book is fairly long and could have used a little tighter editing perhaps, but the pace is brisk and it never flags. I found the pages turned quickly and I was engrossed by the story. If I have a complaint, it’s the balancing act of the story itself. I was expecting  historical fiction with a few mystical elements thrown in, and I was surprised somewhat by the fantasy elements. It was kind of a weird mix of historical fiction and fantasy for me. I love fantasies but when I read historical fiction set in real places it is jarring and takes me out of the story a bit if magical elements start popping in.

There are also some realism issues- Ismae for example pretty much has the run of the palace and that didn’t seem particularly realistic given her short time at court. In spite of these quibbles, I found the story to be fun and engaging and the characters interesting.  Definetly recommended.

Quote:

“How does the convent decide whom to kill?” he presses.

I study his face closely, but I cannot tell if he is questioning the convent or just me. “Surely that is the convent’s business, milord, not yours”.

“If I will be sponsoring you at court, I will not be kept in the dark, only to find myself cleaning up bodies and making explanations.”

Friday, July 26, 2013

High Summer Read-a-thon Update














Here's an update Friday night.

Finished Letters from Skye earlier this week.

Read about 300 pages of Grave Mercy last night and today. Closing in on finishing off that bad boy (or should I say, bad girl?)

I wanted to do at least 3 books this week so I have some reading to do this weekend. I can do it!!

How is everyone else doing with their read-a-thon goals?

Friday Feature and Follow #2



Feature and Follow is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

This week's question is: What do you do with your books after you're done reading them?

I keep most of my books, especially if it's a book I liked. If I liked the book a lot, I may give it to someone to read (or buy a reading copy and give that one to someone). Does anyone else do that?

If I didn't like it... then I may give it away or loan it to someone who I think might like it, or donate it. I have been known to throw away a book if I really didn't like it, but that's pretty rare. :)

So what do you do with your books?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

High Summer Read-a-thon Reading Challenge & Update



















The High Summer Read-a-thon is well underway so I thought I would update. I have read one book so far and am hard at work on the second one. Running a little behind here but the last couple of days have been busy and not a lot of time to read. How is everyone else doing?

Also, I see a Challenge is out there, so...

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I'm participating in the High Summer Read-a-thon Reading Challenge hosted by Laura at BookSnob. Check out her site for details and a list of prizes. Here are the rules:

The Challenge:  A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

1.  Choose a picture that represents a person, place or thing in one of the books you are currently reading.

2.  Name the book you are reading and explain how the picture relates to the story you are reading.

3.  Put a link to your post in the linky (at her site).

My pick: A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin.

The Wall is 700 feet of ice and manned by the Nights Watch, who are sworn to protect the realms of men from the dangers to the north. Much of the book is told from the viewpoint of Jon Snow, who is Lord Commander of the NW. He is based at... you guessed it, the Wall.


Author Event- Jessica Brockmole

Letters from Skye: A Novel

Last night I attended an author event with Jessica Brockmole, the author of Letters from Skye, at Schuler Books. Letters from Skye is getting a lot of buzz and is an outstanding debut novel. I had just finished the novel a couple days ago and happened to see she was on a book tour so jumped at the chance to make the drive over.

The event itself was very nice. Jessica was very gracious and began the event by providing some background on the book itself and her reasons for writing it. She shared insights into the characters in the novel, as well as some historical details that informed the writing and some humorous anecdotes as well. She also read from several of the letters in the book at important moments in the story. She then opened the floor to questions. Afterwards she signed books and met fans.

I highly recommend Letters from Skye for anyone who loves a good story about love and the human spirit. This book is getting a lot of praise and deservedly so. My review is here.

Thanks to Jessica Brockmole and Schuler Books for hosting this event.

Jessica's website is here.

Please see here for her Events page.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday Seven Wild Sisters



"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm looking forward to Seven Wild Sisters, by Charles De Lint and Charles Vess. I came across this and thought it a sequel to The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, which I reviewed here. After a little digging around though I see this is actually a re- release of an earlier book. I'm assuming this will have new material or be revised in some way, and the chance to revisit Tanglewood Forest is irresistible. War between rival fairy clans? I'm in. Pub date is Feb. 4, 2014.



Here's the Goodreads blurb.

This full-color, illustrated companion novel to The Cats of Tanglewood Forest from two masters of modern fantasy is a captivating adventure about magic, family, and the power in believing in both.
When it comes to fairies, Sarah Jane Dillard must be careful what she wishes for. She may have thought she wanted to meet the fairies of the Tanglewood Forest, but that was before she knew the truth about them. When Sarah Jane discovers a tiny man wounded by a cluster of miniature poison arrows, she brings him to the reclusive Aunt Lillian for help. But the two quickly find themselves ensnared in a longtime war between rival fairy clans, and Sarah Jane's six sisters have been kidnapped to use as ransom. Her only choice is to go after them, and with the help of several mythical friends--from the Apple Tree Man to a cat called Li'l Pater--she'll have to find a way to untangle herself from the fairy feud before she and her sisters are trapped in their world forever


Here's a link to the original version.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: Letters from Skye

Letters from Skye: A Novel

Letters from Skye is a love story told in letters. It’s told from the alternating viewpoints of Elspeth Dunn, a published poet living on the Isle of Skye during World War I, and her daughter Margaret in the early days of World War II. Elspeth receives a fan letter from an American in 1912, and this leads to a correspondence that changes their lives forever. Through the seasons and the storm clouds of war Elspeth and "her American" get to know each other, and share their favorite books, their dreams, their hopes and desires. Life is complicated and messy however, and not all is smooth sailing for Elspeth and David.

Margaret is in love with a gallant young RAF pilot in the early days of World War II. He proposes marriage, and Margaret isn’t sure what to do. She lives in Edinburgh with her mother, who counsels her to make no rash decisions in wartime. Then one day a bomb hits nearby, a wall collapses… and Margaret discovers the letters. The letters from twenty years ago, a lifetime ago. Letters to her mother from an American. The love stories of Elspeth and David, Margaret and Paul intertwine as events change their lives and make them question who they are, and what they care about most. 

This love story felt so real from the very beginning, from the tentative way David starts their correspondence (who can’t relate to that?) to the increasing confidence the two of them feel as the months and years slip by, to the realization that they are, truly, in love. I’m sure most people can relate to that moment. Often it’s one of the singular moments in a persons life. Here we get a feel for that, as these characters admit to each other what they’ve known, deep down, for some time. It’s very well done.

I love how the story was told entirely in letters. I even found myself flipping back to see how many days had gone by between letters! Talk about being sucked into the story. In the early going I much preferred Elspeth and Davey’s letters, to Margaret’s, but by the end of the book as the stories converged I was looking forward to Margaret’s next move as she tried to bring resolution to the story.

I also enjoyed the humor in this story. David’s college pranks and Elspeth’s dry wit were a fun combination in the early going, and as the story progressed and got more serious, they kept their sense of humor and wit. There are twists and turns and a few surprises, but throughout it all these characters stay true to themselves. In this modern age, it was fascinating to see these lives and relationships develop through letters- subject to the vagaries of circumstance. A simple letter- so important to these people.

This book touches on many different themes, from longing and hope to regret and loss. One of the things that got me thinking was the relationship between Elspeth and Margaret. Parents and children can know each other so well, and yet at the same time know so little about each other. Parents have years of history before their kids come along, and the memories they take for granted- youth, high school, romances- their kids know nothing of. Brockmole touches on this. We learn so much about Elspeth, her loves and regrets, then we switch to Margaret and it’s amazing how little she knows of her mothers past.  


Teaser Tuesday



Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

To participate you grab your current read, open to a random page and share (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INLUDE SPOILERS (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others). Share the title and author too

"The day you wrote back and said that you loved me too, Sue, you turned my world upside down. Life has never looked the same to me since I read those words".

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole p. 187

Letters from Skye: A Novel

This is a fantastic book with brilliant characters and a very touching story. Review coming later today.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Just had to share this...

It's Monday. What Are You Reading? #4



It's Monday! What Are You Reading is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey and is a great way for others to  find out what you are planning to read this week and, best of all, see what others are reading.

Last week I finished The Cats of Tanglewood Forest. Review here.

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest

This week I'm working on

Letters from Skye: A Novel Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1) A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

Letters from Skye is very good so far I should be done with it shortly.

Grave Mercy is also very good, I'm in the middle of this one as well.

A Dance with Dragons I'm taking my time with, it's a re- read for me and I have others I need to finish first, but I'm looking forward to reviewing this when I'm done because there is so much going on. This may be my favorite of the series, even though the narrative pace has slowed way down from the first three books.


Coming down the pike

Bellfield Hall (A Dido Kent Mystery, #1) 

Bellfield Hall sounds right up my alley- a murder at a country house set in the 1800's. I love those kinds of stories. This one is on order, looking forweard to it.


What are you reading? Have you read any of these, and if so what did you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts or share impressions. Thanks!

High Summer Read-a-thon Start Up



The High Summer Read-a-thon is here! Thanks again to Michelle at Seasons of Reading for graciously hosting this. Here is what I am reading this week. I am setting a goal of 3 books, maybe 4. If I make that I'll be happy!

Twitter hashtag is #HSreadathon

Letters from Skye: A Novel

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)


I'm starting with these and see what happens after that. Maybe I'll slip a surprise or two in as well. Please join us at the High Summer Read-a-thon! Huzzah!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Post #3



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

It's been a busy week, having come home from vacation and settling back into the swing of things. I only got one review in this week, my reading time has plummeted lately but hopefully I can get back on track. I'm sure the High Summer Read-a-thon will motivate me! So here's what happened this week.

July 15th    It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

July 15th   Teaser Tuesday

July 17th   Waiting on Wednesday It's Raining Frogs and Fishes

July 18th   Trendy Taglines

July 18th   Review: The Cats of Tanglewood Forest

July 19th   Feature and Follow #1

Coming Reviews

Letters from Skye: A Novel

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

 How was your week?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Days of High Summer



The days of high summer are here, time for men and women of good cheer to join the High Summer Read-a-thon hosted by Michelle at Seasons of Reading. Details here. This will be my first read- a- thon and I'm not sure how many books I'll get through, but I'm in!

So take a tower seat or a place at the high table and join us from July 22-28 for the Read-a-Thon.





Friday, July 19, 2013

Feature and Follow #1



Feature and Follow is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

This week's question is: Book Vacay: Where is the best destination reading spot for you? (Where do you like to go to read other than your home).

We used to have a cabin up north, and I enjoyed reading on the back deck under the trees. We were on a hill so you could see glimpses of the lake below, and I really enjoyed listening to the wind in the trees. Alas my family eventually sold the cabin, so now I would have to say the beach as well- especially if it's secluded and I can hear the wind in the trees. :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: The Cats of Tanglewood Forest

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest tells the story of Lillian, an orphan girl who lives with her aunt on the edge of the sprawling forest. She spends her time after chores roaming the woods and looking for fairies. But try as she might, she never sees them although she can sense they're there. She's a generous soul and loves the animals, leaving saucers of milk for all the stray cats and even taking biscuits to the old apple tree every day, for the Apple Tree Man that she imagines lives there. 

One day however after venturing deep into the woods Lillian has a terrible accident... and the cats come. Saving her as only they can, Lillian is transformed into a cat. Thus begins a quest to return her to her proper form- but along the way she will meet some unforgettable characters (the fox known as T.H. Lawrence steals every scene he's in) and learn some valuable lessons about love, loyalty and the consequences of decisions.

I loved this book. It has a fairy- tale quality to it, an ageless feel. Lillian is a classic free spirit, eschewing shoes and girly things and wanting nothing more than to wander free in the woods and race the deer. She's feisty and loyal and brave, but learns that the forest can be a dangerous place as well as enchanting. Will she find a way to set things right and return to her true form? And will she ever see the fairies?

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest is written by Charles De Lint and illustrated by Charles Vess. Both are World Fantasy Award winners. I've never read De Lint before but I've been a fan of Charles Vess' work for years. He has collaborated with Neil Gaiman on Stardust and other projects. I've seen his work in various comics and he is the perfect artist for a story like this. He has a lush style, so evocative and dreamy. This is not my favorite example of his art, I've seen a lot of his stuff over the years, but it's still so good. I just love the cover.

I highly recommend this book for kids and adults alike. I think kids will love it, but I also think it has a lot to offer adults. The book reads quickly, some pages are full page illustrations and the ending is awesome. I haven't had this much fun with a book in a long time.

Charles Vess' website Green Man Press can be found here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Trendy Taglines



Trendy Taglines is a meme hosted by Krystianna at Downright Dystopian which features books based on their taglines- whether they be old or new.

Dualed (Dualed, #1)

Two Of You Exist.
Only One Will Survive.

That blurb caught my eye- what a concept. I've always liked cloning stories and stuff like that so I'm definetly intrigued. This seems to be getting mixed reviews- has anyone read it and if so, what did you think?

Waiting on Wednesday #5 It's Raining Frogs and Fishes



"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week is It's Raining Frogs and Fishes: Four Seasons of Natural Phenomena and Oddities of the Sky by Jerry Dennis. A new paperback edition is forthcoming (have not seen a release date yet) the link goes to the Kindle edition.

It's Raining Frogs and Fishes: Four Seasons of Natural Phenomena and Oddities of the Sky

This is a non- fiction look at phenomena of the sky, told with humor and insight and illustrated by Glenn Wolff. Perfect for kids and adults and told in an easy to understand manner. Acclaimed writer Jerry Dennis is an evangelist for the wonders of nature and the beauty of northern Michigan in particular. I'm a big fan of his book The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas, the best book about the Great Lakes I've ever read. Check out his website here.

Here is a trailer for another of his books, The Windward Shore: Winter on the Great Lakes.

Goodreads link here

Monday, July 15, 2013

Teaser Tuesday



Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading

To participate you grab your current read, open to a random page and share (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INLUDE SPOILERS (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others). Share the title and author too

" I run here and there and everywhere with my eyes wide open, but I never see anything. Fairy- like, I mean."

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles De Lint and Charles Vess page 282

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest

This is a very whimsical fun read and I'm enjoying it a great deal. Review coming soon!                                                                                                                                                 

It's Monday. What Are You Reading?



It's Monday! What Are You Reading is a meme hosted by Book Journey and is a great way for others to  find out what you are planning to read this week and, best of all, see what others are reading.