December 22, 2013

Yes, it's done!

After much procrastinating - and YouTube searching - I finally made myself sit at the sewing machine to finish mum's quilt.  

December 21, 2013

Just the binding left

After taking yesterday away from the sewing machine, I really had to be strict with myself and sit down to get the quilting done.  As a total novice I stuck to a simple grid pattern.  I think it turned out pretty good!  Just the rustic, handmade  - and occasionally wonky - look I was going for (that's my story and I'm sticking to it ;-D ).

So, keep your fingers crossed for me as tomorrow is the day I attempt to bind my creations.  All I can say is 'Thank God for YouTube tutorials!'

December 19, 2013

Almost done

I thought I'd try my hand at making all my major gifts this Christmas...

and all I can say to that is that I won't be doing it again!

I've finished the quilted place mat for my uncle (a nice mix of denim and blue fabric), and only have to do the binding on the bed runner for my aunt.  However, I'm just about to quilt my mum's lap rug - and thats before I tackle the binding.  (P.S these are the first items I've ever tried to quilt!)

So, with only 5 more days left before the ceremonial handing over of presents,  I'll be the one slaving over the sewing machine and panicking.  Will I finish them time?  I hope so as I don't have any back up gifts on standby.  My hats off to all you competent quilters out there.  You make it seem so easy!

Keep your finger's crossed for me, won't you ;-D

Chilli Chutney

Just finished cleaning the kitchen after my first attempt at Chilli Chutney (thanks to my new CWA cook book).  It turned out so well that I had to share the recipe with you.

It's so easy to make its a great last minute gift idea.


• 1 1/2 cups finely diced red chillies (remove seeds for a milder flavour)
• 1 onion diced
• 1 1/2 cups of diced cooking apples (or if you can't get your hands on any, 1 x 400g tin of apple pie apples)
• 1 1/2 cups white sugar
• 1 1/2 cups white vinegar (I used Cornwall's)
• 1 small tsp salt


After finely dicing the apples, chilli's (remember to wear gloves!) and the onion, put them into a pan and start to cook for a minute or two. 

Add the sugar, vinegar and salt.

Bring to the boil, then turn down heat until you have a gentle simmer.  Stir periodically until the sauce thickens.  This should take about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. 

Bottle into hot sterilized jars, and if you want to, add  piece of glad wrap before sealing the jars.

Keep in cool, dark place.  Refrigerate after opening.

Best with ...

a sharp vintage cheese - with or without crackers - or on a cold meat sandwich.

December 9, 2013

Miss Marple: A Caribbean Mystery

Yeah!  Finally, something decent to watch on TV again.  I've been eagerly awaiting the new season of Miss Marple for ages, and last night I settled in to watch the first offering of Season 6 - A Caribbean Mystery.  

It did start off slowly, so I wasn't sure how much I would like it.  One potential con was that after all the fiddling they've done with the plot lines over the last couple of series, I wasn't sure how much they'd alter ACM, but surprisingly it was pretty close to the original.   I loved watching Miss Marple and Mr Rafael dancing around one another, until Rafael finally realizes that he's met his intellectual equal in the little old lady from St. Mary Mead.

So, between the condensed time frame (less than 90min), the gorgeous costumes and makeup, plus the beautiful white sandy beach, I was  very happy with the first installment of the 6th series of Miss Marple.   Thankfully, I remembered to record it (for mum to watch), so I can watch it again when the mood strikes.   Must remember to record next weeks offering as well ;-D

December 8, 2013

Book Club Summer reading list

Hi All!  With the Christmas season well under way, I was lucky to finally meet with my book club friend and decide what we will be reading over the Chrissie period.

First on the list was Curtsies and Conspiracies, Book 2 in Gail Carriger's Finishing School series.  Then after knocking back a few more titles, we finally  chose the first book in Lilith St. Crows series, Iron Wyrm Affair, and Phillipa Bornikova's 2nd book, Box Office Poison.

I'm hoping that I can get my hands on them soon for some good Summer reading.  My copy of Curtsies and Conspiracies is already winging it's way to me from Book Depository (great deal for only $5.05!), but I might have trouble getting my hands on Box Office Poison as I'm sure it's not available in paperback yet.  Perhaps I'll leave that one till last!

November 13, 2013

Review: Dark Witch (or Three Sisters Island v2.0)

Dark Witch
Book One of the Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy
Nora Roberts

Published: October, 2013

Piatkus, Trade Paperback, 342p.
ISBN: 978-0-7499-5859-6

Three cousins inherit a gift that will tranform their lives...

Iona Sheehan has just taken the biggest gamble of her life.  Leaving her job, her home and her family in Baltimore, she has come to Ireland in search of adventure - and answers.

Iona has always felt a powerful connection to the home of her ancestors.  So when her beloved grandmother confesses an extraordinary family secret, she can't resist visiting County Mayo to discover the truth for herself.  Arriving at the beautiful and atmospheric Castle Ashford, Iona is excited to meet her cousins, Connor and Branna O'Dwyer, for the first time.  And when she lands a job at the local riding school she finds herself drawn against her will to its owner - the hot-tempered but charismatic Boyle McGrath.  Perhaps in County Mayo she has found her true home at last.

What Iona doesn't realise is that her cousins have been expecting her for a long time.  Connor, Branna and Iona have all inherited a powerful but dangerous gift from an ancestor known as the Dark Witch.  And they are about to discover that some old legends can return to haunt the present...

My library emailed me to let me know that Dark Witch was waiting for me and I was so happy - good reading material has been scarce around here lately - so the next time I went into town I made sure to pick it up.  It sat for a day, staring at me from the arm of the couch, until I finally gave in last night and headed off to bed early (had a big thunderstorm - perfect for witchy reading).

Book Review || Archangel's Legion

Archangel's Legion
Guild Hunters, Book 6
Nalini Singh

Published: October, 2013

Jove, mass market paperback, 374p.
ISBN: 978-0-425-25124-9

Angels are falling from the sky in New York, struck down by a vicous, unknown force.

Vampires are dying impossibly from disease.

Guild Hunter Elena Deveraux and the archangel Raphael must discover the source of the wave of death before it engulfs their city and their people, eaving New York a ruin and Raphael's Tower under siege by enemy archangels.

Yet even as they fight desperately to save the city, and even darker force is stirring, its chill eyes trained on New York. . . and on Raphael.  Rivers of crimson and nightmares given flesh, the world will never again be the same. . . 

What can I say?  I LOVED IT!  The Guild Hunter series just keeps getting better and better and even though previous books done from the POV of two of Raphael's Seven have been very interesting, it's at its best when told through the eyes of Raphael and Elena.

After the events of the previous book, the Cascade is in full effect and the Cadre of Ten are exhibiting new abilities, as well as personality quirks, that seem to heighten the core of who they are as individuals.  Raphael is still much weaker than the other archangels, and his new powers seem to have stalled with the abiltiy to heal, while other members of the Cadre are developing - and hiding - much deadlier and destructive abilities.

Lijuan is back, and is as bat shit crazy as ever.  She is a great foil for Raphael, but she's not the only one out for blood.  Elena is torn with more troubles on the family front, with a secret coming to light that shakes her long held feelings of love/hate for her father.  And Michaela has her sights firmly set on Raphael.

I could go on giving hints for quite a while, but will stop there before I totally spoil the plot for anyone who hasn't managed to get their hands on it yet.  I will say that this book has raised the stakes in the battle of the archangels, and with the revelations of the last couple of chapters, I can't believe I have to wait a whole year before finding out what happens next!  

Don't touch this book if you haven't read books 1-5, it just won't have the same impact, and please don't attempt to read it if you don't have a few hours to spare as putting it down is nearly impossible.  Archangel's Legion is a fast paced book that grabs you by the scruff and takes you on a ride you'll wish didn't end.  Elena and Raphael just get better and better.

November 11, 2013

Easy Come, Easy Go

Hi all!

It's been a tough few weeks with everything coming to a head early last week when I had to hand in my resignation due to medical reasons.  Only I could get and loose a job in 3 months.  But, now that leaves me stuck at home, recuperating and taking it easy until my doctors give me the okay.  I'd rather be earning a wage, but that's not in the cards for the next 12-24 months!  So, I guess that means that I'll now be able to give more time to my ever increasing TBR pile, and updating my blog.

I'll start by telling you how much I loved Archangel's Legion by Nalini Singh.  The series as a whole is great, but I do adore the stories that revolve around Raphael and Elena.  In AL, there were a few surprises I didn't see coming - read upcoming review for more - and now I can't wait for the next, as yet untitled, book due out late 2014.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for my audiobook reservations to come into the library.  I finally managed to track down copies of A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness.  They are massive at 20 discs each, but it's a lot cheaper than having to buy every audiobook that tickles my fancy.   I also managed to find out the title of the third and final book in the All Souls Trilogy - plus the release date.  The Book of Life is due out on stands 15 July, 2014 - yippeeeee!

So until I see you again, happy reading!

November 5, 2013

Yeah! It's here!

After the crappy day I've had, I was amazed when a knock at my front door revealed a postman bearing gifts ;-P.  For in his hands was my much awaited for copy of Archangel's Legion by Nalini Singh.

The cover is fabulous, and as much as I want to devour it right now, I'll be good, and wait till after my appointment so I won't have to put it down for any reason.

This series has turned out to be one of my all-time favourites.  There is just something about the relationship of Elena and Raphael's that to totally sucks me in.

November 4, 2013

Quick update

I have been so behind lately it isn't funny.  The newest book on my reading pile was 'Dark Currents' by Jacqueline Carey.  It's the first book in a new series and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Health issues - as well as a continually absent Wi-Fi signal - have meant that between that and the few hours of casual work I do a week, that I'm often too sore, frustrated, or just too darn tired to put up my thoughts on some of the fabulous books I've read lately.  So, my apologies - I'll try to get my butt in gear this month ;-D

I'm still waiting on my postie to deliver 'Archangel's Legion'.  I love this series and have been eagerly awaiting the next Elena/Raphael story.

October 15, 2013

Quilting for Xmas

I don't know about anyone else, but I made the mistake of telling my mother that I'd started quilting.  Now I have to make her a lap rug for Christmas - and she'd already picked out the material!

After much debate, I finally got myself psyched up enough on Sunday to I get out the charm pack - Moda Printemps - but then I had to  figure out exactly how I was going to do with it.  Complicated was out.  My sewing machine should have an L plate for all the experience I've had!  After much YouTube surfing I finally settled on the Disappearing 9 Patch (wonderful tutorial by the Missouri Star Quilt Co.).  I was confident that I could manage it.

So, to cut a long story short, after a couple of hours - and a few unpicked rows - I had a cute central piece for mum's quilt.  Now I just have to add some white around it and decide on a binding, not to mention the backing.  I might just squeak this in in time for Christmas ;-D

PS - I have to do a bed footer for my aunt too!

October 6, 2013

Murphy's Law

You have all experienced it, and even mocked it.  But this weekend has just been one annoying incident after another!  

My boss left for a week long cruise of the South Pacific - lucky duck! - and I'm running things solo for the next week (but I've only been there for 9 weeks... as a casual!).  Okay, so yesterday (Day 1) I end up with a few curly situations where things happened that we hadn't discussed, and I hadn't thought to ask.  It all worked out - however my deodorant nearly failed me in the meantime.

Then, last night while I was putting some laundry back in the wardrobe my stripy ninja cat decided to play under the hanging clothes.  Nothing sinister about that?  Yeah, right.  As I was sliding the door shut she made a desperate leap out and over a large glass coffee table top that I'd had propped up on it's side.  She bumped it and it came crashing down... onto my ankle!  It felt like a bomb had gone off in my ankle and the vein that runs down the front of the ankle started to swell like a balloon.  Unfortunately I couldn't just limp off to fix it.  I had to go lug out the vacuum cleaner, and then clean up the broken glass so the furry people didn't cut their feet!  Once that was done - painfully mind you - it was off to the bathroom to get some cold water and a compression sock.  Funnily, I didn't see said cat until I was tucked up in bed - and even then she managed to walk on my ankle as she clambered over the quilt.

Today I took it easy.  I made a comfy nest in the lounge room and watched Season One of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (fabulous!) and read Celebrity in Death.  Thankfully tomorrow is a public holiday here so I can take it easy again.  Finger's crossed I will be fit for duty on Tuesday, otherwise I will up the creek without a paddle...

September 21, 2013

Where has the year gone?

I can't believe that September is nearly over already!  It seems like just last week since I started my casual job at my local quilting/giftware shop.  I swear, the older I get the quicker the years seem to fly by.  I can remember being a child and thinking that the day would never end.  School dragged on for an eternity, the school holidays dragged on forever, and your birthday - or Christmas - just never arrived soon enough.  Now?  I just wish the days would slow down so I can fit more into them!

There was a verse that I remember hearing during my high school years that has recently entrenched itself in my brain...

"the rocking horse days of my childhood are slipping and sliding away..."

I can't remember exactly where I got it from - probably the library? - but, I find this quite apt as I add another year to my tally.

September 1, 2013

Review: Anita Blake is back in Affliction

Anita Blake, Book 22
Laurell K. Hamilton

Released: 02 June, 2013
Berkley, Hardcover, 576 p.
ISBN: 978-0425255704

Some zombies are raised. Others must be put down. Just ask Anita Blake.

Before now, she would have considered them merely off-putting, never dangerous. Before now, she had never heard of any of them causing human beings to perish in agony. But that’s all changed.

Micah’s estranged father lies dying, rotting away inside from some strange ailment that has his doctors whispering about “zombie disease.”

Anita makes her living off of zombies—but these aren’t the kind she knows so well. These creatures hunt in daylight, and are as fast and strong as vampires. If they bite you, you become just like them. And round and round it goes…

Where will it stop?

Even Anita Blake doesn’t know.

After the sheer frustration - and a whole heap of disappointment - I felt reading the last couple of Anita Blake books, I swore that I would wait for the library to get a copy before committing myself to buying it.  I was sick of all the slutty bed-hopping Anita, and I missed the Anita of old who spent her nights 'animating' zombies at the local cemeteries and solving RPIT cases.  So, I cautiously reserved my copy of Affliction, and spent the the last two days staring at it - not sure I wanted to go down the trashy rabbit hole again.  Last night I thought 'bugger that!' and grabbed the book as I headed to bed.  I finished it just before midnight, and even though I was so tired I couldn't see straight, I was glad that I hadn't given up on Anita Blake just yet.

Merry Gentry #9 Announced!

OMG!  I just found out the official details for the next Merry Gentry book.  I have been waiting for 4 years to hear word on just when I could expect the next offering.

A Shiver of Light
June/July 2014

Ooooh, can't wait!!!

August 16, 2013

New job and no time to spare

Hi all!

Just a quick few lines.  I've been so busy , and completely tired, after starting a new job.  I was so used to studying (sitting for hours), that now I'm on my feet for those same hours it's painful.  Thank God for the large tub I use as a footbath.  I don't know what I'd do without it at the end of the day ;-D

So, being free time poor these days I've been catching up on the J.D. Robb series (got Calculated in Death the other day) and waiting for the last 2 books I pre-ordered.  I did manage to read the latest Kate Daniels book, Magic Rises.  This was much darker than previous books, and had me tearing up in places.  Curran gets in serious trouble with Kate.  Love it!  Will review it ASAP.

Anyhow, that's all I've got time for this morning.  Have to start getting ready for work.  Happy reading!

July 19, 2013

Review: The Goddess Test

The Goddess Test
A Goddess Test Novel, Book 1
Aimee Carter

Published: May 2011
Harlequin TEEN, paperback, 
ISBN: 978-0-373-21026-8
eISBN: 978-1-459-20169-9
File size: 364 KB

From the back cover...

It's always been just Kate and her mom--and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess. 

I'll keep this short and sweet, but what can I say.  This is one YA book that I could have done without reading.  I'm not saying that it was a terrible book, but the story of Persephone and Hades has been done oh so many times that this version just didn't grab me.  I much preferred the P.C Cast 'Goddess Summoning' series version.   What do you know, I think I've finally outgrown YA books ;-P

So, unless you're a massive YA fan, or absolutely a slave to mythology in fiction, then I'd skip this particular series.

And the postie delivers

Just a quick post today.  First time I've touched the laptop in nearly 2 weeks - I'm so bored - but my postie made my day by delivering the last of the books that I ordered.  Twice this week he's actually knocked on my door with the parcels!  Great service this week apparently...

So, tonight I will be diving into Fated by Benedict Jacka, followed by This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova.  There is something about starting a journey with an author whose style you are unfamiliar with that is quite exciting.  However, I do have one reservation.  I hope that Fated isn't too much like the Dresden books.  That would be such a let down.

In the mean time, I'll finish watching MirrorMask - so delightfully twisted ;-D - and snuggle up with a hot water bottle (it's a miserable grey old day) and a hot cup of tea.

Happy reading this week!

July 17, 2013

Just arrived

It's finally here!  I am looking forward to listening to Cast in Shadow.  Will be firing up the laptop and adding it to my iPod asap ;-D

July 7, 2013

June in Review

I hope your June was better than mine.  My right wrist has been aching for about 4 weeks now, so after one particularly painful episode, I made an appointment with the doctor.  It turns out that I have tendinitis in said wrist/forearm and to keep it strapped up and immobile for God knows how long.   As you could guess, this has severely limited my daily life, and has made typing on the laptop painful.  Therefore, I'll keep this short.

The last meeting of the book club went well.  Turns out we loved Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger - yeah! - however, The Goddess Test didn't get quite the same reaction (reviews to be posted later).  Then came the hard task of trying to select next month's reading material.  Turns out that there was one item on everyone's list...

So in the end, the reading list for July is:
Fated - Benedict Jacka
Tempest Rising - Nicole Peeler, and
The Reluctant Reaper - Gina X. Grant

In the mean time, I have to figure out how to keep myself sane now that the laptop is out of bounds, and holding onto a book for hours is painful.  This dilemma has given me the kick in the butt to delve into my stash of material kept hidden in the linen cupboard.  Now, surrounded by piles of beautiful fabric, I find myself mentally sorting through it all, designing quilts to make for family and friends.  I don't think I'm up for the sewing yet - I'm right handed! - but that hasn't stopped me from buying more material lately, so I think this winter I might ditch the knitting and crochet (too hard on the wrist), and think about some sewing instead...?

Happy reading!

June 16, 2013

New Titles for Book Club

It's taken me two days to get enough oomph in my WI-FI coverage just to blog without constant issues.  However, I'm excited to say that the second meeting of the Fangtastic Fiction Book Club met at my local library last Friday, and we spent a fabulous morning just chatting about books - it was great!

We then had the enormous task of trying to decide what to read in June.  It took us a while, but in the end it was decided that we shall be reading... {drum roll if you please}

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

I am looking forward to E&E - I loved the Parasol Protectorate series! - but I am not too sure about The Goddess Test.  For some reason we ended up with two books that are firmly in the YA section, but apart from the odd fabulous book, I've pretty much outgrown YA.  Who knows?  Perhaps The Goddess Test will be one of those stunning reads?   The other odd coincidence is that both books are the first in a series - a hint for later reading materials, perhaps?

Wish me luck, and happy reading!

June 9, 2013

Review - Dead on the Delta

Dead on the Delta 
Stacey Jay

Released: 31 May, 2011

Pocket Books, Mass Market, 400p.
ISBN: 9781439189863

From the author's website:

Once upon a time, fairies were the stuff of bedtime stories and sweet dreams. Then came the mutations, and the dreams became nightmares. Mosquito-size fairies now indulge their taste for human blood—and for most humans, a fairy bite means insanity or death.

Luckily, Annabelle Lee isn’t most humans. The hard-drinking, smart-mouthed, bicycle-riding redhead is immune to fairy venom, and able to do the dirty work most humans can’t. Including helping law enforcement— and Cane Cooper, the bayou’s sexiest detective—collect evidence when a body is discovered outside the fairy-proof barricades of her Louisiana town.

But Annabelle isn’t equipped to deal with the murder of a six-year-old girl or a former lover-turned-FBI snob taking an interest in the case. Suddenly her already bumpy relationship with Cane turns even rockier, and even the most trust-worthy friends become suspects. Annabelle’s life is imploding: between relationship drama, a heartbreaking murder investigation, Breeze-crazed drug runners, and a few too many rum and Cokes, Annabelle is a woman on the run—from her past, toward her future, and into the arms of a darkness waiting just for her. . . .

This is book one in a series, and although I found the overall ideas to be great - feral faeries that kill... ha! - there was just no getting around the fact that I didn't quite like our inept, inebriated, and mostly zonked on whatever-meds-she-can-find heroine.  Seriously, I really want to connect with, or at least care about, the characters I'm following.  However, with Annabelle, I just wanted to give her a good scrubbing down, dose her up with some strong black coffee - and then kick her butt!

Okay, so she has a screwed up past.  So what?  So do a lot of other really great characters - and those books are great!  But I digress.  Annabelle's life is stagnant, until the murder of a local girl draws ex-boyfriend to town as part of an FBI investigation.  Hitch is an hot, arrogant, potentially-cheating, so and so, who blows into town with his partner (in every sense of the word), Stephanie, who is the current lover looking to get revenge on the ex.  Add to the mix rabid faeries, Breeze-heads (drug addicts), weird supporting characters and a current sort-of boyfriend who also happens to be one of the cops investigating the murder and you have a whole lot of crazy packed into a book.

The one saving grace in my mind, apart from Gimpy the Cat, was the Invisible Man and Tucker.  They have added a dash of mystery to the story and I will be checking out book 2 just to see what their deal is.  I know I have dumped on Dead on the Delta, but there is so much potential in this series.  I hope that Annabelle starts to figure out her life in book 2 so I can give it the review I would so love to.  So, having given this book low rating, I will try this book again at a later date - just to see if it's as bad as I think is was, or if I'm just having an off day?  But for how it's going on the bottom of the bookshelf.  If you like you're gals pretty messed up, then Annabelle is for you.

June 8, 2013

Review - Dark Serpent

Dark Serpent
Celestial Battle Trilogy, Book 1
Kylie Chan

Released: 01 May, 2013

Harper voyager, Trade, 468 p.
ISBN: 978-0-7322-9440-3

Back cover:

When the ancestry of Xuan Wu's fiancee, Emma, is revealed, it threatens the harmony of the whole Celestial realm.  The demons are gathering, powerful alliances are being made and stone Shen are under threat.  However, Xuan Wu is distracted - he must save Emma from the Demon King and give her the elixir of immortality, but at what cost?

I have been waiting on pins and needles for this book, for we finally find out exactly what Emma is!  There is so much I can't say because to go into all my favourite scenes will give away some good surprises.  What I can tell you is that if you have read the previous six books, then Dark Serpent is an absolute MUST!

"I've vowed to Raise Emma and marry her 
and that is all I want from life".

The story picks up what seems like years after book six, but I doubt it's that long ;-D  Emma is in her 40's now, and is still under the punishment that the Celestial handed down at the end of Heaven to Wudang.  No one can refer to her as 'my Lady', etc., nor can they talk to her about Celestial matters.  Quite hard for Emma as she was running the Northern Heavens for all those years that Xuan Wu was absent, but they're all handling it.

Emma gets into trouble again in this book, but this time the consequences are devastating **keep the tissue's handy** and all I will say is that George (our loathsome Demon King) has his hand in it.  There, enough said.  However, we do find out what George's interest is in Emma in particular, and what the appearance of the Western Shen, and East/West Hybrids have to do with George.

I motored through this book.  I just couldn't wait to find out what had happened to Emma and her celestial family.  However, now I have to wait another 18 months or so until I find out what happens next.... darn it ;-D  There was only one small issue I had with Dark Serpent, and that was the change in voices.  From the beginning we have been following Emma, and listening to things from her POV.  However, in Dark Serpent, Ms Chan has decided to add a new voice to the mix.  I was surprised to find myself following Xuan Wu and although novel, the change in POV jolted me out of the groove at times.  Personally, I preferred to see things through Emma's eyes.  But, even though I have had a quick gripe about that, don't let it put you off what is a fabulous book.

If you haven't yet read the series, then you need to start with White Tiger and work your way through the two preceding trilogies.  I would love for you to be able to just pick up this great book, but you do need know whats happened to appreciate, and get the most out of, Dark Serpent.

Review - Written in Red

Written in Red
A Novel of the Others, Book 1
Anne Bishop

Released: March 2013

ROC, Hardcover,  433p.
ISBN: 978-0-451-46496-5

Back cover:

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut - a gift that feels more alike a curse.  Meg's Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions.  But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard - a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job.  First, he senses she's keeping a secret, and second, she doesn't smell like human prey.  Yet a stronger instinct propels hi to give Meg the job.  And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she's wanted by the government, he'll have to decide whether she's worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

I enjoyed this book a great deal, although it did take me a while to shake off the YA fiction vibe I was getting from the book, but after I immersed myself in the story I was fine.

Meg Corbyn, our young heroine, is such an innocent woman.  Having escaped her cage, and unfamiliar with the ways of the world, she somehow manages to see the good in people.  Yet, to say she is totally naive would be a great disservice to her, as Meg's life (before escaping) was not all sunshine and roses.  At first, we find Meg quite skittish and wary where Simon and the Others of the Courtyard are concerned, yet there are glimpses of temper and backbone that hint to the woman she could become.  Meg's interactions with those in the Courtyard range from curiosity to fear, and with Simon it's often both at the same time.  

Simon Wolfgard, being the leader of the Courtyard, is a tough and dominant male who takes in this human waif for no other reason than he needs to fill the position - and doesn't want to employ a certain human.  He feels as though he's made a mistake almost as soon as he's hired Meg, but for some reason, he can't seem to fire her - or eat her - but that doesn't stop him from making a complete arse of himself at times ;-D  Although he is not the most demonstrative or emotional of characters, you get a real sense of his core beliefs.  

Written in Red is mainly told from Meg and Simon's POV, although the flow is occasionally interrupted by POV from Asia, Henry and the local police detective who is trying to forge good relations with the Others.  I loved the 'otherness' of the characters, and the way that there is definitely an us and them mentality.  The mysterious Tess is a real charmer - love the hair! - and Winter and her sisters have the potential to scare the pants off everyone.  I hope to see more of their true natures emerging in the coming books.  The ponies that help Meg deliver her parcels were a nice touch, especially when their true talents are revealed.

As a big Anne Bishop fan, I did notice some fleeting similarities between the characters in this book and those of her much loved other series, The Black Jewels.  No, seriously!   Just think about it...

•  Meg Corbyn/Jaenelle Angelline - both wounded souls who find themselves in a position of power and have to deal with deadly males.
•  Simon Wolfgard/Daemon Sadi - dominant men who both wield power without thought.  Dangerous.
•  Vlad Sanguinati/Lucivar Yaslana - the seconds.  Dangerous fighters who have a lighter side.
•  Tess/Surreal - deadly women who would kill you as soon as look at you.  Very protective of those they take under their wings.

I could go on, but if you've read the Black Jewels books, you'll see what I mean.

My only problem with Written in Red was Meg's nameless, faceless enemy.  We see agents of that enemy, but there is a disconnect between his/her role in the story and the way everyone else deals with the fallout.  Not a huge problem in the grand scheme of things, and will hopefully be addressed in the following books.

The style of writing used in Written in Red is very similar to Kelley Armstrong's YA trilogy - the one with the kids that run away from the mental facility (sorry, can't think of the name).  So if you enjoyed Armstrong's series, then you should love Meg and Simon's story.

UPDATE:  Book 2, Murder of Crows, is scheduled for publication in March 2014.  Yeah!

June 5, 2013

Lots of books to share

Finally, I'm back in the realm of connectivity!  The last week and a half have been oh so frustrating as every time I fire up the laptop to tell you all about the great books I've read, the connection has been slower than a slug.  But fear not, my lovelies! For I shall be changing providers soon, and big lags between posts will {fingers crossed} be a thing of the past ;-D
In the meantime, I'm coming to you live from my smart phone (they may be handy, but its such a pain in the butt to do!).  Anyway, here are the micro reviews of my most recent forays into the world of dead trees....

Written in Red (Anne Bishop) - Love, love, loved it! 4 1/2 stars
Unsympathetic Magic (Laura Resnick) - okay, but could have been better. 2 1/2 stars
Dark Serpent (Kylie Chan) - OMG!!!!  If you've followed the series then you must BUY IT! 5 stars
Dead on Delivery & Dead Letter Day (Eileen Rendahl) - not brilliant, but better than average.  Interesting twists here and there.  3 stars each
God Save the Queen & The Queen is Dead (Kate Locke) - absolutely awesome!  A must read steampunk series. 4 1/2 stars
Discount Armageddon (Seanan McGuire) - a non-starter for me.  Great ideas, but execution left me wanting. 1 star

New in my TBR pile are;
•  3-in-1 volume of Simon R. Greene's 'A Walk on the Night side'.  Can't wait.
•  As Wicked as She Wants by Delilah S. Dawson.
•  Binding the Shadows by Jenn Bennett.  Finally, I have book 3 in my hands, and lastly
•  Dead on the Delta by Stacey Jay (and my 2nd book club title).

Well, that's me done until next time.  I promise to put up the expanded reviews ASAP.  So until then...

Happy reading!

May 18, 2013

Review: Cry Wolf

Cry Wolf
Alpha & Omega, Book 1
Patricia Briggs

Published August, 2008

ACE, Mass Market paperback, 294 p.
ISBN: 978-0-441-01615-0

From the back....

Anna never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack...and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she's learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. Then Charles Cornick, the enforcer--and son--of the leader of the North American werewolves, came into her life. Charles insists that not only is Anna his mate, but she is also a rare and valued Omega wolf. And it is Anna's inner strength and calming presence that will prove invaluable as she and Charles go on the hunt in search of a rogue werewolf--a creature bound in magic so dark that it could threaten all the pack...

My thoughts...

I'm in a bit of a quandary over Cry Wolf.  The short story (in the On the Prowl anthology) was fabulous.  Quick paced and full of all the action I've come to expect from the Mercy-verse.  However, in Cry Wolf the pace seemed to lag.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved seeing more of Bran and Charles, but it became predictable in places.

Take Leah for example.  We first come across her royal bitchiness in Moon Called - as she's chasing Mercy through the woods - and from what had been said, we knew that she was motivated by her hatred of Mercy because a) she's a coyote, b) Mercy has a special place in Bran, Charles and Samuel's life, and c) she can still have children.  Simple, and sticks with what we know of her.  In Cry Wolf though, she could have been so much more.  Instead Leah was wasted in just furthering Anna and Charles' inner anxieties.  She's Bran's mate/wife for goodness sakes, yet she's used as no more than a footnote in the book.

But despite the annoying use of Leah, we did get to encounter the wonderfully complex Asil.  He's quickly became one of my favourite characters in the Mercy-verse.  The backstory Ms. Briggs established for him, and his involvement in the action are vital to whether or not this story worked.  Congratulations all round for giving us such a wounded warrior!

In Moon Called we only saw Charles for brief moments yet it was obvious that he was a much different wolf to Samuel.  And thank God!  Portrayed as the ultimate assassin for the Marrock, Charles' displays of vulnerability are very much unexpected yet appreciated.  Anna delves below the facade that Charles puts up between himself and the world - even Bran - and in return we see Anna slowly blossom as she discovers her own strengths and worth.  It is beautiful to watch this wounded wolf discover herself.

Bran is the real surprise in Cry Wolf.  Seemingly invincible, we explore the secret past that Bran has been struggling to hide - even from himself - and how this has led to his relationship with Leah.  There is a reason for her presence in their pack, and Bran's bed.  And Samuel makes a brief return to the fold and even though he's only around for a few scenes, he's always a welcome addition.

There are a few surprises for everyone, including what happens on the remote mountainside in Montana. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I'll just say that we meet a fallen warrior who redeems himself, and a nasty piece of work from Asil's past that threatens to set off a chain of events that could have tragic consequences for all the Marrock pack.

So, while I have grouched about some aspects of the book, I still consider it a great book.  If you loved reading Mercy, then you'll have to include this in your reading pile.  A great start to a spin-off series.

Anita Blake wallpaper for you

Hi there!  Just thought that I'd post a copy of the Anita Blake wallpaper I made last week.


May 17, 2013

Update - Fixer upper

Hi all,

Just typing to you from our local library.  The wi-fi connection has been terrible lately, so I decided to decamp to the library to use the free internet facilities.  As you may have noticed, I've changed the look of the blog.  Not sure if this is the finished layout, but have not had a huge amount of time to fiddle around.  Hopefully I'll get some free time in the next few days to have a good overhaul of the blog.

I've added a two new pages.  I had a great idea for another one last night, but I fell asleep before I could put pen to paper.  Now I can't remember what it was.  I hate it when that happens!

Oops, must dash.  Times nearly up.

Happy reading!

May 13, 2013

Book Review - When Demons Walk

When Demons Walk
Patricia Briggs

First published June 1998

ACE, Mass Market Paperback, 272 p.
ISBN: 978-0-441-00534-5


Sham had spent most of her young life as a sorceress and thief, stealing from Southwood's nobility to survive.  Now she must face the greatest test of her skills...

A killer has struck Southwood, claiming the lives of nobles.  Lord Kerim, Reeve of Southwood, turns to Sham for help.  Posing as his mistress, she delves behind castle walls to find the killer.  But this murderer is not mortal - and Sham must use all of her magical wisdom to send the demon away.  Because the city of Southwood has nowhere to hide - and no time to run...

I picked up this book after reading a Iron Kissed, and as much as I love the Mercy Thompson series I wasn't too sure about what to expect.  It wasn't Urban Fantasy, there were no werewolves or shapeshifters, etc.  Would I really like it?   The answer was YES!  I really did enjoy this book.  The world Ms. Briggs has built for Sham is so well done that you don't really even think about it being a different world/realm, whatever.  You just accept it as part of Sham's life.

Sham, or Shamera, is a wonderfully strong and driven character.  I do like a sassy heroine, and Sham fits that to a tee.  Living as a thief has given her the connections that see her moonlighting as the mistress of Kerim, aka The Leopard, as she tries to discover the identity of a killer.  It's great to have a lead female that has knowledge, or abilities, that makes her self sufficient in a world where women still rely on the men in their lives.  Now with a formidable heroine like Sham you'd assume that our hero would be muscled up the whazoo, but Kerim, comes into Sham's life in a physically compromised position.  Despite this, he is a strong leader who keeps his feeling to himself, but Shamera has no problems reading him.

Our secondary characters, Dickon, Elsic and Talbot, are very much a part of the story.  They each have a history of their own that helps to shape their responses to the action.  Scorch is another character to keep an eye on, too ;-D.  There are other notable characters, such as Shark and Lord Halvok and Lady Sky, but many of the others just drift out of your mind as soon as they leave the scene.

Potentially this is the start of a great series, but like Nightseer, it is likely that this will remain a one-off story.  There are quite a few dangling threads that need to be tied up, but it looks like they will stay that way.  Although not part of a series, it is a great book to read.  If you liked Nightseer, Masques (Briggs), or the Chronicle of Elantra, then you'll enjoy this.