Monday, June 27, 2011


Sorry I didn't get a chance to post this weekend. I was busy with a couple things, fighting with my garden (my herbs are taking over) and going with my father to cruise nights (he owns a '66 Ford Thunderbird that he takes to shows and car club meetings and I sometimes tag along). I've also just been plugging away at trying to finish some of the books I've started reading lately. I used to always have the mentality that I needed to finish reading one book before I started another but all of a sudden I'm wanting to read so many at once, bad idea. Anyways I am currently/still reading:

Queen By Right: A NovelQueen By Right by Anne Easter Smith (pg. 314 of 484) - hope to finish this one soon, would definately recommend it so far to anyone who like historical fiction!
Shadow Music: A NovelShadow Music by Julie Garwood (pg 9 of 448)- have barely started this one...because of the smaller dimensions of this book compared to QBR I have been taking this with me whenever I go out and foresee myself having some time to read while waiting for something as it fits nicely in my purse...
The Last Heiress (Signet Eclipse)Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls)The Last Heiress by Bertrice Small (pg 30 of 416) - I'm reading this book with my mother only whenever we get a chance to read it together aloud to one another, so slow going on this book as well...
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (part 4 of 9) - this is the very first book I've ever "read" in the audiobook format. Enjoying it so far even though werewolf/vampire/twilight-ish books aren't really my type of books...

I am also very excited to announce that the Canada Post postal strike has finally ended. I'm not sure if they actually accomplished anything but at least I'll be getting mail again. So I'll be receiving at least two new books in the near future, both of which I won through Goodreads First Reads giveaways which I am also very excited about.
They are:
Coming Up for AirSeason of DarknessSeason of Darkness by Maureen Jennings
Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry

Friday, June 24, 2011

So Excited

Season of DarknessToday I found out I won a book on Goodreads through their First Reads Giveaways. I have been entering their giveaways for only about a week now so I never expected I'd win one so quickly. The book I won is Season of Darkness by Maureen Jennings. This is one that I really hoped I would win as I have hear a lot about several of her other books but have never had a chance to read one. I have however enjoyed watching the TV series Murdoch Mysteries which is based on some of her books.

I also really like the idea that this book is the first of a trilogy. I always like reading books that are a part of a series so then if I enjoy it I'll be able to find another book with either the same characters or setting by the same author.

The Author
Here is what McClelland and Stewart have to say about Maureen Jennings:
MAUREEN JENNINGS was born in England, and emigrated to Canada as a young woman. Her first mystery series, set in Victorian-era Toronto, featured Detective William Murdoch. The first Murdoch mystery, Except the Dying, was shortlisted for both the Anthony and the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel Awards. It was followed by Under the Dragon’s Tale, Poor Tom Is Cold, Let Loose the Dogs (shortlisted for the Anthony Best Historical Mystery Award), Night’s Child (shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award, the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award, the Barry Award, and the Macavity Historical Mystery Award), A Journeyman to Grief (nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award), and Vices of My Blood.  Shaftesbury Films adapted the first three novels into movies of the week, which were then developed into a series called the Murdoch Mysteries, now going into its fifth season, and broadcast in over one hundred countries around the world. Maureen’s new trilogy of mysteries set in World War II–era Shropshire, England, will be launched with Season of Darkness in August 2011.  A new six-part television series entitled Bomb Girls, produced by Back Alley Films and Muse Entertainment for Global Television and inspired by the second book in the trilogy (Beware This Boy), will air in early 2012.

The Book (Season of Darkness)
Following the disastrous retreat of the British army from Dunkirk in 1940, England is plunged into a state of fear. The threat of a German invasion is real, and many German Nationals are interned in camps across the country. One such camp is on the ancient moor land of Prees Heath, near the small town of Whitchurch in Shropshire, where Tom Tyler is the sole detective inspector. Young women from all walks of life have joined the Land Army, to help desperate farmers keep the country fed. When one of these young women is found murdered on a desolate country road, Tyler is almost glad for the challenge; he has been fretting for some time about the dullness of policing in a rural community. In addition, a former lover has reappeared and turned his emotions upside down; his soldier son seems utterly changed by his experience at Dunkirk; and his sixteen year old daughter is unhappy. As he pursues the murderer, Tyler finds himself drawn into an uneasy alliance with one of the Prees Heath internees, a psychiatrist, who claims to be an expert on the criminal mind.

If this book peeks your interest you can find it in bookstores beginning August 2, 2011. If the postal strike here in Canada doesn't continue for too long then I hope to receive my copy soon so I can read it and let you all know what I thought of it. Thanks again to Goodreads Giveaways and McClelland and Stewart who made my winning of this book possible.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Last Heiress

The Last Heiress (Signet Eclipse)I used to hate to read aloud in school and avoided it whenever possible. Now that I am a certified teacher I have been working on my confidence with reading aloud as it is something I will have to do more and more often teaching elementary school students. For extra practice, as well as to have someone to discuss a book with without feeling like I need to read faster, I have begun to read The Last Heiress by Bertrice Small with my mother. We are taking turns reading pages aloud to one another. Neither of us have read any of the rest of the series but since this was a book we happen to both already own a copy of, but hadn't read, we figured we'd give it a try. Like a mini book club, heh.

Back Cover Synopsis
Elizabeth Meredith, the youngest daughter of Rosamund Bolton, is nothing like her sensible sisters. Impatient with fancy manners and careful speech, the young beauty has shunned the royal court in favor of a quiet life at Friarsgate. That is, until she learns that in order to protect the future of the land she loves, she must venture into the court of King Henry VIII to find a suitable husband. Elizabeth quickly scandalizes the royal court by forging a friendship with the king's friend Anne Boleyn and by indulging in a delicious flirtation with Flynn Stewart, a bastard brother of King James V of Scotland. But her real future lies back at Friarsgate, where her admitted weakness for Scots sends her into the strong arms of Baen MacColl. Yet Elizabeth's greatest passion is for her lands; and Baen MacColl's loyalties may lie elsewhere. Can Elizabeth and Baen overcome the barriers that threaten to separate them? And can Elizabeth, by following the calling of her heart, still protect Friarsgate?

Previous 3 books of the Friarsgate Inheritance series:
RosamundUntil You (Signet Eclipse)Philippa

Have you read any of this series or any other book by Bertrice Small?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: The Sinister Omen

Title: The Sinister Omen (Nancy Drew #67)
Author: Carolyn Keene
Genre: Mystery
Format: paperback
Published: January 6, 1982
Rating: 4/5

Nancy helps an elderly woman whose house has been burglarized frequently and tries to stop an international ring of stamp forgers.

A gang's efforts to scare amateur detective Nancy Drew away from a case in The Sinister Omen are futile as her interest only gets stronger in a mystery that involves stamp collections from all over the world being stolen all of which included extremely rare particular stamps. She is then also hired by a wealthy woman to catch some burglars who continue to ransack her house yet steal nothing.

I used to find that in many Nancy Drew books Nancy just seems to have too much luck, finding important clues with little effort, being able to get herself out of trouble as quickly as she got into it, etc and this book was no different. However I did notice in this book specifically that there w
ere a few times where the crooks slipped through her fingers, were lost sight of before they could be caught, etc. which was a nice change. These events finally made Nancy have to rethink her strategies and be a bit more inventive.

Setting: On vacation Nancy and her friends travel from their homes in River Heights down the US east coastline to Fort Lauderdale in Florida where they travel around a fair bit of the city, beaches, and surrounding area while staying at the luxurious home of a friend/business partner of Nancy's father.

Characters: Nancy Drew along with her girl friends Bess and George and their boy friends Ned, Burt and Dave are all involved in the adventures of this book. In addition, Nancy's father Carson Drew makes brief appearances as he works on different leads of his own case (which Nancy helps solve in addition to her own mystery), and several others on both sides of the law are included. My favourite secondary character in this book is tied between the fiesty elderly lady and the bodyguard.

Age Recommendation: This book has been marketed for ages 9-12 however the nostalgia of Nancy Drew can really be enjoyed at any age.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it only took me about a day to read which was a nice change. I used to be quite a Nancy Drew fan when I was younger and read about 50 books of the series then. I haven't read any since then so it was nice to reminisce about those days as I re-encountered familiar characters as well as a few bits of reoccurring plot lines.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shadow Music

While I am still working my way through Queen By Right I have today also began reading Shadow Music by Julie Garwood. Hope this book proves to be a better read than Spirit Thorn turned out to be.

Here's what Chapters says about Shadow Music:

For Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland is a land of stunning vistas, wild chieftains, treacherous glens, and steep shadows-skullduggery, betrayal, and now murder. Prized for her exquisite beauty, the daughter of one of England's most influential barons, Gabrielle is also a perfect bargaining chip for a king who needs peace in the Highlands: King John has arranged Gabrielle's marriage to a good and gentle laird. But this marriage will never take place.

For Gabrielle, everything changes in one last burst of freedom-when she and her guards come upon a scene of unimaginable cruelty. With one shot from her bow and arrow, Gabrielle takes a life, saves a life, and begins a war.

Within days, the Highlands are aflame with passions as a battle royal flares between enemies old and new. Having come to Scotland to be married, Gabrielle is instead entangled in Highland intrigue. For two sadistic noblemen, underestimating Gabrielle's bravery and prowess may prove fatal. But thanks to a secret Gabrielle possesses, Colm MacHugh, the most feared man in Scotland, finds a new cause for courage. Under his penetrating gaze, neither Gabrielle's body nor heart is safe.

A gripping novel that delves into the heart of emotions-unyielding passions of love, hate, revenge, and raw desire-Shadow Music is magnificent gift from Julie Garwood and a crowning achievement in her amazing career.

Have you read this book? What did you think? (Bare in mind this will be my first Julie Garwood book)

Review: Spirit Thorn

Title: Spirit Thorn (A Tale of Parallel Worlds)
Author: Zacharias O'Bryan
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Format: eBook
Rating: 1/5

Do parallel worlds exist? Searching for proof, Professors Rodger & Cassie Swift vanish. Kestrelle, a spirit girl claiming to know their fate, tells their son Braden he must brave a whitewater, tooth-sprouting river into a land where wise vultures predict the future and blue minds inhabit lava caves. Only two powers can help: Kestrelle's Blood Thorn and Braden's vine-painted guitar.

Spirit Thorn is a story that begins from the point of view of Braden a young human boy and then flipping back and forth between him and Kestrelle, a spirit "elf" girl. Each chapter is then interspersed with fragments of Braden's father's scientific journals giving a reference to phenomenons and other scientific theories that may explain some of what is happening in the story.

Although the Thorn is said to be important for nearly the beginning it's importance and origin of only hinted at throughout the book and is never fully explained. The same also goes with Braden's guitar which is said to be monumental in their quest yet is hardly stops anything when it is destroyed halfway through.

Setting: In a parallel universe in Oregon (oddly not mentioned until about half way through) where gasoline, and other usual modern amenities are a thing of the past.

Characters: As for character development this book is also highly lacking and left me with even more questions by the end instead of revealing withheld information or explanations by the end as many other books do. How Braden was portrayed his year long struggle/search to find out what happened to his parents seems to be glossed over so it evokes little sympathy. His later selfishness and lack of premeditated actions made him seem more like a secondary character than a main one and made me think how much the book could have kept most (if not all) its literary integrity and storyline if Braden was simply removed all together.
As for Molly, another non-human character, I would have appreciated more explanation of who she was (or more specifically what her job was in the eyes of the other creatures). She is identified as "The Singer" and you are left puzzled as to why it is important until at which time she seems to be paralleled with religious figures such as Jesus or Buddha.

Age Recommendation: Although this books is said to be for all ages I would adjust that to being best for pre-teens, particularly for those interested in books involving creatures of other races (mythical or otherwise).

Overall it is a fairly fast read and if you have nothing better to do go and give it a read after all it is free to buy but I wouldn't spend money for it which is disappointing for me as I had moderately high hopes for this one...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Missing my Books

I recently found out that from Amazon I was able to download "Kindle for PC" for free. This is a program that allows you to read ebooks (like you would on a Kindle or other reader) with just your ordinary computer (In my case, on my laptop). I've been thinking about getting a ebook reader since they first came out so I figured this was a great way to see if I'd like it or not. Although I do realize that eReaders have more features than my PC version allows. Do you have an eReader; e.g. Kindle, Kobo, etc.? Do you like it?

The other day I set aside the book I was reading to give an ebook a try. I am now about 3/4 of the way through my first ebook "Spirit Thorn" by Zacharias O'Bryan and let's just say I'll be glad to get back to my hardcopy books. Here are a few things I don't understand/am missing when I compare my Kindle for PC with books:
  1. I miss my standard page numbers. I am instead given a percentage of completion and a location number (a number that doesn't correspond to page/screen numbers) which seems to skip numbers at an irregular rate.
  2. I spend too much time on my computer as it is so reading on it too just makes my eyes burn...ouch.
  3. The "pages" turn too easily so sometimes while I'm reading I'll accidentally skip a page which leads to confusion on my part.
  4. I like to curl up in my bed or my favourite chair when reading... my laptop is too bulky and not at all conducive to this.
  5. My laptop is heavier/bigger than most of my books which makes it tricky to carry around and since I tend to only read one or two books at a time it isn't such a problem to just carry them around.
  6. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I look at the side of a book I've been reading and see how much (in thickness) I've read compared to how much I have still to read. Although the percentage in the eReader does give me this same information I just don't get that same feeling.
How about you? What other things have you found that you liked/disliked/missed when reading an ebook?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

In My Mailbox

I recently got these books in the mail so I figured I'd share them with you. Let me know if you have read any of them and what you thought about them.

The Perfect Summer: Dancing into Shadow in 1911 by Juliet Nicolson
(Published/Released: September 13, 2007)
The summer of 1911 was one of the high sunlit meadows of English history, but on the horizon lurked a gathering storm. A new king was on the throne and the aristocracy were at play. Yet as temperatures soared, cracks appeared under the surface with strikes, class divisions and the seeds of war to come. Through the eyes of a series of exceptional individuals - among them a debutante, a choirboy, a politicians, a trade unionist, a butler and the Queen.

In Cold Pursuit: A Mystery From The Last Continent by Sarah Andrews
June 3, 2010)
Valena Walker is a dedicated master''s student in geology headed to Antarctica to study glaciology with the venerable Dr. Emmett Vanderzee. Being on the ice is something she''s dreamed about since she was a little girl. But when she finally arrives at McMurdo, she discovers that her professor has been arrested for murder, and what''s more, that the incident happened a year ago. A newspaper reporter who''d visited Antarctica the previous winter had died from exposure, and though no one was a fan of the guy---he was attempting to contradict Vanderzee's research---by all accounts, everyone was devastated to lose someone on the ice. Valena quickly realizes that in order to avoid being shipped north immediately and having her grant canceled, she must embrace the role of detective and work to clear his name---and save herself in the process.

The Devil's Queen: A Novel of Catherine de Medici by Jeanne Kalogridis
March 29, 2011)
Confidante of Nostradamus, scheming mother-in-law to Mary, Queen of Scots, and architect of the bloody St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, Catherine de Medici is one of the most maligned monarchs in history. In her latest historical fiction, Jeanne Kalogridis tells Catherine's story-that of a tender young girl, destined to be a pawn in Machiavellian games.Born into one of Florence's most powerful families, Catherine was soon left a fabulously rich heiress by the early deaths of her parents. Violent conflict rent the city state and she found herself imprisoned and threatened by her family's enemies before finally being released and married off to the handsome Prince Henry of France.Overshadowed by her husband's mistress, the gorgeous, conniving Diane de Poitiers, and unable to bear children, Catherine resorted to the dark arts of sorcery to win Henry's love and enhance her fertility-for which she would pay a price. Against the lavish and decadent backdrop of the French court, and Catherine's blood-soaked visions of the future, Kalogridis reveals the great love and desire Catherine bore for her husband, Henry, and her stark determination to keep her sons on the throne.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben Winters (and Jane Austen)
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters expands the original text of the beloved Jane Austen novel with all-new scenes of giant lobsters, rampaging octopi, two-headed sea serpents, and other biological monstrosities. As our story opens, the Dashwood sisters are evicted from their childhood home and sent to live on a mysterious island full of savage creatures and dark secrets. While sensible Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her romantic sister Marianne is courted by both the handsome Willoughby and the hideous man-monster Colonel Brandon. Can the Dashwood sisters triumph over meddlesome matriarchs and unscrupulous rogues to find true love? Or will they fall prey to the tentacles that are forever snapping at their heels? This masterful portrait of Regency England blends Jane Austen's biting social commentary with ultraviolent depictions of sea monsters biting. It's survival of the fittest-and only the swiftest swimmers will find true love!

Lastly this is an ebook (free from Amazon and Chapters) that I figured I'd see what it's all about:
Spirit Thorn (A Tale of Parallel Worlds) by Zacharias O'Bryan
(Published/Released: April 7, 2010)
Do parallel worlds exist? Searching for proof Professors Rodger & Cassie Swift vanish. Kestrelle an other-world girl claiming to know their fate tells their son Braden he must brave a whitewater tooth-sprouting river into a land where wise vultures predict the future and blue minds inhabit lava caves. Only two powers can help: Kestrelle's Blood Thorn and Braden's vine-painted guitar.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Queen By Right

"From the award-winning author of A Rose for the Crown, Daughter of York, and The King's Grace comes another masterful historical novel-the story of Cecily of York, mother of two kings and the heroine of one of history's greatest love stories. Anne Easter Smith's novels are beloved by readers for their ability "to grab you, sweep you along with the story, and make you fall in love with the characters." * In Cecily Neville, duchess of York and ancestor of every English monarch to the present day, she has found her most engrossing character yet.History remembers Cecily of York standing on the steps of the Market Cross at Ludlow, facing an attacking army while holding the hands of her two young sons. Queen by Right reveals how she came to step into her destiny, beginning with her marriage to Richard, duke of York, whom she meets when she is nine and he is thirteen. Raised together in her father's household, they become a true love match and together face personal tragedies, pivotal events of history, and deadly political intrigue. All of England knows that Richard has a clear claim to the throne, and when King Henry VI becomes unfit to rule, Cecily must put aside her hopes and fears and help her husband decide what is right for their family and their country. Queen by Right marks Anne Easter Smith's greatest achievement, a book that every fan of sweeping, exquisitely detailed historical fiction will devour." Thanks to for that synopsis.

This is the book I'm currently reading. I started it about a week ago and am currently on page 209 of about 490. So far I am really enjoying this book. I had never heard of Cecily Neville before I read this book but I'm glad to have been able to get to know her from a young child all the way to becoming a mother.

One of my favourite additional features in this book is the family trees of the people featured in this book at the beginning. I have been working on my own family tree for some time now and through my own genealogical research I found out that my 23rd great grandfather was Edward I Plantagenet (1239-1307). Although I can hardly say I am related to the Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, featured in this book I can say we have this man as a common ancestor (Edward was Richard's great-great-grandfather). Wouldn't anyone want to say they were related to royalty? heh

Other Features
A couple other features that Anne Easter Smith has added to this novel is a glossary for all those terms that just aren't used nowadays (although there are some others I found while reading that I would have liked to have a definition for as well) and a list of characters. The list is nice to check back with as I am reading. It indicated which characters are historical figures as well as which are purely fiction.

Coming Soon
I bought a few new books from just before Canada Post went on strike (boo) so I'll share what I got, maybe you've read some of them and can let me know what you thought of them.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Anne Easter Smith

While visiting my local Costco a few weeks ago I came across a variety of books by Anne Easter Smith, an author I hadn't yet heard of but attracted me by the titles of her books as well as the images of the books' covers. The genre of her books, historical fiction, also appealed to me.

That day I decided to purchase one. I read the backs of each book which didn't make the process any easier. I liked the sound of all of them. Not knowing which to choose I went back to my old ways of choosing a book (looking at copyright dates and choosing/reading based on the order of publication). What would you have done in my situation?

I also checked the internet for more information about Anne Easter Smith and came across her website. I watched a couple of her videos where she talked about herself and her books. What intrigued me the most were when she mentioned about having to walk through a place before she could write about her characters walking there, and about weaving fictional characters and dialogue into the historical events without changing those events substantially.

I ended up buying "A Rose for the Crown" the first book she published and was about to start reading it when I came across a note on her website, as well as on her facebook fan page that she recommending reading "Queen by Right" her most recent publication first before the rest of her books for someone like me who was just becoming introduced to her writing.

"Queen by Right" is basically the prequel of her previous books (on the timeline of history). I questioned on the fan page what other people thought, those who had read both, just one or the other, in either order, etc. Not only did I get some lovely responses from fellow readers but I also received a response from Anne herself. She suggested that since I had already purchased "A Rose for the Crown" I could still read it first but then I should read "Queen by Right" next, and then the rest of her books. Why I am going into all these options? Just in case you want to read one of her books. I have a big thing about reading books in order, but when they aren't specifically numbered it helps to get others opinions (in my opinion anyways).

Luckily I received a copy of "Queen by Right" as a gift from my most recent graduation so now I am back to reading it first, then I will go back and read "A Rose for the Crown". Then eventually the rest of her books, if I ever get the time. Unfortunately I'm a dreadfully slow reader which doesn't help matters when I don't get a lot of time to read each day. I will however do my best, update here periodically, review each book when I'm finished, and hopefully get a chance to read works from a plethora of other authors this summer! :) Wish me luck. heh

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Welcome to my newest blog where I plan to "Babble" about books. My plans for this blog is to have a mixture of my updates on what books I'm reading, planning to read, bought, borrowed, heard about, etc. as well as some reviews of books I've finished reading. Although I am a dreadfully slow reader that will hopefully be getting back to work soon so we'll see how it goes.

My inspiration:
I have always loved to read but found less and less time for it (my own personal books versus texts/school reading) since I began university. Even in the summers I'd end up taking a correspondence course that would take up most of my spare time. Finally this summer I have graduated from uni, have no other courses to speak of, and until I find some success in my job hunt I have quite a bit of free time to return to my neglected hobby of reading.

I have also dabbling in blogging many times most of which end up so disorganized and lacking any real theme that they lose their appeal. So I figured why not make one just for books.