One of the greatest love stories, the 25 year affair and eventual marriage of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, younger son ofOne of the greatest love stories, the 25 year affair and eventual marriage of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, younger son of King Edward III.
The story isn't new to me, I read the classic, Anya Seton's Katherine quite a few years ago and was excited to read Anne O'Brien's take on things. There's little documented of Katherine which offers an author quite a bit of freedom but Anne O'Brien grounds this fictionalised story firmly in historical events; The Black Death, the Peasants' Revolt, The Hundred Years' War.
I was once again surprised that John & Katherine's longstanding, passionate affair didn't elicit more sympathy from me, for John's wife, Constance of Castile. But, no attacks of conscience here. For me, great love definitely won over strategic alliance.
John was one of the most charismatic and influential men of his time ... I'd have had a hard time refusing his mistress offer, even fearing for my reputation and mortal soul. HA
John and Katherine had four 'Beaufort' children together, legitimised after their marriage, and from their descendants came the Royal Houses of York and Tudor ... a very significant couple to dynastic England.
Through political unrest, public scandal, great shame, separation and sorrow, their love stood the test of time. ...more
After enjoying the first book in the series, The Demon Lover I was happy to pick up The Water Witch, secretly hoping for more hot sex ... yep3.5 stars
After enjoying the first book in the series, The Demon Lover I was happy to pick up The Water Witch, secretly hoping for more hot sex ... yep, not disappointed! Hey, in all fairness Callie McFay seems to be attracted to every hot male in the book, ok three of them ;)
Following her calling as a doorkeeper Callie McFay protects the last doorway between Faerie and the human world. In The Water Witch she comes to some understanding of her formidable powers and the connection I didn't feel with her in The Demon Lover surprisingly surfaces. She's not all the way there yet but a bit more kick-ass-ness helped with likeability.
The town of Fairwick oozes magic and myth and in this installment we're introduced to new otherworldly characters. It's an eclectic mix of fey and witches, the exploration vivid and indepth, but it rambles into drawn out. There's an abundance of story lines and sub plots but not much progression if that makes sense.
Despite flaws, I'm invested (and not just in the sex) and I'm looking forward to the final book in the trilogy. Yep I'm almost hoping Callie and her succubus get their HEA, I'm drawn to his tortured character ... he has a certain appeal despite his kind-of-creepy life-sucking qualities.
"You have only to call my name to bring me back," he whispered, his breath hot in my ear. "You have only to love me to make me human."...more
I enjoyed the next leg of Avry and Kerrick's journey but if I'm honest, not quite as much as Touch of Power. Scent of Magic kicks off where T3.5 stars
I enjoyed the next leg of Avry and Kerrick's journey but if I'm honest, not quite as much as Touch of Power. Scent of Magic kicks off where Touch of Power finishes so it's an easy transition reading them one after the other.
Whilst Avry & Kerrick are parted for most of the book on separate missions I enjoyed getting the story from both their points of view but I really missed the camaraderie of their little gang. That was the downside of this book in my opinion. On the upside, Avry and Kerrick get my vote over Yelena & Valek from Maria's Study series if I had to pick favourites.
Their quest to keep King Tohon taking control of the 15 Realms is fraught with never-ending drama trouble which kept me turning the pages but believe it or not, there wasn't actually a whole lot of plot advancement or character development. Oh well, still fun!
Taste of Death, the conclusion to the Healer trilogy is due for release December 2013 ... another year ... it's a cruel world ;)...more
Impeccably detailed The Gilded Lily drops the reader right in the poverty and squalor of 17th century London. So vivid are the descriptions you can alImpeccably detailed The Gilded Lily drops the reader right in the poverty and squalor of 17th century London. So vivid are the descriptions you can almost smell the stench, see the overwhelming gulf between the rich and dirt poor, experience the bitter cold and terrible hunger. With research and passion Deborah Swift has excelled with conveying time and place.
The dynamic between sisters Ella & Sadie is pivotal to the story, giving it momentum but honestly my hand was itching to slap Ella for her callous selfishness. The Gilded Lily is short on likeable characters, thankfully Sadie and her 2 friends, Dennis & Corey are endearing characters with heart. Fortunately I didn't have to like the rest of the cast to enjoy the read.
I loved the 17th century dialect and it was refreshing to take a look at the professions of commoners; perruquiers, (wig makers) pawn brokers, maids and shop assistants and read more about the 'secrets' of womens' beauty during this era, the use of ceruse, white lead face paint or powder. It added a fascinating authenticity to Restoration London without bogging down the story with unnecessary detail.
At 460 + pages I was pleasantly surprised by the pace. The Gilded Lily is quite a bleak read but the dark ambiance, seedy undercurrent and ever-present danger kept me turning the pages, anxious for the outcome and the redemptive ending contributes some light and goes a little way to restoring faith in humanity.
Recommend: Absolutely! I'll definitely be reading more from Deborah Swift. ...more
I really enjoyed Maria's Study series so I had high expectations picking up her Healer series and I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed. Touch of PowI really enjoyed Maria's Study series so I had high expectations picking up her Healer series and I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed. Touch of Power has a similar feel to Poison Study and Ms Snyder has a knack for writing strong female characters with smart mouths.
Touch of Power has a little of all that is good; adventure, danger, magic and romance with a cast of characters you can't help but fall in love with. I liked Avry of Kazan, the healer right from the start, Kerrick (prickly bastard) grew on me and Kerrick's loyal band - Belen, Flea, Quain and Vinn wormed their way into my heart. The banter and bond between these six is really endearing, they end up quite a tight knit little family. The death & peace lilies were almost characters in themselves and I can't wait to find out more about their role.
My other favourite thing in Touch Of Power - the magic system, lots of lovely magic, 11 different types of magic actually. Magic plays an integral part in the Fifteen Realms world and the vivid detailing of Kerrick's forest magic and Avry's healing magic was particularly fascinating.
Having already devoured an ARC of The Scent Of Magic (book 2 due for release January 1st 2013 thanks to Harlequin Teen) I can safely say this is shaping up to be another wonderful fantasy trilogy. ...more
I read the first book in the Iron Fey series, The Iron King and have to confess I wasn't a fan so I didn't continue on with the rest of the series. SoI read the first book in the Iron Fey series, The Iron King and have to confess I wasn't a fan so I didn't continue on with the rest of the series. So, I said yes to reviewing the spin-off, The Lost Prince with a little trepidation but guess what ... I really, really liked it. So much so, I'm thinking I'll give the rest of the original series another chance.
17 year old Ethan has always been able to see the hidden world of the fey, he now has a reputation as a bit of a bad boy, but Ethan's prickliness didn't put me off. Years spent protecting himself from the fey was bound to make him a bit obnoxious guarded but I found him really likeable and approachable. I warmed to Kenzie quickly as well, maybe I'm in the minority but I thought she was a plucky, stubborn thing and a worthy ally (and love interest) for Ethan. Meghan, Ash and Puck made a cameo appearance and Grimalkin a little more so but The Lost Prince focuses on Ethan and his journey back to his sister's world of the Nevernever, searching for answers to the disappearing fey and his half phouka friend Todd.
The baddies of the book are The Forgotten, fey creatures forgotten by many. They're the vampires of the faery world, sucking the life force from their prey ... in other words, suitably creepy, scary and shrouded in mystery.
I was instantly drawn into The Lost Prince, captivated by the world and the characters this time round. Maybe it helped seeing the fey world from a male point of view, whatever the reason it was definitely a refreshing experience and can I just say I have a thing for the cheeky little gremlin Razor ... adorable!!
All in all a page-turning read that exceeded my expectations and I will be reading the next installment :) ...more
Another edge-of-your-seat installment, I'm seriously wondering if the author can sustain the pace and intensity through the next 3 books and4.5 stars
Another edge-of-your-seat installment, I'm seriously wondering if the author can sustain the pace and intensity through the next 3 books and whether I'd survive if he did - reader exhaustion is a distinct possibility!
At the risk of repeating myself The Power Of Six and The Rise Of Nine have been non-stop, adrenaline-pumping action - you seriously do not get a moment to catch your breath and whilst that's exciting for a book or two, I think it'd fast become old if the author didn't change it up. I'll be interested to see the direction taken with the next book.
The Rise of Nine covers the journey of Lorien Garde members, Four, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten, we find out more about their developing legacies and inheritances as they continue the battle to save Earth from the Mogodorians and revive Lorien.
My opinion of John, Number Four remains unchanged from The Power Of Six, he's still my least favourite, Six my favourite and cocky Nine grew on me over the course of this book. Will Number Five show up in the next book?
I'm totally invested in the characters and the world and can't wait to see where the author takes the battle next!
This is a story full of subtleties; quietly moving, intimate, aching, escalating in tension and quite beautiful.
Once I understood the reason for BethThis is a story full of subtleties; quietly moving, intimate, aching, escalating in tension and quite beautiful.
Once I understood the reason for Beth's writing style in You Are My Only, I fell in love with it. I guess it may not be appreciated by everyone but when you think about an author's means of conveying such emotion in a small time frame, it makes perfect sense.
I also love stories with alternating narratives, especially when done well and Beth portrays Emmy and Sophie with insight and compassion. Emmy's voice is almost breathless, loose and disjointed but at the same time poetic which is extremely fitting considering her distressing & pitiful circumstances.
“I have Baby’s sock in my purse. I have the smell of her in my heart.”
It was wonderful to see Sophie gain courage and enlightenment once she had a support network of friends with next door neighbour Joey and his Aunts. In some ways she seemed a lot younger than her 14 years with the running from the unexplained "No Good" but in other ways she was wise beyond her years.
Beth Kephart gives as much attention to her 'minor' characters as she does Emmy and Sophie. I loved Joey and his adorable Aunts, Cloris and Helen and sweet Autumn, Emmy's 'roomie' in the psychiatric institution.
It was easy to relate to the heartache, the circumstances beyond their control but I didn't find this a depressing read. It was equally easy to revel in Sophie's new-found joy in small wondrous things; eating a cookie, flying a kite, having a friend.
I'm wholeheartedly recommending this one to mature YA readers and adults and Beth will go on my "author's who write from the heart" list! ...more
A very cute, entertaining book with simple phrasing, colourful illustrations. Perfect for pre-readers, for parents or grandparents reading to littliesA very cute, entertaining book with simple phrasing, colourful illustrations. Perfect for pre-readers, for parents or grandparents reading to littlies and for early readers to read to younger siblings. My niece thought this was a wonderful way to teach her soft toys about African animals.
I thought the 3 clues prior to the reveal of the animal were terrific for heightening anticipation and a fun way to teach & engage children in further discussion. Combining I Spy, Hide & Seek type game play was a great strategy to captivate and maintain attention, and encourage participation.
In this technological age of e-readers, i-phones, netbooks & laptops this is a portable, fun & educational way to keep a young child entertained and definitely a lovely series to keep. Kirstan's next book in the series, I See ... Serengeti is now available. ...more
Exciting and original world building, characters I quickly became invested in, and a cracker pace made Initiation a surprisingly addictive read.
I loveExciting and original world building, characters I quickly became invested in, and a cracker pace made Initiation a surprisingly addictive read.
I love the world Royce created, humans live in underground habitats while vampires and werewolves rule the roost upstairs and humans with the warrior gene are sent upwards at 16 to battle the monsters! Thrilling stuff and there's enough twists and turns to keep even the most jaded reader entertained.
Rachel is such a cool character, she's realistic about her lot in life and just a little "outside the norm" making her very likeable. I had to keep reminding myself that she was 16, mature, but 16; and the romance really was all about the sweet taste of first love but the abundant hot male characters, werewolf Jason, Deacon and Warrior Chad are central to the plot and of course good reading candy :)
The simple narrative had me intitially thinking this was well suited for the younger teen but there are a number of sexual references (without the deed) to warrant caution for the younger reader but for the older teen I have no hesitation in saying go for it.
Enough ends are tied up to produce a satisfying conclusion without the dreaded cliffhanger but there's the delicious anticipation of the journey being far from over. I can't wait to continue Rachel's story in Driven!
Motherhood & Alcoholism; grim subject matter, not a novel I thought would be a favourite read but how wrong I was. While Best Kept Secret made myMotherhood & Alcoholism; grim subject matter, not a novel I thought would be a favourite read but how wrong I was. While Best Kept Secret made my heart ache and my gut churn it wasn't a depressing read. It's honest and real and courageous, with a depth not often seen.
When life hands you lemons, some make lemonade and some don't. Whether it be seeking oblivion in pills, escape in retail therapy, comfort in eating, or solace in a bottle, when you can't stop, it's addiction of one form or another. Best Kept Secret makes you think ... there but for the grace of God, go I.
Cadence's life as a single mother after divorcing her unfaithful husband, is a struggle financially and with insomnia. When a glass or two of wine to cope becomes alcoholism the reader shares Cadee's brave journey to sobriety and acceptance and there's nothing cliched about this sharing.
Amy Hatvany writes with compassion, from the heart, visiting scary places that need to be visited if there's hope of breaking taboos and stigmas. “The best way out is always through” ... no shortcuts, no detours, no sidetracks. When Cadence begins to feel her feelings, she owns them ... I felt Cadee's anguish, her shame, her gutteral, all consuming pain when she realises her actions have cost her custody of Charlie.
I loved Cadee, her love for Charlie resonates from the pages, I loved her humour and sarcasm, her courage and the unconditional love between Cadence and her sister, Jess. In this age, where mother's strive to do it all and have it all, Best Kept Secret is a timely reminder that it's ok to ask for help and it's ok to have some 'weeds in the garden'.
There's no pattycake ending, there's a poignant, hopeful real-life ending and Best Kept Secret is an absolute must read.
What a nail-biter! An absolute labyrinth of twists, turns and just when you think you've got it all figured out ... bam another shocking rev4.5 stars
What a nail-biter! An absolute labyrinth of twists, turns and just when you think you've got it all figured out ... bam another shocking revelation! Ok not all were the unexpected, knock-your-socks-off type revelation, some where the ... damn ... I knew it, kind, but still, quite a gut-wrenching rollercoaster ride.
I loved the seamlessly woven alternating narration from key characters and the flashbacks to past events. I loved the complexities of the mother-daughter relationships, I loved the bond between best friends Noelle, Tara & Emerson and I loved Chamberlain's portrayal of their bond following Noelle's suicide. The 'realness' of their feelings; the shock, the guilt, the questions, the anger, the betrayal, the love, the quest for answers, the desire to set things right.
Following the death of my mother a long buried secret was uncovered that came as quite a shock to our entire family so many of Tara & Emerson's emotions were also familiar to me. When your knowledge of someone you love is so emphatically challenged it rocks your entire world. The Midwife's Confession is a powerful and moving landscape of love, friendship, grief, suicide, lies, guilt, & life-shattering secrets.
If you're hankering for an extremely compelling read with a poignant depth of emotion and a blistering pace then don't miss out on this one!...more
Abithica is an unusual combination of love story and dark, sinister mystery and I'm thrilled to say it's a totally mesmerising and unique ta4.5 stars
Abithica is an unusual combination of love story and dark, sinister mystery and I'm thrilled to say it's a totally mesmerising and unique tale.
The reader is at first as disoriented as the main character, floundering in her mackerel and mashed potato; from the first tentative, awkward moments with no clue as to what's going on, to slowly revealed enlightenment ... I loved that sense of disjointed confusion.
I don't want to give too much away about Abithica herself as that discovery is half the delicious anticipation in the read but Abithica describes herself as a parasite, possibly a demon, but she's really not sure. I loved Abithica and her internal struggles, her strength and selflessness, her vulnerability & despair. I was swept away by the hopeful essence in the love story and Lane is a thoroughly likeable and dependable hero. The 'shoe philosophy' was an intriguing sideline and Lane's sister, Shae is just adorable.
The dark subplot revolves around the Legnas cult, the glimpses into their dark practices are scary indeed but there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding these 'horrors'. Goldsmith's descriptions are chilling and graphic and the entities had me quivering in my shoes. The author ties complex plot threads together to create a spell-binding blend of paranormal, mystery, romance, horror and suspense.
This is one debut novel I wholeheartedly recommend.
Susan is working on a sequel to Abithica which will answer questions about the Legnas & Abithica's connection to them ... ooh can't wait! ...more