September 29, 2009

New Release by S.J. Bolton - Awakening

Sacrifice was an original and thrilling debut novel by S. J. Bolton. Her sophomore effort, Awakening, was released in trade paperback in Canada on August 29, 2009 (UK Import) and in hardcover in the U.S. on June 9, 2009. The mass market paperback edition will be released on February 23, 2010. I will definitely be looking to pick up the MMP in February as it is supposed to be even better. S.J. Bolton - synonymous with suspenseful and unique.

An idyllic village is thrown into turmoil in the startling, heart-racing new thriller from the author of Sacrifice. How did it all begin? I suppose it would be the day I rescued a new-born baby from a poisonous snake, heard the news of my mother’s death and encountered my first ghost . . . Veterinary surgeon Clara Benning is young and intelligent, but practically a recluse. Disfigured by a childhood accident, she lives alone and shies away from human contact whenever possible. But when a man dies following a supposed snake bite, the victim’s post mortem shows a higher concentration of venom than could ever be found in a single snake. Assisted by her softly spoken neighbour, and an eccentric reptile expert, Clara unravels sinister links to a barbaric ancient ritual, an abandoned house and a fifty-year-old tragedy that left the survivors fiercely secretive. Then the village’s inventive attacker strikes again, and Clara’s own solitary existence is brutally invaded. For someone the truth must remain buried in the past — even if they have to kill to keep it there.

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Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton

You're born. You live. They die. Moving to remote Shetland has been unsettling enough for consultant surgeon Tora Hamilton; even before the gruesome discovery she makes one rain-drenched afternoon…Deep in the peat soil of her field she is shocked to find the perfectly preserved body of a young woman, a gaping hole where her heart has been brutally removed and three rune marks etched into her skin. The marks bear an eerie resemblance to carvings Tora has seen all over the islands, and she quickly uncovers disturbing links to an ancient legend. But as Tora investigates she is warned by the local police, her boss, and even her husband, to leave well alone. And even though it chills her to the bone to admit it…something tells her their concern isn't genuine.
I was pleasantly surprised by this debut effort by author S.J. Bolton. The setting of the Shetland Islands off the northeast coast of Scotland is interesting and unique. An area of isolation, myth and legend, remote from the rest of the world where secrets have been hidden for decades and immense power has been hoarded. Imagine moving from bustling London to a small acreage on a stark, unforgiving island. Your husband is often away on business, you have made no friends in the six months you have been working in the nearby hospital and your beloved horse has just died. Tora Hamilton is determined to bury her horse nearby her home, even though it is illegal, and in doing so uncovers a female body buried deep in the peat, heart taken out, runes carved into her back. From here leads a strange, twisted tale of murder and mortality, ethics, fertility manipulation, cults and myths.
Bolton's prose is rawly descriptive and blunt. Events are presented in a cold and analytical way, yet to offset this the author has created a sensitive, vulnerable character in Tora, who buries her feelings of confusion, pain and loss deeply. At first I did not like Tora, thinking her weak, misguided and a little dense, but after awhile I realized she is someone juggling a lot of issues and handling them the best she is capable of. Tora has difficulty making friends and with communication. People don't warm to her readily and she knows it. She has fears, inadequacies and issues to overcome. I would describe her as having questionable self-esteem, a frustrated, nervous temperament...yet tenacity of will and a caring heart. Someone that I could relate to rather than being some grand heroine or superwoman.
Bolton does a great job of disguising the true motivations of the characters, which made the story very suspenseful. I did not like most of the characters in the novel...we are not given much background on the characters, rather just the bare bones of their lives...and actually I do not think the author wants you to like any of the characters either. The tension, disapproval and antagonism between particular characters is portrayed well and really comes across in the writing.
One word in the story - a character's career - led me to figuring out some of the plot but by no means led to unravelling everything, as the story has been very cleverly crafted. Of course there are a few plot holes and loose threads (Why exactly did Dr. Kenn Gifford state (lie?) that KT meant Keloid Trauma when he must have known it meant something else entirely...he could not have been kept in the dark about everything...but we are left to ponder!) but the premise and setting are unique which makes for an out of the ordinary read.
I really liked this book and think its a solid debut effort by S.J. Bolton. Although it took me awhile to warm up to it, once I did, I did not want to put the book down and could not get the story out of my head. My Rating: 4.0

September 25, 2009

E-Book Universe

A very good pictoral summary of how the e-book world is interconnected!

September 19, 2009

Pondering My Intimidating Bookcase

Somehow the actual collecting of books is insidiously replacing my enjoyment of reading.
I remember the joy of finding two or three books at the bookstore and then returning home to snuggle with a blanket on the sofa or in bed, with a cup a tea and cookie. I would read for a good three hours or so until I had finished one of the books I had bought...then most likely I would have started on the second. I had piles of books around my bed, under my bed, in shoe-box after shoe-box and in what closet space I could cram them into and in rubber maid containers stacked upon each other. With finally owning a home I determined to buy a bookcase which I then saved for and took my time picking out so I picked the right one.
When the bookcase first arrived I loved it, loved looking at it and running my eyes over all my precious books. Every time I walked into the house my eyes were drawn to it and I could smell the newness of the wood stain. Now more often than not to look at my bookcase raises anxiety instead of pleasure.
The left half of the bookcase are books I have read and the right half contains the unread ones...over 120 of them (and I have more put away in boxes and another bookshelf ). When I first started buying books to fill up the shelves I told myself I was doing so, so that when I retire or when I am on vacation I can pick from the bookshelf instead of going to the bookstore. That I would already have collected all my favourite fiction. What I did not realize was that the more unread books I have on the shelves the more difficulty I have in actually picking out a book to read. With wanting to read all the books I am finding it very difficult to pick just one.
I know I am lucky... not everyone can afford to buy books. I do miss the library but really not all that much because I have replaced that experience with the purchasing of books in a bookstore or online. I've turned into the type of person who cannot pass a bookstore by without stopping and hunting down books I've put on my To Buy list. I use Bookpedia to track the books I own and those on my wish list, which I then export to my iPod so I can always carry around a list of my To Buy. I spend a lot of time browsing online bookstores, LibraryThing, and GoodReads for reviews...time that could have been spent more enjoyably actually reading a book!! If only that darn bookcase would stop intimidating me.
Is there therapy for those who are book obsessed? I mean seriously, I need to create a plan of attack to stop allowing my bookcase to push me around. Instead of standing in front of it waiting for inspiration to strike, I think a good start may be to pick out three to five books that appeal, take them to another part of the house and see if one of them stands out. Do you have any helpful suggestions? Are you similarly book obsessed?

September 17, 2009

Bye Bye TuesdayThinger

Life can be unpredictable... the last few months I have tried my best to keep up with the weekly TuesdayThinger post but there have been many times I have not been very successful at doing so. Who would of thought posting only weekly would get so difficult!! I'm the time of person who keeps her promises and its been frustrating for me that my TuesdayThinger post keeps on getting later and later in the week. With that said, after close to a year and 43 TuesdayThinger posts later I am retiring from the group.
I love LibraryThing and highly recommend buying a lifetime membership (only $25). If you are new to LibraryThing I suggest subscribing to Wendi's Book Corner and following the TuesdayThinger posts. You can discover a lot about LibraryThings' features and learn educational helpful hints and tricks.
I'm thinking of some big life changes next year and I've been very involved in researching possibilities. I'm not going to get into specifics now but I hope next year to make an announcement about exactly what I am up to!

September 11, 2009

Fourth Novel in the Mistress of the Art of Death Series

A Murderous Procession looks to be the next novel, book four, in the Mistress of the Art of Death series by Ariana Franklin (Putnam). There is some conflicting information as ChaptersIndigo shows the book to be released in trade paperback February 2, 2010 and is showing hardcover in April 10, 2010.
Summary from Chapters:
Joanna, the youngest of King Henry's daughters, is on her way to marry William II, king of Sicily. The journey will be long and dangerous, so Henry sends the only doctor he trusts-Adelia Aquilar, who is just as gifted with the living as she is with the dead. Usually, Adelia would be eager to visit her homeland, but Henry insists she leave her daughter in England as insurance she'll return. Adelia takes out her bitterness on Rowley, her former lover and Henry's most loyal man. Rowley is along for protection because a princess travelling with a fortune in jewels and gold is a tempting target, especially when among the treasures is the great sword Excalibur. Henry has decided to give it to his future son-in-law and greatest ally-to keep it from his ambitious sons. But the scheming of princes is nothing compared to a madman who seeks revenge because he blames Adelia for his lover's death...
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September 8, 2009

Gothic Fiction - Historical and Timeslip Favourites

I just wanted to highlight the excellent Die, Gothic, Die post by Special Guest Emily Ryan Davis from Scorched Sheets posting at Romancing The Blog, in which she poses the question to readers whether the Gothic romance novel is real and truly, dead. I completely agree with Emily that this category of novel is still firmly alive, albeit I think it has been repackaged and hidden within other categories like timeslip, historical fiction, paranormal romance and fantasy romance.
Wikipedia has a great summary about exactly what Gothic fiction/Gothic romance is and its historical roots. My first experience with Gothic romance fiction was reading Victoria Holt as a teenager...her books totally suited my mind frame at the time...depressed, moody and overly dramatic. After reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott I looked into her backlist and realized that she wrote a collection of Gothic short stories anonymously called A Whisper in the Dark. If you want to read pure Gothic fiction I highly recommend this collection. I am very fond of historical fiction and timeslip novels that incorporate gothic elements and if you are looking for further reading in these genres I would recommend: A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander
A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
A Great and Terribble Beauty by Libby Bray (YA)
Rebel Angels by Libby Bray (YA)
The Sweet Far Thing by Libby Bray (YA)
Jayne Eyre by Charlotte Bronte Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley Sepulchre by Kate Mosse Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn Silent in the Santuary by Deanna Raybourn Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn Frankenstein by Mary Shelly Perfume by Patrick Suskind Dracula by Bram Stoker Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon Here's a list of Gothic fiction from LibraryThing based on tag cloud popularity. Here's a list of Gothic romance fiction from LibraryThing based on tag cloud popularity.

Tuesday Thingers

Today's Questions from Wendi's Book Corner: Have you explored the Series feature of your Statistics? Were you surprised by how many series you have/haven't read? Were your series mostly complete, or did you find that you had only read one book from a lot of different series? What was the largest number of books in a series? Feel free to answer a few or all of these questions.
Well I'm back from a two week hiatus being vacationing in the fabulous Okanagan in British Columbia, Canada. I managed to read four books and review two with another review on the way.
Let me just say that I think this week's TuesdayThinger question is great and ties in to my vacation reading, as one of the books I read was part of a series. I think I have only visited the LibraryThing Statistics page a couple times and never have I looked at the Series feature but its I think its very cool. I guess I love to read series because I own books from 110 of them. I'm totally blown away... although now that I think about it I also love to collect books by my favourite authors so it makes some sense.
What I did realize was that I actually own a lot of books that I have not added to my library yet so its hard for me to tell whether I have many completed series but I do like to own the complete the series by favourite authors. I was also shocked by certain series where I realized there were much books in the series than I had thought (i.e. J.D. Robb In Death series). If I actually added to my library all the books I own I think my largest number of series would be the Bridgertons by Julia Quinn at 14.

September 2, 2009

Arabella by Georgette Heyer

Daughter of a modest country clergyman, Arabella Tallant is on her way to London when her carriage breaks down outside the hunting lodge of the wealthy Mr. Robert Beaumaris. Her pride stung when she overhears a remark of her host's, Arabella pretends to be an heiress, a pretense that deeply amuses the jaded Beau. To counter her white lie, Beaumaris launches her into high society and thereby subjects her to all kinds of fortune hunters and other embarrassments.

When compassionate Arabella rescues such unfortunate creatures as a mistreated chimney sweep and a mixed-breed mongrel, she foists them upon Beaumaris, who finds he rather enjoys the role of rescuer and is soon given the opportunity to prove his worth in the person of Arabella's impetuous young brother...  

Arabella Tallant is the eldest daughter of eight children and considered a Beauty. The Tallant family lives in a cozy parsonage, the father being Reverend Henry Tallant, in genteel poverty. With little aspiration for Arabella contriving a great match in Yorkshire (a must to help marry off the rest of the girls and provide a living for the son's) Mrs. Tallant's long-held dream has been to have Arabella's godmother, Lady Bridlington, sponsor a London season for Arabella. When the invitation comes Arabella is very aware of how fortunate she is and resolves to make a good match to help support her family. Although she is a soft-hearted, conscientious girl, Arabella's temper gets the better of her when she overhears a careless remark made by the Nonpareil Beaumaris (one of the richest and most sought after bachelor's in England), leading her to prevaricate on her birth and circumstance...that she is The Rich Tallant!
The novel is a delightful bit of silliness. Its hard to believe such an eligible, rich bachelor as Beaumaris would have a heart of mush inside his facade of "cool civility" but Heyer always has a way of making her heros and heroines endear themselves to you. Beaumaris talks about his noble consequence but always in the end his actions are kinder than his words belie. Arabella is sweet and naive, although tenaciously single-minded in what she believes is right and wrong...causing much confusion and muddling of events in the Bridlington household and for the beleaguered Beaumaris...but he would not have it any other way!!!
Although at 312 pages shorter in length than most of her novels, and with the classic wit, strong characterization, and humorous happenings we have come to expect, Arabella is another winner from Heyer.
My Rating: 4.0

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