Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review: The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
by Elizabeth Laird
Release Date: April 18, 2011
2011 Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
E-book Edition; Hardcover (432 Pages)
ISBN-13: 978-0-547-34126-2
Genre: Young Adult Historical
Source: Review Copy from Net Galley

4 / 5 Stars

In seventeenth-century Scotland, saying the wrong thing can lead to banishment - or worse. Accused of being a witch, sixteen-year-old Maggie Blair is sentenced to be hanged. She escapes, but instead of finding shelter with her principled, patriotic uncle, she brings disaster to his door.

Betrayed by one of her own accusers, Maggie must try to save her uncle and his family from the king's men, even if she has to risk her own life in the process.

My Thoughts
The Betrayal of Maggie Blair was an amazingly rich blend of history and fiction and I enjoyed it tremendously.  I thought the cover to this book was really beautiful, and really seemed to match the haunting prose of this richly written novel.

Maggie Blair was an interesting character and definitely a product of the times.  Growing up with her grandmother, she is ostracized from the community and living on barely nothing.  Her conditions growing up have made her insecure and uncertain, and it didn't help that her grandmother did not show her her the care and concern she craved and needed growing up.  To be honest, I really wasn't sure what to think of Maggie at first, as she didn't really have a lot of confidence and sort of let herself be led along by her overbearing and frightening grandmother.  When her grandmother was accused of being a witch, Maggie was renounced with her and arrested as well.  Growing up with the hardships she had to endure had made Maggie's grandmother a hard and cold woman and she often reacted with threats and dominance over others.  In a suspicious community such as this, it was inevitable that the cry of "Witch!" would eventually rear its ugly head.  I had to admire both Maggie and her grandmother as they endured the endless humiliation of the trials and imprisonment and stoically faced their neighbours with their pride intact. 

And Tam?  I just loved this man.  He was a scoundrel, a thief, a liar, and a drunkard, but his one redeeming quality was his loyalty and faithfulness and love for Maggie.  He went out of his way to protect her and help keep her safe and because of him, Maggie was able to help her Uncle during his imprisonment and escape during her own imprisonment.  His dodgy appearance was in complete contrast to Annie, who looked like an angel, but helped send Maggie to prison in the first place and caused her nothing but grief.  You always have the one character in a novel you would happily toss into the sea and she was the one for me. 

Ms. Laird describes seventeenth-century Scotland remarkably well.  The rich and vivid descriptions and beautiful language makes it feel as if you were right there along with Maggie, experiencing everything she experienced, including her doubts and fears and concerns.  That the story is loosely based on a true story makes it even more touching; everything Hugh Blair went through in this novel, the real Hugh Blair actually experienced.  Other characters in the novel also derive from the author's actual historical background and I found this knowledge quite fascinating and intriguing.  While I was somewhat familiar with the religious wars during this time period, this novel made me more interested in this time period and the plight of many people.  The descriptions of the tortures and tragedies that some of these people faced is heartrending.  The way of living, the people's attitudes and beliefs, the religious conflicts, the difficulties between the King and religious factions, were brought vividly to life and I devoured it.

I also really enjoyed the ending.  While I would have liked to have seen some romance in Maggie's life, with everything she went through, and everything she still had to deal with, she certainly wasn't ready to deal with a romantic entanglement at this point in her life, and it wasn't due to lack of opportunity either.  It is refreshing to read a novel where the story doesn't revolve around romantic entanglements, but deals with other areas of life.

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair was a fascinating blend of fiction and history.  With a rich portrayal of the time period, and the various superstitions and fears that existed, Maggie's amazing story is brought to life as she is betrayed over and over again, but rises to become a confident and fascinating young woman.  Learning to trust others as she was never taught to do, she teaches herself to find happiness in her life by searching her heart for what she truly seeks.  I really enjoyed this novel because it was about Maggie and her fighting for what she believes in; it was also about her seeking peace and comfort throughout everything, questioning the beliefs of all those around her, and drawing her own conclusions about events.  I am definitely looking forward to reading more by this author.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guest Post: The Healing Power of Poetry

Welcome to Lilian Brummet!!
Lillian Brummet is here with us today to share how writing poetry helped her overcome a traumatic past, discover her true passions, and find a purpose in life. Lillian's mother, Joanne, had four husbands, two of these were quite abusive, one became injured and addicted to drugs... and the stress was just too much for her. Diagnosed with a chronic illness at 42, with both of her sons already on their own before they were 16 and a mortgage to pay, Joanne just couldn't handle the teenage angst that her abused daughter was going through. And so at the age of 13, Lillian found a bag of her belongings on the front step and a note saying she was on her own. Since then she has found true love in a 20 year relationship with her co-writing husband Dave, and has pursued her passion for leaving a lasting legacy through her blog, radio show and the books or CD's that they produce. Find the Brummets at:

Poetry as Inspiration
Poetry was the beginning of my writing career, but it also provided a way for me to release the coveted emotions that I could not, would not release. You see, I could not share myself really with others; I didn’t know myself, so how could others ever really know me? Being alone much of my childhood and youth, I learned from observing and poetry became a way of recording an analyzing my interpretations of what I saw. Writing poetry allowed me to understand the past, stages of angst or strife, and how I fit into this world.

I grew up in an abusive, broken home with no fixed address and because of this I had a lot of rage, self-hate and confusion going on in my mind. The only thing that kept me sane and functioning in society was the power of poetry. I would write and write, and then burn it so that no one would ever know. Over time though I began to keep some of the bits of torn paper, scraps of napkins… these were kept in boxes or in binders. The first time a visitor found and read one of these, well - that really upset me, but their response actually became a validation of the writing. Eventually I was able to show them to others who would then encourage me to enter contests and query publications. After winning a few awards, I was prompted by readers to tell my story with a book.

When I began the developing the manuscript for Towards Understanding (1st edition, paperback Nov. 2005), I was intimidated by the sheer mass of work that needed to be gone through. In fact, there were over 300 poems written on loose-leaf pages – some were definitely not fit for others to see and were easily eliminated, others needed some tweaking. *Note: A revised, 2nd edition is now available.

Trepidation set in once the release date was announced, though. The scariest notion is that we cannot predict how any one reader will interpret our work the way it was meant. Poetry is an internal craft, a private craft of therapy and recordings of observations on life. Yet, this genre also requires a slightly different marketing approach – like reading the poems on live radio, in front of groups of people, and talk about the past. This required some practice, and repetition certainly built confidence over time – but what inspires me to continue promoting this book is hearing how much my story helps others.

The process of writing poetry, for me, is a matter of inspiration. I may not write for months and months – when all of a sudden a poem rises out off my chest and I can hardly get the pen to move fast enough to record the phrases in time. It is an amazing process – they just seem to come out all at once. The thoughts are so sudden and violent that I am often left with just snippets of what I heard in my head, but I keep them anyway.

I have returned to poetry time and time again – pouring out the grief from losing beloved pets, expressing thoughts on society, changing relationships, and dealing with my parents’ suicide. I’ve learned to use poetry to express humor, love and joy as well. This art-form of expression has been one of the greatest joys in my life - to play with words, painting with them, using new and old styles, techniques and rhythmic patterns.

Authors - Dave & Lillian Brummet

Purple Snowflake Marketing - How to Make Your Book Stand Out In A Crowd (e-book)
All the tools and marketing you need to promote your own book are included here - packed with value.

Trash Talk - Learn how you can impact the planet.  Learn about composting and saving money on your utilities bills. 
Coming Spring 2011

Towards Understanding - A collection of 120 poems on society, the environment & overcoming trauma.  An exploration of various poem structures also included.

Conscious Discussions Talk Radio:'s

Conscious Discussions is an hour-long talk show that discusses a wide variety of topics from writing and writing skills, waste management (composting, recycling, reusing, etc...), resource management (water, fuels, etc...), and sustainable business practices.  There are guests from all over the globe, and listeners celebrate those who are trying to make the world a better place in which to live.  For those interested in gardening and growing organic fruits and vegetables, listen in on the weekly discussions regarding gardening techniques.

Conscious Blog:


Bio: Dave and Lillian Brummet have been writing professionally as a team since 1999, starting out as free lance writers – which they continue to do today. To date, they have written 3 published books, as well as drum lesson and music CD’s. The Brummets are also the hosts of the Conscious Discussions talk radio show. They supplement these activities with a daily blog and a bi-weekly newsletter in an effort to provide ample information to their audience. The main focus of their work is to inspire hope in individuals, helping them realize the value of their efforts and encouraging them to become more positive, proactive in life.
Sunday, March 27, 2011

Review: Sudden Moves: A Young Adult Mystery by Kelli Sue Landon

Sudden Moves: A Young Adult Mystery
by Kelli Sue Landon
Release Date: December 31, 2010
2010 Outskirts Press, Inc.
Softcover Edition; 236 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-4327-6713-6
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Author

3.5 / 5 Stars

Michelle Martin grows suspicious when her friend, Katie Brashers, isn’t in attendance at school after a trip to Florida after Spring Break. The police and adult don’t see anything suspicious in Katie’s disappearance, especially considering Katie’s mother was known to have been flirtatious and people just assumed she must have run off with some man. Having lent Katie a special book given her by her grandmother however, and not having said good-bye to her friends and boyfriend, Michelle teams up with her best friend, Tami, and Katie’s boyfriend, Brad, to seek out the truth the Katie’s disappearance. Dodging a demanding mother, the threesome started their own investigation by talking to neighbours, and looking inside Katie’s house. With clues leading into one dead-end after another, Michelle is about to give up when her dog helps her find the most important clue of all and leads her into danger she doesn’t suspect and circumstances beyond what she would ever expect.

Michelle Martin was an engaging young lady whom I really enjoyed as a main character. I really liked her tenaciousness and passive/aggressiveness in trying to find clues that would lead her to find her friend Katie. I also liked her vulnerability with regards to her relationship with her mother, someone whom I really did not like, nor did I really relate to at all. It would be very difficult to deal with someone who has these unpredictable mood swings all of the time, and she handle the situations with maturity and grace. When Michelle finally stood up for herself at dinner one night, I really liked how the author handled the scene as she didn’t lower it to one of Michelle acting like a young child, but allowed Michelle to handle her mother with great aplomb and maturity. I also really liked Mr. Nichols and found him hilarious. He is one of those older people who are retired and don’t have a lot to do, but certainly tend to notice everyone around them. He would have a lot to say about life and I found him terribly interesting. My only concern with the character development is the relationship between Katie and Michelle as I didn’t really feel like there was any bonding between them, like there was a caring relationship. I felt the only reason Michelle wanted to find Katie was to get her book back and that is really no reason for someone to go to all this trouble. It created some confusion as I didn’t fully believe that Michelle’s reasons for looking for Katie were altruistic.

While I really enjoyed Sudden Moves and found it to be a quick, easy read, I have to admit that I did find the plot somewhat predictable, despite some of the twists and turns that did catch me off guard. I also found Michelle’s obsession with getting her book back somewhat irritating, as the characters would be in the middle of an important scene, and suddenly Michelle would bring up her book, and spoil the scene. While the book did have its importance in the final chapters of the novel, it felt more like it was thrown in rather than an important point of the plot. It also seemed like the author didn’t really know where she wanted to go with the plotline as there were too many plotlines thrown in towards the end and it didn’t really mesh well together. I really wish she had stuck to just one or two as the book could have been really great. Despite all this, I was engrossed in the novel and really wanted to find out what happened in the end. The last two lines of the book were great!

The novel was easy to read, and the language was kept simple and familiar. She writes with an open style that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable, trying to emulate the language of teenagers. While it worked most of the time, there were times when I felt she was trying too hard and it seemed somewhat forced. I like how the message of the book is kept simple however, as some of the young adult novels can be pretty heavy. This one is lighter and younger readers will definitely enjoy this one. I am looking forward to reading more novels by Kelli Sue Landon. Sudden Moves was a novel that kept me engaged until the final page.

In My Mailbox - Some Great Reading!!

In My Mailbox, hosted by The Story Siren, is a weekly meme whereby we highlight those books we either received for review, bought, borrowed from the library or from somewhere else, or received by some other means.  It's a great way to find books that we may be interested in reading.  Anyone can join.

For Review:
Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detective Edited by Justin Gustanis
The Sorcerer's House by Gene Wolfe
Haunt Me Still by Jennifer Lee Carrell
The Queen's Lady by Eve Edwards
Demon Song by Cat Adams
Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston &  Lincoln Child
Nine Man's Murder by Eric Keith
Haunting Jasmine by Anjali Banerjee
River Marked by Patricia Briggs
Mists of Velvet: The Immortal of Annwyn (Book 2) by Sophie Renwick
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

It has been an interesting week for receiving books in the mail.  "If it doesn't rain, it pours."

Borrowed from the library:
None this week as I am too busy reading review copies.  I do have some great books coming up as they will soon be released and I will put everything aside to read the.  Jondalar and Ayla's continuing story is one of them I am anxiously awaiting.

From the bookstore:
I am onto my third month of my book ban and still going strong.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched (Matched, Book 1)
by Ally Condie
Release Date: November 30, 2010
2010 Dutton Books
Hardcover Edition; 373 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-525-42364-5
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Penguin Canada

3.5 / 5

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

My Thoughts
Matched is an interesting love triangle involving 17-year-old Cassia and her best friend Xander and a boy she never really gave much thought to until she sees his face flash across her screen the night of her Matching ceremony.  Intrigued, though in denial to herself, she sets about getting to know him better, breaking the rules of her society for the first time in her life.  Her slow development into a questioning being is rather intriguing and her fall into someone who sneaks around and learns to lie about her activities definitely sets up some scenes for some rather interesting drama.

I was rather fascinated by the dystopian world that Ms. Condie created as it made a lot of sense and seemed like a natural progression from where we are currently.  In fact, it's rather creepy seeing a world that could one day be our own.  Cassia's world is one that abides strictly by rules, where Infractions and Warnings can lead people to be relocated almost immediately and Aberrations can never be fully functioning members of the Society.  People are served their own personal meals, full of specialized vitamins and minerals, the goals being to produce healthy, functioning people.  While it makes perfect sense, I often wondered what else was put into the food; besides, it takes the fun out of shopping and cooking.  People's lives are so organized they are told what to do and when to do it, with little will of their own.  The Society, a totalitarian type government, controls every aspect of a person's life, and while perfectly logical, it is terrifying in the extreme.

While the novel was about learning to fight against Society, but in subtle ways, there was some romance involved as well.  This was part of the problem for me however, as I just didn't feel the connection between Cassia and Ky on that level, or between Cassia and Xander either, for that matter.  While I enjoyed the characters, I felt like they didn't have a lot of depth to them and really wanted more from them.  I wanted to feel the emotions, the anger, the love.  While I did enjoy the plot and found it engrossing, it was definitely on a lighter note and didn't match the heavier subject material of The Giver, The Hunger Games, or Fahrenheit 451.  The writing style was incredibly easy to read, and is perfect for a younger audience.  The ultra-clean material also makes it perfect for a younger age group to sink themselves into.  For me however, it lacked a lot of the rich description and expressive language that would have made it a more interesting read.   I did like how Ms. Condie used poetry in this novel to set up some of the plot points however, and Dylan Thomas is an old favourite of mine.

Matched was an interesting novel, and just plain fun.  I enjoyed the characters, the setting, and the plotline.  I really wish however, that there had been more depth to the storyline and to the characters themselves as it would have added that extra something to make this novel great.  I am definitely looking forward to reading Crossed when it is published in November 2011.
Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's Time to Get Personal Again!!

Enquiring Minds Want to Know!!

1. Have you ever traveled outside of Canada?
I have travelled quite a bit outside of Canada.  I have been to Mexico several times, to Jamaica, to Dominican Republic.  I did an exchange to France when I was in high school, plus I have travelled to Europe on different excursions.  I have been to Scotland, England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and Croatia.  I have also travelled quite extensively in the United States.  I am supposed to be going to Italy next year.

2. If you could pack up today on a vacation and money was no issue where would you go?
That's a no-brainer.  Everywhere!!!

3. Is there somewhere in Canada that you have never been that you would like to visit?
I would love to go to British Columbia as I have never been.  We're planning on going in the next few years, but we'll see how it goes.  My family has a goal and we've been trying to meet it.  We have a map of Canada and the United States posted in our office and our goal is to visit each state in the United States and each province in Canada.  So far we have been to Florida, Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Michigan.  As a family, we have only travelled through Ontario, although both my husband and I have travelled through Quebec and many of the eastern provinces. 

Booking Through Thursday

Hosted by: Booking Through Thursday

Series? Or stand-alone books?
It really depends.  There are some series I absolutely love.  Jeaniene Frost's novels come to mind as well as Ayla and Jondalar's story in the Earth Children's series.  There are some I got tired of pretty quickly and have a really hard time going back to, even though I have heard it's worth picking them up again.  An example of this is The Wheel of Time series.  I got stuck somewhere in the middle of Book 7 and haven't read any since then.  I also had a hard time with Richard and Kahlan's story as I couldn't handle seeing them get into so much trouble all of the time.  It got to the point where I wanted to see them be happy.  And there are some I will never continue as they just got worse over time and it's time to pack it in.

I also adore stand-alone books too.  Sometimes it's nice to read something knowing there's only going to be one book and that's it.  It's a break from the series and trilogies and I don't have to wait years waiting for the next book to be published.  Besides, some books are never meant to have sequels.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Angelfire (Angelfire Trilogy, Book 1)
by Courtney Allison Moulton
Release Date: February 15, 2011
2011 Harper Collins Inc.
E-book Edition; 464 Pages (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-0-062-00232-7
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Net Galley

4 / 5 Stars

Whenordinary seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers-monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell-she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between Angels and the Fallen, and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious boy named Will, who has been waiting sixty years for her return, reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the onlyone armed with angelfire, and capable of fighting the reapers. He is animmortal sworn to protect her in battle. Her soul has been reborn againand again over the centuries to fight the reapers, and he's been there for five hundred years to protect and fight alongside her. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her-an assassin who has already killed her once. At the same time, Ellie is falling in love with Will, even though they know their relationship should be impossible.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to destroy Ellie's soul forever, not to mention the devastating ramifications for human souls. Now she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives-including truths that may be too frightening to remember.

My Thoughts
In Angelfire, we are introduced to another very interesting and intriguing Heaven versus Hell concept, whereby Ellie, an unsuspecting high school senior, is introduced to a life she never suspected after succumbing to a variety of disturbing and terrifying dreams.  When her life proves to be in danger over and over again, and she develops and uses skills (and weapons) she has never had previous training in, she is shocked to learn that she is the reincarnated destroyer of evil things.  I found the author's mix of religions and religious thought as well as mythology, was wrapped up rather neatly in a rather entertaining and satisfying suspense novel, and was hooked into the story right from the beginning.

Ellie was a strong female character and thought she handled the knowledge of who she was with applomb and tact.  While somewhat skeptical at first, the constantly appearing monsters trying to kill her and those she loved quickly put all notions of skepticism aside and she rather quickly had to adapt to the situations or die.  I really liked how the author focused on her adolescent conflicts and didn't let Ellie sink into the doom and gloom we see so often in some characters; while she does often wonder why she was chosen for the task, the novel focuses more on her dealing with the situations and the confusion and consequences of her constant lying and sneaking around.  I like how she doesn't always succeed with her lies and has to face the consequences of her actions with her mother and her friends.

What I would like to know however, is what's up with the dad?  I couldn't really figure him out, and I can't say I liked him very much.  I have my suspicions as to what is going on and I'm really hoping we learn more about him in future novels.  My heart really went out to Ellie whenever she had to deal with him however, like any normal child who has difficulties in their relationships with their parents. 

Now Will is a character I absolutely adored.  And I really loved the last line in the novel and can't wait to see what happens to the relationship between Ellie and Will.  I really think Will underestimated Ellie's strength of mind and perhaps he forgot that every Preliator is slightly different because they are born in different bodies and with different experiences.  They may all have the same physical strength, but they don't all have the same inner strength, even if they are all the same person, and Will may have just met his match in Ellie. Does that make sense?   I can't wait to see the sparks fly!!!  And when Ellie regains all of her memories, things should get really interesting.

The whole time I was reading this book, I was thinking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and that is a good thing as I am a secret fan of the series (not so secret any more).  Basically, we have a girl who at her core is a good girl and wants to do right by her friends and family.  She wants her mom and dad to be proud of her accomplishments, but she can't tell them anything about being Preliator so she is leading a double life and it is hurting her inside.  I adore this kind of stuff and was thrilled to learn this was the first book of a planned trilogy.  Give me hidden swords, deep secrets, tattoos made with special spells, a good-looking man, angels and demons, the end of the world storyline, mythology, religion, and mix it all up and I'm hooked. 

Angelfire was an enjoyable read and I am definitely looking forward to Wings of the Wicked and Hymn to the Fallen when they are released.  The story is full of non-stop action and suspense and will satisfy readers until the end, although it does leaves you hanging a bit.  Ms. Moulton gives us a mythological world that isn't overwhelming as it is doled out in satisfying bits, but at the same time, makes you want to learn even more.  I am interested in seeing where things are headed in books 2 and 3 and I am curious as to how the relationships will develop and the plot will flow.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across The Universe
by Beth Revis
Release Date: January 11, 2011
2011 Razorbill Books
Softcover Edition; 416 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-59514-397-6
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Penguin Canada

4 / 5 Stars

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed this young adult science-fiction novel, especially as they are few and far between.  I found the premise rather intriguing and wondered what would make a young girl decide to leave her friends and her life, let herself be cryogenically frozen, and placed aboard a ship destined for a new planet 300 years in the future.  In a way, this novel was also partly dystopian, with some mystery and romance thrown in as well. 

Across the Universe follows the story of Amy, a seventeen-year-old girl, who is accidentally awakened from her cryogenic chamber almost fifty years before landing on the new planet.  Her bright vivid hair and colouring and different thought processes set her apart from the other people on the ship and she finds herself confused as she fights for her life in the face of dangers she little understands.  The novel also follows the story of Elder, a boy who is destined to be the next leader of the ship, and we learn through his eyes some of the problems the ship, and its people, are facing.  As Elder and Amy become friends and allies, together they must discover the secrets of the ship in order to stay alive.

I really enjoyed Amy's character and could understand her bewilderment and frustration as she learns of the lies and untruths the people have been taught.  I found her courageous and smart, someone who is trying to survive in surroundings that are strange and bewildering.  When she learns about the strange behaviours of the people on the ship, we see things through her eyes and it makes it seem even worse.  The control and discipline that is doled out on the ship is scary and frightening, and many of the scenes are meant to make the reader as uncomfortable as Amy.  Ms. Revis is very subtle in her use of language and I have to admire the way she manipulates the language to make you feel a certain way or to make you feel uncomfortable.

The plot was interesting and moved along quite steadily, with engaging questions that kept me entertained for many pages.  I enjoyed having the two viewpoints to the story and while that may bother some people, it certainly didn't bother me.  The differing point of views really added to the storyline, often adding important clues to the story or sometimes witholding information that made you want to know more.  I found that the ending however, was somewhat rushed and I wasn't completely satisfied; it just seemed to end abruptly and too neatly.  I wish there had been a little something more to the ending. 

I really enjoyed this novel and found the concept of being cryogenically frozen and shipped to another planet rather intriguing.  To be awoken before reaching your destination, and dealing with the bitter aftershock of that realization, is an interesting concept and one that was dealt with moderately successfully in this novel.  I think that some of the moral implications of this novel were not addressed, but I don't want to speak about them here as I will give away some important plot details, but they do need to be discussed somewhat further.  Hopefully, some of the unanswered questions that I have from this novel will be addressed in further sequels to Across the Universe.  Otherwise, Across the Universe was a satisfying read.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: A Trail of Ink by Mel Starr & GC Contest

by Mel Starr
Release Date: February 28, 2011
2011 Monarch Books
Softcover Edition; 240 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-854-24974-6
Genre: Historical Mystery
Source: Review Copy provided by Liftuse Blog Tours

An excellent medieval whodunit by the author of The Unquiet Bones and A Corpse at St Andrew's Chapel

Some valuable books have been stolen from Master John Wyclif, the well known scholar and Bible translator. He calls upon his friend and former pupil, Hugh de Singleton, to investigate. Hugh's investigation leads him to Oxford where he again encounters Kate, the only woman who has tempted him to leave bachelor life behind, but Kate has another serious suitor. As Hugh's pursuit of Kate becomes more successful, mysterious accidents begin to occur. Are these accidents tied to the missing books, or to his pursuit of Kate?

One of the stolen books turns up alongside the drowned body of a poor Oxford scholar. Another accident? Hugh certainly doesn t think so, but it will take all of his surgeon s skills to prove.

So begins another delightful and intriguing tale from the life of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon in the medieval village of Bampton. Masterfully researched by medieval scholar Mel Starr, the setting of the novel can be visited and recognized in modern-day England. Enjoy more of Hugh s dry wit, romantic interests, evolving faith, and dogged determination as he pursues his third case as bailiff of Bampton.

My Thoughts
As always, it takes me several chapters to get used to the style of writing in these novels as Mr. Starr chooses to use language that is more appropriate to the style of the time.  While I can adapt and even enjoy the style of the time, some readers may have difficulty with this and it may even be unappealing to some.  Thankfully, a glossary is provided at the beginning of the book which enables the reader to check some of the words and terms and understand what is being talked about.  It does slow down the development of the plot and characters if you are constantly checking, but perseverance does pay off as this was an interesting mystery, with a lot of depth and interesting detail of fourteenth century life.

I absolutely love historical fiction and appreciate the enormous amount of research an author has to do to bring a period to life in such a way.  From the archaic way the people spoke, to the way they dressed, to the food they ate, and to their living conditions, the novel held a fascinating description of life in all of its forms.  I was especially interested in the practice of medicine and the thoughts and beliefs that people practiced during that time.  The court system was also interesting, and how closely Hugh came to being hanged based on the word of a noble was downright scary.  And when he claimed the Benefit of Clergy in order to save his life, something I had never heard of, Hugh had to read a Bible passage in Latin perfectly and the 'judge' would decide if he read it perfectly or not.  It was a joke as the judge could already have it in for you and if he decides you're guilty, you're guilty.  The judge and the sheriff were the same person in this case, someone who had it in for Hugh.  Scary stuff!!  It was interesting to me that someone in the clergy would not be present to see if the passage was read correctly as the 'judge' may not even be able to read Latin.

I really like the way historical figures were presented in a candid way, with their problems laid out before them realistically.  It took me a few chapters to realize that the John Wyclif portrayed in the novel was the man who would become famous for his English Bible translations.  In this novel he was just a man trying to deal with the constant conflict between the secular and religious scholars. 

One of my concerns with this novel was the plot.  While the story was filled with interesting and charming characters and fascinating tidbits of the time period, the plot took a long time to get going and I wasn't totally certain exactly what the mystery was about until many chapters into the novel.  It wasn't until Hugh was captured and jailed that I really found myself into the novel and captivated from that point on.  Until that point, I felt like I was reading just to read.   While I love reading from the first person, I do find that it is more difficult to weave more complex plot elements from that viewpoint.  I also found the ending was somewhat abrupt and didn't quite tie up all the loose elements.  Despite this, I enjoyed the novel and all its various quirks, and I definitely love the teaser in the final paragraph.

A Trail of Ink is a fascinating description of fourteenth century life as Hugh searches for lost books.  While that doesn't seem like much today, twenty-two books would have been a fortune for a monk during this time period.  While the plot took a long time to pick up speed, once it did, it hooked me completely and I was fascinated and enthralled.  With a less than satisfying ending, it did leave off with a tantalyzing hook for the next book in the series, Unhallowed Ground, which I am really looking forward to reading.  What Mel Starr does so well, however, is make you feel as if you're standing in fourteenth century England, with vivid descriptions and beautiful attention to detail.  All in all it was a satisfying read.

About the Author
Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After graduating with a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970, he taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.
Contest Time!!
Kregel Publishers is graciously donating a $50 gift card for the Litfuse Blog Tour Contest! Woo-hoo (thanks Kregel!) All you have to do to enter is either tweet (see TWEET THIS below) or share the book on Facebook using this link:

TWEET THIS: A Trail of Ink by Mel Star. An excellent medieval whodunit. RT for a chance to win a $50 GC to @amazon! #litfuse
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Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 13th - March20th - Away on Holidays!!

Curling Up By The Fire is away on holidays!  Have a great week everybody!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Personal Time!

Hi everyone! I really enjoy the Thursday memes where it's time to get personal and share a little bit about yourself.  Although I focus mainly on reviewing books and guard my privacy like crazy, I do like to share some things about myself. 

Enquiring Minds Want to Know is a weekly meme hosted by Dollycas's Thoughts.  It's a fun way to share some interesting things about yourself that you wouldn't normally discuss in a regular post.  We spend a lot of time on our computers, often sharing thoughts and comments, but we don't really know each other that well.  As they do in the younger grades, something I always rather enjoyed which says a lot about my mental state, it's "special share day".

1. Author Jessica Park commented this week on Facebook that "Naming characters takes me almost as long as it does to write the book." which led me to start thinking about names. Is there a story behind your first name?

I was supposed to be named Jennifer.  My mother really wanted her first child to have that name and throughout her pregnancy she insisted on calling me Jennifer, even insisting she was carrying a girl.  As soon as I was born, she called me Stephanie and that was that.  My dad tried reminding her about the 'Jennifer' name, but you don't ever argue with someone who just went through labour as she insisted on Stephanie, and Stephanie it is.  I'm really glad I wasn't named Jennifer as I went through elementary school with four Jennifers in my class and that would not have been fun.

2. Do you think parents today give more thought to the names they give their children than our parents did?

I don't really think so.  I've seen some pretty unusual names, but I also see many of the traditional come through all the time too.  My grandmother's name was Jeanne D'Arc.  In English, that would be Joan of Arc, and today that would be pretty original and unprecedented.  Even for a girl born in the early twenties in a rural French community, it was pretty unusual.

3. What is the most unusual child's name you have noticed recently?

I have no idea.  I am a teacher so I come across some pretty unusual and fascinating names all of the time.  What I really like is the unusual spellings of everyday names such as Kamron, Holleigh, Ashleigh, Ashelynne, Quinne, Margherhite, Aprille, and so on.  I see a lot of that now and it's pretty neat. 

Do you multi-task when you read? Do other things like stirring things on the stove, brushing your teeth, watching television, knitting, walking, et cetera?

Or is it just me, and you sit and do nothing but focus on what you’re reading?

(Or, if you do both, why, when, and which do you prefer?)

I do both actually, but it depends on what I am doing.  I can definitely read while watching television, but when things get interesting on television, or in my book, I will give either my undivided attention instead of just part of my concentration.   My husband is always amazed that I can do that as he definitely can't.  Maybe it's a skill I've learned through watching my mom do it when I was young as she always read and watched tv and always knew what was going on.  And I always tried to emulate my mom.

I can definitely read and cook and do other things.  I can't read and exercise though.  I've tried and it just doesn't work.  I've switched to audiobooks for that as I can't hold a book and walk without walking into something, you know, like a tree, a car, a hole, and hurt myself terribly.  And hurts take a lot longer to heal today than they did twenty years ago.  Besides, I like looking at things when I walk.  And reading is for passing the time when I am bored. 

Which one do I prefer?  Oh, reading quietly with no distractions, for sure.  I still have a list when I was five years old of the ten things I could never do without and BOOKS were at the top of my list then and would probably still be at the top of my list today.  Today, however, it would say EREADER as it can hold more books.
Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers

Bride of New France
by Suzanne Desrochers
Release Date:  January 18, 2011
2011 Penguin Canada
Softcover Edition; 294 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-14-317338-0
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Bride of New France was an interesting and fascinating tale of life in both France and in New France by debut author Suzanne Desrochers.

Bride of New France tells the story of Laure Beausejour, who at seven-years-old, was taken away from her parents and sent to live in Salpetriere, a dormitory in Paris surrounded by prostitutes, the insane, and other forgotten women.  With her closest friend Madeleine, she learns needlework skills and dreams of one day opening her own shop and marrying well.  But in 1669, due to circumstances beyond her control, Madeleine and Laure are sent to New France as filles du roi, part of the king's mandate to clean the streets of the destitute, but also to populate his new colony in the new world by sending women to marry the men and bear children.  Laure and Madeleine now have to face a terrible journey across the Atlantic into an unknown destination where all they've heard about is the ferocious winters and men who eat the heart of French priests.  To be banished to Canada is a terrible fate and Laure wonders what she has done to deserve this fate.

As a Canadian with roots in French Canada, I was excited to be able to read this novel.  Ms. Desrochers has a way of bringing history to life and I could picture the way everything looked, felt, and smelt.  The early lives of these settlers were pretty brutal and many people died or couldn't handle it and returned to France.  Because the story revolved around Laure, many of the details of the settlement did fade into the background which disappointed me as I wanted to learn more, but it is a fiction novel and not a non-fiction tale.

Laure's character was an interesting persona.  To be honest, I wasn't sure if I liked her or not as she had this coldness about her that I couldn't understand a lot of the time.  She wrapped herself in a kind of aloofness that kept her from associating with other girls, whether in Salpetriere or on the ship or in the settlement in New France.  I understood that this aloofness was her way of fighting for whatever little bit she could get in an environment that was unforgiving and ruthless, but there were times when I wish she showed a little more compassion for others.  Knowing the challenges that she would have faced coming from France and trying to eke out a living in New France on her own, little expecting the brutality of a Canadian winter, I can understand her temerity to want to try to survive on her own, but there were times when I could have shaken her and told her it's not a sign of weakness to ask for help once in a while.  I also found her feelings of superiority to the other filles du roi somewhat snobby.  Again, I understand it's self-protection in a very difficult world, but I often wondered if she would have fared better if she trusted a little more.  Yet, despite all this, I rooted for her all of the time.  I wanted her to succeed, to be happy, and to get that little bit that should be hers. 

The first part of the novel takes place in France, and you get a vivid description of Laure's life during this time.  She suffers through many trials, always hungry, cold, and facing a life of dreadful poverty, and the descriptions of Paris are pretty amazing.  I felt like I was right there, feeling Laure's hunger and her desperation.  The rest of the novel deals with the voyage across the ocean and Laure's life in New France.  Again, the descriptions are vivid, with great descriptions of life and secondary characters in New France.  I especially enjoyed reading about Madame Rouillard and would have liked to have learned more about her.  The plot was interesting and in many parts, unexpected.  I certainly didn't expect Laure's life to go the way it did.  I am left wondering what happened to Laure and Madame Rouillard after the novel ended.

Bride of New France was a fascinating read about the early settlement in New France.  I am definitely looking forward to many more novels from Suzanne Desrochers.
Saturday, March 5, 2011

30 Great Books That Teach Children To be Green

Hello everyone!  I was recently contacted by Jasmine who is working with a site called  Together, they have recently published an article entitled "30 Great Books That Teach Children To Be Green".  As a parent who is constantly on my children about preserving paper and saving energy and the benefits of recycling, this article really intrigued me.  I have spent a lot of time over the years looking for craft books that are "green" in nature, ones that focus on using what you already have in your house in order to make/create some great things.  Now my kids are on my case about recycling and I love that!!!  With Jasmine's permission, I am reposting the article here to highlight these great books.

30 Great Books That Teach Children To Be Green

It’s never to early to teach kids to be green. From the moment they are born, kids impact the world, and the sooner they learn to be conscientious of the environment, the better. Learning about protecting the world can be fun, and these books make becoming eco-friendly a fun experience for kids.

1. 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth: Check out this book that tells kids the many ways they can contribute to saving the Earth.

2. The Giving Tree: Shel Silverstein’s book teaches kids about the relationship between kids and the forest.

3. My Bag and Me!: My Bag and Me! can teach your child to be eco-friendly by using reusable bags.

4. A Drop Around the World: Kids can follow a drop of water around the world in this book.

5. The Great Kapok Tree: In The Great Kapok Tree, a man changes his mind about chopping down a large tree in the Amazon when he hears the pleas of the animals.

6. George Saves the World by Lunchtime: George saves the world with simple everyday actions in this book.

7. The Tree in the Ancient Forest: In this book, Carol Reed-Jones writes about the web of plants and animals in the world.

8. Earth-Friendly Crafts for Kids: Here you’ll find 50 awesome recycled crafts projects.

9. The Forever Forest: Kids save a tropical treasure in The Forever Forest.

10. Charlotte’s Web: Charlotte’s Web teaches animal appreciation, life cycles, and ecosystems.

11. Green Wise Kids: Jean Clausen’s book teaches kids about doing simple things to improve the environment, sharing age appropriate activities.

12. The Empty Lot: This book’s hero sells off an empty lot, but after consideration, learns about all of the natural elements that make the lot more valuable than he thought.

13. My Favorite Tree: Kids can choose their favorite North American tree in My Favorite Tree.

14. One Well: One Well tells the story of water on Earth.

15. The Lorax: The Lorax offers kids an ecological warning about the disregard for the Earth’s environment.

16. We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers: These kids recycle their toys instead of throwing them away, and they even get their classmates involved.

17. Herb the Vegetarian Dragon: In this book, kids will read about eating vegetarian through Herb, the vegetarian dragon.

18. Oil Spill!: Kids can learn about the ecological damage of oil spills in this book.

19. Earth Book for Kids: Earth Book for Kids has activities to help heal the environment.

20. Wonderful Nature, Wonderful You: Wonderful Nature, Wonderful You tells the lessons of nature and the animal kingdom.

21. What’s It Like Living Green?: Kids teach kids how to live green in this book.

22. The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: This plastic bottle helps kids learn about recycling from a new perspective.

23. Recycled Crafts Box: Kids can make crafts out of recycled materials using this book.

24. The City of Ember: In The City of Ember, the heroes of the book live in a world run on hydro power.

25. Giggles the Green Bean: Giggles the Green Bean learns environmentally friendly lessons and transforms his stinky town to green in this book.

26. The Curious Garden: The Curious Garden tells a story of a little boy who becomes a city gardener in an urban, factory town.

27. Dear Children of the Earth: Mother Earth writes to children to get their help in this book.

28. World Beneath Our Feet: Kids can read about the world that exists in the soil in World Beneath Our Feet.

29. The Berenstain Bears Don’t Pollute (Anymore): This family of bears learns about why we need to mend our polluting and wasteful ways.

30. Why Are the Ice Caps Melting?: Kids can read about the dangers of global warming in Why Are the Ice Caps Melting?

There are some really great books on this list.  As I was searching through for the links, I added quite a few to my wish list as I hadn't heard of some of them.  Some of them of course, are perennial favourites, such as Charlotte's Web, The Giving Tree, and The Lorax, all of which I have and will never part with.  Have fun taking a look and see what draws your interest.  It can be fun to be green!!!
Friday, March 4, 2011

Review: A Collection of Short Stories by Alain Gomez

A Collection of Short Stories
by Alain Gomez
Source: Review Copy from Author

Celebrity Space
Release Date: December 27, 2010
Ebook Edition; 14 Pages (Approximately 2982 words)
Genre: Science Fiction / Short Story

Set in the not too distant future, a worker hopes that his new job at the spaceport will allow him to get his life back on track. While taking passengers to the space hotel "Moonwalk", a collision with an unknown object brings his dreams... and possibly his life... to a screeching halt.

Doctor Fleischer
Release Date: February 24, 2011
Ebook Edition; 11 Pages (Approximately 2602 words)
Genre: Science Fiction / Short Story

The Space Hotel Series continues from the viewpoint of Dr. Agatha Fleischer. Aliens made Dr. Fleischer an offer she couldn't refuse: unlimited resources for her research... and no ethics laws to speak of. A dream come true for the overly ambitious doctor. But will her atrocious acts in the name of science go unpunished?

A Model Railway Man
Release Date: February 9, 2011
Ebook Edition; (Approximately 2538 words)
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy / Short Story

Working on his model railroad set is more than just a hobby for John Wilson, it's his desperate attempt to fix the ghosts of his childhood. But his obsession with his creation may have an unexpected side-effect...

My Thoughts
With several twists and turns, and some unexpected endings, I found this short story collection by Alain Gomez to be interesting and riveting.

"Celebrity Space" is a futuristic tale about celebrities going to a space station in order to live it up.  On their way to the station, the space shuttle develops problems.  This one has a great and unexpected ending that came out of nowhere; I always enjoy it when an author can turn the tables on a reader and keep them guessing as I first thought the plot seemed a bit formulaic and predictable.  I also enjoyed the character development, the bantering between the characters, and thought the plot was well-developed.  It was an entertaining short story.

"Doctor Fleischer" is a sequel to "Celebrity Space" and this story revolves around genetitist Doctor Fleischer.  She has accepted a new job and her new employers are a bit unusual.  But with an unlimited budget and the ability to do whatever research she wants, who is she to complain?  This was another entertaining short story and I really enjoyed Doctor Fleischer's no-nonsense approach to life.  And according to her principles, people should give up their life to science if it advances research.  The interesting plot line, and the unexpected twist at the end make this short story worth reading.

"A Model Railway Man" took a bit longer to develop and I was left wondering what the purpose of the story was about, when suddenly, in the last three pages it took a sudden turn, and I felt like I was bowled over.  I have devloped a lot of respect for Ms. Gomez and her unexpected endings and I enjoyed this tremendously.  This story is about a man with such an obsession for trains that he neglects his wife of five years.  The results are not what he was expecting.

These three stories are a quick read, but all have fascinating twists at the end that I did not expect.  Ms. Gomez has a nice writing style that draws the reader into the story immediately, something that is important when writing short stories.  She also doesn't rely overtly on description and therefore, the stories generally move along smoothly and easily, allowing the characters to develop and the plot to flow. 
Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: The Kensei by Jon F. Merz

The Kensei (Lawson Vampire Novels, Book 5)
by Jon F. Merz
Release Date: January 18, 2011
2011 St. Martin's Griffin
Paperback Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-312-66223-3
Genre: Horror / Thriller
Source: Review Copy from Author

Meet Lawson. A cynical, wise-cracking vampire charged with protecting the Balance between vampires and humans, he is part cop, part spy, and part commando -- James Bond with fangs. Lawson mixes shrewd cunning with unmatched lethality to get his job done. He tries his best to dismantle conspiracies, dispatch bad guys, and live long enough to get home. In The Kensei, a battle-weary Lawson heads to Japan for a little rest and some advanced ninja training. But he no sooner steps off the plane than lands in the midst of a Yakuza turf war orchestrated by a shadowy figure known as the Kensei. With the help of Talya, a former KGB-assassin, Lawson must put a stop to the Kensei's organ trafficking networks, prevent the creation of an army of vampire-human hybrids, and save his own skin in the process.

My Thoughts
The Kensei hooked me right from the beginning as the non-stop action and Lawson's dry, sarcastic, witty humour drew me into a world that is familiar, but at the same time, pretty surreal.  I enjoyed the whole craziness of vampires who study martial arts and become vampire ninjas, at the center of which is a man who is tired of the fighting and needs a holiday.
At the center of all of this craziness is Lawson, a centuries old vampire known as the Fixer, whose job it is to settle scores in the vampire world and to put things to right no matter how he has to do it.  Unfortunately, Lawson has one big secret he needs to hide from the Council, and it is tearing him up inside.  Throw in a brother out for revenge, one who is also messing with vampires and is creating a whole new breed, and you have quite a mess.  I love how Lawson handles the whole mess with panache and style, all the while complaning about his holiday, or lack thereof.  He has also grown tired of being a Fixer; tired from all the killing, accidental and intentional, and is left at a crossroads at his life, which is why he is in Japan.  He is seeking peace and tranquility in his martial art, ninjutsu.  With assasins following him everywhere, the peace he seeks is nonexistent, and he is left wondering why he draws these issues to himself all of the time.
Talya, his big secret, also shows up in Tokyo on an agenda of her own.  The sparks fly and soon they are both questioning their lives and wondering how they can make things work out.  I adore Talya and love her kick-ass attitude.  She can be vulnerable at times, but I love how she lays it all on the line and how she never seems afraid of anything.  I was afraid the love story would become gushing, but luckily, Merz kept the gushing to a minimum and Talya was allowed to do what she does best, fight and destroy. 
While the plot is a little predictable, and I wasn't completely satisfied with the ending between The Kensei and Lawson, I did really enjoy the characters.  I also really enjoyed the writing style, even if it was a little choppy, as the bantor between the characters was witty, intriguing, and interesting.  All of the characters had unique peronality traits and quirky personalities that set them apart and I found myself rooting for them, even the so-called evil ones.  I also liked how Merz gives you just enough background information to understand what is happening in the novel so that it doesn't become intrusive;  you know where Lawson is coming from, the conspiracies he has dealt with, but not much more history than that.  I like that so I can go back and read the other novels without feeling like I've already read them.
The Kensei has plenty of twists and turns that will keep you interested, and the pace doesn't let up until the end.  Although it is the fifth book in the series, it can be read and understood as a stand-alone or you can go ahead and start at the beginning.  The setting for The Kensei is pretty incredible, and I really enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the various locations around Tokyo as it a place I have never visited and I appreciated the information.  For vampire lovers, you will enjoy the refreshing take on vampire myth in this novel as his imagination and creativity are something new, and for others, it is a good espionage novel.  I am looking forward to the sixth Lawson novel as he attempts to uncover some more conspiracies that are hinted at in The Kensei
Wednesday, March 2, 2011

WOW: The Rose Garden and Some Immorality

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.  For those of us who like to scour the net looking at new releases just because we get a thrill knowing what's going to be released, this meme gives us a chance to highlight what we have found.

The Rose Garden
by Susanna Kearsley
Release Date: May 11, 2011

When Eva's film star sister Katrina dies, she leaves California and returns to Cornwall, where they spent their childhood summers, to scatter Katrina's ashes and in doing so return her to the place where she belongs. But Eva must also confront the ghosts from her own past, as well as those from a time long before her own. For the house where she so often stayed as a child is home not only to her old friends the Halletts, but also to the people who had lived there in the eighteenth century. When Eva finally accepts that she is able to slip between centuries and see and talk to the inhabitants from hundreds of years ago, she soon finds herself falling for Daniel Butler, a man who lived - and died - long before she herself was born. Eva begins to question her place in the present, and in laying her sister to rest, comes to realise that she too must decide where she really belongs, choosing between the life she knows and the past she feels so drawn towards.

The Immorality Engine (Book 3, Newbury and Hobbes Investigations)
by George Mann
Release Date: September 27, 2011

A thrilling new steampunk mystery from a unique voice.

Come read the adventures of Sir Maurice Newbury and his indomitable assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes as they attempt to solve another electrifying mystery.

What new discoveries did you find that needs to be added to my wish list and TBR pile?