Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday # 75 - Oracle's Moon (Elder Races #4) by Thea Harrison

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My pick:

When Grace Andreas's sister, Petra, and her husband are both killed, Grace inherits the Power and responsibilities of the Oracle of Louisville, as well as her sister's two young children--neither of which she is prepared for. Then Khalil, Demonkind and Djinn Prince of House Marid, decides to make himself a part of the household both as guardian and counterpoint to Grace's impudence towards the Elder Races.
March 6th 2012 by Berkley

I like the Elder Races series, and I'm really interested in Khalil.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Fairy Leapt Upon My Knee by Bea Howe

Most of you, my lovely readers, chose the obscure novel yesterday - which goes to show how lucky I am to have you lot reading my blog!  I'll probably end up writing about both - perhaps the well-known author will even pop up tomorrow in my absence, whilst I'm gallivanting in London.  Dark Puss suggested I wrote about the one I enjoyed more... well, I enjoyed this one more, but the other one was probably better.  (Other people used to that feeling?)

As you might have spotted from the post title, this is an obscure book, but I have mentioned it before.  A Fairy Leapt Upon My Knee (1927) by Bloomsbury Group hanger-on Bea Howe lent its paper to my new blog background - I thought it was time I told you what was on the pages (other than David Garnett's signature!)  (Some of you may even have spotted a very brief section of this review in your blog readers yesterday... oops!)

The outline of the novel is pretty simple - William and Evelina have fallen in love, and deal with the difficulties of not being able entirely to understand one another.  Much of the narrative flicks back and forth between their minds, as they grapple with starting a new stage of their life together - melding two rather different personalities into one prospective marriage.  Oh, and along the way a fairy turns up.

Evelina is not unlike a fairy herself - she is fanciful, thoughtful - bright, light, and sparkling:

She was dressed in a silver frock with a deep jewelled belt that gripped her waist.  Her light brown hair was cut quite short like a boy's and brushed softly over her ears; it was shot with gold at its curling tips.  But it was her eyes, of an odd green colour, that William first noticed.  They regarded him so intently; like a child's.  They were also very bright.  Eyebrows thin, dark, arched, gave a flying look to her face.  Her face which was painted and pale.
William, on the other hand, is a little more staid and grounded.  Where Evelina is concerned with her 'secret self', and often wanders off into realms of imagination (although not in an annoying way, for the reader at least) William is an etymologist - the fluttering world of moths is his chief concern, and he approaches it with the eyes of a scientist.  (Scientists will doubtless tell us - indeed, my brother does tell me - that there is a greater beauty in the structure and order of numbers/nature etc. than in its aesthetics.  Well, horses for courses.)  William's captivation by lepidoptera is all-consuming, and colours even his attempted romantic overtures:
"One day I will tell you all about my moths.  In some odd way you remind me of them."  His voice was low and gentle.  Evelina did not know that this was the first compliment he had paid a woman.
Yet it is he, the scientist, rather than she, the wistful romantic, who stumbles upon the fairy.  I once attended a nighttime moth hunt, and sadly no fairies turned up.  The one William finds has not quite the daintiness of Tinkerbell et al:

A pale, extremely ugly, wizened-looking little face, about the size of a hazel-nut, stared up at him.  And this face did not belong to a giant moth or beetle!  The filmy stuff, the cobwebby matter which had first stuck between his fingers and given such a peculiar sensation to his skin, was evidently part of this creature’s clothing.  Underneath its thin protection, William could see the vague outline of a tiny body.  It was a woman’s body, shaped quite perfectly, like a minikin statuette.  With a vague feeling of embarrassment he knelt down and rolled his prisoner gently off his palm on to the ground.  The fairy did not move.  She only remained looking in a dazed way at him.  William gazed back.  He still felt completely bewildered.  
A Fairy Leapt Upon My Knee is a strange little book, not least because the fairy doesn't do very much, except sit listlessly in William's house.  She emphasises, however, the disparity between William and Evelina.  He has no personal curiosity in the fairy, except as a scientific specimen - 'It had not even occurred to him to think of her as another living being.'  Evelina, on the other hand, is jealous that she did not make the discovery - and the existence of the fairy propels her even further into realms of the fanciful and fey.

A Fairy Leapt Upon My Knee is a simple story which I found charming and enchanting - but which really could have done with a better structure.  It feels a little as though Howe started writing on page one, and put down anything that crossed her mind - which does give the novel a feeling of freedom and flow, but it ultimately lacks the impression of unity and progression which a properly planned novel has.  Evelina and William fall out and make up and fall out and make up - often without even seeing each other in between - which is possibly more life-like, but a little dizzying to read.

This was Bea Howe's only novel (although she wrote a few biographies) so it's impossible to tell how her style might have progressed.  For a first novel, A Fairy Leapt Upon My Knee is rather delightful, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone with a taste for a touch of whimsy - as an only novel, it does lead one to speculate what Bea Howe could possibly have followed it with, and gives me an altogether bemused impression of Howe as an authoress.  That creative inspiration should hit only once in this manner, and in such a manner, is curious and amusing.  Perhaps, just once, a fairy leapt upon her knee?

Tomorrow... another strange book, but one from almost eighty years earlier and a different language altogether.  Ten points to anybody who can guess...

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Readers

I'm going to be community minded again tonight (for which read: it's too late for me to write a proper book review) and point you in the direction of the latest episode of The Readers (click zee link).  For those not in the know, it's a podcast run by Simon S and Gav, covering all manner of bookish topics - always including plenty of recommendations for reading.

This week's podcast features lovely Kim as a guest, and equally lovely Polly also pops up with her five favourite books (and a mention of me!)  The chief topic of discussion is book blogging - a subject dear to all our hearts, of course.  I am in love with their discussion!  It covers so many areas - why they started; how long they take to write reviews; positive vs. negative posts, and so on.  All stuff I find fascinating - some people don't care much for blogging-about-blogging, but I'm all about the meta-conversations.  And all the way through I wished I were there to join with the chatter...   (They also talk about book-culling, and it's lovely to hear a tbr pile of 450 considered 'not bad' - my real-life-in-the-flesh friends consider half a dozen unread books as somewhat pressing.)

So, pop over and have a listen to the whole thing, but especially the first half.  And I'll be back tomorrow with another strange little book... (which is my vague way of saying that I haven't decided between two strange little books waiting for review.  Would you rather hear about the well-known author or the utterly obscure author?)

Book Review: Bad Boys Do by Victoria Dahl

Title: Bad Boys Do
Author: Victoria Dahl
Series: Donovan Brothers Brewery #2
Release Date: September 27th, 2011
Publisher: HQN Books
Age: Adult
Olivia Bishop is no fun. That's what her ex-husband said. And that's what her smart bob and glasses imply. So with her trademark determination, Olivia sets out to remake her life. She's going to spend time with her girlfriends and not throw it all away for some man. But when an outing with her book club leads her to a brewery taproom, the dark-haired beauty realizes that trouble—in the form of sexy Jamie Donovan—may be too tempting to avoid.
Jamie Donovan doesn't mean to be bad. Sure, the wild streak in his wicked green eyes has lured the ladies before. Now it's time to grow up. He's even ready for a serious romance. But how can that be when Olivia, the only right woman he has ever met, already has him pegged as wrong?
I already finished reading the Donovan Brothers Brewery series, but I think this book was my favorite.

Bad Boys Do is the story of Jamie, the ultimate bad boy who isn't really bad at all. He has made some stupid choices in his life, but he's trying to fix them. He's sexy and attract woman to his family brewery just with his smile, and that's how he met Olivia.

Olivia is divorced, has no friend and doesn't know how to have fun. It's has been a while since she went out with girls, so when they invite her to the Donovan Brewery for their book meeting, she actually read the book. Of course, she wan't expecting bad boy Jamie to serve their table.

I loved this book because Jamie and Olivia were both such strong characters. They both had issues but their attraction was instantly. Also, it wasn't just attraction. Their relationship turned to be very deep and realistic.

I really wanted to know more about Jamie, and why he seemed to be such a bad boy. Obviously he was sweet and really had very bad luck sometimes. Olivia was also a character that since the beginning I liked. She was very insecure but she's determinate to change that, to became a new woman who can have fun with herself.

I usually don't like couples were the woman is older than the man, but this one works. Jamie is mature and Olivia needs to be with someone who brings the best of herself.

Overall, Bad Boys Do is my favorite book from this contemporary romance series. It let me wanting more, so I really couldn't wait to read the next one, Real Men Will, which the review is coming soon!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Adventures of Swan-Boy

This week we're participating in Cassie Mae's Easily Flushed Blog Hop!

We're really looking forward to checking out everyone's embarassing stories. Hope you enjoy ours!

"Yes, honey, I know swans are cold-blooded killers. Yes, honey, you already told me about how they hunt in packs. Of course, honey, of course there's a global swan conspiracy that's plotting your demise at any minute."

So there we were, lazing about on a lazy Saturday afternoon on our Lazy-Boys (we take relaxing very seriously). I was leafing through the paper when I casually mentioned that Black Swan was playing in the local theatre. I had heard great things about it, it had just won an Oscar, and I was curious.

Big Mistake.

Aaaand that's when the ranting started. I knew better than trying to stop him once he's started, even though I had heard it all before.
In case it isn't readily obvious, my husband is terrified of swans.

Let me explain.

The year was 1991. The world was still recovering from the horror of teased hair and leopard print leotards. The Super Nintendo had just been released, ensuring an entire generation of children would never ever learn what sunlight looked like. And somewhere, in the deepest, darkest corner of the world, Vanilla Ice was getting ready to unleash his unique brand of horror on the unsuspecting world.

Enter 9-year old Bryce.

Just another day, having a picnic in the park with his family. A day that would live...IN INFAMY.

Although, to hear him tell the story, the attack was an unwarranted, unjustified attack, and totally 100% Not His Fault. But after asking his family about it, what actually happened was considerably different.

Maybe it was something he saw on TV, or maybe it was all the video games he played, or maybe he was just an idiot, but in 9-year-old Bryce's mind, this was all he could think about.

He didn't know how, he barely knew why, but at that moment, he wanted one thing and one thing only.

He was going to catch that damned swan.

And even though it's common knowledge most animals don't like it when you tackle one of their babies, everyone was surprised by how ferocious those little bastards can be. After all, when normal people picture swans, they picture this:

But when BRYCE pictures a swan, all he can see is this:

So needless to say, that picnic didn't end well for him. Everyone else, however, seems to remember having an absolute BLAST.

And that's why I'll never be able to watch Black Swan.

Henry Green Week with Stu

Thank you so much for all your lovely comments - they do mean the world to me.  I get very nervous about changing how my blog appears (goodness knows why I would get nervous about it, but... I do!) so I'm chuffed to bits.

A quick post today - something I missed out of my last Weekend Miscellany, because I hadn't spotted it - Stu (from the blog Winston's Dad) is planning Henry Green Week January 23-29 next year.  I announced all the way back in May that I intended to read some of my newly-acquired Henry Green novels soon.  And, of course, I still haven't - but I'm more than keen to join in with Stu's planned week.  Basically, pick one or more Green novels and join in!  These are the ones I have at my disposal:

Doting, Back, Party Going, Blindness, and Concluding.

I can't decide between starting with Blindness, because it was his first - or with Party Going, because it's the one I've heard great things about.  Or maybe even both!

Let me know - and let Stu know - if you're thinking about joining in... c'mon, if you all did it for Anita Brookner, you can definitely do it for Henry Green.

In My Mailbox # 51

In My Mailbox is a weekly bookish meme hosted @ The Story Siren


The Power of Six T-Shirt (Thanks to Tecniciencias)

What did you get this week?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Playing - and Song for a Sunday

After four and a half years, it felt like time for a little face-lift.   I have made myself a Blog Header for the first time! I hope you like it - the pictures I chose felt appropriate, and the paper-background is actually from a page of A Fairy Leapt Upon My Knee - the copy I own signed by David Garnett!   That's the same paper that forms my new background.  I have waved goodbye to my dots... for now, at least.

(Comment facilities back to normal, after all that kerfuffle, so I hope it works.  Or works as well as anyone else suffering the vagaries of Blogger, that is!  As always, if you have problems, let me know...)

Enough of that - let's have a song, shall we?  To be honest, I'm running out of unusual artists to feature... so you might well have come across Aimee Mann before, but 'Wise Up' is too beautiful a song to ignore.  Over to you, Aimee:

All previous Sunday Songs here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stuck-in-a-Book's Weekend Miscellany

I am not best pleased, as the post I spent 45 minutes writing just disappeared. Darn it darn it darn it. Well, I'll try again, but I might be a little less insouciant than usual...

Firstly, I have yet to reach the end of the tunnel when it comes to comments. Apparently some of you can't see other people's comments - curiouser and curiouser! I think this might be people using Internet Explorer - can I recommend the all-round-nicer Firefox! I'm going to keep the new comment format for the next few days, and if the problems don't clear up then I'll probably change back...

EDIT: well, it wasn't working, so we're back to the old way of commenting for now... well, it's teething at the mo, but we'll be back to normal by tonight. I will keep trying!

But enough of these shenanigans! It's the weekend, it's already been miscellaneous, that can only mean that it's Stuck-in-a-Book's Weekend Miscellany!

1.) The blog post - is over at Tales From the Reading Room, and a fascinating discussion about Why Write Reviews? This isn't quite the same as Why Blog? A few bloggers noticed that full-length reviews tended to get fewer comments than other posts, and also themselves were often more reluctant to read full-length reviews than bookish-chatter type posts. Which led Litlove to write an interesting analysis of why she writes reviews - and, of course, the comments box is filled with conversation on the topic, including my tuppenyworth.

2.) The question - (for there is no link this week!) is on similar territory. I was wondering what you thought of the post Claire and I co-created on One Day? A few of you commented - most of you (of course!) did not. What did you think of the conversation format? Do you think it worked? Those bloggers amongst you - would you like to have a go yourself? I'd love to know your thoughts. (If the comments box doesn't work, email them to me!)

3.) The book - is The Outward Room (1937) by Millen Brand, which New York Review of Books Classics gave to me a while ago. I forget quite why I asked for it, or where I heard about, but I'm even more excited about it since I spotted in an old interview with Persephone Books that they had it forthcoming. Those plans must have been shelved, perhaps because of the NYRB edition, but a Persephone stamp of approval doesn't go amiss. Since I've yet to read it, I thought I should at least give it a mention. It's about a woman, Harriet Demuth, who escapes from a mental hospital and goes on a journey both of New York and of self-discovery. That synopsis puts me in mind of Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel, which is no bad thing - and it sounds as though it might have been rather revolutionary for 1937.

Ok, that's it for this miscellany - have a good weekend, everyone.

Book Review: How to Party with a Killer Vampire by Penny Warner

Title: How to Party with a Killer Vampire
Author: Penny Warner
Series: Party Planning Mystery #4
Release Date: October 4th 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Age: Adult
Mixing fun and fundraising seems like the perfect job for Presley Parker, which is why she started her event-planning business to raise money for charities. But when a film soiree goes awry, it could mean THE END for her business… Presley Parker’s event planning business is really rolling. Her newest gig is a film wrap party for big-time producer Lucas Cruz. He’s celebrating his latest release—a vampire parody—by throwing a lavish party in a graveyard. It’s a pretty gloomy venue for Presley, but she’s hoping to make it so much fun that partygoers won’t even notice there are more dead than living guests… And the number of dead grows when an entertainment reporter crashes the party, trying to dig up dirt on an actor, and literally digs his own grave. Presley’s reputation is seriously on the line if she doesn’t unearth the killer soon. But with a growing list of shady characters and crew members, someone has to match the role of murderer, or it’s going to be Presley who won’t make the cut…
I love cozy mysteries, and the Party Planning Mystery series is one of my favorites.

This time, Presley Parker is organizing a vampire party at a cemetery to promote the new Hollywood movie. It's going to be fantastic, with hot actors and awesome special effects, except that a dead body is found the night before the party.

Presley is such a fun character. She's independent and has a need to resolve every mystery, specially the ones that involves her parties. She wants to discovers who is responsible for this death, and of course she has the help of Detective Luke and her boyfriend, Brad.

I loved to read more of Brad. He's a very realistic boyfriend, even with his weird job. But I wanted to read more of Presley's friends from her company, it was a shame they didn't appear very much, but maybe in the next books?

Also, I didn't know who was the killer. It did surprised me in the end, which isn't easy to do.

I really like the party tips every book in this series has. This one, of course, has tips to your vampire party, which would be cool if you are organizing a Breaking Dawn party...

Overall, How to Party with a Killer Vampire didn't disappointed me. It was easy to read and fun, and I highly recommend this series.

More about this book at www.pennywarner.comGoodreads, Amazon, The Book Depository.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


So far in November I have...

Tried and failed to take a photo of Sherpa.

Tried and succeeded to take a photo of Sherpa.  (Doesn't she look daft?)

Taken a photo of my Mum playing Scrabble.  (She was less likely to scamper away.)

Made a road-trip-themed-collage-covered notebook for my housemate Mel.

Taken icing sugar from a box of kitchen stuff left on the street.

Appreciated autumn.

Attended a proper village Christmas fayre.

Gone jumping in the street.

I've also done a fair amount of reading, but people tend not to take photos whilst I'm doing it.  For which I am quite grateful...