Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Travels in England in 1782…

June 3rd, 2016 5 comments


 After dinner, I sat down to do some more work, but I got distracted. Sitting here, I suddenly wondered what sort of free history e-books I could find. Within in minutes I came across this one; ‘Travels in England in 1782‘ by Karl Philipp Moritz

Moritz was a German clergyman who, thankfully for us, was an Anglophile. He’d long wanted to visit England and finally arrived on June 2, 1782 (which I thought appropriate as it’s June 3rd) and he takes the reader on the journey. After the first few pages, I’m utterly enchanted. He’s noting down everything that seems foreign to him, so we get to see what he sees and experience his journey. Historic gold! He only spent a few weeks in England, but he managed to see London and a few other places he’d dreamed of.

We join him as he’s leaving the ship. He and five other travellers are set ashore near some white cliffs and they walk to the nearest village. (I’m guessing they were travelling light!) From there they hire a post-chaise…this was a vehicle where the driver (or drivers in some cases) rode one of the horses (so there was no coachman making it a much lighter, faster and cheaper travel). Here’s a short excerpt… Read more…

Book Review: Torn Trousers…

February 24th, 2015 5 comments

This last year was mostly spent in a miasma of story consumption. I read books like a story-starved creature. The part of my brain that produces stories had malfunctioned. Strangely, It wasn’t writers’ block. I felt nothing as if someone had disconnected the story part of my brain. Then I started meeting up once a week with my friend Gwynn (who’s also a writer) and we’d talk about world events, history, anything that came up as well as discussing stories and writing. Read more…

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Fiction Addiction…Three More Free Stories I’ve Recently Enjoyed

August 9th, 2014 Comments off

The last few weeks I’ve been consuming other people’s stories like a literary black hole, but it’s priming my writer (I’ve actually cracked open several stories and tentatively started working on them). Here are three more great free stories (all romances in various genres). The links take you to the books on Barnes and Noble, but they can be found elsewhere (I found them on iBooks). Read more…

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Can a Romance Novel Change Your Life…?

July 19th, 2014 Comments off

Some books we consume as light reading end up catalysts for change in our lives. Laura Florand’s romance novels have fallen into this category for me (I recommended her free story The Chocolate Rose in my last post). In her chocolate series her heroes are French chefs (the stories set in France). I’ve loved all her heroes. Even the book I gave two stars (The Chocolate Temptation) I’ve actually re-read the first half again (and will read again because the first half deserves five stars). Her French chefs are just so captivating I’ll probably break down and buy the rest of the series (soon).

So how can reading about fictional French chefs finding love change one’s life? If you’d asked me this question two weeks ago I would have raised an eyebrow and stared back with a blank mind. I think it was while reading The Chocolate Rose a second time that change set in. The hero is a pastry chef who pours his heart into his desserts. When he offers the heroine something he’s made for her the reader knows he’s offering his heart on a plate though she doesn’t realise this at first. It made me stop and wonder if I’m dishing up my heart for my creative endeavours and if not, why not? There is no point creating anything without passion (without pouring our hearts into it). It’s made me ask myself, do I dish up my heart in my stories? I do! Am I dishing up my heart in my other artistic creations? Hmmm – not all the time! Why not? What do I want to be creating? Does it make me happy to dish up my heart? Yes, but I must feel passionate about the feeding.

So what else is changing? Read more…

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Fiction Addiction – Three Free Books I’ve Recently Enjoyed…

July 12th, 2014 Comments off

The last few months I’ve been gorging on other people’s stories. Perhaps a part of me has been story-starved. Normally when I’m writing I crave non-fiction, but at the moment I crave fiction (like a fiction-addiction!). Perhaps I needed the escape so as to not think about not being able to write because my brain is still not right (I’m off to the hospital in a few weeks for an ultrasound on my thyroid) – in the mean time I have had new stories sprouting in my head and older unfinished ones demanding attention, but it’s like the characters are talking to me while I’m under water. I’m sure they’re frustrated! I know I am. In the mean time I’ve discovered new authors and tried out new genres. I’ve taken to haunting my local library once a week – willing to crack open any cover that grabs my eye. I’ve spent a lot of money buying books, but there are some great free books out there. I had to share my three favorite.

I downloaded mine from iBooks, but you can also find them free on Amazon (and I’m presuming other sites). My links will take you to the UK Amazon site so you may want to go straight to your own if it’s different. Read more…

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Book Review: Just One Damned Thing After Another

March 13th, 2014 Comments off

Every now and then you come across a book that sucks you in and makes you glad the author has already written several more books in the series, because if she hadn’t you’d probably explode in frustration. This, for me, was one of those books! Having finished the third book in the series (I stayed up all night) I’m now forced to wait…however looooong before the next one to find out what the heck happens next! Be warned the third book ends on a seriously steep cliff hanger. I’d almost call it cruel!

Just One Damned thing after Another by Jodi Taylor is not a Regency romance, but it is a romance set in England (Taylor is English) and it does take place at various points in history (though not the Regency). If it was a movie in England it would get a 15 as there is some sex (though not a lot), but if you love time travel stories that are funny with a romantic element (though there are sad moments too – real life is always a mixture) – if you love fast paced stories that drag you around by the nose…you will LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. It’s also super cheap.

Before you go look it up on your e-bookstore of choice… As Taylor points out, one of the theories of time is that it’s like a flowing river (or something to do with water)… A day or so after finishing the second book I came across this song by The Wallflowers (I’d never heard of them before) called Everybody Out of the Water. It’s like they condensed the series into a song! I should explain that in the lives of the employees of St Mary’s something or someone is ALWAYS exploding, getting burnt/getting burnt down, getting wet or running for their lives. I’ve been listening to this on replay!!! Here’s a link to the song on Youtube!

Read more…

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Book review: Lady Susan by Jane Austen

October 18th, 2013 2 comments

Jane Austen wasn’t a woman who lived life wrapped in tissue paper. Sex, scandals, thoughtless abusive parents; these things weren’t just subjects of salacious prints, they were realities.

Frances Wilson (the author of a biography on Regency courtesan, Harriet Wilson) revealed in her book (The Courtesan’s Revenge) that Jane actually mentioned the very young Harriet in a letter (though not by name) because Harriet’s (first admitted) named lover was connected to the Austen family circle. How many of us think of Jane as someone who’d pass on gossip about a mutual acquaintance stabling his young mistress at his country pile? Knowing this about Jane, it’s easy to see how she could write her short story, “Lady Susan”.

Lady Susan, the main character, is a despicable selfish woman. We’ve all met people like her (or found ourselves cursed to endure them for the sake of family or friends) lying sociopaths who use good looks and charm to ensnare anyone they might find useful (or to their benefit). Lady Susan, a beautiful young widow of 35, is forced by straightened means (and her failed scheming) to retreat to her brother-in-law’s home where she causes more unhappiness. After the first few letters I was glued to my computer screen. It’s a brilliant short story and one you can read on line or download for free HERE (thanks to Project Gutenberg). I highly recommend it!

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Book Review: A Garden Folly

April 19th, 2013 2 comments

Since finishing Dancing the Maypole, I’ve been gorging on other people’s stories. I’ve impulsively ordered quite a few books in various genres. My favorite novel out of the pile would have to be A Garden Folly by Candice Hern. Read more…

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5 chapters to go…

January 12th, 2013 6 comments

This evening I finished editing chapters 44 and 45! I would have been done editing, but the Goblin (who had eleven days off his day job over Christmas) decided he needed a complete break. So I’ve been waiting for him to edit so I could do my final edit. It was probably a good thing. I had a forced holiday which I enjoyed. I got lots of books for Christmas and managed to read several when I wasn’t watching two series of Burn Notice (a Christmas present to self). My favorite read was the Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth. She was the sister of William Wordsworth the poet. The journals cover 1798 and then 1800 to 1803. I was a bit sceptical Read more…

Book review: Monsters & Grotesques…

August 26th, 2012 Comments off

On Friday I spent several pleasant hours in my favorite bookshop. I found three books I had to have; one of them a slim paperback called Monsters and Grotesques in Medieval Manuscripts by Alixe Bovey. If you’ve ever looked at photos of old manuscripts you’ve probably noticed the weird creatures in the margins. Bovey’s book is only 59 pages long (and less than ten inches high), but it has lots of lovely colour photographs and offers a fascinating glimpse into why our Medieval ancestors wanted these fantastical creatures in the margins of their books (assuming I had Medieval ancestors who could read let alone afford a book).

What I didn’t know was that a lot of these monsters were actually considered real. I just assumed they were the creations of drunken monks bored out of their minds after transcribing the same book for the umpteenth time. I didn’t know that most of these odd looking creatures were believed to be real monsters living in far away lands or that books describing these monsters went back to the Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD Rome). This is an amazing example of fiction passed down through centuries as factual information. Read more…

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