Monday, 6 July 2015

The haberdashers series - Sue London

I read the first three in the Haberdashers series by Sue London recently and decided that rather than doing one review for each I'd do a bit of a joint review. I should start by saying that regency romance is not something that I'd normally pick. I have a natural aversion to historic fiction, a hangover from my degree, which means that I usually tend to see the faults in it, rather than enjoying the story. In recent years I've got over this a bit, two of my all time favourite romance novels are historical novels, and one of these is actually set in the regency period. Recently I've found myself reading a few regency romances, including this Haberdashers series.

The basic idea behind the series is that as young girls, three friends formed a boy's club and called it the Haberdashers, not realising what it actually meant. Now we join them as young ladies, learning about love and romance...

Trials of Artemis

Trails for Artemis - Sue LondonThe first story starts with us meeting our first haberdasher, Jacqueline, or Jack as she is known to her friends. She finds that her reputation (that most highly guarded virtue for all Regency heroines) is called into question when she is found in the library (quite by accident, wrong place, wrong time) with a devilish rogue. He does what any honourable man would do and they find themselves married in no time at all.

What starts out as a marriage of convenience, turns slowly into true love, with some misunderstandings along the way (this is a romance novel after all). There is a little difference with this novel, compared to others with a similar theme, our heroine is very keen on weapons, and even finds time for a little swashbuckling adventure. It does add a little colour and interest to the story, but I did find it a little far fetched. Of course that's the joy of a novel, it doesn't have to be true to life.

Our hero, Gideon, is a very likeable character, which always helps. He might have a 'colourful' past, but he is more than willing to put that behind him for the woman he loves.

Athena's Ordeal

Athena's Ordeal - Sue London
Of the three in the series that I've read so far, Athena's Ordeal has been my least favourite. There are some good parts to it, but, and unfortunately this is a big but, I didn't really like either of the main characters. Our haberdasher, Sabrina, or as she likes to be called Sabre, (really??) is annoying in the extreme and far too forward for a woman of her time. Our hero, Quincy, is in many ways the stereotypical idle rich boy. He spends far too much time being remote and detached for my liking and the rest of the time he's just down right lazy.

There are a number of sex scenes in this one, which rather that being 'hot' or entertaining are a bit awkward. I suppose it's refreshing in some ways to have a romance novel hero who fumbles and doesn't brandish his 'throbbing love stick' (haven't actually come across that in a book, tend to avoid ones that have the silly euphemisms in them, but you know what I mean) like a master swords man. The main problem though, is that in this case, he's again too lazy and detached and doesn't really even put the effort in.

As I said, this was my least favourite of the three, but it's still worth reading if you've going to give the others a try.

Fates for Apate

Fates for apate - Sue london
Our third haberdasher, Georgiana, or, yes you've guessed it, George as she likes to be known is a spy. She finds herself in Vienna and falling in love with Prussian possible spy Casimir. 

I was a little unfair with this one, scoring it only 3 stars on my kindle, (I know I've been here before, but the whole out of five mark is next to useless in any case) I think it was worth more than a three, but not quite up to a four. Anyway, I did enjoy this much more than the last, which would have been a three.

Again there was a bit of a suspension of disbelief, would a woman have really been a spy? An unmarried woman at that? I really don't know, this is after all a world where a lady found alone in the library with a gentleman has had to marry him, only two books ago...

Our hero Casimir is lovely and George is very likeable, so far so good. The only downside with this one is that is suddenly stops. I was happily reading, turned the page expecting... well something more, some kind of conclusion and there was nothing, it was over. 

I am going to read number four at some point and possibly the novellas, of which there are a number, but perhaps not just yet. I'm a bit haberdashered out right now. I would recommend them as a good, escapist series though, with a little different on offer than your usual Regency Romance novel.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Time to get to work

The crazyness that is having kidsFor the first time in over eight years, I had a day at home, without any children to look after or entertain. Actually, I had three days at home without any children. For the first time since K was born, I had everyone out at school or day care, as A started at daycare three times a week on Monday, now that she is three.

My first thought, when faced with this sudden, time to myself at home, was that what I really wanted to do, was make the most of this new luxury and just sit around, maybe reading or doing nothing. Sadly, I have got far too much to do.

For the last six months, at least, I've been juggling work, trying to fit it in around taking care of children and doing day to day stuff. Much of it has been put off with the thought that come June I'll have the time to actually do some of this stuff, A will be out for the day, and there will be no reason for me to struggle to get things done. 

My tax return is due in next week, Tuesday to be precise, so of course the only thing that I could really do with my 'new' time, was tackle that. Next week the kids are off school, so work will again take a bit of a back seat, but as usual I have so much to tackle that once the holidays are over, I'll have to be back into it with a vengeance.

I have this idea that once I've managed to get back on top of things, I might actually have a bit more time to do some of the things that I don't have time for now, more sewing, actually get some writing done...

I do miss her though, it might be hard to fit in all the work I have to do with a little person running around, but now, when I don't have one at home with me for the first time in over eight years, I can't help but feel a little lost, a little sad that time has yet again moved on and changed things forever.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Uprooting Ernie - Pamela Burford

Uprooting Ernie Pamela Burford
While I'm all for serious books, when I'm in the mood, what I really love is a book that's lots of fun and can bring a smile to your face. A little while ago, I read a book that claimed to be a humorous, murder mystery. Sadly it wasn't very funny (it tried too hard) and the mystery part was quite lacking too.

Fortunately there are authors out there who can produce fun, funny books that also have a good mystery to try and solve. One of these authors is Pamela Burford.

I haven't reviewed any of her other books on here (yet) although I have read quite a few now. Most of her novels fall into the Romance or Romantic Suspense genre, but this fairly new series, the Jane Delaney mysteries are that, mystery stories. I was really lucky to get my hands on a pre-release copy to read and review (which I already have done on Amazon, Goodreads, and now here) before it was released on the 18th.

This is the second in the series, which stars Jane Delaney, also known as the Death Diva, and her poodle Sexy Beast. Jane is known as the Death Diva because of her unusual job, she does things for and to dead people, from visiting people's graves to deliver flowers, to stealing broaches from a corpse (in the first book, although she does say she'll never do that again) to giving a grave a 'drink' of cheap rose from a box. Along the way she becomes involved in some mysterious circumstances, and a once a dead body arrives on the scene, there's a mystery to solve.

The book is great fun and Jane's character is a great creation. She also has her ex-husband to deal with, who she's still sort of hung up on, and the very lovely Martin, or the Padre as she calls him. (If you want to know why, then read the first book, actually, read the first book anyway, it's good.) Both of whom more or less invade her life, for a while at least, on a day to day basis in this book. (Poor thing, two men after her.)

I didn't guess who-done-it until it was pretty much explained at the end of the book, which is usually a good sign, and it all made sense (an even better sign,) the mystery side of it certainly worked for me. I'm not sure if all the clues were there to work it out, I was too involved in the story to have done some kind of 'clue audit' but either way, it worked and I enjoyed it. I might try and read again at some point to see if I can spot the hints that point in the right direction.

I read the first book in the series, Undertaking Irene, last year when it came out, and I've been waiting for book two since. This is of course the main problem with books like this, when you discover the series in the early stages, you have to wait for the next one to come out. This was a great read, which I didn't want to put down, so I read it far too quickly, (greedy reading again) and now I've got to wait for book three...

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

You probably don't want to read this

one of those things that drive me crazy
This is a moan post, one of those things that drives me completely nuts. The worst of it is that I am sort of doing it myself, but we won't worry about that right now.

Lately on facebook (and other places) there have been lots of links shared that say things along the lines of "she went out to do her shopping, but you won't believe what happened next" or "This boy patted his dog, but how he reacted will blow you away!" Except of course, it won't.

I do get it, whoever has written the piece or made the video want's you to look at it, they need you to make that click, but do I really need talking to as though I'm unable to decide what's worth my attention and what isn't. It's called click bating, trying to word things so people will click, which of course makes sense. But please people, enough of the ridiculous claims. If it really was that amazing or mind blowing, or unusual, you probably wouldn't need to tell me in title.

I've reached the point now that I ignore anything that has a crazy claim title. I don't want to know, even if it is just as amazing as the claims, because, let's face it, it probably isn't really. Surely everyone else is sick of them too by now? I'm not convinced that they would still work that well in getting people to read something, but I could be very wrong. 

I do get the desire to get as many people as possible to share and read their posts, I'd love you to share this or any of my other posts about on social media, but I'm not going to resort to cheap tricks to get you to. After all I'm pretty sure that anything I've written, or will written isn't going to blow you away or change your life view forever. 

Friday, 12 June 2015

Five Minutes Alone - Paul Cleave

I'm starting to really like Paul Cleave's novels, this is the third that of the Christchurch novels that I've read. Although there is a common story thread that runs through them, particularly ones such as Five Minutes Alone, that feature Theodore Tate, they also work well in their own right.

The books are all set in Christchurch, although in many ways this is a fantasy Christchurch or one in a parallel universe with a darker and more sinister feel than the 'real' Christchurch. The New Zealand in the book is also a fantasy version of New Zealand; a referendum having reintroduced the death penalty.

Into this dark world, we are reintroduced to two characters who have featured in a number of the previous books, Carl Schroder and Theodore Tate. 

What I particularly love about Cleaves books is the ambiguity, in so many stories, both those that are crime novels, and those that have other main themes, we have a hero and an adversary. Good and bad fight it out. Of course life is not so clear cut and certainly Cleave's novels and characters are not so black and white. This is especially obvious in Five Minutes Alone, the question of who is good and who is bad is not clear cut one. Rather than a fight between good and evil it's a fight between the really evil and the not quite so bad.

The story focuses a lot on revenge, unlike many in the crime novel genre there isn't a question of who-done-it, more a focus on why, and if that reasoning is at all justified. I found myself rooting for different characters at different times and questioning things all the way through.

The story is cleaver and well written, without trying to be too cleaver. I enjoyed it and really must track down some more of Cleave's books.

Monday, 8 June 2015

My baby is three

My baby is threeIt's such a cliché that time goes so quickly when you have children, but like so many clichés it's actually true. Birthdays always serve to highlight just how fast that time is passing, especially ones that mark rights of passage, like going to school. 

For the youngest and oldest child in the family though, every birthday makes that passage of time all the more obvious. With your oldest child, it's the shock that they've reached such an 'old' age already. With your youngest, it's the realisation that you'll never again have a baby, toddler, pre-schooler and so on again. Today marked the end of the toddler years in our house.

Of course it's not really a sudden thing, little Miss A hasn't really been a toddler for a while now, but yesterday her age was still officially two. Toddler time. Today she turned three.

It's hard in many ways to get my head around the idea that she actually is three years old already, my baby, how has that happened. As is often the way with these things though, in other ways, it seems like her birth was much longer than three years ago. Time has this magical ability to fly and to stretch, while covering the same period. Has it really only been three years since we became a family of four children? Is it really only just over three years ago that I hadn't met her yet? 

Grub zombie birthday cakeOf course children are completely oblivious to all of this, time passes in a completely different way when you're small. Three years is forever, when you've only been around that long so far. All that having a birthday really means is that people make a fuss of you and you get lots of presents. Which of course we did. Saturday was fish and chips with the family and a birthday cake with candles (this year a 'log' with grubs all over it, because she loves her grub) and then today, the actual birthday was presents from us.

I think she's had a good day, she's gone pretty much straight to sleep, so either way the excitement of being another year older, has worn her out.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Runaway - Sandy James

Runaway - Sandy James
You may have noticed, that this is the second book by Sandy James that I've reviewed in the last week or so, (if you didn't notice then, you might want to check out the first review here). Seeing as I got the three 'Safe Havens' books in a three book set, and I enjoyed the first one so much, I couldn't resist diving into the second one almost straight away. That shouldn't really surprise you, as I have admitted to being a 'greedy reader' once or twice before.

There are a couple possible problems with books in a series. Either they quickly become samey, and you get bored of the story repeating, or you want to know more about the characters in the original book, so the whole thing is a let down. Neither of these things happened with Runaway though.

It's set in the same place as Saving Grace and features many of the same characters, although this time we have another member of the Shay family, this time running from her evil relatives. Our hero is a bit character from the last book, Ty Bishop (short for Tyrone maybe?) Of course, it is a romance books, so there's secrets to be kept, misunderstanding and lots of chemistry between our main characters.

The supporting cast of characters, who are mostly from the previous book add to the richness of the story and it's great to see what's happened next with them too. The books follows on from the last with enough information to help satisfy the 'what next' curiosity without being repetitive.

The main love story was great, with lots of chemistry between the two  main characters, you wanted them to get together and sort everything out. 

I've just got the last in the series to go now, looking forward to reading it, but trying to resit temptation to read it took quickly.