Sunday, February 15, 2015

THE RAVEN'S HEAD by Karen Maitland

The Raven's Head is an atmospheric novel set in the Middle Ages. The story revolves around three very compelling main characters, flipping point of view back and forth between these characters from chapter to chapter.
It is done deftly, and the author manages to involve you emotionally with the plight of all three before eventually merging their tales in a dark and exciting climax.

I had never read anything by this author, but was intrigued by the storyline. After reading this, I would definitely like to read her other books, and would recommend this story especially to lovers of tales of the supernatural. That being said, certain aspects of this novel were a bit too dark for me.  There is a main storyline with children that I found very disturbing at times. It adds to the horror of the dark magic and I don't want to take anything away from the story, only that for me on a personal level, I found that I did not look forward to those particular chapters.

I received this as an ARC. The Raven's Head will be published in MARCH 2015!

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Girl at the Lion d'Or

From the back cover:
A beautifully controlled and powerful story of love and conscience, will and desire which begins when a mysterious young girl arrives to take up a post at the seedy Hotel du Lion d'Or in a small French town in the mid-1930s.

Sebastian Faulks is a master storyteller. What else can I say? The story was beautiful, and compelling.  The writing was perfect and lyrical. Reading his sentences was a pleasure.

Anne herself had little vanity about her body, though sometimes she felt a vague gratitude towards it for what it had taken her through. When she looked at her ankles and feet, so soft they seemed almost unused, or gazed in the mirror at her dark eyes, which were unlined and full of light, she wondered where she carried her experiences.  Perhaps they lay stored in microscopic cells in her blood, or perhaps they lay waiting to ambush her in her mind.  The body itself seemed full of health and latent energy; the physical contrasts of girl and woman, still not quite resolved, gave it charm.

I've read only one other novel by Sebastian Faulks.  Birdsong is also a beautifully written, and powerful story.  It is perhaps his most well known and appreciated novel, and though I loved it, I could quite possibly love this subtle story a bit more.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Tana woke lying in a bathtub.  Her legs were drawn up, her cheek pressed against the cold metal of the faucet. A slow drip had soaked the fabric on her shoulder and wetted locks of her hair.  The rest of her, including her clothes, was still completely dry, which was kind of a relief.  Her neck felt stiff; her shoulders ached.  She looked up dazedly at the ceiling, at the blots of mold grown into Rorschach patterns. For a moment, she felt completely disoriented.  Then she scrambled up onto her knees, skin sliding on the enamel, and pushed aside the shower curtain.

This is how Holly Black's vampire novel begins. Her book is an original take on the whole YA vampire theme.  However, despite the interesting new world these vampires live in, one thing remains constant-when compared with other books in the vampire genre--there's an extremely attractive, powerful, vampire who falls in love with a girl. I thought I was really late in getting to this story but it turns out it was published just last September so I'm not that behind.

I happened on this one and had put it on my to-read list, and then promptly forgotten about it.  Until a new friend, upon discovering that we both read YA, loaned me her copy of Tithe by Holly Black.  I read that in a day, guiltily stealing any free time from my two small children, and then the follow up, Ironside.  These last two are about fairies not vampires, but same type of interesting alternate world, with a beautiful and brave Byronic hero who falls for a girl.  These things alone make for compulsive reads for me, but what sets Holly Black's writing apart and has made me love her books, is that her protagonists, at least in these 3 novels, are strong, fierce girls who are always the real hero in the story.  Not just because they do something to sacrifice themselves in some way, which they do, but they're smart. They are the ones that figure everything out and come up with the way to resolve whatever impossible predicament they find themselves in, and while it may seem predictable, I liked knowing that they were going to ultimately save themselves, not just by being brave but by being their smart, clever selves.

Recommended Reads: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Tithe, and Ironside

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Book Beginnings

Friday Book Beginnings

Thanks to Rose City Reader who hosts this meme every Friday. Click here to go there:

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
This is book 2 in the All Souls Trilogy

We arrived in an undignified heap of witch and vampire.

I just finished this book last night and haven't yet started something new. This was an enjoyable sequel to A Discovery of Witches, although there was a lot that didn't work for me and it seems I'm not the only one who had trouble with certain aspects of it. I read a whole lot of mixed reviews on Goodreads.  I will be putting up a review soon so I won't say too much more here.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Book Beginnings

Thanks to Rose City Reader who hosts this meme every Friday. Click here to go there:

Share the first sentence or sentences of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else.
Leave a link to your post. If you don't have a blog, but want to participate, please leave a comment with your Book Beginning.

"I first saw the house in the summer of my fifth birthday".

Title: Mariana
Author: Susanna Kearsley

From the back cover:

Julia Beckett believes in destiny.  Settling into her rustic new home, Julia encounters haunting remnants of a beautiful young woman who lived and loved there centuries ago. 
It seems Mariana has been waiting for Julia.

I literally just turned the final page of this book about 20 minutes ago.  And it has left me with quite a few questions.  I loved this book up until the very end.  I don't want to give anything away so I will be vague.  I wanted so much to believe the ending but the entire story just didn't convince me of it. It's a romantic story, dappled with some interesting bits of English history post Cromwell.  I recommend this book to anyone who finds the premise interesting:
A young London illustrator moves to the English countryside, and buys an old house that she has been drawn to all her life.  The past seems to be coming for her as she soon starts to have visions, travelling back in time as the reincarnation of Mariana.

I did truly enjoy this book and will go on reading other books by this author as I enjoy her style and find I can not put them down.  But I was just completely thrown by this ending, although I have to say, early on I wondered if it could be but then all of the action in the book convinced me that it could not be...I guess that is why the ending just didn't work for me.
Spoiler alert: Please don't read further if you haven't read this book and intend to.

I went back to re-read the scenes with Ian, and nothing, apart from his willingness to help her with her garden, convinced me that he was trying to mask something deeper.  He helps everyone with their gardens and seems to simply enjoy being outdoors.  The book of poems he borrows from Tom? His softening of his expression every time he speaks with Vivien could be just friendship but it seems the author was deliberately misleading us by throwing those details in.  And why does Julia feel nothing for him aside from a calmness in his presence.  Surely, something more could have hinted at the truth. And why did Geoffrey de Mornay have to be his exact likeness?  If anyone else has read this, I would love to hear your thoughts. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Book Beginnings

Friday Book Beginnings is a meme hosted by Rose City Reader. Go here to add your link and see what others are reading.

Title: The Winter Sea
Author: Susanna Kearsley

It wasn't chance.  There wasn't any part of it that happened just by chance.

I just finished reading this book a few days ago. It had been on my TBR list for at least a couple of years.  It drew my attention initially due to the historical setting which is Scotland right before the failed Jacobite uprising of 1708, which is apparently, according to the author, an often overlooked part of Jacobite history as it's eclipsed by the much more tragic Battle of Culloden in 1746.
I really enjoyed it and I have just ordered Mariana, which is another book by the same author.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Book Beginnings

Friday Book Beginnings is a meme hosted by Rose City Reader. Go here to add your link and see what others are reading.

Pride and Prejudice, again

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The first line of my all-time favorite book.  I read it in my teens, and I loved it.  I have just re-read The Annotated Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen annotated and edited by David M. Shapard.  The annotations were extremely interesting and informative and though much of the explanations of certain customs and word usage of the period were no longer new to me as I've since read many novels that take place in the early 19th century, I still enjoyed reading them and did not skip over any of the annotations.
I didn't think it was possible to enjoy this book more the second time, but I actually did.  It is the only novel that I have ever read twice.  I have always thought that with all of the books out there to be read, I couldn't possibly find the time to read the same one twice.  But I am so happy that I did. I will probably go on to read it many more times now that I've realized that it gets even better.  I didn't realize how much humour was in the book the first time around because I was so busy deciphering the meaning of certain phrases.  But when the language is no longer unfamiliar, or seemingly awkward, this story flows like nothing else I've ever read.  I could go on and on lauding this book, but I won't.  I know this is a favorite of many so my adoration is nothing new.