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There are TWO posts today...Sorry about that :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: When Gods Die by C.S. Harris

# 2  of the Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries

June, 1811. On a summer's evening at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, the beautiful young wife of an aging Marquis is found dead in the arms of the Prince Regent himself. From her back protrudes a jeweled dagger that once belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie. Around her neck lies an ancient bluestone and silver necklace said to have been worn by the Druid priestesses of Wales. Legend credited the necklace with mysterious powers—until it was lost at sea with its last owner, the mother of Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin.

Still shadowed by rumors of his own dark past, Sebastian is lured into a dangerous investigation of both the Marchioness's death and his own mother's uncertain fate. He soon discovers that the idle, profligate Prince is not as innocent as his court handlers would have the public believe. With the aid of his lover, a celebrated actress with secrets of her own, and his new servant, Tom, Sebastian follows a twisted trail that leads from a seaside pleasure palace to the most depraved London slums, from the murdered woman's elegant townhouse in Mayfair to a medieval tavern run by an ex-slave.

As he edges closer to the truth, Sebastian finds himself thrust into a world of hidden passions and disguised ambition. And when one murder is followed by another, he confronts an insidious conspiracy that imperils those nearest to him even as it threatens to bring down the monarchy.

My Thoughts:

This was another face paced, suspenseful, and enjoyable read.  Since this murder throws suspicion on Old Prinny (the Prince Regent), we again have political suspects vying among those who had issue with the deceased.  To add even more mystery to the mix, the deceased Marchioness was wearing a necklace that was last seen on Sebastian's mother, before she died at sea.  What what?  Not only does Sebastian have to solve this murder without ruffling feathers, he must also deal with how this necklace turned up and his feelings regarding his mother's death.  When she died, life become extremely tough for Sebastian.  This aspect of the story makes the reader adore Sebastian even more.  Yes, he is rich and titled but even the aristocracy can have a messed up childhood.

We also can't forget Sebastian's "secret" relationship with Kat, the famous actress whom society deems seriously unfashionable to be involved with.  But Sebastian doesn't care what others think.  This is what allows him to solve these mysteries and still be so charming.  He fights for the innocent victims and ensures they receive justice.  As in the first novel, this story also contains chase scenes through the streets of London, confrontations, and lovable secondary characters, such as Sebastian's new servant Tom and his friend/old comrade/surgeon....sorry I forget his name;but that doesn't make him any less fun!

All in all this was another quick and enjoyable read, that drowned out the real world as I read it.  Although this is the second in the series, I do believe this is a stand alone mystery. I can't wait to get to the next one :)

The author's website:

My Rating: 95/100
Publisher: SIGNET (Penguin)
Genre: Historical fiction/mystery
Paperback 377 pages
Book Source: the library

2011 Challenges Met: Mystery & Suspense, HF

Friday, November 25, 2011

Guest posting today

I am a Lady-in-Waiting at Royal Reviews and am guest posting today.  If you  have a minute, please stop by and visit.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead

They were teachers, students, chemists, writers, and housewives; a singer at the Paris Opera, a midwife, a dental surgeon. They distributed anti-Nazi leaflets, printed subversive newpapers, hid resisters, secreted Jews to safety, transported weapons, and conveyed clandestine messages. The youngest was a schoolgirl of fifteen, who scrawled “V” for victory on the walls of her lycee; the eldest, a farmer’s wife in her sixties who harbored escaped Allied airmen. Strangers to one another, hailing from villages and cities from across France, these brave women were united in hatred and defiance of their Nazis occupiers.
Eventually, the Gestapo hunted down 230 of these women of the French Resistance and imprisoned them in a fort outside Paris. Separated from home and loved ones, these disparate individuals turned to one another, finding solace and strength in friendship; their common experience conquering divisions of age, education, profession, and class.
In January 1943, they were sent to their final destination: Auschwitz. Only forty-nine would survive. (From tour home page)
My Thoughts:
There are two parts to this book: before and after.  Part 1, the before, explains how the women met and how the Resistance movement in France began.  The early Resisters had Communist and Fascist backgrounds.  There were many small groups that initially worked independently.  The university people, printers, writers, each group had a niche.  They would write leaflets and articles about how the German occupation was wrong, how the French were starving, and how people were mistreated at the hands of the Germans.  Women were in a perfect position to distribute anti-German literature, especially as they went about their shopping, or continued to go to work at an office, etc.  No one would suspect a woman of such things.  These early women resisters felt the French were being wronged and set about organinzing resistance.  They were quite passionate.  Then laws against the Jews were enforced and still other women helped to smuggle Jews to safer territory.  
As the Resistance movement became stronger, the Germans set about spying and discovering who was involved.  The Germans were helped by the French police, and citizens who disliked or disagreed with the Communists and Fascists helped as well.  Several secret police forces in addition to the Gestapo, helped to round up these Resistance fighters and put them in French jails.  Beatings and torture for information were quite common.  The women hung in jail together managing the best they could.  Then the tide turned and the Germans decided to be rid of these female troublemakers once and for all.
"You are all condemned to die but the execution of your sentence will take a little time." (pg. 187)
Part 2, the after, begins when the French women disembark from the train that has taken them to the east, further inland in Europe.  They had no idea what awaits them as they enter Auschwitz, singing the Marseillaise, as they were wont to do when they demonstrated their solidarity and defiance.  Unfortunately they soon found out.  Their identities and dignity are  taken away by being shaved bald, medically examined, tattooed, and then dressed in dirty rags, thrown out into the cold and filth. They receive very little food or water, endure roll call for hours on end, standing in the snow, sometimes with no shoes or socks.  Fleas, lice, and disease are so rampant that it is unimaginable. It is not long before the women realize they may not make it out alive, and strive to stick together and look out for one another.  The bonds these women had formed in jail in France serve to get them through until they are eventually liberated, two years later.  The strong ones support the weak, in mind, body, and spirit.  They pool their meager resources together, if one needs something so badly to stave off death.  It is the women's determination to report the horrors they are witnessing firsthand in Auschwitz that drives some of these women to survive.  Someone has got to remember these poor souls who died and bear them witness to the world.  Someone needs to remember their names.
In a little over six months, 177 French women were dead. This left 53 women left.  In the end, only 49 of the 230 French women survived.  It's very hard to wrap your mind around, isn't it?  These women started out doing what they felt was right aiding the Resistance movement, with little or no hesitation.  They were all very strong capable women who could have looked the other way and went about their business.  But no, they stood up to the Germans, and many paid the ultimate price.  Many people have romantic notions about occupied France and the Resistance, and they are mistaken.  These people suffered badly for their beliefs.  I would like to say I would do the same.  I would stand against injustice, but I'm not so sure.  You never can be until you are in that situation.  If these women knew what awaited them, when they got caught, I still don't think they would have changed their minds or activities.  They were and are fighting for humanity. 
This book was engrossing and there were times that I wanted to put it down because the scenes are graphic and disturbing.  I felt this would be a disservice to these women and all they had been through.  The least I could do was read their story.  I learned many things about occupied France, and this book has inspired me to research more information about this time period and its events.  This book is masterfully written and I would recommend it to everyone, especially young people.  History repeats itself, so it must never be forgotten.
My Rating: 100/100 (These women have made an indelible impression upon me.)
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Non-Fiction, WWII
Hardcover 384 pages
Book source: TLC Book Tours
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for another enlightening reading experience.  Here is a list of the other tour stops:
 Tuesday, November 8th: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, November 9th: A Bookish Libraria
Friday, November 11th: Elle Lit.
Monday, November 14th: Diary of an Eccentric
Tuesday, November 15th: Take Me Away
Wednesday, November 16th: Among Stories
Wednesday, November  16th: Melody & Words
Thursday, November 17th: Broken Teepee
Monday, November 21st: Jenny Loves to read
Tuesday, November 22nd: Picky Girl
Wednesday, November 23rd: Books Like Breathing
Monday, November 28th: Reviews by Lola
Tuesday, November 29th: Buried in Print
Wednesday, November 30th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Thursday, December 1st: In the Next Room
Friday, December 2nd: Wordsmithonia
Friday, December 2nd: Books and Movies

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reclaim Your Reader Week Nov. 14th to 18th

This week I am participating in the first annual Reclaim Your Reader Week created and hosted by the Bumbles over at The Bumbles Blog.  The idea is to catch up your blog reading, commenting, etc, but basically no new posts on your own blog.  Spend this week catching up with others, and maybe meeting new people.  Sign ups are here.  Please enjoy my posts from last week and hope to see you around the interwebs.

Happy reading :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's Wednesday?

What’s up Wednesday is a weekly catch up event. I discuss anything that’s on my mind, or what may be happening in my life. It’s my take on “me time”. Feel free to join along in the comments or leave a link to your What’s up Wednesday post.

Weekly?  I have fallen off the wagon!  Gotta fix that for future posts.  Apologies for the late post.  I meant to do at work today, but had to empty my desk for exterminations being done overnight at the office.  Lets just say I quite a bit of flare on my desk, not to mention files and papers.  It's quite sad really.
Anyway, today is about knitting.  Yea!

First up is the SFBB, stupid effing baby blanket.  Why might you ask?  Well I am a selfish knitter, who likes to knit for themselves, and I don't mind the occasional project for others.  However, when one "expects" a blanket, and feels entitled, I get a little miffed.  A blanket is a big time commitment, and not an easy task, as you can see...

It won't cover the bed but it's good for the crib, car seat or carriage.  She was super appreciative, but I am  not a fan of blankets.  I also made her a bunny, because she wouldn't shut up about the last one I made for her son.  I ended up having the perfect yarn and it was a super fast project, so I didn't mind.

He is cute isn't he?  And his face came out nicely too.  I suck at faces.  All in all they were a hit at the shower, and the mother to be teared up so in the end,  I was happy to make her happy.  Even if I grumbled along the way :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs

(Book 1 in the Temperence Brennan Series)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Inc. (1998)
Genre: Mystery/suspense
Paperback, 532 pages
Book Source: Paperbackswap
My Rating: 94/100
Recommended by: Nise from Under the Boardwalk

From the author's website:

Her life is devoted to justice — for those she never even knew.

In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Tempe detects an alarming pattern — and she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her — her best friend and her own daughter — in mortal danger….

My Thoughts:

This is not the Temperance Brennen you know from Bones.  This is the original and she has some luggage with her.  This Tempe is much older, with a kid in college, divorced, and a recovering alcoholic.  Tempe is a bit damaged, and I like her for it.  She is not as clinical as the TV version.  This Tempe has feelings.

"The deaths of these women had stirred something in me.  I ached for their fear, ,their pain, their helplessness in the face of madness.  I felt anger and outrage, and a need to root out the animal responsible for their slaughter.  I felt for these victims, and my response to their deaths was like a lifeline to my own feelings.  To my own humanity and my celebration of life.  I felt, and I was grateful for the feeling."  pg. 411

This book was an interesting read.  It is set in Quebec, Canada in the early 1990s.  The police department has finally decided to install a computer system for their records.  Compared to today, it blows the mind a little, doesn't it?  Anyway, through Tempe's relentless insistence of involving herself in the police investigation, it becomes evident they have a nasty serial killer on their hands, and time is of the essence.   The murders are brutal indeed, so if you are squeamish, there are some parts you have to skip past.  Tempe likes to go off on her own little investigations, and that's where things begin to get dangerous. 

The story is told by Tempe in the first person.  There were passages in the story that were quite suspenseful.  I started to skip over words I was reading so fast.  As for the forensic anthropology aspect, I enjoyed that, and there was only one part that started to make my eyes glaze over.  Since it is first person through Tempe, the story contains her thoughts and how she tries to deal with these things in her life, her divorce, her daughter, trying to make a difference in these investigations, how people see her.  These insights are what made this Tempe so much more enjoyable to me.  She is real person with real fears and doubts like you and I.  She also makes the same stupid mistakes you or I might make.  Tempe is someone I would definitely like to have lunch with.

If you are looking for something a little different, something more than just a detective story, try this series.

For more information about the book series or the author, please visit her website:

Thanks to Nise for recommending this book/series!

2011 Challenges Met: Mystery & Suspense, Chunkster

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Suddenly Sunday

Hosted by Svea from The Muse on the Fog

Hello dear readers!  Hope you having a lovely November Sunday.  November already...can you believe it?!  These days are going by so quickly.  I'm sure you are all planning your holiday festivities like me.  What cookies to bake, parties to attend, etc.  In terms of reading, I haven't read much.  All my plans for spooky reading took a back seat to the Mysteries of Udolpho, but I don't mind.  That book was wonderful, and I'm glad I finally read it.

I also finally read The Luxe by Anna Godberson.  This review is due to post on Royal Reviews first, but will eventually appear here as well.  What a deliciously sinful book!  It was so fun to read, and I am debating about requesting the rest of the series from the library.  That and the remainder of the Hunger Games series.  I'm thinking I can squeeze those in before the end of the year.  I have plans for my 2012 reading already.  I'll save the details for later.

In terms of non-bookish stuff, October was a busy month for me.  I attended a training seminar for work which was three days of hard core learning.  Two online classes required completion before attending the seminar too.  It was intense but well worth it.  Work is always busy, and I recently learned my boss and I are undertaking a big humongous project.  It is daunting to be sure, but interesting and something I enjoy: education efforts.  Yea!  Maybe I should have been a teacher :)

On the social front, not much.  I like sticking close to home and relaxing with my hubby.  I did however attend the opera with my mom.  We went to a production of Carmen at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia.  It was our first opera and it was a wonderful experience.  We had the cheap seats, so our view was slightly obstructed, but the music and singing was awesome!  I had a vague idea of what Carmen was about, but never realized she was such a trollop!  We will definitely go to the opera again.

Half of the experience was the Academy itself. (Link to history)  It is so old you can not help but imagine America's ton going to the opera and sitting in their boxes.  Loving historical fiction helps too.   The Academy opened in 1857 and was called the Grand Old Lady of Locust Street.  Although paintings may be touched up, statues polished, and seats recovered, the size, shape, design, everything is original.  When one speaks about the Academy, the chandelier inevitably comes up.  It weighs about 5,000 pounds and it is exquisite.  Here are some photos of the inside from my phone:

The detail on the statues holding up the roof

From the last row in the top most tier.

If you are ever in Philly., I would recommend trying to catch a show or something at the Academy.  It is a treat   Have a great week everyone :)