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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Simply Irresistible - Ellen T. White

A how-to-seduce history guide. Definitely a unique concept, you have to give White that.

Author White delivers a comprehensive guide to a millenia's worth of 'Sirens', or women who knew how to use their feminine (and sometimes masculine) wiles to land the men (yes, plural) they desired (or perhaps didn't). A very original concept, sure, but the supposed 'lessons' derived from history's women are little more than tidbits on how to get men lusting after you. Handy if you picture yourself falling in and out of beds with people whose name(s) escape you, but not ideal for any woman who's dreamt of the pure white wedding.

The enthralling parts of the book can be found solely in the history lessons - safe to say, extra-marital affairs are much more taboo today than they were a few centuries back. But the 'tips' provided in addition to the stories come off as forced and trite. While Greg Behrendt's He's Just Not That Into You relies on a woman's own self-confidence to weed out the frogs from the princes, Irresistible utilizes a woman's self-confidence to land both the frogs and the princes in the sack. Perfectly fine if you're 'sewing your wild oats', but not so if a committed relationship is what you are seeking. The excerpts regarding in-the-bedroom experimentation may help spice up a marriage, but that's as far as the aid extends.

If you wish to examine the lives of seductresses of modern day and yore, go ahead and pick up this book. But this is no relationship guide for the ages.

"Ruins" by Scott Smith

"Ruins" is a creepy tale about a small group of friends, who decide to help out another friend, while on vacation in Cancun, only to find themselves trapped in a nightmare. They stumble onto a hill, in a remote part of the jungle and aren't allowed to leave. What makes it bad, is the hill has it's own presence. One that won't cease until they do.
Very quick read. Left me with strange dreams, but anyone who enjoys a good King novel, will like this book. It might turn you off gardening though.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Signed, Mata Hari by Yannick Murphy

Signed, Mata Hari
by Yannick Murphy
ISBN-10: 031611264X
ISBN-13: 978-0316112642
I have always had a fascination with spies, especially women spies of the 20th century. I have always been fascinated by Mata Hari - the Dutch woman Margaretha Zelle, an exotic dancer who was accused of being a double agent in world War I. Perhaps my fascination dates back to watching Greta Garbo in the 1931 movie.

This book is historical fiction. It centers on the prison cell of Margaretha Zelle and the stories she tells her jailers hoping to lenghten her life. In a strangely erotic story, she tells us her life story: the troubled childhood, the cruel husband, the life in India (which was quite fascinating), the lost children, the exotic dancing, and her time in prison.

The book is written with the unique perspective of an imprisioned woman. The imagry is ugly and beautiful - haunting in the details. It is one of the more disturbing books I have read, yet I am glad that I read it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

The Friday Night Knitting Club

by Kate Jacobs

At Walker & Doughter, Georgia, a single mother runs a knitting shop - a business she started with help of a benefactor and new friend. As the years go by, the shop succeeds and her daughter grows into a young woman, A Club forms on Friday nights where her customers gather to knit and help one another and talk. The Club becomes a place of more than knitting, as the women talk about life, love and projects.

Unexpectedly, Georgia's life changes drastically as two estranged people re-enter her life - her best friend in school and the father of her daughter. At the same time, life's changes come to the regular members of the Club and love, divorce, marriage, birth and death visit the members.

Through the trials, tribulations, joys and love, the members always have knitting to tie them together - the love of the yarn, the stitches and the process knit them together.

This is a very enjoyable read. The characters are rich and believeable and the plot as varied as life's changes make it.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Heretic - Bernard Cornwell

Heretic is the third and final book in the Grail Quest series by historical fiction writer, Bernard Cornwell, which takes place in the 14th century England and France.

The protagonist, Thomas of Hookton, is hot on the rumor and relic trail of the Holy Grail. But many things are in his way. The story continues with the siege and capture of Calais, a historical event of 1347. Thomas is beginning to gather men-at-arms and archers under his leadership. But while he has loyalties to a certain few nobles, he also is looking for a heretic, a warrior, a cousin...Guy Vexille. Vexille is a man who, like Thomas, descends from a Christian heretic faction that supposedly possessed the Grail. Vexille, while related to Thomas, is Thomas' mortal enemy and Vexille is even more obsessed with finding the Grail than Thomas. They will stop and nothing to destroy each other.

The Black Plague also enters into this story. They called it pestilence back then but it was a devastating disease that rapidly spread and rapidly killed.

As the story winds to a climax, Thomas must face his unfortunate circumstances and follow the leads he's been given to find the truth surrounding his family history and the Holy Grail.

This has been an enjoyable series. It seems difficult to tackle an overdone historical legend/myth like the Holy Grail. The author did a great job at keeping the mystery and not cheapening the subject. One different aspect of this series from his "older" books is that all parties involved profess to be Christian, as opposed to the Druid/pagan cults of ancient Britian competing with Christianity. The other religious aspect frequently touched on is the practice of relic worship in the Middle Ages. Bones from the donkey that Jesus rode in Jerusalem, and angel's wing, The crown of thorns, a saints girdle. This is one aspect of Cornwell's writing that always entertains is the weirdness of religious practices, especially the corruptions of the Christian church.

Good series.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thief of Hearts

Thief of Hearts
By Patricia Gaffney

This is a historical romance set in Victorian era England. I would like to say first and foremost, the jacket cover did NOT do this novel justice! It was actually a very well written book, complete with a wonderfully twisting plot! Just when you thought you had figured out the ending, Ms. Gaffney threw you a curve ball! It had me guessing all the way to the end.

This is the story of Anna Jourdaine. Her father owns Jourdaine Ship Building, and she is the only living child. With an ailing father, Anna is more than relieved to be marrying the gentleman she fell in love with 8 years ago, Nick Balfour, who just happens to be her father's right hand man. Unfortunately, Nick is murdered the night of their wedding, and Anna has to try and pass off his twin brother, John Brodie, as Nick. No easy task, since John was only hours away from hanging for murder, is no gentleman, and cusses like the sailor he is.

Both Anna and John want to prove Nick is innocent of selling Jourdaine ships to the Confederates from America. They also want the person who murdered him in cold blood to pay. Ms. Gaffney shows us that sometimes you don't always get what you want, even in a romance novel!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Everyday Cat Excuses by Molly Brandenburg

Everyday Cat Excuses
Written & Illustrated by Molly Brandenburg

64 pages ISBN: 1-4027-5903-7 ISBN13: 9781402759031

$7.95 US $8.95 Canadian Hardcover with Jacketb/w illus. throughout7 1/4 X 6

This is a joyful book for cat lovers everywhere. No cat lover will be able to resist laughing out loud as they recognize their own beloved felines in the pages. It is a delightful book.

It is artfully illustrated with primitive cats that convey the messages of the cats!

Of course, we would have liked for it to be longer and spent quite some time coming up with additional cat excuses! Everyone should visit the web site and read about the cats who were the inspiration for the story -

Everyday Cat Excuses is a great gift for the feline lover (or yourself)!!!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

"Grave's End" by Elaine Mercado, R.N. is a true ghost story of her experiences with a house her family bought and lived in during the 80's and 90's. She begins her story as a disbeliever, but eventually, there is no denying what is happening to her and her family. It's a very interesting story, and although subtle, can leave you feeling a little on edge. It was a quick read, engrossing and leaves you with a what if feeling. I really enjoyed it and if you have a fascination for the unknown, I recommend it.

The next time you hear a bump in the night, you might think twice about it just being the wind.