Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Longbourn - Jo Baker

If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.

In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own.

My thoughts:
This was a nice re-telling as it dealt with the servants at Longbourn. Yes things are going on upstairs, but they got their own issues downstairs.

We have of course Mrs and Mr Hill. Going on with their daily life of chores and something later on that I shall not talk about.

We have the maid Sarah who wishes Elizabeth would not walk through muddy fields when it's Sarah who has to spend a day trying to clean that damn petticoat. Sarah who catches the eye of a Netherfield servant.

Then there is Polly the younger maid, and James, the mysterious new servant who shows up. But who is he? I liked his story, it worked.

While the Bennets deal with heartbreak and balls, the servants clean after them. It also gave a portrait of Wickham that made sense, he is not a good man. But to my surprise I actually kind of kind of liked Mr Collins, he was nice. That too made sense.

Conclusion:
Dirty linens, making food, blasted petticoats, running to Meryton to deliver letters. it's another world for the downstairs folk. And it makes it into a great re-telling. It's their story, not the Bennets.

Cover
Nice
 
 
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Knopf
Historical fiction / Pride and Prejudice variation
Library

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she's a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in 'Elsewhere', she has never understood Brimstone's dark work - buying teeth from hunters and murderers - nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn't whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

My thoughts:
Did I think I would like it? HA, no. It was YA, come on. You know me. Did I like it anyway? YES!!! I am sorry YA, but most of the time you are angst filled love triangle stuff that makes me want to bang my head against the wall. But then once in a while I like YA, and once upon a blue moon I actually really like one. Yes it surprised me. But then it had nothing of those things I do not like, and everything of what I do like.

It was set in Prague, at once a win win. I have been to Prague, it's a beautiful city and a perfect setting for this book.

Karou is an art student. Her family consists of  monsters and she is sent all over the world to get things. She has seen a lot, she has made mistakes but most of all she is lonely. She does not belong here or there. Whatever there is. She was different, she was sad, lonely, angry. I liked her.

The world was great. I am not gonna go into details but I liked Elsewhere. I really liked the Elsewhere aspect.

There is also some romance coming, and that, well at first I was unsure but ok it works, and it worked even better when I understood.

I want book 2 now. I need more and I hope, hope! that it will be good too. Because when I finally liked a YA book then the rest is meh. Oh I am such a pessimist. 

Conclusion:
I just really enjoyed this book, I do not know what more to say. Everything fell into place and worked for me. I could not stop reading. So yes I recommend it.

Cover
 Beyond boring

Hardcover, UK, 418 pages
Published September 29th 2011 by Hodder & Stoughton
Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1
YA, Paranormal
Library

Monday, 25 August 2014

The thinking woman's guide to real magic - Emily Croy Barker

Nora's life is not quite going as planned. Her career has stalled; the man of her dreams is getting married, but not to her; and there's a mouse in her kitchen... Getting away for the weekend for a friend's wedding seems like perfect timing, especially when she stumbles across the glamorous Ilissa, who is determined to take Nora under her wing.

Through Ilissa, Nora is introduced to a whole new world - a world of unbelievable decadence and riches where time is meaningless and everyone is beautiful. And Nora herself feels different: more attractive; more talented; more popular... Yet something doesn't quite ring true: was she really talking to Oscar Wilde at Ilissa's party last night? Or transported from New York to Paris in the blink of an eye?

It is only when Ilissa's son, Raclin, asks Nora to marry him that the truth about her new friends becomes apparent. By then, though, it's too late, and Nora realises she may never be able to return to the world, and the life, she knew before. If she is to escape Raclin and Ilissa's clutches, her only hope is the magician Aruendiel. A grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past, he might just teach her what she needs to survive and perhaps even make it home: the art of real magic.

My thoughts:
I always find "falling into a world fantasy" like a different sort of fantasy. With regular fantasy it's that world, and we do not exist. But with "falling into a world" we do have our world, and that world. And this did have more of a fairy-tale vibe to it too.

Let me begin. Nora takes a walk, meets some new people and parties, drinks and enjoys herself for once. But alas, something is strange. Why is she partying? Who are these people?

Which leads us to the fantasy world. Two races fighting. A world with magic. And to this world Nora comes with the knowledge from her world. And she is certainly not like other women. Demure, no, respectful, no. She also hates the world because what is she in it? Nothing. And the only person she knows is a magician who is grumpy.

I did want a bit more from this world, but at the same time I liked how it was. It was more fairy-tale like, and it's not a nice fairy-tale. Life is hard, dirty and degrading. But Nora sure tries to make the best of it.

But I warn you, the ending is..well it was an ending and it could be left like that. But at the same time, it was not! Omg, I need more, I need stuff to happen ;)

Conclusion:
An interesting book, good characters and somewhat of a silliness over it all too. It managed to be both serious, strange and fun.

Cover
nice

Paperback, 576 pages
Published July 29th 2014 by Penguin Books (first published August 1st 2013)
Fantasy / Fiction
For review

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Author Interview: Christina Courtenay

Today I am interviewing author Christina Courtenay.

Welcome!


1. Tell me 3 strange things about yourself?  
I eat chocolate for breakfast
I don’t like champagne so if I have to drink it I mix it with 7Up, Lemonade or Sprite
I can swear or say something rude in eight languages (not sure that’s a good thing though!?)

2. Tell me about your new book Moonsoon mists?
It’s a historical romance and adventure story, set in India in 1759, and it’s the third book in my Kinross series. It features Jamie Kinross, younger brother of Brice from the second book in the series, Highland Storms. Jamie is a gem trader who embarks on a dangerous mission, carrying the stolen talisman of an Indian Rajah. When he encounters Zarmina Miller, he’s instantly tempted by the so called “Ice Widow”, but he soon begins to see another side to her – a dark past to rival his own and a heart just waiting to be thawed. But is it too late? And what is he to do with the talisman?

3. Why did you decide to set it in India?
The hero, Jamie, wants to escape his past and needs to get as far away from his native country of Sweden as possible. In the 1750s that usually meant going to the Far East, but his brother and parents have already been there so he decides on India instead.

From the author’s point of view, I chose India because I found a wonderful journal from that time with an account of a Swedish man’s journey to Surat in India so I was able to see things through his eyes which was very helpful. And having already written about China and Japan, I wanted to try something new and exciting.

4. This is something many readers always wonder when a book is part of a series. Do you recommend that they read book 1 and 2 first, or can it work as a stand alone?
The book definitely works as a stand alone, but it is probably more satisfying for the reader if they have read books 1 and 2 first as there will be things they recognise and little snippets of information about characters from the previous stories. And the ending, where everything comes together, includes characters from the previous books who have cameo roles in this one. So yes, I’d recommend reading all three, but it’s not essential.

5.Did you always plan to write about Jamie or?
No, and in fact, I hadn’t planned to write a trilogy at all! When I finished the first book in the series, Trade Winds, I thought I had finished with the Kinross family, but the characters wouldn’t leave my head and I ended up writing the second book about Brice, the son of the couple in Trade Winds. Then his younger brother Jamie seemed to be the villain of that story, but he had his reasons and he wouldn’t give me any peace until I’d written his take on it down too. And there were readers who egged me on to write Jamie’s story as well, so in the end, I did. And I’m glad, because I’ve enjoyed spending more time with this family.

6. What are you working on right now?
I’ve just sent my publisher the third book in my Japanese trilogy (provisionally titled The Snow Ghost) and now I’m about to start work on a time slip novel set partly during the English Civil War, a period in history that I love. There’s something very special about the Cavaliers so I’m looking forward to writing this one!

Thanks!
Thank you for having me as your guest!

Blurb for Monsoon Mists
Sometimes the most precious things cannot be bought … 
It’s 1759 and Jamie Kinross has travelled far to escape his troubled existence – from the pine forests of Sweden to the bustling streets of India.

Jamie starts a new life as a gem trader, but when his mentor’s family are kidnapped as part of a criminal plot, he vows to save them and embarks on a dangerous mission to the city of Surat, carrying the stolen talisman of an Indian Rajah.

There he encounters Zarmina Miller. She is rich and beautiful, but her infamous haughtiness has earned her a nickname: “The Ice Widow”.   Jamie is instantly tempted by the challenge she presents.
When it becomes clear that Zarmina’s step-son is involved in the plot Jamie begins to see another side to her – a dark past to rival his own and a heart just waiting to be thawed. But is it too late?
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