Sunday 31 July 2011

Review: The Dervish House - Ian McDonald

Genre: Sci-fi/fiction
Pages: 576, PB
Published: July 14th 2011 Golllancz

It begins with an explosion. Another day, another bus bomb. Everyone it seems is after a piece of Turkey. But the shockwaves from this random act of 21st century pandemic terrorism will ripple further and resonate louder than just Enginsoy Square. Welcome to the world of The Dervish House; the great, ancient, paradoxical city of Istanbul, divided like a human brain, in the great, ancient, equally paradoxical nation of Turkey. The year is 2027 and Turkey is about to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its accession to the European Union; a Europe that now runs from the Arran Islands to Ararat. Population pushing one hundred million, Istanbul swollen to fifteen million; Turkey is the largest, most populous and most diverse nation in the EU, but also one of the poorest and most socially divided. It's a boom economy, the sweatshop of Europe, the bazaar of central Asia, the key to the immense gas wealth of Russia and Central Asia. The Dervish House is seven days, six characters, three interconnected story strands, one central common core--the eponymous dervish house, a character in itself--that pins all these players together in a weave of intrigue, conflict, drama and a ticking clock of a thriller.

My thoughts:
I do not know how to review this book because it was so well-written, and the imagination of it all, and the knowledge of the city showed that he really had aspired to learn as much as much as he could. And even if I liked it, it was still too confusing for me to really get lost in it.

There is so much going on, and there are a lot of characters.  Adnan is a trader with a get rich scheme with his buddies. His wife Ayse owns a gallery and buys religious art. She is hired to find the mellified man, a man who became honey after his death (do not get me started, it has to do with how he lived on honey and became mummified.) Georgios, an old Greek who is a professor in Economics, Can who is nine and who with his robots uncovers a terrorist plot and won't let go. Leyla who wants a job in marketing and later has to hunt something down for her new job. Necdet who after being caught in a suicide bombing starts seeing djinn.

The thing is that it would all have worked for me if it had not jumped so much. I was reading about Adnan and turned the page and suddenly I was reading about Can. For me it was just too jumpy and I got confused. I did not know who was who and what they were doing. It took a really long time for me to get into the book and understand what was going on. Even then I have no idea what Adnan was up too. But then his plot was just too complicated.

This book has a lot going on. Hidden relics, trying to find terrorists before they strike again, people not wanting to be a part of the EU. A hot summer where gas is wanted. People who see djinn and other things that should not exist. And it is interesting.

The best part is the new world he has built up. Where nanos are inserted into our bloodstream to make us concentrate better, and everything you could imagine. Where we can see what is happening on our retina, like a computer. It is a new world but at the same time an old world, and the changes are not big, instead they are believable.

It is a book to read slowly. That is my advice.

Even if the book was not for me I was impressed by the science fiction parts and how these lives came together like a puzzle.

Not for me. But maybe for you.


Friday 29 July 2011

Interview and Giveaway: Victoria Connelly - A Weekend with Mr Darcy

By now you all know I really like Jane Austen variations ;) And today I have Victoria Connelly over who has written A Weekend With Mr Darcy. There is also a chance to win the book at the end of this interview.


Tell us something about yourself, so we can get to know you better…

I’ve always written – my first attempt at fiction was when I was 14.  I grew up watching the romantic comedies of Marilyn Monroe, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland and Doris Day and I just loved them.  I’m never happier than when my writing is going well but I have other interests too.  I'm passionate about animal welfare and have a Springer spaniel from rescue and four ex- battery chickens.  I also love baking, gardening and walking in the countryside.

Could you tell me about your newest book, A Weekend with Mr Darcy?

A Weekend with Mr Darcy is the first in my trilogy about Jane Austen addicts.  It's a romantic comedy set in rural Hampshire about two couples who meet and fall in love at Jane Austen conference.  It’s had some lovely reviews in the UK and I was delighted to hear that Andrew Davies had read it – he’s the screenwriter who adapted Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and he thought my book was ‘Great fun … a real page turner.’  I was so thrilled!

What made you write a contemporary book with Jane Austen vibes?
I wanted to explore what it was like living with a Jane Austen addict.  I'm forever watching the film adaptations of the books and I often wonder what my husband thinks of it all.  I'd also be visiting many of Austen's beautiful locations including Chawton in Hampshire, Lyme Regis in Dorset and the Georgian city of Bath and I couldn't help thinking that they would make wonderful settings books.

Which Jane Austen novel is your favorite?
Pride and Prejudice – it was the first Jane Austen I read and I totally fell in love with it.  I adore Elizabeth and Mr Darcy – sparks fly whenever they are together!  I also love the humour and the way Austen portrays the characters of Mr Collins and Lady Catherine.  Oh, and wicked Wickham – he’s such a great character.

Who would you picture playing the leading roles if this book was turned into a movie? 
My first published book, Flights of Angels, was made into a movie in Germany and it’s every writer’s dream to see that happen.  For A Weekend with Mr Darcy, my dream cast would be Richard Armitage as my hero, Warwick Lawton, Rose Byrne as my academic, Dr Katherine Roberts, Rebecca Night as romantic Robyn Love and Jared Padalecki as handsome Dan Harcourt.  So, if you can arrange that for me, I'd be very grateful!

Could you tell me about a little about the other books you have written?
The next book in my Jane Austen trilogy is called Dreaming of Mr Darcy and comes out in January.  It's about a young woman who runs a bed and breakfast in Lyme Regis and falls madly in love with the actor playing Captain Wentworth in a new adaptation of Persuasion which is filming in the town.  The final book in the trilogy is called Mr Darcy Forever and is about to estranged sisters who meets at the Jane Austen Festival in Bath.  I've also written a romantic comedy called Molly’s Millions which is about a lottery winner who gives it all away.

Are you working on something new and exciting at the moment?

Indeed, I am!  I’ve just completed my Austen addicts trilogy and I’m working on a new romantic comedy called The Runaway Actress about a movie star who swaps Hollywood for the Highlands of Scotland.  There’s a whole cast of crazy characters and a fabulous backdrop – I love writing about Scotland.

Any advice for aspiring writers?
Never give up.  If you love writing and really want to be published, keep at it.  Read as much as you can and write as often as you can and keep sending your book out to agents and publishers.  It can often take years before becoming published but, if you're passionate enough about it and willing to learn from your mistakes, you will get there!

Thanks for stopping by!
And thank you for your lovely questions.

1 copy of A Weekend with Mr. Darcy

1. Open to US and Canda
2. Ends August 4th
3. Just enter or well just write anything you want really :) Like which one is your fav JA book or movie?

Out Now from Sourcebooks Landmark

Full of characters obsessed with Jane Austen and set in Jane Austen locations in England, this lively modern Jane Austen romantic comedy trilogy features two pairs of lonely hearts who find each other and themselves at a Jane Austen Addicts weekend.

Dr. Katherine Roberts is a Jane Austen lecturer at St Bridget's College, Oxford, who secretly loves the racy Regency novels of Lorna Warwick. But Lorna is really a man who's slowly been falling in love with Katherine. He's hoping that the Jane Austen Addicts weekend will be the perfect opportunity to declare his feelings...

  Hi from me.
My Flash fic for this week

Oh and Lj is being an ass, commenting trouble and more

Thursday 28 July 2011

Review: Taken by The Others - Jess Haines + guestreviewing

Series: H & W Investigations #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 352
Published: January 2011 Zebra

Once, New York P.I. Shiarra Waynest's most pressing problem was keeping her agency afloat. Now she's dealing with two dangerous, seductive vampires who have been enemies for centuries. The only thing Max Carlyle and Alec Royce agree on is that they both want Shia - for very different reasons. Max is determined to destroy Shia for killing his progeny, while Royce's interest is a lot more personal. That's not sitting well with Shia's werewolf boyfriend, Chaz. As the feud between Max and Royce gets ever more deadly, a powerful vampire-hunting faction is urging Shia to join their side. Shia has always believed vamps were the bad guys, but she's discovering unexpected shades of grey that are about to redefine her friends, her loyalties - and even her desires.

My thoughts: 
I liked book 1 but I liked this one even more! And now I do not know where to start, but what else is new. The ones I like and can't put down, yes those are so hard to review.

My favourite new P.I. Shiarra has avoided Others after her last ordeal which nearly killed her. Well except for her werewolf boyfriend Chaz, whom she has not yet slept with since she does not want to sign a contract handing over her life. Of course life is not that easy and if it was we wouldn't get a story. There is a new vampire in town who wants her dead (and I can't help liking him, he is so deliciously evil, truly evil.) And then there is Royce who wants her (mmm vampires) and those pesky White Hats who wants her to hunt Others for them.

As you can see things are heating up, poor Shiarra gets into a lot of trouble, serious trouble. She can't fight a vampire like Max. And I like that, ok that sounds horrible, but heroines must have faults, must be normal. And she as a mere human can't fight someone that powerful. I also like that she takes it slow with Chaz since she knows what a contract like that would do (in case he goes moon crazy and rips her into pieces he won't get prosecuted). Which he hopefully never would do since he loves her.

This book just never stopped. First it has me smiling because of a certain tabloid, and the next moment it had me fearing for her life. The story just flows along and takes me along for the ride and I sure enjoyed it.

I recommend this urban fantasy series. It has a great heroine, a bit of humour, action and bloodthirsty beast. What more could a girl ask for?

Did not want to put it down

HAHA. Hooker Shiarra, *rolls eyes*


I am honoured to be guest reviewing over at Book Lovers Inc today

Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis

Stan Markowski is a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD's Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit.

Like the rest of America, Scranton's got an uneasy 'live and let unlive' relationship with the supernatural. But when a vamp puts the bite on an unwilling victim, or some witch casts the wrong kind of spell, that's when they call Markowski. He carries a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.

Edit: *big eyes* How did I get that cool box?!

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Interview andGiveaway: Helen Hollick - Sea Witch

I have posted reviews of the Sea Witch books this week and now it is time for an interview with the author Helen Hollick. And you can also win a book today (open to all).

Tell us something about yourself, so we can get to know you better…
I live in the outskirts of London, England – between a busy suburban town and the 6,000 acres of Epping Forest where all the Kings and Queens of England used to hunt, indeed, Queen Elizabeth I’s hunting lodge can still be seen. I live with my husband Ron, adult daughter Kathy; a dog, Rum and cat, Mab. In the back yard we have Ron’s homing pigeons, my three hens and a variety of goldfish and Koi. There is just about room for a few flowers and a small vegetable patch! We also have three horses, but fortunately for our patch of grass that I grandly call a lawn, they are kept at a nearby livery yard.

I have always wanted to write and was accepted for publication back in 1993 – a week after my 40th birthday.

Could you tell me about your Pirates series?
I had the inspiration for the first book – Sea Witch – soon after falling for Johnny Depp’s wonderful Captain Jack Sparrow. The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, was so exciting and such fun to watch, pure enjoyable escapism, that I wanted to find something similar to read. There were plenty of nautical-based novels: Hornblower, Patick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey, James L. Nelson’s series of novels – Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek, and several books for children and teenagers, but there was nothing that matched P.O.C. for adventure, entertainment -  sex - and fantasy. So I wrote my own; the book I wanted to read. What I did not expect, was to fall head over heels in love with my main character, Captain Jesamiah Acorne, or have the inspiration to turn the one book into a series. At the moment there are three “Voyages” as I call them, with a fourth half written. I plan at least six – maybe more, but that will depend on how well the others do.

The series is set in the early 1700’s - Sea Witch starts in January 1716, and I intend to travel forward with the series to about 1725 or maybe a little beyond that. Although I have a slight fantasy element – the Goddess of the Sea, Tethys, for instance, and Jesamiah’s girlfriend, Tiola Oldstagh, is a White Witch, I try to stay within the bounds of the believable. I don’t use “Harry Potter” type magic, mine is more along the lines of the Force in Star Wars.

My nautical detail is as accurate as I can get it, thanks to the assistance of author James L. Nelson who kindly edits the sailing detail for me. I have based the Sea Witch (the ship) on the Rose, now known as HMS Surprise. Technically she is a little later in date than my books are set, but I am not writing historical fiction here, these are historical adventure novels. I do, however, research the history thoroughly and use a factual background where I can. Occasionally I will shift the facts slightly – but I always make a note of the “poetic licence” scenes in my author’s notes.

In Bring It Close, for instance (Voyage Three) the story revolves around that most famous of pirates, Edward Teach – Blackbeard himself. I even went to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia to research the history for this book, investigating the Governor’s Palace, the Capitol building and the gaol. I so enjoy blending the reality of facts in with the adventure fantasy, in this instance things worked very well. Jesamiah is arrested and tried for acts of piracy – in exchange for his life he is coerced into helping rid the seas of Blackbeard. (Trouble follows Acorne like a ship’s wake)  We know great detail about Blackbeard and his demise because records were kept – Lt Maynard who attacked him in the shallows of the Ocracoke kept a meticulous log of the events, and the pirates, once captured were taken for trial (and hanging) to Williamsburg. It was so easy to assume that my Jesamiah was behind the planning and involved in the fight – as he states in the novel, he wants no mention of his name been recorded. So that is why you will not find him in the records, Maynard complied with the request and took the credit for himself!

Since most like pirates and would surely love a movie, then who would play the main characters?
Oh this is difficult as I’m not really a movie-goer (despite being co-screenplay writer for the proposed movie 1066) I only know of a handful of actors and actresses, and most of them are from the old movies.,,,, Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Errol Flynn, Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn…. *laugh* hopeless aren’t I! There’s Harrison Ford, Kevin Costner… Johnny Depp of course, but he is Jack Sparrow, it wouldn’t be right to have him play a different pirate.

I think I would rather have the Sea Witch Voyages as a TV drama series though, not a movie – to not compete with Pirates of the Caribbean, and because you can go into more depth with a TV series. I’m thinking of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series here – Sean Bean (now there’s one sexy actor!) I would love Sea Witch to be made with the same quality of that series – and with such fantastic actors.  One can but dream and hope….

Maybe your Blog readers could make some suggestions for who they would choose to play Jesamiah and Tiola?

What is the best thing about writing the Pirates series?
The books are fun to write, I don’t have the restriction of having to stick to historical fact and I can be as imaginative as I like. I adore my Jesamiah, so its fun “being” with him a lot of the time (he does get himself into some dreadful scrapes – nasty and nice ones! He needs to learn to keep his breeches buttoned more often though!)

The best thing of all – unlike my historical novels about real people of the past….. Jesamiah gets to stay alive at the end of each book!

Do you usually do a lot of research for your books?
Yes. Apart from researching the historical facts, I do a lot of research about the places used in various scenes, and shipping and sailing detail as well. I look into the correct clothing, food, drink. Any books I mention that Jesamiah might be reading I make sure were available. For the ship herself, the “facts” do not quite fit the period, as the Rose (HMS Surprise) was built about fifty years later – but I si love that ship, I just had to use her as a “template”.

I have also researched a lot about midwifery. Tiola Oldstagh (pronounced Teo-la Oldstaff), Jeamiah’s girlfriend – and later in the series, his wife -  is a White Witch of Craft, but she is also a healer and midwife. You will find that the scenes where she is helping a woman give birth, particularly in Bring It Close are highly accurate. I am fortunate in that my step-granddaughter, Nicola, is a qualified midwife!

Could you tell me about a little about all the other books you have written?
I have several historical fiction novels published in the UK with SilverWood Books and in North America with Sourcebooks Inc. My Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy – The Kingmaking, Pendragon’s Banner and Shadow of the King are about King Arthur – the what might have really happened story. There is no magic, no Lancelot, Merlin or holy grail, just the down to earth story of a man who had to fight hard to gain his kingdom, and even harder to keep it – and the woman he loved, Gwenhwyfar.

I also have two books about 11th century Saxon England. The first is The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) the story of a remarkable woman – Queen Emma. I am proud to announce that this book has recently entered the US Today bestseller list, so I am officially a bestselling author! Following directly on from where Forever Queen finishes is the next chapter of history – the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Harold the King (UK title) / I am the Chosen King (US title) is about the turmoil of dramatic events that culminated in the Norman Conquest.
(note up to date UK covers of these books available upon request)

Are you writing something exciting at the moment?
I have had a lot of editing to do to get my books ready for the US market – with that completed I did not expect to have to start all over again with my UK editions, but my previous UK publisher had financial problems and I recently had to change to a new publishing house – SilverWood Books. Because I did not have any updated, usable files returned to me I had to re-edit all my original ones – a mammoth task! Hence the updated Sea Witch books are very new into the publication process, and may not quite yet be available from Amazon,com…. But they will be very soon!

I have the Pendragon’s Banner books to complete for the UK, but I am taking a bit of a break from editing at the moment so that I can get on with completing the fourth Sea Witch Voyage Ripples in the Sand. This story brings Jesamiah and Tiola to Devon, England, where Cpt Acorne hopes to legally sell a cargo of tobacco – and illegally pass on several barrels of brandy. He gets mixed up in a jail-break, smuggling, and a planned Jacobite rebellion. Meanwhile, Tiola must look into the past – time slip – to establish just why Tethys, the goddess of the sea, is so determined to have Jesamiah for herself.

I hope then to write another serious Historical Fiction novel…. And I would love to do a spin-off adventure series based on my Arthur books!

Any advice for aspiring writers?
For one thing – if you don’t write it, it will not get published!
Everyone can write a novel, but not every novel is readable, so if you are intending to self publish it is essential that you have a professional edit your book – and not just a “copy edit” for spelling, punctuation and grammar. You will need someone to be honest about the content, to correct the flaws in continuity, or point of view changes (head hopping) or to point out where there is too much “tell” not “show” – and too much “author’s voice. Writing, you see, is not just being able to tell a story, there is a technical side to it as well. But don’t be put off – the technical stuff can be learnt!

For anyone interested I have an article about hints and tips for writing called Discovering The Diamond As soon as I get a chance I intend to also have it available, for free, on Kindle.

Thanks for stopping by!
Thank you for having me – and my pirate!

You are welcome to visit my website
join me on Facebook -
or come aboard the Sea Witch page

Giveaway time

Open worldwide!
The prize: Sea Witch, book 1.Hardback or e-copy, your choice
(but if you already got it then I am sure we can get you book 2 or 3 instead)
And Helen will also send a gift by mail to you

1. Ends August 4th
2. Open to everyone in the world
3. Just enter
or answer Helen's question
"Maybe your Blog readers could make some suggestions for who they would choose to play Jesamiah and Tiola?"

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Review: Bring it close - Helen Hollick

Series: Sea Witch Chronicles 3
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 386
Published: June 2011 (2009)

Jesamiah Acorne, Captain of the Sea Witch, has accepted a government granted amnesty, but old enemies do not forget the past. In particular Edward Teach - better known as Blackbeard - has a bone to pick with Acorne. Following an indiscretion with an old flame, Jesamiah finds his fiancée Tiola Oldstagh has gone to North Carolina to help with an imminent and difficult birth; the problem, that is where Blackbeard now resides. He must not discover that Tiola is Jesamiah s woman, she will have to hide her identity and her gift of Craft from the black-hearted pirate who has sold his soul to the devil. With Sea Witch damaged and himself wounded by Blackbeard, Jesamiah has to take stock of his situation at his old home in Virginia - but trouble follows him like a ship s wake and he is arrested for acts of piracy on the High Seas. Too much trouble has come too close! How is Jesamiah Acorne to clear his name and overturn a sentence of hanging, keep Tiola safe, put an end to Blackbeard and deal with being haunted by the ghost of his father? 

My thoughts:
Oh Jesamiah you really should learn to keep it in your pants. Though I still do not hate him, despise him a bit yes, but not hate since Hollick is just too good making her point.

Lots happened on the last book. Jesamiah came back alive from his spying trip, he learnt new truths about his family, his brother was not his brother at all. And now he is happy but bored since he is not a pirate any more. Of course then things goes to hell when Alicia, his brother's wife and former whore shows up and Jesamiah, oh you know. Tiola leaves and he goes after her. This book also deals with pirates again and the darker sides as the attention moves to Virginia and North Carolina where Blackbeard can be found. Jesamiah is going to deal with him once and for all.

Here we finally meet real pirates. Bloodthirsty men who rape, kill and torture without a second thought. They are real pirates and they should be feared. I am not saying Jesamiah is a choir boy, no he has done bad things but there is still good in him. Blackbeard on the other hand is a crazy psychopath and Hollick has made Jesamiah a part of his story.

This book is also a bit darker as many will suffer direct and indirect at the hands of pirates.

But there is still adventure to be had and we learn more about Tiola's craft, as she is a witch sent to guard against the dark. Poor Tethys is not around much, but instead we have the ghost of Jesamiah's father telling his story.

And do not worry about him being unfaithful, it is written in a way that it makes sense, and I am sure Tiola will kick some sense in him ;)

The book will promise you adventure, evil pirates, tragic love stories and witchcraft. So be prepared for a  wild pirate adventure.

This is not the end though. Book 4 will finally be published for the first time later this year and book 5 is on its way too. 

And that is the end of the first part of the blogtour on this blog. But stay tuned! Tomorrow I have Helen over and I will also be giving away book 1 and since it is an e-copy it will be open to all :D


Come say hi as I am over at another blog today with a guest review of Finding Destiny by Jean Johnson

The slave...Chanson, a privileged Arbran dyara, discovers an unexpected connection with the excitingly different Eduor, a bracingly sexy war-slave who desires his freedom.

The knight...The Arbran diplomat Sir Zeilas must turn the Guildaran people from former enemies into allies. But in the case of their intriguingly beautiful leader, perhaps something more intimate is in order.

The mage...Gabria never expected to become a Guildaran envoy to Aurul. But the most stunning surprise was what waited for her in His Majesty's winter palace-and why.

The pirate...Captain Ellett would do anything for his king-even hunt down the pirates plaguing the Jenodan Isles. But he never counted on the seductive powers of the pirate's captain-beautiful, tempestuous, and impossible to resist.

Monday 25 July 2011

Review: Pirate Code - Helen Hollick

Series: Sea Witch Chronicles 2
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 302
Published: June 2011

Ex pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne, is in trouble. Big Trouble. All he wants is to marry his girl, Tiola Oldstagh, and live contented aboard his ship, Sea Witch. But her husband refuses to grant a divorce unless Jesamiah agrees to retrieve some barrels of indigo and smuggle them out of the Spanish-held Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The Governor of Nassau wants Jesamiah to go there too, to help incite a rebellion, and Captain Henry Jennings wants him to find a lost spy. To cap it all, Commodore Vernon of the Royal Navy wants to expand his fleet and craves the Sea Witch for himself. As Jesamiah’s hopes for a quiet life tumble about him, the onset of war with Spain scuppers everyone’s plans. Hispaniola is governed by a tyrant who has promised to hang, draw and quarter Jesamiah if ever he sets foot there again.
My thoughts:
In a way this one could almost work as a stand alone novel, but yes I do encourage you to read book 1 first. Jesamiah, I think I have to make some points clear about him. Yes I did say he was a nice pirate, but not that nice. He still steals, and kills like he always have. He is just one of the nicer pirates when it all comes down to it.

Things did not turn out so good in book 1. Tiola is married to someone else and even though she and Jesamiah are back together they still have that fact looming over their heads. Adultery will get you flogged. But there are people who might be able to help, but to do that Jesamiah have to risk his life sailing to Spanish waters.

Jesamiah also made me loose respect for him in this book. He just leaves poor Tiola again but mostly the lack of respect comes from that he thinks it's ok to visit whores. Because it's not love or passion so why would it be wrong? Too bad Hollick is so damn good that she doesn't make me hate him for it. He is just a man of his age and he still loves his woman.

If you are expecting this to be some sort of happy book then you are wrong. Their love is not an easy one. Jesamiah will also suffer for other reasons in this book just like he did in book 1. Life is hard and a pirate could only wish for a quick hanging. Still, it is not a dark book. It's just gritty and real. And our pirate hero will do his best to stay alive as many want him dead and while he is contemplating the harsh life of a pirate.

There is adventure in abundance. This book has spies and secrets instead of pirating. And what else is got is magic. No not that much, Tiola has her craft but there is also something else. Tethys, mother of the ocean. The sea itself is alive and wants Jesamiah. Here and there through out the book she speaks with Tiola who tries to keep her man alive. And we also hear the wind and the land.

I am starting to think they can't be happy. He loves the sea and his ship. She does not want him to be a pirate. But it does make me look forward to book 3 and see what kind of mess they will create there.

I am taking part in the Sea Witch Blog Tour

Helen Hollick's webpage

Here on her blog you can read more about the books

And here you can see the rest of the blogtour. Do check it out as many have giveaways of the books

Sunday 24 July 2011

Review. Sea Witch - Helen Hollick

Series: Sea Witch Chronicles 1
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 316
Published: June 2011 SilverWood Books (2006)

The time: the golden age of piracy - 1716
The Place: the Pirate Round - from South Africa to the Islands of the Caribbean.

From the age of fifteen Jesamiah Acorne has been a pirate, with only two loves - his ship and his freedom. But his life is to change when he and his crew unsuccessfully attack a merchant ship off the coast of South Africa. He is to meet Tiola Oldstagh, an insignificant girl or so he thinks. Then he discovers what she really is; a healer and a midwife - and a white witch. Jesamiah and Tiola become lovers, despite her guardian's disapproval, but Stefan van Overstratten a Cape Town Dutchman, also wants Tiola as his wife, and Jesamiah's half brother Phillipe Mereno, is determined to seek revenge for a stolen ship and the insult of being cuckolded. When the call of the sea and an opportunity to commandeer a beautiful ship - Sea Witch - is put in Jesamiah's path, he must make a choice between his life as a pirate or his love for Tiola; he wants both - but Mereno and Von Overstratten want him dead.

My thoughts:
Pirates, oh yes, pirates. This book introduces us to Jesamiah who became a pirate when he was young, because he half-brother was a total ass (trust me, an ass, but then we also learn why during the book. In the end I even understood his madness).

Jesamiah does have standards, no rapes so that makes me like this pirate. Since pirates in the end were not very nice people. But he is a good man and when he falls in love he becomes an ever better man. Even if he loves the sea way too much.

The heroine of this book is Tiola, a white witch who escaped England so no one would find out what she is. A pirate is bad, but a witch is worse. She is really sweet and wants to help everyone from puppies to a certain wounded pirate. I am sure her witch powers will come back and bite her in the behind one day but for now I admire her strength. As for the love story, she knows they are meant to be from the moment she sees him.

This book is all about Jesamiah being out to sea, loosing ships, getting new ships and taking over other ships. He loves what he does. But after these two fall in love the book becomes more. Someone else wants her and he has power to see it happen. Then there is Jesamiah's evil brother too, oh and do not forget everyone else who do not like pirates (that is a lot of people.)

This book has a lot of adventure and romance and truth be told I have not read that many pirate novels. Ok sure harlequin ones but they are always so pretty while this one is real. Life is hard, especially for a pirate. 

A good historical fiction book with lot to offer. Hollick knows her history and there is also a list of words at the end for those of us who has no idea what anything on a ship is called.

And more will come tomorrow, and the day after. I sure hope for a happy ending.

Friday 22 July 2011

Review: Once Walked with Gods - James Barclay

Series: Elves 1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Published: July 14th 2011 Gollancz

The elves have fled to Calius, seeking to escape the overwhelming power of the demonic Garonin. A desperate last stand in their own dimension saved the race, at the cost of 100,000 elves lost to the Garonin. The elf who led that fight, Takaar, is blamed for the losses and has gone into hiding. Now the weakened elf race is tearing itself apart in civil war, human mercenaries have arrived in Calius and are ripping the continent apart. Only one elf can unite the elves. And only one elf believes in him. A young warrior named Auum sets out to bring back the shamed hero and save the elven race.

My thoughts:
This is the start to a new fantasy series set in a world the author knows well. He has written other books that take place 3000 year after this one and now he has gone back to look at the history of the elves. Or what I felt it to be, the massacre and destruction of them.

The elves have one big enemy, themselves. They are made up from different threads, let's just say races, and those will now start to fight between themselves and they especially go after the leaders. Their world is breaking apart. Oh those stupid elves, the whole point behind all of this is for some to get power and they use humans to do it. But we all know you can't trust humans. The elves should have known better. The whole book turns into one horrific slaughter. It is the the big bad Empire/Colonists/you name it who turns on the natives for their resources and slave labour and the elves have nothing to put up against the magic the humans wield. Just as other "explorers" had firepower.

But do not think all is lost. No the elves have one group of fighters who can take on anyone, they are just so few. And then there is Takar who is crazy and lives alone in the forest and 90% of the elves hate him after he left the elves on their home world to die. But he had to save the new world. I understand.

The thing that bothered me was that I had a hard time getting into this book. It felt confusing since everything happened so fast, it is truly action fantasy. Also the names, I had no idea who was a boy or a girl and it took quite some time to get it all in. Maybe in the end there was too much happening for me. I usually say I am not that into character driven novels but here I would have wanted more.

But even with those troubles I still got really fascinated because I want to know what will happen to this poor elven nation. I just want to go there and kick out those humans. I also wondered what happens in those later books since that would leave me clues of the state of the elves in this world.

It left me with a funny feeling. The book was not for me but still I crave more. The author was just that good. I really do want to know what happens next. He has a good voice and imagination, I will give him that. Because of that I would still recommend it to people who like they fantasy a bit more action filled.



Source; For review


Two stories :D One to make Melissa happy and another to please other Melissa

Thursday 21 July 2011

Interview and Giveaway: Amelia Grey - A Gentleman never Tells

Today I have Amelia Grey over for an interview. And at the end of this interview there is a giveaway of her latest book A Gentleman Never Tells.

Welcome to Mur-y-Castell!

Tell us something about yourself, so we can get to know you better…
AG: The first thing I would like you to know about me is that I’m a girly girl! I love pearls, lace, ruffles, candlelight, and soft music. I don’t want to get my hands dirty and I like my make-up on. But I’m a big fan of college football, and I always pick a team and watch the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and the World Series. I love to watch sports—I just don’t want to play sports. I love living on the beach but I don’t like to walk barefoot on the sand or getting in the water. I love to watch the waves roll in and listen to them crash on shore and one of my favorite things to do is watch the sun set over the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.  I enjoy going to movies, reading books, and traveling to places I’ve never been before. I would rather have a quiet dinner with my husband and a few friends than be at a loud, rocking party.  

Your latest release is called A Gentleman Never Tells; can you tell me what it is about?
AG: Viscount Brentwood is minding his own business, walking his mother’s Pomeranian in Hyde Park early one morning when a lovely and alluring young lady walks out of the mist and into his arms. Of course, this is all very much to his liking until they are caught, and he finds out that she is not only another man’s fiancé, she also happens to be the daughter of a powerful duke. And if that wasn’t enough trouble for the Viscount to be in the middle of, he’s lost his mother’s dog, too.

Lady Gabrielle is dependable, sensible, and obedient. That’s why she had accepted the practical, unemotional marriage her formidable father had arranged for her. That’s what those of her kind did—or so she had always believed until early one morning, when her defenses were down, she threw all of her upbringing away for the chance to spend a few passionate moments in the arms of a handsome stranger.

But kissing the stranger didn’t free Lady Gabrielle. She only thwarted the shackles of one arranged betrothal to immediately find herself stuck in yet another forced engagement. The strong-willed lady isn’t going to give up her freedom so easily. She has plans that her father and Lord Brentwood don’t know about and scandal and mishaps become the order of the day while Gabrielle and Brent scour London to find a notorious dog thief.

If this book became a movie, who would you see in the lead roles?
AG: Oh, I simply loved the man who played Charles, King Henry’s best friend in The Tudors. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the series. Henry Cavill play the part of Charles and he is good-looking and intense.  I also am growing quite fond of the deeply intense Francois Arnaud who plays Casare Borgia in The Borgias. As for the heroine, well all I can say is if a producer managed to get one of these two men to be the hero—I’d pay to be the heroine!

Could you tell me a little about some of other books you have written?
AG: All nine of my books have been set during the Regency Period. To me there is something extremely sexy about a powerful, titled young gentleman. I like to set my books in London and I like to get my hero and heroine in situations that are difficult to get out of. I try to always add a little mystery of some kind that the hero and heroine solve together. I never let the mystery take away from or overshadow the romance. I keep the focus of my books centered on the romance.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine from your books?
AG: This is an impossible question to answer because I LOVE all my heroes. If I don’t love my heroes I can’t convince my readers to love them. So if I start a book with a hero I can’t get into or I’m just not falling in love with him, I throw him out and start over. I want to love my heroes. And I’m always the heroine in all my books. I love picturing myself with these fabulously strong men I create.

Are you writing on something at the moment?
AG: I’ve just finished A Gentleman Says “I Do” and I’m now working on A Gentleman Surrenders (title subject to change). The heroes in these two books are twins and I’ve had great fun with them. They look alike but have different personality traits.

Any advice for aspiring writers?
AG: Never give up. Some writers are blessed and they sell their first finished book. I wasn’t that lucky. But if I had given up with that first, second, or third rejection I would have never been published. If you really want to be published you must keep trying even when it seems an impossible dream to reach.


2 copies of A Gentleman Never tells/2 winners
1. Open to US and Canada
2. Ends July 28th
3. Just enter or join in and ask a question, comment on the interview or tell me if you are a dog or cat person ;)

Have fun!


A stolen kiss from a stranger…
As if from a dream, Lady Gabrielle walks from the mist and into Viscount Brentwood’s arms. Within moments, he’s embroiled in more scandal than he ever thought possible…

Can sink even a perfect gentleman…
Beautiful, clever, and courageous, Lady Gabrielle needs Brent’s help to get out of a seriously bad situation. But the more she gets to know him, the worse she feels about ruining his life…

Enter the unforgettable world of Amelia Grey’s sparkling Regency London, where a single encounter may have devastating consequences for a gentleman and a lady… 

Winner of the Booksellers Best Award and the Romantic Times Award for Love and Laughter, Amelia Grey’s books have sold in Europe, Russia and China. Married for over thirty-five years to her high school sweetheart, she has lived in Alabama, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and now calls Panama City Beach, Florida, home. For more information please visit or email her at

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Review: Viper Moon - Lee Roland

Series: Earth Witches 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy romance
Pages: 332
Published: July 5th 2011Signet

Cassandra Archer is the Huntress. She has faithfully served the Earth Mother for years, rescuing kidnapped children from monsters-both human and supernatural-dwelling in the ruins of the Barrows District. But when two children are kidnapped under similar circumstances, all clues point to a cataclysmic event on the next dark moon. Now Cass must race against the clock and prevent a sacrifice that could destroy the entire town.

My thoughts:
It says UF romance on the side and it fits. Sure it is a kick-ass urban fantasy but it does have a bit more romance than other books, only a bit though. And another thing that surprised me was that this was a stand alone novel. The book ends, with a HEA none the less. Of course that does not mean it is the end. Nope evil is still around but it seems that the next book will have a new heroine.

But this book is about Cassandra. When she was 18 the  Earth Mother came to her and said she was her huntress and would rescue kids. That is now what she does. To her help she has an earth mother priestess, Abby who has saved her broken body more than once. She also has three pets, two snakes and a cat. Why are they important? Well, they can kick ass and take numbers too.

The Earth Mother is a pagan demi-god who cares for the Earth and her children. Because in this city it is needed. There is The Darkness that has engulfed a part of the city and reigns there. There are monsters in the sewers and bad humans on the streets. What is amazing about this world is that people forget about that part of the city. They think a bog starts there and even people living there pretends there are no monsters, but they still know. You can't even see the place on maps.

And Cass, do not even get me started about how kick-ass she is. She is violent and she will not hesitate pulling the trigger or cracking a rib on a bad guy. She does everything is takes to save kids. She felt raw and real. A total bad-ass. Oh and I loved her relationship with her pets, snakes scare me to death but her pets were just wonderful and friendly.

The romance then, well there is this cop named Flynn who needs her to rescue his sister who has gone to the Barrows. And things will heat up. And then there is Michael, yes, I know, but the mysterious bad/good guy is just so irresistible. He is yummy.

When the book ended I felt sad, I am not used to getting results so quickly and I really liked this heroine. But I am sure the next one will carry the torch and kick more ass in the Barrows.

A good start to an urban fantasy series. It has action, it has romance and a new exciting world. I'd recommend it. Hard to put down too.



source. for review

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Review: Hunted by The Others - Jess Haines

Series: H & W Investigations 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 337
Published: 2010 Zebra

Shiarra Waynest's detective work was dangerous enough when her client base was strictly mortal. But ailing finances have forced her to accept a lucrative case that could save her firm - if it doesn't kill her first. Shiarra has signed on to work for a high-level mage to recover an ancient artifact owned by one of New York's most powerful vampires. As soon as Shiarra meets sexy, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought. With a clandestine anti-Other group trying to recruit her, and magi being eliminated, Shiarra needs back-up and enlists her ex-boyfriend - a werewolf whose non-furry form is disarmingly appealing - and a nerdy mage with surprising talents. But it may not be enough. In a city where the undead roam, magic rules, and even the Others aren't always what they seem, Shiarra has just become the secret weapon in a battle between good and evil - whether she likes it or not.

My thoughts:
I liked this world and Shiarra because she was actually scared and careful around Others. Not racist, just very careful. And that makes sense, because of vampires, werewolves and mages suddenly came out then yes I would be scared too. And perhaps not mix with them when they can tear my head off.

Shiarra is a PI who takes a case she does not want to take. But somebody has to pay the bills. She knows better than to mix with mages and vampires. She is tough, but with a good head on her shoulder and she knows this case will likely kill her. And I do like that and that she tries everything to get out of a bad situation. She is a worthy kick-ass woman.

The story is about her trying to get an artifact, staying away from mean vampire Royce and just generally staying alive and kicking some ass later on. Since the person holding the artefact does not want to give it up.

The men then. She has an ex who turned out to be a werewolf so Chaz is in the doghouse now so to speak. Then there is charismatic and scary Alec Royce but evil vampires are so not for her, well we will see about that. The thing is that every sane person knows not to get involved with Others because they make you sign a contract. This is to protect humans but in that end that contract is way scarier cos in case of a violent death they can't be prosecuted. 

I liked Shirra and her PI partner Sara, I liked Arnold who shows up later and I sure liked Royce. The only one I am a bit on the fence about is Chaz. Nothing wrong with him but it was mostly because of the crowd of posers he was with.

At the end the scariest thing in this book was the White Hats, creepy racists peeps scare the hell out of me. 

A good start to a new series. There is plenty of action and as for the romance, you know I can't tell you. A good book that I recommend. There is also this fun vibe over the book that I enjoyed.



Source: For review

Monday 18 July 2011

Review: A Gentleman never tells - Amelia Grey

Series: The Rogues’ Dynasty #4
Genre: Historical romance
Pages: 384
Published: July 1st 2011 Sourcebooks Casablanca

As if from a dream, Lady Gabrielle walked from the mist and into Viscount Brentwood's arms. Within moments, he's embroiled in more scandal than he ever thought possible. Beautiful, clever, and courageous, Lady Gabrielle needs Brent's help to get out of a seriously bad situation. But the more she gets to know him, the worse she feels about ruining his life...

My thoughts:
The information I found stated that this was book 4, when I actually thought it was the start to a new series. The previous books are about 3 cousins finding love while this one is set at the same time, but all new characters.  But they are connected and this via the man who fathered Brent's brothers and that man was also in the previous books as a side character. But you do not need to have read those previous ones at all since this for me feels like a new start.

But enough with that now. In this book Viscount Brentwood is walking his mother's dog Prissy when a woman comes up to him and kisses him. And you all know what that means, scandal! And a broken engagement for her, but she did not count on him doing the honourable thing. So she finds herself engaged again and she will try anything to get out of it.

I do like Amelia Grey's books because there is just something fun over them. And here that is all the things Gabrielle does when she tries to get out of this new engagement. There will be a few scandals before she is done. Her old fiancé, oh do not feel sorry for him, I personally thought he was an ass. Gabrielle also had more than one reason to break up with him. She is a very brave woman to cause scandal like that so yes of of course I liked her. As for her new man, Brent, he never knew what was coming but he did fall for her. Even if he fell in lust first. He kept up with her crazy schemes and who would not love a man who searches day and night for his lost dog.

And the side characters are great as always. Gabrielle has an aunt who says what she wants to say and again we meet Lord Snellingly. This poor lord from previous books who writes the worst poetry in the world.

I enjoyed this book and did not want to put it down before I knew what would happen. Silly I know, since obviously they would get a HEA. But it was just so witty and charming.

Amusing and utterly adorable.


Friday 15 July 2011

Interview and Contest: Freya North with Pillow Talk

Today I welcome Freya North to my blog. Her new book Pillow Talk is out now from Sourcebooks. And at the end of this interview you can win a copy.

Welcome to Mur-y-Castell!

1. Tell us something about yourself, so we can get to know you better…

I am 43 - but frequently I catch my children (Felix 10, Georgia 8) giving me a look that says "Oh Mummy, do grow up!".  I am a single mother and I live on a small farm with the children and our dog, Twig (an English Pointer) in a county just outside London.  We have fields and woods and a stream and 15 horses graze the land (just the one is mine - Nathan!).  I've ridden horses since I was a child and am passionate about Parelli Natural Horsemanship.  I am 5'2", I take pottery classes each week.  I'm a chatterbox...  I make a knock-em-dead lemon drizzle cake.

2. Could you tell me about your newest book, Pillow Talk?

Pillow Talk won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2007.  It's about giving first love a second chance - and the hero and heroine, who loved each other from afar when they were school kids, come across each other by chance years later.  The novel is set partly in the jewellery quarter in London (Petra is a jeweller) and partly in a boys boarding school in the North Yorkshire countryside (Arlo is the music teacher).  It's also about feeling safe enough to finally share your fears - and to ultimately bury any skeletons you have lurking in your closet.  All in all, it's an unashamedly romantic love story - and raunchy too!

3. I read that you love research. What kind did you do for this book?

I read a tiny news piece in the paper about a teenager waking up in her nightgown along the arm of a crane having sleepwalked there - thus began by fascination with sleepwalking which became one of the themes for PILLOW TALK.  Similarly, after a robbery at my home, in which I lost all my jewellery (I didn't have much - but what I did have was of great emotional value) when I started to replace items with the insurance money, I found a pair of earrings with tanzanite - and started to read up on this beautiful gemstone, which is almost a character in itself in Pillow Talk.  I interviewed many sleepwalkers and sleep specialists - and I spent a lot of time at the Tanzanite Foundation which ensures the route to market for this rare and beautiful stone is ethical.

4. Who would you picture playing the leading roles if this book was turned into a movie?

I asked my facebook fans this very question - as the characters are so distinct in my mind's eye I just couldn't ascribe actors to them!  Ultimately, Rufus Sewell was to be Arlo - and Emily Mortimer was to be Petra.

5. Could you tell me about a little about all the other books you have written?

I'm afraid that as there are 11 of them and as I'm busy writing my 12th I'll have to direct you to my website where each and every book is featured!  My first, SALLY was about a primary school teacher who wants to reinvent herself as a femme fatal, CHLOE featured a young woman who travels the four countries of the UK during the four seasons of one year and meets a different chap in each place, POLLY does a teachers' exchange with a school in Vermont - and swaps more than just her job.  CAT is trying to heal from a broken heart and further her career as a sports journalist so she follows the Tour de France, FEN has to decide between two men: one rich, one poor, one her age, one 20 years older, one living in the town, one in the country.  PIP is a clown doctor who thinks she can get by just fine without men or money.  LOVE RULES looked at whether you listen to your head, your heart or your best friend when it comes to love and lust, HOME TRUTHS was about mothers, daughters, lovers, liars.  Then came PILLOW TALK.  Then SECRETS (which Source books will be publishing next).  CHANCES has just been published to great acclaim in the UK and RUMOURS is underway for next Spring.  Phew!  Can I take a sabbatical?!

6. Are you working on something new and exciting at the moment?

Currently, I am writing my 12th novel Rumours - it is set in a small village in the county in which I live.  It centres around the sale of a wonderful mansion - and how this affects so many people in the village.  So I've been nosing around some magnificent country houses all in the name of research! On the whole, though, my work is driven by the characters themselves.  I believe you can have the most intimate plot - but if the characters aren't fleshed out, then the reader won't really care what happens!   Therefore, Rumours has a cast list of eccentric, entertaining characters - each of them could have their own novel!  The heroine is called Stella, the hero is called Xander and the book will be published in the UK next Spring.

7. Any advice for aspiring writers?

Write because you have a tale you NEED to tell, not because you fancy 'being a writer'.  It can be a lonely, frustrating and isolating job.  Don't give up - it can be very demoralizing when the rejections come in.  Have a look on my website - there's a whole section on advice - practical steps to have your work notices as well as hints for writing too.


1 copy of Pillow Talk

1. Open to US and Canada
2. Ends July 21st
3. Just enter or if you wanna make it more fun;
-  comment on the interview, on the books she has written
- or just say anything :)

By day, Petra Flint is a talented jeweler working in a lively London studio. By night, she's a sleepwalker troubled by a past she can't put to bed and a present that leaves her clinging to an unsuitable boyfriend. Arlo Savidge was once a budding heartthrob musician. Then tragedy struck and he chose to forsake stardom and all future affairs of the heart for a quiet life in the countryside as a music teacher.

Petra and Arlo haven't seen each other since they were teenagers-when their feelings ran deep but the timing wasn't right. Now, seventeen years later, they run into each other once more. Might first love get a second chance-or will what keeps them up at night keep them apart forever?


My flash fiction entry for this week

Thursday 14 July 2011

Review: Sword of Fire and Sea - Erin Hoffman

Series: The Chaos Knight 1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 277
Published: June 21st 2011 PYR

Three generations ago Captain Vidarian Rulorat's great-grandfather married a fire priestess. For love, he unwittingly doomed his family to generations of a rare genetic disease that follows families who cross elemental boundaries. Now Vidarian, the last surviving member of the Rulorat family, struggles to uphold his family legacy, and finds himself chained to a task as a result of the bride price his great-grandfather paid. The priestess Endera has called upon Vidarian to fulfill his family's obligation by transporting a young fire priestess named Ariadel through dangerous pirate-controlled territory. A dangerous journey is made more so by their pursuers: rogue telepathic magic-users called the Vkortha who will stop at nothing to recover Ariadel. Together, Vidarian and Ariadel will navigate more than treacherous waters: A world that has been slowly losing its magic for generations, the indifference of their elemental goddesses, gryphons returning to the world, and their own labyrinthine family legacies. Vidarian finds himself at the intersection not only of the world's most volatile elements, but of colliding universes, and the ancient and alien powers that lurk between them.

My thoughts:
There is a lot going on in this book and it was different than other fantasy books in a way. Because a lot happened, sure at times I felt like things happened to quickly, but then that might just be because I am used to it taken 4 books just to start a journey.

To break things done. Vidarian is a ship captain who escorts Ariadel to her destination but things go wrong at once. So many will fight against them at the end, or by their side. The imperial forces, pirates, the Priestesses, gryphons and Goddesses. This is a world that is slowly loosing its magic and Vidarian and Ariadel stands in the middle of that. There is a prophecy and decisions to be made.

Sure at times I did not know how I felt about the book. Things did move forward fast so the fights were not long, but why should this be bad? New is good. Though it also felt a bit hard to get to know the characters, still at the end I liked the book and it had me curious about the next one.

The world was interesting. The elements  are used in magic and 2000 years ago something big happened and that shaped the world today. Other things are that people can't seem to marry those who are of another element because then they will get a disease. Viridian is fire and water because of that and, oh I can't say.

The end, well there actually was an ending to their journey and the goal accomplished. I was surprised since this is a series but then because of the ending in question so much more will happen. It was an ending that gave birth to more.

And I shall not forget the romance, yes something is building between the main characters.

The book got better and better and ended with a finale that sure shook things up. I am very intrigued to where she will take the story next. There are so many possibilities. And I liked it.

Surprised me in the end, in a good way :)

I like it


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