Monthly Archives: December 2011

Shakespeare’s Landlord

This is a review of “Shakespeare’s Landlord” by Charlaine Harris. It is the first novel in the Lily Bard Series.

Lily Bard is quiet and mysterious. She has moved to the small town of Shakespeare to escape a tortured past. She works as a cleaning lady, and likes to work out in her spare time. She wants to keep to herself, and lives her life accordingly.

She witnesses some suspicious activity late at night, and when it is discovered that the Landlord of her apartment is dead, she realises that she has information that the police want. But will telling them put an unwanted spotlight on her?

As the cleaning lady of her small town, she uses her knowledge acquired from her job to solve this murder mystery.

Lily has a wry and dry sense of humour that is very entertaining. This book is quite short, but it is a great series to read. Available as a single novel and in an Omnibus Edition, lovers of Charlaine Harris will thoroughly enjoy this series.

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The Valley of Horses

This is a review of the book “The Valley of Horses” it is the 2nd novel of Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children Series. It follows on from “The Clan of the Cave Bear“.

This book begins where the last novel ended. Ayla has just been exiled from the Neanderthal clan, leaving her small son behind. She begins her search for her own people, the Cro Magnons, those the Neanderthals call “The Others”.

In a parallel narrative, the novel follows the adventures of Jondalar (Cro Magnon Male of the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii) and his half brother Thonolan. Jondalar is accompanying his brother on his traditional Rite of Passage called the Great Journey.

Ayla travels on alone, searching for “The Others”. As winter approaches, she decides to settle down in a valley, to shelter for the winter. She is very lonely, and after killing its mother for food, she decides to befriend and take in a small filly whom she names Whinny. While in the valley she also discovers and raises a Cave Lion cub, whom she names Baby.

Jondalar and Thonolan make a home for themselves with some River People, Thonolan even mating a local woman and getting her pregnant. But when Thonolan’s mate dies during childbirth, he cannot bear to stay, and so they continue on to the Mamutoi People, The Mammoth Hunters.

As Jondalar and Thonolan journey into the valley where Ayla resides, they stumble into a Cave Lion’s den. Fortunately, the lioness is the mate of Baby, and Ayla is able to save Jondalar, however Thonolan is killed. Ayla utilizes the skills she had learned in her time as a clan Medicine Woman and nurses Jondalar back to health.

Jondalar and Ayla attempt to communicate with one another. Soon they find themselves falling in love. They decide to leave the valley at the end of the novel to seek out other people.

An interesting novel to read. The reader learns more about the people (especially the Cro Magnons) of Prehistoric Times.

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The Clan of the Cave Bear

This is a review of Jean M. Auel’s novel “The Clan of the Cave Bear”, it is the first novel in the Earth’s Children Series.

As a student of Archaeology, I loved this book. I know that this novel is considered to be a cult classic, but before this year, I’d never read them or even heard of them!

This book is set in Prehistoric times. Ayla is a Cro-Magnon human. As a small child, a devastating earthquake leaves her without parents and family. She wanders aimlessly, narrowly escaping being eaten by a cave lion. She is found by a group of Neanderthals and taken in by their kind-hearted medicine woman Iza.

Ayla is somewhat shunned because she is different. Her mind works differently, and she prefers to communicate vocally, while the Neanderthal Clan prefer to communicate mostly in silence, with hand signals. She finds it hard to fit in, and struggles with the submissiveness of clan life as woman.

Broud, son of the clan’s leader Brun, despises Ayla, he is cruel to her and forces her to do many things against her will. He delights in her misery. Soon she finds herself to be pregnant by Broud. She bears her son Durc with a lot of difficulty. Ayla finds herself intrigued with the world of the clan man. She teaches herself to hunt.

She learns to hunt efficiently with a sling and stones, and does so in secret. Soon her secret is uncovered and she finds herself in a huge amount of trouble, banished with her son, she is only allowed back into the clan of she can survive for an amount of time on her own.

An intriguing and touching, thought-provoking book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

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Guilty Pleasures

This is a review of “Guilty Pleasures” the first novel in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter Series.

Anita Blake is not your average girl. Sure she’s a petite Brunette, but there’s more to her than that. She’s a Vampire Hunter, The Executioner, a Necromancer and a Preternatural Expert.

Working in an Animation Firm (raising zombies for people, you know, to straighten out wills, say goodbye, that kind of thing) and on retainer as a Preternatural Expert for the Police, Anita Blake is a busy girl.

Somewhat tricked into helping those she despises, Anita helps the local undead (Vampires) uncover a serial murderer. And it’s not just any murderer, this killer has been targeting vampires. Which is a pretty scary thought.

Aided by the sexy undead Jean-Claude, the attractive human Phillip and the cold but deadly accurate assassin Edward, Anita uncovers the killer and dispatches him neatly and efficiently.

This book is a little heavy for the first in a series, but is worth reading, especially to get through to the rest of the novels! Read if you like gore and hardcore with your supernatural fiction.

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No Rest For The Wicked

This is a review of “No Rest For The Wicked”, the 2nd novel in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark Series. It follows on from “A Hunger Like No Other“.

Kaderin The Cold Hearted is a Valkyrie who is well…cold hearted. Losing her sisters on a battlefield many, many years ago, to the evil Vampire Horde, has left her bereft of any emotions. What she calls a blessing, others call a curse. Until she meets Sebastian Wroth. A lone vampire who lives in an old decrepit castle, and who longs to die.

Sebastian Wroth never wanted to become a vampire. He loathes what he is. Dead inside, and constantly craving blood. He refuses to “drink directly from the source” and instead prolongs his miserable existence by buying blood from his local butcher. Each day he ponders death, until he meets Kaderin The Cold Hearted. And his heart begins to beat again…

Sebastian, intrigued and enthralled by the beautiful Kaderin, vows to find her and make her his, no matter what the cost. Kaderin, confused by her emotions slowly returning to her, vows that she will never belong to a vampire, a species she abhors. The two find themselves competing in the same centuries-old paranormal competition “The Hie” for a prize that could change the way history itself has unfolded.

An entertaining novel, with supernatural creatures, steamy sex scenes and love in the face of adversity. Worth a read.

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A Bone To Pick

This is a review of the novel “A Bone To Pick”, the 2nd novel in Charlaine Harris’ Aurora Teagarden Series. It follows on from “Real Murders“.

Aurora has not had a great couple of weeks, unmarried herself, she must attend the wedding of her mother (her second wedding) and of her ex-lover Arthur and his new girlfriend Lynn. To Aurora’s utter dismay, Lynn is also visibly pregnant. To top things off, Aurora must next attend a funeral of a friend and fellow member of the now disbanded club Real Murders, Jane Engle.

Completely to Aurora’s surprise, Jane has left everything to her. Her sizable bank account and her house. This house however, comes with a rather unpleasant surprise. Aurora quickly realises that Jane has left her with another mystery to solve. And it’s not just any old mystery. It’s a murder mystery.

And to make matters worse, Aurora suspects that the culprit may very well be any one of her new neighbours of her newly acquired house.

Entertaining and quite true-to-life, the second book in the Aurora Teagarden Series is just as good as the first.

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A Hunger Like No Other

This is a review of “A Hunger Like No Other” it is the 1st book in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark Series. It continues on from the novella “The Warlord Wants Forever“.

I was dubious about this book at first. I am a big lover of supernatural fiction, so my partner quickly snapped this series up for me to read. Alas, this series is just as much romance as it is supernatural. I am not a huge fan of the romance genre. The ‘love scenes’ become a bit irksome for me after a while. But I was pleasantly surprised by this novel.

The ‘love scenes’ were raunchy and not run-of-the-mill and the background story actually had some substance to it.

Lachlain is a Lykae (werewolf) Clan Leader who, for many hundreds of years, has been imprisoned by his immortal enemy, the Vampire Horde. After escaping torture he catches the scent of his eternal mate, whom he has waited for for many long years, and must find her. He is somewhat disgusted to find that his long awaited mate is a Vampire hybrid.

Emmaline Troy is half Vampire, half Valkyrie, and she’s not very good at being either. Headed out into the big bad world, she is trying to find herself. Unfortunately for Emma, Lachlain finds her first. Out of touch with the modern world, Lachlain is possessive to the extreme and very old fashioned. He kidnaps Emmaline, disgusted by her vampiric-ness but drawn to her as any Lykae is inevitably drawn to his imprinted mate.

Can Emmaline and Lachlain come to an agreement that is agreeable to the both of them? Or will the enmity that surrounds their two species come between them?

Full of raunchy scenes, a few laughs and odds to be beaten, this novel is actually quite a delightful read!

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Real Murders

This is a review of “Real Murders”, the first novel in Charlaine Harris’ Aurora Teagarden Series.

Aurora Teagarden is a librarian. She loves to read about famous and unsolved murders, and attends a Murder Club each week: Real Murders. It is her week to present on a famous murder, so she arrives early to prepare, and finds a real dead body. A fellow member of Real Murders is dead, and her death strongly resembles that of a murder that occurred long ago. Is it a mere coincidence?

A number of other murders begin to be carried out all over town, each bearing an eerie similarity to a famous murder case. Aurora vows to solve this mystery and discover who is behind these gruesome activities before anyone else gets hurt.

Full of humour, a bit of romance, danger and descriptions of day-to-day Southern life, this twisted murder mystery is an entertaining read.

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Dead Until Dark

This is a review of “Dead Until Dark”, the 1st novel in Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries, or as they are now known: The Sookie Stackhouse Series or The Trueblood Series.

For those who watch, or have seen the tv show Trueblood, these novels are the inspiration.

This first novel progresses much the same way that the first season does. Sookie is a waitress in the small Southern town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. But Sookie is different. Sookie can hear other people’s thoughts. And it’s not something she would ever wish upon anyone else. She’s never met a vampire, but has been longing to ever since “they’ve come out of the coffin” a couple of years back.

Her wish soon comes true, as the handsome and mysterious, Civil War Veteran Vampire Bill (yes the vampire’s name is Bill, not Basil or Langford) wanders into Merlotte’s Bar & Grill late one evening. Sookie and Bill hit it off (she saves his life, he saves hers) and pretty soon Sookie is drawn deeper into the world of vampires.

But girls in Bon Temps are showing up dead. And not just regular dead either. Strangled, naked and with fang marks kind of dead. And when tragedy strikes close to home for Sookie, she decides to take matters into her own hands (or brain) and uses her ability to try and solve this murder mystery.

An awesome first novel to begin a truly gripping series. I highly recommend this book and the ones that follow, and indeed the tv show, which is most probably my favorite show of all time! Charlaine Harris is a gifted writer with a knack for making you want to keep turning those pages.

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Heart’s Blood

This is a review of “Heart’s Blood” by Juliet Marillier. This story is based on the gothic fairytale ‘Beauty & The Beast’.

The tale begins with Caitrin, a young woman on the run from the horrors of her untold past. As the book unfolds, snatches of her story are revealed. Searching for refuge from those in pursuit of her, Caitrin finds herself in a strange and remote village. Overlooking the village is a vast stone fortress. The chieftain who dwells within is badly in need of a scribe, and it just so happens that Caitrin is a master of scribing. She journeys to the fortress to enquire about the job.

Almost from the second she arrives, Caitrin notices that this fortress is a strange place, where odd folk dwell. She is not entirely comfortable with her new surroundings, but anything is better than what she has left behind. Slowly she begins to work on the task she has been set by the chieftain Anluan.

As she completes her task, she gets to know Anluan, and finds herself to be intrigued by him and his ancestors. The fortress is full of sounds and shadows, and mysterious mirrors that do not reflect the world around them, but something else entirely.

Invasion threatens the fortress, and Anluan sends Caitrin away. She is forced to go back to the place she came from, and must confront her own demons of the past. But a link has formed between Caitrin and Anluan that cannot be shaken off easily…

A wonderful book, from another of my favourite fantasy authors. There will be plenty more Marillier reviews on the way!

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