Archive | November, 2009

Going To Vienna

29 Nov

pic: Wikipedia Commons

The Boyfriend and I are going to Vienna tomorrow. We’ll be visiting friends and be back late Tuesday night.

Now we’re off to go to a concert. A friend is playing in a town nearby.

Have a good time.

PS: I read my book for this month’s Re-Read Challenge. Let’s see if I can find the time to write the comment in time.

Kathryne Kennedy – “Enchanting the Beast”

28 Nov


GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: 2009

SERIES: “Relics of Merlin” series, #3

WHY THIS NOVEL: I noticed it for the cover, then the blurb suggested it was an older woman/younger man romance + it seemed Gothic.

Grimspell castle. With its dark, imposing stone walls, it certainly looked haunted. As a ghost-hunter, Lady Philomena was accustomed to restless spirits. But she found the dark, imposing nature of the castle’s owner far more haunting than any specter. London Society might not approve of shape-shifters such as Sir Nicodemus Wulfson, but firmly-on-the-shelf Philomena rather enjoyed the young baronet’s sudden interest in sniffing around her skirts. She’d even consider giving in to him altogether if not for a murderer on the loose–a beast that might just be Nico himself.

I only noticed after I’d ordered Enchanting the Beast that it’s actually part of a series and book #3 at that. But as far as I can tell, it didn’t matter that I missed the first two novels in this series, at least when judged by my enjoyment of this novel: I liked Enchanting the Beast and Kennedy’s voice. So much that I’m going to buy the other novels in this series and will look if Kennedy published more novels.

Enchanting the Beast does indeed feature an older woman/younger man romance: Philomena is 40, Nicodemus is 27. It’s also set in a Victorian England were magic still exists. Philomena is a ghost hunter and Nicodemus is a shape-shifter. (I just love the characters’ names.)

Shape-shifters are immune to magic and Nicodemus, Nico for short, is skeptical about Philomena’s (Phil) ability to communicate with ghosts. But nevertheless, he hires her to help his brother, Royden, who sees and is haunted by ghosts. Royden visibly suffers and his health deteriorates more and more. Something must be done.

What Nico isn’t skeptical about is his attraction to Philomena. He knows he wants her and even Philomena’s repeated rebuffs (the age difference) don’t deter him. Their romance was a delight to read, especially because Nico honors Philomena’s wishes to stay a gentleman even though his attraction to her grows and grows. I thought that refreshing because, after all, he’s a shape-shifter and in paranormal romances this usually means the beast takes over when it’s attracted to a woman. And even though Nico is as sensitive as a block of wood re ghosts (= he can’t see/feel them), after he believes in Philomena’s ability, he’s there to support her. He’s actually so attuned to Philomena, he knows when a ghost is around.

I liked Philomena. She was reasonable and logical, and she does indeed see and can communicate with ghosts. But because she can’t command them to appear or talk to her, she doesn’t mind faking it when necessary:

It appeared the late Lord Stanhope had chosen not to linger in the physical world.
Which didn’t make one whit of difference to Phil. Lady Stanhope had paid her for some peace of mind, and she would give it to her regardless. (2)

The ghost were sufficiently Gothic and although I had an idea about how the mystery would resolve, the denouement came with a twist to it. There were only two things that I thought needed more explanation:

1) Why did Nico’s brother remain at the castle even after Philomena arrived? She knows that ghosts (usually) are bound to a place and Royden became very ill because of their haunting. Wouldn’t she have thought of sending him away (sooner)?
2) [Spoiler] [highlight to read] Why did the ghosts scare Royden when they actually wanted his help? Was he that easily scared? [/Spoiler]

But these were small niggles and overall, I enjoyed reading Enchanting the Beast a lot.

Verdict: I liked it. (4/5)

Elysa Hendricks – “The Sword and the Pen”

25 Nov


GENRE: Romance / Fantasy
PUBLISHED: Love Spell

WHY THIS NOVEL: I thought the premise interesting + I like to read about characters who are writers.

It was time. After penning ten popular sword-and-sorcery novels, Brandon Alexander Davis was ready to move on. Ready to stop hiding in his fictional world. Ready to start living a real life. There was just one problem: as he plotted the noble death of Serilda D’Lar, his fictional creation appeared in his study, complete with sword, skimpy leather outfit, indomitable will–and a quest. Was she nothing more than a crazy fan, or had Brandon finally cracked? This warrior woman whom he knew so well, so strong yet vulnerable, was both fantasy and reality. She was an invitation to rediscover all he once knew–that life is an incredible, magical journey and, for love, any man can be a hero.

I might have noticed this novel for its premise but I also admit that I thought “I hope it works.” I mean, a fictional character becoming real? The make-believe could be wobbly, especially because I was afraid it might be told “too funny” which doesn’t always work for me.

I needn’t have worried. First, I liked Elysa Hendricks voice. The writing is very smooth and flows easily. Second, Serilda, the fictional character becoming real, tells her story in her own voice. Her parts are written in first person (the first part is also titled “Serilda”). It works well for the story and I liked Seri’s voice (the name Brandon uses for her in his reality) a lot.

Seri catches on to what has happened quickly. She knows she’s in a different world and thinks Brandon a wizard who conjured her into his world. She also realizes that in her world she doesn’t exactly have free will, that she and all her friends and people she knows and meets there are just puppets.

Brandon thinks Seri a lunatic fan. The only thing that gives him pause is that she seems to know things about the world he created in his books only he, the author, could know. Could there be something to her claim to be his fictional character?

“Will you let me help you?” he [Brandon] asked.
The wizard’s offer touched me, and for a moment his disbelief in who I was made me doubt myself. Part of me wanted to cling to my identity, fictional though it might be; another part wanted to give it up, to become a real woman in this man’s strange and alien world. But, no.
I shock my head. It was my bad luck to have been created by a powerful yet inept wizard. “I can’t lie to myself. For you to help me–if that’s what you intend–you have to believe.” (41/42)

If I had one problem with the story, it was that I thought Seri and Brandon knew awfully fast that they were in love. But then, it needed to happen fast because there is a second part, titled “Brandon,” in which Brandon is thrown into Serilda’s world. (This structure reminded me a bit of Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor.) Now Brandon tells his parts in first person and while he knows what happened, Serilda doesn’t have any memories (or so it seems for quite some time). Note also that in her world, she’s mostly referred to as Serilda.

In the last finished version of Brandon’s novel about Serilda, Serilda dies at the end. When Brandon realized that what Seri told him was true, he tried to write a new (yet another) version of the ending but he doesn’t know how far he got before he lost consciousness and woke up in Serilda’s world. In the fictional world, people think Brandon a king and warrior and so he tries all he can to save Serilda, using sword and pen. But it looks like no matter what Brandon tries, the story seems to have its own mind.

I liked Seri/Serilda and Brandon, and especially Seri’s voice, but what compelled me to read on the most was the look at reality and fiction in this story, the metafictional layer of the novel if you want. A fictional character who’s a writer/author adds something special to a story, IMO – the distance to the real author seems to be less. In The Sword and the Pen, the premise of the story – a fictional character becoming real – enhances this because it takes what authors often say about their characters and story – that characters have their own ideas about how a story should go or they talk to the author and so on – and turns it into the story. I enjoyed this a lot.

The novel concludes with a third part, titled “Seri and Brandon.” It provides a very satisfying and fitting ending to the story and also gives a wonderful answer to the question about the power of love.

And I have to admit, at one time I was even a bit teary-eyed.

Verdict: I liked The Sword and the Pen. (4/5)

November, 23, 2009

23 Nov

[Edit 2: corrected book title]

I received a coupon yesterday (buy for 25€, get 5€ off). Reason: they worried why I didn’t buy anything from them in the last two months… I was happy to help them worry less. 😀

Yesterday, I ordered:

  • Kelley Armstrong – Dime Store Magic
    Let’s see what the witches are up to.
  • Ally Blake – Getting Red-Hot with the Rogue
    I liked the ones I read so far.
  • Helen Brooks – The Boss’s Inexperienced Secretary
    Her last novels didn’t work as well as some of the ones I read before. Let’s see what I’ll think about this one.
  • Kristin Hardy – A Fortune Wedding
    One of my favorite comfort reads authors. Can’t believe I missed this. It was published in June. I hope I’ll still be able to get it.
  • Deborah Smith – A Place to Call Home
    I always wanted to read this because it’s friends-to-lovers and when I friend recently mentioned that she liked it a lot, I just had to have it.

And I tried my luck with this book again:

Meljean Brook – Demon Forged

I bought three category novels because there the price doesn’t differ too much (or not at all) from the prices the online bookshop offers I usually use. These six books cost 25,52€ (without the coupon). At “my” bookshop, I would have paid 24,50€. So it was okay but yes, I watch out for those things and try to get the most for my money. I guess I’m just a bit anal that way.

Edit: I just received a new coupon via email. This one because Christmas is coming and this time, it’s from the bookshop I usually use.