Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Review Club: Bewitching Season

by Marissa Doyle
Young Adult fantasy / romance 
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

Bewitching Season is the first in the "Leland Sisters" series, though there are only two girls, so I don't know how many books are planned. The setting is England in 1837, right before Victoria came to the throne, and it revolves around the London social season. The twist here is that the sisters, Persephone and Penelope (Persy and Pen) are hereditary witches.

The first book is Persy's story. She is the more talented witch of the two twins, which comes in handy later. Persy is also more studious and shy than Pen, so the social season is a bit of a trial for her. To her surprise, she attracts the interest of several young men, including their neighbor, Lochinvar Seton, with whom she is secretly in love. After indulging in some champagne at a ball, she performs a love spell on Lochinvar, but then when he shows interest, she thinks it's because of the love spelll not because he really likes her, so she starts avoiding him which alienates her twin. (In so many ways, the twins are typical teenage girls and behave accordingly.)

The external plot revolves around the kidnapping of the twins' governess, Miss Allerdyce, a very talented witch. She has been spirited to Kensington Palace where Princess Victoria lives with her mother and the villainous Sir John Conroy, who wants Ally to help him bewitch Victoria so he can be the power behind the throne when the old king dies. Of course it is up to Persy and Pen to find Ally and free her (and Victoria) from Conroy's clutches. (Conroy was a real person and he did try to control the young Victoria though I would be surprised if he ever resorted to witchcraft.)

The characters are likable and book is well-written, fast-paced and amusing. Nothing serious here, but a nice diversion. Recommended for YA readers.


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book review blogs @Barrie Summy

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book Review Club: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
by Jules Verne
Master Edition prepared by Kent David Kelly
Wonderland Imprints, 2011

Jules Verne was one of the fathers of science fiction and a main inspiration for the steampunk genre, so I picked one of his books for the subject Classics. I looked at and found a recommendation to this illustrated edition which I read on my Kindle.

The story of Captain Nemo and his wondrous submarine, The Nautilus, is fairly well known, but for those who aren't familiar with it here's a brief recap. In the late 1860's, a large and mysterious force is detected in the oceans, one that becomes a danger to shipping. Is it an enormous Cetacean or a man-made phenomenon? The US frigate Abraham Lincoln is sent to investigate and the captain invites French professor Pierre Arronax, a well-known marine scientists, to accompany them. A collision with the mysterious behemoth leaves Arronax, his man-servant Conseil, and Canadian harpooner Ned Land adrift in the middle of the Pacific on top of their quarry. They are taken inside the submarine where they become enforced guests of the enigmatic Captain Nemo, who has no intention of letting them go. Arronax, as a scientist, is fascinated by the wonders of this undersea world, but Ned chafes at the lack of opportunities to escape.

I enjoyed the book more than I expected. It was interesting to contrast the areas where Verne foresaw technology we now take for granted (self-contained diving suits with oxygen tanks, stun guns, submarines that can travel beneath the poles) and the limits of nineteenth century science. His explanation for the cause of yellow fever was particularly hilarious (poisoned air from rotting weeds that clog the mouths of tropical rivers) though not surprising, given that the book was written in the 1860's, long before medical science had figured out the real cause.

Verne grew up in Nantes, a port city, and later owned a ship, and you sense his love of the sea and his love of science. As I read, I felt a sense of wonder at the beauty, power and majesty of the sea and the bravery of the men who explored it. There are a places where Verne's story stops as he details and classifies the marine life encountered in various seas and oceans, and I'll admit to skimming over those parts. The vintage black-and-white illustrations added a lot to the enjoyment of the book. Recommended for lovers or science fiction and/or classic literature.

If you enjoy steamypunk, check out my review of The Inventor's Companion at  Lyndi's Love Notes.


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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Book Review Club: A First-Rate Madness

A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness
by Nassir Ghaemi
Penguin Press, 2011

I saw the author interviewed on The Daily Show and had to buy this book. It's political/historical psychology, but also collected biography because he has thumbnail sketches of a number of famous world leaders. The emphasis is on their mental state and degree of mental illness (or lack thereof), focusing specifically on bipolar disorder and/or depression. He includes FDR & JFK, whom he contends had something called hyperthymic personality, a mild version of mania.

Obviously, it's difficult to do psychological evaluations of people who are long dead. Ghaemi's approach looks for four aspects of mental illness: symptoms, family history, course of illness and treatment. Sherman, who was bipolar, mainly treated his condition with alcohol. Of course, that was one of the main drugs available to him at the time.

Ghaemi's contention is that a crisis calls for extraordinary leaders and that "normal" folks just don't cut it. They're not creative or realistic enough in their thinking. (Depending on the need of the moment.) FDR was hyperthymic and he was able to be creative in responding to the Great Depression. He tried different things; if they didn't work, he tried something else. But he didn't think conventionally.

Churchill, on the other hand, was a "depressive realist". He suffered from depression but not mania. New studies now find that people who have experienced depression are more realistic than "normal" people, who tend to be unrealistically optimistic. Churchill's "depressive realism" allowed him to see the danger in Hitler's Germany when all the normal people, like Neville Chamberlain, could not. Sadly, Churchill was right.

(I love the wonderful cover graphic. Here it is closer up.)

There's a separate section about JFK & Hitler and how the drugs both took affected them. JFK had good results from drugs for his Addison's disease, at least in some of the time, whereas Hitler's quack of a doctor had him mainlining speed. No wonder he was so crazy. Amphetamines make bipolar people cycle off the charts.

Oddly enough, the most disturbing part of the book was the chapter on homoclites, i.e. normal, mentally healthy people. Being mentally healthy doesn't mean being a nice person. Most of the Nazi leaders other than Hitler were quite normal. Ghaemi cites a study of mentally healthy people and goes on to explain that Nixon, despite his paranoia, was mentally healthy. (He had good, rational reasons to be paranoid. "They" really were out to get him!)

I can't say that Ghaemi is correct in all he says (what do I know?) but the argument is persuasive. I do know that I'll never look at a political leader again without trying to assess his or her mental health. Not sure if that is a good thing or not. I will look at them very differently!

This is the most fascinating book I've read all year. You can find a short excerpt from it at Nassir Ghaemi's website.


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@Barrie Summy

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Review Club: The Coffee Trader

by David Liss,
Ballantine 2004

Amsterdam, 1659: On the world’s first commodities exchange, fortunes are won and lost in an instant. Miguel Lienzo, a sharp-witted trader in the city’s close-knit community of Portuguese Jews, knows this only too well. Once among the city’s most envied merchants, Miguel has suddenly lost everything. Now, impoverished and humiliated, living in his younger brother’s canal-flooded basement, Miguel must find a way to restore his wealth and reputation.

Miguel enters into a partnership with a seductive Dutchwoman who offers him one last chance at success—a daring plot to corner the market of an astonishing new commodity called “coffee.” To succeed, Miguel must risk everything he values and face a powerful enemy who will stop at nothing to see him ruined. Miguel will learn that among Amsterdam’s ruthless businessmen, betrayal lurks everywhere, and even friends hide secret agendas.

Since I love coffee and history, the subject of this book intrigued me, and I found more intrigue inside than I anticipated. Late 17th c. Amsterdam is a tolerant city that offers sanctuary to oppressed Jews from other countries. The main character, Miguel Lienzo, is a Portuguese Jew from a family of conversos. A commodities trader at The Exchange, he was once prosperous, but is deeply in debt as the book opens. A Dutchwoman, Gertruid Damhuis, suggests that he invest in a new commodity: coffee. Miguel hatches a scheme to corner the market, unaware that he is being manipulated by others, including two fellow Jews who despise each other.

I liked Miguel, even though he's not the most honest guy. Apparently, lying is a business tool in commodities trading, at least as it existed then. He does have a core of integrity and a streak of chivalry where women are concerned, esp. his brother's wife, Hannah, who secretly longs for him. And for his coffee beans. She finds both irresistibly stimulating.

But what a nest of thieves and liars! Everyone seems to have an agenda and multiple secrets. Who should Miguel trust, if anyone?

I found the historical setting detailed and fascinating. The Coffee Trader is well-written, with complex characters and more twiests and turns than I could keep track of. Recommended for fans of historical fiction.

Read on my Kindle 3.


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@Barrie Summy

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

DECEPTION by Lyndi Lamont

Deception was released on August 21 from Amber Allure, the GLBT imprint for Amber Quill Press.

Genres: Gay / Historical / The Arts / Series
Heat Level: 3
Length: Novella (20k words)
ISBN-13: 978-1-61124-163-1 (Electronic)

London 1895, where men who love other men flaunt convention and risk imprisonment for "the love that dare not speak its name." Until Oscar Wilde goes on trial for gross indecency...

An anonymous and intriguing invitation leads struggling artist, Leander Frampton, into a private world of sensuality with a stranger in an elaborate black and gold costume. When the masks come off, Leander rediscovers the lover he's dreamed of for the last two months. The man who abruptly left him in the middle of the night. Now Rupert Austin has returned, inspiring Leander's art and filling him with desire. Thinking he has found both muse and patron, Leander gives all he has: his heart, his body, his talent. But Rupert is as elusive and evasive as ever, appearing and disappearing in Leander's life, with little explanation.

Forbidden passions lure Rupert Austin, an outwardly staid art importer, into a secret life where he is free to pursue his love of handsome young men. Past loss makes him shy away from involvement, but he is unable to resist Leander's talent, youthful beauty and enthusiasm. Rupert arranges for a private showing of Leander's work, but that doesn't mean he trusts Leander with all of his secrets, especially after risky public sex that could have landed them in jail.

Two very different men—one, a businessman with a great deal to lose and a taste for secret liaisons with beautiful men, and the other a young, gifted artist who will give his all to the right man. Will deception destroy any possibility for a once-in-a-lifetime passion for these passionate lovers?

Deception has been reviewed already, by Lena Grey at Queer Magazine Online and I couldn't be more thrilled with her review:

"'Deception' by Lyndi Lamont is aptly named, since deception is a huge part of this touching, angst filled love story. Leander and Rupert must hide behind a mask of deception, unable to express their true natures for fear of reprisal. However, the two men take a completely different approach to their situation. Leander believes that love is worth taking the risk and Rupert can't let go of the fear long enough to give love a chance. Knowing the success of their relationship depends upon compromise, how much is each man willing to sacrifice to make it happen?

I admire Leander, not just for his youth and beauty, and artistic soul, but for his determination, desire for independence, and his adaptability. He learns a harsh life lesson concerning his proclivities, which slows him down, but doesn't stop him. Regardless of what it takes, Leander is going to see his dreams become reality. Leander gives Rupert so much respect and trust that when he learns of Rupert's deception, he's devastated. There's no way he deserves being treated in such a manner.

Rupert is more complex as are my feelings about him. He's romantic and generous with things, but holds on to his heart and trusts no one. He straddles two worlds and, until he meets Leander, he manages to fairly well keep them separate. He feels guilty about deceiving Leander, knowing he's earned his trust and deserves to be taken into his complete confidence, but weighing the risks, he's still not able to do so. One thing which made it so frustrating for me was that he and Leander were compatible in so many ways, i.e., physically, artistically, and socially, that I didn't understand why Rupert couldn't let go and take the next step bringing them together permanently. Unfortunately, for him, his status is more important than being happy. I had little sympathy for him when he tortured himself obsessing about Leander.

The lyrical language in 'Deception' is perfect for a romantic, historical story. The flowery phrases and expressions add to the ambiance in a very important way. They help to create a contrast between the world of Leander and Rupert and life as it was in the prim and proper 1890s , which makes their plight even more poignant. If you love historical romance with strong characters, angst, drama, passion, forgiveness and a happy ending, then you'll love 'Deception'."
- Lena Grey, Queer Magazine Online

buy link:

Also available from All Romance eBooks

Linda / Lyndi

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Book Review Club: Dark Fire

by C. J. Sansom
Historical Mystery

The second Matthew Shardlake Mystery finds the hunchbacked lawyer once again working for Henry VIII's chancellor, Lord Cromwell. This time Matthew is on a search for a supply of Greek Fire unearthed in the demolition of a London monastery. But before he can get close, people involved start dying and Matthew himself is targeted.

Cromwell sends him a helper/bodyguard in the form of Jack Barak, the descendant of a converted Jew. Barak is Cromwell's man, but he comes to respect Matthew and they start to work well together.

A secondary plot involves the niece of one of Matthew's clients who is accused of murdering her young cousin. Matthew and her uncle believe she is innocent, but she refuses to defend herself. Cromwell's interference buys her, and Matthew, some time to save her life, as long as Matthew finds the dark fire first. In the meantime, Matthew flirts with Lady Honor, a wealthy widow, and gets assistance from his friend Guy Malton, an apothecary and former monk.

Sansom paints a detailed picture of life in 16th century London from the fading glories of the monasteries to the ordure in the streets. We see the splendor in wealthy households and the extreme poverty of the masses. Barak helps Matthew to examine his own attitudes toward those "beneath" him, much to Matthew's dismay. Jack is a good addition to the series and I hope to meet him again in later mysteries.

The search for Greek fire is entirely fictional, but in the Author's Note, we learn that dark fire, as it was also called, was apparently crude petroleum the Greeks found bubbling out of the ground in the Middle East. The Byzantines knew of it and developed some kind of apparatus that allowed them to use it as a weapon, sort of a Medieval flame thrower. After the fall of Byzantine Constantinople, the method of making Greek Fire disappeared. Sansom's fictional alchemists search in vain for the formula for dark fire, not realizing that oil from the Middle East is the main ingredient.

I found the story very interesting, and I like Matthew as a sleuth and as a man. Recommended for fans of historical mysteries.


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@Barrie Summy

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Book Review Club: Lady Julia Grey Mysteries


To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.

In SILENT IN THE GRAVE, Lady Julia Grey literally meets Brisbane over her husband's dying body. Brisbane informs Julia her husband may have been poisoned, but she refuses to believe him. Edward's death brings the large and mostly eccentric March family down on her en masse, including her Lesbian sister Portia with her obnoxious, flatulent pug, and The Ghoul, an aging aunt whose mission in life is to comfort the bereaved and make sure they observe the elaborate rituals of Victorian mourning.

Nicholas Brisbane is a private enquiry agent (19th c. PI) with a mysterious past. Almost a year after the death, Julia finds a threatening note sent to Edward and begs Brisbane to re-open his investigation. He refuses, as the trail is now cold, but she eventually talks him into it, appointing herself his partner, much to his dismay. He knows she isn't prepared for the dangers of the business and tries to protect her from herself, but she has had a taste of freedom and refuses to go back into her gilded cage.

I came across this bundle of three books at Amazon for the incredible price of $9.99 total and bought it immediately for my Kindle. Before I knew it, I had devoured all three books in no time at all, even though they are not short books. It's fun to watch Julia change from conventional Victorian widow to amateur sleuth and daring conspirator. Her family is delightful, esp. in the second book SILENT IN THE SANCTUARY when they gather for a very unusual Christmas celebration, marred by murder.

Nicholas Brisbane is a fascinating character: sexy and mysterious, a dangerous man with a soft spot for the lovely Julia. He's an intriguing combination of Sherlock Holmes' brilliance, including his skill with a violin, Heathcliff's wildness, and Rhett Butler's dark good looks and bad boy attitude. In SILENT ON THE MOOR, we finally learn more about his mysterious background. (There are definite Gothic overtones to this one.) The romance takes a back seat to the mysteries, and it takes all three books for Julia to bring Brisbane to heel, though it's clear he will never be tamed. Recommended.

Raybourn is a Rita winner for SILENT IN THE GRAVE (Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements)


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@Barrie Summy

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


by Lauren Belfer
HarperCollins 2010

Shortly after Pear Harbor, divorcee Claire Shipley, a staff photographer for Life Magazine, is sent to the Rockefeller Institute to document trials of an experimental drug called penicillin. There she meets attractive doctor Jamie Stanton and his sister, Lucretia, a researcher. Romance blooms between Claire and Jamie, but the war frequently intervenes. Tapped by the government which is determined to develop penicillin for the military, Jamie travels across the country to oversee production of the drug. Claire is also recruited to document the progress of the project and to conduct a little industrial espionage to make sure the drug companies are living up to their agreement with the government. Claire and Jamie's relationship is complicated by a shockingly personal murder and Claire's father, a successful but ambitious businessman.

Last month's topic for my library reader's group was medicine, so I was thrilled to find this on the "new books" shelf. The characterization is excellent and I came to care about the main characters, esp. Claire and Jamie. Claire is a strong modern woman, and Jamie is a good man who has experienced more heartache than he deserves. Claire's wheeler-dealer father is a complex mix of loving father and ruthless capitalist. I found it well-written except for the author's tendency to head hop from one character to another. The description is excellent, and the New York City of the period is as much a character as the people. I found myself wishing I could see it as it was then before the rise of the modern skyscrapers.

All in all, a fascinating glimpse of the home front during WWII and a reminder of what life was like before wonder drugs like penicillin, a time when a person could die from a scratch on the knee. The politics were particularly interesting and not that much different than what we see now in terms of the power games played by the federal government and the pharmaceutical companies. This is a story that will stay with you long after you finish it. Recommended. 

I'm also reviewing Carla Kelly's Regency romance, The Surgeon's Lady, at Lyndi's Love Notes.


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@Barrie Summy

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Losing Weight, the New Old-Fashioned Way

Last fall I finally decided to do something about my excess weight, mostly to try to lower my cholesterol. I'd put this off for a long time because I couldn't decide how to go about losing weight. I asked myself, which diet did I want to follow? The answer was none. I've dieted before, and lost weight, but I always gained it all back and then some.

I finally decided that the best method would be old-fashioned calorie counting. The hope was that by not changing my food intake to conform to someone else's idea of what I should be eating I might actually be able to maintain the weight loss. But calorie counting can be a drag. So I looked for some help at the Apple Apps Store. There I found the app for My Fitness Pal, a free app that was highly rated, with a corresponding website,

I set up an account and the program helped my figure out how fast I wanted to lose and how many calories I could consume on a daily basis. I elected to lose fairly slowly because I knew I'd have limited patience for a very low calorie diet. I ended up at about 1700 calories per day, which turned out to be quite doable. The calorie counting is much easier now when the computer does most of the work for you. My Fitness Pal has a huge database of foods, and nowadays manufacturers list calories on many food items, plus the computer (or iPhone app does the addition for you.  I often just have to check off the foods I've eaten from a master list of my favorites. This made the whole process much easier to stick with. At the website, you can even invite friends to diet with you. If you decide to try it, look me up. My name there is lyndilamont.

Now, eight months later, I've lost 28 pounds and my cholesterol is back in the normal range. Color me happy. If you're looking to lose weight, I recommend this plan. It's free and easier than ever.

Linda aka Lyndi

Linda aka Lyndi Lamont

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book Review Club: God Is Not One

by Stephen Prothero,
Harper Collins 2010

Prothero, a professor of comparative religion at Boston University, wrote this book to refute the meme that at their heart all religions are the same at the core. He rightly points out that no one thinks difference political or economic systems are the same, i.e. capitalism vs. socialism or democracy vs. dictatorship. The approach he takes is to analyze eight major religions: Islam, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Yoruba religion of Africa, Judaism and Daoism. Christianity is still the largest religion, in terms of the number of followers, but Islam is the fastest-growing religion, so it gets top billing.

Prothero discusses each religion in some detail. Most interesting to me was the way he identifies what each one sees as the central problem of human existence and the solution to the problem. These range from Christianity's emphasis on individual sin and salvation to Confucianism's insistence that the problem is chaos and the solution is order and social harmony. Here are the problems and solutions in brief, as I understood them:

Islam sees the problem as one of pride and self-sufficiency and the solution is submission to Allah

Christianity sees the problem as sin and salvation is the solution

Confucianism sees chaos as the problem and order and social harmony as the solution.

Hinduism sees the problem in the vicious cycle of death and rebirth; the solution is to find release from the wheel of karma, i.e. spiritual liberation

For Buddhism, the problem is suffering and the solution is escape via the Noble Eightfold Path. As Prothero says, "One of the distinguishing marks of the Buddhist tradition is its emphasis on experience over belief."

Yoruba, which also believes in reincarnation, identifies the problem as forgetfulness of one's destined purpose and the solution is remembering, i.e. recovering our destiny.

Judaism sees the problem as exile (distance from God) and the solution as return. This can mean going back to God or, more literally, the return to the Holy Land.

Daoism sees the problem as lifelessness and constraint as the problem and the solution is to live life to the fullest in harmony with the Dao.

In reading the book, it became clear that these religions disagree not only on the central problem of being human, but on such profound philosophical ideas as the nature of God, even the number of gods, the soul (if it exists) and the promise of an afterlife and what form it might take.

I think Prothero made his point that rather than focusing on the commonality of religions, we should explore and understand the differences. Only then can we be tolerant. I found the book readable and fascinating and I think it's a good introduction to world religions. Highly recommended.

I bought the Kindle version and read it on my new iPad, but it's also available in hard cover and your library may own a copy.


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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Literature Tech

For an interesting overview of the development of literature based on technological advances, check out this blog post:

10 Technologies That Changed Literature Forever


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review Club: Secret Sanction

by Brian Haig,
Warner, 2001

Major Sean Drummond, a JAG lawyer, is enlisted to investigate a possible atrocity committed by American special forces during the Kosovo action. Drummond and two other JAG lawyers fly to Kosovo where they find a cover-up within a cover-up. Ultimately, he has to decide whether the truth outweighs the greater good.

I enjoyed the book. Haig's first person narrative is entertaining, esp. give Drummond's irreverent take on everything military. The plot unfolds gradually, with some surprises, but the pace never flags. It's more legal mystery than fast-paced thriller. I was able to spot the main bad guy pretty easily, but that didn't affect my enjoyment of the book. This is the first novel by Haig, a former military lawyer, and the first in a series.

Check out my review of The Iron Duke at


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@Barrie Summy

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Book Review Club: Dissolution

by C. J. Sansom
Penguin, 2003

Published in 2003, this is the first in Sansom's Matthew Shardlake mystery series, set in Tudor England during the Reformation period. The title refers to Henry VIII's dissolution of the Catholic nunneries and monasteries. It is Sansom's first published novel. It was nominated for two of the Crime Writers' Association Dagger awards in 2003.

Matthew Shardlake is a unique character, a hunchbacked lawyer in 16th c. England. He is also a religious reformer. It opens with Matthew being summoned by Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's vicar-general who is in charge of dissolving the Catholic monasteries to protect the new Church of England. One of Cromwell's commissioners, Robin Singleton, was murdered while trying to convince the abbot of Scarnsea Abbey to voluntarily surrender his house. Matthew is sent to investigate Singleton's murder, accompanied only by Mark Poer, the son of Matthew's father's steward. Mark is an intelligent but argumentative young man who at times proves more hindrance than help.

The situation at Scarnsea proves more complicated than Matthew anticipated, and before he can solve one murder, another has happened. That one leads to the revelation that a young servant girl had also been murdered several years eariler. There is no dearth of suspects among the monks. Is it stern Prior Mortimus, who runs the abbey with a firm, and at times, brutal hand? Or Abbot Fabian who has much to lose? Then there's Brother Edwig, the burser, who seems to be hiding something in the account books. And sensitive Brother Gabriel who fights his "unnatural" passions. Matthew finds assistance from the infirmarian, Brother Guy, a Spaniard of Moorish descent, and his assistant Alice, a beautiful young servant girl. But is it possible one of them is hiding a murderous heart?

I really enjoyed this book, as much for the religious aspects as the mystery, which kept me guessing. Matthew Shardlake is a great character: intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate yet eaten up by frustration and resentment because of his physical disability. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series.

Author bio:
C. J. Sansom earned a Ph.D. in history and, before becoming a full-time writer, was a lawyer. Dissolution is his first novel. He lives in Sussex, England, where he is working on further Matthew Shardlake mysteries.

You can read an interview with him at the Penguin USA website.


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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Review Club: Warrior

by Zoe Archer
Zebra, 2010

The vicious attack Capt. Gabriel Huntley witnesses in a dark alley sparks a chain of events that will take him to the ends of the Earth and beyond - where what is real and what is imagined become terribly confused. And frankly, Huntley couldn't be more pleased. Intrigue, danger, and a beautiful woman in distress - just what he needs.

Raised thousands of miles from England, Thalia Burgess is no typical Victorian lady. A good thing, because a proper lady would have no hope of recovering the priceless magical artefact Thalia is after. Huntley's assistance might come in handy, though she has to keep him in the dark. But this distractingly handsome soldier isn't easy to deceive...

The first in the Blades of the Rose series, Warrior introduces us to a 19th century world where magic exists and two secret societies battle for control of it. The Heirs of Albion, the villains, want to corral the world's magic in order to use it for England's benefit, even if it means colonizing and enslaving less developed countries, like Mongolia where most of this story takes place. The Blades of the Rose work tirelessly to keep the Heirs from gaining control of the Sources of magic which exist all over the world. Thalia's father is a Blade of the Rose, but his leg is broken, so she embarks on the quest to save the Mongolian Source in his place, accompanied by the soldier who brought her father the message that the Heirs are on the move.

A word from the author:
You know how everyone tells aspiring authors to write the book of your heart? This is the book of my heart. Windswept steppes. Beautifully severe desert. Chases on horseback. Secret societies. Magic and adventure.

I couldn't say it any better. This is a really fun romance, with a strong heroine and a strong, sexy hero. Thalia is smart, brave and capable, thankfully not at all in the TSTL category. Gabriel is the perfect military hero: brave, honorable and determined to protect his lady at all costs. Well-written, adventurous and just generally well-done. Highly recommended.


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