Sunday, 19 February 2012

India Black by Carol K Carr

When an important figure in the Disraeli government dies in a compromising position at the Lotus House, Victorian Madam, India Black has to act quickly to avoid any disruption to her business and reputation. Calling on the dubious talents of the odoriferous street urchin Vincent, she has a plan to remove the body discreetly, but is interrupted by government spy French. Blackmailed with the threat of losing the Lotus House she is drawn into his world of espionage to serve the British government.

It seems her “punter” was carrying important documents that put the government in a tricky situation with the Russians and they’ve gone missing! India and French end up in the most unlikely situations to save the day!

I bought this book hoping it would fill the huge hole left by my favourite Victorian female characters. I worship Amelia Peabody, love Lady Julia Grey, wait for the new Parasol Protectorate books with excitement and even read Emily Ashton (although they’re not my favourites!). I enjoy my strong, clever, sarcastic characters that thrive on disaster, near death and criminal activities. The other important factor in all these is also the strong, devastatingly cool and handsome male interest (who can blame me?!). So India Black, slightly different background to the others and I wasn’t at first convinced that it’d work, but despite my reservations (and I still think it referred to her professional activities a little too much and unnecessarily, which is why I docked half a star!) I really enjoyed it!

India has a high regard for herself and her talents, but the overall tone is light and humorous. French (we don’t find out his first name!) is suitably intelligent, devious and handsome, (yay!) but remains fairly mysterious. Not quite a Brisbane, but he definitely has potential! Although India acknowledges his looks and there is a spark between them, this first in the series doesn’t go down the romance route, which is probably better for future books if it develops into a long running series. Vincent, although thinly sketched, I’m sure will develop into a far more interesting character and some of India’s more colourful work colleagues and acquaintances will just have to reappear in later books.

To sum up…it’s a fun, fast paced read with strong lead characters. The cover is also really pretty, but a bit too “romance” for the style of the writing.  I’ve already bought the second book and although it hasn't completely stopped me wishing for many more (and immediate) Amelia and Julia books, I found it a really enjoyable read. Give it a go!

Monday, 13 February 2012

In my mailbox...half term treats!

So here's my latest buys this week and as it's half term holidays and I've been a bit like a child in the sweetie shop, I'm already read one and am well into the second! Reviews will come soon, I promise.
The Christina Jones choice is one of her "magical" novels that I somehow missed.  I realised when I was about to start the one I bought last week - Never can Say Goodbye - and so bought this one quickly to catch up!
The India Black books came after looking for ages for something in the same vein as the Lady Julia Grey and Amelia Peabody books, as they have left a huge hole and sadly the authors just can't produce them quickly enough!  A Victorian madam is an unusual premise, but I'm willing to give it a go!  Just finished the first one...and loved it!

So happy reading, and happy hols to all the teachers out there - it was sooo nice not to get the Sunday night glums yesterday!!

Monday, 6 February 2012

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Diana Bishop is an American academic based at Oxford University, she is also a witch.  Through her specialism in the History of Science she encounters a mysterious alchemical manuscript, known as Ashmole 782, which displays strong magical powers.  As Diana has a severe aversion to using her witchy skills, she sends the manuscript back to the stacks, much to the chagrin of all the other witches, vampires and daemons in the vicinity, who don't believe that things are that simple or that she's so ignorant.
Matthew Clairmont, a charismatic scientist who also happens to be a 1500 year old vampire is the first creature on the scene and although Diana has been warned she can't help herself from being drawn in.  

I'm not going into any further detail as I dislike giving spoilers, but also it's such a huge book (almost 700 pages) I couldn't possibly do it justice and okay, I'm going to 'fess up and declare that this is my new guilty pleasure!  I LOVED it!!  I know I probably shouldn't and that there's many more worthy books out there and although it isn't perfect, I've given this 5 stars because I loved the whole indulgent experience! It's pure entertainment and I know I'll have to by the sequel in hardback as I won't be able to wait beyond the summer.

I see this novel as a wish-fulfilment for all the more mature readers of the twilight series, who felt a smidgen bad for being way too old to lust after Edward (go, on...I know you did, we've talked about this at work!) and have struggled to hide their guilty secret!  Deborah Harkness has given us a gorgeous, but definitely more age appropriate vampire with even more back story and hidden depths - yay!  As anyone who has read my previous reviews I do like my flawed, tragic but devastingly handsome heroes (who cares if it's a cliche?!) and Matthew ticks all the boxes, he's even a wine fanatic which allowed me to forgive him being a yoga bunny!

Diana is mildly irritating (which at least allows the female reader to feel superior as they'd be far cooler in the same situation) but she did grow on me as I became more involved in the story.  She does need rescuing too often, (although who can blame her with Matthew around?) and the whole denial of her witchiness was a bit grating and seemed a bit teenagey-angst for a woman in her mid thirties.  However, she does become more interesting as her abilities develop.

I know I'm gushing, and I accept it's not going to be for everyone, but it's an atmospheric, indulgent fantasy read that made me very happy and I can't wait for the next one!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

In my mailbox...more buys!

I really ought to change the name of this type of posting to "Oops, I did it again!"  No point in protesting, I just can't stop buying more books.  Here's this weeks latest offerings...

I've loved Christina Jones previous books and so I'm really looking forward to this one.  the Jojo Moyes has had such fabulous reviews that I couldn't ignore it any longer, but I had her last one as an audiobook and was a bit "meh" about it, so I've bought the paper version this time.  The Jane Harris was a random whim at the supermarket, so it might be a surprise.
Managed to stay away from kindle buys this time and I have a few reviews pending that I must get finished and posted.  I'm currently reading "A Discovery of Witches" which feels like a guilty pleasure, but I'm really loving it so far!
Let me know what you think and what you're reading x