21 December 2008

Review: Fridge Magnets are Bastards by Mark Dapin

I just finished reading this book by Mark Dapin and absolutely loved it! I received it as a gift last Christmas and it's been sitting in my TBR (to be read pile) since then and now I'm sorry I didn't get to it sooner.

This book had me laughing out loud every 5 minutes and wanting to share it with anyone who'll listen. His take on things like 'the loop', 'learning curve' etc had me chuckling all the way through.

I also loved his list of imaginary countries that should exist like 'Burmany, where the mysterious temples of an ancient civilisation are serviced by the finest roads in Europe'.

Mark Dapin is funny and witty and I'll definitely keep an eye out for him in the future.

Highly recommended for last minute Christmas gifts!!!

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
18 December 2008

Review: The Chase by Clive Cussler

The Chase by Clive Cussler book cover
This is the first book by Clive Cussler I've read and I really enjoyed it. Set in America in the 1900s it isn't the era or setting I usually go for however I was pleasantly surprised and found it easy to immerse myself in this epic battle between 'good guy' Isaac Bell and the 'Butcher Bandit'.

Those with a love of trains or early motor cars will love this book and I found this aspect quite interesting, despite not having any knowledge in this field.

As the title suggests, the book feels like a chase and I was certainly on the edge of my seat (so to speak) until the final page.

I even purchased this book for a Christmas gift for somebody else, so it was a great referral, thanks Dad!

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
05 December 2008

Review: War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

I enjoyed reading this classic by H.G. Wells and can understand how it inspired so many authors to explore 'alien invasion' after reading it.

The narrator describes the events of the invasion in the past tense, so I struggled to understand how those listening to the reading over the radio could possibly think it was happening in the present. As I was reading it, I was trying to identify 'the passage' that could have inspired such panic but alas, I couldn't.

Once I gave up this quest I was able to enjoy the writing and the developing plot. The most poignant part of the book was when the soldier was discussing the fate of human beings in years and decades to come and how their relationships with the martians would change. The soldier also claimed to know what type of human being would die in the early stages of the invasion and the characteristics it would take to survive.

I wanted to linger here and explore this further but the main character left the soldier and continued his journey to look for his wife, and this depth of analysis was cut short in my opinion.

All in all, a great classic and an easy read.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
29 November 2008

Review: Death and the Arrow by Chris Priestley

Death and the Arrow by Chris Priestley book coverThis book was part of a series known as the Tom Marlowe series, but is a stand alone novel and a great little read. Based in London 1715, it is a medieval 'whodunnit' and was very enjoyable to read.

Similarly to P.C. Doherty, Priestley conjurs up the smell and feel of the city during this period which was what attracted me to read this book.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

Review: The Servants by Michael Marshall Smith

I read this book in one day, but was disappointed that it wasn't all I'd hoped for. I was attracted to the plot line that the main character discovers the ghosts in the old servants quarters in his home. While this was the case, the author didn't really take the plot in the exciting direction I would have liked.

The main character was a young boy dealing with the breakup of his parents, and his ill mother marrying an American and moving to Brighton. There is a lot of skateboarding out in the cold weather that begins to take its toll on the reader, and not enough about the boy's discovery in the old ladies' flat in the basement.

The end was abrupt and the 'twist' that I thought was coming never arrived, which made this a disappointing read.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!
20 November 2008

Review: False Impression by Jeffrey Archer

False Impression by Jeffrey Archer book coverThis is the first book by Jeffrey Archer I've read and I'm happy to report that I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed that the main character was an art expert who used to work for Sotheby's and there are plenty of references to artists and artworks throughout the book. If you didn't know your art or Impressionists then I could understand why some readers could feel like Archer is name dropping, but I really enjoyed this angle on the art world.

The incorporation of the events of September 11 were also very interesting and I enjoyed how Archer used this as part of the story but it didn't dominate the plot. The unfolding of events from the point of view of the main character were captivating and I think he achieved a perfect balance here.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys action/crime novels and I'd certainly keep my eye open for another book by Jeffrey Archer in the future.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
13 November 2008

Career Change in 2009

Well, it's time for a change, and I've resigned from my job after almost 6 years. My resume is ready to go and I'm looking forward to a career change in 2009!

I'm going to take a well earned break over Christmas and then it's full steam ahead and I'm really looking forward to it. There's so much I want to do in December, my list is h-u-g-e!! Oh yeah, and I'm sure I'll enjoy some extra reading time of course :-)

That's my four bucks!

Review: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson book coverI bought and read this book based on the fact that it was the winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This book has received endless accolades, but I'm sad to say that I didn't enjoy it at all.

I was intrigued by the premise of this novel, in that Reverend Ames is writing a letter to his son with the knowledge he is dying. The book almost reads like a series of diary entries with entries from the current day and reflections from the past. The entries flipped forwards and backwards in time without any order and I felt like I was being jerked around without any firm destination.

I can see how so many readers were moved by the reflections of the Reverend, but I'm disappointed to say that the deeply profound moments were lost on me for some reason. I'm not quite sure whether it was the writing style, or the religious references or a disbelief that human beings reflect the way he does.

Nevertheless, I won't be recommending Gilead to anyone, and to be quite honest, I found it a chore to read.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!
08 November 2008

Review: Spider Light by Sarah Rayne

Spider Light by Sarah Rayne book coverThis is the third book I've read by this author, and I really enjoyed it. This time the creepy building was a disused mill and there was also the inclusion an asylum called 'Latchkill'. I enjoyed the unfolding sub-plots and and learning how various deaths occurred in the mill over different generations.

Rayne doesn't attempt to disguise the fact that her plot construction is the same in each book, although this recipe always delivers a thrilling read. Deviating from this recipe would be exciting for the reader for a change but at the same time a risk to the success of the novel. I guess the only way to know if she's done this is to read her other books.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a thriller and uncovering a web of secrets from the past.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
19 October 2008

Review: The Devil's Hunt by Paul Doherty or P.C. Doherty

The Devil's Hunt by Paul Doherty or P.C. Doherty book cover
I enjoyed this medieval mystery starring my favourite Clerk, Sir Hugh Corbett. This one is set in 1303 and Corbett is sent to Oxford to investigate a number of vicious murders. Oxford was a completely new setting for the series, and I enjoyed learning about the college halls and scholars and how they operated so many hundreds of years ago.

One of the key characters was surprisingly killed in this novel and I certainly wasn't expecting that. 

All in all, another enjoyable historical fiction by Doherty.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
17 October 2008

Review: Tower of Silence by Sarah Rayne

Tower of Silence by Sarah Rayne book coverI've been off work this week (torn ligament in my ankle) and have had lots of time for reading and just finished reading Tower of Silence by Sarah Rayne. This is the second book of hers I've read and I think I enjoyed it even more than the first. 

Rayne uses the same method of plot construction in that the story consists of multiple plots and characters that manage to come together in the end in an unexpected way.

This time the 'creepy historical building' was the Tower of Alwar and the Tower of Inchcape and they were certainly creepy. I really enjoyed this book, and can't believe I picked it up in a bookshop for only $9.95.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
12 October 2008

Review: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson book coverI absolutely loved this book!! The main character is severely burned in a car accident and the book begins with his recovery in the burn unit. I was engrossed in the book by the first page and the details regarding burn patients is extremely graphic and very informative.

Marianne Engel is a psych patient from the hospital and begins to visit his bedside and tells him that this isn't the first time she's looked after him after he's been burned. So begins a series of tales and stories from many hundreds of years ago, each one an extraordinary and well written story of love and loss. (I want to stress here that these weren't romance stories, but also involved courage, myth and sacrifice and each one of them touched me in some way).

I immensely enjoyed these 'medieval tales' and the idea that Marianne believes they lived together in previous lives. Ultimately the reader is left to decide whether this is true or not.

This is the first book by this Canadian author and I can't wait to see what he publishes next.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
06 October 2008

Review: The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke

The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke book coverThis is the first book I've read by James Lee Burke and it will most likely be the last. This book is part of his series featuring Detective Robicheaux, however it is set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Hailed as one of 'America's greatest living novelists' I was sucked in by reviews that Burke's descriptions of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina were 'tremendously powerful', and 'more vivid and powerful than any piece of reportage'. Sadly I disagree.

I found the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina dwarfed the plot and I wanted to read more about the devastation caused by Mother Nature than a couple of criminals and their evil deeds.

The plot was a little confusing in parts and I didn't find Burke to be a terribly good crime writer. If anything, I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read his most critically acclaimed novel, now I don't need to read anything else by this author.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!
27 September 2008

Review: The Keep by Jennifer Egan

The Keep by Jennifer Egan book coverWith a teaser like this: "In the wilds of Eastern Europe there is a mysterious castle that has stood for hundreds of years, steeped in blood lore and family pride" I just had to read it.

However I was disappointed to find that this 'gripping and ghostly gothic tale' was really not at all gripping. The story line was set up really well and had a lot of promise, however I think it became to surreal and I think Egan complicated the plot unnecessarily.

The ending was hazy and left a lot of unanswered questions, and I hate that!

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!
20 September 2008

Review: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne book coverI read some of Nathaniel Hawthorne's works at University, and I always wanted to read The Scarlet Letter. Published in 1850, I was eager to discover why this is such an American Classic. I found it to be a very rich and rewarding piece of writing, and an amazing glimpse into the daily lives of the Puritans living in Boston in the seventeenth century.

Hawthorne manages to paint the characters in such a light that the reader can see into their very souls, and I can't remember ever having such character insight before.

Hawthorne was also quite a visionary in terms of recognising the inequalities women faced in society at the time. The main character Hester Prynne was a sinner and therefore couldn't bring herself to be the Prophetess to bring about the change.

I enjoyed the language, with treats along the way such as: "His gourmandism was a highly agreeable trait". Ultimately I enjoyed this American Classic and would recommend it to anyone not afraid of tackling a level of rich and complex writing.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
07 September 2008

Review: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold book coverI'd seen this book around before but had never picked it up or knew what it was about until it was recommended to me by a friend.

The Lovely Bones is the story of a fourteen year old girl who was brutally murdered in 1973. What is different about this book is that the narrator is the little girl and the book begins with her murder and she takes you on a journey with her in the years following her death. She tells us about 'her heaven' and she watches her family members deal with her death and try to keep living themselves.

This was a very touching and moving book and so different from anything I've read before.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
30 August 2008

Review: The Song of a Dark Angel by Paul Doherty, P.C. Doherty

The Song of a Dark Angel by Paul Doherty, P.C. Doherty book coverIt's 1302 and Hugh Corbett, King Edward I's Keeper of the Secret Seal, is sent to Norfolk to investigate a series of murders. Again, this novel is based on fact and has been well researched.

The Pastoureaux (or Shepherds Movement) of France are part of the plot, and the Children's Crusade is also mentioned. A dark but fascinating part of history I wasn't aware of prior to reading this book and was inspired to research afterwards.

The loss of King Johns treasure at the Wash in 1216 is also a large part of the plot, as rumours and myths surrounding the treasure are rife and some characters devote their lives to searching to uncovering the mystery.

Overall, another satisfying medieval mystery. I thought I was close to the end of the series, but just learned that there are another 8 in the series, so I'm really only half way.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
25 August 2008

Review: Christ the Lord - The Road to Cana by Anne Rice

Christ the Lord - The Road to Cana by Anne Rice book coverTo all those who know me, it goes without saying that I'm a huge Anne Rice fan and simply must read any new book she publishes. This series however couldn't be further from the Vampire Chronicles or the Mayfair Witch stories.

Rice has meticulously researched the life of Christ, and this is the second in her series bringing to life Yeshua Bar Joseph. I found her first book in the series Christ the Lord Out of Egypt difficult to get into, as it was quite heavy going. However I thoroughly enjoyed the second installation in the series, and the story is really picking up pace now. I was still a little overwhelmed by all the family members, and how they were all related, but persisted through it all!

I'm really looking forward to the next book, although it will probably be another 12 months in the making. It's also difficult to know if this will be the last in the series.

I probably wouldn't recommend this book to Anne Rice fans, as it's nothing like her other works. However if you enjoy historical fiction and have an interest in religion then this is a great book.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
18 August 2008

Review: The Assassin in the Greenwood by Paul Doherty, P.C Doherty

The Assassin in the Greenwood by Paul Doherty, P.C Doherty book coverThis is another of the medieval mysteries featuring Hugh Corbett and I'm happy to say the books are improving as the series progresses.

This one is set in 1302 and includes a plot featuring Robin Hood. In the acknowledgements the author clarifies the true events the book is based on, and his research appears to be extremely thorough, referencing Folio Numbers from the British Library and records from the Public Office. His level of research and detail is precisely the reason I'm enjoying this historical fiction series so much.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
16 August 2008

Review: Behind the Bestsellers by Jenny Bond & Chris Sheedy

This non-fiction book was published in Australia, and provides an insight into 50 well-known books. It was really interesting to read the history behind some very famous books and learn about the struggle their authors often faced in their lives or in writing their novels.

Behind the Bestsellers by Jenny Bond & Chris Sheedy also includes some non-fiction books and overall was an insightful and rewarding read.

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who loves writing or reading and also to those who want a brief overview of the classics without having to read them in full.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!


I thought it was time to give my blog a facelift, so hope you all like the new template!!!

I'm certainly in the mood for change and I love it!

That's my four bucks!
14 August 2008

Review: Second Chance by Jane Green

Second Chance by Jane Green book coverThis book was recommended to be by someone at work, and I'm not looking forward to telling her I hated it! 

Second Chance was essentially about the following: a group of school friends lose touch, two of them marry the wrong man, one of the friends in the group dies prompting a get together. They all are having a mid life crisis of some kind, one of which involves adultery, one of which involves alcoholism, another involving an accidental pregnancy and another a divorce. At the end of the book, all the main characters have a happy ending and the book is all neatly tied up. Hardly realistic, and definitely not my sort of book. I don't enjoy romance books (elements of that here), I don't enjoy books where the character commits adultery (tick), and I don't enjoy books about regular people living their lives but having a nice happy ending written for them. Boring!

Having said all of that, I've noticed that Jane Green is a 'best selling author' and what I have gained from reading this book is the knowledge that I don't like her style and won't be picking up another of her books.

My rating = * (half a star)

Carpe Librum!

Review: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

I received this book as a Christmas gift several years ago, and I've always wanted to read it, so why has it taken me so long to pick it up? Well for a start, it's quite big, as it contains all 7 books in the Narnia series, including The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian. The second reason is that I assumed that being a children's classic, it would be difficult to read, in the same way that I found Lord of the Rings difficult.

Well, I decided it was a perfect book to take on the honeymoon, given I would have two weeks to get stuck into the story. Wow, what a shock!! I was hooked from the very first page, and enchanted by the author's writing style and the introduction of Narnia. It's very difficult not to compare it to the Harry Potter series, because the simple language and easy writing style is great for kids, and the imagination of the author is really sublime.

I was totally immersed in the story and enjoyed all the adventures. I realised after reading it that the religious undercurrent that this book is renowned for is there for the reader if they wish to delve deep, however they form part of the story and I very much doubt younger readers would even notice. In the same way that The Simpsons contains jokes for adults that can often go right over the head of children, so it is with the religious references in this classic.

Each of the 7 adventures incorporates a battle of good (usually in the name of Aslan the Lion who created Narnia) and evil, and it is really only at the end of the series that the religious overtones become quite obvious. I was quite moved at the end of the last book when I realised that the characters weren't in a new world, they were in Heaven, and the process that got them there was fascinating. The message I gained from Lewis was that if you lead a good life then your actions are in the name of the 'Good God' you will be accepted in Heaven regardless of whether you have worshipped that God in life.

You really have to read it to understand, but ultimately I can see why this book is a classic, and I can definitely see why it has captivated so many readers, children and adults alike.

I loved this book and can't recommend it highly enough to any reader.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
10 August 2008

Review: Murder Wears a Cowl by Paul Doherty, P.C. Doherty

Murder Wears a Cowl by Paul Doherty, P.C. Doherty book coverI did a fair bit of reading on the honeymoon, and managed to finish off another of the Hugh Corbett medieval mysteries. This story was set in 1302 and based on real events at Westminster Abbey. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the character development of Ranulf, Corbett's manservant.

I'm about half way through this series now, and looking forward to reading the next one.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

15 July 2008

Review: Stealing Shadows by Kay Hooper

Stealing Shadows by Kay Hooper book coverStealing Shadows was recommended to me by a friend, and I really enjoyed it. It is about a psychic who tries to help the police solve crimes by connecting to the minds of the killers. It was really well written and I enjoyed the quick pace and reading about the main character Cassie, the psychic.

I'd certainly read another of her books, my only problem now is deciding whether to add her remaining books to my TBR (to be read) pile.

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys TV shows such as Medium or who enjoys reading crime with a psychic or paranormal twist.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
01 July 2008

Review: The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

The Celestine Prophecy has been on my 'must read' list for many years, and I'm pleased to say I finally got around to it! It was very different to what I was expecting and was a thoroughly enjoying and spiritually moving read.

This book is similar to The Alchemist in that it's an adventure story surrounding a spiritual journey. The book begins with the discovery of a manuscript containing nine spiritual insights, which the reader learns as the story develops.

I found the nine insights fascinating and realistic in terms of spirituality and science. In fact, if humans on earth could live their lives according to these insights, we would see world peace and a sustainable life for the future. I found this book inspiring and uplifting, and I will try to apply the lessons I learned from Redfield's pages in my every day life.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
24 June 2008

Review: Shatter by Michael Robotham

Shatter by Michael Robotham book coverI was pleased to come across this Australian author while watching the ABC TV Show First Tuesday Book Club. Robotham was a guest and he mentioned something to the effect that his wife wouldn't speak to him after reading his last book as it was so 'scary'.

That was enough for me to hit the net and google his book Shatter and I came across the following passage:
"There is a moment when all hell disappears, all pride is gone, all expectation, all faith, all desire. I own that moment. It belongs to me. That's when I hear the sound, the sound of a mind breaking. It's not a loud crack like when bones shatter or a spine fractures or a skull collapses. And it's not something soft and wet like a heart breaking. It's a sound that makes you wonder how much pain a person can endure; a sound that shatters memories and lets the past leak into the present; a sound so high that only the hounds of hell can hear it."
Well, I've finished the book and I can say that this was above all the best passage, and one that I won't forget in a long time. However the remainder of the novel had all the ingredients of a best selling thriller by Koontz or Patterson but with a new writing style that I really enjoyed. The main character had Parkinson's disease which was interesting although the book sped along towards a predictable ending without any real twists. I would have liked to read more about the background of the 'killer' but I guess 'snippets' of information are what build the suspense.

All in all, I enjoyed my introduction to this Australian author, and I would certainly enjoy reading one of his novels over a James Patterson any day. I hope his popularity amongst book lovers continues to increase.

(I'm going to give him an extra star for the passage above).

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
07 June 2008

Review: The Death Chamber by Sarah Rayne

The Death Chamber by Sarah Rayne book coverI found out about this author in Good Reading Magazine and I was so glad I did! What appealed to me was that every book by this author has a haunting, creepy historical building, and she brings it to life in the book. This was very true in The Death Chamber where the focus of the story was Calvary Gaol.

The blurb on the back of the book doesn't really do it any justice. I enjoyed multiple plots interwoven with many twists and turns and a few surprises. I was left wanting to follow each of the plots further, but that was what kept me turning the pages into the night. In fact, one of the surprises had me going back to the start to read over a particular section. (In the same way you want to watch Sixth Sense again when you know the twist).

Based on the title of the book, you could be mistaken in thinking that this book will be full of bloodshed and carnage, but in fact it's not. Trust me, you don't need that to make you jump. Rayne does a magnificent job of describing the gaol, you almost feel like you're there.

I can't wait to read another of her books.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
30 May 2008

Review: The Prince of Darkness by Paul Doherty, P.C. Doherty

The Prince of Darkness by Paul Doherty, P.C. Doherty book coverThis is another in the series of medieval mysteries featuring Hugh Corbett. Set in 1301 Hugh Corbett is sent by King Edward to investigate the murder of Lady Belmont. With assassins and spies on his trail, Corbett is able to unravel the mystery and avoid triggering a civil war between King Edward and his son the Prince of Wales.

All the usual suspects are here, and this was another enjoyable 'whodunnit'. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
10 May 2008

Review: Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott

Firstly, let me make myself absolutely clear on this one: I hated this book!!

I was lured by promises of the 'seventeenth century and the story of Isaac Newton as an alchemist' the 'ghost-writing of an unfinished book', 'unexplained seventeenth-century deaths, a network of alchemists and a ghostly figure'.

I bought this hook, line and sinker and was really looking forward to an exciting read. Wow, what a disappointment. 

The narrator was addressing the story to a lover in the past tense (I think) and it kept jumping to the past and present, not including the visits to the seventeenth century. The attempt to make this story a thriller was a failure as far as I'm concerned. 

The basic plot idea was to insinuate that an acquaintance of Isaac Newton had fellows at Trinity College in Cambridge 'murdered' to allow Isaac to gain a fellowship. The book was going to publish this theory, and change history. As a result of a ghostly figure and her relationship with her lover, (who was married by the way, and I hate books containing adultery), she changed the ending and published a 'safer version'. Ugh, what a disappointment!

Ultimately a really crappy book, and a H-U-G-E disappointment. No wonder it took me so long to finish it.

My rating = *

Carpe Librum!
22 April 2008

Review: White Tiger by Kylie Chan

White Tiger by Kylie Chan book coverWhite Tiger was recommended to me by a friend, and I have to admit it's not one I would have selected myself. I don't know why, but I rarely read books that contain martial arts. Given that this book has a woman performing martial arts on the cover accompanied by Chinese lettering, I never would have picked it up.

Having said all of that though, I enjoyed White Tiger by Kylie Chan. What drew me in were the 'supernatural themes' and it was a surprise to me to find that I enjoyed the martial arts segments the most. Good and evil faced off in the form of gods and demons based on Chinese history and I enjoyed this aspect of the novel immensely.

I desperately wish Chan hadn't written in a romantic interest between the two main characters, ugh! The romance was unbelievable at times and disrupted the rhythm for me in an otherwise very exciting story.

This is the first novel in the Dark Heavens series by Chan, and although I'm very keen to find out what happens in the war, what will happen when Mr Chen takes true form and what happens when the ring 'wakes up', I'm hoping my friend will tell me so I can get on to the next book on my list.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum
04 April 2008

Review: The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman

The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman book coverI was able to do a lot of reading on the plane to and from Fiji, and I finished The Witch's Trinity on the way home to Melbourne.

This book is set in Germany in the 1500's during a period of great famine. It is about a woman who is caught up in a 'witch hunt' and it was unfortunately very easy to see how the 'witch hunt' could get completely out of control.

The book was a little confronting at times, but I really enjoyed reading about the day to day chores and way of life during this period. I also found it interesting to see how paganism, superstition and religion were practiced by the people in the village.

I really enjoyed this book.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker book coverDracula has been on my list of books to read for many years now, primarily because it's a 'horror' classic. Having read all of the vampire books by Anne Rice and being a huge fan of her writing style and her version of 'vampires' I have been reluctant to read any other books about vampires.

I know that Bram Stoker is the inspiration behind many of the vampire books today, but I imagined the book was going to be outdated and as unbearable as the old black and white film Dracula. In the way that Edgar Allan Poe was well known for his 'ghost stories' in his time, when you read his stories now, they're far from spooky. So you can imagine that I was shocked and excited to discover that despite being published in 1897, the novel is still quite creepy by today's standards.

I also didn't know that this classic novel is a compilation of letters and journal entries from the main characters. I thought that jumping from character to character and letter to journal without a sole narrator could hamper the pace of the plot but it actually enhanced the story and helped to build the suspense.

All in all, I really enjoyed Bram Stoker's Dracula, and I can certainly understand why it is a 'classic'.

I started this book before our trip to Fiji, and it didn't seem like quite the right book to read in the tropics, however I was so engrossed in the book I just had to pack it with me and finished it early on in the trip.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
16 March 2008

Review: The Angel of Death by Paul Doherty

The Angel of Death by Paul Doherty book cover
This is another medieval mystery by Paul Doherty in his series featuring the lead character Hugh Corbett. I'm slowly working my way through this series, and I'm thoroughly enjoying this literary journey.

Based on historical fact during the reign of Edward 1 of England in 1298, the plot captured my attention from the first page and the investigation into the poisoning of de Montfort during mass was riveting. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a medieval mystery or historical fiction.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
09 March 2008

Review: Embers by Sandor Marai

I'm often influenced to pick up a book based on the cover and the novel Embers was no exception. With a picture of a misty wrought iron gate and fence opening up into a leafy overgrown pathway (shown left), I was drawn to this book straight away.

Upon reading that this story is set in a forgotten castle I was sucked in immediately by the setting as well as the cover. Originally published in Hungary, it has now been translated into English. I won't spoil the story except to say it's about friendship and betrayal lasting 40 years. This isn't my usual preferred subject matter as I usually steer away from 'family drama' but this was a great read.

Embers is a quick and easy read, and I enjoyed it immensely.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

Review: 10,000 BC Movie

I just came back from seeing the new movie 10,000BC at the Jam Factory and I loved it!!! It was even better than I was expecting and the CGI was very convincing.

It had me on the edge of my seat a number of times. Go along and see it!

My rating = ****

That's my four bucks!
02 March 2008

Review: Duma Key by Stephen King

Duma Key by Stephen King book coverI was really looking forward to the release of this book and now it's everywhere! I bought mine at Borders for $12.95 but some book stores are selling it for over $30, what's going on there?

Needless to say I really enjoyed this book. It has the staple Stephen King supernatural theme, and there was one point in the book when I got such a fright, I exclaimed out loud!! The story follows the plight of a recovering accident victim who moves to Duma Key to make a new start in life. The book is a little long, but this only serves to build the story to an even greater climax.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to any Stephen King fans out there!

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
17 February 2008

Review: Double Cross by James Patterson

Double Cross by James Patterson book coverIn the latest James Patterson novel Alex Cross was faced with two killers. The plot was entertaining, however the relationship with his latest girlfriend was 'cringeworthy' and I hated reading all the inuendos and Patterson's pathetic attempt at romance. I think the character of Alex Cross is too old for sex, and I just wish Patterson could stick to the crime plot.

I was also annoyed by the lack of concern Cross showed for the safety of his family, even when it was revealed that they were under surveillance by one of the killers! This isn't new in the Alex Cross series though, as he always leaves the running of the household and raising of the children to 'Nana Mama'.

All in all, an entertaining read, and as always, I'm still compelled to read the next in the series.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!
07 February 2008

Review: Nostradamus by John Hogue

Nostradamus by John Hogue book coverI've always been fascinated by the predictions made by Nostradamus, and so I thought it was time to find out more. Born in 1503 and dying in 1566, it was interesting to learn he had been a doctor and had treated 100s of patients with the plague.

I always imagined Nostradamus saw visions of the future, however after reading John Hogue's book Nostradamus - A Life and Myth, I learned that he used many ancient and forbidden texts, conjuring tools, astrology and burned herbs in a meditative state to 'see into the future'. Nostradamus wrote his predictions in form of quatrains and printed an almanac for the year ahead that was widely read amongst the educated in France and across Europe.

This was a great read and I recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about the life of Nostradamus. If you're hoping to read his all his quatrains though, you'll need to track down The Complete Prophecies by John Hogue, which I might just have to do.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
27 January 2008

Review: When Ghosts Speak by Mary Ann Winkowski

I absolutely loved this book!! It is written by Mary Ann Winkowski who is the renowned paranormal investigator behind the tv show Ghost Whisperer. Winkowski can only see earthbound spirits - those that haven't crossed over into the light yet. This is different from mediums who can see spirits who have crossed over. I guess even paranormal gifts have their own categories. Her gift also includes being able to 'cross over' earthbound spirits by creating a white light and sending them into it, bringing the spirit peace.

This book is extremely well structured and very informative. With chapter headings such as: 'the truth behind ghosts' 'why some souls stay behind', 'animals' etc the book covers all aspects of earthbound spirits, from why they stay, to how to protect yourself from attracting them and how to get them to cross over. Winkowski relates particular cases to illustrate her point and she remains on topic. She even lists the most common places to find earthbound spirits, who feed off the energy of the living, and the most popular occupations for attracting earthbound spirits.

I could go on and on about this book, because I'm still thinking about it even though I finished it a few days ago, and some of the stories were very touching. Even if you're a non-believer, it would be hard not to be touched by the impact she has on people's lives and how she brings peace to so many spirits and people.

I thoroughly recommend this book.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!
20 January 2008

Review: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro book coverI was originally going to buy this book for my sister for Christmas, but wasn't quite sure that she would like it so I bought it for myself instead. It was my intention to lend it to her if it was a great read, however I think I'm still undecided.

This is the story of an ageing butler reminiscing on his times serving Lord Darlington between World War I and World War II.

This book won the Booker Prize but I must say that I was a little surprised at how slow it was in the beginning. The sections I enjoyed most in the book were the main character's memories of the day to day events and conversations in his role as butler of Darlington Hall. The language and dialogue in these sections were very formal and I enjoyed these immensely. I know my sister would enjoy these sections too, however the surrounding commentary could be a little slow in parts.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed the book, but not quite sure it was worthy of the Booker Prize.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
12 January 2008

Review: The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz book coverI was really excited when I read that Dean Koontz was releasing a new book involving golden retrievers. I was hoping a supernatural theme was going to make this thriller a real page turner. I'm glad to say I was right, although it was a slow start, and a very quick finish.

This novel had it's moments though and a twist I wasn't expecting, although I think the plot had more potential than what was realised. I hope it's not too long before the next Koontz hits the shelves.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!