22 November 2009

Review: Corpse Candle - Paul Doherty

This time Sir Hugh Corbett, Keeper of the King's Seal is sent by King Edward I to the abbey of St Martin's-in-the-Marsh to investigate the death of Abbot Stephen.

The death toll begins to escalate as the assassin murders other monks in the monastery and Hugh Corbett, Ranulf and Chanson investigate the killings whilst fending off threats to their own lives.

Doherty is able to create a creepy, cold and haunting atmosphere throughout the medieval mystery, with rumours of Sir Geoffrey Mandeville's ghost galloping through the fens and corpse candles glowing out in the marshes, which forewarn men of their own deaths.

Hugh Corbett arrives at the truth at the end, and all is revealed in the manner typical in this series. I enjoyed the character 'Brother Dunstan' the Treasurer for obvious reasons, and this was a good mystery. I'm slowly making my way to the end of the series, with this being the 13th in the series with 3 to go.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

Review: Hiding in the Shadows by Kay Hooper

Hiding in the Shadows by Kay Hooper book coverHiding in the Shadows by Kay Hooper is the second in the Shadows Trilogy and I must say I enjoyed the first one better, Stealing Shadowsrated 4 stars on this blog in July 2008.

This novel doesn't feature the main character from the first book, and in fact could be read as a stand alone. In this book Faith Parker has a car accident and has finally awoken from her coma without any memory of the crash, or her life before the accident.

Meanwhile, journalist Dinah Leighton has gone missing. Dinah regularly visited Faith in the hospital and made sure all her hospital bills and expenses were paid for, but Faith has no recollection of their friendship.

Not as chilling as the first in the series, this was nevertheless a good read.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

Review: The Journey by Brandon Bays

The Journey by Brandon Bays book coverThe Journey is a non-fiction book about self-healing and awareness. The author healed herself of a basketball sized tumour in her stomach, and then went on to help thousands of people 'heal' themselves of physical and emotional damage, taking each of them on their own 'journey'.

I found each of the personal stories extremely inspiring and moving, and it reaffirmed my belief that unresolved emotions can manifest themselves in a physical illness or ailment in the body. It also reaffirmed my belief that in some cases we can heal ourselves without heavy drugs or surgery.

Brandon Bays now runs healing workshops and many practitioners all around the world are trained in her techniques. I'm not sure I've been inspired so much as to seek one out but if it came across my path, I might consider going along.

I recommend this book to anyone who is suffering from a physical illness or ailment in the body, looking to open their mind about the healing options available and the power of the mind and body.

My rating = ***1/2

Carpe Librum!
12 November 2009

Review: Eifelheim by Michael Flynn

Eifelheim by Michael Flynn book coverThis book is best described as science fiction meets historical fiction and I absolutely loved it!

The book is set in two time periods, modern day and the late 1340's Germany. In the current day, Tom is a mathematical historian and has discovered an anomaly regarding settlement patterns in a particular area of Germany. According to his work, a town called Eifelheim was abandoned in the 14th Century and never re-settled which is extremely uncharacteristic. In fact, centuries later, the roads turned back on themselves and went out of their way to avoid the area.

Meanwhile, we are inserted into the daily lives of the inhabitants of Oberhochwald (as it was known back then) through the eyes of Pastor Dietrich. We learn quickly that this is the lead up to the abandonment of the town. Without ruining the story, there is a discovery of 'beings' living in the forest and the ever encroaching threat of the black plague.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from so many angles. I enjoyed unravelling the mystery with Tom and his partner Sharon, and following along as the drama unfolded at Oberhochwald.

I enjoyed pondering the different responses by the towns people to the events occurring and how different the behaviours, beliefs and values were in that time period in Europe. It was also fascinating comparing the technology of the beings to those of the time period, and also to what we know today.

The book had a satisfactory and solid conclusion, and I was still thinking about it days after finishing it, which is the mark of any great novel.

Highly recommended!

My rating = ****1/2

Carpe Librum!
10 November 2009

Review: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters book coverThe Little Stranger was written by UK based author Sarah Waters and is hailed as a ghost story set against the backdrop of the fall of the British class system following WWII. The story begins when Dr Faraday is called out to Hundreds Hall to tend to an ill servant who has just started working at Hundreds Hall. The Doctor begins to develop a relationship with the family, and strange things begin to happen from there.

The book takes a while to 'lift off' however I enjoyed the pace and the narrative kept me engrossed from the beginning. The portrayal of Hundreds Hall was enchanting, and I longed to walk through it's gardens and decaying rooms myself. In fact, I think I enjoyed this aspect of the novel the most. I wanted to explore the empty locked rooms, whisper down the speaking tube and ring the servants bells.

I couldn't help but find the lead female character a little annoying, as well as Dr Faraday, however this didn't distract me from enjoying the book as a whole.

I don't believe this novel works strongly as a 'ghost story', however the mystery certainly kept me quickly turning the pages in suspense. I was working up towards a climax and hoping for a Koontz or King moment towards the end, but was unfortunately let down. The end of the book is a little controversial and for those that enjoy an ambiguous ending, you'll love this book. It's fair to say I rarely enjoy an ambiguous ending to a novel or movie, and when I finished reading the book I instantly started scanning the internet for different opinions on the ending.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy the 'softer' side of a ghost story or a novel with a paranormal sub-plot, and those who enjoy a thought provoking and ambiguous conclusion.

My rating = ***1/2

Carpe Librum!