28 November 2011

Review: The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

The House on Tradd Street by Karen White book cover
The House on Tradd Street is about Melanie Middleton, successful young realtor living in Charleston, South Carolina. She is one of the most successful women in the business, prefers order, lives in a modern condo and ignores her ability to see 'ghosts'.

During her visit to a client, Mr. Vanderhorst, at his historic residence on Tradd Street she notices a female ghost in the garden. Her discussion with him doesn't go to schedule, however she finds herself warming to the old man. She is shocked to hear a few days later that he has passed away, and stunned to learn that he has left his historic crumbling house to her in his will.

The house must be lived in for at least 12 months, cannot be sold, and funds have been left for renovation and restoration. Melanie enlists help from within her network of friends who are thrilled at the opportunity to see inside the Vanderhorst house and assist with the restoration.

The house comes with a mystery that Melanie wants to solve for Mr. Vanderhorst: the disappearance of his mother at an early age. Enter Jack Trenholm who claims to be writing a book about the mystery.

This easy to read novel is primarily a mystery, with clues hidden in the past, and sub plots featuring historic restoration, a romantic interest and Melanie feeling several 'presences' in the house. The House on Tradd Street by Karen White was a light hearted read, and I enjoyed it very much.

My rating = ***1/2

Carpe Librum!
25 November 2011

Review: The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill

The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill book cover
The Butterfly Cabinet is the debut novel from female Irish author, Bernie McGill. It's the weaving together of two stories.  The first is the story of Harriet, lady of the house at Oranmore, which Harriet describes as follows:

"To me, it has always looked, and still looks, like a house playing at being a castle."

Harriet is the mother of many children however her hobby is collecting butterflies, which she studies, pins and preserves in her cabinet - after which the novel takes its name.

Maddie was a former nanny at Oranmore, and the reader meets her when she is ready to let go of a secret she's been holding onto for decades. She is talking with Anna, the last child she looked after - now married and expecting a child of her own.  

McGill take us back to Dublin in the late 1890s to share Harriet's personal thoughts after the death of her daughter and what happens when she is found responsible. Chapters from Maddie's perspective take place in 1968.

The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill book coverThis novel felt quite similar to Gillespie and I by Jane Harris, but unfortunately wasn't as good. I felt that the 'secret' or the climax that the novel was building towards wasn't as satisfying at the end as I was hoping it could have been.

In terms of character development, I was most interested in Harriet's character. She was not a natural mother, she had unusual thoughts on parenting, and this got her into trouble and ultimately a prison sentence. (This isn't a spoiler by the way, it's in the blurb).

I was divided about which book cover to post in this review so I ended up posting both. I like the haunting blue one (pictured right) depicting Oranmore, although it's interesting to see two very different cover designs for the same book.

There were gothic elements within The Butterfly Cabinet, and I'm glad I could include it in my Gothic Reading Challenge.

Ultimately, the plot was there and it had potential to be so much more, but I was a little disappointed.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!
22 November 2011

New novel from Anne Rice: The Wolf Gift

I've just stumbled across the best literary news ever! Anne Rice - one of my favourite authors of all time - is publishing a new book in February 2012, entitled The Wolf Gift.  

According to Amazon, it's:
"A whole new world - modern, sleek, high-tech."
I'm so excited!  I can't wait to immerse myself in her new world and find out what awaits me there.

Who's going to join me?

That's my four bucks!
21 November 2011

Review: The Reality Slap by Dr Russ Harris

The Reality Slap by Dr Russ Harris book cover
I first came across the work of Dr Russ Harris when I started listening to his 'Mindfulness of the Breath' CD. I've had great success with his CD so I was looking forward to reading one of his many books, The Reality Slap.

A 'Reality Slap' can be something that happens in life like an illness, fire, bankruptcy, divorce or loss of a loved one. Dr Russ Harris is an Australian and I responded immediately to his down to earth writing style, and he gave me much food for thought.  

I guess you could call The Reality Slap a self-help book, however it's definitely a book with a difference! Dr Harris acknowledges the 'internal chatter' that readers experience, and that some readers will struggle with the content. Somehow he manages to gently leads us through, even sharing lessons he has learned in his own life struggles, endearing himself to the reader even further.

I also enjoyed the list of 60 Life Values in Appendix 5, which was an interesting exercise to work through.

Highly recommended!

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

P.S. I sent a copy of my review to the author, and I was thrilled that he took time out to write back, having this to say:

"Thank you for this lovely feedback, Tracey. You have made my day. Good luck with your ongoing journey.
All the best,
Russ Harris 
13 November 2011

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness book cover
I'd been looking forward to reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness for a long time, however I'm sorry to say that it didn't live up to all of my expectations.

According to the blurb, it's:
"A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together."
I pretty much go weak at the knees at the word 'manuscript' and I'd been looking forward to reading this book for a while.

Diana Bishop is a scholar, a witch and the main character of the novel.  She is studying alchemy in ancient texts and manuscripts (another reason I wanted to read this book) from the famous Bodleian Library in Oxford.

On a side note, I love collecting bookmarks, and when I was selecting a bookmark to use when reading Discovery of Witches, I chose a bookmark with an image of ancient manuscripts on the front, knowing the references contained in the novel.  However, I didn't know that the main character would be studying at the Bodleian Library and would you believe it, the image on my bookmark was from the Bodleian Library, and the back of the bookmark had some info about the Library; what a weird coincidence!

Sadly, that was the most excitement I had whilst reading this book.  Sure, I enjoyed the sections written in Oxford, where Diana was studying alchemy and the illuminated texts.  I enjoyed the discussions of history and the passing of time when Diana met the centuries-old vampire, however what spoiled the novel for me was the romance.  There was just too much!  The book was dripping with romance, and if I'd known what was in store or how much, I probably would have given this one a miss.

I was in a three star frame of mind until Diana - who was in love with a vampire - referred to the vampire's 'son,' who was a couple of hundred years old as her own son, ugh! Ridiculous!!

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!
01 November 2011

Celebrating 13,000 hits!

I'm extremely pleased to announce that: 

My Four Bucks has now surpassed 

13,000 hits!

Many thanks to my loyal readers, bookworms and fellow book-lovers. I hope you'll continue to enjoy my reviews, interviews and bookish news.

Happy Reading!