Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review: Elizabeth I by Margaret George

Elizabeth I

 Margaret George
Paperback:  688 pages
Viking Adult; 1St Edition edition (April 5, 2011)


★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

The book portrays Elizabeth I, the virgin queen of England. The story started when she was 50 years old until her death in 1603. All the historical account of Elizabeth's life were told from her own POV, which for me, made the book more interesting to read.

I tremendously enjoyed reading this book, thus the 5-star ratings above. Also loved the cast of characters - Sir Walter Raleigh, William Shakespeare, Sir Francis Drake, etc. I didn't realize how absorbed I was until I looked at the clock and realized hours had passed. However, I must warn you that this is a very LOOONG book which took me weeks to finish reading.

I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction. This is my first book by Margaret George and will definitely look out for her other books.

About the book:

New York Times bestselling author Margaret George captures history's most enthralling queen-as she confronts rivals to her throne and to her heart.

One of today's premier historical novelists, Margaret George dazzles here as she tackles her most difficult subject yet: the legendary Elizabeth Tudor, queen of enigma-the Virgin Queen who had many suitors, the victor of the Armada who hated war; the gorgeously attired, jewel- bedecked woman who pinched pennies. England's greatest monarch has baffled and intrigued the world for centuries. But what was she really like?

In this novel, her flame-haired, lookalike cousin, Lettice Knollys, thinks she knows all too well. Elizabeth's rival for the love of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and mother to the Earl of Essex, the mercurial nobleman who challenged Elizabeth's throne, Lettice had been intertwined with Elizabeth since childhood. This is a story of two women of fierce intellect and desire, one trying to protect her country, and throne, the other trying to regain power and position for her family and each vying to convince the reader of her own private vision of the truth about Elizabeth's character. Their gripping drama is acted out at the height of the flowering of the Elizabethan age. Shakespeare, Marlowe, Dudley, Raleigh, Drake-all of them swirl through these pages as they swirled through the court and on the high seas.

This is a magnificent, stay-up-all-night page-turner that is George's finest and most compelling novel and one that is sure to please readers of Alison Weir, Philippa Gregory, and Hilary Mantel.

About the author:

Margaret George specializes in epic fictional biographies of historical figures, taking pains to make them as factually accurate as possible without compromising the drama. Her THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF HENRY VIII will have its 25th anniversary this September, and continues to be popular. ABC-TV based its 1999 Emmy-nominated "Cleopatra" miniseries on her THE MEMOIRS OF CLEOPATRA. All of her books have been bestsellers, with twenty-one foreign translations.

Margaret's father was in the Foreign Service and so she lived overseas for her early life, in such different places as tropical Taiwan, desert Israel, and cold war Berlin, all of which were great training for a novelist to be. She started writing 'books' about the same time as she could write at all, mainly for her own entertainment. It was a diversion she never outgrew. Her published works are: THE AUTOBIOGAPHY OF HENRY VIII, MARY QUEEN OF SCOTLAND AND THE ISLES, THE MEMOIRS OF CLEOPATRA, MARY CALLED MAGDALENE, HELEN OF TROY, ELIZABETH I, and an illustrated children's book, LUCILLE LOST.

Margaret lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and Washington DC, and has a sextagenarian tortoise as a pet.


I received a review copy of this book free from the publisher, Viking Adult. The review posted above is based on my personal thoughts while reading the book.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Follow Friday and Blogger Hop

It's been a month since the last time I joined the hop... arrrghhh.. wish I could do this often!!
If you want to join the fun,
visit Parajunkee's view and Crazy for Books for the linky . . . .

Book Blogger Hop

“Highlight one book you have received this week (for review, from the library, purchased at the store, etc.) that you can’t wait to dig into!”

Received a month ago...
MERCIFUL by Casey Adolfsson.

One more book to read and MERCIFUL is next!

About the book:

At 17 years old, Acacia Moirgetes is starting to feel like her boring, lonely existence is something of a tragedy. A Greek tragedy, that is. Acacia quickly learns that the life she thought she knew is a lie. More disturbingly, it’s a lie she’s been telling herself to avoid the terrible truth. Now she’s on a mission to corral the Greek gods of myth back to Mount Olympus before all Hades breaks loose. With the help of her guide, a curmudgeonly former goat named Amal, and her two Pyroskia— devastatingly handsome bodyguards, Blaise and Ash, whose devotion to Acacia runs deeper than either ever imagined—Acacia must follow the truth to its darkest ends. Along the way, she’ll have to recover her forgotten powers, come to terms with the woman she once was, and perhaps most importantly, discover why she left Olympus in the first place. Love, betrayal and mercy come to the fore in Merciful, an epic fantasy novel for young adults.

"Let's Step Away From Books For A Second And Get Personal. What T-Shirt Slogan Best Describes You?"
Well, right now definitely it would be:
family. work. school. book. blog. sleep.
Argghh... you see my priorities?  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bloodlines Teaser #2 - Eddie Castile

Wish Eddie would have happy ending, he deserves to have a happy ending! I would really want Eddie to be with Jill and Adrian with Sydney. I'm so excited! I want this book now!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Guest Author: JC Andrijeski

So last night, I got back from meditating for 10 days at the Tushita Dharma Center, just above Dharamkot in North India.
It seemed like the right thing to do.
I’d moved to India exactly two months earlier, from the United States. I’d also just finished the draft of my fourth book in the urban fantasy series I’ve been working on, and while I was feeling pretty good in the afterglow of having completed that initial word vomit, the manuscript was a bit of a monster, coming in at around 195K words (which, for those non-writers out there, is really damned long).
I knew I’d be a lot better off, and that the book definitely would be, too, if I set the manuscript aside for a little bit and did something else with my brain before I tried to tackle anything resembling an edit.
So, essentially on a whim, I signed up for a Tibetan Buddhism for Beginners intensive, a 10-day “silent” meditation retreat. This was jokingly referred to as the “Club Med” retreat, as compared to the Vipassana Center next door, which threw you out on your ear is you didn’t maintain silence and had you sitting for about 10 hours out of 15 hour days, starting at four am when they woke you with loud gongs over your bed.
Meditation isn’t wholly new to me. I’ve been doing it for over ten years now, and at times practiced it pretty obsessively. I still meditate every morning, although sometimes I do a lot better at this than others. Sometimes, in fact, I’m just sitting there, doing the equivalent of humming a pithy little tune in my head, mainly to avoid going there.
But mostly…mostly…I do better than this.
The Buddhist version is new to me however, apart from a few silent Zen retreats I did in Oregon when I lived there (retreats that actually were silent). The Tibetan Buddhist version, I’d never done at all, unless you count the short meditations we did with the Dalai Lama when I’ve been lucky enough to hear him teach.
I don’t. Count those, I mean.
This would be different. I would actually be learning a whole new style of meditation, and I assumed there would be discussions of theory and philosophy so forth.
To the latter point, this was a vast, vast underestimation on my part.
During those ten days, in fact, I felt like I’d been transported back to college.
Our teacher, a rather stoic but likeable Australian who’d spent seven years studying Buddhism full time (and a lot longer than that practicing), crammed so much into those lectures that everyone was wiped out by the end of them. I ended up having to spend time frantically writing my thoughts about what he’d said during the breaks, as there was no time for anything but taking straight notes while he spoke, even though he wrote the main concepts on the whiteboard and provided us with reading.
The class erupted a few times, too.
For those who aren’t familiar with Buddhist philosophy, it can be challenging for a Western mind. Especially a Western mind that hasn’t ever really ventured outside the basic doctrines of materialism, meaning where the whole concept of the lack of an independent self and/or the lack of a non-dependent world is going to just blow your mind.
Intellectually I struggled at times, too. I got a fair bit of it from having meditated in the past and experienced some of the states they were describing, but a large number of the people in the room hadn’t ever meditated before, so they were basically coming straight from the theoretical side, and it got pretty heated.
To the teacher’s credit, I never once saw him react. Not once. And there were people practically shouting at him. I was totally impressed with his compassion, his willingness to listen to (at times) patently absurd arguments and answer them straight, as well as his overall calm.
Funnily enough, I found out later that others in the class found him “cold.”
That cracked me up…especially considering the guy in front of me, who had no qualms about lying down and reading a book during some of the lectures, came late to meditations, and/or took a little beauty nap sprawled out in the middle of the gompa (temple). I kept thinking how he would have been hauled out the door by his ear by most of the meditation teachers I’ve had…and frankly, by me, too, if I’d been teaching him.
For the most part, it was a very smart, engaged group though. They threw Kant into the mix, discussed the difference between Buddhism and various other philosophies, Buddhism and Hinduism, and for the most part were open to a real debate, not just a wank…meaning, most were really trying to understand, not just looking for an excuse to exert their previous point of view. Even so, there were casualties. The class started off with over 90 people in it. A number of them left after the first few days, and I think the final tally was closer to 65-69 people.
And the silence thing? Hmm. Let’s just say that the majority of people tried. Mostly.
As for me, it’s almost too soon to be able to say much about how it affected me, in terms of the overall. I had some intense experiences, for sure. The land where the meditation center lives is beautiful, and even the monsoon was a character in the intensive in many ways, as well as the monkeys, who were pretty funny at times. A fair number of long-term meditators live there in huts, and also in an adjacent part of the mountain we visited owned by the same center. Some of those people have been meditating full time on emptiness and the nature of existence for over 20 years, and the silence in that forest was one of the most profound things I’ve ever experienced.
So in terms of how all of that affected me, I may not know for a little while.
I did realize the value of stepping away from a book after writing it however, and really looking at what you’re doing, from more of an outsider’s perspective.
During the intensive, I found myself getting really excited about coming back to writing, in fact, if only because somewhere in all that sitting and watching my breath, and/or watching my thoughts and grappling with the concepts of compassion and emptiness and dependent arising, I remembered what I liked about the story and the characters in the first place.
More than that, I remembered who I was, under all of the craziness of moving to the other side of the world to write full time, why I wanted to leave corporate work in the first place and what drew me to see more of the world in general and Asia in particular.
Next time I finish a book, I might even go full-bore masochist and hop next door to the Vipassana folks, see if I can blow my mind even further before I move on to the next project.
At the very least, it should be quieter.

~ JC Andrijeski writes novels, short stories, nonfiction essays and articles, as well as the occasional graphic novel or screenplay. She currently lives and works in McLeod Ganj, India, where she writes full time. She can be found at

Bookingly yours book review of Rook: Allie's War Book One, click HERE

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Succubus Revealed Chapter 1

Yay, another Richelle Mead book coming out in August. I have just read the first chapter and I realized I am missing Georgie and the whole gang soooo much! Here's the first chapter to the last book in the Succubus Series. Enjoy!

This wasn’t the first time I’d worn a foil dress.  It was, however, the first time I’d done so in a family-friendly setting.


Santa’s voice rang out above the mall crowd, and I hurried away from where I’d been corralling a group of Burberry-clad kids.  It wasn’t actually Santa Claus calling me, of course.  The man sitting in the holly-and-light bedecked gazebo was named Walter something-or-other, but he asked that those of us working as his “elves” refer to him as Santa at all times.  Conversely, he had christened all of us with either reindeer or Seven Dwarves names.  He took this job very seriously and said the names helped him stay in character.  If we questioned that, he’d start regaling us with tales of his extensive career as a Shakespearean actor, one that he claimed had come to an end because of his age.  We elves had our own ideas about what might have cut his career short.

“Santa needs another drink,” he told me in a stage whisper, once I reached his side. 

“Grumpy won’t get me one.”  He inclined his head toward another woman dressed in a green foil dress.  She was holding back a squirming boy while Santa and I conducted our conversation.  I met her pained expression and then glanced down at my watch.

“Well, Santa,” I said, “that’s because it’s only been an hour since the last one.  You know the deal: one shot in your coffee every three hours.”

To continue reading, click HERE

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bloodlines: First Teaser Trailer

Did you just hear Dimitri's voice? He's supposed to have deep Russian accent right? AND... he should look god... but he looks creepy in this video. I like Adrian though. Sydney looks okay and Rose? Not the Rose I have in mind.


I wasn’t free of my past, not yet. 

Sydney’s blood is special. That’s because she’s an alchemist—one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives. But the last encounter Sydney had with vampires got her in deep trouble with the other alchemists. And now with her allegiances in question, her future is on the line. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she’s still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir—the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir—is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill’s guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the unlikeliest of places—a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. The last thing Sydney wants is to be accused of sympathizing with vampires. And now she has to live with one.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Guest Author: Clare O'Donohue

            My newest novel, my fourth, is also the start of a new direction for me. My other series, Someday Quilts, is a gentler, more innocent series. The kind of books I love when I’m looking for an escape.
            Missing Persons isn’t an escape. Not really. My main character, Kate Conway, is a freelance television producer who lies to get the story she needs for the true crime show she produces. She’s human enough to feel bad about manipulating people, but she has a mortgage to pay. Her about to be ex-husband, Frank, has left her for another woman, a nicer woman, and Kate has wrapped herself in sarcastic bitterness to get through it. And then Frank dies.
I really liked the idea of putting a character in this situation. Let’s face it, when a relationship ends badly there is a tendency on the part of friends, family and the break-ee, to see the worst in the other person. Suddenly, everyone is telling you that he was never good enough for you, or no one liked her. You focus on the bad stuff and feel better because of it. But when someone dies, it’s just the opposite. In death, people are perfect. They were special.. they were saints… the love you shared was envied by everyone.
How fun for a writer to have a character deeply invested in all that was bad about her husband when the narrative suddenly shifts. The Frank that everyone said was a louse is now remembered as the ideal husband. Kate is too smart and self-aware to leap from one extreme to the other. She remembers the bad stuff, but she also remembers the good. Realizing she may still love a man now permanently out of reach is bad enough, but Kate has another problem. Frank’s girlfriend Vera, a helpful, kind woman who only knows the good about Frank, wants to be friends. It’s enough to put Kate nearly over the edge.
Kate becomes both suspect and investigator of Frank’s death, and that’s just in her off hours. She has to produce an exploitive crime TV show about Theresa Moretti, a seemingly innocent 22-year-old nursing student who disappeared the year before.  
I realized after I wrote the first draft that maybe what Kate is looking for - beyond an explanation for the death of her husband and the disappearance of Theresa - is closure. Closure is, at least as far as I can tell, that elusive, and probably non-existent, end to a relationship in which both parties feel sad but complete. The questions are answered, the anger is put to rest, and everyone goes on, wiser for having known one another.
It sounds great. But do any of us get to say goodbye in a way that really feels as though everything’s been said? I don’t think I’ve ever really had that moment. No matter the reason, when someone who used to be in our lives isn’t anymore, there are “what ifs”, there are empty spaces. Maybe as time has gone by, the pain dulls and the loss feels more bearable, but I wouldn’t call it closure. I’d call it getting on with life.
Kate, in her jaded, sarcastic way, just wants to do that. She wants to go back to a life of take-out Chinese and watching re-runs on the couch. She wants to put her memories of Frank in a neat little box, and keep them from hurting her anymore.
For her that means finding all the answers she can, and living with the questions that will forever remained unanswered. No one, least of all Kate, wants to be living through this mess, but as a writer, it’s just the most wonderful place to be. 

 Bookingly Yours review of Missing Persons read here

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bloodlines First Chapter Up!!

Yay, the most awaited first chapter. . . . . enjoy reading! Bloodlines by Richelle Mead, Chapter 1

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book Review: Missing Persons: A Kate Conway Mystery by Clare O'Donohue

Missing Persons: 
A Kate Conway Mystery

 Clare O'Donohue
Paperback:  288 pages
Plume; 1 edition (May 31, 2011)


★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

After more than fifteen years together, 
Kate Conway's husband, Frank, left her for another woman, an older woman. Not long after Frank left her, he suddenly died and since the doctor could not tell what Frank died from, the homicide detectives are thinking that Frank was murdered and Kate was the primary suspect. 

I really enjoyed reading this book, the story was well-written. This is a page turner, the moment I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. I was reading it fast because I want to know what really happened with Frank. Was it Kate who murdered Frank or was it Vera, his fiancee'? I also enjoyed the other story regarding the disappearance of Theresa Moretti. The witty dialogue made it better than those other mystery novels I've read in the past. I laughed and cried with Kate, the author did a great job in presenting the main character. If you're looking for a great mystery novel, try this and you won't be disappointed.

About the book:

The debut of an exciting new mystery series featuring a funny, but cynical television producer turned amateur sleuth.

The cause of death is "undetermined," but the cops peg Chicago television producer Kate Conway as the main suspect when her soon-to-be ex-husband, Frank, is found dead. To make matters worse-and weirder- Frank's new girlfriend suddenly wants to be friends.

Happy for the distraction, Kate throws herself into a new work assignment for the television program Missing Persons: the story of Theresa Moretti, a seemingly angelic young woman who disappeared a year earlier. All Kate wants is a cliché story and twenty-two minutes of footage, but when the two cases appear to overlap, Kate needs to work fast before another body turns up-her own.

About the author:

I was born in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of four children. My parents are both from Ireland, but they met in London, moved to the US, and settled on Chicago’s South Side, where I was born and raised.

I always knew I wanted to be a writer and in fact wrote my first novel (mini-novel actually. It was 60 pages) when I was 15. It was a mystery. After college I worked as a newspaper reporter and writing teacher before moving to LA and getting my first job in television. That was on the HGTV show, Simply Quilts.

I worked on the show for four seasons, eventually becoming the Supervising Producer, but I’ve written and produced for a lot of other shows as well. In the last twelve years, I’ve worked on shows for The History Channel, truTV, Food Network, A&E, Discovery, TLC, and others. My work has taken me all across the US and abroad and I’ve met a diverse group of people – from CEO’s to prison inmates, Malaysian orphans to famous athletes.

But all along I thought about writing a novel. I still loved mysteries so I finally sat down to write one. And lucky for me, I had the time. There’s a lot of what we in the freelance world like to call downtime, but is more commonly known as unemployment. Since I wasn’t earning any money, I also had motivation to write something that could catch the interest of a publisher.

And, luckily, I did. In 2008 I published The Lover’s Knot, the first in the Someday Quilts series. Now I’ve added A Drunkard’s Path and The Double Cross. And in the fall of 2011, The Devil’s Puzzle.

With the release of Missing Persons, I’m launching a new, edgier mystery series; one that gives an inside look at the world of television. It deals with murder, friendship, and love, just like Someday Quilts, but from a very different viewpoint.

It’s been an amazing few years and hopefully it’s just the beginning. Thanks for being a part of it.



I received a review copy of this book free from the publisher, Plume Books. The review posted above is based on my personal thoughts while reading the book.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Yay Bloodlines Book #2 title and coverart

"Bloodlines" has yet to come out this August and Richelle Mead has already posted the title of the second book and yay also the coverart!! Loved it!! That's Jill and Sydney! 

Questions regarding Bloodlines? Click HERE

Also, here's the exclusive mini-interview video of Richelle Mead. Seriously, I need to have free time when the book comes out on August 23 :( that means I have to finish reading my TBR all before August!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Review: Rook: Allie's War, Book One by JC Andrijeski

Title:  Rook: Allie's War, Book One
Author:  JC Andrijeski
Paperback:  408 pages
CreateSpace (February 11, 2011)


★ ★  

My thoughts:

The government has discovered another species, called the seers. They look humans only with super powers. The government is using them as weapons in wars, when not fighting they are treated as slaves wearing collars like dogs. 

I actually am not sure how to rate this book. I am in between rating this 2-star or 4-star. 4-star mainly because I enjoyed the story especially the main characters Allie and Revik along with the secondary characters Cass and Jon. I am considering 2-star because as soon as the sarks and seers were introduced, I began skimming. It's like how I reacted when I watched the movie Avatar. I loved the story (even watched it twice) but there were things I just couldn't understand there. In this book, although the story was interesting, I had a hard time understanding the seers and their powers. Overall, it was a good story, I would still recommend this book to all sci-fi lovers out there. 

About the book:

"You are the Bridge..." Twenty-eight-year-old San Francisco native, Allie Taylor, knew she had issues…but she at least thought she was human. In her version of modern day Earth, a second race of human-like beings called seers were discovered in Asia in the early 1900s. Since then, they have fought in two world wars and live alongside humans as second-class citizens. So when Allie meets her first, real, flesh-and-blood seer, she's not exactly thrilled when he tells her that she's a seer like him. Not only that, but according to him, all the other seers believe she's going to end the world. Worse, no matter what she does, everything that happens after that only seems to prove him right. - Amazon

About the author:

JC Andrijeski has lived or spent considerable time in India, Vancouver BC, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Portland, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, San Diego, Prague, London, Berlin, Sydney and Swinoujscie, Poland. She currently lives in McLeod Ganj, India, where she writes full time and does volunteer work. For more information about her and her writing, visit


I received a review copy of this book free from the author, JC Andrijeski. The review posted above is based on my personal thoughts while reading the book.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Guest Author: Kathleen Gerard

Happy Independence Day!

The aim of fiction is often to make a character change - and sometimes grow. At the beginning of my novel, IN TRANSIT, Rita Del Vecchio, the protagonist, is a rather naive, 20-something young girl. She feels stalled in her life, working as a waitress. But when a psychic in a shopping mall reads her Tarot cards and suggests that she is "destined for greatness" and she will "marry a man in uniform," Rita sets out on a quest to become a New York City Police Officer.

What I envisioned for the arc of Rita's character was her coming of age and learning about the "real" world by living her life - and falling in love. But in order to make her character change and grow, I needed something to butt up against her naivete - something to serve in direct contrast to her innocence. Often, the most painful experiences and challenges in life are the ones that foster growth and maturity. That's what led me to weave the chilling realities of domestic abuse into the narrative. Some of the violent scenes in the novel made me, even as the writer, cringe and feel sad. I didn't want this fate to befall Rita, but those aspects of the story, and Rita's ultimate need to liberate and save herself, are essential to Rita's growth as a character.

In order to more fully engage the reader and ratchet up the tension, I decided to structure IN TRANSIT in such a way that the reader is privy to more details than the protagonist. For Rita Del Vecchio, love is blind. She meets many men in uniform in the NYPD. And she falls in love with someone she thinks is wonderful, but the reader knows better - that the man she loves is actually leading a double life. It is that double-life that creates tension that ultimately seeps into the fabric of the couple's relationship until "Mr. Wonderful" becomes "Mr. Not-So Wonderful."

What will it take to make this couple stay together? What will drive them apart? And do we ever really know people? Do we even know ourselves? These are the very questions that are raised by reading IN TRANSIT...

Today is July 4th, INDEPENDENCE DAY, the day that we, in the United States, celebrate the emancipation of our country from the ties of England. In our own lives, just like in the life of Rita Del Vecchio from IN TRANSIT, we all have our own, personal Independence Days - people and situations which force us to make decisions that will ultimately change us and force us to grow. What are the great lessons of your life and what have you learned from them? Are you a better person because of those experiences? We encourage you to share your stories with us.

To learn more about Kathleen Gerard and IN TRANSIT--and to read more details about the story behind the story--visit
Copyright 2011 by Kathleen Gerard. All Rights Reserved.

Information about Domestic Abuse:
Domestic abuse is widespread. According to U.S. FBI reports, husbands and boyfriends kill approximately 1,500 women a year. And in any given year 2,000,000 men beat their wives/girlfriends. Children in these homes are also at high risk to be battered and injured.

If you are suffering abuse, please know that YOU (and your loved ones) ARE NOT ALONE! There is help out there!
1.800.799.SAFE (7233)
1.800.787.3224 (TTY)
Anonymous & Confidential Help 24/7

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