Monday, August 03, 2009

July Reading Round Up

The Spymaster's Lady/ Joanna Bourne
Annique Villiers, the elusive spy known as the Fox Cub, has outwitted, outmaneuvered and outfoxed every man she's ever met, until British spymaster Robert Grey steps into a French prison. Grey's mission is to capture the Cub and uncover exactly what she knows and who she works for. As enemies, they hate one another; as fellow prisoners they must band together to escape. Their truce is filled with suspicion, but there's also a spark of something more -- a forbidden passion that threatens their missions. As they flee through the countryside, pursued by enemies left and right, their tense alliance hangs on a thread. Surrounded by deception, piled-on secrets and heaped-on lies that go back decades, Grey and Annique become a force to be reckoned with in a world gone mad. ~ from the blurb
I read this one on the recommendation of another author whose work I admire. It was okay but I don't think I'll bother with any more of the series. It was quite well written for the genre (bodice ripper) but I think I've moved on from this style now because it doesn't grab me anymore.

Eleven on top/ Janet Evanovich
Stephanie decides to retire from her job as a bounty hunter as it is too eventful, and look for a "normal' kind of job. However this isn't as simple as it seems, and when she finds she is being stalked by a maniac who is intent on killing her, she takes a job in security to get the technical access she needs to find her stalker. Tempers and temperatures rise as competition ratchets up between the two men in her life - her on-again, off-again boyfriend, tough Trenton cop Joe Morelli and her badass boss, Ranger. Can Stephanie take the heat?~from the blurb
I used to enjoy this series and find them funny but again, I think I've moved on because I found myself rolling my eyes a lot...

World without end /Ken Follett
World Without End takes place in the same town of Kingsbridge, two centuries after the townspeople finished building the exquisite Gothic cathedral that was at the heart of The Pillars of the Earth. The cathedral and the priory are again at the centre of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and revenge, but this sequel stands on its own. This time the men and women of an extraordinary cast of characters find themselves at a crossroad of new ideas about medicine, commerce, architecture, and justice. In a world where proponents of the old ways fiercely battle those with progressive minds, the intrigue and tension quickly reach a boiling point against the devastating backdrop of a natural disaster - the Black Death. ~from the blurb
I started out with reasonably high hopes about this one, which were slowly knocked down the closer I got to the end. In fact, I gave up and skimmed the last few chapters. Follett writes well and creates intricate scenarios and plot but I kept getting annoyed with one of the main protagonists which is more a reflection of me than anything!

Acqua Alta / Donna Leon
Commissaro Guido Brunetti of the Venice Questura is shocked to hear that his friend Brett Lynch has been savagely beaten in her own home. Then, with the storm clouds gathering fast over the city, a man's body is found and a terrible confrontation still awaits Brett. ~from the blurb
Crime & mystery set in Venice... really enjoy this series, this one was no exception. :)

Lord John and the hand of devils / Diana Gabaldon
The three mystery-adventure novellas of this volume span 1756 to 1758, in settings packed with dark secrets—and therefore dangers—for the soldier-hero with secrets of his own. The first novella finds Lord John swearing vengeance in London for a murdered government official, leading him to a deconsecrated abbey where members of the political elite indulge their basest desires. The second pits Lord John against a succubus that plagues his Prussian encampment, and combines humour with military strategy and supernatural myth. The third, most complex narrative finds Lord John investigating the cause of a cannon explosion in the English countryside that results in a fellow officer's death. ~from the blurb
Very much enjoyed this one - Lord John is an interesting character with wit and sufficient depth to capture my attention. I liked the last short story the best. Gabaldon has (so far) never failed to entertain and delight me. She's coming to New Zealand this year as part of the launch for her latest in the Outlander series and I hope to somehow get her to sign my copy. :)

May's Book Circle: The 19th Wife/ David Ebershoff

Thanks to Emma who lent me her copy! :)

The complex history of polygamy in the Mormon Church intertwines the story of Ann Eliza Young, the nineteenth and final wife of Brigham Young, who in 1875 leaves her husband and embarks on crusade to end polygamy, and a modern-day murder mystery in which a polygamous man has been found dead and one of his wives is accused of the crime.

I enjoyed this one a lot. Some of the modern-day mystery felt liked it jumped too easily from each clue but I enjoyed the character development of the story teller, Jordan. I also enjoyed the historical aspect of the Ann Eliza story though some aspects of her character weren't particularly likable. I'm always intrigued by stories of groups who pioneered the settlement of the western United States so that element of the book also piqued my attention.

They say the best stories are those that are about some sort of conflict and this one has heaps of it. The complexity of a polygamous relationship and the way it affects the whole "family" has been portrayed rather starkly and is quite disturbing. The thing that made me uncomfortable was the way the church leaders cloaked their own personal desires by claiming to be moved by God... the sad path to hypocrisy. Still, I'd recommend the book.

You can read the other reviews by leaping off from the links in this post.

Some cards I made last week with my new Basic Grey stamps.


  1. Absolutely gorgeous cards Penny. Neat stamps :-)
    And WOW ... haven't been into your blog for a while and look at the fancy new look! :-) Cool. (You've been busy heheee)

  2. Same thought as you about The 19th Wife - Ifinally got the July book about 3 days before the end of the month. Love reading your reviews - you read way more than me each month - I average about 3 books. Need more time. Really enjoying tackling the Book Club books as most of them I would have passed by.

  3. Nice cards! And intereting to read your book reviews