Of late, I've been spreading my reading wings a lot. I have more or less given romance a break, reading them in between other novels. One of those "other novels" I read was this wonderful mystery by Ruth Ware. I had not read anything by this author before, but of course she was not entirely unknown to me. And I have to say, this novel proved for some very interesting reading.

My Rating: ❀'s
Genre: Mystery
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I think what I liked most was the main character. Hal was so compelling. Young, alone, broke, targeted by thugs she owes money to, she is such a desperate character. She has no idea what to do next, and few choices. And then, suddenly, some money falls into her lap.

Although, Hal knows the money cannot possibly be meant for her. Still, she is desperate enough to seek to claim it, convincing herself that accepting a small bequeath can do little harm.

The story from here naturally becomes twisted up. Hal has to be so careful not to give herself away. And the people she is with, her supposed family, are so kind that you cannot imagine the family steeped in something dark or sinister. And yet, Hal comes to believe some of them must be hiding something because it soon becomes apparent that although Hal does not this family, that she is in some way connected to them.

This is by no means a ghost story, and yet, there are ghosts living in these pages. So many characters without voices, or whose voices are limited to some documents they have left behind. It's a mystery Hal feels she must uncover, even though she senses that doing so can be very dangerous.

I was totally engaged as I read this book. It's crisp description, determined pace and vividly portrayed characters really drew me in. I felt as though I knew Hal, and yet she was not entirely an easy character to know. An unbelieving fortune teller, an actress of sorts, a vulnerable girl with a backbone of steel. If you enjoy mysteries, this one ought be up your alley. And how everything ends certainly took me by surprise. You'll never see it coming.

Happy Reading, 
Jewels
For years I have seen the popular Brigerton series by Julia Quinn around the feeds. But I never started it because...well, there are just so many books! But then I stumbled upon this novel, and was surprised to find it was the first in the Rokesby series, so I thought, why not? And I have to say, it was quite a fun read! I loved Billie's character, and I thought George brilliant.

Series: Rokesbys, #1 
My Rating: 4 ❀'s
 Genre: Historical Romance
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The novel starts off hilariously, with Billie stuck on a roof with a twisted ankle and George, her least favourite (indeed, disliked) of the Rokesby brother as her rescuer. Only, they both end up in need of rescuing. Right from the opening pages there was wit, humour and sizzle between these two. So you are immediately drawn in, and yet it's very apparent that there are marked differences in character between them. George is definitely the traditionalist, while Billie is anything but.

And I think what makes this novel so compelling is that we discover George is not quite the traditionalist we might think he is. He is the heir to an earldom, but this fact in frustrates him because society and tradition have already decided life for him. He is not free to be a sailor or solider and serve king and country like his brothers. So I think perhaps he appreciated Billie's unconventionality in ways no one else in their families could because he too was different than his siblings.

Billie is also a compelling character as she is a tomboy and very determined to go her own way. She doesn't defy conventions exactly, but rather she lives outside of them at times when it seems most practical to her. She is also daring which gets her into more trouble than she ought to be in, but I admired her spirit and strength.

The book was very enjoyable reading, and while I cannot comment on it in relation to the Brigerton series, I can say you will be jumping into a sweet romance filled with humour, heat, and deep emotion, and also amazingly depicted secondary characters. While I did think the ending was a bit rushed, and I had hoped for more of a le sigh at the end, the novel stands on its own two feet and I am looking forward to the second novel in this series.

Happy Reading,
Jewels
Sadly, I have to wait on my next Alison Weir now that I'm done reading The Lady Elizabeth. I'm dying to read more, but I haven't got any right now and I'm determined to read more of the books I already own. I've been doing a good job doing just that, so until I polish off one or two more I cannot indulge in another Alison Weir book. But, onto this fabulous story about Queen Elizabeth I long before she ever was queen. This novel starts just as the young Princess Elizabeth is declared a bastard and her title changes from Princess to Lady.

My Rating: 5 ❀'s
Genre: Historical Fiction
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Elizabeth is a bright child and right away notices the difference in the way she is addressed. Her intelligence grows as she does and the reader sees the young Elizabeth grow in wit and daring. She is a person of strong opinions, and keen intelligence and does well in her studies. I can easily see this Elizabeth growing into the Elizabeth I've read about in history books.

The family dynamics in this novel proved interesting as Elizabeth has many step mothers. She certainly enjoys her time with Jane Seymour; being young, she enjoys the life at court and the procession at Christmas time and her father, Henry VIII seems to dote on her. Later in the novel, he is quite upset at her for questioning some matters of religion, and sends her away but is later accepted again at court. When Henry VIII dies, Elizabeth is saddened because her father has always been larger than life.

And Elizabeth is of an age when life for her becomes more precarious as a young king's sister. I thought the way the author handled Elizabeth's life with Katherine Parr and her husband, Thomas Seymour, very interesting indeed. In history, there is much reference made to her so called step-father teasing her in ways that were certainly inappropriate at the time, and today would be considered child molestation. And what comes of part of history in the novel certainly shed some new light on the character who had always protested she would never marry (as the woman herself did) and one who later would be called the Virgin Queen. Yet these were pages that taught our character valuable lessons as her life is now one where she must walk on political eggshells, especially after Edward's death.

It saddened me to see that Mary, a character who had loved Elizabeth, turn so bitterly against her. Mary's reign are not good years for Elizabeth as she becomes the focus of Protestant plots against the Catholic Mary. Elizabeth uses all of her wit and intelligence to survive, remaining loyal to her sister throughout. I admired her strength, tenacity and quick thinking. She also has vulnerabilities; a deep dread of being beheaded like her mother, an anxiety of being sent to the Tower so great that it softens her a little, makes her human, shows the deep emotion and passion of this woman.

I have to say, as someone who studied Elizabeth I a little, this novel did a wonderful job in bringing her to life, and revealing to us something of what this woman's mind must have been like. Five stars are hardly enough in my books.

Happy Reading ,
Jewels
I have more books today that I added recently to my collection. Book shopping is so much fun and even when I'm not in the market for books, I sometimes find a book in the drugstore that I just can't pass up. I'm sure you know the feeling so I don't really need to explain.

I've been getting a lot more reading done lately, and I'm quite proud of myself actually for hitting the books again. I missed my books. And I've read so many good ones lately!

But, on to the latest ones I've added to my shelves...







So by now many of you might have guessed that I've become a fan of Alison Weir. Her novels are fascinating studies of persons in history and I've reading everything I can get my hands on related to the Tudors from this fabulous author. I actually read The Lady Elizabeth (stay tuned for the review) and it looked at Elizabeth from an entirely different angle than other novels I've read depicting her before. Hats off to this author!

I have not read Mary Burton before, but this book is one I've started and it certainly seems gritty. We'll have to see. Crime mystery is a new genre to me. But I suspect since I found this novel in the romance section that I might get some devastating reading in the more traditional sense from this novel as well. 

The Woman in Cabin 10  is a novel most people will have seen I think, as it's been successful. I decided to see what all the fuss is about. I've read one book by Ruth Ware (again, stay tuned!) so I've high expectations for this novel. 

Well friends, that's it for now, but if you like this feature, it's one I hope to keep sharing with you from time to time. Which shouldn't be a problem as new acquisitions are always creeping their way onto my shelves. 

Happy Reading,
Jewels

I read this novel on a whim, liking the blurb and I am so glad I did. I wasn't exactly expecting the Pride and Prejudice spoof that this novel turned out to be, despite the synopsis but I think that's what I enjoyed the most about this novel. Casey and Tate were their own characters, but they also mirrored Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, as other characters were foils for Bingley, Jane and Wickham. And this made the novel such a lot of fun!

My Rating:  5 ❀'s
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
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The novel opens with a very interesting scene in which Casey stumbles upon a rather naked Tate. You'll have to read the book to get more info on this, but suffice to say this pits the two at odds right from the get go and leads to scenes of further misunderstandings. Many of which will give you cause to smile. And giggle. Casey develops the opinion that Tate, a famous actor, is a snob and disdains him so much that she lands the role of Elizabeth in the local play, Pride and Prejudice.

I love the novel within the novel. The author does an amazing job using the plot from P&P to bring the characters together and to tell their stories while maintaining her own plot brilliantly. My hat goes off to Jude Deveraux for this as it made her own novel as bright and sparkly as Austen's. The scenes at the end in which the characters are re-enacting the novel are especially important in brining closure to several plot points, all while lending a modern interpretation to Austen's classic novel. Wickham for once, is suitably punished.

Casey and Tate's romance is far more involved than Darcy and Elizabeth as Casey spends much more of the novel in love with Tate than Elizabeth ever did with Darcy, and this will thrill the modern reader. Tate is a sweet, level headed man with a loyal heart and we see this right from the beginning even though it takes Casey some time to fully realize just what sort of a man Tate is, and the proposal scene goes far better for Tate than it did for Mr. Darcy. Which gave me (and I am sure gave many readers) the a le sigh feeling that will leave you light as a feather for days afterwards.

A fun, intelligent read, you can't go wrong with The Girl from Summer Hill. 

Happy Reading,
Jewels