Tuesday, 15 February 2011


I decided a few months back to start up another blog (through my service provider). Had no end of trouble with the customer service side of things and just when I thought the problem had been sorted out, it reared its head again.
So here I am back with my original blog.
There may not be a lot of book reviews from now now, as our little book group has been disbanded. But I will still post comments from time to time on books that I enjoy.
At the moment, I am crocheting granny squares for Sarah London - An idea that originated from Sarah London who lives in Sydney. This is to help the victims of the Queensland flood relief. So far I have posted off too large parcels of granny squares and thought that this could be my effort to help out the people who have lost their homes and possessions.
Sarah is going to join up the squares as they start coming in and I know that she has had a great response world wide.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

SIGNORA DA VINCI by Robin Maxwell

Another book from my selection for the Historical Fiction Readiing Challenge on the royal reviews blog
This story tells of Caterina, the mother of Leonardo da Vinci.
From her humble beginnings as the daughter of the local apothecary in the village of Vinci, we follow her life as she falls in love with the son of the local aristocrat family, Piero da Vinci.
But when she falls pregnant and believes that Piero will marry her, she is sadly disappointed.
When the baby, Leonardo is born, the family (Da Vinci) takes the baby to live with them, as was the custom.

Over the years, Caterina finds ways to spend time with Leonardo, with the help of Francesco, Piero's brother.
Piero wants nothing to do with the child and the family sends Piero to Florence to make a suitable match befitting his position as a Notary.
When Leonardo is only about 11, Caterina requests Piero find an apprenticeship for Leonardo, as due to the custom of the time, illegitimate sons coud not follow the profession of the father.

Thus Leonardo finds himself apprenticed to ne of the masters in Florence, where his talents develop. Caterina misses him so much, that her father suggests she go to Florence, where he has an apothecary shop which was bequeathed to him by his former emplyer. There she can set up shop, but she will have to disguise herself as a man.
Due to her father's teaching since she was a young girl, she is well education in the arts etc and so she is able to assume this change and revels in it.
She has so much more freedom than living as a woman, and is now known as Cato. By chance she makes the acquitance of Lorenzo De Medici and is drawn into the illustrious circle. Eventually falling in love with him.

Very good insight into that time in history.

Thursday, 15 April 2010


Eventhough this was not one of my chosen books for the challenge (Royal Reviews), I wanted to post a comment as the story was wonderful to read.

This is an absorbing story of Alais (sister of Phillipe of France and step daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Alais had been bethrothed to Richard (the Lionheart) but caught the eye of King Henry and captured his heart.
In this story, Alais, has been living at the French court with her brother Phillipe and is feeling stifled with the life and intrigue of the Court.
A written request is received from Eleanor of Aquitaine, for Alais to travel to Canterbury in England and retrieve hidden letters that Eleanor had written to Thomas Beckett. If these letters fall into the wrong hands, the information they contain could bring down the English king, John.

Eleanor also hints that the child born to Henry and Alais, did not die at childbirth and she knows of his whereabouts.
This prompts Alais to undertake the journey to England and when she arrives, she realises that there is more to the story than she has been told.
While trying to retrieve the letters, which were hidden in the alter of the church at Canterbury, she is abducted by King John and his wife, Isabelle, and held at Sarum - the tower where King Henry had imprisoned Eleanor many years ago.
Her rescue comes by way of the Knights Templar, who are led by William of Caen, a childhood friend of Alais.
Something is taken from Alais while she is drugged - her prized possession of a jewel, given to her by Richard at their betrothal. This jewel had been created by an Arab poet, Omar Bn Al-Faridh. More mystery attached to this, as many people want to get possession.
To find out more, you should read this book.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

TWYLIGHT TOWER by Karen Harper

I had intended reading The Poyson Garden as part of the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge on Royal Reviews, but when I went to reserve at my local library, it was no longer on the catalogue.
So that's the reason for reading Twylight Tower.

This story is set in 1560 and Elizabeth 1 has sent William Cecil to Scotland for negotiations with Mary. Cecil is uneasy about leaving on this journey as Elizabeth has been spending too much time with Robert Dudley, and not enough attention on affairs of state.
Shortly after Cecil departs for Scotland, the court's master lutenist plunges to his death from the parapet (near Elizabeth's chamber). It is assumed that he accidently fell after drinking too much, but the other loyal servants of the Queen are not so sure, and believe he was pushed.
Onto the scene appears a young musician and begs to be taken into the Queen's service. This lutenist is good, but something is not right. It soon is discovered that the musician is a girl (it was first though the musician was a eunach).
Elizabeth feels that she is being watched all the time, but dismisses this as being upset at the death of her previous musician.

Robert Dudley is constantly in the Queen's attendance, eventhough his wife Amy Robsart is ailing and living in the country. We know that Robert is ambitious and will do anything to reach the top.

There are twists and turns in this story, always including the workings of the Royal Court, with all its intrigues and jealousies.
The Spanish Ambassador is also at court, lobbying for Elizabeth to take a husband, and building up a network of spies around the palace.

Tradedy strikes close to the throne, when Elizabeth is almost killed whilst performing in one of the plays that she enjoys.

The death of Amy Robsart brings tragedy close to the throne also and suffice to say that the young lutenist wreaks her revenge on the Queen with this incident.
It transpires that she is one of the bastard offspring from King Henry's time.

I am become quite involved with the characters in this series and look forward to reading the other books.

Here are the pages that I have created for my Historical Reading Journal

Friday, 19 March 2010


I just can't seem to get into the swing of posting on my blog everyday. Always other "things" to do.
A couple more book reviews to add - always can find time to read!!

I am a fan of Matthew Reilly's books and CONTEST is the author's first novel, which was self published (1996) after being rejected by every major publisher in Sydney (Australia). That attitude certainly changed once he wrote other books.
Before I read this story, my husband Michael said that I would think twice about visiting a large public library.

As usual with Matthew Reilly books, the theme is action packed from start to finish.

"A thief breaks into the New York State Library and comes away with nothing but the biggest nightmare of his life, and being put in jail (where he reckons he is safe from the monster). He had awakened Karanadon, a monster that has been teleported there as part of a Contest.
The human contender is Stephen Swain, who has also been transported there from his home, together with his daughter Holly (she happened to be close to him at the time).
Stephen thinks he has entered a nightmare, especially when he discovers he has to fight for his life if he wants to come out of the library alive.

Don't want to give too much away, as it will spoil all the twists and turns that are in the story.

For a change of pace, the next book DEATH BY DARJEELING (by Laura Childs), is the first in the tea shop mystery series.
The author has also written a Scrapbooking Mystery series.

Was lucky to get a copy of this book from BOOKMOOCH, as the theme of the mysteries intrigued me, as I am a tea drinker (as well as coffee).

The character of Theodosia, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop is a strong independent woman, and she is helped in the shop by Drayton,who is her major domo and expert tea blender; the waitress and chef is a young girl called Holly.

At a tea party catered for by the shop, a well known property developer dies, after drinking tea and it turns out he was poisoned. Of course, all eyes are on Theo, who desperately tries to save her reputation and track down the killer.

Interesting snippets throughout the story of the various tea blends and names of tea.

Enjoyed the story and look forward to reading others in the series.