Thursday, May 19, 2011

Death of a Chimney Sweep by M.C. Beaton review/giveaway

Title: Death of a Chimney Sweep
Author: M.C. Beaton
ISBN: 978-0-446-54739-0
Publisher: Grand Central
Format: Hardcover
How I Read It: Trade paperback ARC

In the south of Scotland, residents get their chimneys vacuum-cleaned. But in the isolated villages in the very north of Scotland, the villagers rely on the services of the itinerant sweep, Pete Ray, and his old-fashioned brushes. Pete is always able to find work in the Scottish highlands, until one day when Police Constable Hamish Macbeth notices blood dripping onto the floor of a villager's fireplace, and a dead body stuffed inside the chimney. The entire town of Lochdubh is certain Pete is the culprit, but Hamish doesn't believe that the affable chimney sweep is capable of committing murder.

My Review:

Once again we find ourselves back in Lochdubh with P.C. Hamish Mcbeth as he tackles yet another case. This time a body is found stuffed up a chimney leaving some to believe that is was indeed the chimney sweep with the candlestick. But when Pete Ray, the chimney sweep in question is found dead on the moors, Hamish is convinced that is was not a simple accident and that someone else is to blame for both deaths.

Now Hamish must search through Lochdubh for the killer he believes is out there. For those of you who know Hamish, you will know that he never goes by the book, allowing the investigation to go above and beyond what would be considered normal.

My Thoughts:

I love the Hamish Mcbeth mysteries, in fact they are one of my favorite series, and this book was one of the best that I have read so far. While it is a book in a series, each one can be read alone without the need to have read the ones that came before. If a topic from the previous book is addressed it is explained within the novel so the reader is not left with feeling as though they have missed something.

Wrote with the language of the Highlands, this book transports the readers to the fictional town of Lochdubh (pronounced Lochdoove). The residents of Lochdubh are a treat as well bringing their own bit of zaniness to the story, making that much more enjoyable to read. For those of you who have read the other novels, yes, this one offers a bit of conflicted romance as well.

Grab you a few pieces of shortbread, make yourself a nice cuppa of heather tea, and journey to the Highland moors as Hamish solves yet another crime.


As Always,

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

The Magic of Finkleton by KC Hilton

Title: The Magic of Finkleton
Author: KC Hilton
ISBN: 9781456570293

Most folks say, "Mother Nature controls the rain". However this is not the case in the village of Finkleton.
In the perfect little village of Finkleton, the weather is always perfect. Every farm grows the best, biggest, healthiest crops in the entire world, and everyone is happy.

Soon after the Finkles inherit their Uncle Harry's shop and move to Finkleton, they discover magical secrets hidden in his shop. One clue at a time, Jack, Lizzy and Robert learn the town's amazing secret. No, Mother Nature is not in charge in Finkleton!

Ever since Uncle Harry's death, the weather has not been cooperating. Farms are starting to fail. Will the Finkle children be able to solve all the magical mysteries before the village is destroyed?

Come along to Finkleton. A very special, magical adventure is about to begin!
(Form the back of the book)

My Thoughts:

As you turn each page “The Magic Of Finkleton” comes to life in this amazing book. Young readers will delight as they unlock the magic that awaits.

Inheriting their great-uncle Harry’s general store seemed to be a blessing after their cottage in Bath caught fire, yet once the Finkle children arrive they find that it was more than fate that brought them here. Discovering one clue then another, Jack, Lizzy, and Robert unlock the secrets that the shop holds. Once all the clues are in place the children discover that Mother Nature is not in control of the weather in Finkleton, they are. Now they most figure out to set the small village back to rights.

A very entertaining read, with an ending that leaves you wanting more. Children of all ages will enjoy this magical story as they embark on a journey of magical discovery right along with the Finkle’s.

I believe that fans of Nanny McPhee will love this book as it offers that same English charm.

The Magic of Finkleton

Nestled in the lush countryside of England exists a tiny place called Finkleton. Finkleton is too small to be officially considered a town; most would consider it a village. In fact, Finkleton is so small it cannot be located on any map.

Finkleton is a thriving, self-sufficient community. Every year all their crops overflow with an abundance of delicious fruits and vegetables. The farmers trade and sell amongst each other, then sell their excess crops at local markets in nearby towns.

The weather in Finkleton is always perfect for each farmer. So perfect, in fact, that not one farmer has ever wanted to sell their land and move away.

Of course outsiders have tried to persuade the farmers to sell their land, but it is all to no avail. Nobody wants to move from their farm. But the farmers’ refusals to sell doesn’t stop outsiders, who continue to try and persuade the local farmers to bargain with them for their perfect farmland.

Some folks say Finkleton holds the luckiest lands in England. Others shrug and say instead that it is a magical place.

Reviewed for Review The Book

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Looking for new reviewers

We are currently looking for a few more royal bloggers to join the Royal Reviews team! We are looking for both permanent bloggers (minimum of 3 reviews per month) as well as Ladies in Waiting (guest bloggers, who fill-in on certain Fridays).

If you are interested or would like to have more information, please email newroyalreviews(at)yahoo(dot)com. We look forward to hearing from you!

As Always,
Happy Reading and Best Wishes,

The False Friend by Myla Goldberg

Title: The False Friend
Author: Myla Goldberg
ISBN: 978-0-385-52721-7
Publisher: Double Day Broadway Books
Format: Hardback Book- Trade Paperback
$25.95 HB/ $14.95 Trade Paperback
How I Read It: Trade Paperback ARC

From the bestselling author of Bee Season comes an astonishingly complex psychological drama with a simple setup: two eleven-year-old girls, best friends and fierce rivals, go into the woods. Only one comes out . . .

Leaders of a mercurial clique of girls, Celia and Djuna reigned mercilessly over their three followers. One after­noon, they decided to walk home along a forbidden road. Djuna disappeared, and for twenty years Celia blocked out how it happened.

The lie Celia told to conceal her misdeed became the accepted truth: everyone assumed Djuna had been abducted, though neither she nor her abductor was ever found. Celia’s unconscious avoidance of this has meant that while she and her longtime boyfriend, Huck, are professionally successful, they’ve been unable to move forward, their relationship falling into a rut that threatens to bury them both.

Celia returns to her hometown to confess the truth, but her family and childhood friends don’t believe her. Huck wants to be supportive, but his love can’t blind him to all that contra­dicts Celia’s version of the past.

Celia’s desperate search to understand what happened to Djuna has powerful consequences. A deeply resonant and emotionally charged story, The False Friend explores the adults that children become—leading us to question the truths that we accept or reject, as well as the lies to which we succumb.
(From the Publisher)

My Thoughts:

I had high hopes for this book; unfortunately, I was very disappointed by the time I finished it. The concept was indeed an intriguing one- a group of girls walk home on a forbidden highway, a fight ensues one girl runs into the woods, another girl follows her in, only one comes out, a lie that becomes the truth. While the author could have created this amazing story out of the previous description, I felt that the book was a literary mess, continually circling around a thread without gaining any ground. Almost pointless to read as the issue at hand is never truly addressed and rather than sustaining the plot, she fills the book with one-dimensional characters that offer nothing to the story.

Celia to me came off whiny and the fact that she continuously called her mother ‘mommy’ annoyed me to no end. Then we have the boyfriend, Huck, who not only is a teacher he’s a pothead as well, and apparently Celia has no problem with dating one and he has no problem with getting high at her parents house, even though her brother Jem is a recovering drug-addict. The “friends” offer nothing to novel except that Leeanne is now Lee. Even the missing girl and her mother are annoying.

The characters fell flat and the plot was lost to misguidance. Random things were placed into the novel such as Celia and Huck having phone sex, continuous talk about their dogs, Huck getting high, Jem’s pregnant wife complaining, that in my opinion were just fillers that offered nothing to the story.

For me this book was a poorly composed Lifetime movie where the ending was deleted.

I would love to know your thoughts on this book if you have read it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne

The steps of a charmingly complex dance—Scotland's famous reel—are at the heart of Hester Browne's enchanting contemporary novel of two very different sisters whose dreams may come true at a romantic Scottish ball.

Evie Nicholson is in love . . . with the past. An antiques appraiser in a London shop, Evie spins fanciful attachments to Victorian picture frames, French champagne glasses, satin evening gloves, and tattered teddy bears—regardless of their monetary value.
Alice Nicholson is in love . . . with Fraser Graham, a dashing Scotsman whom Evie secretly desires. As crisply neat and stylish as Evie is cheerfully cluttered, Alice is a professional organizer determined to pull her sister out of her comfort zone—and who presents her with an irresistible offer.

As a favor to friends of Fraser's family, Evie jumps at the chance to appraise a Scottish castle full of artifacts and heirlooms. What could be more thrilling than roaming the halls of Kettlesheer and uncovering the McAndrews' family treasures—and dusty secrets?
But crossing paths with moody heir Robert McAndrew has Evie assessing what she wants the most . . . and at an upcoming candlelight gala, a traditional dance will set her heart reeling.
(from the publisher)

My Thoughts

I wasn’t sure if this book would be my cuppa tea being that it is a contemporary novel. Although being that it was set in Scotland made me want to see what it was all about. As I started reading I was hooked by the first page. The description of Evie being addicted to the past drew me in and made me want to know more about the story that was about to unfold.

The Characters-

Evie Nicholson- I found that I could relate to Evie and her obsession with the past and the antiques that come from it. As a lover of antiques- like Evie- I too want to know the story that comes along with each item. She was fun to read, I enjoyed watching her come in to her own as the story progressed.

Alice Nicholson- Sister to Evie, although rather than being a collector of antiques, she is a professional organizer. While I liked Alice, occasionally I could not stand her and her annoying need to control things that were beyond her control. Yet by the end of the novel she was becoming a bit more enjoyable to read.

Fraser Graham-A Scotsman through and through, Evie finds herself drawn to him even though he is her sisters boyfriend. He’s the classic man you would envision in a novel. He’s charming, polite, kind and caring, one can easily see why Evie is attracted to him.

Robert McAndrew- The heir of Kettlesheer, Robert run’s a successful London-based business and has more of a London air than a Scottish one. Viewing Kettlesheer as a drain on his family and disconnected with the his families past- he cannot wait to back in London. Whereas Evie is a collector Robert is more of a minimalist. It was fun reading the bits when these two were together- Evies passion for Kettlesheer and Roberts dislike made for some rather interesting reading.

Ingrid & Duncan McAndrew-The present owners of Kettlesheer- Ingrid feels boggled down with the responsibilities that come with owning a house such as Kettlesheer. You can feel the stress that is upon her, and her longing to return to the life she led before. Duncan on the other hand feels as though it is his duty to see that Kettlesheer -instilled with that idea from childhood, Duncan is determined to keep the estate.

Of course there were a bevy of secondary characters that made this book come to life as each of them offered something crazy to the mix.

The plot-

Needing to save Kettlesheer, Evie is called to the estate to appraise their antiques, yet she is not prepared for the truth she uncovers. A truth that could potentially led to disaster for the McAndrews. All the while her dance-challenged body has to learn the complex turns and spins the reel.

You get to see the characters assess what they deem to be valuable.

*One of my favorite novels that I have read this year! I truly enjoyed the way this book unfolded.

I wished that this novel would have addressed certain issues rather than just ending and leaving them up in the air. Hopefully a second novel will follow and clear those issues up.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Double Trouble Giveaway!

Going Cowboy Crazy
Faith Aldridge wants answers. Bramble, Texas is the only place she can find them . . . as well as Hope, the identical twin sister she never knew she had. But the townsfolk reckon that shy city-girl Faith is really her long-lost sister Hope, back in Bramble at last. And they're fixin' to do whatever it takes to heat things up between her and Hope's long-time flame, Slate Calhoun. If that means rustling her car, spreading rumors like wildfire, and reining in some explosive secrets, well, there's no way like the Lone Star way . . .
But Slate's no fool. The woman in his truck may look like Hope, yet the way she feels in his arms is altogether new. He's determined to keep this twin in his bed and out of his heart. Trouble is, the real Hope is headed home, and she's got her own designs on Slate. If Faith wants to avoid heartbreak, she'll have to show a certain ruggedly handsome cowboy that this crazy-impossible love is worth fighting for.

Make Mine A Bad Boy

Hope Scroggs is finally ready to get hitched. After years of sowing her wild oats, the former head cheerleader and homecoming queen has returned to Bramble, Texas, to marry her high school flame. But her perfect wedding plans are stomped to smithereens when her adoring cowboy two-steps down the aisle with someone else. Now Hope is stuck with the one man from her past she can't shake: Colt Lomax, an irresistible bad boy whose sultry kisses are hotter than the Panhandle in August . . .

Colt lives for freedom and the open road; he never gets attached, never looks back. Still, he can't forget the night of passion he once shared with Bramble's sweetheart--a night he wouldn't mind repeating. So, he piles on the Texas charm to tease the feisty beauty back into his bed, while she tries her darnedest to resist. But something unexpected is about to tie their fates together . . . and oh, baby, will it ever

I have three sets thanks to Brianne at HBG to giveaway. To enter please leave your name and a valid email address. Contest ends May 26. Winners will be contacted on the 27.

Residents of the US & CANADA only. Sorry no P.O. Boxes

Ripe for Pleasure by Isobel Carr review & giveaway

Ripe for Pleasure
Book One in the League of Second Sons
Author: Isobel Carr
Publisher: Forever Romance
ISBN: 978-0-4465-57275-0
Second in line, first in love
A secret society of younger sons, sworn to aid and abet each other, no matter the scandal or cost.... Their fathers and brothers may rule the world, but they run it . . . and when it comes to passion, they refuse to accept second best.

Searching for hidden treasure,
finding forbidden fantasy.
London's most sensual former courtesan, Viola Whedon, is incapable of being seduced-she does the seducing. Until she meets Leonidas Vaughn. Her salacious memoirs have made her the target of half the lords in England, and Vaughn is the only man she can turn to. When he promises to protect her-and to make her beg for his touch-the alluring beauty finds both offers impossible to refuse.

Leonidas Vaughn secretly believes Viola possesses a fortune given to his family by the King of France. So the strong and sexy Vaughn charms his way into Viola's life . . . and her bed. But when their arrangement is consummated, he'll experience pleasure far beyond his wildest fantasies-and realize his heart may need the most protection of all.

This is a very charming little romance that puts the second sons front and center. I enjoyed reading this as it was a bit different from the way that other romances normally focus on the heir. Filled with adventure, action, a treasure hunt, and romance, Ripe for Pleasure is the perfect Summer Romance book.

One of my favorites! A quick read that will have you turning the pages. I cannot wait to read what comes next in this series.

*I have to add that I enjoyed the characters names, especially Leonidas’ sister’s name, Boudicca.

Five Fun Facts

1. The treasure Leo and Viola are looking for is real. The King of France really did send a fortune to support Bonnie Price Charlie in his bid for the English throne, but the rebellion collapsed before the money reached him, and no one knows what happened to it.

2. There’s a lot of Joan from Mad Men in Viola.

3. The idea to give all the kids in Leo’s family historical names was inspired by real men from the era named Hannibal, Achilles, Hercules, and Perseus.

4. The heroine’s dog was inspired by Isobel’s very own dog, Clancy, a Bullmastiff/Neapolitan Mastiff cross and two of his littermates, who are owned by her best friend and her little sister. And yes, that means there’s a minimum of 500 lbs of dog at every dinner party and holiday.

5. The idea of a man marrying his mistress in the Georgian era wasn’t all that far-fetched. Charles James Fox, the famous Whig politician, did it (and they lived quite happily at Strawberry Fields; yes, that Strawberry Fields) as did the 5th Duke of Devonshire, the 1st Baron Carteret, the 1st Earl of Orford, the 3rd Viscount Palmerston, and Sir Robert Wilmot.

I have three copies thanks to Brianne at HBG to giveaway. To enter please leave your name and a valid email address. Contest ends May 26. Winners will be contacted on the 27.

Residents of the US & CANADA only. Sorry no P.O. Boxes

Monday, May 2, 2011

BBC Top 100 Books. What Have You Read?

Top 100 books chosen by viewers (re-edited and remastered from the BBC site) The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Copy this , Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read an excerpt.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee 6 The Bible 7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte 8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare 15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald 24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy 25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy 32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden 40 Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne 41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins 46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery 47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen 55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens 58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck 62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold 65 The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding 69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens 82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert 86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White 88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad 92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery (English) 93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Additional books that seemed to have been excised from the list above and replaced with some others.

28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett 41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher 53. The Stand, Stephen King
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell 59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith 83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake 85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot 100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

What Have You Read?