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Monday, 30 January 2012

The House Of The Wind

By Titania Hardie

The House Of The Wind weaves together two plot lines, one set in modern day San Francisco and one in Tuscany in 1347. As the novel progresses the links between the two stories become more obvious and ultimately marry together beautifully.

The present day narrative begins very dramatically with the death of the fiancé of the main character Madeline. Her numbness following this event colours her personal life and her professional life and results in her family sending her to Tuscany, thus starting the long healing process.

The main character in the 1347 thread is Mia, and she’s also been bereaved. We learn that she has lost her mother in brutal circumstances and has been rendered mute. Mia is also in need of healing and her journey to recovery is triggered by the arrival of a beautiful and compassionate traveller.

The two stories work very well together. It took me longer to get into the historical narrative, but I think that’s the way it should be, and certainly as I read on I became equally wrapped up in it.

Both storylines are equally full of romance, action, pain and intrigue. Madeline and Mia are both fantastic characters

As well as great characters, this novel is notable for its fantastic settings and the way in which geographical locations become an integral part to the story. From the hustle bustle of San Francisco to the calm and serenity of the Tuscan countryside, the settings enhance the story and provide convincing atmosphere.

For an intriguing, absorbing and multi-faceted read I highly recommend this book.

Reviewed by Helen M Hunt

With thanks to the publishers for the review copy of this book.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Rook

By Daniel O’Malley

I just finished 'The Rook' and I began to worry about writing a review that would do the rating I plan to give this book some justice. I started making notes about my impressions before I was even a quarter through the book. It made such an impression on me that I went to find the author's website so that I could follow him on Twitter. I started feeding my thoughts into Goodreads as I got through different parts of the book, which is something I never do. I typically post Twitter updates but this seemed easier so that it would note the percentage I was at on my Kindle Fire when I made my note. I stopped reading yesterday and became concerned that I would not get to see more of this intriguing story after I finished the book. I jumped on the Internet and went to Daniel O’Malley’s website and saw that he has plans to do more stories in the Chequy world.

As I finished posting an update early yesterday on Goodreads I caught a glimpse of the overall ratings of the book and thought - impossible. We all read something and get vastly different impressions of what we read. Some things work for us and some things don’t. The beginning of this book did move so fast and have such a convoluted beginning that I had to re-read some parts. When I caught on to how things worked I knew I was one of the people for whom this book worked very much.

'The Rook' was one of those books that I knew I wanted to read and was watching for at least a month before its release date. I was drawn to it just from reading the synopsis and kept hoping for it to be released early. I bought and downloaded it first thing the morning it was released and made the mistake of taking a peek at it before starting work. It was a mistake because I was so totally enthralled that I wanted to send an email that I was leaving for the day and go find a good cup of coffee and a quiet, comfortable place to read for hours. I did tear myself from the book until that night and was really happy that I did not have to teach at the university that night.

This book has something for just about everyone. If you want a mystery, it is there. If you love action, the fight scenes with cool supernatural powers are there. If you like a bit of horror or gore, there is a bit of that too. It is not for romance readers, though there are a couple of irons in the fire that might prove interesting. One of the great things about this book that I wanted to mention separately was the author’s humor. I finally used the highlight feature of my Kindle Fire because there were several parts in this book that literally made me laugh out loud. A great example was when Myfanwy and her assistant Ingrid left a very important meeting and Myfanwy was still feeling things out from the memory loss. She asked Ingrid her impressions from the meeting and the scene went something like this. “Yes, I want to hear your thoughts on what we just saw”, Myfanwy said enthusiastically. “Did you think I brought you along for kicks? That was a classic date, with snacks and a show, and now I expect you to deliver the goods”. There are so many more humorous situations throughout the book.

Let’s take a look at the characters. Our heroine, Myfanwy, is pretty much the kind to whom most of us can relate. She is thrown into her world in the most terrorizing circumstances, with no memory and surrounded by dead bodies. We follow the person that Myfanwy becomes in her new life as she learns about her important position in a secret organization. She doesn’t just jump in and suddenly know how her powers work and kick butt in the name of justice. She has serious growing pains as she is thrown into situation after situation where she has to learn not only who she is becoming, but she also has to learn who Myfanwy was before things unfolded. Ingrid is a bit of a wild card because she is the person closest to Myfanwy as her executive assistant. There is an intricate system in place in the Chequy that utilizes some of the nomenclature of the game of chess. One of the characters that came in towards the end that I really liked was L’il Pawn Alan (No this is not his name or title. He is Pawn Alan but his stature and personality earned him this nickname in Myfanwy’s head) who, like Myfanwy, turns out to be more than meets the eye.

I can say that this book was a wonderful experience and I definitely look forward to more work from Daniel O’Malley!

Reviewed by Lady Techie