Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Wild Romance by Chloë Schama

Connected reading, file 1

During a ten year period in the mid 19th century a different kind of court case hit the headlines in Europe and America, it was Longworth vs Yelverton.

Theresa Longworth met William Charles Yelverton in 1852 during a boat trip from France to England. They talked the whole night and afterwards started a correspondence that continued for years. The unusual thing about it, was that it was the woman who started the correspondence, and pursued the acquaintance.

They couple spent most of the time in different places all over Europe. Yelverton was a military man and went where he was posted. When he came to Crimea, Theresa followed him there to work as a nurse with a convent. Later on, when they were both in Scotland, they entered into a closer relationship which led to a different kind of marriage.  On April 12, 1857, Yelverton declared himself her husband with his hand on a Book of Common Prayer. There were no witnesses, but according to Scottish Common Law, Yelverton’s alleged declaration constituted a marriage. It was not unusual that people got married like this it seems.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

New book coming my way!

Yesterday, my friend Lena, gave me a book by Patrick Modiano, Nätternas gräs (L'herbe des nuits).  Quite suitable, since it was the Nobel day on 10 December, and Modiano won the Nobel prize in Literature this year. Looking forward to read it after the holidays. Review will follow.

Monday, 15 December 2014

TBR Pile Challenge 2015

You see how far my promises go? I said I would not participate in any challenges...and here I am at the first possible time. Having said that, it does go with my personal challenge of lowering my TBR shelves. As you might remember I have entered into a 'Connected Reading' challenge, where I follow a lead from one book to the next. Two 'files' are to be followed, and all of the books have to be taken from my TBR shelves or from the public library. So this challenge really goes very well with Roof Beam Reader TBR challenge.

The challenge is back for its sixth year! You have to choose 12 books, plus 2 extras just in case you can't go on with the chosen ones, from your TBR shelves. They have to be published before 2014. To participate, go to the page linked above and link your own page with your chosen books.

Monday morning

Today is a grey Monday morning, which does not really help. Reading the paper does not really help your mood either. Disaster, disaster, disaster wherever you look. However, I have two nice things to share with you.

There has been simultaneously auctions in Brussels and Paris on comic book drawings. A rare 1939 drawing of Tintin and his dog was sold for 539,880€ (673,468 USD). The cover which was made for the Belgian weekly "Le Petit Vingtième", scored the world record for a Hergé cover for that magazine. The buyer is not identified.


Through Bloglovin I found the 'Into Mind' blog by Anuschka from Berlin. In her post '10 ways to de-stress your day hour by hour' she shares a lot of useful tips in different areas. One of them is the site 'Skillshare' where you can sign up for free and take on-line classes. They cover a lot of different areas, so something for any of us. I signed up of course, and this morning I got an e-mail with some tips on trending classes and posts. Among the posts was one 'The Skill of Self-confidence', a TED lecture by Dr. Ivan Joseph. If you are interested you can have a look at it here.

Hope you have a great Monday!

Friday, 12 December 2014

A Dark Inheritance by Mary Williams

As you might have seen from my 'Read' list, I have read some historical romance lately. Always nice to relax your reading with a little bit of romance these grey, rainy days. The books were; A Code of Love by Jackie Delecki, The Duchess War by Courtney Milan and the book that I will review here, A Dark Inheritance by Mary Williams (from Endeavour Press, where I downloaded it for free).

I liked all three books. The two first ones have a young, intelligent, beautiful, brave woman in the lead (as usual) trying to resist the handsome, rich, rascal lord (as usual). We all know how it ends, but if the story is good enough it is enjoyable. A Code of Love has a story of code breakers during the Napoleonic war and it is exciting enough. The Duchess War has a more social story connected to the working conditions of the poor. The young woman has a secret, as has the lord, and the story is quite fascinating since, at least for the young woman, everything is not revealed in total until the end, and it is an unusual story. Quite entertaining.

The best of the three though is A Dark Inheritance. It is set in Cornwall in the mid 19th century. Adelaide's husband David dies in the Crimean War only a short time after their marriage. She goes back to his ancestral home, Trenhawk, to reside there. However, since they have no children, it has gone to David's cousin Rupert, who is not willing to sell it, although he is in some dire financial straits due to his biggest investment and interest; a mine.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys

This is a book in my second line of 'connected' reading. The first and previous book was Wide Sargasso Sea so the connection is the author. See ny new 'Connected' page here or go directly from the Home page.

As mentioned in my review of the previous book the author is new to me. And what a pleasant surprise. Having finished the second book, I look forward reading more by Rhys. She has a simple, poetic, down to earth language in her stories, which is quite fascinating. The two books I have read have another thing in common. The story takes places in Dominica and England, and tells of the difficulties to come from an exotic, beautiful, warm island to the coldness of England. Both in the different climates, but also how people are behaving.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Vagabond Vicar by Charlotte Brentwood

Charlotte Brentwood contacted me and asked me if I wanted to review her new book 'The Vagabond Vicar'. Since I love historical fiction and a little bit of romance to go with it I agreed. The review to follow is my own personal view and Charlotte has not influenced me in any way.

First a short summary of the book. William Brook is an idealistic young cleric. His highest wish it to go to a foreign land to spread christianity and help the very poor people. Unfortunately for him, his best friend get a posting to India, and  he himself, receives a small parish in Shropshire. This is not exactly what he was aiming at. Although it was seen as a favour to him, since the parish is a good one and he has the approval of the nobel family in the area. However, his idealistic self cannot see how there will be too many poor to help and he realises rather quickly that many families are eager for one of their daughters to merry the vicar. He is determined to stay one year, not get married and then go abroad.

Once in the village he soon gets involved into the daily life of people. He makes an effort to get to know them, to help them where necessary and to take them on the path to a more 'modern' life. The previous vicar had been there for 50 years and things have been idling as they were. Not everyone is happy with his intentions.

His love to be, interest, is Cecilia Grant. She is considered a little bit weird since she get lost in nature and herself. Most of the time she seems to be in another world. She is a free spirit and have difficulties to fit in to a suitable life. One season in London left her without a suitor and her mother is now trying again to find a husband. Her eyes are set on the younger son of the local nobility.

After meeting each other casually for a couple of times both William and Cecilia realise that there is more to their relationship than friendship. While their relationship develops, other people does not look upon it with favourable eyes. Jealousy, bad behaviour and revenge are some of the results, but amongst this back drop, they fall in love. Their love story is threatened by secrets in the village and a scandal from William's past. It will take a bold girl to set things right.
Charlotte Brentwood
Charlotte Brentwood is a young author, and this is her first published book. Her heroes are Darcy, Knightly, Wentworth and Brandon. To be a first book and for the author to be so young, I find the writing very mature. You get into the book at once, the characters are slowly built up until you think you know them all, even the ones which are not frequently mentioned. The description of village life is very trustworthy, which is also the case for the religious parts which describes the work of the vicar. The story develops through the narratives of William and Cecilia.

As for most historical, romance novels, it is easy to read. Especially, since it is very well written. The story is very well put together and tied up in the end. There are several loose ends to tie up and she is doing it very well. The only thing slightly missing in the story line, is a little bit of a 'punch'? The story lacks a little bit of excitement and thrill, although at the end of the book it catches up. However, having said that, and considering the writing, I am looking forward to the next novel by Charlotte. If you like historical, regency, romance you should try this one.

You can read more on her website.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Sunday bliss

Today started with a wonderful, sunny morning with blue sky. The autumn colours were awesome! Half an hour later it was all gone. Sky got all cloudy and the day looked gloomy. The first intention to go for a nice walk in the woods has now been abandoned. I realised when I ventured out in the garden, that it is nicer to cuddle up inside with candles and a good book.

Grey isn't it?

So what am I reading this grey Sunday? As usual I am on to several books that I alternate between.

The Vagabond Vicar by Charlotte Brentwood, a historical fiction that I received from the author to review. Review will follow shortly.

Vägen mot Bålberget by Therése Söderlind, also a historical fiction about witches in 17th century Sweden.

The Song of Taliesin, Tales from King Arthur's Bard by John Matthews. Taliesin, Arthur's poet who, like Merlin, was said to have shamanic powers. His writings are mostly lost but Matthews has used his imagination, based on his studies of original sources, to extend the original writing. Wonderful.

So, it seems like a good idea to stay home and read, finalise the Christmas cards and presents and feel that you are ahead of things. Why procrastinate when you don't have to?

To see the outside from the inside today will therefor be a better choice.

What about you? Nice weather and a relaxing Sunday? I hope this for all of you around the world!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2014

Historical Tapestry is hosting the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2014. I choose to read 10 Renaissance books and has now finalised this challenge. I am lucky to finalise at least one of the challenges. It has been a little bit uphill this year. Here are the books that I read.

1. The Chosen Man by J.G. Harlond
2. The King's Concubine by Anne O'Brien
3. The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien
4. The Kingmaker's Daughter by Anne O'Brien
Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant (not finished!))
5. Sofia Magdalena A True Queen by Gerd Ribbing
6. A Divided Inheritance by Deborah Swift
7. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
8. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
9. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
10. Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

I could not finish Sacred Hearts, I found it too slow, but all the other books are interesting. My absolute favourite  will have to be The Chosen Man by J.G. Harlond (review here), which takes place in Holland (among other places) during the Tulipomania hysteria in the 17th century. That made me go on to read Tulipomania by Mike Dash (review here) which is a really fascinating book about the power of Tulips.

Of course I have to mention the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, of which I am a fan. I am now reading book No. 5 The Fiery Cross while I am waiting for the continuation of the first season of the TV-series.

However, I must say I enjoyed all the books. Being a lover of historical fiction, I am happy to read about historical people or unknown people set in a historical setting.

Enjoy the Skye Boat Song theme with beautiful lyrics by Bear McCreary from the Outlander TV-series.

Sing me a song of a lass that is gone
Say, could that lass be I?
Merry of soul she sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye

Billow and breeze, islands and seas
Mountains of rain and sun
All that was good, all that was fair
All that was me is gone

Sing me a song of a lass that is gone
Say, could that lass be I?
Merry of soul she sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Christmas shopping in Sweden

We have been in Växjö, Sweden for some days to visit our son and to do some Christmas shopping.
Absolutely lovely. Weather cold and even the sun shone on us from time to time. The first of Advent is the weekend in Sweden when the Christmas shopping starts. In the old days, that is, when I was a child, the shops used to decorate the windows and people walked around and enjoyed the creativity of the shops. The shops were not open, it was just to look. That is a nice remembrance. Today it is all commercial and the windows look the same all of December!

We managed to buy all our presents, so we were very pleased. I know I promised not to buy any more books, BUT, I could not resists since there was a place where they sold them soooo cheap. My son got a pocket book for student cooking which I think he will enjoy. At least when he realises that it is not that difficult and the variety is good. Two drink books; one how to make wonderful (hopefully) vodka drinks and one book about cocktails. One book by Mo Yan (last year's Nobel prize winner), "Det röda fältet" (The Red Field).  I have not read anything by him so this was a good bargain. Two audio books where the last ones. They are generally rather expensive in Sweden, so when you get one for 3€ that is a