Festival of Romance 2014

On Friday 12th and Saturday 13th of September, I headed down to Leighton Buzzard for the 2014 Festival of Romantic Fiction. I had a fantastic time and met lots of lovely authors and came away with a whole new list of books to check out.Bernadette O'Dwyer, Bella Osborne, Terri Nixon

I arrived on Friday and the first event I attended was Girls Night in with the authors Mandy Baggott, Jane Lovering, Jill Steeples and Rowan Coleman.  They each did a reading which even had (very good) singing from one author, and then they answered questions. All I can say is if there is a zombie apocalypse, keep your grandparents away from Mandy and if you have a diary, hide it from all of them! There was also pink fizz and cakes – a lovely start to the evening.

I then moved over to the author party (while not being an author this party was for all festival goers honest!), despite being there on my own I was made to feel extremely welcome there, especially by Mandy Baggott, Rhoda Baxter, Rachel Lyndhurst and Linn B Halton. After more wine it was time for bed.(L-R) Carmel Harrington, Katie Fforde, Liz Fenwick, Fiona Harper, Tracey Bloom (and of course George Clooney!)

Saturday I attended three events – the first was an afternoon with authors Fiona Harper, Tracy Bloom (who also bought George Clooney with her), Liz Fenwick, Carmel Harrington and Katie Fforde who all did readings and answered questions.

I then headed off to afternoon tea and had a lovely time chatting with the authors at my table and listening to readings from some of the award nominees. Every author I heard a reading from made me want to buy their book! Good job I have a birthday coming up – Amazon vouchers for the win!

It was then time to go and get ready for the awards evening which had some great dancing and singing from a local theatre school before the awards began. The award winners in the categories voted for by Romance Readers were

  • Best Romantic Read – One Step Closer to You by Alice Peterson
  • Best Historical Read – The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans
  • Best Short Romance – Taming Her Italian Boss by Fiona Harper
  • Best Ebook – The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas
  • Best Author Published Romance – Christmas Yves by Nicola May

Caroline Raynor

There was also a new talent award chosen by professional authors and a publisher, this years winner was Caroline Rayner with Catherine Meadows as runner up – I might add they were both on the same table as me for afternoon tea, as was Fiona Harper so clearly I am a lucky charm 😉

After the awards, canapes and of course wine, Mandy, Linn, Kate and myself went for a curry only to find the restaurant was shutting and they turned us away – 11.15 on a Friday night, unheard of! Instead we headed to the kebab shop before heading to bed.

I had a fantastic time but was very surprised at the lack of regular readers like myself there, it was primarily authors. Having said that everyone was so friendly – as an example –  Saturday morning I was sitting by myself in the bar when Kate Nash noticed me on my own and recognised me from the day before as being with the festival. She then promptly introduced me to two authors sitting at the next table – Terri Nixon and Glynis Smy who were only too happy to chat and made me feel very welcome.

Mandy Baggott, Rachel LyndurstI know the organizers are desperate for more readers to attend and I can’t understand why they didn’t. As a big romance reader I was thrilled to find this event in the UK and will definitely be going again. Maybe next year we can get more readers to attend. Out of interest, what would other romance readers be looking for at a festival like this, what would make you want to go?

 

 

 

What do I want from The Wheel of Time?

I’m six books through The Wheel of Time.  I’ve already read something like 8 or 9 books in the series before (I’m kind of vague on exactly which book I gave up on while they were being first published), so this is a sort of re-read followed by new read for the the last few books.

You can follow my reviews and retrospectives of the books as they get published, by checking the ‘The Wheel of Time‘ tag.  Before I embark on book 7, I thought I’d spend a bit of time reflecting on what I hope the last 8 books in the series deliver, and what questions they answer.

For all I know, some of these could have been answered in the books I’ve already read beyond this point, some may get answered later in books I’ve not read, and some may never be resolved, but I thought I’d write them down anyway.  I’ve turned off comments on this post, so that no one is tempted to try and comment with any spoilers for book 7 onwards.  However, be warned, there are spoilers for everything up to and including book 6 below.

When asking these, I’m assuming the Dark One doesn’t win at the end, with the only issue will be how much do the good guys lose in order to win.  As it goes, this is pretty much a boring list of stuff, but when I’ve finished the series I might come back and tick off the ones that get resolved.  So, here goes (don’t forget, spoilers)

  • Does Moiraine survive, who rescues her if she does (does she rescue herself)?
  • What did Moiraine see in Rhuidean, and how much of that is ever revealed to us?
  • Mat – just everything about Mat.  What does he end up doing, does he end up using the Horn? Does his death mean he’s no longer linked to it? Does anyone else realise that?
  • Who is Olver, and is he Gaidal Cain?
  • What is the taint on Saidin?  Does it ever get explained?
  • Just exactly what is going on with the seals?
  • How important was Herid Fel and which of the Forsaken did him in?
  • What is going on with Lews Therin inside Rand’s head.  Are they really talking to each other?  Does Lews hear Rand in his own timeline?
  • What happens in general to the Aiel after it’s all done.
  • Do the Tinkers ever find the song?
  • Do the Tinkers and the Aiel ever forgive each other?
  • Do Moiraine and Thom end up together?
  • Does Elayne ever work out Mat’s fox-head medallion and does that play any role later?
  • Do they ever relearn the art of healing without having to use energy from the patient (i.e. can they heal with just the One Power, like in the Age of Legends)?
  • Just what the hell is Verin really up to?  Who is she, how old is she, and how long has she known about the events leading up to where we are in the books?
  • Does Elayne ever work out how to make angreal and sa’angreal?
  • Does someone, anyone, finally realise that if you don’t just talk openly and honestly with your allies, you don’t get anywhere?
  • Does someone, anyone, finally realise men and women must work together and trust each other to succeed both in the battle and in life afterwards?
  • What happens with Lan’s heritage, and does it play any role?
  • Do the Ways ever get cleansed?
  • Does the taint get removed from Saidin (I’m cheating, I know the answer to this one already, one of the few things I remember from later books)?
  • What’s going on with Moridin (again, cheating, I’m not sure he’s been introduced yet)?
  • Are some of the characters meant to be stupid for a reason?
  • Is it ever explained that the ability to channel is genetic and hence killing male channellers before they have kids is the reason why fewer people in general can use the One Power, or is it only ever alluded to?
  • Does someone chop Nynaeve’s braid off to save us all from ourselves?
  • Does Elayne ever take up the Throne of Andor?
  • Does Rand end up with all three girls or does that dream ever get abandoned / explained?
  • Does Perrin hold out and remain human?
  • Does the Tower become whole? Do they stop using the Oath Rod? Is that ever fully explained?
  • Padan Fain – what happens to him?
  • Who does and doesn’t survive the last battle (people, nations, structures, cities, etc.)
  • Does Rand fully seal the prison, so that it looks like the bore never existed, is this the age in which that happens, or is it just another patch?

That’ll do for now.  I’ll come back and edit this, perhaps after each book going forward to see which questions are answered, and which new questions are posed and need answering.

Update 1: 25th August

Have now finished book 7.  The following questions come to mind (spoilers for book 7).

  • Once again, who’s Moridin?
  • Who’s in the second mindtrap?
  • What was going on with Liah in Shadar Logoth?  How did she survive so long?
  • Do we ever know what happened when the two balefire beams touch?

2013 – A bookish year

 So another year is behind us and in spite of the personal life stuff going on resulting in the dearth of reviews, reading was still going on behind the scenes.

So what books made us sit up and beg?

Grete

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett – The fantastic third book in the Demon Cycle.

Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole – Military sci-fi with superheroes.  This second book was an excellent addition to the Shadow Ops series.

Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey – This series needs to be on either the big or small screen – any screen!  Until then it’s an amazing sci-fi story and this third book was a brilliant addition to the Expanse.

Parasite by Mira Grant – An amazingly creepy but riveting novel. If you liked her Newsflesh trilogy, you are going to love this!

Kevin HearneThe Iron Druid Chronicles was a series that entranced me so much, I ended up romping through and didn’t take time to review.  It’s a fantastic series and one I will be re-reading, slower this time, so I can actually do reviews!

Bound by Night by Larissa Ione – The first in a new series by Larissa and just as exciting as her Demonica/Lords of Deliverance.  Speaking of which, the next book in that series, Reaver, is on this list too as it was utterly fantastic and had my jaw dropping several times as things were revealed.

Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones – This is another series I love so much that I keep racing through them and end up not reviewing.  It’s a habit I really have to stop as my memory is just not up to it these days!  Charley Davidson is one of my favourite paranormal heroines and I just can’t get enough of her!

Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon – I loved, loved, loved this book.  I cried, I laughed, I may have shouted a few times.  A worthy companion to Acheron and a brilliant addition to the Dark-Hunter’s series.  It does take you through the wringer though!

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty – I absolutely loved this light hearted approach to the paranormal and look forward to the next one, out this year!

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan – A gritty and powerful epic fantasy debut.  I loved the magic system he devised and I hold high hopes for the second book.

Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin – First in a new series by Gail and it’s off to a promising start.  I loved her two previous series a lot so it had a lot to live up to!  Looking forward to book two!

J.D. Robb – Thanks to Tracey, I discovered the In Death series and devoured the whole lot one after the other.  It amazed me how good they are and how, even 35+ books in, they are still extremely enjoyable and great reads.

Watch Your Back by Karen Rose – So many of Karen’s books have characters that appear or are related to people in other novels and this one felt like it had been a long time coming.  It was utterly amazing and prompted me to go back and read ALL the previous books!

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan – This book honestly surprised me and I’m annoyed at myself that I didn’t do a review after I read it, as it so very much deserved it.  It’s an amazingly gritty fantasy, written with a single focus and I urge anyone who loved David Gemmell’s work to pick this up.  I will be re-reading this (and reviewing this time, dammit)!

Unseen by Karin Slaughter – Every time I think Karin has outdone herself, she releases the next book and raises the bar even higher.  I can’t get enough of Will Trent and Sara Linton!

Lover at Last by J.R. Ward – The latest book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series was hotly anticipated and I was not left disappointed!

Tracey

While my list has some similar ones to Grete, I also have some totally different genres to her.  Being much more of a romantic sap, it will come as no surprise that I have a number of romances on my list.

The books I share Grete’s love for are :

Styxx of course – the most anticipated book of the year for me and one that did not disappoint. Probably my book of the year!

Reaver by Larissa Ione – another eagerly awaited novel that ticked all the boxes for me.

The In Death series by J.D. Robb – I read all 35 books in 4 weeks and absolutely loved them.

For me though the year was all about romance! There were books from my favourite romance authors: Stephanie Laurens, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Sarah MacLean and Sarah Morgan.

I really cannot express all the books that I loved this year, I read well over 100 of them! Since I tend to read books I know I will enjoy, it is so hard to only pick a few.

If I was to recommend a few books to other readers I would go with the following:

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan – I have been a fan of Ms. Morgan for many years, reading all her Mills and Boon books and it was great to have a longer book to enjoy. This is romance at its best and a great start to a new series.

Nora Roberts has featured heavily in my reading this year but a trilogy I particularly enjoyed was the Key Trilogy – Key of Light, Key of Knowledge and Key of Valour. This has a paranormal slant with Ms. Roberts’ usual excellent romance story.

Sarah MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series is recommended reading, particularity if you enjoy historical romance. I have loved all the books in this series and look forward to the next one hopefully coming in 2014!

Will definitely be doing more reviews this year, even if only a few lines, there are so many great books I want to share my love of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Social Update

Hi Readers & Book Fans.

As we approach the end of 2013, I just wanted to write a short post to let you know how things are going, both with the site and in life.

In life, things have been up and down for Greté recently in terms of her health.  She suffers from long term depression (dysthymia specifically) and despite the support and medication there are days, and sometimes weeks, where she is just not able to deal with reading, or writing reviews.  At times, reviews from other folk who contribute will pile up in the background on the site, and Greté’s illness will just prevent her from reading them, approving them and publishing them.

Greté is very much dedicated to the site, and is very much dedicated to getting back and posting some more content.

The website has been Greté’s hobby for a few years, and she is proud of what she has built, and grateful for your readership, support and comments.  As soon as she’s feeling well enough, she’ll be writing reviews and posting them again.  Thanks again for your support and understanding, and here’s to a better 2014.

In closing, here’s hoping you have a very Merry Christmas, and an awesome New Year.

When BookThing went to Piatkus…

Tracey and I were lucky enough to be invited back to Piatkus for their Blogger party.  There was a guest… a very special guest! Who was it?

This pic was completely set up, honest!Only Sherrilyn Kenyon!

Yes I said that right!  Sherrilyn was over in the UK to do a signing tour of the amazing Styxx, she stopped by the party to say hi, have a chat and sign some books for us.  I can quite honestly say I have never met a more friendly and gracious lady, and it was a privilege to meet her in such an intimate setting.  Hearing her talk about the love she has of her family, her characters and even her fans was fantastic and I can see now how much of her ‘voice’ is in her work. She also has a mean poker face when it came to trying to get some hints for future Dark-Hunter stories.

Along with us, there were some other bloggers – Laura from Book Chick City, Sarah from Feeling Fictional, Charlotte, Nikki, Lizzie and Noemie from BestChickLit.com, Erin from Wrathsqueen’s Books and Michelle Drew from Waterstones Piccadilly.  It was lovely to meet you all!

The lady herself, Sherrilyn KenyonGrete, Sherrilyn and TraceyTracey with her VERY well read copy of AcheronMy quote on the back of Styxx!Sherrilyn and Sarah (Feeling Fictional)Laura (BCC), Tracey and Sarah (Feeling Fictional)I don't want to leeeeave!

And of course, we would never have been there at all had it not been for three lovely ladies from Piatkus! A huge thank you to Anna Boatman, Grace Menary-Winefield and Sarah Harwood for having us and continuing to feed our book addiction 😉

P1050726

 

Our Week in Books – Week 27, 2013

 Tracey

This week I read six books – in no particular order.

I read a couple more of the In Death series by J.D. Robb – Vengeance in Death and Holiday in Death. Both excellent books and each rated at 4.5 stars. I highly recommend reading this series if you are a fan of detective stories with a good dollop of romance. As the series goes on there is still romance but definitely much less than in the first couple of books.  Surprisingly for me, I don’t mind! The romance that’s there is great but the stories themselves are really good.

I finished off Key of Valor by Nora Roberts and again really enjoyed that, the Key Trilogy comes to an end with this book. You definitely need to read the series in order however, as they do follow on almost seamlessly.

I also read three historical romances this week – the first was More Than a Mistress by Mary Balogh. I find Ms. Balogh’s books very romantic and they always manage to elicit a very satisfied sigh at the end and this one is no exception – 4 stars.

I last two were Mills & Boon books by Helen Dickson – A Question of Marriage and The Wedding Wager. I loved both of these regency era romances with very feisty heroines and would give them both 4 stars.

So there you have it, a nice healthy dose of romance for me this week – nothing new there then!

 Grete

I’m still caught up in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire but sadly I’m almost finished with the available books.  I finished A Feast For Crows, moved swiftly on to A Dance With Dragons Part 1: Dreams and Dust and am now reading A Dance With Dragons Part 2: After The Feast.  I don’t think I am going to know what to do with myself but will be avidly for news of when Winds of Winter will be released!

That’s all from me this week, happy reading!


Our Week in Books is a regular blog post from Tracey and Grete, catching up on everything they’ve read recently.

Our Week in Books – Week 26, 2013

 Tracey

This week was all about J.D. Robb and her In Death series. I have been meaning to start this series for a while now, since I really enjoy the books written by Nora Roberts. I managed to pick up the first one – Naked in Death and now I am hooked! I raced through that one (full review coming soon), and bought the second one on my kindle – Glory in Death which was just as good.

Fortunately I had books three (Immortal in Death) and five (Ceremony in Death), so I was able to carry on with the series. I am totally loving it and on the one hand I’m really excited there are so many to read, but on the other my purse is saying noooooooo!

This series follows Lieutenant Eve Dallas, a homicide detective, through various cases and in my opinion the books are getting better as I go along. While not the pure romance I usually enjoy, there is enough romance in this to satisfy me, along with great mysteries.

Having run out of J.D. Robb to read for now I picked up a contemporary romance by J.R. Ward called An Irresistible Bachelor. a very enjoyable sexy romance – full review to come later.

I am currently in the process of reading Key of Valor which is the third book in the Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts. In my opinion this is one of her best series.

 Grete

My days for the last two weeks have been entrenched in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire!

I’ve romped through A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords Part One: Steel and Snow, A Storm of Swords Part Two: Blood and Gold, and am now a good way into a Feast of Crows.  Nice, light reading (not!) I am going to feel a bit lost when I’ve run out of books and I will have joined the masses waiting for the next to be released 😉

I’ve really enjoyed it so far and it has kept me very entertained.  It can be difficult to separate some of it from the TV show but in my opinion, both stand up on their own merit and I’m really impressed with how well it’s been translated to the small screen.  I will try to do a ‘series so far’ review but it will be difficult because of spoilers and of course the TV Show.

That’s all folks!


Our Week in Books is a regular blog post from Tracey and Grete, catching up on everything they’ve read recently.

Our Week in Books – Week 24, 2013

 Tracey

I managed to read 5 books this week. I picked up one by Debra Webb called Traceless which was really good. A romantic suspense with so much more going on than a simple murder. The hero really had a rough ride having spent 10 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, and this story focuses on him trying to get to the bottom of who did it. Really tense in places and kept me glued throughout. My only criticism would be that people still got away with things they shouldn’t have done, and I can’t say any more than that without giving the ending away! – 4.5 stars

Having enjoyed the above book I was delighted to find I had another Debra Webb in my collection called Nameless. It’s another romantic suspense with a hero that was wronged in the past, and while this was good it didn’t grab me as much as Traceless did. Definitely worth a read though if you like this type of book – 4 stars

Lois Lane Tells All by Karen Hawkins was my next book. It’s a romantic comedy that for me did not really take off. While I enjoyed the relationship between the protagonists, the rest of the story was a bit odd and I didn’t really find it very humorous (although I think it was meant to be). Not my favourite and while I would read more books by this author if they came my way, I wouldn’t actively seek them out – 2 stars

Next was a Mills and Boon romance – The Secret Sinclair by Cathy Williams. A good romance with not much to the story other than the relationship building, always enjoyable but the ending came up a bit quickly – 3 stars.

Finally this week I read not Quite a Lady by Loretta Chase – my good old favourite genre historical romance.  This was the first one I have read by Ms. Chase and I really enjoyed it. Full review coming later this week – 4.5 stars.

 Grete

Well the good news is my back is getting easier, the bad news is I’m trying to move around more which means less time for reading.  I’m also so behind in reviews I shall get to do some good ‘sitting upright’ exercises 😉

I finished Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey and it was amazing, I love everything about this series and all three books so far, of The Expanse have been solid 5 star reads.  Reviews are coming (honest!)

Winter is also coming (see what I did there?) as I decided I needed to re-read A Game of Thrones.  I can’t remember where I got up to in the series the first time round (perhaps book 2 and then was waiting for book 3) and also as my memory isn’t as good as it used to be, I wanted to catch up.  I love the TV series as well and it was bugging me I couldn’t remember key events that might be coming up! I thoroughly enjoyed my romp through the first book and am now into book 2, A Clash of Kings.  I do like my light reading 😉

So that’s it from me!

Tracey is coming to visit at the weekend and we usually end up doing at least a little bit of book shopping… and also I love the fact that when she’s here, we can comfortably read in the same room in utter silence and have brief conversations about our books 😉

Have a good week x


Our Week in Books is a regular blog post from Tracey and Grete, catching up on everything they’ve read recently.