Latest Writings

Mountain of Whispers – Book Review


by Keith Robinson

Mountain of Whispers is book 3 from the Island of Fog series.  Book 1 Island of Fog. Book 2 Labyrinth of Fire.

Once again we join Hal and his friends as they are sent on another mission that only they, with their special talents, can complete.  Hal, his friends and their families have had little time to settle into their new home when their new world comes under attack. If the young friends can solve a 15 year old mystery, they may just save everyone in this new world and those few survivors left in the old. 

A terrible secret has been revealed to one of the friends when they looked into a magic glass ball.   The truth of what caused the death of millions in their old world is horrible.  The revelation is so shocking it could cause fragile alliances to crumble.  With their new home under threat of invasion, the alliances are more important now than ever.    Hal and his shapeshifting friends are needed to secure the alliances and bring help to repel the invaders. 

Planning is  interupted when an old soothsayer arrives.  His predictions are generally dismissed but something in what he says makes sense to the friends and lines up with what was revealed in the glass ball.  They convince the leaders to let them investigate the soothsayer’s ravings on their way to gather allies.  So, armed only with their shapeshifting abilities, the friends leave to solve the mystery of The Mountain of Whispers. 

Keith Robinson has wielded his special kind of magic again and this book is just as wonderful as the first two.   The books are packed full of adventure and fun but also deliver some serious messages. For example, they  promote teamwork and respect of others; they explore environmental issues and disasters;  and demonstrate the complex issue of integration, immigration and race relations.  There are so many reasons why these books should be on every school list. So many big messages but you never feel like you’re being preached to.  Keith has a beautiful style of writing that sweeps you along effortlessly.  I hope Keith keeps adding to this series because I for one am not ready to put it down.

Thank you Keith Robinson.

Posted on 19 September '10 by , under Childrens fiction, Reviews, SciFi/Fantasy, Young Adult. 1 Comment.

The Darcy Cousins – Book Review


by Monica Fairview

Monica Fairview again gives us a lovely sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

In her last book The Other Mr Darcy we were introduced to Mr Robert Darcy, cousin to Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley.  Mr Robert Darcy harks from America and is now happily settled in the UK with his lovely wife Caroline.  Arriving just in time for the Easter gathering at Rosings hosted by Lady Catherine De Bourgh, are Robert Darcy’s younger brother Frederick and sister Clarissa.

Clarissa Darcy is both beautiful and lively and believes all the world should live and behave as she does.  So in no time at all she affronts Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her ‘court’. 

Georgina Darcy is taken with her cousin.  She hasn’t anyone of her own age to share with and is impressed with her confidence and forthrightness.  Georgina decides to put herself under the tutelage of her brash American cousin but is it really the way it should be or should Clarissa be under Georgiana’s wing? 

During their time at Rosings the two prepare for their first London season and are introduced to a few of the local Kent eligible men.  For the first time since the unfortunate incident with George Wickham (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen),  Georgiana feels the stirrings of love for one of these young men.

When not impressing the local beaux, the pair decide to get to know their quiet, sickly cousin Anne de Bourgh better.  They tempt her to slip away from her minders and meet them for regular walks.  They are pleased with the changes they detect in Ann and the improvement in her health until one day Ann simply disappears.  Lady Catherine’s heartache and worry turns to rage directed at the girls.  The Darcy families are ejected from Rosings and a rift forms. 

The girls enter London and attempt to enjoy their first season despite the worry surrounding Ann’s disappearance.  Encountering the same Kent gents in London, Georgiana is certain she is falling hard for one man in particular but trouble looms when it seems both girls are trying to impress the same young man.

I do enjoy Monica Fairview’s style of writing and thoroughly recommend her to any fan of Austen or the works inspired by her.

Posted on 12 July '10 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 4 Comments.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter – Book Review


by Seth Grahame-Smith

Abraham Lincoln’s long lost journals have been discovered/acquired by Seth Grahame-Smith – lucky man.  What is revealed in the journals is incredible and offers a chance to understand why the amazing Abraham Lincoln was so truly great. 

The American people are oblivious to what their beloved president really did to secure their freedom.  Abraham Lincoln’s United States was fractured and while north and south fought each other they were ignorant of the real enemy threatening them all… vampires.  Few knew of the existence of vampires walking amongst them but Abraham was one of those few.  He had known from a very young age and had lived his whole life in pursuit of them. 

Abraham’s career in vampire hunting had a shaky start   He had a near fatal encounter with a particularly vicious vampire who prayed on children.   Abraham’s saviour had a wealth of knowledge  and taught him much about vampires and how to hunt them them.  From that moment an alliance was formed and Abraham had help in tracking the most dangerous vampires.  Abraham was fighting a war for the American people long before he entered the white house.

Another fun read by Seth Grahame-Smith.  I find the idea of matching classic literature or iconic characters with gothic or horror themes very entertaining.  I know that it can draw a lot of criticism but quite simply I LIKE IT.   It’s just a bit of fun and does it’s bit for promoting the ‘originals’.  I admit to googling madly after finishing the book because I was hungry for more on the amazing life of the real  Abraham Lincoln.

Posted on 8 July '10 by , under Historical Fiction, Paranormal Fantasy, Reviews, SciFi/Fantasy. 1 Comment.

Legends of Marithia, Book 1 – Book Review


by Peter Koevari

Book 1 – Prophecies Awakening

A tale to prove that children often suffer punishment for the crimes of their parents.  In this case, the punishment reaches across generations.  The disastrous decision of one human king to execute a mother and father in front of their child will set the wheels of prophecy in motion.  Making an enemy of the child of a sorceress and vampire king will reverberate through several lifetimes.

The crime is long forgotten and the kingdom of Marithia lives in relative peace.   However that peace is due to be shattered by betrayal.   The son betrays his father, prince betrays his king.  This ambitious prince is no longer willing to wait for his turn to rule and kills his own parent.    In order to seize the throne he seeks help from the child wronged so long ago.  The revengeful sorceress vampire and her prince commit murder and a bloody war for control of all Marithia begins. 

No prophecy worth its salt wouldn’t have an escape clause and in this case, it is a young knight who who has the power to activate a weapon that should banish the evil marauders forever.  However keeping this knight alive long enough to fulfill the prophecy during a time of war will be an formidable task.       

Legends of Marithia has obviously been a labour of love for Peter Koevari.  His passion for the fantasy genre shows through in his storytelling.   Only real fans of the genre can truly write it and convincingly guide the reader through their mind’s creation. 

I found the book easy to read but the easy writing style is not geared for younger readers, 16/17 or over would be my recommendation, as it contains adult themes.  The story powers along and is a fast read.   In fact the speed is such that you hardly know the characters before all the action begins.  A sly trick Mr Koevari… just when I start getting to know everyone better, the book ends and I have to wait for the next installment to renew my acquaintance.  Good luck with writing Book 2 and I look forward to finding out what happens next.

Posted on 25 June '10 by , under Reviews, SciFi/Fantasy. 5 Comments.

Suspense and Sensibility – Book Review


by Carrie Bebris

This is 2nd book in the Mr and Mrs Darcy Mystery series by Carrie Bebris. 

I’m glad to have finally read this one, I had to read this series out of order, which was no problem really, except that I was disappointed to have not been able to get Suspense and Sensibility immediately after I read Prescience and Prejudice.  I do like the way Carrie Bebris treats Jane Austen’s characters, especially Lizzy Darcy (nee Bennet).  Carrie’s Lizzy is exactly as I imagined her when reading Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Mr and Mrs Darcy find themselves embroiled in another deadly mystery.  This time it involves Lizzy’s beloved sister Kitty, who has been much improved since her removal from her sister Lydia’s influence.  Mrs Bennet persuades Mr and Mrs Darcy to introduce/chaperone Kitty at her first London season.   Lizzy and Kitty are delighted to meet an amiable, handsome young man Harry Dashwood, new owner of Norland estate,  Kitty and Harry are soon in love.  The Darcy family is delighted with the match, unlike Harry’s mother.  The selfish, self-serving wife of the late John Dashwood objects to Kitty’s lack of money and connections.  She does all she can to prevent Kitty usurping her as mistress of Norland. 

Whilst Mrs John Dashwood’s interference is damaging, it soon becomes the least of Kitty’s worries when her lovely Mr Dashwood undergoes a change of character.  With the wedding looming nearer, Harry seems to be enjoying his last day’s of freedom far too much and destroying his reputation and respectability along the way.  Mr and Mrs Darcy need to protect Kitty but with some loyalty left for their new friend Harry, they feel obligated to investigate the dramatic change of behaviour.  What could possibly make a man destroy his life when he about to embark on a marriage based on love?  With the aid of Harry’s sensible and loving relations, Mr Edward and Mrs Elinor Dashwood, the Darcy’s try to uncover the truth and save  Harry’s life.

I enjoy the Mr and Mrs Darcy Mysteries very much and am delighted that Carrie Bebris seems to be enjoying them so much that she’s still writing them.  She has just released The Intrigue at Highbury, which is on my bedstand right this minute.

Thank you Carrie Bebris.

Posted on 21 June '10 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 1 Comment.

The Other Mr Darcy – Book Review


by Monica Fairview

After reading Monica Fairview’s The Other Mr Darcy I can’t believe that we’ve had to suffer all this time with only one Mr Darcy.  In a world full of such fine Austen inspired fiction why should we have ever been denied!

Monica Fairview has written a lovely sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in which we are introduced to Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy’s American cousin Mr Robert Darcy. I was pleasantly surprised to find the icy Miss Caroline Bingley as the heroine.  We witness Caroline and Robert’s first disasterous meeting on the day of Fitzwilliam’s marriage to Eliza Bennet.   

Much to Caroline’s embarrassment she is thrown into Robert Darcy’s path again when he is called on to escort her and her sister to Pemberley due to a family crisis.  The humiliation she faced on the occasion of their first meeting makes further contact unbearable.  Robert Darcy has seen her unmasked and vulnerable.  The public face that Caroline had been schooled to display doesn’t fool him and she is at his mercy.

I really enjoyed this book and felt comfortable and secure with the characters right from the opening pages.  Monica Fairview has treated Jane Austen’s characters faithfully and respectfully.  I enjoyed The Other Mr Darcy so much that I’ve just purchased The Darcy Cousins (also by Monica Fairview) and can’t wait to start it.

Thank you Monica Fairview.

Posted on 12 June '10 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 1 Comment.

Murder at Mansfield Park – Book Review


by Lynn Shepherd

Prepare to throw away your preconceived idea about Mansfield Park (by Jane Austen) and its inhabitants because this novel will turn it on its head.  Fanny Price is not the conservative, gentle heroine we know from Austen’s Mansfield Park.  She is instead a conniving, heartless, selfish heiress.  She is the worst that money and indulgence can create. Since childhood, Fanny and Edmund Norris (yes Norris) have been promised to each other.  The Bertram and Norris families are determined to keep Fanny’s fortune in the family.  The Mansfield household is already precariously positioned when Henry and Mary Crawford – brother and sister – come to stay at the parsonage.  Their arrival creates fractures and a series of violent and tragic events that threaten to destroy the Park and the families within.    Charles Maddox, a London detective is brought in to unmask a murderer.

Lynn Shepherd… what courage… I salute you.  I admit to feeling a little miffed at you for meddling with Fanny Price, one of my favourite Austen characters.  I let out an audible groan when I read how awful she was going to be in your book.  To the credit of your pen though, it was not too much further in and I found myself happy with the wickedness of the wench.  With Fanny so deeply involved with her own self importance you took away our heroine but in her stead you skillfully rewrote Mary Crawford to fill the role and I soon loved her as I do Austen’s Fanny.   Not many Austen inspired novels have messed so much with the essence of the main heroine, but you had the courage to dethrone one and hand it to another… bravo.  

I enjoyed Murder at Mansfield Park very much and raced through to the end to see if my own sleuthing was correct.  As a devoted fan of both Jane Austen and Austen inspired fiction I hope you are planning another.

Thank you Lynn Shepherd.

Posted on 9 April '10 by , under Crime/Mystery, Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews. 1 Comment.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentlemen – These Three Remain


by Pamela Aidan

Book 3 of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentlemen series.

Darcy’s annual visit to his Aunt Lady Catherine De Bourgh is due.  He is still struggling to distract himself from the unacceptable attractions of the lovely Elizabeth Bennet and so embarks on the visit to his Aunt accompanied by his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Believing the visit will help him beat his affliction, he is both mortified and exultant to find Elizabeth Bennet staying at the home of his aunt’s clergyman.  When he succumbs to his affections and unsuccessfully proposes to Elizabeth he is again faced with the challenge of forgetting her.  Returning to his home and his sister, Darcy battles the dark clouds that have enveloped him.  With help from his family, friends and the bollocking administered by Elizabeth he emerges as the gentleman he should have always been.  A chance encounter with Elizabeth gives Darcy opportunity to show her how he has strived to change and renew his addresses but something else descends to prevent their union.. he old enemy George Wickham.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series by Pamela Aidan.  She has been faithful to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and offered up an entertaining look into the life of Mr Darcy both with and away from Elizabeth Bennet.  His heart and mind revealed, his struggles laid out.  I recommend it to any fan of Austen.

Posted on 21 January '10 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews, Romance. 6 Comments.

Labyrinth of Fire – book review


by Keith Robinson

The second book in the Island of Fog series.  Island of Fog was probably my favourite read for 2009.  I love that it was such a great book and it was Keith Robinson’s debut novel.   So in my world that makes it special.

Labyrinth of Fire continues the story of 12yo Hal and his friends as they settle into their new home and their new ‘world’.  They aren’t given long to adjust when they are sent on their first ‘errand’ on behalf of the people who created them.  All the kids are still stretching their ‘alter-ego’ muscles, getting to know themselves as the magical creatures they can shapeshift into.  Hal especially is feeling ill-prepared and is worried that he may have been brought into the new world too early.  Despite looking, feeling, smelling and breathing fire like a dragon,  he still can’t fly.  

A village in a volcanic area is being attacked by harpies and dragons.  The kids are sent to negotiate with their ‘kind’ to stop the attacks.  They have to discover much more about themselves in order to succeed and secure the protection of the humans.

Keith Robinson has a wonderful easy writing style that never slows you up.  I was shocked how quickly I read the first book and am equally so with this one.  Labyrinth of Fire is well written, exciting and absorbing.  I am thoroughly confused as to who the kids can trust and am very anxious to read the third installment.  It is great entertainment for both children and adults.

Thank you Keith Robinson.

Posted on 4 January '10 by , under Childrens fiction, Reviews, SciFi/Fantasy, Young Adult. 2 Comments.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman – Duty and Desire – Book Review


by Pamela Aidan

Book 2 in the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series.

Darcy is following his own advice.  He has successfully separated his friend Bingley from the allurements of Miss Bennet and now he must do so for himself.  It is time he found himself a wife.  A wife equal to his station in life will cure him of his infatuation with Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

When an invitation arrives from an old school friend to attend a party at a country estate, Darcy, out of character, accepts.  He cannot accept just any woman of good breeding for a wife though.  She must be of his level in society but she must also possess the qualities he has recently discovered to be essential to his happiness. Will anyone compare to the witty, clever Hertfordshire beauty with the sparkling eyes?  He may be looking for wife but others, more desperate, are also looking for a husband.  Little does he know what he and his trusted valet Fletcher must do to survive that week.     His quest for love will put Darcy is danger for his life.

I was very surprised by this book.  At first I was a little confused as it steers away from the story we know in Pride and Prejudice.  However, it soon makes sense.  What did Darcy do in those months of separation from Elizabeth?  What could have happened to create the desperation that flavoured his offer to her.

I enjoyed this surprising 2nd book in the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series.

Posted on 29 December '09 by , under Historical Fiction, Jane Austen & Austen Inspired, Reviews, Romance. 1 Comment.