Queen of All She Surveys by Emma Holly

Overview
Image result for beyond the dark angela knight book cover

Title: Queen of All She Surveys
Author: Emma Holly
Series: Tale of the Demon World #5
In: Beyond the Dark (Lora Leigh, Angela Knight, Emma Holly & Diane Whiteside)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Demons, Gaslamp, Paranormal romance
Dates read: 11th May 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher: Jove
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: It had been a sleepy outpost then, held but not exploited by a king who valued creature comforts above conquest.

Synopsis

Emma Holly does it… in a fantastic world where a powerful queen rules – until she commits the sin of falling in love with the handsome son of her worst enemy.

Thoughts

I love Emma Holly’s writing. I also finally received some of her Tales of the Demon World books. There is just something… fun about the idea of these sexual vampires that come from another world. Set in a regency, steampunk style world. It all weaves together to create a seriously unique reality and world that I’m never quite expecting.

In the case of this story… I was confused throughout. Which I kind of liked. I mean, there’s a gorgeous prince who is known for his god-given sexual gifts. And the woman who is queen who is never quite sated. Of course you know that they are obviously going to fall in love and end up being each other’s perfect sexual partner. But there were so many characters and feeling of back story that I found a little dense. Perfect reason to pick up the rest of the books… that will probably fix the confusion.

The respect that both the monarchs / leads in this story have for one another is kind of brilliant. I’ve been reading a lot of books which feature more domineering personalities. And although there is still respect, I love that there really isn’t a dominant person in this partnership. Rather, both the characters seem to be dominant in their own worlds and arenas, without having to prove themselves any further to their counterpart. That sense of comfort and maturity in themselves was exactly what I wanted. Now I just need more!

<- Caught by the TidesIn a Wolf’s Embrace ->

Image source: Amazon

The Celtic Tarot by Julian De Burgh

Overview
The Celtic Tarot: Instruction Book: De Burgh, Julian, Guinan, Mart:  Amazon.com.au: Books

Title: The Celtic Tarot
Author: Julian De Burgh
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: CelticNon-fiction
Dates read: 17th February – 11th May 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2000
5th sentence, 74th page: Positive interaction between these two people secures a solid foundation for the future.

Synopsis

What culture is more steeped in mystery, magic, passion and war, or can more vividly inspire us to use and understand the Tarot, than that of Ireland? There is probably no other culture in the world which stimulates as much interest as that of the Celtic people. By using tales from Celtic mythology we can gain greater depth and insight from Tarot readings, for by interpreting these stories into concrete terms our unconscious minds allow them to become powerful tools for profound inner change and growth.

The Celtic Tarot pack contains everything you need to become an accomplished Tarot reader. Use the cards with sensitivity, follow the instructions and interpretations in the accompanying book with care, and the wisdom of the Tarot can be yours.

Thoughts

This was informative. I loved the layout and structure of this manual.

There really isn’t much to say about this kind of thing, other than it was well laid out and informative. What I liked most about this though is that no matter when I want to go back to it, it will be incredibly easy to find the exact location of the information that I want.

All in all, an intriguing read. One that I will most definitely have to repeat.

<- More CelticMore non-fiction ->

Image source: Amazon

The Getaway by Sonya Bateman

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of paranormal romance 2 book cover

Title: The Getaway
Author: Sonya Bateman
In: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2 (Trisha Telep)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal romance
Dates read: 11th May 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: Donatti grimaced.

Synopsis

All they want is a romantic weekend away. But, between a fit of the bitches and a wrong turn… things might not quite turn out quite the way they wanted for their romantic getaway…

Thoughts

From the tone of this piece, I was completely expecting this short story to be a part of a series. I mean, it’s a couple that have a kid together, and that had buckets of history. The set up felt like this was after book two or three in the series. But, from what I can see on Goodreads, that is not the case. I’m still a little unbelieving and perplexed… but still.

I suppose that’s one thing which says wonders about this short story…. the world building is so intense that it feels like a part of a bigger series. You are dropped straight into the action and the relationships. Placed in a somewhat unexpected situation that draws you in from the very beginning and makes you kind of… bereft when the final page is turned.

The lead female in this story is definitely somewhat of a kindred spirit to me. I can be a total raging bitch. I’m moody and argumentative at the best of times. And I have this amazing man that just… deals. The fact that she has the same, and then acknowledges her bitchiness at the end (as I so often do) made me smile. I completely get this type of persona. Which is probably why I’m still wondering if there is another book by Bateman that has a similar lead female.

<- The GauntletMr Sandman ->

Image source: Amazon

Gray’s Anatomy by Henry Gray

Overview
Barnes and Noble | Grays Anatomy | Henry Gray P.R.S — Heebie Jeebies

Title: Gray’s Anatomy
Author: Henry Gray
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, MedicalNon-fiction
Dates read: 18th February – 11th May 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Leatherbound
Year: 1858
5th sentence, 74th page: When a small quantity can be collected, it is found to resemble lymph, and like tha tfluid coagulates sponatneously; but when secreted in large quanities, as in dropsy, it is a more watery fluid, but still contains a considerable amount of proteid which is coagulated on boiling.

Synopsis

No longer need you search through second-hand bookstores for a scarce, used copy of this grandfather of all anatomy books. It is here in this unabridged facsimile of the 1901 edition — with a full 1,257 pages and 827 illustrations!

Thoughts

I started reading this because I wanted to understand a bit more about human anatomy for my Jiu Jitsu. I mean, how else can you figure out how best to bend people and make them tap if you don’t know how bodies work? It didn’t necessarily quite work that way. But it was still a supremely interesting read.

The language in this is hard going. Which is kind of expected, because it is a textbook. And it is most definitely of the sort that I will have to read again and again to even get a drop of the knowledge in this textbook. But, it’s also presented in a way that is actually quite accessible.

Human anatomy has always perplexed and confused me (for whatever reason, animal anatomy makes sense to me when human doesn’t, go figure). So I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of the writing in this went completely over my head. But, I still enjoyed it.

This is an awesome, beautiful book to have on my shelves. The fact that it is the Barnes and Noble Leatherbound edition just makes it all that much prettier and fun. Definitely a book I will flick through again and again.

<- The Complete Sherlock HolmesFairytales from Around the World ->

Image source: Heebie Jeebies

Dracula and Other Horror Stories by Bram Stoker

Overview
Image result for barnes and noble leatherbound dracula and other horror stories book cover

Title: Dracula and Other Horror Stories
Author: Bram Stoker
In: Dracula and Other Horror Stories (Bram Stoker)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Horror
Dates read: 14th September 2020 – 11th May 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Collection
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Leatherbound
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: I trust her feeling ill may not be from that unlucky prick of the safety-pin.

Synopsis

Dracula and Other Horror Classics collects the most memorable tales of horror by Bram Stoker. In addition to Dracula–the landmark vampire novel that set the pattern for virtually all vampire fiction written after its publication in 1897–this omnibus collects the novels The Jewel of Seven Stars and The Lair of the White Worm. In also includes a dozen of Stoker’s short tales of the macabre, including “Dracula’s Guest,” a sidebar to his famous novel.

For more than a century, Bram Stoker’s fiction has inspired countless writers of horror and fantasy fiction. This volume allows readers a unique opportunity to appreciate the full range of his dark imagination.

Dracua and Other Horror Classics is one of Barnes & Noble’s leatherbound classic editions. Each volume features authoritative texts by the world’s greatest authors, in exquisitely designed bonded-leather bindings with distinctive gilt edging and an attractive silk-ribbon bookmark. Decorative, durable, and collectible, these books offer hours of pleasure to readers young and old and are an indispensible cornerstone for every home library.

Thoughts

I seriously enjoyed Dracula. And I do have a bit of a penchant for reading classics late at night over a glass of wine. Bram Stoker is the perfect mood writer for such a penchant too. I mean, a collection of mystery-feeling horrors that have a super eerie feeling. Late at night, with a glass of red wine? Seriously awesome vibes there.

Although I enjoyed this collection, it took quite a while to get through – there is only so much mood writing that you can read before you have to switch to something a little simpler… And, honestly, some of this started to feel a little same-same. Still enjoyable, but just too similar to a certain point.

Towards the end of this collection, I did begin to skim read a little. However, even in skim reading, I found that I was enjoying the storylines.

This might have been a bit of a rushed read at the end, but it is most certainly a collection that I would read again. There are so many wonderful nuances to Stoker’s writing that I can’t wait to see what I pick up on next time!

<- The Dualitists; or, the Death-Doom of the Double-BornDracula ->

Image source: Amazon

Caught by the Tides by Diane Whiteside

Overview
Image result for beyond the dark angela knight book cover

Title: Caught by the Tides
Author: Diane Whiteside
In: Beyond the Dark (Lora Leigh, Angela Knight, Emma Holly & Diane Whiteside)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Historical romance, Magic, Paranormal romance
Dates read: 11th May 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novella
Publisher: Jove
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: Boom!

Synopsis

Diane Whiteside does it… in an alternate universe of Regency magic where two lovers are threatened by a vicious mage and swept up in a turbulent war off the Cornish cliffs.

Thoughts

I really enjoyed this novella. The historical / regency setting is one that is seriously familiar to me at the moment (I seem to be diving into a lot of regency romances at the moment). But it had that great added twist of magic throughout. Something to provide a bit of a different spin on things that I haven’t quite seen yet. And definitely an enjoyable system / storyline.

There seems to have been a few books on my shelves lately that have featured a mysterious man being washed, naked onto the shore. Alright, the lead male in this isn’t actually naked (that I remember). But there is still that sense of the ocean brining true love to someone’s unwitting door. It gave the whole story a sense of joy and mystery that swept me away (like the pun there?). The windswept Cornish coast just added to that fantastic feeling throughout.

All in all, this was a seriously fun and enjoyable story. I have read one or two novellas (or were they short stories) by Diane Whiteside and always find them to be good fun. I’m glad that this story was not different. Definitely one that I would read again.

<- Dragon DanceQueen of All She Surveys ->

Image source: Amazon

In Dreams by Elissa Wilds

Overview
Image result for the mammoth book of paranormal romance 2 book cover

Title: In Dreams
Author: Elissa Wilds
In: The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2 (Trisha Telep)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal romance
Dates read: 11th May 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: Light flickered off the tourmaline blue waves.

Synopsis

She has been missing her husband. But now, a dream man (literally) has come to make her believe in love again. But, can she find that in reality, or just in her dreams?

Thoughts

This was a bit of a fun play on the ideas of astral travel. It was an easy, fun paranormal romance. I don’t get to read many books in which astral projection was the actual goal…. Normally the books that feature this have it as some kind of fluke.

I loved the dreamscape in this story and how that was used for the two leads to get to know one another. I mean, there are so many moments in our daily lives that act as holdups, so it kind of makes sense. Or at least, it makes sense to me. Dream me is definitely more brave than real me.

Yet, even though the dreamscape is beautiful and surreal. It is the daily life that is returned to. Willingly. I love that the best friend in this keeps on pushing for a sense of normalism and comfort in our daily worlds. And doesn’t try to focus on the dreams of what could be. Ultimately, it’s all about living in the here and now.

<- Zola’s PrideThe Gauntlet ->

Image source: Amazon

This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps

Overview
This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps | 9780751575231 | Booktopia

Title: This Will Only Hurt a Little
Author: Busy Philipps
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Comedy, Memoirs, Mental health, Strong women
Dates read: 2nd – 11th May 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: sphere
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: I promised I would call him as much as I could and write him every single day, and he promised to do the same.

Synopsis

Busy Philipps has always been headstrong, defiant and determined not to miss out on all the fun. These qualities led her to leave Scottsdale, Arizona, at the age of nineteen to pursue her passion for acting in Hollywood. But, much like her painfully funny teenage years, chasing her dreams wasn’t always easy.

In this stunningly candid memoir, Busy opens up about chafing against a sexist system rife with on-set bullying and body shaming, being there when friends face shattering loss, enduring devastating betrayals and struggling with the challenges of motherhood.

But Busy also brings to the page her sly sense of humour and the unshakable sense that disappointment shouldn’t stand in her way. The rough patches in her life are tempered by hilarity and joy: leveraging a flawless impersonation of Cher from Clueless into her first paid acting gig, helping reinvent a genre with cult classic Freaks and Geeks, becoming fast friends with Dawson’s Creek castmate Michelle Williams, conquering natural child breath with the help of a II Mad Man II -themed hallucination and more.

Busy is the rare entertainer whose impressive arsenal of talents as an actress is equally matched by her storytelling ability and sharp observations about life, love and motherhood.

Thoughts

I was expecting this to be kind of funny and very, very light-hearted. That is not the case. The story that Busy tells you about her life is kind of confronting and definitely heartbreaking in moments. But it is told with a sense of lightness that makes you feel… less uncomfortable.

I’ve not had much exposure to Busy Philipps beyond Cougar Town. Or at least, I didn’t think that I had. Turns out that she’s been involved in a few things I like, and now I need to go back and watch them. Particularly now that I know her story behind the moments in her acting career that I recognise. That even though I love her acting on screen, there is a whole story behind every moment that I was previously unaware of.

I can’t believe the amount of strength that would be required to deal with some of the crap that Busy has been through. I mean, I recognise some of it in my own life (I mean, we’re both women and there are just some horrors…). But I also don’t work in a field that is so damn focused on how we look and is just, frankly… toxic.

One of the things that really stuck out with me from this book was that Busy Philipps has consistently fought mental health. For her entire life. The different ways she’s tried to deal with it are intriguing and make for a very interesting memoir. It also drives home the fact that regardless of how bright and cheerful someone may appear on screen… there is a lot more going on behind the scenes. All in all, I could not put this novel down. It was brilliant and poignant. Nothing like what I expected and one of those impossible to forget kind of stories. I would definitely read this one again and again.

<- Rosa Parks: My StoryFollow the Rabbit-Proof Fence ->

Image source: Booktopia

Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker

Overview
Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker

Title: Lair of the White Worm
Author: Bram Stoker
In: Dracula and Other Horror Stories (Bram Stoker)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics
Dates read: 12th February – 11th May 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Leatherbound
Year: 1911
5th sentence, 74th page: I feel that I can open my heart to you about anything.

Synopsis

In a tale of ancient evil, Bram Stoker creates a world of lurking horrors and bizarre denizens: a demented mesmerist, hellbent on mentally crushing the girl he loves; a gigantic kite raised to rid the land of an unnatural infestation of birds, and which receives strange commands along its string; and all the while, the great white worm slithers below, seeking its next victim…

Bram Stoker, creator of Dracula, is one of the most enduring and masterful influences on the literature of terror.

Thoughts

I absolutely loved Dracula. I really wanted to love this story as a result. I mean, I love going down the rabbit hole with certain classics writers. Sadly, that really wasn’t the case with this book. I just… “eh”. Which seems to be a bit of a trend lately.

I still loved the style of writing in this story. And the way in which Stoker was able to retell a story from a different point of view. I love that this story is told in reflection. And I seriously enjoyed every moment of style throughout.

Sadly, I just couldn’t get into the storyline. So badly couldn’t get into the storyline that I can’t actually remember much of it when it comes down to writing this review…

<- The Jewel of Seven StarsDracula’s Guest ->

Image source: Goodreads

Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Overview
Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet, #1) by Julia Quinn

Title: Just Like Heaven
Author: Julia Quinn
Series: Smythe-Smith Quartet #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Historical romanceRegency romance
Dates read: 10th May 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Avon
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: “What did I say?”

Synopsis

HONORIA SMYTHE-SMITH IS:
A) a really bad violinist
B) still miffed at being nicknamed “Bug” as a child
C) NOT in love with her older brother’s best friend
D) all of the above

MARCUS HOLROYD IS:
A) the Earl of Chatteris
B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles
C) NOT in love with his best friend’s young sister
D) all of the above

TOGETHER THEY:
A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever AND the world’s worst musical performance
C) fall quite desperately in love

It’s Julia Quinn at her best, so you KNOW the answer is…
D) all of the above

Thoughts

As always, I loved this book. There is just something fantabulous about Julia Quinn that draws me in each and every time. The stories may be beautifully simple, but they’re also seriously enjoyable. And this one is definitely no exception. The fact that it is the first of the stories about the Smythe-Smiths whom are frequently mentioned throughout the Bridgertons series… well, that just made it that much better.

I love how intricately Julia Quinn is able to weave her different series. Although they can all stand on their own, they are also interconnected. In the case of this, you have the Mad Baron story (which was authored by another beloved character) and a great conversation or two with some of the Bridgerton boys. That, and Lady Danbury makes another appearance (she’s my favourite) as does the infamous Smythe-Smith Music night.

Honoria is a great lead. She is witty and strong, but not necessarily going against the grain to be strong. She also is completely unhesitant to do the right thing for Marcus, even if she may be putting her own reputation at risk. I do love the scene with the mole hole the most though… it was both hilarious and adorable.

Marcus is the perfect quiet male lead. He just kind of plods along and then, when he realises that he’s in love, goes with it. There is none of the angst and painful denials in this story that seem to be in a lot of romances. And I entirely put that down to Marcus not being a numpty. That, and Honoria also just has faith in him and doesn’t get all bogged down in her own mind.

All in all, this was a great way to spend an evening / day and just… drift in the happiness that Julia Quinn is always able to inspire. Seriously fun and most definitely another one to add to the “favourites” shelf.

<- More Julia QuinnA Night Like This ->

Image source: Goodreads