Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review--Layton Green's The Diabolist


My thoughts
Dominic Grey is back in The Diabolist and he has become a favorite of mine among recurring main characters in a book series. This is largely due to Layton Green's talent of creating compelling characters with interesting back stories. Green also has a knack for writing thrillers that are one step away from horror, which I enjoy.

In this installment, Satanic cults and the murder of their leaders are at the center of the plot. Dominic and his partner, Viktor, are drawn into the world of the occult as they investigate the murders. Not only are we treated to the thrills that accompany one's journey into that world, but there are historical and philosophical elements in the book that make the story even more interesting.

The Dominic Grey series was picked up by Amazon's Thomas and Mercer imprint and their acquisition was justified. I'm glad to see Green's books getting recognition for the excellent works they are and I look forward to continued books in the series.

About the book
In this gripping thriller, the bizarre murder of a Satanic priest in San Francisco draws Dominic Grey and Viktor Radek, private investigators of cults, to the scene. Witnesses claim a robed figure, seemingly able to appear and disappear at will, set fire to the priest. When the leader of another Satanic cult in Paris dies under similar circumstances, the case only grows stranger… and more dangerous.

Convinced that a charismatic New Age prophet is behind the murders, the investigators undergo a perilous journey into the world of the occult as they try to penetrate the prophet’s inner circle. From the catacombs of Paris to London’s nefarious East End, from the haunted walls of York to a monastic fortress in the Sicilian wilderness, the case plunges Viktor and Grey into a vortex of black magic, ancient heresies, and the dark corners of their own pasts.

The Diabolist is a chilling novel that not only pulsates with action and suspense, but also mines a trove of fascinating historical, philosophical, and paranormal research to probe some of our closest held beliefs. From the opening pages to the astonishing conclusion, this latest installment in one of today’s most original new thriller series is not to be missed.Purchase your copy at AMAZON.


About the author
In addition to writing, Layton attended law school in New Orleans and was a practicing attorney for the better part of a decade (even though he still resents having cut his hair for that first interview). He has also been an intern for the United Nations, an ESL teacher in Central America, a bartender in London, a seller of cheap knives on the streets of Brixton, a door-to-door phone book deliverer, and the list goes downhill from there.

He has traveled to more than fifty countries, lived in a number of them, and has a burning desire to see every country, city, beach, moor, castle, cemetery, twisted street and far flung dot on the map. Religion and cults, as well as all things spiritual and supernatural, have also been a lifelong interest. Combine the travel and the religion with fifteen years of Japanese Jujitsu training, and the Dominic Grey series was born.

His latest book is The Diabolist.

Visit his website at www.laytongreen.com.

Connect & Socialize with Layton! 

FACEBOOK | GOODREADS

Visit other stops on The Diabolist tour HERE

This book tour was organized by Pump Up Your Book.

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.

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Cat Thursday: Happy Halloween!


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

Happy Halloween to all of my kitty and ghoulie friends! If you do celebrate, have fun and be safe! 

Right off the bat...


I may never recover from this...

Next...the following are what some cat parents might be most afraid of this Halloween...



And last but not least, a little fun Simon's Cat...Halloween style. Yay!




Image sources: lolcats

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review: Robert Parry's The Arrow Chest...a Gothic treat {plus giveaway}


My thoughts
I knew Robert was a gifted historical author upon reading his first novel, Virgin and the Crab. He graciously sent me a copy of The Arrow Chest to read and review and it too me eons to get around to it. Well, I hosted a lovely event at Castle Macabre in last month, Gothic September, and The Arrow Chest read-a-long was the star of the show. I am so glad I finally got around to reading it. I feel it would be a shame for anyone to miss out on reading this wonderful book.

If you have any love for the Tudors, you will enjoy this book because Robert takes his 19th century characters and creates them at a parallel with such illustrious Tudor figures as Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, Cromwell, Thomas Wyatt (the poet) and Jane Parker Boleyn. Mix this element with a genuine Gothic feel with the settings and ghosts and this book is a delight to read.

To give more insight into my feelings on the book, I'm going to share my read-a-long
observations with you.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

Week I
Amos is quite a likable character. He's just as I'd imagine a young artist of the time to be. I like how he interacts with his maid, Beth, and I can't help but hope that there might be a future between the two. I know, I know...I should not hope for such things, but it seems I'm always for the underdog.

Lord Bowlend--Oliver--is quite a boar, is he not. I believe that Daphne has realized her mistake in marrying him. And what was that whole scenario in the study between Oliver, Amos and that Tommy character? That was quite a tense situation. It makes me wonder if there really is something very dark buried below Oliver's (somewhat) polished exterior.

Daphne is an enigma. She seems quite a smart woman and undoubtedly beautiful. I'm hoping that more of her character will be revealed as we continue reading.


Week II
Can I just say again how much I'm enjoying this book!? It's so wonderfully Gothic with all the ghostly apparitions (or ghosts who seem to be real people until they suddenly disappear...delicious!) and mediums and seances. Honestly, while I'm reading I'm transported. I feel like I'm part of the story.

Shall I reflect on the pomposity and utter asshattery of Oliver Ramsey? He is a most intolerable character. I really think I would have to slap him if I had to be in the same room with him. As Eliza pointed out last week, definite parallels with Henry VIII, with Daphne being the Anne Boleyn in the story. The whole, "I need a male heir" and his attitude toward Daphne when she miscarries. Really the attitude of him and the entire staff is reproachable.

I found myself wondering how Amos inherited from his father when he was estranged, but I guess estranged doesn't necessarily mean disinherited. So, his fortunes have improved, but is he risking it all for the sake of love and truth? Perhaps. I'm really anxious to see how this plays out.

Another quick note...I'm loving the flashbacks via Amos's dreams, where Daphne is clearly Anne Boleyn, but who is Amos from that past? I hope we find out!


Week III
It's the third week into our lovely read of The Arrow Chest and I have to say that I'm enjoying it more and more as I keep reading. With the terrific insight of my reading companion, Eliza, aspects of the story have been brought to light and have opened up my understanding of the parallels to the historic figures of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII and other surrounding players of that era.

In this section, we are really beginning to get a more Gothic feel, as I can't help but envision the castle ruins at which Daphne and Beth bide their time waiting for Amos and his carriage rescue. Beth's story is so heart wrenching. We get the connection of her to Elizabeth I...the early mistreatment she faced when her mother was so maliciously disposed of and the subsequent danger she experienced on her path to the throne. Even Beth's relationship with her sister hearkens to the strained relationship of sisters Elizabeth and Mary Tudor. I'm loving the friendship that has developed between Beth and Daphne because I'm reminded of mother and daughter and perhaps the sort of relationship Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth would have had if Anne had lived. I find myself hoping that Beth has a triumphant future ahead of her, even though I'm dreading that Daphne's will be quite tragic.

We really are getting the gist in this book that the plight of women really has not changed much since the sixteenth century. Women are still expected to marry according to position, often without love. They are still expected to produce an heir. And if any impropriety is expected, there is no end to what can be done to them, from being set aside with a divorce, declared mentally unfit and institutionalized, or worse, perhaps disposed of in the worse way...murder. All this, while the man can philander wherever and with whomever he chooses without even an eyelash batted. It's all very outrageous to a woman of the twenty-first century!


Week IV
Of course, the parallels still continued with Lord Bowlend becoming increasingly piggish and downright cruel. One of the things I detest from these eras in history is the terrible treatment of women. "Oh, I don't want to be married to her anymore, so I'll have her declared insane and commit her to an asylum." What an outrage! Thank goodness Daphne had someone there who cared about her. I really thought she was going to succeed with her suicide attempts. I have to say, I was very pleased with the outcome of the story. Can we allow ourselves to hope that Amos and Beth will marry? That was the impression I came away with and I honestly felt throughout that Daphne was nudging Amos toward Beth for that exact thing to take place. So, who was it at the end...Anne Boleyn's ghost or Daphne herself? I guess we have to come to the conclusion we believe to be true.


********


I hope I have sparked your interest! Read more about The Arrow Chest and Robert Parry below and then scroll down to enter the giveaway!


The Arrow Chest
London, 1876. The painter Amos Roselli is in love with his life-long friend and model, the beautiful Daphne - and she with him - until one day she is discovered by another man, a powerful and wealthy industrialist. What will happen when Daphne realises she has sacrificed her happiness to a loveless marriage? What will happen when the artist realises he has lost his most cherished source of inspiration? And how will they negotiate the ever-increasing frequency of strange and bizarre events that seem to be driving them relentlessly towards self-destruction. Here, amid the extravagant Neo-Gothic culture of Victorian England, the iconic poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’ blends with mysterious and ghostly glimpses of Tudor history. Romantic, atmospheric and deeply dark.



Robert Parry is a UK writer of historical fiction with special interests in Tudor and Elizabethan history, Victorian Gothic and Pre-Raphaelite art. His debut novel, ‘Virgin and the Crab’ appeared in 2009, and his 2nd, ‘The Arrow Chest,’ in 2011. He is currently working on a story set in the 18th century – entitled 'Wildish' - which, all being well, should arrive in February of 2013. His work spans the Tudor, Georgian and Victorian eras, and combines reality, dreams and the unconscious within a well-researched and vivid historical setting.

Details, plus news, competitions and more can be found at http://robertparry.wordpress.com
Also, various articles by Robert Parry can be found at http://endymion-at-night.blogspot.com

To enter for winner's choice of a paperback or Kindle copy of The Arrow Chest (open internationally), head over to Castle Macabre and read Robert's post, The Importance of Being Gothic...then come back and tell me in the comments one thing you learned from the post. Don't forget to include your contact info (email, Twitter handle, etc.) so I can notify the winner. This is a quickie...last day to enter will be Thursday, November 7th at 11:59pm CST. Good luck!


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Monday, October 28, 2013

A Reading Life (21)


Halloween is almost here! Where does the time go? My boys are dressing up as Michael Myers and Tony Montana (Scarface). Gabe will be 12 next week and Reece will be 11 in January. I wonder how many more years they will want to do it? I dressed up until I was 16, but those were different times. Plus, I had a sister that was three years younger than me so I had to take her, right? *wink*

Listening To:  Yeah, yeah...still Anna Dressed in Blood and Dracula. But Friday, I'm going to start listening to Christmas music! (head over to my Christmas blog to find out what new Christmas music is being released this year)

Books finished:
Joyland, Stephen King
The Curse Giver, Dora Machado (review)

Reading: 
Stoker's Manuscript, Royce Prouty
The Diabolist, Layton Green
City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova (read-a-long)
The Curse Giver, Dora Machado
Write-a-ThonRochelle Melander

Coming Up:  
This House is Haunted, John Boyne
Season of the Witch, by Natasha Mostert 
The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert

Watching: I haven't broken up with any shows yet! I enjoyed Dracula on Friday, but many people I know did not like it. I'm going to give it a chance. Also, Grimm was back. Yay! My new favorite is American Horror Story: Coven. Of course, second to The Walking Dead. I'm getting ready for the Hallmark Channel's Christmas movies starting Saturday. They rock for making Christmas fanatics like me happy. On the big screen, we went to see We're the Millers at the cheap theater. It was hilarious!

Making: The Chicken Salad Casserole I made last week was really good and I also made Crock Pot Creamy Ranch Pork Chops & Potatoes. The pork chops literally fell off the bone. These two were comfort foods for sure! Tomorrow night, I'm finally making Wallace's (Unputdownables) Soon-To-Be-Famous Chili recipe. I can't wait!

Grateful for: my constant companion, Arya. She's always by my side, unlike Alice, who snubs me and only comes around when it's treat time. *frown*



Looking forward to: still NaNoWriMo! Hoping I will have everything ready. I even revamped my writing blog, Stories Inside. I really like the way it looks now. Very writerly!

Picture: Three books won from the Word of Mouth contest at Bookreporter.com and one review book.

 A Blazing Gilded Age, Rich DiSilvio (for review)
Starry Night, Debbie Macomber (Christmas!)
Christmas Bliss, Mary Kay Andrews (Christmas!)
Identical, Scott Turow

What's been happening in your Reading Life?

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Friday, October 25, 2013

#TuesBookTalk November Selection: The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory


TuesBookTalk Read-a-Longs on Twitter (@tuesbooktalk #tuesbooktalk) and on Goodreads will be reading, The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory, in November. Our first discussion will be on Tuesday, November 5. Our chats take place on Twitter at 9:30pm ET/8:30pm CT on Tuesday nights (see hashtag above). If you can't join us on Twitter, feel free to share your thoughts in the Goodreads group. The reading schedule will be posted in the group. Hope you will join us!

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cat Thursday: Jack-O-Lanterns and Zombies...Oh my!


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

More Halloween fun with cats and then at the end, I've shared a video that my friend, Deb, shared with me on Facebook. Make sure you don't have to pee because it's hilarious! HaHa!

I feel your pain, kitty. We're doing our pumpkin on Friday.


Peek-a-boo!
Ahhhhhhhh!


Image sources: http://meowaum.com/
 lolcats

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Monday, October 21, 2013

A Reading Life (20)


Happy Monday! Another week closer to the holiday season. Yes, I'm one of those. Most people know that about me already. *wink*

Listening To:  Is it getting tedious that I'm still listening to Anna Dressed in Blood? The boys did go back to school today so I'm back in the car for 3 hours plus daily and I was able to resume listening...and right at a particularly gruesome part. I think I'm pretty close to the end. I'm also still listening to Dracula on my computer and will take it in the car when I finish Anna.

Books finished:
Colossus: The Four Emperors, David Blixt (review)

Reading: 
City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
Joyland, Stephen King (TuesBookTalk)
The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova (read-a-long)
The Curse Giver, Dora Machado
Write-a-ThonRochelle Melander

Coming Up:  
Stoker's Manuscript, Royce Prouty
This House is Haunted, John Boyne
The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert

Watching: Still watching the same things I always watch. HaHa. I did catch the premiere of Reign on the CW the other night and despite all the uproar about its historical inaccuracies, I enjoyed it. I loved that Megan Follows (our beloved Anne of Green Gables) portrays Catherine de Medici. Fun! And a complete role reversal from characters that she has normally played. At the theater...I saw Carrie on Saturday. To be honest it has never been my favorite Stephen King story and I was never a big fan of the original film, but being a huge SK fan, I had to go see it. It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't say it was any better than the original either. I did like the more extensive portrayal of Carrie's powers in the new version.

Making:  These two meals I fixed last week were a big hit and will be put in the keeper file...Cheesy Sausage Casserole and Ramen Noodle & Beef Skillet (note: if you do decide to look up and try these two recipes, I did substitute Mexican blend frozen veggies in place of mixed vegetables...I'm not a fan of peas & carrots). This week, I'm trying the Chicken Salad Casserole and Wallace's (Unputdownables) Soon-To-Be-Famous Chili recipe.

Grateful for: the weather finally staying colder. I'm so ready for cold weather and I want some snow this year, darn it!

Looking forward to: will I jinx myself if I say NaNoWriMo next month? I'm getting my plan together starting this week and I'm really thinking that this will be my year to "win"...it's in my soul to get my novel written.  

Picture: Two review books and library sale haul

A Divided Inheritance, Deborah Swift (for review)
The Boleyn Bride, Brandy Purdy (for review)
Vampire Hunter D, Hideyuki Kikuchi
Confessions of a Pagan Nun, Kate Horsley
Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin
Germinal, Emile Zola
The Sea, The Sea, Iris Murdoch
The Last Time I Saw Paris, Lynn Sheene
The Venetian Mask, Rosalind Laker
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte, Syrie James
The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery
Sarah's Key, Tatiana De Rosnay
Something Rotten, Jasper Fforde
Wench, Dolen Perkins-Valdez

What's been happening in your reading life?


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HFVBT: Colossus: The Four Emperors by David Blixt-Review and {Giveaway} #FourEmperorsTour



My thoughts
Ah, the Roman times. The political maneuvering and utter brutality...and I thought the Middle ages were bad. I haven't read many historical novels set in ancient Rome, but I will say that this book illustrates David Blixt as an authority on the subject.

The book is centered around the tumultuous reign of Nero, an eccentric man who cared more about his participation in the arts then he did the land he ruled. Foremost in his mind was to always be the center of attention and so, every decision he made had that as his ultimate goal. In the end, his obsession with the arts would be his undoing. After his death, one family that rose to an unsteady favor during his reign, must now deal with the chaotic year of the four emperors.

Although this is the second book, the first being Colossus: Stone & Steel, it reads as a stand alone. The characters are interesting and are written in such a way that the reader cares what happens to them. The settings and historical situations are impeccably detailed. It is obvious that it was thoroughly researched. This is my first novel by Blixt and I am very impressed. I will definitely be adding him to my list of must read authors.

About the book
Publication Date: April 7, 2013
Sordelet Ink
Paperback; 406p
ISBN-10: 061578318X

Rome under Nero is a dangerous place. His cruel artistic whims border on madness, and any man who dares rise too high has his wings clipped, with fatal results.

For one family, Nero means either promotion or destruction. While his uncle Vespasian goes off to put down a rebellion in Judea, Titus Flavius Sabinus struggles to walk the perilous line between success and notoriety as he climbs Rome's ladder. When Nero is impaled on his own artistry, the whole world is thrown into chaos and Sabinus must navigate shifting allegiances and murderous alliances as his family tries to survive the year of the Four Emperors.

The second novel in the Colossus series.


About the author
Author and playwright David Blixt's work is consistently described as "intricate," "taut," and "breathtaking." A writer of Historical Fiction, his novels span the early Roman Empire (the COLOSSUS series, his play EVE OF IDES) to early Renaissance Italy (the STAR-CROSS'D series, including THE MASTER OF VERONA, VOICE OF THE FALCONER, and FORTUNE'S FOOL) up through the Elizabethan era (his delightful espionage comedy HER MAJESTY'S WILL, starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe as inept spies). His novels combine a love of the theatre with a deep respect for the quirks and passions of history. As the Historical Novel Society said, "Be prepared to burn the midnight oil. It's well worth it." Living in Chicago with his wife and two children, David describes himself as "actor, author, father, husband. In reverse order."

For more about David and his novels, visit www.davidblixt.com


Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #FourEmperorsTour

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a print copy of Colossus: The Four Emperors by David Blixt!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.

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Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon #WWReadathon

STICKY POST - SCROLL DOWN FOR NEW CONTENT


From the host blog:

The Wonderfully Wicked Read-A-Thon is a time when we all get together to dedicate the days of October 11-20 to as much reading as possible. You read as much as you can in order to get yourself a little further through that huge to-read pile! We know real life gets in the way and even if you can’t participate more than one day, you’re welcome to join in on the fun!

October 11 - 20  Sign up!

My reading pile/plans...

Finish The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
Catch up on Northanger Abbey read-a-long
Joyland, Stephen King (TuesBookTalk)
Read some of Under the Dome, Stephen King
Stoker's Manuscript, Royce Prouty
This House is Haunted, John Boyne
Season of the Witch, Natasha Mostert
Start on Colossus, David Blixt (if I have time)

I'm hoping to get in maybe 1000 pages. We shall see!

Good luck to you if you're participating!

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cat Thursday...Halloween High Jinks


Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! Enjoy! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

More Halloween fun...and an Alice appearance at the end!


Creepy #1


Creepy #2


This is definitely an example of a Halloween costume gone terribly awry!


credit for images: lolcats, KULFOTO.COM, 4GIFs.com 

Alice is determined that we NOT play Trivial Pursuit.



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