by Josephine Myles
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Letting go is the first step to healing…or bringing it all crashing down.
The Bristol Collection, Book 1
When an avalanche of books cuts off access to his living room, university librarian Jasper Richardson can no longer ignore the truth. His ever-growing piles of books, magazines and newspapers can no longer be classified as a “collection”. It’s a hoard, and he needs professional help.
Professional clutter clearer and counselor Lewis Miller thinks he’s seen it all, but even he has to admit he’s shocked. Not so much by the state of Jasper’s house, but by the level of attraction he still feels for the sexy bookworm he remembers from school.
What a shame that Lewis’s ethical code forbids relationships with clients. As Jasper makes slow but steady progress, though, the magnetic pull between them is so strong even Lewis is having trouble convincing himself it’s a temporary emotional attachment arising from the therapeutic process.
Jasper longs to prove to Lewis that this is the real deal. But first he’ll have to lay bare the root of his hoarding problem…and reveal the dark secret hidden behind his walls of books.
I really empathised with Jasper in this one. I mostly avoid the mountains of journals by reminding myself that most will either go out of date or still be online somewhere a couple of months after publication. The books may still be taking over, even though I seem to be singlehandedly keeping the library in business as well as the local Oxfam shop.
Besides that, of course, the book had a lovely set of characters in it, and I'm glad to note that we may be getting to see a bit more of some of them in the future.
by Andrea Bramhall
Published by Bold Strokes Books
After a vicious attack, Morgan Masters wakes up to find that nothing is how she remembers it. John Major isn’t the prime minister anymore, the Millennium has been and gone, and it’s been a very long time since she was in college. When Erin’s worst fears become reality and her world crumbles around her, she has to pick up the pieces and start all over again. Can losing everything actually be the best thing that ever happened to Morgan? Can Erin learn to forgive the sins of the past and let her heart lead her head for a change? Or is happiness beyond their reach?
Reviewed on The Good the Bad and the Unread.
by Morgan Keyes
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Betrayal threatens everything Keara dreams of in this fast-paced, exciting sequel to "Darkbeast." Keara, her friend Goran, and the wily old actor, Taggart, are fleeing for their lives. They have all spared their darkbeasts, the creatures that take on their darker deeds and emotions and lift their spirits. But their actions defy the law, which dictates that all citizens must kill their darkbeasts on their twelfth birthdays. There are rumors of safe havens, groups of people called Darkers who spared their darkbeasts and live outside the law. To find the Darkers, the trio must embark on a dangerous journey--and evade the Inquisitors who are searching for them everywhere. In the middle of winter, freezing and exhausted, Keara and her companions are taken to an underground encampment that seems the answer to all their hopes. But are these Darkers really what they appear to be?
Reviewed on The Good the Bad and the Unread.
King Charles, Prince Rupert, and the Civil War: From Original Letters
by Charles Petrie
Published by Routledge & Kegan Paul Books
A selection of Civil War letters from the collection of Colonel Alan Dower; most previously unpublished. Includes letters between Sir Thomas Fairfax and his father; and from other notable figures including Cromwell, Montrose and the Countess of Derby.
Disappointingly, this book suffered from not having enough letters to and/or from King Charles I and Prince Rupert. The others were interesting, but there are better collections of Civil War correspondence out there.
The Children of the New Forest
by Frederick Marryat
Published by Biblio Distribution Centre
In 'The Children of the New Forest', Marryat describes the trials and triumphs of the four Beverley children, orphaned during the English Civil War and forced to take refuge with a poor woodsman in the New Forest.
I'm sure I read this more than once as a young person, but I loved revisiting all the characters as an adult and with a much greater knowledge of the times they were living through. Beautiful illustrations in this edition too.
by Jo Baker
Published by Doubleday
If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah thought, she would be more careful not to trudge through muddy fields. It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah's hands are chapped and bleeding. Domestic life below stairs, ruled tenderly and forcefully by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman smelling of the sea, and bearing secrets. For in Georgian England, there is a world the young ladies in the drawing room will never know, a world of poverty, love, and brutal war.
This was such a cleverly thought out book. Thanks to the joy of eBooks I was able to cross reference each major character in Longbourn with their appearances in Pride and Prejudice and found that while Mrs Hill is mentioned by name around a dozen times, Sarah (our protagonist here) is mentioned only once. Mr Hill is derived from a single reference to 'the butler', James from one mention of 'the footman' and Polly from one reference to the Bennetts having two housemaids. The other new character we meet is Ptolomy Bingley, a freeman of colour, and previously a slave on the Bingley's sugar plantations. Because obviously the Bingleys are relatively New Money, and it makes complete sense for their fortune to have been made in sugar (I wish I'd thought of that!).
Even before Ptolomy, or even James, first enters the novel, we get a very definite sense from Sarah's thoughts that there's a whole wider world out there that the original novel never touches on. Once James arrives at Longbourn, and then Sarah meets Ptolomy, however, we start to see that these characters – who were hardly noticeable in Austen's world – have thoughts and opinions of their own regarding such topics as the abolition of slavery and the Peninsular War.
Some of the main Austen characters hardly feature or are viewed very differently here. Darcy hardly features; Mr Collins is viewed firstly as a future employer to be impressed and then as a rather sorrowful figure, whose servants live in fear of Lady Catherine's disapproval; Wickham turns out to be even nastier than he at first appeared. Jane and Elizabeth come out of things reasonably well; although they can be thoughtless towards Sarah at times, they also lend her books (not always ones that are really suitable!) and let her have some of their old dresses (which are at least better than those she's forced to wear for work).
Some of James' backstory and secrets came as a surprise to me, although others had been well foreshadowed, and I adored Mr Hill's bittersweet relationships with various local men (Mrs Hill having good reasons of her own for wanting a marriage that's all about convenience and companionship). And the way that sweet little Polly finally gets to become more than a second housemaid and is allowed to grow into her original name of Mary also made me smile. The library copy had to go back, but I'm definitely getting my own copy sooner rather than later.