Happy birthday to me

Today is my birthday, dear readers! My parents took me out to dinner and then gave me the greatest gift you could give a book-aholic. Books!

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Thank you Mom and Dad!!

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Jane and the Damned by Janet Mullany

Jane Austen is an aspiring writer and a respectable young woman. She knows that ladies like herself should shun the Damned – beautiful, fashionable, and exotic vampires who live on the fringe of Georgian English society. And yet when she is turned in to one of the Damned, she agrees to her family’s wishes and leaves for Bath to take the waters, the only known cure.

What was to be a quiet trip however, becomes an eye-opening experience for Jane. The vampires she had encountered before are in Bath as well. Exposure to them brings jealousy and betrayal; friendship and love, to Jane’s small world. All these new experiences must be set aside though for England is at war with France and the French have taken to invading Bath.

Jane and the Damned is a kind of alternate reality type novel. While Jane Austen and her family did travel to Bath, it was several years after this novel takes place. The French did not overtake the city and a clan of vampires certainly didn’t drive them out. Though to be honest, that would have been very interesting!

Glimpses of famous Jane Austen characters are seen scattered throughout the book, something that is quite amusing and proof that Ms. Mullany knows her Austen. Light and very tongue in cheek at times, near heartbreaking at others, I found it very entertaining. The book itself has mixed reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon. Personally I thought it quite enjoyable.

True Austen fans might have trouble with characterization, but that shouldn’t deter any one from reading this. Jane and the Damned is a delightful romp and I am looking forward to reading the sequel.

 

 

The Lazarus Gate by Mark Latham

Captain John Hardwick fought for King and Country in a dozen different countries. Captured and held in Burma, his release is unexpected as is the subsequent recruitment by a mysterious gentlemen’s club. The club battles the forces of the supernatural that pose a threat not only to England but to the world as well and Hardwick is their newest member.

Dangerous explosions have rocked the city of London, the perpetrators seeming to disappear as quickly as they appear. Some believe the bombings to be random, others attribute them to less than savory groups run amok; yet others believe the truth to be far different. And far more dangerous.

I have always enjoyed books set in the Victorian age, whether they are factual or fantasy based. I can pretty much guarantee that if the book says it’s set in the Victorian age, I will give it a read. The Lazarus Gate was no exception. I had heard of the author Mark Latham before but had never read one of his books before, until now. And once again I was pleasantly pleased with what I found.

We are introduced to Captain Hardwick just as he is being released from his Burma prison. When he returns to London, things seem almost too perfect as he is immediately able to find lodgings and even a job. Captain Hardwick questions his good luck almost immediately and it is this ceaseless questioning that serves him as he is assigned to the most recent spate of bombings. Many of his peers in the club take the events at face value but Hardwick believes there is something more. Something beneath the surface and he finds he is not far from the truth.

Too many details will of course give the ending away, and that would spoil all the fun. Mr. Latham does an excellent job of leading the reader down one lane of thinking, making them believe they know the who and the how of what happens next, only to have the truth be something quite different. Several times I thought I knew how the scene would play out only to be surprised.

Lush descriptions of the city and surrounding countryside truly bring the setting of the story to life. The prose is evocative of novels from the Victorian era itself, being both gritty and fanciful. I found the beginning a little slow but once the action really started I found it difficult to put the book down.

While this is the first book in a series, it easily can stand on its own as a single novel. The ending is done in a way that even if the reader does not pick up the second book they are not left feeling at loose ends. Plot threads are tied up neatly enough but little pieces are left for a second or third book to explore.

Fast paced and nicely written, I enjoyed The Lazarus Gate. Fans of sci-fi and fantasy type genres will want to give this one a read.

 

The Journal of Vincent du Maurier by K.P. Ambroziak

Happy New Year my dear readers! We are starting the year of 2016 off with a bang with a most amazing book. A book I could not put down and could not wait to share with you all.

In the near future, humans are a dying breed. It is a time of the bloodless; mindless creatures who were once human but now feed on humans. They are not alone though as vampires walk among them and also require humans to feed. However healthy humans are in short supply and Vincent du Maurier is very hungry.

Evie is quite likely the last human alive and she is also pregnant, something that is both a boon and a curse for Vincent. As he struggles to keep her and her unborn child safe from both the bloodless and his own clan he must also face a terrible decision. To feed from Evie risks her death and the eventual starvation of his people. To deny his nature however is to risk something far worse – becoming a vampire with a human conscience.

Like so many of the books I review here, I came across The Journal of Vincent du Maurier on the New Releases section of my library. Being an avid fan of vampire novels I picked it up and am so glad I did.

Written in journal format, The Journal follows titular character Vincent du Maurier. He is an incredibly old vampire and as the book opens he is trying desperately to keep his small clan alive. A strange virus runs rampant through the human population creating a zombie like creature that is dangerous to both human and vampire alike. At first this is not a problem for the vampire populace but as the number of humans slowly dwindles, the vampires food source dwindles with it.

Vincent himself is a very interesting character; he is what is generally described as a “survivor”. At first he is doing what he must to keep his clan and his beloved alive, however as the novel progresses his energies are put towards keeping Evie and her baby alive. He can often be cold and heartless yet it is almost to be expected. The world the book is set is a cruel one.

While I could easily go on and on about the book, to do so would be to give away vital plot points as well as the ending of the book. Neither are things I want to do.

The Journal of Vincent du Maurier is the kind of book that will appeal to a great number of readers. Fans of vampires, fans of post-apocalyptic type worlds, fans of zombies – all will find something to enjoy in this book. It is the first of three novels and I am eager to add all three to my shelves.