HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Archive for September, 2008

Book Review: Elizabeth Hawksley – The Cabochon Emerald

Posted by HelenEdith on September 27, 2008

Last weekend Stephen and I went to Orpington and we called in at the library there. It’s part of the Bromley Library system and my library card works there, so I returned my previous stack of books (and discovered that I’d attracted an overdue fine on a couple of them) and had a look round the shelves in the Orpington Library to see what different stock they had.

I found this Regency Romance on the Historical Romance shelves. It is about Anna de Cardonnel, who escaped from France with her father at the time of the French Revolution. The Cabochon Emerald was used as surety to buy the American passports they used to escape from Paris, and was supposed to be retrieved on their arrival in London, where Anna’s father had some money. Unfortunately, the emerald, and the priest who was holding it, had disappeared.

Anna lived with her father and his mistress, who was a patissierre, but on her father’s death, she moved in with Lord and Lady Broxhead and their daughter Julia, to whom she was related. The Broxhead’s regarded the Cabochon Emerald as a myth and treated Anna as a poor relative. She shared Julia’s lessons and her come-out, but was kept somewhat in the shade.

About the time that Julia became engaged, Lord Broxhead received an enquiry about Anna from Laurence Redbourne, who has already been briefly introduced to us as the younger son of a City businessman, and a bad lot. In fact, he got packed off to America due to his embezzling activities, but now he’s returned, and has information from another less than honest ex-clerk that Anna will inherit a fortune. Anna has no knowledge that she has any prospects beyond the £500 her father has left to her, which she will gain control of on her 21st birthday.

We also meet Luke Redbourne, Laurence’s older and completely responsible brother, who is doing very well in the City. Luke realises that Laurence has returned when he receives a visit from Anna, telling him that a match between them will not do. Everyone rather quickly realises that there are two Mr L Redbournes at large in The City of London, but Lord Broxhead, who now has huge gambling debts with Laurence Redbourne, continues to promote a match between him and Anna. Anna eventually refuses him, and leaves the Broxhead’s house and returns to her Tante Marie at the patisserie.

However, that isn’t the end of things, as Laurence is very determined to get his hands on Anna’s supposed fortune and will stop at nothing to achieve it. Even when Luke marries Anna to protect her from Laurence, he still doesn’t give up.

In fact the streets of London become quite dangerous for all concerned for a while, before things come to an entirely satisfactory conclusion, as do most historical romances, of course.

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Book Review: Robin Cook – chromosome 6

Posted by HelenEdith on September 27, 2008

I enjoy Robin Cook’s books when they come my way and Stephen brought this one home from the charity shop.

There are two threads to the story: the Medical Examiner’s office in New York City, where the body of a gangster mysteriously disappears and then reappears minus certain parts; and a research facility in Equatorial Guinea, where a research scientist is having serious doubts about how ethical the results of his research are.

It transpires that the facility in Equatorial Guinea has developed a technique which allows them to breed primates whose organs will not be rejected by the human for whom they are a “double”. This has been done in a very secretive way, but they have been able to recruit a number of rich customers who may be in need of a transplant in the future, and transplants have started to take place.

It further transpires that the gangster was the recipient of a liver transplant and his disappearance from the morgue had more to do with this than with his gangster activities.

We switch between New York and Equatorial Guinea throughout the story as Dr Jack Stapleton becomes more and more curious about how the gangster can have had a liver transplant but not be taking any rejection drugs; while Kevin Marshall, whose process has made it all possible, becomes more convinced that he’s created something that oversteps the bounds of what can be ethically achieved. The company Kevin works for are ruthless in their drive to keep their transplant programme going, and Kevin’s questions about the genetically engineered primates start getting him into a lot of bother.

When Dr Jack Stapleton decides to visit Equatorial Guinea, matters come to a head, and everyone gets their answers, but not without a lot of danger.

I must look out for more of Robin Cook’s books.

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Book Review: Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough – Deluge

Posted by HelenEdith on September 20, 2008

(Book three of The Twins of Petaybee)

Much of Deluge takes place away from Petaybee, as the twins leave on a mission to help their friend Marmie, who has been arrested for rescuing the people from Halau.

There is action going on upon Petaybee as well, as the resourceful folks from Kilcoole evade the invading force who, after arresting Marmie, have decided to turn their attentions to the inhabitants of Petaybee.

The twins end up on the prison world Gwinnet, where Marmie has been taken, along with the refugees from Halau and all of Marmie’s not incosiderable number of employees. There they set about trying to free Marmie, assisted by Sky the otter and Zuzu the cat. Things don’t go entirely their own way, and their alien friends help out in ways that aren’t always completely helpful.

It all ends happily with everyone back where they belong, and this could be the end of the series, although if McCaffrey and Scarborough wish to continue it, there are plenty of characters left to explore.

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Book Review: Mary Balogh – Simply Unforgettable

Posted by HelenEdith on September 20, 2008

(Book one of the Simply series of novels set in an academy for young ladies)

This regency romance tells the story of Frances Allard and Lucius Marshall, the Viscount Sinclair.

It’s a bit daring for a Regency novel, as our couple end up in bed together near the beginning of the book – and without the advantage of a wedding ring! Maybe that makes the plot a bit improbable, or maybe I’m just too innocent to know what really used to go on back then.

Frances turns out to have a beautiful singing voice, but she’s a woman with a secret, and she’s buried herself in Bath, teaching at Miss Martin’s School. When Viscount Sinclair encounters her in Bath, after both have expected never to meet again, he starts to realise that this is a relationship which he wishes to pursue.

He engineers a return to London for Frances, and then he arranges for her to sing before the cream of society – much to her dismay. Eventually her secrets come out, and everything ends very satisfactorily.

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Book Review: Elizabeth Moon – Engaging the Enemy

Posted by HelenEdith on September 20, 2008

(Book three of Vatta’s War)

In this book, Kylara Vatta has assumed command of the ship she took from her disgraced relative, but it’s a ship which isn’t welcome in many law-abiding places, as its reputation precedes it.

Ky feels that the only way to beat the pirates who are loose in the Universe is to get the Privateers to unite to fight the pirates. Ky gets kicked out of one system for voicing her intentions, and her cousin, following in the older, slower ship, continually reaches places just as Ky has left – and has left a mess behind for her cousin to clean up.

A task force is eventually formed, and goes to an uninhabited system to train, albeit not under Ky’s command. Things go badly, but Ky comes out of it quite well. I’m interested to read the next book, where I suspect that Ky will take command and maybe the pirates will start to lose.

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Book Review: Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough – First Warning

Posted by HelenEdith on September 20, 2008

(Book one of the spin-off series dealing with Acorna’s Children)

In this book, McCaffrey and Scarborough introduce Khorii, Acorna’s daughter. Acorna and her life-mate Aari do also feature in the book, but they take a minor role. The central character of the book is Khorii.

Khorii and her parents are on a simple journey through space (on the Condor, with Captain Becker and his first mate, the Makahomian Temple Cat RoadKill) to visit Acorna’s adopted human relatives when they chance upon a derelict space-liner whose passengers and crew are all dead. It turns out to be their first experience of a plague which is spreading through the Universe.

Khorii uses her healing powers as she has never had to before, as she undertakes a trip through various systems in an attempt to cure people of the plague. She is accompanied by her own Makahomian Temple Cat, Khiindi, who happens to be Grimalkin, trapped in cat form. (Grimalkin popped up in earlier Acorna books, where he was an Ancestral Friend who used his shape-shifting abilities to get up to mischief one too many times, which is how he comes to be confined to a cat’s shape.)

Once again, McCaffrey and Scarborough have come up with a good spacefaring adventure yarn, and I will be on the lookout for the later books in the series, of which I believe there are already a couple.

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Website update: Holiday Pictures – October, 2007 – Beamish Township

Posted by HelenEdith on September 14, 2008

After our ride on the steam train, we caught the anti-clockwise tram to the Township. There is a lot to see there, and we really didn’t get time to do it all justice, even though we missed out Pockerley Manor altogether.

I found the Township to be hugely nostalgic. I saw things that were still that way within my memories from the early 1960s, like the long counter in the grocer’s shop – and all the goods piled on shelves behind the counter with a movable ladder for the assistant to fetch them down. We also visited the draper, the garage, the sweet shop and the stationer’s – with the printer upstairs. I could go back and spend another day there easily!

My pictures are here: Helen Stephenson’s North East England Holiday Pictures – October, 2007 – Beamish Township

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Website update: Holiday Pictures – October, 2007 – Beamish Pockerley Waggonway

Posted by HelenEdith on September 6, 2008

We left the Beamish Colliery Village via the woods and emerged on the other side of the Beamish site, where we took the path down to the Pockerley Waggonway.

A steam locomotove was providing short rides down there. The wrought iron weather vane was also noteworthy – and the engine driver proved photogenic!

My pictures are here: Helen Stephenson’s North East England Holiday Pictures – October, 2007 – Beamish Pockerley Waggonway

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