The True Book Addict

An avid reader, since early childhood, and book collector, my home library numbers at over 3000 books, with fiction at 2000+. I'm a used book/library sale junkie! A major history buff, I have a great passion for historical fiction. I'm also a major fan of the horror and fantasy genres, but you will often find me reading just about anything, except perhaps erotica or books strong on romance.

The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen - Julia Ibbotson

The Old Rectory is a very charming book...and it's a book that will make people want to add to their bucket list. What do I mean by this? Well, who hasn't dreamed of owning and renovating an old Victorian era (or older) house, especially in the English countryside? Maybe not everyone, but I sure have. Julie Ibbotson has recounted the story of her quest to find the perfect home and, upon finding the old rectory, the journey of the renovation. Intertwined in the story, her love of cooking shines through. She breaks the book up into seasons and includes recipes that fit within those seasons. I can't wait to try out her recipes and the beauty of it is she includes the U.S. measurements too in the ingredients. This book will have a permanent place among my cookbooks and it will be nice to pull it out from time to time to dream of someday owning my own "old rectory" or its equivalent.

Magnolia and Lotus: Selected Poems of Hyesim - Chin'gak Kuksa Hyesim, Ian Haight, T'ae-yong Ho

When I signed up for this tour to review this book, I had no idea that not only would I be reading a wonderful book of poems, but would be getting a history lesson as well. Hyesim (Chin'gak Kuksa Hyesim, 1178 - 1234) was the first Zen Master dedicated to poetry in Korea. Hyesim was a monk and a scholar who became the Chief Abbot of Songgwang Temple in 1210. He was a prolific writer, penning such works as The Enlightened Mind, The Sayings of Chin'gak Kuksa of the Chogye Order, Readings of the Diamond Sutra, Elements of Son School, and Poems by Muuja.


I have always loved poetry. I'm especially fond of poems that have a motivational or inspirational nature. Many of Hyesim's poems are meant to enlighten and inspire. I enjoyed reading his poems. The poems about nature seemed to paint a picture in my mind. However, the inspirational poems were my favorites. Here are a few that I especially loved...


The Delight of Contentment

Being rich and noble, like a floating cloud, means what to me?

Following one's sphere in life is in itself beautiful.

If I have no worries, why do I need wine?

To achieve a tranquil heart is to have made a home.

Small Pond

No Wind, no rippling:

the surface, reflecting all, fills my eyes.

What need is there for so many words?

Observing one another is enough.

Again, a Poem Given at Departure

The somber sky portends rain--

the miserable mountain bears a weary face.

Fortunately, friends of the same practice release clasped hands easily--

but with such heartfelt friendship, it is difficult not to shed tears.

Water Clock 

A breeze of winter--

the months of this year draw to an end. 

Every leaf in a forest eventually falls, yellowing a mountain--

only pine and bamboo retain an inborn breath of emerald.

How many years will a human live?

Time is fleet as lightning.

Details of self ought to be examined--

then the empty dream will not endure.


The Tudor Conspiracy - C.W. Gortner

Gortner has done it again! The author who writes engaging and accurate historical fiction does not disappoint with his latest edition in the Spymaster Chronicles.


I'm a big fan of Elizabeth I so any stories that involve her are always a draw for me. With the Spymaster Chronicles, we are introduced to an interesting character, Brendan Prescott, who seeks to protect Elizabeth and to see her safely take her place on the throne. In The Tudor Conspiracy, Mary is now queen and although Elizabeth is her sister, it does not matter. In the eyes of the court and the current ruler, any potential heir to the throne is a threat. Throw in the Spanish interest and you have the makings for some serious court intrigue.


Each time I read historical fiction that centers on the past royals of England, I am struck by how truly treacherous the times were. Gortner skillfully brings the reader straight to the middle of these dangerous times. It's edge-of-the-seat reading for sure.


Gortner has become one of my favorite historical fiction authors. I am so looking forward to his next book. If you have not read him, I recommend you start with The Last Queen.


The Tudor Conspiracy - C.W. Gortner

Gortner has done it again! The author who writes engaging and accurate historical fiction does not disappoint with his latest edition in the Spymaster Chronicles.


I'm a big fan of Elizabeth I so any stories that involve her are always a draw for me. With the Spymaster Chronicles, we are introduced to an interesting character, Brendan Prescott, who seeks to protect Elizabeth and to see her safely take her place on the throne. In The Tudor Conspiracy, Mary is now queen and although Elizabeth is her sister, it does not matter. In the eyes of the court and the current ruler, any potential heir to the throne is a threat. Throw in the Spanish interest and you have the makings for some serious court intrigue.


Each time I read historical fiction that centers on the past royals of England, I am struck by how truly treacherous the times were. Gortner skillfully brings the reader straight to the middle of these dangerous times. It's edge-of-the-seat reading for sure.


Gortner has become one of my favorite historical fiction authors. I am so looking forward to his next book. If you have not read him, I recommend you start with The Last Queen.


The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora - Stephanie  Thornton

I am sad to say that for all my knowledge of history, I really know almost nothing of Empress Theodora. What a story I have missed out on! A woman who rose from less than nothing to become the most powerful woman in the Byzantine empire. A truly inspiring story.

I am very impressed that this is Stephanie Thornton's first novel. It is an excellent piece of historical fiction. The reader can tell that she has a passion for history...the research she put into this novel really shows. But it's not only the historical aspects that really shine. The characters are interesting and engaging. Theodora especially is a heroine to root for again and again. I mean, who doesn't love a rags to riches story? But this is a story that beats all stories of that type, in my opinion. When we look at a character like Theodora, what she had to overcome to rise so far, our hardships in life seem to pale in comparison.

It's a rare treat to read a novel that is not only interesting and entertaining, but also an inspiration that all things can be overcome with a little faith and a lot of pluck. I'm so glad that I was given the opportunity to review Stephanie's first book and I'm so looking forward to her next release.


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Forty Years in a Day - Mona  Rodriguez, Dianne Vigorito

Forty Years in a Day is a poignant story of a family's immigration to the United States just after the turn of the century. It surrounds the life of Victoria, who decides to take the enormous step to immigrate after enduring years of sorrow due to the neglect and pain of her failing marriage. Her words here indicate what many women have endured (I can certainly relate) and, as hard as it was, she was lucky to have escaped to America:


She needed him to be a man, yet he was acting like a child, and she had no energy left to coddle another. The friendship and love they had once shared had been irreparably tarnished by his escalating affliction. It was as if his hardened heart had sculpted his feelings into a mound of stone and offered no remorse.

Although a fictional account, based on the family histories of the authors, it was very easy to think of Victoria and her family as real people. These were people I cared about and the story kept me wanting to read to find out what becomes of these hard-working and persistent characters. I think perhaps the book could have been a bit longer, so as to flesh out the characters a bit more, but overall, the book tells a story that many will want to read.


With a surprise twist added to the mix, Forty Years in a Day is an unforgettable book and a testimony to the perseverance of the human spirit.


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Murder as a Fine Art

Murder as a Fine Art - David Morrell Murder as a Fine Art is exactly the kind of book I love. An historical mystery/thriller with just the right elements for it to have one leg in the horror genre. The opening chapter of the book is so shocking, it's like reading about a murder committed in our modern times. Hard to believe that it occurred in Victorian times. From the moment I started reading, I knew this was the book for me.What I found most interesting was the criminology aspect of the book. The action takes place just ten years after the newly established detective bureau of the Scotland Yard had its detectives educated in France by the father of modern criminology, Eugene Francois Vidocq. There is a reason that all of these television shows, such as CSI and the new Hannibal, are so popular. We are fascinated by the solving of crimes. Morrell fills the bill with his meticulous investigator, Sean Ryan and his assistant, Constable Becker.It is also the allure of Victorian times with the gaslight and the fog that make for great storytelling. Conjuring images of a dark figure intent on malicious acts walking the streets of London gives the reader a feeling of dread in the pit of the stomach. The palpable fear of the public as they live in fear that they might possibly be the next victim. This is edge-of-the-seat reading!Morrell has impressed me previously with his thriller, Creepers--a book that has stuck with me since the day I finished reading it. There is no doubt that he is a masterful storyteller and this new foray into historical mysteries is something I hope he plans to continue. If you are fascinated by Victorian London with all its dark underbelly, then I highly recommend that you read this!Check out more of my reviews at

Never Let Me Go (Alex Awards (Awards))

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro **********SPOILER WARNING*************What does it really mean to be human? Are we human only if we were born to other humans, or can we also be considered to be human if we were created in a laboratory from another's DNA. This book confronts this question in a radical way. What if, in the future, clones were created for the sole purpose of saving the lives of the sick, i.e. via organ donation? In Never Let Me Go, the clones are created and educated as "students" in boarding school type institutions. At Hailsham, where much of the story takes place, a certain emphasis is made on the artistic endeavors of these students. What we later find out is that these students are, in fact, clones and when they leave their schools, they will go out into the world first as "Carers", those who take care of the donor clones as they go through their various donations, and then as donors. Upon donation number four, we learn they complete, or die, which basically means that a life giving organ was taken. However, sometimes the donors complete before donation four due to complications which is not surprising. The importance of Hailsham in all of this is that the way they educated the "students" and emphasized their artistic qualities was their way of proving to the world that these children (and later adults) do indeed have souls and so are human. What we learn through Ishiguro's masterful storytelling is that these people are very human...that they do possess souls. Which makes it all the more tragic.I do have to admit feeling a bit irritated during much of the book. One of the characters (Ruth) is one of those people who would be absolutely exhausting to be friends with. And Kathy is so frustratingly complacent much of the time. I would have gone off on Ruth much more than Kathy, and even Tommy, ever did. I guess that's what made Kathy such an excellent Carer. Her ability to be understanding of other points of view, however frustrating or irritating. But this is just a little glitch in the reading of the book. Ultimately, I feel that each of the characters...Ruth, Kathy, and Tommy...behaved the way they did as their own special way of coping with what they knew was their inevitability. So very sad.I must examine the moral implications of the idea behind this book. I used to think that cloning would be a good thing. That it would be good to have clones in case we got sick or our loved ones got sick. But when we are thinking such things, do we really consider that these clones are actually people? Even if they are genetic copies, they are made from the same stuff we are. Who says that you have to be born to be given a soul (if you believe in the human soul, as I do)? How do we know how we really get our souls in the first place?Books that make me really think are my favorites to read. This doesn't change the fact that this book is very sad and I cried and cried at the end. Definitely well worth the read though.

Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I

Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I - Sandra Byrd I think what is best about historical fiction is the opportunity to find out about historical figures we know little or nothing about. This is the case in Sandra Byrd's new book, Roses Have Thorns, where we get to see the story of Elizabeth's Tudor court told from the point of view of Helena, Marchioness of Northampton. Helena comes to England from Sweden as Elin von Snakenborg and soon ingratiates herself with Queen Elizabeth. Helena is a very likable character. I enjoyed her kindness and wit throughout the book. What I liked the most though was the view of the queen through her eyes. Elizabeth is probably my favorite historical figure and the way she is portrayed in this book is how I feel she really might have been. Helena may have been Elizabeth's lady in waiting, but Byrd has portrayed the relationship between them with a light of friendship. This adds real charm and authenticity to the story. We get to experience Elizabeth as a flesh and blood human, not just a figure head. I was so very touched by this quote at the end when Elizabeth dies at the old age of 70:"I knew she was at peace and with those she best loved: in the embrace of the Lord Jesus, then next, perhaps her Robin, and then finally, finally, resting enfolded in the arms of her mother."That brought tears to my eyes. To know that you have made your mother so proud of you in what you did in your life and to finally see her again after so many years. I really hope that was true for Elizabeth.This is the final book in Sandra Byrd's Ladies in Waiting series. I have the other two books (graciously sent to me by Ms. Byrd) and I can't wait to read them, even if I'm reading out of order. Ms. Byrd has a talent for telling a great story and creating characters we care about while preserving the historical details that surround the story. I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next.

Blood Between Queens

Blood Between Queens - Barbara Kyle This is my first foray into the Thornleigh series by Barbara Kyle and I have to say, I was not disappointed. In fact, it was a wonderful historical novel. Easily read as a stand alone novel. Truth be told, I didn't even know it was part of a series until I read someone else's review.I have long been fascinated with the relationship between Queen Elizabeth I (one of my most favorite historical figures) and her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots. 'What would it have been like to order the execution of a blood relative?' is a question I have long asked myself as I have read about Elizabeth over the years. In Blood Between Queens, the situation between the two queens is the back drop to a story about a feud between families loyal to each faction respectfully, the Thornleighs and the Grenvilles. I liked the depiction of the famous rivalry between queens played out between these noble families.What struck me is that Kyle knows her history. It is evident that the research was impeccable in the depiction of the historical figures and occurrences, as well in the sights and sounds of that age. I now must go back and read her other books. I can't believe I have not discovered her until now.

Night Demon (Night Series, #2)

Night Demon (Night Series, #2) - Lisa Kessler I really enjoyed Lisa's first book in the Night series, Night Walker, and that enjoyment continued by far with the second book, Night Demon. As I was reading, I was struck by how much Lisa's writing reminds me of Anne Rice. I absolutely loved how she incorporated Mayan history and legend in the book; something that Rice does frequently in her novels, mingling bits of history and legend in all of her books. I also felt like I had more of a connection with Lukas and Gretchen. I'm not sure why, but Lukas really grabbed my heart. Quite possibly it was the tortured soul/loner aspect of his character that drew me to him. I'm a sucker for those types of characters. I can't wait for the next book in the series. It seems Calisto, Lukas and company have quite a lot of adventure and danger ahead of them. I also can't wait to read what's next for Lisa. I know she has a new series coming out, the Moon series, with the first book titled Moonlight. Lisa has a very exciting future in the paranormal genre.

Lifetime of Achievement: 7 Goal Setting Strategies that Work: 1

Lifetime of Achievement: 7 Goal Setting Strategies that Work: 1 - Jordan Maylea Ramirez This slim little volume may very well become my bible. It's funny how simple things, things we already think we know, seem to click that light bulb on in our heads just by stating and outlining simple concepts. That's what this book does.The book focuses on seven strategies to achieve our goals and they are all solid guidelines for those of us who struggle with goal setting and implementation. I am a master at procrastination. A book like this, referred to often, is the ticket I need to regularly work to overcome my "put it off until tomorrow, Scarlet" mindset.The strategies that really spoke to me the most were Create a Plan of Action, in which you break your goals down in 90 day (seasonal, really) increments. Instead of making New Year's resolutions once a year, you make, work toward, and reevaluate your goals every 90 days. Ramirez also advocates creating a visual "map" which I love. Dealing with Fear was great because, let's face it, we all deal with fear when it comes to the goals we set, even if it's a small fear. The best thing to always be thinking is, "What's the worst that can happen?" If I write this story/novel, yes, it might be rejected, but then again, it might not. You can't let fear stop you from possibly experiencing that it won't be rejected. Ramirez says that "FEAR IS: False Evidence Appearing Real." Telling, isn't it? I think this last one is my favorite: Never Ever Quit. Yes, we might fail time and again, but the point is to never give up. We need to always hold onto that childhood mentality of the sky's the limit. This passage from the book nearly brought me to tears (yes, I'm an emotional wreck):Do you remember what it felt like to be that age? Do you remember with what kind of anticipation you would respond when someone asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" You couldn't wait. Being grown up was going to be awesome.So what happened? Where did it go wrong? At what point did you take those dreams and place them in a box at the back of the closet to gather dust? At what point did you say to yourself, "Well, that would be nice...but it will never happen."I believe it can happen. I believe it does happen for those who are too stubborn or too stupid (or maybe a little bit of both) to put their dreams in that box. I believe your dreams should be displayed proudly on the shelf where you can look at them every day and say with confidence and expectation, "That is where I am headed!", but you will never get there if you quit.I want to display my dreams on the shelf! I want to say to myself every day, "That's where I'm headed!"...and I will. Ramirez also included in this chapter a favorite quote of mine from Theodore Roosevelt:"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."Awesome!"The best days of your life, regardless of your age, should be the days ahead; the days you have not yet lived," says Ramirez. I wholeheartedly agree! A lifetime of achievement is to have your dreams, strive toward those dreams, to not be afraid of the journey, and to never quit that journey. If you're searching for something to help you along on your journey, get this book. I know it will now be a constant resource in my life.

The Chalice

The Chalice - Nancy Bilyeau As she did with The Crown, Bilyeau has once again written an excellent historical novel. Again we are taken to the perilous times of the reign of Henry VIII. Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour are both dead, but Henry finally has his heir in prince Edward. However, the king is in search of another wife and that is the talk of the kingdom, along with the alliance of France with the Emperor Charles. As Henry has dissolved all of the monasteries and religious houses and continues to break from the church, the Pope's letter announcing the excommunication of king Henry is close to being made official. It is still a dangerous time and plots to overthrow the king are watched for and quashed. Many find themselves imprisoned in the tower. And those who give or seek out prophecies...prophecies that imply the demise of the king...are dealt with swiftly.Our heroine, Joanna, finds herself once again thrust into this world of danger and intrigue. A world she has stridently tried to avoid. Making a life for herself and her small cousin, Arthur, in the town of Dartford, she is content to continue her worship and start her own tapestry weaving business, even if some of the townspeople are less than gracious toward the ex-nuns of Dartford Priory. But her simple life does not last. She is invited, along with Arthur, to stay for a time with her cousin, Henry Courtenay and his wife, Gertrude, the Marquess and Marchioness of Exeter. As she embarks on her stay with her relatives, she finds herself once again drawn into the world of political intrigue, secrets, and prophecies.I won't go any further into the plot because I don't want to give anything away, but as you can tell, The Chalice is quite an exciting read. So well-written and historically accurate. I once again find myself greatly interested in the historical figures depicted. Even though I've been feeling over-saturated with the Tudors, with this book I'm learning new things that make me want to go in search of more historical information. For a book to inspire this kind of interest in history (as I'm sure it will), especially in those who aren't big history buffs like me, is a feather in the cap of the historical fiction genre. I praise the author on another fantastic novel. She is working on a third book and I can't wait to read it! Truly, I will look forward to any books Bilyeau has published.


Flesh - Khanh Ha Flesh is quite a work of historical fiction. I know very little about Vietnam and its history. I basically have a limited knowledge of the war in Vietnam and that's about it. Khanh Ha has really brought turn of the century Annam (now Vietnam) to life. Tai's story is shocking and poignant. To see your father beheaded for the crimes he committed would be such a traumatic experience. What we learn early on is that honor is very important in Tai's culture and he is on a quest to find his father's skull and the man who betrayed his father in order to honor him. It's quite a journey.I've noticed that others have remarked of the dark, dream-like, or moody quality of Ha's writing. What I liked the most was his use of rich historical detail to tell what really is a great story. This is my first foray into Asian literature (long overdue) and I am very pleased. I look forward to future works by Mr. Ha. Definitely give this one a read, dear readers.

Gone Girl: A Novel

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn This is going to be very brief and very vague, as I can't say too much or I will give away the story and I hate writing spoiler-y reviews, even with spoiler alerts. Let me just say two things first. One-in my opinion, all the hype was spot on, and two-I was blown away by this book. I have never read anything quite like it and I don't think I've ever hated a character as much (not saying which one). Flynn did an excellent job of taking us one way and then totally flip flopping us in another direction, only to flip flop us again. Whoa! I've heard complaints about the end, but really, I feel that it ended just as it should. I was not disappointed at all by the end.This is my first book written by Flynn and now I really want to read her other books so I'll be watching for them at library sales. So listen...if you haven't read this one, you really should!

The Shining

The Shining - Stephen King Okay, so yes, I finally read this! It's amazing to me how old this book is. It seems like yesterday when my parents were reading it and then they saw the film and came home saying how bad it sucked. HaHa. I agree with that observation. I read somewhere that the reason King himself was not happy with Kubrick's adaptation of the book was because he made the Jack Torrance character so unsympathetic. And he's right. In the book, we get to experience the gradual downward spiral of Jack, despite his faults and mistakes in the past. He really remains a sympathetic character because King makes it very obvious that the hotel is in control. I just never really got that from the movie. And the horrible miscasting of Shelley Duvall as Wendy is a travesty. The character of Wendy in the book is nothing like Duvall's depiction. Anyway, I didn't mean this as a review of the film. I just wanted to make some comparisons because I have never really liked the film and after reading the book, I like it even less. The book is so much more detailed and we get to learn a lot more about the history of the characters and the hotel which is something I always look for in a book. I want to know what led us from point a to point b; something a film adapted from a book is usually very hard-pressed to accomplish. Also, there are some very genuinely creepy scenes. I will never quite look at hedge animals the same again...or tunnels in the snow (no worries on that since I live in Tennessee now). As usual, King succeeded in telling me a good story while supplying me with the creep factor I love. Can't wait for the upcoming sequel, Doctor Sleep!

Currently reading

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