Undead and Unwed (Undead / Queen Betsy 1) by Maryjanice Davidson Monday, Feb 20 2012 

Title: Undead and Unwed
Author: Maryjanice Davidson
ISBN: 0749936452
Publisher: Piatkus
First Published: 2004
No. of pages: 280

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:
‘The day I died started out bad and got worse in a hurry…’ It’s been a hell of a week for Betsy Taylor. First she loses her job. Then she’s killed in a freak accident only to wake up as a vampire. On the plus side, being undead sure beats the alternative. She now has superhuman strength and an unnatural effect on the opposite sex. But what Betsy can’t handle is her new liquid diet…And whilst Betsy’s mother and best-friend are just relieved to find out that being dead doesn’t mean Betsy’s can’t visit, her new ‘night-time’ friends have the ridiculous idea that Betsy is the prophesied vampire queen. The scrumptious Sinclair and his cohorts want her help in overthrowing the most obnoxious power-hungry vampire in five centuries. (A Bella Lugosi wannabe who seen one to many B-movies.) Frankly Betsy couldn’t care less about vamp politics. But Sinclair and his followers have a powerful weapon in their arsenal – unlimited access to Manolo Blahnik’s spring collection. Well, just because a girl’s dead – er…undead – doesn’t mean she can’t have great shoes…

Review:
Betsy is exactly what you want in a Vampire Queen – smart, sassy, sexy and a whole lot of other words beginning with “S”. Davidson’s sense of humour is dark, wicked and verging on the ridiculous, but it never seems forced and the tone is always kept light. The plot is fast-paced and the characters are engagingly quirky and all too human – even the ones who aren’t human any more.

If you’re looking for a light-hearted giggle on your holiday, you could do a lot worse than to pick this one up at the airport. And look out for the rest of the series, as it looks set to be well worth a giggle!

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The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova Monday, Feb 13 2012 

Title: The Historian
Author: Elizabeth Kostova
ISBN:
0751537284
Publisher:
Time Warner
First Published:
2005
No. of pages:
704

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:
Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters addressed ominously to ‘My dear and unfortunate successor’. Her discovery plunges her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an evil hidden in the depths of history. In those few quiet moments, she unwittingly assumes a quest she will discover is her birthright – a hunt for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the Dracula myth. Deciphering obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions, and evading terrifying adversaries, one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil. Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel is an adventure of monumental proportions – a captivating tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful – and utterly unforgettable.

Deciphering obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions, and evading terrifying adversaries, one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil. This novel blends fact and fantasy, history and the present.

Review:
From the outset, a large amount of historical information is laid out for the reader, so that, at times, this novel reads as rather text-bookish, but none of the information is extraneous and every fact presented winds itself into the storyline and makes it all the more interesting. Having read Dracula years ago at school, it was interesting to see how much I remembered and how much of the history was new to me, as well as delving into another culture in a time just slightly before our own.

I found that I occasionally lost track of which character was narrating the tale if I only had short periods of time for reading, but on the whole it was easy to decipher who was narrating after a short while and the threads picked up again. The story was slow-moving at times, with quite a lengthy lull in the middle, after which the pace quickened once more until it felt slightly rushed at the end, but, nevertheless, the closing chapters felt quite satisfying and the ending seemed quite natural.

Even if this novel is sometimes a little dry, it’s worth sticking with it, as none of the historical information is actually superfluous and, in fact, it actually adds to the story at later stages. The format of letters works rather well and is reminiscent of the diary-entry style of Bram Stoker’s classic, Dracula, which is a nice touch. It might be a hefty tome, but don’t let that put you off – it’s definitely worth a look and is a very enjoyable read.