Capturing the Castle

Castle Tioram 2Nicola here. There are a lot of old buildings in the UK and a lot of different names for historic types of buildings, whether it’s a castle, manor, hall, tower, mansion or cottage. A castle, though, conjures up very particular ideas of what a building looks like. The dictionary definition is “a fortified building as in medieval Europe” or “a large, magnificent house especially if the home of a prince or noble.” However, I think fortifications – crenelations, towers, turrets etc are essential for it to be a proper castle. Often a castle, which has been around for hundreds of years, is in ruins, either through age or because it was destroyed in a war or battle and has never been rebuilt. There is definitely a special aura about a castle.

Castles in novels tend to be creepy. Whether it’s the Castle of Otranto by Walpole or The Red Keep in Game of Thrones they are designed to be intimidating The castle of otranto and the gothic atmosphere just adds to the sense of menace.

How lovely it was, then, to visit a real castle last week that was both impressive but also had quite a homely atmosphere! Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire has been in the same family for over 800 years. It’s been mentioned in Shakespeare and it fulfils the “Gothic horror” element because King Edward II was murdered there in 1327. It looks like a fortress from the outside but inside it has a warmth and charm. Although the guide book insists it is “savage,” I didn’t get that vibe from it. Even the fact that the stone it is built from looks pink and purple in the sunshine makes it beautiful and the gardens are glorious.

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Sailing the Danube Continued

MebikePat here:

That's me on a fake penny farthing–a vehicle that plays a part in my March release, Lessons in Enchantment. I couldn't resist the photo op. I don't know how anyone climbed on one of those things unless it was stuck to the ground like this one!

In my last blog , I described the first few days of my Viking tour of the Danube and lamented that I didn’t have room to get into the really magical stuff. My memory isn’t of the best, but I’m hoping if I dig around in our tons of photos that I may be able to piece together the rest of the journey.

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What We’re Reading in June

Hi. Joanna here. It's a great line-up this month.

Wench burnable book holsinger 2Andrea/Cara first up:

I’m a sucker for historical mysteries, especially ones that ihave arcane books involved in the plot. So when I happened to read a blurb on this, I couldn’t resist. But before I go on, I have a confession to make: I’ve been madly scrambling to finish a project, so haven’t had quite as much time for reading as usual. So I’m not all that far along in this book, but am liking it enough to recommend it. 

The Burnable Book. Here’s the lead blurb on the cover flap: In Chaucer's London, betrayal, murder, royal intrigue, mystery, and dangerous politics swirl around the existence of a prophetic book that foretells the deaths of England's kings.

Maybe you can see right away why I was hooked. The author, Bruce Holsinger, is a professor of Medieval History, and already the ambiance of London—from the court intrigues to the stews—is really well-done. The style is a little edgy, but I’m liking the main protagonist a lot. A friend of Geoffrey Chaucer, and fellow poet, John Gower has been asked to find a stolen book that may bring down the monarchy. If you’re looking to immerse  yourself in London of Richard II, come join me in turning the pages!

And, with a wonderful, comforting set of books, Mary Jo: Wench Copper Beach

When I'm deep into writing a new book, I often reread comfort books because I know I'll enjoy them and there isn't the stress of hunting down new books and maybe not finding something I like.  So–currently rereading Jayne Ann Krentz romantic suspense novels.  I love her Arcane series, where characters have paranormal, psychic type abilities that are both blessing and curse.  WHITE LIES is a particular favorite, where the heroine can always tell if someone is lying.  This is a decidedly mixed blessing.  <G>

But my current reread is the Dark Legacy duo, COPPER BEACH and DREAM EYES.  JAK seldom does families, but the heroes of these two books are brothers, which is fun.  Sam Coppersmith, hero of Copper Beach, is the lab guy who is a genius at manipulating crystal energy.  When paranormal book finder Abby Radwell needs help, she is sent to him and sparks fly.  Quite literally. <G>

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