Monthly Archives: June 2011

Review- The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

Title: The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever

(Book 1 in the Bevelstoke Series)

Genre: Regency Historical Romance

Author: Julia Quinn

Publisher: Avon, 2007

Source: purchase

Rating: 3.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from the back of the book:

At the age of ten, Miranda Cheever showed no signs of Great Beauty. And even at ten, Miranda learned to accept the expectations society held for her—until the afternoon when Nigel Bevelstoke, the handsome and dashing Viscount Turner, solemnly kissed her hand and promised her that one day she would grow into herself, that one day she would be as beautiful as she already was smart. And even at ten, Miranda knew she would love him forever.

But the years that followed were as cruel to Turner as they were kind to Miranda. She is as intriguing as the viscount boldly predicted on that memorable day—while he is a lonely, bitter man, crushed by a devastating loss. But Miranda has never forgotten the truth she set down on paper all those years earlier—and she will not allow the love that is her destiny to slip lightly through her fingers . . .

**

Julia Quinn knows all the ways to get me caring about her characters.  The protagonists are never one dimensional even if some side characters appear to be.  She knows how to make me care about the feelings of our heroine when at the same time I understand our hero’s actions even if I cannot approve.

There is a bit of the “soap-opera” about this novel, overly dramatic at times but I can still forgive the dramatics because the romance is so delicious.

This is perhaps not my favorite Quinn romance but I certainly liked it and recommend it.

This book is also introducing characters that will appear in the next book (Olivia Bevelstoke) in this series (the Bevelstoke Series).  Each book is stand alone but it is nice to know the various family members. 

The Bevelstoke Series:

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever-2007- reviewed today June 17th

What Happens in London-2009-reviewed on Monday, June 20th

Ten Things I Love about You-2010-reviewed on Wednesday June 22nd

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Filed under Book review, Historical Romance, Romance

EXTRA ! Extra!

I’ve never posted twice in one day but this is too good to not tell you about it.

The breaking news is tha JK Rowling is launching a new Harry Potter website next Thursday.  That’s the Buzz.  Go here to see a delightful countdown clock, pass your pointer over the owls for added cleverness.  How do they do all that???

Just click on the website below:

http://www.youtube.com/JKRowlingAnnounces

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Recess- Summer TV

Since this is a new blog I’ve decided to institute, every now and then, a day where I’m not talking books.  Today’s recess is about Summer TV series that are about to start. 

I don’t watch much TV as you can guess by the number of books I read each week.  I go in spurts.  When Survivor and Amazing Race are on I watch.  I’m recently into Game of Thrones on HBO and now that is almost over.  To tell the truth (always wise) I DVR’d Game of Thrones and then had a marathon of viewing.  It was great!  I will have to do that more often.  I have been team Drogo, team Stark, but never those cunning Lannisters.

I watched the MTV Movie Awards because they are always good for some outlandish sights and pranks and right after that I watched the premier of Teen Wolf.  I liked it, so I watched the second show.  Not as good.  I’ll give it one more view before I pass final judgment.

So what’s ahead on the boob tube (it’s not called that for nothin, ya know).

Starting tonight, June 16th on ABC is “Wipe Out”- if you get off on people getting the sh…um stuffing kicked out of them then this is your show.  I’ll pass.

June 19th, on TNT a new show, “Falling Skies”- a bunch of survivors of an alien invasion try to continue to survive the aliens that have taken over the planet.  I’ll watch at least once. But isn’t this “V” in new make-up?

June 21st, on ABC a new show, “Expedition Impossible”- this one looks like Survivor on steroids or maybe a WipeOut/Amazing Race amalgam.  I’m not sure if this one will damage my delicate sensibilities.  I just hate seeing people get hurt.  It’s my empathetic nature.

On the same night, the 21st, on ABC is “Hot Zone” billed as a gritty drama about life at a military hospital in Afganistan.  I’ll watch but it better not be another one with silly doctors that give the medical profession a bad name.  Real doctors do enough of that.

June 23rd, on FX, two new shows, “Wilfred”, with Elijah Wood who is the only person that can see the human visage of his dog.  Hm-m, I don’t know about this one.  The other show is “Louis”, with comedian Louis CK, which  is supposed to be very funny and very crude.  I might like the funny part but the crude usually makes me stop laughing and then I feel embarrassed for the actors.

Same night on USA (seems to be a bit of competition), “Burn Notice” the new season.  I watched this one once or twice, it’s okay, it has it’s followers.  Also that night a new one, “Suits”.  The only word I got on this one is that it is about a NYC law firm that hires a college dropout as an associate.  Huh?

Now for my piece of resistance, on June26th, “True Blood” returns for season 4.  I loved the first 5or 6 Charlaine Harris books that this show is based on, but the show only followed the books in the first season.  That was my favorite.  The last two seasons have been disappointing even though I like the characters.  I have little hope that this season will renew my love but I will watch and throw popcorn at the screen when disgusted. Ya gotta watch for the mancandy of Alexander S. and Joe M., so who cares about the plot?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting tired of my commentary?  Okay, here is a list of others with limited comments.

June 27th, Showtime, “Weeds” returns,-suburban mom, drug dealer.

June 28th, USA, “Necessary Roughness” new show about a therapist for an NFL team.

July 9th, CBS, “Big Brother” returns, I got nothing to say.

July 10th, HBO, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” returns, for me just boring.

July 11th, TNT, “The Closer” returns, this is one of my all time favorites.  I will definitely watch.

July 12th, FX, “Rescue Me” returns, I have watched in the past and probably will not watch now.

July 19th, Showtime, “Web Therapy” New, with Lisa Kudrow.  A comedy about a therapist who treats by webcam.

Whew! Remember the old days when there was nothing to watch in the summer and we had to talk to the family and we had time to read books?  Not so much has changed.

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Review- The Devil In Disguise by Stefanie Sloane

Title: The Devil In Disguise

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Stefanie Sloane

Publisher: Random House, 2011

Source: Free, Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 4

Description From the back cover of the book:

Lord William Randall is a rake, a most unlikely suitor for the beautiful and fiercely intelligent Lady Lucinda Grey.  But his latest assignment for the Young Corinthians, an elite spy organization, involves protecting her from a kidnapping plot.  To do this, William uses his devilish charm to seduce Lucinda, never imagining he will lose his heart in the bargain.  And though Lucinda has gracefully sidestepped even the most persistent suitors, she is tempted by William’s sinfully sensuous mouth and piercing eyes.  Can she resist him when his touch begs her to let him so much closer?

There was nothing terribly new or different in this Regency romance. The characters were well drawn and the reader does get invested in their romance but there were some unbelievable circumstances which made this reader wonder at the characters responses to various situations. The dialog is well written. The secondary characters added life to the plot and were heartwarming. The villain is truly nasty and the sex is steamy if not altogether satisfying. All in all just an okay read. 

This is the first book in Sloane’s Regency Rogue trilogy.  The next book, THE ANGEL IN MY ARMS is out on June 28, 2011 and the third book is THE SINNER WHO SEDUCED ME is out on July 26, 2011.

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Do You Reread books?

Do you reread books?  I mean, do you keep a book on your shelf and take it down every few months/years to read again?  These are usually books that grab us in some indefinable way.  They stir our emotions, define our sense of good creative writing or even teach us something new or remind of us what we already know.

I’m not big on rereading the classics. The only literary classic I can recall rereading is Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, although there may have been others.  My mind is currently all wrapped around what I’ve been book-devouring for the past few years, which are vampires, romance, mystery & fantasy.

I’m not too involved with rereading non-fiction.  Only one book on my shelf is worn from use and that is Sister Wendy Beckett’s THE STORY OF PAINTING.  This one gets hauled out when I’m having museum withdrawal.

I have so many books in my To-Be-Read pile that rereads do take a back seat, but some oldies are just too good to not take a breather with now and then.

Here are a few of my favorite rereads, grouped in genres;

Vampires:

Lynsay Sands’ SINGLE WHITE VAMPIRE– after being introduced to the modern take on vampires by reading the TWILIGHT series; I was thrilled to find Sand’s Argeneau vampire series.  They were funny, and sexy. This book was the first I read and led me to the entire series where I simply fell in love with this vampire family.  This one is still my favorite of the series.

D.B. Reynolds’ RAPHAEL– I have read this book three times.  It is a wonderful combination of THE GODFATHER (or GOODFELLAS) and very sexy, romantic vampires.  The entire series is rereadable for me for I love scary vampires who wreak pheromones. Not to discount the fabulous wordsmithing of Reynolds.

Lara Adrian’s MIDNIGHT BREED SERIES– Okay, I have not reread these yet but I will because this is the penultimate vampire brotherhood ( sorry J.R. Ward fans).  In this series there is lots of action and lots of suspense and LOTS of romance.  I just need some free read time to start on these again.Romance:

Linda Howard’s KILL AND TELL-(Romantic Suspense) What can I say, this has one of the longest seductions in any book I’ve read.  The over the top Alpha male (like most of Howard’s heroes) is so good that the heroine doesn’t realize she’s been seduced until it is wa-a-ay too late. Add to that delight, the steamy description of the wet New Orleans setting and I am transported. And it has a very suspenseful A+ plot.(You all know I have recently reread and reviewed MR PERFECT. I have Howard’s CRY NO MORE on my to-reread list.)

Mary Balogh’s A MATTER OF CLASS– talk about delightful!!! This is my favorite Historical Romance and probably the shortest book I’ve read.  I can’t say more because I would not want to spoil it for you. 

Mystery:

I have trouble rereading mysteries because on the second read I already know “whodunit”.  But I have read some again because I like the author and I am impatient for their next book.  Those would be Harlan Cobin, Charlaine Harris’ Aurora Teagarden series, Kathrine Hall’s The Body in The… series.

**

Perhaps if you pick up one of the books I have mentioned you will get hooked on a few rereads too.  Or am I preaching to the choir?  Do you have favorite rereads? Tell me about them.

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Review-The Rules of Gentility by Janet Mullany

Title: The Rules Of Gentility

Genre: Historical Romance/Satire

Author: Janet Mullany

Publisher: Harper Collins, 2007

Source: Amazon purchase

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 4

Description:

Regency heiress Philomena Wellesley-Clegg has rather strong opinions about men and clothing. As to the former, so far two lords, a viscount, and a mad poet have fallen far short of her expectations. But she is about to meet Inigo Linsley, an unshaven, wickedly handsome man with a scandalous secret. He’s nothing she ever dreamed she’d want—why then can she not stop thinking about how he looks in his breeches?

A delightful marriage of Pride and Prejudice with Bridget Jones’s Diary, Janet Mullany’s The Rules of Gentility transports us to the days before designer shoes, apple martinis, and speed dating—when great bonnets, punch at Almack’s, and the marriage mart were in fashion—and captivates us with a winsome heroine who learns that some rules in society are made to be broken.

****************

This novel is a delightful send-up of Regency Romance books.  I laughed long and loud at almost every page.  Mullany is a wonderful writer with a fabulous sense of humor.  Do not read this as the usual Regency, it is tongue-in-cheek from beginning to end but still gives us some hero and heroine triumphs.  I must say that I loved the intelligent, witty humor and the author’s skill with words.

Here is an excerpt that makes it plain to see there is more going on than our heroine is aware:

Papa is most upset to receive a letter from Robert, reporting a fissure that opened in the garden near the aparagus bed, taking with it the third gardener.  Fortunately, he was not injured, as one of the kitchen maids, who was with him at the time, nobly removed her petticoat to use as a rope.  They  both called for help and poor John was hauled out, although somehow in the excitement he had lost his breeches.  How frightened they must have been.

At the back of the book are 5 pages of author insights where Mullany gives “Top ten Things no one would ever say in a Regency-set romance”.  In actuality, she gives a Top Ten for the heroine and another Top Ten for the hero.

Having finished this fantastic read I had to buy the next book  A MOST LAMENTABLE COMEDY.  It is my first purchase from “The Book Depository” a UK based bookseller that ships for free worldwide.

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Advance Review-The Bride Wore Scarlet by Liz Carlyle

Title: The Bride Wore Scarlet

Genre: Paranormal Historical Romance

Author: Liz Carlyle

Publisher: Avon Books, July 26, 2011

Source: Advance Reader Copy

 Free from Amazon Vine for review

Rating: 3.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from back of book:

Passion and secrets simmer behind the elegant façade of Victorian London in another deliciously intriguing novel featuring the mysterious men of the St. James Society.

AnaÏs de Rohan has faced danger in her past, but never anything so great as posing as the new bride to one of the St. James Society’s most magnetic—and ruthless—leaders. But Lord Bessett’s bold challenge to prove herself worthy of joining his secret all-male society is impossible to resist. So she daringly agrees to travel with the enigmatic nobleman on a dangerous mission to save one of their own—a little girl with a frightening gift.

Soon intrigue swirls about them, drawing them ever closer. And AnaÏs quickly realizes that the intimacy of sharing Lord Bessett’s bedroom is proving a temptation impossible to resist. As for Bessett himself—well, he might be a soldier sworn to the Society, but he certainly isn’t anyone’s saint. . . .

*******************

This is the second book in the series ONE TOUCH OF SCANDAL being the first.  I confess I have not read that one but this book is a stand alone with many references to the first so one does not get lost.

This is a paranormal novel unlike any others I have read.  It revolves around a secret society of individuals who have varying degrees of special gifts of precognition.  Their goal is to protect and serve those who need their help.

The heroine is more than capable of joining the secret society but because she is a woman they are reluctant in the 19th century to allow her entrance.  She is not put off and agrees to help in rescuing a child from the clutches of those who would use the child’s “Gift” for their own purpose. 

Ms. Carlyle is adept at writing a plot that intrigues and characters we care about.  The dialog is on occasion a bit too modern for the 19th century and the story slows down every now and then.  But those considerations aside this is a good read.  The action is adventurous but it is not over the top.  The romance is sizzling.

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Review- Unveiled by Courtney Milan

Title: Unveiled

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Courtney Milan

Publisher: HQN, 2011

Source: Free, Amazon Vine for review

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Publishers Weekly:

Ash Turner becomes heir to the dukedom of Parford after uncovering evidence that the current duke’s children, Ash’s distant cousins, are illegitimate. Among the suddenly disinherited is the beautiful Lady Margaret Dalrymple, now shunned by society. Ash has no idea that the dying duke’s beautiful nurse is actually Margaret, set to spy on Ash and collect material to support her brothers’ countersuit for a decree of legitimacy. Instantly attracted to almost impossibly kind and charismatic Ash, Margaret is torn between newfound love and loyalty to her boorish brothers.

***********************************

I have read this book twice in the past six months.  Back in February when I got it from the library and then again when I inadvertently ordered it through the “Amazon Vine” program.  I reread it because I didn’t feel I could give it a thorough review since several months had passed.  I liked it even better the second time around.

Courtney Milan has crafted a plot that seemed to be going in one direction as she played on the readers’ sympathy, and then she made us doubt our assumptions.  She brought the characters to life as human with all their good points and all their foibles. 

We fall in love with Ash Turner, so handsome, righteous, self-sacrificing, a product of his childhood. We are sometimes angry with his brothers but not always for they too are the product of a tortured past.  We want Margaret to love Ash but understand her dilemma. All of this keeps us turning pages because we can’t understand how any of it can be resolved successfully.

Do you believe in love at first sight?  Ash Turner does and he embarks on a mission to convince Margaret that she loves him too.  Can two lovers from two families at odds truly find happiness? That is the question this delightful novel proposes. It becomes even more a question when one of the lovers has started the war.

 Women laid their hearts at the feet of men like him-a man so ruthlessly intense as to take one’s breath away, and cheerful enough to make one laugh while he did it.

P.S.- I really like it when the front cover of the book actually reflects what the characters look like.  Ash is described in the book as having a cleft in his chin just like the hunky guy on the cover. Yum.

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Short Books: a question

Recently a friend read a book that I had recommended and liked it, a lot.   However she couldn’t justify reading the next in the series because it was too costly for such a short book and she stated that it was unavailable at her library.   This attitude causes me some confusion.  I didn’t debate the issue with her because I respect her feelings, but I don’t get it. 

For me, the content of the book is what I look for.  I have read many short novels that have been true gems. Mary Balogh’s A Matter of Class comes to mind.  (Worth every penny even if only about 208 pages long)  Yes, there have been those that left me longing for more, those that I wished the author had not either cut important scenes or perhaps he just had not elaborated on the story.  But if I truly liked the first in the series I don’t think the price of the book would keep me from continuing.  Is this because I put my money where it most serves my obsession and others who are not as wholly obsessed choose to place their value elsewhere? 

The longest book I ever read is probably Forever Amber at 976 pages.  I enjoyed it in all its length and would not have wanted it shorter.

What do you think?  Would you buy the pricey short sequel or pass it by? Please indicate if you are book obsessed or a casual reader.

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Romance Book Addiction?

(This is not posted here as an ad, I’m posting it because it was a true advertisement over the article mentioned in my post below.  Ironic?)

I was surfing the web and came across a post on ksl.com  titled “Romance Novels Can be as Addictive as Pornography”.    I, of course, settled in to read what the “experts” had to say.  They said that when men view porn there is a chemical feel-good that takes place in their bodies that can trigger addiction, and that when women read romance books they can get this same reaction and become addicted to romance books.  The experts also say that this can lead to marital and relationship dissatisfaction.  Well, Yeah, if you expect your sex partner to be one of those fabulous, sex-god, romantic heroes then I suppose so.  Their suggestions: read other genres, exercise, get in a real relationship, find a hobby.  (I love the “exercise” and “find a hobby” suggestions, as if jogging, embroidery and scrapbooking were the answer to a good romantic read.  I do read other genres and enjoy them also.  Getting into another “real” relationship might find my hubby objecting….but I’ll ask.) 

The follow up comments to this post were even more fun.  I urge you to go read the article and comments. 

 Here’s a particularly astute comment from J.S. Wayne.  I tried to find J.S. online and came across his blog http://jswayne.wordpress.com/

From J.S. Wayne: I read this article with a sense of slack-jawed horror.
Most of the women I know who read romance do so because it is an escape from reality. They are aware of the difference between reality and fantasy and do not confuse the two. With ANY art form, be it movies, books, TV, etc., there will always be a handful of people who will lose themselves in the fantasy to such a degree that it renders them incapable of functioning in the real world.
I don’t view pornography or romance as harmful, so long as the viewer does not get so lost in the fantasy that they forget about reality. My question is, “Why is the author of this article so afraid of human sexuality? What is it about the idea that human beings need intimacy that terrifies them so much?” I can’t decide whether to be bemused or alarmed that the author of this article seems to truly believe the tripe she’s spewing.
Sensationalist “reporting” like this does a great disservice. It implies that women are so weak-willed and weak-minded that if they so much as look at a romance novel, they will immediately throw away the entire life they’ve built to go chasing after Fabio.
I’m a hetero, married male who writes romance; as such, my livelihood depends on creating a fantasy. I certainly don’t find my (overwhelmingly female) fan base to be weak in ANY sense of the word. Many of them, I find to be dauntingly intelligent, professional women who live amazing and full lives. Implying that a rarity is the norm is misleading, insulting, and offensive; it smacks of the WORST kind of sexist thinking. And quite frankly, I find it utterly repugnant.
I would like to laugh at the way this was presented, or dismiss it as a joke, albeit one in execrably poor taste.
But I can’t. And that may be the most frightening thing ABOUT this article.

I agree with J.S. on all counts.  Do You?  What do you think, are we fooling ourselves and we really are addicted?  (sigh…for me it sure beats my former cigarette addiction)  What do you think of the advertisement in conjuction with the article?

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