Monthly Archives: March 2012

Review- Paris In Love by Eloisa James

Title:  Paris In Love

Genre: Memoir

Author: Eloisa James

Publisher: Random House,

Apr. 3, 2012

Available for pre-order

Source: Free for review  from the Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 1

Description from amazon.com:

In 2009, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James took a leap that many people dream about: she sold her house, took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moved her family to Paris. Paris in Love: A Memoir chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
With no classes to teach, no committee meetings to attend, no lawn to mow or cars to park, Eloisa revels in the ordinary pleasures of life—discovering corner museums that tourists overlook, chronicling Frenchwomen’s sartorial triumphs, walking from one end of Paris to another. She copes with her Italian husband’s notions of quality time; her two hilarious children, ages eleven and fifteen, as they navigate schools—not to mention puberty—in a foreign language; and her mother-in-law Marina’s raised eyebrow in the kitchen (even as Marina overfeeds Milo, the family dog).

**

I read almost no memoirs but I am very glad I agreed to review this one.

I loved this book!!  I am a fan of Ms James’ historical romances but I have to say this is my favorite book of hers.  Following a diagnosis of breast cancer and subsequent treatments, she packs up her family for a year of living in Paris, France.

It is a tale of delicious cuisine, and terrible food; of couture lust and sophisticate envy; of precocious kids and truth from the mouth of babes, and the exhaustion of parenting.

There is humor in her writing as she has us follow along on the escapades of her precocious ten year old daughter and her fourteen year old son.  They alternately love and hate their year in Paris.  Eloisa spends time sampling many restaurants, cooking and is a died-in-the-wool people watcher, especially of those Parisian women who dress so exquisitely.  Her Italian born husband, Allesandro, is on a mission to master the French language and has a conversation companion, Florent, who wants to speak Italian.  Together they help each other to master the languages and we learn of Florent’s unrequited love life.

The year is told through essays interspersed among journal-type entry paragraphs.  The whole works very well.  I felt like I was walking down the streets of Paris with her.

I can definitely recommend this book.

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Deet’s Life- Completing My (your) Education

Awhile back a good friend sent me the following in one of those forwards that travel the internet.  I can’t verify the authenticity of the information but it all sounds truthful to me. But I just wanted you to know that I’m posting this as I received it and have not researched the purported facts. In fact it makes so much sense that I’m wondering where and how other phrases originated.

Interesting History

Where did “Piss Poor” come from?

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were “Piss Poor.”  But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot — they “didn’t have a pot to piss in,” and were the lowest of the low.

Here are some facts about the 1500s:

 The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperatureisn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be.   Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a “bouquet of flowers” to hide the body odor.  Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies, by then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.  Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!”

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath.  It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof.  When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.  Hence the saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs.”

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed.  Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.  That’s how “canopy beds” came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.  Hence the saying, “Dirt poor.”  The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance way. Hence: a “thresh hold.”

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day.  Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.  Hence the rhyme: “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.  When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.  It was a sign of wealth that a man could, “bring home the bacon.”  They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”

Those with money had plates made of pewter.  Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status.  Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the “upper crust.”

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey, the combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of “holding a wake.”

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people.So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.  Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (“the graveyard shift”) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, “saved by the bell”, or was considered “a dead ringer.”

Now, whoever said History was boring!!!  If you have any “curious facts” post them in the comments.

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Review- Under A Vampire Moon by Lynsay Sands

Title: Under A Vampire Moon (Argeneau Series)

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Author: Lynsay Sands

Publisher: Avon, April 24, 2012

Preorder available

Source: Free for Review from Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 3.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com: When Vampires Go On Vacation . . .

Escaping a horrible marriage, Carolyn Connor has no desire to think about men—a vow she’s determined to keep while on vacation in St. Lucia. She’ll take the Caribbean sun and sea and plenty of tropical drinks with those cute umbrellas poolside, thank you. She absolutely does not need male company, no matter how tan and rock-hard his body may be.

Easy enough, but then Carolyn meets the charming Marguerite Argeneau, who is infamous among her family for her matchmaking prowess . . .

Christian Notte has well known the power of finding a life mate. He’s seen enough of his Argeneau relatives taken down for the count, but he never imagined he’d let himself fall in love—until he meets the enthralling, charmingly skittish, and oh-so-mortal Carolyn. But how will he reveal what he is and still convince this once-bitten mortal to trust him with her heart . . . and her forever?

**

This is number 19 in the Argeneau/Rogue Hunters series from Lynsay Sands.  Right after I read the TWILIGHT series I was eager to find more in the Vampire genre.  My bookstore pick-up was Sand’s SINGLE WHITE VAMPIRE and I was not only hooked on the series but totally in love with the Argeneau vampires.  This series is a light contemporary take on Immortals who need human blood to live.  They never look older than people in their mid twenties even though they are hundreds of years old.  They have a family that is lovingly hounded by Marguerite Argeneau- Notte, the mother to some characters and the Aunt to others.

This episode in the life of the Argeneau/Notte vampires was a quick, fun read like many of the others.  The part of having Christian play the part of a gay guy seemed superfluous.  It just didn’t make much sense no matter how it was explained.  Also a five hundred year old guy/vampire still taking orders from his mother seemed a bit odd.  Carolyn’s character seemed very well fleshed out and we understood her motivation.  The surprise at the end was a fun addition.

I recommend this novel but suggest you start at the beginning of the series.  A list and blurb on all the Argeneau/ Rogue Hunter books can be found here on Lynsay Sands site.

Scroll down for the Argeneau Series:

http://www.lynsaysands.net/books/index.html

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Sexy Man Tuesday- Tim-Mark-Tim-Mark-Tim-Mark-etc.

By now you football nuts know that bible-toting Tim Tebow is signing on as back up Qb for the NY Jets.  I’m delighted, but I don’t know how throwing a good boy into the racy northeast might work out.  Guess we will have to wait and see.  And what about front man, Mark Sanchez?  Well he’s still top dog making over $40 mil.  Anyway, this isn’t a sports blog…no, no, this is where we delight in our sexy athletes.  So who is the sexiest Qb in the Jets lineup?

Tim Tebow-

Or Mark Sanchez-

 

 

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Review- P.S.: I’m Innocent by Steve Ruediger

Title:  P.S.: I’m Innocent

Genre: Thriller/Erotic Elements

Author: Steve Ruediger

Publisher: I Universe, 2011

Source: Free from the author for review

Rating: 2—2.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:

As a new employee for the Sanibel Island Environmental Conservancy in Florida, Lizzie Grant thinks she has it made. She is helping to preserve wildlife and working on a Florida beach. Life is finally good-but it won’t stay that way for long.

One night while researching sea turtles on the beach, Lizzie sees illegal aliens being brought ashore by a smuggler. Her accidental observation leads to her being threatened and stalked by the smuggler until he suddenly shows up dead in her apartment, and Lizzie is wanted for his murder. With the help of a semi-retired Mafia don named Joey, Lizzie tries to uncover evidence to clear her name. What she discovers is chilling: the illegal aliens are being used as slave labor on a farm next to her friend’s wildlife refuge. In spite of Joey’s help, Lizzie becomes a prisoner on the slave labor farm, where a forced marriage is planned.

Pursued by the police and men that want to kill her, Lizzie is running out of time. Will Lizzie find the strength and courage to fight her way free and prove her innocence?

**

First let me give some background as to why I agreed to review this book.  The author Mr Ruediger attended a Barnes and Noble presentation event in the audience where I was also a spectator.  The panel was 5 authors from a writing society of which Mr. Ruediger was a member.  Since it became known during the discussion that he was a self published author, following the meeting I stopped to talk to him.  He asked me to read and review his book, I accepted the offer, promising an honest review.

The author has a background as a newspaper reporter which led me to think this book would be more polished than it was.  The main character, Lizzie, was not likable.  She was silly and stupid. Continually making disastrous mistakes that made her look even more unintelligent.  Almost all the male characters were misogynistic.  The slave-farm portion of the book felt like it’s only reason for going on for several chapters was to either titillate or to act as filler.  There was no romance in this book.  There were plenty of scenes with men ogling naked Lizzie and rape scenes.  There was violence throughout most of the book.

I was disappointed hoping for better writing.  The character development was adequate but I’m afraid not to my taste; the characters were loathsome.  The plotting suffered from stagnation during a portion of the book that involved a slave farm, or perhaps it was just so unappealing to me that I felt it would not end.  I can’t recommend this book.

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Review- Lyon’s Bride by Cathy Maxwell

Title: Lyon’s Bride: The Chattan Curse

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Cathy Maxwell

Publisher: Avon books,

 April 24,2012

Available for preorder

Source: Free for review from Amazon Vine Program

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:

“When a Chattan male falls in love, strike his heart with fire from above…”

They call him Lord Lyon, proud, determined— and cursed. He is in need of a bride, but if he falls in love, he dies. His fervent hope is that by marrying— and having a son—without love, perhaps he can break the curse’s chains forever.

Enter beautiful Thea Martin—a duke’s headstrong, errant daughter and society’s most brilliant matchmaker. Years ago, she and Lyon were inseparable, until he disappeared from her life without a word. Now she is charged with finding Lyon’s bride—a woman he cannot love for a man Thea could love too well.

**

A witch cursed Lord Lyon Chattan’s lineage and for several hundred years the Chattan men have died shortly after falling in love. In this new series from Cathy Maxwell we will learn if the curse will stand or be broken.

Lyon fell in love with Thea when they were just teens and his father pulled him away to save his life. Now years later Lyon and Thea are reunited and although they both swear to help each other out of friendship, they can’t deny the spark between them. There are major obstacles to overcome and we read avidly to see if love will win out. The paranormal elements are intertwined in the story. They present the initial obstacle to Thea’s accepting Lyon’s mandate to find him a bride he cannot love and further obstacles to their happiness.

This is the first time I have read one of Ms Maxwell’s books( last Monday I reviewed the second book I have read of Cathy Maxwell) and it certainly won’t be the last. She is a gifted writer and the story moves along at a welcome, page turning pace. The side characters are well drawn, with a tempting introduction to the next book in the series by our meeting Lyon’s brother Harry and sister Margaret. There is a cliff hanger at the end of the story so we must stay tuned to the next book (Harry’s story, THE SCOTTISH WITCH, Fall of 2012) to see how things progress.

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Deet’s Life- (I wish) Beautiful Bookstores

Frequent commenter, Mo, sent me this site because she knew I would just drool all over these photos.  I’ve brought you a few but to see all twenty please go to the Flavorwire site.

http://flavorwire.com/254434/the-20-most-beautiful-bookstores-in-the-world#1

These are the front doors of Livaria da Vila, Sao Paulo, Brazil

In an old church- Selexyz Bookstore, Maastrict, Holland

Shakespeare & Comapny, Paris, France

Bookabar Bookshop, Rome, Italy

Plural Bookstore, Bratislava, Slovakia

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Review- The Wedding Wager by Cathy Maxwell

Title: The Wedding Wager

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Cathy Maxwell

Publisher: Avon, 2001

Source: purchase

Rating: 3.5

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from Back of book:

Headstrong Mary Gates longs to once again make the family stables the finest in England–so she bids on the famous Spender stud. The only way to pay for the beast is to marry, but her only prospect in the village is her equally headstrong neighbor and chief rival, Tye Barlow. Mary’s been tempted by his masculine charms in the past, but she’s determined not to give in to him now.

So Mary boldly goes to where the husbands are–London. She succeeds in taking the town by storm, but the marital prospects are uninspiring when compared to Tye. He’s followed her…and is clearly determined to thwart her plans at every turn. Still, she can’t help but recall his protective embrace whenever they waltz across a ballroom or dream of his tantalizing touch each time they kiss. And soon, Mary realizes she might have to take the greatest gamble of all…

**

There was not too much new in this novel, it was rather predictable.  That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good read.  I did enjoy the banter between the hero and heroine.  Mary was monumentally annoying in her stubborn attitude but the author still made me want to see her happy.  Our hero, Tye, was so handsome, studly and perfect it was difficult to see why the heroine didn’t just fall for him right away like I did.  But she did have her reasons.

Cathy Maxwell has written 29 Historical Romance novels and I have just discovered her.  It never ceases to amaze me that there are so many books yet to be discovered.  This is not my first Maxwell novel; I have read her latest novel which I will review shortly.  I plan on reading more of this author who has a way with words and plot.

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Sexy Man Tuesday- Austin Peck

Thanks to my friend, Dottie, we have a really fine looking man for this weeks title of Sexy Man Tuesday.  He is Austin Peck, an actor who plays Austin Reed on TV’s Days of Our Lives soap opera.  It seems I have been missing out by not watching daytime TV.

Oh Yes! “One of these please, and don’t leave out the dimples.”

Pool play….

Waking up in a messy bed……..

 

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Review- The Marriage Trap by Elizabeth Thornton

Title: The Marriage Trap

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Elizabeth Thornton

Publisher: Bantam Books, 2005

Source: purchase

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Description from amazon.com:
From dueling at dawn to fighting at Waterloo, Jack Rigg, Earl of Raleigh, has seen his share of danger. But now he faces his greatest fear: wedlock by ambush. It began in Paris, when he rescued an alluring cardsharp named Aurora from a tavern brawl. In the safety of Jack’s rooms they shared a passionate embrace. He never suspected their compromising encounter would change his life completely. . . .

The idea that a poor vicar’s daughter should marry Jack Rigg might be amusing–if it weren’t so imperative. When she last saw Jack, Ellie Hill was disguised as “Aurora,” indulging her gift for gaming. Now she’s in trouble with the law–and Jack is her alibi. She must hope he’ll be more of a gentleman than he was to Aurora. But as they forge an unlikely and increasingly amorous alliance, someone with a deadly agenda wants to end their union before it begins.

**

I have been on a quest to read Historical Romance authors that so far I have not tried.  I saw this novel by Elizabeth Thornton and, although the blurb sounded like dozens of other historicals I have read, I decided to give it a “go”.  What a nice surprise to find that along with the romance I was treated to a mystery.

Yes, some of the story was predictable and a bit convenient, but it kept me reading and trying to guess whodunit.  There was action which gave our hero a chance to be heroic on more than one occasion. The fact that the hero had sworn off marriage and then quickly capitulated to marriage was surprising, but he was a true gentleman and it was expected. The heroine was resourceful if a bit annoying with her doting on her immature brother.

This was Ms Thornton’s twelfth novel and she has written five more since writing this one.  I intend to read more of her enthralling historicals, pure delightful escapism.

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