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There are TWO posts today...Sorry about that :)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Romance Reading Challenge 2009

Yes, another challenge for 2009. But it will have some cross over with my other challenges I'm planning on. Besides I saw the button and just couldn't resist. GWTW is my number favorite movie of all time.

Naida from The bookworm is hosting this challenge.
Five romance books are all that are required, so here is my partial list, in no particular order:
{The remainder will be spur of the moment. These are definite.}

  1. The Lost Duke of Wyndham - Julia Quinn

  2. The Thornbirds - Colleen McCullough

  3. A Room with a View - E.M. Forrester

Looking forward to checking out some others from other bloggers :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Madame de Stael

Author: Francine du Plessix Gray
Pub Date: 2008
Genre: Biography
My Rating: 4/5
From the publisher:

Madame de Staël—force of nature, exuberant idealist, and ultimate
enthusiast—waged a lifelong struggle against all that was tyrannical, cynical,
or passionless in her time, and left a legacy of enlightened liberalism that
radiated throughout Europe during the nineteenth century

Truth be told I picked this book up based on it's cover. Yes, I do judge books by their covers...sometimes. It is a biography, and I have never had any luck with these. This one however, was well written and to the point.

The author doesn't relate the entire early childhood. Just the parts necessary to the story, and her development as one of the greatest conversationalists of France. Madame de Stael had the most prominent salon in France. She entertained many prominent and important persons involved with the future of France, such as Tallyrand. de Stael was friends with those persons one needed to be friends with in the days of the revolution and the Terror. She also counted many royals and aristocrats among her friends. I guess you can say she straddled the political fence. de Stael was very involved in the politics of France, throughout her entire life actually, which includes the French Revolution to Napoleon's empire.

de Stael's musings regarding the reasons behind the Terror, why and how it became so out of control, are very insightful. In my opinion, her arguments are logical and on point. Later, she goes toe to toe with Napoleon in her writings, and it's quite comical to read what he has to say about her.

I guess I was really taken with this book, because I had never heard of Madame de Stael, and apparently her writings were very influential during her tumultuous times. Is it because history is written by men, thus this great woman was left out? I haven't extensively studied the French Revolution or French history for that matter, however from what I read in this book, I can not believe I have never heard of de Stael before. Regardless of whether you agree with her tactics or views, it seems to me that de Stael truly loved her adopted France, and just wanted the best for her country and its people.

It should be noted, that her personal life was a quite a mess. The time and effort she put into French politics, could have been better spent on her family. However, due to her upbringing and other factors, this probably never occurred to her.

Overall, this book was a quick and easy read; it didn't read like a biography to me. I found the book and it's subject matter very fascinating. I would highly recommend this book. Madame de Stael was a fascinating women before her time, and she deserves her place in history.

I think I see some historical research in my future, with respect to women in history and the French Revolution.

Accept my apologies for not finding other reviews. It was quite difficult and I couldn't find any that were not strict reviews, if you get my drift.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Lady's Secret

Author: Jo Beverly
Pub Date: April 2008
Genre: Historical Romance
My Rating: 4/5

From the Author's Website:

The nun on the run and the rake on the make!

When Robin Fitzvitry, the fun-loving Earl of Huntersdown, encounters a cursing nun in a French inn, he can’t resist the mystery. He offers to help Sister Immaculata reach England, expecting only amusement on the tedious journey home from Versailles. Petra d'Averio is not exactly a nun, though she has spent years in an Italian convent with her widowed mother. Her mother’s death has left her in danger and she must find the only person who might protect her—her true father, an English lord who does not even know she exists. This gorgeous young aristocrat will be a dangerous ally, but she’s glimpsed her pursuers and must race to the coast. She will resist him, use him, and eventually escape him with virtue and secrets intact. She hopes….

My Thoughts:

Robin and Petra have chemistry right off the bat. She attracts his attention because she swears in Italian, “Maledizione!” She is girl after my own heart. The book moves quickly through their adventure together, which is trying to get to England safely. There are a few harrowing moments along the way, such as an attempted swindle, abduction, and a sword fight. Petra and Robin do not trust each other, yet they are thrown into situations which require nothing but trust. At the same time, they try not to fall one for on another, to no avail. The dialogue between Robin and Petra is lively, and interlaced with their inner thoughts about what they say to one another. It wasn't hard to imagine their faces during such conversations. Robin and Petra are strong, well matched, and easily believable, especially in terms of their behavior and backgrounds.

The time period is 1760, and Beverly does a great job describing the surroundings, clothes, and customs of France and England. The dialect of the locals encountered in the book is included also, and easily imagined.

This book is part of Beverly's Malloren Family series, which starts with the patriarch the Marquess of Rothgar. I don't believe you need to read these in order, since I was able to pick this one up and be right on track. I assume they are all stand alone books. I would definitely consider reading the other Malloren books too.

This was a quick, enjoyable read, and I looked forward to reading it every day. I highly recommend this book.

You can visit Jo Beverly's website here

Here is what others have to say:

All About Romance

Genre Go Round Reviews

The Best Reviews

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What a Scoundrel Wants

Author: Carrie Lofty
Pub Date: December 2008
Genre: Historical/Adventure Romance
My Rating: 3.75/5

In this dazzling, original tale, Carrie Lofty imagines a new chapter in the well-loved Robin Hood fable. Meet Robin's rakish nephew, Will Scarlet, a man whose talents with the sword and the ladies are legendary--until his desire for one woman changes everything.

A Passionate Love...
A swordsman for the Sheriff of Nottingham, Will Scarlet has finally emerged from his famous uncle's shadow. But when he's unwittingly drawn into a bloody battle between the Sheriff and a nobleman, it's impossible to tell friend from foe. A woman's screams lead Will straight into the carnage to save her--but the ravishing young lady is not the helpless maid she appears to be.

An Amorous Lady...
Meg of Keyworth lost her sight to illness years ago, but that hasn't stopped her mission to save her imprisoned sister, who's been arrested by none other than Will Scarlet. Meg wants to hate Will for betraying her family, but he sparks heated desire in her heart--a desire that only he can satisfy. Meg is lovely and loving, and bedding her is sensual bliss. To please her in every way is what he wants most, for Will know he will cherish her heart forever..

My Thoughts:

Legends and tales of adventure always grab my attention, especially Robin Hood and his merry men. Will Scarlett is one character who I think is often overlooked, but Carrie Lofty has definitely brought this character into the spotlight with a great tale. The story opens with an ambush, and from there you are running through the woods, with pit stops at a forest encampment, village, the obligatory castle and dungeons, and a stop at a Loxley Manor, home to Robin Hood. He and Marian are a small part of the story, which gives the reader more insight to Will's back story and character.

Meg for her part is a strong women who is trying to make the best of a situation, getting through life blind. I understand she needs to be tough yet vulnerable, however her stubbornness became tiresome after a while.

With regards to Will, his history and growth into manhood is done nicely. He is vulnerable himself, yet seeks to take care of someone just as vulnerable as himself, Meg. Will and Meg make a great couple and complement one another well, as all great couples do. They are willing to defend each other to the last, and love each other deeply.

I did have a tough time getting into this book in the beginning. Since Meg is blind, the reader does not get the standard description of Will right off the bat. For me that was a little frustrating because, I like to create the mental picture. The one I had of Will and Meg did not fully develop until half way through the book. Once it did however, all was well. It was as if I knew what they looked like from the beginning.

Over all this book was an entertaining and enjoyable read. The characters, descriptions, speech, and the like, definitely transport you back to merry ole England. You could smell the smoke from the fire. The romantic scenes were also very descriptive, so be careful on public transportation (ha-ha). I would recommend reading this book if you are looking for some adventure and romance because it definitely fits the bill. I will be keeping my eye out for Lofty's next book as well.

This is a link to Carrie Lofty's website (link)

Here are what some other people thought:

Smart Bitches Trashy Books

Dear Author

Its my blog and I'll say what I want to

The Book Smugglers

And I would like to say thanks to Ann Aguirre for holding the contest in which I won this good book!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Darcys & the Bingleys: A Tale of Two Gentlemen's Marriages to Two Most Devoted Sisters

Author: Marsha Altman
Pub Date: September 2008

Genre: Historical romance
My Rating: 4/5

From the Publisher

A Tale of Two Gentlemen's Marriages to Two Most Devoted Sisters

Three days before their double wedding, Charles Bingley is desperate to have a word with his dear friend Fitzwilliam Darcy, seeking advice of a most delicate nature. Bingley is shocked when Darcy gives him a copy of The Kama Sutra—but it does tell him everything he needs to know.

Eventually, of course, Jane finds this remarkable volume and in utmost secrecy shows it to her dear sister Elizabeth, who goes searching for a copy in the Pemberley library...

By turns hilarious and sweet, The Darcys & the Bingleys follows the two couples and the cast of characters surrounding them. Miss Caroline Bingley, it turns out, has such good reasons for being the way she is that the reader can't help but hold her in charity. Delightfully, she makes a most eligible match, and in spite of Darcy's abhorrence of being asked for advice, he and Bingley have a most enduring and adventure-prone friendship.

My thoughts:

This was a quick, enjoyable read and it was so easy to picture Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy throughout the entire book. The characters and their behavior are all familiar, but I had one little problem with Mr. Darcy. I know he is enraptured/besotted with Elizabeth, but I didn't need to read about it so often. In the beginning, it just seemed it was always being mentioned how he loved her so much and couldn't say no to Lizzy. I get it, he loved her deeply. I just did not require a constant reminder.

Altman gives more of a back story on Darcy and Bingley's friendship, with a story regarding how they met, and conversations between the men throughout the book which demonstrate their brotherly relationship. I thought this was a different and interesting perspective.

Overall I enjoyed this book and would definitely read another if this is a continuing series, as is rumored in my readings. Austen purists will probably find fault with the language and some of the situations, but as a non, hard-core Austen fan, who is glad to see the story continued, I loved it. Lighthearted, humorous, enjoyable reading at it's best.

This is link to Altman's website:

Here are what some other people are saying:
Romance Rookie (I actually won this book on her blog)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

So this is my book blog

I read quite a bit and read almost anything. So I have decided to start a book blog. I'm sure I need this like I need a hole in the head, but I figured what better way to spread the word about books I perceive as good or have enjoyed reading. Also, this will keep my writing skills intact. Composing letters, memos, and emails for work versus general writing are completely different for me.

I read almost any kind of books: mystery, suspense, detective, some genres of romance(regency, classics, paranormal), sci-fi/adventure, and of course the classics. Other types of books, such as biographies may also pop up every now and then. I read what ever looks interesting to me.

I have other intersts, hobbies, and things to do also, so I can't promise a book every couple of days or week. Just as soon as I finish, I'll post a review. Hopefully my reviews will be useful to you and not give too much away. This is my first time doing this, so please have some patience.

Thanks and go grab a book!