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text 2018-12-05 21:24
24 Festive Tasks, Door 9 - Thanksgiving UPDATED to include Task 2
Amelia: An Autumn Bride - Hildie McQueen
To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 - Adam Hochschild
Hamilton's Battalion: A Trio of Romances - Alyssa Cole,Rose Lerner,Courtney Milan
Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story - Kurt Eichenwald
The Lotus Palace - Jeannie Lin
The Jade Temptress - Jeannie Lin
Once Upon a Spine - Kate Carlisle
Bitch Planet Volume 1 - Kelly Sue DeConnick,Robert Wilson IV,Valentine De Landro
Bitch Planet Volume 2: President Bitch - Kelly Sue DeConnick
Nightingales Under the Mistletoe: (Nightingales 7) - Donna Douglas

Thanksgiving

 

Book: Today, I read Amelia: An Autumn Bride (Brides for All Seasons #7) by Hildie McQueen (autumn colors).

 

Task #1

The three books I am most thankful for reading this year are:

 

1. To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild

          This is what I would recommend to anyone, but especially non-history readers, if they wanted to read one book about World War I. 

 

2. Hamilton's Battalion: A Trio of Romances by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole

              I'm not a fangirl of Hamilton or his musical (although I do listen and enjoy the soundtrack), but getting new material from these authors was enough for me to buy it. Courtney Milan's story was my favorite, but Rose Lerner's and Alyssa Cole's stories were wonderful as well. 

 

3. Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story by Kurt Eichenwald

             This book was a door stopper, but read so much like a novel that it didn't feel over long at all. This is the true story of the rise and fall of Enron.

 

Honorable mention: The Lotus Palace and The Jade Temptress (Pingkang Li Mysteries #1 and 2) by Jeannie Lin.

 

Task #2

My perfect meal, created by a chef and his/her/their team, is inspired by my Italian heritage. It would be time and resource intensive, ergo I would never make it for myself.

1. Starters - Caprese salad and friend calamari

2. Main - Zuppa di Pesce e Frutti de Mare (just a ton of seafood in a clear broth)

3. Sides - Baked Fennel with Parmesan and Mushroom risotto

4. Dessert - Tiramisu

 

Task #3

The book I read this year with the most "stuffing" was Once Upon a Spine (A Bibliophile Mystery #11) by Kate Carlisle. Details about the most mundane things with boring vanilla characters and constant wedding talk - and the murder mystery was an afterthought until the very end. 

 

Task #4

Honestly, I can't remember all the freebies I download in a single month, let alone in a year. So here is what I bought this month:

 

1. Bitch Planet Volume 1 and 2 by Kelly Sue DeConnick et al (from Foyles)

2. A Nightingale Christmas Carol and Nightingales Under the Mistletoe by Donna Douglas (from a charity shop)

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review 2018-11-24 20:26
The Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister #3)
The Countess Conspiracy - Courtney Milan

I thought I would enjoy this more since I've enjoyed Sebastian and Violet since the first book, and it was pretty obvious they'd end up together. Violet was a much different person than I thought she'd be once we got into her head though, and it took awhile for me to warm up to her. 

 

Seeing Violet and Sebastian both doubt themselves - for different reasons - and trying to prove themselves worthy to their family was frustrating at times. Their insecurities made them vulnerable in similar ways, and they could really only be themselves when they were working together on Violet's theories.

 

Yes, Violet's theories! (That's in the blurb, but also becomes immediately obvious in the first chapter, so it's not a spoiler.) Violet wasn't allowed to publish her theories under her own name, since no one would even read them given that she's a woman. So Sebastian has been presenting her theories as his own, and the constant lies and the derision from some of the public have worn him down. Women having to hide their intelligence and discoveries behind men's names was sadly not unheard of, and I found this aspect of the story engaging, even if it ended a bit more fairy tale than could be believed. (Or the author decided to not focus on any of the negatives

after Violet went to prison.

(spoiler show)

 

I really liked seeing these two friends break down their barriers and become more than friends, but it didn't quite grab me as much as the previous couples. 

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review 2018-10-30 01:29
The Heiress Effect (The Brothers Sinister #2)
The Heiress Effect - Courtney Milan

This is easily my favorite to date. Jane, Emily and Free are forces to reckon with, and Oliver learns how to stand up for himself, and Anjan was a surprising delight of a character. I think it'll be hard to top this one. :D

 

I don't recall if we've met Jane Fairfield before now, but from the instant she appears on page, she commands your full attention. She's a plus-size woman with a plus-size dowry, and she's lacking many of the social graces that refined women are expected to have. She's got terrible taste in clothes, and she speaks her mind in the most refreshing way possible. Well, refreshing for the reader. The poor subjects of her attentions will hardly find it so refreshing. But she's one of those people you find it hard to hate - unless you're asshole, like Bradenton. She does some of it by design, since she's actively trying to not get married and knows the best way to put off any man is tell him exactly what you think of him. And it works.

 

Until she meets Oliver. I was instantly intrigued with Oliver and his parents when I read The Duchess War, and have been trying to figure out who would make a good match for him since. Jane fits the bill, but not in the way youI would have expected. So far, Ms. Milan has been doing a fantastic job of finding love interests who challenge each other in the ways they most need to be challenged, and she doesn't have to resort to tired old tropes to do (or finds wonderful ways of poking fun at that tropes when she does use them). Oliver had it hard at Eton and Cambridge, the bastard and unrecognized son of a duke, and he learned how to compromise parts of himself in order to fit in, whereas Jane goes out of her way to stand out. Watching them circle around each other, and learning to trust in each other, was pure delightful. Ms. Milan even had me worried this might end on a cliffhanger. (It doesn't.)

 

Then there's Jane's sister Emily, who suffers from seizures, and their idiotic uncle Titus who really does think he's doing the best he can for her but ye gads this is why women need to be able to direct their own lives, y'all! Emily meets Anjan, an Indian immigrant who is studying law and struggling to fit in with a society that looks down on him just for the color of his skin. I thought the racism that he encounters was delicately handled, and it's shown that even those who are well-meaning can still be insensitive. They're more of a subplot here, but Ms. Milan makes takes scene they have together shine and milks them for everything she can.

 

On top of all this, but linked intricately to everything these characters are struggling with and learning, is Oliver's sister Free, who is determined to get into Cambridge despite her sex, and who is as resourceful as she is willful. 

 

However, add on Sebastian and Violet and this did start to feel a little overstuffed in the back half. I'm guessing Sebastian's book will be next, but setting it up here didn't really do this story much justice and detracted from the central themes. It did serve a purpose for the Jane/Oliver storyline though.

 

And now I have to nitpick: Jane is not slim. The cover model is. And she's once again dressed like she's going to prom. I'm sure the publisher was picking stock photos from a catalogue rather than paying the money for their own photo shoots, but they couldn't find one plus-sized model? Not one? Really? That's depressing.

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review 2018-10-12 04:38
A Kiss for Midwinter (The Brothers Sinister #1.5)
A Kiss For Midwinter - Courtney Milan

This is the first dud in this series for me. It just never really seemed to gel with me and I even contemplated not finishing it but it was short enough that I powered through. The ending is a bit better than the beginning, which was very repetitive. A good ten pages could have been shaved off this without missing anything - or better yet, those pages could have been used to better development this relationship.

 

Jonas is a nice enough bloke, in his blunt, socially-inept way. But he's still following around a woman with no interest in him, who he falls for in literally a second. And she hates him, but of course that's only because of how he makes her feel and blah blah blah. I just didn't feel the chemistry, and the relationship development felt by-the-numbers. I guess expecting Ms. Milan to write an historical Christmas novella while also avoiding trope pitfalls was asking too much. 

 

I did like Lydia's father, and felt for Jonas's situation with his father. I would have liked to see more of them.

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review 2018-09-30 19:50
The Governess Affair (The Brothers Sinister #0.5)
The Governess Affair - Courtney Milan

Oh, what fun!

 

It was a joy to see how Hugh and Serena first met and fell in love. Knowing already from The Duchess War that they'd end up HEA did help me when reading some of the things Hugh did to try to thwart Serena's attempts to disgrace Duke Clermont. If I had read this first, I might not have been so quickly forgiving. But then Hugh's such a giant goober and a softie that I might have forgiven him just as quickly anyway, lol.

 

Their interactions had a very Beatrice/Benedict vibe to them, and for once I didn't mind the insta-love at all. They were both evenly matched (well, Hugh might have been a little outmatched) and they both needed something from the other that they didn't even know they needed. 

 

There's also a short little scene of Robert and Marshall meeting at Eton at the very end. It doesn't really add anything that we don't already know, but it was nice to see "live" as it were.

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