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review 2018-04-24 18:33
A Scandalous Deal (The Four Hundred #2) by Joanna Shupe
A Scandalous Deal - Joanna Shupe

When Eva and Phillip first meet he comes off as the brooding type. A next encounter lets Eva discover he’s got a fun-loving side that she’d have loved to know more of but her dreams of becoming a well-renowned architect stops her from pursuing more with him.

I liked the chemistry these two developed from the start. It was fun to see how the relationship goes from ardent strangers, to a cold employer-employee status, to passionate lovers.
As Eva tries to prove she’s the capable professional she professes to be, she has to overcome many obstacles, some created by the people that want to see her fail, and some by her own doing. All in all she faces everything with temper and grace. I liked that about her character. I think she could have come across as a fearful woman but instead her decisiveness let us see she’s no wilting flower.

 

Overall it was an enjoyable and fun read. The thing is I think so many things could have been prevented if they had only told the truth from the start or at least not keep so many secrets. However that might actually be on me because the “concealed truth” trope is one of my least favorites. Either way I still recommend this book to anyone that likes strong heroines, charming billionaires, and a scorchingly sexy, engaging story.

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review 2018-03-30 02:42
Let me just start by saying 3.5 stars is not that bad...unless...
Guns n' Boys: Gilded Agony - K.A. Merikan

everyone else is giving it 5 stars?

 

In the scheme of things I just couldn't connect with Seth and Dom this time around and in a strange way I think it kind of speaks to how good the author are because for much of this story Seth and Dom were at odds and they just weren't connecting with each other. So maybe I was just being overly empathetic...I don't know.

 

First off I'm just going to say if you haven't read the previous books in this series...well, seriously I'm not sure I understand you because I love this series and these guys are seriously hot...broken in so many ways but hot!!!

 

While this story does have its fair share of action and suspense in it...Dom's lost a five million dollar gun shipment and to add to his matters he's got to deal with the mysterious Diago who seems to rub on Dom in all the wrong ways while trying to rub on Seth in all the ways that could get a man dead if Dom has his way and then there's the issue of what exactly he thinks he's up to where Mark's concerned...so can we just say 'this guy is a jerk...total, absolute jerk.

 

At the end of  it all for Seth is a very old lesson to be learned and learned at a price that Seth never wanted to pay...'be careful what you wish for'...Seth wanted to not be part of the violence that had become their life. He just didn't want to know. So Dom took him at his word and in so doing has isolated Seth not just from the world but from Dom, himself. 

 

Seth knows this and because it's what he wanted he doesn't feel that he can complain about it now that he realizes that what he wished for and what he wanted aren't the same thing and sometimes when wishes come true the price we pay is more than we're willing to give up, the question becomes how to fix things. It's going to take some hard work on both of their parts to get back to where they were and with everything that's going on it becomes questionable as to whether or not Dom and Seth will survive much less keep their relationship in tact.

 

Meanwhile, Mark's playing the field and making some poor choices as to who he's playing with. It seems that Mark either wants who he shouldn't or gets who he's not suppose to. Both lead to disastrous results for Mark and ultimately the objects of his desires.

 

While this may not have been one of my favorite books to date I was definitely fascinated with  the look that we got at Dom and Seth's relationship now that they've been together for a while and given how explosive things can get between these two men seeing what happens when the outside world pulls and tugs at them drawing each in a different direction until priorities become unclear and things often times get taken for granted or are just assumed to be a certain way by one or both of them was definitely a huge contributing factor to how events played out. 

 

I honestly liked and enjoyed reading this story, but I just never felt connected to things like I have in other books from this series. However, I did get enough of a glimpse at what's coming next to know that I'm totally on board for the next one.  As for 'Gilded Agony' given how much so many of my friends loved it...I'm going to say that this may have been a case of 'right book, wrong time' for me but 3.5 stars is a far cry from "why did I read this?" Well, I already know that answer to that one. I read it because overall I love this series and I'll see you all for whatever comes next  because I'm not going anywhere.

 

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

An ARC of 'Gilded Agony' was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-02-10 21:32
Real History in Fictional Form (The Gilded Years)
The Gilded Years: A Novel - Karin Tanabe

 

The true story in fictional form of Anita Hemmings, a black woman who graduated from Vassar in 1897, a full half century before Vassar officially allowed black women to attend. While this is mostly just an interesting story about the Gilded Age, women's education and race, it does best when race is confronted and lays bare the huge change some people suddenly see in people, just because they now know more about someone's racial background.

 

The book is preoccupied with describing Vassar, New York society of that era, mannerisms, and even some unrealistic frivolous romantic interludes for the majority of pages. It's a good way to show the change in behavior once the climax occurs, but it made the book less effective overall.

 

The high point starts with Anita's best friend and roommate (Lotty Taylor, a fictional name) finding out that Anita is black. The vitriolic hate spewed at a woman who had not changed one bit is terrifying and upsetting. Lotty feels that Anita's race is something Anita "did to her." That she's ruined the roommate's life by being black. When Anita finally tries to speak to the roommate's "modernity," Lotty spits, "Separate but Equal. Not equal and in my parlour." Where she had previously loved and doted on Anita, now:

 

"I see the negro in you. It's all I can see...I look at you and a dirty,

ugly, lying colored face looks back at me."

 

When Anita's whole college education is at risk, she says, "I was never asked whether I was a negro, so I never addressed it. If I had been asked, I would not have lied." This is something the white world doesn't grasp often. The default is white, so if one looks more white than black, you may get asked "what are you?" in 2018, but not in the polite society of 1897. Nobody ever questioned her race. Why would they? She was in the top of her class at Vassar year after year. But when the head of the college calls her in, "She watched him looking at her, plainly searching for negroid features."

 

Vassar pulled the ultimate CYA by graduating Anita (as white,) demanding she not speak of it, pulling all of her post-grad opportunities, and then in the real world not admitting an openly black woman until 1944. Meanwhile, Anita's own daughter had graduated from Vassar in the 1920s, so clearly they were fine with black women who could pass as white, just not black women who looked black. Even the first three women who graduated in the 1940s are all extremely light-skinned.

 

Even if you never plan to read this book, Anita Hemmings is an interesting person. Her great-granddaughter, Jillian Sim, wrote an article about tracing her family called for the American Spectator: "Fading to White". Monticello family tree research indicate that this Hemmings family is related to the Elizabeth Hemings family, which is also Sally Hemings' branch. An interview with Jillian Sim includes a photo of her holding photos Anita and her brother Frederick John Hemmings (who graduated MIT -- admitted as a black student -- the same year she graduated from Vassar.)

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review 2017-11-29 20:08
Too good to win
"The Best Men": Liberal Reformers in the Gilded Age - John G. Sproat

John G. Sproat's book offers a critical analysis of the politics and achievements of college-educated independents during the Gilded Age. He identifies these liberal reformers by their shared characteristics: their belief in classical liberalism, a moral code firmly based in their Protestant faith, independence from parties in the political process, moderate reform goals, and their confidence that their intentions made them truly the "best men" in the political process. Those objective was to create a small, technically efficient government run by themselves, which would allow them to reduce taxes, encourage individualism, and curtail public services so as to allow each man regardless of their social origins to use their talents to benefit society without warping natural laws.

 

Yet for all of their earnestness these reformers more often failed than succeeded in attaining their goals. Sproat attributes their failure to their inability to come to terms with the times in which they lived. In spite of their open-mindedness in terms of social progress, they proved too fixed in their social and moral standards and rigid in their economic and political ideas. Their unwillingness to compromise their ideological purity, along with their elitist rejection of involvement with mass movements, effectively limited their impact by depriving them of the opportunities to gain power that would have allowed them to implement their agenda.

 

Though published nearly a half-century ago, Sproat's book remains the best work available on this prominent group of Gilded Age activists. Its endurance is in no small measure credited to Sproat's acute analysis, which continues to define how these men are understood today. As such it remains required reading for anyone wishing to better understand Gilded Age politics and the limits of contemporary efforts to reform government.

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text 2017-11-26 12:48
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square 10: Pancha Ganapati
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea Wulf
A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie - Kathryn Harkup
William Pitt the Younger: A Biography - William Hague
Metamorphoses - Denis Feeney,Ovid,David Raeburn
The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey
Treffpunkt im Unendlichen. - Klaus Mann
Making History - Stephen Fry
Gilded Needles (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Christopher Fowler,Michael McDowell,Mike Mignola
Risiko: Roman - Steffen Kopetzky

Tasks for Pancha Ganapati: Post about your 5 favourite books this year and why you appreciated them so much. –OR– Take a shelfie / stack picture of the above-mentioned 5 favorite books.  (Feel free to combine these tasks into 1!

 

Inspired by Murder by Death's post this morning, I've pondered over my morning coffe which reads qualify as myfavourite books this year. Although there is still time for a truly great read to come up in the next month (I am looking at you, Winter by Ali Smith), below is my list of 5 (or, erm, 6) favourite books of 2017 (I have not considered re-reads for this, btw.):

 

The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf.

Although, I knew of Humboldt (and his brother), I had no idea of the extent of his influence on the sciences and of the adventures he went on to gain the deep understanding of the world that he did. I am still amazed at both. I am still amazed at the difficulties he faced. I am still amazed at everything I learned about his and his times from Wulf's extraordinary book. 

 

A is for Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup.

I love the works of Agatha Christie and I also love a good bit of science mixed with history - and this book had all of it. What is more, I particularly enjoyed how this book started a discussion with my mom (a retired chemical engineer) about all things chemistry and how scientific discovery changed crime fiction. For that alone, this book deserves 5 stars.

 

William Pitt the Younger by William Hague. 

One of the biggest surprises this year, not because of the subject (Pitt had been on my radar for quite some time) but because of the author. What I learned from Mr Hague's excellent account of Mr Pitt and the political landscape of Georgian Britain is that I may not agree with the author on everything (especially political outlook) but that this doesn't lessen my appreciation for the excellent work he has produced with this book. The sheer amount of research that must have gone into this is staggering. 

 

Metamorphoses by Ovid (tr. by David Raeburn)

This is the book that has taken me longest to read this year, but it is a book that demands a slow and deliberate read. Becoming reacquainted with the myths and legends of Ancient Greece and Rome has brought home how far we've come as a society, how much we still face the same issues, and how much I miss reading the "classics". 

 

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey.

As it turns out, my 2017 seemed to be geared towards a history side - and I loved it - with a mix of murder mystery thrown in for balance. Tey's book takes both and showed how a good "vintage" mystery can actually take a serious turn. Tey loved history and it shows when she used her laid-up Inspector to investigate not just the murder of the Princes in the Tower, but also how history itself is subjective and prone to be re-written for the benefit of propaganda ... and how easy it is to fall in line believing anything by virtue of it being repeated as truth over and over. 

A timely read for 2017.

 

Treffpunkt im Unendlichen by Klaus Mann.

I've been a fan of Klaus Mann's for a while, and in this book he shows how spot on his powers of observations were when he wrote about the times he lived in. Treffpunkt is one of the best books I have read to bring to life the Lost Generation in the late 1920s / early 1930s. Loved it.

 

 

 

Of course, there are some honourable mentions too:

 

Making History by Stephen Fry. 

 

Gilded Needles by Micheal McDowell (I'm still in love with basically every single book of McDowell's that has crossed my path.)

 

Risiko by Steffen Kopetzky 

 

 

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