logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Victorian
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-12-28 16:29
Packaged Thoughts Christmas 2018: More Books Lined Up In A Row!
Daughter of the Forest - Juliet Marillier
Scandal - Amanda Quick
Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton,Scott Brick
Not My Father's Son: A Memoir - Alan Cumming
The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett
Chasing Fire - Pamela Clare
How the Dukes Stole Christmas: A Holiday Romance Anthology - Sophie Jordan,Sarah MacLean,Tessa Dare,Joanna Shupe
Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets - John Woolf,Nick Baker,Stephen Fry

It's that time of year again!  Happy Holidays to everyone!  Or rather, a belated Merry Christmas, as this review came out a few days later than I'd planned.  Of course, it also gave me a chance to include my 100th read book this year, Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets.

This is a feature I've been hoping to keep up since 2016, with two posts a year, once at mid-year on the first day of June (my birthday!), and one at the end of the year for Christmas!  Whether you like it or not, you're getting a packaged review post!

Meanwhile, in other news, I've been out of touch online, and I hope to get back into more interaction with the holidays winding down.  I'll also have a couple more updates about how the rest of the year has gone, and how my new year will start... maybe.  I'm also needing to post an update on my progress with 24 Festive Tasks--that'll probably get posted this weekend!

 

~*~*~*~

 

 

Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1)
by Juliet Marillier
Rating:  3.5 Stars

The only thing I recall describing this book as, when I was talking to my BFF, was how heavy the content matter turned out.  I suppose I was more familiar with Marillier's YA books (Shadowfell, Wildwood...).  It's not that I didn't know what to expect--I'd read some telltale hints here and there about what happens in Daughter of the Forest--trigger warnings, if you will.

Those moments are fleeting, but still a bit surprising.

Anyway, overall, Daughter of the Forest was a good read, even if there were moments that I wished the story would get on with itself.  But Marillier's penchant for whimsical, magical lore and atmosphere more than makes up for those few moments of drag.

 

 

Scandal
by Amanda Quick
Rating:  2.0 Stars

Definitely not one of Amanda Quick's best books, but still had a bit of the same charm I've come to appreciate from her.  Unfortunately, the frustration I had with both of our main characters overshadowed that charm.  Emily was a walking doormat and Simon was just a typical, broody, Grade A jackass.  How this romance is even supposed to work in the long-term will definitely be a miracle.

Meanwhile, I actually found the constant references to the "exotic tastes of the East" a bit distasteful.  It reeks of misrepresentation and false ideals.  And the repetitive descriptions of the metaphysical plane or transcendental communication or some such bullshit got annoying after a while.

But this is Amanda Quick, and I love Amanda Quick.

I just didn't love this book.

 

 

Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park #1)
by Michael Crichton
audio book narrated by Scott Brick
Rating:  4.0 Stars

This book was a "reread," which quite rarely happens, because I'm always worried that reading an old favorite will come back and bite me in the butt.  Especially an old favorite from my younger, teen days.  My tastes have change a lot since then.

But as we can see, I still ended up really enjoying the heck out of myself with this extremely long audio book.  The beginning took a while to start up, but I started getting into the story once the park started getting out of control... though I'd forgotten how bloody and gory this book was.  Considering this is about dinosaurs, it's surprising that I was so startled by some of the blood and guts.

Meanwhile, obviously there were some glaring foibles about Jurassic Park that my high school self managed to overlook.  At present, I'm still going to overlook them in favor of my enjoyment of this book, but I will still acknowledge said foibles.

A wonderful narration by Scott Brick though, and makes me want to jump on into the next book, The Lost World, if he's narrating that one, too!

 

 

Not My Father's Son
written and narrated by Alan Cumming
Rating:  4.0 Stars

This was a wonderful narration and telling by Alan Cumming, detailing a terrible and dark childhood, involving his abusive father and how he has questioned his self-worth his entire life.  Aside from that, it's also a very thought-provoking story, as Alan brings a lot of modern issues to light: child abuse, women's rights, LGBTQ rights...

Alan Cumming is truly an inspirational, and wonderful man, and I'm glad he shares so much of his life with us.  I also love those little tidbits that shine through the bleakness of his telling, that show the sweetness of his love for his mother, Mary Darling, his brother, Tommy, and his husband, Grant.  He doesn't showcase a whole lot of laugh-out-loud humor, but his presentation is more of a "smile warmly to yourself" kind, and I loved it!

 

 

The Light Fantastic (Discworld #2)
by Terry Pratchett
Rating:  4.0 Stars

I'm not sure if it was simply the fact that I'm more familiar with the writing style now, or maybe the characters, but The Light Fantastic was certainly more enjoyable than The Colour of Magic had been.  While there were still some instances where I found the humor a little odd, there were many points in the book I highlighted because I thought it either chuckle-worthy, or simply a ingeniously inserted one-liner.

Pratchett proves that he can easily reel you into the world of Discworld, and I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the series now.

In fact, the ending of this book kind of gave me a little pang of sadness, in a weird way.  I'm going to miss some of these characters... sort of.

 

 

Chasing Fire (Colorado High Country #7 / I-Team crossover)
by Pamela Clare
Rating:  4.5 Stars

Pamela Clare never fails to bring out the heart in all of her books.  As schmaltzy as some of her dialogue sometimes comes out, she's as equally meticulous about detail and good characterization.  One cannot help but to fall in love with the world she's created, surrounding the beautiful characters from both the I-Team world and the Colorado High Country series.

This is a crossover (not the first) between her Romantic Suspense and Contemporary Romance series, but this time she utilizes more characters from both than simply a guest appearance.  From a story plot standpoint, however, this was more a Colorado High Country book than I-Team, as Erik Hawke, chief of the small Scarlet Springs fire department, pretty much takes center stage in fighting for his life as well as the lives of his townspeople to battle a raging forest fire before it burns down his town.

I've always loved the attention to detail that Pamela puts into the goings-on of the Scarlet Springs Search and Rescue team's every tone out.  And I am especially appreciative of how well she outlines the way in which the fire fighting team battles the forest fire.

This book is less about character development, but more a story being told of how a community bands together to help each other when something this disastrous unfolds.  Man versus nature is a hard battle to fight, really, and I love how she handled this issue.

The truth is, I loved this book enough to give it a full out five star rating.  Of course, her tendency towards schmaltz, and her habit of making all of her characters an exposition fairy every couple chapters can really take away from the telling of the story sometimes.

 

 

How the Dukes Stole Christmas (anthology)
authors include: Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Joanna Shupe
Rating: 3.8 Stars

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I had a bias going into this book.  I love Tessa Dare, no matter that her heroines are typically not historically accurate in terms of mannerisms and roles.  But that's what's delightful about them.  And the fact that this is a holiday book helps as well.

The truth is, though, aside from the magical shortbread cookies and the typical Happily Ever After, I don't really have much to say about this book.  I enjoyed each story, and that seems to be about it.

Sarah MacLean's The Duke of Christmas Present was probably the most thought-provoking, in-depth romance, but a bit too angst-ridden for my liking.  I don't remember much about Dare's Meet Me in Mayfair, sadly, considering it was her name that drew me to this anthology in the first place.  I couldn't quite get into Heiress Alone by Sophie Jordan, and thought it was a little hard(er) to suspend disbelief for--as well as having a pretty loosely wrapped up ending.  Christmas in Central Park was by far my favorite, if only because of how fiery the heroine was and how lovely her friendships are presented.

There's also a nod to making of shortbread cookies, which my mother and I discovered first-hand this year what "cream the butter and sugar together" actually meant.  It was the first time we'd ever made cookies, period.  We succeeded after the second batch, and lovely chocolate shortbread cookies were borne!

 

 

Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets
an Audible Studios Original
written by John Woolf & Nick Baker
narrated by Stephen Fry
Rating:  3.5 Stars

I'm not sure I know how I felt about this one.  It felt like a strange documentary you'd expect to see (or hear) at a theme park, or a random television presentation.  It was entertaining, but I don't know if I'd call it enjoyable since I DID somehow zone out several times.

The book itself was outlined in a rather scattered way, and I found myself realizing that we were talking about a new, different historical instance than what was being narrated five minutes ago, without a very clear transition.

Still, I think I'd give 3 Stars just for Stephen Fry's presentation alone.  Another 0.5 Stars is for the actual book itself because it was entertaining, and also I might have learned a few new things about Victorians, even if the rest were more open secrets than actual secrets.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/packaged-thoughts-christmas-2018-more.html
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-12-22 02:11
Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets - John Woolf,Nick Baker,Stephen Fry

This was so good.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-12-21 21:32
Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets
Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets - John Woolf,Nick Baker,Stephen Fry

20% of why I bought this was a mild interest in 'Victorian Secrets', but 80% was because Stephen Fry was narrating it.  

 

Neither disappointed.  If you don't like Stephen Fry - and I don't know how that would be possible - you won't like this audiobook.  If you do, you'll probably enjoy it even if some of the stuff he discusses is old hat.

 

The recording is broken up into 12 episodes that each cover a different facet of Victorian culture.  It's debatable whether or not a lot of these are "secrets" in the strictest sense of the word; more that some of these are things the average modern day person might not have known about the era, or had ever given any thought to (sewer pirates anyone?).  It seems this was created specifically for Audible by Audible, but it sounds much like the BBC Radio Shows in format - each episode in introduced, and there are excepts read by other authors/scholars about their work as it pertains to the episode's subject.  I was chuffed to not only recognise some of them, but to have already read their work. 

 

My personal prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box (or my Kinder surprise for the younger demographic) was the last episode: it was about Sherlock Holmes - squeeee!  He talks about the mystery surrounding aspects of Holmes' life, but even better, the episode includes a recording of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself discussing Sherlock's creation.  Bliss, with a hint of Scottish burr.  

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-12-12 22:05
Love with a Notorious Rake (Men of Wollstonecraft Hall #3) by Karyn Gerrard
Love with a Notorious Rake - Karyn Gerrard

Love with a Notorious Rake - Karyn Gerrard 

 

You now that feeling when you already like an author's work and then you read their newest and you're totally reminded of why you like it? This was a perfect example of it for me. 

With a course hovering over his head, Aidan has spent his entire adult life in debauchery. His last stint lands him in the care of Cristyn's father's sanatorium, where she acts as kind of a physician's aid to her father. He and Cristyn form a friendship that eventually transforms into more but because of Aiden's reservations they end up parting ways.

I loved Cristyn's openness and candor. She still behaved as a proper lady however that never stopped her from acknowledging her feelings, speaking her mind, and demanding the respect she knew she deserved. 
I found Aiden's true feelings touching and the perfect basis for his addictions. There was honesty in what he did and as a character he grew immensely, trying to make up for past mistakes, and by taking up on his family's radical ideas of helping those in need. He was frank about his mistakes and totally owned them. I particularly loved how he handled his association with an old paramour, which in the eyes of his society would have been total ruin, possibly even worse. 

Other characters from previous books make appearances here giving us glimpses of Aidan as part of a loving family. It also provided a sort of epilogue for the other men of Wollstonecraft stories, which I always consider a treat. Overall, I thought it was an endearing, charming, and unique story. I would recommend this series and author to anyone that enjoys history along with their romance.

* I received a copy of this story at no cost to me; this is my honest opinion and in no way was it influenced by the author or publisher. *

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-12-08 04:20
Reading progress update: I've read 7%. And I can't read any more
Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Victorian Historical Romance - Tammy Andresen

(Prior reports linked at the end.)

 

I really tried.  I kept telling myself there would be a story, a romance, that I could read and review.  Somehow I would be able to set aside the problems and read the book.  But it's not going to happen.

 

Piper and her mother are set upon by thieves/kidnappers, but they are rescued by our caped hero, who turns out to be the Barrett Maddox, 6th Duke of Manchester.  What he's doing in Boston we don't know yet.

 

He rescues Piper, almost kisses her, then discovers she is with her mother.  He suggests/invites them to join him sailing to New York.

 

Here's where things about the writing just got really, really bad.

 

First, we don't know what an English Duke is doing in Boston.  Dukes have responsibilities that they can't just up and leave for extended periods of time.

 

Second, we learn that Piper's mother used to be "Lady Carolyn Vesser," but not how that title applied to her.  Is she an earl's daughter?  Why would she have left England and married an American in the 1830s?

 

Third, the original implication is that the duke is sailing on the same ship, the Maria, as Piper and her mother.  When Piper asks him where he is taking them,

 

“To the Maria.” He paused as his eyes drank her in again. “Although it’s an awful ship. I am travelling to New York as well, and you could both travel with me. You would, most assuredly, be safer.”

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 9). Kindle Edition.

 

A few pages later, however, we learn that he has led them -- distance not described -- to his own "boat."

 

“Lady Vesser, why don’t I send a note to the Maria that you will be travelling with us tonight? My boat is right here and I am sure you will be more comfortable.”

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 10). Kindle Edition.

 

Fourth, there are a couple references to Piper's cleavage.  She tries to cover it and Maddox's eyes travel to it.  I'm just not comfortable thinking that a well-bred young woman traveling from Boston to New York in 1854 would be wearing something that bares her bosom.  Even though it's May, the weather in the evening might be cool, and it almost certainly will be once they're at sea, so shouldn't she have some kind of cloak or cape or other covering?

 

Fifth, there is the matter of their luggage.  These two women are essentially moving to New York, so they have trunks.  TRUNKS.  Only one apiece?  Or more?  Oh, who knows?  The author isn't specific, and she just has the driver of the carriage pick up both trunks and carry them to the bottom of the gangplank to Maddox's "boat." 

 

Sixth, we get this nonsense about peerage titles, something that drives me up the ever-loving wall.

 

Piper and her mother are going to New York to visit (or live with?) Piper's cousin Sybil, who has already been referred to as "Lady Fairfield."

 

But now, in the company of the duke, Mrs. Baker says:

 

". . . Piper, I was girlhood friends with Mr. Maddox’s mother, Lady Priscilla Fairfield Maddox. Now the Duchess, of course."

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (pp. 11-12). Kindle Edition.

 

I thought I had misread something, but later on that same page, Piper replies to a question about having family in England:

 

“Yes, of course,” she replied. “Actually my cousin, Lady Sybil Fairfield, Viscountess of Abberforth, is waiting for us in New York.”

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 12). Kindle Edition.

 

The same family name????  And a viscount is never "of" something.  Viscount Abberforth would be the correct form.

 

Okay, that's bad enough.  But how is Sybil a viscountess?  She's already been described as being in desperate need of a husband, so we know she's not married to the viscount.  If she's the daughter of the viscount Abberforth, we know he's dead because that's already been established, too.

 

Her cousin, Sybil, also needed to marry but had yet to choose a suitor. A sigh escaped her lips to think of her cousin. Beautiful and titled, she supposed most women would be jealous of Sybil, but Piper knew the truth. After the death of her parents, Sybil felt weighed down with responsibility. She was having difficulty running the estate.

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 2). Kindle Edition.

 

If her father the viscount died without a male heir, the title would have gone to another male such as a nephew.  In the absence of a direct male heir, the title would have gone in abeyance or reverted to the crown.  The idea of Sybil, a young woman in America, being given a title in her own right is utterly implausible. 

 

And what is this business of running an estate?  In New York?  Rural New York, perhaps, but the implication is New York City, since Piper is counting on Sybil's ability to introduce her to New York society.

 

Furthermore, while Mrs. Baker may have given up her own title when she married an American, she would not not NOT have referred to His Grace the Duke of Manchester as "Mr. Maddox." Never, never, never.  If there is an explanation for this, it needs to come at the spot the event happens, not more pages into the book.

 

Once again, the point is to make the pages disappear so the reader is lost in the story, not wondering why there are all these unexplained anomalies.

 

Eighth -- the overall effect.

 

The pacing is completely off.  The opening scene does nothing to set the plot in motion; all it really does is raise questions.  When Piper and her mother go to the docks to board their ship, there's still not enough explanation.  And there's no description at all!  I don't know what Piper looks like.  I don't know what kind of night it is.  Warm?  Breezy?  How does the air smell in the harbor area?  We get some of Piper's reactions to being touched by the duke, but it's kind of silly description.  Her heart is pounding.  Something happens to her nerves.  It's beyond clichéd.

 

This is one of those books that might have a decent romance plot buried in the garbage, but it desperately needs competent editing.  It needs to be fleshed out with good description, reasonable background development, and for the love of Queen Victoria, some historical research!

 

DNF, because I refuse to waste any more time on this piece of crap.

 

 

 

 

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/1816060/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-5

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/1816007/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-4-i-m-not-sure-i-can-continue

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/1815742/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-2

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/1815727/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-2-not-a-dnf-yet-but-gettin-close

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/1815343/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-4-out-of-232-pages

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/1815065/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-3-out-of-232-pages

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/1814988/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-1-out-of-232-pages

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?