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text 2020-05-28 10:43
Reading progress update: I've listened 72 out of 552 minutes. - Le Train Bleu
Naughty in Nice - Rhys Bowen,Katherine Kellgren

This is my sixth 'Her Royal Spyness' novel (I know, this is the fifth in the series but I started out of sequence with 'The Twelve Clues Of Christmas' the sixth book in the series and I'm only now catching up). They've become a comfort read for me. Before Lockdown, I listened to them on long car journeys. I'm listening to this one while I sit idly in the garden (again) and try to remember what day it is.

 

The thing to love or hate about this series is that it's always the same cast of characters and the same sources of humour in each book. All that changes is the location and the task that Georgie has to accomplish. I'm just finishing the set-up part of the book and soon Georgie will be leaving the miserable London winter behind and travelling to Nice on the French Riviera.

 

Part of the charm of the series is seeing how this was done in 1931 when the elite travelled by boat train from Victoria and then by The Blue Train, an overnight luxury express train direct from Calais to Nice. 

 

 

Everything is different now, in this time of private jets. The boat train from Victoria Station stopped in 1980. I took it once in the Seventies as part of a school trip. It was battered and basic by that time but I still enjoyed it. All that's left of the old tradition now is the magnificent Le Train Bleu restaurant in the Garé du Nord in Paris, which is now a national monument. If you ever get to travel by Eurostar from London to Paris (which these days takes just over two hours) it's worth taking the time to look at this place.

 

 

I've only been to Nice on business on the way to a tech conference in Cannes (in the winter of course) and my luxurious travel was a seat on EasyJet, an economy airline that favours a bright orange livery and tiny seats, earning it the nickname SqueazyJet.

 

So I'm looking forward to seeing how these things were done by the wealthy in the thirties, while most people were struggling to feed themselves.

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text 2020-05-22 16:00
Short and Sweet Summertime Reading Master Tracker
Because He's Perfect: Anthology for the Movember Foundation - Danielle Dickson,Anna Blakely,Ally Vance,Alice La Roux,Renee Harless,Sienna Grant,Claire Marta,Lexi C. Foss,Tracie Delaney,Dani René,K. L. Humphreys,Elle Boon,Carrie Ann Ryan,Victoria James,Samantha Lewis,Lexxie Couper,Anne Joseph,Victoria-Maria MacDonal
Once Upon a Wedding: A Fiction From the Heart Second Chances Anthology - Donna Kauffman,Barbara Samuel,Hope Ramsay,K.M. Jackson,Tracy Brogan,Sally Kilpatrick,Sonali Dev,Falguni Kothari,Jamie Beck,Priscilla Oliveras
No Dukes Allowed - Grace Burrowes,Anna Harrington,Kelly Bowen
This Wedding is Doomed! - Stephanie Draven,Jeannie Lin,Shawntelle Madison,Amanda Berry
Hearts Entwined (Ladies of Harper’s Station #2.5) - Mary Connealy,Karen Witemeyer,Regina Jennings,Melissa Jagears
Love By the Letters: A Regency Novella Trio - Grace Burrowes,Vanessa Riley,Kelly Bowen
The Christmas Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love Through the Generations - Karen Witemeyer,Becky Wade,Sarah Loudin Thomas,Kristi Ann Hunter
Serving Up Love: A Harvey House Brides Collection - Tracie Peterson,Karen Witemeyer,Jen Turano,Regina Jennings

I decided that my summer reading project was to read anthologies and novellas/shorter works (150 pages or less) off my NOOK and Kindle. Short and sweet is the theme for this year, as I wanted space to read longer works at my leisure without feeling unproductive. Also, I want to have short works ready to read so I can structure my days around reading and other hobbies, errands, and such and not the news or social media (BL exception, of course) - I really need to get off my phone more, that screen time tracker is not good for my health.

 

Dates for this reading project: May 25th (Memorial Day) to Labor Day (Sep 7th) - 106 days. I am aiming for one story from an anthology or novella per day, with the goal of averaging about 100 pages per day. I put a few winter holiday ones on the list for a Christmas-in-July reading week. To kick off the project, I will be starting the longest anthology and use Random Number Generator to pick a novella. After that I will use RNG or go by mood - probably the second method most of the time.

 

Anthologies

1. No Dukes Allowed by Various Authors 0/3 stories read

2. This Wedding is Doomed! by Various Authors 0/4 stories read

3. Hearts Entwined by Various Authors 0/4 stories read

4. Once Upon a Wedding by Various Authors 0/11 stories read

5. Because He's Perfect by Various Authors 0/20 stories read

6. Love by the Letters by Various Authors 0/3 stories read

7. The Christmas Heirlooms by Various Authors 0/4 stories read

8. Serving Up Love by Various Authors 0/4 stories read

 

Novellas

Nook:

1. Changing Leaves by Edie Bryant

2. The Cost of Hope (The Cost of Love #1) by G.S. Carr

3. Once Upon a Winter's Eve (Spindle Cove #1.5) by Tessa Dare

4. A New Life (West Meets East #1) by Merry Farmer

5. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

6. Hollywood Holiday (Hollywood Headlines #2.5) by Gemma Halliday

7. Out of the Storm (Beacon of Hope #0.5) by Jody Hedlund

8. A Lady of Esteem (Hawthorne House #0.5) by Kristi Ann Hunter

9. A Search for Refuge (Haven Manor #0.5) by Kristi Ann Hunter

10. Love by the Letter (Unexpected Brides #0.5) by Melissa Jagears

11. Love on the Prairie (McKinnie Mail Order Brides #1) by Ciara Knight

12. Love in the Rockies (McKinnie Mail Order Brides #2) by Ciara Knight

13. Mrs. Sartin's Secretary (Lords of Chance #2.5) by Wendy LaCapra

14. That Healing Touch (Cutter's Creek #1) by Kit Morgan

15. The Christmas Mail Order Bride by Kit Morgan

16. What Lies Behind Us (World War II Sisters) by Sierra Rose

17. A Little Light Mischief (The Turner Series #3.5) by Cat Sebastian

18. Tycoon (The Knickerbocker Club #0.5) by Joanna Shupe

19. A Hero's Promise (Culpepper's Ring Novella) by Roseanna M. White

20. Fairchild's Lady (Culpepper's Ring Novella) by Roseanna M. White

21. Mail Order Cowboy (Gold Valley #1.5) by Maisey Yates

22. Hometown Heartbreaker (Copper Ridge #3.5) by Maisey Yates

23. Claim Me, Cowboy (Copper Ridge #4) by Maisey Yates

 

Kindle:

24. Proper English (England #0) by KJ Charles

25. Dance All Night (Dance Off #2.5) by Alexis Dare

26. Willow: Bride of Pennsylvania by Merry Farmer

27. Engaging the Competition (With This Ring? Novella) by Melissa Jagears

28. Mrs. Martin's Incomparable Adventure (Worth Saga #2.75) by Courtney Milan

29. Dueling the Desperado (Brides of Blessings #4) by Mimi Milan

30. Where Snowy Owl Sleeps (Brides of Blessings #9) by Mimi Milan

31. Birth of the Butterfly (Brides of Blessings #11) by Mimi Milan

32. Miracle on Ladies' Mile by Joanna Shupe

33. After a Fashion (A Class of Their Own #0.5) by Jen Turano

34. The Husband Maneuver (A Worthy Pursuit #0.5) by Karen Witemeyer

35. Worth the Wait (Ladies of Harper's Station Novella) by Karen Witemeyer

 

 

 

 

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review 2020-05-18 03:36
Love and Death Among the Cheetahs (Royal Spyness, #13)
Love and Death Among the Cheetahs - Rhys Bowen

The author starts this instalment with an apology in advance; the book is set in Africa - Kenya - during the late 20's/early 30's, a time when race relations and the views of the British Empire (as were the rest of the world) were shameful.

 

This had me braced for difficult reading, but I have to say, that was not the disclaimer I needed.  In true cozy style, Bowen acknowledged the dichotomy and inequality between white and black without really verbalising it.  What caught me unawares (and shouldn't have; I can only wonder if the pre-apology diverted me), was the casual references to hunting big game.  Of course it was a thing back then, and of course I should have seen it coming.  

 

The other unexpected part of the story was the behaviour of the upper class in Kenya; a risqué path for a cozy, but done well by the author, and based on actual events and a real person: Lady Idina Sackville.  Bowen closes with a short bibliography of texts she used in an effort to write about the times accurately.

 

All in all, another enjoyable instalment in a long-running series that has remained fairly strong throughout, balancing cheeky naiveté and interesting murder plots.

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review 2020-05-13 12:26
Sure Shot by Sarina Bowen
Sure Shot - Sarina Bowen

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I just loved this book! I first read Sarina Bowen's work a little more than two years ago when I picked up Bountiful and I haven't looked back. I haven't quite read all of her work yet but I am working on it and I do get excited every time a new book hits the shelves. I still have a soft spot for Dave and Zara, the couple from Bountiful, though so this book was a big winner for me since it features Dave's sister, Bess. I loved getting to know Bess and Tank and I really enjoyed getting to check in on Dave and Zara. Once I picked up this book, I didn't want to put it down and ended up reading it cover to cover in less than a day.

Bess Beringer is turning 30 and is ready to make some changes in her life. She is a sports agent and has been very career-focused up to this point but now she is ready to work on her personal life. Mark Tankiewicz, or Tank, has been playing hockey for a long time but now everything seems to be falling apart. His wife has asked for a divorce and he has been traded to a new team. Nobody knows it but Bess and Mark had a short fling when they were both starting their careers nine years ago and now they find themselves single and living in the same city.

I loved Bess, Tank, and the entire collected cast of this story. Bess and Tank were both great characters and the chemistry that they shared was off the charts. I really liked the way that they were willing to take a chance with each other. All of the obstacles to their relationship made sense and I liked the way that they worked together to work past them. This book can easily be read as a stand-alone but readers of the series will enjoy seeing many of the characters from previous books stepping in to play a role in this one.

I would recommend this book to others. If you enjoy sports romance and you haven't read Sarina Bowen yet, what are you waiting for? This story put a big old smile on my face and I couldn't help but cheer these characters towards their happily ever after. I really appreciated the fact that we get to see how things work out for this pair in the epilogue that jumped forward a bit. I cannot wait to read more of Sarina Bowen's work.

I received a digital review copy of this book from the author/publicist.

Initial Thoughts
I am somewhere between 4 and 5 stars on this one but I am going to go with 5 for right now since I am leaning that way. I loved Bess and Tank. The first Sarina Bowen book that I was was Bountiful so I have a soft spot for Dave and Zara so I was thrilled to get to see so much of them in this book. Bess and Tank were perfect for each other and their chemistry was off the charts. It was really a lot of fun to watch their relationship develop throughout this book and I was happy that we got a chance to see how things work out for them.

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review 2020-05-11 07:05
Encore
Sure Shot - Sarina Bowen

This is book #4, in the Brooklyn series, & #7, in the Brooklyn Bruisers series.  This book can be read as a standalone novel.  For reader understanding, and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading these great series in order.

 

Bess is coming back to live in New York.  She had been here before for a brief time.  Where she met the sexiest man she had ever met.  Now, her plans are her focus.  To build hre business and keep her future on track.

 

Mark AKA "Tank" has come back to New York as well.  He has not planned the messes that keep him following him.  Newly single, he has to get used to a new team, and try not to feel like his reputation is falling apart.

 

This story was full of surprises.  I would read, turn the page, and be surprised again.  With an incredible series to keep up with, I was overjoyed this was a book that moved me deep down to my soul.  I loved the banter.  The friendships are sold, and the pace was nice and steady.  All around a solid and great read.  I give this a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

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