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text 2017-09-05 01:44
Second Sight (Arcane Society Series Book 1) by Amanda Quick $1.99
Second Sight - Amanda Quick

Venetia Milton’s memories of a romantic night with Gabriel Jones—an alchemist’s descendant—are shattered soon thereafter by news of his death. Adopting the guise of his respectable widow, she embarks on a new career as a fashionable photographer in London, where her unique ability to “see” beyond her subjects makes her photographs highly prized. 
 
But Venetia’s romantic whim causes unexpected trouble. For one thing, Mr. Jones is about to stride, living and breathing, back into her life. And someone he is tracking will go to any lengths, even murder, to possess an ancient, extraordinary secret that has been lost for centuries. Someone who believes that as the “wife” of Mr. Jones, Venetia is the key...

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review 2017-01-08 22:56
Books of 1916: Part One
Uneasy Money - P.G. Wodehouse
These Twain - Arnold Bennett
The Roll-Call - Arnold Bennett
Bird of Paradise (Dodo Press) - Ada Leverson
Tenterhooks - Ada Leverson
Love at Second Sight - Ada Leverson Love at Second Sight - Ada Leverson
Inclinations - Ronald Firbank
List of the Lost - Morrissey
Pride And Prejudice - Jane Austen
The Swimming-Pool Library - Diana Klein,Alan Hollinghurst

Books of 1916: Part One

 

2016 was a tough year in many ways, so may I introduce you to 1916? I think you’re going to love 1916.

 

I was struck by something I read in a (very nice) review of one of the books of 1916: —“because anything first published in 1916 that does not contain a word or thought about the First World War has got to be interesting.” Yes, you’d think so. But actually most of these novels make no mention of the war whatsoever. They tend to be historical, or escapist, or completely surreal.

 

You may notice that I’ve only reviewed about half as many books as I did last year for 1915. But last year I wasn’t done until March! So what you are losing in volume you are gaining in punctuality. Basically I began to feel this project was affecting my brain perhaps a little too much. My brother pointed out that I said in casual conversation, “I read that book in 1911.” I needed to dial it down just a bit.

 

Uneasy Money by PG Wodehouse

 

PG Wodehouse is always a delightful treat. I’m so happy there are more than fifty books still to come! I went by the US publication date in order to include this book, which some may consider cheating.

 

Lord Dawlish has a title but no money, so he is delighted when an eccentric millionaire leaves him all his money just because Lord Dawlish (aka Bill) gave him a few golf pointers once. But when Bill discovers that the eccentric millionaire has stiffed poor but deserving relatives, he sets out for Long Island to try to set things right. There is beekeeping, romance, people pretending to be other people, and lots of hilarity. The only sad part is something that happens to a monkey. In the end, everyone ends up engaged to the right person. On the final page we are at the train station in Islip, Long Island, which today is a gross and unappealing town, but apparently 100 years ago was a bucolic spot where the rich built mansions. If this book doesn’t make you smile, your soul is in mortal danger.

These Twain by Arnold Bennett

 

This is the third book in the Clayhanger series, and my favorite. In These Twain, the somewhat-starcrossed lovers from the first two books, Edwin and Hilda Clayhanger, embark on married life. They fight a lot. I read this book in the 1990s and haven’t re-read it, but what I remember most vividly are the descriptions of how angry they get at each other. Edwin Clayhanger thinks how he’d like to strangle Hilda, but then he goes for a walk and after a while he calms down, and when he comes home, he loves her again. At that time I was dating someone who made me really angry fairly often, and I thought These Twain was incredibly realistic. Bennett’s World-War-I-themed book (The Roll-Call) will come up in 1918, and is the last in the Clayhanger series.

 

Love at Second Sight by Ada Leverson

 

My hardcore fans (yes, both of you!) may remember that two years ago I was unable to review Birds of Paradise because I mislaid it and therefore couldn’t read it. (It turned up in the end, in a knapsack I never use.) I was eager to rectify my mistake by reading Ada Leverson’s 1916 offering, especially as this was her last novel.

 

Love at Second Sight is the last book in the Little Ottleys trilogy. Although I didn’t read the first two, it was easy to see what must have happened in them—in book one, the main character Edith must have married her husband, and then in the second one both Edith and her husband fall in love with other people but remain together thanks to Edith’s bloody-minded loyalty.

 

As this novel opens, Edith’s family has a guest in the house, and it’s unclear who she is, why she’s come to stay, and how long she plans to be there. But Madame Frabelle exercises a strange fascination over all of them. This book is terribly amusing and I’m not even going to tell you what happens, other than it’s a scream. The protagonist is thinking funny things about other people all the time but since she’s kind and fairly quiet, people don’t realize that she’s amusing and smart. The husband seems like the most annoying person on earth, and he must be drawn from life because how could you invent a person that annoying?

 

This is one of the rare books that has a contemporary setting during World War I. The husband was not called up because of a “neurotic heart,” which seems to be like PTSD. Edith’s love interest from the previous book returns home from the war, wounded. This novel’s realism allowed me to see all kinds of period details. For example, when the characters need to look up train timetables, they use things called the ABC and Bradshaw, which must be the apps they had on their phones at that time. Edith also had an Italian composer best friend who I thought might be based on Puccini since (according to Wikipedia) he and Ada Leverson were great pals.

 

I really was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen, and guess what? Everyone gets a happy ending!

 

Ada Leverson’s Wikipedia page says cattily that after this novel, she worked on ever-smaller projects. Just like me!

 

Inclinations by Ronald Firbank

 

Firbank is a riot! This book reminds me a bit of Morrissey’s List of the Lost. Of course, that should be no surprise really, since both of them are directly related to Oscar Wilde on the literary family tree. What sets them apart is Inclinations is unalloyed comedy and nearly all dialogue.

 

What kind of inclinations does this novel concern itself with, you may ask? Well, it’s about a middle-aged writer Miss Geraldine O’Brookmore, known as Gerald, who brings a fourteen year old girl (Miss Mabel Collins) on a trip to the Mediterranean. There’s basically no description of anything or explanation of what’s happening or who is speaking, so you have to be okay with feeling unsure about what’s going on. One of the characters is shot and killed and it was chapters later that I finally understood which one. Plot is not what this book is about. This book is about lines so funny and with such a nice ring to them that I will just give you a small sampling for your enjoyment:

 

Miss Collins clasped her hands. “I’d give almost anything to be blasé.”

***

“I don’t see Mrs Cowsend, do you?”

“Breakfast was laid for four covers in her room.”

“For four!”

“Or perhaps it was only three.”

***

“She writes curiously in the style of one of my unknown correspondents.”

***

[Talking about a costume ball]:

“Oh, Gerald, you could be a silver-tasselled Portia almost with what you have, and I a Maid of Orleans.”

“You!”

“Don’t be tiresome, darling. It’s not as if we were going in boys’ clothes!”

***

“Once she bought a little calf for some special binding, but let it grow up...and now it’s a cow!”

***

“Gerald has a gold revolver. ‘Honour” she calls it.”

***

“Is your father tall?”

“As we drive I shall give you all his measurements.”

***

“I had a good time in Smyrna,” she drowsily declared.

“Only there?”

“Oh, my dears, I’m weary of streets; so weary!”

***

“I’m told she [Gerald] is a noted Vampire.”

“Who ever said so?”

“Some friend of hers—in Chelsea.”

“What do Vampires do?”

“What don’t they!”

 

If you find this sort of off-putting, these lines really do make more sense, somewhat more sense, in context. In a chapter that is eight words long (“Mabel! Mabel! Mabel! Mabel! Mabel! Mabel! Mabel! Mabel!”), Miss Mabel Collins throws off the protectoress-ship of Gerald and elopes with a count. The final section of the book is different, slightly more conventional and somewhat Jane Austen-esque (“I’ve such news!” “What is it?” “The Chase is let at last.”) In this part, the Countess (Miss Collins-that-was) returns home to England with her toddler and there’s question in some minds about whether she is properly, legally married. I’m looking forward to Firbank’s next novel in 1917.

 

I’m only just now realizing that Firbank is the author that the main character keeps reading in The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst. I guess I thought Alan Hollinghurst just made him up. The thing is that his name sounds so made up, just “Fairbanks” with some of the letters taken out. Ugh, I learn everything backward.

 

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review 2016-09-24 08:07
Second Sight Box Set: A Psychic Romance Series by Hazel Hunter
Second Sight Box Set: A Psychic Romance Series - Hazel Hunter
Second Sight Boxed Set is the full collection of 6 books, regarding Isabelle and Mac. Isabelle is a psychic, whilst Mac is an FBI agent. These two are definitely a case of opposites attract. The 6 books cover two different crime situations - one is with a serial killer, and the other is a missing person. Now obviously, there is more to it than this, but those are the bare basics.
 
Whilst I am a fan of Hazel Hunter's work, this box set just didn't quite hit the mark for me. I actually enjoyed the crime/suspense part of it more than I did the relationship. That just didn't work for me as Isabelle and Mac didn't actually talk about anything, let alone try to deal with any problems. All they did was have sex... a LOT of sex. And all I will say is if I ever felt the way that they do during sex, I'd probably go see a doctor! I don't know. I know a lot of people will just say it was really hot, yada, yada, yada, but it didn't work for me. 
 
I also found a few loose ends that you would think would be tied up after six books. For example, Ben's insistence that Isabelle was bad for Mac and his career, and by opposition, Yolanda's insistence that it would all end badly for them. A big deal was made of this, but nothing actually came of it.
 
Although these books are very well-written, I did feel like something was missing. I'm not sure what. There are parts that I loved, and parts that I didn't. Take a chance and see for yourself, that's what I recommend.
 
* I received this book from the author in return for a fair and honest review. *
 
Merissa
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Source: archaeolibrarianologist.blogspot.de/2016/09/review-by-merissa-second-sight-box-set.html
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review 2016-06-09 13:00
Quick Thoughts: Second Sight
Second Sight - Amanda Quick

Second Sight

by Amanda Quick

Book 1 of Arcane Society

 

 

Financially straitened and on the path to spinsterhood, Venetia Milton thought her stay at the remote, ramshackle Arcane House would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engineer her own ravishment.  She was there to photograph the artifacts collected by a highly secretive organization, founded two centuries earlier by an alchemist.  And the alchemist's descendant--her employer--Gabriel Jones-has the eyes of a sorcerer.

But despite Venetia's intent to seduce Mr. Jones and move on, she is shattered upon her return home to read in the press of his violent demise.  Using the sizable fee Mr. Jones paid her, Venetia establishes a new life, opening a gallery in London.  Of course, posing as a respectable widow makes it easier to do business, so--in a private tribute to her lost, only lover--she assumes the identity of "Mrs. Jones."

Her romantic whim, however, will cause unexpected trouble.  For one thing, Mr. Jones is about to stride, living and breathing, back into Venetia's life.  And the two share more than a passionate memory--indeed, they are bonded by a highly unusual sort of vision, one that goes far beyond Venetia's abilities as a photographer.  They also share a terrible threat, for someone has stolen a centuries-old notebook from Arcane House that contains a formula believed to enhance psychic powers of the kind Gabriel and Venetia possess.  And the thief wants to know more; even if he must kill the keeper of the Arcane Society's treasures, or the photographer who catalogued them, to obtain such knowledge.



I sat on this review for a few days wondering what to say about Second Sight only to realize that I really could not think of anything else to say about it at all that would be useful in a review.  Because, unlike the other two Amanda Quick books I've already read, this one wasn't really all that memorable.  My only notion is that I enjoyed it while I was reading it and it captured my attention enough for me to breeze through the entire story--conflict, romance, and all.

I really did, immensely enjoy the book a lot, even in spite of all of the glaring flaws that I probably would have condemned many other books for.  The romance, I've found, is pretty predictable and formulaic with a specific Amanda Quick signature to it (yes, I know I've only read two other books by her, but the similarities are hard to ignore).  The criminal thriller portions are actually pretty good, and I DO like the paranormal aspects; however, a lot of it still doesn't make much sense, to be honest.  I like that the author has created her own historical, paranormal world... but I would like a little more insight into it.


While I get Venetia's paranormal ability to see auras (her second sight--titular reference alert!), I'm not entirely sure I understand what Gabriel's paranormal ability entails.

Anyway, at least the news articles are a pretty sensible touch.  (Is that Gilbert Otford the same one from Wait Until Midnight, I wonder?)

Another aspect I find likable are the characters.  I do believe that Amanda Quick has the ability to create very readily relatable and likable characters, whether they are just the housekeeper, the butler, the younger siblings, or an eccentric acquaintance who practices cross-dressing.  There are stories behind these people and I found myself wondering if those stories will come into the forefront with later books, or other books outside of the series.

And I DID like Venetia and Gabriel, even if their romance was a bit lukewarm.  They make a pretty good investigating team, though--something that seems to carry through all the Amanda Quick (or Jayne Castle) books I've read so far.  That's definitely a plus.  I just find that the romances in the Amanda Quick historicals don't carry as much chemistry as the futuristic Jayne Castle books... which is strange seeing as how the books are essentially written by the same author, even if she adopts a different pseudonym (and maybe a different persona?).

Is this a historical romance thing?  Maybe I'm just not as familiar with historicals since I've only recently wandered into the genre.


Some Final Thoughts:
Mainly, I'm finding Amanda Quick's books highly addictive (although, to be honest, I'm really finding her futuristic stories of the Harmony series, written as Jayne Castle, even more entertaining and addictive).  And so this is one author I will definitely continue to follow.

One of the main reasons I am interested in the Arcane Society series, though, is I'm very curious to find out how Jayne Ann Krentz manages to juggle the series between a historical setting and a contemporary setting, and how she will be able to connect them as each book progresses.  I'm also extra curious to see how she manages to later incorporate the futuristic Harmony series as a crossover into Arcane Society.

So I hope that the books continue to be mysteriously addictive and enjoyable.  What I've read of Jayne Ann Krentz so far, whether as Amanda Quick or Jayne Castle, I'm finding fun, easy, and entertaining.  Certain aspects of her books (story, progression, world building) are kind of shaky, but they are written well and I like them.

And in the end, as I dare to repeat words I've used time and time again, that is all that really matters to me--that I like what I've read and I had fun reading it.


***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/06/quick-thoughts-second-sight.html
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review 2015-02-18 00:27
Second Nature (Blood At First Sight Book 1) - Marie Lavender

Initially I found this story somewhat disconcerting. It started out with the heroine being stalked by the hero because he found the scent of her blood appealing. Eventually, he makes a move on her and this led to them having a sexual encounter. It may appear that the heroine was raped, but it depends on how you as the reader interprets this particular encounter. He then proceeded to kidnap her to protect his identity because he had difficulty erasing her memories. However, has the story progressed, I was able to move past my initial reaction and found that this was indeed a cute romantic story with paranormal elements.

 

In Second Nature we meet Alec Sullivan, which I guess you figured by now is a vampire. He has been a vampire for a 170 odd years and during this time he has amassed quite a considerable amount of wealth. Alec experienced true love, however, he lost that love tragically and was not inclined to get closely involved with anyone again especially in light of his condition. This changed, however, the night he found himself being drawn to Desiree.

 

Desiree experienced pain and heartbreak when she found out that her husband has been cheating on her. She tried moving on with her life, but family events made her a bit melancholy. She felt that something is missing from her life, but she could not figure out what it was, that was until Alec stormed into her life.

 

Although their initial meeting was a bit on the creepy side, it was evident that they were good for each other. Desiree made him realise that he is not a monster, but a man who is capable of love. She reawakened his human side. He on the other helped her realise that she s worthy of love and that her ex-husband was not appreciative of her. His appearance in her life helped her to discover some shocking things about herself.

 

This is an engaging read that plays on the reader’s emotions. The romance is sweet and adorable and one cannot help liking the characters. Overall, I enjoyed this story and cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

 

DISCLOSURE: Complimentary copy received in exchange for an honest review.

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