Author Archives: Anna

Romancing the Duke, Confessions of a Viscount, and the Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever

Here are some quick reviews of some romance novels that are discounted on the Kindle! The majority of my reading is now bargain-priced romance novels, I find it very restful after looking doing more technical stuff at work.

Romancing the Duke: Castles Ever After by Tessa Dare

Tessa Dare is one of those authors whose books I expect to be delightful and I am never disappointed. Romancing the Duke is extra charming, with plenty of warm humor and character development. Isolde Ophelia Goodnight is orphaned at a young age and not provided for by her feckless author father who is famous for his well-known fairytale series. Seizing a last chance at independence when she arrives at Gostley Castle to claim an inheritance from an Earl who seems to be leaving castles to all his goddaughters (instant series!). As she arrives at the castle, Izyy faces some satiric gothic horrors out of Northanger Abbey. She makes the unfortunate discovery that the castle is actually still inhabited by Ransom, the Duke of Rothbury.

If you really like the ending part of Jane Eyre, than this book is for you, because as Izzy and Ransom get to know each other, there’s a similar dynamic here. It takes a little while for Izzy to realize that Ransom is blind, wounded by a duel gone wrong. Ransom is understandably hostile yet involuntary attracted to this young woman who shows up and announces that she now owns his house. Izzy is a fun heroine, a bit insecure about her appearance and saddled with a healthy dose of Christopher Robin syndrome because the fans of her father’s works expect her to be like the precious little girl that appears in his books. The fans call themselves Moranglians after the imaginary land where her father’s stories took place, and the roam about the countryside LARPing. This was one of most amusing romance novels I’ve read in a long time, and I’m going to snap up the next book in the series, Say Yes to the Marquess when it comes out in December.

The Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

Julia Quinn is always a reliable romance author, and she has excellent taste in coffee mugs. The Bridgerton series is one of the better sprawling romance series featuring a family that I’ve read, and it was a bit of a coincidence that I read this book featuring a psychologically damaged hero shortly after reading Romancing the Duke. Of course there are many many romance novels featuring psychologically damaged heroes, so maybe the odds were pretty good that I’d be reading similar scenarios one after the other. This is the first book in the Bevelstoke series.

Miranda has been in love with her best friend Olivia’s older brother Turner since she was a little girl. Miranda is basically brought up by Olivia’s family, as her own father is a neglectful scholar, and her headstrong friend Olivia needs a moderating influence. While some might view Miranda as a bit of a wallflower, she’s very aware of her own position in Olivia’s household and isn’t shy with expressing her opinions. Turner’s horrible wife has just died, and he and Miranda meet again at the funeral, when Turner expresses very unfuneral feelings at his wife’s grave. Turner and Miranda become reacquainted for the first time since she was 10, and he finds himself suddenly intrigued by a grown up Miranda, yet tortured at the same time because he has no desire to enter into a relationship again. Some of the plot elements in this book were a bit predictable, particularly the events that led up to the happy ending. Still, this is well worth trying if you’ve read the Bridgertons and the Two Dukes of Wyndham series and want to read more Julia Quinn. There are many witty moments, and all the characters are richly developed. I’m assuming that the next book in the series focuses on the headstrong and less than tactful Olivia, and I’m curious to read what happens to her.

Confessions of a Viscount by Shirley Karr

This book’s cover doesn’t match up very well with the contents, because the cover looks like a typical old school bodice ripper and the book actually features a LADY SPY. I absolutely adore lady spies in historical romance books. I am also a fairly uncritical consumer of lady spy romances, but this one is very good. The Viscount in the title is Alistair Moncreiffe, who is an astronomer. He makes decisions about which parties to attend purely due to whose house has a good roof for astronomical observation. The spy in question is Charlotte Parnell, who has been trained to spy by her brother. Spying was an ok occupation for a lady when the siblings were not in England, but now that they are back Charlotte’s brother wants her to give up her life of adventure for a respectable marriage.

Alistair and Charlotte meet when she uses him for cover when she’s tailing someone, sidling up to him and taking his arm and talking to him as if they’ve known each other for years. He plays along and tries to catch her name, but she manages to disappear when his attention is diverted. They meet at a party later, and Charlotte proposes a fake engagement. Later, Alastair manages to rescue Charlotte when she finds herself unexpectedly dangling off the side of a building. The couple agree to enter into a fake engagement in order to stave off Alastair’s relatives who want him married off and give Charlotte time to complete her spy mission in secret while making her brother think that she’s retired from her previous life of intrigue. The developing relationship between Alastair and Charlotte kept my interest throughout the book, because I appreciated the contrast between Alastair’s more scientific mind and Charlotte’s intelligent sneakiness. For only .99 cents right now, this is well worth picking up.

Books Read in August

For my YA Book Club meeting later this month I read:

The Song of the Lioness Quartet (rereads)
and Defy by Sara Larson

We picked these books due to the plot similarity because both involve heroines masquerading as knights and falling in love with princes.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – I enjoyed this, as I’ve enjoyed Rowell’s other books.
Talk Sweetly To Me – by Courtney Milan – any new Milan is an automatic buy for me.

Currently I’m rereading in a slightly skimming sort of way A Discovery of Witches – I started the third book in the series and realized that I’d forgotten what happened in the earlier books.

For last month’s book club we accidentally picked Code of Silence, which is a Christian YA book. It was honestly pretty horrible, as the central messages of the book that were repeated over and over again were “don’t lie” and “trust the police”. To which I say, bleh.

What I read in July

I have been a MEGA slacker with this blog, but I still manage to post semi-regularly on Manga Report and contribute to some of the weekly features on Manga Bookshelf. Anyway, I hope to post a bit more here, even if it is a bit dusty. Maybe I will cover a bit of knitting progress, books I’ve been reading, and one of these days I want to finish out my posts on Amethyst Princess of Gemworld by outlining some of the references to her in Legion of Super-Heroes.

Along with lapsing in blogging, I stopped updating goodreads very often, so I lost my reliable metrics about what I’ve been reading. I’ve been trying to do a much better job though, so this is what I was reading in July. I actually had a vacation in July so I was able to breeze through many many books.

Rereads – Vast portions of the Dark Hunter Series. I bought this bundle when it was on sale for the low low price of $20:

I started wading through this in June, then my interest petered out in July after finishing Acheron.

I read books 1-6 of the Charley Davidson (haha) series:

This was a good, clever paranormal series, even if some of the mysteries explored in the books end up a bit obvious. Great and engaging cast of characters.

Historical Romances:

I read a couple of Eloisa James’ fairy tale series, The Ugly Duchess and The Duke is Mine. James is really up there with Loretta Chase and Courtney Milan as my favorite romance authors. These books were witty, with memorable characters. It is always interesting to see how James interprets the fairy tale inspiration of the plots, set in a non-magical historical setting.

I read the Suffragette Scandal, by Courtney Milan, a book that should be celebrated for many reasons, not the least is the phrase “puppy cannon”. I also read Proof By Seduction and Trial by Desire.

I also read the Lion’s Lady by Julie Garwood, Scotsmen Prefer Blonds by Sara Ramsey and a couple linked books by Lorraine Heath, In Bed by the Devil and Between the Devil and Desire. The Heath books were a bit different from the typical historical romance, since they were a bit inspired by Dickens’ Artful Dodger and his band of thieves.

For contemporary romance, I read Sarah Morgan’s Sleigh Bells in the Snow, which is really a great example of a contemporary Harlequin done well.

I also read Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire, which I had to force myself to finish. It was clever, but it was clever in exactly the same way to a degree that reading it became a bit grating. Also, the heroine interrupted the main flow of the story so many times to digress about thinks like her Great Aunt Myrtle’s adventures in dragon hunting, I realized the book was 85% asides and 15% actual plot and character development.

YA

My book group was reading Paul Zindel, so I read the classic The Pigman. It is very odd but nice going back and reading books that I had practically memorized when I was 14 years old (oh so very long ago)

That’s what I finished reading!

On the horizon for August:

Book club book Code of Silence
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Book of Live by Deborah Harkness

Recent Reading for January, February, and March

I’ve been less rigorous about tracking my reading. I used to be really good about logging everything in GoodReads, but I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t even managed to do that! But I want to have a record somewhere, so here are some of the things I’ve been reading for the past few months.

For whatever reason in addition to my usual diet of manga, I read VERY LONG Books.

Lies of Locke Lamora – amusing fantasy novel about a gang of con artists. Would appeal to people that like the Vlad Taltos series by Brust. Great worldbuilding, but sometimes gets bogged down a bit with the descriptions.
The Twelve by Justin Cronin – This is one of those series that is so much better than the plot makes it sound! I love the shifting points of view and the way the narrative all comes together between characters scattered across a post apocalyptic America.

Romance Novels

I’m forgetting some of what I read here, but I did finish up:

It Happened One Midnight by Julie Ann Long
Heiress Without a Cause by Sara Ramsey
Heart of Iron and Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster


Young Adult Books

I’ve been on a big YA reread binge recently. The Vampire Academy sale on the Kindle happened to match up with a work trip I was taking, so I reread the entire series. They are the perfect airplane books, easy to read but engrossing enough that I almost forgot that I was crammed on a plane for untold hours.

I reread the first two books of Divergent, and read the final book Allegiant. I enjoyed the first book if I didn’t think about it too hard, but as the series develops there’s just so much that makes no logical sense, and I found myself getting really sick of the characters to the point where I was delighted when they started to die off. I actually think these books might be better served by the movie adaptations, because at least then the audience would be spared the whiny self-indulgent first person narration that I found so annoying in the last book of the trilogy. Also the charisma of the actors might cause the audience to not thing so very hard about the abundant plot holes.

I also read Eleanor and Park and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, both of which were excellent!

Hideous Love: The Story of hte Girl who Wrote Frankenstein was my YA book club pick for the month, and it was an interesting blend of fictionalized biography and blank verse.

Graphic Novels

There was a Johnathan Hickman sale on Comixology! I finally picked up some of his work on Fantastic Four and really enjoyed the first couple volumes. Hickman really did an effective job of balancing the cosmic themes and family problems that I’d expect to see in a FF title. I plan on picking up more of these collections soon.

I also did a fair amount of Captain America rereading in preparation for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Yes, I have been knitting

Here are a couple ways to get codes for free ravelry pattern downloads from a couple knitwear designers, by signing up for their newsletters in January!

Lucy Hague

Janukke

I got yarn for Christmas!

Some Madelinetosh Merino Light:

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And some Brooklyn Tweed Shelter:

Thistle

Thistle

I’m working on a secret project for my Stitch N Bitch group’s anniversary party. We all knit something and swap projects! I’ve gotten an awesome cowl and some great slippers in previous swaps.

My kids both requested scarves, so I’m working on finishing up one. Just a very simple striped scarf. I have a bit more to do with this, then one more to go!

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