Tag Archives: Regency

Free Kindle Books and Maddening Menfolk: My 1 Star Reads from 2018, Part 2

Doctor in Petticoats by Mary Connealy

A penny to anyone who can tell me what this book was doing on my to-read list. Big mistake. First, I don’t read Christian romance novels generally, so it already lost a star in my book. But then, second, it was terrible. A solider-doctor with PTSD ends up falling in love with a woman and refusing to do any doctoring without her so the woman’s parents are like “We can’t chaperone so just get hitched to this maniacal man you just met!” And it all works out because Jesus and the power of a beautiful woman to cure PTSD. Gag.

Belinda Goes to Bath by Marion Chesney

I toyed with Marion Chesney on and off this past semester and generally tolerated what I found. She writes Regency novels, usually crappy ones, but with strong heroines at the center that almost make up for the sucky romances going on around the main characters. But this book went too far. Basically, this story falls in a series about a “Traveling Matchmaker” who rides around England in a stagecoach, has adventures, and sets up the young people around her. Except the young woman in this book should not have ended up with the…the man (I can’t call him a gentleman or hero) who was an absolute creep. Every good sense should have opposed such a couple. I am still furious about it.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner        

This book was supposed to be a sci-fi novel about two young adults stranded on an abandoned planet. Except it isn’t really a sci-fi novel. It is a freakin’ romance novel that happens to take place on a ‘deserted’ planet in space. And I feel robbed by that fact. There is so much possibility in this story. Or there could be possibility. I mean…it is basically The Titanic meets Cast Away or something, but you know, space! Rich heiress with Daddy issues! Soldier boy with…muscles! Insta-attraction! No wait, enemies to lovers! No wait, mentally unstable and horny teenagers having sex in a cave! It just got worse as the book went on. The ending feels rushed, the conclusion ridiculous, and the danger…just never believable. What a waste of time.

Stone Devil Duke by K.J. Jackson

My only excuse for reading this book is that the cover had a pretty dress and it was free on Kindle. The plot follows a girl who disguises herself as a boy and prowls the slums of London trying to kill the men who killed her father (or something like that) before they kill her. She is joined by this pompous jerk (the supposed hero) who tries to protect her from it all. It started off smoothly enough but the angst, general brutality, and, frankly, vulgarity of the rest of it should have been enough warning to stop. I regret that I didn’t.

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston

Loved the title and absolutely nothing else about this book. Sloppy world building, goody-two-shoes-freaking-perfect characters, and seriously contrived romance made this one utterly boring read. Many reviewers sing this book’s praises because of the multicultural, Utopian world it supposedly presents. The reality is, this world without inequality, racism, ‘homophobia’, etc. is utterly boring and entirely unbelievable. There is 0 conflict, except maybe some drama about the “nepotism” of parents who want to pass on the family business (the nerve!) Also, the romance was so, so horrid, but I am not going to get into it here. Just…avoid.  


2018 Reading Challenge: My 5 Star Reviews, Part 1

I read 255 books in 2018! Here are some of the best:

Confessions by Saint Augustine

Augustine of Hippo is one of the great church fathers of the Christian faith. Confessions is his memoir, testimony, and prayer to God. It is beautiful and difficult. I should have read it long ago. But honestly, even at 25 I felt intimidated and pretentious picking up a book by a church father. Imagine 15-year-old me doing it. But 15-year-olds should read this book. And 25-year-olds. And 85-year-olds. Augustine is not as scary as he sounds. Confessions is an incredibly readable and beautiful book. It is a love letter to God. I found it challenging and profound; I will definitely be coming back. This is one of those books that calls for multiple re-reads.

The Ugly Duckling by A.A. Milne

To read the synopsis is to know the entire plot of this one-act play: a king and queen want to get their ugly daughter married, so they have her beautiful serving maid take her place when a prince comes calling. Little do they guess the prince decides to try the same ruse! Though short, this is a very sweet story and an immediate favorite. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye (a favorite children’s book of mine) does a fun job retelling it. Very good for a quick read.

Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth by James Cross Giblin

With a title like “Good Brother, Bad Brother” I expected a picture book aimed at children. Then, when the book arrived, I realized it was 244 pages and not aimed at children at all. This is a full-fledge biography! I went through a phase in high school where I was all things obsessed with the Lincoln assassination and this book landed on my to-read list courtesy of that obsession. My memory has dimmed somewhat as to the actual assassination but this book’s focus on Edwin Booth filled in many fascinating details I’d either forgotten or never knew. Edwin was himself a remarkable man forced to forever live in the shadow of his infamous brother. This biography does an excellent job showing Edwin in a positive light (his acting, overcoming alcoholism, love for his daughter) while also not shying away from his flaws (failed theater, failed marriage, etc.) I definitely recommend this one as a fascinating look at John Wilkes Booth’s brother and as the biography of a remarkable actor basically forgotten by history.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, JR. by Clayborne Carson

A fascinating book and great audio with snip-its from Martin Luther King Jr.’s actual speeches. I especially liked what it had to say about organizing. It contains good tips, such as: pick a target, don’t protest generally. (Very Saul Alinsky.) Like most people, I assume, I am most familiar with MLK’s work in the South and was fascinated to learn about his efforts in Chicago. His methods and goals seem to have shifted at that point and perhaps not been as effective. It left me wanting to learn more.

Mr. Malcolm’s List by Suzanne Allain

So, you read Jane Austen. And she’s great! Classic, even. But possibly not an author you want to curl up with on a rainy afternoon. Then you discover Georgette Heyer. She is romantic and clean and everything you were looking for. However, eventually you run out of Heyer and you can only re-read those books so many times. (Trust me, I know.) Where do you turn next? I recommend Suzanne Allain. From a technical standpoint, Mr. Malcolm’s List isn’t a perfect book by a long shot. It plays fast and loose with historical detail (all that first-name calling!) and comfortably relies on some scandalous behavior. But It. Is. So. Fun! And best of all, it fills that Regency craving without causing you to blush. I found it unexpectedly funny and sweet. While reading it, I often flipped back to re-read scenes just for the pleasure of it. Quite a delightful book.

Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff

Speaking of funny…Stuff Christians Like caused me to laugh so hard that people kept staring at me on the bus. I seriously could not keep it in. The book gently satirizes many parts of Christian culture we take for granted. Though the book is starting to feel ever so slightly dated, I was continually delighted by how dead-on accurate it was. It also ends on a more serious note, combining humor and grace in a way that leaves the book more than just another funny read. It has depth. Mostly, though, I recommend it for a good laugh!


2018 Reading Stats

My 2018 Reading Stats

255 books across 75,094 pages. Of the 255, 39 were re-reads. A disconcerting number were set in the regency era. (That kind of defined my reading this year. At this rate, I could get into a time machine to 1815 and probably survive quite nicely.)

Average rating: 3.4 stars

Average Book Length: 294 pages

Achievements: I got my to-read list under 900. For like, a day there. Currently at 901.

My Favorite Book This Year: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Read my Mind Blown post tomorrow for why!

Most disappointing book: Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

Since this book received 2 stars, it does not come up again in my posts, so here is the brief version: YA novel with a K pop star love interest? Um, yes. Sign me up! But unfortunately, it was terrible. The end.

Best Re-Read: The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

This was such a hard category. I re-read several books this year that pleasantly surprised me or delighted me as old favorites. However, in the end, this one wins because it wasn’t actually an old favorite. I originally gave it 4 stars but kind of forgot about it. This time through, though, I loved it and won’t soon forget it. I ran through the gamut of emotions reading it. Jaclyn Moriarty really is a fantastic author. Her strength lies in her unique way of telling a story – in this case, through letters between pen pals at two different high schools. Warning: some language.

Best Author: Georgette Heyer

Hands down. She ties with C.S. Lewis for my Favorite Author of All Time, but I did not re-read any Lewis this year. Just Heyer. All the Heyer. (Actually, only 19 Heyer. But still. I re-read 19 of her books this year.)  

Best middle school read: All Rise For the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor

You’ll find a full review somewhere in my 5 Star reads posts.

Longest Read: Process of Constitutional Decisionmaking: Cases and Materials by Paul Brest at 1,856 pages

A decent textbook but heavy on history over caselaw.

Shortest Read: Thief! by Megan Whalen Turner at 8 pages

But since it was Megan Whalen Turner, those were probably the best 8 pages I read this year. If you haven’t read her Queen’s Thief series yet…go and do.


Regency Rejects and Nothing Non-Fiction: My 1 Star Reads from 2017

My least favorite reads from 2017: 

A Civil Action by Johnathan Harr

After a semester spent discussing civil procedure, I understand why my professor assigned us this one to read. It served a purpose. My classmates almost universally loved this book; I hated it. It was over-wordy, extremely biased, and sloppy with details. For most of the book, I was ready to give it two stars and call it “excessively dull,” but the last hundred pages were too egregious to ignore. I wouldn’t accept this kind of bathos in my fiction; I fail to see why I should tolerate it in my non-fiction. 

The Ishbane Conspiracy by Randy Alcorn

Reading this book was a lot like tying a millstone around my neck and jumping into the ocean: dangerous, painful, and a waste of time. The message that comes across is  that if you avoid dating, prom dresses with a slit, and Harry Potter, you’re a good Christian who won’t let sin in. Besides carrying a dubious moral message, the book itself is awful. The writing is heavy-handed and over the top. The characters are one dimensional and boring. The climax is out of nowhere and completely dramatic. Not worth it!

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Somewhat interesting plot idea…less than thrilling results. The writing was poor and the characters annoying. The plot never really went anywhere. The villains were super predictable. The relationship between the main characters was unhealthy and concerning, full of unhealthy emotional dependence. The menfolk have no personality. Not interesting or worth the time. 

A Jury of Her Peers by Jean Hanff Korelitz

This might win Most Disappointing Read of 2017. You know what is sexy? Lawyers flirting over their ACLU cards, said no one ever. Except possibly this author. A boring legal thriller that shoots itself in the foot by creating a self-righteous, dull heroine; an annoying romance; and a story line that revolves around a giant, government conspiracy. 

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into A Bar…: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart

This is a very brief look at different philosophies. If you took a basic philosophy course, this will be old hat. I’d give it two stars for the philosophy portion and negative two for the jokes. This book was completely un-funny. The jokes are either old and well-worn or so vulgar I almost didn’t finish. 

In The Woods by Tana French

A dark mystery about missing children and murder. Unfortunately, also a story full of angst, angst, and more angst! Though it began promisingly, the book drags on and slowly kills all the things I liked about the beginning. Relationships are ruined for stupid reasons. The main character was a bore. A boring, angsty read! 

Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

 Yet another promising YA novel ruined by raging hormones. I liked that the heroine takes things in stride. She discovers she can see fairies and doesn’t wuss out. However, she mainly accomplishes this by obsessing over her love interest instead of worrying about imminent death. The writing and plot are sloppy, definitely can tell this book was an early work for Stiefvater.

A Marriage of Inconvenience by Marion Chesney

I. Hate. This. Book. So. Much. Definitely the worst read of 2017. A Regency romance about a woman who hates men and a solider forced to become her fiance. I hate this book for its awful, inaccurate use of regency slang, weird Freudian philosophy, and terrible conclusion. Just…bleh!! 

The Forrester Inheritance: A Regency Entertainment by Daisy Vivian

Miss Mariana Porter stands to inherit a great deal of money – provided she marry one of her cousins. Obviously that cousin will be the one she takes in immediate aversion for absolutely no reason. One of those one-star reads that left me feeling more amused than infuriated. The characters are one dimensional and lack basic personality. 

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

A leadership book about…leadership? The internet? Something? Vague, repetitive, and cocky without the substance to back it up. Not bad ideas necessarily but the book alienated me.

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

“A female Sherlock Holmes”…except not.  This book is full of weird, switching POVs and a mystery that takes backseat to a confusing insta-romance. The book is super poorly paced. Action scenes are glazed over and character “change” comes out of nowhere. Half of the book was unnecessary and the other half didn’t fit anywhere. It lacked transition entirely. There are weird footnotes that don’t fit with the story. By the end of the book, I sort of forgot what the point of the mystery was in the first place and I am still confused about the motivation of the killer and his minions. I loved the title of this book and nothing else.

 


An Incomplete Review of Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer

I’ve been re-reading Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer over the past few days. This is my 3rd or 4th time reading the book and I am utterly charmed by it. However, I guess that wasn’t always the case. In fact, perusing my first review of it, I apparently found it dramatic, “thespian” (not really sure what I meant by that), and hardly deserving 4 stars. Now I read it and wonder why I didn’t give it 5. 

I am a little over half way through but I just felt the need to pause and admire the characters and setting of this book. Judith Taverner, the heroine, is absolutely wonderful. Georgete Heyer has a tendency to group her heroines into one of two categories – young and naive, or slightly order and more mature. In that sense, Judith is similar to Sophy and Frederica, two of my favorite characters, not only from Heyer’s works, but possibly in all literature. What sets Judith apart in a way I never fully appreciated, however, is the way she embraces being a darling of society. Not only does she take snuff, she has her own mix. She doesn’t just drive in the park, she drives her own high seated phaeton. She goes from a nobody to best buds with Beau Brummell himself. In short, Judith uses her position to become eccentric. It is hilarious and wonderful and I absolutely love every moment with her.

There are also a host of other brilliant side characters tucked into this book that I had forgotten about. I’ll keep this post short and just share one…Lady Albinia. 

“She was a short sighted, vague woman of no particular beauty, and a total disregard for prevailing fashion. A Paisley shawl, which she wore to protect her from the draughts, was continually slipping from her shoulders and becoming entangled in the furniture…She seemed incapable of helping herself and when she dropped her fan or her handkerchief, as she frequently did, merely waited for someone to pick it up for her, breaking off in the middle of whatever she was saying, and resuming again the instant her property was restored to her. She had a habit of uttering her thoughts aloud, which was disconcerting to those not much acquainted with her, but which no one who knew her paid the least attention to.”

This character barely gets any more attention after that wonderful paragraph, but there is one scene where Judith and Lord Worth walk in on her hosting some neighbors…

Lady Albinia, who in making the necessary introductions turned to the Earl and said: “You see the Fox-Matthews are come to call on us, my dear Worth. So obliging of them! They have been sitting with us more than half an hour. I do not believe they will ever go.”

Maybe you need to read the book to fully appreciate the scene…but it made me chuckle. I will have to provide a more complete review once I have finally finished the book. It is so good, though! How could I ever have been disappointed in it? 


Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey

Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey is a charming, new, Young Adult novel set in the Regency period and written in the spirit of Georgette Heyer. I’ve been excited to read it ever since I found out it was being published. Regency? Mystery? Georgette Heyer? Check, check, check! A couple positive reviews and this book easily went up on my to-read list. 

While it wasn’t amazing, this book definitely didn’t disappoint. Love, Lies, and Spies contains the usual tropes of the genre (such as a heroine uninterested in marriage) and as many outrageous, dramatic scenes and kidnappings as could possibly fit in one novel. However, it does so almost tongue and cheek and it is hard not to enjoy intrigue and humor of the improbable situations. 

I enjoyed the characters and, for the most part, the main couple’s romance (even if it got a little sappy and definitely was aimed at female readers.) I like that the heroine was gutsy and smart. The hero was charming. Everything was kept clean and there is no language that I can think of. 

I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. I would definitely re-read it but its main audience is clearly teenage girls. Fluffy but fun