Monday, January 28, 2013

Espionage in Regency England

I am so far behind on reading, writing......just everything - I know, it's not a promising start to 2013! Life, it's just hectic! LOL!

I have managed to read a few novels this month, nothing like I had planned, of course! Two involved espionage in romantic Regency England.

Book #1  - London Calling by Anna Elliot - book 2 of the Susanna and the Spy series.

I really enjoyed this little regency spy treat. It's light and entertaining with enough espionage to keep it fun. Elliot manages to keep me on the edge of my seat with sweaty palms and heart racing. Mainly, I just love Susanna and her beau, James. This is not an ex-rated novel by any means - it's sweet and I felt content and happy when I was done reading! I hope Anna Elliot continues writing about Susanna because I just love her.

Amazon's Book Description:

Romance and treason in Regency London

It is the autumn of 1809, and Susanna Ward's life is more perfect than she could ever have dared hope. She is reconciled with her estranged family and engaged to the man she loves, Lord James Ravenwood. But across the English Channel, Britain's war with the Emperor Napoleon still rages. And when a chance letter arrives from London, Susanna learns that James has secretly allowed himself to be drawn into the shadowy world of espionage and intrigue. To be with James, Susanna travels to London--and is soon caught up in a dangerous operation to uncover a ring of French spies and a traitor within the British War Office.

Susanna will risk her life to protect both her country and the man she loves. And yet as she sees James torn between love for her and duty to King and country, she realizes that the greatest danger may be to her own heart.

Set against the glittering backdrop of a Regency London Season, London Calling is a cozy mystery, appropriate for all ages. It is approximately 61,000 words or 244 pages in length.

Although London Calling can be read alone, the story builds on the events of Susanna and the Spy

London Calling - $3.99 for Kindle on Amazon
Susanna and the Spy - free on Kindle

Book #2 - A Lady by Chance by Cheryl Bolen

Pretty good regency romance with a hearty splash of espionage. Anna and Charles, the Marquis of Haverstock are excellent characters. Just a few chapters into the book I did pose the question to myself, would I marry for revenge? I doubt it! Could I marry for status? Most likely not. So.....the heroine and hero marry, quickly and within moments of meeting each other or knowing each other. Driven by love of country, revenge, status, illegitimacy and I believe love at first sight (but I'm a romantic).

This was no cozy romance , there was a lot more then a few kisses in this novel. All the characters were well developed and likable even when they were at their worst. It could have gone either way with the wide assortment of supporting characters but I was pleased with Bolen's story overall. I find that romance can easily become nothing more then characters cheating, making each other jealous or having nasty irritating family members that make me turn each page with dread or skip to the end so I can be done with it. I didn't find it so with this particular Bolen novel. I haven't read a lot of Bolen but if in the future a storyline catches my eye I would definitely give it a go. This regency is only $.99 for Kindle on Amazon.

 Amazon's Book Description:

Manipulated into a marriage of convenience to prove their patriotism, Anna and Charles, the Marquess of Haverstock, question each other's loyalties. But there's no question that Anna's silken touch has bewitched the powerful lord who has become her husband, and no question that she craves every moment in his arms.

I'm not so sure about this description, it's a little lame and doesn't really give the essence of what the story is about.

Cheryl Bolen's Website - Link to A Lady By Chance

The above link will take you right to A Lady By Chance on Cheryl Bolen's website. It gives a better glimpse as to what the book is about, links to purchasing on Smashwords and Barnes and Noble and a neat look at the original paperback cover - very 80's look even though it was first published in 2000.

I just love the word espionage. I think of Jason Bourne and James Bond, illicit love affairs, vodka martinis, little intrigues that take secret agents all over the world, gambling, unlimited money, murder and mayhem - it sounds lonely too! It's nice to enjoy a read of that type but I love a dashing spy, sassy heroine and romance set in the regency period.

Being a history lover I can't close without sharing one of my favorite quotes from Pride & Prejudice to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the novel's 1st publication of January 28, 1813.

“I am the happiest creature in the world. Perhaps other people have said so before, but not one with such justice. I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh. Mr. Darcy sends you all the love in the world that he can spare from me.”  Elizabeth Darcy

"Mischief Managed" ~ Kelly

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

News Flash - Anya Wylde's Latest

Anya Wylde's 2nd book is now out!!! I'm so excited, I can't wait to begin reading.

Penelope is available at Amazon for Kindle or Smashwords, which has a number of ebook format options available.

Smashwords Link to Anya Wylde

Amazon's Book Description:

Leaving behind the rural charms of Finnshire, Miss Penelope Fairweather arrives in London with hope in her heart and a dream in her eye. The dowager, no less, has invited her for a season in London, where she will attempt to catch a husband.

Thus begins our heroine's tale as she attempts to tackle the London season with all her rustic finesse. Unfortunately, her rustic finesse turns out to be as delicate as a fat bear trying to rip apart a honeycomb infested with buzzing bees.

What follows is a series of misadventures, love affairs, moonlit balls, fancy clothes, fake moustaches, highwaymen, sneering beauties, pickpockets, and the wrath of a devilishly handsome duke.

And speaking of fake moustaches - my mother and I laughed hysterically while shopping for Christmas presents when we found these laugh out loud fun  moustache glasses:                                                                  

 Anya's first book, The Wicked Wager,  was my favorite Regency Romance of 2012 and Anya Wylde was my favorite new author of 2012. She is super talented and you really must rush over to amazon or smashwords and grab her new book! (get Wicked Wager too if you haven't already read it). I'm also excited that this book will cover 2 of my reading challenges - Anya is an Irish Author and this is a Regency Romance! YEAH ME!

I also learned today something I never thought to hear. Dan Brown is publishing another Robert Langdon novel and it's coming out this year.....May 14, 2013.

In his international blockbusters The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown masterfully fused history, art, codes, and symbols. In this riveting new thriller, Brown returns to his element and has crafted his highest-stakes novel to date.

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.
"Mischief Managed" ~ Kelly

Sunday, January 20, 2013

2013 Reading Challenges

The new year is always a time for hope and anticipation of change. However, I've had a rough start to 2013 but I'm ignoring it in favor of reading and.........reading challenges.

Last year was the 1st time I participated in a reading challenge - the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge to be exact. I had pledged to read 40 books and completed 74. Yea me!

Now that I have a blog dedicated to what I do best - reading, I've discovered all sorts of fascinating reading challenges for the coming year and I'm ecstatic at the prospect of joining every single one of them! LOL! Not a smart idea since I work full time, am a single mom of 2 teenagers and really enjoy reading and blogging but there are a few that have really caught my attention.

Obviously the first challenge I'll be participating in is the Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge. Since I read 74 books last year, I am challenging myself to 75 books this year. I can always up the ante!

In this post I will just be outlining which challenges I'm going to participate in. In seperate posts over the next week I will give a list of what books I plan to read (except there won't be a list for my 2013 Goodreads Reading challenge). It's possible as the year goes on that lists will change but that's what awesome about these challenges, anything goes and nothing is set in stone. Each blogger's challenge link is highlighted under their button (if a button was available) so I hope you will join the fun and challenge yourself this year!

I love historical fiction and historical romance so the following blog authors are posting challenges that are right up my alley:

Challenge 2:
Historical Tapestry: 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
For this challenge you can select one of the following:
2 books - 20th Century
5 books - Victorian
10 books - Renaissance
15 books - Medieval
25+ books - Ancient History
I've been in a quandary over which one to select. I read a lot of Victorian and Medieval historical fiction and romance novels. For now I believe I will select the Medieval challenge as it is one of my favorite periods in history. Bloody, harsh and full of legends and we mustn't leave out the fact that authors love to spin a good romantic medieval yarn.
Challenge 3:
The next challenge I'm excited about participating in is the 2013 Romance Reading Challenge by the Bookworm. She has created 3 lovely buttons but I've been unable to grab a button as of yet for this post. I've asked Naida to tell me how to grab one so I'm hoping when I post my reading list that one of her fabulous buttons will be available. Bookworms 2013 Romance Reading Challenge
This challenge is a cinch and will be a pleasure - read 5 romance novels of any kind. So you can read historical, contemporary, paranormal etc. any will do. Since historical romance is my favorite of all time to read, I'll obviously be selecting those types of books. In fact, I've already read 2 regency romance novels this year. I've just not blogged about them yet, but I will soon.
Challenge 4:
This is a challenge in the true sense of the word - you must read novels either written by an Irish author, set in Ireland, have Irish characters or involve Irish history. Oh and the novel can be fiction or non-fiction. I'm very excited about this one. There are 4 levels -
The Shamrock - 4 books
Luck o' the Irish - 6 books
Kiss the Blarney Stone - 8 books
Ceilidh - 10+ books
I'm choosing the Luck o' the Irish level (6 books).
Challenge 5:
I love a good mystery or crime novel so I have to participate in this challenge. Plus, a lot of the historical romance novels I read double as a mystery. Amanda Quick novels are the perfect example. The Crafty Book Nerd is also creative, she has attached fun titles for you to earn depending on the number of books you read in this genre.
Detective - 5 novels
Sergeant - 10 novels
Lieutenant - 15 novels
Captain - 20 novels
Chief - 25 novels
Sherlock Holmes - 30+ novels
I'd love to be Sherlock Holmes but even I know that would be setting myself up to be the villain in this piece instead of the heroine! I'm selecting Sergeant and dedicating myself to reading 10 novels in the mystery/crime genre. What's great about this challenge is the Crafty Book Nerds rules are easy and one in particular that I haven't ran across is her condition on novellas. Read 5 novellas to equal 1 full length novel. I like that, as I do read a number of novellas each year. Her other rules are simple and straight forward. 

(I created the above ecard)
One of the best things about these challenges and participating is getting to meet others who read the same genre of novels you enjoy. There are so many books out there & sometimes weeding through them to find something you may or may not find interesting or that will hold your attention can be time consuming and frustrating. Reading other bloggers reviews are helpful. Plus, I just like meeting people who read the same stuff I do. I rarely run across anyone in a bookstore or on the street with my interests. Plus, participating in multiple challenges doesn't mean you read more and bog yourself down, a book can easily cross credit to all challenges or just two, depending on which ones you participate in.
I would have also liked to participate in a reading challenge highlighting the classics but only found challenges focusing on novels the blogger selected that she wanted to read for the year which you are welcome to read along with her during the designated month. Unfortunately, that's not really what I'm looking for.
I hope you all will participate in a reading challenge. Who knows in the future I may host my own but for now, I'm going to enjoy taking part in the 5 challenges posted above. Wish me luck, I just may need it!
"Mischief Managed" ~ Kelly

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Favorites of 2012

I read a lot of great books this year and it's very difficult to choose a favorite. In fact, I can't choose just one, it's impossible! I'm not even sure I could select only one from each genre that I read from. Seeing as I only read 74 books this year, then I could say that at least half of them are worth mentioning and worth reading, maybe more. I won't be a lamo though and include every single one in this post. I've selected a few of the most memorable starting with.......

My favorite newly published author/favorite regency romance,
Anya Wylde, and her book, The Wicked Wager

This amazing little murder mystery, regency romance is only $.99 for Kindle on Amazon and only 240 pages. It's super delightful, laugh out loud funny and left me craving more from this amazing new author. She has a new book coming in 2013 but I don't know the details yet.

Amazon Book Description
The infamous rake, Lord Richard Hamilton, has finally chosen his bride—the very appropriate Miss Emma Grey.
The ton approves, Lord Grey is pleased, Lady Grey delighted, and Emma is over the moon, but her uncle, (the blasted) Duke of Arden opposes the match, and Emma is ordered to move to the duke’s estate to think things over.
Richard Hamilton refuses to take things lying down and concocts a plan. A plan that should have brought the lovers together and had them married within a month. It was a simple matter of masquerading as the duke’s gardener, compromising the lady, and then having the duke rush them off to Gretna Green.
Alas, he underestimates the duke’s intelligence and the tangled situation on the estate—never had he imagined that compromising a lady could be so difficult.
His endeavours lead to a comedy of errors, charades, and knotty love affairs. Yet he forges ahead in spite of pesky house guests, a flea bitten mattress, his lovesick best friend, and a blackmailer.
Just when things seem to be going well, someone is murdered (very inconvenient), and he happens to be one of the suspects (extremely inconvenient).
His simple plan for winning the wager suddenly becomes … a tad complicated.

My favorite novella, which happens to be a Victorian romantic Christmas story is:

Christmas Stockings
by Karen Hall
Only 37 pages and $.99, this novella, set in the late Victorian period, was an amazing little romance. I wish it had been a full length novel. I fell in love with the characters, it was very well written and original.
Holly Chamberlain can write love letters for others, but no decent young lady would dare write one for herself. So when her secret beloved, Grayson Clark, vicar at St. Martin in the Pines, arrives at her office with a request to write love letters for a shy friend, she suspects he is actually the friend and the letters are to the granddaughter of a baronet known to admire him. His request for her to replace an injured cast member of St. Martin's production of A Christmas Carol delights her, but the baronet's granddaughter is also in the cast, dashing any hopes Holly has for her own Christmas love story.

Grayson Clark can speak eloquently from the pulpit, but not to Holly Chamberlain, the woman he secretly loves. After all, he's just a vicar while she is the daughter of one of London's wealthiest merchants and known to be admired by an up and coming barrister. Dictating his own love letters to her may be folly but what else can he do? Having her join the cast of A Christmas Carol seemed like a miracle, but now his predecessor is insisting Grayson be attentive to a baronet's granddaughter in order to pay for St. Martin's new roof. Can't vicars have their own happily-ever afters?
After all, it's Christmas.
My favorite historical fiction:

A Murderous Procession
by Ariana Franklin
Book 4 in the Mistress of the Art of Death series
$12.99 /Kindle
I loved all 4 books in this series. They kept me on the edge of my seat, with my palms sweaty and my heart racing. The plots were excellent, the characters exceptional and I'm sad to see the conclusion and worse yet, my heart breaks that this incredible author passed away. She truly captivated me and introduced me to Historical Fiction as genre with the Mistress of the Art of Death (book 1).
In 1176, King Henry II sends his daughter Joanna to Palermo to marry his cousin, the king of Sicily. Henry chooses Adelia Aguilar to travel with the princess and safeguard her health. But when people in the wedding procession are murdered, Adelia and Rowley must discover the killer's identity, and whether he is stalking the princess or Adelia herself.

My favorite Re-Read / Historical Romance:

London's Perfect Scoundrel
by Suzanne Enoch
book 2 (Lessons of Love)
I re-read novels but not many. I have a small stack of books that every so often I fall back on to read again, like watching a favorite movie. I find I love the characters and the adventure. The story is usually not super intense but light enough to take me away from the present and I don't feel bogged down by the intensity or length of the book.
I've read London's Perfect Scoundrel probably 3 times since I found it 3 or 4 years ago. The hero is "so bad he doesn't have to be good." The heroine is feisty and knows exactly what she's going to do with this naughty hero....yep, make him perfect. It's also currently $1.99 at the Kindle store.
A determined young lady vows to give one of London's infamous rakes his comeuppance -- but when the rogue turns the tables, who truly learns a lesson in love?
Beloved Saint -
The ton gossips call him "Saint" -- but the Marquis of St. Aubyn has well earned his reputation as London's perfect scoundrel.
Evelyn Ruddick knows she should avoid him at all costs -- but the strikingly beautiful lady wants to aid the children of the Heart of Hope Orphanage, and he heads the board of trustees. Evie is determined to teach the charming, arrogant man a lesson in compassion, but it won't be so easy -- especially since his touch is setting her desire aflame, making Evie yearn to submit to his passionate instruction ... The idea of joining in her "project" is unthinkable, but this enchantress refuses to give up! So what else is there for a self-respecting rake to do but seduce the lady? Yet soon it is he who is being seduced by Evie's tender heart and fiery blushes. Could the temptation of long, passionate nights in her arms bring about the impossible? Could the disreputable Saint at long last be reformed?

This year I also read for the first time, Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I fell in love with Elizabeth and Darcy and went on a year long reading spree of all things Pride and Prejudice. I came across 2 authors who, in my opinion, did justice to the characters of P&P :
Anna Elliott's
Georgiana Darcy's Diary
Volumn 1 free on Kindle 
Pemberley Waterloo Georgiana Chronicles Volume 2 - $5.49 on Kindle

Charlotte ~ Pride and Prejudice Continued
by Karen Aminadra - $.99 on Kindle

All 3 of these novels were great, giving these two secondary characters from Pride and Prejudice the chance to shine. I think Jane Austen too would have enjoyed reading both of these novels.

"Mischief Manged" ~ Kelly

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bringing in 2013

Happy New Years!!!!

2013 fast approaches and soon 2012 will be behind us. With anticipation we watch the ball drop with our loved ones and friends hoping 2013 will be more prosperous and less stressful then 2012. We can pray our country improves and make resolutions about our weight or quitting bad habits or saving money instead of needless spending but how did these traditions start?
What the devil are people thinking?
Will we do anything to drink, eat and be merry?
"Tonight’s December thirty-first,
Something is about to burst.
The clock is crouching, dark and small,
Like a time bomb in the hall.
Hark, it's midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year!"
Ogden Nash, 1929
(Collected Verse)
The first New York Times Square New Years Eve celebration took place in 1904. It all started when the New York Times opened its downtown office, Times Tower and successfully talked the city into renaming Longacre Square into Times Square. At the time, the building was the focus of the celebration and the owner threw a huge party complete with fireworks. 2 years later the city banned fireworks (which is nicer, ash or confetti?) and Alfred Ochs, owner of New York Times, came up with the iconic New Years Eve ball. Now this lowering of the ball is watched at One Times Square and world wide via TV and Internet and has become a tradition for bringing in the New Year!
Time Square / The Times Tower 1908
One of the first New Years celebrations recorded was around 4000 years ago in ancient Babylon. However, the celebration was usually in March following the vernal equinox (spring equinox) when there was an equal amount of daylight and night. People ate and drank and were merry.
Annus Mirabilis
a). wonderful year, year of wonders or year of miracles (Dryden)

b). noun / phrase - a remarkable or notable year in history; a year of wonder or miracles,
used to speak hopefully of the future
The Latin phrase Annus Mirabilis was used in the 1666 poem, The Year of Wonders, composed by John Dryden: 

$14.95 for a 65 page poem on Kindle.....really?
or how about a scanned copy Free @ Google Books -
"the year was beset by great calamity for England (including the Great Fire of London), but Dryden chose to interpret the absence of greater disaster as miraculous intervention by God, as "666" is the Number of the Beast and the year 1666 was expected by some to be particularly disastrous."
Ahhhh.........if we could all be so positive in our thinking!!!!!
 Have a safe and happy New Years Eve and an enjoyable New Years Day!
Annus Mirabilis  my friends for 2013
"Mischief Managed" ~ Kelly