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Reading Laura Kinsale’s “Lessons In French” Again

13 Jun

Trevelyan and Callie are childhood sweethearts with a taste for adventure, until the fateful day her father discovers them embracing in the carriage house and, in a furious frenzy, drives Trevelyan away in disgrace. Nine long, lonely years later, Trevelyan returns. Callie discovers that he can still make her blood race and fill her life with excitement, but he can’t give her the one thing she wants more than anything–himself.

For Trevelyan, Callie is a spark of light in a world of darkness and deceit. Before he can bear to say his last goodbyes, he’s determined to sweep her into one last, fateful adventure, just for the two of them.

About one month ago, I read Laura Kinsale’s Lessons in French. A few days ago, someone talked about this novel and all I could come up with to say about it was something like “I liked it” but nothing more specific… So this morning, I sat down to read this novel again.

I’m just a few chapters in, but here are a few things I liked in the first chapter (I guess they all come down to Kinsale showing not telling):

  • Callie fantasizing about a different life for herself and adventures. It’s a habit of her, and her fantasies throughout the novel are quite telling, IMO.
  • Callie’s reaction to Trev : she admires his “handsomely clad” shoulder!
  • Trev’s reaction to being told that Callie was jilted three times: First he seems slow to comprehend what Callie is telling him. Callie explains some more and then changes the subject. He stares at her for a moment before he responds. After he answered her, there’s a pause and then he comes back to what made him seem so slow: Callie being jilted.
  • I like these kind of exchanges between Trev and his mother:

    She smiled and spoke to him in English. “You enjoyed the assemble?”
    “Of course! I engaged myself to two beautiful young ladies and had to leave by the back window. I’ve fled to you for aid. Will you conceal me in your wardrobe?”
    She gave a faint husky laugh. “Let the girls meet…on the field of honor,” she said in a weak voice. “Nothing to trouble about.”
    “But their mothers might pursue me!”
    “Alors, I’ll dispatch their mothers myself, by poison.”
    He squeezed her hand. “I see now where I come by my unsteady nature.” (16)

    They turn more serious at a bit later they talk about Callie and his mother says

    “Ah, she is too good.”
    “Indeed she is an angel. If she can produce a supper, I shall marry her out of hand.”
    “I’m certain that she can.” His mother breathed deeply. “But…three engagements in one evening, my love?” (17)

    To me, these kind of exchanges show there is a strong connection between Trev and his mother. They get each other. Trev also shares these kind of exchanges with Callie.

So the story might seem a bit slow in the beginning perhaps (= not all that much happens) but for the above reasons I like the writing a lot and I’m in.

Oh, and in chapter two I learned something new: arrowroot custard. I didn’t know there existed something like that (neither in English nor German, I might add), so I googled it. Found a recipe and now I know more.

It’s quite astonishing what I can learn when I pay a bit of attention while reading, it seems.

*cough*

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Wednesday, 19 May

19 May

Edit: corrected two mistakes

Reading


Today, I had to quit reading Pamela Clare’s novel Hard Evidence on page 37. I’d thought the heroine looked stupid several times already. And on page 37, I encountered the last straw I could take today and I had to stop (there goes my evening of reading on the couch).

Tessa, our plucky heroine, is a “cop reporter” and, or so the reader is told, she’s good at her job. On evening, she witnesses a murder right before her eyes. The next morning, she phones the police and is informed that the police won’t release the report yet or issue a statement (18). Tessa decides to run with the story anyway, making it a “first person, eyewitness account” (18) and the front page for the next day’s issue of the newspaper.

On that next day, she’s asked by the Chief of the police if she’d considered that she’d made herself a target. Tessa says yes but also says she thinks herself safe because now everyone knows what she knows. The Chief agrees that viewed like that Tessa’s right but he also points out that there are easily several other reasons why the killer still might want to see her dead. Tessa, our experienced cop reporter, is surprised… Then later on the same day she accidentally meets the man she suspects is the killer and…is surprised why he knows her name.

That’s when I had to stop.

I’m going to continue reading that novel because I like Pamela Clare’s voice and writing. But I sure I hope that Tessa eventually shows that she’s the good and experienced reporter she’s said to be and that she starts to consider the consequences of her actions in some way before she acts. Because so far, I haven’t seen it once. And that’s too bad.

Gaming

Remember Bebedora? My little warrior-woman reached the top 100 today.

(For some reason, the hair color of my character turned from blond to brown after the last update of the game.)

~ * * * ~

Oh, and I’ve written my first longer book comment in ages. Woohoo. I think I’m even going to post it. But today I had to get Tessa off my chest, I’m sorry.

Two Paranormal Romances, One Harlequin Presents

19 Apr

I’ve read three novels this month not counting Pamela Clare’s Naked Edge which I started in March.

The first one I read was Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Seize the Night. I thought it an okay read; liked the heroine actually. I didn’t get why EVERYONE was so set against Valerius. Maybe if I’ve read the other books, it would have been different. But with just this novel, it almost seemed like Valerius was facing a bunch of mean girls instead of grown men. What else can I remember? Not much, actually. And that’s why I won’t run out to get the other novels in this series although I think its world rather interesting. (3/5)

Next up was another paranormal romance: Touch of Evil by C. T. Adams & Cathy Clamp. Again, I thought it an okay read. The most interesting thing IMO was the twist on vampires. (But then, it reminded me a bit of a science fiction TV series.) The main weakness IMO was the heroine. The novel is told in first person from the heroine’s POV. Especially in the beginning, I thought it a bit boring to stay in her head. Kate has a super-cool job, is cool friends with everyone and she is Not Prey, which gives her a super cool status in world of this series. In short, everything I read about her is supposed to make me think her a great and cool gal to hang out with. It was a bit exhausting and boring. Do I really need to know every thought she has about a certain TV series to show me how hip and cool she is? Is she really cool when she charges way less than everyone else for her (super nice) apartments and doesn’t know how to pay the next electricity bill? For that matter, how can she tip (way cool!) everyone left and right then?
There’s also a romance. I didn’t think Tom and Kate had much chemistry although I liked that in this romance the usual roles seem to be reversed: the woman is supposed to be the alpha with the man going all weak in the knees at her strength. Fortunately, this doesn’t keep him from seeing her clearly. Kate just said that she knows what it means to be a leader:

He shook his head and thrust his hips upward, making me gasp. “No you don’t Kate. You wear your Not Prey status like a shield, or some sort of invisibility cloak. You leap into battle without consulting anyone, or even thinking about the consequences. That’s not leading. That’s just plain pig headedness and foolhardy to boot.”

I’m actually not sure why Kate is able to fight the vampires when she can’t evade it. The way I understand it, they are stronger than humans and Kate doesn’t seem to have a solid background in anything that would come in handy in such a situation. But then again, I’ve read this novel nearly two weeks ago, I’m very fuzzy on details by now. Besides, Kate is cool. She can pull it off.

(Kate is not really as annoying as she probably appears in my comment above. But it’s the thing I remember best about the novel. That, and the explanation for vampires. 3/5)

By then, I had enough of paranormal romances and turned to Price of Passion by Susan Napier, a Harlequin Presents. Price of Passion is a novel that mostly relies on misunderstandings. They didn’t annoy me outright but I thought it got a bit old when every conflict between the heroine and the hero centered around a misunderstanding. Thrown into that is an unwanted pregnancy although there is a little twist to it which I liked. I preferred the later chapters to the first chapters – some nice dialog there IMO. Actually, I liked the writing in general and despite not being really blown away by this novel, I wouldn’t hesitate to read another book by Napier. (a slightly better than okay read because I liked the writing. 3,5/5)

Reading Troubles And Two Recent Reads

27 Mar

I guess it’s no secret that I have problems to keep this blog going for months now. Honestly, I just can’t think of something to write about. But recently, I suspected this had spread to my reading, too. Too often, I found myself putting books down – sometimes I’m sure through no fault of their own – again and again until I’d finally made it through. The most recent example was Tessa Dare’s Surrender of a Siren I’m sorry to say. It took me one week to read it.

I’m not sure what it is. Am I more cranky at the moment? Easier to distract? Definitely, there is a change going on with how I grade books. The most deciding question now is “Would I like to read the book again?” If not, the book is going to end up with a 3/5 grade; 3,5/5 if I thought some of it interesting in some way.

Surrender of a Siren is a 3,5/5 thanks to its last chapters. Before, I just wasn’t really interested and even thought it somewhat boring. Which is actually weird because I thought the main characters interesting – both are not without flaws – and I liked how the motivation for their actions mirrored each other. The heroine wants to life her passion and flees a life that would offer her respect and security. The hero wants to turn respectable and leave behind his past as a scoundrel. Great stuff for conflict but sadly, I was only caught by it in the last few chapters when things come to a head.

I know most readers loved this novel but I found it much too easy to put down. It might be because of the mood I’m in at the moment. As I said, I often have trouble reading for more than an hour at the moment so I seriously contemplated that (I usually prefer to read a novel in one or two sittings). I can imagine it to influence my enjoyment of a novel if I read it spread over several days. There’s another one I started a few days ago. I’m just a few chapters in. Again, I can’t really say why I find it so easy to put down.

But then again, I had no trouble staying with Karina Bliss’s What the Librarian Did this morning. I read it in one sitting and I enjoyed it a lot. So this kind of shoots down my explanation why I have trouble staying with some books, I think.

What the Librarian Did as a great read for me. I enjoyed the characters and the writing. And – while I thought the conflict overshadowed the romance a bit at times (there’s a lot of stuff packed into this novel) – I really enjoyed how Rachel and Devin interacted with each other. What the Librarian Did offers sparks and a cool librarian. I can definitely see myself reading it again. Which means 4/5 according to my changing way to look at novels. Maybe even 4,5/5 because there was a lot going on and juggling all without neglecting some of it (too much) – not easy.

PS: See how I weaseled myself out of writing a longer comment about novels again? I told you I’m in trouble.