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mandymarie20 ROOTs

2016 ROOT Challenge - (Read Our Own Tomes)

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Edited: Dec 13, 2016, 1:05am Top

I'm setting a goal of 50 books this year. Only finishing 71 last year out of my goal of 100, it is probably better to go with a lower goal and surpass it.

1. Banning, Lynna - Smoke River Family
2. McCabe, Amanda - The Demure Miss Manning
3. Young, Edward - Hospital Doctor
4. Lee, Georgie - A Too Convenient Marriage
5. Wright, Eunice - Paper Sack Puppets
6. Gardner, Erle Stanley - This is Murder
7. Lindner, April - Love, Lucy
8. Randazzo, Joe - Funny on Purpose
9. Albright, Kathryn - Familiar Stranger in Clear Springs
10. Kulling, Monica - Clean Sweep! Frank Zamboni's Ice Machine
11. Oberthur, Rainer - Our Father
12. Ernst, Kathleen - Settler's Year
13. Bearce, Stephanie - Top Secret Files Gangsters and Bootleggers
14. Madison, Katy - Want Ad Wife
15. Hobbes, Elisabeth-Blacksmith's Wife
16. Burrows, Annie - In Bed with the Duke
17. Robinson, Lauri - Saving Marina
18. Allen, Louise - Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone
19. Orbeck-Nilssen, Constance - Why am I Here?
20. St. George, Harper - Innocent and the Outlaw
21. Love, Alison - Girl from the Paradise Ballroom
22. James, Sophia - Marriage Made in Rebellion
23. James, Sophia - Marriage Made in Hope
24. Merrill, Christine - Secrets of Wiscombe Chase
25. Scott, Bronwyn - Unbuttoning the Innocent Miss
26. Kaye, Marguerite / Scott, Brownwyn - Scandal at the Midsummer Ball
27. Lethbridge, Ann - More Than a Lover
28. Allen, Louise - Many Sins of Cris de Feaux
29. St. George, Harper - Enslaved by the Viking
30. Allen, Louise - Rose for Major Flint
31. Brisbin, Terri - Highlander's Runaway Bride
32. Plumley, Lisa - Morrow Creek Marshal
33. MacDonald, John D - One Monday We Killed Them All
34. Robinson, Lauri - Her Cheyenne Warrior
35. Arens, Carol - Wed to the Texas Outlaw
36. Madison, Katy - Promised by Post
37. Willingham, Michelle - Warrior of Fire
38. Allen, Louise - Beguiled by Her Betrayer
39. Moore, Margaret - Bride for a Knight
40. Burrows, Annie - Reforming the Viscount
41. Moore, Margaret - Scoundrel of Dunborough
42. Willingham, Michelle - Warrior of Ice

Jan 1, 2016, 3:51am Top

Welcome back Mandymarie! Happy ROOTing.

Jan 1, 2016, 5:16am Top

Happy rooting!

Jan 1, 2016, 10:25am Top

Welcome back and have a great reading year!

Jan 1, 2016, 5:01pm Top

Good luck with your ROOT reading!

Jan 3, 2016, 4:44pm Top

Welcome back and Happy 2016 ROOTing!

Jan 4, 2016, 6:18am Top

Welcome back and happy reading! It is much more motivating to surpass a goal!

Edited: Jan 24, 2016, 3:39am Top

Thanks to everyone for the welcome backs. I have 2 off the table already. Some more trashy romances. Sometimes you just need fluff. I really should read somethings of substance. I have read about 30 books for work the past few weeks, but I don't want to add them if I don't have to.

1. Banning, Lynna - Smoke River Family - 3 Stars

Winifred and her sister had been musicians giving concerts together throughout the country. One day her sister runs off with some guy, Dr. Zane Dougherty, and gets married only to die soon afterwards. She leaves a child which Winifred is determined to basically kidnap and raise the child herself. She changes her mind and decides to spend time with them eventually falling in love.

It was creepy that Winifred and the doctor fell in love when basically his wife, her husband, was barely in the ground. I would have understand it more if one of the two parties was in trouble in some way, ie. if someone is poor or had a bad home life or something, but Zane and Winifred acted like the sister never existed with no good reason. Ridiculous!

2. McCabe, Amanda - Demure Miss Manning - 3 Stars

Mary Manning loves Sebastian, but everyone else does too. Sebastian is the hot guy everyone loves but is secretly torn apart inside from the war experience. The Mannings are in the diplomatic service and attached to Portugal. There is a big war and the monarchy goes to Brazil. Drama ensues. You can probably guess the rest. I usually enjoy Amanda McCabe books, but not this one.

Jan 25, 2016, 8:35am Top

>8 mandymarie20: Too bad that you didn't like the Amanda McCabe! I have been eyeing that one since it's so unusual to see a historical set (even partially) in Brazil!

Jan 29, 2016, 5:51pm Top

I wish it would have been better too. You may like it, even though I don't.

Jan 31, 2016, 12:38am Top

3. Young, Edward - Hospital Doctor - 3 Stars

I won't list my full review, but you can visit my website if you want to read a review of this 1952 pulp novel http://flapperdays.blogspot.com/2016/01/pulp-fiction-hospital-doctor-by-edward.h...

Jan 31, 2016, 12:40am Top

January Statistics

Books Read - 3
Towards Goal - 3/50
Percentage - 6 %

Jan 31, 2016, 1:49pm Top

>11 mandymarie20: Love that cover! Nice review, too :).

Feb 9, 2016, 5:02am Top

Thanks for stopping by readingtangent!

Feb 9, 2016, 6:14am Top

4. Lee, Georgie - Too Convenient Marriage - 3 Stars

Susanna dives into Justin Connor's borrowed carriage one night at Vauxhill. He had just dumped his mistress and Susanna is running away with a peer who doesn't turn up so, she just wants to get away. To save Susanna's reputation and get her away from the family she hates, plus allegedly give him connections to peers and prospects for his new wine selling business, Justin and Susanna get married. So they have a marriage of convenience. Plus she is pregnant from the peer she was going to run away from. Bonus?

Susanna was an exasperating heroine to me. I empathized with her family not being overly fond of her, but for the norms of the period she had incredible advantages which made it difficult to feel too badly for her. She was a bastard, but an acknowledged one. A peer acknowledging a bastard, let alone a girl bastard, would have been extremely rare. She ran away to marry someone who never turned up, but her reputation was never threatened. She was pregnant by that peer - which she knew before she married Justin and did not tell him before marrying him - but he forgave her within a few days. That child was a girl, so there were not succession and inheritance issues. Before her father took her in, she lived with her mother and worked in a trade, and it just so happened to be a wine merchant - the exact profession of her husband, a random person she accosted outside Vauxhill. The rarity of all of these things working in her favor would have been a miracle.

As with many romances I have read lately, the odds of basically every plot element are astronomical. This book was everything above plus an evil stepmother with an overweight half sister who should have been married first like Cinderella. Modern morality was again rearing it's ugly head. The message was "everything goes because you meant well". Lying to your future husband and not telling him you are pregnant with another man's child is not like spilled milk. The fact that not one person saw this as a problem was crazy. The heroine felt bad for a little bit, but the guy she duped was irritated for only a few hours and everyone else was like "Who cares?"

Lately it's making me wonder why I even read these. I want escapism, but I also need a modicum of logic in the plot. Maybe I need to just read older romances which at least attempted to be honest about the historical period. Yes, they weren't perfect, but the authors writing historical fiction at least took notice of the morality and legal issues surrounding the time they were writing about. These days it seems they don't even bother. Yes, I can see you've Google's Gunter's and Vauxhill, but do you know about the people? No.

Feb 9, 2016, 6:49am Top

Ouch, that doesn't sound particularly good - although, I have to admit I like the idea of a wine-selling business featuring in a romance novel - maybe just not this one!

Feb 21, 2016, 2:12am Top

You'd be better off enjoying a glass of wine. I know I did.

Feb 21, 2016, 2:52am Top

5. Wright, Eunice - Paper Sack Puppets - 5 Stars - Early Reviewer

As a librarian, I'm always looking for ideas for storytime. I wasn't sure if this book would be useful because I was worried about what I thought would be a limited subject. I mean, how much can you write about paper bag puppets? I couldn't have been more wrong. Not only did 'Paper Sack Puppets' contain a wealth of patterns, but there were tons of useful extras.

'Paper Sack Puppets' is divided into 3 sections - Story Book Puppets, ABC Puppets, and Family Members. Story Book Puppets contains puppets from some classic stories like Goldilocks, the Ugly Duckling, the Little Red Hen, the Gingerbread Man and more. ABC Puppets is an ABC list with a puppet for each letter of the alphabet like Jellyfish for J, Lamb for L, Owl for O, etc. Family Members includes puppets for Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Baby, Grandmother, and Grandfather. For each chapter within those sections there are outlines of the paper bag tops and bottoms which you copy and color yourself and attach to paper bags. Accompanying each set of paper bags is an amazing amount of supplemental material perfect for any storytime - Songs to sing and play, Poems and nursery rhymes, and Games and group activities. Also included are recommended materials to use with like books, movies, and television.

I was very impressed with this book. I thought the book would have just a few paper bag patterns, but I was thrilled that this book is basically one of the best storytime supplements ever. Even if you never used the paper bag patterns - which are still fun, cutely drawn, and clever - this book has everything you need to create a fun and entertaining storytime. I'm so thrilled I got this book!

Feb 21, 2016, 3:10am Top

6. Gardner, Erle Stanley - This is Murder - 4 Stars

Every time I read a vintage paperback I find it so much more enjoyable than modern ones. I'm not sure if it's the amazing cover art, the crisp and enhanced vocabulary, the richness of the time, the authors were better, or some other reason. This book was no exception.

Sam Moraine is in advertising. Through odd circumstances, he becomes the go-between for a kidnapping ransom exchange. Only this kidnapping seems off. Things are definitely not right. After the exchange Sam becomes more immersed in the web of lies when the kidnap victim - whom he had saved and returned home - ends up dead in a prominent political man. The twists and turns and political intrigue kept me on the edge of my seat.

After reading this, I definitely think I will give other Gardner books a try. My only problem with this one - my poor vintage paperback fell apart. I probably should have just saved it and not read it, but what good is a book that isn't read?

Feb 21, 2016, 9:25am Top

>19 mandymarie20: That is a great cover! I love the classic cover art as well.

Feb 23, 2016, 12:10am Top

7. Lindner, April - Love, Lucy - 2 Stars

I got an Advanced Reader Copy of this Young Adult book. Upon reading the back and the cover art, I thought this book would be about a sweet romance abroad. I could not have been more wrong. While the plot of the book technically was a college aged girl's romance abroad, complete with the Audrey Hepburn Roman Holiday references, I was disgusted by the actual events.

Clearly I'm too jaded for a book like this. The plot - Lucy, a spoiled rich kid goes on vacation in Europe with a friend. The trip abroad, without parents, is a last hurrah before going off to college. Lucy's parents made a deal with her. She would get a free trip to Europe and free college tuition and room and board in exchange for going to her parents' alma mater and picking a reasonable major. But Lucy wants to be an actress, so is willing to give up everything for this dream. Throw in a boy toy abroad and boyfriend when she gets to college fighting over her brings this book to ridiculous levels.

I had such a hard time feeling bad for Lucy, which seemed to be the point of this book. She was rich, beautiful, entitled, talented, got the part in the play everyone wanted and had boys falling all over her. She had everything. As a reader, I was supposed to feel sorry for her because her dad wanted her to get a reality check. What he was saying was not unreasonable. Not everyone makes it in the entertainment business. What harm would it do to investigate a non-entertainment occupation? Yeah he said she was 'moderately talented', but what if that was the truth? I think the world might be better off if some people got a dose of reality. When everyone is raised to think they are the best, at some point they may find out otherwise. Is it better to be honest or to blindly tell people they are amazing when they might not be?

Lucy seemed to have everyone falling all over her - her parents, boys, friends, etc. She got whatever she wanted with no consequences to her actions. She treated the girl who was her chaperon abroad horribly. She slept with her 'European love', which was a guy visiting Europe from Jersey, after two days. She had a boyfriend and slept with the 'European love' at the same time. And she treated her father like he was scum. He gave her everything she wanted - trips, money, a free ride to college, and more. All he asked in exchange was for her to concentrate on the Real World. This may be how teenagers feel toward parents, but she seemed like an ungrateful brat. Yes, her father threatened not paying for school if she didn't "shape up", but he ended up relenting. The message of this book - Be as mean, skanky, entitled, rude, and ungrateful as you want and you will get whatever you want. Nice.

Feb 23, 2016, 7:31am Top

>21 mandymarie20: That sounds truly horrible!

Feb 29, 2016, 12:40am Top

It was really bad. I hope girls don't aspire to be "Like Lucy"

Feb 29, 2016, 4:35am Top

Oh dear. I picked Love, Lucy up because of the cover and the fact that it was A Room With a View re-telling and I love stories set abroad. But that does not sound like fun :(

Mar 5, 2016, 6:16pm Top

You may enjoy it. I just have a difficult time empathizing with someone who has unlimited resources unwilling to have any limits. Life has not treated me kindly, so it is difficult for me to feel badly for someone like Lucy.

Mar 5, 2016, 6:34pm Top

8. Randazzo, Joe - Funny on Purpose: the Definitive Guide to an Unpredictable Career in Comedy - 4 Stars

I have no idea how I got this ARC copy. Since I haven't received a couple Early Reviewer books, I'm tempted to think I received this instead of one of my other books. That being said, I really enjoyed this book. But I tend to look for the good in any book I read - regardless of it the book is in my bailiwick.

This book looks like the how-to of all comedy books. Randazzo did a great job breaking down the ins and outs of the industry, what is needed to succeed, and what an aspiring comedian needs to know to be successful in the industry. The book covers everything you need to know - how to write comedy, perform comedy, visual arts comedians, surviving the digital realm, and the business of comedy. Randazzo peppers each chapter with advice from industry giants in comedy and the business such as agents and execs. The book was laid out well and easy to understand. Not being in the profession, I had no difficulty understanding this book. I think this book would be a great one to help someone just starting in the profession. Also, I think the profanity peppered throughout is unnecessary. The book would have been just as good without it. I feel comedy relies too heavily on profanity for shock and laughs. People laugh because it's uncomfortable. It's tougher to make someone laugh without it.

Since this was an ARC, there were a couple things I found confusing. Some of the bold headings were not completely in bold. In some places it made it difficult to know what the category was versus the explanation of the category. This is just sloppy proofreading. Also in the text, Joe Randazzo would say that further information was "coming below", when in fact it was in later pages. It's the difference between writing on a computer and a physical book. He should have just said the information was "coming later" or something like that.

Mar 5, 2016, 6:41pm Top

9. Albright, Kathryn - Familiar Stranger in Clear Springs - 3 Srars

Tom Barrington left on a job for the military 4 years ago and Elizabeth never forgot him, even though he seemingly left without saying goodbye. Decent romance about brotherly shenanigans, long lost love, bank robbers, and more. Book went at a decent clip, but not very memorable.

Mar 12, 2016, 7:33pm Top

10. Kulling, Monica - Clean Sweep! Frank Zamboni's Ice Machine - 4 Srars

As someone from hockey country, I wish this would have been a 5 star book. Clean Sweep! Frank Zamboni's Ice Machine is the story of the creation of Frank Zamboni's infamous ice machine, one still used today to smooth the ice. What I assume happened is that having an ice business, Frank Zamboni needed to come up with something to do with his ice business once refrigerators changed from ice to electric during the Great Depression. Knowing there was a market for smooth ice - especially figure skaters - Frank Zamboni eventually comes up with a system to make the ice turn out smooth after experimenting with various methods.

While I appreciated the story and the wonderful illustrations by Renne Benoit, I wish the story would have run a little more smoothly. From the text, we had no idea why the machine was created, why the steps lead that way, if it was Zamboni's drive or just organically happened, etc. Long and short of it, I was confused.

Generally, I appreciated the tale of Frank Zamboni. While the illustrator did a wonderful job, the author failed to connect the dots as to the hows and whys of the creation of the Zamboni. There were just too many dots the reader had to create on their own. If I wasn't an adult, I'm not sure I would have known to ask the proper questions to connect the dots.

Mar 13, 2016, 3:11pm Top

11. Oberthur, Rainer - Nascimbeni, Barbara - Our Father - 5 Stars

Brightly illustrated book explaining the classic Christian prayer, "Our Father". The book explains why we pray, includes the prayer, and explains each line from the prayer. An excellent book to teach children to pray and learn about this particular prayer.

Mar 26, 2016, 5:32pm Top

12. Ernst, Kathleen - Settler's Year - 5 Stars

The day to day life of pioneers in Wisconsin is uncovered through the use of diaries and pictures taken at Old World Wisconsin. This beautiful book, filled with wonderful photographs by Loyd Heath, covers each season in pioneer life. Beginning in spring, then following through summer, autumn, winter, and second spring, the life of pioneers is explored in detail from leaving the Old World, setting up shop in the New World, and the daily lives of those brave people who lived it. A definite gem.

Mar 26, 2016, 5:58pm Top

13. Bearce, Stephanie - Top Secret Files Gangsters and Bootleggers - 4 Stars

Top Secret Files Gangsters and Bootleggers explores the history of gangsters and bootleggers. Covering the twenties and thirties, the format of the book includes many topics, written in about 3 page sections, along with pictures. Everything from Al Capone, to flappers, to bootleggers, to twenties slang, readers will be fascinated exploring the world of speakeasies and gangsters. The book also includes activities related to the topic such as building your own rumrunner and creating a wanted poster.

While I appreciate a lot of the book and think it is fun, some of the people I think were major players of the era were barely covered. I know not everyone can be covered, it's ridiculous to me that there is not more than a sentence about John Dillinger. The only way he is covered is by talking about his gun moll and what happened to her. And nothing about the Barker-Karpis gang or Baby Face Nelson. I think in an effort to cover a variety of topics some of the main players were unfortunately left out.

Apr 3, 2016, 5:12pm Top

14. Madison, Katy - Want Ad Wife - 3 Stars

Disappointing romance. Selina Montgomery is desperate to get a husband. She is out of money and has a child. So she answers John Bench's ad. John is an orphan who wants a wife and children, and Selina seems perfect. But he doesn't know her shady past. . . .

I wanted to like this romance, love on the frontier. But this book is another instance of modern morality upon historical circumstances. Selina had a child out of wedlock and took 'artistic photographs'. And of course, she is the top seller. While she is afraid the town will react poorly to that, it seems all forgiven because she is beautiful. Selina has the past and habitually steals and lies, but apparently it is nothing. I couldn't find any redeeming qualities she exhibited. Yes she loved her child and wants to be a good wife, but she lies, steals, isn't great at housekeeping, etc. The only thing people seem to like her for is she is good looking and tries be a good wife.

Frankly, this book just backs up my view of humanity. If you're hot, all mistakes are forgiven.

May 1, 2016, 7:08pm Top

15. Hobbes, Elisabeth - Blacksmith's Wife - 4 Stars

Joanna loves Sir Roger and thinks he's going to marry her. Unfortunately, he definitely has no plans to marry the blacksmith's niece with no money. But Joanna's uncle is sick of housing her so he arranges for Joanna to marry Sir Roger's bastard brother - who also happens to be a blacksmith. Joanna still loves Sir Roger and naturally this gets in the way of a happy marriage.

Fun medieval romance. I found Joanna quite annoying at times, but Hal, the man she marries was quite an intriguing character. I do so empathize with an underdog.

May 21, 2016, 9:40pm Top

16. Burrows, Annie - In Bed With the Duke - 3 Stars

Prudence and Gregory wake up in bed with one another. Neither of them remember it. Apparently Prudence's aunt was up to no good and drugged her to get her compromised. Inheritance shenanigans ensued which were super confusing. Of course, love followed. Very confusing book.

Edited: May 22, 2016, 1:18am Top

17. Robinson, Lauri - Saving Marina - 2 Stars

Richard is a sea captain, back for his daughter whom is living in Salem. But instead of finding her with her dead mother's family, she is with an old sailor and a supposed witch. They had apparently found the girl wandering around shunned and thought to be a witch since she survived a plague. While I was interested in the premise of a romance during the Salem Witch trial period, I don't think this particular book works. Mainly it has to do with the heroine Marina. I don't think her story fit properly. Not only does her name not seem a likely Puritan name. I assume it is a reference to the sea and all of the sailors in the book. And if the town thought she was a witch, they probably wouldn't have let her just hang out and do her thing. They would have done something to her. It just seemed odd.

May 23, 2016, 1:44pm Top

Hi Mandymarie, just popping in to see what you are reading.

>35 mandymarie20: I think you are right about that last book feeling a bit odd. Especially the witch thing.

Jun 15, 2016, 4:26pm Top

I haven't read anything in a few weeks. First time in my life I've gone more than a few days without reading a book. It's been especially difficult since I've lost my job to do so. I apologize to those to all ROOTs participators for not holding up my end of the bargain. I will try to get motivated. Thank you for your understanding.

Jun 16, 2016, 6:24am Top

>37 mandymarie20:
I know that feeling - don't worry about letting us down, the last thing this group wants to feel like is a burden or an obligation. Life can be hard sometimes. Please just focus on feeling better!

Jun 16, 2016, 6:45pm Top

>37 mandymarie20: Sorry to hear that things are difficult right now. Take care and hope things are better for you soon!

Jun 18, 2016, 2:44pm Top

>37 mandymarie20: No need to apologize. If live is difficult you don't have the concentration to read. I hope it will get better for you in the near future and you will pick up reading again.

Jun 20, 2016, 11:06am Top

>37 mandymarie20: no worries! Life happens, and sometimes it is really difficult to focus on a book..
Sorry you've lost your job! That can be especially difficult :(

Jul 1, 2016, 7:27pm Top

Thanks for everyone's best wishes. Special thanks to Caramellunacy, rabbitprincess, connie53, and avanders. I really appreciate it. I have slightly got back on the horse, but not enough to add a finished book to the list. Maybe I'll be inspired too soon. Instead of reading, I need to spend that time job searching, improving me resume, and taking refresher classes.

Jul 12, 2016, 1:04pm Top

Good to hear you are doing a bit better, mandymarie.

Jul 29, 2016, 7:00pm Top

18. Allen, Louise - Unexpected Marriage of Gabriel Stone - 3 Stars

Lady Caroline Holt is furious. Her father has lost her brother's estate in a card game to the handsome Gabriel Stone, Earl of Edenbridge. So she comes up with an unusual solution - offer him her virginity in exchange for the estate. Stone, a gambler and ne'er-do-well, agrees. So they make a bargain - her virginity on the date her engagement is announced. But with domestic violence and the threat of marriage to an old man into BDSM (the anti-BDSM element was surprising considering the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey), the Earl decides to save her. Posing as a hermit and living on Caroline's land, Stone must find a way to rescue her - and his heart (I had to add that in typical romance book style).

Jul 29, 2016, 7:05pm Top

July Statistics

Books Read - 1
Towards Goal - 18/50
Percentage - 36 %

Aug 14, 2016, 8:08pm Top

19. Orbeck-Nilssen, Constance - Why Am I Here? - 3 Stars - Early Reviewer

A girl wonders what it would be like to live in other places in the world. This book is quite dark because as opposed to wondering what it would be like to like in other countries such as "What would it be like if I was French?" or "What would it be like if I was Japanese?", this book explores the darkest aspects of childhood existence on the planet such as "What if I had to work in a mine?" or "What if I had to live under a bridge?" or "What if I had to live in the desert?" While appreciate the attempt to educate children about different ways of life, the conclusion was basically our way of life is the best and everyone else's is horrible. I do think the western lifestyle is best for children, but the dark, bland illustrations and the text make it sound like everyone else's life is horrible. Our wealth allows children to play and to be idle and dream and 'be children'. This is a relative new option for middle class and non-wealthy humans in human history. In poor countries, there are no options. Everyone must work or they don't eat. Unless you grow up on a farm, most youth don't realize the life and death reality of children working. So while I applaud this book for attempting to teach empathy to children, reality is not explained. Most parents in poor countries don't want their children to have to work - they need them to work for the family to survive. I wish this point would have been addressed. As is, the book seems to insinuate these cultures are evil. The author needs to address the cultural reality of these areas.

Aug 14, 2016, 9:10pm Top

20. St. George, Harper - Innocent and the Outlaw - 3 Stars

Emmaline Drake is the stepdaughter of a bankrobber. One day while working in a saloon, Hunter Jameson kidnaps her as revenge for her stepfather kidnapping one of Hunter's gang. Hunter ultimately wants to exchange one for the other. So Hunter and Emmaline fall in love. It's lust as far as I can tell because there is only action and they really never talk about anything personal to themselves. While there are hot scenes, I wish the author took the time to actually build a relationship between the two that wasn't just about lust.

Aug 14, 2016, 9:48pm Top

21. Love, Alison - Girl from the Paradise Ballroom - 2 Stars - Early Reviewer

So disappointed with what seemed at the start to be a promising book. Girl from the Paradise Ballroom interweaves the stories of two families, Antonio and Olivia's. There meet each other at the Paradise Ballroom in late 1930's London, Antonio, a promising singer, and Olivia, a dancer. There very first meeting shocked me to the core. I almost didn't continue reading the book after their meeting, not only because of the topic but the seeming period inappropriate actions of the main characters. Basically they don't even say hello before Olivia blatantly states she just had an abortion so deal with it. Not only does it seem odd that a person would just blurt that out when just meeting someone, but for the 1930's, it just seemed even more unbelievable. It was unnecessary to the plot of the book as a whole and just seemed thrown in for shock value. Gimmicks like this are real distractions and often overshadow books as a whole. It was all I could think of the first 10 chapters or more because I couldn't focus on the story itself.

Antonio has a traditional arranged Italian marriage and has a child. Olivia marries Bernard, whom is obsessed with her and seems to get married for the sole purpose of shocking his rich traditional family. Once the novelty wears off, Olivia seeks comfort with Antonio, who is bored with his wife after he all of the sudden realizes that maybe his wife actually has a brain and thinks differently from him. One of my greatest disappointments with this book is the author's decision to turn Daniela, Antonio's wife, into a money-hungry villain. Antonio clearly neglected and didn't love Daniela for who she was as a person. This gimmick was the easy solution to allow the reader to accept Antonio and Olivia's romance. Once Antonio's wife is seem as a scheming social climber and Olivia's husband as a neglectful person who doesn't really love her, the reader is just supposed to jump on board and be thrilled Antonio and Olivia are together when in fact they are both adulterers of opportunity. I hate when author's try to manipulate the reader into accepting horrible things just for a story.

The background of Italians surviving in London at the start of World War II was intriguing. I hadn't known about the culture and what happened to Italians during World War II. I wanted to cheer and celebrate them, but instead I ended up hating the whole situation. There were no heroes in this book aside from Antonio's ever put upon sister. There weren't even anti-heroes. Everyone was horrible. An intriguing World War II story turned into just a sex-filled, power-hungry romp of horrible people trying to survive the war. I just wish something worthwhile or thought-provoking could have survived this book.

Aug 22, 2016, 1:13am Top

22. James, Sophia - Marriage Made in Rebellion - 3 Stars

Captain Lucien Howard is hurt in Spain during the Peninsular Wars and is taken in by a Spanish revolutionary. In charge of nursing him back to health is daughter Alejandra. Badly injured, she must restore him to as much health as they must go on a journey to get him to a ship to get him back to England.

On their journey they have relations, getting her pregnant. Alejandra writes to England to tell him, but she is told not to contact him. This is where my frustration with the book began. Lucien's mother sent the letter - not him - when she thought he was dying and thought Alejandra was trying to scam the family. Considering Alejandra was the child of a rebel leader who claimed a peer knocked her up, this seems like a plausible scam. Yet about 4 years later - that's right, FOUR YEARS - Lucien decides he was massively in love with Alejandra and she must be his bride. To me, that's way too long. Either get her right away or move on. It seemed really odd that all of the sudden after 4 years he would remember her.

Then there is are all the issues surrounding Alejandra's arrival in England. It seems odd that Lucien's family would have no issues with her considering her very different background and their status as British peers. She's poor, the daughter of a revolutionary leader, Spanish, Catholic, owned a brothel, was married before, etc. And while Lucien's mother had refused her letter, once Alejandra was there, everyone ignored everything about her. I know this is a romance but not one person had concerns? For the time, she would have raised a ton of red flags, especially since Lucien was engaged and the family needed money. If length was the reason, the book should have finished with Lucien's proposal. As is, the fact none of his family said anything was incredibly odd.

Edited: Sep 18, 2016, 2:51am Top

Almost half way, Mandymarie. I hope you can get to your goal. Go get those ROOTs

Aug 30, 2016, 12:41am Top

Thanks for the pep talk Connie

Aug 30, 2016, 12:51pm Top

>48 mandymarie20: oh I had wondered about that one.. good to know it's not that great!
& congrats on your progress... I know it can be hard to focus sometimes (definitely can relate!), but you're continuing to plug along and that's all that matters!

Aug 31, 2016, 12:43am Top

Thanks avanders for stopping by and for the good words. Maybe you would like Girl from the Paradise Ballroom. I just find a lot of historical fiction written today difficult to read because of the insinuation of modern morals which would not have existed or at least have been extremely rare during the time.

Aug 31, 2016, 1:10am Top

23. James, Sophia - Marriage Made in Hope - 3 Stars

I think I forgot to add this one I read during vacation.

Lady Sephora Connaught is thrown into the river off a horse. Her fiance does not jump in the water to save her, but the Earl of Douglas does. Naturally, Sephora starts to think her fiance is a loser dud because he wasn't brave enough to jump in. This was a decent romance, but the just the fact that her fiance didn't jump in after her didn't seem like enough to dump the guy. Every other character would say Sephora was amazing and nice, but this seems like something you would at least discuss the reason not just jump to the conclusion he wanted you to drown.

And I couldn't read the name Sephora without thinking Sephora beauty http://www.sephora.com/ I wonder if that was intentional.

Aug 31, 2016, 8:00am Top

>54 mandymarie20: I would have thought the same thing!

Sep 2, 2016, 4:01pm Top

>53 mandymarie20: hmm that's an interesting thought...
I think I prefer the authenticity of a historical fiction if it's obvious... but when there's a weird mixing of modern morals and historical morals, I get annoyed and frustrated pretty quickly.. I'll probably pass on this one :)

Sep 8, 2016, 3:06am Top

24. Merrill, Christine - Secrets of Wiscombe Chase 3 Stars

Gerald Wiscombe comes home from years of war a hero. When he gets home however, he finds his home invaded, a wife who acts like a stranger, and a child - when he never got it on with his wife. So, mystery child posing as his son and house turned into a gambling den run by his father in law and brother in law.

Interesting but unbelievable premise. What are the odds that when a husband goes to war, his wife's family turns their home into a gambling den? Gerald Wiscombe was actually one of the better male leads in a romance I've read about in a while. I just couldn't believe in a mystery baby, shady gambling den, husband and wife who only met each other one day are crazy in love with each other, etc. Lillian, the female lead, was an odd heroine. She had a mystery child and yet seemed to have no PTSD and hero worships her husband when she didn't even really know him at all. Just odd all the way around.

Sep 8, 2016, 3:35am Top

25. Scott, Bronwyn - Unbuttoning the Innocent Miss 4 Stars

One of the better romances I've read lately.

Claire Welton has loved Jonathan Lashley since she was a child. Brother to her best friend, she has been trying for years to get him to notice her without any luck. In fact, she basically has almost disappeared from society. So Claire and three of her friends decide to campaign to get Jonathan to love her. Using her knowledge of French, Claire teaches Jonathan how to speak again - and how to love.

I anticipate like most romances written today, it's part of a series. I expect the stories of the 3 other friends will be told.

Sep 8, 2016, 3:37am Top

Halfway to my goal. Yeah!

Sep 8, 2016, 5:33am Top

Yeah, you're doing great!

Sep 8, 2016, 11:50am Top

>58 mandymarie20:, Wallflowers to Wives is a great series tagline! I'll have to look for this!

Sep 14, 2016, 4:56pm Top

26. Kaye, Marguerite and Scott, Bronwyn - Scandal at the Midsummer Ball - 1 Stars


Sep 14, 2016, 5:35pm Top

27. Lethbridge, Ann - More Than a Lover - 3 Stars

Caroline had child out of wedlock. Instead of marrying the guy or facing the truth, she lies and tells everyone she is a widow. I understand why she did it as a plot point because she could stay in the upper class, but I can't stand subterfuge premises. Maybe this bothers me more because Society has never been kind to me. Anyway, she meets a Peninsular War vet who lost his hand. It turns out they had both liked each other the year she came out. Of course there is the redemption aspect because Blade was a bastard and she had one herself. Decent, but a bit of issues.

Sep 14, 2016, 5:58pm Top

28. Allen, Louise - Many Sins of Cris de Feaux - 3 Stars

Crispin gets mad so he jumps into a lake and just starts to swim. Of course his sort of suicide attempt doesn't work because widow Tamsyn pulls him out of the lake. Crispin gets sick and has to spend a few days at Tamsyn's. Apparently Tamsyn's first husband was a shady pirate with hidden treasure which people are searching for and died a shady death. Crispin takes to time to also try to figure out who is harassing Tamsyn and find out who killed her husband. Not one my favorites, but it's o.k. I don't like the widow premise of the widow basically not being in love with their initial husband because they basically the premise for the story, but the reader is supposed to be o.k. with the new romance because they never really loved the first person to begin with. It just seems disingenuous.

Sep 18, 2016, 2:53am Top

>62 mandymarie20: I like your comment on that one! LOL

Sep 22, 2016, 11:51am Top

>59 mandymarie20: woo hoo! You've got this!

Edited: Sep 22, 2016, 2:38pm Top

29. St. George, Harper - Enslaved by the Viking - 3 Stars

Eirik is a Viking, so in Viking fashion, he steals Merewyn as his slave. They fall in love. While I generally enjoy Viking tales, this one disturbed me greatly. I understand there are sometimes serious subjects in romances but I definitely did NOT want to read about the hero being raped by 3 men as a child. Not cool. I read these for fluff and escapism.

Sep 22, 2016, 2:36pm Top

30. Allen, Louise - Rose for Major Flint - 3 Stars

Adam Flint is a bastard. When he saves Rose (who is a lady with amnesia), she falls in love with him. The problem is she's a lady and he's a bastard, so no good socially. But Rose had run away so her reputation would have been ruined anyway, but her parents had lied about her running away with some random dude. Apparently no one noticed she was gone - which seemed ridiculous. Not one person would notice someone missing from events for weeks on end? How stupid is the reader supposed to be?

Oct 8, 2016, 6:55pm Top

31. Brisbin, Terri - Highlander's Runaway Bride - 3 Stars

Eva's father arranges a marriage for her with a different clan. The problem is she just had a baby with a man she loves. So her folks take her baby and hide it and quickly send her off, so of course, Eva runs away. Rob, her intended, runs after her and they wed even though she never tells him about the man or her baby. And of course they get it on like a week later and is shocked when rumors fly that she's a whore. If you are having sex with a guy you just met a week after you have someone else's baby, basically forgetting that poor guy the second your child is born, it's difficult to think otherwise. Another case of the hero being a hundred times better than the heroine. Really wanted to like this, but hating the trend of so many skanky heroines.

Oct 8, 2016, 7:20pm Top

32. Plumley, Lisa - Morrow Creek Marshal - 3 Stars

Marielle is a 'dancing girl' in the west. One night she falls off stage and Dylan catches her. Dylan is a well known good guy and fast draw, known for stopping robbers and helping people. Marielle and her brother know some pretty bad men who want Dylan gone, so they ask Marielle to 'take care of him', using her feminine whiles. She does, of course, but I guess they eventually fall in love.

So many things bothered me about this book. Basically it had everything to do with the heroine Marielle. She was apparently the only dancing girl ever who never made money in the bedroom. She was also a pillar of society. I'm not that stupid. What are the odds that a saloon girl with a shady brother is the ideal representation of female morality? Ridiculous! People liked Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke, but I'm sure the minister's wife was better thought of. And Marielle had no backbone because she was thrilled to play Dylan for a fool. What girl has no problem using a man, and she's supposed to be the pillar of morality? By the end, we were supposed to think Dylan was a jerk for being upset that Marielle played him. Who wouldn't hate being used? Another case of the man being a billion times better than the woman.

Edited: Oct 16, 2016, 2:18am Top

33. MacDonald, John D. - One Monday We Killed Them All - 4 Stars

Dwight McAran is getting out of jail. The town bad boy no one wants him on the street. He's been in jail, but unlike most, is not broken. In fact, he's more than ready to get even. Detective Fenn is challenged with keeping tabs on him. A tricky situation - especially since he's Fenn's brother in law. Faced with trying to keep the sociopath Dwight out of trouble, for the good of the town and in order to save his marriage, the future of the town depends on Fenn's skill. The relationships between Fenn and his wife is beautiful, pure and timeless, a marriage we all should strive for, juxtaposed with Fenn's adversarial and confrontational relationship with Dwight, as well as the motherly relationship Fenn's wife Meg has with Dwight are the real gems of the book.

I really enjoyed this book. A bit brutal, but that's Noir for you. The plot is incredibly in depth. The language is rich and transports the reader. Just like every time I read an older book, I adore the language and how descriptive it is. I almost want to read it aloud because it's so refreshing. In modern books it almost seems like they reuse the same 100 words. This pulp fiction was most likely considered low brow in 1961 when it was written, but with the dumbing down of language in modern books, John D. MacDonald's prose seems like Shakespeare.

Title wise, the title seems to have nothing to do with the story as far as I can tell. It's an intriguing title. I definitely wanted to know why everyone was killed, on Monday, no less, but alas, it seems to have nothing to do with it.

Oct 24, 2016, 12:18am Top

34. Robinson, Lauri - Her Cheyenne Warrior - 3 Stars

Lorna is a British heiress who runs away from home. She runs away to California in a wagon train. She makes friend with a few girls and hides in nuns outfits to protect themselves. She gets captured by Cheyenne warrior, Black Horse, and falls in love.

Another book I didn't think was honest about social morals of the time. Lorna seemed to be completely out of character for a British upper class person. She didn't seem phased at all about living rugged on a wagon train when she had been upper crust and pampered. How did she know how to cook or clean or mend? Lorna was the most competent person on the wagon train when she had servants all her life. Literally, no one could do anything but her. Completely implausible. And she seemed to have no problem living like a native american, which the most grizzled pioneers might have had problems. Lorna was pampered and lived in lace and had no problem skinning bears and sleeping on dirt floor. It seems like she might have a smidge of discomfort or difficulties adapting to life.

Oct 27, 2016, 2:26am Top

35. Arens, Carol - Wed to the Texas Outlaw - 3 Stars

Boone Walker is in prison for murder. Some random lawyer decides he wants to make a name for himself by getting this guy off. Frankly, I was surprised Boone was not executed, but we will go with it. So Boone's cousin by marriage comes with the lawyer as the family representative because Boone's twin brother can't come because his wife had a baby 5 months ago. Consider me skeptical, but I'm pretty sure that at the time, the guy would have left his wife with her cousin to see to his twin brother in prison - not let a young woman of marriageable age travel to the western frontier to rescue his kin with some random dude who claims to want to help his brother. It would not have been safe, how did the brother know he could trust this random guy claiming to be a lawyer, and as a 'man', he probably would not have had someone take care of his personal family business.

Apparently it's too much to ask for authenticity in behavior in historical romance. Clearly there is an agenda of modern morals supplanting historically accurate social mores. While I'm not expecting complete historical accuracy. They are just trashy romances after all and I'm reading them for escapism. The trend however seems either to ignore social behavior of the time or the reader is expected to believe that the heroine is the exception. Well, in every romance written today the heroine would have to be the exception. So the reader is left to believe that the authors are just lazy by having every heroine be the exception or this is a publishing trend or social movement. Those are not mutually exclusive. A publishing trend would certainly mimic social movements because publishers want to sell books. The problem occurs where history is involved. When writing historical fiction, the author should have some respect for the time period. The romances are marketed as historical. I understand why language is changed to represent our populace (even though I prefer the more elaborate and descriptive English). What I don't understand is the 5+ year trend of placing our modern morals in historical fiction. I cannot abide this lack of honesty. They should just market the books as people in costume pretending they are in the past. At least then it would be honest.

As to the language, I wish it was more complex. Reading a great description adds a lot to a story. Most romances I read today are not very distinct. The language and wording is so similar, one can basically skim over much of it. You can tell what is coming next because language and description does not change book to book. The reader is able to predict most of the story. This is where the formulaic nature comes in. Formulaic fiction is not bad per se, but the author must include enough differences within each volume so that the reader is not bored and wishes to continue. The way things are going, I'll have to find new fluff to read.

Nov 3, 2016, 1:45pm Top

Congrats on all your ROOTs progress!

Nov 11, 2016, 7:27pm Top

Thanks avanders!

Nov 14, 2016, 2:43pm Top

36. Madison, Katy - Promised by Post - 3 Stars

Another case of the hero being ten times better than the heroine.

Anna O'Malley is a poor Irish factory girl. To improve her life, she decides to become a mail order bride. To improve her prospects, she lies to her future husband and writes to him that she is a wealthy debutante. I imagine she thought that being wealthy would get her a husband. I'm not sure what she thought would happen when she got there without any money, but that plot hole wasn't addressed/

So off to California we go. Enter a very shady family Anna wants to marry into. Rafael and Daniel are two brothers living with their mother on a ranch in California. Anna is supposed to marry Rafael, but he couldn't be bothered to write or do any of the work involved, so his brother Daniel pretends to be Rafael and basically falls in love with Anna, even keeping her photograph from Rafael.

On the day Anna arrives by stagecoach, Rafael decides that he must do something incredibly impulsive. He, with his brother Daniel, decide that instead of waiting a few minutes to see what Anna looked like, he had to high-jack the stage. Of course the people on the stage think it's a holdup and gunfire ensues, and Anna almost mortally wounds her future husband Rafael.

Then begins a kind of comedy of errors - without the comedy. Everyone is trying to keep their role in the high-jacking. Anna is trying to play the lady and pretend she didn't shoot anyone and Rafael and Daniel are trying to pretend they never did it, going to great lengths to hide the fact that Rafael is wounded.

Throwing a wrench into the mix is the unnecessary shenanigans involving the land deals. Rafael must keep his land. Since he's not white, he believes that he needs a white wife to keep it. Anna is there for that sole reason. Never mind that she's Irish, and the Irish weren't treated much better. Enter his crazy mom who tries poisoning Anna several times because it's risky. The real reason is even more disgusting so I won't spoil it for you.


Nov 14, 2016, 2:52pm Top

37. Willingham, Michelle - Warrior of Fire - 3 Stars

Raine is a Norman soldier in Ireland on a mission. Lady Carice is running away from an arranged marriage. Their paths cross and Raine is there offering his help. But Lady Carice is quite ill. Raine thinks she's been poisoned, but it basically seems to be the health problem du jour, Celiac disease. Together they run away, sometimes honestly, sometimes as part of a trap, in the hopes of new life. Lots of political intrigue.

Edited: Nov 21, 2016, 2:20am Top

38. Allen, Louise - Beguiled by Her Betrayer - 2 Stars

Idiot woman Cleo lives with her father in the desert. She's a widow and keeps house for him. One day a shot spy, Lord Quintus turns up on their doorstep and Cleo takes care of him. Cleo doesn't however know that Quintus is there spying on her self-centered antiquities obsessed father who apparently has no idea he is part of a massive spy ring sending coded messages all over the world. It seemed impossible to me that for someone who was so obsessed with correspondence that no one on the other end of all of his letters would figure out his letters contained secret coded information unless it was an elaborate scheme where her father wrote a letter, the French inserted their code, sent it through to the spy receiving the information in code, then the French would re-write the letter minus the code and send it to the true recipient. It just seems overly complicated. Why not just make up some guy and send codes through fake people? This scheme just seems overly complicated and creates unnecessary risk unless everyone Cleo's father is writing also happens to be spies because for some reason her father is not one.

As a whole I found this book way too choppy. It jumped all over the place. The continuity wasn't there. And after all their shenanigans in the desert for some reason Cleo and Quintus go to London so Cleo can get a new life. She never lived their. Why would she decide to suddenly go to England? It made no sense. And even though the book made a great deal about Cleo not being raised at all like a lady and knowing none of the social graces, she suddenly was able to learn everything in two weeks and make a splash in society. Give me a break! Having never been around upper class peers she was able to learn about the peerage, how to speak and behave, how to dance, learning dress and beauty, decorum and civility, Cleo has to be the either the smartest, quickest learner on the planet or learning everything in two weeks is clearly impossible - which it would be.

A Linda Allen book is usually is a good read, but Beguiled by Her Betrayer was just too much. I was brought in by the desert setting, only to be let down by choppy writing, unbelievable characters, and impossible plot points.

Nov 26, 2016, 6:25pm Top

39. Moore, Margaret - Bride for a Knight - 2 Stars

Eh. I expect more from Moore.

Dec 1, 2016, 1:15am Top

November Statistics

Books Read - 4
Towards Goal - 39/50
Percentage - 78 %

Edited: Dec 13, 2016, 12:58am Top

40. Burrows, Annie - Reforming the Viscount - 3 stars

Lydia loved Viscount Rothershorpe as a debutante, but he was unwilling to marry. She needed a home desperately because she only had funding for 1 season. She had to find a man to marry or apparent hell on earth, become a governess. So of course Lydia marries some random old Colonel instead of having to work. While the author describes it as a noble thing, giving Lydia a home as a noble sacrifice, but the message I was getting was, "Be a prostitute so you don't have to work."

So years later after her husband has died, Lydia is again in London for the debut of her stepdaughter. She sees Viscount Rothershorpe again, but this time he is looking for a wife. Of course the connect again, literally.

I so wanted this book to be good. There was a disabled character in there and as one, I was hoping for a good view. As usual, it was someone who was fine on the outside and a child on the inside. Just once, I wish the disabled person would be someone fine mentally but crippled on the outside. When you are crippled on the outside, the world reacts to you and you are quite able to ascertain what others think of you. I wish I could look at someone and not see disgust in their eyes. If there are disabled people at all in a book, it's not physical unless it's war injuries. Instead it's always "look at the childish person in a grownup's body and the normal people must be judged by how they react to the disabled person". It's disgusting to me. We shouldn't choose the love of our life based on toleration of disability. While how we treat others is an important factor in how we judge someone, we should judge everyone based on their heart. I'm sick of being a ruler of measuring someone else's disgust.

Dec 7, 2016, 11:01am Top

>80 mandymarie20: great job reading 4 more ROOTs in November!
You're making great progress!

Dec 12, 2016, 11:46pm Top

Thanks avanders!

Dec 13, 2016, 12:16am Top

41. Moore, Margaret - Scoundrel of Dunborough - 3 Stars

Much better Moore than Bride for a Knight.

Celeste is a nun in training. She hears her sister has been murdered, so she runs away from the nunnery. On the way, she comes across her childhood friend, Gerrard. They fall in love, try to find the murderer, and if Celeste really wants to be a nun.

Dec 13, 2016, 12:56am Top

42. Willingham, Michelle - Warrior of Ice - 3 Stars

Lady Taryn is has disfiguring scars and no one will marry her. Thanks to her father, she will not be forced to. Unfortunately her father is in the dungeon for treason against the Irish king. So Lady Taryn comes up with an idea, she will trick her way into the palace to plead her case by pretending to be his fiancee.

Killian is the king's bastard son. He is forced to live in a stable and refused membership to the tribe. His half sister is the king's fiancee but she is dying and does not wish to marry the cruel king. Killian will do anything to get her away.

He and Lady Taryn conspire together to save Killian's sister, but fall in love in the process.

Ah, the disability thing again. Same view of it as #40.
See https://www.librarything.com/topic/210760#5820454


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