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Origin in Death
J.D. Robb
Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don't Tell You
Jay Rubin
A Beautiful Blue Death - Charles Finch If you are looking for a cozy mystery with the typical Sherlock Holmeseque feel, then this novel will not disappoint. Our main character, Charles is a member of the aristocracy who engages in amateur sleuthing with a whole host of supporting characters. The pacing is very slow and very dense storytelling. Finch skillfully leaves breadcrumbs to allow you to engage in the speculation but not enough to solve the case without Charles Lennox. If you don't mind sitting back and plodding through a mystery, then this novel is for you.
No Proper Lady - Isabel Cooper I almost gave up on this book. The pacing is painfully slow even though the actual story is very interesting. Joan travels back to the past during Victorian times to try and save the world. In her time, the world is overrun by demons and humanity is losing. Her mission is to kill the man who wrote the book that opened a gateway for the demons to cross into their world.

I liked the characters. I liked the story. I'm just not overly thrilled with the writing style. It's not bad; just not my cup of tea. It's very dense and after 20 pages you have gone no further in the story. This author does a lot of telling as well as showing and slows the story down considerably. If you don't mind the pacing, then you will enjoy the novel
Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk, #1) - Bec McMaster This novel does a good job world building as well as character development. The whole Victorian societal structure is still there but with radical changes that include vampires and werewolves (each creature as a result of a viral infection).

This story involves Honoria Pryor aka Honoria Todd who is trying to support her younger siblings in light of their father's death. Things go from bad to worse as she attracts the attention of Blade known as the Devil of Whitechapel. He is a non-blue blood infected with the craving virus and controls the underworld in that region. The primary focus is on Honoria and Blade's relationship as well as the intrigue surrounding Honoria and a blue-blood named Vickers.

I keep wavering between giving it a 3 or 4 star. It's a decent book and the start of a series and was definitely a lot richer and well formed world than the series I just previous read. While it's still a light paranormal romance, there is plenty of action and suspense too.
Heart of Brass - Kate Cross I really enjoyed the series and the story and character development. You jump right into the emotional turmoil, intrigue and action all at once. The tension between Luke and Arden was beautifully developed as well as the multiple layers well woven. I did find their hidden obstacle (the original marital discord) to be rather tedious as it seemed to belabor itself without any movement for a short while. Luckily, it wasn't enough to derail the pacing of the story much.

One thing that detracts from this series and this book is that the technology and philosophies are not in line with those of Victorian England. Even if you were to argue clandestine advancement, the technology mentioned is too advanced for the time period. Heck, it's too advanced for even our current time period but believable if it were to be post WW1 or WW2. She also doesn't spend much time world building. We are pretty much swimming in the thick of it figuring things out as we go along.

With that said, if you can overlook these glaring anachronistic issues, it is a very entertaining series. The characters really make it and I like Cross's books and storytelling and more than makes up for the extreme creative license that she takes.
Seduced By A Scoundrel - Barbara Dawson Smith I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. Normally, revenge trop turns me off but I liked the characters and the story development.
The Mad Earl's Bride - Loretta Chase I really enjoyed this novella. The characters are compelling and well developed. I enjoyed the plot and heart involved as well. While the story moved rather fast and wrapped up quickly in the end, it still flowed well and remained very focussed.
French Twist: An American Mom's Experiment in Parisian Parenting - Catherine Crawford I enjoyed this anecdotal narrative about the author's parenting revelations when comparing different parenting strategies. It is very light and conversational. However I did find the points in the book to be repetitive and large portions of the narrative to be very fluffy which diminished my enjoyment of the book.
Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace - Leonard Mlodinow I'm giving up for now as this book isn't what I had in mind or need right now. I did pick it up from the library on a whim hoping it would be a more in-depth historical account of Euclidean geometry.

Each chapter is very short and follows a general chronology but the voice is very conversational popular culture geek referencing. It makes for a less intimidating tone and greater accessibility.

I do plan on reading it in the future.
What the Duke Desires - Sabrina Jeffries I really enjoyed this new series. Max and Lisette are great characters. Both very resolute and strong characters. The mystery about Tristan's whereabouts is the main story thread that is well developed and engrossing with character development along the way. We are introduced to several characters without it being a distractor and I look forward to the next books in this series. Another good solid novel by Sabrina Jeffries.
The Desires of a Countess (The Jordans #3) - Jenna Petersen I can't decide if I want to give it a 2 or a 3 star rating. I liked the story's concept and I liked the two characters. Virginia is a widow whose husband and family were cruel and abusive. She has little love for them and has to confront a cousin who was named trustee of her son's inheritance. I can't put my finger on what has me dissatisfied about this book. The plot is well developed and so is Virginia and Simon's character. I guess that there are so many threads to deal with and other characters that they eroded a sense of cohesiveness that you got from other aspects of the story rather than intertwined threads.

Lady Pirate - Lynsay Sands This was a cute book and an amusing read but the lady's stubbornness got to be much. Otherwise it was a fast paced comical read.
Real World - Natsuo Kirino, Philip Gabriel I didn't like this novel as much as Out. It could be that the characters were all teenagers and I just couldn't get into their dark angst. The story is told from multiple narrators and at times it got a little confusing who was talking about whom. Otherwise, it was a compelling story. I did want to know how the story ended but I felt nothing for the characters.
Grotesque - Natsuo Kirino I'm torn between a 2 or a 3 star rating. The story was engrossing and character development very intriguing, I really didn't like any of the characters and I don't think you are supposed to.

The ending also flew over my head; I really didn't get the point of it. The story is told as each character's story moved between present adulthood back into childhood -- rehashing different points of their past while plodding on with the present. I couldn't make the connections that lead to the ending we were presented. There are a lot of twists and twists within twists along with a lot of motley characters so the story is an interesting ride.

The Temptation of a Gentleman (The Jordans #2) - Jenna Petersen This installment is about Noah and is better developed than the first and significantly more focussed. The action as well as the relationship development is all wrapped up within the story rather than separate stories competing with each other like in Audrey's story. I also liked Marion a lot. She's a strong character placed in a terrible situation.

My two quibbles with the book is that Noah is a bit of a hypocrite. He starts out as using her to gain information about the undercover investigation he has been asked to do. Then he gets really mad at her for not giving full disclosure about the situation that she is in even though he knew enough. It really ticked me off because she didn't necessarily withhold vital information. The other part was the final misunderstanding or the gothic turn in the story. It was already gothic enough but just had to go there for that final dramatic scene. But all of these criticisms are more of a personal criticism of a jaded reader.

The story truly is entertaining and a quick read with a bit of intrigue. If you are looking for light reading that is not too fluffy, this fits the bill.
London's Sinful Secret: The Bawdy History and Very Public Passions of London's Georgian Age - Dan Cruickshank I found this book to be very enlightening yet drawn out in the same token. The first part of the study examines the business and recruitment practices of the industry. He also cites famous individuals and recounts their stories. It really enraged me to read about the practices that entrapped women into this industry as well as the lure of it due to the overwhelming lack of opportunities for a female in the strongly patriarchal society. In the middle, it meanders a bit and seemed redundant. He touches on the changes and how it played a part in the development of Georgian England but basically repeats points he had already made. The latter part examines the underlying attitudes that helped shape the industry which I would have liked to see a more in-depth analysis.
The Secrets of A Lady - Jenna Petersen I enjoyed the action of this novel but thought the relationship part was just too melodramatic and underdeveloped for my taste. My other problem with the book is that I didn't get a sense of the seasoned trained spy that Audrey was supposed to be. Otherwise, I did enjoy the dynamic between Audrey and her brother, Noah as well as Griffin.