The Spinster Chronicles – A Must-Read For Regency Romance Addicts

The Spinster Chronicles
By Rebecca Connolly

The Merry Lives of Spinsters #1
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SUMMARY:

Georgiana Allen is a spinster and everybody knows it. She also happens to be one of the writers for the Spinster Chronicles, and everybody knows that as well. She’s accepted her lot in life, and, along with the other spinsters in her circle, takes great pride in the articles she writes and the influence she has. Then Captain Anthony Sterling infiltrates their group, and her life, and Georgie impossibly begins to hope once more.

Tony Sterling had no idea what to expect when he agreed to break up the Spinsters for his cousin, but he certainly did not expect Georgie Allen. From the very first meeting, she upends everything he thought a spinster would be, and her beauty and wit keeps him on edge in thrilling ways. The more he gets to know the Spinsters, the less he wants to break them up. And the more he wants Georgie in his life. Permanently.
(Courtesty of goodreads.com)


The Spinster and I #2

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SUMMARY:

Prudence Westfall, spinster, has unexpectedly had the greatest misfortune of all: she has inherited a fortune, and is now an heiress. But as a Spinster, and a stammering shy one, nothing could be worse than having a bevy of suitors pay her attention. Opportunity strikes at a house party when the most unlikely person offers the perfect solution.

Camden Vale is no gentleman, and he’s not prone to saving anyone, but something about Prue changes all that. When his offer to befriend her extends beyond the house party, and his feelings extend beyond expectation, no one is more surprised than he. Except, perhaps, for the other Spinsters, and they have much to say on the subject. (Courtesty of goodreads.com)

Spinster and Spice #3

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SUMMARY:

Isabella Lambert is a nice person. She is biddable, polite, soft-spoken, and eager to please. She also happens to be a spinster, and one of the writers of the infamous Spinster Chronicles, where she is less polite, more outspoken, and may not please anyone. Izzy also has a secret that only one person knows, and that one person may hold the key to its success.

Sebastian Morton finds Izzy Lambert fascinating. She is the perfect mentor for his younger sister as well as a capable and charming friend for him. When opportunity strikes to spend more time with her, her secret becomes his. But will this secret, and others, ruin their connection? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

My Fair Spinster #4

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SUMMARY:

Grace Morledge is a failure. Or so her father believes, as she is unmarried despite her many advantages. In his mind, Grace must have significant flaws to be a spinster, and something must be done about them. To her mortification, he demands she be fully examined and all her flaws recorded. And the man he chooses is the worst possible candidate of all.

Aubrey Flint, Lord Ingram, has known Grace since childhood, but he never anticipated Lord Trenwick demand he examine her for flaws. How can perfection have faults? Reluctantly, he accepts the assignment and finds far more than he bargained for, as perfection becomes more and more tempting. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

 

God Rest Ye Merry Spinster #5

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SUMMARY:

Christmas is here, and Elinor Asheley’s entire family has gathered at their country estate to celebrate. But when her arch nemesis arrives at the estate by chance, warm wishes and the holiday spirit are the last things on her mind. Elinor is determined to protect her family from him no matter how changed he claims to be.

When the winter weather strands Hugh Sterling at the estate of the woman who hates him most in the world, his only wish is to escape the place unscathed. He is not the man he once was, and he will do everything he can to prove that to Elinor. But nothing can prepare him for the changes that spending his holiday with her will bring. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

Once you read one, you’re going to read them all, hence all the books currently out are in this review.

I’ve enjoyed Connolly’s world and characters. Each of the Spinsters, with a captial S (as explained in book 1), are unique as well as their eventual suitors. Even though I’ve read many clean romance novels, these are unique because of the story background and quality of writing. While each one of the women is resigned to remain a spinster and put their best face on disappointment, they would like to have a love match (as explored in all of the novels, but I enjoyed the match immensely in book 3). However, when that doesn’t seem possible, they bond together and lead rich, full lives, hoping to change societies’ perception of spinsters. The lucky men who enter the Spinsters’ lives attest to the joy of finding their love match and the respect they hold for each of the women.

The Spinsters’ ideals aren’t in line with the Regency time period but are so enjoyable to read. The way the men react is also a modern ideal (see book 2 as a great example of what women like). The pluck and intelligence of the female characters keep me laughing. I can also see how real women are similar to each character. Even the male love interest is unique in each volume (see book 5 for a big surprise).

The main thing I don’t love are the covers. I feel like they look like the typical fare for the market and these are at a higher level than average. If I had my graphic choice for the covers, I would have chosen an illustration or more original photography. This is certainly not a reason to drop the books, but since I had to find a fault (see book 4 to know how well such an idea goes) that is my complaint.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

If you’re looking for something Regency and fun, I always recommend Sorcery and Cecilia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede (it’s got magic but has such fun characters in the time period, I think anyone would like it). 

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

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Unlimited Memory – Do These Memory Tricks Really Work?

Unlimited Memory
How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn
Faster, Remember More and be More Productive

By Grandmaster Kevin Horsley

Spoiler Alert!

Summary

Kevin Horsley Broke a World Memory Record in 2013… And You’re About to Learn How to Use His Memory Strategies to Learn Faster, Be More Productive and Achieve More Success

Most people never tap into 10% of their potential for memory. In this book, you’re about to learn: How the World’s Top Memory Experts Concentrate and Remember Any Information at Will, and How You Can Too Do you ever feel like you’re too busy, too stressed or just too distracted to concentrate and get work done? In Unlimited Memory, you’ll learn how the world’s best memory masters get themselves to concentrate at will, anytime they want. When you can easily focus and concentrate on the task at hand, and store and recall useful information, you can easily double your productivity and eliminate wasted time, stress and mistakes at work. I believe when children can see results in their testing and memory abilities, their self-esteem will grow because they’re impressing themselves. I wish teachers taught skills like this in elementary school to prepare students with study techniques. In this book, you’ll find all the tools, strategies and techniques you need to improve your memory.

About the Author For over 20 years, KEVIN HORSLEY has been analyzing the mind and memory and its capacity for brilliance. He is one of only a few people in the world to have received the title International Grandmaster of Memory. He is a World Memory Championship medalist, and a two-time World Record holder for The Everest of memory tests. Kevin is also an author of four books, and the designer of a times table game with the Serious Games Institute at North-West University Vaal Campus. Kevin is a professional speaker, and assists organizations in improving their learning, motivation, creativity, and thinking.

(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I got this book because I have kids getting ready for the ACT/SAT exams, and they are feeling overwhelmed. At their ages, they are unsure of their ability to remember everything they need to know. The pep talks about their natural ability to learn was helpful to encourage them to try the techniques.

I read one of the examples of a memory technique to my kids and they remembered the items very well. When one child was studying for a test, he went so far as to draw the picture for his study notes. On that exam, he only missed one question (and it was a question to draw a conclusion from the material – which he didn’t quite get because it was more obtuse when I saw the choices available for the answer).

I’ve enjoyed how he shows more than one memory technique so you can find what works for you. Our family is naturally visual and have easily adopted the techniques.

Rather than read it straight through, I’ve read a little at a time to absorb the information. I plan to read it again.

Some have complained that it isn’t ‘original’ but his delivery is excellent and is very practical showing how to apply the principals taught. The author also gives credit to his resources, so this didn’t bother me in the least. I highly recommend this book.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star
  • Michelle

 

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The Will and the Wilds – Will It Catch You?

The Will and the Wilds

By Charlie Holmberg

Spoiler Alert!

Summary

A spellbinding story of truce and trickery from the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician series.

Enna knows to fear the mystings that roam the wildwood near her home. When one tries to kill her to obtain an enchanted stone, Enna takes a huge risk: fighting back with a mysting of her own.

Maekallus’s help isn’t free. His price? A kiss. One with the power to steal her soul. But their deal leaves Maekallus bound to the mortal realm, which begins eating him alive. Only Enna’s kiss, given willingly, can save him from immediate destruction. It’s a temporary salvation for Maekallus and a lingering doom for Enna. Part of her soul now burns bright inside Maekallus, making him feel for the first time.

Enna shares Maekallus’s suffering, but her small sacrifice won’t last long. If she and Maekallus can’t break the spell binding him to the mortal realm, Maekallus will be consumed completely—and Enna’s soul with him.

(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

One of the best things about this book is that Sandis is angry at Rone! It is too easy for an author to have the characters forgive each other too quickly. Sandis is justifiably angry and she sustains her feelings even as Rone is trying to heal the breach in their r

I received an ARC from NetGalley for my honest review.

I’ve read many of Holmberg’s books and there are a couple of overriding comments about why I like her writing.

1- She develops new worlds and doesn’t rehash all her old ideas
2- Every magic system in the new world is unique and has a set of rules
3- How the characters don’t know how to solve their problems, but they keep going anyhow

One of the strengths in The Will and the Wilds is the relationship Enna has with her father. It feels so genuine the way he is slipping away with dementia and how she guides or misdirects him because of his failing memory. When she discovers the root of his mental problem, I felt like it brought the issue to a new level.

I also enjoyed her relationship with Tennith and Maekallus. In both cases, she is tentative but for different reasons. Tennith is kind and handsome, and the boy she’s crushed over, so her hesitancy is believable. Maekallus is a supernatural being with a horn and knife-like tail, so there is no need to describe her hesitancy in this case. Who does she fall for? The good boy or bad monster? The biggest component of the relationship with the possible male romantic lead characters is how Enna’s compassion grows. She is multidimensional and takes the reader on a trip through all her emotions as she works out her feelings and problems.

This story was being written at the same time as The Paper Magician. I didn’t know this fact until after I’d finished. The awesome thing about this is seeing how different the two worlds are.

If you’re a fan of fantasy with a fairytale bent, I think you’ll enjoy The Will and the Wilds.

I would consider this a clean read. There are a couple of swear words and some innuendo, but nothing is over the top. This is listed as adult fiction because the protagonist is 20-years-old, but I’d allow my upper teens to read it.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star
  • Michelle

If you loved The Will and the Wilds, try Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, and The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen.

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

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The Killing Fog – Will It Come For You?

The Killing Fog
The Grave Kingdom

By Jeff Wheeler

Spoiler Alert!

Summary

The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Kingfountain series conjures an epic, adventurous world of ancient myth and magic as a young woman’s battle with infinite evil begins.

Survivor of a combat school, the orphaned Bingmei belongs to a band of mercenaries employed by a local ruler. Now the nobleman, and collector of rare artifacts, has entrusted Bingmei and the skilled team with a treacherous assignment: brave the wilderness’s dangers to retrieve the treasures of a lost palace buried in a glacier valley. But upsetting its tombs has a price.

Echion, emperor of the Grave Kingdom, ruler of darkness, Dragon of Night, has long been entombed. Now Bingmei has unwittingly awakened him and is answerable to a legendary prophecy. Destroying the dark lord before he reclaims the kingdoms of the living is her inherited mission. Killing Bingmei before she fulfills it is Echion’s.

Thrust unprepared into the role of savior, urged on by a renegade prince, and possessing a magic that is her destiny, Bingmei knows what she must do. But what must she risk to honor her ancestors? Bingmei’s fateful choice is one that neither her friends nor her enemies can foretell, as Echion’s dark war for control unfolds. 
(Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

The Killing Fog has an exciting new world created by Jeff Wheeler. The world is rich and complex with characters facing moral dilemmas.

Not only are there factions fighting to exist in a harsh world, but there are unexplained powers within artifacts from a bygone era. When the fog rises it kills those it touches, but no one knows where it originates. The current people live within the cities of a people whose history is lost to time. Why did this former civilization disappear?

The main character, Bingmei, has her life course changed when mercenaries attack her home. As she grows, she comes to find that she values her own life more than revenge.

There haven’t been dragons for ages, and the lost city she is sent to find might not even exist. When she and her companions find a lost city, they are in awe. There is no way to know what awaits them in this mystic palace. Bingmei is guided on their travels. Even she doesn’t know that deception is at the heart of the sword binding to her. Bingmei sets the wheels of destruction in motion when she is tricked by the ancient forces.

When Bingmei is seen as a means for peace, she questions the fate planned for her. The rising evil is great, but is it greater than the forces already at work? When there is unspeakable evil in the hearts of mankind, why should she sacrifice herself?

I can hardly wait for the next in the series. If you enjoy fantasy novels with interesting worlds, you won’t want to miss The Killing Fog.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star
  • Michelle

If you loved The Killing Fog, try The Darkwater Sage by Patrick W. Carr and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

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The Fifth Doll – What Are Your Secrets?

The Fifth Doll

By Charlie Holmberg

Spoiler Alert!

Summary

The bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series transports readers to a darkly whimsical world where strange magic threatens a quiet village that only a courageous woman can save.

Matrona lives in an isolated village, where her life is centered on pleasing her parents. She’s diligent in her chores and has agreed to marry a man of their choosing. But a visit to Slava, the local tradesman, threatens to upend her entire life.

Entering his empty house, Matrona discovers a strange collection of painted nesting dolls—one for every villager. Fascinated, she can’t resist the urge to open the doll with her father’s face. But when her father begins acting strangely, she realizes Slava’s dolls are much more than they seem.

When he learns what she’s done, Slava seizes the opportunity to give Matrona stewardship over the dolls—whether she wants it or not. Forced to open one of her own dolls every three days, she falls deeper into the grim power of Slava’s creations. But nothing can prepare her for the profound secret hiding inside the fifth doll. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

The Fifth Doll is one of my favorite stories by Holmberg. It contains a beautiful magic system and has unexpected layers. One of the reasons I love it is because I visited Russia many years ago and it reminds me of my time there. You won’t need to go to Russia to enjoy this story.

Matrona feels lost in her world. She wants to be loved but there is a barrier to her getting what she wants. Her sister disappeared, and she wonders if that is why her parents, and particularly her mother, are distant. Her fiancé has never kissed her. Why does he want to marry her? Then there is the young man who she can’t stop thinking about. At least her secret is safe. Or is it?

Jaska’s life has been filled with pain. The village has shunned his family, his mother is insane, and his father a drunkard. What would he be willing to sacrifice to understand the world around him? Would he give up his secrets?

I highly recommend this book.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star
  • Michelle

If you loved The Fifth Doll, try Enchantment by Orson Scott Card and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

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Midsummer’s Mayhem – A Baking Delight With A Dash of Shakespeare

Midsummer’s Mayhem

By Rajani LaRocca

Spoiler Alert!

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Summary

Can Mimi undo the mayhem caused by her baking in this contemporary-fantasy retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

Eleven-year-old Mimi Mackson comes from a big Indian American family: Dad’s a renowned food writer, Mom’s a successful businesswoman, and her three older siblings all have their own respective accomplishments. It’s easy to feel invisible in such an impressive family, but Mimi’s dream of proving she’s not the least-talented member of her family seems possible when she discovers a contest at the new bakery in town. Plus, it’ll start her on the path to becoming a celebrity chef like her culinary idol, Puffy Fay.

But when Mimi’s dad returns from a business trip, he’s mysteriously lost his highly honed sense of taste. Without his help, Mimi will never be able to bake something impressive enough to propel her to gastronomic fame.

Drawn into the woods behind her house by a strangely familiar song, Mimi meets Vik, a boy who brings her to parts of the forest she’s never seen. Who knew there were banyan trees and wild boars in Massachusetts? Together they discover exotic ingredients and bake them into delectable and enchanting treats.

But as her dad acts stranger every day, and her siblings’ romantic entanglements cause trouble in their town, Mimi begins to wonder whether the ingredients she and Vik found are somehow the cause of it all. She needs to use her skills, deductive and epicurean, to uncover what’s happened. In the process, she learns that in life, as in baking, not everything is sweet. . . . (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

I loved Mimi! She has such a passion for baking but doubts herself. Even with her doubts, she presses forward and tries. She is also kind, energetic, and deeply wants a friend. There are clues and concerns. Her dad isn’t himself, her siblings are in love (one with himself), and the neighbor keeps stopping by. If it wasn’t for her new friend she’d be lost. I love how the book centers on family and friends. Her new friend Vik has some secrets of his own. I liked how he has a strong motivation for all of his actions. I think kids will question if he is good or bad but will be happy by the end.

This would be such a fun book for kids to read after seeing A Midsummer Night. They would love picking out the characters and events. LaRocca is masterful in her story, both incorporating Shakespeare’s tale and writing a new storyline centered around middle-graders fear and love.

I wish the book included some recipes. Everything Mimi made sounded so delicious, I want to try making them.

This is an excellent debut novel and I highly recommend it.

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

If you loved Midsummer’s Mayhem, try The Dragon With a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis and The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol.

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

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Myths and Mortals – What Are the Beasts?

Myths and Mortal
Numina Series

By Charlie Holmberg

Spoiler Alert!

 

Summary

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Charlie N. Holmberg builds her bewitching world of beasts and betrayal as the Numina Series continues.

Sandis has escaped Kazen’s grasp, but she finds herself unmoored, reeling from her thief friend Rone’s betrayal.

Kazen has been hurt but not stopped, and he’ll do anything to summon the monster that could lay waste to the entire world. Sandis knows she must be the one to stop him, but with her own trusted numen now bound to another, and finding herself with no one she can trust, she is in desperate need of allies. Rone seems determined to help her, but Sandis has no intention of letting him get close to her again. What she doesn’t know is how much Rone gave up to protect her. Or how much more he is willing to give up to keep her safe.

As chaos mounts, Sandis must determine whom to trust. After all, the lines between enemy and ally have never been less clear…and corruption lurks in the most unlikely of places. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)

Adult Point of View

One of the best things about this book is that Sandis is angry at Rone! It is too easy for an author to have the characters forgive each other too quickly. Sandis is justifiably angry and she sustains her feelings even as Rone is trying to heal the breach in their relationship. I love it when Sandis tells him if he’d asked her to go back to Kazen, she would have, but he didn’t ask. He, of course, feels like the dirt on the bottom of a slimy slug.

I also loved how Holmberg sustains the urgency, and even increases it. This isn’t a middle novel that drags. It is full of new problems, surprises, and definitely some big twists. By the end, I think I know where she’s going with it, but I have to admit, I’m probably wrong. I’m looking forward to the next release.

The big question for me at the beginning of the series was “What are the beasts possessing their bodies?” Each of the beasts has a different strength and lives in a different dimension. In this installment, a little bit more is revealed – but you’ll have to read the book to find that out. I’ll just say, it is a twist I didn’t see coming, but it fits perfectly in the world.

I recommend this book for young adults over sixteen. I think it’s a little complex for younger children. (There is cursing, violence, murder, and nudity – but no sex.)

5 out of 5 stars

5 star

  • Michelle

If you loved Myths and Mortals, try The Darkwater Sage by Patrick W. Carr and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.

If you can’t find anything to read, send me a message, and I’ll help you find a book. The world is full of adventure, and we all deserve to live it.

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