The Destruction of Lord Raglan by Christopher Hibbert was a pretty good look at the Crimean War. There were a lot of small details to let you really feel what the war was like, and to give you a feel of the English soldiers. The Charge of the Light Brigade is covered, of course, as are the negative relationships between some of the British senior officers. It’s a relatively short read, although somewhat depressing.
The Madcap Heiress by Emily Hendrickson was a good Regency, part of her latest series about a set of siblings. Nothing major to write home about, except for the totally creepy suitor. My only real complaint about the book is that it wraps up and ends far too abruptly, when I would have liked to see a little more.
Seduced By A Spy by Andrea Pickens was also a Regency, although Pickens has graduated to the ‘big Regency’ (a standard size paperback, as opposed to the smaller Zebra/Signet Regencies). It’s pretty entertaining, although none of the plot turns are too unexpected, with the exception of who the culprit is. The series idea (Regency-era James Bond female types) is pretty entertaining, and well-executed in this one.
Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts – I usually am not too interested in the modern romances, but despite the fact that they’re like popcorn, Nora Roberts is hard to turn down. One of the things I really enjoy about the books is how she handles characterizations, even for fairly minor characters. It’s very evident in the Eve Dallas series, with the rather large revolving cast, but well-done in this book as well. If you like her stuff, you’ll probably like this, and the heroine does kick some ass. My only real quibble is that the bad guy is VERY obvious. I was expecting some sort of weird twist, but did end up being who I thought it was all along. Still definitely worth the read.
An Arranged Marriage by Jo Beverley is the first book in the Company of Rogues series. I already knew what had to happen as far as the larger story, but it was worth the read.
Big Green Purse by Diane MacEachern is a pretty informative book about how women can shop smartly to have an impact on the environment. It’s well worth reading to see how you can make a difference with what you have to buy, by choosing to spend your money on products that aren’t too harmful – for the environment or your pocketbook. I’m trying some of the suggestions out.
Vienna 1814 by David King was a fascinating read, full of personal and historical details about the Congress of Vienna. Dishy, but gives the historical details you need to make sense of things. The quotes that open each chapter are a nice choice as well. I particularly liked Napoleon’s quote concerning his mistakes with Talleyrand – not listening to him, and not having him hanged. He also weaves in the events around Napoleon’s escape from Elba. This should be on the to-read list for Regency fans, since the Congress of Vienna and the Napoleonic Wars provide major backdrops for that genre. Definitely worth buying in hardcover.
Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts is the first book of a trilogy, and I think it rocked, despite not really being into the moderns. Her modern books are about the only ones I really enjoy. It’s a little unusual for a romance trilogy in that the trilogy’s couples are all 3 paired off in this book, although the bulk of the book is devoted to Couple #1. Usually romance series don’t introduce all the couples in one book. It seems to be her attempt to benefit from the rise of the paranormal romances, but it’s better than a lot of the stuff out there. The next one is out now, I think, but I’m saving it for my deployment. I trust her not to disappoint me.
Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America by Charlotte Waismann and Jill Tietjen is informative and gorgeous. It’s a chronology with a decent amount of information, but the pictures that accompany the text are wonderful for giving the reader a sense of connection to the facts. I would say it’s a great idea for a Mother’s Day gift, especially if the mom in question likes history. I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to share these kind of things with her.
Great American Hypocrites by Glenn Greenwald was very good. It points out hypocrisy on the right, the sort of IOKIYAR attitude that irritates me (It’s OK If You’re A Republican), the idea that the men who represent “family values” have had more than one spouse, several of them have had nasty divorces, very few of them have served in the military – yet they blather on about defending the sanctity of marriage from same-sex marriage and get us involved in more wars. If you’re of a liberal bent, you’ll probably enjoy it – if you think Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich are great guys, you probably won’t.
I read a couple of YA books this weekend to clear out both the to-read pile and my brain.
Lastly, I read two delightful Georgette Heyer romances: Black Sheep and Lady of Quality. Both were very, very good, but Lady of Quality edged out Black Sheep slightly. Both books take place in Bath, rather than London, and show that smaller society. Both also deal with women of independent means who have their own establishments, and both have young female side characters who provide a lot of entertainment. Black Sheep’s only flaw is that it seems as if it ends very abruptly. Lady of Quality’s hero, Oliver Carleton, was fantastic. He doesn't get all tripped up in flummery, but is plain-spoken to the point of rudeness. Of course, he has tons of money, which lets him be this way. He's honest, and a good match for the heroine.
I loved the words that Heyer put in his mouth about marriage, declaring that he could not promise they would always have a happy marriage, but that he could promise he wanted to marry no one but the heroine. Maybe not flowery and romantic, but true. Every time I see someone bash romance novels (and yes, there are a lot that do deserve bashing and mocking), I want to hand them a Heyer novel and change their mind.