Recountings

hooray for Deb Grantham!

***mild spoilers ahead***

I’ve ranted and raved about the Heyer in which the heroine shoots the hero. How about the Heyer in which the heroine kidnaps the hero? Guys. I am ALL over that.

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Faro’s Daughter

by YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHO

So let me set this raving and rambling post up: Miss Deborah Grantham has ended up – through no fault of her own – assisting her aunt in running a gambling establishment. There’s a young lord – Adrian – who has fallen in love with her and the young lord’s cousin – Mr. Max Ravenscar – who is determined to stop him from marrying Deb.

He meets with Deb Grantham. And in the process of doing this, He With The Suitably Wonderous Name (Ravenscar, people. RAVENSCAR) manages to thoroughly and completely offend her.

Deb Grantham  – who was never even considering marrying Adrian – vows to make Ravenscar pay, by pretending to do the very thing. Because obviously that is the only option – nay! the only reasonable course of action.

She doesn’t like Ravenscar. She detests him. If he were a slug, she’d dump a whole bag of salt on him.

“Oh, if I were a man, to be able to call him out, and run him through, and through, and through!”

Lady Bellingham [Deb’s Aunt], who appeared quite shattered, said feebly that you could not run a man through three times.

“At least, I don’t think so,” she added. “Of course, I never was present at a duel, but there are always seconds, you know, and they would be bound to stop you.”

“Nobody would stop me!” declared Miss Grantham blood-thirstily. “I would like to carve him into mincemeat!”

Miss Grantham, by the way, is quintessentially awesome. (Also, she is sort of falling in love with Ravenscar, but don’t tell her that.)

Ravenscar has an incredibly low opinion of her – and makes it known. So Miss Grantham has …

A strong inclination to burst into tears accompanied these more violent ambitions, and was followed almost immediately by a resolve to punish Mr Ravenscar in the most vindictive way open to her, and a perfectly irrational determination to show him that she was every bit as bad as he imagined her to be, if not worse.

I am rubbing my hands together gleefully, folks. GLEE. FULL. Y.

WITH MANY OTHER THINGS HAPPENING TOO – a bet, a runaway etc etc … Ravenscar attempts to pay Miss Grantham off.

As you can imagine, it does not go down well.

Miss Grantham’s scheme grows more and more outrageous – and hilarious. And it all culminates in one perfectly delicious series of events. (A KIDNAPPING!! A HILARIOUS KIDNAPPING IN A MANNER THAT ONLY HEYER COULD PULL OFF! I will leave you the following quote to whet your appetite:

‘Will you have some more wine, sir?’ asked Deborah, apparently conscious of her duties as his hostess.

‘No,’ said Ravenscar baldly.

‘You are not very polite!’ she said.

‘I do not feel very polite. If you care to untie my ankles, however, I will engage to offer you my chair.’

My dudes, read this one. It’s hysterical. It’s witty. It’s a romantic comedy with the best of them. An entire blacksmith’s forge worth of sparks fly between the main characters. I love it – and you will too.

(ALSO THE HEROINE KIDNAPS THE HERO. DID I MENTION THAT?)

Books, Recountings

recountings: kissing little john

I had a serious post planned for today. But then I finished reading Scarlet and thought: let’s do a recounting. So this is me, recounting my thoughts on a YA re-telling. The subject matter? One of my all time favourite heroes. Let’s plunge in …

*** spoilers abound, opinions are my own (IT IS I AND NOT THE VOICES), read at your own risk etc etc ***

scarletScarlet

by A. C. Gaughen

Will Scarlet is a girl. Now, far be it from me to disparage any creative re-telling of a well-known story. Will Scarlet being a girl with guts (metaphorical and literal ones) is an interesting and intriguing take on the tale of Robin Hood.

And yes, this is a Robin Hood re-telling. And … it was okay.

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Scarlet is the first book in a trilogy and I’m rather certain that I won’t be reading any further. Why? Because … I have a few problems with this book.

Lip Smushin’ With Little John

There is a love triangle between Little John, Rob and Scar. That doesn’t sound too awful, does it? (Love triangles are as painful as a paper cut, but they can sometimes, occasionally, very rarely be bearable)  Let me translate: that’s LITTLE JOHN, ROBIN HOOD AND MAID MARIAN.

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I know. I know. I suppose I could write many lengthy paragraphs dedicated to the sheer awful, heinousness of the very idea of Little John being a love interest of Maid Marian’s, but I shan’t. And perhaps I overreacted a little (cough) but by golly, I grew up with Robin Hood as my childhood hero and future husband. Some things just shouldn’t be done. This is one of them.

Gisbourne’s Motivating Motivation

He wishes to heap extreme unhappiness upon Scarlet’s head. Why? Because she wouldn’t marry him. What does he do? Scours the country for her in a bright red haze of a lunatic’s vengeance.

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Dude. There’s a point where you have to give it a rest, and move on. There’s more to life than a young teenager who literally fled her home to avoid you. Take a hint. Think of your mental health. And your dignity.

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Rob. Dude. Get Over Yourself

Gaughen went with a more Brooding Robin Hood. He walks about as though Atlas thought: ‘to heck with this! lemme find a mortal to plonk the world on his shoulders. OHH LOOK A BLOKE WEARING GREEN!’

It’s a personal preference of mine but I like a more light-hearted, cheerful Robin Hood. Sure, there can be sadness and Moods of The Serious Kind – and there often is – but Robin Hood is not Batman; he laughs more than once a year.

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And, more importantly, Robin Hood would never say this to Marian (and I suppose, in a way, he did in this book BUT STILL!):

‘Hurting you is the best way I know to punish myself’

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I refuse to accept this as a valid reason for verbal annihilation

Your logic, my dear, is so beyond illogical that illogical logic laughs in your general direction and makes several biting remarks regarding your intelligence. In what world is that phrase acceptable? None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

I would suggest returning to the classroom and learning about a) Human Decency, b) Emotional Intelligence and c) Communicating With Humans 101.

In Short …

Scarlet wasn’t for me. It wasn’t my cup of tea or my kind of Robin Hood. It had traces of the legend I love so dearly and a heroine who had wicked ninja skills, but alas, it didn’t quite hit bullseye.

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scarlet can be found on: goodreads // amazon

Books, I think I just rambled, Recountings

Bookish Influences: The One That Cost Me an Arm and a Leg

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via Pinterest

Alright, I’ll admit it – a book made me purchase a violin. Which, of course, probably says more about me than I’m comfortable with admitting.

[cough *gullible* cough *easily influenced* cough]

In my defense, read this and see if you don’t want an instrument that understands you and …

… instead of playing any of my classical pieces I drifted into improvising as I went along, and then, as my thoughts took me far away, I gave myself up to them entirely. ‘Dwell deep’ was ringing softly but clearly in my ears. Storms could come and storms could go, but in all and through all were those two little words of peace and quiet. And my violin was with me, and understood my mood. I don’t know how long I played, but when I came to myself and surroundings, soothed and comforted in spirit, I found them all staring at me in astonishment.

The violin understands her. Her moods are translated into sound. Is it any wonder that I purchased a violin? Is it any wonder that I wished to do the same?

But alas, I found to my surprise that … well, to be perfectly honest, Fiction doesn’t always meld well with Real Life. The eardrums of my poor family will attest to this. I can only say that if Heinrich – my violin – truly did translate my moods, than I am in dire need of therapy. Dire need.

What book was this that prompted such expense, such existential crises brought on by Heinrich?

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Dwell Deep

by Amy Le Feuvre

I suppose that I ought to delve into the basic plot. It is thus: a newly converted Christian [Hilda Thorn] goes to live with her non-Christian guardian and his family in the country. Morals and Principles clash and through many trials, Hilda Thorn learns to ‘dwell deep’ as it says in Isaiah.

Now look, here is the link to Dwell Deep – go ahead and read it if you do not want mild spoilers, but otherwise, let us commence this recounting/bookish influence post.

I must admit that I’m not going to talk about the trials that Hilda endures because of her new-found faith. But I’d better note that they are good, encouraging and some of the things she doesn’t do – like dancing – are a matter of conscience. But on the whole, her journey is one that I found to be inspiring.

I’ve already told you of how Dwell Deep influenced me, or rather, influenced me into emptying my bank account with the purchase of Heinrich, who was either the wrong violin for me, or I the wrong musician for him. (Or rather, the wrong untalented musician for him).

Now let’s move onto the Recounting side of things. Or, as I like to call it: my Pet Rant.

My Pet Rant

Kenneth is the son of Hilda’s guardian. This book would not be one that I enjoyed without Kenneth. He teases Hilda, calls her ‘Goody-Two-Shoes’, and watches her narrowly for any chance of slipping up and becoming a hypocrite. He’s just … Kenneth.

‘I don’t think she possesses a temper,’ put in Kenneth. ‘I know for a fact that I often lose mine in trying to make her lose hers!’

It’s a typical case of a boy provoking a girl because he likes her. The proverbial ‘Pigtail Pulling’ and I can’t deny that a delighted part of me whispers: dawww, he wuvs her.

‘Why do you love to make people uncomfortable if you can?’ I said in desperation to him, after he had been chaffing me unmercifully on the same subject before a lot of people in the drawing-room one afternoon.

‘Because it is my nature to, I suppose,’ he retorted. ‘I don’t think anything would make you uncomfortable, Goody! You go serenely on your way, wrapped in a cloak of supreme self-content and satisfaction. Except for bringing a little extra pink colour into your cheeks, which I like to see, no words of mine can ever stir you.’

See?

But alas. A new player appears on the stage. His name is Philip Stanton and he is Perfect For Hilda. Naturally, he and Hilda fall in love.

Now, I would like to make it clear that it is not that I dislike him, he is after all, a good gentleman, a Christian and seems to be a decent sort of chap. And yet – and I’ve just noticed this – he calls Hilda ‘his darling child’. Child. That’s worse than ‘babe’.

Ahem. Anyway, they fall in love and drama ensues when he disappears and will they ever see each other again?

(Hopefully not.)

I am a firm believer that Hilda and Kenneth were the perfect match and nothing can tell me otherwise. Philip, you say? Philip who?

‘There are moments, Goody Two-Shoes, when you and your fiddle are before my eyes, that I think I should like to marry you and take you away with me somewhere where you should charm me with those strains continually. Don’t look so frightened. We understand each other. I know you wouldn’t dream of having me, so I am never going to ask you.’

Hilda, you should have waited for him. People change and he could have. Why?!!! You belonged together. Or rather, he needed someone and that someone was you. (I have decreed it, so it must be so.)

And yes, I am passionate about books which are old and no one else seems to have heard of. Join me next week for my recounting of The Rose-Garden Husband, and the week after that: He Fell In Love With His Wife (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the ah-may-zing plot twist. But here’s a clue: he falls in love with someone who he is possibly wed to. It’s like, totally unexpected).heinrichmylove

In the mean time, Heinrich sits, neglected, tucked between my bookshelf and my black leather chair that only ever seems to hold my childhood soft toys, or if I’m in an untidy mood, an array of clothing and books and papers which I fondly call ‘My Doom’.

I’m so, so sorry Heinrich. But do not be frightened – I’ll wring a mood out of you yet, even if it takes me a thousand tries of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.

Books, I think I just rambled, Recountings

Recountings: A bone! I have a bone to pick!

Mary Stewart is a favourite of mine. However, I have a bone to pick with her. Oh, and what is below has spoilers. You have been warned.

This isn’t a review. It’s a Recounting.

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First, the blurb from Goodreads. (One must always have a blurb.)

Lovely Vanessa March, two years married and very much in love, did not think it was a strange for her husband to take a business trip to Stockholm. What was strange was the silence that followed. She never thought to look for her missing husband in Vienna — until she saw him in a newsreel shot there at the scene of a deadly fire. Then she caught a glimpse of him in a newsreel shot of a crowd near a mysterious circus fire and knew it was more than strange. It was downright sinister.

Vanessa is propelled to Vienna by the shocking discovery. In her charge is young Timothy Lacy, who also has urgent problems to solve. But her hunt for answers only leads to more sinister questions in a mysterious world of white stallions of Vienna. But what promises to be no more than a delicate personal mission turns out to involve the security forces of three countries, two dead men, a circus and its colourful personnel. And what waits for Vanessa in the shadows is more terrifying than anything she has ever encountered.

Airs Above The Ground is an exciting book with plenty of adventure, wonderful writing and a sensible heroine who is, to my immense satisfaction, married. I quite like books in which the heroine is married. I’m not entirely sure why.

Lewis, the Husband, is the epitome of dashing and debonair. BUT – and here is my bone – I wish that he wasn’t so, so chauvinistically inclined. Oh, he doesn’t mean to be, to be sure. He is a classic Hero. But, by golly, I wish that Vanessa would be less … less, I don’t know, willing to step back and let Lewis sort it all out?

To be sure, he is much more able to deal with the Villainous Villains. Indeed, Vanessa is probably quite right in letting him take over. It is, in fact, entirely realistic for her to do so. He has much more experience in doing such things than she.

But it doesn’t stop me wishing that she wouldn’t. It doesn’t stop me wishing that, in the final show down, she took down all the Villainous Villains by herself with hitherto unknown ninja skills or sudden inspiration or intrepid daring, or a mixture of all three. Instead, she fights the poker-bearing woman who’s angry about the damage done to her kitchen. And her dish. Her beautiful dish.

“My dish! My dish!” It was only later that Lewis translated for me, but the source of her emotion was unmistakable. “My beautiful dish! You destroy my house! Burglar! Assassin!”  And, poker raised high, she bore down on Lewis. 

Bone picking and lack-of-ninja-skills aside, this book has horses! Secret identities! Tension! Lots and lots of tension! Chases! Nail biting chases! A circus! Villainous Villains!

And it also has Timothy. I love Timothy.

“What sort of gun is it?” 

“Beretta .32,” said Lewis, and I heard Timothy give a long sigh of pure happiness. 

I still wish that Vanessa developed ninja skills though.