Camp NaNoWriMo – July 2017 Intro

 

Kermit-Writing
Source: Pinterest

 

That’s right! I’m working on a new novel! Camp NaNoWriMo starts today, and I’ve decided to push The Everest Chronicles off to the side a bit to work on something new.

Last November, during NaNoWriMo proper, I had a dream that turned into 13 handwritten pages of something, which I then tucked away so I could focus on the project I was trying to work on at the time. I’m not going to reveal a whole lot about what occurred in the dream because that would give away the entire plot of the book. In fact, I’m going to keep this project fairly secret. Seriously. I shared the dream notes with one of my sisters back in November, and I just told one of my writing buddy friends about it last week. No one else knows anything about anything. I will say though, that it is a Regency Romance, and that for citing purposes I’ll be referring to it as Aunt Bea’s Pearls.

I’d like to write 25,000 words towards it this month. I’m only doing half the normal goal because I have a hundred other things to write this month, what with my birthday and the TOTY (Theme-Of-The-Year) going live among other cool projects for the blog. I’m excited! It should be a fairly intense month of writing, trying to balance fiction and blog posts while still getting my reading done for book reviews, but I think I’m up to it.

And honestly, I need something to distract myself until September when Grad School starts because I am B-O-R-E-D and my job search is going nowhere fast.

 

My writing buddy, and one of my oldest friends, Shannon is going to be doing Camp NaNoWriMo with me, so I am very excited to get started. I’ve been doing writing exercises for the last week trying to stretch my brain into shape so I can use my imagination to it’s fullest potential. Fun times.

You can expect writing updates just like last November here on the blog in the coming weeks. I’m planning to post them on Saturdays this time around if that works for you guys.

Until next week, good luck and happy writing!

~Amanda

Cotillion – Georgette Heyer

Cotillion-Georgette-Heyer

Source: ThriftBooks

Kitty Charing is set to inherit the immense fortune of her scrooge of a guardian, a man who adopted her after his childhood friend, Kitty’s father, passed away. There’s only one catch: Miss Charing must marry one of the old man’s great nephews, or the whole of the fortune will be donated and Kitty left penniless when her guardian passes.

 

If you’ve never read a Regency Romance written by Georgette Heyer, go and order one right away. Heyer, the author of over 54 novels, is known primarily as the “inventor” of the Regency Romance subgenre. Unlike Jane Austen, who was technically writing contemporaries because she wrote about the time period in which she herself lived, Georgette Heyer wasn’t even born until 1902, and published her first book in 1921. Her works are unlike the Regency Romances of today in that there are actually very few romantic scenes: the books usually end with a kiss – that’s it. Today’s RR’s are more typically full of heavy romance scenes early on, and then characters dealing with the fallout.

Georgette Heyer’s stories are enveloped in the high society of the 17-1800’s, where one wrong move would get you banned from the London social season (also known as the ‘marriage market’) and ruin your societal standing in a single blow. She is well known for her historical accuracy, often explaining clothing, etiquette, and society for the benefit of the reader in ways that Jane Austen would have taken for granted that her readers understood.

 

What I’m saying is, Georgette Heyer’s Regency Romances are basically the Romantic Comedies of the 1920’s-70’s. Often hysterically funny and filled with character miscommunications, a trip through a Georgette Heyer book is never anything but highly entertaining. It’s no wonder that her books sold well even during the Great Depression.

Cotillion, in particular, is one of my favorites although The Nonesuch, Bath Tangle and Sprig Muslin are close front runners as well.  Some readers may feel they need a dictionary in order to understand the period-specific talk, but it’s actually fairly simple to get the gist of the phrasing, even if you don’t know the actual definition. For example, a ‘dashed ivory-turner’ is another way of calling someone a professional gambler.

In Cotillion, we follow Catherine Charing, who believes she is about to become a wealthy heiress, as well as five of Uncle Matthew’s great nephews, four of whom remain unmarried at the time at which Uncle Matthew makes his announcement that Kitty must marry one of them. The mayhem itself is entertaining, but as always the slow turn of the romance is fascinating to watch. You’re left wondering until the last pages who she will choose to marry, if anyone at all, and in between fending off of various romantic advances, Kitty gets up to some trouble of her own.

Overall I quite enjoyed this book, even if this was my 4th or 5th time reading it. Recommended to anyone who enjoys miscommunication stories and romances.

 

Highlights and Hot Chocolate Rating: 4.5 Stars

Only Beloved (The Survivors' Club, #7) – Mary Balogh

only-beloved-mary-balogh

Source: Goodreads

George, Duke of Stanbrook and the figurehead of the self-styled Survivors’ Club, is feeling lonely. All of his compatriots have found love and are building their lives back up. He worries that they won’t need him anymore and he’ll live alone at Penderris Hall for eternity. Then he lights upon an idea that could change everything.

Dora Debbins is perfectly happy being a small town music teacher. An established spinster, she finds joy in teaching the young of Inglebrook as well as Lord and Lady Darleigh the fine art of music. She gardens, and when her sister lived with her, would enjoy chatting and drinking tea on a rainy afternoon. Now that her sister has married, Dora feels lonely, and her mind keeps wandering back to the gentleman she met around the same time her sister met her now husband. It could never be, but a little daydreaming never hurt anyone. That is until her daydreams suddenly become reality and Dora is thrust into a marriage she never expected and a world she never imagined.

George and Dora! I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been wishing and hoping they would get together ever since book four when we met her. Dora is just too sweet for words, and I am simply elated that George is going to try and be happy again.

Bullheadedness aside, George got super complex in this book. Like woah. And there are so many plot twists. No one saw those coming. No. One. This book actually becomes quite dark in places. Much darker than the previous books. Dora’s lightness of personality becomes a metaphorical guiding light to George, who is stuck in this dark place of misery. It all feels terribly serious while you’re reading it. Tissues probably needed.

I’m incredibly sad that this series is ending, but also extremely excited for whatever Mary Balogh writes next. This book not only serves as George’s story, but it also wraps up the previous six stories. THERE’S EVEN AN EPILOGUE. I CRIED. HAPPY. TEARS. It’s beautiful. This is how a good book series should end.

HHC Rating: 5 stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – The Proposal
Book #2 – The Arrangement
Book #3 – The Escape
Book #4 – Only Enchanting
Book #5 – Only A Promise
Book #6 – Only A Kiss

The Wedding Duel (Dueling Pistols, #1) – Katy Madison

the-wedding-duel-katy-madison
Source: Goodreads

Keene Davies is set to duel his one-time friend over the honor of their common best friend’s new wife. His brother’s old friend will stand as his second, but John has a secret up his sleeve. He’s brought a pair of cursed pistols to be used in the duel. The legend tells that the true winner will live happily ever after; something Keene has never intended to do.

After the duel goes awry with John’s help, Keene’s father forces him into marriage to Sophie Farthing, his rambunctious and forever in trouble cousin. Sophie knows that her prudish parents want to marry her off, but never did she suspect it would be to Keene, her childhood rescuer.

Sophie and Keene’s relationship is interesting enough to make the book, but the author actually splits the story, so we also follow Keene’s friends George and Victor, as well as George’s wife, Amelia. Jumping between points of view, Madison does a fantastic job of weaving everyone’s stories together in ever more complex ways. The number of twists this story takes while still holding onto the central two issues is astounding, and I could never quite put it down, or put it out of my mind when I wasn’t reading it. I took it out to read everywhere I went, and not all them were appropriate places for reading a romance book. At least I was reading it via iBooks, so no one could tell what exactly I was reading unless they peered over my shoulder.

My only issue with the book is that the miscommunication between Keene and Sophie was dragged out for far, far too long. One of them should have caught on sooner. It was a bit unbelievable, but at the same time, miscommunication is what happens when people don’t outright say what they mean. Sure, George and Amelia take forever to resolve their issues as well, but their’s is a much more legitimate thing to be fighting about for the 4-6 month time period during which the book takes place.

Overall, I really enjoyed it, and heartily recommend it for those over the age of 16.

HHC Rating: 3.75 stars

Only a Kiss (The Survivors' Club, #6) – Mary Balogh

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via Goodreads

Imogen, Lady Barclay, is adjusting slowly to living alone with her elderly female family members and their horde of stray animals. She is hoping to move into the dowager house as soon as the roof gets fixed, and is looking forward to starting a garden.

Percival Hayes, the Earl of Hardford and the new Lord Barclay, realizes that he will have to visit his estate in Cornwall eventually, but he never expects to find so many people and animals living there. Setting up an estate takes a lot more work than Percy realized, and before he can begin to decide what to do, things begin happening. Mysterious things that nobody will explain to him, and it is soon up to Percy and Imogen to solve the mystery of what or who is trying to run them off the estate.

I recently checked this out of my library so I could refresh my memory before writing this review, and also because my mom hadn’t read it yet. Wouldn’t you know it, but she lost the book. We haven’t lost a library book since I was maybe 6 or 8, so this is really quite frustrating. Not to mention that I hadn’t gotten around to writing this review yet, so now I have to go by memory.

This book has a lot of elements. Multiple houses and family members, not to mention an entire town full of people. This book easily wins the award for ‘biggest cast’ of the series. Also, there are a million stray animals and PIRATES. This book is not just a romance, but also a full-on mystery novel. It was very cool.The chemistry between Imogen and Percy was quite good. I tend to think of Imogen as a young and slightly more roughed up but less strict Professor McGonagall (from

The chemistry between Imogen and Percy was quite good. I tend to think of Imogen as a young and slightly more roughed up yet less strict Professor McGonagall (from Harry Potter). She’s delightful in a serious kind of way that just really makes her endearing and spunky at the same time.

Percy, for a character we are just meeting, is extremely well developed, and there were times when I felt we almost knew him better than Imogen. Not to mention that Percy is the only male lead who is not a member of the Survivors’ Club, which, thankfully, doesn’t seem to phase him that much.

Overall, I would recommend it, especially if you’ve been loving the series so far! As with all of Balogh’s books, this series just gets better and better.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – The Proposal
Book #2 – The Arrangement
Book #3 – The Escape
Book #4 – Only Enchanting
Book #5 – Only A Promise
Book #7 – Only Beloved

Only a Promise (The Survivors' Club, #5) – Mary Balogh

Only-A-Promise-Mary-Balogh

Source: Goodreads

Ralph Stockwood escaped the Napoleonic Wars with only the scars on his body. He lived. But he can never forgive himself for the friends who didn’t. Being a member of the Survivors’ Club has helped Ralph keep his head up, but even they can’t help him find his way forward in a world so full of the change that he detests.

After a few London seasons and a scandal that she won’t soon forget, Chloe Muirhead never wants to see the city again. She keeps telling herself that she is perfectly happy being a companion to her grandmother’s best friend, the Duchess of Worthingham, who lives a quiet life in the country. But deep down she knows that’s not true, and when an opportunity comes knocking, Chloe finds that she cannot say no. She only asks that Ralph makes her one promise: that he will never make her return to London.

This fifth novel in Mary Balogh’s best selling Survivor’s Club series is tied with the fourth, Only Enchanting, for being my favorite. Phoebe is possibly my favorite of the heroines. She is spirited and witty, and that’s always nice in a historical fiction. While this story focuses more on the secrets people keep than forgiveness, both are essential to the plot of the series as a whole. Phoebe never wants to return to town, and while Ralph doesn’t particularly care, he is a man of duty, and this causes numerous problems.

Near the end of the book, there is a large party and the much of the ton is in attendance. It may be the only real ton party we see in the series actually, I forget, but at this party we get little cameos from not one, not two, but three of the Bedwyns! The Bedwyn family makes up the central characters of Balogh’s Slightly series, which is one of my absolute all-time romance favorites. I think I actually shrieked when I saw their names on the page. It’s crazy that after reading the Slightly series nearly 5 years ago I would still recognize their names, but I did! I might have actually shed a single tear of happiness as well, just because I was so excited. The Bedwyns and their dry humor are just fantastic and never fail to make me smile.

The romance, miscommunication, secrecy, and mistrust are simply so well done in this book, and the character development is superb. Highly, highly recommend.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – The Proposal
Book #2 – The Arrangement
Book #3 – The Escape
Book #4 – Only Enchanting
Book #6 – Only A Kiss
Book #7 – Only Beloved

The Fairy Tale Bride (Once Upon a Wedding, #1) – Kelly McClymer

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Source: Goodreads

Simon, Duke of Kerstone, has returned after five years at war. He’s changed since he was last in England. His hopes for a future of happiness have been replaced by a new plan for freedom, and he only needs to wait six months to put them into action.

Everything is going perfectly until Miranda shows up. The girl he’d planned to wed is still unmarried, and soon in need of help. but Miranda believes in fairy tales and refuses to accept that some things cannot be changed. Will Simon choose Miranda over his freedom? or will both their dreams for a happily-ever-after never see the light of day?

I began this book assuming the characters would be borrowed from fairy tales and repurposed for the story, but I was mistaken. The only fairy tale elements, unless you count a passing likeness of Simon and Miranda to Beauty and the Beast, are brief references Miranda makes to different stories here and there, as well as little ice sculptures at a party that look like fairytale couples. Otherwise, this is a good-old historical romance, with the caveat the Miranda is expressly looking for a fairy tale happily-ever-after.

On a general level, the story was good. If we’re going to nit-pick though, I thought they told the reader Simon’s secret too soon, resulting in the reader knowing for most of the book, when it would have made better sense for us to find out when Miranda does. I also had a hard time near the end with some of the scenes because it skipped around a lot, and there are some scenes we needed from Simon’s point of view that we didn’t get, resulting in me as the reader being confused and frustrated, and overall a bit disappointed.  I would recommend it to anyone who reads a lot fo historical romances, simply because the storyline was intriguing, and I think they would find it rather enjoyable and interesting, excepting, of course, the quick wrap-up at the end.

HHC Rating: 3 Stars