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moonlightreader

Moonlight Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

Wait for What Will Come

Wait for What Will Come - Barbara Michaels

This is my third Barbara Michaels - I participated in the Ammie Come Home buddy read last year for Halloween bingo, which was so much fun, and I read Be Buried in the Rain, which has a terrifying southern gothic vibe going on, as it is set in Virginia.

 

Wait for What Will Come was set in Cornwall, which is well-trod ground for the gothic romance indeed. And while I will say that this book was FAR SUPERIOR to Cousin Kate insofar as its gothic bonafides are concerned, it was rather humdrum in comparison to Ammie and Rain.

 

However, I picked the book, and I knew about the Cornwall setting, so I can't really complain that I got fog and cliffs and smugglers and coves and legends related to the sea. And parts of this book were really quite chilling, even though in my jaded old age none of the old gothics are nearly so scary as they used to be!

 

 

But that doesn't mean that I don't love them.

 

This one also had a fabulous orange tabby tom named King Carter who is instrumental in saving the heroine from certain doooooom.

 

Related image

 

Like this guy.

 

Quite enjoyable. I think that Michaels is one of the best at plotting stories that are genuinely scary. 

Reading progress update: I've read 40%.

Wait for What Will Come - Barbara Michaels

Cue the scary music:

 

She took a few more faltering steps; and then a sharp reverberant knock sounded from somewhere close at hand. Carla’s cosmetic bag dropped from her nerveless fingers and she turned in the direction from which the sound had come. Her head was spinning and her knees had gone wobbly, but her senses were operating with abnormal acuteness. She heard the snap of dying embers in the fireplace, tasted mint-flavored toothpaste—and saw something impossible. On the wall beside her, moved from its original position, was the portrait, in its heavy carved frame. But the face was no longer dim and impassive. The eyes were wide and its mouth was open in a silent scream of terror; and despite the distortion of fear, the features were, unmistakably, her own.
 
 
Dun, dun, dunnnnnnnnn

Reading progress update: I've read 29%.

Wait for What Will Come - Barbara Michaels

Michaels has introduced four possible love interests for our intrepid heroine Carla: the doctor, the lawyer, the vicar and the gardener. Not to mention the demon merman from the depths who will be arriving on Midsummer Eve to carry her off to his domain beneath the waves.

SPOILER ALERT!

Ummmm, O.K., Georgette

Cousin Kate - Georgette Heyer

This was a very strange Heyer. It wasn't entirely without charm, but there were flaws a plenty. Let us begin with those (there are spoilers coming, so be warned):

 

First, this was supposed to be Heyer's version of a "gothic romance," but, yeah, there was absolutely NO SUSPENSE whatsoever. The suspense is the heart of the gothic: who's behind the mysterious happenings? Is the hero really a bad guy? Are there supernatural influences? Is the heroine mad, or is she really being stalked? What is going on with the ghostly footsteps/tapping in the gallery/movement of the tiny statuette of the frog . . . whatever? 

 

Heyer reveals everything by the midpoint of the book. Philip is in love with Kate. Kate is in love with Philip. Torquil is violently mentally ill. Aunt Minerva is terrible.This is not suspense, people.

 

Second, Heyer's depiction of Torquil's mental illness bears no relationship with what mental illness really looks like. I can forgive this to some degree, because it is obviously just a plot point, and a lot of gothics have "mad" people in them which also bear no resemblance to actual mental illness, but honestly, it feels like Heyer didn't even do the most rudimentary research, which given how carefully she researches the customs and shibboleths of the regency era seems like a pretty massive oversight here. It's a caricature.

 

The ending of that aspect of the plot is also bizarre and way too convenient.

 

Torquil loses whatever is left of his mind and murders his mother by strangling her in her bedroom. He then rushes from the house to throw himself off the local bridge and drowns. This is a pretty major WTF, especially since all of the remaining characters are basically "whatevs, it's a convenient end to an unhappy problem for the rest of the neighborhood, and oh, look, he's at peace now yay.

(show spoiler)

 

So, it fails as a gothic. But does it succeed as a romance?

 

And here I say yes. I love Kate - she is independent, forthright, candid and scrappy. All in all, a delightful Heyer heroine. She's not caught up in frivolities and snooty customs. I also loved Philip - he reminded me a bit of the Hero from The Quiet Gentleman. This is a man with substance - he's not a dandified youth with too many folds in his neckcloth, he appears not be even remotely obsessed by the shine of his Hessians or the cut of his coat. He's a landowner of better than average prospects who takes seriously his obligation to the land and the people who live on it. Totally refreshing here. He's also age appropriate. Yay.

 

The one aspect of the romance that doesn't work very well is the speed with which it occurs. But when there is a madman about, I suppose that a guy needs to move fast.

 

When I read a Heyer, I try to take a few moments at the end of it to consider whether or not I think that the couple will really stick. A lot of her romances, I am pretty unconvinced. This isn't one of those. I think that Kate & Philip will make it after all is said and done.

 

This is a book to read by Heyer completists as it is far from her best. It's definitely a second rate - maybe even a third rate - Heyer. But for all that, I still found parts of it charming.

 

 

Something for the fall?

Reblogged from Moonlight Reader:

I know that there are other classic crime fans here on BL, & I'm wondering if anyone is interested in reading this with me - it won't be released until August 1, so you've got time to contemplate! I'm thinking of approximately Labor Day for a read!

 

 

This book tells the story of crime fiction published during the first half of the twentieth century. The diversity of this much-loved genre is breathtaking, and so much greater than many critics have suggested. To illustrate this, the leading expert on classic crime discusses one hundred books ranging from The Hound of the Baskervilles to Strangers on a Train which highlight the entertaining plots, the literary achievements, and the social significance of vintage crime fiction. This book serves as a companion to the acclaimed British Library Crime Classics series but it tells a very diverse story. It presents the development of crime fiction-from Sherlock Holmes to the end of the golden age-in an accessible, informative and engaging style.

Readers who enjoy classic crime will make fascinating discoveries and learn about forgotten gems as well as bestselling authors. Even the most widely read connoisseurs will find books (and trivia) with which they are unfamiliar-as well as unexpected choices to debate. Classic crime is a richly varied and deeply pleasurable genre that is enjoying a world-wide renaissance as dozens of neglected novels and stories are resurrected for modern readers to enjoy. The overriding aim of this book is to provide a launch point that enables readers to embark on their own voyages of discovery.

August 18, 2017: #ripleyread

The Talented Mr. Ripley  - Patricia Highsmith

OK, we've got a date set of next Friday, August 18, 2017!

 

Use the tag: ripleyread

 

Also, I opened a thread in the somewhat defunct buddy read group, which you can find here!

 

Come one, come all!

Ripley Read!

Reblogged from Moonlight Reader:
The Talented Mr. Ripley  - Patricia Highsmith

BrokenTune & I had discussed doing a buddy read of The Talented Mr. Ripley & I think here were a few others who were up for it! Let's figure out when we want to start!

Reading progress update: I've read 30%.

Cousin Kate - Georgette Heyer

Heyer wrote a gothic romance? Who knew.

 

So far, this one is a bit heavy-handed with the foreshadowing. Torquil sounds like an asshat.

Black Amber by Phyllis Whitney

Black amber - Phyllis A. Whitney

MBD reminded me in a comment to a different review that I wanted to provide a warning on this book: animal abuse is a plot point, and it is disturbing. Avoid if that is a deal breaker for you.

 

These backlist gothic romances are so much fun for me to read. The plots are a bit formulaic, and they do show their age a bit. Even the "contemporaries" are more or less "historicals" at this point, being set in the 1960's and 1970's. It's interesting to watch the roles for the heroines evolving into the proverbial "career girl," which is very much a novelty of that era.

 

After all, this isn't really a phrase you see anymore: career girl/career woman. At least not used by anyone under the age of about 70. Everyone, pretty much, works. Work is the default. Not work is the exception. Even people - male or female - who marry and stop being employed in favor of contributing their labor to their household for free "work" prior to having a baby. The parent-to-husband pipeline has largely been disrupted with a decade or so of work between high school graduation and the birth of a first child (in Europe & North America, at least).

 

So, it's interesting and a bit fun to see the main female characters in these books challenging stereotypes of the time by having jobs, even if they do seem to be mostly marking time until marriage. 

 

When I selected the first of the Open Road re-issues of Whitney's backlist, I went, first, for the one set in England (Hunter's Green). These are the quintessential gothics to me, probably based on my affection for Jane Eyre and Mistress of Mellyn. I picked this as a back up because of the exotic setting in Istanbul, Turkey. I believe that I may have read this one many years ago, because bits of it felt very familiar to me.

 

To my surprise, I preferred this one to Hunter's Green. I both preferred the heroine, Tracy, and the gorgeous location. Whitney, like Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels and another old favorite who wrote spy fic, Helen MacInnes, has a way with settings.

 

If I have an overall complaint with these old gothics, it is the unconvincing nature of the romance, especially in comparison to modern romance writers who do a much better job of creating chemistry between their characters. Generally, the old school gothic romance ends abruptly with the hero confessing his love for the heroine in a masterful fashion that would, IRL, likely get him slapped and then served with a restraining order.

 

I've figured out, though, that I really don't read these books for the romance. I read them to see the heroine navigating a situation of danger, and for those moments when she shows true resourcefulness, and for how the settings interact with the heroine and the danger. I also freaking adore those old covers, even if my edition rarely has the best of the early covers. The romance is secondary, so when it actually works (as in Watch The Wall, My Darling), it's extra delightful.

Watch the Wall, My Darling by Jane Aiken Hodge

Watch the Wall, My Darling - Jane Aiken Hodge

This was entirely delightful. I've never read anything by Jane Aiken Hodge, although I've read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by her sister, Joan. 

 

I finally broke down and bought this book for the kindle after reading my second Phyllis Whitney reissue, Black Amber, which I've not yet reviewed over here, but which I actually enjoyed even more than Hunter's Green. This book continually popped up in my also boughts, so I've been eyeing it for a couple of years.

 

And, oh my, how delicious it was! The heroine, Christina Tretton, lately of backwoods America, currently of Dark House in Cornwall, was wonderful. Independent, capable, and handy with a pistol. The hero, Ross Tretteign, born on the right side of the blanket, but everyone knows that he's a cuckoo in the family nest, is a bit swoony, a patriot, smuggler, 100% masculine.

 

The book is set during the Napoleonic wars, when Boney is threatening an invasion. There's lots of midnight ramblings, a bullying grandfather, a silly French girl who nearly proves Ross's undoing, a neurotic mother, and a French spy.

 

There are no supernatural overtones to this one, just a good old-fashioned historical romance set in the marshlands, with a wonderful, strong heroine who is most emphatically not TSTL and who is resourceful and fully capable of rescuing herself. One of the most enjoyable books I've read this year, frankly, and quite a surprise.

Hunter's Green by Phyllis Whitney

 


Open Road managed, apparently, to secure the rights to Whitney's backlist and is issuing them in groups with lovely new covers. The first round released on 7/4/17, and includes this book as well as Domino, Black Amber, The Turquoise Mask, Poinciana, Blue Fire, & Vermilion. I bought this one, as well as Black Amber, to dip my toes back in the Whitney waters.

I simply cannot remember which of her books I read during my teen gothic phase, when I devoured Whitney, Holt, and Mary Stewart, so this may - or may not - have been the first time I read this book. I did not like this one nearly so well as The Window on the Square, which is my favorite Whitney so far - I tend to like historical gothics more than contemporary gothics (even if contemporary gothics are sort of historical documents at this point, being set in the 1960's - 1970's).

This one also didn't completely work for me in terms of the suspense element. It was a long time developing, and wasn't ever really convincing. Those aspects of the story seemed disjointed. I could see where the story was going, but it never really seemed to get there. The main character, Eve, was mostly annoying, and the "hero," Justin, wasn't particularly appealing.

From the perspective of nostalgia, though, it was a winner. Whitney wasn't a fabulous wordsmith (she was no Mary Stewart, for example), but she was a solid writer in the American gothic romance potboiler style. I miss the writers of the 1960's & 1970's - they were all conversant with grammar and other conventions of writing, and their books weren't just sex scenes joined by a few lines of text to get us from one interlude to the next. I'm not a prude, but I'm completely over this aspect of modern romance. 

I may give Black Amber a go next. 

Game Play wrap up!

Thanks to all of the players for making this game so much fun to host!

 

Stats:

 

Players: 15 - including OB & me.

Combined bank totals: $2516.00 (this may be a tiny bit off, because I don't think I had OB's final total. I gave her $121 from her last post in the player bank thread)

I have no idea how many books/pages were read, although that would be a very interesting stat!

 

Winners:

 

aimeeerickson with $365.00

 

Our first place winner was a dark horse player! I'm disappointed that I didn't get to know Aimee while she was reading, because she chews through books like mad! Aimee wins the $50.00 amazon g/c or book depository order (for international players).

 

Murder by Death with $329.00

 

Jenn rolled into second place with an incredible $329.00! Jenn wins the $25.00 Book Depository Order because I know that she is an international player.

 

HOWEVER

 

Jenn previously PM'd me and wanted to quietly bow out of prizes after the game was done! So, we'll move onto the next player.

 

 

Our next winner is Ani and her co-players Magnetic Monkey, Teddy-Bear Game Piece and Penni Penguin with $274.00! Ani's gameboard was the most creative, and her posts were delightful! Ani - you're looking at a $25.00 g/c or book depository order!

 

Tannat is our final winner with $269.00!

 

Tannat played a wily game, and I'm pleased to see her come in as a winner. Tannat, you're eligible for either a $15.00 g/c or a book depository order. Your profile reflects you are Canadian, but possibly you can still use an amazon g/c?

 

I will be in contact with all of the winners by PM!

 

Note: I am no mathematician, so the original version of this post had Tannat in second place and Ani in third place! Fixed it!

It's a wrap!

 

Booklikes-opoly is over!

 

Thanks for playing!

Eight Hours To Midnight and the End of Booklikes-opoly

 

OK, it's not quite over. But, Booklikes-opoly ends in eight hours, so don't forget to submit your player banks here to be considered for the prizes.

 

While a wrap up post isn't strictly necessary, I would love it if you would post a quick run down of your experience with the game, which book was your favorite, which was your least favorite, which square you loved, which square you hated, and whatever other information you want to share. 

 

As Obsidian has already mentioned, there will be some new game coming in the fall, although we will have to figure out what we want to do next! I hope everyone had a good time playing the game - I know that I had a good time reading all of your posts!

Eighteen hours!

So, I finished the Halloween quilt! It took me a bit over 19 hours to put the back together, baste it, quilt it and bind it. I know this because I finished the entire Fellowship of the Ring in the three days I worked on it!

 

Pictures! First, here's the back. I used a black and orange polka dot that I bought at Joanne's for $4.00 a yard on sale, and I pieced it with an 8 1/2 in strip of pieced fabric. It turned out great!

 

 

Now for the quilt itself:

 

 

It is a total of 65 x 78. I went ahead and added a border, although I ran out of fabric at the bottom, as you can see, so I just finished it using a different fabric (the skulls). I did an all over stipple quilt in gray, and then I quilted the border using orange thread, which doesn't really show up in the picture, but it looks cute. The binding is a scrappy binding made with leftover quilt fabric. It was a ton of work, but I am thrilled with how it turned out!

 

I'm exhausted, though! 

 

Edit:

 

Portable Magic asked for a close up of the embroidery. There are actually 10 embroidery blocks - these are a representative sample! All of the patterns came from urban threads! Sorry about the crappy lighting in the photo.

 

Aaaand, progress

 

All sashed and together! I'm still trying to decide if I want to add a two inch border around the whole thing. I have some very cool Halloween newsprint type fabric, but I'm not sure if I have enough. Need to measure!

 

Anyway, I decided to re-listen to The Lord of the Rings with my quilting, so I'm having a great time here!