Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle by Georgette Heyer

Sylvester Rank, wealth, and elegance are no match for a young lady who writes novels…

Sylvester, Duke of Salford, has exacting requirements for a bride. Then he encounters Phoebe Marlow, a young lady with literary aspirations, and suddenly life becomes very complicated. She meets none of his criteria, and even worse, she has written a novel that is sweeping the ton and causing all kinds of gossip…and he’s the main character!

Book Details: Publisher Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2011, 937-4022-3880-2, Trade Paperback, $13.99, 386 pages Source: Purchased from B&N


519z1yhTPQL__SL175_ When Sylvester, the Duke of Salford, first meets Phoebe Marlow, he finds her dull and insipid. She finds him insufferably arrogant. But when a series of unforeseen events leads them to be stranded together in a lonely country inn, they are both forced to reassess their hastily formed opinions, and begin a new-found liking and respect for each other.

Sylvester calls to mind the satirical genius of a Jane Austen novel and is adored for its wit and a fast-paced plot, which ranges across a myriad of settings.

Audiobook Details: Naxos Audiobooks, 2009, 9626349255, mp3, $9.80, 4 hours 51  minutes, Narrated by: Richard Armitage Source: Purchased from

My Thoughts:

When Sylvester Rayne, Duke of Salford, decides to marry, he makes a list of requirements that his bride must have then runs off and seeks his mother’s advice. Knowing that he does not love any of the five women on his list, she tells him not to marry until he falls in love, then sends him to his godmother who tells him about her eligible granddaughter, Phoebe Marlow.

Phoebe Marlow does not meet any of the Duke’s requirements and when she discovers that the Duke may ask for her hand, she run’s off with aid of her friend, Tom who happens to be the squires son. Although when nasty weather throws the Duke and Phoebe together, Phoebe starts to realize that Sylvester is not quite the villain she made him out to be in novel she wrote.

Fate intervenes even further when Sylvester’s young nephew—and ward—Edward is kidnapped by his eccentric mother and Phoebe tries to retries the boy, leading to even more time spent with Sylvester.

Misunderstanding, arrogance, and the wicked wit that is woven into Sylvester, or The Wicked Uncle, is highly reminiscent of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. With characters both realistic and eccentric this novel thoroughly entertains. One of my favorite Georgette Heyer novels.

As I have been on a Georgette Heyer kick for the last few weeks, I thought that I would give the audio version a try, plus Sylvester was this months pick for my book club. Seeing that it was read by none other than Richard Armitage (North & South, Robin Hood, MI-5/Spooks, The Vicar of Dibley) I knew that I *had* to purchase the audiobook. I made my mistake in not reading the description so I failed to realize that this was the abridged version.

While I could listen to Richard Armitage velvety voice all the days of my life (and he does a brilliant job at brining the characters to life), I still could not get over the fact that huge chunks of the book were omitted. While some of the omitted bits were nothing more the minor descriptions of the setting, others were key scenes that made the book grand. And I noticed that the omissions became larger after chapter 19, meaning that most of the ending was cut from the audiobook.

Having read the book countless times, to me these omissions were pronounced. I wondered what fresh listeners would think of the book and during my book club discussion one of the ladies said that she had listened to the audio version rather than read the book and the book felt incomplete to her, so apparently I was not the only one to notice the injustice the audiobook does the actual book.

Book or Audiobook? Definitely the book, especially for newbie readers. Sadly, I am afraid that not even the lovely Richard Armitage could save the unabridged audiobook.

Best Wishes & Happy Reading or listening,

angela new

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday Intros: Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling


Every Tuesday, Diane @ Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (maybe two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening paragraph(s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along!


Chapter 1 The Unraveling of Nanny Prum

Every night I dreamt of the dead. In dreams those who have been lost can be found, gliding on fragments of memory through the dark veil of sleep to ensnare themselves within the remains of the day, to pretend for a moment like a lifetime that they might still be alive and well, waiting by the bedside when the dream is done. They never were, but I could not stop myself from wishing for the possibility that everything I remembered was a mistake, a nightmare taken too literally by the imagination. But morning always came, and with it the startling realization that the dead continued to be so, and that I remained alone.

Would you continue reading? I know that I am eager to devour the secrets of Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino.

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

angela new

Monday, October 8, 2012

Keith Harkin CD Giveaway

Keith Harkin, of Celtic Thunder fame, has released his debut album simply entitled, ‘Keith Harkin’ (Verve, 602537115488, Released 9/18/2012).
Comprised of six original songs penned by Keith and six cover songs, the album has an old school feel that reminds me of digging through my mother’s records. I must admit, I kind of wish that this would have been recorded on vinyl, as I love that scratchy sound only a record player can deliver and this mix of songs and would be brilliant on vinyl. (side note: I was born in ’86 and my mother had large collection of records and a passion for good music, so what can I say, I am a record addict.)
recordsFor those of you who do not know, these are records, that you play on a record player and should never become a chip bowl.
The album ranges from upbeat covers like Here Comes The Sun to heartfelt songs such as Rosa. This is one of those albums that has something to offer everybody.
The Originals
Daisy Fields—I loved the Uillean pipes on this song
Nothing But You & I—Lovely song
Orange Moon—this is one of those songs that I often repeat
Take It Away Boys—One of my favorites on the album
Don’t Forget About Me—First single
Rosa—This song has a lot of emotion behind it
The Covers
The End Of The Innocence—reminds me of record day when I was little.
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You (duet with Cobie Calliat)—kind of reminds of the version Rod Stewart and Joss Stone performed.
Everybody’s Talkin’—another great song that reminds me of record day
Here Comes The Sun—I tend to skip this song, not because I don’t like—I do—but I have a tendency to randomly sing this song aloud in public places such as the Post Office
Tears Of Hercules—One of my favorites and I often repeat it as well
Heart Of Saturday Night—You can never go wrong with a Tom Waits song. I would love to hear him do Tom Traubert's Blues or Downtown Train.
keithharkinaSo, I will admit it, I was a bit impatient to get my hands on this album and even though I preordered two copies on Amazon, I made a run to Barnes & Noble when it came out.
I have two copies to giveaway.
Giveaway is Worldwide.
To enter please leave your name and a valid email address.
Giveaway Ends October 30
Want to get your hands on a copy? You may do so at the following:
 Barnes & Noble
Best Wishes & Happy Listening,
angela new

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Apples, Books, and Two Green Pillowcases


Fall has finally arrived where I live bringing with it foggy mornings, cooler temps, brilliant colors, touches of frost, and unintended trips to the apple orchard. Fall also means that I get to, mostly, work from home as I do my travelling for work in the spring and summer.

A recap of my week:

I arrived home Monday, and seeing how the weather had changed, I thought it wise take my Fall bedding to the dry cleaners. I dropped off an all purple bedding set however, when I returned the next day to pick them up two of my purple Egyptian cotton pillowcases mysteriously turned into two HPIM3924 green ones made from imitation silk. Of course I only discover this when I am at home and in the process of making of bed. When I go back to the dry cleaners to inquire about my purple pillowcases they say that was how they arrived at the cleaners. Seriously? Did they really think I decked my bed out in the colors of Mardi Gras? Plus, my tag clearly states that there was four purple pillowcases.

After the great pillowcase debate, I had to hurry home and get ready to attend the wedding of an acquaintance, (you know how it is when a friend of a friend marries, and you get an invite because you travel in the same circles yet you barley know the people getting married). Rather than travelling on my own, I decide to go with a group of friends. My friend took one wrong turn too many and needless to say we ended up getting lost and stopping to ask  for directions, which happened to be the wrong thing to do as the man gave us the wrong directions. By the time we realized where we were the wedding was long over, but we did accidently discover an apple orchard and a bookshop along the way and we were way over dressed for either place.

HPIM3863So, now I have an abundance of apples, two new books, and two green pillowcases the dry cleaners refused to take back

What books did I purchase from the bookshop? 2 Jeanette Baker books, Nell, which I read, reviewed and wasn’t too thrilled about, and Irish Lady, which I am hoping is better than Nell although I am a bit afraid to read it as it is on the same lines as Nell.

What I am doing with the apples? I am making, baking, cooking, experimenting with every apple recipe that I can find! HPIM3917Apple pancakes, anyone?

As for the pillowcases, they are sitting on the bottom shelf of my linen closet annoying me with their presence.

Books I am reading:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte—I am slowly rereading this book

Dracula by Bram Stoker—another book that I am slowly rereading

Bedeviled Eggs: A Cackleberry Club Mystery by Laura Childs

Books I am eager to start reading:

Dracula, The Un-dead by Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt

The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory

The White Forest by Adam McOmber

Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling by Michael Boccacino

Books I am thinking about reading although I am not sure if I will like:

City Girl, Country Vet by Cathy Woodman- After a broke romance London veterinarian Maz Harwood agrees to run a country practice and falls for a rival vet.

The Mermaid Collector by Erika Marks- Cradle Harbor, Main, is a seaside town moored in tragic legend: the 1880’s tale of a lighthouse keeper swept up by the sea into the arms of his mermaid lover, and whose wife paid a terrible price for hi wandering heart. Return to present day where Tess Patterson nurses her own heartache after the town’s golden boy ends their affair. A sculptor, Tess pours herself into creating a carving for the upcoming Mermaid Festival. Tom Grace, the new lighthouse owner, also has personal demons to contend with, but one glimpse of Tess could change everything. As their relationship heats up—careening toward a meltdown—can Tess and Tom turn the lighthouse’s curse into a luminous future—together?

Books that I purchased:

Corinthian by Georgette Heyer

Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer

Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer

Books that I finished:

Nell by Jeanette Baker Review HERE

Imperfect Bliss by Susan Fales-Hill –review coming next week

What I am watching:

On the telly:

Once Upon A Time—not too thrilled with how season two opened. I loved Mr. Gold, played by Robert Carlyle, for the simple fact that he is played by Robert Carlyle, as for the rest I felt the show was lacking. I seriously hope it improves.

Two Broke Girls—loved season one, probably skip season two.

Greys Anatomy & Private Practice—Cancelled prescheduled dvr recordings for both shows.

Call The Midwife—I am loving this show.

Upstairs Downstairs—another great find.

What I am listening to:

Keith Harkin’s debut album, ‘Keith Harkin’—I will be giving away two copies tomorrow.


Best Wishes,

angela new

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Nell by Jeanette Baker


imagesCAO54HL1He came upon her in the light of the silver moon and knew instantly that they should meet without the trappings of wealth, family, and formality. For in the end, in the sweetly scented darkness, it would be just the two of them. Donal O’Flaherty didn’t see English versus Irish. He saw only Nell, and that was enough.

But Fate had another plan. Soon Nell is swept away to the treacherous Tudor court. Yet through the centuries and across generations, she would prove that neither prison bars nor the hands of time could stop the power of a love meant to be…. (from the back of the book)


First Thoughts After Reading The Blurb: A novel of second chances set in the Tudor Court during the English/Irish conflict sounds like a great read. Plus, I loved Jeanette Baker’s Scottish novels!

First Thoughts After Finishing The Novel: What did I just read?! Does no one check historical facts? Was this really a Jeanette Baker book?

The Plot:

Nell was actually two stories combined into one novel and I strongly believe that should have been two separate books.

Jillian & Frankie

The novel starts with a ten-year-old Jillian ‘Jilly’ Fitzgerald of Kildare Hall, who is a Protestant, developing a crush on fourteen-year-old Francis ‘Frankie’ Maguire who is described as a son of a Catholic working-class kennel keeper.

That was in 1972. The novel then skips to 1974, Jilly’s crush on Frankie is still going strong, and Frankie has started to develop feelings for her although he has other things on his mind such as going to Belfast and joining the IRA. When Frankie returns from Belfast he finds that Jilly’s brother Terrence has gotten his sister, Kathleen, pregnant and an odd turn of events leads to Terrence’s death. Frankie takes the blame and ends up in Long Kesh prison.

The novel then skips to 1979. Frankie has escaped from prison, changed his name to Danny Browne, and married a woman that is not Jilly. Frankie, or rather Danny Browne, is now the chief negotiator for the Sinn Fein. In 1986 Jilly married Avery Graham (the secretary to Northern Ireland who then becomes the acting minister) because he agreed to help her adopt her brother’s child.

In 1994 Jillian’s husband dies then she takes over as acting minister to Northern Ireland, which leads to Jilly and Frankie crossing paths. Although it takes a while for them to admit that they know each other.

Nell & Donal

Through Jillian and Frankie’s story we have the story of another Fitzgerald woman, Nell. Once again, she is Protestant and the man she loves, Donal, is a Catholic, which leads to them being separated then having to fight to find their way back to each other.

My Thoughts:

If the novel would have just focused on the story of Jilly & Frankie and developed it a little more or stuck to historical facts when dealing with Nell & Donal’s story I think that this would have been one of my favorites.

However the historical facts were thrown out the window with Nell & Donal’s story and while the author did say that she has “taken occasional liberty with history in order to create a more evocative and timely story” I feel that these were liberties that ruined the book. And if I am being honest, I skimmed over the majority of Nell’s story because of these liberties were just to over the top.

Just A Few Of The Liberties That Ruined The Book For Me:

-The novel features a very alive Gerald Fitzgerald, the 9th Earl of Kildare, yet the historical part of the novel takes place in 1537 and the Earl actually died in 1534. So, I suppose it should have been the ghost of the 9th Earl of Kildare rather than a living version of him

-Nell was actually Gerald Fitzgerald’s granddaughter, not his daughter, meaning she was young Gerald’s aunt, not his sister.

-Nell did marry a Donal, but not a Donal O’Flaherty. The Donal she married was a McCarty.

-Cardinal Wolsey was not executed. He was however arrested and died in jail.

Time Travel Aspect:

Throughout the novel, the ghost of Nell visits Jilly giving her advice. After Francis gets arrested, Nell takes Jilly back in time so she can gather information about what happened to the Geraldine’s after they were arrested by Henry VIII.

Book Details:

Title: Nell Author: Jeanette Baker

ISBN: 978-1-4022-5589-2

Publisher: Sourcebook Casablanca

Format I Read: Trade Paperback (ebook also available) $12.99

Source: Purchased from Barnes & Noble

Rating: I am not sure how to rate this one.

Best Wishes & Happy Reading,

angela new