24 January 2012

Putting on the brakes

I have decided to cut down my blogging time considerably until spring, in order to be able to continue to read for fun alongside my studies. I will not be suspending this blog completely, but posting is going to be even more irregular than usual until I have turned in all of my academic assignments.

"Dictionaries"
Snapped on my cell phone and edited using the PicSay app
I am taking two university courses this semester, in Terminology and Literary Translation, both at the master's level, 15 ECTS-credits altogether. In addition, I am taking a course in French for international relations through my workplace. That course amounts to 10 ECTS-credits, meaning that I am doing an almost full academic schedule as well as working full time. Even though I am not studying for a degree, this still needs to be taken seriously and most of the time I have devoted to blogging is now going to be taken up by studying and assignment work.

I do have a couple of reviews I'm working on, as well as one essay, some photo posts, several lists, and a shorter-than-usual Annual Reading Report, but I can't say when I'll post them (probably during fits of procrastinating from my studies...). Other posts will generally be shorter than usual.

Ideas I have had for keeping the blog going while I am busy with other stuff includes quick, short reviews instead of my more detailed reviews, adding more links to book stuff I want to draw attention to, and maybe (but just maybe) more photo posts. I'll also continue to post the monthly reading report. I have also considered starting doing giveaways when I return to full schedule, but we shall have to see about that.

23 January 2012

Review: The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason

Originally published in July 2005, on my original 52 Books blog. This is the final review repost.

In 1886, Edgar Drake, a specialist in tuning Erard pianos, is sent by the British War Office to the wilds of Burma to tune an Erard for Surgeon-Major Carroll, a man who has managed to become perhaps the most important British officer in the whole of Burma by making himself indispensable for the peace negotiations between the British and the Burmese. The piano plays some mysterious part in all this, but has unfortunately reacted badly to the extremes of the climate and is out of tune. Drake, shy, thoughtful and eccentric, finds in himself an unexpected adventurousness as he sets off from England to tune the piano. Once he gets to Carroll’s stronghold in Mae Lwin, he is enchanted by the place, charmed by Carroll, and seduced (not in the physical sense) by a mysterious local woman. All of these unite in holding him there, and he loses all sense of time and sinks into a kind of dream. When reality finally invades, it becomes doubtful if he will ever return to England and his beloved wife.

This is a beautiful and melancholy story. Mason has a talent for describing landscapes and people in flowing and evocative prose, and it has been a long time since I read anything as cinematic as this book. In some strange way I can not quite define, I felt this was a very English book, although the author is an American. He perfectly describes the attitudes and arrogance of the British towards the Burmese people, for example in the chapters about Drake’s journey and the British officers he meets - especially a very tragic tiger hunt he unwillingly joins. The first half of the story is about Drake’s journey from England to Mae Lwin, and the second is about his stay there and the tuning of the piano. The story is very slow and flowing, right down to the last chapters, when it suddenly picks up, with unnecessary suddenness, and becomes a thriller. There is hardly any build-up to the action, and the ending, although apt, is too abrupt.
I did feel that I couldn’t quite sympathise with Drake, or indeed any other character. They are all described from the outside, as if the author was describing something he was seeing on a movie screen in front of him, rather than actually being there. There is always a distance between the reader and the characters, a distance you want to bridge, but can’t, because there is something lacking in the telling of their story. This distant, at times almost clinical viewing of the characters, is a big flaw, and prevents the book from making my favourites list.

All in all, I would say this is a very good first novel, but has flaws that Mason will hopefully not repeat in his next novel.

Rating: A beautiful and tragic story of one man’s adventure of a lifetime. 3+ stars.

Excerpt from The Piano Tuner.

18 January 2012

Reading challenges to tempt you, part V: Geographical challenges

Travelogues are my very favourite genre, but I also like to read other genres, both fiction and non-fiction, that feature locations that are well described and important for the story. If I know the location I can picture it in my mind. If not, I can imagine it and dream of visiting it some day (or make plans to avoid it all cost).

Here are some challenges dedicated to countries, areas and continents around the world, starting small and ending big. I found so many challenges with this one theme that I decided to dedicate a special post to them.

As before, you can click on either the link or the badge to be taken to the sign-up page.


First up is the Ireland Reading Challenge, hosted by Carrie of Books and Movies.

This challenge runs from January 1 to November 30, 2012. I did not see a deadline for signing up.

There are 4 levels. Crossovers and re-reads are allowed.

The challenge is to read "Any book written by an Irish author, set in Ireland, or involving Irish history or Irish characters, ... – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, audiobooks, children’s books – all of these apply."

Reviews are not required, but there is incentive to do so: A prize. There is a further twist that offers an increased chance to win the prize - check the host blog for more information. 25 people have signed up so far.


The Library of Clean Reads is hosting the I Love Italy reading challenge.

This is a year-long challenge and can be joined at any time.

Books must be "set in Italy, written by an Italian author or about Italy or an Italian person".

There are 4 levels. Reviewing is not required but is encouraged.

9 people have signed up so far.




Tasha of Book Obsessed is running The 50 States Reading Challenge.

This is a big challenge: To read books set in all 50 of the United States, although it doesn't say whether you must read one book for each state or if you can read books that cover several states.

It lasts all year and I didn't see a deadline for joining, although you would have to be a pretty prolific reader if you join any later than, say, August.

Crossovers are allowed, you need not have a blog to enter, and reviewing is encouraged. There are 27 participants already.


The following challenge is about a region close to my heart:


Swapna Krishna of S. Krishna's Books is hosting a South Asian Challenge

 This is a year long challenge, and I did not see a deadline for sighing up. 

The aim is to read books (the number is up to you), relating to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and/or the Maldives.

To qualify, a book must either be written by a South Asian author or be about South Asia or South Asians (i.e. "the subject matter focuses on the region, peoples, or cultures in some way").

You need not have a blog and reviewing is not mandatory, but is welcomed. Crossovers are allowed. 32 people have signed up already.



 Rose City Reader is hosting a European Reading Challenge.

In her words: "The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it's supposed to be a tour."

The challenge runs between  January 1, 2012 and January 31, 2013. I did not see a deadline for signing up.

There are 5 levels, 3 alternative variations, and 4 prizes. Reviewing is not mandatory, but you can only win prizes if you review and post links to those reviews (one review equals one ticket for the prize drawing). Go to the sign-up post to read the complete rules. 39 participants have signed up so far.

Last but not least:

Kerrie of Mysteries in Paradise is taking over from Dorte and hosting the third Global Reading challenge this year.

The challenge runs throughout 2012 and you can sign up at any time.

There are three levels, and the challenge is to read fiction from or about countries on the continents of Africa, Asia, Australasia/Oceania, Europe, North America, South America, and a seventh continent that can be either Antarctica or, in Kerrie's words: "eg the sea, the space, a supernatural/paranormal world, history, the future – you name it". 19 participants have already signed up.

16 January 2012

Review: Dead Heat by Linda Barnes

Originally published in June 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.

Third of four books about former private eye, now actor, Michael Spraggue, scion of one of Boston’s moneyed families, who prefers to live on his own rather than at the family mansion and to earn his own living instead of spending the family riches. The city of Boston is just as much a characters in this book as the people are, which is cool, because so often places are just used as interchangeable backgrounds for stories that could happen anywhere.

This book was published in 1984 and appears to be out of print. Best place to find it would probably be a library or second-hand book store (or abebooks.com).

The story: Collatos, a former cop, now a bodyguard, and a friend of Spraggue’s, asks him to help him find the writer of anonymous threatening letters that his boss, a US senator, has been receiving. When the senator and bodyguard take part in the Boston marathon and are poisoned by a “woman” who gives them water laced with an overdose of speed, with the result that Collatos dies, Spraggue begins to investigate the death. He leaves no stone unturned, and discovers an insurance scam Collatos was investigating before he left the police force and which seems connected to his death. This leads him to think it was Collatos who was the target of the poisoning, and not the senator, and the anonymous letters were either a subterfuge or unrelated to the murder. But how did the killer know Collatos would have an allergic reaction to amphetamine?

I have previously mentioned how I hate books that are so dependent on other books in the same series that they can’t be read without having read the others first. I wouldn’t exactly go as far as to say this is one of those books, but it did leave me with several unanswered questions about Spraggue’s background that the author obviously assumed the reader would know about. It would therefore be a good idea to read the first two books in order, before reading this one.

Rating: An entertaining crime thriller with a twist in the tail. 3+ stars.

10 January 2012

Reading challenges to tempt you, part IV: Types of books

Next up in the challenges list is types of books. These are books defined by something other than their subject matter. I have found challenges for listening to audio books, reading free e-books, long books, library books, translations and books of short stories. I am not counting short stories as a genre because they can be about anything as long as they are collection of short stories.

This reminds me of a challenge I thought up and was going to host in 2012. I was going to call it The Long and the Short of it. It was meant to be a challenge to read books under 150 pages and over 450 pages long. Level 1 was to be 3 long and 6 short ones, level 2 was to be 6 long books and 12 short ones, and level 3 was to encompass 12 long books and 26 short ones. An extreme level was to be offered, with 12 long books and 52 short ones but as you'll know if you stop by here regularly, I got fed up with restrictive challenges and decided to take it easy in 2012. I am putting this idea out here in the hope that someone will be willing to host it instead of me.

As in the earlier posts, you can click either on the link or badge for each challenge to go to the sign-up page.


The Book Garden is hosting the Tea & Books Challenge.

Join up if you're planning to read some really long novels this year, 700 or more pages long.

No re-reads or large type books, please!

There are 4 levels, and the challenge runs through the whole year. Crossovers are allowed and reviewing is not mandatory.


This next challenge could be incorporated into the previous one - as long as the rules are  followed ;-)


The Chunkster Reading challenge is being hosted on its own dedicated blog. It runs throughout 2012 and the challenge is to read books of 450 pages or more.

There are 4 levels. No audio books or ebooks are allowed. They can be both fiction and non-fiction, and essay collections, short stories and poetry are allowed (perfect incentive for those who want to tackle one of the Norton Anthologies).

Blog ownership is not necessary and you don't need to list the books ahead of time. Reviews are not mandatory, but are strongly encouraged.

Visit the hosting page for some suggestions for what to read, and to read the rules in full.

It may be possible to cross part of this next challenge with one or both of the above, especially if you can fit The Lord of the Rings and/or A Game of Thrones into it.


Martina Bookaholic is hosting the Book2Movie Challenge.

This one is a bit involved, but might be well worth doing if you are both a bibliophile and a movie buff.

Whole year. Each month you commit to reading 1 book and watching the movie based on it, in one of 12 given categories (plus a bonus category).

Reviews must link back to the originating blog, but don't otherwise seem to be mandatory.

I did not see a deadline for signing up.


This challenge can be crossed with any of the other challenges in this post and, for that matter, all the challenges listed in this whole series of posts except the TBR challenges.


Jamie of The Eclectic Bookshelf is hosting the Support your Local library Challenge.

The challenge is simple: Read books from your local library.

There are 4 levels and anyone can join.

You don't need to have a blog, but you are expected to link to at least your book-list even if you don't blog.

Audio books and ebooks are allowed, but re-reads are not.

I did not see a deadline for signing up.




The Library of Clean Reads is hosting a Short Story Reading Challenge.

It runs throughout the year and there is no deadline for joining.

It can cross over with other challenges as long as short stories are involved. Books for all ages are allowed, and both fiction and non-fiction.

There are 4 levels (and boy, would I have finished this one in style in 2010...)

Reviewing is assumed but you don't need to link to them.

Missie of The Unread Reader and Kelly of Reading the Paranormal are hosting the Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge.

As the name implies this is about reading free books. But not just any free books - they must be ebooks, offered for free and legally downloaded.

The challenge runs throughout 2012, there are three levels with a minimum limit of 12 books, but no maximum number. Cross-overs are allowed. 

If you link your reviews back to the hosting page you are eligible to win prizes, with monthly drawings, so sign up as soon as possible!


 If you are one of those people who never have time to read but do have a long(ish) commute or a job that doesn't demand your full attention (fish factory, anyone? I wish mp3 players had been invented when I was doing that kind of work), this challenge is perfect for you. Simply grab your smartphone or mp3 player and download some audio books and join: 



The Audio Book Challenge, which is being hosted by Teresa of Teresa's Reading Corner.


There are 4 levels and the challenge goes from one end of the year to the other.

I did not see a deadline for joining, but there will be a special monthly challenge as an incentive to stop by every month.




  
This final challenge is special to me, as I am a translator myself, and I am tempted to join, but I'll probably pass now and (maybe) do it next year.


The Introverted Reader is hosting a Books in Translation Challenge.

The goal is self-explanatory: Read books in translation.

Choose one of four levels. 

Challenge runs from January 7 to the end of the year.

Any genre and format is allowed, as are crossovers. You need not be a blogger, but reviewing seems to be required.




If you know of a reading challenge covering types of book and you would like me to cover it in the follow-up post to this series, just leave a link in a comment to this post and I will take a look at it.

09 January 2012

Review: The Mullet: Hairstyle of the Gods by Mark Larson & Barney Hoskyns.

Originally published in July 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.

This is a humorous tribute to that much maligned hairstyle, the mullet (ape drape, mud-flap, neck warmer, etc.). For someone who remembers when it was actually cool to sport one (yep, I was a teenager in the 80’s - I even had a mini-mullet for a couple of weeks until I realised it wasn't a good look for me and had it chopped off), this was a great discovery. The book manages to be both affectionate and mocking, and I had a good laugh at all the pictures of famous people that I once thought were incredibly cool and cutting-edge but now, in retrospect, just had really bad hairstyles and a lousy dress sense.

Rating: A funny book for both admirers and enemies of the mullet. 4 stars.

08 January 2012

Reading challenges to tempt you, part III: Theme challenges

Last time I covered genre challenges, and now it's time for some theme challenges.

As in the earlier posts, you can click either on the link or badge for each challenge to go to the sign-up page.

First one I am seriously considering joining:


The fifth What's in a Name challenge, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.
I finished it last year and have a mind to join again this year.

It runs throughout 2012 and you must read six books, each of which has a particular type of thing in the title (see the host site for a list). You can join at any time.

Any one book can only be entered in one category. Overlapping with other challenges is permitted, you need not make a list beforehand and you need not read the books in the order the categories are given in.

This is a very popular challenge: When I wrote this, 179 people had already signed up.


The Library of Clean Reads is hosting a Time Travel Reading Challenge.

It's a year-long challenge and you can join at any time.

There are 4 levels and the theme of the books must be time travel.

26 people have already signed up.




Melissa of Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf is hosting a Witches and Witchcraft Reading Challenge.

The challenge runs throughout the year 2012 and the sign-up deadline is December 15. There are a number of rules but the main ones are that the books must have a witchcraft theme and can be fiction or non-fiction, but no reference books are allowed unless you read them from cover to cover. There are 4 levels.


You need not own a blog, but reviewing seems to be required.
Re-reads and crossovers are allowed. There is a prize.
 54 participants so far.


Books in the City is hosting the second Immigrant Stories Challenge.

The challenge is year-long and you can join at any time. There are three levels and the books can be of any kind, both fiction and non-fiction, as long as the theme is immigration.

Re-reads are allowed and so are crossovers with other challenges.

10 participants so far.



The team at Bookish Ardour are hosting a Dystopia reading challenge.

This is another year-long challenge and you can sign up until mid-December. There are 7 levels and to make it more challenging there are extra challenges you can join to narrow the field of choice.

Crossovers are allowed, you can change levels, and you do not need to have a blog or write reviews (although they are encouraged), but some kind of commenting seems to be expected. 74 participants so far.


Finally, here are two double theme challenges with no fixed theme. The aim of both is to read pairs of books that share a theme or are somehow joined:

One Librarian's Book Reviews is hosting the Classic Double Challenge.

It's a year-long challenge and there is no sign-up deadline.

There are 4 levels. To join, you must read books in pairs: one classic and, to quote the host: "a newer book that relates to the older one in some way". Example are given if you need inspiration.

Comments/reviews are encouraged, but you need not do it on a blog.

18 participants already.



Amanda of Fig and Thistle is hosting the Truth in Fiction challenge.

It runs throughout 2012 and no deadline is given.

There are 7 levels and the challenge is to read pairs of books, one fiction and one non-fiction, that are related through an easily discernible common thread.

Overlapping with other challenges is allowed.

Reviews are expected and must be jointly about both books in any given pair.

 If you know of a theme reading challenge you would like me to cover in the follow-up post to this series, just leave a link in a comment to this post and I will take a look at it.

06 January 2012

Reading challenges to tempt you, part II: Genre challenges

I had originally written a considerably longer intro and worked on the list for a good half hour, but despite the periodic autosaving Blogger still managed to eat the original post. So here it is, with a much shorter intro, and as for you, Blogger: If this happens one more time I am taking all my blogs and migrating them somewhere else.

I own books on many diverse subjects, both fiction and non-fiction, and like to read in many genres. Apropos of this, here are some genre challenges being offered by and for book bloggers in 2012:

Clicking on the link or the badge will take you to the sign-up pages for the respective challenges.

Yvonne of Socrates' Book Review Blog is hosting the Cruisin' thru the Cozies Reading Challenge.

 The challenge runs all year long, and no sign-up deadline is given. The challenge is to read cosy mysteries and there are three levels.

Books need not be chosen in advance, crossovers with other challenges are allowed and you don't need to have a blog, but must leave comments so others can see your progress. Reviews are encouraged.

There are 60 participants already.

It wouldn't take much ingenuity to combine the above challenge with this one:

Bev Hankins of My Reader's Block is sponsoring the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge.

This is a year-long challenge and the sign-up deadline is November 30.

The challenge is to read 8 mysteries (thrillers, espionage novels, crime fiction, detective novels) in one of 10 categories posted on the hosting blog. More than one category may be finished.

Overlaps with other challenges are allowed. Blogs ownership is not necessary and reviewing is not mandatory, but is encouraged.

There are prizes to be won, and 36 people have signed up already.


The team at Historical Tapestry are hosting a Historical Fiction Challenge.

It's a year-long challenge and no sign-up deadline is given.

The challenge is to read any kind of historical fiction.

Reviewing is expected, and non-bloggers can post their progress information on the blog.

There are five difficulty levels, and 79 people have already signed up.


Reading Romances is hosting the Reading Romances challenge.

The challenge runs all year and the sign-up deadline is December 15.

This challenge is not about number, but variety. Each month the host blogger will post a list of romance sub-genres and themes to choose from. Reviews are expected, but can be posted on review sites, bookseller sites or blogs.

There are 20 participants so far.



Margot of Joyfully Retired is hosting the second Foodies Read challenge.

The challenge is a year-long one, and I didn't see a deadline for signing up. There are 5 levels and you must read food books. To quote Margot:
"A food book is a book which is centered around food and/or drinks. That could be a cookbook, a food biography or memoir, a non-fiction book focused around a specific food, wine, chef or restaurant. Also allowed is a fictional story in which food plays a major role."

Reviews are expected, but you need not be a blogger to participate. 19 have signed up so far.


Melissa of The Betty and Boo Chronicles is hosting a Memorable Memoirs Reading Challenge.

This is her definition of what goes for this challenge: "for this challenge, we're going to define memoir as a record of events written by a person having intimate knowledge of them and based on personal observation. Published letters, diaries, journals, autobiographies, nonfiction books on the craft of writing memoirs ... in my book, they all count as Memorable Memoirs for this challenge. (Generally, biographies don't, but I could always be convinced.)"

It's a year-long challenge and you can sign up at any time. Re-reads and overlaps with other challenges are allowed, and blog ownership is not required. There are 3 levels, and 19 people have signed up already.

If you detest memoirs or just don't want to participate in the above challenge, maybe this one is better suited to your tastes:

Julie of My Book Retreat is hosting a Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge.

The challenge runs through 2012 and the sign-up deadline is November 30.

You can choose from 4 levels. You don't need a blog and reviews are not required, but you do need to post about your progress.

The books must be non-fiction. Not allowed are memoirs, journals or autobiographies. Also not allowed are children's books, books that are not meant to be read from cover to cover, essays and articles, and re-reads. Crossovers with other challenges are allowed. At least one giveaway will be held for the participants.  30 participants have signed up so far.

 If you know of a genre reading challenge you would like me to cover in the follow-up post to this series, just leave a link in a comment to this post and I will take a look at it.

04 January 2012

Reading challenges to tempt you, part I: TBR challenges, and one more

I said in an earlier post that I was only going to do one big reading challenge in 2012, the already ongoing  TBR (read or cull) challenge. I also said I might consider some smaller challenges that could be done alongside the big one. The thought was to maybe find a couple of challenges to help me choose books within the TBR challenge, rather than ones that would necessitate going outside it for reading material.

With that in mind I have been looking at what challenges the members of the book blogging community have come up with for 2012. However, I haven't just been looking at challenges that will suit my criteria, but also reading challenges in general, perhaps in the subconscious hope that I might find a really fantastic one to tempt me. I thought it appropriate to first take a look at bloggers who are inviting others to join their TBR challenges, because, as everyone knows, misery loves company ;-)

Click on the links provided or on the challenge badge - either will take you to the sign-up page.  Before I take you to the TBR challenges, there is one special meta-challenge I think every challenge crazy reader should know about:

The Reading Challenge Addict challenge! By signing up for this challenge you can enter giveaways and win prizes and declare just how hardcore a challenge addict you are.

This challenge is exactly what it says on the label: to join and finish reading challenges. There are 4 levels and it runs throughout 2012. There are mini-challenges to be entered, giveaways for participants and special prize drawings.


And now for the TBR challenges
I don't see why you couldn't join all of these and thus accomplish the first level of the Addict challenge with no more effort than what is required to finish the easiest level of the hardest TBR challenge ;-)

The Tales from the Crypt blog is hosting the 2012 Read Your Own Books challenge.

It runs throughout 2012, anyone can join and blog ownership is not required, nor is reviewing. Not allowed are re-reads, library books, books acquired in 2012 or books you have been asked to review.

There are four levels, you do not need to post a list beforehand, and crossovers with other challenges are allowed.

When I last checked, 22 participants had already signed up.
Bev Hankins of My Reader's Block is hosting the Mount TBR Challenge.

The challenge is to read or listen to books from your own collection that you acquired before the beginning of 2012.

It runs throughout 2012, has 6 levels named after mountains and the sign-up deadline is November 30th, 2012. Cross-overs with other challenges are allowed. Blog ownership is not necessary, but bloggers can sign up and non-bloggers can leave comments announcing their participation. Bloggers do seem to be expected to post reviews.

 There are already 145 participants.


Bonnie and the team at Bookish Ardour are hosting the Off the Shelf 2012 challenge.

The challenge is pretty much the same as the above, except the sign-up deadline is mid-December and there are 7 levels.

If you own very few books you can still join and read books from your TBR list instead.

Reviewing is optional. Participants already number 104.


C.B. James of Ready When You Are, C.B. is hosting the TBR Double Dare.

This challenge runs from January 1 to April 1, 2012.It is left up to you how many TBR books you read in that time, but you must make a pledge to the number beforehand.

50 people have taken the dare so far.



Jen of The Hopeful Librarian is hosting the Unread Book Challenge of 2012.

This is all about finishing books you own and reducing your TBR stack.

The deadline for signing up is until the end of January and blog ownership is not required.

There are no levels, but prizes will be awarded for the number of TBR books read, for most progress made, and there will be an end-of-year giveaway open to the participants.


 If you know of a TBR reading challenge you would like me to cover in the follow-up post to this series, just leave a link in a comment to this post and I will take a look at it.

02 January 2012

Review: The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

Originally published in July 2005, on my original 52 Books blog.

When wealthy Lord Rule offers for the hand of the eldest Winwood sister, she knows she must accept, even if she loves another man. Her brother has sunk the family into debt and the only way of extricating them is for one of the sisters to marry a rich man, and Elizabeth is by far the prettiest. However, the youngest sister, 17 year old Horatia, is determined that her sister shall marry her beloved Edward, and so goes to Lord Rule to explain and offers herself in her sister’s place. To the family’s surprise, he accepts. It appears to Horatia that Rule does not love her (he has a mistress), and that bothers her, especially as she begins to fall in love with him. This leads to several misadventures, especially when Horatia becomes determined to conquer the heart of Lord Lethbridge, an old enemy of Rule’s, and thus make her husband jealous. The plan misfires and Horatia finds herself in deep trouble. Lord Rule, however, has an ace up his sleeve.

Most of Georgette Heyer’s historical romantic novels are Regencies, i.e. they take place during the years 1811 to 1820. It is therefore refreshing to find one that takes place in the 18th century (more precisely in 1776), when fashions were - to our modern eyes - rather silly: wigs, hair powder, towering hairdos, panniers, beauty spots, etc. Those fashions play a part in the story. Heyer’s attention to detail is amazing and she describes clothing styles, hairdos and accessories with gentle mockery of both fashion and wearers. The cant and slang expressions are probably genuine, considering how thoroughly she researched all her books. The story is deliciously frothy and silly - not that there is anything silly about the plotting, but the story is a farce that hinges on characters being silly.

Rating: Another delightful confection from Georgette Heyer. 3+ stars.