4.24.2014

Review: The Scandalous Love of a Duke


The Scandalous Love of a Duke
The Scandalous Love of a Duke by Jane Lark

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I’d read the first in this series earlier in the year and quite enjoyed it so I was excited to give this one a go as well. John Harding is the son of the main characters of the first book, Ellen and Edward. Theirs was quite an angsty tale and John and Kate were not a disappointment in that department.

I didn’t quite get why John was so emotionally closed off given that his mother and her then, new husband Edward, took him into their care when he was ten from his grandfather and though it was stated often in the story that the time apart had been what informed him most, I just had a difficult time buying him as this unloved, tortured soul. Most especially because the distance he put between his family and others was self-imposed. And he took such a put upon tone so often, I found I lost sympathy and patience with him often. I especially didn’t like him issuing orders at her and it really took away from the romance for me. Kate had the patience of some sort of saint. And if I am honest, I recollect feeling the same with Ellen and Edward, so perhaps John came by it honestly as his mother could be a bit tiring in that was as well. Still, there’s something about the way the story weaves and wends that pulled me in again and in spite of myself, I was pulling for John and Kate.

I did feel Kate was too sacrificial in the beginning but she did begin speaking up for herself with John a bit more as the story went along and for that I was grateful. She also had her own challenges which for the most part, I understood but there were times where she annoyed me a bit as well. Still though, I rooted for them and kept turning the pages because I was interested. As in the first book, the B-plot really pulled me in and I was very much interested in Wareham and I liked the twists and the tie up of that thread in the story. I’d sussed out Kate’s parentage early on but I was not disappointed in the reveal though I did hold a grudge against her father and had absolutely no more use for her mother. I very much enjoyed seeing Edward and Ellen happy in their lives but also having to deal with the facts of their lives up to meeting and how Ellen’s life in particular had informed John’s childhood.

Overall, I enjoyed this as I did the first in the series. I appreciate the author’s skill at making me care about the characters in moments that otherwise I would roll my eyes and toss my Kindle across the room. I still care in those moments and I want to press on. I admit even to being caught up in the angst and emotion of the story far more than my logical side would like. This is a quick, enjoyable read and definitely a good one for vacation or a weekend. Also, I did receive a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.



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4.21.2014

work in progress: derailed knit fail

not all adventures in yarn lead where you wish nor are resounding successes. in the case of this scarf, i began but found after seeing the striated color pattern emerge that, given the stitch, i'd rather go another way with the yarn. i haven't an actual frog pile but this is going to be frogged before nightfall to be worked into something awesome.

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4.19.2014

Review: Free to Fall


Free to Fall
Free to Fall by Lauren Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



First, I should say that I received this book free as a First Reads in exchange for my honest review. I had to think about this one for a couple days before writing a review. SPOILERS FOLLOW>>>

SPOILERS TERRITORY

I’ll begin with the characters. It took me quite a while to get into Rory. She related the story well but I didn’t feel much for her or think she was very much fleshed out as a character for much of the story. I couldn’t actually tell if I liked her until somewhere around 200-250 or so pages in. She had some interesting qualities but none seemed to pull together to make her real.

She is accepted to the famed Theden Academy and she’s supposed to be academically gifted, but she doesn’t express much interest in school. She has an affinity for maths but aside from counting in Fibonacci to sleep instead of sheep, she isn’t shown doing anything with those skills until they’re put into play for the “big moment” near the end. That made her skill seem like a parlor trick or plot point more than a “real” characteristic of the character. I honestly thought she’d join the Math Club at Theden, but no, she’s not a joiner, either. She says she’s into music but beyond listening to her favorite playlists, being introduced to North’s band & snapping her fingers for a few of their tracks well, there’s not much there either. She is desperate for any information on her deceased mother (who also matriculated at Theden) and is completely taken with a quote her mother left her from Milton’s Paradise Lost but she doesn’t do anything about it. She gets the quote early on in the story but doesn’t seek out the book or show any other interest in this deeply important link to her mother until she sees the book at North’s apartment and he offers to let her borrow it to read. Seriously, I was annoyed with the fact that it took a boy to introduce her (and give her a summary, as well) to it when she surely could have sought out a copy herself. I don’t like rewards handed to main characters, I like them to seek them out. Rory is led to and handed the pieces and sometimes the pieces are put together in coherent explanations for her also. And this was just one “Easter egg” in kind of a heaping basketful of them for Rory. Still, I didn’t dislike her but neither did I love her either.

I did like Beck immediately and was sad there was so little of him in the book. There was at least a mention at the end, of his fate and for that I was glad. He was missed throughout the main. I liked Hershey immediately but only because she was so heavily drawn in the vapid, frenemy, mean girl way that I knew (okay, really hoped. hard.) that there was more to her. Happily, I was correct (the same is to be said of Dr. Tarsus, whom I also found well done and interesting). I also liked Liam and Nora. Sadly, Nora was literally on one page, said something compelling and was never heard from or seen again. Sorry Nora, but thanks for stopping by. There were two other girls in Rory and Hershey’s group but honestly they felt so interchangeable that I can’t even recall much beyond their names. Rachel and Izzy (I think). Rachel got into the society but I can’t recall if she was the calorie/weight obsessed one.

Oh, and then there’s North. Actually, Norvin but he has to go by North because, how perfect a match to a girl named Aurora is that? So perf and twee. Anyway, North is Rory’s love interest and I won’t hate because it was at least kept at a non-nauseating level and I appreciate the author’s restraint. For the record, I applaud it. North, had a similar problem as his girl Rory, he didn’t get to be a full person. Perhaps there wasn’t time but when he came on the scene, Rory’s description of him was like a love note to Seattle tourist traps (tats, mohawk, coffee slinging, hacker). Girl, stop. But since she’s from Seattle, I guess it worked for her. He’s signaling counter-culture bad boy but he’s totally non-threatening, so he’s the perfect book boyfriend. North didn’t have anything that could be construed as flaws (or depth) and all kinds of wish fulfilment cred (his own apartment, no parents or guardian to interfere in his business, a motorbike, an under-the-table well paying job and an additional fully paid for apartment in midtown Manhattan with a balcony for the final getaway. Not bad for an eighteen year old). I personally found that he’d put a camera inside the necklace he’d gifted Rory with (without telling her) highly creepy and not cute (I don’t care why he did it) but I’ve learnt with YA that many things boyfriends do that are creepy & exceeding boundaries to me are taken by many as romantic and sweet. I did find it a niggling continuity problem that he tells her Theden has a restraining order against him and he’s not to be within fifty feet of the campus (as much as he likes her, he’s not about risking jail as it would destroy his career) but then takes Rory to the Student Health Center when she’s come down with flu. It’s never mentioned that this is at some other location off campus so… ok then.

A few more things. The descriptions of Rory’s Practicum & Cognitive Psych classes were very well done. The simulations were vivid in Practium as were the discussions and the clinical information in Cog Psych were fascinating and relevant to the story. The Doubt was a well done thread throughout. I enjoyed every instance of Lux and Gnosis/Gold. These seemed so timely and also forward looking with regard to our relationship with technology now. Even I admit that I never know what’s on television because I rely on my television to tell me when my programs are on. I completely understood how seamless reliance of tech for the simplest decisions had overtaken society to the extent it had in this near-future story. I both liked and was annoyed by the convergence of Gnosis, Big Pharma and Gold. I liked the skill with which the author pulled the threads together for the plot but I thought the plot itself was a tad heavy handed. Insofar as it being a timely topic, it worked but it also plays to current paranoias with easy targets. Again, it was well drawn by the author and highly relatable but there was no counterbalance to the “all is evil” angle. I honestly don’t know why Rory had a problem with Hershey remaining at Theden once everything happened when it was clear that Gnosis & more specifically, the Society are the problem, not everything ,nor everyone at Theden are a part of that and the institution still had relevance and worth to others. At least she admitted that the choice was what mattered.


This books is 469 pages and I admit that it seemed a bit slow for the first 200 or so. The action picks up around page 350 (as did my like for Rory) and holds well until the end. There are some very good ethical questions raised and what our relationship with technology should be. Above all people, read those Terms of Service Agreements. I’m glad that I read this and I’d recommend it so 4 stars.



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4.18.2014

simple things: hot chocolate & strawberries

simple things offer a lot of joy in life, so i try to appreciate them & find them often. i had a pint of beautiful strawberries & a large mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream. lush.

what are your favorite simple things? be sure to indulge in one soon & give yourself a boost.

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4.17.2014

completed: bulky alpaca blend knit scarf

i finished knitting this last night. i love the pastel color wisps in the yarn & i'm fairly excited to give the skeins of this yarn in purple the same treatment. for the life of me, i can't recall where i got this yarn but it's been in my yarn stash for a while. i'm glad i've got around to using it.

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