Jean-Marie's bookshelf: read

Mistress by Mistake
The Bride
The Winter Sea
Three Weeks in Paris
The Secret
The Duke's perfect wife
The Many Sins of Lord Cameron
Lady Isabella's scandalous marriage
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

Jean-Marie's favorite books »

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pen to paper

A mutual blogger that I follow made reference to the series "Felicity" I find myself watching "Felicity" on Netflix.  How could I have missed this series?!?!  I recall the title but I have never seen it during its primary broadcasting nor in syndication.  What a wonderful series.  In thinking back this was during the time of my own college days, probably right around my graduation and nose dive into the grown-up world of real employment.  Honest to goodness make my own living, pay my own bills, provide my own health benefits and pulling up my big girl panties.   Having always worked nights... no wonder I missed some really cool television.    Funny I recall my very first credit card (so that I could establish my adult credit ) was a Sears card.  My first purchase... a VCR.. but even more funny.. I don't think I recorded one single show.

While watching, Felicity, I was particularly taken with the "taped" letters she composed at the beginning of each episode.   I often wish that I had kept in touch with childhood penpals.  One in particular comes to mind.. Her name was Paula, and I am horribly embarrassed to admit that I have forgotten her last name.   While in 4th grade at Cathedral Day Parochial School, Sister Georgette was new to our school and as a class project gave each of us a name and address of a student from her previous teaching assignment in NY.  She chose each one with care and tried her best to link students with similar interests and personalities.  Paula was Polish Catholic  (like myself... very rare in the South) and had a love of horses, as most dreamy eyed girls that age.  I also remember thinking how unbelievably worldly she must have been to live in NY.  Spoken like a true southern girl from the tiny town of Hardeeville, SC.   There's another really special connection as my father grew up in NY and often spoke of his childhood.... I would put those vivid descriptions together with the letter that I so eagerly awaited.  We had such big plans of visiting one another, growing up and being roommates and taking the world by storm... of course while owning    But sadly, time moved on, life's trials got in the way and the letters became fewer and further between.  Both of us finding other "real time" activities more exciting.   I often think of her and wonder how life has treated her.   Hoping that all her 10 year old dreams came true...while riding that magical pony.

The art of putting pen to paper is such a dying art.   With the advent of the computer age and instant correspondence , waiting for a letter to arrive in the mail seems so antiquated to most.   I find myself sorely remiss in writing a simple thank you or sending a birthday greeting or card.  How sad that in yet another area of our lives we are losing the human touch.   Maybe I need to find a penpal...

Side note... the day after posting the above
On second thought I need glasses or I have dyslexia.... I rechecked the time line on Felicity... 1998 not 1989...   In 1998 I was knee deep in dirty diapers, sleepless nights and motherhood.   Yet another good reason not to be aware of the latest tv   Oddly enough, the actors in the show closer to my actual age making time difference not seem sooo long.    Oh well I liked my post.. So I am going to leave it as is with this small disclaimer at the bottom..     

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fall is in the air....

I do love the nip of winter, but I especially LOVE the brilliant colors of fall.  The crisp morning air and the chill of the evening as the sun begins to set.  The warmth and snuggle factor of flannel and fuzzy socks.  The smell of people putting fires in their chimneys , pumpkin spice lattes and of course HALLOWEEN.... apple orchards, hot spiced cider,  pumpkin patches and corn mazes.  Truly these are a few of my favorite things..... Que The Sound of Music....when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I feeling sad......I digress.

I have been stalking this book for some time now.  I am an avid buyer of used books, kindle worshipper and frequent my public library... But, with fall in the air and the vibrant colors of the cover.... it just drew me in.   Well that and of course the lovely sale price sticker...hehe.  I am always curious how my views compare from the YOUNG ME and the SLIGHTLY OLDER version of ME.  The internal lettering pleases me as well.  Its has an atypical warm sepia quality as opposed to the more often seen stark black and white printing.  It just feels like a hug..  


(psssst....close your eyes and ignore the calorie count on those lattes....yikes)

Friday, September 21, 2012

I have discovered and I must say it is AWESOME!!  My first download was "The Winter Sea" (own in every this book)....  Its a sub-branch of and if you own a book on kindle they give you a greatly discounted rate on the audiobook.   Just download the app or have the appropriate kindle device and open an account.  I have the app on my droid phone and two iPod touches.  One day an iPhone or iPad...coveting!!!   The account is free although you can go with a paid version, for which you receive discounts and you a free download of your choice every month.   I had an insta-chat with one of the associates and he gave me a link for 3 half priced months, 7.49/month for 3 months and then 14.95/month thereafter.  You can cancel at anytime and the downloads you make are yours forever, regardless if you use the paid or free app.  Win Win for sure..  I  intend to use my monthly credits to buy the Outlander series (I own in hard and paperback), these run mid 20 to mid 30 per... so I think it is a great deal.   Hoping they will get the rights to release the Harry Potter series soon.   I enjoy listening to audiobooks when I clean (, sit in my carpool, drive to work or on loooong out of town tournaments for my kiddlywinks.

CHECK IT OUT!!!!        

Not my actual phone screen but an example
what mine looks like.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Wedding by Julie Garwood

(Sequel to "The Bride")
by Julie Garwood
1119. Journeying from England to Scotland to wed a highlander, Lady Brenna had resigned herself to the arranged match. But when a band of fierce, painted warriors captured her en route, she fearlessly met their demand to marry their leader -- the quick-tempered laird Connor MacAlister. She couldn't know that her capture was merely the first act of vengeance against her betrothed, Connor's sworn enemy.
Brenna harbored no illusions that her husband was in love with her; after a hasty forest wedding, MacAlister assured her she could return home once she had borne him a son. But she could not deny that she had once proposed to MacAlister -- ten years ago, when she was just a child, and the visitor to her father's castle charmed her with his dazzling, unexpected smile. Now, as she sets out to win the brave chieftain whom she has come to adore, a legacy of revenge ensnares Brenna in a furious clan war -- and only her faith in her gallant hero can save her....

It's a classic plot: a marriage of convenience that lays the groundwork for true love. But in Julie Garwood's deft hands, the story takes on a unique flavor. Set in medieval Scotland, a time and place Garwood obviously knows and loves, The Wedding couples a high-spirited and impulsive young woman named Brenna with a fierce Highland laird, Connor MacAlister. Their desperate attempts to maneuver around their true emotions have all the twists, turns, and kicks of a raucous Scottish dance.

Really more of a 4.5+.  I adore Alec, Connor and Quinlan... would love the stories to go on and on.  The female characters are strong but have their quirky flaws which make them human and equally as lovable..  Makes you cheer for them and a happy ending.  Would have liked a longer epilogue , esp since there wasn't a third book to the series :(
Garwood is quickly becoming one of my go to authors.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Raspberry Fool

A decadent cool treat for the family in honor of a recent decadent read for mom....  The money I saved on the free kindle download from my public library, I spent on raspberries.  Those buggers ain't cheap

                                     Raspberry Fool inspired by

Mistress By Mistake
by Maggie Robinson
Charlotte Fallon let her guarded virtue fall once--and she's paid dearly for it ever since. She swore she'd never succumb to men's desires again. But even a village spinster's life miles from temptation can't save her from a sister with no shame whatsoever. Or a heart that longs for more, whatever the cost. . .
Sir Michael Bayard found more than he expected in his bed when he finally joined his new mistress. He'd fantasized about her dewy skin and luscious curves, assured her understanding that what passed between them was mere dalliance. But he didn't expect the innocence and heat of her response in his arms. Nor her surprisingly sharp tongue once she was out of them. . .
A few days of abandon cannot undo the hard-learned lessons of a lifetime. Nor can an honest passion burn away the restraints of society's judgments. Unless, of course, one believes in nonsense like true love. . .

one pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
raspberries...approx 18 oz

Whip cream and sugar until stiff peaks
My beloved magic bullet with
processor blade

 put approx 1 1/2 cups raspberries in a food processor (not blender), you do not want to grind the seeds.  Place puree in a fine strainer and with a rubber spatula separate liquid from pulp.  Pour liquid portion of puree into whipped cream/sugar mixture and fold or continue to whip.  I received a fancy mixer for my birthday so I whipped to my hearts content.  

Layer the whipped mixture and fresh raspberries in a serving dish of you liking.  I chose wine goblets.. three large for my growing greedy boys and two smaller ones for the hubs and myself.  Chill in fridge until ready to serve. 
 My boys were fools for Raspberry Fool!!!

Austenland by Shannon Hale

by Shannon Hale

Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.   Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen—or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man—perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?
Don't miss Shannon Hale's next book, Midnight in Austenland, a mystery set at Pemberly available in February, 2012

What a fun, light and enjoyable read. Certainly touched the deeply romantic but ever so modern "Austen-gal" in me. We have all been through the trials and tribulation of the modern love with hope of the romantic notion of Mr Darcy.

A total 5 stars for its entertainment value.  Made me smile.

"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun. "
Elizabeth…. “Pride and Prejudice”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Further reflection on "The WInter Sea"

I read many book within a short span of time... Many I love or at least like a great deal.  Rarely, if ever,  do I bother to read a book that doesn't hold my attention by the end of the "free sample" (kindle mania).  But, I must say that I am having a hard time shaking this read.  It seems to resonate within my soul.   I am coastal gal, with a deeply romantic heart and truly feel that I am an old soul (with a young spirit ).   I sooo loved this book.

The following quote from "The Winter Sea" is profound just from the basic level of its wording... but can certainly hold deeper meaning when one is going through periods of great turmoil.  To all my friends and love ones that need a little extra love.

"-- the fields might fall to fallow and the birds might stop their song awhile;  the growing things might die and lie in silence under snow, while through it all the cold sea wore its face of storms and death and sunken hopes...and yet unseen beneath the waves a warmer current ran that, in its time, would bring the spring. "

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Bride by Julie Garwood

The Bride
by Julie Garwood

1102. By edict of the King, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice was Jamie, youngest daughter of Baron Jamison... a feisty, violet-eyed beauty. Alec ached to touch her, to tame her, to possess her... forever. But Jamie vowed never to surrender to this Highland barbarian.

He was everything her heart warned against--an arrogant scoundrel whose rough good looks spoke of savage pleasures. And though Kincaid's scorching kisses fired her blood, she brazenly resisted him... until one rapturous moment quelled their clash of wills, and something far more dangerous than desire threatened to conquer her senses...


By edict of the king, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice was Jamie, the feisty youngest daughter of Baron Jamison. Alec ached to touch her, to tame her, to possess her forever. But Jamie vowed never to surrender to this highland barbarian. Though his kisses fired her blood, shadowed secrets from Alec’s past threatened Jamie’s happiness. She brazenly resisted him — until one rapturous moment quelled their clash of wills, and something far more dangerous than desire promised to conquer her heart.

I am torn between 3 and 4 stars on this one.  Its not that I didn't really like it, just struggled a bit with the circular issues.  Realized with the ending that it all comes full circle and all "issues" were necessary.  I am just one of those people that got frustrated with Lucy and Ethel and the Seinfeld crew... I am of the mind.. Just don't do stupid things.  

I am looking forward to the next book in this series... "The Wedding".  I do enjoy this author, her books are an easy and fast read (at least for me).  She fits into and fulfills my romantic, Scottish Highlander, happy place.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

THE WINTER SEA by Susanna Kearsley

The Winter Sea
by Susanna Kearsley

Per Shelfari
History has all but forgotten the spring of 1708, when an invasion fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors, and starts to write.
But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory...making her the only living person who can know the truth of what did happen all those years ago - a tale of love and loyalty...and ultimate betrayal.

The story of an epic love that transcends both time and place from an award-winning author. "A deeply engaging romance and a compelling historical novel . . . Susanna Kearsley has written a marvelous book."--Bernard Cornwell.

Per ME :)
Probably THE best book I have read in a very long, and that is HUGE, as I read 3 books in a week.  I have run the gammet of emotions with this book,... I find my self emotionally spent and in need of a respit..   Normally, I am ravenous to start my next literary find, have many waiting in the wings... I do not see this as a bad thing...  Please do not interpret as a slight to this wonderful book... for it is not.   I have this feeling of being at peace and in need of contemplation ... to gaze upon that winter sea and reflect. 

Such wonderful descriptions..  Not the filler fluff that can be distracting, but those that add color and texture and make the story richer.  Fluids transitions between past and present, author and characters.  Found it very hard to put down and had to make myself SLOOOOW down and  savor every detail..   Though classified as historical fiction.. I found the fictional characters as real as the non-fictional characters and events.  Learned additional information about pre-Culloden Scotland.  Wonderful balance of story and character development with a romantic edge.

I have rated many books as "loved" with 5 stars, and I truly did love them..  BUT, having read this novel, certainly makes me re-evaluate some of my reviews and reset the bar for 5 stars.   This one far exceeded many.  Cannot recommend enough.... SHOUTING IT FROM THE EDGE OF THE CLIFFS AT CASTLE SLAIN.

"Where e' er' I go, my soul shall stay with thee:
'Tis but my Shadow that I take away."