Cover Characteristics: Train

Cover Characteristics2

This is a new meme hosted by Sugar & Snark. It came about when Sugar was wondering which cover to use for her #70 Cover of the Week post. Sugar kept on thinking of more than one, and they all seemed to have a theme/characteristic. So she decided to switch things up a bit!

Each week we will post a characteristic and choose 5 of our favorite covers with that characteristic. If you want to join in and share your 5 favorite covers with the week’s particular characteristic, then just make a post, grab the meme picture (or make your own) and leave your URL in Linky (so we can visit). You don’t even need to participate, just stopping by and saying hi would be great! Don’t forget to stop by the other participants!


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Review: Last Night with the Duke


Title: Last Night with the Duke
Author: Amelia Grey
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: March 2017
Length: 297 pages
Series?: The Rakes of St. James #1
Genre: Historical Romance

Could finding love be his greatest scandal of all? 

The Duke of Griffin has never lived down his reputation as one of the Rakes of St. James. Now rumors are swirling that his twin sisters may bear the brunt of his past follies. Hiring a competent chaperone is the only thing Griffin has on his mind–until he meets the lovely and intriguing Miss Esmeralda Swift. In ways he could never have expected, she arouses more than just his curiosity.

Esmeralda Swift considered herself too sensible to ever fall for a scoundrel, but that was before she met the irresistibly seductive Duke of Griffin. His employment offer proves too tempting for her to resist. She can’t afford to be distracted by his devilish charms because the stakes are so high for his sisters’ debut Season. . .unless one of London’s most notorious rakes has had a change of heart and is ready to make Esmeralda his bride?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

The Skinny

Esmerelda Swift is an enterprising businesswoman who runs Miss Mamie Fortescue’s Employment Agency for women. She has run the agency and cared for her younger sister for some time, but things are becoming extremely tight. They need incoming jobs for Miss Mamie’s to continue its employment services….and keep their home. She has everything to lose.

When the Duke of Griffin whirls in and demands Esmerelda chaperone his twin sisters for their introduction to the ton, he won’t take no for an answer. After earning his nickname as one of the “Rakes of St. James” for his own behavior with young ladies of the ton during his younger days, he is now concerned for his own sisters’ safety and protection during their debut as rumors swirl. Especially when “Miss Honor A Truth’s” weekly scandal sheet is released…and the Duke and his sisters find themselves the center of Society attention.

A strong but friendly chaperone is the perfect answer. Esmerelda throws up a myraid of excuses and finds herself, her sister, and their dog living at Griffin’s home and ushering the argumentative twins to events while keeping the peace.


The Players

Esmerelda (Esme) – disowned granddaughter of a noble, quietly operates a servicewomen agency and cares for her sister

Josephine – Esmerelda’s 12 year old sister

Griffin – Benedict Mercer, Duke of Griffin, named one of the Rakes of St. James

Lady Vera – the forceful and cantankerous twin

Lady Sara – the sweet twin

Rust Rathburne – Duke of Rathburne, Griffin’s friend and another of the Rakes of St. James

Sloan Knox -Duke of Hawksthorn, Griffin’s friend and another of the Rakes of St. James

The Quote

If there was a yelling and a shove when they both wanted to play the pianoforte, what would happen when they both started vying for the same young man’s attention?

The Highs and Lows

  • Esmerelda. Her past is important and often Essie turns to in her own thoughts. She is the granddaughter of a viscount, nobility in her own right. However, since her mother chose to love an Irish poet against the wishes of her father, Esmerelda’s mother was disowned. Both her mother and stepfather have since passed on, leaving Esmerelda to care for her 12-year-old sister who is a mix of bratty and sweet. Esmerelda’s life went from governesses to becoming one, and she worked her way up to now own Miss Mamie Fortescue’s Employment Agency, a small company that places servicewomen with high society families. Essie is an enterprising, hard-working, independent, and stubborn woman. I admired and revered her for those qualities, but at times they also seemed like a facade. Essie is hired for her strong backbone, but at every turn in her new employ she is ready to rush and pack her bags, knowing she will be fired. Her independence and confidence were like the spikes and drops in a diabetic’s blood sugar.
  • The Attraction. I didn’t find there to be any romance in this “romance” novel. Benedict Mercer, the Duke of Griffin, is inexplicably attracted to Esmerelda the moment he hears her voice while eavesdropping on her reprimanding an employee. And again when he sets eyes on her. The insta-lust remains that throughout the entire book. There is no real development of their relationship, no growth. They spend very little time together, and their “romance” is some secretive kisses and make-out sessions in the library that can’t go too far. Essie’s commoner “miss” status draws Griffin like a moth to a flame, and ultimately what he also uses to push her away. A Duke can’t marry a mere commoner, but he can dally with one. Flirt, tease, bemoan the fact that he needs to settle down with a “proper” lady. It was a bit of a farce watching Griffin’s intentions completely change as soon as he learned of her family heritage and nobility status. It didn’t seem authentic or believable.
  •  The Goofs. Historically, this is not quite accurate. In no Regency world would a single, virginal employment agency administrator with a teenage sister and a rascally dog be a live-in partial chaperone. Essie doesn’t conduct the full duties of a chaperone, only the public facing ones. All of the planning and orchestrating has been done by Griffin’s aunt, who can’t go out due to a skin condition, which seemed engineered on her part to force Griffin toward a woman. Not to mention how a Duke would not be entering a women’s employment agency. No, there are servants for that – even the housekeeper at worst would have been sent.
  • The Twins. While the twins are quite snotty and catty, they show some development. They fight over everything left and right, and there seemed to even be a slight streak of malice in one of them, aimed at the other. They are high-spirited and high maintenance. However, their undying love for the same man is soon overcome and resolved, and Sara ends up finding her own love. Once the twins got past their tit-for-tat, I enjoyed their characters immensely and hope they make more than just cameos in the remainder of the series. In fact, I wonder if Rath or Hawk will wind up falling for Vera.
  • The Mysterious Revenge Plot. The entire plot of the story revolves around blind Sir Welby’s first-hand accounts of a group of young men bent on ruining Griffin’s sisters. Reputations and perceptions are the powerhouse of the ton, and even the slightest mar is a death threat for a young woman – just like the dozen women Griffin, Hawk, and Rath innocently damaged a decade prior when each young lady appeared at a clandestine location, unchaperoned, in the middle of the night to meet their secret admirers. While there are rumors continuing to abound, Griffin and Esmerelda are suspicious of every young man who shows too much attention or none at all! When the Season is half over with no attempt of harm, they begin to question the validity of Sir Welby’s claim. The mysterious revenge plot drug on…and then dissipated. It was quite anticlimactic.



Amelia Grey (aka Gloria Dale Skinner) grew up in a small town in the Florida Panhandle. She has been happily married to her high school sweetheart for over twenty-five years. She has lived in Alabama, Connecticut, New Hampshire and now lives in Florida.

Amelia has won the coveted Romantic Times award for Love and Laughter, the prestigious Maggie award for best historical and Affaire de Coeur’s best American historical award. She has been a finalist for the Golden Heart and the Holt Medallion awards which are given by Romance Writers of America and numerous other awards. Her books have been sold to many countries in Europe, Russia and China.

Amelia likes flowers, candlelight, sweet smiles, gentle laughter and sunshine.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Sunday Post ~ Nostalgia

0abf9b9e-b7ac-4d59-b451-7eb7c64ea1b9_zps47hi5hueThe Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received, and share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead. To get in on the Sunday funday, see the rules here: Suday Post Meme.


The little rugrat Cera is doing much better! She finished the antibiotics on Thursday and she is back to her romping self, orchestrating bunny runs with Baby. They’ve been particularly interested in the doghouse that came with The Man’s house. I suspect a batch of bunnies underneath. That is going to get fixed this week, though.

On Tuesday I had to go pick up packages at my house and also go through some tubs of things my mother set aside for me. A lot of it was from my high school prom and graduation and old newspaper clippings, cards, and photos. Oh, so many photos! I now have them all tucked away in a box at The Man’s, but I showed him my amazing winking skills as debuted in childhood photos from age 3-5ish. I did not, however, show him any photos of me sporting an honest-to-God mullet. I do not believe I told my mother I wanted that hairstyle, no matter how much I was enamored of one-hit wonder Billy Cyrus.

Most of the photos were from my pre-teen and teen years, though. It was nice to look back and reminisce on them. I will be the first to admit that I’m a very nostalgic person, as is my mother. I found the homemade birthday card my baby brother made for my 18th birthday when he was learning to write, the only card I could find from my late grandfather, and the university graduation announcement from my late aunt’s master’s degree from the same university I later attended, as well as a few cards from her before she started typing them. I plan to put all my prom and graduation things into my bullet journal, fitting since this year was our 10-year reunion.

My tell-tale winking skills are evident in more than just this Christmas photo. I was a charmer!

This week The Man’s dad comes to visit for a Texas summer. There are some projects on the agenda, but he will also be looking at properties in the area may be looking at properties in the area. On Thursday afternoon The Man was on the phone as soon as he woke up (which never happens unless it’s the DA or court liaison). It was his dad and the news was not good. I don’t even know definitively if he’s still coming down or not, but I hope we have some answers soon.





  • Monday
    • Cover Characteristics ~ Train
    • Review ~ Last Night with the Duke
  • Tuesday
    • Top Ten Tuesday ~
    • Teaser Tuesday & Intro ~ The Unwanted Heiress
  • Wednesday
    • WWW Wednesday
  • Thursday
    • My Bullet Journal ~ Recent Work
  •  Friday
    • Book Blogger Hop ~ 7.28.17


Book Blogger Hop ~ 7.21.17


The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. Each week poses a book-related question. The hop starts on Friday and ends on Thursday. The purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers.

Have you ever read a book you would consider ‘toxic’ because of the effect it had on you? If so, which one(s)? (submitted by Maria @ A Night’s Dream of Books)


I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book that was toxic to me. I’ve had a book that I disagreed with so vehemently because it was so preachy that it set me off, but that’s it.

WWW Wednesdays (July 19)


This is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words. To join in answer the following three questions and hop over to Sam’s and leave your link.

What are you currently reading?


I didn’t know this was a sequel…and it’s not even listed as such in the title on Goodreads. Either way, I’m hoping Tumble Creek doesn’t require a dependency on book 1 and can read as a stand-alone. I started it just yesterday so I’m not too far into it, but so far I’ve met Sophie (not that I know a lot about her besides she’s an art teacher) and her friend Britt has mysteriously disappeared. Her art students say the rumor is she’s in witness protection. It will be interesting to find out!

In the sequel to Home Truths, Louise Forster returns to the sleepy country town of Tumble Creek with the story of a cop, a teacher and a mystery that will bring them together—or tear them apart.

Art teacher and occasional life model Sofie Dove wants to know what’s up with Brock Stewart. Everything about the ex SAS soldier turned police officer seems to scream passion—and it’s all for her—but he just won’t express it. All she knows is that he has a past that still keeps him up some nights.

After a semi-trailer crashes through Sofie’s house and the driver disappears into thin air, Brock insists he’s the only one who can keep her safe—but can he, when they can’t seem to trust each other?

While Sofie works on figuring out why this man keeps giving her mixed messages, Brock is determined to find out who’s out to get her—as they both find out why falling in love is a bit like being hit by a truck.

 What did you just finish reading?

I finished Blue Steal Tuesday morning and the ending was spectacularly crazy. Not unbelievable, just a bizarre series of events that bring all the living Holloway relations to the once-grand Empire hotel. I was dying to know where the Petrovsky sapphire necklace was hidden since it never turned up after the “burglary” 50 years before or the previous week when the matching ring was found at the bottom of the dumb waiter shaft. Despite the story that her great-uncle told the police, the truth is revealed and Selina does find the sapphires. Now her sister’s expensive surgery can happen…but Lewis is still looming over her. There were some excellent examples of figurative language sprinkled throughout, especially toward the end. Some were quite comical…as long as it someone else’s situation.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I still have to write up my review of Blue Steal, and I’m sitting at 8% for NetGalley. Continuing on with some summery-looking NG reads. While I probably won’t meet my goal of 50 NG books by the end of the year, I’m thinking I have a good chance of being at 12% by the end of the year. If anyone knows how to remove approved books that you never downloaded, I’d love to know (if that’s even possible). It’s progress!


 How about you? What are you reading this week?

Leave a comment with your answers! Share the link to your WWW Wednesday post OR leave your answers in the comments if you don’t have a blog. Happy Reading! 🙂

Tuesday Teaser & Intro: Never Trust a Pirate


I am trying to catch up on my backlog of recent reads since I have been hiatus-ing. And it will let me catch up with my reading since I’m not reading as fast these days and it’s taking me longer to get through a book.

Synopsis ~ Never Trust a Pirate

The rules of engagement were never so scandalous. . .

A rumored pirate and the scurrilous black sheep of his well-to- do family, Cade Cavendish relishes his world of rebellion, deception, and seduction. Nothing and no one can hold him to be the duty-bound, honorable man he is expected to be. But when an unexpected run-in at his twin brother’s estate with a ravishing, raven-haired maid leads her to believe he’s actually a viscount, Cade’s renegade life is thrown wildly off-kilter. And even though a case of mistaken identity can be quickly set to rights, matters of the heart are quite different…

Miss Danielle LaCrosse is startled to learn that the handsome gentleman who radiates sin and has the devil in his eyes is not her employer the Viscount, but rather his infamous brother. A former heiress, orphaned and left penniless, Danielle has more than a few secrets of her own. Cade may be skilled at coaxing even the most hidden desires out of Danielle but can he earn her trust–and win her heart–as they embark on an adventure to confront a dangerous enemy from both of their pasts . . . and uncover the identity of the so-called Black Fox along the way?


Chapter 1

London Harbor, July 1817

Only three steps. Only three steps separated him from the map. It was there, laying on the rickety wooden table in the captain’s stateroom aboard a ship aptly named Le Secret Francais. The only sound in the cramped space was his own breathing. Sweat beaded on his brow. He’d come this far. Braved the murky, cold water, swam out to the ship moored at the London docks. Climbed aboard silent as a wraith, dressed all in black. Wrung out his clothing to keep it from dripping so there wouldn’t be a trail. Managed to steal into the captain’s quarters as the man slept, and now, now only three steps remained between him and the priceless map.



Of course his brother didn’t know why he’d come. The man had been shocked when Cade had appeared at the Earl of Swifdon’s town house last year, introducing himself as Mr. Daffin Oakleaf, one of his many aliases. Rafe had thought he was dead. Hell, everyone had thought he was dead. [Loc 175]


“Complicated things make the best stories.” [Loc 1166]


Would you keep reading? 

tuesdayTeaser Tuesday is hosted by The PurpleBooker. Post two sentences from somewhere in a book you’re reading. No spoilers, please! List the author and book title too. Link up HERE.

First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Bibliophile By The Sea. To participate, share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you’re reading or thinking about reading soon. Link up HERE.


Review: The Phantom Tollbooth


Title: The Phantom Tollbooth
Author: Norton Juster
Publisher: Random House Bullseye Books
Release Date: 1961
Length: 256 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Children’s, Fantasy

For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams. . .

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

I had never read The Phantom Tollbooth as a child, and I had no idea what my students and I were about to embark on this past year while reading.

The Skinny

Milo is not your typical boy. No, he doesn’t find joy or even contentment in anything. Everything is boring and useless. What is this life even for? Until one day he arrives home to find a tollbooth waiting with a manual and coinage, ready to take him to the Kingdom of Wisdom. Through a series of adventures and characters along the way, Milo travels around the kingdom and is soon tasked with rescuing twin princesses Rhyme and Reason. Nothing has been the same in the kingdom since they were banished, and many want them to set things to rights.


The Players

Milo – a young boy who is utterly bored with everything in life, nothing satisfies him or even slightly makes him content

Tock – a “watch dog” – a dog with a clock that can fly

The Humbug – a bug who can never make up his mind and is in general disagreeable, sometimes a hindrance

The Quote

You must never feel badly about making mistakes … as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.

The Highs and Lows

  • Milo. He is a young boy, but his character grated on my nerves…at first. Milo doesn’t see the point in anything. He doesn’t see the point in learning at all. Words didn’t matter. Slowly, as Milo traipsed from place to place, he slowly morphed and changed and grew. By the end of the book, he was the exact opposite of the boy he was at the beginning, and I liked that. He learns to talk to people and mean things, too.
  • Abstractions. Each of the places Milo visits and all of his tasks are rather abstract, so they aren’t really for younger readers. I’d say 10-12 is the right age to read this for the first time, especially independently. I read this with a group of my sixth-grade students, and I will say they remembered more intricacies and nuances of characters, actions, or words from previous days’ readings than I did. They also understood the jokes, which is 70% or more of the book. The play on words, puns, deeper meanings, and overall abstract language about abstract concepts were cause for pause and thought.

  • Adventures. As Milo moves around the Kingdom of Wisdome (see map), he has pitfalls and lessons learned along the way to his ultimate goal: reaching the Castle in the Sky and saving Rhyme and Reason. As Milo and Tock travel, they meet other characters (Whether Man, the Mathemagician, Kakofonous Discord, King Azaz the Unabridged to name a few) who help teach Milo something, and a few characters depart certain magical items to Milo that he will need to accomplish his mission. For example, he learns there is an almost limitless number of words, but choosing the right words for every occasion is important. He ends up in some serious situations and some funny ones, like when everyone else was eating such tasty treats at the King Azaz’s feast.
  • Lack of engagement. This is a slow book to wade through. Yes, you have to wade. Slowly. You want to finish the book, but you also want to move on to different, more engaging and fun reads. It takes a while to get through, but I appreciated the growth Milo experienced.



Norton Juster is an architect and planner, professor emeritus of design at Hampshire College, and the author of a number of highly acclaimed children’s books, including The Dot and the Line, which was made into an Academy Award-winning animated film. He has collaborated with Sheldon Harnick on the libretto for an opera based on The Phantom Tollbooth. The musical adaptation, with a score by Arnold Black, premiered in 1995. An amateur cook and professional eater, Mr. Juster lives with his wife in Amherst, Massachusetts.