Thursday, August 13, 2015

Corset-eria

Belle (2014)
The broad skirts of the mid-1700's needed necklines to match, and the most popular style was wide and low, trimmed with a band of fine lace called the tatez-y or "touch here". A bow at the neck was called parfait contentment, or "perfect contentment".

Kirsten Dunst, Marie Antoinette (2006)
Amazing Grace (2006)
But clotheshorses who thirsted for a little more decoration gussied up the fronts of the gowns, either by wearing wraparound bodices, with a teasing ruffled dickey peering out from the deep vee; or more commonly, by adding robings.

These ornamenta trimmings lined the edges of the bodice, from the shoulders to the waist, where it meets the stomacher -- still around and tormenting its wearers after two centuries. Since women often designed their robings and stomachers themselves, bodices became a showcase for personal taste.

Marie Antoinette (2006)
Belle (2014)
By the 1760's, many women abandoned stomachers, but not to increase their circulation. Instead, they pressed their corsets into double duty -- now covered with elegant fabrics and trimmed with metallic lace just begging for display.

18th Century corsets via Pinterest.
Not only fashionplates wore corsets. In the eighteen century, there were styles for every occasion -- including pregnancy and horseback riding -- for everyone, including young boys.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Saturday, August 1, 2015

August Releases


  HISTORICAL ROMANCE 

LADY EMILY'S EXOTIC JOURNEY
Victorian Adventures, Book Three
By Lillian Marek
August 4, 2015


Safe in the embrace of her loving family, Lady Emily Tremaine longs to feel more intensely alive. Surely the magic and mystery of Assyria and the fabled ruins of Nineveh will bring about the transformation she seeks.

Scarred by his past and estranged from his noble grandfather, French adventurer Lucien Chambertin desires neither a home nor the chains of emotional attachment. He seeks only to explore the far reaches of the world. But he did not know the world contained the likes of Lady Emily-whose curiosity and sense of wonder match his own.

I've yet to read a book by Lillian Marek, but I really want to read this historical romance. It sounds like the perfect summer escape.


WHEN A SCOT TIES THE KNOT
Castles Ever After Series, Book Three
By Tessa Dare
August 25, 2015


On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.

A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.

Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.

I can't wait to read this book! I adore Tessa Dare romances. 


THE PRINCE AND I
The Oxenburg Princes, Book Two
By Karen Hawkins
August 25, 2015


Max Romanovin, Oxenburg’s warrior prince, is escorting his grandmother to a house party deep in the Highlands when he and his entourage are robbed at sword point by a group of ruffians led by a man the locals have dubbed “The Scottish Robin Hood.” The battle-savvy prince instantly realizes there’s something different about this thief, and it’s not just the Scottish accent— it’s the fact that “he” is really a “she.”

Lady Murian, a young widow out for revenge against the powerful earl who killed her husband and stole his birthright, is now living in the woods with her family’s banished retainers. To stay alive, she and her band of men rob rich nobles coming to visit the evil earl. But when she ambushes the Prince of Oxenburg’s golden coach, she gets far more than she expected. For when the prince uncovers her true identity, she’s afraid that he might be the real thief…of her heart.

I need to read the first book in this series ASAP, so I can read book two.

TO DESIRE A HIGHLANDER
Scandalous Scots
, Book Two

By Sue-Ellen Welfonder
August 25, 2015


Proud, passionate Lady Gillian MacGuire is known as the Spitfire of the Isles. She can take care of herself and hasn't yet met a man who could impress her . . . especially not Donell MacDonnell, the odious older man she was promised to five years ago. She's been dreading his return, but when her intended comes back to claim her, she's stunned at how different he seems. The man she swore she would spurn forever now invades her thoughts, her dreams, and her heart.

When Roag agrees to assume the identity of the recently deceased MacDonnell chieftain, no one warns him that the man was betrothed. As a member of the King's Fenris Guard, he is oath-bound to embark on whatever mission the crown gives him. Of course, he was expecting a battle-not a bride. Yet after sharing one kiss with Lady Gillian, the powerful Highlander becomes the one seduced and captivated. Now giving in to temptation could ruin them both . . .

Hooray for Highlanders!

  URBAN FANTASY

THE VEIL
Devil's Isle, Book One

By Chloe Neill
August 4, 2015

Claire Connolly is a good girl with a dangerous secret: she’s a Sensitive, a human endowed with magic that seeped through the Veil. Claire knows that revealing her skills would mean being confined to Devil’s Isle. Unfortunately, hiding her power has left her untrained and unfocused…

Liam Quinn knows from experience that magic makes monsters of the weak, and he has no time for a Sensitive with no control of her own strength. But when he sees Claire using her powers to save a human under attack — in full view of the French Quarter — Liam decides to bring her to Devil’s Isle and the teacher she needs—even though getting her out of his way isn’t the same as keeping her out of his head.

As more and more Sensitives fall prey to their magic, and unleash their hunger on the city, Claire and Liam must work together to save New Orleans, or else the city will burn…

I don't normally read urban fantasy novels, however this one interests me. Why? Well, it's set in the French Quarter (!), the hero's name is Liam (swoon), and it has paranormal elements. Me likey.


  YOUNG ADULT


THE CREEPING
By Alexandra Sirowy

August 18, 2015

Twelve years ago Stella and Jeanie vanished while picking strawberries. Stella returned minutes later, with no memory of what happened. Jeanie was never seen or heard from again.

Now Stella is seventeen, and she’s over it. She’s the lucky one who survived, and sure, the case is still cloaked in mystery—and it’s her small town’s ugly legacy—but Stella is focused on the coming summer. She’s got a great best friend, a hookup with an irresistibly crooked smile, and two months of beach days stretching out before her.

Then along comes a corpse, a little girl who washes up in an ancient cemetery after a mudslide, and who has red hair just like Jeanie did. Suddenly memories of that haunting day begin to return, and when Stella discovers that other red-headed girls have gone missing as well, she begins to suspect that something sinister is at work.

And before the summer ends, Stella will learn the hard way that if you hunt for monsters, you will find them.

Oooo, creeeepy!

THE DEAD GIRLS OF HYSTERIA HALL
By Katie Alender
August 25, 2015


Delia's new house isn't just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females -- an insane asylum nicknamed "Hysteria Hall." However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.

But the house still wants to keep "troubled" girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia becomes trapped. And that's when she learns that the house is also haunted.

Ghost girls wander the hallways in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia learns that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, too, harbors shocking truths within its walls -- truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.

And she'll need to act quickly -- before the house's power overtakes everything she loves.
 
 Oooo, yeah! I like Katie Alender's creepy tales.


What's on your must-read list this month? Do share!


Book blurbs from authors' websites.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Walk Like A Man


Think of Queen Elizabeth I or Golda Mier and you just might see Queen Hatshepsut of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Her name might not come as easily on the tongue, but in her day she was a household word. In order to seize power when her half-brother husband died, she knew she had to look like a warrior. So, for twenty-two years, whenever she appeared in public, she concealed her breasts and adopted the ceremonial false beard.

Image Source: someinterestingfacts.net
Soon she was being hailed as the "Son of the Sun" and "Lord of Two Lands" with obelisks and temples built in her honor. And, as legend has it, it was she who found the baby Moses in the bulrushes while having her daily bath.

Image Source: I Harsten via Flickr Creative Commons
She was the third pharaoh to reside in the Valley of Kings. When she died, to show that Hatshepsut was no longer powerful, the new pharaoh had all the beards chopped off her statues.

Strangely enough, even  male pharaohs continued to use false beards as a sign of distinction, rather than grow their own. There were three major styles: short and stubby for high-ranking men; larger and thick for kings; and slender and curved for gods. Men used copper razors to maintain the cleanshave look that was de rigueur.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Releases


  HISTORICAL ROMANCE 

THE DUKE CAN GO TO THE DEVIL
Prelude to a Kiss, Book Three
By Erin KnightleyJuly 7, 2015

After her mother’s death, May’s sea captain father sends her halfway around the world to live with his stodgy sister in England. The summer festival in Bath made for a lovely distraction, but now she can’t wait for her father’s return so she can leave this country, its suffocating rules, and one infuriatingly proper nobleman in particular behind.

Because he is the Duke of Radcliffe, William Spencer’s whole life revolves around his duties. He never steps foot outside the bounds of proper behavior, and he expects the same of those around him. With her devil-may-care ways, May vexes him nearly as much as she tempts him, but there’s something about her that he just can’t resist. He knows he’s falling hard for her, but with lives that are worlds apart, will they ever be able to find any common ground?

I adore this cover
. It screams romance.


RUNNING WOLF
By Jenna Kernan
July 1, 2015


Running Wolf is a valiant Sioux warrior.  During his first raid as war chief, he captures a surprising Crow enemy--a woman!  This spirited fighter is unlike any he's ever met.  Her beauty and audacity are entrancing, but threaten his iron resolve...

Snow Raven must focus on freeing herself, not on the man who keeps her captive.  But as she falls deeper under Running Wolf's spell, she realizes he is her warrior--and she'll risk everything for him!

This Indian romance sounds like a good summer read.
 

WARRIOR OF ICE
Warriors of Ireland, Book One
 
By Michelle WillinghamJuly 2015

Physically and emotionally scarred, Lady Taryn of Ossoria knows no man would want her for a wife. Nonetheless, she’s determined to free her father from his merciless overlord and enlists powerful warrior Killian MacDubh to help.

He has his own motives for confronting the High King… Born a bastard, Killian longs to carve out a place for himself. Unaware of her true beauty, Taryn is an alluring distraction to his plan, but as traitors are revealed and loyalties tested, their forbidden love becomes the only thing worth fighting for!

What's not to love about an Irish warrior named Killian?!


 
  YOUNG ADULT 

THE FIXER
By Jennifer Lynn Barnes
July 7, 2015


When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.'s #1 "fixer," known for making politicians' scandals go away for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister's footsteps and becomes D.C.'s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens.

Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life. . . . until their worlds come crashing together and Tess finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy with one of her classmates and a client of Ivy's. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics, and the price for this fix might be more than Tess is willing to pay.

Ooo, you had be at "secrets pile up".



NO SUCH PERSON
By Caroline B. Cooney
July 14, 2015
 
 
Miranda and Lander Allerdon are sisters. Miranda is younger, a dreamer, and floating her way through life. Lander is older, focused, and determined to succeed. As the girls and their parents begin another summer at their cottage on the Connecticut River, Miranda and Lander’s sibling rivalry is in high gear. Lander plans to start medical school in the fall, and Miranda feels cast in her shadow.

When the Allerdons become entangled in an unimaginable tragedy, the playing field is suddenly leveled. As facts are revealed, the significance of what has happened weighs heavily on all. How can the family prepare for what the future may hold?

Interesting.


What's on your must-read list this month? Do share!

Book blurbs from authors' websites.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Summer Challenge: June Results


So to recap, my writing besties and I kicked off June with The Summer Challenge, a plan to create writing and exercise goals. The Challenge runs through the end of August.


For the month of June, I came up with a personal writing and exercise goal that I wanted to do every day. The goals were small and manageable to avoid a freak out. My goals: To open my WIP and write/edit for a minimum of 1 hour each day, including weekends. Also, do 100 sit ups a day (in addition to my daily exercise routine).


I bet you're dying to know how I did. Weeelll, I confess I didn't have a perfect record in June.


It's okay, really. I knew I wouldn't be able to write or exercise every day, thanks to my mini vacation getaway to Oregon, so I went into the challenge fully aware that I'd fail come up against a roadblock. Little did I know I'd get a cold after I returned home from my trip. I felt so terrible, I didn't write or exercise for a week. 



No worries. Life happens. I'm still satisfied with everything I accomplished this month. When I was home and able, I wrote and exercised. In other words, I did my best. Though I'm a perfectionist, I don't have to be perfect. What I mean is, I don't brood and moan and agonize for hours if my day doesn't go as planned. What's the point?


Tomorrow is another day. As long as I made an effort to accomplish my goals, I'm satisfied. Of course that wouldn't have been the case had I simply procrastinated and not met my goals. 


A new month starts tomorrow, and with it comes a brand new challenge. Forget those daily goals for June. Now we're aiming to accomplish a whole new set of weekly goals.


My goals for July are: 1) Line edit 30 pages a week. 2) Do Pilates 2 times a week.


I still intend to stick with the daily writing and exercise goals I created in June. I'm currently on summer break, so setting aside writing time every day is something I can easily do. Also, the glorious summer sunshine gives me a sort of adrenaline rush. I feel more energized and eager to tackle my tasks when the sun is out. 


 Watch out July, I'm ready for you.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Funks Happen


Sometimes funks happen. My most recent writing funk was in April. The sky was gray, the air was cold, and some family woes had me worried. I wanted to be on vacation far away from the gloomy Pacific Northwest and all of my stress, which made it terribly hard to focus on my writing.


I just couldn't bring myself to sit down at my desk, turn on my laptop, and open my WIP. I wanted to stop procrastinating, really I did, and nearly drove myself crazy trying shake off my winter blues.
 


I watched costume dramas and read historical romances, hoping they would inspire me to write. Nothing jarred me out of my funk. A week passed, and I was still stuck in my pity party. To be honest, it was mentally exhausting.


As the days flew by, I became more discouraged and upset with myself for not meeting my self-imposed deadline. Why wasn't I writing? I didn't have writer's block. I wasn't uncertain about which direction to go with my story. I had characters and a routine that excited me. My goals weren't ridiculously hard. I knew I could meet them, if only I tried.


All I had to do was put my butt in my chair, my hands on my keyboard, and get some words down. Put in the hours. Write. Revise. Repeat. It was the only way I was going to finish my story.


Giving up for one week is what worked for me in the end. Weird, I know. But giving myself permission to step away from my writing for seven days gave me the mental break I needed.


I brooded. I watched more movies. I read another book. I worked on craft projects. And when I reached the day that I told myself I'd snap out of my funk, guess what happened. I sucked it up, sat down with my computer, turned on my timer, opened up my WIP, and started writing.



Everyone needs a break from work from time to time -- it's no different for a writer. So take a mini vacation if you need one. Then get back to work.
Monday, June 8, 2015

Bulls and Beards


The trend in the Renaissance was toward dignity, and what could be more dignified than a beard?

Clive Owen, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Early styles were broad and square, à la Henry VIII, but as the sixteenth century progressed, a whole range of styles cropped up: the tiny, pointed Spanish beard; the pencil beard, nothing but tuft; the stiletto beard, a razored strip; the cathedral beard, an august mass of fluff; the spade beard; the fetching, double-pronged swallow's tail beard.

Ben Affleck, Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Colin Firth, Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Beards were powdered, waxed, and perfumed -- and, in a compliment to russet-haired Queen Elizabeth I, even dyed red. To preserve their hairy treasure overnight, men tied cloth bags around their beards or kept them clamped in iron presses.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Summer Challenge


My writing besties and I have decided to do a summer writing and exercise challenge.


The challenge officially kicked off yesterday and will run through the end of August. I'm excited about this challenge. I know I can stay focused on my writing and exercise goals with the support of my friends. They're as eager as I am to be successful this summer, and that kind of enthusiasm is a big plus. We've made our goals small and manageable, so we don't get overwhelmed and become discouraged.  


For the month of June, we all have a goals we want to accomplish every day. Next month, we'll choose a goal we want to accomplish once a week. Then in August, we'll challenge ourselves to do something big for the month.


My goals for June are:

1) Open my WIP and write and/or edit for a minimum of 1 hour every day, including weekends
2) Do 100 sit ups a day (in addition to my daily exercise routine)

No fear here. I'm all ready and raring to go.


I want to do more than achieve my goals this summer. I want to achieve and exceed my own expectations.
Monday, June 1, 2015

June Releases

  HISTORICAL ROMANCE 

THE UNDERCOVER SCOUNDREL
The Hope Diamond Trilogy, Book Three

By Jessica Peterson
June 2, 2015


Mr. Henry Lake spent the past twelve years uncovering the most scandalous secrets of Europe’s wealthy and powerful, serving as one of His Majesty’s most decorated spies. But when a mission to find the legendary French Blue diamond brings him back to London, and face to face with a beautiful noblewoman he once loved, it’s his own hidden passions that are uncovered…

Lady Caroline, Countess of Berry, knows better than to lose her head over a man. After an embarrassing romantic entanglement forced her into a loveless marriage and early widowhood, she learned to never trust in desire, especially when it comes to the man who once broke her heart. Only, despite her good sense, she finds Henry impossible to resist—even when he once again places her in deathly danger.

This is a great trilogy.  



A DUKE BUT NO GENTLEMAN
Masters of Seduction, Book One

By Alexandra Hawkins
June 30, 2015

London, 1792. The Duke of Blackbern and the Marquess of Norgrave are boyhood friends who will still compete at anything. Racing, drinking, gambling, even seduction—until Lady Imogen Sunter crosses their path. Achingly beautiful, and innocent, she has no understanding of the jaded gentlemen who are courting her for favors—of how far they are willing to go to get what they want…

In this game of seduce and destroy?

Fighting for Imogen’s affection should have been no more than their usual spirited rivalry. But when Blackbern discovers his feelings for Imogen have deepened, all bets are off. Norgrave, driven by his own demons, won’t forsake his pride—and with one shocking act of betrayal that threatens Imogen and Blackbern’s newfound desire, Norgrave will set the course for a generation of Regency bad boys who will go down in history as the Masters of Seduction...

OMG, I love this cover!  


  YOUNG ADULT


INK AND ASHES
By Valynne E. Maetani
June 1, 2015

Claire Takata has never known much about her father, who passed away when she was a little girl. But on the anniversary of his death, not long before her seventeenth birthday, she finds a mysterious letter from her deceased father, addressed to her stepfather. Claire never even knew that they had met.

Claire knows she should let it go, but she can’t shake the feeling that something’s been kept from her. In search of answers, Claire combs through anything that will give her information about her father . . . until she discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. The discovery opens a door that should have been left closed.

So begins the race to outrun his legacy as the secrets of her father’s past threaten Claire’s friends and family, newfound love, and ultimately her life.


I like a good mystery.


CHARLIE, PRESUMED DEAD

By Anne Heltzel
June 2, 2015


The charming, jet-setting Charlie Price is presumed dead following a tragic plane crash. At his funeral, Charlie’s double life is exposed when his two girlfriends—Lena and Aubrey—collide.

Reckless and glamorous, Lena Whitney believes Charlie is still alive, and she won’t rest until she’s found him. She and Aubrey Boroughs—a sheltered aspiring artist—team up on a journey across Europe and Asia to uncover the full extent of Charlie’s deception.

As a trail of Charlie’s lies carries them across continents, it’s the girls’ unlikely friendship that keeps them strong…until they each discover that the other has been harboring a destructive secret of her own. Can their fledgling bond survive Charlie’s final—and most insidious—betrayal?

Ooo, I'm intrigued.

What's on your must-read list this month? Do share!

Book blurbs from authors' website and/or Amazon