NeedaBook https://www.needabook.online What are the Best Books, Best Selling Books, Best Nonfiction Books to read, Best Book Selling Website, Great Books to read, Top Selling Authors Fri, 06 Dec 2019 13:43:18 -0500 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3 https://i0.wp.com/www.needabook.online/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/cropped-cropped-Books-160-x-160-1.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 NeedaBook https://www.needabook.online 32 32 124549174 My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh https://www.needabook.online/my-fake-rake-by-eva-leigh/ Fri, 06 Dec 2019 13:43:18 +0000 https://www.needabook.online/my-fake-rake-by-eva-leigh/ C+ My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh November 26, 2019 · Avon Historical: EuropeanRegencyRomance This book is kind of a weird read. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I think I mean it [...]

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My Fake Rake

by Eva Leigh
November 26, 2019 · Avon
Historical: EuropeanRegencyRomance

This book is kind of a weird read. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I think I mean it in a good way? It’s mostly charmingly bizarre. This book puts a lot of plates spinning in the air, and while some of them end up crashing to the ground and breaking, the show is fun while it lasts.

The basic premise is that Grace and Sebastian are two scholarly nerds who are friends. Grace wants to attract the marital interest of another scholar, Mason Fredericks, who only thinks of Grace as a Professional Colleague and not a Hot Young Woman. (I, personally, have only ever encountered the opposite problem, wherein men in academia view me only as a Hot Person for Flirting With and not as a Real Scholar. #workplacesexism, amiright?) One day, when Sebastian takes off his glasses, Grace realizes that he is a GRADE-A HOTTIE and enlists him to help make Mason jealous by fake-courting her. Naturally, this involves giving Sebastian a makeover, to turn him into a “fake rake.” Shenanigans ensue.

If you are bothered by the deployment of such ludicrous movie tropes as “person becomes incredibly hot without glasses” and makeover montages, you will HATE this book. If you find the idea of ludicrous movie tropes being deployed inside a historical romance novel completely delightful, this book is for you!

The prologue is quite literally The Breakfast Club, but set at Eton. Five teenage schoolboys from very different walks of life have to write essays on who they “believe themselves to be” in Saturday detention. This prologue introduces our hero, Sebastian, and the other eventual heroes of this series. Within The Breakfast Club: Regency Boys’ Boarding School Edition, Sebastian is definitively the nerd.

There is some inherent ridiculousness to re-situating 1980s movie tropes (and not just tropes–entire scenes!) in Regency London. But the book leans in to the ridiculous in a way that I enjoyed, and that mostly works. For example, the fairy godmother-figure for Sebastian’s makeover into a High Society Hunk is Sebastian’s Eton friend, the Duke of Rotherby. This creates a genuinely hilarious dynamic where the Duke is perpetually annoyed at Sebastian and Grace’s lack of common sense as they attempt to make Sebastian into the kind of “Corinthian” who could make Mason Fredericks jealous.

For example, after an early makeover mishap, Sebastian says:

“All we need to do is a bit more research.”

Grace nodded in agreement. “Research solves everything.”

The duke pinched the bridge of his nose as he squeezed his eyes shut. “Good. God.”

Sebastian and Grace also often frame their observations about society in the terms of their respective academic disciplines, which is another source of humor. Grace makes up scientific names for the people who surround her, like Dandium vulgaris, the “Common Dandy.” Later, she says of her observation of younger Society men:

“Showing off their thighs in an evident courtship display. Very common within the animal kingdom.”

“Are you sketching?Seb asked. “Male thighs?

Overall, this is an uncommonly funny historical romance. However, I do have to say that some of the makeover plot points, while humorous, seem contrived. For example, Grace first tries to teach Sebastian how to be a rake from her father’s forty-year-old etiquette handbooks, which ends in Sebastian trying to use extremely out of date manners and creeping out everyone in the park. But even though Grace does not like Society, she has been to Society events and beheld human men doing polite human man things with her own eyes. So she should have known instantly that the old books were wrong even if she didn’t know how to correctly teach Sebastian. Nonetheless, the shenanigans that she and Sebastian, and Sebastian’s friend the Duke of Rotherby get up to are fun and funny.

Other than the wacky humor, another incredibly charming thing about this book is that it reads as a believable portrait of two legitimately awkward and anxious people falling in love. Lots of books CLAIM to be about awkward people falling in love but then fail to demonstrate anything more than very minor, run-of-the mill awkwardness during the course of the romance. However, both parties to this love story are kind and gentle people who are truly, spectacularly awkward. One example: while waxing poetic about the inaccurate anatomy of the topless women in a ballroom mural, Grace compares her own breasts to petit fours. To which Sebastian responds, “They’re, erm, quite nice.”

Wow, grade-A seduction, you weirdos.

I promise, however, that there are many good hot and steamy moments that are not, um, whatever this is.

Sebastian and Grace’s mutual awkwardness and general social discomfort is presented in a way that is very sweet and that is also a real, believable source of misunderstanding. Sebastian becomes very nervous and clams up around strangers. Grace feels uncomfortable in social situations because she has previously been judged and shunned at society events for being a Female Intellectual (GASP). Neither of them ever want to say how they feel for fear of even mildly inconveniencing the other person. And naturally both Grace and Sebastian assume the other feels nothing for them and that to express their own feelings would just cause GUILT and RUINATION OF THE FRIENDSHIP:

She wouldn’t throw away four years of friendship on a few uninvited sensual thoughts. Oh, maybe when she’d first met Sebastian, she’d hoped their camaraderie might evolve into something more intimate. But he’d always been scrupulously polite and treated her strictly as a colleague and confidant.

The entire reason they have not become romantically involved in four years of friendship, in spite of a mutual attraction, is that they both assume that the other person is not interested and that to express interest would be somehow presumptuous and/or rude. And once they embark on their plan to snare Mason for Grace, Sebastian assumes that Grace is only interested in Mason, and Grace assumes that Sebastian’s cooperation with her plan to snare another man is confirmation of his disinterest in her. It’s quite a tangle.

Even as they get closer to each other in a way that is decidedly romantic (waggles eyebrows), they keep trying to explain away the other person’s (and sometimes their own) feelings as a trick of the moment, or the mood, or the lighting, or the weather. This is a romance where the obstacles could be removed by people just talking to each other, but the fact that they feel that can’t just talk to each other makes sense for these two people. And it makes it that much more satisfying when they are able to communicate clearly about their feelings.

So, this book is quite funny, and the romance is emotionally strong. However, it could stand to be tightened up a bit. There’s some repetition in the descriptions (the Duke is described as arrogant or conceited maybe 10,000 times). Grace and Sebastian admonish themselves a LOT in internal monologues for finding the other attractive, and it borders on too much. Like, thinking your friend is hot is not inherently disrespectful, my dudes. And sometimes the more intellectual-minded dialogue about Scholarly Pursuits reads as two people just saying non-sequitur opinions to each other. (This is definitely a real thing smart people do, but I don’t think it was intentional here).

However, I have to say that there was one aspect of this book that legitimately troubled me and it was Sebastian’s stated academic vocation and how it was handled. Sebastian is an (aspiring) anthropologist. Anthropologists’ scholarly work often comes in the form of ethnography, which is basically embedding yourself within a social group and describing its norms and customs. (Ethnography is the first social science method I was trained in, which makes me probably more likely than the average reader to be annoyed by the way it is framed and handled here).

Unfortunately, for most of the history of anthropology, anthropological study (and the resulting ethnographies) has been profoundly racist, imperialist, and colonialist. Basically, it’s been a lot of White men and White women in power going to colonized or otherwise subjugated nations and describing how “primitive” the people there were as a way to justify dominating them. There’s a reason why there is a very real movement within the social sciences today to discourage outsider ethnographies and move instead towards insider ethnographies, where the person reporting on the group is also a member of the group. There have also been other advancements in how ethnography is conceptualized and conducted to make the whole thing less of a racist clusterf*ck. The fact remains that during the Regency era, anthropology as a discipline was a distinctly imperialist project, and I think it is very hard to have an anthropologist hero in this era who is not in some way implicated in that.

I don’t want it to come across that I think that an interest in social justice and equity is ahistorical. It’s not; people have been interested in social justice as long as there has been a society. And the characters in this book do acknowledge that much of the science being produced in their current era (including the anthropology) is racist. This somewhat reassured me, as did the fact that for much of the book, Sebastian was studying British customs for his eventual ethnographic book. I thought this was going to be a clever nod to the whole insider ethnography movement, until the epilogue.

In the epilogue, Grace and Sebastian join an expedition to South America funded by a British woman. The nominal purpose of this expedition full of scientists and naturalists is to study South America in order to report on how the environments and natural habitats there could be preserved. However, as part of the expedition, Sebastian is going to study the people living there to “report on indigenous cultures.” YIKES.

It doesn’t matter how personally nice or not bigoted Grace and Sebastian are. They are still members of a colonizing nation, using the power afforded them as members of that colonizing nation to go to a place, get in the business of the people who live there without their consent, and generally exploit the resources of that place. Even though they each purport to be against aspects of the English imperialist project, they are ultimately using it to advance their respective scientific careers, which feels gross. This feels doubly true given the role that Western scientific discourses have played in alternately stealing and/or repressing Indigenous knowledge and culture. A hero or heroine’s commitment to social justice that ends with them basically becoming part of the English colonizing apparatus shows that commitment to be fundamentally hollow.

I struggled with how much to factor what felt like a jarring deployment of anthropology (and science as a discipline in general) into my grade, since without the epilogue, I was more of a “sure, I guess?” on the anthropology aspect instead of a “yuck.” It is clear that the main characters are at least supposed to be interested in justice and equity, even if the execution isn’t QUITE there. I think without the epilogue the grade would probably be a B- or maybe even a B, but with it, it’s a C+, because even though it was only a few pages it did change my reading experience a fair amount.

I guess what I’m getting at is that my main critique of this book is that there is a thematic disconnect. On one hand, there are a lot of overt statements in My Fake Rake about women’s rights, the perils of toxic masculinity, and why scientific racism is Bad. On the other hand, there are some things going on below the surface where the book fails to grapple with the full implications of some of the concepts that are introduced i.e. the English as colonizers and the role science played in that. It creates some vexing moments as a reader during what is otherwise a pretty feel-good book. I said earlier in my review that it felt as if the book was putting a lot of plates in the air and some of them fell to the ground. These are the plates that fell to the ground. (I guess we can call them the implication plates? Coherent theme plates?)

Maybe a historical romance love story between two socially awkward friends and it’s full of cute movie references and trope inversions and they both have fully fleshed out but overall dissimilar scholarly ambitions and there’s another guy involved and he’s also a scientist but to get his attention they have to do Society and it’s about double standards facing women and men in both the professional and private spheres and it’s about England as an imperial and scientific power…makes for too many things to try to cram into one book and have it all work and be coherent.

I think if you can handle an occasional feeling of “huh?” while reading this book without getting whiplash, and the trope-y elements of this book appeal, it’s a fun read. There is definitely a lot to like! However, if you are hoping this book presents a particularly nuanced stance on the history of science or even the practice of intellectual inquiry via its two scholarly protagonists, moderate your expectations. Also, please skip the epilogue. (Now instead of dreading epilogue babies, I will be dreading epilogue scientific fieldwork expeditions.)

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380. Tropes and Good Books are Eternal: A Snortlaugh with Angela James https://www.needabook.online/380-tropes-and-good-books-are-eternal-a-snortlaugh-with-angela-james/ Fri, 06 Dec 2019 13:43:16 +0000 https://www.needabook.online/380-tropes-and-good-books-are-eternal-a-snortlaugh-with-angela-james/ Today my guest is Editor and Digital Grandmaster Angela James. Angie and I have known each other for a long honking time – over 14 years, we think. So in between snort laughing and talking [...]

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Today my guest is Editor and Digital Grandmaster Angela James. Angie and I have known each other for a long honking time – over 14 years, we think. So in between snort laughing and talking about friendship, we talk about her new editorial venture and business following the elimination of her position at Carina Press. If you’re curious about editing and how that process works, get ready to learn all the things.

Music: https://www.purple-planet.com

You can subscribe to Smart Podcast, Trashy Books at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you catch your favorite shows!

Listen to the podcast →

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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

You can find Angela James at her website, AngelaJames.co. She’s on Twitter @AngelaJames, and on Instagram @AngelaJamesEditor.

If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us on Stitcher, and Spotify, too. We also have a cool page for the podcast on iTunes.

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What did you think of today’s episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that’s where you hang out online. You can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don’t forget to give us a name and where you’re calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.

Thanks for listening!

This Episode’s Music

The music in this episode is from Purple-Planet, and this track is “Dreamcatcher.”


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From cottage to mansion, Valentina is certain she doesn’t deserve the fairytale unfolding. But just when Derek & Valentina think they have a handle on their happily ever after… their past and future collide.

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Today’s podcast and transcript are brought to you by The Modern Break-Up by Daniel Chidiac.

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Fantasy Romance, Bertrice Small, & More https://www.needabook.online/fantasy-romance-bertrice-small-more/ Fri, 06 Dec 2019 13:43:14 +0000 https://www.needabook.online/fantasy-romance-bertrice-small-more/ Fix Her Up Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey is $1.99! I’m a huge Bailey fan, but this one didn’t do it for me, mainly because it had some tropes that aren’t my bag. If you [...]

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Fix Her Up

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey is $1.99! I’m a huge Bailey fan, but this one didn’t do it for me, mainly because it had some tropes that aren’t my bag. If you enjoyed this one, feel free to leave a comment below!

New York Times bestseller Tessa Bailey launches a super sexy new series featuring the blue collar men who work for a HGTV-esque house flipping business.

After an injury ends Travis Ford’s major league baseball career, he returns home to start over. He just wants to hammer out his frustrations at his new construction gig and forget all about his glory days. But he can’t even walk through town without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his buddy’s little sister, who is definitely not a kid anymore.

Georgette Castle has crushed on her older brother’s best friend for years. The grumpy, bear of a man working for her family’s house flipping business is a far cry from the charming sports star she used to know. But a moody scowl doesn’t scare her and Georgie’s determined to show Travis he’s more than a pretty face and a batting average, even if it means putting her feelings aside to be “just friends.”

Travis wants to brood in peace. But the girl he used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman who makes him feel whole again. And he wants her. So damn bad. Except Georgie’s off limits and he knows he can’t give her what she deserves. But she’s becoming the air he breathes and Travis can’t stay away, no matter how hard he tries…

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

You can find ordering info for this book here.

 

 

 

My Lady Notorious

My Lady Notorious by Jo Beverley is $2.99! This is the first book in the Malloren series and features a heroine who disguises herself as a man. I feel like this is one of those books that readers have really fond memories of reading. Do you? I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read any Beverley titles, but I’ve always been curious about this one.

Desperate to help her widowed sister and baby escape a deadly pursuer, Lady Chastity Ware dresses as a highwayman and captures the first coach to travel down the road. Coming face-to-face with its occupant, the arrogant aristocrat, Cyn Malloren, she orders him to drive her to a remote cottage.

Little does Chastity realize that after long months of recovering from his war wounds, the handsome Cyn is looking for adventure, and being abducted by a cocky highwayman—obviously a lovely woman in disguise—is even more than he had hoped for. Willingly he is drawn into her devilishly reckless plan…and helplessly he is seduced by her wonderfully wicked ways.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

You can find ordering info for this book here.

 

 

 

Lara

Lara by Bertrice Small is $1.99 at Amazon and iBooks! Small is the queen of crazysauce books and, surprisingly, this fantasy romance was published in 2006. This is the first book in the World of Hetar series. All of them are on sale and most of them seem to follow Lara and her exploits.

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and master of romance Bertrice Small welcomes you to the magical, sensual World of Hetar.

For Lara, a half faerie, half human, her beauty is a blessing and a curse. Sold into a Pleasure House by her father, she commits herself to a lifetime of servitude. But even in a place where pleasure is not censured but encouraged, her otherworldly beauty proves too much for her suitors.

When Lara escapes, she is introduced to a new way of life, and an incredible man who opens her eyes to the growing unrest among their people…and the extraordinary destiny that awaits her. Lara will journey the depths of desire and despair to find a love that will last an eternity—a love that will change Hetar forever.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

You can find ordering info for this book here.

 

 

 

The Sea King

The Sea King by C.L. Wilson is 99c! This is a fantasy romance and mullet aside, I enjoyed it. The hero comes from a matriarchal society. I also read this one out of order and while it probably helps to read the first book in the series (this one is the second), I managed without it. But also…holy mullet, Batman. Content warnings for the second half of the book for sexual assault.

He wasn’t supposed to choose her…

Seafaring prince Dilys Merimydion has been invited to court the three magical princesses of Summerlea. To eradicate the pirates threatening Calberna and to secure the power of the Sea Throne, Dilys vows to return home with a fierce warrior-queen as his bride. But politics has nothing to do with unexpected temptation.

She didn’t dare wed him…

A weathermage like her sisters, Gabriella Coruscate’s gentleness exemplifies the qualities of her season name, Summer. Yet her quiet poise conceals dangerous powers she cannot begin to wield. Better to live without excitement, she reasons, than risk her heart and lose control— until an irresistible Sealord jolts her awake with a thunderclap of raw desire.

Until evil threatens everything they hold dear…

When pirates kidnap Summer and her sisters, Dilys is in a desperate quest to save the woman he loves. Only by combining his command of the seas with the unleashed fury of Summer’s formidable gifts can they defeat their brutal enemies and claim the most priceless victory of all: true love.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

You can find ordering info for this book here.

 

 

 

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Trump and the Meaning of Impeachment: My Testimony Before Congress https://www.needabook.online/trump-and-the-meaning-of-impeachment-my-testimony-before-congress/ Fri, 06 Dec 2019 13:43:09 +0000 https://www.needabook.online/trump-and-the-meaning-of-impeachment-my-testimony-before-congress/ I will begin by stating my conclusions: The framers provided for impeachment of the president because they wanted the president, unlike the king, to be controlled by law, and because they feared that a president [...]

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I will begin by stating my conclusions: The framers provided for impeachment of the president because they wanted the president, unlike the king, to be controlled by law, and because they feared that a president might abuse the power of his office to gain personal advantage, corrupt the electoral process, and keep himself in office. “High crimes and misdemeanors” are abuses of power and public trust connected to the office of the presidency. On the basis of the testimony presented to the House Intelligence Committee, President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency.

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Portraits: Umberto Eco, Saul Steinberg, and Aldo Buzzi https://www.needabook.online/portraits-umberto-eco-saul-steinberg-and-aldo-buzzi/ Fri, 06 Dec 2019 13:43:07 +0000 https://www.needabook.online/portraits-umberto-eco-saul-steinberg-and-aldo-buzzi/ Umberto Eco was one of the people I spent the most time with but knew the least. He deserves a lifetime record for never talking about himself, not even in his novels. Not until the [...]

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Umberto Eco was one of the people I spent the most time with but knew the least. He deserves a lifetime record for never talking about himself, not even in his novels. Not until the very end. Essentially, I think he deprived himself of a pleasure. I mean, who doesn’t like to talk about themselves, and sometimes even whine a little? By not confiding in others, others were not inclined to confide in him. I would never have talked to him about something that saddened me or about a love story that was causing me heartache. He would’ve tried to cheer me up, of course, but probably by telling me a joke. It was easier to understand his mind than his soul. Eco was interested in the mind; he lived for his mind. For him, souls were stupid.

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