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by Anya Seton
Edition: Library Binding
Price: $10.36
29 used & new from $2.00

11 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Talented author, but lack of consistent themes, January 5, 2001
This review is from: Dragonwyck (Library Binding)
There are some excellent stylistic creativity meant to be studied by aspiring writers. However, to determine what type of book this is really difficult.
The lead protagonist is Miranda Wells "Ranny", an 18-yr romantic who is stuck on her family farm. She, of course, is someone you eagerly sympathize with because she is the oldest of the family. Her father Ephraim is a stern, strict Christian man who dislikes how Miranda loves her romantic fancies. Then comes opportunity when Johanna Van Ryn, Miranda's aunt, writes to invite either Miranda or her sister Tibby to live in her grand mansion Dragonwyck, to learn the customs of the gentry.
The mansion Dragonwyck is similar to the mansion in Jane Eyre or Manderley of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca: there's something mysterious about it. In fact, there are a lot of parallels. However, there is an element of horror or suspense in it, however, the author fails to keep this theme consistent: in fact, this part is brushed off carelessly.
Like the Rochester in Jane Eyre, there is the tall, dark, and handsome man in Dragonwyck, who is the Nicholas Van Ryn, a powerful man who is a great believer in the tenant system, however, he is perturbed by the socialist uprisings. He's a gifted pianist, an avid Edgar Allen Poe reader, and loves boat races.
But is this a historical novel? There are instances of socialism in American history, however, this is all told in the perspective of aristocrats, who really don't know much.
Is this a romance? It could have been. It could have been similar to Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence, a racy tale of passions. But again, this theme is also thrown carelessly by the author and the few sexual tensions raised are left cold.
I should mention another key recurring character, Doctor Jeff. He's handsome and you will fall in love with him. He's pretty aggressive, among other things. The only thing I hate about him is that his character believes that women needs to just settle down on a farm and have babies. In this day and age, would you fall for a guy like that?
Why did I read this in the first place? I will honest, it was mentioned in Rosemary Daniell's memoir Fatal Flowers, and mentioned that it had some racy scene. Well, you can judge for yourself about that. However, the author can write sensually and use exotic imageries, all great techniques. So, if you are curious in anyway, read.

Rules of Engagement (Governess Brides, Book 2)
Rules of Engagement (Governess Brides, Book 2)
by Christina Dodd
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
245 used & new from $0.01

3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is Jane Eyre�on crack, December 10, 2000
It starts out okay. Pamela, an ambitious governess dresses as an older, uglier woman because the guy Devon doesn't want some the governess to lust after him. She's a funny creature, admonishing him as "Young man" and criticizing his "animal tendencies".
The plot is a bit of a stretch. Why the hell did Devon get the idea that he would need to adopt an orphan to become respectable? I don't know. Devon's character includes affinity to children (did you expect anything less). Seems coincidental that all the leading men in romance books like children, eh?
The real weakness is the orphan itself. Gosh, that annoying brat killed the heat, damnit! Of course that kiddo Elizabeth was liked by Devon.
If you prefer the usage of office equipment for matter of consummation, well, here's a treat for you. But how they do it.. well, it made me skim and wish it was done quickly.

Frenchman's Creek
Frenchman's Creek
by Daphne, Dame Du Maurier
Edition: Hardcover
20 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good romance, November 25, 2000
This review is from: Frenchman's Creek (Hardcover)
If you were a bored wife, would you go off with a handsome French pirate? yeah, me too! Daphne du Maurier is the only writer I know who can raise sexual tensions using the minimalist approach, meaning there are no explicit sex scenes, but this book manages to be really sexy. The style of the ideas of love and passion are truly poetic and you can see why Daphne du Maurier is such a great writer.
Dona St. Columb is a beautiful married woman and a mother of two. But then she encounters the sexy French pirate and goes off an adventure. Will her husband find out? What will happen to her marriage? Those are the question you ask throughout. Of course, like the technique in Rebecca, the suspense is good and will likely hold your attention until the very end.
I don't have a problem with adultery as a theme in literature as the bitter reviewer had criticized. If you like he adultery theme in literature too, check out Anna Karenina, Emma Bovary, Jude the Obscure, Age of Innocence, and Lady Chatterley's Lover,

To Please a Lady
To Please a Lady
by Susan Johnson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
160 used & new from $0.01

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This lady was NOT pleased, November 11, 2000
This one is for all your prudes who complain about excessive sex in Susan Johnson novels. This one, I will personally vouchsafe, is impeccably clean. I did not quite get what the danger in the book was all about , because Roxanne had to be shut up in some house in the beginning for a very long time. Robbie is more of a whining teenage boy, if that's the type of lover you prefer. Also, Roxanne has kids, which kind of diminished the exciting factor of romance novels. The lead antagonist is Argyll who lusts for Roxanne, but he gets vanished after a few chapters, though it would have been nice if he reappeared to show some consistency. Too clean and too boring

Gentle Passion (Historical)
Gentle Passion (Historical)
by Cassie Edwards
Edition: Paperback
63 used & new from $0.01

4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars hAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA, October 21, 2000
1. The guy Joe Harrison is a stupid, sexist, weirdo who thinks he's tough and all. But his sexist ways didn't outrage me, I was too busy laighing at the idiot. He kept on calling that girl Faye "Woman". A savage indeed. But the true irony is he is very pro-government! I mean, you would expect a person who lives in the wild, wild west who would be rebellious but he is absolutely captivated by what be calls an "orderly government".
2. The girl Faye is ANNOYING! She's always saying "Oui" to show off her Frenchness but gosh can't she just say "yes". She pisses me off because she does the I-resist-Joe attitude while she is VERY sexually attracted to him: Weird.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 6, 2010 11:04 PM PDT

Midnight Rider
Midnight Rider
by Kat Martin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
150 used & new from $0.01

9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I get nostalgia, October 21, 2000
Hmm, some things are well... 1. The book's view toward this particular period of history is rather outdated today. I know you shouldn't really get so nit-picky about details such as history but I am afraid the author did not fulfill a good job about depicting this era. The Spaniard guy Ramon said something that was very pro-conquistador and declared that the Spanish had really good intentions for Indians and today we know that the forced labor against Indians actually destroyed their population. And secondly, there was a part that gave the land "back" to the Spaniards, "the rightful owners", instead of the Indians. Considering today's history classes depict Columbus as a villain as well as other European colonists, well, it was rather amusing to read a very saccharine interpretation of history.
2. Another cliched approach to "nicen" up the characters. Ramon for some reason is REALLY, REALLY nice to Indians and he and Cara do some cool community service stuff without a real motive, other than to appear like nice people to us.
3. Some sexual assault stuff that goes unnoticed and tolerated.
Good stuff:
1. Very nice and cosy.
2. The ambiance of old California is beautiful indeed. But then again, it is off set because the guy hero Ramon is actually Spanish so he isn't really a Californian.
3. Extra points for excellent sexual tension maintained throughout the novel. Read it !
4. Although I've criticized this book (because the novels that take place in Cali are my fav) a lot, trust me, it's really , really good.

McClairen's Isle: The Passionate One
McClairen's Isle: The Passionate One
by Connie Brockway
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.19
268 used & new from $0.01

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST of Connie Brockway!, October 21, 2000
Ashton reminds me a lot of the type of romantic figure. He is very mysterious, brooding, good looking, and very wonderful. Of course, he drinks in his anger and can act his rage. But like I said, he is just a romantic figure and people like him do not exist in life, I am afraid. He' s the guy who gets the control, and the women is the victim kind of fantasy. He's very seductive and occasionally has his gentle moments.
The lady Rhiannon is not a fragile virgin-victim not a virgin-whore. She's an excellent ecample of good self-esteem and sexual weakness. And yes, she can act real too.
This is one of the few excellent romance novels that maintains very good sexual tension. It's very good but it's never in bad taste or cringe-worthy. You might even say beautiful.

Hunter Of My Heart
Hunter Of My Heart
by Janet Kendall
Edition: Paperback
151 used & new from $0.01

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stupid, October 21, 2000
This review is from: Hunter Of My Heart (Paperback)
1. The "arranged marriage" theme has gotten hackneyed. I thought western civilization prided itself on free marriages but the theme of the girl and guy getting married and falling in love AFTER is more common than you would expect. 2. The "love scenes" make me cringe. Sabrina is always resisting and Hunter is always the hormone-charged teenage boy. 3. Not much creativity is shown. The same ol' "sir" and "lord" calling stuff characteristic in Regency stuff, it's ok but it can get annoying after awhile. 4. STUPID, STUPID 2-dimensional characterization. For instance, Hunter is for the abolition cause. The issue is not important, the issue is why on earth is Hunter interested in this cause? Who gives a d@mn! Now, we know the abolition cause is a politcally correct position and hence the author has made Hunter be politically correct so he appeals more to us. As for Sabrina, I am so sick and tired of "heroines" who act stuck up and go on showing off something like "I can speak eight languages" or "I read Shakespeare". Sheesh, it seems as though the author likes to make fun of feminists. By the way, why does Sabrina support the women's cause too? All the good characters hasve to be politically correct of course!
Some good parts include one scene when Hunter is teasing Sabrina. Hunter is like this romantic figure that appears a lot in this genre. He is tough, good looking, but he is a total whim. He drinks, but he's NEVER an alcoholic, in asccordance with the brooding romantic figure. Hmph!

by Daphne Du Maurier
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.75
240 used & new from $0.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, Innovative and Addictive, October 15, 2000
This review is from: Rebecca (Paperback)
What's most excellent is that Rebecca, who's dead, is protrayed differently by the people who knew her. Yet the contrasting protraits is VERY rather fascinating because you wonder," Who is the REAL Rebecca?"; because, each protrait is biased and less than accurate.
The author's style reminds me of Margaret Mitchell's: excellent and good balance of characters, narrative, setting, description, plot, ...etc (yet both of them stand alone in their successes). The plot had such great twists, especially spooky ones, that I must admit, I stayed up quite late when I should have lett early for the SATs the next day. But I HAD to read it! The very slight love scenes were nicely done: less was certainly more, yet it still gave me warm chills.

Standardized Minds: The High Price Of America's Testing Culture
Standardized Minds: The High Price Of America's Testing Culture
by Peter Sacks
Edition: Hardcover
67 used & new from $0.01

56 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book for STUDENTS, who are taking these silly tests!, October 5, 2000
I am a high school senior so I am currently getting a lot of pressure from my parents to get that silly 1600 on my SAT which will take place in October and December this year. Then there's also the ACTs and the 3 SAT IIs! I was always suspicious of test prep companies, the ETS, and the SATs themselves. Living in Los Angeles, these test prep companies have grown like weeds in the community, sucking up money from middle and upper class students. Though I am fortunate, my parents have also forcefully enrolled me at one of these. My SAT school is doing a nice job with its profits and have managed to get a new paint job, redecorate the "classrooms", and to get more students and more teachers, to just get it bigger and bigger. While my "teachers" explain the concepts of the SAT, I can't help but wish I was in the library reading more books such as this or practicing the piano. It is so unfair that only the rich people can afford these classes and they are the ones who get the good scores on the SATs. After getting a mediocre score on the SAT in June, my parents have now considered me a total idiot, even though my report cards and comments from teachers say otherwise. This book is so chock-full of information that deserves wide reading. The author has done the most extensive research imaginable. The controversy of the standardized tests is something that should have been addressed and Peter Sacks is the best one to do it. He has full of statistics and information to back up everything he says, yet he never just blows them off to you, but explains them. In addition to statistics, are the personal recollections of the people he interviewed-the teachers, educators, college admissions people, and even students. The tale of one student who had 7 tries to take a silly test and not being able to graduate and forced to stay in high school was frightening to the say the least. I am also glad that the author also included a section about the infamous incident in 1998 in Massachusetts when everyone condemned the teachers that they failed "a basic reading and writing test", which had become a punch-line for many of Jay Leno's jokes that year. It was rather strange that the media did not go into detail about the exact questions or the more specifics of that exam, but everyone just wanted to call these teachers "idiots".
The book is comprehensive on all testing, with the exception of secondary school admissions tests such as the ISEE and the SSAT. Going to California private schools, I have become familiar with ERBs and the Stanford 9 tests. In order to get into private high schools, I had to take the ISEE and the SSAT. Now I have the SATs and ACTs to conquer.
This is more than a book analyzing the damaging effects of the testing culture. The author suggest an standing ovation-worthy proposal of evaluating students on what they can do, whether it is projects and more research opportunities such as outside occupational research or conducting a lab or evaluating a student 's portfolio, instead of standardized tests.
Yes, this book should be read by politicians educators, teachers, yet I am here to emphasize STUDENTS should read this book too. Students who are daunted by the SATs need to be educated about our obsessive testing culture and that they are NOT idiots for a silly number.
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