Playing By Heart

Well, this was a surprise. I never thought I will be able to love historical romances again, or even think of it as anything remotely touching. But this was the right one for me.

I mean, Emilia wants to be married and not bound to a convent. She wants more than some Tom, Dick or Harry. And she is willing to go ways for it, to ensure that she has a stable place in life and nothing to worry about.

What made me really care about her is her willingness and flaws, she can be envious. She is envious, but when things really comes down to choices she will still place her sisters above all else. And she will still sacrifice herself for her family, and when she does love I really like her. I guess it her was strength and the want to be able to control her life and not just leave it to chance, even if it means a lot of time spent talking to people. Finding plans. But you know what, this is the kind I really want to read about more. Emilia works for her own future, she may love someone beneath her but she never gives up hope of ever seeing them together.

As for all the women, I really like Adrianna. I mean, she is a great mother even though she is more like their sister instead. Another note is that she isn’t what we always see, she is sensitive and does quite a bit to help Emilia and Maria. Especially knowing them well enough. As for Maria, I guess she had fell a little flat apart from her single minded devotion to God but never really doing much to suggest to her father that going to a convent was for her. But she did do what she did for god when she learned that she could not become a nun. But that’s about it.

As for Antonio Bellini, I just really like him. He may be a musician, but he does have some past which becomes relevant. It is rather understandable why he will want to do that. And why he doesn’t want the title, it does make me understand him very well. And I just really like a guy who won’t compromise himself too much, and is well aware of his own standing. Not to mention, willing to take time to gather a fortune because he loves Emilia and goes through all the ways of the time and respecting her.

As for the ending, it was what I did expect of such a book. And it really made me like them, perhaps it was just the main characters who really clicked with me and the writing which worked so well for me to get into their heads. And really, I will fall in love with a girl who takes an active part in her life rather than just hoping for her wishes to come true.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Duke Of Treason 

I found myself barely able to connect with almost any of the characters at all, there was barely any reason why I kept on reading except that I was expected to since I got a free copy of this.

The romance and characters were flat, and they became a bane to read. As it went to romance pretty fast, even though Annabel is a sort of spy or secret agent meant to search for his traitorous activities. Although I do know that Annabel wasn’t born into this, and the way she chose it was sensible. As for Romulus, the man she was supposed to check, I really couldn’t feel their chemistry together. Or even think they were a fit. But they are quite alike in some ways, and can work. Just that I don’t feel it.

However, she never really clicked with me much. It was just hard for me to get into, and really hard for me to relate. The entire problem lay there. Although the writing was good, I couldn’t really care much about the characters. And the plot was straightforward and the ending one that is happy. Like any typical historical fiction.

This just wasn’t for me, I couldn’t find myself loving it or anything. And that was the one thing that failed me in this book. I won’t say much more than this, but overall I do say still check it out. It just wasn’t my taste.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 2 out of 5

These Shallow Graves 

Now this is how you do a historical fiction with mystery, and a lot about feminism. And Jo, was the perfect character to start with. 

She is a naive girl, but who isn’t. Almost every girl in those times were raised to believe they would either marry, or end up working in dead end jobs. There were no in betweens. And I loved it, the realistic way Jo was created. She felt real for the period she lived in, taking and challenging it in every aspect. And it isn’t just in word, but also on actions. And that is a true feminist. 

Right by her side, to help her with this is the reporter who has a reason to go after this story. And slowly, you could say romance happened. Even in the end, it is still more of an open ending rather than a happy one. But to me, it’s the best of both worlds. Jo gets her dream, and I do think that their romance still needs more time to grow. More time to develop. 

The entire mystery, although was predicable, I figured out the murderer before I was even halfway through. Yet, when she suspected other people, it was because she didn’t want to suspect someone so close to her. So close to her. And she believed in his moral character. If she did, she wasn’t intelligent, she’s heartless. And the way she let it go, was entirely like her. Since she loved him so much. 

It becomes clear that here, she flaws are also relevant. Yet, they also complement her. She is someone that knows the rules of society and tries her best to defy but not get into trouble. That takes intelligence either way. And to me, is much more better than just stating her opinion. It is so much better to do that, as it makes her sensible and willing to preserve herself. Something I prefer over outright defiance which gets her into trouble. 

And to me, she was perfect. Not flawless, but real and true to her time. That was her charm, the fact that for her family she threw everything out the window. For her father, she broke all of societal norms. She believed that it is worth it, and that is what I love about her. 

Even so, behind in the background are awesome girls. Fay really comes to mind, since she is an awesome pickpocket and helps out Jo so many times. And so many times, saved her. And above all, they were friends. They felt like friends. And I love female friendships, they are a lot more awesome than that. And she had a lot of relevance to the plot too, which is another bonus. 

Although the villain was obvious, but the execution had me on my toes all the time. All the time I was guessing what became relevant. All the time thinking about what really happened. It was a really wild ride to guess it all out, and then revealing that not all people were good. Not all were bad. Some did it to survive, others did it for greed. Some sink deeper into this, and I loved every bit of it. The truth hurts, it is ugly. And this is where Jo shines, in the fact that she would rather see the truth published than lie and have a comfortable life. 

And this is why I loved it, because of the way it handled all the themes here in a way of its own. And I enjoyed it because of the way it handled Jo, it handled the mystery. And this is why I loved this story. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

Jane Steele 

Jane Steele is surprisingly good, given that Jane here despite all her faults, despite all her murders managed to be sympathetic. She managed to make me feel for her situation. And I couldn’t turn away from her story the moment I read it, where everything goes downhill for Jane very quickly. 

Jane, whose mother may be a lunatic was sent to a schoolhouse where its headmaster is even worse. I really enjoyed how the author portrayed Jane Steele. As a murderer, she doesn’t regret too much. And most of them really deserved it, the fate that they got through the abuse of their power. I really enjoyed that part where Jane murdered them, and at the same time there were consequences for them. 

Even though she murdered one to save herself, the other to save her vest friend. The third for a woman who took her in. Her motives felt real, it felt plausible. And for her who already has her hands stained from the very beginning, she didn’t too much. At best, she was getting rid of another trash for the world. And I really like that. 

And then comes in Charles Thornfield, a man who also has his fair share of secrets and vices. And the moment at the end, where Jane and Charles have a long talk and she reveals all her secrets, I loved every inch of it. There is this charm about him that makes him fascinating, and that he is someone that accepts Jane for who she is. For me, I agree that most of the people she killed had it coming for them eventually. 

The plot is rather simple, and at the same time filled with plenty of obstacles that Jane encounters. Be it from those she killed, or those that she killed for. But it begins to change the moment she becomes a governess at the household she used to work at. Where Charles is introduced, and his character becomes interesting in the way he managed to keep Jane at a distance, yet still grew fond of her. And Jane, wanting to know more or finding the house strange. 

As for the style, where sometimes it breaks the fourth wall given that Jane sometimes speaks to the reader instead. But I found it quite endearing and interesting as an element to the writing. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book for what it is. Jane being a murderess and one that felt bad and at the same time didn’t look back on her victims. Charles who took in all she was, at the end. All the while looking at the society with all their problems, from headmasters abusing their power, to husbands deciding to marry another time. I would say that this is rather interesting and paints the Victorian world a lot less glamorous and lush than it seemed. Unless of course, you were of the nobility. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

Duels And Deception

I think that this authors has improved in her writing, or perhaps I have finally gotten used to her style of historical fiction for the young adult genre. Regency romance with a tinge of comedy. Such as having a main character becoming engaged in situations which puts her reputation at risk, and having the guy in some way save her, yet giving her enough agency too. 

Lydia, here thinks that she would inherit. She would marry someone of nobility. And I liked it when she realised who it was to quickly change things. And also, realising that she does have feelings. To me, I guess that this book focuses on the real Regency. The historical fiction without fantasy in it, and in its own way it is rather interesting. Lydia resigns herself to marry someone for the sake of her family, then realising that she had someone she liked at the end, and the guy she was about to marry had been a complete jerk. 

All the while, she is also bound by society norms since she is a heiress. And really, I like it when she throws it all out the window at the end and decided to follow her heart. 

As for Robert, I would say that he is okay. A pretty good decent male character, works hard. But nothing really underneath all that. 

As for the villains here, I could see why they would eventually just decide to go after money. Since they were in desperate need of it. But it makes no sense unless they were delusional or something. They knew that she would have this much money, they knew that they would only get it after she married inside. What’s the point of going after money that belonged to Lydia in the first place. 

In fact, I would prefer if it had been a scheme and she simply found out and ruined it. Since it makes me more intent to think that they should be heading to an asylum for hallucinations and psychopathy instead of jail. Would do them a lot more good. 

Generally, I would say that this book is meant for those who want to read a Regency romance. There is no fantasy here, nothing about intrigue either. Just a fun ride with Regency. So, I would say that this is a book you should read if you feel very heavy, since it’s light, easy and doesn’t take too much of your time. Overall, I would say that I liked it, even though it does have some flaws of its own. And that the main leads are likeable characters, one who simply needs to marry for the sake of her family, the other just following his heart without any signs of the typical jerk we see so often in the young adult genre. 

Rating: 3 out of 5

Stalking Jack The Ripper 

This book is utterly perfect. The mystery of Jack The Ripper, and the main character. To me, this was perfect in my eyes. Even if I could have seen where it would head with the characters, and who would be the murderer at the end slightly before it was revealed. The murderer’s motives were at least plausible and decent enough to be real. 

And from the beginning, Audrey Rose was a fantastic female characters. She isn’t obsessed with propriety, or even about how deserving of their fate those women were. She only thought that they also had mothers, they may also have children, they would definitely have a family. They might have only done this out of pure necessity not because of their choice. And that is what I like her for. 

Also, for the fact that she is skilled at forensic science and always tries to fulfill her curiosity. At the very beginning, against her father’s wishes she finds a way to do what she likes. And all the while, she doesn’t just fall head in heels for the first guy she meets. Their relationship is a developing one, where it goes from banter and eventually he helps her when it is most needed. 

Thomas comes off as conceited and arrogant from the very first page he is introduced. He knows a great deal, and loves to show off his knowledge. But the one thing that does set him apart is that he isn’t a complete jerk, he gets it that Audrey still needs her reputation, and he respects her for who she is without ever demeaning her. The way he acts arrogant is one that is in his personality, but never sounding incredibly rude if you ask me. And having his own charm lying in the way he speaks not his good looks, which I have been waiting for years for such a character. 

As for her family, there are some issues with them. Her aunt is religious and rather pious, which was quite okay if you ask me. She didn’t play a rather important role. Liza on the other hands was slightly more interesting, given that she allowed herself to love a variety of men. And well, let’s just say I pretty enjoyed a quote that she said. That Liza chooses who she wants to be and in certain times, she shows different sides of herself. To me, that was a rather interesting side of the story too. 

As for her father, I do admit that he has his faults but at the end he redeems himself instead. I rather like the ending for his decision and realizing that he wasn’t doing a pretty good job. Well, you would find out what would make him reflect on his choices. And well, I did like the ending where Audrey would leave to learn forensic science in Romania, which is why the next book is set there. Well, I definitely will be catching and continuing this series should the next book also have the same sort of mystery this provided me with. 

Since the ending, and no matter what the murderer will be someone that hurts Audrey rather deeply. And well, I cannot wait for the next book to be released since this has given me so much of a joy. 

Rating: 5 out of 5

Gosick 


I have to admit that I took a very short time to finish this anime(technically three days). Firstly, it was mostly to kill boredom before it became an obsession with this show. I would say that this is less of a mystery but more of historical fiction. Mystery wise, it is very easy to solve it given who Victorique is. 

I would say that the plot is incredibly well thought out, with it simply being incredibly clever at many points. From the names, to the tales used. And even where it heads, the early mysteries merely set up the storyline before the ending. And all try cases are rather easily solved by Victorique, which is why I chose to place it under historical fiction, it isn’t a mystery when she can solve it with enough evidence which I would say to any detective might be sparsely any evidence at all, and less than is actually spent in investigation. 

But all the mysteries build up and is one piece of a puzzle to the next, perhaps not a chain reaction. But rather threads set apart and one day would come together, that is how the plot works and it comes together very smartly too. Even giving hints as to what happened to the characters at the end of the mystery if they were still alive. 

As for the characters, I do admit that they are well done. To me, Kazuya is a nice but kind hearted and also a badass(he fought in a war, and in episode two he managed to knock people out with brass knuckles). He’s clearly nothing compared to Victorique in terms of brains, but his combination is a nice for a main character. I might become pretty bored if it was solely Victorique. 

But the one whose past is even more important to the entire storyline is hers, with her history being of the most difficult to see. And that it explains her character rather well enough why she acts as she does, and why does she even treats Kazuya so incredibly badly. I mean, she has no social interaction up until Kazuya, I barely count conversations with her brother and her father. 

Another great thing is the last of support characters, where they might seem incompetent (Grevil at sleuthing or ridiculous(Cecile and Avril). But that all play a role in building towards the ending. 

And Grevil is one of the more developed, he is in love with someone else, sports a ridiculous hairstyle because Victorique made him too. And he has a personality, in certain ways being unkind to her yet helping her when he can. That makes him quite complicated, but also interesting. Particularly the part where he is a sleuth, he is absolutely useless as one, and depends on his sister, but not completely stupid and plays dumb when needed of him to. 

As for the characters later which draw my attention it would have to be Cordelia. She is by far the one with the most tragic back story, I mean being exiled for a crime that she did not commit, not really that bad. But what happens to her during the time where she brought Victorique to the world I really would not say, and even more after her birth. Rather insane if you ask me. And her end, I would say pretty tragic for someone of her life where she spent it moving from one terrible situation from another. She is clearly one which wins my sympathy in this case. 

Overall, I would say that this has been one enjoyable anime for me. Where I spent them putting clues together, some I managed to figure out, others, I couldn’t even begin to scratch the surface itself. And watching a romance develop to me, is something I enjoy if it is slow, and in this case it has to be as Victorique is clearly rather difficult to love immediately. 

Rating: 5 out of 5