Books/book review/fiction/Romance

Smelling nice enough?

Kiss of a Duke
Twelve Dukes of Christmas #2
Erica Ridley
romance, Regency, historical, humour
(6 Nov. 2018)

Just one more kiss… (Milady, it’s cold outside)

Lady chemist Penelope Mitchell took England by storm with Duke, a perfume for men that has women swooning at their feet. To prove the same aphrodisiacal potency of her upcoming version for ladies, the new perfume must cause a rake to fall in love with her in ten days. And she has just the man in mind…

Sexy pleasure-seeker Nicholas Pringle—known as “Saint Nick” for his wicked ways—wants to end the absurd cologne that has every young buck believing himself a ladies’ man. How hard can it be to charm a spinster into changing her mind? But when Penelope does the charming, this rakish scoundrel must decide between losing the war... or losing his heart.

The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a laugh-out-loud historical romance series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. After all, nothing heats up a winter night quite like finding oneself in the arms of a duke!

This is number 2 in this great series.

We met Penelope before – the scientist who creates perfumes in the castle – somewhat messy and unusual indeed in being a ‘lady’ chemist at these times., in book #1.

Here we find her having successfully created a perfume for men that has proved to be a scent for the male tonthat has taken them by storm – and has made her notable.

Now she has to make a female perfume that will do the same.

Another of Erica’s heroines that is naturally a scientist in an era when women were not that educated and one we can empathise with, one who is a natural philosopher as those who worked with natural essences were called, and one who experimented in a laboratory. A grand example for our own girls.

I always enjoy a novel by Erica Ridley. They are light but also have great heroines who are not conforming to the societal norm. which i approve of. She doesn’t attempt to copy Georgette Heyer even though the books are set in the same time period. Rather she makes the time period her own creation, and this series of short novels is a grand idea – 12 before Xmas – quick writing!

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Books/book review/Fantasy/fiction

Webs of Gold and Clockwerk

The Golden Spider Book Cover The Golden Spider
Elemental Web Chronicles #1
Anne Renwick
steampunk, fantasy, historical
Anne Renwick
(11 Aug. 2016)

London papers scream of dirigible attacks, kraken swarms, and lung-clogging, sulfurous fogs. But a rash of gypsy murders barely rates mention. Lady Amanda is tired of having both her intelligence and her work dismissed. After blackmailing her way into medical school, she catches the eye of her anatomy professor from the moment she walks into his lecture hall. Is he interested in her? Or only her invention–a clockwork spider that can spin artificial nerves? Lord Thornton, a prominent neurobiologist, has been betrayed. Secret government technology has been stolen from his laboratory, and a foreign spy is attempting to perfect it via a grisly procedure… using gypsies as test subjects. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a beautiful–and brilliant–new student, even if her spider could heal a deteriorating personal injury. Until her device is stolen and used in the latest murder. Lord Thornton has no option but to bring her into his laboratory as well as the investigation where they must fight their growing, yet forbidden, attraction. Bodies accumulate and fragile bonds are tested as they race across London, trying to catch the spy before it’s too late.

I am just loving SteamPunk (not yet ClockPunk although I hear this is coming to the fore – as I haven’t read any – I think, but new terminology…).

My reasons for loving SteamPunk are varied but – in the novels I have been reading, especially Anne Renwick, there are

  1. Heroines that defy societal norms and coincidentally,
  2. Are also great scientists/engineers/doctors. etc
  3. But also, partly because of the words used in them to describe concepts and inventions:

Acousticocept for instance which clearly starts as:

Acoustic – being the science of sound

CoCept – being concept without the ‘n’.

Newarachnid / Amatiflora / Phaoscope / Myotech

4. Also because they reference Babbage – one of my heroes


5. Lady Ada Lovelace – he great mathematician and first computer programmer.

6. And the goth fashion is also great too. Not tat i would wear it myself but I do love the look of it.

There is a great website dedicated to steampunk ( which explains the literature, fashion, art and design and some authors to read. If the style of literature is new to you, then do and look at it for inspiration.  apparently even the great houses of couture such as Versace have referenced steampunk in their collections.

FOr me, Anne Renwick writes one of the best set of tales set in steampunk and there are quite a lot to choose from. I like her style of writing and her characters seem genuine and possible.



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Books/book review/Fantasy/fiction/Romance

Railways and Engineers

Steam and Rust
Elemental Web Tale
Anne Renwick
urban fantasy, Victorian, short story, steampunk
Anne Renwick

In the very different urban Victorian landscape of clockwork and steam driven mechanicals we have delicate females who need protection.

But Anne Renwick provides us with heroines who are rather different. Who are self taught science and engineering, who become spies (!) and who are also rather lusty and happy about it…

Nicely written and satisfactory as a complete story despite its length.

Anne Renwick knows her craft.

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Books/book review/fiction

Just how do you spell it?

Elefant Book Cover Elefant
Martin Suter
animals, science, literary fiction
Fourth Estate
May 21, 2018

The international bestseller about friendship, second chances, and a tiny glow-in-the-dark pink elephant What would you do if you woke up to see a living, breathing, tiny, glowing, pink elephant? If you're anything like Schoch, who lives on the streets of Zurich and is decidedly down on his luck, you might well think it's time to put away the bottle before your hallucinations get any stranger, and go back to sleep. But what if the tiny pink elephant is still there when you wake up? And clearly needs someone to take care of it? And what if you discover that it's been created through genetic engineering, by a group of scientists who just want to use it to get rich and don't care about the elephant's welfare? And that they're in cahoots with a circus and will stop at nothing to get it back? What if this little elephant is about to change your life?

An apposite story of the issues and challenges of genetic manipulation of embryos, just as the UK law permits such manipulation for Cystic Fibrosis. The thin edge whereby such ‘surgery’ may occur in the future, either for illnesses that are caused by faulty genes, or for traits that are, or are not, required – such as a pink glow-in-the-dark skin! (and as there may, or may not be, a malfunctioning gene for fat cells, could I have this surgery too please?)

Initially, I was not sure of this book and story, but I was gradually drawn in to finding out about the homeless and  their lives, and then the circus. And then there was the geneticist and the elephants.

In the end, you could say that this is a fable for scientists. Or you could call it sentimental, or even redemptive. for me, it was all of these things. This tiny elephant was born for a reason, and she impacted a number of lives to bring them what, you could argue, they deserved. For good or ill.

Nicely written, and a story I couldn’t put down.

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Books/book review

Thriving in a different world?

To be honest this book disappointed me.

I had thought that it might contain something new or something researched in depth.

However, it was a series of (mostly) very short chapters on topics where I already knew just about everything that was suggested - it was for me, a superficial look at areas that were too broad for a serious look at how to thrive in our current society and world cultures.

Take for instance the chapter on shopping for food.

It is already well known that pesticides and herbicides are bad for our health. That we should use local farmer's markets. That we should think about food miles - although we must also factor in economics for the producing country when doing this. That organic tastes better - try drinking organic milk - or even better if you can find it - raw milk.  that not all organic is completely organic - the law permits a small percentage of non-organic (think wind drift). etc etc.

I grow as nearly organically as I can. I buy organic vegetables and meat. I use farmer's markets. I buy organic hand wash and so on. So what did I have to learn?

Although it did contain references at the back, I would have liked to have seen some suggestions of further reading in each chapter ending. And it was US biased - the debate is different in Europe and the UK of course.

I'm afraid, that I ended up putting my academic hat when reading it as it struck me as being a rather self-indulgent student project that lacked sufficient rigour to be of much use unless you were completely new to each and every area discussed. Which, in general, the people who would read such a book are not. It was clear that some chapters enthused Kamea - eg the food chapter more than others as they were not equally researched or discussed in depth.

So , for me overall, it was  2, but for anyone new to any of these areas, then a 3 might be a more appropriate rating.


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