A review of News of the World by Paulette Jiles

I have submitted 9800 words to my writing instructor.

A good portion are terrible and even though I am outlined, I am not sure what the most critical scenes will be, since I added some since the outline, to get me to the first major plot point.  At least I decided what that plot point was.  But the ten thousand or so words left to get there…not sure.

I’ll be interested to see what she says when we talk on Skype on Monday.  I might write more until then, I am sure I need to.

I continue to be saved from my angst via ReadHarder.  I like that this year’s list, although heavy on the comics again for some reason with one celebrity memoir allows me to read some books I have been eyeing for awhile.

I did not realize that the Western category would be one of them. Not until my local library posted that News of the World counted as a Western (I guess I thought it took place more in the East after the Civil War) did I dive right in without hesitation.  I am keeping my library abreast of my progress too as a community project.

news of the world.jpg

News of the World, Paulette Jiles

So I think I need to redo one of my favorite sayings, ‘white people problems’ to ‘modern day white people problems’ because although they might be fewer in this book than if the main characters were recovering and trying to set up their lives post slavery, they still had some pretty serious challenges.

Dang, this book was good.  And maybe not only because I love historical fiction, but it had to do with family and attachment, the bonds that get us through the harsh realities.  All fiction can capture that.  This was not about defeating other peoples to live out on the edge of society, which is my prejudice against Westerns. Isn’t this challenge about giving all sorts of reading a try?  I have found something to like in almost every new thing I have tried, even though it won’t make me love comics and never will.

It is about a man who brings some society to the less established places in Texas via reading news from papers all over the world.  He took to the road after family bonds loosened for a time in his own life and he rather enjoys it, until he takes on the responsibility of taking a young white girl, captured young into a Native American tribe and then sold back to white people a few years later, back to her family.  The family in question is a German aunt and uncle and the girl has long since adopted the Kiowa tribe ways and does not want to go back to the strange world of the white people.  He is given the task because he is already a traveler of long distances, but also because he is a principled older gentleman who was not going to rape her.

They really come together over an incident where she shows her talents as a survivor in battle, and from then on, I root for their grandfather/granddaughter relationship.  I love it when characters from different worlds find commonalities in one another and come together as an unexpected unit.

And the setting…oh, Ms Jiles paints the flooding springtime Texas frontier, the people, the political dramas of the times.   The danger and the adventure.

This one is not light but I liked being in its world for awhile as a distanced reader with a warm bed.  I can’t get into specifics on my favorite parts, but suffice it to say that Jiles is not so naive and disappointing to think that a girl raised for a few years as a native could be happy roped into a euro-American woman’s life.  She makes it work for Johanna in a believable way, which was satisfying. I was not surprised at all when she noted at the end of the book that she researched these children taken from short lives with Native Americans and how they all wanted to go back to them, even if they only lived with them a few months.  I highly recommend this one and I am not surprised I have seen it recommended so much around me.

BookRiot helps me survive on.  Also, light knitting, staying active, the BBC’s miniseries of North&South and finding new episodes of The Worst Witch on Youtube are also getting me through when my brain feels dead, and getting out and doing some things with the boy, like playing in the snow and going swimming.   I feel like even though she won’t see it this round I need to continue writing out my scenes for my book to figure out where it all goes.  The only way to really find it is to write it.  Never mind the dead brain.



My V Day Read

I promise that this entire post won’t be griping about noveling, like the last two posts have been.  It’s not novel writing, it’s noveling:  thinking, wheels turning, researching, bouncing ideas off a friend who lets me know when I’ve missed the mark and when I look a hot mess.

But I first want to mention that I had different ideas for my Valentine’s Day post.  First of all it would have been better last weekend, before the holiday, and second, I wanted it to feature like three books of YA love that are waiting for me, like any true love will, on my kindle.

That is not to say I didn’t enjoy the romance novel I did read, and that I am not slowly giving romance more and more of a chance as I expand my reading horizons.  But it would have been more of the things with the stuff and some ampersands.

I am doing short Read Harder books until the bulk of my noveling is out and down.  I have some categories that I really want to read something that demands more time and brain space ( ahem, The Master and Margarita) and they are also on hold like the books I would have ideally liked to do for this post. But I want to be a writer of fiction too, not just a blogger, so both siblings need their time.

A Romance by or About a Person of Color:

the duchess war.jpg

The Duchess War, Courtney Milan

Now, this one was recommended by BookRiot staff as a contender for this category.  I peeped in Ms Milan’s author bio and she is a well rounded, learned woman of science and law, which explains some of the major plot pieces in this novel, sedition.  It has a lot to say about social class and the offenses that the powerful commit against the powerless.  It reminded me of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South a little bit, and of my own plotting, where my educational background determines the plots I do come up with and the tools at my disposal.

But, to make mention of the plot, a plain woman, Minnie, with a scandalous secret past attracts the attention of a duke looking to change the world and is the first to figure out that he is printing handbills encouraging workers to unite/unionize.  She intrigues him with her ability to conceal her talents behind a mousy, biddable exterior to fit in and find someone to marry her so she can be taken care of.  They have a store of secrets against each other that become exposed in the cringing way that romance novels have to to move the plot forward.  There is an Austen esque moment, and I thought that before Austen was referenced, where his mother shows up and offers her money to betray him and not marry him.  The Duke wants to be loved in the way that he never was and Minnie needs to be accepted for who she is, which is far from the checklist of desired wifely qualities, and she doesn’t have the money to do what she wants on her own.  As in life a good romance novel involves characters healing one another, and there is healing, and what we in therapy call corrective emotional experiences.

Plus the sex is decent, I think it is more realistic than in some of the romances I have read, and I like that their first time together is a plot point rather than gratuitous sex.  It gives detail but its not too much and everyone is consenting which is huge for me.  I don’t like romances where the guy persists on a girl who needs to be convinced to like him and I hope that is becoming less common in the genre as consent becomes more of a thing in the popular eye.  Like if I don’t like you don’t do things to make me feel like I have to give you a chance.  No.

I wanted to read Beverly Jenkins for this one, but I was going to read her book for a Western, but I started a different short book that counts as a Western that I have been meaning to read.  I have her novel Tempest on my library wish list.  I am intrigued as to how she writes African American characters in the American West.  Even though the West had more flexible rules than the East it was still a racist nation as a collective.  It’s an arranged marriage trope and it’s the third in her old West series…

So I did it. I did not spend the post complaining about the hell of really committing to getting a novel down in a short period of time.  I could have been noveling the whole hour that it usually takes me to turn out a decent post, but the writing projects need variety, right?

If winter could be shorter without making me anxious that the planet would burst into flames I would be okay with that, too.


Dear Teenage Self: Yup, you were right.

So I was hard on my 15-17 year old angsty self for a number of years for not having the courage to pursue a career in writing.  Not having the balls.

I was less hard in more recent years because the more I learn and think about themes and character arcs and plots, the more I realize that it was difficult for me to know what to write about as a kid with my extremely limited scope of experience.  Remember, kids, there was not really an interwebs until I was 14-15 and I used it to talk to randos in chat rooms and send emails to people whom I saw in school during the day.  There were none of the fun teen writing communities and resources and even chances to practice by writing fan fiction that there are now. And my childhood was uneventful.  I guess I could say sheltered but I had had plenty of time to run off and get into unsupervised trouble on my own.  I was still an 80’s kid, after all.

When I decided it was time to get serious about writing one of the best things I did was go through and like writing related Facebook pages and subscribe with some discretion to writing blogs.  Liking pages for literary journals and writers digest and getting into 12 short stories (I don’t even remember how I found that one but I’m so happy I did) and to have a Pinterest board for prompts and writing articles.

All of that was easier than what I am facing now. (Worry not/spoiler alert I do actually talk about a specific book in this post).

I have the chance to make all my dreaming and hoping of becoming a novelist real.  I have the tutelage and one on one help of a writing instructor whose course I won.  I have an idea that started off decent and she has already made it more exciting and cool than I had thought on my own and has springboarded me into another level already.

And I haven’t written a scene.

I am working through the accompanying workbook, I am almost done and out of excuses.  I have drafted out some scenes during pivotal plot points in order to find my way a little, but writing out something I am intending on having her look over to keep in my pile for further working?  Nope.  Got some sweet backstories, listed character traits, printed out pictures of everything I think is relevant.  My excited father is like, send me scenes!  Nope.

Just like when I felt like I had to come out with some good fiction as a kid, I am jamming up.  I am so excited I finished another book for BookRiot to have something different to write  today.  It’s still writing, right? I also may have finished a scene for a short I am dragging myself through.

I am not used to feeling this way.  In academia, I was reading the material and gathering sources for end of semester projects from the first week, ready to jump right in.  Excited about what I was going to learn and how I was going to put it all together.

And here I am, having written a few decent things, like I did as a teen, and then hitting a wall when I decide to chase that rabbit down the hole.

There is something different this time, though.  I know there is a way around the wall. I will probably sit and force myself to write terribly and tunnel my way through it.  I have too much legwork already done to gum up before I put down anything to submit to my instructor.  I am not a kid anymore.

But to my kid self: man, you were right, this sucks.  And I am still glad that you didn’t want to rely your life on reading and writing.  I am glad you decided to go in other directions, too.

Also, it is unrealistic to me to never read.  Downtime has been eaten up by activities that lead to my self loathing, like scrolling way too much social media and watching shows that I get nothing out of other than entertainment while knitting (which is something, I can’t say it’s nothing at all).  But I have been looking through the Read Harder challenge and finding shorter reads that fit the bill right now:

A Work of Genre Fiction in Translation:

black tea.jpg

Black Tea and Other Tales, Samuel Marolla

I feel this also gets extra points because it is self published, although as I have said before on this blog, I have read a good number of self published works that were as good as things being produced by publishers (two of whom I am thinking about right now, Ania Ahlborn and Intisar Khanani were both picked up by big fivers and they totally deserve it).

I actually liked the title story, Black Tea, the least.  It was more confusing, more in your face horror with a grotesque monster than the other two.  I don’t know if that is because it is maybe the most classic idea of horror that it got the top bill on this collection? I saw another reviewer on Amazon feeling similarly about Black Tea, but the following two stories, of a man with nothing to lose given a wish granting wine and an eleven year old boy cursed with a visiting nighttime spectre were intriguing and different.  They were transporting and scary and I liked the settings.  I wonder if people who don’t get through Black Tea also don’t make it to the other two stories, which would be a shame.

I always expect to like reading the different things that Read Harder makes me look into, and this did not disappoint. There were longer and more expensive books that I might have read, like Hex, which has been on my wishlist forever, but I liked something shorter right now.  I am sure Hex will be diverting once I get into it.

So I am learning about how I will live my life around noveling.  I think I should note that it is also a challenge right now because I have written a manuscript but on my own time frame.  I want the bulk of this written/worked out by the summer, as I have to use my Skypes by six months from starting them. That is why I am turning down all my other hobbies.  I have not committed to training for something long or a cabled sweater or an 8oo page novel or crafting down my craft backlog.  Those things will wait.  For now.

And I’ll figure it out.  I don’t know what I am reading next but let’s be honest, I’ll have something chosen by the end of the day.


I’m on a fiction diet and I cheated after a week

I have spent the month of January being transported by figuring out my own manuscript rather than being transported by a Snow Read, which is how I have been whiling away the cold winters in my life over the past few years.  It has been a solid coping skill in helping me to deal with my fear that I will never be warm outside again, despite always being proven wrong.

I have seen advice all over that when you are seriously writing (and I am trying my best to seriously write) that you really should not be immersing yourself in fiction.  It makes sense.  I need my own thoughts to be working for me, instead of slipping into someone else’s fictional world.  I have been doing less crafting and more writing, because crafting is another amazing use of my time that needs to move over.

When my brain needs a wind down in the evening, I have been watching really light television shows that I won’t admit to on a public forum, even with the nom de keyboard, working on a lace scarf, playing solitaire on my tablet, and listening to Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques by The Great Courses (so glad I read as much as I did in preparation to write because he references many books I have read, like Middlemarch, The Great Gatsby, and even The Luminaries).  When I am working out or driving it tends to be the course, or I will allow podcasts of stories or book reviews (I still like Myths and Legends, Book Riot’s Recommended and Literary Disco).  And not only have I been plotting out a novel and working on it with the instructor whose time I won in a short story contest, I have been writing up other short, dark fictions that I have been working on in fits and starts, and trying to go back to writing every day, even if it is a brain dump.

Brain Dump Sidebar: I did morning pages through a particularly jarring, life altering and hugely embarrassing breakup and I think it helped me process enough to be ready to move on when I met my husband not too much after that.  A few months of hiding and writing and I was a new woman.  Magic.  I was doing morning pages to lead me back into my own creativity groove, not bring along a dude, but I suppose others would wish themselves so lucky.  And further proof that some things show up just as, and only when, you stop looking for them.

But if you are reading this post to discover the cheat meal, that loaf of bread, cupcake, or plate of fettuccine alfredo after a few low carb weeks, I shall not disappoint:

anya's ghost.jpg

Anya’s Ghost, Vera Brosgol

A immigrant, trying to fit in teenage girl who comes under the influence of a ghost looking to meet her own ends?  Absolutely. This counts as a comic written and illustrated by the same person for BookRiots 2018 Read Harder Challenge.  I didn’t dislike The Complete Persepolis, but this was a much less intense, more enjoyable read. This was YA fun at it’s finest.  I read it through in one sitting.  I loved it but it is probably getting donated to my library because it needs to be in the hands of an angsty reluctant reader to get them into the diversion of books.  It can start in my hands but these are not the hands with which it needs to ultimately stay.

Don’t judge me, I was starving!  The calories were soo worth it!

It’s been an interesting study in how much fiction reading for blogging and just because I loved it filled in my free spaces.

Also an unintended benefit:  I believe that I have been spending less money because I am not on the hunt for new books, new audiobooks, and new crafts, as well as a free Sunday afternoon really should be spent writing or planning my novel, not pushing my son through Target in a cart with the promise of pizza with good behavior.  I have spent money taking him out to do things, but not money on my intense hobby chasing.

Maybe I need to post on trying to get my own reluctant reader into books and right now giving up my expectations, which I tell parents to do all the time at work and now it’s my turn to take my own advice.  Spoiler alert:  I haven’t gotten him into The BFG yet but I am not done trying.  Not even close.

As I have warned, fiction starvation might lead to a series of what I have read while writing, I don’t know.  I like that this blog is writing but changing it up from fiction.


How I’ll Miss Katherine Kellgren’s Work With My Favorite Cozy Mysteries

I was very sad to hear of the untimely passing of narrator Katharine Kellgren on January 10.

Katherine was so good at what she did that a friend of mine who also shares my audiobook addiction actually texted me one evening when she heard the news herself.  I mean, this friend does not even text me when celebrities die, but Ms. K got the honor.

I was surprised to learn when reading about her that she did not come by her British accent naturally, but was American.  Being that I sound awfully American and I can’t do accents, I find this impressive.  She also narrated 250 audiobooks, so the ones that she made special to me were but a slip of her time, a blip on her radar.  I own other books she has done that I have not yet enjoyed.  I am saddened about the loss of this talent.

Her talent brought to life my favorite cozy mystery series, Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen.

Her Royal Spyness is about a remote British royal named Lady Georgiana Rannoch, a single woman in her early twenties who suffers from genteel poverty in 1930s Britain.  Her cousin, the Queen of England, gives her assignments to spy on or further her interests in the outside world.  Usually someone dies over the course of these situations that the Queen sends Georgie into. A layer that I particularly enjoy is the cameo appearances of real people who lived back then, like Wallis Simpson and the Prince of Wales that she is after, and Noel Coward.  I mean, if one is going to do a historical time and place, which any reader of this blog will know I am crazy about, having real figures makes it all the better.

I can be terrible at series.  I don’t usually want to keep hanging out with the same set of characters, but somehow Her Royal Spyness keeps it fresh and different for me, while I am always waiting for the same set of characters to show up: her ex cop grandfather, her man hopping actress mother and her famous contacts, her licentious friend, and a fresh set of antics through the half competent maid whom she keeps out of desperation.  As with any cozy, you can usually smell the love interest the moment he steps onto the scene, but I still wait for him to show up and declare his love for the more awkward but deep and principled Georgiana.  Anglophilia runs in my blood still after over 200 years of my family being in this country.  Two hundred years can’t beat out the excitement that I get from Georgiana’s contacts and assignments from the Queen.  Can’t do it!  I currently am up to Queen of Hearts.  That one appears to toss a little American history into it. I have it on audio and it is next in line.  I binged on the ones before that pretty hard, including the Christmas one, which I thought was particularly well done, even after my seasonal Christmas novel binge.

I was sucked into this series by an Audible promotion to start with (they know how to market) and I have tried reading the books on my kindle or on paper and it just isn’t the same without the particular accents and voices that bring each character to life for me.  Even when I am excited to read the next book and it is sitting on the library shelf looking at me, I tend to use a valuable Audible credit on it.  That is high praise.

But I can’t truthfully say that I have not wondered who will be next to narrate these and if it will be even remotely the same.  Kellgren was not the only narrator I have ever loved, but she is close.  I don’t know if anyone will ever do a better Cockney male than she does.  I just don’t.  A talent gone too soon from us.






Ladies Kicking Butt in 1800s England

The reading theme of women taking charge of their lives in historical fiction continued into the first two weeks of the New Year.  January sucks, but that’s what books are for.

Both books I am talking about today are different in detail but have the same idea of women pushing out of their confined roles and prescribed goals to find their own sense of contribution and use.  They are also similar in that they are starts of series, even though one wraps up better as a standalone novel and the other cuts off just as a new chapter has already started. I’ll always love the theme of being useful because I would never be able to be purely ornamental either.  If anyone asked me to be ornamental in the first place.   They might not, ha.

lady of the ashes.jpg

Lady of the Ashes, Christine Trent

A woman who already defies convention as an undertaker in Victorian England becomes further elevated and independent when her husband becomes increasingly daft and reckless in his pursuit of even greater fortune.  The novel is not just about her, though.  The author works hard to paint a clear historical context for her story.  The setting is a character in and of itself. Not just the lives of women but the political movements and lives of the much more mobile men are talked about to intersect with her story.  There is even a significant plot thread dealing with Queen Victoria and her devastation over losing Albert.  There are plot lines having to do with the relationship between America and Great Britain regarding the Civil War in this country. I mean, and I may have said this before, if you are going to take all this time researching a context for a novel you should have a lot of that context actually in the book.

This one has a nice concluded  ending with the promise of the next book clear and looming.  I might pick up the next one at some point, too, but this one was a read down on the huge number of unread books on my kindle.

dark days club.jpg

Dark Days Club, Allison Goodman

A woman in Regency England  (before Victorian… 1812…yeah I had to look into that too) discovers she has inherited her questionable mother’s talents and her calling to defeat supernatural threats to the whole of England.  She was also born into privilege and society, and her supernatural gift manifest while she is being forced into this mold in her first Season, her coming out.  She has to make some choices about what world she is going to inhabit.

This one too was meticulously researched for the context, but there were no plot lines about males.  Not men who were existing in the actual time, that is. Men who had the same supernatural calling have some backstory.  I thought it was a little slow.  I hate to even say that because of the work that clearly went into the book, and maybe I am just saying that because I am picking up on the tedium of the life of society that looms ahead of the protagonist.  All the social rules and the focus on dresses and marrying a man after a few short encounters would have been a struggle for me to care about in that world.  I do like the tag line on the cover that “high society can be hell.”  True true.

This one stops just as she makes the major decision of the novel and has committed to that choice.  So there is a whole other part to be explored there.  She leaves it more of a cliffhanger than Lady of the Ashes.

So, a brief note about this blog in the coming weeks.  (duh duh duuuuuh)

I won a creative writing course via a short story contest hosted by the lovely Mia Botha at writer’s write.  I have done the 12 short stories and I will be doing it into January, but this was a separate contest hosted by the site.  Anyway, I won the course and I am using my time with the instructor to start on a novel I have had kicking around in my bead that needs to manifest.  I have eight Skype sessions with her to use before July, so I don’t know how much time I will have for reading for the blog.  I am going to be hopefully immersed in my novel at the time.  I have worked on dismissing my inner critic who thinks my writing is useless and I have Ms Botha to pull me along and help me give shape to the piece when the inner critic shows back up thinking we might be able to get back together.

Not only will the reading need to slow down, so will the knitting.  I am not allowing myself new projects right now and if I have a chunk of time I need to use it toward developing my novel, not on turning on an audiobook and blissfully knitting.  It’s an excellent past time, but my ultimate goal is not knitting.  I do love it though.

I am unsure the status of the 2018 Snow Read. I don’t know how I will do the brain down time.  I don’t know if I will need an epic novel or I will need something lighter. I need to go back to writing for ten minutes every morning instead of scrolling Facebook.  I am going to be cramming my margins. Cramming.

But this is what following my heart will be about.  Interesting that I had been unable to commit to any 2018 goals, training, reading or otherwise, which left a space for this course.  Usually my snow read is no question, it floats down out of thin air and demands to be read, and although I am excited about the book I did pick, it has not been one that has been tantalizing me from the margins.  It didn’t go on ebook sale around Christmas and demand the next place in line.

I don’t know what is next.



Victorian Ghost Stories From the End of 2017

For some reason, when the year closes out and I am done with Christmas reads and reading challenges I like to read about ghosts and spiritual matters. Maybe I belong in a Dickens novel and I use the time to consider the larger picture as I get a new chance at a new year. I don’t know.  But at the end of 2017 it was Victorian ghost stories and this is the first of two posts discussing Victorian and Regency times, supernatural or not.

victorian Ghost stories.jpg

Victorian Ghost Stories: An Oxford Anthology

I snagged this beauty right at the end of 2016 secondhand because I want to write more ghost stories and horror, etc.  It definitely did not disappoint.

I don’t know why I had to read so many stories to realize that I probably love ghost stories not just because I find the other side of the veil fascinating but also because they are ultimately about passion. Like, you really gotta care about something to bother coming back from the dead for it.  This could be patently obvious to everyone else.  Because of this, many of the stories are love stories, but there is a decent showing of revenge or guilt stories as well.  The scariest story in here is the last story, one of the first I read of the collection, because it was by Algernon Blackwood.  Blackwood is adept at creating something scary with subtlety.   I don’t know if I ever posted on The Willows, but I found it disturbing without there being a single ghost.  Similarly, his story in this collection, The Kit Bag,  was creepy and left a significant impression on me.  It creeped me out just by suggestion.

The rest of the collection was good too, not just the showing from Blackwood.  It has Wilkie Collins, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and JS Le Fanu.  So many hidden passions in proper Victorian times make for much fodder for passionate stories.  Never makes me want to live in that era, as I would never have fit in unless I was rich enough to get away with eccentricity and clandestine scrawling inside a closet.

I picked this up sometimes when I wanted  something short, but as the year was closing out and I was trying to be better about consuming shorts this definitely came off the nightstand for longer periods of time.

nocturne for a widow.jpg

Nocturne for a Widow, Amanda DeWees

This is ultimately a Gothic romance and exactly what I wanted in my post holiday changeup of routine week.

The heroine, Sybil, spends most the book in the precarious circumstances common to women in the Victorian era.  She tries her best for independence, but at the cost of her family and security.  Any good Gothic heroine needs to have some modicum of independence to be interesting enough as a protagonist, as well behaved Victorian women have a hard time being interesting until they break or bend the rules.  Often they have to be star crossed to do this, but Sybil does not need to be blinded by love to bend the rules, and I like that about her.

I also thought the hero was pretty well done, being a passionate bad boy who is difficult to read.  Bad boys are not my favorite usually but I found myself trying to read his emotions as he made the heroine in the book crazy throughout most of it.  I also liked that their ending up together (I don’t think this is a spoiler because the book is marketed as a romance and he is clearly the love interest the minute he rolls onto the scene) actually resulted in her being able to return to her creative life and living some of her dreams, rather than giving them up, like she thought she had to to survive in the beginning. I have read other historical books where a couple get together but then she is clearly headed toward children and domesticity after a life of being on the road, performing, or independence, and I don’t like that.  When I was pregnant my clients told me I might not want to come back to work and I knew before that baby came I would want to come back to work…I did after 11 weeks and I never looked back.  I love the boy who is jumping in front of the TV right now but I am not a stay at home parent.

This story is ultimately a mystery, with a big old house, a ghost with a story to tell, dramatic revenge, and a wicked female villain under the guise of utmost propriety and decorum. The story ties up neatly and sets the nice stable stage for a new round of mystery.  This has a sequel mystery to it, and it looks like Ms. DeWees is looking to make it into a series, as she has other Victorian romances published on Amazon as well.  I would pick up another Sybil Ingram mystery if it suited my ever changing reading mood.

Next week I am posting on another pair of historical fiction books (I have not finished the second one and that is looking like there is paranormal involved, although the first one does not have any) in the Victorian/Regency era.  Just seems to be my reading mood lately, before the first snow read hits.  January is a long long freakin month.