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Daily Deals: A mystery, a fantasy, and two romances for $1.99...

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna ClarkeJonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

It’s 1808 and that Corsican upstart Napoleon is battering the English army and navy. Enter Mr. Norrell, a fusty but ambitious scholar from the Yorkshire countryside and the first practical magician in hundreds of years. What better way to demonstrate his revival of British magic than to change the course of the Napoleonic wars? Susanna Clarke’s ingenious first novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, has the cleverness and lightness of touch of the Harry Potter series, but is less a fairy tale of good versus evil than a fantastic comedy of manners, complete with elaborate false footnotes, occasional period spellings, and a dense, lively mythology teeming beneath the narrative. Mr. Norrell moves to London to establish his influence in government circles, devising such powerful illusions as an 11-day blockade of French ports by English ships fabricated from rainwater. But however skillful his magic, his vanity provides an Achilles heel, and the differing ambitions of his more glamorous apprentice, Jonathan Strange, threaten to topple all that Mr. Norrell has achieved. A sparkling debut from Susanna Clarke–and it’s not all fairy dust. –Regina Marlerb

I’m debating buying this for Ned. Anyone read it?

One of the reviews, a five star one, says that it is long, rambling, beautifully written.

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Hercule Poirot's Christmas (Hercule Poirot #20) by Agatha ChristieAgatha Christie by Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

The holidays can be murder–and just in time for yuletide 2008 comes this holiday edition of one of Agatha Christie’s most popular and confounding mysteries.

The wealthy Simeon Lee has demanded that all four of his sons–one faithful, one prodigal, one impecunious, one sensitive–and their wives return home for Christmas. But a heartwarming family holiday is not exactly what he has in mind. He bedevils each of his sons with barbed insults and finally announces that he is cutting off their allowances and changing his will. So when the old man is found lying in a pool of blood on Christmas Eve, there is no lack of suspects. Did Lee’s taunts push one of the boys to a desperate act? And how did the murderer escape from the locked room? Intrepid Belgian detective Hercule Poirot suspends his own holiday festivities to sift through the motives and evidence surrounding the crime

This is only the 20th Hercule Poirot book. I suspect that it might be a book only Christie fans will love.

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The Bride Wore Scarlet by Liz CarlyleThe Bride Wore Scarlet by Liz Carlyle. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

Passion and secrets simmer behind the elegant façade of Victorian London in another deliciously intriguing novel featuring the mysterious men of the St. James Society.

Anaïs de Rohan has faced danger in her past, but never anything so great as posing as the new bride to one of the St. James Society’s most magnetic—and ruthless—leaders. But Lord Bessett’s bold challenge to prove herself worthy of joining his secret all-male society is impossible to resist. So she daringly agrees to travel with the enigmatic nobleman on a dangerous mission to save one of their own—a little girl with a frightening gift.

Soon intrigue swirls about them, drawing them ever closer. And Anaïs quickly realizes that the intimacy of sharing Lord Bessett’s bedroom is proving a temptation impossible to resist. As for Bessett himself—well, he might be a soldier sworn to the Society, but he certainly isn’t anyone’s saint. . . .

I have an uneasy relationship with Liz Carlyle’s books these days. During this Fraternitas Victorian trilogy, Carlyle introduced a paranormal element into her books. It wasn’t my favorite type of story. Anaïs de Rohan, however, is the daughter of Max de Rohan the hero of her book “No True Gentleman” and so I had to read it.

I didn’t love it, particularly the paranormal element that felt very fake to me. Anais is a great heroine.

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Can't Get Enough of You by Bette FordCan’t Get Enough of You by Bette Ford. $ .99.

From the Jacket Copy:

No rebounds. . .

Jenna Gaines has her Ph.D., a great teaching job at her alma mater, everything she ever wanted in life . . . almost. Once upon a time she wanted Scott Hendricks, but the NBA called and he left her to become a hoops star. Now his career is over, and the only man Jenna ever loved is back at her school and in her life—too many years too late, as far as she’s concerned.

Jenna would have given up her dreams to follow Scott, which was the last thing he wanted. All Scott can think about now is the taste of her lips and how it feels to caress her silky ebony skin, but Jenna won’t give him a second chance to break her heart. She will, however, let him be her backup and support when she reconnects with her long-lost brother.

But anything could happen on their fateful trip—because Scott still has the moves . . . and the magic.

A reunited lovers story! Who doesn’t love those. Unfortunately, the heroine is described as a real sad sack in the reviews.

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Katie
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 12:08:13

    Jonathan Strange is one of my favorite books from the past decade, but it’s a bit of a love it/hate it text. It is in fact very long. Also, the writing is very authentic to the style of the early 19th century. If someone hates Austen, they’re probably not going to like this book. Also, the first third of the book — several hundred pages — is written from the POV of a character who isn’t initially very sympathetic. But all of that being said, I think it’s a fantastic, fantastic book and I’ve given it as a gift several times.

  2. peggy h
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 12:13:38

    I read Jonathan Strange when it first came out—yes it is long, and I think an editor with a firmer hand would have improved it. However, it is still an interesting and good read, if one is into historical paranormal tales. One thing I imagine may be distracting to read in e-form is that this book has a LOT of footnotes. A. Lot. I remember reading this book way back when and wondering how all those footnotes would be fit into an audiobook. As an ebook, I guess there would be a bit of clicking back and forth, unless one is the kind who can just ignore those little footnote superscript numbers. All that being said, there is a haunting quality to the tale and the ending–well, I hope it’s not spoilerish to say I think what I liked is that it stayed true to the tone and spirit of the book.

  3. Donna Thorland
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 12:18:45

    I received Jonathan Strange as a gift and really enjoyed it. For $1.99, I don’t think you can go wrong.

    For an Hercule Poirot Christmas fix that is free if you have Netflix, I recommend an episode called the Theft of the Royal Ruby. It’s set over Christmas, is chock full of the signature Christie Egyptian intrigue, and graced by some lovely filmmaking. It’s even got a dollop of romance!

  4. Darlynne
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 12:32:09

    Agree with all the rest about Jonathan Strange, including the part about long, rambling and beautifully written. I also agree that at 1.99, passing it up would be a mistake.

    @Donna Thorland: Thanks for mentioning the movie. I’ll definitely look for it.

  5. SgL
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 12:45:05

    I’ve been struggling to finish the hardbound book for two years. The initial start features many unpleasant sorts of characters but it’s still entertaining . The length and heft of the book is one reason I can’t finish reading — it’s hard to drag such a big book around on a plane or train.

    I am glad to see the low price on the digital copy. Decided to get it so that perhaps I can now finish this book using a tablet instead.

    I do think that one of the things I enjoy about this is that it’s fantasy that has world building that doesn’t give you too many headaches. It’s far more accessible than some of the the other reads people have tried to interest me with.

    I’ll be interested to see what you think should you get it.

  6. willaful
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 12:56:50

    Well… I am a Christie fan, so I guess my comment is worthless, but I think HPC is very entertaining. Lots of family secrets and angst.

  7. Sirius
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 13:06:37

    I do think that Strange and Norell is very much worth reading especially at such low price but I remember buying a hardcover few years ago and being so dissappointed by the uncertain ending that I did not keep the book.

  8. Mari
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 14:11:03

    I read the Strange book and was disapointed in the ending. Angry about it actually. That said I reluctantly reccomend it…I did read it to the end, I loved the writing style and the book had much compelling about it. Still remember it after all these years, and I bought it when it first came out in hardcover. How many books can you say that about? A true C+ , B- read, if there ever was one.

  9. Carolyne
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 14:17:48

    I’m the lone voice (along with about 50% of my book club) who didn’t like Jonathan Strange at all, back when it came out. To me it felt like it was trying to do things I’d read elsewhere, done better, and came across as gimmicky. But at a bargain price, it’s worth seeing if you (or Ned) have a different reaction. No matter what, its ambitions are interesting.

  10. Teresa
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 14:27:32

    I thought Jonathan Strange was a wonderful read, but it’s not for the light reader. I was a little put off by the comment above that suggested it needed an editor with a firm hand. The length of the book is part of its charm and is warranted by its structure (brilliant footnotes and all) .

  11. Janine
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 14:32:47

    My husband and I couldn’t finish Jonathan Strange. I’m guessing we got stuck somewhere in the middle of that first third that @Katie was talking about. The main character was unsympathetic and the pace of the book was slooow. With that said, I thought the prose and worldbuilding were wonderful.

  12. Gillyweed
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 15:42:00

    I took me about 200 pages to get into Jonathan Strange, but after that I “zipped” through it. Yes, it is long and the footnotes are at times cumbersome, but the world-building is phenomenal and the writing is terrific. If you like Jane Austen’s witty, arch narration (or Sherry Thomas’s), you will probably enjoy Susanna Clarke’s voice.

  13. Tabs
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 16:14:18

    I really enjoyed The Bride Wore Scarlet. Strong heroine, secret society, psychic powers…

    At that price, I replaced my physical copy.

  14. MD
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 17:13:42

    I liked “Jonathan Strange”, but for me it seems strange to call it “a fantasy”. It’s about as close to literary fiction as anything I ever read. I still enjoyed it, and the footnotes were very much part of the charm. I think I didn’t necessarily expect a clear good ending, given that it felt more like “serious literature” rather than entertainment per se.

  15. leslie
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 17:20:31

    I tried several times to read Jonathan Strange, but I could never get in to it. My husband hated the bulk and the footnotes, but loved the story. He also felt that the book needed a firmer hand with the editing.

    Liz Carlyle is hit and miss with me, I didn’t care for TBWS, but I have enjoyed some of her earlier books.

  16. Kate K.F.
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 22:51:20

    I loved Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it. Though I’m not sure how well it would work in ebook form. Its one of those books for me that is very tied to the physical weight of it. I first read it while going on a long overseas flight so had to leave my copy there. Then bought another one in the US, my mom currently has my copy as I want her to read it. Its one of those books that just works for me but I agree with others that might not work for everyone. I’m also reminded that I really should buy myself another copy as its one I periodically reread.

    The writing is dense, very much of its era and the story has a strange pacing to it, but if you love Austen, Sayers, Pratchett and de Lint then I think you’ll enjoy it. One way to test out if you do is to see if you can find any of Clarke’s short stories because her style is distinctive. The Ladies of Grace Adieu is a book of her short stories but she’s had stories appear in a number of anthologies.

  17. Jessa Slade
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 22:55:14

    I’m with most everybody else on Jonathan Strange. I had several false starts with it, finally read it and was glad I did. But it felt a little like one of those books that I was glad I read more because I was determined to read it than that I necessarily enjoyed reading it.

  18. Jane
    Dec 16, 2012 @ 20:57:16

    Thanks for all the advice. I went ahead and bought it. I don’t think that Austen etc are storytellers that Ned likes but based on the comments, I figured that I would be foolish to pass it up.

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