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What Jayne is reading/watching in mid August

My entries for this feature might end up being sporadic as I often don’t know what I’m going to read next until I eye my TBR print stacks or flip through my menu screens on my ereader. I’m just as spontaneous in my movie watching, too. And once I start a book, the odds are I will either finish it or drop it early so I usually don’t have too many DNF reviews. With that in mind here goes.

Powder and Patch, Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer – see the reviews already posted.

Unnatural Fire by Fidelis Morgan – this is a book I bought after seeing it raved about in the Bas Bleu catalogue. The first in a mystery series set in post Glorious Revolution England (1690s), it features down on her luck noblewoman Countess Ashby de la Zouche and a former servant of hers who solve crimes. It’s warts and all London with all its questionable hygiene and Fleet Street Prison. I started reading this a few weeks ago and put it down for some reason. Maybe the imaginary smells were getting to me but I do plan to pick it up again.

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

Spellcast by Barbara Ashford – this is from a box of advanced reading copies that Jane sent me. Maggie lost her job in NYC and after her ceiling fell in on her, she decided to sublet her apartment for the summer then just drive and see where she ends up. The end up spot is a small town in Vermont and to top it off, suddenly she finds herself auditioning for a summer stock group. The tone is hilarious but something made me flip to the end to see if I’d get a HEA. The answer is unclear but due to the fact that I enjoyed Ashford’s writing style, I plan to give this one another go too.

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

A Rather Remarkable Homecoming by C.A. Belmond – the fourth entry in this series about a “by marriage” cousins (no blood relation) who inherited some lucre, made some more then fell in love and got married, it picks up with Penny and Jeremy arriving home from their honeymoon to find a new mystery/sleuthing mission awaiting them. Though not as good as books 1 & 3, I still whipped through it and liked it but didn’t love it. Full review will be done.

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

Yankee Doodle Dixie by Lisa Patton – the sequel to Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’Easter it follows Leelee Satterfield back to her hometown of Memphis, TN. At loose ends after selling the Inn she’d run in Vermont, Leelee finds that her new life in Memphis isn’t quite the return to Home Sweet Home that she thought it would be. It’s the same breezy style as before and I enjoyed seeing Leelee and her 3 best friends again but felt I was reading a rerun of book one but with more heat and humidity. Full review will be done.

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

Space Slugs by Frances Pauli – After our recent fun discussion about penguin shapeshifters, I remembered that I had this ebook arc loaded on my ereader and decided, “WTF why not?” I’ve barely begun it and don’t think that the space slug will be the heroine (at least I think it’s a female) of the romance but it’s early days yet.

Goodreads | Amazon |  nook

After that I have a few books in mind I might try next including The King’s Courtesan by Judith James because I liked the first book in the series and Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne because a friend of mine tried and like it.


Hula Girls – it’s 1965 in northern Japan, and the mine that supports most of the town is shutting down. The company plans to develop a “Hawaiian” resort and a number of young women apply to be hula dancers there. Facing criticism from their friends and family, can they stick with it and thereby have jobs or will they cave to public pressure? This defines “heartwarming” though that also applies to “predictable.” I could tell when each phase of the movie arrived and pinpoint what would come next. It’s cute but never rises much above that level. Why watch it? It’s got some great hula dancing once the women really get going.

Yojimbo – This is the second Kurosawa film I’ve tried and as I told my kitty when we started watching it, Kurosawa had one more chance to win me over after the DNF of “The Hidden Fortress.” Win me he did with the story of an “at large” samurai in 1850s Japan who comes to a small town being torn apart by rival gangsters. Remade many times by Western directors, it’s got humor, drama, greed, violence and some amazing sword fighting plus one fancy Dan who prances around with a pistol. After this one, I’m ready to try more of his films.

Random Harvest – Greer Garson and Ronald Colman meet in post WWI England, fall in love, marry then are separated by – oh, I’m not sure – lotsa years of every melodrama known to man before finally! reaching their HEA. It’s finely acted and not overplayed melodrama in tasteful English fashion but way too much “piled on piled on” for me. Everything but the kitchen sink sagas have never been my thing but I can see how, if they are your thing, this would be very satisfying at the end.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Jia
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 10:06:27

    Oh man, I love Yojimbo! That’s one of my favorite movies. You might want to give Sanjuro a try because that’s the sequel.

  2. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 10:10:55

    @Jia: I was surprised at the amount of humor in it but am considering actually buying a copy for my DVD colelction. And I’ve already got Sanjuro added to my Netflix queue. Am excited!

  3. jody
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 10:23:39

    Hester Browne deserves more attention on this side of the Pond. The Finishing Touches was delightful.

  4. Keishon
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 10:26:59

    Unnatural Fire by Fidelis Morgan <—that one sounds interesting. Hope you review it.

  5. Amy Kathryn
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 10:38:47

    I have the first two Belmonds sitting by my reading chair.

    I did like the dancing in Hula Girls but you are correct that it was somewhat predictable. I may take Random Harvest off my queue because I don’t like the sound of the pile on. I recently enjoyed watching Queen to Play out of France via Netflix about a maid discovering chess.

  6. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 10:55:14

    @jody: I’ve been assured that this book doesn’t have any faux Scottish brogue in it so I have high hopes for it.

  7. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 10:57:07

    @Keishon: The two heroines – one who is considerably older – are a plus for me. And I love the Countess’s name. Ashby de la Zouche.

  8. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 11:05:06

    @Amy Kathryn: Name a melodrama and it’s probably in Random Harvest. The same author who wrote “Lost Horizon” wrote the book on which the movie is based and I have the feeling that it was all lovingly detailed there while much of what happens to Garson as she attempts to find her “used to have amnesia when he met her but got his old memory back while forgetting her at the same time” husband Coleman is skipped over and only briefly mentioned as an after thought.

    I’d love to know what you think of the first Belmond book “A Rather Lovely Inheritance.”

  9. Susanna Kearsley
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 13:42:21

    Jayne, the book of Random Harvest is quite lovely. One of my favourites. All very underplayed, in that classic English way, and more emotionally moving because of it. I think you’d like it better than the film.

    Speaking of films, did you ever get a chance to watch The Snow Walker? I was flying home from London last weekend and one of the choices for the inboard entertainment was the miniseries of The Kennedys, which got me thinking of Barry Pepper, which got me thinking of The Snow Walker, which reminded me I’d never asked you whether you had seen it…

  10. Jane
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 14:10:34

    I’m so glad you posted your list, jayne. It’s so eclectic (which is why your box of books is so full of strange things from me).

  11. Sunita
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 14:36:52

    @Susanna Kearsley: I agree with you (big surprise) on the book being much better, although I enjoyed the movie as well. I can watch almost anything Coleman & Garson are in, so together was an extra bonus despite the melodrama.

    I love this list! And I am so glad you are coming around on Kurosawa. Otherwise we would have to Have A Talk. :-)

  12. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 14:50:50

    @Susanna Kearsley: No, I haven’t watched Snow Walker yet but it is in my Netflix queue. Thanks for the reminder and I will get to it one day.

  13. MaryK
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 16:29:49

    I need to go read your Belmond reviews. I like mysteries with romantically involved detectives. Have you read the Kerry Greenwood series, the one about the baker(?)? I keep meaning to get it but my TBR pile is sooo huge as it is.

    Can I suggest a division between the book and movie sections of your post? I was very confused for a minute there. :)

  14. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 18:00:25

    @MaryK: No I haven’t read the Greenwood books but I’ll go check them out at Amazon.

    A division is a good idea and one I should have thought of. Thanks.

  15. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 18:01:31

    @Jane: LOL, yeah, I have a feeling I get a lot of the bits and bobs.

  16. Jayne
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 18:08:57

    @Sunita: I have Sanjura and Seven Samurai in my Netflix queue now. I read at Roger Ebert’s site that the commentary for Samurai will help me understand Kurosawa’s films better so I’ll probably watch it first.

  17. MaryK
    Aug 24, 2011 @ 21:02:35

    @Jayne: Hmm. My comment made it sound like the Greenwood books have romantically involved detectives which I don’t know to be true since I haven’t read them. For some reason your description of the Belmond book reminded me that I’ve been meaning to read the Greenwood books, and I thought I’d see if you’d read them.

  18. Marguerite Kaye
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 00:53:30

    I loved Unnatural Fire, it was, as you say, warts and all, but it was really funny, totally camp, and bizarrely endearing. Plus, it’s an era that’s not often tackled in books of any sort.

  19. Mickie T
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 04:52:35

    I read/skimmed Spellcast. It would have been a fine paranormal-tinged romance, and I could definitely see it working as a mystery. As it was actually written, though, I thought it was neither fish nor fowl, and it didn’t work for me.

    Toshiro Mifune! I love his movies. Perhaps you’d like Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (Macbeth).

  20. cate
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 05:41:46

    Glad you’ve had time to scan Random Harvest…Cracking tearjerker !
    Thanks for the rec for Unnatural Fire… the heroines name made me roar with laughter as I’ve driven through Ashby De La Zouche once or twice.
    Just for that it’s gone onto my TBR stack

  21. Jayne
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 06:30:11

    @Marguerite Kaye: Have you read any further in the series? From Amazon, it sounds like there are at least 3 other books in it.

  22. Jayne
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 06:32:18

    @Mickie T: I plan to read further with Spellcast but was already getting the “neither fish nor fowl” feel for it from early on.

    Thanks for the rec on “Throne of Blood.” I’ll go look into it.

  23. Jayne
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 06:35:00

    @cate: Years ago some friends, one of whom is English, and I were discussing place names of American written English set historicals. She was bemoaning some ridiculous town name that was supposed to be in Northumberland. I asked what her favorite place name is and she immediately said “Ashby-de-la-Zouche!”

  24. cate
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 06:48:34

    @Jayne: I cannot cast stones about daft place names as I grew up in Splott !

  25. jody
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 10:14:43

    The Fidelas Morgan books are Kindle priced at $1.25–low enough to take a chance on.

  26. Danielle Monsch
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 16:58:30

    Wait… you were going to write of Kurosawa BEFORE watching Shichinin no Samurai or Rashomon?

    Be still my poor abused heart…

  27. DS
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 17:46:10

    I really enjoyed Unnatural Fire by Fidelis Morgan. I ran into it on Audible– doesn’t seem to be there any more– where it was read very entertainingly by the author herself. I didn’t realize that there was a third and fourth book in the series– going to buy them now.

    I also ended up buying two unrelated titles,
    The Murder Quadrille and My Dark Rosaleen.Couldn’t resist at $1.25 each.

  28. Jayne
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 20:10:24

    @Danielle Monsch: I admit I plunged into Kurosawa movies without much direction. I’ve heard of his most famous ones but “The Hidden Fortress” looked to be fun so I tried that. Ugh. A screetching princess and two unfunny buffoons made for a bad and quickly ended watching experience. Now after reading reviews of that movie, I see I made a serious mistake in choosing it to watch first.

    So then I picked Yojimbo and enjoyed every minute of it. But no, I wasn’t going to write a review of it since it doesn’t have either a romance or a bromance.

  29. Marguerite Kaye
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 01:58:35

    Jayne, I think I’ve read all of Fidelis Morgan’s books in that series and I’ve loved them. There are a few continuity threads running through them, but it doesn’t matter if you read them out of order. As I said, I thought they were funny, bawdy and totally different.

  30. Jayne
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 03:38:12

    @Marguerite Kaye: Bawdy. Yes to very bawdy! And it’s good to know about the “reading in order or not” thing as I can get anal about a series that way.

  31. JL
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 08:32:38

    @Jayne: I hope you post of review of Spellcast. I’m reading it right now and was feeling bummed that I seemed to be the only person in the world it wasn’t completely working for. I would love to hear your take on it.

  32. MaryK
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 09:34:51

    OT: Jayne, have you seen Pitch Black with Vin Diesel? It’s not romantic but it ties in really well with the hero/anti-hero post.

  33. Jayne
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 09:55:34

    @MaryK: I have to admit to not being a Vin Diesel fan but this looks like it could be good. And, bonus poinst!, it’s available for Netflix streaming too.

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