Monday, May 30, 2011

Mini Reviews - The Making of a Rogue, French Milk and Charleston Mysteries

I don't feel like writing elaborate reviews of the following three books, so I'm going with mini reviews. You'll be amazed at my brevity, if you're a frequent visitor.

The Making of a Rogue by Shana Galen was originally slated for release in April of 2011. Instead, it won't hit the shelves till February of 2012 and the title will be different, although, "ROGUE will still be in there," according to the author. When I found out about the delayed release, I was disappointed because I loved the first two books in this series and I was eager to read my ARC. I mentioned that to Shana and she said, "Go ahead and read it, Nancy." After a couple months of thinking I should wait, the book hollered at me and I gave in, this weekend.

The former Marquis de Valere thought he was the only survivor of an aristocratic family whose estate was burned during the French Revolution. After escaping with a faithful servant, he became a sailor and is now a privateer working for Spain under the assumed name Captain Cutlass. While Cutlass is in port, a young woman named Raeven -- who has been raised on ships helmed by her father, an Admiral in the British Royal Navy -- shows up bent on revenge over the fiance who was killed in a battle with Cutlass' ship. When he finds out she's a woman, he is totally turned on. And, she tries to harbor ill will but doesn't succeed. The two have many adventures on land and sea as they continue to cross paths and their attraction grows. With love comes danger when Raeven must stay onboard Cutlass' ship to fight with his sworn enemy while her father pursues the rogue whom he assumes has taken his daughter's innocence.

There's a lot of sex in this particular installment, but I was in the mood for adventure and romance, so I enjoyed The Making of a Rogue immensely, in spite of my distaste for graphic sex. Shana Galen's next book, Lord and Lady Spy, is due to be released in September of 2011 and I can't wait. I love the way she blends action, adventure and romance.

French Milk by Lucy Knisley is a graphic memoir, mostly illustrations with a smattering of photographs. Knisley spent over a month in Paris with her mother, when she was 22 years old, to celebrate her mother's 50th birthday, and the memoir is her account of her time in Paris in the form of a graphic novel.

Lucy headed to Paris sporting a new Nikon camera, her drawing materials and an unattractive attitude. Andi thought French Milk was "charming" and I read a brief review in which it was referred to as "honest". I found French Milk a little on the dull and annoying side, but I do believe the author manages to give her readers a decent sense of place. I would personally recommend Paris Was Ours over French Milk to those who are interested in reading about Paris, but French Milk is more of a quick-bite travelogue and Paris Was Ours is told from the perspective of a number of writers who have lived in Paris (sometimes in writings that may go over the head of a reader who knows little about France), so there's quite a difference.

The two things I loved about the book: the coat Lucy bought and the photographs speckled throughout. I like the illustrations, as well; the photographs are honestly not anything special. I just like the added dimension photographs give to a memoir. It's a personal preference. The thing I disliked most: references to her lover and some rather offensive illustrations of art (her favorite painting is, in my opinion, pretty disgusting), along with a bit of whining at the beginning of the book, although she does relax and enjoy herself more as time passes.

Charleston Mysteries: Ghostly Haunts in the Holy City by Cathy Pickens is part tour guide, part history. Divided into two sections, the first part is a walking tour of locations in the city that are said to be haunted and the stories behind the hauntings. Some are rather vague (as in, "This place may be haunted by Dude #1, but Dude #2 is another possibility"), some very specific. A small tour map marks the path and notes the locations of each haunted site.

The second book about Charleston, South Carolina, that I've finished since returning from Charleston, I found Charleston Mysteries very well-written and enlightening. Care and I did quite a bit of walking around the entire area in which the walking tour takes place and saw most of the places that are mentioned. In some cases, we didn't know the story behind a building or alley but were curious about certain signs or markings and I was thrilled to learn about the stories behind those mysterious markings. I'll definitely take this book with me on return trips.

The history portion of Charleston Mysteries is divided into topics such as "The King's Favor","Nature's Wrath: Storms Past and Present", "The Groaning Earth", and "Saving the Past". Charleston Mysteries is a very small book so nothing is treated with great depth but the ghost stories are satisfying and history chapters provide a nice overview of the city's fascinating past.

I've just finished reading Fire Season by Philip Connors, today, and I'm in the midst of moving books from one room to another, again, so I haven't settled on my next reads. I dropped two from my sidebar because I haven't touched them in over a week. I may continue to read both, but they'll stay out of the sidebar until I make significant progress.

What are you reading, today?

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I enjoyed French Milk, but have to admit that in the 2 years we lived in France, we never saw the fabulous French milk she talked about.

  2. Kathy,

    Well, that's interesting! I just assumed milk must be better in Europe because my son used to have a friend (from a military family - he wasn't around long) whose family spent a lot of time in Germany and he made a similar comment. He waxed on about the wonders of German chocolate and said his mother had chocolate recipes but you can't make decent chocolate in the U.S. because the milk is terrible.

  3. French Milk has been on my list for such a long time, but I recently have heard that it's sort of a tepid read and now I am not sure that it's so urgent that I read it. I am planning on reading Paris Was Ours, and I think that might just supplant French Milk for awhile. Great mini-reviews on these books. I love this format!

  4. Zibilee,

    I waited a long time to get a copy of French Milk via PaperbackSwap because I've read so many gushy reviews of it. Quite a lot of people like it. It's just not for me. There were some little things I disliked about Paris Was Ours, too. It could have used a glossary of French terms, for example. But I thought it was a pretty terrific way to read about Paris.


  5. Oh no, I'm sorry you didn't like French Milk too much. I liked it a lot but I think what I liked about it was that it was a bit of a mish-mash. Pictures, drawings, etc. That just really worked for me. Anyway, I need to do some mini-reviews or I'll never get to talking about any of the books I've read either! :)

  6. Well, it sounds like French Milk wasn't a hit, but I totally agree that the photos gave it some dimension. It came across as scrapbooky to me thanks to that bit.

  7. Iliana,

    I did like the mish-mashiness of it, but it just wasn't a favorite. I guess my thoughts were very similar to her boyfriend's comment that she was given a wonderful opportunity and should quit complaining. Of course, she eventually did, but I tend to get turned off quickly by a lot of whining. That's probably a, "Takes one to know one thing." I can be pretty whiny, myself.

    It was so nice to knock three books off the review list at once. I highly recommend minis!


    I did like the way she blended in the photos. It didn't even matter that they were not terrific pictures - just that they added some depth to the sense of place, I guess. So . . . not a favorite but there were things I liked about it. I don't regret reading it, but I wouldn't reread.

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  9. Hi! I can't stop thinking abt that crypt where the girl wasn't really dead! was it in the book? (am on the iPad where I don't seem to get blogger mad at me as much for trying to post.)

  10. I finally posted a blog about Charleston and some of the ghosts that haunted.

    Today? I'm reading Water for Elephants. I know, I'm behind by a year but today is my today to read.

  11. Care,

    Nope, the crypt wasn't in there but Poogan's Porch and the story of the woman who haunts the restaurant were. And, the dueling alley. And, the pirate alley we kept wondering about. It's a little bitty book but a really good one.

    Wahoo for iPads!


    I just peeked at your post. I love that view of the courtyard! Will comment in a bit. 6:30 is way too early for me, but I had to feed Kiddo, who has a 7:00 class.

    I haven't read Water for Elephants. It's one of those books that everyone else has read but which doesn't interest me. I hope you enjoy it!

  12. Susy,

    I'll write to you. I'm not currently accepting review books but I remember what a nice, quick read So Long Status Quo was, so I might make an exception. :)

  13. I read French Milk last year (but never reviewed it) and I liked it but didn't love it. It was just didn't draw me in like I thought that it would. I just finished reading The Making of a Duchess, and I loved it so I'm excited to see that there are more books in this series coming out!

  14. Samantha,

    I don't regret reading French Milk, but it definitely was not as interesting as I expected. The Making of a Duchess was wonderful. I guess The Making of a Rogue will be the last in the series, since there were only three brothers to write about. All were great books. I can't wait till Shana Galen's next book comes out!

  15. I hate to admit that the pirate tale sounds entertaining.

    I am intrigued by the French milk discussion. We have some pretty good milk out here, but only from our happy California cows.

  16. Carrie,

    Ha! 'Bout time you admitted interest in a romance. You should start at the beginning of the series, though. They're all great.

    Perhaps the key to good milk is happy (and probably well-fed) cows. Hmm. This makes me suddenly long to travel to California, but . . . nah. I'll get over it quickly enough.

  17. I loved the idea of Shana Galen's trilogy, but wasn't so keen on the execution of the first book. Loved the hero. Couldn't stand the heroine. Having said that, Jenny has just sent me the second one so when I have a few hours free I might give it a go.

  18. Marg,

    Really? I absolutely loved the first book! I think, though, that it was mostly because I was so stunned by the blend of action and adventure with romance. I was totally swept away. I hope you enjoy the second one. It's quite different from the first.

  19. I've heard very mixed reviews of French Milk -- many in the same vein as yours. Too bad because I was looking forward to reading it (although when I flipped through it at Powell's Books, it didn't grab me enough to incite me to buy it).

    I must admit I'm curious to know what her favourite painting was!

  20. Lucy's favorite painting is Courbet's "L'Origine du Monde" ("The Origin of the World") and I have a feeling it was a favorite more due to the painting's social impact and what it signified for modern art rather than its aesthetics.

    What amazed me about French Milk was the parallels between our experiences. I spent a month in Paris not too long before Lucy was there - we even saw the same movie in theaters - and reading her account evoked so many sights and tastes from my time there. I think those who have travelled or studied in Paris will appreciate French Milk for nostalgic reasons.


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