About Books

Books I’m Excited About

I’ve been writing so much lately that I haven’t had nearly enough time to read, which is terrible because there are so many books I’m desperate to get my hands on. I thought I’d share some of them with you, so that you can get excited about them too. Some are new releases but some aren’t. The book covers are also links, so just click if you want to know more about any of them. The list includes romance (contemporary and historical) and non-fiction because that’s what I happen to be in the mood for at the moment.

Contemporary Romance

There’s a couple of reasons I’m looking forward to this one. First, I loved (I mean LOVED) the previous book in the series Untouchable. Second, the heroine of That Kind of Guy is forty. Forty! Anyone who reads romance will know how unusual that is. Slowly, “seasoned” romance is becoming more of a thing, but it’s still rare enough that I’d read this even if the reviews weren’t great (which they are!)

Helen Hoang is a fellow Bookends author and last year’s The Kiss Quotient was one of the biggest romance debuts of last year. The Bride Test is about an autistic man and his arranged bride.

I loved the first book in this series A Princess in Theory Alyssa Cole is fast becoming one of my favorite authors and fake engagement is one of my favorite tropes.

Historical Romance

This is a good one for those of you who prefer romance novels without sex scenes. Mimi Matthews has her own publishing imprint Perfectly Proper Press and “the love stories are sweet, the settings are authentic, and the history is scrupulously accurate.” I’ve read all of her previous novels, which should tell you how much I enjoy her writing and characters! This is the second book of her Parish Orphans of Devon series. The first book The Matrimonial Advertisement is wonderful and, since A Modest Independence follows secondary characters from that book, I’d recommend starting with Book One.

Non-Fiction

I know, I know. Not another book about Jack the Ripper. But it’s actually not. Hallie Rubenhold has chosen to focus instead on the five victims, dispelling many Ripper myths, including the notion that all of the women he murdered were sex workers. It’s a relief to find a book about the case that isn’t focused on fruitless attempts to identify Jack.

Let me confess, I have never read any of Ursula Le Guin’s novels, though some are on my tbr list. But I have come across tidbits from this craft manual in various books and places around the web, which were enough to convince me I wanted to read this.

As an historical romance author, I’m very interested in the sexual mores of different eras. The eight authors explore romantic and sexual customs from British history through the centuries. From the book description: “The British Stripped Bare chronicles the pleasures and perils of the flesh, sharing secrets from the days of the Anglo-Saxons, medieval courtly love traditions, diabolical Tudor escapades including those of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots, the Regency, and down to the prudish Victorian Era.”

Every now and again, I go through a true crime phase (I nearly said spree, which sounded scary), and I think I feel one coming on. I don’t know much about Lizzie Borden (beyond the forty whacks rhyme) and, given the glowing reviews , this book seems like a great place to find out more.

history

Eminent Victorians: Sarah Forbes Bonetta

Full-length photograph of Sarah Forbes Bonetta taken in 1862.
Sarah Forbes Bonetta by Camille Silvy, 1862, via Wikipedia.

People call her Queen Victoria’s black daughter, but Sarah Forbes Bonetta’s story is more complex than that. Was she, as Wikipedia would have it, a West African princess, Omoba Aina? And did Queen Victoria really adopt her?

Unfortunately, we may never know the truth about Forbes Bonetta’s origins. She was silent on that subject in her letters and never referred to any royal lineage. And, in the circles in which she sometimes moved, it would probably have rated a mention. Captain Frederick E. Forbes, the man who brought her to England when she was seven, and after whom she’s named (Bonetta was for his ship,) suspected she was from a good family. But she herself had only confused recollections of her past.

Sally (Sarah) Forbes Bonetta, aged about 13.

The Captain was visiting King Ghezo of Dahomey as part of an anti-slavery mission on behalf of the British Empire. Personally, I have my doubts as to how successful the meeting was, with regard to its stated aim, since Sarah was given to Forbes as a gift to Queen Victoria or, as Walter Dean Myers put it, “a present from the King of the blacks to the Queen of the whites.” Charming!

To be fair to the Captain (not to mention Queen Victoria,) Forbes Bonetta would have been put to death if the “gift” had been refused. Still, it’s perhaps a bit of a stretch to call this process an adoption. On a happier note, Victoria paid for Sarah’s education (the Captain called his young charge “a perfect genius”) and took a warm interest in her well-being. After an unsuccessful stint in a school in Sierra Leone, Sarah was sent to Kent where she lived with the middle-class Schoen family. It was Mrs. Schoen, not Victoria, whom Sarah addressed as “Mama” in her letters.

Having been brought up as a proper English lady, Sarah was expected to marry like one. Though initially unenthusiastic about the match, she obeyed Victoria’s wish that she marry Captain James Pinson Labulo Davies, a British naval officer originally from Sierra Leone.

A portrait of James Pinson Labulo Davies and Sara Forbes Bonetta, 1862, by Camille Silvy .

Despite this inauspicious beginning, the marriage seems to have been happy. Together they had three children, one of whom, Victoria, was named for the queen and became her goddaughter. Sadly, Sarah died of tuberculosis when she was only 37. The queen settled an annuity on her small namesake.

As for Davies, he erected a monument “IN MEMORY OF PRINCESS SARAH FORBES BONETTA.”

Giveaway

Newsletter Contest – Win a $10 Amazon Gift Card

Subscribe to the Julia Bennet newsletter now for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. To sign up, please go here.

The Julia Bennet newsletter is where I share behind the scenes info and updates. You’ll also be the first to hear about future giveaways. The emails are usually monthly but can be less frequent (when I’m on deadline) or more often (in the run-up to release day.)

All subscribers receive immediate and exclusive access to the first chapter of my forthcoming second book. The contest will be held two weeks before release day (exact date to be confirmed). 1st prize is a $10 Amazon gift card. Additionally, two randomly chosen subscribers will each receive an electronic ARC (advance reader copy) of the new book.

If you already subscribe, don’t worry. You’re already entered.

Marketing, Rants

Julia vs the Facebook Advertising Policy II: Revenge of the Facebook Ad department.

GIF of Sister Michael from Derry Girls, via tenor.

Well, hello, Sister Michael. I didn’t expect to be seeing you again so soon. For anyone who needs catching up, I blogged about my previous problems with Facebook advertising here and here. For those of you who don’t care, you should visit those posts anyway because they have more Sister Michael GIFs.

So, after the poor performance of the “Cuddling Violation” ad, I thought I’d try something different. Mr. Bennet, who is handy with a computer, decided to make me a book trailer. Here it is in all its HD glory. If you decide to give it a watch, keep an eye out for adult content because that’ll be important down-post.

Not bad for a man who’d never used video editing software before!

I’ve been sharing it across social media but, glutton for punishment that I am, I thought I’d make a Facebook ad as well. You know, not to sell books or anything (since Facebook is really bad at that) but to get more views for the trailer. Well, wouldn’t you know it? They didn’t approve our ad.

GIF of Sister Michael piercing us with her gaze, via tenor

Why? Because:

Adverts must not promote the sale or use of adult products or services.

Now I feel trolled. Adult services like escorts? Products like dildos? What are they even talking about? I need more clarification.

Adverts must not promote the sale or use of adult products or services, unless they promote family planning and contraception. Adverts for contraceptives must focus on the contraceptive features of the product and not on sexual pleasure or sexual enhancement, and must be targeted to people aged 18 years or older. “

Side note: I’m not sure what the age of consent is where you are, but in the UK , it’s 16. I sure as hell believe that family planning should be targeted at 16 years olds and, let’s face it, right or wrong, not all kids wait that long. I’d rather mine were properly educated just in case. But, whatever. That’s not Facebook’s job etc. But look at this, lest we ever forget that Facebook thinks sex is dirty:

No sexual pleasure for you! It is verboten.

But I digress. The real issue here is where does my trailer go wrong? Is it the word “seduction”? Is it the silhouettes of two adults not kissing? Or has my romance novel (which is not an erotic romance, though it does have some erotic scenes) been deemed an “adult product?” If so, that didn’t bother them last week or during any of the previous ad runs. This is a whole new reason not to let me advertise my book and I’m starting to develop a teensy weensy bit of a persecution complex.

So now comes the fun of deciding whether to appeal or edit the ad and try again.

GIF of Sister Michael drinking, via tenor

But I’m starting to feel a bit cross. And, yes, that’s British understatement.