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review 2017-10-13 02:57
Winterwode (The Wode #3)
Winterwode (The Wode) - J. Tullos Hennig

This series continues to impress. Just to be upfront - this series isn't a romance. Yes, there's a love story but the focus is really on Robyn and Marion's fight against the various forces that would see an end to their pagan way of life. Completing the trifecta is Gamelyn, Summer lord to Robyn's Winter. While Robyn's quest is pretty straightforward, the complications come from Gamelyn's inner turmoil and doubts and Marion's continued recovery from her ordeals in the previous book. They're both trying to find their footing, and Robyn's just trying to keep everyone together, after having lost them before. 

 

I did miss having narration, since the narrator for the first two books is so great. He had a way of reading the passive voice structure of some of the sections and sentences that still gave them energy. It took some time getting used to it, but once I did the story moved along flawlessly. 

 

This is a bridge book to the next trilogy of books in the series, but there's plenty here to keep my interested, and it does have a beginning, middle, end. It wouldn't stand on its own though, as you really do have to have read the first two books first, and while there's no cliffhanger per se, it's obviously a "to be continued" kind of ending. 

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review 2017-09-14 03:22
Shirewode (The Wode #2) (Audiobook)
Shirewode (The Wode Book 2) - J. Tullos Hennig

 

Now this is more like it. I'm endlessly fascinated by this series and what the author has envisioned for these characters, and it has me wanting to read the original Robin Hood tales or maybe even suffer through Kevin Costner's lack-of-accent again. I want to know which characters - aside from the main, well-known ones - are part of the original tales and which ones are original characters to these stories, if any are. I'm also enjoying trying to figure out which characters will end up being who - as for instance, Friar Tuck. :D

 

I'm also pleased with how things turned out with Robyn and Gamelyn. They both had long, arduous - and separate - journeys to go on in this book in order to come back together again, so getting to see them grow up, as it were, away from each other was pretty neat. I especially like that Marion also gets her own story here, though I thought it took a little too long to come back around to her after the prologue. Still, her "reintroduction" was well-done, and Ms. Henning keeps all these threads well-balanced. It's a complicated, complex story, mixing history (The Crusades), fantasy (the old gods), and legends of our own times (the Knight Templar, and of course Robin Hood himself). And since this wasn't about two boys falling in love, but two men learning to trust again, there was much less sex and a lot more plot, and when there was sex it was plot-relevant and character-driven.

 

Ross Pendleton again narrates this one and does a stellar job. The only thing that can be rather confusing - until you realize what's going on - is the transitions between what's going on in the real world and what's going on in the otherworld or when the characters are having dreams or visions. In the books, these sections are italicized, but there's just no easy way to make that kind of distinction in audio format without using things like echo settings or, IDK, chimes to mark the beginning and ending of each section. Frankly, I'd rather just be confused until I figure it out than have to put with that nonsense. ;-)

 

PS: For those only listening to the audiobooks - you're missing the little gap-fillers, or "Solus", at the end of each book. They're not very long and you don't miss anything vital by not reading them, but they do provide some extra character insights and whatnot. 

 

Since it's been over three years since this audiobook came out, and two years since book 3 was released, I'm sadly not holding my breath that the last two books will be released in audio any time soon, so I'll be reading those my own self.

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review 2017-02-06 17:49
The Primrose Way by Jackie French Koller

In The Primrose Way by Jackie French Koller we find a detailed account of the first years of settlement in the Boston colony and its environs. Beginning in 1633, we find Rebekah onboard a ship from England just as they sight the land surrounding Massachusetts Bay. Rebekah is coming to join her father, an elder in the church. She is excited to reach the colony yet after leaving the comfort of a cozy home with servants she is somewhat taken aback at the conditions she finds in Boston. Things go downhill once more when she leaves the relatively civilized Boston for the new settlement of Agawam at the edge of the wilderness. Throughout the story Rebekah will deal with betrayal, loss, and love. But will she opt to return to England and the chance to be a bride or choose to remain in the colony and seek her true love?

 

The Primrose Way is a clever tapestry of fact and fiction that is skillfully woven by the author. Great detail into the everyday existence of both white settlers and Native Americans gives the reader a true picture of what life was like in the early 17th century. Easy reading that will move you through the story at a rapid pace but you'll want to slow down and savor each finely drawn scene. Don't gloss over the details - they add so much to the story. And while the story is placed in early America the characters deal with problems that are relevant today.

 

This book includes a glossary of Native American terms as well as a detailed bibliography for further reading. Teachers and students alike will enjoy The Primrose Way not only for its story but for the lessons it teaches. Highly recommended.

 

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review 2016-06-28 06:02
Crow Hollow (Audiobook)
Crow Hollow - Michael Wallace,Rosemary Benson

Meh. I can tell a lot of research went into this one, and it was honest for the time period as far as the characters' views on Puritans versus Quakers versus Native Americans versus everyone who isn't exactly like them. The mystery part was fairly well done. The romance part felt tacked on just to get a sex scene that felt completely out of place and out of character. I just wasn't buying that part; it felt like a contemporary romance trying to cram itself inside a historical mystery.

 

The narrator does a fairly decent job with the material and was easy to listen to and follow along, though her overall tone and reading pace (and I was listening at 1.25 times) was kind of sedate. I don't know if that added to the overall meh-ness or not, but it certainly didn't help.

 

This is probably one of the better Amazon Kindle First books I've read, which sadly isn't saying much.

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text 2015-01-29 19:48
Reading in Progress: The World of Caffeine by Weinberg and Bealer - Coffee Snark!
The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug - Bennett Alan Weinberg,Bonnie K. Bealer

I am always on the lookout for historic snark. Mainly because every now and then someone will write something passionate online, full of despair over people who aren't being polite and how this is ruining our society - something like that. After all, society has survived snark in the past, and the squabbling and the drama. It makes me smile when people think there was a golden era of politeness, when people weren't...well, people. So I enjoy reading about the snark of ages past and wondering how people find this so easy to forget.

 

For instance! In the 1700s in London they didn't have blogs, but there was the same desire to write about someone or something that was annoying. What did the literate folk do? They wrote snarky broadsides or pamphlets - which could contain essays, poems, tavern songs,etc. (Also see street literature.) These were printed out and distributed. Not for money - this was not about profit (gentlemen don't dirty their hands with that) - only to get it and the (hopefully) witty writing talked about. The subject of your annoyance could get in a huff and write a response and then distribute broadsides of his own. You could go after anyone in writing - but of course, there was always the possibility you'd get called out for a duel or even jail if you were spouting anything hinting treason. But a lot of the snark was of a personal, gossipy nature for the usual human reasons.

 

Sometimes a snark war would break out in a newspaper's/periodical's letters section. With one person starting it, then the target defending himself (or a good friend stepping in as author) in a response letter, and so on. Afterwards, if the topic was really juicy or you just didn't want anyone to forget the subject of the snark or perhaps how great you were in your snarky writing, you could print up the whole series of letters as a book - which again, you'd not sell, but hand around to friends. Who might eventually see to it that the subject of the snark would get a copy too. Thus perhaps re-starting the snark war. (Randomly I have no idea if snark war is a real phrase I've previously read or not.)

 

This snark writing was usually done by someone with money, because otherwise you'd want to sell your writing. Lots of class issues in there of course, with the assumption that selling your work meant you weren't a worthy author or scholar. (Again, the whole "gentleman and truly educated people don't work" thing.) If you couldn't write in a witty manner? You could have a friend write for you - and sometimes they'd go ahead and do this without asking you. Surprise! Everyone's talking about you because I just wrote an amusing defense for something you'd not heard you'd been snarked over!

 

Now I'm not saying all this is particularly good - I am saying this is pretty much what goes on here and there online now. Not a vast amount has changed this way - except perhaps the extremes. (Though remember, duels. Death threats and writing were always there - go read up on Mark Twain's newspaper editing days.) Even if the writing didn't use your name there were loads of clues in the text so that everyone knew who the author was snarking on. (It helped that this mostly went on in a fairly small group of aristocrats and politicians, and their friends.)

 

So with that in mind - I'm actually bringing the topic around to this book! So when the coffeehouse became wildly popular in the UK of the late 1660s and 1700s, not everyone was a fan. Men gathered in coffeehouses for hours, reading newspapers and discussing politics, literature, etc. Tavern keepers didn't like the competition and those in power didn't like the idea of people criticizing politics.

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