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review 2018-02-11 02:09
Men of the Cross (Battle Scars #1) - DNF @ 32%
Men of the Cross (Battle Scars Book 1) - Charlene Newcomb

So Stephan knows a bloke named Robin, and on the road they meet and befriend a couple of pickpockets with hearts of gold named Allan and Little John. Hmmmm... I wonder where this is going. Look, if you want to write a Robin Hood retelling, then do that. Don't make them side characters. It's just distracting. And really, after reading The Wode series by J Tullos Hennig, there's just no way this can come close to that series. This really just made me want to reread The Wode instead.

 

I'm by no means an expert of this time period, so I didn't know the battle of Messina was recounted inaccurately or that King Richard admired Saladin, or any other number of things that others have noted are poorly researched. However, it did feel off that Henry and Stephan and Robin all treat Richard like just another dude bro, and that Henry and Stephan are such experts at a longbow when that was rather a rarity back then. 

 

I did like the banter between Henry and Stephan, and I could buy that they'd befriend a couple of wayward pickpockets once they proved they wouldn't rob them blind in the middle of the night. There's a lot of promise here, but the writing wasn't particularly gripping and it lacked detail. Even the action scenes were kind of boring me. 

 

Time to move on!

 

(Side note: The KU selection has not been particularly promising so far. So many DNFs.)

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review 2017-12-14 04:23
Summerwode (The Wode #4)
Summerwode (The Wode) - J. Tullos Hennig

Gah! Cliffhanger! NOOOOOOO! And I have no idea how long I'll have to wait for the next one. Going by the time between previous installments, two years maybe? :( Unless she pulls a George R.R. Martin or Diana Gabaldon, then maybe ten years? :P Thankfully, I don't see her doing that.

 

 

This picks up a few months after the end of Winterwode. Gamelyn is still entrenched in the Templars, having to suppress himself again and letting alter-id Guy de Gisbourne take over the reins for him, with all the complications that comes with. Robyn's once again has no idea what's up with Gamelyn because Guy's not a man to share his plans, and Marion's just trying to hold her little family together. Of course, forces are in movement that are determined to see Robyn's little band of merry men ended one way or another, and whether foe or potential friend and ally, playing the game could end their way of life for good or ill.

 

There are things here that would normally drive me crazy, except that it's so perfectly in character that there really is no other way it could've gone down. There's no manipulation of characters of OOC moments to force plot points, like other authors would depend on. We've come to know these characters over three previous books, and while my hand itched to smack Gamelyn upside the head several times - and Will and occasionally Robyn - it was clear and understandable why everyone behaved the way they did.

 

This was as strongly written as ever, and it's also well edited despite this being DSP. My one complaint is that it felt a tad overlong. In particular, that whole cliffhanger ending, while certainly compelling, felt like it was resetting the board too much. There was already a threat there hanging in the shadows to give an ominous ending to the book while the characters still got to enjoy life for a little bit, so the last few chapters really could've been held off to kick off the next book with a bang, at least in my opinion. 

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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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