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review 2017-11-22 09:51
Dark Carnival
Dark Carnival - Nancy K. Duplechain

by Nancy K. Duplechain

 

Fantasy meets voodoo in New Orleans. Leigh Benoit comes from a family of paladins, people with special abilities who heal the sick and keep dark forces at bay. She is sent to New Orleans for training as a Traiteur, a healer, but she is also caught up in a quest to find a cursed antique mask as time for Mardi Grau draws near.

 

I found this an interesting alternative Fantasy. The paladins have individual 'gifts' in a way that reminded me of X-men, though more subtle. Leigh meets some of her own kind who are friendly and some who are not so friendly, but they have a common quest to stop dark forces. Apart from being followed by a "cute guy" (oh gee, where do you suppose THAT will go?) the story has a lot of original elements that make it a fascinating read.

 

Leigh is likable and no wiser than her nemesis about why she was sent for training when adequate training for what she is meant to do was available at home. There is some other purpose for why she needed to come to New Orleans, which we learn eventually.

 

For the most part, this book really held my attention. There were a couple of places where I thought Leigh and her companions were just a little too lucky in a battle or some really horrific imagery fizzled into nothing, but most of it moved the story along and kept me interested in Leigh's eventual fate.

 

This is one of those gems I sometimes find in the free slush pile, a book I've really enjoyed reading. There is a series, but the book stands alone very well. Some fascinating ideas and alternative ways of using Biblical entities as characters.

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review 2017-10-01 20:32
Great magical world with dark undertones
Caraval - Stephanie G. Garber

What I loved the most about the book was the setting of Caraval. It’s so beautifully descriptive it feels like a magical place. You’re taken back to the feeling when you were a wee little one and you’re in Disneyland for the first time in your life. It’s that magical feel good feeling that comes back to you when you’re reading the book. At the same time you know things aren’t what they seem and there’s some dark undertones to Caraval. It’s hard not to get swept away (as they have warned you) because everything seems so real and fun. I loved the plot throughout the book. Like Scarlett, you had doubts as to whether things were real or not. By the time you finished the novel you were still doubting what was real and what wasn’t. Scarlett was at times frustrating and irritating. She hesitated at the wrong times and didn’t listen to anyone when she really needed to. Argh. You wanted to jump in and drag her to point her to the right direction. I didn’t really see her well with Julian because I really saw Julian as more of a means to an end because he guided her throughout the game. However I have to admit, I liked it when he called her ‘Crimson’ it suited his personality at the time (I hope he doesn’t stop calling her that, it adds more to their characters.) The last few pages of the novel though. Wow. You’re blown away and you’ll have your heart wrenched and torn out of your chest and then it’s put back in. Yet it doesn’t feel the same anymore and you’re left with more questions and wanting more. OH MY GOD I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE SECOND BOOK! I NEED ANSWERS! Greatly recommended. Immerse yourself into the world and enjoy. You’ll probably get carried away like I did. Get ready for some good twists that are gut wrenching. You’re not left the same after reading it.

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review 2017-09-17 14:57
Magic Realism Square
Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter

- A story about stories and illusion.



Magic and reading have something in common. It’s that thin wedge that question of what is real and what is fantasy. We know that the magician is doing some trick, but we just can’t get it, can’t figure it out. With books, good ones at least, the trick is the writing taking you someplace else. Books aren’t the only thing that can do this – a good movie, painting, music. 
It’s this line between reality and fantasy that Carter explores in this novel about a circus performer who may actually have real wings. At first glance it seems as if Fevvers is the only character with this problem, but every character in the book comes into contact with this question. Even the tigers, which may or may not really be jealous lovers.
In many ways, this is the human condition, the search for ourselves. Is our work face our real face? It might not be the wings that Fevvers has, but the question of reality and fantasy is one we change and fight in some way every day

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text 2017-09-16 11:02
Finished Amateur Sleuth Square: I've read 100%.
A Spark of Justice - J.D. Hawkins

My only re-read this year and my previous review stands.

 

This is like a guilt-free trip to the circus and the big cats are supporting characters and add some of the humor. The circus people messing with the investigator makes it fun, though there are some tense moments.

 

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text 2017-09-10 11:01
Amateur Sleuth Square
A Spark of Justice - J.D. Hawkins

This is my only re-read this year.

 

 i didn't read it for Bingo, but did read it last March. My review is here: http://loram.booklikes.com/post/1541740/a-spark-of-justice

 

It's a fun book and I've wanted to read it again, so when I saw amateur sleuth as one of the categories I thought of it right away.

 

The protagonist is an insurance investigator who is just supposed to establish whether the death of a lion tamer was an unfortunate accident or foul play, but the circus people start messing with him and a few things happen that look like someone is out to kill him, so he gets in a lot deeper than his job should entail.

 

I enjoyed the focus on the big cats. While I don't condone keeping them the way circuses historically have done, this is an opportunity to step into a fantasy circus world where the cats are better cared for. I've got a soft spot for the panther, though the lion adds the most humour.

 

Anyway, looking forward to starting this one again later today.

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