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Search tags: Fantasy-historical-fiction
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review 2017-09-21 09:23
I loved the Irish history and legends that coursed through this book
The Shadows - Megan Chance

I went into this book with a little trepidation. Despite normally not doing so, I had managed to stumble across a few of the other Goodreads reviews before I started, and they weren't all glowing. Pacing seemed to be a major concern from a number of reviewers and lack of plot driven excitement. 

Well, I'm happy to say that while the story as a whole was slow, I didn't find it dull. When working with trilogies or series it can be difficult to get the world building and plot driver levels correct to keep your readers engaged and provide the information they need. 

Megan managed to introduce a large cast of characters, each with complex backgrounds in a way that didn't overwhelm the reader, provided teaser information and whetted the appetite for books 2 and 3. 

Complexity of characters was lacking in some of the later introduced characters, but I'm sure they'll be explored in more detail in the next book/s. The main cast had quite a lot of time to unfold their natures to the reader and do so in a manner that I don't really trust yet, but I feel that was the intention. 

It feels to me that Megan will portray a character in a certain way to start, only to have that original idea smashed by some later revelation. This is quite ingenious as it allows for character growth that the reader experiences too.

I loved the Irish history and legends that coursed through this book and long to delve further into the Sidhe and Fianna. 

The biggest blow to this book was the love triangle. I am hoping it is redeemed later in the trilogy, but I'm not holding my breath.

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review**

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review 2017-04-03 08:28
If you like sailors, this is for you
Parallels: The Black-Eyed Susan - J.A. Clement

This is a very short tale about the owner of a cargo ship 'The Black-Eyed Susan' who runs into trouble with money lenders.

There's not a great deal of characterisation to go on, but I feel like a solid story could be made about The Black-Eyed Susan and its crew. Which I'm happy to say is just what J.A. Clement has done. This is book #0.3 of the On Dark Shores series. I have already read On Dark Shores: The Lady.

The emotional impact was missing from this, but I suppose it can be very difficult to pack a punch in a few pages.

If you like your sailor stories, this might be the first taste of something you'll enjoy devouring.

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review 2016-04-08 03:20
A great mix of several fairytales and movie ideas...
A Curse of Ash and Iron - Christine Norris

I'll admit, that when I first read this was a Cinderella retelling I was thinking along the lines of this:

Cinderella ballgown

But then, when I looked at the character names (Benjamin Grimm) I thought that this could be a retelling melding several fairy tales together.

Spooky Grimm

Alas, I was wrong.

What was involved in the retelling was a steampunk-esque version that mixed stories like The Illusionist with its orange tree trick, and other magician movies like The prestige with the birdcage tricks...

The Illusionist orange tree trick

The Evil Queen from Snow White...

Evil Queen trick or treat

And the original, well known Cinderella we know. There were aspects that worked really well with the steampunk feel, the coach was one of them. I had visions of something like the below, but a little less pumpkin-ish.

Steampunk pumpkin carriage

There were parts that were steeped in history, and in the end of the book there's a little spiel that goes over exactly which parts of the history are true. This added a nice touch of realism to an otherwise completely fantastical story.

While the world building and ideas were quite strong, sometimes leaning on the traditional, and at others on the added elements, themes and genres, the characters were left a little lacking.

I started to see a real character in Ben and Harry, Ben's younger brother, but these were left behind to further the Cinderella aspects of the story. The balls and dresses and dancing took over and the characterisation that had formed around Ben and Harry was lost.

I will be honest, I didn't like Ellie much after the first 10% of the book. I really didn't like her at all once she got to be an adult. I didn't like Olivia, but then you're not meant to. The stepsister, Rebecca, was one of the more interesting characters. I quite liked the way her character arc went.

Anyway, overall the story was pretty good, the characters were ok and the twisted story elements from other stories was mostly well done.

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

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review 2015-10-31 10:18
A little lacking in heart
Wishing Cross Station - February Grace

I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book, but it wasn't what I got.

Keigan (our protagonist) finds himself traveling through time and into the past, to finish the job of another man. Things get complicated (as they usually do in good books!) and the reader gets to experience Keigan's journey into 1880.

The scenery and world building was well done. The feel of the station, the trains and the time, we're all rich and brightly coloured. Probably my favourite part of the story. The opening scene was especially beautiful.

Keigan is not your typical protagonist too, he's an asthmatic, librarian and appealed to my inner nerd and geek-meter.

I also liked Mr Best. Marigold was a bit flat for me, I wanted a little more out of her, she seemed to just go with the flow too much.

Overall, it felt a little lacking in heart, so, despite being a good story, it just fails to reach 4 star territory.

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book through NetGally in return for an honest review.**

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review 2015-06-20 06:11
This is the welcome, yet roguishly brutal ‘hello’ from within the castle in Vere
Captive Prince: Volume One - S.U. Pacat,C.S. Pacat

Captive Prince is the opening book of the Captive Prince trilogy. It is the welcome, yet roguishly brutal ‘hello’ from within the castle in Vere. The reader is held captive by the beautifully crafted scenes and the witty, punchy or amusing dialogue that is veiled with threat, promise or something a little more sinister. The reader is thrust into the world of Vere slavery and what it means to be a slave not just within Vere, but also Akielos and the other realms of this fantasy land.

It’s a look at political, familial and royal tactics and the reader is exposed to layer upon layer of knotted moves and counter moves by each of the players. It’s complex and yet strangely simple to understand. Pacat insidiously slips in tidbits of information that appear benign at first glance but upon further study or some other moving piece become as sharp as the pointy end of a sword.

If you love Arthurian tales, historical accounts that involve deceit and battles for the thrones set in eras like the Tudors and even those before them, then this story is certainly right up your alley.

When you add to it, the gritty and, in parts, almost comical distaste for bastardry of the Veretian court, you end up with a rather barbaric society; One that mingles with the riches and glamour of the heights of royal court life. A rather interesting dichotomy.

The writing was engaging, period suitable and flawless in terms of editing and grammatical issues. Another huge plus in my books.

So when you add to the great story and the brilliant writing some complex, detailed and realistic characters… well you’ve hooked me. Completely.

I adored Damon’s complex reactions to slavery, the wicked contrasting feelings he had. I felt sympathy for him, hate for his enemies, love for his few trusted friends and surprise at some of the situations he found himself in.

Laurent was one of the best bad guys I’ve read about in a very long time. He’s got the innocent and beautiful looks of a young man, sweet and innocent, yet the mean streak of the worst kind. He’s intelligent, cunning and cruel. The best bad guys are the ones we love to hate.

Laurent look-a-like

This is sort of how I pictured Laurent, but softer, and more innocent looking except for when he turns those icy blue eyes upon you with scorn.

Some have said that they found Erasmus too sweet and submissive… well I for one am glad he was as he was. The book needed that sweet, submissive side. It needed a softness about it that Damon and the other hardened characters couldn’t give. Erasmus was probably my favourite character because of this. He provides a delicious sweetness about him that squishes your heart and ensures an emotional reaction to the scenes he’s in.

Strong LGBT themes run throughout the books, but there is only a couple of instances of explicit sexual behaviour. I feel this book would still be suitable for most readers, even those with sensitivities around M/M and F/F couplings. Where some readers might be lost is in the barbaric torture of some of the slaves. Whipping and branding among them, though they are not explicit in detail, there's plenty to keep the reader immersed in the scenes.

I am most interested to see how things progress with Damon, Laurent and the crew. I will be reading book 2.

**Note: I recieved an electronic copy of this book through Netgalley**

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