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review 2017-11-11 01:21
Kif: An Unvarnished Story
Kif: an unvarnished history - Gordon Daviot

In my attempt to get to know the works of Josephine Tey a bit better, I came across the following description of Kif in Jennifer Morag Henderson's excellent biography Josephine Tey: A Life:

In the Highlands, as elsewhere, the whole way of life was changed by the war: from being a relatively stable, hierarchical society, the idea of change and the progress of technology was pervasive, even if the reality of change and progress took longer to arrive. Beth was to become very aware of how Britain was not the ‘home for heroes’ that the returning troops and their families wanted it to be, and her first full-length novel, Kif, was to deal particularly with the effects of economic depression and the difficulties that people, especially returning soldiers, faced after the end of the First World War.


I was really intrigued how Tey (then still writing as Gordon Daviot) would handle this. It was a contemporary issue and surely could have been a somewhat controversial issue (at the time of publication), but while Tey/Daviot showed some of the difficulties that veterans faced when returning to civic life - such as not finding employment - this book was not even scratching the surface of what she could have shown.


Instead, we get an account advertised as "An Unvarnished Story" which reads like a sanitised story for children, telling of a boy's own adventure in the trenches, which are full "old sports". None or the realism of trench warfare that we know of from other accounts is present in Kif


As for the miserable treatment of veterans back home, this is there to some extent, where Kif cannot find long-term employment and survives on short-term jobs and some winnings at the race grounds. Now, this may have been the most realistic part, but the Tey/Daviot spoils it by Kif - who has evidently no skills in the field - joining a gang of burglars. He's caught, he's sent down. Upon his release, he is unemployable. Then tragedy strikes again.


The problem I have with this part is that Kif knowingly turns to crime. He is not forced into it. There is no compulsion for him to join the burglars, but it is portrayed as a splendid whim that lets him join up. In turn, how does this then portray issues that ordinary men faced who did not turn to crime?


This book was interesting from the point of seeing Tey/Daviot develop as a writer, but it did not work for me as a worthwhile book.

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text 2017-11-05 12:54
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square #3: November 11th
Kif: an unvarnished history - Gordon Daviot

Book themes for Veteran’s Day/Armistice Day: Read a book involving veterans of any war, books about WWI or WWII (fiction or non-fiction).  –OR– Read a book with poppies on the cover.



This is where Kif comes in. I had meant to start this earlier but got put off by accidentally reading the jacket blurb which gave away some of the ending. I hate it when they do that. 

If I pick up a book, I really want to find out for myself if there is a happy ending or not.


Anyway, ... Kif is a boy of 15 who lives in a rural area near what I gather is the border between Scotland and England. He is very bored with his life and dreams of excitement, adventure, and basically anything that will break this monotonous routine he lives. 


So, he lies about his age and joins the British army in December 1914.


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review 2017-10-15 23:53
World War II German Women's Auxiliary Services - Gordon Williamson

This book provides a comprehensive view of the varieties of uniforms and badges that were worn by German women who served in a variety of roles in the German Army, Navy, Luftwaffe (air force), SS, and civilian sectors during the Second World War.   

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review 2017-10-15 21:15
No dragons here but there was a pretty awesome unicorn!
The Last Grand Master - Andrew Q. Gordon,Joel Leslie

And some pretty amazing peregrines! 'The Last Grandmaster' is the first book in Andrew Q. Gordon's series 'Champion of the Gods' and for me if it's not Urban Fantasy when it comes to fantasy this is my crack. I loved it wizards and noble warriors, magic, unicorns, peregrines, dark magic, good vs evil at its best!


Farrell is both a Grand Master and the crowned Prince of Haven a hidden sanctuary for refugees. He's the linchpin in the war against Meglar the wizard king of Zargon and a user of dark magic.  It's during a battle against Meglar that Farrell meets Miceral an immortal warrior chosen by the Six to be Farrell's mate. 


Along with Farrell and Miceral the author introduces us to Nerti, Queen of the unicorns and a large cast of secondary characters who all have a role to play in the battle against Meglar. 


Overall I really enjoyed this story. It's been quite a while since I've listened to or read a fantasy novel on this epic of a scale and to be honest I'd forgotten the amount of world building that it takes to make a story like this work. Fortunately for me the author chose to incorporate most of his world building into the  story which for me works a whole lot better than info dumps. While there were occasionally times that my interest waned they were far and few between. 


'The Last Grandmaster' is as story that has a lot going on...not only is Farrell's personal life in a bit of upheaval but he's working hard to save his world and defeat the evil known as Meglar and of course like any good story our hero has secrets...secrets that dog him at every turn and may even prove to be his undoing.


I have to admit I've been poking around this series for a while now and couldn't quite make up my mind but when the opportunity to listen to this on audio book came up, I sat down and took a serious look at things. I know I've said on more than one occasion that fantasy is one of my absolute favorite genres, so needless to say this had 'The Last Grandmaster' ticking yes in more than a few boxes for me. My dilemma came when I got to the narrator. Joel Leslie is the narrator for this book and this created a bit of a dilemma for me, I haven't had the best of luck with this narrator. It's not a case of good or bad, it's truly just personal preference and for me this narrator's voice tends to be more miss than hit...so what to do, what to do?


Well I went back and took a look at the audio books that I've listened to by Joel Leslie and came to the realization that while some didn't work and some were just ok. Out of them all while the audio was for me only 3 stars...I would have to say that 'Lord Mouse' is probably the one I liked the best and while that book bares no resemblance to this one in terms of the storyline or plot there is a similarity to the overall feel of them...sorry, I wish I had better words to explain this with but hopefully you get my drift here...anyways, bottom line after pondering this aspect of things I decided this was worth taking a chance on and happily for me I was right. Joel Leslie's narration for 'The Last Grandmaster' worked just fine for me and I genuinely enjoyed the audio experience. So much so that I'm truly hoping that the remainder of this series will be produced on audio book and I certainly won't have any reservations about listening if it's the same narrator for those books.


Although 'The Last Grandmaster' is the first book in this series the author hasn't left us standing at the edge of any cliffs wondering about the well being of our heroes, it would appear that each book in this series is for the most part a self-contained adventure that is part of a larger journey...a quest if you will, that our heroes are on in their battle against evil. There are currently four books in this series with a fifth book slated for release in 2018. For me the question isn't whether or not I'll continue the journey it's more a case of e-book or wait for it on audio? What to do? What to do?



An audio book of 'The Last Grandmaster' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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review 2017-10-10 20:59
Bad Girls from History: Wicked or Misunderstood? - Dee Gordon

There were definitely some very cruel and mean women included in this book. A short read that started with mistresses and madams, then onto murderers and then onto outlaws and bank robbers.

Some of these women, I had heard and some I had not. I did spend a lot of time checking out the pictures of these women trying to find out what made them so attractive that they were able to sell their bodies for most of their lives to the wealthy, elite and royalty. I guess attraction was a different thing in some of these eras.

I definitely recognized Georgia Tann although that is only because I had read "Before We Were Yours" by Lisa Wingate which was a fictional tale about a family of children that Ms. Tann had requisitioned through her nefarious ways. A really good book if you get the chance to read it, by the way.

Of course, there was Bonnie Parker, Calamity Jane, Ma Barker, and Lizzie Borden just to name a few.

I do have to say that I had to quit reading about the murderers as it was pretty much grossing me out while reading during lunch.

Interesting and informative.

Thanks to Pen and Sword and Net Galley for a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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