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review 2018-04-21 19:35
Zombie Abbey
Zombie Abbey - Lauren Baratz-Logsted

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. ]

A story with Austen undertones… and zombies. (I’ve seen it compared to ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’, but not having read that one, I honestly can’t tell.)

At Porthampton Abbey, a couple of years after World War I, the Clarke family has to contend with the problem of the entail, just like in ‘Pride and Prejudice’—meaning that if one of the daughters (preferably the elder, Kate) doesn’t marry very soon and has a male heir, their family will lose their estate after the death of Earl Clarke. Which is why the latter has invited a couple of potential suitors to stay for the weekend, including an older businessman from London, a duke, and a recently discovered cousin who’s very likely to inherit anyway, considering he’s the only male heir (but here’s to hope he’ll marry Kate, and all will be well in the world). And the story would go its posh, merry way, if not for the strange death of a villager, found half-devoured… A villager whom his widow has to kill a second time with a bullet to the head.

The beginning of this story definitely has its appeal: the Clarkes display a comical mix of common sense (Kate when it comes to hunting, for instance) and quirky, whimsical inability to grasp that other people are not only their servants, they’re, well, human beings with their own lives, too. This was a conflict in itself in the book, with the ‘Upstairs’ people having to realise that they have to pay more attention to the ‘Downstairs’ people. The build-up to the part where zombies actually make an appearance was a little slow, but in itself, it didn’t bother me, because discovering the characters (and rolling my eyes while trying to guess who’d kick the bucket) was quite fun. Granted, some of the characters weren’t very likeable; the earl felt too silly, Kate too insensitive… but on the other hand, I liked where Lizzy and Grace started and how they progressed—Lizzy as the girl whom everyone thinks stupid, yet who turns out to be level-headed when things become dangerous, and Grace being likely the most humane person in her family. The suitors, too, looked rather bland at first, however a couple of them started developing more of a (pleasant) personality. And I quite liked Fanny as well, the quiet-at-first but assertive maid who refuses to let ‘propriety’walks all over charity.

After a while, though, the style became a little repetitive. The way the various characters’ point of views were introduced at the beginning of each chapter or sub-chapter, for some reason, tended to grate on my nerves, I’m not exactly sure why; and while I don’t have issues with casts of more than 2-3 POV characters, here the focus regularly went back to some action already shown in a previous chapter, but this time from another character’s point of view, which felts redundant.

I also thought that while there -were- zombies, I’d have liked seeing a little more of them. There was tension, but I never felt the story was really scary (for me and for the characters both), and the moments when a character got hurt was usually due to their being too stupid to live and doing something that no one in their sane mind should’ve done anyway.

Finally, I’m not satisfied with the ending: I don’t know it there’ll be a sequel or not, but if it’s meant to be a standalone, then it leaves way too many things open.

Conclusion: 2.5 /3 stars. I’m curious about how the situation at Porthampton Abbey will unfold, and if there were a sequel, that’d be good, because it’d mean the characters could finish growing, too.

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review 2018-04-20 17:19
Harem by Colin Falconer
Harem - Colin Falconer

I don't know much about this time period, or the Ottoman empire, but this book certainly pulled me in from the beginning!

 

 This is the story of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his harem, specifically about 1 of his slave girls from his harem, (Hurrem Sultan), and how she rose to have so much power. I'm sure no one knows exactly what she was like in real life, but in this book she was vile! Just a really vindictive and mean person, but I think that's why I couldn't stop reading this book...because I just had to know what this woman was going to do next!

 

 

 

There was another side story going on the book that was just as interesting, at least to me, because it involved the chief eunuch in the harem, and that one was a bit sad.

 

I hadn't read a Falconer book in a long time...since his Cleopatra book many years ago, (which I also enjoyed). But I have a few of them sitting in my kindle and I am definitely going to be moving them up the queue.

 

Recommended for historical fiction fans.
4/5 stars

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review 2018-04-20 09:08
The Black Diamond by Andrea Kane
The Black Diamond - Andrea Kane

Aurora Huntley has spent more than a decade as a virtual prisoner in her home due to her overprotective brother and dangers lurking outside her little world. Her family is besieged by privateers and burglars trying to get their hands on the legendary black diamond that's supposed to be in her family's possession. Yet it isn't, and they have no idea where it is.

Still, dangers abound, and Aurora's brother, Slayde, decides on an ultimate protection for his sister—marriage. But Aurora doesn't want to get married, despite the suitability of the suitor, so she devises a cunning plan—she'll get a man to compromise her, thus ending her forced betrothal.

Little does she know that the man doing the supposed ruining is the Romeo to her Juliet, the last remaining descendant of the Bencrofts, her family's archenemies. Julian might have been the black sheep of the family, but he's still a Bencroft, and he's still in the search of the black diamond that's supposedly brought ruin to his family. But Julian isn't searching for the diamond out for its monetary value, his reasons run deeper, and he's willing to bring Aurora along on the journey.

A journey that will be more rewarding than either of them ever suspected.


Yes, yes, yes. If Legacy of the Diamond was a bad start to the "story", this one is a great ending.

First of all, Aurora, the rather self-centered brat from Legacy received a personality transplant and I actually liked her. She was lively, spirited, stubborn, resilient, and adventurous, a perfect other half of Julian, the hero.
They complimented each other, they were each other's equals, no matter what, and the budding friendship, partnership and romance that developed were wonderful to read. It didn't feel rushed (despite happening in a mere week), both characters were nicely developed, and the flow of the story gave the reader ample time to get to know both of them, and ultimately understand what drew them together.

The rest was also very well done. The pacing was excellent, the mystery intriguing, I loved the treasure hunt styled following of the clues, and the suspense scenes were well-written and gripping, offering one jolt after another when all was revealed.
I didn't see the other danger coming, and was pleasantly surprised by it.

The resolution to the utterly stupid family feud was beautifully done, and the finale with the affirming epilogue was just the right icing on this particular cake.

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review 2018-04-20 01:12
CAST TWO SHADOWS: THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION IN THE SOUTH by Ann Rinaldi
Cast Two Shadows: The American Revolution in the South - Ann Rinaldi

Cast Two Shadows: The American Revolution in the South

Ann Rinaldi

Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published October 1st 1998)
ISBN: 0152050779 (ISBN13: 9780152050771) 

 

I was browsing the shelves when I found this book. Usually, an author sticks with the big events of the American Revolution, but Rinaldi sets this book in the south.  Caroline, the main character, is 14 years old and sees how the war has separated her family's loyalty, as well as how it has affected her friends. The British have taken over her family's plantation; her father is thrown in jail for supporting the patriots; the brother is fighting for the British. She sees some horrors on both sides and learns some secrets about herself as well. At some points, the reading is a little dry. Overall, a good book, though, YA readers who like historical fiction.

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review 2018-04-20 00:53
Sharpe's Trafalgar by Bernard Cornwell
Sharpe's Trafalgar - Bernard Cornwell

Series: Sharpe #4 (Chronological Order)

 

This book started off quite strong, and I was initially enjoying Sharpe at sea (not his usual environment), but I felt things went downhill somewhat when we left the Calliope with its amusing merchant. I also didn't find the sea battle at Trafalgar to be as interesting as the battles in the previous books. Oh well. Let's hope I like the next one better!

 

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