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review 2017-06-27 06:42
Come Hell or Highball
Come Hell or Highball - Maia Chance

Prohibition era; Lola's husband dies of a heart attack and she discovers he wasn't as rich as she'd thought.  She and her cook Berta are without house and home, and while hiding out in her husband's heretofore unknown love nest in the city, agree to retrieve a film reel for one of her late husband's mistresses.  Thus begins what is supposed to be a madcap and hilarious adventure into mystery and mayhem.

 

Eh.  Either I was off my game or the book was.  Nothing struck me as madcap so much as it did silly (and there's a subtle difference, in my opinion).  Lola failed to elicit much sympathy from me, her mother was annoying in all the wrong ways, her brother in law unrealistically meddlesome (he kept trying to gaslight Lola) and Berta was sorta weird.  The romantic tension that was supposed to exist between Ralph and Lola was absent.  The mystery plot was all over the place; incredibly complicated, and hinged on unknown information until the very end.  

 

Now that I've beaten the poor book to death, for all that it wasn't a bad read.  It kept me entertained enough to keep reading, it just didn't hook me, or bond me to the characters in any way that will result in my desire to read any additional books in the series.  Which is a shame, because I do love the Prohibition-era setting.

 

 

 

 

 

Page count: 307

$$: $6.00

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review 2017-06-26 17:14
A Good Rake is Hard to Find - The book that made me love historical romance again!
A Good Rake is Hard to Find - Manda Collins

Review first appeared on A Weebish Book Blog.

 

I purchased this book at a time when I was in a historical romance slump because I knew it would be just the novel I would love the minute I found myself interesting in reading the genre again. I was not wrong in thinking this and thanks to Manda Collins I am now craving even more from this genre — and more from the Lords of Anarchy.

 

A DUKE IS HARD TO FIND by Manda Collins is a heart -touching historical romance about the once engaged Leonora Craven and Lord Frederick Lisle, forced to reunite to solve the suspicious death of Leonora’s twin and Freddy’s dear friend, Johnny. This historical romance is the first novel in the Lords of Anarchy series, a book that has sat on my TBR list for over a year.

 

Miss Leonora Craven is a poetess and a bluestocking past the “age of marriage” (boy do I hate that phrase) when she seeks out her old flame to demand his help. She is witty, strong-willed, and not afraid to speak out about controversial topics to change societal justice. Though she has flaws like the rest of us mere mortals, she is not afraid to admit she’s wrong. It is nice to see character growth in a strong female lead, especially since it doesn’t happen as often as it should in romance.

 

“Freddy” aka Lord Fredrick Isle was also a character I was very fond of. He is rather ashamed of his past as a rake, and it was a struggle for him to go undercover as a Lord of Anarchy when all he wanted was to prove he’s changed. However, he’d do anything for the man who was like a brother to him — even if it meant getting close to the woman who broke his heart.

 

The main characters were well rounded and tugged at my heart strings. They’ve been through so much and came out damaged, but resilient. I also liked the secondary characters – the two living close friends of Freddy AND Leonora’s two close friends. I cannot wait to read their stories next!

 

I recommend this novel to historical romance lovers and those who are knew to the genre. This is the perfect novel to for those who are curious to see if historical romance is right for them — just remember to keep the tissues handy!

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review 2017-06-26 11:01
Multi-award winner historical fiction in pre-revolution New York with a fabulous narrator and an intriguing main character
Golden Hill: A Novel of Old New York - Francis Spufford

Thanks to Net Galley and to Faber & Faber for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

I had an interesting experience with this novel. In the last few weeks, every time I reviewed a novel that was nominated for an award and checked out what novel had won it, it was Golden Hill (among them, the Costa First Novel Award, The Desmond Elliott Prize, the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2017…) and I thought I had to read it and find out what the fuss what about.

It is not difficult to see why people are fascinated by this novel. It is a historical fiction novel by an author who has written non-fiction extensively and has chosen a very interesting narrative style. (I must confess to being very intrigued by his book called The Child that Books Built. A Life in Reading, especially in view of a recent discussion we had on my blog about books on reading). The story is set in the New York of the late 1740s and is narrated by an anonymous narrator (or so it seems as we read) who tells the story of a man, Richard Smith, who arrives in the New World with a money order for 1000 pounds and acts quite mysteriously. The story is told in the third person, but the narrator breaks the third wall barrier often, at times to despair at being unable to describe a card game, or a fight, at others to decide where we can or cannot enter. Although the book’s language and style are word-perfect (and will enchant those who love accuracy), it appears more sensitive to certain aspects of the society of the time than perhaps a novel of the period would have been (slavery, gender, and race issues…) but the narrating style reminds us of Henry and Sarah Fielding, and in a nod to metafiction, in the book itself there are discussions of novels that include Joseph Andrews or David Simple. I have talked often about my fascination for narrators and this is one of those novels that will keep it alive for a long time.

The book transports the reader to the New York of 1747, a provincial and small place, with only a few streets and a mixture of inhabitants mostly from Dutch and English origins, with a jumble of different coins and bank notes in circulation, what appear to be the equivalent of small-town politics and an interesting judicial system, and dependent on ships from London for news and entertainment. Although I have read historical tracts and fiction from the era, I don’t think any of them managed to give me as good an understanding and a feel for what colonial New York was like.

The story itself is built around the mystery of Smith’s character. Who is he? Is the money order real, or is he a con-man? Is he a magician, an actor, a seducer, a trouble-maker, all of the above? Everybody wants him, or better, his money, for their own goals (political, financial…) and he allows himself to be courted by all, although he is only really interested in the daughter of one of the Dutch businessmen who is holding his money order until they receive confirmation of its true value, Tabitha. Tabitha is my favourite character, a shrew, sharp and witty, and somebody I wouldn’t mind learning much more about.

Smith is a good stand-in for the reader because although he is from the era, he is naïve as to the colonies and the different social mores, politics, and customs there, and keeps getting into trouble. Although his adventures are interesting, and the mystery that surrounds him seemingly propels the story (although half-way through the novel we get a clue as to what might be behind the intrigue), I found it difficult to fully empathise with him, perhaps because of the style of narration (although the story is told by a narrator, and in the third person, at times we get a clear look at what Smith is thinking, but, for me, the hidden information somehow hindered my full investment in the character). There are many other interesting characters, although we do not get to know any of them in a lot of detail. For a great insight into the book and all that it contains, I recommend you read the About the author note I have included above. The man can write, for sure.

The ending… Well, there is an ending to the story and then there is a final twist. If you picked up the clues, the ending will not be such a big surprise. The twist… Yes, it makes one look at the book in a completely different way, although it makes perfect sense.

I highlighted many fragments that I particularly liked, but on checking them again I was worried they might, either give too much away or confuse somebody who is not following the story. So I’d advise you to check the book sample available on your favourite online bookstore and see if you enjoy the style. If you do, it only gets better.

I recommend this book to anybody curious about its reputation, to lovers of historical fiction, in particular, those set up in the colonies prior to the revolution, and to readers and writers who enjoy narrators and look for something a bit different.

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review 2017-06-25 22:55
The White Queen
The White Queen - Philippa Gregory

I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this book as of yet. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either.

 

The subject matter was definitely interesting. Elizabeth Woodville, as she is presented in this book, is a compelling, if not exactly likeable character. She knew what she wanted, and she fought hard to get and then keep it.

 

I mainly think the author's writing style and I did not get along. Things are often told and not shown, and at times that could get a little tedious. This is in part, I think, due to the use of first person for the majority of the book.

 

Also, I am not sure how I felt about the whole magic/witch aspect of the story. I know that both Elizabeth and her mother were accused of practicing witchcraft, but for magic to have played an actual role in the story? I just don't know.

 

I did like reading about the legend of Melusina, though.

 

I did enjoy this enough to want to check out the tv series based on this book, though.

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review 2017-06-25 20:12
The Rescued Bride, Indiana Wake
Mail Order Bride - The Rescued Bride: Cl... Mail Order Bride - The Rescued Bride: Clean Western Historical Romance (Mail Order Brides of Harmony Book 2) - Indiana Wake

I really enjoyed this clean, Historic, Western Romance. I voluntarily chose to review it and given it a 5* rating. This bride went through a lot to get to a point of marriage. Again it reminds me of how much easier we have it these days and how short of a time it takes to travel compared to then. This one loved books. Each book was a treasure.On to the next.

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