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review 2020-06-07 15:41
"January River", by Bernard Jan
January River - Bernard Cornwell

“January River is a heartwarming story you should not pass. A simple tale of a boy growing up in the picturesque little town of Greenfield till many years later he is invited to come to New York.

If you think this story may be boring…....think again. The beautiful landscape of words and emotions will grab you and won’t let you put the book down till you reach the conclusion. The words flow smoothly through the page and highlight how passionate the author’s is about his subject. The narrative is descriptive and endearing and focusses on the life‘s up and down, a life study of sorts. We travel with Ethan on his journey from child to adult through a series of joys and sadness. The loss of a close friend and of his beloved dog will leave you heartbroken. This is an emotional roller-coaster ride of emotions. No doubt, “January River” is an exceptionally well-written book in tone and content, much care is taken to sentences as much as it is for the plot. The characters populating the story are darlings, especially Ethan.

“All rivers carry their secrets, but not every river keeps its secret forever.”

What a compelling story told by a true master. Thank you Mr. Jan for this wonderful story I thoroughly enjoyed .

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review 2020-04-11 11:43
The Ten Thousand Doors of January
The Ten Thousand Doors of January - Alix E. Harrow

Things that attracted me to this book:  the title (I first saw it in January, around my birthday); the cover; and the blurb mentioning a book.  I picked it up because the only books appealing to me right now are fluffy, preferably magical realism plots.


This book was both and neither.  I have no idea how to describe it.  A grown-up fairy tale sounds too trite and too superficial, though its roots are firmly in myth and legend.  The writing is lyrical, the tense is fourth-wall-breaking second person.  It's a happy story, a heart-wrenching one, and a magical one all at once. It's both predictable and surprising; cynical and fantastically idealistic.  It genuinely shocked the hell out of me because it wasn't at all what I expected.  


As the ward of the wealthy Mr Locke, January Scaller feels little different from the artefacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored and utterly out of place.


But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page reveals more impossible truths about the world...


It's both a perfect and perfectly inadequate description.  The closest I can come is a story with very faint shades of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, only for grown-ups.


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review 2020-03-21 17:47
The Ten Thousand Doors of January - Alix E. Harrow
The Ten Thousand Doors of January - Alix E. Harrow

So, it's taken me more than a month to read this book and that shouldn't be taken as any reflection on the quality of the book (which is fantastic, and of which more shortly) but the fact that although I love me a good hardback, they're not really great for reading in bed, which is where I do a lot of my quality book-work nowadays. 


There's a longstanding tradition in fantasy of Doors, which even though they might not have the capital D when they're written, play a substantial part in helping characters move from one place to the next, one world to the next. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a wonderful addition to those books, paying homage to those that have gone before while also creating a whole new storyline involving them.


The eponymous January is our main character, who we first meet as a young teenager, living in the house of her guardian and benefactor who is also her father's employer - Julian's job is to travel and send back things he discovers to his employer, which he does relentlessly throughout the course of the book. He also sends back things for January herself, including a book that shares the name of the novel, telling his story and the story of January's mother. January finds out about Doors through that book, as well as discovering that she has powers of her own, in this case to bring Doors into being by writing them into existence. 


It's through this book as well that she finds out too that she is between-worlds in a way that is different from the one she has always known - she's living in turn of the century America and while her benefactor is white and rich, she distinctly isn't either of those things - and that it was a Door that brought her parents together in the first place. Now, despite the best efforts of January and her friends, who we meet along the way, the Doors are in danger as someone is closing them and that just might mean January will never get to see either of her parents again. 


All in all, this is a beautifully-written book and one which I imagine I will find myself re-reading in the future. It's full of hope and just what I needed in these current uncertain times - highly recommended! And apparently the author has another novel coming out later in the year... :)

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review 2020-02-04 10:22
The Ten Thousand Doors Of January
The Ten Thousand Doors of January - Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January has a title that immediately made me want to read it. However, this always unnerves me a little bit, because I'm afraid I will be disappointed by a book that I'm looking forward to reading so much. I got it in an end of year sale, and planned to read it in January, as the title suggested, but in the end ended up finishing it just in February.

Luckily I didn't need to worry, because once I started reading I knew it was going to be a good one. Immediately I was drawn to January and her Doors (and other capitalized words). I don't want to say too much about the story, for fear of taking some of the magic away. But I will admit I recommended this book already to people, while I was only half-way the book, even to those who normally steer clear from Fantasy.

What I didn't know at that point though, was that it would touch me as much as it did. Definitely recommended and three euros very well spend.

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review 2020-01-31 20:32
The Prestige / Christopher Priest
The Prestige - Christopher Priest

In 1878, two young stage magicians clash in the dark during the course of a fraudulent séance. From this moment on, their lives become webs of deceit and revelation as they vie to outwit and expose one another.

Their rivalry will take them to the peaks of their careers, but with terrible consequences. In the course of pursuing each other's ruin, they will deploy all the deception their magicians' craft can command--the highest misdirection and the darkest science.

Blood will be spilled, but it will not be enough. In the end, their legacy will pass on for generations...to descendants who must, for their sanity's sake, untangle the puzzle left to them.


3.5 stars--better that “I liked it” but less than “I really liked it.” I was engaged while I was reading, but every time I set it down, I had a struggle to pick it back up again. Totally on me, it’s not the book.

If you enjoyed Robertson Davies’ Deptford Trilogy (Fifth BusinessThe ManticoreWorld of Wonders), you will probably enjoy this book too. Unlike Davies, the ending felt rather Frankenstein-like to me. And I have to wonder if Erin Morgenstern read this before she wrote The Night Circus. I also keep thinking about Faust for some reason that I can’t put my finger on.

I’ve run into Nikola Tesla as a character in fiction on a number of occasions now, and here he is again! I can see the appeal--an extremely intelligent and talented man, but eccentric and (at least in younger years) darkly handsome.

If you’re not a fan of the epistolary format, you may want to give this book a miss. But if you love the idea of dueling magicians, this is the book for you.

Book number 350 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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