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review 2020-12-08 15:58
The One And Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The One and Only Ivan - Patricia Castelao,Katherine Applegate

What a beautiful story!
I love reading about animals, but to read it from the animals perspective is way cooler! It was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster though. Not every chapter had a happy ending. That's what made this story brilliant though. It captured everything you could imagine for that space and time. Once, I got choked up, had to put the book aside for a few minutes before finishing.
I look forward to The One and Only Bob.  So much so, in fact.



Source: www.fredasvoice.com/2020/12/the-one-and-only-ivan-by-katherine.html
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text 2020-08-14 02:04
'The Austen Escape' by Katherine Reay
The Austen Escape - Katherine Reay I picked up the audiobook of Katherine Reay’s‘The Austen Escape’ because I was looking for something fun and familiar. It’s a feel-good contemporary fiction book about a Mary Davis, a young American woman, leaving her home in Austin Texas to accompany her childhood best friend, Isabel, on a two week, Jane Austen-themed, trip to a manor house in Bath. Isabel is an Austin scholar doing her PhD on the appeal of Austen as an escape from the twenty-first century. Mary is an engineer in a high tech R&D company that she’s been in since it was a garage start-up but is now struggling to cope with a boss who wants to introduce standardisation. The two are supposed to spend a two-week vacation at a Georgian manor house, dressed in costume and are supposed to take on the persona of one of Austin’s characters. What neither of them expects is that Isabel will fall into a fugue and truly believe she is the character that she’s adopted. I live in Bath and have spent a lot of time working with R&D engineers so I expected to have a good context for this story. It turned out that that wasn’t always a good thing. I was distracted by small details that didn’t make sense at the start of the story – you don’t go from Heathrow to Bath via Oxford – you won’t encounter cobbled streets in the roads above Bath – you can’t walk from The Royal Crescent to Assembly Rooms via The Circus and pass the Marlborough Arms along the way – English limo drivers are unlikely to have missing teeth. None of these things is important but they pushed me out of the story at first. By comparison, the description of how R&D teams work, especially the cross-fertilisation of ideas between engineers and physicists, and the challenges in scaling up from start-up to major player while keeping an innovation culture were described very well. The heart of the book doesn’t lie with Bath or Austen or Engineering. It’s really about two of Mary’s relationships: the relationship with Isabel which Mary has outgrown but not outlived and her relationship with a consultant advising on the growth of Mary’s firm. The relationship with the consultant is a well-done romance trope with all the frustrations and miscommunications you might expect. I particularly liked how this romance trope avoided clichés and was built around Mary’s personality, accepting her introversion, her avoidance of conflict, her obsession with engineering design and her uncertainty about her own future and turning them into reasons why the romance should work. Mary’s relationship with Isabel was more complicated and more substantive. I won’t give the details here because discovering them is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book. I found the relationship to be much more complicated than it at first appeared and I liked that both Mary and Isabel went through some difficult but plausible changes. The Austin context of the novel is more than decorative. Austin’s observations and characters help Mary to look at herself and Isabel differently. The dressing up and role play really did provide a form of escape from their pasts that allowed them to make some choices about their futures. Overall, I had fun with this book. It was the gentle, positive read that I’d been hoping for.
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review 2020-07-08 01:36
Hearts, Keys, and Puppetry - Katherine Kellgren,Neil Gaiman

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A unique concept with interesting results.

Overall, the book was pretty good. I think its important to take into account how it came about and the way it was written. The pacing was rather fast and meandering, which is understandable given its writing process. Likewise, there isn't much character development and I didn't feel connected to the characters at all. Many of them felt flat, but again that's understandable.

The story was certainly creative, combining puppets, magic mirrors, the power of promises, magic music boxes, missing brothers, talking badgers, deadly accidents, princes, queens, trinkets, and a whole medley of other things. There is a lot going on and many elements at play. It was fun to see how all of the elements came together and played off each other.

When it comes right down to it, the book itself wasn't great in terms of writing or plot, but given its means of creation, it is pretty impressive. It makes for a unique reading experience. In the end it is what it is, a little bit of everything that isn't super developed but has some interesting results.

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review 2020-06-27 10:20
'Naughty In Nice - Her Royal Spyness #5' by Rhys Bowen
Naughty in Nice - Rhys Bowen,Katherine Kellgren

'Naughty In Nice' sees Georgie on another covert mission for the Queen, this time retrieving a small piece of art that no one wants to admit was lifted by a guest at Buckingham Palace. The mission takes Georgie to winter on the Riveria, where England's wealthiest escape the English weather and the dreariness of a country going through an economic depression, to party and gamble and do things that would be frowned upon if done back home in England.


While she's in Nice, Georgie becomes a model for Coco Chanel, is courted by a French Baron, is almost raped by an English industrialist, loses a stunningly expensive necklace belonging to the queen, finally gets to experience her mother's hospitality, gets arrested for murder and becomes a target for the real killer.


The book is full of colour and action. The plot turns out to be more complicated than it seems. Georgie is centre stage throughout but we see less than usual of her ensemble cast, although they all make an appearance. 


I liked the way Rhys Bowen displayed the extravagance of the wealthy against a back-drop of general poverty. The book opens with Georgie working in a soup kitchen in Victoria station, watching the rich walk by to catch the Boat Train as they head for sunshine and ease. This puts Georgie's first-class on Le Train Bleu from Paris to Nice into context. The rich come across as superficial, self-absorbed, unpleasant and completely unaware of the enmity that their behave produces in the people who service their lifestyle. 


The attempted rape, which takes place on a yacht, is described in a way that makes it clear that the would-be rapist, who would describe what he's doing as seduction, not rape, abuses a lot of women and takes his right to do this for granted. Georgie, once she understands the man's intentions, defends herself. I liked that the man's behaviour wasn't normalised and the Georgie didn't just brush it off. 


This was a sort of 'Winter Sun Vacation' episode in the series. It was fun but it also made aware of how much I dislike the people Georgie associates with. Le Train Bleu is gone and the Riviera is no longer the destination of choice but the rich are still with us and their behaviour hasn't changed.


As usual, my enjoyment of the story was enhanced by Katherine Kellgren's excellent narration. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

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text 2020-06-17 17:50
Passion Awakened (The Hush #1) by Katherine Diane
Passion Awakened (The Hush #1) - Katherine Diane

@debbiereadsbook, @Archaeolibrary, #Paranormal, #Romance, 4 out of 5 (very good)


A vampire warrior. A shrink. This could get uncomfortable.


Kyr, leader of the Vampire Defense Agency’s elite ground team, doesn’t have a choice in the matter. Either he participates in this bullshit psych eval, or his team gets suspended.


But this isn’t about Kyr’s mental health. This is an investigation. Because the director wants to know why the Hush hasn’t been joining the company singalong lately. The reason? A traitor at the VDA is betraying vampire females into the hands of a demon lord.


Yeah. Kyr doesn’t trust anyone, not even—especially not—the gorgeous agent assigned to evaluate him. The only thing more difficult than dodging her questions?


Denying the intense (and inconvenient) attraction sizzling between them…

Source: archaeolibrarian.wixsite.com/website/post/passion-awakened-the-hush-1-by-katherine-diane
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