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review 2020-06-01 18:08
Along Came A Soldier
Along Came A Soldier - Brenda Davies

Two small villages in Cornwall, 1820 have been feuding for years after the murder of Charity Perrow's mother.  Jethro Ennor's father was accused but acquitted of the crime.  Now, Charity takes care of her father and brothers, but feels trapped in her home.  Jethro is a farrier who desperately wants to leave his violent and drunk father, but needs to wait until his little brother is of age.  While roaming the woods collecting mushroom for the town bonesetter, Charity and Jethro meet without knowing who the other is.  Even after they find out, Charity and Jethro can't stay away from one another.  However, another danger lurks in the woods.  Henry Blight, a returned soldier from Waterloo has come back to seek revenge against those who made him commit an unspeakable act years ago.  

 
Along Came A Soldier is a complex and intriguing historical murder mystery paired with romantic suspense. The characters were interesting and caught my attention early along with the tensions between the two towns.  Charity is caring and  adventurous.  Jethro is impulsive and rough around the edges.  Together,  Charity and Jethro make a perfect pair. Henry is haunted, showing signs of what we would call PTSD, but still wanted to right his wrong from the past making him a sympathetic villain.  I also loved Grace's knowledgeable, meddling and well-meaning character, although I don't know why her boobs had to be described every time she moved.  The mystery also pulled me along, though I had the gist of it pretty early, element were added to the very end for an unexpected and satisfying ending. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
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review 2020-06-01 03:07
Ascendance of a Bookworm: I'll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!: Part 1: Daughter of a Soldier, Vol. 3 (book) by Miya Kazuki, illustrated by You Shiina, translated by quof
Ascendance of a Bookworm: Part 1 Vol. 3 - Miya Kazuki,Karuho Shiina,quof

At the end of the previous volume, Myne passed out due to the Devouring and seemed likely to die. But of course she didn't - in the beginning of this volume, it's revealed that she was taken to the guildmaster to be saved by one of the fragile magical items he collected in order to save his granddaughter, Freida, who also has the Devouring.

It's a good thing that Myne has saved up so much money, because even old and nearly broken magical tools cost a lot, and are typically only available to nobles. And not only that, they don't cure someone with the Devouring, they just temporarily lower the person's mana level enough for them to feel better. If she doesn't sign a contract with a noble and agree to become their slave, Myne likely only has another year at most before the Devouring kills her.

Freida and the guildmaster, who already have connections with nobles, want to corner Myne into working with them. Benno wants Myne (and her lucrative product ideas) to stay with him and the Gilberta Company. Then there's Myne's family and her friend Lutz - if she signs a contract with a noble, she'll likely never see any of them again. So Myne has some tough decisions to make.

In some ways, this was the best volume in the series so far. There were only a few overly detailed "making stuff from our world in a fantasy world" scenes, more emphasis was put on characters' relationships with others (Myne and her family, and Lutz and his), readers finally got a small glimpse of the wider world and its politics, and there was forward movement in the Devouring aspect of the plot.

Unfortunately, the story had a bad tendency to meander - I had to flip through it to remind myself what happened in between the more important plot points. Lots of planning for Myne's baptism, getting Lutz ready to become an apprentice merchant, more paper-making but bigger, and Myne accidentally inventing yet another new food. I still agree with what I wrote in my review for Volume 1: Part 1 really would have been better condensed into a single volume rather than spread out over three books.

The writing was terrible. That fact was easier to gloss over in the previous two volumes, but in this one the author included a few scenes that should have been very emotional and that were instead ruined by the author's reliance upon what were essentially sound effects to convey characters' emotions. Things like: "Sniff," "Nnn," and "Ngggh." And speaking of sound effects, it seemed like Myne said "Bwuh" way more in this volume than she did in the previous two, and it started to irk me a bit. And this series really should have been written in the third person. The author had to cheat a bit in this volume to get around the limitations of Myne's first person POV, and honestly most of the bonus stories also came across as clumsy attempts to get around the series' POV limitations.

I have a bunch of questions about the world-building - it seemed shakiest where foods were concerned. First there was the whole thing, earlier in the series, about commoners not having access to rice. In this volume it was revealed that

sugar (I'm guessing that the author/translator actually meant "refined sugar") had only just begun to be imported, but even without sugar I would have figured people would have experience with baking cakes using honey. And yet for some reason the cake Myne baked was treated like a revolution, and Leise, a supposedly experience cook and baker, needed Myne's suggestions to figure out how to jazz the recipe up with additional ingredients. At one point, the text referred to pound cake dough (205) rather than batter, which told me that either the author or translator, or possibly both, wasn't a baker.

(spoiler show)


Despite all of these problems, I still plan on reading Part 2 once it's possible for me to get all three books. I look forward to seeing where the author goes with the new developments in the story. But I won't lie, this isn't a well-written series. I've been able to put up with its issues so far, but I'd totally understand if others couldn't.

I haven't seen the anime yet but plan to do so. I strongly suspect that the emotional scenes in this volume will work a lot better in the anime than they did here. I prefer You Shiina's artwork to the screenshots I've seen of the anime, but that's normal - Shiina's illustrations can have a level of detail that just wouldn't work in an animated series.

Extras:

A folded page with full-color illustrations on both sides, black-and-white illustrations throughout, a map of the portion of the town Myne has access to, a drawing of Myne's family's home, and six bonus stories.

The bonus stories aren't really bonus - they continue the main story a bit, but from other characters' POVs. Hence my comment about authorial cheating. The POVs included: Tuuli, Leise, Benno (he lost a bunch of points with me in his short story - I'd thought he was a savvy merchant, but he's looking more and more like a reckless idiot), Mark (J-Novel Club made a mistake and used Benno's chapter's title as Mark's chapter's running head, oops), Lutz, and the guildmaster. You know, I can't recall if the guildmaster has ever been given a name.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2020-05-23 18:03
Ascendance of a Bookworm: I'll Do Anything to Become a Librarian!: Part 1: Daughter of a Soldier, Vol. 1 (book) by Miya Kazuki, illustrated by You Shiina, translated by quof
Ascendance of a Bookworm: Part 1 Vol. 1 - Miya Kazuki,Karuho Shiina,quof

Urano is a Japanese college graduate who's absolutely obsessed with books and reading. Both she and her mom are thrilled when she gets a job at a library, but before she even has a chance to start, an earthquake causes Urano's book collection to fall on her and kill her. She wakes up in the body of a sickly 5-year-old child named Myne.

Although Myne's memories tell her that she loves her parents and older sister and they love her back, it's a little difficult for her to connect with them emotionally, since they feel mostly like strangers to her. Still, she tries to adjust to her life as best as possible, arranging things so that both she and her new family's cleanliness is improved and trying to make something resembling Japanese food without any of the proper ingredients, not even rice. The thing that's hardest for her to take, however, is the complete lack of books. The nobility can afford books, but poor commoners like her own family can't. Rather than succumb to despair, however, Myne/Urano (who I will refer to as Myne from here on out, although the real Myne is technically dead) decides that she will somehow make her own books.

As is the case with many, many recent light novels, I like the idea behind this series more than its execution. In the afterword, the author says they (I think the author is female, but I'm not 100% sure) refused to abridge Part 1 into a single volume, which I think was a mistake. I wish Japanese light novel publishers/editors were a bit firmer with their authors - far too many light novels are filled with self-indulgent bloat, and Ascendance of a Bookworm is no exception.

As I learned with My Next Life as a Villainess, though, I can be more forgiving of problems in light novels if aspects of them overlap with my interests. In this instance, the book got points for having a book-loving heroine, and the self-indulgent bloat was mostly focused on Myne's efforts at bookmaking. I was interested to see what she'd come up with next and how she'd manage it, considering that it took her weeks just to work up the strength to walk to the forest on her own.

But was it really necessary to go into that much detail on several of Myne's attempts to make something paper- or book-like? Probably not. Same with Myne's various food-making, cleanliness, and personal hygiene efforts. Literally every idea Myne had involved a long, multi-step process to figure out if this world even had the supplies she needed, if those supplies were accessible in some way to commoners, and then how to get those supplies and use them, considering that Myne's body was so weak that overexerting herself could result in being bedridden with a fever for multiple days.

Myne won me over at the very beginning due to her love of books. She was the sort of person who'd find a way to read whenever she could, and she didn't care about anything except making sure she continued to have access to books and reading time. It didn't bother her if other people thought she was odd. However, this single-minded focus eventually began to wear on me. For one thing, in a world like the one she ended up in, it made Myne seem immensely selfish. Her family was literally dirt poor, and she kept asking for things with barely a thought as to whether they could afford them or spare the time to get them. For another, she'd occasionally have tantrums more appropriate to her physical age than supposed mental age when things didn't go her way. Honestly, Tuuli, Myne's 6 or 7 year old sister, usually came across as more mature than Myne, whose mind was supposedly that of a college graduate.

Like many recent light novels, this was unfortunately written primarily in the first person. The author knew enough about POV to realize that different first person narrators would have different sets of knowledge (there were a couple bonus stories written from a couple non-Myne POVs), but not enough to create truly distinct voices (or maybe that was a translation issue?). Also, as with other J-Novel Club books I've read, there were several typos that really should have been caught before this made it to print - a sentence with really odd comma usage, a stray "1" at the end of a sentence, incorrect words like "first" instead of "fist," etc.

Despite my issues with this book, I'm glad I have the next one and can continue on. The end of the volume introduced a few characters and a shift in the storyline that I'm very interested in seeing play out. Although I'm sure that Myne will continue to be more focused on books than anything else, it looks like the series may add some economic aspects, similar to Spice & Wolf and Accomplishments of the Duke's Daughter. And since that may mean more appearances by one of my favorite characters in this book, a traveling merchant turned soldier named Otto (whose level of devotion to his wife makes him this series' version of Maes Hughes), I'm looking forward to it even more.

I really wish this had been the more tightly written novel it could have been, but so far this is decent.

Extras:

A folded page with full-color illustrations on both sides, black-and-white illustrations throughout, a map of the portion of the town Myne has access to, a drawing of Myne's family's home, and two bonus short stories, one from Lutz's POV and one prequel from Urano's friend Shuu's POV.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2020-03-03 23:19
Creeping Beautiful Kindle Edition - 'JA Huss'

OMG ! What and intense and riveting read this was! " I was on the seat of my pants the entire time until the end." Omg ! I am still reeling for this book even after reading it.

Talk about complicated characters "well", this one was loaded with them as they were all mysterious and dangerous and all held mind blowing secrets.

I cannot explain how much I loved this story as it was complicated and intriguing and mysterious and one that you knew eventually would turn into one heck of a complex love triangle. There were parts unraveling throughout the story I did not see coming.All the characters simply amazing,The plot itself was a little unnerving but, drew you in from the very first pages so much so you could not put it down."The ending omg ! what a shocker and had there been another book I would have picked it up a dove right back in again and would have huddle under the covers in bed and not come out until that book was finished too."I can't wait to see what happens next.The story mind boggling at times it was a bit confusing but, when turned the pages and the story start unfolding the players all started making sense.

Final thoughts

"This is the best romantic suspense read for us so far for 2020! " "We didn't want the story to end!"

 

 

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review 2020-01-23 22:13
The Soldier's Scoundrel
The Soldier's Scoundrel - Cat Sebastian

Jack is a fixer. He helps women where the law doesn't. He also grew up poor with his siblings and stole, worked, and worked some more to get where he is. Oliver is the 2nd son of an Earl who is now out of the army having spent the last 10 years or so in uniform.
Both Jack and Oliver are different, but I liked that their differences each complimented the other. At the end of the day, they just wanted someone to love them and have companionship. I liked the element of the mysteries in this one (who stole the letters and who murdered Lord Montbray). I am looking forward to Georgie's story.
For Romance-opoly Lover Lane Moon track

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