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review 2018-10-04 23:59
Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield  for Deadlands
Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield

[10/05/18  Edited to add: I managed to upload a bad picture of my bingo card.]


This is such a good book I want to be a better writer to do it justice in my review. Waiting longer for inspiration is just not on though: my memory will let the details blur and the experience fade. 


Setterfield is a writer who's greatest flaw is not being prolific. Actually, that may be the only flaw. She has once again crafted a work of fiction that has a convincing Victorian setting with a modern sensibility directing the reader's attention to characters and incidents that a true Victorian wouldn't, but logic suggests that they are all valid. She manages to tell quite a few stories and examples of the craft of storytelling within a greater story of amazing events. While many writers succeed at making a house a character within their fiction, Setterfield has made part of the Thames a character, nor was she stinting in permitting this character moods. Okay, on the winter solstice the usual group are sitting around drinking in the Swan, an inn distinguished by the storytelling within. The door opens, a man, his face a bloody mess staggers in clutching a large doll in his hands.


Over the course of one year we watch the repercussions of that moment: how it affects characters major and minor and also, this is the tricksy bit, we watch how those events become stories. Yes, many stories dependent on point of view, and skill, stories becoming more stories as that one event is observed (or not), in light of new events, and then, still later developments. The metaphor is well served: there is an attempt to trace the roots of the story back to the beginning, which you can't do any more than you can trace a river back, fractally there are always more branches feeding in.


There is so much: there are clever half-starved orphans, prosperous farmers, the family of innkeepers, the town midwife, the minister, servants and animals, wealthy distillery owners, thieves and blackguards, despite the extensive cast one never feels that the author is coasting by with stereotypes or with every character having the same voice. There is plot and pathos enough for Dickens, and despite the 21st century sensibility there's none of that business of giving a character clearly modern ideas.


There is, of course, a supernatural element as well as a few mysteries, dreadful crimes and moments of grace. Everything is here, told my a humanist in the Pratchett vein, but without the jokes and footnotes. It is a lovely, suspenseful book that I couldn't bear to put down in order to post updates. Read it soon: give it to yourself or someone you really like as a gift for one of the several solstice-adjacent holidays. Just the thing for long winter nights by the fire.


ARC from publisher


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review 2017-12-05 17:03
Peace On Earth, Good Will To Dogs - Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
Peace On Earth, Good Will To Dogs - Eleanor Hallowell Abbott

Despite weird punctuation (what are all those dashes supposed to indicate?) and obvious period details this book feels remarkably modern. You could turn it into a modern story in about 15 minutes. You could turn it into a modern movie rom com script without a great deal of effort. Dogs! So cute. Oh, go on: it's free, it's short, it's amusing, it'll get you feeling jolly.



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review 2017-03-05 03:10
Humbug - Joanna Chambers

From time to time I look through the collections on my Kindle and delete everything I've read already. I just did that the other day and guess what my first reaction was when I saw I've already read this.

I've read this??? When??? ...and... What was it about again?

After I looked at the blurb I remembered at least that I've actually read some kind of a "A Christmas Carol" themed story last year. That also is quite a good giveaway that I've read it somewhere around Christmas.

So this is the perfect example for a not-bad-but-literally-forgettable story and I'll settle for 3 stars.

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review 2016-12-31 17:21
Quick and Hot
Hot for Xmas - Trinity Blacio Emily Garland works to save female victims from horrible lives, regardless of how dangerous it is. It’s been a VERY long time since she’s had any real pleasure. While trying to help another victim and her kids, she meets Baas Sather, the local pack alpha. This was a quick and hot read. It was well written. I would’ve liked to see more from these characters though. I’d recommend. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
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text 2016-12-16 11:12
Christmas reading list by book bloggers


If you're not in the holiday spirit yet this reading list will do the trick. Have a look at books with a Christmas touch picked by BookLikes book bloggers.


A Copper Ridge Christmas - Maisey YatesFic Central gives 4 stars to A Copper Ridge Christmas 

As much as I try to avoid novellas, I couldn’t pass up a book from the Copper Ridge series, and while it was just under a hundred pages in length, it almost felt like a full story.

Holly’s rather attached to holidays, and since her former foster parents will be away until Christmas, she wants to be sure they come home to all the decorations, snacks, and guests they’d usually have planned.  But she can’t do it on her own. Read more


WARM WINTER KISSES a feel good Christmas romance novel - JILL STEEPLES BuckeyeAngel gives 4 stars to Warm winter kisses


This was an enjoyable story as well as well written. It was predictable but still a good read. I enjoyed the back and forth between Rocco and Sarah. I also laughed while reading this. This was one of those stories that just makes you feel good although not really very realistic. Read more



The Angel of Forest Hill: An Amish Christmas Romance - Cindy Woodsmall Cafinated Reads gives 5 stars to The Angel of Forest Hill


Fabulously done! Ms. Woodsmall is a wonderful Amish author and I always look forward to her works. When I saw that this was not only an Amish novella but a Christmas Amish novella, I was ecstatic. Two of my favorite things wrapped up in one beautifully written package. Read more


A Winter Dream - Richard Paul Evans jbarrett5 book reviews, etc gives 3.5 stars to A Winter Dream

Family fate and forgiveness. The thirteen children all work for the family business but joseph, the 12th. It comes to a head one day when his parents are traveling and the others have found one brother has stolen money from the company.
The others want to prosecute the brother. One brother has a solution. He has to start a new life in another city. Read more


Kiss Me For Christmas - Christine Bell, Serenity Woods, Riley Murphy, Ros Clarke Hopeless Romantic gives 4 stars to Kiss Me For Christmas


Kiss Me For Christmas is the perfect present to ward off the winter chill. Dynamite in a tiny bundle, these authors are on fire with their sweet stories of holiday second chances at romance. Read more




A Kiss for Midwinter - Courtney Milan Cat's Books: Romance give 5 stars to A Kiss for Midwinter


On Thursdays, I pick a book beloved to me to share. This week's Christmas choice is A Kiss For Midwinter (Brothers Sinister, #1.5)  by Courtney Milan. 


Oh this book! It such a smart Historical Romance. Sweet and Sour in just the right ways. The writing lovely, The characters perfectly drawn with a romance you will always remember. Read more


A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings - Charles Dickens,Michael Slater "I cannot live without books" gives 5 stars to A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings


Charles Dickens may have possessed all the wordiness, sentimentality and tendency to “purple prose” that come with being Victorian (and getting paid by the installment), but that man could write compelling characters…and this is some of his best! Read more


The Christmas Grandma Ran Away from Home - Nancy Warren Olga Godim gives 4 stars to The Christmas Grandma Ran Away from Home


An unexpectedly sweet short novella about an old woman who rebels against her family’s Christmas tradition. This year, for the first time in half a century, she doesn’t want to host a Christmas gathering of her children and grandchildren, doesn’t want to cook her 55th Christmas turkey. She wants someone else to pick up the responsibility. Read more


Have and Hold Me: The Magister Series, Book 4 - July Hall Kitty's Book Spot! gives 4 stars to Have and Hold Me


This is book #4 in The Magister series.  This book is not intended to be a standalone novel.  This is the conclusion for this amazing series, which I recommend you read in order.

Sandra & Charles are separated as we get back into their saga in the latest book.  There has been a lot of loss and anger on both sides.  Will they fight for what they care most for? Read more


All He Wants For Christmas Eve: An Erotic Holiday Story - Ruby Carew,Opal Carew debjonesdiem gives 3 stars to All He Wants For Christmas Eve


All He Wants For Christmas Eve by Ruby Carew is a short and sizzling tale, a perfect choice for those with limited time for reading.  Ms Carew has delivered a well written book.  Brad and Juliette's story is a fast paced romp.  The characters are lovable.  I enjoyed All He Wants For Christmas Eve and would happily read more from Ruby Carew in the future. Read more


Jingle Bells - Kathleen O'Malley EpicFehlReader gives 3 stars to Jingle Bells


This is a little holiday book, designed & manufactured with the idea of gifting I imagine, that I came across just recently.


Inspired by the classic Christmas song, this book features a quick little story for young readers that tells of a brother and sister who plan a holiday surprise for their family. Read more


The Mistletoe Effect - Cate Ashwood Susan gives 3.5 stars to The Mistletoe Effect

Such a cute Christmas story with no angst whatsoever.

Danny is driving to Las Vegas to get a job, when his car breaks down. He hasn’t slept or eaten in days, so when he accidentally finds out the door to the little town’s bakery is open, he sneaks in. After he eats some cookies he falls asleep on the couch. Read more


A Family for Christmas - Jay Northcote MerissaArchaeolibrarian gives 5 stars to A Family for Christmas

A Family for Christmas has got to be THE most feel-good book I've read this Christmas season! Zac had a rough upbringing, was in the system, and now he refuses to let anyone get close in an attempt to keep from being hurt. Rudy has everything that Zac could ever want, but Zac doesn't want anything to do with him. Until, that is, they go out with the office for Christmas drinks and tequila is involved! Read more
A Kiss Under the Christmas Lights - Peggy Jaeger

That's What I'm Talking About gives 4 stars to A Kiss Under the Christmas Lights


A Kiss Under the Christmas Lights is a delightful holiday novella centered on a large Italian family and its traditions. I thoroughly enjoyed the hustle and bustle of Gia's life. The author invests time developing the San Valentino family, bringing heart to the story, and Gia's loving, meddling family provides tender moments with a healthy side of humorous embarrassment. Read more


Christmas Joy: A Novel - Nancy Naigle Shygirl: Reading After Midnight gives 4 stars to Christmas Joy


Christmas Joy was a heartening small town holiday romance that truly expressed the ‘reason for the Season’. Author Nancy Naigle created a group of characters who were charming, down-to-earth, and just quirky enough to lend a bit of fun to an already solid story. Read more


Have more on your shelves and blogs? Share them in comments :) Enjoy!


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