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Search tags: YA-historical-fiction
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review 2018-01-19 19:52
My copy had a prettier cover.
Sweet Disorder - Rose Lerner

Which I can't be arsed to add. But Lerner's own covers are really lovely!


Anyway, I really liked this book. The conflict set around a national election and the complicated rules about who could vote and how to bribe them was original and created realistic, high stakes drama for all the major characters. Some of the political scandals felt a little on the nose, but I don't suppose politics have changed that much.


I liked the heroine, and how prickly and self contained she was. Her struggle to decide who to marry, and if she should remarry at all, and her conflicted feelings about her first marriage were very well drawn. I liked that a lot better than Romancelandia's usual virgin widows. She had loved before, did still love her in laws, but still felt like she'd missed out. That interacted well with the hero's poor communication skills, and lack of self awareness. So that the conflict turned into two character who never ever wanted to discuss their feelings trying to open up to each other, which also felt believable, and made me root for them without thinking they were idiots. I also liked that not everyone was a peer, and the book was quite funny.


There were about fifteen different side plots, most of which I was invested in, and which all came together reasonably well in the end, However, that did lead to the big dramatic reveal scene feeling a bit rushed. There were just so many people who had to get their oar in by then. That felt like an early book pacing problem, and I bet the rest of the series has improved by then. Some of the gender politics also felt a little modern for folks in 1812. However, given how on the nose the scandals were, I'll take that over period-appropriate horribleness.


Will definitely be going back to Lively St. Lemeston in the near future.

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review 2018-01-19 17:14
Girl Waits with Gun - Amy Stewart

Constance wants paid for the accident that destroyed their farm cart but instead she and her sisters get harassed and threatened by the head of a silk company.  She takes steps to protect herself and her family.


I enjoyed this book.  Constance and her sisters are unusual for the period in which they live.  The story started slowly but picked up as Constance gets more involved in protecting her family and home as well as the mystery of what happened to a young silk worker's baby.  Constance is smart and resourceful.  She learns and is formidable.  I liked her. 


I will be reading more of this series.

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text 2018-01-19 14:46
Pendragon - Book Review

3/5 stars


The legend of Arthur is one that has lived through history. Mike Weatherley brings the legend back to life in the form of a military officer who lost his entire family. While wishing for death, he remembers the stories that his father told him when he was younger. As he heads off in search of the raiders who killed his family, he hopes for death wishing to get back to his wife.
As he works through the countryside, he comes to another military unit, one that bears his family name. He and his brother do some quick talking, and Ambrose manages to pull the ancient sword from its sheath on the alter. Everyone is silent, as they stare at the man who has become their new Arthur. 
Leading the troops through the countryside, they come to the rescue of the countryside who have been harried by the Anglo-Saxon pirates. Ambrose is after just one though, the one who left a silver horse in his wife's hand. He found it on her body as he prepared her for burial. 

While Weatherley is a little wordy, the book was really good. There were a few places that were slightly historically inaccurate, but the book in itself does a great job in setting up the legend of Arthur to take off on another spin. Get ready for another dive into folklore. I cant wait to see what follows this one!


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review 2018-01-19 07:44
Pomfret Towers
Pomfret Towers - Angela Thirkell

This is the 3rd Angela Thirkell I've read so far (and finished - I DNF'd one last year), and it is, by far, the most biting, painfully hilarious of the lot yet.  I say painfully because all those moments you wish would happen in books, when the evil/nasty/rude character is at work, happen in this book.  But I almost dnf'd this one too, because it doesn't start off well at all.


At the opening, it appears that the narrative (3rd person omniscient, btw) is going to focus primarily on Alice Barton, a character so Mary Sue that the Mary Sue trope should have been named Alice Barton.  She is ridiculous; frankly, she's barely functioning.  As I write this, it occurs to me that in current times, she might have been thought to be agoraphobic; she isn't, she's just terrified of everything beyond belief.  


Fortunately the biting humor was making me laugh or giggle too often, so I kept on and discovered the story rapidly becomes an ensemble, and even though Alice continues to get more page time than the rest, her growing confidence makes her a tiny bit more bearable.  Tiny bit.  Fair warning, by the end of the book she's still pretty ridiculous. 


But along the way, Thirkell does something interesting with Alice; something very unexpected from what I know of her Barsetshire books.  She uses Alice's character to sniff around the edges of masochism and emotional abuse.  Just the edges, mind you; events that would seem inconsequential or pathetic on their own start to add up to a disturbing pattern, and Thirkell writes a scene or two where her friends discuss her pattern of behaviour quite frankly.  This doesn't go anywhere, of course; this book's destiny was to be a frivolous, entertainment, so of course everything works out in the end.  But given the time it takes place (~1930), I found it to be an unexpected and interesting thread and raised the story's merit in my estimation.


The end was a tad trite, and could only be expected, but my rating stands because, man, this book was funny.

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text 2018-01-18 14:03
Reading progress update: I've read 365 out of 858 pages.
Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry

I just finished my weekly page count and after a slow start this book is getting better and better. By now we have been introduced to two different sets of characters, who I´m sure are going to cross paths along the way. 


My favorite character so far is Gus, who I suspect of having a heart of gold, even though he can be annoying. And I have a soft spot for Roscoe. His storyline is so much fun and he is so clueless about women and life in general.


Every now and then there are racist and misogynistic remarks, but I expected this before starting this novel (it is set in late 19th century Texas and it has a very male-centric narrative). But that doesn´t mean that the few female characters are weak, quite the contrary. I really like Lorena, who doesn´t accept the BS from Jake, the pathetic whimp.



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