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review 2017-01-31 01:24
The Galloway Road by Catherine Adams
The Galloway Road - Catherine Adams

Renna is a young mage on her way to her first job. Her traveling companions include a pair of musicians specifically requested by Renna’s new employer, plus Brett, the mercenary hired to protect them all. Brett is closed mouthed about himself and his past, and Renna has secrets of her own. However, none of that may matter if they can't manage to survive the Galloway Road’s deadly horrors.

This story takes place over the course of 11 days and mostly features the group traveling from one inn to another. The beginning was boring, dull, and a little confusing, although the Galloway Road’s creepy atmosphere eventually grew on me, as did Renna and Brett (sort of). A word of warning: some of the descriptions are gruesome. The Galloway Road is called that because it's lined with gallows and gibbets. Sometimes the people Renna, Brett, and the musicians pass are dead, and sometimes they're not. Honestly, if I had been Renna or the musicians, Galloway Road alone would have had me questioning the wisdom of agreeing to work for Lord Galloway.

Okay, on to the characters. The musicians made so little of an impact on me that I had to check the story just to make sure I had the number of characters right - I had thought there were three musicians, not two. Brett was an intriguing character, apparently competent and yet prone to self-destructive behavior (he’d been banned from at least one or two inns because of his drinking). Renna...was just there. I never felt like I really knew her beyond the most surface level. I did gasp at the big revelation about her, but that was in large part because I hadn’t noticed any sign of it in her behavior or thoughts up to that point. This bugged me a bit, because the event had happened so recently. I suppose it could be explained away as emotional numbness on her part, but still.

The main reason I got this story was because it was one of Less Than Three Press’s recent releases in their “asexual” category. Renna was asexual, possibly homoromantic depending on the specifics of her feelings for her best friend. There was a hint of something that might have been ace-related angst - at one point, Renna wondered if she was “stone-hearted, cruel-hearted” (37). It was a bit ambiguous, though, and might have also been inspired by the thing that happened shortly before she was hired by Lord Galloway. I honestly don’t know.

I appreciated what this story tried to do, but overall my reaction was just “meh.” I didn’t care enough about the characters for the ending to have the kind of emotional impact that it should have had. Also, I hate to say this, but I laughed a bit during some of the events in the tomb. I know that stuff was probably supposed to be horrifying/scary, but I kept imagining B-movie special effects.

Rating Note:

I might have opted to give this 3 stars if I had rated and reviewed it right after finishing it. However, my thoughts have had time to settle, and I think 2 stars is more appropriate. There just wasn't enough there in terms of content, characters, or world-building.

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

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review 2014-06-16 13:02
The other Mrs. Adams
Louisa Catherine: The Other Mrs. Adams - Margery M. Heffron,David L. Michelmore

Intelligent, cultured, capable, fluent in several languages, and the only First Lady born outside the United States, Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams is less well known but, based on this biography, every bit as interesting as her mother-in-law Abigail. Louisa and her husband John Quincy Adams were devoted to each other, but not always happy together. Born to an American father and a British mother, Louisa married John Quincy when she was still very young and for years had to yield most decisions about their lives to her husband, a state of affairs that contributed to her bouts of ill health, but when called upon to act or make decisions she rose to the challenge showing initiative, insight, and determination, and when allowed more autonomy than conventions dictated her health always seemed to improve.

 

In the early years of their marriage John Quincy held diplomatic posts in Berlin, St. Petersburg, and London, posts that didn’t pay well since the United States was still in its infancy. With limited resources Louisa was forced to be resourceful and inventive in order to put together fashionable outfits suitable for court events, but no matter. With her wit, skill at dancing, and fluency in French she charmed everyone, including royals (except for George IV who ignored her, but the Regency Prince wasn’t necessarily someone a lady wanted to be chummy with.)  Louisa’s life circumstances give this book a unique angle on history, and the detailed, colorful picture of pre-Victorian nineteenth century life in some of Europe’s most exciting capitals is one of this book’s many pleasures. Just as fascinating are the book’s chapters set in the early, still rough and tumble Washington, DC, where ruts in the city streets were sometimes deep enough to overturn carriages. In Washington Louisa became John Quincy’s unofficial political strategist, throwing highly sought out parties that helped position him for his presidential run.

 

But the very most exciting part of the book for me is Louisa’s rushed and treacherous winter journey from St Petersburg to Paris, where she and her six-year-old son were to join John Quincy. Without her husband there to take charge, Louisa proved just how capable she could be on a trip that became more dangerous as it went along. First there was the early darkness and icy weather, then the battle scarred devastation and political chaos caused by Napoleon's army, and finally before she made it to Paris Napoleon himself escaped from Elba and crazed partisans overran Louisa's route, repeatedly halting her coach with threatening demands for proof of her loyalties.

 

Louisa Catherine: The Other Mrs. Adams captivated me and my only complaint is that at 356 pages it’s too short, ending just as John Quincy Adams became president after the very controversial election of 1825. Author Margery M. Heffron had planned a longer book but passed away before it could be finished. A joy to read anyway, Heffron’s book has whet my appetite for more about Louisa, and I’d also dearly love to read a book about Louisa’s lively and equally intriguing sisters who are introduced in this volume. There is already at least one other book about Louisa in print, Michael O’Brien’s Mrs. Adams in Winter, and since it covers the forty days Louisa was traveling from St. Petersburg to Paris it’s become a must-read for me.

 

Source: jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/906862/the-other-mrs-adams
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