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review 2017-07-11 19:37
A TALE OF TWO CITIES Review
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

I'd somehow, up to this point, never read A Tale of Two Cities. I know, I can't believe it either. 

Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution and the years leading up to it, this is, at its very core, a romance novel. I was a little shocked by that, but I certainly didn't mind. Dickens's writing is simply breathtaking, and he never allows the characters' actions to become contrived. These people aren't saccharine cutouts, as is typical of romance novels (even from this era). Instead, it's a roomy, elegant story told with magnificent prose and populated with memorable characters. 

Most Dickens novels drag a bit (at least, the few I've read do), but this one doesn't. Not at all. From its iconic opening passage to the final chapter, the plot is pretty quick and doesn't get bogged down in an excessive amount of characters and subplots (looking at you, Our Mutual Friend). Instead, Dickens focuses on only a handful of characters and develops them fully. By the novel's third part I was truly invested in their lives, and wanted to know how everything would turn out. I truly cared! When reading most novels from the Victorian Age, I find myself a little put off by their chilliness, their dust and age. Not here. A Tale of Two Citiesfeels rather progressive and is very emotionally involving. 

If I were to critique this novel, I would say perhaps Dickens sacrificed a full exploration of the time period he was writing about to, instead, focus on his characters. I would've loved to have seen more build-up to the Revolution, though what the reader does get is fine. I could've done with more guillotine scenes myself. 

So far, this is my favorite Dickens novel — though I have many to read yet. This one certainly deserves its classic status, and I can't wait to give it a reread in a few years.

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review 2017-06-19 04:37
Finding love lifts them from despair
An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities) - KJ Charles

Dark and unusual story, second in a series with a common thread. This is Nathaniel's story as he tries to help find the people behind his friends' troubles. He encounters Justin when he attempts to debunk a seance. Justin is one of the most unhappy people ever. Their relationship is adversarial, touching, and just what they each need. Danger brings them closer and shows what is really important. I really enjoyed this story, and look forward to more from this author.

I received a copy of this story through Netgalley, and this is my unsolicited review.

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review 2017-06-12 09:38
The Ground Beneath Us: From the Oldest Cities to the Last Wilderness, What Dirt Tells Us About Who We Are by Paul Bogard
The Ground Beneath Us: From the Oldest Cities to the Last Wilderness, What Dirt Tells Us About Who We Are - Paul Bogard

This book was disappointing. This book is 95% biographical anecdote (which got boring after a while) and 5% science, environmentalism and politics explained in the most vague manner possible. I also found the book somewhat disjointed.  The message this author wishes to convey is important, he just doesn't do the subject justice.

Other recommended books:


- Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations by David R. Montgomery
- Earth Matters: How Soil Underlies Civilization by Richard D. Bardgett
- Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization by Richard Manning
- Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival? A Scientific Detective Story by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, John Peterson Myers
- What Has Nature Ever Done for Us?: How Money Really Does Grow on Trees by Tony Juniper

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review 2017-06-12 05:28
An Unnatural Vice by KJ Charles - My Thoughts
An Unnatural Vice - K.J. Charles

I honestly have yet to be disappointed in a KJ Charles book.  An Unnatural Vice continues that positive string.  It was terrific!

In An Unnatural Vice, we get the story of Nathaniel Roy who we met in the first book of the series, a friend of Clem's, the illegitimate earl's son and a journalist.  He's out to expose a spiritualist, Justin Lazarus, who just happens to be tied to the over-arching plot of the trilogy.

Of course, the two men are drawn to each other despite their mutual distrust.  There's just some kind of spark that quickly grows into a bonfire and it works!  It's not insta-love, it's insta-lust.  And that's okay because the author is just that good that we can see why they're so drawn to each other and it makes sense.

Alot of the reviews etc... that I've read of this book indicate that Justin is a total bastard, but you know what?  I never saw him that way. Yes, he's not exactly an honest or upright man, but it's clear from the beginning, at least it was to me, that he had his own code of morals and while they might not be all pure and altruistic, they are constant and he lives by them.  Sure, he makes his living by bilking what folks would consider innocent people, but those were the cards he was dealt and what was the alternative?  So no, I didn't think he was a right bastard at all.

I will say that Justin was the more intriguing character of  the two men.  Nathaniel, the crusading journalist doesn't have many grey areas and at times he even came across as a tad snotty about being 'the good guy', but he's also charming and amusingly deprecating at times and this warmed me to him. He is really the perfect foil for Justin and the two of them falling in love was fun to read.

There is lots of action, both in and out of the bedroom and the mystery plot barrels along to an interesting and satisfying second act climax.  I am looking forward to Book 3 - already pre-ordered, something I very seldom do - and seeing what comes of Mark, another of the friends, the private investigator, excuse me, the private enquiry agent and Pen, the young man he's discovered.  I only have to wait until October.  :)

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review 2017-06-10 18:47
An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities) - KJ Charles

Nathaniel is an investigative reporter and he wants to expose Justin who was a spiritualist who is a fraud. Justin calls himself the Seer of London. However when Nathaniel went to a seance Justin gives him the name of Tony - who had been Nathaniel's partner  but had died five years ago. Justin has pulled himself up from the gutter and has no sympathy for the grieving and gullible people who come to him for spiritual guidance from the other world. Justin and Nathaniel hated each other but  somehow were still very attracted to each other. Justin and Nathaniel become lovers and end up having to go to Nathaniel’s country estate to run from a murderer.

I didn’t really care for this book I don't like to read gay literature. I have gay friends just don’t want to read about  homosexual sex and love

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