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Search tags: female-pov
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review 2018-02-21 01:13
The Essence of Malice (Amory Ames, #4)
The Essence of Malice - Ashley Weaver

Meh-ish.  It would have been much, much better if Weaver hadn't dragged me through Amory's marriage angst for most of the story.  I'd rather thought we'd left all that crap behind, but I was wrong.  Milo's an ass.  She absolutely should have dumped him for the guy in book 1; there might have been less passion for Amory, but the readers would have had to put up with a lot less fretting.  I hate fretting.

 

Beyond all that trying nonsense though, is a good mystery and setting.  When Amory wasn't wringing her hands over her ass of a husband, she was interacting with interesting characters in 1920s/30s Paris.  Even better, the story centers on the perfume industry, which I found intriguing.

 

The plotting was...  it was good but also a cheat.  Weaver cheated.  She didn't write a mystery readers can solve because she withholds information from both her characters and her readers.  This doesn't generally bother me when the story is good, but it is cheating, strictly speaking, and it was so blatantly done one can't help but notice it.  

 

So:  good story marred by a lot of anxious fretting, an ass of a romantic interest, and a mystery nobody has a hope in hell of solving.

 

Oddly enough after reading through this, I'm still on board for the next book.  If Amory and Milo can't sort their shit out and grow up though, I'm out.

 

 

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review 2018-02-20 21:48
A stubborn modern-day heroine who learns a lesson or two along the way.
The Royal Deal (Chasing the Romantics, a Series of Original Fairy Tales Book 1) - Rosalind Driver

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, check here if you want to get your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for the ARC copy of the book, which I freely chose to review.

I love fairy tales. I know some of the classic ones are cruel, harsh, and less than politically correct, but I do love them. And I am always intrigued by new versions of old fairy tales, or completely new fairy tales.

This short fairy tale has elements of the classics: a King and father, insisting that his daughter must marry the man of his choice (for political reasons); a Princess and daughter, Faith, who wants to follow her heart (she hardly knows Jaeger, the young prince she is due to marry. She always assumed she would marry the older, more mature, Mikhail, who is known for his caring attitude towards his people, although she does not know him well either); a challenge/mission… This time, the princess is not just passively waiting for a prince to come and rescue her (although she hopes Mikhail, who has been missing for a long time, will come back before her 19th birthday when she is supposed to get married). She decides to go to her father and make a deal with him. She wants to prove that she is not a useless thing that needs looking after. Her father agrees that if she can survive for three months in the forest, without any outside help, she will be free to marry whomever, whenever.

Faith is headstrong, rushed, and impulsive. She knows that she lives a life where she is totally dependent on others, (princesses don’t even get dressed by themselves), and has been trying to learn how to do things for herself, but she soon realises she has not thought things through. She should have negotiated the conditions of her deal to her advantage (she does not even have appropriate shoes to wear, does not know how to light a fire, and has no weapons to defend herself from wild animals or any other dangers she might encounter).

Faith learns a lot in the three months she spends in the forest. She meets a hermit who helps her (despite her insistence that she does not want to cheat); she realises that she must think before she acts and that we need to learn to walk before we can run. Her beliefs are put to the test, as are her prejudices, and although she knows she has a specific role to play due to her position in life and she is not free to do as she likes, she cannot help but end up feeling quite close to the hermit.

The story, written in the third person, is made up of vivid vignettes illustrating both, Faith’s life in the castle at first, and then her attempts at survival in the forest (mostly unsuccessful and lucky escapes, including a lovely interlude with a bear cub). This is not a story about a girl who suddenly discovers she is good at everything and has a natural talent to survive in the wild. She makes mistakes, is sorely unprepared, and keeps getting into trouble. She is about to give up but the hermit helps her and convinces her to keep going. The story dedicates much more time to the first couple of days when we meet Faith and she goes into the forest, than it does to the rest of the three months. Although there are some stirrings of a possible romance, and Faith has to admit to having developed feelings for the hermit, she is more passionate about tasting some chocolate after not having tried it for a few months than she is about any of the men in her life.

As some other reviewers have noted, this is no magical fairy tale, this is the tale of a determined (obstinate?) girl who learns the value of being prepared, of working hard for what you want, and of being truly independent.

The big reveal will not be a surprise to most readers, although it does tie things up nicely, and the actual ending, which some readers feel is a bit rushed, I thought made perfect sense and proved that Faith had learned from her experience and grown up.

The actual fairy tale is shorter than the e-book length suggests, as it contains a sample of the next fairy tale in the series (that looks quite good too).

An original fairy tale, which could facilitate interesting discussions about female role models (beware of the mention of her purity, which might be difficult to explain to very young kids), and the first of what looks like a very interesting series.

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review 2018-02-17 11:00
The Powerful Heritage of a Woman: The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier
The Loving Spirit - Daphne du Maurier

In spite of its title, the novel The Loving Spirit isn’t just another one of those shallow romances set in the picturesque landscape of Cornwall that swamp the book market. Much rather the English novel from 1931 is a family saga with obvious echoes of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and poetry.

 

Spanning a hundred years, it shows the fate of four generations of the Coombie family starting in 1830 with wild Janet whose boundless love not only marks her own life but also that of her descendants... including that of her unloved son who makes a fortune to gain power and have his revenge to the very last. But he can't destroy the strong seed that Janet planted.

 

Please click here to read my long review on Edith’s Miscellany!

Source: edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-17 10:04
Playing Beatie Bow
Playing Beatie Bow - Ruth Park

An Australian YA book from the 80's, this was a RL book club read.  Though not science-fiction so much as historical time-travel, the book feels akin to the Australian equivalent of A Wrinkle in Time.

 

Abigail is an unhappy 14 year old, bitter and bratty after her parents' separation.  She spends time with her next-door neighbour, Justine, helping her out by taking Justine's two kids to the playground, where the youngest, Natalie, likes to watch the other kids play a game called 'Beatie Bow'; a cross between Bloody Mary and tag.  Natalie and Abigail notice another child that only watches, the 'furry girl' that stands in the shadows.  One day, Abigail sees the girl and approaches her, then gives chase as the girl runs away.  As she runs down the street, she suddenly finds herself in 1873, stuck there until she helps the furry girl, who turns out to be Beatie Bow, and her family figure out how to save the family 'Gift'.  

 

More than a few of my friends here consider this a beloved classic, so imagine my chagrin when I showed up to book club and had to admit I didn't like it.  Fortunately, I wasn't alone.  The book has a lot going for it: the writing is beautiful, the setting evocative; Park puts you in Sydney in 1873, and let me tell you, it's filthy.  Park won the Australian Book of the Year Award in 1981 and it was well deserved.  

 

But...I don't like time travel books, I'm not a fan of the dark edge so prevalent in even Australian YA, and most unfortunate of all, I didn't like a single character in this book.  Abigail was a spoiled, whiney, brat; Beattie Bow was too ornery to be considered charming and the rest didn't get enough page time to be anything other that friendly shadows.  Abigail's first love was just too trite; I couldn't buy it, it was all too neat and pat (although to be fair, I might have totally bought it when I was 12). 

 

The book is a worthy read, I just wasn't the right audience for it. 

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review 2018-02-16 09:30
A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3)
A Treacherous Curse - Deanna Raybourn

I love Veronica Speedwell.  Her character is almost everything I admire in a person, with the exceptions of her penchants for collecting butterflies, necessitating her killing them, and her need to verbalise her sexual liberty.  This isn't hypocrisy on my part; I think it's distasteful when men make their sexual needs topics of casual conversation, and it's no less so when a woman does it.  Boundaries.  Good fences make good neighbours and all that.

 

But these are very minor niggles.  Everything else about Veronica is excellent and Stoker doesn't suck either.  Raybourn has found that perfect balance of rawness, gentility, intelligence, anger, and grace in her hero (although I have to say, what's up with the eye patch? Is that really considered sexy?  I see one and have to resist the urge to pull it and watch it snap back).  The dialog between the two of them is snappy and sometimes electric.  There's no doubt as to where these two are headed, but Raybourn is taking her time sending them there, and doing it well enough that I, for one, feel no impatience for them to get on with it already.

 

The mystery plot is the only thing that held this book back a bit for me.  It succeeded in terms of leaving me guessing until the very end, but honestly it was so convoluted that I stopped trying to figure it out about halfway through and just focused on the characters until the end.  That's not necessarily a criticism; this is a strong book just on the merits of being an engrossing work of historical fiction.  But my enjoyment came from the story first, with the mystery an afterthought.

 

Sadly, I'm going to have to wait an entire year for the fourth book.  But I'll be looking forward to it with anticipation.

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