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Search tags: historical-fiction-WWI
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review 2018-01-16 19:33
Review: Under A Prairie Moon
Under a Prairie Moon - Madeline Baker

3.5 Stars.

 

This was not at all what I expected.  I was in the mood for a historical Indian romance, but I never expected ghosts, curses and time travel!  I just opened up a book with a title that sounded interesting and this is what I got.  The story was surprisingly interesting.  A man is betrayed and killed for a crime he didn't commit so he put a curse on the people who killed him and their land.  And boy did the curse ever stick!  Fast-forward 125 years to a woman who was recently widowed by a descendant of the cursed family, and she has now come into ownership of the very cursed ranch.

 

Somehow, after having haunted the place since his death 125 years prior, he finally meets someone who can see him.  After accepting the fact that she has a ghosting haunting her ranch, the two become friends.  She, Kathy, convinces him, Dalton, to tell her about his life so that she can write it all down.  Between spending time doing that and rebuilding the ranch, they fall in love and inexplicably get sent back to his time to right the wrongs done him and to take care of unfinished business.

 

I enjoyed the story even with all the modern-day mixed into it.  I never thought I would enjoy a time travel historical romance, but this pleasantly surprised me.  It was a sweet tale with a happy ending.

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review 2018-01-16 04:47
Trope soup, and not in an entertaining way.
Someone To Love (A Westcott Novel) - Mary Balogh

I finally hit my DNF point about 60% through when I realised that I was never going to reconcile myself to the fact that the hero, an English duke raised in England, was secretly a king fu master. My level of BUT WHY!? was too high for anything but the most riveting of adventures to keep me going, and nothing else in this book was that. (But why is: when he was studying at... Harrow or somewhere... he met a Chinese martial arts master by chance and he taught him the secrets of kung fu. The book answered none of the questions I had about that, most of which revolved around why it was a plot point at all).

 

The rest of the hero's (non kung fu related) persona revolved around being very rich, very fashionable and very bored. I feel like the author maybe watched the  Anthony Andrews version of The Scarlet Pimpernel one too many times (not that there's anything wrong with that!)

 

Meanwhile the heroine was raised in one of those Quaker Anarchist orphanages that don't teach you about the class system, so she hits finding out that she's the legitimate daughter of an Earl with zero knowledge of anything, and proceeds to insist on being simple and true to herself and as good as anyone and hiring all her friends as maids. ("A Quaker Anarchist is guided through London society by a Kung Fu master," quoth a friend, "that sounds pretty good, actually." YOU WOULD THINK SO! Alas, the author doesn't lean into it.)

 

One would think that the 1810s would be a perfect time to declare war on ruffles, given the neoclassical turn in women's fashion around then, but the author disagrees, and claims that All The Other Girls dressed in an overly fussy manner (I was pretty confused about the period generally. Queen Charlotte is on the throne, and they're at war in France, but it's all ruffled dresses and dancing the waltz. WHEN IS THIS SET!?).

 

I may be obsessing over details? It may be because I don't care about the plot? Since there's literally no conflict and next to no romantic tension between the main characters? This underlined by all scenes being told and retold two or three times. In any case, enough is enough.

 

WHY WAS HE A KUNG FU MASTER? WHY!?

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review 2018-01-15 21:36
The Women in the Castle
The Women in the Castle - Jessica Shattuck

Three women are bound together by fate and their husbands choices made during World War II.  The husbands of Marianne von Lingenfels, Benita Fledermann and Ania Grabarek were all involved in the failed plot to assassinate Hitler in July of 1944.  Appointed "the Commander of Wives and Children" by her husband, Marrianne takes her duties seriously and decides to round up those she can find in the aftermath of the War in the relative safety of her family castle, Burg Lingenfels.  While Marianne succeeds at the impossible task of finding the dispersed  women and children, her harsh steadfastness combined with Benita's gentle inward intuitiveness, Ania's survival drive and the children's collective shock makes for a difficult group to have under one roof.   The secrets that each woman must keep combined with their sense of camaraderie creates  a very different post war experience for Marianne, Benita and Ania.


The Women in the Castle is an epic story that creates a great range of feelings and complicated and scenarios.   It also shines a light on the role of women and children before and after the war, but more importantly, the resistors.  In thinking of the heroes of World War II, I don't often think of the Germans who were strong enough to resist Hitler's pull, even in little ways.  All of the women's characters were strongly developed and I enjoyed that they showed their strength in different ways.  At first, I was pulled toward Marianne's conviction and dedication to her task, but as each woman's story unfolded and the layers peeled away, I felt more and more connected to their stories and understood their reasoning.  The writing does jump back and forth through time and each woman's perspective.  Keeping track of the time jumps and point of view can become a bit confusing; however, you do learn things at appropriate times instead of being bombarded with too much information at once.  There are many, many more things I could say about this book, but most importantly, it provides a different perspective of World War II, and comments on the importance of friendship, compassion and resistance.

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review 2018-01-15 17:28
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Mackenzi Lee

It is impossible to explain how you can love someone so much that it’s difficult to be around him. And with Percy sitting there, half in shadow, his hair loose and his long legs and those eyes I could have lived and died in, it feels like there’s a space inside me that is so bright it burns.

 

This book is absolutely beautiful.  And for this to be on mainstream shelves makes me very happy.  I fell in love with all of these characters, and Monty's inner voice was heartbreaking and frustrating at the same time.  A character who for the most part grows into a man over the course of this adventure, despite the demons this boy carries. The writing is simply magnificient.

 

Perhaps he can’t understand it, the way that house will always be haunted for me, even if my father were gone from it. I can’t imagine living in it for the rest of my life, throwing parties in its parlors and filling the cabinets with my papers, all the while ignoring the dark spot on the dining room floor that’s never washed away, where I tore my chin open when my father knocked me to the ground with a single well-swung fist; or the hearth that chipped my tooth when I was thrown into it. There are bodies buried beneath the flagstones of my parents’ estate, and some graves never green.

 

 

I do wish we had also gotten sweet Percy's POV or a final scene between Monty and his father. I can only hope that we will get a third book to this series and perhaps a continuation of these boys as they grow further in their love for one another and continue to grow into the men they have become, standing on their own in a world so unaccepting of their love.

 

 

Felicity's story it seems is next. I am quite excited to see her continued adventures, perhaps with the "pirates" as she also looks to stand as a woman of purpose in a time where socially her worth has been predetermined.

 

 

 

Such amazingly developed fan art to accompany this beautiful journey.

 

Highly recommended.

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review 2018-01-15 02:29
Hidden Pasts by Clio Gray

A very big thanks to Urbane Publications and NetGalley who provided this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

 

I will start by saying that I found it a difficult story to connect with.  To be fair, I have not read the first two books in the series so perhaps doing so would have helped me invest more in the characters and their stories.  Certainly the overall theme of solving mysteries in remote parts of Scotland in the 1800’s is interesting and apparently the first two books also follow the same main characters found in this third instalment of the series.

 

While a bit short on character development, the mystery itself is a good one.  Unfortunately, because I couldn’t connect with the characters, it was difficult for me to feel any urgency about solving the mystery.  The story takes place in the 1860’s and starts with Brogar Finn and Sholto McKay sailing from Fort William to a remote part of Scotland as representatives of a company that is finalizing a deal to buy Hestan Island and the small copper mine on it.

 

The story is filled with various characters who allude to a mystery that they have been covering up since the Crimean War.  Central to this mystery are Kerr Perdue and Gabriel Merryweather who live on the island under agreement from their old friend who they fought with in the Crimean War, James Heron’s late father, where “something” happened that they have been covering up for 30 years.  When a murder occurs on the island, past collides with present and Brogar and Sholto are driven to uncover all.

 

I love stories that take place in remote parts of Scotland.  Peter May is one of my favourite authors and his Lewis Trilogy contains some of the best descriptions of remote Scotland I’ve ever read.  In similar fashion, this story has some great descriptions of Hestan Island, the Solway Firth and the surrounding area.  Again, the problem that I have with the book is character development.  There are lots of characters and a number of different story arcs but without feeling something for the people involved, I found it difficult to care about whether they found the answers they were looking for.

 

This book will be published on January 18th of this year.  Now that I’ve read the book, I wish that I had gone back and started with the first in the series.  I have to believe that understanding more about the characters and their backstories would help me care more about them in this third installment.

 

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