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text 2017-04-07 23:00
Tim Pigott-Smith
Travels With My Aunt - Graham Greene

I just learned of the passing of Tim Pigott-Smith. :(

 

He was a fine actor and I always looked out for audiobooks he narrated as he had a great way with voices.

 

The first audiobook I had of his was Graham Greene's Travels with My Aunt and it is only a fitting tribute that I should repeat that listening experience this weekend.

 

The re-read, or re-listen, is on!

 

(Oh, and Lillelara may have helped with the re-read decision, too ;) )

 

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review 2017-04-05 04:28
fun read, gritty story
His Rip-Roarin' Bride (Texan Brides) - Martha Hix

This was a fun read. Lisa-Ann comes in guns blazing and ends up in jail. Wes is the sheriff and had to carry out his duty. As they talk and spend time together, they draw closer to each other. Their lives do not run smoothly as danger and secrets abound. Lisa-Ann is not your typical heroine and fights to prove who she really is. Wes is a sweet man, honest and understanding. He fights for Lisa-Ann and what is right. I recommend this story.

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

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review 2016-12-31 02:04
#CBR8 Book 133: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows
My Lady Jane - Brodi Ashton,Jodi Meadows,Cynthia Hand

According to history, when King Edward VI, Henry VIII's son died young and childless, certain noblemen who wanted to make sure a ruler of the Protestant faith ruled the country put his young cousin Lady Jane Gray on the throne. She ruled for nine days, before Mary Tudor arrived with her armies, removed the poor girl and had her beheaded. This book bears a vague resemblance to that story.

In the England of this story, the conflict in England isn't between Catholics and Protestants, it's between non-shapeshifters, also known as Verities, and shapeshifters, better known as eðians (pronounced eethians). King Henry VIII himself turned into a great big lion, on occasion, but even so, the eðians are generally hunted and distrusted by the populace in general. Princess Mary is staunchly against them and want them all killed, while young King Edward and his best friend and cousin, Lady Jane Grey read everything they can about them and would like nothing more than to discover eðian abilities of their own.

Sadly, Edward appears to be dying. He has been told by Lord Dudley, his chief adviser and his physicians that he's suffering from "the affliction" and that he is unlikely to have long, certainly not long enough to marry and produce a male heir. Luckily Dudley has a plan to secure a succession that will make sure an eðian-friendly ruler ends up on the English trone. He suggests that Edward change the line of succession to ensure that his cousin Lady Jane's heirs inherit. Of course, Jane needs to be married to produce heirs, but Dudley has just the candidate. His younger son, Gifford. There is the minor difficulty that Gifford Dudley is an eðian and spends every day from sunup to sunset as a magnificent stallion, but any heirs would be conceived at night anyways, so Dudley is sure Jane wouldn't mind too much.

When the extremely intellectual Jane finds out that she's to be married off within a few days, she travels to the Dudley estate (carrying with her a suitable supply of books to entertain her) to meet her intended. Unfortunately, because of some rather shameful nightly pursuits, Gifford (just call him G) has let it be known that he's a rampant womaniser. It's more socially acceptable than what he gets up to. Hence his older brother mistakes Jane for one of his younger brother's many suspected floozies and Jane believes her impending husband is a lecherous libertine (he's not, he's actually a poet). Nor does anyone deem it appropriate to tell her about her husband's eðian status, so she has quite the surprise the morning after her wedding, when the groom turns into a big horse in the middle of her bedroom.

As Edward takes a rapid turn for the worse shortly after the wedding, his sister Elizabeth warns him that he mustn't trust his physicians and he realises that Dudley is up to no good, and that Jane may be in terrible danger as well.

This is a delightful farce of a book, where we follow the points of view of Edward, Jane and G (he never liked the name Gifford) as the story progresses. Since there are three authors, I suspect each of them took one character and wrote their sections. Having loosely based the first half on actual historical events (if you ignore the shapeshifters), the second half is pure fantasy and a lot of fun. The book is clearly inspired by The Princess Bride, with the narrators occasionally interrupting the narrative to address the reader directly. Readers will recognise that most of Gifford's poetry is strikingly similar to that of one William Shakespeare. There is humour reminiscent of Monty Python and Blackadder, while at least one plot development brings to mind the lovely Ladyhawke, one of my favourite eighties movies (I'd love to get a version with a non-synthy soundtrack).

I've seen this book included on several best of 2016 lists, and while I'm not sure I enjoyed it enough to include it in my top ten of the year, it's a very enjoyable romp from start to finish. My one complaint is that the book is a bit long and I think some of the parts in the second half could have been edited a bit more. As a huge fan of Tudor history in general, and having always been sympathetic to poor Lady Jane, the nine days queen, who really didn't have much choice in the matter and was a political pawn her entire life, it was nice to see a story that reimagines a much happier ending for her. Possibly not the book for you if you take your history very seriously, but highly recommended for anyone who wants a fun, creative and irreverent reimagining of history.

Judging a book by its cover: While on first look, this may seem like any old historical novel, with your red-headed girl in Tudor era clothing and a big red font bringing your attention to the title, you need only take a closer look to see that there's more here. In little "hand-written notes" and arrows pointing to the girl on the cover, the writers explain that "Sometimes history gets it all wrong". The other notes say "It's not easy being queen" and "Off with her head".

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-133-my-lady-jane-by-cynthia.html
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review 2016-12-26 01:01
#CBR8 Book 122: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Six of Crows - David LeDoux,Jay Snyder,Roger Clark,Lauren Fortgang,Elizabeth Evans,Leigh Bardugo,Tristan Morris,Audible Studios,Brandon Rubin From Goodreads: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price - and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone... A convict with a thirst for revenge A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager A runaway with a privileged past A spy known as the Wraith A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction - if they don't kill each other first. Kaz Brekker, teenage criminal mastermind, is offered an unbelievable sum of money to retrieve a scientist from the impenetrable and fiercely guarded Fjerdan Ice Court. The mission is pretty much an impossible task and almost certainly a suicide mission. He gathers a crew of other teenage outcasts, but just pulling the crew together and getting out of Ketterdam involves a prison break, multiple disguises, near-death experiences and explosions. Even as though it got better with each book, I was not as impressed with Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy as some seem to have been. I never really invested all that much in the characters, the attempts at romance fell flat for me, but I did very much like the world building and magic systems established. In Six of Crows Bardugo takes everything that worked in her first trilogy and expands on it, showing us not only alternate fantasy versions of Russia, but of a sort of 19th Century Netherlands, as well as showing us the Fjerdans, who are pretty much really magic-hating Scandinavians. In addition to exciting new locations, she creates a thrilling and extremely intricate plot and populates it with an amazing cast of characters. This book has six protagonists, and five different main narrators (Kaz, Inej, Nina, Jesper and Matthias), plus some additional points of view in the prologue and epilogue. In the audio book, the narrators are all very distinct, which helps you follow the labyrinthine plot. A good heist plot is a wonderful thing and this book has been compared with Oceans 11 by a lot of people. The first third of the book establishes the mission and has Kaz assembling his band of criminally minded misfits, then it moves at break-neck speed onto the heist itself, where the stakes are high, every member of the group has their own agenda and there are a number of rival factions who may beat them to their prize. I got this audiobook last year, in a Daily Deal, but made myself wait to listen to it until after I'd finished the Grisha trilogy. There are minor references to Bardugo's first series, but nothing that is essential and all the Grisha magic is still nicely explained, so you can easily follow the story even if you haven't read the trilogy. Even if it's a long book, I got through it relatively quickly and listened to it every chance I got. I can highly recommend the audio and if you like good, action-packed, adventure fantasy, you should absolutely check this book out. Judging a book by its cover: When I reviewed the final two books in the Grisha trilogy, I was very enthusiastic about the covers. I'm not sure exactly what sacrifices Ms. Bardugo has done to the gods of cover design, but they have heard her loud and clear. The beautiful silhouette of a city, while also showing a flying crow's wing and a sky full of stars, it's so beautiful and I want to own these books, not just as audio or in e-format, but in physical paper copies so I can admire the covers fully.
Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-122-six-of-crows-by-leigh.html
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review 2016-12-26 00:55
#CBR8 Book 121: Storm's Heart by Thea Harrison
Storm's Heart - Thea Harrison

I read this TWO months ago, and need to get through this ever-increasing review backlog, hence resorting to the blurb once more:

During the rule of her murderous Dark Fae uncle, Thistle "Tricks" Periwinkle found sanctary among the Wyr in New York. Her ethereal beauty and sparkling personality won the hearts of the public, but after her uncle's death, there are those who don't want to see her ascend to the throne. 

Able to wield thunder and lightning, Wyr sentinel Thiago Black Eagle has ruled the skies for centuries. His massive build and thunderous power makes him one of the Wyr's best weapons. And he's sent to protect Tricks when she's almost assassinated in Chicago.

Soon, both Tiago and Tricks will fall prey to the stormy hunger that engulfs them - a passion that will shake the very foundation of all the worlds. 

Last year, I read and really enjoyed Dragon Bound, the first of Thea Harrison's Elder Races paranormal romance series. This book, which features some of the supporting characters of the first book, Tricks, the petite and outgoing fae PR representative for Dragos, the super-Alpha dragon shifter whose the hero in book one, and Thiago, one of his main security guys, who happens to be a Thunderbird shifter and immensely powerful and so on and so forth. In Dragon Bound, there is a conflict with the ruler of the Dark Fae that ends in his death. Once he's killed, it is revealed that Tricks is in fact his long lost niece, the only surviving member of the original royal family, who were murdered when her evil uncle usurped the throne. She's been hiding with Dragos and the other Wyr shapeshifters in New York under her assumed identity. Now a delegation of Dark Fae are asking her to return and take up her rightful place as queen.

Others are less enthusiastic, and video where Tricks cuts down her would-be attackers in an alley in Chicago goes viral, while Tricks is nowhere to be found. Dragos sends his best tracker, Thiago, to locate and protect her. While the two seem not to have spent all that much time together in the past two centuries while they've been working for the same dragon, apparently taking up bodyguard duty, shielding her from new dangers and spending a lot more time in close confines for the reluctant Tricks makes Thiago realise that she is his fated mate. The various Elder Races have their own territories, and are not supposed to intermarry. The Dark Fae will not accept a queen mated to a Wyr, and Thiago becoming Tricks' consort could be seen as a dangerous power bid. Of course, all of these complications will be irrelevant if they don't figure out who is trying to assassinate Tricks before she can even make it to her home territory to take up her title.

This book was moderately entertaining while I read it, but I can now barely remember any of the details and mainly the bits that annoyed me, at that. Harrison makes no great attempt at actually establishing why Tricks and Thiago may suddenly be falling for one another, she basically just tells us that it's so. Fated mate storylines rarely work for me, because they just seem a bit lazy. Why bother showing us the characters getting to know one another and falling for each other when you can just make them meant to be? They have no control over their choices or actions, they are just destined to be compatible because...reasons? Also, this being a romance, the whole "oh noes, my people will never accept our union" seemed a bit contrived, as they are obviously going to stay together. Finally, it was painfully obvious to me who the person scheming to kill Tricks was from the moment said character was introduced. There was very little tension there.

Add to that the fact that it seems like for at least a quarter of the book, Harrison was mostly busy establishing the two characters who currently have an antagonistic relationship but are clearly fated to be together, neither of whom I was particularly excited about, and this book was a big disappointment compared to the first one. I'm hoping later books are better, but based on their introductions in this book, I may skip the next one too. I don't know if I care about the inscrutable vampire queen and the next of Dragos' many security officers.

Judging a book by its cover: Well, your eyes are certainly drawn to the abs, aren't they? Unlike the cover model for the last book, this one doesn't actually get a face, to leave more to the reader's imagination? I don't exactly think this cover is very exciting, but then the contents were pretty underwhelming too, so at least it's not trying to oversell the story? I've got nothing.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/12/cbr8-book-121-storms-heart-by-thea.html
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