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Search tags: set-in-1800s
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review 2018-12-15 03:23
The Suffragette Scandal (Brother's Sinister #4)
The Suffragette Scandal - Courtney Milan

Frederica "Free" Marshall has been a delight from the first moment she graced a page in this series, and here we get to see the kind of woman she's grown up to be: an investigative reporter running her own newspaper, written by women for women. She takes her fierce spirit with her like a shield as she uncovers injustices and campaigns for women's right to vote.

 

Edward Clark is a scoundrel with a past he'd sooner forget and charm oozing out the wazoo. He's determined to save a friend from the machinations of his brother and is willing to use Free to do it. Only Free doesn't cooperate, even when he mansplains the futility of her goals - and he finds out he's no match for Free. 

 

Once again, Ms Milan finds a couple of protags who are evenly balanced for each other. They're both struggling with their paths in life, but while Edward has succumbed to the dark side of the force, Free embraces the light. She pulls Edward kicking and screaming into the light with her. Of course, he is a scoundrel and isn't telling her everything. Now, all of the books in this series involve a secret of one of MCs or the other, but the truth has always been spilled before anything physical happens. That's not the case here, so that kind of dampened the intimacy here for me. The resolution was also a little too neat and quick. I still really enjoyed this though and watching Edward falling hopefully for Free despite his efforts not to was a treat.

 

There was also a small f/f subplot with Amanda, who we met in The Countess Conspiracy, and an implication of a gay relationship between a couple of minor characters in a "squint and you'll miss it" or maybe even a "YMMV" kind of way.

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review 2018-12-11 19:29
Invitation to the Dance
Invitation to the Dance - Tamara Allen

This is another great novel from Ms. Allen. She's got a special knack for capturing NYC of the late 1800s and early 1900s. In this case we've got earnest newspaper reporter Charlie Kohlbeck and a recent hire editor Will Nesmith. They start off as adversaries but become grudging allies after their boss assigns them to work together on a society piece trying to track down the elusive Lord Belcourt. Charlie's inventive work ethics gets them into a bit of subterfuge against Will's better sense, but he proves just as curious as Charlie and their truce soon grows into friendship and more.

 

There's a bit of a mystery here

though I figured it out after that encounter Charlie spied between Belcourt and Knox, and then had to wait for the majority of the book for Charlie and Will to figure it out. And so I also figured how that would benefit Charlie and Will once their ruse was out.

(spoiler show)

Rose and Archie, and Caroline and Hilda were great supporting characters and even Violet had her moments. Watching Charlie and Will becoming friends and more in Ms. Allen's typical quiet romance was a treat. They're well-suited to each other and even their bickering is endearing. I could shake my head at their less-than-honest antics, but they're both so lovable and sincere in their own ways that I couldn't bring myself to do it. :D

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review 2018-12-10 05:51
Days Without End (Audiobook)
Days Without End - Sebastian Barry,Aidan A. Kelly

Narration: 5 stars

Story: 3.5 stars

Final rating: 4 stars

 

It was my week for strange stories. This isn't even a story in the traditional sense. This reads more like a rambling memoir but with language so intimate and lush that I could easily forget that I was only really getting broad brushstrokes for the bulk of the story. This is mostly a summation of a young man's life as he figures out some hard-won truths.

 

Told from the POV of Thomas McNulty, an Irish immigrant, as we follow him and his friend turned lover John Cole across America in the mid-1800s. Survivors of the famine, they come to America with nothing, practically starved to death, and start to figure out how to survive from one day to the next, whether that's playacting as girls in a stage show or joining the Army to fight in the Indian Wars and eventually the Civil War.

 

This book doesn't shy away from the harsh reality of this time period in American history, nor does it give us safely and comfortably progressive-minded MCs to filter that reality through. Thomas and John Cole might not be outright hateful of anyone but they don't stop to ask why they're being given the orders they're given nor do they spend much time if any contemplating the morality of the slaughter of the First Peoples. Not at first. As Thomas notes at one point, no soldier fully understands the war he fights in; he only knows his one part in it. 

 

I was most interested in Thomas's and John's non-Army days, while they were living together and eventually with their adopted daughter Winona, a Sioux orphan, but those parts were sparse safe harbors in between all the violence and war of those times. The ending, such as it was, is more open-ended than anything else. 

I would have preferred a reunion between Thomas, John and Winona instead of just Thomas looking forward to it.

(spoiler show)

 

The narration by Aiden Kelly was truly amazing. He captures Thomas's bewildered voice perfectly and truly makes this oddly mesmerizing story come to life. 

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review 2018-12-07 05:00
Guardian Spirits (Spirits #3) (Audiobook)
Guardian Spirits - Jordan L. Hawk

The final book in the Spirits trilogy is adequate. This hasn't been my favorite series by Ms. Hawk by a long shot. I never really felt the romance between Henry and Vincent, the ghost adventuring is pretty standard though she does bring a certain flair to it, and the narrator is listenable, but nothing to write home about.

 

The plot here was again predictable and I could see every twist and turn coming from a mile away. While it makes emotional sense that Vincent and Jo would make the incredibly stupid decisions they make, it still felt like all the characters were given a case of the dumb-dumbs in order for the plot to happen, which is why this got downgraded half a star.

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review 2018-12-01 20:33
Jane Eyre (Audiobook)
Jane Eyre (Centaur Classics) [The 100 greatest novels of all time - #17] - Charlotte Brontë

What the hell did I just read?

 

This book is nearly 200-years old, but in case you're like me and know nothing about this book: SPOILERS! You've been warned. :D

 

This book started out with orphaned Jane living with relative-in-laws who barely put up with her, Jane getting into trouble and being sent to a boarding school and ... wait? This is Jane Eyre and not David Copperfield, right? *checks book* Right. And I can tell because it's much better written, has much more interesting and better developed characters and actually gets to a point eventually. 

 

It took me a while to get into this one, until I realized the audiobook playback was just too slow to keep my attention and I sped it up to 1.20x. Wanda McFadden does an excellent job narrating and she does Jane's voice especially well, a crucial detail. Plus, the fire was quite an attention-grabber too. And then it got a little meandering for a few more chapters and then Rochester has a room that he can lock people into and they can't get out! THAT'S NORMAL!

 

At that point, I started to really root for Jane to get the hell out of there, especially as things got even more messed up - and she does! She even stumbles upon a literally found family who treats her well and to whom she can contribute equally, and she gains financial independence to boot! She's scot free! Only she eventually goes back, marries Rochester and lives happily ever after. The End!

 

 

I wanted a gif of someone shaking a book upside down as if looking for more pages, but this one works just as well! Because this book ended and I kept waiting. There had to be another chapter, right? One that started with, "Reader, he locked me in the attic."

 

Though I guess a man locking up his cray-cray Creole wife is totally normal and acceptable behavior for the 1800s. And going after his ward's governess, who is less than half his age and whose name he can't even get right half the time, well that's a time-honored tradition. And who says bigamy can't be romantic? *cough*Outlander*cough* Oh, Janet. I mean Jane, what were you thinking?

 

I take it we have Ms. Brontë to blame for one of my least favorite tropes: the strong independent woman who falls for the thuggish brute. *sigh* And yet Jane is so astute and headstrong and knows her own mind and ambitions so well, I can't hold it against her. If I had only two options and one of them was Rochester and the other was Rivers, I'd choose Rochester too. 

 

WAIT! Hear me out! Because Rivers just wanted her as a project, someone to reform and shape into what he wanted her to be, completely disregarding what she wanted and desired, whereas Rochester wanted her for herself. And at least if she ever goes crazy, she'll have the comforting foreknowledge that Rochester will take care of her at home and not send her off to an asylum. Plus, he's infirm and half-blind, so if she really needed to fight him off, she probably could. Silver linings! I has them!

 

 

Shhh! Katniss, no. We're all sane here. :) (Also not what I was looking for when I searched for gifs of silver linings, but again, I'll take it.)

 

I guess feminism and female power only got you so far in the 1800s. In today's world, I like to think that Jane would've told Rivers to screw himself (well, she does here too), forgot all about Rochester, opened her own school and lived happily ever after.

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