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Search tags: set-in-1800s
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review 2017-06-29 18:08
Rag and Bone (Rag and Bone #1)
Rag and Bone - K.J. Charles

KJ Charles is a great writer, and this is one of her only series I'm aware of where one of the MCs isn't a raging blowhole. We've got Ned and Crispin, who certainly have their conflicts to work out, since Ned doesn't trust magic and Crispin is trying to unlearn so bad magical practices he was taught by his first mentor. They care about each other, and support each other, but they have their hangups and their insecurities and much of this is about how they navigate a relationship with each other given all these conflicts. That doesn't even bring into account that if the wrong person finds out about their relationship, they could end up in jail or hung. 


Crispin finally finds a new teacher who is interested in helping use his magical abilities, and while this is a bit too close to the prequel's plot, there is a mystery involving the strange deaths of some rag and bottle store owners to help detract from that. There's a lot of tension built into the climax, and it doesn't just fizzle out afterward, since there are still other issues to resolve.


Since I've only read the first book in the Magpie Lord series, I only recognized Stephan Day from that series here. I'm sure there were others, but it wasn't necessary to have prior knowledge of them, or even of Day. If you know the other characters' backstories, you'd obviously get a lot more out of seeing them, but if you don't know then you're not going to be confused or lost.


I hope Ms. Charles writes more about these two. I love her writing, but since I'm allergic to her douche MCs I usually avoid her books. This series is the exception.

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review 2017-03-09 01:36
Tipping the Velvet (Audiobook)
Tipping the Velvet - Sarah Waters

This was well-written and well-narrated by Juanita McMahon, just like Fingersmith was, but it didn't quite grab me the way Fingersmith did. Nancy King and her plights and travails through London on her quest to find herself, love and acceptance are all just a little too over the top for me. And talk about your coinkydinks! The last chapter especially was loaded with them. Maybe Waters was doing a final curtain call thing, but it was a bit too much, ya know?


I do like Nan's tenacity to keep going and never get knocked down no matter what life threw at her, and it was an interesting journey through London in the late 1800s, when things were still very dangerous for LGBT people. I didn't always understand why Nan made some of the decisions she made. They at times felt kind of generic, like she needed to make x decision so the story could go to y plot line, and the story just kind of meandered at points. 

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review 2016-08-30 03:20
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Count of Monte Christo - Alexandre Dumas

The first 60% of this book is...way too long. Sorry, y'all. Yes, it was beautiful writing. Yes, a lot of it did end up being important in the last 40%. Yes, that last 40% does largely make up for the first 60%. But seriously, get an editor! :P


I found my mind wandering a lot while I was listening to the first half of this book, especially when we first encountered Franz. I just hit a wall of Do Not Care and it took way too long to get through that part. I just didn't really get why we needed quite so many asides (we really didn't) or why we needed to know so much about all these fourth and fifth tier characters (we really didn't). But... we kind of did. At least so far as explaining the scope of this thing, and the great lengths Dantes went through to get his revenge on those who done him wrong. Just the time and dedication needed to bring this all about, and more than a few coincidinks let's be real, so that everything lined up perfectly for Dantes to smack them bastards down - it's monumental. It was one of those elaborate dominos grids, and once the pieces started falling, they didn't stop.


The constant history lessons were helpful for me, since the only thing I know about Napolean is Waterloo and Elba. And he was really short. I didn't mind that stuff. The detail of how everyone talked during the opera - this is where we get it from! This is why we talk in the theater! :P


Anyway: Noirtier's eye vs Eye of Sauron - who would win? Discuss!


This review makes no sense. I'm just gonna go rent the movie now. :D

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review 2016-07-16 20:43
Fingersmith (Audiobook)
Fingersmith - Juanita McMahon,Sarah Waters

This starts off kind of slow, and a little too much telling over showing as Susan kicks off this story of intrigue and thievery. To be honest, if I hadn't seen the mini-series years ago and already known about the twist, I would have been impatient through the first part of this. This is a book about people doing horrible things to each other and it's asking me to care about them. That's not usually my forte because screw anyone who would willingly hurt another over money, of all things. Susan also starts out rather naive and unobservant, which didn't help. Once the twist happens and we switch to Maud's POV, the story got much more layered and complex, and not just because we're peeling back another layer to this scheme but because Maud is more complex. Ms. Waters did manage to get me rooting for Sue and Maud, despite how terrible they are. She makes their situations real and understandable, even if their actions aren't excusable, and she does make them pay in their own ways for their selfishness. 


I remembered the reveals about Susan and Maud that come at the end, but had forgotten what happened to Gentleman and Mrs. Sucksby. Can't say I'm terribly upset about either one of them. They both got what they deserved, as far as I'm concerned.


Juanita McMahon does an excellent job narrating this. She speaks perhaps too slowly, and that was listening at 1.25x speed, but she was clear at all times and really put the emotions into each character. I'm also finding that some narrators are better at holding my attention when I'm at work that others are, and Juanita is one of them, so if I could rate her performance more than five stars, I would.

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review 2016-06-14 02:59
Hexbreaker (Hexworld #1)
Hexbreaker - Jordan L. Hawk

I think this was more "it's me not you". I wasn't really feeling this one. As with the prequel, The 13th Hex, this was just weird and I can't really say much more about it and my issues with it than I did for the prequel, but I'll try.


I didn't get the connection between the MCs. Ok, Cicero doesn't want to force bond with a witch. Understandable. So he's cold and aloof to Tom at first, because you know how cats are, right? (I've owned exactly one cat like this over a lifetime of being a cat mommy. Cats get a bum rap, I'm just saying.) The change from enemies to lovers felt rushed and not entirely earned, and the first sex scene just kind of came out of nowhere. I did like how Cicero slowly realized he was wrong about Tom, but then because Tom's keeping this Big Lie a secret throughout most of the book, that entire sequence went down just about as you'd expect.


The whole witch and familiar thing was just weird. In fact, the magic here is just weird all around. I don't understand why it works this way. It seems overly complicated for no good reason. Also, anyone who didn't read the prequel will be missing an important piece of the puzzle on how the hexes are made since it's not explained anywhere here. I'm not exactly sure what a witch even does in this world, because the hex maker makes the hexes, and the familiars provide the magic but for some reason can't use it themselves, and the witch channels the magic through the familiar into the hex and is basically just the middleman. Like I said, overly complicated..

I had pretty much the same issues I had with the novella, but I was hoping they'd be less of an issue in novel length. That didn't turn out to be the case. I think this is it for me and this series.

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