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Search tags: set-in-1800s
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review 2018-07-28 21:22
Death By Silver (Lynes & Mathey #1)
Death by Silver - Amy Griswold,Melissa Scott

This was a good solid mystery set in a fantasy historical setting with a slightly steampunkish vibe. Julian Lynes is a private investigator and Ned Mathey is a metaphysician (kind of like a wizard, only magic in this world can be learned by anyone with the inclination). They're old school chums - and occasionally something more - who are called in to work a case by another old schoolmate. 

 

There are plenty of suspects and twists in the case, and while I suspected the perp early on, I couldn't figure out the how and why of it until much later. There were also plenty of other possible motivations for the other suspects, so this wasn't one of those mysteries where the perp was so obvious that it made the MCs look like idiots for not figuring it out earlier. They had to follow the clues and eliminate suspects.

 

What I liked even more than the mystery was how the author weaved in flashbacks to their school days and their bullying at the hands of the prefects to show why Julian and Ned bonded so early on. This is an author who knows how to show and not just tell. The pain of those years are still there, and it adds an extra layer of complication to the case as they have to face on of their former bullies.

 

This wasn't at all what I was expecting from this book, but that made it that much more fulfilling to read. I do wish the world-building were a little less subtle, since I felt things that made up this world could have been explained or described better, but the social aspects of the world are closer to our own in that time period.

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review 2018-07-25 03:04
The Ruin of a Rake (The Turner Series #3)
The Ruin of a Rake - Cat Sebastian

This one started off kind of slow and I wasn't sure I would be able to like Julien or Courtenay much. Their brief appearances in The Lawrence Browne Affair were too small to really get a fix on Julien, and Courtenay came off a little slimy. 

 

He starts this book in not much of a better light. His reputation has been tarnished, much by his own means, and he's finding himself a social leper after a salacious book written by an unknown author comes out with him cast as the main villain. Courtenay does everything he can to live down to everyone's bad opinions of him. Julien, on the other hand, designs his outward person to ingratiate himself into high society, despite being the son of a merchant and being "cursed" with having to earn a living. He's so preoccupied with appearing proper and perfect at all times that doing anything even remotely scandalous is unthinkable. So what happens when these two buffoons get together?

 

At first, a lot of frustration. Julien's wrangled into helping Courtenay repair his reputation and Courtenay does not cooperate. Of course, they're both secretly lusting for each other and so of course have to act like they hate each other. The hijinks they get into early on just had be eye rolling because I don't consider that kind of behavior remotely appealing or sexy. I really was worried I wouldn't like this one.

 

And then the characters got over themselves and started opening up, and secrets started being revealed that explained their motivations, and the story and relationship got a lot better. There's even an interesting subplot involving Julien's sister and her estranged husband that was very well done and didn't feel shoe-horned in. The second half really helped pull the rating back up. I also really appreciated that this ended with Julien and Courtenay in a much more realistic point of their relationship giving the times and their social standings.

 

Once again, Gary Furlong does a fantastic job narrating. If it wasn't for him, I'm not sure I would've finished this. He's become a favorite over the course of this series.

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review 2018-07-19 04:03
The Lawrence Browne Affair (The Turner Series #2) (Audiobook)
The Lawrence Browne Affair - Cat Sebastian

Story: 4

Narration: 5

Overall: 4.5

 

This was even better than the first. I loved Lawrence, and Georgie is surprisingly more likable than I found him in the first book. Not that I found him unlikable. He was just sort of there.

 

So what happens when a career conman has to hide away from his old gang and is sent off to a remote country estate that's depilated from years of neglect and is home of an eccentric, mad earl? Well, you get Belle poking around the Beast's castle, of course. ;) I seriously wouldn't have been surprised if the candlesticks started talking to Georgie in that scene. :D

 

This is the farthest thing from Beauty & the Beast though. Radner suffers what we today would call social anxiety, something I'm very familiar with. Georgie had an unprecedented whim to let a mark off the hook and actually do something nice for a change, and now much find a way to make amends with the grifter boss or face the consequences. He initially considers Radner an easy mark, but of course that all changes.

 

There's even a bit of a mystery involved with Radner's staff, and why exactly rumors of Radner's implausible mad acts are floating over the countryside. Radner himself is recluse and a scientist, obsessed with trying to get his telegraph machine to work and has little care for anything or anyone else. 

 

I really enjoyed seeing how these two brought out the best in each other and accepted each other for what they were. There were no big misunderstandings or drama llamas here. The story unfolded authentically and while the MCs may learn to let go some of their own self-imposed preconceptions about themselves, they're still the same at their core, and this is what drives the story more than anything else. 

 

Gary Furlong agains does a marvelous job with the story. He brings the characters and scenes to life with his voice, and it's just such a pleasant voice to listen to. I even slowed down the playback speed a little so I could listen to him longer. :D

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review 2018-07-12 04:06
The Soldier's Scoundrel (The Turner Series #1) (Audiobook)
The Soldier's Scoundrel - Cat Sebastian

Story: 3.5 stars

Narration: 5 stars

Overall rating: 4.25 stars, rounded down

 

That cover looks like it belongs in a gay Halloween magazine, and it's the main reason I avoided this book for so long, despite everyone telling me that the story hiding beneath that hideously cheesy cover is actually good. And now I can join their number and say that the story is actually really quite good. Brilliant even, and if it were for a couple of my pet peeves that appear here, it would have gotten a higher rating.

 

So let's get the pet peeves out of the way first:

 

~Smexy times after an injury. *sigh* I just went through this with the last book. At least it was more realistic here, being "just" a flesh wound. 

~Gay-okay history. Like many an M/M historical romance, they want all the modern conventions like HEAs but don't want to put up with things like taboos. There is some consideration given to the fact that sodomy was a crime in these days, but that sure didn't stop Jack and Oliver from being reckless at times. But more than that, I would expect more of the side characters to have a more negative reaction to their relationship than they do. Look, people have a hard enough time finding that kind of positive reception in today's world, much less the 1800s. Is it too much to ask for more realistic reactions, even if they would be depressing as hell?

~The term "dating" wasn't coined until 1898 in America. Pretty sure a noblewoman of the early 1800s in London wouldn't be using the term. She would say courting. That one little word really threw me out of the book.

 

Those matters aside, I really enjoyed how Sherlockian this was. Nearly 99% of the mysteries out there involve murder from the get-go - even all those Sherlock knockoffs. But there are just way more mysteries to solve out there than that, and this story has a classic case of stolen letters kept by a married lady from her one-time suitor. 

Why would she have her own letters though? If she mentioned why or how she got them back from her former suitor at some point in the story, I missed it.

(spoiler show)

 

Jack Turner is a rogue, street tough and no-nonsense. He helps women who have no one else to help them (so long as they can afford to pay), and he'll do so by any means necessary, though he does have his limits. He has no time for stuffy aristocrats. Oliver Riverton is the youngest son of an earl just returned from war and desperate for the ordered life of society after the chaos and destruction he witnessed during the war. When he finds out his sister had paid Jack for a job, he's determined to make sure his sister hadn't been taken in by a charlatan. Instead, he gets entangled in Jack's world, in more ways than one.

 

Jack and Oliver are perfectly matched and I enjoyed watching them circle each other as they got to know one another. Lust was pretty immediate, but they don't fall into each other's arms right away. Trust needs to be built, and they need to start seeing each other as people instead of just assumptions based on class, or lack thereof. Jack's determination to keep the upper hand and constantly failing to do so was amusing, and Oliver is just naive enough to be charming but savvy enough to not be annoying, which is not an easy combination to achieve. They've grown up in different worlds that have different laws that govern them, and they actually learn from each other how to see the world in different ways.

 

Gary Furlong, who does the narration, did a fabulous job. He managed to convey the POV switches with ease and kept the MCs voices distinct from each other. I could visualize the story just as easily listening to him as I could have if I'd read it myself. He even managed to make some of the sex scenes fun - though I still thought there were a few too many of those. 

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review 2018-06-30 21:40
Brief Cases (The Dresden Files #15.1) (Audiobook)
Brief Cases (Dresden Files) - Jim Butcher

Another fun compilation of short stories and novellas set in the Dresden universe. I finished my read of the currently available books almost three years ago and have been waiting impatiently for Peace Talks ever since, along with everyone else. So I was happy to see this come out to break the dry spell a bit - and also impress upon me the need to do a relisten at some point in the near future. :D

 

A Fistful of Warlocks - 3 stars

 

I spent the first half of this trying to remember who Luccio was. Whoops. She never made much of an impression as a character, so it took me awhile to place her, especially since I heard19th century and got excited that maybe we were getting a story about Ancient Mai. Alas, no. Still, Wild West, Wyatt Earp and Warlocks - what's not to love?

 

Cassandra Campbell narrates this one.

 

B Is For Bigfoot - 4 stars

 

Harry must deal with bullies targeting Bigfoot's kid. Irwin is pathologically pacifist, and Harry's intent on making him understand that he can still stand up for himself. As ever, Butcher takes what should be a fairly straightforward issue and complicates the hell out of it. Plus, it's about time Sasquatch makes an appearance in this world.

 

AAAA Wizardry - 4 stars

 

Harry's again playing mentor, this time to young wizards. Harry shines when he's taking care of kids and teaching others how to be better. The classroom setting is intertwined with a case that Harry worked where things ... wait for it ... went wrong. I know! That never happens to him, right?

 

I Was a Teenage Bigfoot - 3 stars 

 

Irwin's again in trouble, and Harry's sent to help out. This one is fairly straightforward, on the Dresden scale, and we don't get as much interaction with Irwin this time around. And you will NEVER guess the motive for this one. :D

 

Curses - 5 stars

 

I actually never heard of the Billy Goat curse, and the way Butcher comes up to explain it is classic Dresden, whimsical and offers some of the most hilarious moments in this collection. 

 

Even Hand - 3 stars

 

Oh, Gentleman Johnny Marcone. I don't care for him, but he's hardly the worst villain out there. He reminds me a lot of Xanatos from Gargoyles, actually. Unrepentantly evil, but with his own moral code and rules. The best rule being "no kids." So when Justine come to him asking for help protecting a child, well...what's a cold-blooded mafia-type man supposed to do?

 

Jim Butcher narrates this one. And...well...Hermoine would approve his narrative style. His pronunciation is always very proper and precise - and as a result a little on the stilted side. 

 

Bigfoot on Campus - 4 stars

 

Bigfoot Irwin's all grown up and in college and has a girlfriend whose not what she seems. What could go wrong? Harry's got a condition on this one though: Papa Bigfoot has to meet his son, who is more than a little ticked off for being kept on the sidelines his whole life.

 

Bombshells - 4 stars

 

Molly's trying to fill the shoes of Harry after the event in Changes, and she's finding it to be quite an overwhelming task. I've always liked Molly, so was happy to see her POV and get inside her head. She's made some questionable decisions, and seeing how she navigates the world of wizardry as a result of those decisions and what she's learned since was fascinating. Plus, she gets company of Justine and Andi while she tries to figure out how to save Thomas. (I forgot Andi was dating Butters.)

 

Cold Case - 5 stars

 

Two Molly POVs in a row! And this one hurt. Molly's first assignment as the new Winter Maiden pairs her up with Carlos as they go up against monsters Alaska, and it doesn't go anything like she thought it would. Her new "mom" Mab is as cold and vicious as always, and a stark contrast to Charity. Mab's not here for sentimentality. She's here to fight a war. She does offer Molly the opportunity to find a better way to fight that war though, so hopefully that means Molly will be able to do that someday.

 

Julia Whelan narrates both of Molly's stories, and she does a great job.

 

Jury Duty - 4 stars

 

Harry Dresden has been found - by the government! Dun dun DUUUUNNNN! Jury duty happens. Wackiness ensues. Good fun.

 

Day One - 4 stars

 

BUTTERS! I love Butters - and totally forgot he was a Knight now. Whoops. He's called to his first mission as a Knight of the Cross and he does an excellent job of it. Oliver Wylan does the narration on this one and he captures Butters perfectly. 

 

Zoo Day - 5 stars

 

Harry spends his first full day with his 10-year old daughter Maggie and it's adorable. Of course, this is Dresden Files, so it can't just be a nice family outing. There's a lot going on here, and we get to see not just Harry's POV, but Maggie's and Mouse's too. Yes, you saw that right. Mouse gets his own POV here. Maggie's an amazing little kid, and Mouse's POV was charming as hell - in between all the horror, lol. 

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