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review 2017-03-21 21:54
I think the world might have tilted on it's axis a bit...
Seven Summer Nights - Harper Fox

Oh, Ms Fox how I adore your writing. You bring stories to life for me as few other authors are able to. 

 

This one started on a bit of a challenging note for me. It was ok and I was enjoying it...possibly because "Buddy Read" with my awesome besties Josy and Christelle and initially I think perhaps this story was appealing more to them than me on a certain level. But as always I was still being drawn in by the wonderful word poetry of Ms Fox and that alone was enough to keep me reading but needless to say the more I was drawn into this web of words the more I wanted to read until I found myself happily devouring this story. 

 

'Seven Summer Nights' is not a simple story about a post-war romance between two men...oh no, it's not even close to that because for one thing a romance between two men at that time in history didn't have a snowballs chance in 'you know where' of being simple.

 

While the story between Rufus and Archibald (Thorne for the remainder of this review) is very much the main and central part of the story. It is surrounded by a explosion of colorful and often 'eccentric' characters set mainly in a small English countryside village. The struggles that are faced by both Rufus and Thorne on an individual level and as two men trying to find a place for their fragile relationship in a world that would see them jailed or worse for their feelings, for sharing words spoken in the still of night as gentle as a summers breeze meant only to offer comfort and ease...

"No more gods, no more war. I'm not a vicar, and you...you're not a soldier.

 Never again. There's just us, dear fellow---here we are."

 

'Seven Summer Nights' shows us a world that many of us never knew first hand, some like myself may have a bit of second-hand knowledge because of parents and grandparents.

 

Much of this book was ironically a reminder for me of why I'm not a huge fan of historical novels not because they're bad or uninteresting...in fact quite the contrary. I love history but unfortunately with history comes the reminders of the wrongs and injustices that have been committed and so often these transgressions are hidden behind such noble causes as God, King and country forcing men who would live in a world of tolerance and peace to fight those would control it through fear, bigotry and sheer brute force. This is what happened to Rufus and when he could fight no more his mind chose to forget. Ironically Thorne who is a man of god also fought but his terrors were not so dark and his memories were very different than that of Rufus.

"Yes. Oh, Archie, it seems terrible to talk about it.

To destroy your peace of mind with such a story."

 

"You won't. And even if you did, isn't that part of my job from now on--

  to share your wars and your peace?"

 

Two men fighting for the basic rights and freedoms of the same people who would deny them theirs. Just as they would deny the women who did their part their rights (it wasn't until 1928 that British women achieved full suffrage 3 years after the end of WWII and while this is an incredibly interesting topic...google is your friend). This is the setting of 'Seven Summer Nights' but we're not done yet because as well as the climate of the times Ms Fox has given us glimpses of Britain's cultural background through it's archaeology and it's folklore. We see the intertwining of England's religion with it's pre-christian days. There are subtle references to Anglo-Saxon paganism, England's witch hunts during the 1640s and things don't end there we are also reminded of the nightmare that passed for modern medicine specifically psychiatry during the early 1900's. 

 

You're probably thinking this sounds like a lot of gloom and doom right about now but it wasn't because woven in between these things was the strength of the human spirit and it's struggle for love in the form of Rufus and Thorne, the desire to govern ourselves and make our own decisions in the form Thorne's sister Caroline and Alice Winborn. There were characters of strength and courage in Maria who quietly took charge and gave people what they needed, Drusilla whose struggle to find her way back to herself, her child and her faith nearly cost her sanity and of course there were those who should have been hero's and failed.

 

'Seven Summer Nights' is neither a simple nor an easy story to read or explain...was it fantasy? No, not for me, there were no magical creatures...was there magic? I suppose of a fashion there was, but it was the magic of a world long gone. A world of faith so strong that it could alter the very fabric of ones reality...so yes there was magic. Then again isn't there always a little magic involved when it only takes words to transport us through time and space to a place we've never known to share an adventure with people we'll never meet? You're a wizard Ms Fox, a wizard I tell you.

 

"Oh, Archie. You and I both know--everyone who went to war knows--

the one thing none of us can be sure of is time..."

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review 2017-03-20 22:33
Definite cuteness factor here...
Adrian - Caitlin Ricci

I liked this one probably more so than the first one. Technically we've got an established couple here. Adrian and Corrin were matched up six months ago (before the start of the story) by the Faeted Agency and none other than Dyslander, himself did the matching and Dyslander never...never makes mistakes and yet, something has gone wrong and Adrian is going to make him fix it.

 

It seems Corrin has cheated on Adrian. Sadly Adrian knows he still loves Corrin but he also knows that when Corrin kissed that Dragon shifter...dragons!!!! I love dragons...wait, he kissed Corrin and Corrin's with Adrian...oh, bad, bad dragon. You need to go back to your cave until you can learn to behave...now, where were we? Oh, yes Corrin kissed the dragon and Adrian was standing right there...this did not end well. But I had faith in Dyslander, he'll fix things but his fix was totally not what Adrian had in mind but then again when faced with a naked and restrained Corrin, Adrian soon realizes that maybe this wasn't what he had in mind but he can be as open minded as the next dryad when it comes to matters of the heart.

 

So basically that's our premise and it was cute. I really enjoyed it. My biggest issue this story comes in at about 21 pages (the story started on page 7 and finished on page 28 of my e-reader) I really would have loved more from this pairing. In the supernatural world how often do we get stories about a Dryad and a Fire Mage? Cute and unusual make for fun and there really was more to the dragon than it seemed but you'll have to read the story to find out and the next one too...because Caldren is next and he's a Brownie and Dyslander seems to think that his Faeted mate is...a dragon...a dragon who maybe kissed someone he shouldn't have...is there any doubt that I am so there?

 

If you like stories that are cute, light, fluffy and just a bit of fun reading check out Caitlin Ricci's 'Faeted' Series the matches are interesting and there's dragons...really, you can't go wrong with dragons ;)

 

********************

An ARC of 'Adrian' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-03-17 17:34
Canada + dragons = fun times!
Never Lose Your Flames - Francis Gideon

I really enjoyed revisiting this story. 'Never Lose Your Flames' is just a really fun read for me and in a way even more so this time around because just after I read this book last summer hubby and I went on vacation and we drove through the Alberta Badlands and spent an afternoon driving around Drumheller and visiting the Hoodoos  which I have since learned that Blackfoot and Cree traditions hold that these are petrified giants who come to life at night to protect the land around them by hurling stones at intruders and this is way more intriguing than how they actual came to be so I'm sticking with this story. Anyways, back to my review. Needless to say revisiting this story and having seen many of the locations that were mentioned not just the natural geographical ones like The Alberta Badlands and the Hoodoos around Drumheller but places such as Drumheller, Saskatoon and Winnipeg just added to how much I really enjoyed revisiting 'Never Lose Your Flame' so my original review really is unchanged and if you want to have a peek at it, here's the link...

Never Lose Your Flame - original review 

 

Unfortunately while it wasn't a huge detraction from the book neither did this narrators add to my enjoyment of the story this time around. I found that the voices for many of the characters seemed to be so similar that had I not already read this book I would have found it a bit confusing at times to know who was speaking and at times the continuity of how a voice sounded wasn't as consistent as I would have liked. However, as a friend of mine who listened to the sample pointed out this could very possibly be a case of 'not the right book for this narrator' because in spite of these issues I wasn't annoyed or irritated by his voice, it simply wasn't working for me. 

 

This was my first venture with an audiobook narrated by Kevin Chandler and I'm certainly open to giving another book narrated by him a try. But for this time around I'd have to say that while the book still gets 4.5 stars from me the audio portion sits between 3 - 3.5 so I'm going to call it a day at 4 stars in total and we'll see what the future brings.

 

********************

An audio copy of this book was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-03-16 02:21
Review: The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds (Atria Books) - H.G. Wells

The War of the Worlds is a classic alien invasion novel written by H. G. Wells.  I think it would be difficult for a present-day science fiction reader to be completely blown away by this book when we’ve inevitably read or watched many similar types of stories.  However, it was still entertaining and it held my interest well with only the occasional dry spot.

 

I think what helped the story feel more “fresh” to me was the time period.  It’s set at around the same time as it was written – in the late 1800’s.  Most of the older science fiction books I’ve read have been set in the “future” as imagined by the author.  With this book, I had the fun of visiting a time period I don’t often see in my science fiction reading.  Since the author was living in that time period, it felt pretty authentic.  That, combined with the matter-of-fact tone the story is written in, almost made it feel like I was reading about a historical event that they forgot to teach us in school. :)  The technology of the time played a definite role in how things played out, particularly in terms of the limited transportation and communication options.

 

The writing style, as I said before, was very matter-of-fact.  It was written as a first-person account of events, focusing mainly on the events the narrator experienced.  There are also a couple chapters that tell part of his brother’s story to expand the view of what happened in areas further away from the narrator.

 

Although the story held my interest, there were certain aspects of it that I wasn’t thrilled with, and that I tend to complain about when they come up in other books.  This book has those one-dimensionally evil, invading aliens that never hold too much interest for me.  There’s also a bit of that “run, find refuge, danger approaches again, run again” circular pattern that I usually find tedious.  I wasn’t as bothered by these things in this book, though.  I think that was a combination of how short the book is, combined with the interesting time period in which it was set which added a different element to the story than what I’m used to reading.

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review 2017-03-08 02:44
Review: Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice (Wisehouse Classics - with Illustrations by H.M. Brock) - Jane Austen,H.M. Brock

Although I loved reading from an early age, I didn’t usually enjoy the classics we were required to read for school.  In my adult years, I’ve mostly avoided them aside from several science fiction and fantasy classics.  As a result of a conversation in a thread on another site, I decided to read one classic per quarter, not counting the SF&F classics I would have read anyway.  Four classics per year may not sound like much, but it’s an easy commitment to keep and it’s better than my previous rate of 0 per year.  So, Pride and Prejudice was my first pick.  I chose it in large part because I had never read anything by Jane Austen and because I often see her work referred to favorably, so I’ve been curious about it. 

 

I did enjoy it quite a bit.  It’s full of sarcastic humor, sometimes very subtly expressed and sometimes not.  Elizabeth’s father was particularly amusing, and provoked my most uproarious outbursts of laughter.  He had some major flaws, of course, and maybe I shouldn’t have found him as funny as I did, but he really was hilarious.  Elizabeth herself could be quite funny also.  Jane grated on my nerves at times but, in general, I either liked the characters or else I was at least amused by them. 

 

I think this proved to be an accessible starting point for reading classics, with a straight-forward story that left me free to focus more on the writing style and the customs of the time.  Pride and Prejudice was published in the early 1800’s, and the language was definitely a bit different from today’s language, but it was easy to understand in context.  Even completely unfamiliar terms such as an “entail” were given enough context for me to understand what they meant.  By the time I finally looked up more info, I didn’t learn much more than I had already figured out on my own, although it was nice to get the confirmation and see things described a bit more concisely.

 

The biggest difficulty I had in the beginning was with keeping the characters straight.  In that era, people were usually addressed and referenced formally, using their last names.  There were multiple characters with the same last name since they were members of the same family, and sometimes I had to re-read passages to make sure I knew who was doing and saying what.  I had far less confusion once I got far enough into the story to have a better handle on who the different characters were. 

 

If this same story had been told in a modern setting and with modern language, I doubt I would have enjoyed it nearly as much.  I’m not crazy for romance novels, which is essentially what this book is.  I’m sure it influenced many of the common romance plot elements found in books today, and I definitely recognized some of them from the romances I read in my youth.  At least plot devices like “the big misunderstanding” and “assuming the worst” are somewhat less annoying in a setting where people didn’t speak as openly about things as we do today.  It makes the whole thing a little more believable.  Those same devices in modern books, where the characters talk about anything and everything except the one piece of info that would cut the whole story short by 200+ pages, annoy the heck out of me.  Either way, the romance aspect of Pride and Prejudice was not the main draw for me and was in fact a bit too sappy for me at the end.  What I really enjoyed was reading what the characters did in their day-to-day lives, how they interacted with each other, what constituted “civility”, and, of course, all the sarcasm.  It was almost like having the chance to visit and learn about a new culture.

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