Storming the Castle
by Eloisa James
audio book narrated by Nicola Barber
Fairy Tales #1.5 (novella)
This novella started strong, and truthfully, I had been thinking that I liked it more than I liked it's preceding book, A Kiss At Midnight. Because, truthfully, A Kiss At Midnight was just riddled with romance plot clichés and over dramatic angst, even if the book itself was pretty enjoyable.
The conditions of which Phillipa leaves her family and her betrothal to pursue a life for herself was exciting. In fact, it was the best part of the novella, because it helps establish Phillipa's character outside of just being a Romance Novel Heroine, where everything revolves around a man and her love life. I loved that she has a self-revelation about not wanting to continue being told what she should feel, how she should think, what she should want with her life, or how lucky she was to have her future taken care of for her.
That she took the initiative to step out of that mold to find her own way in life drew me in, and made me intrigued at what was in store for her.
That she would find Jonas Berwick, majordomo extraordinaire, in her future was also a bonus for me since I absolutely loved him from the first book.
The insta-lust that took place as soon as she enters the castle to become a nursemaid was not surprising. And I was actually looking forward to the potential love story between her and one of my favorite characters from A Kiss At Midnight, Prince Gabriel's half-brother, Jonas Berwick. Since the first book, I had found Berwick's character to be much more attractive and interesting than the main male character and had secretly wanted Kate to fall for him instead.
I had hoped he'd get his own book.
But a novella will have to suffice, I suppose, though, to be honest, after finishing this novella, I feel like Berwick deserved a much better story.
The moment we get to the castle, the story kind of plateaus and stops being exciting. The love story feels supremely lukewarm, and while I like that Phillipa and Berwick don't fall in love at first sight, I never felt the chemistry between them. I felt more chemistry between Kate and Phillipa, or even the castle's French cook and Phillipa, than between our resident main couple. Berwick was severely underused in this novella, and honestly, I repeat, he deserves a full length novel and a better story.
When we get to the concluding chapter and find out that Phillipa had, yet another reason for not wanting to marry her betrothed Rodney... I guess that was it for me. Because simply wanting the freedom to make her own choices wasn't enough? I couldn't fault her for that. But she announces another, much more superficial reason to her father, barely even mentioning the fact that she was tired of being strung around like a puppet by the people in her life. No, Phillipa's reasons for not wanting to marry Rodney had more to do with the fact that Rodney isn't exactly the most physically appealing person, despite the fact that he was never a bad person to begin with.
That conclusion severely set Phillipa's character development from the first couple chapters backwards, and I stopped feeling bad for her that her father kept trying to force her into a life she didn't want.
Anyway, I can't deny that despite everything I disliked about this novella, Eloisa's writing style for the Fairy Tales stories are written in a distinctly "Once Upon A Time" like whimsical way that I like. It truly feels like I'm reading (or in this case listening to) a fairy tale being told.
I admit, my reluctance with anything sci-fi or aliens made me drag my feet when I started this. My brain was ready doing its internal blocking, with strange names and anatomy terms. But as I read this, I was pulled in by the gentle relationship and romance between these two different species.
Despite its short length, it felt complete. There was that tentative beginning as Serge and Een learned to communicate, then friendship and connection, to fighting for their chance (when government agents were making 'threats') into that wonderful ending.
So yeah, I really liked this :)
This Dieselpunk novel is about Robert „Hitch“ Hitchcock, biplane-pilot of a rather run-down small flying circus who returns to his home town in Nebraska in order to take part in a flying competition that might get him a better paid job with another flying circus. Hitch has one hell of a troubled past with his family and the corrupt sheriff and would rather not return. To make things even more complicated, a mysterious foreign young woman called Jael falls from the sky and onto his plane.
Hitch first believes she must be crazy when she demands to take her back home up in the sky —until he nearly crashes into a strange airship with his plane. An airship with pirates who have the power to control the weather and demand ransom from his home town, threatening to wreak havoc on the people and their farms.
The novel focuses not so much on action – though there are several breath-taking flying and other action scenes as well -- yet more on the character arc, feelings, and motivations of its protagonists. It is narrated in two different perspectives, from Hitch's viewpoint and that of Walter, an 8-year- old nephew of Hitch who adores the pilot and his plane – as most boys of that age would. The mysterious Jael is a strong, brave and at same time rather stubborn character with a big heart. Of course, Hitch has to deal with all the troubles of his past and the present over the course of the story.
The Dieselpunk elements in the story and their background story are original in my eyes and are a real treat to read – there are lots of airships in Dieselpunk and Steampunk literature, yet I haven't heard of any that has the power to control the weather...
I'd recommend the novel also to any fan of historical 1920s aviation.
The book has also some simple outline illustrations, especially depicting the Dieselpunk elements.
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Title: A Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle
Series: League of Princes
Author: Christopher Healy
Rating: of 5 Battle Axes
The Princes all come together, some willingly, some not so willingly, for another adventure to save ALL the kingdoms.
From Briar Rose.
And lots of other things happen along the way.
I enjoyed this, but not quite as much as the previous book, A Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.
Part of that was that the new'ness of the idea wasn't new now. Another part was the continued romance subplot about everybody not sure who they're actually in love with. I didn't like that at all.
I liked the pictures. They captured the various characters rather well and lent a humorous air to the book.