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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 2017-03-19 21:34
Death by Silver (Julian Lynes and Ned Mathey #1) by Melissa Scott
Death by Silver - Amy Griswold,Melissa Scott

Solid writing; a few typos don't count. An excellent historical with a dash of magic. Non-romantic relationship (not for the lack of interest on both MCs part), mystery suspense and scenes of past abuse dominate this story. The two MCs-wizard-detectives do get together closer to the end, but as far as I recall all sex scenes fade into black. 5 stars for a great historical fantasy mystery-suspense :D

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review 2017-03-18 01:17
A strong mystery, fun characters & an as close-to-perfect ending as you'll find.
Hack: A perfect summer read... - Duncan MacMaster
Little victories, since they're all I can hope for, they're what I live for.

Jake Mooney used to be a pretty good reporter -- good reputation, good results -- but he got out of that game and got into a more lucrative field, even if it was more distasteful. Events transpired,  and that goes away -- I'll let you read it for yourself, but it involves lawyers and an ex-wife. Nowadays, he gets by being a ghost-writer for established authors who don't have the time or ability to write their own material. Out of the blue, he gets an offer to help a former TV star, Rick Rendell, write his autobiography. He'll even get credited for it. Credit -- and a nice cash bonus. How can he say no?

 

Before you can say "Jessica Fletcher," someone tries to kill Jake and then Rick is shot in front of a handful of witnesses, including Jake. Between his affection for (some of) the people in Rick's life, worry over his own safety, curiosity, and his own sense of justice, Jake dives in and investigates the murder himself.

 

Jake finds himself knee-deep in a morass involving unscrupulous agents (I'm not sure there's another kind in fiction), wives (current and ex-), Hollywood politics, an IRS investigation, a Drug Cartel, former co-stars, hedge fund managers, hit men, and a decades-old mysterious death. And a few more fresh deaths. . The notes he's already taken for the book gives Jake fodder for his investigation -- but the combination of notes and his continuing work provides the killer a constant target (and threat). As long as Jake's working on the mystery/mysteries -- and doing better than the police at uncovering crimes and suspects -- the killer can't just escape, Jake has to be stopped.

 

The voice was great, the mystery had plenty of twists and turns, Jake's ineptitude with firearms was a great touch and served to keep him from being a super-hero. I really can't think of anything that didn't work. There's not a character in the book that you don't enjoy reading about. I had three strong theories about what led to Rick's death and who was responsible -- the one I feared the most wasn't it (thankfully -- it was a little too trite). My favorite theory was ultimately right about the who, but was absolutely wrong about everything else. I take that as a win -- I felt good about my guess and better about the very clever plotting and writing that outsmarted me.

 

That's more about me than I intended it to be, so let me try this again -- MacMaster has set up a great classic mystery -- a la Rex Stout or Agatha Christie. A dogged investigator with a personal stake in the case, supporting characters that you can't help but like (or dislike, as appropriate), a number of suspects with reasons to kill the victim (with a decent amount of overlap between those two groups), and a satisfying conclusion that few readers will see coming. Hack is funny, but not in a overly-comedic way, it's just because Jake and some of the others he's with have good senses of humor. I chuckled a few times, grinned a few more.

 

I bought MacMaster's previous book, A Mint Condition Corpse, when it came out last year -- sadly, it's languishing in a dark corner of my Kindle with a handful of other books from Fahrenheit Press (I'm a great customer, lousy reader, of that Press).  Hack wasn't just an entertaining read, it was a great motivator to move his other book higher on my TBR list. Get your hands on this one folks, you'll have a great time.

 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this from the publisher, nevertheless, the opinions expressed are my own.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/03/17/hack-by-duncan-macmaster-2
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review 2017-03-15 02:19
Death by Silver by Melissa Scott
Death by Silver - Amy Griswold,Melissa Scott

Solid writing; a few typos don't count. An excellent historical with a dash of magic.
Non-romantic relationship (not for the lack of interest on both MCs part), mystery suspense and scenes of past abuse dominate this story.
The two MCs-wizard-detectives do get together closer to the end, but as far as I recall all sex scenes fade into black.

5 stars for a great historical fantasy mystery-suspense :D

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review 2017-03-14 23:08
(Series review) Treading the Boards by Rebecca Cohen
Overly Dramatic (Treading the Boards) - Rebecca Cohen
Summer Season (Treading the Boards) - Rebecca Cohen
He's Behind You - Rebecca Cohen

Overly Dramatic #1 – 3*

Summer Season #2 – 4*

He’s Behind You #3 – 4*

 

A series based around an amateur dramatics group based in Greenwich, London called the Sarky Players. These books are low on angst, with amusing stories about life in an Am Dram group.

 

The first book, Overly Dramatic, is told solely from Andy’s POV. He’s recently moved to London after leaving his cheating boyfriend and to fill in his time he decides to join the Sarky Players where he gets cast as a vicar in a bawdy farce where he plays opposite a paper maiche goat. Sounds ridiculous? That’s kind of the point. At any given time in the UK you can find an ‘Oops. Where’s My Trousers? Oh Er, Vicar.’ style play being staged somewhere.

 

There is a large cast of side characters in this story and with only Andy’s POV it is unclear at first who the love interest will be, as he meets both Ryan (actor) and Phil (props man) through the Players. In the end, it is Phil who catches his eye but this is also the area where the story falls down for me. With so much going on the romance gets left behind. Andy and Phil don’t get enough on page time together for me to really believe in their romance (and I wanted to so badly). Because of the low-key romance this is probably the least favourite of trio for me but it does give a solid background to the theatre group and introduces us to the lead for the second story: Summer Season.

 

Summer Season focuses on the flirty Ryan from the previous story. The Sarky Players have taken to the road and headed for Cornwall to perform Shakespeare for a couple of weeks at a coastal theatre. There Ryan meets Stuart, a local recently back in the village while he looks for a job. They get off on the wrong footing but soon put that to rights and embark on a summer fling. Turns out Ryan isn’t quite the slut that his friends think he is. In this book, we get both MCs POV and a much more romance focused storyline, and because of that I enjoyed both the couple and their story much more than the first.

 

The final book in the series takes up pretty much where the second finishes (in fact, the three cover the space of a year) with Stuart dragging his new work colleague, Craig, to the Sarky Players as they get ready to cast their Christmas panto. (This is not a spoiler. The clue is in the title. Oh, no, it’s not!)

Craig is a nerd, heavily into Warhammer, and resigned to his belief that everybody leaves. So, when he gets together with Jason, who is older than him and has only just started exploring his sexuality, Craig is already prepared for the relationship to end before it properly begins. This, more than the age gap and the difference in their hobbies, is what puts a strain on their relationship. In this one I’d have liked to see more of the theatre side of things, however, it was good to see Stuart and Ryan playing matchmaker and Phil providing an ear for Craig’s worries.

 

Overall this series was a fun, light read with little to no angst, aside from some internal insecurities brought on by past events/previous relationships, with humour that is distinctively British in feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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