I love the idea of The Haberdashers - a group of little girls who wanted to have fun and learn things like the boys. That the term itsel...moreThis was okay.
I love the idea of The Haberdashers - a group of little girls who wanted to have fun and learn things like the boys. That the term itself refers to someone who deals in men's clothing and accessories (the girls didn't know what the word meant when they chose it for their club) is amusing for Regency females.
We meet one of the Haberdashers here, - Jacqueline, who goes by Jack. Okay, the girls took male nicknames as part of their "thing". I personally would have preferred "Jac" but there you go. I'm just a reader. :) Jacqueline is studious and stubborn...and so on. The "exceptional female" Regency trope. Thing is, I didn't feel her character as being consistent. Once she submits to being a wife, it seems as if she does so with a supreme lack of stubborn - she just slides into it. And a character is mentioned from the beginning - Lord Lucifer, with whom Jack is very unhappy - but we don't know why he is mentioned or why he makes her unhappy or anything. I felt that was not well done, craft-wise. So when we find out who this fellow is - much, much later - it didn't work for me personally.
The hero, Gideon, Earl of Harrington, is a good fellow. Pretty much. I would have liked to have understood him better - I liked him, mind, but I don't feel I understood his reluctances about certain issues nor did I entirely understand why he paced his pursuit of Jack the way he did.
Story-wise, I had the feeling about, oh, 70% in, that the story was basically a wrap in terms of the romance. Which was when OTHER THINGS happened that seemed to me to be very oddly timed. From the author's notes, I understand that the politics were known to her and her stance on issues and so on was established, but I had very little sense of this topic - which would be a serious point of contention in the last chunk of the story - earlier on. It felt as if it were dropped in because, wow, the stubborn heroine and reluctant hero had actually managed to rub along quite well, thank you. And let's not forget the Big Dramatic Moment in which Jack gets to show how far superior she is to practically everyone else in the entire novel. I think if the politics had been left out and this particular concern had been given more background? I would have liked it better.
Regarding the "steam" factor - there is a great deal of sexual tension. And the sexual activity itself when we get to it is hot but not at all vulgar.
I think I was dissatisfied, overall, with how the story was told, rather than the story itself. Some judicious pruning here, more watering there, might have let this blossom more fully and without any awkward, half-blown blooms. [And isn't that a bizarre metaphor for me?]
All of that being said, however, I do want to read about Sabre - the next Haberdasher and apparently the "Little Wellington" of them all.(less)
Ack! I just lost my whole review. Let me start again.
This is hard to review for me.
Things I found great: The crafting of this story is fantastic. Rem...moreAck! I just lost my whole review. Let me start again.
This is hard to review for me.
Things I found great: The crafting of this story is fantastic. Reminds me of a Stephen King epic in which the characters start off all over but come together for a common purpose. Cinematic, in a way. This was very well done. So was the character development of major and minor characters. Great attention to detail and to inner thoughts that help the reader get into their heads. Well done.
Things that bothered me: There was a little bit too much of this thought-following at times, and it got distracting. So did some kind of aversion to the use of possessives on the part of the author. "The voice of Michael...' or "The head of [another character]" and so on. This plays better in the "historical" sections but not so much in the modern.
Warning: This is a book that has scenes of intense violence. Viking raids happen. Innocents get hurt. The book's summary uses words like "horror" and "terror" and "ancient evil". Yes to all the above.
I found myself backing off as the supernatural got a little too much for me. This was a personal preference and is not meant to reflect adversely on the writing. The writing is good. It's just that some of it wasn't for me. Still, I was very interested in the resolution so I kept going. A tribute to the author. :) (less)
I had not been conversant with the ins and outs of the War of the Roses before reading this book. It was informative, explaining much about English hi...moreI had not been conversant with the ins and outs of the War of the Roses before reading this book. It was informative, explaining much about English history that I knew I needed to know but didn't. Weir's history, is, as always, reliable and clear.(less)
Though the scholarship was excellent - as Alison Weir's histories always are - I felt a bit underwhelmed. For a book bearing Eleanor's name, there was...moreThough the scholarship was excellent - as Alison Weir's histories always are - I felt a bit underwhelmed. For a book bearing Eleanor's name, there was a great deal here that didn't involve her. (less)
First, check out this cover. It's a great cover. Please note the falling stars in the black shadow of the person. And that white? It's not what you mi...moreFirst, check out this cover. It's a great cover. Please note the falling stars in the black shadow of the person. And that white? It's not what you might think! Read the book and draw your own conclusion. I did!
Second, this is a book set (mostly) in York and that vicinity. I have never been to England and am not always conversant with English terms, but this is a story written by an Englishwoman and once I remembered the American equivalents for "jumper" and "torch" and "boot" I did better.
Birbeck starts her readers off with a preface that is ominous but intriguing. A child's view of her mother putting her to bed seems innocuous enough, but the line "I had never seen my mother cry before that night," puts a bit of a spin on it. The preface is important, of course, but it won't really make sense for quite some time...and this is a good thing. The intrigue is important.
The descriptions of this book, given in the voice of our nineteen-year-old heroine, are fun and contemporary and eminently readable.
...her already tiny purple skirt riding up somewhere between too short and illegal.
...refers to one of Jennifer's housemates, Alexis, who is a college student with an eye for bright fashion moments.
Another lovely image Birbeck gives us is this:
The night sky exploded to life with the absence of light. Stars greedily stole the light from the Earth and gave it back to us with a silvery hint.
This terrific image is especially effective becomes it comes after a terrifying shockwave has apparently taken out the power following what seems to have been a meteorite landing on the earth. There is fear, but there is also beauty in our heroine's eyes and that's a lovely sequence.
Birbeck's story here is pretty basic. There's a supernatural "bad thing" of sorts and a young human (Jennifer) knows how to make it better by virtue of both who she is and what she knows. Jennifer is joined by her housemates and the young man whom she fancies (surprise! it's mutual!) and the four of them have to deal with a lot of heavy, earth-shaking stuff in a very short period of time. These things include the loss of Jennifer's dad (he abandoned the family when she was little), the appearance of the glowing people mentioned in the blurb above, the very human reactions all over to the invasion of these people, and so on. There is violence (muted), terror, and suspense.
The author is also good about giving us some smiles, though, in the midst of all of this. The relationship between Jennifer and Dale is sweet. At times, it seems to move too fast, but I reminded myself that in times of stress, life is lived in large gulps and small moments and emotions can be forged into tight bonds in short order. There are also interesting characters we meet along the way, like the candy store owners, who remind us that a bright spot can always be found.
Jennifer had to learn these things, too, and also had to learn about herself.
[Dale] cut me off with a kiss. "It's as good as family. We're not blood, but blood counts for nothing when you abandon it."
His words reminded me that as much as I wanted to be an island, my friends were the waves, caressing the edges of my life every day.
The story took an unusual turn that I won't spoil for you here. But it put a different perspective on a lot of things, including cosmology, that I am not sure I personally could get behind. But, it is Science FICTION, after all, and that smooths a lot of wrinkles.
This was an entertaining read and suited the genre well. There's romance, there's unresolved sexual tension, there's a carefully limited cast of characters that we need to keep track of while exploring the world the way Michelle Birbeck is presenting it, here. Will it end the way you expected? Probably not—I know I was surprised!
But being surprised is a good thing. I hope you'll discover this, too. My thanks to the author and TWCS Publishing House for the complimentary review copy.(less)
T.M. Franklin has written a charming, involving, adorable story about an imaginative, methodical teenage boy with goals, dreams, and the determination...moreT.M. Franklin has written a charming, involving, adorable story about an imaginative, methodical teenage boy with goals, dreams, and the determination to make them happen.
My first feeling after reading this fantastic YA is that EVERY girl should have someone like Oliver at some point in their lives. Someone who cares enough about them to be purposeful in getting to know them. Sure, Oliver has a list—I myself am a firm believer in using lists for projects—but he makes lists because things matter to him and he is a thorough fellow. And Ainsley Bishop totally matters to Oliver Holmes.
The course of true love never did run smooth, Lysander says in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and that is the case here. Ainsley, while pretty awesome, has issues of her own that she has to struggle with and Oliver doesn't get to stand idly by while that happens.
It isn't easy, but as he acknowledges to himself, she is worth it.
I so appreciate that Franklin gives Oliver a stable family. Perfect? No, but it's real and honest and sweet. His best friend is a great guy without overwhelming issues, too. Ainsley's issues are lessened when she starts acting on them. So, this is a group of young people without enormous amounts of drama. They're just young and growing up and finding that they can affect their own destinies.
A terrific story. I laughed. I cried (serious sniffling and cleaning of my glasses were necessary). I completely enjoyed this story and will do so again and again, I'm absolutely certain.
I had seen the movie with Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr., but had never read the book. Didn't even know there was a book out there.
The book is v...moreI had seen the movie with Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr., but had never read the book. Didn't even know there was a book out there.
The book is very different, but I found it highly enjoyable. The Irkmaan and the Drac are stranded on a planet alien to them both, but they forge a friendship trusty enough that Davidge (the human) is entrusted with the care of his friend's child.
I was moved by the commitment Davidge displayed as well as the trust shown to him. The end - well, I won't spoil it for you, but it made me smile.
For a story of this length (90 pages in my book) it told a story rich in lessons, in nuance, and in rough emotion.
For those who like this genre? This is a recommended read.(less)
Acquired this story on the recommendation of a friend. :)
The premise is intriguing, but I felt that the presentation wasn't as gripping as it could ha...moreAcquired this story on the recommendation of a friend. :)
The premise is intriguing, but I felt that the presentation wasn't as gripping as it could have been. I kept waiting for the "telling" part on behalf of the eponymous subject of this work to be over to get to "the rest of the story". I was reminded of H.G. Wells' work, however, and this felt like it could have gone nicely into such a genre.(less)
I read this many, many years ago and loved the cover off of it.
Though it's decades old which might seem "too old" for such a story as this, and though...moreI read this many, many years ago and loved the cover off of it.
Though it's decades old which might seem "too old" for such a story as this, and though there is technology that might be considered outdated within the book, it still utterly works as a story because it talks about pride, at the heart of it. Pride and humanity. Two themes that are ageless.
That, and the possibilities of what people can do if they can afford it is still very, very frightening.
Outstanding work, in my opinion, with memorable characters. I have read this book front to back more than ten times and I can see myself doing so again. :)(less)
I've been a fan of Queen Elizabeth I for most of my life. Weir's biography does a thorough job of sharing with us Elizabeth in her strengths and weakn...moreI've been a fan of Queen Elizabeth I for most of my life. Weir's biography does a thorough job of sharing with us Elizabeth in her strengths and weaknesses, her triumphs and her follies.
No mean feat, let me tell you. Elizabeth's reign was long and beset by stresses internal and external. Weir manages to take the unwieldy topic and bring the reader through it with extraordinary detail, understanding, and profound respect.
A wonderful book for all who know, or want to know, Elizabeth I of England. (less)