Slightly silly, but a fun adventure story. Biggest downsides were that the story was slow at the beginning and that it never turned out to be as scary...moreSlightly silly, but a fun adventure story. Biggest downsides were that the story was slow at the beginning and that it never turned out to be as scary as I wanted or expected. Easy, quick read. The author clearly did a lot of research about the Titanic.(less)
A fun dual mystery set in 1920s London. This was my first introduction to Joe Sandilands of the Metropolitan Police and I found him to be an engaging...moreA fun dual mystery set in 1920s London. This was my first introduction to Joe Sandilands of the Metropolitan Police and I found him to be an engaging character. I also enjoyed Lily Wentworth, his partner, who is a rather kick-ass police officer. Throw in a mystery involving high profile murders and attempted murders (which ended a bit surprisingly) and a Romanov twist, and I sailed through it, thoroughly entertained. I'm making an effort to pick up some of the others in series, and hope they are as entertaining as this one.(less)
I was unexpectedly impressed by this little book, recounting the the life of the ocean liner Bavaria, later renamed Romantic. Based on the German line...moreI was unexpectedly impressed by this little book, recounting the the life of the ocean liner Bavaria, later renamed Romantic. Based on the German lines Imperator, Vaterland and Bismarck, the book was unexpectedly touching and sweet. I had a great deal of fun reading it, particularly since it concerns a period of history in which I am very interested and it is about ocean liners. This presents a very different outlook on both, and it was tremendously interesting.(less)
On the balance, I found my enjoying this book more than I didn't. The author has serious talent, and her ability to place...moreI received this as an e-ARC.
On the balance, I found my enjoying this book more than I didn't. The author has serious talent, and her ability to place the reader in the time and place she's writing about is astounding. You can almost smell the smoke, see the desolation, hear the cries and weeping. The Plum Tree has some of the best atmospheric and scenic writing I've ever read.
The characters, too, are engaging. I might be slightly biased - the experiences of the central family seem close (view spoiler)[(minus the heroine's stint in Dachau) (hide spoiler)] to the little my own Omi has described of her famiily's wartime experiences, and I empathized with them more than I might have done otherwise. The family seemed almost too squeaky clean, though. Possibly because they are the heroes, not one person in Christine's family even contemplates the Nazi rhetoric, which appeals to the reader but is possibly not entirely historically accurate.
Anyway, I became very fond of Christine, her sister Maria, and their mother. Their stories are each by turns heartbreaking and beautiful and it's very easy to get caught up in them. However, the secondary characters - Oma, Opa, and Kate, for example - were barely even present enough to register in my mind. They were only around in small ways to move the plot forward, then they disappeared, or so it seemed.
The main reason I gave this book three stars, as opposed to three and a half or four, is that I had a great deal of trouble with the pacing. Three or four years went by in less than 100 pages near the beginning and some scenes seemed to just drag on. There would be many pages between something happening, and then two or three very dramatic things would happen all at once. It was slightly disorientating and difficult to read through.
I also didn't particularly believe or care for the central romance, even though I really wanted to like it. In some places, particularly early on, the romance made sense, was even quite lovely, but there would be long stretches where I couldn't quite believe that a romance would work. (view spoiler)[There's a period of what seems to be several years when Issac and Christine wouldn't speak, even in secret, even though they are in the same town still. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, a good book. The scenes set in Dachau were particularly, almost brilliantly, well-written, and I would suggest the book for that part alone. The pacing seems off, but the writer is great at setting the tone of the scene. You feel as if you are really there with Christine. Slightly uneven overall, but still good; the author's clearly got a lot of talent.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Did the author do any historical research? It was pretty off-putting to wade through several glaring errors. The characters were bland and the two mai...moreDid the author do any historical research? It was pretty off-putting to wade through several glaring errors. The characters were bland and the two main female protagonists were nearly interchangeable to boot. Not recommended.(less)
I heard about this book here and received a sneak peek copy from NetGalley. Boy, does it live up to the hype. It took me a little bit of time to get i...moreI heard about this book here and received a sneak peek copy from NetGalley. Boy, does it live up to the hype. It took me a little bit of time to get into it, but once I did, I was so immersed in the story I didn't want to leave. The premise itself is enticingly original - the Archive, Histories, Keepers and a whole secret world that shadows our own. I loved the Coronado and I absolutely cannot wait until Jan. 22 to read the rest and watch Mackenzie figure out the mysteries in that building.
Mackenzie, her parents, Wes, Roland, Lyndsey - all of the main and supporting characters are wonderfully drawn. They feel like real people - not perfect, but intriguingly flawed. I may have developed a major soft spot for Roland already.
This was an amazing sneak peek - the first part of the book (that I was able to see) has just enough action and development to draw someone in. I've already preordered the book so that I can find out what happens. Hopefully, the rest of The Archived lives up to the promise of the first 100 pages or so.(less)
I really, really wanted to like this book. I loved the concept - three teens wi...more**spoiler alert** 2-2.5 Stars/5
Note: I received an eARC from NetGalley.
I really, really wanted to like this book. I loved the concept - three teens with an exotic disease roam the streets and inadvertently see something wrong in an apartment while doing Parkour. It has so much potential to be an incredibly fun read, with the teenagers investigating, but being hampered by their XP.
However, I had a lot of trouble getting into the book. I positively slogged through and could never really relate to the characters or to their problems or inhabit their world. My favorite books pull me into the story and refuse to let me go, even if I have to go and get actual work done. I think about the book long after it's put away and can't wait to get back to it. With this book, I found excuses to not pick it up.
Allie and Juliet are reasonably well-drawn characters. Rob seemed to be little more than a cardboard cutout, placed there solely so Allie could angst over him. The mini love triangle that devolves into an odd romance between Allie and Rob just didn't work for me - one moment Rob's in love with Juliet and the next with Allie? It just seemed unnecessary to me. I have never been a teenage boy, so maybe I just don't get it, but Rob never made sense to me as a character and this was one large reason why. Furthermore, many of the motivations for characters' actions were complete mysteries to me - I could not relate to them at all, let along figure out their thinking process.
Anyway, the supporting characters were practically non-existent - they were there but showed little substance. Allie's little sister, her mother, her mother's friend, the pizza man, even the murderer himself never really came alive for me. They could have just as easily not been in the book at all. And while I can understand why and how a teenage character might be slightly self-centered and so other characters might suffer in an unreliable narrator-type situation, when the book ends and I don't have much sense or opinion about the main antagonist, I feel like that's a failure on the writer's part.
The pacing and the writing itself bothered me as well. The pacing of the mystery and the suspense seemed off, for some reason, for the entire book. Nothing that I can put my finger on, but the actions would have these periods where it slowed almost to a crawl; maybe the reason the read was hard for me to get through? On a side note: I'm not an expert in Parkour, but it seems unlikely that three teenagers could become so very good at the discipline in about three months - that stretched the bounds of my willing suspension of disbelief. Back to the point, the writing seems to twist back on and almost repeat itself - I had a couple of deja vu-like moments. The book itself had too many loose ends at the end; I would have loved some resolution, even with the cliff-hanger ending.
The stars I did give to it were for the concept and for Allie. Sometimes she and her actions didn't make a whit of sense to me, but I genuinely liked the character and her spunkiness. I'm giving it two stars, rather than rounding up to three because I was disappointed in the execution of this interesting and different premise.
Unfortunately, I do not think I can recommend this book, and I will likely not pick up what appears the intended sequel.(less)
I have a bit of a confession to make - I love the Phryne Fisher...more**spoiler alert** 3.5/5 stars rounded up to four.
I received this e-ARC from NetGalley.
I have a bit of a confession to make - I love the Phryne Fisher mysteries in general, and Unnatural Habits, the nineteenth entry into the series, did not let me down.
The Hon. Miss Phryne Fisher is one of the best of the post-WWI sleuthing heroines - she is witty, smart, charming and extremely good at her job. Though there are some small allusions to other books or information that could be gleaned over the course of the series, Unnatural Habits is also suitable for a newcomer to the series. The recurring characters are all well-introduced and the mystery is self-contained. It also twisty and fun as well, involving missing pregnant girls, a missing journalist, socialists, white slavery, very terrible nuns and very vengeful 'nuns.' As expected, I had a great time following the clues along with Phryne and her minions.
I only had one small problem with the story itself - one thread of the mystery was tied up a bit too neatly in my opinion and involved a character whose very characterization in the early going makes them an unlikely candidate to be involved, in my opinion. Aside from this small niggle, this was a thoroughly enjoyable book and a lot of fun to read.
I would recommend to anyone that enjoys the Phryne Fisher series, or the Maisie Dobbs and Daisy Dalrymple series.(less)
3.5/5 stars, rounded up to 4. I received this book from NetGalley.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I would highly recommend it for lovers of D...more3.5/5 stars, rounded up to 4. I received this book from NetGalley.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I would highly recommend it for lovers of Downton Abbey or any costume drama - it is wonderful fun for people who enjoy those sorts of shows.
Yes, it is a bit soapy. Yes, there are some instances of insta-love (a writing device I absolutely hate - where the protagonist meets someone and can tell instantly they're soul mates and destined to be), and a rather weakly developed mystery (view spoiler)[involving Prudence's mother and Victoria and Rowena's aunt (hide spoiler)] that is solved very quickly in the last few pages. These things fail to distract from what I thought to be the real story - the interplay between the girls and the family as everyone finds their place, which was handled very well. I adored all of the small intrigues and betrayals; it made this book very fun to read.
Each of the three girls - Prudence, Victoria and Rowena - have the opportunity to tell the story from their own perspective. At the beginning, all three are difficult to tell apart - none has her own voice. They are almost interchangeable. However, as the book continues and the characters arrive at Summerset Abbey, each girl grows apart and each becomes a distinct voice in her own right.
I really liked Rowena and Prudence. Rowena, particularly, was very interesting, as she starts to investigate life outside her own family. (view spoiler)[The flying scene was a delight, as was her love interest, Jon (hide spoiler)] Prudence has the lion's share of the drama, and there were a couple of small twists to her story that surprised me. I was thinking one thing happened, but something completely different occurred. Prudence's ending was a bit of a shock as well - I didn't see it coming in this book, knowing this is a planned trilogy.
Victoria, the younger sister, was less intriguing to me, despite having an excellent story. She vacillated wildly between sounding very young for her eighteen years and sounding very wise, indeed, which was disconcerting.
I was a little disappointed by the characterization of the Buxton cousins, Colin and Elaine. Both seemed very interesting, but they along with their Cunning Coterie, were underused and underdeveloped. I'm hoping to see more from and about them, as they intersect with the main characters.
Anyway, this was a fun, easy read that reminded me very much of Downton Abbey. The writer had clearly done some research as to the Edwardian era and discussed this in her author's note at the end.
I would recommend this book, and will likely be looking for its sequels when they appear later next year.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I decided to save my review for the last book, for the entire series, which is overall one of the best I've read in a long time. I ripped through all...moreI decided to save my review for the last book, for the entire series, which is overall one of the best I've read in a long time. I ripped through all four books in about four days, which goes to show just how much I loved it.
The two main characters, Raisa ana'Marianna and Han Alister, were well-developed the entire way. Raisa grows from a young woman, perhaps selfish and a little silly, though with a lot of potential to a great queen. Han grows into himself - going from reformed thief to powerful wizard and councilor to the queen. With both characters, the potential was there from the beginning and Cinda Williams Chima allows her characters to grow up in more or less realistic ways during the course of the books.
One small quibble is that it seems far-fetched that Han, who is a product of the streets, can, with only one year of education, outwit all of the politicians that populate Raisa's court.
The supporting characters, such as Bird, Averill, Willo, Cat and Dancer were wonderful, as well. I cared as much about their stories as I did with Raisa and Han's.
The world these characters inhabit is wonderfully drawn, realistic and magical at the same time. I could imagine the Fells and the rest of the Seven Realms - war torn Arden, lively Oden's Ford - even without the aid of the map provided before each book. The magical aspects, which can sometimes put me off a book, were practical even when they're fantastical. They feel rooted to the world and a natural part of it.
I rate the second book four rather than five stars. This was done because it started off quite slow and I had difficultly keeping to the book until we were introduced to Oden's Ford. However, Oden's Ford became one of my favorite settings in the series; I almost wish I could have seen more action there.
I was very sorry to put the last book down. Cinda Willims Chima has done an amazing job. Recommended.(less)