I read and really enjoyed Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy a couple of years ago, so I was interested in reading more of what the author had to ofI read and really enjoyed Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy a couple of years ago, so I was interested in reading more of what the author had to offer.
Walk on Earth a Stranger is completely different to The Girl of Fire and Thorns, though. Based on actual historical events (the California gold rush, and people making their way through America's vast wilderness), Walk on Earth a Stranger sets a very different tone. There are still little bits of fantasy woven into the story, mostly in the form of Lee's ability to sense gold, but the historical aspect is the important one here.
I went into the book expecting to actually see some of what was going on in California at that time, but it turns out that that's being held for the second book. The first book is all about the journey from Georgia to California.
At the start of the story, Leah Westfall is living in Dahlonega with her parents, when the residents of the town hear about the California gold rush. Though her interest is piqued, she has no intent of actually going there. Following the murder of her parents, and her uncle's suspiciously timely appearance in her life, she feels she has nothing left to keep her in Dahlonega, and California offers an escape from her uncle's machinations.
Her best friend already left in the pursuit of a better life on the other side of the country. She'd turned him down when he'd asked her to join him, but now she's desperate to find him again. So she sets off after him. Of course, she cannot travel alone as a girl, so Leah becomes Lee, and she heads west.
The bulk of the story revolves around Lee's caravan of mismatched travellers as they make their way through the treacherous American wilderness. Staying true to history, not all who set out on the trip will make it to California, and not all threats come from the outside.
Despite the story not being quite what I'd expected, I really enjoyed it. The only big problem was that there were a lot of secondary characters in the caravan, and they weren't developed enough that I actually cared about them. Other than this, the story was very good, and I'm looking forward to reading books 2 and 3 later on this year....more
A few years ago I discovered Sherry Thomas when I picked up The Burning Sky. I adored it. Even when the final book of the trilogy took sappy to new leA few years ago I discovered Sherry Thomas when I picked up The Burning Sky. I adored it. Even when the final book of the trilogy took sappy to new levels, I still adored it. So when I saw that Sherry would be starting a new series in 2016, I decided to go for it.
For some reason, I went into this thinking it was YA. It isn’t. It opens with Charlotte Holmes becoming embroiled in a scandal when she is caught in flagrante delicto with a married man. She’s ruined now, of course, but she never wanted that life in the first place. So she sets out to find herself a job so she can have the means to support herself and two of her sisters in the coming years.
Charlotte is very intelligent. Intelligent to the point where she has trouble understanding the actions of “normal” people and cannot relate to them. But her intelligence also offers her insights into little puzzles. Insights that would otherwise have been overlooked. Insights like the connection between the three members of the aristocracy who recently all met their ends in a manner that could have been natural. Or it could have been murder.
I enjoyed Charlotte’s character. She’s hard to relate to, simply because she’s different. She’s sweet, and she’s willing to put everything into going after what she wants, even if it is sometimes to her detriment. She understands that life can’t only give you ups, and that there’s no point in being paralysed by the downs. You just have to keep taking steps forward.
The supporting characters were also very entertaining. Charlotte’s sister Olivia was a particular favourite of mine, though I also enjoyed the eccentric older lady who steps in to help Charlotte in her time of need - a certain Mrs John Watson. There are also a number of other characters who will certainly be of interest in the next books. I expect Lord Ingram in particular to play a bigger role in the next book, though I’ve not yet decided how exactly I feel about him. And the ending of this book introduces a new name that will surely also make a reappearance later on.
The whole narration is a little disconnected, which doesn’t always work for me, but I feel that that suits Charlotte’s personality very well. I'm looking forward to the next instalment!...more
The cover caught my eye first. And man, what a pretty cover!
Then I read some good reviews, and I thought to myself that I quite fancied an alternate hThe cover caught my eye first. And man, what a pretty cover!
Then I read some good reviews, and I thought to myself that I quite fancied an alternate history / fantasy read. So I went for it.
This story has all the necessary ingredients to produce a plot that I’ll be head-over-heels for. There’s an interesting and well-developed alternate history, enough information is given that at times I had to try to sift through what was fictional and what was based in reality. The magic system was interesting, if flawed (it just didn’t seem fully fleshed out to me, like there was something missing that would provide the final piece to the puzzle and it would all make more sense). I really liked the concept of the Hidden Ones, mythical beings with powers that haven’t yet been fully explored. There’s still plenty to come there, and they certainly piqued my interest.
It goes out of its way to tick a lot of other boxes too: a mixed-race heroine, Japanese and Chinese characters, a transgender man. The story tackles racism and sexism, though it seems to forget that those were the norms back in 1906.
However, the heroine is most definitely not at all a product of her time, which made her stick out like a sore thumb. The same can be said of her romantic interest. They were both so forward-thinking as to affect my reading. They just didn’t come across as people who could really have been walking the streets of San Francisco a century ago.
The insta-romance between the two characters didn’t allow me the time to become invested in their relationship, and that affected my interest in it. I much prefer when an author takes the time to develop a romance, rather than just tell the reader it’s there and expect them to just accept it.
Some of the characters were very interesting. I especially liked Lee and Fenris, both of whom could end up playing more important roles in the next books.
It took me a long time to read this book. I think it just didn’t succeed in keeping my interest very well a lot of the time, and I think that was more to do with the characters than the setting. For me, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. However, I can quite imagine that it will really appeal to some readers who are looking for different things in a story than I am....more
I came across The Dark Days Club at my local bookshop at some point last year. They don’t stock very many English language books, but I’m very glad thI came across The Dark Days Club at my local bookshop at some point last year. They don’t stock very many English language books, but I’m very glad they had this one. It was an impulse buy, but I adored the story. And I was left chomping at the bit, waiting for the second book to be released.
The Dark Days Pact is very different to The Dark Days Club. The rules of the supernatural side to life have been established, and the scene has been moved from London proper to Brighton. We’re no longer watching Helen navigate high society, but rather learn to navigate the truths of her new life as a Reclaimer.
I love the attention to detail that you see in Alison Goodman’s books. Her passion for history shines through, and I find that it affects me too as I’m reading. Alison brought 17th century Brighton to life for me, and the descriptions of the streets Helen walked and buildings she entered really helped in that regard. I especially enjoyed the parts of the story where Helen is exploring a shadier area of the town, an area outside of her comfort zone.
The story is just as strong in this instalment as it was in the previous one. There are differences, for example we don’t get to see much of Helen’s quick intellect, mostly because she’s no longer in a setting where she feels comfortable and she’s got to find her own legs again. We also don’t see much interaction between Helen and Carlston, since Carlston is struggling with his own problems. But we do get to see the friendship between Helen and Darby (I love the interactions between those two characters), and we get to meet Delia (who played an absentee role in the previous book ). I also really liked the friendship between Helen and Mr Hammond.
Other than the obvious threat of the Deceivers, Helen is constantly finding herself struggling against men who, as products of their time, are constantly trying to steer her and interfere in her life. I enjoyed reading about her frustrations as she tried to figure out how best to get these men to understand that she is the Reclaimer, not they, and thus she is better equipped to deal with dangerous situations. At the end of the book, it felt like she’d come to a decision about how she would allow these men to treat her, and I’m very interested to see how that develops in the final book.
There are also some revelations made at the end of this book, which are going to have great influence on the events of the third book. I’m very intrigued to see how they will play out.
Now I just have to wait patiently for another year…...more
This was my 8th Heyer read and I'm sorry to say that it's my least favourite thus far.
In this case, I went into the book expecting to read Horatia andThis was my 8th Heyer read and I'm sorry to say that it's my least favourite thus far.
In this case, I went into the book expecting to read Horatia and Rule's story as they go from a marriage of convenience to a real marriage. Instead, you don't really get to see all that much of Horatia and Rule, especially in the first half of the book, as the story is mostly told through the conversations taking place between side characters.
Furthermore, as soon as the marriage has actually taken place, Horatia's delightful character presented in the first chapter morphs into a very unlikeable spoilt brat - she's spending huge amounts of her husband's money on frivolities, gambling away yet more of his money at the card tables, and if he so much as hints that he would appreciate she act in a particular manner, she obstinately does everything in her power to act in the opposite manner. She came across as a foolish child and I came to dislike her immensely. Rule didn't appeal to me much either; I never felt like we got to know the real him because he hid behind games and lazy smiles.
Even when you get to the second half and you start to see more of Horatia and Rule allowing you to start to understand the two of them a little more, things didn't pick up much. Horatia's suddenly in love with Rule, and I didn't understand why because no attention had been given to the growth of their relationship. Moreover, the second half of the story is dominated by Horatia's brother Pel and though he was an entertaining character, he was a bit lourd. I'd quite had enough of his antics by the end of it all.
Heyer's fabulous style was the only saving grace here, and it couldn't save everything. Oh well, it won't put me off trying again with another novel at a later date....more
The Hanged Man has a lot of elements that tick all the boxes that appeal to me. I dithered about purchasing the book due to the price, but once that wThe Hanged Man has a lot of elements that tick all the boxes that appeal to me. I dithered about purchasing the book due to the price, but once that went down a bit I went for it. I'm very glad that I did.
There's a murder investigation, there are paranormal elements, there's the historical aspect, and there's just a smidgen of romance. Mix it all together and you've got a beaut of story. It drew me in from the very beginning, and kept my interest right through to the end.
By the end of the book, everything related to this particular murder investigation is wrapped up, but it's open-ended and obviously intended for a sequel. Unfortunately, Tor don't seem to be in a rush to actually publish the sequel. Hopefully we'll get it one day....more
Before I get into the story, I want to note that William Brown, this story’s hero shares a name with Just William(BroSomewhere beteen 2.5 and 3 stars.
Before I get into the story, I want to note that William Brown, this story’s hero shares a name with Just William(Brown). I’m not sure if this was done purposely (considering the fact that Just William isn’t exactly popular anymore, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was just a coincidence.)
What we have here is a time travel story where the 21st century protagonist is sent back to the Victorian era (1873) to repair a rip in the time and space continuum (not sure it was actually called this). She accepts the mission to be sent back in time thinking she’ll get to play the part of a lady of the ton, but instead finds herself cast as a maid in William Brown’s household.
At this point, the reader doesn’t just have to suspend their disbelief, but actually turn off their brain in order to keep from nit-picking the story apart. Eliza is just too 21st century, and she doesn’t make an effort to tone things down (swearing, calling her master by his first name, singing 21st century songs, etc.). The slang that was used and the songs that were referenced really made me think that this lass is still caught up in 2005 rather than with the rest of us in 2015. (Side note: I don’t know what the enduring popularity of My Chemical Romance is like in the USA, but in my area they made a little bit of a splash when pop-punk was a popular wave, then receded into obscurity very soon after that.)
Furthermore, there are a lot of events that take place that are not believable. Foremost, an American heiress would never have invited a mere maid to a ball.
Despite this, so long as my brain was taking a nap, I enjoyed the story to a certain extent.
It should be noted that this story’s “hero”, William Brown, is an extreme case of Beta-maleness. The title “Not Quite Darcy” is very misleading. William Brown is the opposite of Darcy. It was interesting to read about a male romantic interest other than an Alpha male, but the comparison to Darcy isn’t in his favour – it creates expectations that he does not fulfil....more
I read this book when it was beautiful weather outside and I think that affected my enjoyment of it. It would have been a much more atmospheric read iI read this book when it was beautiful weather outside and I think that affected my enjoyment of it. It would have been a much more atmospheric read if it had been overcast or wet. ...more
Last year I read Deception's Princess because the concept of it made me think of Warrior Daughter by Janet Paisley, one of my favourite books. It turnLast year I read Deception's Princess because the concept of it made me think of Warrior Daughter by Janet Paisley, one of my favourite books. It turned out these two books are vastly different, but I enjoyed Deception's Princess well enough to want to see how Maeve's story would conclude in the second book of her duology.
Unfortunately, I find myself vastly disappointed.
Maeve's story was always going to be about Maeve freeing herself of the prejudices against females that are present in her society, and ultimately that's what this book is about, but when Maeve gets that far I didn't really feel like she'd done anything to deserve it.
Instead of the book being about Maeve's struggle to be seen as a leader in her own right, the vast majority of the book is essentially Mean Girls set in Iron Age Ireland. And it got old really fast.
Beyond that, I felt like unimportant aspects of the story were given a lot of attention, whereas those where I wanted to know more about events taking placed tended to be glossed over.
I'm sorry to say that I didn't really enjoy this one. I expected so much more from the mighty Queen Medb of mythology....more
I love Amelia's character. I especially love the way she reacts to Emerson's frequent outbursts. This is a good mystery, but it's wrapped up in an evenI love Amelia's character. I especially love the way she reacts to Emerson's frequent outbursts. This is a good mystery, but it's wrapped up in an even better historical. Elizabeth Peters really brings Egypt of the late 19th century to life. She, via Amelia, is so passionate about it that I also become passionate about it....more
I can understand why some Heyer fans didn't enjoy this one as much as some of her other work, but Lady of Quality worked really well for me. In this cI can understand why some Heyer fans didn't enjoy this one as much as some of her other work, but Lady of Quality worked really well for me. In this case, I liked that the relationship was cemented part way through the novel, thus allowing for some exploration of "post courtship".
A different secondary relationship, between the younger characters (a staple part of Heyer's novels), was explored here as well.
* It became very preachy very quickly. The relationship became about God rather than about the two charI did not really like this one for two reasons:
* It became very preachy very quickly. The relationship became about God rather than about the two characters, which is really not what I'm after. I don't mind if God plays a minor role, but if God hijacks the whole thing, it's lost me.
* There was just far too much pushed into this plot, which left it very disjointed. The author tried to tackle so many plot points that none of them received the time of day that they deserved and she didn't seem to know if she was coming or going. ...more
A few years ago, I had a "cosy mystery phase". I discovered Amelia Peabody at that time, but didn't read it until a few years later.
I have to say, I fA few years ago, I had a "cosy mystery phase". I discovered Amelia Peabody at that time, but didn't read it until a few years later.
I have to say, I found Amelia to be absolutely delightful as a character. She's no-nonsense and believes in practicality over emotions (that isn't to say she doesn't feel emotions, as she does; she's just very good at compartmentalising them when necessary.)
The mystery presented is good, but Amelia is the one that makes the unravelling of the mystery itself fabulous....more
The opening is catchy and makes sure that the reader is interested right off the bat. The main character didn't always work for me and I found the romThe opening is catchy and makes sure that the reader is interested right off the bat. The main character didn't always work for me and I found the romance to be a bit heavy-handed.
At times I wasn't as caught up in the story as I would have liked to be, but I enjoyed it well enough....more